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expand 3.5% this year


he UAE’s GDP is set to expand 3.5 percent this year against 2.8 per cent in 2018, thanks to a stimulus package worth AED50 billion announced last year along with a host of other measures for the ease of doing business in all the emirates, said Director of Dubai Customs, Ahmed Mahboob Musabih, while chairing the first quarterly Consultative Council meeting in 2019. The meeting was attended by Abdullah Mohammed Al Khaja, Executive Director of Clients Management Division, Farid Hassan Al Marzouqi, Executive Director, Human Resources, Finance and Administration Division, and Edris Behzad, Director of Client Happiness Department and the Council’s rapporteur. Dubai Customs has recently hit a record by scoring 97.49 percent on Smart Dubai’s Happiness Meter. Musabih said Dubai’s non-oil trade maintained its levels against a backdrop of economic turmoil and global conflicts and the vague British position on Brexit. Europe is one of Dubai’s main partners and together they make up 19 percent of the total trade business, he said. Commenting on the steps Dubai Customs has taken to facilitate trade and ease the burden of companies and traders, Musabih said, “We have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Free Zones Council to help with the implementation of the ‘Virtual Stock Guarantee’ initiative. The new facility was developed by Dubai Customs to support re-export activity from free zones to external markets within the Dubai Customs’ efforts to help the emirate maintain a leading position and turn into a world economic capital.

This initiative is the first of its kind in the world.” More than 18,000 companies based in 24 free zones and 37 customs warehouses can benefit from the Virtual Stock Guarantee facility, in addition to customs warehouse companies willing to use it to re-export their goods solely through Dubai’s air and sea ports, and the UAE land exits. The consultative council members had a number of suggestions including one from the Dubai Computer Group, DCG, of establishing a mobile phone assembly factory in Dubai, with members also discussing means to strengthen the activity of re-exporting electronics. Nassim Saeed Al Mehairi, Senior Manager, Statistics and Studies Section, briefed the members on Dubai latest trade figures of 2018. Dubai trade has grown 72 percent between 2009 and 2018, with 44 percent growth in trade volume. China maintained its position as Dubai’s biggest trading partner in 2018 with AED139 billion worth of trade. India came in second with AED116 billion, followed by the USA in third place with AED81 billion. Saudi Arabia continued to be Dubai’s largest Arab trade partner and its fourth largest global trade partner with AED55 billion, followed by Switzerland in fifth place with AED49 billion.

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ndian officials expressed their happiness and gratitude following the announcement that President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan conferred on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi the Zayed Medal. Mrs Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs of India, said via her Twitter account, “On behalf of the people of India, I express our deep sense of gratitude to His Highness the President, His Highness the Crown Prince of UAE for this great honour,” adding that this gesture is an honour for the country and its people. The minister went on to praise Modi’s “stellar role” in ushering in a new era of strategic partnership with UAE and the “best ever relations with the Islamic world.” The Ambassador of India to the UAE, Navdeep Suri, also shared his positive sentiments, describing the occasion as an “historic moment” that marks a “truly golden era” in the bilateral relations between the two countries. In a statement, Suri said that granting the Zayed Medal to Prime Minister Modi is “testimony to the dramatic transformation that we have witnessed in our ties ever since Prime Minister’s landmark visit in August 2015.” He then went on to note that the vision of both country’s leadership has shown positive results, with “ever-expanding contours” in the strategic partnerships between the UAE and India. “We saw this manifest in the initiative taken by UAE to invite our Minister for External Affairs as Chief Guest at the meeting of OIC Foreign Ministers that was held in Abu Dhabi in March. We have seen a steady flow of investments by the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and by other major entities into areas like housing, highways, renewable energy, financial markets and even in stressed assets. “In the energy sector, we have seen India being awarded with a new onshore oil concession in Abu Dhabi. Our first strategic petroleum reserve has taken off in partnership with ADNOC and discussions are in progress for a second, even larger strategic reserve. ADNOC and ARAMCO have also agreed to a strategic tie-up for our mega West Coast refinery project. We are putting together an ambitious IndiaUAE food corridor. And we are seeing unprecedented cooperation in our defense and security ties,” Suri noted. “Even in the field of culture,” he added, “we had the privilege of hosting Sharjah as the Guest of Honour at the Delhi International Book Fair and later this month, we will be here with a similar status at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.” The Ambassador concluded by praising the many dimensions of the bilateral ties, adding that “the mutual respect and understanding between our leaders and their clear direction” have made UAE-India ties a “model for other countries to emulate.”

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Sharma Renews Call for Apology

As India marks the centenary of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, assacre, British Parliament has debated one of the darkest periods od ds in Britain’s colonial history. Virendra Sharma, Member err of Parliament for Ealing, Southall, renews his call for an n apology from the British government for the massacre.


he British Parliament has debated the 1919 massacre of unarmed civilians at Jallianwala Bagh in Punjab. During Prime Minister’s Questions, Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn both paid their respects to those who died in 1919 and expressed their regrets at what had happened. The debate was attended by members from across the parties, and was called by Bob Blackman MP. “The murders at Jallianwala Bagh are almost unknown in Britain outside the Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities, but to this day they shape the relationship between those countries and the UK,” said Mr Virendra Sharma, Member of Parliament for Ealing, Southall said. The veteran Labour leader is on a campaign to get a formal apology from the British government over the massacre. “For millions of people across my home state of Punjab, the event is their defining cultural memory of British rule. The massacre finally crystallised in the minds of the intellectual and wealthy middle classes of British India what millions of working-class people already knew: ultimately, imperial rule was neither enlightened nor benevolent, but rather it was brutalising, dehumanising, and murderous. It set in motion the forces

that ultimately secured independence.” “What was not forthcoming was a formal apology from the Government for what had happened, for the lives taken away, or for the injuries to thousands more. I hope that there is agreement today—including among those Members who have been unable to contribute to this debate—that although a formal apology would not undo the hurt and pain, it would send a signal. I do not believe, however, that an apology would be the be-all and end-all of the matter. “I wrote to the previous Prime Minister, David Cameron, demanding an apology, and in 2017 I tabled an early-day motion that was supported by Members from all major political parties and called not just for an apology but for education and commemoration. Last March I asked the Prime Minister whether she would lend her weight to the campaign for remembrance of that brutal day, and I thank the Minister for the communication between us on that subject. “I want children across the country to benefit from learning about the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, and to learn not just about 1,000 years of British

n, success and innovation, n but also about the human cost across the world off n expedition, exploration and exploitation. This is not just an act of flagellation; it will help Brit-d ish people to understand better our own place in epeat the misthe world, and not to repeat ns that we will takes of the past. It means know our own history, and how we are seen by people in other cultures and countries. We should also take steps to remember those who were killed, not just through those actions, but by actions that were repeated around the world and perpetrated on communities large and small. Acts of barbarity and cruelty pepper the history of the British empire. Such acts must be remembered, and a monument in central London—the heart and capital of the empire—would be a fitting tribute.” “The tragedy of Jallianwala Bagh in 1919 is a shameful scar on British Indian history. As Her Majesty the

Queen said before visiting Jallianwala Bagh in 1997, it is a distressing example of our history with India. We deeply regret what happened and the suffering caused,” said the prime minister. “I am pleased that today the UK-India relationship is one of collaboration, partnership, prosperity and security. Indian diaspora make an enormous contribution to British society, and I am sure the whole House wishes to see the UK’s relationship with India continue to flourish.” “I am very pleased that the Prime Minister mentioned what happened in Jallianwala Bagh and the issues of the massacre at Amritsar 100 years ago,” said Mr Corbyn. “I think that the people, in memory of those who lost their lives and the brutality of what

happened, deserve ha h ppened, de eserve a full, clear and unequivocal apology for what took place on that occasion.” “I appreciate the Prime Minister’s comments and thank her for her earnest words, but they are only the beginning of an apology not the full and frank formal apology that the communities affected need,” Mr Sharma, who is also the chair of the Indo-British All Party Parliamentary Group, added. “I would also like to offer my fullest thanks to Jeremy Corbyn for his words of support, and his commitment to a full apology when he becomes Prime Minister. The wounds of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre still haunt millions and should be laid to rest at this the centenary of the horrendous act.”


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VAISAKHI: CELEBRATION OF EQUALITY VAISAKHI is a time of celebrations. Everyone celebrate this festival in their own way. Some like to sing and dance with Bhangra music, some enjoy a hefty feast by way of visiting Malas and organising dinner and dance parties. Most cities, towns and villages hold their own fairs whereas temples and Gurdwaras mark this day with special prayer according to their own customs.


hen we think about Vaisakhi, we speak mostly about the farming festival, or for our Sikh community it relates to the baptism day. Enlightening of Khalsa. What we fail to realise is that Vaisakhi means and symbolises something far greater. Behind this festival is a great philosophy which was far ahead of its time and whose roots go back thousands of years. The first day of the second month of Bikrami Samwat Callander marks the harvest day Vaisakhi. By this time, the crops have been reaped, the produce sold and the money is in the farmer’s pocket. No wonder why there are celebrations all around. That is why the Emperor Bikramaditya called this month VAISAKH which means worker’s protection (derived from Vais- rakh in Sanskrit ). After a year of hard labour and exertion, Vaisakh would be a month of rest and celebration of their achievements. What a beautiful philosophy. Some 2074 years ago a complete month is dedicated to the workforce of the Nation, where the west has just come to realise the same and has adopted a similar routine by marking just one day, the first Monday of May, in honour of the workforce. As the Vaisakhi is marked for the workers the Sikh Gurus have chosen this day to enhance EQUALITY AMONG THE HUMAN RACE. This is now a foremost issue throughout the world, but in India this began well before one may imagine. In the first instance the first Sikh Guru ‘Guru Nanak Dev Ji’ raised the awareness for human equality. Maanas ki Jaat sabhai, ek he Pahchanbo (Sri Guru Granth Sahib ) “Recognise the whole human race as one race” One must realise that the caste system in India, which was once created for the prosperity of the nation was manipulated over the years by the BRAHMIN AND KASHATRIYA. These so called ‘higher castes’ soon came to control the VAISH AND SHUDAR who in turn became ‘lower castes’. The situation was so severe that the lower castes began suffocating under the oppression of the higher castes and were being deprived of most freedoms. They were

Mr Birbahadur Singh Bance

not even able to breathe freely or pray with complete freedom. In most cases SHUDAR were denied access to the temples and were not even allowed to obtain the greatest free gift of almighty, “WATER,” from the same well or river banks, which were used by the higher castes. Invaders such as the Afghan Turks and Mughals made the situation more difficult. They created a barrier for all Hindus. Such were the times when, Guru Nanak Dev raised his voice “RECOGNISE THE WHOLE HUMAN RACE AS ONE’ His main companions were Bala, Mardana and Bhai Lallo – A working class, a Muslim and a low caste. He himself announced “Neecha andar Neecha Jaat , Neecho hi at neech Nanak tin ke sang Saath , Badhhiyo se Kiya Rees “ “I am with the lower of the low caste and have no ties with the high caste.” He travelled not just across India but, according to papal records, up to Papal (Italy) to prevent slavery and promote the cause of Human equality. Then the Langar (free meal) was initiated, with no caste restrictions and no bar; all were welcome to eat and then pray together sitting at the same level. No special places were made available for the rich, royals or high castes. Even the Emperor AKBAR who visited the third Guru, Guru Amardass, sat and ate Langar at the same

level and joined the prayers with ordinary people sitting at the same level. This was in fact the same third Guru Amardass with whom the period Vaisakhi became an annual gathering and celebration, initiated by his dear follower Bhai Paro (1573AD). This was the first recorded Vaisakhi mela. All would come from far and near after selling their harvest and celebrate together, then pray together and eat and share their yearly experiences. This philosophy of equality was greeted and loved by the general public. They could now breath freedom with equal rights to pray , trade and eat like one human race. Then came the period of tenth Guru “ Guru Gobind Singh” The seeds of equality sown by Guru Nanak were now blossoming People began to question and confront the repressive tyrants who were running society. They soon so became fearless and determined to stand for their rights that not even death could dissuade them from fighting for them and defending the rights of their fellow beings. Guru Gobind Singh, possibly the greatest philosopher of his time, received his academic instruction from the teachers like Sayaad Peer Mohammed and scholars like Bhai Gurbakhsh Singh. He had his warfare training by the renowned Master Bajjar Singh. He encouraged his father Guru Tegbahadur to sacrifice his life for the Hindu Brahmins in order to promote the freedom of religion and equality for all. Although the father Guru Tegbahadur did not believe in the Brahmin ideology, he sacrificed his life and so set an example for others to stand up for their fellow beings. In the lead to strengthen people toward standing for their rights and

treating each other equally, Guru Gobind Singh introduced AMRIT (nectar) as a way of baptising the fellow Sikhs. IT WAS THE DAY OF VAISAKHI OF THE YEAR 1699AD. Men and women from all backgrounds, religion and castes had congregated together and were asked by the Guru to step forward if they would volunteer their heads for a righteous deed. Thus, the five loved ones were chosen known as PANJ PIYARE. All five who came forward one by one were from different castes and from different regions of India thus representing the whole of India and all castes. They were baptised from the same BAATA (cast iron bowl) and all sipped the Amrit directly from the same bowl; that finished the high and low caste between them. Then a miraculous thing happened. Guru asked the five loved ones to baptise Him so he could be equal to them. A new relation of equality between the Guru and the followers was formed. They all adopted the same surname SINGH (meaning Lion). Several hundred thousand more were baptise on the same day and the following three days . All castes among the Sikhs were abolished; they were now called KHALSA the pure ones. Simple rules were made for their living style Naam Japna – pray to almighty Vand Chhakna – Share your food and earnings Kirt karnee – Work for your living And he gave them a national anthem Deh Shiva Bar Mohe Eh, Shrub Karman Te Kabhun Na Taraun OH LORD GIVE ME THIS BOOM THAT I MAY NEVER SHY AWAY FROM THE RIGHTEOUS ACT

Thus those baptised pledged that they will be religious, charitable, would work and not be idle, and above all stand up for their own rights as well as those of other beings. The results were remarkable. The Khalsa awoke the dormant spirit of self- respect and patriotism within the people, turning the faint-hearted people into brave-hearted soldiers. It transformed the timid sparrow-like people into Hawks, and jackals into lions. Everyone was now armed, ready to defend and protect the weak and vulnerable, as well as themselves. In their victory, they could now pray without fear of interruption and celebrate their festivals without the fear of being punished and penalised. It was that spirit which gave birth to the like of Kartar Singh Sarabha, Sardar Bhagat Singh and Sardar Udham Singh. Sardar Udham Singh, in particular, loved equality so much that he changed his name when being prosecuted by the British government in London to RAM MOHAMMED SINGH. So in whatever way you choose to celebrate Vaisakhi (may it be by going to temple or Gurdwara , attending a culture show , going to a Vaisakhi mela for Bhangra and Gidha , or simply enjoying the day at home with your loved ones). Remember this is not just a Harvest festival, or religion wise Enlightening of Khalsa, or the Sangrand (first day) of Vaisakh. This is a day to celebrate the equality of all Human races. Remember be a human, love all human Guidance given by the Great Guru Nanak Dev “Maanas ki Jaa, sabhai ek he pahchanbo” @asianlitemedia

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Not all tyres are created equal.



