Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Dear Mr. Sagar,
Please see below an invitation to the launch of our book by Shri Nitin Gadkari on 28th May 2015. Please do try and make it.
Best regards,
Rajiv Kumar
Dear friend
At last there may be some good news. Indonesia and Malaysia have said today that they’ll allow Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshis stranded in boats at sea to land. Thousands of refugees are stranded at sea, and we have heard heartbreaking stories of children and babies dying as boats capsize.
A Rohingya IDP camp in 2013. This camp hadn't had food in 5 days.
Assuming these countries do keep their word, this is good news. The danger now, however, is that media and political attention will move on, and the root causes of the crisis, the Burmese government’s policy of trying to drive the Rohingya out of Burma, will continue.
We can’t let this happen.
One of the tools the Burmese government uses to drive the Rohingya out of Burma is to deliberately impoverish them, and to block aid to the 140,000 people living in squalid camps after fleeing their homes after attacks in 2012.
Join us in calling on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to personally take the lead in negotiating free humanitarian access in Rakhine State, where most Rohingya live.
In 2008 after Cyclone Nargis struck, leaving hundreds of thousands of people in desperate need of aid, the Generals refused to allow international aid in. Ban Ki-moon helped negotiate a deal to lift many restrictions. He has done it before; he needs to do it again. Children are dying because the Burmese government is stopping aid.
Thank you for your support.
Anna Roberts
Burma Campaign UK
PS: If you took the action last week asking Philip Hammond to raise the crisis at the EU Foreign Ministers meeting, thank you. Sadly he doesn’t seem to have listened. However, on Monday a Foreign Office Minister did meet the Burmese Ambassador in London, and did stress the need to address the root causes of the crisis. It is good news that our message about tackling the root causes is getting through. We have to keep pushing!
Our mailing address is:
Burma Campaign UK
28 Charles Square
LondonN1 6HT
United Kingdom
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Bihar Muslims come forward for Hindu temple

Representational Image

Muslims in Bihar, in a stellar demonstration of communal harmony  donated land to help build the world’s largest Hindu temple. Temple to have a capacity to seat  20,000 people. Muslim’s  not only donated land they have also provided it at a nominal rate for construction of the world’s largest Hindu Temple.
Without help of Muslims, it would have been difficult to realize this dream project.” Acharya Kishore Kunal who is the secretary of the Patna-based cash-rich Mahavir Mandir Trust that is taking up the project.The construction of this temple will begin in the month of June at Janki nagar in East Champaran District. The total cost will be around Rs 500 crore.
Kunal, a former Indian Police Service officer, said that Muslims have come forward to ensure that the temple comes up soon. The construction of the temple will commence in June at Janki Nagar near Kesaria in East Champaran district, about 150 km from here. It will cost over R.500 crore.
“It is usual for Hindus to donate land for temple, but it is unusual for Muslims to donate land for the construction of temple,” he said and added that Muslims should be lauded for joining hands with Hindus to donate land for a pious cause.
Kunal said that more than three dozen Muslim families have their land in the middle of the proposed location of the temple and some Muslims families have land along the main road that connects to the project site.
“Some Muslims donated lands and others helped and supported us to purchase their land for the temple. If Muslims had not come forward, the temple project was sure to have got delayed…”
He said that Mahavir Mandir Trust has obtained 200 acres of land. “Hindus and Muslims have donated about 50 acres of land and the remaining has been purchased.”
Earlier, some Muslims had helped build a Hindu temple dedicated to Goddess Durga in Gaya district, another temple was dedicated to God Shiva in Begusarai district and in Sitamarhi district.
Mumbai-based Valecha Construction Company will construct the temple, which will be 2,500 feet long, 1,296 feet wide and 379 feet high.
“The temple will be earthquake proof (since it) is near the Nepal border,” Kunal said.
Media agencies

