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Embassy News

Touts and Minimum Wages For Indian Labourers

Touts and Minimum Wages For Indian Labourers

Beware of Touts

The Embassy regrets to inform that some Indian touts hang around its premises trying to cheat and mislead our nationals. All Indian nationals are advised to ignore these touts who are often seen hanging in the vicinity of Embassy premises. For any assistance/query w.r.t. passport, visa, attestation services, please contact the Embassy Officer on duty in the meeting room on all working days from 1000-1100 hrs and 1430-1530 hrs

 

At present the minimum wages for Indian labourers (both technical and non technical/farm workers) working in Private Sector (Visa No. 18) range from KD 70 to KD 80 per month.

After analyzing the labour market situation in the region, it has been decided to revise the Minimum Referral Wage to KD 100 per month for labourers/farm workers (including similar categories) with immediate effect. 

The aforementioned minimum wage will continue to remain exclusive of accommodation, food and other amenities stipulated in the Kuwaiti laws and regulations.  The revision of wages of other categories of workers in Private Sector will be announced later.  

Direct Admission of Students Abroad (DASA) 2015 – 16

 
The Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India has announced The ‘Direct Admission of Students Abroad (DASA) 2015 – 16’ scheme for the year 2015-16.  According to this scheme, MHRD offers admissions for Foreign Nationals/ Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs)/Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) under Direct Admission of Students Abroad (DASA) Scheme for Undergraduate programmes in Engineering/Architecture/ Planning for the Academic year 2015-16 to National Institutes of Technology (NITs), Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IITs), Schools of Planning and Architecture (SPAs) and other premier Technical Institutions in India.  

2.            Coordinator of DASA 2015 has been assisting NRIs, PIOs and foreign nationals for pursuing Under-graduate courses in Engineering/Architecture/ Planning Programmes in Indian Institutions.  Details of the programmes are available on their website : www.dasanit.org; www.mher.gov.in ; www.mnit.ac.in.   Those interested may please contact the Coordinator DASA 2015, DASA office, Malaviya National Institute of Technology Jaipur, J.L.N. Marg, Jaipur – 302 017, Rajasthan, India (Phone : +91 141 2713164,; Fax +91 141 2529129, Email : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,) Admission  Brochure  with the detailed information would be down loaded from their website.
 
 
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MINIMUM WAGES FOR INDIAN DOMESTIC WORKERS

 MINIMUM WAGES FOR INDIAN DOMESTIC WORKERS

At present the minimum wages for Indian domestic workers, houseboys/cooks and house drivers (holders of Visa No. 20) range from KD 70 to 75 per month. 

2.       After studying the labour-market situation in the region, it has been decided to revise the minimum referral wage in the employment contracts being attested by the Embassy to Kuwaiti Dinar 100 per month with effect from 1 March 2015 for all Indian domestic workers coming to Kuwait on Visa No. 20.     The aforementioned minimum wage will continue to remain exclusive of accommodation, food and other amenities stipulated in the Kuwaiti laws and regulations.

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WELFARE MEASURE FROM THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA

WELFARE MEASURE FROM THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
We receive, on a daily basis, some highly distressed Indian nationals who visit the Embassy for various reasons.  Many of them are either runaway housemaids or male domestic workers/workers at farms who have escaped ill-treatment and torture meted out to them by their sponsors in Kuwait.  They often seek shelter in Embassy and help in repatriation. 
2.       These distressed Indian nationals are often found hungry and dehydrated.     As an immediate welfare measure from the Government of India, the Embassy will provide all of them light snacks and soft drink free-of-cost while attending to their personal problems.
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HIRING OF AUDITORIUM AT THE EMBASSY OF INDIA, KUWAIT

Hiring of the Auditorium at the Embassy of India, Kuwait

              The Embassy has been making available its Auditorium for social, artistic and cultural events since January 2014 to various Indian Associations at a nominal charge.  The user charge is being revised as some of the services needed have been outsourced for better quality.  The revised change is as under:

Item

Cost without food being served

Cost with food being served

Basic charge for the Auditorium

KD150

KD200

Cost of cleaning (payable to Kuwait Swedish Cleaning Co.)

KD 75

KD 75

Cost of hiring two Local Security Guards (payable to G4S Security)

KD 48

KD 48

Honorarium to four local staff involved in events

KD 27

KD 27

Total

KD300

KD350

              The above cost structure is for one programme of 4-hour duration.  In addition, a refundable Security deposit of KD100 is required to be paid per programme.  In case the Auditorium is required for a longer duration than 4-hour, additional user charge is to be paid.

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Suggestions and Clarifications -Indian Embassy

 Suggestions and Clarifications -Indian Embassy
The Embassy would like to respond to the various suggestions/remarks which have been received on “Indians in Kuwait” to further improve the services of the Embassy:-

S.No

Suggestion/Remark

Response

1.

To provide a needful help for domestic workers.

Regarding domestic workers who are treated very badly in Kuwait, the Embassy would like to inform that there is a dedicated Labour Wing which looks after the Indian community. The Embassy has been regularly taking up the issue of ill-treatment of domestic workers with the local authorities. The Embassy is providing shelters to distressed male & female domestic workers

 

2.

To pay for services by Debit and Credit cards

The Embassy has already introduced a system of paying by Debit cards. There is an option to pay either through cash or K-net facility.

 

3.

To reduce/cancel Indian Public Holidays

There is a system in place to facilitate the work of the people who come for Consular Services on all Gazetted Holidays and also on week-ends. But due to the sensitivities involved, the Embassy cannot cancel Indian Holidays.

 

4.

Rent for accommodation is increasing day by day.

The Embassy cannot interfere in the matter of rent for accommodation because we have to follow the law of the land.

 

5.

Allow NRIs to apply for PAN & Aadhar cards.

The Embassy is working out modalities with the concerned authorities in India so that the NRIs can apply for PAN & Aadhar cards. But this will take some time.

 

6.

Stopping of Indian house maids to Kuwait

Indian housemaids are continuing to come to Kuwait for work through private recruitment agencies over which Ministry of Overseas Indians (MOIA), Government of India has limited control.

 

 

7.

Opening of an Indian Bank and NRI quota in various Exams.

The Embassy cannot do anything as regards opening of an Indian bank and NRI quota in UPSC and PSC exams.

8.

Additional counters in the Embassy for quicker Consular Services.

To improve our services, the Embassy is exploring the possibilities of increasing its staff strength to improve our consular services and increased work pressure. Number of working hours (8 hours) cannot be increased.

 

9.

Introduce E-voting from Kuwait

Being examined for implementation.

10.

Reduce fees of various consular services like Visa, Passport, Attestation etc.

With regard to various charges for Consular services, the Embassy has no control as these are  fixed all over the world as per the orders of the Government of India.

 

11.

Reduction of charges for correspondence courses.

The charges for correspondence courses are perceived to be expensive as Courier and Postal charges outside India are very high, apart from  over-head expenses.

 

12

Sale of Indian Postal Stamps and Revenue stamps in the Mission

The Embassy is examining the possibility of the sale of Indian Postal stamps and Revenue stamps.

13.

Training embassy staff and to be polite in public dealing.

Training of staff is a continuous process and everyone in the Mission have been advised to be courteous and polite so that the public feels comfortable. Contact details of the staff are available on the Website under heading of “Embassy Team and its Tasks”. 

 

14.

Lack of Parking space in front of Indian Embassy

Regarding parking space, the Embassy has its limitations. But the Mission is trying to solve it with the help of neighbouring Embassies who are based in Diplomatic Enclave.

15.

Introduction of suitable Insurance scheme for Indian Expats

All concerned are advised to get in touch with LIC and Oriental Insurance whose details and other relevant conditions are available on the Embassy’s Website.

 

16.

Hold public meetings regularly at different locations

The Embassy has its limitations due to shortage of manpower and increased work pressure. But the Embassy has a system of Open Durbars where anyone can come without prior appointment. Details are available on the Embassy’s Website.

