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Editor’s Desk

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he absence of light quite certainly is darkness. Even as India struggles to see light across its border on the west, things appear quiet and peaceful on the eastern front. Both Bangladesh Editor Chakravarty with High Commissioner and India have many bright things of Bangladesh, H.E. Syed Muazzem Ali to look forward to in coming days, starting, of course with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India from April 7. While it gets increasingly difficult to initiate and carry on any form of sustained and meaningful dialogue with our western neighbor, India and Bangladesh have found a way of engaging at the highest level with purpose and flair, especially since the BJP-led NDA Government took over and announced that it would proactively pursue an Act East policy. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Hasina met first in September 2014, and then again in September 2015 in New York, both times on the sidelines of the UNGA. Mr Modi subsequently paid a state visit to Bangladesh in June 2015. Prime Minister Hasina visited India in August 2015 and October 2015. At this point in our history, the words of one of America’s finest Presidents, John F Kennedy, sit well on Indo-Bangladesh relations: “Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners, and necessity has made us allies. Those whom God has so joined together, let no man put asunder.” H.E. Syed Muazzem Ali, High Commissioner of Bangladesh to India, reiterates that things are indeed on the right path. A former foreign secretary himself, High Commissioner Ali declared his allegiance to Bangladesh while he was serving in the Pakistan Embassy in Washington DC in 1971. At that defining moment in his country’s history he became a founding member of the Bangladesh Mission in the American capital city and remained active in the lobbying process for political support for Bangladesh’s independence movement. In this cover interview he tells INDIA EMPIRE magazine that since assumption of power for the second time in 2009, Prime Minister Hasina has brought a change in mindset in pursuing bilateral ties with India. Likewise, he says that Prime Minister Modi has also expressed his keen desire to promote bilateral cooperation following his historic visit in June 2015 to Bangladesh, and wants to take ties to newer heights. He also quotes President Pranab Mukherjee’s words at a lecture in November 2015 where he termed Bangladesh-India relations as the best ever since 1974. Happily, fostering ties further will be the presence of many Bangladeshi cricketers at the forthcoming Indian Premier League. It is a high point in Bangladesh’s cricket history as well, with the team registering its very first Test win overseas in March. It happened to be Bangladesh’s 100 Test match and they beat Sri Lanka at the P Sara Oval in Colombo. Another moment of joy for them has come with Shakib Al Hasan gaining No. 1 spot as an all-rounder across all three formats—Test, ODI and T20I. This rare accomplishment makes Bangladesh’s rise in world cricket even sweeter. Not an immediate neighbor, but albeit a close one on the western side, is Afghanistan. The country has turned its attention in a major way at empowering women across all walks. In our February 2017 issue we carried an article titled Fighting Taliban with Music, not Guns. The protagonist of the story was Negin Khpalwak, a 20-year-old from Kunar in eastern Afghanistan. Negin leads an all-female orchestra called Zohra that brought the curtains

India-Diaspora, Political, Diplomatic and Business Connectivity

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empire Volume 12 No. 10 March 2017 www.indiaempire.com RNI No.: DELENG/2005/16693

GLOBAL ADVISORY BOARD Mr Inder Singh, Dr Rami Ranger, Dr Kamalanathan Sappani, Mr Mridul Pathak, Ms Priya Tandon Editor Sayantan Chakravarty Consulting Editor Yogesh Sood (Business and Commerce) Sipra Das (Photography) Kul Bhushan Jayant Borkar (Mumbai Affairs) Sanjay Sharma (BJP Affairs) Paras Ramoutar (Caribbean Affairs) Vishnu Bisram (New York) Premchand Ramlochun (Mauritius) Liladhar J. Bharadia (Kenya) Jay Banerjei (Toronto) Head—Art and Print Jaydev Bisht Additional Contributions From K K Anand, Prof. David Baron, Yogi Ashwini Registered Office: N-126, II Floor, Greater Kailash I, New Delhi - 110 048. Contact: +91.11.2923.3647, +91.11.2923.1515. Our Associate Offices: Hyderabad: Abhijit Bhattacharjee, Tel: +91.9848033874. Mauritius: 28, Cnr. Jasmins and Lataniers Avenue Résidence Sunsetville, La Caverne, Vacoas 73310 Republic of Mauritius Trinidad and Tobago: 61 Main Road, Caparo, Trinidad, W.I. Canada: Suite 209 885 Progess Ave, Toronto, ON M1H G3G Canada New York: 260, Madison Avenue, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10016 ADVERTISEMENT AND SUBSCRIPTIONS Email: contactindiaempire@gmail.com info@indiaempire.com sales@indiaempire.com M: +91.9899117477, +91.98116.27971, +91.9953824095 Printed, published, owned by Sayantan Chakravarty. Editor is Sayantan Chakravarty. Published from N -126, II Floor, Greater Kailash I, New Delhi 110 048, INDIA. Printed at Archana Advertising Pvt. Ltd., C-78, Okhla Industrial Area, Ph-1, New Delhi 110020. All rights reserved throughout the world. Any kind of reproduction in any media is prohibited. All disputes are subject to jurisdiction of courts in Delhi.

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Sayantan Chakravarty is in a select group of 12 writers chosen by Scholastic Education to promote advanced English literature for schools worldwide. Included in the group are Nobel Laureate William Butler Yeats, R K Narayan (Padma Vibushan and Sahitya Award winner), journalist and poet Walt Whitman, writer Saki (Hector Hugh Munro), poet Nissim Ezekiel (Sahitya Akademi Awardee), writer Jerome K Jerome (author of Three Men in a Boat), poet Edward Lear, Roald Dahl (16th on Time Magazine’s list of greatest British writers). Sayantan Chakravarty’s stories featured in Best of Indian Express of 25 years and among select stories in Best of India Today’s 25 years.


down at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2017. Zohra is an ensemble of 35 girls aged between 13 and 20, some orphans and many from impoverished families. The orchestra remains a beacon of hope for aspiring women in Afghanistan. Music was banned during the Taliban’s repressive regime between 1996 and 2001 and is still frowned upon in much of Afghan society, tightly segregated by gender. So what Negin and Zohra do is outrageously brave. In this issue we bring you a similar kind of story of grit and courage that is being played out in the mountains of Kabul. Sima Azimi is Afghanistan’s first female trainer of Wushu, an ancient Chinese martial art form that she picked up while her family lived as refugees in Iran. Sima would watch martial arts movies and honed her skills without formal training. Today, a group of young women aged 14 to 20 meet each week donning pink robes and white jihab. Irrespective of the weather or unmindful of the harassment they face, the group trains in Wushu, wielding swords that rhythmically slice through space. We have an interview with H.E. Dr Shaida Mohammad Abdali, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan that focuses primarily on women’s empowerment. He tells us that the Afghanistan Government is committed to improving women’s status in all spheres of life. Quite rightly he also believes that educating a girl not only amounts to educating the entire family, but the entire nation as well. Beyond Afghanistan and much further west on the Mediterranean, there is a meeting of minds between India and Tunisia. Like many in his country, Tunisia’s new Ambassador to India, H.E. Mr Nejmeddine Lakhal, learnt about India mainly through cinema and books during his younger days. This is the first time that he’s actually in India, but is already fascinated by the nation’s cultural fabric that “changes every 50 km” offering an attractive diversity that is hard to miss. Editor with Ambassador of Tunisia, H.E. Nejmeddine Lakhal

Happy reading.

