Archive | August, 2015

South Asian women can do more than singing, dancing and academics .. play soccer for instance

Posted on 20 August 2015 by admin


There’s thrill in defending and scoring

Mahima Kuruvila, Captain of westside women’s soccer team

A South Asian women’s soccer team is the start to breaking barriers and stereotypes

Jose Chinnu, Captain of eastside women’s soccer team

With the help of Toronto Malayalee Samajam, South Asian women in the GTA now have played at the first ever South Asian women’s soccer tournament. Mahima Kuruvila is the captain of the West team! Her team brought home the victory in the tournament played on Saturday.

Jose Chinnu, the captain of the eastside team is a full time Chemical Engineer by profession and a part-time volunteer teacher. She comes from a lineage of three generations of educators. Active in piano, dancing, acting, pageants and modelling over the past few years, and presently a titleholder of Miss Malayalee North America 2013 1st-runner up and Miss FOKANA 2014 (Federation of Kerala Associations of North America), Jose believes a woman can never be complete with just these avenues. Saturday’s game “has been a big jump for me – now I am not just a pageant girl, I am also a sports girl.”

Mahima is a student at York University pursuing Health Science degree as a prerequisite before medical school.

In an interview with Generation Next, these young women talked about stereotypes on why there isn’t an organized effort to promote soccer in the South Asian community, about their diet, training and monthly cycles:

Why choose soccer?

Mahima: I chose soccer because I have been playing the sport since I was a young kid. There is nothing like the thrill of running from one side of the field to the other side, all while defending and scoring your most prized possession in the moment – the soccer ball.

Jose: There was no particular reason why I chose soccer. Toronto Malayalee Samajam (TMS) has been holding this annual men’s soccer tournament for the past couple of years. As I had held positions within TMS such as Entertainment Coordinator and Youth Representative for over the past few years, I would come religiously every year to the tournaments to watch. Last year, at the tournament, the idea about forming a women’s team came into my head. I had gotten the chance to put this idea into effect this year. Hence, about a month ago, I initiated this idea during a committee meeting and everybody acknowledged it as a splendid, new idea, LIKE NEVER BEFORE! I steer headed and fulfilled this idea by taking leadership as Captain of the East Side team.

How did your families react to your choice?

Mahima: My family is very supportive of my decision, they encouraged me to take on the captain role and were more than happy to help me out in any way they could have. My whole family came out on game day with signs that supported our team and were the best cheerleaders a girl could ever ask for!

Jose: My family was very supportive as they give priority to fitness.

Is it a career or more of a hobby?

Mahima: Definitely more of a hobby, I am working on my career in medicine at the moment. The sport relieves any school stress I do have.

Jose: At this moment in time, it is a hobby. I myself am an amateur player and would love to over the next couple of months, evolve my techniques in playing soccer and become a better player.

Why hasn’t there been a South Asian women’s soccer team?

Mahima: To be very honest, I formed both teams and it was very difficult to find girls who were interested in playing for a tournament and also the time we were given to form the teams was short notice but we still pulled through effectively. Also, the organizers of other teams assumed that women would not play and that we would not be able to find enough people. I was speaking to Rajendran from Toronto Malayalee Samajam (TMS) who really helped me out with jerseys and organization of the team. He still finds it mind-blowing that I was able to find 25 -girls who wanted to play soccer as competitive as we did!

Jose: I think the reason for that is mainly due to the Malayalee culture. Men are always put in the light when it comes to physical activities, especially sports. There is this stereotype that women have to be prim and proper all the time. I am proud to have broken this barrier this time around and for the many more years to come.

I think this thought-process of breaking the “Men only” barrier has always been there due to working in a male dominated industry (Engineering). I face difficult and stressful situations daily with confidence, strength and composure. I am a leader and a motivator for large groups of people each day and I have learned to keep positive through adversity. This enabled me to be Captain for East Side and in steer-heading a team of 11 players. Let this initiative be a strong start to the Malayalee women and girls in our community!

Are the reasons religious, financial or just stereotypes?

The reasons are definitely not religious or financial because all of our families supported us if we need the finances or emotional support. I would say the reasons are more stereotypical because it is not common for South Asian women to go above and beyond and play competitive soccer.

How do you gals deal with your monthly cycles while training or during the match?

Mahima: No pain, no gain!

Do you have a special diet?

Mahima: Not at all! I eat anything I can find, it’s usually junk food. I know that is horrible for me to say, but this is the truth!

Jose: No, I have never dieted ever in my life. I think as a young woman, eating right is extremely important. The only thing I think I would watch is eating less carbs, especially because I want better abs! 😀

Given intense weather temperatures in Canada, does it prevent women to think of sports particularly outdoor sports like soccer seriously?

Jose: I do not think that has ever been an excuse at all for women not playing soccer, since we also have the option for indoor soccer if weather becomes intense.

