• Special Report
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  • Review diktat on Sabarimala

    On Tuesday, the Supreme Court neither accepted nor rejected an appeal against its own order of September 28, declaring unlawful the ban on menstruating women in the age group of 10 to 50 years entering the revered Sabarimala temple in Kerala. However, a five-member bench, led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, agreed to hear the review petitions on January 22 next year. As the fate of the review petitions challenging the lifting of the ban on entry of women remains unclear, the Sabarimala temple is set to reopen for pilgrims from Saturday, November 17.

    Since the controversial September verdict, the iconic Lord Ayyappa shrine has opened for seven days on two separate occasions, both times causing law and order problems with some women activists trying to force their way while being resisted by a far bigger number of devotees. The Marxist Government of Chief Minister Pinaryi Vijayan was caught unprepared by the high tension drama that was enacted under the glare of global television news cameras. It was virtually a test of wills between the majesty of the temporal laws and the peoples’ faith in their respective gods and the different ways of worshipping them. The Sabarimala temple has a long tradition of prohibiting the entry of menstruating women to protect the celibate deity who lies in majesty in the inner sanctum sanctorum of the temple complex which is normally accessible through strenuous trek through leafy and secluded paths. It is an innate part of the faith in Lord Ayyappa that devotees themselves turn celibate for a month, shun non-vegetarian food and trek bare-chested to the temple to pay obeisance to Lord Ayyappa.

    In other words, strong traditions are associated with the practices and rituals at Sabarimalala temple. It is that which came under attack when a few activists challenged the ban in the apex court through a batch of PILs. The State Government of Kerala was hard put to take an unambiguous stand, especially when the management of the temple is under the direct control of government nominees. On September 28, a five-member bench, headed by the then Chief Justice Dipak Misra, held that the centuries-old custom was not an essential religious practice. “…the attribute of devotion to divinity cannot be subjected to the rigidity and stereotypes of gender…” The argument that the ban on menstruating women was due to the innate character of the deity which was in a state of eternal celibacy did not cut ice with the majority. However, the dissenting order by Justice Indu Malhotra upheld the ban, saying “the religious practice of restricting the entry of women between the ages of 10 and 50 years is in pursuance of an essential religious practice…and notions of rationality cannot be invoked in matters of religion by courts.”

    Here is the nub of the matter which the dissenting judge seems to have captured rather well. At one level, all religions are a matter of faith, individual faith, if you like. So long as a particular place of worship poses no threat to public order and peace, the State should maintain a hands-off approach. Even the state control of temple trusts was supposed to scrupulously avoid altering the way of worship, its rituals, practices, etc. Many religions, indeed many sects and sub-sects of various religious faiths, have their own peculiar ways of worship. The state in the name of gender or other civic rights cannot interfere, or at least avoid interfering as far as possible by enforcing change through the use of force. Let that change be voluntary, initiated by the devotees in view of the evolving scientific and technological changes in the society at large. Several religious places have sought to integrate technology to facilitate worship; others have opened doors to hitherto banned castes and communities. But the important thing is that in a majority of such cases change has come from within. The apex court should revisit its order and leave it to the good sense and maturity of the presiding priests of the Sabarimala temple to consider lifting the ban on menstruating women. But a forced entry of women in the age group of 10 and 50 years merely to make a point about the triumph of secularist faith over the so-called communal/religious elements will keep the agitation simmering and end up dividing the people between devotees and non-devotees of Lord Ayyappa, not a happy augury for law and order in Kerala and beyond.

    By FPJ


  • RRB Group D: Admits cards for November 19 exams likely to release today, here’s how to download

    Candidates appearing for the RRB Group D November 19 exams should get ready to download their admit cards as Railway Recruitment Board will release the admit cards today. Railway Recruitment Board (RRB) will release RRB Group D Admit cards for November 19 exam on their official website ‘www.indianrailways.gov.in’.

