Inscribed in 2016 (11.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
The philosophy behind the ancient Indian practice of yoga has influenced various aspects of how society in India functions, whether it be in relation to areas such as health and medicine or education and the arts. Based on unifying the mind with the body and soul to allow for greater mental, spiritual and physical wellbeing, the values of yoga form a major part of the community’s ethos. Yoga consists of a series of poses, meditation, controlled breathing, word chanting and other techniques designed to help individuals build self-realization, ease any suffering they may be experiencing and allow for a state of liberation. It is practised by the young and old without discriminating against gender, class or religion and has also become popular in other parts of the world. Traditionally, yoga was transmitted using the Guru-Shishya model (master-pupil) with yoga gurus as the main custodians of associated knowledge and skills. Nowadays, yoga ashrams or hermitages provide enthusiasts with additional opportunities to learn about the traditional practice, as well as schools, universities, community centres and social media. Ancient manuscripts and scriptures are also used in the teaching and practice of yoga, and a vast range of modern literature on the subject available.
In Australia, we like ‘em blonde and bronzed. In India, it’s ‘fair and lovely’. What happens if you’re stuck in between?
John Green is an Anglo-Indian Australian actor who dreams of being cast in his favourite soap, ‘Bondi Parade’. The problem is, his coloured contacts can’t hide the fact that his skin is more brown than white. Meanwhile, his skin bleaching mum, Bronwyn, is adamant that he should be procreating with a blonde, white Aussie woman to rid the family of any sign of their ethnic heritage. You guess who he falls in love with.
This very funny play by actor (and Bollywood leading-man) Nicholas Brown and comedian Sam McCool tells a universal tale of identity, cultural assimilation and bleaching your bits.
LIGHTEN UP 30 November – 17 December 2016
SBW Stables Theatre
10 Nimrod Street, Kings Cross Tickets $30 – $38
I wish to share two stories involving India’s national airline, Air India. These are very positive stories. Since I believe in praising good deeds, I am writing about them here.
When we heard the sad, tragic and heart-breaking news of the brutal murder of Late Manmeet Sharma “Alisher” in Brisbane recently, everyone in the community was devastated. Manmeet was doing his job and there was no justification for what was done to him. His brother, Amit, and their family friend, Winnerjit Singh, travelled to Brisbane in the most difficult circumstances. They came to Australia to take the mortal remains of Late Manmeet. The sad news of this murder was in all newspapers not only of India, but also of the whole world. Air India chief, Ashwani Lohani, too read about this while travelling from Singapore to India. He felt moved. From Singapore itself, he contacted and asked Air India manager based in Sydney, Madhu Mathen, to offer free transportation of the mortal remains. This offer was conveyed to Indian High Commissioner in Australia, Navdeep Suri, who conveyed it to the family. I have direct information from people involved in this matter. Air India flew the mortal remains to India. I have no doubt that it is a real big gesture from Air India.
When Value World Travel went out of business in November 2015, quite a lot of people lost their air tickets with various airlines. Many were those who had booked tickets with Air India too. Often, such bookings were made many months in advance when airfares were very cheap. After Value World fiasco, people did not have any booking and were required to book again. The airfares had gone up by 2 to 2.5 times by then. While no other airline did anything to alleviate the difficulties these passengers were facing, Air India did something which was unexpected. It was definitely a kind gesture. It offered re-booked tickets at the SAME price at which the original tickets were booked months earlier. I am aware that this gesture from Air India was hugely appreciated by the victims. When I met Air India manager in Sydney on an unrelated occasion, and enquired about it, I was pleased to hear his response. He said, “Air India is India’s national airline and its HEART is Indian. We share the pain and distress of Indians whenever and wherever it happens and try to do what we can do to help them.”
I travel with Air India, which is my favourite airline. I have always found their services to be great. I have many positive experiences, which I will write about one day.
I received this email (below) yesterday from Western Union Australia, which might be helpful to some people who are travelling to India. Please contact Western Union for further clarifications, if necessary.
Dear Dr Yadu Singh,
It will be great if you can share this with all your followers on twitter and FB as we are trying to help our customers in best possible way during this time.
