PDP-BJP coalition govt failed to address developmental aspirations of people of Jammu

Jammu Former minister and Congress leader Raman Bhalla has blamed the PDP-BJP coalition government of depriving the Jammu people of basic amenities. While addressing a huge public gathering at Shiv Nagar, Bandu Rakh, Kunjwani, Bhalla claimed that the unprecedented power and water crisis in Jammu highlights the apathy of the ruling coalition which had failed to address the issues of the people. Prominent among those present on the occasion include Sohan Singh, Sarpanch Kashmir Singh, Naib Sarpanch Satnam Singh Panch Gurnam Singh,Ghulam Farid,Rajinder Singh Lamardhar, Dr. Vijay, Sanjeev Katal, Puran chand. He said the situation in Jammu province had virtually turned out of control due to the severe shortage of drinking water and worst-ever power crisis during summer. “Despite persistent appeals to the government to ensure supply of basic amenities, no action has been taken. People are suffering, but there is no consolation from the government,” Bhalla added. He said lack of direction and political will have compounded the perception of political uncertainty in the state whereas the government should have tried to provide a hope of inclusive development, reconciliation and peace. The former Minister said the PDP-BJP government rather than engaging with aggrieved people with an aim to address their issues, had chosen to tread a path of isolation, arrogance and confrontation contradicting the promises made in the ‘Agenda of the Alliance’. He said Consumer Affairs & Public Distribution (CAPD) outlets lacked sufficient supplies and utility services were craving for maintenance. “The promise of 24×7 power supply has turned out to be a counter nightmare with unprecedented and unscheduled power cuts haunting the people of the state at the very onset of the winter season,” he said.

Addressing the women present in good number in programme, Bhalla said that the basic needs of one’s life becoming un affordable day by day due to soaring inflation. And the worst hit are the housewives, whose monthly budget has gone awry due to spiraling price hike of vegetables and fruits due to inflation.  Households in the City are finding it hard to manage their monthly budget because of skyrocketing prices, he added. Housewives in the City facing great difficulties in managing their monthly budgets and are not able to provide seasonal vegetables to their kids frequently because of higher rates.  This price rise is creating turbulence in their monthly budget. Inflation undoubtedly has an impact on the household expenditure as it affects the prices of practically all goods consumed and services availed on a daily basis – the most significant one being food. Skyrocketing rates of food articles like wheat and rice, which form the staple diet of state, have adversely affected the household budgets. Also the rates of other food articles like pulses, cooking oil, fruits, vegetables, milk and milk products have increased many folds, he added. The hardest hit is the persons who receive fixed income, usually called as the ‘middle class’. Persons who live on past savings, rent, pensions, salaries etc., suffer during these periods as their incomes remain fixed.

Bhalla said that middle class people work really hard to take care of children’s education, livelihood in the times of sickness and even old age.And this price rise is really making it quite impossible to accommodate day to day expenses.  Maintaining that a majority of students in J&K still depend on government schools, state Govt has failed working towards safeguarding the right to education of an average student. Acknowledging that the government-run schools have a lot of scope for improvement, Bhalla demanded government to work on model schools where children, especially from underprivileged background, can reap benefits with proper facilities. Senior Congress leader strongly condemned the closure of 1300 Primary Schools, mostly in Jammu region.  He particularly mentioned that Various Primary Schools closed including Primary School Mohalla Jogian, Primary School Khwaskhan, Primary School Dharap. Bhalla said that the previous UPA Government  started Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan program  to achieve 100 percent literacy rate in India, spent a huge amount to build schools at every kilometer  to establish schools to give quality education to the kids  in far- flung areas. After this the literacy ratio got a boost but now the J&K Govt seems to be sabotaging the program of Govt of India with the closure of Primary school over which BJP is a mute spectator.  The Primary schools closed played a major role in the basic education in the far flung areas. But coalition Government of BJP and PDP is deliberately sabotaging it. Despite crores of rupees funds available to build infrastructure like school buildings, kitchens, toilets and other teaching aids including teaching staff but all the infrastructure and funds utilized to build this infrastructure are going to be wasted with the closure of Govt schools.

Bhalla further said that as the city gets ready to welcome the rainy season, there are serious concerns about the lack of monsoon preparedness. Even a moderate rain causes hardship for the denizens, who have to wade through water-clogged roads and sunken residential areas. The rain that lasted only an hour on last Wednesday exposed the fact that the city is still unprepared for the monsoon. The rain led to knee-deep water in even many main roads in the city, leaving commuters in lurch. Though Jammu is
gifted with several water channels, due to the apathy of the civic authorities, most of them are clogged with plastic waste and silt. The people of Bilal Colony and Pamposh Colony and adjoining areas projected their demands which include repair of roads, lanes and drains, construction of household latrines, fresh BPL survey, repair and upgradation of existing transformers, adequate supply of ration, kerosene oil, LPG, timely disbursement of old age/widow/handicapped pension, financial assistance for construction of pacca houses etc, but Govt always lend deaf ear to their grievances. Bhalla said that Govt must convey specific instructions to all the concerned departments to put in there sincere and dedicated efforts to provide every facility to people at their doorsteps which should be top priority of the coalition government adding that every effort must be made to strengthen the developmental infrastructure in rural areas. It is the duty of the authorities to mobilize resources, provide funds for the sustenance of this class of people which cannot be denied on the ground of financial constraints. The State Government is not taking any keen interest in executing the developmental works in Jammu region where the condition of roads is worst as their renovation and repair work was not taken up in hand during last two years now. The main reason for this being that the developmental works have suffered in Kashmir valley due to unrest and the Government wants to keep the works pending in Jammu too. The Coalition Government which is making tall claims about development has failed during the last two years of its rule to restore the vital roads in the City and its outskirts, Bhalla added.

