Tag Archives: Mahatma Gandhi

Independence Day eve Message: President of India points to China and its “misadventure of expansion”

Newsroom24x7 Network

Without naming but directly pointing at China, President of India Ram Nath Kovind Friday, 14 August 2020, said when the world community was supposed to be fighting together COVID-19, the greatest challenge before humanity, some in our neighbourhood tried to carry out their misadventure of expansion. Our brave soldiers laid down their lives defending our borders.

Those worthy sons of Bharat Mata (Mother India) lived and died for national pride. The entire nation salutes the martyrs of Galwan Valley. Every Indian feels grateful to their family members. Their bravery in combat has demonstrated that while we believe in peace, we are also capable of giving a befitting response to any attempt of aggression. We are proud of the members of our Armed Forces, paramilitary forces and police personnel who protect the borders, and ensure our internal security.

The was addressing the nation on the eve of the 74th Independence Day. Construction of the temple at Shri Ram Janmabhoomi began ten days ago, in Ayodhya, he said adding it was indeed a moment of pride for all. People of the country maintained restraint and patience for a long time and reposed unflinching trust in the judicial system. The issue of Ram Janmabhoomi was resolved through judicial process. All concerned parties and the people respectfully accepted the verdict of the Supreme Court and displayed before the world, Indian ethos ​​of peace, non-violence, love and harmony.

Mahatma Gandhi became the guiding light of our freedom movement, the President said and went on to underscore that he was as much a saint as a political leader. He was a phenomenon that could have happened only in India. Troubled by social strife, economic problems, and climate change, the world seeks relief in Gandhiji’s teachings. His quest for equality and justice is the mantra for our Republic. I am glad to see the younger generations re-discover Gandhiji.

The celebrations of Independence Day this year will be rather restrained as the whole world confronts a deadly virus that has disrupted all activities and taken a heavy toll. It has altered the world we lived in before the pandemic, the President said.

The president said that the nation is indebted to doctors, nurses and other health workers who have been continuously on the forefront of our fight against this virus. Unfortunately, many of them have lost their lives battling the pandemic. They are our national heroes.

Fruther the President said:

Corona Warriors deserve high praise. They go much beyond their call of duty to save lives and ensure essential services. These doctors, health workers, members of Disaster Management Teams, police personnel, sanitation workers, delivery staff, transportation, railway and aviation personnel, providers of various services, government employees, social service organisations and generous citizens have been scripting inspiring stories of courage and selfless service.

It is very reassuring to note that, the central government, while anticipating the tremendous challenge, responded effectively and well in time. For a country so vast and diverse with high population density, meeting this challenge requires super-human efforts. All state governments took measures in accordance with local circumstances. People also supported whole-heartedly.

We have learnt some tough lessons in the year 2020. The invisible virus has demolished the illusion that human being is the master of nature. I believe, it is still not too late for humanity to correct its course and live in harmony with nature. The pandemic, like climate change, has awakened the global community to our shared destiny.

Amid the Corona crisis, Cyclone Amphan hit us in West Bengal and Odisha. Concerted response of Disaster Management Teams, Central and State agencies and alert citizens helped minimize loss of life.

Offices of the Government of India and of the state governments have been extensively using virtual interface to discharge their functions. The judiciary has been conducting virtual court proceedings to deliver justice. In Rashtrapati Bhavan also, we have used technology to conduct virtual conferences and carry out many activities. IT and communication tools have promoted e-learning and distance education. Work-from-home has become the norm in many sectors. Technology has enabled certain establishments in government and private sectors to work overtime to keep the wheels of the economy running. Thus, we have learnt the lesson that adoption of science and technology, in harmony with nature, will help sustain our survival and growth.Floods also have been disrupting lives of
our people in the North-East and eastern state.

The poor and daily wage-earners are the worst hit by the pandemic. In order to support them through this phase of crisis, virus containment-efforts have been supplemented by welfare interventions. By introducing ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana’, the government has enabled crores of people to earn their livelihood, and mitigate the impact of job-loss, dislocation and disruption caused by the pandemic.

The ‘National Education Policy’ spells a long term vision with far-reaching impact. It will strengthen the culture of ‘Inclusion’, ‘Innovation’ and ‘Institution’ in the sphere of education.

With a view to providing futuristic education to our children and youth, the Central Government has decided to implement the National Education Policy. I am confident that with the implementation of this policy, a new quality education system will be developed and this will transform the future challenges into opportunities, paving the way for a New India.

