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Pak PM Nawaz Sharif writes to Sushma Swaraj wishing her speedy recovery

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has wished speedy recovery to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who underwent a kidney transplant recently.According to official sources, Sharif wrote a letter to Swaraj wishing her quick recovery.The External Affairs Minister had undergone a kidney transplant at AIIMS on December 10 and was discharged on December 19 from the hospital.

People’s response to changes in passport rules positive: Sushma Swaraj

Tue, 27 Dec 2016-11:05pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday said she has received positive feedback on the changes made in the passport rule under which norms for various categories of applicants were simplified.Swaraj had last week sought response from people after the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) announced new passport rules, making host of changes for various categories of applicants including orphaned children, sadhus, single mothers and government employees.”#PassportRules came into effect on 26 December 2016. I am happy with the positive response received from all quarters,” she tweeted. The MEA had said the changes in rules were brought in to ensure that citizens get their passports in a timely, transparent and reliable manner.

2016 in review: From Modi to Rahul – who rocked and who flopped in Indian politics

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India’s democracy is loud and vibrant, and 2016 was no different. The same political players tried to outmanoeuvre each other with clever retorts and strategies. While some thrived and soared high, others nose-dived, often risking public apathy and scary oblivion. With elections in four states and one union territory, demonetization, passage of GST and run-up to the elections in early 2017, it has been a busy year in Indian politics. Here is a report card of politicians who managed to strike the right note with their electorates and those who were left in the wayside.Politicians whose stock soared highNarendra Modi:In his third year as PM, many expected Modi to embark on some bold political moves to shore up his popularity. But few would have betted on demonetisation, a hitherto unknown term that has now entered the collective psyche of Indians. In one swoop, PM made the most audacious currency swap drill ever undertaken. While reactions from experts have been mixed, the public has so far steadfastly supported demonetization, targeted at reducing black money, counterfeit currencies, terror funding etc.The PM started the year with the afterglow of his Pakistan tour which was subsequently scuttled by the Pathankot attack. While Modi’s Pak policy has been a non-starter, domestically he has got decent support with BJP doing well in the polls, GST on the anvil and demonetization eliciting positive feedback so far. Rating: 9/10Arvind Kejriwal:He tweeted, ranted, did vipassana and again tweeted- rinse and repeat, throughout the year. Kejriwal may have fallen into the vicious trap of hyperventilation and playing the victim card over everything, retweeting inane tweets to fuel conspiracy theories, but he did what was the need of the hour. He remained PM Modi’s no 1 bête-noire, a possible focal point of concentration in case of a hung parliament in 2019. Kejriwal’s AAP has gone slightly off the rails in poll-bound Punjab, but it may again surprise pundits with a Delhi-esque performance. 2017, with elections in Punjab, Goa and Gujarat, will be a big year for Kejriwal’s future political ambitions. Rating- 8/10Mamata Banerjee: First they came with Saradha, then with Narada, then with Election Commission and then Didi won! 2016’s most decisive mandate was delivered by the Bengal voters who defied a hurriedly done Congress-Left alliance to grant TMC a massive mandate obliterating BJP to a mere footnote. But that was only the start of Didi’s political sojourn in 2016. She has attacked demonetization, like a bull in the china shop, trying to elevate her position from being a regional satrap to a serious national player. It’s early days, but the tactics seem to be working. Many parties who so far had kept Didi at bay are warming up to her. However, the persistent reports of riots from Bengal will surely keep Mamata worried as the year winds down. The land of Rabindra-Najrul falling into a cesspool of communal violence is the last thing India needs now. Rating: 7.5/10Sushma Swaraj: There are politicians, and then there is Sushma Swaraj. Even the most hardcore BJP baiter has good words to say about the ‘always happy to help’ External Affairs Minister. From rescuing Judith De-Souza to evacuating Indians stuck in the Gulf, Swaraj did all, with her easy charm and wit as suitable ally. She even helped a Pakistani girl when the relationship between the two countries had hit a new low. She won Twitter with her tweets even when critically ill from AIIMS and warmed our hearts. In the Modi govt’s uniform monochrome of clipped servitude, Swaraj has brought a dash of colour of spontaneity, and that makes her even more special. Rating: 7/10Pinarayi Vijayan: Vijayan not only defeated the Congress (the easier part), he also got the better of VS Achuthanandan to become CM of Kerala. With Bengal looking out of bounds, Kerala remains the last communist bastion. Kerala off late has received massive bad press for continued skirmishes between BJP and Left workers. The acid test for Vijayan is to crack down on such attacks firmly without looking at party affiliations. Rating: 6.5/10Special mention: J Jayalalithaa bucked trend of many decades to get re-elected as CM of Tamil Nadu. With DMK in the wane, it was the ideal time for her to really consolidate her party’s position in the state. Sadly, after prolonged illness, Tamil Nadu CM passed away in December, leaving her party AIADMK and the state to possible political uncertainty in the future.Politicians who failed to impress:Rahul Gandhi:Is that a bird, is that a plane, no it is the Sahara papers! Rahul Gandhi completely lost the plot in 2016, rehashing allegations made by others, comparing demonetization to an atomic bomb among others. The more he raised his voice, the lesser he made sense. With a Congress in free fall, throughout the year​, Rahul failed to outline how his party can be the better alternative. He travelled copious miles across the length and breadth of the country and gave numerous speeches. Full marks for trying, but sadly zero for execution. Rating: 1.5/10Smriti Irani: Fiery Smriti Irani was cut down to size (pun intended) when she was shunted from the high-profile HRD Ministry to the Textiles Ministry. While she was a favourite with the die-hard BJP fans for picking up fights with detractors, for the BJP top leadership, it became an unwanted distraction. Her ham-handed management of the Rohit Vemula and Kanhaiya Kumar saga took the sheen away from the Modi govt’s achievements among sections of the youth. Finally it cost Smriti her ministry. Ratings: 2/10Samajwadi Party leadership:When the year started, the Samajwadi Party was sitting pretty with the polls showing good numbers for the Akhilesh govt. But it has been all downhill since then, as an ugly power struggle played out in full public glare. The ageing patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav has much to ponder about with another round of fights ensuing with the distribution of tickets. Can SP get its house in order before the elections? Is the party headed for a split? 2017 hopes to provide us with all these answers. Ratings: 2.5/10Anandiben Patel:Anandiben Patel ‘retired’ citing her age, merely a year before polls are due in Gujarat. Gujarat is one state where BJP’s power has steadily depleted in the last two years with Modi leaving the state to his trusted lieutenant. The graft allegations and the botched up handling of the Patel agitation led to Anandiben’s unceremonious ouster. The agitation made a hero out of Hardik Patel. Can he hurt BJP electorally will only be known next year. Rating: 3/10Mehbooba Mufti: Hardliner Mufti took over the role of CM of J&K after her father’s demise. An alliance with BJP was always going to be tricky, but the Burhan Wani saga tested it fully. Mehbooba was caught in the midst, accused of not being tough towards separatists by one side and not showing empathy to those injured by others. She has survived and the alliance remains intact, but 2017 promises to be more challenging for her. Rating: 4/10Special mention: It was always going to be an uphill task for Assam’s Tarun Gogoi. Yet the octogenarian fought hard against massive anti-incumbency, saffron surge and general fatigue with the Congress. Finally, he lost the elections meekly after 15 years at the helm. His political career may be in terminal sunset, but Gogoi will be remembered as one of the rare politicians from North East to earn a national recognition due to his longevity and good work.This was DNA’s pick of 10 politicians who were in the limelight for the right or wrong reasons. Others like Arun Jaitley, Subramanian Swamy, Sonia Gandhi, Owaisi also made their mark, but didn’t change the political discourse dramatically. Now, all over to 2017 and the mother of all elections in Uttar Pradesh.

Norway authorities should return Indian child Aryan to natural parents: Sushma Swaraj

New Delhi: Ahead of its Ambassador’s meeting with authorities in Norway involving the custody of a child of a Indo-Norwegian family, on Tuesday India made it clear that it wants the five-and-a-half year boy united with his natural parents.

Taking a hard stance, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said she refuses to accept that foster parents can take better care of the child than natural parents.

In a series of tweets, Swaraj said, “Our Ambassador in Norway is meeting the Norwegian authorities today regarding Aryan. I refuse to accept that foster parents can take better care of the child than the natural parents.

“The foster parents are totally ignorant of the Indian culture and our food habits. We want restoration of Aryan to his natural parents.”

Sushma Swaraj. PTISushma Swaraj. PTI

Sushma Swaraj. PTI

Indian national Gurvinderjit Kaur and her husband, who is a Norwegian national, have alleged that authorities in that country have taken away their son, also a Norwegian national, on a frivolous complaint of abuse.

Kaur had also written to the Ministry seeking help in getting back her son, who has been taken away by the Norway Child Welfare Services.

This is the third case since 2011 when children have been taken away from their Indian-origin parents by the authorities in Norway on the grounds of abuse.

In 2011, a three-year-old and a one-year-old were separated from their parents, prompting the then UPA government to take up the issue with Norway.

The Norwegian court later allowed the children to be reunited with their parents.

In December 2012, an Indian couple was jailed on charges of ill treatment of their children, 7 and 2 years. Later, they were sent to their grandparents in Hyderabad.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 11:07 IST

Will spare no effort to secure Father Tom’s release from IS captivity, says Swaraj

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday said that she will spare no effort to secure the release of abducted Indian priest Father Tom Uzhunnalil.Swaraj’s reaction came after the Indian Catholic priest abducted from Yemen this year appealed to Pope Francis and the Union government through a purported video to secure his release from his captors.”I have seen the video from Fr Tom. He is an Indian citizen and the life of every Indian is most precious for us,” Swaraj said in a series of tweets.Stating that the government managed to secure the release of Father Alex Prem Kumar and Judith D’Souza, she added, “We have spared no effort and we will spare no effort to secure Father Uzhunnalil’s release from captivity.”In the video, aired by news channels in Kerala, Father Uzhunnalil said, “If I were a European priest, I would have been taken more seriously. I am from India. I am perhaps not considered as of much value.””Dear Pope Francis, dear Holy Father, as a Father please take care of my life. I am very much depressed. My health is deteriorating,” he said in the video.The veracity of the video, which was uploaded from YouTube and Facebook, could neither be independently verified nor was the period when it was shot known.Father Uzhunnalil, who hails from Kerala, was abducted in March by terror group Islamic State which attacked an old-age home run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in southern Yemeni city of Aden.He claimed his captors have made many contacts with the Government of India — President and Prime Minister.External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had informed Parliament that Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself has spoken to various countries through which contacts could be established in Yemen.(With agency inputs)

NRI couple in Norway lose child’s curtody: Mother writes to govt; MEA to take action

New Delhi: The Indian woman, whose son has been taken away by the Norwegian authorities, has approached the Indian Embassy in Oslo seeking government’s intervention, following which the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said it will now chalk out the future course of action in the case.

Gurvinderjit Kaur has approached the Indian government with the “formal written” request in this regard, BJP leader Vijay Jolly said.

Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. File photo. AFPUnion External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. File photo. AFP

Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. File photo. AFP

Kaur and her husband, who is a Norwegian national, have alleged that authorities in that country have taken away their 5-year-old son Aryan, also a Norwegian national, on a frivoulous complaint of abuse.

Confirming that Kaur has approached the government, MEA officials said they were now “empowered” to pursue the matter with the Norwegian authorities and they will chalk out the future course of action in the case.

The Indian couple had first sought Jolly’s help in getting back the custody of their child, after which he wrote to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who had said that India will provide them help.

In its response, the Norwegian Embassy here had asked for “restraint” in the case, assuring that it is being handled with “complete sensitivity and awareness”.

According to Jolly, the Indian Ambassador “is slated to meet highly placed Norwegian officials in Oslo on 27 December”.

Jolly also maintained that according to the mother, the child is being “daily served porridge and bread while he is fond of Indian food”.

This is the third case since 2011 when children have been taken away from their Indian-origin parents by the authorities in Norway on the grounds of abuse.

In 2011, a three-year-old and a one-year-old were separated from their parents, prompting the then UPA government to take up the issue with Norway. The Norwegian court later allowed the children to be reunited with their parents.

In December 2012, an Indian couple was jailed on charges of ill treatment of their children, 7 and 2 years. Later, they were sent to their grandparents in Hyderabad.

First Published On : Dec 25, 2016 21:37 IST

Anna Hazare writes letter to Kejriwal, says painful that Delhi CM didn’t fulfill promises

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare today castigated Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for “not fulfilling the promise” of putting his party’s donors list in public domain, at a time when the AAP has been questioning the Congress and BJP over their source of funding.In a letter to Kejriwal, dated December 23, the veteran activist, popularly known as Anna and also a ‘father-figure’ for the AAP, took a dig at the Delhi Chief Minister and said if change has to be brought into the system, then the leadership should “walk the talk”. “For the betterment of country and the society, I kept aside several important works related to people in Maharashtra and gave you my time without any selfish interest and dreamt big for the country. But my dream has been shattered,” Hazare, who launched an anti-graft crusade, said.He also referred to a letter written to him by Munish Raizada, a US-based medico and suspended AAP member, pointing out that donors’ records have gone off the party website since June 2016. Raizada also launched ‘no chanda’ (no donation) satyagraha at Raj Ghat today. AAP’s national treasurer Raghav Chadha claimed that Hazare was being misled by Congress leaders on the issue while the BJP is using state agencies to threaten its donors.On behalf of Kejriwal, he also challenged BJP President Amit Shah and Congress President Sonia Gandhi to come out clean on party donors and have a debate on the issue at Jantar Mantar. “You made several promises, which includes putting the donations received by the AAP on the party website. “The talks of social change, which we espoused, are fading and politics and money are becoming important. The sense of humility is also fading.”Or else, you would not have taken off the names of people from your website who gave donations to the party during trying times,” Hazare said.He also expressed displeasure over functioning of the AAP. Hazare said that while other parties get donations from people for their “selfish interests”, people give funds to AAP to bring in change. “You penned a book on Gram Swaraj. The way you are going…is this the way to Gram Swaraj? This is the question before me. What is the difference between your party and other political outfits?” Hazare said.”You promised change to me and the people. It pains because the promise has not been fulfilled. You have made several such promises to me and people,” Hazare said.Chadha said AAP is the only party that has transparency in its source of funding and 92 per cent of its donations come through banking channels like net banking, credit and debit card and cheques. “Congress leaders like Muish Raizada are misleading Anna while BJP uses state agenices to harass our donors. Raizada has joined the Congress,” Chadha claimed.

Body of Delhi man to be brought from Tokyo tomorrow: Sushma Swaraj

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said the mortal remains of a man from Delhi, who died of cardiac arrest in Tokyo two weeks ago, will be brought back home tomorrow, days after his family sought government’s help citing financial constraints.Last week, the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) had sought Swaraj’s intervention after Radha Debi, wife of deceased Gopal Ram, approached it seeking help, saying his poor family was unable to bring the body back.Responding to the request, Swaraj had said government will bring back the body without delay and bear the expense. “The mortal remains will reach New Delhi by ANA flight from Tokyo on 24 December at 2400 hrs,” Swaraj tweeted today.The External Affairs Minister is known for her prompt response in addressing problems of distressed Indians abroad.Gopal Ram, 48, a resident of Ambedkar Nagar, had gone to Tokyo in September last year looking for greener pastures. He died of a cardiac arrest in the Japanese capital on December 10. “The family is severely distressed and needs your kind support. As we all aware you have been extremely pro-active in resolving such matters. Therefore, I am forwarding the representation along with this letter for your kind perusal. Hoping for your support in this matter,” DCW Chairperson Swati Maliwal had said in a letter to Swaraj last week. Gopal was working in Tokyo as a cook in a hotel and according to a family member he was fired within three months after which he started working in some local shop. His financial condition was bad because of which he was in distress, he said.On December 10, the family received a call from a person who worked with Gopal, saying that he has passed away following a heart attack.

Sushma Swaraj released from hospital

India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj is released from hospital after a kidney transplant.

EAM Sushma Swaraj discharged from AIIMS post kidney transplant surgery

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday was discharged from the AIIMS hospital here, after undergoing a kidney transplant surgery.According to the statement from the hospital, Swaraj who underwent kidney transplant operation on 10th December, has shown steady recovery. “Her postoperative recovery was closely monitored by a Team of Transplant Surgeons, Physicians (Nephrologist, Cardiologist, Endocrinologist, Pulmonologist) and Anaesthesist & Critical care expert, Physiotherapist, Resident doctors and Specialised Transplant Nurses,” the AIIMS spokesperson said in a statement. Swaraj, who has been suffering from diabetes for almost 20 years, was admitted to AIIMS on November 7th. She was shifted out of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) last week and was recovering well, AIIMS Director Dr MC Mishra had said.The 64-year-old BJP leader was admitted to AIIMS in April also when she underwent treatment for pneumonia and other health issues.However, despite being in the hospital Swaraj was seen keeping track of the news reports and responding when she could.On Sunday, she still took time out to offer help to the widow, who lost her husband in Japan recently.Responding to the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chairperson Swati Maliwal’s request, the minister said, “We (Government) will bear all the expenses and do this without delay.”Her response to the Indian comes just days after Foreign Policy magazine named her a ‘Global Thinker’ for her use of ‘novel Twitter diplomacy’.

