Archive | September, 2012

‘Indian cinema’s moving towards an exciting phase’

Posted on 26 September 2012 by admin

“Indian television crosses limits of regressive vulgarity on a daily basis. Most of it is not only painfully unwatchable, but also downright dangerous.”

 

 DIVYA KAELEY

 Anand Gandhi betrays a philosopher’s appearance – his salt and pepper hair, eyes that think and a mien that evokes depth. Perhaps true to his demeanor, is his movie Ship of Theseus that explores questions of identity, justice, beauty, meaning and death through the stories of an experimental photographer, an ailing monk and a young stockbroker.

Gandhi is a filmmaker, playwright and artist, interested in philosophy, evolutionary psychology and magic. His work in theatre, television and short cinema has won him several awards in the past decade. He is now engaged in producing contemporary world cinema under his banner Recyclewala Films. Ship of Theseus, his first feature, was showcased on the opening night of the Toronto International Film festival lately. Anand Gandhi talks about his movie and aspirations in an interview with Generation Next.

Q: How did the idea of Ship of Theseus come about?

There have been a few ideas that have been a constant fascination, and with each passing year, the questions have become more holistic. When I felt I was ready to make a feature length film, I wanted to take the opportunity to formulate a complete question of identity and self. Only once we ask the right questions, can we begin to find relevant answers. Who are we? Where do we end and where does our environment begin? How responsible are we of our choices? Can there be absolute laws? Can there be an objective sense of beauty? Can we device a system of complete fairness? I needed to find narratives and situations that could become vehicles for these questions. And that’s how it began.

Q: You grew up in Mumbai and quit college. You are “self-educated”. Why did you quit college? How did you then educate yourself on theatre?

I found myself wasting my time over an education system that was still informed by ideas barely relevant even five decades ago. College education lacked the rigour, critical thought and stimulation that I expected from education. I realised the only way I could educate myself was to drop out of college and pursue a disciplined study of all that was relevant to me. I took up small courses around the country, lived and worked with interesting people, read and traveled extensively, etc. I helped Alok Ulfat found the Mumbai chapter of his alternative theatre movement Avikal – that’s where major theatre training happened.

Q: How did you choose the starcast of the film?

Sohum Shah came by for an audition and surprised all of us with his extremely invisible method. We decided immediately to cast him for the four films we were planning at that time. SOT is the first one of those four. Aida Elkashef is a filmmaker, who had come down to Mumbai to help me in the casting process. She would sit in for the photographer’s part while we auditioned actors for the part eventually played by Faraz Khan. The character really became her, and after a point we just could not imagine anybody pulling it off so well. We shot with Neeraj for over five months, through which he lost about 38 pounds to reflect the character’s fast-unto-death. All the other actors in the film are friends who do not think of themselves only as actors – they are writers, artists, thinkers, directors, even lawyers and doctors.

Q: How far are the incidents/parts of the film inspired by your life, or let’s say, have you come across people you’ve created in the film?

It’s the inner journeys of the characters, rather than incidents that are more reflective of my personal journey. I have found myself, at various points in my life, in the shoes of each one of my characters. These are also stories and dilemmas that have resonated with my friends, while I have had the privilege to be on the outside and see them make their life choices.

Q: Your short films have always dealt with quite deep issues like cyclic causality or the continuum of life and death. Is philosophy a constant refrain in your work? Is it a reflection of your own dilemmas?

We are living in a time of heightened scientific discovery. Technology is advancing at an accelerating rate. So much so, that most of us don’t know how to make sense of all the data that the greatest of scientific inquiries are producing. As an artist and a filmmaker, I like to assimilate this constantly renewed scientific information and make sense of it. Narrative fiction, dramaturgy, the moving image and the cinematic montage collectively form a great medium of appropriating these ideas. I often wonder if Buddha was around today, would he not have been a filmmaker too?

Q: You’ve also written the sreenplay for two best-selling soaps for Indian TV – Kyunki… and Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki. What’s your observation about Indian television?

Indian television crosses limits of regressive vulgarity on a daily basis. Most of it is not only painfully unwatchable, but also downright dangerous. It is financed by the advertising of cosmetic companies trying to sell the notion of centrespread beauty or one or other bourgeoisie aspiration to the unsuspecting and susceptible majority. I wrote the shows when I was 19, and wanted to see if I had it in me to be able to write manipulative fiction meant for mass consumption. It was rather easy and irresponsible. I really hope that TV in India changes for the better, and I would love to contribute to that change.

Q: Who are the filmmakers you are inspired by? 

Michael Haneke, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Andrei Tarkovsky, Tarr Bela, Roy Andersson, Terrence Malick, Emir Kusturica, Lars von Trier, Jacques Tati, Abbas Kiarostami…

Q: Can we say that Bollywood is moving away from so-called commercial cinema to a more meaningful and edgy one?

I would hope it does, but I don’t think it is yet. Bollywood is just a genre of Indian cinema. So I don’t know how much it’s capable of evolving further. Indian cinema, on the other hand, is definitely moving towards a very exciting phase.

Q:How do you find the South Asian audience here responding to your film?

I think audiences overall, South Asian, Canadian, international, are responding really well to the film. I think South Asian audiences especially have been thirsting for cinema that can resonate with them at a deeper level. They find the film relevant and meaningful, I believe. I have had people hugging me on the streets in the last few days in Toronto, for making the film I have. It’s been very validating.

Q: What made you so inclined towards Gandhian philosophy and creative arts? Is it family? 

I come from a secular middleclass trading community. I have been raised on a high dose of popular culture. Critical thinking and questioning was always encouraged, and there was a great freedom of expression, and enthusiasm for art, even though nobody was an artist in the family. I would imagine all of that contributed to me becoming who I am today.

 Q: Something about your next project..

I am producing and have co-written Rahi Barve’s period mood horror film Tumbad again starring Sohum Shah. I am hoping to finish a screenplay I have been writing in the next month or so. I have a deadline from my financer to start shooting the film by January.

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More and More Canadians turning to Self-Employment

Posted on 26 September 2012 by admin

More and more young Canadians are turning toward self-employment in the way of starting up their own businesses. A recently report released indicates that more than half a million Canadians have started their own companies in the last two years. Most start-ups are in the sectors of education and healthcare.

