Archive | August, 2014

‘Mardaani’ has hit the right chord: Rani

Posted on 27 August 2014 by admin

Actress Rani Mukerji is over­whelmed with the response to her film “Mardaani”. She says the film about women’s empowerment has succeeded in raising awareness as was intended to.

“I am very, very happy. There has been an overwhelming response,” the 36-year-old said here Saturday at the inauguration of defense workshops for municipal schoolgirls.

“Across the globe people have given it a standing ovation, they are clapping. I think it has hit the right chord with ev­eryone irrespective of the gender.

“The fact that we have tried to raise an awareness has been conquered. As team ‘Mardaani’ I am very grateful and hoping that in the coming days we would get to hear many more things,” she add­ed.

Directed by Pradeep Sarkar, “Mardaani” stars Rani as police officer Shivaji Roy, who fights the girl traffick­ing mafia.

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Dia Mirza unveils musical short film ‘B for Braille’

Posted on 27 August 2014 by admin

ACTOR-filmmaker Dia Mirza Monday un­veiled `B for Braille`, a musical short film that aims at promoting Braille literacy in the country, and called it a `benevo­lent initiative`.

An initiative of White Print,India’s first English Lifestyle Magazine in Braille, the film revolves around a 10-year-old visually impaired boy who is in­trigued by a book that he acciden­tally finds leading to a profound connection that he develops with his father’s storytelling.

His earnest connection with books and the stories in them drives his parents in pursuit of a way to teach their child how to read. The innocent joy and hap­piness on their son’s face when his little fingers touch the raised dots, makes them realise the val­ue it would add to his future life.

Praising the effort, Dia said that `B for Braille` is a `benevo­lent initiative`.

`We tend to ignore the issues that don’t concern us directly, but it is important that we introspect and take the more humane step.Readingis something the sighted take for granted while it opens a whole new world for the visually impaired community,` Dia said at the film’s screening at the Light Box Theatre here.

`It’s time we strongly address the lack of awareness that exists, not only promote the beautiful art of reading but help elevate literacy levels. I am extremely proud to be associated with the cause and spread the message of Braille literacy to every part ofIndia,` she added.

Upasana Makati, founder and publisher, White Print, said that the ratio of visually impaired and the literate visually impaired is skewed.

`There is an urgent need to educate and empower, to reach out to smaller towns and villages and generate awareness regard­ing the Braille script.

“Beautiful music, powerful lyrics and some emotional visu­als captured in the film can be the best medium to spread the word. ‘B for Braille’ is our way of taking a step towards making a difference,” saidMakati.

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Smart Move Babe: Alia takes potshot at herself

Posted on 27 August 2014 by admin

SHE became the butt of all jokes following her appearance on Karan Johar’s chat show, but now actress Alia Bhatt has taken a pot­shot at herself via an entertaining video titled “Alia Bhatt – Genius of the Year”, which is gaining popularity on on­line social media.

“So after the ‘Alia Bhatt Jokes’ thing…I decided to FIX my BRAIN! Check this out,” the sport­ing Alia posted on Twitter Monday morn­ing.

A brief description of the YouTube video, uploaded by comedy collective AllIndiaBak­chod (AIB), reads: “What did Alia Bhatt do after the internet turned her into the butt of all jokes? A documentary crew found out…”

The video features Alia herself, with appearances by her father and filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, as well as friends and col­leagues like Karan Johar, Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra.

It begins with a message that reads – “In 2014, a documentary crew follows Alia Bhatt in the aftermath of her ‘Koffee With Karan’ debacle”.

The video, featuring Alia as herself, is a funny fictional take on what the 21-year-old went through after her general knowledge, rather the lack of it, was known to the world when she called “Prithviraj Chauhan” as the country’s President on Karan’s show.

In the video, she is seen talking about how “hurt” she was when instead of searching for “Alia Bhatt hot pics” on Google, people start­ed looking for “Alia Bhatt jokes”.