 

 

Merger of PIO and OCI Schemes

Merger of PIO and OCI Schemes

The Embassy wishes to inform that Person of Indian Origin (PIO) card scheme has been withdrawn by Government of India and has been merged with Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card scheme w.e.f 9th January 2015. Hence as per Government of India Gazette Notification No.11 dated 9th January 2015, all PIO cardholders will be deemed to be Overseas Citizens of India cardholder.  Therefore, the Embassy of India will no longer be issuing PIO cards.  Fresh applications will be accepted only for Overseas Citizenship of India cards. For any clarification, please contact Mr. J.S. Dangi, Second Secretary (Consular) at Telephone No. 22533315, Mobile No.97229947 & e mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. & Shri D. K. Tripathi, Consular Wing at Telephone No.22530600 Extn-235 

INDIA GLOBAL ON AIR FM GOLD

INDIA GLOBAL ON AIR FM GOLD

The Embassy would like to inform that the next episode of “INDIA GLOBAL” on AIR FM Gold will be on Kuwait. This program will be aired on 13 February 2015 at 2.00 P.M. (4.30 PM IST). All those who are interested may be informed that it would also be available on the AIR Website www.newsonair.com besides the channel on youtube of the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi at https://www.youtube.com/user/MEAIndiaand at https://soundcloud.com/meaindia

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Nodal Agency To Promote Indian Education Abroad

Nodal Agency To Promote Indian Education Abroad

The Embassy would like to inform that the EdCIL (India) Limited, a Government of India Enterprise, formerly known as Educational Consultants India Limited (Ed.CIL) has been designated as the “Nodal Agency” to promote Indian education abroad.

            EdCIL has been assisting NRIs, PIOs and foreign nationals for pursuing Under-graduate courses, Post-Graduate Courses and Doctoral Programmes in Indian Institutions.  Details of assistance provided by EdCIL to Indian Diaspora as well as foreign nationals are available on  their website ‘www.edcilindia.co.in’. Those interested may pleasecontact Dr. Shaik Suleman, Head, Placement & Secondment, EdCIL (India) Ltd., EdCIL House-18-A, Sector-16-A, NOIDA - 201301, U.P. (Tel. 0091-120-2515281, Fax : 0091-120-2515372, E-mail : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), for further information.

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K-NET FACILITY at Embassy

Payment of consular fees through K-Net facility

It has been the endeavour of the Embassy to make its services prompt, courteous and easily accessible to all Indian nationals in Kuwait. As part of these ongoing efforts and to facilitate those paying consular fees for various services, the Embassy has started accepting payment of fees through K-Net Facility at the Embassy in addition to the existing system of cash payment. Those interested can avail the facility for payment of consular fees through the K-Net facility through any application counter at the Embassy.

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DEATH COMPENSATION CASES

DEATH COMPENSATION CASES

In case of death of an Indian national in a road accident / work-site accident / other accident, the Embassy has been invariably sending an advisory message through a registered letter to the legal heirs of the deceased (copy enclosed for circulation among the Indian community in Kuwait ) to appoint the Embassy as their Attorney and forward Power of Attorney and Legal Heirship certificate, duly attested by the concerned authorities in India (i)  District Magistrate or First Class Magistrate; (ii) Authorized officer of the State Government (Home Department); (iii) Ministry of External Affairs, Consular Section, New Delhi or Branch Secretariat of the Ministry of External Affairs (outside Delhi) for filing a claim for death compensation on behalf of the legal heirs.  The Legal Heirship certificate and Power of Attorney are required by the Kuwaiti authorities for processing the claim for death compensation.  In India, the concerned State Government issues legal heirship certificate in form of “family member Certificate” or “ Certificate” which carry the same information which the local authorities required to be mentioned in the legal heirship certificate.  Such documents are accepted by the local authorities at par with the legal heirship certificate.

2.      The legal heirs of the deceased can appoint any person of their choice, who is residing in Kuwait or Embassy of India, as their attorney for filing a case for death compensation with the concerned Kuwaiti authorities. According to the local laws, death compensation cases related to work-site accident should be filed within ONE YEAR and traffic accident case should be filed within THREE YEARS from the date of accident, otherwise it becomes time barred.

3.      The Embassy has five qualified lawyers on its panel whose services can be utilized in these cases.  The advocate normally charges ten percent of the total compensation / service dues awarded by the local court / employer as lawyer fee.  Apart from this the actual expenses on translation, attestation of documents and court fees (usually 2.5% of the compensation amount) are also charged by the advocate. The remaining amount is transmitted to the concerned District Collector for reimbursement to the legal heirs. It may be noted that the Kuwaiti court does not award any compensation in those cases where the accident/ death was due to negligence / fault of the deceased.

4.      If the legal heirs appoint a private lawyer by their own, then Embassy has no role in claiming insurance claims.  The legal heirs should communicate directly to the lawyer in that case.

5.      Generally, the local authority takes 3-4 years time for settlement of death compensation cases. In case, the case file is referred to the Higher Appeal Court, it may take longer period for settlement.

6.      Please circulate these information among the community members after translating in vernacular language so that the family members are aware of the facility available with Embassy and are not duped by local agents who have been promising them unrealistic amount and charging 30-50% of compensation money as their fees.

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Mumbai based company with Kuwait University

Mumbai based company with Kuwait University

Shapoorji Pallonji & Co. Ltd., Mumbai on 26 January 2015 signed a contract worth KD 150 million (about USD 513 million) with Kuwait University (KU), Kuwait for Construction, Operation and Maintenance of the buildings of Colleges of Law, Social Sciences and Sharia and Islamic Studies in the Sabah Al-Salem University City.  Shapoorji Pallonji operates in Kuwait with its local Joint Venture partner Al-Sager Trading & Contracting Company since January 2011.

Kuwait University

2.      The signing ceremony was attended by H.E. Dr. Bader Hamad Al-Essa, Minister of Education and Minister of Higher Education of the State of Kuwait; Dr. Abdullatif Al-Bader, Director of Kuwait University; Dr. Qutaiba Abdul-Razzaq Razouki, Director of Kuwait University Construction Program (KUCP); Mr. Mohan Dass Saini, Managing Director & CEO, Shapoorji Pallonji International; Mr. Aroon Sen, Country Head, Shapoorji Pallonji, Kuwait and Mohd. Yusuf Al-Sager, Chairman, Al Sager General Trading & Contracting Co., Kuwait.  

3.      H.E. Dr. Bader Hamad Al-Essa said that “the contract, which will be completed within four years, constitutes a big step towards the completion of the city project, since the Sabah Al-Salem University City is part of Kuwait's Development Plan.” 

Kuwait University

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India Channel Available in Kuwait

Doordarshan India channel is available in Free-to-Air mode in Kuwait

Doordarshan India channel is available in Free-to-Air mode in Kuwait  and rest of the Gulf region. The channel carried Live telecast of the Indian Republic Day celebrations on 26 January 2015. It will also carry live transmission of “Beating Retreat” Ceremony in New Delhi scheduled on 29 January 2015. Its downlink parameters are as under:-

Satellite                      Hotbird-13B

Frequency                 11.604 GHz

Polarization               Horizontal

FEC                            5/6

Symbol rate               27.500 Msymbols/s

All interested may like to utilize the above Live-streaming series of Doordarshan.      

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SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT ON THE OCCASION OF 66TH REPUBLIC DAY OF INDIA

