Tag: South Asia Times

Australia observes International Yoga Day

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Photo: SAT/NN

By our community reporter

Melbourne, 21 June: The inaugural International Day of Yoga was observed in Australia today with events spread across the country. Among others Yoga events were held in Victoria, NSW and Canberra.
The event here was organised by the Indian Consulate at the Springers Leisure Centre attracting yoga practioners, enthusiasts, invited VIPs, and the local community.

The message of Australian PM Tony Abbott was read by the Indian Consul in Melbourne Manika Jain. In his message he said, “Yoga’s universal and growing popularity demonstrates its appeal to people of all walks of life, and its great potential to foster better health among individuals and populations around the world.”
Several MPs including Victoria’s speaker Telmo Languiller, Inga Peulich, Anthony Byrne attended the ceremony by lighting the lamp here in the presence of Indian consul general of Melbourne Manika Jain.
“It is a matter of great pride and pleasure that UN has declared observation of June 21 every year as International Yoga Day,” Jain said.
A documentary on yoga was also screened followed by Video message from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In his message Mr. Modi greeted the people around the world, on the 1st International Day of Yoga.
“Let’s pledge to make Yoga an integral part of our daily lives,” he said.
The day-long celebrations were organised by a Melbourne- based yoga expert Rajendra Yenkannamoole who held yoga sessions.
Rajendra said that yoga was picking up in Australia in a big way and was emerging as a part of daily routine of many Australians.
A documentary ‘Common Yoga Protocol’ was screened and a souvenir released to mark the occasion.

- SAT News Service

IFFM 2015 Trailer

Indian Film Festival of Melbourne will happen from August- 14 – 27 , 2015. Celebration of the Indian Cinema and beyond!South Asia Times (SAT) is one of the media partner in this festival.

Source: IFFM 2015

Moomba Queen Pallavi Sharda’s takes Bollywood break

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By Neeraj Nanda

Melbourne, 23 February: Melbourne’s own Bollywood starlet, Pallavi Sharda is having a ‘break’ from cinema. Pallavi, who has recently been crowned the ‘Moomba Queen’ along with Cricketer Shane Warne as ‘Moomba King’, was last seen as the leading lady in Bollywood movie ‘Hawaizada’. The Moomba Festival is Australia’s largest free community festival which will burst into life over the Labour Day long weekend.

At a media meet at the Melbourne Town Hall along with Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, Pallavi expressed her desire to have a break from Bollywood, after SAT asked her, what next after Hawaizada? Though she also said another of her movie was being planned but she would not like to talk about it.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle seemed quite passionate about Pallavi being the Moomba Queen, told SAT he was ever ready to help another Bollywood movie being shot in Melbourne.

“The Moomba Festival program is bigger than ever this year with local music talent, world class athletes and a wide range of free shows and activities for all ages, The Lord Mayor said.

The Moomba Festival will take place from 6 to 9 March 2015.

For full program details visit – www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/moomba.

- SAT News Service

HOW RAJAPAKSA LOST THE ELECTION

504132Mahinda Rajapaksa's surprising defeat

BY GAYETI SINGH

NEW DELHI: After a decade in power, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa — who declared elections two years ahead of schedule in a bid to seek a third term in office — has been roundly defeated.

Early trends indicated almost immediately that the opposition candidate, Maithripala Sirisena, was on course to win the 50 percent needed for a victory.

Rajapaksa tweeted his acceptance of the results, and said that he was looking forward to a peaceful transition of power.

The verdict has shocked commentators and common people alike. This election was Rajapaksa’s to lose. It had been the soon-to-be former Sri Lankan President’s decision to call for early elections. He seemed to enjoy widespread support because of his role in ending the Sri Lankan civil war.

How did the gamble go so wrong?

Things began to get complicated from the get-go. The day after Rajapaksa declared the elections, Sirisena — a former Health minister in Rajapaksa’s cabinet and widely perceived to have been the ‘Number 2’ in Rajapaksa’s party — quit the government and declared his candidacy.

Other important defections followed.

The country’s main party of Buddhist monks, the Sri Lankan National Heritage Party (JHU), pledged support to Sirisena, delivering another blow to Rajapaksa, who retained the support of the Bodu Bala Sena, or Buddhist Force.

Then a key minister and his minority Muslim party quit the coalition government. Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen, leader of the All Ceylon Muslim Congress, said that he was switching allegiance to Sirisena.

Bathiudeen explained his switch by alleging that Rajapaksa had failed to restrain radical Buddhist groups involved in attacks on mosques, churches and businesses run by religious minorities in the Buddhist-majority country. “I asked the president to stop these religious hate attacks, but he failed to take action against offenders,” Bathiudeen told reporters in Colombo.

Although Muslims, the second largest minority in Sri Lanka after Hindu Tamils, account for only 10 percent of the electorate — they are be a key vote bank when the Sinhalese vote is split, given that both Rajapaksa and Sirisena are members of the majority Sinhala Buddhist community.

