The Indian Express | 1 week ago | 26-05-2023 | 11:45 am
To mark the inauguration of the new Parliament building, the Union Finance Ministry will launch a ₹75 coin, as per a notification issued by the Ministry.Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to inaugurate the new Parliament building on May 28.The coin will have a circular shape with a diameter of 44 millimetres. The composition of the coin will be of a quaternary alloy — 50 percent silver, 40 percent copper, 5 percent nickel, 5 percent zinc.“The face of the coin shall bear the Lion Capitol of Ashoka Pillar in the center, with the legend ““सत्यमेि जयते” (Satyameva Jayate) inscribed below, flanked on the left periphery with the word “भारत” (Bharat) in Devnagri script and on the right periphery the word “INDIA” in English,” the notification stated.The notification further stated that the opposite side of the coin will display an image of the parliament complex. The inscription “Sansad Sankul” will be written in Devanagari script on the upper periphery while the words “Parliament Complex” in English on the lower periphery of the coin.Meanwhile, in a show of unity, 19 Opposition parties — and the AIMIM separately — announced their “collective decision” Wednesday to boycott the inauguration of the new Parliament building on May 28, saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to inaugurate it himself, “completely sidelining” President Droupadi Murmu, insults the high office of the President and violates the letter and spirit of the Constitution.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi took a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday night (GMT) and alleged that the BJP and RSS are “incapable of looking at the future” and can only talk about the past.Addressing a gathering of the Indian diaspora in the Javits Centre in New York, Gandhi said, “He (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) is trying to drive the car…the Indian car and he looks in the rear-view mirror. Then he does not understand why this car is crashing, not moving forward. And it’s the same idea with the BJP, with the RSS. All of them. You listen to the ministers, you listen to the Prime Minister. You will never find them talking about the future. They only talk about the past”.Gandhi asserted that the BJP and RSS speak only about the past and always “blame somebody else for the past”. In India, there is a fight going on back between two ideologies — one represented by the Congress and the other by the BJP and the RSS, the former MP said.“The simplest way to describe this fight is that on one side you have Mahatma Gandhi and on the other side, Nathuram Godse,” he said.On the Odisha train accident, which claimed 275 lives and left over 1,000 injured, Gandhi said that during the Congress tenure, if train mishaps happened, ministers used to take responsibilities for their actions and “we accepted our mistakes”.“I remember a train accident when the Congress was in power. The Congress did not get up and say ‘now it is the fault of the British that the train has crashed’. The Congress minister said ‘it’s my responsibility and I’m resigning’. So this is the problem we have back home, we make excuses and we are not accepting the reality we are faced with,” Gandhi said.A one-minute silence was also observed to pay respect to the people who died in the accident.During his 40-minute long speech, Gandhi also praised the Indian-American community for the way they have lived in the US. “All the giants that have emerged from India, you can see that there were certain qualities that all of them possessed. Firstly, they searched for, represented and fought for the truth. Secondly, all these people were humble, and there was no arrogance in them. That is how Indians have worked in the US, and that’s why Indians are successful here. I respect and honour you for that.”Gandhi is on a six-day, three-city tour to the United States. He has visited California, the Bay area, Washington and New York to interact with the Indian communities, think tanks and the press.Earlier last week, Gandhi also said the RSS and the BJP are controlling all the instruments of politics in India. Taking a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Rahul said, “I think if you sat Modi ji down next to god, Modi ji would start explaining to god how the universe works. And god would get confused that what have I created.”— With PTI inputs