 
From Looking East to Acting East
 - C. Raja Mohan
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi surprised the world with his passion for foreign policy, Asia has inevitably taken the centre stage in the conduct of his government’s diplomacy. It was widely expected that the emphasis of Mr. Modi, when he became the Prime Minister of India at the end of May 2014, would be on reviving India’s economic growth that had slowed down in the first years of this decade. For Mr. Modi though diplomacy and economic development are deeply interconnected.
Summing up the government’s expansive diplomatic activism in the second half of 2014, the external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj told the parliament at the end of the year that the “Prime Minister has consistently advocated a proactive and innovative approach to foreign policy that is aligned with our Government’s primary goal of accelerating national economic development. India needs access to capital, technology, resources, energy, markets and skills, a secure environment, a peaceful neighbourhood and a stable global trading system”
Once Indian diplomacy was put at the service of India’s development, Asia with its economic dynamism has become a major priority  presented for the Foreign Office. In the early 1990s, Prime Minister Narasimha Rao unveiled the Look East Policy to reconnect with Asia as part of India’s economic globalisation. Nearly quarter of a century later, Mr. Modi has again turned to Asia to improve India’s economic fortunes. The policy of ‘Acting East’ is about injecting new vigour and purpose into India’s Asia policy.
In the intervening decades India’s economic engagement with the region has grown considerably and Delhi is very much part of the regional institutions led by the ASEAN (the Association of South East Asian Nations). Yet there was no denying the sense that India had not realised the full potential of its partnerships with the Asian nations.
Mr. Modi was in a good position to change this, given his personal interest in the region. As the chief minister of Gujarat for more than a decade, Mr. Modi had traveled the region extensively. His destinations included China, Japan, Singapore and Australia, where he had actively sought investments from the region into Gujarat. Leading businesses in the region were impressed by the level of development and the ease of doing business in the state. East Asia The region therefore was quick to welcome the arrival of the Modi government and embrace its agenda for economic development.
During his visit to Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, promised to mobilise nearly $35 billion dollars of aid and investment into India in the next five years. The Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to India set an investment target of about $ 20 billion in the coming years. As the business and economic environment improves under Mr. Modi, more investments are likely from across East Asia, including Korea, Australia and the South East Asian nations. A significant part of these investements, Delhi hopes, will be directed at the modernisation of India’s physical infrastructure.
Mr. Modi has tapped into the interest in both Japan and China in the development of high speed railways in India. Tokyo and Beijing have ambitious plans to build trans-border transport corridors between India and East Asia. China is pressing for the Indian participation in the the development of the so-called BCIM corridor that will connect China’s south western province of Yunnan with Myanmar, Bangladesh and India. Tokyo has promised to modernise road networks in the north eastern provinces and contribute to the development of maritime corridors between peninsular India and South East Asia. Connectivity—over land and sea— is also a major priority for the new government in its engagement with the ASEAN.
Modi has also significantly expanded the geographic scope of India’s Look East policy. He has become the first prime minister in 28 years to visit Australia that has emerged as a major partner for India. Modi also became the first Indian PM in 33 years to travel to Fiji, which has a sizeable population of Indian origin. Modi also took the opportunity to host a  meeting in Fiji with all the leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum.
Mr Modi and Ms Swaraj have put a special emphasis on promoting India’s soft power in the region—through a vigorous engagement with the diaspora and a strong commitment to build on shared civilisational bonds. For the new government renewing cultural and spiritual connectivity with Asia are  as important as physical connectivity.     
The Modi government is also fully engaged with the emerging political challenges in East Asia. Modi has reaffirmed the centrality of ASEAN in building a stable and prosperous order in East Asia and the Pacific. He cautioned the region, where territorial disputes are threatening peace, against the expansionist concepts of the 19th century and sustain the focus on development. On the territorial disputes in the South China Sea, Modi was firm in stating India’s deep interests in the freedom of navigation in sea and air. He underlined the importance of all parties abiding by the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas.
Under the previous governments, Delhi’s Look East Policy did recognise the centrality of maritime security and the need to expand India’s defence partnerships with Asia. The Modi government’s Act East Policy is pursuing these objectives with a new sense of urgency. Amidst a historic power shift in the region and the increasing uncertainty in the relations among the major powers, including the U.S., China and Japan, there has been a growing demand for a larger Indian security role in the region.
In the last few months, India has begun to deepen defence ties with the United States, Japan, Australia and Vietnam. Delhi does not however, view its defence diplomacy in the region as part of an alignment with one great power against another. The objective of India is to engage all powers, strengthen the regional institutions and contribute effectively to maintenance of a stable balance of power in Asia and its waters.   
(C. Raja Mohan is a distinguished fellow at the Observer Research Foundation and a contributing editor for The Indian Express)

From Proximity to Prosperity: Connectivity as a Resource for Development in a Globalised Economy


- Shyam Saran

Our globalised and inter-connected world today revolves around connectivity in the broadest sense of that term. It includes  physical infrastructure in terms of roads, railroads , waterways and sea ports  that enable the  carriage of  goods,  services, peoples and ideas both within and across national borders. In our digital age, there are also virtual highways that enable the efficient movement of physical goods and services. They additionally  serve as transmission channels for provision of services and the exchange of ideas which create value. But putting in place physical or digital infrastructure is not enough. We need accompanying   software including policy, regulatory and procedural regimes to facilitate quick  movement within the country as well as across national frontiers. Connectivity enables proximity and proximity is an asset which generates prosperity. Within national boundaries,  connectivity is indispensable to the creation of a national market.  Nations which are connected with each other in this larger sense are then able to participate in the regional and global value chains which are the hall-mark of modern global economy. If connectivity is missing or is inefficient, then the comparative advantage a country may have in producing certain goods and services would be reduced or even wiped out because of higher transaction costs.

There is no doubt that India has made significant progress in recent years in linking different parts of the vast country through a more extensive and efficient transport infrastructure. For example, total length of roads in the country increased from 4 lakh kilometres in 1951 to over 4.6 million kilometres in 2013. This is the second largest road network in the world. However the quality of the roads is extremely varied with national highways constituting less than one-third of the total. Furthermore, cargo traffic on the highways is held up at a number of octroi stations at inter-state crossing points. A cargo truck travelling from Mumbai to Kolkata has to negotiate 36 checkpoints along the route. In the U.S., there is only one barrier to cross in the journey from San Franscisco to New York. While rail freight in our country is subject to fewer interruptions and volume wise cheaper, the rail network has grown much less than road transport and feeder services have not kept pace. The proposed high speed freight corridor which will run across the country from Mumbai to Delhi and then east to Kolkata is likely to bring about a major and significant improvement in rail transportation within the country.  Water borne transportation has fallen into  disuse in our country though it is being revived. There is a World Bank assisted project to establish modern river transport in the Brahmaputra basin which would also reconnect Bangladesh and India.

In this context one should note the communication revolution which the mobile telephone has brought about in India. There are now over 900 million mobile subscribers in the country and this number continues to grow each year . They  also constitute a platform for connectivity, creating new markets, connecting producers to consumers more efficiently and enabling vast amounts of data to flow seamlessly across communities. This can and is having a multiplier effect on economic activity through the closer  proximity it creates.

Moving on to our sub-continental neighbourhood, it remains true that our countries are even less connected with each other today than in 1947. Several major transport arteries, including rail, road and water transport, were all interrupted after the partition of India in 1947. Even though some cross-border transport linkages are being re-established with both Bangladesh and Pakistan, they are not generating the benefits they should because of cumbersome customs, immigration and security procedures at border crossing points. Cargo movement is also held up due to lack of accompanying banking, testing and inspection facilities. These issues are now being addressed through an ambitious Indian plan to set up a network of Integrated Checkpoints (ICP) on borders with neighbouring countries. These ICPs which are being set up by the newly constituted Land Port Authority of India ( LPAI ), will incorporate, at one location, immigration, customs, security,warehousing, phyto-sanitary testing facilities as also banking and exchange facilities. There would be adequate parking, boarding and lodging and health facilities for the welfare of traders, truckers and other categories of travellers. One such ICP has already been set up at Attari on the India-Pakistan border. Several others are in various stages of implementation on India’s borders with Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. The ICP at the Tamu-Moreh border point on the India-Myanmar border is already under construction. The back-end linkages in terms of modern highways and, where necessary railway connections are also being put in place with these countries mainly through Indian funding. Of special note in this regard are the proposed Trilateral Highway connecting India, Myanmar and Thailand and  the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transport project linking the Myanmar port of Sittwe with Mizoram in our North-East and with Kolkata across the Bay of Bengal. Several highways across the India-Nepal and India-Bhutan borders are being upgraded and new rail links are planned. These transport links will bring closer the vision of a South Asia where there is a free flow of goods, peoples and ideas transcending political boundaries.

Leaders of South Asia have declared the decade of 2010-2020 as the Decade of Connectivity in the region. That in itself is a major step forward because it represents a political consensus on the importance of connectivity for shared prosperity. Two landmark agreements have been negotiated and are ready for adoption. One is the Motor Vehicles agreement and the other is a Railways agreement. When implemented, these agreements will go a long way in enabling the smooth movement of goods and peoples across national boundaries.

India has also given priority to its connectivity with ASEAN countries. The India-Myanmar transport projects are important because Myanmar is India’s gateway to South-East Asia. ASEAN has its own connectivity plan and India is working to align its own transport infrastructure development plans with ASEAN. These include cross-border rail and road connectivity, maritime , air and digital connectivity. These must be accompanied by better logistics and efficient border clearances. Only then would it be possible for India to participate in the regional and global value chains which are already highly developed in ASEAN and Asia-Pacific in general.

Ultimately what is required is a mind-set change in India. We must start looking at national boundaries not as impenetrable walls behind which we must protect ourselves from hostile influences beyond, but rather as “connectors”, bringing India closer to its neighbours and through them, the region and world . Cross- border links then become transmission belts for the free flow of development impulses. Transport corridors thus become  economic corridors. Through much of its history, India was a flourishing civilisation, leveraging its geographical location at the cross-roads of the ancient caravan routes connecting to Central Asia. Thanks to its peninsular character , lying astride the Indian Ocean, India was also at the centre of the monsoon-driven ocean routes both to the East and the West. India flourished because it was a connected nation. India’s future lies in learning the lessons from its own cosmopolitan past.
 
