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When Gandhi inspired a generation of freedom-fighters

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Bengaluru, Sep 30 : As the Father of the Nation and a hope for thousands of people during the first half of the 20th century, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948) was a source of inspiration for a generation of freedom-fighters to leave homes, studies, jobs and give up a cosy life to free India from the colonial yoke, fondly recalled 102-year-old freedom fighter Harohalli Srinivasaiah Doreswamy, marking the Sesquicentennial of the Mahatma.

“I had the honour and privilege of seeing and meeting Gandhiji for a couple of times in Bengaluru during the freedom struggle and joined his non-violent movement to free the country from the imperial rulers under his guidance and phenomenal leadership,” a Spartan Doreswamy told IANS in an exclusive interview here.

Going down the memory lane, Doreswamy said he met Gandhiji for the first time in mid-1930s when he was a teenager at a state-run guest house in Bengaluru where he was staying to recuperate from a bout of illness at the behest of then Mysuru Maharaja Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar.

“Though Gandhiji visited the city a couple of times earlier on return from South Africa in 1914, first in May 1915 to unveil the portrait of Poona-based Gopala Krishna Gokhale, who was his political mentor in the Lalbagh botanical garden, it was his second visit in 1924 that created a buzz in the city, as he was by then became a popular face of the freedom struggle in the southern region,” noted Doreswamy.

As a high school ward initially and a college student subsequently, Doreswamy heard a lot about Gandhi by word of mouth, listened to his voice in radio and read about him in the vernacular press those days.

“As I was curious to see Gandhiji and listen to his talk on the fight for freedom, my elder brother H.S. Seetharam took me to Kumara Krupa guest house for the prayer meeting one evening in 1936 when I was 18 years and he (Gandhiji) was 67 years old. He spoke in Hindi and English. His memorable words were translated into Kannada by noted scholar D.V. Gundappa for those un-familiar with either language,” recounted Doreswamy.

A reading of Gandhi’s book “My Early Life” influenced a young Doreswamy to plunge into the freedom struggle, giving up studies and an easy life. What started as a trickle in cities and towns across the country, turned into a mass movement with thousands of young people joining Gandhiji’s freedom struggle.

“I had an opportunity to meet Gandhiji again the same year (1936) when he was staying for about 40 days atop the Nandi Hills on the city’s northern outskirts. As there was no public transport, I shifted to Chikkaballapur from Bengaluru and stayed at a relative’s place so that I could often go up to the nearby Hills on foot to attend the prayer meeting and listen to his talks. I used to climb hundreds of steps briskly to be in time for the meeting and sit closer to him,” Doreswamy recollected.

In one of his speeches then, Gandhiji recalled his political guru (Gokhale) advising him to first travel across the country on foot, cycle, bullock carts, buses and trains (Class III compartment) for interacting with the people and know the ground realities than joining a political party (Congress) and resorting to sloganeering against the British Raj.

“Though there were no mikes or loudspeakers those days at all places where Gandhiji spoke, I used to sit in the front circular rows around him to catch every word of him in shrill voice so that we could note down and tell others who were behind or were late for the meeting,” pointed out the centurion.

When Gandhiji gave the “Quit India” call and launched the final movement against the British Raj in August 1942, Doreswamy was arrested in December the same year and was kept in the Bangalore central jail for 14 months till March 1944 as a detainee.

“I was inspired by Gandhiji so much that he had a great influence on me. In his book ‘My Early Life’, I was touched by his call to hug poverty and render voluntary service to the poor and needy. His words had a lasting effect on me to live a frugal life,” said Doreswamy.

The last time the veteran freedom fighter met Gandhiji was in December 1947 in Mumbai after India got independence on August 15 at a Congress rally.

“Gandhji’s death on January 30, 1948 in New Delhi was a shock to me because I could not believe that someone could even think of shooting him, as he was a noble soul and lived for others,” added Doreswamy.

Doreswamy, born on April 10, 1918 near Mysuru, about 150km northwest of Bengaluru, joined the freedom movement when he was in the intermediate college in Bengaluru during the mid-1930s. He was arrested for joining the Quit India movement along with his brother and other freedom fighters.

“Though we were caned and treated badly by the British, we followed Gandhiji’s ideals of non-violence and satyagraha,” reminisced Doreswamy.

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Air India employees receiving PF dues within 30-60 days

Once the management is satisfied that there are no dues pending from the employee, the Company Contribution is also released accordingly”, Air India said.

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Air India 777

New Delhi, Sep 19 : National carrier Air India has clarified that it had already deposited the TDS and the PF dues for superannuated employees which are being released within 30-60 days.

There have been reports that Air India has defaulted on the deposit of TDS and PF dues since January this year.

Responding to IANS queries, Air India said it has already deposited the TDS.

“Distribution of Form 16 is also under process”, it added.

On the PF dues of employees, the national carrier said they are receiving them within 30-60 days.

“All our employees, getting superannuated, are receiving PF dues generally within a period of 30-60 days. The Employees’ contribution is paid at the initial stages after retirement- usually within a period of 30 days.

The Company’s Contribution is disbursed usually within 60 days after superannuation, depending on clearance and NOC by various departments like Finance, Personnel, Security, Vigilance.

Once the management is satisfied that there are no dues pending from the employee, the Company Contribution is also released accordingly”, Air India said.

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Centre to buy aircraft worth Rs 250 cr for weather forecast

It is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Earth Sciences. Through this nodal agency, the people will get information about the weather.

