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Patriotism should not result in ‘blinkered’ approaches in interpreting history: President Mukherjee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lamenting the “unfortunate tendency” to take umbrage at the expression of any view considered hostile, President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday said the “freedom to doubt, disagree and dispute” must be protected.Mukherjee also said patriotism should not result in “blinkered” approaches in interpreting history or a compromise with truth in order to justify an argument of choice.Asserting that the greatest strength of India is its pluralism and social, cultural, linguistic diversity, he said the country’s traditions have always celebrated the “argumentative Indian and not the intolerant Indian.” The President made the remarks after inaugurating the 77th session of the Indian History Congress in Thiruvananthapuram.There has been an “unfortunate tendency” in the country from time-to-time to take umbrage at the expression of any view perceived to be hostile to our social or cultural institutions past or present, Mukherjee said.Similarly, critical appraisals of heroes and national icons of the past have been met with hostility or sometimes even violence, he pointed out. “Freedom to doubt, disagree and dispute intellectually must be protected as an essential pillar of democracy. Nothing should lie outside realm of discussion and argument and such freedom is vital for the progress in any field especially in a craft like history,” he said.In his address, the President asked historians to be as objective as possible in their approach to history.Advocating that reason and moderation should be the guide, Mukherjee said, “It is natural to love one’s country and see as much glory in its past as one can detect. But, patriotism should not result in blinkered approaches in interpreting history or a compromise with truth in order to justify an argument of choice.””No society is perfect and history must be also seen as a guide on what went wrong and what were the contradictions, deficiencies and weaknesses of the past,” he said.”An objective pursuit of history, such as our best historians have attempted, requires an impartial mind of a judge and not the mind of an advocate,” the President said.”We must keep our eyes open for unfamiliar ideas and be ready to consider a range of different inferences or assumptions,” he said. He also said there should not be any conflict or contradiction between the promotion of regional history and the pursuit of the country’s history as a whole.Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala alleged that attempts were being made by vested interests to distort history to suit the present government at the Centre.Mukherjee released the first copy of the proceedings of the Congress by presenting it to the Chief Minister.

India and Tajikistan faced by growing threat of terrorism, oppose the menance: Pranab Mukherjee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>President Pranab Mukherjee has said that both India and Tajikistan are opposed to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. “As neighbours with a shared vision of peace and stability in our region, we both desire to strengthen our defence and security co-operation in order to effectively address our concerns. The world and particularly our region, is, today, faced by the growing threat of terrorism. Both India and Tajikistan are opposed to this menace in all its forms and manifestations,” President Mukherjee said on Saturday in his banquet speech hosted in honour of Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon.Asserting that development and progress of India’s utmost importance, President Mukherjee said the people of the nation as secular and pluralistic societies, desire to live in peace. “For us, development and progress of our nations is of utmost importance. We are also committed to assist our mutual friend and neighbour, Afghanistan, to realise the goals and aspirations of its people – through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process,” he added.Welcoming the President of Tajikistan to India, the President said his visit to the nation is on the eve of the 25th anniversary of India-Tajikistan diplomatic relations. “It bears testimony to the abiding friendship between the two nations and the value that we attach to our bilateral relations. India was among first countries to recognise emergence of Tajikistan on dissolution of the former Soviet Union. Over the last 24 years, we have had a fruitful co-operation,” he added.
ALSO READ PM Modi, Tajikistan President Rahmon hold bilateral talks, agree to work together on trade through Iran’s Chabahar PortPresident Mukherjee said India recognises the Tajikitan President’s role in ensuring peace and stability in Tajikistan which has a similar salutary effect in the region. Subsequently, in his banquet speech, President Mukherjee said India appreciates the close co-operation that we have in the United Nations and other international organizations. “India is grateful for Tajikistan’s support for her rightful claim to a permanent seat in the UN Security Council and its membership of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation,” he added.

Dalai Lama spiritual leader: India to China

“Recently in disregard of China’s strong opposition, India insisted on arranging for the 14th Dalai Lama’s meeting with President Mukherjee,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India on Friday dismissed China’s objection to the meeting between exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and President Pranab Mukherjee. Mukherjee hosted the Dalai Lama and other Nobel Peace laureates at a conference on children’s rights on Sunday.“Recently in disregard of China’s strong opposition, India insisted on arranging for the 14th Dalai Lama’s meeting with President Mukherjee,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said.Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Vikas Swarup responded: “His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a respected and revered spiritual leader. It was a non-political event organised by Nobel laureates dedicated to the welfare of children,” he said.

Demonetization | PM Modi has not committed to waive off farmers loans: Rahul Gandhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi over a demand to provide relief for debt-ridden farmers, the Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Friday said the former has accepted that the situation of farmers is critical in the country, but did not commit anything on waiving off their loans.”Prime Minister accepted that the situation of farmers is critical, But he did not say anything about waiving off their loans, he only heard the matter,” said Rahul.He further added that the farmers are committing suicide all over the country and the removal of import duty on wheat by the government is a devastating blow.Earlier in the day, a delegation of senior Congress leaders met Prime Minister Modi to demand relief for debt-ridden farmers and to express their apprehension at not being allowed to speak in parliament. Following this, opposition leaders would call on President Pranab Mukherjee at 12.30 pm. These meetings come even as the ruckus continues in parliament over several issues, including demonetization and corruption.On Thursday, Azad said, “It is for the first time in history of India that the ruling party is not letting the House to function,” he said. Azad gave a notice in the Rajya Sabha on the “hardships faced by farmers due to demonetization”. “I have given notice so that the debt of the farmers is forgiven. The BJP is not in the support of the farmers,” he said.Both Houses of Parliament had to be adjourned for the day eventually.

May there always be peace & prosperity: PM Modi greets nation on Milad-un-Nabi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday greeted the nation on Milad-un-Nabi, which is the birthday of Prophet Mohammad, with the message that may this occasion further strengthen the spirit of harmony and unity in our society.”May this occasion deepen the spirit of harmony & unity in our society & may there always be peace & prosperity,” he said taking to Twitter.President Pranab Mukherjee and Vice President Hamid Ansari have also greeted the people on the occasion.In his message, the President hoped that the Holy Prophet’s message inspires everyone to work towards universal brotherhood, compassion, and tolerance.He also said everyone should recall the life and ideals of the Prophet and re-dedicate themselves to the service of humanity.Vice President Ansari said the Holy Prophet showed humanity the righteous path of compassion and universal brotherhood, adding that he hoped that the Prophet’s eternal message continue to guide in building a peaceful and harmonious society.

President Mukherjee and VP Ansari greet nation on Milad-un-Nabi, spread message of universal brotherhood

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>President Pranab Mukherjee and Vice President Hamid Ansari greeted people on the occasion of Milad-un-Nabi on Sunday, the birthday of Prophet Mohammad, and appealed to them to recall his message to work towards universal brotherhood, tolerance and well-being of all. “On the auspicious occasion of Milad-un-Nabi, the birthday of the Holy Prophet, I extend my heartiest greetings and best wishes to all my fellow countrymen, in India and abroad,” Mukherjee said in a message on the eve of Milad-un- Nabi.”May the message of the Holy Prophet inspire us to work towards universal brotherhood, compassion, tolerance and the well-being of all. Let us on this day recall the life and ideals of Hazrat Mohammed Saheb and re-dedicate ourselves to the service of humanity,” the President said.Vice President Hamid Ansari, in his message, said the Holy Prophet showed the humanity the righteous path of compassion and universal brotherhood. “Convey my warm greetings and best wishes to the people of our country on the auspicious occasion of Milad-un-Nabi/ Id-E-Milad, celebrated as the Birthday of Prophet Mohammed,” Ansari said in his message.The Holy Prophet showed the humanity the righteous path of compassion and universal brotherhood, he said. “May His eternal message continue to guide us to building a peaceful and harmonious society,” Ansari said.

India proud to have a well read & knowledgeable President, says Modi as Pranab Mukherjee turns 81

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Wishing President Pranab Mukherjee on his 81st birthday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said the President always put India’s interest above everything and that the nation was proud to have such a well read and knowledgeable President.Taking to Twitter, the Prime Minister said that President Mukherjee’s tremendous experience and wisdom has benefitted the nation greatly.”Birthday wishes to Rashtrapati Ji. His tremendous experience & wisdom has benefitted the nation greatly. I pray for his long & healthy life. Pranab Da always puts India’s interest above everything. We are proud to have such a well read & knowledgeable President,” he said.Besides the President, the nation’s top brass including Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu, Kiren Rijiju and Piyush Goyal among others also wished the President.Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao also conveyed his greetings to the President, wishing him a happy, fruitful and long life.Prime Minister Modi has earlier rebuked the Opposition for holding the Parliament hostage and said that the proceeding in the House had “anguished” President Mukhejee, referring to the President’s recent criticism of the prolonged logjam in the national legislature over the currency ban.”Happenings in Parliament anguished our President, who has tremendous political experience,” PM Modi said in Deesa, where he inaugurated a Rs 350 crore cheese plant.An angry President Mukherjee on Thursday had said in a clear message to Parliamentarians, “For God’s sake, do your job. You are meant to transact business in Parliament. Disruption of Parliament is not acceptable at all.”

Parliament logjam | ‘Jan Sabha’ better platform for me than Lok Sabha: PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Holding the opposition responsible for not letting him speak in parliament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said he will now speak in the “Jan Sabha”.”Government has always said we are ready to debate. I am not being allowed to speak in the Lok Sabha, so I am speaking in the Jan Sabha,” said Prime Minister Modi while inaugurating dairy plants in Deesa.The Prime Minister said he is sharing his thoughts with the opposition, not from the Lok Sabha, but from the land on which he is standing. “From the land of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel, I want to share something with my friends in the opposition,” Modi said.Categorically stating that government has always maintained its stand of having discussion in parliament, and it is the opposition which is not letting it function, Modi said, “Parliament is not being allowed to function.”Expressing his distress over President Pranab Mukherjee’s statement regarding recent parliament disruptions, the Prime Minister said it compelled a politically experienced leader to intervene and remind the Members of Parliament (MPs) to “do their work”.”Happenings in Parliament anguished our President, who has tremendous political experience,” he said.The winter session of parliament has only witnessed adjournments so far, with no substantial discussions taking place. With only three working days of parliament left, government has urged the opposition to let both the houses function by having proper debate. Watch the PM’s speech at Deesa:

For God’s sake, do your job: President blasts MPs for stalling Parliament

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> In a stinging attack on the opposition over Parliamentary paralysis, President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday said the House is not a place for dharna and disruption which amounts to “gagging of majority” by the minority.He told Parliamentarians that they are meant to discuss and transact business and not to disrupt.”Disruption is totally unacceptable in Parliamentary system. People send representatives to speak and not to sit on dharna and not to create any trouble on the floor,” he said speaking on “Electoral reforms for a stronger democracy” on the occasion of Defence Estates Day Lecture here. Himself a veteran Parliamentarian before he became the President, Mukherjee said, “Disruption means you are hurt, you are gagging majority. Majority never participates in this disruption. Only minority comes to the well, shouts slogans, stops the proceedings and creates a situation in which the Chair has no option but to adjourn the House. This is totally unacceptable”.Mukherjee’s sharp attack on Parliamentary disruption comes in the midst of paralysis of Parliament for over a fortnight over the issue of demonetization.The President noted that Parliament is in session for only a few weeks in a year. “For demonstration, you can choose any other places. But for God’s sake, do your job. You are meant to transact business. You are meant to devote your time for exercising the authority of members, particularly Lok Sabha members over money and finance,” he said. Maintaining that he is not targeting any single party or individuals, he said the responsibility is of everyone.”Fact remains that this (disruption) has become a practice which should not be acceptable at all. Whatever be the differences, we have the opportunity, to speak our mind, to speak freely and no court can interfere in what I say on the floor of the House,” he said. Mukherjee said that even if a member is levelling an allegation against someone, no court can prosecute him because he has said so on the floor of the House.”This type of freedom should not be misused by causing disruption,” he said.

