Category Archives: Pakistan

The Face of the Devil: Shayṭān Umar Mansoor


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Myself  .By T.V. Antony Raj

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In Islam, the Devil is known as Iblīs (Arabic: إبليس‎, plural: ابالسة abālisah) or Shayṭān (Arabic: شيطان‎, plural: شياطين shayāṭīn).

On December 16, 2014, seven abālisah (ابالسة) belonging to the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) attacked the Army Public School in the Pakistani city of Peshawar. These ignominious shayāṭīn (شياطين+) entered the army school and mercilessly opened fire on the staff and children. About 1,099 pupils and teaching staff were present on the school premises at that time. They killed 145 people, including 132 schoolchildren, aged between eight and eighteen years, 10 school staff members and three soldiers. Reports say most of the children were shot in the head.

The Special Services Group (SSG) special forces of the Pakistan Army launched a rescue operation. The SSG rescued 960 people and killed all seven terrorists.

According to the Chief Military spokesman Major General Asim Bajwa at least 130 people had been injured in the attack in addition to the killed innocents.

This was the deadliest terrorist massacre ever to occur in Pakistan. It surpassed the 2007 Karachi bombing.

Two days later TTP confirmed the main Shayṭān behind the Peshawar attack is Umar Mansoor aka nary (meaning slim in Pashto). This devil is a close aide of Mullah Fazlullah, the fanatic who had sent gunmen to kill the teenager Malala Yousafzai.

Shayṭān Umar Mansoor aka nary (meaning slim in Pashto), a close aid of Mullah Fazlullah, the same fanatic who had sent gunmen to kill Malala Yousafzai (Source: indiaopines.com)
Shayṭān Umar Mansoor aka nary (meaning slim in Pashto), a close aid of Mullah Fazlullah, the same fanatic who had sent gunmen to kill Malala Yousafzai (Source: indiaopines.com)

A video released on December 16, 2014 by the Taliban shows Shayṭān Umar Mansoor, ascribed as a leader (amir) of Peshawar shouting:

“If our women and children die as martyrs, your children will not escape. We will fight against you in such a style that you attack us and we will take revenge on innocents.”

In the meantime, former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in an exclusive interview conducted by CNN – IBN hollered blatantly like a fool:

“Do you know who is Maulana Fazlullah? He is the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan commander. He is in Afghanistan. And I am reasonably sure that he was supported by former Karzai government and RAW to carry out terror attacks in Pakistan.”

Pervez Musharraf, the former commander-in-chief of Pakistan army, the man who foolishly blamed India as responsible for this inglorious act, is also condemned by the Taliban. According to the statement of Shayṭān Umar Mansoor, the brutal attack was in retaliation to all the military operations carried out by the Pakistani Army.

Let us hope that Pervez Musharraf will think twice before uttering such nonsense in the future.

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Indian Students Stand Against Terrorism


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Myself  .By T.V. Antony Raj

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“The Light of Faith tour” – Vatican’s St. Peter’s Cricket Club in England


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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The Vatican cricket team poses with the dome of St. Peter's basilica in the background. The newly-formed team will play against the Church of England first XI and the Royal household team. (Photo: Chris Warde-Jones)
The Vatican cricket team poses with the dome of St. Peter’s basilica in the background. The newly-formed team will play against the Church of England first XI and the Royal household team. (Photo: Chris Warde-Jones)

Father Tony Currer (41) leads Vatican’s first-ever cricket team. According to a released team list, seven Indians dominate the team and Father Curer is its only Englishman. Also, in the team are two Sri Lankans and one Pakistani. All members of Vatican’s Saint Peter’s Cricket Club are young seminarians training for the priesthood, many of them aged between 24 and 41.

Preparations for the cricket club began around a year ago due to the enthusiasm of Australia’s ambassador to the Holy See, John McCarthy, who said the initiative was an example of “sporting diplomacy”.

Pope Francis with the members of Vatican's Saint Peter's Cricket Club (Photo: St. Peter's Cricket Club - Vatican Facebook page)
Pope Francis with the members of Vatican’s Saint Peter’s Cricket Club (Photo: St. Peter’s Cricket Club – Vatican Facebook page)

Pope Francis, born in Argentina is an avid football fan, but knows little about cricket. He blessed the Vatican’s “underdog” cricket team that will be facing a formidable Church of England XI during their maiden foreign tour to England dubbed “The Light of Faith tour“. The Holy Father signed a cricket bat, which the team will take with them to England.

