Sanghi Hindutva state would mark end of Indian idea: Shashi Tharoor

Agencies
October 31, 2020

New Delhi, Oct 31: The Hindutva movement is the "mirror image" of the Muslim communalism of 1947 and its triumph would mark the end of the Indian idea, says senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, asserting that Hindutva is a political doctrine, not a religious one.

A 'Hindu India' would not be Hindu at all, but a "Sanghi Hindutva state", which is a different country altogether, says Tharoor in his new book 'The Battle of Belonging' that was released on Saturday.

"People like me want to preserve the India we love, and not turn our beloved nation into the kind of religious state we were brought up to detest," he said.

Tharoor also asserted that Hindutva movement rhetoric echoes the bigotry that India was constructed to reject.

In the book published by Aleph Book Company, Tharoor makes a stinging critique of the Hindutva doctrine and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which he says is a challenge to, arguably, the most fundamental aspect of Indianness.

Devoting a chapter to the 'Hindu Pakistan' controversy in the book, the former Union minister writes: "I had inveighed against the ruling party’s attempts to create a Hindutva version of Pakistan, since that was not what our freedom movement fought for, nor was it the idea of India enshrined in our Constitution."

"This is not just about the minorities, as the BJP would have us believe. Many proud Hindus like myself cherish the inclusive nature of our faith and have no desire to live, as our Pakistani neighbours are forced to, in an intolerant mono-religious state," he writes.

Tharoor's reported comment last year that the BJP will pave the way for creation of a "Hindu Pakistan" had sparked a controversy with the party demanding his apology over the remarks.

Hinduism, as Swami Vivekananda asserted, teaches the acceptance of difference as a basic credo, Tharoor said in the book.

"Hindutva is not Hinduism; it is a political doctrine, not a religious one," he said.

"What is bizarre about the media drama over my remarks is that no one who was giving airtime to multiple BJP voices, frothing at the mouth about my words, actually asked them one simple question: 'Is the BJP giving up its dream of a Hindu rashtra?'" Tharoor said.

BJP apologists point out that the government has done nothing to amend the Constitution, and others have suggested that the Supreme Court's ruling that secularism is part of the 'basic structure' of the Constitution makes the idea of a 'Hindutva Pakistan' impossible, he said.

"But the fact is that both have only been held at bay by the simple fact that the BJP has not had the numbers required to achieve their goal -- two-thirds of both Houses of Parliament and half the states," he said.

Their overwhelming victory in the Lok Sabha elections in 2019 and winning a plurality of seats in the Rajya Sabha in June 2020 has ensured that they finally have all the elements needed to fulfil their "project", he said, adding that the nation has been "warned".

Tharoor argues in the book that the battle is between two opposing ideas of India or what might be described as ethno-religious nationalism versus civic nationalism.

In a sharp criticism of the CAA, Tharoor said it is the first law to question a basic building block of the nation -- that religion is not the determinant of our nationhood and, therefore, of our citizenship.

At a time when India's major national priority ought to have been its flailing economy, whose plummeting growth rate had already aroused widespread alarm even before the coronavirus struck, the Modi government plunged the country into an unwanted political crisis of its own making with the CAA, he said.

"With its penchant for shock-and-awe, the government pushed through Parliament legislation that fast-tracks citizenship for people fleeing persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh -- provided they are not Muslim. By excluding members of just one community, the new law is antithetical to India's secular and pluralist traditions," writes Tharoor.

"The religious bigotry that partitioned the country with the founding of Pakistan has now been mirrored in pluralist India. As I told my fellow parliamentarians, that was a partition in the Indian soil; this is now a partition in the Indian soul," he said.

The Hindutva movement is the mirror image of the Muslim communalism of 1947; its rhetoric echoes the bigotry that India was constructed to reject, Tharoor said.

Its triumph would mark the end of the Indian idea, the Congress leader added.

In the book, Tharoor also delves into the issue of the slogan 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' allegedly becoming an "acid test of Indian nationalism" and reiterated his stance that no Indian should be compelled to mouth a phrase that is nationalistic in the eyes of some, but not in his own.