APRIL II EDITION 2019 Website: Email: @asianlitemedia

Britain & Associates Must Apologise Priests of the Golden Temple invited the general to the sacred shrine and presented him with a siropa (turban and kirpan). At a time when India is demanding an unconditional apology from the British govt for the mayhem that changed the course of independence movement, it’s high time likes of Capt Amrinder Singh too apologise for the misdeeds of his grandfather…writes Dr Kailash Chand


rime Minister Theresa May described the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar in 1919 as a “shameful scar” on British Indian history, but stopped short of a formal apology. The massacre took place at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar during the Vaisakhi festival in 1919 when the troops under the command of Colonel Reginald Dyer opened fire at a crowd staging a pro-independence demonstration, leaving scores dead. The Indian community in Britain is demanding an unconditional apology. The flag bearers of the Empire have been quick to take credit for the good things it may have given to India. What the British establishment needs to show now is not only its considerate attitude but also the fact that it can accept the wrongdoings during the Empire Era. It shows Britain’s commitment to good relations, humanitarian values and maturity as a responsible state. Just a regret by the British prime minister is not enough for this crime. But, the common man, who is not a historian, finds it difficult to understand why Jallianwala Bagh happened and what was the immediate reaction to it. Exactly 100 years ago, India had just emerged from the First World War having made enormous sacrifices, and

a huge contribution in men and materiel, blood and treasure, to the British war effort, in the expectation that it would be rewarded with some measure of self-government. The reward was, massacre in Amritsar’s Jallianwala Bagh on April 13, 1919, when the British Army troops were ordered by Colonel Dyer to fire at a crowd holding a pro-independence demonstration. Officially General Dyer had

killed 379 unarmed men at Jallianwala Bagh, unofficially number runs to over one thousand. It is among the blackest episodes in the history of British Empire. It was cold-blooded murder by a callous, conceited, narrow-minded unimaginative man, who should have been court martialled and dismissed. Instead he was lionised and a fund was raised for him from England. In

spite of the Martial Law, disturbances took place in various parts of Punjab. Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala, grandfather of the present chief minister of Punjab, Capt. Amrninder Singh gave full support to the Raj. Lt Governor O’Dwyer acknowledged this in his autobiography. Maharaja Bhupinder Singh was not alone. All other Punjab princes did the same. Servile loyalty of this kind did not

do the princely order any good. Even Churchill condemned the Jallianwala Bagh killings. “A History of the Sikhs: 18392004” by Khushwant Singh, read: “General Dyer tried to win over the Sikhs as best he could. He summoned the manager of the Golden Temple and Majithia and asked them to use their influence with the Sikhs in favour of the government. He sent out movable columns through Sikh villages to wean them away from the influence of mischief makers and to prove that “sircar” was still strong. Priests of the Golden Temple invited the general to the sacred shrine and presented him with a siropa (turban and kirpan). At a time when India is demanding an unconditional apology from the British govt for the mayhem that changed the course of independence movement, it’s high time likes of Capt Amrinder Singh too apologise for the misdeeds of his grandfather. Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn has sought for an unequivocal apology for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. The House of Commons should follow the lead given by Mr Corbyn and adopt a unanimous resolution, condemning the massacre. Britain Owes Reparation to Her Former Colonies.


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DAMAC delivers GBP175 million vote of confidence in UK


AMAC International has secured a development financing package of £175 million for London’s landmark project, DAMAC Tower at Nine Elms. The partnership marks a major vote of confidence in the United Kingdom, at a time of heightened political and economic uncertainty. The securing of the ₤175 million across three major lenders including Barclays Bank, which acted as the UK lead bank, Burgan Bank, and Emirates NBD, completes the financing of the project, DAMAC’s premiere development outside of the Middle East. The package is matched by significant equity commitment from the leading developer. “In a vote of confidence in the United Kingdom and DAMAC’s track record, we have secured significant support to complete our distinctive residential development in London,” said Hussain Sajwani, Chairman of DAMAC. “DAMAC Tower continues to garner strong interest from customers seeking premium branded real estate in one of the most desirable addresses

in the world, and its success has encouraged us to seek the next investment opportunity in London, which we are currently engaged in detailed discussion to secure,” he added. D A MAC has been able to achieve close to 55 percent in private residential presales, in what has been considered as challenging market conditions. The successful close highlights the confidence the banks have in DAMAC’s ability to deliver strong returns in new geo-

SRK invites people to be his guest in Dubai


s superstar Shah Rukh Khan reaches the final leg of his mysterious journey traversing through the magnificently adventerous locales of Dubai solving puzzles and riddles unravelling the unknown he realises he has come to know the city like his own, there is a “feeling of belongingness”. The 53-year-old superstar has been featuring in a series of videos that are part of a promotional campaign for Dubai Tourism’s #BeMyGuest campaign. The minute-long video starts with a flashback of the riddles he has already solved to get the three hidden coins in Dubai, which lead him to a

final clue. As he solves the cryptic message, Shah Rukh has to “go back in time” to understand the meaning of the coins. The final video discloses that the coins mean: “Be my guest”, as is explained by his host Saif, a sheikh. Saif asks Shah Rukh what he has seen. The actor says: “Dubai. Like I have never seen it before. Like I belong.” The actor sees the Middle Eastern city like he has never seen it before. The #BeMyGuest campaign consists of a series of films across social media and online platforms, highlighting iconic locations and sites in Dubai.

graphical locations and target markets “Barclays has a strong and longstanding relationship with the UK real estate sector and so our support in this landmark project was an obvious fit and underlines our ongoing commitment to residential development of all sizes in our home market,” Dennis Watson, Head of Real Estate, Barclays Corporate Banking. “Once again, we affirm our confidence in DAMAC Group as market leaders in delivery of high-end residential development, and the continued fundamental attractiveness of the UK as a whole,” said Mohammad Al-Mael, Head of Corporate Banking, Assistant General Manager, Burgan Bank. “Having become known for offering differentiated financial products, it was natural for us to partner up with DAMAC Group on this distinctive development, with a significant development financing package in the UK,” said Raashed Amin, CEO, Emirates NBD Bank, London Branch. DAMAC Tower at Nine Elms will be the first in Europe to be designed in partnership with Italian fashion house, Versace Home.



AMAC Properties announced preliminary financial results for the year ended December

2018. DAMAC reported a total revenue of AED6.1 billion, while net profit stood at AED1.2 billion. Booked sales for the same period were reported at AED4.3 billion, while total assets stood at AED25.2 billion. Shareholders’ equity stood at AED14.1 billion as at 31st December, 2018. During the same financial period, DAMAC delivered over 4,100 units, the highest number of units completed by the Company within one calendar year. The units delivered were spread across flagship projects DAMAC Towers by Paramount Hotels & Resorts Dubai, DAMAC Heights, DAMAC Majestine, Avanti Tower, as well as several mid-rise buildings and villas within the DAMAC Hills community. The year also saw the completion of several community facilities and the hosting of on-going community events at DAMAC Hills, as additional residents and retail outlets joined

the community in 2018. As of 31 December 2018, a total of over 4,000 units have been delivered at DAMAC Hills. Construction continues at additional community amenities, including health and wellbeing facilities, retail outlets and a 2,000 square meters dedicated skatepark. Construction also continues at DAMAC’s second residential community in Dubai, AKOYA Oxygen. During the same financial period reported, over AED 6 billion worth of contracts were awarded for the AKOYA Oxygen community. “We have worked closely with our partners to meet our commitments, and are pleased with our achievements in 2018. We are also proud of the UAE leadership and the ongoing public initiatives that are supporting the sector’s recovery,” said Hussain Sajwani, Chairman of DAMAC Properties.

Smart Customs Channel


ubai Customs has announced the launch of a smart channel dedicated to Expo 2020 Dubai, providing customs services to exhibitors taking part in the global event. The ‘Expo 2020 Smart Customs Channel’ provides exhibitors with customs services via their smart mobiles and devices around-the-clock, which will help exhibitors finalise their customs transactions easily. The channel relies on advanced systems, including risk engine, iDeclare, and the B2G channel which serves UPS, Expo 2020’S logistics arm. “We make sure our initiatives and projects dedicated to support Expo 2020 reflect our progress that we reached in facilitating trade,” Ahmed Mahboob Musabih, Director of Dubai Customs, said. He added, “We use the latest technologies and Artificial Intelligence, AI, applications as part of a nationwide vision of turning Dubai into a global economic hub and a strategic link between regional and international markets, and in support of Dubai Silk Road project; one of nine projects published by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, that aim to develop the quality of life and guar-

antee a better future for generations.” Musabih added Expo 2020 channel will connect work teams directly with the exhibitors in an ‘integrated seamless system’. Universities Invited Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, DEWA, will organise the second webinar to learn about participation in the 2nd Solar Decathlon Middle East, SDME. The webinar will be held on Tuesday, 16th April. DEWA has invited universities from around the world to register for SDME, which it organises in 2020 under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council. SDME is part of a partnership between the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, DEWA, and the US Department of Energy. The second SDME builds on the success of the first, which DEWA organised in November 2018.

“The first Solar Decathlon Middle East, which DEWA organised for the first time in the Middle East and Africa, was a great success. It attracted over 600 students and academics, comprising 54 nationalities, and 15 teams from 28 universities in 11 countries, reflecting the UAE’s position as a hub for creativity and an incubator for innovators. Dubai’s hosting of the first and second SDME, with total prizes exceeding AED20 million, reflects the Emirate’s position as a city of the future that embraces sustainable solutions and provides space for creative youth from all over the world to innovate,” said Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of DEWA. The Solar Decathlon Middle East, which is the largest and most competitive and challenging competition among international universities, aims to involve the youth in the sustainable development process, and encourages them to innovate and unleash their creativity in developing innovative solutions that support global efforts to address the negative impacts of climate change. “We realise that young people are the driving force for building a brighter future. The first SDME saw innovative models for sustainable smart homes designed to suit the cultural, social, and climatic conditions of the Middle East.


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nion Coop, UAE’s largest Consumer Cooperative expected its financial results for the year 2018 with total revenue of AED 2.8 billion and a sales of AED 2.3 billion, thereby registering a net profit of AED 466.3 million. The tremendous figures justify the strong financial performance of Union Coop in the highly competitive retail market. H.E. Khalid Humaid Bin Diban Al Falasi, CEO of Union Coop said, “Despite the challenges faced by the retail trade sector, Union Coop has maintained its dominant position in the market by adhering and complying with best international standards and adapting them to suit the local culture of our country in general and the Emirate of Dubai in particular,” He points out to the fact that the movement of the market and its trends affects the retail sector in any country like every other sector. He stressed that “The financial results for 2018 revealed by Union Coop presented the real financial position, strength and solidarity, despite the high level of competition in the

H.E. Khalid Humaid Bin Diban Al Falasi, CEO of Union Coop speaking during the press conference.

market and frequent shifts, Union Coop managed to maintain its leading position in the retail market as well as a major competitor within.” Dismissing all rumors, Al Falasi mentions, “The rumours being promoted through unverified sources of private WhatsApp groups and brokers are intended to damage Union Coop and shareholders who are UAE Citizen by trying to negatively influence a large pioneering National organization of Union Coop’s size that contributes towards building a sustainable

economy for the future generations.” CEO noted that “Union Coop is reassuring and pretty confident that what is going on behind closed doors, is aimed at harming the shareholders, is nothing but a whirlwind in a cup that will disappear soon enough. Additionally, Union Coop has begun to prosecute brokers, rumor makers and WhatsApp private groups. Union Coop Board of Directors and Management totally rejects any kind of infringement to shareholder interest.” Al Falasi further appealed to the

shareholders not to listen to these rumours and to maintain their confidence in Union Coop’s performance. He supported his statement by pointing out that shareholders’ equity amounted to AED 2.84 billion, an increase of AED 329.2 million compared to 2017. A total number of Union Coop shareholders reached 33, 527 by the end of 2018, with an increase of 2,604 shareholders compared to the year 2017, with a growth rate of 8.4 per cent. In a similar context, the CEO said, “Union Coop works together with other important entities and organizations to provide social benefits for the community members. In 2018, we spent about AED 41.4 Million on community contributions and Shareholder Happiness programs, while providing financial and moral support to 64 organizations in various fields, thereby enhancing shareholders’ confidence in Union Coop’s performance and future. He further adds, “Union Coop is witnessing a major expansion through its implementation of many projects, classified under the categories of – the ones’ that are under construction and

the others which are at the planning stage, with 17 projects of which are branches and malls.” “The share price of any company in the world is tied to its financial performance, and the step to move towards electronic trading will regulate Union Coop’s share performance, which is in the interest of shareholders and provide them with the convenience and security in trading through an electronic platform to achieve centralization of trading, which will also provide a transparent price to all, based on supply and demand equation of the market”. “There is no intention to list the Union Coop’s shares on the Dubai Stock Exchange, and the step taken regarding the digitization and updating shareholders’ data is just a process of work developing the trading process according to the latest digital insights in the financial markets,” he said, praising the shareholders who updated their data, and appealing to those who did not, as the same is necessary to stop the manipulation of brokers and fasten the digitization process.”

