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Abide by PMMVY: Delhi High Court tells Centre, Delhi

The Delhi High Court has directed the Centre and the Delhi government to strictly abide by the terms of the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) and Janani Suraksha Yojana on a plea which sought the implementation of the National Food Security Act, 2013, in the slum cluster of Holambi Kalan area of the Capital.A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar also directed the Centre and Women and Child Development Department, the government of NCT” to ensure that the schemes are strictly and efficiently implemented and all the benefits thereunder are released to the beneficiaries”.The court’s direction comes on the plea which contended that pregnant and lactating women have been facing challenges in getting the cash assistance benefit under the Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY). It sought directions to the respondents to ensure the implementation of the grievance redressal mechanism under the statutory enactment.In its response, the Centre filed an affidavit explaining that the IGMSY for pregnant women and lactating mothers was launched in October 2010, on a pilot basis in 53 districts across the country.Initially, monetary benefit of Rs 4,000 was being disbursed under this scheme which was revised to Rs 6,000 with effect from July 5, 2013, with the enactment of the National Food Security Act, 2013. The scheme was implemented through the state governments and the Union Territories and the performance/proper implementation was directly linked to the governance of the state.”Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana stands substituted by Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) with effect from 1st January, 2017,” the affidavit stated.On the other hand, the government of NCT submitted that there were difficulties with regard to identification of the beneficiaries for want of details of the Aadhaar card and as a result thereof, the same was not linked with their bank accounts.

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‘Upcoming Panchayat polls in J&K on the insistence of BJP leadership’

The BJP, which is sharing power with PDP in Jammu and Kashmir, today claimed the upcoming panchayat and Urban Local Bodies (ULB) polls were being held in the state due to the insistence of its leadership.”The polls are being held due to the insistence of BJP leadership which continued to raise the issue of early elections at different forums,” BJP state spokesperson Anil Gupta said in a statement here.He appealed to the people to ignore the boycott called given by separatists and said that total integration with the democratic institutions of India was in the best interest of all Kashmiris.The conduct of the elections will be a big challenge for the state election authorities and I have full confidence in them that they would surmount all challenges, he said.Welcoming the statement by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti that the panchayat polls from February 15 would be followed by ULB elections, Gupta said these elections would lead to real decentralisation of power.The BJP-PDP government is committed to the devolution of democratic powers and financial resources to the panchayats and ULBs for realising its promise of holistic development, he said.”The sincerity of the BJP-PDP alliance in financial empowerment of the panchayats can be gauged from the fact that separate budgetary allocation for them is being made by the finance minister, a clear and welcome departure from the past,” he said.As far as the ULB elections are concerned, he said these were long overdue.The elections have not been held since 2005 where in (former Chief Ministers) Ghulam Nabi Azad and Omar Abdullah led coalition governments did not dare to hold polls due to political considerations depriving the state huge amount of funds from the Centre, he said.

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‘Udaan’ proves a boon to Chittorgarh’s tribal girls

The girls in tribal district of Chittorgarh, who either dropped out of mainstream education or failed to enroll due to social taboos, can now gain admission to schools — thanks to ‘Udaan’ programme.’Shiksha Chopal’, under the same programme, meanwhile, is proving a boon to government schools, helping it upgrade infrastructure on the lines of private schools through the funds being collected from rural folks.The administration holds ‘Shiksha Chopal’ at gram panchayat, organising education fair and speeches of meritorious girls, so that rural folks get motivated towards the education and also enroll their wards. Till date, 100 such chopals, held at panchayats, have got a whopping Rs 8 crore through crowd funding.”At these chopals, we hold education fair and speeches of meritorious girls. Seeing how education can change life through these activities, the rural people have started donating funds which we use for upgrading infra of the government schools. Till date Rs 8 crore have been collected from the people, of which we have spent Rs 3.5 crore already,” said Chittorgarh district Collector Inderjeet Singh, who launched the programme here.”Those who have come forward to contribute are no less than heroes,” said the Collector. “For instance, an 85-year-old person, impressed with programmes held at Shiksha Chopal, contributed Rs 35,000 which he arranged after withdrawing an FD (fixed deposit) before maturity,” he said.Shiksha Chopal is part of Udaan programme, which is aimed at ensuring that all girls in the district are enrolled in school on the lines of the Centre’s Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) scheme. This campaign aims at reducing dropout rates at upper primary and secondary levels, reinvigorating school management committees to enhance the girl child’s access to education. “Under the campaign, a door-to-door survey was conducted at the village level. We found nearly 25741 child, majorly girls, were out from school, out of which we got 22,448 (87%) enrolled,” said the Collector.CrowdfundingChittorgarh administr-ation has so far amassed Rs 8 crore by conducting chopals at panchayats. The money is contri-buted by the rural people after realising the benefits of education.

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Vidya Balan: It has to be something like Ijaazat with Shah Rukh Khan
Here’s how “well-behaved” Shashi Kapoor was different from Raj Kapoor & Shammi Kapoor, writes Shobhaa De
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Not just Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli: Here are other B-Town beauties who bowled over cricketing stars

Kargil martyr’s widow dies after Haryana hospital denies treatment without Aadhaar card, Centre orders probe

Widow of a Kargil martyr died in Haryana’s Sonipat after a private hospital allegedly denied her treatment in absence of Aadhaar Card, prompting the Centre to launch a probe into the matter. The son of the woman, Shakuntala Devi, alleged on Friday that he brought her ailing mother to the hospital for the treatment but the hospital refused to treat her as she did not have the original copy of the Aadhaar card.Shakuntala Devi was suffering from throat cancer and was also a heart patient. “With her condition worsening, my brother-in-law Ravinder Kumar and I took her to the ex-servicemen contributory health scheme (ECHS) hospital in Sonipat and got the referral slip for Tulip Hospital on Wednesday evening,” her son Pawan Kumar Balyan said. “I brought my mother in a serious condition to the hospital. They asked me to get the Aadhaar card, but I didn’t have it then so I showed them a copy in my phone. I said that I will get Aadhaar in an hour or so, meanwhile begin with the treatment but the hospital refused to do so,” he said.However, Tulip Hospital in Sonipat denied the allegation levelled by the victim’s son saying that the Aadhaar card was mandatory only for documentation process and not for treatment.”We never denied them treatment. Please note that he never got the patient to the hospital. We have never stopped any treatment due to Aadhaar card ever,” said a doctor at the hospital.She was the wife of Havaldar Laxman Dass who was posted with the 8th Jat Regiment in Muskoh valley near Kargil and died of bullet injuries during a gun battle with intruders on June 9, 1999, according to a Times of India report. Meanwhile, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Ashwini Kumar Choubey on Saturday said that a probe would be conducted by the ministry into the death.He added that all states were asked to implement the ‘Clinical Establishments Act’ to avoid such incidents in future.”The state government should take this matter seriously. Our ministry will conduct a probe into it. The Centre has also asked all states to implement ‘Clinical Establishments Act’ which will help us reduce such incidents,” Choubey said. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar also promised to punish the guilty. “I have received information about it. We will conduct an inquiry and punish those found guilty,” he told reporters on Saturday. (With ANI inputs)

Join the discussion<!–end of artlbotbor–>
Vidya Balan: It has to be something like Ijaazat with Shah Rukh Khan
Here’s how “well-behaved” Shashi Kapoor was different from Raj Kapoor & Shammi Kapoor, writes Shobhaa De
Bigg Boss 11: Shilpa Shinde rebukes Akash Dadlani for touching her inappropriately
“Stop behaving like Aaradhya,” says Amitabh Bachchan to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Watch viral video!
Bigg Boss 11: Hiten Tejwani gets evicted from Salman Khan’s show
Telugu actor Vijay Sai found dead in his apartment; Did he commit suicide?
Varun Dhawan buys a plush new apartment; girlfriend Natasha Dalal attends housewarming party
STOP spreading rumours! Deepika Padukone-Ranveer Singh’s special gift for Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli REVEALED!
Aditya Chopra is one of the first ones to know about Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli’s Wedding!
Will Alia Bhatt say yes to Priyanka Chopra?
Salman Khan cheers up teary-eyed Katrina Kaif during ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ promotions
Not just Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli: Here are other B-Town beauties who bowled over cricketing stars

Won’t align with ‘communal’ BJP, says Tamil Nadu minister

Days after losing late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s RK Nagar Assembly seat to their arch-rival TTV Dhinakaran, a senior AIADMK leader and Tamil Nadu minister, Sellur K Raju, on Thursday asserted that his party would never align with the “communal” BJP.Raju’s comments come in the wake of political observers crediting Dhinakaran’s victory to the AIADMK’s increasing proximity to the BJP since after Jayalalithaa’s death last year.”After Amma’s death, we continued our amicable relationship with the BJP government at the Centre. But the Centre’s policies like GST earned the wrath of the people. During the by-election campaign, Dhinakaran criticised the BJP government and it helped him get votes of minority Muslims who constitute 30 percent of the voters in RK Nagar. Hence, he won the bypoll,” Raju said while addressing a meeting of his party’s office bearers in Madurai.Raju, considered to be a close Dhinakaran aide, claimed that Jayalalithaa had told party leaders that she had made the mistake of joining an alliance with the BJP once, and that she would never want to repeat it. “Amma was very clear on not joining an alliance with communal forces. We will not deviate from her path. We will not align with communal forces again,” he said.Political observers felt that Dhinakaran, the nephew of jailed AIADMK leader VK Sasikala, was targeted by the Centre after his fallout with the ruling AIADMK. “He was arrested and imprisoned in Tihar for allegedly attempting to bride an unnamed Election Commission official. It was followed by IT raids. All these got him the sympathy of the party cadres, even as the AIADMK was getting closer with the BJP,” said Prof Ramu Manivannan, HoD, Political Science at University of MadrasMeanwhile, Tamil Nadu Assembly session will begin on January 8; the first time the Assembly meets after the disqualification of the 18 MLAs owing allegiance to Dhinakaran who will be sworn in by Speaker P Dhanapal on Friday.

Join the discussion<!–end of artlbotbor–>
Vidya Balan: It has to be something like Ijaazat with Shah Rukh Khan
Bigg Boss 11: Shilpa Shinde rebukes Akash Dadlani for touching her inappropriately
Bigg Boss 11: Hiten Tejwani gets evicted from Salman Khan’s show
Here’s how “well-behaved” Shashi Kapoor was different from Raj Kapoor & Shammi Kapoor, writes Shobhaa De
“Stop behaving like Aaradhya,” says Amitabh Bachchan to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Watch viral video!
Telugu actor Vijay Sai found dead in his apartment; Did he commit suicide?
Varun Dhawan buys a plush new apartment; girlfriend Natasha Dalal attends housewarming party
Aditya Chopra is one of the first ones to know about Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli’s Wedding!
STOP spreading rumours! Deepika Padukone-Ranveer Singh’s special gift for Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli REVEALED!
Salman Khan cheers up teary-eyed Katrina Kaif during ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ promotions
Not just Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli: Here are other B-Town beauties who bowled over cricketing stars
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Once again, monkeys are dubbed ‘vermin’ in Himachal Pradesh

The Centre has once again declared rhesus macaque monkeys as ‘vermin’ in ten districts of Himachal Pradesh, thus allowing the state forest department to cull them for preventing crop loss, conflict with humans, and property loss. The fresh notification, brought out by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), will be valid for an year and will be applicable only in non-forest areas.MoEF&CC had issued a similar notification in May 2016 that expired after one year. Himachal Pradesh forest department, though, did not cull a single monkey between 2016 and 2017, its senior officials told DNA. In Bihar and Uttarakhand, too, they had issued similar notifications, declaring nilgai and wild boars as vermins in the respective states.After the 2016 notification became void, Virbhadra Singh-led government sent a fresh proposal to the environment ministry seeking to declare monkeys as vermin again. The proposal was accepted after due appraisal, a ministry official said. The issue of crop losses caused by monkeys was also poll issue in the recent assembly elections. In their electoral campaigns both the Congress and the BJP had promised farmers of appropriate action.”We have issued a fresh notification, it is not an extension of the old one. Apart from Himachal Pradesh, Bihar had also sought renewal of the notification to declare Nilgai as vermin but their proposal has not been accepted. They are yet to provide impact studies. Uttarakhand has not sought any order to declare wild boars as vermin again,” said a senior ministry official on the condition of anonymity.When asked as to why the state government sought a fresh notification when no monkey was culled, GS Goraya, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, Head of Forest Force, Himachal Pradesh, said, “Though we did not cull any monkey, we reached out to farmers to create awareness and have succeeded to an extent in curbing the solid waste issue. Open dumping of food waste is the main attraction for monkeys.” He added, “Culling is also difficult as religious sentiments are attached with monkeys. Unless any Panchayat passed a resolution to cull monkeys, we do not want to cull them.”According to Goraya, of the total population of 2.5 lakh around 1.26 lakh monkeys have been sterilized since 2006, of which 50 per cent are females.Animal rights activist Gauri Maulekhi who had moved Supreme Court against the earlier orders of Centre, said, “Conflict with wild animals is a direct result of mismanagement of forests. The forest department has waste tens of crores of public funds on counterproductive sterilization and now they they want to kill the same sterilized monkeys.”ELSEWHEREIn Bihar and Uttarakhand, too, MoEF&CC had issued similar notifications, declaring nilgai and wild boars as vermin in the respective states.

Join the discussion<!–end of artlbotbor–>
Vidya Balan: It has to be something like Ijaazat with Shah Rukh Khan
Bigg Boss 11: Shilpa Shinde rebukes Akash Dadlani for touching her inappropriately
Bigg Boss 11: Hiten Tejwani gets evicted from Salman Khan’s show
Here’s how “well-behaved” Shashi Kapoor was different from Raj Kapoor & Shammi Kapoor, writes Shobhaa De
“Stop behaving like Aaradhya,” says Amitabh Bachchan to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Watch viral video!
Telugu actor Vijay Sai found dead in his apartment; Did he commit suicide?
Aditya Chopra is one of the first ones to know about Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli’s Wedding!
Varun Dhawan buys a plush new apartment; girlfriend Natasha Dalal attends housewarming party
STOP spreading rumours! Deepika Padukone-Ranveer Singh’s special gift for Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli REVEALED!
Salman Khan cheers up teary-eyed Katrina Kaif during ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ promotions
Not just Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli: Here are other B-Town beauties who bowled over cricketing stars
SHOCKING! ‘Wonder Woman’ Gal Gadot’s fake porn video goes viral, here’s what happened

Manipur: Civil society members meet PM Modi over Naga peace talks

Representatives of civil society organisations of Manipur on Thursday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking details of the Framework Agreement signed between Naga rebel group NSCN(IM) and the Centre.At a meeting this morning, an eight-member team apprised Modi that due to lack of transparency in the ongoing Naga peace talks, there have been apprehensions in Manipur over territorial integrity of the state, said a statement by the joint committee of the civil society bodies.These organisations include United Committee Manipur (UCM), All Manipur United Clubs Organisation (AMUCO) and Committee on Civil Societies Kangleipak (CCSK).The prime minister asked the members to have faith in Indian government and not to believe in hearsay, it added.Stating that the Centre till date has not made any announcements regarding the details of the Naga talks, Modi said that his government was always open to suggestions on various issues regarding the state, the statement said quoting the prime minister.He also asked the civil society representatives to apprise concerned officials whenever they have any suggestions or apprehensions, it added.In August 2015, the Centre and the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) faction had signed an agreement paving the way to end the country’s oldest insurgency.Termed as Framework Agreement it has, however, failed to yield a final outcome.Among others, NSCN(IM) has sought integration of Naga inhabited areas of the North East and autonomy of the proposed region. The demand affects Manipur as the state has vast areas inhabited by Nagas.During the meeting, Modi pointed out that Manipur is today among the most economically backward states in the North East due to violence and focus should be on growth and development to bring peace in the state, the statement said.