Swaraj continues to promptly respond to Twitter pleas, promises help in bringing back body of Indian from Tokyo

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Recuperating after a kidney transplant at AIIMS here, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj continues to promptly respond to pleas for helping Indians abroad — this time from a family which is unable to bring back the mortal remains of a member who died in Tokyo.”We will bear all the expenses (to bring back the body) and do this without delay,” Swaraj on Sunday tweeted from the hospital bed here, a day after the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) sought her help for the family of Gopal Ram who died eight days ago in the Japanese capital.DCW Chief Swati Maliwal had written to Swaraj seeking intervention after Radha Debi, wife of Gopal, approached the Commission seeking help, saying the family was unable to bring the body due to financial constraints.The External Affairs Minister is known for her prompt response in addressing problems of distressed Indians abroad, many of whom have approached her through twitter. Even during her hospitalisation, Swaraj, 64, who underwent a kidney transplant on December 10, has continued to respond to requests for help.
ALSO READ American woman alleges gang-rape, Sushma Swaraj assures action against culprits48-year-old Gopal Ram, a resident of Ambedkar Nagar here, had gone to Tokyo in September last year looking for greener pastures. He died of a cardiac arrest in the Japanese capital on December 10.”The family is severely distressed and needs your kind support. As we all aware you have been extremely pro-active in resolving such matters. Therefore, I am forwarding the representation along with this letter for your kind perusal. Hoping for your support in this matter,” Maliwal said in a letter to Swaraj on Saturday.
ALSO READ Great news: Sushma Swaraj recovering well after successful kidney transplant Gopal was working in Tokyo as a cook in a hotel and, according to a family member, he was fired within three months after which he started working in some local shop.His financial condition was bad because of which he was in distress, he said.On December 10, the family received a call from a person who worked with Gopal, saying that he has passed away following a heart attack.”Since then we have been in touch with Indian Embassy officials in Japan and also have written to the MEA but they have asked us to arrange for several documents and it is becoming extremely difficult for us to arrange things as we are financially not sound.”We want the government of India to help us bring back the body of my father so that we can perform his last rites,” Gopal’s son Jatin said.

Bhushan backs Kejriwal demand for probe into source of funding of political parties

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Swaraj Abhiyan leader Prashant Bhushan on Saturday backed Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s demand for establishment of a commission to probe the source of funding of political parties, saying the move to exempt them from paying tax while depositing old notes will make them a medium to convert black money into white.Bhushan also accused the central government of “constantly lying” on the issue of demonetization and said the figures of old 500 and 1000 notes in circulation is being changed constantly. Addressing a news conference, Bhushan said the central government is not serious about taking any decision to tackle the menace of black money. “By allowing them to deposit old notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 will make political parties a means to convert black money into white,” the activist-lawyer said, as he questioned the lack of transparency in funding of political parties. Bhushan, who is known to be an ardent critic of his one-time friend Kejriwal, said the formation of the commission as demanded by the Delhi chief minister is very important.”There is already an existing loophole that is being exploited by most of the major political parties to convert black money into legitimate political donations up to Rs 20,000.”Taking advantage of this clause, most parties declare an overwhelming majority of their income as cash donation under this limit and escape scrutiny of the source of its donations,” Bhushan said.Yogendra Yadav, president of Swaraj India, political arm of Swaraj Abhiyan, claimed that the government has a list of blacklisted tax haven countries, but they have now removed Cyprus from the list with retrospective effect from 2013.”So there will be no scrutiny of funds which have been channeled from the country,” Yadav said. Swaraj Abhiyan also announced a ‘Halla Bol’ rally at Jantar Mantar tomorrow against black money and corruption.Yadav claimed the rally will attended by “anti-corruption crusaders” Justice (retd.) Santosh Hegde among others.

Sushma Swaraj can help change organ donation law in India

It is indeed heartening to know that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj underwent a successful kidney transplant operation at the All India Institute of Medical sciences (AIIMS) on Saturday (December 10) and that she is recuperating fast. In a few weeks time, she should be able to resume her duty at the South Block to guide our country’s relationship with the larger world.

Swaraj has been one of the most successful ministers of the Narendra Modi government. She has succeeded in enhancing India’s international profile through her astute diplomatic skills, her legendary gift of the gab and her exemplary personal conduct. The manner in which she made the world know about her ailment and treatment (compare that with the absolute secrecy in J Jayalalithaa’s case) has endeared her to her countrymen and women.

However, one would hope that when Swaraj recovers completely from the post-operational rehabilitative process, she would spare a thought to around two lakh men and women across the country who have been waiting for years to get the official nod for a kidney transplant. It is common knowledge hat the denial of permission for a kidney transplant to those who carry little personal or political weight is common and thousands are dying every year due to it.

Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. File photo. AFP

Consider the rules for being eligible for a kidney transplant in India. If a near relative of the patient is willing to donate his or her kidney, then there is little problem. Private hospitals would expedite the process as they charge a fortune for the transplant. In the government hospitals, the delay could be due to usual red-tape in convening the mandatory meeting of the authorised committee to consider the requests, to examine the relevant papers and to interview the concerned persons. It depends on the relatives of the patients as to how strongly they can push the official machinery to get it going fast. Those who are familiar with the ways of making the government institutions work get the sanction quickly, but those who just wait for their turn not knowing where and how to push the system suffer a delay.

In all such cases, the permission for the kidney transplant may get delayed, but, usually, not denied. That is the advantage of a near relative offering a kidney for transplant. But then the definition of a near relative is quite specific: one’s parents or children, grandparents or grandchildren, spouse or siblings. If the donor is one of them, then the patient can breathe easy.

But, if any “near relative” of a patient is unavailable, unwilling, or unfit to donate a kidney, then the long arm of the law takes its toll. The law provides that a non-relative donor can be considered only if one is willing to offer a kidney out of “affection and attachment” to the donee, or for a special reason, but never out of consideration of money. Such a provision virtually blacks out the possibility of a kidney patient getting a donor.

How many ordinary patients will get a donor who would offer a vital organ like kidney out of “affection and/or attachment” for a distant relative or a non-relative? Such offers, however, may pour in for big celebrities. It was the same case with Swaraj who is a political celebrity. When she broke the news of her kidney ailment over Twitter, she was flooded with the kidney offers from scores of Indians who admire her for her personal and political standing. As the Indian Express reported, her doctors selected a 40-year old woman — out of a brood of non-relative donor offers — to service the need of the ailing political leader.

Now consider the timeline in Swaraj’s case: She made the announcement of her ailment over social media on 16 November, her kidney transplant happened on 10 December. In a span of fewer than four weeks, the donor was selected, mandatory testings for compatibility of donor-donee organ were carried out, all official permissions kicked in and the transplant was carried out. It must have been a record of sorts in the history of the AIIMS in showing such alacrity in carrying out a transplant of a kidney offered by a non-relative donor.

But then Swaraj deserved every bit of this special treatment, not for her own sake, but for the sake of the country. However, as a senior leader of the ruling party and the government, now it would be her turn to consider the plight of those waiting for a transplant from a non-relative donor. For most of them, there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel.

And that is because the official committee to screen such applications is usually not convinced that a non-relative donor is offering the vital organ just out of affection and attachment, and not out of mercenary considerations. The fact that most of these men and women, who come forward to donate, are from the poorer strata of the society and are mobilised by middlemen to offer a kidney in consideration of a certain sum of money, doesn’t help either.

Not that the kidney patients like it that way; but the law of the land does not give them any other option; they are left with a Hobson’s choice – either adopt the illegal course or embrace an impending death. Many such illegal transplants happen; but if and when they come to light, the harsh law of the land entails that the donor, donee, their relatives, middlemen and the doctors and administrators associated with the illegal transplant go to jail.

It is a harsh law, which is tilted in favour of the powerful who can manage to find a donor, and whose altruistic credentials, the official committee is ready to endorse. It is a law against the non-elite for whom it is virtually impossible to convince the committee about the altruism of the donor. There are examples such as that of a Delhi professor offering a kidney to a stranger in Kerala as was reported in the media, but they are rare; it has something to do with the elevating religious and moral sentiment of the donor.

The draconian law was envisaged with good intentions — to ensure that the poor are not exploited and made to part with vital organs by organised gangs — but then the illegal racket that thrives ensures that some poor people are misled into extortionist tactics, lose their body part and get a little money in return.

Why can’t the government make a law allowing voluntary donation of an organ in exchange for a minimum stipulated amount of money? The donor can bargain for a higher sum too, and the entire money could be deposited in the donor’s bank account before the transplant process kicks in.

With a proper monitoring mechanism in place that would make the system open and transparent; it would create a win-win situation for both the donor and the donee.

Unfortunately, our political establishment often fails to rise to the occasion to offset the acute problems, especially in the health sector that doesn’t promise much political dividend.

However, if Swaraj, who has gone through the trauma behind a kidney ailment, takes the lead to change the law to benefit all, she would win the sincere gratitude of thousands of sufferers and relieve them of their suffering.

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 12:44 IST

Indonesia: Indian facing gallows on drug smuggling charges may not be pardoned

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An Indian national facing death sentence in on drug smuggling charges may not be pardoned, President Joko Widodo has indicated, saying the capital penalty is handed down only to individuals who have carried out serious crimes and is not based on nationality.Ahead of his state visit to India, Widodo said, “My duty as President is to uphold the law and Indonesia’s sovereignty. This will be applied in all cases, including those involving capital punishment”.Asked if he would pardon Indian national Gurdeep Singh, who is facing death sentence in Indonesia on drug charges since 2004, the president said, “The death penalty is imposed only on individuals who have carried out serious crimes, and is not based on nationality.” Indonesia has 1.2 million people addicted to drugs, 40 to 50 of them die daily due to drug abuse and 4.5 million are undergoing rehabilitation, he said.Singh, 48, was arrested at the Soekarno Hatta airport in 2004 for smuggling 300 gms of heroin. His execution by firing squad was deferred on July 29 this year.External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at that time had said that India was exploring all legal options to prevent his execution.Appealing to the Indonesian government for mercy to Singh, his wife Kulwinder Kaur had said he has spent 14 years in jail which was enough penance for his crime if he was guilty and he should be sent back.Widodo, however, said, “Drugs are a serious threat to Indonesia, and in particular for the country’s younger generation. Indonesia is now facing an emergency situation due to illicit drug trafficking and abuse.”Indonesia continues to act decisively to address this drug problems through law enforcement and international cooperation, he said.”We also run a variety of programmes to increase public awareness of the dangers of drugs,” the president said adding that death penalty remains a part of Indonesian law.

Sushma Swaraj undergoes kidney transplant at AIIMS

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Saturday underwent a kidney transplant at AIIMS, with the organ being harvested from a living unrelated donor.According to sources at AIIMS, the nearly five-hour-long surgery was conducted at the cardio-thoracic centre by a team of doctors including AIIMS Director MC Mishra, surgeons VK Bansal, V Seenu and nephrologist Sandeep Mahajan. “The surgery started at 9.00 am and ended at 2.30 pm following which the minister has been shifted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in the same building,” the sources said. “Living, unrelated donor could be anyone who is emotionally attached to the recipient, such as friend, a relative, a neighbour or an in-law. As no suitable donor was available in the immediate family, the transplant was done with the kidney from a living unrelated donor. “The clearance from the authorisation committee was obtained prior to the procedure,” the sources at AIIMS said, adding.According to doctors, 64-year-old Swaraj has been suffering from diabetes for quite a long time. After the kidney failure diagnosis, she was put on maintenance dialysis. “She was undergoing dialysis thrice a week,” a senior doctor said.On November 16, Swaraj had tweeted that she was in AIIMS because of kidney failure. “I am in AIIMS because of kidney failure. Presently, I am on dialysis. I am undergoing tests for a kidney transplant. Lord Krishna will bless,” Swaraj had tweeted. Swaraj, who has been in and out of the hospital for last few months, was admitted to AIIMS on November 7.After Swaraj made public her health condition on social media, support had poured in for her with several people offering their kidneys for transplant. Earlier she was admitted to AIIMS in April for treatment of pneumonia and other health issues.

DNA Evening Must Reads: Jayalalithaa buried next to mentor MGR, Russia protests against India’s cash crunch and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1) Live | Amma no more: Jayalalithaa buried next to mentor MGROver two tonne of flowers from several destinations were used by about 40 workers who worked for 10 hours to prepare the Army truck and gun carriage for the final journey of Jayalalithaa. Thousands came out on the streets to pay their last respects and have a last glimpse of their leader popularly known as Amma. Jayalalithaa, who died of a massive cardiac arrest late Monday evening, was buried next to the memorial of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) founder and her mentor MG Ramachandran at Marina beach. Read more…2) Amma no more: O Panneerselvam breaks down as PM pays floral tributes to JayaAn inconsolable Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam hugged Narendra Modi emotionally on a couple of occasions as the Prime Minister approached the casket containing Jayalalithaa’s body to pay his last respects. The atmosphere was surcharged as Modi, amid tight security, walked into Rajaji Hall, where the AIADMK supremo’s body is lying in state. As he walked towards Panneerselvam after placing a wreath near the body, the latter broke down and hugged him. Read more…3) Sushma Swaraj’s kidney transplant likely this weekend, donor unrelatedExternal Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is expected to undergo a kidney transplant at AIIMS this weekend, with the organ being harvested from a living unrelated donor. “Living unrelated donor could be anyone who is emotionally attached to the recipient, such as friend, a relative, a neighbour or an in-law. As no suitable donor was available in the immediate family, the transplant will be done with the kidney from a living unrelated donor. “As of now the transplant is scheduled to take place this weekend. The clearance from the authorisation committee has been obtained,” sources at AIIMS said, adding Sawaraj’s pre-transplant process was complete. Read more…4) No plan to impose tax on jewellery, farmers’s produce: Ravi Shankar PrasadUnion Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said that there was no plan to impose tax on farmers for their produce or on women for their jewellery. Addressing a rally in Nainital as part of the BJP’s ongoing parivartan yatra, Prasad said the country was moving towards a cashless economy under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi whose demonetization move had made the rich bow to poor for the first time in the country. Read more…5) Demonetization: Russia lodges protest, says cash shortage affecting working of its MissionRussia has strongly protested with India on cash shortage affecting the working of its Mission after demonetization, and wants a quick resolution of the issue, failing which it may explore other options including summoning Indian diplomat in Moscow. In a letter, Russian Ambassador Alaxander Kadakin has raised the issue of diplomats not being able to withdraw enough money hampering the normal functioning of the mission and sought intervention of the External Affairs Ministry so that the withdrawal restrictions for diplomatic staff are lifted. Read more…

Heart of Asia: Pak PM’s foreign advisor exchanges pleasantries with PM Modi, no clarity over bilateral meeting

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the midst of heightened Indo-Pak tensions, Pakistani Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz arrived this evening to attend the Heart of Asia conference amid speculation about whether the two sides will have bilateral talks on the sidelines of the conclave to break the ice in ties. Hours after his arrival, Aziz attended a dinner where he exchanged pleasantries with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Aziz was earlier scheduled to arrive here tomorrow but came a day early due to prevailing weather condition. Almost the entire northern India has been affected by thick fog for the last two days, delaying flights and train operations. Aziz advanced his visit after he was informed about the weather condition, sources said. There was no clarity on whether there will be a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the conference. Interestingly, in a goodwill gesture, Aziz sent a bouquet to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, extending his “sincere good wishes for her full and speedy recovery” from illness. Swaraj, undergoing treatment for renal failure, is not attending the Heart of Asia conference and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will head the Indian delegation at the Ministerial deliberations.Aziz, who arrived here on a special flight, was received at the airport by Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit. Pakistan and India had held a meeting during last year’s Heart of Asia Summit in Islamabad during which both countries had agreed to start a ‘Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue’ which was to cover all outstanding issues. The resumption of the dialogue could, however, not take place due to the Pathankot terror attack in January this year.Earlier this week, Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit had said Pakistan was ready for unconditional resumption of dialogue if India was ready.India has made it clear it will never accept continued cross border terrorism as the ‘new normal’ in bilateral ties with Pakistan and that talks cannot take place in an atmosphere of “continued terror”. Tension between the two countries escalated after the cross border terror attack on an army base in Nagrota. During tomorrow’s proceedings at the conference, India is likely to step up its efforts to corner Pakistan diplomatically by mobilising support for concrete action against state-sponsored terrorism. Afghanistan, which has also been witnessing increased attacks from terror groups operating from Pakistani soil, is set to push hard for a regional counter-terror framework with binding commitment at the annual HoA conference, a platform set up in 2011 to assist the war-ravaged country in its transition.

