After the sweeping win at the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, there is a new guard in the BJP within the Govern-ment. Only a handful from the 1999 - 2004 NDA team are present in the current Government. In the new guard there are some very trusted strategists that the BJP high command has deployed to consolidate the party’s position, both politically and adminis-tratively.
Part of the BJP’s new A Team is Mr Dharmendra Pradhan, 46, from Odisha who has been given the important portfolio of Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas with Independent Charge. Under the aegis of this ministry run 3 of India’s 7 Maharatna public sector undertakings. It goes to show the measure of confidence that the party has in Mr Pradhan. Also on his young shoulders rests heavy political responsibility, the immediate one being that of wresting back the initiative for the BJP after the fallout with Nitish Kumar, in the forthcoming Bihar Assembly elections. Mr Pradhan who is a Rajya Sabha MP from Bihar is a prominent co-incharge of this important election. Bihar is the second most populous state in India with the number of electorate at 65.7 million. Prior to joining the NDA Government, Mr Pradhan has, at various points, overseen elections for his party in Karnataka, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Chhatisgarh. He is also tasked to strengthen the BJP in his home state, Odisha. We have an interview with Mr Pradhan on our cover.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the West Coast of the USA will be watched very closely. He will be meeting with Silicon Valley bigwigs, and visits are slotted to the Facebook facility for a town hall-style Q and A session, and to the offices of Google and Adobe systems. Incidentally, the chief executives of Google, Adobe and Microsoft are all Indians. If Indians have won respect throughout the world for their soft power skills, it is in the Silicon Valley where they honed them first. The last Indian PM to visit the West Coast—Los Angeles in that instance—was Mrs Indira Gandhi in 1982. Prior to that in 1978, the then Prime Minister Morarji Desai visited the University of California at Berkeley, so it has been a while since an Indian PM has been on the Pacific side of the USA. Mr Modi will give a Madison Square Garden-type address at San Jose. The Valley awaits his visit, and its outcome, with bated breath.
As part of our initiative to focus on prominent PSUs, and how they are turning themselves around as per new Government policies in order to remain competitive in the open market, India Empire has interacted with the National Textile Corporation’s CMD, Mr P.C. Vaish. The fortune of this PSU is on the up since Mr Vaish took over in March 2015.
Temples of Angkor in Cambodia, described as Hindu Heaven on Earth, have topped the Ultimate Travelist compiled by Lonely Planet. The list includes places like the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Machu Picchu in Peru, the Great Wall of China, Taj Mahal in India, Grand Canyon National Park in the USA, the Colosseum in Italy, Iguazu Falls on the Brazil-Argentina border, Alhambra in Spain and Aya Sofya in Turkey.
There are glimpses from the International Ramayana Conference in Mauritius and the Rainbow Dance Festival in Trinidad and Tobago, enhancing our coverage of older diaspora nations.
There are plenty of other stories that you can navigate through in this issue.