Trends suggest that the number of self-employed entrepreneurs will rise in the next decade. People in their 50s are more inclined to start their own businesses as they have more resources and contacts to rely on. Moreover, Generation Next of Canada is cynical about corporate culture, pensions and so on.

The report comes at a time when municipalities like City of Brampton encourage youth to be entrepreneurs by offering them mentorship programs. Young Canadians delve into the real world of business in these programs. Through Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF), Ontario government is also providing mentoring, business coaching, start-up loan financing and other resources for entrepreneurs aged 18-39.

Programs are also available from the federal government so that young Canadians can convert their innovative ideas into jobs for themselves as well as more Canadians. The federal government has invested $20 million in funding over two years to help CYBF assist Canadian entrepreneurs.

It has been widely noted that small businesses drive Canada’s economy. About 98 per cent of Canadian businesses are small and medium enterprises, making up about two-thirds of the private sector workforce. nt:� } rl�� X� r:black; mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA’>French embassies, consulates, cultural centres and international French schools in some 20 countries will be closed till Friday as a precaution. mu � e �� X� o-bidi-font-family:Arial; color:black’>•    Reduces anxiety, depression and stress

 

•    Increases energy, immune function, concentration, weight loss and fitness

•    Lowers the risk of diabetes, heart attack and colon cancer

“The South Asian population, like all Canadians, needs more awareness about the importance of getting in touch with nature,” says Jasleen Kaur, from Progressive Intercultural Community Services. “We hope this fun campaign focusing on the Punjabi community will help the message stick.”

Challenge participants will be entered into a contest to win two tickets to hear David Suzuki speak at the PICS 25th Anniversary Celebration on November 2 in Surrey, B.C.

There will also be a nature walk and discussion on the health benefits of going outside every Sunday of the campaign (September 23 and 30, October 7 and 14) at the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey at 1p.m. s (� e �� X� et. The 20,000thperson to get a PR card under CEC program is an Indian, Gaurav Gore.

 

Nonetheless, in the Canadian economy where people are afraid of getting pink slip whether they are in public or private sector, what is to stop some of these permanent residents from obtaining a Canadian PR card and leaving Canada for booming economies like India, China and Brazil.

Minister Kenney acknowledges that some of these economic migrants may return.

“One of the problems our system has had is too many economic immigrants have returned to their countries of origin after they failed to find jobs in Canada which is why our overall immigration reforms are designed to better connect immigrants to employers and increasingly to rely on job offers from employers as the key factor in selecting economic immigrants..there’s always a chance they might get laid off and have to look elsewhere, but it’s much better from an economic and human point of view to ask someone to stay when he has a good paying job than to bring in someone from abroad who has no job lined up, whose degree will not be recognized by Canadian employers, who has no Canadian work experience..what is better: to have someone earning $70,000 per year or some poor fellow driving a taxi?,” Minister Kenney said.

In the past few years, Minister Kenney has noted several times that more and more economic migrants are moving to economically booming Canadian provinces like Alberta and Saskatchewan.

“The number of primary immigrants going directly to Saskatchewan has quadrupled in the past 6 years and it’s doubled in Alberta. That is in part because of the strong economy but also because of the expansion of our Provincial Nominee program,” said Minister Kenney.

 

“We now have a proper distribution of immigrants across the country rather than the overwhelming majority going to our three biggest cities. The immigrants going through the program are doing very well economically and so this means better income and opportunity for the immigrants and [it] also helps the overall economy facing skill shortages,” he further added.

As for the much discussed Canada Ontario Immigration Act (COIA) during last year’s Ontario’s elections, Minister Kenney stated that “if the Ontario government wants to sign an agreement with us, we are happy to do so. The ball is in their court.”

He noted that if Ontario government was “serious about the settlement funding,” it would have tripled the settlement funding like his government has. The Minister also said that theOntariogovernment is asking the federal government to send them a cheque for $300 million “without asking them [theOntariogovernment] any questions. We just don’t take that seriously. I think they should put their money where their mouth is.”

Although Minister Kenney has reiterated that his government has increased the number of people in Family Class, many people are sceptical of the government’s motives.

“On average we’ve admitted 65,000 parents and grandparents, spouses and children per year. And that is an addition to the independent economic immigrants. Overall 180,000 immigrants were admitted last year just who were dependants and sponsored family members…So this is the most pro-family immigration government in Canadian history and that is not an opinion but a statistical fact,” said Immigration Minister.

He also said that by the time new sponsorship applications are accepted this year, the backlog to processing parents and grandparental sponsorship applications will be reduced by half to wait times of about four years.

While the Minister has not determined exactly what criteria will be established for parental and grandparental sponsorships, Minister Kenney explicitly expressed that “there will be new criteria because we cannot continue taking 40-50,000 applications.”

Minister Kenney said that unlike Liberals who accepted “applications and fees, and just stockpiling them for a couple of decades,” his government has decided to take the honesty is the best policy route.

He says “..let’s admit those whose families have the best ability to take care of them.” He believes that imposing higher language efficiency is unreasonable for “older people,” however “we have mused about some kind of contribution to healthcare cost, possibly higher minimum income or demonstrating that you’ve met the minimum income requirement for a longer period of time. Perhaps doing whatAustraliadoes in requiring that you get priority processing if the majority of your children are living inCanadaas opposed to one child.”

Minister Kenney noted that the “limited criteria for the sponsorship of parents in the future will be offset by the Super Visa which is a huge success,” with processing time of seven weeks only.

Since the Conservative government has made changes to citizenship test, some settlement agencies like Afghan Women’s Organization have noted that immigrants are having hard time passing the citizenship test.

In response to the question about citizenship test, Minister Kenney responded “we do monitor that [citizenship tests] very closely and when we see that a particular question is getting an inordinately high failure rate, we go back and revise it. Periodically, about twice a year, we are revising the questions. On the flip side of this, when we have a question series that has been in place for several months, we find that the consultants learn what the questions are and put together kits to sell to the applicants, so they memorize and answer..we find that the initial pass rate is over 80%; the problem with the old system is that it had a 98% pass rate and many immigrants told me the questions were insulting because they were meant for schoolchildren.”

In the Fall session of Parliament, Harper government is introducing an 800 page legislation. Are some of the immigration reforms part of this legislation?

“Well we already have Bill C 43, the Fast Removal of Foreign Criminals Act that we hope to pass this Fall..but most of the changes we’ve made and are making will be on the operational side, implementing legislation that has already been passed,” stated Minister Kenney.

