Kamala Harris, Nikki Haley, Tulsi Gabbard in the limelight
The year 2019 has a strong possibility of a woman emerging as a viable Presidential or Vice-Presidential candidate in the United States, for the 2020 elections. It remains to be seen if a woman will indeed challenge the incumbent, President Donald Trump, for the White House.
The path to that distinct possibility is not hard to see: the 116th Congress which was seated on January 3, 2018, has more than 100 women members – the most in history, headed by a woman, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, in the House of Representatives. Also, the first major candidate to pitchfork herself into the presidential election mix is a woman, Democrat Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.
The Indian American community, which for years and decades had its sights fixed on increasing the number of candidates in Congress – and has seen slow progress on that front as the number is stalled at four in the House, and one in the Senate – is suddenly hit with the prospect of one of their own actually becoming the most powerful politician on earth.
California Senator Kamala Harris, who is expected to announce her presidential bid soon, is one of the strongest Democrats in a burgeoning list of candidates for the nomination. The Indian American Harris, whose mother is from India, and father from the West Indies, may pitch her candidacy on national TV, as early as next week.
The Hill reported that Harris is making a return trip to “The Late Show,” and will sit down with Stephen Colbert on the CBS late-night show on January 10. It’s the same show where last month, after Colbert egged on Julián Castro, a former Housing and Urban Development secretary, about whether he would be running in the next presidential race, his twin brother, Rep. Joaquin Castro, from Texas, replied, “I’ll speak on his behalf here; he’s going to run for president.”
Apart from Harris, the Democrat Congresswoman from Hawaii, Tulsi Gabbard, the first practicing Hindu in Congress, is also expected to contest the presidential polls, in 2020. The progressive Gabbard is in the process of putting a team together for her initiative, and an announcement of her candidacy is expected sometime this month. She has already been endorsed by a few conservative leaning Indian American groups, who are delighted by the prospect of a Hindu getting pole position in US elections.
A terrific and exciting prospect for the Republicans is Nikki Haley, who stepped down as the Ambassador to the United Nations, on January 1, 2018. The former Governor of South Carolina, whose parents emigrated from Punjab in India, is considered a top prospect to be the running mate for Trump in 2010, if he decides to dump the incumbent VP Mike Pence. The other, and more exciting possibility for the community, is Haley running for President herself, if Trump decides to recuse himself for a shot at a second-term. What Bobby Jindal, the former Republican Governor of Louisiana couldn’t achieve, perhaps Haley will.
In the history of US elections, only two women have ever been nominated to run for the office of Vice President, the furthest they have achieved in a quest for the White House: Sarah Palin by the Republican party in 2008 and Geraldine Ferraro by the Democratic party in 1984. Here’s a brief look at how these three beloved women of the Indian American community stand at present, and what the mainstream and local press is saying about them:
Harris, who recently went on a fact finding trip to Afghanistan, to burnish her military and foreign relations credentials, is booking speeches in early primary states, reported the San Francisco Chronicle. “The Democratic Party is becoming increasingly non-white and nominated women in record numbers in 2018. As Harris is the only women of color anywhere near the top tier for the 2020 Democratic nomination, it shouldn’t be surprising at all if she ends up winning,” it said.
There is likely to be tremendous enthusiasm for Harris. Women of color powered Hillary Clinton’s sweep of the southeast in the 2016 primary. Last year, they were the base for Democrat Doug Jones’s shocking victory in the Alabama special Senate election, noted CNN.
Harris also appeals to many senior citizens, and disgruntled Republicans who have felt the repercussions of repeal of parts of the Affordable Care Act, and are struggling to find quality, inexpensive healthcare.
An essay adapted by The New york Times from Harris’ forthcoming book, “The Truths We Hold: An American Journey,” has Harris writing of the death of her mother from colon cancer, in 2009. She writes about the merits of the Affordable Care Act.
“Without the protections of the A.C.A., Americans with pre-existing conditions could be denied health insurance and insurance companies would once again be allowed to discriminate based on age and gender. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 50 million Americans could be rejected for coverage by health insurers if the A.C.A. were to disappear,” Harris wrote.
“At the same time, people in their mid-20s would get kicked off their parents’ plans. Lifetime caps could come back. Out-of-pocket costs would no longer be capped. The expansion of Medicaid in dozens of states could be reversed. The human toll would be unthinkable, with some experts estimating that 20,000 to 100,000 people could die each year.
“We must fight with everything we have to avert this catastrophe. And as we do so, let’s also accept the truth that even with the Affordable Care Act intact, our health care system still needs fixing. Let’s acknowledge that there are nearly 30 million Americans who still don’t have health insurance. And there are plenty more who have insurance but can’t actually afford the rising cost of health care.”
Harris writes: “I believe that health care should be a right, but the reality is that it is still a privilege in this country. We need that to change. When someone gets sick, there is already so much else to deal with: the physical pain for the patient, the emotional pain for the family. There is often a sense of desperation — of helplessness — as we grapple with the fear of the unknown. Medical procedures already have risks. Prescription drugs already have side effects. Financial anxiety should not be one of them.”
Harris also writes, poignantly of the loss of her mother, which also highlights her proud heritage: “And though I miss her every day, I carry her with me wherever I go. I think of the battles she fought, the values she taught me, her commitment to improve health care for us all. There is no title or honor on earth I’ll treasure more than to say I am Shyamala Gopalan Harris’s daughter. As I continue the battle for a better health care system, I do so in her name.”
However, Harris has plenty of obstacles and hurdles to clear before her nomination is water tight.
The Roll Call reported that Harris’ fellow Democrat Senator from California, Dianne Feinstein, said Thursday that she would support former Vice President Joe Biden, over her, in a presidential race.
“I love Kamala. But this is a different kind of thing,” Feinstein said, after she praised Biden, and was asked of support for her fellow Senator Harris. While Feinstein’s endorsement of Biden would have miffed Harris, she would be more concerned by a scathing opinion by the editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal on January 3. It reprimanded Harris for what it deemed as taking the party away from its roots, acceptance of Catholics.
“We’re still a year from the 2020
presidential primaries, but Senator Kamala Harris is already showing America how far the Democratic Party has strayed from its roots,” it noted, after her controversial manner of questioning Trump’s nominee for a federal district court in Nebraska, Brian Buescher, who is a member of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization.
“Ms. Harris’s embrace of religious intolerance is especially significant because in two years she could be the next U.S. President. What does it say about today’s Democrats that no one in the party of Al Smith and JFK sees fit to rebuke her?” the editorial said.
Harris also got the dubious honor of being named the ‘2018 Porker of the year’ by the Citizens Against Government Waste, which seeks out candidates who they fathom guilty of promoting patently flawed policies, defending wasteful boondoggles, and pushing a big-spending agenda. Harris was chosen for “proposing a bill that would subsidize rent with taxpayer dollars. Her bill would have encouraged the same behaviors that led to the student loan bubble.”
The Tax Foundation concluded that Harris’s plan, “would fail to address the root causes of the high cost of housing. Instead, it would wind up benefiting landlords, not significantly improving the lives of renters, and carrying a hefty price tag.” University of Georgia economics professor Jeffrey Dorfman wrote, “Instead of the Rent Relief Act, we could call it the Landlord enrichment and Taxpayer Fleecing Act.”
even if she were to ignore these initial hiccups on the road to glory, Harris might well take note of a letter published in the San Francisco Chronicle, from a reader who admires her, and has a warning for her.
“I am writing to ask Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., not to run for president in 2020. I think she is an admirable woman, and I am delighted to have someone with her intelligence and political viewpoint as our California senator. However, the idea that she would abandon us after less than half her first term is alarming. We need her as our senator, and we deserve to have her in that office for at least a full term.
