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Mahatma Gandhi comes to UN, an avatar provoking, prodding, inspiring ideas of true education

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 Mahatma Gandhi “came” to the UN Trusteeship Council chamber with the message of holistic education.

He came on Friday as a holographic avatar, to animate a discussion on “Education for Human Flourishing” at the UN’s observance of the International Day of Nonviolence.

And while he spoke of education creating new people and a world of peace, at the nearby Security Council chamber mighty nations were clashing over an intractable war and its violence.

India’s UN Mission and UNESCO’s Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP) brought him to the UN for the observance of the International Day of Nonviolence, and who better to learn nonviolence and the education for the creative change it inspires.

A lifesize, speaking, gesticulating presence on the stage, the avatar provoked, prodded and challenged a panel made up of an activist, a diplomat, a youth and an economist to delve into the meaning of education for humanity.

The avatar was created with digital graphic files merged with motion graphics to produce the high-definition hologram that spoke authentic, researched statements made by the Mahatma himself in the context of the topic.

The Mahatma Gandhi Digital Museum made the hologram to spread his message creatively, said Anantha Duraiappah, the director UNESCO’s Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP), who moderated the panel discussion.

The Gandhi avatar, bringing his words with vocal clarity, said that “education is merely an instrument, and an instrument may be well used or abused. The same instrument that may be used to cure a patient may be used to take his life”.

“We want to provide only such education as would enable the student to earn more. We hardly give any thought to the improvement of the character of the educated. Schools and colleges and really a factory of turning out clerks for the government,” Gandhi’s words reverberated.

“On the contrary, real education consists in drawing the best out of yourself. What better book can there be than the book of humanity?”

The Gandhi avatar also questioned the value of even literacy if it is without values.

“Literacy is not the end of education or even the beginning,” the avatar repeated his words.

For him, education meant “an all-round growing” bringing out the best in the child’s “body, mind and spirit”, spiritual training and “education of the heart, the training of the Spirit”.

India’s Permanent Representative Ruchira Kamboj, who was a panellist, summed it up saying that Gandhi “was very big on holistic education” and “education for the upliftment and dignity of all”.

The New Education Policy introduced in India reflects this approach with an emphasis on “holistic development across the sciences, social sciences, arts, humanities and sports” blending “the systems and traditions that have been a part of the rich legacy of India”, she said.

The policy “lays special emphasis on the socially and economically disadvantaged groups” and facilitates “multiple pathways to learning involving both formal and non-formal education modes” with a lot of emphasis on digital education platforms”, she said.

Bernice King, the daughter of Gandhi-inspired civil rights icon Martin Luther King, said that for her father the “chief aim of education was to save people from the morass of propaganda”.

He said that education’s “function, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and critically, but if it stops with efficiency, it may prove the greatest menace to society”.

“We must remember that intelligence is not enough Intelligence plus character is the true goal of education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate,” she quoted him.

Bernice King said that the current education system is “doing a disservice to our young people and to our society, because we’re not developing people, enough people who have the level of compassion and courage and conscientiousness to create a just, humane, equitable and peaceful world”.

But changing the education system is going to take “some radical action” when a “critical mass of people decide, let’s organise, mobilise and strategise and begin to make demands”.

She said in the footsteps of Gandhi and King, the people would have to resort to nonviolent resistance and noncooperation to bring about the change.

Princess Hayu, the daughter of Sultan Hamengkubuwono X of Yogyakarta, Indonesia, and youth representative on digital education transformation, said that “each culture has its own local wisdom” even though the underlying values are universal.

“That cannot be forgotten, so that has to be continually taught as well because otherwise we are just going to blend in and by becoming just one identity we lose our identity,” she said.

Omar Hilale, the Permanent Representative of Morocco said, Gandhi inspired the “constitutional building of our nations and of the United Nations” because “his notion is that peace can be achieved in a very unique manner, nonviolently and with extreme courage, and sacrifice and tolerance”.

International News

China protects four key 26/11 perpetrators from UN sanctions

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 China continues to defy the other members of the Security Council and the overwhelming anti-terrorism sentiments by protecting from UN sanctions four key leaders of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) that carried out the 26/11 Mumbai attack.

Fourteen years after the attack that killed at least 166 people, Beijing works with Islamabad to undermine anti-terrorism measures against Pakistan-based terrorists behind the carnage.

The four from LeT who got China’s umbrella this year were the group’s commander Sajid Mir, who orchestrated the 26/11 attack; deputy chief Abdur Rehman Makki; deputy chief of the LeT front Falah-I-Insaniyat Foundation Shahid Mahmood, and LeT commander Hafiz Talha Saeed, who is LeT chief Hafiz Muhammed Saeed’s son.

China also put a hold on sanctions on the Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group’s deputy leader Abdul Rauf.

