The Global Digest


PM names China bordering bridge after Bhupen Hazarika

Special Contribution
By Nava Thakuria

Guwahati: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 26 May inaugurated the country’s longest river bridge in far eastern region and gave a nomenclature to the project over Lohit river, a major tributary of mighty Brahmaputra. PM Modi, who arrived in the morning hours from New Delhi, dedicated the Dhola-Sadiya bridge to the nation and also name it after legendary Assamese cultural personality Dr Bhupen Hazarika.

“The road connectivity will see a major transformation as this bridge will fill a huge connectivity gap that has existed in the region. It will also enhance connectivity between Assam & Arunachal Pradesh, and opens the door for economic development on a big scale,” said Modi while addressing a rally at Dhola in Assam.

The bridge is expected to reduce the distance from Rupai (Assam) on NH- 37 to Meka-Roing (Arunachal Pradesh) on NH-52 by 165 km and thus give a major boost to overall economic development in the region. PM Modi added that the infrastructure along with road & rail connectivity is extremely important for development.

“The effort of the Union government is to fulfil the dreams & wishes of the people,” commented Modi in presence of Assam governor Banowarilal Purohit and the State chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal adding that the Centre was placing great emphasis on the development of waterways as well in the region.

Modi asserted that the eastern and north-eastern parts of India have the greatest potential for economic development. The enhanced connectivity between the region and other parts of the country, and also good communication linking the region with the economy of South-East Asia remains the priority for the Centre, he declared.

Constructed with the budget of rupees 950 crore and connecting Assam with Arunachal, the Dhola-Sadiya bridge is expected to change the lives of thousands of families. Moreover, it is assumed that the 9.16 km river bridge would fulfill a vital requirement in terms of India’s defence perspective as it is only 100 km away from the McMahon Line separating India from Tibet (now under Communist China).

A number of individuals along with few civil society groups earlier urged PM Modi to name the river bridge after the music maestro. The Patriotic People’s Front Assam (PPFA) and the Arunachal Pradesh Literary Society (APLS) separately advocated for the cause with an aim to honour the singer with an immortal voice as ‘he was a man of assimilation embracing various community & tribes of the region like a golden thread’.

The PPFA argued that Dr Hazarika was born at Sadiya on 8 September 1926 and he made the first film titled ‘Meri Dharam Meri Maa’ representing Arunachal. Preferred to declare himself as a Jajabor (wanderer), Hazarika tried his hands in various field of creations as a poet, lyricist, singer, music composer, author, journalist and filmmaker. In fact, he was the most visible individual of the region for many decades.

The APLS pointed out that Hazarika, who died in 2011, worked relentlessly for unity & integrity for all caste, creed and religions through his songs and music. He is hailed as the uncrowned king of the region’s cultural world. His songs continue to be popular even today as those contain the humanity above all.

Hazarika got PhD in mass communication (1952) from Columbia University, New York. The bard of Brahmaputra was equally popular in mainland India along with Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan. Hazarika was conferred on Padamshree (1977) and Padma Bhushan (2001) besides Dadasaheb Phalke Award (1992), the first and only one from northeast India to receive the honour till date.

The child prodigy sang and performed in ‘Indramaloti’, the second Assamese talkie film made by Jyotiprasad Agarwalla in 1939. Hazarika penned thousands of lyrics and rendered his crisp voice for nearly 1500 songs. He had composed music for 36 Assamese films, many Bengali (Jiban Trishna, Jonakir Alo, Mahut Bandhure, Kari o Komal, Ekhane Pinjar, Dampati, Chameli Memsaab etc) and Hindi (AAOPEk Pal, Rudaali, Papiha, Darmiyaan, Daman, Gajagamini etc ) films.

As a director, some of his outstanding Assamese films include ‘Era Batar Sur’ (1956), ‘Shakuntala’ (1960), ‘Pratidhwani’ (1964), ‘Lotighoti’ (1967), ‘Chick Mick Bijuli’ (1970), ‘Mon Projapati’ (1978), ‘Siraj’ (1988) etc. He won Indian President’s award for ‘Shakuntala’, ‘Pratidhwani’ and ‘Lotighoti’ as a film maker. Hazarika was awarded with best music director award for ‘Chameli Memsaab’ in 1976. It was the first national award in music direction for the Assamese film industry.

Assam government conferred two prestigious honours (Shrimanta Shankardev Award 1988 and Asom Ratna Award 2008) on Hazarika. Asom Sahitya Sabha, the highest literary forum of Assam, offered the coveted post of the President to him in 1993. For a five year term Hazarika was appointed as the Chairman of Sangeet Natak Akademi in 1999 and was also elected to Assam State Legislative Assembly in 1967.

Soon after the Chinese aggressive in 1962, Hazarika visited the Kameng locality of Arunachal and created his eternal lyrics ‘------Aji Kameng Simanta Dekhilo, Dekhi Shatrur Pashutta Chinilo----- (Seen today the Kameng border and realized the barbarity of enemies meaning Red China) ’ to pay homage to the soldiers, who sacrificed their lives in the war. He also advocated for a watchful force at the China border for the security of the nation.

IFEX urges Pakistan to provide updated information on journalists killing to UNESCO

Annie Game(R)

KARACHI, May 20: International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) Executive Director Annie Game has urged Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to respond to UNESCO Director-General’s 2017 request that has sought information on the status of judicial inquiries into the killings of 55 journalists in Pakistan from 2006 to 2016. In a letter, Game also asked the Prime Minister to take measures to promote the safety of journalists in mainstream and online media, and to combat impunity.

The Executive Director of IFEX, the global network working to promote and defend freedom of expression worldwide, said the UNESCO Director-General’s biennial report was a way for states to demonstrate their commitment to addressing crimes against journalists and media workers by providing detailed information on the steps being taken to achieve justice and end impunity. The report is expected to serve as a monitoring mechanism for tracking progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 16.10 on access to information and fundamental freedoms, which UN member states unanimously adopted. It has been observed that the report’s value would be further strengthened through the collection of information on good practices.

The IFEX Executive Director applauded Pakistan's responses given in the years 2014 and 2016 on the Director-General’s request and asked him to further improve this trend of accountability by submitting a detailed and updated information on journalists killing cases to UNESCO, besides granting them permission to make it publicly available. She hoped that the Prime Minister would assist UNESCO in the collection of good practices by providing information on general safeguards implemented for the protection of journalists and also end impunity issue in Pakistan. She said responses by Pakistan would be included in the upcoming 2017 World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development report and the 2018 report on the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity.

Game informed Sharif that since 2006, over 800 journalists and media workers had been killed worldwide and in more than 90% of those cases, the perpetrators had gone unpunished and such type of extreme unchecked violence was the ultimate form of censorship that severely curtailed the flow of information necessary for a peaceful, prosperous and democratic society to flourish. “The culture of impunity that has developed around this issue only makes it more likely that such crimes will continue to occur. For this reason, the issue of impunity for killing of journalists is one of the greatest threats to freedom of expression and information worldwide,” she further said.

The IFEX Executive Director urged the Prime Minister to ensure that Pakistan's efforts are documented in the relevant reports and the government demonstrates accountability by making the submission to UNESCO before 30 May 2017. “In doing so, you will be helping to improve political will to address violence, building a global repertoire of best legal practices, and showing that attacks on freedom of expression in Pakistan will not be tolerated. We look forward to your response to this letter and to seeing updated information on the cases mentioned above made public in the relevant reports and on the UNESCO website,” Game concluded.

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