When India won freedom, many predicted that our experiment with democracy will not last long. They saw our ancient traditions and rich diversity as hurdles in democratization of our polity. But we have always nurtured them as our strengths that make the largest democracy in the world so vibrant. India has to continue playing its leading role for the betterment of humanity.

Pragya Singh Thakur has become target of condemnation over Godse remark, removed from parliamentary panel

Newsroom24x7 Network

My party completely condemns the mindset that treats Nathuram Godse as a patriot – Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Parliament on 28 November 2019

New Delhi: Pragya Singh Thakur, who has become a target of condemnation, after she described Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin, Nathuram Godse, as “patriot” during Lok Sabha proceedings on Wednesday 27 November 2019 was today dropped from Parliament’s Consultative Committee on Defence.

BJP working president Jagat Prakash Nadda has condemned Pragya Thakur’s remarks, and said the BJP didn’t support such statements.

In Lok Sabha, immediately after the House met for business on Thursday morning, there was commotion and the proceedings were disrupted repeatedly as the Opposition members lodged their protest over Pragya Thakur’s Godse remark. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh intervened and said that far from calling Nathuram Godse a patriot, his party completely condemns the mindset that treats Nathuram Godse as a patriot. As far as Mahatma Gandhiji is concerned, he is our ideal. He was always our guide and shall remain our guide in future. His ideology was relevant in the past and is also relevant today. Even in times to come, it will be relevant in totality. Everyone, irrespective of political affiliations, caste or religion, all consider Mahatma Gandhi as their ideal, the Home Minister said.

The opposition members were not ready to relent. At this stage, Adhri Ranjan Chowdhury, Kalanidhi Maran, Shriniwas Dadasaheb Patil, Prof. Saugata Roy, Asaduddin Owaisi and some other Members left the House.

Earlier Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary said “You want to gobble up Indira Gandhi, gobble up Jawaharlal Nehru. Now there is an attempt to gobble up Mahatma Gandhi.The whole world condemns this, entire nation condemns this. The government should give a statement.”

Prof. Saugata Roy also lashed out at Pragya Thakur on her “patriot” remark.

The proceedings were continuously disrupted while the Speaker tried his best to give a ruling in this matter.

When Asaduddin Owaisi intervened and sought permission to speak, the Speaker told him that he would not be allowed to speak as the House was not having a debate. There will be a debate only if something is brought on record, he pointed out and stated categorically that he has already given his ruling and it (Pragya Thakur’s remark) has been removed from record.

Patriot Indian citizens will never forgive Sadhvi Pragya

Lalit Shastri

I was horrified, shattered and dismayed when Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, the Bharatiya Janata Party candidate in the poll fray against senior Congress leader and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh for the Bhopal parliamentary seat, went into the assertive mode and told mediapersons that Nathuram Godse, who had assassinated Mahatma Gandhi by shooting three bullets in his chest when he was holding his morning prayer on 30 january 1948, was a patriot.

While talking to a former bureaucrat on Friday morning, I had expressed my reaction saying that just as I would not forgive Godse, I shall never forgive Sadhvi Pragya for her mindset and views on a coward and depraved person, who had shot the Mahatma in such a cold-blooded manner.

After she was censured and rebuked by her party bosses, Sadhvi Pragya was quick to apologise for her Godse remark. The apology notwithstanding, nation’s ire is going to haunt her the entire life. Even Prime Minister Narenda Modi is raging on this count. He said in a televised interview that even though she had tendered an apology, he would never forgive her.

Sadhvi Pragya, immediately after filing her nomination from Bhopal, had said that Hemant Karkare, the chief of the Mumbai Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS), who was killed in action during the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, had died as a result of her curse.

Sadhvi Pragya, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case (6 persons were killed and over a 100 others were injured when a bomb attached to a motorcycle was blasted in Malegaon town in Maharashtra in September 2008), was granted bail in 2017 by the Bombay High Court on the ground that prima facie no case was made out against her. The contention of the BJP that has fielded her from Bhopal is that Sadhvi Pragya was roped in a false case and tortured by the Maharasthra ATS at the behest of the Congress party when it was in power. This was done only to appease the minority vote bank by masterminding the conspiracy to raise the bogey of “Hindu terror”.

Politics, charges, counter-charges aside, there is a miniscule section of Indians, ingrained for successive generations with sectarian views, that thinks that Godse was a nationalist who was forced to eliminate Mahatma Gandhi as he was chiefly responsible for India’s partition and creation of Pakistan that left in its wake mayhem, mass-slaughter and displacement of millions.

Those with such rabid views have continued to shut their eyes and fail to appreciate the life and role of Mahatma Gandhi, who had led the Freedom Movement from the front and was a symbol of peace, amity, brotherhood and communal unity.