“Besides, I shudder to think what the Trump base, the Russians, and the fringe right-wing trolls would do in attacking her as a liberal woman of color. I don’t know if the country could take this on top of the years of Trump,” the letter concluded.
The young and attractive Gabbard, 37, who was born in American Samoa, was one of the first female combat veterans to join Congress and was a supporter of the 2016 presidential bid of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. She was first elected to the House in 2012, becoming the first Hindu member of Congress, and was sworn into office with her hand on the Bhagavad Gita.
Gabbard also previously served as vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, but conservative hawks love her too because she’s an Iraq war veteran who criticized President Barack Obama on foreign policy.
The Honolulu Civil Beat reported that Gabbard has expressed loyalty to a “Guru Dev” or “spiritual master” named Chris Butler. Gabbard, who announced her interest in the presidential race on MSNBC’s “Hardball”, said: “I’m concerned about the direction of the country.” That’s something a lot of voters can empathize with, especially with the ongoing government shutdown and a possible recession looming in the horizon, though the job numbers have shown robust growth.
The Washington Post reported that during stops in New Hampshire, Gabbard reportedly highlighted her support for a single-payer Medicare-for-all health-care bill and her efforts to reduce the influence of money in politics, among other policies. That position is the same as Sanders, and critics have pointed out that it wouldn’t make sense for her to run against Sanders.
In an interview to the Associated Press last month, Gabbard, who went on a limb by meeting the Syrian dictator Bashar Assad in 2017, said US wars in the Middle east have destabilized the region, made the US less safe and cost thousands of American lives, At the same time, terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State group are stronger than before the September 11 terrorist attacks, she said.
“Those who have been setting our country’s foreign policy are lost,” Gabbard said, placing blame on both Democrats and Republicans. “Our policies have been without clear objective or purpose for some time. And it’s cost our country, and it’s cost the world, dearly.” When it comes to domestic issues, Gabbard stands out for doing 180-degree turns on abortion and gay marriage, noted AP.
In 2004, the then-state representative urged Hawaii voters to support a federal constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages nationwide. She was worried gay marriages licensed in Massachusetts would be deemed valid in Hawaii. Eight years later, while running for Congress, Gabbard said she would work toward requiring the federal government to recognize same-sex marriage. She also metamorphosed from being anti-abortion to in favor of abortion rights. The Honolulu Civil Beat reported that in Gabbard’s view the most important meaning of ‘aloha’ is love, something she said she explains frequently back in Washington, D.C., and as she travels the country.
She said she views aloha as the solution to what ails the nation, a force that motivates people to take action for “the well being of others.” Gabbard would need plenty of ‘aloha’ from both Democrat and Republicans if she hopes to achieve her aspirations. By taking both liberal and conservative views, with a balanced perspective, she would make for a good VP pick too.
The skillful Haley, who managed to stay abreast of Trump’s ire and resigned gracefully, described to NBC News how she leveraged Trump’s personality: “I got the job done by being truthful but also by letting him be unpredictable and not showing our cards.”
Haley showed her diplomatic acumen and lofty political aspirations in her last appearance at the United Nations, before she stepped down on January 1, 2018, where her speech clearly established that she didn’t want to be on the wrong side of Trump, and not having blame attached to her own self.
Reuters reported that Haley during a UN Security Council meeting on the Middle east gave no details of exactly what was in the long-awaited, unpublished plan to broken peace between Israel and Palestinians. It’s a plan prepared by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and it was widely expected that Haley would reveal the plan before she left the UN.
It’s this adroit sidestepping and deflection of thorny and controversial issues that has earned Haley accolades and admiration in her stint with the Trump administration. The New York Times reported that Haley has been mentioned as a potential running mate for Trump in the 2020 election, a move that could improve the ticket’s popularity among women voters. Trump has also reportedly asked his aides if they thought Pence was still loyal to him. Haley, on her part, made it clear after her resignation that she would support Trump in his re-election bid.
Haley, however, has not backed away from ribbing Trump. At a charity fundraiser in New York after she announced her resignation, Haley made some jokes at the president’s expense, reported The State. “When the president found out that I was Indian American, he asked me if I was from the same tribe as Elizabeth Warren,” Haley told the Alfred e. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in October, to guffaws from the audience.
For now, though, Haley is moving to New York, and has plans to write a book, on her experience of working at the UN. All that may change this year, though, if she starts to campaign and do fundraisers for Trump. What are the odds of Harris vs. Haley in 2020, or 2024? Pretty good, one can safely bet.
( Inputs from Sujeet Rajan & Pratibha Shalini – US Bureau )
Arecent government decision has the potential to blur the difference between public and private recruitment. All public recruitment agencies [UPSC, Staff Selection Commission (SSC), Railway Recruitment Board (RRB), RBI, armed forces, paramilitary, public sector banks, public sector enterprises] will use the Ministry of Labour and employment’s NCS (National Career Service) portal to disclose scores/rankings of candidates in the final stages of recruitment processes. Courtesy NIC, there will thus be an integrated information system for public recruitment agencies. This will have all the details about a candidate.
As a candidate, when I fill out an application form, I have the option of opting out of the disclosure scheme. If not, my data are there on the portal for other private and public sector agencies to use. As an applicant, I may have got through to final stages, but may not have been able to clear the last hurdle for whatever post I applied for. In that event, my data can be used by other recruiters. Take the railways. Not long ago, there was an announcement about a little more than 18,000 non-technical posts and more than nine million applied and were tested. (Sure, all 9 million don’t qualify for final stages, but that’s not relevant.) Subsequently, railways advertised for 2,54,587 non-technical posts. Within the public segment, there is a wealth of application and testing information and the private sector routinely complains about the lack of people with requisite skills. If an initiative matches excess demand in one with excess supply in the other, it can only improve the efficiency of the intermediating function.
Who is entitled to sit for the UPSC examination? I don’t mean academic eligibility, age, or number of attempts, but nationality. For the Indian Administrative Service (IAS ), Indian Police Service(IPS) or Indian Foreign Service (IFS), the candidate must be an Indian citizen. For other services, the candidate can be a citizen of Nepal, Bhutan, a Tibetan refugee (who migrated before January 1, 1962), or a person of Indian origin who has migrated from Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, east African countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, ethiopia) or Vietnam with “the intention of permanently settling in India”.
For non-Indians, the Government of India has to issue an eligibility certificate. This doesn’t necessarily have to be produced at the time of taking an examination, but must be produced before the appointment letter is issued. For public office and public appointments, all countries, India included, have a requirement that the person must be a citizen. There are several different ways to become an Indian citizen — before the commencement of the Constitution, by birth, by descent, by registration (Section 5 of the Citizenship Act), by naturalisation. “Intention of permanently settling in India” and the consequent “eligibility certificate” sound vague and discretionary and are often reflective of historical legacies. Public office and public appointments should have the requirement of being an Indian citizen, not only for IAS, IPS or IFS, but all services. When? At the time of taking the examination or time of issuing the appointment letter? Since the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in 2006 (and preceding amendment to Citizenship Act in 2005), there is a category known as Overseas Citizen of India (OCI). The former PIO (person of Indian origin) system has gone.
OCIs have several privileges — multiple entry, multi-purpose life-long visas, exemption from foreigner registration requirements, parity with NRIs (except in the purchase of agricultural land and plantations). Progressively, there has been more liberalisation — parity in inter-country adoption, domestic air fares, entry fees for wildlife sanctuaries (2007), employment, parity in entry fees to national monuments and museums (2009), easier proof of residence (2012). However, OCI doesn’t mean dual citizenship, at least not from an Indian perspective (the UK has a different view).
