Canadian First Nations launch a nationtonation online gaming and entertainment network

first_img Login/Register With: Twitter Advertisement The N2N platform is owned and managed by KanataPlay, licensed and regulated by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC). The KGC has been regulating online gaming from its infancy, uninterrupted since the late 1990’s.The mantra behind N2N and its partners, is to offer a fun, exciting and most importantly, a safe entertainment experience to its customers and to allow existing First Nations businesses to participate in a truly national First-Nations owned partnership. Kanata Play through N2N, offers a technology platform that allows local First Nations governments and also private First Nations companies to participate. Advertisement Advertisementcenter_img LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment “Ultimately, we want to provide support and facilitate growth on the Platform and help ensure that players get the best possible experience from the second they register with any network partners” stated Richard Johnson, N2N’s CEO. “We have our own technology, our own local support and are supporting a fun and safe experience for the platform’s valued customers across Canada. The network we’ve created will generate jobs and increase financial economic impact for participating First Nations” noted Johnson.“The software platform is built on 20+ years of technology and will provide its customers with social bingo. and classic 75-ball bingo. It also offers hundreds of other side games with daily, weekly and monthly prizes and promotions. Best of all, local support staff will be available to assist players.”N2N plans to announce additional partners shortly.For more information on Nation 2 Nation and IGST please visit: and OHSWEKEN, ON – Victory Gamez, Hello Bingo! and MonkeyDog Bingo are part of the Nation 2 Nation Network (N2N), a new online entertainment platform licenced by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission with servers located within the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake. N2N is supported by Indigenous Gaming Technologies, a technology company based out of Six Nations Ontario with over 60 years of combined experience in gaming, technology and security. Nation 2 Nation is a first of its kind and is Canada’s only network of online operators built, owned and managed by a sovereign First Nations partnership across the country. It promises to deliver on entertainment and fun with over 300 games to offer including bingo, slots, blackjack, video poker and more.  N2N will create local jobs and help to build economic growth opportunities inside participating First Nations. Facebooklast_img read more


first_img LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Login/Register With: Facebook Advertisement The message was signed by Peter, a member of Witchrot, who later directed fans to his other band, CRAZY BONES. “Thanks for the support, stay heavy,” he wrote.The post was also shared alongside a photo of a broken guitar in a snowy dumpster surrounded by beer cans, empty water bottles, and cardboard. (Are you really a rockstar without gloriously destroying at least one instrument?)But that wasn’t all: at the end of the cringe-worthy post, Peter slid in one final detail. “Also our drummer died…” he wrote.As of right now, it is not clear if the band’s drummer is actually dead and whether the group — who says they are all about “hex, drugs, and rock n’ roll” — has broken up.Though Witchrot has had a Facebook presence since the beginning of November, their Instagram and Twitter accounts were just created on Tuesday. Because of this, followers aren’t sure if this is one of the most savage band breakups of all time or simply one of the most clever musical publicity stunts.Regardless of the truth, the Internet has been going nuts over the brutally honest breakup for a band that many were not familiar with before the announcement.Not only has the post been shared on Facebook over 12,500 times, but it has also garnered over 14,000 reactions — which is pretty impressive considering their page only has 6,726 likes.“This is definitely one of the greatest band breakup announcements of all time, real or not. Also..I’m dead,” wrote one Facebook user.By Joelle Goldstein | People Advertisement They came, they rocked, they split up!On Sunday, Toronto metal band Witchrot posted an announcement to their Facebook page and gave fans an awkwardly blunt status update about the group. Advertisement Twitterlast_img read more


first_imgAdvertisement The OVO boss announced the release via Instagram on Thursday afternoon, confirming it would include stand-alone tracks that were never officially released. Care Package features fan-favorite songs like “5AM in Calabasas,” “Can I,” “Dreams Money Can Buy,” “Jodeci Freestyle” featuring J. Cole, and the Rick Ross-assisted “Free Spirit.” READ MORE Login/Register With: Twitter Advertisement LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment center_img Advertisement Image via OVO Facebook DRAKE RELEASES ‘CARE PACKAGE’ PROJECT BRINGING UNOFFICIALLY RELEASED TRACKS TO STREAMING SERVICESDrake is bringing a bunch of heat to streaming services this Friday (Aug. 2). The 6 God is blessing fans with a plethora of tunes that only lived on SoundCloud or YouTube and packaging them up as part of the Care Package compilation project.Drizzy made the announcement ahead of OVO Fest on Thursday (Aug. 1). “Available Friday on all platforms. Some of our most important moments together available in one place. Care Package,” he wrote to IG. READ MORESTREAM DRAKE’S ‘CARE PACKAGE’ COMPILATION PROJECT F/ J. COLE AND RICK ROSSAhead of the ninth annual OVO Fest in Toronto, Drake surprised his fans with a special delivery: a 17-track compilation project called Care Package.last_img read more

Man alleged to have stolen 25 million from Whitecap First Nation Casino

first_imgAPTN National NewsThe accountant who allegedly stole 2.5 million dollars from the casino on the Whitecap First Nation near Saskatoon has turned himself in.His lawyer says Hugo Gallegos is back to fight the charge and should not have been handcuffed after his court appearance.last_img