Castigating PDP-BJP coalition for pushing people to the wall, Bhalla said Jammu region has been worst hit where the government is almost missing with administrative inertia reflected in every sphere. He urged the people of Jammu province to sit up to find if they committed a grave blunder by voting for the anti-Jammu BJP and if they came to the conclusion that they did, then they must get united to get rid of the anti-Jammu PDP-BJP Raj and work for a dispensation that is exclusively of them, by them and for them. Any failure on their part at this critical juncture would further deteriorate the situation. Bhalla said that since the BJP had miserably failed to live up to the people’s expectations by pusillanimously surrendering all the Jammu based issues for the lust of power, the people of Jammu region were giving overwhelming response to the policies of Congress Party. While flaying the BJP’s policy of deceit, duplicity and double standards, Bhalla cautioned the people not to get trapped again by the rhetoric and tall pronouncements of the party and exhorted them to support and strengthen their own Congress Party which alone had the capacity and audacity to raise the voice of the people of Jammu region besides combating the anti-national elements. On the local issues of Gandhi Nagar constituency, Bhalla regretted the total neglect of the constituency with not even a single new work taken up for execution during the last more than two years. He further regretted the abandonment of all development works initiated during tenure of Congress Govt.

Former Minister expressing serious concern over law and order situation in valley said that Kashmir is on the boil once again. Be it the abysmal turnout for polls in Srinagar which were preceded by widespread violence and arson, or the now common sight of ISIS and Pakistani flags being waived in Kashmir, Kashmir in 2017 is reminiscent of the turbulent years of 1989-90. It is amply evident that the PDP-BJP government in Jammu & Kashmir has failed completely and that the BJP, other than reaping petty political gains has gained nothing by leading the government in Jammu and Kashmir. The current round of violence, coming after the lawlessness that followed last year has seriously dented the prospects of peace returning to the valley for some time. Instead of talks about tourism, infrastructure and peace, it is time to acknowledge that Kashmir is entering a phase of an era where any hope of peace in near future seems a distant reality. For all its talk of action and taking decisive steps, observers are at a loss to understand Modi government’s approach towards Kashmirs, he added.

Jammu region is experiencing frequent power as well as water crisis. For the last few days the people of Jammu region experiencing scorching heat and shortage of water supply and unscheduled power cuts has further compounded the hardships of the common people,” he added. Bhalla said that when NC-Congress government was in power, once the offices move to Srinagar and vice versa, a minister used to camp in winter/summer capital on rotational basis for redressal of the public grievances on priority and
“also to give appropriate directions to concerned departments for immediate solution of problems faced by common man”.“The present government hasn’t adopted this practice and as a result the burning issues of the people remain unattended and delayed. This speaks of indifferent attitude of this government towards the genuine problems of the people.”Taking a dig at the government, Bhalla said that since the inception of this government “there have been always crisis in all fields may it be water or power”. “We can say this is not coalition but a collision government”.“People are craving for power and drinking water facilities, especially in these months of scorching summer but the administration seems to be in deep slumber which is evident from frequent and unscheduled power cuts for hours and scarcity of drinking water in most of Jammu areas,” he added.

He also expressed his anguish over the ‘harsh’ attitude of the government towards daily wagers who were on strike since the past few months. He urged the government to intervene into their pending issues and redress them. He further said since the Aadhaar card had been termed as a bonafide document, the requirement of the same had now become all the more important. “There is a good percentage of people to whom the Aadhaar card has not been issued due to which they are facing a lot of difficulties,” he said. Accusing the BJP of indulging in ‘double speak’ on the issue of West Pakistan refugees, Bhalla said the party which had promised to provide citizenship rights to the refugees before elections was now providing meager compensation with lot of hardships. The BJP had completely surrendered before the PDP and was lacking courage to put forth the genuine problems of people of Jammu in front of the government. It was more interested in remaining in the government for the sake of enjoyment of power, Bhalla added.

