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Mumbai – CCTV cameras bring down crime rate: Survey

Not only in the premises, many working parents have installed CCTV cameras in their drawing rooms, to keep an eye on their baby-sitters. They can access the live footage on their smartphones, so that they can ensure the infant is safe while they are out. Besides, several breakthroughs in police investigations have happened only due to the footage captured by CCTV cameras. For example, the case of abduction, rape and murder of young techie S Esther Anuhya of Andhra Pradesh.

dna Correspondent

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New Delhi: Stricter traffic rules to be implemented starting tomorrow

The senior officers and field staff have been briefed through meetings and a detailed circular about implementation of the new guidelines will come into force from tomorrow morning, the officer said.

PTI
Driving licences of traffic violators in the national capital will be suspended for three months as Delhi Traffic Police is all set to implement Supreme Court-appointed committee’s recommendations from tomorrow.”Seizing and suspension of driving licences, even for the first offenders, will take place for jumping red light, drunken driving, over-speeding, using mobile phone while driving, and carrying passengers in goods vehicles,” said Muktesh Chander, Special Commissioner (Traffic).”We are going to implement the recommendations of the Supreme Court’s Committee strictly from day one and all the Traffic staff have been readied to handle violators as per the new guidelines,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The senior officers and field staff have been briefed through meetings and a detailed circular about implementation of the new guidelines will come into force from tomorrow morning, the officer said. Besides, the violations of traffic rules will also be punished with heavy fines.Fines for first offence and subsequent offences in case of over-speeding will be Rs 400 and Rs 1,000 respectively, the officer said. In case of drunk driving, court challans will be issued and such drivers could end up paying a fine of upto Rs 2,000, besides serving jail term of upto 6 months on being sentenced by magistrate on their first offence.On subsequent offences of drunk driving, the accused will pay fine of upto Rs 3,000, besides being sent behind bars for a period of upto 2 years, he said. The fines for using mobile phone while driving as first and subsequent offence will be Rs Rs 1,000 and Rs 2000. People not wearing helmet and seat belt will be fined with Rs 100 and Rs 300, the officer added.

RTI online portal to be converted in Hindi: Govt

Till now, 463 public authorities have been aligned to the portal. It is proposed to extend the RTI online portal to more public authorities and also to make technical improvements in it during the next year, an order issued by the DoPT said.
Representational Image
dna Research & Archives
A website meant for filing of RTI applications will be converted into Hindi language as well, the government said on Monday. At present, the portal– www.rtionline.gov.in– is available in English language only.The website was launched in August 2013 by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) for all Central government ministries with a view to provide a facility to citizens to file RTI applications and first appeals online.Till now, 463 public authorities have been aligned to the portal. It is proposed to extend the RTI online portal to more public authorities and also to make technical improvements in it during the next year, an order issued by the DoPT said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Making RTI online portal available in Hindi language as well. Mobile application for RTI online portal,” said the scope of work made public by the government.Users will also get auto sms alerts and email if any modification is done in their account, it said. Besides, there will be more features for both the public authorities and citizens to improve interface and easy processing of RTI applications. The DoPT has sought comments from people on the proposed changes from people within 15 days.RTI users have also been complaining delayed response in processing their applications through the online portal. The Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 empower a citizen to get time-bound response from government departments on their queries on governance.

Dance bars back in Mumbai, but with several restrictions, spy cams

PARTY POOPER | Only a limited number of dancers should take the floor * Showering of currency notes will be a strict no-no

Under fire from the Supreme Court for failing to comply with its order to issue licences for re-opening of dance bars, the Fadnavis government has come up with a new set of regulations, including making CCTV cameras mandatory in bars that are expected to open soon.Highly-placed sources in the department said as per the draft proposal, the number of dancers will be restricted to four to make surveillance easier. The dancers must be aged 18 and above and should neither wear provocative/obscene/vulgar clothes nor booze around that time.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A five-feet gap between the dance floor and the visitors will be made compulsory. Besides there will be a ban on showering of currency notes on the dancers, and smoking would not be permitted inside the bars.”Implementing the regulations would be the job of local police. Also the licence holders will be bound to follow changes that we may make in the regulations from time to time, else their licence will be cancelled,” said a senior officer.Sources said the new regulations will be put up before chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who’s handling Home portfolio, for the final consent.On October 17, while directing the government to issue licences, the court had added a caveat that “no dance performance shall remotely be expressive of any kind of obscenity in any manner” and that “licensing authority can take steps so that the individual dignity of a woman is not affected and there remains no room for any kind of obscenity”.Sources in the department said that in 2006, soon after Bombay high court had first turned down the ban, a committee was set up under the home department to look into measures that can restrict exploitation of women and youth. “Some of the above mentioned measures were then recommended by that committee,” the officer added. KILLJOY CURBS Only 4 dancers allowedCCTvs in bars a mustMinors can’t performDancers not to drinkNo-smoking restrictionNo showering of notesNo getting near dancersDress code for dancers

Delhi to go ‘car-free’ on Jan 22; CM Kejriwal to cycle to office

Kejriwal also vowed to soon take Car-Free Day from being symbolic to a reality.

At present, the government holds such Car-Free Day on 22nd of every month on separate stretches in different areas. (File Photo)

PTI
To make Delhi pollution-free, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday announced that ‘Car-Free Day’ will be organised across the national capital on January 22, saying that he will cycle to his office that day. He also said that the government with the support of people will run campaign to encourage masses to use cycle or public transport to reach their offices on January 22.The Delhi government today held the second ‘Car-Free Day’ in Dwarka — on the road stretch between Sector 3-13 and Sector 7-9, which witnessed a cycle rally led by Kejriwal, and participation of school children, and IAS and DANICS officers. The chief minister said, “If we reduce cars on the roads of Delhi, pollution level can come down significantly in the national capital. I am not saying that the entire Delhi will follow our appeal and if 5 or 10 per cent of people follow our appeal, 10 per cent pollution will come down which will be big achievements for us,” he said. “We will organise it in entire Delhi on January 22 and I am very sure that we will succeed… I will also cycle to my office on January 22,” Kejriwal said while addressing a gathering in Dwarka.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Kejriwal also vowed to soon take Car-Free Day from being symbolic to a reality. At present, the government holds such Car-Free Day on 22nd of every month on separate stretches in different areas.Transport Minister Gopal Rai said that government will make an appeal to people not to use their private cars on January 22. “We will appeal to the people of Delhi to use cycle or public transport to their offices on January 22. Besides, government will also organise a cycle rally on separate stretches as part of ‘Car-Free Day’,” Rai said.Delhi Traffic Police did not allow private cars between Sector 3-13 and Sector 7-9 choosen as ‘car-free’ stretch. He also said that when some NGOs and Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) measured pollution level between Red Fort and India Gate during the first ‘Car-Free Day’ last month, they found that there was 60 per cent decrease in pollution level on the stretch. “There were several talks about the exact reason of rising pollution in Delhi but it was made clear when pollution came down between Red Fort and India Gate because cars did not run on this stretch,” he added.

Mining on non-forest land can begin with nod from state governments

According to the new guidelines, the ministry had “received representations to amend the (earlier) guidelines under Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 to allow mining on non-forest areas.

Relaxing green norms for coal production, the environment ministry has decided that companies can begin work in non-forestry areas of a coal block even before they obtain requisite clearances to mine in the forested areas of the block. The decision is likely to benefit power companies and cut down time taken to mine coal. As per earlier guidelines issued by the environment ministry under the Forest (Conservation), Act, 1980, coal mining on non-forest land was not allowed until the Centre released forest land for mining.According to the new guidelines, the ministry had “received representations to amend the (earlier) guidelines under Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 to allow mining on non-forest areas. After ‘careful examination’ of the representations received, the ministry decided that the onus of granting permission to begin mining on non-forest areas should be on the state governments. Explaining this decision, the ministry’s new guidelines said, “The State government, if so desires, may execute a separate mining lease for a whole or part of non-forest land falling in mining lease, once Stage-I approval under FC Act 1980 for the entire forest land falling in such mining lease is obtained.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Adding a note of caution, the guidelines also added, “The state government, in such cases, shall take all measures that no violation of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 occurs on forest land.”The ministry’s move relaxes the norms for coal mining on multiple counts. To begin with, Stage-I forest clearance under the FC Act, 1980, only pertains to recommendation of projects by the ministry’s expert committee for clearance. After obtaining this recommendation, the project proponent has to ensure that forest rights of tribal communities are settled under the Forest Rights Act, 2006. Besides, they also are required to deposit money with the ministry for afforestation and comply with other conditions, such as mitigation measures to conserve wildlife if necessary.Later, companies obtain Stage-II clearance only when they fulfill these obligations. However, it has been witnessed in several instances that forest rights of tribal communities are not settled on time. In certain instances, final clearances for cutting down forests may be rejected if the project proponent is found violating conditions laid down after the Stage-I clearance. But, the new guidelines effectively detach fulfilling of conditions pertaining to forest land by allowing mining to begin on non-forest areas.While this may increase coal production and boost the power sector, environmentalists said that it will hasten the vetting of projects and clearances. Even as India is trying to increase its share of renewable energy to reduce carbon emissions, 52% of the country’s energy needs are met by coal and 66% of power generation is coal based, according to data from Coal India Limited, the world’s largest producer of coal. Stages for clearancesThe ministry’s move relaxes the norms for coal mining on multiple counts. To begin with, Stage-I forest clearance under the FC Act, 1980, only pertains to recommendation of projects by the ministry’s expert committee for clearance. After obtaining this recommendation, the project proponent has to ensure that forest rights of tribal communities are settled under the Forest Rights Act, 2006. Besides, they also are required to deposit money with the ministry for afforestation and comply with other conditions, such as mitigation measures to conserve wildlife if necessary.

Jayalalithaa announces Rs 500 crore for flood relief, rehabilitation

Chennai: With Tamil Nadu hit by monsoon fury causing flood and inundation, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Monday announced allocation of Rs 500 crore towards relief and rehabilitation.

The Army’s help has been sought to rescue stranded people at nearby Tambaram, she said.

J Jayalalithaa. AFPJ Jayalalithaa. AFP

J Jayalalithaa. AFP

“I have allocated Rs 500 crore towards relief and rehabilitation with immediate effect,” she said.

