Scoot CEO Campbell Wilson is new head of Air India

News Network
May 12, 2022

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New Delhi, May 12: Air India's new owner Tata Sons said on Thursday it would appoint Campbell Wilson, the head of Singapore Airlines' budget carrier Scoot, as its chief executive, subject to regulatory approvals.

New Zealand-born Wilson, 50, will step down from his current role on June 15, Singapore Airlines said.

Tata Sons completed its purchase of the previously state-owned Indian national carrier in January and has been searching for an executive to lead a major turnaround plan.

Wilson's appointment comes after Turkey's Ilker Ayci decided not take on the role of chief executive of Air India after the announcement of his appointment led to opposition in India over his previous political links.

Tata Sons said in a statement Air India's board approved the appointment of Wilson subject to requisite regulatory approvals.

The appointment of a foreign national as CEO of an airline in India requires government clearance before it can proceed.

Wilson will be replaced at Scoot by Leslie Thng, the current senior vice president, sales and marketing, at Singapore Airlines.

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Agencies
May 2,2022

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Cairo, May 2: For the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr, the smell of freshly baked orange biscuits and powdered sugar-dusted cookies typically fills the air in Mona Abubakr's home. But due to higher prices, the Egyptian housewife this year made smaller quantities of the sweet treats, some of which she gives as gifts to relatives and neighbours.

The mother of three has also tweaked another tradition this Eid, which began Monday in Egypt and many Muslim-majority countries and marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. She bought fewer outfits for her sons to wear during the three-day feast.

“I told them we have to compromise on some things in order to be able to afford other things,” she said.

This year, Muslims around the world are observing Eid al-Fitr — typically marked with communal prayers, celebratory gatherings around festive meals and new clothes — in the shadow of a surge in global food prices exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. Against that backdrop, many are still determined to enjoy the Eid amid easing of coronavirus restrictions in their countries while, for others, the festivities are dampened by conflict and economic hardship.

At the largest mosque in Southeast Asia, tens of thousands of Muslims attended prayers Monday morning. The Istiqlal Grand Mosque in Indonesia's capital Jakarta was shuttered when Islam's holiest period coincided with the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and was closed to communal prayers last year.

“Words can't describe how happy I am today after two years we were separated by pandemic. Today we can do Eid prayer together again," said Epi Tanjung after he and his wife worshipped at another Jakarta mosque. “Hopefully all of this will make us more faithful.”

The war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russia have disrupted supplies of grain and fertilizer, driving up food prices at a time when inflation was already raging. A number of Muslim-majority countries are heavily reliant on Russia and Ukraine for much of their wheat imports, for instance.

Even before the Russian invasion, an unexpectedly strong global recovery from the 2020 coronavirus recession had created supply chain bottlenecks, causing shipping delays and pushing prices of food and other commodities higher.

In some countries, the fallout from the war in Ukraine is only adding to the woes of those already suffering from turmoil, displacement or poverty.

In Syria's rebel-held northwestern province of Idlib, Ramadan this year was more difficult than Ramadans past. Abed Yassin said he, his wife and three children now receive half the amounts of products — including chickpeas, lentils, rice and cooking oil — which last year they used to get from an aid group. It has made life more difficult.

Syria's economy has been hammered by war, Western sanctions, corruption and an economic meltdown in neighbouring Lebanon where Syrians have billions of dollars stuck in Lebanese banks.

In the Gaza Strip, though streets and markets are bustling, many say they cannot afford much.

“The situation is difficult,” said Um Musab, a mother of five, as she toured a traditional market in Gaza City. “Employees barely make a living but the rest of the people are crushed.”

Mahmoud al-Madhoun, who bought some date paste, flour and oil to make Eid cookies, said financial conditions were going from bad to worse. “However, we are determined to rejoice,” he added.

The Palestinian enclave, which relies heavily on imports, was already vulnerable before the Ukraine war as it had been under a tight Israeli-Egyptian blockade meant to isolate Hamas, its militant rulers.

Afghans are celebrating the first Eid since the Taliban takeover amid grim security and economic conditions. Many were cautious but poured into Kabul's largest mosques for prayers on Sunday, when the holiday started there, amid tight security.

Frequent explosions marred the period leading to Eid. These included fatal bombings, most claimed by the Islamic State affiliate known as IS in Khorasan Province, targeting ethnic Hazaras who are mostly Shiites, leaving many of them debating whether it was safe to attend Eid prayers at mosques.

“We want to show our resistance, that they cannot push us away,” said community leader Dr. Bakr Saeed before Eid. “We will go forward.”

Violence wasn't the only cause for worry. Since the Taliban takeover in August, Afghanistan's economy has been in a freefall with food prices and inflation soaring.

At a charity food distribution centre in Kabul on Saturday, Din Mohammad, a father of 10, said he expected this Eid to be his worst.

“With poverty, no one can celebrate Eid like in the past,” he said. “I wish we had jobs and work so we could buy something for ourselves, not have to wait for people to give us food.”

Muslims follow a lunar calendar, and methodologies, including moon sighting, can lead to different countries — or Muslim communities — declaring the start of Eid on different days.