North of Normal and straight to Inuvik

first_imgAPTN National NewsThey say the North is a place where only the wildest survive.Well, in Inuvik, NWT, three aspiring comedians have come together to present their wildest ideas through sketches and by meeting real people in the North. They’re called North of Normal and they spoke to APTN National News from Inuvik.last_img

Minecraft summer camp in Iqaluit has kids lining up to get into

first_imgKent DriscollAPTN NewsSummer isn’t exactly the best time to find kids in a classroom.It would take something pretty special to get most kids in a  learning setting – especially when it’s nice outside.Except when the subject matter is Minecraft.That class had kids lining up

Liberals propose billions for affordable housing including individual benefits

first_imgOTTAWA – A Liberal government fond of promising help for those working hard to join the middle class unveiled billions in housing help Wednesday that could make a difference to hundreds of thousands of households — but only in a few years when federal money finally flows to new units and tenant benefits.The release of the national housing strategy on National Housing Day was designed to tout tens of billions in planned and expected spending over the next decade and solidify the federal government’s re-entry into the affordable housing sector.Included in the plan was a promise to introduce legislation to make housing a fundamental right, create a new, portable housing benefit for low-income households, and prioritize funding for the most vulnerable populations like women fleeing domestic violence.But the plan itself rests heavily on provinces and territories kicking in matching funds, without which federal dollars won’t flow.Even then, it won’t happen until April 2018 and not until 2021 in the case of the new housing benefit.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the reason much of the money won’t be spent until after the next election in 2019 is because the federal government needs to take the time to get the details right and satisfy myriad local, provincial and territorial needs.“We are looking at the realistic horizon that is going to not just put a Band-Aid on the problem, but create the kind of deep change and lasting impact that we know Canadians are going to need,” he said at an event in Toronto.“When we say the federal government is back for the long term, we mean it — and that starts with getting it right from the very beginning.”NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called the plan “timid” because of the delays in spending when the money is desperately needed now.And Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said the strategy does nothing for lowering the high cost of housing ownership in major urban centres, only making a passing reference to exploring further options.What the plan does is pull together almost $10 billion in planned spending, $11.2 billion in housing money outlined in this year’s budget, and $4.8 billion the Liberals promised to keep spending on funding to affordable housing providers. The rest is all from provinces, territories and the private sector to total about $40 billion over a decade.There are also strict strings attached.A new housing fund to create 60,000 new affordable housing units and allow repairs to 240,000 more, through grants and loans, will prioritize mixed-income developments and require about one-third of all those units to be offered at 80 per cent of median market rents for a 20-year period. (A mix of other funding is poised to create an additional 40,000 new affordable housing units.)The $4-billion portable housing benefit could eventually help 300,000 households by 2028 and provide on average $2,500 a year in help, but only if provinces and territories match $2 billion in federal money and ensure the extra money doesn’t cause a jump in private rents. Mitigating inflationary pressures account for why the documents speaks of targeting the money to those in community and social housing.The strategy also says the government plans to create a federal housing advocate and table legislation to enshrine housing as a human right, requiring regular reports to Parliament on federal efforts to ease the housing burden for hundreds of thousands of families.The details of that idea and others in the strategy still need to be worked out, prompting municipal and housing groups to lend cautiously enthusiastic support for the plan.Recently released census data found that 1.7 million households were in “core housing need” in 2016, meaning they spent more than one-third of their before-tax income on housing that may be substandard or does not meet their needs.The government hopes the strategy will lift 530,000 of those families out of that core housing need category, help 385,000 more avoid losing their homes and lift 50,000 out of homelessness.Wednesday’s news included precious little help for Indigenous communities, which is getting a separate plan that Trudeau said the government is still finalizing. Separate plans are in the works for First Nations, Inuit and Metis.last_img read more