Jayalalithaa said that besides spending for relief and rehabilitation, the allocation would also be used for disbursement of solatium to affected people.

As many as 71 deaths have been reported in various rain-related incidents, including electrocution and drowning.

Jayalalithaa had last week announced enhanching compensation to families of those killed in rain-related incidents from Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs four lakh, besides relief for injured and death of cattle and poultry.

In a statement, the CM said she had directed officials to further expedite relief and rehabilitaion measures in the wake of the government announcing the Rs 500 crore relief package.

Detailing the government’s initiatives in the affected districts, especially the worst-affected Cuddalore, she said power supply had been restored in 671 of 683 affected rural body areas. Besides 40 medical camps were functioning.

As many as 121 camps had been held to cater to cattle while fodder for animals was being given free of cost.

In 70 relief camps, 58,000 food packets were being distributed, she said.

At Chennai, of the 587 areas, water has been removed in 207 locations and Corporation of Chennai workers were involved in clearing water in the rest of the places.

Most subways, except for six, had been cleared of water and vehicular movement restored, she said, adding uprooted trees were being removed on a war footing.

The government was implementing relief and rehabilitation measures on a war-footing in neighbouring Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram areas, she said.

As regards Kancheepuram district, also severely affected, a 160-member NDRF team, three from the State Disaster Response Force, were assisting the district administration.

PTI

Rape cases in India more than doubled in 2001-14: Report

Besides, cruelty against married women has risen nearly 2.5 times, the report on ‘Status of Women in India’, released at the International Conference on Gender Equality at Kovalam said

India has witnessed a surge in rape cases since 2001, when the crime more than doubled, an International Conference on Gender Equality was told.Besides, cruelty against married women has risen nearly 2.5 times, the report on ‘Status of Women in India’, released at the International Conference on Gender Equality at Kovalam said. While rape cases registered between 2001 and 2014 rose from 16,075 to 36,735, cases of cruelty against married woman jumped from 49,170 to 1,22,877, the report said.”If you look at it, ‘home’ is the first sanctuary of violence against women in the form of incest and early marriage,” Pam Rajput, Chairperson of a High-Level Committee (HLC) on the Status of Women in India, said at the Conference. The HLC report was an attempt to recommend policy interventions based on contemporary assessment of women’s economic, legal, political, education, health and socio-cultural needs, she said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The report notes that globally India ranks second-last (141 out of 142 countries) in health and wanted that public health spending be increased to 4.5 per cent. It was 40 years ago on the eve of the foremost UN world conference of women that the first report on the status of women in India was submitted.Rajput noted that India has one of the worst gender gaps in the world workforce participation, with only 25 per cent (15 per cent in urban areas and the rest in rural areas). “This can be revised only by integrating macroeconomic policy with social policy and examining the situation of underpaid women working in public services as voluntary or social workers,” she said. “Despite the economic growth and the increase in the level of education, women find it very difficult to make free choices,” she said.

Toll collectors struggle to implement SC order as no green tax paid in last 2 days in Delhi

The apex court order on commercial vehicles to pay ‘Environment Compensation Charge’ (ECC) for entering Delhi that came into force from Sunday onwards would be difficult to implement, if toll collectors manning the booths are to be believed.

The apex court order on commercial vehicles to pay ‘Environment Compensation Charge’ (ECC) for entering Delhi that came into force from Sunday onwards would be difficult to implement, if toll collectors manning the booths are to be believed.John D’souza, incharge of toll at Singhu Border, says that it is not possible to check every vehicle entering the national capital.“It has been observed at Singhu Border that number of vehicles have reduced since order has come into force. Besides, we have not received any intimation from Delhi government on how to implement the tax,” he adds.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As per official sources, no green tax has been collected in last two days because there has been no official communication from Delhi government. Cops could also not be seen manning the booths for implementation of the order.As per the Supreme Court order, a green tax of Rs 700 and Rs 1,300 has to be levied on commercial vehicles entering Delhi to ensure that national capital, which has been counted amongst one of the most polluted cities in the world, can have a cleaner air.This report was first published on iamin.in. For more hyper-local stories visit their website.

Overlooking wildlife corridor and rich water source, MoEF clears Mopa airport in Goa

The project’s clearance, though, does not make any mention of an active wildlife corridor close to the airport site. The airport site falls in the same region which is a continuation of the Sawantwadi-Dodamarg wildlife corridor of Maharashtra, that is used by tigers and migrating elephant herd.

Overlooking major environmental concerns of locals and green groups, the ministry of environment and forests has granted a green clearance for Goa’s second airport to be built in Mopa village at a cost of Rs3000 crore. The ministry’s expert appraisal committee had recommended the project for clearance in its last meeting on October 20, and even before making its minutes public, the ministry granted it a final environmental clearance. The airport project requires a total of 2,271 acres and it will be built in four phases.The ministry’s green clearance has come with certain caveats. The proposed airport has to obtain a ‘consent to establish’ permission from the State Pollution Control Board and also has to ensure availability of land near the proposed airport for managing traffic near the NH17 junction. Besides, for water conservation, the project proponent has to provide fixtures and rain water harvesting too has to be adopted.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The project’s clearance, though, does not make any mention of an active wildlife corridor close to the airport site. The airport site falls in the same region which is a continuation of the Sawantwadi-Dodamarg wildlife corridor of Maharashtra, that is used by tigers and migrating elephant herd.The proposed greenfield airport has Goans divided on several issues ranging from environment, tourism and land. While the current airport is located at Dabolim in Goa’s centre, the new proposed airport in Mopa is located in the northern most region, close to Maharashtra’s Sindhudurg district.While laying down general and specific conditions for the airport, locals said that the ministry has overlooked the fact that the plateau where the project will be built is a rich source of water for local farmers. Further, the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report of the airport was heavily criticised during the project’s public hearing, where locals said that the report did not take into account the flora and fauna found near the project site.”The Mopa plateau is rich in biodiversity where Bisons and Leopards have been sighted. The flora and fauna of the site is similar to that of the Western Ghats, but this did not even figure in EIA report. At the public hearing, tribals from Dhangar community too had protested against the project but the clearance does not make any mention of these protests,” said Ramesh Gawas, an activist from Bicholim.

Home Ministry likely to reject recommendation for abolition of death penalty

Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi and other senior officials had detailed discussions on the Law Commission’s report supporting abolition of death penalty except in terror-related cases

The Home Ministry is likely to reject Law Commission’s recommendation for abolition of death penalty, maintaining that time was not ripe yet to remove it completely from the statute book keeping in mind the threat from terrorism.Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi and other senior officials had detailed discussions on the Law Commission’s report supporting abolition of death penalty except in terror-related cases. “Discussions within the Ministry as well as with the Law Ministry are continuing and a final decision is expected to be taken this week. In all probability, the recommendation for abolition of death penalty will be rejected,” a senior Home Ministry official said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Officials are of the opinion that time has not come yet to do away with capital punishment as threat of terrorism to India continues. In its report, the Law Commission had recommended by a majority “swift” abolition of death penalty except in terror-related cases, noting it does not serve the penological goal of deterrence any more than life imprisonment. The recommendation by the 9-member panel was, however, not unanimous, with one full-time member and two government representatives dissenting and supporting retention of capital punishment.Two government appointees on the law panel — ex-officio members P K Malhotra (Law Secretary) and Sanjay Singh (Legislative Secretary) had given their dissent notes. Besides them, Justice (Retd) Usha Mehra, a permanent member of the panel too had opposed it. A copy of the report was also submitted to the Supreme Court by the Commission as the apex court had asked the panel to examine the issue.In 1967, the Commission in its 35th report had supported continuation of death penalty.Registering his dissent, Law Secretary Malhotra had said Parliament in its wisdom has prescribed death penalty only in heinous crimes. “The need of the hour is to retain it…We have a vibrant judiciary which is respected world-over. We should have faith in the wisdom of our judges that they will exercise this power only in deserving cases for which the law is well laid down in various judgments…,” he said.Legislative Secretary Singh had maintained the panel should not recommend something which has the effect of preventing the state from making any law in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of the country.The Commission had said there is a need to debate as to how to bring about the “abolition of death penalty in all respects in the very near future, soonest.”

Dowry seekers, wife beaters to face social boycott in Kashmir

Muslim clergy have called upon all the harassed girls to register their complaints before local imams apart from police so that the family which tortures their daughters in law could be ostracized in the society.

Husbands and mothers-in-law beware! Demanding dowry or beating wife would invoke social boycott in the Kashmir valley.Muslim clergy have called upon all the harassed girls to register their complaints before local imams apart from police so that the family which tortures their daughters in law could be ostracized in the society.”For the last three there have been 1200 cases of domestic violence in Kashmir. And it is just 20 per cent of the actual number of cases. Eighty per cent of people do not register their cases due to social, family and other pressures. It is an alarming trend and we need to take this issue head on,” Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chief cleric of Kashmir and chairman of moderate Hurriyat Conference, told dna.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Under the plan charted out by the clergy, the families found involved in the domestic violence and demanding dowry would face instant social boycott by the community in their localities in a last ditch effort to end the harassment of the brides.”Apart from the legal action there is a need to mount social pressure on these elements. First and foremost thing is that our sisters and daughters should muster courage and register their cases before the police. After that they should approach local imam so that he could involve the community. Mohalla and imam will then mount pressure and boycott these elements socially”, said Mirwaiz.Clergy has also decided to go full throttle and launch awareness campaign to educate people about the tenants of Islam so that the menace of domestic violence and dowry is put to an end.”There is no concept of dowry in Islam. In fact, it is the other way round. Groom’s family has to bear all expenses of the bride as well. Unfortunately, it has become cultural thing. Imams will be speaking on these issues on Fridays. I will be speaking myself on this issue for the next month in Jamia Masjid to create a religious awareness among the people,” said Mirwaiz.Waking up to the violence against women, Jammu and Kashmir government has decided to start one-stop-crisis-center to help the women in distress.”We have got a go ahead for the centre. It will have office in Jammu and its lines will be opened in Kashmir. Distressed women could call us. on the number which we will be providing. We will provide all the legal and police protection to the women in distress. Besides we will also provide temporary shelter to such women,” Asiea Naqash, J&K minister of state for health and social welfare, told dna.

Farmer commits suicide due to crop failure in Gujarat

A 30-year-old farmer from Gujarat, who was reportedly under heavy debt, has allegedly committed suicide by consuming some poisonous material, police said.

