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Kashmir flood victims forced to take shelter in Ahmedabad slum to avoid cold

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According to them, this is the first time when they have been left with no other option than to shift their base due to the nature’s fury.

Kashmir floods

PTI
Hit by severe flood last year followed by extreme cold conditions, at least 400 people from Jammu and Kashmir have been compelled to leave their native place and take refuge in a slum locality in city’s Saraspur area, till the situation improves there.These 60-odd families, after arriving in the city, have taken shelter at an open compound in Saraspur area where they are living in make-shift huts made of plastic sheets. The families belong to places like Badgam, Anantnag, Drass, Leh and Kargil in Jammu and Kashmir.”There are many other families who have been forced to migrate during this winter. We came to Gujarat because we learnt that people here are very friendly. Now, we are expecting some help from them till we are here, as we don’t have money to buy anything,” said a native of Badgam.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to them, this is the first time when they have been left with no other option than to shift their base due to the nature’s fury. “Heavy floods have swept away our homes, farmlands and our businesses. Majority of us are either farmers or craftsmen having very marginal income. Before the government could build homes for us, heavy snowfall started in the Valley, which stalled the construction,” Kargil resident Bashir Ahmed said.”For the very first time, we have to shift our base. We came here one month earlier and are living in this camp, where we don’t have food or water. I urge the local people and leaders to help us as many women and small children are also with us,” he said.According to an Anantnag native, they have been apperhensive of locals’ reaction to their coming here. “The place where we are staying at present is an open ground…. We would be grateful if we get some help.” On learning about their plight, municipal corporator Haji Mirza Baig has come forward to help them.”These people are our guests and it is our duty to help them. Since Saraspur is not in my ward, I have asked my men to go to the spot and find out their problems. I along with other leaders will extend all the help required. I will also talk to local police to ensure their safety,” said Baig, who represents the Sarkhej ward.The families plan to return home in March after cold conditions subside there. According to them, many other families too have taken refuge in other parts of the country.

Modi in Russia: PM Modi takes a jibe at Opposition, says ‘some people always count problems’

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Asserting that India is making attempts to resolve these problems, he said ,”results in this direction are now showing up”.

In an apparent swipe at his detractors back home, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said some people only cry about problems while his government was trying to resolve them. “Yes we also face problems but we are not those who will only cry about the problems. We are finding solutions to the problems we face. “There are some people who all the time are engaged in counting problems,” he said while addressing a ‘Friends of India’ event here. Asserting that India is making attempts to resolve these problems, he said ,”results in this direction are now showing up”. While Modi did not elaborate, he was apparently referring to problems being repeatedly highlighted by Opposition parties. His remarks to a gathering of about 3,000 against the backdrop of the NDA government’s attack on the opposition for stalling the crucial reforms legislations like the GST during the just concluded Parliament session. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Arvind Kejriwal scoffs at BJP for suspending Kirti Azad

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“There is no democracy in BJP. Honest voices are muzzled to protect corruption,” he said in another tweet.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday ridiculed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for suspending its MP, Kirti Azad for raising voices against corruption. “Kirti Azad’s fault was that he raised his voice against corruption. This has left the BJP utterly exposed. BJP is neck deep in corruption,” Kejriwal said in a tweet.”There is no democracy in BJP. Honest voices are muzzled to protect corruption,” he said in another tweet. The BJP today suspended MP Kirti Azad, who was in the line of fire for his tirade against Finance Minister Arun Jaitley over the alleged scams in Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA). “Kirti Azad, Darbhanga MP, is suspended from party with immediate effect for his anti-party activities,” Arun Singh, BJP, National Secretary, said in a statement.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Azad had defied the party chief and went ahead with a press conference on Sunday highlighting corruption allegations linked to the DDCA of which Jaitley was the president for 13 years till 2013.

Crashed plane was airworthy, was flying well: BSF

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Only two days back this aircraft did a good duty and a day back it had carried back officers from Bhuj (from the DG/IG meeting),” BSF Director General D K Pathak said.

The BSF on Wednesday said its crashed Superking aircraft that killed ten of its highly experienced personnel was completely “airworthy” and was flying “very well” as it refuted allegations about any possible defect in the ill-fated plane. “This aircraft was 20-years-old and in the aviation (domain) an aircraft has life till 40-45 years. In the aviation (domain) such a plane is not considered old as required parts are changed from time to time…like engines are overhauled. “A major overhauling of this aircraft’s engines was done at the Beachcraft factory in Canada about six months back.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Only two days back this aircraft did a good duty and a day back it had carried back officers from Bhuj (from the DG/IG meeting),” BSF Director General D K Pathak told reporters here. “There was no problem in the aircraft and it was completely airworthy. I would like to add that till the time an aircraft is airworthy, there is no problem in flying it,” he said. He was speaking after paying the ceremonial last tributes and placing of wreaths on the mortal remains of the ten personnel who were killed in the crash yesterday, at the Safdarjung airport here. The event was also attended by Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Ministers of State for Home Kiren Rijiju and Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary. He said the main probe into the crash is being done by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and that it would be “premature” to speculate on the possible reasons for the air mishap. The Border Security Force Chief said the plane B-200, registered as VT-BSA, was flying about 3-4 days in a week. “As I said, this aircraft has been flying very well…it had been flying three to four days in a week and there was absolutely no problem. Whenever any kind of a snag is reported it is promptly attended to and aircraft is not made airborne until it is certified by the technicians that it is worthy to fly,” he said. The plane, he said, was carrying the stipulated load yesterday and refuted reports that the crash had something to do with excess weight as a few personnel were asked to board it at the last moment. The plane had a capacity to carry 11 passengers, he said. “Even if there is a last moment change in the manifest (travelling passenger’s list) it doesn’t matter because it was carrying the prescribed and authorised load. So, there was no excess load. There was nothing of that sort…even if numbers were increased, it is immaterial. It (B-200) was carrying its required capacity,” he said.