Members of the St Peter's cricket team, from left, Deepak Anto, captain Anthony Currer, Ajeesh George, Davidson Jestus, and Pratheesh Thomas (PA)
Members of the St Peter’s cricket team, from left, Deepak Anto, captain Anthony Currer, Ajeesh George, Davidson Jestus, and Pratheesh Thomas (PA)

The papal XI will play matches against chaplains of the British armed forces at Aldershot and the Royal Household Cricket Club at Windsor Castle, as well as two other games. The climax of the tour will be a showdown with a Church of England team in Canterbury on September 19, 2014.

The manager of Papal XI Father Eamonn O’Higgins, and “spiritual director” of the team, said:

“Realistically, we are the rank underdogs with a very outside chance, but that’s OK. None of us has played first class cricket. The boys have not had a lot of time to practice. What we hope for, above all, is a good match.”

The Vatican cricketers will be praying and playing during the eight-day tour of England organized by the Anglican weekly newspaper The Church Times and Kent County Cricket Club. They will be visiting several holy sites and raising money for the Global Freedom Network, which fights against modern slavery and human trafficking.

Father Jery Njaliath (36), a priest from Kerala said:

“We’re going over there to beat them, to play to the maximum. But we’ll certainly play in the spirit of the game.”

Father Tony Currer, the captain of Saint Peter’s Cricket Club said:

“Win or lose, the first cricket match in history between the Vatican and the Church of England will be an event  to remember and to build on.”

St. Peter's team in London before moving on to Aldershot (Photo: St. Peter's Cricket Club - Vatican Facebook page
St. Peter’s team in London before moving on to Aldershot (Photo: St. Peter’s Cricket Club – Vatican Facebook page

On September 13, 2014, St. Peter’s XI (Vatican) won the first match of The Light of Faith Tour against the Chaplains of the armed forces played at Aldershot Army Cricket Ground. St. Peter’s XI (Vatican) won the match by 81 runs.

Scoreboard:
St. Peter’s XI (Vatican) 152/2 (20 overs)
Chaplains XI 71/4 (20 overs).

St. Peter's XI in Brighton (Photo: St. Peter's Cricket Club - Vatican Facebook page)
St. Peter’s XI in Brighton (Photo: St. Peter’s Cricket Club – Vatican Facebook page)

On September 14, 2014, in the 2nd match played between St. Peter’s XI (Vatican) Vs. St. Peter’s CC (Brighton), the Vatican team won the toss and chose to bowl first. St. Peter’s Vatican lost the T20 game to St. Peter’s Brighton.

Scoreboard:
St. Peter’s Brighton 168/6 (20 overs)
St. Peter’s Vatican 114/9 (20 overs)

St. Peter's XI at Ascott House (Photo: St. Peter's Cricket Club - Vatican Facebook page)
St. Peter’s XI at Ascott House (Photo: St. Peter’s Cricket Club – Vatican Facebook page)

In the third match of The Light of Faith tour played yesterday, September 14, 2014, St. Peter’s XI (Vatican) faced the Authors XI at Ascott House. It was a 30 overs match. The Authors XI won the toss and chose to bowl first. St. Peter’s XI (Vatican) won the match by 4 runs.

Scoreboard:
St. Peter’s 151 (29 overs)
Authors XI 147/4 (30 overs)

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Hey Shehzad, This Is Not Cricket!


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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On Saturday, August 30, 2014, Sri Lanka trounced Pakistan by seven wickets in the final One-Day International cricket match played at Dambulla, Sri Lanka, to clinch the series 2-1.

Pakistan had slumped to 81-8 in the 26th over of the first session when, an hour-long rain interrupted the play. The umpires reduced the game to 48-overs-a-side after the rain stopped.

Sri Lanka seamer Thisara Perera claimed 4-34, and Dhammika Prasad took two wickets and the hosts bowled Pakistan out for 102.

PCB has ordered an investigation in the religious comments made by Shehzad against Dilshan.l  (Source: sports.ndtv.com)
PCB has ordered an investigation in the religious comments made by Shehzad against Dilshan.l (Source: sports.ndtv.com)

In the second session, Dilshan Tillakartane hit an unbeaten 50. Sri Lanka surpassed the Duckworth-Lewis target of 101 in the 19th over. It was apparently a one-sided game.

A video footage of the teams while they were leaving the field after Sri Lanka winning the series shows Pakistan’s Ahmed Shehzad allegedly delivering a religious comment to Dilshan Tillakartane. This has created an uproar in the cricketing circle.

The Associated Press report said that as the players headed back to the dressing room after Sri Lanka won the series, Ahmed Shehzad caught on camera told Dilshan “… if you are a non-Muslim and you turn Muslim, no matter whatever you do in your life, straight to heaven.