All through his life, Mahatma Gandhi, who led the Freedom Movement from the front, preached “ahimsa” (non-violence) and fought an unceasing battle against the scourge of untouchability and the caste system. He was of the view that the economic status of the vast majority of those living in the countryside could be improved only by strengthening the village economy and his perception was that it was possible to lift the village economy by developing and supporting the growth of villages and small-scale industries. Mahatma Gandhi had his priorities as far as the country’s welfare and progress was concerned. He had sharp differences with Jawaharlal Nehru, who was all out to pursue a policy focused entirely on speedy industrial development.

Gandhi felt that if the country was to go solely for industrial development, majority of the people would end up suffering from poverty, illiteracy and lack of even the basic amenities. He did not want to compromise the interests of the vast majority of successive generations of Indians by taking a path that promised a quantum leap in terms of industrial growth but was also a recipe for the worst as it was destined to open the floodgates that he knew would drown a large part of the value system of the Indian society. He knew the pitfalls and was against people chasing materialistic goals. His big caution was that human greed will become the order of the day and there would be reckless exploitation of natural resources to meet the growing demand for energy and goods – most of it from the ever expanding urban centres.

When the British had announced the Communal Award in 1932 as a tool to divide and rule India, Mahatma Gandhi treated this as an attack on Indian society. Protesting against the decision by the then British Prime Minister Ramsay Macdonald to give separate electorates to Dalits for electing members of provincial assemblies, Ganhiji went on a hunger strike and opposed the provision of a separate electorate. Babasahab Bhimrao Ambedkar, on the contrary, was pressing for separate electorate for Dalits but Mahatma Gandhi was steadfast in his stand that the Hindu society would get divided if this was allowed. In this backdrop, the Poona Pact was signed between Babasahab Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi on 24 September 1932. This agreement provided for separate constituencies but not electorates for the Dalits.

As per the terms of the Poona pact, the system of seat reservation for the Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) was to come to end in 10 years. This provision was incorporated in the Constitution after Independence. But the irony is that the 10 year clause has been ignored by political parties of all hues and colours that treat the Dalits as a vote bank and in the process reservation of seats for SCs and STs in State Assemblies and Parliament continues without end.

During the last 70 years since Independence, we all know that the country has made tremendous progress in the field of science and technology, space research, and the nuclear arena. The country has also become a leading industrial power. But all this has been at a great cost. While the rich have become richer, the poor have continued to languish in utter poverty. Social inequality in India is a huge curse and it is a pity that our planners have failed to prioritise strategies and have ignored the development related needs of the countryside. As a result, there has been a constant influx of people from the villages to the cities in search of employment. In the process, while our cities have grown at a chaotic pace, most villages have remained devoid of even the basic facilities.

Even today, Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy and vision would provide a solution to all that ails the nation and the World combating the scourge of terror -compounded and aggravated by religious radicalisation.

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Mahatma Gandhi and his message: It is more relevant today than ever before

Lalit Shastri

Today the nation celebrates the 148th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Every year on October 2, we remember the Mahatma and recall all that he stood for. Question arises do we also try to assess how far we been able to follow his footsteps.

Mahatma Gandhi was absolutely clear in his concept that India should go back to the self-sufficient and sustainable village economy and not enter the rate-race for industrial progress. He was also fully convinced that the future of the country and the welfare of its people could be guaranteed in the best possible manner only by giving power to the people at the level of the village panchayats. In this regard, he was not in favour of rushing through but was clear in his approach that first the people, without any gender discrimination, should be educated and empowered.

Caste System and Untouchability

All through his life, Mahatma Gandhi preached “ahimsa” (non-violence) and fought an unceasing battle against the scourge of untouchability and the caste system. He was of the view that the economic status of the vast majority of those living in the countryside could be improved only by strengthening the village economy and his perception was that it was possible to lift the village economy by developing and supporting the growth of villages and small-scale industries.

Path of Progress

Mahatma Gandhi with Pandit Nehru

Mahatma Gandhi had his own priorities as far as the country’s welfare and progress was concerned. He had sharp differences with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who was all out to pursue a policy which was focused entirely on speedy industrial development. On the issue of development, Mahatma Gandhi felt that if the country was to go solely for industrial development, majority of the people would end up suffering from poverty, illiteracy and lack of even the basic amenities. The Mahatma did not want to compromise the interests of the vast majority of successive generations of Indians by taking a path that was promising a quantum leap in terms of industrial growth but at the same time was also going to open the floodgates that he knew would drown a large part of the value system of the Indian society. He knew the pitfalls and was against people chasing materialistic goals. His big caution was that human greed will become the order of the day and there would be reckless exploitation of natural resources to meet the growing demand for energy and goods – most of it from the ever expanding urban centres.

