3rd India – Africa Forum Summit 2015


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MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           OCTOBER 31, 2015           10.30 P.M.

In my previous blog about the foreign policy initiatives and achievements of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, I wrote about his 3 unique and epoch-making initiatives. They are :

1 – Forum for India-Pacific Islands cooperation [ FIPIC ]

2 – Indian Ocean Outreach Programme [ IOOP ]

3 – India-Africa Forum Summit [ IAFS ]

In that blog I particularly wrote about his first initiative; FIPIC. But briefly, I also wrote about India Africa Forum Summit, IAFS . I wrote that technically, though India Africa Forum Summit, IAFS was started in 2008 by previous UPA government but in all probability, I consider it to be Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiative. Here are the reasons for my thinking.

First IAFS was held in 2008 from April 4 – 8 in New Delhi. It was attended by only 14 Heads of State / Government.

Second IAFS was attended by 15 Heads of State / Government. One more than the previous one. It was held in Adis Ababa, Ethiopia from 21 – 25 May, 2011.

Third IAFS was held in New Delhi from 26 – 29 October, 2015. It was attended by 51 of the 54 countries. 41 Heads of State / Government participated and 10 remaining countries were represented by high power delegations. Thus the total number of countries attending 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit 2015 comes to 51. Only 3 countries could not attend. Singapore and UAE attended the summit as observers. Thus the total number of countries attending the summit comes to 53.

It is historic. It is momentous and unprecedented. It is epoch-making. 3rd India Africa Forum Summit 2015 is the 2nd largest congregation of Heads of State / Government ever held in India. 2 Kings , 26 Presidents , 6 Vice Presidents and 7 Prime Ministers of 41 African Countries , the President of the African Union, 10 African countries represented by high power delegations along with Singapore and UAE as observers attended this 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit. Total number comes to 53.

Now few facts about the history of summits involving African nations.

1 – JAPAN : Japan was the 1st country to hold regular summits with African nations since 1993. It is once-every-five-years summit and is always held in Japan.

It will now be once-every-three-years summit.

2 – CHINA : China was the second nation to hold summit with African nations since 2000. Like Japan, it is also once-every-three-years summit.

3 – THE EUROPEAN UNION : The European Union started holding summit with African nations since 2004. It is also once-every-three-years summit.

4 – INDIA : We are the 4th country and started our summit in 2008. The India-Africa Forum Summit will be once-in-a-five-years summit as proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

5 – UNITED STATES OF AMERICA : The US is the 5th and last country to hold such summit. She started holding the summit since 2014. It was the biggest till date as leaders of 35 African countries attended the summit.

 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit 2015

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54 African Heads of State / Government Attending the Summit

41 African Heads of State / Government Attending the Summit

 

Logo - 2015

 

Logo of 3rd India Africa Forum Summit

Logo of 3rd India Africa Forum Summit 2015

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted dinner in honour of visiting dignitaries. It was held at Pragati Maidan.

 

Modi Waiting for the Guests

Modi Waiting for the Guests

 

All the leaders and first ladies were in attendance in ethnic wear gifted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

 

Heads of State / Government in Modi Jacket Attending Dinner Hosted by Modi

Heads of State / Government in Modi Jacket Attending Dinner Hosted by Modi

 

President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria with President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger

President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria with President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger at the venue

 

with The First Lady

President of South Africa Jacob Zuma with The First Lady

 

Plenary Session of the summit was inaugurated next day after the dinner, i.e. on October 29, 2015. Before the plenary session all the visiting dignitaries were ceremonially welcomed at the venue, Indira Gandhi Sports Complex.

Ceremonial Welcome

Ceremonial Welcome

 

Cultural Programme

Cultural Programme before the Plenary Session

 

Cultural Programme

Cultural Programme Before the Plenary Session

 

Summit Begins

The Plenary Session – Summit Begins

 

Summit Venue

Summit Venue

 

Modi Attending the Summit

Modi Attending the Plenary Session

 