We have activated a large number of agents who should be able to payout in cash to customers. In fact a lot of post offices in India are well equipped to payout cash and have no shortage of funds. The customers can always be advised to try out any of the head post offices in the city if they are unable to get cash at other locations.
Customers have an option to receive the entire amount in his bank account, the agent in India can either issue an account payee cheque to the customer or transfer the funds electronically in receivers bank account. With ATM network significantly improving, customer once has the money is his bank account can withdraw it from an ATM.
Effective 19th Nov, we have also introduced a part payment feature by which the customer can receive some part of the payment in cash and balance through cheque. This will ensure that customers get some cash immediately for his urgent needs and balance amount can come to his bank account.
Please note that Western Union is the only remittance company that has a tie up with India Post.
Article from Times of India newspaper reproduced fully.
The government has formed an inter-ministerial committee to look into concerns expressed by NRIs, tourists from abroad and foreign missions over demonetisation, the ministry of external affairs said on Thursday.
TNN | Updated: Nov 18, 2016, 03.02 AM IST
Government has formed a panel to look into concerns of foreign tourists over demonetisation
Panel will look into concerns of NRIs holding Indian currency.
(A Russian tourist pose with a new Rs 2000 note in New Delhi. (AP photo)
NEW DELHI: The government has formed an inter-ministerial committee to look into concerns expressed by NRIs, tourists from abroad and foreign missions over demonetisation, the ministry of external affairs said on Thursday.
While foreign missions had sought MEA’s intervention to facilitate smooth collection of consular and visa fee and to allow them access to more funds, NRIs, money exchange associations, and foreign tourists abroad too have expressed concern about the difficulties being faced by them.
“The department of economic affairs has now formed an inter-ministerial committee headed at the level of an additional secretary. A senior joint secretary from the ministry of external affairs is also a member of that committee and we await their guidance, their advice and their recommendation which can then be shared with those various categories who have approached us,” said MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup.
“Some (foreign missions here) have wanted to know if they could collect consular and visa fees in old notes. If so collected, they have sought to know how will those be exchanged,” said Swarup.
The second set of issues, he said, was related to NRIs having cash, or those holding Indian currency abroad. “If somebody has money abroad, and is not travelling to India immediately, what happens? How does he get new notes for those old notes?”
Yes Government is too slow. Giving heart attack to NRI. Still time to clarify stand as holidays are approaching.
“The third set of issues is by the money changer associations abroad. This is quite interesting because we don’t have full convertibility…So, they have asked us the same question that what they would do with the stacks they have. How do they convert those?,” the spokesperson added.
According to the ministry, foreign visitors and tourists, particularly those coming for medical tourism, had asked MEA about some very specific requirements which needed to be looked into.
It was a pleasure to partake in pre-Chanukah celebration, a key event of Jewish community, hosted by NSW Government in NSW Parliament House on Wednesday, 16 November 2016
Chanukah is the eight-day long Jewish festival of Lights, celebrating the universal triumph of light over darkness, freedom over oppression and good over evil.
The program started with a formal welcome of guests by Gabrielle Upton MP, Attorney General of NSW which was followed by an invocation prayer by Rabbi Eli Cohen.
Rabbi Eli Cohen on the occasion greeted all the guests and said, “We are gathered today, to celebrate the upcoming festival of Chanukah, commemorating the victory of a small group of devoutly religious Jews against their Greek-Syrian oppressors 21 centuries ago”.
“Chanukah is a time when Jewish people around the world light the Menorah candelabra in the windows of our homes and in public spaces as a public display of our commitment to our faith and tradition.”
John Ajaka, Minister for Ageing, Minister for Disability Services, Minister for Multiculturalism welcomed all the guests and extended his best wishes to the Australian Jewish community for Chanukah.
Mike Baird, Premier of NSW also spoke on the occasion and extended his wishes to the community.
Leader of Opposition, Luke Foley was also present on the occasion and spoke about his experience of visiting Israel.
