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Miranda, Hazarika Among Padma Honourees

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New Delhi: India’s highest civilian awards, the Padma awards, would be conferred on 110 eminent people, including the late Bhupen Hazarika and cartoonist Mario Miranda, showbiz star Dharmendra and cardiologist Devi Prasad Shetty, it was announced here Wednesday. This year too, nobody has been listed for the Bharat Ratna honour.
In the list are those who have contributed in an entire gamut of fields, from cinema and civil service to science and social work. 
While five people have been listed for Padma Vibhushan, 27 will get the Padma Bhushan and 77 the Padma Shri. Among the awardees are 19 women such as actor Shabana Azmi, director Mira Nair and activist Uma Tuli. 
Eight people of Indian origin and two foreigners are in the list, traditionally announced the day before Republic Day and conferred by the president in March or April.
President Pratibha Patil gave the nod for five people to get the Padma Vibhushan for “exceptional and distinguished service”. 
Mario Miranda and Bhupen Hazarika found posthumous mention. The others are sculptor K.G. Subramanyan, orthopaedist Kantilal Hastimal Sancheti and civil servant T.V. Rajeswar.
Prominent showbiz names like Dharmendra, Shabana Azmi and Mira Nair as well as artist Jatin Das will get the Padma Bhushan for “distinguished service of high order”. Former ambassador to the US Ronen Sen and Devi Prasad Shetty also figure in the list.
Amongst the eminent NRIs getting the Padma Bhushan are sculptor Anish Kapoor (Britain) and judge P.C. Rao (Germany). The list also includes four people in the literature and education category — Vidya Dehejia, Arvind Panagariya and Jose Pereira from the US and Homi K. Bhabha from Britain. 
George Yong-Boon Yeo, Singapore’s former foreign affairs minister, will get the Padma Bhushan too. 
Another Singaporean, Gopinath Pillai, is slated to get the Padma Shri in the trade and industry category. Shoji Shiba from Japan (trade and industry) and US-based professor Jagadish Shukla (science and engineering) are also in the list.
The 77 Padma Shris for “distinguished service in any field” include 22 people from the field of art. Vocalist Fariduddin Dagar, theatre veteran Joy Michael as well as composer Vanraj Bhatia, bhajan singer Anup Jalota and the famous Gundecha brothers, Ramakant Gundecha and Uma Kant Gundecha, who sing dhrupad have been acknowledged as well. 
No sportsperson got the Padma Vibhushan or the Padma Bhushan. Eight people will be awarded the Padma Shri. Amongst them are hockey legend Zafar Iqbal, former archer Limba Ram and adventure sportsperson Ajit Bajaj. 
The world of science was represented in the Padma Shri list by V. Adimurthy, Krishna Lal Chadha and Rameshwar Nath Koul Bamezai. 
The social work category recognises the work of people from all over the country, some known and others working in relative anonymity. The names include P.K. Gopal from Tamil Nadu and Phoolbasan Bai Yadav from Chhattisgarh. 
The last person to have got a Bharat Ratna was Pandit Bhimsen Joshi in 2008.
-IANS

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SOUTH ASIA

Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin

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Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog has asked authorities to place ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on the Exit Control List to prevent them from leaving the country.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sent a formal request to the ministry of interior. The interior ministry officials confirmed that the NAB wrote that names of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar should be put on the Exit Control List (ECL), which listed individuals not allowed to leave Pakistan.

The NAB argued that as the trial of the three nears its conclusion, it is feared that they would leave the country.

Earlier, a similar request to place name of finance minister Ishaq Dar on ECL was not accepted, allowing him to go to London and never return.

Sharif, 68, and his family this week filed an application with the accountability court seeking a fortnight’s exemption from personal appearance from February 19 onwards to let them go to London to see Sharif’s ailing wife. Three cases were filed against Sharif and his family last year, including Avenfield properties, Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment, and Flagship Investments.

Maryam and Safdar are accused only in Avenfield properties case. The NAB had filed two supplementary references against Sharif, his sons Hasan and Hussain regarding Al-Azizia Steel Mills & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship Investment cases.

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Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told

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The Hague: Pakistan is violating its “obligations” to the international community by failing to reduce its nuclear arsenal, the Marshall Islands told the UN’s highest court on Tuesday.

The small Pacific Island nation is this week launching three unusual cases against India, Pakistan and Britain before the International Court of Justice.

Majuro wants to put a new spotlight on the global nuclear threat, its lawyers said yesterday, by using its own experience with massive US-led nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s.

“Pakistan is in breach of its obligations owed to the international community as a whole,” when it comes to reducing its nuclear stockpile, said Nicholas Grief, one of the island nation’s lawyers.

Islamabad and its nuclear-armed neighbour India “continue to engage in a quantitative build-up and a qualitative improvement” of their atomic stockpiles, added Tony deBrum, a Marshallese government minister.

DeBrum warned that even a “limited nuclear war” involving the two countries would “threaten the existence” of his island nation people.

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.

In 1998, the rival neighbours both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability.

The ICJ’s judges are holding hearings for the next week and a half to decide whether it is competent to hear the lawsuits brought against India and Pakistan — neither of which have signed the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

A third hearing against Britain — which has signed the NPT — scheduled to start on Wednesday will be devoted to “preliminary objections” raised by London.

The Marshalls initially sought to bring a case against nine countries it said possessed nuclear arms: Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.
Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons.

But the Hague-based ICJ, set up in 1945 to rule in disputes between states, has only admitted three cases against Britain, India and Pakistan, because they have accepted the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction.

Pakistan’s lawyers did not attend Tuesday’s hearings.

It did however file a counter-claim against Majuro’s allegations saying “the court has no jurisdiction to deal with the application” and insisting that the case is “not admissible”, said ICJ President Ronny Abraham.

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Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus

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Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus

New Delhi: Bangladesh is likely to drop Islam as its official religion following a series of attacks on people from other faiths in the country. The country’s Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the status of the official religion of the country to Islam.

Bangladesh, which was declared a secular country after its formation in 1971, was declared an Islamic country following a constitutional amendment in 1988.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, the plea has challenged the declaration of Islam as the national religion of the country.

The move is being supported by leaders from the minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.

Bangladesh has 90 per cent of Muslims, 8 per cent Hindus and remaining constitutes Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.

In last month, a Hindu priest was hacked to death following an attack on a temple in Panchgarh district. Two others were seriously injured in the attack. There have been several lethal attacks on writers and bloggers.

According to a report in the Independent, Islamist groups Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team are believed to have carried out at least seven attacks on foreign and minority people in Bangladesh in the past year.

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