Modi & Mugabe Releasing Stamps / Coins

Modi & Mugabe Releasing Commemorative Stamps / Coins

Before and after the Summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had one-on-one bilateral meetings with all the 41 visiting Heads of State / Government.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi met 19 leaders for one-on-one meeting on October 28, 2015. They were : ROBERT MUGABE [ President Zimbabwe ] / JOHN DRAMANI MAHAMA [ President Ghana ] / MSWATI III [ King Swaziland ] / BONI YAYI [ President Benin ] / MUHAMMADU BUHARI [ President Nigeria ] / UHURU KENYATA [ President Kenya ] / YOWERI KAGUTA MUSEVENI [ President Uganda ] / BETHUEL PAKALITHA MOSISILI [ Prime Minister Lesotho ] / OBIANG NGUEMA MBASOGO [ President Equatorial Guinea ] / ISMAIL OMAR GUELLEL [ President Djibouti ] / SALVA KIIR MAYARDIT President South Sudan ] / ISSOUFOU MAHAMADOU [ President Niger ] / IDRIS DEBY ITNO [ President Chad ] / JACOB G ZUMA [ President South Africa ] / CARLOS AGOSTINHO DO ROSARIO Prime Minister Mozambique ] / PATRICE EMERY TROVOADA [ Prime Minister Sao Tome & Principe ] / ALI BONGO ONDIMBA [ President Gabon ] / ALFAHA CONDE [ President Guinea ] / MOKGWEETSI ERIC KEABETSWE MASISI [ Vice President Botswana ]

He met 10 another leaders for bilateral meetings on October 29, 2015. They were : MOHAMMED VI [ King Morocco ] / HAGE G GEINGOB [ President Namibia ] / ABDEL FATTAH AL-SISI [ President Egypt ] / IBRAHIM KEITA [ Prime Minister Mali ] / HAILEMARIAM DESSALEGN [ Prime Minister Ethiopia ] / MANNUEL DOMINGOS [ Vice President Angola ] / MOHAMED BILAL [ Vice President Tanzania ] / SHEIKH MOHAOUD [ President Somalia ] / IKILILOU DHOININE [ President Comoros ] / MAURITANIA

10 Bilateral Meetings

10 Bilateral Meetings

After the end of the summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met remaining 12 African leaders on October 30, 2015. They were : OMAR EL BASHIR [ President Sudan ] / ERNEST BAI KOROME [ President Sierra Leone ] / HERY RAJAONARIMAMPIANIA [ President Madagascar ] / ANEROOD JUGNAUTH [ Prime Minister Mauritius ] / INONGE WINAAT [ Vice President Zambia ] / ANANSTASE MUREKEZI [ Prime Minister Rwanda ] / SALVA KIIR MAYARDIT [ President South Sudan ] / MACKY SALL [ President Senagal ] / JOSE MARIO VAZ [ President Guinea Bissau ] / AJALSATON NJIE SAIDY [ Vice President Gambia ] / GASTON SINLIMWO [ Vice President Burundi ] / ELLEN SIRLEAF [ President Liberia ]

Apart from above mentioned African leaders, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also met NKOOAZANA DLAMINI ZUMA, Chairperson African Union.

On 29th, after the plenary session, the President of India invited all the visiting dignitaries for dinner party at Rashtrapati Bhawan. Rashtrapati Bhawan was decorated and illuminated for the grand memorable occasion.

Rashtrapati Bhawan Welcoming African Heads of State / Government

Rashtrapati Bhawan Illuminated for the African Heads of State / Government

 

Rashtrapati Bhawan Welcoming African Heads of State / Government

Rashtrapati Bhawan Illuminated for the African Heads of State / Government

 

Rashtrapati Bhawan Welcoming African Heads of State / Government

Rashtrapati Bhawan Illuminated for the African Heads of State / Government

 

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It is sad and deplorable that a foreign policy initiative of such magnitude and gigantic proportions was largely neglected by national media, print and electronic both. [ Hindustan Times is perhaps the only exception. ] It is the 2nd biggest and largest diplomatic event ever hosted by India. Let me tell about 2 other such big events held during Indira Gandhi’s regime.

1 – NON ALIGNED MOVEMENT [ NAM ] :

The 7th NAM Summit was held from 7 – 12 March, 1983 in New Delhi. Participating countries 140.

2 – COMMONWEALTH HEADS OF GOVERNMENT [ CHOGM ] :

The 7th CHOGM Summit was held from 23 – 29 November, 1983 in New Delhi. Participating countries 42.

Thus 32 years after hugely successful 7th NAM Summit 1983 , the 3rd India Africa Forum Summit 2015 is the 2nd largest congregation of Heads of State / Government ever held in India. I repeat : 2 Kings , 26 Presidents , 6 Vice Presidents and 7 Prime Ministers of 41 African Countries , the President of the African Union, 10 African countries represented by high power delegations along with Singapore and UAE as observers attended this 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit. Total number comes to 53.

