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Commonwealth Games: Corruption and Pride, a debate

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After seeing the pictures of the dirty toilets of commonwealth games village in Delhi this month, the feeling of pride which Indians had in their mind turned somewhat into a feeling of shame. And the only thing the media and people could blame on were  corrupted organizers, lack of inter department coordination and at some point of time people themselves and media for only covering and reporting the negative aspect of the games. Just to make our discussion easily readable we are classifying two sides as Panel I and Panel II.

[Panel I] “Why would you want to add fuel to fire!!!!!! please delete this post!!!” A person said that  on our discussion board on the shared pictures of filthy commonwealth village.

Making into the front-page and ticker of every newspaper and news channel in India, the games were defamed and termed flop and criticized internationally before even they could take off. When asked various people in India they said now they have a mixed feeling of proud and shame. But still hoping it will be a successful event.

[Panel II] “It’s good to share such news[criticizing] let everyone know… where our TAX money goes!!” She further added, “I am afraid nobody has an answer for this question.”

[Panel I] “our tax money is going to the right place atleast they did a good job in a very short time.. It’s easy to point out some thing have you done anything to make it right????” Was a reply from the crowd

[Panel II] “Given a chance i would ! what have you done???” She retorted.
Later on the debate, we saw a perfect balance between “for” and “against” side. It’s left to you which side you choose. No side is wrong, only the perception is different.

[Panel I] “i didn’t add fuel to fire…. if u cant do anything then we have to shut our mouth… u can do one thing u can thank those people who have been working day and night to make it possible”

[Panel I] I know the preparations have missed some deadlines. All the college students have been working there as volunteers and my friends say they have never seen such a mess anywhere in the village.”
he Further added, “Feel proud that India was able to defeat the developed nations, Canada in particular, in the bidding. After all this mess, All the major participating countries have given thumbs up to the village. You should see the picture of the commonwealth games venues here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=197144&id=200700820199. You will be really amazed that such infrastructure exists in India. India has been working since 2004 on this, and deadlines were missed due to corruption. Which is a global problem. Even in Melbourne commonwealth, players were forced to live in hotels as their village was not ready. XIX Commonwealth games is the wealthiest game and greenest as well. Many earlier commonwealth games ran out of money during preparations.”

[Panel II] “It is this callous ‘chalta hai’ attitude / ‘let us be happy with what we have’ or what people proudly call ‘jugaad’ is the bane of India. 60% of all agricultural produce in India is wasted before it reaches consumers, India tops the list in everything from poverty, AIDS, Cancer, et al. Farmers who provide food to the whole nation die without food. But we still want to appreciate very few good things the Government does, which as a matter of fact is their job! Yes, I am a capitalist. I believe only capitalism and market oriented policies will bring change. And for that we need such attractions as games. Those are signs of a maturing economy. But that was not the intention or not even developing local talent. Many proposals were made to build national level and state level competitions aka NBA and so on. But it was ignored, less scope for large scale corruption there. Politicians won by this games bribing (or openly gifting) and using the diplomatic clout. It was not awarded on merits. It was so badly managed and the cost overshot by many multiples. It’s a national shame, but few people want to celebrate it. We should mourn it so that there will be a change, there is a realisation. Unless we Indians don’t accept we suck at choosing politicians, or participating in politics, India will remain a land of miseries and contradictions.

Above all everybody has their right to their opinion, if one has read the very first chapter in Civics in middle school. Nobody can ask anybody to shut their mouth. It’s called Right to Speech. ‘What have you done?’ is an irrelevant question, rather a nonsensical defence. I voted for him to do that job. Now I will go ahead and fire him by not casting my vote. I have my job to focus. Each minute of every Citizen adds to building the nation!”

Sucking at choosing politicians, that’s what people think now. I have myself heard and read on several other blogs and forums. “India is a nice country with Strong economy and military, but ugly government.” Despite having a huge number of political parties, Indians are unsatisfied with options available to them for choosing a government. Some don’t cast their vote and some do caste paid votes.

[Panel I] Continuing the discussion, one person said: “I have read the report showing that India bribed other commonwealth nations to win the bid. But the report also said that our main competitor Canada was not so innocent as well, they offered bribe of 70K where as India offered bribe of 100K. Nobody then talked about that report again. So I feel it may be a fake too. But I won’t be surprised if it is true because I acknowledge the problem of corruption.