In Iraq, fewer shoppers than usual appeared to have visited the capital's clothing markets this year. Security issues also plague celebrations, with security forces going on high alert from Sunday to Thursday to avert possible attacks after a suicide bombing in Baghdad last year ahead of another major Islamic holiday killed dozens.

In India, the country's Muslim minority is reeling from vilification by hardline Hindu nationalists who have long espoused anti-Muslim stances, with some inciting against Muslims. Tensions boiled over into violence at Ramadan, including stone-throwing between Hindu and Muslim groups.

Muslim preachers cautioned the faithful to remain vigilant during Eid.

Indian Muslims “are proactively preparing themselves to deal with the worst,” said Ovais Sultan Khan, a rights activist. “Nothing is as it used to be for Muslims in India, including the Eid.”

Still, many Muslims elsewhere rejoiced in reviving rituals disrupted by pandemic restrictions.

Millions of Indonesians have crammed into trains, ferries and buses ahead of Eid as they poured out of major cities to celebrate with their families in villages in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country. The return of the tradition of homecoming caused great excitement after two years of subdued festivities due to pandemic restrictions.

“The longing for (the) Eid celebration in a normal way has finally been relieved today although the pandemic has not yet ended,” said Hadiyul Umam, a resident of Jakarta.

Many in the capital flocked to shopping centres to buy clothes, shoes and sweets before the holiday despite pandemic warnings and food price surges.

Muslims in Malaysia were also in a celebratory mood after their country's borders fully reopened and Covid-19 measures were further loosened. Ramadan bazaars and shopping malls have been filled with shoppers ahead of Eid and many travelled to their hometowns.

“It's a blessing that we can now go back to celebrate,” said sales manager Fairuz Mohamad Talib, who works in Kuala Lumpur. His family will celebrate at his wife's village after two years of being apart due to earlier travel curbs.

There, he said, they will visit neighbours after the Eid prayers, glorifying Allah and sending salutations upon Prophet Muhammad, and sharing food at each stop.

“It's not about feasting but about getting together,” he said ahead of the holiday. With Covid-19 still on his mind, the family will take precautions such as wearing masks during visits. “There will be no handshakes, just fist bumps.” 

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News Network
May 10,2022

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Firebrand BJP leader Sangeet Som stoked a huge controversy after he said that the Gyanvapi Mosque, which was adjacent to the famous Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi, would be demolished like the Babri Masjid.

"Babri Masjid was demolished in 1992, now it is the turn of Gyanvapi Mosque...we will demolish it in 2022," Som said while speaking at a function at Meerut, about 450 kilometres from here, on Monday.

"Muslim invaders had constructed the mosque after demolishing the temple....the time has come to take it back," Som, who was also an accused in the 2013 Muzaffarnagar communal riots case, said.

"They (Muslims) should have known this (demolition of Gyanvapi Mosque) the day the Babri Masjid was demolished.....they should have known which way is the country moving...we will not leave any such mosque and demolish all of them," he added.

He said that Ramlala (idol of Rama) had to remain in tarpaulin for several years but now a grand Ram Temple was being constructed. "Not a brick of Babri Masjid can be found today....the same will happen to Gyanvapi Mosque also,"  Som said.

He claimed that the Muslim side was 'deliberately' creating obstacles in the way of survey of the Kashi Vishwanath Complex as it knew that there were proofs of a temple inside the Gyanvapi Moasque.

Sangeet Som had contested the recently concluded UP assembly polls from Sardhana seat but lost to Samajwadi Party (SP) candidate Atul Pradhan.

Earlier also the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) had called for ‘liberating' Kashi Vishwanath Temple and the Shri Krsihna Janmabhoomi in Mathura. The All India Akhara Parishad (AIAP), an apex body of the seers in the country, had also said that the fight for the Ram Temple had ended and now it was the turn of Kashi and Mathura. "Kashi and Mathura are also blots for the Hindus...they must also be freed," a prominent seer associated with the AIAP had said. 

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News Network
May 13,2022

Mumbai, May 13: An NCP youth wing leader on Friday approached the cyber cell of Mumbai police seeking action against the BJP for uploading an alleged edited version of Sharad Pawar's recent speech in order to portray him as a "Hindu hater".

The @BJP4Maharashtra on Wednesday tweeted a short video of the speech and claimed that "atheist Sharad Pawar always hated Hindu religion" and he would not have achieved his political success without taking such a stand.

However, some social media users pointed out it was an edited video and Pawar, in the speech made at an event on May 9 in Satara, was in fact referring to a poem by Jawahar Rathod that deals with casteism and untouchability.

In his complaint to the police, Suraj Chavan, president of the state unit of the NCP's youth wing, said, "An attempt was made to create a divide in communities and cause law and order problems by sharing such a tempered video on Twitter. Action must be taken against the Twitter handle (of the BJP) as per sections 499, 500, 66A and 66F."

Pawar had told reporters on Thursday that he was reading out lines from a poem that depicts the pain of the labour class, but went to take a swipe at the BJP by saying those who wanted to spread disinformation were free to do so. 

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