Therefore, there are three rights OCIs don’t possess today — the right to vote, right to public office and right to public appointments. But given the distinction between taking an examination and the issue of an appointment letter, why shouldn’t OCIs be allowed to take UPSC exams? Logically, it is an appealing idea. If a person is selected, an appointment letter will be issued only after the existing citizenship has been renounced in favour of Indian citizenship. This is the kind of announcement that can be made at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in 2018.
Note that security clearances are necessary before any public appointment is made. So security concerns are non-sequitur. If PoK or CoPoK (China occupied Pakistan occupied Kashmir) residents wish to take the UPSC examination, so be it. In the process, they will learn something about India. More seriously, Pakistan is outside the ambit of OCI. On occasion, there has been lateral entry into public service at senior levels by people who were PIOs, not NRIs. They renounced their existing citizenship and became Indian citizens. But these were isolated instances, on ad hoc basis.
Lateral entry increases competition and the broader the catchment area, the better. It is unlikely that a large number of OCIs will wish to take UPSC exams. Given the nature of the exam, it is unlikely that many will qualify, even if they wish to. even then, from the competition point of view, why not broaden the base? From the appointment point of view, becoming an Indian citizen and imbibing things Indian are easier at an age of 25 than they are at an age of 55. We have done it on ad hoc basis at age 55. Let’s do it more systematically at an age of 25.
(The writer is member, Niti Aayog. Views expressed are personal)
Courtesy: Indian Express
Rajapaksa is guardian, savior and hope of Lanka
To describe Sri Lanka as Sri Rajapaksa may be just apt for the leader who changed the destiny of the island country. There are few international leaders in contemporary global polity that have successfully changed the war torn country in a vibrant progressive democracy in their life time. The charismatic leader accelerated the pace of development of the island country by pushing various infrastructure projects that transformed the growth rate and GDP of the country from 2009 onwards. Mahinda Rajapaksa, served as the sixth President of Sri Lanka from 19 November 2005 to 9 January 2015. A learned lawyer by profession, Rajapaksa was first elected to the Parliament of Sri Lanka in 1970, and he served as prime minister from 6 April 2004 until his victory in the 2005 presidential election. He was sworn in for his first six-year term as president on 19 November 2005. He was re-elected for a second term on 27 January 2010. However due to international and domestic reasons, he was defeated in his bid for a third term in the 2015 presidential election by Maithripala Sirisena and left office on 9 January 2015. Several months after leaving office, Rajapaksa unsuccessfully sought to become prime minister in the 2015 parliamentary election, where the United People’s Freedom Alliance was defeated. He was, however, elected as Member of Parliament for Kurunegala District.
The giant of Lanka polity entered politics way back in 1970 as the SLFP Member of Parliament in 1970. Rajapaksa big break came in 1994, following the election victory of the People’s Alliance a political front led by Sri Lanka Freedom Party and headed by Chandrika Kumaratunga, Rajapaksa was appointed Minister of Labour. He held this post until 1997 when, following a cabinet reshuffle, his portfolio was changed to Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. When the United National Party (UNP) defeated the People’s Alliance in the 2001 elections, Rajapaksa lost his position in the Government. He was however appointed as Leader of the Opposition in March 2002. However in 2004 elections, the United People’s Freedom Alliance gained a slim majority in Parliament and Rajapaksa was sworn in as Sri Lanka’s 13th Prime Minister on 6 April 2004. While Rajapaksa was the Prime Minister, he also held the Ministry of Highways. Mahinda Rajapaksa was chosen by Sri Lanka Freedom Party to contest with former Prime Minister and Opposition Leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe, the leader of the United National Party in this Presidential Election held on 17 November 2005. Despite the huge election campaign led by UNP, Mahinda Rajapaksa was able to gain a narrow victory by 190,000 votes.
After becoming President of Sri Lanka, Rajapaksa reshuffled the cabinet and took the portfolios of Defence and Finance in the new cabinet, which was sworn on 23 November 2005. Immediately following his election in 2005, Rajapaksa extended the term of the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army Sarath Fonseka, less than a month before he was scheduled to retire. Over the next three and a half years Fonseka and Rajapaksa’s brother and Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa led the country’s armed forces in their battle against the LTTE, ultimately defeating the Tigers and killing their leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. It was the most grueling battle that the world has witnessed in the recent times and it made Mahinda Rajaspaksa a national hero and international leader of repute.
The most challenging phase of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s political career came after he took the Presidency of the country. His political skills, diplomacy, will power and military acumen were tested by the most horrific ethic conflict that his country had witnessed. Although styling himself as a man of peace and a willing negotiator, Rajapaksa signaled his intention to end the peace process once in power by forging an alliance with the Sinhalese nationalist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna and the Jathika Hela Urumaya. The JVP had opposed the original 2002 peace process as treasonous. The agreement made with Rajapaksa included provisions which called for a revision of the ceasefire agreement to give the military broader powers against the LTTE, as well as ruling out of any devolution of power to the Tamil people.
Immediately following his election victory, a series of mine blasts blamed on the LTTE in the country claimed the lives of many off-duty servicemen and civilians, pushing the country back to the brink of war. Following the closure by the LTTE of a reservoir supplying water to 15,000 people named “Mavil Aru” in government controlled areas on 21 July 2006, the Sri Lankan military launched an offensive against the LTTE, bringing the entire reservoir under government control. Further military engagements have led to the LTTE been driven out of the entire Eastern Province of Sri Lanka and loss of 95% of the territory they controlled. The Sri Lanka government declared total victory on 18 May 2009. On 19 May 2009 President Mahinda Rajapaksa delivered a victory address to the Parliament and declared that Sri Lanka is liberated from terrorism. It was a near miracle achieved by the Rajapaksa led team and instantly he became national hero and darling of the masses in Sri Lanka.
His presidency after ending the Civil war in 2009 is known for the initiating the large scale infrastructure projects. Sri Lanka also made it into the “high” category of the Human Development Index during this time. Initiating, completing and development of many Highways, Roads, Colombo beautification project, rural infrastructure development projects are some several major projects. However the roadways are known for extremely high costs and are suspected of corruption and the large amount of Chinese loans tripled the country’s foreign debt and created an economic crisis. But Rajapaksa claimed that under him Sri Lanka started to experience a rapid economic growth and the GDP growth rate reached over 7%. However this has been disputed and after his fall the successor government revealed that GDP growth was inflated by using the year 2002 as the base year; which is usually revised once in five years. GDP growth for 2013 and 2014 which was 7.2% and 7.4% using 2002 as base year was reduced to 3.4 and 4.5 percent respectively.
Capitalising on the end of the Sri Lankan Civil War in May 2009 and coming off an election win in January 2010 and with the near-collapse of the opposition United National Party, President Mahinda Rajapaksa rallied more than the two-thirds majority in Parliament necessary to pass an amendment to the constitution removing presidential term limits. On the 9th September 2010 the Parliament passed the amendment to remove presidential term limits from the Constitution. This amendment allowed Rajapaksa to run for a third term and cement his grip on power. The move came just a day after the Supreme Court ruled that a referendum was not required to make the change. The amendment had even more even more far-reaching consequences than just term limits, including provisions that increased the president’s power
to act without oversight removing an independent advisory council that the president currently must consult before appointing people to important nonpartisan posts, like Supreme Court judges and members of the human rights and electoral commissions. A Parliamentary Council without veto power and with only two opposition members was created in its place.