Jayalalithaa had wonderful mastery over facts and theories: President Mukherjee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Remembering late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa from the early days of his political career, President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday expressed his condolences and said that she was a fighter having a wonderful mastery over facts and theories.The President recalled Jayalalithaa entering into the Rajya Sabha when he was the Leader of the House around early 1980’s.”On many occasions I had interactions with her on all subjects concerning development and administration. She had a wonderful mastery over facts and theories,” he said ahead of his departure to Chennai, where he will pay his last respects to Jayalalithaa.Asserting that she was a fighter who fought till her last breath, President Mukherjee further said that she fought against the cruelty of disease and suffering. “All other battles she won, but perhaps everybody has to lose one battle and she has lost that,” he said.Meanwhile, both houses of the Parliament have been adjourned for the day after paying obituary to Jayalalithaa. The Central Government has declared a one-day mourning after the demise of Jayalalithaa, who passed away last night at the Apollo Hospitals in Chennai.Tributes are being paid to Jayalalithaa at Rajaji Hall in Chennai where her mortal remains have been kept. Preparations are currently underway at MGR Memorial at Marina beach, Chennai, for her last rites where she will be cremated with full state honours at 4:30 pm on Tuesday.

IAF plane flying President Pranab Mukherjee to Chennai returns after mid-air snag

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Indian Air Force (IAF) plane carrying President Pranab Mukherjee to Chennai, returns to Delhi after developing technical snag mid-air.Mukherjee was heading to Chennai to pay homage to J Jayalalithaa, who died on Monday night.​Remembering Jayalalithaa from the early days of his political career, President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday expressed his condolences and said that she was a fighter having a wonderful mastery over facts and theories.The President recalled Jayalalithaa entering into the Rajya Sabha when he was the Leader of the House around early 1980’s, he said.”On many occasions I had interactions with her on all subjects concerning development and administration. She had a wonderful mastery over facts and theories,” he said ahead of his departure to Chennai, where he will pay his last respects to Jayalalithaa.(More details are awaited)

Mamata Banerjee links presence of soldiers in state with ‘coup’; army calls allegation ‘misleading’

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee continued to stay put at the state secretariat today protesting against army presence at toll plazas in several parts of the state and asked whether it was an “army coup”.

Army personnel, however, had left the toll plaza near the secretariat on Thursday night. Speaking to reporters late night on Thursday at ‘Nabanna’, the state secretariat, she said, “I will stay at the secretariat to guard our democracy”. “Is this a military coup,” she asked.

mamatabanerjee pti

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. PTI

She said that army personnel were there in different districts like Murshidabad, Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling, North 24 Paragans, Burdwan, Howrah, Hooghly etc. “The army is deployed without informing the state government. This is unprecedented and a very serious matter”, she had said.

The TMC leadership has decided to raise the issue in both the houses of Parliament and also inform President Pranab Mukherjee about the incident.

“We are talking to all political parties. We are planning to raise the issue in Parliament today. Lets see,” TMC national spokesperson Derek O’ Brien told PTI. A senior TMC leader on condition of anonymity said, “We are planning to meet President Pranab Mukherjee and inform him about the incident.

The entire country should know, how BJP is engaged in vindictive politics,”. The senior TMC leader said they have spoken to Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and discussed how to counter this issue jointly. Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel had called up Banerjee in the morning and inquired about the incident.

A defence spokesperson had said that the army conducts bi-annual exercise throughout the country with an aim of getting statistical data about the load carriers that could be made available to the army in case of a contingency.

“There is nothing alarming about this and it is carried out as per government orders”, Wing Commander S S Birdi had said. The Army had said they were conducting routine exercise with full knowledge and coordination with West Bengal Police.

Derek O’Brien, however, said the army claim that the exercises were conducted in coordination with police was “incorrect”. “All respect for army, but must set record straight 1) Data is already available 2. Cannot do vehicle check, not authorized to do so.

Saying exercise by @easterncomd was coordinated with police is absolutely incorrect. Also, troops were moved into districts even after midnight. Bengal CM kept watch from Secretariat overnight. She is still there,” Brien said on twitter.

Major General Sunil Yadav, while briefing the media said that “The deployment was a routine exercise and is being carried out in nine other states as well, the operation will end tonight.” When asked if the army had informed the state officials about the exercise, he asserted that “It was communicated to the state police on phone that this exercise will be conducted.” Also he added that such an exercise was also conducted last year, from 19 to 21 November with a troop of the same size and strength. He categorically denied the allegations put by TMC.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 11:43 IST

India can be a seat for international dispute resolution: President Mukherjee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India has the potential to emerge as a leading seat for international dispute resolution, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Monday. “I am convinced that India has the potential to emerge as a leading seat for international dispute resolution. Prime Minister has also declared that an enabling alternate dispute resolution ecosystem is a national priority for India and that we need to promote India globally as an arbitration hub,” Mukherjee said in his address at a conference to mark 50th anniversary of United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).He said while India has had a long history of peaceful resolution of disputes from the Panchayat system onwards to several enactments concerning arbitration prior to Independence, the year 1996 marked a watershed in the development and modernisation of arbitration in India. Critical amendments were made to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act to ensure timely and just resolution of arbitral disputes.India last month launched a national initiative towards strengthening Arbitration and Conciliation.The Prime Minister has also declared that an enabling alternate dispute resolution ecosystem is a national priority for India and that there is a need to promote India globally as an arbitration hub. The President expressed confidence that the deliberations in the Conference would explore ways and means of fostering a healthy and sustainable culture of international arbitration and conciliation. The President said India is delighted to host the golden jubilee celebrations of UNCITRAL as part of India’s commitment to the purposes and principles of the United Nations and the evolution of its specialised programmes and agencies.It is a glowing testament to India s commitment to the rule of law that India is only one of eight countries that has been a member of UNCITRAL from its inception, and has recently been re-elected for a term of six years, he said. India recognises that the impact of UNCITRAL has been far beyond mere facilitation of international trade, he said, adding that its exemplary work over the years has provided significant thought leadership that has inspired transformation of several domestic legal regimes to facilitate both domestic and transnational commerce and trade.

PM Modi is a ‘bad politician and even worse administrator’: Mamata Banerjee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Stepping up her attack against Prime Minister Narendra Modi on demonetization, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today called him “a bad politician and a worse administrator” who is spreading lies and relaxing even as the common people continue to suffer.”Modi ji has lost all credibility. A bad politician and even worse administrator. He is lying,” she said in a statement here. The Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief, who is at the forefront of the opposition attack against the Modi government on the issue, said, “All opposition is united, and you are divided!” She also claimed that Rs 1.28 lakh crore had been lost forever due to the scrapping of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes.”Shocking that Rs 1.28 lakh crore has been lost forever due to note-ban only in ‘transactions’ in the country, according to CMIE, a top research body. World-famous Moody’s says ‘note ban will badly disrupt economic activity’,” she said. “Common people are suffering miserably while Modi ji is relaxing and spreading lies,” she said. , who had staged dharna in Delhi on November 23, also met President Pranab Mukherjee yesterday on the issue.TMC would organise a rally in the city on November 28.The TMC supremo is scheduled to address a meeting in Lucknow on November 29 and in Patna the next day.

Indore-Patna Express derailment: President Pranab Mukerjee condoles loss of lives in train accident

New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday condoled the loss of lives due to derailment of Indore-Patna Express near Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh.

“I am sad to learn about the accident in which many have lost their lives and a number of persons are injured when Indore-Patna Express ran off the tracks near Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh.

File photo of President Pranab Mukherjee. Reuters

File photo of President Pranab Mukherjee. Reuters

“I am sure that the state government is providing all possible assistance to the bereaved families who have lost their near and dear ones as well as medical aid to the injured,” Mukherjee said in a message to Ram Naik, Governor of Uttar Pradesh.

The President conveyed his condolences to the family members of the deceased.

“I pray to the Almighty to give them the strength and courage to bear this irreparable loss. I wish speedy recovery to the injured persons,” he said.

Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu expressed anguish at the loss of lives.

“It is extremely unfortunate. I am pained at the death of citizens in the accident. I pray for the bereaved families and the injured passengers,” Naidu said.

Over 100 passengers were killed and many seriously injured when 14 coaches of the Indore-Patna Express derailed near Pukhraya in Kanpur dehat district in the wee hours on Sunday.

First Published On : Nov 20, 2016 14:53 IST

Israel Presdient Reuven Rivlin to visit Haryana for overview of agricultural projects

Chandigarh: Israeli President Reuven Rivlin will visit the Centre of Excellence for Vegetables (CEV) in Karnal district on Friday to get an overview of Indo-Israeli agricultural projects in Haryana.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

India and Israel signed agreements for agriculture partnership in 2006 under which Israel has been sharing its best practices and knowledge through professional training programmes.

Rivlin would visit the nursery in the high-tech green house located at the Centre at Gharaunda. Besides, he would also get an overview of Indo-Israeli projects in India and six Indo-Israeli projects in Haryana, an official spokesman said in Chandigarh on Thursday.

Ambassador of Israel in India Daniel Carmon, Agriculture Counsellor Dan Alluf and senior officials of Haryana Government would also be present on this occasion.

Agricultural Centres of Excellence’ (CoE) were established in various Indian states to achieve the goals under the Indo-Israeli agreements.

The CoE in Karnal is the most fully developed and operational Centre, an Israeli Embassy spokesman said.

President Rivlin is on a state visit to India on the invitation of President Pranab Mukherjee.

The visit, first by an Israeli President in nearly 20 years, symbolizes the growing partnership between India and Israel.

President Rivlin is accompanied by heads of business and academic delegation including 15 heads of Israeli universities.

Rivlin would be received by Haryana Agriculture Minister OP Dhankar.

The Israeli President arrived on 14 November on an eight-day visit to India.

Rivlin had wide-ranging talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 15 November. President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday hosted a banquet for the Israeli President, who also visited the Taj Mahal.