She then visits a ‘Dumb Belle Mental Gym’, which offers her to take her from “Dolce & Gabbana to ‘Smart like Shabana (Azmi)’”. At the ‘gym’, she reads newspa­pers and her diet is “three portions of news­papers in the morning” and she is instructed to “skip Page 3”. She is made to brush up her knowledge via music, and she lands on “Koffee With Karan” again and stuns host Karan with her answers.

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From The Streets To The Classroom, Omer Aziz Makes His Voice Heard

Posted on 21 August 2014 by admin

By Samuel Getachew

 Omer Aziz is headed to Yale Law School. The 24 year old Pakistani – Canadian Scarborough native has achieved rare achievements in journalism, activism and in the academy. The Queen’s University and Cambridge University graduate, and commentator in such outlets such as The New York Times and The Globe and Mail reflects with Generation Next on his challenges and successes, and shares his experiences on how young people can follow in his exemplary footsteps. 

 To them, he offers this: “There is nothing inspiring about becoming an imitation. Become an original”.

Omer – You are described as a writer and human rights journalist by most. Tell me about yourself?

I grew up writing words. I wrote everything: poetry, fiction, reflections, mostly because I struggled so much with school and I had questions of identity that burned in my mind. There was a disconnect between the immigrant experience my parents had lived and were living, and the second generation experience I was facing. I felt that I was without a narrative, and so I turned to the written word to craft my own.

By the time I got to university, I was fascinated by politics. It was an exciting time, with the 2008 US election in full swing, an election in Canada, a financial crisis. I was 18, trying to make sense of it all, and I thought: I want to help make change.

 One of the areas I’ve focused on over the last few years is human rights abroad, particularly in countries we’ve ignored. I’ve written about the Palestinians, of course, but also about the Kurds in Iraq, and the Shia and Ahmadi in Pakistan. Just a few months ago, I went to a funeral at the Ahmadi community centre in Vaughn. The funeral was for a doctor from Canada who was killed for his religious beliefs on a trip to Pakistan. He was there to provide free medical assistance. When this kind of injustice exists, we have an obligation to speak up. When it happens in our own community, that obligation is made all the more pressing.

 Your academic achievement is rather impressive. You are an award winning student at Queens where you win a Gold medal, a Commonwealth and Pitt Scholar at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom graduating in International Relations and now, you are headed to Yale Law School. Share with me the highlights of your academic career.

Those institutions were great. I learned a lot and met fascinating people. But to be honest with you Samuel, I have never been a classroom type. I think this is part of the reason why I struggled so much with school from junior kindergarten all the way to high school. At Queen’s, there were times where I would be sitting in the back of a lecture hall reading a novel. I know it sounds crazy, but I’ve always preferred to learn on my own.

 The best experiences by far though have been meeting interesting, engaging people who want to change the world, and also debating with members of the political establishment to see what they really think. In the winter of my fourth year at Queen’s, I asked John Baird, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, quite directly about the death toll in Syria and why Canada was not doing more. That was when the death toll was 15,000. It is now closer to 200,000. At Cambridge, I had a discussion with Princess Basmah bint Saud, the youngest daughter of King Saud of Saudi Arabia (115th child to be exact). She’s an activist now, working to improve the lives of women in one of the most misogynistic, sexist, intolerant places in the world for them. But I thought she wasn’t going far enough and should have also been directly challenging the patriarchs running the Saudi mafia. And I let her know that.

 You recently reflected about your young days in Scarborough of how you were “confused and often angry” and where you were headed and would become. Reflect with me those years?

 I was born and raised in Scarborough, and had a tough time growing up. I didn’t know who I was, what I believed, or where I was going. There is a great line in the opening of Ralph Ellison’s novel, Invisible Man, where the author says “I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer.” I was that guy, and I was trying to navigate and make sense of multiple identities: Canadian, Westerner, Pakistani, and Muslim. The racism in school was rampant. I couldn’t go a day without hearing the word ‘Paki’ thrown out and I felt ashamed about who I was. I didn’t have the vocabulary to defend myself, which may be another reason why I turned to words and to activism.