In a move that was widely seen as solidifying his control over the Supreme Court, Rajapaksa removed chief justice Shirani Bandaranayake from office in January 2013, allowing him to appoint an ally and legal adviser, former Attorney General Mohan Peiris, as Chief Justice. In November 2014 the Supreme Court dismissed legal concerns about President Rajapaksa’s eligibility to seek a third term. Two years ahead of schedule, in November 2014, Rajapaksa signed an official proclamation confirming that he will seek re-election for a third term, after being unanimously endorsed by his Sri Lanka Freedom Party. The first time any Sri Lankan President has ever done so. Though his second term officially was to ends in November 2016, he could legally seek re-election after completing four years in office, a marker his office said he passed on November 19.
In the run up to the election being called several names had been suggested for nomination as the common opposition candidate: former president Chandrika Kumaratunga, UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, UNP Leadership Council Chairman Karu Jayasuriya, former Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake and leader of the National Movement for Social Justice Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero. However, on 21 November 2014, after the election had been called, Maithripala Sirisena, was revealed as the common opposition candidate by the UNP. Sirisena had been Minister of Health in Rajapaksa’s government and general secretary of the SLFP before defecting to the opposition coalition. Sirisena immediately received the support of former president Chandrika Kumaratunga and several UPFA MPs that had defected alongside him. The other UPFA MPs were stripped of their ministerial positions and expelled from the SLFP.
Rajapaksa received the backing of a number of small constituent parties of the UPFA including the Ceylon Workers’ Congress, Communist Party, Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP), National Freedom Front, National Union of Workers and the Up-Country People’s Front. On nomination day, 8 December 2014, two opposition MPs, Tissa Attanayake and Jayantha Ketagoda, defected to the government to support Rajapaksa. Attanayake was later appointed Minister of Health — the post previously held by Sirisena. Rajapaksa also received support from the Buddhist extremist Bodu Bala Sena group. However, the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) withdrew from UPFA government on 18 November 2014 citing Rajapaksa’s refusal to reform the executive presidency and enact reforms to promote accountability. After much hesitation the All Ceylon Muslim Congress and Sri Lanka Muslim Congress also withdrew from the UPFA government, on 22 and 28 December 2014 respectively, blaming the government’s failure to protect Sri Lankan Muslims from Sinhalese Buddhist extremists.
Rajapaksa released his manifesto, titled Mahinda’s Vision — The World Winning Path, on 23 December 2014 at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall. The manifesto pledges to introduce a new constitution within one year of being elected but the executive presidency won’t be abolished — it will be amended and the “weakness” in the parliamentary system eliminated. A naval force and a special security force will be set up, with the help of the army, to tackle drug trafficking and other organised crime. The manifesto also pledges to establish a transparent, judicial inquiry into the alleged war crimes during the final stages of the Sri Lankan Civil War but Rajapaksa had refused to cooperate with UN investigation.
In the Presidential Election of 8 January 2015, Rajapaksa was defeated by his ex-aide Maithripala Sirisena, winning only 47.6% of the vote. Many had attributed the shocking loss to his authoritarianism, nepotism, poor governance, and corruption but fact of the matter was that anti incumbency factor and desire to see new was the reason why he lost the elections.
The domestic politics of India in Tamil Nadu has compelled India to take an arm distance approach with Rajapaksa that forced Rajapaksa to tilt towards China during his second term of Presidency. In fact, Sri Lanka government did offer preferential infra projects to India but it received lukewarm response from the Indian side. It was alleged that President Rajapaksa, during the 2015 presidential campaign and elections received large payments from the Chinese port construction fund that flowed directly into campaign aides and activities. The perception was created that Rajapaksa had agreed to Chinese terms and was seen as an important ally in China’s efforts to tilt influence away from India in South Asia. It is after his unsuccessful bid for presidency in 2015: Rajapaksa adopted a more anti-China policy opposing major development projects such as the Southern Economic Development Zone in which China planned to invest over 5 billion USD. During the opening ceremony protesters led by Joint opposition MPs ignored a court order banning protests in the area violently opposed the projects at the event in which the Chinese envoy claimed that China will ignore “Negative forces”.
But the road to recovery for Rajapaksa has started with his proxy Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna won a landslide victory in the 2018 local authority elections. They were able to secure staggering 239 Local Government bodies out of 340. The SLPP have called for the resignation of the government and for fresh general elections to be held. Mahinda Rajapaksa has realized that his Chinese misadventure was the principle cause of electoral debacle and he is gradually tilting towards India for subsequent political line up. The people of Sri Lanka have realized that without Rajapaksa in power, the prestige and economic development of the country is not possible. He is adored and loved by all section of society and it is just a matter of time that the son of soil will be back in power to serve his countrymen.
Former President & PM Mahinda Rajapaksa is interviewed by Prashant Tewari Editor in Chief Opinion Express on 13 Sep 2018.
The country that holds the least risk for South Korea and the greatest potential is India. This is the reason why India is a priority destination for Korean businesses.
The South Korean President Moon Jae-in paid a four-day visit to India in July (7-10) and held delegation-level talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior leaders on a wide range of bilateral, regional, and global issues of mutual interest with a view to further strengthen the special strategic partnership between the two countries. This was Moon’s first visit to India after he took over as the President of South Korea in 2017. It was one of the most productive visits to India by a foreign leader as the talks ended with a big-ticket investment announcement that would further deepen bilateral ties between Asia’s third and fourth largest economies, particularly in the economic sphere. Prime Minister Modi also took the opportunity to mention how India is concerned about North Korea’s nuclear weapon development programmes, and appreciated Moon’s initiative to address this issue. For India, Pyongyang’s nuclear link with Pakistan has remained a matter of concern for a long time.
A brief history
India-South Korea relations are not recent but for reasons other than economics, bilateral relations remained in a state of “strategic disconnect”. India’s policy of “non-alignment and economic autarchy” and the perceived closeness with the then Soviet Union were seen by the US and its allies, such as Japan and South Korea, with suspicion. Under the circumstances, there was little prospect for India-South Korea relations to develop. Even the important role played by India in dispatching the 60th Parachute Field Military Ambulance Platoon — a mobile army surgical hospital that treated more than half of the wounded soldiers and an average of 250 to 300 civilians a day, during the UN operations in late 1951 following the Korean War — though remembered with gratitude, did not substantially help remove political barriers to forge a partnership that could have fetched mutual benefits.
There are civilisational linkages between the two countries too. It is popularly believed in South Korea that the legendary Korean King Suro married an Indian princess from Ayodhya centuries ago and mothered the Kim dynasty. Almost 80 per cent of the present generation bearing the name Kim trace their ancestry to the ancient dynasty. So, there is an emotional connection between the people of the two nations.
Even Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s evocative poem that Korea will be the lamp bearer for the illumination of Asia could not translate to concrete construction of an India-South Korea partnership until the ideological gulf remained. The collapse of the Soviet Union and India’s Look East policy, rechristened now as Act East policy, dramatically altered the perceptions in reviewing India-South Korea bilateral ties in a different light in which economic, defence, and strategic dimensions were found enmeshed. The strategic history of India’s ties with this Northeast nation, that remained disjointed for almost four decades since the end of the Korean War, has been successfully recast now.
Put briefly, India-South Korea relations have developed in stages. The years since diplomatic ties were established in 1973 until early 1990 was the first stage or the ‘budding period’. Though some efforts were made by both, they could not realise the potentials because of their “inherent ideological incongruity and differences in their policy orientation”. While India adopted a socialist, secular, democratic government at home and pursued the policy of non-alignment of the third world in international affairs, South Korea remained tied in a security alliance with the US. So, both saw each other as belonging to different camps and “were blinded by the blinkers of the global block politics of the time”.
India’s choice of inward-looking import substitution model of development sharply contrasted with South Korea’s outward-looking export-oriented development path prevented the growth of economic ties between them. Though the diplomatic and other bilateral interactions continued smoothly, not much headway could be made in expanding the economic ties.