Premier League TV growth halted as UK rights sold for 6bn

first_imgLONDON – The Premier League’s inflationary bubble burst Tuesday when the $6 billion sale of British television rights produced a drop in the value of matches.The past two domestic deals both produced 70 per cent jumps in the value of rights, fueling spiraling wages and transfer fees and cementing the competition’s status as the world’s richest league. But the auction of 2019-2022 rights left two of the seven packages still up for sale as Sky emerged the big winner and rival broadcaster BT saw its position weakened.The sale of 160 games has raised 4.464 billion pounds ($6.2 billion), compared with 5.14 billion pounds for 168 fixtures from 2016 to 2019. The league will be looking to the sale of overseas rights to provide an upsurge in revenue for its 20 teams, who split the foreign income equally.While remaining the biggest broadcaster of most games in Britain with four packages, Sky boasted how it was now paying 16 per cent less per fixture in its 3.579 billion pound, three-year deal to show 128 games per season. That equates to savings of almost 600 million pounds for the European pay TV giant while showing an additional two games a year from the league it helped to grow from its inception in 1992.But while Sky’s price per game drops from 11 million pounds to 9.3 million pounds, BT had to agree to pay 9.2 million pounds — up from 7.6 million pounds — for one package of 32 games. The broadcaster, which was launched in 2013 by Britain’s former telephone monopoly, has lost 10 games and will only screen games now on Saturday lunchtimes. BT said it “remained financially disciplined” while bidding.The Premier League increased the number of games available for live broadcasting in Britain to 200, with only overseas channels able to air all 380 fixtures a year live in a bid to maintain large attendances at stadiums.The Premier League said “multiple bidders” remain interested in the two remaining packages that allow broadcasters to show every game in four rounds of matches. It is the first time an entire schedule of fixture can be aired live domestically, and there is intrigue over whether digital companies like Amazon, Netflix or Facebook will use them as a chance to gain a foothold in the Premier League.“To have achieved this investment with two packages of live rights remaining to sell is an outcome that is testament to the excellent football competition delivered by the clubs,” Premier League chairman Richard Scudamore said. “It provides them with certainty and will underpin their continued efforts to put on the most compelling football, invest sustainably in all areas, and use their popularity and reach to have a positive impact on the sport and beyond.”The 2019-2022 Chinese rights have already been sold to online video streaming service PPTV for $700 million in the league’s biggest-ever global deal. In 2015, the American rights were sold through 2022 to NBC in a six-year deal worth $1 billion.The auction comes amid uncertainty at Sky with regulators in Britain assessing the attempt by Rupert Murdochs’s 21st Century Fox to buy the 61 per cent of the broadcaster it does not already own. The Walt Disney Co. has also bid $52.4 billion to take over the majority of Fox in a deal that Disney envisages leading to full ownership of Sky.___Rob Harris is at and read more

Minnesota judge tosses charges midtrial against 3 activists

first_imgMINNEAPOLIS – A Minnesota judge abruptly dismissed charges against three climate change activists during their trial on Tuesday, saying prosecutors failed to prove that the protesters’ attempt to shut down two Enbridge Energy oil pipelines caused any damage.Clearwater County District Judge Robert Tiffany threw the case out after prosecutors rested their case and before the protesters could use their defence: that the threat of climate change from using crude oil drilled from Canadian tar sands was so imminent that the activists’ actions were not only morally right, but necessary.The attorneys had long fought to use a “necessity defence” during the trial of the three Seattle-area residents, two of whom admitted turning the emergency shut-off valves on the northwest Minnesota pipelines in 2016 as part of a co-ordinated action in four states. Such a defence has been used by other activists protesting pipelines.Their attorney, Lauren Regan, acknowledged outside the courthouse in Bagley that she and her clients were surprised that the judge granted their motion to dismiss the case. The three defendants faced felony charges involving criminal damage to critical public service facilities. They could have faced up to a year in jail, according to prosecutors.“I’m very relieved the state of Minnesota acknowledged that we did no damage and intended to do no damage,” defendant Emily Johnston said. “I also admit that I am disappointed that we did not get to put on the trial that we hoped for.”Clearwater County Attorney Alan Rogalla declined to comment afterward.Climate change activists have increasingly turned to direct actions against oil and gas pipelines, with mixed legal success . Valve-turner cases in other states resulted in convictions that are under appeal. A Massachusetts judge in March cleared 13 gas pipeline protesters who used a necessity defence. While the cases generally have not set binding legal precedents, activists are hoping they help legitimize direct action as a tactic against climate change.In the Minnesota case, Johnston and Annette Klapstein readily acknowledged turning the emergency shut-off valves on two Enbridge Energy pipelines on Oct. 11, 2016, near Leonard, about 210 miles (338 kilometres) northwest of Minneapolis. A third defendant, Ben Joldersma, called in a warning to Enbridge. Charges were earlier dropped against a fourth defendant.They did it as part of a co-ordinated action by Climate Direct Action activists to shut down five Canadian tar sands crude pipelines in Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana and Washington state. A total of 11 activists were charged in the four states.Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge temporarily shut down the two pipelines as a precaution before any damage occurred. The company issued a statement Tuesday saying the protest was “reckless and dangerous.”“The individuals involved in these activities claimed to be protecting the environment, but they did the opposite and put the environment and the safety of people at risk — including themselves, first responders and neighbouring communities and landowners,” the company said.The defendants insisted there was never any danger.“We did everything in our power to make sure this was a safe action, and we did this to protect our children and all of your children from the devastating effects of climate change,” Klaptstein said at the activists’ news conference afterward.While the judge took the unusual step of allowing allowed the necessity defence in a ruling last October, he said the defendants had to clear a high legal bar to succeed. He said the defence applies “only in emergency situations where the peril is instant, overwhelming, and leaves no alternative but the conduct in question.”The valve turners had hoped to put climate change itself on trial by presenting expert witnesses who would have backed up their claims that climate change was making natural disasters worse, and that the threat of climate change from Canadian tar sands crude — which generates more climate-damaging carbon dioxide than other forms of oil — was so imminent that they had no legal alternatives. But they never got the chance.last_img read more