What do you believe that the South Asian women’s soccer team can achieve in the near and long future?

Mahima: We can definitely compete in more tournaments, raise the stakes higher and build an amazing name for us!

Jose: South Asian women, I think are undermined when it comes to sports. Our Indian culture thinks women are better only when it comes to dancing, singing or academics. A South Asian women’s soccer team to me, is the start to breaking barriers and stereotypes about women!

We can be positive role models, Michele Peter 

Michele Peter/Defender for Westside



Please tell us a bit about your academic and family backgrounds?

I went to Ryerson University and I am a proud Ryerson Alumni. I studied Social Work. I am also an advocate for child and youth related issues and bring awareness through the media regarding social issues children, youth and women face in society. Hence, that is why I reached out to Generation Next.  My father was on many sports teams back home but my mom laid low and had nothing to do with sports but loves to watch it, especially soccer matches.

Why choose soccer?

Soccer is fun. I played a bit in Elementary school and I am a fan of watching Soccer during world cup and Euro Cup. It’s a very intense and action packed game.

How did your families react to your choice?

I was suprised my parents were supportive. However, my mom was paranoid that I might get injured and kept trying to scare me by telling me of random sports injury stories from the news.

Is it a career or more of a hobby?

It is definitely a hobby for me. I have always wanted to be part of an athletic team but never had the time because of work and because I wanted to play with an all girl South Asian team but there was never one that existed so I never joined.

Why hasn’t there been a South Asian women’s soccer team?

I think there has not been a South Asian women’s soccer team because we do not have a strong social support whether it is through the media, organizations, cultural communities, family or friends. I say strong support because some family and friends approve of the idea but do not know how to help or are not strong in having their voices heard on behalf of the South Asian Women. Many organzations financially invest in many boys and men’s teams but have not even approached the idea of assisting a girls or women’s team. It is possible they assume us women are weak, we do not have athletic skills or we are just entertainment if we played. Some people probably believe in stereotypes that South Asian Women should stay at home cooking and cleaning or stick to their profession that has nothing to do with sports. Many people assume we are fragile, sensitive and worried we might say sorry everytime we nudge someone during a game. Nevertheless, many do not know that some of the players are already in other soccer leagues and have been training hard and playing soccer in tournaments across the globe.


What kind of training do you go through?

We do different drills and I even looked tips on youtube. Also some guys from the male soccer teams helped us out at a practices and former players became our coaches. We also have many girls on both The East side and West side team who have been playing in leagues for many years so they also have taught us so much and have been really helpful and encouraging.


Given intense weather temperatures in Canada, does it prevent women to think of sports particularly outdoor sports like soccer seriously?

No, I do not think the  Canadian weather effects our passion in wanting to play soccer. We did practice in the rain before because we had no choice but one time we had to cancel because of severe thunderstorms. In that case, we were looking out for the safety of the players and nobody wanted to get sick and lose players before the game.


Do you have a special diet?

I stick to my regular diet which is a fruit and veggie smoothie in the morning with oatmeal and chia seeds and with a big lunch with protein in it such as chicken and also oat bar and carrots, cucumber, Let’s face it, when your South Asian carbs is a must. At dinner I try to something light like a salad unless my mom makes roti and curry. I drink 8 glasses of water and also match green tea lattes. I do love my sweets though but trying to cut down. We did pig out at Wild Wings after the tournament though mmmmmmmmm

What do you believe that the South Asian women’s soccer team can achieve in the near and long future?

The South Asian women’s soccer team can achieve a platform in the athletic community in our society. Also we can be positive role models for some girls interested in playing sports but are living in fear that they will not be accepted and have instilled in their minds that it is not the norm to play sports. I want to thank the players on Eastside and Westside for speaking up and approaching the idea to non-profit charitable organization Toronto Malayalee Samajam with having for the first time an all girls soccer team. Within a month the Eastside and Westside teams were put together. In all honesty, it was hard to get South Asian female players but we did the best we can with the limited time in order to finally make a societal movement and break many cultural barriers. After the game, many people took us seriously and never thought we had it in us to play hard. We brought to the forefront women’s athleticism. We tore a layer of the historical norms and changed history. We crossed boundaries that many women thought they could not. Thank you Toronto Malayalee Samajam for truly defining this remarkable moment in our lives. Thank you to all the loved ones for having faith and your encourgement and thank you Generation Next Magazine who was the only media outlet to support in such a short notice. God Bless.

Watch out, we’re just getting started, Nisha Thomas

Player: Nisha Thomas; Team: East; Position: Mid-fielder

Please tell us a bit about your academic and family backgrounds?

My name is Nisha Thomas. I completed my Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work from Ryerson University and University of Toronto, respectively. My experience is within community mental health agencies, international community development, child protective services, healthcare and hospital settings, and I currently work within a correctional centre. I have had the privilege to meet individuals from various walks of life facing different types of challenges; this has fuelled my passion and advocacy for recognition of mental health prevalence and appropriate treatment in the South Asian community.


