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Sadhvi Pragya apologises for Godse remark in Lok Sabha, says ‘I’m not a terrorist’

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New Delhi: BJP MP Pragya Thakur on Friday tendered an apology in the Lok Sabha on her remarks on Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse, saying she “regrets and apologises” if her statement had hurt anybody and clarified that her remarks were “wrongly interpreted and twisted”.

The Bhopal MP, who faces charges in the Malegaon blasts case, later said she respects the service of Mahatma Gandhi for the country and condemned the way her statement was interpreted.

“In the backdrop of past sequence of events, I express regret and apologies if any statement made by me in the House has hurt anybody in any way. But, I also want to say that my statement made in Parliament was wrongly interpreted and twisted,” Thakur said.

“The way my statement was twisted is condemnable. I respect the service done by Mahatma Gandhi for the country.”

Thakur also reminded how a senior member of the House called her “terrorist” publicly and the previous government “tortured” her by “hatching conspiracy” against her.

“A senior member of the House called me a ‘terrorist’ publicly. No allegation has been proved in the court despite the conspiracy hatched by the then government against me.”

“It is against the law to call me terrorist without proving me guilty. It was an attempt to insult me as a woman, as a saint and as a Member of Parliament,” Thakur said.

She said “the then government had tortured me physically and mentally as a woman.”

Thakur’s apology made in Hindi followed a ruckus in the House with the entire opposition, including Congress, TDP, RSP, DMK, BSP and SP, trooping near the Speaker’s podium demanding her “unqualified apology” and raising slogans like “Down down Godse”, “Mahatma Gandhi Ki Jai”, “Down down BJP”.

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury sought unqualified apology from Thakur and termed her statement an attempt to “mislead” the House.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Patel said that Thakur in her first sentence tendered her apology and “such conduct is not fine after the apology”. “She clearly tendered her apology and showed her respect for Mahatma Gandhi.”

Thakur’s apology came a day after opposition benches demanded an apology from her and submitted a censure motion signed by 50 MPs to Speaker Om Birla.

The opposition took up the issue on Thursday with Congress leader Chowdhury, DMK’s Dayanidhi Maran and Revolutionary Socialist Party’s N.K. Premchandran along with other MPs submitting a letter to the Speaker seeking to censure Thakur.

On Thursday, the BJP leadership punished Thakur over her remarks and removed her from the parliamentary panel on defence and asked her not to join meetings of the parliamentary party in the remaining winter session.

Thakur on Wednesday sparked a row with an interjection during DMK leader A. Raja’s reference to Godse in the Lok Sabha. The issue later triggered a protest by the Opposition. Raja had cited a statement on Godse on why he killed Gandhi during a discussion on the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019, to which Thakur reacted.

National

Choose wisely – go organic this Holi

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With Holi -the festival of colours coming up — everyone is busy buying colours, ‘pichkaris’, and balloons but with increasing environment pollution and severe allergic reactions to synthetic colours, there is a growing awareness among people to opt for organic variants.

“In an approximately Rs 4,500-crore unorganised Holi colour market, the share of the organic variety is miniscule, but growing,” said Madhumita Puri, Founder and Executive Director of Avacayam Naturals, a Delhi-based manufacturer of organic colours.

The adverse effects of synthetic colours was observed in a study titled ‘The Holi Dermatoses’, published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology.
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It found a spate in skin diseases following the spring festival in India.

In the study conducted on 42 patients in Kolkata, 11 patients suffered due to activities related to preparation of colors and 12 reported aggravation of pre-existing dermatoses.

Nearly 60 per cent patients reported itching, while others reported to have suffered from a burning sensation, scaling, redness and watering of the eyes, as per the study.

Treading on a eco-friendly and skin-friendly path, Avacayam Naturals employed differently-abled persons to make organic colours by using waste and used flowers and leaves.

This solves three purposes at one go – generates employment for the disabled, manufactures harmless eco-friendly colours, and there is optimal usage of waste flowers.

Speaking to IANS, Puri said: “For making the colours, we collect used flowers — roses, marigolds, and others — and leaves from temples, weddings, and hotels.”

Avacayam Naturals, one of the programs that Puri started under her “Trash to Cash” scheme, makes four colours: Pink from roses, yellow from yellow marigolds, orange from orange marigolds, and green from leaves.

On being asked if the colours are harmless, she said: “Rather than damaging the environment, they are beneficial as each packet of colour is made from waste flowers which otherwise would dirty the place.”

How are the colours made?
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“After the flowers are collected, the workers sort them in different baskets according to their colour. Then, the petals and seed pods are separated and cut. These are then spread out to dry in a well ventilated space for all the moisture to evaporate.

“After that, they are ground and processed — without adding any chemicals — to be made into colours for people to enjoy,” Puri said, adding that the process of collection, drying, and grinding continues throughout the year but it is only before festivals that they process them into the final product.

“In a year, we manufacture around 20 tonne of pure organic colour, some of which is sold to Walmart India. One kilo of colour is sold between Rs 600 and Rs 1,000.”

When asked about the expiry date of these colours, Puri said: “The product is a dry one and completely natural. We have been testing them since five years now and have not found any deterioration in the quality, fungal infestations, or weevils. So there is no ‘expiry date’ to them.”

Another such manufacturer is Jaipur-based Red Earth which makes colours “exclusively from edible materials and scent them with pure, traditional attars”.

Speaking to IANS, Himanshu Verma, Director-Owner of Red Earth, said: “Every 2-3 years, we change our colour palette… this year we have four colours — Sunahra Dhamaal, Shvet Abeer, Neem Sanrachna, and Gulabi Nagariya — that are inspired by local materials.”

“The colours are curated on the basis of availability of local materials. We use items like camphor, neem, mehendi, multani-mitti, geru powder, arrowroot, flour, and others,” Verma said, adding that 50-60 per cent materials used are edible so that even if someone ingests them by mistake, they will not be as harmful.

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