In 1947 English left us wiping and sucking everything from this rich land with a gift of Pakistan. We had to start from the scratch. And we are at good position now, though we are nowhere in comparison with Japan, China and Singapore which also had tough times in 1940s. But during recession, when America and other markets were down, companies were getting bankrupt and people were loosing jobs. India launched its mission to moon worth 384 crore with a GDP of 7+. It is not so easy maintaining such a big nation with various religions and ethnicity. Even America is having problems where central states and native Americans time to time comes up with a demand for independence. But American media doesn’t show all that negative things. But we are trying that’s a good thing. With so many evils in our societies still if we are able to make in the list of top five superpowers and top fifteen economy, I can’t just imagine what will be our position if we just normalize our condition, if not excellent. I hope they will learn from commonwealth mistakes.”

Public Link to the photos of completed World Class venues of the games, which media never showed to you
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=249919&id=530068553&l=e289301bbf

Difficulties and hurdles did come in the way of preparations. But India at the end has done its job completely, earning the thumbs up and praise from those who strongly blamed the organizers is a big achievement. It’s one opportunity which India wouldn’t like to lose to project its power to the world. Unsuccessful games will add to the long list of failed games earning a mark of failure forever.

View the latest XIX Commonwealth Games 2010, Delhi, Medal Tally:  CWG 2010 Medal Tally


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Sanskar Shrivastava is the founder of international students' journal, The World Reporter. Passionate about dynamic occurrence in geopolitics, Sanskar has been studying and analyzing geopolitcal events from early life. At present, Sanskar is a student at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture and will be moving to Duke University.

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A Historical exploration of Khajuraho

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khajuraho temple

The UNESCO world heritage temples of Khajuraho are situated in the Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh. Built by the kings of Chandela dynasty during 950 to 1050 AD, these exquisite temples were lost to the world from 13AD onwards till they were discovered by the British in 1838 under the cover of dense date palm trees.

 This collection of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain temples are Khajuraho temples are famous for art on stone. Variously described as living temples, Temple of Love and consisting of unique erotic sculptures the Khajuraho group of temples are considered by many to be the pinnacle of India’s temple art. The temple complex creates an eclectic mix of spirituality, eastern philosophy, architecture and cultural heritage.

Khajuraho is best visited during winter on account of its extreme climate. Summer months can be very hot. The famous Khajuraho Dance Festival is held in March and attracts visitors from across the world.

 Khajuraho is well connected to major cities by train and by air. The airport is 5km from the city centre and links to Delhi, Agra and Mumbai. It is best recommended to use a trusted cab service provider like Savaari, where you can make an online booking by downloading the Savaari App.

Western Group of temples.

 The Western group of temples have the largest of the temples and are richly decorated and form the main area of attraction

  • Lakshmana Temple – The temple dedicated to the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva is the oldest of the Khajuraho temples and has some the finest sculptures that can be seen in India.
  • Kandariya Mahadeo Temple – This Shiva temple is covered with beautiful carvings, sculptures and frescos that are known for their beauty, grandeur and finesse.
  • Devi Jagdamba Temple – This relatively dainty temple dedicated to Goddess Jagadamba has three bands of sculptures and the uppermost layer has some of the most erotic sculptures that Khajuraho is also famous for.
  • Chitragupta Temple – One of the rare temples of the Sun God in the country.
  • Vishwanath Temple – The temple is unique for its colossal bull statue dedicated to Nandi, the favourite companion of Lord Shiva.

Eastern Group of Temples

  • Parsvanath Temple – The Jain temple shows an eclectic mixture of Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim influences in its three roof architecture.
  • Ghantai Temple – This Digambar Jain temple has a beautiful frieze inscribed on stone depicting the 16 dreams as seen by the Mother of Lord Mahavira. The temple though gets its name from the remarkable pillars, carved with chains and bells.
  • Brahma Temple – Among the oldest temples in Khajuraho, the temple is built entirely using granite and sandstone and dedicated to Lord Vishnu.

 Southern Group of Temples

  • Chattarbhuj Temple – Situated 3 km from the main city, the temple is the only one in Khajuraho without any erotic sculpture and faces west. Best visited during the sunset, the temple is known for the intricate and beautifully detailed four-armed idol of Lord Vishnu.

