Indian government’s bid to make Hindi official UN language lacks local support

Author: 
Sanjay Kumar
Mon, 2018-01-08 03:00
ID: 
1515363646376836800

NEW DELHI: Opinions in India are divided over the government’s attempt to make Hindi an official language of the United Nations.
“The irony is that Hindi in India does not enjoy the status of a national language. It is not the language aspiring India wants to learn, yet the government wants to spend millions of dollars promoting it as the official language of the UN,” said Priyadarshan, a New Delhi-based Hindi novelist, critic and journalist.
Talking to Arab News, he said: “This is the by-product of the hyper-nationalism that has gripped the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ever since it has come to power.”
Last week Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj told the lower house of Parliament that New Delhi is willing to spend $63 billion to make Hindi the official language of the UN.
“The government continues in its efforts in popularizing Hindi worldwide and for the acceptance of Hindi as one of the UN official languages,” Swaraj told the Parliament on Thursday.
She added: “It is not difficult to get the support of two-thirds of member nations. But when the issue of bearing the expenses comes, many small nations become hesitant, which has led to a big hurdle in making Hindi an official language of the UN.”
Opposition Congress Party leader and former junior foreign minister Shashi Tharoor, however, questioned the rationale and the wisdom of such a move when Hindi in its home country “doesn’t enjoy the status of the national language.”
He also said that when a person from a non-Hindi-speaking region of India becomes prime minister of the country, “why should we force him to speak in Hindi at the UN?”
Priyadarshan calls it “an attempt to polarize the country in the name of language. You have 22 officially recognized languages in India and an attempt should be made to develop all rather than promote one at the cost of the other. That’s why I call it a futile and divisive exercise.”
Bangalore-based activist Srujana Deva said: “India is not Hindi, and Hindi is not India.”
A very strong opponent of the imposition of Hindi in South India, Deva told Arab News that “the move is at par with the BJP government’s attempt to portray the country as a Hindu nation, which is not true. New Delhi wants to propagate a false narrative that everybody in India speaks Hindi, which is false.”
He added: “Homogeneity is not our identity. We thrive in diversity and I feel that the government is trying to weaken us by tampering with our diverse linguistic and cultural heritage.”
Anand Raj, an academic based in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, said: “Hindi is the language which most of the people in the country know and understand, and what’s the harm if a language spoken by so many people is promoted as the official language of the UN?”
Priyadarshan said: “The larger agenda is that the Hindu right-wing party BJP wants to further entrench itself in the crucial Hindi-speaking states in northern and central India, which are electorally very crucial, and impose Hindi on the Southern and eastern India which are non-Hindi speaking regions.”
In 19 of the 29 states in India, Hindi does not enjoy the status of first language.
South India witnessed violent protests recently in reaction to the Hindi inscription and signage at national highways and public places.

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Rotor issue caused US helicopter emergency landing in Japan

Author: 
The Associated Press
Mon, 2018-01-08 03:00
ID: 
1515363646286836500

TOKYO: US military personnel appeared to remove part of the main rotor from a Marine Corps helicopter Sunday, one day after it made an emergency landing on a beach in Japan’s southern Okinawa islands.
Japanese television showed personnel in dark green uniforms using four metal stepladders to reach the rotor of the helicopter, which remained parked on the sand, near the Pacific Ocean. They handed down a large part and hand-carried it off the beach.
The Marines confirmed in a statement that the UH-1Y helicopter landed on Ikeijima, a small island off Okinawa’s main island, after indications that the main rotor was moving at too high a speed. No one was injured in the Saturday afternoon incident. The Marines said the cause was under investigation.
The US maintains a major military presence in Okinawa. The local government and residents often complain about the American bases, and incidents like this one increase the friction. In two separate incidents last month, parts fell from US military helicopters onto schools in Okinawa. One boy had minor injuries after an emergency escape window fell from a CH-53 transport helicopter into a school playground. The school in Ginowan city is right next to Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

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Cambodian PM leads huge rally on anniversary of Khmer Rouge’s fall

