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AAP to contest all assembly seats in Punjab polls

Chotepur also said that some big guns will soon join AAP at the Muktsar rally in the presence of Kejriwal. However, he refused to disclose their names.

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Gujarat: Botched up cataract surgeries leave 12 without sight

A team led by Dr Rupali Mehta, regional deputy director health-Rajkot and leading ophthalmologist, was asked to investigate the matter on behalf of the government. “Our reports show that 12 people have been contracted endophthalmitis. The cause of infection based on the Operation Theatre (OT) culture report is bacteria and fungus found in the environment of the OT. This happens due to improper sterilisation of the area. However, no organism was found in the instrument fluid. We have done the panchnama and sealed the OT of the hospital,” Dr Mehta told dna on Monday.Will they see again? No answer
Dr Mehta expressed concern over return of vision for those who have lost it. “Currently all the patients have perception of vision, which means if someone puts the light on, they can see it, but no figures. This has happened because of spread of infection,” she said.
“A team of expert doctors from MNJ Hospital, Ahmedabad, will visit the city on Tuesday to assess the situation further. It will issue an advisory to both the hospital and the surgeon,” she added. She confirmed that the patients were referred to the retinal surgeon at the Rajkot Medical college on Monday. “If required, they will be sent to MNJ hospital and the entire expense of the treatment will be borne by the government,” Dr Mehta added.The hospital
Sadhu Vaswani is a trust hospital. Between January and December 2015, it has conducted 273 eye operations with an average of 25 to 30 operations a month. However, on December 23 alone, it conducted 25 operations. All the patients had been advised the surgery at a camp conducted on December 19 by the hospital.The doc who did it
Dr Hetal Bakhai who first conducted the operations runs a private hospital and also provides services at Sadhu Vaswani hospital. In past 10 years, he has conducted over 40,000 eye surgeries.What the doctors say
“The OT was sterilised yet bacteria was found which infected 12 patients. Topical cataract surgery was performed on all the 25 patients (surgery done without injection). Lower immunity and age factor are behind 12 people getting infected. Two of them, Gyaniben and Ibrahim Habib, might never get their vision back. There are fair chances for the rest to be able to see again.”
— Dr Hetal Bakhai, who first conducted the operations”I conducted the second surgery of eight of the infected patients and I am very positive that they will most likely get their eyesight back. However, that will take around a month and a half. The patients were referred to me by the hospital. When they approached me, their eyes were swollen and there was lot of inflammation in the eyes due to turbid fluid. As a retinal surgeon, my job was to clean the infection.” —Dr Milan Thakkar, who conducted the second round of operationsNames of the patients who lost their vision
Ramnik Damani(64),
Surajba Dilubha (65),
Ibrahim Habib (85),
Rajak Ibrahim (40),
Pravinsinh Chodani (60),
Bhikubhai Ayabkhan (52),
Gyaniben Chatali (63),
Ramniklal Chavda (72),
Hiraben Motwani (70),
Nandaben Ramchandani (50),
Memudaben (60),
Dashrathba Dilubha Sodha (60)-“This incident is definitely a blot on the hospital, but I will term it as an accident and not an incident,” B.B. Gogia, trusteePatients speak
“I spent Rs4,400 on the operation at Sadhu Vaswani and Rs7000 on the second operation by Dr Thakkar. But none of us was issued any receipt by Dr. Thakkar,” —Ramnik Damani”We were also told by Dr Thakkar that he would remove the infection but would not guarantee return of visibility. We were also made to sign papers on that,” another patient

Masuma Bharmal Jariwala

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‘Call money’: Creditor held for seeking sexual favours

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Ramakrishna would later seek sexual favours from the woman borrowers by threatening them, the DCP said.

A private money lender was arrested here today for allegedly cheating and seeking sexual favours from at least two woman borrowers in connection with “call money” racket probe, police said. The accused, identified as Gudivada Ramakrishna, also allegedly usurped property of a loanee in the city. Explaining the modus operandi of Ramakrishna, DCP (Law and Order), Zone I, CM Thrivikrama Varma said the accused used to lend money on exorbitant rates after obtaining promissory notes and blank cheques from the borrowers. Ramakrishna would later seek sexual favours from the woman borrowers by threatening them, the DCP said. “Police raided his house in Pedawaltair area here and seized 37 blank cheques, 39 promissory notes and LIC bonds belonging to borrowers, besides an SUV, a two-wheeler and four knives,” Varma said. Ramakrishna has been booked under various sections of IPC including 384 (punishment for extortion), 354-A (physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) and for cheating. “The call-money case was registered against Ramakrishna at Arilova police station in the city on December 15 following a complaint lodged by a woman,” the officer said. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said police are expecting more women victims to lodge complaints against Ramakrishna. The DCP said the complainant, a resident of Adarshanagar area, had borrowed from Ramakrishna by pledging her gold ornaments. “However, when she wanted to get her jewellery released by paying Rs 4 lakh upfront, the accused returned only half of the valuables and sought Rs 4.5 lakh in cash in addition. “When the woman expressed her inability to pay, he allegedly sought sexual favours from her and one of her friends,” the DCP added. He said Ramakrishna had also allegedly sought sexual favour from another woman borrower, a resident of Narasimhanagar area, after she failed to repay the interest on loan. Call money refers to a mode of private lending where loan is made available instantly at borrower’s doorstep but at exorbitant rates of interest and the lender can demand repayment anytime over a call. In some ‘call money’ cases, the private lenders allegedly sexually exploited woman borrowers when they failed to repay.

Gujarat: Congress takes charge of 21 district and 124 taluka panchayats

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In the local bodies elections held in November, Congress had won 21 out of 31 district panchayats and BJP six. The remaining local bodies delivered a hung verdict.

Congress members on Tuesday took charge of 21 district panchayats and 124 taluka panchayats, elections for which were held in November.Similarly, the BJP members took up the post of president in 8 district panchayats and 86 taluka panchayats. “I congratulate our representatives who have taken charge as presidents in 21 district panchayats and 124 taluka panchayats,” state unit Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki said. He said the party will deliver on electoral promises in the next five years.BJP spokesperson I K Jadeja said the BJP had won six out of eight district panchayats with clear majority, its representatives won the post of president in eight district bodies on backing of independents. “In the same way, we got a clear majority in 61 taluka panchayats but our representatives have won the post of president in 86 panchayats due to support of independents and others,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the local bodies elections held in November, Congress had won 21 out of 31 district panchayats and BJP six. The remaining local bodies delivered a hung verdict. In 230 taluka panchayats that had gone to polls, the Congress won 124 and BJP 61 (However, BJP has presidents in 86 panchayats on support of independents and others).In some of the remaining 20 taluka panchayats, either independents or others came to power or in some cases election of chairman will be held in future, officials said today. Election of presidents in two district panchayats in Devbhoomi Dwarka and Dahod was postponed and will be held in near future, they said. In around 20 taluka panchayats (out of 230) where there was a tie between the Congress and BJP, the chairmanship was decided by draw as per the rules of State Election Commission.

Two absconding Indian Mujahideen members joined ISIS: Govt tells Lok Sabha

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Chaudhary said there are no intelligence inputs of members of SIMI seeking shelter in Nepal etc.

Two absconding members of the banned Indian Mujahideen have joined the dreaded terrorist group ISIS, Lok Sabha was informed on Tuesday.”There are intelligence inputs of one or two members of the Indian Mujahideen, who were absconding from India since many years, having joined the ISIS/ISIL,” Minister of State for Home Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary said in written reply to a question in Lok Sabha.Chaudhary said there are no intelligence inputs of members of SIMI seeking shelter in Nepal etc.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”However, the members of the Indian Mujahideen have been known to have hideouts in Nepal, the Gulf and in Pakistan,” he said.

Australia coal port expansion approved

Australia approves the expansion of a coal terminal in north Queensland – a move that will see it become one of the world’s biggest coal ports.

Jaitley vs Azad plays out in Lok Sabha, as Congress guns for minister over DDCA row

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Amit Shah erms all the allegations levelled by AAP against Jaitley as ‘baseless and far from truth’

BJP member Kirti Azad speaks in the Lok Sabha on Monday

PTI
Union finance minister Arun Jaitley versus BJP MP Kirti Azad battle over financial irregularities in DDCA resonated on the floor of Lok Sabha on Monday. While the Congress was demanding his resignation, as Jaitley dubbed the charges against him as baseless, Azad, who was sitting in the treasury benches, demanded a time bound SIT-monitored CBI probe into his allegations.A day after Azad held a press conference on the DDCA issue, he raised the issue in the House, again stopping short of naming Jaitley, who had headed the DDCA for 13 years.”Modi government is against corruption. That is why CBI is probing DDCA’s activities between 2008 and 2013. Everybody knows who the president was during this time,”Azad said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Azad was allowed to speak without interruptions. Earlier in the day, Azad tweeted challenging Jaitley to file defamation against him too.”hello dear Arun Jaitely, hampar defemation file kar rahe ho na? Please karo na Don’t take injunction, don’t gag freedom of speech,”Azad tweeted.By Monday evening BJP president Amit Shah came to the finance minister’s defence saying the entire party was behind him and will not allow any “conspiracy” to defame him. “AAP was trying to tarnish Jaitley’s exemplary record… Attack on him will harm AAP in the long run,” he said.In a statement, Shah termed all the allegations levelled by AAP against Jaitley as “baseless and far from truth” and said his public life was like an open book dedicated to the country.The party chief’s statement came after Azad took on the minister in Parliament giving ammunition to the Opposition, an unprecedented act by a treasury bench member. Azad had met Shah two days before he held the press conference on Sunday. However, he went ahead with his plans.Union ministers have been coming to Jaitley’s defence, but on the question on whether action would be taken against Azad, they said it was for the party president to take a call. In a show of support for him, five union ministers– JP Nadda, Dharmendra Pradhan, Smriti Irani, Piyush Goel and Rajyavardhan Rathore– accompanied him to Patiala House Courts to file a statement in a criminal defamation case against AAP leaders.”Jaitley does not need a certificate from anyone. He has impeccable character,”parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu said.However, the DDCA issue could bring to the fore fissures in the party. The attack from within the BJP comes close on the heels of the castigation of the leadership by party veterans in the wake of the Bihar debacle.In the House, Congress members shouted slogans demanding Jaitley’s resignation. “The charges (against me) are baseless and wrong. This is all I have to say,” Jaitley said.While reeling out details of the construction of the Ferozeshah Kotla stadium in Delhi, he said the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) report did not find any fault with the expenditure and “accepted” the cost incurred.Congress’s KC Venugopal, who raised the issue, claimed that there were “gross irregularities” in DDCA when Jaitley headed it and alleged his involvement and said Azad’s press conference gave “solid evidence of irregularities” in DDCA. He said the construction work at Ferozshah Kotla had cost Rs 114 cr against the estimate of Rs 24 cr and alleged that it was forced escalation and that there was no record of tender in many cases.”He (Jaitley) is also involved in the scam. We demand a JPC probe and resignation of Jaitley,” he said.Jaitley said that it cost Rs 114 cr to build Kotla stadium, which was merely a “field” prior to the construction, and hit out at the Congress, saying the Nehru stadium was renovated at a cost of Rs 900 cr and the Dhyanchand stadium for Rs 600 cr. The Kotla stadium has a seating capacity of 42000, the Dhyanchad staidum steats only 14000 people.At one point when the Congress members started protesting, Jaitley angrily said “sit down…. You should have courage to listen.” Congress staged a walkout, as the treasury benches booed it. Attack from within the party The DDCA issue could bring to the fore fissures in the party. The attack from within the BJP comes close on the heels of the castigation of the leadership by party veterans in the wake of the Bihar debacle. In the House, Congress members shouted slogans demanding Jaitley’s resignation. “The charges (against me) are baseless and wrong. This is all I have to say,”Jaitley said. Party president backs JaitleyOn Monday evening BJP president Amit Shah came to the finance minister’s defence saying the entire party was behind him and will not allow any “conspiracy” to defame him. “AAP was trying to tarnish Jaitley’s exemplary record… Attack on him will harm AAP in the long run,” he said. The party chief’s statement came after Azad took on the minister in Parliament giving ammunition to the Opposition, an unprecedented act by a treasury bench member. Azad had met Shah two days before he held the press conference on Sunday. However, he went ahead with his plans.

Nitish prohibition plan: Here’s what you can and cannot buy in Bihar

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However, Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) would be available at limited government outlets. Initially there would be total ban on sale of country liquor from new financial year starting from April 1, 2016.

Nitish Kumar

The Nitish Kumar government on Friday unveiled its strategy to enforce prohibition of alcohol in Bihar in phases as part of which there would be total ban on country liquor from April 1 next year.However, Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) would be available at limited government outlets. Initially there would be total ban on sale of country liquor from new financial year starting from April 1, 2016, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said after a special cabinet meeting this evening.From that date onwards, limited shops run by government body Bihar State Beverages Corporation Limited (BSBCL) will sell IMFL in municipal and town council areas. Kumar said BSBCL, which runs under aegis of state Excise department, would take up the responsibility of retail sale of IMFL and would run outlets under strict guideline. “Earlier BSBCL was involved only in wholesale trade of IMFL but from now it would take up direct responsibility of retail also,” Kumar said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said after BSBCL takes up the job of IMFL sale, almost 90 per cent of present liquor outlets would be shut down thus minimizing the ill effect of alcohol consumption in the state. The Chief Minister, who had called the special cabinet meeting to approve the new Excise Policy, said his government decided to go phase-wise in enforcing prohibition in Bihar to make it “more effective.” However, he did not say anything on when the IMFL would also come under prohibition.Reiterating his pre-poll commitment to women that if he returned to power his future government would ban alcohol, Kumar said he was not bothered about revenue loss on account of prohibition. “The state is drawing around Rs 5000 crore from sale of liquor at present. I do not bother about losing revenue for a great social cause (banning liquor to save poor families getting ruined on this count),” he said. Excise Minister Abdul Jalil Mastan accompanied Kumar in the press conference. The Bihar CM stressed on social movement against alcohol consumption to make the Prohibition more effective. He exhorted women self help groups to demolish “Bhattis” (makeshift manufacturing place of hooch) and inform police immediately. “I am going to lay a guideline for response time for police action on such complaints from women against any such illegal hooch manufacturing,” Kumar said.”The police response time on such complaints should not be more than the time needed to travel from police station to the site,” he said. A committee under Chief Secretary would monitor everything relating to enforcement of liquor ban.The Bihar CM said direct responsibility would be fixed on District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police for illegal sale and manufacturing of liquor once the enforcement comes into action. Kumar said he has asked the Health department to set up de-addiction centre in every district to help habitual drinkers give up the bad habit. “We need to tread step-by-step and that is why prohibition has been decided in phases,” the CM said.The Bihar CM said from April 1, 2016 foreign liquor would be available only from BSBCL outlets that would function under strict government guidelines. CCTV cameras would be installed at BSBCL outlets to find out if any one is consuming liquor outside the shop, as is the practice by some people, he added.