Dilshan’s reply was not clearly audible.

Then Shehzad continued saying, “Then, be ready for the fire,” the report added.

Dilshan Tillakartane and the Sri Lanka Cricket Board are unconcerned about the religion-focused comments Shehzad had supposedly made. Dilshan said he thought little of the exchange, and will not consider lodging a complaint. He said he does not remember what he said to Shazad. He further said that he had no issues at all because he was happy with the win. Michael de Zoysa, manager of the Sri Lanka team said, the SLCB Board will consider the matter closed.

The Pakistan Cricket Board became aware of the exchange after a journalist brought it to their notice. The footage went viral in Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

The PCB set up an inquiry under director of international cricket Zakir Khan and on Wednesday, September 3, 2014, summoned Shehzad for an explanation. The player said he came to know of Dilshan’s religious background during the match, and simply sought a lighthearted discussion. Shehzad said the video only showed part of their exchange, and that he had not wished to offend Dilshan.

Though no complaints have been, the PCB did not find a contract or code of ethics breach in Shehzad’s behaviour, he was officially reprimanded and not to engage in religious exchanges in the future.

Ahmed Shehzad (Source: sports.ndtv.com)
Ahmed Shehzad (Source: sports.ndtv.com)

Ahmed Shehzad was born on November 23, 1991 in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. He is a right-handed opening batsman and a part-time leg-break bowler.  He played domestic cricket for Habib Bank Limited. He made his One-Day International and T20 debut for Pakistan against Australia on April 24, and May 7, 2009 respectively.

An incident happened at the end of the 19th over when Shehzad got involved in a debate with Dilshan, which ended with the former pushing Dilshan’s shoulder.

The on-field umpires Johan Cloete of South Africa and Pakistan’s Shozab Raza, as well as third umpire Richard Illingworth from England and fourth umpire Ahsan Raza of Pakistan  laid the charge. The International Cricket Council (ICC) said Shehzad pleaded guilty to the offence.

Shehzad has been fined 50 percent of his match fee for pushing Sri Lankan opener Dilshan Tillakaratne during the third one-day game, the sport’s governing body said on Monday.  The ICC statement said:

The opener was found to have breached Article 2.2.4 of the ICC code of conduct for players and player support personnel, which relates to ‘inappropriate and deliberate physical contact between Players in the course of play during an international match’.

Dilshan Tillakaratnee (Source: httpgunapalaalva.blogspot.in)
Dilshan Tillakaratnee (Source: httpgunapalaalva.blogspot.in)

Dilshan Tillakaratne was born on October 14, 1976 in Kalutara, Sri Lanka, to a Ja (Malay) Muslim father and a Buddhist mother and was earlier known as Tuwan Mohamed Dilshan. His younger brother formerly carried the name Tuwan Mohamed Nishan Sampath was born on June 23, 1982 in Jaffna, Sri Lanka and is a Sri Lankan first class cricketer.

When their parents got separated, Dilshan and his younger brother changed their religion and shed their Muslim names and took up an ethnic Sinhalese-Buddhist identity by changing their names to Tillakaratne Mudiyanselage Dilshan and Tillakaratne Mudiyanselage Nishan Sampath.

Dilshan’s childhood coach Ranjan Paranavitana said that even though Dilshan carried a Muslim name, from their childhood, he and his brothers and sisters followed Buddhism, their mother’s religion.

Another Sri Lanka cricketer Hewa Kaluhalamullage Suraj Randiv was earlier known as Suraj Mohammed.

Roshan Abeysinghe, the manager of both Dilshan Tillakaratne and Suraj Randiv said the players took up their mothers’ religion and identity for personal reasons. Abeysinghe also said that Dilshan wanted a Sinhala identity.

It is rumoured in certain quarters that both players changed their religion and names because being Sinhala-Buddhist enhanced their chances of selection to the highest levels in Sri Lankan cricket. But this rumour is just bull-shit, because Dilhara Fernando, Ajantha Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dhammika Prasad and Chaminda Vaas are Catholics, and most of them make the sign of the cross before they start their bowling run. Russel Arnold is a Methodist Christian of Tamil descent, and Muthiah Muralidharan is a Tamil Hindu by birth.

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Have Will? Then, You Can Travel in the Indian Subcontinent!


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Up to now I thought overloading was the major trait of transportation peculiar to India alone. But, now, I am really confused …

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Video grab from "Indian train in all its (crowded!) glory!" uploaded on November 10, 2011 by WildFilmsIndia.
Video grab from “Indian train in all its (crowded!) glory!” uploaded on November 10, 2011 by WildFilmsIndia.

