Dubai Expo: India Prominently Displays Controversial Ayodhya Ram Mandir at Pavilion Entrance

India's pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020 has a large and prominent display of a miniature model of the controversial Ram Mandir at its entrance. Ram Mandir will replace the Mughal-era Babri Masjid that was destroyed by a Hindu mob in 1992.  It represents Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of India as a Hindu Rastra built on the ruins of the country's Muslim past. Inaugurating the Indian pavilion,  the country's trade minister Piyush Goyal told the media that "Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally gave us ideas and a lot of guidance on how to showcase India". 

Model of Controversial Ram Mandir at Dubai Expo


“It is a great opportunity to showcase emerging new India to visitors who are coming from all over the world. Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally gave us ideas and a lot of guidance on how to showcase India as a modern vibrant technology driven international economy," trade minister Piyush Goyal, who inaugurated the India pavilion on Friday, told reporters.

World Expos have a long illustrious history going back 170 years. They represent an opportunity for  participating countries to showcase their achievements in arts, sciences and technologies. First mechanical computer was shown at the 1862 London International Exhibition on Industry and Art. Alexander Graham Bell demonstrated the first telephone at Philadelphia in the 1876 Expo in the United States. 
Pakistani Pavilion at Dubai Expo

Pakistan has a large pavilion at Dubai Expo which will remain open for six months. It will highlight opportunities for trade, tourism and investment in the country. The focus on the first month of Expo 2020 Dubai at the Pakistan Pavilion is Balochistan.    

Pakistani pavilion attracted about 8,000 visitors when it opened yesterday. Speaking on the occasion, Pakistani representative Aftab Abro said: “The response has been outstanding and we have people appreciating all aspects of the pavilion, ranging from the colorful façade to the vibrant bazaar and also our custom-made Pakistani restaurant called ‘Dhaba’ that has been a great crowd-puller…We are grateful to the Expo 2020 Dubai for bringing the world to us so we could show them what Pakistan is all about. After taking their reviews, we were happy to learn that coming to our pavilion dispelled many misconceptions and doubts they had about Pakistan, due to some false information they got from unreliable sources. By physically coming to the Pakistan pavilion they said they experienced the real Pakistan.”



Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Oops: Former Air India A320 Aircraft Gets Stuck Under Foot Bridge. This isn’t the first time this has happened. In 2019, a truck carrying a former India Post Boeing 737-200 got stuck under a bridge in West Bengal. #India #BJP #modi #AirIndia https://onemileatatime.com/news/air-india-a320-stuck-under-bridge/

It’s not every day you see something like this. Then again, this also isn’t the first time that something like this has happened.

How an Air India plane got stuck under a bridge
Video has gone viral of a former Air India Airbus A320 getting stuck underneath a bridge on the Delhi-Gurugram highway near Delhi Airport.

Now, in fairness, this mishap has nothing to do with Air India as such. The plane no longer belongs to Air India, and was in the process of being transported in order to be scrapped, with the wings removed. This mistake is the fault of the company responsible for transporting the plane.

It’s pretty amazing that the plane is basically halfway underneath the bridge before the truck carrying it comes to a stop. I guess the truck was going at full speed, and wasn’t anticipating any problems.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not an expert on trucking logistics, but I’d assume that if you’re transporting an aircraft, you’d figure out exactly how much clearance you need, and then make sure you don’t get under a bridge with less clearance than that. But maybe that’s just me… 😉

This isn’t the first time this has happened
In 2019, a truck carrying a former India Post Boeing 737-200 got stuck under a bridge in West Bengal, so this Air India incident is the second time in a couple of years that we’ve seen something like this happen in India.

For that matter, even that wasn’t the first time such an incident had happened. Also in 2019, a China Southern Airbus A320 got stuck under a bridge in Harbin, China.

So, how do you get a plane “unstuck” from under a bridge? The solution seems to be to let air out of the tires of the trucks, so that they have just enough clearance to get out from under the bridge. On the plus side, at least it seems like in all of these cases there wasn’t any significant damage to the bridges.

Bottom line
A former Air India Airbus A320 got stuck underneath a bridge in Delhi, which is the third such incident we’ve seen in the past couple of years. While I imagine the logistics of transporting an aircraft fuselage are complicated, it’s still surprising to me that this has happened a few times now in a fairly short period.