Ridehailing group says BC model looks a lot like expanded taxi industry

first_imgVANCOUVER — A coalition of businesses and interest groups advocating for ride-hailing in British Columbia says legislation introduced yesterday will just create an expanded taxi industry, not the ride-hailing services that customers expect.Ian Tostenson of Ridesharing Now for BC says members are “bewildered” that the future of ride-hailing in the province remains uncertain and the government hasn’t committed to a start date for the service.Tostenson, who also represents the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association, says the coalition is especially concerned that the Passenger Transportation Board would have power to limit the number of drivers on the road, where they can drive, and also set rates.He says the organization was expecting to see legislation that more closely matched the customer-driven supply and demand model that exists in other jurisdictions.Tim Burr of ride-hailing company Lyft says the company sees legislation introduced Monday as a “procedural step forward” but the regulation and rule-making process will come next.He says the company is used to rolling up its sleeves to work with legislators and regulators in many jurisdictions and remains committed to working with the B.C. government to bring the service to the province.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

Power outages experienced in Fort St John

first_imgFor information on power outages, you can visit B.C. Hydro’s website.Original story:FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – A major part of Fort St. John is experiencing power outages this afternoon.According to B.C. Hydro, it was reported that the power had gone out at 1:41 P.M.The cause of the power outages is believed to be a Substation fault.Areas affected include South of 115th AVE, North of 79th AVE, West of 78th ST, East of 108th ST. UPDATE – B.C. Hydro says power has been restored as of 2:46 p.m. on January 8, 2019.Bob Gammer, Northern Community Relations for B.C. Hydro, says an electrician is currently heading to the Fort St. John substation to investigate the cause of the outage.“The cause is unknown at this point, but an electrician is going to the Fort St. John substation to investigate.” It is estimated that 8957 customers are affected by the outage.We will continue to provide updates as they become available.For more information, you can visit B.C. Hydro’s website.last_img read more

EnbridgeLine 3 replacement likely wont be in service until second half of

first_imgBut Enbridge now says it is revising its construction schedule, following information provided by the State of Minnesota on Friday about its timeline for granting remaining environmental permits.Enbridge says the state indicates the permits should be available by November, and the company anticipates the remaining federal permits it needs will be finalized approximately 30 to 60 days later.The project will transport crude from Alberta to Wisconsin, where it will connect with pipelines to the U.S. Gulf Coast. It’s designed to replace an aging pipeline and restore its original capacity of 760,000 barrels per day, an increase of about 370,000 bpd.“We now have a firm schedule from the state on the timing of the remaining permits for our Line 3 Replacement project,” Enbridge CEO Al Monaco said in a statement.“We support a robust and transparent permitting process that includes opportunity for public input. We’ll continue to work closely with state officials during this process.”The company says more specific timing on the in-service date, as well as any potential impacts on its 2020 financial outlook, will be provided once the revised construction schedule is finalized. A lack of export pipeline space was blamed for steep discounts in western Canadian oil prices last year, leading to production curtailments by the Alberta government that began Jan. 1.Premier Rachel Notley said when she announced the cuts that they would last until Dec. 31, 2019 _ when Line 3 was expected to be up and running.Two other pipelines, the Trans Mountain expansion and the Keystone XL project, are both in limbo after being stalled by court decisions in Canada and the U.S.Last month, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced that his commerce department would petition the state Public Utility Commission to reconsider its approval of Line 3 through Minnesota, prolonging a process begun by his predecessor. CALGARY, A.B. – A pipeline that Alberta has been counting on to ease the bottleneck in moving its crude oil to foreign markets won’t be in service for at least another year, according to its owners.Enbridge Inc. says in a news release that the timeline for construction of the Line 3 replacement likely won’t see the pipeline operational until the second half of 2020.Just two weeks ago, the Calgary-based company expressed confidence that the project would be in service by the end of this year.center_img Previous challenges by the former governor were set aside by the commission.last_img read more

Food safety training program cancelled

first_imgFORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The food safety training program scheduled for, this Saturday, March 9, has been cancelled.The course was a food handling, sanitation, and work safety course designed for food service establishment operators and front line food service workers.For future events, be sure to follow the City of Fort St. John Recreation on Facebook. For more information, you can call 250-787-8178 or email

Fire Department saves a cat stuck on Hydro pole

first_imgTAYLOR, B.C. – Monday, April 15th a cat was discovered at the top of a Hydro pole unable to move as it was reportedly stuck for hours.BC Hydro and the Deputy Fire Chief were able to rescue the cat from its predicament and Councillor Dave Lueneberg took the rescued cat in for the night to ensure it was looked after. Ashley Wood’s son had accidentally let ‘Moxie’ out of the house. Although she had been looking for him for three days, she says “It never really crossed my mind to look up”Wood would then see the District of Taylor’s FB Post and said, “I knew he was my furbaby from the photo.”Moxie has been a part of the Woods family for 10 years. Wood says, “I’m very grateful to the person who found him and to BC Hydro and the Taylor Fire hall for rescuing him.”last_img read more