Lighting of the Menorah, is an important part of the celebration. Rabbi Eli Feldman, Rabbi Yossi Friedman, Rabbi Mendal Kastel, Rabbi Chaim Koncepolski, Rabbi Paul Lewin, Rabbi Cantor Yehosua Niasoff, Rabbi Dr Dovid Slavin and Rabbi Yoram Ulman graced the ceremony of lighting the Menorah.
As a part of the celebration, Chanukah song was performed by Levi Niasoff.
Jeremy Spinach, President NSW Jewish Board of Deputies presented the closing remarks.
Traditional light refreshment was served to all the guests.
Mr Modi’s “shock and awe” declaration meant that 1,000 and 500 rupee notes would no longer be valid.
These may be the largest denomination Indian notes but they are not high value by international standards – 1,000 rupees is only £12. But together the two notes represent 86% of the currency in circulation.
Think of that, at a stroke 86% of the cash in India now cannot be used.
What is more, India is overwhelmingly a cash economy, with 90% of all transactions taking place that way.
And that is the target of Mr Modi’s dramatic move. Because so much business is done in cash, very few people pay tax on the money they earn.
The size of this shadow economy is reckoned to be as much as 20% of India’s entire GDP.
Mr Modi’s demonetisation is designed to drive black money out of the shadows.
At the moment you can exchange up to 4,500 (£48) of the old rupees in cash for new 500 (£6) and 2,000 (£24) rupee notes.
There is no limit to the amount that can be deposited in bank accounts until the end of December, but the government has warned that the tax authorities will be investigating any deposits above 250,000 rupees (£2,962).
Breach that limit and you will be asked to prove that you have paid tax. If you cannot, you will be charged the full amount owed, plus a fine of 200% of the tax owed. For many people that could amount to be pretty much the full value of their hidden cash.
This is brave politics. Some of the hardest hit will be the small business people and traders who are Mr Modi’s core constituency. They voted for him because they believed he was the best bet to grow the economy and improve their lot. They will not be happy if he destroys their savings.
Mr Modi says he is simply delivering on his pre-election promise to tackle corruption and tax evasion.
And, so far at least, the policy seems to be popular, in spite of the long queues and the fact that much day-to-day business in India has ground to a juddering halt.
Most Indians resent the fact that many of the richest among them have used black money to evade paying their fair share of tax and are happy to suffer a few weeks of what Mr Modi called “temporary hardships” to see them face justice.
They also recognise the benefits of drawing more people into the income tax net.
India has very low rates of tax compared to many other countries. The tax-to-GDP ratio – how much tax is raised as a proportion of the output of the economy – was 17% in 2013.
The average across the economies of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development – a club of mostly rich nations – was over 34%.
Demonetisation is part of a wider project to draw Indians into the formal economy and to get them to start paying the tax they owe.
And reducing tax evasion can only be good for India. The more money it raises in tax, the more it has to spend on useful stuff like roads, hospitals and schools.
The more the country spends on public goods like that, the faster the Indian economy is likely to grow – or so the argument goes.
So the big question is: will it work?
Some economists have questioned the decision to introduce the 2,000 rupee note. They say if the policy is designed to force people into the banking system why issue a higher denomination note – presumably an even more convenient vehicle for black money transactions?
But the headlines about chaos and confusion are a bit misleading.
There have been virtually no reports of violence despite the huge disruption this policy has caused.
The queues are orderly and the worst you hear are the irritated mutterings of those whose days have been wasted standing in line.
But Mr Modi needs to be careful. The new notes are in short supply and there are not enough smaller denomination notes to go around, so the banks regularly run out of cash.
That cannot go on for long without irritation turning to anger.
But some queuing may be excusable, because in one regard the policy has already been a complete success: it came as a surprise to the entire country.
Think what that means. The government managed to plan this audacious policy, printing billions of new notes without anyone letting slip what was happening.
Reportedly, even senior members of the cabinet were not told what was being planned, for fear that if word got out the entire policy would be undermined. The hoarders would have time to empty their mattresses and launder their stashes into gold or other assets.
Keeping a secret of this magnitude in India, a country that thrives on rumour and gossip, is nothing short of a triumph and surely a reasonable justification for a few hiccups along the way.