Union Minister of Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution and Textiles, Piyush Goyal called upon the Spices Industry to double the sector exports to USD 10 Billion in the next five years.
“…we now aspire to meet our ambitious target for spices export – USD 10 bn not by 2030, but maybe even faster; can we aspire to reach it in the next five years? I think we can! Let us aspire to double our exports to $10 Bn in the next five years, by 2027 & then further double our exports (by) USD 10bn in the next five years,” said Shri Goyal, addressing the 35th anniversary function of the Spices Board, through video conference.
Goyal expressed satisfaction over the Spices exports having increased by 115% in volume and 84% in value (USD) between 2014-21, reaching a historic high of USD 4.2 bn in 2020-21. “Now, Indian spices & spices products are reaching over 180 destinations all over the world,” he said.
Quoting the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, Shri Goyalsaid, “During Covid, along with India’s medicines & vaccines, the world experienced the importance of our spices & Kadha.”
“Our grandmother’s home remedies like HaldiDoodh/Turmeric Latte & spices like Cinnamon, Tulsi (Basil leaves), etc. became a household staple in the world. In fact, India recorded a growth of 42% in turmeric exports last year,” Shri Goyal said.
“In these challenging pandemic times, the world took note of the age old and time-tested practices of Ayurveda that involves the use of spices in medicinal products, – AyushKwath, that combines the therapeutic powers of Cinnamon, Tulsi, Dry Ginger and Black Pepper and the Golden Milk which is made using turmeric and pepper etc, have become some of the most searched recipes for immunity boosting during the Covid pandemic,” he added.
Goyal said though India is a leader in Global Spice, the sector is facing challenges too.
“When it comes to export of spices in whole raw form, we do not currently enjoy cost advantage against many countries in Asia and Africa regions, which means we should focus on increasing the export of value added spices products. Also, we face challenges in preparing our production system and manufacturing systems to meet the stringent quality and food safety standards,” said Goyal.
“The aim is to sustain the competitive edge of the Indian spice industry with added thrust on high-end value addition and new product development so as to cater to the specific requirements of varied consumers around the globe, while committed to ensuring food safety, quality and sustainability,” he added.
Goyal said the Government is keen to increase export of spices from the country through resilient and efficient programmes and interventions.
“The Board has initiated collaborative efforts with various national and international agencies on various projects and initiatives— (1) with STDF of WTO and FAO for Strengthening spice value chain in India and improving Market access through capacity building and innovative interventions (2) with the Quality Council of India for INDGAP (Good Agricultural Practices) Certification; (3) with the spice industry and International agencies like IDH and GIZ, Germany on National Sustainable Spice Programme, & (4) The UNDP’s Accelerator Lab, India on “Development of Blockchain enabled traceability platform for Spices” etc.”
During the function Shri Goyal launched the innovative Weather-based crop insurance scheme, a joint initiative of the Spices Board and Agricultural Insurance Company of India for the benefit of Cardamom farmers. He also released the postal stamp to mark the Coral Jubilee of Spices Board. ShriGoyal said the Government has paved the way for the Spices sector to grow and expand India’s footprint as a Global Leader in Spices.
“Export Development & Promotion of Spices scheme supports exporters to adopt high-tech processing. The Board has enabled access to primary processing and value addition in spices, through the eight spices parks set up in the major production centres across India (Puttady in Kerala, Sivagangain TN, Guntur in AP, Chindhwara and Guna in MP, Kota and Jodhpur in Rajasthan) for the benefit of growers and entrepreneurs, thereby aiding in better price realization,” he said.
Goyal urged the Board to expand the reach of the quality testing laboratory network to all regions in India and adhere to the highest standards so as to make a name for quality and efficiency of service.
“The Board’s Quality Evaluation Laboratory network provides analytical services to exporters and other stakeholders across the major ports of India provide. Presently, state-of-the-art Labs are functioning under the Board from 8 locations (Kochi in Kerala, Guntur in Andhra Pradesh, Tuticorin and Chennai in TN, Mumbai in MH, Khandla in Gujarat, Narela near Delhi, and Kolkota in West Bengal),” he said.