 I’ll never forget the conversation I had with my family about 9/11. How does an eleven year-old even process something like that? Only later on did I draw upon all those frustrations and anxieties, and I resolved to work on issues that matters to ordinary people. I promised myself I wouldn’t just ‘cash in’ once I began doing well in school. I wanted to help.

 You also reflected on the many mentors who helped you along the way. Who were some of your noted mentors and why was mentorship important to you? 

Anyone facing any kind of adversity needs mentors. I was hungry to learn, and I wanted to learn from people with experience. One of my greatest mentors was David Haglund, a professor of International Relations at Queen’s University. I walked into his office one day without knowing him, sat down, and said: “I want to do a thesis with you.” He looked at me and was surprised but said yes. The thesis went on to be published in abridged form by Routledge this year. Another mentor was Stefan Halper, who is at Cambridge. He was once a foreign policy advisor to Ronald Reagan and the first George Bush. We’ve gotten a long quite well, and we’ve worked together on numerous projects, even though I am a big critic of much of what Ronald Reagan did.

 Beyond that, I’m glad to be surrounded by a team of likeminded people who also want to work to make change. Later this fall, we’re launching an advocacy group to put the progressive policy agenda back on the table. Projects like these fire me up.

 In your noted article for the New York Times, you reflected about Qatar’s World Cup 2018 efforts and how despite the unimagined wealth of the Gulf State, the country is benefiting because of migrants that, as you said, “Virtual slaves”. Please explain.

The genesis of that article came from the movie ’12 Years a Slave.’ When I walked out of the theatre, I overheard someone say, ‘Well, at least slavery doesn’t exist anymore!’ Immediately, I thought about the Gulf region and Qatar in particular. I began doing more research and was horrified by what I read. Workers denied basic rights, dying of dehydration, their passports taken from them, their families kept in the dark. These countries pretend to adhere to values of Islamic justice when they themselves are totalitarian outposts. I called up my friend Murtaza, who now works with the journalist Glen Greenwald and recently exposed the NSA’s spying program on American Muslims, and said ‘Do you want to work on this together?’. The New York Times was interested, and we published on the first Monday of 2014.

 What’s happening in the Gulf is slavery, end of story, and Qatar does not deserve to host the World Cup.

 Where do you envision yourself in the next decade?

I see myself doing what I am doing today, just more effectively. I want to be a writer who sheds light on abuses committed against people who lost the birth lottery and I want to be a lawyer who defends people who have had their civil and human rights attacked. I am an idealist at heart, but a realist in thought, so I have no illusions about the obstacles ahead, and about combatting great inequities. It will be difficult, but anything worthwhile is.

 To the South Asians who may want to emulate such a rich and activist journey such as yours, what advice do you have for them?

My advice would be this: find your voice. If you don’t want to be part of the Holy Trinity of careers — doctor, lawyer, engineer — don’t. Become an artist, become a philosopher. Do what fuels you, and don’t be afraid. The financial situation will work out, and your life will be the richer for it. Your parents may not understand, and that’s fine; they come from a different world of struggle and their perceptions are shaped by that struggle. But, ultimately, you have to become yourself. There is nothing inspiring about becoming an imitation. Become an original.

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Oh, You Think the Ferguson Incident Could Never Happen in Canada? Think Again

Posted on 21 August 2014 by admin

Unless you are intentionally ignoring the news you are aware of the fact that a unarmed, innocent 18 year old man was shot to death. He was black, the officer that shot him was white. The police force that this officer is a member of has only three black officers in a population with 70 per cent African Americans. Many Canadians are sitting back smugly stating how horrible and thank goodness that would never happen here, but if you believe this, you live in a bubble. Just look at what happened at York University last week. A hate filled piece was distributed by an anonymous group arguing the school would be better without people of different cultures. Hate isn’t geographical, it is universal and based in fear of differences.