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Now Prophet Mohammed’s cartoons in French magazine sparks new protests

Posted on 26 September 2012 by admin

 Paris: The controversy of the anti-Islam film is yet to settle down but a French magazine sparked another round of protests after publishing a series of provocative cartoons showing a nude Prophet Mohammed. These cartoons have further fanned the flames after a wave of Muslim protests over an anti-Islam film.

More than 30 people have been killed in attacks or violent protests linked to the controversial US-made film “Innocence of Muslims”, including 12 people who died in an attack by a female suicide bomber in Afghanistan on Tuesday.

French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo published cartoons caricaturing the Muslim prophet, including one showing his naked buttocks.

The magazine’s editor, originally a cartoonist who uses the name Charb, said the images would “shock those who will want to be shocked”.

“The freedom of the press, is that a provocation?” he said. “I’m not asking strict Muslims to read Charlie Hebdo, just like I wouldn’t go to a mosque to listen to speeches that go against everything I believe.”

French embassies, consulates, cultural centres and international French schools in some 20 countries will be closed till Friday as a precaution. mu � e �� X� o-bidi-font-family:Arial; color:black’>•    Reduces anxiety, depression and stress

 

•    Increases energy, immune function, concentration, weight loss and fitness

•    Lowers the risk of diabetes, heart attack and colon cancer

“The South Asian population, like all Canadians, needs more awareness about the importance of getting in touch with nature,” says Jasleen Kaur, from Progressive Intercultural Community Services. “We hope this fun campaign focusing on the Punjabi community will help the message stick.”

Challenge participants will be entered into a contest to win two tickets to hear David Suzuki speak at the PICS 25th Anniversary Celebration on November 2 in Surrey, B.C.

There will also be a nature walk and discussion on the health benefits of going outside every Sunday of the campaign (September 23 and 30, October 7 and 14) at the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey at 1p.m. s (� e �� X� et. The 20,000thperson to get a PR card under CEC program is an Indian, Gaurav Gore.

 

Nonetheless, in the Canadian economy where people are afraid of getting pink slip whether they are in public or private sector, what is to stop some of these permanent residents from obtaining a Canadian PR card and leaving Canada for booming economies like India, China and Brazil.

Minister Kenney acknowledges that some of these economic migrants may return.

“One of the problems our system has had is too many economic immigrants have returned to their countries of origin after they failed to find jobs in Canada which is why our overall immigration reforms are designed to better connect immigrants to employers and increasingly to rely on job offers from employers as the key factor in selecting economic immigrants..there’s always a chance they might get laid off and have to look elsewhere, but it’s much better from an economic and human point of view to ask someone to stay when he has a good paying job than to bring in someone from abroad who has no job lined up, whose degree will not be recognized by Canadian employers, who has no Canadian work experience..what is better: to have someone earning $70,000 per year or some poor fellow driving a taxi?,” Minister Kenney said.

In the past few years, Minister Kenney has noted several times that more and more economic migrants are moving to economically booming Canadian provinces like Alberta and Saskatchewan.

“The number of primary immigrants going directly to Saskatchewan has quadrupled in the past 6 years and it’s doubled in Alberta. That is in part because of the strong economy but also because of the expansion of our Provincial Nominee program,” said Minister Kenney.

 

“We now have a proper distribution of immigrants across the country rather than the overwhelming majority going to our three biggest cities. The immigrants going through the program are doing very well economically and so this means better income and opportunity for the immigrants and [it] also helps the overall economy facing skill shortages,” he further added.

As for the much discussed Canada Ontario Immigration Act (COIA) during last year’s Ontario’s elections, Minister Kenney stated that “if the Ontario government wants to sign an agreement with us, we are happy to do so. The ball is in their court.”

He noted that if Ontario government was “serious about the settlement funding,” it would have tripled the settlement funding like his government has. The Minister also said that theOntariogovernment is asking the federal government to send them a cheque for $300 million “without asking them [theOntariogovernment] any questions. We just don’t take that seriously. I think they should put their money where their mouth is.”

Although Minister Kenney has reiterated that his government has increased the number of people in Family Class, many people are sceptical of the government’s motives.

“On average we’ve admitted 65,000 parents and grandparents, spouses and children per year. And that is an addition to the independent economic immigrants. Overall 180,000 immigrants were admitted last year just who were dependants and sponsored family members…So this is the most pro-family immigration government in Canadian history and that is not an opinion but a statistical fact,” said Immigration Minister.

He also said that by the time new sponsorship applications are accepted this year, the backlog to processing parents and grandparental sponsorship applications will be reduced by half to wait times of about four years.

While the Minister has not determined exactly what criteria will be established for parental and grandparental sponsorships, Minister Kenney explicitly expressed that “there will be new criteria because we cannot continue taking 40-50,000 applications.”

Minister Kenney said that unlike Liberals who accepted “applications and fees, and just stockpiling them for a couple of decades,” his government has decided to take the honesty is the best policy route.

He says “..let’s admit those whose families have the best ability to take care of them.” He believes that imposing higher language efficiency is unreasonable for “older people,” however “we have mused about some kind of contribution to healthcare cost, possibly higher minimum income or demonstrating that you’ve met the minimum income requirement for a longer period of time. Perhaps doing whatAustraliadoes in requiring that you get priority processing if the majority of your children are living inCanadaas opposed to one child.”

Minister Kenney noted that the “limited criteria for the sponsorship of parents in the future will be offset by the Super Visa which is a huge success,” with processing time of seven weeks only.

Since the Conservative government has made changes to citizenship test, some settlement agencies like Afghan Women’s Organization have noted that immigrants are having hard time passing the citizenship test.

In response to the question about citizenship test, Minister Kenney responded “we do monitor that [citizenship tests] very closely and when we see that a particular question is getting an inordinately high failure rate, we go back and revise it. Periodically, about twice a year, we are revising the questions. On the flip side of this, when we have a question series that has been in place for several months, we find that the consultants learn what the questions are and put together kits to sell to the applicants, so they memorize and answer..we find that the initial pass rate is over 80%; the problem with the old system is that it had a 98% pass rate and many immigrants told me the questions were insulting because they were meant for schoolchildren.”

In the Fall session of Parliament, Harper government is introducing an 800 page legislation. Are some of the immigration reforms part of this legislation?

