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Author: Yesha Kotak

From Dadri to Yakub Memon’s death: 16 things India outraged about in 2015

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal levelled allegations of corruption against union minister Arun Jaitley, after his office was raided. He claimed that when Jaitley was the president of DDCA in 2011, he “misused” his position. What followed was blame game over various aspects of the investigations, demand for resignation and filing of defamation case against Kejriwal.

Yesha Kotak

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Elections 2015: Victory – Defeat – Gain – Loss

With Assam state elections scheduled for 2016, Congress faced a major setback as Tarun Gogoi had to step down after BJP won 340 wards in the aftermath of Delhi elections and Congress was left with 232 wards.

Yesha Kotak

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Complete list of countries visited by PM Narendra Modi in 2015

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A Right to Information (RTI) filed by Delhi-based activist Lokesh Batra revealed that by mid-September India had spent Rs 41.1 crores over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s foreign visits in the last one year.

PM Modi departing from Delhi on his tour
File Photo

A Right to Information (RTI) filed by Delhi-based activist Lokesh Batra revealed that by mid-September India had spent Rs 41.1 crores over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s foreign visits in the last one year. As the year come to an end, he has made 27 trips and visited 25 nations in a year, while views and counter-views emerge right from Rahul Gandhi’s criticism to Arvind Kejriwal’s questions and social media potshots, some still believe that his visits would strengthen his vision of ‘Make in India’.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Let’s have a look at the nations that Modi visited this year:SeychellesDates of visit: March 10-11Purpose: Met President James Alexis Michelin as a part of Indian Ocean outreach programme and discussed maritime ties and bilateral development and cooperation.MauritiusDates of visit: March 11-13Purpose: Modi was the chief Guest at the Independence Day celebrations in Mauritius on March 12. He poured Gangajal in a sacred pond in Port Louis and commissioned an India-built naval patrol vessel for Mauritius.Sri LankaDates of visit: March 13-14Purpose: Sri Lanka released 86 fisherman prior to Modi’s visit. It was the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister in 28 years aimed at improving the relation with the island country after Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. The visit was also to discuss increasing Chinese activities in Lanka.SingaporeDate of visit: March 29Purpose: In his first visit to Singapore, he attended the state funeral of first Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew, on the sidelines he also met several world leaders and Israeli President.FranceDates of visit: April 9-12 Purpose: To encourage French defence, civil nuclear power and food processing companies to participate in Make in India programme.GermanyDates of visit: April 12-14Purpose: To visit business leaders at Hannover Messe business fair. He also unveiled a bust of Mahatma Gandhi in Hannover.CanadaDates of visit: April 14-16Purpose: To strengthen Indian- Canadian bilateral relations in various sectors including aerospace and defence, education, energy, mining, infrastructure, sustainable technologies, information and communication technology. He also met Indians in Canada and visited Laxminarayan temple and Gurudwara.ChinaDates of visit: May 14-16Purpose: The issues for discussion included long-pending border dispute, a widening trade imbalance in favour of China, stapled visas, China taking up large infrastructure projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and economic matters.MongoliaDates of visit: May 16-17Purpose: Modi visited Mongolia to address Great Khural on May 17 and announced a line of credit of US $1 billion to Ulaanbaatar to develop institutions, infrastructure and human resources in Mongolia. He also gifted Mongolia a Bhabhatron for cancer treatment.South KoreaDates of visit: May 18-19Purpose: As a part of East Asia Policy, Modi upgraded the ties between two nations to ‘Special Strategic Partnership’ and signed seven agreements including one on avoidance of double taxation.BangladeshDates of visit: June 6-7Purpose: There were 22 agreements signed between the two nations including 1974 Land Boundary Agreement. Other issues discussed include business of water from the Teesta river, issues between border forces and an equal treatment for Bangladesh.UzbekistanDate of visit: July 6Purpose: Three pacts were signed to boost cooperation between foreign offices in the field of culture and tourism. Enhanced strategic, economic and regional issues like the situation in war-torn Afghanistan also made it to the agenda.KazakhstanDate of visit: July 7Purpose: Key issues discussed included fight against terrorism and extremism. Five key agreements were inked, which included a defence pact to enhance military cooperation and a contract for supply of uranium. RussiaDates of visit: July 8-10Purpose: Attended BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation ​(SCO) Summits.TurkmenistanDates of visit: July 10-11Purpose: PM Modi signed seven pacts with Turkmenistan, vowed to fight terrorism together and pitched for an early implementation of the US $10 billion TAPI pipeline project.KyrgyzstanDate of visit: July 12Purpose: Modi in Kyrgyzstan signed four agreements to boost defence cooperation and hold annual joint military exercises and discussed combating international terrorism and other crimes.TajikistanDates of visit: July 12-13Purpose: Narendra Modi unveiled a statue of poet Rabindranath Tagore in Dushanbe and discussed regional issues including Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) with President Emomali Rahmon.United Arab EmiratesDates of visit: August 16-17Purpose: Modi’s visit to United Arab Emirates was aimed at reaching out to the Indian diaspora there, wherein he announced E-migrate portal, ‘MADAD’ for Indian migrants, counsellor camps for Indian workers among other measures. The talks also focussed on enhanced energy and trade cooperation. The last prime minister to visit UAE was Indira Gandhi.IrelandDate of visit: September 23Purpose: First Prime Minister to visit Ireland in 59 years, Modi discussed global challenges like terror and radicalisation with his Irish counterpart Enda Kenny. He also hoped for relaxed visa policies for Indian IT firms. They also spoke about India’s membership of UN Security Council and international export control regimes including NSG.United StatesDates of Visit: September 24-30Purpose: Modi’s US visit was focussed towards United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), large Indian diaspora and Silicon Valley honchos.United KingdomDates of Visit: November 12-14Purpose: India and the UK sealed deals worth 9-billion pound, a civil nuclear pact was signed and collaboration in the fields of defence and cyber security was decided upon, besides talks about railway rupee bond were launched.TurkeyDates of visit: November 15-16Purpose: Modi attended G20 summit which focussed on current state of the global economy, sustainable growth, development and climate change, investment, trade and energy.MalaysiaDates of visit: November 21-22Purpose: Modi inaugrated Torana Gate, attended ASEAN and East Asia Summit, discussed Ayurveda and defence cooperation in Malaysia.SingaporeDates of Visit: November 23-25Purpose: Commemorating 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries, PM Modi and his Singapore counterpart signed the India-Singapore Strategic Partnership.FranceDates of visit: November 30 – December 1Purpose: Modi attended COP21 Environment Conference and laid down India’s stratergy on global warming.Russia
Dates of Visit: December 23-24Purpose: 16th India-Russia annual summit talks would focus on stepping up economic engagement and strategic ties. Deals over defence sector which includes joint manufacturing of 200 Kamov-226T helicopters and purchase of Russian S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems also hold an important place apart from access to secret Russian files to unveil mystery of the disappearance of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. AfghanistanDate of Visit: December 25Purpose: The Afghan Parliament constructed by India at the cost of US $ 90 million inaugrated by Modi.

