Khan’s remarks at Ramlila Maidan came as a key Hazare aide Kumar Viswas described the actor as the biggest hero of the country who has lent his support to the movement.

Regaling Hazare’s supporters by singing “Mitwaa…” from his superhit movie ‘Lagaan’, Khan requested the 74-year-old activist to call off his fast as they needed him for leading the countrymen in further struggle.

“I request you to end your fast because we understand that it is a process and Parliament must debate the bill,” he said.

“This is the first episode of the struggle. The climax would be when we get the strong Lokpal Bill,” Aamir, who “knows what Jan Lokpal Bill is and the differences between it and other versions,” said.

He said people should approach their MPs “whom we have elected” and ask them to support Hazare’s version of the bill.

“I will meet my MP Priya Dutt and tell her please support the Jan Lokpal Bill. I would say that every Indian must ask their MPs to support this bill. Our eyes are on them,” he said.

Khan also spoke with Dr Naresh Trehan, who had come to examine Hazare, and enquired about his health.

“I have no doubt in my mind that we’ll get a strong Lokpal Bill. However, we need to decide as to how we are going to live our lives… Will we give or accept bribes? Will we say no to corruption in our lives,” Khan said.

“It’s high time everyone of us said no to any kind of corruption. Our actions will determine whether India becomes a corruption-free country or not,” the actor said.

When asked by Kiran Bedi if Bollywood would lend its support to the anti-corruption movement when needed, Khan said, “Not only Bollywood, every Indian is with Anna Hazare in his fight against corruption. We will fully support him when needed”.

Director Raju Hirani said he had never imagined that a day would come when the whole country would stand up against corruption.

“It has become possible because of Anna and I have come here to salute him,” he said, adding that “we need you (Anna) in this battle against corruption… Please break your fast and stay with us.”

Ambiga Sreenevasan is a colossus of intellect and integrity in the Malaysian legal fraternity. Ask any lawyer and they will tell you. Here is what Wikipedia has to say:

Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan (born 1956) is a Malaysian lawyer who served as the Malaysian Bar chairlady from 2007 to 2009.

In March 2009, she became one of the eight recipients for the 2009 Secretary of State’s Award for International Women of Courage Awards. In the ceremony, the United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commented, “… Ambiga Sreenevasan, has a remarkable record of accomplishment in Malaysia. She has pursued judicial reform and good governance, she has stood up for religious tolerance, and she has been a resolute advocate of women’s equality and their full political participation. She is someone who is not only working in her own country, but whose influence is felt beyond the borders of Malaysia. And it is a great honor to recognize her and invite her to the podium.”

References: “Remarks by Clinton on International Women of Courage Awards”. United States. 11 March. Retrieved 2 December 2009.

India has produced a female president, a prime minister, business tycoons and countless Bollywood starlets. But becoming a successful Indian woman depends on the caste you are born into and what part of the country you come from.
As India evolves from a traditional to a modern society, Indian women still face the challenges of living and working in a patriarchial system.
The Cafe travels to Mumbai to discuss gender inequality in India and whether the status of women is improving in the world’s largest democracy. How far have Indian women progressed, and how much further will they still have to go?