Nimboo paani to naankatai: What would be the next Android name?

Readers of dna have offered some of their ideas after Google CEO Sundar Pichai hinted at the possibility of naming the next Android after an Indian sweet.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai

File Photo
Born in Madras (now Chennai), Sundar Pichai became the first India-born CEO of Google Incorporated. The 43-year old alumnus of IIT-Kharagpur, during his visit to India in December, hosted an open address to students from all over India, at the Delhi University Campus.It was only natural that questions came pouring in, when he took to the stage. However, the question that stumped the CEO of the tech conglomerate was if the next Android platform can be named after an Indian dessert.Google’s Android OS has the longstanding reputation of being named after different sorts of sweets and desserts that run along the alphabetical order. It started with Android 1.5 being named ‘Cupcake’. With more updates, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jellybean, Lollipop and finally, Marshmallow, were released. It was then, that the proclivity of Indians to sweet, gave them away at the address in Delhi.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”When I meet my mom, I will ask for suggestion,”, Pichai said. He added, Google may even put up an online poll to decide the name for the upcoming Android N.But before Google could, dna came up with its own poll from the comments of the readers on its Facebook page.Pichai will ask mom! Any suggestions?
Posted by DNA India on Thursday, December 17, 2015While there were suggestions ranging from Gulab Jamun, Payasam, Rasgulla to Nankhatai and Jalebi but Aanand Rangaramanujam’s suggestion ‘Laddu’ clearly stole the show. However, most of the suggestions did not start with ‘N’. But some creative readers took up the challenge and went the extra mile.Mani Shankar Singh gave an alternative if Google insists on ‘N’. he posted, “Jalebi is good and if N is necessary….then leave sweets and name it “Nimbu-Mirchi”. In my opinion, it is the best. Chatpata Android….kyon??”Jai Mishra also got his creative juices flowing and commented, “Android Samosa… With Hari Chatni update and later with Lal Chatni Update… “Some readers like Sourabh Sharma seemed to be under the impression that ‘M’ is the auspicious letter. He suggested, “The name will be on alphabet “M” and it must be a sweet dish as what androids pattern is…..So the name can be Android makhan or Android malai”. Hemchander thought the new android should break away from the pattern of naming its versions as sweets, “why not Android PaniPoori” he commented.At such a dire situation, it can only be hoped, that Lakshmi Pichai, the mother of Sundar Pichai, comes up with a fitting suggestion.Related read: After Kitkat and Lollipop, Sundar Pichai promises an Indian dessert name for next Android

My daughter’s name was Jyoti Singh, declares Nirbhaya’s mother

“We stand for child rights, but it is our right to know whether he has reformed or not,”said Dr Ranjana Kumari, activist and Director, CSR, to dna. She added, “we are against capital punishment and their should be a debate on it. However, one has to go by the law of the land, and according to that, we want the highest punishment for all accused.”

Nirbhaya’s parents Badrinath Singh and Asha Devi

PTI
At a highly charged remembrance meeting for ‘Nirbhaya’ on the third anniversary of the December 16 gangrape, the mother of the victim asked that justice be done for her daughter, and that all accused, including the former juvenile be hanged. Asha Devi also publicly declared Nirbhaya’s name –Jyoti Singh –saying she was “not ashamed to name her”.Organised by a group of citizens calling themselves Justice Seekers, with the involvement of gender rights group Centre for Social Research (CSR), the demonstration brought together many public and political figures to commemorate Jyoti. In a palpably angry atmosphere, most of these big names repeated that justice had not been done, not to Nirbhaya nor to other women attacked and assaulted. The feeling seemed exacerbated by the fact the juvenile accused, now a 21 year old man is set to walk free after three years in a juvenile home.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We stand for child rights, but it is our right to know whether he has reformed or not,”said Dr Ranjana Kumari, activist and Director, CSR, to dna. She added, “we are against capital punishment and their should be a debate on it. However, one has to go by the law of the land, and according to that, we want the highest punishment for all accused.”Former police officer Kiran Bedi, Congresswomen Kiran Walia and Sharmishta Mukherjee, Delhi Commission for Women Swati Maliwal, among others spoke out against the rates of crimes against women and the fact that nothing seemed to have changed in Delhi all these years. Mukherjee called for gender sensitisation at all levels, at home, in schools and offices, Walia pushed for closer monitoring of trials so that delays can be countered.Maliwal brought up cases of minor girls being gangraped as examples of the increasing crime rates, and her own investigations into delhi police data –only 9 accused were convicted in sexual assault cases in 2014 out of 11000 FIRs registered, and in Delhi’s only forensic lab, 1500 samples had gone bad potentially damaging many cases that could be on crimes against women.However, Maliwal was interrupted in her speech by Kumari; it seemed the latter, and other organisers, feared that Maliwal was being too confrontational against other parties.Jyoti’s mother too asked that rape not be politicised, instead her demands be met. All accused be hanged, all cases of sexual assault be fast tracked from the apex court to the lower court and the Nirbhaya fund be used to build more forensic laboratories in Delhi and other states. Kumari added another demand, that Jyoti’s parents be given protection. In the ongoing Parliament session, in Lok sabha, BJP Member of Parliament Hema Malini pronounced her sentence on the juvenile, saying his mind was “devilish”. She asked that he be treated as an adult for his crime as, according to her, he did more harm to Nirbhaya. This fact, though previously reported in the media, has been disputed by women’s groups and child rights’ activists based on the Juvenile Justice Boards’ observations.

Amitabh Thakur will have to move govt first against his suspension: Allahabad HC

After the disposal of the appeal, in the event the petitioner was still aggrieved, then he would have an opportunity to avail the remedy before Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) in accordance with law, the court observed.
File Photo
PTI
The Allahabad High Court on Wednesday said suspended IPS officer Amitabh Thakur will have first to approach the central government through the competent authority by filing an appropriate appeal against his suspension order. It said that in the event such an appeal was filed with in 15 days from today, the central government shall dispose of the it within three weeks.After the disposal of the appeal, in the event the petitioner was still aggrieved, then he would have an opportunity to avail the remedy before Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) in accordance with law, the court observed.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A division bench of Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and Justice Attau Rahman Masoodi passed the judgement while disposing of a writ petition filed by Thakur challenging his suspension order dated July 13 this year.The petitioner alleged that the continued suspension order on account of inaction of the respondent – state and the malafide alleged deserve to be interfered with and the court should invoke its writ jurisdiction for quashing the same. A preliminary objection was raised on behalf of the respondents with regard to the maintainability of the writ petition while referring to rulings of the apex court and opposed the petition. In response, the petitioner had drawn the attention of the court to the order passed by the CAT dated November 30.”The suspension order has to be viewed in the light of the allegations raised on the issue of jurisdiction, violation of rules and malafides, if any, and the Central Administrative Tribunal is not precluded from entertaining any such petition as has been observed in the order dated November 30,” the court observed.Thakur was suspended after he had accused Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, on July 10 of threatening him on phone. He alleged that Yadav was angry because his wife Nutan had filed a corruption case against a minister in the state government. However, the state government said that Thakur was suspended on charges of indiscipline and corruption.

Hardik Patel files bail plea in High Court in Surat sedition case

His bail application in the High Court came days after the Surat district and sessions court had rejected his bail plea on December 10.
File Photo
PTI
Patel quota stir leader Hardik Patel, who is behind bars in two separate sedition cases, on Wednesday moved the Gujarat High Court seeking bail in the first sedition case filed against him in Surat. Surat police had filled a sedition case against the 22-year-old firebrand leader for allegedly inciting a fellow activist to kill policemen instead of committing suicide.His bail application in the High Court came days after the Surat district and sessions court had rejected his bail plea on December 10. In the bail application submitted before the Surat court, Hardik claimed that he has been booked under false charges by police, as mere spoken words does not amount to sedition.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The plea claimed that state government has deliberately slapped false charges on him to keep him away from the recently held local body polls across the state. However, the bail plea was rejected by the principal district judge of Surat Geeta Gopi. Now, Hardik has approached the High Court with same contentions.Surat police arrested Hardik in October on the charges of sedition for allegedly inciting a fellow activist Vipul Desai ‘to kill four-five policemen instead of committing suicide’. Later, Ahmedabad crime branch also invoked sedition charge against Hardik and five of his aides through a separate FIR filed on October 21 for allegedly inciting Patel youths to resort to violence in order to destabilise the state government.Recently, an Ambedabad sessions court here also rejected his bail plea in connection with second sedition case. It will come up for hearing in due course.

Reservation needed as long as social discrimination exists: Mohan Bhagwat

The Rashtriya Sawayamsevak Sangh chief’s remarks on quota in a recent interview had drawn criticism and the grand alliance of parties led by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad had used his remarks to rally around the backward castes.
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RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, who had recently come in for criticism for his reported suggestion for a review of the reservation policy, on Wednesday batted for quota saying it is needed as long as social discrimination remains in society.The RSS Twitter handle tweeted Bhagwat as saying:The Rashtriya Sawayamsevak Sangh chief’s remarks on quota in a recent interview had drawn criticism and the grand alliance of parties led by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad had used his remarks to rally around the backward castes.Quoting Bhagwat as saying at an event today, an RSS spokesperson said he observed that only when discrimination is completely removed from the society then reservation can be stopped but it has to be conveyed by those who have been the victims of social discrimination.After its massive defeat in Bihar, some Bihar BJP leaders had said that Bhagwat’s remarks were used by rival parties to polarise the poor sections of the society in their favour. However, RSS had clarified that Bhagwat was quoted out of context and the Hindutva organisation is in support of reservation.

Don’t exempt women motorists from odd-even formula: Women Groups

According to the scheme, odd numbered vehicles will be allowed on odd dates and even numbered vehicles on even dates.

AFP photo
No exemptions under the odd-even scheme should be given to women motorists, a number of women groups have conveyed to Delhi government saying that they also want to be a part of pollution-clean drive.The Arvind Kejriwal government is, however, yet to take a final call on exempting women drivers under road-rationing experiment starting January 1.According to the scheme, odd numbered vehicles will be allowed on odd dates and even numbered vehicles on even dates.”Some women organisations have approached the government not to grant exemption to women drivers in the odd-even formula as they also want to be a part of this pollution-clean drive. However, government will soon take a decision in this regard,” the Delhi Transport minister Gopal Rai said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rai said the government will soon launch a campaign to encourage people to be a part of odd-even formula with the help of AAP volunteers, Civil Defence and NCC cadets so that people follow this formula. Later in the day, Rai held a meeting with MLAs seeking their suggestions on rationing plan of bus routes in their constituency ahead of odd-even formula.”We sought suggestions from MLAs on which routes numbers of buses should be increased in their areas so that people don’t have to face problems while commuting public transport during a 15-day trial period of odd-even scheme,” Rai said.Earlier this month, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and PWD Minister Satyendar Jain had met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari respectively seeking Centre’s cooperation for the implementation of this scheme. Rai had also met Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu to increase frequency of local trains on Ring Railway.

Mysterious flying object sighted over ISRO centre by shepherds

However, ISRO officials denied any such ‘flight’ over the Centre at Mahendragiri, about 55 km from here.

A mysterious flying object has reportedly been sighted by shepherds over ISRO’s Mahendragiri centre and neighbouring forest areas.Police said the shepherds, who were grazing cattle, claimed to have seen a mysterious object flying over the cryogenic testing centre of ISRO on Monday.However, ISRO officials denied any such ‘flight’ over the Centre at Mahendragiri, about 55 km from here.Police said the shepherds had told them that the object flew near the seventh watch tower, where no one had been posted for a long time.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Officials of police and forest departments, besides ISRO, were interrogating the shepherds to ascertain what exactly they had seen, they said.

Is Sanskrit written in English/Hindi all Greek/Latin?

Only 2 out of 100 research papers in Sanskrit are written in the language; But many scholars aren’t cribbing

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Despite several efforts to promote Sanskrit, only two out of 100 research papers in Sanskrit are being presented in the language. Scholars prefer either Hindi or English to write their PhD papers. This has divided the Sanskrit lobby on whether the practice of learning Sanskrit in other languages be allowed to continue or should it be made a medium of instruction. Government and scholars at Sanskrit Bharti, an RSS-affiliated body for promoting Sanskrit, have been trying to promote the language and bring it to the mainstream education curriculum.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The human resource development ministry has constituted a committee last month to suggest a long-term vision and road map for the development of Sanskrit for 10 years. However, a month on, there is a split on traditional versus modern learning techniques. Scholars attached to university systems are of the view that Sanskrit be taught as a language and that there is no harm in presenting Sanskrit research papers in English or Hindi. “A research paper in other languages can be accessed even by those who do not know Sanskrit. Making Sanskrit a medium will discourage students from picking up the language and valuable research work will have very few takers,” said Professor Ramesh Bhardwaj, Sanskrit head of department at Delhi University. Bhardwaj is a member of the Sanskrit committee. Scholars backing Bhardwaj’s view also feel that to make Sanskrit a medium of instruction will require altering the overall syllabus from the school level. “In our school curriculum, we have been teaching basic Sanskrit. The grammar and literature of other languages taught in schools are way ahead of Sanskrit. To make Sanskrit attractive and more accessible at the college level, the need is to correct the school text books,” said Professor AD Mathur of St Stephen’s College. Mathur also feels that it is more important for students to be able to understand the rich content in these Sanskrit texts, even if it is available in other languages. However, scholars from Sanskrit Bharti and Rashtriya Sanskrit Santhan, who support the traditional Sanskrit method and have been championing for the speak-Sanskrit movement want Sanskrit to be developed into a teaching medium. “The current form of learning Sanskrit is adopted from the British. The British translated Sanskrit so that they could read it. For 150 years, we have been following their traditions,” said a member of the committee, who did not want to be quoted. These scholars are also of the view that the British style of teaching Sanskrit has led to a decline of the language and that there is a need to go to the pre- British mode. “We want Indians to read Gita and not the translation of Gita,” added a professor.