Every city, state, province, business and government in North American needs to face facts, the issue isn’t diversity. Look at the demographics. We are diverse, the issue is inclusion. You can’t have a culture of trust if you don’t listen and include others views and try to understand their cultural beliefs. People only feel included if they feel value and if you are of a different culture in North America it is increasingly difficult to feel valued, whether you are of a different ethnicity, gender or age.

The issue is most people want to cook with the only ingredient they know, the past. The world is diverse, we are in a global economy, if your diverse workforce isn’t heard they too will riot, they might not loot physically but they will become a disturbing element even unintentionally in your workforce.

People who are “different” process information another way because of the experiences that shaped them as they grew into adulthood. Think of how different the young man who was shot experienced his “formative years” from the officer that shot him.

Roadblocks to opportunity are created when people’s fears override their desire do the right thing.

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Break-in in Justin Trudeau’s home raises questions about the leader’s security

Posted on 21 August 2014 by admin

Police are remaining tight-lipped about a prowler who struck the Ottawa home of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau while his family slept inside.

Over the weekend, Mr. Trudeau’s office issued a statement providing a bare outline of the early-morning break-in, which unnerved the family and raised questions about the high-profile leader’s lack of security.

Mr. Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau, and the couple’s three children were sleeping Saturday morning when the intruder slipped into the family home, located in Ottawa’s Rockcliffe Park neighbourhood. Nothing was stolen and nobody was hurt. All that remained was a hand-written “threatening” note.

The RCMP referred all media calls to the Ottawa Police Service. An investigator with the OPS Break and Enter Unit confirmed the incident but would only provide a “No comment” when asked about details of the note, which reportedly warned the Trudeau family to lock their doors.

Mr. Trudeau was working in Manitoba at the time of the break-in before travelling to Montreal to participate in the city’s gay pride festivities. He told reporters there he was “extremely troubled” over the incident and that his family joined him in Montreal on Saturday to avoid staying in the Ottawa home. He plans to spend the next three days in Edmonton for the party’s summer caucus meeting. “We’re a little bit rattled, but we’re hoping that investigation and security will keep us safe in the future,” he told CBC.

The RCMP’s Protective Operations unit is responsible for shielding senior federal leaders, such as the Prime Minister, Governor-General and Leader of the Official Opposition. As head of the third party, Mr. Trudeau isn’t entitled to that security. The Minister of Public Safety, however, does have the authority to add to the list of those requiring protection.

In the wake of the break-in, the RCMP will likely conduct its own threat assessment and offer some level of protection to Mr. Trudeau if the risk is considered legitimate, according to a retired RCMP officer who specialized in VIP protection.

“They will want to determine the validity of the threat, of the note, and then there’s usually a sit-down with the person who’s been threatened,” said Ty Watts, who watched over the entire Trudeau family, including baby Justin, when then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau was in power. Mr. Watts now runs LTD & Associates, a private investigation and security firm.

He said he no longer feels so protective of Mr. Trudeau, now 42 years of age, but suggested the Mounties should take the note seriously. He said the RCMP routinely provide security for MPs and consular officials where there is a legitimate security risk, and Mr. Trudeau would be no different.

“Of course, they could also determine based on the note that the whole thing is a prank. That happens.”

The Trudeaus moved into the rented six-bedroom Georgian home last year. They have dealt with security issues in the past but never on such an alarming scale. Last March, Montreal police arrested a 41-year-old man after receiving a complaint that he was harassing Mr. Trudeau’s family and staff.

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If Qaadri breaks any Canadian laws, police will take action – Deepak Obhrai

Posted on 21 August 2014 by admin

Modi is pro-business, bilateral trade agreements will be signed ‘faster’

The friendship between Canada and India was stronger than ever before and both nations should continue to work to remove the barriers that hinder bilateral trade and investment, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said while addressing a programme to commemorate India’s 68th Independence Day.

“The Government will continue to work to break-down barriers that hinder bilateral trade and investment, and that senior members of our Government will continue to visit India,” Harper said.