Failure of government’s policies fuelling price rise: Opposition in Lok Sabha

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Government on Tuesday came under attack from the opposition on the issue of price rise with members alleging failure of its macro-economic policies in controlling the spiralling prices particularly of pulses.Citing examples of onion, pulses and tomatoes, TMC MP Saugata Roy said although the government says that inflation has come down, but the prices of essential commodities have continued to rise.He said the government has not been able to pass on the benefit of declining global fuel prices to the consumer. “There is a problem with macro-management. Fuel prices have gone down, but rather than passing on the benefit to people, the Finance Minister sees fuel as a milch cow,” Roy said during a debate on price rise in the Lok Sabha.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On pulses, he said the government should ensure timely import of the commodity in order to keep the prices under control. “I think one major step would be import on time and that too from countries which are closer to ours, like Myanmar,” he said, adding that pulses prices are already very high and was expected to be the steepest this year. Roy asked the government to elaborate the steps taken to boost the production of pulses and edible oil in order to contain their prices in the domestic market, saying there was no proper mechanism for procurement of pulses in the country.Demanding implementation of recommendation of the M S Swaminathan committee for establishment of “pulses villages”, he said farmers were not growing more pulses because of the huge price fluctuation. He said the government has reduced expenditure on agriculture sector and unless it is increased and said steps should also be taken to increase production of edible oil. He suggested that the Centre ask states to undertake dehoarding drive vigorously and take quick policy decision “because next year also, there will be problems”.BJD leader B Mahtab too said price rise was due to domestic structural problems. While the average prices of vegetables earlier were less than Rs 10, it was now not going below Rs 30. Observing that the problem of high pulses prices was “more manmade than natural”, he said traders were buying pulses from other countries and hoarding them and waiting for the domestic prices to rise.To this, Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said there was truth in this and the government was concerned over it.Paswan also sought suggestions to deal with the issue.

PM Modi’s visit to Russia: Are India’s defence eggs still in the Russian basket?

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Since the early 1960s, Soviet Union/Russia has been India’s largest defence weapons supplier. At the height of the Cold war, 85% of Indian Navy, 75% of Indian Air Force and over 50% of Indian Army equipment were of Russian origin.

Vladimir Putin and Narendra Modi
File Photo

PM Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Russia on December 23-24 to hold an annual summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.In addition to inking agreements on furthering the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant beyond stage 1 & 2, they are likely to push forward a plan to assemble Russian Kamov-226T helicopters in India. It is a light multipurpose helicopter and is meant to replace Chetak and Cheetah. The helicopters will be built primarily for the Indian armed forces and also for exports. Russia has reportedly offered full manufacture in India. India’s Ministry of Defence is currently scouting to choose a public or private sector partner company from within India.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ahead of the visit, Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) also approved purchase of the very potent Russian S-400 air defence missile system with a range of 400 km. Five units would cost Rs 40,000 crores. Only preliminary discussions may take place at this stage. Since the early 1960s, Soviet Union/Russia has been India’s largest defence weapons supplier. At the height of the Cold War, 85% of Indian Navy, 75% of Indian Air Force and over 50% of Indian Army equipment were of Russian origin. Purchase of Jaguar and Mirage-2000 aircraft in 1970-80s was a major departure. There was always a strong desire to move to alternative sources. The rise of China and desire of USA and the West to move closer to India resulted in offers of modern weapons that were hitherto not available.In fact, Russia was somewhat upset when its MiG-35 lost to the French Dassault Rafale in the MMRCA contest; and also when IAF chose to buy the Boeing Chinook CH-47 heavy-lift helicopter over the only competitor Russian Mi-26; and the Boeing Apache-64 D won the attack helicopter competition against the Russian Mi-28 N Night Hunter. Six Airbus A330 tanker aircraft are being inducted in preference to Russian IL-78. Earlier, the India Navy chose the Boeing P-8I Poseidon to replace the ageing Russian TU-142. On the other hand, India was upset with Russia for reportedly agreeing to sell four Mi-35M – very modern attack helicopters – to Pakistan to strengthen their counter terror capability. The Indian Army’s armour has been dominated by Russian T-72 and T-90 tanks. The mechanised infantry uses Russian infantry combat vehicles. Indian Navy’s aircraft carrier Vikramaditya, the latest fighter aircraft MiG-29K, many of the frigates and most of its submarine fleet are of Russian origin.For years, our Navy has flown variants of Russian Kamov helicopters. BrahMos supersonic cruise missile is an Indo-Russian joint venture for the three services. Indian Air Force (IAF) will soon have all 272 Sukhoi Su-30 MKI already committed. More orders are likely. IAF recently upgraded MiG-29s. IL-76 and An-32 transport aircraft, the AEW&C and Air-refuelling aircraft are all Russian origin. Nearly 200 Russian Mi-17 helicopter variants will dominate IAF’s medium lift helicopter fleet for next two decades. It will also act as the VVIP helicopter till a new one is decided.Nearly 400 Kamov-226T will join the three armed forces. The surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles are mostly Russian. IAF is already committed to many future projects with Russians. A sum of Rs 40,000 crore is committed for just the design and development of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA). 214 aircrafts are planned to be inducted into IAF at a cost of Rs 670 crores a piece. There are already delays and cost escalation. A joint venture 20-tonne Medium-lift Transport Aircraft (MTA) will finally take-off early next year with both sides agreeing to commit funds. Is the balance still tilted heavily towards the Russians? India’s experience of the last five decades is that the Russian weapon systems are rugged and fairly good operationally. While they are initially relatively inexpensive, over the years, life-cycle costs work-out much higher than Western counterparts. Poor maintenance support often resulted in lower service abilities and sometimes, accidents. With so many defence projects already unfolding, it is an umbilical cord that will stay connected in the 21st century.