The second stage of the bilateral ties between 1991 and 2009 can be called the phase of ‘economic and commercial cooperation’. Both countries discovered a convergence of interests in many areas during this period. In the third stage, the bilateral relationship was elevated into a ‘strategic partnership’. This strategic partnership could be achieved because of the convergence of India’s Look East Policy and Korea’s New Asia Diplomatic Initiative described as “policy rendezvous”. First, the bilateral relationship was catapulted into a higher gear when President Roh Myun-Hwan visited India in 2004 and a “long-term cooperative partnership” was established. This served as the bedrock for bilateral relations. This relationship was elevated to the level of strategic partnership when President Lee Myung-bak paid a historic visit to India in January 2010 as the chief guest of the Republic Day celebrations. The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) signed in 2009 was also implemented and entered into force from January 1, 2010, thereby jumpstarting the dormant economic component of the bilateral ties. The CEPA — which came into force on January 1, 2010 — was the first deal of its kind which India signed with an OECD country, and South Korea with a BRIC nation.
Subsequently, several top level visits have taken place between the two countries: Former President Pratibha Patil’s visit in July 2011, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit in March 2012, and others. Defence and Foreign Ministers from both countries have also visited, each time elevating the relationship to a higher level.
Significance of Moon’s visit
Against this background as the relationship evolved, Moon’s recent trip to India is another milestone in the bilateral ties. Firstly, the timing of the visit is significant as it coincided with the changes taking place with breathtaking rapidity in the geopolitical landscape of Northeast Asia. The architect of the changes is none other than President Moon whose peace overtures — which started with North Korea’s participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics and subsequently led to a summit meeting with Kim Jong-un on April 27, and later paved the way for the first ever summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump in Singapore on June 12. India-South Korea relations were elevated to ‘special strategic partnership’ after Modi visited South Korea in May 2015, seeking investments in many flagship programmes of the Government, including Skill India and Make in India. The South Korean Government earmarked a whopping $10 billion as “financing arrangement for infrastructure development in India”.
Moon’s dynamic leadership aside from his efforts to solve the nuclear dilemma of North Korea became demonstrably clear, or at least his intent, even during the presidential election campaign in 2017 wherein he pledged that he would elevate ties with India to the level of Korea’s relations with four major powers in and around the Korean Peninsula — China, Japan, Russia, and the US. This aside, he intended to craft India prominently in his “new Southern policy” and include the 10-member ASEAN group in its ambit. This is a significant departure from Korea’s traditional foreign policy and possibly could be, as some analysts suggested, a hedging strategy amid the US-China stand-off, coupled with the desire to forge a robust India-South Korea partnership in the interest of building peace and stability in the region. Though for India, South Korea is a valued partner, bilateral trade is below its potential. Bilateral trade in 2017 totaled $20 billion and investment has shown an upward trend. Both sides have pledged to increase it to $50 billion by 2030. There are about 300 Korean companies which have invested about $3 billion, employing about 40,000 workers. The only aberration in the bilateral ties seems to be that the POSCO project in Odisha did not take off despite that it was the single biggest foreign direct investment project to the tune of $12 billion, owing to land acquisition problems.
This 12-million capacity steel plant was floated in 2005 and POSCO had the patience to wait for close to a decade to see the project become functional. In the process, the company invested a lot of money in the social sector, including the CSR. But despite strong governmental support to the company to make the required land available for the steel project to be set up, the efforts failed and POSCO was forced to pull out of the project in 2017, after waiting for 12 long years as public resistance continued with no sign of ending.
Though POSCO was an unhappy experience for South Korea, this did not deter it to halt investment in India in other projects, such as by firms like Kia and Samsung, in recognition of the Indian market and the buying power of the urban middle class estimated to be to the tune of 350 million plus.
Though the main driving force in the bilateral relations remains economic, the strategic dimension — including defence cooperation — is becoming equally important. The two sides are looking at defence hardware procurement and manufacture. India is looking for minesweepers for the Navy, and South Korea could be a possible source. India has also sourced artillery guns from South Korea and is looking to manufacture them in India under the Make in India programme. In this light, Moon’s India visit shall pave the way for expanding bilateral ties in multifarious dimensions, upgrading business ties to the level Korea has with China. Indeed, Moon has been pushing Korean majors to raise their investment in India.
The reason why the economic dimension in the partnership is significant can be deciphered from the address Moon made to the India-Korea Business Forum organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. It was attended by top management of the major chaebols or large family-owned mega-conglomerates from Korea, such as Samsung, Hyundai, and LG. The three companies command large chunks of the export and domestic consumer and industrial markets in Korea. This was the second such event in less than five months. In February, Modi had addressed a mega delegation of 150-odd Korean companies, wherein he had exhorted the chaebols to further expand the $2.7 billion worth of investment mainly in the automobile and engineering sectors. Consumer products of Korean companies, such as Samsung and LG, are household names and therefore important players in the Indian consumer market. In the automobile sector, Hyundai competes equally with Japanese products, such as Toyota, Honda, and Mitsubishi.
There are some trade and tariff issues that need to be sorted out. For example, India seeks zero duty on items such as sesame and motor parts. Korea is reluctant to accede to this request. South Korea imports 630 per cent duty on Indian sesame, while imports 24,000 tonnes a year from China at zero duty, and therefore, India’s request is legitimate. Korea feels that opening tariff lines to a country ensures zero custom duty to importers of the country to which it is opened. The duty is applicable for products under those tariff lines.
From the strategic perspective, the importance of South Korea in India’s Indo-Pacific strategy came out clear in Modi’s keynote address at the Shangri-La Dialogue on June 1, 2018, when he mentioned South Korea was an important component of the Act East policy.
During Modi’s visit to South Korea in 2015, the two sides sought amendment to the bilateral Air Services Agreement to enhance flight connectivity covering more cities. As Korean business in Indian cities expands, Korea would be interested in increasing direct flights from the existing six in a week. That time, an MoU was inked on cooperation in audio-visual co-production, paving the way for co-production of films, animation and broadcasting programmes.
This time during Moon’s visit, five MoUs in the field of science and technology were signed. Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan and his Korean counterpart You Young Min signed three MoUs on Programme of Cooperation 2018-21, Establishment of Future Strategy Group and Cooperation in Bio-technology and Bio-economy. Two other MoUs were signed between the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and South Korean National Research Council for Science and Technology and IIT Mumbai and Korea Institute of Science and Technology, to further accelerate future-oriented cooperation.
During his visit, Moon inaugurated a Samsung manufacturing unit, the largest in the world, in Noida in which the company has invested $760 million, demonstrating the trust and business confidence in Indian market despite the unhappy experience of POSCO. This is going to be the world’s largest mobile phone manufacturing facility, touting Modi’s pet Make in India to propel India to become the world’s second-largest manufacturer of mobile phones as the number of factories soared to 120 from just two, four years ago.
Apart from creating four lakh direct jobs, 30 per cent of the phones manufactured at the factory — built at a cost of Rs 5,000 crore — will be exported to the Middle East and Africa. India was already the R&D hub for Samsung, now it will be a manufacturing base too.
Would India be the next China for South Korea, as claimed by Korea’s Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong? It may be recalled when South Korea deployed the THAAD US missile defense system in 2017, a decision taken by Moon’s predecessor, a diplomatic row broke out between South Korea and China as the latter felt that THAAD breached into China’s security. China adopted a series of economic retaliatory measures against Korean products, thereby severely affecting the Korean economy. South Korea is yet to recover from this. Moon now seeks to enhance economic and trade relations with the ASEAN and India, thus announcing his southern policy.