( Shyam Saran is a former foreign secretary, is currently chairman of the National Security Advisory Board and RIS, as well as a senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi )

Gods of Zero and Infinity

 - Devdutt Pattanaik
If you travel to the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, and visit a place called Deo-garh, which literally means citadel of the gods, you will find the ruins of a Hindu temple, one of the oldest, at least 1500 years old, built by the kings of the Gupta dynasty. On its walls, there is the image of a man reclining on the coils of a serpent with many hoods, surrounded by his wife and many warriors and sages. Its clearly inspired by a scene from the royal court. But it is clearly a celestial scene, visualisation of the moment when the world was created.
For Hindus, the world is created when Narayana awakes. Narayana is the god reclining on the serpent with multiple-hoods. When he is in dreamless slumber, the world does not exist. When he awakens, the world comes into being. Narayana is thus a visual representation of human consciousness, which awakening heralds the creation of our world.
What is interesting is the serpent on whose coils Narayana reclines. Its name is: Adi-Ananta-Sesha, which literally means Primal-Limitless-Residue, which is numerically visualised as One-Infinity-Zero. For with consciousness, we become aware of the first moment of beginnings, of limitless possibilities, and of nothingness that existed before the first moment.
The Hindu worldview has always been obsessed with infinity (everything-ness) and zero (nothingness) and with the number one (the beginning). More than Hindu, it is the Indic worldview, the substratum of thought which gave rise to three major ideas: Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, all of which speak of rebirth, cyclical time, and a world where there are no boundaries. Buddhism came up with ideas such as nirvana (oblivion) and shunya (which literally means zero). Jainism spoke of a world of endless possibilities (an-ekanta-vada).  
This is in stark contrast to the Greek worldview where the world begins as chaos until the gods create order. And with order comes definitions, boundaries, certainty, and predictability. It is also different from the Abrahamic worldview where God creates the world out of nothingness and the world he creates in seven days has a definite expiry date: the Apocalypse. The Greek and Abrahamic worldviews inform what we call the Western worldview today that is obsessed with organisation, and is terrified of disorder, and unpredictability, something Indians are used to and rather comfortable with, even thriving in it.
The story goes that when Alexander, the Great, after having conquered Persia, visited India, he met a sage on the banks of the river Indus, who he referred to as a gymno-sophist or naked wise man, in Greek. This sage sat on a rock and spent all day staring at the sky. Alexander asked him what he was doing and the sage replied, “Experiencing nothingness.” The sage asked Alexander what was he doing. Alexander replied, “I am conquering the world.” Both laughed. Each one thought the other was a fool. For Alexander, the sage was wasting his one and only life doing nothing. For the sage, Alexander was wasting his time trying to conquer a world that has no limits, with a sense of urgency that made no sense when one lives infinite lives. Belief in one life, which is the hallmark of Greek worldview, and later Abrahamic, results us in valuing achievements. But belief in rebirth, hence infinite lives, which is the hallmark of Indic worldview, makes achievements meaningless, and puts the focus on wisdom and understanding. When the denominator of life is one, the world is different from when the denominator of life is infinity.  
India’s philosophical obsession with infinity and zero led to mathematicians not just conceptualising the idea of zero, but also giving it a form (a dot), and finally using it in a decimal system. This happened around the same time that the Gupta kings built the temple in Deogarh. The mathematician Brahmagupta, 638 AD, is associated with giving form to the number zero, and formulating the first rules with its usage. The rise of the decimal system enabled the writing of vast numbers, of huge value, a practice that has been traced to even Vedic texts written around 1000 BCE, values that are not seen in any other parts of the world.
The Arab sea-merchants who frequented the coasts of India, and who dominated the rich spice and textile trade then (before the European sea-farers took over in the 16th century) saw value in this system and took it with them to Arabia. The Arab mathematician Khowarizimi suggested use of a little circle for zero. This circle was called ‘sifr’ which means ‘empty’, which eventually became ‘zero’.  Zero travelled from Arabia through Persia and Mesopotamia to Europe during the Crusades. In Spain, Fibonacci found it useful to do equations without using the abacus. Italian government was suspicious of this Arabic numbering system and so outlawed it. But the merchants used it secretly, which is why ‘sifr’ became ‘cipher’, meaning ‘code’.
It comes as a shock to many people that the modern use of the number zero is less than thousand years old, and that it became popular less than 500 years ago. Had it not been for the arrival of zero, neither would the Cartesian coordinate system nor calculus have developed in the 16th century. Zero enabled people to conceptualize large numbers and helped in book keeping and accounting. In the 20th century, came the binary system which forms the foundation of modern computing. All because some wild Indian sages conceptualised the universe and their gods in terms of zero and infinity.
 

Devdutt Pattanaik is author of over 30 books and 400 articles on relevance of mythology in modern times. A 2009 TED speaker, he is renowned for drawing attention to the Indian consequence-based approach to management, quite distinct from objective-based modern management . To know more about him visit devdutt.com
 
