All posts by Padho Leekho

Israel Gaza: Netanyahu vows to press ahead with Rafah offensive

Israel Gaza: Netanyahu vows to press ahead with Rafah offensive

A young child peeks over the rim of an empty bowl she holds while standing in a crowd awaiting food aid in Rafah

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted his troops will advance on the Gazan city of Rafah, defying outside pleas to reconsider.

French President Emmanuel Macron was among those warning Mr. Netanyahu off, telling him the human cost of Israel’s operation in Gaza was “intolerable”.

But Mr Netanyahu has ordered his army to prepare for a ground assault.

Some 1.4 million Palestinians are sheltering in Rafah, which has already come under bombardment.

Mr Netanyahu vowed to press on with a “powerful” assault, declaring that Hamas, the group that controls Gaza, must be eliminated from the southern city.

“We will fight until complete victory and this includes a powerful action also in Rafah after we allow the civilian population to leave the battle zones,” he said.

President Macron phoned Mr. Netanyahu on Wednesday to say Israel’s operations in Gaza “must cease”.

He expressed “France’s firm opposition to an Israeli offensive in Rafah, which could only lead to a humanitarian disaster of a new magnitude”.

The prime ministers of Australia, Canada, and New Zealand issued a joint statement expressing their “grave concern” that a military operation in Rafah would be “catastrophic”.

“We urge the Israeli government not to go down this path,” the statement read, adding “The impacts on Palestinian civilians from an expanded military operation would be devastating”.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, visiting Israel, warned that people in Rafah with nowhere to go could not “simply vanish into thin air.”

Spain and the Republic of Ireland have asked the EU, of which they are members, to examine “urgently” whether Israel is complying with its human rights obligations in Gaza under an accord linking rights to trade.

The health ministry in the Hamas-run Palestinian territory reports that at least 28,576 people, mostly women and children, have been killed as a result of Israel’s offensive in Gaza.

Israel took action after Hamas-led gunmen killed at least 1,200 people and seized 253 hostages in a surprise attack on its territory on 7 October.

In the earlier days of the war, Israel had instructed Palestinians to seek refuge in Rafah as the Israeli military moved against the northern cities.

Rafah is Gaza’s southernmost and features a crossing point into Egypt where humanitarian aid has been allowed to enter the Strip.

Now Israeli authorities want civilians to relocate to what they call a “humanitarian zone” – a thin strip of mainly agricultural land along the Mediterranean coast known as al-Mawasi.

Among the displaced civilians in Rafah was Ahlam Abu Assi, who told AFP news agency she “would rather die” there than return to famine-like conditions like those experienced by relatives who had stayed in Gaza City.

“My son and his children have nothing to eat. They cook a handful of rice and save it for the next day,” she said.

Map showing Israeli ground operations in southern Gaza (4 February 2023)

Another city, Khan Younis, has been the focus of Israel’s operations in the south of Gaza so far.

Thousands of displaced Palestinians sought shelter there in the Nasser hospital but are now also being ordered to evacuate.

Mr Netanyahu’s vow to press on came after peace negotiations involving officials from the US, Israel, Egypt, and Qatar ended inconclusively.

Israel’s prime ministerial office said Hamas had presented no new offer for a hostage deal and Israel would not accept the militant group’s “ludicrous demands”.

“A change in Hamas’ positions will make it possible to move forward in the negotiations,” it added.



Janakpur: Birthplace of Sita


Janakpuri Temple, Nepal
The city of Janakpur, 135 kilometers (84 miles) southeast of Kathmandu is doubly famous as the birthplace of the Hindu goddess Sita, as well as being the site where she was married to Lord Rama.

According to the Hindu epic, the Ramayana, the original city of Janakpur was named after King Janak of the Mithila kingdom. Janak found the baby Sita in a furrow of a field and raised her as his daughter. When Sita (also called Janaki) was about sixteen, the king announced that she could be married to whoever was able to string the divine bow of Shiva. Though many royal suitors tried, only Lord Rama, the prince of Ayodhya, was successful. And not only did he string the bow, he also snapped it in two. Thus, Lord Rama won the hand of Sita.

Historical sources indicate that the Mithila Kingdom controlled a large part of northern India between the tenth and third centuries BC when it came under the control of the Mauryan Empire (321 to 185 BC). The two great Mauryan emperors, Chandragupta and Ashoka, favored the religions of Jainism and Buddhism, and both the great saints Gautama Buddha, founder of Buddhism, and Vardamana Mahavira, the 24th and final Tirthankara (an enlightened sage) of the Jain religion, are said to have lived in Mithila/Janakpur. Following the decline of the Mauryan Empire, Janakpur languished as a religious site for two millennia until the seventeenth century.

Janakpuri Temple Gate, NepalIn 1657, the great saint and poet Sannyasi Shurkishordas discovered a golden statue of the Goddess Sita at the exact place where she was born, which ultimately became the location of the current Janaki Mandir, the Temple of Sita. Shurkishordas is considered to be the founder of modern Janakpur.

Queen Brisabhanu Kunwari of Tikamgarh built the Janaki Mandir in 1911. The temple is architecturally unique in Nepal. Its inner sanctum contains a flower-bedecked statue of Sita that was miraculously found in the Saryu River near Ayodhya. Statues of Rama and his half-brothers Lakshman, Bharat, and Satrughna stand by Sita. Early evenings are the best times to visit, for then the temple is lit with colorful lights and filled with hundreds of pilgrims expressing devotion for Sita and Rama. The temple is particularly popular with women, who wear their best clothes when visiting the shrine. Adjacent to the Janaki Mandir is the Rama Sita Bibaha Mandir, a building that marks the place where Rama and Sita were married.

