Praise for “My Little Boat”

Book review by Arefa Tehsin

My Little Boat -Mariam Karim

Touched by the multilayered philosophical writing, Arefa Tehsin writes a heartfelt #review of the #novel “My Little Boat” by Mariam Karim.

I read My Little Boat. How amazing it was to connect with the author through this story…

What a beautiful novel! Part stream of consciousness, woven with captivating fables, laced with French and lovely poems like “Be like the tree…” and stirring prose. My Little Boat is unsettlingly reminiscent of the current times. I got goosebumps reading some of the passages about India in the Babri Masjid days, the fears and angst then and how we have outdone our own worst nightmare and living it today. Now what next?

I loved the bold treatment of faith in the book,  especially that short para on what Nasreen should wear.

The novel is philosophical, reflective, ruminative and multi-layered.

“the modern world has no #tales, there are no silences for them to breed in.”

When Javed wrote to Jabbo towards the end trying to make sense of the madness, it reminds of several such musings about humankind and its ways. It summarizes it beautifully.

Recommended for reading

The #author is a popular #novelist, playwright and children’s writer. A teacher of French language and literature, she has traveled widely and brings the flavour of her travels both within the country and outside, into her writing. Her books and plays have been nominated for International and Indian awards.

My Little Boat

Arifa Tehsin is a well known writer. She was shortlisted for The Hindu Young World-Goodbooks Best Author Award 2017 for her book “Wild in the Backyard”. Her picture book “The Elephant Bird” was read at over 3000 locations across India from the slums to the Presidential Library on International Literacy Day 2016.

BRICS leaders view corruption as global challenge; call for comprehensive approach to counter terrorism and reform of WTO to address challenges in international trade


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Prime Minister Narendra Modi makes an intervention during Informal BRICS Leaders Meeting on the sidelines of G20 Summit 2019 in Osaka, Japan
Prime Minister Narendra Modi makes an intervention during Informal BRICS Leaders Meeting on the sidelines of G20 Summit 2019 in Osaka, Japan

OSAKA, Japan: The Heads of State and Government of the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Russian Federation, the Republic of India, the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa, met on Friday 28 June 2019 on the margins of the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan.

The BRICS leaders have:

  • reaffirmed their commitment to a strong, quota-based and adequately resourced International Monetary Fund (IMF) at the center of the Global Financial Safety Net.
  • strongly condemned terrorist attacks, including against BRICS countries, in all forms and manifestations, wherever and by whom so ever committed. They have urged concerted efforts and a comprehensive approach to counter terrorism under the UN auspices on a firm international legal basis.
  • acknowledged that corruption, including illicit money and financial flows, and ill-gotten wealth stashed in foreign jurisdictions, is a global challenge which may impact negatively on economic growth and sustainable development.

Congratulating the G20 Japanese Presidency, the BRICS leaders have noted the priorities chosen by Japan for its presidency, including trade, science, technology and innovation, infrastructure,climate change, universal health coverage, aging populations and sustainable development.

The Brics leaders have noted that the world economic growth appears to be stabilising and is generally projected to pick up moderately later this year and into 2020. However, the strengthening of growth remains highly uncertain, with rising trade and geopolitical tensions,commodity price volatility, inequality and insufficient inclusive growth,and tighter financial conditions adding to the risk. Global imbalances remain large and persistent and require thorough monitoring and timely policy responses.

The leaders have further stressed the importance of a favourable global economic environment for sustained growth of international trade. In this scenario, they noted with satisfaction that the BRICS countries have been the main drivers of global growth over the last decade, and currently represent close to a third of global output. Projections indicate that the BRICS will continue to account for more than half of global economic growth through 2030. Continued implementation of structural reforms will enhance the growth potential of the BRICS nations. Balanced trade expansion among BRICS members will further contribute to strengthening international trade flows.

In helping to address challenges and to fully benefit from opportunities, the BRICS leaders have acknowledged the importance of, among others: open markets; stronger economic resilience; financial stability; well-designed and coordinated macroeconomic policies, as appropriate; structural reforms; adequate investment in human capital; reduction in poverty levels and inequality; effective competition to promote investment and innovation; open, fair, just and non-discriminatory business environments;cooperation in public-private partnerships (PPP); and infrastructure financing and development. International and domestic measures in these areas and others will contribute to sustainable and inclusive economic growth. They have called for greater participation of developing countries in the global value chains and recognised the importance of the interface between trade and the digital economy. The BRICS leaders have also affirmed the role of data for development while assertingtheir commitment to transparent, non-discriminatory, open, free and inclusive international trade.