Intolerance Debate 2015: Who is under the radar?

Sundar Pichai, the Indian-American CEO of Google, before his visit to India wrote an essay titled ‘Let’s not let fear defeat our values’. Though he was referring to Donald Trump’s comments on Muslim, he made his stand for tolerance clear, “And it’s not just about opportunity. The open-mindedness, tolerance, and acceptance of new Americans is one of the country’s greatest strengths and most defining characteristics. And that is no coincidence — America, after all, was and is a country of immigrants. That is why it’s so disheartening to see the intolerant discourse playing out in the news these days — statements that our country would be a better place without the voices, ideas and the contributions of certain groups of people, based solely on where they come from, or their religion.”

Yesha Kotak

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Twitter 2015: Tweets that rolled controversies

Original article:  Twitter 2015: Tweets that rolled controversies

Nirbhaya rape case: Actions that have been taken towards women safety since then

The case garnered a lot of attention and became synonymous with women’s rights for safety in this country as well as outside.

Representational Image

The 2012 Delhi gang rape or the Nirbhaya rape case brought forth a lot of issues right from the power of youth who unanimously stood up for a cause, to the security of women in the democratic country which boasts of being a female nation.The case garnered a lot of attention and became synonymous with women’s rights for safety in this country as well as outside. However, after all these years, were these issues addressed as they should have been?Our newspapers, today, still show the ongoing discussion and divided opinion on the release of juvenile convict or about Parliament contemplating on criminalising marital rape. However, does a country with a female population of 624 million, feel safe as instances of sexual exploitation make news every morning?<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three years down the line, let us see if things seemed to have changed for better or for worse after the horrifying night of December 16:Positive changes that have been made:The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 which was initially an ordinance promulgated by Pranab Mukherjee on April 3, 2013, after this incident was passed and made into a legislation by the Parliament in March 2013. This legislation was formed after reviewing 80,000 recommendations that were received after wide consultations and research by the Justice Verma Committee. Several crimes like stalking, voyeurism were clearly specified and included in the list of new crimes in this legislation. Acid violence and disrobing, a common crime in India, was further elaborated on with respect to the punishment that should be given to the convict.
Under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, the age of consent was increased from 16 to 18.
In order to ensure that victims are not hesitant in filing a complaint, the security blanket that protected public servants and police officers has been removed.
Stalking, voyeurism and sexual harassment, which were one considered gender neutral, were changed to offence committed on women.
The law also states that in case of repeated offence of rape or in case where victim has been led to a comatose stage, death penalty can be pronounced on convict. Whereas, there is also an increase in jail term. (Unlike what happened in Aruna Shanbaug case.)
Changes that have not been made yet:
The Juvenile Justice Act which deals with punishment for juveniles accused of heinous crimes is still pending in Parliament.
Marital rape is still legal in the country.
While Ram Singh, a convict, died while he was being tried, the other four Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Akshay Thakur were given death sentence by fast track court, which was upheld by Delhi Court, but the Supreme Court has stayed their death sentence.
Juvenile, who was said to be the most brutal, has served his detention period of three years, may be released on December 20, and Women and child development (WCD) may grant him a rehabilitation grant of Rs. 10,000. However, Subramanian Swamy, a BJP leader has filed a PIL, seeking a stay on his release.

