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Strength I gained living in Himalayas still within me: Modi

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Modi to feature on Man Vs Wild

New Delhi, Aug 13 (IANS) British adventurer Bear Grylls, who hosts the popular Discovery Channel show “Man Vs Wild”, has mentioned about how Prime Minister Narendra Modi has actually spent time in the jungle as a younger man, citing the experience as the reason why he showed no apparent discomfort when he was out shooting for the extreme adventure show.

Indeed, in a special episode of the show shot at Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand and aired on Monday, Prime Minister Modi remained calm in the face of the adversities that nature tossed at him.

For the 45-year-old adventurer, Prime Minister Modi’s composure despite extreme weather might have been a revelation. However, those in the know, recall his sturdy phase in the younger days – the two years he spent in the Himalayas in search of God – which Grylls mentioned as his time spent in the jungle as a younger man.

Not much is known about those two years. Now, some details have emerged about that time in the Prime Minister’s life. According to Kalindi Randeri, author of “Narendra Modi: The Architect Of Modern State”, he was irked by family issues, which is why he decided to embark on a journey to the Himalayas to seek the truths of life.

Randeri writes in her book: “One dark night Modi left his home and simply vanished away.”

For the next two years, Modi stayed in the caves of Himalayas as a monk, she writes, and during this time, he met another monk there.

The monk asked him his reason for wandering in the Himalayas and Modi replied that he was there in search of God.

Then the monk told Modi he was too young, and that he did not need to wander in the Himalayas in search of God. He could find God by serving people and society.

So, Modi returned among people, but not to family life.

At the age of 17 in 1967, he went to Belur Math and became an ascetic. There he met Swami Madhavananda.

The Prime Minister terms those two years in the Himalayan wilds as an urge to understand the spiritual world.

“I was 17 or 18 when I left my home and was thinking about what to do next. I was trying to understand the world and wanted to see the spiritual world. Then, I stayed in the Himalayas, amid nature. It was a wonderful experience,” he said.

Subsequently, Modi started his political career and joined Bharatiya Janata Party. The rest is history.

On Monday, the Indian secret service had closed the airspace at Corbett so Grylls had to get down from his helicopter at one point and walk for 6.4 km to meet Modi. He waited for two hours to meet the Prime Minister, and was anxious about taking him into the jungle, given its wet and cold conditions.

Prime Minister Modi, however, was in no mood for anxiety. Out on his jungle adventure, his calm demeanour all through made one think that, perhaps, memories of those two years of his youth in wilderness, searching for God, played in his mind all along and egged him on in his new adventure.

“The strength that I gained after my stay in the Himalayas is still within me. I met people who believed in minimalist living and leaving no carbon footprints,” Modi said at one point.

He said he was happy to spend time with Grylls and go for a new experience.

“Bear is taking me to a Jim Corbett mission. It is a wonderful journey. Jim Corbett is perfect for people looking to spend time with nature, mountains, river and wildlife. There’s so much ecological diversity. India is a diverse country with over 100 languages, and 1,600 dialects,” he said, finding the essence of the multicultural motherland in the diversity of nature.

Trekking through the wilds brought back flashes of Modi’s childhood. He recalled his humble beginnings.

“I come from a small place in western Gujarat. I was born there, grew up there, studied there and then started working for public welfare. I hail from a normal family – a small life with mother and father. We were not financially strong and I studied in a government school. But there was always connect with nature.”

Bear asked if he was a good student, to which the Prime Minister laughed and said: “I can’t say I was a good student.”

Modi’s connect with nature, even at a young age, was not just about his personality. It was about survival, too, as is evident in an anecdote he shared, revealing how his family at times did not have money to buy soap. “We lived in a dry region. During winter, dew gets gathered and forms a layer of salt in such places. We used to collect it and soak it in warm water and use it as detergent even for taking bath,” Modi said.

The Prime Minister also said that he didn’t have a great life growing up.

“Dirty clothes were normal for me, but for school, I used to dress up perfectly. We didn’t have an iron, so I used to iron my school uniform by collecting coal and burning them, and then putting them in a utensil to use it as an iron on my uniform,” he said.

“My father had a small tea stall. I used to help him by going to the railway station to sell tea before going to school. The railways played a very important role in my life.”

There were the fun moments, too, as Prime Minister Modi made an improvised spear along with Grylls. “Oh, so this is your weapon!” he chuckled at Grylls.

Was he scared? “God takes care of you. Sab uparwaale ke bharose chhod do (leave everything to the almighty),” he said.

Clearly, he was enjoying his oneness with nature. It was, in his own words, his first holiday in 18 years, since he had taken over as Gujarat Chief Minister all those years ago.