I grabbed the above image from a video titled Indian train in all its (crowded!) glory! uploaded on November 10, 2011 by WildFilmsIndia. I do not think anyone in the West would have seen a train crowded like this in their country. But in India, it is a common sight, particularly during the festival seasons.

The regular commuters are mainly laborers coming to New Delhi from neighboring states. They would work for a week and then return home over the weekend. Most of them travel without tickets, and the state-owned Indian railways, are compelled to permit this, else their entire railway system will be debacled by these laborers.

Indian Railways ... (Source: imcradiodotnet.files.wordpress.com)
Indian Railways (Source: imcradiodotnet.files.wordpress.com)

I came across the above image captioned “Indian Railway…” on IMC – India meets Classic presents… web page hosted on wordpress.com. I doubt whether this photo was taken in India. I think it was most probably, taken somewhere in Pakistan. Also, I wonder whether all these people are genuine passengers or merely clinging on to the train, posing for the photograph to prove a point.

Recently, I viewed several videos on YouTube about railways in Asia. When I saw the following video titled “End of Ramadan rush-hour in Bangladesh” uploaded by No Comment TV on August 8, 2013, I was dumbfounded.

Eid al-Fitr or the Feast of Breaking the Fast, is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting (sawm). On this day all Muslims around the world show a common goal of unity.

This video shows thousands of Bangladeshis getting crammed on ferries and climbing on trains while leaving Dhaka, Bangladesh on Wednesday, August 7, 2013, to return to their home villages and celebrate Eid al-Fitr. This video needs no further comments.

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India and Day 26 – Part 1: India’s Independence Day and Republic Day


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Myself .

 By T. V. Antony Raj

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There seems to be some sort of affinity between India and day 26.

On the occult side, Manmohan Singh, the 14th Prime Minister of India, from 2004 to 2014, was born on September 26, 1932. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi the new Indian Union Cabinet Minister for Women & Child Development in the Government of Narendra Damodardas Modi, was born on August 26, 1956.

Many incidents such as India’s Independence Day, Republic Day, major earthquakes, tsunamis, internecine communal riots,  bloody terrorist attacks have taken place on day 26.

January 26, 1930 – India’s Independence Day

India gained freedom from the British rule on August 15, 1947, but patriotic Indians had celebrated their first “Independence Day” 17 years earlier, on January 26, 1930. The choice of the day was unforeseen.

In 1928, Motilal Nehru chaired a prestigious committee that drafted a “Constitution” for an Indian Dominion that would have been a secular democratic reflection of Britain’s parliamentary system.

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Mohamed Ali Jinnah, founder of Paksitan (Source: kufarooq3blog.wordpress.com)
Mohamed Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan (Source: kufarooq3blog.wordpress.com)

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Muhammad Ali Jinnah and his All-India Muslim League insisted on more “safeguards” for Muslims as their price for endorsing the Motilal Nehru Committee’s proposal.

Jawaharlal Nehru and other young radical leaders of Congress like Subhas Chandra Bose of Bengal viewed Motilal Nehru’s recommendations as too conservative.

Mahatma Gandhi remained aloof from such matters, preferring to spin his cotton, waiting to be called upon to lead the next Satyagraha.

Motilal Nehru was unable to rally the broad spectrum of Indian political parties to his constitution’s support and it was doomed to an early demise.

Flag of British India, 1858–1947
Flag of British India, 1858–1947

Home Rule movement's Flag of India in 1917
Home Rule movement’s Flag of India in 1917

Flag of Muslim League
Flag of Muslim League

The Indian National Congress held its annual session in Lahore in December 1929. During the debates, the All India Home Rule League and the All-India Muslim League favoured for a Dominion status for India within the British Empire as enjoyed by Australia, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and Newfoundland at the time. Leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal and many others argued for a complete separation from British rule. In the end, the latter group’s view prevailed.

The Congress then promulgated the “Purna Swaraj” or “complete self-rule” declaration resolving the Congress and Indian nationalists to fight for complete independence from the British rule as opposed to a dominion status for India.

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The flag adopted in 1931 and first hoisted on October 31, 1931. It was used by the Provisional Government of Free India during the subsequent years of Second World War.
The “Swaraj”  flag officially adopted by the Congress in 1931 and first hoisted on October 31, 1931. It was used by the Provisional Government of Free India during the subsequent years of Second World War.