Tens of thousands of pilgrims visit Janakpur to pay homage to Sitaat the time of Vivah Panchami, the marriage day of Sita and Ram (the fifth day of the Shukla Paksha or waxing phase of moon in November/December) and on Ram Navami, the birthday of Lord Rama (the ninth day of the Hindu month of Chaitra, which begins with the new moon in March/April).

Janakpuri Main Temple, Nepal
Additional periods for large celebrations in Janakpur are Holi, the festival of colors in March; Diwali, the festival of lights in early November; and Chhath, a four-day festival celebrated by the local Mithila people in May and November.

Other important religious sites in the city include the Danush Sagar and Ganga Sagar ritual bathing tanks near the Janaki Mandir, and the winding streets surrounding the temple are filled with shops selling garlands of colorful flowers, pictures of various Hindu deities, and ritual objects for prayers.

Near Janakpur lies the ancient place of Dhanushadham, another important religious site for the Hindus. The Dhanusha pond is believed to have been made by the pieces of arrow broken by the Rama in Janakpur.

Pilgrims at Janakpuri Main Temple, Nepal

Pilgrims at Janakpuri Main Temple, Nepal

Ram & Sita Statues at Janakpuri Temple, Nepal

janakpuri-temple-towersJanakpuri Temple, Nepal


Mai Atal Hu

Mai Atal Hu

Story: The biopic follows the life and times of the former Prime Minister of India, Late Atal Bihari Vajpayee. It also chronicles the various facets of his personality and the country’s achievements under his leadership.

Review: Making a biopic on a stalwart like the 10th Prime Minister of India, Late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, is no mean feat. While the creators must weave a cohesive narrative from an exhaustive chronicle, the actor must portray the role befittingly. Main Atal Hoon stands out in both regards. Pankaj Tripathi delivers a pitch-perfect performance as Vajpayee, a poet, politician, statesman, and gentleman. Besides the mannerisms and speech, the actor perfectly nails the nuances of his personality. On the other hand, award-winning director-writer Ravi Jadhav (Natrang, Taali, etc.) and co-writer Rishi Virmani come up with aces in chronicling the life and times of one of the most admired figures in India.

Inspired by Sarang Darshane’s book, Atalji: Kavihridayache Rashtranetyachi Charitkahani, the movie succinctly covers Vajpayee’s journey from being a freedom fighter to a revered leader. The narrative summarises all the prominent influences, pivotal events, and important achievements under his leadership. From the Kargil War, the bus yatra from India to Pakistan, and the Pokhran Nuclear Test, many crucial episodes have been depicted through archival footage, making the narrative more engaging and authentic. However, the audience may need knowledge of Indian politics to understand a few parts of the movie. Although a narrator sets the context regularly, it would have helped to have some background in these portions.

The film initially moves at a steady pace but slows intermittently until the interval. It picks up its speed again in the second half when the narrative shifts towards the peak of his days as a politico. Besides its writing and direction, the biopic boasts stellar cinematography by Lawrence Alex Dcunha. The movie is a visual treat, from silhouettes to camerawork enhancing important scenes. Salim-Sulaiman, Payal Dev, Kailash Kher, and Amritraj provide a soundtrack that evokes inspiration, and Monty Sharma’s background score makes the narrative more powerful. The use of Vajpayee’s poetry recitation and lyrics in songs also add to the appeal.

While Pankaj Tripathi shines as Vajpayee and looks like his replica, especially in long shots, Raja Rameshkumar Sevak, as LK Advani, looks extraordinarily similar to the senior leader. Other political figures, such as Sushma Swaraj (Gauri Sukhtanker) and Arun Jaitley (Yogendra Patwal), have also been portrayed perfectly. Vajpayee’s relationship with his father, Krishna Bihari Vajpayee (Piyush Mishra), is heartwarming and even elicits a few chuckles. The depiction of his equation with his classmate and long-time friend Rajkumari Kaul, nee Haksar (Ekta Kaul), is pleasant. Although the movie touches upon how Vajpayee met his adopted daughter, Namita Bhattacharya (Kaul), their relationship could have been improved.

The film’s narrative, treatment, and stellar portrayal by Pankaj Tripathi will leave you enamored. Watch this movie that will fill you with admiration for one of the most significant political figures in India.


Source:- TOI

Transforming Ayodhya into the ‘Hindu Vatican’

Ayodhya: Transforming a flashpoint holy city into the ‘Hindu Vatican’

On a brutally cold morning, Yogendra Guru looked adrift in a maze of traffic after visiting the heavily secured makeshift shrine where Hindus believe Lord Ram was born.

Frenzied construction work provided the backdrop in the northern Indian city of Ayodhya – a vast center to welcome pilgrims, arched sandstone gates, and a broad corridor leading to a brand new $217m (£170m) temple for the Hindu deity. A multi-billion dollar makeover has seen swathes of the city bulldozed to turn it into what some Hindu nationalist leaders are calling a “Hindu Vatican”.

Mr. Guru had endured a grueling 14-hour bus journey with two dozen family members who made the pilgrimage to Ayodhya from their village in Morena district in central Madhya Pradesh state.

“I am elated that we are finally getting a new temple. It seems like the Hindus have awakened, experiencing a sense of freedom. I believe we were previously suppressed,” he told me.

Next week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will fulfill a decades-long Hindu nationalist pledge by opening the temple, which replaces a 16th-century mosque that once stood here, on one of India’s most controversial religious sites. In 1992, Hindu mobs tore down the Babri mosque, claiming it was built by Muslim invaders on the ruins of a Ram temple, sparking nationwide riots that took nearly 2,000 lives.