“Well we already have Bill C 43, the Fast Removal of Foreign Criminals Act that we hope to pass this Fall..but most of the changes we’ve made and are making will be on the operational side, implementing legislation that has already been passed,” stated Minister Kenney.

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Internationally acclaimed environmentalist David Suzuki will do the bhangra for Punjabi By Nature

Posted on 26 September 2012 by admin

VANCOUVER – David Suzuki is ready to become a bhangra star to inspire the South Asian community and all Canadians to spend time in nature. People who sign up between September 17 and October 14 for the Punjabi by Nature challenge, a joint effort of the David Suzuki Foundation and Progressive Intercultural Community Services (PICS), get to vote on the dance move he’ll learn.

The challenge is to spend 30 minutes outside every day for the next month. David Suzuki will show off his dancing skills by demonstrating the move that gets the most votes at the end of the challenge.

“Spending time outdoors is good for our health, head and happiness. We want to raise awareness about the benefits of spending time in nature within cultural communities across Canada,” says Harpreet Johal, from the David Suzuki Foundation. “Punjabi by Nature helps get people outside and celebrates the Punjabi culture of bhangra.”

More Canadians live in cities than ever before in history. The average person is indoors more than 90 per cent of the time and spends more than six hours a day in front of screens.

Studies show that getting outside:

•    Reduces anxiety, depression and stress

•    Increases energy, immune function, concentration, weight loss and fitness

•    Lowers the risk of diabetes, heart attack and colon cancer

“The South Asian population, like all Canadians, needs more awareness about the importance of getting in touch with nature,” says Jasleen Kaur, from Progressive Intercultural Community Services. “We hope this fun campaign focusing on the Punjabi community will help the message stick.”

Challenge participants will be entered into a contest to win two tickets to hear David Suzuki speak at the PICS 25th Anniversary Celebration on November 2 in Surrey, B.C.

There will also be a nature walk and discussion on the health benefits of going outside every Sunday of the campaign (September 23 and 30, October 7 and 14) at the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey at 1p.m. s (� e �� X� et. The 20,000thperson to get a PR card under CEC program is an Indian, Gaurav Gore.

Nonetheless, in the Canadian economy where people are afraid of getting pink slip whether they are in public or private sector, what is to stop some of these permanent residents from obtaining a Canadian PR card and leaving Canada for booming economies like India, China and Brazil.

Minister Kenney acknowledges that some of these economic migrants may return.

“One of the problems our system has had is too many economic immigrants have returned to their countries of origin after they failed to find jobs in Canada which is why our overall immigration reforms are designed to better connect immigrants to employers and increasingly to rely on job offers from employers as the key factor in selecting economic immigrants..there’s always a chance they might get laid off and have to look elsewhere, but it’s much better from an economic and human point of view to ask someone to stay when he has a good paying job than to bring in someone from abroad who has no job lined up, whose degree will not be recognized by Canadian employers, who has no Canadian work experience..what is better: to have someone earning $70,000 per year or some poor fellow driving a taxi?,” Minister Kenney said.

In the past few years, Minister Kenney has noted several times that more and more economic migrants are moving to economically booming Canadian provinces like Alberta and Saskatchewan.

“The number of primary immigrants going directly to Saskatchewan has quadrupled in the past 6 years and it’s doubled in Alberta. That is in part because of the strong economy but also because of the expansion of our Provincial Nominee program,” said Minister Kenney.

“We now have a proper distribution of immigrants across the country rather than the overwhelming majority going to our three biggest cities. The immigrants going through the program are doing very well economically and so this means better income and opportunity for the immigrants and [it] also helps the overall economy facing skill shortages,” he further added.

As for the much discussed Canada Ontario Immigration Act (COIA) during last year’s Ontario’s elections, Minister Kenney stated that “if the Ontario government wants to sign an agreement with us, we are happy to do so. The ball is in their court.”

He noted that if Ontario government was “serious about the settlement funding,” it would have tripled the settlement funding like his government has. The Minister also said that theOntariogovernment is asking the federal government to send them a cheque for $300 million “without asking them [theOntariogovernment] any questions. We just don’t take that seriously. I think they should put their money where their mouth is.”

Although Minister Kenney has reiterated that his government has increased the number of people in Family Class, many people are sceptical of the government’s motives.

“On average we’ve admitted 65,000 parents and grandparents, spouses and children per year. And that is an addition to the independent economic immigrants. Overall 180,000 immigrants were admitted last year just who were dependants and sponsored family members…So this is the most pro-family immigration government in Canadian history and that is not an opinion but a statistical fact,” said Immigration Minister.

He also said that by the time new sponsorship applications are accepted this year, the backlog to processing parents and grandparental sponsorship applications will be reduced by half to wait times of about four years.

While the Minister has not determined exactly what criteria will be established for parental and grandparental sponsorships, Minister Kenney explicitly expressed that “there will be new criteria because we cannot continue taking 40-50,000 applications.”

Minister Kenney said that unlike Liberals who accepted “applications and fees, and just stockpiling them for a couple of decades,” his government has decided to take the honesty is the best policy route.

He says “..let’s admit those whose families have the best ability to take care of them.” He believes that imposing higher language efficiency is unreasonable for “older people,” however “we have mused about some kind of contribution to healthcare cost, possibly higher minimum income or demonstrating that you’ve met the minimum income requirement for a longer period of time. Perhaps doing whatAustraliadoes in requiring that you get priority processing if the majority of your children are living inCanadaas opposed to one child.”

Minister Kenney noted that the “limited criteria for the sponsorship of parents in the future will be offset by the Super Visa which is a huge success,” with processing time of seven weeks only.

Since the Conservative government has made changes to citizenship test, some settlement agencies like Afghan Women’s Organization have noted that immigrants are having hard time passing the citizenship test.

In response to the question about citizenship test, Minister Kenney responded “we do monitor that [citizenship tests] very closely and when we see that a particular question is getting an inordinately high failure rate, we go back and revise it. Periodically, about twice a year, we are revising the questions. On the flip side of this, when we have a question series that has been in place for several months, we find that the consultants learn what the questions are and put together kits to sell to the applicants, so they memorize and answer..we find that the initial pass rate is over 80%; the problem with the old system is that it had a 98% pass rate and many immigrants told me the questions were insulting because they were meant for schoolchildren.”

In the Fall session of Parliament, Harper government is introducing an 800 page legislation. Are some of the immigration reforms part of this legislation?

