QBullet: Right To Pray, Top Post for Indian Military and More

It’s a win for ‘Right to pray’, Govt is all set to create the top post for Indian military, NIT was once harmonious.

7 min read
Bhumata Brigade chief Trupti Desai offering prayer at the Shani Shingnapur temple after the gates were opened for women, in Ahmednagar on Friday. (Photo: PTI) 

1. Shani Temple Lifts Ban on Women

Shani Shingnapur temple’s 400-year old tradition of not allowing women the right to offer prayers at the ‘chauthara’ (sacred platform) or touch the deity finally came to an end on Friday, reports The Times of India.

Pushpak Kewadkar and Priyanka Jagtap, two women activists from Bhumata Mahila Brigade, a splinter group of the Trupti Desai-led Bhumata Ranaragini Brigade, climbed to the platform and performed a puja around 5 pm. Desai, who has been spreading the campaign for entry of female devotees at Shani Shingnapur and other shrines in the state for six months, reached the temple with her supporters at 6.30 pm. 
The Times of India Report
As she offered milk and oil to the idol a few women, mostly villagers, wept seeing the end of a “tradition they were proud of”. Villagers had foiled attempts by several women activists to enter the restricted area before and on 2 April, despite a high court ruling on 30 March. But the old tradition of performing an ‘abhishek’ using holy water on Gudi Padwa hastened matters.

Read the report here.

2. Government Set to Give Permanent Status to Top Post in Indian Military

The post of permanent chairman, chiefs of staff committee (COSC) — a four-star officer who will be the single-point military adviser to the Centre – is set to be created by the government after PM Modi’s approval next week, reports Hindustan Times.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Chief of Army Staff, General Dalbir Singh Suhag, Vice Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral P Murugesan and Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Arup Raha pays homage at Amar Jawan Jyoti on the occasion of Kargil Vijay Diwas. (Photo: PTI)
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Chief of Army Staff, General Dalbir Singh Suhag, Vice Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral P Murugesan and Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Arup Raha pays homage at Amar Jawan Jyoti on the occasion of Kargil Vijay Diwas. (Photo: PTI)

Recommendation for such a post was made four years ago by the Naresh Chandra task force on higher defence reforms.

The government envisages the permanent chairman to have a two-year tenure and equivalence in rank and protocol with the army, navy and air force chiefs of staff. 
Hindustan Times Report
Selected on the basis of merit and from any of the three arms, the officer will be responsible for all military hardware acquisition processes, tri-service command in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, cyber command, special forces, and for inculcating “jointmanship” within the forces for optimum utilisation of resources.

Read more here.

3. Once Upon a Time in NIT

Not long ago, locals and non-locals from Srinagar’s NIT knew how to manage their differences, “and even bonded in solidarity – as in the 2014 floods”, recounts The Indian Express.

Police outside the NIT campus. (Photo: PTI)
Police outside the NIT campus. (Photo: PTI)

The Indian Express’ Nirupama Subramaniam, spoke with NIT students away from the overbearing television news camera and on conditions of anonymity.

At the time of the floods, there was only humanity. There was no national, anti-national, there was nothing like that, no Hindu-Mulsim thing. There were only human beings and everyone else.
Third year student from outside Kashmir

Former students acknowledge the impact of incidents like JNU’s sedition row in NIT Srinagar.

Read the full report here.

4. Prime Minister Modi Asks for First Report on Panama Papers Revelations in 15 Days

Prime Minister Narendra Modi called a top government official within six hours of returning from his three-nation visit in the early hours of 4 April, and sought the first report on The Panama Papers, 15 days after it appeared in The Indian Express.

Mossack Fonseca law firm sign is pictured in Panama City, April 4, 2016. (Photo: Reuters)
Mossack Fonseca law firm sign is pictured in Panama City, April 4, 2016. (Photo: Reuters)
The Prime Minister had returned 1.30 am early morning on 4 April. He called the official around 7-7.30 am to express his concerns about the report and was quite clear in his mind that the issue must be probed quickly. He was certain that the matter should not be referred to the Special Investigation Team on black money. Instead, it should be looked at by a small group of domain experts. Lastly, he wanted to be briefed about the issue at the earliest.
A senior government functionary to The Indian Express

PM Modi was of the view that the SIT on black money “may take its own time to study the offshore entity route and arrive at conclusions”, the daily reports.

Read full report here.