First Published On : Nov 17, 2016 14:46 IST

Demonetization: Rajnath Singh speaks to Uddhav Thackeray after Sena joins hands with Opposition

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after NDA ally Shiv Sena joined hands with the opposition to protest demonetization, Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday spoke to its chief Uddhav Thackeray and is believed to have conveyed the BJP’s unhappiness over the move.During the 10-minute telephonic conversation, Singh is understood to have told Thackeray that Shiv Sena joining hands with the opposition, despite being part of the Modi government, was sending a confusing signal and such an action was avoidable.The Shiv Sena on Wednesday taken part in a march to Rashtrapati Bhavan led by Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and participated by Aam Aadmi Party and National Conference.The parties lodged their protests before President Pranab Mukherjee against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of demonetization of Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes and conveyed concern over the hardship being faced by the common people following the government action.Sena is the oldest ally of BJP and part of the Modi government at the Centre and the BJP-led government in Maharashtra.While the other parties which took part in the march sought immediate withdrawal of demonetization exercise, the Shiv Sena had differed on the issue and insisted the government extend the deadline of accepting the old currency notes.”We welcome the demonetization move. But we are against the inconvenience caused to people due to it. We have not signed the memorandum (that will be presented to the President Pranab Mukherjee).”We are going to submit a separate memorandum seeking redressal of the inconvenience caused to people. We also want the period to be extended,” Gajanan Kirtikar of Shiv Sena had said.

Demonetization : Mamata Banerjee asks President Mukherjee to prevent ‘constitutional crisis and anarchy’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Seeking immediate withdrawal of demonetisation exercise, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee met President Pranab Mukherjee along with leaders of National Conference, AAP and NDA ally Shiv Sena and submitted a memorandum voicing serious concern over the crisis arising out of ban on Rs 1000 and Rs 500 currency notes. Banerjee led a march to Rashtrapati Bhavan from Parliament alongwith TMC MPs, AAP MP Bhagwant Mann, Shiv Sena MP Harshul, NC leader and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah among others.”We had a successful meeting with the President during which we discussed the issue. And the President said he would look into the matter,” she said, after emerging out of the Rashtrapati Bhawan.She said the situation arising out of demonitisation has triggered a sort of constitutional crisis.Speaking about her next move on the issue, she said “Our party will move adjournment motion in Lok Sabha”. Expressing concern over the problems being faced by the people after the demonetisation move, she said “We have requested the President to speak to the government and decide on this and bring back normalcy in the country. President was once the Finance Minister and knows country’s situation better than anyone else, he will take appropriate action.” Leaders of the other opposition parties including Congress, Left parties, SP and BSP did not took part in the protest march.Describing as “dictatorial and draconian step” the government’s demonetisation move, the memorandum has sought its immediate suspension.”Stop harassment of the common people by lifting of all sorts of restrictions recently thrust upon them,” the five-page memorandum said, and added “ensure that supply of essential commodities in adequate quantities be restored in the markets forthwith.”Before beginning the march from Parliament, Mamata said “The march is to save common people from disaster.” Mann said the ban has affected the normal functioning of the household as there is no money available.However, the Shiv Sena differed on the issue and insisted the government to extend the deadline of accepting the old currency notes.”We welcome the demonetisation move. But we are against the inconvenience caused to people due to it. We have not signed the memorandum (that will be presented to the President Pranab Mukherjee).”We are going to submit a separate memorandum seeking redressal of the inconvenience caused to people. We also want the period to be extended,” said Gajanan Kirtikar of Shiv Sena who took part in the march. Mamata also said “Those with black money have been supported, but taxpayers are suffering”, and added that the situation arising out of demonetisation has triggered a sort of constitutional crisis and financial emergency.Seeking the intervention of the President in the “interest of common people to alleviate the untold suffering, helplessness and financial insecurity that they are facing now”, the memorandum said “withdraw this draconian demonetisation measure immediately.” Pitching for a broader campaign against demonetisation, involving various political parties, Mamata yesterday met Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Both the leaders discussed the crisis for about 40 minutes but Kejriwal reportedly expressed his reservation to come along with Shiv Sena on a same platform.However, AAP MP Bhagwant Mann, suspended from Lok Sabha for uploading a video of Parliament premises on social media, participated in the march. Mamata had approached other parties, including Congress and Left, to join the march against the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes, saying “common people are suffering because of it.” However, Congress and Left though opposing the demonetisation move preferred not to join the rainbow platform created by Mamata against the government.Undeterred by the absence of major political parties she marched ahead.

President Mukherjee, PM Modi greet the nation on Guru Nanak Jayanti

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday extended their greetings to the nation on the occasion of birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji.Asserting that Guru’s universal vision and humanism have been inspiration for all, President asked people to strengthen the bonds of togetherness.”Universal vision & humanism of Guru Nanak Devji have been an inspiration to people everywhere. Let us all unite to bring happiness in the lives of the suffering & strive for the betterment of humanity,” he said.Mukherjee asked all to endeavour to follow the Guru’s profound teachings and work to strengthen the bonds of togetherness.In a series of tweets, the President conveyed wishes to fellow citizens in India and abroad on the Guru’s birth anniversary.Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also greeted everyone, on the auspicious occasion of Gurupurab.”Gurupurab wishes to everyone. The inspiring teachings of the venerable Guru Nanak guide us in creating a prosperous and harmonious society”, the Prime Minister said.

Mamata Banerjee speaks to President Pranab Mukherjee on demonetisation issue

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee spoke to President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday over the Centre’s demonetisation move and said representatives of political parties will meet him next week over the issue.”The Hon President was kind enough to take my call. I briefed him about how common people are suffering because of demonetisation,” Banerjee tweeted today. “I thank him for agreeing to meet reps of political parties on Nov 16 or 17 where we will brief him in detail on the grim situation,” she wrote in the microblogging site.Upping the ante against BJP, Banerjee yesterday had said she is not averse to working with arch rival CPI(M) and other opposition parties like Congress, SP, BSP to fight against the “anti-people” Modi government which has imposed an “undeclared emergency”.Accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of conducting a “surgical strike on the common people” in the name of unearthing black money, she had said the demonetisation move was taken without proper planning causing immense hardship.

Rs 500, Rs 1,000 notes ban: ‘They were helpless’, says Assam retired banker who helped ex-colleagues

Following the immediate ban on Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes that came like a bolt from the blue for many ‘cash-strapped’ Indians, the rush to banks on Thursday, when they all reopened, was quite obvious. Name any bank in any state, the crowd at the counters was massive when most sought to deposit the abolished Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes before the deadline.

Namita Lahkar at work. Image courtesy Trideep Lahkar's Facebook pageNamita Lahkar at work. Image courtesy Trideep Lahkar's Facebook page

Namita Lahkar at work. Image courtesy Trideep Lahkar’s Facebook page

Retired banker Namita Lahkar and her former colleague, from United Bank of India in Guwahati, another retired manager Pranab Bhuyan were at the Narengi Tiniali Branch to deposit their 500-s and 1,000-s. Seeing the hard time that the cashier and the branch manager were facing, amid the surging crowd, the two retired officers decided to pitch in.

“I went to the bank before 10 am. But it was total chaos there as only two people were handling it. They were literally helpless. I have worked for 35 years in UBI before I retired in 2012. I felt bad and offered to help them. The rush was so much that I and my former colleague had to work till 6 pm,” Namita told Firstpost from Guwahati.

“The workload was four times than on an usual day,” she said explaining the toll that the sudden decision to scrap the bigger denomination currency notes on the bankers.

Namita was graceful enough to help even more if required. “If they call us again tomorrow, we will go,” she said. “Things should be normal within a month,” Namita said.

Her selfless and voluntary service was known when her son Trideep Lahkar, a journalist from a news agency shared it on his Facebook account praising his mother.

“She went to the bank to deposit the banned currency notes and withdraw the new ones. When she reached the Narengi Tiniali Branch of United Bank of India this morning, it was a sea of people with just two existing staff – a cashier and the manager. They were clueless on how to handle such a huge crowd.

“She retired from the same bank five years ago. She, along with a former manager who also came to take new notes, realised that it would be next to impossible for just two employees to handle such a huge and maddening rush. And today is just the first day!

“She and the retired manager voluntarily offered their services again, after many years. The existing two staff of the branch didn’t believe it and they had nothing to say. Their faces said everything with spontaneous smile of relief.

She is my mother Namita Lahkar,” Trideep wrote on his Facebook timeline. The post had got over 1,4oo likes and at least 210 shares when this piece was being posted.

Common man safe from PM Modi’s black money ‘surgical strike’, assures Centre

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s revolutionary move to discontinue 500, 1000 Rupee notes in his fight against black money, the Centre has assured the common man they have nothing to be worried about, as this development will only make those involved in corruption and black money market sweat.Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar said that the Prime Minister’s move is an effective attack against corruption and black money, adding that this step will revive the economy in a better way and will act swiftly against the cancer of corruption. “That cancer is being removed now from the economy and all money will be accounted and taxed for, and therefore this is a revolutionary step that Modi ji has taken. The common man, who only has white money, but has 500 and 1000 notes, need not be afraid. He can deposit it in his bank account and he will get it back. Only those who are involved in black money market and corruption need to be worried,” he said.However, the Congress hit out at the Centre saying that while they welcomed any move to check black money, this development would hit small traders, small businessmen, and the common man celebrating festivals and weddings. “Congress has always supported any step against black money, and will continue to do so, and will continue to do so. But while Modi ji withdraws Rs 1000 note on one side, he introduces Rs 2000 note on the other side? Does it not defeat his own argument?” said Congress leader Randeep Surjewala.In a surprise late-evening televised address to the nation, Prime Minister Modi said the notes in circulation can be exchanged at banks till December 30th, adding that some concessions will be allowed for use of these notes at hospitals and crematoriums, and to buy air, rail and bus tickets till November 11th.But the short notice sparked concern among people who then formed long queues outside ATMs across India, attempting to withdraw smaller bank notes. “Banks will be closed tomorrow. It will cause some hardship to you. Let us ignore these hardships. In a country?s history there come some moments when every person feels he too should be a part of it,” the Prime Minister said.The move was welcomed by President Pranab Mukherjee, who called upon the nation not to panic as this move will help unearth unaccounted money as well as counterfeit currency.

Arms haul in JNU campus: Pistol, cartridges found in abandoned bag

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amid existing high tensions within the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus, an abandoned bag was found on the university grounds with two local pistols and seven cartridges in it. The bag was discovered last night when security guards were patrolling the area near the north gate of JNU campus.The police were informed immediately and a case was registered under the Arms Act. An investigation has been launched into the matter.Meanwhile, the Delhi Police has launched a manhunt to trace student Najeeb Ahmed, whose disappearance has become a major political issue. Upon the intervention of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, President Pranab Mukherjee has sought a report from the Delhi Police and the MHA over the missing student.Najeeb went missing on the intervening night of October 14 and 15 after allegedly being beaten up by a mob of 20 students comprising ABVP members, who had gone campaigning to his room for hostel elections.