“Well we already have Bill C 43, the Fast Removal of Foreign Criminals Act that we hope to pass this Fall..but most of the changes we’ve made and are making will be on the operational side, implementing legislation that has already been passed,” stated Minister Kenney.

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‘Regulatory changes have a perspective of immigrants’

Posted on 26 September 2012 by admin

“If the Ontario government wants to sign an agreement with us, we are happy to do so. The ball is in their court.”

“..when we have a question series that has been in place for several months, we find that the consultants learn what the questions are and put together kits to sell to the applicants, so they memorize and answer..”

“…limited criteria for the sponsorship of parents in the future will be offset by the Super Visa which is a huge success..”

By Asma Amanat

Since the Conservative government came into power, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney has been busy making immigration reforms to Canada’s broken system.

In the past year alone, the Minister has introduced and passed the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, modernized Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and introduced the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act.

Among the regulatory changes were banning the parental and grandparental sponsorships for two years, introducing super visa for parents and grand parents, taking action against marriage fraud, cracking down on crooked immigration representatives, combating residence fraud in the citizenship and permanent residence programs, and reforming the Interim Federal Health Program.

Among the proposed changes are programs like FSWP, Federal Skilled Trades Program, the Canadian Experience Class and the Live-in Caregiver Program.

We asked Minister Kenney if he is concerned about getting some of these reforms wrong.

 “ I am confident that all of these reforms will result in a better, more efficient, better administered system with better economic results for newcomers,” he responded.

He added that “everything we’re doing has been based on consultation. All the regulatory changes have had public input and perspective of immigrant communities.” As an example he cited marriage fraud.

In 2009, Harper government introduced Canadian Experience Class (CEC). The goal was to give an opportunity to people who have international student visas or temporary work visas to obtain permanent resident status quickly, without these people having to go back to their home countries. In 2009, the target was to give 9,000 people permanent resident status under CEC, but only 2,500 people got the PR card. 2012’s target is about 10,000 people. Minister Kenney is hopeful that this year’s target will be met. The 20,000th person to get a PR card under CEC program is an Indian, Gaurav Gore.

Nonetheless, in the Canadian economy where people are afraid of getting pink slip whether they are in public or private sector, what is to stop some of these permanent residents from obtaining a Canadian PR card and leaving Canada for booming economies like India, China and Brazil.

Minister Kenney acknowledges that some of these economic migrants may return.

“One of the problems our system has had is too many economic immigrants have returned to their countries of origin after they failed to find jobs in Canada which is why our overall immigration reforms are designed to better connect immigrants to employers and increasingly to rely on job offers from employers as the key factor in selecting economic immigrants..there’s always a chance they might get laid off and have to look elsewhere, but it’s much better from an economic and human point of view to ask someone to stay when he has a good paying job than to bring in someone from abroad who has no job lined up, whose degree will not be recognized by Canadian employers, who has no Canadian work experience..what is better: to have someone earning $70,000 per year or some poor fellow driving a taxi?,” Minister Kenney said.

In the past few years, Minister Kenney has noted several times that more and more economic migrants are moving to economically booming Canadian provinces like Alberta and Saskatchewan.

“The number of primary immigrants going directly to Saskatchewan has quadrupled in the past 6 years and it’s doubled in Alberta. That is in part because of the strong economy but also because of the expansion of our Provincial Nominee program,” said Minister Kenney.

“We now have a proper distribution of immigrants across the country rather than the overwhelming majority going to our three biggest cities. The immigrants going through the program are doing very well economically and so this means better income and opportunity for the immigrants and [it] also helps the overall economy facing skill shortages,” he further added.

As for the much discussed Canada Ontario Immigration Act (COIA) during last year’s Ontario’s elections, Minister Kenney stated that “if the Ontario government wants to sign an agreement with us, we are happy to do so. The ball is in their court.”

He noted that if Ontario government was “serious about the settlement funding,” it would have tripled the settlement funding like his government has. The Minister also said that theOntariogovernment is asking the federal government to send them a cheque for $300 million “without asking them [theOntariogovernment] any questions. We just don’t take that seriously. I think they should put their money where their mouth is.”

Although Minister Kenney has reiterated that his government has increased the number of people in Family Class, many people are sceptical of the government’s motives.

“On average we’ve admitted 65,000 parents and grandparents, spouses and children per year. And that is an addition to the independent economic immigrants. Overall 180,000 immigrants were admitted last year just who were dependants and sponsored family members…So this is the most pro-family immigration government in Canadian history and that is not an opinion but a statistical fact,” said Immigration Minister.

He also said that by the time new sponsorship applications are accepted this year, the backlog to processing parents and grandparental sponsorship applications will be reduced by half to wait times of about four years.

While the Minister has not determined exactly what criteria will be established for parental and grandparental sponsorships, Minister Kenney explicitly expressed that “there will be new criteria because we cannot continue taking 40-50,000 applications.”

Minister Kenney said that unlike Liberals who accepted “applications and fees, and just stockpiling them for a couple of decades,” his government has decided to take the honesty is the best policy route.

He says “..let’s admit those whose families have the best ability to take care of them.” He believes that imposing higher language efficiency is unreasonable for “older people,” however “we have mused about some kind of contribution to healthcare cost, possibly higher minimum income or demonstrating that you’ve met the minimum income requirement for a longer period of time. Perhaps doing whatAustraliadoes in requiring that you get priority processing if the majority of your children are living inCanadaas opposed to one child.”

Minister Kenney noted that the “limited criteria for the sponsorship of parents in the future will be offset by the Super Visa which is a huge success,” with processing time of seven weeks only.

Since the Conservative government has made changes to citizenship test, some settlement agencies like Afghan Women’s Organization have noted that immigrants are having hard time passing the citizenship test.

In response to the question about citizenship test, Minister Kenney responded “we do monitor that [citizenship tests] very closely and when we see that a particular question is getting an inordinately high failure rate, we go back and revise it. Periodically, about twice a year, we are revising the questions. On the flip side of this, when we have a question series that has been in place for several months, we find that the consultants learn what the questions are and put together kits to sell to the applicants, so they memorize and answer..we find that the initial pass rate is over 80%; the problem with the old system is that it had a 98% pass rate and many immigrants told me the questions were insulting because they were meant for schoolchildren.”

In the Fall session of Parliament, Harper government is introducing an 800 page legislation. Are some of the immigration reforms part of this legislation?