Join the discussion<!–end of artlbotbor–>
Vidya Balan: It has to be something like Ijaazat with Shah Rukh Khan
Bigg Boss 11: Shilpa Shinde rebukes Akash Dadlani for touching her inappropriately
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Here’s how “well-behaved” Shashi Kapoor was different from Raj Kapoor & Shammi Kapoor, writes Shobhaa De
“Stop behaving like Aaradhya,” says Amitabh Bachchan to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Watch viral video!
Telugu actor Vijay Sai found dead in his apartment; Did he commit suicide?
Aditya Chopra is one of the first ones to know about Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli’s Wedding!
Varun Dhawan buys a plush new apartment; girlfriend Natasha Dalal attends housewarming party
STOP spreading rumours! Deepika Padukone-Ranveer Singh’s special gift for Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli REVEALED!
Not just Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli: Here are other B-Town beauties who bowled over cricketing stars
Salman Khan cheers up teary-eyed Katrina Kaif during ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ promotions
SHOCKING! ‘Wonder Woman’ Gal Gadot’s fake porn video goes viral, here’s what happened

28 Air India pilots skipped alcohol test in 2017, govt informs Parliament

Twenty eight pilots and nine cabin crew of Air India skipped the mandatory alcohol test this year, the Centre informed parliament today.As part of the safety regulations of Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), all pilots and cabin crew must undergo the breath analyser (BA) test, before and after flights.”As on 21.12.2017, 28 pilots and 9 cabin crew have skipped the BA test,” Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said in response to a question in Lok Sabha.He said the license of these pilots and cabin crew were suspended for three months.Any crew member, who tests positive in the pre-flight medical check or refuses to take a breath analyser test, is taken off flying duty for at least four weeks, and the airline is required to initiate disciplinary proceedings, according to civil aviation rules.Air India was also involved in a controversy earlier this year when the DGCA warned that more than 500 of its pilots and crew could be grounded for skipping the alcohol test.Then Air India CMD Rajiv Bansal had written to the DGCA, requesting it to take a lenient view as he said that the airline management had misinterpreted the rules and had taken corrective measures.

Join the discussion<!–end of artlbotbor–>
Vidya Balan: It has to be something like Ijaazat with Shah Rukh Khan
Bigg Boss 11: Shilpa Shinde rebukes Akash Dadlani for touching her inappropriately
Bigg Boss 11: Hiten Tejwani gets evicted from Salman Khan’s show
Here’s how “well-behaved” Shashi Kapoor was different from Raj Kapoor & Shammi Kapoor, writes Shobhaa De
Telugu actor Vijay Sai found dead in his apartment; Did he commit suicide?
“Stop behaving like Aaradhya,” says Amitabh Bachchan to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Watch viral video!
Aditya Chopra is one of the first ones to know about Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli’s Wedding!
Varun Dhawan buys a plush new apartment; girlfriend Natasha Dalal attends housewarming party
STOP spreading rumours! Deepika Padukone-Ranveer Singh’s special gift for Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli REVEALED!
Not just Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli: Here are other B-Town beauties who bowled over cricketing stars
Salman Khan cheers up teary-eyed Katrina Kaif during ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ promotions
SHOCKING! ‘Wonder Woman’ Gal Gadot’s fake porn video goes viral, here’s what happened

Cyclone Ockhi: Central team visit parts of Chennai, Kanyakumari to assess damage

A Central team today visited parts of Chennai and Kanyakumari districts to assess the damage caused by torrential rains and cyclone Ockhi.While one group visited parts of Chennai and its neighbourhood, the otherheld discussions with fisherfolk in Kanyakumari, which was battered by Ockhi last month.Members of the fishing and farming communities expressed their grievances to the team members.Relatives of missing fishermen wanted the government to expedite search and rescue of the fishermen still missing in the aftermath of the cyclone.Revenue Secretary B Chandramohan told reporters here that the team will continue their survey of the affected areas in Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur till tomorrow.The officials will study the extent of damage to roads, infrastructure, loss of lives and areas that faced inundation during the downpour in these districts.It will later submit its report to the Centre, he added.The Central team, headed by Sanjeev Kumar Jindal, Joint Secretary in the Union Home Ministry, is likely to meet Chief Minister K Palaniswami tomorrow.The team members are drawn from various central ministries like Finance, Power and Water Resources, according to officials.The state government had sought a central relief package of about Rs 9,300 crore from Prime Minister Narendra Modi towards taking up rehabilitation efforts in cyclone-hit areas of the state, including Kanyakumari, during his visit to the district post-Ockhi.The state government had wanted the Centre to declare the cyclone as a “national disaster” on account of its “severity.”It sought Rs 5,255 crore assistance towards implementing permanent rehabilitation measures in Kanyakumari and another Rs 4,047 crore to cater to other parts of the state, including Chennai, affected by the north east monsoon.

Join the discussion<!–end of artlbotbor–>
Vidya Balan: It has to be something like Ijaazat with Shah Rukh Khan
Bigg Boss 11: Shilpa Shinde rebukes Akash Dadlani for touching her inappropriately
Bigg Boss 11: Hiten Tejwani gets evicted from Salman Khan’s show
Here’s how “well-behaved” Shashi Kapoor was different from Raj Kapoor & Shammi Kapoor, writes Shobhaa De
Telugu actor Vijay Sai found dead in his apartment; Did he commit suicide?
“Stop behaving like Aaradhya,” says Amitabh Bachchan to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Watch viral video!
Aditya Chopra is one of the first ones to know about Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli’s Wedding!
Varun Dhawan buys a plush new apartment; girlfriend Natasha Dalal attends housewarming party
STOP spreading rumours! Deepika Padukone-Ranveer Singh’s special gift for Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli REVEALED!
Not just Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli: Here are other B-Town beauties who bowled over cricketing stars
Salman Khan cheers up teary-eyed Katrina Kaif during ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ promotions
SHOCKING! ‘Wonder Woman’ Gal Gadot’s fake porn video goes viral, here’s what happened

Two weeks after showdown with Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Rajeev Dhawan retracts statements; to resume practice

Senior Supreme Court advocate Rajeev Dhawan has written to Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, retracting his statement that he would be giving up legal practice.The move comes two weeks after Dhawan said he would give up practice, following a showdown with Misra.Earlier, upset over a “humilitating” exchange in the Supreme Court between him and Misra during the hearing on Delhi Vs Centre on statehood case early this month, Dhavan, in a strong worded letter, had announced that he has given up court practice.In the letter, he said: “After the humiliating end to the Delhi (vs Centre) case, I have decided to give up court practice. You are entitled to take away the Senior Gown conferred on me, though I would like to keep it for memory and services rendered”.Two recent run-ins of Dhavan with the Chief Justice were widely reported in the media. During the Ayodhya case, Dhawan, Kapil Sibal, and Dushyant Dave pleaded that the Supreme Court defer hearing in the Babri-Ram Janambhoomi case until after the 2019 Lok Sabha election.Also read’After humiliating end to Delhi case,’ SC lawyer Rajeev Dhavan quits court practiceAccording to reports, Dhavan shouted at CJI Misra during the arguments. In another matter of Centre vs Delhi, Dhawan while representing the Arvind Kejriwal government, wanted to further a few more arguments even though Supreme Court had reserved its order in the case.After these two instances, CJI Misara said the trend of lawyers raising their voices showed their “inadequacy, incompetence and the fact that they are not even eligible to become seniors”.CJI Misra said: “If the Supreme Court Bar Association does not regulate such members, we will be forced to regulate them”.CJI further said: “When lawyers argue in a manner, not in tune with Constitutional language, we will tolerate it, but for how long? ”

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Glanders disease: 7 horses culled & buried

Six days after the confirmation of Glanders disease in seven equines in west Delhi, all infected animals were culled by giving injections and then buried at an open ground near the Sanjay Gandhi Animal Hospital on Wednesday.The horses had been in confinement since the confirmation of the disease and the entire west district was declared a ‘controlled’ area for the next three months, i.e. all animal movement to and from the district has been banned.”We gave high doses of anesthesia to the animals to put them to sleep. They were brought down peacefully and buried, following all necessary procedure. The affected animals in this case act as carriers and need to be culled,” said Dr Jitender Kumar Gaur, Director, Animal Husbandry, Delhi government.”The glanders bacteria, Burkholderia mallei, is a non-spore forming bacteria. So, burying the animals will not affect the soil or the people later on,” he added.With only a month to Republic Day, all horses in the city, including those belonging to the military, President’s guard, and police, are being tested for Glanders. Till Wednesday, samples from over 800 horses had been collected. There are nearly 3,000 horses in the city and all will be surveyed in the next nine days. All samples are being sent to the National Research Centre on Equines in Hisar, the only certified Government Laboratory for Glanders testing in the country.Glanders is a life-threatening equine disease that affects both the animal and its owner. Till date, it is known to have taken over 200 lives.

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Central govt in no hurry to push through Women’s Reservation Bill

Despite overwhelming numbers in the Lok Sabha, there seems to be no urgency by the Centre to seek passage of 108th Constitutional Amendment Bill or the Women Reservation legislation to reserve 33% seats in elected bodies for fairer sex.On Wednesday, Minister of State for Law and Justice, PP Chaudhary, ducked a question in Lok Sabha, saying the government was awaiting a consensus among all political parties to seek passage of this Bill. The proposed legislation was passed by the Upper House seven years ago. Since then it awaits the nod of the Lower House, where the ruling BJP and its allies have an overwhelming majority. The number of MPs from the SP, RJD, BSP, who had been opposing the Bill, has trickled down.The minister told the House that the government endeavoured “to provide for reservation of one-third seats for women in the House of the People and the State Legislative Assemblies”. However, he conveniently passed the buck and placed the onus of passing the Bill on consensus among all parties.Being a Constitution Amendment, it requires a special treatment for its passage — that is a majority of the total membership of the House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of the House present during the time of voting. A total of 63 women are MPs against 471 men. And women account for 21.6 per cent in the Cabinet — of the 37 members, only eight women hold various portfolios in the Lok Sabha, which means women representatives are at a mere 11.80 per cent.

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Ministerial panel’s report on Lokpal under examination: Govt

The government is still examining the recommendations of an inter-ministerial committee on the Lokpal act, two years after a parliamentary panel submitted its report on the proposed law, the Lok Sabha was informed today.The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 — that has provisions for establishment of a Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in states to look into cases of corruption against certain categories of public servants — came into force with effect from January 16, 2014.However, an amendment bill was moved in the Lok Sabha in December 2014 to remove certain difficulties in the operationalisation of the Act, Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.The bill was referred to the Department-Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice for examination and report.”The said Committee has submitted its report in the Parliament on December 7, 2015. The recommendations of the said Committee were presented before an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) comprising seven Union ministers. The recommendation of the IMC are under consideration of the government,” Singh said.

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Injured soldiers get new lease of life through prosthetics

In an unfortunate accident, where a high explosive bomb blasted prematurely during a field firing exercise its splinter went directly into the eye socket of Colonel (Rtd) Yashpal Jagia leaving him blind in the left eye way back in 1983. But now after 34 years, Col Jagia finally received an eye prosthesis at the Army Dental Centre in Delhi, known to carry out such processes.”The Armed Forces did not have customised eye prosthesis back then and the ones that were there did not match either the colour/size or shape of the other half of the organ,” said Col. Jagia. “I am glad that my left eye looks as good as the other eye now,” he added.Col Jagia is not the only one. This year alone, 67 new prosthesis which includes new artificial eyes, nose, ears and even skull bones were given to soldiers at this Centre.A total 265 Maxillofacial Prosthesis, rehabilitation of patients with defects or disabilities developed due to trauma or present by birth, have been performed in the last five years in the Prosthodontics Department of the Dental Centre. Out of total 50 Prosthodontists in the Military Services, the five specialists are at the Delhi Centre alone.”The cases we receive, directly from the conflict areas, are challenging where lives have been compromised. Prosthodontists work with various other departments from ENT, Psych, Plastics, to improve the quality of lives of our soldiers,” said Lt Col (Dr) Viswambaran Mandamparambil, Head of Department, Prosthodontics.”As a doctor, it moves me when these smart, young officers suddenly become handicapped,” he added.Artificial materials like Silicone, Acrylics, and Metals like Cobalt-Chromium are being used to provide the Prosthetic rehabilitation. The Centre has been receiving tertiary cases from all across the country, as no other Dental Centre provides this kind of prosthetics elsewhere. For instance, AFMC (Armed Forces Medical College), Pune, does not make prosthetic eyes and ears at their Centre; and they along with the AFIDS (Airforce Institute of Dental Sciences) and CMDC (Command Military Dental Centres) all refer their cases here.”Apart from the improved quality of life, we are also always working on giving a better experience. We are now working on digitalising the complete procedure and will be the first ones to do so. We will be using 3D scanning and printers for this process,” says Brigadier (Dr) Subrata Roy, Commandant, Army Dental Centre (Research and Referral).265 PARTS IN 5 YRSA total 265 Maxillofacial Prosthesis, rehabilitation of patients with defects or disabilities developed due to trauma or present by birth, have been performed in the last five years in the Prosthodontics Department of the Dental Centre Out of total 50 Prosthodontists in the Military Services, the five specialists are currently at this Delhi facility alone

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8% of GDP is spent on govt salaries

India spends a whopping Rs 10.18 trillion on the emoluments of government employees, both at the centre and in states, a staggering 8.15% of the country’s GDP.Taken against the backdrop of spending on education, health and defence, the figures show a large chunk of government budget goes into the salaries, pensions and allowances of government employees, leaving a trickle for social sector and development activities.A note submitted by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) to a parliamentary panel highlighted the fact that out of the total GDP of India amounting to 124.88 trillion, Rs 10.18 trillion is spent on paying salaries, etc.The Committee on Estimates chaired by veteran BJP leader Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, while reviewing the performance of all India services, found that a huge expenditure was met on wages, besides the expenditure on building infrastructure like offices and houses for bureaucracy, rather on delivery.The panel had actually asked the government to furnish details of total expenditure incurred on Indian Administrative Service (IAS) , Indian Police Service (IPS) and Indian Forest Service (IFS) officers posted at the Centre and in states and its share in the GDP. But the government while circumventing the request submitted an overall data related to all government employees without specifying services.The government in its presentation stated that there was no study at hand to suggest expenditures incurred on officers belonging to superior services. Taking exception to the fact that there was mechanism to find out the expenditure and its share in the GDP, the panel agreed that bureaucracy was fully committed to citizens and reflects hopes and aspirations, but said it should be held accountable for accomplishments, when it is being paid from the exchequer.According to figures, the salaries of 10 million central government employees account for 12.6% of the central government’s total expenditure. The government recently accepted the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission, doubling the minimum starting salary from the current Rs 7,000 per month to Rs 18,000 per month. The Commission’s recommendations added an extra 0.7% burden on the GDP and a yearly burden of 102,000 crore.The government also admitted that payment of salaries, wages and other allowances to government employees is the main element of Gross value added (GVA) — the total output and measure of the value of goods and services.