Nepal can benefit from India’s economic transformation, says President Mukherjee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>President Pranab Mukherjee has said that rapid economic transformation that is taking place in India presents unprecedented opportunities for the people of Nepal.Addressing a gathering of state dignitaries at a banquet, hosted by Nepal’s President Bidhya Devi Bhandari on Wednesday, President Mukherjee, who is on a three-day visit to Nepal, invited them to be stakeholders in India’s growth story.President Mukherjee emphasised that together both the countries can achieve the full potential of the increasing mutually beneficial cooperation in varied areas such as trade, investment, agriculture, hydro-power, infrastructure development and connectivity projects. He said that India is proud of the achievements of the people of Nepal and in the success of the development partnership with Nepal.The President stressed that the canvass of India’s bilateral cooperation involves dimensions of human endeavours too. He said that India and Nepal has age-old historical relations. He also said that the socio-economic, cultural and people to people relation between the two countries provide vitality and dynamism to unique, time-tested and multi-faceted relations.On Wednesday, Nepal’s Vice-President Nanda Bahadur Pun and Prime Minister Puspa Kamal Dahal, also known as “Prachanda” called on President Mukherjee.The Indian President also visited ‘India House’ for a welcome reception organised by Indian Ambassador to Nepal in his honour.

PM Modi pays tribute to Indira Gandhi on her death anniversary

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday paid tributes to Indira Gandhi on her 32nd death anniversary.”Tributes to Mrs. Indira Gandhi on her death anniversary,” Modi tweeted. Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, was assassinated on this day in 1984 by two of her own security guards. Earlier, President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, party vice president Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and a number of other party leaders paid floral tributes to Indira Gandhi at 1, Safdarjung Road, where she was assassinated.The party had cancelled the annual commemoration programme at Shakti Sthal, the memorial of Indira Gandhi, as it remains shut after reporting a number of duck deaths amid the bird flu scare in the city.

President Mukherjee asks students to become ‘agents of change’ for advanced society

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India will lose its demographic “dividend” to a demographic “explosion” if it does not train its youth in the skills required to operate in the future world, President Pranab Mukherjee said in Ahmedabad on Sunday. While interacting with the students of ‘Bapu Gujarat Knowledge Village and Samarpan Education and Research Campus’, he urged students to work hard and “contribute” towards the advancement of the society, to which they belong and come from.Mukherjee asked students to become the “agents of change” and work diligently as he said education was the basis of an advanced society. “The demographic dividend that we have will turn into demographic explosion if we do not train them (youth) with necessary skills required for the future world,” he said.The President said it was a matter of concern that no Indian institution of higher learning figures in the top 200 universities when global rankings are done. He said the Indian economy was growing fast and India has “overcome that stage”, adding that we must celebrate our diversity as India functions under one flag and one constitution.Mukherjee also expressed confidence in the capabilities of the Indian youth, saying the country’s young talent does not “carry any baggage” and the world belongs to them. The President is on a two-day tour to Gujarat. He had arrived in Gandhinagar on Saturday.

New Zealand PM John Key to visit India next week, NSG membership bid to be discussed

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to seek New Zealand’s support to India’s bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group when he holds talks with his counterpart of the island nation John Key in Delhi next week. Key will pay a four-day visit to India from October 24-27.External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said India’s bid for NSG membership is likely to figure in talks between the two prime ministers besides other issues. In the June Plenary of NSG in Seoul, despite strong American support, China stonewalled India’s bid to get entry into the group on the grounds that it was a not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.New Zealand, a member of the 48-nation grouping, is known to have strong position on nuclear non-proliferation. The NSG works under the principle of unanimity. Key will arrive in Mumbai on the evening of October 24 where he will deliver a key note address at an event organised by Bombay Stock Exchange in association with Chambers of Commerce.Key will also meet with the Governor and Chief Minister of Maharashtra. He will also be attending Innovation showcase event to celebrate innovation in New Zealand-India business partnerships. In Delhi, Key will hold one-to-one meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi followed by official delegation level meeting to discuss growing bilateral relations. He will also call on President Pranab Mukherjee and attend a business summit.On conclusion of visit, Key will depart Delhi on October 27 via Kochi where he and his delegation will undertake a short tour of the new Cochin International Terminal and the work undertaken by the New Zealand company, Glidepath. Key will be accompanied by members of New Zealand Parliament Mark Mitchell, Chair of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee and Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, MP. He had last visited India in 2011. President Pranab Mukherjee visited New Zealand in May this year.

Aung San Suu Kyi to call on President Pranab Mukherjee today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Myanmar’s State Counselor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi will call on the President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday.She will also meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the last day of her visit tomorrow. After arriving in the national capital yesterday after attending the BRICS-BIMSTEC Outreach Summit in Goa, Suu Kyi yesterday met Congress President Sonia Gandhi at her residence. Suu Kyi is accompanied by several Ministers and senior officials and her visit will provide an opportunity to discuss issues of mutual interest and seek to further strengthen the close and friendly ties that exist between the two countries.

West Bengal: Baharampore military station inaugurated by President Mukherjee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>President Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated a new military station in West Bengal’s Murshidabad district on Saturday.Mukherjee, who had also laid the foundation stone of the project in 2014, said it would be a major military facility between Kolkata in the southern and Siliguri in northern part of the state. There used to be a military cantonment here during the British period. Because of this historic reason, the station has been named Baharampore military station, though it is actually located at Nabagram, around 25 km away from this district headquarter town.Though it was inaugurated on Saturday, the infrastructure development of the station will go on till 2018, after which it would have occupancy of over 8,000 troops including their families. It is being developed as a model military station with the state-of-the-art training and administrative facilities integrated with the existing natural features.Later at a brief programme at Suri in neighbouring Birbhum district, the President inaugurated a road named after his father Kamada Kinkar Mukherjee.

Acquisition of 36 Rafale aircrafts could greatly enhance operational ability in near term: Arup Raha

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha on Saturday said that the terror attack in Pathankot and Uri are a stark reminder of the times we live in, and added, that the Indian Air Force is ready to counter such attacks in the future. “The terrorist attack on Pathankot airbase and Uri Army base are a stark reminder of the times we live in. To counter any sub-covenantal threat to our bases, we have instituted various new security measures,” said Air Chief Marshal Raha said on the occasion of 84th anniversary of the founding of the Indian Air Force. He said various courses are being conducted, that have increased security training, consciousness, physical fitness and combat efficiency of air warriors to handle such situations more efficiently. The Indian Air Force celebrated its 84th anniversary at the Hindon Air Base in Ghaziabad with a large parade and an air display. The air display commenced with flag bearing sky divers of famous AKASH GANGA Team dropping out of AN-32 aircraft in their colourful canopies. The flypast included the vintage aircraft, modern transport aircraft and frontline fighter aircraft. The ceremony concluded with a scintillating aerobatic display. President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi also greeted the Indian Air Force. He further said that the IAF has achieved distinction in defending.

President Pranab Mukherjee wishes IAF on its 84th anniversary

President Pranab Mukherjee wishes IAF on its 84th anniversary


New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday applauded the Indian Air Force, saying that it has achieved distinction in defending our skies, delivering vital humanitarian aid and disaster relief, while extending greetings on the 84th anniversary of the Air Force Day.

File photo of President Pranab Mukherjee. ReutersFile photo of President Pranab Mukherjee. Reuters

File photo of President Pranab Mukherjee. Reuters

“The IAF has achieved distinction in defending our skies and delivering vital humanitarian aid and disaster relief,” Mukherjee said in a tweet.

“Greetings and felicitations to all IAF personnel on the 84th anniversary of the Indian Air Force,” he tweeted.

Mukherjee, in another tweet, said: “The nation is proud of the capability and competency of the IAF.”

He said that over the “last eight decades, the IAF has emerged as an immensely professional and combat-ready force”.

The Indian Air Force is celebrating its 84th anniversary on Saturday by scintillating air display by various aircraft at Air Force Station Hindan in Uttar Pradesh.

The Indian Air Force was officially established on 8 October, 1932.

Haj pilgrimage to now be managed by Minority affairs ministry

Haj pilgrimage to now be managed by Minority affairs ministry


New Delhi: The management of Haj pilgrimage will now be done by the Minority Affairs Ministry instead of the External Affairs Ministry. President Pranab Mukherjee has given assent to new rules in this regard.

The management of Haj pilgrimage, including administration of the Haj Committee Act, 1959 (51 of 1959) and the rules made will be under the Minority Affairs Ministry, the new rules issued by the Cabinet Secretariat said. Earlier, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) was looking after administration of the Haj Committee Act.

The MEA will be looking after pilgrimages to places outside India and the Indian Pilgrim Ships Rules, 1933, and pilgrim parties from India to shrines in Pakistan and vice versa excluding the administration of the Haj Committee Act, the new rules said.

President Pranab Mukherjee might not be seeking second term: Here’s why

The Government of India has finalised a post-retirement home for President Pranab Mukherjee on Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Road indicating that the President might not be seeking a second term, reported The Indian Express.

A file photo of President Pranab Mukherjee. Reuters

A file photo of President Pranab Mukherjee. Reuters

The report added that Bungalow No 34, which previously housed former Lok Sabha Speaker the late Purno Sangma and which is occupied by the Sangma family, will be turned into the President’s home once his tenure ends in July 2017.

A official of the Ministry of Urban Development told The Indian Express that the Sangma family has been asked for vacate the bungalow as they are not entitled Type VIII property and said that the house might be revamped for Mukherjee, though there has been no request yet.

In her column in The Financial Express, Coomi Kapoor wrote that Mukherjee has confided to his close aides that he is not keen on seeking another term and felt that the BJP might not re-nominate him. “Mukherjee, 80, who completes his term next July, is already sorting out his papers and gifts presented to him during his presidentship, but the NDA government is still to decide on his replacement,” she wrote. 

Firstpost’s Gouri Chatterjee argued that while there is wide speculation on whether Mukherjee will get a second-term or not, it is also a fact that he has built a “close rapport” with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. She wrote: “But then, if anyone can come in as Sonia Gandhi’s man and carry on as Narendra Modi’s man it will be Pranab Mukherjee. He has talents few others do; he has memories that are still sharp in his mind.” 

The President’s Pension Rules 1962 states: “A retired President shall be entitled without payment of rent to the use of a furnished residence anywhere in India at the choice of the retired president, without payment of water and electricity charges for the remainder of his life.”

It further states that “At places where government-owned accommodation is allotted to a retired president, the size of the residence shall be comparable to a residence allotted to a minister in the Union Council of Ministers.”

India to ratify Paris climate deal on Tuesday, President Mukherjee gives assent

New Delhi: India is all set to ratify the Paris climate deal tomorrow, with President Pranab Mukherjee giving his assent to a proposal approved earlier by the government, making India one of the key countries to help bring the pact into force.

“We will ratify the Paris deal in the UN tomorrow. The President has signed it. The Union Cabinet has already approved it,” Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave told reporters.

He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced on 25 September that India will ratify it on 2 October on the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

A file photo of Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

A file photo of Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

“This (decision) was taken after a lot of deliberations and with a view to give the world a messege…India is fast becoming a super power,” Dave said.

“Call it international pressure or a sort of competition, this morning European Union has also decided to ratify it, which is a good thing,” Dave said.

