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No India-type nuclear agreement with Pakistan: US

Olson said Pakistan is well aware of the extremist and insurgent threats to the security of its nuclear weapons and has a professional and dedicated security force.

US flag

The Obama Administration today ruled out any India-type nuclear agreement with Pakistan as top American lawmakers expressed serious concerns over the growing Pakistani nuclear arsenal. “We are not negotiating a 123 agreement with Pakistan,” Richard G Olson, Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told lawmakers during a hearing on Pakistan convened by the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee. “We had a very candid discussion with Pak about some of the concerns that we have including about short range nuclear weapons. Pakistan is prepared to have discussions with us,” he said in response to a question.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Olson said Pakistan is well aware of the extremist and insurgent threats to the security of its nuclear weapons and has a professional and dedicated security force. “As with all nuclear-capable states, we have urged Pakistan to restrain its nuclear weapons and missile development and stressed the importance of avoiding any developments that might invite increased risk to nuclear safety, security, or strategic stability,” he said. Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in his remarks alleged that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is on a track to be the third largest. “It’s addition of small tactical nuclear weapons in recent years is even more troubling. This is a country which spends a fifth of its budget on the military, from long-range missiles to F-16s, but under 2.5 per cent on education,” he said. “Through all of the double-dealing, US policy has essentially stood still. Security assistance, cash, and arms has continued to flow under the occasional temporary delays,” Royce said. “Indeed, despite some Department of Defence assistance for Pakistan being held because of inadequate efforts against the Haqqani network, the State Department is currently seeking more arms for Islamabad,” Royce said. “We have a very stringent end use monitoring requirements with security co-operation with high tech. The results have been satisfactory. The end use monitoring systems have been effective,” Olson said in response to a question.

Critical for Pakistan to improve ties with India: US

Olson also said, “We hope the high-level talks between Indian and Pakistani officials will be used to increase ties between the two nations.”

India-Pakistan flags

It is critical for Pakistan to improve its relations with India, and the entire region will benefit substantially from increased economic cooperation between the two neighbours, a top Obama Administration official told lawmakers on Wednesday. “It is also critical that Pakistan improve relations with its other neighbour India,” Richard G. Olson, Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing on Pakistan. “We hope the recent high-level talks between Indian and Pakistani officials and the announcement of the resumption of formal dialogue will be used to reduce tensions and increase ties between the two nations,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> “More broadly, the entire region stands to benefit substantially from increased economic integration,” Olson said in his testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The hearing on Pakistan was chaired by Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Developed countries must honour their commitments, says India at the UN

India s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Bhagwant Bishnoi said the Development Agenda 2030 places people at the centre of development and recognize that poverty eradication needs to be the overarching objective of the efforts of the international community.

United Nations building

India has asked developed countries to honour their commitments towards development assistance, particularly to least developed nations, stressing that efforts to achieve poverty eradication should be based on the principles of social justice and equity.”While developing countries continue to address poverty eradication, the developed world must also honour their commitments with regard to development assistance, particularly to Least Developed Countries. For effective national action, it is necessary that there also be an enabling international environment,” India s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Bhagwant Bishnoi said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said the Development Agenda 2030 places people at the centre of development and recognize that poverty eradication needs to be the overarching objective of the efforts of the international community.Related Read: COP21 Climate Conference: Final draft of climate deal ready, to be unveiled today”It is also imperative that our efforts for the achievement of this objective be based on the principles of social justice and equity,” he said on Friday in the UN General Assembly at a session on social development.He said while globalization and technology have brought considerable benefit to global society, the lack of equity in global processes continues to enhance inequality among and between countries, including the widening digital divide.”In this regard, we need to emphasize that market reform and structural adjustment programmes need to focus on all people,” he said. Bishnoi highlighted the approach taken by the Narendra Modi government to promote sustainable and inclusive growth for the welfare and well being of all people in the country, without leaving anybody behind.”The motto of the government is ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ or ‘together with all, development for all’. The government has accorded the highest importance to education for all, gender equality & women empowerment, skill development and Digital India,” he added.

India’s vaccination program to reach 90% within 3 years: Union Health Minister

The minister said four more vaccines will be added in the ‘Mission Indradhanush’ program.

JP Nadda

Union Health Minister JP Nadda on Monday said that the vaccination program under ‘Mission Indradhanush’ will reach a coverage of almost ninety per cent in next three years.’Mission Indradhanush’, launched by Nadda in 2014, aims to immunise children against seven vaccine preventable diseases. “We came out with an ambitious program called Mission Indradhanush, which also includes (prevention of) Hepatitis B… Every year we used to increase our immunisation program by one per cent. We thought if we go at this speed then we won’t be able to reach the goal till 2050… “In one year time we will be able to cover 5 per cent and within three years we will be reaching from 65 per cent to 90 per cent of coverage,” Nadda said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He was speaking at the Hepatitis B Awareness Drive launched by Health and Family Welfare Ministry in association with UNICEF. “In India, approximately 10 lakh children, on an annual basis, run the lifetime risk of developing chronic Hepatitis infections, leading to life-threatening issues including liver cancer, liver failure and a possibility of premature death”, he said. The minister said four more vaccines will be added in the ‘Mission Indradhanush’ program.”Next month we are going to review and learn from some of our mistakes. Next year we will relaunch this and add four more vaccines… I am proud to say this immunisation program is world’s largest public health program,” he said. Maharashtra Health Minister Deepak Sawant said the state government will roll out ‘Nucleic Acid Test’ (NAT) program in the next three months. “Maharashtra government is coming out with NAT where every hospital will have a NAT test, even in rural areas. It’ll cover HIV and Hepatitis B and other diseases which are transmitted through blood donation…,” he said.”We’ve been after this for eighth months and it’ll be there in the next three months in every district hospital of Maharashtra, ” Sawant added.UNICEF Celebrity Ambassador and megastar Amitabh Bachchan said he was a Hepatitis B survivor. Nadda thanked the 73-year-old actor for giving the awareness drive a much needed push. “Society needs to be involved for health issues. Amitabh Bachchan’s involvement has pushed the campaign. He spoke about his life and that has given power to the movement,” the minister said.Louis Georges Arsenault, UNICEF India Representative said, “Preventing Hepatitis-B through immunisation at birth and the first year of life is critical for the healthy life of a child. “If we could achieve the extraordinary feat of defeating polio, we can surely join hands and prevent this life threatening disease through timely immunisation,” Arsenualt added

Syed Akbaruddin India’s next Permanent Representative to UN

A 1985 batch IFS officer, Akbaruddin, currently serving as an Additional Secretary in MEA, is credited with bringing a whiff of fresh air into the Ministry’s External Publicity division during his three-and-half year tenure as the spokesperson

Senior diplomat and former high- profile spokesperson of the External Affairs Ministry Syed Akbaruddin has been appointed as India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, succeeding Asoke Mukerji.A 1985 batch IFS officer, Akbaruddin, currently serving as an Additional Secretary in MEA, is credited with bringing a whiff of fresh air into the Ministry’s External Publicity division during his three-and-half year tenure as the spokesperson.He had also brought an effective mix of social and digital media into the External Publicity division. As India’s Permanent Representative to the global body in New York, Akbaruddin’s main task would be to push for India’s bid to gain permanent membership of the UN Security Council as well as to strongly advocate its position on key issues.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Akbaruddin was Chief Coordinator of the recently-held Indo-Africa Summit here which was participated by heads of state and government of 41 countries from African continent. He had served at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Geneva and is considered an “expert” on the West Asia where he had served in various capacities. Vikas Swarup, author of best-selling novel “Q&A” which formed the basis for Oscar-winning movie “Slumdog Millionaire”, had replaced Akbaruddin as MEA spokesperson in April.

UNSC ineffectiveness imposing severe costs on everyone: India

In a strong criticism of the functioning of the UN Security Council, India has said that the world body’s “ineffectiveness” is imposing “severe costs on all of us”, as it blamed the UN organ for failing to fight terrorism and use peacekeeping as a tool to secure peace.

In a strong criticism of the functioning of the UN Security Council, India has said that the world body’s “ineffectiveness” is imposing “severe costs on all of us”, as it blamed the UN organ for failing to fight terrorism and use peacekeeping as a tool to secure peace.India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Asoke Mukerji, termed the annual report of the Council “opaque and unaccountable” and called it a “half-way house.” He said the report does not provide an answer to why the primary UN organ responsible for maintaining international peace and security “has allowed the world to slide further down the road to violence and conflict.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Why have more than 60 million people become the victims of this crisis? Why is the world seeing so many refugees from crisis situations?”We in the General Assembly do not receive any answers to this question. Nor, for that matter, does the general public.The consequence is a severe erosion of the credibility of the Council itself,” Mukerji said here yesterday at the General Assembly plenary meeting on the annual report of the Council.Focusing on the three areas of peacekeeping, the response to terrorism and inability to resolve disputes peacefully, Mukerji said the ineffectiveness of the Council is “imposing severe costs on all of us, especially developing countries.””Going by its report, the Council seems unable to comprehend the nature of the socio-economic challenges faced by developing countries due to the breakdown of international peace and security, especially now when we are on the cusp of implementing Agenda 2030 adopted unanimously with the goal of eradicating poverty within a generation.”This is due to the fact that for the past 70 years, only one developing country is represented as a permanent member in the Council, while our total membership in this Assembly is more than 134. We call for the urgent expansion of the Council, in order to add more developing country members in both its categories, to offset this problem,” he said.Mukerji criticised the Council’s response to the threat posed by terrorism, especially in Africa and Asia, saying it has been “less than robust.””Despite all its exhortations and Resolutions, the report is silent on what actually the Council has done in terms of acting to meet this threat. The increasing number and brutality of terrorist acts meanwhile vividly illustrates the ineffectiveness of the Council to counter terrorism,” he said.He said the report does not reveal anything about the way in which the Council’s sanctions regimes against terrorism function, “which by itself is a significant omission, hidden from our scrutiny in this Assembly.” Mukerji expressed regret that the Council has not acted on the need to investigate, prosecute and penalise terrorist acts, especially those directed against UN peacekeepers.Mukerji said the Council has not been able to use peacekeeping as a tool to secure peace.”Going by its routine roll over of mandates of peacekeeping missions, the Council is using peacekeeping as an open-ended mechanism, and not as a means to bring about a sustainable peace,” he said.Noting that none of the peacekeeping missions mandated by the Council to operate in Africa have been successfully ended, Mukerji said no permanent member of the Council, which exercises the right of being a drafter of these mandates is from Africa.”This is a major shortcoming as seen from the report of the Council, which only expanding the membership of the Council in both categories can rectify. Mere increase in short, or for that matter long-term rotational seats is not the answer, in the real world, to the glaring shortcomings of pen-holdership,” he said.He also reiterated the need for the Council to invite member states contributing troops, who are not represented in the Council, to participate in decisions on how mandates for peacekeeping are drawn.The third area where the Council’s report glosses over its ineffectiveness is in the pursuit of peaceful negotiations to resolve disputes, he said adding that the impetus to use political negotiations to resolve crises is now occurring outside the Security Council and not in the Council.”The Council has watched these negotiations from the sidelines, whether they concerned the crisis in Syria, South Sudan and Ukraine.”We note that these negotiations were conducted by member states, not all of which were represented on the Council.This is a telling comment on how the Council is today not the primary driver of the political process to resolve disputes, which is its core competence under the Charter,” he said.Mukerji said statistics in the report cannot cloak the Council’s “imperviousness to adapt its working procedures to the contemporary world, which require it to meet the standards of transparency and accountability and be responsive to views of other member states. That is the nub of the problem.”Pointing out that the Council’s effectiveness in maintaining international peace and security is today severely undermined, Mukerji called for setting “right this major anomaly” in international relations by implementing reform of the Council by the end of the 70th anniversary of the UN in September 2016.