60-year-old woman gangraped in Jind

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The incident took place on Friday evening when the woman had gone to Kaithal.

Representational image
File Photo

A 60-year-old woman was allegedly abducted and raped by three persons, police said on Sunday. The incident took place on Friday evening when the woman had gone to Kaithal. There she met her neighbours Jaybir and Jitendra who promised to drop her home. But they took her to a slum near Hansi Branch Nagar, where an unidentified person joined the duo and raped her, police said. The accused threatened the woman with dire consequences if she revealed the matter to anyone and dumped her near the Hansi Branch Nagar bridge. Based on a complaint of the woman, a case of rape, abduction and attempt to murder has been registered against the three persons, a police officer said, adding that further investigation into the case in on. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Congress MP Anand Sharma assures passage of GST after debate with govt

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Sharma said the Opposition have lent support to key bills in the Parliament adding that it is extremely important for the Government and the Opposition to work together to fulfil the aspirations of the people.

Parliament

Congress MP and deputy leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma on Saturday said the Congress party is the real author of GST(Goods and Services Tax) Bill and assured that the country will have GST after debate with the government.”We have been the real authors of GST and we have put across some very genuine concerns. The Opposition is ready to debate with the Government on this. The country will have a GST and there is no doubt about that,” Sharma said while addressing FICCI’s 88th Annual General Meeting here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sharma said the Opposition have lent support to key bills in the Parliament adding that it is extremely important for the Government and the Opposition to work together to fulfil the aspirations of the people.”We have lent our support for passage of some of the key bills in the Parliament recently. We feel that it is extremely important for the Government and the Opposition to work together. And this is most imperative to assure that the aspirations of our young population are met. About two third of our population is below 35 years of age, which is a massive 800 million people. It is for this youth to dream and for us to work towards the fulfillment of their dreams,” he said.He said that at this juncture, there is a need for policies that reflect continuity, predictability and stability, which at present is being threatened.”Merely rebranding and repackaging of policies would not help the economy which at present is sputtering. The present Government needs to decentralise and delegate, in order to meet its claim of improving the governance situation,” he said.”There is a need to undertake a realistic appraisal of where we stand today in terms of our economic situation. If we look at the GDP number there has been only a marginal improvement in growth if go by the new base year numbers. Private investments remain weak and credit offtake has witnessed a significant decline,” he said.

Gadar Part 2: When a Sikh man chased away a gun-carrying nutcase in US

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There is dramatic surveillance video from Monday night, when the masked gunman tried to rob Singh’s gas station convenience store in Salt Point in Dutchess County.

YouTube Grab

A 58-year-old Indian-American Sikh store owner bravely fought off a gun-wielding masked assailant by using his slipper, thwarting an attempted robbery here in the US. Amrik Singh, who managed to save his hard-earned money from the would-be robber, had a narrow escape in the fight as the assailant opened fire at him but the bullet missed him.”I tell you honestly, I’m not scared,” Singh was quoted as saying by abc7ny.com today.There is dramatic surveillance video from Monday night, when the masked gunman tried to rob Singh’s gas station convenience store in Salt Point in Dutchess County. The suspect handed the store owner a bag and Singh began filling it with cash from the register. There was a scuffle when the gunman demanded the larger bills he thinks are under the tray.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”He said ‘Put the hundred dollar bill, the hundred dollar bill, and I said I don’t have a hundred dollar bill,” Singh said.Things took almost a comic turn when Singh flung a slipper at the suspect, hitting him near the face. Then Singh rushed the gunman and forced him out of the store, it reported. An outside camera showed him chasing the gunman as the suspect fired the weapon. The video was uploaded on You Tube.”I fell down, he didn’t get me, but he did shoot it outside in the parking lot,” Singh said.The blast left a hole in the ground. Singh suffered a scraped nose and experienced chest pain, but was not seriously hurt. Singh has owned Route 9 Mini Mart in Staatsburg for 17 years, and has been robbed once before. This time he fought back. He said he couldn’t get a good look at the suspect, but did manage to grab his mask. The New York State Police are hoping the video will generate leads. Watch the video:

Venkaiah Naidu says no use giving importance to useless DDCA-linked accusations

“Arun Jaitley is one of the most honest sincere, intelligent minister. There is no issue of any discussion here in parliament because the issue is not connected with the parliament. There is no use of giving any importance to useless accusation. Arun Jaitley doesn?t want any certificate from them,” Naidu told media here.

Reiterating the absurdity of the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) accusation against Finance Minister Arun Jaitley with regard to an alleged scam in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA), Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu on Friday said giving importance to useless accusations would be a sheer waste of time.”Arun Jaitley is one of the most honest sincere, intelligent minister. There is no issue of any discussion here in parliament because the issue is not connected with the parliament. There is no use of giving any importance to useless accusation. Arun Jaitley doesn?t want any certificate from them,” Naidu told media here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Naidu further said, “if you try to spit on the sun, it will fall back on your face, criticising Jaitleyji is like this.”On the continuous disruption of Parliament, the minister said that if they (Congress) have divergent views, which is natural in a democracy, they must insist on having a discussion, but they’re disrupting.People expect Parliament to legislate for their better future .Don’t know what are reasons for the Congress to stall these legislations”AAP is totally wrong and we don’t want to get involved in that. We are more concerned about the non-functioning of the Rajya Sabha because all important bills are pending in the Rajya Sabha. The Lok Sabha has passed around 12 bills or more and people are waiting that it will be passed in the Rajya Sabha also, that is the burning issue. I humbly request that they should allow the functioning of the parliament. Congress Party should answer on why the house is not functioning. We don?t have any problems if they take credit, but they should let the house function,”he added.