Prime Minister Narendra Modi once again attacked the Congress on Wednesday over “85 per cent commission”, saying that if not for the BJP government in the last nine years, several central schemes would have taken decades more to reach every corner of the country.Addressing a rally in Rajasthan’s Ajmer to mark nine years of his government, the PM said, “People often wonder where Modi gets money for all the developmental works. Our nation never had a dearth of money when it comes to development. It is important that whatever money is sent by the government, all of it is employed in developmental works.”He said that former PM Rajiv Gandhi had publicly accepted that if the Congress government sends 100 paisa, 85 paisa is lost to corruption – something that he had also stated during the Karnataka elections, ostensibly to counter the Congress’s charge that there is large-scale corruption in the award of civil contracts in the state.Also Read | Hits and misses of 9 years of Narendra Modi government“In the last nine years, the BJP government has spent Rs 24 lakh crore on highways and railways alone. Going by what Rajiv Gandhi said, had there been a Congress government, 20 lakh crore out of Rs 24 lakh crore would have been looted,” he said.Similarly, Rs 24 lakh crore out of Rs 29 lakh crore under Direct Benefit Transfer; Rs 19,000 crore out of Rs 22,000 crore to tribal students for their education; Rs 3.15 lakh crore out of Rs 3.75 lakh crore for water facilities; and Rs 2 lakh crore out of Rs 2.25 lakh crore for homes for poor would have been looted in the middle, before they could reach the intended beneficiaries, he claimed, adding that “Congress does not discriminate when it comes to looting”.He accused the Congress of putting the lives of crores of women and children in danger, saying that the inoculation coverage was just around 60 per cent under Congress rule. He said that it would have taken Congress another 40 years to reach hundred per cent coverage, leading to an unimaginable number of poor women and children losing their lives.Express Opinion | Suhas Palshikar writes on nine years of BJP government: Failures, Modi-proofedHe said that even for a gas connection, people had to run from pillar to post under Congress rule. Hence, only 14 crore people had gas connection in 2014, and that it would have taken another 20 years for complete coverage, “meaning that another generation would have passed by without a gas connection. This was not acceptable to me. Hence, in the last nine years, the BJP government has given over 19 crore gas connections”.“Before 2014, there were over 18 crore families which did not get tap water. In the last three years, the BJP government has connected 9 crore families with water connection through pipelines. Had there been a Congress government, it would have taken it 20 more years to do the same,” the PM said.Also Read | Emergency documentary, showcasing development: BJP set to kickstart UP outreach to mark 9 years of Modi govtHe said that around 2 lakh former soldiers in Rajasthan have received benefits under the One Rank One Pension, while across the country, former soldiers have received about Rs 65,000 crore so far.The PM said that things have changed a lot since 2014. “Before 2014, across the nation, the public was on the streets against corruption, there were terrorist attacks in big cities every other day, Congress was scared to build roads on the border, and crimes against women were at a peak. There was a superpower above the Prime Minister and the Congress government was being run via remote control. There was indecision, policies failed, investors were disappointed, and the youth had darkness before them,” he said.Also Read | 9 years of Modi govt: Cong accuses BJP of ‘looting’ people, says life of poor didn’t improve“Today, India is being praised the world over. Today, big experts are saying that India is on the verge of eliminating extreme poverty. Friends, how did this change come about? The answer is sabka saath, sabka vikas, prioritising the deprived,” he said.With the Rajasthan government recently passing Right to Health, the PM said: “Congress’s habit of guarantee is not new, but old. Fifty years ago, Congress gave the nation a guarantee to end poverty, and this is the biggest betrayal of the poor by the Congress… to hide its failures, Congress has come up with a new formula of false guarantees.”He said that if these guarantees are implemented, they will not only bankrupt the state but the nation. “You are witnessing the condition of those countries which are going bankrupt, this is the vision and policy of Congress,” the PM said.He said that the people of Rajasthan gave a mandate to Congress five years ago, “and in return, Rajasthan got instability and anarchy. MLA, minister and the Chief Minister are busy fighting amongst themselves. The Congress government is kind to terrorists and busy in appeasing terrorists. The Rajasthan Congress government has given a free hand to those conspiring against our daughters. The Congress government does not care about the safety and the interests of daughters.”“I can say with immense satisfaction that BJP government has paid attention to all the problems faced by mothers, daughters and sisters,” the PM said, listing various schemes and measures which have benefited women, such as Matru Vandana Yojana, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana, Mudra Yojana, Ujjwala Yojana, increasing maternity leave for women, paving the way for women wanting to join all three armed forces, sending money directly to bank accounts of women, starting a campaign to ensure a child is born in the hospital, building crores of toilets in schools, etc. The PM also listed several measures taken by his government towards farmer welfare.