Afghan Hazara step up protest after beheadings | Reuters

KABULThousands of members of Afghanistan’s Hazara ethnic minority demonstrated on Wednesday against government inaction over the killing of seven members of their community by Islamist militants who dumped their partially beheaded bodies.

The mainly Shia Hazara have long faced persecution in Afghanistan, with thousands massacred by the Taliban and al Qaeda in the 1990s, but a series of murders and kidnappings this year has stoked a mood of growing despair.

The demonstration in a mainly Hazara area in the west of Kabul was peaceful but there was an angry mood in the crowd that was directed both at the Islamist militants blamed for the killings and the government that failed to prevent them.

“The only way to prevent such crimes in the future is to take over all government offices until they wake up and make a decision,” said demonstrator Sayed Karim, 40, one of thousands who filled the whole of Mazari Square.

As well as adding to the daily toll of killings, the deaths of the seven Hazara, who included three women and two children, have heightened the risk that sectarian hatreds will further poison the climate in a country made up of different ethnicities.

Bearing the green-draped coffins of the dead and carrying banners with slogans like “The Taliban are committing crimes and the government is supporting them”, the crowd began to make its way to the presidential palace in central Kabul.

President Ashraf Ghani has condemned the killings and promised an investigation but they have added to a mood of insecurity that has grown since the Taliban briefly seized control of the key northern city of Kunduz in late September.

The United Nations Special Representative Nicholas Haysom also issued a statement, saying the killings violated international law. “These senseless murders may amount to war crimes and the perpetrators must be held accountable,” he said.

The killings in the southern province of Zabul occurred amid fighting between rival Taliban factions and Islamic State militants that has underlined the risk of further fragmentation, complicating any reopening of the peace process and creating the risk of more generalised anarchy.

Demonstrators said Hazara people were being killed every day on the dangerous roads between Ghazni, Bamyan and Wardak provinces to the west of Kabul, where the Taliban have control of much of the countryside.

In addition to the Taliban and Islamic State, many Hazara have directed their anger more broadly against the Pashtun, the largest ethic group from which the Islamist movements recruit most of their followers.

“We’re from this country. We have to have the same rights as other citizens,” said a demonstrator who gave her name only as Sohaila. “If the government doesn’t give us the right of citizenship, we will leave this country to the Pashtuns and other groups.”

(Additional reporting by Sayed Hassib and Samar Zwak, Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Nick Macfie)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

India opposes unilateral embargoes, joins call to lift Cuba sanctions

United Nations: India reiterated its unambiguous opposition to unilateral embargoes imposed by countries through their domestic laws as New Delhi voted on Tuesday for a resolution calling for an end to the United States embargo against Cuba.

The vote on the General Assembly resolution completely isolated the US will all its allies, except Israel, abandoning it. Of the 193 members of the UN, the other 191 voted for the resolution. Even though Washington resumed diplomatic relations with Cuba this year it left embargo in place and this was the 24th time the General assembly passed such a resolution.

Representational Image. AFPRepresentational Image. AFP

Representational Image. AFP

India “has consistently rejected the imposition of laws and regulations with extra-territorial impact and all other forms of coercive economic measures that hurt the progress and prosperity of the people the world over,” India’s Permanent Representative Asoke Kumar Mukerji told the General Assembly.

“The continued existence of this embargo, in contravention of world opinion,” he added, “undermines multilateralism and the credibility of the United Nations itself.”

Embargoes impacted the human rights of people as it affected their right to development, food and medical care, hitting women and children the hardest, he said.

Mukerji praised Cuba for its “notable socio-economic and developmental achievements of the Cuban people, in particular the high HDI (human development index) ranking of Cuba and its achievement of several MDGs (Millennium Development Goals)” before the deadlines despite the embargo.

The US Senior Area Advisor for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Ronald D. Godard, pointed to the “historic measures” undertaken by the Obama administration to normalise relations with Cuba and said it was “unfortunate” that Havana had persisted in bringing the resolution again this year.

Obama has called on Congress to lift the embargo as soon as possible and has taken executive action to facilitate many transactions involving Cuba, he said.

“We do not expect Cuba or the United States to forget the past overnight,” he added. “We realize that fully normalizing our bilateral relationship will require years of persistence and dedication on both sides.”

Although the Cuban embargo, first imposed in 1960 and further tightened by Congressional action in the 1990s, was the direct target of the resolution, the General Assembly used it to call for an end to all unilateral sanctions, a sentiment that India strongly associated itself with.

The resolution asked all nations not to impose such sanctions and to lift any that are in place. Such embargoes are seen as violations of the UN Charter and international law provisions for the freedom of trade and navigation.

Under the UN Charter only the Security Council can impose such sanctions as it has in the case of Iran.

IANS

Pakistan wants better bilateral relations but India’s response ‘discouraging’: Sharif

Washington, DC: Terming the Kashmir issue as the bone of contention between India and Pakistan, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday said New Delhi’s response to Islamabad’s desire for better bilateral ties has been discouraging.

“New Delhi’s response to the desire of bilateral ties is discouraging,” Geo TV quoted Sharif as saying during his address to the Pakistani diaspora soon after arriving in the US on a four-day official visit.

File image of Nawaz Sharif. AFPFile image of Nawaz Sharif. AFP

File image of Nawaz Sharif. AFP

Sharif said the Kashmir issue is the bone of contention between the two neighbours and it will have to be resolved for peace and stability in the region.

Earlier in the day, Sharif was received at the Andrews Airforce Base by the Assistant Secretary of State Peter Selfridge and accorded a Guard of Honour by the United States armed forces.

During the visit, the Pakistan Prime Minister will hold discussions on wide-ranging issues of bilateral interest with President Barack Obama on 22 October, Vice President Joe Biden, and various Cabinet members.

Sharif will also interact with members of the US Senate and the House of Representative as well as senior US Government officials.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the US president hoped to strengthen ties between security forces of both countries to counter extremist forces in that region.

“What the President hopes to do is to strengthen the relationship between the two countries based on our shared interest…in countering extremist forces in that region of the world.

“I am confident that the President will come to his meeting with Prime Minister Sharif with some ideas about what more the Pakistanis could do to strengthen the relationship between our two countries and to advance the security interests of our two countries,” he said.

PTI

Kerala: Businessman offers Rs 5 lakh reward to stray dogs killer

On October 2, the ‘Theruvu Naaya Unmoolana Sangham’ has said it would kill over 100 stray dogs.

Representative Image

The president of the Stray Dog Free Movement, businessman Kochouseph Chittilappilly, has offered a reward of Rs 5 lakh to OM Joy, president, ‘Theruvu Naaya Unmoolana Sangham’, which killed many stray dogs recently, The New Indian Express reports. Chittilappilly is the Managing Director of V-Guard Industries Ltd and amusement parks chain ‘Wonderla’. According to the report, Chittilappilli said in a statement, “Efforts by humanitarians like Joy should be encouraged, when administrators who are bound to protect the people from the stray dog menace fail to do so.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On October 2, the ‘Theruvu Naaya Unmoolana Sangham’ said it would kill over 100 stray dogs. Meanwhile, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) filed a petition with the Ernakulam (Rural) District Police Chief. They asked for preventive arrest of the members of the Theruvu Naaya Unmoolana Sangham including Joy. They were arrested and released later, said the report.This is not the first time that the businessman has offered a reward to someone. Chittilappilly had offered a housewife a reward for taking on LDF leaders for blocking a road in 2013.

No ‘one size fits all’ solution for social development: India at UNGA

Underscoring that there is no “one size fits all” solution for social development, India has said the ambitious 2030 development agenda adopted by the UN recognises the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in its implementation.

Underscoring that there is no “one size fits all” solution for social development, India has said the ambitious 2030 development agenda adopted by the UN recognises the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in its implementation.”There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution for social development at the national level. The Agenda 2030 has also well recognised the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in its implementation,” India’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Bhagwant Bishnoi said at a Third Committee meeting of the General Assembly yesterday.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said the inter-linkages among the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable social development can only be addressed by strengthening of institutions and capacity at international, national, regional and local levels.”Efforts to fill the domestic financing gap in developing countries is only possible by international funding assistance led by the official development assistance by developed countries,” Bishnoi said, adding that with political resolve and selfless interest, the global community must transform itself into a resilient and sustainable society.Bishnoi said given the uneven progress with regard to earlier development goals set by the UN, the international community cannot afford but to make poverty eradication and social inclusion our top priorities in order to achieve sustainable development.Social integration with social inclusion is necessary to overcome inequalities both within and between countries, he said, adding that it is important to collectively stimulate growth and development through non-discriminatory employment generation policies and provide decent work for all.Bishnoi highlighted that India’s policies and programmes in areas of poverty eradication, education, health and social protection have focused on the vulnerable sections, including women, children, disabled and older persons.He outlined the policies undertaken by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government in the last year and a half and said they have been focussed on the principle of ‘Sab ka saath sab ka vikas’ (together with all, development for all).The Prime Minister’s ‘Jan Dhan Yojana’ has provided banking access to 170 million people as a first step towards their economic empowerment and development, he said.New Social protection schemes in the insurance sector have been launched, such as the Prime Minister’s ‘Suraksha Bima Yojana’ which benefitted over 100 million families within a span of 100 days of the launch. With the initiative of ‘Swachha Bharat'(clean India) by 2019, the government has prioritised water and sanitation for all.The ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India’ campaigns aim at economic growth and bridging the digital divide and the recently launched ‘Skill India’ initiative aims at training nearly 400 million people by 2022, he said.

No ‘one size fits all’ solution for social development: India

Underscoring that there is no “one size fits all” solution for social development, India has said the ambitious 2030 development agenda adopted by the UN recognises the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in its implementation.