In an interview with South Asian Generation Next, Mr. Deepak Obhari, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs said that Prime Minister Harper had congratulated ” the new prime minister on his victory .. and we are looking at it [the relationship between Canada and India] as a new chapter of our relations with India.”

The Government of Canada is counting on Conservative and pro-business Modi government to sign pending trade agreements with Canada faster.

“Mr. Modi of course has a good business background with what he has done in Gujrat,” stated Mr. Obhrai.

The Canadian government had been frustrated with pending trade agreements with India.

” We were indeed [frustrated]..we were a little frustrated with the slow pace of things going due to India’s own situation, but we were confident that we will be able to achieve it .. now that there is a pro business government so we expect it [trade agreements] to move faster,” said MP Obhrai.

By faster how fast does Mr. Obrai mean?

“Faster means that decisions will be made faster after negotiations and we can move faster .. ultimately the negotiations have to be in favour of both countries,” he responded.

In his recent trip to India, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander had extended an official invitation to Prime Minister Modi to visit India.

Earlier this year, MP Obhrai visited India with Governor General of Canada David Johnston where the two governments had signed multiple multilateral agreements.

In recent days some media reports have indicated that Prime Minister Modi’s focus is to establish strong regional ties more so than with the Western or North American countries especially the United States.

Mr. Obhrai laughs off the suggestion stating that ” of course Mr. Modi would want more better relations with regional partners’s good for us .. it’s good for regional stability in the area .. Canada-India relations are Canada-India relations and they are strong.”

He also noted that Canada had offered Mr. Modi a visa even when the United States had denied it to him for riots in Gujrat under his watch.

On Pakistan

Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, who left Toronto in June to return to his hometown of Lahore, had called on thousands of his supporters to march with him to the capital in a bid to oust the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif who is Chief Minister (equivalent to Premier) of Punjab.

Various Pakistani media outlets reported that Government of Pakistan will contact the Canadian government to cancel Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri’s Canadian citizenship.

One newspaper reported

” Punjab government has decided to write a letter to Canadian government for revocation of Tahir ul Qadri citizenship on the grounds that Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief was involved in illegal and unconstitutional activities.

As per private TV channel Punjab government has decided to send letter to government of Canada to cancel the citizenship of Tahir ul Qadri after registration of case against him due to his provocative speeches. Necessary documents have been handed over to the experts for preparation of letter.

Government will adopt the stance in the letter that Tahir ul Qadri was indulged in illegal and unconstitutional activities and he was inciting the people through his provocative speeches. There are cases registered against him and several cases are in the pipeline. Investigations are underway into the matters of tax evasion by him. Therefore his citizenship would be revoked.”

Asked if the Government of Canada has received any letters from the Government of Pakistan over Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri’s involvement in the Pakistani politics, Mr. Obhrai stated “I would rather not comment on it. We do not interfere in the local politics of the government of Pakistan.”

However, Mr. Qadri, who has advised media to address him as Allama Tahir-ul-Qadri, and not Maulana Tahir-ul-Qadri, holds dual citizenship of Canada and Pakistan.

” I know he holds dual citizenship but it’s up to the Pakistani government to decide what laws are broken in Pakistan. He has not broken any Canadian laws,” Mr. Obhrai stated.

Mr. Qaadri has quite a few mosques in the GTA where he is an imam and preaches. Some of the statements he has made in Pakistan condone violence although Mr. Qadri clarified later on that his meaning was misinterpreted.

Is Government of Canada concerned about it?

” There are laws in this country .. if there will be a law broken in this country, we expect the police to take action,” said Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

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Posted on 21 August 2014 by admin

Dr Hasan Askari


 Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf of Imran Khan and Pakistan Awami Tehrik led by Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri reached Islamabad before sunrise on August 16 and staged two separate sit ins there. Both sought the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Both sides have not showed any flexibility in their original demand and the ruling Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz dismissed their demand.