Shri Goyal said India is proud to have provided leadership in developing global quality standards for spices.
“India pioneered the efforts which resulted in formation of the Codex Committee on Spices and Culinary Herbs (CCSCH) under the Codex Alimentarius Commission of the FAO & WHO in 2014. This committee has been chaired by India and the Spices Board serves as its Secretariat.
The CCSCH has successfully developed global quality standards for 8 spices—black/white/green pepper, cumin, thyme, garlic, cloves, oregano, basil and ginger.”
Goyal said the Spices Board has many digital programs to its credit like the cloud-based live e-auction facility for small cardamom to ensure transparency and Ease Of Doing Business.
“The Board has digitized most of its services and made them online. The Board has recently launched Spice Xchange India which is the First-of-its-kind online portal dedicated to spices trade, that uses Artificial Intelligence tools to enable B2B matchmaking between spice exporters and importers across the world. The portal facilitates ease of doing business as it provides a technology linked platform for connecting Indian exporters and global buyers and is a giant leap in strengthening export transactions of spices from India.”
Goyal said Spices are a part and parcel of Indian food and lifestyle.
“Spices are found in every aspect of our life starting from our morning ginger tea or cardamom tea, to cosmetic applications using turmeric to dental products using cloves & menthol.
In marriage customs across many parts of the country, turmeric paste is applied on the face of bride and groom, In a sense, spices are a part of each one of our lives, and has played a very, very important role in Indian culture, history, tradition and heritage. The story of India is the story of Spices,” he said.
Goyal said, since ages, India has been the Spice Bowl of the World, it is the world’s largest producer & consumer of spices. Saffron from Kashmir is world famous, besides Black Pepper from Kerala, Ginger from Gujarat and the Northeast’s Naga Chilli.
“Spices were the reason Vasco Da Gama ventured to find the Sea route to India and his success in 1498 when he landed in Kerala coast changed the world history forever. Indian spices are used in some of the most famous food items in the world like – Mexican sauces, currie items popular in UK, Kahwa(popular Arabic drink), etc” said Goyal.
“India is leading the world with its unique flavours & spices, – Kochi is often touted as Spice Capital of the world! Guntur is referred to as world’s biggest chilli market, J&K is home to the world’s most expensive spice (saffron), Delhi’s KhariBaoli is Asia’s largest spice market and the Northeast’s Naga chilli is one of the world’s hottest chillies,” he added.
Shri Goyal called upon the Spices industry to obtain GI tag for their distinct products.
“26 Indian spices have received GI like Coorg Green Cardamom, Mizo Ginger, Kanniyakumari Cloves etc., we should capture more such possibilities for traditional Indian produce,” he said.
Goyal said, New India’s vision should be spiced with Tadka, laced with spices! “Friends, food without spices is like life without colors!” he said.
Goyal said, over the years, India has maintained an apex position in the global spice sector, as the pioneer producer, consumer and exporter of spices and spice products as well as a global hub in processing and value addition of spices.
“The Spice Board, under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, has been making proactive interventions, and has worked with all sections of this industry, – different stakeholders, spice growers, exporters, trade promotion and regulatory bodies of importing countries, inter-governmental organizations etc to promote Indian spices,” he said. Paying tributes to the two gems of the spices sector, Mahashay Dharampal of MDH fame and Vadilal Shah of Everest Spices who passed away last year, Goyal said, “Indian spices are spreading the taste, color & aroma of India in the world be it MDH Masala or Lijjat papad or Everest, etc. have diversified world’s taste palate.”
Goyal laid out ‘4 Masalas’ before the Spices Industry to make the sector even more spicy:
• Indian spices to be Brand Ambassador of Quality:“Spices Board must expand the reach of Lab network toall regions in India to ensure highest quality standards.”
• Focus on packaging to promote Brand India: “‘Jo acchadikhta hai, wo aur bhi Bikta hai’. Packaging serves as a strong first impression. It will help increase the ‘Brand Equity’ of Indian spices.”
• Promote Spice Tourism: “Need to collaborate with State Governments to conduct tours, tasting festivals & exhibitions to create awareness about Indian spices in India & world.”