Representational Image

dna Research & Archives
A 30-year-old farmer from Gujarat, who was reportedly under heavy debt, has allegedly committed suicide by consuming some poisonous material, police said.”Manoj Malviya, aged around 30, committed suicide by consuming salfas tablets at his farm in Mendarpara village of Bhensan taluka of Junagadh district,” Head constable VD Desai of Bhensan taluka police station told PTI.”He took the extreme step due to crop failure and increasing debt on him. Besides, his family-members said that he was distressed due to present situation which led him to kill self,” he added.Malviya’s brother Chandresh told reporters that crop-failure led his brother to commit suicide.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”My brother was disturbed for last couple of days as he could not get good crop this year and he kept saying to us that he was under severe pressure due to crop failure and on the other hand debt was increasing on him,” Chandresh said.”He consumed salfas tablets last night in his field and ended his life,” Chandresh added. Meanwhile, police have sent his body for post-mortem and initiated probe in the case, Desai said.

Netaji kin to meet PM Narendra Modi on October 14

Modi had mentioned that he was soon going to host the Netaji family in Delhi.

The focus of the meeting would be on declassification of Netaji files so that the mystery surrounding the freedom fighter’s disappearance in 1945 could be solved

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s kin on Monday said their appointment with Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been fixed on October 14 in Delhi. “We just got a mail from the Prime Minister’s Office, saying that a meeting has been confirmed for October 14 at 5 pm at his residence on the 7, Race Course Road,” Netaji’s grand nephew, Chandra Bose said. He said that a delegation of Netaji family members and associates would be going there to demand declassification of all Netaji files held by the central government.”Family members spread all over the country and overseas would attend the meeting. Besides, there would be researchers on Netaji like Anuj Dhar,” Bose said. “Retired Supreme Court Justice Ashok Ganguly, who has also supported our cause, would also attend,” Bose said, adding, their delegation would have around 50 people. In his last address on ‘Mann ki Baat’ radio programme, Modi had mentioned that he was soon going to host the Netaji family in Delhi.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The focus of the meeting would be on declassification of Netaji files so that the mystery surrounding the freedom fighter’s disappearance in 1945 could be solved, Bose said. The West Bengal government had also recently released 64 secret Netaji files.

Maharashtra drought: Making ends meet is a daily struggle, says Nanded farmer

Mother of four daughters and a son, Chandrabhaga has already got three of her daughters married.

For 40-year-old Chandrabhaga Raymale, Wednesday was a lucky day as she got a job to pluck cotton at a field. After her day’s hard work she was paid Rs 100 that was used to buy rice, oil and masala to feed her family of four.Chandrabhaga — a resident of Loha village in Nanded district — is the sole earning member of her family after her husband Sudhakar, 50, suffered from paralysis a year ago. “Forget about helping, he cannot even go out to answer nature’s call. We have spent a lot of money on doctors but his health is not improving. You can imagine the condition of a house where the breadwinner is bedridden,” she said. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Before my husband’s health deteriorated, things were pretty fine. He used to work on annual contract in farms and his earning was between Rs 35,000 and 40,000 per year. Besides, I also worked on daily wages so running the house was not difficult. But now, his health has put us in a tight spot,” she added.Mother of four daughters and a son, Chandrabhaga has already got three of her daughters married. “My third daughter got married last year and for the wedding we spent Rs 2 lakh. The youngest daughter, Pooja, is in Class 10 and once she reaches Class 12, we will get her married. But due to this drought things have become difficult. We do not have money to buy food, how will I get her married,” she lamented.Chandrabhaga, who owns once acre of arid land, said after her husband’s paralysis she finds it difficult to make the ends meet. “We do not have enough grains and pulses. We cannot buy vegetables. Juhunka-Bhakar is our daily diet and at times we eat roti with salt or chilly powder. There have been days where we do not have anything to eat. We are facing this situation because our land is not supporting us,” she said, adding that the only time her family gets to eat enough food whenever there is a feast at the temple.The 40-year-old said there is no one from her maternal side to help her. “My father died when I was a child. My uncle arranged my marriage. I have no brothers, so where can I go,” asked Chandrabhaga.

Vyapam scam: ED quizzes accused Jagdish Sagar for information about his property

Sagar, who was arrested in connection with 2013 Vyapam scam, was brought from Bhopal jail amidst tight security to the ED’s sub-zonal office, where sleuths quizzed him for four hours, the ED official said.

Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials on Wednesday interrogated Jagdish Sagar, an accused in Vyapam scam, and reportedly managed to get more information about his ‘ill-gotten’ property which was allegedly amassed through his involvement in the Vyapam scam, a top ED official said.Sagar, who was arrested in connection with 2013 Vyapam scam, was brought from Bhopal jail amidst tight security to the ED’s sub-zonal office, where sleuths quizzed him for four hours, the ED official said.”We have received information about some properties owned by him. We suspect that he amassed this property through the black money he had minted in the Vyapam scam,” the ED official said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier, the ED had grilled Sagar on August 26 last year after it attached his movable and immovable properties worth Rs 3.34 crore, the ED official said. Besides Sagar, ED has investigated Vyapam’s former examination controller Pankaj Trivedi and nine others under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).According to the MP police, Sagar, who had allegedly colluded with Trivedi, had allegedly taken huge bribes from many students to admitting them fraudulently to government medical colleges across Madhya Pradesh.

Anna Hazare suspends October 2 hunger strike in New Delhi

Anna Hazare said he received an overwhelming response from the people for the issues he have raised.

Anna Hazare

Social activist Anna Hazare on Saturday said he has decided to suspend his agitation scheduled on October 2 in New Delhi as the Central government allowed the Land Ordinance to lapse and implemented the One Rank One Pension (OROP) for ex-servicemen.”I had decided to launch a hunger strike at Ram Lila Maidan in New Delhi on October 2, on birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri to press for the demands pertaining to Land Acquisition Bill and One Rank One Pension scheme,” Hazare told reporters at his native Ralegan Siddhi in Ahmednagar district.The septuagenarian said he had travelled to various places across the country and held public meetings and rallies to build public awareness on the contentious issues. Hazare said he received an overwhelming response from the people. Several organisations of jawans and farmers had also launched agitation in large scale, which compelled the BJP-led NDA government to withdraw the ordinance and to accept the demands to implement the OROP.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Land acquisition ordinance were unjust to farmers and several farmers’organisations in the country had come out on the streets and launched agitation to protest against the proposed amendments in the Land acquisition bill, he added. Besides, ex-servicemen too had began an agitation for OROP.Hazare also demanded the appointment of Lokpal and Lokayutas and said he would launch a fresh agitation if the government did not implement the same.

BBMP Polls: JD(S)- Congress alliance upset BJP’s plans, Manjunatha Reddy new Mayor

BJP had won 100 wards out of 198 and Congress 76, JDS 14 and others eight. Besides corporators, the 260-member BBMP Council includes 62 other members from Bengaluru with voting rights. They include Members of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, MLAs and MLCs.

Manjunatha Reddy

Even after BJP winning 100 of 198 seats in the August 22 BBMP polls, Congress- JD(S) has managed to win the mayoral elections. Manjunatha Reddy of Congress has been elected as the new mayor. Hemalatha Gopalaiah of the JD(S) will be the deputy mayor.BJP had won 100 wards out of 198 and Congress 76, JDS 14 and others eight. Besides corporators, the 260-member BBMP Council includes 62 other members from Bengaluru with voting rights. They include Members of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, MLAs and MLCs. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Besides corporators, the 260-member BBMP Council includes 62 other members from Bengaluru with voting rights. They include Members of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, MLAs and MLCs. With the magic number to gain control over BBMP being 131, the Congress-JDS alliance with combined strength of 132, managed to sail through. In the backdrop of JDS deciding to join hands with Congress for the mayoral polls, BJP had filed a petition in Karnataka High Court, challenging Section 10 of Karnataka Municipal Act 1976, which allows both non-corporators and corporators to participate in the Mayoral poll. The court had on Wednesday ordered that the result of the September 11 mayoral election would be subjected to the outcome of the petition.However, the court had said it would keep aside the election of the mayor if the constitutionality of the participation of non-corporators was invalidated. In the wake of hung council, police has imposed prohibitory orders on the premises of BBMP head office.With agency inputs

Govt silent on FTII row: With students planning hunger strike, stalemate intensifies

Ninety days and there’s still no end to the FTII stalemate in sight. With the government showing no sign of backing down or softening its position on the students’ demands, the latter have decided to intensify their agitation by going on hunger strike. Besides, they would garner support from other states for their cause.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The hardening of stance comes after Abhijit Das, a faculty member who had entered into a hunger strike on the Teachers’ Day (5 September), fell ill and was forced to withdraw.
“It was for the first time that a faculty member had joined the strike in support of the students. When his condition deteriorated due to fasting, we forced him to withdraw. The strike has entered its 90th day and it seems to be an end of our career. We’ve now decided to follow the extreme path of fast-unto-death as the government has turned a deaf ear to our demands. Besides, students’ organizations and activist groups will conduct protest march in all the state capitals to express solidarity with our cause,” Devas Dixit, a final year student told Firstpost.

Meanwhile, the government is silent over the findings of the three-member committee appointed by the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) ministry into the troubles within FTII. The committee, headed by SM Khan, Registrar of Newspapers for India, members had visited Pune campus on 21 August and had rounds of discussions with students, faculty members and the alumni association.

“We’ve come to know that the committee has submitted its report to the ministry, but nothing has been communicated to us. We’re completely in dark, which is making the situation worse,” Devas added.

The government has so far not commented on the findings of the committee. But a source in the ministry said it disapproves of the students’ approach on their demands. “From the demands of the FTII students, it seems that henceforth the government should consult students’ bodies regarding appointments of vice chancellors, chairpersons, directors and principals in the universities and institutes. The issue has unnecessarily been over-stretched,” a ministry official said on condition of anonymity.

FTII row opens a can of worms

Though the issue of the appointment of the chairperson and other members has hogged media limelight, and the 2008 batch emerged as a ‘bone of contention’, the real problem began in 2001.

An interim report by the Group of Experts headed by PK Nair, former director, National Film Archive of India, in 2011 mentioned that it was not the students, but the existing system within the FTII that was at fault.