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Identify heroes of 1857, assist their kin, BJP MP tells Centre

In yet another attempt to change the popular perception of Indian history to suit the right wing, BJP MP from Uttar Pradesh Sharad Tripathi has claimed that freedom fighters from the anti-colonial uprising of 1857 were not well-known to the people, and has urged the Centre to identify them and extend benefits to their families.Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have long asserted that the uprising of 1857 — dubbed as the First War of Independence by none other than Sangh ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar — has not been given the pride of place in Indian history, and that the history has been dominated by Gandhi and Nehru under the ‘Congress-Left hegemony’.Balmukund Pandey, organising secretary of RSS’ history rewriting project Akhil Bharatiya Itihas Sankalan Yojana (ABISY), had earlier told DNA that it was conducting a research to find the national heroes who were missing from Indian history books. Several martyrs from 1857, such as Tantia Tope and Jhalkari Bai, figured in this list.Prime Minister Narendra Modi had raked up the issue at a Meerut rally in 2014 accusing the Congress of having ‘insulted’ martyrs by forgetting them.Tripathi too had earlier this year demanded in Parliament that a martyr’s gate be built in Delhi to honour freedom fighters who laid down their lives between 1857 and 1947.A list containing the names of such freedom fighters should be released by the government, he said adding that, so far there was no such authentic record. “While the names of Indian soldiers who fought the World War-II were inscribed by the British on India Gate, there is no such commemoration for the Indians who died for the country’s freedom from 1857 to 1947,” he said.In a similar push, RSS and BJP had in 2008 organised events to commemorate 150 years of 1857.More recently, RSS-affiliated historian Satish Chandra Mittal, associated with ABISY, had said in a seminar this year: “Instead of calling it a revolt, we should rather say it was a fight to protect the Indian culture.”Ironically, Savarkar had considered the Hindus-Muslims unity during the uprising as the cornerstone of Indian nationalism in his book ‘The Indian War of Independence 1857’ first published in 1909.”I believe that India’s fight for Independence began in 1857 led to the freedom in 1947. The government should do a study and recognise such heroes as martyrs. Their family members should be given benefits,” he said.

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Mamata Banerjee opposing Centre’s policies for the sake of opposing: Union Minister Meghwal

Replying to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s allegation that the Central government had dismissed Christmas as a national holiday without any logic, Union minister Arjun Ram Meghwal, during his visit to Kolkata on Monday said the allegation was baseless.“Our government would not take any decision on the basis of religion. It functions according to the provisions of the constitution of the country. Mamata is opposing to every policy of the Centre just for the sake of opposition,” he said interacting with media persons.On December 22, while inaugurating the Christmas Festival on Park Street, Mamata had questioned the intention behind cancellation of December 25 as a national holiday. She had also said that on two occasions the tableaux proposals from West Bengal during the Republic Day had been rejected by the Centre. Replying to that Meghwal said that the Central government had no hands in it. “These are baseless allegations. There is a committee to look into it to accept or reject such proposals. The government didn’t interfere into these day to day activities. We don’t do politics with everything. Next we will see that an NCC person comes up saying that he had not been selected and it was a conspiracy. Mamata herself is doing politics with this issue,” he added.Also readMamata Banerjee attacks Centre over no national holiday on Dec 25Talking about Mamata’s allegations regarding Centre freezing funds for welfare schemes, he said that in a meeting with the Centre and Chief Ministers of the state it was decided that the Centre-state share in most funds would be 60:40 and the on-going schemes would be completed as usual. “She was in the meeting too. Her government had failed to produce utilisation certificate for the funds allocated already by the Centre,” Meghwal said.Referring to the on-going protests against the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill, he said that under no circumstances would the depositors’ interests be hampered. “It is a good bill. We have to take care of the investors’ interest. The bill, at present is with the Select Committee which comprises members from all parties including hers. We are not against investors,” he said.Asked about the Triple Talaq issue he said that it was an attempt by the Centre to ensure equal rights for women. “Shouldn’t women’s rights be protected? The social security and right to equality of women is being looked into. We should welcome the move,” he said.

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BJP leader bats for those who were martyred in 1857 war of independence

A BJP Lok Sabha member has urged the Centre to identify those who fought for the country’s Independence since 1857, and give their family members monetary and other government benefits.Sharad Tripathi, an MP from Uttar Pradesh, said many of those who fought against the British rule in 1857, recognised by many as the country’s first war of Independence, are not known much among the masses.”I believe that India’s fight for Independence began in 1857 leading to the freedom in 1947. The government should do a study and recognise such heroes as martyrs. Their family members should be given benefits,” he told PTI.Earlier this year in Parliament, Tripathi had demanded that a martyrs gate be built in the national capital in the honour of freedom fighters who laid down their lives between 1857 and 1947.A list containing the names of such freedom fighters should be released by the government as currently, there is no such authentic record, he said.While the names of Indian soldiers who fought the World War-II were inscribed by the British on the India Gate, there is no such commemoration for the Indians who died for the country’s freedom from 1857 to 1947, he had said.

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Centre denies NDMA lacks direction

“It is not true. The NDMA is headed by the Prime Minister,” the Ministry of Home Affairs said in its response to the PIL. The ministry further informed a bench of acting chief justice Gita Mittal and justice C Hari Shankar that the rules provide that the chairperson may designate one of the members to be the vice-chairman of the authority. “At present, there are four members in the NDMA,” the reply filed by the Centre stated, adding that “weekly meetings were held regularly.””
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<!–end of artlbotbor–><!–end of artlsocl–>Written Bydna Correspondent <!–end of artlbotbor–>Monday 25 December 2017 3:52 ISTMust readCops’ neighbourhood watch schemes failed to uncover sex racketYogi Adityanath meets distressed homebuyers, promises quick action<!–end of artlmustredbx–><!–end of articllftpbx–>The Centre has refuted the claim made in a PIL that the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) members were working on their own, without any direction and coordination, due to vacant posts.The bench was hearing a PIL by a lawyer who claimed that several key posts, including that of the vice-chairperson and secretary of NDMA, were lying vacant for the last two years.“It is not true. The NDMA is headed by the Prime Minister,” the Ministry of Home Affairs said in its response to the PIL. The ministry further informed a bench of acting chief justice Gita Mittal and justice C Hari Shankar that the rules provide that the chairperson may designate one of the members to be the vice-chairman of the authority. “At present, there are four members in the NDMA,” the reply filed by the Centre stated, adding that “weekly meetings were held regularly.”

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MHA sends county-wide advisory to ensure peace during Christmas

The Centre has sent a country-wide advisory asking authorities to enhance vigil and security to ensure peace ahead of Christmas and New Year in lieu of threats in some areas against celebrating the festivals.In an advisory to all the states, the Union Home Ministry said there will be large gatherings in public places during the festivities and security needs to be tightened to ensure peace is not disrupted.The state administrations have been advised to take appropriate measures to ensure peaceful celebrations, including effective crowd control and maintenance of law and order.States have also been asked to deploy adequate forces in malls, religious places, markets, airports, railway stations, bus terminals, etc, so that any attempt to disrupt peace can be foiled, a Home Ministry official said.Home Minister Rajnath Singh had said on Saturday that steps should be taken to ensure law and order is maintained during Christmas celebrations and wished the nation on the occasion.”Any festival, whether it is Christmas, Ramzan, Holi or Diwali, should be celebrated without any problems.”Strict action would be taken if anyone tries to create ruckus during the festivals,” he had said.

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Real tribute to Guru Gobind Singh is to follow his path: Manmohan Singh

The real tribute to Guru Gobind Singh would be to follow his path of harmony, religious tolerance, peace and brotherhood, former prime minister Manmohan Singh said today.Speaking on the concluding day of Guru Gobind Singh’s 350th birth anniversary commemoration celebrations here, the senior Congress leader noted that the tenth Sikh Guru never discriminated against any religion, but respected all human beings, regardless of colour, caste and creed.The real tribute to Guru Gobind Singh would be to follow his path and bring an end to gender discrimination, he said.”As true Sikhs, we should not discriminate between men and women, and should provide equal opportunities of education to both genders, thus enabling them to become ideal citizens of the society,” Manmohan said.The former PM, accompanied by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, was addressing a gathering opposite the Keshgarh Sahib Gurdwara.Manmohan said the Sikh community was never in conflict with Islam and asserted that Guru Gobind Singh and other Sikh Gurus fought against social injustice by Mughal rulers and stood for human rights regardless of race, caste, religion or gender.The economist also sought people’s cooperation to stamp out the menace of drugs from the society.Also speaking at the event, Amarinder Singh announced the revival of Anandpur Sahib Urban Development Authority, along with his government’s decision to set up Skills University at Chamkaur Sahib in the name of Guru Gobind Singh.He said he would also request the Centre to declare Guru Gobind Singh Marg in Punjab and the rest of the country as a national highway.Underlining the Punjab government’s commitment to the upliftment of this holy place, the chief minister said the revival of Sri Anandpur Sahib Urban Development Authority would pave way for upgradation of its basic infrastructure and amenities.Former Union minister Preneet Kaur, AICC leaders Asha Kumari, Harish Chaudhary and Ambika Soni, state Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, PPCC president Sunil Jakhar, Speaker Punjab Vidhan Sabha and MLA Sri Anandpur Sahib Rana K P Singh, among others, were also present on the occasion.

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4 soldiers killed in Keri sector: Army says no mutilation of bodies

The Army today clarified that the bodies of its personnel killed in firing by Pakistani troops along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir were not mutilated and the injury marks were due to splinters and gunshots. An Army major and three soldiers were killed yesterday after Pakistani troops targeted the Army patrol at Brat Galla in Keri sector of Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district. “The injuries suffered are due to splinters and gunshots sustained due to firing by the enemy on the patrol,” Army sources said here. Responding to media reports, they said that there has been no mutilation of bodies.Congress slams govt’s Pak policy: The Congress today attacked the Centre over the killing of four Indian soldiers along the LoC by Pakistani troops, saying the incident raises questions over the government’s ability to protect the country’s borders.Also readArmy Major, 3 soldiers killed in Pak firing in Keri sector, J&K CM pays tribute Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said yesterday’s incident along the Line of Control (LoC) was an outcome of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “flip-flops and somersaults” on Pakistan. Pakistani troops opened fire on an Indian Army patrol, killing a Major and three soldiers in Keri sector of Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district, yesterday. Tewari claimed that there have been 900 attempts of incursion by Pakistan this year, out of which 780 cases have been reported along the LoC and 120 along the International Border (IB).”There were 583 major ceasefire violations in 2014 (between June-December), 400 in 2015, 450 in 2016 and 900 this year. The prime minister points fingers at others, accuses people who have occupied top posts of committing treason but this government seems incapable of protecting our borders,” the former union minister told reporters. Modi, during the Gujarat assembly polls campaign, had suggested that Pakistan was trying to influence the Assembly polls in the state.The government and the Congress are involved in a face- off over prime minister Modi’s ‘conspiracy with Pakistan’ remarks against his predecessor Manmohan Singh. Tewari said that the BJP government’s Pakistan policy is driven by “flip-flops, somersaults and adhocism” and demanded that the prime minister comes clear on his agenda behind his 2015 stopover in Lahore or the Centre’s decision to allow ISI personnel at the Pathankor terror attack site.He said India’s neighbourhood policy was in tatters under the BJP dispensation as apart from the “frequent” Pakistani shelling along the border and incursions, the new Nepalese government was overtly tilting towards China. “In Sri Lanka, growing Chinese influence is a matter of concern. Maldives has signed an FTA (Free Trade Agreement) with China disregarding India’s position. China has constructed permanent structures in Dokalam,” he said.

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Declare cyclone Ockhi a national calamity, probe mismanagement: MPs in Lok Sabha

The Congress on Friday said the Centre deployed only three National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams in Tamil Nadu and Kerala while seven teams were posted in Gujarat where there was no loss due to Cyclone Ockhi. Participating in the discussion on the disaster in the Lok Sabha, Congress members in the Lok Sabha demanded that the devastation caused by Ockhi should be declared a national calamity.Congress and Left members, especially from Kerala which bore the brunt, sought a probe into the alleged mismanagement, lack of coordination and other aspects of the disaster while also narrating the ordeal of death and destruction they had witnessed when the cyclone had hit the state.Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in his response said the Centre sent early warning to the state governments and that 18 ships of Indian Navy and Coast Guard are still looking for 275 people who are still missing at sea. Also readCyclone Ockhi: Centre to provide Rs 325 crore financial assistance to affected areas after PM Modi visit “Initial figure of missing persons was 433, now after return of some the number of missing remains 275. Even today, which is the 22nd day, 18 ships of Navy and Coast Guard are conducting search operations, Singh told the Lok Sabha. He also announced that the Centre is piloting some low-frequency transponders for fishermen who go into the deep sea.Also readCyclone Ockhi: 39 dead in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, 167 fishermen missingInitiating a discussion on natural calamities in various parts of the country, especially due to cyclone Ockhi in South India, Congress leader K C Venugopal sought putting in place a “functional” monitoring system and efforts to bring back hundreds of people who are still missing after cyclone Ockhi.The cyclone, which had hit coastal states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu on November 30, claimed several lives and caused widespread damage. A large number of fishermen are still missing.Also readCyclone Ockhi: Kerala govt says received IMD weather alert on Nov 30, Alphons says it came two days earlierHe sought to know the steps taken by the Centre so far and wondered whether it was “insensitive” on the issue. “Why is there a delay sending a central team” to Kerala, he asked.Venugopal, who represents Alappuzha constituency in Kerala, also urged the government to come out with a timely and comprehensive relief package for Kerala, where more than 75 people have been killed and hundreds of fishermen are missing in the wake of Ockhi.Stressing the need for strong coordination to bringing them back, he said there have been lapses on part of the authorities with regard to dealing with Ockhi and its aftermath. “We cannot accuse anybody for natural calamities but we could have taken precautions if we had early warnings,” he said, claiming that some officers have committed mistakes.Highlighting the plight of fishermen, he called for a “well functioning monitoring system” and emphasised the need for having a “specific alarm system” saying the people were alerted late about the cyclone.”This tragedy is an eye opener… it is time to think about the lives of fishermen,” he said, adding there has also been impact on the economy as they go into deep sea for many days together and at times are not even assured of income.Shashi Tharoor of the Congress, who represents Thiruvananthapuram constituency which was the most affected by the cyclone, said there was no early warning signal available to the state government, even when the radars to provide advance warnings were located in Kerala (Thumba) itself.He demanded immediate investigation into the lapses for gaps leading to loss of lives and properties.Since this is a “horrendous human tragedy”, Tharoor said the government should be sensitive in compensating states hit by this. Kerala Government has submitted Rs 7,348 crore compensation demand while Tamil Nadu about Rs 9,000 crore.”It is not compensation, we need some structural steps to be taken to mitigate loss” due to national calamity of such a magnitude, he said.P R Sundaram (AIADMK) asked the Centre to declare Ockhi a natural disaster, a demand shared by several members in the House. He also sought a naval base in Kanyakumari to help people more effectively in future cases of natural calamities.Nominated member Richard Hay claimed that the tragic aftermath of Ockhi could have been averted if the Kerala government had taken measured to warn fishermen in advance.When he claimed that the Centre had provided advance warning and relief later, CPI(M) members protested saying he was not aware of the ground realities.Parliamentary Affairs Ananth Kumar intervened to defend Hay, saying there was a feeling that India Meteorological Department had provided adequate advance to the state but fishermen were not warned.B Mahtab (BJD) said natural calamities were affecting his home state of Odisha frequently and asked the Centre to step up its assistance measures. He also demanded that pest attack on crops be declared a calamity.Arvind Sawant (Shiv Sena) said the government should focus on preventive measures and expressed concern over the impact of climate change.P Karunakaran (CPI-M) said the Centre should give Kerala a package of Rs 7348 crore and declare cyclone Ockhi a national calamity, a demand supported by N K Premchandramn (RSP) and Jose K Mani (KCP).Asking government to immediately decide on compensation, Saugata Roy (TMC) said there should be no delay. Government should also provide data on the fisherman killed and missing due to the calamity, he demanded.A P Jithender Reddy (TRS) raised the issue of vacancy of the top post in National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and said the post of the chairman has been lying vacant for 3 years and asked the government to fill it up urgently.R M Naidu (TDP) demanded sufficient compensation to be provided without delay, saying if support does not come at right time, it is like justice delayed justice denied. Claim settlement process should be simplified , he added.Md Faizal (NCP) also demanded shelters to be established for the affected people.(With PTI inputs)

