REPORT ON PAGES 10 & 11
It’s okay to
Cultural appropriation or appreciation?
Singaporeans say it’s an expression of solidarity,
spreads goodwill and strengthens racial harmony
T H E H E A R T B E A T O F T H E I N D I A N C O M M U N I T Y
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More Muslims in India
making it through elite central
IT IS described as one of the toughest
competitive exams in India. Last year,
out of about 500,000 candidates who
took the Union Public Service
Commission exam for federal
government bureaucrats, only 990
made the final cut – a rate of one out
of 500. The release of these exam
results in April brought some cheer to
Muslims in India, traditionally
under-represented in government jobs,
especially at the top level.
This year, for the first time, they
made up more than 5 per cent of
successful candidates. Of the 51
successful Muslim candidates, 26 came
from a programme run by the Zakat
Foundation of India, a Delhi-based
charity working to secure a better
representation of Muslims in India’s
federal bureaucracy as a way to ensure
a greater say in government policy
The foundation’s president Dr Syed
Zafar Mahmood said: “Over time, this
will help correct an unfortunate
inherent bias against minorities in the
implementation of government
development programmes .”
107,000 families in Odisha get
THE Odisha state government said
107,000 families have been provided
with house sites in rural areas in the
past four years.
Revenue and Disaster Management
Minister Maheswar Mohanty said the
state government had identified
110,000 families who did not have
houses during a survey in 2015.
“The balance 2,837 families will be
provided with house sites by Aug 31
this year,” he added.
The department will also conduct a
new survey from May 15 to June 15 to
identify more of such families so they
can be provided with houses.
Supreme court acquits Sidhu in
THE Supreme Court acquitted former
cricketer and Punjab Minister Navjot
Singh Sidhu on May 15 from a culpable
homicide charge in a 30-year-old
road-rage case for which he had been
awarded a three-year jail term.
A bench of Justice J. Chelameswar
and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul
acquitted him of culpable homicide not
amounting to murder charges but
convicted him for causing simple
injury and imposed a fine of Rs1,000
(about S$19) without any jail term.
The court also acquitted the other
accused, his cousin Rupinder Singh
Sandhu, of all charges.
Security breach forces UP chief
minister’s chopper to land in field
IN A major security breach, a
helicopter flying Uttar Pradesh Chief
Minister Yogi Adityanath was forced to
land in a field in Kasganj on May 15.
The temporary helipad constructed
by the district authorities was too small
for the helicopter to land and did not
meet the security norms for such VIP
landings, an official told IANS.
The chief minister and his security
personnel reached the road walking
through the field, leaving the officials
red-faced and throwing the police and
security men into a tizzy.
The state police have sought an
explanation from the district officials
and a probe has been ordered.
Skeletons at 10th century
excavation site sent for dating
THREE human skeletons, without any
ornaments, were found recently at an
excavation site at Juna Khera, Nadol,
in Rajasthan. The skeletons are
expected to reveal details of life in the
area in the 10th to 12th centuries.
“We will perform carbon dating to
know their exact date,” said Hridesh
Sharma, director of archaeology and
museums, government of Rajasthan,
adding that it came as a surprise that
these skeletons were only slightly
decomposed. The skeletons were not
buried but found in a courtyard.
Haryana to start 31 colleges for
girls this year
TO PROMOTE higher education
among girls in smaller towns and rural
areas, the Haryana government will
start 31 new colleges from the academic
session starting in July.
State Education Minister Ram Bilas
Sharma said: “Till the construction of
college buildings get completed, these
colleges would run in vacant buildings
of government schools or other
organisations so that the girls would not
have to travel too far.”
The colleges will come up in Sonipat,
Faridabad’s Ballabgarh, Kurukshetra,
Charkhi Dadri and Hisar, among other
100 more community radio
THE central government has
announced plans to set up at least 100
more community radio stations across
India this year.
Information and Broadcasting
Minister Smriti Irani made the
announcement at the 15th Asia Media
Summit in Delhi on May 10.
In its endeavour to encourage the
community radio movement in the
country, she said the government had
increased subsidies for setting up
community radio stations.
“We have a vibrant community
radio system in our country, with 215
community radio stations in operation
and 100 more in the pipeline,” said
Manali-Leh highway reopens after
THE Manali-Leh highway was
re-opened to motorists on May 13 after
it was closed for more than five months
due to heavy snowfall.
An official from the Border Roads
Organisation said the snow was more
than 20 feet high in some stretches close
to the Baralacha Pass – posing a big
challenge to those clearing the snow.
The work to repair the entire 475-km
stretch – which links the Himachal
Pradesh tourist city with Leh in Jammu
and Kashmir – is also complete.
Government won’t allow selfies in
SELFIES cannot be used as
photographs in pension forms, the
central ministry of personnel, public
grievances and pensions has informed
employees who are retiring.
The ministry has issued the fresh set
of guidelines to all central government
departments. The directive ruled out
photographs with coloured and dark
glasses and long hair covering the eyes.
It also added that the dimensions of
photographs and signature should not
be smaller than the box provided in the
application form, among other
Bird’s eye-view of
a fish hunt
A PARIAH kite caught a fish in
one swoop at the National
Zoological Park in Delhi on
May 14. The action was caught
in a picture.
The particular species of bird
is a common sight in the Indian
capital, with the city now
boasting the densest population
of these birds in the world.
The kites’ shrill cries are as
familiar as the honks of cars
and trucks in the bustling
metropolis, for most residents.