The country’s largest Muslim party, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, followed. Ameer Faaiz, a leader of the party that represents minority Muslims in overwhelmingly Buddhist Sri Lanka, cited the Rajapaksa administration’s “intolerance toward religious minorities” and disagreement with his style of rule. The decision served a major setback for Rajapaksa as with it more than 20 lawmakers and ministers defected to the opposition.

More bad news came soon after. Tamil National Alliance leader Rajavarothayam Sampanthan said his party will back Sirisena because Rajapaksa failed to bring to a close the country’s long-standing ethnic conflict, despite ending 25 years of civil war in 2009.

“We are inclined to the view based particularly on the performance of President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the past, that we would rather repose our faith in the joint opposition candidate Mr. Maithripala Sirisena, rather than expect what has not happened in the past 10 years to happen hereafter,” Sampanthan said.

More recently, last week, the key defender of Sri Lanka’s controversial casino policy — Faizer Mustapha, a president’s counsel and deputy minister of investment — quit the government and declared his support for the opposition.

The opposition managed to unite themselves under Sirisena and develop a list of tangible promises. The joint opposition agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding. If Sirisena wins, Sri Lanka’s Presidential system will be replaced by a parliamentary system within one hundred days. The 18th amendment to the constitution will be appealed — meaning that crucial institutions such as the police and judiciary will regain their independence. The 18th amendment, passed in 2010, also eliminated presidential term limits, allowing Rajapaksa to run for a third term.

Sirisena also made an effort to distance himself from perceptions of corruption and nepotism that have come to be associated with the governing party. Announcing a series of reforms, Sirisena vowed to stop Sri Lanka from “moving towards a dictatorship.” He raised issues such as the rising cost of living, wages, corruption, the rule of law, and the welfare state.

This is important because although Rajapaksa continued to enjoy support because of his role in ending the civil war, allegations of corruption and nepotism sprung up. Two weeks after Rajapaksa was re-elected, the losing candidate — a leading general in the fight against the LTTE — was jailed. The government took legal action against the opposition and critics, and reports on the curtailment of press freedom continue to pour in.

Rajapaksa also appointed his two brothers to head major government ministries and his cousins as ambassadors to key countries, including Russia and the United States. Another brother was appointed Speaker of Parliament.

In fact, during the run up to the elections, civil rights groups and the opposition rang alarm bells accusing the government and the security establishment of coercing voters. The army, they said, was being deployed to deter Tamils from casting their vote against Rajapaksa in the country’s north. Further, in the few weeks leading to the elections, recordings surfaced where anonymous callers — appeared to be connected to the security establishment — issued death threats to leading human rights activists who were campaigning for the opposition.

Perhaps because of the perceived attempt at concentration of power, Rajapaksa’s share of votes plunged in the by-elections and provincial elections last year. The decision to announce the elections two years ahead of schedule is linked to this, with Rajapaksa gambling on the belief that he stands a better chance of being re-elected now, as opposed to waiting for two years and risking a further decline in support.

Wrong move, but who would have known?

Source: thecitizen.in

PK breaking box office records in Australia and New Zealand also

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By Neeraj Nanda

Melbourne, 3 January: Aamir Khan’s PK is breaking all box office records in Australia and New Zealand. The film is already a blockbuster in India becoming the highest grossing Hindi film ever. Its total in the first two weeks trade analyst Komal Natha says was a net Rs. 276.32 crore.
The Times of India says, “Box office estimates currently put PK’s earnings at Rs 276 crores ($43 million) in India some two weeks after its release. Its international receipts in the first two weeks are said to be Rs 122 crores ($20 million), bringing the overall collection to Rs 400 crores ($63 million). Some estimates put the total revenue of the film, including music and video rights, at Rs 516 crores ($82 million), which would bring it just shy of Dhoom 3, which is said to have grossed Rs 542 crores ($86 million) to occupy top place. Since PK still has legs, it is almost certain to beat that record.”
PK’s theme has mesmerised the Indian people. “PK has the country on a roll. People are using social media to expose the rot that has set in all faiths. This film is a resounding blow for all those who misuse religions for their personal gains,” says an article in the online daily The Citizen.
Talking to SAT, Mitu Bhowmick of Mind Blowing Films who released the movie in Australia and New Zealand said, “It’s the highest grossing Indian film in Australia and New Zealand.”
“People are going again and again to see the movie and 20 to 30 percent of them are Australians,” she says.
PK was released in Australia on 36 screens and on 12 screens in New Zealand. Before PK, it was Dhoom 3 which was the highest grossing foreign film in Australia in 2013. And before that Aamir Khan’s ‘3 Idiots’ was a big box office success in Australia and New Zealand.
PK, directed by Rajkumar Hirani, also starring Sushant Singh Rajput and Anushka Sharma, is likely to cross the Rs 500 crore (combined India and overseas) business mark and become one of the most successful Hindi movie ever. The success of the movie despite fringe groups crying foul also puts Aamir Khan once again as number 1 in Bollywood.

-SAT News Service