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2G scam: Top leaders voice mixed reactions on social media

A number of top leaders expressed their opinion after a special CBI court acquitted A Raja and Kanimuzhi in the 2G Spectrum scam on Thursday.The court had acquitted the DMK leaders, citing lack of evidence. While several people hailed the verdict, others, such as Subramanian Swamy have asked the Centre to file a petition with the High Court.Here’s how people reactedEarlier in the day,a special CBI court on Thursday acquitted, who was the telecom minister in the first UPA government, along with DMK leader Kanimozhi and 17 others in the 2G spectrum allocation scam.The special court judge OP Saini pronounced his verdict as ‘not guilty’ for all accused due to lack of evidence.The case relates to alleged below-market-price sale of lucrative telecoms permits bundled with airwaves in 2008, which a federal auditor said may have cost the government as much as Rs 1.76 lakh crore in lost revenue. The scam came to light following a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India during the second term of the UPA government headed by Manmohan Singh.DMK working president MK Stalin has issued a statement after the 2G verdict. “The CBI court has given a historical verdict. The 2G case was filed in 2009. In the political history, the 2G case was foisted to defame and destroy DMK. It is a false case made up of goofed up figures. In such a case, the special court has acquitted all of them. We are very happy over the order. The court order proved that the DMK has not done anything wrong. I request the media to show the same enthusiasm of how it sensationalized the 2G scam when the case was filed. In the same way, you should take this news of acquittal to all the people,” he said. DMK’s RS Bharathi also hailed the CBI court’s verdict, saying that the case to begin with was a false case. “For the past 2 assembly elections, the case was used against us, now it has been proved to be wrong,” he added.

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Centre likely to table Triple Talaq Bill in Parliament today

The Centre is likely to introduce a bill on Triple Talaq in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had, on December 15, said that the Cabinet approved a proposal to introduce the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, to make instant triple talaq void and illegal.The Supreme Court, in August, by a majority of 3:2, had ruled that the practice of divorce through triple talaq among Muslims is “void”, “illegal” and “unconstitutional”.Once the law is made to make triple talaq an offence, the victims will have the option of approaching the police and the legal system for the redressal of their grievances and for action to be taken against the husband.Meanwhile, activists working for the rights of Muslim women hope that the Bill will further help stem instances of instant triple talaq (talaq-e-biddat).Also readMuslim bodies not consulted on triple talaq bill: Govt tells Parliament In fact they say, since the Supreme Court’s August verdict declaring instant triple talaq illegal and unconstitutional, the instances of such talaq have gone down.Noorjahan Deewan, a social worker who works with Muslim women in the city said since the verdict, they have received three such complaints. “In two of them we managed to convince the husband that instant talaq was not valid and they agreed. Unfortunately, in the third case the religious leaders and others too got involved and said the divorce was valid,” said Deewan.Also readCabinet approves bill making instant triple talaq criminal actShe said overall the number of complaints about triple talaq have gone down considerably after SC verdict. There has been considerable awareness among Muslims about what is acceptable and not acceptable form of divorce.”It is not that it has stopped completely, but earlier we would receive so many cases but now they have gone down. Earlier, not many knew of the divorce but now many realise that instant triple talaq is no more valid,” she said.Also readQuestions on triple talaq in BHU examsZakia Soman, founder of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) and a co-petitioner in the triple talaq case in SC, said the bill once passed will definitely act as a deterrent. But she fears it may not be enough. “The SC verdict was welcome but it did not lay out a procedure for divorce. The bill is yet to be made public but we want it to be just and fair. The wife should also have a say in divorce, maintenance and efforts to reconcile,” said Soman.(With input from ANI)

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LS passes bill which redefines bamboo, allows for its felling

The Lok Sabha, on Wednesday, passed the Indian Forest (Amendment) Bill, 2017, which will omit bamboo from the definition of trees and allow felling of bamboo grown in non-forest areas and transported without permits.The amendment will replace the Indian Forest (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, that was promulgated on November 23. The easing of transit process will allow for smooth interstate movement of bamboo, the Centre had said.The Bill was passed following nearly two hours of discussion which saw Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan explain the need for the amendment to the British-era Indian Forest Act, 1927 and parry apprehensions on its potential misuse.The chief contentions against the amendment were voiced by MPs from Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Revolutionary Socialist Party’s NK Premachandran and TRS MP Konda Vishveshwar Reddy.The MPs asked why the central government had hastily promulgated an ordinance on the issue when Parliament was scheduled to convene in December.They also raised issues regarding safeguards to check pilferage of bamboo on forest land. “If bamboo has been taken outside the purview of trees, how will it continue to be forest produce. My apprehension is that this move will be misused on forest land,” Premachandran said.

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Anti-smog gun does little to curb pollution in national capital; breathing difficulties continue

The Delhi government today sprayed water from an ‘anti-smog gun’ at the highly-polluted Anand Vihar area, but it had very little effect in containing the level of particulates, and they kept rising by the hour.The device sprays atomized water (tiny droplets of water) up to a height of 50 metres, creating artificial mist, which isin turn expected to stick to air-borne pollutants and bring them down to the ground.One such device was tested at Anand Vihar, near a pollution monitoring centre, in the presence of Environment Minister Imran Hussain and senior officials of the environment department.Hussain said the government will take a call on whether to use it elsewhere in the city after monitoring data collected by a team of Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC).Also readDelhi unveils new weapon against pollution, tests ‘anti-smog gun’ in Anand Vihar However, the real-time concentration of PM2.5 and PM10 at the Anand Vihar monitoring station of the DPCC increased from around 10 am, when the trial started.The hourly-readings of PM2.5, were 444, 421, 476, 509 and 460 between 10 am and 2 pm while the corresponding readings of PM10 were 630, 608, 736, 842 and 702 microgram per cubic metre (ug/m3).The 24-hour prescribed standards of these ultrafine pollutants, which trigger respiratory and cardiovascular issues, are 60 and 100 respectively.Interestingly, the pollution levels did not drop despite the fact that the water spraying from the device, which costs around Rs 20 lakh per unit, was largely centred around the DPCC monitoring station.Vivek Chattopadhyay, the program manager for Clean Air and Sustainable Mobility at the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), said the effect of such devices are limited by space and time.”The range of such devices are very limited. It affects, if at all, the air volume of the immediate surroundings of where the spraying is done. The effect diminishes after the spraying is stopped,” he said.Chattopadhyay said resources should instead be mobilised in tackling the sources of pollution by taking small yet more effective measures such as preventing open burning of garbage and scientific management of landfill sites.Anand Vihar, a densely populated commercial zone in east Delhi, remains severely polluted through the year due to the presence of a bus terminus, which is unpaved at many places, and its proximity to the Uttar Pradesh border where a large volume of trucks ply.

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Furore in Delhi High Court after cops assault lawyer

High voltage drama was witnessed in a courtroom at Delhi HC on Tuesday after the Bar Association members moved the court against the arrest and subsequent assault on a 60-year-old woman lawyer.The Delhi High Court Bar Association (DHCBA) members called for a strike after lunch, partially stalling the work, after lawyer Deepa Arya was arrested and allegedly assaulted on Monday, despite the additional public prosecutor’s (APP) assurance of not taking any coercive action against her.According to the plea filed by advocate Avadh Kaushik, Arya, who was in another advocate’s, R K Saini’s, house, was arrested and dragged out of the house.A bench of justices Siddharth Mridul and Deepa Sharma then directed the SHO, Paharganj, to give adequate protection to Arya. “In view of the gravity of the alleged incident, we find it appropriate to direct the SHO, Paharganj, to give adequate protection to Deepa Arya,” the court stated.During the course of hearing, the court expressed its concern regarding the incident and also noted that an FIR has been registered against Arya under Section 354 (D) of the IPC, which pertains to stalking. “How can you (police) lodge a stalking case against a woman? It cannot be done. This cannot be countenanced. We want the officers concerned here. We are not a banana republic. We want immediate action. If we permit the police to function in this manner, then God help us,” the bench stated.The court said it was “pained and disappointed” by the conduct of the police and added that if this was the practice followed in bailable offences, “then what would happen in non-bailable offences”. The DCP was also directed to keep in its custody all the relevant records pertaining to the FIR in question and the incident that took place on December 18, when the woman was dragged out of her house. The petitioner, who has about 35 years of experience as a lawyer, came to the court on a wheelchair as the concerned deputy commissioner of police, SHO, and the erring officials were called.The matter was urgently mentioned in the court of the acting chief justice, who then referred it to a bench of justices Siddharth Mridul and Deepa Sharma for hearing. After considering the matter, the court directed Romil Baniya, DCP (south), to conduct an inquiry and file an affidavit.Notices were issued to the Centre and the Delhi government, which were directed to file a status report, after both Anil Soni and Rahul Mehra, counsel for the Centre and Delhi government (criminal), assured that action would be taken against the officers involved. The matter has been listed for January 5.

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Centre defends Special Court move to try politicians

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley supported the Supreme Court’s recent direction to the Centre to set up special courts to deal with criminal cases involving legislators and politicians, as Opposition MPs raised concerns on “singling out” elected representatives.Jaitley said “Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion” and urged political parties to rise and set an example. As elected representatives, can lawmakers say that their trial should be delayed? he asked.”You are class apart… you are lawmakers. You should set the example,” he said, responding to Opposition parties led by the Congress and the Samajwadi Party on the issue.CM Ramesh from TDP also came out in support of fast-track courts. SP leader Naresh Agrawal was the first to express his concerns, stating that Article 14 of the Constitution provides for equality before the law, and that elected representatives are at par with other citizens.”While there are no special courts for criminals, setting up one for elected representatives would create misleading perception about politicians,” he said.He also questioned the government’s affidavit supporting setting up of fast-track courts.Congress leader Anand Sharma also joined in but clarified that there is no question of delaying prosecution of anyone. It would tantamount to profiling and excessive vilification of lawmakers if a perception is created that fast-track courts are needed for elected representatives alone, he said.The government, he said, should ensure that enough funds are allocated to set up enough courts for fast-track trial of all.”But singling out only elected representatives will create a public perception that would otherwise have an inherent potential of being abused by the government of the day,” he said.Majeed Memon from NCP said if a certain section is treated separately, it may be bordering on infringement of Article 14 of the Constitution that assures equality to all.Lawyer KTS Tulsi, a nominated member, asked who would do justice to undertrials languishing in jail for 10-15 years.Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (TMC) asked if the government would also set up special courts to prosecute those who have defrauded the country of Rs 8.5 lakh crore.Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said he would give a ruling on the point of order at an appropriate time.

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PM Narendra Modi visits Ockhi-affected Kanyakumari

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday met Cyclone Ockhi-affected fishermen and farmers in Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari district. He also chaired a a review meeting to take stock of the situation in the aftermath of the devastating natural disaster that left dead and several missing.After visiting cyclone-hit Lakshadweep in the morning, Modi reached Kanyakumari by an IAF helicopter from Thiruvananthapuram. Here, he was received by Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Chief Minister Edappadi K.Palaniswami, his Deputy O Panneerselvam and other senior officials.After the state officials made a presentation on the impact of the cyclone on the district, Modi interacted with around 25 fishermen representatives from eight coastal villages of Kanyakumari district and six parish priests, who also handed him a memorandum with 12 demands. They included widening the search operation for missing fishermen in the deep sea, satellite phones for fishermen, establishment of a naval base with helipad in the district and reservation for fishermen youth in the coast guard and Navy. Fr Andrews Cosmos, the vicar of Thoothoor Forane parish, who participated in the interaction with the PM and said that Modi gave a patient ear to the affected fishermen.However, according to some of the victims, the Prime Minister did not give any concrete assurance and simply said: “I will look into it”. When one Rebisha of Chinnathurai fishing village broke down into tears, talking of the loss of four men in her family – father, brother and two brother-in-laws — Mr Modi assured her that he would look into it.Twenty days after the cyclone hit the coastal district, as many as 350 fishermen are still missing with the families hoping that they would return to the shore before the Christmas if they are alive.Modi’s visit has come days after Congress president Rahul Gandhi visited cyclone-hit Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Lakshadweep. After the meeting, Palanisami who had presented two separate memorandums, said that he has asked the Centre to declare Cyclone Ockhi as a national disaster and sought a Rs 9,300 crore relief package.”We have requested the Prime Minister to set up a permanent Coast Guard station along with a helipad in Kanyakumari district. We also demanded setting up of a fishing harbour with cold storage facilities and a communication centre to transmit messages of weather warning to the fishermen,” he said.HC STEPS INThe Madras High Court directed the Centre and TN government to inform it about the fate of 551 fishermen from Kanyakumari reported missing. Justices R Subbiah and A D Jagadish Chandra ordered the two governments to submit their replies by December 22. Petitioner Anto Lenin submitted that thousands of fishermen had ventured into the sea on November 29-30 from Kanyakumari district when the cyclone hit southern Tamil Nadu and Kerala coast.

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MPs seek permanent solution to stubble burning in a bid to tackle dangerous air pollution

A permanent solution to stubble burning, which has been causing choking pollution in northern states, can be brought about at the cost of just 6 or 7 Rafale fighter jets, Congress leader Pratap Singh Bajwa said on Tuesday.Seeking immediate sanction of funds by the Centre to solve the problem, he said the NITI Aayog has projected that a permanent solution would cost around Rs 11,000 crore.Raising the issue of choking pollution from stuble burning in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh through a Zero Hour mention in the Rajya Sabha, Bajwa said this was just the cost of 6-7 Rafale jets.India is buying 36 Rafale fighters for about Rs 59,000 crore contract (7.87 billion euro) from France.He said pollution in the national capital has become a “national shame” and the government should urgently take steps to tackle it.Farmers, he said, needed support and should be given Rs 200 per quintal extra to get rid of crop residue in eco- friendly way. Farmers should be given financial support to stop stubble burning, he added.Vivek Gupta (TMC) wanted to know what steps the government has taken for the disposal of crop residue.Raising the issue of Cyclone Ockhi which has left a trail of destruction in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Lakshadweep, D Raja (CPI) said scores of fishermen are still missing.He demanded that the disaster be declared a national calamity and adequate financial assistance be given to the governments of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Union Terriroty of Lakshadweep.”Fishermen are passing through huge distress,” he said and demanded setting up of a separate ministry of fisheries to deal with issues of the fishermen.Harivansh (JD-U) sought steps to protect Jaiprakash Narayan’s village Sitab Diara in Saran on the UP-Bihar border from being flooded.

