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Karunanidhi: The leader who remained steadfast to his principles and views

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MK

Karunanidhi, a towering political leader from the last generation with a political career spanning 75 years started as a teenager prior to Independence with Periyar’s social justice movement and continued as a mascot for Annadurai, a lieutenant of Periyar who opted for electoral politics. He was himself CM for 19 years over 5 terms and the party president of DMK for 50 years.

Professionally a dialogue writer for Tamil films he gained more prominence than the actors who delivered his dialogues. All his life he remained steadfast in his views expressed through his dialogues and prolific writing.

He was a secular opposing religion in civic affairs and rabid in his anti-Brahmanism. An advocate of social equality, he was a pioneer of affirmative action for social upliftment of the Dalits who had hitherto been excluded from political power. Avoiding populist measures as CM, he focused on developing schools and healthcare facilities to bring the underprivileged into the mainstream.

He never aspired for national politics and remained a Tamilian leader throughout his career. He was a great admirer of the Tamil language and culture and was instrumental in the development of federal polity in India as opposed to the Unitarian political culture of the Congress. At times his advocacy of Tamil rights bordered on Tamil separatism.

The only blot in his political career was his corruption because of which his one time deputy, MGR parted company to form the AIADMK. He was also criticised for his dynastic politics of later years when he tried to give charge to his daughter in the Centre, southern districts to his elder son based in Madurai while selecting his younger son Stalin as his successor. But then, a father has the responsibility to settle his children.

India was consciously divided into linguistic lines with each state having its own literature, culture, dress, food, festivals etc. The Union has by and large promoted uniformity by suppressing diversity. The federal ethos celebrates diversity and, in India especially, in my view, we have had an attempt of an excessive uniformity imposed that has been detrimental to our rich regional cultural heritages.

In that sense MK was a man advocating pride in Tamil culture. More than the relative merits of centre-state choice is the existence of the dialectic of pulls and pressures from both sides to attain a dynamic balance that keeps pace with the changing times. His anti North and anti Hindi agitations, widely criticised, must be seen in the context of promoting regional pride.

Of course, MK is very unpopular among Tamil Brahmins. But then the local Brahmins had a disproportionate hold on social and cultural power in TN for centuries. Breaking their hegemony was necessary for a social change towards greater egalitarianism. With them being pushed back, the knowledge and skills that they were custodians of, also suffered.

But then I am speaking in the capacity of a neutral bystander. Interested parties would rejoice or suffer the pangs of socio political change a lot more acutely.

His legacy is important to understand the implications of equality, secularism, federation and social change – issues that are in focus in our political discourse right now.

If only the conversation can move beyond his obvious corruption.

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Bulandshahr violence: Court sent acccused armymen on 14 day judicial custody

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Lucknow | A local court on Sunday sent the accused army men in Bulandshar violence Jitendra Malik alias Jitu Fauji to a 14-day judicial custody.

Jitendra Malik allegedly involved in the killing of a police inspector during mob violence in Bulandshahr was arrested on Saturday night. “The Army handed over Jitendra Malik to UP STF team in Meerut yesterday late night,” IG STF Amitabh Yash told PTI here today.

On Monday, a mob of some 400 people rampaged through a village in Bulandshahr district apparently after cow carcasses were found in a jungle nearby. During the violence, Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh and a 20-year-old man died of gunshot wounds. Nine people have been arrested in connection with the violence. Earlier Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat said Saturday that full cooperation will be extended in the investigation of the incident

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Pakistan issues visas to 139 Indian pilgrims to visit Katas Raj dham

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Katas Raj dham

New Delhi | The Pakistan High Commission on Sunday said it has issued visas to 139 Indian pilgrims to visit Katas Raj Dham, the famous Shiva temple, in the country’s Punjab province.

Under the framework of a bilateral protocol on visits to religious shrines, Sikh and Hindu pilgrims from India visit Pakistan every year. Pakistani pilgrims also visit India every year under the protocol. “Another group of Indian pilgrims, comprising 139 people, have been issued visas by the Pakistan High Commission to visit Shree Katas Raj Dham in Chakwal district from December 9-15,” the Pakistan High Commission said.

Last month, Pakistan had granted visas to more than 3,800 Sikh pilgrims to visit the country. Some of the pilgrims had attended the ground-breaking ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor on November 28 in Narowal. The corridor will link the Darbar Sahib shrine in Kartarpur in Pakistan’s Punjab province to Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district in India.

Earlier this month, over 220 Indian pilgrims were granted visas to visit the famous Hindu temple, Shadani Darbar, in Sukkur.  Katas Raj is one of the holiest places for the Hindu community in Pakistan. The temples form a complex surrounding a pond named Katas — which is regarded as sacred by the devotees.

Pakistan’s High Commissioner Sohail Mahmood stated that the issuance of visas for yet another group of pilgrims from India was consistent with Government’s of Pakistan’s policy of promoting visits to religious shrines and was a reflection of its commitment to faithfully implement the 1974 Protocol, the High Commission said in a release. He said that Pakistan remained committed to providing all possible facilitation for the visiting pilgrims and strengthening people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.

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Large number of Muslim women likely to go to Haj without ‘Mehram’ in 2019: Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi

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New Delhi | A large number of Muslim women are likely to go to Haj without ‘Mehram’ (male companion) next year, Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said on Sunday.

Naqvi, while chairing a meeting here with representatives of organisations associated with Haj, said that Haj Committee of India has received more than 2,23,000 applications for Haj 2019 till now. The over 2,23,000 applications include about 47 percent women, he was quoted as saying by a statement released from his office.

Haj application process had started on November 7, 2018, and the last date for it is December 12. Naqvi said that more than 2,000 women have applied to go for Haj in 2019 without ‘Mehram’ with the number likely to go up.

Naqvi said that in 2018, for the first time, the Centre had lifted the ban on women going to Haj without Mehram, which resulted into about 1,300 women going for the pilgrimage without any male companion. They had been exempted from the lottery system and more than 100 women Haj coordinators and Haj assistants had been deployed to assist the Indian women Haj pilgrims, Naqvi said.

For the first time after Independence, a record number of Muslims — 1,75,025 — from India performed Haj in 2018 and that too without any subsidy, he said. Naqvi said that making the Haj process completely digital has helped in making the entire process transparent. For Haj 2019, about 1,36,000 online applications have been received and the online portal for Private Tour Operators (PTOs) is already operational, Naqvi said.

While on one hand, the portal has ensured transparency in the functioning of PTOs, on the other hand it is very beneficial for the pilgrims as they get all the necessary information, he said, adding that the new policy for the PTOs is also likely to be chalked out this year. Naqvi said that the central government, in coordination with Indian Consulate in Jeddah and various concerned agencies in Saudi Arabia, is working to ensure safety and better facilities for the pilgrims.

The bilateral Haj agreement between India and Saudi Arabia is likely to be signed soon, he said.

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