Government to put in place system for regulating UAVs: Home Secretary

Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi said there was a need for regulating Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to prevent its misuse, particularly in populated areas and sensitive locations like airports.

To check use of UAVs by rogue elements to carry out terror attacks, the government is mulling to put in place a system to detect and defeat such threats and regulate low flying objects.Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi said there was a need for regulating Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to prevent its misuse, particularly in populated areas and sensitive locations like airports. “We need to go into regulations. We need to have a system to detect and destruct rouge aircraft… We have to ensure that UAVs are not hijacked by rouge elements and misused,” he said addressing a seminar on ‘India’s Internal Security and UAVs’.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Home Secretary said the process of detection and destruction of UAVs is an evolving process and experts are still working on it. “That is an evolving technology. People are still getting into it, how to do what to do, how to destroy them. It is difficult for UAVs as it has very little footprints. If it is detected in a populated areas or in an airport or in a runway, we don’t know what would be the impact of its destruction. We really don’t aware what would be the consequences,” he said.Mehrishi said putting in place certain regulations in operating UAVs have two aspects — preventive and enabling — and the government was working on both. “We have to work to prevent illegal things from happening…We also have to do enabling, licencing (of the UAVs),” he said. The Home Secretary said the government was also exploring the option of using UAVs for works like surveillance in large establishments such as refineries, secure oil pipelines from being broken or stolen, crime detection etc. “One positive side of the homeland security (of the use of UAVs), whether to send relief in a disaster situation, how to send medicine, delivery of food, whether it is for traffic management and probably detection of crime.”So, homeland security is an issue we have to look forward. We are in the Home Ministry ….little concern about certain things in homeland security. We are currently doing that…including the issue of infiltration from the western side of the border from the hostile neighbour,” he said. Mehrishi, however, said infiltration from across the Indo-Pak border has come down to almost negligible level even though there were areas that need to be secured through technology and increasing capacity, including by using UAVs.”One important aspects for us is to reduce boots on the ground. We are also using technology intensively so that we ensure security and less personnel on the ground,” he said. The Home Secretary said there was a need for homeland security specific facilities such as how to detect ungrounded mines where our security forces are exposed to in certain areas of the country.Addressing the seminar, Air Marshal V R Chaudhary strongly pitched for bringing UAVs and all low flying objects under the ambit of some rules and regulations as they were “security threat”. “UAVs are security threat which may impact airliner carrying passengers. …we need to regulate UAVs. They should be given permission for selected areas. We are not advocating complete ban on these kinds of machines. What we are saying is that they should be regulated,” he said.”One can order an UAV on the Internet. The easy availability of UAVs on the Internet, its small size is definitely a security threat,” he said. Air Marshal Chaudhary said UAVs are difficult to detect as they operate within the line of sight and low speed. It is difficult to detect in a crowded environment. “However, it has the potential to damage. Even the smallest of UAV can carry upto two kgs of RDX. One can well imagine the potential of damage a UAV can cause if it is detonated,” he said.Air Marshal Chaudhary said currently UAVs are not under any regulation and hence its operation can’t be banned completely and action can be taken against any violator only under IPC. “There are lots of example globally where UAVs, due to going out of sight or going out of control of operator, creating potential damage or hazard to civil aviation,” he said. The IAF officer said there should be concerted effort to check potential threat from such unconventional platforms like UAVs, paragliders, hot air balloons.

Local leaders’ sentiments, RSS, caste to play crucial role in BJP’s Mission UP

The party, which has already begun the ground work for selection of candidates, is likely to give priority to those who lost by narrow margins or came second in the last assembly election in UP.

RSS

After Bihar, the BJP has started gearing up for its next high stake battle– the Uttar Pradesh assembly election. Though there are still 15 months to go, the party has lined out the broad contours of its strategy in the state, which like Bihar, it had swept in last year’s Lok Sabha elections. With the mistakes made in the recent Bihar assembly election still fresh in the mind, one of the first lessons for the BJP is to factor in sentiments of local unit in UP particularly in ticket distribution, according to party sources. In the aftermath of the Bihar debacle, several state leaders had alleged that the BJP leadership had ignored them and projected “outsiders” in the run-up to the election.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The party, which has already begun the ground work for selection of candidates, is likely to give priority to those who lost by narrow margins or came second in the last assembly election in UP. There are around 15%-20% of such candidates, sources said. Another experience from Bihar was the caste dynamics dominating all other narrative in the state where the BJP and its allies faced a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Nitish Kumar-Lalu Prasad Yadav combine, unlike in the Lok Sabha election when the NDA had won 31 of the 40 seats. Sources said the party will lay emphasis on the caste arithmetic in UP, focusing on the upper castes, OBCs and scheduled castes, while deciding on candidates and working out its strategy in the run-up to the 2017 election. In UP, where party President Amit Shah was in-charge during the Lok Sabha election, the BJP, which had projected Narendra Modi as Prime Ministerial candidate, had won 73 of the 80 seats. During the recent Bihar election, the BJP had pinned its hopes on the “uneroded” Modi wave, which had swept both UP and Bihar for it in 2014. In the Lok Sabha election, the BJP had even encroached BSP leader Mayawati’s dalit vote bank as Modi managed to woo the electorate cutting across caste lines. While in the general election, the BSP failed to win a single seat, the BJP is viewing her as its most formidable foe in 2017.With Mayawati, who is hoping to consolidate the dalit and Muslim vote, having a sway over Western UP, the BJP is planning to focus on development-craving Poorvanchal or Eastern UP. While the Dalit population in UP is around 20 per cent, the Muslims account for 19.3 per cent in the state. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the BJP’s ideological mentor, is also likely to be play a bigger role in the election to the state, which was the hotbed of hindutva politics and had pushed the party to the national centre-stage in the 1990s. The party strategy is to refrain from chanting about Ram Temple in Ayodhya, which is now in court and on the back burner of the party’s agenda, sources said. However, several of its Hindutva hardliners like Yogi Adityanath, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and Sakshi Maharaj are from UP. The BJP is toying with the idea of replacing its state unit chief Laxmikant Bajpayi, a Brahmin. Among the names doing the rounds are union minister of state for HRD Ram Shanker Katheriya, a pracharak and a Dalit leader, Swatantra Dev Singh, an OBC from Bundelkhand and Ashok Kataria, the state vice-president. Bihar debacle : With the mistakes made in the recent Bihar assembly election still fresh in the mind, one of the first lessons for the BJP is to factor in sentiments of local unit in UP particularly in ticket distribution, according to party sources. In the aftermath of the Bihar debacle, several state leaders had alleged that the BJP leadership had ignored them and projected “outsiders” in the run-up to the election.
RSS role: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the BJP’s ideological mentor, is also likely to be play a bigger role in the election to the state, which was the hotbed of hindutva politics and had pushed the party to the national centre-stage in the 1990s. The party strategy is to refrain from chanting about Ram Temple in Ayodhya, which is now in court and on the back burner of the party’s agenda, sources said. However, several of its Hindutva hardliners like Yogi Adityanath, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and Sakshi Maharaj are from UP.

Delhi’s air quality to remain ‘very poor’ over the weekend: IMD

The average levels of PM 2.5 and PM 10 were 174 and 285 microgram per cubic metre on Friday, a senior IMD official said and added that such conditions are expected to remain over the next two days due to atmospheric conditions.

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Delhiites would do well to avoid outdoor activities over the weekend as the city’s ‘very poor’ air quality brings with it the possibility of respiratory illness on prolonged exposure.The average levels of PM 2.5 and PM 10 were 174 and 285 microgram per cubic metre on Friday, a senior IMD official said and added that such conditions are expected to remain over the next two days due to atmospheric conditions.”The wind is not that strong so suspended particulate matters won’t get easily dispersed. Winds from the himalayas have also brought in moisture and resulted in a drop of day- time temperature,” the official said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Real-time figures of Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) were more alarming as PM 2.5 and PM 10, fine pollutants which can penetrate deep into the respiratory system, were multiple times higher than the safe limits of 60 and 100. Anand Vihar’s PM 2.5 and PM 10 were 316 microgram per cubic metre and 781 at 8.50 PM while the same were 242 and 480 in the RK Puram area at 5 PM. However, the average level of pollution has seen a dip over the last two days.On December 9, 24-hour-average reading of PM 2.5 was 204 and the Central Pollution Control Board’s real-time air quality index in places like Mandir Marg, Punjabi Bagh, RK Puram had touched the ‘severe’ category at many points during the day.’Very poor’ quality air signifies PM 10 and PM 2.5 levels between 351 and 420, and 211 to 252 micro gram per cubic metre while ‘severe’ is declared when PM 2.5 and PM 10 cross 253, 421 micro gram per cubic metres respectively. PM 2.5, microscopic in size, is considered by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the best indicator of the level of health risks from air pollution.

Ahead of Assembly polls, Dilip Ghosh appointed West Bengal BJP chief

Ghosh has been an old RSS hand and was a state BJP general secretary after joining the party some time back.

Ahead of West Bengal Assembly polls next year, BJP on Friday announced the appointment of Dilip Ghosh as its new state president, replacing Rahul Sinha, whose term had ended.Ghosh has been an old RSS hand and was a state BJP general secretary after joining the party some time back. Sinha, whose term ended in September, has been made a national secretary, a BJP statement said. His appointment puts an end to months of speculation as the party mulled whether to let Sinha continue till the polls or replace him as demanded by many West Bengal leaders, who had argued that BJP was steadily losing its support after putting up a strong show in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and needed a leadership change.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The state is likely to go to polls in April next year. The Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress and the CPI(M)-led Left block, besides Congress and BJP, are the main parties in the fray. BJP had fetched close to 17 per cent votes, its highest, in Lok Sabha elections in the state and the party had then hoped to consolidate its gains to emerge as a major challenger to the TMC. However, its dismal showing in subsequent local elections have made things more difficult for it, political watchers believe.

Chennai Floods: When snakes took refuge in an airplane!

In the recent floods, numerous snakes have crawled out of the woodworks and found their way into homes and even aircrafts.

An aircraft seen drifted away into neighbouring forests after heavy rainfall that led to waterlogging of Chennai airport.

PTI
When the movie came out, no one thought it could actually happen. But after the Chennai floods, it looks like ‘Snakes on a Plane’ is no more just a movie title! The flood waters had inundated the airport and those who have been cleaning the aircrafts now, have been in for a rude shock. Numerous snakes had sought refuge in tyres and the underbelly of airplanes, according to news reports. A king cobra was discovered hiding in the tyres of an aircraft, but luckily the reptile didn’t cause any harm to any of the men who were working on the ground. But they reportedly managed to get it out of the tyre and it was released in a safe place.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Watch the video of the airport workers rescuing the cobra:However, in another instance, two men who were cleaning an aircraft were not so lucky, stated a regional newspaper report. While cleaning, a poisonous viper was found and the snake seemed to have been really riled up, as it bit both the men.In the recent Chennai floods, numerous snakes crawled out of the woodworks and found their way into homes and even aircrafts. However, animal rescue experts have been offering to help deal with any such instances. In the wake of Chennai floods, know your snakes. Don’t panic. Don’t kill. Identify and act. #chennaifloods #snake
Posted by Surfing Bay of Life Surf School & Surf Shop on Monday, December 7, 2015Just rescued a Cobra and a checkered keelback ( water snake)from pallavakam. These snakes were inside the bedroom. If…
Posted by Shravan Krishnan on Tuesday, December 1, 2015Related Read – #ChennaiDoggyPatrol: When animal lovers rescued our furry friends during the floods

Teenage girl arrested for conspiring to kill prime witness in murder case of ex-MLA

“On 8 December, the woman had called Vipin on the pretext of meeting her near Rithala Metro Station and passed this information to her friend Aditya Shokeen.

A 19-year-old girl was arrested by the Delhi Police in connection with killing of Vipin Chaudhary who was a prime witness in ex-MLA Bharat Singh murder case of 29 March, 2015. The girl, who is a student in Outer Delhi area, had allegedly helped the assailants to lay a trap for Vipin.Vipin Chaudhary, was earlier this week gunned down by four car borne assailants in what looked like a planned execution. According to police, the girl, identified as Alisha, befriended Vipin earlier this month on the directions of Aditya Shokeen, the nephew of Udaiveer, the main accused in the Bharat Singh murder case.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”On 8 December, the woman had called Vipin on the pretext of meeting her near Rithala Metro Station and passed this information to her friend Aditya Shokeen.Vipin wanted to take the accused for a movie, but she convinced her meet her on an isolated stretch of road between Japani Park. There the suspects Vipin and Aditya were waiting for the couple.” said DCP Outer District, Vikramjit Singh.Aditya’s family has a long running dispute with Bharat Singh over several issues, prominent among them being the ultimate control Outer Delhi’s badlands. Bharat Singh, a former INLD legislator was shot dead in March this year when he was attending a religious function in West Delhi’s Najafgarh area. Vipin, the driver of Singh, was the lone eye-witness to the case and had been instrumental for the arrest of Udaiveer. However the 23-year-old driver ran out of luck on December 8.According to sources in Delhi police, Alisha was arrested after informers told police that they had spotted Vipin and the accused on a motor-cycle. “The accused told police that Vipin was shot dead right in front of her. According to her, Vipin was shocked on seeing Aditya and couldn’t believe what was about to happen to him. The accused left as soon as Vipin was killed and so did the other accused,” a source told dna.The Police had been denying the involvement of any woman up till now and dismissed these reports as hearsay evidence. However the 19-year-old was finally was arrested by the Police on 10 December after she was traced to a PG hostel in Gurgaon, Haryana.”The investigation is ongoing, the police are trying to trace of the whereabouts of Hemant and Aditya,” the DCP added.In the year 2002 Udaiveer’s father Surajmal, his uncle Narayan Singh and his brother Sukhbir Singh were killed in Sonipat, Haryana and his family holds Bharat Singh’s brother Krishan Pehalwan and his associates responsible for this murder. Pehalwan is a local strongman and has over dozen criminal cases against him.

Park Street rape case: Suzette Jordan’s rapists pronounced guilty

Suzette Jordan, the Kolkata woman, was gang-raped in the dead of the night on February 5, 2012.