Workers atop the under construction Ram Temple in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, India, on Friday, Dec. 29, 2023.
Stretching across 7.2 acres, the three-story shrine, clad in sandstone and anchored by granite, boasts towering pillars

The stormy ownership dispute between Hindus and Muslims ended in 2019 when the Supreme Court granted the site to Hindus, despite explicitly stating that the demolition of the mosque was an “egregious violation of the rule of law”. (The court gave Muslims another plot of land in Ayodhya to construct a mosque.)

Mr Modi opens the Ayodhya temple months before the general elections, with his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) eyeing a record third consecutive term. He says the new temple will “unify the nation”. Senior minister Rajnath Singh believes the shrine would mark “the beginning of India’s cultural revival and restore national pride”.

Critics say the timing of the opening leans more towards political strategy than religious significance, building a Hindu nationalist momentum ahead of the polls. After all, they argue, the movement to build a temple was a major factor in propelling the BJP to a prominent position in Indian politics.

“After enduring life in a tent, Lord Ram has now found a rightful abode. It’s been a test of patience for all of us,” said Satyendra Das, the 86-year-old head priest of the makeshift shrine, where a smaller idol of Ram had been placed for the past three decades.

The new temple is as grand as it gets. Stretching across 7.2 acres in a 70-acre complex, the imposing three-story structure, clad in pink sandstone and anchored by black granite, boasts towering pillars and rests upon 70,000 sq ft (6,503 sq m) of pristine white marble. A 51-inch (4.25-ft) idol of Ram will be placed on a marble pedestal.

When fully complete – Mr. Modi will be opening only the ground floor on 22 January – by the end of the year, the temple will expect to greet a staggering 150,000 visitors per day, seven times the current rate.

Preparation at Maharshi Valmiki International Airport Ayodhya ahead of its inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 29, 2023 in Ayodhya, India
Ayodhya’s makeover includes a shiny new airport…
View of newly built Ayodhya Railway station on December 27, 2023 in Ayodhya, India.
…and a massive new railway station

To make all this happen, Mr Modi’s government is pulling out all the stops to transform Ayodhya, a tranquil pilgrim town on the banks of Saryu, a tributary of the Ganges, to what officials call a “world-class city where people come as pilgrims and tourists”.

The $3.85bn (£3.01bn) makeover includes expanded roads, a shiny new airport, a massive railway station, and a multi-level car park. More than 3,000 homes, shops and “structures of religious nature” have been either completely or partially demolished to facilitate the widening of four main roads, including the newly christened 13km (8-mile) Ram Path, leading to the temple. A lighter yellow paint now gives the buildings a uniform, bland look.

Hotel chains like Radisson and Taj are building new properties; up to 50 new hotels and homestays are planned, while scores of grubby guesthouses are receiving facelifts. Not surprisingly, land prices have already trebled.

“You can’t recognize the place, it’s changed so much now. There’s a bit of shock and awe that all this has happened,” said Valay Singh, author of Ayodhya: City of Faith, City of Discord, who has been visiting the the city since 2016.

There are also plans for additional attractions surrounding the new temple, including a heritage walk featuring 162 murals depicting Ram’s life, a facility on a Saryu river island that offers “insights into the Vedic civilization”, and the creation of a wedding city and developing the place as a naturopathy center.

“We want to create the most beautiful city in the world,” says Gaurav Dayal, Ayodhya’s most senior official.

More than 3,000 homes and shops have been either completely or partially demolished to widen pilgrim corridors
Half of Vishal Pandey’s ancestral six-room house had been demolished for the road widening of a pilgrim corridor

Faith threads its way through every facet of life in Ayodhya, where temples rise like sentinels in an untidy skyline and monks walk the streets. Tens of thousands of pilgrims circumambulate the city at least twice a year. The ubiquitous monkeys still have a free run. Bazaars teem with hawkers selling religious bric-a-brac: flowers, sandalwood, devotional books, and replicas of deities.

Mr. Singh describes it as a “fragile, pilgrim-dependent economy”. On her first visit to the city, Disha Chakraborty, a student of life sciences from Shillong in north-eastern India, told me: “This place is dilapidated, let’s be honest. But it doesn’t matter because people are so devoted. So many have put their collective faith in an idol.”

Yet, in this city of both a few thousand temples, large and small, and 45-odd mosques, and festivals and fairs, a transformation is underway, blending the old with the new.

As well as tattoo parlors and takeout food, Ayodhya has a restaurant called Dark Cloud and a salon called Stylish Chand Men’s Parlour, offering a variety of style cuts. Laser shows light up the sky after the dark. The place swarms with competing YouTubers and Instagram Reel makers, each trying to make the place “trend”.

Shakila Bano, 38 years old, makes a garland of Marigold flowers at her house as the construction site of Hindu Ram Temple is seen in the background, in Ayodhya, India, November 22, 2023. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis
Shakila Bano makes a garland of marigold flowers at her house – Ayodhya’s temple economy is dependent on local Muslims

Inspired by faith, tradition, and curiosity, millions of devotees and tourists are now expected to descend on Ayodhya after the new temple opens. Yet, even in its peace, there are rumblings of discontent. The road-widening initiative for pilgrims slices through the city, leaving a trail of homes and shops smashed by bulldozers.

Anand Kumar Gupta, who heads an association of local shopkeepers, said around 1,600 of them have “been displaced and have nowhere to go”. He added that they were paid an average of 100,000 ($1,200) rupees for repairs. “This rebuilding has disturbed us,” he said.

On a pilgrim route being widened, some three dozen homes of people who work in the city’s temples stand partially demolished. The street is overflowing with sewage from leaky pipes. Wobbly bamboo bridges stretch precariously over muddy trenches that scar the ground outside the doors. Owners of the destroyed homes have been given plots at a distance.