But it was ignored by the media and the cause is animosity towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is a sad state of affair in our country. When it comes to Modi, even the pretension of balance is dropped and discarded. The bias is obvious and open, the daggers are drawn and the bellicose media is waiting for the kill. Alas!!

But history will not be cruel. It will be kind and judge this event in a proper light and will apply unbiased yardsticks. Years after 2015, when Narendra Modi will not be around, when the dust will settle down and the bias will evaporate and the historian will sit down to chronicle the Narendra Modi era of India, the 3rd India Africa Forum Summit 2015  will be seen and will be mentioned in a different way.

So over to the future with no regrets.

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Barack Obama on Narendra Modi


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MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           APRIL 17, 2015           01.25 A.M.

This is not an original blog written by me. It is profile of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi  , written by the 44th President of U.S.A. for magazine. The 166-word piece, written as part of the magazine’s annual ritual of coming out with its list of 100 Most Influential People is being re-produced here.

India’s Prime Minister “transcends the ancient and the modern,” writes President

 

 

 

The article written

by

Barack Obama

Narendra Modi
By Barack Obama

India’s reformer-in-chief

As a boy, Narendra Modi helped his father sell tea to support their family. Today, he’s the leader of the world’s largest democracy, and his life story—from poverty to Prime Minister—reflects the dynamism and potential of India’s rise.

Determined to help more Indians follow in his path, he’s laid out an ambitious vision to reduce extreme poverty, improve education, empower women and girls and unleash India’s true economic potential while confronting climate change. Like India, he transcends the ancient and the modern—a devotee of yoga who connects with Indian citizens on Twitter and imagines a “digital India.”

When he came to Washington, Narendra and I visited the memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We reflected on the teachings of King and Gandhi and how the diversity of backgrounds and faiths in our countries is a strength we have to protect. Prime Minister Modi recognizes that more than 1 billion Indians living and succeeding together can be an inspiring model for the world.

————————————————————–

Shortly after the article appeared on the Time magazine’s website, Prime Minister  Narendra Modi took to Twitter to express his gratitude at the rare gesture :

Dear your words are touching & inspiring. Thanks .

 

 

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I am happy that our Prime Minister is being honoured by world-famous magazine and is being written about by the most influential man on this earth, the President of United States of America .

On behalf of all the students & staff of VIDUR Acting Institute , VIDUR Editing Studio , VIDUR Club and VIDUR Merchandise, I congratulate our Prime Minister  Narendra Modi  .

May he attain greater glories in future!!

 

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Crimea in Turmoil : The February Jinx


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MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           MARCH 04 , 2014           00.30 A.M.

Never in my wildest dreams I had imagined that one day , I would be sitting in Mumbai and writing a blog about Crimea. I know this name ” Crimea ” will not ring a familiar bell for majority of my countrymen. But students of world history know about Crimea . I , as a student of history , have read about Crimean War [ 1853 – 1856 ] in detail . Much before World war I [ 1914 – 1918 ] , French Empire , Ottoman Empire , British Empire and Kingdom of Sardinia fought a bloody and fierce battle with Russian Empire over the right of Christians in Holy Land . Allied forces fought for Roman Catholics and Russian Empire fought for Orthodox Church . Crimean war , fought between October 1853 to February 1856 , resulted in the victory for Allied Forces and finally Treaty of Paris was signed between the victors and the vanquished .

Crimean War had far-reaching effect in the history of mankind. It will aways be remembered for Florence Nightingale and her pioneering service for the wounded in the war . Her work heralded the modern nursing methods . It is a little known fact that Mahatma Gandhi won Victoria Cross for his services for the British Empire during Crimean War . It is also a fact that in the aftermath of Crimean War , because of heavy financial crisis and huge debt , which he was unable to pay , Alexander II , the Czar of Russia sold Alaska region of Russian Empire to U.S.A. Alaska was admitted as the 49th state of USA on January 3, 1959 .

As a student of history I have read about Yalta Conference of February 1945 , a.k.a. Crimea Conference , and many more pages of Crimean history during World War II . By strange quirk of history and unlike Crimean War , British Empire and Russian Empire were not at loggerheads during World War II but they were fighting together as the Allied Forces along with United States of America . Franklin D. Roosevelt of U.S.A. , Winston Churchill of Great Britain and Joseph Stalin of Russia assembled at Yalta , a port city of Crimea and discussed and decided Europe’s Post – War reorganization .