Author: 
AFP
Mon, 2018-01-08 03:00
ID: 
1515363646436837400

PHNOM PENH: Cambodian Premier Hun Sen led a huge rally on Sunday marking the anniversary of the fall of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime, seizing the opportunity to burnish his image as savior of the nation.
Tens of thousands of people attended the event organized by Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party, which has dominated the country since it was installed by the Vietnamese forces which toppled Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot on Jan. 7, 1979.
The gathering on “Victory Over Genocide Day” attracted a much larger turnout than in previous years. Hun Sen’s control over Cambodia is stronger than ever following the systematic removal of his rivals before a July election.
The crackdown culminated in the dissolution of the main opposition party in November, a move lambasted by Western democracies as a naked power grab by the strongman, who is determined to extend his 32-year rule.
Speaking before a sea of supporters on Sunday, Hun Sen took credit for the stability and growth his government has overseen since the Khmer Rouge era. At least 1.7 million Cambodians died during the regime’s fanatical Maoist rule from 1975-79.
Most died through execution, starvation or overwork during the group’s attempts to transform the country into an agrarian utopia.
Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge cadre who later defected and joined the resistance, frequently reminds the public of Cambodia’s horrific past and warns that fresh unrest could break out if his government is ousted.
In a lengthy address Hun Sen also cheered the recent crushing of the opposition, saying it “evaded a new disaster for the nation, and will ensure the growth of democracy, human rights and rule of law in Cambodia.”
Rights groups strongly disagree, saying the move plunged Cambodia’s fragile democracy into peril.
The US and EU have withdrawn support for the July election due to the ruling, saying the vote would not be legitimate without the now dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party, which won 44.5 percent of the vote in the 2013 election, according to election authorities.
Hun Sen has responded by ramping up his ultra-nationalist rhetoric, reiterating on Sunday that “Cambodia does not bow to external pressure.”
After the speech Hun Sen and his wife released white doves into the crowd and received flowers from foreign diplomats.
Hun Sen’s self-styled reputation as rescuer of the impoverished kingdom was also on display in the past week in a new documentary recording his role in the toppling of the Khmer Rouge.
But while the premier boasts about the stability and economic growth nurtured during his time in office, critics point out the myriad rights abuses and endemic corruption that have flourished under his watch.
Some Cambodians have also criticized the celebration of the Jan. 7 anniversary, saying it represents the start of a decade-long occupation by Vietnam rather than a day of liberation.

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Europe Becomes Victim of Russia’s Newest Oil Strategy

Higher shipments of Russian crude oil to China may saddle European importers with a fatter bill, an industry consultancy warned at the end of last year, noting the latest stage of Russia’s Eastern pivot: the launch of the expanded East Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline that would lift Urals crude supply to China twofold, to 30 million tons annually.  FGE said in a note quoted by Bloomberg that Russia will start moving more Urals eastward right after the launch of the pipeline extension, at a rate of 160,000 bpd. The overall increase of…

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Palestinian conjoined twins separation surgery successful

Author: 
ARAB NEWS
Sun, 2018-01-07 19:41
ID: 
1515332631634414100

RIYADH: The separation surgery of Palestinian conjoined twins Farah and Haneen has been successful, announced Dr. Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al-Rabiah, adviser at the Royal Court and General Supervisor of King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) who is head of the medical and surgical team for the separation surgery.
Dr. Al-Rabiah affirmed that the situation of the twin is very stable and the separation surgery is going well in its sixth phase, which is the separation of the urinary system and the separation of the wall of hip, which takes 3 hours.
Dr. Al-Rabiah said that Farah is a parasitic twin and doesn’t have necessary organs to live because she doesn’t have heart, lungs, and brain.
“The surgery is going on as planned successfully, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will record it as the 45th successful twin separation surgery,” Dr. Al-Rabiah said, adding that Saudi Arabia, under the leadership of King Salman and the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who always lead by example when it comes to humanitarian action.
Dr. Mohammed Al-Namshan, Pediatric Surgery Consultant and a member of the surgical team said that the surgery started at 8 a.m., and the various stages would take up to 15 hours to complete.
Dr. Al Namshan added that Farah doesn’t have necessary organs to live, as she doesn’t have a normal heart, lungs, and trachea and also has cerebral atrophy, therefore she will be treated as a parasitic twin.
The surgery was held at King Abdullah Specialized Children Hospital in Riyadh.

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EU to invite Iran FM for talks over protests

Author: 
AFP
Sun, 2018-01-07 23:25
ID: 
1515356818896509200

BERLIN: The European Union will invite Iran’s foreign minister for talks about the recent anti-government protests that have hit the country, Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Sunday.
“Together with the EU’s foreign policy chief (Federica Mogherini), we agreed to invite the Iranian foreign minister, if possible next week,” Gabriel told German public broadcaster ZDF, without giving further details.
21 people have died and hundreds arrested since December 28 as protests over economic woes turned against the Iranian regime as a whole, with attacks on government buildings and police stations.
“We very quickly affirmed that we support the freedom to demonstrate and that the state should support this,” Gabriel said.
At the same time, Gabriel said Berlin will not follow the lead of US President Donald Trump, who pledged to help Iranians “take back” their government.
Trump also seized on the recent unrest to again slam a multiparty nuclear deal with Iran as deeply flawed.
Germany, as well as France, has “warned against attempts at instrumentalising the domestic conflicts in Iran,” said Gabriel.
The US on Friday took the Iran protests to the UN Security Council, where deep divisions emerged over the issue, with Russia arguing the demonstrations posed no threat to international peace and security.

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Work at car rentals to be limited to Saudis

Author: 
Arab News
Mon, 2018-01-08 03:00
ID: 
1515357092246539700

RIYADH: The spokesman of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, Khaled Abu Al-Khail, confirmed that the decision regarding limiting work at car rental outlets to Saudi nationals will start on March 18.
The spokesman noted that the labor and social development system will provide support in many fields including training and qualifying staff needed for nationalization; providing electronic training for young people in targeted activities; providing technical and financial support for young people wishing to get involved in free entrepreneurial work; holding necessary career forums to match employers and job seekers; and providing assistance in the field of inspection in cooperation with nationalization commissions.
Abu Al-Khail added that joint inspection teams will impose fines on offending facilities which would increase in case the offense is repeated. He also encouraged people to communicate with the Ministry of Labor and Social Development through various communication channels for any inquiries and/or complaints.

