In his monthly radio broadcast ‘Mann Ki Baat’, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday hailed the country as the ‘“treasure house” of many languages and the rich diversity it has as its hallmark. Referring to India’s humongous diversity of languages, dressing, cuisine and culture, Modi said, “Our country is a rich treasure house of languages, scripts and dialects. Varied attire, cuisine and culture in different regions are our hallmark. As a nation, this diversity strengthens us and keeps us united.”
As usual, the prime minister shared some inspiring stories on his ‘Mann Ki Baat’. Alluding to the effort Kalpana, originally from Joshimath in Uttarakhand, put in to learn Kannada, he lauded her for scoring 92 marks in high school. Kalpana, he informed his listeners, had no idea what Kannada was all about, but learned the language in three months to achieve the feat. Lauding Kalpana for her achievement, Modi said, “Where there is a will, there is a way.”
Acknowledging the effort some Indians are making to preserve and promote
their native languages, thus strengthening the linguistic diversity of the country, he alluded to the work done by Shripati Tudu, a professor of Santhali language at Sidho-Kaano-Birsa University in Purulia. The professor has made a version of the Indian Constitution in his native ‘Ol Chiki’ script for the Santhali community, the PM informed. The professor from Purulia knows it well that the Constitution makes every citizen aware of their rights and duties. It is important for every citizen to know it well. Praising professor Tudu, the PM added, “Therefore, he prepared a copy of the Constitution in his own script for the Santhali community and offered it as a gift.”
According to a report published by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner a decade back, the country spoke more than 19,500 languages or dialects. Apart from 22 scheduled languages, there are 270 identifiable mother tongues spoken by Indians.
Three days back when the prime minister was on a visit to Tamil Nadu on May 27, Chief Minister M.K. Stalin had in a public programme sought to make Tamil an official language, to be treated equally with Hindi. In April, Stalin had opposed the imposition of Hindi as a national language, when there was talk of making one in some quarters. Laying such fears to rest, the prime minister termed the Tamil as an ‘eternal’ language.
Through his talk on the sensitive issue, the prime minister, it appears, has reassured in his own style the speakers of various mother tongues across the country.
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ED attaches Rs 78 cr of assets of mill linked to Ajit Pawar
A sugar mill was sold for an amount of Rs 42.31 crore whereas its value stood at Rs 78 crore
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday provisionally attached Rs. 78.38 crore worth assets of a sugar mill in Jalna, Maharashtra, under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in a case pertaining to the illegal sale of the cooperative sugar mill Jalna Sahakari Sakhar Karkhana in Maharashtra State Co-operative Bank (MSCB) scam case. According to an ED press release, the attached assets include residual plant and machinery, building structures and more than 200 acres of land of the sugar mill at village Sawargaon Hadap in Jalna district.
ED has initiated investigation under the PMLA based upon an FIR registered by Economic Offence Wing, Mumbai Police, on August 26, 2019, following an order of the Bombay High Court, read the press release. It has been alleged in the said FIR that the cooperative SSK was fraudulently sold by the then officials and directors of MSCB at throw-away prices to their relatives or private persons without following the due procedure prescribed under the SARFAESI Act.
Investigations conducted by ED officials revealed that Jalna SSK failed to repay a loan of Rs. 33.49 crore availed from MSCB and was declared an NPA in 2002. To recover its dues, MSCB took possession of the cooperative sugar mill under SARFAESI Act. Thereafter, MSCB put the mill on sale in 2012, with a reserve price of Rs. 42.18 crore. The mill was sold to Tapadia Constructions, which did not operate the SSK. After lapse of 15 months, the mill along with 235 acres of land was sold to Arjun Sugar Industries.
However, Arjun Sugar Industries was floated by former Shiv Sena MLA Arjunrao Panditrao Khotkar and others to purchase the mill only. Khotkar had been on the Board of Director of MSCB and also a director in Jalna SSK. ED investigation further revealed that around Rs.10.56 crore paid by Tapadia Construction to MSCB as initial deposit in lieu of Jalna SSK was adjustment entity introduced by conversion of cash through shell companies. Further, Rs. 31.73 crore was sourced from Arjun Sugar Industries in December 2012. Tapadia Constructions was only a proxy entity according to the ED press release.
