Winter sessions were delayed earlier too

Parliament’s winter session is not likely to be dropped as the Opposition has been alleging. Sources said that it may be held in December once the Assembly elections in Gujarat are over on 9 and 14 in the next month. Surely, this will be the most delayed commencement of winter session ever. But after pursuing Parliament’s records, The Sunday Guardian discovered that the delayed commencement of the winter session on account of state elections is “not unprecedented”. The winter sessions were delayed during the Assembly elections in November-December 2003, 2008 and 2013 in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. As per the Constitution, there should not be more than six months’ gap between two sessions—between the conclusion of one and the commencement of another. This year, the monsoon session concluded on 11 August. The government has to call the next session by 10 February, within the six-month period. In 2003, the winter session began on 2 December after the last date of polling (1 December) in Rajasthan and Delhi. During the 2008 state elections, the winter session began on 10 December after the last date of polling (4 December) in Rajasthan. In 2013, the polling in the above mentioned states was fixed from 11 November to 4 December. A truncated winter session was held between 5 and 18 December 2013.

There are cases where polling schedules had not affected the winter session dates. This was the case during Gujarat’s December Assembly polls in 2002, 2007 and 2012.

The Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, which decides the date for the session, is yet to meet.

Khattar quotes Tagore

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar quoted a Rabindranath Tagore poem while talking to his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal on the dense smog pollution issue in the capital. The Aam Aadmi Party chief had written letters to Khattar and Punjab CM Amarinder Singh, saying they had not done enough to help their farmers get rid of stubble, the reason why they were forced to burn it, causing smog in Delhi. Quoting Tagore’s poem, “Where the Mind is without Fear”, Khattar replied, that the bedrock of such a mechanism was a “mindset” where “words come out from the depth of truth”. 

Khattar wrote: “Unfortunately, your letter contains no hint of such a mindset. Your reference to the helplessness of farmers in Punjab and Haryana in stubble burning betrays inability to rise above short-term electoral gains.”

However, Khattar met Kejriwal in Chandigarh on Wednesday and they agreed to work together. But Kejriwal later said, “We cannot control the direction of the wind (coming from Punjab and Haryana).”

Time to play Polo

Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has brought the royal game of polo back. In 2007, when the Shiromani Akali Dal and the BJP government had come to power in Punjab, both parties had promoted kabbadi as the state’s main game. In the process, polo was forgotten. Since then, the Patiala Polo and Riding Club in Amarinder Singh’s hometown was lying defunct. Patiala saw the last tournament in 2004 during the previous chief ministership of Amarinder Singh. And now, for reviving Patiala’s polo infrastructure, Amarinder Singh has sanctioned a budget of Rs 50 lakh. The Patiala royalty was back in action as the Western Command Polo Challenge Cup kicked off in association with the Punjab government at the Civil Aviation Club near Patiala Polo and Riding Club (PPRC) on Saturday. It was a precursor to the Military Literature Festival. The PPRC was formed in 2004 and affiliated to the Indian Polo Association. 

An eight-member Pakistan team, comprising army men and civilians, could not take part in this polo event as the Indian high commission in Islamabad denied it visa. It was granted visa only up to Delhi. Amarinder Singh told The Sunday Guardian that polo was in line with the traditions of Punjab, where horse breeding was common. The state’s culture has promoted horsemen and related sports. He himself participated in a polo match in 2004 during his previous tenure as CM. Amarinder Singh captained the riding and polo team in National Defence Academy in 1959.

Heritage loco falls off the tracks

Akbar, a heritage steam locomotive engine, which has been the hero of more than 20 Bollywood films, derailed a few days ago at Haryana’s Rewari station. Easily recognised by the cone shaped bulging nose with (usually) a silver star painted on it, such type of locomotives became the standard passenger locomotive in Indian Railways post 1947 and served for long before the arrival of diesel and electric engines. These were capable of doing up to 110 km an hour and remained Indian Railways’ crack locomotives for many years and hauled prestigious express trains.

The incident took place when a team of Northern Railway officials from Delhi was inspecting steam engines at the Heritage Locomotive shed at Rewari station. No one was injured in the incident. The engine apparently went out of control due to a brake failure. It ran for up to two kilometres before smashing into a wall and an iron gate. 

To attract old timers and children, Railways have been running the campaign, “Welcome Abroad Steam Express” twice each month, between Delhi Cantonment and Rewari stations since 14 October. It will continue up to 28 April 2018. The National Rail Museum and the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited have been booking one-way or two-way same day journeys. 

The two-way Delhi-Rewari-Delhi journey fare for an adult is Rs 6,804 and for a child Rs 3,402. The one way Delhi-Rewari or Rewari-Delhi journey tariff for an adult is Rs 3,402 and for the child Rs 1,701. 

The Rewari Steam Loco Shed is in the possession of two heritage locomotives, one “Akbar” and the other “Azad”, which was previously called Shahjahan, after the Mughal emperor.

And now you have Muslim Yoga

Yoga has started entering Islamic countries, but the authorities and teachers there are “converting” it into “Muslim Yoga”, minus the Hindu postures and mantras, and calling it sports.

Saudi Arabia will soon have licensed yoga practitioners. Nouf Marwaai, has been practising yoga since she was 19 years old. Now over 30, she has become the first certified woman yoga trainer in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Ministry of Trade and Industry has listed “Teaching Yoga” under sports and business activities in a notification issued some days ago. Nouf is an Ayurveda expert. She trained in many countries including India. Arab News has reported that she had said that “Yoga and Islam are not at conflict with each other as yoga is the practice of people living in the pre-Buddhist era, over 5,000 years ago.” For long, she has been advocating yoga regardless of religious background of patients. “It is more a lifestyle and a science than a religion.”

However, well-known Indian-American Rajiv Malhotra in a communiqué to The Sunday Guardian said, “There is a rapid expanding movement among Muslims to appropriate yoga. Teachers and Islamic experts are collaborating to modify yoga by removing aspects seen as Hinduism, and by adding links with Islam.”

Malhotra has analysed “Muslim yoga” teachers in India, Pakistan, Canada and US. In his survey, he has found the following: outright rejection of yoga, seen as shirk (Arabic), meaning it is banned by Allah; attitudes of blatant “Hindu phobia”, even in some Western schools of Islam; demand to remove Surya-Namaskar because it is seen as idol worship; demand to remove “Om”; demand to remove all mantras; replacing silence with chanting Allah’s name; chanting verses from Quran during the practice; claiming that Yoga was not originally Hindu, but that Hindus hijacked it into their religion; trying to unite all Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) against features in yoga that are “not friendly to monotheism” and blaming these features on the BJP; and digesting yoga systematically into Arabic vocabulary and claiming that it maps on to Islamic practices. 

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