Generally the solution here is to let air out of the tires. I suppose the damage to the plane isn’t a huge deal if the plane is just going to get scrapped, though the damage to the bridge is a different story.
Riaz Haq said…
"While the Bidens of this world still talk about Gandhi, India’s role models have changed. ..(Anti-#Muslim) #Genocide is now openly demanded at public rallies. The “need” for ethnic cleansing can pop up in casual conversations" #India #Modi #Hindutva https://time.com/6103284/india-hindu-supremacy-extremism-genocide-bjp-modi/

And it is only the beginning. In neighboring Bihar, the government is asking people to report “suspected illegal migrants” and officials have been ordered to create awareness of the issue on “an urgent basis.” The state’s high court has demanded a detention center to house migrants, reminding the government that “deportation of illegal migrants is of paramount importance and in the national interest.” Bihar’s 17 million Muslims are on edge about their future. In next-door Bengal, which borders Bangladesh and is home to nearly 25 million Muslims, the BJP has been promising an Assam-like citizenship verification drive if it comes to power in the state.

The chief minister of India’s biggest and most politically important state, Uttar Pradesh, recently blamed Muslims for cornering government-subsidized food. Uttar Pradesh, along with Assam, has introduced a two-child policy blaming Muslims for a supposedly runaway population growth that officials say accounts for the backwardness of these states. The claim is not rooted in reality. Fertility rates among Muslims have in fact been falling rapidly.

But reality is no longer important. It bends to the requirements of the ruling party’s dehumanizing narrative against Muslims. As Jews in Nazi Germany were called “rats” and Tutsis in Rwanda in the 1990s were called “cockroaches,” so BJP members now refer to Indian Muslims as “termites” eating away at India’s resources, denying Hindus what is due to them in their own land.

The destruction of Gandhi’s legacy
The foundations of the secular republic that Gandhi died defending are thus being hollowed out ever more frantically. While Modi pays ritualistic homage to Gandhi, BJP leaders openly glorify Gandhi’s killer, who was a Hindu fanatic. Modi’s ministers and legislators freely call on people to shoot “traitors” and start pogroms, and are promoted rather than penalized for their actions. Modi himself partly owes his fan following and ascent to his lack of remorse over the 2002 pogroms in Gujarat in 2002, when he was chief minister. Hundreds of Muslims were killed and thousands rendered homeless.

Noticeably, not only did the current chief minister of Assam not apologize for the police excesses, he in fact trivialized the deaths of Hoque and Farid, calling Hoque’s death “just 30 seconds” of a three minute video. He also carried on with the eviction drive and even proudly tweeted photos of the rubble of the four mosques destroyed in it.

While the Bidens of this world still talk about Gandhi, India’s role models have changed. So have the standards of acceptable discourse in public and social life. Genocide is now openly demanded at public rallies. The “need” for ethnic cleansing can pop up in casual conversations on politics among friends or family. Death threats are used like punctuation marks in debates on social media.

On Oct. 2, Gandhi’s birthday was celebrated with much fanfare as the International Day of Non-Violence. Two new books on his assassination in 1948 were launched. In Karnataka, meanwhile, a 25-year-old Muslim man was found beheaded for his affair with a Hindu girl, allegedly by a local Hindu vigilante group.

Gandhi continues to be killed in a million ways in today’s India. Bijoy Baniya just added a flourish to it.
Riaz Haq said…
Why do young #Indians support #Modi? He has not delivered #employment growth or kept his #economic promises but he speaks the language and aspiration of these #millennials. To many in #India's #Hindu majority, he assures them that the #BJP has their back. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-58716947

By Vivan Marwaha
Author

Aspirational young Indians today are looking for role models who they believe will protect them, and they are attracted to politicians with whom they share stories and experiences. Language is a particularly emotional issue.

English has long been a reserve of the Indian elite, and an aspiration of middle-class Indians seeking upward social mobility.

But in the 2019 elections, Hindi-speaking politicians, shattering the last vestiges of these elites, were rewarded by voters, while the opposition Indian National Congress, led by English-speaking dynasts from the Nehru-Gandhi family, was nearly wiped clean from the country's "Hindi belt" - states mainly comprising Hindi-speaking people.

As I spoke to Indian millennials, they told me about how Mr Modi delivered speeches in Hindi to audiences in New York, London, and Sydney, and how proud that made them. The thinking went: "if he can make it there, so can we".


-------------

According to conventional wisdom, incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in trouble: the country was experiencing a 45-year high unemployment, disproportionately impacting India's youth, the world's single-largest labour force.

The economy had come to a crawl and a sense of malaise prevailed everywhere I went. Many of the millennials I was interviewing, including those in their 30s, were living at home with parents, reliant on their families for basic purchases.

Most of these people had voted for Mr Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) five years earlier, in 2014, buying their promises of wide-scale development and hundreds of millions of new jobs for India's booming population of young people.