by Mariam Mokhtar@
Only an optimist would believe that their vote would sweep UMNO from power in GE-13. Why bother with a sham election and waste resources going through the motions of an election, where the outcome has already been decided in advance? The headlines will proudly boast: “BN wins. Najib scores a landslide victory, in a massive 103 percent turnout”.
Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak wants GE-13 before electoral reforms. In a functioning democracy, the rakyat has a choice. The fundamental difference is that we are denied that choice.
We distrust our electoral processes despite Najib’s assurance about the parliamentary select committee (PSC) on electoral reforms. Will UMNO-BN leave office gracefully?
At the 61st UMNO General Assembly Najib declared: “Even if our bodies are crushed and our lives lost, brothers and sisters, whatever happens, we must defend Putrajaya”. At the World Youth day meet in Putrajaya, Najib screamed, “Will you defend Putrajaya with me?” before breaking into a disturbing tirade: “Defend Putrajaya! Defend Putrajaya! Defend Putrajaya!”
By 2011, the People’s Volunteer Corps (Rela) would consist of 2.6 million members. Will they be issued postal votes too?
Some people believe that certain western democracies are far superior, with honest and principled people in government. Not true! Politicians in foreign establishments can be just as devious and as corrupt as the Malaysian ones. Their government appears to be working only because their rakyat makes sure the politicians serve them and not the other way around. People are not afraid of criticising their MPs. Politicians who do not adhere to the minimum parliamentary standards, are booted out.
In these countries, elected representatives are monitored, pursued and made accountable for their actions. Politicians are important in that they enact laws in parliament, on our behalf. But politicians need to be regulated. They are the tools with which the state can meddle in our lives.
MPs are to be controlled
MPs are to be controlled, not controlling. It is by us being watchful, and not sycophantic, that keeps MPs in check.
Malaysians have seen a constant barrage of electoral fraud. Last week, former soldiers alleged that they were ordered by their superiors to manipulate votes. But the denunciation by the Chief of the Armed Forces, General Zulkifeli Mohd Zin, who labelled these ex-soldiers as traitors, is itself an act of treachery.
Illegal workers being granted citizenship and voting rights have been unearthed. MyKads of dubious authenticity are distributed to foreigners. Political expediency seems more important than sovereignty. It appears that the NRD is a major threat to national security.
Scores of centenarians, or people who have long since died, have been resurrected, to cast their votes. These accompany the usual complaints of vote-buying, intimidation and promises of aid in exchange for votes. Gerrymandering, or the division of geographical areas into constituencies which will unfairly benefit only one party, is overlooked by the EC. Pro-opposition areas may have one MP representing over 100,000 voters in the one constituency whereas in BN strongholds, constituencies consist of around 5,000 people.
Just before Bersih’s 9 July march, Wan Ahmad Wan Omar, the EC’s Deputy chairman, complained that NGOs were obsessed with the comparison of election practices between Malaysia and other countries.
He said, “Elections observers must be domestic observers. Foreign observers, they don’t know our election laws, they don’t understand. It’s a different value system.”
Yet he failed to act after Ambiga Sreenevasan and other local election activists were banned from monitoring the Sarawak state elections.
Wan Ahmad claimed that our election laws were “fair and impartial” and was stung by the “negative” comments of foreign observers. He said, “They are foreigners, who are they? Why do we need foreigners, Germans commenting on our election system?”
He is right. The culture of “You help me, I help you” is “UMNO-esque” and peculiar to Malaysia. Malaysia is ‘superior’ and has nothing to learn from others. Wan Ahmad’s arrogance smacks of “Ketuanan Melayu” and extols the virtues of the warped BTN indoctrination.
So what exactly is the EC’s role when it continually coughs up excuse after lame excuse of why it cannot ensure clean elections?
EC but a toothless dragon
The EC is but a toothless dragon whose only job seems to be the defence of BN. It turns a blind eye when UMNO-BN uses government resources, the national media and other instruments of the state, for its own propaganda.
The poor appear to be supportive of UMNO and in past elections, people living in decrepit hovels have posters of UMNO, Najib or Taib Mahmud (for Sarawak) adorning their homes.
In Sarawak, the villagers idolise Taib, like teenagers would their pop-idol, when Taib makes his grand entrance, by helicopter, at longhouses. Usually, his Mercedes is on standby in case Taib fancies the trek home by car.
The contrast between the villagers’ pitiful surroundings with basic infrastructure, and Taib’s opulence, makes it hard to imagine how they have benefitted from Taib’s long rule. What do they hope to gain by supporting him for another term?
It is the same story in Peninsular Malaysia. The rural people and the poor appear to support UMNO-BN. Perhaps they are comfortable with the devil you know than the one you don’t. Perhaps the opposition has yet to gain the confidence of the rural folk.
Have the destitute given up hope of change; they are prepared to accept the few tokens of appreciation like sacks of rice, Milo and sugar, in exchange for votes? Does “stability” triumph over “change”?
Bersih cannot do it alone because UMNO-BN dominates Malaysian politics. Any attempt by the opposition to “oppose” in Parliament means they are not allowed to table their motions or at worst, they risk being suspended.
With enormous cash reserves, and the ability to utilise government resources, unlike the opposition, UMNO-BN can command political patronage amongst businesses. In an election, favours are called in and UMNO-BN do act like they are above the law.