Aziz sends bouquet to Sushma, wishes speedy recovery

Sat, 3 Dec 2016-09:35pm , Amritsar , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> In a goodwill gesture, Pakistani Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz on Saturday sent a bouquet to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and wished her a speedy recovery.The bouquet was delivered to Swaraj’s residence this evening. Swaraj is being treated at AIIMS for kidney failure. “Aziz sent a bouquet to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at her residence this evening extending his good wishes for her speedy recovery,” a source said. Aziz is representing Pakistan at the Heart of Asia conference tomorrow which will be jointly inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

Sushma Swaraj asks Kerala govt to expedite trial of Japanese woman rape case

Fri, 2 Dec 2016-09:45pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has asked the Kerala government to expedite the trial in a case of alleged rape of a Japanese woman in the state’s Kovalam district last month.In a series of tweets, she said, “I asked for a report from Government of Kerala about the rape of a Japanese tourist on 25 Nov 2016. We have received the report.””The statement of the victim has been recorded before a Magistrate and the accused has been apprehended.””I have asked Government of Kerala to expedite the trial and keep us informed about the case.”According to Kerala Police, the 35-year-old Japanese woman was allegedly raped by a man from neighbouring Karnataka at Kovalam and a case was registered against him under section 376 (punishment for rape) of the Indian Penal Code.

Sushma Swaraj seeks report on Indian in Dubai who walked 1,000 kms for justice

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has sought a report from the Indian consulate in Dubai about an Indian man who walked more than 1,000 kilometres over two years as he had no money to attend court proceedings for obtaining a flight ticket to return home.”I have asked for a report from Indian Embassy in Dubai,” Swaraj tweeted yesterday.Jagannathan Selvaraj, who hails from Tiruchirappalli, braved traffic, heat, sandstorms and exhaustion as he made his way through the busy highways of Dubai, travelling a distance of 22 kilometre one way from his Sonapur accommodation to attend the labour court proceedings.A bus trip from Sonapur to Karama costs a few dirhams, but Selvaraj did not have money to travel by bus and was forced to spend two hours for a one-way trip and another two hours for the return journey after every court hearing.

We will not accept continued terror as the ‘new normal’: India says no to talk with Pakistan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India on Thursday made it clear that there will be no bilateral talks with Pakistan on the sidelines of Heart of Asia Summit. MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said that India is favour in talks but not in current situation. Swarup said, “We will not accept continued terror as the new normal in bilateral ties”. He clarified that India hasn’t received any proposal for meeting from Pakistan. On Nagrota attack, where 7 security men were killed Vikas Swarup said, “We are awaiting specific details on Nagrota attack before deciding on next step. Govt has taken the incident very seriously and will do what it feels is required for our national security”. Dawn report rules out bilateral meet with PakistanPakistan will have no bilateral meeting with India on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia conference in Amritsar where the Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz is set to participate on Sunday, according to a media report. Aziz is leading the Pakistani delegation to the two-day conference of the process that focuses on regional cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbours for improving connectivity and tackling security threats.”Pakistan and India would not hold a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia ministerial conference being held in Amritsar,” Dawn reported, citing officials. “For now we don’t see any willingness on their part…the ball is in India’s court, for they know we are willing but we don’t know whether they are willing,” it quoted an official as saying.Pakistan and India had held a meeting here at the last HoA ministerial conference and agreed to start ‘Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue’ that was to cover all outstanding issues.The resumption of the dialogue could, however, not take place due to the Pathankot terror attack in January this year. An official was also quoted as saying that Pakistan had not formally reached out to India for a bilateral meeting in Amritsar. Pakistan’s High Commissioner in India Abdul Basit, while participating in BBC Urdu’s ‘Facebook Live’ interaction yesterday, said Pakistan was ready for unconditional resumption of dialogue if India is ready.External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is not attending the Heart of Asia ministerial meeting. “Since Sushma Swaraj is not attending, it’s difficult to have a meeting with anyone else,” the daily quoted a Pakistani diplomat as saying. “The Pakistani side believes that the way out of the current stalemate in ties is India giving up its intransigence,” the daily said.”India has to make up its mind. They are not willing to discuss Kashmir,” the official said. India has been non-committal about holding bilateral talks with Aziz but has made it clear that “talks and terror cannot go hand in hand”. With PTI inputs

Sartaj Aziz to visit India on Sunday for Heart of Asia meet

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz is set to visit India on Sunday to attend the Heart of Asia meet in Amritsar, according to a media report.The two-day conference is being held in Amritsar this weekend (December 3-4) and Aziz visit Amritsar on Sunday, Dawn News reported.Aziz is leading the Pakistani delegation to the meeting of the process that focuses on regional cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbours for improving connectivity and tackling security threats. But no meeting with Indian officials is scheduled on the sidelines, the report said.”For now we don’t see any willingness on their part…the ball is in India’s court, for they know we are willing but we don’t know whether they are willing,” an official was quoted as saying.Pakistan and India had held a meeting in Islamabad at the last Heart of Asia ministerial meeting and agreed to start ‘Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue’ that was to cover all outstanding issues.The resumption of the dialogue could, however, not take place due to the Pathankot terror attack in January this year.An official was also quoted as saying that Pakistan had not formally reached out to India for a bilateral meeting in Amritsar.Pakistan’s High Commissioner in India Abdul Basit, while participating in BBC Urdu’s ‘Facebook Live’ interaction yesterday, said Pakistan was ready for unconditional resumption of dialogue if India is ready.External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is not attending the Heart of Asia ministerial meeting.”Since Sushma Swaraj is not attending, it’s difficult to have a meeting with anyone else,” the daily quoted a Pakistani diplomat as saying.”The Pakistani side believes that the way out of the current stalemate in ties is India giving up its intransigence,” the daily said.”India has to make up its mind. They are not willing to discuss Kashmir,” the official said.India has been non-committal about holding bilateral talks with Aziz but has made it clear that “talks and terror cannot go hand in hand”.

Pak-backed terror to be focus of Heart of Asia meet

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even as Finance Minister Arun Jaitly has been assigned to steer the Heart of Asia (HoA) conference on December 3-4 attended by representatives from over 30 countries in absence of the ailing External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, India as well as Afghanistan will pitch for adoption of a regional framework to combat terrorism.Being held in the wake of the Nagrota terror attack, Afghan envoy to India Dr. Shaida Mohammad Abdali, without naming Pakistan, revealed that his country will stress on adopting a mechanism to bring change in the behaviour of some countries providing safe haven to terrorists. The annual HoA conference or Istanbul Process, even though a platform to assist Afghanistan in its transition, will extensively deliberate on threat from terror networks operating from Pakistan in the border city of Amritsar. The highlight of the conference is the attendance of Sartaj Aziz, Foreign Affairs Advisor to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Saharif, for the HoA conference in Amritsar.In the past two days, Jaitley has shouldered some responsibilities of Ministry of External Affairs, by supervising a meeting of 20 Indian diplomats, appointed as ambassadors and now steering the HoM meeting has set the speculations rife here that the PM may be shifting him to South Block, the External Affairs Ministry in view of ailing Swaraj, who is suffering from kidney failure. Earlier, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had asked the MoS for External Affairs MJ Akbar to host the Amritsar conference. But later reportedly after Modi went to Jaitly’s residence on Tuesday, ostensibly for a dinner, he was told to shoulder the responsibilities.Asked during a briefing on Pakistan’s willingness for a bilateral meeting with India, Gopal Baglay, Joint Secretary in the MEA said,”We have not received any request for a bilateral meeting. However, Aziz’s presence who is the de facto Minister for Foreign Affairs — from Pakistan will draw attention, in view of relations plummeting sharply in recent weeks.Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will jointly inaugurate the ministerial deliberations on Sunday.“Terrorism is the biggest challenge which has beset the whole region. It (terror) is responsible for the situation in Afghanistan. It is a major threat to regional peace and stability. We have to discuss this question and we have to face it very squarely. I think the HoA Ministerial conference provides us with the opportunity required to face the challenge head on,” Baglay said.On his part, the Afghan envoy said there was a need to take collective measures to fight terrorism and uproot the “breeding ground” of the menace and its “safe sanctuaries”, in obvious reference to Pakistan. Abdali said Afghanistan was pushing for “binding” clauses in the framework to effectively contain terror infrastructure.

India non-committal on talks with Sartaj Aziz during Heart of Asia Conference in Amritsar

New Delhi: India on Thursday remained non-committal about holding talks with Pakistan Prime Minister’s foreign affairs advisor Sartaj Aziz during the Heart of Asia Conference which he will attend in Amritsar next week.

Incidentally, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is ill, will not attend the two-day meet on 3 and 4 December.

File image of Vikas Swarup. Twitter @MEAIndia

File image of Vikas Swarup. Twitter @MEAIndia

MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup told a weekly media briefing that the programme was in a “fluid state” and he was not in a position to “rule in or rule out anything at this stage. I can only say that as of 24 November nothing has been decided”.

When pressed on the subject, he said, “The programme is still evolving. The associated events connected with the conference are in a process of evolving. At this point, I am not in a position to make any other announcement.”

Swarup reiterated India’s stated position that though the country is for dialogue “talks and terror cannot go hand-in-hand”.

“Our position on it (talks) is very very clear from the beginning. We are for a dialogue with Pakistan. But talks and terror cannot happen together. It is incumbent on Pakistan to create the necessary environment for a conducive bilateral dialogue to happen,” he said and also referred to Swaraj’s address at the UN recently that for talks to take place, Islamabad will have to end terrorism.

Asked whether Swaraj will attend the conference, he said “The external affairs minister will not be able to attend.”

Swaraj is undergoing treatment for kidney failure.

The conference, which will be addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, will be attended by representatives of over 40 countries.

First Published On : Nov 24, 2016 21:37 IST

Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka Vadra visit ancestral Swaraj Bhavan together for the first time since 2002

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after attending a function commemorating the birth centenary of Indira Gandhi in Allahabad, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her daughter Priyanka Vadra met local party leaders, enjoyed a stroll at the sprawling Anand Bhavan premises and visited the Kamla Nehru Hospital before returning to New Delhi.”This was the first occasion in more than a decade when Sonia and Priyanka were together at the Swaraj Bhavan. The last time they had spent the night at their ancestral house was during the campaign for 2002 Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh,” UPCC spokesman Kishore Varshney said.On Monday, they were joined by Rahul Gandhi during the inauguration of the photo exhibition organised by the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust. The party vice-president left last night. “For Congress supporters, yesterday was a memorable occasion as it was for the first time when mother, son and daughter were together at their ancestral house,” Varshney said.
ALSO READ No comparison between Narendra Modi and Indira Gandhi: Sonia GandhiHe, however, added that they (Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka) had also come to Anand Bhavan way back in 1991 when they were carrying the ashes of Rajiv Gandhi. “However, that was an occasion marked by grief and hence we do not wish to count that.”This morning, Sonia and Priyanka went to the Kamla Nehru Hospital – which is governed by a trust headed by the Congress president herself. Sonia inaugurated a blood bank there and interacted with a group of nurses who had completed their training recently. “Thereafter, they returned to Anand Bhavan, enjoyed a stroll on its sprawling lawns and interacted with the staff there,” Varshney said.Later, a group of local party leaders led by the divisional election campaign committee chief Nand Gopal Gupta Nandi called on them. “Sonia and Priyanka heard their grievances and offered advice besides exhorting them to work hard for improving the party’s position in the upcoming assembly elections in the state,” the UPCC spokesman said.

No comparison between Narendra Modi and Indira Gandhi: Sonia Gandhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress President Sonia Gandhi said there was no comparison between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and late Indira Gandhi and rejected suggestions that the party did not have leaders to take him on.She also made it clear that she was not “troubled” by comparisons between Modi and Gandhi and that her party was taking on the Modi government. “Every era in politics or history has its own problems, its own leaders and its own opposition. I think the Congress party is taking on the present dispensation,” Sonia Gandhi told India Today TV. She was replying to a question whether her party needed to be competitive unlike the 60s and 70s when it was dominant and that it did not have a leader to take on Modi. Asked whether she was troubled by the fact that Modi was being compared with the late Prime Minister as a strong personality, Gandhi said, “It does not trouble me because I do not believe in it. I have my own clear views about it . There is no comparison. Absolutely not.”To another question that her party did not have a tough and competitive leader like Modi, she said, “I do not agree with that.” She recalled that Indira Gandhi was ridiculed, insulted and made fun of from within even more than outside when she entered politics, became a Congress president and later Prime Minister. There was nothing that she did was right. She was able to “overcome” that, Gandhi said.The photo exhibition, Sonia said, was consciously housed in Swaraj Bhavan which was the place of Indira Gandhi’s birth and where she met the leading lights of the freedom movement.The event is part of Congress’ commemoration of Indira Gandhi’s birth centenary that started November 19. “It was here at Swaraj Bhavan that Indiraji took her first lessons in politics. Her mortal remains after her martyrdom were also brought here. That’s why this exhibition has been opened here. From here it will be taken to other places,” said Sonia who, along with her children, dressed in pure whites, interacted with Congress leaders and workers asking them to prepare hard for the upcoming assembly polls. Sonia and Priyanka stayed overnight at Swaraj Bhavan, which was recently refurbished.Congress leaders were keen to get themselves clicked with the Gandhis, who also inquired about them and the preparations ahead.Rahul also shared his thoughts on demonetisation with Congress leaders present there.Sonia, 69, who briefly stopped her speech for the ‘azaan’, also remembered the emotional bond she shared with Indira saying, “Indiraji was not just my mother-in-law. She was like my mother. For 16 years we shared a house and also shared joys, sorrows and emotions.” The Gandhis refrained from making any comments on when Priyanka will formally launch her UP election campaign.No politics today, was their refrain.

TDP MP offers his kidney to Sushma Swaraj

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Telugu Desam Party MP Rayapati Sambasiva Rao offered one of his kidneys to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who is undergoing treatment for renal failure. The 73-year-old MP from Narsaraopet wrote a letter to Swaraj (64), who is currently on dialysis in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi. “I am very sorry to hear about your health problems.As AIIMS doctors have advised you for renal transplant at the earliest, I shall be very grateful if you could kindly accept my offer for donation of my kidney to you for the transplant,” the six-time MP said in the letter.Swaraj had on Wednesday tweeted that she was admitted to AIIMS due to kidney failure and has been undergoing tests for a transplant.Support from politicians as well as people from a cross- section of society started pouring in soon after that..

Sushma Swaraj moved by Muslim man’s offer, says kidney has no religious labels

New Delhi: Kidney has no religious labels, this is what External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj,
undergoing treatment for renal failure, tweeted while thanking a Muslim man who offered her his kidney.

Union Externam Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. AFPUnion Externam Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. AFP

Union Externam Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. AFP

The 64-year-old Swaraj has been offered kidneys by scores of people since Wednesday when she said on Twitter that she was in hospital due to kidney failure and was undergoing tests for a transplant.

“Thank you very much brothers. I am sure, kidney has no religious labels,” she tweeted.

Her remark came in response to a tweet by Mujib Ansari who offered his kidney to her while adding that he is a Muslim and a supporter of BSP in Uttar Pradesh.

“@SushmaSwaraj mam I am a BSP supporter and a Muslim,bt I want 2 donate my kidney 4 u,4 me u r like my mother figure, May allah bless u,” he said on Twitter.

Another Muslim Nyamath Ali Shaik also offered his kidney to Swaraj saying he was ready to donate his kidney if need be.

Another Twitter follower Jaan Shah also said he was ready to offer his kidney to her.

Swaraj has been flooded with wishes from politicians cutting across party lines as well as from a cross-section of society.

She has been undergoing treatment for renal failure at AIIMS.

Swaraj also exuded confidence of being able to come out of the health condition with good wishes of people and blessings of God.