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.Jawaharlal Nehru was chosen as the president of the Congress. On the midnight of December 31, 1929, he raised the first “Swaraj” flag on the banks of the Ravi river in Lahore. This flag was adopted and it was first hoisted on October 31, 1931. This flag was used by the Provisional Government of Free India during the subsequent years of Second World War.

The Congress passed a resolution fixing the last Sunday of January 1930 as India’s “Independence Day”. Coincidentally, it was January 26. It resolved to hold countrywide demonstrations in support of the goal. The day was to begin with the hoisting of the flag and reciting the “pledge of independence”. Gandhi envisaged that besides the meetings, the day would be spent,

… in doing some constructive work, whether it is spinning, or service of ‘untouchables,’ or reunion of Hindus and Mussalmans, or prohibition work, or even all these together.”

An official draft by Gandhi said:

The British government in India has not only deprived the Indian people of their freedom but has based itself on the exploitation of the masses and has ruined India economically, politically, culturally and spiritually… Therefore, India must sever the British connection and attain ‘purna swaraj’ or ‘complete independence’.

The Congress called on the people to pledge themselves to civil disobedience and “to carry out the instructions issued from time to time” by the Congress, till India attained complete independence. The celebration of such an Independence Day was envisioned to stoke nationalistic fervour among Indian citizens, and to force the British government to consider granting independence.

An Autobiography” also known as “Toward Freedom” published in 1936 by The Bodley Head, is an autobiographical book written by Jawaharlal Nehru while he was in prison. It ran nine editions in the first year alone. In this book, Jawaharlal Nehru described the observances of “Independence Day” on January 26 as peaceful, solemn, and “without any speeches or exhortation”:

From then on, the Congress members and supporters celebrated January 26 as the Independence Day till 1947, regardless of whether the actual transfer of power had taken place.

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August 15, 1947 – India gains Independence 

Following the peaceful, civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance, led by the Indian National Congress for independence, the British government agreed to accord freedom to India on August 15, 1947.

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Viceroy Lord Louis Mountbatten, Jawaharlal Nehru and Mohammad Ali Jinnah prepared for the transfer of power from the British Crown. (Source: indyas.hpage.co.in)

Viceroy Lord Louis Mountbatten, Jawaharlal Nehru and Mohammad Ali Jinnah prepared for the transfer of power from the British Crown. (Source: indyas.hpage.co.in)

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Eleven days before August 15, 1947, Viceroy Lord Louis Mountbatten, Jawaharlal Nehru representing the Indian National Congress and Mohammad Ali Jinnah representing the Muslim League, which demanded a separate sovereign state for Muslims, prepared for the transfer of power from the British Crown.

During these deliberations, an abstract picture of a divided nation comprising India and Pakistan came into being as distinct from the agglomeration of princely states and provinces administered by the British Raj.

On August 14, 1947, the dominion of Pakistan which then included East Pakistan, declared independence from the British Crown.

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Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India.
Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India.

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On the eve of India’s Independence, towards midnight on August 14, 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India, in his inaugural address to the Indian Parliament heralded India’s tryst with destiny.

Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.

It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity. …

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November 26, 1949 – Adoption of the Indian Constitution

After gaining independence, India, still owing formal allegiance to the British Crown, did not have its own Constitution and so it depended entirely on the amended colonial Government of India Act, 1935.

As a first step to evolve a sovereign republic, a constituent assembly of elected members of the provincial assemblies was set up to frame a new Constitution for the Republic of India. It included Jawaharlal Nehru, C. Rajagopalachari, Dr Rajendra Prasad, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Shyama Prasad Mookherjee and Nalini Ranjan Ghosh. There were jurists like Dr B.R. Ambedkar, Alladi Krishnaswamy Iyer and K.M. Munshi.

Dr Ambedkar was asked to lead the drafting committee of the Constitution. The committee met for 166 days over two years, 11 months and 18 days.

On November 26, 1949, the final document of the Constitution that enshrined 345 Articles and eight Schedules was adopted by the Constituent Assembly, replacing the Government of India Act (1935) as the governing document of India.

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The original text of the Preamble, before the 42nd Amendment) of the Constitution.
The original text of the Preamble, before the 42nd Amendment) of the Constitution of India.

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January 26, 1950 – India’s Republic Day

The Constitution came into force on January 26, 1950, and India officially became a Sovereign Democratic Republic.

January 26 was selected as the Republic Day because the Declaration of Indian Independence (Purna Swaraj) was proclaimed by the Indian National Congress on this day in 1930.

The people of India honour this day as their Republic Day.

On January 26, 1950, the Republic Day ceremonies began in Delhi.