Underscoring that there is no “one size fits all” solution for social development, India has said the ambitious 2030 development agenda adopted by the UN recognises the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in its implementation.”There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution for social development at the national level. The Agenda 2030 has also well recognised the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in its implementation,” India’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Bhagwant Bishnoi said at a Third Committee meeting of the General Assembly yesterday.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said the inter-linkages among the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable social development can only be addressed by strengthening of institutions and capacity at international, national, regional and local levels.”Efforts to fill the domestic financing gap in developing countries is only possible by international funding assistance led by the official development assistance by developed countries,” Bishnoi said, adding that with political resolve and selfless interest, the global community must transform itself into a resilient and sustainable society.Bishnoi said given the uneven progress with regard to earlier development goals set by the UN, the international community cannot afford but to make poverty eradication and social inclusion our top priorities in order to achieve sustainable development.Social integration with social inclusion is necessary to overcome inequalities both within and between countries, he said, adding that it is important to collectively stimulate growth and development through non-discriminatory employment generation policies and provide decent work for all.Bishnoi highlighted that India’s policies and programmes in areas of poverty eradication, education, health and social protection have focused on the vulnerable sections, including women, children, disabled and older persons.He outlined the policies undertaken by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government in the last year and a half and said they have been focussed on the principle of ‘Sab ka saath sab ka vikas’ (together with all, development for all).The Prime Minister’s ‘Jan Dhan Yojana’ has provided banking access to 170 million people as a first step towards their economic empowerment and development, he said.New Social protection schemes in the insurance sector have been launched, such as the Prime Minister’s ‘Suraksha Bima Yojana’ which benefitted over 100 million families within a span of 100 days of the launch. With the initiative of ‘Swachha Bharat'(clean India) by 2019, the government has prioritised water and sanitation for all.The ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India’ campaigns aim at economic growth and bridging the digital divide and the recently launched ‘Skill India’ initiative aims at training nearly 400 million people by 2022, he said.

Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violence example for international community: UNGS Ban Ki-Moon

“He was strongly committed to social justice,” UN Secretary General Ban said.

“Gandhi’s dedication to non-violence remains an example for us all,” he said.

Invoking Mahatma Gandhi on his 146th birth anniversary, UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Friday said in the current times of escalating conflicts, rising extremism and massive displacement, the Indian leader’s dedication to non-violence is an “example” for the international community. “I continue to admire his (Gandhi’s) courage and conviction. Gandhi proved that non-violence, the principle and the practice, can change history. He was strongly committed to social justice,” UN Secretary General Ban said at a special event organised by the Indian Permanent Mission to the UN, marking the International Day of Non-violence commemorated on Gandhi’s birth anniversary.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ban said at a time of escalating conflicts, rising extremism, massive displacement and rapidly growing humanitarian need, Gandhi’s dedication to non-violence remains an example for us all. “On this International Day, let us recall the achievements of Mahatma Gandhi. And let us renew our commitment to non-violence and lives of dignity for all,” he said. Gandhi’s teachings can be applied across a very wide spectrum of human activities. As India embarks on a new era of change and development, Gandhi’s legacy of peace and non- violence serves as a guiding light,” India’s Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said at the event attended by UN General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Asoke Mukerji among others. “India’s diplomacy is focussed today on a broad range of global issues that serve the broader interests of humanity,” he said adding that through India’s humanitarian operations in Yemen and Nepal, the country helped those in distress irrespective of nationality.”…We are living up to the internationalism that Mahatma Gandhi championed. When we advocate disarmament and peaceful resolution of disputes, we are taking into the contemporary world his philosophy of active non-violence,” Jaishankar said. He said Gandhi’s emphasis on upliftment of all and sustainable development is being implemented through a variety of national campaigns such as ‘Swachch Bharat’, ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’, ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India.’ He added that growth of religious bigotry and intolerance has directly fuelled support and sponsorship of terrorism. “Unfortunately, the world has often looked away when terrorists have attacked innocents, assuming that it is not their problem. As a believer in the indivisibility of the world and the importance of moral courage, Gandhiji would ask us all to stand up and be counted. We have faith that day may yet come,” Jaishankar added.

USFDA clears Maggi, says lead within acceptable levels

New Delhi: As a ban continues in India on Nestle’s Maggi noodles, the US health regulator USFDA has said its tests have found the lead level in the popular instant food within acceptable levels for US consumers.

A USFDA spokesperson, in an e-mailed statement, said: “Following news reports about alleged lead levels in Maggi noodles made by Nestle and sold in the US, FDA tested a limited number of samples for lead contamination. FDA testing did not find any levels that present a public health concern for US consumers.”

Representative image. AFP

Representative image. AFP

Meanwhile, a day after the government filed a class action suit against the company seeking Rs 640 crore in damages for alleged unfair trade practices, false labelling and misleading advertisements, Nestle India denied receiving an official notice.

“We are yet to receive an official notice about the complaint filed before the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC). Our current knowledge on this issue is only media reports. We shall be able to provide substantive response after we receive the official papers,” Nestle said in a BSE filing.

On FDA clearance, a Nestle India spokesperson said: “We have learnt from our official importer in the United States, House of Spices, that USFDA has tested several shipments of Maggi noodles from India for lead content. Finding no unsafe lead levels, FDA released the noodles for sale in the United States.”

Similarly, health regulators in the UK, Singapore, Canada, Australia and Vietnam have also cleared India-made Maggi as safe for human consumption.

In June, food safety regulator FSSAI had banned Maggi noodles in India, terming it as “unsafe and hazardous” for consumption due to presence of lead beyond permissible limits. Nestle India too withdrew the product from the market.

FSSAI had also said Nestle India had violated labelling regulations on taste enhancer ‘MSG’ and ordered the company to submit a compliance report on the same.

The ban on Maggi showed up in Nestle India earnings earlier as it reported a standalone loss of Rs 64.40 crore for the June quarter — its first quarterly loss in over three decades. It had posted a net profit of Rs 287.86 crore in April-June of 2014-15.

PTI

India suffers blow as US, Russia, China oppose UN Security Council reform talks

India has maintained that the process to expand the powerful UN body “cannot be seen to be an exercise ad infinitum” and a results-based timeline is crucial to achieve a concrete outcome.

In a setback to India’s bid for a permanent seat in an expanded UN Security Council, the US, along with Russia and China, has opposed negotiations to reform the powerful UN body, refusing to contribute to a text that will form the basis for the long-drawn reform process.UN General Assembly President Sam Kutesa achieved a breakthrough of sorts by circulating a text to UN members that will form the basis for the negotiations on the reform of the Security Council. Kutesa had appointed Jamaica’s Permanent Representative Courtenay Rattray to chair on his behalf the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council Reform.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Kutesa, in a letter dated July 31 to all UN members, said he is also circulating letters containing the positions of groups and Member States that indicated they did not wish their proposals to be included in the body of the negotiating text. These countries include US, Russia and China.American Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said in her letter to Kutesa that the US is “open in principle” to a “modest” expansion of both permanent and non-permanent members but the condition that “any consideration of an expansion of permanent members must take into account the ability and willingness of countries to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security and to the other purposes of the United Nations.”Power added that “we believe that consideration of new permanent members must be country-specific in nature.” She also reiterated that the US remains opposed to “any alteration or expansion of the veto”.Sources told PTI that the US opposition to aspects of the reform process can be perceived as a “duplicity” since President Barack Obama has reaffirmed his support for a reformed UN Security Council with India as a permanent member.Russia, which has also supported India’s candidacy as permanent member, said in its letter to Kutesa that the “prerogatives of the current Permanent Members of the Security Council, including the use of the veto, should remain intact under any variant of the Council reform”.”The intergovernmental negotiations on the UN Security Council reform should proceed in a calm, transparent and inclusive atmosphere free from artificial deadlines,” it said.India has maintained that the process to expand the powerful UN body “cannot be seen to be an exercise ad infinitum” and a results-based timeline is crucial to achieve a concrete outcome.”Those who ask for not imposing artificial timelines may be advised to desist from inflicting artificial delays on this process,” India’s Ambassador to the UN Asoke Kumar Mukerji has said in the past.Sources said that India feels that the 70th anniversary of the UN, being commemorated this year, is an appropriate milestone to propel the reform process, which should be completed within the next one year.

Andhra govt urges Sushma Swaraj to take steps for release of abducted Indians in Libya

New Delhi: Andhra Pradesh Government on Friday urged External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to expedite steps for safe return of four Indians, including two persons from Hyderabad and Srikakulam, who were abducted in Libya.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. PTI

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. PTI

In a letter to Swaraj, Andhra Pradesh Government’s Special Representative in Delhi K Rama Mohana Rao said that four people, including two Professors, Balaram of Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh and Gopi Krishna from Hyderabad, were abducted on 29 July and held hostage by an unknown group.

“I request your good self to instruct the officials of the Indian Embassy at Tripoli, Libya and to interact with the Government authorities at Libya to assist and extend full cooperation for the safe return of the Indian hostages including those from Andhra Pradesh,” Rao said.

He sought expeditious action for the safe release of Indian hostages in Libya.

Rao also spoke to Rashid Khan, Charge d’affaires at the Indian embassy at Libya and learnt about the situation on the ground, a statement from his office here said.

He requested the authorities there to provide necessary help for ensuring safe release of the kidnapped persons.

Four Indian teachers, who were returning to India from Tripoli and Tunis, have been abducted in Libya, allegedly by the Islamic State terror group (IS). They were “detained” at a check point, about 50 km from Sirte. The area is under the control of the terror outfit.

PTI

Afghanistan says Taliban leader dead, urges peace talks | Reuters

KABUL Afghanistan said on Wednesday that Mullah Omar, elusive leader of the Taliban movement behind an escalating insurgency against the government in Kabul, died more than two years ago.

The announcement came a day or so before a second round of peace talks had been tentatively scheduled, and news of the fate of the one-eyed Omar could deepen Taliban divisions over whether to pursue negotiations and who should replace him.

Omar had not been seen in public since fleeing when the Taliban was toppled from power by a U.S.-led coalition in 2001, and there has been speculation for years among militant circles that he was either incapacitated or had died.

“The government … based on credible information, confirms that Mullah Mohammad Omar, leader of the Taliban, died in April 2013 in Pakistan,” the presidential palace said in a brief statement, without specifying what the information was.

“The government of Afghanistan believes that grounds for the Afghan peace talks are more paved now than before, and thus calls on all armed opposition groups to seize the opportunity and join the peace process.”

The Taliban’s regular spokesman could not be reached for comment through normal channels.

The comments came as preparations were under way for the next round of talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, provisionally planned for Thursday or Friday in a location yet to be confirmed.

President Ashraf Ghani is keen to broker a settlement with the insurgents, who have been gaining territory in pockets of the country and intensifying attacks on military and political targets.

Thousands of civilians and security personnel are killed each year in the violence, which has worsened since NATO withdrew most of its forces from the country at the end of 2014.

SUCCESSION MOVES

Omar’s death is likely to intensify the internal tussle to replace him.

The Taliban is already split between senior figures who support talks with Kabul to end the 13-year war and others who want to continue to fight for power.

A senior Afghan Taliban commander based in neighbouring Pakistan said Omar had died of natural causes, although he did not specify when. “We are at a crossroads, and it will take some time to resolve this (leadership) issue,” the militant said.

He added that a faction within the Taliban wanted one of Omar’s sons to take over, while another favoured the promotion of political leader Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, who has been among those who support peace talks.

Michael Kugelman, a senior associate for South and Southeast Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said Omar’s death would explain his silence when NATO troops withdrew and when Ghani’s government took power.

“These death confirmations and rejections are all part of a big pitch for power within an increasingly fractured and rudderless (Taliban) organisation,” he said, speaking before the palace issued its statement.

Nicholas Haysom, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, noted that confirmation of Omar’s death had emanated from Pakistan.