Revisiting the 2016 controversy involving Muslim legislator Waris Pathan, who was suspended from the Maharashtra Assembly soon after for refusing to utter the slogan, Tharoor noted that some Muslims say, "'Tell us to say Jai Hind, Hindustan Zindabad, Jai Bharat, we'll do it -- but do not ask us to say Bharat Mata ki Jai'."

"The same Constitution that, in our civic nationalism, gives us the right to freedom of speech, also gives us the freedom of silence. We cannot put words in people's mouths," he asserted.

Tharoor also criticized the manner in which Article 370 was abrogated on August 5, 2019, saying Modi shocked the nation with an announcement on Kashmir that could well turn out to be the "political equivalent of demonetization"

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News Network
October 3,2022

Makkah, Oct 3: The Umrah visa has been extended from one to three months for all Umrah performers of all nationalities, Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah said.

He made this announcement during his two-day official visit to Tashkent where the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev received the Saudi minister at the conclusion of the Dr. Al-Rabiah's visit.

The minister conveyed the greetings of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed Bin Salman to President Mirziyoyev and the Uzbek government and people and their wishes of further growth for Uzbekistan.

They wished prosperity to Uzbekistan in light of the ongoing reforms that the republic is witnessing, stressing that the visit is an extension of distinguished historical relations between the two countries and resulted in several cooperation agreements in various fields.

The accords were primarily in the Hajj and Umrah, which reflects the great efforts of the leadership in serving Islam and Muslims and facilitating procedures for pilgrims and Umrah performers.

The minister added that the recent Hajj season saw the participation of some 12,000 Uzbek pilgrims after authorities increased the numbers of pilgrims following the easing of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He noted that more than 36,000 people from Uzbekistan have performed Umrah during the last two months, the majority of whom managed to visit Madinah and pray at Al-Rawdah Al-Sharifah and visited religious and historical sites in Madinah.

Al-Rabiah’s visit witnessed holding of several meetings with various officials to discuss means of enhancing cooperation in various fields and developing distinguished ties between the two countries.

The discussions mainly revolved around the automating of all services and programs that are now offered electronically through Nusuk platform and issuing visit and Umrah visas quickly.

The minister met with several Uzbek officials as part of boosting cooperation between the two countries in various fields and stressing the deep-rooted bilateral relations.

Talks during the visit also reviewed means to enhance strategic bilateral cooperation between the two sides to enhance the quality of services provided to Uzbek Umrah performers.

This is in addition to going over the possibility of increasing the activities of joint committees in several aspects, including increasing the number of flights between the two countries. 

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News Network
October 1,2022

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New Delhi, Oct 1: Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched 5G services in India today at a telecom event in Delhi. The service is expected to progressively cover the entire country over the next couple of years, potentially transforming India's digital landscape.

Here are key points

The PM launched the much-awaited service at the 6th Edition of India Mobile Congress 2022, being held from October 1-4, at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi. 5G services will be available in 13 Indian cities after Diwali.

After inaugurating the exhibition, PM Modi went around pavilions set up by different telecom operators and technology providers to get a first-hand experience of what 5G can do. He started with Reliance Jio's stalls, where he witnessed the 'True 5G' devices displayed and experienced the use case through Jio Glass.

Flanked by Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw and billionaires Mukesh Ambani of Reliance, Sunil Bharti Mittal of Bharti Airtel, and Kumar Mangalam Birla of Vodafone Idea, he spent time understanding the indigenous development of end-to-end 5G technology. He then visited stalls of Airtel, Vodafone Idea, C-DOT and others. 

The various use cases that will be demonstrated in front of the PM in the exhibition include precision drone-based farming, high-security routers and AI based cyber threat detection platforms, automated guided vehicles, Ambupod - smart ambulance, augmented reality/virtual reality /mix reality in education and skill development, sewage monitoring system, smart-agri programme, health diagnostics, among others.