A copy of the report with the Firstpost mentions:

  • In 2000, a new experiment, known as the 1+1+1 plan was hurriedly introduced by the administration, and it ended in disaster.
  • A large number of semi-complete and incomplete students’ projects got piled up. The three-year course stretched on until sixth year, causing strain on students, teachers and administration.
  • Delays due to lack of mechanisms to monitor maintenance of time schedules and production budgets.
  • Infrastructural bottlenecks.
  • Desperate shortage of teachers and trained faculty members at the institute.
  • Unavailability and inaccessibility of faculty at crucial junctures.

“Equipment has been known to fail due to faulty maintenance, power cuts have disrupted schedules, laboratories have caused delays and the office bureaucracy may take days to obtain one signature for the release of required facilities…It is now so much a part of life on the campus that any fresh candidate applying for the FTII admission, we were told, is reconciled to the idea of staying for 5 years to complete a three-year programme. How long can this deteriorated state of affairs be allowed to continue?” Nair questioned in his report.

Another note written to the government by Dr Kedarnath Awati, Acting Dean, Faculty of Film at the institute has exposed the biggest anomaly, which is the jurisdiction of the I&B Ministry over the institute. He has also mentioned several causes of delay for the students to complete their curriculum.

Dr Awati said in the note, “For I&B Ministry, the FTII is but a tiny blip on a larger radar screen. We’ve been regarded as a media unit, rather than an academic institution. To top it all, we’re not even an arm of the government, like the National Film Archive of India. We’re an autonomous body run by a Governing Council. The proposals sent to the ministry have languished.”

Awati suggested, “It would have been better had the FTII been transferred lock, stock and barrel to the Ministry of HRD. Because, at HRD Ministry, education is the very life-blood and they understand the issues very clearly.”

Ranjit Nair, a core committee member of the strike, added, “We have raised our concern time and again but to no effect. The ministry and successive governments have been negligent. They level accusations against the students instead. The students have always protested against administrative failures. We have written letters to the ministry through years, but those were tossed aside. The delay in completion of the course has been going on since 2001.”

The controversy in nutshell

The FTII students went on a strike protesting the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as chairperson and four other members (out of eight) of the board. The reason stated was that the chairperson and the four members had strong Hindu right wing connection and didn’t have a body of work to justify their positions at FTII. The students’ body questioned the basis on which the appointments were made.

But gradually the 2008 batch of FTII emerged as the bone of contention, and it has been said that the students of this batch have been instrumental in the strike on the campus. And, this is the group of students virtually controlling the campus for seven years. When the institute’s director Prashant Pathrabe asked for an assessment of the projects of the 2008 batch students, he was gheraoed and it resulted in a midnight police crackdown in August. Five students were arrested and later released on bail.

Rahat Jain, a student of screenplay writing, justified the strike saying, “It is not just to oust a particular set of people but to strengthen the process. Regarding protests on appointments, if you go through the list of previous chairmen and FTII Society members, you will find them of a certain stature, repute and experience that is completely lacking in the current appointments. We have always reiterated that our strike is not against a particular government, but against the continuous negligence of the institute by successive governments that has now boiled over by the extent of the incapability of the latest appointments.”

India remains ready to neutralise its enemies, says Rajyavardhan Rathore on Dawood, Hafiz Saeed

“Wherever the enemy of India is, he should not think that India is not thinking anything about him,” Rathore said in an interview with TV news channel when it was noted that fugitives like Dawood and Saeed are living peacefully in Pakistan.

The country’s enemies, like Dawood Ibrahim and LeT chief Hafiz Saeed, should not believe that India is not thinking anything about them, Union Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said on Sunday. “We always remain ready to neutralise our enemy,” he said when asked what the government was doing about Dawood Ibrahim, the main accused in 1993 Mumbai blasts, and Saeed, who are wanted in India.”Wherever the enemy of India is, he should not think that India is not thinking anything about him,” Rathore said in an interview with TV news channel when it was noted that fugitives like Dawood and Saeed are living peacefully in Pakistan. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It was pointed out to him that 15 months of Modi government have passed but nothing had been done with regard to fugitives taking shelter in Pakistan, except for preparing a dossier. To this, he replied, “saam, daam, dand, beid (all means will be used). Besides dossier, and other means also will be used. Whenever it happens, you will get the news.”Asked whether there could be any covert operation, the minister who was formerly a Colonel in the Army, said, “We may do it but there will be no publicity before that. After the operation, there may be or there may not be. It depends on whether the government says it should be ‘covert operation’ or a ‘special operation’.He said a covert operation may never be known but information about a special operation may be given after it is done. “A special operation is made public after it is done. It depends on the government as to when to do it…. Who knows it may be happening now or not happening now but it will be made public only after it is done,” Rathore said.

To quickly react to ‘negative news’, government plans setting up teams of experts: Report

Besides the nodal officer from Press Information Bureau (PIB), the team could comprise of senior officer from each department.

To respond to negative news that appears in the media, the government is planning to set up teams of experts in various ministries, reported a leading daily.According to Sunday Express, departments of various ministries were advised to form a list of experts including people from outside the government and keep their contact details ready. These expert would be called if an issue becomes big and to present the government’s case in a pertinent manner when the issue becomes critical.Quoting a senior officer, the report said that during the recent Gujarat violence, the government did not manage the media well, and at the high level (PMO) it was felt that there was no effective communication.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The report further added that besides the nodal officer from Press Information Bureau (PIB), the team could comprise of senior officer from each department.Recently, the NDA government issued separate show-cause notices to an English and two Hindi news channels for their coverage of the of Yakub Memon’s execution on July 30, 2015.The government had said that the three private channels had shown disrespect to the Supreme court’s decision and also to the President of India’s refusal to grant clemency to the 1993 Mumbai blasts convict.In this process, The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting will play a role in drafting quick response on sensitive news to ensure that the voice of the government is heard.

Maharashtra’s ‘Mountain Man’ built 40-km roads in 57 years

“At the time of Independence, there was not even a ‘paywat’ (walking trail) connecting Gundegaon to adjoining village,” Bhapkar, who has studied till seventh standard in Modi language, said.

Representational image.

dna Research & Archives
From Ahmednagar district in Maharashtra comes the story of another ‘Mountain Man’, who like the more famous Dashrath Manjhi, took on the task of cutting hills to build roads. The 84-year-old Rajaram Bhapkar, a former teacher at Gundegaon village in Ahmednagar district, has cut through seven hills in last 57 years to make 40-km roads and is a respected across the region for his feat.Bhapkar, known affectionately as ‘Bhapkar Guruji’, looks a simple villager, clad in a white shirt and pajama and sporting a ‘Gandhi’ cap. However, beneath that simplicity lies a steely resolve, which moved the mountains, literally.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”At the time of Independence, there was not even a ‘paywat’ (walking trail) connecting Gundegaon to adjoining village,” Bhapkar, who has studied till seventh standard in Modi language, said.When Bhapkar, who worked in zilla parishad school between 1957 to 1991, was working at Kolegaon, people from his villages had to cross three villages to reach there.Bhapkar remembers asking government authorities to build a road cutting across the 700 meter high Santosha hill.With no help forthcoming, he embarked on a journey of grit and determination, which 57 years later would result in seven roads, altogether 40-km long, linking his village to the adjoining villages.Earlier, the route to Kolegaon via Deulgaon was 29 km long. The distance became just 10 km after Bhapkar, through sheer grit, cut through the hill and made a kuchcha road.He paid wages from his pocket to those who accompanied him in the road work.”I used to spend half my salary on their wages,” Not a single rupee from the government has been spent on the road work,” he adds.”In 1968 not even a cycle could pass through the earlier walking trail. Now, big vehicles ply on this road,” a villager said.He completed the road in 1997.Bhapkar said he spent his entire post retirement earning and pension to fund the road work. Besides working with spade and shovel, he also hired heavy duty excavator machines for expediting the road work.

Can PM Narendra Modi’s Rs 1.25 lakh crore promise to Bihar touch chords across caste lines?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi being received by Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and governor Ram Nath Kovind (centre) on his arrival in Ara on Tuesday

AFP
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a Rs 1.25 lakh crore package for poll-bound Bihar, surpassing the expectations of even several state leaders of the BJP, he took the party’s development pitch to a thundering applause in an outreach beyond caste lines.Announcing the package at Arrah, Modi promised a “sea change”, fast-tracking development projects, upgrading skills of youth and creating employment, as he sought to change the political narrative from caste to the aspirational voter. The BJP-led NDA is hoping that the development slogan will help in countering the caste-ridden politics in the state as it takes on the alliance led by chief minister Nitish Kumar.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Yet, Bihar’s BJP leaders have the caste mathematics on the tips of their fingers and vouch that it goes in the NDA’s favour in elections later this year. At the same time, they refute that the election will be dominated by caste equations saying Modi’s rallies were testimony to the development plank having a sway, particularly among the youth.”Bihar is also an aspirational society. There is great yearning for change and good governance. There is a good number of people who have gone above the conventional caste equations,” said Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.Modi’s package, covering sectors like farmers’ welfare, education, skill development, health, electricity, rural roads, highways, railways, airports, digital Bihar, petroleum and tourism has denied the chief minister of a key plank and tried to reach out to a wider audience.But, all said and done, BJP leaders in the state have got down to the brass tacks of calculating the caste affiliations, which tyrannise the Bihar polls. The party is focusing on extremely backward castes and dalits. Besides, in its bid to poach into Lalu Prasad Yadav’s vote bank, it was planning to field around 40 Yadav candidates, the highest ever on BJP ticket. sources said.There are around 16 per cent scheduled caste votes, of which mahadalit would be 13 per cent. The BJP is reaching out to this section, with Ram Vilas Paswan and Jitan Ram Manjhi in the NDA fold, to compensate for the 17 per cent Muslim vote which is expected to go to the rival camp. Besides this, the BJP was banking on the votes of the 15 per cent upper caste, which included Brahmin, Thakur, Kayastha and Bhumihar.Sources said the party was organising caste sammelans to connect with all communities. In its bid to poach into Lalu Prasad Yadav’s vote bank, the BJP was fielding around 40 Yadav candidates.While Modi himself has stuck to the development slogan, the BJP is highlighting his Teli background to win over voters from the community. The Nitish Kumar government had recently included the caste in the EBC category.Close on the heels of Modi’s big ticket announcement of special package, Nitish Kumar hit back. “Was he (Modi) in an auction? Was he bidding for Bihar? The way Modiji announced the package it made it look like that an auction of Bihar was being held and bids being made.”Accusing him of doing politics of contempt that went against cooperative federalism, Kumar said, “On the one hand he says I was a ‘Yachak’ (person pleading for doles) and on the other hand he accuses me of having arrogance. It’s contradictory. I am willing to plead with the Centre for the cause of Bihar. He is the prime minister and can say whatever he wishes.”Picking holes in Modi’s special package, Kumar said proposals for many of them were already pending with Centre and many others were already committed by the central dispensation. “There is nothing new. They have to give it. They are not doing any favour,” he said.Firing a salvo at Modi over Bihar’s ‘Bimaru’ status, Kumar asked if all states given special packages in the past were ‘Bimaru’, an acronym used for Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh.Both Kumar and Yadav tweeted soon after Modi finished his speech.Kumar released a Digital campaign #BloneMeinKyaJataHai and #JumlaBabu on Twitter that shows a caricatured Modi promising people on various issues like Black money, Achchhe Din, depreciating Rupee, giving jobs to youth, OROP in 100 days etc.”Promises, big bang announcements & packaging. Little actions & no delivery on ground. No wonder increasingly people says #BolneMeinKyaJataHai,” said Kumar in his tweet introducing the caricatured Modi as #JumlaBabu.Lalu said, “The special package is same like the deadly assurance he gave of depositing Rs. 15 lakh in everyone’s account. Another political jumla for people of Bihar by Jumla Babu.”

