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February - March 2005


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Manmohan Singh announces Dual citizenship to all NRIs

Pravasi Diwas was celebrated on 9th January, in Mumbai . Some 2,000 overseas Indians were taking part in the three-day conference. Inaugurating the conference, he said, "I am happy to announce that we have decided to extend the facility of dual citizenship to all overseas Indians who migrated from India after January 26, 1950, as long as their home countries allow dual citizenship under their local laws."

The announcement was welcomed by the delegates who considered it more liberal than the previous government’s decision to grant dual citizenship to overseas Indians in selected developed countries.

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The seer of Kanchipuram, Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswathi given bail by the Supreme Court of India.

Simultaneously, the Tamil Nadu police summoned Shankaracharya for further interrogation in a murder case. On the objections of the lawyers for the defence, summons were withdrawn; but the Tamil Nadu government has applied to the Supreme Court that the seer should not enter the premises of the Math at Kanchipuram. Meanwhile, as many as 183 bank accounts of the muth have been frozen, virtually paralysing its activities.

BJP leader, LK Advani told reporters that he along with former president R Venkataraman and former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging him that the Central Government ought to intervene on the issue. "It is the question of sentiments of crores of Hindus, hurt by invetigations being conducted with a vindictive attitude and the ill-treatment meted out to Jayendra Saraswati." He also demanded that the cases against the Shankaracharya should be shifted out of Tamil Nadu.

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Pakistan rejects any ‘made in India, solution to ‘made in Pakistan’ Dispute

Pakistani President Mr. Pervez Musharraf again declared that a third party mediation is the only alternative if the present bilateral talks donot make any headway. He outright rejected any solution offered by India.
On Baglihar Project in J & K , Pakistan has already announced that it would take the case to the World Bank. Without paying any heed to Pakistan’s next move, the work on the project in Kashmir is going on as usual. India’s determination to continue the project arises from two precedents where Kashmir has been the ultimate loser. India agreed to Pakistan-dictated tems on the Salal project, which has led to very high siltation levels, affecting power generation drastically. In 1988, again, India agreed to Benazir Bhutto’s request and stopped construction of the Tulbul project. It remains unresolved till this day. Somehow, it has become part of the ‘final solution’ to Kashmir.
India is keen on getting the Baglihar project completed in time. An agreement between JKPDC and nine-FI consortium has been signed for a loan of Rs 17.70 billion for Baglihar.
India believes that a World Bank ruling is likely to be favourable to India. Pakistan wants a veto on anything to do with J&K.
Jammu & Kashmir is ‘made in Pakistan’ dispute. Indian government should call off its peace process till Pakistan sees the reality . To promote terrorist activities will backfire on Pakistan. (Please send your views to India Link).

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Tsunami in Indian Ocean

We have read so much, heard so much and seen so much of the tragedy brought by tsunami in Indian Ocean that there is now fear of paralysis of senses.
Let us begin with prayer written by Marianne Williamson.

Dear God,
Please work a miracle
In those whose lives were
Lost or broken in the wake of the tsunami.
May your hand upon them
Bring comfort and peace.
May the love of the world
Bring aid and relief.
Send a legion of angels
To their side,
To uplife them in their time of need.
And show us how we can serve.

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Tsunami
by Pushpa Bhargav

At the dawn
With the clear blue sky
And the beautiful sunrise
The beautiful land
Looked like
A land of paradise.
Thousands lying relaxed
On the golden sand
Playing with the surf
Or walking on the seashore
With hand in hand
Ready to say
Goodbye to the year.
All of a sudden
A rumble they could hear
Nothing could they see
But water and water
And water everywhere.
As if woken from the slumber
They were plunged into wonder
A huge wall of water
With the power of a rock
Rushed to the seashore
Drowning the masses.
In great horror and shock.
The gigantic mighty waves
Of the cruel hungry ocean
sweeping and tearing
boats and the beaches;
crashing the dwellings
wherever they could reach.
swallowing thousands and thousands
of innocent lives but why?
Hundreds of screams and shouts
Kept saying "Tsunami, Tsunami
We are not ready to die."

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Narendra Modi - first to help

Following the terrible Tsunami disaster in South India states, while deliberations were being held at the Centre, to convene the meeting of Crisis Management Group (CMG), the dynamic Chief Minister of Gujarat, was presiding over the meeting of its CMG. The meeting of CMG of Gujarat was held first and that of CMG of Central Government later. The high speed with which the CM of Gujarat made preparations to meet the coming calamity has left the officers of Central Government amazed.

After all his state had suffered a lot only a couple of years ago.
The style of functioning of Narendra Modi is a tribute to the efficiency of Gujarat Government. By 10am, decision was made that the Tsunami’s victims would be help. At 11am, the countries affected were sent the telegrams of sympathy. By the afternoon, programme of
relief operations was sketched and stocktaking done. by 5pm, two planes loaded with relief equipment were ready for flight

Tsunami waves had hit Tamilnadu, Keral, and Andaman-Nicobar. But the lightening speed with which Modi was engaged in the relief work, has earned the admiration of the Central Government officers.