LG cancels all transfers, postings done within this week

May 20
Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung today cancelled all appointments made by Delhi government in the last four days and asserted he was the sole authority in matters of ordering transfer and posting of bureaucrats. In a letter to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the Lt Governor challenged AAP government’s order to bureaucrats not to follow his directives without securing approval from the Chief Minister or any other minister. Mr Jung also contested AAP government’s instructions to the officials to not route files through his office, saying he has been vested with power to decide on major policy issues.
Explaining constitutional provisions and norms laid down in Government of NCT of Delhi Act and Transaction of Business rules of the Delhi Government, Mr Jung asked the AAP government to follow the rules and procedures. Mr Kejriwal had on Monday directed bureaucrats including the Chief Secretary to first consult him and other Ministers before taking directions from the Lt Governor.
Yesterday, both Mr Kejriwal and Mr Jung had taken their tussle to President Pranab Mukherjee, accusing each other of violating the Constitution and overstepping their jurisdictions. Earlier in the day, the Chief Minister urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow the city government to function independently and accused the Centre of trying to run the Delhi administration through the Lt Governor.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Kejriwal said the elected government must have a say in distribution of work to senior officials. The appointment of Shakuntala Gamlin as acting chief secretary last week had triggered a tussle between the AAP government and Mr Jung. Mr Kejriwal had alleged that the LG was trying to take over the administration.
Home minister Rajnath Singh today said Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal should sit together and settle the issue amicably. Mr Singh today met President Pranab Mukherjee. Speaking to reporters after meeting the President, Mr Rajnath Singh declined to comment on the issues discussed.
Earlier, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the controversy of appointments of bureaucrats to key posts by Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung. In his letter, Mr Kejriwal alleged that the Centre is interfering through the Lieutenant Governor. Mr Kejriwal urged the Prime Minister to allow the Delhi government to work independently under constitutional scheme.
Jawaharlal Nehru’s Interim Government, 1946-47: —

Jawaharlal Nehru’s Interim Government, 1946-47:

The Nehru Memorial Museum and Library
cordially invites you to a Seminar
at 3.00 pm on Thursday, 21st May, 2015
in the Seminar Room, First Floor, Library Building
Jawaharlal Nehru’s Interim Government, 1946-47:
An alternative historical assessment’

Dr. Rakesh Ankit,
University of Southampton,

Jawaharlal Nehru’s Interim Government (2 September 1946-14 August 1947), the precursor to the first government of independent India, appears as a ‘penumbra of oblivion’ at this distance of time. Caught in a liminal political space, it has been an uneasy fit in our historical consciousness. The massive literature on the partition and independence of India has tended to approach it almost solely through the prism of Partition; understanding it merely as a prelude to it and offering it as further evidence for its ‘inevitability’. This paper, instead, attempts a study of the ‘transitional’ and ‘transnational’ character of the interim government from outside the binaries of ‘national-colonial’ and ‘secular-communal’. Based on British colonial structures, run by diverse Indian parties, engaging with provincial politics and making international forays, the interim government represented an exercise in political accommodation, power-sharing and coalition-building that, contrary to perceptions, managed to work enough to leave lasting legacies. 

Dr. Rakesh Ankit studied history at Delhi, Oxford and Southampton Universities and is currently associated with the Centre for Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies (Southampton).  

