Friday, August 27, 2010

Demarche issued as China refuses visa to army officer

Relations between India and China have hit a new low with New Delhi issuing a strong protest after Beijing refused visa to one of its top army commanders.

China denied entry to Lt Gen B.S. Jaswal, general officer commanding-in-chief of northern area command, saying he was responsible for Jammu and Kashmir, a state that Beijing considers as disputed.

Retaliating to the snub, India refused permission to two Chinese defence officials to do a course at the National Defence College. A subsequent visit by Indian military officials to China was also cancelled.
India has conveyed its anger over the denial of visa in strong terms. Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yang was summoned by the external affairs ministry and handed over four demarches. Yang met Gautam Bambawale, Joint Secretary in charge of China.

"The defence minister has taken a strong view. Talks on the issue will go on," said Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur.

Sources in the external affairs ministry told Headlines Today that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is concerned and has said the matter would be taken up with China.

Colonel Jaishankar, the defence attache in Beijing, too has lodged an official protest with the Chinese defence ministry.

Lt Gen Jaswal's visit to China had been agreed upon in January. The Indian defence establishment had started preparations for the visit in June.

Army says no to military interaction with China
The army has reacted strongly to the denial of visa. Army sources said there will be no military interactions with China until Beijing took corrective action.

The sources said the army is waiting for guidance from the government on whether protocol for border meetings will change now. The army has been told that its anger has been conveyed to the Chinese government.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bangladesh bans enforced Islamic dress code

A Bangladesh court has ruled that people cannot be forced to wear skull caps, veils or other religious clothing in workplaces, schools and colleges.

The ruling came after reports that a college in the north had forced students to wear veils.
The high court also ruled that women cannot be prevented from taking part in sports or cultural activities.

The court said that wearing any form of religious clothing, for students and employees, should be a personal choice.

It has also asked the authorities to explain why it should not be made illegal to prevent girls from taking part in sports and cultural activities.

In April this year, the court ordered schools and colleges not to force women to wear the burqa, a garment that covers the entire body except the eyes and hands.

Mahbub Shafique, one of the lawyers who filed the latest litigation, told the BBC how this ruling goes a step further.

"The difference between these two is that, this particular ruling today doesn't apply only on females it also applies to males as well.

"Because any kind of religious attire is imposed, that has been declared illegal to some extent."
The repeated interventions by the court show that these orders are likely to be ignored by most people living outside the capital Dhaka.

Though Bangladesh is a Muslim-majority nation, most people practise a moderate version of Islam.

In the long run, the country's politicians want the country to transform into a secular democracy rather than an Islamic republic.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Another view on Teen Undertaker

If you come to work in this industry, you'll either have left by lunchtime or you'll stay for the next 20 years. I started when I was nine, helping my dad move bodies, and launched my own business at 17. As a schoolkid, I used to cremate all the pets in the class: we had funerals for hamsters and goldfish.

Teen Undertaker, which was on Channel 4 on Friday, followed two youngsters, Laura and Paul, as they worked with dead bodies. The average funeral director isn't stern and doom-laden, but still we had Laura's mother saying she was too pretty and blonde to be a funeral director. Our youngest employee started at 24 and got the same comments.

I strongly related to Paul preparing his deceased uncle's body. When my mum died, I rushed to get there, but missed her dying. Consequently, I wanted to take her down to the mortuary, dress her and take over everything. Our embalmer actually embalmed his own mum, as well as Princess Diana. For him, it was the final act of respect and care.

We once had a guy whose family had put betting slips, lottery tickets and cigarettes in his coffin. They even put his mobile in there and someone rang it during the mass. It was hilarious. Another group stood around their friend's coffin drinking brandy and chucked a glass in for him.

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