Sayantan Chakravarty

Cover picture of Steel Minister: Sipra Das

(sayantanc@gmail.com)

cONTENTS

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19

BANGLADESH RISING ....................................... 10 Relations between India and Bangladesh have never been better. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit in April promises to strengthen ties further TUNISIA CALLING .............................................. 19 Interview with H.E. Mr Nejmeddine Lakhal, Ambassador of Tunisia to India MONGOLIA BECKONS ....................................... 35 Interview with H.E. Mr Gonchig Ganbold,

march 2017

06 Ambassador of Mongolia to India AFGHANISTAN FOCUSED ON WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT ................................................ 27 Interview with H.E. Dr Shaida Mohammad Abdali, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to India STEEL FRAME ..................................................... 06 Interview with Minister of Steel Chaudhary Birender Singh


POLITICAL INTERVIEW

Interview with Shri Chaudhary Birender Singh Union Minister of Steel

“Record allocation in infrastructure sector will push up domestic demand” In an interview with India Empire Magazine, Union Minister of Steel, Shri Chaudhary Birender Singh speaks on the Indian steel industry’s expansion mode, modernization drive, allocation for infrastructure and a range of other issues with Editor Sayantan Chakravarty

India has overtaken USA to become the 3rd largest producer of crude steel in the world. It is also the largest producer of sponge iron. Per capita consumption, however, remains at 60 kg against world average of 217 kg. How are you addressing this issue of lower consumption? Indian steel industry is in expansion mode. The older steel plants are being modernized and expanded and newer green field plants are also coming with state of the art technologies. India has overtaken the USA to become the world's third largest steel producer in 2015. With strong economic fundamentals, focus on sectors like infrastructure and construction and the huge population driving the steel consumption, the industry has come out relatively stronger from the turbulent times. In fact, we have created an example for other sectors as to how the recessionary pressures can be overcome. However, per capita steel consumption is still quite low, i.e. 61 kg, as against the world average of 208 kg which no doubt indicates a huge growth potential for Indian steel industry. Against this backdrop, Ministry of Steel will make best use of the Make in India initiative under which India is expected to witness significant investments in Infrastructure, Automobile, Shipbuilding and Power sectors which will ultimately stimulate steel demand. Ministry will also suitably target the promotion of Indian Made Steel in infrastructure development and construction along with impetus on in6

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creased steel usage based on life cycle cost in any upcoming development activities in the country, which will be the way forward for increasing further steel demand. In the current Budget, higher spending has been announced in infrastructure projects. More housing is required for the country. Do you see per capita consumption increasing rapidly in the near future? There has been a record allocation of around Rs 4 lakh crore for infrastructure sector in the recent budget. The budget has also given infrastructure status to affordable housing and enhanced budget for housing, which is expected to revive domestic steel demand as it will push up demand for construction grade steel particularly those for roofing purposes. In addition to this, focus on areas such as ports, roads, affordable housing, physical infrastructure should provide the steel sector necessary impetus to meet its growth targets as projected in Draft National Steel Policy 2017. Several new initiatives have been taken to enhance consumption of steel in India. Ministry is coming out with a National Steel Policy 2017, which is in final stage. We recently organised two regional conferences for increasing steel consumption in India, one in Gangtok and one in Ludhiana. We are also planning a national conference of secondary steel producers on 5th April. We are in constant talks with user ministries to recommend use of steel in infrastructure, housing and related sectors. Inter ministerial


pictures Š sipra das

STEEL FRAME: Minister of Steel Chaudhary Birender Singh is tasked to make India a steel superpower, and make policies to grow production and consumption

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POLITICAL INTERVIEW

of most of the value added products like automotive steel for high end applications, electrical steel like CRGO and amorphous steel as well as special steel and alloys for the Power Equipment, Aerospace, Defense and Nuclear applications. Production of these value added, front end, and strategic products will be facilitated through acquisition of foreign technology by setting up of joint ventures, or subsidiaries of foreign companies or by indigenous development. Measures will also be taken to ensure development of all such special steel and alloys to minimize import dependence. Are there systems in place for meeting the iron ore requirements of the Indian steel industry without any shortfall? With 28 billion tonne of indigenous iron ore resource which is likely to be augmented many fold through progressive exploration policy rolled out by Government, there is no dearth of iron ore in India. Moreover, to ensure that adequate iron ore is available in India for value addiSTEELY DETERMINATION: Minister Birender Singh is focused tion in downstream industries, on modernizing and expanding India’s steel industry in a major way Government has enacted consultation is going on for maximising use of Indian made MMDR Amendment Act, 2015, notified National Mineral Exsteel in key projects. ploration Policyto facilitate comprehensive exploration, increased emphasis on beneficiation and agglomeration of low What are the steps being taken to develop world grade iron ore and continued theexport duty of 30% on iron class human resource for the steel sector? ore having more than 58% Fe content in Budget 2017. Transforming India’s growth path in steel would require a fundamental change in human resource management and What is the long term goal of the National Steel development. For that purpose, an institutional platform Policy? called Steel Research and Technology Mission of India has In the new environment, the industry has to be steered been established with an objective to not only spearhead with appropriate policy support to ensure that production R&D of national importance in iron and steel but also to of steel matches the anticipated pace of growth in condevelop expertise and skill development, manage human re- sumption. Hence, long term goal of the policy is to ensure sources and bolster a tripartite synergy amongst industry, that the industry follows a sustainable path of development national R&D laboratories and academic institutes. in respect of environmental friendliness, mineral conservation, quality of steel products, use of technology and inWhat are the major areas of Research and Devel- digenous R&D efforts in order to ensure that the country opment in Steel as this remains an area of concern? can, over time, reach global efficiency benchmarks to beProduct development is a major challenge being faced come a world leader in steel production technology, as well by the Indian steel industry which has given rise to import as in production of high end steel. ❐ 8

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PHOTO GALLERY

BJP President Amit Shah gratefully accepts a flower bouquet from Prime Minister Narendra Modi at 11, Ashoka Road, New Delhi, following the BJP’s landslide win in Uttar Pradesh

BJP workers celebrate in Holi colours outside 11, Ashoka Road, New Delhi following the party’s strong showing in the UP elections and Government formation in Goa and Manipur march 2017 | india empire