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On January 26, 1950, the 34th and last Governor-General of India Chakravarti Rajagopalachari read out a proclamation announcing the birth of the Republic of India. (Source: indyas.hpage.co.in)
On January 26, 1950, the 34th and last Governor-General of India Chakravarti Rajagopalachari read out a proclamation announcing the birth of the Republic of India. (Source: indyas.hpage.co.in)

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On January 26, 1950, Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, the 34th and last Governor-General of India, read out a proclamation announcing the birth of the Republic of India. The Constitution of India came into effect, declaring India as a sovereign, democratic and secular state.

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Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first President of the Republic of India.
Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first President of the Republic of India.

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Dr Rajendra Prasad took the oath of office as India’s first president, replacing the King as the head of the state, at the Durbar Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhavan (residence of the president of India). He addressed the crowd, first in Hindi and then in English. After the swearing-in ceremony, the new president of India drove through the streets in his state coach to the Irwin Stadium (now renamed as the Dhyan Chand Stadium) and hoisted the national flag.

The government declared a two-day national holiday to a jubilant nation.

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India displaying Agni 5 ICBM at Republic day parade of India at New Delhi.
India displaying Agni 5 ICBM at Republic day parade of India at New Delhi.

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Currently, the Republic Day celebrations begin in India on January 26 with a grand parade held in the capital, New Delhi, from the Raisina Hill near the Rashtrapati Bhavan, along the Rajpath, past India Gate.

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Republic Day Beating Retreat ceremony, New Delhi, India. (Source - indiascanner.com)
Republic Day Beating Retreat ceremony, New Delhi, India. (Source – indiascanner.com)

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The Republic Day festivities end officially with the Beating Retreat ceremony conducted on the evening of January 29, the third day after the Republic Day.

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Next  India and Day 26 – Part 2: Turmoil in Gujarat

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Who Needs a Grill? Build a Hot-Box Solar Oven


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He “grills out” with a homemade solar oven, which heats up to 350 degrees. This solar oven gets hot enough to bake a killer batch of scones—and in the summer, it can whip up brownies in a brownout.

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WILLIAM GURSTELLE

By William Gurstelle

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Solar Cooker

No power? No problem.

This afternoon project will let you cook off the grid with a sun-fueled oven hot enough to raise some dough.

1) Find Parts

The project makes use of scraps (or full 4 x 8 sheets) of ¾-inch and ½-inch plywood. It also requires 4d trim nails, a 6-foot length of 1½-inch-wide flat wood trim, 36 inches of ¼-inch-square molding, a half-sheet of ½-inch rigid foam insulation, a half-sheet of ½-inch drywall, two white ceramic knobs, eight 3-inch mending plates, construction adhesive, high-­temperature flat black spray paint, heavy-duty aluminum foil, No. 8 bolts, washers and nuts and a piece of ¼-inch plate glass cut to 13 x 14½ inches, with the edges sanded smooth.

2) Build the Box

Construct an open-top box using ¾-inch plywood for a 14 x 15½–inch bottom. Use ½-inch plywood to make four 7-inch-tall sides. With a vise and pliers, bend the mending plates to 135-degree angles. Fasten two plates to each box side with 1-inch No. 8 bolts, washers and nuts. Cut pieces of rigid foam insulation to line the box interior. Glue the foam to the plywood using construction adhesive. Cut and glue drywall panels to fit on top of the foam. Paint the interior black.

3) Prep the Top

Nail wood trim over the edges of the foam and drywall. Cut the molding into four 9-inch lengths. Center the glass pane over the opening. Put the moldings around the glass perimeter. Nail them down to steady the pane. Glue the knobs to the glass.

4) Make Reflectors

Cut rigid foam to four 12 x 24–inch panels. Wrap the foam in aluminum foil. Bolt the panels to the plates.

5) Bake It Up

Prep food in a black enamel­ pot with a lid; set the pot in the box. Replace the glass. Prop up the oven at an angle so the sun and reflectors shine directly on it. Use an oven thermometer to gauge the heat.

Note: This oven does not bake as quickly as a regular one, but our scones, with butter and lingonberry jam, were still delicious. Wear oven mitts to handle the ceramic knobs—they get hot!

Re-posted from Popular Mechanics

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Impact of Armed Conflict on Children


Children at both ends of the gun

Child soldiers are “more obedient, do not question orders and are easier to manipulate than adult soldiers.”

War games in the divided city of Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Photo: War games in the divided city of Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina). The psychosocial effects of armed conflict on children can be devastating and may haunt them through life, says the Machel report, particularly when children are attacked by those they have considered neighbours and friends, as happened in Rwanda and former Yugoslavia. ©

The exploitation of children in the ranks of the world’s armies must end, says a new United Nations report. “One of the most alarming trends in armed conflict is the participation of children as soldiers,” declares the report, by Graça Machel, the Secretary-General’s Expert on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children.