Why choose soccer?

I have been playing soccer since I was 5 years old. It became my usual evening activity during summer holidays, and my brother and I participated in the same league. I was always drawn to soccer over other sports, and it was an activity that was able to bring my whole family together.

Are the reasons religious, financial or just stereotypes?

In terms of stereotypes, when it comes to women and sports, they have often been seen as inferior to their male counterparts. Thankfully, I have been privileged to have been around some amazing female leaders who constantly challenge that misconception. In my opinion, sports can be like anything else in life: the more work you put into it, the more you practice, the more you commit, the greater your results will be …regardless of gender!

Given intense weather temperatures in Canada, does it prevent women to think of sports particularly outdoor sports like soccer seriously?

While factors such as weather conditions can make playing outdoor sports such as soccer challenging, I have previously played soccer with a team indoors for one season during the winter months. Where there is a will, there will absolutely always be a way!

What do you believe that the South Asian women’s soccer team can achieve in the near and long future?

Just like every other endeavor, we need to start somewhere! Finally being able to have our first women’s soccer team is a great start. I am hopeful that these initial leaders will be able to bring more women in for the future. The beginning is always the hardest, but perseverance is necessary to keep this momentum going!


It’s been long overdue that the intersection between South Asian woman and soccer/sports take place. In the future, I think you will be able to see more female presence in not only soccer, but other sports as well (volleyball, basketball, etc.) Watch out, we are just getting started!

Younger generations will become part of regular soccer tournaments, Leanne Poothullil

Leanne Poothullil, Position: Forward – Captain


Please tell us a bit about your academic and family backgrounds?

I have graduated from the Trent-Queens Concurrent Education program to become a teacher. I have supplied in England, Ottawa and I am now finally back in Toronto!

Why choose soccer?

Our family has always been active and soccer has always been a part of my life. My dad has coached soccer for both the girls and boys recreational teams for my brother and I when we were younger. Soccer has therefore always been a favourite past time for my family and I. Through my families active lifestyle I have always found playing sports a lot more fun than watching them!

How did your families react to your choice?


Is it a career or more of a hobby?

Soccer has been a recreational activity that my family and I enjoy to keep us healthy and active while having fun. I have not trained professionally; however, it is a great sport to enjoy with family and friends!


Why hasn’t there been a South Asian women’s soccer team?

I used to go with my dad and brother as they played with the scarborough malayalees before all the tournaments took place. No other women played and I have always been asked why I am not participating in games. It is however difficult to organize a women’s recreational team with everyone’s busy schedules and simply not having enough women interested. I am however ecstatic that the initiative has been taken to organize a women’s soccer team!

Are the reasons religious, financial or just stereotypes?


What kind of training do you go through?


Given intense weather temperatures in Canada, does it prevent women to think of sports particularly outdoor sports like soccer seriously?


How do you gals deal with your monthly cycles while training or during the match?


Do you have a special diet?


What do you believe that the South Asian women’s soccer team can achieve in the near and long future?

I believe that having a South Asian women’s soccer team is a huge triumph! It helps women of all ages gain new skills, stay fit and gain confidence in themselves! I anticipate that this becomes a regular tournament that more women are interested to join and that the younger generation hopes to someday become a part of.

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5 Savvy Spending Tips for Back-to-School Season

Posted on 20 August 2015 by admin

  1. Hold Off On Trendier Gear

Thirty-four per cent of Canadian parents feel the pressure to purchase trendy items to help their child fit in at school. The problem is, trends come and go – and often very quickly! Kids may love a certain lunch box or pencil case they find in August, but once school starts and they see that their friends are all using another kind they’ll beg you to upgrade. Hold off on the more trendy purchases until school starts rather than spending double… it will pay to wait!

  1. Cheapest Isn’t Always Best

When it comes to items your kids will use all year round, like backpacks, it pays to invest in quality. Think about price for longevity and factor that into your cost comparison. However, don’t forget that you can still find a great deal on a high quality backpack for about $40, especially if you stack your savings.

    3.  Go For Reusable Lunch Supplies

Don’t waste money on plastic utensils and paper napkins that get thrown out after only one use. If you throw away bags and bottles, you’re basically throwing your money in the garbage. Instead, use cloth napkins, real flatware and reusable containers for food and snacks.

  1. Deals Aren’t Just For the Kids

Despite 43 per cent Canadians feeling back-to-school can be a financial burden, the shopping season can also bring a ton of sales! While you’re stocking your kids up for the school year, don’t forget to take advantage of the lowest prices of the year on computers and other office equipment. If you’re in the market, now is the time to save on that new laptop you’ve been eyeing from top retailers.

