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India Speaks

Issue No. 89
December 2016

By: Jatin Kumar
Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

BILATERAL ISSUES
a. EGYPT
1. Constitution day was celebrated at the Maulana Azad Centre, Cairo, 28 November 2016
Constitution day was celebrated at the Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture (MACIC) on 26 November 2016. The event was part of the celebrations of the 125th birth anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar and was attended by people from a wide cross section of fields and Indian citizens.

2. The event started with the screening of excerpts from Dr. Ambedkar’s speech in the Constituent Assembly. This was followed by a short skit titled ‘Making of the Indian Constitution’, enacted by Egyptians studying Hindi in MACIC. The skit was written by Anil Kumar, HoC and coordinated by Professor A. Majeed, Urdu teacher at Ain Shams University, Cairo and Golnaz Majeed, Hindi teacher at MACIC. The Embassy also conducted an online quiz on the Indian Constitution.

3. Dr. Amr Shobaki, Head of Arab European Unit in Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies and MP-elect delivered the keynote address pointing out the importance of the Indian democratic experience. He also mentioned about his experience as part of the drafting committee of the Egyptian constitution and the influence of Indian constitution. He also praised Indian democracy as an example for other developing countries in balancing rights and development.

4. Speaking to the media, Ambassador Sanjay Bhattacharyya described the significance of 26 November 1949 and the decision to celebrate 26 November as ‘Constitution day’. He also noted the evolving nature of Indian constitution adapting to the changing environment. The winner of the online quiz contest and the participants of the skit were awarded prizes and certificates.
Source: Embassy of India, Cairo

b. ISRAEL
2. State visit of President of Israel to India (14-21 November 2016), New Delhi, 9 November 2016
At the invitation of Rashtrapatiji Pranab Mukherjee, Reuven Rivlin, President of the State of Israel is paying a State Visit to India from 14 to 21 November, 2016. President Rivlin will be accompanied by his spouse Nechama Rivlin, apart from a high-level delegation comprising of officials, academicians, and business leaders from Israel.
During the visit, President of India will receive President Rivlin and host a Banquet in his honour. Vice President of India, Mohammad Hamid Ansari would call on him. Prime Minister Narendra Modi would hold bilateral discussions on 15 November 2016 with President Rivlin and host a lunch for him. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj would call on President Rivlin. President Rivlin is expected to meet business leaders of both of India and Israel during his visit. President Rivlin will also be visiting ‘Centre of Excellence’ in Agriculture in Karnal. He will also participate in Agro Tech – 2016 during the visit.

India and Israel enjoy excellent relations marked by strong ties in the areas of economy and commerce, Science and Technology, Research and Innovation, Culture and Tourism, Education etc.
Source: Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi

3. Media Statement by Prime Minister during the State visit of President of Israel to India, New Delhi, 15 November 2016
Your Excellency President Reuven Rivlin
And Friends from the Media,
I am honoured to welcome President Reuven Rivlin, and distinguished members of his delegation to India. President Rivlin is on his first ever visit to India. We are delighted to receive him on this special occasion. Excellency, your visit will provide crucial push to our efforts to build new pillars in our partnership. It will also carry forward the momentum generated by the first ever visit of President of India to Israel last year. Next year, both countries will be celebrating 25 years of the establishment of full diplomatic relations. As we approach this big milestone, we are both committed to advance our engagement on several fronts. And, build on convergences and commonalities in our interests and concerns on regional and global issues.

Friends,
Our engagement is multi-dimensional and wide-ranging. We are partnering in:
enhancing agricultural productivity and efficiency;
boosting research and innovation linkages;
employing applications of science and technology for the benefit of our societies;
Forging strong trade links and investment ties;
Building defence ties to secure our people; and
Enhancing people to people ties through greater cultural and tourism linkages.
Promoting educational exchanges. The growing number of Indian students, going to study in Israel and vice versa can be an important bridge in our bilateral partnership.

