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Indonesia, India can learn inter-religious harmony: Envoy

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New Delhi, Aug 10: Ahead of the first India Indonesia Interfaith Dialogue (IIID) to be held in the Southeast Asian nation in October, Indonesian Ambassador to India Sidharto R. Suryodipuro said that both countries can learn about inter-religious harmony from each other.

“Both of us have something to share in terms of how we manage pluralism while we strengthen tolerance, inter-religious harmony,” Suryodipuro said in response to a question by IANS during an interaction with a group of journalists here organised by the Indian Association of Foreign Affairs Correspondents.

“Both India and Indonesia are countries that are quite successful in managing pluralism in a democratic setting,” he said.

Indonesia is home to the world’s largest Muslim population. The first IIID will be held from October 3 to 5 in the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta.

Observing that both Indonesia and India have a complex ethnic make-up, Suryodipuro said: “We also can learn from each other on what we are doing to strengthen this.”

He was also of view that both countries can also have a message that can be sent to the international community on how to manage pluralism and tolerance.

“Out of this dialogue, we can also have something concrete come out in terms of what we should be doing internally, what we should be doing with our youth and others,” he said.

The Ambassador said that in Indonesia itself, there are over a dozen or more such kind of dialogues.

“And we have been undertaking it since the early 2000s,” he said.

Suryodipuro also said that Indonesia and India are enjoying one of the best periods of bilateral ties in 70 years of their diplomatic relationship.

Bilateral trade stood at $20 billion last year, the highest ever.

The Ambassador said that while half a million Indians visited Indonesia last year, 40,000 Indonesians visited India.

He also said that both India and Indonesia share the same view on the Indo-Pacific regional architecture and recalled Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s keynote speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue, the Track I annual inter-governmental security forum organised by the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), think tank in Singapore in June.

In his speech, Modi highlighted the centrality of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) region in the Indo-Pacific region.

Indonesia is the largest country in the 10-nation regional bloc.

In terms of defence cooperation, Suryodipuro said that both Indonesia and India are in the process of laying down the groundwork.

“For example, we have been holding the coordinated patrol between Andamans and North Sumatra for over a decade,” he said.

“But that had not expanded. Now, it is starting to expand into naval exercises as well as the other services of the armed forces.”

The Ambassador said that both sides are looking at other than exercises, how they can exchange information better, how the members of the respective services can be sent for training in each other’s countries.

Also underlining the importance of the soft side in the bilateral relationship, he identified things like “connectivity, infrastructure, trade, people-to-people connectivity and more student exchanges.”

IANS

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Anna Burns wins 50th Man Booker Prize for ‘Milkman’

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Milkman

London, Oct 17: Anna Burns from Northern Ireland has won the 2018 Man Booker Prize for her third novel “Milkman”. She won the much coveted 50,000 pound award for her timely, troubles-set novel about a young woman being sexually harassed by a powerful man.

Burns, 56, became the first Northern Irish winner of the award and accepted the prize at a ceremony at Guildhall here late on Tuesday.

She is also the first female winner since 2012, when Hilary Mantel took the award with “Bring Up the Bodies”.

Booker’s chair of judges, the philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah, said that the novel is “incredibly original”.

“Milkman” is narrated by an unnamed 18-year-old girl, known as “middle sister”, who is being pursued by a much older paramilitary figure, the milkman.

“None of us has ever read anything like this before,” said Appiah, announcing the prize.

“Anna Burns’ utterly distinctive voice challenges conventional thinking and form in a surprising and immersive prose. It is a story of brutality, sexual encroachment and resistance threaded with mordant humour.”

Written in lengthy blocks of paragraphs, eschewing character names for descriptions, Appiah admitted that “Milkman” could be seen as “challenging, but in the way a walk up Snowdon is challenging. It is definitely worth it because the view is terrific when you get to the top,” he said.

Previous Irish winners, including John Banville, Anne Enright and Roddy Doyle, all come from the Irish Republic.

Burns beat writers including American literary heavyweight Richard Powers, Canadian Esi Edugyan and Daisy Johnson, at 27 the youngest author ever to be shortlisted for the award.

According to Appiah, the judges, picking from a shortlist that delved into some dark themes, were “unanimous” in their choice of winner — and not influenced by concerns that picking a third American winner in a row could cause controversy.

Burns, who was born in Belfast and now lives in East Sussex, drew on her own experiences growing up in what she called “a place that was rife with violence, distrust and paranoia”.

As the milkman presses his advances on the reluctant middle sister, rumours begin that she is having an affair with him.

Milkman also spoke to the concerns of today, Appiah said. “I think this novel will help people think about #MeToo … It is to be commended for giving us a deep and subtle and morally and intellectually challenging picture of what #MeToo is about.”

First awarded in 1969, the Man Booker Prize is recognised as the leading award for quality literary fiction written in English.

Its list of winners includes many of the giants of the last five decades, from Salman Rushdie to Margaret Atwood, Iris Murdoch to J.M. Coetzee.

The prize has also recognised many authors early in their careers, including Eleanor Catton, Aravind Adiga and Ben Okri.

No Indian authors were longlisted or shortlisted for the 50th edition of the prize.

IANS

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Pakistan hangs 6-year-old Zainab’s killer

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Imran Aliv Zainab killer
Policemen escort Imran Ali as the suspect leaves an anti terrorism court. (File Photo- AFP)

Islamabad, Oct 17: Pakistan early on Wednesday hanged a man convicted for the rape and murder of six-year-old Zainab Ansari in January.

Imran Ali, who was arrested after her body was found in a garbage dump, was executed in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat prison, police said.

Zainab’s father and other relatives were present. Zainab’s father, Amin Ansari told the BBC after the execution that he was “satisfied”.

“I have seen his awe-inspiring end with my own eyes. They dropped him on the gallows, and let his body hang for half an hour,” he told reporters.

The case, the most heinous in a string of similar child murders in the city of Kasur, had sparked outrage and protests in the country.

Zainab disappeared on January 4 and her body was found five days later in a rubbish dump. She would have been 7 years and 2 months old if she was alive, said Ansari, who expressed regret that authorities did not televise the hanging.

Ansari’s earlier appeal for Ali to face a public hanging was dismissed by the Lahore High court.

Police said there had been several similar child murders in the past two years in Kasur but her killing proved to be a tipping point.

It triggered widespread outrage, including protests complaining of police incompetence. Two people were killed in the ensuing clashes.

Zainab’s family had said the police did not take action during the five days from when she was reported missing until her body was found.

Relatives, not police, had recovered CCTV footage of her last movements.
It showed a girl being led away by a man. Widely circulated on social media with the hashtag #JusticeForZainab later went viral, with many Pakistanis calling for action.

On January 23, 24-year-old Imran Ali was arrested using a DNA match. He was sentenced to death in February for Zainab’s rape and murder.

His appeals against the verdict failed and earlier in October President Arif Alvi rejected a plea for clemency.

IANS

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US strike in Somalia killed 60 militants, Pentagon says

This was the deadliest air strike since November 2017 when 100 militants were killed, the statement added.

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The US military says it believes some 60 al-Shabab militants were killed by one of its air strikes in central Somalia on Friday.

The “precision” strike around Harardere did not injure or kill civilians, it added in a statement.

The US said the attack was carried out as part of a joint effort with Somali forces to hit the al-Shabab group.

Al-Shabab, which is linked to al-Qaeda, has not yet commented.

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