The Union Cabinet had given its nod to ratifying the Paris climate deal on September 28, days after Modi announced this at BJP’s National Council meet in Kozhikode. The move is expected to give momentum to the implementation of measures at the international level to control global warming.

India’s ratification tomorrow will further underline its responsive leadership, which is committed to global cause of environment. The pact will come into force after it has beenratified by at least 55 countries which account for 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

So far, 61 countries have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval accounting in total for 47.79 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions.

India’s decision to ratify the agreement will take the number of cumulative level of emission of countries that have ratified the agreement so far to 51.89 per cent as its total emissions is 4.1 per cent of the global emissions.

Dave said after EU has decided to ratify it, the total emissions amongst countries which have ratified the agreement will go up to 61 per cent.

Paris Agreement was adopted by 185 nations last year on 12 December and India signed it in New York on 22 April this year. A total of 191 countries have signed the Paris Agreement so far.

Congress backs Omar Abdullah, says Kashmir unrest not a ‘law and order’ issue

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Coming out in support of National Conference (NC) chief Omar Abdullah for saying that the problem in the Valley is a political one and cannot be handled administratively, the Congress on Sunday said it would be wrong to consider the Kashmir unrest a matter of ‘law and order’.Speaking to ANI, Congress leader Meem Afzal said all the opposition parties in the Parliament stood firm with Abdullah’s statement.”If you think the issue of Jammu and Kashmir is a law and order matter, then you are wrong. Kashmir is not an issue of law and order. It is a political issue and we should see how to progress with a solution,” he added.Escalating his attack on the Centre, Afzal said if Pakistan is involved in the Kashmir unrest, what the government is doing to tackle the situation.”When we tell this to the government, it says Pakistan is involved in it. If Pakistan is involved in it, then what is the government, our Home Ministry and our Army doing? The people will ask if Pakistan is sponsoring it then why aren’t you stopping it. The government should understand its responsibility,” he added.Omar on Saturday led a delegation to President Pranab Mukherjee in the national capital and submitted a memorandum requesting the latter to get the Government of India to acknowledge that the root cause of what is happening in the Valley, lies in the politics of Jammu and Kashmir, and the solution also must be found politically, not administratively and not through the use of force.Omar said their meeting with the President, which cuts across party lines, symbolised the deep concerns that they have for the prevailing situation and also their disappointment at the way the matter has sought to be handled, both by the Centre as well as the state government.Further stating that it was ridiculous to blame Pakistan completely for the Kashmir unrest, he added that Islamabad was partially responsible in fanning the flames, but they were not solely to blame.

President Pranab Mukherjee greets Congo on National Day

New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday greeted the people of Democratic Republic of Congo on their National Day and said that bilateral engagement with the central African nation have expanded.

File photo of President Pranab Mukherjee. PTIFile photo of President Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

File photo of President Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

“I have the pleasure to convey warm greetings and felicitations to you and to the friendly people of the Democratic Republic of Congo on the occasion of your National Day,” Mukherjee said in a message to DR Congo’s President Joseph Kabila Kabange.

“Our engagement has expanded steadily in recent years, particularly in the areas of trade and development cooperation,” he said in a statement issued.

“I am confident that our close and friendly relations will continue to strengthen in the years ahead”.

Democratic Republic of Congo is a central African country and celebrates its National Day on 30 June.

World must remain united to fight terrorism: President Mukherjee

Condemning the terror attack in Istanbul, President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday said the world must remain united in its fight against terrorism.”I strongly condemn the terrorist attack on the Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul Turkey yesterday. India reiterates its solidarity with the people of Turkey in this difficult hour.”Our heart and prayers are with the bereaved families as well as those injured in the attacks. The world community must remain united in its resolve to fight against the evil forces of terrorism,” he said. The President has strongly condemned the terrorist attack, a press release issued by Rashtrapati Bhavan said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Triple suicide bombings and gun attack by suspected ISIS terrorists at the airport killed at least 36 people and injured nearly 150 others.

Going the AAP way? Congress stages dharna demanding resignation of 21 AAP MLAs

Scores of Congress workers staged dharnas on Sunday in the constituencies of 21 AAP MLAs, who have been appointed as parliamentary secretaries in alleged violation of office of profit rule, and demanded their resignation.Delhi Congress president Ajay Maken asked party workers to carry out campaigns to expose the “failures and double talk” of the Arvind Kejriwal government. The dharnas were staged at the end of the party’s week-long door-to-door signature campaign demanding the resignation of the 21 AAP MLAs for holding office of profit after President Pranab Mukherjee refused assent to the bill passed by the AAP government to validate their appointment as parliamentary secretaries with retrospective effect.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The Kejriwal government, which talks about morality and ethics, should immediately seek the resignation of the 21 MLAs as they have no right to remain as legislators after accepting office of profit in contravention of rules and regulations,” Maken said.
ALSO READ Congress sniffs revival in Delhi as 21 AAP legislators stare at disqualificationHe said Congress president Sonia Gandhi had resigned from Lok Sabha after she was issued a notice on the office of profit issue in 2006, and had sought re-election from Rae Bareilly.Addressing a dharna, Maken said Kejriwal had promised that his MLAs would take only a nominal honorarium of Rs 25,000 per month but within one year of assuming office, the AAP MLAs were getting salary 12 times more than that.Maken alleged the development works started by the Congress government have come to a “grinding halt” in the national capital as Kejriwal has been busy picking up fights with everyone and trying to expand his reach to other parts of the country at the cost of the people of Delhi.

JNU to rename central library as BR Ambedkar Library

Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on Tuesday gave a go ahead to the renaming of the varsity’s central library as B R Ambedkar Library following demands from BJP’s student wing ABVP.The ABVP which is locked in an ideological battle with the Left-backed groups on campus had in April also demanded a statue of the architect of Indian Constitution be installed there. The varsity’s library committee approved the proposal which was placed on Tuesday before the Executive Council, the statutory decision making body of the university.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The proposal was placed before the council today and was approved unanimously to rename the central library as B R Ambedkar Library,” an EC member said.The Left-groups active on campus had termed the ABVP’s demands “ironic” alleging that “it’s weird on one hand the government is terrorising students who pursue Ambedkarite politics, while its student wing on the other hand is hell bent upon appropriating Ambedkar”.The ABVP had also written to President Pranab Mukherjee and HRD Ministry demanding the renaming of the library after Ambedkar, the convention centre after APJ Abdul Kalam and the stadium ground after the freedom fighter Birsa Munda. However, the EC members claimed no proposals about the convention centre and the stadium ground were placed before it on Tuesday.

India’s private sector investment sought for Cote D’Ivoirie cocoa processing

Abidjan: Cote D’Ivoirie on Wednesday sought investment from India’s private sector particularly in cocoa processing to further strengthen its trade ties with India.

President of Cote D’Ivoirie Alassane Ouattara expressed interest in Indian private sector investment during his talks with President Pranab Mukherjee, who is on a two-day trip to the Western African country as part his three-nation African tour.

President Pranab Mukherjee with Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara. ReutersPresident Pranab Mukherjee with Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara. Reuters

President Pranab Mukherjee with Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara. Reuters

“Ivory Coast Government is very keen to get Indian private sector on board…Another sector he was proudly mentioning was that of Chocolates. They produce cocoa. He says that Indian private sector could be useful as they export everything,” Secretary (Economic Relations) Amar Sinha said while giving
details of the talks between the two leaders to reporters.

He also said as per figures by January this year, the trade between the two countries stood at around $841 million and would have touched $1 billion till 31 March.

In one of the important agreements signed, Exim Bank is going to re-open its office here. It was shifted in 1992 to Sudan because of political turmoil in the country.

Headquartered in Mumbai, the bank signed a ‘Headquarter Agreement’ which will give it some privileges.

Mukherjee also raised the issue of reforms in the United Nations security council and said change is must, Sinha said.

Ouattara told Mukherjee it was an honour that he took time away from his busy schedule to visit his country and expressed regret that he could not come to India during India-Africa Forum Summit last year because of elections.

Mukherjee extended invitation to Ouattara, asking him to visit India anytime.

This is the maiden visit of the Indian President to “home of hospitality” Cote D’Ivoirie and is seen as India’s outreach to Africa. Mukherjee’s visit comes close on the heels of Vice President Hamid Ansari’s trip to Morocco and Tunisia.

Cote D’Ivoirie, also known as Ivory Coast, a francophone country, is the biggest producer and exporter of cashew nuts to India which procures nearly 80 per cent of their total exports of cashew nuts.

The President’s arrival coincided with rains which is considered a good omen by the locales.

“When a guest comes with rain, it is the most auspicious occasion in our country. The second line of our national anthem says our country is a home of hospitality,” said Brice, a local.

The country had gone through a period of turmoil in the last decade due to civil war but its development can be seen from modern expressways crisscrossing the lush green countryside.

President Pranab Mukherjee arrives in ‘home of hospitality’ Cote D’Ivoirie

Abidjan: President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday arrived in Cote D’Ivoirie on the second leg of his three- nation African tour during which he will witness the reopening of Exim bank and receive the country’s highest honour.

Presdient Pranab Mukherjee. PTIPresdient Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

Presdient Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

This is the maiden visit of the Indian President to “home of hospitality” Cote D’Ivoirie and is seen as India’s outreach to Africa. Mukherjee’s visit comes close on the heels of Vice President Hamid Ansari’s trip of Morocco and Tunisia.

Mukherjee, who arrived here on a two-day visit, was received at the airport by Cote D’Ivoirie President Alassane Ouattara. He was also accorded a warm traditional welcome from about 30 tribal chiefs who wore colourful dresses.

“Exim Bank is going to re-open its office. It was relocated to Dakar during the civil war, so they have now got all the permissions and are relocation back to Ivory Coast. This is their regional office in West Africa to monitor all the lines of credit that we have,” Secretary (Economic Relations) Amar Sinha said.

“In 2011, a new government has come in and there has been a national reconciliation…,” Sinha had said.

In a symbolic gesture, the President will be handed over key of Abidjan city, the economic capital and largest city of Cote D’Ivoirie.

Cote D’Ivoirie also known as Ivory Coast, a francophone country, is the biggest producer and exporter of cashew nuts to India which procures nearly 80 per cent of their total exports of cashew nuts.

The President’s arrival coincided with rains which is considered a good omen by the locales.

“When a guest comes with rain, it is the most auspicious occasion in our country. The second line of our national anthem says our country is a home of hospitality,” said Brice, a local.

The country had gone through a period of turmoil in the last decade due to civil war but its development can be seen from modern expressways crisscrossing the lush green countryside.

President Pranab Mukherjee leaves for 6-day tour of 3 African nations

New Delhi: On Sunday President Pranab Mukherjee embarked on a six-day visit to three African nations — Ghana, Ivory Coast and Namibia — to boost trade ties with these countries known for having “solid political system, where democracy has taken roots”.

This is the maiden visit of any Indian President to Ghana and Ivory Coast whereas to Namibia, such a visit comes after two decades.

Even though Mukherjee has toured a number of countries in the continent, he will be visiting these countries for the first time in his long political career.