Diesel cars proliferate in Parliament as Delhi chokes

Long-distance and cost-effectiveness of diesel car are the reasons for MPs to use it

SUVs parked at Parliament House complex on Thuursday
B B Yadav
dna
The Supreme Court may have banned the registry of new diesel cars above 2000cc, in the National Capital Region for three months, but the country’s legislators seem to prefer them as their ride of choice. As Delhi’s air turns smoggier by the day and pollution levels continued off the charts, the Parliament House Complex turns into a veritable showroom for the fanciest diesel cars.With licence plates from all over the country, countless Innovas, Fortuners, Boleros, Pajeros rolled in and out, ferrying well heeled legislators. Thrown in the mix were Land Rovers and Land Cruisers , Mercedes and BMWs. There was even an eyeball grabbing Porsche from Jharkhand that quietly sped away. Some of these vehicles were so luxurious they made the trusty, omnipresent Innova look quite pedestrian in comparison.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Such was their proliferation, that putting a name to the vehicle turned out to be a nigh impossible task.Each had an engine displacement higher than 2000cc, the line that the apex court has now drawn as to what is permissible. Unaffected by the ban, the gas guzzlers will continue to ply through January to March in and out of Delhi.Many MPs dna spoke to were a tad defensive about their cars. BJP MP Kirron Kher, who drove off in a Mercedes 4matic, said “do they expect MPs to now buy new cars? Where will the money come from for that. I only bought my car last year, and it’s not even from Delhi.” She added, “We’re not as rich as it seems, though we live well. They should have told us not to get our cars before.”PC Chacko, former Congress MP said he had a “personal liking” for diesel cars because of economy. “I travel almost 200 kms daily. A diesel car makes economical sense.” He added, “this is a knee jerk reaction by the court. Delhi does need to withdraw cars, its roads cannot sustain so many. But there is no plan, either by the centre or the state, on purifying air. They should focus on emission standards instead for diesel cars.”Economy as a reason, especially for long distance travel, was repeated by Deepender Singh Hooda, Congress MP. He also said that his main reason for investing in his car was comfort for a bad back. However, he added, “I am not principally against reducing diesel cars. We all must do our bit for the environment.”BJP MP Yogi Adityanath, before whooshing away in his Fortuner, only said that he would obey whatever law was formed, even if that meant not using his car.The only MP dna found firmly supportive of the ban was Selja Kumari, Congress Rajya Sabha member, who admitted to using Innovas, though only when travelling out of town. “Even this ban is a conservative measure, they need to go further. We only use diesel cars because they’re available,” she said.Environment minister Prakash Javadekar, perched outside in the sun, said that the government was already working towards providing better fuel, pre-poning the migration to Euro-6 emission standards.Privately, though, a senior leader grumbled a fair bit about the crackdown on diesel, saying that it took time to upgrade to better fuel and better car design, and that nothing could be solved instantly.Senior advocate KTS Tulsi, MP in the Rajya Sabha, one of the three people to bicycle to the Parliament said that MPs needed big cars in their constituencies, but shouldn’t drive them in Delhi. “We’re reducing the lifespan of our children and inflicting disease. We must wean people off private cars, and on to public transport.” He also plans to start cycling to the Supreme Court from now on. All big playersWith licence plates from all over the country, countless Innovas, Fortuners, Boleros, Pajeros rolled in and out, ferrying well heeled legislators. Thrown in the mix were Land Rovers and Land Cruisers , Mercedes and BMWs. There was even an eyeball grabbing Porsche from Jharkhand that quietly sped away. Some of these vehicles were so luxurious they made the trusty, omnipresent Innova look quite pedestrian in comparison.

AAP launches direct attack of corruption against Arun Jaitley

A CBI raid against a serving IAS officer in the Delhi government snowballed into a major duel between Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and union finance minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday. BJP MP Kirti Azad, further queered the pitch by relentlessly reiterating corruption charges against Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) during 13-year tenure of Jaitley as its president.Arun Jaitley, in a blog, promptly countered the charges politically and said Kejriwal seems to believe in “untruth and defamation delivered in language that borders on hysteria.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>His reaction came after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) gunned for Jaitley. Calling the irregularities a ‘Commonwealth Scam of Cricket’, AAP leaders alleged that crores of rupees were siphoned off through fake companies and there were huge irregularities in the team selection.AAP spokesperson Raghav Chadha said an additional expenditure of Rs 90 crore was incurred to renovate the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium. “Payments were made to five companies whose registered addresses were same and were headed by same director,” he said. Chadha demanded that the PM ask Jaitley to resign so that there is a fair investigation. “Most of the investigating agencies are under finance ministry,” he said.DDCA’s working president Chetan Chauhan, soon held a counter presser and said Jaitley had in fact worked for the betterment of cricket in general and had made the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium into a world class facility. He also read out the break-up of expenses incurred during the renovation of Feroz Shah Kotla. “No embezzlement took place during Jaitley’s tenure. You can check SFIO report. There were only procedural lapses and we have compounded (paid fine) for those lapses,” he said.Jaitley, who had come prepared to answer any queries in Parliament, wrote a blog calling AAP’s charges “falsehood as free speech”. Refuting the allegations, Jaitley said even though he was not concerned with cricket administration since 2013, “an MP has been writing to various government bodies with regard to Delhi’s cricket affairs”.He said SFIO conducted enquiry against DDCA under the previous UPA government and the report did not find anything against him. “No personal allegation was ever made against me nor did I ever feel the need of contradicting it,” Jaitley said while referring to SFIO report.Jaitley slammed AAP leaders for making allegations of corruption in DDCA after the CBI raid at Delhi Principal Secretary Rajendra Kumar’s office, saying “does free speech include the right to speak only falsehood.”Jaitley said he could not be dragged into it by referring to some facts of 2014 and 2015, when he had left the cricket administration in 2013.”There are fake allegations such as escalation of cost of construction of a stadium. When work expands, cost escalations are integral. A brand new 42,000-capacity world class stadium was constructed by the EPIL, a public sector body at a total cost of around Rs 114 crore. At the same time the UPA government renovated two stadia. The Jawahar Lal Nehru stadium was renovated at a cost of over Rs 900 crore and Dhyan Chand stadium was renovated at a cost of over Rs 600 crore,” Jaitley wrote.Soon after Jaitley’s denial, Kejriwal tweeted: “Can Jaitley ji’s denial in press be taken as gospel truth? V serious allegations against him. Why is he running away from investigations?”HRD minister Smriti Irani, meanwhile came out in Jaitley’s defence, saying AAP’s malicious intention is to deflect public attention from a corrupt official in Kejriwal’s office.”The CBI had come looking for documents that are not yet in public domain. The raids were carried out to intimidate the Delhi government,” AAP leader Sanjay Singh alleged.Interestingly, the Congress did not raise the issue of DDCA and a JPC probe in Parliament on Thursday. Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said their plate is full and the developments in Arunachal were “alarming” for democracy and security of country. “We have not given up on the DDCA issue,” he said.Sources in the party, however, admitted that there was a change in strategy. Though scotching speculations that cricket czars within Congress ranks like Rajiv Shukla had used their influence to force the party to drop the DDCA issue. I’m not gagged, says Kirti AzadEven as the BJP rejected the AAP’s allegations against finance minister Arun Jaitley, party MP Kirti Azad said he will hold a news conference on Sunday on “corruption” in DDCA.Earlier in the day, BJP general secretary (organisation) Ram Lal met Azad, in what seemed like an apparent bid to refrain him from attacking Jaitley, whom the party is backing wholly.However, Azad tweeted later “don’t go by rumours that I have been gagged. My fight is against corruption in sports and it shall continue.”