After almost four years of a tough legal battle, a Kolkata session court on Thursday pronounced three of the five men accused in what came to be known as the Park Street rape case, as guilty.Suzette Jordan, the Kolkata woman, was gang-raped in the dead of the night on February 5, 2012. Her case was vilified by the judgement, after struggling against much social stigma, coming directly from West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who had accused Jordan of fabricating the case, questions over what she was doing in a club, and intimidation from the more powerful families of the rapist. Jordan, who passed away in March this year from encephalitis, had made a powerful statement by shunning anonymity and revealing her identity to support other victims of sexual assault.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While two of the accused are missing, the court booked the other three under Sections 376(d), 323 and 506 of the IPC. Jordan’s family, her parents, two daughter and sister, have finally been given enough cause to celebrate, saying they were “happy” with the order and that Suzette’s soul would now rest in piece.Her lawyer, Anirban Guha, said that this was justice, though it came late. However, “better late than never” he told dna. “If she had been alive today, she would have been very happy,” said Guha. He added that Suzette’s actions made it possible for many other women to break their silence and fight legal battles over sexual assault. He called her an icon who gave courage to countless other women.With the positive verdict, he said the state was now trying harder to catch the missing two accused. However, the family and he were aware that this was not the end of the road, as the now convicted could appeal in higher courts.”We have fought so far and will will fight again,” said Guha.The quantum of punishment is to be pronounced on Friday.

Minimum educational qualification mandatory for Panchayat polls: Supreme Court

The petition had challenged validity of Haryana’s Panchayati Raj (amendment) Act 2015 which fixes matriculation as essential qualification for general candidates contesting panchayat polls, while the qualification for women (general) and Scheduled Caste candidates has been fixed at Class VIII.

Supreme Court
File Photo

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the validity of recent amendments in a Haryana law which fixes various criteria including minimum educational qualification for candidates contesting panchayat polls.”The writ petition is dismissed,” a bench comprising justices J Chelameswar and A M Sapre said. The petition had challenged validity of Haryana’s Panchayati Raj (amendment) Act 2015 which fixes matriculation as essential qualification for general candidates contesting panchayat polls, while the qualification for women (general) and Scheduled Caste candidates has been fixed at Class VIII.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, in case of a woman candidate belonging to the Scheduled Caste category contesting election for the post of panch (panchayat head), the minimum qualification would be Class V.

46% of rape victims in Delhi are minors: Government

However, the Union Home Ministry maintained that Delhi Police, as a conscious policy of “truthful reporting”, is registering complaints in the recent years with an objective that no crime, especially crime against the vulnerable groups, including women, goes unreported

In the past three years, five minor girls were allegedly raped in every two days, forming around 46% of the total rape cases reported in the national capital in the corresponding period.”In 2013, 1,636 rape cases were reported in Delhi of which, in 757 cases victims were minors. In 2014, 2,166 rape cases were reported in which 1,004 pertained to minors. “Till October 31 this year, as many as 1,856 rape cases have been reported and in 824 cases, the victims are reported to be below 18 years,” Rajya Sabha was told on Wednesday.However, the Union Home Ministry maintained that Delhi Police, as a conscious policy of “truthful reporting”, is registering complaints in the recent years with an objective that no crime, especially crime against the vulnerable groups, including women, goes unreported. “During 2014, the work-out percentage of rape cases in Delhi was as high as 80.79%. Similarly, during the current year (upto October 31, 2015) it is 77.16%,” the Rajya Sabha was told.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Crimes like rape are handled with great sensitivity and various measures have been taken by Delhi Police for the safety of women in the city. Emphasis is given to ensure that all cases of crime against women are investigated by women officers. “Delhi Police has organised self-defence training programmes in which 17,699 girls and women were imparted training during the year 2014,” said Minister of State for Home Affairs Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary.

Lokayukta to Mehta: What about babus?

ML Tahaliyani and Ajoy Mehta

You acted against the contractors, but what about your own officials? BMC chief Ajoy Mehta could hardly have missed the message when Maharashtra Lokayukta Justice MG Tahaliyani on Tuesday issued a notice to him and launched its own probe into the Rs150 crore ‘desilting scam’. Tahaliyani has sought a report from Mehta seeking details of the action taken against errant civic officials and engineers involved in the scam. A dna report dated September 27, 2015 on the desilting scam is also part of the Lokayukta’s notice. Mehta is expected to reply to the notice issued under section 10 of the Lokayukta and Upa Lokayukta Act 1971 on Wednesday.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> “We have issued a notice to the municipal commissioner taking suo moto cognizance of the desilting scam. We have called for a preliminary report from him. Criminal action has been taken against contractors and FIRs have been registered too. However, we want to know what action has been taken against errant officials. If we are not satisfied with the municipal commissioner’s reply, we will launch a thorough investigation,” Tahaliyani told dna. Officials said this was the first such move in recent times where the Lokayukta had launched an inquiry into a major civic issue. After the BMC’s high-level probe into the scam nailed shoddy work by its contractors, the BMC ordered blacklisting of all contractors involved in desilting work. Mehta also asked the BMC to register FIRs against all 24 contractors and start departmental enquiries against errant officials. Following an interim report, Mehta had suspended 14 officials and registered FIRs against three contractors in connection with the scam. While 10 engineers from the Storm Water Drain (SWD) department were suspended, the civic body also suspended Chief Engineer (Vigilance) Uday Murudkar, six sub-engineers, four assistant engineers and three supervisors from the SWD department. However, FIRs were not registered against any officials. “The scam could not have been executed without involvement of civic officials. If needed, we will conduct a probe and recommend action against those found guilty to the municipal commissioner. We are awaiting the BMC chief’s reply to decide on further course of action,” Tahaliyani added. The BMC’s probe report had stated that not only did contractors do sub-standard work, but openly cheated the BMC by inflating desilting claims when in reality, no work had taken place. According to officials, almost all contractors involved in desilting work duped the BMC. The BMC probe panel led by additional municipal commissioner Sanjay Deshmukh examined records of trips that the contractors’ trucks made from various drains in the city to the designated dumping grounds. The final report, which took over three months to be completed, was submitted to Mehta last week. BMC’s claims of being rain-ready were washed away with a heavy downpour on June 18 and 19. The civic body had reportedly spent Rs150 crore on the preparations, but not just the low-lying areas, several other localities were water-logged. Following the floods, Mehta ordered a probe into the desilting operations. The report claimed that there were irregularities in 65 to 70% of the work. The report also nails 20 civic officials from the SWD and Vigilance department. Mehta could not be reached for comment.

Dalai Lama says India is 90% tolerant, only some politicians and media create ‘sensationalism’

The Tibetan spiritual leader said a lot of problems are highlighted in newspapers but they are not that serious.

Amid the raging debate over intolerance, Tibetan spiritual head the Dalai Lama on Monday said overall Indians are religiously tolerant, but there are some politicians and some sections of the media who create sensationalism out of “small things”.”Ninety nine per cent of Indians still are religiously tolerant and one per cent it is possible (to have intolerant people). I believe that. Some politicians may express different things, but that is their individual expression,” the Dalai Lama told PTI in an interview here. “Some people in the media too create small things into ….create sensationalism,’ said the Dalai Lama, on a three-day visit to Bengaluru.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Tibetan spiritual leader said a lot of problems are highlighted in newspapers but they are not that serious. “In India I feel, when we look at the newspapers, there are a lot of problems, but besides that nothing serious – Totalitarian regimes’ newspaper is smooth, but underneath a lot of problems,” he said. Asked about criticism that writers did nothing like returning awards during the Emergency and the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the Dalai Lama said US President Barack Obama had mentioned Modi as a straightforward and a visionary leader and his visits to different countries has improved India’s image and it is on the path becoming an economic power.”President Obama sort of expressed Prime Minister Modi as brother, truthful, straightforward leader with a vision.During his visits to different countries, the image of India and also the economy, I do not know the details, but if you see his own sort of speeches, India’s economy is very rapidly increasing and India is on the path of becoming more powerful,” he said.The Dalai Lama said he doesn’t not know the details about Modi’s alleged “connection” with the post-Godhra riots, but these issues crop up during elections. “When he (Modi) was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, a Muslim friend said he (Modi) may have some doubt about his connection with post-Godhra violence. I don’t know … During elections we see more criticism of such kind,” he said.”This kind of criticism also is witnessed in Tibetan communities during elections and whenever a political matter crops up,” he added. However, this sort of criticism is better than the totalitarian regimes of China and North Korea, where there is no sort of freedom of expression for different views, he said.Asked if it was fair for writers to return their awards on the issue of “intolerance”, the Dalai Lama said, “I do not know the details, but there are some individuals – they have some reasons and resented. They also enjoy freedom. Whether that is right or wrong, we have to study very very carefully.”

Is it so bad? Survey says India is second most ignorant nation of the world!

The survey conducted by Ipsos MORI, a London-based market research firm, polled 25,000 people from 33 countries and found that while people “over-estimate what we worry about”, a lot of major issues are underestimated

India-population

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India has the “dubious honour” of being the second most ignorant nation in the world after Mexico, according to a survey which posed questions on issues like inequality, non-religious population, female employment and internet access.The survey conducted by Ipsos MORI, a London-based market research firm, polled 25,000 people from 33 countries and found that while people “over-estimate what we worry about”, a lot of major issues are underestimated. “Mexico and India receive the dubious honour of being the most inaccurate in their perceptions on these issues, while South Koreans are the most accurate, followed by the Irish,” the survey said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The rankings of the nations were based on the “Index of Ignorance” which was determined by questions about wealth that the top one per cent own, obesity, non-religious population, immigration, living with parents, female employment, rural living and internet access. Most Indians “underestimate” how much of their country’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of the top 1 per cent, the survey said, adding that the top 1 per cent actually own an “incredible” 70 per cent of all wealth.The survey also found that most Indians “hugely overestimate” the proportions of non-religious people in the country to be 33 per cent when the true figure is under 1 per cent. While Israel significantly underestimates the proportion of female employment (by 29 percentage points), people in countries like India, Mexico, South Africa and Chile all think of more women in work than really are, it said.India fell in the list of nations which overestimate representation by women in politics.Countries like Columbia, Russia, India and Brazil all think there is better female representation than there really is, the survey said. However, the Indian population seriously underestimates the rural population of the country and thinks more people have internet access than in reality. In India the average guess among online respondents for internet access is 60 per cent – an overestimation of the true picture of 41 percentage points, the survey added.

No tug of war between court and government over cleaning of Ganga: CJI Thakur

Justice Thakur’s fresh comments assume significance as, during the hearings on a 1984 PIL on cleaning of Ganga, he had observed that the river would not be restored to its pristine glory even in 200 years.

Justice TS Thakur

Chief Justice TS Thakur on Sunday dispelled impressions about his hard-hitting remarks during the judicial proceedings on the government’s ambitious Clean Ganga project, saying the judicial process was “not an impediment” and “intervention” was needed for its honest implementation.”There is no adversarial element in it. Ganga ki safai ko lekar court aur sarkar ke beech koi kheenchtan nahi hai (There is no tug of war between the court and the government over the cleaning of Ganga),” the Chief Justice said in an interaction with mediapersons here. “We will intervene. Judicial process is not an impediment, it can be helpful,” he said, adding that cleaning of the river was an “ambitious plan”, but “it has to be seen how honestly the project is implemented.” Justice Thakur’s fresh comments assume significance as, during the hearings on a 1984 PIL on cleaning of Ganga, he had observed that the river would not be restored to its pristine glory even in 200 years.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Emphasising people’s participation in the Rs 20,000 crore Clean Ganga project covering 50 small and big cities, Justice Thakur said there was a need for an awareness campaign and the venture, which has to implemented in various stages, cannot be completed overnight. “We all are linked to Ganga. A civilisation is linked to it and the river is linked to the civilisation of Hindustan.The river is linked to everyone, be they rich or poor. Faith is also attached to it,” he said. However, he said the condition of the river “is not right today, but it is not so that the situation cannot be rectified. The government is serious …. It has allocated Rs 20,000 crore. The government has also given a representation on the various phases of work it will carry out on this project. Cleaning of the Ganga cannot be done overnight.”The CJI pointed out that free flow of untreated industrial waste into the river was one of the major causes of pollution in it, and added that the sewage treatment plants on its banks were not working properly. “It will be a long-drawn battle to cleanse the river,” Justice Thakur said.

Intolerance debate: CJI TS Thakur says no problems until judiciary remains independent

Observing that certain rights are available even to non- citizens, including terrorists, he said they are the beneficiaries of the Rule of Law and can be tried only in conformity of law and “cannot be hanged” without due process.

India’s new CJI TS Thakur

Terming the debate on intolerance as a “political issue”, Chief Justice of India TS Thakur on Sunday said there is no need to fear or worry till the judiciary is “independent” and upholds the rule of law.”Yeh siyasi pahlu hain (this is a political issue). We have a Rule of Law. So long as Rule of Law is there, so long as there is an independent judiciary and so long as courts are upholding the rights and obligations, I do not think anyone has to fear for anything,” the CJI said in an informal interaction with journalists here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I am heading the institution which upholds the the Rule of Law and the rights of every citizens will be protected… I think, we are capable of protecting the rights of all sections of people. My institution is capable of upholding the rights of citizens. Certain rights are for the citizens and certain rights are for non-citizens also and we are capable of protecting the rights,” Justice Thakur said.He further said, “India is a big country, we should not be afraid of anything. Yeh sab perception ki baten hain. Jab tak judiciary independent hai, koi baat ki dar nahi honi chahiye (These are all matters of perception. There is nothing to fear till the judiciary is independent).” However, he refrained from commenting on the political aspects of the intolerance debate, saying “siyasi log iska kaise upyog karten hain, main kuch nahi kehna chahunga (I do not want to comment anything on how politicians use this).” “But, we are committed to uphold the Rule of Law and protect right of all citizens of the society and people from all creeds and religions. There is no fear to any section of society,” Justice Thakur said.Observing that certain rights are available even to non- citizens, including terrorists, he said they are the beneficiaries of the Rule of Law and can be tried only in conformity of law and “cannot be hanged” without due process. “In so far as we are concerned, we have no such impediments. We have no such bias and we have no such reluctance. We can protect the rights of all citizens,” he said while specifically answering questions on the recent trends and the issue of intolerance.Making it clear that he was not referring to any particular incident, the CJI said this country has been home to all religions and even those who were persecuted in other countries have “thrived” here.

