The Morning Wrap is HuffPost India’s selection of interesting news and opinion from the day’s newspapers. Subscribe here to receive it in your inbox each weekday morning.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi concluded his final radio address for 2015 with an unusual message: persons with disabilities have special powers in their limbs. Instead of using the word “viklaang” (handicapped), he asked Indians to call them“divyaang”” (divine bodies). “I really liked this word a lot. Dear citizens, can we use it in common parlance,” he said.
“I dream of a day,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in 2007 , “while retaining our respective national identities, one can have breakfast in Amritsar, lunch in Lahore and dinner in Kabul. That is how I want our grandchildren to live.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi did what Singh could not. On Christmas Day, Modi stunned the world by casually announcing on Twitter that he was heading to Lahore to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on his birthday. It was his first trip to Pakistan, and the the first time an Indian prime minister visited the country in over a decade.
It seems that Modi is embracing the Vajpayee-Manmohan way of dealing with Pakistan, instead of how hardline security hawks would like. Why this visit could be a game changer: stealth diplomacy is the new normal.
While the details of the tete-a-tete between Sharif and Modi were not officially disclosed, the first concrete outcome of his visit is a meeting between the foreign secretary’s of both countries in Islamabad on Jan. 15.
It is India’s turn to play host, but Islamabad was reportedly chosen so that Pakistan’s foreign secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhary could avoid meeting All Parties Hurriyat Conference leaders. Interactions between Pakistani officials and Kashmiri separatists has forced the Modi government to cancel the calls twice since May 2014.
Dear SRK, I have decided to write a letter and share it with the world, apologising for letting you down. You see, I am a proud Shah Rukh fan and an Indian and I have not stood by you in the last three days.
I know the last three days have hurt you. I can’t imagine what it must feel like, to be questioned and have your image tarnished after 25 years of entertaining millions of Indians. And to have your “Indianness” questioned at the drop of a hat is simply unimaginable.
The number of Indians who have joined the Islamic State now stands at 25. Till August, the number of Indians in the IS stood at 17. Six of them are reportedly dead. The Internet has been the only mode of recruitment, so far.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that only Indian Muslim families stop their children from joining ISIS.
Why can’t we be like leaders in Europe, who meet each other for casual get-togethers and chats?” Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during their meeting on Christmas, while agreeing to maintain contact at the highest level and not to let adverse incidents disrupt their talks.
Noida has altered work hours of offices, shops, timings of schools and weekly holidays to bring down vehicular pollution. For instance, sectors 10, 62, 64, 87 will have a holiday on Saturday while sectors 1, 3, 15, 16, 57,68, 80, 90, Baroli, Nithari, Morana will have their weekly holiday on Monday. Read details of the new measures here.
Responding to BJP general secretary Ram Madhav’s remark on how the RSS believes in Akhand Bharat with India, Pakistan and Bangladesh reuniting, the BJP said that the party and the government believe that India and Pakistan are two sovereign nations.
Off The Front Page
Cigarette consumption in India is falling steadily even as the number of women smokers is rising, making it home to the second largest number of female smokersafter the United States. According to the latest official data on cigarette consumption, the consumption in 2014-15 was 93.2 billion sticks — 10 billion less than in 2012-13.
After Priya Parashar tweeted about alleged misbehaviour by a train staffer, the Railway Police Force came swiftly to the rescue. “I asked him why he was providingcheap packaged water in place of Rail Neer. In response, he snatched the cheap water bottle from my hand deliberately and shouted at me. I was shocked,” she said.
At the next station, RPF personnel took the staff member and imposed a fine on him. “Thanks #MinistryofRailway for the prompt response,” she tweeted.
Contrary to the media narrative on crore-plus offers at the IITs, the median salaries offered to new graduates are far more modest, according to internal data on placements. The handful of students who get offers for jobs overseas which tip the payscales over Rs.1 crore skew the average IIT graduate’s starting salary.
The video of a Pakistani journalist’s reaction – “Tauba, Tauba” – to the entry of over 100 Indians, accompanying Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Lahore, has gone viral. The reporter was extremely agitated that the Indians were not carrying valid visas.
Research shows that the biggest barriers to connecting people are affordability and awareness of the internet. Many people can’t afford to start using the internet. But even if they could, they don’t necessarily know how it can change their lives.
Over the last year Facebook has worked with mobile operators, app developers and civil society to overcome these barriers in India and more than 30 other countries. We launched Free Basics, a set of basic internet services for things like education, healthcare, jobs and communication that people can use without paying for data, writes Mark Zuckerburg in The Times of India.
Among all the questions we’ve raised about Free Basics, if there was one that I would pick to ask Mark Zuckerberg, it would be this: Why has Facebook chosen the current model for Free Basics, which gives users a selection of around a hundred sites (including a personal blog and a real estate company homepage), while rejecting the option of giving the poor free access to the open, plural and diverse web?, writesNikhil Pahwa in The Times of India.
In many ways, Arun Jaitley is the Manmohan Singh of the BJP. No evidence has thus far emerged that, in his long tenure as DDCA president, Jaitley financially benefited from the various scams the association is now accused of. Yet all around him, men in the DDCA were on the make, on the take, writes Ramachandra Guha in The Indian Express.
In the Hindustan Times, Manas Chakravarty writes: The day Dawood Ibrahim gave his retirement speech.
“Dear thugs, hoodlums, crooks, shady generals, politicos and Arab princes….I turn 60 today. You all know how passionately I loved my work. Nothing delighted me more than dreaming up an extortion racket, masterminding a kidnapping, devising a strategy for smuggling drugs. Unfortunately, with age, the passion has dimmed. Kidnapping has become a chore, murder a bore, drugs a snore.”