“I was CM of a state and worked for the state for 13 years. It was a new journey for me. Then the country decided to do this (the Prime Ministership) and I am doing. My focus is on development and I am satisfied to see where it is going. If I treat this experience as my vacation, then this would be my first vacation in 18 years,” he revealed.

Does he think about his powerful position? “In my mind, I never think of what I am. Whether I am a CM or a PM, I only think about my responsibilities and work, not my position,” he replied.

The talk once again veers back to his childhood and, quite in sync with the wild rendezvous, come up the mention of the time when Modi, as a boy, took a crocodile home.

“We used to take a bath in a pond, and once I found a baby of a crocodile and for it home. My mother asked me to take it back, so I took it back,” he reminisced, adding: “One should never fear nature. When we think of conflict of nature, the problems start. When we were young and it used to rain, my father used to get 25-30 postcards despite our financial crunch and used to write to relatives about the rains in our place. We used to wonder why he used to do it. We understand the importance of rain today.”

His childhood, he added, taught him to love nature. “Nature was a big part of life. In fact, my father’s mother, who was uneducated, once asked my uncle, who wanted to start a business of selling wood for the stove, not to do that business. It was because she believed that there are living creatures in wood. ‘We will die of hunger and work hard, but not sell wood’, she told him. Environment was an intrinsic part of growing up,” he said.

Did he ever get nervous? “My problem is that I have never felt this emotion. So, I can’t explain it. Kabhi nirash nahi hota,” he said.

His message for the younger generation? “Don’t look at life in pieces, but as a whole with ups and downs.”

As Modi crossed the river in an improvised raft, Grylls exclaimed he would probably be the first Prime Minister in a 100 years to do so!

The Prime Minister seemed to enjoy every bit of his wild experience at Corbett. Although he did mention this did not feel anything new, since he had lived in the Himalayas this way.

Cities

Man held for duping over 20 women on matrimonial sites

He used to target middle-aged unmarried/widowed/divorced women on matrimonial and dating sites and after befriending them on the pretext of marriage, he used to take money from them.

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New Delhi, Aug 17 (IANS) A 46-year-old man has been arrested from Meerut for allegedly defrauding over 20 women through matrimonial and dating sites, police said on Saturday.

The accused Gaurav Dhamija, a car spare parts dealer, mostly targeted widowed or divorced women and projected his virtual identity as a handsome, successful entrepreneur earning Rs 25-30 lakhs per annum.

“We had received a complaint at the Cyber Crime Unit/CyPAD, in which the complainant alleged that she has been defrauded by a fraudster who tricked her into depositing money after she showed interest in his very impressive profile on a matrimonial site. The fraudster, Dhamija, trapped her through a volley of emotional tricks such as calling the victim ‘Mrs Dhamija’ and promising to buy expensive gifts for her,” said Anyesh Roy, DCP (Cyber cell).

Police said that once the victim was emotionally trapped, he started asking for money on various pretexts such as parents’ treatment, business investment and other.

“The accused started with small sums and gradually escalated his demands. He kept asking for money but always avoided coming forward in real life. The victims kept paying him due to escalation of their commitment. It was only when the fraudster’s act became too brazen that they started demanding their money back, only to be threatened with dire consequences,” said Roy.

On the basis of the complaint, a case under suitable sections was registered and investigation was taken up, police said.

“During the course of investigation, technical details, including the digital footprints were collected. The accused, who is a resident of Nihal Vihar, Delhi, kept changing his location to evade arrest. His movements were tracked to Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and western UP. Finally, with the help of technical data and field inputs, the fraudster was arrested from Meerut,” said Roy.

During interrogation, he disclosed that he used to target middle-aged unmarried/widowed/divorced women on matrimonial and dating sites and after befriending them on the pretext of marriage, he used to take money from them.

“When they demanded the money back, he used to threaten them with dire consequences. It was also revealed that he also used to cheat some of these women by promising to get them jobs in schools and municipal bodies and used to take huge sums from them,” said Roy.

Police said they have found names of more than 20 victims disclosed by the accused who have been cheated by him. The victims are being identified and contacted to join the investigation.

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Education and its economic outgrowths

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73rd Independence Day PM address
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the Nation on the 73rd Independence Day from the ramparts of Red Fort, in New Delhi on Aug 15, 2019. (Photo: IANS)

In his Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted the issue of population explosion in the country and the need to address it. He added education as a means of both moderating the trend of rising population and making them productive as well. Development trends throughout history have shown that as literacy levels go up, fertility rate falls and economic growth is easier to achieve. The latter is due to the fact that with education, child progress takes place at a faster rate making the future generation of workforce more productive.

Keeping this in view, the National Education Policy (NEP) is updated regularly to ensure equitable access to high quality education to the children of the country. The most recent, NEP 2019, is still in the public domain for wider consultations. Since the country’s independence in 1947, Indian government has always sponsored a variety of programmes to address the problems of low levels of literacy rates in rural and urban India alike.