First Published On : Nov 18, 2016 22:39 IST

DNA Evening Must Reads: RS debate on demonetization, Jaitley clarifies Mallya’s loan write off ‘only in books’ and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1) Demonetization: Congress likens PM Modi to Hitler, Mussolini and Gaddafi; Naidu calls comparison ‘atrocious’With frustration over the cash crunch mounting, debate on the issue of demonetization began in Rajya Sabha, with Congress leader Anand Sharma demanding Modi’s apology for mocking people standing in queue to withdraw money and exchange old currency of Rs 500 and Rs 1000. Read more…2) Arun Jaitley clarifies Vijay Mallya’s SBI loan write off ‘only in books’Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has clarified in the Rajya Sabha that Vijay Mallya’s State Bank of India loan has been written off ‘only in books’ and the government will still pursue the case. A DNA Exclusive story titled ‘SBI writes off loans of 63 wilful defaulters’ said that a part of Mallya’s loan along with 62 others’ was written off or added to the Advance Under Collection Account (AUCA), meant for toxic loans. Read more…3) Dhaka cafe attack: 3 terrorists involved were admirers of Zakir Naik, says govtThree terrorists, involved in the July 1 terror attack in Dhaka, were admirers of Zakir Naik, founder of Islamic Research Foundation, which was banned by the government, Rajya Sabha was informed today. “The three terrorists involved in the attack were reportedly admirers of Zakir Naik,” Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir said in a written reply. The Minister said as per the available information, although the mandate of the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) is educational and social, it is also involved in other activities. “Noticing certain violations of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, the IRF has been placed under the prior permission category”. Read more…4) PMLA court issues letter of request seeking Lalit Modi’s transfer from UKThe special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) ​court on Wednesday issued a letter of request (LR) to the UK competent authority to execute a non bailable warrant issued against former IPL chairman Lalit Modi and bring him back to India. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday in its application had pleaded the court to issue the LR for the execution of non bailable warrant. The court presided over by judge PR Bhavke, said that it would pass the orders on the issue on Wednesday. Read more…5) Sushma Swaraj admitted to AIIMS, undergoing tests for kidney transplantExternal Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is admitted at AIIMS, is undergoing treatment for kidney-related ailment and is likely to remain in the hospital for a few days. “I am in AIIMS because of kidney failure. Presently, I am on dialysis. I am undergoing tests for a kidney transplant,” she said on Twitter. Read more…

Twitter prays for its favourite minister Sushma Swaraj

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah wished speedy recovery to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who is undergoing tests at AIIMS here for a kidney transplant. In their message to the Union Minister, they expressed their good wishes for her early recovery, with the senior Abdullah who has himself underwent a similar surgery, saying: “I will pray that she gets well soon.” 64-year-old Swaraj, who has been in and out of the hospital for last few months, said he was undergoing treatment for kidney failure. “Friends: This is to update you on my health. I am in AIIMS because of kidney failure. Presently, I am on dialysis. I am undergoing tests for a Kidney transplant. Lord Krishna will bless,” she tweeted today. She was admitted to AIIMS on November 7 and is being monitored by a team of doctors.The External Affairs Minister was admitted to AIIMS in April also when she underwent treatment for pneumonia and other health issues.

Sushma Swaraj undergoing treatment for kidney ailment at AIIMS

Tue, 15 Nov 2016-09:25pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is admitted at AIIMS, is undergoing treatment for kidney-related ailment and is likely to remain in the hospital for a few days.”Her condition is stable. Her history of chronic diabetes has affected her kidney functioning. She is on dialysis,” sources at AIIMS said.She was admitted to AIIMS on November 7 and is being monitored by a team of doctors. Swaraj is admitted at the cardio-neuro centre under the supervision of Balram Airan, Chief of the Cardio Thoracic Centre. She has been suffering from diabetes for almost 20 years. The 64-year-old BJP leader was admitted to AIIMS in April also when she underwent treatment for pneumonia and other health issues.

Passenger says ‘Acche Din’ after Minister Jayant Sinha switches seats with her on plane

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Minister Jayant Sinha had a Twitter moment when a grateful young girl from Ranchi tweeted about the minister’s kind gesture to give up his first class seat in a plane for her and her ailing mother.As per NDTV, the girl Shreya Pradip from Ranchi was on an an Indigo flight from Bengaluru to Ranch and was moved to first class seats after her mother fell sick. But they found out the seats belonged to Jayant Sinha, the Minister of State for Civil Aviation, and his wife. But the couple offered Pradip and her mother their seats saying they would find seats somewhere else. Pradip tweeted about the incident saying, “Acche din is when Aviation Minister gives his first class seat to me and my ill mother, sits in the economic class himself. Thanks Sir.” Sinha is the latest to receive adulation on Twitter after MEA Sushma Swaraj and Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu. Sushma Swaraj is very active on Twitter helping Indians in distress abroad while Prabhu replies to Railway related issues of people on the social media platform.

Hindus attacked in Bangladesh: Swaraj directs High Commissioner to speak to Sheikh Hasina

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the wake of fresh attacks on Hindus in Bangladesh, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has directed the Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka to convey to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina India’s grave concern over safety and security of the community in that country. “I have asked Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka to call on the Prime Minister and express our grave concern about the safety and wellbeing of the Hindus in Bangladesh,” Swaraj tweeted on Sunday.In fresh attacks on Hindus in Bangladesh, unidentified miscreants set ablaze houses of some of them and damaged two temples in central Brahmanbarhia district where several places of worship of the minority community were vandalised a few days ago.Miscreants set fire at least six Hindu houses in a predawn attack on Saturday in central Brahmanbarhia district’s Nasirnagar, the place where at least 15 temples and more than 20 houses were vandalised after a Facebook post deemed offensive to Islam sparked outrage in the country.Police in overnight drives detained 33 persons for their alleged involvement in the synchronised attacks on Hindus in Brahmanbaria on October 30. Earlier also, India had taken up with Bangladesh the issue of safety and security of the minorities. Bangladesh’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had said the attacks on several Hindu temples in Bangladesh were carried out under a well orchestrated plan aimed at grabbing lands of the minority community.

Sushma Swaraj admitted to AIIMS for ‘routine’ check-up

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> xternal Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was today admitted to the AIIMS for a “routine” medical check-up, hospital authorities said.”The minister (Swaraj) was admitted this evening, but it is for her regular check-up. She will leave AIIMS tomorrow,” a senior official at the hospital said. “She has been coming here and today she was examined by a team of doctors,” he said. The 64-year-old BJP leader was admitted to AIIMS in April as well after she had complained of chest congestion.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj meets deaf-mute girl Geeta

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday met Geeta, the speech and hearing impaired girl, who crossed over to Pakistan several years ago and returned to India in October 2015. The girl, is staying at an institute for hearing and speech impaired persons since her returning.Swaraj and Geeta spent nearly 45 minutes together in a hotel and exchanged gifts ahead of Diwali, the institute’s director Monika Punjabi Verma said.During the meeting, Swaraj hinted that Geeta would be helped to undertake the journey to search for her parents in places which she had indicated by sign language, she said. The minister did not disclose whether Geeta would be taken to those places by train or by other mode of transport, Verma said.There was a move to help Geeta to undertake rail journey to different places to search for her parents in June but possibly due to rainy season, the plan could not materialise, she said.Earlier, several couples had come forward claiming to be Geeta’s parents, but she did not recognise any of them and could not substantiate their claims. Geeta claims she knew the place where she was separated from her parents years ago. She is now learning Hindi, English and arithmetic.Sushma had met Geeta last December and assured her that the Centre is making every effort to trace her parents. Geeta was 7 or 8-years-old when she was found sitting alone in the Samjhauta Express at Lahore station by Pakistan Rangers 15 years ago. She was then adopted by Bilquis Edhi of Edhi Foundations. Her story came to light after the release of Salman Khan- starrer “Bajrangi Bhaijaan”, in which the character essayed by Salman reunites a Pakistani girl with her mother.

Rafale deal will prove to be Bofors for Modi govt: Prashant Bhushan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Swaraj India founder Prashant Bhushan on Sunday said the ‘Rafale deal’ will prove to be another ‘Bofors’ for the Modi government.Accusing the Prime Minister of inaction into the Scorpion submarine leaks despite having received entire information from American whistle blower C Edmonds Allen he said the Modi government was lacking political will to fight corruption. Talking to media persons here, Bhushan said instead of blacklisting the Company, the government was entering into another deal with the same company, allegedly involved in the submarine leaks, for aircrafts, and that too at a “much higher cost.”The Bofors scandal broke in 1987 and several people, including former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, were accused of receiving kickbacks for the purchase of Bofors howitzer guns. The scandal contributed to the defeat of Gandhi-led Congress in 1989 general elections.Referring to BJP MP Varun Gandhi’s outburst on the ‘honey trapping allegations’ in the submarine leaks, the Supreme Court lawyer said the matter needs investigation. Bhushan was in Shimla for a meeting of Swaraj Campaign for chalking out the strategy for expanding the activities of his organisation in Himachal Pradesh.

BJP evasive on allegations against Varun Gandhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after allegations against its MP Varun Gandhi, the BJP maintained a stoic silence on the issue. The party neither defended nor castigated him on Friday.A BJP leader said a party general secretary had been asked to talk to Gandhi, after the Swaraj Abhiyan led by Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav accused him of leaking defence secrets to arms middleman Abhishek Verma after he was “honey-trapped”.”He has issued a clarification. There is no need to offer further comments,” BJP national secretary Shrikant Sharma said.While the party appeared to be in a bind on dealing with the issue, sources said the it did not fear much political fallout of the allegations which went back over ten years. That party leaders have been asked to refrain from commenting was evident on Friday.Amidst the silence on the party’s part, speculation was rife on Friday that the BJP leadership was planning to give a show cause notice to Gandhi.His relations with the leadership seemed to have soured further after the poster campaign in Allahabad during a party conclave in June this year. Gandhi, was, as of now, left to defend himself against the allegations made by Swaraj Abhiyan.”I am going to turn 37 now. I have never met him since I entered public life in 2004. The only reason why I even know of him is because his parents were members of Parliament and was a respected family. I knew them as many other leaders knew them,” he had said.While the party refrained from getting drawn into the debate, it’s Allahabad MP Shyamcharan Gupta told a TV channel that the allegations were serious and should be probed.

Varun Gandhi rejects Swaraj Abhiyan leaders’ allegations of being honey trapped

BJP MP Varun Gandhi is at the centre of a controversy over allegations that he had leaked defence secrets to middleman Abhishek Verma and arms manufacturers after being honey trapped, a charge he stoutly denied.

Varun rejected these charges, saying he has not met Verma since 2004 and threatened to file a defamation suit against Bhushan and Yadav over the charges, saying, “The entire information presented does not contain an iota of proof that either I had access or shared any communication regarding sensitive information to Verma.”

File photo of Varun Gandhi. Reuters

File photo of Varun Gandhi. Reuters

He said that he last met Verma when he was a post graduate student in London at the age of 22 years. “I am going to turn 37 now. I have never met him since I entered public life in 2004. The only reason why I even know of him is because his parents were members of parliament and was a respected family. I knew them as many other leaders knew them,” he said. Asked if he had come across any sensitive information during his tenure on the consultative committee on defence, he said, “Any MP who has been on that committee knows that not even 0.1 percentage of any confidential information is shared with the committee.”

At a press conference in New Delhi, Swaraj Abhiyan leaders Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav had released a letter written by Edmonds Allen, a New York-based lawyer, to the PMO last month that Varun was honey trapped and compromised by Verma. The lawyer alleged that Verma “blackmailed” Varun, a member of the Defence Consultative Committee, into sharing sensitive information on crucial arms matters.

Referring to the recently signed deal between India and French aircraft manufacturer Dassault for 36 Rafale aircraft, Bhushan had alleged that despite having all the details, the BJP government did not blacklist Thales, the company that sold scam-tainted Scorpene submarines, as Dassault acquired it. Dassault Aviation has 25.3 percent stake in Thales. “Any action against Thales may have jeopardised the Rafale deal. Moreover, contrary to previous announcements of getting 126 aircraft, the government bought 36 aircraft, paying double the price for individual units. It certainly appears to be the case that something is fishy,” he said.. However, Bhushan and Yadav did not take Varun’s name during the press conference and instead asked journalists to refer to the letter. They claimed to have withheld photographic evidences pertaining to the matter.

Allen had written to the PM, Defence Minister, CBI and the NSA with all the details on August and September this year. He was Verma’s partner but fell out with him in 2012 and Verma is facing trial in the 2006 Naval War Room leak case.

Abhishek Verma himself rejected allegations of purported defence leaks by saying the emails and photographs being circulated are “fabricated” and questioned the motive of the releases made on Thursday. He said the so-called “emails and photos are fabricated as I had not issued nor photographed Gandhi nor referred to him anywhere…These are attempts on part of Allen to defame me, and others named in the letter.”

“Allen is a known forger and he had in the past also morphed some photos of another individual and I had filed a case of criminal defamation against Allen in Patiala House Court on 6 February, 2012. The case trial is on and the matter is subjudice,” Verma said in a statement issued on Thursday. The pending suit against him under sections of Information Technology Act and forgery and the letter orchestrated by Allen is true to his nature of character assasination by forgery and deceit, he claimed. “I will be initiating a suit for criminal defamation against C Edmonds Allen and maybe against Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav shortly,” he added.

He questioned as to why Allen did not disclose these contents, made public on Thursday, when a joint team of CBI and Enforcement Directorate visited the latter in New York in 2012. “Why is it that Allen did not provide these photos or talked a bout the angle of blackmailing of Gandhi to the CBI and ED? Why now after four years when last month I was granted bail by Honourable Courts?” he said. With regard to the Scorpene deal, Verma said that the “Delhi High Court had on 13 January, 2016 dismissed the PIL filed by Bhushan on Scorpene Submarines purchase in which I was implicated as a party by Bhushan, as it had no merit. Bhushan suppressed the above fact of dismissal of his PIL in this issue in his tweet of last week and also in today’s press conference. The act of Bhushan today tantamounts to contempt of court,” he said.

Rejecting Bhushan and Yadav’s allegation that India paid double the price, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday asserted that the recently-signed Euro 7.878 billion-deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets was the best ever offered to any country. “Rafale is the best deal that we have managed. It was because Prime Minister of India and President of France agreed that we have this deal which has not been offered to any other country,” he said. “How much does it cost to level allegation?” he added angrily.

Parrikar said nothing has been proved in the alleged Scorpene leak and hence the case for banning any firm does not arise. He, however, refused to comment on the duo’s allegation that BJP parliamentarian Varun Gandhi was “honey trapped” into leaking defence secrets, a charge stoutly denied by the leader.

With inputs from PTI

Prashant Bhushan claims Varun Gandhi was ‘honey trapped’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Supreme Court lawyer and founder of Swaraj India, Prashant Bhushan accused the Modi government of not taking any action against Varun Gandhi and senior defence officials for their alleged involvement in the dubious Scorpene submarine deal. Bhushan argued that their involvement compromised national security.Speaking at a press conference, Bhushan referred to the communications by one US based lawyer C Edmunds Allen, who fell apart with arms dealer Abhishek Verma in 2012, and said, “Shockingly, information about the murky deals has been in possession of office of the Prime Minister, NSA, Defence Minister and CBI for nearly two months, but they have not reopened the CBI investigations against the Scorpene deal, let alone take any action against the accused.”Allen’s secret letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi dated September 16, claims that Varun Gandhi, as a member of the defence consultative committee was ‘honey trapped’ and ‘compromised’ by the notorious arms dealer Abhishek Verma.In his letter, Allen is alleged to have also attached photographic evidence showing Varun Gandhi with escort women girls, said Bhushan. Bhushan added that they were not releasing these photos and other sensitive defence documents, as that would compromise national security.Rubbishing these claims as bogus and deliberate attempts to tarnish his image, Varun Gandhi said he would take legal action against Prashant Bhushan.”How can I respond to something so ridiculously nonsensical. Is there any proof of any of these allegations? I sue those who have tried to tarnish my image,” Gandhi said.Bushuan also claimed that one of the key revelations by Allen to PM Modi was that, “despite being tried in a sensitive and high profile case of leakage of defence information, Abhishek Verma continued to receive and pass on defence secrets till as late as 2011.””In another letter to the PM, Allen has given details of the role played by various retired Naval Officers in providing top secret information to Abhishek Verma. Moreover, Defence Minister conceded that the Government was aware about the payment of commission in Scorpene deal when he said “there was ‘dalali’ in 2006 submarines deal on October 10. The government should immediately act now,” said Bhushan.Bhushan has demanded that the government put the Rafael fighter jets deal on hold and make all its price negotiations from beginning till date public as M/s Thales—which was involved in corruption ridden Scorpene deal—is part of the Dassault company with which the government has signed a deal for 126 Rafael jets which are being purchased for more than double the cost of the same deal signed earlier.Yogendra Yadav, co-founder of Swaraj Abhiyan, said, “our other demands are that the government should register an FIR against Abhishek Verma and his associates as well as the officers of Navy and IAF named in these documents for leaking defence secrets including the details of Scorpene Submarines, blacklist and file an FIR against M/s Thales for payment of commission in Scorpene submarines deal.”Deal on holdPrashant Bhushan has demanded that the government put the Rafael fighter jets deal on hold and make all its price negotiations from beginning till date public as M/s Thales—which was involved in corruption ridden Scorpene deal—is part of the Dassault company with which the government has signed a deal for 126 Rafael jets which are being purchased for more than double the cost of the same deal signed earlier.