Friends,
Earlier today, in our discussions. President Rivlin and I agreed that there are several strong areas of ongoing cooperation between our countries. We are familiar with Israel’s advances in agriculture, and its expertise in micro-irrigation in drought-prone areas and water management. We have identified water management and conservation, and collaboration in scientific research and development as two areas of priority engagement. We both agreed that the current trajectory of the Indian economy opens up many promising opportunities for Israeli companies. Our economic initiatives and programmes, and emphasis on innovation, research and technological development match well with Israel’s strengths and capacities. Israeli companies can scale up their tie-ups with our flagship schemes of Make in India, Digital India, Skill India, and Smart Cities. I would encourage the private sector stakeholders on both sides to take lead in utilizing this perfect opportunity to build business ties of commerce and investment between our two countries in these areas. Indian and Israeli companies can also work together in high-technology manufacturing, and services sectors. Make in India and as President Rivlin told me in our discussion, Make with India can generate jobs and benefit both geographies. Our partnership can generate jobs and benefit both geographies. IT services is an area where our partnership can make a difference for both our economies.

Friends,
President Rivlin and I deeply value our strong and growing partnership to secure our societies. Our people are constantly threatened by forces of terrorism and extremism. We recognize that terrorism is a global challenge, knows no boundaries and has extensive links with other forms of organized crime. Regrettably, one of the countries of its origin and spread is in India’s neighbourhood. We agreed that the international community must act with resolve and determination against terror networks and States that harbour them. Failure to act and silence of speech only encourages the terrorists. We, agreed to intensify our cooperation to combat the forces of extremism and radicalization that threaten all peace-loving nations. We also prioritized practical and specific engagement such as in the cyber domain. We noted the strength of our growing defence partnership. And, agreed on the need to make it more broad-based through production and manufacturing partnerships. India is also grateful to Israel for its clear support to India’s permanent candidature in a reformed UN Security Council.

Friends,
As fellow democracies, our people are our biggest strength and the biggest beneficiaries of a strong India-Israel partnership. The 2000-year old Jewish community in India represents a thriving link to this past. Today, it is a vital part of our composite cultural mosaic that continues to thrive in their traditions. We are proud of the Jewish community in India. President and I agreed that promoting people-to-people contacts, which has a long shared history, is our shared priority.

Excellency,
Two and a half decades of our friendship has brought rich dividends for both our nations. It has also strengthened voices of peace, stability and democracy globally. Your visit provides an opportunity to break new ground and shape new contours of our partnership. With these words, I once again welcome President Rivlin on his first State visit to India, and wish him a productive and enjoyable stay in India.
Thank you.
Source: Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi

c. JORDAN
4. MoS for External Affairs, H.E.  M.J. Akbar visits Jordan, Amman, 8 November 2016
H.E.  M.J. Akbar, Minister of State for External Affairs, Government of India, visited Jordan from 09-10 November 2016. He had important bilateral meetings with H.E.  Nasser Judeh, the Deputy Prime Minister & Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates; H.E.  Lina Annab: Minister of Tourism and Antiquities; H.E. Dr. Yusuf Mansur, Hon’ble Minister of State for Economic Affairs and H.E.  Bisher Khasawneh: Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.   Akbar also called on H.E. Dr. Fayez Al-Tarawneh, Hon’ble Chief of the Royal Hashemite Court at the Royal Hashemite Court.  He also had a luncheon interaction with the Interior Minister of Jordan H.E.  Salameh Hammad.

During his meetings with the Jordanian dignitaries both sides discussed ways and means to enhance bilateral ties in diverse sectors with greater political engagement including enhancement of bilateral trade and commerce and expanding people-to-people contacts.  HE  M.J. Akbar also participated in a presentation organized by the Jordan Investment Commission to showcase investment opportunities in each other’s’ countries and in the roundtable organized by the Jordanian Businessmen Association which was also attended by HE Dr. Jawad Anani, Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs and Minister of State for Investment Affairs.