The first NEP was formulated in 1968. Based on the reports and recommendations of Kothari Commission (1964-1966), the Indira Gandhi government called for radical restructuring and equalizing educational opportunities to achieve national integration along with greater cultural and economic development. This policy laid the groundwork for all the other education policies that followed it.

Focusing on compulsory education for all children till the age of 14 years and introducing the policy which promoted the three-language formula (promoting learning of regional language), it gave way to the next educational policy, National Education Policy 1986. This policy, under the Rajiv Gandhi government focused on the inclusivity of the Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) by promoting scholarships, incentives to poor families, and recruiting more teachers from the backward classes.

Due to such initiatives, India has been on track of an improved and inclusive educational condition that our society requires to provide to our next generation. Literacy rate since the time of Independence has increased from 18.33 per cent (Census 1951) to 74.04 per cent (Census 2011). In the decade between the last two Census’ alone, the country’s literacy rate shot up by 14 percentage points.

On the other hand, gender disparity has still been an area that the existing policies have not significantly influenced. As reported by Census 2011, there is a wide gap between the literacy rates of males (80.9 per cent) and females (64.60 per cent). This gap is also a leading cause for the population explosion that the country has experienced through its impact on family planning. Despite the best government efforts through initiatives like ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’, the trend has persisted.

Along with such issues of basic literacy, India’s education system will also need to address the problem of employability. Each year the Annual Status of Education Reports (ASER) reveal the learning deficit of Indian students beginning at the level of elementary schools. The last report found that more than half of Class V students can only read texts meant for Class II. Such deficiencies will impede the country from achieving optimum productivity levels in the long run.

The NEP 2019 emphasises on these as well as many other obstacles in achieving a better education system and looks to achieve a plethora of goals in the next decade. Starting from early childhood care and education, NEP 2019 aims to achieve quality education for children between 3-6 years and ensures that every student in Grade 5 and beyond would achieve literacy and numeracy by 2025. The policy also aligns itself with the Goal 5 of SDGs by aiming to achieve universal Gross Enrolment Ratio in schools as well as universal youth and adult literacy by 2030 after extending the Right to Education Act from pre-school till Grade 12.

Along with these, NEP 2019 also considers that the government bodies and policy makers do have a huge role to play. First, it emphasizes on increasing school governance by organizing schools into school complexes ensuring availability of infrastructure, resources and people. Second, it plans to establish an apex body, the Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog, which would act as the custodian of the vision of education in India headed by Prime Minister. Third, the higher studies institutions would have autonomy on academic, administrative and financial aspects of their institutes. Finally, the policy would also catalyse research and innovation across the country through the formation of a National Research Foundation.

The implementation is still key in deriving the desired outcomes through the NEP, but it sets the required agenda on achieving child progress and, through it, a moderation in population growth and robust economic growth in the future. By increasing the importance of co-curriculars as well as vocational training, for instance, it would provide a child with a multi-disciplinary background, which might be the need of the hour in an increasingly mechanised world. The effect of these initiatives will only be realised over the long run but a timely shift in narrative towards better education outcomes was necessary and a commensurate policy shift is welcome at this time. The India of the future demands it.

(Amit Kapoor is chair, Institute for Competitiveness. He can be contacted at [email protected] and tweets @kautiliya. Abhinandan Menon, researcher, Institute for Competitiveness, has contributed to the article)

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Kerala records first arrest in triple talaq case

Speaking to IANS, a police officer attached to the Mukkom Police station near Kozhikode said a 34-year-old man – E.K. Hussam – was arrested.

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Triple Talaq

Kozhikode (Kerala), Aug 16 (IANS) The police in Kerala on Friday arrested a man for giving triple talaq to his wife. The arrest was based on the Narendra Modi government’s The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill.

This is the first-ever arrest in the southern state since the passage of Triple Talaq Bill. According to the bill, an instant triple talaq in any form — spoken, in writing, or electronically, is illegal and void.

Speaking to IANS, a police officer attached to the Mukkom Police station near Kozhikode said a 34-year-old man – E.K. Hussam – was arrested.

“He was arrested following a warrant issued by a court in Thamarassery. Hussam had divorced his wife by pronouncing ‘talaq’ thrice on August 1,” the police officer said, requesting anonymity, .

“The woman then approached the court and filed a petition. Based on that, the court had issued an arrest warrant,” he said.

The police officer said Hussam was presented before the Thamarassery court after his arrest on Friday.

The Triple Talaq Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on July 25, 2019, and by the Rajya Sabha on July 30, 2019.

Punishment for breach of the law by the husband could be up to three years of imprisonment.

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