Sushma Swaraj comes to the rescue of Indian stranded in Washington

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In prompt response to a request by a woman, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj directed Indian Embassy in Washington to give visa to an Indian to attend his father’s last rites despite the the mission being closed for two days for Vijaya Dashmi and Moharram. Swaraj’s directive to the Embassy came after one Sarita Takru, a resident of Karnal, appealed to the External Affairs Minister on twitter to give visa to her US-based son Abhai Kaul so he can attend his father’s cremation.”Our Embassy in US is closed for Vijaya Dashmi and Moharram. I have sent a message. We will open the Embassy and give visa to your son,” Swaraj tweeted. Soon after Swaraj’s instruction, the Indian Embassy asked Takru to share Kaul’s contact details with it so that visa can be granted expeditiously. Takru said her husband died yesterday and she had expressed anguish after knowing that the embassy will be closed today and tomorrow. “…Can’t get Indian visa before Local Thursday. Is this human?””This dreadful wait must end. Please give my son Indian visa in US so his father may be cremated. Please support. Need empathy,” Takru tweeted. To this, Swaraj responded, saying, “I am sorry to know about the sad demise of your husband. Just wait – I will help you.” The External Affairs Minister is known for her prompt response to Indians in distress abroad.

Election Commission comes into action only in last week of election period: Yogendra Yadav

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asserting that the Election Commission’s order calling on all political parties to refrain from spending the exchequers money for “publicity”, will be a ‘true test’ indeed, national president of the newly-launched Swaraj India party Yogendra Yadav advised the Commission to come into action during the remaining four years and eleven months of the election period as well.Welcoming the order, Yadav told that the directive should have come earlier, adding that the scope of this order should be expanded too. “Election Commission comes into action, only during the last week of the election period. But in the remaining four years and eleven months, parties use public money to promote themselves in a shameless manner. That should also be stopped,” he said.Emphasising that political advertisements which clearly promote a party should be stopped, Yadav further said that the orders by the Supreme Court and the Election Commission should be brought together to evolve a comprehensive code of conduct, which is applied not only for six months or six weeks but for five years.
ALSO READ Political parties can’t use govt funds for advertisement: ECWhen asked if all political parties would actually adhere to the order, the former Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader opined that it ideally they should have no other option as the Commission’s orders should be binding. “But it would be a very interesting test case for us to see whether Election Commission’s orders can be implemented outside the period of the code of conduct,” Yadav added.Earlier, The Election Commission ordered that no political party will be allowed to use public funds and government machinery to carry out activities that amount to advertisement for it. The Commission directed on Friday that no political party shall henceforth either use or allow the use of any public funds or public place or government machinery for carrying out any activity that will amount to advertisement for the party or propagating the election symbol allotted to the party.The commission also clarified that any violation of the directions will be treated as violation of a lawful direction of the Commission. The development comes following a judgement of the Delhi High Court which had in July remanded back to the poll panel a plea seeking cancellation of Bahujan Samaj Party symbol ‘elephant’ for alleged misuse of public funds by the erstwhile Mayawati government in installing its statues across the state.

‘Thanks for wishing us failure in traditional politics’: Yogendra Yadav writes to Firstpost

‘Thanks for wishing us failure in traditional politics’: Yogendra Yadav writes to Firstpost

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On 3 October, Firstpost senior editor Akshaya Mishra wrote a letter to Yogendra Yadav titled, Dear Yogendra Yadav, Swaraj India’s success will be in reviving people’s force in politics”The writer argued that Yadav’s last political adventure was misguided and in supporting it, the writer was left disappointed in the end. He wished that Yadav’s new party Swaraj India would succeed where the previous venture failed.

In response to that letter, Yadav thanked Firstpost and wished that the writer’s wish to see Swaraj India as a party which revives people’s force in politics, comes true.

You can read the response here:

Dear well-wisher,

Thanks for wishing us failure, in traditional politics. You are right, that is not where and how Swaraj India seeks to succeed.

Thank God there are “impractical” persons like you still around in the world. If practicality is about remaining confined within the prison of the given, then this world needs more impractical people.

And thanks also for your advice. You are right, people care more for how a party “touches and changes their lives” and much less for how it conducts itself internally. But isn’t that a pity? Should we not visualize a political eco-system where those who talk about democracy also practice it within their organization? Or am in being “impractical” now? As for “corruption”, I can assure you that it is not our sole agenda. Swaraj India has adopted a vision document “Swaraj Darshan” that spells out our policy perspective on a wide range of issues. We have taken position on Dengue and Chikungunya and propose to follow it up with public action. I can promise you that as a recent victim of Chikungunya!

I have only one quibble. Two years is too long a period to judge a probationer (Supreme Court does not allow more than 11 months for confirmation!). Judge us harshly but judge us quickly and do join this effort if we pass your test.

Hoping to meet you earlier, but after two years, if you must.

Yours

A fellow-traveller

PM Modi’s constituency Varanasi can only meet its toilet target by 2048: Analysis

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mega Swachchagraha campaign, that aims at building a toilet for every home till by 2019, lagging far behind its target? A survey carried out by Down to Earth Hindi magazine claims even Modi’s own Varanasi constituency will not be able to achieve the target till 2048 if the work on the scheme continues in the current speed.The analysis report of the last two years over building toilets in India –which also leads in open defection states that in 2015-16, only 7,327 toilets were built in Varanasi against a target of 2,34,489 (till October 2019).The analysis has also taken case studies of constituencies of other top political leaders and other opposition leaders.For instance, in case of home minister Rajnath Singh constituency Lucknow, only 5,332 toilets have been built against a target of 1,86,177. The report stated that the target in Lucknow can be achieved by 2051.Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s wife Dimple has a target of 5,47,739 toilets to be built by October 2019 in her Lok Sabha constituency Kannauj but managed only 8,309 and at this rate, she will take 66 years to reach his target by 2082.Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s constituency, Rae Bareli, has a target of 2,87,703, and the achieved number has been 6,581; the expected year of completion is 2060, the analysis said.The analysis has also studied the progress in constituencies of external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj; defence minister Manohar Parikkar; water resources minister Uma Bharti; surface transport minister Nitin Gadkari; Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi; Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar; Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar; Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan; Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh, among others.The magazine has stated the country needs to build 2.3 million (23 lakh) toilets every month – or a formidable 56 toilets every minute – to meet the government’s target.56 toilets a minute will help meet deadline: Study The analysis has also studied the progress in constituencies of external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj; defence minister Manohar Parikkar; water resources minister Uma Bharti; surface transport minister Nitin Gadkari; Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi; Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar; Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar; Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan; Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh, among others.The magazine has stated the country needs to build 2.3 million (23 lakh) toilets every month – or a formidable 56 toilets every minute – to meet the government’s target.

Prashant Bhushan, Yogendra Yadav form ‘Swaraj India’ party

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav on Sunday announced the formation of a new political party called Swaraj India.In April last year, the AAP expelled senior leaders Bhushan and Yadav for allegedly indulging in anti-party activities. The decision to sack them from the party was taken by the AAP?s National Disciplinary Committee (NDC).The duo co-founded then Swaraj Abhiyan, a socio-political body, to ‘take forward the anti-corruption movement.’Earlier, on Jul 31, addressing the concluding session of a two-day Abhiyan national convention here, Yadav had announced the launching of the new political party by October 2 to provide an “alternative political vehicle”. Later, a committee was formed to look into the details of the new political party.Yadav had said, “We were never secretive about going political. A decision to launch a political party was taken with nearly 93 per cent of the delegates at the convention overwhelmingly supporting it. Yadav, however, had clarified that Swaraj Abhiyan will continue to exist even after the new political party is launched and the two will function independently.It had parried questions on whether the new party will contest the Assembly elections in five states, including Punjab, which are going to polls next year. Yadav and Bhushan were sacked from Aam Aadmi Party in April last year for “anti-party” activities. They had hit out at AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal questioning his “supremo style of working” and “lack of transparency” in the party.

Lull after surgical strike, as govt, party refrain from chest-thumping

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after the strikes across the Line of Control, it was business as usual at Raisina Hill. A calm-looking Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a 20-minute speech in which he narrated anecdotes and made suggestions on cleanliness, waste management and building toilets, but was silent on the surgical strikes carried out just a little over 24 hours earlier.The message—action needs no words—was palpable and had percolated to his council of ministers and the BJP.The leadership has conveyed to the ministers and the party that they should exercise restraint from making chest-thumping statements about the strikes. Finance minister Arun Jaitley and BJP president Amit Shah are understood to have asked the party leaders on Thursday evening to speak cautiously, at a time when the government wanted to avoid further escalating tension. There was concern about sleeper cells becoming active and possible retaliation, sources said.Besides, any extreme reaction from the government or party leaders could raise expectations of the people, sources said. The surgical strikes have completed Modi’s cycle of offensive strategy which began with isolating Pakistan at the global stage, moving to the economic steps by reviewing the Indus water treaty and then seeking to review the MFN status.Only the Army and its operational wing have been authorised to speak to media, according to sources, at the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) meeting on Thursday itself, DGMO Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, was asked to address the media and not any minister. Sources said, the PM has drawn up a strategy to be adopted, where the operations get the backing of all the people, irrespective of political affiliations.Modi did not want it to be confined to a party affair or raise tensions to a point that invited international attention. The Army and the ministers were told that it was a limited counter-terrorist operation and that an impression should not be created that India has launched a war. The Prime Minister, however, asked Home minister Rajnath Singh to speak to chief ministers of the border states and Jaitley to brief international fund managers to reassure them about India’s fiscal situation and tell them not to worry about FDI and investments in India. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar will brief envoys of select countries. He was also told to brief foreign media stationed in Delhi.In an advisory, the home ministry has conveyed to the states that additional forces should be deployed in all sensitive places, strategic installations, markets, religious places and other key places to ensure security, the sources said keeping in mind the upcoming festive season.The BJP, which was basking in the government’s “befitting reply” to the Uri attack, on Friday refrained from flaunting the strikes. On the other hand, the Opposition came out in support of it.Modi had called up former Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Deve Gowda, while foreign minister Sushma Swaraj drove down to 10, Janpath, to brief Congress President Sonia Gandhi. She was greeted by Manmohan Singh, who had gone there to receive Swaraj. Sonia, who is recovering from illness after she collapsed during her road show in Varanasi on August 2, congratulated the External Affairs Minister and the government for sending a “strong message” to Islamabad that terror would not be tolerated.At a road show in Bulandshahr on Friday, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said “I want to thank him that in the past two-and-a-half years, this is the first action which can be termed as worthy of prime minister.”

Pak should take effective steps against terrorists: Russia backs India after surgical strike

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It seems like Pakistan is running out of friends fast. The latest to hit out is Russia whose foreign ministry blasted Pakistan in a strongly worded statement. Speaking about the LoC incident, the Russian Foreign Ministry put out a statement saying: “We are concerned with the aggravation lately of the situation along the line of control between India and Pakistan. We are calling on the parties not to allow any escalation of tension and to settle the existing problems by political and diplomatic means through negotiations. We stand for decisive struggle against terrorism in all its manifestations. We expect the government of Pakistan to take effective steps in order to stop the activities of terrorists’ groups in the territory of the country.” Other world powers, who seem to side with India over the surgical strike include the USA who said terrorist attacks like Uri obviously escalates tensions. “Obviously, an (terrorist) attack like that (in Uri) escalates tensions. What I don’t want to do is try to get into, you know, some sort of broad characterisation one way or the other but obviously an attack like this is horrific and…”, the State Department Spokesman, John Kirby, told reporters.The spokesperson was interrupted by a reporter mid-way that her question was about India’s response to the September 18 Uri attack. “But the Indian response is that — is that the kind of escalation that Secretary Kerry was warning against?” the journalist asked referring to the telephonic conversation between the Secretary of State John Kerry and the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj earlier this week.Kirby was quick to clarify that he was referring to the Uri terrorist attack. “Oh, I thought you were talking about the Uri attack,” the spokesman said.On September 27, Kerry spoke with Swaraj. For technical reason, the conversation was spread over two separate calls. “I can confirm for you that the secretary spoke with — on the 27th, so earlier this week, with Indian External Affairs Minister Swaraj and reiterated his strong condemnation of the September 18 Uri attack. He condemned terrorism in all its forms and he cautioned against any escalation intentions,” he said.Responding to questions, Kirby called for de-escalation of tension between the two countries. “We’ve seen those reports (of Indian surgical attack), we’re following the situation closely as I think you can understand. We also understand that the Indian and Pakistani militaries have been in communication,” he said. “We believe that continued communication is obviously important to reduce tensions. We’ve repeatedly expressed our concerns regarding the danger that terrorism poses to the region and we all know that terrorism in many ways knows no border,” Kirby said.”We continue to urge actions to combat and de-legitimise terrorist groups like LeT, and Haqqani Network, Jaish-E-Mohammed. So, this is something that we’re obviously keenly focused on,” Kirby said in response to a question.Counter-terrorism co-operation, he said, is something that the United States is always working at with its partners in the region. “We’re always trying to get better at combating terrorism in the region. There are many ways you can do that, you know, through information sharing regimens and increasing communication between all parties involved,” he said.But he refused to entertain question on if there was any co-operation between India and the United States on the latest Indian operation. “I don’t have a specific laundry list here to read out to you because, frankly, it’s something that we’ve been constantly working at with our partners in the region,” he said. Kirby said America’s message to both sides has been the same in terms of encouraging them to increase communication to deal with this threat and to avoid steps that escalate the tensions.”I think I’m not going to get into characterising each and every step along the way there. “But obviously, what we want to see is increased cooperation against what is a very shared common threat for both countries, and to see steps being taken to deal with it by all sides,” Kirby said. Meanwhile the US Ambassador to India, Richard Verma, who was in Washington DC has rushed back to New Delhi.”As far as I know, he’s returning to New Delhi. My understanding is that he believed that it was, appropriate for him to go back.”He has got a big job. There a lot of responsibilities that come with it. And, obviously it’s a very dynamic situation and he felt it was prudent to go back. We support that,” Kirby said.Earlier, Afghanistan’s Ambassador to India, Shaida Mohammad Abdali applauded New Delhi for ordering counter terrorism operations across the Line of Control (LoC) on Wednesday and Thursday. ‘I applaud Prime Minister Modi for his boldness and his seriousness to fight terrorism more effectively, and all other countries should support him, so that we can be free from terrorism,’ Abdali said. Condemning the countries giving refuge and support to terrorist organisations, the Afghan envoy said should be should be dealt with strongly and taken out from wherever they exist.On Islamabad’s consistent rejection of the charge that it was harboring terrorists, Abdali said ‘Deniability has a limit. This cannot be denied if there are facts on the ground on how they exist and how they operationalise their activities.’ South Korea also supported India’s stance against terrorism emanating from Pakistan as Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan apprised its President Park Geun Hye about the surgical strike carried out by the Indian army at the terror camps across the LoC. The issue came up when Mahajan, who is leading a Parliamentary delegation, called on the President.During the discussions, the Speaker informed the Korean President about the “strong action” taken by India against terrorism, said a statement issued by the Lok Sabha Secretariat, referring to the cross-LoC surgical strike.Apprising Park about the continuous terrorist activities being carried out from the territory of Pakistan, Mahajan told her that “India believes in non-violence and peace, but it will not hesitate to use its retaliatory power to safeguard its interests,” the statement said. “While supporting India’s strong views on terrorism, Park condemned terrorism of every type,” it added. The President said India and South Korea stand together against terrorism.With agency inputs

Surgical Strike: India briefs top envoys of 25 countries including US and China

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> India on Thursday briefed top envoys of 25 countries including the US, China, Russia, the UK and France after the Indian Army said it has carried a “surgical strikes” on seven terror launch pads across the LoC,inflicting “significant casualties” on terrorists preparing to infiltrate from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar briefed the envoys in the South Block to convey the “context” of carrying out the strikes, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup confirmed.The Foreign Secretary told them that it was “a classic counter-terrorism operation more than a military one” and that it was to neutralise terrorists who were trained to carry out attacks in Jammu and Kashmir and other major Indian cities.They were also told that India has no plans for any further operation as of now but added the armed forces will not allow terrorists to carry out any attacks. An all-party meeting chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh was also informed about it. Significantly, earlier in the day American National Security Advisor Susan Rice had spoken to Indian counterpart Ajit Doval and said the US wants Pakistan to “combat and delegitimise” UN-designated terrorist entities, including LeT and JeM. Meanwhile, sources said US Secretary of State John Kerry and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj spoke over phone on Tuesday as he offered his condolences on the Uri terrorist attack.”There was one phone call between Secretary Kerry and EAM on September 27 in New York. Secretary Kerry welcomed EAM to the US. Conveyed his condolences on the Uri terrorist attack, offered full cooperation, and complemented India for its decision to ratify the Paris Climate Change Agreement,” sources said. Swaraj attended the 71st UNGA session and delivered a sharp rebuke to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s “tirade” on Kashmir.

Sushma Swaraj’s UN speech: Pakistan does not deserve MFN status, deserves isolation

The core message of External affairs minister, Sushma Swaraj’s emotional, yet mature speech at the UN general assembly on Monday evening was India’s demand to the world to isolate Pakistan in the world map as a terror-aiding country.