AS ALL EYES were set on the inauguration of the new Parliament building, those working quietly for over two years to make Sunday’s event possible flitted in and out of the Lok Sabha chamber, ensuring all systems were working without any glitches, and even escorting key dignitaries.A core team comprising officials from the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry, Central Public Works Department, HCP Design, Planning and Management — the architects of the project, and Tata Projects Ltd — the CPWD contractor for the project, have remained relentlessly on the job all along since 2019.On Sunday too, this team sat in the last row of the Lok Sabha, stepping out and slipping in as and when required, a source said. Even as the members of the team did so, it was a ‘surreal’ feeling for them; as it is they were so exhausted having clocked over 30,000 steps daily for the past week attending to every detail.Since the project was announced in 2019 and work started on the ground in January 2021, the core team wrangled through legal challenges, overcame difficulties in finding workers at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, and stood up ram rod during the crunch-time in the last 25 days leading up to the inauguration.While the new Lok Sabha chamber looked ready in December, work was still on in the Rajya Sabha. For the past month, officials felt the building was ready, but small details like the metallic grill on the exterior and signages were placed just days ago. Now, the building was ready, but the systems, including water and rain-water harvesting, needed a month’s time to stabilise.Here are key moments from the grand inauguration of our new Parliament building. A milestone in our nation’s journey, it radiates the hopes and aspirations of 140 crore Indians. pic.twitter.com/OQM7HKPa5R— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 28, 2023Bimal Patel, who heads HCP, and is the President of CEPT University, has been the face of the design team of the new Parliament. He was in the Lok Sabha chamber during the inauguration, while 25 of the 250 staff of HCP and its consultant agencies involved in the project watched the proceedings from the gallery, another source said. He looked calm as he walked about the new building, giving a tour to some guests and viewing some of the artwork displayed in the galleries.A Padma Shri awardee, Patel and his firm have been the chosen architects for some of the most prominent projects of the government, including the Central Vista redevelopment masterplan which includes the new Parliament building, the Kashi Vishwanath Temple Corridor in Varanasi and the Sabarmati Ashram revamp.While Housing and Urban Affairs Secretary Manoj Joshi greeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and escorted him to the new Lok Sabha when he arrived, his predecessor, Durga Shankar Mishra, in whose tenure the project started, sat in the gallery to the left of the Speaker’s podium. Later Mishra, who is currently Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary, toured the building and interacted with others who had worked on it. Also in attendance at the inauguration was Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran.According to sources, former Tata Projects MD Vinayak Deshpande, who was in-charge of the technical side of the project till his retirement in July 2022, had an important role to play, as well as the current MD, Vinayak Pai, as well as MoHUA Additional Secretary D. Thara and CPWD executive engineer Ashwani Mittal.