Chennai floods: Services pick up pace, Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh undertakes survey

In a big relief to the hapless residents, supply of milk and vegetables picked up pace today but there were complaints of scarcity in several places coupled with high prices for essentials.

At least 245 people have died in rain-related incidents since October one. (PTI)

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Flood-ravaged Chennai and its suburbs enjoyed further respite from rains on Saturday but residents battled scarcity of commodities and high prices while communication services and train services were partially restored. But air services, suspended till tomorrow, may take two or three more days to resume. Only technical flights and ferry services were operated today. However, intermittent rains and an overcast sky have left people worried. The Regional Meteorological Centre has forecast light rains in the next 24 hours for the city and suburbs.Director, Area Cyclone Warning Centre, S R Ramanan told reporters that heavy rains were possible in the coastal and southern districts of the state. He has advised fishermen of southern coastal districts against venturing into sea for fishing. At least 245 people have died in rain-related incidents since October one. The worst-hit city and suburbs and Kanchipuram and Tiruvallur districts took a pounding on Tuesday when a large number of areas were flooded. The deluge destroyed crucial road and rail links, shutdown the airport, snapped power and telecom lines and left lakhs of people stranded.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a big relief to the hapless residents, supply of milk and vegetables picked up pace today but there were complaints of scarcity in several places coupled with high prices for essentials.Mobile phone and internet services were getting restored in a staggered manner in several parts of the city.Bringing cheers to stranded passengers, Southern Railway announced resumption of services to several inter-State destinations including Bengaluru and Mysore from here effective tomorrow. Also, local train services here resumed today between Egmore-Tambaram.

PM Modi announces ex-gratia relief for TN floods victims, normalcy returning

Chennai did not experience heavy rainfall since Friday, and the flood waters are receding.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs. 2 lakhs each from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund for the next of kin of those who lost their lives in the floods dues to heavy rains in Tamil Nadu. However, an ex-gratia relief of Rs. 50,000 has also been sanctioned from for those who were seriously injured in the floods.Meanwhile, Chennai did not experience heavy rainfall since Friday, and the flood waters are receding, while armed forces and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams have rescued more than 28,000 people so far. As the need for rescue has come down, 50 NDRF teams and 13 army columns deployed there are now pressed more into relief services rather than rescue operations. The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) met on Saturday under the Chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary Pradeep Kumar Sinha to review the flood situation in Tamil Nadu, where the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) suggested that the state government should take steps to mark the HFL (High Flood Level) in all places to enable preparation of a future Mitigation and Preparedness plan.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Road connectivity to various places has been restored, while city bus service has become functional and power supply to more than 90% of the city has been restored, too. The railways continue to operate special intra-city and outstation services, whereas normal service is expected to begin from Monday. The work of restoration of the Chennai airport is on and it is expected to be completed in a day or two. Meanwhile, the operation of civilian flights from Arakonam Naval Air Base is continued. However, four ferry flights parked at the Chennai airport departed for Delhi, Mumbai and Port Blair on Saturday, while one Cargo flight Singcargo B747 departed for Singapore via Bangalore. In addition to this, four more flights took off from Chennai up to 5pm.Seven truck loads of dry ready-to-eat food provided by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries have already reached Chennai, while 20 are on the way. The railways supplied 2 lakh bottles of drinking water and 2 lakh more will be provided. Three naval ships carrying relief materials also have reached Tamil Nadu as well. A massive cleaning operation is being undertaken to prevent epidemics and spread of diseases. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare will send a high-level team to assess the situation in Tamil Nadu and to provide help. It was agreed that Post-Flood dos and don’ts prepared by NDMA would be widely publicised to educate people.

Chennai rains: Army Chief General Dalbir Singh conducts recce of flood-hit TN; relief operation in full swing

With the water receding, the Chennai airport is expected to be operational for regular air services from Saturday.

As intermittent spells of rain continued to lash coastal Tamil Nadu, Army Chief General Dalbir Singh on Friday conducted an aerial recce of the affected regions of Chennai and its adjoining districts to strategise further rescue and relief measures. Though water has begun to recede from many submerged areas, many more still remain flooded, necessitating the rescue teams to continue to work on a war footing. Two Naval vessels INS Shakti and INS Shyadhri arrived Chennai on Friday with relief materials, while limited air services were offered from the naval airbase at INS Rajali at Arakkonam, some 85 km west of Chennai. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the water receding, the Chennai airport is expected to be operational for regular air services from Saturday. Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Culture and Tourism and Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma on Friday said staffs would be deployed at the Chennai airport and if there was no further rain on Saturday, the airport would be made operational. “We have requested all airlines to maintain a price cap in this time of crisis to which they have given a positive response,” he added Chairman of the Airport Authority of India RK Srivastava, meanwhile, told ANI, “The situation is under control and the water has receded from the airfield side. We have made it operational and from tomorrow it will start working. We have allowed operation for the ferry, technical and relief purpose.” The southern railway, meanwhile, resumed limited operations from Chennai’s Egmore station on Friday with five special trains leaving for Kanyakumari, Sengottai, Tuticorin, Madurai and Tanjore. The railway authorities have also announced special trains from Chennai Beach station to Hyderabad, Tirunelveli and Rameswaram. Similarly, a special train will be operated to Mangalore from Arakkonam railway station. Road transportation has improved slightly in the city, with many closed down bridges and routes opening up. However, several subways are still submerged, forcing people to take circuitous routes to reach other areas. Most of the petrol and diesel outlets in Chennai are not functional though Indian Oil sources said there is no shortage of fuel and the problem is only due to power failure.The outflow of water from the Chembarampakkam reservoir and Poondi Lake in Tiruvallur district, which caused inundation in many South Chennai areas, is kept to the same level. It is reported that as many as 18 patients died of short supply of oxygen due to snapping of electricity and failure of power generators at Madras Institute of Orthopaedics and Traumatology (MIOT) hospital in Chennai. Tamil Nadu Health Secretary Radhakrishnan told mediapersons that the government has been assisting all private hospitals that sought help in shifting patients to other locations and the hospital and generators would be arranged if help was sought. However, 14 bodies were brought to Royapettah Government Hospital here.Fishing activity came to a standstill as the sea is very rough in the delta district of Nagapattinam. The district administration has announced that all educational institutions will remain closed on Saturday. Farmers expressed fear that around 75 thousand acre paddy fields were facing the danger of submerging if rain continued unabated for a few more days.

Mizoram govt asks VIPs to postpone visits due to Christmas, New Year celebrations

The reason? Christmas and New Year! Mizoram is one of the few states in India where Christians are in a majority.

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The Mizoram government has advised all VIPs, officials and dignitaries planning to visit the state between December 14 and January 8 to defer their visits, according to an English news daily.The reason? Christmas and New Year! Mizoram is one of the few states in India where Christians are in a majority.In a recent communication addressed to all secretaries to the Government of India; chief secretaries of all states and Union territories; ADCs to all state governors; registrar of the Supreme Court and high courts of all states; secretary (protocol) of all states/UTs; secretary, Lok Sabha; secretary, Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes Commission; Secretary, Election Commission of India; secretary, Other Backward Classes Commission; secretary, Niti Aayog; and secretary, UPSC, the Mizoram chief secretary suggested that all official visits by VIPs to the state between December 14 and January 8 be postponed. It said that the government will be ‘unable to provide hospitality’ during this period.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As in the past, this year too Mizoram will be celebrating Christmas and New Year festivals…therefore all VIPs/dignitaries/officials are requested to defer their programme to visit Mizoram during the period from December 14, 2015, to January 8, 2016, to avoid any inconvenience as government will not be able to provide them state hospitality,” states the letter.Mizoram celebrates Christmas and New Year with much fanfare. However, the decision is likely to raise hackles given its apparently communal nature.

Delhi cabinet approves two changes in new Jan Lokpal Bill

Following backlash from expelled AAP leaders Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav and the opposition in Delhi assembly over a ‘diluted’ anti-corruption legislation, the Delhi cabinet on Thursday approved two amendments to its new Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill, 2015. According to AAP legislators, the amendments are in line with those proposed by veteran social activist Anna Hazare. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had also asserted he will ‘surely’ implement Anna’s suggestions. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The amendments deal with the selection and removal of the Lokpal. While the ‘diluted’form of the bill suggested just four members in the Lokpal selection committee, with Delhi CM, the assembly speaker, leader of opposition in the assembly and the chief justice of Delhi high court, the amended bill says there would be three additional members. The new members will include another judge from Delhi high court, any eminent personality selected the rest of the committee members and the Lokpal chairman from the next term. For removal of Lokpal, there would be a high court enquiry first before referring the matter to the Delhi assembly, where two-thirds of the Delhi assembly can vote to remove the Lokpal. However, in the 2011 bill, a Lokpal could be removed only after being found guilty of wrongdoing by courts and a presidential clearance. However, the rest of the provisions of the bill have been kept unchanged. It is likely to be tabled in the house on Friday.AAP leaders Kumar Vishwas and Sanjay Singh met Anna at Ralegan Siddhi on Tuesday, who had suggested the amendments. On Thursday, Bhushan also met Anna, following which he tweeted, Met Anna:He says 2015 Lokpal bill has many defects:Needs to be identical to 2014 bill;Ask Ak to bring that. Will agitate if Centre obstructs.”The Bill has to be cleared by the Lieutenant Governor and the Centre before it becomes a law.

Chennai floods due to global warming: Expert

The current state of Chennai, the floods in Uttarakhand, Kashmir, the heat waves in Telangana, are all such events caused by these changes, explained Dholakia.

Looking at how to deal with the fallout of climate change in India, at the damage done and the changes already underway, a new report estimates that the country will need $1 trillion from now till 2030, to adapt to these adverse effects. The study carried out and released by IIM Ahmedabad, IIT Gandhinagar and Council on Energy, Environment and Water, also sees how 800 million people in India, across 450 districts out of the 636 in the country, are living through a temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius.Using high-resolution data from climate models that are specifically about India, the kind used by NASA, as Dr Hem Dholakia from CEEW told dna, the study closed in on the kinds of adverse effects different parts of India will be facing. Using current government expenditure on development and relief projects, it projected what the expenditure in adaptation — to enable people to deal with such changes — and in loss and damages — in cases of extreme, unpreventable events — will be.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Thought the global target is to limit the temperature rise to 2 degree Celsius by 2100, as the study pointed out, such changes are already happening in India along with shifting rainfall patterns, another marker of climate change.”We’re facing a deadly combinations of temperature rise, reduced rainfall and erratic monsoons in certain areas, with a threat of drought,” said Dholakia, the co-author of the study. This will mostly occur in central and north eastern parts of the country. Other areas, such as the coasts, will see “extreme precipitation events”, giving rise to floods.”The current state of Chennai, the floods in Uttarakhand, Kashmir, the heat waves in Telangana, are all such events caused by these changes,” explained Dholakia.This will affect farmers, fishermen and all those who live off the coast. “The night time temperatures are also set to rise by 1-1.5 degrees Celsius, which will lead to crop failures,” said Dholakia.He added that the money India needs to spend and the efforts it needs to make for development will be put under acute strain because of climate change. “The climate change negotiations for the past 20 years have been about reducing carbon emissions,” he said, “but what about what’s already happening. Already we’re losing $5-6 billion annually due to loss and damage.” This is what gave rise to the study, which the CEEW reckons is the first of its kind in India, looking at the cost of adaptation and the loss and damage, and the gap in between. If we continue on our current path, with the temperature increase, we will rack up a cost of a trillion. However, the finance is also policy dependent, as Dholakia admits, and such decisions could either bring this number up or down. Globally countries have to work towards the 2 degrees limit. India could also invest in adaptation measures, such as early warning systems for example, to reduce loss and damage.”There is still a knowledge gap in the country, as there isn’t enough data available on what technological measures work and what don’t,” he added, which hobbles these efforts.

#ChennaiRainsHelp: How cab, telecom, and local businesses are joining in

As Chennai continues to recieve unprecedented rainfall, the maximum for over a 100 years, public services have been hit beyond repair. And while the government authorities pool in their best resources to salvage the situtation, several private businesses such as Ola, Uber, Zoomcar, Airtel, Paytm and many local business have begun chipping in to aid rescue operations as well.

A car floats in the flood waters that have engulfed several low lying areas of Chennai

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As Chennai braces itself for another 48 hours of incessant rain the situation is far from being under control. With flood waters reaching as high as the first storeys of several houses in low lying areas of the city to houses along the river being swept by the current rescue operations are in full swing. The Indian Army and Navy, city authorities and local volunteers have rescued, provided food, clothing and shelter to hundreds however thousands remain stranded across the city. However, companies and local businesses are coming forward to offer their services to those in need for free and doing their bit to bring relief to as many as possible.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Telecom giant Airtel has extended a helping hand by providing free voice minutes credit and free Internet.Paytm , online payment and shopping portal is letting individuals put credit in accounts of their loved ones. Auto rental company Zoomcar is deploying its vehicles to help people reach a safe location.Along with Ola boats that rescued several in last week’s flooding in Chennai, Ola is working with the fire department to aid rescue operations in the city.Uber too has joined in by providing free rides for those looking to reach a place of safety.AGS and Sathyam Cinemas are offering night stay for stranded people. AGS located in OMR and Villivakam. Sathyam by Thousand Lights Mosque, Royapettah.Prasar Bharati and All India Radio’s twitter handles provided a list of help-line numbersZomato tweeted that they would provide a meal for every meal you buy.Actor Siddharth has taken active lead in organising food packets and making sure they reach those stranded or left homeless because of the floods.Old Madras Baking Company has offered free food and water in all its stores in Chennai.If you’re stranded in the rains without food and water, please step into any of our stores in your vicinity, and stay…
Posted by Old Madras Baking Company on Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Proof of patriotism not prerequisite to making statements: Shah Rukh on intolerance and Aamir Khan

Shah Rukh Khan weighed in on the debate surrounding rising incidents of intolerance in India and fellow actor Aamir Khan’s recent statement on the issue. Speaking to CNN-IBN, Shah Rukh said, “You don’t have to prove your patriotism in any other way, except for thinking good for the country and doing good. You have to work for the benefit of the country. If I work for the country in the most kindest way in what I am good at, my country is going to benefit from that. But if I am corrupt, and regional about it, I will be harming my country.”

This was Shah Rukh’s first reaction to Aamir’s statement where he had said that he was “alarmed” by a number of incidents and his wife Kiran Rao even suggested that they should probably leave the country.