Moon’s strategy is laudable but not without difficulties. Many bilateral economic issues concerning trade and tariff need to be sorted out. Moreover, if Moon targets the ASEAN grouping as a single package, that would be difficult, as a strategy that fits all countries may not be possible as the characteristics of each country could be different. For example, if South Korea wants to expand the market presence of its carmakers in Indonesia — the largest car market in Southeast Asia where Japanese vehicles enjoy 98.6 per cent market share, but the Korean cars take up only about 0.1 per cent — the challenge could be huge.
On the other hand, India holds the greatest potential for South Korea and has the least risk, which is why India is a priority destination for Korean businesses. The absence of any sensitive issue, either historical or geographical, also works in India’s favour to be a preferred partner for South Korea. The Moon Government has, therefore, prioritised India to deepen and strengthen multidimensional relations.
With its population expected to reach 1.5 billion in 2030, India has the potential to emerge as the world’s single largest market. In view of this, any nation doing business with another country may find it irresistible to overlook India to be a partner in pursuit of economic prosperity. Moon is aware that India is eyeing the tag of the world’s third largest economy by 2030, after overtaking France as the sixth largest economy and coming close to the UK, which is at the fifth place. Indian economy is at the take-off stage and is expected to be the world’s third largest by 2030 with the GDP worth $10 trillion. This means India is aiming to overtake the UK, Japan, and Germany by 2030, to be behind only the US and China. As far as doing business is concerned, India presents tempting prospects for any country, and South Korea is well aware of this.
Dr Panda, former Senior Fellow at the IDSA, was until recently ICCR Chair Professor at Reitaku University, Japan. email@example.com
Writer: Rajaram Panda
Courtesy: The Pioneer
By allowing overseas Indian Citizens to appear for UPSC exams, government could broaden the pool for recruitment
A recent government decision has the potential to blur the difference between public and private recruitment. All public recruitment agencies UPSC, Staff Selection Commission (SSC), Railway Recruitment Board (RRB), RBI, armed forces, paramilitary, public sector banks, public sector enterprises] will use the Ministry of Labor and Employment’s NCS (National Career Service) portal to disclose scores/rankings of candidates in the final stages of recruitment processes. Courtesy NIC, there will thus be an integrated information system for public recruitment agencies. This will have all the details about a candidate.
As a candidate, when I fill out an application form, I have the option of opting out of the disclosure scheme. If not, my data are there on the portal for other private and public sector agencies to use. As an applicant, I may have got through to final stages, but may not have been able to clear the last hurdle for whatever post I applied for. In that event, my data can be used by other recruiters. Take the railways. Not long ago, there was an announcement about a little more than 18,000 non-technical posts and more than nine million applied and were tested. (Sure, all 9 million don’t qualify for final stages, but that’s not relevant.) Subsequently, railways advertised for 2,54,587 non-technical posts. Within the public segment, there is a wealth of application and testing information and the private sector routinely complains about the lack of people with requisite skills. If an initiative matches excess demand in one with excess supply in the other, it can only improve the efficiency of the inter-mediating function.
Who is entitled to sit for the UPSC examination? I don’t mean academic eligibility, age, or number of attempts, but nationality. For the Indian Administrative Service (IAS ), Indian Police Service(IPS) or Indian Foreign Service (IFS), the candidate must be an Indian citizen. For other services, the candidate can be a citizen of Nepal, Bhutan, a Tibetan refugee (who migrated before January 1, 1962), or a person of Indian origin who has migrated from Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, East African countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Ethiopia) or Vietnam with “the intention of permanently settling in India”.For non-Indians, the Government of India has to issue an eligibility certificate. This doesn’t necessarily have to be produced at the time of taking an examination, but must be produced before the appointment letter is issued. For public office and public appointments, all countries, India included, have a requirement that the person must be a citizen. There are several different ways to become an Indian citizen before the commencement of the Constitution, by birth, by descent, by registration (Section 5 of the Citizenship Act), by naturalization. “Intention of permanently settling in India” and the consequent “eligibility certificate” sound vague and discretionary and are often reflective of historical legacies. Public office and public appointments should have the requirement of being an Indian citizen, not only for IAS, IPS or IFS, but all services. When? At the time of taking the examination or time of is- suing the appointment letter? Since the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in 2006 (and preceding amendment to Citizenship Act in 2005), there is a category known as overseas Citizen of India (OCI). The former PIO (person of Indian origin) system has gone.
OCIs have several privileges multiple entry, multi-purpose life long visas, exemption from foreigner registration requirements, parity with NRIs (except in the purchase of agricultural land and plantations). Progressively, there has been more liberalization parity in inter country adoption, domestic air fares, entry fees for wildlife sanctuaries (2007), employment, parity in entry fees to national monuments and museums (2009), easier proof of residence (2012). However, OCI doesn’t mean dual citizenship, at least not from an Indian perspective (the UK has a different view).
Therefore, there are three rights OCIs don’t possess today the right to vote, right to public office and right to public appointments. But given the distinction between taking an examination and the issue of an appointment letter, why shouldn’t OCIs be allowed to take UPSC exams? Logically, it is an appealing idea. If a person is selected, an appointment letter will be issued only after the existing citizenship has been renounced in favor of Indian citizenship. This is the kind of announcement that can be made at the Pravasi Bharati ya Divas in 2018.
Note that security clearances are necessary before any public appointment is made. So security concerns are non sequitur. If PoK or CoPoK (China occupied Pakistan occupied Kashmir) residents wish to take the UPSC examination, so be it. In the process, they will learn something about India. More seriously, Pakistan is outside the ambit of OCI. on occasion, there has been lateral entry into public service at senior levels by people who were PIOs, not NRIs. They renounced their existing citizenship and became Indian citizens. But these were isolated instances, on adhoc basis.
Lateral entry increases competition and the broader the catchment area, the better. It is unlikely that a large number of OCIs will wish to take UPSC exams. Given the nature of the exam, it is unlikely that many will qualify, even if they wish to. Even then, from the competition point of view, why not broaden the base? From the appointment point of view, becoming an Indian citizen and imbibing things Indian are easier at an age of 25 than they are at an age of 55. We have done it on adhoc basis at age 55. Let’s do it more systematically at an age of 25.
– Bibek Debroy (The writer is member, Niti Aayog. Views expressed are personal)
The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO International), in collaboration with GOPIO Chapters of Metro DC and Virginia, held a very successful launch of its GOPIO GADAR Centennial Commemoration in the USA on Saturday, November 3, 2012 starting at 2:00 pm at the Embassy of India in Washington, DC.
Hon. Nirupama Rao, India’s Ambassador to the USA, was the Chief Guest. Three (3) other Indian Diaspora ambassadors to the United States also participated in the launch program: Hon. Ambassador Bayney Karran of Guyana; Hon. Ambassador Dr Neil Parsan of Trinidad & Tobago; and Hon. Ambassador Subash Mungra of Suriname.
The GOPIO GADAR Centennial Commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Gadar Movement which began in 1913, is planned as a series of commemoration events throughout 2013 in collaboration with several NRI/PIO organizations, government and international agencies, individuals and institutions. It is a fitting tribute to patriots and heroes of the Gadar Movement and deserving of their sacrifices to free India.
The history of the Gadar movement is a testimony of the deep love that the Indian immigrants had for their mother- land, India. The Gadarites wanted India freed from the British and did not hesitate to make any sacrifices for the cause of freedom, dignity and prosperity of their motherland. Over 8,000 went back to India to fight for their cause; several Gadarites were imprisoned, many for life, and some were hanged to death. They are our heroes, deserving highest of admiration and deepest respect. The determination, courage and sacrifices of the Gadarites inspired many freedom fighters to continue their mission for India’s independence. The Gadar Movement is an integral part of the rich heritage in the United States for the Indian Americans and of Indian history. The Gadarites left an extraordinary legacy for the future generations and a global centennial commemoration is a fitting and well deserved tribute.