Flight delays affect over 43,800 passengers in July; Air India travellers most affected

On account of delays, 1,001 passengers of GoAir were affected in July while the count stood at 1,961 for Air Costa, Vistara (313), AirAsia (130) and Air Pegasus (91).

Last month, Air India denied boarding to 104 passengers. Together, Jet Airways and Jet Lite did not allow boarding of 401 passengers during the same period while none of the other airlines denied boarding.

dna Research & Archives
As many as 43,818 passengers were affected by flight delays last month, with majority of them being Air India travellers, according to latest official data. Besides, about 7,224 passengers were affected by cancellations while 505 were denied boarding in July.Aviation regulator DGCA on Tuesday said that 43,818 passengers were affected by delays in flights for more than two hours. Out of them, 26,934 were Air India passengers and 7,522 booked with IndiGo.Around 2,771 passengers of Jet Airways and Jet Lite were affected while the number stood at 3,095 in the case of SpiceJet.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On account of delays, 1,001 passengers of GoAir were affected in July while the count stood at 1,961 for Air Costa, Vistara (313), AirAsia (130) and Air Pegasus (91). There were no cancellations by IndiGo last month. In July, 2,792 passengers of Air India were impacted by cancellations.Jet Airways and Jet Lite’s cancellations affected 2,016 passengers while that by SpiceJet impacted 475 people. Due to cancellations, GoAir’s 290 passengers were affected and the number stood at 1,020 in the case of Air Costa, AirAsia (219), Vistara (106) and Air Pegasus (306).Last month, Air India denied boarding to 104 passengers. Together, Jet Airways and Jet Lite did not allow boarding of 401 passengers during the same period while none of the other airlines denied boarding.”During July 2015, a total of 802 passenger-related complaints had been received by the scheduled domestic airlines,” DGCA said.

Woman fights off crocodile in Odisha escaping death experience

While washing utensils close to a creek, a crocodile pounced on her but she managed to fight it and escape.

Image credit: Odisha TV Twitter page

A 37-year-old woman from Singiri village under Rajkanika police station limits has shown exemplary courage in staving off an attacking crocodile.Sabitri Samal, a housewife, who is currently undergoing treatment at a government-run hospital, recalled from her hospital bed how she was attacked by a giant crocodile on Friday while washing utensils in a creek near her house. “The creek where I was washing utensils was never intruded by crocodiles. None of us had sighted the reptile in the past. The attack was so sudden that I had little time to react. An aluminium cooking bowl and cooking stick that I had brought from home to wash saved me from death,” Samal said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”It was a miraculous escape. The reptile pounced on me and dragged me to water. I was about to be completely dragged into the water when I hit the crocodile on its forehead and eye…The animal slowly released me. I acted in the spur of moment as I had taken it for granted that the animal would devour me,” she recalled. The latest crocodile attack occurred outside the national park limits.The state forest department would bear the cost of treatment, Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) forest division, Bimal Prasanna Acharya said. Besides, the department would also award compensation to the injured person’s family as per revised rules, the official said.Since past two months, man-crocodile conflict has reached alarming proportions in villages located on the periphery of the Bhitarkanika National Park. The crocodiles have claimed two lives while injuring at least seven others. Forest personnel, however, opine that people are exposing themselves to attacks by venturing into crocodile-infested water bodies.

Kerala CM Oomen Chandy sanctions Rs 100 crore to control price rise

It decided to distribute Onam kits containing food articles free of cost to 20 lakh BPL families and also one kg sugar at a subsidised rate to all 83 lakh ration card holders in the state.

The Kerala government on Thursday earmarked about Rs 100 crore for open market intervention during the coming Onam festival season to check prices of essential commodities.It decided to distribute Onam kits containing food articles free of cost to 20 lakh BPL families and also one kg sugar at a subsidised rate to all 83 lakh ration card holders in the state. Besides this, 75 lakh school students would get 25 kg of rice free of cost during Onam festival, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told reporters after a cabinet meeting.State run Civil Supplies Corporation has been given Rs 64 crores, Consumerfed Rs.25 crore and Horticulture Rs seven crore, he said. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Pakistan sends rapprochement message

Holding an Eid Milan party in New Delhi for Kashmiri separatist leaders, Basit said that Pakistan premier Nawaz Sharif is very positive in building contacts with India. He wants both the countries to complement each other

In what could be seen as rapprochement effort by Pakistan after guns went blazing on the border soon after the Ufa talks, its high commissioner Abdul Basit on Tuesday reaffirmed Pakistan’s desire to build friendly contacts with India.Holding an Eid Milan party in New Delhi for Kashmiri separatist leaders, Basit said that Pakistan premier Nawaz Sharif is very positive in building contacts with India. He wants both the countries to complement each other.”We want that all disputes should be resolved through dialogue. We want peace in the subcontinent,” said Basit.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Incidentally, Basit’s Eid Milan invitation was spurned by key separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani of Hurriyat Conference and Yasin Malik’s JKLF. Besides these two all the separatist leaders of Kashmir led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq were present on the occasion.Mirwaiz who held talks Basit along with other separatist leaders, said there is a widespread disillusionment in Kashmir regarding Ufa talks and hoped that Ufa “mistake” will be rectified.Mirwaiz said that Pakistan’s diplomatic, moral and political support to the Kashmir movement will continue.He affirmed that peace in South Asia is dependent on resolution of Kashmir and appealed India to keep its eyes and mind open.

Odisha celebrate Nabakalebara rath yatra amidst tight security

Besides engagement of many senior officers, 164 platoons of force have been deployed at strategic points. Precautions have been taken to avoid a stampede like situation,” said IGP and officer on special duty Soumendra K Priyadarshi.

Puri: Sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik creates a sand sculpture on the eve of Nabakalebara Ratha Yatra at Puri beach in Odisha on Friday

With the pilgrim town celebrating century”s first Nabakalebara Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath, Odisha government said it is prepared for the smooth conduct of the festival amid fear of a downpour due to a cyclonic formation over the state.”We are working with devotion. All including chariots, devotees, police and administration are ready for the grand festival. We hope it will be smooth with the grace of the Lord,” Odisha Law Minister Arun Sahoo told reporters on Friday. While the administration is expecting about 30 lakh pilgrims, police have deployed about 10,000 personnel besides tightening security in land, air and sea. “Police are well prepared to face any situation.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Besides engagement of many senior officers, 164 platoons of force have been deployed at strategic points. Precautions have been taken to avoid a stampede like situation,” said IGP and officer on special duty Soumendra K Priyadarshi. Meanwhile, the IMD predicted that a cyclonic circulation may take the shape of a low pressure in the next 48 hours resulting in heavy rains in most parts of the state.As the Deities remained indoors for 45 days this time due to Nabakalebara (change of bodies of the Lords), there is lot of enthusiasm among devotees. About five lakh pilgrims from different states have reached the holy town, district officials said. A large number of people reached the newly constructed bus terminus at Malatipatapur near here. The visitors are provided free bus service from the terminus to the town. 27 parking lots have been constructed for parking of vehicles.Over 500 hotels, 200 lodges, 100 mutts and dharmasalas will accommodate visitors besides state government”s temporary shelters. “The state government has set up 33 Nabakalebara villages across the town to accommodate the tourists,” said tourism and culture secretary Arabinda Kumar Padhee. Arrangements have also been made for facilities like health service, drinking water and sanitation.Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Union Ministers Mahesh Sharma, Dharmendra Pradhan and Jual Oram, and state ministers are scheduled to visit the town to witness the Nabakalebara Rath Yatra being held after 19 years. The last Nabakalebara festival was held in 1996. More than 200 CCTV cameras have been fitted across the city with an integrated surveillance control room near the Jagannath Temple.

After ‘She-Taxi’, Kerala to welcome ‘She-Bus’

An all-women bus project is set be launched in Kerala by Gender Park.

Representational Image

dna Research & Archives
The Gender Park in Kerala, a state-owned autonomous institution, after the success of its all-women cab network ‘She-Taxi’, is now getting ready to launch ‘She-Bus’, driven and managed exclusively by women and for women.The immense success of She-Taxi, touted as the country’s first 24×7 women taxi network, had led the Park, under the state Social Justice Department, to work out a new mode of women-friendly transport system for ordinary women.The World Bank, which recently hailed the She-Taxi project as a good model of sustainable entrepreneurship, has offered support to the proposed all-women bus project also.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Like She-Taxi, ‘She-Bus’ is also part of the government’s plans to ensure safe journey for women amidst concerns over increasing atrocities against them, State Minister for Social Justice, M K Muneer said.”We have launched She-Taxi as a safe travel option for one or a group of women. Its success and wide acceptance has given us confidence to think about another project which may appeal to more women in the society,” he said.Gender Park CEO, PTM Sunish said the project is planned to be implemented in metro cities in the initial phase. “We are planning to launch She-Bus in the capital city, Thiruvananthapuram for the first time. It will be rolled out in Kochi and Kozhikode in the next stages. The She-Taxi was also launched in a similar manner,” he said.Under the plan, a set of air-conditioned low-floor buses, with women-friendly features, will be rolled out for service between selected points in the city. Besides women, children can also travel in the vehicle which will have a series of high-end features including wheelchair lifts.”We are planning to explore the possibilities of pooling system for the operation of She-Bus which will ferry travellers between selected points in the city. The locations for service would be decided after examining the density of women passengers in various areas here,” he said.

