villupuram l friday l january 27, 2023 l `9.00 l PAGES 12 l city EDITION No backchannel talks with India, says Pakistan minister “At this moment, there is no such thing underway,” Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar told Pak Parliament Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Umar Ata Bandial But Experts pitch for secret parleys Pak Reviewing india’s invitations Her remarks came in the wake of experts, including former Pak foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, pitching for backchannel talks in the initial phase so that political compulsions don’t come into play. However, both sides have to generate public opinion for improved relations to create an enabling environment for peace, Kasuri told this newspaper recently ■ ■ India has invited Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and chief justice Umar Ata Bandial to the SCO meet in Goa in May Confirming it, Pakistan’s Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said the Pak govt is reviewing the invitations Art 370 Must be restored before any talks with india, Sharif had said recently CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOgGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI women power point Sub-Mandal & kamandal Guv and CM shake hands, speak mind T M u r u g a n a n d h a m @ Chennai Women personnel in a marching contingent of the CRPF during the 74th Republic Day parade at Kartavya Path in New Delhi on Thursday | PTI E X P RE SS NEWS S ER V ICE @ New Delhi India’s spirit of self-dependence in the military and its women power stood out during the Republic Day parade on Kartavya Path here on Thursday Women officers led or par. ticipated in several marching contingents while Supreme Commander President Droupadi Murmu hosted her Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who was the chief guest for the event. A combined band and marching contingent of the Egyptian armed forces also took part in the parade that started around 10.30 am and ended close to noon after a fly-past. The Egyptian contingent was led by Col Mahmoud Mohamed Abdelfattah Elkharasawy . The unfurling of the Tricolour followed by the national anthem was accompaned by a 21gun salute using 105-mm Indian field guns. The indigenous guns replaced the vintage 25-pounders, reflecting the growing aatmanirbharta in defence. Military assets on display were mostly made-in-India, which included the main battle tank Arjun, the Nag Missile System (NAMIS) and the K-9 Vajra, Light Combat Helicopter Prachand, Akash air defence missiles and Quick Reaction Fighting Vehicles. Vadivel Gopal and Masi Sadaiyan Will Padma Shri help TN Irula tribals escape trap? S V KRI S HNA CHAITANYA @ Chennai The news about two Irula snake catchers getting Padma Shri caught the nation’s attention on Wednesday and is being celebrated widely, but the social status of these tribesmen and the quality of life of their ilk leave much to be desired. One of the two awardees, Masi Sadaiyan (45), earns just `2,000 to `4,000 per month for risking his life in catching deadly snakes for venom extraction. He also works as a farmhand and wood cutter in summer months when snake catching is prohibited. “Getting Padma Shri is a great recognition for our work but our standard of life is nothing to be happy about. My three children could not get education because of my poor income. They are working as daily-wage labourers. We need some guaranteed monthly income for our highrisk work. We were bitten by snakes and endured lifethreatening situations several times over the years,” Masi Sadaiyan said. P2 The Akash weapon system had Lt Chetana Sharma at the forefront. The Indian Air Force contingent comprising 144 air warriors and four officers, was led by Sqn Ldr Sindhu Reddy. The air force tableau, designed on the theme ‘Indian Air Force Power Beyond Boundaries’, displayed a rotating globe highlighting IAF’s expanded reach, whereby it has been able to provide humanitarian assistance across borders, as also exercises conducted with friendly countries. Lt Commander Disha Amrith, posted at a strategic base, led the Navy’s contingent of sailors, which included three women, and six Agniveers, who are undergoing training as part of the first batch inducted under the new armed forces recruitment scheme. The ceremony commenced with Prime Minister Modi visiting the National War Memorial and paying tributes to the fallen heroes by laying a wreath. The parade ended with a fly-past by 45 aircraft of the Indian Air Force, one from the Indian Navy and four helicopters of the Indian Army . A total of 23 tableaux — 17 from states and union territories and six from various ministries and departments — took part with Nari Shakti being the theme of most of them. After the bitter rancor