India - The Wonder Republic @ 65

- S. Y. Quraishi

Think India, and two words spring up in mind – Democracy and Republic. That India is the world’s largest republic is common knowledge. What, however, is lesser known is that republic is in India’s DNA.
 SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT  OF 66TH REPUBLIC DAY OF INDIA We had republics in India prior to the oldest known republics like  classical Athens (508 – 322 BC) and Roman Republic (c.509 – 27 BC). Many Indian republics  preceded these,  most notably the Vaijjian confederacy in Vaishali (in Bihar) around 600 BC in the times of Lord Buddha. Since then, we have recurring evidence of republics in India. In 1830, Sir Charles Metcalfe, the then acting Governor General of India wrote, “The village communities are little republics, having nearly everything they want within themselves and almost independent of any foreign relations.” It is these self contained, self governing village republics that have ensured the continuity and survival of the the great Indian civilisation which even the mightiest of empires  could never penetrate.
Today the biggest republic of the world envelops in itself half a million tiny village republics managing their affairs through self governance called the Panchayati Raj ( the rule of the village community). India now basks in 64 years of republican glory. It will be interesting to retrospect over these momentous years.
A vibrant electoral democracy has been India’s most enduring and endearing identity ever since India adopted a  great constitution that made it a democratic republic with universal adult suffrage.  This  was considered by the developed countries as afoolhardy misadventure. Their skepticism was based on the ground realities of the time. India had just got devastated by a deadly partition in which millions of lives were lost. It was an unequal, fractured caste based hierarchical society with 84% illiteracy and extreme poverty. How will they rule themselves?
The prophets of doom were silenced before long. India took to democracy like fish takes to water.
Adjusting  itself to the new environment of freedom and democracy in no time. India went on to  prove Nobel laureate Amartya Sen’s famous statement that a country does not become fit for democracy, it becomes fit through democracy.
Over the past sixty four years, the Election Commission of India  has delivered sixteen elections to the Lok Sabha (the House of the People) and over 360 elections to State Legislative Assemblies without missing a single deadline. Peaceful, orderly and democratic transfer of power has been the envy of the entire democratic world. The outgoing prime minister ( or chief minister) offering the chair to the incoming one with humility and folded hands has been a sight which many democracies only long to  see.
PM Modi called on  the outgoing PM Manmohan Singh just after taking his oath of office. ( www.cuurentnewsofindia.com)
The fourteenth General Election in May 2014, was the biggest election in world history. As many as 554 million of 834 million registered voters exercised their franchise at 931,986 polling booths on 1.8 million electronic voting machines (EVMs). In sheer size, the Indian electorate is bigger than the combined voter population of each continent. In fact, it is like 90 countries rolled into one, not just in terms of numbers alone but the complexities as well.
And the numbers are always growing. GE 2014 saw the addition of over 118 million voters since the last General Election in 2009. In terms of the voting population, this is like adding an entire Pakistan, or South Africa and South Korea combined, or three Canadas, or four Australias, or 10 Portugals or 20 Finlands!
India is undoubtedly the most diverse country in the world -multi-religious, multi-cultural, multi-lingual, and multi-ethnic, besides geographical diversity (deserts, mountains, plains, forests, islands, and coastal areas). We have all the world's major religions, 22 official languages and 780 spoken languages.  The demands of this diversity can be mind boggling. Equally difficult are the other challenges of fighting terrorism, security threats, adjusting to globalisation and rising expectations of IT savvy growing middle class.
Inclusion and Participation the key features of the republic
Elections can be truly free and fair only if these are inclusive, socially just and participative. During the sixty four years of our democratic history, the voter turnout has remained around 55-60%, definitely far less than what ECI aspires to achieve. To address this, ECI came up with a Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) wing that rolls out multi-media campaigns to bring all citizens, especially the urban upper and middle class, the youth and women, into electoral participation. Dramatic results followed. During the last four years every state and the national election saw record turnouts, in most cases highest in history!
National Voters Day was one of the highlights of the programme focussing on the youth turning 18. A drive was launched to locate such youth well in advance and on 25 January ( the founding day of the ECI) at  felicitations organised at all the 800,000 polling stations to be celebrated as the National Voters Day (NVD).
The first NVD was inaugurated by the President of India on 25 January 2011, in the presence of Chief Election Commissioners of over thirty countries. The beauty of the programme is that for this countrywide celebration, not a single extra rupee was demanded. We used the normal funds for electoral registration activities but converted it into a major national ‘event’. Many countries evinced interest in this unique, zero cost but effective model and some subsequently adopted it.
Use of Technology
Managing elections  in  a  country  of  subcontinental dimensions  cannot  be  done  easily  without the  application of every possible technology.  This  has brought great  efficiency in the electoral process. These technologies are rigorously field- tested before adoption to ensure absolute reliability. We have seen many elections in several countries collapsing because of hasty introduction of untested technology.
EVMs: The Wonder Machine of Indian Democracy
EVMs  have  been  used  in  all elections  to  Parliamentary  and  Legislative Assembly constituencies since November  1998. It has revolutionised counting, making it  quick, peaceful, efficient and free from invalid votes. The counting day disputes and tensions have just disappeared. No surprise that it has come to be described as a wonder machine of Indian democracy. Many countries have adopted these like – Bhutan, Nepal and Namibia with many more studying it in depth.
EVMs have undergone frequent updation. The latest innovation is the addition of a voter verifiable paper  audit  trail (VVPAT). VVPAT allows voters to  verify  that  their  vote  was  cast  correctly,  and  to  provide  a means to audit  the stored  electronic  results. Now we have the most transparentand credible voting system in the world.
Four hallmarks characterise the way in which  the ECI handles the mammoth task: independence, transparency, neutrality and professionalism.That  ensures full public  trust in the Commission.
A distinctive new feature of the last general election was the significant role played by the New Media, including mobile telephony and social media, in any election for the first time. Some went so far as to call social media the new election 'battleground' and GE 2014 the first social media election.
Conclusion:
One of the secrets of the success of the Election Commission of India is its openness to new ideas and to learning from its mistakes and achievements. We, therefore, expect that every election is better than the previous best. EC's  efforts in pursuit of excellence  must go on. Not just India but the world has a great stake in the success of democracy in the region.
Realising that  that the  aspiring democracies around the world look forward to sharing the knowledge, skills and expertise at ECI’s disposal, the Commission set up the India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management (IIDEM), as a training and resource centre in elections and democratic processes for both national and international participants. In just three years of its existence, the institute has imparted training to election managers of over fifty Afro Asian and Commonwealth countries, besides thousands of domestic master trainers.  The Institute has now become a training hub for assisting representative democracy worldwide.
A stage has come in India when holding a free and fair election is taken for granted. In fact not holding one would be news. We must not let that happen. This is India’s promise to its own people and to the world.

[ SYQuraishi, a former civil servant, was the 17th Chief Election Commisssioner of India. His earlier postings included Secretary Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs, DG, National AIDS Control Organisation ( NACO), DG, Doordarshan, the world's largest national broadcaster, et al. ]
 
INDIA’S INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE: A CIVILISATIONAL LEGACY TO THE WORLD

 - Bhaswati Mukherjee

Background

    India’s intangible cultural heritage flows from her 5000 year old culture and civilisation.  Dr. A.L. Basham, in his authoritative “Cultural History of India”, has noted that “While there are four main cradles of civilisation which, moving from East to West, are China, India, the Fertile Crescent and the Mediterranean, specially Greece and Italy, India deserves a larger share of credit because she has deeply affected the cultural life of most of Asia.  She has also extended her influence, directly and indirectly, to other parts of the World.”  

2.    The civilisation that developed in the Valleys of our two great river systems, the Indus and the Ganges, although in a sharply demarcated geographical region due to the Himalayas, was complex, multi-faceted and was  never an isolated civilisation.  The notion that before the impact of European learning, science and technology, the ‘East’ including China and India changed little if at all, over the centuries is false and should be rejected.  Indian civilisation has always been dynamic, not static.  Settlers and traders came to India from the land and sea routes.  India’s isolation was never complete, from the most ancient times.  This resulted in the development of a complex pattern of civilisation, demonstrated so clearly in the intangible art and cultural traditions ranging from Ancient to Modern India, whether in the dancing Buddhas of the Gandharva  school of art which was strongly influenced by the Greeks, to the great tangible heritage seen in the temples of North and South India.    

3.    It is no surprise that India's diversity has inspired many writers to pen  differing  perceptions of the country's culture. These writings paint a complex and often conflicting picture of the culture of India.  The best definition has been provided by Dr.  Amartya Sen, the Indian Nobel Laureate in Economics.  According to him, the culture of modern India is a complex blend of its historical traditions, influences from the effects of colonialism over centuries and current Western culture - both collaterally and dialectically. Western writers usually neglect, in important ways, crucial aspects of Indian culture and traditions and its diversities. The deep-seated heterogeneity of Indian traditions, in different parts of India, is lost in these homogenised descriptions of India. India is not and can never be a homogenous culture.  The best example is her intangible heritage.

4.    A pen sketch on this subject cannot be complete without recalling E.H. Carr’s chapter 1 on ‘What is History’.  Carr pointed out that facts do not speak for themselves.  They speak only when the historian calls on them to speak.  It is the historian who decides which fact to give and therefore the historian is necessarily selective.  Thus Carr concludes that “History is a continuous process of interaction between the historian and his facts, an unending dialogue between the present and past, a dynamic, dialectical process, which cannot be limited by mere empiricism or love of facts alone”.  This demonstrates the complexity of the task of interpreting this intangible heritage historically and in an objective manner.

5.    It is clear that Intangible Cultural Heritage such as the Indian example, is difficult to explain or interpret, because of its complexity.  Tangible heritage on the other hand, being more visible is much better understood.  The best definition of Intangible Cultural Heritage is contained in the 2003 UNESCO Convention on ICH which defines it in a manner broad enough to include diverse experiences and expressions across the globe such as “the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills as well as the instruments, objects, artifacts and cultural spaces associated therewith – that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognised as part of their cultural heritage”.  This is an excellent definition of India’s great spiritual and cultural intangible heritage.     

Definition of ICH

6.    What is Intangible Cultural Heritage? Heritage does not end at monuments or collection of objects of arts.  It also includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendents, such as oral traditions, performing arts, religious and cultural festivals and traditional crafts.  This Intangible Cultural Heritage, by its very nature, is fragile and needs protection and understanding since it is an important factor in maintaining cultural diversity in the face of growing globalisation.  Developing understanding of the ICH of different communities, such as in India, helps the process of an international, inter-cultural dialogue and promotes, in the long run, international peace and security.

7.    ICH is best defined as:     
•    Traditional, contemporary and living at the same time, since it is a dynamic process;

•    Inclusive since it contributes to social cohesion, encourages a sense of identity and helps to preserve communities and community life;

•    Representative since it prospers on oral skills passed on from generation to generation;

•    Community based since it can be defined as heritage only when it is recognised as such by the communities, groups or individuals that create, maintain and transmit it.

ICH therefore, based on the above definition, is important not as a cultural manifestation as such but rather on the wealth of knowledge and skill that are transmitted through it from one generation to another.   The social and economic value of this transmission of knowledge is as significant for developed countries as for developing countries.