The report says the use of child soldiers is a problem created by adults, to be eradicated by adults. It calls for a global campaign to demobilize all child soldiers and to “eradicate the use of children under the age of 18 years in the armed forces.” The report further calls upon governments to renounce the practice of forced recruitment, which has put increasing numbers of children under arms against their will.

“Children are dropping out of childhood,” commented Devaki Jain of India, one of Ms. Machel’s Eminent Persons’ Group of advisers. “We must envision a society free of conflict where children can grow up as children, not weapons of war.”

The use of child soldiers is hardly new. “Children serve armies in supporting roles as cooks, porters, messengers and spies,” the report notes. “Increasingly, however, adults are conscripting children as soldiers deliberately.” Children under 15 years of age are known to be serving in government or opposition forces in at least 25 conflict zones and it is estimated that some 200,000 child soldiers under 16 years of age saw armed combat in 1988. Generally, however, child soldiers are statistically invisible as governments and armed opposition groups deny or downplay their role.

The 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child defines childhood as below the age of 18 years, although it currently recognizes 15 as the minimum age for voluntary or compulsory recruitment into the armed forces. However, momentum is building for an Optional Protocol to the Convention that would raise the minimum age to 18.

With new weapons that are lightweight and easy to fire, children are more easily armed, with less training than ever before. Moreover, as was stated in one background paper prepared for the Machel report, child soldiers are “more obedient, do not question orders and are easier to manipulate than adult soldiers.” And they usually don’t demand pay.

A series of 24 case-studies on child soldiers, covering conflicts over the past 30 years, makes it clear that tens of thousands of children — many under the age of 10 — have been recruited into armies around the world. In Liberia, children as young as seven have been found in combat, while in Cambodia, a survey of wounded soldiers found that 20 per cent of them were between the ages of 10 and 14 when recruited. In Sri Lanka, of 180 Tamil Tiger guerrillas killed in one government attack, more than half were still in their teens, and 128 were girls. Solid statistics are hard to come by, however, as most armies and militia do not want to admit to their use of child soldiers.

According to the report, children are often press-ganged from their own neighbourhoods where local militia or village leaders may be obliged to meet recruitment quotas. In the Sudan, children as young as 12 have been rounded up from buses and cars. In Guatemala, youngsters have been grabbed from streets, homes, parties, and even violently removed from churches. In the 1980s, the Ethiopian military practised a ‘vacuum cleaner’ approach, recruiting boys, sometimes at gunpoint, from football fields, markets, religious festivals or on the way to school.

The report deplores the fact that children are often deliberately brutalized in order to harden them into more ruthless soldiers. In some conflicts, children have been forced to commit atrocities against their own families. In Sierra Leone, for example, the Revolutionary United Front forced captured children to take part in the torture and execution of their own relatives, after which they were led to neighbouring villages to repeat the slaughter. Elsewhere, before battle young soldiers have been given amphetamines, tranquillizers and other drugs to “increase their courage” and to dull their sensitivity to pain.

Some children become soldiers simply to survive. In war-ravaged lands where schools have been closed, fields destroyed, and relatives arrested or killed, a gun is a meal ticket and a more attractive alternative to sitting home alone and afraid. Sometimes a minor soldier’s pay is given directly to the family.

For girls, recruitment may lead to sex slavery. The report notes that in Uganda, for instance, young girls abducted by rebel forces were commonly divided up and allocated to soldiers to serve as their ‘wives’. A case-study from Honduras, prepared for the Machel report, illustrates one child’s experience of joining armed groups:

“At the age of 13, I joined the student movement. I had a dream to contribute to make things change, so that children would not be hungry … later I joined the armed struggle. I had all the inexperience and fears of a little girl. I found out that girls were obliged to have sexual relations ‘to alleviate the sadness of the combatants. And who alleviated our sadness after going with someone we hardly knew? At my young age I experienced abortion … In spite of my commitment, they abused me, they trampled my human dignity. And above all, they did not understand that I was a child and that I had rights.”

It is difficult to reintegrate demobilized children after a peace settlement is reached. Many have been physically or sexually abused by the very forces for which they have been fighting, and have seen their parents killed, sometimes in the most brutal manner, in front of their eyes. Most have also been led into participating in murder, rape and other atrocities. These children have no skills for life in peacetime and they are accustomed to getting their way through violence.