Lopsided Development

Before becoming the leader of the masses, Mahatma Gandhi had toured the whole country and acquainted himself with the problems and challenges of the rural population. It was his desire that the country should follow a policy of grass-root all-round economic growth, which he strongly felt was necessary for the larger good of the people. Contrary to the cherished dream of the Mahatma, our leaders, led by Pandit Nehru, who had risen from the Freedom Movement, selected a path that largely catered to the interests of the urban population. During the last 70 years since Independence, we all know that the country has made tremendous progress in the field of science and technology, space research, and the nuclear arena. The country has also become a leading industrial power. But all this has been at a great cost. While the rich have become richer, the poor have continued to languish in utter poverty. Social inequality in India is a huge curse and it is a pity that our planners have failed to prioritise strategies and ignored the development needs of the countryside. As a result, there has been a constant influx of people from the villages to the cities in search of employment. In the process, while our cities have grown at a chaotic pace, the villages have remained devoid of even the basic facilities – the gravity of the issue gets reflected by the fact that even several decades after the Government of India launched the Sanitation Mission, people defecating in the open is one of the biggest problems. The Narendra  Modi Government is now combating it on war footing. Notwithstanding the government’s commitment in this regard, the challenge is huge and the desired results continue to evade us as the poor, who are struggling to meet both ends – more so after the country’s economy went in for a nosedive in the post demonetisation period – have their own priorities.

The State of primary health and school education facilities, availability of water (as per WHO standards),  roads, child care, nutrition, maternal and child mortality, access to government services, rampant corruption, law and order and general policing in the rural areas are issues that have failed to get due attention. Since our vast countryside is afflicted with chronic infrastructure deficit, the economic condition and living standards of the people at large remains a matter of serious concern.

With the advantage of hindsight, we are now in a position to analyse where we went wrong and how we have failed to live up to the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi. Presently, there exist widespread social tensions, economic disparity, poverty and social inequalities due to political devaluation and lopsided development. The social tensions, caused by economic disparities and also since we have outstretched the reservation regime based on caste lines, could have been avoided by putting into practice much of Gandhian principles and ideologies.

The Reservation System

The British had announced the Communal Award in 1932 as a tool to divide and rule India. Mahatma Gandhi treated this as an attack on Indian society. Protesting against the decision by the then British Prime Minister Ramsay Macdonald to give separate electorates to Dalits for electing members of provincial assemblies, Gandhiji went on a hunger strike and opposed the provision of a separate electorate. Babasahab Bhimrao Ambedkar, on the contrary, was pressing for separate electorate for Dalits but Mahatma Gandhi was steadfast in his stand that the Hindu society would get divided if this was allowed. In this backdrop, the Poona Pact was signed between Babasahab Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi on 24 September 1932. This agreement provided for separate constituencies but not electorates for the Dalits.

As per the terms of the Poona pact, the system of seat reservation for the Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) was to come to end in 10 years. This provision was incorporated in the Constitution after Independence. But the irony is that the 10 year clause has been ignored by political parties of all hues and colours that treat the Dalits as a vote bank and in the process reservation of seats for SCs and STs in State Assemblies and Parliament continues without end.

Mahatma Gandhi also wanted to reform the society and end the caste system by following Guru Nanak Dev who had introduced the great tradition of eating together at the “langar”. The sufi saints also promoted the same spirit. However the caste system, has got deeply entrenched due to the quota system for SCs/STs and OBCs for filling government jobs and seats in institutes of higher education on caste basis. Matters got worst confounded as our leaders went a step further and also institutionlised the system of reservation for providing reservation in promotion to the SCs/STs. As a consequence of this, while the deserving among the youth who belong to the general category, are being sacrificed on the altar of the quota system, the suppression of merit and seniority of those belonging to the general, other backward classes and minority categories is taking a heavy toll in terms of administrative efficiency and this is against the letter and spirit of the Constitution.

We all know that the reservation system in its present form is greatly flawed. The quota for SCs, STs and OBCs is fixed on the basis of the population of the respective categories – up to a maximum limit of 50 per cent as defined by the Supreme Court of India. The provision of creamy layer applies to the OBCs but not the SCs and STs. The creamy layer ceiling has recently been raised from Rs. 600, 000 to Rs. 800,000 per annum. Hence the reservation guaranteed to the OBCs does not benefit the economically deprived sections within the OBC category as they have to compete with the more affluent among them. Similarly, the vast majority of the Dalits also get nothing out of the reservation regime as the poor, illiterate and economically weak among them are no match in comparison with the other Dalits who are already enjoying the fruits of reservation and are from the creamy layer.