But conventional wisdom was turned on its head when the prime minister and the BJP were re-elected with an even bigger majority than the 2014 election, shattering decades-old political dynasties in their family fiefdoms.

The writing was on the wall: young Indians had firmly consolidated behind Mr Modi. Post-poll data confirmed this, with nearly 40% of those aged 18-35 voting for the BJP.

In many other countries, this may not make sense: why would young voters, who hadn't advanced much, seen their trust broken, and had arguably been set back by years under this regime, return the incumbent to power?

The answer to this question also defied conventional wisdom on Indian elections, given that India has a long record of voting out incumbent politicians.


But with millennials leading the charge, Indian politics has gone through a fundamental reordering: young voters want leaders who speak, pray, and look like them.

For decades, India was governed by English-speaking, Western-educated technocrats who shared little in common with the country's largely-agrarian and vernacular-speaking population.

Although many members of parliament and state assemblies came from the grassroots, those who wielded cultural and political power in Delhi did not.

--------------------

In an unstable and volatile economy, Indian millennials seek leaders who promise stability and security, and Mr Modi and his party's messaging captured this sentiment to impressive results.

Shortly after the 2019 Pulwama bombings in Kashmir - and the subsequent air strike in Balakot in Pakistan - every BJP leader added the designation of "chowkidar" (watchman) to their Twitter handle, signalling their promise to Indians to protect them from all enemies - foreign and domestic.

Riaz Haq said…
Unprecedented #power crisis looms in #India. Over 50% of 135 coal-fired power plants don't have enough coal stock. Over 70% of India's #electricity is generated using #coal. #Energy Crisis threatens to derail India's post-#pandemic #economic recovery. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-58824804

This crisis has been in the making for months.

As India's economy picked up after a deadly second wave of Covid-19, demand for power rose sharply.

Power consumption in the last two months alone jumped by almost 17%, compared to the same period in 2019.


At the same time global coal prices increased by 40% and India's imports fell to a two-year low.

The country is the world's second largest importer of coal despite also being home to the fourth largest coal reserves in the world.

Power plants that usually rely on imports are now heavily dependent on Indian coal, adding further pressure to already stretched domestic supplies.

What is the likely impact?
Experts say importing more coal to make up for domestic shortages is not an option at present.

"We have seen shortages in the past, but what's unprecedented this time is coal is really expensive now," said Dr Aurodeep Nandi, India Economist and Vice President at Nomura.

"If I am [as a company] importing expensive coal, I will raise my prices, right? Businesses at the end of the day pass on these costs to consumers, so there is an inflationary impact - both direct and indirect that could potentially come from this," he added.

If the crisis continues, a surge in the cost of electricity will be felt by consumers. Retail inflation is already high as everything from oil to food has become more expensive.

Vivek Jain, Director at India Ratings Research described the situation as "precarious".

In recent years, India's production has lagged as the country tried to reduce its dependence on coal to meet climate targets.

India's Power Minister RK Singh, in an interview with The Indian Express newspaper, said the situation is "touch and go" and that the country should brace itself for the next five to six months.

A senior government official, on the condition of anonymity, confirmed to the BBC that the situation is worrying.

If this persists, Asia's third largest economy will struggle to get back on track, warns Ms Zohra Chatterji, the former Chief of Coal India Limited - a state-run enterprise responsible for 80% of the country's coal supply.

"Electricity powers everything, so the entire manufacturing sector- cement, steel, construction - everything gets impacted once there is a coal shortage."

She calls the current situation a "wake-up call for India" and says the time has come to reduce its over-dependence on coal and more aggressively pursue a renewable energy strategy.

What can the government do?
The question of how India can achieve a balance between meeting demand for electricity from its almost 1.4bn people and the desire to cut its reliance on heavily polluting coal burning power plants has been a major challenge for the government in recent years.

The vast scale of the problem makes a short-term solution unlikely, according to Dr Nandi.

"It's just the sheer scale of things. A huge chunk of our energy comes from thermal [coal]. I don't think we've reached that stage yet where we have an effective substitute for thermal. So yes, it's a wake-up call, but I don't think the centrality of coal in our energy needs is set to be to be replaced anytime soon, he said.

Experts advocate a mix of coal and clean sources of energy as a possible long-term solution.
Riaz Haq said…
The business heads expressed keen interest to make investments in Pakistan in their respective domains and also briefed them about their companies. The president later witnessed the signing of three MoUs between Pakistan’s Special Technology Zones Authority with Mastercard, Galaxy racer (E-sports) and Shorooq Partners VC Funds.

https://nation.com.pk/10-Oct-2021/pakistan-offers-promising-business-opportunities-to-foreign-investors-president

President Dr Arif Alvi on Saturday inaugurated Pakistan Pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020. First lady Samina Alvi and Advisor on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood were also present on the occasion. The president also visited different stalls of the pavilion where he was briefed about Pakistani products.