Do remember to attend the Light and Sound Show conducted in the Western group of temples that describes the horary past of these beautiful monuments.

Khajuraho is surrounded by other places of interest, such as the Panna National Park and the Ranneh Falls. Do plan your visit and hire outstation or local cabs from the airport to visit these temple complexes.

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Explore the royal city of Mysore

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Call it the Heritage City or the City of Palaces, the city of Mysore still emanates a feeling of au royale even in a 21st century India. A place of heritage for royal families, sultans, and legendary names in history, every corner of Mysore is steeped in stories of victory, power, and grandeur. A tour of this majestic city is only justified when you explore the royal heritage of the City of Palaces.

Getting there

Conveniently located on the southern edge of the Karnataka State, Mysore is easily accessible from major cities. It takes about three hours to travel the 152 KM distance from Bangalore to Mysore.

History and Heritage

The city of Mysore served as the capital for the Kingdom of Mysore between the 1300s until 1956. These six centuries saw the kingdom change hands of rulers and kings, from the Wadiyar Dynasty, Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. But the common element of all the rulers was their penchant for art and culture. Under their patronage, they contributed to the city’s visual and cultural glory which earned Mysore the fame of Karnataka’s cultural capital.

A royal tour

If you want to experience the regal side of Mysore, you cannot but miss these structures of historical and architectural significance. You can join a heritage walking tour to explore the city on foot, or head from Bangalore to Mysore by car and stop by at monuments, palaces, and museums and learn about the legends that made Mysore. You can start your walk from the Town Hall, built in 1884, as a tribute to the first Dewan of the city.

mysore-palace-598472_1280

Mysore Palace- The official residence of the royal family of Wadiyars, the palace itself is a work of marvel. An overwhelming blend of   Indo-Saracenic, neoclassical, Indo-Islamic and Gothic architectural works, the Mysore Palace is a breathtaking sight. Built in 1912, the palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and boasts delicate works of mirrors, stained glass, mosaic and more. On any given day, you will find more tourists here than even at the Taj Mahal. Every Sunday, the palace comes alive with 97000 light bulbs bedazzling its façade and the premises.

Lalitha Palace– Yet another heritage building, the two-storied Lalitha Mahal sits on a ridge at the foothills of the Chamundi Hills, which makes for a great vantage point. The palace was transformed into a hotel and offers a royal stay. If you truly want a feeling of royalty, then a stay here would be an experience.

Jaganmohan Palace– One of the seven prominent palaces of Mysore city, is a stunning work of ancient Indian architecture with intricate interiors and exteriors. The palace, transformed into a royal art gallery since 1915, houses paintings of the royal family, art by Raja Ravi Varma and an array of rare and antique musical instruments.

Museums- Stop by the Rail Museum to explore the archaic steam engines, the Maharani’s saloon, and other railway souvenirs. There’s also the Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion showcasing more than 6500 folk artifacts from all parts of Karnataka. The Folk Art Museum, one of the most visited in the city, is also known for its collection of toys, models, and figurines.

Crawford Hall- Built in 1947, this is a must visit historic structure in Mysore. The royal palace is now known as the Mysore University but still renders a rich heritage to its ambiance.

Small, medium or large-scale, every historical building and monument of Mysore has a majestic touch to it. And such architecture speaks of its glorious past, which has left traces for the modern civilization to explore.

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India’s Victory at the International Court of Justice is the World’s Challenge to the Status Quo

Manak Suri

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flickr/romanboed

For the past week, both the Indian and British media have rigorously covered the story of the re-election of India’s justice Dalveer Bhandari to the bench of judges in the International Court of Justice on Tuesday, November 21. That the Indian judge retained his position on the bench was not the sole reason for the story’s extensive coverage; his reappointment combined with the fact that it happened at the expense of the United Kingdom’s spot on the bench is why the story is making so many rounds… and no, that many Indians may see it as some sort of a comeback against Britain’s 200 years of colonial rule over the country is not the reason why it matters. It matters because this is the first time since 1946 that the UK has no judge on the ICJ bench, and that signals possible changes in the way international bodies govern and are governed. So what does this mean for India, for the UK and for the world at large?