The Challenges

It is a tragedy that in spite of all progress we see around us, the fact remains that we have not been able to build a proper economic infrastructure to create productive jobs for the teeming millions of our youth that are either getting wasted or getting sucked into the unorganised sector that offers much less than the minimum economic wages.

We are facing the problem of cross-border terrorism and infiltration in Kashmir in a big way. Organised violence is also posing serious threat to the unity and integrity of the country. The Maoists, terrorists, secessionist and communal forces have kept raising their ugly head in different parts of the country. What also has been adding fuel to fire is that some political parties even have been using the communal card to stay in power.

Despite all that’s bleak, there is also room for optimism. The country has successfully gone through the process of devolving power to the people at the grass-root level by appropriately amending the Constitution. The Panchayati Raj system is now deeply entrenched and working. It is certainly gratifying that our leaders and planners took into perspective the vision of the Father of the Nation and successive Five Year Plans started giving maximum priority to the villages and small-scale industries and the welfare of the people.

Today, when Kashmir remains disturbed and a section of the misguided Kashmiri Youth has to be brought back into the national mainstream, when the Maoists are holding vast areas across several States to ransom and blasting targets at will, when corruption has spread its tentacles across all levels of government functioning, and crime syndicates are threatening the normal life of the people, we find that the message of peace, non-violence and brotherhood, inclusiveness and all-round progress, probity and purity of means, and sustainable development that Mahatma Gandhi had preached all his life is more relevant for the people of India and the entire world than ever before.

From Gandhi to Guptas: Satyagrah to “State Capture” in South Africa

Lalit Shastri

Sahara Estate of Guptas, 7 Saxonwold drive. Johannesburg, South Africa

The Gupta family, which is among the richest in South Africa,  have tried every trick in the book. The President of South Africa has minimal education and this crowd of clever men have educated him on how to rip off every single large government project that they can. After many attempts to charge them (the Democratic Alliance or DA, which is in the opposition in Parliament, has leveled charges) it looks like they are in the noose for claiming a huge tax deduction for a wedding held in 2013. The charge against them is that the money used to pay for the wedding was supposed to go to a State funded project.

The fabulously wealthy Gupta family, formerly from Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh, India, much like the infamous Al Capone, might finally get their comeuppance in South Africa.

The controversial family of the Guptas, which is more infamous than famous for its close ties with the President of South Africa Jacob Zuma and his family, is now facing the heat as the powerful Gupta brothers – Atul Gupta, Ajay Gupta, and Rajesh “Tony” Gupta – earlier this month were slapped with the charge by Democratic Alliance Shadow Minister of Finance, David Maynier that along with Mosebenzi Zwane – the then MEC of Agriculture and Rural Development– who hails from Vrede, these brothers should be tried for racketeering, money laundering, assisting another to benefit from the proceeds of unlawful activities, and acquiring, possessing or using the proceeds of unlawful activities in terms of the Prevention of Organized Crime Act (No. 121 of 1998); and submitting false, or untrue, tax returns in terms of the Tax Administration Act (No. 28 of 2011).

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Speaking outside the Estina dairy Farm at Vrede in Free State, DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane said on July 12 that those present on the spot were the most direct victims of the corruption and theft of South Africa’s resources by a small political elite – led by the Guptas and Jacob Zuma.

The common people were suffering because of state capture by Zuma’s ANC and the Gupta dynasty, Maimane said adding the Vrede dairy project was put into motion in early 2013 – just months after Zwane and officials from the Free State Department of Agriculture enjoyed a Gupta-funded trip to India in October 2012.

Thereafter, the Gupta-controlled company Estina bagged the tender for the Vrede Project, the DA Leader said while pointing out that, Estina received an upfront amount of R183 950 000 for infrastructure development of the farm without a single cent of their own investment.

Democratic Alliance has announced that they will closely monitor the process regarding the charges, and ensure that those who stole money and broke the law are put behind bars. They will also be exploring criminal charges against the Guptas in the UAE for money laundering.

There are also reports of email correspondence, being talked about a lot these days on twitter as #GuptaLeaks. Those in knowledgeable circles are now talking of Guptas’ Linkway Trading company, which has been accused of diverting funds meant for the Vrede Dairy project to Dubai through the provincial government of Vrede. A good part of this money , it has been reported, got routed back to fund a mega wedding in the Gupta family and was shown as business expenditure to gain massive tax deduction.