IIT Kharagpur to make learning more inclusive

IIT Kharagpur students will now get shadow teachers to help them even outside of their classrooms.

Besides the regular faculty, IIT Kharagpur students will now get shadow teachers outside their classrooms to make the learning more inclusive. The engineering institute has now decided to prepare a group of best students from each class to teach other students.”From this academic session we will start a group of 10-12 students who are senior and very good in studies. They would also be given a stipend to act as shadow teachers. This would be a parallel system of learning outside the class,” IIT Kgp director Partha Pratim Chakrabarti said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The new system will ensure that no student is left out of the learning process. “We will also be able to track the problems which these students are facing when it comes to learning,” the director said.As a trial, the concept of shadow teaching has been tested in the computer science department for the last three years. They were known as ‘student self help groups’.”And now we will start it in other departments from this year for the first year students,” Chakrabarti said.Another aspect of peer to peer learning would be through Moodle, an open-source education software for online learning. “We have assigned a room for this where students can put queries and other students or teachers can answer it. Everything would be available online,” the director said.

TDP wins Prakasam MLC poll

Magunta bagged 724 votes while YSR Congress candidate Atla Chinna Venkata Reddy secured only 13 votes.

Telugu Desam Party candidate Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy on Tuesday won the Prakasam district’s MLC election under local bodies quota.Magunta bagged 724 votes while YSR Congress candidate Atla Chinna Venkata Reddy secured only 13 votes. Besides, 17 votes were declared invalid, returning officer Hari Jawaharlal said. The counting began at the Ongole Municipal Corporation office and was completed in 45 minutes.District Collector Sujatha Sharma, Superintendent of Police C Srikanth and the Returning Officer monitored the counting. Later, Magunta thanked all those who supported him in the election.”Our family is in public service for over 25 years.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Once again it is an opportunity for me to serve as MLC,” he told reporters.

150 Indians toil to conctruct ‘most secure’ Afghan parliament

The Central Public Works Department (CPWD) is constructing the new parliament building for Afghanistan. While the building is still under construction, the department is of the view that the Afghan parliament will be one of the most secure parliament houses in the world.

Members of Afghan security forces arrive at the site of an attack near the Afghan parliament in Kabul, on Monday—

Reuters
In the wake of Taliban targeting the Afghanistan parliament in Kabul on Monday, just four kilometres away, some 150 Indian nationals including engineers, architects, skilled and unskilled labourers are toiling hard to build the new Afghanistan parliament building, which not only will be an architectural marvel but also, one of the most secure buildings in the world. The Central Public Works Department (CPWD) is constructing the new parliament building for Afghanistan. While the building is still under construction, the department is of the view that the Afghan parliament will be one of the most secure parliament houses in the world.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Afghanistan parliament building is being constructed by the Indian government. The project has missed several deadlines in the past. It was to be handed over to the Afghan government by 2012. However, differences between the ministry of external affairs and the erstwhile planning commission over the release of funds has led to delay in the project. The construction may be completed by the end of this year. The planners and architects of the Afghan parliament say that the building besides being able to withstand terror attacks will also be able to withstand earthquakes of upto 8 on the richter scale. Afghanistan is on earthquake seismic zone 5. “There are layers of security around the building. Besides the 10 feet high boundary wall, another 12 feet texas barrier surrounds the building,” informed an officer on the condition of anonymity. The texas barrier is a movable wall made of dense concrete and is 6 to 8 metres thick. Even as the Indian government is constructing the building, the area is under layers of security cover. The premises would be monitored by CCTV cameras and has tunnels that will help in exit in case of an attack. “However, there is no provision to protect the building from an aerial attack. The 14.5 metre high dome is prominently visible from afar,” added the officer. The Afghanistan parliament with a plinth area of 30,000 square meters will be the largest structure in the country. Besides the parliament building with both the Lower House and Upper House, the compund will have a museum, a press area, a library block, residential quarters for MPs, a mosque and a VIP guest house. About 150 Indian nationals including engineers from CPWD, architects, and skilled and unskilled labourers are working on the project. The security of the under construction premises is being managed by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police and by local Afghanistan security forces. “The Afghanistan government will be responsible for the security of the premises once construction is over. We are working on the designs to be approved by them,” added the officer.

Ex Odisha CM Giridhar Gamang formally joins BJP

The father-son duo joined the BJP in the presence of party’s organisational secretary Ramlal, two Union ministers Jual Oram and Dharmendra Pradhan, party state president K V Singhdeo and other senior leaders.

PTI
Former Odisha Chief Minister Giridhar Gamang along with his son Sishir on Thursday formally joined the BJP at the party’s state headquarters in Bhubaneswar.The father-son duo joined the BJP in the presence of party’s organisational secretary Ramlal, two Union ministers Jual Oram and Dharmendra Pradhan, party state president K V Singhdeo and other senior leaders. The former nine-time Congress MP and central minister Gamang and his son Sishir were made to put BJP caps with lotus symbol. Thereafter, Gamang gave a missed calls from his mobile phone set to become a primary member of BJP.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I am happy and ready to work for the growth of BJP in the state,” Gamang, said, adding that he does not have any political ambition by joining the BJP which is in power at the Centre. Besides Gamangs, Nagraj Dora and Rabindra Mohapatra also joined the BJP today. They were all welcomed into the party by the organizational secretary .On the occasion, the state BJP leadership announced to launch mass contact programme ‘mahasamperk abhijan’ through which the party will make attempts to reach out to each and everyone who have registered for the party’s membership in the state. Besides, the party also announced its plan to launch agitational programmes against the BJD government’s failure on different fronts. They also decided to highlight the achievement of one year work of the Modi govenrment.

Maharashtra government to go slow on hiring, create no new posts

Devendra Fadnavis

The state government’s expenditure is on the rise vis-a-vis income, forcing it to cut corners by going slow on recruitments and focusing more on e-governance.According to a circular, the government speech and white-paper of the finance department show that expenses, particularly on salary, are on the rise compared to revenue. “This is not an acceptable model. The expenses of the government should be less than its income. The state budget revenue is expected to grow by 9.64% and, as per the Seventh Pay Commission, the government’s expenditure is going to shoot up drastically. Most of the money will be spent on paying wages of government employees. As a corrective measure, the government has decided to go slow on recruitments and stop creating new posts,” read the circular issued by state chief secretary Swadhin Kshatriya.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, the circular clarified that the decision to control recruitment will not be applicable to government bodies like Cidco, MMRDA, financially independent government departments and Central government subsidised bodies. “Even recruitments in police, education, revenue, health, animal husbandry departments will be cut down by half of the total requirement. Besides, on the recruitments of senior officials, chief secretary, general administration, will take a call after consulting the finance department,” said a finance department official without wishing to be named.Circular laid emphasis on e-governance so that administration work didn’t suffer due to non-recruitment.A senior government official said as part of e-governance and Digital Maharashrta, laptops, computers and tablets would be provided to officers. “We are framing a policy in this regard. We want all our employees to become technology-savvy, which will increase the speed of governance and reduce corruption as there would be less human interference,” he said, requesting anonymity.The state government has also set up a committee headed by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to execute the Digital India plan.

Maharashtra government plans to shift Arthur Road jail out of Mumbai

With the move, the government will mop up large tracts of prime lands apart from resolving the issue of threat to inmates at these facilities.

The Arthur Road jail, one of city’s landmarks, is likely to be shifted out of Mumbai. The Maharashtra government has decided to relocate prisons that are sitting at the heart of cities in the state. With the move, the government will mop up large tracts of prime lands apart from resolving the issue of threat to inmates at these facilities. State home minister (urban) Dr Ranjeet Patil said they are in the process of shifting the prisons to outskirts. “City population has gone up and so have property prices. The jails, which were once on the periphery, are now in the middle of the cities. We’ve decided to free up these lands and make them more productive.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Over the years, the minister said, slums have mushroomed around the jails, thus increasing threat perception to prisoners. Also, on the grounds of security, authorities have stalled redevelopment of old and dilapidated buildings in the vicinity. “There are some buildings which are already developed. Inhabitants of such buildings can always peep into the jail premises. Considering this issue, we’ve decided to shift these jails one by one,” said Patil. Like the Arthur Road jail, which is spread over two acres, Thane and Kalyan too have prisons sitting the middle of the cities. A senior official from state home department said they will request the government to utilise the jail land for affordable housing projects. “In the absence of cheap homes, a lot of people end up living in slums or on the street.” Pankaj Kapoor, managing director of Liases Foras, a real estate research firm, welcomed the move. “It is the well-thought decision. It will open up the several acres of land across the state for construction of houses. Besides, most of the jails are from the British era. Since urbanisation has been increasing, the authorities have to redefine the use of the land.” Kapoor said the government should give emphasis on budget size homes and price of the proposed development. “Then only, the end user will get the benefit.”

Waive farmer loans, demands Maharashtra government Opposition leader

Addressing the media on Tuesday, Patil said that the BJP government in both, the Centre and state is not serious about farmers’ plight, and demanded waiving off of farmer loans. “Only a loan waive off can resolve the agrarian crisis; else, we are heading towards a much worse situation. Besides, to the farmers whose yield was below 50 paise, government should provide seeds and fertilisers free of cost,” he said.