“Well we already have Bill C 43, the Fast Removal of Foreign Criminals Act that we hope to pass this Fall..but most of the changes we’ve made and are making will be on the operational side, implementing legislation that has already been passed,” stated Minister Kenney.

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South Asian Students Respond to Heinous Crimes at York University

Posted on 26 September 2012 by admin

By Gagan Batra

Brampton

“It’s really hard to completely stop the problem, but York should be credited for raising awareness and introducing the Go Safe program last year. It seems like they’re trying to make the campus safer for potential victims.”

“..when things get into the media they are blown up and instead of focusing on fixing the problems, York was more concerned with damage control to protect their reputation than they were with catching perpetrators.”

“I’d asked them [my parents] if I could move out and live on residence a while ago and they flat out said no because of the stories they’d heard about the school. Being a girl makes my situation even worse because I’m consistently getting the same lectures from my parents about staying away from campus parties and from isolated areas.”

The choice of where to continue with your studies after high school is one of the great importance. There are many post-secondary institutions located in the Greater Toronto Area.YorkUniversityis one school in particular that has built up somewhat of a bad reputation. Located in the Steeles and Keele area,YorkUniversityis the largest university, next to theUniversityofToronto, in all ofOntario. Schulich School of Business,OsgoodeLawSchool, andSenacaCollegeare all associated withYorkUniversity, making it a largely populated institution.

Earlier this month during the first week of university classes, there was a sexual assault reported atYorkUniversity. The assault involved an 18 year old female student who had been followed to her residence on campus where she was assaulted by a 19 year old male. The male was later and charged with sexual assault. Needless to say, this unfortunate occurrence did not set the year off to a very positive start.

This recent incident atYorkUniversityis definitely one to be concerned about, especially since it is not the first case of sexual assault on campus. Over the past few years,YorkUniversityhas been the setting for numerous sexual assaults on students, as well as a murder. Much of people’s reluctance in relation to the university’s campus revolves around the crimes that have repeatedly taken place there.

The students ofYorkwere undoubtedly shocked to find out about such a tragic event occurring so early in their school year. Zubair Mumtaz, third year student, explains that he found out about the incident from an email that had been sent out to the entire student body. “They told us what, where and when it had happened. They also said that the police were still investigating.”

Priyanka Monpara, another third year student, explains her initial reaction to the incident on her campus was to be very frightened. “I was shocked that it happened so quickly and early in the school year.” The fact that this case was not the first of the nature to occur on the campus in the past year definitely affected the students’ reactions. When asking Monpara if she was surprised about a sexual assault case having taken place on campus she responded, “I wasn’t surprised at all. I’ve heard one too many stories similar to the incidents occurring in the past year. I somewhat expected to hear about another crime on campus.”

In light of the university’s reputation, Monpara is not wrong in her opinion. Many people share the view that tightening of security and school policies is required when an incident as severe as sexual assault occurs on a university campus. Considering the fact that this incident is one of many to have occurred atYorkin the past few years, one would begin to question the university’s efforts to ensure student safety.

Pavanjit Mahal, third year student atYork, was one to vouch for the university’s efforts to ensure students’ safety. “It’s really hard to completely stop the problem, butYorkshould be credited for raising awareness and introducing the Go Safe program last year. It seems like they’re trying to make the campus safer for potential victims.”

 Mahal explained that the Go Safe program is one where students can ask for a volunteer to escort them from campus to where they need to go late at night. While this program seems like a good place to start, it is definitely not enough to account for the safety of the whole student body at such a largely populated university.

Neil Singh, a student who has recently graduated fromYorkUniversitygave some insight on what it was like on campus when the incidents of sexual assault started becoming more prominent. “When things kept happening, people started questioningYork’s security and they were forced to step up their security, yet the attacks still happened. People would especially hope that the university was a safer place since it has over 50,000 students. Asides from questioning everyone and making them wear their ID cards around their necks like in high school, there wasn’t much they could do. There are just way too many people atYorkat any given time.”

When asked what he thinks the university should do Singh replied, “More security would have made a difference, but when things get into the media they are blown up and instead of focusing on fixing the problems, York was more concerned with damage control to protect their reputation than they were with catching perpetrators.”

Student’s responses to the continually occurring incidents atYorkUniversityare varied. While they are not shocked about all of the crimes taking place on their campus, they are still concerned. But what do the parents think?

 Monpara explains, “My parents are really worried for the students. I’d asked them if I could move out and live on residence a while ago and they flat out said no because of the stories they’d heard about the school. Being a girl makes my situation even worse because I’m consistently getting the same lectures from my parents about staying away from campus parties and from isolated areas.”

While the academics atYorkUniversitymay not differ very much from other Canadian institutions, the campus life does. Security is a major concern for students and parents alike. It is true that most of the negative association with theYorkcampus comes from the reputation it has built up from years of crimes being committed there. From sexual assault to murder, students have been exposed to many stories that have left them both afraid and concerned.

The question is no longer about stopping crimes altogether; crime takes place at all schools in some way, albeit some more serious than others. Now, the issue is about protecting the students and the university as a whole from potential harm. It is time to see when and howYorkUniversitywill react to these many incidents that are responsible for its bad reputation.

By: Gagan Batra

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Baird Wants to Muzzle Canadians – Karygiannis

Posted on 26 September 2012 by admin

The Honourable Jim Karygiannis, Member of Parliament for Scarborough-Agincourt and Liberal Critic for Multiculturalism, was shocked by the answer from the office of the Foreign Affairs Minister. Mr. Karygiannis has written to the Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird, requesting the Canadian government contact the Egyptian government with respect to a list, which includes the names of two Canadians, of people accused of participating in the production of the video, ‘Innocence of Muslims’.

 The comment from the Minister’s Press Secretary was:

 “I’m not sure it does anyone any good to discuss these issues publicly. We’ll certainly be working on this issue privately with the Egyptians.”

 “I cannot believe that the Minister’s office wants the two Canadians to be quiet – their lives may be on the line.” said Mr. Karygiannis. “Why does Baird want to muzzle Canadians who fear for their lives?”

 The names of Nader Fawzy and Jacques Attalla, both Canadian citizens, have been placed on a list, issued by the Egyptian Government, as being involved with the movie ‘Innocence of Muslims’ in its production, promotion and distribution. Mr. Fawzy and Mr. Attalla refute these allegations and say they have no association whatsoever with the movie.