  1. Share Your Shopping

You can save money by buying school supplies in bulk especially if you split the cost with another parent. Compare shopping lists with friends and neighbours to see what you both need. By buying in bulk at stores like Costco and splitting the cost, you can save money for the more expensive items.

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Mulcair, Trudeau keep Mike Duffy scandal in public eye

Posted on 20 August 2015 by admin

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau helped keep the issue of how the Prime Minister’s Office handled Mike Duffy’s expense scandal in the public eye, announcing he was sending an open letter to Stephen Harper asking him for more answers.

Harper has refused to provide straight answers about the repayment of Duffy’s expenses and who in the PMO knew that former chief of staff Nigel Wright made a $90,000 payment on Duffy’s behalf, Trudeau told reporters in Montreal, where he was taking part in the city’s Pride parade.

“There are questions about the inconsistencies in his own stories, his own contradictory statements, there are inconsistencies in what ministers of the Crown have been told to say to Parliament,” Trudeau said.

In the letter, Trudeau asked Harper who exactly knew about the payment and whether he had spoken to Wright since he left the Prime Minister’s Office in 2013.

He also repeated a call he first made on Saturday for Harper to fire some of his closest advisers who knew about the $90,000 repayment scheme before it become public.

Initially Harper said Wright acted alone, but Duffy’s fraud trial heard evidence last week that half a dozen PMO staff and Conservative party brass were in the know about Wright’s plan — including Ray Novak, Harper’s current chief of staff.

Harper changed his tune Friday, saying the “vast majority” of his staff didn’t know about Wright’s actions.

Wright will continue to be cross-examined on Monday at Duffy’s trial, where the senator has pleaded not guilty to 31 charges including fraud and breach of trust.

“Canadians deserve answers to these questions — answers you have refused to provide,” Trudeau’s letter concluded.

NDP leader Tom Mulcair was also on the attack against Harper over Duffy. The prime minister stuck to his guns when asked about the Duffy affair, saying he did not know about Wright’s repayment plan before it became public.

Trudeau also used a media event on Sunday to take aim at his rivals’ economic records, declaring Harper’s plan “a failure” and accusing Mulcair of taking Quebecers for granted.

“He’s offering a minimum wage that most people won’t touch, he’s offering daycares that are less good than what Quebec already has, and he’s offering a mega round of constitutional debates,” Trudeau said of NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, before reiterating his promises to create jobs, increase family allowances, and cut taxes for the middle class.

Like the other leaders, Mulcair, Gilles Duceppe and Elizabeth May, Trudeau pointed out the conspicuous absence of Stephen Harper, the only national party leader not present at the Montreal Pride event.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair took a shot at Stephen Harper for ‘systematically’ staying away from gay pride parades in Canada. Most major party leaders took part in Montreal’s Pride parade Sunday.

“The fact that Mr. Harper continues to choose not to attend Pride events — not just here in Montreal but across the country — once again shows that he is not choosing to be the Prime Minister for all Canadians,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau marched briefly in the parade, chatting with Duceppe and Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, and stopping to shake hands with a few bystanders.

When asked how he felt about trailing the NDP and the Conservative Party in some recent polls, Trudeau said he remained “very confident” of his party’s election chances.

“It’s a long campaign, we have work to do across the country — all the parties — to attract people’s confidence and their votes,” he said.

“I am very, very happy with what we’re doing,” he said.

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Kathleen Wynne and Justin Trudeau rally Liberal faithful in Regent Park

Posted on 20 August 2015 by admin


After weeks of battling Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, Kathleen Wynne took aim at front-running NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair to boost Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.

Appearing with Trudeau at a packed and sweltering rally Monday night in Toronto’s Regent Park, the Liberal premier said Mulcair, who leads in nearly every public-opinion poll, “talks a good game on child care and on increasing the minimum wage and abolishing the Senate.”

“But when you look at what he’s talking about, the ideas are either incomplete or they’re unworkable or they’re impossible,” she told about 600 party stalwarts gathered at the Daniels Spectrum on Dundas St. East.

“He’s all over the map — that’s not a clear, workable plan,” said Wynne, who was re-elected in the June 2014 Ontario vote with Trudeau’s help and is repaying the favour.

“I know where Justin Trudeau stands — he wants to grow the middle class, he wants to make sure that the wealthy pay their fair share, he wants to supports the people who need it the most and he is going to work with the provinces and the territories.”

Visibly energized by the large and raucous crowd, Trudeau said Harper “has gone out of his way to attack Kathleen . . . particularly on pensions — it’s completely irresponsible.”

In contrast to his Conservative rival, who has vowed to derail Wynne’s Ontario Retirement Pension Plan that takes effect in 2017, the Liberal leader pledged to work with provincial and territorial premiers for the greater good of the federation.

“If the prime minister had been doing his job over the past 10 years to secure Canadians’ retirement, to work with the provinces . . . well, then, Kathleen wouldn’t be doing his job on top of her job.”