Vishal Pandey said that half of his ancestral six-room house had been demolished for the road widening. Despite a compensation close to 700,000 rupees for the affected portion, the toll on their eight-member generational dwelling is irreversible, he added. “There is anger among the locals,” Mr Pandey told me. “But we are also happy that Ram is finally getting a permanent home. He was in a tent for such a long time. Now it’s our turn [to suffer].

“Where there is destruction, there is development. Let’s see what happens.”

Local vendor named Udaikant Jha selling religious items near Dashrath Mahal on December 22, 2023 in Ayodhya, India.
Bazaars in Ayodhya teem with hawkers selling religious bric-a-brac

Kanti Devi, who has lost half of her house, is more trenchant. “We are not happy at all,” she says. “Even the officials come and tell us we are giving you a lot of pain. It’s good that the temple has been made, but how does it help us? Whatever we built, they have razed to get more pilgrims into the town.”

Officials say residents of the demolished dwellings and shops have been compensated with money and new houses under government schemes. “All compensation has been given. It is delayed in some cases because of litigation involving family disputes. There’s nothing left to be done now,” says Mr Dayal.

In many ways, people coming in from outside have shaped the destiny of Ayodhya where Hindus and Muslims have long lived in mixed neighborhoods. This endured despite the demolition and a subsequent attack on local Muslims in December 1992, allegedly leading to the death of 18 Muslims and the torching of their homes. It was a city that became a flashpoint for religious violence.

“We have moved on. However, the events remain a source of pain for us,” said Khaliq Ahmed Khan, a social worker.

Mr Khan believes Hindus and Muslims share warm relations in Ayodhya, rooted in a centuries-old inter-dependence. “Hindu devotion to Ram is intertwined with the support of Muslims, particularly in the temple economy, where their trade plays a crucial role. The two communities are inseparable.”

This sentiment is echoed by Raghuvansh Mani, a local college professor: “The sectarian strife originated from outside; the local people have minimal involvement in that.” Some locals share similar sentiments, feeling that outsiders are determining their fate, as the new temple aims to open Ayodhya to the world.

“Only time will tell,” says Mr Pandey.



100 days since Hamas – Israel War

100 days since Hamas attacked Israel, triggering war in Gaza

Supporters and families react as others hold pictures of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza take part in rally in Tel Aviv
Families of Israeli hostages held in Gaza joined a massive rally in Tel Aviv marking a hundred days of their captivity

One hundred days ago, the previously unthinkable happened in Israel. A state, born out of adversity and war only 75 years ago, woke up to what some have since described as a threat to its very existence.

On Saturday night, in Tel Aviv, the events of 7 October were commemorated by thousands of people. Uppermost on the minds of everyone were the around 130 hostages abducted by Hamas and still being held in Gaza, although some of them may not still be alive.

Just after dawn 100 days ago, thousands of heavily armed Hamas fighters stormed through and over the Gaza border fence in several different places.

They attacked kibbutzim, military bases, and border towns, accustomed to rocket attacks from Gaza but overwhelmed by the scale of the Hamas incursion.

At least 1,200 people were killed along the length of the border as Israeli defenses were caught completely by surprise.

Images of hundreds of young music lovers fleeing for their lives at the Nova festival shook Israel to its core. More than 360 people were killed at the festival site and dozens more were abducted to Gaza.

The number of civilians killed in the Israeli bombardment that followed the Hamas attacks has been huge. More than 23,000 have been killed, according to the Hamas-run health ministry, many of them women and children. Thousands more are believed to be dead under the rubble.

Yossi Schneider
Yossi Schneider’s cousin was kidnapped by Hamas along with her two young children and husband

In Israel on Saturday, among those at the huge commemorative event in Tel Aviv were families of the disappeared, carrying posters and wearing T-shirts featuring the faces of their loved ones.

I spoke to Yossi Schneider – a cousin of Shiri Bibas, who was kidnapped along with her two young children and husband.

“There are 130 people, mainly civilians being held without medicines and the Red Cross is not even being allowed to visit them,” says Yossi, angered that the wider family has received little information on their physical or mental welfare.

“There are three generations of my family that have disappeared. Three generations of my family! And the world is keeping silent and asking us to stay calm. I cannot take it anymore,” he adds, tired but frustrated.

Most people here would say that 7 October was the biggest threat ever faced by Israel and that Israelis have never felt so vulnerable. While the safe return of the hostages is their absolute priority, many also agree with their government’s war aims in Gaza and few voices are calling for tolerance and coexistence.

A man sits in front of the rubble of a house in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip
A man sits in front of the rubble of a house in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip

As Israel’s shaken defense establishment eventually responded to what was happening in the south as Saturday 7 October drew to a close, the Israeli military embarked on an unprecedented bombing campaign in Gaza – its stated goal: the destruction of Hamas and its support structure.

Much of the territory, from Gaza City in the north to Khan Younis in the south, has since been destroyed.

Israel says Hamas has been severely weakened and, according to the Israeli military, rendered almost inoperable as an organized force in northern Gaza.

But the number of civilians killed in the Israeli bombardment has been enormous.

Palestinian officials say that 85% of Gaza’s population has been displaced. While more aid is now getting into Gaza the UN’s humanitarian chief has described the situation as “intolerable”.

Fatten Abu Shahada
Faten Abu Shahada now lives in a plastic tent with her family in Khan Younis

Faten Abu Shahada needs regular kidney dialysis which is one reason why she and her family have been forced to move south. Home for Faten and the kids is now a plastic tent in Khan Younis – the sound of an Israeli drone overhead is their constant companion.

“Gaza has been destroyed. There’s no Gaza left – no hospitals, no education,” says Faten. “Our children have lost their school year, Gaza is no longer alive.”