AFP image.AFP image.

AFP image.

At a time when social media reach is baffling and almost unaccountable for, users chip in with quick and easy judgment. Shah Rukh echoed the concern and said that nothing less can be expected from such a medium. “Twitter and social media is about free voice, people do take very radical steps, they get abusive. Even a generic statement can be turned into radical statements by people,” he said.

Shah Rukh added that social media should not be taken very seriously and a few things need to be ignored.

“I have never been disappointed. It is not a medium to have a deep conversation,” said Shah Rukh with a smile, “Since people take a very radical stand sometimes and start jumping the gun and at the end when you dont know what to say, you resort to teri **ki, etc.”

Adding that just because an actor has been in the industry for 25 years, he does not have to speak on all issues, the actor said, “You realise even a generic, logical thing can be turned around into a radical statement. I think I should only speak on matters to do with my work.”

Speaking at the Ramnath Goenka Awards event last week, Aamir had said, “When I chat with Kiran at home, she says ‘Should we move out of India?’ That’s a disastrous and big statement for Kiran to make. She fears for her child. She fears about what the atmosphere around us will be. She feels scared to open the newspapers every day. That does indicate that there is this sense of growing disquiet, there is growing despondency apart from alarm. You feel why this is happening, you feel low. That sense does exist in me.”

However, after two days, the actor clarified that neither he nor his wife Kiran, have any intention of leaving the country as he is proud to be an Indian, and stand by everything that he said in the interview.

With inputs from agencies

Alcohol isn’t the problem, abuse is: That’s why Nitish’s rationale for a Bihar booze ban is flawed

Nitish Kumar said on Thursday that the state of Bihar will implement a ban on alcohol. The state earns a revenue of Rs 4,000 crore annually from the sale of liquor. However, the CM has said that in the interest of women and the poor, the state government will impose ban on liquor from 1 April, 2016.

In India, alcohol consumption is prohibited in Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Gujarat and the union territory of Lakshadweep. According to the BBC, the state of Kerala announced in 2014 that it plans to impose a state-wide prohibition on the sale of alcohol in the next ten years. Immediately following the plans to ban alcohol in Kerala, bar owners and hotel owners petitioned the order and it was finally diluted to allow bars to sell beer and wine.

Representative image. AFP.Representative image. AFP.

Representative image. AFP.

The State (India) has always had a problem with alcohol; this is partly due to MK Gandhi’s vociferous stance against the consumption of alcohol, which he made amply clear in his autobiography. Kushwant Singh wrote in his book, India: An introduction that Gandhi considered alcohol to be “an unmitigated evil”. After independence, the Government of India adopted his views into the Directive Principles of State Policy, though not enforceable as law, are often the guiding principles behind the laws. Article 47 states that the “State shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of the use except for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health.”

In the past, Andhra Pradesh tried to enforce Prohibition between 1958 to 1969 and then from 1994 to 1997, but the grand project was abandoned primarily because of bootlegging and excessive corruption. Gujarat has been a ‘dry state’, but according to Nalin Mehta and Mona G Mehta in the 2013 book, Gujarat Beyond Gandhi: Identity, Society and Conflict  there is significant trade, production and consumption of alcohol in the state and refer to the existence of “illicit alcohol” that is not subject to quality control. So, essentially a ban is clearly not the solution as the Mehta’s note in their research, where a health official they interviewed said that alcohol abuse contributes to 50 percent of liver failure cases in the state.

One of the major reasons cited by political parties is that they want to impose alcohol bans for the benefit of women and that it would help bring down the domestic violence incidences. It is true that one of the first ‘collective women struggles’, the Telangana and Tebagha rebellions where women joined in to raise their voices against alcohol and price rise. In Manipur, the ‘Meira Paibis’ rallied on to put an end to the sale and consumption of alcohol, the objective? According to an Economic and Political Weekly article, it was to “curb social evils like domestic violence resulting from alcoholism”. This ‘woman argument’ is not just specific to India, Carrie Nation in the US ‘hatcheted’ bars and led the movement to ban alcohol in Texas in the early 1900s.

Well, this is great for women, they are being saved from domestic violence, you might think. But, that is an easy train of thought to catch. Such arguments only understand women’s roles as mothers, daughters and someone related to a male member i.e. the much hated/abused word in the feminist movement: patriarchy. This argument also seeks to colour the problem of domestic violence as something ‘external’. So essentially, it is the alcohol which is making men abuse their wives and daughters. Doesn’t this argument sound familiar? It’s not the rapist, it is the clothes.

Mangai, a theatre practitioner and women’s activist brings out an important point that these bans ultimately don’t tackle with the real problem at hand: which is not consumption of alcohol, but alcoholism. “The state is not addressing the issue of substance abuse or how the younger generation is getting affected by it. There needs to be a demarkation between the consumption of alcohol and alcoholism that leads to the women of the household bearing the brunt of the situation,” she says. Perhaps, the State should work on awareness-oriented solutions than banning a product and therefore opening itself up to a host of other problems: corruption, boot-legging, illicit-alcohol related deaths.

Currently, what we have is a conflict between the increasingly economically liberal economy of the country that is still straddling with the vestiges of Gandhian principles. But the alcohol industry is a tough revenue to do away with. The Tamil Nadu government estimates liquor earnings at Rs 21,800 crore, Kerala yields Rs 8,000 crore and West Bengal’s revenue is Rs 2,600 crore.

Reasons for the bans could be many, but essentially bans on alcohol come from a place of imposing certain values on the society that a particular group deems fit. However, it is important to note that alcohol is not the problem, its abuse is. Even in our rich history, as Mangai says, there was no morality attached to the consumption of “kall” (toddy), men and women, both, consumed it without accruing social judgement upon themselves. Sangam literature has enough poetry to justify its use without the claustrophobic clauses of morality.

The questions that we need to ask are how can we solve the problem of alcoholism and how do we differentiate between social/casual/occasional drinking and abusing a substance. How can we regulate a product without creating a ready-made platter of corruption and illegal trade for the taking?

HRD Ministry implements only one of seven suggestions by PMO

The human resource development ministry (HRD) has acted on only one of the seven “most immediate” suggestions to strengthen the education system sent by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office almost a year-and-half ago, officials admit. While the Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan (National Discovery Campaign, RAA) was started in July, in response to the recommendation that science and mathematics be popularised at the school level, the ministry has backed off on all the other suggestions, including providing buttermilk to students, for one reason or another.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had on June 9 last year sent its seven-point agenda to the Smriti Irani-led ministry. The letter marked “most immediate”, it is learnt, directed the ministry to explore the feasibility of ideas suggested by the prime minister and suggested ways to expand and strengthen already existing schemes. Eighteen months on, however, the HRD ministry has managed to meet only one of the seven targets. Under the RAA scheme, emerging from Modi’s suggestion that information, education and communication (IEC) be promoted to inculcate the scientific temperament, every government school will be linked with an IIT, IIM, NIT or some other school of excellence located in their states, an official said. “We have launched this campaign in which our schools are linked up with higher education institutions. These technology and management institutions mentor these schools. It is an effort to bring teaching science out of the classrooms,” he added. For the rest, the ministry has either expressed its helplessness or has passed the responsibility to other ministries. The PMO had asked the ministry to start providing buttermilk to students under the midday meal (MDM) scheme. “Buttermilk to be distributed to all schools in MDM to cure amoebiasis and improve iron.” However, the ministry said it could not do so. Updating the PMO through the eSamikSha portal, it said, “It is calculated that to provide buttermilk to 10.56 crore students under MDM scheme, we would need an additional budget of Rs.2,500 crore.” It proposed that states could serve buttermilk under the schemethrough their own resources. The proposal to engage railway kitchens for cooking the midday meal and rope in charitable trusts and institutions running community kitchens also did not get a positive response. The MDM budget in this fiscal year was cut from Rs.11,000 crore to Rs.9,000 crore. “We have already updated the PMO on these issues,” said an official. The prime minister had suggested that the ministry work on the model of NGO Maa Foundation in Valsad, Gujarat, to engage volunteer teachers from NGOs and the social sector to provide after school support to students who can’t cope in the classroom. However, ministry officials said the Right to Education (RTE) act does not permit teaching to be a voluntary activity. “Even volunteer teachers have to be trained as per RTE prescribed guidelines. For the ministry to roll out the scheme, we have to formulate guidelines and processes under the ambit of RTE and it should be able to cater to the needs of the whole country,” said a senior official from the school education department. The ministry also informed the PMO that it was evaluating the process forcreating an online data bank of teachers willing to offer voluntary services. The proposal to set up separate model schools for girls and boys up to class 12 level in every tehsil was also put off for lack of funds. It had been suggested that these schools have a hostel so that meritorious students could be provided after school support. The model schools scheme was announced by the UPA government in 2008. Some 1,200 schools had been made functional and 2,400 schools had got ministry approval to start operations. “The PM had suggested expansion of these schools and setting up hostels. These were not a part of the existing policy,” explained an officer. In August last year, Irani directed the ministry to review the scheme altogether. In the current financial year, the model school budget was given to the states. “Even before we could complete our review, the scheme was handed over to the states. There are no model school funds with the HRD ministry,” added the officer. The suggestion to set up skill development institutions on the lines of Gujarat government’s Kaushalya Vardhan Kendra (KVK), awarded the prime minister’s award for excellence in public administration in 2011, was politely turned down on grounds that it had to be dealt with the ministry of skill development. A year and a half later, the ministry is also undecided on Modi’s vision to rope in college students as part time volunteers to promote IEC activities and in areas of traffic management.

Indian Army Chief’s visit ‘matter of concern’, says PMK chief Ramadoss

Chennai: A day after Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag left for Sri Lanka to review bilateral defence ties, PMK chief Ramadoss on Monday said the visit was a “matter of concern” and wanted the Centre to declare a policy that it would never provide arms and military aid to the island nation.

On Sunday, the Army Chief embarked on a four-day visit to Sri Lanka during which he would review the bilateral defence ties and discuss new avenues of cooperation.

Referring to the visit, Ramadoss said there was “nothing wrong” in the army chief of a country travelling to another country to deliberate military cooperation.

PTIPTI

PTI

“However, the country of his travel (Sri Lanka) and the intention of his visit is a matter of concern,” he said.

He claimed that the main reason for Suhag’s travel was to “give Lanka new war planes, arms, tanks and anti-aircraft weapons system.”

“There is no doubt that such weaponry would be only used to annihilate Tamils. Thousands of reasons can be listed to deny supply of weaponry to Sri Lanka,” he alleged.

Hence, Ramadoss said the central government should give up the “decision to give Sri Lanka weaponry and also declare that it would never give arms and military aid to that country as its policy.”

An official statement had yesterday said among the countries of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), Sri Lanka was the “most important partner and one of our most important neighbours.”

PTI

Watch: Video shows family thrown out of theatre for not standing for national anthem

A video purportedly showing a family being asked to leave the theatre for not standing during national anthem has gone viral on social media.

Image: Video grab

A video purportedly showing a family being asked to leave the theatre for not standing during national anthem has gone viral on social media.The updated video, posted on Facebook, has been shared over 2,500 times and shows that people present in the theatre asked a family to leave because they were sitting while the national anthem was being played. The 2.40 minute video clip shows audience creating ruckus, while a few people questioning the family as to why they could not stand for the national anthem when they can sit for four hours to watch the movie. However, after some time the family was forced to leave the cinema hall and the audience celebrated with a round of applause.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Though, we independently cannot verify the authenticity of the location, according to some reports, the incident took place during a show of the movie Tamasha at a PVR in Kurla in Mumbai, while some reports suggest that the incident took place at a PVR in Bengaluru. Watch the video here:

Media persons jostle for selfies with PM, again

Modi obliged almost all those who made their way through the crowd around him to click a photographs, have a word with him or shake hands. However, like last time, he refrained from answering questions.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi poses for a selfie with reporters during ‘Diwali Mangal Milan’ at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi on Saturday

PTI
Around a year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first interaction with the media at the BJP headquarters, not much seemed to have changed. Minutes after he made a brief address and got off the dais to interact with his guests, there was jostling for selfies.Modi obliged almost all those who made their way through the crowd around him to click a photographs, have a word with him or shake hands. However, like last time, he refrained from answering questions.Notwithstanding whatever criticism may have been in the media over recent days, his charisma appeared intact at the “Diwali Milan” lunch hosted for journalists on Saturday. The Prime Minister’s security staff had a difficult time handling the crowds scrambling to get near him for selfies on mobile phones.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi’s interaction with the media came on a relaxed afternoon, a day after two hectic days in Parliament, when he attended a debate on the Constitution and BR Ambedkar.On a foggy but pleasant Saturday afternoon, Modi, wearing a white kurta-pyjama and beige shawl arrived at 11, Ashoka Road. In a rare gesture, the office staff was among the party leaders who greeted Modi with bouquets.In his brief address from the dais, he spoke of the importance of festivals in the country and how they symbolised unity and equality. He said that the ‘Diwali Milan’ got postponed because he was busy and added jokingly that if it was delayed further “we would have to wait till Christmas.”He said festivals gave direction and strength to Indian society. “I can’t imagine the number of stories that can be churned if we analyse the social and economic impact of our festivals in our society. If you take the Kumbh Mela for example, a small Europe comes and assembles by the Ganga every day going by the numbers.”Our ancestors gave meaning and strength to festivals in a way that there is no discrimination in them,” he said.Before that, party president Amit Shah referred to the debate in Parliament and said the “parliament unanimously has given a new height to the Constitution.”Besides Shah, finance minister Arun Jaitley, parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu and transport minister Nitin Gadkari shared dais with Modi.This was the second time since he took over as Prime Minister that Modi met media persons at a ‘Diwali Milan’ programme at the party headquarters.