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Cyclone Ockhi | PM Modi holds meeting with officials in Lakshadweep

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today chaired a high-level meeting at Kavaratti in Lakshadweep to review the situation arising due to Cyclone Ockhi which left a trail of destruction in the Union Territory.PM Modi, who reached the island this morning, was received by top officials of the Lakshadweep administration and public representatives, including Lakshadweep MP Muhammed Faizal.”PM @narendramodi reviewed the situation arising due to #CycloneOckhi at a high-level meeting in Lakshadweep,” a tweet by the Prime Minister’s Office said.Earlier today, youngsters of Lakshadweep extended a warm welcome to the prime minister, it tweeted said.Besides, PM Modi will visit the cyclone-battered areas of Tamil Nadu and Kerala today.During his visit to the southern states, PM Modi will visit coastal Kanyakumari and Thiruvananthapuram where he will meet officials and public representatives as well as the cyclone victims, including the fishermen, and farmers’ delegations.Parts of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep were severely affected by the cyclone late last month and early this month.The prime minister has constantly been monitoring the situation arising out of the natural calamity in the southern parts of the country.A PMO statement had yesterday said the Centre released the second instalment from the State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) for Kerala and Tamil Nadu to supplement the efforts of these states in dealing with the situation.”During financial year 2017-18, the amounts of the central share of the SDRF to the governments of Kerala and Tamil Nadu were Rs 153 crore and Rs 561 crore respectively,” it had said.

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PM Modi to make whirlwind tour of Ockhi affected states on Tuesday

Prime Minister Narendra Modi would visit Lakshadweep,Tamil Nadu and Kerala on Tuesday to assess the damage caused by cyclone Ockhi, which left a trail of destruction in the two states and the Union Territory.The Prime Minister, on a one-day visit, would review the situation arising in the aftermath of the cyclone and status of relief operations at Kavaratti, Kanyakumari and Thiruvananthapuram, official sources said. Modi would fly to Agatti from Mangaluru at around 7.35 AM and leave for Kavratti. After nearly an hour’s programme, he would return to Agatti and fly to Thiruvananthapuram, official sources in Lakshadweep said. On reaching the state capital at around 1.50 PM, he would take a helicopter to Kanyakumari, where he will meet officials and assess the damage caused by the cyclone.The Prime Minister would also get a first hand report from the some of the affected fishermen, district officials at Kanyakumari told PTI. Modi would return to Thiruvananthapuram and visit Poonthura, a nearby fishing village from where some of the deceased fishermen hailed. The Prime Minister would then meet Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and some of his cabinet colleagues, including revenue minister E Chandrasekharan and Fisheries minister J Mercykutty at the Raj Bhavan, according to sources in the Chief Minister’s office.Chief Secretary K M Abraham would also give a presentation on the calamity and the devastation caused in coastal regions of the state capital, including Poonthura, Vizhinjam, Pozhiyur and Adimalithura. After the meeting,the Prime Minister will leave for Delhi.Also readCyclone Ockhi: Rahul Gandhi writes to PM Modi, seeks special package for Kerala, Tamil Nadu and LakshadweepThe Kerala Chief Minister had earlier met Union Home minister Rajnath Singh and sought central assistance of Rs 1,843 crore. The state also wanted the Centre to declare the devastation caused by the cyclone as a national disaster. According to government estimates, 70 persons have so far lost their lives in Kerala in the cyclone and around 105 persons are still missing.Meanwhile,search operations are continuing for the missing fishermen with the state government seeking support of local boat owners. The government has decided to extend the search operations up to Goan shores. The cyclone that hit the state on November 29-30 had also caused large-scale damage to crops and property.

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Gujarat Elections 2017: Congress tried to sow seeds of casteism, people rejected it, says PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today accused the Congress of trying to sow the seeds of casteism in Gujarat in its “hunger for power”, asserting that the BJP’s win in the Assembly elections had underlined the people’s acceptance of his government’s reforms.Addressing BJP workers at the party headquarters here, he was unsparing in his attack on the Congress and critics who, he said, could not accept his party’s victory in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.He also returned to his plank of development and pitched for social harmony in his home state, which had seen several caste agitations in the run up to the Assembly polls, saying that the people should forget the past and embrace each other.Also readAssembly Elections 2017: Gujarat, HP results lesson to parties indulging in caste-politics and dynasty, says Amit ShahAn atmosphere for development had been created after the BJP took power at the Centre in May 2014, he said, adding that nobody should derail it as his “decisive” government was working overtime to strengthen cooperative federalism and had clean intentions.With the BJP — which recorded its sixth straight victory in Assembly elections in Gujarat — drawing its lowest tally this year, Modi said the victory this time was not ‘samanya’ (normal) but ‘asamanya’ (especial).Also readFrom PM Narendra Modi to Jignesh Mevani: Who said what after BJP’s narrow Gujarat winModi, who was the chief minister of Gujarat from 2001 before he became the prime minister in May, 2014, said attempts were made to “demoralise” the state BJP leadership after he moved to the Centre.Referring to the just-concluded Gujarat poll, he said the state government was attacked from all sides and there was a “storm of disinformation”.Also readStop trying to derail India from path of development: PM Modi’s top quotes after saffron sweep “The Congress might be visible on the ground but there were many forces at work beside it. ‘Bring down the BJP once’. All sorts of conspiracies were hatched,” Modi said.There could be anger over the issue of development but some were making fun of it, he said, apparently targeting the Congress and Patidar leader Hardik Patel, who had run a campaign with the meme “development has gone mad” to attack the BJP.The state was rife with the “poison of casteism” until 30 years ago, he said, referring to Congress rule in Gujarat, and added that BJP governments and leaders worked to remove it.”In their hunger for power, some people tried to sow the seeds of casteim in the last few months for the elections. The people rejected it,” he said.He asked the people of his state to be more vigilant.Referring to his party’s win in Uttar Pradesh and the Maharashtra local polls, followed by the victories in the two Assembly polls, Modi said the results proved that the people were ready for reforms and embraced performance for the transformation of the country.Development is the only solution to people’s problems, he said, asserting that India would have to scale new heights of development if it was to do well globally.The BJP’s win in Himachal was also a vote for development and rejection of those who used power for the “wrong” things, he said.He ended his address with a rousing slogan. “Jitega bhai, jitega…(who will be victorious),” he asked the workers. “Vikas (development),” they replied in unison, as exhorted by Modi.

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Too early to comment on GST collections, says govt

The government has said that it is too early to comment on GST collections, which slipped about 10 per cent in November – over the previous month – to Rs 85,931 crore.As per the information provided by the finance ministry to the Lok Sabha on Friday, as many as 33.2 lakh new taxpayers have registered themselves under GST till December 11 from the day of roll out on July 1.”It is too early to comment on the changes in the tax collection as a result of changes in the tax base because of factors like overlap of taxpayers pre and post introduction of GST, variation in exemption limits between Centre and States and among States and mechanism of apportionment of fund under IGST,” Minister of State for Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla said in a written reply to a question.He also informed that total number of tax payers who migrated from pre-GST regime was 64.12 lakh as on December 11.The GST collection was Rs 95,132 crore in October. It was over Rs 93,000 crore in September as well as August.In reply to another question, Shukla said that the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) has been smooth so far.The GST Council, he added, had made some changes in the new tax regime based on the representations from stakeholders.

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Himachal Assembly Election 2017: What cost Congress the elections

The results are out and the BJP has clinched Himachal Pradesh, primarily due to the anti-incumbency wave.The state witnessed a record voter turnout at 74.61%. Around 49.05 lakh voters chose 338 candidates for 68 Assembly seats. Going by trends, the BJP is expected to win 44 out of the 68 seats – a clear majority.Corruption was the main focus of the BJP campaign with the party training its guns at Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh. In 2015, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had filed a disproportionate assets case against Singh and carried out raids at 11 places in the state, including at his residence in Shimla, and in Delhi.The developments came on a day when Singh’s daughter was getting married.The sources said it is alleged that he got an unexplained income of Rs 6.1 crore during the period 2009-11 when he was serving as the Minister of Steel in the UPA Government, the sources said. They said it is alleged that Singh while serving as the Union Minister invested Rs 6.1 crore in life insurance policies in his and his family members’ name through LIC agent Chauhan.Two years earlier, when UPA II was still at the Centre, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who was at the time the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, had written to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh making various corruption allegations against the Himachal Chief Minister including that he received pay offs of over Rs two crore from a private steel firm during his tenure as Union Steel Minister.During the Assembly election campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday attacked the Congress for promising “zero tolerance” on corruption when its own chief minister was facing allegations of graft and said the state’s ruling party had become a “laughing club”. Addressing an election rally in Kangra, PM Modi said it was time to rid “Devbhoomi”, or the land of the gods as Himachal Pradesh is known, of monsters. Chief minister Virabhadra Singh, Modi said, was “out on bail” on graft charges.Also readElection Results: Will form govt in both Himachal and Gujarat with clear majority, says Rajnath SinghLAW AND ORDER PROBLEMThe corruption allegations are just the beginning for the Congress government. The gang-rape and murder of a minor girl sent shock-waves across the country and the opposition BJP slammed the government for failing to maintain law and order in the state. The matter got out of hand after the CBI took over the case and even arrested a top cop after one of the accused, who was arrested, was killed, allegedly while in police custody.In September 2016, the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, and the current CM candidate for BJP Prem Kumar Dhumal said that according to National Crime Record Bureau in 2012, Himachal Pradesh was ranked 20th in terms of crime rate and now in the last four years, the state has been ranked 15th in the country which shows crime rate has increased under the government’s regime.HEALTHWhile Himachal Pradesh has ranked well when it comes to its public health system (500 primary healthcare centres, 78 community health centres), 75 allopathic dispensaries and hospitals, and 141 beds for 1,00,000 patients in government hospitals), there have been incidences of epidemic s breaking out.In 2016, the state was plagued with scrub typhus in which 700 people were affected, and 20 people died. Scrub typhus, which is caused by a group of microorganisms called rickettsiae, is usually transmitted by mites that are found in the shrubs in hilly areas. It can also be transmitted by lice, ticks and fleas. It may progress on to respiratory distress, pneumonitis (inflammation of lung tissue), encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), kidney failure and then multi-organ failure. If untreated, it can kill.While Himachal Pradesh has also adhered to the Centre’s ‘Eradicate tuberculosis’ mission, and given itself a 2023 deadline, one of the primary concerns that has been raised is the amount of money shelled out by the state’s citizens for public healthcare. While the government spends Rs 2,000 per person per year in the state, households are expected to pay Rs 2,274, as per data provided by the National Health Accounts 2014-15.There are several other factors that cost the Congress, but these factors certainly played a role in the party’s defeat. In 2014, BJP played the corruption and development card and people played heed to oust UPA II. The same game was played in Himachal and the results speak for themselves.

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BJP leaders meet in WB ahead of bypolls

A day after Trinamool Congress’ youth wing president Abhishek Banerjee lashed out at BJP at Sabang in West Midnapore, ahead of bypolls on December 21, BJP state president Dilip Ghosh and BJP MP and Union minister Babul Supriyo along with others conducted a meeting on Sunday at Sabang.At the meeting, Ghosh accused the Mamata Banerjee-led government of indulging in politics of appeasement and alleged that there had been no development at Sabang and that it had been given step-motherly treatment by the state.”The TMC government had not done any development here in spite of the Central government sanctioning Rs 678 crore to build canals to help prevent floods. It is just a huge scam. The canals have been dug haphazardly,” Ghosh said, adding that most of the money had been re-routed to the party fund.He also said that Sabang was famous for its mats but Mamata did nothing to ensure the development of that art. Referring to the role of Manas Bhuniya, who had been a Congress MLA since 1982 before defecting to the TMC, he accused him of being an opportunist who switched over for his own personal interest.”So far, there has only been politics of corruption, violence and opportunists who overlooked the interest of the common people by depriving them of basic facilities. There needs to be a change to be brought about here,” he said.Supriyo reiterated that Mamata had been claiming all the credits of providing rice at Rs 2 per kg to the common people but in effect Food Corporation of India (FCI) was buying the rice at Rs 33 per kg of which, the Centre was providing Rs 29.67 per kg, the state was paying Re 1 per kg and consumers were paying Rs 2 per kg for the rice. He also alleged that corruption galore in the TMC government in the implementation of the Centre’s Swachh Bharat mission.

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Gujarat elections 2017: Will Congress’s Patidar gambit yield electoral results in Guj?

When Congress announced its intent to provide quota to Patidar community in poll-bound Gujarat this month, many wondered whether the party was back to committing the same mistake that it had committed in Maharashtra, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in past polls.If what all exit polls suggested about BJP’s win in Gujarat, it is clear that Congress quota gambit has once again not paid rich dividends.Like its past promises to provide reservation to Marathas in Maharastra and Jaat in Haryana failed to yield much electoral gains to it in 2014 Lok Sabha poll, even the quota promise to Patidars seem to have led to a kind of counter polarisation among the reserved classes.Releasing party manifesto in Ahmedabad on December 4, Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki, announced reservation in jobs and education to Patidars under a special category. It said that a special bill will be brought to provide quotas to those who are not presently entitled by quota and the quota given to OBCs, STs, SCs will not be touched. Congress said that Patidars will get quota under special category.Congress said that if it won the Gujarat elections, it would pass a proposal for reservations under Articles 31-C and 46 of the Constitution.”We will consult all stakeholders on reservation to Patidars and a commission will be constituted for this purpose,” Solanki said adding that a bill will be introduced in the assembly.Hardik Patel accepted the formula, elating Congress leaders. Votes of Patidars could have influenced results in more than 60 of 182 Assembly constituencies. If the exit polls are correct, then this did not happen. Possibly it also led to a kind of polarisation for BJP among OBCs. It should not be forgotten that though Hardik and Alpesh Thakor, both backed Congress, Alpesh has risen in stature, countering the former’s agitation for reservation for Patidars.BJP is learnt to have worked seriously on the sizeable Koli community among OBCs to offset the losses from its erstwhile core vote Patidars going towards the Congress. A few months before Lok Sabha poll, the Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra granted reservation benefits to the dominant Maratha caste there. It had announced to provide 16 percent to reservation to Maratha to five percent to Muslims in jobs and education.Amid the raging demand for Jaat reservation in Haryana, the Manmohan Singh government at the Centre then announced quota to the dominant peasant community in nine states. While both the measures could not stand legal scrutiny, the move also failed to bring any electoral gains to Congress. BJP not only romped home in both states in Lok Sabha elections but also won with huge margins in subsequent assembly elections there in 2015, replacing the Congress-NCP and Congress government in both states. In the Jaat dominated regions of North India, Congress stands marginalised.Many Congress leaders in private argue that such quota promises proved counter productive.POWER OF PATIDAR?Votes of Patidars could have influenced results in more than 60 of 182 Assembly constituencies. If the exit polls are correct, then this did not happen. Possibly it also led to a kind of polarisation for BJP among OBCs. It should not be forgotten that though Hardik and Alpesh Thakor, both backed Congress, Alpesh has risen in stature.