Bhalla said that the perpetuation of bias by the incumbent govt by divesting Jammu region of its legitimate share in various sectors as clearly noticed during the last two years was wholly unacceptable to Congress party. He regretted that 10,000 posts of SPOs sanctioned last year by the GOI for state were all allocated to Kashmir division to the neglect of Jammu region with BJP leaders most shamelessly issuing statements that it was necessary in national interest. Likewise allocation of 57 PG seats in H&ME Deptt to Kashmir as against 13 seats for Jammu Medical Colleges was highly opprobrious. He strongly condemned the unabated regional bias in selections made by PSC and SSB for various state-level posts during the last two years. Describing the situation in Jammu as highly explosive, Bhalla  said that people of the region were feeling cheated and betrayed due to their complete neglect. He regretted that while the stone pelters of Kashmir were assured compensation and govt Jobs, the highly qualified youth of Jammu including females were left to agitate on the roads with no takers for their genuine grievances. Similar was the position in other sectors including development projects, Tourism, Health, Power etc with PDP walking away with a lion’s share and BJP left flaunting a consolation prize in the shape of few crumbs, he said. The former Minister said the menace of unemployment was rampant in the region with thousands of daily wagers and contractual employees working in PHE, PWD, PDD, etc including NYC volunteers, SPO’s, temporary teachers, MG-NREGA employees, Contractual
Lecturers, NHM and ReT teachers, etc on the roads protesting for their genuine demands related to their salaries and regularization of services. He maintained that the Jammu youth had played a pivotal role in bringing BJP to power in the State but now with their hopes having been belied, they were only feeling cheated, humiliated and betrayed for no fault of theirs. He urged upon the people to unite so as to ensure that much needed healing touch was provided to Jammu region.

Speaking on the progress of mega development projects being implemented in Jammu, Bhalla said that all the projects are moving at snail’s pace be it expansion of Jammu Airport and extension of Runway, Multi-tier Parking and Commercial Complex proposed to be constructed at General Bus Stand Jammu, development of Tawi River Front, construction of protection works, water treatment plants, development of reclaimed land into recreational areas and development of tourist facilities along the banks of the River Tawi, sewage project for Jammu city, multi-level parking facility at City Chowk Jammu, construction of New Legislative Complex, construction of barrage on River
Tawi, Jammu Ropeway Project, from Peerkho to Bahu Fort, construction of Ring Road around Jammu, from Raya Mode at Nagrota Bypass, construction of new Medical Colleges in Jammu region, four-laning of Jammu-Akhnoor road. The progress of potable water augmentation for Jammu city, formulation of Master Plan and implementation of Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme and AMRUT going on with no momentum at all. People of Jammu region are being neglected and discriminated despite repeated assurances from BJP. “The state government should honour the commitment made to the people of the equitable development of all the three regions of the state. He said BJP had assured of development of all the regions and that the differences and the alienation existing between people of Jammu and those of Kashmir Valley would be eliminated.

“In the tourism sector, Jammu got merely 20­25 per cent funds allocation and out of 13 newly identified tourist spots for development, Jammu has only four whereas rest are in Kashmir province”, he added. He said that the Tawi Lake Project in Jammu which was scheduled to be completed in March, has been extended for two years. Bhalla claimed no serious efforts are being made about the diversion of four streams carrying the city garbage in the Tawi River.”In the allotment of indoor stadiums, out of 12 indoor stadiums envisaged only three are allocated to Jammu region and nine to Kashmir province with two in Ladakh. The Congress leader said the discrimination is being faced by the people of the region in the matter of development of roads, infrastructure, irrigation, agriculture and horticulture sector. Bhalla cautioned the government of a great resentment brewing among the people of Jammu province and therefore immediate steps need to be taken for the redressal of grievance of the people. Bhalla said no appropriate strategy has been devised to create attractive assets in and around the winter capital to sustain tourist footfall. He described Jammu as a repository of rich heritage reflected in its historic temples and

JKSRTC responsible of killing of 17 Amarnath pilgrims

Expressing serious concern over the accident at Ramban in which 17 Amarnath pilgrims killed and over 30 injured, State President, Shri Ram Sena, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajiv Mahajan has asked State government especially Governor, who is also chairman Shri Amarnath Shrine Board, to take strict action against the bigwigs of Jammu and Kashmir State Road Transport Corporation who are responsible for this mishap.

Officials of JKSRTC, who deployed old buses for boarding Shri Amarnath pilgrims, are responsible for this mishap that claimed the lives of 17 Amarnath pilgrims, who were travelling in a vehicle owned by the corporation,” said Rajiv Mahajan in a statement.

Poor condition of JKSRTC buses is not only causing considerable inconvenience to pilgrims but also creating a bad impression in the country.

He said that Jammu and Kashmir, being a popular tourist destination, should have better JKSRTC bus service on the lines of other states.

He said only constitution of inquiry committee to look into the circumstances that led to this tragic accident involving an SRTC bus carrying the Amarnath Yatris by government is not enough and sought immediate action against JKSRTC officials.

Expressing grief and sorrow over the accident, Rajiv Mahajan also prayed to God to grant eternal peace to the departed souls and courage to bereaved families to bear  irreparable loses. He also prayed to God for early recovery of injured and asked government to provide free and world class treatment to the injured persons.

Enjoy the romance of seasonal India through Seerat’s exuberant themes at Surajkund Mela

DSC_0073India is an enchanting land of beauty. Be it spring, be it summer, monsoon, autumn or winter – every season has its own beauty, charm and its festivities. It is a land blessed by nature with all the seasons.

Is it possible for human creative genius to depict the bounties of nature in its varied hues and shades? If you believe it is not possible, think again. Or rather look again! If you really wish to see shades of seasons, created by an artist, with focus on the romance of seasons that is visible in India, its villages and its cities, visit the Surajkund Mela 2015 which is on till 15th of February. Once you are there, you will see for yourself how Seerat Narendra’s creative genius has left its mark not on a canvas few feet by few feet in dimension but on the entire length and breadth of Surajkund Mela ground.

