Has Cong turned lukewarm to ‘Art 370’ in Gupkar Declaration?

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By Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
New Delhi, Oct 18 |
It was over a year after they signed the ‘Gupkar Declaration — pledging a joint fight to safeguard Jammu and Kashmirs (J&K) special status, Article 370 and 35-A — that the top leaders of six regional and one national party met at the National Conference (NC) patriarch Dr Farooq Abdullahs residence in Srinagar on Thursday, October 15.

Ghulam Ahmad Mir, President of the J&K Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) was, however, conspicuously absent.

The Congress party was part and parcel of the Gupkar Declaration when it was signed on 4 August 2019. It was represented by the senior party leader and a former Minister, Taj Mohiuddin. According to some reports, Mir was absent due to a “medical emergency”. There was no explanation as to why Taj or any other JKPCC leader did not represent the party.

Late on the night of 14 October, Mir revealed to this journalist that Dr Abdullah had invited him for a meeting of the Gupkar Declaration signatories. “I told Farooq Sahab that I would try my best to reach Srinagar as I am supposed to attend a remembrance ceremony of our senior leader and former Minister Mohammad Sharief Niaz in Doda”, Mir said. He claimed that he was in Batote, on the way from Srinagar to Doda, in Jammu but did not mention any ‘medical emergency’.

JKPCC insiders later disclosed that Mir and other party leaders had chosen to be absent as there was “no green signal” from the Congress headquarters in New Delhi. According to one of them, the Congress high command was not comfortable with the phrases “Article 370 and 35-A” in the changing situation and ahead of the Assembly elections in Bihar.

“As long as the signatories use the euphemistic phrases like ‘restoration of the rights that have been snatched away in August 2019, we have no problem. But abrogation of Article 370 has become part of the national narrative and it would be imprudent for us to specifically emphasize it. It will only help our adversary—the BJP”, he asserted.

After his release from detention under the Public Safety Act, NC’s vice president and the former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is on record to have said that the Valley-based opposition amalgam had not been fully supported by any principal opposition party at the national level. According to him, some-odd statements had flowed in occasionally from former Home Minister P. Chidambaram.

The Congress top brass has been meticulously cautious in choosing its phrases while speaking about J&K’s conversion into two union territories and withdrawal of its special status. Even in the thick of the debate over Home Minister Amit Shah’s J&K Reorganisation Bill in August 2019, the Congress leaders had raised uproar over the Bill coming from the “unconstitutional route”, rather than categorically opposing the legislation. At one point of time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself challenged the Congress to make restoration of Article 370 as a part of its manifesto.

Notwithstanding their angry interviews to the media in the last two or three months, Dr Abdullah, as well as Omar, have euphemistically used the phrase “fight for our rights that were snatched away on 5 August 2019”. Only after the media grills them over the specifics, they say ‘Article 370′. This is in sharp contrast to the clarity shown in his tweets and statements by their junior party colleague, Aga Ruhullah. Aga has resigned as the party spokesperson and made it unambiguously clear that he would not contest any elections until restoration of the statehood and Article 370.

In a couple of interviews to local news agencies, even Omar sought to make it clear that he would not contest the elections until statehood, Article 370 and 35-A were restored.

However, in contrast to his past, after his release early this year, much of his activity on Twitter has been limited to retweeting. He has remained guarded about making statements like the video Mehbooba Mufti released early this week. While being harshly critical of the Centre’s J&K-related interventions in the last 14 months, Mehbooba sought “resolution of the Kashmir issue”. The establishment in New Delhi interprets it as the “Pakistani narrative”.

Significantly, NC lost no time to ‘clarify’ that Dr Abdullah had not sought any support from China in restoration of Article 370. In a television interview, Dr Abdullah had said that abrogation of Article 370 and creation of the UTs of J&K and Ladakh was “not acceptable to China”. He had gone on to add: “May, God willing, their might help our people to get back Article 370”. NC claimed that Dr Abdullah’s interview had been “misinterpreted”.

The meeting of the seven parties on Thursday—NC, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peoples Conference, CPI (M), Awami National Conference, J&K Peoples Movement and Peoples Democratic Front—decided to name their combination as ‘Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration’. Dr Abdullah said, “We shall struggle for restoration of what was snatched from Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. Ours is a constitutional battle. We want the Government of India to return to the people of the State the rights they held before August 5, 2019”.

The days to come, after the electioneering in Bihar, would make it clear whether the CPI (M) and the Congress would endorse the rhetorical statements of the Valley-based parties or distance from them for apprehension of possible reverses at the national level. Both, the NC’s founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah as well as his successor Farooq Abdullah, have left behind some bitter experiences for their allies. Sheikh’s volte face from Plebiscite happened in 1974-75 while Abdullah ditched a larger national opposition alliance to form a coalition government with Rajiv Gandhi’s Congress in 1986-87.

(This content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)

Source: IANS

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An actor must be thick-skinned: Kriti Kharbanda

An actor must be thick-skinned: Kriti Kharbanda

New Delhi, Oct 27 | Giving up and sitting back has never been an option for actor Kriti Kharbanda who insists that as an actor it is important to be thick-skinned in order to survive. Adding that for an actor, there are always enough people to put him/her down, but very few who will motivate, she says, “You should be your biggest cheerleader. The moment you give up on yourself, the world will refuse to help. And when one decides not to, nothing in the world can break you. Before my big hit, people would say, ‘she won’t last’. However, I refused to pay any heed to that, and focussed on the positives — there were many still willing to put money on me. Then came the life changing hit. But it happened to me only because I didn’t give up and kept going.”

