New Delhi: Delhi Congress Chief Shiela Dikshit has called an urgent meeting with the three working presidents of Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee on Tuesday, a senior party leader said. The meeting comes in the backdrop of Congress mulling its options to align with the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi in its bid to defeat the BJP in Lok Sabha elections, days after having unanimously decided to go it alone in Delhi. “An urgent meeting has been called with the three working presidents Devender Yadav, Haroon Yusuf and Rajesh Lilothia, at Diskhit’s residence,” a party leader said. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murder The leader, however did not elaborate on the agenda of the meeting. Uncertainty has been persisting in the Delhi Congress over a pre-poll tie-up with the AAP after Dikshit and her three working presidents wrote to Congress chief Rahul Gandhi against the alliance. In a letter written last week, Dikshit along with Yusuf, Yadav and Lilothia protested a recent phone survey to gauge workers’ mood on the alliance.
If I remember correctly, it was Thursday, March 25, 1971. My M.A (History) final exam was round the corner. We in India then had the audible, omnipresent, omniscient and ubiquitous “All India Radio” but no electronic visuals. Hence hearing the evening radio “news” and reading morning newspaper was my childhood “addiction”, exam or no exam. My father – an extraordinary scholar of income tax law, English, Bengali & Sanskrit languages, with expertise in Mathematics, Astrology and Economics, and a senior civil servant of the government of India, was born in, and hailed from, 2 Toynbee Circular Road, Tikatuli, Dhaka (then India, in 1917) and was not the type to disturb his son for radio “news” in the exam season. That day, I too, seem to have something else in mind for emperor Ashoka and Buddhism as a possible question for my paper. Also Read – A special kind of bondNevertheless, there suddenly came a stentorian voice from our C-II 17 Wellesley Road, New Delhi-110003 “radio room”. “Come immediately” was the two-word command. Usually serene, serious yet ever-smiling, he suddenly lit upon hearing the All India Radio news that the charismatic Bengali leader, widely respected and revered as “Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rehman” had given a clarion call to the people of (then) East Pakistan, firing the first salvo at the West Pakistani Punjabi-speaking military junta, from Dhaka’s Ramna Maidan: “Aamago share shaat koti zanagan re tomra dabayya raakhte parbaanaa” (You oppressive rulers, you will never be able to suppress us seven and half crore Bangali people). We instantly felt the electrifying effect and potential tremor, almost after 24 years of the Partition days, in the “radio room” of the Hindu Bengali refugee in Lutyen’s zone of New Delhi. Also Read – Insider threat managementThereafter, things moved at high speed. Owing to his professionalism, probity and spotless past, my father was one of the two Bengali speaking senior civil servants whose residence was identified by the Government of India as an “informal meeting point”, should the need arise in future. My M.A exam ended on Saturday, May 15, 1971, and results were out on Monday, July 05, 1971. I was happy with my result, but was happier owing to the fast unfolding scenario of possible emancipation of an enlightened and inherently simple Bengali-speaking people in a geography which is so dear to our heart, mind and thought owing to shared history, culture, language and tradition. Soon, however, came Wednesday, August 18, 1971, the ‘appointed date’ of an “informal meeting”, closely coordinated by Shri Ashok Ray, then Joint Secretary of Ministry of External Affairs, and other organisations of the state. Commencing at 5:30 pm. and ending around midnight, it was a gala party; a reunion of sorts, high on emotions, love, tears of joy, passion, fraternity, feasting. A gathering of 150 people of whom at least 80 were from the land of Bangabandhu, including the first Prime Minister of Bangladesh Tajuddin Ahmed. The best (and most surprising) part of the gathering emerged from the fact that despite Ahmad being eight years younger to my father, they knew each other very well. It was an incredibly sensational scene. Also, half of the guests had escaped, God only knew how from the army junta’s clutches; and at least two families had driven down in their “Made in Japan” Nissan and Toyota cars which were a rare commodity in India of 1971. Some of us were mighty impressed. As we were then used to Ambassador of Calcutta; Fiat of Bombay; Standard Herald of Madras; watch of HMT; steel of Tata; and shoes from Bata. All “Made in India”. Indigenous. Not imported. The outcome of the meeting was essentially a commitment to do everything necessary. The government and the people of India were one with the Bengalis under Bangabandhu. All present in the meeting had the same goal, in different ways, irrespective of their nationality and ethnicity. I vividly recall the spontaneous, repeated and vociferous slogan “Joy Bangla”, reverberating through the hot, humid night of that 1971 “August day”. Two more meetings subsequently took place in two