India Latest News

Yogi Adityanath in Delhi to meet Modi, Shah amid speculations

New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath reached Delhi for a two-day visit to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Amit Shah and senior leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The meeting comes in the backdrop of speculation that the BJP central leadership has concerns over the UP government‘s handling of the Covid-19 crisis.

There are also reports of friction within the state unit which escalated to the Centre. BJP general secretary organisation BL Santhosh was in Uttar Pradesh earlier this month to meet party leaders and ministers to hear their concerns as the state prepares for the 2022 assembly elections.

The central leadership has, however, ruled out any change in state leadership, throwing their weight behind the Yogi Adityanath administration. The central leadership had also ruled out any change in the organisational structure of the party and said any change to the council of ministers would be carried out following consultation with the chief minister.

Following his UP visit, Santhosh had praised the UP government’s efforts during the pandemic. In two tweets, he said the UP administration, within a period of five weeks, reduced the daily case count by 93%. He also praised the decision to vaccinate parents of children below 12 years of age, calling it a wise move considering speculation that if the pandemic’s third wave hits it may affect children more.

Santhosh had taken feedback from the state ministers and MLAs, which had fuelled speculation about possible changes in the party’s Uttar Pradesh set up.

Media reports said that based on the feedback collected by the central leadership, it has been decided to go for a reshuffle in the Uttar Pradesh government as well as in the party’s state unit.

The sources also said that the role of former Union minister Jitin Prasada, who jumped ship from the Congress to the BJP, will also be discussed during Adityanath’s meetings with the central BJP leadership.

A well-known Brahmin face in Uttar Pradesh, Prasada’s father Jitendra Prasad was a prominent Brahmin leader in Uttar Pradesh.

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Books Latest News

Uttar Pradesh CM launches Global Encyclopedia of Ramayana

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath launched the Global Encyclopedia of the Ramayana on March 6 in Lucknow and said that this epic and the Mahabharata give the best life lessons.

Stories in Hindu epics help us envision a better India, he said.

Asserting that historical facts cannot be denied, the chief minister said still there are some people who raise questions on the existence of Lord Ram in Ayodhya.

Launching the encyclopedia in an e-book format prepared by the Ayodhya Research Institute, the chief minister said the construction of the grand Ram temple at Ayodhya makes this launch of the Global Encyclopedia of Ramayana more special.

“This encyclopedia will motivate us to visit Ayodhya as it will introduce all to the untouched aspects of science and spirituality,” he said.

“There are Sapta Puri, seven holy cities, which are considered as the holiest Hindu pilgrimage sites. Out of these, Ayodhya, Mathura and Kashi are in Uttar Pradesh. It is a matter of pride for us that a workshop has been organized by the Department of Culture, in collaboration with the Ministry of External Affairs,” he said.

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India Latest News

Modi stresses on unity for ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ goal

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday emphasized on the need of unity in the country to achieve the goal of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ and make India a great power in the world.

Addressing people in Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur at the Centenary celebrations of ‘Chauri Chaura’ incident through video conference, the Prime Minister said unity had helped us to achieve freedom from the British rule and it will also help us in achieving our goal for ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’.

“The power of unity that broke the chains of slavery, the same power will also make India the great power in the world. This power of unity is the basic foundation of self-reliant India,” the Prime Minister said.

Greeting the locals in Gorakhpur in the regional Bhojpuri language to connect with them, Modi said the government’s aim to make India self-reliant was for the welfare of 130-crore Indians as well as for the benefit of the world.

Modi also explained how India dispatched necessary medicines to the people across the world during Covid-19 crisis and that the country also played a major role in bringing back Indians from over 50 different countries during the pandemic period. “India also sent foreigners to their countries during the period,” the Prime Minister further said.

“Currently”, Modi said, “India has been manufacturing Covid-19 vaccine and has established itself on top in inoculation of these vaccines”.

He said our freedom fighters would have been feeling proud to see India providing vaccines to foreign countries amid this crisis situation.

Modi also mentioned that there is a need for extraordinary efforts to make this campaign a success.