According to the ED, NCP leader and Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra Ajit Pawar was also in the affairs of the sugar mill.
According ED, Jalna SSK was sold for an amount of Rs. 42.31 crore by undervaluing the assets, whereas the valuation of the assets conducted by independent valuer revealed that the value of Jalna sugar mill was around Rs. 78 crore at the time of the sale.
SHINDE WIPES OUT UDDHAV’S SHIV SENA, 50 JOIN HIS FACTION
Seeking disqualification of 12 MLAs, Bal Thackeray’s party braces for a showdown on the floor of the House.
With another Shiv Sena MLA Dilip Lande on Friday joining the rebel group, led by Eknath Shinde, the anti-MVA group got further boost. With 41 Shiv Sena and 9 independent MLAs on his side, Shinde has practically put Uddhav Thackrey-led Shiv Sena into an existential crisis.
In another day full of political drama, Lande, Shiv Sena MLA from Chadivali left Mumbai to join the rebel faction led by Eknath Shinde in Guwahati. A day before, three legislators had arrived in Guwahati, including Agriculture Minister Dada Bhuse, MLA Sanjay Rathore and MLC Ravindra Phatak. Ironically, Phatak is said to be a confidant of the Maharashtra Chief Minister Udhav Thackeray and had been sent to Guwahati, along with Milind Narvekar, as emissary to negotiate with Shinde to resolve the crisis.
With Lande turning a turncoat, the ranks of rebel Shiv Sena legislators have swelled to 50, Shinde has usurped the legacy that Bal Thackeray had left in the hands of his son Udhav. The decimation of Maharashtra’s once most powerful first political family is almost complete.
The day saw a flurry of activity, with the Shiv Sena faction led by Uddhav seeking disqualification of 12 rebel MLAs from the House. The Chief Minister on Friday moved a petition with the Deputy Speaker of the Maharashtra state Assembly Narhari Zirwal and sought to cancel the membership of 12 rebel MLAs including Eknath Shinde for “not attending” the legislative party meeting held on Wednesday. Shiv Sena Chief Whip Sunil Prabhu had issued a letter to all party MLAs directing them to attend the meeting that evening.
Hitting back at the Shiv Sena after the party on Thursday sought the disqualification of 12 rebel MLAs including Shinde, the rebel leader turned to Twitter. “You cannot scare us by giving the names of 12 MLAs for disqualification because we are followers of the Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray. We know the law, so we do not pay heed to threats,” said Shinde in his tweet. “We know your ways and the law too! According to Schedule 10 of the Constitution, the whip is
used for assembly work, not for meetings,” he added.
Apart from Shinde, Shiv Sena has sought disqualification of Prakash Surve, Tanaji Sawant, Mahesh Shinde, Abdul Sattar, Sandeep Bhumare, Bharat Gogawale, Sanjay Shirsat, Yamini Yadhav, Anil Babar, Balaji Devdas and Lata Chaudhari. Speaking to The Daily Guardian Review, rebel MLA Gogawale said that their disqualification would be illegal. “We have numbers they don’t have. Currently, we have 41 Shiv Sainik and 9 Independent MLAs, among which 9 are ministers,” said unruffled Gogawale.
Responding to the call for their disqualification Shinde had on Wednesday written to the Deputy Speaker Zirwal regarding the reaffirmation of his appointment as the leader of the Shiv Sena Legislature Party. The letter had the signatures of 37 Shiv Sena MLAs and a copy of the letter was been sent to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and Secretary to the Legislative Council Rajendra Bhagwat.
Earlier in the day, Deputy Speaker Zirwal approved the appointment of Ajay Choudhary as Shiv Sena Legislative Party Leader, replacing Shinde, and Sunil Prabhu as Chief Whip, even as the senior Shiv Sena leader was busy meeting NCP leader Sharad Pawar.
Speaking to the media after the meeting was over, Rajya Sabha MP Raut said that they were confident of sailing through the floor test. “We are not going to accept defeat. We are ready for the floor test and will win. They have taken a wrong step. The time is over now. We had asked them to come back to Mumbai but they didn’t listen. Now, we challenge them to come back,” said Raut.