Towards an inclusive India

first_imgAmbedkar’s vision has revolutionised the socio-political atmosphere of modern India bringing a sea of change in the perception of democracy. Unlike the traditional thinkers, Ambedkar redefined ‘democracy not merely as a form of government but as a mode of associated living, and an attitude of respect and reverence towards fellowmen. To him, fraternity is the foundation and social endosmosis is the character of democracy. He was first to discover that social inequalities disallow economic freedom and mobility to a majority of Indian people and they are eternal; not just because they are endemic to caste system but because caste is the base of India’s economy sanctified by religion, unlike other societies in the world. Contrary to communists, Ambedkar viewed class as only the next door neighbour of caste. Also Read – A special kind of bondWith the Constitution, the beginning of a new India was heralded which was radically opposed to caste-ridden traditional society. Though discrimination on the grounds of caste was prohibited, soon it was realised that it alone was not good enough to uplift the excluded people of India. Affirmative action was approved as policy under Article 16 (4). The provision ‘for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens which, in the opinion of the State, is not adequately represented in the services under the State’ has a scope wide enough to accommodate all the socially deprived classes apart from Dalits and Tribes. And ‘Backward class’ as Ambedkar stated in the House, ‘is what the State says it is’. The job of identifying a backward class is entrusted to the Backward Class Commission constituted under Art. 340. It’s remarkable that the Constitution does not mention any caste in particular, barring the general reference to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes under Articles 341 and 342 to be notified by the President. However, the entitlement is only under the sole criteria of ‘Backward Class Citizen’ whether one is from SC, ST or OBC. Ironically and naturally, ‘caste’ became the only practical criteria for identification of backwardness. Also Read – Insider threat managementAmbedkar, a statesman, dreamt of India as a nation with liberty, equality, and fraternity, but found the caste system as a strong impediment on the path. He prophetically cautioned that ‘political power in India had long been the monopoly of a few, while the many are not only beasts of burden but also beasts of prey. But these downtrodden had now become impatient to govern themselves’. Urge for self-realisation in the downtrodden classes must not be allowed to devolve into a class struggle or class war. To avoid this, the establishment of equality and fraternity was necessary.” Such an appeal from an iconic leader of struggle for equality could never end up as a voice in the wilderness. Excluded classes, overlapping castes, soon realised that they did not receive their due share in the new democratic power structure, be it in the sphere of politics, professions or services; and what followed was a massive social awakening which has impacted the nature of politics in the country. ‘Social engineering’ has become a common phrase in Indian politics. India’s caste society couldn’t prove a fertile ground for ‘Class Struggle’ of Marxism while Gandhism, proved no more than a romanticised justification of caste society of India. Nehru’s socialism was a mixture of Gandhian ethics and Marxian economics. All the three shied away from questioning the basic roots of injustice – the caste system. Ambedkar fearlessly condemned not only the institution of caste but also the religion that sanctified such irrational undemocratic institutions. He believed in democratic socialism aimed at nation building by empowering and mainstreaming the millions of victims of caste society – an ideology unheard before in the traditional India of inequalities. He profoundly observed that ‘while reason may mitigate the conflict it can never obviate the necessity of such a conflict of interest’ between few dominant classes and the vast majority of dominated. He expounded that ‘what makes one interest dominant over another is power. That being so, power is needed to destroy power.’ Hence his emphasis on political empowerment of the weaker sections. Surprisingly and contrary to a fallacious conclusion of many, Ambedkar’s call was not restricted to or monopolised by Dalits, it crossed the divides and appealed to the majority of other ‘lower castes’ of Hindu social hierarchy – the backward classes in Mandal’s language, or for a sociologist, the occupational castes of Indian economy; shepherds, blacksmiths, washermen, barbers, weavers, potters, fishermen, and agricultural communities. History was made when Mandal Commission recommendations were translated into action by central legislation. Ambedkarism was seen paving way for an inclusive and enlightened India. Ambedkar, however, never could have possibly visualised that the logical culmination of the struggle for equality one day would be a constitutional arrangement of reservations up to fifty per cent in jobs and educational institutions. But far from sounding sinister, it is only a natural course of state action in order to compensate the historical injustice perpetrated against not only the Dalits, but also the majority of Shudras’s – the fourth ‘Varna’ of Manu’s Social hierarchy, and mainstream them. The political economy of India, which is still predominantly controlled by the institution of caste, long shut the doors on these excluded masses. Only the state sector could come to their rescue. Some states have provided reservations for minorities too. New demands for reservation are arising from various castes/classes across the country. The prospects are unknown though, the message is loud and clear; a challenge to the traditional power structure and a struggle for empowerment. Now Parliament has passed a bill on reservations in favour of the economically backward too, of course, the Savarns – the upper castes. Though eyebrows were raised, this should not, however, be viewed as anti-thesis of Ambedkar’s ideology, for his philosophy is secular in spirit and his vision inclusive in content. It is aimed at nation building wherein fraternity is the foundation. Leaving political and legal ramifications aside, wider affirmative action towards more inclusion is not unjustified. Or else one day in future, today’s ‘Sawarns’ may end up as depressed classes and agitate for reverse discrimination. Social inequalities are a threat to nationhood. Ambedkar emphatically said that ‘to leave inequality between class and class, between sex and sex, untouched and to go on passing legislation relating to economic problems is to make a farce of our Constitution and to build a palace on a dung heap’. Ambedkar’s vision has acquired greater relevance today since more than economic development, social equilibrium with inclusive progress is seen as essential for the survival of India as a nation. It is remarkable that all political parties, including the Rightists, now openly claim to adhere to Ambedkar’s ideology. This is Ambedkarism in its full bloom. The journey from Homo Hierarchicus to Homo Equalis has begun! (The author is a senior Bureaucrat of Chhattisgarh. The views expressed are strictly personal)last_img read more