Omani Minister garners support for Expo 2020 We must all join forces to make Expo 2020 Dubai a success, says Omani minister … reports Asian Lite News


tressing the vital importance of Expo 2020 Dubai to the Sultanate of Oman, Dr. Ali bin Mas’oud alSunaidy, Minister of Commerce and Industry, said, ”We must all join forces to make this international highprofile gathering a success.” Speaking to the Emirates News Agency, WAM, on the sidelines of the Oman-UAE Economic Forum held recently in Omani capital, Muscat, Ali al-Sunaidy, revealed an agreement with the UAE to facilitate the registration of Small- and Medium-size Enterprises, SMEs, in the UAE so they can partner with their Emirati counterparts in efforts contributing to the success of the prestigious international expo.” He said Oman is completing a number of infrastructure projects and is developing new promising free zones where businessmen and investors in both countries can establish joint ventures. According to him, there were 2,800 joint UAE-Omani companies and Emirati companies in Oman investing in a wide range of sectors including industry, health, education and tourism. Expo 2020 Dubai is the first World Expo to take place in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region.

Expo 2020 Dubai runs from 20 October, 2020, to April 10, 2021. More than 200 participants, including 190 nations, multilateral organisations, corporations and educational institutions, are expected to take part under the theme: ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’. . Expo 2020 expects 25 million visits, with 70 per cent of visitors to come from outside the UAE – the largest proportion in the 168-year history of World Expos. @asianlitemedia


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How clean is President Trump?

Russia probe vindicates Trump, but Democrats will persist in pursuit of cornering him. With the Russia probe behind him, Trump may see an opportunity to navigate the treacherous political waters without the dark cloud of impeachment dogging him in the 20 months before the presidential election… writes Arul Louis


fter being hounded for over two years by accusations that he treasonously colluded with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election, US President Donald Trump has won an exoneration after an arduous investigation and his opposition has received a setback. But any reprieve is only temporary and the Democratic Party’s leaders were unmoved by the summary of the finding of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe released by Attorney General William Barr on Sunday afternoon and vowed to continue their own Congressional investigations of Trump. After Barr released the summary in letters to Congressional leaders, Trump told the media that the probe and the Russian collusion charges were an “an illegal takedown that failed” and called for a probe of “the other side”. With the Russia probe behind him, Trump may see an opportunity to navigate the treacherous political waters without the dark cloud of impeachment dogging him in the 20 months before the presidential election. The Democratic Party’s Congressional leader Hakeem Jeffries said earlier on Sunday on a CBS TV talk show: “We are not focused on impeachment”. And the Mueller findings did not rise to the bar set by Speaker Nancy Pelosi that there should be “something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan” for an impeachment. Trump may be able to regain some his standing to focus on pressing issues like the China trade negotiations and the North Korean nuclear stalemate. He can claim a victory and the Democrats appear to have suffered a setback because of their singular over-reliance

on the RussiaTrump collusion theory to bring him down in their rage after Hillary Clinton’s stunning defeat in the 2016 elections. After 22 months of investigations involving 500 witnesses, examination of thousands of pages of documents, and 500 search warrants, Mueller has ruled out Trump’s or his campaign’s involvement with Moscow. Trump gloated in an email to supporters: “NO COLLUSION, NO OBSTRUCTION - COMPLETE EXONERATION”. But most Democrats are unconvinced about the clean chit and have demanded the release of the full report hoping to find material to continue their pursuit of Trump. “A short letter from Trump’s handpicked Attorney General is not sufficient,” Senator Kamala Harris tweeted. Mueller has given them ammunition to continue their attacks on another front: Trump did not get an exoneration on a key allegation that he had tried to obstruct the investigations into Russian interference, which would be a crime. With a note of ambiguity, Barr said that in this regard Mueller’s “report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him”. The Mueller investigation also produced collateral damage to Trump’s reputation by association as five key members

of his team, including campaign Chairman Paul Manafort, his personal lawyer Michael Cohen and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, have been convicted but only on charges like lying during investigations and tax and financial fraud unrelated to the Russian link-- as result of information unearthed during the probe. If these prosecutions were meant to pressure them to testify that there were Russian links, they did not work. Mueller also established that Russia interfered in the elections through a campaign of disinformation and social media manipulation to “sow social discord”, and by hacking Clinton’s and Democratic Party’s computers and email and publicising damaging information. Of the legal action launched against 34 individuals and entities during the probe, some involved Russians. The action now shifts to Congress and federal and state prosecutor’s offices where elements from the Mueller investigation may be used. Having wrested control of the House of Representatives in November midterm elections, the Democrats are poised to launch investigations by several committees into various aspects of Trump’s businesses, campaign, conduct and foreign

involvement. Many of the panels have demanded that Trump officials preserve documents they may require. Federal prosecutors in New York are looking into Trump’s property deals and whether his swearing-in gala received illegal foreign contributions, and possibly into actions by his family members. New York State Attorney General Letitia James is investigating loans from Deutsche Bank to Trump’s enterprises and has taken action against the Trump charitable foundation. There are also personal civil cases pending against him in several places. When Trump spoke of the “take-down” that failed and said “the other side” should be probed, he was speaking to the deepseated fears among his supporters that a well-entrenched establishment - the Washington “swamp” as Trump has called it was conspiring to overthrow him. Trump supporters in Congress like Devin Nunes have said that there was an orchestrated campaign within the administration of former President Barack Obama and within the Federal Bureau of Investigation against Trump. This they say started with a dossier on Trump compiled by Christopher Steele, who had worked for the British intelligence service, and was partially paid for by the Clinton campaign through a US private investigation company. It was shared among politicians and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. They also allege there were various leaks of information damaging to the Trump campaign by officials. Another sore point for them was the decision during the last days of the Obama administration to not take action against Clinton for using a private email server for classified information in violation of rules.



S President Donald Trump has called on Russia to “get out” of Venezuela following recent reports of Russian planes arriving in the country. During an Oval Office meeting with Fabiana Rosales, the wife of opposition National Assembly leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself as Venezuela’s interim President in January, Trump was asked whether Russia’s involvement complicates the situation in the South American nation, reports CNN. “Russia has to get out.

What’s your next question?” Trump said. When asked what the US can do to increase pressure on the regime of incumbent Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Trump responded: “They’ve got a lot of pressure right now. They have no money, they have no oil, they have no nothing. They’ve got plenty of pressure right now. They have no electricity. “Other than military you can’t get any more pressure than they have... All options are open.” Vice President Mike Pence also addressed the arrival of

the Russian planes at the Simon Bolivar International Airport near Caracas on March 23. “The US views Russia’s arrival of military planes this weekend as an unwelcome provocation and we call on Russia today to cease all support for the Maduro regime, and stand with Guaido, stand with nations across this hemisphere and around the world until freedom is restored,” Pence said. While the Trump administration made a bold declaration by recognising Guaido as the acting leader of Venezuela, Russia has continued to back

the embattled Maduro. In December, signs pointed to Russia and Venezuela deepening ties as the Kremlin extended a lifeline to the cash-stripped country by agreeing to restructure $3.15 billion of debt payments that it owes Moscow. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday and called on Moscow “to cease its unconstructive behaviour” in Venezuela. Pompeo also warned that Washington “will not stand idly by as Russia exacerbates tensions in Venezuela”.


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Who is fuelling insurgency in Kashmir? Pak generals are creating terror groups in Pakistan to convert Kashmir into a battleϔield—several terrorist groups were funded, armed and trained before being pushed into Kashmir under the cover of ϔiring from Pakistani Army stationed on the Line of Control. These were Punjabi groups, battle-hardened in the Afghan Jihad and their presence and activities created a widespread fear psychosis among the people of Kashmir which fanned violence and sense of alienation….writes Tahir Ershad Hussain


ashmir, once a peaceful enclave of forests, streams and high snow mountains, home to a syncretic culture of Sufism, is today a valley rift with violence and bloodshed because of Pakistan. Not content with the territory it got from the carved out subcontinent, Pakistan has been doing everything possible since 1947 to capture this beautiful Indian state. In this frenzy, it has held hostage not only Kashmiris but people of the sub-continent and beyond. The key drivers of this Pakistani perfidy has been its army and the Generals who have exploited imaginary hurts perpetuated by falsehoods about Kashmir. A few months after the independence, the army, instead of focusing on consolidating the new country, decided to put together a ragtag of an army with tribesmen drawn from the tribal areas to launch an audacious attack on Kashmir. This violent brigands plundered, raped and ran through peaceful communities in the area till they were stopped in their tracks by the brave Indian forces. The terrorists were pushed back as quickly and so were the plans of the Generals. This was the first defeat tasted by the Generals and for years they chose to stay away from Kashmir.

It was in the late 80s when the Generals emboldened by their role in supporting the West-led military campaign against the Soviets in Afghanistan, took courage to turn to Kashmir. They first attempted to recruit local Kashmiris; the plan died an early death with the Kashmiris finding it quickly enough that Pakistani had no love lost for them; the Generals wanted the property and had no intention to give anything in return to the people of Kashmir. The Generals then set up terrorist training camps across the border, in the illegally occupied territory of Kashmir and lured the youth in the valley through all kinds of chicanery, including religious blackmail. In the early 90s, these brainwashed youth returned to the valley to launch a violent agitation which helped Pakistan, at least for a short while, to spread falsehood about Kashmir and people’s aspirations. But with the Indian government and its security forces making a determined effort to scuttle

these nefarious designs, the Pakistani Generals brought in mercenaries from the Afghan Jihad to rev up violence. With this effort too failing to make any great impact, the Generals set up creating new terrorist groups in Pakistan to convert Kashmir into a battlefield—several terrorist groups were funded, armed and trained before being pushed into Kashmir under the cover of firing from Pakistani Army stationed on the Line of Control. These were Punjabi groups, battlehardened in the Afghan Jihad and their presence and activities created a widespread fear psychosis among the people of Kashmir which fanned violence and sense of alienation. The Pakistanis spared no effort in creating this situation in Kashmir. Besides pushing in terrorists into the valley, they spread falsehoods about the Kashmir situation in the international forums. It was a consistent and vociferous campaign, generously funded with the drug money, which showed Pakistan as a victim of terrorism and not its perpetrator. The Pakistan Army manipulated the domestic as well as international media, funded fake NGOs in London, Washington and other world capitals to spread canard about India at various international forums.


Who is calling the shots in Pakistan? Prime Minister Imran Khan was at his rhetorical best when he addressed the Parliament during the recent Indo-Pak crisis. But who wrote the script? Instead of expressing the views of the civilian government, the PM speaks the language of the military establishment….writes Dr Sakariya Kareem When Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan made his speech in the National Assembly on 28 February 2019 announcing the release of Wing Commander Abhinandan, there was much euphoria. There was also a suggestion made by some that Imran Khan should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his conciliatory tone and attempts to make peace with India! One wonders if anyone has seen the full speech that former Pakistan cricketer Imran Khan and current Prime Minister made to a Joint Session of Parliament in the National

Assembly recently. Every bit of it is filled with innuendos and charges against India. The speech on the floor of the National Assembly not only justified terrorism, denied the existence of terrorist groups in Pakistan and implied that the Pulwama attack was an Indian conspiracy! Well, the Pakistani PM was at pains to explain that his government had tried its level best to control the jihadi groups and was being forced to take action against them because of the pressure from FATF. PM Khan said India’s attitude had indicated that before the gen-

eral elections in India some big incident might take place which could be used by the Indian government to its political advantage. He added that “Meanwhile the Pulwama incident took place and finger was pointed at Pakistan 30 minutes after the incident. If India had any evidence, it should have shared it with Pakistan.”. Imran Khan went on to claim that Pakistan had received the Indian dossier showing proof of the links between the Jaish and the Pak ISI a day after India had struck the JeM madrassa in Jaba Top in Balakot. The Pak Prime Minister had the guts to

imply that the Pulwama attack could have been done by India because of the forthcoming elections! He also said that Pakistan had been expecting some incident before the election. Does this not make it clear to the world that it was Pakistan which was preparing to create chaos in India prior to the election? Imran Khan said Kashmir was the bone of contention between the two countries and now people of India should think about solution to the issue. “Due to brutalities of Indian armed forces, there is an indigenous movement of the Kashmiri’s. I fear

t h a t more attacks c a n take place in Kashmir and again Pakistan will be blamed for them,” he added. Pakistan’s Prime Minister argued that the insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir was an indigenous movement, with little support from Pakistan! One is struck by the brazenness of this Pakistani politician, backed of course, by the Army, to claim that the jihadi’s in Kashmir have no support from Pakistan. @asianlitemedia


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Who Is Spiking Silk Road to Europe? The Chinese companies involved in the CPEC and Gwadar projects are quite miffed at the slow progress on the part of the Pakistan government in approving the projects…writes Rifan Ahmed Khan


ecently Chinese President Xi Jinping met Europe’s top leaders told to discuss his dream project – the new Silk Road. But the Western leaders are pessimistic about the real intention behind the project. They don’t want a one way traffic for Chinese goods to European markets. They are all wanted a fairer trading relationship with China, signalling an openness to engage with Beijing’s “Belt and Road” infrastructure project. The project is progressing on a snail pace at one sector because of the lethargy of co-partners. China has invested heavily, in terms of money and resources, and prestige, in the ambitious ChinaPakistan Economic Corridor project (CPEC). The development of Gwadar into a major transportation hub is a key to the success of this project. The Chinese companies involved in the Gwadar project are quite miffed at the slow progress on the part of the

Pakistan government in approving the Gwadar smart city project. The companies, which had prepared the smart city plan, have warned Pakistan that any additional cost-run would have to be borne by the Pakistan government. The Rs 521 million plan was submitted to the government in December 2018. The new government has not moved an inch on the proposal, rais-

ing heckles in the Chinese camp. This is not the first time the Chinese have expressed their displeasure at the typical Pakistani dragging of feet. For the Chinese, the project is of great importance, it is part of their grandiose plan to find footprints across continents, especially across the areas which are rich in energy and mineral resources, besides opening

routes to new markets for its products. For Pakistan, it is merely a cash-andcarry offer—lot of cash coming in and to carry the burden of debt and Chinese hegemony. The politicians were enthusiastic about it because it made them look good in the eyes of public—they are doing something worthwhile, and helped them to stash away wealth in far-off havens. The Generals have been whipping the horse because it gave them power over everyone and everything, except perhaps the Chinese. Gwadar is not an easy place to do business, at least for Pakistan. It sits in the heart of an internecine and ongoing Balochistan insurgency. The Baloch have been incensed with successive Pakistani governments, and Generals, for ignoring their rights and privileges in a federal system. Balochistan, despite being the largest and most resource-rich, remains the poorest region of the country. Several thousand Baloch have been killed in

the battle, thousands of others were murdered by the army and other security agencies over the years. The Chinese knew about these bloody history of the place they were investing in. But they believed what the Generals told them—they will take care of everything. The problem is the Chinese do not understand the Pakistani khaki—they boast a lot but are fiercely protective of only one thing—their interest. The Generals are not interested in the Chinese running a free show of a country which has been their hostage for decades. They want the Chinese firmly in a place where it will be difficult for them to get out or stay put, without hand holding the Generals. A glance at how the US have been made to go on a roller-coaster ride would have given the Chinese a foretaste of things happening in their favourite ally. The Gwadar project is just one of the stumbling coming their way.