• Let’s create Unicorns in the Spices sector: “We have many millionaires (Gulati, Vadilal Shah family) in spices sector. Why can’t we take it to next level? Aim to make the spices sector the next unicorn generating sector, creating jobs in Tier II & III cities.” Goyal said, as India moves towards Amrit Kaal with a vision of India@2047, India’s spice sector will add the much-needed tadka to this New India’s vision. “We must collectively work to make the Spices sector the flagbearer of India’s export and the world should recognise Brand India with our delicious spices’ products,” he said.
Goyal quoted Michelin Star Indian chef Vikas Khanna, – “Indian spices not only reflect our evolution but India’s beliefs & traditions also.”
• “Aim to sustain the competitive edge of the Indian spice industry with added thrust on high-end value addition and new product development”: Piyush Goyal’s message to the Spices Board
• “During Covid, along with India’s medicines & vaccines, the world experienced the importance of our spices & Kadha”, said Goyal, quoting Prime Minister Narendra Modi
• New India’s vision should be spiced with Tadka, laced with spices!… Food without spices is like life without colors!: Piyush Goyal
• Goyal launches the innovative Weather-based crop insurance scheme for Cardamom farmers
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Election Commission declares 253 RUPPs as inactive, bars them from availing benefits of the Symbol Order, 1968
Additional 86 Non-existent RUPPs shall be deleted from the list and benefits under the Symbols Order (1968) withdrawnAction against these 339 (86+253) non-compliant. RUPPs takes the tally to 537 defaulting RUPPs since May 25, 2022
In continuation of the earlier action initiated on May 25, 2022 for enforcing due compliances by Registered Unrecognized Political Parties (RUPPs), the Election Commission of India led by Chief Election Commissioner, Shri Rajiv Kumar and Election Commissioner Shri Anup Chandra Pandey today further delisted 86 non-existent RUPPs and declared additional 253 as ‘Inactive RUPPs’. This action against 339 non-compliant RUPPs takes the tally to 537 defaulting RUPPs since May 25, 2022.
As per statutory requirements under section 29A of the RP Act, every political party has to communicate any change in its name, head office, office bearers, address, PAN to the Commission without delay. 86 RUPPs have been found to be non-existent either after a physical verification carried out by the respective Chief Electoral Officers of concerned States/UTs or based on report of undelivered letters/notices from Postal Authority sent to the registered address of concerned RUPP. It may be recalled that ECI had delisted 87 RUPPs and 111 RUPPs vide orders dated May 25, 2022 and June 20, 2022, thus totalling the number of delisted RUPPs to 284.
This decision against 253 non-compliant RUPPs has been taken based on reports received from Chief Electoral Officers of seven states namely Bihar, Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana & Uttar Pradesh. These 253 RUPPs have been declared inactive, as they have not responded to the letter/notice delivered to them and have not contested a single election either to the General Assembly of a State or the Parliament Election 2014 & 2019. These RUPPs have failed to comply with statutory requirements for more than 16 compliance steps since 2015 and are continuing to default.
It is also noted that of the above 253 parties, 66 RUPPs actually applied for a common symbol as per para 10B of the Symbol’s Order 1968 and did not contest the respective elections. It is pertinent to note that privilege of a common symbol is given to RUPP based upon an undertaking for putting up at least 5 percent of total candidates with regard to said legislative assembly election of a State. Possibility of such parties occupying the available pre-election political space by taking benefits of admissible entitlements without contesting elections cannot be ruled out.
Coastal clean-up campaign receives a huge response: Dr. Jitendra Singh
The 75-day long ongoing Coastal Clean Up Campaign is receiving a huge response from across the sections of society and besides others, Governors, Chief Ministers, Union Ministers, celebrities, film and sports personalities, civil society groups etc. are joining the campaign with overwhelming enthusiasm and pledging their support to the longest and largest beach cleaning campaign in the world titled “Swachh Sagar, Surakshit Sagar”, coordinated by Union Ministry of Earth Sciences with collaboration from all the other Union Ministries, departments as well as governments of the coastal States.
