Today, Army Chief General MM Naravane will be in Nepal
The ties between the two armies are a fundamental pillar which is based on history, contemporary partnership, symbolic respect and organic ties.
The Indian and Nepali army chiefs are honorary generals of each other’s armies.
There is deep camaraderie between retired and senior officers of both armies, many of whom have trained together in their younger days.
The presence of Nepali citizens in the Indian Army — some from the country have given their lives for the security of India — is a remarkable testament to the trust between the two countries.
India, even as it respects Nepali sovereignty, sees the Nepal army as a friend which will respect its security sensitivities, while for the Nepal army, the Indian Army has been the first port of call during crises.
It was on the then Indian foreign secretary Shyam Saran’s advice that the then Royal Nepalese Army chief, Pyar Jung Thapa, went to the autocratic monarch, Gyanendra Shah, in 2006, and told him that the military could not suppress popular aspirations anymore.
This led to the restoration of democracy.
General Naravane is likely to emphasis this bond and convey to the Nepali authorities India’s security sensitivities.
Irrespective of the ebbs and flows of the political relationship between the two countries, the fact that the military channel is strong can only aid better understanding and serve mutual interests.
More than a routine affair | Pioneer
Naravane’s visit - a clear attempt by both countries to revive bilateral relations.
The strategic military relations are at two levels — between the two sovereign armies and the Indian Army’s Gorkha connect.
In 1959, the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had said that an attack on Nepal and Bhutan will be deemed as an attack on India.
Nepal faces only an internal threat as the Maoists posed two decades ago.
The hijack of IC-814 demonstrated Nepal’s fragile internal security system.
Fortunately, it has no external threat.
In 1952, King Tribhuvan invited India to establish a military training mission, which included occupying 22 border posts along with Nepal Army but Kalapani was not one of them.
By 1970, under pressure from the Communist lobby in the palace, the training facilities were withdrawn.
In 1965, King Mahendra, and in 1990, King Birendra requested India to modernise the Nepal Army, which is equipped 80 per cent with Indian military hardware provided at friendship prices — 70 per cent aid and 30 per cent payment, which over time has become near gratis.
The bulk of Nepal Army’s specialised training is held in India and it bags maximum training slots.
Joint training has reached the battalion level under the Surya Kiran series and military exercises are held in both the countries.
In the 1990s, there was a horrible aviation tragedy at the Tribhuvan International Airport.
Similarly, in 2015, after the earthquake, the Indian military’s immediate response was acknowledged by Nepal Army chief, General Gaurav Rana.
On an average, India recruits annually 1,500 to 2,000 Nepali Gorkhas with unending queues of aspirants.
The Indian embassy has created a wealth of facilities for the 1.25 lakh ex-servicemen (10 lakh if you add families) in Nepal, who are exceptionally organised, disciplined, lately, affluent after One Rank One Pension (OROP) and beholden to India.
A special Gorkha cell in Army Headquarters monitors their welfare.
The Chinese influence in Nepal has grown dramatically since the Communist Government is in place.
The serving Gorkhas and the ex-servicemen community together constitute the one reliable pro-India constituency in Nepal that New Delhi can count on, especially when India-Nepal relations have hit rock-bottom.
It is this Gorkha asset and magic that General Naravane’s visit will nurture and preserve besides creating an ambience for normalising ties.
Law of prejudice | Ind Exp
CM of UP, Haryana and now Karnataka - are considering a law against what they call “love jihad”
It certainly does not have any basis in the Constitution, which allows every citizen the freedom to marry any person she chooses, and the liberty to follow any faith.
February 2020 - Union home ministry told Parliament that there was nothing called “love jihad” under the existing laws in the country and that the Constitution gave everyone the freedom to practise and propagate any religion.
By attempting to enshrine such toxic prejudice in law, both Yogi Adityanath and Manohar Lal Khattar do disservice to their constitutional responsibilities.
It also does not square with their much-touted agenda of transforming their states into international hubs of education and business.
Such places are not hospitable to either capital or talent, nor the free exchange of ideas and people.
All Hindu women are gullible?
It is indeed salutary as a principle that inter-faith couples retain their religious beliefs separately and opt for marriage under the Special Marriage Act.
Hitting fossil fuel companies where it hurts - TH
The ultimate collapse of apartheid in South Africa was due to hardship caused to the regime by the divestment movement.
A committed campaign by various organisations has, over the last decade or more, systematically attacked equity, or investments, and loans, or credit, available to the fossil fuel industry.
Aim at their finances
The costs of production and storage of renewables are falling precipitously and we therefore need to be poised to make a just transition away from coal in the near future.
This process will be complex and necessarily involve many sectors and activities including land restoration, local jobs, and timely transfer of storage technologies for renewable energy, apart from dealing with entrenched vested and political interests.
A large network of activists including Rainforest Action Network, 350.org, Go Fossil Free, People and Planet, youth protesters, university students and faculty, and committed people have been undertaking systematic organised drives for divestment from fossil fuel companies.
As of 2019, it is estimated that more than $11 trillion in assets has been committed to divestment from fossil fuels.
Targeting banks that provide loans to fossil fuel groups, organisations that are part of this movement have been hitting the bull’s eye quite often.
What drew media attention recently was that Goldman Sachs announced that it would, among other things, no longer finance new oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and also not provide capital for some of the worst kinds of coal mines, such as mountain-top mining.
Divestment appears to be putting the squeeze on the industry.
The UC Regents’ Investment Committee Chair said that the University of California was divesting not for ethical reasons but because it considers fossil companies to be risky.
Academia and the free will | TH
India announced its National Education Policy (NEP) on July 29 this year.
The policy aims at overhauling the educational system in the country and making “India a global knowledge superpower”, with a new system that is aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal-4 (SDG 4).
It also emphasises universal access to schools for all children, raising the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER), and ending the spiralling dropout rate in India.
Academic freedom - is being discussed by nobody.
India has scored considerably low in the international Academic Freedom Index (AFI) with a score of 0.352, which is closely followed by Saudi Arabia (0.278) and Libya (0.238).
In the last five years, the AFI of India has dipped by 0.1 points. Surprisingly, countries like Malaysia (0.582), Pakistan (0.554), Brazil (0.466), Somalia (0.436) and Ukraine (0.422) have scored better than India.
Uruguay and Portugal top the AFI, with scores of 0.971 each, followed closely by Latvia (0.964) and Germany (0.960).
The AFI and the accompanying report quantify the freedom of scholars to discuss politically and culturally controversial topics, without fearing for their life, studies or profession — an aspect where India is failing terribly.
Freedom to research and teach
Freedom of academic exchange and dissemination
Freedom of academic and cultural expression
Constitutional protection of academic freedom
international legal commitment to academic freedom under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Existence of universities
The NEP 2020 claims that it is based on principles of creativity and critical thinking and envisions an education system that is free from political or external interference.
For instance, the policy states that faculty will be given the “freedom to design their own curricular and pedagogical approaches within the approved framework, including textbook and reading material selections, assignments and assessments”.
It also suggests constituting a National Research Foundation (NRF), a merit-based and peer-reviewed research funding, which “will be governed, independently of the government, by a rotating Board of Governors consisting of the very best researchers and innovators across fields”.
However, the question is whether these promises and offers will be put into practice or remain just a rhetoric.
It is common knowledge by now that a majority of appointments, especially to top-ranking posts like that of vice-chancellors, pro vice-chancellors and registrars, have been highly politicised.
This reflects a ‘rent-seeking culture’ within the academic community.
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