During his remarks at the JBA, Minister of State  M.J. Akbar explained in detail the avenues available for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in India in various sectors.  There was also a discussion on identified sectors for mutual cooperation. The Minister explained the transparent process created by the present government and the speed with which the business proposals are facilitated now.

Both sides agreed on the great dangers from terrorism, and praised His Majesty King Abdullah’s wisdom and leadership at a critical moment. PM Narendra Modi has said this is the gravest threat since World War 2. Both sides agreed that no cause justified terrorism and there must be international cooperation to fight this evil.  Akbar also interacted with the members of the Indian Community at a lunch hosted by the Indian Ambassador to Jordan.
Source: Embassy of India, Amman

d. OMAN
5. The Festival of India in Oman 2016, Muscat, 21 November 2016
Following the grand Opening Ceremony of the Festival of India with performance of the Hritaal Dance Troupe in Muscat, Sur, Salalah and Sohar, the Embassy of India, Muscat, is pleased to present, as part of the Festival of India in Oman 2016, a real treat for calligraphy enthusiasts, art lovers and historians alike: A unique Exhibition of Islamic Calligraphy from the collections of Rampur Raza Library, India. His Excellency Hassan bin Mohammed al Lawati, Adviser to the Minister of Heritage and Culture for Heritage of Oman will be inaugurating the Exhibition on 21st November 2016.

The Exhibition will be on display from 21 November to 3 December 2016 at Promenade Garden (level2) Oman Avenues Mall and can be viewed anytime during the opening hours of the Mall, is free and open to all.

Over 40 pieces of calligraphic artwork artistically inscribed with selected verses from the Holy Quran have been showcased at the exhibition. The Holy Quran has played a great role in the development and evolution of Arabic, and by extension, Arabic calligraphy.

Among the rare calligraphic manuscripts exhibited are:
• Folio from 7th century Quran in Kufic script attributed to Hazrat Ali (R.A.)
• Folio from 8th century Quran in Kufic script attributed to Imam Jafar Sadiq
• 16th century Quran decorated with gold on the orders of Mughal Emperor Akbar
• 12th-18th century manuscript folio written within gold floral jidwal
• A folio from 9th century Quran in Kufic script attributed to Imam Raza
• Name of Nawab Kalb-i-Ali Khan written in the shape of a flower pot in 18th century
• Persian verses & text written in Arabic Language in 1887. A.D
• Quranic verses written in beautiful style of calligraphy in 1888 A.D
• Persian couplet written in a beautiful style of calligraphy in 1878 A.D. by Ghulam Rasool
• 18th century calligraphy by Muhammad Hasan
• A verse from Quran about the direction of "Darood-e-Pak" by Dullah Khan Khushraqam Rampuri in 1936 AD.
• A beautiful calligraphy of "AyatuIKursi" of 18th century
• Persian rubai relating to the importance of calligraphy by Ilahi Bakhsh of 18th century
• A verse from Quran and "Kalma-i- Tauheed" by Dullah Khan Khushraqam Rampuri in 1936 A.D.
• Bismillah-al-rehman-nir-raheem" and "Darood-e-Pak" by Muhammad Hasan in 1869 A.D.
• Saying of Hazrat Ali (R.A.) relating to importance of calligraphy & writing by Aaqa Ali Qari in 18th century
• Five Ahadis & few Quranic verses in praise of Prophet Muhammad & Hazrat Ali (R.A.) by Syed Abdul Abbas Naqvi al Bukhari, etc.

The Rampur Raza Library is a treasure house of Indo Islamic learning and arts which was setup by the erstwhile Rampur State which was founded by Nawab Faizullah Khan in 1774, who ruled the State up to 1794 and formed the nucleus of the library through his inherited collection of valuable manuscripts, historical documents, Mughal miniature paintings, books and other works of art kept in the Nawabs Toshakhana. He also substantially added to the collection by his acquisition. Nawab Muhammad Yusuf Ali Khan 'Nazim' was a literary person and a famous poet of Urdu and a disciple of celebrated poet Mirza Ghalib. He created a separate department of the library and shifted the collection to the newly constructed rooms of Kothi Genralie. The Nawab also invited well known calligraphers, illuminators and binders from Kashmir and other parts of India. The later Nawabs continued to enrich the collection.