New Year gift to home buyers: Maharashtra government unlikely to hike RR rates

Maharashtra government earns Rs15,000-17,000 crore each year in way of stamp duty and registrations.

In what could well be termed a new year gift to the home buyers, the Maharashtra government, it is learnt, has decided not to increase the ready reckoner (RR) rates in 2016. The move, in view of the perennial glut in the property market, is expected to help stabilise the property prices. The stamp duty and registration are charges imposed on the government rates. According to senior state officials, the government increases the RR rates annually on the eve of the new year. After efforts to contact revenue minister Eknath Khadse for reaction failed, dna spoke to his senior official, who said they are getting the feedback that there is no scope for a rise in RR rate.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> “We have decided to support the real estate industry so that the slowing market could be revived. There is also an opinion that such a move may deprive the government of huge chunk of revenue. The final decision is yet to be taken,” said the official on condition of anonymity. Maharashtra government earns Rs15,000-17,000 crore each year in way of stamp duty and registrations. Pankaj Kapoor, MD at Liases Foras said the government has already done a lot of damage for the property market. “In last three years, cumulatively RR rate has rose almost by 60%. It’s not the developer but the government to be blamed for soaring property prices and unproductive market. Once the RR rate is hiked, then it becomes the base price,” he pointed out. Kapoor said it’s high time the government take a step further and slash the RR rates. “That will ease the property market in real sense. Currently, with the developers constantly increasing prices and the government doing the same with RR rates, the property market has turned unproductive,” he added. Shailesh Puranik, MD, Puranik Developer welcomed the government move. He said the stamp duty has already been increased and increasing the RR rates doesn’t make sense. “There is no movement in the market. The government decision will bring the cheer in the market,” he said. He further said that RBI has also made some positive changes in the lending calculations formula that will also give more relief further. “As a result, the interest rates of the home loan and other loans are likely to come down. It will be a double bonanza for the consumers and developers. By this decision, the positivity will be enthused in the market,” Puranik added.

Viewpoint: Does India need bullet trains?

Does it make sense for India to have bullet trains?

Bombay High Court gives Railways a month’s time to ensure women toilets on platforms

A division bench of Justice Naresh Patil and Justice S B Shukhre, after going through a survey carried out by an NGO, Akshara, highlighting the lack of facilities at railway stations for women, said, “There can be overcrowding on trains and platforms. But for lack of basic amenities, Railways alone needs to be blamed.”

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed the Railways to ensure that women toilets on all railway stations be equipped with proper lighting, sanitation facilities and safety measures. The court has granted the Railways a month’s time to implement the same.A division bench of Justice Naresh Patil and Justice S B Shukhre, after going through a survey carried out by an NGO, Akshara, highlighting the lack of facilities at railway stations for women, said, “There can be overcrowding on trains and platforms. But for lack of basic amenities, Railways alone needs to be blamed.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior Advocate Rajeev Chavan, appearing for NGO Help Mumbai Foundation, said CCTV cameras are a must inside women compartments to ensure commuters’ safety.Asking the Railways to consider the same, Justice Patil said, “If government can consider running bullet trains with CCTV facilities, why can’t it implement the same in suburban trains.” It directed the divisional commissioner of Western and Central Railway to inform the problems faced by them in installing cameras during next hearing.The court also directed the Western/Central railways to provide proper signage, seating benches near woman compartments and to experiment seating spaces inside trains to reduce overcrowding at the footboard. It also suggested the railway to have non-slippery footboard pole to help passengers on crowded trains.

Case of negligence filed over toddler’s death

The Delhi Police has registered a case of negligence in the infant’s death even as the High Court reacted to a PIL filed by Congress leader Ajay Maken, slamming the Railways and issuing notices to the Railways authorities, police personnel and Delhi government officials directing them to prepare and organise a co-ordinated plan towards those rendered homeless.