fter months of delay, officials from Nepal and India will finally review bilateral ties as Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale arrives in Kathmandu. The fifth meeting of the Joint Commission at Foreign Ministers’ level in Kathmandu, which was initially proposed for February, did not take place at the time, reports the Kathmandu Post. Officials from both the countries are expecting to use Gokhale’s visit to review and assess the past commitments that were made during the visits of Nepalese Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli to India and two return visits of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Nepal last year. “As India is gearing up for general elections, the meeting of the Joint Commission at Foreign Ministers’ level was postponed. That’s why a meeting at the foreign secretary level is taking place to ensure smooth execution of old and new agreements and

understandings reached with India,” Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali told the Kathmandu Post. During former Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s visit to New Delhi in 2016, the two neighbours had set up the Nepal-India Oversight Mechanism to review the status of the India-funded projects in Nepal . Later, new agreements were signed during Oli’s visit to India, and the two leaders reached an understanding to resolve all outstanding bilateral issues during Modi’s visit to Kathmandu last May. Other issues and agendas on the table during the meeting are crossborder rail projects, construction of the Integrated Check Posts, transmission lines, Upper Karnali hydro electricity project, Arun III project,

Pancheshwar Development Authority, Tarai road projects, Mahakali bridges, Line of Credit projects and reconstruction projects funded by India. Apart from holding talks with Foreign Secretary Shankar Das Bairagi, Gokhale is also expected to meet Oli and Gyawali.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING Nepalese human trafficking victims numbering 179, including 147 girls, rescued in the past two weeks, were shifted to their home country from here on Sunday, authorities said. After a brief function, also attended by Chief Minister N. Biren Singh, they were sent off in eight buses under the supervision of Pravash Adhikari, a counsellor of Nepal Embassy. Police and officials of the Social Welfare Department, Manipur, will escort them to the Indo-Nepal border. The Chief Minister said adequate measures had been taken to prevent any human trafficking in the state. “The government has taken measures to ensure that such human trafficking do not recur. All police stations along the border have been

alerted and checks intensified,” he said. Biren Singh also thanked officials of the Social Welfare Department, police and NGOs for helping in rescuing them. The victims were lured on false promises of providing employment in various countries. They were to be taken to Myanmar. Police said some of them were intercepted at the Imphal International Airport while others were picked up from bus stands and hotels in the city. Three persons have been arrested in this connection, officials said. Police said it was not the first such incident. Some Rohingya girls have also been rescued in the recent past. Some girls from Manipur had been trafficked to other states and countries on the pretext of education, training and employment. The Social Welfare Department in an advisory has cautioned people from falling prey to assurances of lucrative education and employment.


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his is true of our lives, as it is of our political system. Now, as India is consumed by electoral frenzy, and the biggest democratic exercise of the world has begun, the question needs to be asked: What exactly is happening behind the corridors of power? What is happening inside North Block, or South Block? What is happening inside the party offices? These are small anecdotes, small pieces of a larger jigsaw puzzle and stitching them together allows one to take a glimpse at the larger picture. This time, I thought I would present a bouquet of different stories, which will perhaps allow a reader to get a glimpse of the full picture. The Narendra Modi government is very upset with Attorney General (AG) K.K. Venugopal. Now 88-yearsold, the Centre doesn’t want to change the AG, especially so close to the elections. But the reason for the anger is this: That he told the apex court that the Rafale files had been stolen. This was neither the government’s view, nor the official defence ministry version. His claim was an attempt to counter Prashant Bhushan’s query on the leaked Rafale story. Later, the government clarified through affidavits presented by the defence secretary in the court that the file hadn’t been stolen, but that “one page had been photocopied and leaked”. If one tells the court that the file had been stolen, then the actual security in place at the defence ministry -- the custodians of India’s national security -- comes under the scanner. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told in closed circles that if the files were stolen, then she was responsible and would be in trouble. For now the situation is under control, but the murmurs remain: who leaked the file? Another foreign fighter company? An Indian mole? Inside South Block - a spy vs spy drama ensues. **** Dimple Yadav has a new best friend. Of late, she has developed a very comfortable relationship with

none other than Priyanka Gandhi. The two meet frequently and are talking to each other daily. The communications on elections continue, whether it has to do with selecting candidates for the campaigns or criticism of the BJP government. While Rahul-Akhilesh remains the primary channel for communication between the two parties, this is a valuable track two for the ‘mahagathbandhan’. **** There is no doubt that Modi is the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) star campaigner ahead of their 2019 campaign. Amit Shah and BJP leaders, including Arun Jaitley, have finalised the Prime Minister’s campaign strategy. It is clear that from the end of March, all through April and till May, he will hold a number of rallies - expected to cross 200. Every state unit wants him. Modi is fit, possibly healthier than all else in his cabinet. The Prime Minister’s massive medical team has admitted, gladly, that for the past five years they’ve been rendered jobless - he does yoga, exercises daily, eats less and has a diet primarily of salad and soup, wakes up early, doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink, is a vegetarian. There is only one problem: He has to maintain the health of his vocal chords. The Prime Minister’s voice, the pitch and tenor might well dictate the future of the BJP. It is not easy, especially with 3-4 rallies, a break in the voice is normal. Gossip in the Prime Minister’s Office is that Modi’s solution comes from an old saint from Varanasi, who has prepared an ayurvedic solution. The prescription: A very simple concoction of tulsi, kali mirch and mishri boiled in water. This concentrated juice will help him, while another solution is mulethi. **** The venue: Pakistan High Commission in Delhi. The event was Pakistan Day celebrations on March 23. But, the celebrations were taking place a day earlier. There was major controversy. A massive cordon of the Delhi Police was present. The Hurriyat Conference was a major factor, although no Indian representatives was

there. Both American and Chinese diplomats were present. The Chinese First Secretary (Political), Liu Ziuqin came, dressed gracefully in a salwar suit, while American Deputy Chief of Mission MaryKay L. Carlson was wearing an Indian saree, of which she has a massive collection. But irrespective of the controversy, it was clear that they were all fond of the rich, spicy and delicious Pakistani cuisine. On most occasions, diplomats tend to steer clear of such dishes, sticking to the safety of soups and salads. But during the celebrations, they gorged on biryanis, kormas and kebabs. **** The Prime Minister’s mammoth campaign began in earnest after March 25. In the coming election, Modi is the star and only Shah and Jaitley were present, when his campaign strategy was discussed. A plan, spanning approximately 40 days from

March 25 to the first week of May. On an average, the Prime Minister will hold three to four rallies daily in different states. A central rally in a state capital, followed by three more. So, 40 multiplied by four, at least 160 rallies. Potentially, 200 rallies and each state, going to the polls in the seven phases, are desperate to have Modi campaign in their state. Now it fell on Jaitley to deal with the Herculean task of delving into the demands and deciding the area where the rallies will take place. The main theme of the campaign is Sashakt Bharat -- strong nation, with good governance. Most wanted slogans: ‘Namumkin abhi mumkin hain’, ‘Hum sab chowkidar hain’, ‘Modi keu pachta nahi’, ‘Mahamilwat ka halt’, among others. The Prime Minister might end up going to Bengal, north east and Odisha more often since he is trying to get more seats in the area. Jaitley’s role will be one that he has played during many elections -- holding the war room in Delhi and each morning he has been training the spokespersons’ panel. In this, Ravi Shankar Prasad has been aiding. The combination of the rallies each day is also very important and in order to ensure that all of this is planned to perfection, Jaitley has been coming to the party office every day in the morning. The new party office, as a result, is abuzz with activity -and all the gossip about the vastu not being ideal there has also been proven wrong. **** Is this what a love-hate relationship is all about? Is there bad news in the mahagathbandhan again? A few days back, Mamata Banerjee and Rahul Gandhi sat together at Sharad Pawar’s house in Delhi. This was only to give the message that they were together. But recently, Rahul Gandhi went to West Bengal and at rally in north Bengal, he once against launched an attack on Didi, claiming that Modi and Banerjee were the same. It is no surprise that Didi was upset and unhappy with Rahul Gandhi’s reaction. She didn’t go for an

alliance with the Congress before the election, but with the Congress president’s personal attack on her and naming her, what will she do? Will she also attack Rahul in north Bengal? To be or not to be? Didi’s question is simple: Senior people in the party and Rahul Gandhi should figure out who is their target in 2019, Modi or Mamata? **** At a time when the BJP headquarters at Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg in Delhi is abuzz with activity, workers are with teeming all around, meetings are taking place, plans for the campaign are being chalked out, thali after thali is being consumed at the canteen, there is one constant: Jagdish Bhai Bhatiya. A real estate businessman from Malviya Nagar, he isn’t a politician. But he is much in demand for many who want him to canvass for the party in their areas. The reason: because of how similar he looks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Many senior BJP leaders have already made the mistake, as has the SPG on a few occasions. An ardent fan of Modi, Bhatiya is often found in the party office, eating thalis at the canteen. He has also made an effort to work on his Modi look. He dresses like the Prime Minister and has even got a similar haircut. Every one, as a result, wants him in their constituency. In spite of not taking a single penny, Bhatiya is more than happy is his role. @asianlitemedia


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Emerging trajectories of 2019 polls POLITICAL CALCULUS

BY JAYANTA GHOSAL Indian politics is always moving along new, emerging trajectories. After 20 years of the Congress dominating electoral politics, it was perhaps in 1967 that for the first time the party faced a setback. In 1977, there was another strong anti-Congress mood prevailing in the country following the Emergency. But then, Indira Gandhi once again returned to power with a solid majority, partly due to the Morari-Charan Singh coalition experiment flopping. After Indira Gandhi’s sudden death, Rajiv Gandhi received a massive victory and from 1989 Indian politics entered, perhaps, its most dynamic phase. A coalition dharma continued until Narendra Modi’s electoral victory in 2014. I recall a particularly interesting anecdote from 1989. V.P. Singh had told both the communists and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that they needed to run the country collectively for a period of five years. He argued that there shouldn’t be any open quarrel, that any differences which could and most likely come up needed to be dealt with. To cement this, he instituted a practice of a weekly dinner. But even then, the differences were plain to see. At the dinner, with the Prime Minister playing host and the Left parties and the BJP - who supported his government - joining in, there would be two separate sections. One had vegetarian dishes and the other non vegetarian dishes. Veteran BJP leader L.K. Advani would queue up with his plate on the vegetarian side while the late Left leader Somnath Chatterjee would be on the other side. V.P. Singh would stand in the centre - a centrist leader trying to keep his two disparate allies together. We all know what happened next - the differences that emerged over the Mandal-Kamandal politics that defined politics. In 2019, once again, we are seeing the resurgence of coalition politics. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ridiculed the ‘mahagathbandhan’ as an instance of ‘mahamilawat’, with the opposition parties arguing that the Modi government has failed to fulfil the different regional aspirations of the country. The government is autocratic, does not believe in the voice of democracy and is a ‘threat to federalism’ are hashtags of the opposition campaign. The debate over federalism in the country is inevitably linked to the concept of coalition dharma in Indian politics. But, as we stand today in 2019, where does that coalition lie, what is the actual scene, the ‘zamini hakikat’ or ground reality.

Take the instance of Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal and his attempts at forging ties with Rahul Gandhi and the Congress in Delhi. It is a bad cocktail. Many in the Congress party’s Delhi unit remain pathologically anti-AAP, arguing that a short-term alliance with the party that dethroned them in Delhi would pose a long-term existential threat in the state for them. Let’s take another example. In Uttar Pradesh, neither Mayawati nor Akhilesh Yadav have reacted well to Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s political overtures. Even within the Samajwadi Party, there remain divisions. Mulayam Singh Yadav, his wife and daughter-in-law are actively working against Akhilesh, said party leaders. In West Bengal, the Congress and the Left alliance has crashed before it could start. West Bengal’s senior Congress leader Abdul Mannan tried a lot to make this happen. But ultimately, the personal chemistry between Mamata Banerjee and Rahul Gandhi is not at its best. Banerjee was never keen on an alliance with the Congress because she knows that in Bengal, the grand old party is in a state of decay.