Mentioning the importance of Budget 2021 presented in Parliament on February 1, the Prime Minister said there is a glimpse of government’s effort in this Budget and it will give a “new boost” to the steps taken to deal with the challenges during the Covid-19 crisis.

Modi took part in the Chauri Chaura centenary celebrations which will be celebrated in all schools across the state throughout the year from Thursday (February 4) at 75 districts of Uttar Pradesh.

The year-long celebrations will feature drawing, poster and quiz contests as well as slogan and poetry writing, speech and essay writing competitions.

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India Latest News

Who is responsible for sexual violence in India?

Intro: We should have the courage to ask what is wrong with us before asking what is wrong with our country

By Mathew Joys

“Gods are extremely happy where women are respected, where they are not, all good works will be fruitless”. (Yatra nāryastu pūjyante ramante tatra devatāḥ/yatraitāstu na pūjyante sarvāstatrāphalāḥ kriyāḥ – Manusmriti).

“Manusmṛiti’ is an influential social text that has molded much of social behavior and practices of Hindu society in India. In the past century, it has been grossly criticized for political and sectarian reasons by people who don’t understand Sanskrit or have no compassion. The fact is, our tradition says unequivocally that we have to respect women.

We have for centuries proclaimed proudly that India is a country that respects and protects women and children. Even the Indian Constitution – Article 15 (3) – instructs the state to create special provisions for protecting the interests of women and children. That is why Parliament instituted Child Rights and Child Protection Committees, and Women’s Protection Boards for these two vulnerable groups.

 Yet, unfortunately, almost every day lately Indian news media carries ghoulish reports of young girls raped, children kidnapped and molested — often brutally killed or bodies burnt to destroy evidence of the heinous crimes. The most shocking abomination which continues to hog headlines is  of course the murderous gang rape of a 19-year-old girl from Hathras in Uttar Pradesh.

In 2014, Narendra Modi came to power pledging zero tolerance to violence against women after the 2012 brutal gang rape of Nirbhaya in Delhi shocked the nation. But India is still the most dangerous country in the world to be a woman, according to a 2018 survey of experts by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, which cited sexual violence, cultural traditions and human trafficking as the main reasons for the ranking.  So, nothing seems to have changed since Nirbhaya’s rape-death which hit international headlines.

In Hathras on 14 September, a Dalit girl was allegedly gang-raped by four upper-caste men. After fighting for her life for two weeks, she died in a Delhi hospital. Not only the police made no arrests for 10 days, they forcibly cremated her body without the consent of her family. The case and its mishandling continue to provoke widespread condemnation and protests.

The problem is not confined to the underdeveloped parts of India. In Kerala, in a shocking incident on September 6, a Covid patient was sexually abused by the driver of the ambulance carrying her to the hospital in Pathanamthhitta district.

Government statistics reveal how widespread the problem is. A woman is raped in India every 20 minutes. The country is ranked third in rape cases after US and Africa. Sexual violence on Dalit women is imposed systematically as punishment and dominance by the men of superior castes.

None of this should be seen as a matter of law and order only. It needs a total society approach in coordination with the government and voluntary sector.

What is worse is that sexual violence against women and children also takes place within the four walls of the home, at some houses of worship, at the workplace, and in schools.

The need of the hour is public awareness and our spiritual upliftment as an educated, civilized and gender equitable society. Those who need to be protected as per the Indian constitution are still crying for justice and protection after seven decades. In a progressive society, the women and children should be put in the circle of respect and protection, and nurtured with loving care.

A society and nation without gender justice can never be said to go on the path of development, as Manusmriti reminds us. The responsibility to affect systemic changes for the well-being and better future for all falls upon us. We should have the courage to ask what is wrong with us before asking what is wrong with our country?

(The Las Vegas-based writer is Vice Chairman of Indo-American Press Club).

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India Latest News

Hathras: Making a mockery of the idea of justice

By Barkha Dutt

There is so much noise over the horror of what has happened in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh (UP), that it is difficult to believe that a week ago, the family of the 19-year-old Dalit victim was running from town to town, hospital to hospital, police station to police station, ignored, overlooked, forgotten.