He was a given a traditional send off at Rashtrapati Bhavan by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung and Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag among others.

“All these countries we look at as good countries in terms of a solid political system, where democracy has taken roots and these are all doing reasonably well in their regions,” Secretary (ER) Amar Sinha has said.

The President is accompanied by Minister of State in the PMO Jitendra Singh and MPs S S Ahluwalia and Mansukh L Mandaviya.

A file photo of Pranab Mukherjee. PTIA file photo of Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

A file photo of Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

“It’s a very important visit of the President. He is visiting two countries for the first time — Ivory Coast and Ghana, besides Namibia where an (Indian) President will visit after 21 years. He is having a number of engagements.

“This is not a ceremonial visit. It has an educational component, economic component and a community component,” MoS Singh said.

The first stop of Mukherjee will be in Accra, capital of Ghana, where there will be delegation level talks at the President’s House, which is called Flag Staff House, on Monday.

The imposing building has been built by a renowned Indian builder, Shapoorji Pallonji.

There are likely to be discussions on some agreements on visa waiver and line of credits is also in the pipeline.

Mukherjee will pay homage to Ghana’s first President Kwame Nkrumah at his mausoleum of in Accra.

He will also be unveiling a statue of Mahatma Gandhi which has been gifted by ICCR, besides planting a sapling.

“Investment in Ghana is substantial, nearly three billion dollars in various sectors. NRI’s, professionals have invested in IT, Pharmaceuticals and other areas. If you look at last three year figures, our trade has gone up nearly three times.

“Ghana’s main trade consists of gold imports, it’s nearly 80 percent of total trade. Ghanaian gold is in great demand in India,” Sinha said.

The President will also be visiting the India-Ghana Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT, set up by India, and will meet its faculty and alumni.

In the second leg of his tour, the President will arrive in Ivory Coast which had gone through a period of turmoil in the last decade.

“In 2011, a new government has come in and there has been a national reconciliation… With Ivory Coast, since this is the first visit, I guess the difference of languages must have dissuaded other higher level visits because it is one of the francophone countries,” Sinha said.

Mukherjee will be received by President Alassane Ouattara himself at the airport.

He might be honoured with the highest award of that country, besides a symbolic handing over of key of Abidjan city.

“…Exim Bank, is going to re-open its office. It was relocated to Dakar during the civil war, so they have now got all the permissions and are relocating to Ivory Coast. This is their regional office is West Africa to monitor all the lines of credit that we have,” he said.

Ivory Coast, a francophone country, is the biggest producer and exporter of cashew nuts to India which procures nearly 80 per cent of its total exports of cashew nuts.

The final stop will be Windhoek, capital of Namibia, where Mukherjee will meet President Sam Nujoma.

Namibia is a mineral and mining driven economy and India is likely to offer mining engineering training.

“The mining sector contributes roughly 10 or 11 per cent of the GDP but it gets them 50 per cent of their foreign exchange earnings so they are highly dependent on that. It is a small country with a population of around 2.5 or three millions,” Sinha said.

India is likely to sign four MoUs on deputation of Indian Army for training purposes to Namibian Defence Forces and establishment of a Centre of Excellence in Information Technology which they need.

“Then there will be an MoU between Namibian Institute of Public Administration and Management and our own IIM Ahmedabad and also between their Public Administration and our Lal Bahadur Shashtri Academy which trains civil servants because they are focused on developing their own capacities,” he said.

‘We don’t have any choice left other than sitting in Modiji’s lap’: Om Puri hints at joining BJP

Dropping a hint at joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Bollywood actor Om Puri on Wednesday said he had no choice left other than joining the saffron party.”We don’t have any choice left other than sitting in Modiji’s lap. We have seen others’ laps. (Abhi dekhiye humare paas to koi choice hai nhi, sivay Modi ji ki godi mein baithne ke. Baaki godiyan humne dekh li hain),” Puri told the media, while addressing a press conference here during the promotion of his upcoming film ‘Marathwada’.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking a pot shot at Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Puri said, “Sonia Gandhi thinks of making her son the Prime Minister, look at his age, his experience, see what he says. Are we fools? Pranab Mukherjee is very much experienced and very learned statesman and he has been in the Congress for so long. In order to make your son the prime minister, you made him the President.”He further stated that Sonia had made former prime minister Manmohan Singh a puppet for 15 years, who didn’t even look up to the eyes of the people and speak, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi at least does so.Urging all the MPs to watch ‘Marathwada’ Puri said these kind of films are made with a lot of research works.”The problem is not farmers committing suicide, the problem is they don’t get proper money for their crops. It’s a matter of shame if the farmers could not be saved. The village head should look into the matter and inform the Prime Minister,” he added.In the film, Puri plays a farmer in Marathwada, one of the worst drought-affected areas, who threatens to commit suicide after his son committed suicide under the financial burden triggered by drought, which finally catches the government’s attention.

Pulgaon Fire: Prez urges state to provide aid to the injured and families of the bereaved

New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday asked Maharashtra government and other authorities to provide all possible aid to the bereaved families as well as medical assistance to the injured in Pulgaon’s ammunition depot fire.

Presdient Pranab Mukherjee. PTIPresdient Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

Presdient Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

In a message to Chennamaneni Vidyasagar Rao, Governor of Maharashtra, the President said “I am sad to know about the massive fire at the central ammunition depot in Pulgaon, Wardha district of Maharashtra, in which some persons have lost their lives and many others are injured.

“I understand rescue as well as relief operations are currently underway. My thoughts and prayers are with the injured and the families who have lost their near and dear ones.”

At least 18 Army men have lost their lives and 15 others are injured in the major fire that broke out yesterday.

“I call upon the State Government and other authorities to provide all possible aid to the bereaved families as well as medical assistance to the injured.”

“Please convey my heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased. I wish speedy recovery to the injured persons,” Mukherjee said.

Spread over 7,000 acres, the depot is the country’s biggest ammunition storehouse.

China should give more market access for Indian products: President Pranab Mukherjee

Guangzhou: Seeking a “more equitable” bilateral trade, India on Wednesday sought from China greater market for its products like drugs and pharmaceuticals, IT and IT–related services and agro-products.

“Although the trade balance continues to be in favour of China, we look forward to expanding our commerce to make it more equitable,” President Pranab Mukherjee said while addressing a meeting of the India-China Business Forum on the second day of his four-day visit to China.

“India would like to see a greater market for our products in China – particularly in sectors where we have natural complementarities – as in the areas of drugs and pharmaceuticals, IT and IT –related services and agro- products,” he said in the southern Chinese industrial hub.

Trade deficit between India and China has risen to USD 44.7 billion during April-January period of 2015-16.

A file photo of Pranab Mukherjee. PTIA file photo of Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

A file photo of Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

India’s exports to China stood at USD 7.56 billion during the period whereas the imports has jumped to USD 52.26 billion in April-January. In 2014-15, the deficit was aggregated at USD 48.48 billion, according to official figures.

The president also promised a conducive environment for Chinese investors and urged them to participate in ‘Make in India’ and other flagship programmes of the government to boost bilateral trade.

“We will facilitate your efforts to make your investments in India profitable. We must take advantage of the opportunities that abound in the growth of both our economies,” he said at the forum, attended by industrialists and businessmen of both sides.

He said China’s economic achievements are a source of inspiration for India.

“We believe that stepping up our two way trade and investment flows will be of mutual benefit to both our nations. Our bilateral trade has grown steadily since the turn of this century. From USD 2.91 billion in the year 2000, it reached the level of USD 71 billion last year,” he noted.

Guangdong province boasts of a USD one trillion economy with high manufacturing and other industries along with being a powerful export house of China. It has sister province relationship with Gujarat and Maharashtra.

A pilot smart city cooperation project has been announced between Shenzhen and the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City in Gujarat last year.

Referring to the links of 2nd century before the Christian era between Guangdong and Kanchipuram through a direct sea route, Mukherjee said this is an exciting time for India and China to reinforce the old linkages and join hands for new.

Govt issues NEET ordinance as gazette notification

New Delhi: The Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Ordinance 2016, signed by President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday states that irrespective of any court order, states will be free to hold medical entrance exams for this academic year.

The ordinance which was issued this evening in the form of a gazette notification states that “…notwithstanding any judgement or order of any court, the provision of this section shall not apply in relation to the uniform entrance examination at the undergraduate level…

Representational image. FirstpostRepresentational image. Firstpost

Representational image. Firstpost

“…for the academic year 2016-17 conducted in accordance with any regulations made under this Act in respect of state government seats (whether in govt medical colleges or in private medical colleges) where such state has not opted for such examinations.”

The ordinance was clearly referring to a recent Supreme Court verdict which said that second phase of NEET will be held on 24 July and will be applicable to all government and private medical colleges.

At the same time, the ordinance makes it clear that there will be a “uniform entrance examination to all medical institutions at the undergraduate level and post-graduate level through such designated authority…

“…in Hindi, English and such other languages and in such manner as may be prescribed and the designated authority shall ensure the conduct of uniform entrance examination in the aforesaid manner,” the notification said.

The Union Cabinet cleared the ordinance hours after both Houses of Parliament were prorogued by the President on 19 May.

As per law, at least one of the House of Parliament should not be in session to enable the government to come out with an ordinance.

President Mukherjee arrives in China: Masood Azhar, India’s NSG membership on agenda

Guangzhou: President Pranab Mukherjee arrived in Guangzhou on Tuesday on a four-day visit to China that will see
significant political and economic push to bilateral ties while irritants like Beijing’s opposition to India’s membership of NSG and the blocking of UN bid to blacklist JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist will also figure.

Mukherjee, who is making his first visit to China as President, has made a number of trips to this country in various capacities including as Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission and Defence Minister.

In Guangzhou, the highly industrialised city in China, Mukherjee will address the India-China Business Forum in which some top Indian industrialists will also be present.

President Pranab Mukherjee. PTIPresident Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

President Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

Guangzhou is the capital of Guangdong province in southern coastal China that contributes 12 per cent of the country’s GDP and is home to a wide-ranging set of multinational and Chinese corporations.

The President will arrive in Beijing on Thursday where he will meet with President Xi Jinping and other top Chinese leadership including Premier Li Keqiang and National People’s Congress Chairman Zhang Dejiang.

In discussions with the Chinese leadership, the issues of Chinese reservations on India’s membership in the Nuclear Supplier Group and the UN ban on Azhar are expected to figure prominently.

Bilateral ties have been on an upswing since Xi’s landmark India visit in September, 2014 during which both countries had signed 12 agreements and China pledged an investment of USD 20 billion in India’s infrastructure sector.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited China in May last year during which both sides had resolved to further deepen ties in a range of areas.

However, irritants in ties cropped recently after China blocked India’s move to get a UN ban on Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Azhar and opposed granting India membership of NSG, saying it must sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to get an entry into the 48-member group.

India had countered the Chinese contention of signing NPT before becoming a member of NSG as “confusion” as NPT allows civil nuclear cooperation with non-NPT countries.

Ahead of his state visit to China, Mukherjee had told the Chinese state-run television that India seeks a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement of the boundary question which will help in achieving full potential of Sino-India relationship.