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DTC loses Rs 9 crore monthly due to heavy road congestion

The Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) loses around 5,000 trips every day due to congestion and encroachments on roads, leading to a monthly loss of about Rs 9 crore. The national Capital’s public transporter is under fire from different quarters over its depleting fleet of buses and operational inefficiency.”We lose 5,000 of the scheduled 38,000 trips per day because our buses get stuck in traffic jams due to congestion and encroachments on the roads,” a senior DTC officer said.The financially ailing transport body runs a fleet of around 3,800 buses in the national Capital. “The daily earnings of the DTC come to around Rs 2.5 crore. We incur a loss of Rs 30 lakh per day due to the missed trips,” he said.Also read35% dip in DTC bus travellers: Centre for Science and Environment”Most parts of Trans-Yamuna like Shahdara, Silampur and border areas like Kapashera and Nangloi are heavily congested due to unauthorised encroachments,” the official added.According to a recent a report prepared by an NGO, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), the daily average ridership of the DTC has declined by over 35 per cent between 2012-13 and 2016.Also read’They are great nuisance, create noise,’ NGT raps DTC for poor maintainence of buses”The daily average ridership of the DTC went down from 47 lakh in 2012-13 to 30 lakh by the end of 2016,” said the report, which was based on the data available till November 2016.The report also highlighted the failure of the state government in launching the new fleet of DTC buses.”The DTC bought new buses in 2011-12. There has been almost no addition to the fleet in the past five years. If no new buses are added now, the entire fleet will get nearly phased out by 2025,” said the report.The DTC is currently operating 3,800 buses while the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal System (DIMTS) runs around 1,600 buses under the Cluster Scheme. “There is a shortage of 5,000-10,000 buses based on various estimates and judicial mandates,” it cited.The Delhi government has started the process for procurement of 1,000 buses each for the DTC and Cluster Scheme. The report suggested for speeding up the process.”Bus procurement needs to be undertaken on a war footing to meet the target of 10,000-11,000 buses.”A fiscal strategy needs to be developed for the DTC, aiming at the reduction of costs, augmentation of fare and non-fare revenue and phasing of interest payments,” the report added.

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Over 3 lakh applications received for next year’s Haj, draw in January 2nd week

The draw of lots for next year’s Haj will be conducted in the second week of January with more than 3 lakh people applying for the pilgrimage through the the Haj Committee of India till now, a senior official said today. Out of the applications, over 1,000 applicants are women who hope to go on the pilgrimage without a ‘Mehram’. The Centre has for the first time decided to allow women pilgrims over the age of 45 to undertake the pilgrimage in groups of at least four sans ‘Mehram’. The term Mehram refers to a male, a woman cannot marry in her life (i.e. father, brother or son etc). Till now, women pilgrims would be required to be accompanied by ‘Mehram’ during the annual pilgrimage. “India and Saudi Arabia will sign an agreement related to Haj on January 15,” Chief Executive Office of the Haj committee Maqsood Ahmed Khan told PTI Bhasha. He said the committee will push for raising the Haj quota. At present, India has a quota of 1.7 lakh pilgrims. This will be the first Haj under the new Haj policy. Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi will visit Saudi Arabia on January 7 to sign an agreement on issues related to Haj. Talking about the draw of lots, Khan said this time more transparency will be maintained so that first timers can get a chance to go on the pilgrimage. People often complain about lack of transparency in the draw due to which several people get many chances to go for the pilgrimage while some do not get even a single chance. The draw will be conducted between January 8-15, he said. More than three lakh people have applied for the pilgrimage till Friday evening, he said. The last day to apply for the pilgrimage has been extended to December 22 from December 7.

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Is sexual violence due to moral curbs, asks Madras High Court

Madras High Court has asked the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government to explore the possibility of providing gadgets to women to prevent sexual violence which is on the rise even after stringent laws were brought in after the Nirbhaya incident.Seeking urgent measures to stop crime against women and girls, Justice N Kirubakaran has raised several queries to be answered by the Union and the state governments as well as the National Commission for Women (NCW).”Sexual assault is a violation of privacy, dignity, and honour causing a permanent scar and continuous agony in the mind of the victim,” Justice Kirubakaran said while dismissing a bail plea of a duo accused in the rape-and-murder of a 60-year-old woman.He involved the Centre and NCW in the case and directed them to file response to his queries. He has asked whether the spurt in sexual violence against women is a result of a fall in sex ratio or due to ‘sex starvation’ among Indian men in view of various cultural and moral curbs. He has also asked whether alcoholism has any role to play in this.Noting that sexual assaults on women continued unabated despite stringent laws brought in after the December 16 Delhi gangrape incident, he said the offences have to be analysed and examined from psychological and sociological angles. The judge sought the response of the governments on his queries by January 10, 2018.He also asked if the rise in sex crimes was due to easy accessibility of pornographic content through internet.The judge said culprits in sexual violence could neither be termed as ‘human beings’ nor as ‘animals’ as even animals were noble in their own way.SEEKING ANSWERSMadras HC asked the Centre, state, and NCW to cite reasons behind rise in crime against women. Response to be submitted by January 10, 2018.

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Sonia Gandhi and the unexpected rise and stunning fall of Congress

Sonia Gandhi, who today handed over the reins of the Congress to her son, Rahul Gandhi, was once seen as an unlikely heir to the Gandhi political legacy, but crowned her innings by becoming the longest serving president of India’s grand old party.Her exit was as subdued as her entry was spirited.”I am going to retire,” the 71-year-old Member of Parliament told reporters yesterday, sending party leaders into a tizzy and hastening to explain that she was not quitting politics. But Indira Gandhi’s daughter-in-law is known to spring surprises. If her successor was often described as the reluctant heir of the family, she was even more loath to take up a political role.Legend has it that when Congress leaders pressed Rajiv Gandhi to occupy the prime minister’s chair after the assassination of his mother Indira Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi begged him not to, fearful about her family’s safety. Seven years later, when he was killed, she turned away when party leaders urged her to lead the Congress. Also readPM taking us back to medieval times, says Congress President Rahul Gandhi It was another seven years later, when the party was in tatters at the Centre and in power only in four states, that she agreed to pick up the reins of the party. She was persuaded to do so after senior leaders left the Congress and set up their own regional outfits. When the Congress was in shambles, Sonia Gandhi — described by sections of the media as the most powerful woman in India — steered it to victory in 2004, ousting the NDA.That wasn’t all. When it appeared that she would occupy the highest office in South Block, she told the surprised media that she had chosen Manmohan Singh as the prime minister of the United Progressive Alliance government.Also readHimanta Biswa Sarma congratulates Rahul’s elevation; says will continue to have political contests with himToday, party leaders look back at her presidency with pride, hailing unity and strength as the hallmarks of her record breaking 19-year tenure. Sonia Gandhi took a back seat after several rounds of illness recently, for which she had be hospitalised. Also readSonia Gandhi’s emotional message to party as Rahul Gandhi becomes Congress chiefShe exits active Congress politics on a high note and as one of the tallest leaders of the party in recent years. Sonia Gandhi’s sharpest weapon was her silence. She spoke little, and seldom in public, but wielded enormous power in the Congress. In cotton saris that reminded old-timers of her mother- in-law, she has over the years addressed public rallies in her accented Hindi, suitably blunting the opposition BJP’s campaign against her Italian roots.Under her stewardship, the Congress led the Centre for two terms from 2004 to 2014 and returned to power in a host of states. The then party president achieved this by successfully stitching electoral alliance with like-minded parties. UPA-1 and UPA II were fine examples of Sonia Gandhi’s ability to bring non-BJP forces together. Her prediction of the Congress returning at the Centre on its own, made at the party’s Pachmarhi conference, never came true though. That said, Gandhi braved tremendous odds to earn her place in Indian politics, as she conquered the limitations of language and her foreign origin to win the hearts of people. Born to Italian parents in Lusiana, Vicenza (Italy), on December 9, 1946, Gandhi met Rajiv Gandhi in England where she was studying. The young language student and the son of then Indian prime minister were married 1968. Contemporary history recalls how she cradled her mother- in-law’s body after she was gunned down by her bodyguards, and later tried to persuade her husband not to take up the prime minister’s post. After Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination in May, 1991, she shunned active politics, but after repeated cajoling by Congress leaders took the primary membership of Congress in 1997. Amid consequent widespread demands from rank and file to lead a shaky party, she entered public life in 1998, a move that was widely and loudly welcomed in the party. She was first elected as an MP from Amethi in 1999, following which she became the Leader of the Opposition in the Lower House. She later shifted to Rae Bareli to accommodate her son in Amethi.In 2004, she led the electoral campaign of her party which secured the largest number of seats and formed a coalition government. When she nominated Singh as the prime minister, her standing went up by several notches. Her supporters called it an act of sacrifice while some saw it as a political masterstroke.Gandhi, however, continued to wield power in the party as the chairperson of the UPA and the leader of the Congress party in Parliament, leading its strategy inside and outside the Houses. She also introduced the concept of National Advisory Council (NAC), a forum that made periodic recommendations to the government and often dubbed as a “dual power centre” by the opposition. As its chairperson, Gandhi took up issues related to environment, gender, empowerment of the disadvantaged and right to information. At a personal level, Sonia Gandhi has authored two books on her husband, Rajiv and Rajiv’s World, and has edited two volumes of letters exchanged between Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi. Her other interests include reading, Indian art — contemporary, classical as well as tribal — handlooms and handicrafts and music. She has a diploma in conservation of oil paintings from the National Museum in New Delhi. While she may find time to pursue her passions now, her son is set for tough times with the Congress at a historic electoral low in its entire history. In power only in five states now, and facing difficult elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the Congress, everyone agrees, is facing its worst existential crisis ever. Congress leaders feel that she will continue to play the role of a mentor to the party for times to come. She may also continue as the chairperson of the Congress Parliamentary party and the UPA alliance. As a Congress leader says, “Even now, Rahul Gandhi is bound to consult his mother on every important party related decision he takes.”

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Indian citizenship: SC says claims of left out persons to be included in subsequent NRC for Assam

The Supreme Court today said that claims of those citizens, whose names do not figure in the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) for Assam to be published by December 31, would be scrutinised and included in the subsequent list, if found genuine.The top court made it clear that publication of draft NRC was not the “end of the process” and claims and objections of aggrieved parties could be filed and would be verified in accordance with law.”We reiterate the aforesaid observation meaning thereby that the claims/cases of the left out applicants whose names are not included in the draft NRC to be published on or before December 31, 2017 will be scrutinised and thereafter, if found eligible, would be included in the subsequent draft NRC,” a bench comprising justices Ranjan Gogoi and R F Nariman said.The bench gave the liberty to Assam to give wide publicity or coverage to its direction so as to ally all fears and apprehensions that may exist.The apex court had on November 30 said that on the expiry of midnight of December 31, the draft NRC pertaining to 2.38 crore claims, would be published. The NRC is being prepared to identify illegal migrants in Assam.The court had observed this while rejecting the Centre’s plea seeking extension of time for publication of the draft NRC.The NRC of 1951 is being updated for Assam in accordance with the tripartite agreement between the state and central governments and the All Assam Students Union (AASU), which was arrived at in 2005 to implement the 1985 Assam Accord.

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Centre should have consulted Muslims on triple talaq law, says AIMPLB

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) said on Friday that the Centre should have consulted Muslims before it approved a draft law under which the practice of instant triple talaq would be made illegal and would attract a three year jail term for the offending husband.Before approving the draft law the Centre should have consulted the Muslim community, and also the experts, AIMPLB spokesperson Maulana Sajjad Nomani said.”If we live in a democracy, then we should have been given an opportunity. We also want to stop the practice of triple talaq. If the government’s intention is to really stop it, then the Islamic way of stopping would have been more acceptable…If the law is forced upon, then it is not correct,” he said.Reacting to the developments, president of All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board (AIMWPLB) Shaista Amber said that the Centre did not talk to Muslim organisations, while preparing the draft.”The Supreme Court had banned triple talaq in the light of Quran. Hence, any new law should be prepared in the light of Quran. If it is not so, then no Muslim woman will accept it,” she said.President of Muslim Women League, Naisha Hasan, said, “Before approving the draft of the bill, the Centre should have held discussions with the people…There should be a provision that the person giving triple talaq should not be sent to jail immediately, and the path of mediation should be opted,” she said.The Centre on Friday approved a draft law under which the practice of giving instant triple talaq would be made illegal and void and would attract a jail term of three years for the husband, a government functionary said.The draft ‘Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill’ was considered by the Union cabinet which gave its nod, the functionary said.The draft was prepared by an inter-ministerial group headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh. The other members included External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and his junior in the ministry P P Chaudhary.The proposed law would only be applicable on instant triple talaq or ‘talaq-e-biddat’ and it would give power to the victim to approach a magistrate seeking “subsistence allowance” for herself and minor children.

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Centre works on cyber safety for power sector

Amid an increasing number of Cyber attacks, Cyber terrorism, and data leaks across the country, the Centre has prepared a comprehensive Cyber Crisis Management Plan (CCMP) exclusively for the power distribution sector which is the most critical link in the electricity market. This sector interfaces with the end customers and provides revenue for the entire value chain. The CCMP includes the framework for identification of various critical information infrastructure, cyber incident response coordination, and steps to be taken for its mitigation.The Ministry of Power’s move comes at a time when India has witnessed more than 27,000 cyber security threat incidents in the first half of 2017. Reported threats include phishing attacks, website intrusions, and defacements or damages to data as well as ransomware attacks. CCMP envisages a layered security approach to strengthen cyber security posture of distribution sector. This will provide a redundancy in the system with respect to cyber security.The power ministry officer told DNA, “Cyber threats to systems can take many forms such as failure of a system/element to act/react in designed way due to virus, software bugs, intrusion, and congestion in the underlying/supervising system. Dependence of normal system operation on ICT, so much so that, operators/ power system personnel are not aware of and not well versed in alternate method to control/operate the system.’’ He informed that the impact of cyber attack on the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) and distribution management system can lead to disruption of services to critical customers like hospitals and metros.

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Anna Hazare to address a rally at Delhi’s Ramlila Ground on Jan 23 to seek electoral system

Social activist Anna Hazare announced today that he would address a rally at Delhi’s Ramlila Ground on January 23, highlighting the plight of farmers and demanding reforms in the electoral system.Hazare, who led a popular movement in 2011 seeking establishment of an anti-corruption ombudsman, said three-and- a-half years have passed since the BJP assumed office at the Centre, but the government has not yet been able to implement the Lokpal Bill.On the agriculture front, he said that the farmers were not getting remunerative prices for their crops.The Goods and Services Tax has done nothing good for the common man, he claimed.He said the time has come for effecting changes in the country’s electoral system.Also readHope no Arvind Kejriwal will emerge from my movement again, says Anna Hazare Lamenting that even after 70 years of achieving Independence, democracy, in its true sense, was yet to come to India, Hazare earlier said in Agra, “We do not want a government of capitalists. No (Narendra) Modi, no Rahul (Gandhi). We want a government which works for farmers’ interests.”Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supremo Arvind Kejriwal had taken part in Hazare’s anti-corruption movement in 2011. Subsequently, he had parted ways with the social activist and launched his own political outfit.