“It … provides an opportunity for Afghans to turn the page on the past and focus on the conditions and arrangements by which Afghans can live together in peace,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Hamid Shalizi and Kay Johnson in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan; Mehreen Zahra-Malik in Islamabad, Jibran Ahmad in Peshawar and David Brunnstrom in Washington; Writing by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Ian Geoghegan)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

India abstains from voting on UN resolution on American NGO ‘Freedom Now’

Freedom Now is a US-based non-partisan NGO that works to free individual prisoners of conscience through focused legal, political, and public relations advocacy efforts.

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India has abstained from voting on a UN resolution that granted special consultative status to an American NGO that works to free political prisoners across the world.India was among the 11 countries that abstained from voting on the resolution in the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on Monday to grant special consultative non-governmental organisation (NGO) status to the Freedom Now group.Of the 54 ECOSOC members present, 29 voted in favour of the resolution sponsored by Albania, Australia, Estonia, France, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, UK, US and Uruguay.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Nine nations, including China and Pakistan voted against the resolution.Freedom Now said being granted the status is important not merely as acknowledgement of its important work but to provide the organisation, its imprisoned clients, and their families a platform to address the UN Human Rights Council, ECOSOC, and the General Assembly during relevant discussions.Freedom Now is a US-based non-partisan NGO that works to free individual prisoners of conscience through focused legal, political, and public relations advocacy efforts.”Today’s vote is the culmination of a six year application process unnecessarily prolonged by politics,” Freedom Now Executive Director Maran Turner said.”We intend to use this status to improve attention and global efforts to address human rights violations and arbitrary detention. Following this experience, we would like to bring forth greater discussion about reforming the NGO accreditation process and making the UN a more welcoming place for civil society,” Turner said.India was also the sole abstention in voting in May at the UN Committee on Non-Governmental Organisations on Freedom Now’s application, which was rejected after 11 nations voted against it.The vote by ECOSOC however overturns the May 29 recommendation made by the UN Committee on Non-Governmental Organisations to reject Freedom Now’s application.US Permanent Representative to the UN Samantha Power said in a statement that Freedom Now had been waiting for over five years to secure accreditation from the NGO committee, which is why the US finally pushed for a vote to put an end to the “inexcusable attempt” to deny its official NGO status.”Freedom Now is anathema to certain member states because its lawyers work to try to free those unjustly imprisoned on the basis of their political, religious or other beliefs,” Power added.Governments opposing Freedom Now included China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Sudan, Pakistan, and South Africa.Freedom Now accused China of leading the lobbying effort against it because of the organisation’s work representing Liu Xiaobo, the imprisoned 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and other Chinese dissidents.Currently, more than 4,000 NGOs have consultative status with the UN.

China blocks India’s move at UN demanding action against Pak for Lakhvi’s release

United Nations: China has blocked India’s move in the UN demanding action against Pakistan over release of Mumbai attack mastermind and LeT commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi in violation of a resolution of the world body as it contended that India provided insufficient information.

China blocked India's move at the UN against Pakistan over the release of 26/11 mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. PTI

China blocked India’s move at the UN against Pakistan over the release of 26/11 mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. PTI

As the UN Sanctions Committee met at the United Nations at India’s request, a clarification was to be sought from Pakistan over Lakhvi’s release in the 26/11 trial but the Chinese representatives blocked the move on grounds that India did not provide sufficient information, official sources said.

In a letter to the current Chair of the UN Sanctions Committee Jim McLay, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Asoke Mukherjee last month had said Lakhvi’s release by a Pakistani court was in violation of the 1267 UN resolution dealing with designated entities and individuals.

The sanctions measures apply to designated individuals and entities associated with terror groups including al-Qaeda and LeT, wherever located.

The sanctions’ committee has five permanent and 10 non-permanent UN member states in it.

The release of Lakhvi had also raised concerns in the US, UK, Russia, France and Germany with Washington calling for him to be re-arrested.

Lakhvi and six others – Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younis Anjum – have been charged with planning and executing the Mumbai attack in November, 2008 that left 166 people dead.

Lakhvi, 55, a close relative of LeT founder and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed, was arrested in December 2008 and was indicted along with the six others on 25 November, 2009 in connection with the 26/11 attack case. The trial has been underway since 2009.

A Pakistani court had on 9 April set free Lakhvi, a development which India said “eroded” the value of assurances repeatedly conveyed to it by Pakistan on cross-border terrorism.

PTI

IIMs sharply divided over draft bill that grants greater say to the government

The draft bill says the IIMs will be “bound” by government’s directions in policy matters.

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The draft IIM bill, which seeks to give seeping powers to HRD ministry in the functioning of the B-schools, including policy matters like deciding fees, emoluments and service conditions of the faculty, has left the prestigious institutes sharply divided.While the view in the older six IIMs is that an attempt is being made at “micro-managing” them, something that would infringe upon their autonomy, those in the eight new premier institutes feel the apprehension is misplaced.IIM-Ahmedabad director Ashish Nanda said the proposed legislation would be used as a tool to “micro-manage” the institutes, known the world over for academic excellence.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Micro-management is never good. If that is done, people working in institutions may feel less empowered,” he said, speaking about the bill which provides for IIM Boards deciding matters like fees, emoluments and service conditions of the faculty but only with the Centre’s approval. The bill also provides for constitution of a coordination forum chaired by the HRD minister.An IIM professor, who was involved in drafting the bill, voiced surprise at the final draft as the earlier document did not contain any clause that gave “overwhelming authority” to the government in running the institutes.”In its original form, the bill was rather egalitarian and took the views of all stakeholders. But it has had last minute changes. Now, for everything if we have to go back to the government for permission which has the powers to say yes or no, we can’t be competitive enough,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.”If centralisation is the goal, autonomy is going to suffer. This is not the original intention of the bill. This is not acceptable. In the last meeting, there was nothing to suggest IIMs will have to go to the government for permission. We will be caught in procedural trap,” he said.”The bill, if implemented (enacted) in its present avatar, will undermine the autonomous status enjoyed by the IIMs. At a time when we are looking at a global footing, the bill could prove to be retrograde,” said another IIM director, pleading anonymity.The draft says the IIMs will be “bound” by government’s directions in policy matters.”Without prejudice to the foregoing provisions of this Act, the Institute (IIMs) shall, for efficient administration of this Act, be bound by such directions on questions of policy, as the Central Government may give in writing to it from time to time,” the draft bill says.Director of IIM Rohtak P Rameshan, however, dismissed suggestions about the prestigious institutes losing their autonomy and contended that “some element of public discipline” is needed as “inefficiency” had crept in.”IIMs are public institutions where the government should have a fair degree of say in the overall interest of all,” he said, adding “some element of public discipline is needed as there is a lot of inefficiency happening in IIMs”.Supporting the bill, the director of another new IIM trashed fears about autonomy of the IIMs getting compromised.”The government is well aware that if anything goes wrong today, it will create a hype in media, which does not augur well for it,” he said, wishing not to be named.Most IIMs would be sending their response to the draft, uploaded on the HRD ministry’s website, over the next few days.The controversy comes at a time when HRD ministry has been accused of interfering in the functioning of institutes of higher learning including the IITs. IIT-Delhi director R Shevgaonkar resigned in December last year amid reports that he was under pressure from the Ministry to act on certain issues. Eminent nuclear scientist Anil Kakodkar, former chairman of IIT-Bombay’s board of governors, recently assailed the HRD ministry over the manner in which directors of three IITs had been selected.The bill seeks to declare the IIMs ‘Institutes of National Importance’.DUTA President Nandita Narain said she was against any provision which erodes the autonomy of IIMs which they should have in academic issues, and in deciding courses and matters relating to faculty members.

90-year-old man and daughter-in-law found murdered in Delhi

The incident came to light when Sudhir, who works as an insurance agent, returned home and found the door locked from inside. He told the cops that he made several attempts to contact his wife after the house bell went unanswered.

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In a case of double murder, a 92-year-old retired engineer and his 64-year-old daughter-in-law were found stabbed to death at their residence in central Delhi’s Patel Nagar this evening.According to police, bodies of Sewa Ram and daughter- in-law Sasi were found around 6pm by his son Sudhir.The incident came to light when Sudhir, who works as an insurance agent, returned home and found the door locked from inside. He told the cops that he made several attempts to contact his wife after the house bell went unanswered.”Sudhir then called his sister who stays nearby. They opened the door using a duplicate key and spotted the bodies in a pool of blood,” a police official said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While Ram was found lying on the bed, Sasi’s body was discovered on the floor of her bedroom, he said, adding that both of them had suffered multiple stab wounds.Though details of the motive behind the double murder as well as the perpetrators of the crime were not yet clear, cops are suspecting the role of an insider.”The house was not ransacked… even valuables and jewellery were not taken away. We have registered a case of murder and started our probe,” a senior officer said, adding, the bodies have been sent for autopsy.Preliminary investigations suggest that the entry to the house was friendly and the assailant might have used a back door to escape.Police are also probing property angle as the house was owned by Ram and his son Sudhir.

Delhi Government contemplates to bring down legal drinking age to 21

However, the department’s proposal is yet to be given go-ahead by the government.

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dna Research & Archives
Delhi Government is contemplating to bring down the legal drinking age for beer from the existing 25 to 21 years, with the Excise Department preparing a proposal in this regard.However, the department’s proposal is yet to be given go-ahead by the government.According to the proposal, which is likely to be put before the Cabinet soon, the new age limit will only be applicable for consumption of wine and beer, whereas the legal drinking age for hard liquor like rum, gin, whisky and vodka remains 25 years.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to sources, the Excise Department has cited that the same age limit (21 years) is in force in many states.Mumbai also has similar rule which allows those above 21 years old to buy and consume beer.They also said that if this proposal gets the government nod, it might be tabled in the upcoming budget session scheduled to be held later this month.

Delhi government bans Maggi for 15 days; demands Nestle India to withdraw existing stock

Announcing the decision, Delhi Health Minister Satyender Jain said that a fresh stock of Maggi noodles will be tested following which a decision will be taken.

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Acting tough, Delhi government on Wednesday banned the sale of popular instant noodles Maggi for 15 days and asked the Indian arm of Swiss manufacturer Nestle to withdraw the existing stock.Announcing the decision, Delhi Health Minister Satyender Jain said that a fresh stock of Maggi noodles will be tested following which a decision will be taken.He also said government will carry out lab testing of all other noodles brands available in the city and will take action based on the reports.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Government has put a ban on Maggi noodles for 15 days. We have asked Nestle India to withdraw Maggi stocks within 15 days. We will carry out lab testing of fresh stocks and a decision will be taken accordingly thereafter,” Jain said.The decision came nearly two hours after several top Nestle India officials explained to him their position on the issue.Jain said government will file a case against Nestle India in court as per provisions of the Food Adulteration Act and will “not compromise” on issues relating to health safety.Yesterday, the Delhi government had said that it found samples of Maggi noodles “unsafe” for consumption as it contained lead beyond the permissible level in Maggi masala (tastemaker).According to officials, a total of 13 samples of masala (tastemaker) were lifted by authorities from various areas of the city last week of which 10 were found unsafe.Five samples of masala were also having monosodium glutamate without proper label declaration which is an offence under the category of misbranding, they said.A number of states including Kerala and Haryana have initiated steps on the Maggi issue.The probe into alleged lapses of food safety standards has already been expanded to test Maggi noodle samples from across the country following detection of monosodium glutamate and lead in excess of the prescribed limit in the noodles.However, Nestle India claimed it has got samples tested in an external laboratory as well as in-house and that the product was found “safe to eat”.