These avian hunters are
often seen circling garbage
dumps, slaughter houses and
There is also a practice of
residents feeding the birds
scraps of meat in the older parts
of the city.
May 18, 2018
NDIAN Prime Minister Narendra
Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party
(BJP) emerged as the single largest
party in the crucial state elections in Kar-
nataka but fell short of a simple major-
ity, triggering confusion and intense po-
Celebrations started early on May 15
morning with senior BJP leaders seen
feeding each other sweets on live televi-
But, by late afternoon, the BJP won
only 104 of the 222 assembly seats up
for election, short of the 113 seats
needed to secure a majority in the
In another surprising twist, the oppo-
sition Congress party – which won 78
seats – struck a post-election alliance
with the Janata Dal (Secular), which
claimed 37 seats.
Both the BJP and the Congress have
said they will form the state government
in an election where much is at stake for
them. The BJP is looking to gain a
foothold in South India where it is weak,
while the Congress, which governs Kar-
nataka, is hoping to stem a string of
losses in state elections and gain legiti-
macy as the leader of the opposition
ahead of general elections next year.
Karnataka, home to the country’s IT
capital Bengaluru, is among India’s
more prosperous states. It is one of five
states and two union territories that
make up the country’s southern part,
which has its own languages and re-
gional and cultural identity.
The BJP was in power in Karnataka
but lost to the Congress in 2013 due to a
mining corruption scandal that engulfed
its senior state leaders. In that election,
the Congress won 121 of the 224 assem-
bly seats, while the BJP had just 40.
The Congress is desperate to cling on
to Karnataka. Without it, the party
would control only three states – Pun-
jab, Puducherry and Mizoram.
The BJP controls 21 out of India’s 29
It is now up to the Karnataka gover-
nor, Mr Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala – who
was appointed by the BJP-ruled federal
government in September 2014 – to in-
vite either side to form the government.
He can either give the BJP time to
prove it has a majority or accept the al-
liance of the Congress and JDS.
“The BJP is the single largest party
and so he will likely call them first. If
they can somehow produce a majority,
they will form the government. He will
go through the process and give them
time,” said Dr N. Bhaskara Rao of the
Delhi-based Centre for Media Studies.
“This drama will continue.”
Mr Modi, addressing BJP party work-
ers, said he was satisfied with the Kar-
nataka polls and called it a win that was
unprecedented as the BJP was por-
trayed as a North Indian party.
“I thank my sisters and brothers of
Karnataka for steadfastly supporting
the BJP’s development agenda and mak-
ing BJP the single largest party in the
state,” tweeted Mr Modi.
Analysts noted that a combination of
factors, including a better reachout to
voters, a message of state pride com-
bined with the prime minister’s popular-
ity, had given BJP the edge.
“The BJP seems to have expanded its
footprint...The change happened in the
last one week (of campaigning) with the
prime minister’s rallies that have made
the difference,” said Dr Sandeep Shas-
tri, a political scientist and Pro Vice-
Chancellor of the Jain University.
But he added: “The post-result
machinations are all efforts by both the
Congress and BJP to try and neutralise
the other in preparation for politics of
AS DELHI Police on May 14
charged Indian politician
Shashi Tharoor with abetting
his wife Sunanda Pushkar’s
(right) suicide in 2014, All In-
dia Institute of Medical Sci-
ences forensic department
head Sudhir Gupta, who
headed the medical board
which conducted the autopsy,
said the filing of the
chargesheet was delayed by four years
during which a lot of evidence was de-
“From the beginning I had said the
death was due to poisoning. We said it
was due to alphrax poisoning... could
also be mixed poisoning... and there
were injuries on the body,’ he said.
“So, it is not a natural death and not
even accidental. FBI (United States’ Fed-
eral Bureau of Investigation) also con-
firmed the same thing. So, the only op-
tion left was suicide or homicide, which
was to be investigated by the police.”
Pushkar, 52, wife of Congress leader
and Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha)
Tharoor, was found dead in a south
Delhi hotel room on January 17, 2014.
Blaming the police for shoddy investi-
gation, Mr Gupta said: “A lot of evi-
dence has been destroyed, even Delhi
Police destroyed evidence. So, they had
to do something on the basis of the evi-
dence they had.”
Delhi Police had earlier registered a
case of murder after the medical report
said Ms Pushkar’s death was unnatural
and was caused by poisoning.
Asked how they later changed the
case from murder to sui-
cide, Mr Gupta said: “You
should ask the police. Ear-
lier they did not accept my
report, but ultimately
they had to include my re-
port in the chargesheet.
The chargesheet they filed
is based on my report.”
He added: “They are
charging him (Tharoor)
for abetment of suicide. At least, he has
been charged for criminality. In the be-
ginning they (police) were saying it was
a natural death.”
Mr Gupta said it is now up to the po-
lice to prove their case in court. “It is
their duty. It is open in the court,” he
The police chargesheet mentions
that the body of Ms Pushkar bore “scuf-
fle marks” which “seem to have been
caused due to scuffle between Sunanda
and her husband Shashi Tharoor as per
the statement of their personal atten-
dant Narain Singh”.
Tharoor has been charged under Sec-
tions 306 and 498A of the Indian Penal
Code that deal with abetment of suicide
and subjecting a woman to cruelty by
her husband or his relative – which en-
tail a jail term up to 10 years.
Tharoor called the chargesheet “pre-
posterous and said he intended to “con-
test it vigorously”.
“No one who knew Sunanda be-
lieves she would ever commit suicide,
let alone abetment on my part,” he
Indo-Asian News Service
Hung verdict causes confusion
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