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Preparing for Landing

New Delhi, Sep 19 : The government is planning to use more hi-tech methods for accurate weather forecast. Union Minister Harsh Vardhan said there is a plan to purchase an aircraft at a cost of Rs 250 crore, which will help in accurate weather prediction in different parts of the country.

The Ministry of Earth Sciences, Ministry of Aeronautics and Technology is planning to purchase this aircraft. The information was given by Minister of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Dr. Harsh Vardhan in written reply to a question in Lok Sabha on Friday.

On Friday, an MP in the Lok Sabha had asked whether the government is considering a proposal to buy a special aircraft for conducting experiments related to the weather forecast.

Answering this question, Harsh Vardhan said that his Ministry is considering purchasing a special research aircraft for atmospheric process studies in the country. Equipped with scientific equipment, the cost of this aircraft system can be Rs 250 crore.

Harsh Vardhan said the aircraft is likely to be used to solve various atmospheric research problems in weather, atmosphere in different parts of the country. This will help with meteorological cloud physics data.

The minister said that apart from this, it can also be helpful in the evaluation of air pollution assessment and studies related to health, need, climate environment and hydrology.

He said that Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) Pune will work as the nodal agency for this entire scheme.

It is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Earth Sciences. Through this nodal agency, the people will get information about the weather.

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Chinese imperialism poses incurable threat to the world

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Xi Jinping

New Delhi: Two viruses have taken over the world. One, a minuscule creature called Covid-19, has killed more than 8,00,000 people around the globe, but is slowing down and will most likely be eliminated in the coming months.

Vaccines have already been developed against it and once inoculated, citizens of the world can expect to go on with their normal lives. However, it is the second virus, that of Chinese imperialism, which poses a long term and a much more potent and incurable threat to the world at large.

China’s shadow looms large over the world. Not only geopolitically, but also in the economic and cultural realms, the Chinese are attempting to remake the world as per their conception of a master-serf relationship. Though in international relations, politics, economics and culture are interrelated, it is important to discuss them separately in order to bring out the nuances of Chinese imperialism.

The age of colonisation and imperialism ended for good in the wake of the breakup and reordering of the international order. This order was based on liberal principles of free trade, respect for international law, prevalence of democratic norms and a security architecture underlined by the presence of two superpowers. Intra and inter country disputes did happen but they were generally localised at best or limited to particular regions.

It is only with the entry of China on the world stage in force that global disruptions have started to manifest themselves brutally. The 2008 financial crisis decimated economies of the West and the East Asian Tigers but China emerged unscathed, riding on the success of its impervious wall which prevented (and still prevents) foreign investments unless approved by the Big Brother Xi. China by then had established mass manufacturing bases in major parts of the country and unimpeded by human rights or basic minimum wages, yoked its population to work tirelessly. The end result: China now mass produces everything from a needle to an airplane.

This has enabled it to dump its produce on other countries initially through the pretensions of free trade (now censored by the WTO) and later through the mega-ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). BRI has been used by China to weasel its way through national sovereignties like a hot knife through butter. Pakistan and Sri Lanka are best examples of what international observers euphemistically call “Debt Trap Diplomacy” but in reality is a gross usurpation of national authority.

China’s tentacles, unlike Covid-19’s, reach far and wide. In fact, Europe faces a double whammy of being repeatedly hit by the coronavirus and China almost simultaneously. With access to the Piraeus port of Greece, China has already started dumping products of all kinds in the European Common Market system. Italy’s untimely submission to Covid-19 was also made possible due to its proximity to the Chinese trading system. After all, Covid-19 and China have become synonymous with each other. In terms of politics, China has undertaken a multi-pronged attack across international borders of many countries.

India has been the first to bear the brunt of Chinese Janus-faced policies of illegal aggression on one hand, while calling for normalisation of trade and other relations on the other. However India is not the only one. The US faces a challenge of another kind. There is a real threat of China’s disinformation campaign affecting the outcome of the US elections in November.

China’s Thousand Talents Program has already ensured massive theft of data and exclusive technology from the US, the latest being Zhengdong Cheng of College Station, Texas who has been charged with making false statements and hiding his affiliations to the PLA. With Taiwan, China is playing the waiting game, pushing its ships and jets closer to the island nation with every passing week under the garb of exercises. Hong Kong for all matters has stopped existing as an autonomous region with only its nomenclature remaining unchanged.

China has also been active on the cultural front. The various China Study or Culture Centres opened in a number of countries act as both espionage and propaganda centres. There is a proactive effort to disseminate Xi Jinping Thought, a constricting ideology that aims to cement the Chinese President as the centre of China’s absurdist and all-encompassing universe.

The number of mushrooming Confucius Institutes all over the world teach everything but Confucian values. They are a front to propagate Chinese communist ideology under the facade of an educational institution and are now being investigated by a number of governments for their links to “The Party”. Chinese Students Associations have also been implicated in a number of countries to stifle criticism of Tibet and Xinjiang by expatriate Chinese students through use of violence and coercion.

Covid-19 is something that will ultimately have a cure. As it is, its lethality is very limited. However, the bigger virus of Chinese Communist Party keeps growing potent everyday and to counter it, the entire world needs to come together. The vaccination to get rid of the Chinese communist virus, though much more painful than the Covid-19 affliction, will have to be undertaken.

(Binay Kumar Singh is a columnist and researcher. Views expressed are personal)

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