The premier’s surprise partisan broadside at Mulcair came even though he is a former Quebec Liberal cabinet minister whose views on improving public pensions, funding transit, and curbing climate change are similar to hers.

Wynne has suggested she could work with Mulcair if he wins the Oct. 19 election.

“I need a federal partner,” she said, lamenting Harper’s unwillingness to work with Ontario — especially on pensions.

But Trudeau, who earlier in the day was in suburban Ajax touting tax cuts for the middle class and promising a tax-exempt monthly child benefit for parents, insisted Mulcair “certainly doesn’t get it.”

“He has no plan to grow the economy. He says he wants to help, but he hasn’t demonstrated the willingness or the capacity to do this,” he said, suggesting the NDP leader isn’t stepping up for the middle class because “maybe he’s afraid of Conservative attack ads.”

“Let me tell you something, I’m not,” Trudeau said to howls of laughter from the partisan throng.

“Stephen Harper has spent millions upon millions of dollars trying to tear us down and he’s going to spend millions upon millions of dollars more between now and Oct. 19 to try and convince Canadians that better isn’t just possible,” he said. “Together, my friends, we are going to prove him wrong.”

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Thomas Mulcair promises to spend $30 million more on tourism

Posted on 20 August 2015 by admin

Thomas Mulcair

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair travelled Monday to a tourist mecca — one that just so happens to be in a Conservative cabinet minister’s riding — to tout his party’s plan to boost the number of American visitors to Canada.

Mulcair took his campaign to Niagara Falls to promise that an NDP government would invest $30 million over three years in Destination Canada, a Crown corporation responsible for promoting Canada as a four-season tourist destination.

The Conservative government itself pledged $30 million over three years in its last budget to market Canadian destinations with the goal of attracting an additional 680,000 Americans over that period.

Mulcair is promising an additional $30 million on top of the money already budgeted, the NDP said.

The New Democrat leader said Prime Minister Stephen Harper has actually cut $24 million from the agency during his time in office, even though it coincided with a drop in American visitors.

“It was a decision that simply didn’t make any sense,” Mulcair said. “We want to get back the same number, in fact a little bit more, of tourists that were lost under Mr. Harper’s watch.”

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair made his latest campaign pledge during a stop in Niagara Falls, Ont., a riding that has been held by conservative cabinet member Rob Nicholson.

In 2002, there were more than 16 million overnight visitors to Canada from the United States, but in 2014, that number was down to 11.5 million, according to Statistics Canada.

But Harper’s tenure has coincided with periods that saw a very strong Canadian dollar. Mulcair acknowledged that a $24-million cut from a tourism agency is likely not solely to blame for fewer American tourists.

“There’s no doubt that tourism is a cyclical industry,” he said. “Some of it has to do with cycles and with levels of the Canadian dollar. But at the same time what we need is a reliable federal partner.”

Niagara Falls, where the tourism and hospitality sectors support 33,000 people, has been held by conservative Rob Nicholson, who served as both defence minister and foreign affairs minister in Harper’s cabinet.

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Posted on 20 August 2015 by admin


Dr. Hasan Askari

  Pakistan’s political leaders have learnt the art of creating political crisis which ultimately hurts them. On the Independence Day, August 14, Federal Minister Mushahidullah Khan blamed former ISI Chief Retired Lt-General Zaheerul Islam for planning to knock out the civilian government and the Army High Command during the sit-in by the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf in Islamabad, August 2014.

 This was the most critical statement by any close associate of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the so-called military conspiracy against his government while it faced the sit-in by Imran Khan. The statement also implied that Imran Khan was staging the sit-in with the blessings of a section of senior Army officers. Mushahidullah Khan maintained that his claim was based on a tape recording of the said general’s conversation on phone which was known to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief General Raheel Sharif.

 This statement was completely rejected by the Prime Minister’s office as well as by the Army. Federal Information Minister, Pervez Rashid, also denied the statement of his colleague.

 These statements ended the controversy caused on Mushahidullah Khan’s claim. However, it is beyond comprehension that a federal minister would make such claim that threatens to upset the currently stable civil-military relations in Pakistan.

 Mushahidullah Khan is not the only federal minister who has issued anti-military statement. Two federal ministers, Khawaja Asif and Khawaja Saad Rafique, have made their reputation for publicly criticizing the top brass of the military for their role in politics. They have also blamed the military for quietly supporting Imran Khan’s sit-in, August-December 2014.

The major source of this charge against the ISI and the Army is Javed Hashmi, who defected from Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf in the early stages of the sit-in and pointed his finger towards the ISI and some unidentified generals for encouraging and supporting Imran Khan for his agitation against the Nawaz Sharif government.

 This issue was taken up by Khawaja Asif and Khawaja Saad Rafique not only for criticizing Imran Khan but also to embarrass the Army, especially the ISI. In this respect, the case of Khawaja Asif is very peculiar. He is Defense Minister but he is not viewed as a desirable person by military circles. He has never been individually invited to the Army headquarters; nor has there been any formal individual meeting between him and the Army Chief. He does not always attend the meetings between the Prime Minister and the Army Chief.