Till now the Guptas appeared to be invincible. Now finally, like Al Capone, it seems that they might have made a big mistake in their taxes and the noose appears to be tightening on them.

The Gupta family has been involved with South African President Jacob Zuma for years and since arriving in South Africa in 1993, Atul Gupta personally has amassed a fortune making him the 7th richest man in South Africa.

From 1860 for the next 50 years more than 1,50,000 Indians from India arrived in South Africa as indentured labourers. Their descendants largely live in the Greater Durban area of the KwaZulu – Natal Province. They are law abiding, intelligent, hard working, good businessmen and women and an industrious people.

When contacted by newsroom24x7, a South African native reflected on the two extremes and said: “Some of the leaders in their communities have been leaders in the struggle against apartheid and a voice of reason in the post apartheid South Africa. One of the these leaders who came to South Africa was Mahatma Gandhi, and during his stay in South Africa he developed his passive resistance known as Satyagraha. He was a great civil rights activist for his people. How fortunate South Africa was to have had a man of this calibre. And then we have the other type of export from India. Born in Uttar Pradesh, the Gupta brothers, Ajay, Atul, Rajesh “Tony” Gupta as well as Atul Gupta’s nephew Varun Gupta, who arrived in post-Apartheid South Africa in 1993 and ingratiated themselves with President Zuma and in doing so, have achieved to a large degree State Capture.”

“ In transition economies, corruption has taken on a new image—that of so-called oligarchs manipulating policy formation and even shaping the emerging rules of the game to their own, very substantial advantage. We refer to this behavior as state capture.” screams an IMF report [Finance & Development, A quarterly magazine of the IMF, September 2001, Volume 38, Number 3].

The IMF report goes on to underscore the malaise by defining state capture as the efforts of firms to shape the laws, policies, and regulations of the state to their own advantage by providing illicit private gains to public officials. We develop a method to measure this form of grand corruption based on the findings and analysis of a survey of nearly 4,000 firms in 22 transition countries.

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Thuli Madonsela, the former Senior Public Protector, an independent anti-corruption watchdog, in South Africa finalised a State Capture report on the family and Government and found that through their influence on the Government there was evidence of possible corruption at the highest level of South Africa’s government, involving the Guptas which needed more examination. A number of banks have refused to deal with them, the trade unions feel that their behaviour is not right but no one is daring to criticise the President and his Gupta friends.

The people of South Africa are fed up with them. Most believe that many Government projects have been hijacked and instead of uplifting the masses, wealth has been looted into the pockets of the Guptas.

The Guptas are controversial for their close relationship with South African president Jacob Zuma. The Gupta family owns a business empire spanning computer equipment, media and mining.

The Gupta’s came under a volley of attack after a chartered jet carrying over 200 wedding guests landed at Waterkloof Air Force Base in 2013. This blew up lot of political dust and there was an outcry over the Guptas connections with the South African President.

In early 2011, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) had raised concerns about the increasing number of big government deals being made “in a suspicious manner” and singled out the Guptas as targets for an investigation.

Protesters had also started building pressure around this time and demanding the removal of President Jacob Zuma after the office of the public protector had published a report titled “State of Capture”. This report by the former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela was focused on the relationship between the South African President and the Gupta family and the increasing extra-constitutional authority it was wielding when it came to finalising ministerial appointments and important government contracts.

After the lid was off over the relationship between the South African President Jacob Zuma and the Guptas and how these ties were helping in cornering huge government contracts, it was reported by Reuters in March 2016, that the South African lender Barclays Africa had called off a meeting at the ministerial level to smoothen the differences between the Oakbay Investments and the bank. Coinciding with this many companies and a few leading banks also closed their doors to Oakbay Investments.

In 2016 Atul Gupta became the 7th wealthiest person in South Africa with an estimated net worth of R10.7 billion (US$773.47 million), based on JSE-listed holdings.

 

The family migrated from the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh to South Africa in 1993, shortly before the country’s first democratic elections, to establish Sahara Computers. The family is based at the Sahara Estate in Saxonworld, Johannesburg, a compound comprising at least four mansions and Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

This month the Guptas are also in news, as they are now embroiled in yet another controversy. This time it is linked to the hiring of the top-notch public relations firm Bell Pottinger, headquartered in London, by Oakbay Capital, the company owned by the Gupta brothers. The London company was taken on board to improve the Gupta family image, and to take pressure off President Zuma and his son after the former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela had released her report on how the Gupta family were possibly involved in corruption in the Government leading to the conclusion that the state had been captured by this family.