Yalta Summit-1

Yalta Summit-2

Churchill , Roosevelt & Stalin at Yalta Conference

So when I read about the recent turmoil in Crimea , I was alarmed and concerned . I just wrote and posted a blog about Ukraine . I was celebrating the success of nationalist forces of Ukraine and the fall of pro – Russian Ukrainian President and a tyrant Viktor Yanukovich . But alas , it was short – lived . Viktor Yanukovich took refuge in Moscow and Russian forces slyly entered into the Simferopol , the capital of Crimea , and took control of the airport and other vital government installations .

Map - 3

Map of Crimea

Map - 1

Map of Crimea

Crimea is a peninsula and is attached to Ukraine by a narrow stretch of land which is at places not more than 5 km in width. For centuries Russian Empire was struggling to have a foothold in the warm water of Black Sea for her navy. With the decline of Ottoman Empire , and after the end of Crimean War , Russian Empire annexed Ukraine and Crimea and these regions first became part of Russian Empire and later on a Soviet Republic of USSR [ Union of Soviet Socialist Republic ] . Ukrainian Cossacks and Ukrainian Tatars [ Muslims ] resented the Russian sovereignty but to no avail . From 1922 to 1945 Crimea remained a part of USSR as the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic . On February 19 , 1954 , the Presidium of Supreme Soviet of USSR transferred Crimean region to the Ukraine Soviet Socialist Republic . And thus from 1945 to 1991 , Crimea remained a part of Ukraine .

As I have stated in my earlier blog about Ukraine , in 1991 USSR was disintegrated and Ukraine , along with 14 other republics became independent country . In 1991 Crimea became a part of Ukraine as the Autonomous Republic of Crimea .

This is the brief history of Crimea . Things started changing fast and situation became fluid after the fall of pro – Russian president of Ukraine , Viktor Yanukovich . On February 26 , 2014 pro – Russia and pro – Ukraine protesters clashed in front of the parliament building in Simferopol .

Protesters with Russian Tricolour in Crimea

Protesters with Russian Tricolour in Crimea

Russian parliament granted President Vladimir Putin the authority to use military force in Ukraine . And because of his unbridled ambition to regain the lost glory of Russian Empire , President Vladimir Putin wants to exercise this new-found authority . He simply forgets that in 1994 Russia backed the legal status of Crimea as part of Ukraine and signed a treaty with United States of America , United Kingdom and France and pledged to uphold the territorial integrity of Ukraine . This treaty was ratified in May 1997 and Russia finally accepted Ukraine’s present borders and Ukraine’s sovereignty over Crimea and Sevastopol .

He is emboldened by the fact that Ethnic Ukrainians make up only 24 % of the population , Ethnic Russian 58 % and Ethnic Tatar Muslims 12 % . And this 58 % Russian population is urging Russia to intervene and take control of Crimea and govern Crimea . They was to secede from Ukraine . And Vladimir Putin is more than willing to oblige .

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Ukraine is in trouble . Crimea is in turmoil . Jinx of February seems to be working again in the troubled history of Crimea . Have a look :

Crimean War : February 1856

Yalta Conference : February 1945

Crimea Became Part of Ukraine : February 1954

Crimean Occupation by Russia : February 2014

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On behalf of all the students and staff of VIDUR Acting Institute , I express my solidarity with the Ukrainian people , with the Crimean people .

VIDUR Editing Studio , VIDUR Club and VIDUR Theatre would also like to wish them well and pray for their glorious future ahead .

[ All the dates and certain historical facts about Crimea and Ukraine have been taken from Wikipedia and are quoted here in this blog . I express my gratitude . ]

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Pandit Ravi Shankar : The Sitar Silenced


English: Master of Sitar, Ravi Shankar. Deutsc...

Pandit Ravi Shankar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           DECEMBER 14 , 2012           11.55 P.M.

Pandit Ravi Shankar , the Sitar maestro and the unofficial ambassador of Indian Classical music , died on December 11 , 2012 in San Diego , California , United States of America at the age of 92 .

I am fortunate that I could attend one of his concerts in Allahabad . My Allahabad days are very important for me because they shaped my life and personality immensely . I could meet literary figures like Firaq Gorakhpuri , Sumitra Nandan Pant , Vijay Dev Narayan Sahi and Amrit Rai . I could interact with politicians like Murli Manihar Joshi , who was a professor in the university in those days . I could attend the concerts of various musicians like ; Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ustad  Alla Rakha Khan and some others .