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Thane Zilla Parishad Results: Shiv Sena-NCP combine outshine BJP

Shiv Sena has performed magnificently in the 53 seats of Thane Zilla Parishad. Shiv Sena, which had fought the poll in alliance with the opposition Nationalist Congress Party, has so far taken a lead.Since its establishment in 1962, Shiv Sena has witnessed a historical win in Thane today. According to the results declared till 4 pm, Shiv Sena defeated the BJP, who had planned to get their hold over the Zilla Parishad. Shiv Sena won 27 of the 53 seats of Zilla Parishad.BJP for the first time had fielded candidates in all 53 seats and had extensively campaigned. Party MP from Bhiwandi Kapil Patil and legislator from Murbad Kisan Kathore had played key roles in the selection of candidates.Also readWill follow my mind, Amruta Fadnavis to trolls who criticised her for attending Christmas-themed eventOn the other hand, Shiv Sena, which is in power at the Centre and in Maharashtra, allied with NCP in a bid to checkmate BJP. Shiv Sena minister Eknath Shinde led the party’s campaign and extensively travelled to campaign in all 53 seats. The party has claimed victory in Asangaon defeating the BJP. The Shiv Sena-NCP alliance defeated BJP in Ambernath Taluka Panchayat Samiti while in Shahapur Panchayat Samiti as well, Shiv Sena has come to power by winning 17 seats.Also readCongress, NCP may come together for Thane Zilla Parishad pollsIn the Shahapur-Dolkhamb Panchayat Samiti ward, all three seats have been won by NCP. In Sakadbav ward, Shiv Sena’s Balya Mama Mhatre has defeated BJP’s Ranjana Ughda.Further, the Shiv Sena-NCP combine also trounced BJP in Kalyan Panchayat Samiti. Around 7.03 lakh voters from across Bhiwandi, Murbad, Shahpur, Kalyan, and Ambernath cast their votes on Wednesday. Bhiwandi has the highest number of voters at around 2.57 lakh, who voted for 21 seats.Also read’Pak meddling in Gujarat polls’ remark: BJP is intellectually bankrupt, says its Maharashtra ally Shiv SenaWith nearly 49,857 voters voting for four seats, Ambernath had the least number of voters.A BJP leader from Thane, who did not want to be named, admitted that it was a setback for the party which had bagged eight of 10 municipal corporations and got maximum seats in the recently held second phase of the gram panchayat elections in the state. Of the 3,666 gram panchayats that went to the polls on Monday, the BJP has claimed victory in 1,311.

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Cyclone Ockhi: Time for separate ministry for fishermen, says Rahul Gandhi in Kerala

Congress President-elect Rahul Gandhi today visited some places hit by the Cyclone Ochki in southern Kerala that has claimed 66 lives, most of them fishermen, and pitched for a better warning system to prevent recurrence of such tragedies.Addressing the families of fishermen who died in the cyclone and interacting with them, Gandhi said the state and Central governments need to learn lessons from the natural calamity, which has also left 95 fishermen missing.”When a tragedy happens, everyone must learn from the tragedy and avoid such a situation in future. We must have a better system of warning for the fishermen who are going to the sea,” he said speaking to affected families in coastal hamlet Poonthura, near Thiruvananthapuram.Holding that the condition of fishermen was very similar to that of farmers, the Congress leader said, “They are both facing very difficult times.” Referring to the demand of local Latin Catholic church, he said it was time a separate ministry was set up for fishermen at the Centre. “The farmers have a ministry that looks after their interests and I think it is time that we create a ministry for the fishermen to look after their interests and make sure they are protected,” he said.Also readCyclone Ockhi: Pope Francis enquires about Kerala’s fishermen communityGandhi, who is here after hectic electioneering in Gujarat, said he wanted to come to meet the families earlier. But due to prior programmes in connection with the Gujarat polls, he could not do so and expressed his apology.”Some of you have lost sons, some of you lost husbands. This loss cannot be replaced…we will try to make your life as comfortable as possible,” he said. The cyclone hit the coast of Kerala and neighbouring Tamil Nadu on November 30, claiming 66 lives and causing widespread damage besides leaving several fishermen stranded and missing.Earlier, Gandhi paid floral tributes in front of pictures of those who perished in the cyclone. He also consoled the families and interacted with them. Later, he visited nearby Vizhinjam and met the affected fishermen families and assured them that the Congress would discharge its duty as the principal opposition to bring pressure on the governments to get everyone necessary compensation. “I am confident the Congress will play its role,” he said.He also said the Congress party was committed to setting up a Ministry for fishermen at the Centre and offered all help to fishermen to overcome the present crisis.Also read750 still missing post Ockhi: Tamil Nadu fishersConsoling the fishermen community, including the women folk who broke down during the interaction, Gandhi said, “What you have lost cannot be measured in terms of value and so my words cannot replace your loss.” Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly Ramesh Chennithala, former chief minister Oommen Chandy and Congress MPs Shashi Tharoor and K C Venugopal were among those who accompanied Gandhi.

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Gujarat elections 2017: Manmohan Singh attacks PM for second time

In a video statement released Wednesday, former prime minister Manmohan Singh targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the second time, accusing him of spreading “falsehood and canards” to score political points. Strongly rejecting the “innuendos and falsehoods” made by the PM, Singh said he did not discuss Gujarat elections with anyone else at the dinner hosted by Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar as alleged by Modi, nor was the Gujarat issue raised by anyone else at the dinner.The remarks drew sharp reaction from BJP chief Amit Shah who questioned Singh’s silence on Sonia Gandhi’s ‘Maut Ka Saudagar’ remark and the “monumental loot” during the UPA-II Union government.Singh, who had on Monday attacked Modi over his suggestion of Pakistan meddling in Gujarat polls, today sought an apology from the PM for what he called his “ill-thought transgression”.The former PM said he was deeply pained and anguished by the “falsehood and canards being spread to score political points in a lost cause by none less than Prime Minister”.”Fearing imminent defeat in Gujarat, desperation of Prime Minister to hurl every abuse and latch on to every straw is palpable,” he said, adding that he sincerely hoped that the Prime Minister would show “maturity and gravitas”, as expected of the high office he holds.The former premier also asserted that Modi “is setting a dangerous precedent by his insatiable desire to tarnish every constitutional office, including that of a former prime minister and Army Chief”, and described it as sad and regrettable.In a sharp reaction, BJP national president Shah asked asked why the “angry” Congress veteran was silent when a “monumental loot” took place during his tenure at the Centre. “We want to ask respected Manmohan Singh ji why was he not angry and anguished when a CM of his country was called ‘Maut Ka Saudagar,” Shah said.

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Nationwide raids on 9 Bitcoin exchanges

Multiple teams of tax sleuths Wednesday, investigating virtual currency Bitcoin’s investors and transactions, conducted raids at nine cryptocurrency exchanges in Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Kochi, Hapur and Gurugram.The raids come a month after the Supreme Court issued notice to the Centre and its agencies, including SEBI, Income Tax Department, RBI and ED to apprise it about their stand on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and how to regulate them.Beginning early morning, team of IT officials stormed 12 premises of prominent virtual currency exchanges, including Zebpay and Unocoin.Sources told DNA, “We are collecting the name of investors and their transaction details. The survey under Section 133A of the Income Tax Act, is being conducted for gathering evidence for establishing the identity of investors and traders, transactions undertaken by them, identity of other parties, bank accounts used, among others.”Bitcoin, though illegal in India, has jumped about 16-fold this year as investors continue to flock to this cryptocurrency as a safe investment option.”Even though virtual currencies do not have legal status in India, cryptocurrency exchanges have been adding over 3,500 users a day and now have reached 8 lakh downloads, said a source privy to the matter.DNA had first reported last month how cryptocurrencies were replacing the cash component in the real estate.Also, several real estate brokers, who have left the sector, are now luring investors to invest in Bitcoins, promising them returns of more than 300 per cent in just three months.Recently, the RBI issued an advisory, telling investors to beware of investing in cryptocurencies.However, despite the RBI refusal to give regulatory clearances, many leading Indian Bitcoin exchanges like Zebpay and Unocoin offers crypto coin trade, possiblly through online banking.The Finance Ministry had also constituted an Inter-Disciplinary Committee to review virtual currency both in India and globally and suggest measures to monitor these currencies.About the raidsThough illegal in India, Bitcoin has grown about 16-fold in 2016 Cryptocurrency exchanges have been adding over 3,500 users per day Nine cryptocurrency exchanges were raided, beginning early morning

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Top court stays govt takeover of Unitech

The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) order that allowed the Centre to take over Unitech’s management.The top court’s move came on the heels of an appeal against the tribunal’s order filed by Sanjay Chandra, the promoter of the embattled real estate firm. “When we are hearing this matter, how can NCLT pass orders? It is disturbing,” the top court said during an earlier hearing.Standing firm and guarding the interest of the homebuyers, a bench led by the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra acknowledged Attorney General KK Venugopal’s apology when he admitted that the Centre was hasty in approaching the NCLT when the case was pending before the top court.Venugopal admitted that the Centre should not have approached NCLT, and the tribunal shouldn’t have passed an order that allowed the firm’s takeover at a time when the top court is hearing the matter.The bench, also comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, posted the matter for January 12 after recording the top law officer’s apology.On December 8, NCLT suspended all eight board of directors and handed over the reigns of the embattled real estate firm to the Centre. Accusing the board of mismanagement and siphoning of funds, the tribunal had authorised the Centre to appoint 10 of its nominees on the board. The tribunal’s order had come after the government’s appeal that moved the panel to protect the interest of nearly 20,000 homebuyers.In its order, the tribunal had given the Centre time till December 20 to appoint its nominees while restraining the suspended directors from selling their personal and company properties.In October, the SC had denied bail to Unitech managing director Sanjay Chandra, and ordered him to deposit at least Rs 750 crore by December end, which could be used to refund homebuyers. It also indicated that it was considering auctioning the flats for the refund.In September, the top court awarded 39 homebuyers compensation to the tune of Rs 80,000 each, towards litigation costs and mental agony. Thirty-nine buyers approached the top court when Unitech failed to deliver the promised homes in its project — Vista — in Sector 70, Gurgaon.The buyers had sought a refund of their principal amount – which amounted to Rs16.55 crore with interest, after Unitech delayed possession beyond 2012 — when it was promised.In an earlier February order, the apex court had directed Unitech to pay 14 per cent interest that would be calculated from January 1, 2010. The amount was to be deposited with the SC registry who would then disbursed 90 per cent of the amount among the 39 buyers on a pro-rata basis.Over two dozen homebuyers approached the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) after Unitech failed to give possession as per schedule in its Noida and Gurgaon’s housing projects. The consumer forum had directed Unitech to refund the money to the homebuyers with interest.

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If Centre is not willing to pay for mid-day meals in school, we will provide money: Mamata Banerjee

A day after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said Bengal-based labourers working outside the state were welcome to return if they were feeling insecure, at a public meeting on Wednesday at Indus village in Bankura district, she came down heavily upon the Centre saying that if they were not ready to give foodgrain for mid-day meal in schools, the state would pay for those.“They say that they don’t have enough foodgrain for mid-day meal and Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) project. They have also frozen funds so that we cant supply foodgrains to the poor. We are not scared. I tell them that if they don’t want to give foodgrain for mid-day meals or funds, we will provide those ourselves but we will not stand your high-handedness” Mamata said.She alleged that members of certain political parties were spending a lot of money to create divide among people on the basis of religions. Mamata asked people to be alert and to inform police if any such person was spotted. If police fail to do their duty, she asked people to approach her directly. “We don’t burn people to death who have come here to work. We don’t divide people on the basis of religion. If you see any suspicious person, inform the police. I will ask district police authorities to suitably reward such informers. I would also say that if you see police are not taking any action, dial 100 and inform police helpline about it. If that also doesn’t work, come to my residence with the complaint letter,” she said.Also readMurder of Bengal workers: Electrician found dead in Kerala, Mamata Banerjee to address meeting in BankuraEarly this month, Md Afrazul Khan, a 47-year-old labourer from Malda district of West Bengal, who had gone to Rajasthan looking for employment, had been brutally hacked, doused with kerosene and then set ablaze. The incident had been captured on camera and the video was made viral by the offender himself.

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Aligarh: BJP corporators create ruckus after BSP member insists on taking oath in Urdu

Unpleasant scenes marred the swearing-in of newly-elected members of the Aligarh Municipal Corporation after BJP corporators allegedly created a ruckus when the lone BSP corporator, Musharraf Husain, insisted on taking the oath in Urdu.Husain was allegedly beaten up.Some district officials intervened and managed to defuse the tension yesterday, before the situation could get worse.Husain later told newspersons there was a conspiracy to kill him, and had the officials not intervened he might have had to pay with his life.Some miscreants also threw brickbats at Aligarh’s new mayor Mohd Furqan’s car but he escaped unhurt.Furqan today expressed his “sense of distress” at the unsavoury incidents.”I do not think it is proper to derail the development agenda of the government by throwing up unnecessary controversies based on language, caste and religion,” he told PTI.”I can understand the BJP workers’ anger on losing a seat, which they have held for the past 20 years, and I was apprehending some trouble at the oath-taking ceremony. I had therefore asked all the BSP members to take oath in Hindi and avoid controversy. However, despite my advice, one of our corporators chose to take oath in Urdu. This, however, was his constitutional right and if he did so, there was no reason to whip up emotions”, he said.He also said that the Narendra Modi government at the Centre and the Yogi Adityanath government in the state have come to power on the plank of development. “I can assure them that I will fully cooperate to make a success of all their attempts in making Aligarh a Smart City.” Regarding the allegation made by some BJP members that BSP members did not show respect to ‘Vande Matram’, Furqan said: “The entire proceedings have been videographed and barring perhaps two or three persons, the entire hall which was occupied mostly by BSP members, paid full respect on this occasion.”When contacted, Aligarh District Magistrate Hrishikesh Bhaskar Yashod told PTI, “I would not like to comment on the incident at this stage because so far no group or individual has filed any report with the police. However, the controversy over singing of ‘Vande Matram’ does not have substance because 99 per cent of the audience was on its feet when the song was being sung.”He said the mayor is fully empowered to take cognisance of whatever took place and the situation does not entail any justification for the district authorities and the police to intervene at this stage.Meanwhile, some BJP members have demanded that a case of treason be filed against the BSP member for showing disrespect to Hindi language.