IIIT-Allahabad dismisses Associate Professor accused of sexual harassment

The allegations were levelled by an M Tech student in May last year who also later lodged an FIR at Dhoomanganj police station of the city.

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A year after he was accused of sexual harassment by a student, an Associate Professor has been sacked by Indian Institute for Information Technology- Allahabad (IIIT-A) as a probe panel found his response unsatisfactory.”The decision, taken by the IIIT-A Board of Management, has been communicated to Associate Professor C V S Shiva Prasad by the institute’s Director Somnath Biswas vide letter dated May 28,” the institute’s spokesman Pankaj Mishra said.The allegations were levelled by an M Tech student in May last year who also later lodged an FIR at Dhoomanganj police station of the city.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Associate Professor, who was the Head of the Department of Bioinformatics, was out of station when the FIR was lodged but he surrendered before police in July and was sent to jail.According to Mishra, who is the Public Relations Officer, the decision to dismiss the faculty member from service was taken after the probe panel set up by the institute to investigate the matter did not receive a satisfactory reply to its numerous notices sent to the Associate Professor.

Supreme Court agrees to hear plea on framing guidelines on birds’ seizure

The PIL of the association, which deals in trade of exotic birds, said there is no standard of conduct or manner of keeping birds or animals for trade or as pet provided under the law.

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The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a plea for framing guidelines on the process to be adopted by police at the time of seizure of birds and animals and prohibiting imposition of “inhumane” conditions of tagging and stamping them.The petition came up for hearing before a vacation bench of justices A K Sikri and U U Lalit who said the matter will be heard after two months.The PIL was filed by Pet Lovers Association in which senior advocate Salman Khurshid appeared along with another petitioner who has questioned the order of the Gujarat High Court.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, the bench asked him and another lawyer Imitiaz Ahmed to withdraw the appeal since they were not party to it before the high court which had observed that “even the birds have fundamental right”.It also said that in the appeal, issues of general nature were raised. It, however, said the other petition in which the issue of law has been raised will be heard after the vacation.The PIL of the association, which deals in trade of exotic birds, said there is no standard of conduct or manner of keeping birds or animals for trade or as pet provided under the law.It asked the court’s direction to the government to issue instructions to police officials of all the states, districts and police stations “not to illegally harass” its members who are carrying their trades in accordance with the law.The plea sought direction to the government and Ministry of Environment and Forests “to frame guidelines for proper treatment and care of seized birds and animals pending disposal of the cases before the courts”.The petition also sought action against some NGOs for allegedly “misappropriating and illegally retaining birds and animals lawfully belonging to pet lovers and pet shop owners”.It sought direction that imposition of inhumane conditions such as ringing, tagging and stamping of birds are prohibited.The plea said that entrusting of seized birds and animals pending disposal of the cases to organisation on animal care is “wholly illegal and without any authority under law”.”Moreover consequent to the entrusting of such seized birds and animals, such organisations raise bills running into several lakhs from the pet owners for keeping the birds and animals in their custody. This commercial nexus of raising bills by such organisations from the pet owners underlines a deeper malaise that has inter-state ramification,” it claimed.It said that no successful prosecutions are reported and police are used only for harassing innocent persons.”Since the seizure involves live animals, many being extremely vulnerable to inappropriate diet and conditions of accommodation, the danger to their well-being is even greater,” the petitioner said.The petitioner association said earlier the NGOs had seized birds of different pet shop owners and the animals were illegally entrusted to organisations which exploited the pet lovers and owners for commercial benefit.It said the association and other pet shop owners dealing in trade of exotic birds were repeatedly harassed by the NGO and police who are “consistently indulging in such illegal raids and activities whereby they take away birds and animals belonging to several individuals including the petitioners and thereafter fail to return the seized birds and animals”.

Top quality masks, anti-UV glasses for Delhi traffic cops to brave pollution and heat

The first batch of about 200 personnel who man major traffic intersections and rotaries in the city has already been provided with these masks and sunglasses.

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In some good news for those Delhi Traffic Police personnel braving the harsh sun and pollution while managing traffic, the department has decided to equip them with standard quality breathing masks and ultraviolet (UV) protected sunglasses.The first batch of about 200 personnel who man major traffic intersections and rotaries in the city has already been provided with these masks and sunglasses.Senior officers will review the use of the gear before providing them to all those on field duty.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We have provided standard quality breathing masks and UV protection sunglasses to the first batch who have to do continuous duty under scorching sun, and dusty atmosphere. The good thing about this anti-UV sunglasses is that it could even be worn over power glasses,” said Special Commissioner (Traffic) Muktesh Chander.The breathing mask comes with a replaceable filter which can be changed after certain man hours.”This mask will save our personnel from inhaling polluted air and dust particles while performing their duty at busy traffic intersections. We have provided 200 masks and sunglasses to as many personnel in the first phase,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Sandeep Goel.While rising levels of pollution in the national capital have always been a cause of concern, rising temperature has put Delhi at high risk of ultraviolet (UV) rays with the city receiving alarming levels of radiation this season.According to System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting Research (SAFAR), the city recorded 8.6 on the UV index on Tuesday while it was 8.2 on Wednesday afternoon.The 1-4 range on the UV index is considered as no risk, while 4-5 and 5-7 are considered as low and medium risk respectively while 7-10 is classified as high risk range.While prolonged human exposure to air pollution can lead to chronic respiratory, lung cancer and acute respiratory infections, solar UV radiation contact may result in acute and chronic health effects on the skin, eye and immune system.Sunburn (erythema) is the commonly known acute effect of excessive UV radiation exposure.

Hindu Mazdoor Sabha to strike against Centre’s plan of liberalising FDI in railways

HMS FDI will lead to complete control of private parties over railway management and insisted the decision be rolled back.

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Voicing concern over Centre’s plan to introduce reforms in labour laws and liberalise FDI in railways, Hind Mazdoor Sabha has announced a nationwide indefinite strike of railway workers in November.It will be the first general strike by railway workers in 41 years. Employees of other Central Government establishments are likely to join the stir.”Amendments planned by the Centre to labour laws will paralyse workers as they won’t be able to form unions. If anyone tries to raise demands through strike, their protest will be termed illegal. They will be punished, penalized.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Keeping in mind dilution of labour laws and liberalization of FDI in railways in addition to our 34 other demands, we have decided to call the strike across India,” HMS General Secretary Harbhajan Singh Sidhu said, referring to the amendments proposed to the Industrial Disputes Act and Centre’s plan to allow 100 per cent FDI in railways.Sidhu said allowing FDI will lead to complete control of private parties over railway management and insisted the decision be rolled back.HMS’s 34-point charter of demands include removing alleged anomalies in Sixth Pay Commission, imposing ban on outsourcing regular works on contract like track maintenance and recruiting personnel.Sidhu said employees from departments of defence, postal services, coal, civil aviation, port and dock, income and sales tax too will join the railway men in the strike.HMS said Indian Railway employees had last called for a strike in 1974. Around 17 lakh workers were believed to have participated in the 20-day strike affecting services.”There has been no strike in Indian Railways after 1974. Whenever we announced battles, the Indian Government did accept our demands. But the Government is meting injustice to workers leading to our decision to go on strike,” Sidhu added.

Nepal earthquake: Kathmandu welcomes and thanks India for rescue operations, says UN

United Nations: A top UN official has lauded India’s first response and reconstruction assistance to Nepal following a devastating earthquake in April that killed nearly 9,000 people, saying the help has been welcomed by Kathmandu.

“India and China are very very present in the reconstruction effort. We have seen the Indian armed forces providing the first response,” UN Development Programme Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau for Policy and Programme Support Magdy Martínez-Solimán told reporters during a briefing about his mission to areas of devastation in Nepal and “daunting challenges.”

He said the Nepali airport was “literally occupied” by the Indian military aircraft and helicopters that provided support to the Nepalese armed forces after the April 25 temblor.

Reuters image.Reuters image.

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India’s help has “been very welcome” by Nepal, he said.

The first flight from India was dispatched with relief material within four hours of the quake and there were nonstop sorties of aircraft carrying 550 tonnes of relief material.

The Indian Army operated 13 helicopters from Kathmandu and Pokhara and 16 teams of the National Disaster Reaction Force, comprising over 700 trained personnel, were deployed.

Additionaly, 18 army engineering team were deployed and the Indian Army had set up three field hospitals and the Air Force deployed a rapid action team.

The senior UN development official drew attention to the post-earthquake recovery and reconstruction needs of more than 500,000 homes and cultural heritage sites in the rural areas.

Martínez-Solimán said the “good news” is that large infrastructure structures such as the main airport, dams, communications and electricity networks had largely survived the twin earthquakes that hit Nepal.

He said an official assessment of the damage is underway and would be ready by early July.

He described “immense” damage to homes in rural areas, as well as to cultural and historical heritage such as temples, upon which Nepal’s economy depends.

The UNDP official said his agency estimated that USD175 million was needed to reconstruct the homes, which reflected a solid case for “building back better.”

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, about 2.8 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance with over 860,000 people in immediate need due to loss of shelter, limited road access and poverty.

The total number of casualties now stands at 8,669 with 384 people still missing, OCHA said.

The UNDP official said that the Chinese help in rescue and relief efforts has also been appreciated.

Martínez-Solimá’s visit was part of UNDP’s push to hash out a recovery and reconstruction plan for Nepal that protects and restores infrastructure, services and livelihoods, even as immediate efforts to meet people’s most basic needs continue.

Meanwhile, a month after the first of the two earthquakes hit Nepal, the UN Children’s Fund warned some 70,000 children are at risk of malnutrition and require urgent support, including 15,000 children in 14 of the worst-hit districts who need therapeutic foods –- like nutrient-rich peanut paste -– for the treatment of severe acute malnutrition.

UNICEF’s Representative in Nepal Tomoo Hozumi said in a statement that the agency is working “double speed with our partners to provide urgent feeding and care to protect the lives of these children and to build their resistance against diseases, especially water-borne diseases, during the upcoming monsoon season.”

UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nepal Jamie McGoldrick, said “substantial progress” to reach the survivors has been made and “considering the conditions and complexities, we are now well-positioned to assist all the affected communities.”

The World Food Programme said nearly 2 million people have received food assistance and a new phase of response dubbed ‘Operation Mountain Express’ is underway to reach people in high-altitude villages.

The coming monsoon season in Nepal is adding further urgency to relief operations because heavy rains expected from June will curtail access to remote rural areas.

PTI

Women rights group protest move to ‘legalise’ prostitution

New Delhi: Women rights groups from across the country on Tuesday joined hands to oppose tooth and nail any move to ‘legalise’ prostitution.

The agitating members including victims and survivors of sex trafficking, trade unions, political parties, NGOs of various social movements met with UN Women’s Representative for India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Maldives, Rebecca Tavares in the national capital, to put forth their protest.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

“We demanded three things from UN Women. The first a sort of unofficial note which the UN Women is claiming was emailed to a whole bunch of NGOs,” said Ruchira Gupta, Founder Apne Aap Women Worldwide, an anti-sex trafficking NGO.