The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) on 15th October, 2012 announced details of the annual con- vention for overseas Indians, Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD 2013) program which includes GADAR Centennial events at PBD2013 based on GOPIO’s initiatives to the Prime Minister’s Office and MOIA. These events include: An Oration at the plenary session, a Gadar Exhibit and Hon. Prime Minister’s speech on 8th January to make favor- able mention of Gadar.
MOIA Press Release on 15th October, 2012 stated that, “Since we are celebrating the centenary of the Gadar Movement in 2013, the PBD Oration this time will be on the Gadar Movement. We will also have an exhibition on the Gadar Movement”.
As GOPIO has done for the Kolkata Memorial unveiled on January 11, 2011 in recognition and remembrance of Indian indentured laborers who left India from 1834-1920, the Centennial Commemoration of Gadar Movement is another GOPIO initiative in our continuing efforts to preserve and promote Indian history, heritage and culture.
The launch event on November 3, 2012 included a lecture/discussion on “The Role of Gadar Movement for India’s Independence” by prominent Gadar researchers and historians, a release of the GOPIO publication on “Global Indian Diaspora”, distribution of a GOPIO Gadar Centennial Commemoration Press VIP information kit and GOPIO Gadar Centennial lapel pin as well as showing of the GOPIO Gadar Centennial Commemoration documentary.
The launch program included a welcome by Dr Renuka Mishra (GOPIO National Coordinator USA) followed by remarks by Dr. Zafar Iqbal (President, GOPIO Metro DC) and Mr Jay Bhandari (President, GOPIO Virginia). GOPIO chairman Inder Singh delivered a compelling presentation on Role of Gadar Movement for India’s Independence; prominent Indian community advocate Dr Rajen Anand spoke on The Importance of the Gadar Movement; and Kewal Kanda of California dis- cussed The Gadar Memorial Hall.
Hon. Ambassador Nirupama Rao spoke glowingly about the launch and positively supportive of GOPIO’s initia- tive and GOPIO Gadar Centennial Commemoration, highlighting GOPIO’s initiatives on matters of interest and concern in the Indian Diaspora. She said that “it is a privilege to cooperate with GOPIO in this auspicious venture.” Ambassador Bayney Karran, Ambassador Dr Neil Parsan and Ambassador Subash Mungra reiterated the long and lasting bonds of heritage and history between their respective countries and India, with lots of inspiration and encouragement derived from the Gadar Movement for the struggle for independence in their respective countries. Their attendance and particpation certainly enhanced the program and made it more global in outreach and appeal.
Remarked program coordinator Dr. Piyush Agrawal, “We are grateful for the overwhelming support of Hon. Ambassador Nirupama Rao as well as the close collaboration of Hon Dr. Virender K Paul, Minister of Press, Information and Culture at the Indian Embassy, to make this a highly successful program. In addition, I want to thank our organizing team for their individual and collective effort, commitment, enthusiasm and determination. We are also grateful for chapter members, friends, associates and community members who attended in large numbers. We look forward to a very successful the GOPIO Gadar Centennial Commemoration in the USA and Canada, as well as worldwide”.
GOPIO COFFEE TABLE BOOK ON GLOBAL INDIAN DIASPORA RELEASED
A Coffee Table Book “Global Indian Diaspora” was released by Hon. Ambassador Nirupama Rao and also presented to Ambassadors Karran, Parsan and Mungra. That was followed by discussion of GOPIO Gadar Centennial Commemoration worldwide and in particular the USA by respectively Mr. Ashook Ramsaran (President of GOPIO International) and Dr Piyush Agrawal (Senior Vice President of GOPIO International). Dr Renuka Mishra concluded the program with thanks and appreciation to all who contributed to its huge success. Then followed the showing of the GOPIO’s Gadar Centennial Commemoration documentary and refreshments catered by Woodlands.
MOIA AND KERALA GOVT. GETTING READY TO HOST PRAVASI BHARATIYA DIVAS
The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) and the Kerala Govt. is getting ready to host the 11th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) from January 7- 9, 2013 in Kochi, Kerala, India. It will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on January 8. The President of India will deliver the valedictory address on January 9 and also confer the Pravasi Bhartiya Samman Awards. The preconference seminars will also be organized on January 7 fol- lowed by plenary and panels sessions beginning on January 8. Mauritius President Rajkeswur Purryag will be the chief guest.
PBD has become a significant forum to connect the overseas Indians from all over the world and the PBD-2013 will be focusing on more connectivity with overseas Indians. Kerala will be the Partner State of the 11th PBD, which would provide the Diaspora an opportunity to understand the vibrant culture and potential of the State. More than 2000 delegates are expected to participate in PBD-2013 from all over the world.
GOPIO PREPARES FOR ANNUAL CONVENTION 2013
GOPIO International plans to hold its annual executive and general council meetings, followed by its conference starting on January 5 afternoon and concluding on January 6 immediately preceding, and in conjunction with Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2013 events of January 7-9, 2013 in Kochi, Kerala, India.
GOPIO-KOCHI GEARS UP FOR GOPIO CONVENTION
GOPIO-Kochi met on December 12 at the Presidency Hotel on the GOPIO- 2013 Convention coordination. The meeting was chaired by Chapter Mr.P.C. Cyriac who was former Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu and was attended by GOPIO 2013 Convention Chairman and GOPIO Executive VP Sunny Kulathakal, GOPIO Convention 2013 Convener T.P. Ibrahim Khan and other officers including Secretary Jose Thomas and Vice president Kurian Abraham. A special guest was former Tourism Minister and Chief Secretary of Karnataka Mr.J. Alexander. Others present at the meeting were Advocate C.V. Prakash, Jose Puthukadan ans other committee members.
The arrangements for GOPIO Kochi Convention 2013 were discussed at the meeting. GOPIO Convention Chairman Sunny Kulathakal and Convention Convener Ibrahim Khan briefed the progress of the arrangements to receive nearly 400 delegates from 60 countries for the Kochi Convention 2013.
– OE News Bureau
Kapil Dudakia was born in a fantastic part of the world – Mombasa, Kenya. During 1968 difficulties arose in East Africa that led to many Asians having to flee the country. His parents being British Citizens came to the UK in the exodus that followed and the children (three brothers and one sister) came with them to face the challenges of this new country. In fact as it turns out, on the front page of the ‘National Daily’ a leading newspaper of the time in Kenya there was a photo- graph of a family with bewildered young children with the story line – ‘what will be the future of these children?’ The photograph was of none other than Kapil and his family and in this article you will see what happened to this young man.
Kapil attended primary and secondary education in Bolton, Lancashire and thereafter went to Cardiff University (part of the Russell Group of premier universities in the UK) to study BSc Hons in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. Having secured his first degree he went on to complete a PGCE and later became a school teacher. His teaching career was exceptionally successful and at the young age of only 31 years, he was appointed as a schools inspector. In 1993 he became an OFSTED inspector (renowned elite group of inspectors in the UK appointed by HM the Queen) for both primary and secondary education.
Kapil is a man who likes challenges and soon inspection and being an inspector had become monotonous. It was at this time he made a remarkable decision – to retire from that profession and embark on a new challenge. He elected to become a consultant advising businesses both in the UK as well as in India on JV’s, market penetration, strategic development and so on.