Obnoxious middlemen

first_imgIt is an obnoxious sight – pandas waylaying for pilgrims to the Jagannath temple at Puri. Hordes of them barge into rail compartments even a couple of stations ahead, to solicit and importune, irking the very people, who give a pandit the exalted status of intermediary between them and God. Middlemen have become a part of our daily lives, not only in religion but in every activity; more so, in modern day India. The country needs to give serious thought to it since the actions of many are anti-national. Also Read – Hijacking Bapu’s legacyOur wise ancestors used several strategies for the well-being of society, and for maintaining peace and order. While pujas, rituals, festivals, etc., were some, to engage people with healthy preoccupations and for disciplining their daily lives, unquestioned faith in re-birth was another. The concepts of adversity of accumulation of sins, and incentive for good deeds, on rebirth, were used to dissuade people from committing crimes. Prayer, worship and pilgrimages were thus prescribed for everyone. Also Read – The future is here!Temples, mostly located on hill-tops in villages, were made the focal points. Incessantly chanting the name of God and contemplating Him, people on fast would trek all the way to the temple. After circumambulation, they enter the sanctum sanctorum gonging the bell, where, chanting mantras, the priest performs the ritual of a puja; lighting camphor, he offers aarti; people pray. Then, after receiving teerth and prasaad, and resting for a while, the devotees would trek back. For a discerning eye, it is evident that the entire ambulation is a physical exercise; the vibrations of gong of the bell shake the cobwebs in one’s mind; chanting and camphor light provide focus on the God’s image; the mineral water, basil leaves and camphor of the teerth serve as a dose of preventive medication; prasaad is a small quantity of food taken after an exercise. And finally, resting for a while rejuvenates after a physical exercise. The imprint of God’s image lingers on for long in their minds, at least till they visit the temple again after a week. Physical and medical needs of the body are thus taken care of, while peace is restored to the mind. Furthermore, since the temple is seen from every corner of the village, the fear of God acts as a deterrent to potential criminals. There is rationale, wisdom, and concern of our ancestors for the health of people, and to regulate society on the path of righteousness. Similarly, the intended purpose of teerth-yatra was not only physical and mental health but overall reformation, the inducements being Heaven and salvation from rebirth. Take, for example, the Seven Hills of Tirupati. Journeying by bullock carts or trekking, camping at different places on the way, cooking simple food, chanting the name of God, people would move on, forgetting the mundane irritants back at home. Once on the top of the hills, they would camp at each of the 108 teerthas – natural springs/waterfalls; bathe and drink that mineral water; absorb sunlight; all the time chanting the name of God, and visiting the temple as many times as possible. While their bodies get treated with the mineral water and sun, the mind gets purified with the chanting and visits to the temple, and nature’s beauty. Finally, healthy, happy and contented, they reach homes after months, transformed into generous and helpful individuals. The priests, who have an important role to play in these religious exercises, become indispensable to carry our culture forward. The village priest also helps in deciding auspicious times, drawing horoscopes, and in performing pujas as remedies for evil to provide solace and anticipation to the common man. Yet, it is their promotion and perpetuation of irrational rituals for selfish ends that move society in reverse gear, as is presently happening. Even in this modern day, people anoint Hanuman with oil, and offer a garland of vadas; and pour sacks of cereals and pulses in river Yamuna, etc., that only pollute the rivers. Oil, vadas, cereals, and pulses, etc., could be given to the needy for their best use. They even resort to pujas in absentia by making necessary payments, thus defeating their very purpose. In this commercial culture, people are made to believe that a momentary glimpse of God is sufficient to wipe out their sins and provide salvation. Travelling by modern means of transport to reach the destination of pilgrimage, mobiles switched off for a few moments, the ritual is completed and one is back to his worldly contacts, pleasures, engagements and worries. Pushing the very intentions of reformation, and providing of mental peace and physical health to a back seat, it only helps in filling the coffers of the temple and the pockets of the pundits with their self-acquired superiority. When Vedas were declared as infallible and not to be questioned, the underlying rationale was to regulate society. But, since all the chantings, which are eulogies of God, are in Sanskrit, a language alien to the common man, the priestly class assumed the role of intermediaries between people and God; as if the omniscient God knows no vernacular. Further, overawing people with the frills of religion – ochre robes, vibhuthi, tuft of hair, etc., they made them bow and touch their feet in obedience in order to assert their supremacy. This monopoly over rituals was converted into a profession and into a commercial activity. It was such business that Christ had fought against at the cost of his life; it was these rituals that Buddha and Nanak rebelled against. Prayer, worship, and chanting of mantras are for communion with God so as to imbibe His ideal attributes. Although we have meditation and yoga that serve as alternative ways, having become ritualistic, we adopt the easy way by outsourcing the priests and promoting their business. Our reverence to the man of religion is still so much that we continue to bow and touch his feet. Dr Raman Singh, as CM of Chattisgarh, touching the feet of Yogi Adityanath on a public platform is a classic example, although Yogi is just another CM; a man who gets people killed in false encounters, and is a man whose followers kill humans in the name of cow-vigilantism with his blessings. It is all because of their self-acquired exalted status. Thus, the nuisance of the pandas and pundits fleecing people, only speak about the degeneration of the intended sanctity of the rituals. Often, there are also instances of swindling temples’ wealth. Yet, we have made them indispensable middlemen. In fact, for every activity we have thriving middlemen, touts, commission agents, etc., often using unethical means in collusion with corrupt officials and leaders in the government. There are touts in transport, passport departments, police, education, hospitals, et al, and for that matter, in every government department, who help the officials in amassing wealth. They are there even in courts. The situation is graver in matters relating to contracts, purchases, and major works. NHAI engineer caught taking a bribe of over Rs 20 lakhs from a contractor, recently, is only a symptom of the murk that has set in. It is humanly not possible to count the instances. Modern-looking Rajiv Gandhi had blessed the middleman Ottavio Quattrocchi in the Rs 64 crore Bofors deal. It is with the blessings of the learned-brahmin PM, PV Narasimha Rao, that his son along with the middlemen colluded with the fly-by operator to swindle Rs 133 crores in the Urea Scam. Lalu Yadav, a man who started his life from a watchman’s garage to become the champion of the backward castes, and the CM of Bihar for years, and amassed wealth for generations, patronised middlemen in the Rs 945 crore Animal Husbandry Scam; and deprived the poor creatures of their fodder. CBI cases against Mulayam Singh Yadav, another champion of backward castes, for his illegal wealth are well known. Mayawati, the undisputed leader of Dalits and PM-aspirant and glamorous Jayalalithaa abused their authority to promote middlemen for having great lifestyles, richer than those of the richest. Augusta Helicopter deal and National Herald case also speak of the role of the middlemen in corrupt deals. So is the Aircel-Maxis case involving Rs 3500 crores. And, now we have the Rafale deal of Rs 35000 crores, snowballing into a big scam, that involves Anil Ambani and his middlemen along with those in PMO. The country is also aware of the Rs 50000 crore fraud of Mukesh Ambani in the Krishna-Godavari gas basin. We also have brokers like Harshad Mehta of stocks scam, middlemen of Radia Tapes of corporate corruption as standing examples of the obnoxious role of the breed of intermediaries. The list is too long and too scary. Now, these ‘fixers’ are all out to sabotage the independence of a pro-active Supreme Court also. Although the actions of some of the middlemen are obnoxious and a nuisance, they are innocuous and there is some service from them. Active endowments departments and appropriate regulatory mechanisms need to curb the negative aspects. However, danger looms large because of collusive corruption, which is anti-development and is thus anti-national. It is indeed internal aggression for the country. What can be done? The present machinery dealing with them being grossly inadequate, apart from the Lokpal and Lokayuktas already in place, it is imperative that new ministries are created at the Centre and States, exclusively to deal with matters of anti-corruption, vigilance and public grievances. It is also necessary to gauge their performance through a public perception index; and not by the usual statistics. (Dr. N Dilip Kumar is a retired IPS officer and a former member of Public Grievances Commission, Delhi. The views expressed are strictly personal)last_img read more