  The most important question to discuss is why after having won the general elections in May 2013, the ruling Muslim League Nawaz has lost good part of popular support and Imran Khan and Dr. Qadri have emerged as powerful to challenge the federal government? This reflects serious problems in the democratic political system in Pakistan. Though Pakistan has a democratic constitution and parliamentary system of government is working, the quality of democracy is poor. In the absence of democratic political culture the political leaders and political parties often violate the basic principles of democracy.

 Every political party claims to support democracy. However, when democracy delivers a judgment that one does not like, the person or the party questions the judgment.

 The fact that two political parties are on protest in Pakistan are threatening to knock out the existing political system. This raises several fundamental issues about the working of the political and constitutional processes.

 Pakistan’s political crisis in August 2014 clearly shows that the holding of general elections at the federal and provincial levels is not enough to ensure internal peace, stability and political continuity.

 Pakistan’s political experience shows that the elections must ensure two things. The election process should be fair, free and transparent. Most contestants feel that the elections had provided them with a good opportunity to elect their government. Different procedures of the elections should be visible to the candidates. If the election process is not fair, free and transparent, the candidates do not accept the results of the elections.

 Winning elections does not necessarily mean that the ruling party is free to exercise power the way it likes and the opposition has to wait till the next general elections. The winning party can control the state power and patronage for sharing with its supporters and activists only. A successful democratic government needs to take with it the opposition parties. Accommodation towards and consultation with the opposition helps to strengthen the ruling party as well as democracy.

 One major problem with Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif has been that they ran the federal and provincial governments as their personal and family empire. Political loyalty was more important than professional competence. The two brothers were not easily available to their party’s federal and provincial parliamentarians. The governance in such a manner alienated a large number of people inside and outside the ruling party.

 The policy of rewarding only close friends and loyalists and excluding all others by Nawaz Sharif can be compared with the policies of Iraq’s former prime minister Nuri Kamal Maliki who appointed personal loyalists to key positions since he assumed the office of Prime Minister in May 2006. His policy of “winner takes all benefits” alienated a large number of people from the ruling coalition. The political leaders belonging to other political parties were totally excluded from the state processes.

 Egypt’s former President Morsi also tried to completely control the state power by appointing his loyalists to all key position and he excluded other sections of politically active people. His government ended up with other political parties’ starting agitation against the Morsi government which was later thrown out by the military. As Morsi had alienated all sections of population, only his close associates protested. Others welcomed the military take-over.

 The bottom line is that in democracy the ruling party has to adopt a policy of sharing some power and accommodating those who do not fully share their political outlook. By accommodating others or adopting a soft approach towards others helps to strengthen government.

 Another lesson from Pakistan’s latest political crisis is that an elected government must perform in the shape of good governance and political management. It must deliver services to the people. If the democratic government cannot address the socio-economic problems of the ordinary people and cannot control prices of essential commodities, it is bound to run into problems.

 The governments in Lahore and Islamabad focused more on publicity oriented projects like building roads, starting bus service and building overhead or underground pathways. These governments also distributed free laptops to students. These projects benefited only a small number of people and the issues that hurt the common people got lesser attention. These problems were inflation and price hikes, shortage of electricity and gas and terrorism and violence. These factors adversely affected the economy which could not produce enough jobs that could accommodate young people in search of livelihood.

 The federal government launched several electricity projects but their output could not be available for the next 3 to 4 years. The Nandipur power project collapsed within a few days of its inauguration.

 The increased problems of the common people made them angry with the federal government.

 Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri and Imran Khan used the problems and especially unhappiness of the common people to mobilize them against the Sharif government.

 Another failure of the Sharif government was that they did not strengthen the political institutions, especially the two houses of the parliament. Nawaz Sharif attended the sessions of the National Assembly rarely. He attended the Senate session in the first year only once.

 The federal government’s established Cabinet Committee on National Defence, later renamed it as the National Security Council, held only three meetings in the first year. This Council was not summoned for launching the military operation in North Waziristan. Instead of holding the meeting of the National Security Council, the civilian and military leaders meet in informal settings. All this shows personalized management.