Underscoring that protectionism and unilateralism run counter to the spirit and rules of the WTO, the leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to multilateralism and international law, and our full support to the rules-based multilateral trading system with the WTO at its center. They have reiterated that they will work constructively with all WTO Members on the necessary reform of the Organization, with a view to better addressing current and future challenges in international trade, thus enhancing its relevance and effectiveness. The reform must, inter alia, preserve the centrality,core values and fundamental principles of the WTO,and consider the interests of all members, including developing countries and LDCs. It is imperative that the WTO negotiation agenda be balanced and be discussed in an open, transparent and inclusive manner.

In their joint statement, the BRICS leades have pointed out that the WTO dispute settlement mechanism is an indispensable pillar of the multilateral trading system and the Appellate Body is essential for the proper and effective functioning of the Organisation. We remain committed to the preservation of a functioning two-stage binding adjudication system for disputes in the WTO. Recalling the urgency of solving the impasse in the appointment of members of the WTO Appellate Body, we urge that the Appellate Body selection process be initiated immediately.

The leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to a strong, quota-based and adequately resourced International Monetary Fund (IMF) at the center of the Global Financial Safety Net. they have reiterated their commitment to work with the Executive Board towards the implementation of the IMF quota and governance reform on the basis of the principles agreed in 2010. We remain committed to concluding the 15th General Review of Quotas no later than the 2019 Annual Meetings. They have also noted with appreciation the role of the New Development Bank (NDB) in infrastructure financing and sustainable development and stressed the need for enhanced and continued efforts to build a strong, balanced and high-quality portfolio of projects. They have particularly emphasised the importance of a focused effort to address the backlog in critical infrastructure investments in member countries. The NDB will be strengthened by the establishment of regional offices. They have welcomed the NDB’s commitment to mobilise resources in the domestic currencies of all its members, starting in China, as well as the upcoming bond programmes in South Africa and Russia.

The leaders have stated that they look forward to the early implementation of the NDB Project Preparation Fund and expect it to become an efficient instrument for the preparation of projects, providing technical assistance to the NDB member countries.

They have also stressed the continued importance of the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) as a mechanism to forestall short-term balance of payment pressures in member countries. Following the successful test run conducted in 2018, we commit to further more complextest runs to ensure its operational readiness to respond to a call on resources, if needed. The BRICS leaders have welcomed the functioning of the CRA System of Exchange in Macroeconomic Information (SEMI) and also the continued efforts to establish the BRICS Local Currency Bond Fund and look forward to starting its operation. They have also extended support to cooperation between the CRA and the IMF.

The BRICS leaders have strongly condemned terrorist attacks, including against BRICS countries, in all forms and manifestations, wherever and by whom so ever committed. They have urged concerted efforts and a comprehensive approach to counter terrorism under the UN auspices on a firm international legal basis. We reiterate that it is the responsibility of all states to prevent financing of terrorist networks and of terrorist actions from their territories. They have reiterated commitment to fight the exploitation of internet for terrorist purposes. While recognising that states have the leading role to ensure safety and security in the use of ICTs, the technology companies have been asked to cooperate with governments, in accordance with applicable law, to eliminate the ability of terrorists to use digital platforms to encourage, recruit, facilitate or commit terrorist acts.

The leaders of BRICS nations have also asserted their firm commitment to fighting corruption and ensuring steps to foster integrity in the public and private sectors. They have said that they will strive to promote international anti-corruption cooperation and strengthening of legal frameworks, as appropriate, to more effectively address cases of corruption especially with regard to assets recovery. They have reiterated that they will seek to enhance mutual efforts in the prosecution of persons sought for corruption.

The leaders have also recognised the role of whistle-blowers in preventing and combating corruption in both the public and private sectors and the need to improve measures to protect whistle-blowers. They have acknowledged that corruption, including illicit money and financial flows, and ill-gotten wealth stashed in foreign jurisdictions, is a global challenge which may impact negatively on economic growth and sustainable development. We will strive to coordinate our approach and encourage a stronger global commitment in this regard. We also recognise the need to strengthen cooperation, subject to domestic legal systems, in anti-corruption law enforcement, extradition of fugitives, economic and corruption offenders, and in recovering stolen assets. We reaffirm our commitment to support international cooperation in combating illicit financial flows, including cooperation within the Financial Actions Task Force (FATF), the World Customs Organisation and other relevant multilateral mechanisms.

The leaders have recognised the crucial role of cooperation in transitioning towards cleaner, more flexible energy efficient systems that combine growth with decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, while ensuring energy security, access to energy, sustainability and affordability. The importance of varied sources of energy and technological advances to achieve a low emission future, such as solar energy, sustainable bio-energy and natural gas in transportation has also been recognised. In this regard, there will be efforts by BRICS countries in promoting international cooperation on renewable energy resources and strengthening the BRICS Energy Research Cooperation Platform, aiming at facilitating joint studies on sustainable energy and sharing advanced energy technologies.