The year was 1971 / 72 . One evening I was sitting in my room in Sir Ganga Nath Jha Hostel and was studying . My friend Pramod Vajpayee came running and informed me that Pandit Ravi Shankar along with Ustad Allarakha Khan is going to perform in Lakshmi Talkies . Lakshmi Talkies in Katara area of Allahabad was stones throw away from Sir Ganga Nath Jha Hostel . In those days it was our favourite hang out . I don’t know whether it still exists or not . But in those days it was almost a part of our lives .

I refused to believe that a musician of the stature of Pandit Ravi Shankar would be performing live in a small cinema hall like Lakshmi Talkies . But my friend’s excitement forced me to believe that it is really going to happen .

I rushed , almost sprinting , to the talkies along with my friend , bought the ticket and entered into the hall panting for breath and took my seat . I waited with bated breath . After some time hall was reverberating with deafening sound of claps and whistles . Pandit Ravi Shankar along with Ustad Allarakha Khan appeared on stage . He gently took his seat and started playing Sitar . Ustad Allarakha Khan was accompanying him on Tabla .

Ah ! I remember only this much . I am just a connoisseur and not an authority of Indian classical music . So I can’t write about the ragas or other nuances of that concert . But I can still remember the moment when time froze . My body became numb and nothing seemed to exist . There were two magical figures on the stage and the hall was full of etherial sound . I am unable to explain that moment .

I cherished that moment till now . That experience has become a part of my being . On December 11th , when I read about his death , it dawned on me that I won’t be able to see him ever . That fateful evening in Allahabad’s Lakshmi Talkies was my first and now the last occasion when I was so close to the colossus legend .

God ! I can live with pride that I could see the Tansen of my generation performing live in front of my eyes . Pandit Ravi Shankar is gone but my experience of attending his concert will live with me till my last breath .

All the news papers are full of the minutest details of his life . So there are no need to reproduce them . Today I just remembered the early days of Pandit Ravi Shankar . I was telling my acting students how Pandit ji was vehemently criticized by his peers and competitors . A puritan like Ustad Vilayat Khan , a life – long bete noir of Pandit Ravi Shankar , left no stone unturned to decry Pandit ji . According to him , Pandit Ravi Shankar was a fake wannabe Sitar player .Ustad Vilayat Khan’s rivalry turned into open animosity with the passage of time . He refused to accept Padma Shri in 1964 , Padma Bhushan in 1968 and Padma Vibhushan in 2000 because Pandit Ravi Shankar was conferred Padma Bhushan in 1967 , Padma Vibhushan in 1981 and finally Bharat Ratna in 1999 , and according to Ustad Vilayat Khan he would not accept any award that other Sitar players , his juniors and in his opinion less deserving , had been given before him . He even said , ” if there is any award for Sitar in India , I must get it first . ” He also refused Sangeet Natak Akademy Award and even boycotted All India Radio for a while . It is alleged that it all happened because of his jealousy and animosity for Pandit Ravi Shankar . And the end result was that Pandit Ravi Shankar got international fame and ultimately the Bharat Ratna . While Ustad Vilayat Khan had some decrepit awards called ; Bharat Sitar Samrat and Aftab – E – Sitar .

I told acting students of my acting institute , Vidur’s Kreating Charakters , that in the beginning of one’s life’s journey one can be called a fake , a wannabe , a cheat or a person of lesser knowledge by his jealous and less successful competitors . One should not get disheartened or affected . Time settles everything . Time has given a final and decisive verdict in the case of Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ustad Vilayat Khan . It will and it can happen to any one . Only time can tell . Only time will decide .

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I bow my head in reverence and pay my respect to the Tansen of my generation . With the demise of Pandit Ravi Shankar , Sitar will never be the same again . The world of music is orphaned .

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50 Years of Cuban Missile Crisis


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           OCTOBER 30, 2012           00.45 A.M.

Year 1962 in general and October 1962 in particular is permanently etched and engraved in my memory for two historical events . First is Chinese invasion of India and the second one is Cuban Missile Crisis .

I was 10 years old boy living in Deoria , Uttar Pradesh . My adolescent mind was getting awakened to the happenings of the world . I was curious . I was eager to gather knowledge . I was fascinated by the twists and turns of history . And these two epoch – making chapters of history opened in front of my eyes . I will write a separate blog about Chinese Invasion of India . Let me concentrate here on Cuban Missile Crisis .