Addressing a press conference today, three days ahead of “International Coastal Clean-up Day” on 17th September, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology, Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh said, he will join the campaign at Juhu beach in Mumbai on 17th September and informed that Governor Maharashtra Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis, BJP MP Poonam Mahajan and several personalities as well as NGOs will also join at Juhu.
The Minister also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his support through social media. The PM has stressed on keeping India’s coasts clean as he praised efforts of volunteers to remove garbage from the Juhu beach in Mumbai. Responding to a video posted by Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh about the clean-up at the beach, Modi tweeted, “Commendable… I appreciate all those involved in this effort. India is blessed with a long and beautiful coastline and it is important we focus on keeping our coasts clean”. The Minister said, “A cleanathon was organised at Juhu Beach in Mumbai, saw participation in large numbers especially by youngsters and Civil Society.
Dr Jitendra Singh informed that Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan will take a lead in the clean-up campaign at world famous Puri beach, while Pratap Chandra Sarangi, former union minister will be at Chandipur. BJP MP from Hooghly, West Bengal Ms Locket Chatterjee will be at Digha on D-Day. R.K.Mission head will lead the campaign at Bakkhali in southern Bengal.
Chief Minister of Gujarat Bhupendrabhai Patel will be at Porbandar (Madhavpur), while Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Parshottam Khodabhai Rupala will join the clean-up operation at Jafrabad, Amreli.
Governor of Goa P. S. Sreedharan Pillai and Chief Minister Pramod Sawant will take part in beach cleaning campaign in South and North Goa beaches on 17th September.
Similarly, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan will be at Kochi, while MoS External Affairs V. Muraleedharan will be at Kovalam beach at Thiruvananthapuram.
Governor of Karnataka Thawar Chand Gehlot will join the campaign at Panambur beach in Mangalore, while the Governor of Telangana, Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan will lend her helping hand at Puducherry beach.
Governor of Mizoram Dr. K. Hari Babu will take part in Vizag beach while L. Murugan, Union MoS, Information and Broadcasting will join the event at Chennai
Dr Jitendra Singh informed that the campaign has entered the mode of whole of Government approach plus whole of nation participation.
Dr Jitendra Singh said, apart from active cooperation of Ministries of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Jal Shakti, Health and Family Welfare, Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, External Affairs, Information and Broadcasting, organisations and associations like National Service Scheme (NSS), Indian Coast Guard, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Seema Jagran Manch, SFD, Paryavaran Sanrakshan Gatividhi (PSG), along with other social organizations and educational institutions are participating in the clean-up campaign.
The MPs of coastal states have also pledged full support to the first-of-its-kind and longest running coastal clean-up campaign in the world and they also advised the Ministry of Earth Sciences to undertake a variety of activities by involving local NGOs.
DASHBOARD TO BE SET UP SOON TO SHARE THE BEST TECH PRACTICES AMONG THE CENTRE & THE STATES: UNION MINISTER JITENDRA SINGH
Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh today announced setting up of a Dashboard to share the best technology practices among the Centre and the States.
Presiding over the concluding session of the two-day “Centre-State Science Conclave” at Science City in Ahmedabad, Dr Jitendra Singh informed that a high level mechanism will be developed by the Department of Science and Technology to monitor and coordinate the follow up action of the conclave. The Minister also asked the States to appoint a Nodal officer in each of the States to coordinate and cooperate with the Special Committee for knowing and sharing the best practices.
Giving the example of heli-borne technology launched from Jodhpur, Rajasthan in October, 2021, Dr Jitendra Singh said, to start with, the States of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab and Haryana were taken up for this latest heli-borne survey.
The Minister pointed out that if the same technology is uploaded on Dashboard, other States may join and share this CSIR technology from source finding to water treatment and thus benefit millions of people across the country.
Dr Jitendra Singh said, it will also positively contribute to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Har Ghar Nal Se Jal” as well as “doubling farmer’s income” goals. He said, the latest state-of-the-art technology is being employed by Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) for mapping groundwater sources in arid regions and thus help utilise groundwater for drinking purposes.
