Railway infrastructure at Bhopal should blend with the beauty of the city: Ashwani Lohani

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Bhopal: The Habibganj Railway Station in Bhopal, which has a cacophony of arches crudely adorning its facade, will get a facelift to match the beauty of the capital of the central Indian State of Madhya Pradesh by the end of this year.

After a meeting with Railway officials Chairman Railway Board Ashwani Lohani has announced that the railway stations at Bhopal and Habibgunj would stand totally improved by December 2018. After all the infrastructure at Bhopal, a city that he is emotionally attached with, should blend with the beauty of the city, the capital of the heart of incredible india, Lohani has emphasised.

Reflecting on his recent visits to the Northeast Frontier Railway zone (NFR) and West Central Railway (WCR), Lohani today posted on social media that these were indeed eye openers. While NFR was abuzz with the tremendous leadership skills of the General Manager and the good works done by him, WCR also displayed enthusiasm towards improving infrastructure, Lohani has observed.

Lohani has also announced that the Divisional Hospital at Bhool would be lifted out of its ‘dilapidated state’ by March 2019.

Vandana goes unsung but deserves a Padma Award

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Vandana Shastri, is highly popular with children who have finished their schooling and those who are currently enrolled at Awantika Vidya Bhawan, a nursery and KGI to 12 school being run at Samardha villge near Mandideep at the outskirts of Bhopal, the capital of the Central Indian State of Madhya Pradesh.

Awantika Vidya Bhawan imparts formal education to poor children in villages 30 km from the State capital.

This model school was set up by Vandana and her Italian husband late Franco Tondo about twenty years ago with the sole objective of providing quality education to school children. Franco, who was a much respected resident of Tolmezzo in Italy and owned a popular hotel and restaurant there, had erected the entire sprawling double story school building with his own hands using the prefabricated construction technology. In fact, he was a pioneer in transferring this technology to Bhopal and was also instrumental in the setting up of a prefrabricated construction factory at Mandideep Industrial Area. The entire plant and machinery for this factory was imported from Italy.

Vandana has named the school at samardha after her mother, late Awantika Shastri, who was a trailblazer when it came to social service and helping the needy and the downtrodden. In the later ’50s and ’60s of the last Century, there was hardly anyone in Bhopal, who was not aware of the monumental work Awantika Shastri had been doing for the cause of the deprived, needy and also for the benefit of the refugees from Sindh, now in Pakistan, and for the cause of Hindi. But for her efforts, the Hindi Bhawan in Bhopal, which is a famous landmark, would never have seen the light of day.

Vandana, who is now suffering from Cancer and has undergone multiple surgery and dozens of rounds of chemotherapy, continues to donate every lira or rupee, which she could save, invest or spend on herself, on running the school, a cause so dear and close to her heart. Realizing that the village children were coming to school empty stomach, she made it a point that all of them were served nutritous meals in school and this practice continued for years. She even purchased a new school bus to ensure the students from far off villages could tavel to school in comfort and free of cost. Once when the school kids were being taken to the Van Vihar National Park in Bhopal, a distance of less then 30 kms, many of them said that it was the first time they were heading for the city. Some of them shared their unlimited excitement stating that never before had they gone beyond their village.

Awantika Vidya Bhawan is run by the Awanti Rehabilitation Programmes and Action Networking (ARPAN) Society, an NGO based in Bhopal, MP. The school imparts formal education to 500 students from twelve villages within a 12 mile radius. The school Students are from poor families and are mostly the children of farmers and laborers. Most of these children would otherwise not attend school, as the local government schools are in poor condition and their families cannot afford private schools.

California based NGO, Asha is currently funding the teachers at the school. Previously ASHA has funded teachers, supplies, and petrol for the bus that brings the students to school.

Vandana was earlier associated with Delhi Council for Child Welfare. From Delhi to Italy, life’s journey has gone full circle. Now, if not in Delhi or Bangalore for treatment,  Vandana  dvotes her full time to Awantika Vidya Bhawan and the village children. She deserves a Padma Award..

Grand Republic Day parade in Delhi; ASEAN leaders attend as chief guests

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New Delhi: India celebrated the 69th Republic Day with a grand parade by defence and security force contingents and an impressive display of strategic defence weaponry and colourful tableaux at Rajpath attended by ten ASEAN leaders as chief guests.

President Ram Nath Kovind took the salute. Present on this occasion was Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with the ASEAN leaders.Significantly, leaders of all the 10 countries of the powerful bloc attended the parade.

ASEAN-India Strategic Partnership enters a new era

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New Delhi: The the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit concluded on Friday with the Delhi Declaration resolving to further strengthen and deepen the ASEAN-India Strategic Partnership for mutual benefit, across the whole spectrum of political-security, economic, socio-cultural and development cooperation, through further strengthening of relevant institutional mechanisms and broadening of the network between government institutions, parliamentarians, business circles, scientists, academicians, think-tanks, media, youth and other stakeholders, for the building of a peaceful, harmonious, caring and sharing community in our regions.

Click here for full text of Delhi Declaration

PM’s bilateral meetings on the eve of ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit

On the eve of the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit (AICS) to celebrate 25 years of India-ASEAN partnership, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had separate bilateral meetings with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor of Myanmar, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister of Vietnam and Rodrigo Roa Duterte, President of the Philippines on Wednesday.

Prime Minister welcomed the three leaders to India for participation in the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit and also for accepting the invitation to be Chief Guests at the Republic Day celebrations on 26th January this year.

During the meeting of Prime Minister Modi with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, discussions were held on various issues of mutual interest and ways of further strengthening our bilateral relations, including follow up on key decisions taken during the visit of the Prime Minister Modi to Myanmar in Septmber 2017.

In the meeting with Prime Minister Phuc, the two leaders expressed satisfaction at the growth of bilateral relations between the two countries within the framework of Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, including in the fields of maritime cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, defence, oil and gas, trade and investment. The leaders agreed that The two agreements signed during this visit viz., on cooperation in the fields of Information & Broadcasting and on establishment of tracking and data reception station and data processing facility in Vietnam under the ASEAN-India Space Cooperation would give further boost to India-Vietnam relations. They expressed satisfaction at operationalisation of the Line of Credit of US $ 100 million under which L&T has been awarded contract for manufacture of Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs). They decided that the other Line of Credit of US $ 500 million be operationalised soon.

During the meeting with President Duterte, the two leaders reviewed the progress in bilateral relations and in global and regional situation since their meeting in Manila in November 2017. It was agreed to give further momentum to coperation between the two countries, particularly in the field of infrastructure development. They agreed that under India’s Act East Policy and the Philippines’ Build-Build-Build Programme, there are several areas for cooperation between private sectors of the two countries. The leaders also witnessed exchange of an MOU between Invest India and Board of Investments of the Philippines.

In all the three meetings, the visiting dignitaries underscored the importance of ASEAN-India relations for peace, security and socio-economic development in the Indo-Pacific region, and looked forward to the deliberations in the AICS.