 Lastly, the federal government could not maintain cordial relations with the military top command on several issues. If the Sharif government wanted to control the military it should have first established a credible civilian government that worked through established state institutions and process. The personalized governance did not work as it reduced the basis of support for the government. It also restricted the state resources to the close associates.

 When Imran Khan and Dr. Qadri started their movements against the federal government, the ruling party and the federal government adopted a dismissive approach. It never attempted to understand how Imran built such a widespread support when he had won little over 30 general seats in the National Assembly. The killing of 14 Qadri supporters and injuring over 80 badly eroded the moral high ground for the Punjab government.

 All these factors created serious threats to the government of Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif within one year of coming to power.

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PM Modi says nation shamed by rape

Posted on 21 August 2014 by admin

Narendra Modi said India had been shamed by a recent spate of rapes, as he made his first Independence Day speech as prime minister.

He called on parents to take responsibility for their sons’ actions, saying parents must teach their sons the difference between right and wrong.

Mr Modi also pledged bank accounts for all and toilets in every school.

The capital has been under a blanket of security, with thousands of police and soldiers deployed across the city.

Mr Modi, who led his party to victory in this summer’s general election, addressed the nation from the 17th Century Red Fort in Delhi.

He did not read from a prepared text and for the first time in many years the prime minister did not stand behind a bullet-proof screen.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first Independence Day address carried some very significant social messages. In a departure from tradition, Mr Modi spoke extempore, without consulting any notes, and in his hour-long speech, did not falter even once.

He talked about societal and family responsibility in ending rapes, advising parents to bring up better sons and not just question daughters. He lamented the skewed sex ratio and appealed to doctors to end abortion of female foetuses and advised mothers not to hanker after sons. And he spoke proudly of the “29 medals women athletes have won” at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Over many years, prime ministers have used their annual Independence Day speeches to warn Pakistan and for grandstanding, but Mr Modi used the historic occasion to say how he was bothered by the all-pervasive filth around him and why India must end open-air defecation and build more toilets.

The address, televised live across the country, received a huge thumbs up with many Indians taking to social media to describe it as “refreshing”, “inspiring” and “impressive”.

But critics have used the occasion to question his performance in the months since taking over as prime minister and his government’s failure to deliver reforms to overhaul the economy going through the worst slowdown in two decades.

It’s a speech not easy to find fault with, but critics say Mr Modi will ultimately be judged on his performance.

Five unusual messages from Narendra Modi

Unlike previous leaders, he did make any grand announcements or criticise arch-rival Pakistan.

Instead, Mr Modi spoke about how growing sex crimes against women had left him ashamed and asked Indians to stop discriminating against female children.

Scrutiny of sexual violence and rape in India has been high ever since a 23-year-old student was gang-raped on a bus in Delhi in December 2012.

The outcry over the crime forced India to introduce tough new laws, but there have since been more high-profile assaults, including a number of attacks on foreign tourists.

“When we hear about these rapes our heads hang in shame,” Mr Modi said.

“Young girls are always asked so many questions by their parents, like ‘where are you going?’. But do parents dare to ask their sons where they are going?” he asked.

“Those who commit rape are also someone’s sons. It’s the responsibility of the parents to stop them before they take the wrong path,” he added.

The prime minister asked MPs and business leaders to help build toilets, especially for women, and model villages.

Mr Modi also talked about turning India into a manufacturing hub and moving from an import-based economy to an export-driven one.

He pledged bank accounts for all in a country where nearly 40% of people have little access to financial services and are often at the mercy of moneylenders who charge extortionate interest.

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Ottawa urged to remove citizenship by birth on Canadian soil

Posted on 21 August 2014 by admin

Officials recommend Ottawa removing citizenship rights to babies born to non-citizens and non-residents even though costs outweigh benefits.