different places in Delhi, which I could not attend owing to my preparation for competitive examinations. As things were heating up, I travelled to spend the winter with my maternal aunts in Asansol and Calcutta. My stay in Asansol lasted five days as war broke out on Friday, December 03, 1971. I took a train the next day, December 4, for Calcutta. The three-hour journey was an experience by itself as the train moved with all “lights off” in the “chair car”. Howrah station was pitch dark but packed with passengers, police, and personnel of railways. Home guards were extra vigilant, navigating all and sundry, and the half an hour road to Alipore residence of aunt turned out like a two-hour air journey from Delhi to Kolkata, as I reached at 11 pm. The following day dawned with my frantic attempt to catch up with Major General Bishwa Nath Sirkar (whom I had known before) in Fort William, Headquarters of the Eastern Army Command. Major General Sirkar, a Second World War veteran, saw action on several fronts, was an armoured corps officer par excellence (belonging to Central India Horse). Being strict disciplinarian, with frugal habits and exemplary probity, he never sought publicity and was never flashy. The Major General was handpicked overnight (rather plucked) by Army Chief Sam Manekshaw and transferred from the post of Military Secretary (in Army Headquarters, New Delhi) to a newly created post in the Eastern Command Calcutta, exclusively for cooperation with the Mukti Bahini. Consequently, whereas world today knows who did what in 1971, hardly anyone can either remember or recall his invaluable contribution in the liberation movement of Bengalis in the east and role played in actual combat of the 14-day war. After the 1971 war, Sirkar became Lieutenant General but resigned after a serious difference of opinion with then Defence Minister of India. He had several years of service left at the time of his premature departure. I remain eternally grateful to that great soldier and noble soul for helping me to “see the front” for two days after Sunday, December 12, 1971, when the writings were already on the wall. After a resounding firing to deter me from “seeing is believing”, the gentleman in the General relented and “put me on” to II Corps operating from Krishnanagar. The rest, as they say, is history. At the age of 23 years, I had a remarkable, unforgettable side view of the moving procession of history, resulting in the crumbling of old (dis)order and the birth of a new nation, not in the distant horizon but in our vicinity. Between 1947 and 1971 came alive two nations: the first under bondage, second as an uncaged bird with the unrestricted horizon of thought and action as its domain. (The writer is an alumnus of National Defence College and author of ‘China in India’. The views expressed are strictly personal)
Caracas: Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro announced 30 days of electricity rationing Sunday, after his government said it was shortening the working day and keeping schools closed due to blackouts. Angry Venezuelans meanwhile took to the streets of Caracas to protest the power cuts and water shortages. The measures are a stark admission by the government — which blamed repeated power outages in March on sabotage — that there is not enough electricity to go around, and that the power crisis is here to stay. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USThe blackouts have worsened already dire economic and living conditions in the country, which sits on the world’s largest proven oil reserves. Power failures come alongside a political showdown between Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido, who is recognised as interim president by the United States and more than 50 other countries. Speaking on state television, Maduro said he had approved “a 30-day plan” to ration power. He did not detail how it would work but said there would be “an emphasis on guaranteeing water service”. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsMaduro also acknowledged that many Venezuelans could not watch his broadcast because they had no electricity. Crippled infrastructure, little investment in the power grid and poor maintenance have all contributed to electricity problems. A “brain drain” of qualified personnel has also hit the industry, with about 25,000 people in the electricity sector among the 2.7 million Venezuelans who have emigrated since 2015. Add to that the country’s deep economic crisis, which includes a soaring inflation rate. Earlier on Sunday, authorities announced other measures as a result of the electricity shortage. “To achieve consistency in the provision of electricity, the Bolivarian government decided to maintain the suspension of school activities and establish a workday until 2:00 pm in public and private institutions,” Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez said on state television. With no electricity, pumping stations can’t work, so water service is limited. Street lights and traffic lights go dark, pumps at fuel stations stand idle, and cell phone and internet service is non-existent. Children don’t have “a drop of water” to drink, complained Maria Rodriguez, a Caracas resident.
San Francisco: In a bid to take on Amazon Alexa or Google Home, Facebook is working on a voice-based assistant for its Portal video chat service and other future projects. According to a report in CNBC on Wednesday, the social network is “unclear how exactly Facebook envisions people using the assistant”. Facebook’s AI-enabled Portal video chat service currently uses Amazon’s Alexa. “We are working to develop voice and AI assistant technologies that may work across our family of AR/VR products including Portal, Oculus and future products,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. Also Read – Swiggy now in 500 Indian cities, targets 100 more this year Facebook last year shut down a chat-based assistant called “M” in its messaging app. According to the report, Ira Snyder, a general manager at Facebook Reality Labs, is working on the voice-assistant project. Facebook Portal and Portal+ video chat speakers come with Smart Camera and Smart Sound technology. Portal offers hands-free voice control. You can start a video call simply by saying ‘Hey Portal’ and noting who you’d like to call.
London: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will be sentenced Wednesday for breaching a British court order seven years ago, when he took refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden. The Australian whistleblower, who was arrested on April 11 after Ecuador gave him up, could face a 12-month prison sentence when he appears at Southwark Crown Court at 10:30am (0930 GMT). Assange fled to the embassy in 2012 after a British judge ordered his extradition to face Swedish allegations of sexual assault and rape, which he strongly denied. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince Salman ‘snubbed’ Pak PM Imran, recalled his private jet from US: Report He claimed the allegations were a pretext to transfer him to the United States, where he feared prosecution over release by WikiLeaks of millions of classified documents. There is no longer an active investigation in Sweden and the extradition request has lapsed. However, the 47-year-old is facing a US extradition request, which was only revealed following his dramatic arrest, when he was dragged shouting from the embassy by police. Assange appeared in court within hours of his arrest, and a judge found him guilty of breaching his bail conditions. Also Read – Iraq military admits ‘excessive force’ used in deadly protests Any sentence handed down on Wednesday is likely to take into account the past few weeks spent in jail. The biggest concern for his lawyers is the US extradition request. An initial hearing in the case is set for this Thursday. The US indictment charges him with “conspiracy” for working with former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to crack a password stored on Department of Defence computers in March 2010. Manning passed hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks, exposing US military wrongdoing in the Iraq war and diplomatic secrets about scores of countries around the world. Assange could face up to five years in jail if found guilty, although his team is fighting his extradition and the process could take years. The charge has raised serious concerns among organisations advocating free speech, including politicians such as British opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. WikiLeaks is also back in the news in the United States, over its alleged role in the leak of Hillary Clinton’s emails in 2016 US presidential election. The Swedish claims against Assange date back to 2010, when he was at the centre of a global storm over WikiLeaks’ exposures. The sexual assault claim expired in 2015, but while the rape claim was dropped in 2017, the alleged victim wants the case reopened. If Stockholm makes a formal extradition request, Britain must decide whether to consider it before or after that of the United States. A group of British lawmakers have urged the Swedish case to take precedence, saying the rights of the alleged victims must not be lost in the political row.
Kolkata: A person was killed and several others injured in a number of accidents in the city on Friday night till Saturday morning. A fatal accident was reported from second Hooghly Bridge under Hastings police station at around 12.03 am when the driver of a heavy goods vehicles died after his vehicle collided head-on with a container-laden trailer. The deceased, identified as Tribeni Yadav, was a resident of New Alipore. The driver of the trailer, Kamaleshwar Roy, sustained minor injuries and has been admitted to SSKM. Both the vehicles have been seized. In another accident at Hudco Crossing near Ultadanga, four persons including a driver were injured when an auto-rickshaw overturned at around 6.15 am on Saturday morning. The passengers and the driver were provided medical assistance at Maniktala ESI Hospital and later released. In another accident at Sarat Bose Road, a motorcyclist, identified as Jainal Abedin, was injured on being dashed by a private bus. The police are examining if the biker was wearing a helmet.
Rabat – The Committee of Finance, Equipment, Planning and Regional Development qt the House of Advisors rejected the finance bill 2014 after a no vote by the opposition groups. Fifteen Advisors voted against the bill, while six voted for it. It was submitted to the general meeting for approval after the remarks by the various groups and the government’s response.Speaking at the committee meeting, the opposition groups said the government which “has not honored the commitments made during the review of the finance bill 2013,” was unable to explain such a fact with clear and precise answers.”Parliament has not been associated with the development of this bill that it is now called upon to vote for, they said, questioning the way Parliament could contribute to the achievement of financial balance in accordance with Article 77 of the Constitution while it has not been requested to assist in the development process of the draft budget law.
By Al Jazeera EnglishIraq facing its biggest crisis since US forces withdrew in 2011, but President Obama did not announce a new US military commitment to Iraq in his statement on Thursday, June 12, 2014.
Rabat – Over 143,000 psychotropic pills were seized since early 2014 by the security services, said, on Wednesday in Rabat, Interior Minister Mohamed Hassad, underlining that Algeria “remains the primary drug supplier.”The year 2013 was marked by the seizure of over 450,000 pills, which made the Moroccan authorities intensify their efforts to eradicate this plague coming from Algeria, the minister recalled at a joint press conference with communication minister, government spokesperson Mustapha El Khalfi and minister delegate for the Interior Charki Drais, in response to statements by some Algerian officials on fight anti-drug.Underlining the fact that the Algerian authorities have officially recognized the development of the opium cultivation in Algeria, the minister urged this neighboring country to take the necessary measures to avoid that the drug reach Morocco as did psychotropic pills. He also called on the Algerian authorities to adopt a constructive approach to combat cross-border crimes, mainly drug trafficking, underlining that, in all cases, Morocco, as a responsible state, will remain confident and open in its approach.
Rabat- A video posted on Facebook and YouTube by fans of the football club Raja of Casablanca contains slogans supporting the terrorist group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Some Moroccans are calling the video “unprecedented,” especially because it includes the motto, “Allaho Akbar, Ila Al-Jihad”(“Allah is the greatest, towards Jihad”).Some Moroccans lacking a clear explanation for this unprecedented event, have called for an investigation by the competent authorities.However, some others have said that the video is a product of the hysteria of Raja fans and has nothing to do with the influence of ISIS. The video also showed many Raja fans cease using their common slogans and instead change them into the name of ISIS, indicating that they were simply having fun and the video was not intended to support ISIS, which represents a serious threat to the world.It is predictable, especially after this incident, that Raja’s next matches there will be accompanied by some kind of alarm and investigation.On the other side, the Rajawi association condemned what was posted on social networks, claiming that it encourages people to support ISIS.Noureddine El-Bachichi, the spokesman of Rajawi, told to Alyaom 24 that they condemn all that was shown on the video. He insisted that Raja’s real fans do not behave in such way, nor do they use ISIS mottos as encouragements. Real supporters go to the stadiums to support their team, and political slogans are not their concern at all.