 “What does ‘working on the issue privately’ mean? What assurances do they have that the government will be working on this with the Egyptians?” Mr. Karygiannis asked. “If discussions do happen, will we get regular updates on the progress or lack thereof?”

 Mr. Fawzy and Mr. Attalla claim the list has been sent to the court. If found guilty, they claim the punishment could be death. There is also a danger that the court could offer a reward to anyone who either kills them or returns them to Egypt. They believe they have been targeted because they are members of the Coptic Orthodox faith and have spoken out against the persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt.

 “As usual, Members of Parliament, who are working on behalf of their constituents, are being stonewalled.” Mr. Karygiannis stated. “Once again, Harper and Baird are letting Canadians down. They don’t seem to know how to protect Canadians, so they are trying to sweep it under the rug.”

 Mr. Fawzy is a single parent with three children. Mr. Fawzy visited 42 Division of the Toronto Police Services to give his statement with respect to the threats against him.

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5 tips for the reluctant shopper: How to make shopping for clothes more pleasurable

Posted on 26 September 2012 by admin

By Ruby Latif

Toronto

Fall is just around the corner and the crisp-cool weather we have been having lately has caught me off guard. Last week, I found myself scrambling to find warmer clothes so on the weekend I decided to spend some time alternating my spring/summer wardrobe to my fall/winter clothes. When I undertake the task of flipping my closet, I normally take an inventory of the clothing items I have, the items that I need to replace, and the clothing items that I want to add to my wardrobe for the upcoming season.

I like shopping… I can come up with any reason or rationale to get to the mall; however I have found that my most lucrative shopping trips are the ones I plan for. Most people don’t really plan their shopping trips, which is actually a mistake. Shopping can be frustrating, when you are unsure what you want to purchase. It can also wreak havoc on your wallet, and leave you dazed and confused.

Below are 5 tips for the man or woman who finds shopping a little overwhelming:

  1. Determine what your budget is: Budgets are important not just for shopping but for your everyday life. Your personal clothing budget is dependent on your income, debts and other expenses. My personal budget allots for 3.8- 4.2% of my take-home salary. Debt is not sexy, although we are all guilty of buying items on credit. When you put a budget together and save money for your shopping trips you are more likely to not buy on impulse. To stretch my budget as far as I can, I always shop on sales and comparison shop. I always look for special days or events that the store will have. For example, “Bay Days” is one of the biggest sales for the department store. During the sale, items can be found for up to 40% off throughout the store. When the sale occurs I stock up onLevis and socks and undergarments.

2.    Determine what you need: Taking an inventory of your closet will allow you to figure out what you need to purchase. Try on items that you have not worn in a while. Are they worth keeping or dated and should you donate them to charity? Also think about the days you are rushed in the morning- what item you are always wishing that you had on hand? Make a list of what you need and prioritize so it fits into your budget.

3.    Focus on you: Many people enjoy shopping with friends; however I am a strong advocate of shopping alone. Many of my friends and family will ask me to come with them to pick out clothes or special occasion outfits- when I am shopping with someone else I ensure that the attention is on them and we are focused on the goal. I also like shopping when stores are less crowded, this way you will get more attention from sales associates. I also like shopping at Department stores. My favourite happens to be the Bay. They do not make commission, so when I ask for assistance they do not pressure me into the purchase. Department stores also offer loads of inventory and selection. I also like the fact that I can get all my items under one roof. I am partial to department stores as I spent my high school and undergrad career working in one. Often major chains will require their sales associates to gain knowledge on their products. Employees’ learn about garment care, proper fitting, trends and colour blocking, etc. Certain sales associates can help you find the right fit of a suit, or a bra or tell you what jeans best fit your body type.

4.    Try on clothes: When you finally make it to the store remember to try on clothes before you buy them. Although you might think you are a certain size, many clothing companies fit differently. Jean’s that say they fit a 32” waist can translate into different sizes depending on where the garment sits on a person’s body. Also always try to try items on in a three-way mirror so you can see what the outfit looks like in all angles.

Look for clothes that fit well. Proper fitting garments make you feel good and confident. If your pant length or jacket sleeves are too long then asks the store if they have a tailor on site and have the garment altered.

5.    Invest: I highly recommend that you buy complete outfits rather than pieces, this way you won’t be stuck figuring out what you want to wear with it. Many women designers will come out with a line that’s includes, pants, dress, cardigan, blazer, blouse etc. When you purchase a few of the pieces, they are interchangeable and allow you to take an outfit from work to evening wear. The same can be found with men’s designers. Department stores will display outfits together to make it simple for the purchaser. When you are buying trend items remember that not all trends will suit your body type. Not every guy looks good in a skinny tie or fitted jeans. When following a trend one piece is plenty, there is no need to buy a new wardrobe every season. Also choose a trendy shape or a trendy pattern don’t do both!

Also, look for quality garments, for example a good hem will be double stitched and invisible from the outside. Zippers should be hidden or dyed to match the garment. Patterns should match up on all the seams. Linings should be made of smooth fabrics like rayon as stiff fabric could ruin the way the fabric drapes. When finalizing your purchase ensure you check the labels for product care. It is important to follow clothing maintenance guidelines to keep the longevity of the item. Remember that dry clean only fabrics are more costly to maintain then machine or hand wash items.

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DISORDER AND VIOLENCE IN PAKISTAN

Posted on 26 September 2012 by admin

Dr Hasan Askari

    Pakistan experienced extreme violence on September 21, 2012, when religious and political groups and parties decided to launch a nationwide protest against the controversial Youtube film.       

   Violence manifested in various forms like damage to public and private property, looting of shops, stores and banks and setting them on fire, burning down of four cinema houses in Karachi and petrol pumps, assaults on media teams, and pitched battles with the Police. In Mardan, a church was attacked and damaged. A day earlier, September 20, there were violent protests in Islamabad and the Army was called out to protect the diplomatic enclave that housed most embassies.

   September 21 was a Friday and it was expected that Islamic and opposition parties would engage in public protest after the Friday prayer. The Prime Minister designated the day as the official protest day and declared it a public holiday in order to make sure that the government gets the credit for practical identification with a widely shared cause.

   The protest started in a peaceful manner on September 21 and some groups maintained orderly disposition throughout the day. However, a large number of people gradually turned to violence. The most violent incidents took place in Islamabad/Rawalpindi, Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar that housed U.S. embassy and consulates. A leaderless violent mob was out to destroy anything and everything that came in its way.