China had initially allowed eight LeT leaders to be sanctioned, four in the month after the 26/11 attack, and four later, before taking a hardline in support of other LeT leaders in a show of solidarity with Pakistan.

“Our efforts to sanction the perpetrators and facilitators of these terror attacks were blocked in the past for political reasons,” India’s Permanent Representative Ruchira Kamboj said last week at the Security Council.

“These actors continue to walk free and have been organising further cross-border attacks against my country,” she said.

US Permanent Mission’s Political Coordinator John Kelley at the same meeting regretted that only one entity was added to the sanctions list this year and said, “The important work of this committee must remain free from politicisation that only benefits the terrorists.”

The committee paralysed by China’s intransigence was only able to add Khatiba al-Tawhid wal-Jihad, a terror group operating in Syria to the sanctions list this year, while the LeT leaders and another Pakistan-based terrorist have been spared.

The Security Council’s panel, known as the 1267 Sanctions Committee for the resolution setting it up, places individuals and groups under sanctions that include travel bans and financial restrictions for terrorist activities involving the al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and affiliated organisations like the LeT.

The committee includes all the 15 members of the Security Council and gives every one of them the right to place a hold on sanctions, which amounts to a veto.

When the Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) met in Mumbai last month, an audio clip of Mir directing the 26/11 terrorists at the Jewish centre was played to focus on the role of the terrorist under Beijing protection at the UN.

At the CTC’s special session in the terrorists’ killing field, the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said, “The key conspirators and planners of the 26/11 attacks continue to remain protected and unpunished.”

This, he said, “undermines our collective credibility and our collective interests” and until “the masterminds and perpetrators of this attack” are brought “to justice, this task remains unfinished”.

In a video message to the meeting, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “That is what the US has been working to do, together with India and other partners for the last 14 years because when we allow the architects of these attacks to go unpunished, we send a message to terrorists everywhere that their heinous crimes will be tolerated.”

In the first flush of global fury against the horror of the 26/11 attack, China in December 2008 did not stand in the way of sanctioning LeT boss Saeed, operations head Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, finance chief Haji Muhammad Ashraf and financier Mahmoud Mohammad Ahmed Bahaziq.

Later, four others from the LeT were added to the list: Muhammad Arif Qasmani and Mohammad Yahya Aziz in 2009, and Hafiz Abdul Salam Bhattvi and Malik Zafar Iqbal Shahbaz in 2012.

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International News

Lt Gen Asim Munir named Pakistan’s new army chief

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The Pakistan government on Thursday announced that Lieutenant General Asim Munir will replace General Qamar Javed Bajwa as the country’s new Chief of the Army Staff (COAS).

Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, using his Constitutional right, has also appointed Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC), reports Geo News.

Aurangzeb added that the summary of the appointments has been sent to President Arif Alvi for ratification.

The decision was announced after the Prime Minister held a federal cabinet meeting to mull over the appointments after the allied parties authorised him to pick the officers for the top slots, Geo News reported.

Both the officers picked for the slots were the senior-most military officials.

Although the summary has been sent to the president, who belongs to the PTI, the coalition allies had warned him beforehand that he should avoid being loyal to his party and work in the interests of the state.

In his conversation with reporters after the meeting of the federal cabinet, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif also confirmed that the summary has been sent to the president.

“All the matters have been settled in line with the Constitution of Pakistan and hopefully the president will not create a controversy,” Asif said.

The minister added that he expects President Alvi to approve the premier’s advice.

He also expressed hope that the said appointments would not be viewed politically.

The minister refused to comment on PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s consultation with President Alvi over the matter.

He said that the Pakistan Air Force, navy, and army shouldn’t be made controversial.

Asif said that a detailed press release regarding the development will be issued.

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International News

Turkey plans to produce flour from Russian wheat to supply poor nations: Erdogan

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 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that his country planned to produce flour from Russian wheat for free delivery to the least developed countries.

Erdogan said he had agreed with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on such a plan, in an effort to tackle the global food crisis, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Putin made the following offer to me, ‘Let’s send this grain to the least developed countries, that is, to the poor countries for free’. We agreed too,” the President was quoted as saying on Monday on his flight back from Qatar.

“We even made such a plan that we will buy the wheat if necessary, make it flour in Turkey, and then send it to the least developed countries,” he added.

On July 22, Russia and Ukraine separately signed a document in Istanbul with Turkey and the US to ensure grain and fertilizer supplies to the global market amid Moscow’s ongoing invasion of Kiev.

The deal was extended last week for another 120 days.

Since July, nearly 11.2 million tonnes of essential foodstuffs have been shipped.

However, 300,000 tonnes of Russian fertilizer remain stranded in various European ports, according to UN Conference on Trade and Development Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan.

Ankara says it has been making efforts to pave the way for the resumption of Russian grain and fertilizer export to world markets as well.

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