Eventually, the BJP will become the main opposition. But right now, the Trinamool’s domination, on the basis of Banerjee’s brand equity in the state, is undeniable. She has virtually become the Congress in the state, taking up the space that they once occupied. She remains that rare leader who left the Congress and managed to take the entire vote share with her. She knows that if her party was to align with the Congress, it would be the Congress that would benefit more in the state than the other way around. In Andhra Pradesh, N. Chandrababu Naidu is in a more deplorable position. Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy has become a serious threat to the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and, as a result, Chandrababu had to forge an alliance with the Congress to try and portray Reddy as an agent of the BJP. For him, the strategy is perfect - but Banerjee remains more confident of her position so chose not to go into a pre-poll alliance. But does having Naidu on his side help Rahul Gandhi? In Telangana, he remains the main khalnayak since he was opposed to the formation of a separate state. One senior Congress leader admitted that the leader

had become a “gale ka haddi” (bone stuck in throat) for the Congress. Similarly in Maharashtra, the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party relations have not been the best. Sharad Pawar has never, personally, been a trusted leader for the Congress. The problem, historically for the Congress, is that they are not a very ally-friendly party. In fact, the Congress style still has a ‘zamindari’ mindset, a feudal attitude that is as deeply rooted to their party as its history itself. Earlier, the Congress working committee meetings would take place with leaders sitting on mattresses on the floor, white sheets pulled over them. It was a tradition that started from the earlier days of the Congress in Anand Bhawan in Allahabad. The building is now a museum, with the room where the meetings were held memorialized, complete with the mattresses and the white sheets. Rahul Gandhi has tried to bring about changes. Now, the Sonia-Rahul-led Congress Working Committee meetings are held in a corporate style. But this is just a change in form, an exterior change that failed to address the underlying issues. Can the Congress completely rework its zamindari DNA? When Rahul Gandhi took over the CWC, he also tried to go it alone. His goal was independent growth of the party. Why should the Congress presuppose coalitions? As a result, the formula for him was one of ekla chalo. The Congress meet at Pachmarhi was where the seeds of the coalition were planted and then under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi a roadmap was drawn out during the Shimla Summit. This yielded the party dividends then, but today the Congress has to reconsider. This coalition can only come through federalism, keeping the regional, so-called secular forces with

Rahul Gandhi. Recently, in the Karnataka Assembly elections, the Congress managed to remove the BJP government only by giving up the driver’s seat to HD Deve Gowda’s son, HD Kumaraswamy. But, that was a state election. Ultimately, at the national level, in order to combat Modi, a more serious face is needed and the grand alliance still remains in a shambles. There is growing discontent among regional parties and secular left-liberal intellectuals against him and the main complaint is that, so far, the interpersonal relations required to make such a coalition work has not been seen. Sonia Gandhi had once famously walked to Ram Vilas Paswan’s house from her own at 10, Janpath to forge an alliance. True, this was optics for the media. But, even then it was a strong message of her willingness. But, this is something that Rahul Gandhi cannot do. I do not want to pin the blame solely on him. Regional parties also have to take a share of the blame. Take Mayawati, for instance. Why is she so dead set against the Congress? Advani had told me a very interesting story years ago. When, for the first time, the BJP made an alliance with the BSP and the latter rejected the Congress proposal - it was the late Kanshi Ram who forged the alliance with Advani. Kanshi Ram told Advani: “I have told Mayawati, in the futureawhen I am not there, never go with the Congress. There should be no direct alliance.” Why? The reason that Kanshi Ram had explained to Advani was that the Dalit vote had originally been the Congress vote. It was Gandhi who used the term Harijan and it was only much later that the Dalit vote emerged as a force that demanded its own separate representation. Simply put, an alliance with the Congress could mean that this vote returns to the fold. Political scientist Rajni Kothari had once said in Indian politics it was the Congress system: a one party dominant (Congress), multi party system. Congress was the platform where all religions, all castes, all regional aspirations and all languages would vote. But as the leadership grew increasingly alienated from the masses, it was the end of innocence. Regional parties grew, and the BJP became a national party. For India, there have been Morarji Desai, Chandrababu Naidu, V.P. Singh, Chandrashekhar, Deve Gowda and I.K. Gujral. So, the country has experienced a coalition government. But the reality is that the Congress is weak today and railway bogies cannot run the engine. The fate of the mahagathbandhan remains shrouded in pessimism.


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SPECIAL: India Elections 2019

The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is looking for the second term to govern the nation. The question is whether Mr Modi should be given second term or not by the electorate …An analysis by Dubai-based NRI businessman Sudesh Aggarwal


he 2019 Indian general election is scheduled to be held in seven phases from 11 April to 19 May 2019 to constitute the 17th Lok Sabha. The counting of votes will be conducted on 23 May, and on the same day the results will be declared. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is going to be much below the half way mark of 272 seats and BJP shall emerge as the single largest Party. President of India is most likely to invite the single largest Party to form the Government. BJP will seek the support of Allies and other Parties to form the government, but knowing the working style of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it will be very difficult to garner the support under Modi leadership. It is quite likely that BJP shall form the Govt. but with some other person to be the prime minister of India. Modi is unlikely to repeat as prime minister. BRIEF HISTORY OF MAIN CONTENDERS Indian National Congress (INC) popularly known as Congress governed the nation most of the years since independence basically due to its engagement in India’s Independence Movement since 1885. It was the only Party functioning at that time other than many other people who participated in Independence Movement and laid their lives. India was populated by two main communities i.e. Hindus & Muslims. Differences had started erupting in these communities. Muslims being in minority got the sympathy of leaders of Congress. To protect the Hindus’ political, cultural and religious interests, RSS (Rashtriya Swamsevak Sangh) was formed in 1925 by Shri KB Hedgewar who was heavily influenced by writings of Shri Vinayak D. Savarkar professing the need for creation of a Hindu nation. RSS presents itself as a cultural organisation. Post-independence and after the adoption of the Indian Constitution in 1950 where India was declared a secular State, RSS formed its political arm to pursue its philosophy under the name Bhartiya Jan Sangh in 1951. In 1977 it merged with Janata Party to oust Congress from power. In 1980 when Janata Party split, Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) came into existence to pursue its philosophy. DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CONGRESS AND BJP Why I am comparing only these two Parties is that these are the only two Parties who have presence all over the country and have been the

lead Parties in governing the nation. To my mind BJP is different from Congress in 4 areas that it professes; Application of Uniform Civil Code Abolition of Article 370 of Indian Constitution relating to Kashmir Building Ram Mandir Establishing Hindu Nation HOW BJP CAME TO POWER IN 2014 BJP led by Shri Narender Modi came to power in 2014 due to allegations of corruption, inefficient governance and anti-incumbency (As UPA lead by Congress was in power for the last 10 years). Shri Narender Modi at that time exploited the situation very well by projecting himself a savior of India. He used his oratory skills and played all kind of cards i.e. Emotional, Gujarat model of Development, Chai Wala, From OBC Caste, Corruption free India Promises of Achche Din, 20 million jobs every year, Double the income of farmers, 1.5 million Rupees in the account of every Indian, Arousing nationalistic feelings, Return of black money slashed overseas,

Faster development Lower petrol and diesel prices and Showed dreams to the common man. The people of India believed in him and gave him and BJP power with thumping majority so that he can fulfil what he said in elections. It was only after 20 years that any Party got majority. Congress was reduced to its lowest seats in Parliament i.e. only 44. What happened during 2014-2019 With this thumping majority in Parliament, what he did was not in line to what he said during elections. Became dictatorial. Concentrated all powers within himself and PMO, No delegation of powers even to his Cabinet Ministers, No jobs creation, Demonetization for winning UP elections that costed nation in growth and loss of jobs, Farmers distress increased, Circumvented independence of institutions like CBI, RBI, ED etc. No black money came back Corruption is rampant but in a different form, No major reforms done, Administrative, Police or Judicial, Non-Transparent Rafale deal leading to believing in a Scam, No accountability, as did not hold

even a single press conference to answer media questions. Only one-way communication. 4th pillar of democracy made redundant. Managed media to his advantage with all kind of power, Collected huge funds for the Party, No reduction in Kashmir issues, terrorism etc. Even without at war, our security personnel kept on being killed, Continuous increase in Petrol and Diesel prices while international prices were falling Many programs were launched but poorly implemented, Skill India, Made in India, Swachch Bharat etc. Even being in power, went on accusing Congress to hide its own inefficiencies. It will wrong to say that nothing good happened. But inefficiencies and wrong doings outweigh the good things done as under; International image of India improved by his travels. GST introduction is good, but it has been badly implemented Reduction in corruption at higher level Speed up in infra development Moreover, PM Modi went on using his oratory skills to befool Indians with emotional cards of national pride, national security etc. without concentrating on good governance. Narrative for 2019 Elections Realizing that it is not going to be easy for PM Modi to return to power when his image by people is perceived to be of Jumla Sarkar (a Govt. which only makes rhetoric statements to befool the people) based on lies, lies and lies. For this PM Modi changed the narrative for 2019 elections as under; Chaiwala to Chowkidaar National Security Any body raises any question is made to be anti-national, Dragged military into political

gambit If not Modi, then Who More aggressively to play with the sentiments of the people with his oratory skills, Follow no principles, take by hook or crook winning candidates from wherever they are, Profess New India though vision 2030 stated in budget speech is faulty. Announced vote catching programs and schemes in the last 3 months before elections. Accuse Congress and other Parties aggressively Likely outcome of 2019 Elections In 2014, BJP had 282 seats from States as under; 16 States have 424 MP Seats BJP 178 won 178 seats major from; UP 71/80, Maharashtra 23/48, Karnatka 17/28, Jharkhand 12/14, Bihar 22/40, Delhi 7/7, Haryana 7/10, Assam 7/14 19 States and UT have 118 MP Seats BJP won 104 seats major from; Rajasthan 25/25, Madhya Pradesh 27/29, Gujarat 26/26 and Chattisgarh 10/11, Himachal 4/4, Uttrakhand 5/5 If you look at above BJP won 263 seats out of 341 seats i.e. 77% of seats from 14 States. BJP won only 19 seats out of 201 seats from 21 States and UT’s. In my opinion BJP will go down in seats tally in 14 States from where it won 263 seats. How much is anybody’s guess only. The chances of BJP increasing its tally in 21 States and UT’s are not so good. (Sudesh Aggarwal has been living in UAE since 1975. He did MBA with B.Com background in 1973 and worked as a Management Consultant with an international professional firm for 4 years before embarking on the journey of establishing business. He is an established Industrialist and have featured in top 50 and 100 Indians in the Gulf in Arabian Business and Forbes list. Mr. Aggarwal has been actively involved in Indian Politics and established a political party in 2008. Party contested elections in the States of Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, UP & Delhi. Mr. Aggarwal himself contested two Lok Sabha and one MLA election in Haryana and have addressed a r o u n d 6000 public meetings) @asianlitemedia

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The Indian missions abroad had dedicated staff to deal with the grievances of NRI’s related to any issues. The idea is to set up similar stafϔing who can help the NRI community in the ϔield of Education, Health, Working Conditions, need for ϔinancial services and safe return to India in case of any emergencies….reports Taha Coburn-Kutay


he announcement of re-establishment of Ministry of Overseas Indians in the Congress Manifesto is welcome news for Non-resident Indians. The erstwhile ministry was active in the previous regimes before the NDA government decided it to merge it with Ministry of External Affairs. Non resident Indians remitted approximately 80 Billion US dollars to India in the fiscal year 201718 which is approximately 3.5% of India’s GDP. This is significant amount for which if the Indian government has a dedicated ministry that will give further confidence to Non-resident Indians to have a home away from home. Congress has also promised to remove Angel tax for Start-up businesses in India which will further benefit the Indian economy via investments in to Indian start up ecosystem from NRI’s. The

ministry will play a vital part in monitoring these investments and businesses for the NRI community. The single window clearance for NRI to start businesses in India was a part of MOI previously which helped a lot of NRI’s to establish businesses in India without any issues locally. The Indian missions abroad had dedicated staff to deal with the grievances of NRI’s related to any issues. The idea is to set up similar staffing who can help the NRI community in the field of Education, Health, Working Conditions, need for financial services and safe

return to India in case of any emergencies. The appointment of monitoring teams of NRI’s to check the progress of missions abroad is one of the things proposed in the manifesto. This is an important and herculean task as missions really need to be monitored for taking care of its citizens in a foreign land. NRI’s have over the years excelled both in business and professionally making a global mark. This needs to be recognised and Ministry of Overseas Indians will play a big role in reporting this back to the Indian Government to recognise these NRI’s by awarding and rewarding them. We need to have dedicated service for our citizens and that is what has been promised in Congress manifesto of today. Let’s hope that this is delivered and we NRI’s have something to look up to in our adopted homeland.


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KASHYAP, JHA CAN SAVE BHOJPURI CINEMA: NITIN CHANDRA Natio National Award-winning ϔilmmaker Nitin Chandra says directors rectors like Anurag Kashyap and Prakash Jha can be saviours of Bhojpuri Anur uri cinema, which is stuck in a stereotype.


handra, who has directed films “Deswa” and “Mithila Makhaan”, interacted with M the t media for his upcoming music video “San san bam hey” by Suresh Wadkar in Mumbai. On Bhojpuri language aand its cinema losing gground, he said: “Languages ssuch as Awadhi, Braj, Bhojp jpuri and Maithali are almost ddisappearing from the educated middle class as there is no ed education in these languages and no government support, especially peci to Bhojpuri. “This situation has given rise

to crisis in terms of literature, music and cinema in our languages. Barely anyone is making respectful cinema, writing literature or creating music in the languages of these two states (Bihar and Uttar Pradesh), which is worth worrying”. Chandra said it is upon filmmakers and people with influence to shape and improve the condition or general opinion about their mother tongue because cinema has a bigger cultural expression and representation. “Celebrated filmmakers Prakash Jha and Anurag Kashyap hail from Bhojpuri speaking areas and yet they are not making cinema in Bhojpuri language despite seeing its miserable condition. I feel they can still save Bhojpuri cinema. Filmmakers from south, Marathi, Punjabi and Bangla region have concentrated on their own cinema, creating a respectful

Sophie Turner

Karishma Sharma to play aspiring actress

opens up about pay disparity on ‘GoT’


ctress Sophie Turner says her “Game of Thrones” co-star Kit Harington was paid more than her, and she was okay with that.

The 23-year-old actress is on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar U.K.’s May issue in which she has revealed why she was okay with her on-screen brother, Harington, having a bigger paycheck for the eighth and final season of the popular series, reports “(It’s) a little tricky,” she told the magazine of demanding equal pay. “Kit got more money than me, but he had a bigger storyline. And for the last (season), he had something crazy like 70 night shoots, and I didn’t have that many. I was like, ‘You know what... you keep that money’.” Despite her own acceptance about making less than Harington, Turner has made it a point to fight for equality on sets, adding an inclusion rider in her contracts -- demanding 50 per cent of the crew be women -- and expressing joy that issues such as these are being discussed. “Now, you see women in the camera departments, producing, directing. It’s exciting,” she said. “... (Executives are) more willing to listen to people saying, ‘I want the same amount of money’. So things are getting done, but it will take a while, I think.”

identity and livelihood for locall people.” Chandra’s music video will ll be out on Tuesday. On associating with somee of the biggest names in the music usic industry to improve the state of Bhojpuri content, he said: “In the past, we have collaborated with ith Sonu Nigam, Sherya Ghoshal, al, Mika Singh, Hariharan, Swaanand Kirkire, Sunidhi Chauhan an and many more to sing in Bhohojpuri and Maithili for our digital ital channel, Bejod. “Once you collaborate with th a good artiste and create good content, it helps shape up the stature ture of language and give pride to Bhojpuri speaking people who are yearning rning for it.”