Without mincing words, Swaraj named and shamed Pakistan, India’s perennial problem since 1947 as a supporter of terrorism, but not without a convincing argument that India, as a mature democracy, has been doing everything on its part to build piece with its hostile neighbour — only to be reciprocated with acts of terrorism.

In many ways, Swaraj’s speech carried the design of Narendra Modi’s recent Kozhikode speech, where the PM chose to calm down war mongers, who were expecting that he would declare war on Pakistan in his first public speech post Uri. Modi, instead, devoted most of his time to speak on poverty alleviation, development, unemployment and human rights violations in the neighbouring country, but with a clear warning that India wouldn’t forget the massacre of 18-soliders in Uri attacks reportedly orchestrated from Pakistan.

Sushma Swaraj delivering her address at UNGA. APSushma Swaraj delivering her address at UNGA. AP

Sushma Swaraj delivering her address at UNGA. AP

Swaraj’s speech too was largely on the similar lines. In the initial part of her speech, the minister stayed clear of the Pakistan issue talking about larger challenges such as poverty, India’s development-agenda and need for a peaceful world and international energy security. The minister’s emotional, but firm words, resonated the tone of the Modi-government’s stance on Pakistan issue — calibrated moves not panic-reactions that will only help in escalating tension.

To an observer, it’s unwise to deduce the action plan of a government from one or two speeches, but the larger approach seems to be diplomatically ostracising Pakistan internationally on the terror-issue, kill its morale, rather than its people and mount pressure to fall in line. Swaraj made it clear that India’s repeated attempts to develop peace and mutual cooperation with Pakistan has been rewarded with acts of terror. “We have in fact attempted a paradigm of friendship in the last two years which is without precedent. We conveyed Eid greetings to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, wished success to his cricket team, extended good wishes for his health and well-being. Did all this come with pre-conditions attached? And what did we get in return? Pathankot, Bahadur Ali, and Uri,” Swaraj asked.

But, the point here is that India isn’t engaged in a fair game with Pakistan. We are dealing with an opponent who doesn’t follow the rules of the game and often engages in foul play. This approach of Pakistan is manifested on innumerable occasions in the past. There are several recent examples — Pathankot, Burhan Wani, Bahadur Ali and now Uri. The state then remains in perpetual denial and derives it energy from the subsequent blame game.

The logical questions every Indian would ask the Modi-government would be these: 1) To a country, which has its democratic and economic fundamentals shattered and overshadowed by the peril of terrorist elements, how much of this sermons work? 2) Can India afford to keep sacrificing lives to the whims of a rogue neighbour forever? 3) If a war isn’t an option, what are the alternatives?

The Modi-government has a made a smart move by revisiting the Indus Waters Treaty. A meeting of the PM with his ministers on IWT on Monday didn’t give much clues on what the government intend to though beyond a statement that India will exercise its right under the IWT. But, the point is if India is determined to isolate Pakistan for promoting terrorism, it should first set an example by doing so before asking the world, both diplomatically and economically.

The MFN status

One example is the tag of Most Favoured Nation (MFN) that India accorded to Pakistan in 1996. This was according to the commitments under the World Trade Organization (WTO), according to which the member countries should treat all other trade partners equally. “Under the WTO agreements, countries cannot normally discriminate between their trading partners. Grant someone a special favour (such as a lower customs duty rate for one of their products) and you have to do the same for all other WTO members” WTO says. But despite several commitments, Pakistan hasn’t reciprocated with MFN status to India.

But, as this article in The Hindu points out, trade experts have said that India could invoke the ‘security exception’ clause in WTO’s General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) to re-examine the MFN status given to Pakistan and bring in certain trade restrictions, given the present tensions.

“This is because Article 21(b)(iii) of GATT states that ‘Nothing in this Agreement shall be construed to prevent any contracting party (including India in this case) from taking any action which it considers necessary for the protection of its essential security interests taken in time of war or other emergency in international relations’,” the report says.

Even with MFN, India doesn’t have any major trade with Pakistan, with only $2.6 billion bilateral trade in 2015-16, constituting only 0.4 percent of India’s total goods trade. In other words, revoking the MFN status with Pakistan wouldn’t mean much for India but is an important signal to the world about the intent. India can justify its action before WTO citing the issue of national security.

Secondly, by naming Pakistan in her UN speech, Swaraj gives clear evidence that India has officially acknowledged Pakistan as a state supporting terrorism.

“In our midst, there are nations that still speak the language of terrorism, that nurture it, peddle it, and export it. To shelter terrorists has become their calling card. We must identify these nations and hold them to account. These nations, in which UN designated terrorists roam freely, lead processions and deliver their poisonous sermons of hate with impunity, are as culpable as the very terrorists they harbour. Such countries should have no place in the comity of nations,” Swaraj said. Given this stance, why India isn’t yet officially tagging Pakistan as a terrorist state, especially when it wants the world to do so?

The bottomline is: Beyond emotional speeches and rhetoric, perhaps, its time for us to take tangible steps to isolate Pakistan in the global map. There is no reason why Pakistan should continue to be India’s MFN.

Pakistan ‘dysfunctional state’; message on J&K should be ‘loud and clear’: India hits back

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The message that Kashmir is an integral part of India should be ‘loud and clear’, India on Monday told Pakistan, calling it a ‘dysfunctional state’ that commits atrocities on its own people and preaches about tolerance, democracy and human rights.Responding to Pakistan’s Right of Reply (RoR), India also asked Pakistan if it can clarify how terror safe havens continue to flourish on its soil despite getting billions of dollars in anti-terrorism aid.Pakistan’s envoy to the UN Maleeha Lodhi, exercising the RoR to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s address to the UN General Assembly here yesterday, earlier said Pakistan rejects “all the baseless allegations” made by her and asserted that Kashmir never was and can never be an integral part of India.She called Kashmir a “disputed territory, the final status of which has yet to be determined in accordance with several resolutions of the UN Security Council”.First Secretary in the Indian Mission to the UN Eenam Gambhir, in India’s Right of Reply to Lodhi’s remarks, said that it appears that the Pakistani envoy “did not hear clearly what our Minister of External Affairs stated during her address earlier today”.Quoting Swaraj that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India, and will always continue to do so, Gambhir said “we hope that the message is loud and clear”.In the RoR, Lodhi claimed that the attack on the Indian Army base in Uri, particularly its timing, has all the ‘hallmarks of an operation designed’ to divert attention from India’s ‘atrocities’ in Kashmir.”The international community is well aware that several such incidents have been staged in the past to serve India’s tactical and propaganda objectives,” she said, adding that India is utilising the Uri incident to blame Pakistan for the current Kashmiri uprising and divert attention from its ‘brutal’ occupation.Gambhir, who had given India’s strong RoR to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s UN General Assembly address, said the world heard from Pakistan “the views of a dysfunctional state” which builds atrocity upon atrocity on its own people, preaching about values of tolerance, democracy and human rights.”We reject entirely these sermons,” she said.Gambhir said that the Pakistani envoy was making “a fanciful and misleading presentation” in her RoR on the situation in the Kashmir, in yet another attempt to divert international attention from her country’s continued sponsorship of terrorism.Gambhir said Pakistan is not answering questions that are being posed to it by the international community such as how is it that terror sanctuaries and safe havens in her country continue to flourish despite the Pakistan army’s “much-vaunted counter terrorism operations, and the billions of dollars of international counter terrorism aid it obtains”.”Can the representative of Pakistan confirm that they do not use terrorist proxies and export terrorism as a matter of state policy?”Can the representative of Pakistan deny that Pakistan had assured in 2004 that it would not allow its territories, or territories under its control, to be used for terror attacks against India? And can the representative of Pakistan deny that it has failed to honour that assurance given at the highest level?” Gambhir asked.India questioned whether the representative of Pakistan will deny that the armed forces of her country committed one of the most extensive and heinous genocides in human history in 1971.”Will the representative of Pakistan deny that its armed forces have used air strikes and artillery against its own people repeatedly. Will the representative of Pakistan explain why is it that Pakistan’s civil society is being silenced by the plethora of heavily armed militias that go by names such as ‘Jaish’ or Army, ‘Lashkar’ or Army, ‘Sipah’ or Soldiers and ‘Harkat’ or Armed movement,” Gambhir said.Responding to Swaraj’s call that nations who do not join the global strategy to fight terrorism should be isolated, Lodhi said India’s government is “delusional” if it believes that it can “isolate” any country.”It is India itself, which because of its war crimes in Kashmir and elsewhere, and because of its warmongering, is likely to be isolated in the international community,” she said.The Pakistani envoy said Swaraj’s statement reflects the “deceit and hostility” of the Indian government towards Pakistan.”These allegations are designed principally to deflect global attention from the brutalities being perpetrated by India’s over half a million occupation force against innocent and unarmed Kashmiri children, women and men in the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir,” Lodhi said.In an RoR exercised after Sharif’s address to the UNGA, India had accused Pakistan of committing war crimes by using terrorism as an instrument of state policy.Lodhi in her RoR said the call for freedom of the Kashmiri people has been met with Indian brutality.”This is the worst form of state terrorism, a war crime, that India has continued to perpetrate in the situation of foreign occupation in Jammu and Kashmir for the past many decades,” she said, adding that Pakistan demands a full and impartial investigation of the Indian ‘atrocities and massive human rights violations’ in Kashmir.”We ask that India accept the investigation proposed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and allow them access for the purpose,” she said.In response to Swaraj’s reference to Pakistani national Bahadur Ali who was arrested in Kashmir, Lodhi said the recently captured “Indian spy, an intelligence officer,” Kulbhushan Yadav, has “confessed” to India’s support to such terrorist and subversive activities particularly in Balochistan and Federally Administered Tribal Areas.”Indeed, it was Kulbhushan, who was financing, arming and supporting individuals and entities listed under the UN sanctions regime,” Lodhi said.She said India’s “policy of interference” in Pakistan, especially its attempt to destabilise Balochistan, are now on record.”This is blatant violation of the principles of the UN Charter,” she said.Lodhi blamed India for suspending talks with Pakistan more than a year ago, saying New Delhi has refused to resume them despite repeated offers from Pakistan and advice from the international community.

‘Sushmaji presented India’s viewpoint very well’: Arvind Kejriwal leads praise for Swaraj’s speech at UNGA

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India asked the global community to urgently adopt a long-pending global treaty on terrorism as well as implement the UN Security Council reform, saying the world needs a more contemporary approach to combating terrorism and a Council that is less outdated.Highlighting the two pending tasks of General Assembly, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said despite the passage of two decades, the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, which was proposed by India in 1996, is yet to be implemented.”…we will be judged by our action and equally by our inaction. What goals have we achieved and what objectives remain unfulfilled?,” she said.”As a result, we are unable to develop a norm under which terrorists shall be prosecuted or extradited. Therefore it is my appeal that this General Assembly acts with fresh resolve and urgency to adopt this critical Convention,” she said.On Security Council reform, Swaraj said just as the world needs a more contemporary approach to combating terrorism, there is also need for a Security Council that is less outdated and that continues to reflect the world order of an earlier era.”The vast majority of nations share the belief that the UN should not remain frozen in 1945, just to serve the interests of a few. Whether it is institutions or issues, we must come to terms with present day realities and the challenges that confront us,” she said.Swaraj added that an expansion in the Permanent and non-Permanent membership of the Council to reflect contemporary realities is an urgent necessity.”We must move forward substantively towards text-based negotiations. If both these long pending issues are addressed during your Presidency, the success of this Session will be ensured,” she said.”The 21st century has begun in the shadow of turmoil, but we can turn this into a golden age in the history of civilisation through united and concerted efforts. But what happens tomorrow will depend on what we do today,” she said. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, one of BJP’s most vocal critics led the praise for Swaraj. Here’s how Twitter reacted:

‘Firm, effective and fine articulation of global issues’: PM Modi hails Sushma Swaraj’s speech at UNGA

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for her speech at the UN General Assembly, saying she had made “firm, effective and fine articulation” of a range of issues.”Congrats to EAM @SushmaSwaraj for a firm, effective & fine articulation of a wide range of global issues at UNGA,” he tweeted shortly after Swaraj delivered the address.Swaraj, in a sharp rebuke to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s “tirade” on Kashmir, said those accusing others of rights violations must introspect.She censured Pakistan for the first time at the UNGA for perpetrating the “worst form of state oppression” in Balochistan.Taking a veiled dig at Pakistan, the External Affairs Minister said there are nations “in our midst” where UN designated terrorists roam freely and deliver “their poisonous sermons of hate with impunity”, an apparent reference to Mumbai attack mastermind and Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed.She also made a strong pitch for isolating such nations who speak the language of terrorism and for whom sheltering terrorists has become “their calling card”. Swaraj starts ‘isolation policy’ at UNGA Lambasting Pakistan’s nefarious design on Jammu and Kashmir, Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj on Monday advised Islamabad to abandon its dream of separating any part of India, saying ‘Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and will always remain so.’ ‘My firm advice to Pakistan is: abandon this dream. Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and will always remain so,’ said Swaraj while addressing the United Nations General Assembly. Responding to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s statements, made five days earlier, at the UNGA, where he accused India of ‘committing brutalities in the Kashmir Valley’ and hailed Hizbul-Mujahideen terrorists Burhan Wani as ‘young leader’, Swaraj said ‘On 21st September, the Prime Minister of Pakistan used this podium to make baseless allegations about human rights violations in my country. I can only say that ‘jinke apne ghar shishe ke ho, unhe dusro par patthar nahi fekne chahiye. (those whose houses are made of glass should not throw stones at others). Those accusing others of human rights violations would do well to introspect and see what egregious abuses they are perpetrating in their own country, including in Balochistan. The brutality against the Baloch people represents the worst form of State oppression.’Going hammer and thongs at Pakistan at the UNGA, Swaraj said, ‘In our midst, there are nations that still speak the language of terrorism, that nurture it, peddle it, and export it. To shelter terrorists has become their calling card. We must identify these nations and hold them to account. These nations, in which UN designated terrorists roam freely, lead processions and deliver their poisonous sermons of hate with impunity, are as culpable as the very terrorists they harbour. Such countries should have no place in the comity of nations.’Countering Pakistan PM’s accusation that India has placed pre-conditions for talks which are not acceptable to him, Swaraj asked: ‘What pre-conditions’ Did we impose any pre-condition before extending an invitation for the oath-taking ceremony of our Government’ Did we impose any pre-condition when I went to Islamabad for the Heart of Asia conference and agreed to begin the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue’ Did we impose any pre-condition when Prime Minister Modi travelled from Kabul to Lahore’ What pre-conditions’’‘We took the initiative to resolve issues not on the basis of conditions, but on the basis of friendship! We have in fact attempted a paradigm of friendship in the last two years which is without precedent. We conveyed Eid greetings to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, wished success to his cricket team, extended good wishes for his health and well being. Did all this come with pre-conditions attached’ And what did we get in return’ Pathankot, Bahadur Ali, and Uri’ she questioned. She said Bahadur Ali is a terrorist in India’s custody, whose confession is a living proof of Pakistan’s complicity in cross-border terror. ‘But when confronted with such evidence, Pakistan remains in denial. It persists in the belief that such attacks will enable it to obtain the territory it covets. My firm advice to Pakistan is: abandon this dream. Let me state unequivocally that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and will always remain so,’ she added. Observing that this month the world marked the 15th Anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks on this city and less than 15 days ago, another attempt at killing innocents was made through an act of terror in this same city, the minister said, ‘We, who have suffered in Uri recently, understand the pain inflicted by the same forces. The world has been battling this scourge for long. However, despite the blood and tears of innocent victims, attacks this year alone in Kabul and Dhaka, Istanbul and Mogadishu, Brussels and Bangkok, Paris, Pathankot and Uri as well as daily barbaric tragedies in Syria and Iraq, remind us that these malevolent forces are yet to be defeated.’ Calling upon the international community to acknowledge that terrorism is undoubtedly the biggest violation of human rights, Swaraj added, ‘It targets the innocent and kills indiscriminately. Terrorism has gone way beyond affecting individuals or nations ‘ it is a crime against humanity itself. But it is important to ask – who is behind this and who benefits from it’ Terrorists do not own banks or weapons factories, so let us ask the real question: who finances these terrorists, who arms them and provides sanctuaries’ We heard similar questions being asked by Afghanistan from this podium.’She said history proves that those who seed extremist ideologies reap a bitter harvest. ‘The germ of evil has grown into a hydra-headed monster, backed by technological sophistication that threatens the peace and harmony of our world. We will not be able to win against terrorism by making specious distinctions between your problems and mine, between terrorists who attack you and those who attack me. For we do not know who this Frankenstein’s monster will devour next,’ she added.Noting that there is only one way to defeat terrorism that ‘we unite across our differences, add steel to our resolve and inject urgency in our response’, the EAM said, ‘We need to forget our prejudices and join hands together to script an effective strategy against terror. This is not an impossible task provided we have the will. We can do it, we must do it. Otherwise our future generations will forever hold us to account. And if any nation refuses to join this global strategy, then we must isolate it.’

