Mumbai: Actress Sonam Kapoor, who is gearing up for the 69th Cannes Film Festival, says she doesn’t get “starstruck” by other celebrities at the red carpet. It doesn’t matter which part of the world you are from whether you are white, brown or black everybody is the same so I don’t get starstruck unless I really respect the person,” Sonam told IANS. If I meet Barbra Streisand or someone like that then I will be star struck or else just celebrities don’t impress me,” she added. Asked if she gets intimidated by western stars walking the red carpet, Sonam said: “I am so tall so when I walk, it’s completely different because I wear really high platform heels. So, I think it’s very difficult for anyone to intimidate me because they are like so small but I don’t get intimidated by people because people are just people”. The actress who has been elegantly blending the Indo-Western look at Cannes refrained from talking about her look at this year’s festival. However, she said that her ensemble will have “some Indian element”. What I will be wearing that I don’t know yet… It’s a secret. But I am the proudest Indian you will ever see. I love India and I love everything that’s Indian, so even if I don’t want an Indian designer, there will always be an inspiration. I will have some Indian element which represents India,” the “Neerja” actress said. The 30-year-old mentioned that she doesn’t like to take stress before walking the red carpet. It’s always better to not be stressed and it’s always better to have a glass of Champagne before you go to the red carpet. I don’t drink, though, so this year I don’t know what am I going to do. If I was really as stressed about what people think about what I am going to wear, then I don’t think I would be recognised for my fashion,” she said. The very reason I started getting recognised as fashionable was that I just was out there and wore what I wanted to and people appreciated that. That’s when this whole revolution of fashion started,” the “Prem Ratan Dhan Payo” star added. Does she intend to take her films to Cannes some day? “‘Neerja’ was something that we were thinking of taking to some festival but it doesn’t work in terms of release. Usually, festivals want an exclusive and worldwide release for their platform and it’s difficult to give it the kind of promotion… Especially a film which is going to do well in India,” Sonam said. I don’t know if commercial films work, but yes, if there is something special then I want to take my film to the international platform and showcase it. I wish certain things change at festivals where you can showcase films which don’t get a release there,” she added. Sonam who has recently launched her own app called ‘Sonam Kapoor’ promises that she is going to do a lot of things through that platform. I am going to do a lot of stuff with the app for sure everything is going to be posted on it videos, tutorials, what is happening at Cannes and a lot of promotions are going to be done through Cannes,” she said. This will be Sonam’s sixth year at the Cannes Film Festival as the global brand ambassador of L’Oréal Paris. She will be seen walking the red carpet on May 15 and 16. The 69th annual Cannes Film Festival is scheduled to be held from 11 to 22 May. [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section] // ]]>


Prime Minister Modi’s visit to UAE was a path breaking event. Engaging with UAE was a priority agenda in terms of foreign policy objectives for India. Definitely, India’s Look West policy has not been as successful as its Look East policy. Driven by India’s security and strategic needs in the region, which also includes furthering her economic and political objectives there was an urge to engage diplomatically with UAE. From the Defence point of view since both nations are also connected by the Arabian Sea, rendering the security of the sea and the Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC) are significant areas for naval diplomacy. Other areas of cooperation include countering illegal activities such as smuggling of arms, supply of narcotics and drugs, and movement of criminal elements in the sea. India and UAE had shared good relations in the past and had signed a defence cooperation agreement in 2003 that focuses on bilateral cooperation on military training, cooperation in military medical services and jointly combating pollution caused by the military at sea. Regular naval exercises take place between India and the UAE. Economically, UAE is a lucrative market for Indian goods ranging from textile to spices. Investment opportunities through mutual cooperation are also immense especially in the field of infrastructure development. Also, there is a need to counter Chinese outreach in the region and curtail Pakistan’s presence in the region.   