Supreme Court must reconsider judgement on gay sex: FM Arun Jaitley

Jaitley also said that he supported the Delhi High Court ruling that decriminalised homosexuality. “I am for decriminalising gay sex,” he said to NDTV.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday was reported to have said that the Supreme Court judgement against gay sex was not in accordance with evolving legal jurisprudence. He also said that “judgement on gay sex should be reconsidered” by the Supreme Court, as per IANS report. Jaitley also said that while there was no discussion within the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the issue, he supported the Delhi High Court ruling that decriminalised homosexuality. “I am for decriminalising gay sex,” he said to NDTV. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As per IANS report, he also said that the judicial system in the country was weak and was overpowered the government. However, there were many landmark judgements which resisted government’s authority.With agency inputs

Residences of PM, Home Minister under threat of ‘aerial strikes’ from ISIS

The areas under threat, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs, include the Prime Minister’s house, the residences of Home Minister and Vice President, Rashtrapati Bhavan, Rajpath, India Gate

New Delhi is under a serious threat of aerial strikes from different terror outfits including the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Ministry of Home Affairs said. The report said that security agencies have taken necessary steps to foil any such attacks and have prepared a list of 15 key areas in the Indian capital that they fear might be targeted. The areas under threat, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs, include the Prime Minister’s house, the residences of Home Minister and Vice President, Rashtrapati Bhavan, Rajpath, India Gate and the CGO Complex that houses the headquarters of key agencies such as the CBI, CISF and BSF.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Various objects like unmanned air system (UAS), drones, and paramotors could be used to launch these attacks, the ministry said.The security agencies have been instructed to shoot down any unidentified or suspicious flying object once it is declared ‘non-friendly’ by the India Air Force (IAF). “Delhi is the most sensitive metro in India. It has been facing threats from various outfits. But aerial attack threats are now the main focus. Security and intelligence agencies have given reports about such attacks in Delhi. The government is coming out with a plan to counter the threat,” a top government official was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying.Last month, a suspected drone had been noticed at the airport in Delhi. However, security agencies are still unable to demystify the incident.

Indrani Mukerjea was dead against Sheena-Rahul affair: witness to CBI

. Indrani is accused of murdering her daughter Sheena (whom she introduced to others as her ‘sister’) in April 2012.

Indrani Mukerjea, the prime accused in the Sheena Bora murder case, had allegedly told a friend that Sheena’s relationship with Rahul, her husband’s son from earlier marriage, was “not permissible at any cost”. “Indrani had told me that her sister Sheena Bora is dating with Peter’s son Rahul, so she was worried about their relationship as the same is not permissible at any cost,” Abhijit Shen, Indrani’s friend, said in a statement to CBI. Indrani is accused of murdering her daughter Sheena (whom she introduced to others as her ‘sister’) in April 2012.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sen, a West Bengal-based businessman, stated that he met Indrani in 1998-99 for the first time. “Our friendship gradually developed which resulted in a physical relationship,” he claimed. Apart from him, she was also in a relationship with four others including two IPS officials, Sen alleged. Indrani’s former husband (a co-accused) Sanjeev Khanna was a liquor addict and he sometimes assaulted her, hence Indrani wanted to leave him, Sen said.After meeting media professional Peter Mukerjea (also arrested in the Sheena case), she started living in with him before marrying him in 2002, Sen said. Indrani had asked Sen to invest money in their TV channel, he claimed.Ajay Rawala, Khanna’s friend, has told the agency that Indrani would not allow Khanna to meet his daughter Vidhie after the two divorced. However, in 2014 Vidhie visited him on the occasion of 75th birthday of Khanna’s mother only after he (Khanna) requested Indrani.When contacted, advocate Shreyansh Mithare, Khanna’s lawyer, said though it was true that Vidhie was not allowed to meet Khanna, he would not like to comment on other issues.

Odisha University of Agriculture rusticates 5 students on ragging charges

Stating that action was being taken against the five erring students for now, the VC said charges against 10 others were being examined.

The Odisha University of Agriculture (OUAT) on Friday rusticated five students for one year on charges of ragging first year students in Department of Forestry. The action was taken as per the recommendation of the disciplinary committee of the varsity. “As per the guidelines laid out by the University Grants Commission, the five students have been rusticated from the fisheries college for one year,” OUAT Vice-Chancellor Manoranjan Kar told reporters.This apart, the committee also recommended disciplinary action against 10 other students of the university’s Forestry department where the ragging was reported. Stating that action was being taken against the five erring students for now, the VC said charges against 10 others were being examined.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We are examining the evidence against the others as once the orders are issued it would have ramifications if there are certain discrepancies. We will give the accused students a chance to defend themselves and have called them tomorrow to present their case,” the VC said. The expelled students include undergraduates of second, third and fourth year and few post-graduates. The move followed the complaint of 10-12 junior students of Forestry department of ragging by senior students on Tuesday. They even gheraoed the Office of Dean demanding action and lodged an FIR at Khandagiri police station.In their FIR to the police, some of the boarders of Pathani Samanta Hostel of the university alleged that they were brutally beaten up by the seniors on the night of November 19 and two of them were seriously injured in the incident. However, the university authorities and anti-ragging committee had taken no action despite repeated complaints, they alleged before the police.

India announces launch of the next phase in the global fight against polio

India’s polio programme successfully staved off the naturally-occurring ‘wild’ polioviruses with the oral polio vaccine (OPV), that too for the mandatory three years it needed to be counted as polio free.

The ministry of health and family welfare announced the next stage in its fight against polio, on Wednesday, with the launch of the Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) slated for 30 November. The shift is part of the World Health Organisation’s Global Polio Endgame strategy and the next step in India’s universal immunisation programme, as recommended by the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation.India’s polio programme successfully staved off the naturally-occurring ‘wild’ polioviruses with the oral polio vaccine (OPV), that too for the mandatory three years it needed to be counted as polio free. However, as the OPV functions by using the live, weakened form of the poliovirus, which can return to virulence. Such circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV) can become communicable, thus undoing the work of the vaccine.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The OPV has many traditional advantages, it is cheaper than the IPV, eliminates the need for syringes, and also provides longer immunity. However, the IPV, though more expensive, uses the killed forms of all three virus strains — type 1,2 and 3 — therefore has no risk of virulence.According to the data the ministry put up on social media, it protects children from all three virus strains, protecting them against paralytic poliomyelitis and “when used in combination with OPV, can quickly boost immunity against poliovirus”. “Given in addition to 3rd dose of OPV at the age of 14 weeks, IPV strengthens the immune system and provides further protection from Polio,” said the Ministry, adding that it was essential that children continue to be immunised by the OPV every time it was offered, even after administering the IPV.According to WHO data, the IPV can be administered in combination with other vaccines (e.g., diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, and haemophilus influenza).The Ministry also reached out to health workers and medical practitioners, encouraging them to inform families about the necessity of the intramuscular vaccine in addition to the oral one, and to make sure that no parent started relying only on the IPV. At this stage, it is dangerous to do away entirely with the OPV as it can be used in cases of sudden outbreaks, as the IPV cannot contain transmission.According to WHO, so far the IPV has been used successfully to eradicate polio in Scandinavia and the Netherlands. According to a report in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal, the IPV is 60 per cent to 70 per cent effective against poliovirus 1 and is 90 per cent effective against both poliovirus 2 and 3.

Maharashtra: After Pune, Aurangabad institute to teach Constitution

Encouraged by the success achieved by a Pune organisation, the Bapu-Sudha Kaldate Pratishthan in Aurangabad is also introducing a course on the Indian Constitution. The course aims at de-mystifying the Constitution and bringing forth the inherent genius in the grand work. Together, they are the only two organisations in the state that are taking awareness of the Constitution to the common man.Bapu-Sudha Kaldate Pratishthan has admitted 60 students for the course in the first batch.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On 26 November last year, when SM Joshi Socialist Foundation in Pune had started this course, they got an overwhelming response with 120 applying to join the course. However, only 80 were admitted in the first batch. There are no criteria of eligibility for the course as anyone who are interested can take it up. This is a 96-hour course involving 12 Sundays and as per the schedule students have to seat in the class for 8 hours every Sunday.”Such a course is need of the hour. Our aim is to make responsible citizens and they should know the Constitution of their own country. After starting it in Pune, we are introducing it in Aurangabad this year. Soon, we shall start this course in Mumbai too in association with Keshav Gore Smarak Trust. We are getting good response for this course. There is no affiliation with any university for this course and we are not taking any exam on it. Our focus is on students attending the course properly. We will issue a certificate after the completion of the course,” said Subhash Ware, chief functionary of the course in Pune.”Our first batch is full with 60 students. We have invited experts from the different place of the country to conduct this course. I think every citizen of this country should be aware of the Constitution,” said Vijay Shinde, course co-ordinator, Aurangabad.

Maharashtra: Unseasonal rains hit rabbi crop, Nashik farmers worried

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has warned of continued rain showers and hailstorm in parts of the district. The unseasonal rains in mid November have caused concerns for the rabbi crop.

With unseasonal rains lashing the Nashik region for the last three nights, strong concerns have been raised for the agricultural scenario in the district since grapes, onions, paddy, wheat and other crops are being affected.The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has warned of continued rain showers and hailstorm in parts of the district. The unseasonal rains in mid November have caused concerns for the rabbi crop.On Saturday, the district witnessed about 100mm of rainfall with intermittent heavy showers in the evening. On Monday, the rainfall was recorded as 239.4mm. On Saturday, Nashik Tehsil received the highest rainfall of the day with 28.9mm while on Sunday Nandgaon got 43mm of rainfall.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The climate throughout the day appeared to be normal except for the cloudy cover in the evening with increase in humidity. On Tuesday, the clouds covered the district all day long. However, it did not rain till early evening.While there were predictions for a hailstorm, thankfully, the farmers were saved from the brunt of it. However, they were hit by the unseasonal rains that kept falling throughout the night.Farmers in areas of Niphad, Pimpalgaon Baswant, Yeola where grapes and onions are the major crops, are a worried lot. Onion crop in areas of Malegaon, Manmad, Lasalgaon, Umrane, Deola, Kalwan, Niphad and Yeola have suffered damage. The paddy, nagali, varaie have suffered loss in areas of Trimbakeshwar, Igatpuri and other places.Hundreds of acres under paddy cultivation now lies flat as the standing paddy crop ready to be harvested has been hit by unseasonal rains. The rice grains that are drenched now are likely to turn black.The story is no different with onion. While onions have already been in short supply in the market due to the drought situation that led to the failure of the kharif crop, it was expected that the rabbi onion or the winter onion will ease the situation. “The onion is likely to again see the severity,” opines Suresh Bhor, farmer from Chandori.The winter or pol onion which was almost ready for harvest has come under the wrath of the unseasonal rains. The bulbs are now drenched and heavy as they are water laden and likely to rot. While those who were in process of planting for the summer onion are also affected as the saplings have not been able to withstand the blow of the showers, informs Bhor. The grapes in the region too are under the cloud of infections and spread of diseases. “Season after season the story of grapes does not seem to be changing,” opines Bhaskarrao Bankar, a grape grower from Pimpalgaon Baswant.Those who have done the cutting of the plantation around 10 to 15 September, now have berries to the plants. The unseasonal showers have hit these berries which are water-laden. This will lead to cracking and falling of the bunches. Those vineyards in the flowering stage are hit as the rains have washed off the flowering with no hopes for the fruits to form; and those vineyards which are in the pre-flowering stage are likely to catch infections like the Downy that eats up the plants, states Bankar.”Infections and diseases are likely to spread in such wet, cloudy weather. The crops have not seen the sun for two three days and this will result in decay of the berries and leaves. Farmers are awake all night to remove the water from the plants, leaves and berries thereby trying to save them from decay. But it’s not easy: labour is not available at night, and if at all it comes, it’s comes at a very high price. I myself have converted last two nights into days and am desperately trying to save my grapes,” he said.Bankar states that it is a very trying situation. “Every time we face damage due to nature, we build new hopes for a new season and try and stand up. But such beating time and again has affected our morale. Solutions like shed net, or new paper cover technology or plastic cover are expensive and we only hope that we get support from the government in the form of subsidy for these sheds,” added Bankar.

Sholapur: When 151 couples from different religions got married in a common ceremony

The grand affair, conducted by Lokmangal Foundation helped 151 couples get married.

151 couples walking towards the wedding area while thousands gather to witness the ceremony

In a unique wedding ceremony, 151 couples from Sholapur district were married in a mass wedding organised by Lokmanya organisation on Sunday. The two fold agenda of this a wedding was to promote equality by keeping it open to all religions and help the debt-ridden poor strata of society.This a great move, especially considering the debate around rising wave of intolerance. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>AT A GLANCEThe procession of couples was organised in 160 auto rickshaws and their various wedding needs were met too such as wedding wardrobe, mangalsutra, utensils, bags, etc.
However, the prime attractions of the whole set up were drones and CC cameras that were used to ensure that the ten screens which were put across the city could cover the wedding live. The grand affair, under the guidance of founder chairman Subhash Deshmukh, the sitting MP of South Solapur, was graced by cine artist Sayaji Shinde, Ujwal Nikam and other leading politicians, counsellors, industrialists, professionals and social workers of the area. ​Apart from the mass weddings, a blood donation camp as well as an exhibition titled “Atulya Solapur” on the lines of the approval of smart city project for Solapur was held too. Around 2500 volunteers and 70 committees were involved to make this event a success.

Park Street rape case: Court to announce verdict on December 10

The 37-year-old, Jordan was allegedly gangraped by five men in a moving car on Park Street on February 6, 2012.

Suzette Jordan

The city sessions court, Kolkata will announce verdict in the controversial Park Street rape case on December 10. However, the rape victim, Suzette Jordan will not be able to see justice delivered to her. The 37-year-old, Jordan was allegedly gangraped by five men in a moving car on Park Street on February 6, 2012. This announcement of the verdict by the court, comes almost three years after the incident took place. While the three accused, Nasir Khan, Ruman Khan and Sumit Bajaj are behind bars, two prime accused including Kadir Khan, are still at large. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As many as 28 people, including the investigating officers and witnesses have deposed before the court. The court will conclude trial and announce the verdict on December 10 and, thereafter announce the quantum of punishment. In January, this year, the Calcutta High Court had directed the city sessions court to conclude trial within three months. However, it took another year to conclude the trial in this case. The rape case took a controversial turn,w hen the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee termed the rape as a ” sajano ghotona (fabricated incident)” even before an inquiry was initiated.But, the then Joint Commissioner of Kolkata Police (Crime) Damayanti Sen, who spearheaded the investigations in the rape case, had maintained that the complainant was indeed raped. Sen’s stand led her to be shunted out as the detective department’s chief and was asked to take over as the (DIG) at the Police Training School, considered to be a relatively low-profile posting. The rape survivor died of meningoencephalitis in a hospital in Kolkata on March 13, this year. While Indian laws forbid the disclosure of a rape victim’s identity, Jordan had chosen to not hide her name and had come out strongly against her aggressors.