All are welcome.
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ADR files plea in SC to bring political parties under RTI
New Delhi, May 20: Urging the Supreme Court to declare all the national and regional political parties as “public authorities” and bring them within the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and RTI activist Mr. Subhash Chandra Agrawal yesterday filed a petition in the Apex court.
Seeking transparency and accountability in the functioning of recognised national and regional political parties, the plea, filed through advocate Prashant Bhushan, also urged the court to direct all such parties to disclose details regarding their income and expenditure. The petitioners also sought the entire details of donations and funding received by the political parties, irrespective of the amount donated as well as the full details of the donors making donations to them and to the electoral trusts.
It is to be noted that currently, political parties are required to disclose information of only those donors who donate above Rs 20,000. As this is required only to enjoy tax exemption, those parties who do not submit their contribution reports are not penalised.
“This petition has been necessitated by the arrogant defiance of the lawful decision of the Central Information Commission by six national political parties. The decision of the Supreme Court will determine whether the law of the land applies to political parties or are political parties above the law. We certainly hope the Supreme Court will uphold the law,” said Prof. Jagdeep Chhokar, Founder Trustee, ADR.
Central Information Commission (CIC), on June 3, 2013, had declared six national political parties, namely the INC, BJP, CPI(M), CPI, NCP and BSP to be “public authorities” under Section 2(h) of the RTI Act, on a complaint filed by ADR and Mr. Agrawal.
For more information on the order, please click here:
However, none of the six political parties complied with the said order. After 22-month-long wait on non-compliance, the CIC on March 16, 2015 declared that its June 3, 2013 order was “legally correct” and “final”. The CIC lamented that the RTI Act does not provide the Commission with adequate powers to deal with the contempt and non-compliance of its orders by the political parties.
Grounds for filing of petition:
  • Under 10th Schedule of the Constitution, political parties enjoy a stronghold over their elected MPs/MLAs and this power is not only confined to the manner of voting but it also extends to their conduct.
  • Under Section 29A of the Representation of People Act, 1951 all political parties specifically affirm to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution and such allegiance is made compulsory for the purpose of registration.
  • Political Parties enjoy a total tax exemption under Section 13A of the Income Tax Act.
  • Political parties receive huge sums of money in the form of donations and contributions from corporate, trusts and individuals.
  • Political parties also adopt the coupon system for the purposes of collecting funds and majority of the cash donations received by them remain unaccounted.
  • Information about political parties, their income, expenditure and details of donors is not disclosed by political parties for public scrutiny.
  • Law Commission of India had in its 170th Report on ‘Reform of the Electoral Laws’ dated May 29, 1999 as well as in its 255th Report on ‘Electoral Reforms’ dated March 12, 2015 recommended for transparency and accountability in the functioning of political parties.
  • Election Commission of India had also in its report on ‘Proposed Electoral Reforms’ (2004) made recommendations for compulsory maintenance and auditing of accounts of political parties.
It is an undisputed fact that the Right to Information is a part of the Fundamental Rights in terms of Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India. Because of the criticality of the role being played by these political parties in our democratic set up and the nature of duties performed by them, these parties must furnish information to the public. It is the right of the common voters to have all the requisite information about a political party before exercising their right to vote. To achieve this purpose, political parties must come within the purview of the RTI Act.