  What happened on September 20 and 21, needs to be examined thoroughly because it offers insights into the kind of domestic socio-economic landscape is going to become a routine affair in Pakistan and how the state of Pakistan can descend into chaos.

  These developments manifested once again the polarization in the religious sections of population into those advocating peaceful and moderate approach and those pursuing an aggressive, intolerant and often violent approach for pursuing their religio-political agendas.

   This is not the first time that religiously charged groups used violence to protest for their grievances. The protest against the cartoons six years ago also turned violent in Lahore and some other cities. However, this time violence was more intense because hard line and militant religious groups have become stronger than ever.

   The leaders who called for protest were either totally absent from the streets or they delivered hard-hitting speeches at the beginning of the protest and then returned to their safe hideouts. The Prime Minister who made an appeal for protest should have advised his parliamentarians to be vigilant in their constituencies to keep the protest under limit. None of the influential leaders were seen in the street protest. This left the field to hard line militant groups who created violent mob hysteria.

   The agitation and violence was dominated by the activists of Jamaat-i-Islami, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Ahle Sunnet-wal-Jamaat (formerly Sipah-e-Sahaba), two factions of the JUI and a host of small groups working under the rubric of the Defa-e-Pakistan Council. Some Afghan refugees were found to be active in Peshawar and Islamabad. The madrassa students were also visible in violence. All these groups are sympathizers and supporters of the Taliban. The Sunni Tehrik and its affiliates were also active in the protest but their activists were not seen engaged in violence. Some Shia groups participated in the protest on that day and earlier but their activists were not visible in violence.

   Most violent people were young, between the ages of fifteen to thirty years, influenced by narrow, sectarian and hard line religious discourse. This must also include youth with no regular jobs, no clear hope for their personal future and those looking for some fun and adventure. It is believed that some criminal elements also join such agitation and resort to looting of public and private property.

  Most of these people are socialized into a hard line, narrow sectarian and violence prone purely religious worldview. They have no appreciation of Pakistan as a state, the rights and duties as a citizen and how to interact non-violently with those do not share their worldview. A perceptible hostility towards the outside world, especially the West, is noticeable with a strong notion of persecution of Muslims by non-Muslims.

  Their socio-political and religious identification ladder runs from an individual to Islamic denominational group or Islamic movement to Islamic Ummah. The state and government do not directly figure in it. The relevance of the state and government depends on the extent to which these facilitate the interests and agendas of their Islamic group or movement. Whatever happens around them, including world politics, is a function of religion. Therefore, the state and government are secondary to their religious-sectarian agendas and they can use violence against those who are seen as a threat to their vision of Islam. At times, violence is used to assert their group identity and power. These groups also compete with each other for building support and getting new recruits and they rely on madrassa and mosque networks.

  If the Pakistani state authorities want to save Pakistan from descending into chaos, they will have to identify the hardline and violent groups, their parent religious organizations, their networks and how do they recruit people. If these are separated from the relatively peaceful groups, their role can be contained. It is going to be a difficult task.  A sustained effort is needed to change the mindset of these groups and to make sure that they do not recruit more young people to their worldview. Pakistan’s state authorities should examine carefully the signs of more trouble in Pakistan and that the state is losing the capacity to function as an over-riding and coherent authority, surrendering a lot of space to violent religious group.

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Suu Kyi ‘inspired by Gandhi and Nehru’

Posted on 26 September 2012 by admin

Divya Kaeley

Myanmar’s pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi has described Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru among her “greatest sources” of influence, as she encouraged American students to read the works of India’s Father of the Nation. Suu Kyi, said Gandhi, civil rights activist Martin Luther King and her father and “political mentor” Aung San were all men of principles and she read works by them to keep herself disciplined when she was placed under house arrest by her country’s military dictators.

Addressing a packed hall of students at Columbia University here yesterday, where she got a standing ovation, the 67-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner said she has been very inspired by Gandhi’s writings and strongly urged the students to read his works.

Slamming Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the issue of allowing FDI in multi-brand retail, BJP leader L K Advani today recently said the red carpet was being rolled out for Walmart when it faced protests even in the US and New York City “shut Walmart out”. Advani also said BJP had opposed the measure when NDA was in power.

Slamming Trinamool Congress, Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Sunday said steps like allowing FDI in retail sector, hiking diesel prices and limiting cap on domestic LPG could have been taken earlier if there was no pressure from parties like the one headed by Mamata Banerjee. Ruling out any threat to the UPA government following withdrawal of support by TMC, the senior Congress leader said, “Our government has support of over 300 MPs in the Lok Sabha, including members from parties giving inside and outside support.”

Four days after a bitter split on the issue of forming a party, Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday expressed hope that Anna Hazare will be back with his group in another “three-four months” if it can work honestly in politics. “Some people say Anna has left us. He hasn’t. He is in our hearts. None can take him away from us. It is just that while he believes that politics is a dirty thing, we are of the view that we have to enter politics to clean it.
Meanwhile, chief minister Sheila Dikshit on Sunday slammed activist Arvind Kejriwal and his team for asking Delhi residents not to pay electricity bills and accused them of spreading anarchy in the national capital. If people don’t pay their electricity bills as asked by Kejriwal, then people would have to face consequences, she said.

India is expected to soon seek consultations with the US under the aegis of World Trade Organization (WTO) on visa fee hike for professionals, which discriminates against Indian software companies that send employees to America on short-term contracts.

Although the commerce ministry had internally started the process in April, collecting all the relevant information and data to make a strong case in the WTO is taking time, a senior official told PTI.

BJP Sunday accused the Samajwadi Party of entering into a deal with the UPA government and playing the “communal card” to justify its support to the Congress-led government at the Centre. BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain claimed that people of the country were forgetting the word communalism. ”Barring Assam and Uttar Pradesh, there is no communal strife in the country. There is no communalism especially in NDA-ruled states. People are forgetting the word communalism. But some are using it to serve their political interests,” Hussain said here.

Press Council of India Chairman Markandey Katju on Sunday appealed to the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan to release Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh, who is on death row for over two decades, on humane grounds. “I am appealing to you in the name of humanity to release Sarabjit Singh, who is in a Pakistan jail, and send him back to India as soon as possible,” Katju, a former Superme Court judge, said.

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