Sushma Swaraj’s rebuttal to Nawaz Sharif: Pathankot, Uri proof of Pakistan’s complicity in terrorism

United Nations: In a sharp rebuke to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s “tirade” on Kashmir, India on Monday said those accusing others of rights violations must introspect as it censured Pakistan for the first time at the UNGA for perpetrating the “worst form of state oppression” in Balochistan.

Taking a veiled dig at Pakistan, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in her address at the 71st UN General Assembly (UNGA) session said there are nations “in our midst” where UN designated terrorists roam freely and deliver “their poisonous sermons of hate with impunity”, an apparent reference to Mumbai attack mastermind and Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed.

She also made a strong pitch for isolating such nations who speak the language of terrorism and for whom sheltering terrorists has become “their calling card”.

Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs for India, speaks during the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. PTI

Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs for India, speaks during the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. PTI

“In our midst, there are nations that still speak the language of terrorism, that nurture it, peddle it, and export it. To shelter terrorists has become their calling card. We must identify these nations and hold them to account,” Swaraj asserted in her nearly 20-minute speech in Hindi.

“These nations, in which UN designated terrorists roam freely, lead processions and deliver their poisonous sermons of hate with impunity, are as culpable as the very terrorists they harbour. Such countries should have no place in the comity of nations,” Swaraj said, in essence making a call to the international community to isolate such nations.

In a strong rebuttal of the “baseless allegations” made by Sharif from the podium of the General Assembly about human rights violations by India in Kashmir, Swaraj said, “I can only say that those accusing others of human rights violations would do well to introspect and see what egregious abuses they are perpetrating in their own country, including in Balochistan. The brutality against the Baloch people
represents the worst form of state oppression.”

Countering Pakistan’s claims that India has imposed pre-conditions on talks, Swaraj said India got the terror attacks of Pathankot and Uri “in return” for taking the initiative to resolve issues with Islamabad not on the basis
of conditions but on friendship.

She told Pakistan to “abandon this dream” of obtaining Kashmir, asserting that Jammu and Kashmir is an “integral part of India and will always remain so”.

“It (Pakistan) persists in the belief that such attacks will enable it to obtain the territory it covets,” Swaraj said, adding that their plans will not succeed.

Swaraj forcefully rejected Sharif’s remarks in his General Assembly address last week that India has placed “pre-conditions” for talks which are not acceptable to him.

“What pre-conditions? Did we impose any pre-condition before extending an invitation for the oath-taking ceremony of our Government?” Swaraj said, referring to the unprecedented move by Modi to invite heads of the governments from the South Asian neighborhood, including Sharif, for his oath-taking ceremony in May 2014.

“Did we impose any pre-condition when I went to Islamabad for the Heart of Asia conference and agreed to begin the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue? Did we impose any pre-condition when Prime Minister Modi travelled from Kabul to Lahore? What pre-conditions?,” Swaraj said, making a reference to the surprise visit Modi made to Lahore last December on his way back from Kabul.

In her address, Swaraj said India has attempted an unprecedented “paradigm of friendship” with Pakistan over the last years, which has included wishing the Pakistani leader on the festival of Eid, wishing success to the his cricket team and extending good wishes for his health. In return, she said for these gestures, India got the terror attacks in Uri and Pathankot.

“We took the initiative to resolve issues not on the basis of conditions, but on the basis of friendship! We have in fact attempted a paradigm of friendship in the last two years which is without precedent.

“We conveyed Eid greetings to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, wished success to his cricket team, extended good wishes for his health and well being. Did all this come with pre-conditions attached,” Swaraj said.

“And what did we get in return? Pathankot, Bahadur Ali, and Uri. Bahadur Ali is a terrorist in our custody, whose confession is a living proof of Pakistan’s complicity in cross-border terror,” she added.

Her speech came just over a week after 18 Indian jawans were killed in a deadly attack by Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists from across the border on an army base in Kashmir’s Uri.

Launching a blistering attack on Pakistan, Modi on Saturday warned Pakistan that the Uri terror attack will not be forgotten and the sacrifice of the jawans will not go in vain.

In early January this year, two security personnel were killed when a group of heavily armed militants attacked the Pathankot Air Force Station.

Ali, a Pakistani national allegedly working for terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba who hails from Jahama village of Raiwind in Lahore, was arrested from a village in north Kashmir on 25 July.

The Army had found three AK-47 rifles, two pistols and Rs 23,000 in his possession. Ali was allegedly trained at a Lashkar camp in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Swaraj asserted that when confronted with such evidence, Pakistan “remains in denial”.

Swaraj’s attack on Pakistan comes after Prime Minister Modi, addressing the East Asia Summit in Laos earlier this month, had said that there is “one country in our neighbourhood” which “produces and exports” terror and had called on the international community to isolate and sanction “this” instigator.

In a speech in Kozhikode on Saturday, his first public address after the Uri incident, Modi had said that India will intensify its efforts so that Pakistan is completely isolated.

Swaraj asserted that terrorism deeply concerns every member of the UN General Assembly, with people from New York, Kabul, Uri and Istanbul bearing the brunt of the growing scourge.

“This month we marked the 15th Anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks on this city. Tragically, less than 15 days ago, another attempt at killing innocents was made through an act of terror in this same city,” Swaraj said reffering to the bombings in Manhattan and New Jersey earlier this month.

“We, who have suffered in Uri recently, understand the pain inflicted by the same forces. The world has been battling this scourge for long. However, despite the blood and tears of innocent victims, attacks this year alone in Kabul and Dhaka, Istanbul and Mogadishu, Brussels and Bangkok, Paris, Pathankot and Uri as well as daily barbaric tragedies in Syria and Iraq, remind us that these malevolent forces are yet to be defeated,” she said.

Swaraj underlined that the international community must acknowledge that terrorism is undoubtedly the biggest violation of human rights and is a crime against humanity.

“It targets the innocent and kills indiscriminately. Terrorism has gone way beyond affecting individuals or nations — it is a crime against humanity itself. But it is important to ask — who is behind this and who benefits from it? Terrorists do not own banks or weapons factories, so let us ask the real question: who finances these terrorists, who arms them and provides sanctuaries?” she said, adding that Afghanistan too had raised similar concerns on terror financing and safe havens from the UNGA podium.

“History proves that those who seed extremist ideologies, reap a bitter harvest. The germ of evil has grown into a hydra-headed monster, backed by technological sophistication that threatens the peace and harmony of our world,” Swaraj said.

She called on the international community to unite across our differences to defeat terrorism, saying the fight against the global scourge cannot be won if distinctions are made between terrorists.

“We will not be able to win against terrorism by making specious distinctions between your problems and mine, between terrorists who attack you and those who attack me. For we do not know who this Frankenstein’s monster will devour next,” she said.

There is only one way to defeat terrorism and that is to “unite across our differences, add steel to our resolve and inject urgency in our response,” she said.

Nations must forget their prejudices and join hands together to script an effective strategy against terror, Swaraj stressed.

“This is not an impossible task provided we have the will. We can do it, we must do it. Otherwise our future generations will forever hold us to account. And if any nation refuses to join this global strategy, then we must isolate it,” she asserted.

Sushma Swaraj slams Pakistan at UNGA: ‘Kashmir was, is and will be part of India’

In a powerful speech at the 71st United Nations General Assembly in New York, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj slammed Pakistan for being a terrorist haven. Hitting out at the Nawaz Sharif-led Pakistani government, Swaraj said that in exchange of friendship with the neighbouring country, India always got terrorism in return — in the form of Pathankot, Uri and Bahadur Ali.

In response to Pakistan’s constant provocation that Kashmir is an international issue, Swaraj said, “Jammu and Kashmir is a part of India and will always remain a part of India.”

In her rebuttal to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech at the UNGA, she used the idiom, “People living in glass houses should not throw stone at others” and said that brutalities against the people of Balochistan represent the worst form of oppression.

Referring to Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist, she said, “Bahadur Ali is a living example of Pakistan’s cross border terrorism.”

Swaraj appealed to the international community to join the fight against terrorism and said, “Terrorism is the biggest violation of human rights.”

Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs for India, speaks during the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. PTI

Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs for India, speaks during the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. PTI

“In our midst, there are nations that still speak the language of terrorism, that nurture it, peddle it, and export it. To shelter terrorists has become their calling card. We must identify these nations and hold them to account,” she said.

In response to Sharif’s allegation that “India posed unacceptable pre-conditions to engage in dialogue,” Swaraj said, “We took the initiative to resolve issues not on the basis of conditions, but on the basis of friendship! We have in fact attempted a paradigm of friendship in the last two years which is without precedent.” She said despite showing evidence of cross-border terrorism, Pakistan has remained in denial.

Swaraj called for the implementation of Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism and said, “We are unable to develop a norm under which terrorists shall be prosecuted or extradited. Therefore it is my appeal that this General Assembly acts with fresh resolve and urgency to adopt this critical Convention.”

External Affairs Minister arrived in New York on 25 September for the UNGA.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Swaraj “for a firm, effective & fine articulation of a wide range of global issues.”

You can watch her entire speech here:

After Sharif’s vitriolic speech, all eyes were on Swaraj and her rebuttal. “The whole world and the entire nation” is waiting to hear from Swaraj, who will deliver India’s “vision document” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup had said ahead of her speech, reported PTI.

Earlier, India’s envoy to the UN Syed Akbaruddin had said that terrorism is the “primary concern” for India as well as for nations across the world.

Earlier this week, while Sharif’s tirade against India under right to reply, the Indian diplomatic mission at the UN was also point-blank and called the neighbouring country “Ivy League of terror”.

Moreover, in a three-minute rebuttal, Indian diplomat Eenam Gambhir raised the possibility of Pakistan being guilty of war crimes for sponsoring terrorism as an instrument of state policy and ridiculed the country as the centre for terrorism education.

In his speech at the UN last week, Sharif conveyed to the world community that Pakistan accords martyr status to killed Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani and said, “The men, women and children come out to demand freedom everyday and Pakistan stands with the people of Kashmir.”

The Pakistan prime minister also termed Wani as a symbol of the latest Kashmiri “Intifada.” Playing the victim card, Sharif claimed Pakistan has gone the extra mile to ensure peace with India. However, “India posed unacceptable pre-conditions to engage in dialogue,” he had said.

He also drew attention to the human rights violation in Kashmir and said that Pakistan will share dossier with the UN Secretary General on Indian brutalities in Kashmir and demanded demilitarisation of Kashmir.

Modi on Saturday had said India will totally isolate Pakistan in the international arena for “exporting terror”. He further said that every nation holds one country responsible for terrorism that is providing a safe haven for terrorists.

“Terrorists should hear out clearly that India will never forget the Uri attack…. I want to tell the leadership of Pakistan that the sacrifice of our 18 jawans will not go in vain,” Modi had said while addressing a public meeting in Kozhikode on Saturday.

With inputs from agencies

Watch: Sushma Swaraj at UNGA hammers Pak on terror, Pathankot, Uri

Sushma Swaraj took the stage at UNGA in New York and turned the screws on Pakistan, naming the country as a hotbed of terror and calling on the international community to isolate countries like Pakistan which sow, reap and export only terror.

Top quotes from the Sushma Swaraj speech:

Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs for India, speaks during the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. PTISushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs for India, speaks during the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. PTI

Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs for India, speaks during the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. PTI

1. The Prime Minister of Pakistan also said that India has placed pre-conditions for talks which are not acceptable to him. What pre-conditions? We have gone towards Pakistan in friendship in the last two years which is without precedent. We conveyed Eid greetings to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, wished success to his cricket team, extended good wishes for his health and well being. Did all this come with pre-conditions attached? And what did we get in return? Pathankot, Bahadur Ali, and Uri. Bahadur Ali is a terrorist in our custody, whose confession is proof of Pakistan’s complicity in cross-border terror.

2. Did we impose any pre-condition before extending an invitation for the oath-taking ceremony of our government? Did we impose any pre-condition when I went to Islamabad for the Heart of Asia conference and agreed to begin the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue? Did we impose any pre-condition when Prime Minister Modi travelled from Kabul to Lahore? What pre-conditions?

3. Those living in glass houses must not throw stones. Those accusing others of human rights violations must peer over their shoulder at the neighbor and just look at what is going on in Baluchistan.

4. In our midst, there are nations that still speak the language of terrorism, that sow it and export it. To shelter terrorists has become their calling card. We must identify these nations and hold them to account. These nations in which terrorists roam free, lead processions and deliver their poisonous sermons should have no place in our midst.

5. We must acknowledge that terrorism is undoubtedly the biggest violation of human rights.
However, despite the blood and tears of innocent victims, attacks this year alone in Kabul and Dhaka, Istanbul and Mogadishu, Brussels and Bangkok, Paris, Pathankot and Uri as well as daily barbaric tragedies in Syria and Iraq, remind us that these forces are yet to be defeated. We, who have suffered in Uri recently, understand the pain inflicted by the same forces. Tragically, less than 15 days ago, another attempt at killing innocents was made through an act of terror in this same city.

Kashmir is an integral part of India: Full text of Sushma Swaraj’s speech at UNGA

Giving a befitting reply to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday reiterate that Kashmir was, is and will be an integral part of India at the UN General Assembly in New York.

Here is the full text of Swaraj’s speech at the UNGA:

Hon’ble President,
On behalf of India and on my own behalf, I congratulate you on your election as President of the 71st United Nations General Assembly. Let me also take this opportunity to thank Secretary General Ban Ki Moon for his services to the United Nations, history’s largest peace movement.

Mr. President,

A year has passed since I stood here at this hallowed podium to address the members of the international community. Since then, much has changed in the world around us – some for the better, some for the worse and much which has been cause of great concern. There can be no better platform to ponder our actions and our achievements over the last year. We must remember that we will be defined not just by our actions, but equally, by our inaction.

Mr. President,

A number of issues have been debated in this august Assembly – from the necessity of global partnerships in sharing new vaccines and promoting access to affordable drugs to counter anti-microbial resistance, to the need for faster implementation of the Sendai Framework to mitigate the risk of natural disasters. From the challenge of ensuring well-ordered mobility of productive human resources, to the necessity of adequate consultations with Troop Contributing Countries before framing mandates for UN Peacekeeping Operations. But my time is limited. I would therefore, focus only on some of the most pressing issues facing the international community.

Mr. President,

The true challenge of our time is to end the curse of harsh poverty that still lurks in so many corners of our world; to ensure that the fruits of growing prosperity reach those who need it most; to take forward the mission of gender equality and protect women where there is gender regression; and to ensure peace across boundaries, not least because there can be no prosperity without peace.
I congratulate you for the priority you have given to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by making them the theme for the 71st UNGA. I am happy that the 17 goals adopted by this Assembly are matched by the development vision of my Government, which is geared towards the achievement of these same objectives. Under the Swachh Bharat Mission (Clean India Campaign), more than 400,000 toilets have been constructed in schools. The Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (Educate the Girl Child, Save the Girl Child) programme has become a nation-wide mission. The Make in India brand is receiving international acclaim. Almost 250 million bank accounts have been opened for the poor under the Jan Dhan Yojana, the largest financial inclusion programme the world has ever seen. Digital India is transforming the country. Under the Skill India initiative, a number of programmes are underway to enable youth to reap the demographic dividend. These initiatives have added a new dimension to India’s growth story, making it the fastest growing major economy in the world at a time of slow global growth.

Mr. President,

We are all aware that 1/6th of humanity lives in India. Therefore global success in realizing SDGs depends on the success achieved in India. We are committed to the wholehearted implementation of the Agenda 2030 as a national effort. We have decided to dedicate one day in each session of our Parliament for discussions only on SDGs. This will enable us to constantly monitor their progress and this will give us good results.
However, in a globalised world, national effort needs to be supplemented by international cooperation for the successful implementation of Agenda 2030.

Mr. President,

Climate change is yet another serious challenge confronting us. There are enough resources on this planet to fulfil everyone’s needs, but not enough to fulfil anyone’s greed, for greed is limitless. In this context PM Modi has championed a new concept – Climate Justice. If we respect nature, nature will respect and nurture us and future generations. But, if we exploit nature mindlessly, then we must be mindful that nature will unleash its fury upon us. In different parts of the world, we have already seen nature drift towards the unnatural – from torrential rain to excessive heat, from tsunamis to storms and cloudbursts.
We must curb reckless consumption, and adopt lifestyles in harmony with nature. Yoga, the storehouse of India’s ancient wisdom, epitomises a sustainable lifestyle. Let me record our gratitude for the unprecedented global response to the International Day of Yoga.
In the Paris Agreement, the principle of ‘Common but Differentiated Responsibilities’ and ‘Respective Capabilities’ has been acknowledged and accepted. This makes clear that while our responsibility is common, obligations are different. Developed nations must discharge their responsibility in the search for the common good, with finance and technology transfer.
India has launched an ambitious domestic effort to transform our energy mix to achieve 40% energy from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030. The massive investments required entail a predictable and stable environment towards which we are working actively. Apart from this, our path-breaking initiative for an International Solar Alliance is intended to make efficient solar technology available for all.
I assure this Assembly that India will continue to play a leading role in combating climate change. We have decided to submit our Instrument of Ratification of the Paris Agreement on October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi who epitomised a lifestyle with the smallest carbon footprint.