over the past few weeks, Governor RN Ravi and Chief Minister M K Stalin came face to face, shook hands, and exchanged formal greetings at the Republic Day celebration held on the Marina on Thursday . But the Republic Day messages issued by the constitutional head and the administrative head of the state resonated with their divergent political positions and ideologies. While the governor urged people to be vigilant about external forces and groups such as PFI that are uncomfortable with the rise of new India, CM Stalin drew attention to the country’s diversity and inclusiveness and asked people to eradicate social evils that divide society “Unfortunately they (PFI) have a . , significant presence in Tamil Nadu. They had the audacity to demonstrate their presence with several bomb attacks leading to the government of India banning them,” the governor said, recalling the Coimbatore car blast incident. “When our country is on a historic march forward, we need to remain alert to the forces trying to disrupt the pace of our rise,” Ravi said. P4 Governor RN Ravi and Chief Minister M K Stalin at the 74th R-Day celebration held in Chennai on Thursday | P Jawahar is Modi formula for 2024 S h a h i d F a r i d i @ New Delhi Prime Minister Narendra Modi is preparing a heady cocktail for the next general election in 2024. Along with the winning combination of Hindutva and welfarism, Modi plans to appropriate the reservation plank and deny the opposition one of its biggest election issues. The PM had set up a fourmember commission headed by Justice (Retd) G Rohini on October 2, 2017, to examine if the Other Backward Classes need to be sub-categorised to ensure equitable distribution of the reservation benefits. After 13 extensions, the commission’s term ends on January 31, 2023. Sources said the panel may submit its report anytime to the government. The commission was formed because government data revealed that over 90% of the OBC quota benefits were cornered by about a dozen dominant castes such as Yadavs, Jats, Kur mis, Vokkaligas, Sainis, Thevars, Ezhavas etc. The OBC quota is meant for over 3,000 castes and communities categorised as backward by the Mandal Commission. Therefore, the commission recommends sub-classifications of the dominant castes to ensure a more equitable distribution of benefits. It also suggests dividing the 3,000 OBC communities into four categories with a fixed percentage of benefits going to each type from the overall 27% OBC reservation. Empowering smaller OBC communities may bring huge electoral benefits for the BJP. The party has already successfully experimented with the idea in Uttar Pradesh by creating a social coalition of non-Yadav OBC castes. The biggest pushback to Modi’s BJP has come from the leaders of the dominant OBC castes. Among them are Lalu Yadav, his son Tejashwi Yadav and Nitish Kumar in Bihar, Akhilesh Yadav in UP, H D Deve Gowda and son H D Kumaraswamy in Karnataka from the non-Congress parties. From the Congress, most of the top leaders leading the charge against the BJP in the states belong to the OBCs — Bhupesh Baghel in Chhattisg arh, Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot in Rajasthan, Bhupinder Singh Hooda in Haryana, D K Shivkumar and Siddaramaiah in Karnataka. These opposition OBC leaders recently stirred the caste cauldron by demanding a nationwide caste census. They reject the 2006 National Sample Survey Organisation report, which puts the total OBC population at 41%, down from 52% mentioned in the Mandal Commission report of 1980. Nitish has already started a caste survey in Bihar. The Rohini report, therefore, may prove to be the BJP’s ace in caste politics. It has the potential to ignite a debate on the denial of benefits to the overwhelming number of OBC communities. It may however, face criticism , over the authenticity of the data used by it. Social justice, coupled with opening a grand Ram temple at Ayodhya, which is likely to witness a global gathering bigger than the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas, and subsidised foodgrain for 80 crore people, is the plank on which the PM will enter the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. TN d i g e st Trust board not possible for all 38K temples: TN The state has informed the Supreme Court that process of appointment of trustees has started for 1,045 temples but since there are over 38,000 temples it is impossible to appoint a trust board for all TN temples | P5 Record freedom fighters’ lives: Guv Governor has directed university V-Cs to identify at least five freedom fighters and do a detailed study on their lives & contributions. A fellowship will be provided, and one year can be allowed to complete it, Ravi said | P2
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