 

U.S. reconnaissance photograph of soviet missi...

U.S. reconnaissance photograph of soviet missile sites on Cuba, taken from a Lockheed U-2 spy plane following the Cuban missile crisis. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

English: CIA reference photograph of Soviet me...

CIA reference photograph of Soviet medium-range ballistic missile (SS-4 in U.S. documents, R-12 in Soviet documents) in Red Square, Moscow. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Two main protagonists of the drama are now gone . J. F. Kennedy , the then President of U.S.A. got assassinated and Nikita Khrushchev , the then Premier of U.S.S.R. was deposed and subsequently died a natural death . But Comrade Fidel Castro , the then President of Cuba is still alive . His brother Raul Castro , who held parley with Nikita Khrushchev , is now President of Cuba . Let me unveil the incidents of the crisis , which might have escalated into World War III .

 

English: John F. Kennedy meeting with Nikita K...

John F. Kennedy meeting with Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

EXCOMM meeting at the White House Cabinet Room...

EXCOMM meeting at the White House Cabinet Room during the Cuban Missile Crisis on October 29, 1962. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The Soviet Union sending nuclear warheads to Cuba followed the 1958 deployment by the United States of Thor IRBMs in the UK (Project Emily) and Jupiter IRBMs to Italy and Turkey in 1961 – more than 100 US-built missiles having the capability to strike Moscow with nuclear warheads. After provocative political moves and the failed US attempts to overthrow the Cuban regime (Bay of Pigs, Operation Mongoose), in May 1962 Nikita Khrushchev proposed the idea of placing Soviet nuclear missiles on Cuba to deter any future invasion attempt. During a meeting between Khrushchev and Raúl Castro that July, a secret agreement was reached and construction of several missile sites began in the late summer. These preparations were noticed, and on 14 October an US U-2 aircraft took several pictures clearly showing sites for medium-range and intermediate-range ballistic nuclear missiles (MRBMs and IRBMs) under construction. These images were processed and presented on October 15, which marks the beginning of the 13-day crisis from the US perspective.

The United States considered attacking Cuba via air and sea, but decided on a military blockade instead, calling it a “quarantine” for legal and other reasons. The US announced that it would not permit offensive weapons to be delivered to Cuba, demanded that the Soviets dismantle the missile bases already under construction or completed, and return all offensive weapons to the USSR. The Kennedy administration held only a slim hope that the Kremlin would agree to their demands, and expected a military confrontation.

On the Soviet side, Premier Nikita Khrushchev wrote in a letter from October 24, 1962 to President John F. Kennedy that his blockade of “navigation in international waters and air space” constituted “an act of aggression propelling humankind into the abyss of a world nuclear-missile war”.However, in secret back-channel communications the President and Premier initiated a proposal to resolve the crisis. While this was taking place, several Soviet ships attempted to run the blockade, increasing tensions to the point that orders to US Navy ships to fire warning shots and then open fire were sent out. On 27 October a U-2 was shot down by a Soviet missile crew, an action that could have resulted in immediate retaliation from the Kennedy crisis cabinet, according to Secretary of Defense McNamara‘s later testimony. However, in the event itself, Kennedy stayed his hand and the negotiations continued.

 

English: The engine of Lockheed U-2 which has ...

The engine of Lockheed U-2 which has been brought down above Cuba in Museum of the Revolution in Havana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

English: Nikita Kruschev letter to President K...

Nikita Kruschev letter to President Kennedy stating that the Cuban Missile Crisis quarantine “constitute[s] an act of aggression propelling humankind into the abyss of a world nuclear-missile war.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The confrontation ended on October 28, 1962,when Kennedy and United Nations Secretary-General U Thant reached an agreement with Khrushchev. Publicly, the Soviets would dismantle their offensive weapons in Cuba and return them to the Soviet Union, subject to United Nations verification, in exchange for an US public declaration and agreement never to invade Cuba. Secretly, the US agreed that it would dismantle all US-built Jupiter IRBMs deployed in Turkey and Italy.

 

English: Adlai Stevenson II shows aerial photo...

Adlai Stevenson II shows aerial photos of Russian missiles in Cuba to the United Nations Security Council in the presence of USSR ambassador Valerian Zorin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I am quoting the events of the crisis from Wikipedia . Because , though I vividly remember the crisis but day-to-day events in chronological order have been almost obfuscated from my memory .