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I have a deep unshakeable bond with Rajasthan: Vasundhara Raje

Q: Looking back how would you evaluate the four years ? How satisfied are you with your performance ?A: Four years is a very short period. I cannot say I am satisfied, it is work in progress. We have done some good work and with the continuation of programmes you will see Rajasthan upwardly mobile. We inherited a shaky economy. The four years have been used to change despondence to hope because of opportunities.Q: You got a brute majority; how far have you been successful in fulfiling the expectations of the people ? A: My connect with the people is constant. Our programmes and their implementation have been for the benefit of all sections. Going digital with our schemes is a major achievement. We are giving rations through POS machines, Bhamashah Swasthya Beema Yojna has helped provide better health care. The Mukhymantri Jal Swavlamban Yojna has been a success story that is heartening. People have come forward to support it. At the same time we have launched intra state air connectivity. Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Kota, Ajmer are connected through air. The list can go on. Q: How many announcements that made have been completed ? What is your biggest success ? What achievements can you cite ?A: We did not make enormous announcements. We have some 10-15 flagship schemes that are aimed to benefit the common people. We are assiduously following their implementation. The Bhamashah Yojna, Annapurna, Nyay Aaapke Dwar and Rajshri are schemes that have reached out to people to make a difference. Our programmes have been covering the various stages where state intervention is required to provide necessary support and bring the needy under state intervention.The schemes are also very encompassing. For example; A woman gets vaccinations when she is expecting a baby; the baby too gets vaccinated; the girl child gets financial benefit on completing school; scooties are provided to assist movement to education places. Over a span of several years these focused interventions through programmes bring concrete positive results. Q: What can one expect from the 5th Budget of this tenure ? What populistic works will be done keeping the election in mind ? A: In the next budget, announcements will be minimalised. The budget will be about implementations. We will use the money to complete pending works. Our focus will on delivery. Q: Don’t you think hate crime incidents like the Rajsamand put forward need for tightening up of law and order situation ? A: I condem such acts. We will not tolerate them. Immediate action was taken in the Rajsamand case, and let me tell you, all people irrespective of their caste community are equal before us. Q: What would you consider is the biggest achievement of this tenure ?A: The contact that has been established with the people is a major achievement. I have been meeting people through the Mukhymantri Jansamwad Karyakram and hearing them first hand. It is a learning experience. Action is being taken on spot. The Jhunjhunu ration issue is a very recent example. The message has gone out that those not performing duties will be penalized.Q: But is not too late?A: We started with Sarkaar Aapke Dwar, but that was too huge. We trimmed it to Aapka Zila Aapki Sarkaar. We further trimmed it to Mukhymantri Jansamwad where I myself go to a district for three days and sort out people’s problems at hand. Now only 17 districts are to be visited. I am enjoying it as I am meeting people personally and solving their problems.Q: When is Prime minister expected to lay foundation stone for the refinery?A: We have requested for the Prime Minister’s time and we expect him to come in January.Q: The government is facing litigations related to decisions that should have been taken; for example the one about vacant posts in the boards and commissions. When will they be filled ?A: We have been making appointments. But this is a continuous process. The posts that remain vacant will be filled soon.Q: Is there any chance of next edition of Resurgent Rajasthan in last year of your government?A: In my first stint as chief minister I made mistake by holding the event in 2008 which was last year of the government. So the succeeding government scrapped the MoU signed in the event. In the current tenure the event was organized in 2015 so the MoUs could be implemented. Now see the result we are implementing them successfully. So, no Resurgent Rajasthan this year.Q: Doctors are agitating, Government employees are striking over pay commission implementation. Why is this not being addressed?A: In a democracy all have a right to put across their opinion. But doctors have to address their human responsibilities too. As for the employees they are our backbone and I have always been with them, even during the implementation of the sixth pay commission. As a part of our family, they But they too will have to understand our financial conditions.Q: There have been several communal incidents across the state what is the reason? A: The government is committed to control all such incidents immediately. The police has done a good job in containing the incidents. I congratulate the police.Q: Cow vigilantism and crimes related to cattle smuggling are on the rise. What is the reason?A: We do not support any illegal acts. Action will be taken against all wrong doers. We are committed to this and it reflects in the action we have taken.Q: Padmavati controversy has prompted you to ban the film in the state. How fair is it?A: Padmini is an issue of pride not just for Rajasthan but for the entire country. We support an artist’s right to expression, but injury to our dignity will not be accepted. We have merely respected public sentiment.Q: There is much talk about you not sharing cordial relations with the Centre and also about you being called to the Centre. What is the truth ?A: Rajasthan is surging ahead and scaling new heights of progress. As for having a troubled relation with the Centre; even I hear such talks. I heard it all through last tenure and all these four years. But, see I have a deep unshakable bond with Rajasthan. That cannot be severed. And my efforts will be for the betterment of the people of the State. Q: What is the government’s intent on loan waiver to farmers?A: We are committed to supporting farmers. A committee has been set up that is in the process of studying various models of loan waivers in different states. On basis of their report we will work out the waiver. Q: What are the expectations from the bypolls ?A: We continue to be tested and I believe we will return in these areas.Q: Congress has turned out to be a formidable opponent in Gujarat. Who will win the Gujarat, Rajasthan next year and the Parliamentary polls after that ?A: Undoubtedly we will win in Gujarat and Rajasthan and form a government again at the Centre.

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Gujarat elections 2017: Seaplanes for aam janta haven’t moved past MoU stage as yet

Amdavadis were treated to the sight of Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking off in a seaplane from Sabarmati riverfront to Dharoi Dam to offer prayers at Ambaji temple on Tuesday, the last day of campaigning before the second phase. This has given Amdavadis hope of travelling by a seaplane themselves in the near future, but little do they know that though a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) regarding this connectivity was signed at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit this year, nothing concrete has happened after that.DNA had reported in January that to boost aviation, the government had planned seaplane connectivity — wherever there is a water body — across Gujarat.An MoU was signed between Gujarat State Aviation Infrastructure Company Ltd (GUJSAIL) and Supreme Airlines to promote this new mode of transport. Speaking to DNA, Captain Akash Agarwal, vice-president, Supreme Airlines, had said, “We will start operations by April this year from the Sabarmati riverfront, and thereafter connect various other destinations. Aviation enthusiasts can enjoy joy rides or use it to commute to tourist spots surrounded by water. We will invest Rs 40 crore. As of now, we operate in Rajasthan.”However, since there has been no talks this since then. Sources in aviation sector say the tendering process for seaplane connectivity is yet to be undertaken. “The MoU was signed with Supreme Airlines, which presently operates between Ahmedabad and Jodhpur,” says a source. “Perhaps they are looking for land and will begin the tendering process after that. As of now, nothing has happened on that front.”Speaking about PM’s seaplane, highly-placed sources said, “The entire arrangement was made by the Centre in partnership with SpiceJet. The central government intends to implement seaplane connectivity across the country. A demonstration was conducted recently in Mumbai and today (on Tuesday), there was another demonstration.””To implement amphibian planes,” informed another source, “firstly, a jetty is required, and then the necessary infrastructure. Once these are in place, various permissions will have to be sought.”TWITTER JIBEFormer J&K CM Omar Abdullah questioned the PM’s protocol on Twitter. “How is it that the security guidelines were relaxed for this flight? No Z+ protectee is allowed to fly in a single engine aircraft.”

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Claims of ‘bias’ after Ram Madhav lecture to Delhi University faculty members

BJP’s National General Secretary Ram Madhav delivered a lecture on “Swami Vivekananda’s teachings” to the faculty members of Delhi University (DU) on Tuesday. This was during their ongoing refresher course entitled ‘Indian Culture: Thoughts and Thinkers.’Urging faculty members to teach students the writings of Swami Vivekananda, Madhav said, “Today’s youth need to read and understand his writings to have a better understanding of Indian culture and tradition.””Patriotism and pride for the nation is most important traits the youth should possess. And, Swami Vivekananda’s writings can teach them that,” he said. Madhav also reminded the class, packed with faculty members, about the colonial rule in the country.DNA on December 4, has reported that some faculty members who had attended the course, had claimed that “biased” and “irrational” topics had been taught to them during the course. Claiming that most of the speakers addressing the course were either “former RSS pracharaks” or “right-wing ideologists”, several faculty members had also alleged that “the University is using it as a tool to give some space to people of a particular ideology.””Why is the BJP’s National General Secretary being called to deliver a lecture during a course meant for our promotion. It clearly shows that the University is trying to promote a particular ideology through this platform,” said a professor at Dyal Singh College (morning) who asked not to be named. The professor was attending the course being held at the Centre for Professional Development in Higher Education, an academic staff college of the UGC at DU. Earlier, faculty members said that they were taught how yajna can help combat pollution and the presence of the image of an omkar is in the sun’s rays.

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35% dip in DTC bus travellers: Centre for Science and Environment

The number of daily commuters on the government’s Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses has come down by 35% over the past four years, revealed a report prepared by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).The average ridership of the state-run public transport came down from 47 lakh in 2012-13 to around 30 lakh by the end of 2016, the report said. “As per the latest available DTC statistics, about 30 lakh passengers are carried daily, of which only 14 lakh (45%) are ticketed passengers. The rest 16 lakh (55%) use passes. Thus, a pass holder is counted as travelling nine times during the course of a single day and that inflates the daily trip number. It is possible, therefore, that the daily ridership is expected to be much less than the estimated 30-lakh figure,” it stated.The report comes at a time when the AAP government has received much flak for not adding to the depleting bus fleet of the state-run bus service as well as no upgradation in the existing transport infrastructure.The report highlighted that the DTC bought new buses in 2011-12. “There has been almost no addition to the fleet in the past five years. If no new buses are added now, the entire fleet will get nearly phased out by 2025.”It further said, the DTC also does not use around 700 buses on any given day, mainly due to breakdowns. This is leading to the “rapid loss” of daily ridership, the report stated. The DTC currently operates 3,800 buses while Delhi Integrated Multi Modal System (DIMTS) runs around 1,600 buses under the Cluster Scheme. “There is a shortage of 5,000-10,000 buses based on required estimates and the mandate,” it stated.It also found loopholes in the utilisation of the bus fleet by the DTC. “DTC’s fleet utilisation has come down to 83.63% in 2015-16, from 85.51% in 2013-14,” it said.The Delhi government has started the process for procurement of 1,000 buses each for the DTC and Cluster scheme.The report suggested for speeding up the process. The city requires at least 11,000 more buses to cater to the growing demand of the Capital.

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12 special courts to try cases against politicians: Govt to Supreme Court

The Centre Tuesday told the Supreme Court that it will set up 12 special courts to speed up trials in pending cases involving MPs and MLAs in the country.These special courts would adjudicate 1571 criminal cases pending against lawmakers. The scheme for establishing these special courts is ready, the court was told. Decisions regarding requirement of additional courts will be taken in due course.According to the affidavit, more time was required to compile the nationwide data on pendency of cases against MLAs and MPs.According to data compiled by Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), affidavits filed by politicians at the time of submitting nomination papers for 2014 general election and Assembly polls showed that 1,581 cases were pending against politicians. Ten cases were later dropped due to death of the politicians named in the cases.It may be recalled that the Supreme Court had asked the Centre and the Election Commission for their response to a PIL seeking to restrain convicted politicians from holding any posts in political parties.The PIL sought directions to the Centre and the Election Commission to frame guidelines to decriminalise the electoral system and ensure inner-party democracy as proposed by the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC).The petition also named several politicians who have been convicted or have charges framed against them but continue to hold posts in political parties and “wielding political power.” It points out that now even a person who has been convicted for heinous crimes like murder, rape, smuggling, money laundering, loot, sedition, or dacoity can form a political party and become its president.

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SC raps Centre for not acting on orders over extradition of fugitives

The Supreme Court on Tuesday pulled up the Centre for “not even bothering about” its orders on extradition matters and questioned the government’s will in getting persons evading law back from foreign countries.The remarks were made by the top court in the matter relating to extradition of a businesswoman, who is facing criminal trial in India but was allowed to travel to London on apex court’s direction in January, 2016.The apex court had earlier forfeited Rs 86 lakh deposited by her as security and directed for revoking of her passport as well as initiated contempt proceedings against her.”What is this attitude? You don’t even bother about the orders of the Supreme Court. We have been virtually extending threats to the officers in the Ministry of External Affairs but you still don’t act,” a bench of justices Arun Mishra and M M Shantanagoudar said.The top court said that “somebody has ran away from the country but the government isn’t doing anything about it”.It asked Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh and senior advocate V Mohana: “We have been issuing orders in this case for last eight months but you have done nothing. You should tell us what is going on and why are you (Centre) not acting?”The bench even expressed its annoyance over different government lawyers on different dates in the matter and said “We think we will now call the secretaries in the MEA. They will be called to court to explain. That seems to be the only way forward now.”The bench posted the matter for further hearing after the ASG assured it of taking instructions on the issue.The court directed the ASG that all formalities relating to the extradition of the woman be completed by then.Ritika Awasty, a promoter of Bush Foods Overseas Pvt Ltd, is facing criminal trial in Uttar Pradesh on charges of cheating, forgery and criminal breach of trust.She had challenged the Allahabad High Court order refusing to quash FIR lodged against her but was granted bail and allowed to travel abroad by the apex court on an undertaking for looking after her husband and daughter in London.She had given an undertaking to return to India by March 31, but she did not. The court further extended her stay in London on her request till May 31, but she again did not return.This compelled the top court to initiate contempt proceedings against her and revoking of her passport.On September 12, the Centre and Uttar Pradesh had told that they have agreed that State shall initiate procedure relating to extradition and they are agreeing that Uttar Pradesh will take effect steps within three weeks.The court directed the Centre to take appropriate steps within two weeks thereafter, for extradition with the Crown Prosecution Services and sought details of her properties in India.Earlier, the top court had asked Awasty to furnish her current address in the UK by the next date of hearing and the state had assured the court appropriate steps for extradition of the woman will be taken.The apex court had also asked the Centre to file the income tax returns of Awasty and of her husband.On August 29, 2016, the apex court had said that it is “prima facie satisfied” that Awasty has “committed contempt of this court by breaching the directions issued by the court, as also, violating the undertaking given to this court”.It had issued notice to Awasty to show cause why contempt proceedings be not initiated against her.The top court said that “in order to ensure, that the petitioner does not flee from justice, we consider it just and appropriate, to direct the passport authority concerned to revoke the passport issued to the petitioner forthwith”.It had said that the Indian High Commissioner at London, shall initiate action for the return of Awasty to India, so as to face the judicial process, which is pending consideration before the apex court.

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‘Institutions of Eminence’: With a day left, UGC gets 73 applications for world class varsity tag

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has already received 73 applications for the Human Resource Development Ministry’s ambitious 20 world class institutions project with a day left for the deadline.According to sources, 73 varsities including central universities, state universities, private and deemed-to-be universities have applied for the “institutions of eminence” tag. Out of these, six applications have been received under the greenfields category.The UGC had in September started inviting applications from all institutions that are keen to enter the top 100 of global rankings with the government’s assistance. The 90-day deadline expires tomorrow.The Centre wants to establish a total of 20 “Institutes of Eminence” — a distinct category of deemed-to-be- universities, supporting them to become “World Class” institutions.By March-April 2018, 20 (10 each from public and private category) institutions will be accorded the eminence status with a mandate to achieve the world-class status over a period of 10 years.As per the guidelines issued by the UGC, institutions in the top 50 of the National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF) rankings or those ranking among top 500 of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, QS University Rankings or Shanghai Ranking Academic Ranking of World Universities were eligible to apply.New institutions were required to submit a 15-year vision plan to be among the top 500 globally ranked institutions, while existing institutions among the top 500 had to offer a plan to improve their ranking to be among the top 100 in the next 10 years.A screening committee will go through the applications and select the institutions.

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