It is said that artistry constantly pushes the boundaries of beauty, through three key pillars: discovery, imagination and invention.

Photo Seerat Narendra

Photo Seerat Narendra

True artist use their creative genius through exuberant blend of the three key pillars to create superior art work. Seerat Narendra has done exactly the same to the Surajkund mela ground so much so that for the visitors, not merely the stalls, but the mela ground itself has become an attraction. Visitors to the fare can be seen jostling with each other to get photographs clicked in front of one or the other depiction of her theme. Great enthusiasm of visitors to get photographs clicked in front of various theme designs at times even become irritating for Seerat and her team when the theme designs get repeatedly damaged and they have to mend or replace them.

Tells Seerat about the theme that has enchanted and mesmerised so many visitors this year: “This time our theme revolves around the Romance of the Seasons subtly touching/reflecting the decorative elements of some of the prominent festivals via its colours of that particular season.”

DSC_0054Seerat has created a harmonious theme across the length and breadth of Surajkund mela ground. Describing this, Seerat says the theme is synonymous of nature which subtly fades/merges a season into another. Likewise, humans also mingle, celebrate, respect and cherish beauties of each other’s festivals and cultures, leading to smooth transition from one into the other.

Adds Seerat: “Basant Panchami or Valantine’s day are prominent during Spring, Budh Poornima, Eid or bright Sun and the moon delights in a clear sky in Summer, Teej, Janmashtami or dancing peacocks are symbolic of Monsoon, elephant procession during Dussehra, decorative Diyas of Diwali reflects the beauty of Autumn, and Christmas enlivens the mood during winter. These are the concepts that pan around the Mela ground.”

IMG-20150130-WA0006Surajkund Mela is at it is known across the world for its splash of colours, rhythms of drum beats and joy de-vivre. The Mela celebrates the unique diversity of Indian traditions and culture, showcasing some of the most exquisite handlooms and handicrafts of India.

In short, the Mela is a celebration of Indian folk traditions and cultural heritage. Seerat’s contribution is immense because she has used her creative genius to give an ambience which even outstands the work of the multitude of artists who have gathered at the Mela to showcase their talent and artistry. The ambience that was meant to serve as backdrop has in fact become central pieces of attraction; vibrant expressions of happiness and cheer that infuses every visitor with joy.

By Aziz Haider for Traworld/RNI News Agency

The Nawab of taste delights food connoisseurs at Trident – Gurgaon

IMG_443351788125039The undisputed Nawab of taste is here to delight the connoisseurs of Awadi cuisine. Food buffs who leave no opportunity to try everything good that is served in the name of Awadhi food are converging at Trident-Gurgaon to savour the delights being served as part of the week-

Dr. Izzat Hussain outside Saffron Restaurant at Hotel Trident - Gurgaon

Dr. Izzat Hussain outside Saffron Restaurant at Hotel Trident – Gurgaon

long Awadhi cuisine festival that is ongoing till Sunday the 25th of January at the Trident-Gurgaon. Needless to say, even the connoisseurs are leaving the hotel licking their fingers.

Little wonder those who cherish Awadhi cuisine are converging at Trident. After all, the Nawab of Awadhi food Dr. Izzat Hussain is in the NCR commanding the expert chefs at Trident to add a little more of this and a little more of that. It is these subtleties and his special care in adding ingredients in such a manner that they retain their odour, taste and colour that has made Dr. Izzat Hussain respectable even among the best of chefs. The great respect that Dr. Hussain commands among the chefs was seen last month when he took a workshop of chefs at The Oberoi-Delhi or when he organized a culinary workshop at Jims Jungle Retreat (or JJR) in Dhela, a village close to Corbett Tiger Reserve in which Dr. Hussain served the guests with the tastiest of his delicacies. There too, some of the best critiques of food couldn’t resist savouring the food that is nothing less than a gourmet’s delight.

Interestingly, Izzat Hussain has no formal training as a chef. A direct descendent of the Nawabs of Awadh, he had grown up relishing tasty food in his house. But he never knew he would end up cooking food that even the trained cooks would love to eat. It was after he completed his course in Unani medicine and much after he was a married man that Dr. Hussain realized he had it in him to cook the best of delicacies.

The facts that he is a Yunani physician and a direct descendent of the last Nawab of Awadh – Wajid Ali Shah – proved to be blessings in disguise for Dr. Izzat Hussain who gradually mastered the art of applying the principles of Yunani medicine to give a healthy spin to his brand of Awadhi cuisine. Tells Dr. Hussain: “As a chef I add whatever it takes to make my dishes taste good. But as a physician, I make sure to add spices and herbs that counteract its ill effects.”

While talking to Dr. Hussain, it’s difficult to distinguish whether one is talking to a Unani doctor or an ace expert of Awadhi cooking. For this reason, it’s not easy to decipher the culinary secrets of Dr. Hussain. He uses milk instead of water to make gravy for mutton. “This will not only make the curry taste creamier but it will counteract the acidity that the meat creates when eaten in excess,” says he and adds: “Cardamoms I put in are to aid digestion, ginger powder is added for its antioxidant and carminative properties and cinnamon is an elixir for our bodies as it works on the pancreas and enzymes.” Dr. Hussain even tells the foodies and gourmets to eat more than the appetite, gently assuring them that his signature spice blends would ensure that they will suffer no ill effects from eating it. The food is definitely not unpalatable and if after consuming all the good stuff you savour the healing beverage that he creates using ginger and vinegar, you might even end up feeling lighter and more energetic.

There is a flip side too to all this! There is no chance you will not end up overeating. Hence, if you give a visit to Trident – Gurgaon till coming Sunday to try the tastiest of food, also be prepared to work an extra hour shedding the plenty of extra calories you consume. It is only after you have tasted his food that you will realize why a lot many food enthusiasts look forward to participate in cuisine workshops being organized by ladle-wielding Yunani doctor.


Adamant Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs least bothered about collapse of an entire industry

Rtd Gen. VK Singh (Minister of State for Overseas Indian Affairs)

Rtd Gen. VK Singh (Minister of State for Overseas Indian Affairs)

‘Several visas have expired. And more are expiring by the day. This business has collapsed totally.’

These are the drastic words that a Mumbai-based Recruiting Agent (RA) responded with to an SMS wishing him on the New Year. What a great irony it is that while Prime Minister Narendra Modi is toiling hard to lead India to the next level of growth and development, adamant posture of Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs is leading to collapse of an entire industry that has contributed immensely to bringing the much needed foreign reserves for the country in times of adversity.

The issue in contention is a software that refuses to work. The issue is of such enormous concern that several RAs have begun to say that it is an attempt by the Government to bring about the collapse of an otherwise thriving industry. Why? None knows the answer!

Unskilled Indian labour is in great demand, especially in the Middle East countries. But this new software, implemented by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs to clear passports with Emigration Check Required status, from September 25 onwards, ruffled feathers of applicants, Recruiting Agents (RAs) who help the applicants complete procedure for a commission, and the emigration officers at the Mumbai Protector of Emigrants (PoE) office alike.

The fact that the new software was enforced merely about a month before model code of conduct for Lok Sabha elections came into effect is enough to raise eyebrows. They were trying to introduce the software since several years but Sandeep Roy, earlier working as Protector of Immigrants, knowing its deficiencies tried to stall it,” tells Abdur RehmanYasin Khan, Vice President of Indian Personnel Promotion Export Council, adding that while BJP is considered as a communal party, it is the Congress which has taken most adverse decisions. ‘They try to marry an impotent person; the problems were bound to happen,’ says he.

Vayalar Ravi, the Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs in the erstwhile UPA Government, gave the go-ahead to Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) to implement a software, later named eMigrate, merely about a month before the model code of conduct was to be implemented before the last Lok Sabha elections. Aimed at enhancing efficiency in clearing passports with Emigration Check Required status, the Software was made at a whopping cost of Rs. 92 crore; thus replacing SAI software that was made at a cost of mere Rs. 10 lakh and if insiders are to be believed was far more efficient than the replaced one. eMigrate that is now being used to process requests from unskilled labourers wanting to go abroad for a job is such an operational nightmare that not only the entire Manpower Recruitment industry operating mostly from Mumbai seems at the verge of closure but the job applications of several labourers is said to have expired even before they could be processed. The recruiters, mostly individuals or companies located in the Middle East, are even threatening starting recruitments from other countries if the problem persists in India.

Sandeep Roy too rues over the decision:  “The SAI system was never closed and worked 24×7 without any server issues. It was made by consulting the POEs, and was user-friendly and transparent. It is shocking to learn why the government went ahead with a project that cost them R92 crore, besides causing inconvenience. The SAI system gave no problems and cost a mere R10 lakh.”

The RAs therefore have no option but to come up in arms against the new software. The Employment Promotion Council of Indian Personnel, apex body of RAs registered with the POE, has objected to the implementation of the project. Deepak Chabria, its chairman, has reportedly filed an RTI request to know the exact cost of the eMigrate project. “Being the main hub controlling more than 70 per cent of total India’s overseas recruitment, Mumbai is a very important city and the POE office has, in the past, granted emigration clearance to 7,000 emigrant workers on a single day. This is the highest number of clearances received in a day. In a given month, they would grant 45,000 approvals. But now, the condition of officers as well as the applicants is extremely poor, as both of them, along with us, are slogging to clear as many passports as we can.”

Athar Qureshi, head of Indian Personnel Export Promotion Council, another RA, says, “The trial of this new system was conducted in Delhi. Instead, the trial should have been conducted in the Mumbai office as it bears the maximum load. There are 800 active RAs in Mumbai alone. This new system could have been improved if the government wanted some changes, rather than coming up with a complete new highly expensive project that has become a headache to everyone.”

Adds Abdur Rehman Yasin Khan: “Countries go all the way to look for avenues where their unemployed can be accommodated. 12 lakh people from India are getting employed in the Middle East every year. All those jobs are being sacrificed in the name of law.”

Says he: “When the gold had been shifted out of the country in PM Chandrashekhar’s government, the rule was changed and everybody was allowed to go to the Middle East. If the life of an individual was at stake in these countries, why would somebody go,” he argues. There are very few people going to Iraq or Syria now. This is the trap by erstwhile Congress government in which BJP too seem to have fallen.

Syed Abbas, another RA too argues that the TCS server is inefficient. “It may be taking care of the needs of RAs in cities like Delhi where there are not more than 200 submissions in a day,” says he, adding that “the system fails in Mumbai where the submissions are as high as 30-40,000 in a day.”

“Pending work is therefore mounting. Instead of making the system easier, they are making it difficult. The business is going out of our hands. The recruiters have money as well as choices. Why would they recruit from India if problems continue to persist?” rues Abbas.

Other than the issue of imminent loss to business and eventual closure of the industry if the problem continues to persist, RAs are also presenting the issue from the point of view of national interest. Rahman says that these migrant workers send back 70,000 billion dollar worth of foreign exchange every year. If 28 lakh people are employed in the Middle East, it means the country has to worry less for jobs of as many people. If this big number is unable to get jobs, they will indulge in crime. A case of suicide has already happened in Mumbai, informs Rahman.

Abbas clarifies that the issue is not of Muslims alone. As per figures, recruitments in the Middle East are in the ratio of 50:50 for Muslims and others. This is a burning issue. Many visas will expire, if remedial measures are not taken immediately.

Another RA who doesn’t wish to be named says: “While PM Modi’s slogan is less documents, less corruption and quick service, the new system has failed on all three. There are more documents, it is inviting more corruption and the service is getting lengthy.”

RNI News Bureau

Celebrity actor Priyanka Chopra and her tryst with idyllic Maldives

Celebrated actor Priyanka Chopra shares with Aziz Haider the unforgettable tryst with her favourite destination – the Maldives

PC3If there is one image that the magical Maldivean Islands never fail to conjure, that is the water. Sprinkled across the equator, these islands are every one’s fantasy of an idyllic tropical retreat.

It was this wonderful land that played host to all the beauty contestants for Ms. World 2000 swimwear contest. I was one of the many who was participating. It was early stage of the competition and the thought that I may go on to win the crown itself had not dawned on me till then.

I think Maldives was the perfect choice for swimwear contest. The heavenly beauty of the place made us forget for a while why we had assembled there. I, for one, was so enchanted by the beauty of the place that the next few days that I spent there, I did nothing but enjoyed the fun…just fun.

Even today, I fail to forget those moments. I basked in the sun or lazed on the beach marveling the nature at its best. I watched the capricious changes of mood in the ocean, secretive sapphire to clear aquamarine, with hidden hints of more blues that we’d ever imagined, even in a dream.

Besides the most vivid natural beauties that they present, various islands of Maldives also offer guests the luxuries of the best hotels in an eco-friendly, back-to-nature, ambience. At some places, hotel rooms or villas even have their own private stretch of beach, so you can dive or snorkel in warm, crystal-clear waters, or just lie back and contemplate nature’s wondrous world, as you please.

The gourmet meals too are an epicure’s delight, as delectable in appearance as in taste. I relished the mouth-watering dishes a lot. Despite whatever the figure-conscious may say, I love to eat anything and everything that’s cooked well and looks good. Except Chinese!

The most unforgettable moment came when dark clouds suddenly covered up the entire island.

As the clouds thundered, as lightning crisscrossed the darkened sky till it faded away in the horizons, and as rain lashed down heavily, I bathed in the rain. Several times in India, I have done the same under the cool monsoon showers. Here, it was simply irresistible. With coconut grooves on one side swaying to the breeze, the far-stretching ocean with gently undulating waves, cool breeze from the ocean caressing your body in the most sensuous manner, and soft silver sand under your feet, how could anybody resist this temptation?

I saw the brightest rainbow of my life at Maldives, each colour in the vibgyor glowing distinct and incandescent. I was so excited that I ran behind it, as if I could catch it, while it poised tantalizingly between blue sky and even bluer-ocean.

Even at night, I would sneak out of the hotel room despite the fact that it was forbidden to do so. Some other contestants who had become good friends too came along. We all shared the same view of life. We frolicked and did a lot of masti. I am sure God must have taken so much time making Maldives. It’s simply stunning.

We would go to the beach under the starlit night and gaze at the expanse of the night, listen to the musical murmur of the ocean and the romance that it ignited made me sing all those childhood songs that I would sing to nobody else. I consider myself a good singer. Even though I have not done much riyaz lately, I have sung in a South Indian movie and have recently sung few songs in Bollywood as well. Due to this, some friends even call me the Jennifer Lopez of India.

But there at the Maldivean beaches, it required no cajoling or temptation. The vocal chords by themselves started meeting the rhythms of the sound that nature created and I sang the most passionate songs of my life.


MEA replaces Section Officer (Attestation) without intimation to Embassies

MEAMEA has replaced the Section Officer George Lakra who was in charge of attestation till now with incumbent Trilok Chand. Though MEA is entitled in its capacity to put in place any office to handle attestation of documents, the move without intimation to the concerned embassies has enhanced the problems of travel agents as well as individuals.

George Lakra was working as the section officer (attestation) in MEA for about couple of years. As per information available, certain anonymous complaints against him at the behest of one of the five companies working as accredited agencies of MEA for attestation, decision to replace George Lakra with Trilok Chand was taken. Trilok Chand started attesting the documents but since MEA failed to inform various foreign embassies processing the documents further, some of them have refused to further authenticate the documents until the information related to new joining is authenticated by MEA.

One such embassy is the Saudi Embassy which is returning all the documents attested by Trilok Chand until it receives an official confirmation from MEA in this regard. This has enhanced the problems of travel agents as well as common people who have to wait in Delhi for a few more days until the documents the embassies get an official confirmation and start processing the documents.

One such person scheduled to travel to Dhammam, said on condition of anonymity that he had submitted his documents in MEA on Monday through one of the 5 accredited agencies. After getting his documents attested from MEA (which were attested by Trilok Chand), the documents were submitted to the Saudi Embassy on Wednesday through an agent, but the embassy returned the papers saying that the signatures of the signing authority in MEA doesn’t match with the signatures in its record. This person has already made flight bookings for Dhammam on Friday and fears that if the embassy doesn’t get official communication from MEA soon, he might have to get his bookings rescheduled.

Hundreds of documents are submitted at MEA (attestation cell) every day through its 5 accredited agents. This is mandatory since various embassies process the documents further only when the document is first attested by the MEA.


Jobs and tourism opportunities on the anvil at Daman, Diu and Dadra Nagar Haveli

Diu Fort - Majestic and Awe-inspiring

Diu Fort – Majestic and Awe-inspiring

The territory known for its Portuguese legacy, Daman, Diu and Dadra Nagar Haveli (DD & DNH) looks set to harness its great tourism potential courtesy several initiatives taken by the administration. The consequent upsurge in tourism besides the new ONGC project on the anvil have potential to change the face of this region that is already bestowed with exquisite natural wonders. The change is being spearheaded by the young and hard-working bureaucrat Ashish Kundra, who has been appointed as the Administrator DD & DNH by the President of India.

The residents of DD & DNH are eagerly awaiting the commencement of gas production by India’s state-owned petroleum and gas explorer Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) off the Daman coast. In a recent development, ONGC board has approved an investment of Rs. 5,219 crore to enhance natural gas and condensate production from Tapti Daman block in the Arabian Sea. As per a letter written by ONGC to Administrator Ashish Kundra, gas production off Daman coast is expected to commence by July 2016.

Local residents are upbeat about the development and know for sure that jobs galore are coming their way. Already talk of its impact on social, cultural and economic growth has begun. “We have come a long way from the time when Portuguese interest in DD & DNH was confined to teak wood forests for ship building and as a transit point for opium supply that contribute to the revenue of the Portuguese crown,” informed an upbeat resident.

Ashish Kundra, Administrator, Daman, Diu and Dadra Nagar Haveli

Ashish Kundra, Administrator, Daman, Diu and Dadra Nagar Haveli

Kundra, however, is not confining his hopes merely on the ONGC gas production. He is trying to utilize his dynamism to the full by taking new initiatives and foster new tie-ups with a view to develop the tourism potential of this exquisitely beautiful region. He is also trying to reap maximum benefit for the region out of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ campaign. As part of ‘Make in India’ initiative, already ‘superb response’ has been received by the industry leaders in Daman. Laws are being reframed so as to provide simplified industrial clearances in both Union Territories of Daman and DNH. And collectors have been told to take industrial investment proposals under their charge and give a regular report to the Administrator on status of clearances.

As part of the initiative, Kundra has already met representatives from a Japanese bank seeking international cooperation and inviting investment in the region. A MoU has recently been signed with the Shipping Corporation of India to float bids for Catamaran Services between Mumbai and Diu, with a possible halt at Daman. The catamaran service is expected to commence within a year, thereby opening another tourist route to the Union Territories.

daman-top-imgSeeing the great potential of the region, Kundra tried to take benefit out of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s another novel scheme – the Swachh Bharat Mission – started on Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary, to initiate a cleanliness drive in Silvassa and several beaches along the Arabian Sea. Councilors and panchayat members from the region participated whole-heartedly in making this initiative a huge success.

The exquisite shades of Arabian Sea off the Daman Coast, the calm and serene Dudhni lake, the forts of the region known for their exclusive architecture and amazing beauty of Dudhni lake; tourism potential of the region now appears set to be harnessed. The pristine Satmalia forest and its wildlife that have fascinated the locals as well as tourists looks set to have more visitors whereas Kundra is also exploring avenues to utilize the big potential of water sport and adventure sports activities at the breathtakingly beautiful Dudhni lake.


After credit rating upgrading by S&P, India’s air security ranking now needs upgrading

FederalMarkets in India have shown signs of great boom after global rating agency Standard & Poor has upgraded India’s credit outlook to stable from the earlier poor. S&P has given indications that the rating could be raised further if the economy reverts to a real per capita GDP trend growth of 5.5 % per year. Until now, S&P was rating India as ‘BBB—’, the lowest in the investment grade, with a negative outlook.

Representatives of Standard & Poor’s had met Finance Ministry officials on August 12. They had informed S&P about the government’s road map to reduce fiscal deficit to 3 percent of GDP by 2016—17. They were also told that in the current fiscal, the government proposes to bring down the fiscal deficit to 4.1 percent of the GDP from 4.5 percent a year ago. With the new Modi Government’s big bang reforms, India expects fiscal breach to go lower in the near future and investments to pick up.

However, there is still an area of concern related to air safety ranking which too has been downgraded recently by the US aviation regulator Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Experts from FAA are expected to visit India in December 2014 to review the country’s downgraded safety ranking.

The FAA had downgraded India’s safety ranking in January 2014 to Category II, finding regulatory oversight to be inadequate in a move that blocked Air India and Jet Airways from expanding to U.S. cities or collaborating with U.S. airlines. As regards to air safety ranking, India is now clubbed with countries like Ghana, Indonesia, Uruguay and Zimbabwe.

As per information provided by Les Dorr, Spokesperson, FAA, the DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) had requested a reassessment to take place a little after downgrading. According to Les Dorr, lack of trained DGCA officials, the absence of documented procedures for inducting new types of aircraft, and a shortage of flight inspectors to monitor India’s growing number of airlines were cited as the chief reasons for downgrading.

DGCA is of opinion that it is now fully prepared to receive the FAA officials in the first week of December for a review. DGCA has taken several steps lately, as part of preparations. This include hiring of flight inspectors, conducting a financial audit of airlines, cracking down on errant carriers, pulling them up for training, conducting engineering checks, and stopping operators from importing aircraft until they have checked and fulfilled all the safety norms listed by FAA.

A DGCA team led by Director General Prabhat Kumar was in Washington some time back to prepare for the review and update FAA on the action taken so far. No decision could have been taken during PM Modi’s recent visit to the US as upgrading requires several physical checks as well.

Air India has about 21 weekly flights between India and the US, and Jet Airways seven, while other Indian airlines fly mostly to South East and West Asia. New airlines such as Tata-SIA Airlines Ltd.’s Vistara that are hoping to fly abroad cannot fly to the US until an upgrade, even if India relaxes its rule to let only those airlines with five years’ domestic flying experience and 20 aircraft to fly abroad. They also cannot sign commercial flying agreements with US carriers. They also have to be prepared for surprise safety checks on their aircraft by regulatory authorities.

Courtesy: www.traworld.in

Inbound travel to India to get boost after new Modi announcements

narendra-modi_4The spate of new announcements by PM Narendra Modi during his trip to the US is set to give a new boost to Inbound Tourism to India, besides giving the much-needed flip to the new investments in India, feel travel trade pundits that Traworld talked to. This new boost to inbound tourism is expected from even countries like the US, in the light of new eased visa rules for US tourists, as announced by PM Modi, besides countries in Europe.

The market has already started showing signals that the travel Industry is set to see a new dawn. The impact has already been seen on the shares of Indian travel-related companies like Cox & Kings Ltd., which has seen the greatest rise in the last nine months. Shares of companies like Thomas Cook (India) Ltd., Indian Hotels Company (a flagship of Taj brand of luxury hotels) too have shown a good rise.

As per new announcements by PM Modi at an event at Madison Square Garden in New York City during his visit to the United States, the U.S. tourists to India will be issued visas on arrival and identification documents for non-resident Indians will be merged into a single category. The rule changes will be implemented very soon, the PM said. PM Modi also announced that a person of Indian origin will get a lifelong visa for India. The so-called PIO card will eventually be combined with the Overseas Citizen of India or OCI document, removing differences between the way groups of non-resident Indians were categorized and issued visas.

Travel gurus that Traworld talked to are of opinion that investors now expect more tourists to come after PM Modi’s announcement. Easing of rules for Indians living abroad may also lead to more travel activities. The boost to visas is a positive development for U.S. tourists and is part of the PM Modi’s initiative of using travel and tourism to promote growth and trade.

Praise has been forthcoming from even people like industrialist Lord Swraj Paul, who have welcomed the series of steps for NRIs announced by PM Narendra Modi. Paul feels that it was for the first time in three decades that the Indian NRI community is feeling that their contribution to the country has been recognized and they have been made to feel like full members of the Indian community. “I congratulate Mr Modi on his speech and all of us are grateful to him,” Paul said.

Paul even said that in 1983, a large part of the business and political establishment in India, supported by vested interests, derided the Non-Resident Indians as being not wanted.

“The NRI community now hopes that these people will understand the opportunity that has been missed as to how much could have been contributed to the country in those years,” Paul said in a statement.

“I am sure the Indian diaspora will now respond to Mr Modi’s call as NRIs feel very proud of being Indians,” he said.

What the premier has called “small gestures” are actually big step forward and “we are all proud of Mr Modi as Prime Minister,” Lord Swraj Paul, chairman of Caparo Industries, said.

The Indian diaspora would like to see a strong, clean and healthy India, he said.

“The NRIs are committed to seeing India forge ahead as a strong nation and they are the best ambassadors for India,” Paul said.

Paul further said: “My heartfelt congratulations to Mr Modi on his commitment, his vision and his passion to see India take its rightful place in the world. We will all pledge to work hard to make this a reality.”

Courtesy: www.traworld.in