Families left homeless at Shakur Basti, where a demolition drive was carried out in a slum, in New Delhi on Monday
Manit
dna
The postmortem report of the six-month-old baby girl, who died during a demolition drive in a west Delhi slum cluster, said that she died due to “shock as a result of chest and head injury due to blunt force impact”. The report, that came out Monday, two days after the demolition on Saturday morning, also mentioned fractures in “2 to 4 ribs”. The report disputes the version of the events put forward by the Railways, which maintained that the baby died two hours before the drive started.The Delhi Police has registered a case of negligence in the infant’s death even as the High Court reacted to a PIL filed by Congress leader Ajay Maken, slamming the Railways and issuing notices to the Railways authorities, police personnel and Delhi government officials directing them to prepare and organise a co-ordinated plan towards those rendered homeless.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The slum cluster in Shakur Basti, nestled between the posh east Punjabi Bagh colony, and Paschim Vihar, housing nearly 5,000, was razed on Saturday morning after the Railways, which owns the land, evicted people from their homes and bulldozed all that stood. Six month old Rukaiya, the daughter of Mohammed Kalim was found dead under a pile of her parents’ belongings, which triggered a furore. By Monday, a number of politicians, and NGOs, had descended on the residents of the colony, as the latter sat out the winter cold in makeshift tents scrounging around for food and blankets.Congress scion Rahul Gandhi made an appearance in the morning, promising to raise the issue in Parliament, blaming the Aam Aadmi Party led Delhi government for the demolition. All he earned was a scathing tweet from Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, calling him a “child” who didn’t know the Railways came under the central government. Kejriwal is the only politician who isn’t the object of the slum residents’ ire, as they recount how he was first on scene, in the intervening night of Saturday-Sunday, and his party has been providing all relief material.”All politicians have come and made us promises but no one will fulfill them,” said a very angry Ruma Devi, even as others remembered the BJP promise of “jahan jhuggi wahaan makan”. There is palpable anger in the air at the mention of politicians and promises. Before Rukaiya’s death, barely any leader, they say, bothered about them.”At least Kejriwal has given us tents and blankets,” added young Mohammed Sadiq Malik. However, distribution is a problem as the residents, who are currently scattered across tents in various stages of falling apart, said that people from outside their colony have been sneaking a way the relief material. “Now they will give us material after checking our ids,” said Ruma Devi.The residents all have their ids ready; voters cards bearing the Railway colony address so as to prove they belong. “We have been here for almost 30 years, some of us are born here. Yet they have destroyed our homes six or seven time,” said a weary Rajeev Sharma waving his voter id.The residents of the colony are mostly labourers working in the nearby cement godown. Migrants from “mostly Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Jhansi” as they say, they have been doing the same work for more years than they can count. Men and women offload sacks of cement from goods trains that run on the lines bordering their slum, and take them to construction plots. Every day they go the Rani Bagh chowk to be hired as daily labour. When there is no work, they stay home. “We will be here as long as the godown is, we won’t move,” said Mohammad Siqandar Alam. All of them say that their children don’t go to school, as there is none nearby. They barely have enough water for daily needs, which they get by standing three hours in a line everyday. On Monday, their water supply was shut off.Behind them, a bunch of children ran screaming excitedly long a bicycle with a fogging machine, spewing mosquito repellant chemicals in the dusty air. “That us first time since I’ve been here I’ve seen anyone fog this place,” said Alam. “They didn’t even do this in the dengue season.”Every single resident denies having received a notice of eviction before hand. “They only put up notices in the evening on 11 December. I was reading namaaz, many people were at work.” Around 8 in the morning on 12, said Sahin, officials came and told them to leave their homes, the bulldozers came just before 12. “There was no time to gather any belongings. We have lost everything we had,” said Lalita. Meanwhile in the ongoing Parliament, the political slugfest over the demolition heightened as the Trinamool Congress and the Janata Dal (United) joined AAP and served notice to raise the issue in both houses. The blame game too continued as AAP charged the centre for carrying out the drive to disturb its government, even as Kejriwal met with Railways minister Suresh Prabhu later in the evening.

Need to insulate Indo-Pak dialogue process: Omar Abdullah

Abdullah said it did not matter as to where the talks took place but “at least the process has been restarted”.

Omar Abdullah

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Monday warned that attempts would be made to derail the dialogue process between India and Pakistan and said there was a need to thwart any such challenges by “insulating” the talks.He also asserted that Jammu and Kashmir was a party to the talks and urged the Narendra Modi government to start a dialogue with the state “the way it has started with Pakistan”.”What we will have to do most is to insulate this dialogue because many attempts will be made to derail this process. Many attempts will be made to make this dialogue unsuccessful.Our endeavour should be to make all such attempts unsuccessful,” Abdullah told reporters here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Conference (NC) working president was talking to reporters after inaugurating the renovated headquarters of the party which was damaged during the floods last year and in a fire incident. Abdullah said it did not matter as to where the talks took place but “at least the process has been restarted”. “It is good that talks have restarted. I have no objection that we had to talk in a third country. It’s okay that we held talks in Bangkok and not in Delhi or Islamabad. At least the process of dialogue has been started,” he said.”Our Foreign Minister visited Islamabad and talks were restarted there. There was an announcement of holding a comprehensive dialogue. Now, we will wait for the shaping up of this comprehensive dialogue,” he added. The former chief minister said Jammu and Kashmir is a party to talks even if India and Pakistan would not make it a party on their own. “We are already a party. We are a party to this issue since this issue is there…We want dialogue,” he said.He said the Kashmir issue could be resolved only when there are talks on its internal and external dimensions. “I will not get into whether this has to be a tripartite or bipartite dialogue. There are two parts of Jammu and Kashmir issue one is internal between New Delhi and the state and the other external between New Delhi and Islamabad. This issue can be resolved only when there are talks on both the tracks.”Right now the dialogue is on a single track and the talks have been started between New Delhi and Islamabad, but the talks between New Delhi and the state are also important. We are not seeing any development on that,” he said. Abdullah said “we will request and will be hopeful of (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi’s government to have talks with Jammu and Kashmir the way the government has started talks with Pakistan”.