While Maharashtra is reeling under severe drought, the BJP-led government has still not initiated single fodder camps, which can help farmers save their animals; this was a point raised by state Opposition leader and Congress corporator Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil.Addressing the media on Tuesday, Patil said that the BJP government in both, the Centre and state is not serious about farmers’ plight, and demanded waiving off of farmer loans. “Only a loan waive off can resolve the agrarian crisis; else, we are heading towards a much worse situation. Besides, to the farmers whose yield was below 50 paise, government should provide seeds and fertilisers free of cost,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Congress corporator highlighted an alarming point – this is the first time that farmers are committing suicide in every part of the country; in Maharashtra itself, farmer suicides have risen by 40% he said.”There is no water to drink, nor fodder to feed the animals. Rather than addressing this problem, the government has worsened it by imposing a ban on the slaughtering of non-productive animals. As a result, no one is willing to buy these unproductive animals,” Patil alleged.During the reign of the Congress, he pointed out: “We had started several fodder camps and saved animals by giving relief to farmers. But now, no one in this government cares about the plight of farmers.”He also alleged that ministers are not visiting severely affected (drought) areas, giving an example. “In Beed, people were supplied filthy sewerage water. It is unfortunate that people who voted them to power have been systematically neglected after coming to power,” he said.Attacking the Modi government, he said that if there are really good days ahead, then the government need not advertise in every newspaper. “People themselves will give credit to the government if there are good days. Beating empty drums do not bring good days, but good can be brought about by productive work only,” the leader said.

Chhattisgarh: 2 cops, 2 Maoists killed in gunbattle

he face-off between the security personnel and Naxals took place in a dense forest under Mirtur Police Station limits this morning.

Two policemen and as many Maoists were today killed in a gunbattle between security personnel and ultras in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district. A police jawan was also injured in the incident.The face-off between the security personnel and Naxals took place in a dense forest under Mirtur Police Station limits this morning, Bijapur Additional Superintendent of Police Indira Kalyan Elesela said. A joint contingent of STF and district police force was on an anti-Naxal operation in Gangaloor and Mirtur areas, around 450 kms away from the state capital.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>When the team reached Mirtur forests, a group of armed rebels opened indiscriminate firing on them following which the police personnel retaliated, he said. After the gun fight that lasted for around two hours, the Naxals escaped into the core forests. “A Special Task Force (STF) jawan and another from district police force died in the incident while one was injured. Besides, two Naxals were also killed in the incident,” he said.Reinforcement was rushed to the spot and efforts were on to retrieve the bodies of jawans and Naxals from the dense forests, he said. Combing operations have been launched to nab the attackers in the forests, the ASP said. The deceased have been identified as STF constable Sitaram Kunjam and district police reserve group’s assistant constable Moti Ram (28), he said.Efforts were on to retrieve the injured constable Payku Ram Poyam from the forest, he added.

Air India, SpiceJet, IndiGo operate additional flights to Nepal, take relief material free of cost

National carrier Air India and private carriers SpiceJet and IndiGo have not only resumed services to Nepal from Sunday but have also decided to operate additional flights and carry relief material to the quake-hit country free of cost.

“The regular scheduled operations from Delhi and Kolkata will also resume on Sunday,” Air India said in a statement. Besides, the airline would also operate two additional flights — one each from New Delhi and Kolkata — for Kathmandu with relief material and also to fly out those who are stuck due to the devastating earthquake, it said.

The additional flight from New Delhi to Kathmandu (AI-1215) will depart at 1030 hours while the second flight (AI-1247) would take off from Kolkata at 0700 hours, the airline said.

The state-run carrier operates three services to Kathmandu — two daily services from Delhi and one from Kolkata which is operated four times a week.

Air India. ReutersAir India. Reuters

Air India. Reuters

Air India would also carry relief material free of charge on priority basis, on its flights to Kathmandu, both from Delhi and Kolkata, it said.

The decision to resume operations was taken following the re-opening of the runway of the Tribhuvan International Airport which was closed for few hours today due to the earthquake, it said.

The national airline has also waived off cancellation and refund charges for the bookings for Kathmandu and vice versa for travel up to May 2, the release said, adding the waiver will be for all connecting passengers to and from Kathmandu through Delhi and Kolkata also.

Budget carrier SpiceJet, which had cancelled both of its flight from Delhi for Kathmandu also said it plans to resume operations.

“SpiceJet plans to operate its scheduled flight for Kathmandu on Sunday,” the airline said in statement.
The airline said it was also looking into operating additional relief flights, if required. Accredited NGOs and relief organizations looking to transport emergency supplies, doctors are requested to contact airline by e-mail and SpiceJet would accommodate as many requests as possible free of charge, it said.

IndiGo too has resumed operations into Kathmandu and is on standby to carry relief material to the country free of charge.

A powerful 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal yesterday, causing massive damage in Kathmandu and surrounding areas with strong tremors being felt in neighbouring countries.

Following this, domestic airlines had put on hold their services to the Nepal capital Kathmandu.

With inputs from PTI

Andhra Pradesh police raid godown in West Bengal, seize 11 tonnes of red sandalwood

Besides seizing logs of red sandalwood of value between Rs 10-20 crore, the police also arrested sandalwood smuggler Sounder Rajan.

Representative image

dna Research & Archives
The Red Sanders Anti-Smuggling Task Force of Andhra Pradesh Police carried out a raid at Siliguri in West Bengal on Monday and seized red sandalwood weighing over 11 tonnes. According to sources, the raid was carried out after arrested smugglers were questioned by the Andhra Pradesh police officers following the controversial encounter that claimed the lives of as many as 20 red sandalwood smugglers in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh.Besides seizing logs of red sandalwood of value between Rs 10-20 crore, the police also arrested sandalwood smuggler Sounder Rajan. He is being taken to Andhra Pradesh on transit remand. Rajan is reportedly a Myanmar national and used to operate from this godown at Siliguri. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the search is still on across that stretch, the West Bengal authorities are tight-lipped on the entire issue of the state being used as a transit point of red sandalwood smuggling to neighbouring countries. Sources in the police say that these red sandalwood logs were ready to be transported to China through Nepal and Burma. Red sandalwood are in huge demand in China and and is often sold at Rs 10 crore per tonne in China. But, in India the same red sandalwood cost something between Rs 15-20 lakh per tonne.

Supreme Court upholds death penalty for Yakub Memon

Apex court dismisses 1993 blasts convict’s review petition; hearing held in open court

Dashing the hope of Yakub Abdul Razak Memon, a death row convict in the 1993 serial bomb blast case, the Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed the review plea making the way clear for his execution. Memon’s counsel, however, said his client still has another opportunity to file curative petition before the apex court and also mercy plea before President for a relief. While rejecting Memon’s plea, a three-judges bench headed by Justice Anil R Dave said it has reached to a conclusion after going through all the judgments from trial court to the top court in the case.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> “We find that all the arguments advanced by the review petitioner have been considered in detail in the judgment which is sought to be reviewed. Hence, we do not find any error apparent on the face of record or any other ground so as to warrant interference in exercise of our review jurisdiction. The review petition is hence dismissed,” the court said. Memon’s review plea was in an open court in following a Constitution bench’s verdict last year that the practice of deciding review pleas in chambers be done away with, in cases where death penalty has been awarded. Earlier, the apex court, on June 2, last year, had stayed the execution of Memon and referred his plea to a Constitution bench as to whether review petitions in death penalty cases be heard in an open court or in chambers. Memon, in his plea, had claimed he was suffering from schizophrenia since 1996 and remained behind the bars for nearly 20 years. He had sought commutation of death penalty contending that a convict cannot be awarded life term and the extreme penalty simultaneously for the same offence. Memon had sought review of the March 21, 2013 verdict of the apex court upholding his death penalty in the case relating to 13 coordinated bomb blasts in Mumbai, killing 350 persons and injuring 1,200 others on the afternoon March 12, 1993. A TADA court in Mumbai had convicted 100 out of 123 accused in November 2006. While 12 were awarded death penalty including Memon, 20 others got the life term and the remaining 68 got varying jail terms under the provisions of the anti-terror law, IPC and other relevant penal laws. On Memon’s plea in March 2013, the top court had also confirmed the death sentence of Memon and commuted the death penalty awarded by a special TADA court to 10 others. Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt was also directed to serve the remaining three-and-a-half years of his five-year jail term for possessing illegal arms. Besides commuting the death sentence of 10 convicts to life term, the court had also awarded rigorous life imprisonment to 25 others, out of which, four were earlier acquitted by the TADA court.

Beef’s loss is mutton’s gain

The government decision to ban slaughter of bulls and oxen in the state has resulted in escalation mutton prices. Goat meat, which was sold at Rs400 per kg a week ago, is now priced at Rs420. Soon, it will be Rs450 per kg, say some shopkeepers.Why is beef preferred?According to beef shop owners, a lot of people eat beef because of its high protein content and affordable price. “As the ban has been effected, more than 1,000 beef shops have closed down. Now, beef eaters will have to buy either mutton or chicken. Naturally, prices of mutton and chicken will go up,” said a beef shop owner from Vashi.Salim, a mutton shop owner from Kharghar, said they increased the price by Rs20 per kg on Friday. “Our expenses has also gone up. We have to buy goats at higher prices now. Besides, there is the transportation cost. If demand increases, then prices will increase further. I used to open my shop on Saturdays, Sundays and on days of festivals. But now, I may keep it open throughout the week,” said Salim.What will beef sellers do?Mohammad, a mutton and chicken shop owner in Kurla, is happy with the development. “We are happy but at the same time we feel for the beef shop owners. Beef is known as poor man’s meat. It is unfortunate that rather than resolving people’s problems, the government is increasing them,” said Mohammad.Will beef be smuggled in?Ahmad, a resident of Nerul, said that those who want to eat beef will continue eating beef. “The only thing is that they will have to pay more. Isn’t gutkha banned? In our country, rules remains only on paper. Now, smuggling of beef will increase. But the poor will suffer since they will not be able to afford either mutton or the smuggled beef,” he said adding that this decision will also have an impact on vegetable prices. Ahmad feels that this government is anti-poor and anti-farmer. “It’s working for a limited section of the society and their interest. We did not vote for them to change our eating habits,” he said.

Zee Jaipur Literature Festival volunteers an indispensable part of event

The Zee Jaipur Literature Festival is spread out over ten venues, involves 300 speakers in 209 sessions and attracts over 2 lakh audience members. It is the world’s largest free literature festival. Can a festival function without its volunteers, the unsung heroes who make sure everything run smoothly? A plethora of functions will be performed by the 298 volunteers who are working for the ZJLF this year.