Nawab Kalbe Ali Khan (1865-87) was a distinguished scholar and very much interested in collection of rare manuscripts, paintings, and commissioned connoisseur scholars to obtain rare manuscripts, paintings and other art objects and thus enormously enriched the library collection.
Source: Embassy of India, Muscat

6. The first ‘Festival of India in Oman’ is launched, Muscat, 16 November 2016
H.E Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs of Oman, inaugurated the first ever ‘Festival of India in Oman’ in a ceremony organized by the Embassy of India in Muscat on 15 November at Al-Bustan Palace Amphitheatre. H.E. Abdulaziz bin Mohammed al-Rowas, Advisor to His Majesty for Cultural Affairs, was also present. Senior Officials of the Government of Oman, Ambassadors, members of Diplomatic Corps, prominent Omani businessmen, prominent Indians in Oman, persons from the field of art and culture and media persons were also present at the ceremony, attended by over 600 persons; the Amphitheatre was full to its capacity.

An Indian dance troupe Hritaal, enthralled the audience with mesmerizing performance of ‘Hridayabhavna’, a colourful dance collage reflecting the rich cultural heritage of India, directed and choreographed by its Director, Jaydeep Palit. The rich and diverse repertoire included dances from West Bengal to Rajasthan. Hritaal Troupe will perform today in Sur to be followed by performances in Sohar on 17 November and in Salalah on 19 November 2016.

The first ‘Festival of India in Oman’ is being organized during November 2016- March 2017 by the Embassy of India in Muscat with the support of Ministry of Culture, Government of India. The Festival comprises Indian Classical and Folk dances, Indian instrumental Music, an Exhibition of Indian calligraphy, an Indian Food Festival and a Fashion Show. The Festival is being organized with a view to present to the people of Oman glimpses of the diverse Indian Culture, representing various traditions of Indian cultural heritage. The cultural Events under the Festival are being held in Muscat and three other major cities of Oman i.e. Salalah, Sur and Sohar.

Delivering his welcome address, Indra Mani Pandey, Ambassador of India, thanked the Government and people of Oman for the support extended to the Embassy in its endeavours to strengthen the strategic partnership between India and Oman, including cultural exchanges. Ambassador mentioned that since people of Oman are already familiar with various facets of Indian culture, Ministry of Culture of India has decided to present those aspects of Indian culture which are lesser known to them to give a taste of diversity and richness of Indian culture.

The Embassy of India hopes that the Festival of India will contribute to a greater understanding of Indian culture in Oman, encourage people to learn more about contemporary India and visit India and strengthen the bonds of India-Oman friendship further.
Source: Embassy of India, Muscat

7. Embassy of India to celebrate India’s National Unity Day, Muscat, 3 November 2016
In a tribute to “Iron Man of India”, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, an extraordinary leader, freedom fighter and architect of the Indian national integration, the Government of India has launched week-long celebrations commemorating his 141st birth anniversary on October 31, which has been designated as India’s National Unity Day. Indian Missions and Posts as well as Indian Community across the world are celebrating the occasion recognizing Sardar Patel’s contribution to India’s freedom struggle and to the founding of independent and united India.

Embassy of India, Muscat is joining the celebrations with organizing a Seminar, Photo Exhibition and Video Screening covering the life and times of Sardar Patel. The celebration will be held on Monday, 07 November 2016 at 1900hrs, at the premises of the Embassy.

Further, Indian Schools in Muscat have also planned to organize events to educate the students about the life and times of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
Source: Embassy of India, Muscat

e. PALESTINE
8. Visit of H.E.  M.J. Akbar, Hon'ble Minister of State for External Affairs, Republic of India, Ramallah, 17 November 2016
H.E.  M.J. Akbar, Minister of State for External Affairs of India is scheduled to visit Palestine on 8-9 November 2016 to Co-Chair the 1st Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) between India and Palestine. The JCM will be Co-Chaired from the Palestinian side by H.E. Dr. Riad Malki, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Palestine.
The forthcoming JCM would cover a range of issues of mutual interest, inter alia, including Co-operation in the sectors of Energy, Tourism Agriculture, Water, Environment, Education, Health, Information Technology, Sports and Culture.