  It seems that the government of Nawaz Sharif is pursuing a two-track policy towards the military.

On the one hand, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif maintains a close and cordial relationship with the military, especially with the Army Chief. They meet either in exclusive meetings or along with their senior advisers from time to time to discuss national security and terrorism related matters.

 The federal government has given a lot of space to the Army in managing internal and external security and counter-terrorism affairs. This has increased the Army’s role in internal and external policy making and management.

 On the other hand, some the federal ministers criticize the military in public, mainly with reference to Imran Khan’s sit-in. They target both Imran Khan and the military for conspiring against Nawaz Sharif’s elected government. Mushahidullah Khan went a step further by accusing a former ISI Chief of even planning to throw out the Army top command.

  Such a dual track policy can be interpreted in two ways.

 First, it is a conscious PMLN government policy of talking in a friendly manner with the top brass of the Army to keep them on its side but, from time to time, let the federal ministers or some party leaders to criticize the Army top command’s involvement in politics in the past as well as their alleged support to Imran Khan. This gives them two advantages: Imran Khan’s democratic credentials are questioned and the Army top brass are put to embarrassment so that they do not think of going against Nawaz Sharif.

 The other interpretation is that Nawaz Sharif has a number of hawkish ministers who enjoy freedom to target the top commanders of the military. Nawaz Sharif maintains a distance from their statements but does not stop them from public criticism of the military.

 The resignation of Mushahidullah Khan is a damage control effort on the part of the government. However, his statement has greatly damaged the relationship between the Prime Minister and the military, especially the Army. Both, the civil and military authorities may continue to work together for fighting terrorism, their mutual distrust will haunt them. The military top brass will exercise a lot of caution in their interactions with the civilian government and seek to know if their periodic outburst against the military is a carefully orchestrated policy?

 The Army backed efforts to check corruption in official circles and the on-going security operations in Karachi have created a conflict between the military and the political forces. The MQM parliamentarians have resigned because they think the Karachi security operation is only targeting them. This is a wrong perception of the MQM. However, the security operation in Karachi has broken the overall MQM control of the city and the state is asserting its primacy. The decline of their monopoly of power in Karachi has upset the MQM. It also wants to shift attention from Altaf Hussain’s latest controversial statements.

 Similarly, the fear of corruption related targeting led Asif Ali Zardari to publicly criticize the military. Later, he left the country to avoid any embarrassing situation with the military or the National Accountability Bureau. Now, the PMLN has gone on to point fingers at the MQM and the PPP for blaming the military of partisanship. The PMLN fears that they may not face similar pressure on corruption and the activities of religious hardline groups in the Punjab.

  If the Prime Minister does not control these negative trends, it may be difficult to sustain the currently smooth civil-military relations. Any adverse change in civil-military relations can cause instability and threaten the already weak democracy.

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The men waging war against pornography in India

Posted on 20 August 2015 by admin

The men waging war against pornography in India

On his many trips to Internet cafes in the bustling central Indian city of Indore, lawyer Kamlesh Vaswani discovered what he calls the “epidemic” of pornography.

“I would go to download important Supreme Court judgements, and pornographic adverts would pop up instead. And when I looked around, I saw rows of children surfing porn openly without a care in the world,” says Mr Vaswani, 43, a quiet man with a probing look.

He says he went to the local court and discussed it with his colleagues. “They were also saying that porn was everywhere around us. Something had to be done about it.”

What shook him up further, he says, was the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old Indian student in Delhi in December 2012. The attack caused international outrage and prompted India to introduce stringent anti-rape laws.

Mr Vaswani had been in Delhi on some work on the day of the incident, and he says he felt “guilty” that he couldn’t do anything to avert the crime. He believed that the attackers must have been watching porn.

Controversial plea

“Why are the youth failing India? Because they are drowning in porn,” he says.

He also believes that India’s GDP could be increased if people were discouraged from watching porn. “People watch porn, and become selfish. They don’t want to give back to the nation,” he says.

Three winters ago, Mr Vaswani began writing a public interest petition to the Supreme Court, making a controversial case for a ban on Internet porn. Confined to home to look after his ailing father, he wrote up the 200-page, 20,000-word plea on his laptop in a month’s time.

The top court – to his surprise, he says – admitted the petition and heard it on April 2013.

Since then, Mr Vaswani’s petition has acquired a life of its own: earlier in August, it was responsible for the government’s rather ham-handed decision to block free access to 857 porn sites, which was swiftly lifted following outrage over the move. Mr Vaswani has attended nearly 20 hearings related to the case in a little more than two years.

The petition seeks a ban on all sites showing porn, and calls for “new, exhaustive anti-pornography laws”.