Ragini MMS Returns” actress Karishma Sharma will play an aspiring actress in ALTBalajis upcoming show titled “Fixer”. “Initially, I wasn’t sure about doing the show. But after reading the script and understanding my character, I was excited to be on board. My character is a small-town girl who goes to Mumbai to be an actress,” Karishma said in a statement. She was also part of ALTBalaji’s “Ragini MMS Returns” and “Hum - I am Because Of Us”. “I am once again happy to work with ALTBalaji. It’s like a home production to me, as my last few web series have been with them,” said Karishma. “Fixer” is a story that focuses on the life of a tainted ATS officer from Delhi who is drawn into the murky underbelly of Mumbai’s movie mafia and industrialists, and soon becomes a fixer.

Vidya Balan would love to spy on Big B


f “Bobby Jasoos” actress Vidya “It has to be Amitabh BachBalan had to turn a spy, she says chan, as his thoughts or his feelshe would love to investigate ings are never given away by his megastar Amitabh Bachchan. expressions. He has this straight On her radio show “Dhun Badal Ke face and that’s quite intriguing Toh Dekho”, Vidya opened up about to decode. Of course, he is absoher habit of decoding people in real life. lutely different when he faces the Vidya was in conversation with a radio camera.” jockey, who asked her who would she Regarding Sridevi, Vidya said: want to spy on in real life. “There’s another person I would The “Bobby Jasoos” actress named have loved to investigate, but she her “Paa” co-star Big B and said the late is no more and that is the legendSridevi would have been an ideal subary Srideviji. I am a huge Sridevi ject, read a statement. fan, and I feel ecstatic to have paid “While I have never faced the need her a tribute with her iconic song to spy on someone, but I would love to ‘Hawa Hawai’ while she was amongst us. know everything about everyone since I love decoding peo“While she couldn’t see the film, she did attend the ple. There is this ‘keeda (urge)’ in me... I love getting to screening and I am just glad I could do that.” know people. Vidya’s radio show airs on 92.7 BIG FM. @asianlitemedia


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ctor and BJP MP Hema Malini, who is seeking reelection to the Lok Sabha, joined farmers and tried her hand at cutting the wheat crop in this region in Uttar Pradesh, inviting scorn from the opposition. She even picked up a bundle of wheat crop and carried it some distance, much to the amusement of

villagers, in Govardhan area here. Opposition leaders called her action “nautanki”. Hema Malini later told the media that she wanted to be one with farmers and identify with their problems and aspirations. “When I was going to the villages, I saw golden coloured wheat ready to be harvested... I tried my hand. Wom-

en in the fields welcomed me warmly. We visited 10 villages,” she said. “I have also done a lot of work in Braj area. People will vote for me,” she said. Against Hema Malini, the Congress has fielded newcomer Mahesh Pathak while the SP-BSP alliance has given ticket to Kunwar Narendra Singh.




ctress Kalki Koechlin will reportedly join the cast of Netflix’s popular series “Sacred Games” Season 2, which will return this year with a new trail of betrayal, crime, passion and a thrilling chase through Mumbais underbelly. The highly-anticipated season will see a mix of old favourites and fresh new characters to drive the storyline to its intrepid twists and turns, Netflix had said earlier. Now there is a buzz that Kalki, whose film “Candyflip” was released on Netflix earlier this year, will be part of the second season of “Sacred Games”. The second season picks up from Sartaj Singh (actor Saif Ali Khan) pursuing his relentless battle of saving the city and Ganesh Gaitonde (actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui) facing bigger challenges to retain his position as the legendary kingpin of Mumbai. The intriguing Guruji (actor Pankaj Tripathi), introduced in season one as Gaitonde’s ‘third father’, plays a pivotal role in unfolding a chain


ctress Huma Qureshi is setting major winter style goals from the streets of California. Be it her cruise tour in San Francisco or a luxurious trip to Napa Valley or her snow play fun at the Yosemite Park, the “Badlapur” actress has been playing around with fashion at different destinations. For the cruise outing, she opted for a combination of royal and sporty look and wore a long printed red coat with green pants along white shoes. At the vineyards at Napa Valley, Huma went for a plain black top with a printed co-ordinate. She looked uber stylish with a wine glass in her hand, and set some party dressing goals. For her snow outing, the 32-year-old actress covered herself up with a dark coat with faux fur on the hood, and a bright stole to beat the chill.

Kim Kardashian anxious about her fourth baby


eality TV star Kim Kardashian West is anxious about baby number four. During an episode of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”, the 38-year-old shared that she and husband Kanye West are expecting their fourth child via surrogate. The couple are already parents to Chicago, 1, Saint, 3, and North, 5, reports “We have an announcement to

make,” Kim told sisters Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian, mother Kris Jenner, Kris’ boyfriend, Corey Gamble, and Kourtney’s ex, Scott Disick. “We’re having a baby. We’re having a boy.” Kim later admitted to sister Kylie Jenner that she’s “low-key freaking out” about the pregnancy. “I didn’t think it was going to happen,” she said. “I thought like ‘Oh, it probably won’t even take’.”

P R I N T • D I G I TA L • O N L I N E • E V E N T S •

of events that shape the next season. Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap will continue directing Ganesh Gaitonde’s track, while director Neeraj Ghaywan will take over Sartaj Singh’s plot. Vikramaditya Motwane and Varun Grover will continue their roles of being the showrunner and the lead writer respectively. The first season also starred Radhika Apte and Kubbra Sait. Last December, “Mirzapur” actress Harshita Gaur had confirmed that she had bagged a pivotal role in “Sacred Games” season two. Actor Jatin Sarna, who made a big impact with a small role as Nawazuddin’s volatile hitman Bunty in “Sacred Games”, will also be back in Season 2 of the Netflix series, although his character was killed in the first season. “The second season goes into a flashback. My character Bunty is on a wheelchair. So I need to harness and control my natural energy level to play a subdued physically limited character,” Jatin said.


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When a masterpiece fails to become one Why has Ritesh Batra let us down so miserably with his latest ϔilm? Think about it. It had everything going for it. A director whose ϔirst ϔilm, “The Lunchbox” became the most beloved Indian ϔilm since Satyajit Rays “Pather Panchali” and who has since then worked with international icons like Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, Jim Broadbent, Charlotte Rampling. BY SUBHASH K. JHA


atra’s new film had a cast and a lead pair that looked tempting, if not entirely inviting and most of all, it was meant to be the NRI director’s homage to the city he loves the most, Mumbai. But Mumbai in Batra’s “Photograph” looks like a city that is losing it sparkle and drowning its dream. The fact that the characters are flat and the presentation is listless could have something to do with why the city doesn’t come alive in the way it did in “The Lunchbox”. In fact the stillness, the terrifying inertness that surrounds some of the characters seemed so palpable, I thought I was missing something. So I sat through the film a second time. Well, that’s not entirely true(I couldn’t watch all of it again). But untruth is what this misfired masterpiece is all about.And it’s truly astonishing how some of our critics have fallen for the ruse, describing the film’s “wonderful quietude” and “ordinary characters” as something to be lauded. Funny, how responses depend on labels. If this same film had been made by Jagmohan Mundra (God bless his soul) it would been dismissed as pretentious and boring.

But more about the hypocrisy of celebrating labels rather than the quality of the product, some other time. What really bothers me is how the sheer atrociousness of the basic plot in “Photograph” could have been so wholeheartedly embraced by the critics here. We even had some of them justifying some of the film’s most impossible situations. Try this. A Muslim migrant photographer, Rafi, living on the edge of Mumbai’s povertyline asks a homely simple girl from a Gujarati middleclass family, Saloni, whom he knows only from a photograph, to pose as his girlfriend for the sake of his doting demanding Daadi. Rather than slap him in his face, Saloni agrees!! The reason she gives later (she doesn’t talk much, as she is supposed to be quietly ruminative, though Shakespeare once said that those who talk less do so because they have nothing to say) is because that snapshot which Rafi clicked of hers made her look much happier than she actually was. Are we really buying into that logic? Ok then. That photograph is passed on in Saloni’s classroom from student to student like a prized gold coin found in a muddy playground. This is meant to be some kind of a comment on how unhappy Saloni is. But the flip

side is Rafi’s sunny (to the point of inducing a sunstroke) grandmother who descends on to Mumbai like a firecracker in fast-burn.She talks all the time and yes, everyone loves her, both in the film and among the salivating critics who raved about it. This feisty grandma character seen in Shoojit Sircar’s “Vicky Donor”, and more recently in Amit Sharma’s “Badhaai Ho” and now in Batra’s film has become a huge cliché, and it is now customary for every critic to love the Feisty Grandma. Alas, the character has nothing in this film to sink her dentures into. In fact such is the torpidity of the Mumbai that Batra loves so much that the most exciting thing that happens to Grandma is off screen. When she was travelling to Mumbai to excitedly meet her grandson’s phantom-fiancee, a childbirth happened in the train. Or so she tells us. Was she making it up? That untruth would fit in most appropriately with the mood of this film, an ode to the art of artifice where even nostalgia is tripped over. In one sequence we see Saloni and Rafi in a rat-infested movie theatre. The song playing on screen is “Tumne mujhe dekha’. So I presume they are watching “Teesri Manzil”. Errr, which year is “Photograph” based in? Teesri Manzil was released in 1966. But then

there is also a reference to a song in the film “Noorie” that was released in 1979. Nothing in the personality or behaviour of the characters suggests the 1960s or the 1970s except maybe the pigmentation fixation. A cabbie who drives the dark-skinned hero and the light-skinned heroine comments: “Are you two actors? Why else would she be seen with someone like you?” Why indeed.

Intense roles take a toll American television continues on me: JACKIE SHROFF to embrace Indian actors


laying an intense role exhausts Jackie Shroff at times , but the Bollywood veteran says that is the fun of living life as an actor. The actor essays Mustafa Bhai, a prisoner in Hotstar’s “Criminal Justice”, which is a remake of the eponymous British drama. On playing a complex character like this, Jackie told IANS: “Intense roles take a toll on me emotionally. It is exhilarating at times for any performer because what you see on-screen is a series of emotions in our performance in a sequence. But in a film, we do not shoot them like that. “The difference between a stage performer and ours is that on stage, you are in one flow with the character. But when we shoot a film, we are not shooting all the scenes in the sequence we watch it in. So, much back and forth happens and we have to mould ourselves to those emotional graphs. I, therefore, try to control my breathing, try to take control of my body, so that I can emote, project and perform.” “Criminal Justice” is helmed by Tigmanshu Dhulia and Vishal Furia and produced by BBC India and Applause Entertainment. It is a part of Hotstar specials. Jackie, who has been working in the film industry since 1982, earned popularity with films like “Gardish”, “Khalnayak”, “1942: A Love Story” and “Rangeela” among many others. He still remains rooted to reality -- to his childhood life in the Teen Batti Chawl.


iversity in American television seems to be on the rise as actress Pallavi Sharda is the latest Bollywood actress to bag a show in the US. Pallavi, who has featured in Bollywood films like “Besharam” and “Hawaizaada”, has been chosen as the female lead opposite Mike Vogel in the ABC drama pilot “Triangle”. Directed by McG, “Triangle” poses the question, what if the Bermuda Triangle was not a watery grave in the middle of the ocean but a land lost in time that has trapped travellers over the course of human history? Pallavi will reportedly play Alex, David’s (Vogel) girlfriend who is trying to connect with his teen daughter Natalie (Sarah Catherine Hook). Earlier this year, veteran actor Anupam Kher shared on Twitter that his series “New Amsterdam” has been confirmed for Season 2. The actor played a neurosurgeon in the first season of the show inspired by Bellevue, the oldest public hospital in the US. He had also featured in the American web television series “Sense8”, that starred his son Sikander Kher, actor Purab Kohli and actress Tina Desai

as well. Last month, there were reports about Priyanka being in talks with Amazon Prime Video for some projects. The streaming platform had shared that a behind the scenes documentary on the Jonas Brothers is underway. And Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke credited Priyanka for it. “I love Priyanka and she introduced me to Nick Jonas. as. They sent me a video and we bought ought it right away and that’s how we came about it,” Salke had told IANS. S. “I love her... So you u can look forward to us doing more work with Priyanka,” she added. Before that, Priyanka, ka, now married to singer Nick Jonas, s, made waves in the US with her show w “Quantico”. It didn’t get a fourth season but “Quantico”, from ABC Studios and producer ucer Mark Gordon, was a breakeakout when it debuted in 2015. The show starred red Priyanka as Alex Parrish ish -- an FBI recruit who ho joins the agency after er graduating from the FBI BI Academy and becomess a prime suspect of a ter-rorist attack on Grand d

Central Terminal. Season three saw Alex going back to navigating the dangerous waters of the CIA that she left behind when she retired to Italy. She won two People’s Choice Awards for her role. Nimrat Kaur is another Indian actress who has been successfully maintaining a balance between her work internationally and in the Hindi film industry. @asianlitemedia


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n celebration of the Year of Tolerance and the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji, Gurudwara Guru Nanak Darbar Dubai organized the Punjabi Culture and Heritage Festival at the Indian High School Dubai. The Al Maktoum Foundation Dubai which is an organization focused on humanitarian work at the local, regional and global levels initiated by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum was the patron and sponsor of the event. The packed schedule included a video presentation on Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of Sikhism and the first of the ten Sikh Gurus. Panel discussions were about the teachings and travels of Guru Nanak Dev Ji as well as the Punjabi poetry and literature. Panelists consisted of some of the most specialized personalities in their respective fields. Teachings of Guru Nanak Devji session panel members were Ms. Sukhwinder Amrit, an ambassador of Punjabi poetry that won many accolades from the international fora. Mr.

Gurbhej Singh Guraya, a law graduate from Punjabi University and an advocate at district courts in Sirsa. Dr. Roop Singh, Chief Secretary of Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) and Secretary at Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Medical Sciences & Research, Amritsar. And Dr. Jaswant Singh, Director of Gurbāni Research at the Sikh Research Institute and has worked at the Sikh Centre Singapore in conducting courses on Guru Granth Sahib, Sikh religion and history. Travels of Guru Nanak Devji session panel members were Mr. Gurbhej Singh Guraya, Secretary of Punjabi Academy. Mr. Jaspal Singh, Member of National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions, Government of India. Dr. Balkar Singh, Former Head & Dean Director of World Punjabi Centre. And Prof. Sarbjinder Singh, a renowned theologian and historian with Masters in history, religion in Punjabi (M. Phil) and Ph.D in religious studies from Punjabi University Patiala. Punjabi Poetry and Literature

The performances of Pure Bhangra Group

session panel members were Mrs. Bubbles Kandhari, Vice Chairperson of Guru Nanak Darbar Gurudwara Dubai, Director of Al Dobowi Group, and Chairperson of Young Hearts Group & Dubai Ladies Group in Dubai. Ms. Avneet Kaur, a psychologist, a motivational speaker, and a life coach. Dr. Charandeep Kaur, a specialist dermatologist and an active volunteer for social and humanitarian works. And Ms. Sukhwinder Amri, a

poet of the new generation that has brought in new images and new concepts in Punjabi poetry. The program was attended by H.E. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Indian Economist & Former Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission of India, H.E. Navdeep Singh Suri, Indian Ambassador to UAE, H.E. Mirza Al Sayegh, Director of the Office of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai &

(From Left to Right) Mr Surender Singh Kandhari, H.E. Navdeep Singh Suri, H.E. Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Ms Rajiee M Shinde.