Israel is coming under increasing international pressure to consider a ceasefire or pause in Gaza, such is the scale of the civilian suffering.

Even its closest ally the US, which consistently defends Israel’s right to self-defense and to prevent a repetition of 7 October, has repeatedly told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the civilian death toll is “far too high”.

President Biden has spoken of Israel’s “indiscriminate bombing”, which he said meant the country was losing support around the world.

Gideon Levy
Columnist Gideon Levy says the war in Gaza will last as long as the Americans allow it

Gideon Levy is a columnist for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz and a frequent critic of Mr Netanyahu. I asked him if this war – already Israel’s longest since 1948 – would soon conclude.

“The war in its current shape will last as long as Americans will allow Israel (to do it),” says Levy.

He adds: “I don’t think it will be many weeks more. But that doesn’t mean that the war is over because nobody has thought about the day after.

“If Israel doesn’t pull out of Gaza, there will be resistance. And if there is resistance there will be retaliation.”

As Israeli troops continue to attack Hamas positions in central and southern Gaza, ending the war seems to be far from Mr Netanyahu’s intentions.

Israel says the fighting will not end until Hamas is completely defeated. The immediate future across the region, and especially for thousands of civilians living in appalling conditions in Gaza, looks particularly bleak.


Pakistan says children killed in Iranian strike

Pakistan says children killed in Iranian strike

An Iranian missile launcher
Iranian missiles – seen here during a training drill – have hit Pakistan, Iraq and Syria in recent days

Pakistan says two children were killed and three others injured in strikes by neighboring Iran on Tuesday.

Iran said it targeted two bases linked to the militant group Jaish al-Adl, according to a news agency affiliated with the country’s military.

But Pakistan rejected this, calling it an “illegal act” that could lead to “serious consequences”.

Pakistan is the third country, after Iraq and Syria, to be hit by an Iranian attack within the last few days.

A missile attack by Iran on Pakistan is near-unprecedented. Tuesday’s strike hit a village in the vast south-western province of Balochistan, which borders the two countries.

In a strongly worded statement, Pakistan’s foreign ministry strongly condemned the “unprovoked violation of its airspace by Iran”.

It called the incident “completely unacceptable”, adding that it was “even more concerning that this illegal act has taken place despite the existence of several channels of communication between Pakistan and Iran”.

Pakistan has protested with a “concerned senior official” in Iran’s foreign ministry in its capital city Tehran, adding that “this blatant violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and that the responsibility for the consequences will lie squarely with Iran”.

Iran had late on Monday launched ballistic missile strikes against targets in Iraq’s northern city of Irbil, prompting condemnation by the US.

The Iranian strikes come amid heightened tensions across the Middle East since the war in the Gaza Strip between Israel and the Iran-backed Palestinian group Hamas began on 7 October.

Iran has declared that it does not want to get involved in a wider conflict, but groups in its so-called “Axis of Resistance” have been carrying out attacks on Israel and its allies to show solidarity with the Palestinians.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement has exchanged cross-border fire with Israeli forces; Shia militias have launched drones and missiles at US forces in Iraq and Syria; and Yemen’s Houthi rebels have attacked ships in the Red Sea.

Israel has reportedly carried out strikes that killed a Hamas leader in Lebanon and a Revolutionary Guards commander in Syria, while the US has killed an Iraqi militia leader in an air strike in Iraq and bombed Houthi targets in Yemen.

Pakistan and Iran have fought armed separatist groups, including Jaish al-Adl, for decades in the sparsely populated region.

Security on either side of their shared border, which runs for about 900km (559 miles), has been a long-running concern for both governments.

Tehran has linked the group with attacks last month close to the border, which killed over a dozen Iranian police officers.

At the time, Iran’s interior minister Ahmad Vahidi said the militants responsible had entered the country from Pakistan.

Jaish al-Adl is the “most active and influential” Sunni militant group operating in Sistan-Baluchestan, according to the office of the US Director of National Intelligence.


Source:- ttps://

KKR to invest next $10 billion in India

KKR to invest next $10 billion in India faster than before, very impressed with what government has done: Founder Henry Kravis

KKR to invest next $10 billion in India faster than before, very impressed with what government has done: Founder Henry Kravis

KKR to invest next $10 billion in India faster than before, very impressed with what government has done: Founder Henry Kravis© Provided by The Times of India

KKR & Co., one of the world’s largest private equity firms, is set to deploy another $10 billion in India, according to Henry Kravis, one of the company’s founders. In an interview with ET, Kravis expressed his admiration for India’s economic development and highlighted the country’s potential for growth. He emphasized that India is a high priority for KKR, as it serves as the anchor for their Asia-Pacific investments.

“India is a high priority for us, it is the anchor for our Asia-Pacific investing. Japan’s an important part of what we have too. We’re not pulling out of China —and so those are the pillars. But India is probably the most important of it and the biggest opportunity,” he said.

To capitalize on the expanding size of the country and its growing economy, there is a plan to invest more aggressively. Infrastructure, a recently added focus for KKR, has shown rapid development in the past five years. According to Kravis, the existing credit business will be expanded, and there are considerations for increased involvement in real estate. Additionally, the commitment to the growth equity and private equity sectors remains strong, indicating a continued investment strategy in these areas, he said.

Kravis praised the improvements in India’s infrastructure and the pro-business attitude of the current government. “Obviously, it matters who’s elected. I have to say I’m impressed, very impressed, with what this government has done,” he said.

He commended the government’s efforts in simplifying red tape and implementing the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which has had a significant impact on the country’s productivity. Kravis also expressed confidence in the growth potential of India’s equity markets, noting that although some companies may be trading at high multiples, their earnings can be improved significantly.