During the recent visit of H.E.  Sushma Swaraj, Hon'ble Minister of External Affairs of India to Palestine in January 2016, it was agreed to establish the Joint Commission Meeting (JCM).
Source: Representative office of India, Ramallah 

9. India Contributes US $ 1.25 million to UNRWA for the welfare of Palestinian refugees, Ramallah, 9 November 2016
1.   H.E.  M.J. Akbar, Hon'ble Minister of State for External Affairs of India handed over a cheque of US $ 1.25 million to senior officials of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)in Ramallah on November 8, 2016.Hon'ble Minister was on an official visit to Palestine from November 7-9, 2016 in connection with 1st Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) between India and Palestine. Government of India has enhanced its contribution from US $ 1 million to US $ 1.25 million for the year 2016-2017 to provide food and medicine for Palestinian refugees.

2.   Senior officials of UNRWA referred to the successful visit of  Pierre Krahenbuhl, Commissioner General (CG) of the UNRWA to India in September 2016 during which Krahenbuhlhad also called on Hon'ble Minister and senior officials of Government of India. While discussing issues related to the Palestinian refugees, Hon'ble Minister conveyed his deep appreciation for the commendable work being done by the UNRWA in the West Bank, Gaza and beyond and assured UNRWA team of India's steadfast support for UNRWA's activities in the region.
Source: Representative office of India, Ramallah

10. Official visit of H.E.  M. J. Akbar, Minister of State of External Affairs of India, Ramallah, 10 November 2016
1.   H.E.  M.J. Akbar, Minister of State for External Affairs paid an official visit to Palestine from November 07-09, 2016 in connection with the 1st Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) between India and Palestine. On November 08, 2016, Hon'ble Minister called on H.E.  Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine and also co-chaired the JCM, with H.E. Dr. Riad Malki, Foreign Minister of Palestine. The JCM explored possible cooperation in a wide range of sectors that included Information Technology, Security, Youth Affairs and Sports, Education, Health, Agriculture, Tourism and Culture.

2.   During this visit, Hon'ble Minister also met H.E.  Sabri Saidam, Minister of Education and Higher Education, H.E. Dr. Sa'eb Erakat, Secretary General of PLO, H.E. Dr. Nabeel Shaath, Head of International Relations Commission of Fatah Party, H.E. Eng. Majid Fityani, Governor of Jericho and H.E.  Kamil Hameed, Governor of Hebron.

3.   H.E. President and Hon'ble Minister jointly laid the foundation stone for the Palestine-India Techno Park project in Birzeit University, Ramallah on November 08, 2016.The project worth US $ 12 million would become the single biggest project supported by India in Palestine till date. On November 7th Hon'ble Minister addressed an audience of students and faculty at the Istiqlal University in Jericho. On November 9th Hon'ble Minister visited Ibrahimi Masjid in Hebron.
Source: Representative office of India, Ramallah 

11. Message from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, New Delhi, 29 November 2016
Message from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People 29 November 2016 On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, I reaffirm India's support for the cause of Palestine and solidarity with the Palestinian people for their struggle for a sovereign, independent, viable and a united State of Palestine living within secure and recognized borders, side-by-side and at peace with Israel, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

India will continue to support the development and nation-building efforts of Palestine by extending technical and financial assistance. India has been actively helping Palestine in its reconstruction process through various kinds of project assistance. India also contributes annually to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) fund. India has recently enhanced its contribution from US $ 1 million to US $ 1.25 million.

