Why the PM should not skip CHOGM in Colombo
The 23rd Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) will be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, from November 15 to 17. The Leaders’ Retreat will also be held in Colombo. India is the largest member of the Commonwealth, accounting for nearly 60 per cent of its total population. Former Indian High Commissioner to Britain Kamalesh Sharma is the 5th and current Secretary General of the Commonwealth of Nations from 2008.
Incidentally, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh skipped the CHOGM 2011 at Perth in protest against Australia’s refusal to sell India uranium as it had not signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. Instead, the Vice President, Hamid Ansari, led the Indian delegation. The Commonwealth Secretariat had refused to grant Ansari head of government status and attendant protocol honours although the then Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai informed the officials about the importance of the VP in our political system.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper walked out of the CHOGM 2011 during its last day when Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa was invited to speak. He also had threatened to boycott the 2013 CHOGM summit, if allegations of human rights abuses against the country’s Tamil minority were not investigated. Colombo did investigate the alleged human rights violations but a defiant Diaspora and a couple of world leaders whose local political fortunes depend on this Diaspora have decided to skip CHOGM 2013. Canada which goes to polls in 2015 gave citizenship to a large number of Sri Lankan Tamils.
Meanwhile, Colombo kept its promise and held elections to the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) where the Tamil National Alliance posted an impressive victory under the leadership of Justice CV Wigneswaran. He has strongly argued for the Indian PM to attend CHOGM, and use the opportunity to send the message he needs to send to Colombo. On his return from Sri Lanka, Foreign minister MSalman Khurshid had also advised that Indian participation at CHOGM would be in New Delhi’s interest.
It is understandable that political parties in Tamil Nadu are unhappy with the way New Delhi has been handling the Tamil issue in Sri Lanka. But it will be a rude shock to them if they visited the Tamil areas and found out that an overwhelming majority of them are living in a fear-free social and economic atmosphere. With the TNA’s sweeping electoral victory the last nail on the anti-propaganda of the misguided Sri Lankan Diaspora has been driven deep. While the local Tamil population keeps the Tamil Diaspora at a distance, the recently elected TNA’s Chief Minister of the NPC has ticked off the Tamil Nadu politicians and pleaded with them to keep off Tamil population in his country as it is in ‘their best interest’.
Many in the MEA feel that the PM skipping CHOGM would not only seriously hurt Indo-Sri Lanka relations, but could also dampen Colombo’s initiatives in devolution of power. This was the first time a Tamil party (TNA) has been allowed to form a provincial government by Colombo. On the initiative of the new CM, he was being sworn-in before President Rajapaksa creating tons of goodwill. His conciliatory tone that the strife affected the entire Island country and that any solution to vexed issues can be found within the present Constitutional framework and united Sri Lanka has raised hopes of rapprochement.
Foreign policy is the exclusive prerogative of the Centre, and is not on the Concurrent list. Since the end of the war in 2009, India has played a leading role in Sri Lanka’s reconstruction process by providing homes to IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons), building power and railway infrastructure, and nudging the Sri Lankan government to hold elections in the Northern Province as well as on implementing the 13th Amendment.
The PM has a rare opportunity to reclaim the legacy bequeathed on him by stalwarts in foreign policy initiatives, including the former PM Jawaharlal Nehru, who rolled out the doctrine of peaceful coexistence and constructive engagement—“Panchsheel” at the Asian Prime Ministers’ Conference nearly sixty years ago, in Colombo.
Stylish Samantha Cameron, the wife of British Prime Minister David Cameron is known for her knack of dressing impeccably, whatever the occasion is and on November 5 the Prime Minister’s wife choose a dramatic autumnal sari to take in London’s colourful Diwali celebrations.
Samantha, 42, chose a russet-coloured sari edged in gold for a visit to the Swaminarayan Mandir, the largest traditional Hindu temple outside India, at Neasden in north-west London. Diwali, known as the festival of lights, is a five day celebration undertaken by millions of Hindus, Jains and Sikhs around the world.
Fireworks and lamps are used to create a riot of colour to celebrate the victory of good over evil, sweets are traded and new clothes are bought. PM David Cameron choose not to dress quite so spectacularly as his wife though, by wearing his trusty navy suit. The Neasden temple which opened in 1995, is the largest of its kind outside of India.
Made of almost 2,820 tons of Bulgarian limestone and 2,000 tons of Italian carrara marble, the temple was carved in India and then shipped to London for building. Since opening the temple has attracted almost three million visitors.
(Courtesy : www.hinduhumanrights.info)
US lawmakers celebrate Diwali
Washington: US lawmakers celebrated, for the first time, Diwali on Capitol Hill after the US Congress passed resolutions honouring the Indian festival of lights and celebrated the strong relationship between US and India.
Tuesday (October 30) evening’s festivities on Capitol Hill, the seat of the US Congress emceed by Joe Crowley, Democratic co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans, were attended by lawmakers, prominent Indian-American leaders, and community members.
Separate bipartisan Diwali resolutions adopted by the two chambers of the Congress honour “an important tradition of Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains in the flourishing Indian-American community in the United States as well as those of our partners in India.”
The Senate resolution was introduced by Mark Warner and John Cornyn, Democratic and Republican co-chairs of the Senate India Caucus. It supports a “strong relationship between the people and governments of the US and India, based on mutual trust and respect to enable them to closely collaborate on a broad range of interests like global peace and prosperity.”
The House resolution introduced Crowley and Peter Roskam, co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, expressed deep respect for Indian Americans and the Indian diaspora and appreciated the religious diversity in both India and the US and throughout the world.
“Our historic, first-ever Congressional Diwali reception will serve to increase awareness about Diwali and highlight its positive, peaceful message during these contentious times,” said Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu ever to be elected to the US Congress.
Although Diwali was celebrated on the Capitol Hill for the first time on Tuesday, the festival’s importance came to be recognised first in 2003, when the White House held its first celebration of the festival under then President George W. Bush. Keeping up the tradition, President Barack Obama joined the White House Diwali celebrations in 2009. —Bureau Report
Russia promulgates a tougher anti-terror act
Government of India has something to learn from Russian Government. Without any hesitation or whatsoever President Putin of Russia has signed a tougher anti-terrorist law on November 2, 2013 aimed at neutralizing Islamist acts of terror in Russia.
For decades, Dagestan located in North Caucasus region of Russia has been the epicentre of the Islamist insurgency plagued with violence and regular clashes between militants and federal forces. Ahead of 2014 Winter Olympics, President Vladimir Putin has signed off on tougher anti-terrorism laws. The new law, which Putin signed on November 2, according to documents published on the Russian authorities’ legal website, introduces prison terms of up to 10 years for undergoing training “aimed at carrying out terrorist activity.” “Compensation for damage… caused as a result of a terrorist act is covered… with the means of the person that committed a terrorist act, and also the means of close relatives, relatives and close acquaintances if… they obtained money, valuables and other property as a result of terrorist activity,” the law said.
The Bill also made it easier for law enforcement agencies to prosecute suspected terrorists. It also introduces a punishment of up to six years for those participating in a militant group abroad.—Bureau Report