The International Court of Justice

The International Court of Justice or the ICJ was established in 1945 by the United Nations as its principal judicial branch and is located in The Hague, Netherlands. Its job is to settle legal disputes between states that are submitted to it and give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it. The court comprises of a total of 15 judges that are elected to 9 year terms by way of voting from both the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) separately. One third of the court is re-elected every three years, and no two judges of the same nationality may assume positions on the bench simultaneously. However, the rule that led to the deadlock between the candidates from India and UK is that a candidate must obtain an absolute majority in both the UNGA and the UNSC in order to be elected to the bench.

UN General Assembly vs UN Security Council: The Race in Numbers

On November 9 and November 13, in seven rounds of voting justice Bhandari secured between 110 and 121 votes from a total of 193 in the UNGA against figures between 68 and 79 secured by his British counterpart Sir Christopher Greenwood. However, among the UNSC, justice Bhandari lost out by 5 votes to 9 in favour of Sir Greenwood. In the face of uncertainty, the UK then pushed for a ‘joint conference’ under the rules of the court between the UNSC and the UNGA. Under the ‘joint conference’ three countries from each side then determine the name for the court. However, the rules do not mention the procedure to select these countries and understandably so, since the option was last invoked in 1921. Fearing not enough support from the council, criticism for invoking the charter, and harming its friendly as well as economic relations with India, the UK eventually chose to not follow through with the process and withdrew its candidature for the post. In the end, India secured the seat with a total of 183 votes out of 193 at the UNGA and all 15 at the UNSC.

There is More to the Victory than Meets the Eye

The result means different things for the parties involved and also for the balance of power and influence between countries. For the UK, there are hardly any positives to take away from this result amid already turbulent times. Many in the British media have viewed this loss as ‘a blow to British international prestige’ and the country’s acceptance of a diminishing role in global affairs. This was the UK’s second major defeat at the ICJ after it lost a vote by a margin of 94 to 15 countries in June when the UNGA voted in favour of referring the question of decolonisation and self-determination of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean to the ICJ, which is currently under its control. Many within and outside the country have also been quick to blame Brexit for the situation in which they find themselves today, arguing that the other states, especially the ones within the European Union would have been less willing to snub the UK had the UK chosen not to leave the alliance. In the face of defeat, British diplomats have continued to maintain that they are happy that their close friend India has won, but have also not been shy of hiding their natural disappointment at their own loss.

For India, their victory in having a judge win the contest in getting elected to the ICJ bench against a permanent member of the UNSC is more symbolic than anything else. It reinforces India’s image at the highest stage as a major emerging global player and its ability to bring in greater reforms that push for more involvement from developing countries and emerging economies. Also, having a judge on the ICJ bench gives India an edge over Pakistan in the case involving former Indian Navy Officer Kulbhushan Jadhav who has been sentenced to death by a Pakistan military court on the charges of espionage. True, a judge on the ICJ does not represent his/her country or their interests. However, as suggested by repeated criticism the court receives for being biased in favour of the states who appoint the judges, having a judge on the panel is certainly an asset for any country, no matter what the rules dictate on paper.

The most important takeaway from the whole episode far exceeds the ambitions of just the two countries and a race for a seat at the ICJ. India’s victory at the court reinforces the belief that power does not necessarily reside or has to reside with the ‘few global elite’, a sentiment which was expressed clearly when most member states of the UNGA backed India’s justice Bhandari to be re-elected against the choice of the permanent members or P5 of the UNSC. There seems to be an acknowledgment among the member states of the UN of the beginning of a change which sees an increasing shift in the balance of power away from the traditional powers of the world or the P5 – Britain, China, United States, Russia, and France. Of these countries, China was the only member to not have a judge on the ICJ between 1967 and 1985 till the final decision last week, when they were joined by the UK in the list. Last year, Russia was voted off the United Nations Human Rights Council. In the 2016 elections, France lost out on securing a position in the International Law Commission. While diplomats at the UN continue to maintain that there are no winners and losers here, that it is all part of a bigger picture, these developments undoubtedly mark diplomatic victories for the Group of 77 or the G77, a coalition of developing nations at the UN that have constantly pushed for an enhanced negotiating capacity. What remains to be seen is just to what extent they bring about a change in the status quo.

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