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Saudi students abroad get 10% stipend raise

Author: 
ARAB NEWS
Mon, 2018-01-08 03:00
ID: 
1515357092176538800

RIYADH: Minister of Education Dr. Ahmed Al-Issa congratulated Saudi scholarship students for being included in a royal decree which provided them a one-year 10 percent stipend increase.
Al-Issa stressed that the ministry is working on accomplishing procedures related to this royal decree to be included in the students’ stipends.
He also said that “the ministry is coordinating with the concerned authorities in the cultural attaches abroad to expedite the completion of the royal order.”
The minister added: “This generous gesture from King Salman to male and female students reflects the leadership’s care for them. It is a catalyst for them to complete their educational efforts and realize their aspirations and enjoy the state’s capabilities to contribute to building a generation capable of facing challenges and taking part in the development and building of their state.”

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UN chief concerned by Western Sahara tensions

Author: 
AFP
Mon, 2018-01-08 01:59
ID: 
1515334749974601800

UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is deeply concerned by a spike in tensions in a buffer zone in disputed Western Sahara, his spokesman said Saturday.
Morocco has accused the Algerian-backed Polisario Front of carrying out incursions in the buffer zone near Guerguerat, an area in southern Western Sahara near the Mauritanian border.
The UN chief “is deeply concerned about recent increased tensions in the vicinity of Guerguerat in the Buffer Strip in southern Western Sahara between the Moroccan berm and the Mauritanian border,” said a UN statement.
Guterres “calls on the parties to exercise maximum restraint and to avoid escalating tensions.”
“Regular civilian and commercial traffic should not be obstructed and no action should be taken, which may constitute a change to the status quo of the buffer strip,” it added.
A previous incursion of the Polisario at Guerguerat last year prompted the United Nations to intervene to force both Morocco and the Polisario to withdraw.
The spike in tensions come as new UN envoy Horst Kohler is working to restart talks between Morocco and the Polisario on ending the decades-old conflict.
Morocco and the Polisario fought for control of Western Sahara from 1974 to 1991, with Rabat taking over the desert territory before a UN-brokered cease-fire in the former Spanish colony.
Rabat considers Western Sahara an integral part of Morocco and proposes autonomy for the resource-rich territory, but the Polisario Front insists on a UN referendum on independence.

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British government set for Monday reshuffle

Author: 
AFP
Sun, 2018-01-07 13:49
ID: 
1515322376723212800

LONDON: Britain’s government is to undergo a reshuffle on Monday as Prime Minister Theresa May looks to reassert her authority following a string of high-profile departures, according to MPs.
Deputy prime minister Damian Green is set to be replaced after stepping down last month over a pornography scandal, following on from the departures of ministers Michael Fallon and Priti Patel embroiled in separate controversies.
“Damian Green’s departure before Christmas means that some changes do have to be made, and I will be making some changes,” May told BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday.
A Labour MP who wished to remain anonymous told AFP that the reshuffle would take place on Monday, having received confirmation from Conservative colleagues.
May’s Downing Street office also said that widespread reports that cabinet ministers would discover their fate on Monday were not inaccurate.
Green’s resignation came as part of a broader scandal over sexual harassment at Westminster, which prompted defense minister Fallon’s departure in November.
He was controversially replaced by chief whip Gavin Williamson.
Fallon’s resignation was followed a week later by that of Patel, Britain’s overseas aid minister, who stepped down over unauthorized meetings in Israel, but neither event triggered a reshuffle.
Former minister for armed forces Penny Mordaunt assumed Patel’s position on November 9.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is believed to be in line to take over Green’s role, but a winter crisis in the National Health Service that has led to delays to operations and hospital admissions, may have postponed the move.
The Sunday Telegraph also reported that education minister Justine Greening and party chairman Patrick McLoughlin were facing the sack.
Leading figures such as foreign minister Boris Johnson, finance minister Philip Hammond and Brexit Secretary David Davis are expected to stay in their roles.
May is also predicted to promote more women and racially diverse members.
Justice minister Dominic Raab, an ardent Brexit supporter, is reported to be in line for a top job.
May’s Brexit focus has now shifted toward what future relationship Britain will forge with the European Union, and she told Andrew Marr that she was looking for a trade deal that applied to goods and services.
“We want as frictionless and tariff-free relationship with the European Union as possible,” said the prime minister.
May was severely weakened in June when she lost her majority after calling a snap general election, but no challengers came forward and she ended the year strengthened after negotiating the first stage of Brexit.
She told Marr that she still hoped to lead her party into the 2022 election, saying: “I’m not a quitter. I’m in this for the long term.”
“Obviously I serve as long as people want me to serve,” she added.

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