Five projects are being undertaken in Palestine from the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Fund. India reiterates its advocacy for a peaceful dialogue between Palestine and Israel and is hopeful for its early resumption. On this important Day marking solidarity with Palestine, our best wishes will remain with the people of the State of Palestine on their journey in achieving the objectives of a just cause.
Source: Permanent Mission of India to the United Nation, New York

f. QATAR
12. Official visit of Prime Minister of Qatar to India, New Delhi, 24 November 2016
Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of the State of Qatar, H.E. Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani is visiting India on 3 December 2016 at the invitation of Prime Minister  Narendra Modi. During the visit, the Qatari dignitary will hold discussions with Prime Minister on bilateral, regional and multilateral issues of common interest.

This is the first visit of H.E. Sheikh Abdullah to India and the third high-level bilateral engagement between the two countries in the past two years, which underlines India’s growing ties with Qatar. The visit of Qatari Emir HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to India in March 2015 was followed by visit of Prime Minister  Narendra Modi to Qatar in June 2016.

Our close and friendly relations with Qatar are based on mutually beneficial commercial exchanges and extensive people-to-people contacts. Qatar is not only an important trading partner for us in the Gulf region but is also the largest supplier of LNG to us, accounting for 66% of our total imports in 2015-16.

Indians form the largest expatriate community in Qatar and their positive contribution in the progress and development of their host country is well recognized. There are over 630,000 Indian national.
Source: Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi

g. SAUDI ARABIA
13. H.E.  Ahmad Javed, Ambassador of India to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia called on HRH Prince Mohammad bin Nasir bin Abdulaziz, Riyadh, 28 November 2016
H.E.  Ahmad Javed, Ambassador of India to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia called on HRH Prince Mohammad bin Nasir bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Jizan region today. During the meeting, they exchanged cordial talks on a number of Issues of bilateral interests, with special emphasis on further strengthening the trade and investment engagements between the two friendly countries. Ambassador Ahmad Javed also thanked The Governor for ensuring the welfare and safety of the large Indian community in the Region.
Source: Embassy of India, Riyadh

14. H. E.  Ahmad Javed, Ambassador of India to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia called on HRH Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Governor of Tabuk region , Riyadh, 23 November 2016
H. E.  Ahmad Javed, Ambassador of India to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia called on HRH Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Tabuk region on 22.11.2016.  During the meeting, they exchanged cordial talks on a number of issues of mutual interest, with special emphasis on further strengthening trade and investment interactions between the two friendly countries.  Ambassador Ahmad Javed also thanked HRH Prince Fahd bin Sultan for ensuring the welfare and security of a large number of Indian community in the region.

During the visit to Tabuk, Ambassador Ahmad Javed also met Prof. Abdallah Malkawi, Chancellor of Fahd bin Sultan University and exchanged views on collaboration with Indian universities and exchange of faculties.  Ambassador also visited the heritage sites in Tabuk such as the Tabuk Fort and the old Tabuk railway station on the Hijaz Railways connecting Damascus with Medina.
Source: Embassy of India, Riyadh

15. H.E.  Ahmad Javed, Ambassador of India to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia called on HRH Prince Mashal bin Majed bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Jeddah province, Riyadh,21 November 2016
H.E.  Ahmad Javed, Ambassador of India to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia called on HRH Prince Mashal bin Majed bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Jeddah province today in Jeddah. Issues of bilateral interests were discussed in the meeting with special emphasis on further strengthening the trade and investment engagements between the two friendly countries. Ambassador Ahmad Javed also thanked HRH Prince for ensuring the welfare of the large Indian community in the Region as well as the Comfort of Indian Hajj and Umrah pilgrims.
Source: Embassy of India, Riyadh

Note: 1 Crore = 10 million. Lakh = 100,000

For Lok Sabha and Press Information Bureau the items can be searched by Date and Ministries concerned.  

Compiled by Jatin Kumar

Jatin Kumar is a Doctoral candidate at the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Email

As part of the policy, the MEI@ND standardizes spellings and date format to make the text uniformly accessible and stylistically consistent. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views/positions of the MEI@ND. Editor, MEI@ND P R Kumaraswamy