The 2-day ‘Centre-State Science Conclave’ was formally inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Science City, Ahmedabad, yesterday. Dr Jitendra Singh expressed satisfaction that important plenary sessions with State S&T Ministers discussed in detail on issues like Agriculture, Innovation for producing portable drinking water including application of technologies like Desalination, Heli borne methods developed by DST, Clean Energy for All including S&T role in Hydrogen mission, Deep Sea Mission of MoES and its relevance for Coastal States/UT, Digital healthcare for All and Synergizing Science with National Education Policy.
A special session with the CEOs of over 100 Start-Ups and industry at the Centre-State Science Conclave’ in Ahmedabad came up with scientific solutions in the field of agriculture, drone, artificial intelligence, biotechnological solutions, single-use plastic alternates, irrigation and digital health amongst others.
Many of the State governments have shown keen interest in some of the technologies and agreed to partner with some of the startups for State-specific technological solutions.
Floods, economic crisis and political bickerings: A saga of Pakistan’s mismanagement & insensitivity
The worst floods in several decades have wreaked havoc in Pakistan, one of the most populous countries of South Asia. The floods have touched the country’s 220 million people’s lives directly or indirectly. More than 1,300 people have died with 81 out of 160 districts directly affected by the floods, leaving at least 33 million people homeless.
The heat waves followed by rains and glacial melting has been a global trend this year bringing out the stark reality that despite all talks and conventions, the world community has failed to contain and reverse climatic change. But Pakistan’s case is unique.
Beyond the human losses, the country’s economic managers have the most challenging task ahead as floods ravaged the country’s road and communication network, damaged an incalculable number of houses, and destroyed millions of hectares of crops.
Niaz Murtaza, a political economist, describes present crisis as “a triple whammy”, putting together economic, political and natural. “The poor had been suffering the first two months because of inflation, job loss and political paralysis. Now the floods have pushed millions into ruin,” he said.
Despite this, the political masters are not only busy in bickering and allegations against each other, but have also triggered a blame game on social media as usual, pointing fingers on India for the flood havoc. The bombardment of propaganda, nevertheless, cannot change the reality that Pakistan government and its institutions have utterly failed in fulfilling their duties towards its citizens.
Ludicrous as it is, it cannot absolve the leadership of Pakistan that has failed people in terms of economic mismanagement, entrenched corruption and naked cronyism in the system. Added to these are the wrong policies and priorities of Islamabad which have been instrumental in bringing economic crisis and political instability. The floods have only abetted it.
The natural disaster has struck Pakistan while economy is passing through the difficult phase of multiple challenges including Balance of Payment (BoP) crisis, heavy debt burden and solvency-related issues. The protracted economic crisis is likely to deepen further despite conclusion of talks with the IMF for release of Extended Fund Facility credit.
While Finance Minister Miftah Ismail estimates that the country has incurred a total loss of “at least $10 billion”, independent analysts, including Uzar Younus, Director of the Pakistan Initiative at the Atlantic Council’s South Asia centre and economist Ammar Habib Khan, put the figure between $15-20 billion, and expect it to rise further as information is coming with a great lag.
Existing infrastructure is collapsing with the flooding submerging one-third of the country, pushing 37 per cent of population into poverty. Pakistan is literally and figuratively under deep water, writes Nasir Jamal. It may take a few more months before the damages can be assessed. Even before the flooding, 60 per cent of the population was suffering from hunger, malnutrition and related diseases and the figures are bound to shoot up now.
In view of the mammoth loss, the IMF’s $1.2 billion credit now seems to be a peanut. Pakistan was earlier wounded and now it is bleeding. Floods will exacerbate the economic crisis that had shown initial signs of abating with the IMF deal. Twin deficits, growth prospects and inflationary expectations will be worsening, inflicting misery on the poor. Despite increasing gravity of the situation, saving people’s life and livelihood have not still become the priorities among the political class who are revealing in an ugly slugfest.
The real cost of the natural calamity is being borne by millions of poor kids, pregnant women, elderly and sick persons crowded under the open sky or tents, prone to hunger, diseases and insecurity as they wait for aid. It will be weeks before many can even return to their villages as the land drains and dries. It will take months, even years, to recover from the loss of housing, animals, crops and cultivable land.