The Hathras rape — and despite the sudden counter-claim by the UP police, I will call it exactly that because it was in the dying testimony of the victim — has represented the failure of every institution in India. Whether it is the police, the bureaucracy, the politicians — we have all failed.

From being on the margins of public attention, Hathras is now in danger of being reduced to a noisy, unfeeling spectacle.

The egregious behavior of the UP police has been the most brazen. The undercover cremation of this young woman, forcibly executed by the police by keeping her parents out, was just the first illustration of callous unprofessionalism.

Lawyers and senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officers say that for a senior police officer to give a statement that “no rape took place” and make a forensics report public goes against all tenets of a rape investigation.

In the competitive finger-pointing between states, no one actually cares even a tiny bit about women, about Dalits or, indeed, about justice. The government’s own data points underscore the inanity of this whataboutery. National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) statistics released just a few days ago tell us that 87 rapes are reported every day in India and that crimes against women are up by 7.3%.

Remember, this is only counting the women who actually decide to speak out. For anyone who thinks that sexual violence is not compounded by class and caste, here is a fact; 10 Dalit women are raped every day, making up 11% of the reported cases.

UP tops the list of crimes against women and the girl child. Rajasthan tops the list of states with the most number of rapes; 18% of all rape cases in UP are that of Dalit women, compared to 9% in Rajasthan. A third of all rapes of Dalit women have been reported from Rajasthan and UP. So, everyone should spare us the political slugfest because it is just a convenient and noisy excuse to not do anything to make India safer for women.

The institutional response to sexual violence is critical. On this score, the UP police has covered itself in shame. At every turn, they have robbed the family of its agency to make key decisions.

I am not a big fan of politicians turning tragedy into opportunity, but I believe that which politician a victim’s family wants to meet is entirely their decision. Blocking Opposition politicians such as Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi from making a trip to Hathras and shoving them around on the expressway is just wrong. It’s for the family, not the police, to turn the Gandhis away, should they so wish.

So far, we are making a mockery of the idea of justice. Soon, this headline will fade and we will all move on. Till the next horror strikes us. And it will.

(The article appeared in The Hindustan Times)

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India Latest News

UP gangrape brings focus back on crime against women

Greater Noida: High drama prevailed on Thursday after Uttar Pradesh Police personnel pushed former Congress President Rahul Gandhi on the ground near the Yamuna Expressway and detained him along with his sister and party General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, while they were walking towards Hathras to meet the family of the rape victim, party leaders claimed.

Gandhi, along with his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and other senior leaders had left Delhi on Thursday to meet the family of the Hathras rape victim.

However, they began marching towards Hathras after their vehicle was stopped near the Yamuna Expressway.

Later Rahul Gandhi told the media, “Just now police pushed me, lathi-charged me and threw me on the ground. I want to ask, can only (Narendra) Modiji walk in this country? Can’t a normal person walk? Our vehicle was stopped, so we started walking.”

Ranvijay Singh, Additional DCP, Gautam Budh Nagar, said Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi have been detained.

Singh further said that Rahul and Priyanka won’t be allowed to proceed further as the police have a letter from DM Hathras saying that if they visit the village, it may disturb the law and order situation in the district.

Uttar Pradesh Police Personnel also told Gandhi that his sister and he have been taken into custody as they were marching in an area where section 144 has been imposed.

The section relates to assembly of not more than five people at one place.

Rahul Gandhi said that even if Section 144 had been imposed, he will walk alone towards Hathras to meet the family of the rape victim.

The Congress leaders claimed that the police had arrested Rahul and Priyanka and taken them to the Budh International Circuit guest house.

Before being detained, the Congress leaders had a heated exchange with police personnel and enquired about the grounds on which they were being arrested.

Rahul Gandhi, along with Priyanka, Randeep Singh Surjewala, Rajiv Shukla and several other top leaders was walking towards Hathras to meet the family of the victims a day after the last rites of the rape victim were allegedly performed during the night in the absence of her family members.

Yogi calls up Hathras victim’s father, announces SIT probe

Lucknow: Amid an uproar over the cremation of the body of a Dalit gang-rape victim early on Wednesday, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath spoke to the 19-year-old woman’s father in Hathras district and offered his condolences.