Minister of Finance UAE, and Rajiee M Shinde, President of Epic TV India. “The year 2019 is declared as the Year of Tolerance by the UAE Government to affirm the values of tolerance and co-existence among cultures. We are indeed most fortunate that UAE not only values harmonious coexistence but also upholds these values that are being echoed to the rest of the world. Gurudwara Guru Nanak Darbar Dubai through the Punjabi Culture and Heritage Festival celebrated and showcased the essence of Punjabi culture and traditions through panel discussions and cultural performances,” said, Surender Kandhari, Chairman of Gurudwara Guru Nanak Darbar Dubai. The performances of the renowned Pure Bhangra Group, an allmale Bhangra dance and an all-female Gidda Jugni dance, delighted the audience. But the main performance of Kanwar Grewal made the night more special. Kanwar is a celebrated sufi singer with hit songs Akhaan, Jogi Nath, Ticktan Do and Mastana Jogi among many others.


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HOPE now services in the UAE Kerala’s HOPE Child Cancer Care Foundation is now making its services available in the UAE … reports Asian Lite News


erala’s HOPE Child Cancer Care Foundation, an NGO devoted to the management and care of Children suffering from various cancers is now making its services available in the UAE. HOPE’s office near Qusais Metro Station was inaugurated on 22nd February by Sheikh Humaid Bin Rahid Al Qasimi, of the UAE royal family. HOPE’s initiatives in UAE aims at creating awareness among the parents of children with cancer and the general public on the cancer treatment options available in India and abroad. Sponsor, Faisal Jamal Al Kaabi released the

Brochure detailing the activities of HOPE in UAE by giving first copy to KP Saheer stories. Healthcare city director, Muhammad Shareef launched the website, and HOPE Director Jojo C Kanjirakkadan introduced HOPE to the audience. HOPE Chairman, K K Haris delivered the keynote address. HOPE Director Dr. Zainul Abideen spoke on HOPE Beyond Leukemia project. Shamsudheen Nellara, Ibrahim Elattil, AK Faisal, AAK Musthafa, Salam Saqafi, Basheer Thikkodi, Sidheek Forum Group and others gave felicitations. HOPE Director, Riyas Kilton welcomed the audience and Krishna Das proposed vote of thanks.

Gatha Bags Top Lit Prize Top honour for Keralite student as she is selected to receive the prestigious Sheikh Hamdan Award in Dubai… reports Asian Lite News.


harjah Indian School student, Ms Gatha JJ, is all set to receive the 201819 Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation’s academy award on April 30th. Gatha’s academic excellence, humanitarian activities, writing, painting and her magnanimous personality were all considered for the award. “I was born in Kerala and raised there till seven years old. Being an avid reader, I participated in various competitions related to my

academics, and even won the Spelling Bee conducted by Reliance, when I was six,” Ms Gatha revealed to Asian Lite. “I won District competitions in Quizzing and even competitions for Painting from the royal family. When I came along with my parents to UAE, I expanded my horizon in reading for many years. I started going out for science fairs when I was 14, helping me develop so many of my skills,” she added. Gatha is the daughter of the Trivandrum, Konchiravila resident Mr Jayachandran Nair and Mrs Jayasree. Gautham is her sibling. “I understood the need to give back to society and desired to volunteer my services and did so at many occasions like the MENA Games hosted by the

Special Olympics, Relay for Life etc.,” she said. “I took up many hobbies to spend my time, mainly art, reading and science. By the age of 16, I was extremely fortunate to release the best from my collection of poems I had written when I was 14. It was titled ‘Little to Somewhere’ and released at the Sharjah International Book Fair,” she continued. “As of now, I’m preparing for the All India Entrance exam for medical aspirants so I can pursue my interest in medicine and later specialise in Oncology,” she added. “I have been working towards awareness for the cause of Mental Health as it is one of the most important yet overlooked causes. Oncology, as a field requires a careful balance of both medical science and empathy, and that is why I wish to pursue it after careful contemplation. I would definitely plan and pursue more to enhance mental health among my peers as well as society,” she said.

Year of Tolerance magazine launched Asian Business Leadership Forum launches Year of Tolerance special edition magazine … reports Asian Lite News.


he Asian Business Leadership Forum, ABLF, has launched a special edition magazine celebrating the Year of Tolerance. The special edition, launched by the Forum’s Royal Patron, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance, spans the ABLF’s twelve years of success, capturing the energy and economic zeitgeist of the ‘Great Asian Century’. “The ABLF celebrates regional and international dialogue and cooperation to promote growth and create a better future for the region,” said Sheikh Nahyan during the launch. “Over the years, the ABLF has been very effective in communicating the qualities of leadership in Asian countries. Its various activities and functions have demonstrated that effective leaders are self-motivated, but are committed to a cause that is shared by many.” The platform and magazine also received the support of the UAE Ministry of Economy. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, said, “The ABLF is a unique platform to engage in economic and trade dialogue. It is attended annually by senior government officials and people in business from key Asian countries. The Ministry of

Economy remains keen to support various initiatives that strengthen the existing ties with the business community, to serve the strategic and developmental aspirations of the state.” The 68-page issue offers a glimpse of the ABLF’s 12-year journey, and the collection of articles, interviews and original commentaries provide an insightful overview of the Asian economic and business zeitgeist. Commenting on the Forum’s achievements, Malini N. Menon, ABLF Co-Founder and Permanent Member of the ABLF Executive Council, said, “There is pride in where the ABLF stands today as an inclusive, non-partisan and progressive UAE-based event series, facilitating prestigious collaborations and showcasing front runners across sectors, markets and economies of Asia. “With this dynamic consortium of ABLF partners, associates and participants across regional and global conglomerates controlling cumulative revenues of over US$900 billion, the ABLF network enables meaningful partnerships that continue to power the economic rise of Asia,” Menon added.


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Showcasing Sari’s Multiplicity Popular designers such as Rimzim Dadu, Rohit Bal and Wendell Rodricks celebrated the multiplicity of sari on the runway of the Lotus Make-Up India Fashion Week (LMIFW) grand ϔinale in New Delhi.

The grand finale paid homage to the adaptability ingrained in the warp and weft of this traditional fabric, which hasn’t lost its relevance pan-India despite western onslaught. Today, the sari has seen many innovative and artisanal renditions to woo the modern, thinking woman in a youthful way,” Sunil Sethi, President FDCI, said in a statement. Other designers or brands who presented saris and their myriad interpretations included names such as Akaaro, Alpana & Neeraj, Amit Aggarwal, Anamika Khanna, Anavila, Anita Dongre, Bodice, Gaurav Gupta, Little Shilpa, Neeru Kumar, Pankaj & Nidhi, Payal Khandwala, Prashant Verma, Raw Mango, Rohit Gandhi + Rahul Khanna, TAANI by Tanira Sethi, Tarun Tahiliani and Urvashi Kaur. The fashion extravaganza was preceded by

a nationwide social media campaign celebrating six yards of magic. For some, the sari is #sixyardsoflife; for others, its #sixyardsofhistory, #sixyardsofinheritance, #sixyardsofdrama, #sixyardsofselfexpression, #sixyardsofmagic or even #sixyardsofmischief. The #sixyardsof campaign invited women across India to post their images in their saris on social media and tagged them with the emotion evoked by the draped wonder. “The sari has remained a symbol of femininity and versatility, two key elements of our philosophy, making it a perfect fit for the ultimate showcasing at LMIFW. What’s interesting is new dimensions are being curated out of the existing template of the sari to make it culturally emblematic,” added Nitin Passi, Jt. Managing Director of Lotus Herbals Pvt. Ltd. @asianlitemedia


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axmi Agarwal, whose life as an acid attack survivor has inspired an upcoming Bollywood film “Chhapaak”, said she found it amazing how people were finding beauty in the ‘burns’ that actress Deepika Padukone sported for the movie. Laxmi was attacked when she was all of 15. Over the years, she has been vocal about her experience and actively campaigns against acid attacks. Last week, Deepika unveiled her first look from Meghna Gulzar’s “Chhapaak”, and it was widely lauded by the film fraternity. What was Laxmi’s first reaction on seeing Deepika’s look? “I was happy to see Deepika’s first look from the film. The response and the messages I got on social media was overwhelming. In fact, it was my daughter’s birthday, and more than messages for her, I got congratulatory messages about the film. “I was feeling good that a celebrity has come in that look. A lot of make-up artistes changed a

natural face to acid distorted face after that (on social media). And I felt, ‘see, they are finding beauty in an acid-burnt face’,” said Laxmi, who was a showstopper at the just concluded India Runway Week here. Laxmi was on her way back home from music class when a man, twice her age, threw acid on her for rejecting his advances. Her face and

other body parts got disfigured in the attack. With “Chhapaak”, she feels happy that Bollywood is coming out with real al stories. “People are intrigued by Bollywood. wood. A long time ago, a film named ‘Tezaab’ ab’ came out. It spoke about beauty. Today, beauty through films is shown in a different nt manner and the youth will see and learn,” rn,” she said. Asked about her involvementt with the rgely tightfilm, Laxmi who has remained largely lipped about it said: “I was involved ed with the film,” and was happy to share the story of her akers of the struggle and survival with the makers film. “I am always open about my life fe because I have seen several people in myy journey who are doing a lot in front, but are suffering behind. I feel if you are an inspiration ation for someone, then you should come out and talk about these things. Laxmi is an open book,” she said.

sonam to share style secrets


he has always raised the fashion bar with her sartorial sense, and now actress Sonam Kapoor Ahuja is set to unravel some of her style secrets in an upcoming web series. Belgian chocolate ice cream b r a n d Magnum

on Tuesday came up with a MagnumXSonam collaboration announcement video, which sees the diva create intrigue about the upcoming style project. Sonam said it is thrilling to endorse a brand which has a “hallmark for indulgence and style excellence”, and w which “reflects exactly what inspires my st style”. “It’s no se secret that I live and breathe fashion. It de defines me in more ways than

one and I believe in taking my style very seriously. With Magnum, I’m here to cocreate a space that encourages fashionistas to make their own style rules and break free from stereotypes. Stay tuned for my upcoming style project that I’ve taken great pleasure curating,” Sonam said in a statement. While fitness is a part of her daily routine, she said ice cream has always been her guilty pleasure.

Kohl-rimmed eyes steal Hindi silver screen Traditional kohl-rimmed eyes are back in vogue, and men aren’t afraid to sport the look or pack some kohl in their vanity case.


he ancient cosmetic, which gave on-screen villains like Pran a statement look, is now doing the trick for Bollywood’s leading actors like Varun Dhawan and Ranveer Singh. It’s now become a sign of amped-up masculinity. Here’s a list of some names, who have worn kajal with great style, listed by IANS: * Varun Dhawan in ‘Kalank’: As his first look as Zafar from his forthcoming film “Kalank” released last month, Varun was seen sporting kajal to get the fierce image on the big screen. * Ranveer Singh in ‘Padmaavat’:

With eccentric mannerisms, powerful performance, long locks and kohlrimmed eyes -- Ranveer managed to enthrall the audience and enchant everyone with his menacing character as the deadly Alauddin Khilji in the Sanjay Leela Bhansali directorial. * Aamir Khan in ‘Thugs Of Hindostan’: The stark similarity between Aamir as ‘Firangi’ and Johnny Depp’s character Jack Sparrow in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series caught the eyes of many. Everything about Aamir’s character seemed to be inspired by the Hollywood star. Aamir’s and Depp’s make-up for the movie was quite similar as both

were seen sporting heavy kohled eyes, a moustache and a beard. * Shah Rukh Khan in ‘Raees’: A Muslim man clad in traditional Pathani suit, dramatically kohled eyes, oversized glasses, and his usual charm -- Shah Rukh looked convincing as a rustic villain. * Abhishek Bachchan in ‘Yuva’: Abhishek, who is fondly remembered as the dynamic Lallan Singh from the film, looks every bit macho with kohl smeared eyes. To add to that, Abhishek’s walk as a wannabe don and his demeanour throughout most of the film speaks of an unshakeable confidence.