India Mobile Congress (IMC), which claims to be the largest telecom, media, and technology forum in Asia, is jointly organised by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI).

Besides powering ultra-low latency connections, which allow downloading full-length high-quality video or movie to a mobile device in a matter of seconds (even in crowded areas), 5G can enable solutions such as e-health, connected vehicles, more-immersive augmented reality and metaverse experiences, life-saving use cases, and advanced mobile cloud gaming, among others.

"5G can unleash new economic opportunities and societal benefits, giving it the potential for being a transformational force for Indian society. It will help the country leapfrog the traditional barriers to development, spur innovations by startups and business enterprises as well as advance the 'Digital India' vision," an official release said. Experts have said 5G technology will greatly benefit India. It is likely to benefit the Indian economy by ₹ 36.4 trillion ($455 billion) between 2023 and 2040, a recent report by a global industry body representing mobile network operators estimated.

India's biggest ever auction of telecom spectrum held recently had received a record ₹ 1.5 lakh crore of bids, with Mukesh Ambani's Jio cornering nearly half of all the airwaves sold with a ₹ 88,078 crore bid.

The government has given a target of 80 per cent coverage of 5G telecom services in the country in a short timeframe, Union Minister for Communications, Electronics & Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw had earlier said.

Addressing an industry event in the national capital recently, Mr Vaishnaw had said, "the journey of 5G is going to be very exciting and noted that many countries took multiple years to reach 40 per cent to 50 per cent coverage. But we are targeting a very aggressive timeline and the Government has given a target of 80 per cent coverage in a short time frame, and we should definitely cover at least 80 per cent in a very short timeframe."

Mukesh Ambani promises 5G across India by Dec 2023

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani on Saturday announced that his telcom firm Reliance Jio will launch 5G services across the country by December 2023.

Jio is rapidly progressing to roll out 5G services within this month.

Speaking at the IMC 2022 event, Ambani said Jio will launch affordable 5G services and cover every nook and corner of the country by December 2023.

 Top cities where 5G will be available

According to an official release, 5G, launched by the Prime Minister, will be available in select cities for now and it will progressively cover the entire country over the next couple of years. The first phase of launch comprises 13 cities namely: Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Gurugram, Hyderabad, Jamnagar, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune and Lucknow. 

Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel are expected to be among the first telecom companies to offer the services.

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News Network
September 23,2022

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The Kerala High Court on Friday, September 23, initiated a suo motu case against the leaders of Popular Front of India (PFI) for calling a one-day statewide bandh in Kerala, according to news agency ANI.

As per a Kerala High Court order, nobody can call for a bandh in the state without permission.

The hartal was called by the PFI to protest against the raids in the offices and residences of its leaders and their subsequent arrests on Thursday by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and other agencies.

Sporadic incidents of violence were reported in various parts of Kerala as the dawn-to-dusk hartal called by radical Islamic outfit Popular Front of India (PFI) was underway in the southern state on Friday.

Stones were pelted at Kerala State Road Transport Corporation buses (KSRTC) in various districts including Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kozhikode, Wayanad, and Alappuzha. Local media reported that a petrol bomb was hurled at a vehicle which was carrying newspapers for distribution at Narayanpara in Kannur in the morning. In Alappuzha, KSRTC buses, a tanker lorry and some other vehicles got damaged in the stone pelting allegedly by those supporting the hartal call.

A 15-year-old girl and an auto-rickshaw driver suffered minor injuries in the stone pelting allegedly by PFI activists in Kozhikode and Kannur respectively. Meanwhile, Kerala police beefed up security in the state and issued directions to the district police chiefs to ensure law and order after the PFI called for a day-long state-wide hartal. A statement issued by the police said stern action will be taken against those who violate the law.

Local media reported that a petrol bomb was hurled at a vehicle which was carrying newspapers for distribution at Narayanpara in Kannur in the morning. In Alappuzha, KSRTC buses, a tanker lorry and some other vehicles got damaged in the stone pelting allegedly by those supporting the hartal call. 

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