Property worth crores gutted in Vedic Village fire, none hurt

first_imgKolkata: A major fire broke out at the Vedic Village resort in Rajarhat on Monday night. A big portion of the resort was damaged due to impact of the inferno. It is said property worth crores reduced to ashes but no one was hurt in the incident.Twelve fire tenders doused the flames almost after battling for about eight hours. According to sources, Vedic Village resort authorities claimed that around 10 pm, on Monday, a lightning struck the cottages, which were made of hay. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaIn no time the fire started spreading fast because of the strong winds. At the first, the staff members of Vedic Village tried to control the fire by arranging water from their underground reservoir. But as the intensity of the fire was high, they were not able to control the inferno. Immediately, the fire brigade and the Rajarhat police station was informed. Soon, five fire tenders were pressed into action. Later, seven more fire tenders were called in as the intensity of the fire was increasing. It is alleged when the fire started media personnel, who went to cover the incident, and a few firefighters were not allowed to get into the resort. Later, the police intervened and resolved the matter. Question arises if the Vedic Village authorities had no flaw on their part, why the media and fire fighters were restricted. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayA source informed that the reception, godown and the office burnt into ashes as these structures were made of hay. Though the Vedic Village authorities claimed that the fire broke out due to lightning but the actual cause is yet not confirmed. It is suspected that fire had occurred due to a short circuit. Within an hour, the fire took a bad shape as it raged up to almost 25 feet. Guests in the cottages and the residents of various apartments within 100 metres got panic-stricken due to intensity of the fire. All the guests were evacuated and taken to a safe place. Later, fire minister Sujit Bose went to the spot and supervised the firefighting operation. According to Bose, it is not clear if any firefighting measures or license were in place at the resort. Around 3 am, on Tuesday, the fire was brought under control. Later, cooling process went on till early morning. Till Tuesday night no complaint was lodged by the Fire department. The cause of fire is yet to be ascertained.last_img read more

King Mohammed VI Launches Initiative to Preserve Heritage of Marrakech’s Old Medina