The Highlights of the Visit When Modi addressed the Expat Indians at the cricket stadium the highlight became the plot of land which was granted by the UAE government for building the temple in Abu Dhabi. In United Arab Emirates Prime minister Modi announced various schemes for the welfare of the diaspora, which includes the launching of the e- migrant portal to help Indian migrant workers and an online platform ‘MADAD’ to assist the diaspora. Also, under the new scheme the Indian expats in trouble can now get financial help, including those to fight legal cases. UAE has also proved to be a diplomatic partner on the international forum as it has supported the cause of India’s permanent seat in UN Security Council. They have called for international co-operation and intelligence sharing in counter-terrorism operations. They have also proposed to work together for the adoption of India’s proposed Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the United Nations. In terms of furthering the economic ties UAE has promised to invest $75 in India. The money would be distributed through the establishment of the UAE- India Infrastructure Investment Fund, which will support the buildings of railways, ports, roads, airports and industrial corridors. The growing requirement of the international diplomacy demands the greater levels of engagement on these crucial issues.   The real issues In the entire sound show highlighting the symbolism of the temple, the real issues got blurred. At the heart of the issue is the migrant misery. The 2.2 million Indian labourers are bonded by the unique contract system “Kafala” that takes away their basic rights. These are contract migrants” and the government doesn’t take responsibility leaving their fate to “sponsors” that include individuals and companies. The 50000 strong crowds who cheered Modi do not adequately represent the plight of these bonded workers. The Indian community is by and large these labourers — those who are kept on the margins by both the natives and wealthier Indians, and not those seemingly rich expatriates that most of us are familiar with. PM failed to look into the demands of these workers. According to S Iruydaya Rajan, who has been studying migration to the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Countries) for years at the Centre for Development Studies (CDS) in Thiruvananthapuram, quotes a Government of India study in India Migration Report 2012 to highlight the pitfalls of this system: alteration of the original provision of the labour contract after arrival, denial of salaries and other benefits, and pushing skilled employees to unskilled labour. According tohim, arbitrary reduction of salaries and non-payment for months is very common, and the (civil, criminal and labour) laws are totally in favour of the native employer. For the labourers who work for 10-12 hours a day, have no decent access to healthcare, and are forced to live in camps that are plainly inhuman the idea of temple is of no priority. Also, the whole promotion of temple land is just a way to promote pride and is away from the distant realities. The most exploited are those who work in households (such as maids and gardeners) because local labour laws don’t acknowledge them at all. The worst, however, is the practise of confiscation of passports by employers that make their lives really bonded. In such situation the e-portal is of little use. It would have been a success if Modi could have worked out policies for these people who did not constitute the glittery crowd of the stadium but those who were sweating and working at some construction site. [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section] // ]]>


Kabbadi has come a long way from the villages of Punjab to become an international sport. It is played in several states in India. It is the national sport of Bangladesh  and Nepal.  It is now being played in over fifteen countries. But it is still a long way to become an Olympics game. One of the main reasons is the abuse of drugs by players from the state which often leads on Kabbadi, Punjab.
The Olympics Governing Body has told the Kabbadi lobby that they need to be played with unitary rules in 75 countries before they can be considered for the Olympics. There are attempts to spread the game around the world in order to make a serious bid.
It is enthusiastically played in India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Japan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Iran, Korea, Argentina, Canada, U.K, Italy, China, Trinidad and Tobago, and Australia. In UK England, Scotland and Wales have their own teams.
But one of the issues holding back a serious bid to become an Olympics game is the extent of drugs being used in the game. There is apprehension that too many players may fail the strict drugs test to qualify at Olympics. Enthusiasm for the game is sullied by the reputation it has achieved as a drug infested game.
In the last ten years there are numerous examples of doping. In March 2010, 13 members of the Indian national team were dropped because they tested positive to banned drugs. The incident both shocked and shamed the country.
But soon after, in November 2011, BBC reported that 18 out of some 45 players had tested positive to banned drugs at the World Kabbadi tournament. The players were from various countries including the US, Australia, Canada, the UK, Norway, Italy, Argentina, Spain and Germany.
In January 2014, several players from outside India failed to turn up for the annual Kabbadi tournaments. Jagdish Bholla, a cop turned drug lord, had given the names of several players doubling as ‘mules’ who smuggle drugs. These players were put on the watch list, to be arrested as soon they landed in Punjab.
