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» 06/04/2009
INDIA
For the first time a Dalit woman as speaker of the Parliament
by CT Nilesh
The congress elected Meira Kumar as the Speaker of the Lok Sabha. She hails froma a family of politicians that has always been close to the Congress. Her nomination reopens the issue of women in the parliament and hopes that the new government increases its effort in the social field.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Meira Kumar is the new Speaker  of the 15th Lok Sabha, the Indian lower house of parliament. It is the first time a Dalit lady occupies an important role as that of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha . When her name was mentioned by Sonia Gandhi, Meira gladly resigned as Water Resources Minister, taken up the week before. Most probably this decision will facilitate the difficult task of introducing the women’s quota in the legislature and make a statement on the party’s social commitment. In the past it has always been  the Congress that chose  the first female PM. Indira Gandhi, and the first female President, Pratibha Patel.

64 years old Kumar, hails from a family that had always been supporting the Congress Party. Her father Jagjivan Ram, had been deputy Prime Minister. She has successfully contested election from  three different places: Bijnore in Uttar Pradesh, Karol Bagh in Delhi and Sasaram in Bihar.

The new Speaker of the Lok Sabha was part of P V Narasimha Rao’s  government ,as the deputy minister and was made a minister of Cabinet rank when the UPA took over in 2004. Meira Kumar also had various responsibilities  in the hierarchy of the  Congress Party as General Secretary.

Choosing her may also be a Congress masterstroke in view of the move being made by the BJP to project another woman, Sushma Swaraj, as the possible deputy leader in the Lok Sabha and the emergence of Mayawati, leader of Baujan Sajawadi Party, as a Dalit icon.

Kumar graduated  in 1973 as Indian Foreign Service officer and for 12 years she served in Indian embassies in Madrid, London and also in the ministry of external affairs in Delhi. She quit her job to be elected to the Parliament from Bijnor in 1985.

The BJP also wanted to score a first proposing as Deputy Speaker a tribal, Karia Munda.

 


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See also
11/04/2005 INDIA
Some 200 episodes of anti-Christian violence in 2005 in India
by Nirmala Carvalho
05/26/2008 INDIA
Hindu nationalists in decisive victory in Karnataka
04/11/2007 INDIA
Uttar Pradesh vote to decide India’s future
05/12/2009 INDIA
Uncertainty over the out come of Indian elections
by CT Nilesh
05/23/2008 INDIA
Delhi to pay compensation for thousands of Muslim killed or wounded

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SAUDI ARABIA - ISLAM
For head of Al-Azhar, religious education reform is needed to stop Islamic extremismFor Ahmed al-Tayeb, it is urgent to come up with new educational programmes to avoid "corrupt interpretations" of the Qur'an and Sunnah. Islamic terrorism undermines the unity of the Muslim world. He blames Mideast tensions on a "new global colonialism allied to world Zionism". a speech by the Saudi king is read at the conference.
HONG KONG - CHINA - VATICAN
It looks like someone is trying to shout us down
by Card. Joseph Zen Ze-kiunThe widespread optimism concerning the dialogue between the Holy See and China is largely groundless. Some Chinese bishops unable to speak freely are asked "leading" questions. The key issues remain unresolved, namely episcopal appointments and the fate of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. Benedict XVI's Letter to Chinese Catholics, also cited by Pope Francis, provides guidelines. No agreement is better than a bad agreement. What happened to Msgr. Cosma Shi Enxiang and Msgr. James Su Zhimin? Hong Kong's bishop emeritus, champion of religious freedom in China, delivers a vibrant reflection.

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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