The president while meeting with heads of leading investment and technology firms in Dubai said that Pakistan is offering promising business opportunities to foreign investors through one-window operations in sectors of innovation and technology. The President said the one-window facility under Special Technology Zones

Authority is aimed at encouraging and facilitating the foreign investors to expand their information technology footprint in Pakistan.

He said the government has set up the STZA with a mandate to provide world-class digital and physical infrastructure across the country and put Pakistan on global technology radar. The President invited the companies to invest in Pakistan’s diverse sectors particularly in e-business. The business heads expressed keen interest to make investments in Pakistan in their respective domains and also briefed them about their companies. The president later witnessed the signing of three MoUs between Pakistan’s Special Technology Zones Authority with Mastercard, Galaxy racer (E-sports) and Shorooq Partners VC Funds.
Riaz Haq said…
#Indian #Farmers Confront #Modi Head-on! Farmers’ goal is not necessarily to defeat the #BJP, whom polls suggest will cruise to an easy victory. BJP's top elected leader Yogi Adityanath, a #Hindu monk and protégé of Modi, is very popular. #FarmersProtest https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/22/world/asia/india-farmers-protests-modi.html?smid=tw-share

“This is now a fight for those who died,” Jagdeep Singh, whose 62-year-old father was among those run over by the jeep, said from the family farm. “And those who are living, this is now a fight for all of us until we die.”

Elsewhere, under the harsh light of an LED lamp in an unfinished brick farmhouse, Ramandeep Kaur wept over the loss of her cousin, Lovepreet Singh, a 19-year-old who was studying English in hopes of getting an education and living in Australia.

“Until they take back those laws,” she said, “the farmers’ agitation will continue.”

The deadly incident took place in a remote corner of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state and a prize in elections to be held early next year. The protesters were shadowing top members of Mr. Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, or B.J.P., as they began to campaign.

The farmers’ goal is not necessarily to defeat the B.J.P., whom polls suggest will cruise to an easy victory. The party’s top elected leader, Yogi Adityanath, is a Hindu monk and protégé of Mr. Modi who is popular with the party’s Hindu base, and the opposition is fragmented. Instead, the farmers aim to draw more national and international attention to their plight.

The protesting farmers think that Mr. Modi’s market-friendly overhaul last year of the nation’s agricultural laws will put them out of business. India’s Supreme Court has suspended implementation, and the government has proposed a series of amendments. The farmers balked, saying they would settle for nothing less than their full repeal.

Further action could take years, given the court’s full docket, but the farmers fear the suspension will be lifted if they let up.

No one disputes that the current system, which incentivizes farmers to grow a huge surplus of grains, needs to be fixed. The protesters fear the speed — the laws were passed in mere weeks — and the breadth of the changes will send the price of crops plunging. Mr. Modi’s government argues that introducing market forces will help fix the system.

“The composition of farming has to somewhat change,” said Gopal Krishna Agarwal, a B.J.P. spokesman on economic issues. “The farm sector needs heavy investment, and that can come from the private sector.”
Riaz Haq said…
'While I'm Alive, I'll Keep Speaking.' Journalist Rana Ayyub's Fight to Expose the Truth in India

https://time.com/6108251/rana-ayyub-india-journalism-modi/


Ayyub is one of India’s most famous journalists, and a thorn in the side of the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. She rose to prominence after she self-published Gujarat Files, a 2016 book about the 2002 violence in the state of Gujarat that left at least 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus dead. Ayyub’s work accused Modi, then chief minister of Gujarat, and his allies of being complicit in the anti-Muslim violence and included undercover audio recordings of politicians in India’s now-ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. (Modi has never been formally charged and has said his government used its “full strength” to “do the right thing.”) Since then, Ayyub has struggled to find editors at mainstream Indian publications willing to publish her work. This summer, she joined the American newsletter platform her Substack. She also writes a regular column for the Washington Post, and has occasionally written for TIME, including a TIME cover story in April highlighting the Modi government’s mismanagement of the country’s devastating second wave of COVID-19. And for the past several months, she has endured an escalating campaign of intimidation from Indian authorities and supporters of the ruling party.