Marrakech – On Monday, in the city of Marrakech, King Mohammed VI announced the launch of several projects aimed at preserving the historical heritage of the old medina of Marrakech and reinforcing its tourist and international character.Thus was launched an important program of restoration and enhancement of the tourist and spiritual circuits of the ancient medina of Marrakech.  Also included in the program is the Merstan urban health center project, which involves the reconstruction of the first aid centers of the Moroccan Red Crescent in the Jamaâ El Fna and El Mellah districts. The restoration of the Ben Youssef Medersa will also be included in this program.In line with the objectives of the Development Plan titled “Marrakech, City of Permanent Renaissance,” these projects reflect the special interest granted by the Sovereign to the preservation and enhancement of the historical heritage of several cities in the Kingdom and His firm determination to safeguard different strata of the national memory. They also testify to the will of King Mohammed VI to highlight the intangible, spiritual, cultural and architectural characteristics of the city of Marrakech to help consolidate its place as the City-Museum which has made it the flagship tourist destination of Morocco.  It is also hoped that the initiative will result in a boost in the living conditions of its inhabitants.The program of restoration and enhancement will result in the restoration and enhancement of the tourist circuit from Dar El Bacha to Ben Youssef, especially through the renovation and embellishment of the facades of the buildings along this circuit.The 100million dh program also involves the spiritual circuit of the seven Saints (Sidi Youssef Ben AliCadi Ayyad Ben Moussa, Sidi Abdelaziz Tebbaâ, Abderrahmane Ben Abdallah Assouhaili, El Abbas Assabti, Sidi Ben Slimane Al Jazouli and Abdallah El Ghazouani)The old medina of Marrakech will witness the completion of several other projects aimed at improving the conditions of the population’s access to basic services and preserving the heritage of the ancient medina.Thanks to these efforts, the Ben Youssef Medersa, an architectural gem built in the heart of the old medina near the Ben Youssef Mosque, will be restored. This particular project, which will be carried out with a budget of 61million dh, testifies to the will of HM the King, Commander of the faithful, to preserve the cultural and historical significance of Morocco’s ancient cities.The King also visited the site of the renovation and conversion of former the Dar El Bacha into  the Museum of Confluences. The 12million dh project will be endowed with an exhibition space dedicated to the art of Islam which will exhibit writings, tablets and various objects related to science and Islamic knowledge.It will also include a permanent exhibition space reserved to the universal collection of Patty Cadby Birch, representing the four continents of America, Africa, Europe, Asia. The collection includes historical and archaeological data demonstrating the different facets of Moroccan culture.  There ill also be dedicated for housing temporary exhibitions.All of these projects come in addition to the many actions and initiatives undertaken by the Sovereign for the protection and promotion of the old medina of Marrakech, particularly the urban rehabilitation program of Hay El Mellah, the requalification project of the tourist circuit of “Ben Youssef” square towards “Jamaâ El Fna” Square through to “Ben Saleh” Square, and the rehabilitation of the Selhem, Ziyat and Sidi Abdelaziz Foundouks. read more

Ex-CEO of Microsoft Morocco Launches London Academy Casablanca

Rabat – Samir Benmakhlouf, the former CEO of the Moroccan subsidiary of Microsoft Corporate, has just launched the London Academy Casablanca.After leaving his position in Microsoft Morocco this early May, Benmakhlouf is conquering a new field, far from the world of connectivity and IT management: education.Based in Bouskoura, the kindergarten-primary school, whose registrations will start on May 8, 2017, will open its doors at the next school year. London Academy Casablanca offers bilingual education in Arabic and English, reinforced by the British program and the International Baccalaureate program. The school will also offer a hybrid pedagogy between experiential and e-learning, in addition to a partnership with the Arsenal Soccer School. In an interview with the economic daily L’economiste, Benmakhlouf expressed that he believes that education is the investment of the future.“During my 14 years at Microsoft, and more than eight years in entrepreneurship, I have always had this vision to innovate and transform the education system. This is based on international best practices and using technology so that the child is ready for the trades of the future and not those of the past,” the entrepreneur explained.According to the newspaper, London Academy Casablanca will be the only Moroccan school to offer an Arabic-English curriculum in Casablanca. Benmakhlouf’s ambitions outstrip the borders of the Moroccan economic capital. The entrepreneur aims to duplicate the school’s concept on several cities, and even on a continental scale in the longer term, reports L’economiste.“This school will be the example of the transformation of education,” Benmakhlouf disclosed to the newspaper.“The program will focus on the student and not the teacher. It will encourage the spirit of entrepreneurship and volunteerism,” he explained, stressing that the school “will expose children to coding at the primary level, in order to train future computer geniuses. We will also have recourse to gaming, robotics and mechanics.” read more

Trustee OKd for Atlantic City casino during ownership change

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — A veteran casino executive will oversee Atlantic City’s cash-strapped Ocean Resort Casino as its new owners seek a gambling license.The New Jersey Casino Control Commission appointed Eric Matejevich (MATT’-eh-vitch) on Wednesday as a trustee for the casino while New York hedge fund Luxor Capital seeks a casino license.Luxor is assuming ownership of the casino from Colorado developer Bruce Deifik and his family.Deifik bought the casino just over a year ago for $200 million.Luxor, which lent him money for the purchase, plans to inject an additional $70 million into the casino.The state requires the casino to maintain at least $36 million on hand at all times, but it has recently fallen below $20 million.Wayne Parry, The Associated Press read more