At the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) in Delhi, in a room with checkered floor, two massive legs carved in wood overarch an assemblage that spans centuries to bring together Mahatma Gandhi with BR Ambedkar, saints such as Sree Narayana Guru and Guru Nanak and sculpture of the dancing girl from the Indus Valley civilization to urge for a cleaner India, with artist Riyas Komu also emphasising on the need for each to be their own scavenger. Gandhi’s metal glasses are enclosed in a glass vitrine in one corner, and another has a diya lit over an Ashoka pillar.With its numerous elements, this installation titled A Art is one of the works that comprise “Jana Shakti: A Collective Power”, an exhibition that celebrates 100 episodes of ‘Mann Ki Baat’, a monthly radio address by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Organised by the Ministry of Culture with one of India’s foremost art collectors Kiran Nadar as advisor, and curated by art historian Alka Pande, the showcase sees 13 of India’s prominent artists respond to 12 specific themes from the radio show.Since the exhibition’s inauguration on April 30, participants have been accused by a section of voices within art fraternity for allegedly fulfilling a “propagandist” state agenda. At the NGMA, however, visitors are introduced to its purpose at the entrance in a wall text by Pande, and another by the PM. “This exhibition attempts to translate the creative processes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s program Mann Ki Baat —both in terms of the idea as well as content — into works of art through artistic interpretation,” writes Pande in the catalogue.Komu, one of India’s most politically active voices in art, often seen critiquing state machinery, invokes ‘Swachh Bharat’, a campaign initiated by BJP government in 2014. “It was a direct platform to speak about plight of manual scavengers invoking Ambedkar juxtaposing with other saintly quotes and bringing their much-needed historic presence more in troublesome contemporary times,” he tells The Indian Express.If artist Ashim Purkayastha captures the essence of India’s agrarian heritage through portraits of farmers, artist duo Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra, who work closely with farming community — also seen protesting with them against the farm laws in 2020-21 — do not present their cause in this exhibition. Instead, their metaphorical canvases comment on India’s progress in science and technology, where a water tank attached to a balloon symbolises both migration and the country’s success in space.Also known for his politically conscious works, Atul Dodiya responds to the PM’s plea during the pandemic to fight a united battle against Covid. He shares a solemn work depicting a mother embracing her child. The wall text elaborates how the image of a “mother shielding her child during adversity coincides with his understanding of India protecting her population during the widespread pandemic wrecking the nation and the world.”The need to protect the environment and its diverse ecosystem guide GR Iranna and Pratul Dash. Describing himself as a “politician of aesthetics” the latter’s The Girl with Flowers & Bubbles has a young girl blowing bubbles under an umbrella of India’s rich fauna and flora to celebrate “India @75 and Amrit Kaal”. Iranna chooses to protect his trees with a sacred red thread tied around peeling barks in the canvas titled Holy Thread.Since the PM’s visit on May 14, when he also interacted with artists, footfalls have increased amid criticism against the exhibition. As a collective group, these are some of India’s most recognised artists but in the showcase they have been accused of echoing thoughts of the PM, with an interpretation of their work informed by a quote from Mann Ki Baat. On his Facebook page, graphic artist and designer Orijit Sen, writes: “These are our renowned ‘progressive’, ‘radical’, Ambedkar-and-Gandhi-quoting artists!…have no words to express my dismay.” In another social media post, Santhosh Sadanand, art historian and faculty member at Ambedkar University, Delhi, expressed his concern over how “almost independent life of political/artistic styles, with which these renowned artists who claim to champion liberal values have been associated with…has so easily lent itself to be co-opted by a political propaganda.”Responding to the backlash, artist Paresh Maity — who has contributed to the exhibition with the canvas Tann Aur Mann — says, “Historically, there are always those who criticise… After a long time NGMA has put up an exhibition with contemporary artists, which is very encouraging and should be celebrated.”On Wednesday, one of the visitors was Mumbai businessman Rishabh Shah, 43, on a trip to Delhi. “Down the ages, artists have always spread the word about change and about what those in power want to say, so why can’t they do that now,” he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday flagged off Uttarakhand’s first semi-high speed Vande Bharat Express.“Uttarakhand is getting its first Vande Bharat Express today from Dehradun to Delhi. This Express will reduce the travelling time of the people,” PM Modi said during the virtual flagging off ceremony.#WATCH | Prime Minister Narendra Modi virtually flags off the inaugural run of Uttarakhand’s first semi-high speed Vande Bharat Express train connecting Dehradun with New Delhi in Dehradun. pic.twitter.com/896YzX4jZu— ANI (@ANI) May 25, 2023The train, which is the 17th Vande Bharat Express to be flagged off in the country, will connect Dehradun with the national capital, New Delhi.“India is being watched with great hope. The world wants to come to India to see India, and to understand the essence of India, in such a situation there are excellent opportunities for states like Uttarakhand,” said Modi. “Vande Bharat train is also going to help Uttarakhand in taking full advantage of this opportunity.”Train operators for the Delhi-Dehradun Vande Bharat Express will commence on May 29. It will cover a distance of about 302 km in four hours and 45 minutes and operate six days a week, apart from Wednesday.