“We seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement of the boundary question and, pending the boundary settlement, to maintain peace and tranquillity in border areas. Both sides should strive to ensure that outstanding issues are addressed in a manner that demonstrates mutual sensitivity to each other’s concerns, interests and aspirations,” he had said last week.

He had also said China joining hands with India in the fight against terrorism will have “its own impact,” indicating that the two countries must comer together to deal with the challenge.

The comments came against the backdrop of Beijing blocking India’s bid to put Azhar on the UN list of proscribed terrorists.

Mukherjee is accompanied By Textiles Minister Santosh Gangwar four Members of Parliament and Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar.

Masood Azhar, NSG membership to dominate Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to China

New Delhi: In continuation of high-level engagements, President Pranab Mukherjee sets off on a four-day visit to China on Tuesday with an aim to further broaden ties between the two Asian economic giants as he will deliberate on a range of key issues including the contentious ones with the Chinese leadership.

Mukherjee is likely to raise the issues of China blocking India’s bid to get a UN ban on JeM chief Masood Azhar and its stand that New Delhi must sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to get membership of the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). The lingering boundary issue may also figure in talks.

President Pranab Mukherjee. PTIPresident Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

President Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

The President will be meeting his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, Premier Le Keqiang and other top leaders.

This will be the first visit of Mukherjee to China as President though he had visited the country a number of times in different capacities. The last Presidential visit to China was by Pratibha Patil in 2010.

Ties between the two countries have been on an upswing since Xi’s landmark India visit in September, 2014 during which both countries had signed 12 agreements and China pledged an investment of USD 20 billion in India’s infrastructure sector.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited China in May last year during which both sides had resolved to further deepen ties in a range of areas.

However, irritants in ties cropped recently after China blocked India’s move to get a UN ban on JeM chief Azhar and opposed granting India membership of NSG, saying it must sign the NPT to get an entry into the premier group.

Ahead of his visit, Mukherjee said China joining hands with India in the fight against terrorism will have “its own impact”, indicating that the two countries must comer together to deal with the challenge.

The comments came against the backdrop of Beijing blocking India’s bid to put Azhar on the UN list of proscribed terrorists.

Mukherjee will begin his visit by arriving in the highly industrialised Chinese city of Guangzhou tomorrow. The city which has strong business links with India has an economy of over USD 1 trillion.

He will be the first Indian leader to visit Guangzhou where Chan Buddhism originated and later spread to Japan and Korea.

Besides interacting with the Indian community, which has over 3,000 businessmen, Mukherjee will also address India- China Business Forum to highlight the investment opportunities in India.

There, the President will have meetings with the Governor who is also the party secretary and attend a lunch for him in his honour.

On the second leg of the visit, he will travel to Beijing where he will hold wide-ranging talks with the Chinese leadership on key bilateral, regional and global issues.

A key engagement of the President will be a roundtable of Vice Chancellors of Chinese and Indian universities. A number of MoUs will be signed between academic institutions of both the countries.

In Beijing, the President will also be talking to students of Peking university.

Mukherjee will be accompanied by a delegation of academicians including Vice Chancellors of two central universities as well as heads of IIT- Delhi and Bhubaneshwar, IIM, Ahmedabad and NIT Nagpur and Agartala.

Union Minister Santosh Ganwar and four MPs will also accompany the President as part of the delegation.

President Pranab Mukherjee seeks legal advice on NEET ordinance

President Pranab Mukherjee has sought legal advice on the ordinance to keep state boards out of the ambit of uniform medical entrance examination, NEET, for this year. The President is seeking clarification on the ordinance, official sources said on Saturday, adding he is consulting in house legal experts on certain questions.The ordinance, cleared by the Union Cabinet on Friday, is aimed at “partially” overturning a Supreme Court verdict which said all government colleges, deemed universities and private medical colleges would be covered under NEET.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Clarifying that the exemption is only for the state government seats, government sources had said that state seats which are earmarked in the private medical colleges have also been exempted.Different states earmark anything between 12-15% seats in various private medical colleges for state quota so that students from one state can get seat in another state. The remaining seats in such colleges are reserved for domicile students. Now with this Ordinance, the remaining seats meant for domicile students will come under NEET.More than 15 states were opposed to NEET and had raised issues like different syllabus and languages during the recent state health ministers’ meeting.The next phase of the exam is scheduled for July 24. Nearly 6.5 lakh students have already taken the medical entrance test in the first phase of NEET held on May 1.Once the ordinance is issued, students of state government boards will not have to sit for NEET on July 24. They, however, will have to become part of the uniform entrance exam from next academic session, government sources said.The exam will be applicable for those applying for Central government and private medical colleges. They said the students affiliated to state boards will find it tough to appear for the uniform test as early as July and such students will be at a loss compared to those who have followed the central board.

My father taught me values are worth fighting for, no matter the struggle ahead: Rahul Gandhi

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday remembered his father Rajiv Gandhi on his 25th death anniversary and said that the former prime minister had taught him to fight for values that are dear to him, no matter the hardships ahead.”Remembering Rajivji today, he touched the lives of so many as a leader, as a friend & above all as a good human being. As a father he taught me that no matter how full of struggle & hardships the path ahead. The values that we hold dear- the values of truth, freedom, equality & justice, are worth fighting for,” Rahul said in a series of tweets.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier today, Congress president Sonia Gandhi accompanied by Rahul, daughter Priyanka Gandhi and son-in-law Robert Vadra paid homage to Rajiv Gandhi at the at Veer Bhumi memorial here. President Pranab Mukherjee, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and a number of Congress party leaders also paid tributes to the former youngest prime minister of India.Rajiv, who was the sixth and youngest prime minister of India, was assassinated on May 21, 1991 at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu during a poll campaign.

Pranab Mukherjee: India-China joint action on terror will have an impact

New Delhi: China joining hands with India in the fight against terrorism will have its own impact, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Wednesday in comments that come against the backdrop of Beijing recently blocking the bid to put Masood Azhar on the UN list of proscribed terrorists.

“India and China — both huge countries — multi-cultural, multi-racial— if they come together in fighting this menace, I am sure it will have its own impact. And India always believes that every country should have a zero-tolerance policy towards terrorism and the fight is to be all out,” he told state-run television channel CCTV in an interview ahead of his visit to China next week. He was replying to a question on terrorism.

File photo of President Pranab Mukherjee. PTIFile photo of President Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

File photo of President Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

In March 2016, China had blocked India’s bid at the UN to place Azhar, the alleged Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief and alleged mastermind of 2001 Parliament and 2016 Pathankot terror attacks, on the list of global terrorists.

The President said both the countries have a “comprehensive relationship” and India considers ties with China as important.

“I would say that we have very comprehensive relationship with People’s Republic of China. And we consider it is a very important relationship for us. And that the state visit has its own significance as it provides an opportunity to the leaders to share their views, explore the possibilities of expanding cooperation between the countries’ concern and also they exchange their views, on regional, global and multilateral issues,” he said in an interview, excerpts of which were broadcast on Wednesday.

In March, China had requested the UN Sanction Committee, which is considering a ban, to keep on hold the proposal for declaring Azhar as a Globally Designated Terrorist.

India had told the Committee that not listing Azhar would expose it and other countries in South Asia to threats from the terror group and its leader.

The UN had banned JeM in 2001 but India’s efforts to ban Azhar after the Mumbai terror attack in 2008 also did not fructify as China, one of the five permanent members of the UN group with veto powers, didn’t allow the ban apparently at the behest of Pakistan again.

The US State Treasury department had designated him as Special Designated Global Terrorist in November 2010.

JNU row: University writes to students’ parents as hunger strike continues

New Delhi: The JNU administration has sent letters to parents of the students who are on an indefinite hunger strike against punishment imposed in connection with the 9 February event, asking them to instruct their wards to call off the fast.

Meanwhile, members of 40 women’s rights and human welfare organisations have written to President Pranab Mukherjee seeking revocation of punishment to students in connection with the controversial event during which anti-national slogans were allegedly raised.

Reacting to the letter sent to parents, fasting student Shweta Raj, who was admitted to AIIMS on Wednesday after her health deteriorated, said, “If the administration has courage it should talk to us and not scare our parents by sending them intimidating letters. We are adults and conscious activists”.

The strike by students entered the 15th day on Thursday. So far, 13 students, including JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid, have withdrawn from the fast while 7 others are still continuing with the strike.

JNU campus. Image courtesy: IBNLiveJNU campus. Image courtesy: IBNLive

JNU campus. Image courtesy: IBNLive

While Umar and Anirban Bhattacharya had earlier this week moved Delhi High Court challenging the punishment, eight more students approached the court on Thursday over the issue.

The administration had on Wednesday appealed the students to call off the strike as the matter is now sub-judice.

The varsity had earlier this week formed a four-member committee to look into demands of agitating students, however, the panel may take a back seat after the students moving court.

Kanhaiya, Umar and Anirban were arrested in February in a sedition case over the event and are out on bail now.

While Kanhaiya has been slapped with a penalty of Rs 10,000, Umar, Anirban and a Kashmiri student, Mujeeb Gatoo, have been rusticated for varying durations.

Financial penalty has been imposed on 14 students. Hostel facilities of two students have been withdrawn and the university has declared the campus out of bounds for two former students.

Supreme Court to get four new judges: Report

The Supreme Court has got four new judges with President Pranab Mukherjee signing their warrants of appointment tonight. Sources in the government said the file pertaining to the elevation of Justice A M Khanwilkar of Madhya Pradesh High Court, Justice D Y Chandrachud of Allahabad High Court, Justice Ashok Bhushan of Kerala High Court and senior lawyer and former Additional Solicitor General L Nageshwar Rao to the Supreme Court has been cleared by President Pranab Mukherjee. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>They are likely to take oath on Friday, the sources said, adding the notification may be issued tomorrow by the Law Ministry. Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda confirmed their appointment in a series of tweets.The Supreme Court Collegium had recommended their elevation earlier this month, the first since a new law on appointment of judges to higher judiciary was struck down by the top court. These were the first set of recommendations made by the SC Collegium for appointment as judges of the apex court after the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act came into force on April 13 last. The new law which sought to scrap the collegium system was struck down by a Supreme Court bench on October 16 last.