Mumbai University mulls over following Paris model, might break into smaller parts

The plan “2016-17 & Beyond” highlights this high-pitch proposal under the subhead, “Break-up of the University into several ones UoM1, UoM2 et al”.

Mumbai University

After years of rumours and high-level recommendations, the “exceedingly large” University of Mumbai is finally thinking about breaking itself into several small parts – on the lines of Paris University, which was broken into 13 smaller varsities following a huge civic unrest in the country in 1968. Reason: Largeness and heterogeneity due to which management of the varsity has become a “nightmare”. And it is beyond improvement, “even after using IT and digital platforms”. The plan “2016-17 & Beyond” highlights this high-pitch proposal under the subhead, “Break-up of the University into several ones UoM1, UoM2 et al”. “It will perhaps be in the interest of all concerned and most importantly in the interest of higher education at large to break up the university. To provide a link to and honour the University of Mumbai, the nomenclature could be UoM1, UoM2, et al, following the practice in other places, such as the University of Paris,” read the perspective plan document, which was made public last week.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The document states, “There are persuasive reasons why a university like ours, which is exceedingly large, needs to be broken up into several small parts. Currently, the sheer magnitude creates a management nightmare. The problem will still remain even if one were to use IT and digital techniques.” The university has over 750 affiliated colleges spread over six districts – Mumbai, Thane, Raigad, Sindhudrug and Ratnagiri. It caters to over eight lakh students with skewed resources and often faces flak for a series of fiascos, botch-up examinations and delayed results. To start with, the varsity proposes to create more sub-campuses with a clearly defined role and “finally help them break-away as universities in their own right” for a balanced regional development. In 1970, the Paris university was divided into 13 autonomous universities. The newly created universities were numbered Paris 1, Paris 2 and so on. They also adopted names such as Pantheon Sorborne University, Pantheon Assas University and Paris Sorbornne University. There have been demands from various quarters to divide the MU for better management, with state government mulling over the proposal for the last four years, after the Kakodkar committe recommended the moves. Anil Patil, director of Board of Colleges and University Development, who was also the chairman of the 23-member committee that formulated the perspective plan, said, “This is the vision document that we intend to implement in future, if the need arises and that too in consultation with the state government. As of now, we are just planning more sub-campuses with greater power and autonomy. Jalgaon and Solapur Universities were also carved out from the Pune University.”
Also on cards: *Opening of five government engineering colleges in Palghar, Thane, Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts*Four-year integrated programme for BA-BEd, BSc- BEd*A women’s college and a women’s law college*Three different categorisations – weak, reasonable and excellent affiliate collegesAlso, from 2016-17, the university plans to offer degree courses in bamboo and canned industry, oceanography and marine biology through Sindhu Swadhyay Sanstha. Two-year associate degree courses in safety and fire management courses at community colleges of industrial belt, diploma courses in music and dance and certificate course in sports management through distance education are among other programmes.

‘Adopt a patient’: Tata Memorial offers succour to cancer-stricken kids

Under this, a donor can adopt a patient (any child whose parents are poor) and bear the medical expenses of that child.

Giving a ray of hope to the cancer-stricken of poor parents, the Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH) is starting an initiative called ‘Adopt a patient’.Under this, a donor can adopt a patient (any child whose parents are poor) and bear the medical expenses of that child.It will be started by the paediatric department, where children below 15 years of age are admitted.Every year, 1,800 children enroll for treatment in the hospital from different parts of the country. TMH has the distinction of being the only hospital in India that deals with all kind of cancer diseases.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Once a kid is diagnosed with cancer, parents will have to spend Rs 2-3 lakh. just to control the disease.There are charity organisations, but they offer financial aid on the basis of documents like ration card, Aadhar card, income certificate and doctor’s letter.But, many people, especially those from other states may not have any kind of document, and, hence, do not get any assistance from these organisations. What’s more shocking is that the hospital has found that most of the times, parents leave the treatment half- way, if it is a girl.To help such patients, the hospital has created the ImPaCCT Foundation. ImPaCCT means Improving Pediatric Cancer Care and Treatment.It will address all needs of the patients. For the unfortunate child that dies, bereavement funds are also provided to the family for the last rites, including transport to his/ her home town.Through this foundation, last year, the hospital spent Rs 14 crore to help needy children. “There are lots of patients who need help, but there’s a funds crunch. Also, we are focusing on the girl child, “said Dr Shripad Banavali, head, medical and paediatric oncology department.”Now, when poor patients come to the hospital with a girl child, our staff give them maximum attention,” said Shalini Jatia, ImPaccT Foundation secretary.

‘Adopt a patient’: Tata Memorial offers a succour to cancer-stricken kids

Under this, a donor can adopt a patient (any child whose parents are poor) and bear the medical expenses of that child.