Having visited India regularly since 1989, there’s a noticeable positive trend now, noted Kravis. The significant improvement in infrastructure and the increasingly prevalent can-do attitude in the country are noteworthy. This conducive environment sets the stage for further engagement. There are no plans to adopt a passive approach in the initial six months; instead, active pursuit of live opportunities already in the pipeline is on the agenda, he said.

“I meet with government people here every time I come, and what I’m hearing is very positive. From being pro-business, pro-growth, the Narendra Modi government is also about pro-help, lifting the poor in this country and then simplifying a lot of red tape. GST is a phenomenal thing that happened in this country. The productivity of that alone is just huge,” he said.

Overall, Kravis sees India as a crucial market for KKR and believes that the country’s economic growth, coupled with improvements in infrastructure and government policies, will continue to attract overseas investment.

Source:- TOI

Over 24.8cr people moved out of multidimensional poverty in India in 9 years: NITI report

Over 24.8cr people moved out of multidimensional poverty in India in 9 years: NITI report

NEW DELHI: A recent report by NITI Aayog revealed that a staggering 24.82 crore individuals have escaped multidimensional poverty in India between 2013-14 and 2022-23.

Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh have shown the most significant decline.

As stated by the report, multidimensional poverty is determined by improvements in healthcare, education, and living standards.

The NITI discussion paper highlighted that India’s multidimensional poverty has decreased from 29.17% in 2013-14 to 11.28% in 2022-23. The trend signifies the upliftment of 24.82 crore people from this bracket during the specified period.

“Uttar Pradesh registered the largest decline in the number of poor with 5.94 crore people escaping multidimensional poverty during the last nine years followed by Bihar at 3.77 crore, Madhya Pradesh at 2.30 crore and Rajasthan at 1.87 crore,” according to the report.

NITI Aayog’s approach to measuring multidimensional poverty involved considering 12 indicators aligned with the sustainable development goals. These indicators encompass crucial aspects such as nutrition, child and adolescent mortality rates, maternal health, educational attainment, access to basic amenities like clean cooking fuel, sanitation, safe drinking water, electricity, housing, and possession of assets and bank accounts.

“Significant initiatives covering all dimensions of poverty have led to 24.82 crore individuals escaping multidimensional poverty in the last 9 years. As a result, India is likely to achieve its SDG target of halving multidimensional poverty well before 2030,” the statement said.

“The government’s persistent dedication and resolute commitment to enhancing the lives of the most vulnerable and deprived have been instrumental in this accomplishment,” it added.


Emergency Provisions in the Indian Constitution

Introduction: Understanding Emergency Provisions

The Indian Constitution, a living document, is equipped with a set of emergency provisions designed to safeguard the nation’s integrity and its citizens during times of crisis. The concept of emergency provisions is a fundamental aspect of the Indian Constitution, designed to safeguard the nation and its citizens during times of crisis. These provisions are a testament to the foresight of the framers of the Constitution, who understood the need for extraordinary powers in extraordinary circumstances. This blog aims to provide an exhaustive understanding of these provisions, their implications, and their historical applications.

Historical Context of Emergency Provisions

The emergency provisions in the Indian Constitution were conceived against a backdrop of political turmoil and the need for national unity. During the drafting of the Constitution, members of the Constituent Assembly debated extensively on the necessity of these provisions. Rooted in India’s colonial past, where emergencies were often declared to suppress civil liberties, the framers sought to balance state power with individual rights. These provisions were designed as tools to safeguard the nation against external aggression, internal rebellion, and financial crises, ensuring the stability and security of the newly independent nation.

Legal Provisions: The Constitutional Framework

The Constitution of India, like many other constitutions around the world, has provisions for dealing with emergencies. The Indian Constitution, under Part XVIII, outlines the emergency provisions in Articles 352 to 360. These provisions allow the Central Government to exercise broad powers that would otherwise be beyond its constitutional authority. The emergency provisions can be invoked under three circumstances:

types of emergencies in the Indian Constitution

1. National Emergency (Article 352):

Triggered by war, external aggression, or armed rebellion.

A National Emergency can be declared if the President is satisfied that the security of India or a part of it is threatened by war, external aggression, or armed rebellion. The President can make such a proclamation only on the written advice of the Cabinet. Once declared, the emergency must be approved by both Houses of Parliament within one month, or it will lapse. The emergency can be extended indefinitely with the approval of Parliament every six months.


A National Emergency is a situation in which the President of India proclaims that the security of India or any part of its territory is threatened by war, external aggression, or armed rebellion. This provision is laid down under Article 352 of the Indian Constitution.

Legal Provisions

The President can declare a National Emergency based on the written advice of the Cabinet. Once declared, it needs to be approved by both Houses of Parliament within one month. The emergency can be extended indefinitely by six-month intervals, with parliamentary approval each time.

Effects on Fundamental Rights

During a National Emergency, the rights conferred by Article 19 (freedoms of speech, assembly, etc.) are automatically suspended. Additionally, the President may suspend the right to move court for the enforcement of other rights as well.

Historical Events of National Emergency

India has witnessed the proclamation of National Emergency three times:

  1. 1962 Indo-China War: The first instance was in 1962 during the Indo-China War.
  2. 1971 Indo-Pakistan War: The second instance was in 1971 during the Indo-Pakistan War.
  3. 1975 Internal Disturbance: The third instance was in 1975, proclaimed by President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed under advice from Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

The National Emergency provision is a powerful tool in the hands of the government, allowing it to take swift and effective measures in times of grave crisis. However, the misuse of this provision, especially during the 1975 Emergency, has led to a careful revaluation of the laws governing its application.

2. State Emergency or President’s Rule (Article 356):

Imposed if the constitutional machinery in a state fails.