Festivals such as Holi : A Case Study of ICH

8.    Holi’s historical origins date back to pre-Christian times.  Paganism and Pagan festivals, based on pre-Christian rituals and ‘Bacchus’ traditions were frowned upon by the earliest Christians and soon disappeared. Only the Christian mistletoe traditions have survived.  Similarly, the rituals of Holi date back to the earliest times based on social traditions.  Hindu rituals, myths and legends came later.  Religious and cultural festivals, such as Holi,  express the heart of the people, reflecting their culture and identity.  Several of the world’s best known festivals exist in India.  Many of them are rooted in India’s diverse culture and  civilisation.  Thus the historic origins of Holi, originally known as ‘Holika’, find detailed description in India’s earliest religious epics and works such as Jamini’s Purvamimamsa-Sutras and Kathaka-Grhya-Sutras.  Eminent Indian historians believe that Holi was celebrated by Aryans who came to India from Central Asia in 5000 BC. Thus, Holi existed several centuries before Christ.  There are also many references to Holi in India’s ancient archaeological remains.   

9.    Since ICH is a dynamic process, the meaning of the Festival has changed over the years. It also has different manifestations in different parts of India.  Even these myths and legends are diverse and reflect India’s fascinating intangible heritage.  All over India, the festival celebrates the victory of good over evil and also the triumph of devotion to God.       

10.    Holi is thus linked with folklore and folk culture and binds communities together.  One example is the Chhau dance.  This dance form is a tradition from the Eastern part of India, specially Bihar, which enacts episodes from the Epics, including Mahabharata and Ramayana, local folklore and abstract themes. Its three distinct styles hail from the regions of Seraikella, Purulia and Mayurbhanj, in Eastern India. Chhau dance is intimately connected to regional festivals, notably the spring festival Chaitra Parva. Its origin is traceable to indigenous forms of dance and martial practices. Its vocabulary of movement includes mock combat techniques, stylized gaits of birds and animals and movements modelled on the chores of village housewives.   It represents a transitional stage in the development of unsophisticated forms of folk dance to highly stylised forms. The Chhau is one of the earliest indigenous form of dances in India.  These practices demonstrate that in India, living continuity with the past,  is an important criterion for its heritage.  These folk cultures, therefore, are part of India’s age-old intangible cultural heritage.  

Some Concluding Reflections

11.     In India, we are the repository of an astounding wealth of living patterns and modes of heritage. With about 1400 dialects and 18 officially recognized languages, several religions, various styles of art, architecture, literature, music and dance, and several lifestyle patterns, India represents the largest democracy with a seamless picture of diversity in unity, perhaps unparalleled anywhere in the world.

12.    Through a history of changing settlements and political power, India’s living cultural heritage was shaped by centuries of adaptation, re-creation and co-existence. The intangible cultural heritage of India finds expression in the ideas, practices, beliefs and values shared by communities across long stretches of time, and form part of the collective memory of the nation. India’s physical, ethnic and linguistic variety is as staggering as its cultural pluralism, which exists in a framework of interconnectedness.  In some instances, its cultural heritage is expressed as pan-Indian traditions not confined to a particular locality, genre or category, but as multiple forms, levels and versions inter-linked yet independent from one another. Underlying the diversity of India’s heritage is the continuity of its civilization from the earliest times to the present and of the later additions by different influences.

13.    In concluding, it may be pertinent to recall that Swami Vivekananda had said:

“If anyone dreams of the exclusive survival of his own religion and culture, I pity him from the bottom of my heart and point out that upon the banner of every religion and culture will soon be written in spite of resistance, “Help and not Fight; Assimilation and not Destruction; Harmony and Peace and not Dissension”.

This symbolises what India brings to the world, its living intangible heritage which is its global civilisational heritage. This heritage would help to maintain a cultural and civilizational dialogue between peoples and societies and cultures.  This in its turn would be a powerful lever for renewing the international community’s strategy towards development and peace.  


 [ Bhaswati Mukherjee is a former diplomat was Permanent Representative of India to UNESCO (2004-2010). ]
 
Reaching for the stars through ‘Mangalyaan’
--  Pallava Bagla  


The success of India’s maiden mission to Mars is hailed as a global landmark as it paves the way for cheap and reliable inter-planetary travel, this has been possible only because of a robust high technology infrastructure that has been put in place by the country. The same is also true in the sector of atomic energy where India’s prowess is slowly being recognized so much so that in the world’s only fusion energy reactor being constructed in France, India is a full member. Today, the country’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) truly symbolizes `Make in India’.

Speaking at the `Make in India’ workshop on December 29, 2014 The Prime Minister Narendra Modi said `Human Resource Development, Innovation and Research should become part of the Government's DNA. He said these should be aligned to the nation's overall goals in various sectors.’Modicalled upon all sectors of manufacturing in India to take inspiration from the "Space" sector, and the achievements of India's space scientists.

On his recent visit to New York where Prime Minister had the crowd in raptures as he repeatedly brought up India’s success of reaching Mars. Modi said `everything about Mangalyaan is indigenous,… made in small factories. We reached Mars at a smaller budget than a Hollywood movie," he said adding "India is the only country to reach Mars on its first attempt. If this is not talent, then what is?’

Not many know that the darling of the masses, Mangalyaan is truly also the flag bearer for Modi’s `Make in India’ campaign where he is pitching for India becoming the hub for making `satellites to submarines’. India Incorporated a website dedicated to promoting India’s strengths highlighted that `some 40 industries aredirectly involved in the making of the spacecraft itselfthat was put together by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). From small firms like Sangvi Aerospace Pvt Limited from Ahmedabad that supplied the wires and cables to giants like L&T and Godrej, to Technocom in Rajkot which helped with the camera that gave MOM its first view of Mars. All truly symbolize the humble `made in India’ tag that Mangalyaan carries.’

`Space is the last frontier so push and push some more’ was part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pitch to India space scientists when he came to the partake in the joys and sorrows of the small 16,000 strong space community that made India proud by hitting bull’s eye in the very first attempt of reaching planet Mars. A feat not achieved even by great space powers like USA and America. Acknowledging India’s achievement NASA Administrator Charles Bolden called it `an impressive engineering feat’.   

Another 100 or so industries are directly involved with the making of the rocket that launched MOM into space on November 5, 2013.

What caught the attention of the world was the relatively small cost of the mission Rs 450 crores or about $ 75 million, which is ten times cheaper than the NASA’s latest mission that reached Mars two days ahead of India’s. This was undoubtedly the lowest cost inter-planetary mission ever to be undertaken in the twenty-first century. As ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan says `modularity’ of sub-systems helps reduce costs and the low wage bills alongside the long hours put in by ISRO’s 500 work force that worked on the Mars satellite helped keep the cost very low.

On June 30, Modi watched the majestic lift-off of the 114 Indian mission of the Indian space agency the launch of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle that has till date launched 40 satellites from as many 19 different countries. ISRO’s commercial arm the Antrix Corporation Limited has an annual turnover of about Rs 15,000 million and it has already procured orders for three more dedicated commercial launches using the PSLV, which will place in orbit another 14 foreign satellites in the coming years. V S Hegde, Chairman and Managing Director of Antrix Corporation Limited says `we are already a force to be reckoned with and we are definitely going to grow’.

Reaching for the stars is not the only frontier where India’s efforts are bearing fruit, tapping nuclear energy is also a big aspirational dream for India. India today is contributing actively in world’s largest science project to generate fusion energy.

Evergreen atomic energy a possibility!

A star is set to be born in southern France, a humongous over $ 20 billion effort is being made to make a nuclear reactor like never before, a special steel cauldron where fusion energy could be tapped and it is called the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). Ratan Kumar Sinha Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission says `fusion energy holds the promise of becoming an unlimited source of environment friendly energy for the world.’

This is till date world’s largest scientific project ever to be undertaken and it is getting off the ground in Europe, a mammoth project that experts say will pave the way for generating unlimited clean nuclear energy by fusing atoms, a process not very different from what happens on the Sun.

The reactor will weigh about 23,000 tons the equivalent of the weight of 3 Eiffel Towers in Paris. Some 80,000 kilometres of special super conducting wires will be used.

Six nations India, China, South Korea, USA, Japan, Russia and the European Union have joined hands as equal partners to see if they can jointly harness the power of the Sun by literally confining it in a steel bottle.

Within the massive steel frame gas will be heated to over 150 million degrees temperature and it will be confined into a limited space using giant magnets, some atoms will then fuse together releasing huge amounts of heat which can then be directed to run turbines to generate electricity. In the first instance, it is hoped the fusion reactor will produce ten times more energy than what is used to initiate the reaction estimated to produce the equivalent of 500 MW of power.    

But it is easier said than done since taming the power of the Sun is a Herculean task and for the last half a century scientists have dreamt about this feat but it was only in 2006 that the ITER organisation come into being when things started become real.