PM Narendra Modi may take Shinzo Abe to banks of Ganga in Varanasi

It was Modi’s vision to see Varanasi, his Lok Sabha constituency, to be developed as a smart city on the lines of Kyoto. An agreement was signed between Kyoto and Varanasi in 2014 to cooperate in fields of arts, culture, heritage and modernisation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe before a meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

PTI
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has his own way of striking personal chords with foreign leaders. If it was a stroll along the Sabarmati waterfront in Ahmedabad that gave a special touch to the visit of Chinese President Xi Jingping last year, it is likely to be aarti on the banks of Ganga in Varanasi that will reflect a similar moment when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is in the country next month.Abe, who arrives here on December 9, will be the first world leader to visit Varanasi ever since Modi won from there and took over as Prime Minister. Plans in the past to take US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Varanasi had not materialised. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It was Modi’s vision to see Varanasi, his Lok Sabha constituency, to be developed as a smart city on the lines of Kyoto. An agreement was signed between Kyoto and Varanasi in 2014 to cooperate in fields of arts, culture, heritage and modernisation. However, the Varanasi civic authorities could become a cause of disappointment for the two sides which are working on fulfilling Modi’s plans for the city. A Japanese team of technical experts had recently made its third visit to Varanasi as part of the project to develop Varanasi. However, delegation sources said the civic authorities had failed to prepare the detailed project reports. Kyoto’s civic authorities were also part of the delegation which returned complaining of lack of cooperation, sources said. Incidentally, Varanasi has a BJP-run civic body and a mini PMO to act as a bridge between Delhi and Modi’s constituency. As per the understanding, Varanasi was to adopt Kyoto’s solid waste technique for garbage disposal. Under the MoU signed during Modi’s Japan visit, a detailed roadmap of cooperation, forming the basis for further understanding, was to be prepared. Abe had promised to invest $35 billion (3.5 trillion Yen or Rs 2,10,000 crore) in various developmental projects in India over the next five years, including building of smart cities and next generation infrastructure.Further, it is believed that negotiations are in the final phase to prepare a text of the proposed Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement with Japan, which was somewhat softening its stance on allowing reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel from Japan-made reactors, significant bearing on progress of two atomic projects under discussion involving American nuclear vendors — GE-Hitachi and Toshiba-Westinghouse. Globally, apart from Japan’s JSW, there are just three major heavy forging capacities in operation worldwide that can fabricate large single-piece pressure vessels for nuclear reactors — Creusot Forge (a subsidiary of France’s Areva group), Russia’s OMZ Izhora and Chinese state-owned firm China First Heavy Industries.

7th Pay Commission seeks to please all but here are 7 issues that will tie the govt down

The recommendations of the pay commission have come at a time when there is a demand slump in the economy. Households are not spending as incomes have not risen, and there is constant focus on the rural households to provide an impetus which is not coming due to successive weak monsoons in 2014 and 2015. In this background, the higher salaries recommended along with pensions comes as breath of fresh air. And this time there is less umbrage over these hikes.

There are several issues here. The first is the quantum of increase in salaries and pensions. At around 24%, the amount is quite large, and while there is justification, we need to move over to a system where this is done gradually and more frequently rather than as a big shock. This would make it easier to absorb. Right now absorbing an amount of Rs 1 lakh crore is a task.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

Second, the hike in central government pay scales would automatically mean that even the state personnel scales would go up by a comparable level which will necessitate corrections for PSUs, PSBs, universities, regulators and so on. Therefore, the total impact in the next couple of years will be more than the Rs 1 lakh crore we are talking of and could be in the range of Rs 2.5 lakh crore, depending on the rate of scale up of salaries.

Third, will this amount be spent? With around 30-35% of the total going as pensions, there would be more savings typically rather than consumption. However, for the balance, there would be spending on consumer goods, homes, automobiles and other electronic gadgets which will have a positive impact on production. If 0.65% of GDP is the central government impact and the states and other entities add another 0.85% (0.65+0.2%), roughly Rs 2.25-2.3 lakh crores of potential spending will enter the market and assuming 30% is saved on an average, we are still talking of around Rs 1.5 lakh crore so spending which will be very significant.

Fourth, the government will have to work harder on the fiscal arithmetic. Presently, the budget is doing well with non-tax revenue being buoyant, subsidy bill being lower even though we are struggling with the disinvestment target. The additional expenditure on pay bill has to be compensated from somewhere. Either revenue has to go up or some other expenditure has to be cut if we are to remain on the FRBM path. This will be a major challenge for the FM when he presents the FY17 Budget. As tax revenue increase would still be uncertain, the government has to look at lowering expenditures to begin with to make sure that the fiscal deficit is contained.

Fifth, the state governments have a greater challenge. Most of them are working around the 3% fiscal deficit number. Accommodating the additional increase would be a touch and go. But a few weeks back the government put forward the UDAY Scheme where states were to restructure the SEBs. This means taking on some additional debt in the next two years. Depending on the timing of the state pay commission recommendations, they will have a sticker path to cross as they would have to address this necessity of higher salaries and the option of reforming the SEBs along with other pressures like spending partly on smart cities and other programmes.

Sixth, the move to give higher salaries brings central government staff compensation closer to the private sector salaries, which is good. But two questions remain. First, there is no performance-linked pay matrix which exists in the private sector. Hence, the element of more responsibility is not part of the structure. Ideally the 24% increase should have been split to ensure that some performance parameters are met. The present approach is democratic across all grades as well as silent on performance.

The second is that while some allowances are removed, important ones like housing or car facilities continue to be provided. If the goal is to move to private sector-like pay structures, the Commissions in future should also move away from providing these perquisites which have high values. In fact, few private sector jobs carry such benefits with the amounts being monetised in the pay package. An offshoot can be that if all accommodation owned by the government were to let out to private parties, the rent earnings could be substantial.

Last, the OROP has been generalised to cover the entire civil service which again is democratic as we cannot have different principles for different arms of the government given that almost all structures are universal in nature. But the major challenge is the amount of money involved here which would not just be recurring but would keep mounting at an accelerated rate as all old pensions keep getting indexed to the new benchmark.

The pay commission has evidently looked at making everyone happy which will lead to more spending. At a time when investment is not picking up due to excess capacity in most sectors, this move should help to alleviate the situation. The fiscal pressures will mount, but then once the government accepts the report, it has to gear itself for the same, which will top the agenda now when the next Budget is announced.

The author is chief economist, CARE Ratings. Views are personal

No annual increment if central govt employees fail to perform, recommends 7th pay commission

New Delhi: Central government employees should not be allowed to earn annual increments if they fail to meet performance criterion, the Seventh Central Pay Commission has recommended even as it sought upgradation of performance benchmark to “very good” from “good” level.

It has also recommended introduction of the Performance Related Pay (PRP) for all categories of central government employees.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

There is a widespread perception that increments as well as upward movement in the hierarchy happen as a matter of course. The perception is that grant of Modified Assured Career Progression (MACP), although subject to the employee attaining the laid down threshold of performance, is taken for granted, the panel said.

“This Commission believes that employees who do not meet the laid down performance criterion should not be allowed to earn future annual increments. The Commission is therefore proposing withholding of annual increments in the case of those employees who are not able to meet the benchmark either for MACP or a regular promotion within the first 20 years of their service.

“This will act as a deterrent for complacent and inefficient employees. However, since this is not a penalty, the norms for penal action in disciplinary cases involving withholding increments will not be applicable in such cases.

This will be treated as an efficiency bar,” it said in the report submitted to the government.

Additionally, for such employees there could be an option to leave service on similar terms and conditions as prescribed for voluntary retirement, the panel said.

PTI

Former SIMI member from Karnataka detained in Dubai for suspected ISIS activities

Investigations showed Damudi to be in touch with several other Muslim youths in India as well.

Islamic State militants

Dubai police have detained a 33-year-old from Bhatkal, Karnataka, who was being tracked for over a year by Indian authorities for suspected online activities linked to the Islamic State, reports Indian Express. Former SIMI member Adnan Hasan Damudi, moved to Dubai in 2012 for work, and is said to have acted as an online recruiter and propaganda agent for ISIS.Indian authorities are hopeful that Damudi, an accountant by training who was last known to be employed as an assistant delivery coordinator at the World Trade Center in Dubai, would be deported soon to India. He was detained a couple of months ago. However his present location is ‘not known’.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Since the detention, Damudi’s ‘suspect’ online activities have come to a halt, sources added. The Twitter account allegedly linked to Damudi, with the handle @AdnanDamudi, that would propagate IS ideology has been defunct over the last year along with his YouTube subscription.Indian and UAE phone numbers suspected to have been provided by Damudi on online forums are also inactive. A Telangana Police investigation into an attempt last year to recruit four Hyderabad youths to IS led to Damudi. The terrorist is alleged to have influenced the four engineering college dropouts to travel to Syria as well as arranged funds for their travel, before the authorities were alerted and the youths detained near Malda in West Bengal and brought back to Hyderabad. A commerce graduate from Karnatak University in Dharwad, Damudi was allegedly also in touch with Sultan Armar from Bhatkal, who was reported by IS-linked websites to have been killed in Kobane in Syria in March this year. Investigations showed Damudi to be in touch with several other Muslim youths in India as well, reports Indian Express. An alleged active participant in online platforms linked to the IS, he was a subscriber a year ago to a YouTube channel operated by controversial Australian pro-IS preacher Robert Musa Cerantonio, who was deported to Australia from the Philippines in 2014.Investigations into the attempt by the four Hyderabad youths to make their way to IS ranks in Syria had revealed that they were initially handled online by a Karnataka-origin man based in the Gulf. Initially 6 youths from Hyderabad had been convinced into signing up for the IS and visas were to be arranged for their travel via Istanbul, says Indian Express. However, two had later dropped out after their parents got wind of their plans as well as the person who was to arrange their visas backed out. The four youths who eventually decided to leave first went into hiding in the Karimnagar district of Telangana and, out of desperation, allegedly contacted Damudi on an Indian number provided by him. Damudi allegedly put the youths in touch with Sultan Armar, who was suspected then to be on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

AAP government to reward citizens for uploading pictures of their bills on app

In another attempt to fill up their depleting coffers, the ruling Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi will rope in citizens to join an ongoing offensive against tax evaders. The motivation here for people could be a hefty sum of prize money, that could reach up to Rs50,000.It’s simple. According to sources, the Arvind Kejriwal government will be launching an application on the scheme “Bill Banwao, Inaam Pao”, which can be downloaded on your phone, to upload the pictures of bills provided by your shop, restaurant, grocer, with basic details, such the name of the establishment and the TIN mentioned in the bills.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>One per cent of those uploading the pictures of their bills will get a reward of double the bill amount through a lucky draw. That means one out 100 people will be rewarded with double the amount mentioned in pictures of invoices that (s)he uploads on the app.Sources said the initiative will help the government in two ways. First, the prize money and the lucky draw will encourage citizens to ask for proper invoices whenever they buy any product or avail of a service.Secondly, with several invoices handy, the VAT department would be able to keep a check on specific establishments to ensure they do not manipulate the bills and subsequent taxes they pay the government.A senior official said that the app is nearly ready and will be launched by this month end. Delhi would be one of the first governments in the country to launch such an app.”The initiative will help citizens to participate in governance. They will now insist on bills, which will lead to instances of tax evasion going down,” an official said.The app will also enable citizens to report fake or kachha bills – one of the most common ways adopted by most shops in the city to evade taxes – to the government, so that VAT inspectors can locate and crack down on the particular establishment. However, this one comes without a reward.Bills given by restaurants have two components, the VAT which goes to the Delhi government and the service tax that goes to the central government, while those provided by shops mostly carry only the VAT.Value added tax (VAT) accounts for a major source of revenue for the Delhi government. The AAP government has set a target of Rs24,000 crore for the current fiscal year of 2015-16, Rs5,500 crore more than the approximately Rs18,550 crore raised last year.Dna recently reported that the tax department will be increasing the VAT on jet fuel by five per cent to increase its collections.

Govt to maintain centralised data on pending litigations

It can send reminders through SMS to official to provide alerts about particular cases coming up for hearing.

Though there are no official estimates, the Law Ministry believes government is a party in 46 per cent of the cases being contested in various courts, including tribunals, in the country.

Despite being perceived as the biggest litigant, the government does not maintain a centralised data of pending cases where it is a party. But this is now set to change as the Law Ministry has embarked upon an ambitious project to streamline litigation related data and make it available at a single point. The Legal Information Management and Briefing System (LIMBS) conceived by the Law Ministry can capture information pertaining to different courts and tribunals and categorise them into various sets of management information system reports for concerned officials to take action.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It can send reminders through SMS to official to provide alerts about particular cases coming up for hearing. Law Secretary P K Malhotra has urged other Union Secretaries appoint a joint secretary level officer as the project coordinator to implement LIMBS. “… this department (Legal Affairs) is mandated to give legal advice to all government departments on the issues raised by them and also advise them on litigation matters conducted on behalf of Union of India. “However, the court cases are monitored by the concerned departments and there is no centralised system for collecting information with regard to pendency and status of these cases… centralised data to this effect is not available,” he wrote.According to a status note on the National Litigation Policy pending before the Union Cabinet for approval, “government enjoys the dubious distinction of being the largest litigant in the courts involving a big draught on public exchequer.”Though there are no official estimates, the Law Ministry believes government is a party in 46 per cent of the cases being contested in various courts, including tribunals, in the country. “We are the biggest decision makers. Hence we are the biggest litigant as some decisions are bound to go against the interest of some people who would approach court and the government would certainly defend itself,” said a senior functionary.

Uttar Pradesh: Dalit family beaten up for touching idols at temple

A Dalit couple and their relatives were beaten up, abused and issued life threats for allegedly touching idols at a temple in Chitrakoot.

A Dalit couple and their relatives were beaten up, abused and issued life threats for allegedly touching idols at a temple in Chitrakoot. The police have registered FIR against the culprits. However, no arrests have been made so far. The Dalits in Rajapur town have announced a march on Sunday if the accused are not arrested by then. National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) chairman P.L. Punia on Saturday said the commission will take action against culprits involved in the beating up of a Dalit family for allegedly touching idols at a temple in Chitrakoot district of Uttar Pradesh. “The National Commission for Scheduled Castes has taken its cognizance and there will be probe against them,” Punia said. “Whenever these kinds of incidences take place, the commission intervenes and ensures that probe is done against the culprits,” he added.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

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