Modi established a control room for relief work in Gandhinagar. In this work, he took a very important step. To keep contact with Tamilnadu Government, he selected Tamil speaking officers from Gujarat, for coordinating with Kerala, he selected Malayalam Officers and he did the same thing about Andaman. He was in constant touch with Lt Governor of Andaman, Ram Kapse to get a chance for the planes from Gujarat to land on the Port Blair aerodrome.
He was personally supervising what material should be sent to South Indian states. While selecting the material for relief work, the officers had listed Kurta and Pyjama. Modi corrected to read it as “Lungi - Shirt”. The officers did not have the presence of mind to remember that where the relief material was being sent, people wear Lungi and Shirts and not Kurta-Pyjama,
but Modi had it.

While the Disaster Management team of Central Government was surveying the areas, Modi selected 67 highly affected talukas and appointed 67 Officers. Every officer was directed to look after his own Taluka. He also directed them to take the cooperation of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and other voluntary organization.

We salute Narendra Modi for such efficiency unknown in the corridors of power in New Delhi even in the times of Vajpayee and LK Advani. We hope the next Prime Minister of India may come from Gujarat. (Please give us your comments on editor@indialink-online.com.)

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This article by Jeremy Seabrook of the Guardian will be of great interest to our readers.

In death, imperialism lives on

The number of fishing boats from Sumatra, Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu at sea when the Boxing Day tsunami hit will never be known. There is scarcely any population tally of the crowded coasts. Nameless people are consigned to unmarked graves; in mosques and temples, makeshift mortuaries, people pull aside a cloth, a piece of sacking, to see if those they loved lie beneath. As in all natural disasters, the victims are overwhelmingly the poorest. This time there was something different. The tsunami struck resorts where westerners were on holiday. For the western media, it was clear that their lives have a different order of importance from those that have died in thousands, but have no known biography, and, apparently, no intelligible tongue in which to express their feelings. This is not to diminish the trauma of loss of life, whether of tourist or fisherman. But when we distinguish between “locals” who have died and westerners, “locals” all too easily becomes a euphemism for what were once referred to as natives. Whatever tourism’s merits, it risks reinforcing the imperial sensibility. For this sensibility has already been reawakened by all the human-made, preventable catastrophes. The ruins of Galle and Bandar Aceh called forth images of Falluja, Mosul and Gaza. Imperial powers, it seems, anticipate the destructive capacity of nature. A report on ITN news made this explicit, by referring to “nature’s shock and awe”. But while the tsunami death toll rises in anonymous thousands, in Iraq disdainful American authorities don’t do body counts.

One of the most poignant sights of the past few days was that of westerners overcome with gratitude that they had been helped by the grace and mercy of those who had lost everything, but still regarded them as guests. When these same people appear in the west, they become the interloper, the unwanted migrant, the asylum seeker, who should go back to where they belong. A globalisation that permits the wealthy to pass effortlessly through borders confines the poor to eroded subsistence, overfished waters and an impoverishment that seems to have no end. People rarely say that poor countries are swamped by visitors, even though their money power pre-empts the best produce, the clean water and amenities unknown to the indigenous population.

In death, there should be no hierarchy. But even as Sri Lankans wandered in numb disbelief through the corpses, British TV viewers were being warned that scenes they were about to witness might distress them. Poor people have no consoling elsewhere to which they can be repatriated. The annals of the poor remain short and simple, and can be effaced without inquiry as to how they contrive an existence on these fragile coasts. What are the daily visitations of grief and loss in places where people earn less in a year than the price that privilege pays for a night’s stay in a five-star hotel? Western governments, which can disburse so lavishly in the art of war, offer a few million as if it were exceptional largesse. Fortunately the people are wiser; and the spontaneous outpourings of humanity have been as unstoppable as the waves that broke on south Asia’s coasts; donations rapidly exceeded the amount offered by government. Selflessness and sacrifice, people working away at rubble with bare hands, suggest immediate human solidarities.

But these are undermined by the structures of inequality. Promises solemnly made at times of immediate sorrow are overtaken by other urgencies; money donated for the Orissa cyclone, for hurricane Mitch in Central America, the floods in Bangladesh, the Bam earthquake — as for the reconstruction of Afghanistan and Iraq — turns out to be a fraction of what is pledged.

Such events remind us of the sameness of our human destiny, the fragility of our existence. They place in perspective the meaning of security. Life is always at the mercy of nature —whether from such overwhelming events as this, or the natural processes that exempt no one from paying back to earth the life it gave us. Yet we inhabit systems of social and economic injustice that exacerbate the insecurity of the poor, while the west is prepared to lay waste distant towns and cities in the name of a security that, in the end, eludes us all.

Assertions of our common humanity occur only at times of great loss. To retrieve and hold on to it at all other times — that would be something of worth to salvage from these scenes of desolation.

(Jeremy Seabrook courtesy The Guardian)

Jeremy Seabrook is the author of Consuming Cultures: Globalisation and Local Life comment@guardian.co.uk

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