Imbibe ideals of Rabindranath Tagore that rejected no race, culture: President Pranab Mukherjee

President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday asked people to draw inspiration from Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore’s “spirit of India” which proclaimed the ideal of unity that rejects no race or culture.In his message on the 155th birth anniversary of Tagore, the President said it was an occasion to remember his idea of human love and selfless service and collapsing boundaries. “Gurudev made us realize that literature, histories and cultures represent common ideals of humanity that transcend national limits. It is this sense of a shared humanity, a Visva – that Tagore sang of in his literature and music,” he said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Tagore s life and work continue to be a source of immense inspiration to the people of our nation and the world. Let us on this day draw inspiration from Tagore’s words the spirit of India has always proclaimed the ideal of unity. This ideal of unity never rejects anything, any race, or any culture ,” he said in his message.Remembering Tagore, the President said he was a great admirer of nature and many of his literary works invoke the simple beauties of the natural world as he believed that religion could be found in the wonders and mysteries of nature as much as in the temples and sacred books. “Gurudev Tagore had a perfect sense of synergy and joy-the joy of submission to a divine power, the joy of surrendering the self, of participating in the vast expanse of nature and reading out to the nooks and corners of humanity,” he said.Earlier he paid floral tributes to Tagore at a function at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

OROP war over, veterans want their medals to be returned

The long-standing demand for one rank one pension (OROP) in the Indian armed forces was accepted by the Modi government last year. Enroute putting pressure on the government to get their demands approved, many of the decorated war veterans had given up their service medals. But now with OROP implemented, the veterans want their prized medals back. According to a Times of India report, nearly 20,000 medals were given back and are currently lying at President Pranab Mukherjee’s office. One of the organisations at the forefront of the agitation was the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM) who has written to the MoD, asking for their medals back. IESM chairman Lt Gen (retd) Raj Kadyan told the daily that he did not consider the unsanctioned portion of the OROP serious enough now, to merit the medals to be still kept with the government. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>There are still some grievances among a section of the veterans regarding the OROP issue saying that the government hasn’t fully met their demands. But it looks like those are not major enough for army men to part with their treasured medals won after valiantly fighting in the line of duty. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar also said earlier that most of the veterans are happy with the OROP scheme implemented by the government.

India offers support to Papua New Guinea to establish mutually beneficial ventures

Port Moresby: India offered Papua New Guinea its technology, financial wherewithal, skilled manpower and institutional support to harness the mineral-rich country’s abundant natural resources and establish mutually beneficial economic and commercial ventures.

Addressing the business leaders of Papua New Guinea, President Pranab Mukherjee underlined that the Pacific country’s economic growth does not truly reflect the potential of a country blessed with abundant natural and mineral resources.

“The challenge for Papua New Guinea is how to best utilise these abundant natural resources for value addition, generating employment and economically empowering her people,” he told members of the Papua New Guinea Business Council here.

File photo. ReutersFile photo. Reuters

File photo. Reuters

The first Indian President to visit Papua New Guinea, he said the exclusive economic zone of PNG, spread 3.1 million square kilometer, is the guarantee of future growth of this region and would provide the opportunity to the island country to lead the Pacific Ocean.

“From our experiences we can suggest to the government and policy makers of Papua New Guinea, that if you want to achieve self sufficiency in food production, you can achieve it with the application of appropriate technologies, by increasing yield per hectare, by the use of varieties of new fertilisers and an effective use of fresh water,” he said.

The President said India’s policies have created an environment for indigenous commercial, industrial and manufacturing entities to grow and sustain themselves.

He noted that economic and commercial relations between the two countries have not grown in proportion to the actual capabilities and capacities, but both recognise that they stand at the cusp of a breakthrough.

The President said India fully supports the developmental aspiration of Papua New Guinea and that a country’s natural resources should be used to support its people.

Mukherjee said there are mutual complementaries in many fields between India and Papua New Guinea which both countries can work together to improve industry practices and productivity.

“India has the agricultural knowledge and technology to boost agricultural productivity, Papua New Guinea has an abundance of fertile lands and ideal conditions for agriculture along with the availability of fresh water,” he said.

The President said while India has one of the biggest jewellery industries in the world, Papua New Guinea has gold; India has a huge energy requirement, Papua New Guinea has huge resources of Natural Gas and petroleum.

“Rice is a staple food in Papua New Guinea, as it is in large parts of India; not only is India one of the largest producers of rice in the world, but we are also the world’s largest producer of fruits, vegetables and milk,” he said.

The President said close co-operation between the two countries could bring opportunities, growth and progress as well as prosperity to the peoples of both countries and a globalised world economy provides the two countries an opportunity that should be seized.

“Let us commit ourselves to realise the potential that exists between our two countries, which will not only bring both countries closer, but in doing so will also uplift the condition of our peoples,” he said.

Mahatma Gandhi’s message still relevant in today’s world: President Pranab Mukherjee

Port Moresby: The teachings of Mahatma Gandhi are still relevant in a world vexed with “intolerance and extremism”, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Friday as he reminded the international community of the true values of harmonious co-existence and mutual respect.

Addressing the students and faculty of the University of Papua New Guinea (PNG) in Port Moresby, Mukherjee said the vision and teachings of the father of the nation “remind humanity of the true values of harmonious co-existence and mutual respect and the need to work together for the equality and freedom of all individuals.”

Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

“Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the Indian nation continues, to this day, to be revered all over the world as a beacon of peace and apostle of non-violence…in a world that is increasingly vexed by intolerance and extremism, the life and message of this great man remain an inspiring example of the power of truth and universal brotherhood,” he said.

Mukherjee, who is the first Indian President to visit PNG, called his trip “historic.”

The University campus also has a statue of Mahatma Gandhi, installed in 1997, to which the President paid his respects before making the speech.

“Gandhiji had viewed education as an integrated approach to all round personality development. He was emphatic about the difference between learning and true education, knowledge and actual wisdom and between literacy and the real lessons that we learn from life.

“We, in India, have tried to adhere to these principles as we pursue our goals in the education sector through our national planning and human resource development programmes,” he said.

Stating that India attaches “high value” to the close friendship that exists between it and the island countries of the Pacific ocean, he said PNG has a key role in India’s extended “Act East” policy and views it as a gateway to closer cooperation with the Pacific Island countries.

He recounted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during the Summit of the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation in Fiji in 2014, had announced a number of initiatives for assisting the Pacific Island countries.

“These were aimed at supporting their efforts towards their developmental goals and aspirations and addressing their specific concerns related to climate change and sustainable development.

“I am happy to note that my government has delivered on these through financial assistance, deputation of Indian experts to PNG, training of your citizens in India and simplifying the visa process which has been reciprocated by government of PNG yesterday at the banquet hosted in my honour,” he said.

The President extended invitation to students from PNG to take advantage of the scholarships announced by the country for scholars of these countries and attend institutions of higher education and centres of excellence in India.

President Pranab Mukherjee cautions judges against perils of ‘judicial activism’

President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday cautioned judges against the perils of “judicial activism”, saying the equilibrium in the exercise of authority must be maintained at all times and self-restraint should be used when confronted with such a situation.Maintaining that the Constitution is supreme, Mukherjee said “each organ of our democracy must function within its own sphere and must not take over what is assigned to the others”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Judicial activism should not lead to the dilution of separation of powers, which is a constitutional scheme. The balance of power between the three organs of the state is enshrined in our Constitution,” he said, stressing that “the Constitution is supreme”.The President said that the equilibrium in the exercise of authority must be maintained at all times and noted that the exercise of powers by the legislature and executive is subject to judicial review.”However, the only check possible in the exercise of powers by the judiciary is self-imposed discipline and self- restraint by the judiciary itself,” he said while inaugurating the fourth retreat of the judges of the Supreme Court at the National Judicial Academy here.Mukherjee, however, maintained that the independence and integrity of the judiciary is “of the highest importance, not only to the judges but also to people at large who seek judicial redress against perceived legal injury or executive excess”.”The Constitution invests our independent judiciary, especially the apex court, with extensive jurisdiction over the acts of the legislature and the executive.”Judicial review is part of the basic structure and cannot be altered even by taking the procedure provided in law. It is the judiciary which ensures the effectiveness of judicial review,” he said.He also lauded the judiciary for “enlarging the scope of justice” in a developing country like India.”For the enforcement of our developing country, our judiciary has enlarged the scope of justice. For the enforcement of fundamental rights, the Supreme Court, through judicial innovation and activism, has expanded the common law principle of ‘locus standi’,” he said.The President further noted that “it has been made possible for courts to permit anyone with sufficient interest and acting bona fide to maintain an action for judicial redress and to activate the judicial process”.”In the support of rights, courts have found a postcard written by a citizen or newspaper article to be material enough to set off judicial action. This has helped to bring justice closer to the common man,” he said.

All you need to know about Puthandu and Vishu

Tamilians and Malayalees all across the globe are celebrating the start of the Hindu new year today. A bright array of pictures and wishes have brightened up the face of social media. Political leaders too, have taken to social media to wish the country on this occasion of Hindu New Year. Pranab Mukherjee wished the country and said in a message,”On the auspicious occasion of Vishu, Rongali Bihu, Vaisakhi, Puthandu Pirappu and Naba Barsha, I extend my warm greetings and good wishes to all fellow citizens.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Puthandu defines the beginning of Tamil New yearTamil solar calendar’s first month Chitterai is ushered in with a mix of traditional customs, celebrated on the day of April 14. The tradition of placing three fruits (jack fruit, mango and banana), jewellery (mostly gold or silver), coins, flowers, beetle leaves and a mirror happens on the eve of Puthandu. This then becomes the first thing for the devotees to view upon waking up. Houses are generally decorated with ‘kolams’, and a feast marks the celebration of a prosperous new year. Here is what Vishu celebration is all about!Similar to the Tamil way of celebration, the morning begins with the sighting of Vishukkani, which is the first thing devotees view immediately after they wake up. Usually consisting of fruits, vegetables, rice, coins and holy texts, Lord Krishna’s statue forms the crux of this beautiful sight as it is decorated with garlands and lighted lamps. This is followed by the custom of elders giving money to the young ones, symbolic of sharing wealth and prosperity, known as Vishu kaineettam.No festival is of course, complete without a sumptuous meal. Several popular dishes cooked during this are mampazha pulissery, Vishu kanji, Vishu katta, and payasam, amongst others!

Padma Vibhushan Dhirubhai great wealth creator, says Kokilaben Ambani

New Delhi – Kokilaben D. Ambani, the widow of late industrialist and founder of the Reliance empire, on Monday thanked the government and President Pranab Mukherjee for conferring on him the Padma Vibhushan, the country’s second-highest civilian award.


Dhirubhai Ambani. AFP

“Dhirubhai lived a life of simplicity and humility, creating world class assets for the nation, and great wealth for the country and his fellow countrymen, on a scale never witnessed before,” Kokilaben, who received the award on behalf of her late husband, said in a statement.

“In his own words, I take this occasion to pray that thousands more Dhirubhai Ambanis are born to our great country, to accelerate our social and economic development for the lasting benefit of our over 1.3 billion fellow Indians,” she added.

Dhirubhai Ambani was conferred the award posthumously for his contributions to trade and industry — the only person chosen for the Padma Vibhushan this year under this category.

“The Padma Vibhushan awarded to Shri Dhirubhai Ambani is an honour to the indomitable spirit of Indian entrepreneurship, innovation and ambition to always do better than the best in the world,” the elder son Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries, said earlier.

The younger son, Anil Ambani, who oversees the Reliance Group, said the honour was a recognition of Indian entrepreneurship.

“I personally, and the entire Reliance family, are truly overwhelmed and deeply humbled at the award of this great national honour, the Padma Vibhushan, for the greatest entrepreneur and wealth creator in the history of India, my beloved father, Shri Dhirubhai Ambani.”