Kharbanda who will be seen in Bejoy Nambiar’s ‘Taish’ along with Pulkit Samrat, releasing on October 29 on Zee 5, says that the director managed to bring out the best in her and the role was both challenging and intense. “It is unlike anything I have done before. ‘Taish’ has introduced me to a very different side of my acting abilities. Working on this film has taught me several things which I would like to imbibe and utilize while working on other projects too.”

Expecting that the film will precipitate more work, the actor who made her acting debut in 2009 with the Telugu film ‘Boni’ and has worked in Kannada, Hindi and Telugu language films does not really see any drastic contrasts between the industries in different regions. “It is all about the the people you work with. I have had good and bad experiences everywhere. There is never a guarantee that if you are working within a particular region or with a production house, everything will be smooth or bad. For me, it has only been about personal growth, no matter which language I have worked in. How I used to understand and respond to a situation — I wouldn’t react the way I did five years ago, considering one matures with age.”

Excited about the kind of cinema being made by a newer crop of directors working on a smaller budget and willing to experiment with narratives, the actor who starred in films like ‘Veerey Ki Wedding’ and ‘Pagalpanti’ says she is always on a lookout for roles that pose new challenges. “So many talented people coming from across the country are coming forward with novel stories. I would love to be part of those tales.”

As one witnesses major films being released on OTT platforms, Kharbanda says that while an actor would love a theatre release considering the experience it offers to audiences, in times like these, premieres on digital platforms are understandable. “Well, if theatre releases are not happening, this cannot mean that we would stop working. Also, it makes all the sense to support the producer if he decides that the future of the film is on an OTT platform.”

For someone who does not mind spending time at home, the lockdown was not really brutal. “I am glad that I managed to learn several new things during that time including playing the piano. The idea is to constantly think ahead. The lockdown taught me to prioritize my physical and mental health. We now know not to take anything for granted.”

All set to start shooting for her next film ’14 Phere’ to be directed by Devanshu Singh, Kharbanda adds, “I have also signed something else, which should be announced by the last week of November.”

(Sukant Deepak can be contacted at sukant.d@ians.in)

Source: IANS

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Bookshelf: Books that spotlight children's mental health

Bookshelf: Books that spotlight children's mental health

New Delhi, Oct 27 (IANSlife) In these unprecedented times, when isolation fatigue, gloom and the fear of losing a beloved has also come to grip children, taking care of their mental health is of paramount importance.

Here’s a list of books that address the various emotions children struggle with, and can be companions to them during the hard times.

‘The Room on the Roof’ by Ruskin Bond

A classic coming-of-age story which has held generations of readers spellbound! Rusty, a sixteen-year-old Anglo-Indian boy, is orphaned and has to live with his English guardian in the claustrophobic European part in Dehra Dun. Unhappy with the strict ways of his guardian, Rusty runs away from home to live with his Indian friends. Plunging for the first time into the dream-bright world of the bazaar, Hindu festivals and other aspects of Indian life, Rusty is enchanted, and is lost forever to the prim proprieties of the European community. Written when the author was himself seventeen, this moving story of love and friendship, with a new introduction and illustrations will be enjoyed by a whole new generation of readers.

‘Who Stole Bhaiya’s Smile?’ by Sanjana Kapur

Bhaiya does not feel like playing these days. Could it be because of his new monster friend Dukduk, who is always hanging around him. No one in the family takes Bhaiya seriously. But Chiru knows there is more than what meets the eye. A story about the lingering effects of depression. The book is illustrated by Sunaina Coelho.

‘Hearts Do Matters’ by Anita Myers

What the world needs now in these times is love. ‘Hearts Do Matter’ supports children and adults through the losses and grief in their life. It teaches us that even when loved ones cannot be with us, we can feel their presence in our hearts. The new release is a beautiful picture book about a little girl who has a very special relationship with her mother. Her mother promised she would always be with her, and she shows in the book that she kept her promise in the most loving way.

Source: IANS

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Yotta infrastructure to invest Rs 7,000 cr for data centre park in UP

Yotta infrastructure to invest Rs 7,000 cr for data centre park in UP

Mumbai, Oct 27 | Hiranandani Group subsidiary Yotta Infrastructure on Tuesday announced to invest Rs 7,000 crore to set up a 20-acre hyperscale data centre park in Greater Noida.

The company said it has received necessary approvals from the US government for the park that will house six interconnected data centre buildings offering 30,000 racks capacity and 200MW of power.

The construction for the first building will commence in December.

“Yotta’s vision to support the Digital India initiative just received a big boost with the inclusion of our northern India campus that will enable us to address India’s growing need for data sovereignty,” said Dr Niranjan Hiranandani, Co-founder and Managing Director of the Hiranandani Group.

In July, Yotta launched the world’s 2nd largest tier IV data centre in its Navi Mumbai Datacenter park.

The company has also inked an MoU with the Tamil Nadu government to set up a campus in Chennai at an investment of Rs 4,000 crore.

“We expect our NCR campus to be operational with the first building before July 2022.

“It was a very natural choice for us to look at NCR to set up our third facility after Navi Mumbai and Chennai, given the growing needs of enterprises and intentions of hyperscale cloud service providers for expanding their availability zones in this region,”: said Sunil Gupta, Co-founder and CEO of Yotta Infrastructure.

Yotta is a managed data centre service provider that designs, builds, and operates large-scale hyperdensity Data Center Parks in Navi Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi.

Source: IANS

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