“Of all the cases of journalists we work on around the world, at the moment Rana is one of my top concerns,” says Rebecca Vincent, the director of international campaigns at rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF). “The hate she’s facing has been escalating for years but it’s so intense at the moment. We have a history of journalists being killed with impunity in India, and frankly it’s very possible that could be repeated. When I receive urgent calls from Rana, my immediate instinct is concern for her life.” The Indian government should know, Vincent says, that the world’s eyes are watching out for Ayyub’s safety. “If something happens to her, it will be very obvious where it came from and why,” she says.

Although India is often called the world’s largest democracy, U.S.-based nonprofit Freedom House downgraded India from “free” to “partly free” in March, citing a decline in civil liberties since Modi came to power in 2014, including the intimidation of journalists and activists. Independent journalists, especially women, face particularly intense harassment, abuse and rape threats. In 2017, prominent journalist Gauri Lankesh, known for her outspoken criticism of the Hindu nationalist government, was shot dead in Bangalore. RSF notes that India “is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists trying to do their job properly” and the group’s annual World Press Freedom Index ranks India at 142 out of 180 countries. Modi’s government set up a committee in 2020 to improve India’s ranking; the committee said in March that the RSF methodology lacked transparency and identified a “Western bias” in the index. (India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting did not reply to a request for comment.)
Riaz Haq said…
'While I'm Alive, I'll Keep Speaking.' Journalist Rana Ayyub's Fight to Expose the Truth in India

https://time.com/6108251/rana-ayyub-india-journalism-modi/


Ayyub is used to living on the edge. In 2018, for example, BJP supporters shared on social media a pornographic video doctored to include Ayyub’s face in an attempt to discredit her. For more than four years, she has received a barrage of anonymous death and rape threats on her social media. But for the last several months, she has been the victim of a campaign of intimidation by Indian authorities that has taken even her by surprise. In June, the Uttar Pradesh police opened an investigation into Ayyub and other Muslim journalists after they tweeted a video showing a violent attack against a Muslim man. Police and government officials said the man’s claim was faked and police accused Ayyub and several others of attempting to “create animosity between Hindus and Muslims,” saying they did “not make an attempt to establish truth in the case.” In a statement at the time, the Uttar Pradesh government said it placed “absolute sanctity to rule of law, civil liberties and freedom of expression” and the investigation was not lodged “due to any witch-hunt.”

In June, the central government’s Income Tax Department sent Ayyub a summons, investigating her income in relation to her fundraising for COVID-19. (During the height of India’s pandemic earlier this spring, she traveled the country distributing humanitarian aid that she had raised funds for via her online following.) Shortly after, the Enforcement Directorate began investigating Ayyub’s foreign sources of income. Ayyub describes the accusations as baseless. She says she has been followed in the street by mysterious cars, and that she has been forced to disclose to authorities confidential information and emails, including with her editors. On Sept. 27, she filed an appeal against the Income Tax Department, where her case is pending. (The department did not respond to TIME’s request for comment.)

After an experience being tailed by an unknown car for 90 minutes in Mumbai, Ayyub wrote a letter for one of her family members to publish in the event of her death. “It just says that in case anything happens to me, I don’t want you to let my death go in vain,” she says. “I want the future generation of journalists, writers, activists to know that even if my life is short-lived, it’s a fight worth fighting. While I’m alive, I’ll keep speaking.”
Riaz Haq said…
'While I'm Alive, I'll Keep Speaking.' Journalist Rana Ayyub's Fight to Expose the Truth in India

https://time.com/6108251/rana-ayyub-india-journalism-modi/

Press freedom is under growing threat around the world. In October, the Nobel Committee awarded the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize to journalists Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov of Russia, editors-in-chief of independent publications who have each faced state-sanctioned intimidation for daring to stand up to authoritarian regimes. Ayyub has spoken to Ressa and gathers strength from knowing that others like her are going through similar trials. She welcomes the recognition for Ressa and Muratov, and sees parallels between their countries and India. (The Philippines is ranked at 138 on the World Press Freedom Index, while Russia is at 150.) “It has given so many of us the courage to fight,” she says of the Nobel Peace Prize going to embattled journalists. “It felt like it was for each one of us.”

But Ayyub is no editor-in-chief. She is a single journalist working mostly alone, without institutional support, and largely for international publications. This makes her particularly vulnerable, but also more determined. “If anything, what they are doing to me has made me realize that my words count, and they are having an impact,” she says.

After Ayyub’s heart scare in early October, her 75-year-old father suggested the family leave the country. His daughter refused. “I love this country more than I can ever explain,” she told TIME. “If I hated it, I would have left a long time ago. Our forefathers, our freedom fighters, fought the British to give us this independent India, this grand idea of a democracy. And I’m fighting for this very idea.”


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