The note, issued in October 2013 from the UN Women office in New York supports the “legalisation and decriminalisation” of brothel-keeping, pimping and sex-buying as part of an “overall legitimisation” of the commercial sex industry.

“Since the note was not on official UN Women letterhead, UN Women claims it is an ‘unofficial’ document. But this note remain an uncontested de facto official position of UN Women,” Gupta claimed.

The rights groups shed light on the fact that UNAIDS briefing on legal status of sex work (February 2014) cite the ‘unofficial’ UN Women note as a proof of agreement on efforts to promote legalisation of pimping, brothel-keeping, the industry of prostitution and decriminalising the entire sex trade.

Gupta after meeting Tavares claimed that “The UN Women representative clearly said the UN mandate is to protect girls and women and work towards their development. The UN will not do anything that will be detrimental to the cause of the welfare and development of women. She (Tavares) said she will take up the issue with her colleagues at the UN.”

A letter addressed to Tavares, signed by representatives of all rights groups, was also submitted, asking for an official stance from UN Women on prostitution in alignment with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 6 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the UN Protocol to end Trafficking in persons.

“Our second demand was that UN Women invest in the prevention of sex trafficking and prostitution by shifting budgets towards risk groups who are trafficked and prostituted and towards policies and budgetary frame works in the welfare state which will then reach the most marginalised groups of girls and women who are the most trafficked,” said Jagmati Sangwan, General Secretary, All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA).

“The third demand is that UN Women talk to UN AIDS which has also launched an AIDS prevention programme where they are asking for legalising pimping and brothel keeping and advertisement of sexual services to ask them to change this policy and make it more gender sensitive and prevent the trafficking of women and girls and also AIDS among them,” said Ishita Mukherjee, Director, Calcutta University Women’s Resource Centre and member of AIDWA.

These women groups have questioned the government’s stand on the issue of prostitution and welfare schemes for victims and children of prostitution.

“The chairperson of the Government’s National Women’s Commission commented on legalisation of prostitution and women’s rights groups have vehemently opposed it. The chairperson said that it was her personal opinion but this government has not cleared its stand on this issue,” Sangwan said.

PTI

Ghaziabad: 51 street vendors booked for thrashing policemen

The policemen warned the fruit vendors to shift their handcarts back to clear the road, following which an argument started between the two sides.

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Loni police has booked 51 street fruit vendors for allegedly beating up two policemen who were engaged in decongesting a traffic jam at Loni intersection.Loni Circle Deputy Superintendent of Police Anil Yadav said the incident occurred yesterday when Sub Inspector Sukhpal Singh and Constable Sanjeev, a part of Leopard Mobile Patrol Party, were trying to decongest a traffic jam.The policemen warned the fruit vendors to shift their handcarts back to clear the road, following which an argument started between the two sides, Yadav said. Both police officials nabbed a fruit seller identified as Shahid and asked him to accompany them to the police station.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Meanwhile, several other vendors had assembled on the spot and they brutally thrashed the two policemen, he said, adding, they also started pelting stones at the duo.Upon receiving information, SHO Loni police station Raj Kumar Yadav reached the spot with police force and lathicharged the agitating mob to disperse it, he added.An FIR has been registered against 21 identified persons and 30 unknown persons for the attack. Deputy SP Yadav said police is raiding hideouts of the vendors and the culprits will be arrested soon.

Rajasthan: Four killed in Dalit-Jat clash over disputed land; one arrested

The reason behind the clash is 24 bigahs of land that was claimed by Ratnaram Meghwal, Gutaram Meghwal and Khemaram Meghwal, but disputed by the family of Chimnaram Jat.

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dna Research & Archives
After four Dalits were killed by Jats in Rajasthan’s Nagaur district, scores of Dalits have fled their homes fearing more such clashes. Six women of the Meghwal Dalit community were injured during the clashes and they alleged that Jats had tried to rape them.The reason behind the clash is 24 bigahs of land that was claimed by Ratnaram Meghwal, Gutaram Meghwal and Khemaram Meghwal, but disputed by the family of Chimnaram Jat. On Thursday morning, supporters of Chimanaram Jat clashed with Dalits on the disputed land where Ratanram Meghwal’s house his built, said police officer Purna Ram. When the battle intensified, Meghwal’s supporters allegedly opened fire.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>This in turn enraged Jats and hundreds of them gathered in the common assembly area and a war-like situation was created with the Jats armed with guns and axes rode dozens of tractors towards the disputed land. The two groups exchanged fire. Some Dalits were mowed down with moving tractors reportedly; thirteen people were injured in the clash. They were admitted to Jawarharlal Nehru Hospital in Ajmer. Four Dalit women being treated at the hospital in Ajmer alleged they were mercilessly beaten and molested by Jat men.Senior Dalit leaders have said that the dead bodies of their community members will not be taken back from the mortuary until the 13 Jat men named in the FIR were arrested.However, one of the accused men was arrested on Saturday.”One of the accused identified as Ramkumar was arrested today while others are absconding and being searched,” SP Nagaur Raghvendra Suhasa said.Meanwhile, Home Minister of Rajasthan Gulab Chand Kataria said that the police have no magical want to arrest the accused.”We do not have a magical want,” Kataria told reporters in Udaipur when asked about the development in the case.On the other hand, People’s Union for Civil Liberties demanded a CBI inquiry in the case saying it was a case of atrocities against Dalits.”The village panchayat wanted to grab the land of Dalits. The Dalit women were also targeted and we demand from the police to add section of rape,” a PUCL statement said.(With Agency Inputs)

Jammu & Kashmir: 21 dead, 30 injured as bus falls into gorge in Udhampur

21 people died and at least 30 others were injured, six of them critically, when a bus they were travelling in rolled down into a deep gorge in Udhampur district of Jammu and Kashmir on Monday.

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21 people died and at least 30 others were injured, six of them critically, when a bus they were travelling in rolled down into a deep gorge in Udhampur district of Jammu and Kashmir on Monday.The passenger bus, which was on its way to Udhampur from Latti belt, skidded off the road and rolled down into the gorge in Maroti belt in the district, officials said.As many as 21 people have died and 30 others are injured, 6 of them critically, in the mishap, SP, Udhampur, Mohd Suleman Choudhary said.The number of causalities is expected to increase, he said, adding, 21 bodies have so far been recovered. The injured are being hospitalised and choppers have been requisitioned to airlift the critically injured people to Government Medical College (GMC) hospital in Jammu from Mantalie belt of Udhampur. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Modi govt seeking UN intervention in Lakhvi case: Is India barking up wrong tree?

India has sought the United Nations’ intervention over the issue of LeT commander Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi’s release from jail. But is it a sound move by India considering the fact that India has for decades consistently opposed involvement of non-regional powers and intervention of ‘third parties’ in its bilateral dispute with Pakistan?

An even larger question is this: hasn’t the Modi government with this move reversed India’s Pakistan policy as far as the issue of third parties’ involvement in India-Pakistan dispute is concerned?

It is a historical fact that India and Pakistan have been at two opposite ends of the spectrum on the role of third parties in their bilateral dispute. In fact, it has been Pakistan that has been seeking at the drop of a hat the intervention of third parties like the UN, the United States and even China but India has summarily rejected Pakistan’s moves in this context.

Lakhvi. AFP.Lakhvi. AFP.

Lakhvi. AFP.

By seeking the UN intervention in the matter of Lakhvi hasn’t India played in the hands of Pakistan?

The news development can be summarized as follows. India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Asoke Mukherjee has written a letter to the current Chair of the UN Sanctions Committee Jim McLay and pointed out that Lakhvi’s release by a Pakistani court on 9 April was in violation of UN Resolution number 1267 which deals with designated entities and individuals. The Indian envoy has also mentioned that even the bail amount provided was against the sanctions’ committee rule which calls for freezing the funds and other financial assets or economic resources of designated individuals and entities.

More about the UN Resolution 1267 can be read here.

While there can be no dispute that the Indian envoy’s objection to Lakhvi’s release is a relevant point. His questioning of the source of money for Lakhvi for furnishing the bail bond considering that his and his outfit’s funding and financial resources are supposed to be frozen is even more hard-hitting and valid.

The issue here is not whether India is raising valid points. The issue is where this issue is being raised? Is India barking up the wrong tree? If it isn’t, is this move in sync with India’s decades-old Pakistan policy in terms of third party involvement?

The move appears to be all the more baffling as the BJP has consistently castigated India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, one of the tallest leaders of the Congress, for approaching the UN over the issue of Kashmir decades ago.

A possible justification of the Narendra Modi government’s move can be that it is a wise move because the UN has always stood with anti-terror policies. Therefore, the UN is the right forum for taking up the Lakhvi issue!

However, this writer cannot see in which way the above move can help India. On the contrary, it will give a handle to Pakistan in all future scenarios as this is precisely what the Pakistan government has been asking for and India has been opposing: intervention of the UN or any other third party in bilateral issues between India and Pakistan.

It will be equally interesting to know how many times and against how many Pakistan-based terrorists has India moved the UN invoking UN resolution 1267.

Three most important points about UN Resolution 1267 are as follows:
– Assets Freeze: freeze without delay the funds and other financial assets or economic resources of designated individuals and entities.
– Travel Ban: prevent the entry into or transit through their territories by designated individuals.
– Arms Embargo: prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale and transfer from their territories or by their nationals outside their territories, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, of arms and related materiel of all types, spare parts, and technical advice, assistance, or training related to military activities, to designated individuals and entities.

This UN resolution is high on rhetoric but low on deliverability. The truth is that since it was adopted by the UN well over fifteen years ago precious little has been achieved under this rubric by the international community.

But this is a highly complicated issue. As I said before the facts of the case presented by India are unquestionable. The question is whether knocking the UN door over the Lakhvi issue doesn’t turn the decades-old India’s Pakistan policy on its head?

Here is one more question. Won’t it have been a better approach for India to invoke UN Resolution 1267 per se against Pakistan in a more general way rather than seeking UN intervention in the particular case of Lakhvi?

Customs checks hold up relief for Nepal quake victims – U.N. | Reuters

KATHMANDU (Reuters) – Customs inspections at Kathmandu airport are holding up vital relief supplies for earthquake survivors in Nepal, a U.N. official said on Saturday, as the death toll from the disaster a week ago passed 6,600.

United Nations Resident Representative Jamie McGoldrick said the government must loosen its normal customs restrictions to deal with the increasing flow of relief material now pouring in from abroad and piling up at the airport.

But the government, complaining it has received such unneeded supplies as tuna and mayonnaise, insisted its customs agents had to check all emergency shipments.

U.S. military aircraft and personnel due to arrive on Saturday to help ferry relief supplies to stricken areas outside the capital were delayed and tentatively scheduled to arrive on Sunday, a U.S. Marines spokeswoman said.

“They should not be using peacetime customs methodology,” the U.N.’s McGoldrick said. Instead, he argued, all relief material should get a blanket exemption from checks on arrival.

Nepal lifted import taxes on tarpaulins and tents on Friday but a home ministry spokesman, Laxmi Prasad Dhakal, said all goods coming in from overseas had to be inspected. “This is something we need to do,” he said.

Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat appealed on Friday to international donors to send tents, tarpaulins and basic food supplies and said some of the items received were of no use.

“We have received things like tuna fish and mayonnaise. What good are those things for us? We need grains, salt and sugar,” he told reporters.

TRUCKS AND DRIVERS

Some survivors held a candle-light ceremony in Kathmandu on Saturday to mark the passing of one week since the disaster, many of them breaking down in tears as they prayed.

Marine Brigadier General Paul Kennedy said the delayed U.S. contingent included at least 100 U.S. soldiers, lifting equipment and six military aircraft, two of them helicopters.

He also warned against bottlenecks at Kathmandu airport, saying: “What you don’t want to do is build up a mountain of supplies” that block space for planes or more supplies.

Nepali government officials have said efforts to step up the pace of delivery of relief material to remote areas were also frustrated by a shortage of supply trucks and drivers, many of whom had returned to their villages to help their families.

“Our granaries are full and we have ample food stock, but we are not able to transport supplies at a faster pace,” said Shrimani Raj Khanal, a manager at the Nepal Food Corp.

Army helicopters have air-dropped instant noodles and biscuits to remote communities but people need rice and other ingredients to cook a proper meal, he said.

The government said the death toll from last Saturday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake had reached 6,655 and that more than 14,000 people were injured.

In Kathmandu, teams with sniffer dogs slowly searched through ruined buildings for bodies still buried in the rubble. Elsewhere, volunteers stacked up bricks recovered from the debris to begin the slow process of reconstruction.

Some agencies are beginning to look for demolition crews capable of bringing down thousands of dangerous buildings.

MONSOON AND DISEASE

Many Nepalis have been sleeping in the open since the quake, with survivors afraid to return to their homes because of powerful aftershocks. Tents have been pitched in Kathmandu’s main sports stadium and on its golf course.

According to the United Nations, 600,000 houses have been destroyed or damaged.

The United Nations said 8 million of Nepal’s 28 million people were affected, with at least 2 million needing tents, water, food and medicines over the next three months.

The top priorities now are getting aid and shelter to people before the monsoon season starts within weeks and adds to the difficulty in distributing relief supplies, World Food Programme executive director Ertharin Cousin told Reuters.

“Our fear is the monsoon will come early,” she said.

Disease is also a worry. “Hospitals are overflowing, water is scarce, bodies are still buried under the rubble and people are still sleeping in the open,” Rownak Khan, UNICEF’s deputy representative in Nepal, said in a statement.

“This is a perfect breeding ground for diseases.”

(Additional reporting by Ross Adkin; Writing by Raju Gopalakrishnan; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Greater UN responsiveness to Myanmar reforms needed: India

United Nations: India has called for the UN to demonstrate “greater responsiveness” to the reforms being implemented by the Myanmar government and discontinue annual resolutions on the human rights situation in the country.

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Asoke Mukerji said that India welcomes the “significant” political and economic reforms the government of Myanmar has instituted over the last few years.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

“Moving forward, the UN must also demonstrate greater responsiveness to the reforms being implemented by the Government of Myanmar. We would urge member states to agree to the discontinuation of annual resolutions on the human rights situation in Myanmar.

“This would convey the world community’s strong support and encouragement for the reform measures that are already underway in Myanmar,” Mukerji said during a meeting of the ‘Partnership Group for Peace, Development and Democracy in Myanmar’ yesterday.

As per the resolution on the human rights situation in Myanmar that has been tabled since November 2011, the General Assembly would express grave concern about violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Myanmar, while recognising the government’s commitment to implementing reforms.

India has previously also called for the discontinuation of the resolution.

A constructive engagement of the international community with Myanmar at this juncture would strengthen the hands of the government and encourage stakeholders to resolve their differences through healthy debate and peaceful negotiations, he said.

In previous years, several other nations have also said that there is no need for the resolution in future given the positive economic and political development occurring in Myanmar.

Mukerji said while there still are challenging tasks before the Myanmar government, it has demonstrated its resolve to face the challenges to reach the targets that they have set.

He said India welcomes the signing of a draft Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) between the Myanmar Government’s Union Peace Making Work Committee (UPWC) and the ethnic armed groups Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT).

“As a close and friendly neighbour, India remains committed to extending all possible assistance and support to the process of national reconciliation and the further strengthening of democracy in Myanmar,” he said.

On the situation in the Rakhine State, Mukerji said India has noted the steps taken towards restoration of law and order.

India has extended assistance for development efforts in the Rakhine State, including USD 300 million out of the total development assistance of USD 1.75 billion to Myanmar.

Mukerji also voiced appreciation for the “tireless efforts” of Ambassador Vijay Nambiar, Special Adviser of the Secretary General for Myanmar and his team.

PTI

Anti-Naxal operations: Forces in 10 states put on alert

The forces have also been asked not to deploy large contingents in the forests as during summers the jungles get de-foliated and hence they are visible from a long distance, inviting attacks.

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Security forces operating in ten Naxal-affected states have been asked to maintain a high degree of “alert” in view of violent counter-offensive launched by the left wing extremists, which led to the killing of seven Chhattisgarh policemen on Saturday.Official sources said the Naxals had lauched their Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign (TCOC) in late March in these areas.The offensive has now been heralded with the first big attack on security forces as they killed seven STF policemen and injured about a dozen others in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh on Saturday.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The TCOC is the about 3-4 months time period beginning March-April when armed Naxal cadres undertake special violent action against security forces and others to gain ground, re-group and strategise their plan of action before the onset of summer.”The forces were put on alert in March when the annual TCOC begins. But, with this major attack on forces in Chhattisgarh yesterday, the alert has been re-issued and reinforced to the forces,” sources in the security establishment said.CRPF Special Director General (Operations) K Durga Prasad on Sunday rushed to Chhattisgarh’s capital Raipur to review security arrangements. They said under the new instructions, the Central Reserve Police Force, other paramilitary forces and state police units have been asked to deploy better and clever strategies to ensure that the Naxals are not able to spring any surprise.”It includes fortifying security forces’ camps, undertaking special intelligence-based operations and ensuring covert tactics while operations are undertaken in the ten Naxal affected states of the country,” they said.The forces have also been asked not to deploy large contingents in the forests as during summers the jungles get de-foliated and hence they are visible from a long distance, inviting attacks.Under the latest instructions, the CRPF and other state police forces have been asked to take the help of the newly operationalised Unmaned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) base from Bhilai in Chhattisgarh to conduct reconnaissance of target areas.On Saturday, seven policemen were killed and a dozen injured when Naxals ambushed them, triggering a gunbattle in the dense forests of Naxal hotbed of Sukma district in Chhattisgarh. The two-hour gunbattle took place in the worst-affected Pidmel-Polampalli area of the district when a squad of state police Special Task Force (STF) was out for operations.

Another Naxal attack: 17 vehicles torched at mining site in Kanker

The fresh attack on the trucks come 24 hours after 7 policemen were killed in a naxal attack in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district on Saturday.

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A day after killing seven policemen in an ambush in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district, the Naxals on Sunday allegedly set ablaze at least 17 vehicles engaged in mining work in insurgency-hit Kanker district, police said. No one was hurt in the incident, they said.A group of armed Naxals raided the Barbaspur iron ore mining site under the limits of Korar police station and after threatening the labourers, they torched 17 vehicles engaged in mining work, Kanker Superintendent of Police Jitendera Singh Meena said. After torching the vehicles, the Maoists fled into the forest, he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On getting information about the incident, a police team was immediately rushed to the spot which found the vehicles, including trucks, mining machineries and JCB, burnt, he said. A search operation has been launched in the region to nab the ultras involved in the incident, the SP added.The extremists are reportedly opposing iron ore mining in the area being done by Neco Jayaswal Company.Notably, four officials of Neco Jayaswal company, including a general manager, were kidnapped on April 1 by Naxals from a separate iron ore reserve – Chargaon in Kanker district. However, they were later released the same day.Yesterday, seven STF personnel were killed and ten others injured when Naxals ambushed them in the forests of Pidmel village under Polampalli police station limits of Sukma district, around 450 km from the state capital Raipur. The deceased included a platoon commander-ranked officer.

Two held for gangraping woman in Thane

Two men were arrested for allegedly gangraping a 21-year-old woman from Kasara village.

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Two men were arrested for allegedly gangraping a 21-year-old woman from Kasara village, police said on Wednesday.The incident occurred on Tuesday when the victim was going to her aunt’s house in Wadi from Devul. She was walking alongside a railway track when she was waylaid by two men, who took her to a secluded place and allegedly gangraped her, Kasara police station inspector Ajay Vasave said.The girl somehow managed to rescue and reached home in the evening where she narrated the incident to her parents, following which a complaint was lodged with the police, the officer said. Police have nabbed Ramesh Sable, 22, while the other accused, identified as Sachin Wasave, is at large and a manhunt was launched to arrest him. The two have been booked under IPC section 376 (rape), 506 (criminal intimidation) and further investigation into the matter was on, he added.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In another incident, a youth allegedly raped a minor girl in Usgaon village on Sunday while she had gone out of her house to answer nature’s call, sub-inspector of Ganeshpuri police station, A B Ravan said. The youth took her into the jungles and repeatedly raped her, he said, adding, the family of the victim filed a case on Tuesday.The accused has been identified was Ramesh Wanzari from Vasai area, who is at large and efforts are on to nab him, the officer added.

India calls for meaningful dialogue among nations possessing nuclear weapons

United Nations: India has suggested a “meaningful dialogue” among all nations possessing nuclear weapons to build trust and confidence and to reduce the salience of atomic weapons in security doctrines.

India at UN called for dialogue among nations possessing nuclear weapons. Reuters

India at UN called for dialogue among nations possessing nuclear weapons. Reuters

India’s Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament Ambassador DB Venkatesh Varma on Tuesday said India has supported the proposal put forward by the Non-Aligned Movement for the Conference on Disarmament to commence talks on a Comprehensive Nuclear Weapons Convention.

“We have called for a meaningful dialogue amongst all states possessing nuclear weapons to build trust and confidence and for reducing the salience of nuclear weapons in international affairs and security doctrines,” Varma said at a session of the UN Disarmament Commission (UNDC).

“India attaches the highest priority to global, non-discriminatory, verifiable nuclear disarmament and the complete elimination of nuclear weapons in a time bound manner,” he said.

He said the initiation and adoption of Confidence Building Measures must remain the prerogative of states concerned and subject to their consent and must be implemented in a manner that relevant states are comfortable with.

Varma said that India participated in the Vienna Conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons in the expectation that the renewed attention on the most serious threat to the survival of mankind posed by the use of nuclear weapons would help generate momentum for restraints on its use and correct an imbalance in the international legal discourse that has focussed exclusively on restraints on possession.

He stressed that the current difficulties of the UNDC relate less to any inherent deficiencies in the machinery and more to the lack of political will of member states to invest in multilateral outcomes that would be of enduring value to the entire international community.