The leaders have also reiterated their commitment to the full implementation of the Paris Agreement, adopted under the principles of the UNFCCC, including the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances. They have urged developed countries to provide financial, technological and capacity-building support to developing countries to enhance their capability in mitigation and adaptation. They have also said that they look forward to the UN Climate Action Summit to be held in September this year to produce positive outcomes.

Recalling the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the BRICS leaders have reaffirmed strong commitment to sustainable development and stressed the importance of fully honoring official development assistance commitments and the provision of development resources, in accordance with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.

BRICS nations continue to support the G20 Action Plan on the 2030 Agenda, the G20 Initiative on Supporting Industrialisation in Africa and Least Developed Countries and the G20 Africa Partnership, including the Compact with Africa.

Commending Brazil for identifying Economic Growth for an Innovative Future as the theme of the 2019 Chairship, the BRICS nations have recognised that innovation is a key driving force behind development.

The BRICS leaders have reaffirmed commitment to maximise the benefits of digitalisation and emerging technologies, including for the population of rural and remote areas. They have said that joint efforts to share good practices on internet-driven poverty alleviation and digital transformation of the industrial sector would be encouraged and have also stressed the importance of continuing BRICS scientific, technical, innovation and entrepreneurship cooperation, including the BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution (PartNIR), iBRICS Network, the BRICS Institute of Future Networks, and Young Scientists Forum.

The leaders have expressed their support to the Brazilian BRICS Chairship in 2019 and look forward to a successful 11th BRICS Summit in Brasilia, in November.

Health Ministry order: Biscuits are out; walnut, almond and dates are in

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New Delhi: Now there is a ban on serving biscuits and instead what’s going to be offered during official meetings of the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, would be “healthy snacks” i.e. plates full of walnut, almond, roasted gram, and dates as ordered by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

An order issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare directs:

“Serving of biscuits through the Departmental Canteen of the Department of Health & Family Welfare is to be dispensed with.”

The order, citing the reason for dumping biscuits, says:

Hon’ble HFM (Health and Family Welfare Minister) has desired that healthy snacks only are to be served in official meetings and biscuits are to be avoided. Henceforth, therefore, biscuits shall not be dispensed through the Departmental Canteen and healthy snacks only like Lahiya channa, Khajoor, Bhuna Channa, Badam & Akhrot will be served in official meetings in the Department. Further, the order issued earlier by the Administration Division for not using plastic water bottles shall also be implemented in letter and spirit.”



Cricket bat should not become the symbol of defeat of democracy: Kamal Nath

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Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath today said in a message to the young people’s respresentatives: “let your bat be a symbol of India’s victory (in sports) and not the symbol of defeat of democracy on the streets.

The chief Minister gave this message without directly referring to Akash Vijayvargiya, the first time BJP MLA from Indore and son of National BJP General secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya. Akash is now in judicial custody for assualting a municipal officer with a bat and obstructed the official machinery to perform its functions in broad daylight.

Kamal Nath said India has two great qualities. Firstly, it is the world’s largest democracy and secondly, it is world’s youngest nation. It is but natural that the country has greater expectations from the elected young representatives. Why not? When it comes to democracy, we have a glorious heritage.

The Chief Minister has said that the full-grown banyan tree of Indian democracy that we are witnessing today has deep roots. The seeds of sacrifice were sown deeper and today it stands as a source of inspiration for the entire world.

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru used to say that only cultured youth will build the country’s future. Today, elected young representatives should introspect and think about the path they wish the country to follow in future. One path leads to fulfillment of expectations of the glorious heritage of our democracy and another one leads to fanaticism. Friends, fanatic approach can bring cheap popularity but it cannot enrich our democracy, nath has emphasised.

Young people’s representatives, according to the Chief Minister, are responsible for making the law and not violating it. You are expected to assert yourself with logic without exceeding the dignified limits.

Praising the glory of Indian cricket, nath said, today the whole world is witnessing our shining bat. Our cricket team is on the victory path and we all are confident of winning the World Cup. But the victory cannot be achieved without hard work. Players have to work hard and observe discipline and show patience. Patience, coupled with tolerance, brings maturity. And maturity lays the foundation of victory. Be it sports or democracy, the principles are the same.

I am not saying this in a parochial manner. This is my humble request to young colleagues across the politial spectrum. As Chief Minister, it is my duty to maintain a dialogue, the CM has underscored.