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ushra Taimur and Hina Maryyum are the co-founders of Haute Secret Shoppers. Bushra is responsible for managing the global external affairs, making Haute Secret Shoppers a formidable international force. Aside from working to streamline operations, she oversees the sales, marketing, PR, client experience along with overall company strategy and international partnerships. Formerly working in banking for over a decade, her journey from finance to fashion has given Bushra has a strong love of entrepreneurship and empowerment. Hina is the driver behind the global brand’s management and successful infrastructure. With a keen interest across technology and innovation, Hina is a certified investment management analyst by trade - and certified style junkie by nature. British Asians changing the face of luxury lifestyle: The evolution of access in designer fashion Asian Lite meets the successful duo behind Haute Secret Shoppers. AL: Can you tell us a little about Haute Secret Shoppers? We are a private members style-hub for the international fashion elite. Haute Secret Shoppers is a high-fashion online shopping site providing bespoke luxury experiences tailored to our members individual high-fashion needs. AL: What makes Haute Secret Shoppers different? Whilst personal shopping has existed in various conventional forms for years, we are

Bushra Taimur

taking this form of shopping to another level. Not only are we building official relationships with retailers and designers to give clients access to products across the fashion industry but we are doing it in a new way. We are using the latest technology to develop and nurture closer relationships with clients. AL: What do your members have access to specifically? Can anyone become a member? Given our network and relationships with retailers and designers, we have the ability to procure and even pre-order exclusive options that may not make it to stores later. We also have access to sale previews and products that are not accessible by general public. Our global reach also greatly extends our buying ability. We do screen our members however our social media platforms are open for viewing. Access to certain products are however limited to Vip clients who are offered the option to buy them before others. AL: You both have strong investment banking backgrounds, why the change from finance to fashion? What do you miss about your previous life? What do you love about this one? Our backgrounds helps us in forming a better understanding of structuring our organisation. We were keen fashion followers which helped us identify this gap and turn it into a business venture. We dearly miss taking proper holidays as you have none when it comes down to running your business. However we do really cherish the sense of ownership and

Hina Maryyum

empowerment that having your own business brings. AL: Can you tell us about the markets you thrive in and the target demographic? What’s next for you? Our key markets are the Gulf and South Asia where we have a strong customer base. We also cater to UK, America and Canada and are experiencing increased demand in these regions. With planned marketing and PR campaigns in the near future and further investment in our logistics and infrastructure, we will be scanning up to expand our clientele with a focus on UK, Korea and China. AL: Where/ how do your personal shoppers fit into the equation? Whilst certain clients are attached with specific personal shoppers, general queries are managed as a team until a client develops a buying pattern. At this point, they are then handled only by a specific shopper who understands their buying preferences and full details of fit and sizes. AL: The evolving relationship between international established heritage fashion houses working with bespoke personal shoppers to penetrate new global markets is unlike ever before. Can you tell us a little about this shift and why you are at the forefront of the movement? Larger organisations are now realising the impact of more deeper and meaningful relationships with clients. It’s simply no longer a matter of someone just walking into a store and making a purchase. With the entire fash-

ion world accessible to view on our phones, the level of awareness is significantly different from before. In such a world where one is bombarded with information every second, buying decisions can be confusing and stressful. Increasingly hectic lifestyles combined with higher stress on looking a certain way forms a strong demand for having someone helping you shop with an unbiased opinion. All our social media platforms are dedicated to breaking down a lot of information and helping our clients make quick and easy decisions which they value. AL: Why would one come to you rather than go directly to the brand website? How can one order? Brand websites with thousands of products can be confusing. Our curated feeds help clients in breaking down massive amounts of information and hand holds clients through each decision. We also help clients procure items they may not be able to directly. Ordering through us is very easy. One can simply order throb WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram or our website. Payment is through a simple link by card, account transfer or PayPal. AL: What is on trend right now for spring 2019? Everything beige, top to bottom, for women. Sage for men is a big trend in colours. While spring is always about colours and prints, neon bursts are a must-have this season. Hair accessories are on trend from simple clips to big headbands. In clothing, sleek tailoring and slip skirts are a sure winner. @asianlitemedia


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Daring to go on another expedition INS Tarini’s all-women crew is ready for another expedition… A special report by Vishal Narayan


he ravages of the high seas may be daunting enough to sap the spirits of the hardiest of us, but they failed to intimidate these six women officers of the Indian Navy, who can’t wait to venture out again despite completing a gruelling 254day-long circumnavigation of the globe in a sailing vessel just about a year ago. Now the subject of a documentary by the National Geographic channel, the crew completed the 22,000 nautical mile circumnavigation in the indigenously-built INSV Tarini; crossed the three great capes: Cape of Good Hope, Cape Horn and Cape Leeuwin and tamed a storm or two all in a good day’s work. It was the first such effort by an all-women crew though two male Navy officers have previously done so solo. “We are raring to go back. The

thing with sailors is once they are hooked they can’t wait to go back. It’s like some spiritual exercise or a sport which you don’t want to stop playing,” Lieutenant Commander

Vartika Joshi, the skipper of the crew, told IANS after an event at the Lady Shri Ram College here to promote the documentary. The 45-minute-long documen-

tary, shot by the National Geographic team aboard the vessel after its return, will be aired on Friday on the occasion of International Women’s Day at 9 p.m. The crew underwent rigorous training of over two-and-a-half-years before embarking on the expedition, during which it had to contend with many a storm. The most ferocious of these was the one near Cape Horn. “We faced this strom near Cape Horn which struck with winds reaching 120 km per hour. We had been following the advance of the storm and it was inevitable we would have to face it. We somehow managed to be in the tail of the storm and did make some mistakes, but not many, otherwise our boat would have capsized and none of us would be alive,” Lieutenant S. Vijaya Devi, one of the crew members, said matter-of-factly. Another hiccup was when the

boat’s steering gear was damaged on the return leg to India. “It was near Mauritius. The sea was very rough. We had to make an emergency halt at Port Louis for effecting the repairs,” Vijaya said. Sailing has for long been considered a male pursuit and one of the first lessons the crew learnt before the voyage was to “forget your gender”. “The first thing we were told was to leave our gender behind. Circumnavigation in itself is such a hard thing, that you don’t have to add your gender to it. So we did that. We took inspiration from a lot of people,” another crew member, Lt. Commander Pratibha Jamwal, said. Other than Lieutenant Commander Vartika Joshi, the crew comprised Lieutenant Commanders Pratibha Jamwal and P. Swathi, and Lieutenants S. Vijaya Devi, B. Aishwarya and Payal Gupta.

Coffee with Kirron Kher

Bollywood star and MP from Chandigarh Kirron Kher launches her outreach campaign titled Coffee With Kirron Kher…. A special report by Suditi Jindal from Chandigarh, Punjab, India


n wake of upcoming general elections to constitute the 17th Lok Sabha, political parties are pulling out every rabbit from their hats to impress voters. One such effort is the outreach programme by the MP from Chandigarh, Mrs Kirron Kher, called ‘Coffee with Kirron Kher’. The purpose of this string of events, wherein 20-odd have already been completed and 20odd are more to go, is to invite residents from the vicinity to gather at a place and put their issues, questions, and complaints to Mrs Kher, who then addresses them with an intent to put in place a solution or put her efforts to get a solution. The latest gathering which was organised at a residence in sector 35, Chandigarh, has been the biggest till date with a participation of around 250 people. One of the matters that was

brought to the MP’s attention was the menace of stray dogs in Chandigarh. Mrs Kher said that her hands are tied in the issue, as a Supreme Court ruling required a number of conditions to be met for tackling the problems related to strays. On a lighter note, the parliamentarian advised that the locals appeal to Mrs Maneka Gandhi for this issue. Residents were also curious to know from their MP the reasons for her rooting for monorail to improve the state of public transportation. Mrs Kher said that if Punjab and Haryana could better manage their vehicular traffic that enters into and plies within Chandigarh, then she would provide more and better e-buses and rickshaws. In absence of that she advocated the case of monorail over the metro train, as the former would not disrupt traffic and normal life for years that are spent in construction, as has been the case in Delhi. She also stated that a monorail system would add beauty to the city which already has a very modern design. Residents also put up requests to allocate the flats of various government housing schemes which

have been lying vacant, to prevent their misuse by miscreants. The issue of certain public parks becoming unsafe after sunset for residents was also brought up for redressal. Asian Lite also got an opportunity to exclusively interview Mrs Kirron Kher. When asked about the accomplishment which is closest to her heart from the tenure that has almost come to an end, Mrs Kher replied that the provision of drinking water for all the residents round the clock, is the one. Asian Lite asked her what the residents could look forward to if she was re-elected. The parliamentarian said that she would like to do a lot of things like bring the monorail to Chandigarh, make Chandigarh a wifi-enabled city, introduce English as the medium of instruction in government schools, among others. Chandigarh’s dismal performance in Swachh Survekshan 2019, was brought up for Mrs Kher’s comments and remedies. She said that waste segregation at source needs to be put in place and training can be given to safai karamcharies and residents regarding segregating their waste and collecting the waste separately. She also pointed out the flaw in the

contract with the company assigned the job of solid waste management in Chandigarh, that has become the root-cause of the growing heap of dump in Dadumajra. She stated the contract comprised no exit clause, rendering the municipal corporation unable in terminating the contract with the erring company. The Supreme Court has provided relief and issued certain directions in this matter. She also pointed out that compost plants have been set up in some big areas for management of bio-degradable waste. Although, the item is under the purview of the local body, yet Mrs Kher said that she would put all her efforts in remedying the situation, once she is re-elected. Mrs Kher’s interaction with the public and the media was tempered with a lot of hope and promises for the future. What remains to be seen is how many will be swayed by her campaign.


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Sawhney takes over as Chief Executive of ICC


he International Cricket Council (ICC) on Monday announced that Manu Sawhney will assume the position of Chief Executive with immediate effect. Sawhney has been working alongside the outgoing Chief Executive David Richardson for the last six weeks. Richardson will remain with the ICC until July as originally planned to oversee the delivery of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019, a statement said. Commenting on his appointment, Sawhney said: “I am absolutely delighted to be taking over the reins from David who has steered the sport so capably over the last seven years. I am pleased to say he will continue to lead the delivery of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 and there is no better person to ensure the event is the greatest celebration of cricket ever. “I am excited by the opportunities ahead and I am looking forward to working in partnership

with our Members, partners and staff to ambitiously accelerate the global growth of the game. Technology, engagement, women’s cricket and driving greater value are key focus areas for us as we consider how we can innovate to transform the sport’s long-term future and create a vibrant and sustainable sport globally.”

Richardson added: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at the ICC and I am pleased with what we have achieved in recent times particularly in creating greater context for all formats of the game. “The ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup is the perfect point at which to move on and I am privileged to

be able to lead the delivery of this event and I know it will do our sport proud.” INDIAN TEAM The national selectors led by M.S.K. Prasad will meet on April 15 in Mumbai to pick the squad for the 2019 World Cup in England, starting May 30. India are considered one of the favourites going into this edition of the World Cup. The cut-off date is April 23 and the selectors have been waiting to watch the performance of some of the players in the ongoing Indian Premier League considering that the position of the number four batsman and the fourth fast bowler is still up for grabs. Speaking to IANS, a senior BCCI official said that the selectors wanted to wait a bit before finalising the squad and the ongoing IPL held them to take a look at some of the players who are in the radar to fill a couple of spots. “The selectors wanted to take it easy as they had time till April 23 to send in the squad for the World Cup. With the IPL on, it

always helps to see how some of the boys are playing,” the official explained. While most of the players pick themselves, Ambati Rayudu and Rishabh Pant are the two main contenders for the No.4 slot in the batting department. While Rayudu has flattered to deceive in this edition of the IPL, Pant has shown his brilliance in flashes. But his inability to finish games has been something that pundits have spoken about time and again in this IPL. Vijay Shankar is another player who could be looked at as an option considering that he has been looking to bat up in the order for Sunrisers Hyderabad in this IPL. The fourth pacer’s slot is something that the selectors will be sweating over as someone like a Navdeep Saini has been very impressive in the IPL for Royal Challengers Bangalore. Skipper Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri’s input will definitely be asked for before a final decision is made.

Super Cup fiasco: announces summer camps Who is to blame? T




r Praful Patel, All India Football Federation (AIFF) chief expressed happiness on being elected to the FIFA Council saying it meant more tournaments, international friendlies and exposure for Indian football, but regretted that the unified I-League clubs -- even after his assurance -- decided to boycott the Super Cup. “Despite my assurance, they (ILeague clubs) acted in a manner that is unbecoming of sportsmanship,” said Patel, the first Indian to enter the prestigious council. On the February 18 letter by the unified I-League clubs to the AIFF requesting a meeting to discuss issues related to the I-League, he said, “What is the point of having this meeting now since they have pulled out of the Super Cup.” The seven I-League clubs (Chennai City FC, Quess East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, NEROCA FC, Aizawl FC, Gokulam Kerala FC and Minerva Punjab FC) had on March 13 again wrote to the AIFF informing it about

their withdrawal from the Super Cup, before the start of the tourney. “We have together resolved to withdraw our respective teams’ participation from the upcoming Hero Super Cup 2019 due to the following reasons: (i) Our letter dated February 18 requesting General Secretary of AIFF to address the various issues of the I-League has not been responded to; (ii) no clarity of the I-League and its future; (iii) increasing inability to find financial sponsors in the absence of clarity of the League and its future; and (iv) lack of an agenda for the game at the grass root level,” the letter to the AIFF read. Kushal Das, AIFF general secretary, replied to the unified I-League

clubs on March 21, informing them that the AIFF president had agreed to meet and discuss the road map for Indian football between April 10 and April 15. By this time the qualifying round of the Super Cup 2019, which started on March 15, was over and three teams -- Minerva Punjab FC, Aizawl FC and Gokulam Kerala FC -- had withdrawn even after reaching Bhubaneswar, the venue for the Super Cup 2019. In a gesture of solidarity, Debashis Dutta, Director, Mohun Bagan club, on behalf of the unified clubs wrote to the AIFF general secretary the same day expressing readiness to participate. But he put a rider that sought in a clause seeking restart of the competition and rescheduling of the qualifying rounds. Finally, Real Kashmir and Chennai City FC broke away from the unified I-League clubs and participated in the Super Cup. Thus, whose fault was it? Was it the unified clubs, which preferred to boycott a tournament for a cause? Or was it the AIFF, whose late reply aggravated the issue? Some questions remain unanswered.

he Tendulkar Middlesex Global Academy (TMGA) announced the schedule for summer cricket coaching camps to be held in Mumbai in May. The curriculum for the camps has been developed jointly by cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar and the Middlesex County Cricket Club (MCCC) with an objective of providing the very best in cricket education. The camps will be held over four days each from May 2 to May 5 at the MIG Cricket Club, Bandra East, and from May 9 to May 12 at the D.Y. Patil Sports Centre, Navi Mumbai. Under the watchful eyes of MCCC coaches and international players, including Vinod Kambli, the camps will provide young cricketers with a unique opportunity to experience world-class coaching from specialist coaches. At both the venues, the camps will have a morning session for cricketers between the age group of 7 and 12 years while those between 13 and 18 years would attend the afternoon session. The cricketers who performed exceptionally at the camps held last year have also been asked to attend this year’s camps to further enhance their cricketing skills. Youngsters with exceptional potentials, who are unable to afford the camp fees, will be provided training free of cost. “Our whole ethos is to draw out and nurture the potential of talented young cricketers. I find it so exciting and rewarding to see them being given an opportunity to further enhance their skills in all aspects of cricket,” Tendulkar said in a statement. “The camps last year had an overwhelming response with brilliant feedback from the children and their parents. I’m sure that this year’s camps will go even further in fostering and developing the immense young cricketing talent in this country,” he added.

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Asian Lite Dubai - April 2019  

Asian Lite Dubai - April 2019

Asian Lite Dubai - April 2019  

Asian Lite Dubai - April 2019