Etched in history: The villains and heroes of 26/11

The 26/11 attacks and the people connected to the event.

Taj Mahal Hotel after the 26/11 attacks – File Photo – Representational Image

Ten terrorists belonging to Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) had come to Mumbai and carried out the strikes in which 166 people were killed. Nine of them were killed during the 60-hour siege which began on the night of November 26, 2008. TerroristsAjmal KasabFacing death penalty for the terror attacks Kasab, the sole surviving Pakistani gunman, claimed in the Supreme Court he was brainwashed like a “robot” into committing the heinous crime in the name of “god”. Nearly four years after the attack, he was hanged on November 21, 2012 at Yerawada central prison in Pune. Both Central and Maharashtra governments spent around Rs 29.5 crores on Ajmal Kasab to provide him food, security, medicines and clothes.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Zaki ur Rehman LakhviAt the time of the attacks, Lakhvi was believed to be the operational head of the banned Laskhar-e-Taiba (LeT) that has been accused by India of carrying out the attacks in India’s financial capital. Lakhvi along with Zarar Shah was allegedly the key planner of the attack.Lakhvi and six others –- Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younis Anjum –- have been charged with planning and executing the attacks. On December 7, 2008, Pakistan arrested Lakhvi. In April 2015 was released on bail. David HeadleyDavid Coleman Headley or Daood Sayed Gilani, a Pakistani-American terrorist, conspired with Lashkar-e-Taiba to plot the attacks. He made five trips to India between 2006 and 2008, to collect all the information that would aid the 10 terrorists and their handlers. Headley was arrested in October 2009 at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport on his way back to Pakistan. He is serving a term of 35 years in jail in the US in connection with the case.Hafeez SaeedChief of Jama’at-ud-Da’wah, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, is an internationally designated terrorist. He was instrumental in providing financial support to the perpetrators of 26/11. Jamaat-ud-Dawa is listed as a terror outfit by the UN. There is a $10 million US government bounty on his head.Police & MilitaryHasan GafoorThe then Police Commissioner of Mumbai received a lot of flak in the aftermath of multi-pronged attack, hence he was removed as the commissioner and promoted to the post of Director General Housing.Rakesh MariaMaria was the Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch), leading the probe into the attack. He was also heading the police control room for some time during the 72-hour siege. Vinita Kamte, widow of Ashok Kamte, had filed a RTI seeking call logs of wireless conversation between the control room and Kamte’s van.Also Read: 26/11 call record case: Bombay High Court provides relief to Rakesh MariaHemant Karkare Chief of Mumbai Anti-Terrorist Squad, died fighting terrorists when he was shot thrice in the chest. He was well known for his investigations in Mumbai serial blast case and for leading special investigation of the Malegaon blast. He was honoured posthumously with an Ashoka Chakra for his bravery in the 26/11 attacks.Vijay SalaskarThis encounter specialist and head of Anti-Extortion Cell was killed by terrorists in the lane between St. Xavier’s College and Rang He was in a car travelling from CST towards Cama Hospital with Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte and four other constables. He too was awarded Ashoka Chakra posthumously.Ashok KamteKilled along with Hemant Karkare and Vijay Salaskar and commemorated with Ashoka Chakra in the succeeding Republic Day, Kamte was the Additional Commissioner of Police then.Tukaram OmbleAsst. Sub-inspector and retired army man, he was serving at the police chowki at Girgaum Chowpatty when Ajmal Kasab and his accomplices passed from there. Though he lost his life fighting Kasab, he was instrumental in capturing the sole Pakistani terrorist alive.Major Sandeep UnnikrishnanCommando of National Security Guards, he lost his life fighting terrorists at Taj Mahal Palace and Towers. Unnikrishnan was heading Operation Black Tornado and was the team commander of 51 SAG in the siege. Politicians Vilasrao DeshmukhThe then Chief Minister of Maharashtra had to resign in the aftermath of the attacks due to growing public discontent as he was perceived to be inept and insensitive to the sufferings of people when he took his son Riteish Deshmukh and filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma to the Taj Mahal Palace and Towers post the incident. RR PatilDeputy Chief and Home Minister of Maharashtra in 2008, RR Patil received a lot of criticism when he made this statement in a press conference post 26/11, “Aisa nahi hai. Itne bade shahar mein chhota hadsa ho jata hai. To total failure nahi hai”. He was forced to resign over comment.

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