Bamako – A Moroccan donation of 10,000 cattle semen doses meant to improve red meat production was handed on Friday to Mali’s rural development ministry.The ceremony was attended by Malian rural development minister Bocary Téréta, a delegation from the Moroccan Red Meat Producers Association (ANPVR) led by Zakaria Lamdouar, officials from the Moroccan embassy in Bamako and professionals from Mali’s breeding sector.The donation is an addition to the royal donation announced by King Mohammed VI during his visit to Mali in February 2013 and consisting of 125,000 cattle semen doses to ameliorate the country’s milk production. In addition to semen doses, Malian breeders benefit also from an important technical support under an assistance program by the ANPVR for Mali’s livestock genetic enhancement.
By Majid MorceliSan Francisco – If you ask any Moroccan citizen their opinion regarding the recent elections, the swift answer would be that they “are useless and will not change their quality of life. The poor will continue to be poor and the rich will get even richer.” However, if you ask any Moroccan politician the same question, their response would be: “we are making progress.”Oddly enough, both responses are correct. One important point the majority of Morocco’s voters fail to grasp is that the electoral process is not a magic wand that will make one’s life easier, or even better. The electoral process is simply a tool for people’s voices to be heard and to choose the right candidate to represent and advocate for them. Nevertheless, candidates do not want people to know this. And for that, they frequently resort to powerful but empty slogans and false promises to lure people to the ballot box to vote for them.We all know that even those with good intentions will eventually fail to deliver on the promises they made prior to the elections. Instead, why not be honest to their constituency and inform them that getting out to vote is the right thing to do? Why not tell them that they need to vote in order for the next generation of Moroccans to live in a democracy, free from bribery and corruption, and under the rule of law where everyone is treated equally and with dignity?Moroccan voters’ perception of elections needs to be corrected. They need to understand that their vote will have more weight to improve the lives of future generations. If they really care about their children and grandchildren, then they should not sell their vote, and instead make the candidates they vote for earn it. Many of us have left our homeland to live in democratic societies. Future generations will not have to follow this trend. They will remain in the country and help build a more free, prosperous, and democratic Morocco.King Mohammed VI himself asked Moroccans not to sell their vote for a dirham or two, and vote for the sake of the country’s future. The King understands very well that the monarchy will only survive in a democracy in a similar capacity to the monarchies that still exist in Europe.The voter, in turn, needs to understand that elections are the cornerstone of democracy and should not be a favor rendered for a few dirhams. Moroccans voters should be proud of what they have accomplished so far.When Algeria flirted with democracy in 1990, 250,000 Algerians ended up dead when the military regime suspended the electoral process. Recently, the military regime in Egypt led by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi did the same thing: and has not hesitated to kill thousands of his own people, imprison the elected president, Mohamed Morsi, and sentence hundreds to death.We, in Morocco, did not have to resort to violence to make our voices heard. These elections were not without a few reported setbacks here and there, but overall, we can safely say that Morocco is on the right path.It is no secret that the electoral system in Morocco, with 30 political parties, is conspicuously formed to generate no real winner. Still, Moroccans should start thinking about reforming this system, rather than thinking about which candidate will hand us more dirhams.Elections are the right tool to hold those who make decisions on our behalf accountable for their actions (or inaction, for that matter).In order for the people in Morocco to understand what’s at stake, a certain level of education needs to be present. Let’s hope that during the next elections, people will be educated enough to vote for the right candidate, the one who has the experience and the right intentions to speak on their behalf, and not the one who buys their vote.The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission
Casablanca – The ongoing civil war in Syria has forced many citizens to flee for their safety. Their flight is full of dangers, uncertainty, and fear. As Syrian refugees look for shelter and protection, it has become clear which countries support the homeless migrants and which countries have remained indifferent or limited.According to Time.com, more than four million Syrians have left their country. Not so long ago, the tragic death of Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi put Europe’s refugees crisis in the spotlight. Pressured by the global response, Europe is taking more action towards housing refugees.Since Germany currently has the largest share of Syrian refugees, Chancellor Angela Merkel is urging the other EU members to take in more refugees in order to prevent chaos. Although countries like Sweden are showing similar resolve to Germany and are taking responsibility in the crisis, more help and a Europe-wide solution for hosting refugees is still needed.The list* below shows an approximate overview of the numbers of Syrian refugees or offers asylum in each country.Countries that have taken Syrian refugees:Turkey: 1.9 millionLebanon: 1.1 millionJordan: 629,000Iraq: 249,000Egypt: 132,000Countries that provide Syrian asylum requests:Germany: 98,700Sweden: 64,700France: 6,700United Kingdom: 7,000Denmark: 11,300Hungary: 18,800According to the United Nations, these countries offer asylum:5,500 in Spain14,100 in the Netherlands,18,600 in Austria,8,300 in Switzerland15,000 in Bulgaria,2,143 in Italy3,545 in GreeceNorth America:United States: 1,500 resettlementsCanada: 10,000 resettlementsOther wealthy nations:Australia: 12,000 resettlementsEqually important to note, according to Amnesty International, other high-income countries, such as Russia, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea have not offered any resettlement to the Syrians.Gulf Countries:According to the United Nations, the Gulf nations have been supporting Syrians financially, but have not taken any refugees.Saudi Arabia: 0United Arab Emirates: 0Kuwait: 0Qatar: 0Bahrain: 0The Gulf states are among the few countries of the world that haven’t participated in the 1951 United Nations treaty on refugees. Furthermore, the agreement reads that it is mainly the West’s job to provide asylum to refugees from anywhere in the world. Therefore, countries like Saudi Arabia cannot be legally forced to provide refuge. Regardless of this fact, people all around the world point their fingers at them due to the lack of humanity they have shown.*Source of numbers by CNN
Casablanca – China seeks to import donkeys to use in the production of a traditional pharmaceutical. The sale of donkeys has grown profitable for Chinese sellers, with China’s supply of donkeys shrinking from 11 million to 6 million. The internal demand for donkeys has increased, and China is now seeking to more donkeys from around the world.A government official told the BBC that African countries have exported 80,000 donkeys this year, with almost a 200 percent increase compared to last year. The Chinese state news agency Xinhua News explained that donkey hides are used in China to produce a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) known in China as ‘Ejiao’. This medicine “is mainly taken by women who suffer from anemia, dry coughs or dizziness.”The same source continues that the Chinese annual supply of donkeys, 1.8 million, is insufficient to satisfy the Chinese market need of donkey-hide gelatin. Therefore, 40 percent of the product sold on the Chinese market is counterfeit.The counterfeit Ejiao is produced from the skin of mules, horses, pigs, and oxen but it costs around USD 30, while the donkey-hide Ejiao exceeds USD 450.This discrepancy in the cost is in part due to the fact that the fake Ejiao has unguaranteed side effects, which can cause pregnant women to miscarry, whereas the original one has proven effective for thousands of years.The Chinese news agency quotes Qin Yunfeng, a chairman at a company that manufactures high standards of Ejiao, as saying:“The government should support donkey breeders by offering subsidies to encourage more breeding.”
Casablanca – Achraf Ouchen, a Moroccan karateka, is the new silver medalist in the 84+ kg category. The Moroccan athlete lost the final of the competition to medalist Iranian Sajad Ganjadeh on Saturday October 29th in Linz, Austria.The Linz Karate World Championship brings together approximately 2,000 athletes and sports professionals from 135 countries.Ouchen is the first Moroccan to win a silver medal in the competition. Achraf, still a teenager at 19-years-old, qualified for finals after beating Andrei Grinevich from Belarus in semi-finals.Achraf had to face a few of the world’s most talented karatekas to reach that point. Ouchen scored 9-1 against Finnish Pyry Heiskanen in the first round, 1-0 against Belgian and Bryan Vanwaesberghe in the second round.Morocco could still win another medal at this 23rd edition of the Karate World Championships if Abdeslam Ameknassi wins bronze against the Azerbaijani karateka Firdovsi Farzaliyev. That game is set to take place today, October 29th, at 4 P.M. local time.