India’s role  

India is a full member of this enterprise providing about ten percent of the components for the massive nuclear complex unfolding at Cadarache in France. New Delhi is contributing what would when completed in 2021 would be world’s largest refrigerator. It also acts like a thermos flask but operates at some of the coldest temperatures ever seen in the universe working at minus 269 degrees Celsius (-269 degrees Celsius) and technically called a `cryostat’, it is being made to order for the Department of Atomic Energy by L&T Industries. M V Kotwal, President, Heavy Engineering L&T industries, Mumbai says `manufacture & installation of the cryostat has been entrusted to L&T. Work on this project is already in progress in our Hazira Manufacturing Complex. We have also constructed a special workshop at the site in Cadarache, France to enable site assembly of the large & complex stainless steel structure from components which will be supplied from Hazira in India.’

India will make in-kind investment probably totalling about Rupees 9000 crores over the next decade thus contributing about 9.1% of the share of the total costs.

Sinha says ‘participation of India in the ITER project, with its immense scientific talent and industrial competence, has provided an opportunity to India to master the cutting edge technologies manifest in this massive project. In the near term, it has facilitated a huge impetus to scientific research, manpower development and building an internationally competitive industrial capability within Indian private sector in the highly advanced field of fusion energy’.

 Once the proof is established that mankind can harness the power of the Sun, India could well build its own fusion reactors possibly very soon after 2050, thus providing unlimited energy.  

Modi said ISRO has made it a habit of `making the impossible possible’. So could India, literally pave the way for cheaper, durable and reliable satellites in the `Make in India’ movement that Modi has flagged off. A multi-billion dollar space and nuclear energy market is waiting to be tapped.

In this bold new initiative Modi called for making a globally recognized "Brand India" famous for "Zero Defect, Zero Effect" Manufacturing – free from defects, and with no adverse impact on the environment.

Pallava Bagla

(Pallava Bagla an eminent science writer is co-author of the book `Reaching for the Stars: India’s Journey to Mars and Beyond’ published by Bloomsbury India. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Twitter: pallavabagla)
 
 Indian Republic Day  Indian Republic Day
(India’s highly successful maiden mission to Mars, is the cheapest inter-planetary mission till date costing less than $ 75 million and truly a remarkable example of `make in India’. Seen here is the lift off the Mangalyaan on November 5, 2013 using the indigenously made Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) sent into space from India’s spaceport at Sriharikota on the coast of the Bay of Bengal. Credit: ISRO) (India’s satellite that orbits Mars, seen here when it was being integrated. Mangalyaan hit bull’s eye and created world history making India the first country to reach Mars in its debut attempt. Credit: ISRO)
 Indian Republic Day  Indian Republic Day
(India is a full member of the world’s largest scientific experiment to make a fusion energy reactor coming up at Cadarache in France.) (At the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) being made at France the world’s largest refrigerator is being made by India, a truly `make in India’ initiative. Credit: ITER)
 


                               


 
 
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CAUSES OF DEATHS OF INDIAN NATIONALS

 
During the year 2014, total 559 deaths of Indian nationals were registered in the Indian Embassy.  Average age of death of these Indian nationals was found to be barely at 44.92 years — 42.8 years in domestic sector and 45.3 years in private sector. Gender-wise, in males average age at death was found to be 44.46 years, as against 47.47 years for females. The lowest average age of death of 41.9 years was found among Indian domestic males. A higher average age of death of 55.97 years was found in dependent females. Some causes for deaths at a considerably lower age among Indians in Kuwait are as below:

a). Heart attacks

This is the most worrying cause of Indian deaths in Kuwait. There were 237 out of a total 559 deaths or about 42.4%. Heart attacks seem to be higher in males in the private sector vis-à-vis the domestic sector. The rate of heart attack among females is closer to one third that of males. Heart attack is often attributed to smoking, sedentary lifestyle, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, eating of fatty foods, sleep or rest deprivation, highly stressed working environment and lack of timely access to medical attention etc.

b). Natural causes

Deaths due to natural causes are approximately one third of total Indian deaths. Out of total of 180 natural deaths during the period, 141 are in the age group of 26-65 years. Natural causes include various types of illnesses (excluding heart attacks) such as cancer/other life-threatening diseases, resulting in death of Indians in Kuwait.

c). Traffic Accidents

This is also an area of serious concern as there were 56 deaths due to road accidents.

d) Suicides
Suicides among Indians are a cause of concern. Out of 32 suicide cases reported during the period, 16 suicides are from domestic sector and 13 from private sector. Out of these 16 suicides in domestic sector, 13 were in the age group of 26-45 years, pointing to the possibility that the younger population may be more prone to suicides. Some of the reasons for suicides attributed are high degree of work stress, financial indebtness and living away from home.

e). Other causes of death

     There were 24 deaths due to worksite accidents.
 
2.  Conclusion

High deaths among Indian nationals in Kuwait are predominantly due to lifestyle problems and harsh working conditions, high degree of physical & mental stresses and lack of medical awareness. In order to create awareness on fatal heart attacks among Indians as well as suicides, traffic accidents and illnesses etc. the Indian Doctors’ Forum, Kuwait conducted a seminar on it in the month of November 2014.  The video recording of the seminar is available on the Embassy website for public benefit. Regular check-up of blood pressure and sugar is advised for monitoring these developments right from the beginning. The Indian Associations in Kuwait are taking lead in organizing medical camps at frequent intervals for the benefit of the community.
 
 
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Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF)

Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF)

For the welfare of Indian Community present in Kuwait, the Government of India has been providing financial assistance to distressed Indian nationals. During the year 2014, the Embassy raised Kuwaiti Dinars 1.59 lakh (about Indian Rupees 3.4 crore) as fees/contributions towards ICWF. An expenditure of Kuwaiti Dinars 39,000 (about Indian Rupees 84 lakh) was made for providing assistance to Indian nationals in Kuwait. In addition, a total contribution of over Kuwaiti Dinars 11 lakh (Indian Rupees 23 crore) for evacuation of stranded Indian nationals in Iraq and Libya was made.

2.        The Embassy has been providing monetary help from the ICWF in following circumstances:

i)                   Boarding and lodging for distressed Indian Workers in domestic sectors (Article 20 visa);

ii)                 Extending emergency medical care to the Overseas Indians;

iii)               Providing air passage to stranded and distressed Overseas Indians; and

iv)               Expenditure on incidentals and for airlifting the mortal remains to India of the deceased Overseas Indians in cases where sponsors are unable or unwilling to do so as per the contracts and the families are also unable to meet the cost.

3.        The number of cases during the year 2014 in which Embassy provided air ticket, medical care and contingency travel expenses to the distressed Indian Workers are as under:-

(During the Year 2014)

Description

No. of air tickets

No. of Indian nationals provided contingency/travel expenses

Destitute workers accommodated in Embassy shelters (male/female)

278

KD 15,894

No. of Indian nationals provided for repatriation of hospitalization/escorts overseas Indian nationals to India.

727

KD 11,628

Airlifting of patients +escorts

 25

KD   6,955

Airlifting of mortal remains to India

29

KD   4,013

Miscellaneous services

02

KD      510

Total

           1,061

KD 39,000

 

4.        You are aware that a surcharge of KD 0.500 is collected by the Embassy on all passport, visa and consular services towards the ICWF.

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Quartely Analysis of The Transportation of Mortal Remains to India

Quartely Analysis of The Transportation of Mortal Remains to India

It has been our endeavour to assist in the earliest repatriation of mortal remains of Indian nationals who die in Kuwait. As cremation facilities are not permitted in Kuwait, it becomes necessary that many bodies are airlifted to India for final rites. Last year, 559 Indian nationals died in Kuwait. 

            During last three months (October-December 2014), there were 143 Indian deaths in Kuwait. Mortal remains of 112 Indian nationals were airlifted to India. The remaining 31 were buried in Kuwait as per the wishes of their family members. From those sent to India, 89 were transported within 1 - 5 days of reporting the death to the Embassy (4 days being the average time taken for transportation of the mortal remains). 
            The repatriation of mortal remains of 23 deceased persons, however, took longer time, ranging from 6 - 15 days. Delays in 23 cases occurred as police investigations were required to be conducted in cases of suicides, murders and traffic accidents. In some cases, local sponsors took time to complete formalities. Non-availability of flights and intervening holidays were among the other reasons contributing to delays in repatriation of mortal remains of Indian nationals from Kuwait. 