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An elite force can do well without criminal elements
Ever since the government announced the Agnipath scheme, a lot of undisciplined protestors have taken to the streets. In a democratic country, anyone is well within their rights to protest against any action of the government. However, the outright hooliganism, destruction of public property and rioting by protestors are not just condemnable but also prove a serious lack of discipline in pressing for their cause. Potential candidates for recruitment into the elite defence service are expected to protest in a civilized manner. By burning down trains and resorting to violence, these protestors are making a case against themselves on how they are unfit to don the elite uniform. The hooliganism and anarchy on display in the streets are enough to debar these protestors from the candidature. An elite force ready to make the supreme sacrifice for the sake of the nation can do well without these criminal elements destroying public property.
The Agnipath scheme is an effective initiative by the government aimed at structural reforms in the armed forces. The defence budget of India has been increased by the Modi government from 2.53 lakh crores in 2014 to 5.25 lakh crores in 2022. Unlike the earlier wars that the Indian army fought and won, the warfare of the future will be primarily a contest of technological prowess. The Modi government has displayed proactiveness in procuring the best available technology to arm the country with an effective deterrent. In a security apparatus dominated by technology, youthful dynamic foot-soldiers well-versed with the latest technology and sheer muscle power are a requisite. A proper meritocratic system where the best talents are retained for a longer-term would ensure that the army gets the best of the best foot on the ground to protect our borders. The Agnipath scheme backed by the three service chiefs would ensure an enhanced youthful profile of the force and result in the reduction of average age from 32 to 26 years over a period of time. A youthful profile for the defence forces will lead to increased dynamism, competitiveness to be retained for the long haul and optimal utilization of the defence budget. The tech-heavy jawan of the future will require multiple skillsets to guard our borders and Agniveers would be ideal for this technological revolution. The world is moving into an era where drones and robotic technology will slowly replace manual interventions. The soldiers of the future need to be dynamic and adaptable to the changes in technology. Cyber warfare is emerging as a huge threat and India has been ramping up its cyber assets toward this end. While the earlier reforms in defence were necessitated by adverse situations or wars, the Modi government has proactively optimized defence without the need for external circumstances. It is notable that the past 75 years have seen 2 reorganisation exercises apart from a few administrative revamps in the wake of Kargil and Op Parakram. The two reorganisations were around the 1960s after the debacle of the 1962 war and following the KV Krishna Rao committee of 1975. The current average age of uniformed officers can be attributed to the recruiting spree following 1962 and the increase in retirement ages. The manpower-heavy recruitment of prior decades was justifiable.
With the Agnipath initiative, the Modi Government in a single stroke recruits dynamism and youthfulness into our armed forces while also calibrating the defence structure in line with new theatres of war. The misinformation regarding this move has fuelled a spate of protests across the country as if Agnipath isn’t in the interest of the country. Whether the vandalism on the streets is by candidates or are the vested interests trying to take advantage by creating a crisis situation, needs to be investigated. The Modi government with the Agnipath scheme has continued to live up to its reputation of biting the bullet on vital reforms. Whether it’s section 370 of J&K or GST or Defence reforms, the Modi government is making good use of its majority, which the Indian citizens handed to the BJP. India always needed a strong decision-maker and reformer and India has got one.
The author is BJP spokesperson, advisor to former Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis, and executive director of Maharashtra Village Social Transformation Foundation, a Section 8 Company of the Maharashtra government.
THE TRAGEDY OF SANJAY GANDHI
On the occasion of his 42nd death anniversary, we peep into the life of one of the most controversial political characters of our time.
Sanjay Gandhi was the second son of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was widely believed to be the next heir to her mother’s chair, just like his mother had occupied her father Jawahar Lal Nehru’s chair after his death. There were unconfirmed stories floating around that Mrs Gandhi was grooming her younger son, Sanjay, who was keen to join politics, for the PM’s chair after her. Rajiv, the elder brother and a pilot with Indian Airlines, preferred to lead a quiet domestic life away from the limelight.
Sanjay started his career as Managing Director of a company called Maruti Motors Limited, founded by the Government of India to produce a people’s car in 1971. The 25-year-old Sanjay becoming the Managing Director of a newly formed motor company, having no prior experience to his credit, attracted several accusations of nepotism and corruption from the political class as well the general public. The 1971 victory of Bangladesh liberation that year silenced all the noise against corruption. Significantly, the company under Sanjay Gandhi produced no vehicle till 1975.