In the UK Kapil is much better known for his social service both within the Hindu (Indian) community as well as within society generally. In the past his list of achievements include: Vice President and Trustee of Milton Keynes Hindu Association, Independent Member on the Milton Keynes Standards Board, founding member and Chair of the Milton Keynes Council of Faiths, member of the Local Strategic Partnership, member of the Thames Valley Police Independent Advisory Group and member of the Equality Council. With such expertise his time was in great demand by a host of government and voluntary organisations.
He became a trustee to the Fremantle Trust (care provider with t/o of £35m). He was also one of the founding members (and their first Head of Public and Media Relations) of the Hindu Forum of Britain (a national organisation representing in excess of 400 Hindu organisations in the UK). Kapil has, by his very experience, become an adviser to many national and regional organisations in the UK. In fact recently when the RSPCA killed a cow on the grounds of a Temple (ISKCON Temple in Watford Bhakti Vedanta Manor) he led a task force to get justice from both the RSPCA (who made a public apology) and also specific guidance from the British Government on Animal Welfare Law.
As you can see, Kapil and his family might have been outside of India for generations, yet it is clear that his heart is that of an Indian. They say you can take a Gujarati out of Gujarat, but never Gujarat out of a Gujarati. People like Kapil lead the way on the international arena. Their work and dedication not only promotes the country of their residence, but it also gives great value to the country of their origin, their faith and their cultural heritage.
Kapil likes to work in the back- ground, but obviously with such a high profile that is not always possible. His wealth of experience of people, society, politics and governance meant that he is well placed to make comment and observations on most things in life. No doubt it must have been this talent that was spotted by C B Patel (owner of the leading ethnic newspaper in the UK – Asian Voice) who gave him his own column. Typical of a Gujarati his column is called, ‘Kapil’s Khichadi’ and over the past several years it has tackled, head on, some of the most controversial issues arising out of society and politics. He has a canny sixth sense and if politicians had been wise to this, they would have already adopted him as their personal adviser.
I caught up with Kapil in his recent visit to India and asked him a few questions:
OE: What brings you to India this time Kapil?
KD: I am involved with a major project to launch and promote an Indian made ‘Tablet’ (from Pantel products) with partners such as BSNL, Orange Telecom, Mauritius Telecom, Kanha Tech and Sahara Next. The consortia plans to enter the African sub-continent utilising the ‘Penta Tablet’ as a vehicle to promote value added services directly to the consumers.
OE: What type of services will this platform be offering?
KD: We are concentrating on eHealth, eEducation and eGovernance. Already some major companies with leading edge products are lining up to become partners in this massive initiative. We can work with private companies, with telecom operators and of course with local and national Governments. On my initiative, world renowned Oxford University has consented in principle to disseminate skill development courses in Asia and Africa riding on vast telecom net- works by leveraging cheap Penta tablets hence reaching out the entire population at large.
OE: They tell me that when companies come to you needing to secure orders or break into certain markets – that you have the ability to assist them with great success, can you tell me a bit more about this side of your work?
KD: Confidentiality means that I cannot of course share any specifics. However when a client approaches me with a proposition I am able to ascertain if I (and our network of partners around the world) are able to assist or not. If the answer is affirmative that means we would be able to advise and structure their proposition such that what might have taken them years to achieve can be shortened to months.
OE: How do you see developments in India?
KD: A rather tricky question. However, India with all its faults and built in difficulties still has the capacity to rise to the challenge of becoming one of the key world power houses in the coming decade. In my view states such as Gujarat have shown a way forward and if this can be replicated at the national level, can you imagine the difference it could potentially make to the lives of millions of Indians? The fate of India rests with good education, good governance, good health care and excellent infra- structure – on all of these it still has much to do.
OE: What are your plans for 2013?
KD: We have established various partnerships with leading edge technology companies and will shortly be launching an ePlatform that will take VAS offers to the masses at an afford- able price. In 2013 we aim to attract high quality service providers to come onto our ePlatform, take this not just to India, but via Mauritius to some 21 countries in Africa and even beyond. It’s going to be challenging, interesting but with great scope to work with so many wonderful people around the world.
– Kapil Dudakia
GOPIO has inducted several political leaders, academics and intellectuals from around the world in its Honor Roll for their exemplary service to India and/or for their support of NRI/PIO causes. They include former President late K.R. Narayanan, former Prime Minsiter Inder K. Gujral, the late Dr. L.M. Singhvi, former Fiji Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry, former Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minsiter Basdeo Panday, Lord Bhikhu Parekh, Lord Navnit Dholakia. This year, GOPIO is pleased to induct India's top bureaucrat Mr. T.K.A. Nair.
Serving as Principal Secretary, Prime Minister's Office (PMO), Mr. Nair has the distinction of serving three Prime Ministers, Mr. I.K. Gujral, Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee and currently Dr. Manmohan singh. Before joining as Principal Secretary at the PMO, Mr. Nair served as Chairman of Public Enterprise Selection Board. An Indian Administrative Service officer who retired in 1997, Nair was Secretary to the then prime minister I K Gujral. Later he served as Secretary to Prime Minister Vajpayee. Mr. Nair has been providing support for many new initiatives from the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs from the PMO. He has been interacting with GOPIO officials as well as other NRI/PIO groups on a regular basis.
GOPIO COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARDS 2011
RECOGNITION FOR SERVICES TO THE DIASPORA
Mr. Gambhir Watts (Australia)
Gambhir Watts is Executive Chairman since July 2003 for Australia Chapters of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan; Commissioner, Community Relations Commission for a Multicultural NSW and Chairman of Northern Regional Advisory Council 2006-2009; Founder patron of Priyadarshni Academy Bombay India honouring high achievers in various social, cultural and art related fields all over the world; a Director of Advocacy for Inclusion Australia (an NGO for Disability). Since its launch on 30 August 2003 Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Australia has undertaken a large number of activi- ties related to Indian culture and promoting multiculturalism in Australia; publish the prestigious monthly magazine Bhavan Australia since 2004 and Bhavan’s Weekly eNews since August 2008 and have established alliances with a host of NGOs and Community Organisations.
Prof. M.C. Madhavan (USA)
Professor M.C. Madhavan's contribution to civic society or- ganizations is significant. He may perhaps be remembered for a long time for founding the San Diego Indian American Society to establish Mahatma Gandhi Scholarship and Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Lecture program with the support of his friends in 1984. Over 400 outstanding students have received this award and a very distinguished people in the world, including Dr. Jonas Salk, Pundit Ravi Shankar, Indian Ambassadors to the United States, United States Congressmen and Women, leading industrialist and Ganhiji's grandsons Raj Mohan Gandhi and Arun Gandhi, have delivered the Mahatma Gandhi memorial lecture.
The society has also funded over 20 projects in India benefiting the states of Bihar, Maharashtra, Orissa, Tamil Nadu and various organizations in the San Diego.
Prof. Prabhat Jha, MD, D.Phil. (Canada)
Professor Prabhat Jha is a world-renowned scientist and au- thor who has worked tirelessly to improve the health and quality of life of resident Indians. He recognized that since almost all deaths in India did not have medical documentation or assigned causes of deaths, governments and individuals did not have the necessary information to plan effective healthcare initiatives in the country or for individuals to know their own risk of premature disease. He understood that millions of Indians would continue to die needlessly unless there was a revolu- tion in the way health information was col- lected. Thus, in collaboration with the
Registrar General of India, Professor Jha started the Million Death Study in 2001. Partly funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this ongoing study will quantify the causes of deaths in over 1 million homes in India from 1997-2014. Results from the study have already demonstrated that India has over 1 million deaths each year from smoking (10% of all deaths; New England Journal of Medicine, 2008), and few- er deaths from HIV than expected (British Med Journal, 2009), but many more malaria deaths than expected (about 0.2 million; Lancet 2010).