    Students should check the official website of RRB for updates. On the admit cards, candidates will get the date of exam, city and centre. The admit cards for November 16 exams were released on the official website of RRB earlier. As per reports, 1.9 crore candidates have applied for RRB Group D Recruitment 2018.

    The exams for filling up the posts have begun from September 17. The admit card has been released only for those candidates who applied properly for the exam. It is compulsory for candidates to carry their RRB Group D Admit Card on the day of the examination. Candidates should also carry a valid identity proof and passport size photo. Once the RRB group D admit cards for November 19 exams have been released, candidates can download it from official website of RRB. Below are the steps explaining how to download the admit cards.

    Steps to download RRB Group D admit cards 2018:

    Step 1: Visit the official website of RRB — ‘http://www.indianrailways.gov.in.’ Click on ‘recruitment’ tab on the top.

    Step 2: A list of various state websites of RRB will appear on a new page. Click on the state from where you are appearing for the exam.

    Step 3: Click on the admit card link.

    Step 4: Enter your registration number and date of birth.

    Step 5: Click login. Your admit card will appear on the page.

    Step 6: Your admit card will be displayed, download it and take a print out for further references.

    written by FPJ Web Desk 


  • PM Narendra Modi to attend ASEAN-India summit, EAS today

    Singapore: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to take part in the 16th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-India Breakfast Summit, followed by the 13th East Asia Summit in Singapore on Thursday.

    “The ASEAN meetings, they are annual meetings and they are very integral part of our diplomatic calendar. It is where India engages with the ASEAN countries essentially because we have a very active Act East Policy, we have continued engagements with our Eastern neighbours,” Vijay Thakur Singh, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Secretary (East) had said at a media briefing on November 12. The 13th East Asia Summit will be held in two segments on Thursday- the East Asia Lunch Retreat followed by the EAS in a plenary setting. Prime Minister Modi will emplane for India after the EAS’ conclusion.

    The EAS is a leaders-led forum in the Indo-Pacific region comprising all 10 ASEAN member states- Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam- and its eight dialogue partners, India, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Russia. This will be Prime Minister Modi’s fifth engagement with EAS since the summit’s inception in 2005. The leaders of the member nations are slated to discuss international development issues like ICT, Smart Cities, Maritime Cooperation, Education, Finance, Food Security, Environment and Energy at the EAS.

    The Prime Minister became the first head of government to deliver the keynote address at Singapore Fintech Festival on November 14, where he shared India’s financial inclusion story that has transformed governance and delivery of public services. He then launched the Application Programming Interface Exchange (APIX) with the Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore T. Shanmugaratnam. Prime Minister Modi also visited the India Pavilion at the Fintech festival, following which he met the Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong and exchanged views on cooperation in financial technology, enhanced connectivity, and regional economic integration.

    “Prosperity through partnership. PM @narendramodi had a warm meeting with @VP of United States Michael Pence in #Singapore. Productive discussion on all aspects of global strategic partnership based on growing convergence of interests on regional and global issues,” Raveesh Kumar, MEA’s Spokesperson had tweeted after Prime Minister Modi met with US Vice President Mike Pence. During a day full of diplomatic engagements, Prime Minister Modi further met with Scott Morrison, the Prime Minister of Australia and Prayut Chan-o-cha, the Prime Minister of Thailand in separate meetings to discuss areas in inter-country relations.

    Prime Minister Modi also attended the second Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Summit. “Shaping the agenda for regional cooperation. PM @narendramodi attended the 2nd #RCEP Summit in Singapore with 16 member states. PM reiterated that India was committed to an early conclusion of high quality comprehensive and balanced regional economic partnership agreement,” Kumar tweeted on Wednesday.

    Lastly, Prime Minister Modi attended the gala dinner hosted by Loong, before calling it a day in Singapore. India and ASEAN celebrated 25 years of their engagement in 2017, which culminated in the India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit on January 25th this year. The summit was followed by the participation of all ASEAN leaders in India’s Republic Day celebrations as chief guests.