Mr Vaswani’s petition says that pornography is “worse than Hitler, worse than Aids, cancer or any epidemic. It is more catastrophic than nuclear holocaust, and it must be stopped”.

Many would call the petition’s words extreme – or paranoid. And many in India have argued against a ban on pornography – arguing that this would restrict civil liberties.

However, Mr Vaswani is adamant that pornography makes people selfish and unproductive.

His petition also argues that watching porn “puts the country’s security in danger, encourages violent acts, unacceptable behaviour in society, exploitation of children and lowers the dignity of women”.

Mr Vaswani, the son of a government worker and a homemaker mother, grew up in a middle-class joint family. He went to two schools, including a convent.

He says he failed to clear the highly competitive medical examinations five times, dashing his hopes of becoming a doctor. He then moved between various career choices: he picked up a degree in science, wanted to pick up one in arts, and then settled for a career in law. He has been a practising lawyer for more than a decade now.

I met Mr Vaswani at his home in Indore, an unkempt city, bristling with shops and lawyers.

He lives with his teacher wife and his school-going son in an austere two-bedroom apartment in a grotty, 35-year-old multi-storeyed building. The pale pink walls of the sitting room were adorned with a religious painting and another of his guru, while a book on criminal law and the Hindu holy book Bhagvad Gita lay on a small bed flanked by a TV set.

Fellow travellers

Mr Vaswani describes himself as “an ordinary lawyer”.

“I am grateful to the top court for admitting my petition. My next public interest litigation will demand cheap and affordable treatment for cancer,” he says. It is a tribute to his father who died of cancer last year.

Mr Vaswani has been joined by some fellow travellers in his journey to banish porn.

One of them is Atul Gupta, a 40-year-old electronics engineer and an alumnus of the prestigious Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Science, who lives near Delhi. Mr Gupta has been going to schools and people’s homes for years installing filters and blocking porn sites. Last year, after reading about Mr Vaswani’s petition in the papers, he got in touch with him and offered him help, telling him that the technology was available to block sites.

“I think porn is like drugs. It needs to be banned,” says Mr Gupta.

Then there is Suresh Shukla, a 37-year-old chemical engineer from top engineering school Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), who now runs a company based in the holy town of Varanasi selling anti-pornography solutions and filters.

He provided the list of 857 “high traffic, verified sites” to the government, which led to the sites being blocked briefly. The number of sites classed as porn by his company has now swelled to more than 200,000, he says.

At his company, he says, women researchers and employees “enjoy the veto power” over men, in categorising certain “non-explicit” sites like joke and cartoon sites, as porn. “This is not about Mr Vaswani, this is about a larger battle,” he says.

Last week, the government told the Supreme Court at a hearing of Mr Vaswani’s petition that although child pornography must be banned, “we cannot be present in everyone’s bedroom”.

Was this a setback to his campaign, I asked.

“Not at all. The government is trying to divert the issue and make it one about invasion of privacy. This is not about privacy, this is about saving India,” he said, sounding confident.

“I am confident that the court will overrule objections and ban porn.”

I asked him whether he was being too optimistic.

“It will happen sooner than you think,” he said. “Maybe in four-five months.”

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International students take legal action against Niagara College for $50M

Posted on 20 August 2015 by admin


Students allege the school’s distance learning program did not, as promised, qualify them for three-year work permits after graduation.

  Former international students at Niagara College are launching a class-action lawsuit against the school and seeking more than $50 million in damages after a mostly online program left some foreign students ineligible to work in Canada after graduation.

Anish Goyal and Chintan Zankat are taking legal action on behalf of a host of affected classmates after they enrolled in a four-month program allegedly designed to help them qualify for “coveted” post-graduate, three-year work permits.

“We’ve alleged that Niagara College came up with a program for international students designed to allow them to qualify for a three-year work permit, which they coveted, but failed to properly design it. And, as a result, their graduates are not qualifying for the work permits and are essentially being kicked out of Canada,” said Darcy Merkur, the graduates’ lawyer.

None of the allegations in the group’s statement of claim has been proven in court.

Niagara College confirmed it received notice of the legal action.

“We have received a claim and are consulting legal counsel. It is too early to make any other comments at this time,” said Susan McConnell, a spokesperson for Niagara College, in an email to the Star.

Merkur is working on the case with a group of immigration lawyers who represent about 100 of the 500 international students he said could be affected by the work permit rejections.

The statement of claim alleges the school and its representatives led students to believe that by completing the mostly online general arts and science diploma transfer program, after completing one year of graduate or post-graduate schooling in Canada, they would qualify for a three-year work permit.

But the students later learned the Niagara College program didn’t meet Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s work permit requirements because the program was considered distance learning.

It’s something Niagara College “knew or ought to have known” before it allegedly “promised” the program’s foreign graduates would qualify for the work permit, according to the statement of claim.