While I was sitting in the office of my acting institute Vidur’s Kreating Charakters , I suddenly remembered those fateful days and decided to write a blog on the topic in the night .

I still wonder , what would have been fate of the world in general and India in particular , had the crisis been not diffused in 1962 ?

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Neil Armstrong : First Step on Moon ; Last Step on Earth


Flag of the United States on American astronau...

Flag of the United States on American astronaut Neil Armstrong’s space suit (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           AUGUST 31 , 2012           07.30 P.M.

It was July 20 , 1969 . I had passed intermediate from the Government Inter College , Allahabad and then took admission in the University of Allahabad in B. A.

In the morning , I woke up and as per my habit glanced at the newspapers . All the newspapers were full of the photos of Apollo 11 and the minutest details of  the Moon Mission . I saw the pictures of a man standing on the surface of the moon and unfurling American flag . This photo got etched in my memory box permanently . I came to know that this first man on the moon is called Neil Armstrong .

Apollo 11 Patch

Apollo 11 Patch (Photo credit: gregw66)

Apollo 11 was the spaceflight which landed first humans on the moon . Neil Armstrong became the first to land on the moon surface and Buzz Aldrin was the second . They stayed for the 2.30 hours on the moon . Third member of the  Moon Mission , Michael Collins remained in the lunar orbit . After 8 days of space mission all the three astronauts safely returned to earth .

Apollo 11 was the 5th manned mission in the Apollo programme of NASA .

The Apollo 11 crew portrait. Left to right are...

The Apollo 11 crew portrait. Left to right are Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was epoch-making historical event . Never ever we thought that one day in our lives we would be able to witness this kind of moment . A man on moon was an unimaginable and unthinkable event . Neil Armstrong was the first to land on the lunar surface , so naturally he became the hero of our generation .

Born as Neil Alden Armstrong on August 05 , 1930 in Ohio , U.S. , he was an US Navy officer and also served in the Korean War . In 1962 he joined NASA Astronaut Corp .

His first spaceflight was the NASA Gemini 8 mission in 1966, for which he was the command pilot, becoming one of the first U.S. civilians in space. On this mission, he performed the first manned docking of two spacecraft with pilot David Scott.

Armstrong’s second and last spaceflight was as mission commander of the Apollo 11 moon landing in July 1969.

Armstrong was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Richard Nixon along with Collins and Aldrin, the Congressional Space Medal of Honor by President Jimmy Carter in 1978, and the Congressional Gold Medal with his former crewmates in 2009.

Armstrong died in Cincinnati, Ohio, on August 25, 2012, at the age of 82 due to complications from blocked coronary arteries.

With his death a gigantic figure of my growing years is gone forever . It is sad , though inevitable . This ephemeral world is not a perennial abode of anyone . But fading away of my childhood icons one by one is heart – wrenching .

Farewell Mr. Armstrong !

May your last steps on this terra firma be the first step on some other unknown planet .

Rest In Peace gentleman !

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

www.vidur.co.in

www.vidurfilms.com

www.twitter.com/VidurChaturvedi

www.jaibhojpuri.com/profile/VidurChaturvedi

The Curious Case of Fareed Zakaria


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           AUGUST 18, 2012           11.45 P.M.

Last week there were surfeit of news items about Indian – American writer , columnist and TV show host Mr. Fareed Zakaria . I was intrigued and wanted to unearth the real fact . But before I could finish my blog , I just read in today’s papers that he has been exonerated of the charges of plagiarism and has been re – instated by ” Time “ magazine and CNN . I became more curious . If he was not guilty , then why this whole drama about plagiarism was blown out of proportion , which led to his subsequent suspension ? And if he was really guilty of plagiarism , they why has the suspension been revoked today ? In between , ” Washington Post “ , which few days ago fished in the troubled water and accused him of plagiarism , has apologised for wrongly accusing him of plagiarism . It was too much . So naturally Fareed Zakaria’s case became a curious case for me .

I used to admire his father a lot . His father Late Dr. Rafiq Zakaria , a minister in the Congress government of Maharashtra , was a scholar of Islamic history and a great writer of repute . He used to write regularly forThe Illustrated Weekly of India ” , a Times of India periodical being published from Mumbai [ then Bombay ] . I have several old copies of the said magazine in the library of my ancestral house at Deoria . Those copies of ” The Illustrated Weekly of India “ still remind me about the writings of Dr. Rafiq Zakaria . His mother Fatima Zakaria was also a writer and served as the editor of Sunday Times of India .

So curiosity about Fareed Rafiq Zakaria was immense . I refered to Wikipedia and came to know that he was born in Mumbai on January 20 , 1964 . He studied at Yale University and Harvard University in U.S.A. and later on started his immensely successful career in United States of America as a columnist , writer , TV show Anchor and political commentator .

Fareed Zakaria, Editor, Newsweek International...

Fareed Zakaria, Editor, Newsweek International , United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1992 he started his career as managing editor of ” Foreign Affairs “ magazine . Later on he moved toNewsweek International ” and wrote a weekly foreign affairs column for the said magazine [ from 2000 to 2010 ] and was its editor too . Later on he became Editor – at – large of ” Time “ [ from 2010 till Present ] .

Apart from these above mentioned reputed magazines , he also wrote for the ” New York Times ” , ” Wall Street Journal ” and ” New Yorker ” .

He also hosts a TV show ” Fareed Zakaria GPS “ on CNN since 2008 . Before that , he anchored shows as political analyst on ABC [ 2002 to 2007 ] and on PBS [ 2005 to 2008 ] .

English: Dmitry Medvedev is interviewed by Far...

Dmitry Medvedev is interviewed by Fareed Zakaria, CNN (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fareed Zakaria, Host,

Fareed Zakaria, Host, “Fareed Zakaria GPS;” Editor-at-Large, Time Magazine; Columnist; The Washington Post and Harold Ford Jr., Former U.S. Representative; NBC News Analyst (Photo credit: Detroit Regional Chamber)

He is also a very admired and sought after speaker at various world forums . He is considered an authority on America’s political situations and current world affairs .

English: Christopher Murray, Jens Stoltenberg,...

English: Christopher Murray, Jens Stoltenberg, Bill Gates, Gordon Brown, Olusegun Obasanjo, Fareed Zakaria and Giulio Tremonti during the World Economic Forum 2006. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fareed Zakaria speaks at Blumenthal

Fareed Zakaria speaks at Blumenthal (Photo credit: Willamor Media)

Fareed Zakaria , apart from his hugely acclaimed columns , has also written 3 books like ; ” From Wealth to Power : The Unusual Origins of America’s World Role ” [ 1998 ] , ” The Future of Freedom ” [ 2003 ] andThe Post American World ” [ 2008 ] .

Cover of

Cover of The Post-American World

Apart from various international and American awards , he has also been awarded Padma Bhushan by the government of India .

A person of this repute cannot easily be accused of plagiarism . But this month he was accused of plagiarism by Newsbusters and was subsequently suspended by ” Time “ and CNN . Newsbusters reported that Fareed Zakaria’s ” Time “ column on gun control [ August 20 , 2012 ] bears similarity to an article published in ” New Yorker “ and that he quoted from the article without giving credit to the original author , Mr. Jill Lepore .

After much hyped furore , Zakaria tendered unconditional apology on his twitter handle @FareedZakaria .

I apologize unreservedly. http://bit.ly/OcOxtA

And after a week – long investigation ” Time “ and CNN accepted his apology , cleared him and reinstated his column and TV show . A needless controversy ended .

RT @CNNPR CNN Statement on Fareed Zakaria http://bit.ly/NGsMPv  // RT @TIMEComms Update from TIME on Fareed Zakaria – http://on.fb.me/RkXhzz 

I started thinking about the controversy . Was it really plagiarism ? Or Mr. Fareed Zakaria swallowed more than he could chew ? I think the latter explanation is more appropriate .
These days multi – tasking is the order of the day . Mr. Zakaria writes weekly column , writes and hosts a weekly TV show , tweets on the micro – blogging sites like twitter , writes books and is a globe – trotting intellectual , who is much sought after speaker . Naturally he also has only 24 hours at his disposal like lesser mortals . It’s a norm in USA to have assistants , who help busy writers like him and suggest topics , links and source materials . Obviously Mr. Zakaria must have been given the paragraph of Mr. Jill Lepore and inadvertently he mentioned it without giving credit .
According to me he just made a mistake . It was just a lapse . And prudently Mr. Zakaria apologised without hesitation . And a needless and avoidable controversy ended .
[ Some facts of Mr. Fareed Zakaria’s life have been quoted from Wikipedia . I express gratitude .]

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

www.vidur.co.in

www.vidurfilms.com

www.twitter.com/VidurChaturvedi

www.jaibhojpuri.com/profile/VidurChaturvedi

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