The report urges that all future peace agreements include specific measures pertaining to the demobilization and reintegration of child soldiers, ranging from job creation and the rebuilding of schools, to the training of teachers who are sensitive to the special needs of child victims of war.

The report calls on governments to regularize recruitment procedures for their armed forces and to prosecute violators to ensure that under-age recruitment does not occur. The Machel report also illustrates how the recruitment of children can at least be minimized when parents and communities are better informed about existing national and international law.

While much remains to be done, there have been some successes. In Peru, for example, forced recruitment drives reportedly declined in areas where they were denounced by parish churches. And in Myanmar, protests from aid agencies led to the release of boys forcibly recruited from a refugee camp. In the Sudan, humanitarian organizations have negotiated agreements with opposition groups to prevent the recruitment of children.

Source: UNICEF

UNICEF campaign for the disarmament of (female) child soldiers in Sri Lanka
A billboard campaign in Sri Lanka highlighting the plight of girl child soldiers. (Photo: Rebecca Murray/IRIN)

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Living Indian Cricket Legend Sachin Tendulkar Has Retired from One-Day Cricket


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Living Indian Cricket Legend Sachin Tendulkar
Living Indian Cricket Legend Sachin Tendulkar

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The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) confirmed that the 39-year-old living Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar has retired from one-day cricket (ODI). Last Sunday Sachin Tendulkar announced the end of his illustrious career in one-day-international cricket.

In a statement released on Sunday, he said: “I have decided to retire from the one-day format of the game; I feel blessed to have fulfilled the dream of being part of a World Cup winning Indian team (in 2011); I am eternally grateful to all my well-wishers for their unconditional support and love over the years.

In March 2012, Tendulkar played his last one-day match against Pakistan, the team against which he made his début almost exactly 23 years ago.

Known as the “Little Master,” Tendulkar holds the record for scoring the highest number of runs in ODIs, and the first batsman in the history of the one-day cricket to score a double century.

All acknowledge Sachin Tendulkar as the greatest living batsman and second only to Don Bradman.

In June this year India glorified the living cricket legend by nominating him as a member of the Rajya Sabha (or Council of States or the upper house of the Parliament of India).

One Day Career Stats

Batting:

Matches played: 463
Innings played: 452
Runs taken: 18,426 runs
Highest score: 200 not out
Average: 44.83 runs
Centuries: 49
Half-centuries: 96

Bowling:

Total balls bowled: 8,054
Total runs given: 6,850
Total wickets taken: 154
Career best: 5 wickets for 32 runs
Average runs given : 44.48 runs per match

His ardent fans in India and abroad call him “The God of Cricket”, and the above figures justify that.

We have to thank Shri Raj Singh Dungarpur, former president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India for introducing Ramesh Tendulkar to the world of cricket. The BCCI selection committee under the chairmanship of Dungarpur chose Sachin Tendulkar for the 1989 Indian tour of Pakistan. On his international Test debut in November 1989, Sachin Tendulkar was 16 years 205 days of age, the third youngest cricketer to make his first appearance in international cricket.

Former Indian skippers Krishnamachari Srikkanth and Sourav Ganguly were full of praises for Sachin Tendulkar. Both declared that his records could never be matched.

Srikkanth said: “I am surprised by his move, but he is leaving ODI cricket on a high.

Sourav Ganguly said: “I felt that he might have played on, but it is his decision.. There was a doubt on whether he would play ODI cricket or not. However, I am not surprised by his decision. He has done what he thought was right.

Actually I am surprised,” said Dilip Vengsarkar, the former India captain. “If he is continuing with international cricket [in Tests] then he should have continued with ODI also.

The Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh tweeted: “Sachin tendulkar a great batsman. great human being. a great friend. great man to look up 2. proud indian. Real son of india. I salute u nd love u. 423 matches, 23 yrs, 18426 runs !!!! These numbers no body else wil be able to come close to. salute salute salute to sachin.”

The England batsman Kevin Pietersen tweeted: “Statistics NEVER lie! They tell a very true story.. Well done Sachin! What an incredible ODI career.. #thebest.

Awards and Honours

    • Arjuna award
    • Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna
    • Padma Vibhushan
    • Wisden Cricketers of the Year
    • Maharashtra Bhushan Award
    • Wisden Leading Cricketer in the World
    • Wisden India Outstanding Achievement Award
    • World Test XI
    • ICC World ODI XI
    • Castrol Indian Cricketer of the Year
    • Outstanding Achievement in Sport
    • BCCI Cricketer of the Year
    • LG People’s Choice Award
    • People’s Choice Award
    • Membership of the Order of Australia
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