WET, WACKY 7 WILD AT JUNGLE ISLAND – South Florida’s favorite landmark attraction just opened its much-anticipated beach oasis and Rainforest Riptide, an unfathomable fun floating obstacle course and water park at Parrot Cove. After a salt-water plunge, guests can have fun with the energetic and wacky hosts of three marvelous animal shows including the popular Winged Wonders, Wild Encounters, and Wild Adventures. Then explore the park and its numerous wildlife from twin orangutans, Australian red kangaroos, Aldabra turtles to big cats, reptiles, colorful parrots, and much more. The totally Wet, Wacky and Wild adventure is available every Saturday and Sunday priced at $34.95 per adult; $26.95 per child. Nominal fee for the Rainforest Riptide. Park hours from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Rainforest Riptide opens at 11 a.m. For more information,
MICHY’S RESTAURANT IS REBORN  – After closing almost ten months and undergoing a complete renovation, Michy’s, the landmark restaurant from James Beard Award-winning Chef Michelle Bernstein and husband/partner David Martinez, will reopen as CENA by Michy in early-May 2015 with a completely new look, new menu concept and new spirit.  The acclaimed husband-and-wife culinary power couple closed the restaurant in July 2014, just short of its ten year anniversary.  The address is the same but fans will find a new restaurant in CENA by Michy. The menu at CENA (loosely translated from Spanish as “the main meal of the day”) will be approachable yet adventurous, boasting just the right amount of soul-pleasing favorites as well as an array of dishes inspired by Bernstein’s current culinary obsessions. The new menu reflects that neighborhood vibe, but in keeping with Bernstein’s reputation and creativity, often travels into unexpected and exciting directions.  Gone are the eclectic, cottage chic décor, and bright colors Michy’s was known for. The restaurant’s design, like the food, is stripped down, rustic yet sophisticated.  The restaurant will seat 62 both indoors as well as on the intimate back patio.  Joining Bernstein in the kitchen will be chef de cuisine Mikey Mayta, a Michy’s alumnus and Johnson & Wales graduate.  For more information, visit
PAMM GROWS COLLECTION OF AFRICAN AMERICAN ARTISTS – Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) has announced the acquisition of three new works by African American artists Terry Adkins, Ed Clark, and Leslie Hewitt at the second annual reception for the PAMM Fund for African American Art. The PAMM Fund was initiated with a $1 million grant funded equally by Jorge M. Perez and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to support the growth of the collection of Miami’s flagship museum with works by African American and African Diaspora artists.  For more information,
THE CAFÉ AT BOOKS & BOOKS GAINING POPULARITY– Housed at the Adrienne Arsht Center in downtown Miami in the historic Carnival Tower, The Café at Books & Books is booming with patrons and with flavor. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily the café has quickly become a neighborhood fixture, satiating patrons’ hunger for great food, perfectly-crafted cocktails, good reads and an incomparable cultural experience. The café is the brainchild of Mitchell Kaplan and his culinary partner, James Beard Award-winning Chef Allen Susser. Now with four South Florida locations, the café has become more than just a book store. The menu offers fresh, flavorful, and locally-sourced cuisine. Plates include everything from Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes to Artisanal Tartines, Grilled Cauliflower Steak, or Mahi-Mahi Ceviche to name a few. For more information and full menu,
NEW EXPERIENCES AT THOMPSON MIAMI BEACH – Thompson Miami Beachis now offering an eclectic collection of stellar dining and imbibing experiences. Among its offerings is the 1930s House, an inviting cocktail hideaway that has been quietly wowing locals and visitors alike since opening. Ready to position itself as a premiere destination for creative hand-crafted cocktails and celebrated cuisine, the historic Spanish-inspired lounge has officially launched its full culinary, beverage and entertainment line-up. Thompson Miami Beach has partnered with James Beard Award winning chef Michelle Bernstein to introduce a pop-up of her beloved Spanish tapas restaurant, Sra. Martinez, inside 1930s House. The venue will also offer weekly entertainment featuring guest DJs and live Cuban music.   At the pop-up, aficionados can enjoy a delectable menu of small plates inspired by Sra.’s successful run that made the restaurant ontoEsquiremagazine’s list of “Best Restaurants in America” in 2008. A selection of crudos,carpaccios and ceviches as well as flavor-packed Spinach & Feta Croquetas and Lardo-Wrapped Figs stuffed with goat cheese will be available.  For more information,
MODERN JAPANESE-INSPIRED RESTAURANT DEBUTS – More than fifteen years of sushi and sashimi making traditions were imported to Miami’s sandy shores when internationally-renowned SOHO Bay recently opened its doors. The long-awaited concept hailing from Brazil features waterfront dining for 200, located on West Avenue in Miami Beach. Executive Chef Ricky Sauri, who brings more than 20 years of experience to the SOHO Bay team, executes the modern Japanese menu. Sauri has worked in a number of the country’s most esteemed restaurants including a decade at therenowned Nobu empires’ locations in Miami Beach, West Hollywood, and the Bahamas, followed by stints at some of Miami’s hot spots including Touch, Bloom, and Khong River House. At SOHO Bay, Sauri’s menu reflects a sophisticated creative take on traditional Japanese cuisine served up in a hip yet unpretentious setting. Designed to be shared, the menu featuresSmall Hot Plates, Soho Specialties, and Soho Rolls. Designed by architects José Gomes and Marlon Gama, the 12,000 square-foot indoor-outdoor waterfront restaurant features sleek modern décor, with stunning design elements throughout.  Guests can sip libations at the striking 12-seat back-lit cocktail bar or enjoy an interactive dining experience, complete with omakase and à la carte offerings, at the adjacent sushi bar, both made entirely of white onyx. No matter where guests are seated, one thing is guaranteed – an unobstructed view of the bay and Miami skyline through floor-to-ceiling windows that define the space. For those traveling by sea, a private boating dock is available at SOHO Bay, one of few restaurants in the city to have one. SOHO Bay also hosts DJs spinning sultry beats to welcome the weekend.  For more information,
MAY IS NATIONAL BURGER MONTH – May marks National Burger Month in the culinary world and many of Miami’s hottest restaurants are offering a unique lineup of expertly crafted specialty burgers to tempt your taste buds. Several of the restaurants offering delicious options include Devon Seafood + Steak at Town & Country, BLT Prime at the iconic Trump National Doral, Meat Market on Lincoln Road and many more. A few options you might find on these menus include a bison patty loaded with roasted hatch Anaheim chilies, a grilled salmon burger with avocado, apple and pickled red onions or a classic Black Angus burger with melted sharp cheddar cheese. And to share more burger love, the Magic City Casino will be hosting a Burger Brawl on May 15thwith 20 competitors providing juicy burger samples as well as desserts and drinks. For more information,
Open Defecation Free (ODF) Communities: A key step towards Swachh Bharat —