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DIPLOMATIC INTERVIEW

H.E. Syed Muazzem Ali High Commissioner of Bangladesh to India

“Our relationship with India is based on mutual benefit and equality” H.E. Syed Muazzem Ali was born on July 18, 1944 in Sylhet. He obtained his Master’s Degree in Science from Dhaka University in 1966, and placed in the First class. He had professional trainings at the Civil Service Academy, Lahore (1968-1969), at the School of Advanced International Studies, John Hopkins University in Washington DC (1973-1974), and at the International Peace Academy in New York (1983). The Bangladesh High Commissioner to India is a former Foreign Secretary of the Government of Bangladesh. Mr. Ali had joined the Pakistan Foreign Service in 1968, and retired from a distinguished career in Diplomatic Service in December 2001. While serving in the Pakistan Embassy in Washington DC in 1971, he declared his allegiance to the Government of Bangladesh. He speaks to INDIA EMPIRE’s Editor Sayantan Chakravarty

What we are witnessing now is a high-point in India-Bangladesh relations. Prime Minister Modi and H.E. Sheikh Hasina, Hon’ble Prime Minister of Bangladesh met twice in September 2014 and September 2015 at New York on the sidelines of the UNGA. Mr. Modi subsequently paid a state visit to Bangladesh in June 2015. Prime Minister Hasina visited India in August 2015 and October 2016. What are your views on these visits? Since assumption of power for the second time in 2009, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has consistently tried to restore mutual trust and cooperation, and she has brought a change in our mindset in our bilateral ties. Happily, Prime Minister Narendra Modi after assumption of office two years back had also expressed his keen desire to promote our bilateral cooperation. His historic visit to Bangladesh in June 2015 has taken our ties to newer heights. Sixty-eight years after the partition of British India, and forty-one years after the conclusion of the Indira-Mujib Border Accord of 1974, the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) between the two countries was concluded and ratified in 2015. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has demonstrated how a long10 india empire | FeBruary 2017

standing complex bilateral issue could be resolved unanimously through consultation, compassion, and consensusbuilding. I would like to recall here with great satisfaction and pride that President Pranab Mukherjee at the annual cavalry memorial lecture in New Delhi in November 2015 had termed Bangladesh-India relations as the “best ever since 1974”. Visits and the subsequent developments have given new impetus for the resolution of other outstanding bilateral issues, and to establish and consolidate cooperation in all spheres for the benefit of our two countries. Our Hon’ble Prime Minister has been pursuing a policy of constructive engagement with India and she believes that dialogue is the best way to resolve differences on all outstanding issues and to create opportunities for cooperation in newer areas. Both the countries now look forward to further increasing and strengthening this relationship. The forthcoming visit of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh to India would certainly play a catalytic role to that end. Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and MoS (EA) General V K Singh had earlier made official visits to


H.E. Syed Muazzem Ali High Commissioner of Bangladesh to India

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DIPLOMATIC INTERVIEW

your country in June 2014 and August 2014 respectively. So the build up to the Prime Minister level meetings had already taken place. Your comments… Exchange of visits between the two Foreign Offices particularly at the Ministerial level always pave the way to make it to the highest level. You may have also noticed that a series of Ministerial level and Foreign Secretary level visits have set the right tone and help us to identify areas of mutual cooperation as well as pave the way for implementation of the outcome of the VVIP visits. So, regular interaction is vital to promote all round cooperation. A record number of bilateral documents were concluded during Mr. Modi’s visit. Please take us through some of the most significant ones… The 22 agreements/MoUs that were signed during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Bangladesh cover diverse areas such as security, trade, connectivity, economic cooperation, technology transfer, and scientific research, educational and cultural cooperation. Among the newer areas of cooperation are renewal of Bilateral Trade Agreement, Energy, Agreement on Coastal Shipping, Inland Water Transit and Trade, bus service, Blue Economy and Maritime Cooperation in the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean, use of Chittagong and Mongla ports, newer radio and TV programmes etc. Now, this is important for both the sides to take forward the progress and implement those agreements/MoUs. We are also constantly discussing longer term 12 india empire | FeBruary 2017

trade, investment and transit agreements, use of port facilities, blue water cooperation etc. and we hope that their proper and early implementation will bring in a qualitative change in our bilateral ties as well as in our sub-region. Following President Mukherjee’s visit to Bangladesh in March 2013, H.E. President Mohammad Abdul Hamid visited India in December 2014, marking the first visit by a Head of state from Bangladesh in 42 years. So in a sense, relations have never been better. Your views please. There is no doubt that bilateral relations have reached its peak in current time. And all these VVIP visits are testimony to that statement. The relationship is now based on “mutual benefit, equality and respect for sovereignty” and “as an example of progress in looking at a shared future”. I believe, the emotional bonds stemming from the invaluable contributions of the Government and the people of India during Bangladesh’s War of Liberation would continue to remain a dominant factor in the country’s political, cultural and social wave. India and Bangladesh share 54 rivers. At present do you find that both countries are maximizing benefits from these river systems? Unfortunately, we are yet to maximize the benefits of the joint rivers. The signing of the Ganges water sharing agreement is one example of a mutually agreed solution to water sharing between neighbours. Despite this exam-


ple, the Teesta deal had faced obstacles since September 2011 when West Bengal government started opposing the agreement. Bangladesh and India share 54 common rivers between them. We need to develop a framework like basin wide river management for harnessing of these natural resources amicably for the greater economic development of both the countries. JRC has to be made stronger as a platform to hold meetings and discussions to resolve water disputes so that the water resources can be utilised on an equitable basis for mutual benefit of the people of the two countries. We are very hopeful about Teesta agreement that it will happen soon. Due to the delay, there are many misgivings in Bangladesh. If Teesta happens, the cooperation initiative will get a boost. However, it’s not only about Teesta. Teesta apart, progress on discussions on sharing of the waters of Feni, Monu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharala and Dudhkumar rivers has also been stalled for long. So there are a whole range of issues including Teesta agreement, joint basin wide management of rivers, river-linking projects that demand urgent attention. Joint management of rivers will not only facilitate better sharing of water, but also will pave the way for better communication between Bangladesh and North Eastern India which has always been the case prior to 1947. Water sharing is a very sensitive issue and it must be addressed on a top priority basis, with care and compassion,

to reach a win-win solution. It is necessary to involve all the concerned countries under joint basin management schemes. What is the quantum of exports from Bangladesh to India? What are the main items that Bangladesh exports to India? The volume of bilateral trade has simply grown over the past seven years. The balance of trade is still hugely in India’s favour though(approximately US$ 6.5 Billion against US$ 658 Million). India, however, has allowed duty-free and quota-free access to all Bangladeshi items to the Indian market except for a few items on the SAFTA negative list. Main items that Bangladesh exports to India are Woven Garments; Knitwear; Home Textile; Agri-Products; Frozen Food; Leather & Leather Products; Footwear; Raw Jute; Jute Goods; Bicycle; Others. What is the quantum of exports from India to Bangladesh, and what are the main items that are exported? Major export Items from India to Bangladesh are Cotton and Agricultural products which accounts for almost 2 Billion US Dollar each. Other items are Vehicles other than railway or tramway rolling- stock and parts and accessories; machinery and mechanical appliances, Iron and steel; Plastics; Tanning or dyeing extracts, tannins and their