“By pushing the course online, they’ve disqualified their graduates from qualifying,” Merkur said.

The document also alleges Niagara College advised its students that the online portion of the program wouldn’t make it a distance learning program, which was, the plaintiffs allege, “misleading.”

The ordeal has been enormously frustrating for Goyal, 26, who expects his work permit application will be denied just like Zankat’s. He had planned to send money back home to support his parents while he worked in IT project management.

“I will lose my career here,” Goyal said. “I’ve invested almost two years of my life in Canada and now I’m being forced to go back home without getting what I was promised.”

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India Bridal Fashion Week 2015

Posted on 20 August 2015 by admin


India Bridal Fashion Week saw three shows from designers Rina dhaka, Joytsna Tiwari and JJ Valaya. Rina dhaka’s bohemian-inspired brides walked down the presentation runway with floral crowns, while akshara Haasan closed the show as the bride. Jyotsna Tiwari’s ‘Secret Garden’ was also inspired by flower power—grecian drapes, pastels and lace were the focus of her collection. Sarah-Jane dias sang a medley of covers ranging from Rihanna’s ‘We Found Love’, Beyoncé ‘Crazy in Love’ to Swedish House Mafia’s ‘don’t

You Worry Child’ at the show.

JJ Valaya’s couture show was an extension of his inspiration from autumn/Winter’15—The Bolshoi Bazaar. Valaya brought to delhi the Russian Winter. The set was made of barren trees; snow and the audio visual of a snowstorm backed the models as they walked in couture. A mélange of indian and Soviet cultures was visible in the saris with fur trimmed pochettes, embroidered jackets and the embroidery.

When a veteran designer shows in the capital, there is bound to be support from his contemporaries—Rohit Bal, Manish Malhotra, Lecoanet and Hemant were at the show.

As the line went from western to more traditional indian bridal wear, the snowstorm got more intense. The final group of models walked in lehengas with Russian folk head dresses created in collaboration with Valliyan by nitya arora.

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How to Diet and Have a Social Life

Posted on 20 August 2015 by admin

How to Diet and Have a Social Life

  1. Support yourself first

In order to get some support from those in social situations, you need to be an advocate for yourself. It is important to take your commitment to your diet seriously. If you keep undermining yourself (with a bite here and a slip there), you will be less likely to be taken seriously. Be clear about your guidelines and what you can, and cannot tolerate.

  1. No need to create a huge fuss

Not making a big deal about the foods you are eliminating and avoiding will often times allow you to go about your meal while drawing minimal attention to your new dietary habits. We are all well aware of the feelings we have towards the person who always creates drama around what they can and cannot eat, having ethical or philosophical discussions around it and implying we are all wrong and sinful for not following their nutritional ideology. This can be highly annoying and a good lesson in what not to do.

Be polite, say “no thank you” and continue with your social function.

Not making a big deal out of what people you care about are eating may be a little tougher.

  1. Explain your choices briefly and concisely

Defending your new food choices or limitation can create much social anxiety. For situations like this, a short, one or two sentence explanation is all that is necessary. Keep it memorable and practice it so that you can say it with confidence. You have a right to your choice, explain and move on.
An example could be:

‘I am not eating (insert food here – gluten, grains, wheat, legumes, dairy, fruit etc.) as right now this is what works best for my health’

If a person will not let it go and keeps insisting on further engagement around the subject, repeating “it works best for my health” is often a tough statement to argue with.

  1. Become the planner

You can plan social events to get together with others that may not involve food and alcohol. Take a walk, meet at a coffee shop, play a game of mini-golf or anything else that you rarely do as so many social activities revolve around food.

Inviting family and friends over for dinner is another surefire way to avoid awkward situations when refusing a dish and it will allow you the opportunity to show off some of the delicious new recipes you have mastered.

  1. Converting others is not your goal

You have all this newly acquired information about nutrition and the effect of certain foods on your body. You want to tell everyone. This is important stuff, and if they knew, they would join you.

No matter how pure your intentions, others will often misinterpret your enthusiasm as you being judgmental or condescending. Food is extremely personal and such a delicate topic. Discussing your new choices may make cause someone else to get really defensive.

The best and easiest solution is to lead by example. When you make the right choices and start feeling and seeing your positive results, some people will become curious and ask how you look better, feel better, have more energy and seem happier.

  1. You have a choice

I know that eliminating social pressure completely is unrealistic but you can choose to avoid many situations where that pressure negatively impacts you. In exchange, you can choose situations and individuals to surround yourself with who can both support you and keep you accountable to your goals.

This type of positive social pressure makes you more likely to stick to your commitment, even when you are having a tough day. Communities of like-minded people, in person or online will also provide positive examples and re-enforcement of your health goals.

Patience is important. One of the hardest parts of embarking on a new lifestyle is getting you and everyone else accustomed to your new (and possibly strange) food choices.

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