Also known as President’s Rule, a State Emergency can be declared if the President, upon receipt of a report from the Governor of the State, is satisfied that the government of the State cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. During such an emergency, the President can assume all or any of the functions of the State government, and Parliament can make laws for the State. The proclamation must be approved by both Houses of Parliament within two months, and can be extended for a maximum period of three years with the approval of Parliament every six months.


President’s Rule refers to the suspension of a state government and the imposition of direct Union government rule in a state. This provision, under Article 356 of the Constitution of India, is invoked if a state government is unable to function according to Constitutional provisions. The Union government then takes direct control of the state machinery. The executive authority is exercised through the centrally appointed governor, who has the authority to appoint other administrators to assist them. These administrators are usually nonpartisan retired civil servants.

Legal Provisions

When a state government is functioning correctly, it is run by an elected Council of Ministers responsible to the state’s legislative assembly (Vidhan Sabha). The council is led by the chief minister, who is the chief executive of the state; the Governor is only a constitutional head. However, during President’s Rule, the Council of Ministers is dissolved, vacating the office of Chief Minister. Furthermore, the Vidhan Sabha is either prorogued or dissolved, necessitating a new election.

Landmark Cases

The Supreme Court of India, in the 1994 landmark judgment in S. R. Bommai v. Union of India, restricted arbitrary impositions of President’s Rule. This judgment has played a significant role in curbing the misuse of Article 356 of the Constitution of India.

Incidents of President’s Rule in India

President’s Rule has been imposed in a state under various circumstances, such as:

  1. A state legislature is unable to elect a leader as chief minister for a time prescribed by the Governor of that state.
  2. Breakdown of a coalition leading to the Chief minister having minority support in the house and the Chief minister fails/will definitely fail to prove otherwise, within a time prescribed by the Governor of that state.
  3. Loss of majority in the assembly due to a vote of no-confidence in the house.
  4. Elections postponed for unavoidable reasons like war, epidemic, pandemic or natural disasters.
  5. On the report of the Governor of the state if said state’s Constitutional machinery or legislature fails to abide by Constitutional norms.

Chhattisgarh and Telangana are the only states where the President’s rule has never been imposed so far.

President’s Rule and the Emergency Imposed by Indira Gandhi

The imposition of President’s Rule has often been a subject of controversy and debate. One of the most notable instances of its imposition was during the Emergency period from 1975 to 1977 under the Prime Ministership of Indira Gandhi. The period witnessed an unprecedented curtailment of civil liberties and democratic rights. The misuse of President’s Rule during this period led to significant changes in its application post the Emergency era.


While the provision for President’s Rule is necessary for maintaining the constitutional integrity of the nation, its misuse has often led to criticisms and calls for reform. The landmark judgment in the S. R. Bommai case was a significant step towards preventing its arbitrary imposition. However, the debate around its necessity and potential for misuse continues to be a significant part of discussions on Indian polity.

3. Financial Emergency (Article 360):

Declared when the financial stability or credit of India or any part of its territory is threatened.

A Financial Emergency can be declared if the President is satisfied that the financial stability or credit of India or any part of it is threatened. During such an emergency, the executive authority of the Union extends to giving directions to any State to observe certain specified canons of financial propriety, and the President can issue directions for the reduction of salaries and allowances of all or any class of persons serving in the State.


A Financial Emergency is a situation where the financial stability or credit of India or any part of its territory is threatened. This provision is laid down under Article 360 of the Indian Constitution.

Legal Provisions

The President of India has the authority to proclaim a Financial Emergency if he is satisfied that the financial stability or credit of India or any part of its territory is threatened. Unlike the National Emergency, a Financial Emergency does not need parliamentary approval to continue indefinitely.

Effects on the States and the Citizens

During a Financial Emergency, the President can direct the states to observe certain canons of financial propriety and can also direct that all Money Bills or other Financial Bills require his approval before they are introduced in the state legislature. Salaries of government officials can be reduced, including judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts.

Incidents of Financial Emergency

As of now, a Financial Emergency has never been declared in India.


The provision for Financial Emergency is aimed at ensuring the financial stability of the country. While it has never been invoked, it remains an essential tool for the Central Government to intervene in extraordinary financial situations. The checks and balances in its implementation ensure that it cannot be misused without serious cause, reflecting the careful consideration of the framers of the Constitution in balancing power and responsibility.




About Lakshadweep

About Lakshadweep

Lakshadweep is one of the smallest union territory out of all the seven union territories that are there in India. ‘Lakshadweep’ means ‘a hundred thousand islands’ in Sanskrit and Malayalam. It was formerly known by various names such as Laccadive, Minicoy, and Aminidivi Islands. Kavaratti is the capital of Lakshadweep.

Lakshadweep Islands

It is a platoon of 36 islands and is also the principal town of the Union Territories in India. The beauty of this place is popularly known for the enticing and enlivening beaches and lush green landscapes. Hence, because of a number of beaches in its account, most of the population of Lakshadweep is engrossed in fishing and cultivation of coconut.

Out of 36 islands in the group, only 10 have inhabitants namely Amini, Kiltan, Chetlat, Kadmat, Bitra Kalpeni, Agatti, Kavaratti, Kiltan, Andrott and Minicoy. The place appears more of a Muslim’s Union Territory because almost 93% of the population are Muslims. Also, the people there are very quiet and have a much laid back attitude. The area is virtually crime free.

Brief History of Lakshadweep

The group of islands of Lakshadweep are aboriginal and, hence, there are a number of speculations that have been made about the advent of inhabitation on Lakshadweep. Amongst all, one of the earlier references that is worth mentioning, is about the region being in the Periplus of the Eritrean Sea by some anonymous author.

