Pro-Khalistan gurudwaras bar entry of Indian diplomats
The Ministry of External Affairs is keeping a close watch on some “disturbing developments” in certain gurudwaras in Canada’s Ontario province. New Delhi has been told that these Sikh shrines are now under the control of pro-Khalistan hardliners, who have stopped Indian diplomats from entering the gurudwaras.
The decision to block their entry was taken on 30 December at Gurduwara Jot Parkash in Brampton. Indian diplomats have been trying “to build bridges with the radicals”, which the hardliners have not liked, and the ban seems to be an outcome of that.
India’s consul general in Toronto, Dinesh Bhatia has been visiting major gurudwaras in Dixie, Rexdale and Malton.
A statement signed by 30 members of the managements of 15 gurudwaras under the aegis of the Ontario Gurudwara Committee (OGC), reads, “Pursuant to the Trespass to Property Act (1990), the management of this Gurudwara Sahib reserves the right to bar entry to officials of the Indian Government, including but not limited to Indian elected officials, Indian Consular officials, and members of organisations who seek to undermine the Sikh nation and Sikh institutions.”
An OGC spokesperson, Amarjeet Mann, and the Ontario Khalsa Darbar in Mississauga’s Dixie gurudwara, Gurpreet Singh Bal, has said that the decision had been taken in view of the Indian government’s “interference into our Sikh community affairs.”
But, they say, that the “ban” will be in force in case of “official visits of the officers,” not when they visit in their personal capacity. The move has been hailed by the Sikhs for Justice, a group of radical activists.
Smooth operation in Rajya Sabha delights Naidu
Rajya Sabha Chairman and Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu was visibly happy on Tuesday when the Upper House succeeded in taking up all the 15 “starred questions” during the Question Hour, while members completed the mentions on the list during zero hour. This was an improvement upon a 15-year-old record. In 2002, during the tenure of Chairman Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, the Rajya Sabha session took up all the list of 20 starred questions. But, at the time, while there were five more questions than now and then as many as 10 of the 20 members against whose names these were listed were not present. “The Rajya Sabha today made history. For the first time, all zero hour submissions, all special mentions were fully completed,” he said amid thumping of desks by members. “Your cooperation is good, so my operation was very smooth,” he added.Generally, on any given day, in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, the entire list of ‘starred questions’, to which the Ministers have to respond in person to supplementary questions from members, never gets completed. The prepared answers are then tabled.
Naidu noted that some members did not turn up to ask the question listed against their name. He advised the House, “If you file a question, so much time, energy and resources are spent. Not coming to the House is not a good practice. Keep that in mind.”
Naidu also acts as a “guide”. The other day he asked the members “not to talk when obituary references are being made”.
On Thursday, Naidu advised some ministers to “keep your papers in hand a little away from the face while laying them on the table of the House, otherwise the mike system won’t catch your voice clearly”.
Pakistan stops importing Indian peanuts
Pakistan has stopped importing peanuts from India. For over a month, not a single bag of peanut has crossed the Attari Integrated Check Post (ICP) to the neighbouring country. India was exporting peanuts worth Rs 1 crore every day via the ICP just over a month ago. This has resulted in a 10%-15% fall in the prices of peanuts in the domestic wholesale market.
Local traders had procured peanuts in considerable quantities from Rajasthan and Gujarat.
Pakistan’s excuse is that its plant and quarantine department has objected to the quality of peanuts. The department conveyed its objections to India’s Ministry of Commerce.
Indian exporters are wondering what prompted Pakistan to take the drastic move as similar peanuts are being consumed domestically, without any hitch.
“Indian peanuts are hundred percent safe to consume,” says an exporter.
Set in stone
Read the Taj’s message
On Wednesday, a discussion took place at India Islamic Cultural Centre (IICC) on “Taj Mahal’s Spiritual Message” which also happened to be the title of a coffee table book that was launched on the occasion. Dr Syed Zafar Mahmood, author of the book, said, “Everyone visiting the Taj Mahal returns admiring it. But no one cares to read a large number of Holy Quran’s ‘aayaat’ set in stone everywhere in calligraphy. The Taj Mahal has been telling the humanity for centuries to learn what the Prophet advised 1,400 years ago; all these are so relevant even today.”Mahmood, president of the Zakat Foundation of India and president of the Interfaith Coalition for Peace, said that one of Holy Quran’s “aayaats” on the Taj’s face sternly warns against killing the girl child and prescribed punishment. The gist of his presentation was that human beings should try to be more righteous during their “limited tenure in this world”. According to him, this realisation must have dawned upon Emperor Shahjahan after the death of his queen. So, in addition to creating a long lasting memorial for her, the monarch also used the edifice “to telecast his supernatural realisation for the spiritual pleasure and benefit of the upcoming generations of humanity.”
A delicious victory
Samosas, the South African way
On the eve of 2018, good news came from the South African coast. Our samosa with Kashmiri-chilli chicken fillings won an international contest organised by the largest national newspaper, the weekly Post, for the Indian community over there. In the race were mouth watering chocolates, cashew nuts and many exotic entries in a first such contest held at a Durban public fair. The samosa winner was Salma Agjee; her daughter had submitted her recipe. Proudly, she says that “My filling was my own invention based on what I had initially made as a chicken sandwich for my children.” At the contest, there were many varieties of samosas which contained almonds and cashews drizzled with chocolate; chocolate covered in edible glitter; Margherita cheese filling and chicken jalapeno.
In the race were mouth watering chocolates, cashew nuts and many exotic entries in a first such contest held at a Durban public fair.
Salma Agjee says that the chicken was cooked with Kashmiri chilli powder, and then she added two types of cheese, mozzarella and gouda, and mayonnaise.
Man Mohan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org