DIPLOMATIC INTERVIEW

derivatives, dyes, Salt, sulphur, earths and stone, plastering materials, lime and cement; Electrical machinery and equipment and parts, Coffee, tea and spices; rubber products etc. Please give us an idea of the presence of Indian firms in Bangladesh, and what are the main areas of investment that can be of interest to Indian nationals? You will agree that in this age of globalization, greater economic integration is the call of the day worldwide. It is necessary to view trade and investment together. Bangladesh has to get large Indian investments to develop various industrialized goods on “buy-back” basis as it already exists between the USA and Canada. Indian investors should take advantage of our cheaper labour costs and closer proximity to North-East markets. To this end, several Indian mega companies like Hero-Honda, Tata group or CEAT Tire companies have set up such projects in Bangladesh. These are small projects but they mark the beginning of this process. In order to balance the huge trade gap, we need bigger projects. Is there a promotion of Bangladesh tourism in India? If so, what is the outcome? Yes, the tourism sector is improving fast. There is no al-

[

also significantly improve the connectivity between our two countries and in the sub-region. You have experienced the most historic occasion in your country, its separation from Pakistan in 1971. You yourself were serving in the Pakistan Embassy in Washington DC at that time. You lobbied very hard subsequently for the World Bank, UN and the USA to participate in the reconstruction efforts in war-ravaged Bangladesh. Would you say your country has come a long way since? You would recall that in 1971 Bangladesh was termed as a ‘Bottomless Basket’. But today it is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, second largest garment exporter, 5th largest rice producer and one of the largest remittance earning countries. The average GDP growth for last 6 years has been 6.2% up from a 1.3% growth rate in 1970s. Last year it reached 7%. In 1970, foreign aid accounted for almost 75% of gross investment. Today ODA contributes roughly 2% of GDP. Our foreign currency reserve stands now at around 30 billion dollars. Bangladesh success in social sectors outplayed many countries in the South Asian Region. Bangladesh is now often mentioned as a ‘model of economic development’. We were the forerunner in achieving the MDGs and we are already in good po-

I would like to recall here with great satisfaction and pride that President Pranab Mukherjee at the annual cavalry memorial lecture in New Delhi in November 2015 had termed Bangladesh-India relations as the “best ever since 1974”

ternative to peoples’ friendship in any bilateral relations. We are lucky that the emotional bond and people-to-people contacts between our two countries, having genesis in our common history and struggle, form the strongest and most treasured part of our relationship. The people-to-people contact has increased manifold over the past years. Large number of Bangladeshis visits India every year for tourism, trade and treatment purposes. Increased connectivity would promote tourism further in our region and beyond. Also, a large number of trained Indians work in Bangladesh and they remit about 4 billion USD every year. During Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Bangladesh, we have started Dhaka-Guwahati and Dhaka-Kolkata and Agartala Bus services. We have already upgraded our Mission in Agartala to Assistant High Commission level, and are going to open soon a new Deputy High Commission in Guwahati. We had earlier opened a Deputy High Commission in Mumbai. Both countries are now setting up Integrated Border Check Posts to facilitate passage of passengers and transportation of goods. So far, three such IC Posts have been established in Agartala-Akhaura, Benapole-Petrapole and Banglabandha areas. These ICPs will 14 india empire | march 2017

]

sition to achieve the SDGs as well. Recently, World Bank has ranked us as the lower middle income country in its ranking. Our ultimate pursuit is to become a Middle income country by 2021 and a developed country by 2041 to fulfill the dream of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to make Bangladesh a “Sonar Bangla”. So, yes, I would say the journey so far for Bangladesh has been a very positive story, and I am confident we will take it forward in the coming years. Conclusion: Before concluding, let me add that Bangladesh also plays a crucial role in Premier Modi’s “Look East, Act East” policy and he has made major efforts to promote sub-regional cooperation in our area under the aegis of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) and the conclusion of Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA) has opened the great possibility for regional road connectivity. Side by side, a deep sea port is being developed by Bangladesh for the benefit of the entire region. We are also cooperating with each other in other regional fora such as BIMSTEC, ❐ BCIM, ESCAP etc.


BUSINESS FEATURE

BANGLADESH-INDIA

TRADE

At the India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IBCCI) in February where the Indo-Bangla Trade Fair was started, Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, H.E. Mr Harsh Vardhan Shringla mentioned that in the last 15 years Bangladesh’s exports to India have grown 10-fold. During the same period, India’s exports to Bangladesh have grown 6 times. Bangladesh is now India’s biggest trade partner in South Asia

T

he total bilateral trade in 2015-16 was worth USD 6.14 billion. Indian investments registered with Bangladesh Investment Development Authority are more than USD 3 billion. Around USD 11 billion of investments from India in the power, LNG and port sectors in Bangladesh are in the pipeline. India has also been offered exclusive sites by Bangladesh to establish special economic zones, which may be at Mongla or Chittagong, he added. In November last year, IBCCI had organised a fruitful discussion on enhancing India-Bangladesh Waterways Connectivity, which saw good participation from both the countries, the Daily Star reported. “In an important development in waterways and sea connectivity between India and Bangladesh, the first container ship will arrive from Kolkata to Pangaon Inland Container Terminal tomorrow (Friday) under the Coastal Shipping Agreement between our two countries,” H.E. Shringla said. Around 60 companies from India and Bangladesh, from diverse sectors like automobiles, pharmaceuticals and chemicals, are participating in the fair.

Bilateral Trade India-Bangladesh trade has grown steadily over the last few years. India’s exports to Bangladesh in 2015-16 (JulyJune) were USD 5,452.90 million and imports from Bangladesh during the same period were USD 689.62 million. In the five years (from FY 2011-12 to FY 2015-16), total trade between the two countries has grown by more than 17%. More details on bilateral trade statistics are on the website of High Commission. Substantial duty concessions have been extended to Bangladesh under SAFTA, SAPTA and APTA. India has provided duty free quota free access to Bangladesh (and other SAARC LDCs) on all tariff lines except tobacco and alcohol under SAFTA since 2011. Four Border Haats, two 16 india empire | march 2017

each in Tripura and Meghalaya, have been established for the benefit of bordering communities. Additional Border Haats on the India-Bangladesh border have been proposed and are under consideration. Total Indian investments in Bangladesh registered with Bangladesh Investment Development Authority are USD 3.11 billion and are on an upward trajectory. Indian Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Bangladesh reached USD 88.0 million in 2015-16. India’s Economic Assistance to Bangladesh During the visit of Prime Minister Hasina to India in January 2010, India announced a USD 1 billion Line of Credit (LoC) for Bangladesh. Most of these projects under 1st LoC have been completed. Prime Minister Modi announced a new LoC of USD 2 billion during his visit to Bangladesh in June 2015. The new LoC covers projects in the areas of Roads, Railways, Power, Shipping, SEZs, Health & Medical Care and Technical Education. Power and Energy Sector Cooperation The MoU on power sector cooperation between India and Bangladesh was signed in 2010. There are at present two interconnections through which 600 MW of power is transferred from India to Bangladesh. Currently 500 MW of power is transferred through the Bherampur-Bheramara inter-connection and another 100 MW through the Surajmani Nagar (Agartala) - Comila interconnection. During the visit of Prime Minister Modi in June 2015 it has been agreed for additional 500 MW of power through the existing Bahrampur - Bherampur interconnection. In March, 2016 the two Prime Ministers inaugurated export of Internet bandwidth to Tripura from Bangladesh and the export of power from Tripura to Comilla. The 1320 MW coal-fired Maitree thermal power plant, a 50:50 JV between the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) of India and


Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) is being developed at Rampal. Many private companies of India have also shown interest in the power sector of Bangladesh. Energy sector cooperation between India and Bangladesh has also seen considerable progress in the last two years. Many Indian public sector units such as Indian Oil Corporation, Numaligarh Refinery Limited, Gas Authority of India Limited, Petronet LNG Ltd are working with their Bangladeshi counterparts in the oil and gas sector of Bangladesh. ONGC Videsh Ltd has acquired two shallow water blocks in Bangladesh namely SS-04 and SS-09 in 50-50 consortium with Oil India Limited and is currently involved in exploration activities in these blocks. Connectivity The movement of goods by road is operationalised through 36 Land Customs Stations (LCSs) and 2 Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) along the border. The Srimantapur LCS was inaugurated in January, 2016. In February, 2016 Phulbari-Banglabandha Immigration Check Post was opened. In July 2016 the two Prime Ministers inaugurated the Petrapole Integrated Check Post (ICP), which will facilitate crossborder movement of people and goods. The Protocol on Inland Water Trade and Transit (PIWTT) has been operational since 1972. It permits movement of goods over barges/vessels through the river sys-

tems of Bangladesh on eight specific routes. The PIWTT was renewed for a period of five years with provision for auto renewal during the Prime Minister’s visit to Bangladesh in June 2015. Trans-shipment of goods to Northeastern States of India through Ashuganj river port and further through Akhaura-Agartala by road has commenced in June 2016 under the PIWTT. Connectivity through the Coastal Waterways enabled by the signing of the Coastal Shipping Agreement is also of priority to both India and Bangladesh. Passenger train service ‘Maitree Express’ between Kolkata and Dhaka operates 4 days a week. Three Broad Gauge inter-country rail links between the two countries are operational out of the 6 rail links that exist. While remaining 3 rail links are being worked upon to reopen, 2 new rail links are under discussion. There are regular bus services between Kolkata-Dhaka, Shillong-Dhaka and Agartala-Kolkata via Dhaka. The trial run of the Khulna-Kolkata bus service was completed successfully in August 2016. There are regular flights between India and Bangladesh connecting Dhaka and Chittagong with New Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai. The Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) – Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) will significantly boost connectivity by road. The trial Run of Cargo Movement on Trucks from Kolkata to Agartala via Dhaka and Dhaka to New Delhi via Kolkata and Lucknow has been conducted in August 2016. ❐ march 2017 | india empire 17


pictures Š sipra das

PHOTO GALLERY

Delhi BJP unit led by Manoj Tiwari, MP, addresses the Media after BJP’s victory in UP

Rajya Sabha MP and India Media baron Subhash Chandra in Parliament

BJP MP from Mathura Ms Hema Malini in Parliament

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal with his deputy, Manish Sisodia after presenting the Delhi budget

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Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha in Parliament

Yogi Adityanath, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, in Parliament with Ms Uma Bharti, Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation


COUNTRY FEATURE—AFGHANISTAN

WUSHU’S NEW

POSTER GIRL Sima Azimi is Afghanistan’s first female Wushu trainer. She became interested in Wushu after watching martial arts movies as a kid and acquired her skills while living as a refugee in Iran. Now, Azimi hopes to pass on her slaying capabilities to the next generation of Afghanistan’s young women

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n late January, a group of young women aged 14 to 20 gathered on a snowy hilltop overlooking Kabul, Afghanistan, where they meet each week no matter the weather. Teen girls wielding silver swords moved rhythmically through space. Donning matching pink robes and white hijab, they gathered before their teacher Sima Azimi to train in the ancient Chinese martial art form known as Wushu. In most Afghan communities, sports are strictly off-limits for women. Azimi’s students, however, belong to the Hazara community, a Persian-speaking faction of Shi’ites whose social views lean liberal, thus allowing women to practice athletics outside the home. Still, Azimi’s students are often subjected to hostility and intimidation en route to practice. As Wushu student Shakila Muradi told The BBC: “There are many people harassing us, but we ignore them and follow our goals.” Azimi hopes acquiring martial arts skills will help her students defend themselves from the persistent street abuse. The trainer herself once prevented a 28 india empire | march 2017


thief from snatching her purse using her Wushu skills. Eventually, Azimi hopes to watch her students compete in international matches, challenging stereotypes that affect Afghan women both at home and abroad. However, due to the perpetual lack of funding relegated to women’s sports, such an achievement will not come easily. Despite the great obstacles both Azimi and her students face, the teacher remains resolute in her convictions. “I like to help girls in my country in order to improve their skills, so they can be the same as girls in other countries,” she told Tolo News. “Also, I want to help bring an end to violence against women in Afghanistan.” There are 20 Afghan girls that learn Wushu in the Shaolin Wushu club in Kabul. Most of them are students. The eldest is 20 years old, the youngest is 13 years old. They have been practicing Wushu for almost two years. WUSHU Wushu is both an exhibition and a full-contact sport derived from traditional Chinese martial arts. It was developed in China after 1949, in an effort to standardize the practice of traditional Chinese martial arts, although attempts to structure the various decentralized martial arts traditions date back earlier, when the Central Guoshu Institute was established at Nanking in 1928. The term Wushu is Chinese for “martial arts”. In contemporary times, wushu has become an international sport through the International Wushu Federation (IWUF), which holds the World Wushu Championships every two years; the first World Championships were held in 1991 in Beijing and won by Yuan Wen Qing. Competitive wushu is composed of two disciplines: taolu and sanda. Taolu involves martial art patterns and maneuvers for which competitors are judged and given points according to specific rules. The forms comprise basic movements (stances, kicks, punches, balances, jumps, sweeps and throws) based on aggregate categories of traditional Chinese martial art styles and can be changed for competitions to highlight one’s strengths. Competitive forms have time limits that can range from 1 minute, 20 seconds for some external styles to over five minutes for internal styles. Modern wushu competitors are increasingly training in aerial techniques such as 540-, 720-, and even 900-degree jumps and kicks to add more difficulty and style to their forms. Sanda (sometimes called sanshou) is a modern fighting method and sport influenced by traditional Chinese boxing, Chinese wrestling methods called Shuai jiao and other Chinese grappling techniques such as Chin Na. It has all the combat aspects of wushu. Sanda appears much like Kickboxing or Muay Thai, but includes many more grappling techniques. Sanda fighting competitions are often held alongside taolu or form competitions. SIMA After learning the sport in Iran, Sima won medals in competition and says: “My ambition is to see my students take part in international matches and win medals for their country.” Despite the popularity of martial arts in Afghanistan, women’s sport is severely restricted. All of the women in the club are Hazara, a Dari-speaking, mainly Shia

group. They have generally more liberal social traditions that allow them to practise sports outside the home. In addition to the regular dangers of life in Kabul, these women face intimidation and abuse. One member, Shakila Muradi, says: “There are many people harassing us, but we ignore them and follow our goals.” Sima has been teaching in Kabul for about a year, training at the club’s gym with her father. This gym has a large poster of stuntman Hussain Sadiqi, a Hazara martial arts champion who fled to Australia to work in film. Her father declares his pride in his daughter. “I am really happy ❐ that I helped, encouraged and supported Sima,” he says. march 2017 | india empire 29