What blew the lid off in this entire exercise was the flooding of social media in South Africa with fake posts and tweets talking of “white monopoly capital” and lack of wealth distribution in South Africa. This racist ploy was blasted by an independent probe. It also forced Bell Pottinger to tender an apology and fire a partner along with a couple of employees.

As the series of exposés continue to run, the wealthy immigrant Indian family are seeing their last name turned into the colloquialism for corruption.

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Killing people in the name of cow worship is not acceptable: Narendra Modi

Newsroom24x7 Staff

Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered flower petals at Mahatma Gandhi bust, at the Sabarmati Ashram, in Ahmedabad, Gujarat on June 29, 2017.

Ahmedabad: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today issued a stern warning against cow vigilantism and said that killing people in the name of cow worship (Gau Bhakti) is not acceptable.

This is not something that Mahatma Gandhi would approve of, he said. As a society, there is no place for violence; no person in this nation has the right to take the law in his or her own hands, he added.

Modi was speaking at a special function organised to mark the centenary year celebrations of Sabarmati Ashram in Gujarat.

Making a strong statement on cow vigilantism, the Prime Minister said, “We are a land of non violence. We are the land of Mahatma Gandhi. No one spoke about protecting cows more than Mahatma Gandhi and Acharya Vinoba Bhave.”

The Prime Minister urged people to work together and create the India of Mahatma Gandhi’s dreams, which our freedom fighters would be proud of. He said Mahatma Gandhi’s thoughts have the power to mitigate the challenges the world is facing today.

He said that it is essential, as a society, to stay connected to our history. Recalling the contributions of Shrimad Rajchandraji on his 150th birth anniversary, Prime Minister Modi called for further academic research on his life and thoughts.

Speaking about cleanliness, Shri Modi said it must become a habit. He said this would be a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary in 2019.

He urged people from all over the world to visit the Sabarmati Ashram.

Look at Indian diaspora not merely as numbers but also as our strength: Narendra Modi

Newsroom24x7 Staff

For years the term “brain drain” has been in vogue. But if we look at the diaspora as our strength we can convert this into “brain gain. -Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated Pravasi Bhartiya Kendra in New Delhi today. Union Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and the Ministers of State for External Affairs, General (Retd.) V.K. Singh and M.J. Akbar are also seen.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated Pravasi Bhartiya Kendra in New Delhi today. Union Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and the Ministers of State for External Affairs, General (Retd.) V.K. Singh and M.J. Akbar are also seen.

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today inaugurated the Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra with the message that the nation should look at Indian diaspora not merely as numbers but as our strength.

The PM was speaking at a special function here to mark the opening of the Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra. He said that the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri was an apt occasion for such an event. He said Mahatma Gandhi had left India, but the call of the nation had brought him back.

Modi said that for years the term “brain drain” has been in vogue. But if we look at the diaspora as our strength we can convert this into “brain gain.”

The Prime Minister said that at a time when the world is keen to engage with India, the “fear of the unknown” can be the biggest obstacle but the Indian diaspora can help us overcome this.

Emphasizing the importance of connecting with the diaspora, Modi recalled how former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had initiated the concept of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, which has been continued by successive governments.

The Prime Minister said that India, and especially the Ministry of External Affairs, has done significant humanitarian work in the last two years. He noted how not just Indians, but citizens of many other countries have been rescued from conflict and disaster zones.

The Prime Minister said that India has never attacked another nation and went on to recall the sacrifices made by Indian soldiers while protecting foreign lands in the two world wars, and added that the world must recognize this sacrifice.

The Prime Minister visited the exhibition on “Gandhi – Ek Pravasi” and launched a booklet on Yoga Protocol for Diabetes control. He also distributed prizes to winners of the ‘Know India’ Quiz.

India attained freedom by the sacrifices of countless patriots and freedom fighters: Shivraj Singh Chouhan

Newsroom24x7 Staff


Addressing the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort in Delhi on Independence Day (15 August, 2016) the Prime Minister had said that India would not have attained freedom without the sacrifices of the freedom fighters. He had particularly recalled the contribution of Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel and Jawaharhal Nehru.


Shivraj Singh Chouhan (second from right) with Cabinet colleagues at the Yad karo Qurbani event in Bhopal
Shivraj Singh Chouhan (second from right) with Cabinet colleagues at the Yad karo Qurbani event in Bhopal

Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan today said that India achieved Independence by the sacrifices of countless patriots and freedom fighters.