Immigration officials have recommended that Ottawa remove citizenship rights to babies born in Canada to non-citizens and non-residents even though the small number of cases doesn’t justify the costs.

The proposal, marked “secret” and with inputs from various federal departments, found fewer than 500 cases of children being born to foreign nationals in Canada each year, amounting to just 0.14 per cent of the 360,000 total births per year in the country.

The issue of citizenship by birth on Canadian soil once again raises concerns among critics over the current government’s policy considerations being based on ideologies rather than evidence and objective cost-benefit analyses.

“An impartial observer would conclude that the evidence supports no need for change, given the small number of cases. Yet the recommendation supports the government’s public rhetoric and anecdotes on the need for change,” said Andrew Griffith, a former director general for citizenship and multiculturalism at Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and author of Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias.

The Conservative government overhauled the Canadian Citizenship Act earlier this year by further restricting eligibility. However, the “birth on soil” provision was left intact and required further studies.

“Eliminating birth on soil in order to ensure that everyone who obtains citizenship at birth has a strong connection to Canada would have significant cost implications,” said the 17-page report prepared for former immigration minister Jason Kenney, obtained under an access to information request.

“The challenge of communicating this change would be convincing the public that restricting the acquisition of Canadian citizenship is worth that cost, particularly in a climate of deficit reduction.”

The office of Chris Alexander, Kenney’s successor, confirmed that the government is still reviewing citizenship policy with regard to the issue of “birth tourism” — a term referring to foreigners travelling to give birth in Canada so the baby can claim automatic citizenship here.

Dubbed “anchor babies,” these children are eligible to sponsor their foreign parents to Canada once they turn 18. It is unknown how many of them actually return to their birth country with their parents, but it’s believed the number is low.

“As provinces and territories are responsible for birth registration, consultation and co-ordination with the provinces is required,” said Alexis Pavlich, a spokesperson for Alexander.

“Canadian citizenship is an honour and a privilege, and our Conservative government is committed to increasing its value. Birth tourism undermines the integrity of our citizenship program and takes advantage of Canadian generosity.”

Currently Canada and the United States are the only countries to have birth on soil provisions. The United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and most European countries restrict citizenship by birth on soil to children born to parents who are either citizens or permanent residents.

“The potential costs . . . of enforcing this provision, the potential challenges with children being born stateless in Canada and the uncertainty of their status may outweigh the benefits linked to limiting citizenship by birth on soil,” said the government report, which also suggested that the number of anchor babies could be underestimated.

“Discussions with CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency) have indicated that limiting citizenship by birth on soil would likely impact the removals program. It could be more challenging to remove families which have a child born in Canada in terms of getting access to travel documents for that child, regardless of whether or not the child is stateless.”

With input from the Department of Justice, Passport Canada, Foreign Affairs, CBSA and Public Safety, the report suggested Ottawa could issue proof of citizenship to persons born in Canada or have provinces modify birth certificates to indicate citizenship status.

Nevertheless, it recommended the removal of the birth rights by suggesting “there may be some support for a restrictive policy” despite the “significant operational and cost implication” for Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

In the 1990s, the then Liberal government also toyed with the idea of removing citizenship as a birth right but was met with public opposition, and a letter campaign to then immigration minister Lucienne Robillard opposing the plan was launched.

“Canada has signed international conventions that commit us not to make people stateless. There is a very real risk that some children will be stateless as a result of this proposed change,” said the letter signed on by more than 230 national organizations.

“A move to end automatic citizenship for babies sends xenophobic messages to the public,” the letter said. “Such a legislative change would send a message to newcomers about whose children count and whose children are not welcome. It would reinforce feelings of exclusion and marginalization making integration even more difficult.”

Reached regarding Ottawa’s renewed attempt to change the law, Janet Dench of the Canadian Council for Refugees said, “Citizenship by birth in Canada is an important part of the Canadian identity and makes us a better society. When the previous government suggested changing that principle in the 1990s, we found that many Canadians agreed with us that it was a bad idea. It is still a bad idea.”

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