Vasco Da Gama was the first westerner to visit the islands but it was only the Englishmen who explored it further. The Lakshadweep islands have also been greatly mentioned in Ibn-e-Batuta which is a story of an Arab traveler. The islands have been ruled by various powerful rulers such as Tipu Sultan in 1787, Chirakkal family of Cannanore and later on ultimately by the Britishers, who attached the Malabar district of the Madras Presidency.

It was only in 1956 that these islands were segregated from the main administrative units and were formed it into a new union territory by combining all the islands, under the States Reorganization ActClick here for more information on history of Lakshadweep

Geography of Lakshadweep

About Lakshadweep Tourism

Lakshadweep islands spreads up to about 32 square kilometers in area and is an amalgamation of 36 different islands, out of which 26 islands are untouched by human inhabitancy. The lush green islands are rich in vegetation and the beautiful combination of islands are also called as Emerald islands.
It is located in the Arabian Sea and is at a distance of approximately two hundred and twenty four to four hundred and forty kilometers away from the city situated along the coast of the southern state of Kerala, Kochi. Lakshadweep is probably one and the only chain of coral islands in the sub-continent. Click here for more on geography on Lakshadweep

Climate of Lakshadweep

The temperature of the tropical paradise pretty much depends upon its latitudinal positioning and geography on the earth.

In the summers, the temperature ranges from 22 to 35 degrees whereas in the winters the temperature is more or less similar ranging from 20 degrees to 32 degrees. No matter the temperature is a bit on a higher side, the islands have a very pleasing atmosphere whole around the year and manages to lure a large amount of tourists.

The chief rainy season is the Southwest monsoon which starts from late May and extends up to early October. The precipitation is more evenly distributed in the southern islands as compared to the northern islands.

Lakshadweep Tourism

Facts About Lakshadweep Islands

Tourism in Lakshadweep is one of the biggest industry as far as income and employment of the islands is concerned. The tourism of the place is dependent on its physical characteristics, from its vast marine life to its flora and fauna. The tourist department of the islands has paid a lot of attention towards its infrastructure, conservation of its beaches and monuments and construction of newer hotels.

It has a long stretch of coastline which provides a lot of scope for expansion in the field of adventure tourism. It has emerged as one of the most potential water sports destination in India. The department has also established a few water sports institute which offers a facility of sports like canoeing, kayaking, surfing, water skiing, scuba diving, etc.

Major Tourist Attractions in Lakshadweep

  1. Agatti island, Kavaratti
  2. Minicoy island, Minicoy
  3. Lighthouse, Minicoy
  4. Museum, Agatti
  5. Lagoon, Agatti
  6. Urja Mosque, Kavaratti
  7. Kadmat island, Bangaram
  8. The lighthouse, Androth
  9. Juma Masjid, Minicoy
  10. Amini beach, Amini

Shopping in Lakshadweep

This tropical paradise does not guarantee you a big shopping mall or hi-fi shopping complexes for having a retail therapy if the scenic beauty is too less for you. In spite, you will find several roadside stalls which offer you a wide range of souvenirs, vintage coral shells and exciting knick-knacks. Apart all these items, one can also shop for breath taking coconut shell curios, marvelous seashell artefacts and other local handicrafts that you can hardly find anywhere else on the planet.

Moreover, if you are someone who is a marine-life enthusiast, then you might end up carrying some of the colorful fishes back home from the aquarium stores in Lakshadweep.

Kalpeni is among the best place for shopping of souvenirs to take back with you. There is a local handicraft store behind the Koomel resort which sells various wood work items. The most famous is the model of boats using coconut and shrub barks. Also shop for t-shirts from the hosiery unit on the eastern side of island. Click here for more shopping information in Lakshadweep

Lakshadweep Festivals

During the Muslim festivals, Lakshadweep showcases an exuberant culture and tradition. However, there are a number of tribal festivals that are also celebrated with a lot of zeal and energy. The most appropriate place to witness such festivity are the numerous mosques which are present all over the islands. Id-ul-Fitr which is celebrated after Ramadan, is one of all the festivals that is celebrated by everyone present on the island.

Even though you being a tourist, you will find yourself irresistible to be able to be a part of all the exhilarating celebrations going around. The sudden transformation from a calm and peaceful locality into a jubilant and cheerful loud place will surely sweep your feet off the ground.

Food in Lakshadweep

All About Lakshadweep

If you are someone who is a big time fanatic when it comes to sea food, Lakshadweep is the right place for you. You would find a combination of ample of coconut along with the sea food. The island has to offer a number of mouth-watering dishes from a spicy non vegetarian food to healthy vegetarian food.

Since, the island is in close proximity to Kerala, the cuisine of the islands is highly influenced by it. The people of the island have a great inclination towards the coconut water as it is the most abundant aerated drink of the place. Apart from specializing in local food, the restaurants of that place also serve a series of inter-continental dishes such as Chinese, Thai and Korean cuisines.

How to Reach Lakshadweep

About Lakshadweep Islands

The islands are very well connected by the means of sea and air. The administration of the islands operates ships from Kochi to Lakshadweep, having standard voyages. The journey lasts up to 18 to 20 hours. The ships are well-equipped and offer a range of modern accommodation and amenities.
The Agatti Island of the territory is also connected through regular flights from Kochi International Airport. The Kochi airport is connected to all major cities of India. You can also find helicopter services from Agatti to Kavaratti and takes about a time of one and a half hour.

Quick facts about Lakshadweep

Government- District Magistrate
Population as per 2011 census-
Metropolis- 64 Thousands
Density-2,149 per sq km
Area- 32 sq km
Time zone- IST
STD code- 04896
Official language- Hindi, English and Malayalam





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