External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee arrived in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou on Wednesday, kick starting his four day visit to the Communist giant during which the boundary row and irritants surrounding it are expected to dominate his talks with the leadership in Beijing.
Delivering a speech at the prestigious Peking University and a meeting with Chinese Indologist Ji Xianlin, who was conferred the Padma Bhushan award this year in the first such India's civilian honour to a Chinese, are part of Mukherjee's engagements. Ji has translated the Ramayana from Sanskrit to Chinese.
During the visit, the first high level contact since Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's tour in January and the first by an Indianexternal affairs minister since 2002, Mukherjee would also hold talks with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.
锘縝order row to dominate talks
Tibet, a sensitive issue in Sino India ties with Tibetans led by the Dalai Lama living in exile in India, is also likely to come up for discussions. China has appreciated India's stand on Tibet and Mukherjee's visit is the first high level political contact after the unrest in Tibet erupted in March.
"The two countries have reached a consensus which is that both are important neighbours and partners to each other. The two countries will not regard each other as a threat," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang had said on Tuesday.
China has said the two sides would hold talks on 'a series of issues,' including the boundary on which discussions had made "some progress" in recent years with the Special Representatives holding 11 rounds of dialogue under an established mechanism.
Mukherjee was received at the airport by India's Ambassador to China, Nirupama Rao, and senior Chinese officials. On his maiden trip toChinaafter becoming external affairs minister, Mukherjee is carrying a wide ranging agenda from the long running border issue often dogged by irritants to trade and water to discuss with his counterpart Yang Jiechi, whose invitation brings him to China.
'The Special Representatives shall complete at an early date the task of arriving at an agreed framework of settlement on the basis of this Agreement,' according to 'A Shared Vision for the 21st Century' signed by the two countries during Prime Minister Singh's visit in January.
The visit, which is aimed at building on the positive momentum in bilateral ties, comes amidst warmer relations between the two Asian giants and a thriving trade that went beyond expectations of both sides but the ties have also come under stress with reports of border incursions and China's claims over Indian territory.
On the eve of Mukherjee's visit, Beijing said the two countries do not see each other as a threat and it would work towards reaching through dialogue a 'fair, reasonable and acceptable' solution to the boundary row.
Mukherjee and Yang are expected to review the progress in the boundary talks between the Special Representatives who have conducted 11 rounds of negotiations on the basis of Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for the settlement of the issue concluded in April 2005.
Enhancing trade between the two countries which has reached nearly US $ 40 billion and is targeted at US $ 60 billion by 2010, is also expected to figure as a key issue at the talks, as also the sharing of hydrological data on Brahmaputra river which rises on the Tibetan plateau.
Or, maybe you've known somebody like me. All I really needed was somebody to say, "It's okay to be who you are!" If you think you know someone in the closet, talk to them. You might be exactly what's needed permission to live truthfully!
Growing up, I spent most of my free time at church. I attended Vacation Bible School, went on mission trips, and talked shop with clergy. I studied the Bible like it was my job. I pored over it's pages, and it was a pretty big part of my family life: both my parents were church leaders, my oldest brother is a pastor, and another brother was a missionary. My childhood home was filled with conversations that revolved around scripture, so I know it like most people know a favorite movie.
Come out. Do it in spite of the people and circumstances that stand in your way, do it for the rest of us, and most importantly, do it because you deserve to be true to yourself! It's time! It's time to come out no matter what has been holding you back.
I lived this way for years. I knew intimately the world inside the covers of the Holy Bible, and I was firmly convicted that striving daily to be like Jesus was the only right way to live. I viewed people through a lens I believed that all those who had yet to believe in Jesus were in danger, and it was my job to share the Good News with them. I thought that the world was a closed circle and freedom through Jesus was everything else.
I would have continued in this life of faith, but something stood in my way. I felt I was neglecting a deeper part of me a visceral, uncontrollable desire. Then, something happened. I finally admitted a personal truth: I'm gay. In the same moment I came out to myself, I realized that my religion prevented me from living in the freedom of exploration, the excitement of curiosity, and the anticipation of answering some pretty tough questions. Religion was in fact the closed circle. I couldn't be gay and Christian. The two were at odds, and the effort to reconcile them was tearing me apart.
锘緽ut Then I Came Out
These beliefs defined my worldview and dictated how I navigated relationships. A good friend of mine once pulled me aside to tell me that my religion had become foul, and nobody wanted to be around me. At the same time, countless people recognized my dedication to Jesus, and asked me to teach classes and lead small groups.
Lastly, I need to apologize. I was wrong and annoyingly dogmatic. I am sorry that I used religion as a shield against homosexuality and to oppress others just like me.
I was more than a blind follower or a casual experimenter in faith. I was a deep seated convert and a wholehearted zealot I was a disciple of Jesus Christ.
So what? Why does anyone care?
This realization is still ongoing, and it hasn't always been easy. As a matter of fact, it has been a lengthy awakening that has so far taken around a decade.
I thought I was right, but now I can say that I have more to learn than anyone. I am so thankful to be living in a time when self discovery is applauded. It's becoming easier every single day, but for too many, the struggle is impossible to endure. Take heart! It's going to be okay because love always conquers!
Well, maybe you're like me. Religion can make your identity seem less than ideal even to the point where it's oppressive. Now that I'm outside the bubble of faith, I can look back and see how confining it was for me. Don't waste another minute. It's okay to be exactly who you are!
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