Covid-19 had only disrupted economic exchange without damaging the economic base. But the flood has destroyed crops, land, animals, bridges, etc. negatively impacting deeper on the poor and the economy. And the insensitive political class in Pakistan is still deeply engrossed in political maneuver and cunning tricks against each other rather than presenting a united face at the time of calamity. That is the character of Pakistan’s politics.
In view of the contribution of agriculture to the extent of one fourth of the GDP, the country would have to face major revenue loss due to crop losses. As per the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s August 29 report, almost 80 per cent of crops in Sindh, which produces roughly 30% of Pakistan’s cotton output, were destroyed.
Close to 70 per cent of Pakistan’s textile industry, an important source of employment and foreign exchange, uses the cotton produced in the country. Floods are likely to cause severe shortage of cotton, said Abdul Rahim Nasir, Chairman of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association. He added that instead of earlier average import of cotton estimated at about 4 million bales, Pakistan would now need to import just the double of that figure, at a potential cost of $3 billion.
Shahrukh Wani, an Oxford economist, says the flood will make it terribly difficult for the government to reduce the trade deficit because while the country will need to import food to “compensate” for lost crops, the textile sector will find itself struggling due to “potential shortage” of cotton crop.
The biting inflation which rose to 25% in the month of July from a year earlier, the highest since May 1975, is taking its own toll on the living conditions of masses. The flooding would further push up the inflation and accentuate the scarcity of even essentials.
Amreen Soorani, Head of Research at JS Global Capital Ltd, said that “the main concern from the floods is the impact on inflation”. Even the IMF warned that the runaway inflation could trigger protests and instability.
Islamabad secured funds from the IMF for immediate bailout of the economy from the saturating forex crisis. However, the problems would be far from over for Islamabad. As the advanced countries are focused more on the impact of Ukraine-Russia war and trying to cope with recessionary pressures while some of the development partners including Middle Eastern countries and China are down with donor fatigue, Islamabad has scant probability to get any major international relief.
For now, the immediate challenge that government will face is to fulfil the conditions of raising taxes and applying austerity measures as part of its agreement with the IMF for its bailout package. This might turn out a politically unpopular move and could flare up the political bickering. The condition is rife for mass protests in view of increasing cost of living for many months now, which opposition could take advantage of. Anger is rising across Pakistan over the slow pace of government relief efforts.
The catastrophic floods have put a downward pressure on growth prospectus. Initial estimates suggest that the economic growth rate may slow down to just 2 per cent. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has said that the recent floods caused more damage than the 2010 calamity wherein the economic losses had been estimated at $9.7 billion. The floods have already caused supply chain-related issues.
Even during natural calamity, politicians are concerned about their political agenda rather than allowing international aid agencies to import essential food items from the neighbouring country. Cases after cases of corruption are cropping up, “you reveal mine, I will reveal yours”, an unending slugfest continues.
Instead of fighting the fallout of the devastating natural calamity united, they are engrossed in manoeuvre and cunning tricks and a regressive thought process whether or not to allow aid flow from India. Some of the government top officials have suggested importing essential commodities such as food and medicine from India, while others are still the victim of the old rigidities and anti-India mindset.
India is an undoable reality of being the most potent vehicle of South Asia’s growth vision as it is a responsible regional power and the fastest growing economy of the world, which offers a big market for exports and sourcing imports. Islamabad needs to understand that cooperation with neighbours does not reduce the stature of a calamity hit country.
Separated in 1947, Sikh brother meets sister reunite
The Kartarpur Corridor has once again reunited another family after a man who separated from his parents when he was only a few months old in 1947, finally met his sister in Pakistan.
Amarjit Singh was left out in India along with his sister while his Muslim parents came to Pakistan. All eyes went teary as they saw the emotional scenes of the brother-sister reunion in Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, Geo News reported.
Amarjit Singh arrived in Pakistan via the Wagah border with a visa to meet his Muslim sister and to remain as her guest.