He also announced a compensation of Rs 25 lakh to the bereaved family, apart from a job to one of its members. The family would also be given a house.

The victim’s father sought the harshest punishment for the four accused arrested for the crime reported on September 14. The young woman had died in a Delhi hospital on Tuesday and her body was allegedly cremated forcibly by Hathras police on the night of September 29-30.

Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Avanish Awasthi said that the Chief Minister assured the woman’s father of the most stringent action against the culprits and all possible help to the family.

Earlier in the day, the CM set up a Special Investigation Team led by Home Secretary Bhagwan Swaroop to probe and submit a report on the crime in seven days.

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Latest News USA

IOC, USA condemns Hathras rape and murder

Indian Overseas Congress, USA has condemned the horrific rape and murder of Manisha Valmiki of Hathras, Uttar Pradesh. “The barbarity and the bestiality involved in the killing show the depraved and criminal mindsets of those who perpetrated such heinous acts against a Dalit woman who is from the lowest rung of India’s caste system. The ghastly way this woman was raped and murdered has indeed shaken the nation to its core and terrorized the people of conscience across the world,” it said in a press release.  

“Mr. Yogi Adityanath, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, it is your party which is in power. Given your supremacy within the party in U.P. and the centralized control you exercise, you more than anyone else have to be held responsible for this terrifying state of affairs,” said George Abraham, Vice-Chairman of the Indian Overseas Congress, USA.  

“while you have ordered an inquiry, Mr. Chief Minister, you haven’t taken any steps to cure this rape culture in your state or shown any resolve to change the social, political, and administrative conditions under which such anti-Dalit hatred is bred,” said Mohinder Singh Gilzian, President of the Indian Overseas Congress, USA. “Your continuing inaction in this regard will gain you the title as the Chief administrator of the notorious Rape State in India,” Gilzian added.

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Bollywood Latest News

Bhandarkar meets Yogi, lauds film city plan in Noida

By The SATimes News Service

Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar on Sunday met Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath at the latter’s official residence in Lucknow to discuss Yogi’s announcement about the country’s “biggest and most beautiful film city” to be set up in Gautam Buddha Nagar district (NOIDA).

According to a government spokesman, Bhandarkar (‘Fashion’, ‘Heroine’, etc)  congratulated the chief minister for planning the film city and assured full cooperation from the film fraternity.

The spokesman said that the meeting assumes significance in the backdrop of the film city announcement.

Adityanath has asked officials to identify land suitable for the film city project in NCR.

“The CM announced to set up the biggest and most beautiful film city of the country in Gautam Budh Nagar district. He instructed officials to search for a suitable plot in or around Noida, Greater Noida or Yamuna Expressway and prepare an action plan to that effect,” said a statement issued by the UP government.

Chandra Mohan, secretary of the BJP’s UP unit, said that the proposed film city would generate revenue, create jobs and also help showcase the state’s rich heritage.

“There are vast untapped spots in UP that have pristine natural beauty. Though the project (film city) has been talked about for long, now it has got the much-needed push,” he said.

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India Latest News

Here’s Lord Ram’s photo from original copy of Constitution

New Delhi: On the special occasion of the ‘Bhumi Pujan’ of Ram Mandir, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who has been a long standing lawyer of the Ram Lalla deity, shared an original document of the Constitution.

He said, “Original document of the Constitution of India has a beautiful sketch of Lord Ram, Mata Sita and Laxman returning to Ayodhya after defeating Ravan. This is available at the beginning of the chapter related to Fundamental Rights. I felt like sharing this with you all,” said the minister. The Union Minister also termed the day as a day of India’s self respect.

Prasad had represented ‘Ram Lalla’, a petitioner in the Ayodhya title suit which was decided in September 2010 by the Allahabad High Court. The court had ordered the disputed site to be equally distributed among the claimants.

Prasad, a persuasive debater on news television, are known as Lord Ram’s lawyer. After the Supreme Court gave its verdict, where lawyer K. Parasaran led the argument for Ram Lalla, Prasad had called it a “historic verdict”.

On Wednesday, when the union minister shared the photo of lord Ram from the original document of Constitution, after “defeating Ravan”, the political message was also unmistakable.

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