Open Defecation Free (ODF) Communities: A key step towards Swachh Bharat

MayNiti Aayog – CPR first Open Seminar on
Open Defecation Free (ODF) Communities: A key step towards Swachh Bharat
Friday, 22nd May 2015, 3:00 p.m.
Room 122, Niti Aayog, Sansad Marg, New Delhi 110001
Image by Shubhagato Dasgupta
It may be argued that India’s open defecation figures (both rural and urban) were the key drivers for the creation of a national-level mission on sanitation. To counter this, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA) proposes to construct individual household latrines, and convert insanitary (including pit latrines) into sanitary latrines. For this, SBA offers a central government incentive of Rs. 12,000/- per targeted household in rural areas, and Rs. 4,000/- per targeted household in urban areas. At the end of 2019, it is expected that India will be Open Defecation Free (ODF). This seminar will debate the definition of ODF communities and the evolution of a suitable matrix to measure the achievement of this status under the mission.
Programme schedule:
15:00-15:15  –  Introduction & Welcome
Ms. Sindushree Khullar, CEO, Niti Aayog,
Dr. Pratap Bhanu Mehta, President & Chief Executive, Centre for Policy Research
15:15-15:35  –  Presentation: Transformation to an ODF society through Sabar Shouchagar movement in Nadia district
Dr. P. B. Salim, District Magistrate, Nadia District, West Bengal
15:35-15:55  –  Presentation: Framing the questions
Mr. Shubhagato Dasgupta, Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research
15:55-16:30  –  Open discussion
Moderated by Ms. Sindushree Khullar, CEO, Niti Aayog
Speaker Bios:
P. B. Salim is a 2001 batch IAS officer from the West Bengal cadre. He is currently District Magistrate, Nadia District in West Bengal, which on 30th April 2015, was declared “Open Defecation Free” by Hon’ble Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee.
Shubhagato Dasgupta is a Senior Fellow at CPR and Director of the Scaling City Institutions for India (Sci-Fi) Sanitation initiative. His current research focuses on drinking water and sanitation in India and the world, with particular reference to flagship government programs and service delivery challenges in smaller cities
The Niti Aayog-CPR Open Seminar Series aims to create a platform for deliberation on models for urban sanitation, including service delivery, through a series of thematic seminars with academic and research institutions, development partners, public and private organisations, NGOs and the three tiers of government. The seminar series will strengthen the understanding of the challenges and opportunities in sanitation by promoting evidence-based knowledge in the sector. The space seeks to initiate discussion by sharing experiences; lessons learned from successes and failures; alternative models of sanitation technologies and service delivery models; and studies of best practices. This platform will be a crucial tool to leverage the expertise of various stakeholders on urban sanitation, including service delivery, and create a feedback loop into government, aiding the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in being a dynamic and responsive programme on sanitation. The presentations and subsequent discussions will be summarized as thematic discussion briefs for wide dissemination.

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