Tag: South Asia Times

Moomba Queen Pallavi Sharda’s takes Bollywood break


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


504132Mahinda Rajapaksa's surprising defeat


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


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

Australia Test team leadership changes

MCG crowd. Photo Neeraj Nanda, SAT
Photo: SAT

From Sports Desk

Melbourne, 15 December : Cricket Australia (CA) has announced that Steven Smith has been appointed vice-captain of the Australian Test team effective immediately and will captain the Australian side in the absence of Michael Clarke.

Clarke is expected to miss the remainder of the Commonwealth Bank Test Series against India due to an injured right hamstring.

Current vice-captain Brad Haddin who led the Australian side on the final day of the Adelaide Test will serve as Smith’s deputy in Brisbane.

The appointment was recommended by CA’s National Selection Panel and was endorsed by CA’s Board of Directors last night, says a CA media release.

When Clarke returns to the side he will do so as captain with Smith serving as deputy.

National Selector Rod Marsh said: “These are difficult circumstances given Michael’s injury and the fact that we don’t know how long he will be out of the game.

“What we do know is that it won’t be an overnight fix so after a lot of thought we have taken the opportunity to appoint an emerging young leader as captain until such time as Michael regains fitness and returns to the side.

“We congratulate Steve on the wonderful honour of leading his country. On Wednesday he will become Australia’s 45th Test captain and at the age of 25 will become one of our youngest leaders. He is an exceptional young man who is highly regarded by the National Selection Panel not only for his fine performances with the bat but also his maturity and clear leadership potential.

“Brad Haddin has done an exceptional job as vice-captain since assuming the role last year and will provide strong support to Steve just as he has done for Michael.

“There was a strong argument for Brad to assume the captaincy until Michael returns, but given we don’t know how long that will be, we felt the time was right to take a longer-term view and give a young player this chance.”

Commenting on the announcement, CA Chairman Wally Edwards said: “The Board fully endorsed the recommendation put forward by the selectors. Steve is an impressive young leader who deserves high praise for his temperament and on-field performances to date. We believe he will do an excellent job when given the chance to captain his country against India.”

The leadership change relates only to Test cricket.

Australia lead India 1-0 in the four-match Commonwealth Bank Test Series for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. The second Commonwealth Bank Test starts at the Gabba in Brisbane on Wednesday 17 December.

Steven Peter Devereux Smith

Born June 2, 1989, Sydney, New South Wales

Australian Test player number: 415

Test debut: July 2010 v Pakistan at Lord’s

Tests played: 23

Runs scored: 1749

Batting average: 46.03

100s: 5

Highest score: 162* v India, Adelaide Oval, December 2014

Wickets: 14

Bowling average: 50.64

Catches: 18

Captaincy record (all categories of major cricket): 26 games, 16 wins, 9 losses, 1 draw

First-class captaincy record: 3 games, 2 wins, 1 draw

- SAT News Service

Faith leaders call G-20 to act on climate change


By News Desk

Melbourne, 12 November : Faith leaders from across the religious spectrum have issued a joint call for G20 leaders to act on climate change, end fossil fuel subsidies and rapidly transition to a low carbon economy.
Clergy and leaders from Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and Indigenous communities will hold a press conference in a Brisbane church close to where G20 leaders are meeting.
Organised by the multi-faith Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC), they are calling on country representatives to recognise the clear connection between economics and climate.
Prominent figures from a range of communities have signed a joint letter in which they describe fossil fuel subsidies as a “perverse incentive to destroy the biosphere”: Subsidies operate as a perverse incentive to destroy the biosphere, to deplete and pollute precious water sources, pollute the air and create significant health problems.
Bishop Professor Stephen Pickard of the Anglican Church said: “There is a moral imperative to act. A number of the G20 leaders claim to be people of faith yet their collective failure to act on climate change is morally reprehensible. The present situation demands that we transition quickly to lifestyles that respect the physicals limits of the natural world.”
Dr Mohamad Abdalla, Director of the Islamic Research Unit at Griffith University, said: “There must be a concerted effort, even in developing countries, to shift boldly to solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy. But this is being thwarted by government subsidies for fossil fuel companies, giving these companies an unfair advantage. Governments are essentially providing incentives for companies whose products are destroying the biosphere.”
Sister Geraldine Kearney, representing Catholic Religious Australia, said: “While wealthy countries are spending $50 – 90 billion USD annually on subsidies for fossil fuels, most are failing to put more than the most basic amounts on the table to meet their Climate Finance commitments. These leaders have a moral obligation to act.”
The fossil fuel lobby, including Peabody Energy and the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA), are resisting the call for change. In Brisbane they are actively promoting the message that fossil fuels are an indispensable necessity if developing countries wish to lift their people out of poverty.
Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black from the Leo Baeck Centre for Progressive Judaism said: “This is a biased claim from an industry that is fighting for its own survival. Developing countries themselves recognise the wisdom of basing their development on renewables wherever possible. Their people are already suffering as a result of climate change.”

Aunty Togiab McRose Elu, Elder in Residence at Griffith University said: “Global warming isn’t just a theory in Torres Strait, it’s lapping at people’s doorsteps. The world desperately needs a binding international agreement including an end to fossil fuel subsidies. G20 countries should be leading the way.”

Professor Raja Jayaraman, Vice-Chair, Hindu Council of Australia, said: “Fossil fuels are causing significant health problems in places such as China and India as well as Australia. Meanwhile the price of renewables has come down dramatically and lend themselves to small-scale, decentralised energy delivery systems which are more accessible to impoverished communities.”

Mr Kim Hollow, President of the Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils said: “We know that the G20 leaders are pursuing greater prosperity. However, true prosperity cannot be created without care and respect for people and the environment. It is this integral vision for humanity and the earth which accords with the deepest roots of the world’s religious traditions.”

- SAT News Service.