After the imposition of the emergency in the country on 26 June 1975, without having any elected official position, Sanjay Gandhi had become the de-facto power centre in the Prime Minister’s office as his mother Indira Gandhi’s adviser, usurping all the draconian powers of the Emergency, as basic fundamental rights of the citizens were suspended. It was rumoured that the government was run by Sanjay and his friends, called the ‘coterie’, who ran the PMO, from the PM’s house, instead of from the PMO authorized officials of bureaucracy. Sanjay declared a five-point programme, which included the abolition of dowry and family planning. Sanjay and his cronies were dreaded names who had terrorized the whole country.
Sanjay was sent to the best schools in India and abroad, but he didn’t enter a university. Instead, he decided to learn automotive engineering, spending three years at the Rolls-Royce automaker in England, as he was very much interested in sports cars. His other interest was in aircraft acrobatics, for which he had obtained his pilot’s license in 1976. He often used to take off from the Safdarjung flying club for his acrobatics practices. On the morning of 23 June 1980, Sanjay Gandhi took off for his acrobatic practice in a new Pitts S-2A aircraft from the Safdarjung airports’ flying club, accompanied by his instructor, Subhash Saxena.
Minutes later his plane crashed over Chanakyapuri while attempting a dangerous acrobatic maneuver, killing Sanjay and his instructor instantly. Their mutilated bodies were taken to RML Hospital for stitching before handing over to their respective families.
Sanjay was the first one of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s family to meet a violent death. Four years later, Sanjay’s mother was next to meet a violent death, on 31 October 1984, when she was killed by the bullets of her security guards after Operation Blue Star in June of the same year. About seven years later, Rajiv Gandhi, the last surviving member of Indira’s family and himself a former Prime Minister, was the last one to die a violent death, in a bomb attack by an LTTE woman while campaigning for elections for a Lok Sabha seat near Chennai on the night of 21 May 1991. Within a span of 11 years, all members of Mrs Indira Gandhi’s family were wiped out in violent deaths. Mrs Gandhi used to get advised by tantrics, astrologers and swamis, but no one had ever predicted that her whole family would be wiped out in such violent deaths in such a short period.
LAWRENCE PLANNED FAKE PASSPORTS FOR HIS BROTHER TO EXECUTE MOOSEWALA MURDER
The motive behind the killing, as admitted by Lawrence Bishnoi, was to avenge young Akali leader Vicky Middukhera’s murder. ADGP Pramod Ban said that as per police investigation, Moosewala’s hand in Middu Khera’s killing was not established. “This is just an assumption or suspicion by the Lawrence gang,” he said. As per the ADGP press communique, Lawrence Bishnoi, in a well hatched out conspiracy, to protect his brother Anmol Bishnoi and his close associate Sachin Thapan and himself had created a perfect alibi so that he and his associates are not linked to the crime and thus absolve them of their involvement in the murder of Sidhu Moosewala.
To execute this plan, he procured passports for his brother Anmol Bishnoi and Sachin Thapan on fake particulars that were issued by RPO Delhi and helped them flee the country before the execution of this murder. He settledthem abroad from where they could co-ordinate, facilitate and successfullyexecute this crime without being noticed or held culpable. Anmol Bishnoi (brother of Lawrence Bishnoi) has a criminal past (18 criminal cases).
Lastly, he was in Jodhpur Jail from where he was released on bail on 07-10-2021. Anmol Bishnoi had got his passport issued by RPO Delhi under the fake particulars.
Similarly, Sachin Thapan, a close associate of Lawrence Bishnoi and having a criminal past (12 criminal cases) also managed to get a passport issued by RPO Delhi under the fake particulars.
Based on these disclosures made by Lawrence Bishnoi during theinterrogation, a separate case FIR No 2, dated 20-06-2022 u/s 384, 465, 466,471, 120-B IPC, 12 Passport Act, and 25 Arms Act, PS Punjab State Crime, SAS Nagar was registered against Lawrence Bishnoi and his associates.
A deeper probe shall be conducted to unearth the modus operandi and the role of the officials in this unholy nexus in which the persons with criminal backgrounds managed to procure passports on fake particulars from RPO Delhi and flee the country.
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