His sister, 65-year-old Kulsoom Akhtar, could not control her emotions after seeing Amarjit.
Both hugged each other and kept crying. She had travelled from her hometown in Faisalabad along with her son Shahzad Ahmed and other family members to meet her brother.
Kulsoom said that her parents came to Pakistan from the suburbs of the Jalandhar region of India in 1947, leaving behind her younger brother and a sister, Express Tribune reported.
Kulsoom said she was born in Pakistan and used to hear about her lost brother and a sister from her mother. She said that her mother used to cry every time whenever she remembered her missing children. Kulsoom said that she did not expect that she would ever be able to meet her brother and sister. However, a few years ago, a friend of her father Sardar Dara Singh came to Pakistan from India.
Kulsoom’s mother told Singh about her son and daughter she left behind in India. She also told him the name of their village and the location of their house in the neighbouring country.
Amarjit then visited her house in Padawan village of Jalandhar and informed her that her son was alive but her daughter was dead. Her son was named Amarjit Singh who was adopted by a Sikh family back then in 1947, The Express Tribune reported.
After getting the brother’s information, Amarjit and Kulsoom Akhtar contacted on WhatsApp and using the Kartarpur Corridor and the meeting between the two siblings became a reality.
Now an elderly man, Sardar Amarjit Singh came to Gurdwara Sahib in a wheelchair. Kulsoom Akhtar also could not travel due to back pain, but she showed courage and reached Kartarpur from Faisalabad along with her son. Both the siblings kept crying while embracing each other and remembering their parents.
Amarjit said that when he first learned that his real parents were in Pakistan and were Muslims, it was a shock to him. However, he comforted his heart that many families were separated from each other in addition to his own family.
Many Muslim children became Sikhs and many Sikh children became Muslims, Express Tribune reported.
He said that he always wanted to meet his real sister and brothers. He said that he is happy to know that three of his brothers are alive. However, one brother who was in Germany has passed away.
He said he will now come to Pakistan via the Wagah border with a visa and spend time with his family. He also said that he will take his family to India as well so that they could meet their Sikh family. Both the siblings had brought many gifts for each other.
Shahzad Ahmad, son of Kulsoom, said that he used to hear about his uncle from his grandmother and mother. He said that all of the siblings were very young at the time of Partition and no name was given to Amarjit or perhaps, after so many years, the name had slipped out of mind.
“I understand that since my uncle was brought up by a Sikh family, he happens to be a Sikh, and my family and I have no problem with this,” he added.
Shahzad said that he is happy that even after 75 years his mother has found her lost brother.
22 officers of different cadres to serve in J&K
The Centre has relaxed Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) deputation rules to encourage IAS and other all-India service officers as well as those of the Central Services get posted in Jammu & Kashmir, in a bid to address the shortage of officers in the Union Territory.
Union Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh said that due to relaxation of DoPT rules, 22 officers belonging to various services and different cadres have been posted in Jammu & Kashmir at various levels at a crucial time.
He said that DoPT has played a major role in facilitating induction of Jammu & Kashmir Administrative Services officers into the IAS by coordinating with UT administration, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the UPSC.
As a result, recently 16 officers from JKAS have been inducted into IAS and another 8 such vacancies will be filled up shortly giving opportunities to the JKAS officers to become part of prestigious IAS service after a long gap of 12 years.
The Minister added that mid-career training of JKAS officers of various seniority was carried out in collaboration with the LBSNAA and this has provided a new level of exposure to the JKAS Officers and more than 200 offices. Some other initiatives by the Ministry include special concessions or incentives to the Central government employees working in the Kashmir Valley in attached and subordinate offices or PSUs falling under control of the Central government.
They have been extended special concessions for a period of 3 years with effect from August 1, 2021 and the incentives include an additional house rent allowance, composite transfer grant, per diem allowance, incentive for period of temporary duty, messing allowance, and facility to draw pension at place of settlement in relaxation of relevant provisions.
Besides, facilities for retention of general pool accommodation available to officers who have served in the Central government has also been extended to officers posted in Jammu & Kashmir on the pattern of northeastern states.
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