“At a time of growing mistrust and rising international tensions, the role of this Commission as a platform for dialogue and cooperation assumes greater significance. The Commission can do more to improve it functioning by undertaking focused and result oriented discussions on items on its agenda,” he said.

India has voiced support to any addition to the Commission’s 2015 agenda if it helps to expand the ground for consensus building and helps the international community respond in a meaningful manner to new and emerging challenges relevant to the disarmament agenda.

With a view to advancing discussions despite its 15-year impasse on adopting concrete guidelines, the Disarmament Commission succeeded after two days of intense negotiations, in approving a provisional agenda for the current three-year cycle.

It agreed to include items for achieving the objective of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and on practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons.

PTI

Prisoner commits suicide in Nashik jail

A 27-year-old prisoner allegedly committed suicide at the Nashik Road Central jail in the wee hours on Monday.

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A 27-year-old prisoner allegedly committed suicide at the Nashik Road Central jail in the wee hours on Monday, police said.Prahlad Rokade hanged himself from a toilet window using a rope made out of a bed-sheet in barrack No 2 of the jail in North Maharashtra, Nashik Road Police Station Inspector Narayan Nyahalde said. His body has been sent for post-mortem to Nashik Civil Hospital, he said.On December 29 last year, Rokade was convicted in a rape case and was undergoing sentence in Nashik.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Judges conference: SC Bar Association says will oppose any wrongdoing to judiciary

Expressing solidarity with the judiciary, the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) on Saturday said it would oppose any wrong done to judges or the judicial system.

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Expressing solidarity with the judiciary, the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) on Saturday said it would oppose any wrong done to judges or the judicial system.”Judiciary in this country is one of the most loved institutions that we have and Bar of the entire country will stand up, if any kind of wrong is done to the judges or judiciary”, the SCBA President and senior advocate Dushyant Dave said at a function organised by the lawyers’ body to felicitate apex court judges and 24 chief justices of High Courts here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said the bench could also gain from the experience of “elder members of Bar” like Ram Jethmalani, F S Nariman and P P Rao and urged Chief Justice of India H L Dattu to involve the bar more in the decision-making process.Addressing the gathering, Manjula Chellur, the first woman Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court, said “the Bench needs support of Bar for effective functioning. … We are one family.”Top judges of the country are in the capital to take part in a three-day-long judges conference to deal with problems faced by judiciary. The holding of the conference during holy weekend for Christians has created a huge controversy.

47 children hospitalised after consuming mid-day meal in Unnao, UP

Forty-seven children were hospitalised on Saturday when some students were taken ill after consuming mid-day meals (MDM) at a primary school in Ajgain area, an education department official said.

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Forty-seven children were hospitalised on Saturday when some students were taken ill after consuming mid-day meals (MDM) at a primary school in Ajgain area, an education department official said.Some children were taken ill and complained of vomiting after eating the food served under mid-day meal at the primary school in Sunderpur village in Hassanganj tehsil, District Basic Education Officer Mukesh Kumar Singh said.He said a team was sent and all 47 students were admitted to community health center at Nawabganj from where they were released after treatment. Singh said a sample of food served has been taken and a case has been lodged against the cook.Chief Medical Officer Geeta Yadav said prima facie it seemed to be the case of food poisoning.

Mid-day meal horror: 66 children and head cook fall ill after eating meal

At least 66 students and a head cook today fell ill after eating mid-day meal at a primary school here in Bihar’s Vishali district.

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File Photo

At least 66 students and a head cook today fell ill after eating mid-day meal at a primary school here in Bihar’s Vishali district.The children, students of class one to five, began vomiting and fell unconscious after eating the meal, head mistress of Govindpur Sanduari Primary School Sunita Kumari said. The head cook, who had tasted the food before serving it to the children, too started vomiting and fell unconscious, she said.The principal said she had immediately informed all district officials, including district magistrate and district education officer, about the incident. The children were rushed by their guardians to Hajipur Sadar hospital, whose deputy superintendent U P Verma said they were out of danger.District Magistrate Vinod Gunjal, SP Chandrika Prasad, sub-divisional officer Somesh Bahadur Mathur and district education officer Nayan Kumar Verma visited the hospital and supervised their treatment. Gunjal later set up an inquiry committee headed by civil SDO Hajipur, S B Mathur and the DEO to probe the incident.

Peacekeeping operations should not become self-perpetuating enterprises: India tells UN

United Nations: India has told a special UN committee that peacekeeping operations should not become “self-perpetuating enterprises” with the Security Council “routinely” extending their mandates as it expressed concern over the deteriorating situation of such operations.

India told UN that peacekeeping operations should not become. Reuters

India told UN that peacekeeping operations should not become self-perpetuating enterprises. Reuters

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Asoke Kumar Mukerji said at the annual debate of the UN Special Committee for Peacekeeping Operations (C34) at the United Nations on Tuesday that the context of the conflicts in which UN peacekeepers are deployed today is radically different from the past.

“However, it is not clear whether the Security Council has fully examined these changes before somewhat routinely extending peacekeeping operations mandates. The C34 must ensure that PKOs do not become self-perpetuating enterprises,” he said, adding that the situation regarding UN peacekeeping operations since 2014 has “only deteriorated”.

Mukerjee also said that in peacekeeping operations in the Congo, South Sudan and the Golan there has not been any “specific concrete action” by the United Nations, led by the Security Council, to bring those who attack UN peacekeepers to justice.

He underlined that lack of action to hold those responsible reflects poorly on the Security Council.

“Any lack of action by member states to penalize those who attack UN peacekeepers reflects poorly on the Security Council.

“If the Security Council fails to deter such attacks, the very institution of UN peacekeeping will continue to be targeted across the world, with dangerous implications for the maintenance of international peace and security,” he said.

Mukerjee said that the C34 should ask for a detailed report from the Security Council on what steps it has taken to enforce its resolutions on those who have targeted UN peacekeeping operations.

India is the single largest contributor of troops to UN peacekeeping operations and has actively participated in 11 out of the 15 active peacekeeping operations.

Mukerjee also noted that India’s concerns on mixing the original and new interventionist mandates peacekeeping operations continue to be valid.

He added that it is up to the humanitarian and developmental actors, and not military troops, to carry out activities related to “providing expertise in strengthening the rule of law, disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration, security sector reform.” He said these activities are essentially relevant to peace-building, and not peacekeeping. “The use of the UN’s peace-building and peacekeeping architecture needs to be calibrated by the Council properly,” Mukerjee said.

He stressed that the C34 Committee should call for segregating the roles of traditional peacekeeping functions from the roles of such peacebuilding activities.

“This will place the growing outlay on UN peace operations into proper perspective, and show that costs for our troops are not the primary reason for escalating costs of peacekeeping,” he added.

India also expressed alarm over the lack of any effective action by the Security Council to address the root political causes of the crisis in South Sudan, where UN peacekeepers are laying down their lives to protect civilians in South Sudan.

Mukerjee noted that the Secretary General’s report on peacekeeping operations addresses “protection of civilians” in the different dimensions of UN peacekeeping operations.

He however added that the report speaks glibly of a “whole-of-mission mandate”.

“This begs the question – which mandate? The original mandate, in which troops were contributed to maintain the peace? Or a new mandate, inserted into the original mandate, requiring peacekeepers to fight to enforce the peace? Until the Security Council…consults directly with troop contributing countries that are not members of the Council, this question cannot be answered.”

He stressed that India would like more transparency and information on the use of technologies for peacekeeping operations.

“We would caution that technology is not by itself a substitute for a presence on the ground, nor for the proper functioning of national structures within the territories of member states, which are essential to keep the peace.”

India also proposed construction of a UN Peacekeepers Memorial Wall, with the names of all those UN peacekeepers since 1948
who have laid down their lives “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.”

He said India is ready to contribute materially and conceptually to such a project.

PTI

Woman entitled to additional maintenance under Domestic Violence Act

Batting for a better life for women after separating from the husband, the Bombay high court has said that a woman can seek more maintenance under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (DV Act) of 2005, even if she has been awarded maintenance any under other law.

Representative Picture

Batting for a better life for women after separating from the husband, the Bombay high court has said that a woman can seek more maintenance under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (DV Act) of 2005, even if she has been awarded maintenance any under other law.Justice SB Shukre of the Aurangabad bench of the HC observed that even if an aggrieved woman has been given maintenance under any law, she can seek further maintenance under the DV Act.”Once we consider Section 20(1)(d) of the DV Act, the conclusion would be that an aggrieved person is entitled to claim maintenance under this section in addition to her maintenance right under any other law for the time being in force,” observed justice Shukre in his order passed last week.The HC was hearing an appeal filed by a 31-year-old resident of Gadchiroli challenging the order of a magistrate awarding additional maintenance to his estranged wife, 24, and two-year-old daughter under the DV Act. He was earlier directed to award them maintenance under the Criminal Procedure Code by appropriate court.MP Kariya, the husband’s advocate, argued that the Delhi HC had recently passed an order which said that a woman does not have any right to claim maintenance in a parallel proceeding when she has already availed of maintenance right in an application filed under Section 127 of the Criminal Procedure Code.However, the woman’s advocate PD Rane countered saying that the view taken by the Delhi HC was based upon the consideration of Sections 12 and 19 of the DV Act and it appears that no consideration has been given to the specific provision under Section 20(1)(d) of the DV Act. Section 20 confirms special right of the aggrieved person to claim maintenance either including an order under or in addition to an order of maintenance under section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure or any other law for the time being in force. This means, that even if a woman has been awarded maintenance under the CrPC, the magistrate can still direct the husband to pay additional maintenance under the DV Act.Agreeing with the woman’s advocate, the HC observed: “From perusal of the judgment of Delhi high court, it becomes clear that the said judgment has been rendered without considering the import of Section 21(1) (d) of the DV Act.”Justice Shukre further observed: “Therefore, this section [section 20 of the DV Act] having not been considered by the learned single judge of Delhi high court, in my opinion, no assistance can be sought by the petitioner from this judgment.”

Indian diplomat Atul Khare named UN Under Secretary-General for Field Support

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has appointed senior Indian diplomat Atul Khare as the Under Secretary-General for Field Support to head the department that provides dedicated support to peacekeeping missions around the world.Khare, 55 will succeed Bangladesh’s Ameerah Haq as the Under Secretary-General for Field Support, Department of Field Support (DFS).Khare has been appointed as the head of DFS, which provides dedicated support to peacekeeping field missions and political field missions around the world.The Permanent Mission of India to the UN welcomed the announcement, expressing confidence that Khare will discharge the important responsibilities entrusted to him with complete distinction.A statement issued by Secretary General Ban’s spokesperson said Khare “brings to the position strategic management and innovative reform expertise in both headquarters and field perspective.”Currently providing charitable medical advice in India, Khare has had a long career with the United Nations, most recently as the Assistant Secretary-General leading the Change Management Team (2011-2012) and Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations and Deputy Head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in New York (2010-2011).He was previously Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste and Head of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) at the level of Under Secretary-General (2006-2009). He earlier also worked as Chief of Staff and Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General with the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET).Former Director of The Nehru Centre and Minister (Culture), High Commission of India in London (2005-2006), Khare joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1984 and has served in Indian Missions in Paris, Dakar, Port Louis and London as well as the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations here.