Too arrogant to acknowledge the voters

‘Najib & Co’ are too arrogant to acknowledge the voters: What is the rakyat saying? What do theywant? Can they cast their vote and be sure that the policies and the person they voted for, will be reflected in the final outcome?
Fraud, manipulation, phantom votes and money politics are useful instruments which have helped to prop up UMNO, for 54 years. UMNO has been rattled by Bersih and the popular uprising in Egypt has given Malaysians hope. The rakyat is finally getting to have a real taste of democracy but the challenges are enormous as we try and adapt to being “free” and “fair”.
The trick to improving Malaysian politics is not to allow the political parties and their leaders any let-up but to be constantly critical of their performance. Let’s have less praise and more scrutiny.
GE-13 should not be held until electoral reforms are under way. Don’t be fooled by Najib’s latest spin on democracy and his smokescreen about the PSC and electoral reform.
“What young entrepreneur would not want the opportunity to mingle with giants in the business?” asks Madiha Sultan, CEO of Lals Chocolates – a luxury chocolate business based in Karachi, Pakistan which she founded with her mother in 2006. Her company has retail outlets in Karachi and Lahore and has developed a successful corporate gift program for holidays. Madiha was one of 26 women selected earlier this year to participate in the Fortune/U.S. State Department Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership.
Madiha’s mentor was Kathleen Vaughan, Executive Vice President for Wells Fargo’s Wholesale Mortgage Division, who says one of her motivations in signing up to mentor global women is to show them “the most important factor is not ‘me’ but the village in which we work, which then becomes a confidence booster. I want these women to see what is possible by meeting with many successful women who manage risk and make tough decisions. Madiha very much wants to be a free woman charting her own destiny in a culture that makes it difficult; we’re here to show her options.”
On her part, Madiha left her three week shadowing experience with Kathleen, and various other mentors she was introduced to, with some clear ideas of the importance of strategy and ideas for developing an export business, but most of all, she says she learned “you don’t have to be an aggressive, obnoxious person to get ahead. I now see my own management style is an advantage.”
Madiha Sultan’s group of 26 emerging women leaders gathered in Washington in May for orientation before going on to spend three weeks with their mentors throughout the U.S. Since the program began in 2006, about 220 women in senior positions at companies including Google, Time Inc, Walmart, American Express, Accenture, and Dow Chemical, as well as law and financial firms, have mentored 174 women from 42 countries. To apply, the women from emerging nations must be between the ages of 25-43 and speak fluent English; they must either run their own businesses, work in management positions, or run nongovernmental organizations. This fall, applications will be accepted for the 2012 program; recruitment is processed through embassies in designated participating countries. For general information, here’s a link.
Another of Kathleen Vaughan’s mentees, Lola Scotta from Buenos Aires, says participation in the program gave her the encouragement to accept a promotion she was subsequently offered as field marketing manager for SAB Miller, the second largest beer company in the world, for which she has responsibility for 4 countries in South America. Lola says when men are offered promotions, “they say yes, even if the position is more challenging. With me I always hesitate because I’m not sure if I can do it. After the program I knew I could do it. ” Someday Lola hopes to start a business magazine. She stays in touch weekly with Kathleen Vaughan, her U.S. mentor, who says she soon realized “Lola had the gusto to do more.” Lola observes “it was so exciting to sit in on meetings with Kathleen to see how she could be so sensitive but yet very focused. She has broadened my perspective on what I am capable of. It was awesome.”
Program mentors seem to share the awe. Kathi Lutton, a lead litigation partner at Fish & Richardson, the country’s largest intellectual property law firm, asked herself “how could I not be a mentor? Mentoring women leaders across the globe seems right for the times.” One of her first mentees, Susan Rammekwa runs an orphanage in South Africa for 200 children whose parents have died from HIV/Aids. After being mentored by Kathi and co mentors Megan Smith and Susan Wojcicki of Google who connected her to a network of some 50 women in Silicon Valley, Susan determined to make her orphanage self-sustaining; upon her return, she organized village women to sew garments for her children and next to sell the garments within the community to make money to support her orphanage. She has also begun operating a bakery with a bread machine purchased through contributions from her U.S. network. Another mentee of the Silicon Valley threesome, is Gaelle Pierre, co-founder of a technology company in Port Au Prince, Haiti as well as founder of a cactus and orchids business which makes liquors and jams. Recently, Gaelle, founded a foundation to empower children and young adults to become entrepreneurs.
A foremost objective of the global women’s program is to “pay forward” or to encourage the women to empower other women in their countries upon their return. Manal Elattir from Rabat, Morocco founded an NGO, called IMDAD (Arabic for support) to motivate young people and women to become innovative social entrepreneurs by starting out working within their communities. For a recent project, Manal organized a caravan of 23 village women from Southern Morocco, where the literacy rate for women is 89 percent, who left their homes for a week to talk to women in other villages to discuss possibilities for marketing artisanal crafts. The hardest part, says Manal, was convincing husbands to let them leave. Ultimately, Manal hopes the women will eventually form cooperatives to market their crafts beyond their village boundaries.
Kathi Lutton, who also mentored Manal, observes “Manal was so receptive with an instinctive grasp of how to connect so that after she was here for a few days, she started setting up her own meetings to connect with other women.” Manal says the program “made me realize I had an obligation, because I had the capacity to communicate business skills, to put some structure around my ideas. My mentors taught me how to market my social enterprise and how to reach potential partners and sponsors. Manal’s next goal is to get an MBA to hone her financial skills to help her programs become self-supporting.
Madiha Sultan adds, “They really hammer in how important it is to give back to our communities. Besides expanding her chocolate business, Madiha has started an adult literacy and numeracy program. Professionally, she is a member of the Karachi Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “I want to do the same thing for the young girls in Pakistan,” says Madiha, “that Kathleen Vaughan, and the people she introduced me to, did for me.”

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