            Complete data of Indian nationals who have died in Kuwait since 1 July 2014 is available on the Embassy’s website. 

Repatriation of 24 Hospitalized Indians

Repatriation of 24 Hospitalized Indians

In our efforts to help the distressed members of Indian community in Kuwait, the Embassy  has been attending hospitalized destitute Indians in various hospitals in Kuwait and extending all possible assistance in their medical treatment by way of coordinating with doctors and facilitating their travel to India. It involved coordinating with sponsors to meet the expenditure for repatriation to India. In deserving cases, the monetary assistance from Indian Community Welfare Funds (ICWF) by way of their air tickets is also provided by the Indian Embassy. During the year 2014, Embassy’s representatives made 102 visits to various hospitals to attend to critical cases involving destitute Indians. By the efforts of medical authorities and help of Indian community, following 24 hospitalized Indians were repatriated to India. 

Sl No.

Particulars

Embassy Efforts

Expenditure

(KD)

Remarks

1

2

3

4

5

01

Hakim Mohammad,

·        Adan Hospital

·        Head injury

Coordinated with sponsor (Stretcher patient).

Nil

Repatriated on 10.04.2014

02

Rama Nandan Manappully Krishnan,

·        Passport No. G6676358,

·        Farwaniya Hospital

·        Cardiac arrest.

Coordinated with sponsor (Stretcher patient).

Nil

Repatriated in May 2014.

03

Abhimanu,

·        Passport No. J1089508

·        Mubarak Al Kabeer Hospital

·        Paralysis due to high BP.

Coordinated with sponsor to bear the cost of air ticket (stretcher patient).

Nil

Repatriated on 26.04.2014.

04

Subramaniam Kaliaperumal,  

·        Passport No.J0368820

·        Al Adan Hospital

·        Brain stroke.

Facilitated his repatriation to India as stretcher patient.

 

KD 820.000

Repatriated on 08.05.2014.

05

Antony Selvester Mendonca,

·        Passport No. J5545422

·        Jahra Hospital

·        Brain stroke.

Facilitated his repatriation to India as stretcher patient.

 

KD 870.000

Repatriated on 12.05.2014.

06

Rasu Pandiyan,

·        Passport No. F3847774

·        Jahra Hospital.

Body organs were donated through Kuwait Organ Procurement Unit, Ministry of Health by  his family

NIL

Admitted on 24.04.2014, died on 13.05.2014

07

Rajeshwari Raginutala,

·        Passport No.J5491628

·        Al Sabah Hospital

·        High BP.

Facilitated her repatriation to India as wheelchair patient.

 

KD 240.000

Repatriated on 12.06.2014.

08

Thavar Chand Katara

·        Passport No.K1162039

·        Albabtain Hospital

·        Burn injuries.

Facilitated realizing his due salary and cost of air ticket from the sponsor.

Nil

Repatriated on 20.06.2014.

09

Savitri Tirumani,

·        Passport No. A3966651

·        Farwaniya Hospital

·        Brain hemorrhage.

Facilitated her repatriation to India as stretcher patient.

KD 940.000

Repatriated on 23.06.2014.

10

Ali Sabir Manedath,

·        Passport No.L1164872

·        Al Amiri Hospital f

·        Brain stoke due to high BP

Facilitated repatriation to India as stretcher patient.

KD 1184.000

Repatriated on 27.06.2014.

11

Marriapan Mohandoss,

·        Passport No.F2486876

·        Al Amiri Hospital.

·        Cancer

Coordinated with sponsor and facilitated Deportation Process

Nil

Repatriated on 03.07.2014 under escort of an attendant.

12

Chandini Mustafa Ansarbasha,

·        Passport No.H1048905

·        Al Sabah Maternity Hospital

Admitted, completed all deportation formalities for repatriation

KD 364.000

Repatriated on 07.08.2014 under escort of an attendant.

13

Booka Ramana,

·        Passport No. G9765945

·        Mubarak Al-Kabeer Hospital

·        Brain hemorrhage & paralysis.

The sponsor put residency for her repatriation

Nil

Repatriated on 13.08.2014 as stretched patient.

14

Bindu Appu,

·        Passport No. K2262663

·        Al Razi Hospital & Amiri Hospital

·        Traffic accident.

Coordinated with sponsor for air ticket and her dues.

Nil

Repatriated on 01.09.2014.

15

Syed Chanbasha Syed Khaderbasha,

·        Passport no. H4233730

·        Mubarak Al Kabeer Hospita

·        Brain hemorrhage.

Coordinated with the sponsor and hospital authorities. Cost of air ticket born by her sponsor.

Nil

Repatriated on 20.07.2014

16

Krishnan Kovvammal Kundile,

·        Passport No. G5435359

·        Farwaniya Hospital

·        Fracture of legs.

Coordinated with the sponsor and hospital authorities.

Nil

Repatriated on 05.10.2014

17

Mangadevi Undurthi,

·        Passport No.K3405123

·        Al Razi Hospital

·        Injuries.

Coordinated with hospital and deportation authorities

Nil

Travelled on 22.10.2014

18

Paik Shambu Gaonkar,

·        Passport No.G2641082

·        Mubarak Al Kabeer Hospital

·        Brain hemorrhage & paralysis.

Coordinated with sponsor and arranged attendant. The air ticket was given by sponsor.

Nil

Repatriated on 16.11.2014.

19

Shaji Kizhakke Purakkal,

·        Civil ID No. 272053103918

·        Jahra Hospital

·        Brain hemorrhage.

Coordinated with the hospital authorities. However he expired

Nil

Mortal remains sent to India on 05.11.2014

20

Ananje Panchallah,

·        Passport No.E9556003

·        Amiri Hospital

·        Cardiac problem. He needed implantation of cardio version defibrillator.

Coordinated with the hospital for proper medical care. Due to a case on him, he was put in jail and repatriated after completion of jail term.

Nil

Deported in November 2014.

21

Kuttan Raju,

·        Passport No.F4737881

·        Adan Hospital

·        Cardiac problem.

Coordinated with hospital authorities for his treatment and arranged travel documents.

Nil

Deported on 02.01.2014 due to a case on him.

22

Marripalli Sankaraiaha Chari,

·        Passport No. F3882392

·        Amiri Hospital

·        Diabetic sickness.

Followed his case and competed all formalities pertaining to deportation

Nil

Repatriated on 23.12.2014 under escort of an attendant..

23

Sujatha Lakkireddy Palli,

·        Passport No.L6323832

·        Amiri Hospital

·        Brain stoke and was  in critical condition

Her condition remained critical for 3-4 months and repatriated to India as stretcher patient

KD 820.000

Repatriated on 11.12.2014 under escort of nurse.

24

Ms. Koramulta Ademma,

·        R/o Kadapa, Andhra Pradesh,

·        Ibn Sina Hospital from Detention Cell.

·        Brain tumour (Meningioma) surgery.

Embassy traced out  the details of her family in India and make all the arrangement .

KD 375.000

Deported on 23.12.2014 under escort of an attendant

 

Register the Validity of Your Personal Details

 Register and check the validity of your personal details
 
According to the Ministry of Interior, there are around 20,000 Indian passport holders who renewed their passports but without registering it at the Immigration Department, which led to the expiry of their iqamas.  As a result, the fines started accumulating day by day. 
 
In order to check your validity of passport, sponsorship details, residency details, car insurance, driving license, traffic violations, travel ban etc., Ministry of Kuwait introduced a new service over the internet.  All the information is under one roof. 
Kindly register and check the validity of your personal details
 
The said service is available under the Ministry of Information (www.moi.gov.kw) – English -  E- Services – Personal Inquiry.  Please forward to your friends and relatives too. 
 
Kindly make use of this service to avoid unnecessary problems.
 
**********************************************

Change In Working Hours At The Ootsourcing Centers

Change in working hours of Indian  Visa & Passport Centers of CKGS

at Sharq, Fahaheel and Abbasiya

    

In view of the huge surge in demand for issue of machine readable passports and for re-issue/renewal of Indian passports, it has been decided to increase the working hours of CKGS offices in Sharq, Fahaheel & Abbasiya from 0800 hrs to 1700 hrs on all working days, i.e. from  Sunday to Thursday  (without any break) with effect from 8 January 2015.

2.         As usual, the Centers will also function on Fridays and Saturdays from 4 PM to 8 PM providing their passports and visa services.

3.         All are requested to note the above timings and cooperate with the CKGS staff  for receiving their services at all the above-mentioned Centers.

Best wishes for 2015 !

 
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