5. Former Home Secy ‘Gagged’ From Questioning India’s Secularism

A lecture by former Union Home Secretary Madhav Godbole on the topic ‘Is India a Secular Nation?’, was cancelled reportedly due to its tone and the questions he was planning to raise, according to a report in The Times of India.

Sources said Godbole was invited to deliver the BG Deshmukh memorial lecture by state chief secretary Swadheen Kshatriya, the honorary chairman of IIPA’s state wing. Godbole has delivered the BG Deshmukh memorial lecture twice before. This time, he chose the topic ‘Is India a Secular Nation?’, an issue also dealt with in his forthcoming book. He was asked for a copy of his speech in advance to circulate among audience members, as is the practice. This was sent to the organisers on 11 March, sources said.
The Times of India Report
However, on 1 April, Godbole was informed that the lecture had been cancelled as it coincided with the ongoing budget session of the assembly. However, the date for the event had been picked by the organisers, who are expected to be aware of the state government’s schedule.”

Godbole’s lecture included references to the demolition of the Babri Masjid, the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi, the 1992-93 Mumbai riots and the post-Godhra violence.

Read the full report here.

6. BJP Tries its Own Social Engineering

The BJP replaced part chiefs of five states on Friday, two of them heading for elections soon.

The appointments are being viewed as Amit Shah’s efforts at partially restructuring the party’s social outlook, notes The Times of India.

  • Former Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa was rehabilitated as the BJP’s state chief. Yeddyurappa was a “big factor in the party’s success in installing the first saffron government in south India, but whose position diminished because of corruption cases and manoeuvres of factional rivals.”
  • Keshav Prasad Maurya, who represents Phulpur, is a Kushwaha, a horticulturalist caste belonging to the OBC category, was appointed BJP’s Uttar Pradesh in-charge.
  • The charge of Punjab was given to Union Minister Vijay Sampla, a Dalit who worked as a loader in a mandi before going to the Gulf as a plumber.
  • OBC member, K Laxman, was appointed as president of the unit in Telangana, the country’s youngest state.
  • Former party MP Tapir Gao was appointed the new BJP chief in Arunachal Pradesh.

Read the full report here.

7. Civil Lines Hit-and-Run Car Has a Murky Past

The car involved in the Civil Lines hit-and-run case had earlier been “slapped with five challans in the last eight months for offences such as ignoring traffic signal, speeding, unauthorised parking and negligent driving”, reports Hindustan Times.

Meanwhile, Delhi Police arrested the Mercedes car owner whose minor son allegedly knocked dead a 32-year-old marketing executive in north Delhi’s Civil Lines area. Delhi Police officials said the businessman was aware that his son was taking out the car and did not restrict him.

Also Read: Why We Need to Watch the Mercedes Hit-and-Run Video

8. Opinion | BJP and the Middle Class – Patriotic Slogans Cannot Take the Place of Effective Governance: Pavan K Varma

In his column for The Times of India, a former diplomat and now JD(U)’s Rajya Sabha MP, Pavan K Varma wonders “how the educated middle class in our country is reacting to the increasingly shrill debate on ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’.”

While patriotism has an appeal to all sections of society, what we are seeing today is a supra-nationalistic, chauvinistic, macho, even xenophobic nationalism that is inherently autocratic and dismissive of democratic dissent, with little time for fine print or any other point of view.
The Times of India Report
If acche din are so clearly not here, will the exhortation to chant ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’ be enough to douse middle class disappointments? Perhaps, if the economy was booming, and jobs and incomes growing, Modi as messiah, with a functioning magic wand in his hand, could have motivated this class towards artificially simulated patriotic fervor. But, in the absence of such a milieu, the middle class is more likely to demand accountability on governance deliverables that verifiably impact its life. Forcing people to say ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’ sounds hollow when this class perceives that there is little else to say Jai about. 

9. Opinion | The Modi-Sharif Opportunity: Mosharraf Zaidi

Indo-Pak peace talks must continue to be resilient against disruptions in the normalisation process, writes Pakistani Diplomat Mosharraf Zaidi in The Indian Express.

What Sharif and Modi need to realise is that the only new element in the relationship is their resilience thus far to ordinary and extraordinary disruptions to the normalisation process. The shadow of Pathankot and the arrest of Kulbhushan Yadav is the first time that these disruptions exist simultaneously on both sides of the border. If Modi and Sharif are serious about their brands as shapers of a new regional dynamic, they have an unprecedented opportunity to show it. Are they up to the challenge? 

Read his take here.

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