The latest scandal in Kabbadi was Amritpal Singh Matta, a police officer and renowned international player in Kabbadi. He admitted to taking drugs since 2008 but blames the police force, in which he works. He blatantly claims that he started taking drugs from within the police stations. He has been suspended from duty.
These are only some of the reported cases. But when 25% of a team is tested positive for prohibited drugs, the game needs serious cleaning up. And when players are accused of being drug mules, the game naturally comes under the scanner. Its chances of gaining status at the Olympics is almost zero.
Drugs have taken over the lives of Punjabis. They are everywhere. Not only in Punjab, but almost everywhere around the world where Punjabis go, drugs seem to find a foothold. Both the regional and national Government need to come with a comprehensive programme to address them. While drugs have taken many lives in India, their widespread prevalence in the Kabbadi players of India is enough to take strong action to eradicate drugs from South Asia.
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It’s horrifying, it’s shameful, it’s ugly! A Khap Panchayat (a village council) of Baghpat district of Uttar Pradesh in India recently gave orders to rape of two sisters when their elder brother eloped with a married woman belonging to a higher caste. This unelected village council ordered that a woman, 23, and her sister, 15, should be raped and paraded naked with their faces blackened in the villages. The Khap reportedly consists of an upper caste male members who belong to rich Zamindar community of the village. The horrifying orders made by the Khap members have come across as a shocked and has evoked severe criticism from the media, social activists and other members of the country.
The khap diktat caused global outrage and criticism. The village council has now denied ever giving the orders of rape as a punishment for the sisters.
As soon this decision passed, both sisters and their family, from reported to be from a poor family belonging to a Dalit caste that the village believes to be inferior, fled the village. The family is rumoured to be hiding in New Delhi. In an interview to the Daily Mail UK, one of the sisters named Meenakshi described her plight. “I can’t sleep, I’m very scared. How will we ever return home or to our village? If we ever return they will harm us or rape us. If not today then in the future. Jats never forget and they will not forget this humiliation. They want their revenge,” said Meenakshi, in the interview to Daily Mail.
The Case
This family is living in a secrete place in New Delhi. It all started when the villagers learnt about Ravi Kumar (25), elder brother of the two sisters, being in a relationship with Krishna (21) a girl from Jat community. When families of this couple found this case, they tried their level best to keep the two apart. Relatives asked them to end the relationship as soon possible as they would never be allowed to be together.
Sibling of Ravi, Sumit Kumar (28) who live in Delhi said, “’It’s shameful that people still living in caste system. I am still in shock that the Khap panchayat could be so disgusting. I knew it was going to be bad, I knew our family would be in trouble but I never expected this. The situation is getting worse and I do not see any hope.”
When police asked village council about their order they denied saying, “We have not ordered naked parade order but we are not agreeing with this marriage.”
Amnesty International, whose online petition to save the two women was signed by more than 250,000 people, said they would not withdraw their petition despite the latest developments. “We will continue to push for protection for the family including both sisters. Our concern is their safety and rights.” Amnesty India women’s-rights campaigner Gopika Bakshi said.
In Court Supreme Court of India has ruled that these village councils are illegal and citizens are not bound to follow their decisions. The family has appealed to the Supreme Court for protection and Sumit has written to the Prime Minister, Chief Minister, Human Rights Commission, Schedule Caste Commission, but, no one has come forward to help him yet.
Police has earlier sent Ravi into prison in case of forceful marriage, but, he was soon freed on bail. “These cases happen often in rural India. After media attention local politicians have come forward but still the family are in danger. But these cases would not happen in this country if the police act appropriately and did their job. The government officials have a duty to stop such atrocities,” said Rahul Tyagi, Ravi’s lawyer. “No one has seen the girl from May 2015, so we are trying to ensure her safety and trying to produce her before the court,” added Ravi
Caste Case
The case has once again confirmed the regressive mindset and casteism prevalent in the rural India. Despite the constitutional changes, several villages are yet to change their mentality. According to the figures presented at the International Dalit Conference in Canada in 2003, nearly 90 per cent of all poor Indians and 95 per cent of all illiterate Indians fall in the community that is considered as backward by the peer villagers.