Preparations for the Zee Jaipur Literature festival that kicks off in Jaipur on Wednesday, in full swing
Manit
dna
The Zee Jaipur Literature Festival is spread out over ten venues, involves 300 speakers in 209 sessions and attracts over 2 lakh audience members. It is the world’s largest free literature festival. Can a festival function without its volunteers, the unsung heroes who make sure everything run smoothly? A plethora of functions will be performed by the 298 volunteers who are working for the ZJLF this year. Volunteers perform the bulk of the work during the festival, from bringing authors from the airport and railway station to panel discussions, to manning the bookstores and stalls, directing visitors to various venues, to liaising with the media and enforcing security. Besides being indispensable workers, volunteers are the festival’s ambassadors because they interact with the general public. Said Giraj (who does not use a last name), who is training volunteers for the festival, “There is a large number of volunteers coming in. They are the identity of the festival. They need to carry the values of the festival, a democratic platform showcasing various views without necessarily subscribing to them. Moreover, we sensitise volunteers about untoward incidents… particularly with the number of girls working here. Also, we tell them how to make authors and visitors feel good.” Then Giraj gave a group of volunteers a slideshow presentation about the festival’s ethos and how to deal with various emergencies. After the presentation, dna spoke to another group of volunteers to gauge their motivations behind volunteering for the fest. “You don’t find people like this elsewhere. Friendly people,” said Sanjay Nainani, 21, a 4th year B Tech student and resident of Jaipur, describing his interactions with ZJLF volunteers from around the country and a few from around the world. What he likes most about volunteering for the festival is making friends with other volunteers, some of whom remain his friends after the mega event, he said. Because of the prospect of making friendships and the aura of the festival, for many volunteers, this ZJLF is not the first. Echoing Nainani’s words, 22-year-old Karan Vig is a repeat volunteer: this is his fourth year with the festival. Besides meeting friends, his love of books drew Vig to the ZJLF. He is looking forward to seeing one of his favourite authors, Devdutt Pattnaik, who will be a panelist at the upcoming festival. “I have read his Sita, The Pregnant King and Jaya,” said Vig, a student of English Literature in London, who is spending his holidays volunteering. Most of the volunteers are from Jaipur, but a few are from other cities such as Mumbai and Delhi, and one or two are from other countries as well. 19-year-old Stuti Maheshwari of Jaipur, a B Com student, is an audience-member-turned-volunteer. She said, “I have been attending JLF since 2010. I just sat in any session, because I liked the serenity of the place. I was wondering how to volunteer.” She got her chance this year, and likes her given job, which is to bring authors from the airport to their hotels and then to the festival venues every day. This is among the most hectic tasks, since it involves working at odd hours, said Sarthak Barakoti, 21, a B Tech student. It is also a task to which most engineering students gravitate, he said, apparently because “engineering students are good multi-taskers.” Rubbish, said his friend and co-volunteer, Maheshwari. “It’s because engineering students have more time right now (because their exams are over).” They both laughed, showing the camaraderie built up through working together. Besides getting a stipend, volunteers receive a certificate of accomplishment as remuneration for their work, which looks good on their resume, Barakoti said. Even as the final touches are being applied so as to make the venue, the Diggi Palace in Jaipur, ready for the festival, the volunteers are trying their level best to ensure that everything goes smoothly.

VC row: Fasting Jadavpur University students’ health deteriorating

The health of the Jadavpur University students, who are on an indefinite hunger strike demanding resignation of the vice-chancellor, started deteriorating on Thursday after eating no food in the last 72 hours, having rejected all appeals to call off their agitation.A team of doctors who examined the students said the health of most of them was degrading with their blood pressure and blood sugar level falling “very low”. Demanding resignation of Vice-chancellor Abhijit Chakrabarti whom they held responsible for the police crackdown on them during a gherao on September 17 night, a group of 12 students sat on a fast-unto-death since the night of January 5. Besides the VC, the registrar and the university’s executive council have appealed to the students to end the strike and come to the negotiating table.During the day, Governor K N Tripathi, also the Chancellor of the university, said, “Please stop the agitation. They are proud of their university and they should discuss the problems.” Second-year philosophy student Arunima Mitra said they had been invited for talks with state Education Minister Partha Chatterjee. “We are giving him a last chance and we will go and meet him on Friday since he is responsible as the minister. We will ask him that if you remove the VC we will withdraw our agitation,” she told PTI. During the day, the students brought out rallies to press for their demands.

E-passports to roll out by 2016

The new age e-passports are expected to be rolled out in the country by 2016, a top official said on Monday. “We are going ahead and are in the process of tendering. By 2015-16 we should be able to achieve e-passport,” Muktesh K Pardeshi, Joint Secretary (PSP) and Chief Passport Officer, Ministry of External Affairs, told reporters in Kochi.The External Affairs Ministry has plans in place and necessary orders in this regard have been issued, he said. Also known as Biometric or digital passports, these new passports will have a microprocessor chip embedded in it. India, which attained the distinction of being the third largest passport issuing country after China and US last year by processing one crore applications, is aiming at 20 per cent growth this year, he said.Kerala, where 10 lakh applications were received and processed, topped among the states, while Malappuram registered maximum applications among districts in the country, he said.During January to December 2014, 1.01 crore applications for passport and related services were processed by the External Affairs Ministry. While 87.03 lakh applications for passport and related services had been received, 84.69 lakh passports and related documents had been issued through the Passport Seva System, Pardeshi said.During 2014, there was a 15 to 20 per cent growth in the issuance of passports compared to 2013, he said. The government is expected to earn a revenue of about Rs 2000 crore by March this year by issuance of passports as compared to 2013-14 fiscal when the revenue was Rs 1,800 crore, he said.A total of 3,224 official passports and 283 diplomatic passports were issued last year through the PSS, he said. Besides, about 14.95 lakh applications were received at the 183 Missions and Posts abroad and approximately 14.55 lakh Passport and related serves were rendered at these Missions and Posts, he added.

Three final year students suspended for allegedly eve-teasing with a college staff

Representational Image

Three final year engineering students were suspended on Saturday for allegedly misbehaving with a female college staff and other girls in the campus.Kehmraj Meena (Electronics), Mohit Kumar (Civil) and Shailesh Meena (Mechanical) in their final years of engineering have been suspended until further notice by the Disciplinary Committee of the college for eve teasing and passing lewd remarks on a female peon and fellow girl students, Kamlesh Purohit, Dean, MBM Engineering College said.”Besides this their entry in the campus has also been prohibited and their parents have been called,” he said. Purohit added that the incident was referred to the police and a case was registered against the accused on behalf of the complaint by the female peon.A case has been registered against the accused students under relevant sections of IPC on the basis of the complaint by the woman staff on Saturday, SHO (Ratanada) Pradeep Singh said. As per the complaint, the accused came to the college in an inebriated state on Friday and started hurling lewd comments on every girl passing by including the peon, he said. The accused were then caught by the student leaders and then beaten by the peon, police said. The college informed the police about the incident who rushed to the spot and took two of the accused in custody as the third one managed to escape and is still absconding, Singh said. An investigation has been initiated into the incident, he added.The city police had launched a WhatsApp messaging service on New Year’s eve for reporting crimes, emergency, law and order situations, information on criminals or their whereabouts.

All new national highways to be made of concrete: Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari

Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday said all new road projects of the Centre will use concrete. “All the new roads which we will be constructing will be of concrete,” Gadkari told reporters in Mumbai.Against the prevalent rate of Rs 350 per bag of cement, Gadkari said the Ministry had found a supplier near Mumbai ready to deliver at Rs 120 per bag, excluding taxes and transport, and advised the Maharashtra government and local bodies to avail of it.The target of increasing the speed of highway construction to 30 km a day will be achieved within 18 months against the 24 months estimated earlier as work on 95 per cent of 190-odd road projects, stuck in the past, has started, he added.Gadkari also advocated the use of technologies such as the one where a by-product of oil is used for road laying and added that the Centre had recently issued a notification to this effect. Besides, the Minister said the Mumbai-Goa National Highway (NH-17) will be converted into a four-lane concrete road soon.About the work on NH-17, Gadkari said the government had started work of 15 bridges with priority but there were problems related to land acquisition, for which he had sought the Maharashtra government’s help.In future, no work will be started unless 80 per cent of the land acquisition is over, he added. Asked about the Karnala Bird Sanctuary stretch in Raigad district along the NH-17, Gadkari said an NGO had moved the court seeking a stay on the work citing environmental degradation but a solution would be found.

Modi government to focus on CBMs for minorities

Amidst the furore over conversions and protests against “PK” by Hindutva hard liners, the Modi government is working on an outreach programme concentrating on around 90 minority concentration districts. Prime minister Narendra Modi wants the government to take steps to build confidence among minorities, sources said. With the slogan “Modi sarkar janata ke dwar (Modi government at the people’s door)”, the minority affairs ministry is undertaking a “Mission Empowerment” to ensure roll out of government schemes.Of the 90 districts in which the population of minorities is over 25 per cent and where either socio-economic or basic amenities or both indicators are below the national average, 21 fall in Uttar Pradesh and 12 in West Bengal. For the BJP, both UP and West Bengal, where the Muslims have an influential population in several seats, are politically crucial.Sources said government was of the view that once the minorities were taken out of the poverty trap, it would end vote bank politics. The government wanted to convey the message that it was committed to development and social uplift and did not want the focus to shift from that, they said.With less than 10 per cent of the funds for minority-related schemes filtering down to the beneficiaries, minister of state for minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi will travel to the districts and discuss implementation of the schemes, involving educational, economic and social aspects, with state governments. Though the BJP-led government has announced a higher outlay of Rs 3734.01 crore for the ministry of minority affairs and schemes for skill development, its impact has not been felt on the ground, the sources said. Besides, advertisements, pamphlets and books brought out by the government do not have the same effect as reaching out to people directly, they said. The BJP-led NDA government’s outlay for the ministry was 5.75 per cent higher than that of the Congress-led UPA regime.The aggressive statements by Hindutva hardliners on issues like “ghar-wapsi (re-conversions)” and recently over the Aamir Khan starrer “PK” had overshadowed public debate at a time when the government was trying to take a slew of pro-reform measures. However, the BJP tread cautiously. “The BJP has taken no official line on PK. It is not a political issue and does not warrant a political reaction,” said party spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao.