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India wants to focus on connectivity to Buddhist sites: PM Narendra Modi



New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation, in New Delhi on June 30, 2020. (Photo: IANS)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of Asaadh Poornima and the inauguration of the Dharma Chakra Day, on Saturday, said India wants to focus on connectivity to Buddhist sites to improve tourism.

The Prime Minister’s remark came at a time when the country is passing through its worst economic phase and needs improvement in all sectors including tourism to attract revenue.

“We want to focus on connectivity to Buddhist sites. A few days back the Indian cabinet announced that Kushinagar airport will be an international one. This will bring people, pilgrims and tourists,” Modi said.

Addressing through video conferencing, Modi said he is very hopeful about the 21st century and this hope comes from young friends. He lauded the efforts of youths in start-up sectors saying, “If you want to see a great example of how hope, innovation and compassion can remove suffering, it is our start-up sector led by our youths,”

Noting that bright young minds are finding solutions to global problems, the Prime Minister said India has one of the largest start-up eco-systems and I would urge my young friends to also stay connected with the thoughts of Lord Buddha so that they could be motivated and find the way ahead.

The Prime Minister said that the event is also known as Guru Purnima. “This is a day to remember our gurus who gave us knowledge. In that spirit, we pay homage to Lord Buddha,” PM said.

“The eight-fold path of Lord Buddha shows the way towards the well-being of many societies and nations. It highlights the importance of compassion and kindness. The teachings of Lord Buddha celebrate simplicity, both in thought and action,” He said.

Buddhism teaches respect for people, the poor and women, for peace and non-violence. “Therefore, the teachings of Buddhism are the means to a sustainable planet.”

“In his very first sermon in Sarnath, and his teachings after that, Lord Buddha spoke on two things — hope and purpose. He saw a strong link between them. From hope comes a spirit of purpose,” the Prime Minister said.

Talking of the fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Prime Minister said the world is fighting against this virus with extraordinary challenges. To these challenges, he said, lasting solutions can come from the ideals of Lord Buddha. “They were relevant in the past. They are relevant in the present. And, they will continue to remain relevant in the future.”

“May the thoughts of Lord Buddha further brighten togetherness and brotherhood. May his blessings inspire us to do good,” the Prime Minister added.

This day is also aptly observed as Guru Poornima by both Buddhists and Hindus as a day to mark reverence to their Gurus. The day is celebrated as Dharma Chakra Day by the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC), under the Ministry of Culture. This day commemorates Buddha’s First Sermon to his first five ascetic disciples at the Deer Park, Rsipatana in the present-day Sarnath near Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.

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Farm laws: Narendra Singh Tomar accuses Cong of U-turn on LS poll manifesto



Narendra Singh Tomar. (File Photo: IANS)

In the wake of protests by farmers and different political parties against three new agriculture-related laws, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Tuesday accused the Congress of a U-turn on its own manifesto in the 2019 parliamentary elections.

“During the release of the 2019 Lok Sabha election manifesto, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had mentioned the abolition of the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) system and promotion of contract farming. The Congress and other opposition parties are now instigating the farmers to oppose the laws,” Tomar said while addressing a virtual meeting of the Bihar BJP leaders in Patna.

Meanwhile, Bihar Agriculture Minister Prem Kumar told IANS: “We are giving clarifications on the new farm laws just because the opposition parties are misleading farmers to agitate.”

About the Shiromani Akali Dal’s (SAD) opposition to the new legislations, he said: “The SAD leaders are also involved in misleading farmers. The laws are meant to break the monopoly of middlemen in the agriculture sector. Unfortunately, they (SAD leaders) are on the side of middlemen. They are just doing politics and don’t care for the interests of farmers. They are not presenting positive points of the legislations before the farmers.”

Kumar claimed that the opposition by farmers would not impact the Bihar Assembly elections as the APMC Act was abolished in the state in 2006.

Bihar’s 89 per cent population lives in the rural areas, whereas 76 per cent is directly or indirectly dependent on the agriculture sector for livelihood.

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Rajnath Singh launches startup challenge to promote self-reliance in defence sector




Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday launched a startup challenge to achieve self-reliance in the military sector under the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ campaign.

Singh launched the Defence India Startup Challenge (DISC 4) featuring initiatives aimed at expanding the horizons of the Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) ecosystem.

“The iDEX4Fauji initiative and the Product Management Approach (PMA) guidelines were also launched by the Defence Minister during the event. Each of these initiatives is expected to facilitate iDEX-DIO to scale up the programme qualitatively and quantitatively,” the Ministry of Defence said in a statement.

It is a first of its kind initiative launched to support the innovations identified by the members of the Indian armed forces and will bolster frugal innovation ideas from the soldiers.

There are more than 13 lakh service personnel working in the fields and on the borders, handling extreme conditions and equipment and would be having many ideas to improve such equipment.

“iDEX4Fauji would open this window and allow our soldiers to become part of the innovation process and get recognised and rewarded. Services headquarters will provide support to the soldiers and field formations all over the country to ensure maximum participation,” the ministry said.

Singh said that for the first time, an atmosphere has been created in the country where different stakeholders have been brought together to push for innovations in the defence sector.

“In order to further strengthen our defence system and make it self-reliant, the participation of the private sector is crucial. For this we have taken certain steps like partnerships with the private sector, technology transfer, 74 per cent FDI through automatic route and the recently released negative list of 101 items for import ban after a stipulated period,” the Defence Minister said.

Singh also said that on Monday, the government launched the defence acquisition procedure which seeks to encourage the private industry to participate in the defence sector.

He also urged the armed forces to make full use of the Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO) platform to meet their technological requirements.

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Task cut out for Kamal Nath & Cong in MP, Gujarat bypolls




Political stakes are high for former Chief Minister Kamal Nath in the bypolls for 28 Assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh and for the Congress in neighbouring Gujarat, where eight seats are vacant.

All these seats were in Congress’ kitty after the Assembly elections, but slipped out of its hands after the party MLAs resigned — in Madhya Pradesh, they opted to support Jyotiraditya Scindia in March 2020 and walk into the camp of a waiting BJP to ensure the fall of the then government led by Kamal Nath; and in Gujarat, they resigned to ensure the defeat of the Congress nominee in the contest for the second Rajya Sabha seat in June 2020.

The Congress will need to bag all the 28 seats in Madhya Pradesh to again get a majority in the Assembly, which is a tough task. The party has already announced 24 candidates.

On the other hand, the ruling BJP needs only nine seats to reach the magic figures of 116. In case the Congress wins less than 28 seats but manages around 24, it will still be in the game. Otherwise, it will have to depend on Independents, two MLAs of Bahujan Samaj Party and the lone Samajwadi Party MLA.

In the 230-member Madhya Pradesh Assembly, the BJP has 107 MLAs, Congress 88, BSP 2, SP 1 while 4 are Independents.

“The Congress will come back to power again. We will defeat the BJP on these seats. The people will give a befitting reply to those who dishonoured the public mandate and murdered democratic values,” Kamal Nath said.

Congress leaders Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh are visiting each of the 28 Assembly segments to ensure their party’s victory, though it remains to be seen what they can do since most vacant seats are in the Gwalior-Chambal belt — considered a Scindia stronghold.

However, the Congress is banking on the fact that the belt has a sizeable population of Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs). The party is also hopeful of reaping the public goodwill due to waiver of farm loans announced by then Chief Minister Kamal Nath and the ongoing agitation by the farmers over the new farm laws.

In Gujarat, the Congress MLAs had resigned, which led to the defeat of Congress leader Bharat Singh Solanki on one Rajya Sabha seat. Had all these MLAs remained in the Congress, it could have won the second RS seat in Gujarat as well.

Congress leader Rajeev Satav, who is in-charge of Gujarat party affairs, said, “I will meet leaders of various frontal organisations, cells and departments and district presidents of the Congress. Looking forward to having substantial discussions with the party leaders and workers.”

Apart from Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, seven Assembly seats are also vacant in Uttar Pradesh, two each in Jharkhand, Karnataka, Manipur, Nagaland and Odisha, and one each in Chhattisgarh, Haryana, and Telangana.

Besides, one parliamentary seat in Bihar and two Assembly seats in Manipur will also go for bypolls on November 7. The counting of votes will be take place on November 10.

The EC has decided not to hold by-elections in seven constituencies in four states. Polling for these seats will be held early next year.

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