COLUMN

TAXATION AND INVESTMENT GST The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in March approved the following four Goods and Services Tax (GST) related bills:

items of the common man. Introduction of GST would also make Indian products competitive in the domestic and international markets. Studies show that this would have a boosting impact on economic growth. It is expected 1. The Central Goods and Services that the implementation of the Tax Bill 2017 (The CGST Bill) Goods and Services Tax law will 2. The Integrated Goods and Servlead to an increase in Gross Doices Tax Bill 2017 (The IGST mestic Product (GDP) of the counBill) try by 1-2%. This in turn will lead 3. The Union Territory Goods and to the creation of more employServices Tax Bill 2017 (The ment and increase in productivity. UTGST Bill) The GST regime will bring in 4. The Goods and Services Tax more transparency and efficiency (Compensation to the States) with the minimization of human Bill 2017 (The Compensation interface in the tax administration Bill) in the country. The GST regime is also likely to lead to a reduction in Mr K K Anand The passage of these four GST tax evasion as a result of the comrelated bills will pave the way for the biggest reform in the puterization of the taxation process. This tax, because of area of Indirect Taxes in the history of independent India. its transparent and self-policing character, would be easier The Union Government has taken up the implementation to administer. This will in turn lead to increase in revenue of GST with utmost priority and has passed the legislations collection for the Centre and the States. on a fast track basis as it was pending for over a decade. The CGST Bill makes provisions for levy and collection With the Cabinet approval of these four bills, the GST of tax on intra-state supply of goods or services for both by regime in India is in the final stages of culmination and the the Central Government. On the other hand, IGST Bill GST law will most likely be implemented from 01st July, makes provisions for levy and collection of tax on inter2017. The above four Bills have been earlier approved by state supply of goods or services or both by the Central the GST Council after thorough, clause by clause, discus- Government. The UTGST Bill makes provisions for levy sion over 12 meetings of the Council held in the last six on collection of tax on intra-UT supply of goods and servmonths. ices in the Union Territories without legislature. Union TerBy amalgamating a large number of Central and State ritory GST is akin to States Goods and Services Tax (SGST) taxes into a single tax, it would mitigate cascading or dou- which shall be levied and collected by the States/Union Terble taxation in a major way and pave the way for a common ritories on intra-state supply of goods or services or both. national market. The Goods and Services Tax will thus help The Compensation Bill provides for compensation to the in the realization of the objective of “One Nation, One states for loss of revenue arising on account of implemenTax� and improve the Ease of Doing Business climate in tation of the goods and services tax for a period of five the country. It will also indirectly benefit the common man years as per section 18 of the Constitution (One Hundred by reducing the tax burden especially on the daily consumer and First Amendment) Act, 2016. 40 india empire | march 2017


NRI India has the largest population of people living abroad in the world. As per the UN report, 16 million people from India were living outside India in 2015. If you include the person of Indian origin (PIO) this number will rise to 30 Million. What are the investment options for NRIs? A good number of NRIs are interested in creating assets in India because they wish to return after retirement. NRIs based in US and Canada has some restrictions in investing in India. The scope of this article is limited to NRIs in other countries. Let us discuss the popular investment options for NRIs. Non-Resident Ordinary (NRO) Account It is advisable to convert your savings account to NRO account before going overseas. You can visit your bank with Visa and passport and they will convert your existing Savings account to NRO account. It can be used to deposit Indian earnings like rent, interest, dividends, etc. You can also deposit overseas earnings in NRO account. The account can be opened in the form of Savings, Current or fixed deposit. Remittance from NRE account or remittance received through proper banking channel can be deposited in NRO account. Up to USD 1 Million can be repatriated from NRO account per year. Interest on NRO account is taxable. There is a TDS of 30% from the interest paid. However, an individual residing outside India and qualifying as a resident of another country can avail the benefit of a lower tax deduction on interest on NRO account under a double tax avoidance agreement. Any individual intending to avail this option can intimate the bank and submit a copy of tax residency certificate from the country where he qualifies as a resident. It should primarily be used for depositing/managing your earnings in India. Non-Resident—External (NRE) Account This account is used to deposit money received from overseas. The account can be opened in the form of Savings, Current or fixed deposit. Interest on NRE deposit is tax free in India. You can fully and freely repatriate your money from NRE Account. Foreign Currency Non-Resident (FCNR) Account This account can be opened as term deposits only and is for the period of 1-5 years. You can have this account in any freely convertible currency like Dollar, Pound etc. The interest rates are decided by RBI and are linked to LIBOR rates. Interest income earned from deposits maintained in FCNR account is exempt from tax up to such period the NRI continues to be a non-resident or a resident but not ordinarily resident (RNOR) in India for income-tax purposes. Mutual Funds You can invest in mutual funds without any restrictions (except for US & Canada based NRIs*). As a first step, you should update your KYC as an NRI investor. If you are al-

ready an investor, you have to change your KYC with NRI status. If you are new to mutual funds, you can submit the following documents at the office of any fund house or registrars like CAMS or Karvy for KYC. They will verify your documents and do the in person Verification (IPV). You can do this during your visit to India or before leaving India. As an NRI, you can invest in mutual funds on non-repatriable basis or on repatriable basis. If it is non-repatriable basis, you can invest from NRO account. Otherwise you have to use NRE account. AMC's like PPFAS, UTI and a few others now allow US and Canada based NRIs to invest in mutual funds. Tax treatment on mutual fund redemption amount & dividends for NRIs. The taxation of mutual fund for NRIs is similar to resident Indians. But there are TDS for NRIs. Equity Funds If you sell equity funds after holding it for 1 year, the gains are treated as long-term capital gain and it is tax-free. But, if you sell it within 1 year, the gains are treated as short term and it is taxed at 15%. For NRIs, there is TDS of 15% in this case. FOREIGN BANKS Under the FDI policy as set out in the Government of India’s Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion WOSs of the foreign banks, even though locally incorporated, being foreign owned and controlled companies, will be treated as “foreign banks” in terms of which a company owned by non-residents ‘means an Indian company where more than 50% of the capital in it is beneficially owned by non-residents and/or “controlled“ by non-residents. The term ‘control’ has been defined as under: ‘Control’ shall include the right to appoint a majority of the directors or to control the management or policy decisions including by virtue of their shareholding or management rights or shareholders agreements or voting agreements. Providing the extent of national treatment to WOS of foreign banks needs to be considered from the financial stability perspective. From financial stability perspective down side risk may arise if the foreign banks, i.e. WOSs of the foreign banks and foreign bank branches together come to dominate the domestic financial system. To address this risk, restrictions would be placed on further entry of new WOSs of foreign banks, when the capital and reserves of the foreign banks (i.e. WOSs and foreign bank branches) in India exceed 20% of the capital and reserves of the banking system. In such eventuality prior approval of RBI will be required for capital infusion into the existing WOSs of foreign banks. As regards foreign banks in branch mode of presence, as per the WTO commitments licences for new foreign banks may be denied when the maximum share of assets in India both on and off balance sheet of foreign banks’ branches to total assets both on and off balance ❐ sheet of the banking system exceeds 15 per cent. —The author is Founding and Managing Partner of Anand Law Practice. He can be reached at KamalKAnand@yahoo.com, kkanand_6@yahoo.co.in march 2017 | india empire 41


MIND AND BODY

Psychiatric Aspects of Concussion: What the Public Should Know By Prof. David Baron

prof. david Baron

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ports concussion has become one of the most media covered topics in the world of sports globally. Key players missing competitions as a result of suffering a concussion is no longer a topic restricted to sports medicine physicians. The impact of concussion on youth sports has become an important discussion among youth sports organizers and government officials, including ministers of sports. Despite its high visibility, many more questions than answers exist regarding diagnosis and treatment of mild repetitive concussion. Key issues for the public include; rule changes (which some feel would change the soul of the game), should children be exposed to contact/collision sports, how is mild concussion detected and treated, and how long should an athlete refrain from participation after suffering a concussion. Unlike major brain trauma, referred to as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), concussion has only recently been considered a significant long-term health risk. Virtually all of the medical literature has focused on TBI. Unfortunately, TBI research teaches us almost nothing about concussion. The symptoms experienced with concussion are similar to mental health complaints. These include changes in mood, focus, concentration, sleep, energy levels, balance, and headaches. What is a concussion? The term concussion is derived from the Latin term Concutere, which means to shake violently. Concussion occurs when the brain becomes shaken within the skull, resulting in damage to the brains delicate tissues and fragile connections. A commonly held misperception among many physicians and the general public is that concussion requires a blow to the head. In fact, some of the most severe concussion are the result of blows to the body (with the force being transmitted to the brain), or with no direct contact to the head or body resulting from exposure to blast. This is more common for soldiers and those exposed to blast injury. Another common misconception is that concussion requires a loss of consciousness. Virtually all mild concussions do not results in being knocked out, but rather being stunned or temporarily dazed. This is in fact a hallmark of concussion. Many who sustain a concussion also report a brief period of difficulty with their vision and balance, along with short episodes of problems with short term memory, concentration and maintaining focus. These initial symptoms resolve quickly in the majority of cases. This rapid resolution results in many 42 india empire | march 2017

concussions going unreported and undiagnosed. This is an important issue, as the effects of mild concussions add up over time. Think of concussion like getting sunburn. One sunburn does not result in serious consequences. However, the more sunburns one gets, the greater the likelihood of adverse outcomes later in life, if not skin cancer, premature skin aging. In addition, like sunburn, the younger brain is more susceptible to the longterm effects of multiple concussions (and sunburns) over time. This is why a focus on safety in youth sports regarding concussion is so important. Although there are no definitive tests to diagnose concussion, a number of screening instruments exist and are currently in use in athletics and the military. Virtually all of the existing tests are based on a change in scoring from a baseline and after a suspected concussion has occurred. For these test to be helpful in diagnosing a concussion, the baseline measure must be an accurate measure. Athletes have learned to underperform on baseline testing to avoid being taken out of competition after a concussion. All effort-dependent tests are vulnerable to this problem. To date, no definitive treatments have been established. Appropriate rest is a key to recovery. Avoiding direct sunlight, overly loud noise, stress and mentally challenging activities are all helpful with recovery. Avoiding alcohol, aspirin, and stimulating drugs, along with 8 quality hours of sleep and maintaining hydration will all assist in recovery. No specific medications have been proven effective in all cases, and a physician knowledgeable in the treatment of concussion should manage all medications. Symptoms that last beyond a week to 10 days should be monitored by a health professional experienced in concussion management. Keys for the public; 1) Concussion does not require a blow to the head or loss of consciousness 2) Brief periods of feeling dazed, confused, unsteady, or vision problems is a concussion 3) Concussions, like sunburns, add up over time, especially in the younger brain 4) Changes in mood and focus are common symptoms 5) Returning to play before the brain has “healed” can be very serious if even a minor jolt occurs 6) Appropriate rest and monitoring by an experienced health ■ care provider is mandatory to help in recovery. —Prof. David Baron, Chair, Section on Medicine, Psychiatry and Primary Care, World Psychiatric Association (WPA)


DIASPORA NEWS


INDIAN DIASPORA—USA

IN DEATH, SRINIVAS U

said. "They have no place in our country, and S President Donald Trump we will continue to make that clear," Sander has denounced the killing of asserted. an Indian techie in Kansas Kuchibhotla, 32, was killed and his colsaying the nation condemns league Alok Madasani was injured when US "hate and evil." Trump Navy veteran Adam W. Purinton fired at began his State of the Union address on them at the Austin's Bar and Grill in Olathe February 28 by referring to racism and bias on February 22. Purinton reportedly got crimes, including the killing of Srinivas into an argument with the two and hurled Kuchibhotla on February 22, and the racial slurs. He yelled "get out of my counthreats against Jewish institutions and desetry" before shooting them. Ian Grillot, a 24cration of their cemeteries. year-old American, who tried to save the "Last week's shooting in Kansas city reIndians, was hit by a bullet that pierced his minds us that while we may be a nation diSrinivas Kuchibhotla hand and then lodged in his chest. He has vided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms," since been hospitalised and is recovering. Trump, during his address, also said: "Recent threats the president. Meanwhile, at a media briefing after Trump had completed his address, White House Principal Deputy targeting Jewish Community Centres and vandalism of Press Secretary Sarah Sander said: "The President is keeping Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week's shooting in the family of the victim, who was senselessly killed, in his Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a nation dithoughts, and we're praying for the full and speedy recovery vided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms," Trump said. of those who were wounded." "As more facts come to light, and it begins to look like this Fending off criticism by his political foes that he is inwas an act of racially-motivated hatred, we want to reiterate sensitive to racism and bigotry, he said: "We are reminded that the President condemns these and any other racially—or of our Nation's path toward civil rights and the work that religiously—motivated attacks in the strongest terms," Sander still remains."

TEARFUL ADIEU Family members, relatives, friends and people from different walks of life bid a tearful adieu to Indian techie Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who was shot dead in the US on February 22 in a suspected hate crime. His last rites were performed at the cremation ground in Jubilee Hills in Hyderabad on February 28. K. Madhusudhana Sastry performed the last rites of his son as some of the mourners including the techie's friends were seen carrying placards with slogans like "down with racism". Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya, Bharatiya Janata Party General Secretary Muralidhar Rao, other leaders from the BJP, TRS and other parties, and actor couple Jeevitha and Rajasekhar paid their last respects. The body was brought from Kuchibhotla's house in Bachupally, on the city's outskirts. As his final journey began, the engineer's parents were inconsolable while his wife Sunayana Dumala, who arrived with the mortal remains on Monday night, broke down as she had his last

44 india empire | march 2017

glimpse. The body was brought by a cargo flight while Sunayana, her brother, sister-in-law and another relative reached by a passenger flight. Mourners poured in at his residence through the night and into the morning to pay their last respects.


WAKES UP AMERICA PEACE MARCH

Hundreds gathered in Kansas City for a peace march and prayer vigil for slain Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla and two other victims of a US bar shooting. Alok Madasani, the Indian injured in an apparent hate crime, attended the march for peace and a prayer meeting at the Ball Conference Centre in Olathe on February 26, reported Kansas City Star newspaper. The vigil was sponsored by the India Association of Kansas City. "I wish it was a dream," Madasani said of the Austins Bar & Grill shooting that left Kuchibhotla dead. American Ian Grillot was also shot when he tried to intervene. He is still in a hospital. Adam W. Purinton, 51, a former US Navy veteran, is charged with first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder. Purinton reportedly got into an argument with the victims and hurled racial slurs. He yelled "Get out of my country" and "terrorist" before shooting them. "One thing I really want to emphasise is, the main reason I am here is that's what my best friend, Srinivas, would have done," Madasani told the gathering. "He would have been here for me, and that's what I'm doing right now." Kuchibhotla and Madasani worked as engineers at electronics manufacturer Garmin. "What happened that night was a senseless crime and that took away my best

"Each American generation passes the torch of truth, liberty and justice—in an unbroken chain all the way down to the present," he said. "That torch is now in our hands.

friend," Madasani said of the man who befriended him in 2008. "Srini was the kindest person you would meet, full of love, care and compassion for everyone. He never uttered a word of hatred, a simple gossip, or a careless comment. He would always make sure everyone is doing fine and taken good care." Ian Grillot's sister Maggie also attended the march and the prayer meeting. She said her brother's actions were because of how they were raised. "It doesn't matter what your colour is... Everybody's equal," she said. The vigil followed a somber march outside around the conference centre. Marchers held pictures, banners and shouted "We want peace", "We love peace", "Let us not leave our children", "Unity is part of community, together we stand, divided we fall" and "Hate + guns = tragedy". Many carried candles and signs reading, "We don't support politics of hate." Clergy people representing Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism and Judaism held peace prayers, local TV station KSHB reported. Olathe Mayor Mike Copeland, Olathe Police Chief Steve Menke, Kansas state Senator Rob Olson, US Rep. Kevin Yoder and Kansas Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer also spoke about union and respect at the vigil.

And we will use it to light up the world. I am here tonight to deliver a message of unity and strength, and it is a message deeply delivered from my heart." â?? march 2017 | india empire 45


COLUMN: YOGI ASHWINI

MIND AND BODY

DEALING WITH EXPECTATIONS By Yogi Ashwini Yogi ashwini

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re you depressed? Is it because your job doesn’t pay you well enough? Or because your spouse and children do not listen to you? Or because your talent goes unnoticed and you are not valued enough? Or is it because of how your body and looks are deteriorating by the day? You are not alone. If you look around you will find that every individual is entwined in the same set of four worries - health, finances, relationships and/or status/position. In the physical world, the root of all these problems is an unfulfilled expectation. While the actual reason for this is the basic nature of soul and it’s not being able to find solace. Unfulfilled expectations gradually pull one into depression, where the person hopes and tries to fulfil his/her expectations and while they never get met, the body ages...hair become grey, skin wrinkles, senses dull and then one day the breath also stops. The expectations still not met and so birth is taken to fulfil them. Expectations are directly proportional to one’s ego. The higher the ego, the more one expects from him/herself and the things/people around, and when those expectations are met, he/she goes into depression. Medically, it is seen as an imbalance in specific hormones in the body which is triggered usually by psychological factors, age-related changes and in some cases owing to mental instability. Yoga says, this is because of avidya, which is lack of knowledge of reality. Everything in the physical world is unreal and is in passing. Basic nature of physically manifested world is destruction. Every second, all that is around us is getting destroyed. Actually, what we get depressed about doesn’t exist. The interesting thing about expectations is that there is no limit to them. King Yayati enjoyed youth and its related pleasures for a thousand years and even after these thousand years, with all the women, food and wealth of the world, his desires and expectations were still not met and he realised that there is no way they could be met by further indulgence. Expectations can never be met, the more you have, greater is the expectation from it. And the irony is, that whatever you have in the physical - be it health, wealth, relation-

46 india empire | march 2017

ship or power - it will also leave you one day, and when it leaves the disappointment will be directly proportional to the pleasure it brought with it, all this is because of avidya. To give you an example, I knew a man who had a very loving wife. She cared for him and kept him happy and healthy. At sixty, she left the body, and the husband could not take it. He went into depression. A healthy man, he died of a heart attack within a month. Everything in the physical is temporary, it is foolish to keep expectations from it. King Yayati, realised this and so returned the youth back to his son, and went in search of that which is permanent, which does not grow old or cease with time, which is real and does not disappoint you, for that alone is the key to satisfaction, to bliss. And that reality, only a Guru can show you by giving you the experience of what you desire and expect, and gradually change those desires and simultaneously lower the ego, so the expectations too fade away. I detail here a simple kriya which when practiced in the presence of your Guru, instantly alleviates all kinds of depressions, giving you the experience of bliss, an instant glow is an added benefit. Sit in a comfortable position with spine erect. Close your eyes and paying reverence to the energy of Guru, take your awareness to the centre of the chest cavity. Become aware of light pink lotus at this point, become aware of a soft pink light emanating from this lotus and filling up your entire body. Gradually let this light grow to fill up your immediate surroundings, the entire planet and eventually all of creation. Now become aware of your Guru and connect with him/her in this light pink light (if you do not have a Guru, you can become of aware of the image on website, www.dhyanfoundation.com). Gently holding the hand of the Guru, drop all awareness, let go. Let there be no thoughts or movement beyond this point. Whenever you feel like, open your eyes looking first at the centre of the palms. ❐ Write to me about your experiences. —For questions to Yogiji write to info@dhyanfoundation.com


India Empire March 2017  
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