Mr. President,

Let me now turn to a subject of the most critical importance, one which deeply concerns every member of this Assembly. This month we marked the 15th Anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks on this city. Tragically, less than 15 days ago, another attempt at killing innocents was made through an act of terror in this same city. We, who have suffered in Uri recently, understand the pain inflicted by the same forces. The world has been battling this scourge for long. However, despite the blood and tears of innocent victims, attacks this year alone in Kabul and Dhaka, Istanbul and Mogadishu, Brussels and Bangkok, Paris, Pathankot and Uri as well as daily barbaric tragedies in Syria and Iraq, remind us that these malevolent forces are yet to be defeated.
We must acknowledge that terrorism is undoubtedly the biggest violation of human rights. It targets the innocent and kills indiscriminately. Terrorism has gone way beyond affecting individuals or nations – it is a crime against humanity itself. But it is important to ask – who is behind this and who benefits from it? Terrorists do not own banks or weapons factories, so let us ask the real question: who finances these terrorists, who arms them and provides sanctuaries? We heard similar questions being asked by Afghanistan from this podium.

Mr. President,

History proves that those who seed extremist ideologies, reap a bitter harvest. The germ of evil has grown into a hydra-headed monster, backed by technological sophistication that threatens the peace and harmony of our world. We will not be able to win against terrorism by making specious distinctions between your problems and mine, between terrorists who attack you and those who attack me. For we do not know who this Frankenstein’s monster will devour next.
Therefore if we want to defeat terrorism, there is only one way – that we unite across our differences, add steel to our resolve and inject urgency in our response. We need to forget our prejudices and join hands together to script an effective strategy against terror. This is not an impossible task provided we have the will. We can do it, we must do it. Otherwise our future generations will forever hold us to account. And if any nation refuses to join this global strategy, then we must isolate it.
In our midst, there are nations that still speak the language of terrorism, that nurture it, peddle it, and export it. To shelter terrorists has become their calling card. We must identify these nations and hold them to account. These nations, in which UN designated terrorists roam freely, lead processions and deliver their poisonous sermons of hate with impunity, are as culpable as the very terrorists they harbour. Such countries should have no place in the comity of nations.

Mr. President,

On 21st September, the Prime Minister of Pakistan used this podium to make baseless allegations about human rights violations in my country. I can only say that those accusing others of human rights violations would do well to introspect and see what egregious abuses they are perpetrating in their own country, including in Balochistan. The brutality against the Baloch people represents the worst form of State oppression.

Mr. President,

The Prime Minister of Pakistan also said that India has placed pre-conditions for talks which are not acceptable to him. What pre-conditions? Did we impose any pre-condition before extending an invitation for the oath-taking ceremony of our Government? Did we impose any pre-condition when I went to Islamabad for the Heart of Asia conference and agreed to begin the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue? Did we impose any pre-condition when Prime Minister Modi travelled from Kabul to Lahore? What pre-conditions? We took the initiative to resolve issues not on the basis of conditions, but on the basis of friendship! We have in fact attempted a paradigm of friendship in the last two years which is without precedent. We conveyed Eid greetings to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, wished success to his cricket team, extended good wishes for his health and well being. Did all this come with pre-conditions attached?
And what did we get in return? Pathankot, Bahadur Ali, and Uri. Bahadur Ali is a terrorist in our custody, whose confession is a living proof of Pakistan’s complicity in cross-border terror. But when confronted with such evidence, Pakistan remains in denial. It persists in the belief that such attacks will enable it to obtain the territory it covets. My firm advice to Pakistan is: abandon this dream. Let me state unequivocally that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and will always remain so.

Mr. President,

As I said at the very beginning, we will be judged by our action and equally by our inaction. What goals have we achieved and what objectives remain unfulfilled? I would like to highlight two such pending tasks of this Assembly.
The CCIT was proposed by India in 1996. In 2016, despite the passage of two decades, we are yet to come to a conclusion. As a result, we are unable to develop a norm under which terrorists shall be prosecuted or extradited. Therefore it is my appeal that this General Assembly acts with fresh resolve and urgency to adopt this critical Convention.
Just as we need a more contemporary approach to combating terrorism, we also need a less outdated Security Council that continues to reflect the world order of an earlier era. The vast majority of nations share the belief that the UN should not remain frozen in 1945, just to serve the interests of a few. Whether it is institutions or issues, we must come to terms with present day realities and the challenges that confront us. An expansion in the Permanent and non-Permanent membership of the Council to reflect contemporary realities is therefore, an urgent necessity. We must move forward substantively towards text-based negotiations.

Mr. President,

If both these long pending issues are addressed during your Presidency, the success of this Session will be ensured.
The 21st century has begun in the shadow of turmoil, but we can turn this into a golden age in the history of civilization through united and concerted efforts. But what happens tomorrow will depend on what we do today.
Thank you.

dna Evening Must Reads: PM Modi reviews Indus Waters treaty; Sushma Swaraj speaks at UNGA; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Blood and water cannot flow together: PM Modi on Indus Waters treaty with PakistanPrime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday chaired a meeting to review the Indus Waters treaty with Pakistan amidst heightened tension between two countries. It is reported that PM Modi hit back strongly at Pakistan and said ‘blood and water cannot flow together’. Read more. 2. Watch: After shoe attack, Rahul Gandhi blames BJP-RSS, says he is not afraidCongress Vice President Rahul Gandhi was attacked with a shoe on Monday during his road show in Sitapur district of Uttar Pradesh. Responding to the attack, Rahul Gandhi said, “Want to tell BJP, RSS people…throw as many shoes on me as you want, I don’t fear you”. Read more.3. Live Updates: Sushma Swaraj speaks at UNGAExternal Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will today give a stinging response to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s “tirade” on Kashmir at the UN General Assembly and attack the country for using terrorism as an “instrument of state policy”. Catch the live updates here.4. 2008 Malegaon blast case: NIA court rejects bail plea of Lt Col Prasad PurohitThe special NIA court on Monday rejected the bail plea of Col Prasad Purohit, an accused in the Malegaon 2008 blast case. The September 29, 2008 blast had killed seven people. Read more.5. ‘Baahubali 2’ to wrap up by this November!The shoot of one of the most awaited movies of 2017 with some phenomenal action sequences is expected to finish sometime in November. The climax sequence is being shot right now. Read more.

Sushma Swaraj will giving ‘stinging reply’ to Pakistan in UN speech: Vikas Swarup

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will give a stinging response to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s “tirade” on Kashmir at the UN General Assembly and attack the country for using terrorism as an “instrument of state policy”. “The whole world and the entire nation” is waiting to hear from Swaraj, who will deliver India’s “vision document” for the 71st UNGA, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup told reporters.With a focus on tackling terrorism, India will corner Pakistan, which used the world body forum to talk extensively about Kashmir four days ago, for being a “terrorist state”. India made its sharpest attack on Pakistan on Thursday, calling the country home to the “Ivy League of Terrorism” which carries out “war crimes” and pitches for talks with a “gun in its hand”. Outlining India’s focus for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session, India’s envoy to the UN Syed Akbaruddin had said that terrorism is the “primary concern” for India as well as for nations across the world.Swaraj will address the UN general debate and is expected to give a stinging response to Sharif’s speech. “We are all looking forward to that,” Swarup said. He did not elaborate on elements of Swaraj’s address but said “I think the broad themes that Akbaruddin has outlined are definitely going to be a part of our presentation at this most important forum in the international community”. Swarup said one can also expect “a continued focus from India on the theme of terrorism which is today undoubtedly the single biggest challenge to international peace and security”.Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar earlier said glorification of Burhan Wani, commander of the militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen, by Sharif at the world forum is an act of “self-incrimination” by Pakistan.He had also said it is “shocking” that a leader of a nation can “glorify a self-declared self-advertised terrorist” at a forum such as the United Nations General Assembly after Sharif hailed Wani – who was killed on July 8 by the Indian forces resulting in tensions in the Valley – as a “young leader” and the “symbol” of the Kashmiris’ freedom movement.First Secretary in the Permanent Mission of India to the UN Eenam Gambhir also made a strong rebuttal to Sharif’s “long tirade” about the situation in Kashmir, saying it is ironical that a country which has established itself as the global epicentre of terrorism, is preaching human rights and talks about the ostensible support for self-determination.Exercising India’s Right of Reply, she told the UN General Assembly that shortly before Pakistan gave its “hypocritical sermons” in the world body, its envoy in New Delhi was summoned in the context of the most recent of the terror attacks in Uri that claimed 18 Indian lives. Congress batting for Swaraj The Congress on Monday extended support to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s ahead of her address to the United Nation General Assembly (UNGA) and expected the latter to give a befitting reply to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. ‘We hope that she will keep her points forward with powerfully. Sushma is a good orator she will give a befitting reply and will respond on statements made by the Prime Minister of Pakistan and will describe how Pakistan has become a centre of terrorism from past 20-25 years,’ Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit told ANI. Congress leader P.L. Punia asserted that a suitable reply is must to counter unrestrained statements of Prime Minister Sharif on Kashmir and hoped Swaraj would reply well. On Saturday, Prime Minister Modi said, “A day will come when the people of Pakistan will go against their own government to fight terrorism. India has been successful in isolating you (Pakistan) globally, and we will intensify our efforts to make sure that you are isolated globally. The people of Pakistan should ask their leaders that India and Pakistan got freedom in the same year, but India exports software and your (Pakistan) leaders are exporting terrorists.” Last week, First Secretary at the Permanent Mission of India to the UN, Eenam Gambhir, had said that the worst violation of human rights is terrorism. She said Pakistan is home to the “Ivy League of Terrorism” and a terrorist state that commits war crimes by using terrorism as an instrument of state policy.Gambhir said what India and its other neighbours are facing today is Pakistan’s long-standing policy of sponsoring terrorism, the consequences of which have spread well beyond the region.She had said India sees Pakistan as a terrorist state which channelises billions of dollars, much of it diverted from international aid, to training, financing and supporting terror groups as militant proxies against it neighbours.With inputs PTI and ANI

Sushma Swaraj’s speech at United Nations: Timing, live streaming and where to watch

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The whole world and the entire nation” is waiting to hear from Swaraj, who will deliver India’s “vision document” for the 71st UNGA, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup told reporters. With a focus on tackling terrorism, India will corner Pakistan, which used the world body forum to talk extensively about Kashmir four days ago, for being a “terrorist state”. India made its sharpest attack on Pakistan on Thursday, calling the country home to the “Ivy League of Terrorism” which carries out “war crimes” and pitches for talks with a “gun in its hand”. Outlining India’s focus for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session, India’s envoy to the UN Syed Akbaruddin had said that terrorism is the “primary concern” for India as well as for nations across the world. Swaraj will address the UN general debate and is expected to give a stinging response to Sharif’s speech.”We are all looking forward to that,” Swarup said. He did not elaborate on elements of Swaraj’s address but said “I think the broad themes that Akbaruddin has outlined are definitely going to be a part of our presentation at this most important forum in the international community”. Swarup said one can also expect “a continued focus from India on the theme of terrorism which is today undoubtedly the single biggest challenge to international peace and security”. Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar earlier said glorification of Burhan Wani, commander of the militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen, by Sharif at the world forum is an act of “self-incrimination” by Pakistan. He had also said it is “shocking” that a leader of a nation can “glorify a self-declared self-advertised terrorist” at a forum such as the United Nations General Assembly after Sharif hailed Wani – who was killed on July 8 by the Indian forces resulting in tensions in the Valley – as a “young leader” and the “symbol” of the Kashmiris’ freedom movement. First Secretary in the Permanent Mission of India to the UN Eenam Gambhir also made a strong rebuttal to Sharif’s “long tirade” about the situation in Kashmir, saying it is ironical that a country which has established itself as the global epicentre of terrorism, is preaching human rights and talks about the ostensible support for self-determination. Exercising India’s Right of Reply, she told the UN General Assembly that shortly before Pakistan gave its “hypocritical sermons” in the world body, its envoy in New Delhi was summoned in the context of the most recent of the terror attacks in Uri that claimed 18 Indian lives.What time is Sushma Swaraj’s speech? The speech is likely to start at 7:30 PM IST. It will depend on the timing of the speeches of earlier leaders. How to watch it. You can watch the livestream below: There’s no doubt Indo-Pak relations have hit a new low since the Uri attack. This was epitomised by Eenam Gambhir’s sharp reubutal to Pak PM Sharif’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly where she branded Pakistan the ‘host to the Ivy League of terrorism’. Exercising India’s Right of Reply to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s “long tirade” about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, First Secretary in the Permanent Mission of India to the UN Eenam Gambhir made a strong rebuttal. “What my country and our other neighbours are facing today is Pakistan’s long-standing policy of sponsoring terrorism, the consequences of which have spread well beyond our region,” she said.Gambhir said India sees in Pakistan “a terrorist state” which channelizes billions of dollars, much of it diverted from international aid, to training, financing and supporting terrorist groups as militant proxies against it neighbours. She noted that the land of Taxila, one of the greatest learning centres of ancient times, “is now host to the Ivy League of terrorism” and attracts aspirants and apprentices from all over the world.

At UN General Assembly, Sushma Swaraj likely to follow Narendra Modi’s stance on Pakistan

New York: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will address the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on Monday, where she is expected to lead India’s attack on Pakistan and seek global support to dub it a “terror state”, following the Uri terror attack that killed 18 soldiers.

Taking a cue from Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s first public speech, post the 18 September Uri attack, on Saturday where he openly warned Pakistan of isolating it internationally, the External Affairs Minister is likely to take a tough stance, and is likely to be blunt, vis-a-vis the western neighbour.

File photo of India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. APFile photo of India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. AP

File photo of India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. AP

“Leading India’s delegation to the 71st UNGA. EAM @SushmaSwaraj arrives in New York,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in a tweet.

Modi on Saturday said India will totally isolate Pakistan in the international arena for “exporting terror”.

Earlier this week, while responding to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s tirade against India under right to reply, the Indian diplomatic mission at the UN was also point-blank and did not hesitate to call the neighbouring country “Ivy League of terror”.

Sushma Swaraj’s tone during her address to the UNGA on Monday is also likely to be equally tough and blunt. India’s much-awaited address at the United Nations General Assembly is scheduled later on Monday with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj expected to focus on the recent terror attack at Uri in Kashmir, up the ante against Pakistan and seek global support to dub it a “terror state”.

“Rulers of Pakistan, listen. The sacrifices of our 18 soldiers won’t go in vain. India has been successful in isolating you. We will force you to be left alone in the world. That day is not far when people of Pakistan will take to streets to fight against the rulers and fight terrorism,” Modi had said.

Sushma Swaraj is also expected to give a befitting reply to an earlier address at the UNGA by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Under the UNGA’s right to reply, after Sharif’s address, the Indian diplomatic mission at the UN was also point-blank and called the neighbouring country the “Ivy League of terror”.

In the three-minute rebuttal, Indian diplomat Eenam Gambhir raised the possibility of Pakistan being guilty of war crimes for sponsoring terrorism as an instrument of state policy and ridiculed the country as the centre for terrorism education.

Sushma’s tone during her address to the UNGA on Monday is also likely to be equally tough and blunt, diplomats said.

Highly qualified specially-abled girl seeks euthanasia after failing to get job; writes to PM, President

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi talks about giving special status and respect to specially-abled people or ‘divyangs’, Laxmi Yadav, a specially-abled girl from Madhya Pradesh capital Bhopal has sought euthanasia after being rejected for a job across the state.Dejected, she has written to Prime Minister Modi, President Pranab Mukherjee, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan asking for euthanasia.In her plea, Laxmi said that despite acquiring an M.Phil and LLM, she has been unable to find a job for herself, and that too when there is three percent reservation for specially-abled people.”I have asked for euthanasia from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Pranab Mukherjee, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan that I am unable to find a job for myself despite being so qualified. For the last 10-12 years, I have been trying to get a job but all my efforts have gone in vain,” Laxmi told ANI.”I am more qualified than a normal person. I am just not able to do practice because everywhere I am being told that because I am physically challenged, I won’t be able to work properly, won’t be able to climb up the stairs etc, etc. They are more sure than me that I would not be able to work,” she added.She added that the Madhya Pradesh Government has launched so many yojnas, yet she has not benefitted.”I am talking about the private sector wherever I have applied. If you don’t give me job, then how would you be able to know about my efficiencies and capabilities,” she said.

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