The Chief Minister was addressing the closing ceremony of “Yaad Karo Qurbani” (A countrywide, fortnight-long celebration to mark 70 years of India’s Independence). The purpose of holding this event is to remember and pay tributes to those who sacrificed their all for the cause of Independence, Chouhan said.

The Chief Minister stated that it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision to remember and pay tributes to the freedom fighters who sacrificed everything and even their life for the cause of freedom. Hence the Government of India came up with the plan to organise this event across the country. He said that all should live with full commitment and fulfill their responsibilities.

Significantly, addressing the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort in Delhi on Independence Day (15 August, 2016) the Prime Minister had said that India would not have attained freedom without the sacrifices of the freedom fighters. He had particularly recalled the contribution of Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel and Jawaharhal Nehru.

Today’s event held in the sprawling garden in across the imposing Mantralaya building in the State capital was attended by members of the State Cabinet, bureaucrats and government employees.

Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in London celebrates the universal power of his message: David Cameron

Newsroom24x7 Desk

mahatma gandhi
British Prime Minister unveiled Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in London on March 14, 2015 (Photo: Crown copyright; Photographer: Arron Hoare )

London: Unveiling a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Parliament Square in London in the company of over historical figures such as Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln this past weekend British Prime Minister David Cameron said that in putting Gandhi in this famous square we are giving him an eternal home in our country.

Cameron said that Mahatma Gandhi was the man who turned the politically unimaginable into the politically inevitable, whose work in South Africa paved the way for Mandela and whose doctrine of Satyagraha became the inspiration for the civil rights movement across the world. That inspirational man worked out who he was and what he stood for right here in Britain. It was in London as a young man that Gandhi first learnt to petition, to draft letters and make speeches. It was here – where he was treated equally by his colleagues at Inner Temple – that the foundations were laid for his battles with segregation and discrimination. And even years later when he was striving for Indian independence his respect for the people of this country shone through. If Gandhi could have lived anywhere in the world outside India, he said it would have been London. We should be proud of that. And we are proud of him.

Cameron went on to remark: “The image of Gandhi we see today is based on a picture of him on the steps of Downing Street in 1931. On that same visit he also went to meet King George V. Arriving bare chested in his dhoti and marching ahead with his stick Gandhi was asked whether he felt under-dressed. He replied: “The King is dressed for both of us.”

This statue, Cameron observed, celebrates the incredibly special friendship between the world’s oldest democracy and its largest. I think of the one and a half million Indians who do so much to make Britain the country it is today. I think of the growing trade between our countries. But I also think of the way we have both pursued Gandhi’s vision of different faiths living together in harmony. We are proud to be multi-racial, multi-ethnic democracies. And we will always stand together against those who would seek to destroy the societies we have built. Gandhi said: “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” Britain and India stand together for humanity.

Reflecting further, Cameron said, this statue celebrates the universal power of Gandhi’s message. Many of his teachings remain as potent today as when he first said them: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” There are so many timeless, profound and inspiring words of wisdom. 85 years ago this week Gandhi led his followers on the 241 mile Salt March to Dandi. As they sang the traditional song that we have heard this morning they asked that everyone should be blessed with real wisdom. sab ko sanmati de bhagavān. I hope that as Gandhi takes up residence in this square at the heart of our politics and democracy that we can all be blessed with the wisdom of Gandhi today, tomorrow and for generations to come.

On behalf of entire Britain, Cameron thanked Lord and Lady Desai and Jo Johnson, in his policy unit who played a key role, and others who have supported the Gandhi Statue Memorial Trust in making the sculpture possible. He had a special word of praise for British sculptor, Philip Jackson, who has created the stunning 9 foot bronze statue. It is a magnificent tribute to one of the most towering figures in the history of world politics, Cameron said,

Cameron was joined by Mahatma Gandhi’s Grandson, Gopal Gandhi, the famous Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan and Arun Jaitley, the Indian Finance Minister. at No 10 downing Street before walking to Parliament Square for the ceremony, which was also attended by hundreds of members of the public.

View images from the Mahatma Gandhi statue unveiling ceremony

PM pays homage to Mahatma Gandhi

Newsroom24x7 Desk

Mahatma GandhiNew Delhi, Jan. 30: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi and all Martyrs who laid their lives for the Nation, On Martyrs` Day.

Paying tributes to Mahatma Gandhi, Mr. Modi said: “पूज्य बापू को उनकी पुण्यतिथि पर शत् शत् नमन।

On Martyrs` Day I pay homage to Martyrs for their supreme sacrifice for the cause of the Nation. Their bravery and courage will always inspire”, the Prime Minister said.