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The Voice of The Faceless


A report by Acid Survivors Trust International (London based Charity organization) reveals that there have been 1,500 acid attacks worldwide. These attacks have been done by family members or jilted lovers. The victims report that they are ostracized by the society and the pain that they have to go through can’t be expressed in words. They say that they have to fight the pain physically first and then emotionally and financially.Many are left blind and deaf.
Laxmi, a brave acid attack survivor who volunteers for NGO ‘Stop Acid Attacks’ asks, ‘where is the law?’ Sonali Mukherjee who also works for this NGO was attacked while she was asleep; the acid burned and disfigured her face. Her attackers were released after serving three years in prison. India has no official statistics to show the number of attacks, but to get to hear them often in the media. Which itself is a proof that there is no law to protect women and if any women tries to protect themselves then they will be attacked in the cruelest way possible.
Supreme Court of India passed a law that prohibits the sale of acids unless the seller makes a record of the buyers. According to this law the victims have to be paid $1,400 (Rs 88955.23). The victims should be paid at least third of their compensation within fifteen days of the attack. Here again there is no implementation of the law regarding the sale of acids that are used as household and industrial cleaners, since it is available at throwaway prices and nobody questions the intent of its purchase.
India Real Time (an online digital news portal by Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones) reports that the Supreme Court has given the State authorities a three months deadline to implement the new rules regarding the sale of acids that are used for the attacks.Supreme Court has instructed Indian states and Union territories to issue licenses to the retailers who sell acids. Shops have to keep a record of the buyer’s address and the quantity sold. Photo-identification will be required to purchase acids that will soon be categorized under poison. Those below 18 years will not be allowed to purchase acids like hydrochloric, sulphuric and nitric acids. These acids burn flesh and are available just at twenty rupees. A register or logbook should be there to control the over the counter sale of acids in the first place. Retailers have to report the amount of acid stocked to the police, if they fail to do so then the undeclared stock will be confiscated and the shop owners will be charged 50,000 rupees. Strict laws and punishments can only prevent the menace of acid attacks.
As per recent reports there are about 35 acid attack victims in Delhi and chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has taken a decision to give them government jobs based on their qualifications and work experience.Those who are visually impaired and face problems to move around  will be hired as per their convenience. The Kejriwal government has instructed the services department to consider the applications by acid attack victim survivors on priority basis. These positions may be permanent or contractual. A committee will be formed to look into their needs. This decision comes as a result of representation by acid attack victims who are looking out for government jobs.
The Supreme Court has also directed private hospitals to provide free of cost treatment to the acid attack victims. The treatment covers costly plastic and corrective surgeries. A social justice bench headed by Madan B. Lokur and U.U Lalit states that hospitals should also provide free medicine, food and other facilities to the acid attack victims.
Alok Dixit, the founder of the NGO ‘Stop Acid Attacks’ said that these new rules shouldn’t be taken as a victory sign unless they are implemented and enforced properly. He is sure that the States and Union Territories will buy more time to control the sale of acids. Then there is corruption which acts as a hindrance to law enforcement in the country. He doubts that government can control acid attacks within three months. However, he welcomes the change in the law that is targeted towards the acid attack victims. In maximum cases women are the victims of acid attacks and the acid is generally thrown on the face to disfigure or maim them. Laxmi who was attacked in 2005 reports that these laws are not implemented since the proposals for attackers to compensate the victim was completely ignored.
There are brave women who despite being attacked don’t feel ashamed to face the society. After all it is not their fault. Another reason why acid attack goes unabated is that most women under these kinds of stress find it difficult to speak for them. It is high time that government comes forward to protect these victims against the remorseless attackers. Such cowardice and heinous crimes can only be curbed by spreading awareness. The Indian government has to understand that the victims are the citizens of the state who enjoy same rights as any other citizen.

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