Giving a ray of hope to the cancer-stricken of poor parents, the Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH) is starting an initiative called ‘Adopt a patient’.Under this, a donor can adopt a patient (any child whose parents are poor) and bear the medical expenses of that child.It will be started by the paediatric department, where children below 15 years of age are admitted.Every year, 1,800 children enroll for treatment in the hospital from different parts of the country. TMH has the distinction of being the only hospital in India that deals with all kind of cancer diseases.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Once a kid is diagnosed with cancer, parents will have to spend Rs 2-3 lakh. just to control the disease.There are charity organisations, but they offer financial aid on the basis of documents like ration card, Aadhar card, income certificate and doctor’s letter.But, many people, especially those from other states may not have any kind of document, and, hence, do not get any assistance from these organisations. What’s more shocking is that the hospital has found that most of the times, parents leave the treatment half- way, if it is a girl.To help such patients, the hospital has created the ImPaCCT Foundation. ImPaCCT means Improving Pediatric Cancer Care and Treatment.It will address all needs of the patients. For the unfortunate child that dies, bereavement funds are also provided to the family for the last rites, including transport to his/ her home town.Through this foundation, last year, the hospital spent Rs 14 crore to help needy children. “There are lots of patients who need help, but there’s a funds crunch. Also, we are focusing on the girl child, “said Dr Shripad Banavali, head, medical and paediatric oncology department.”Now, when poor patients come to the hospital with a girl child, our staff give them maximum attention,” said Shalini Jatia, ImPaccT Foundation secretary.

Japan to assist Indian Railways in strengthening safety measures

The agreement establishes areas for comprehensive technological cooperation, facilitating the participation of other institutions, organisations and ministries; conducting joint research and studies.

Japan PM Shinzo Abe and PM Modi at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on Saturday.

PTI
The partnership agreement with Japan on rail sector will also address many issues including safety and research confronting Indian Railways for years.Besides, providing active cooperation in the bullet train project, Japan will also assist railways’ research and design capabilities to address future challenges, according to a senior Railway Ministry official. He said there are many crucial issues such as safety, cleanliness and research which will be addressed with Japan’s cooperation now.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Safety is a major issue for the public transporter with accidents happening on regular basis which can be tackled with the induction of advanced technology in train operation. There will be comprehensive technological cooperation including sharing of information and best practices; exchanges of officials and technicians; facilitating the participation of other institutions, organisations and ministries; conducting joint research and studies, as per the tie-up with Japan.Also read- Shinzo Abe in India: Japan’s 1.5-trillion yen ‘Make in India’ fund to push investmentsThe agreement establishes areas for comprehensive technological cooperation, facilitating the participation of other institutions, organisations and ministries; conducting joint research and studies. It also envisages cooperation in the areas of safety in train operation; advanced techniques of maintenance; use of environment friendly technologies.

Manohar Parrikar’s birthday bash to be a simple ceremony: Goa BJP

More than 50,000 guests are expected in the event.

Manohar Parrikar

File Photo
The Goa unit of the BJP on Saturday announced that it will observe the birthday of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in a simple manner here tomorrow, a decision which has been objected by the Congress. “The birthday celebration of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar will be attended by the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and the Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari,” Vinay Tendulkar, Goa BJP president said. “The birthday celebration will not be a grand one. It will be a simple ceremony. There will be no food or buffet, no lavish decoration. The stage will be simple and not too many flower decorations,” Tendulkar said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> More than 50,000 guests are expected in the event. When asked about the funding of the bash, he said, “About the expense, we will tell you later. We will we have another press conference, where we will explain to you.” Goa Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar said that many people have made contributions for the event. “A minimum amount of Rs 5 to Rs 1000 we can accept. You can also give. Collection will be done in Sanvordem, Pernem and other parts of the state. There is no target for collection,” he said. Asserting that the BJP has earned the goodwill of the people, he added, “These people are in politics, business and at every level. Along with us, they also feel that Parrikarji’s birthday should be celebrated.”The Congress had demanded the celebration to be cancelled and the funds collected for the event to be routed for relief work after the recent Chennai deluge, which resulted in a huge damage to lives and property. More than 900 buses would be used to ferry the crowd that is expected to attend the function.

Indian Army has 34 lakh followers on Facebook

As of Thursday, the Indian Army had 34-lakh, 17 thousand, two hundred and thirty one (3417231) followers on its Facebook page and the number growing by the hour.

Imagine the Indian Army Brigade commander in Ladakh tweeting over a face-off between Indian and Chinese soldiers. That’s one of the things senior officials at Army headquarters here claim to be aiming at in coming years by expanding the scope of their social media domain. There would be a caution on strategic and operational details and anything that goes out in public domain would have to be information which is not classified, the officials, however, underline.A ministry of defence (MoD) expert committee recently recommended that senior commanders shall have a participative social media presence through blogs so that they stay connected with the rank and file. The committee advocated ‘proactive’ use of social media to counter rumours and sensitising officers on its use.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As of Thursday, the Indian Army had 34-lakh, 17 thousand, two hundred and thirty one (3417231) followers on its Facebook page and the number growing by the hour.And going forward, in its expanding social media base, Army is also looking at a situation where it could cut down on its recruitment advertisement costs for officials believe a large number of youth are motivated to join them on being given an exposure of day to day activities of the force.An analysis of the Army’s Facebook page reveals that 48% of the followers belong to the age group of 18-24 years while 6% fall in the 13-17 age group. However, women constitute only 9% the total following.Further reading into Army’s Facebook presence throws other interesting facts.Of the total followers, while more than 31 lakh are from India, the country that gets the Indian Army highest followers abroad is the United Arab Emirates (UAE). There are over 45 thousand of them in the UAE, followed by over 32 thousand in Saudi Arabia, over 22 thousand in Nepal and over five thousand each in the US and Bangladesh.From Pakistan, while there are only little over 700 followers, it is at countries like Bhutan, Mexico, Ukraine where it has least following with little over 400 followers.While over 25 lakh followers are English speaking, 40-odd thousand Hindi speakers follow the Army on Facebook. This, followed by close to four thousand Marathi speaking ones to close to three thousand each Tamil and Bengali-speaking followers. Indian Army is followed by French, Portuguese, Arabic, Dutch, Persian,Japanese, Greek and Spanish speaking people.Back home, Kolkata has highest number of followers at over three lakh, followed by Lucknow at over two and half lakh, New Delhi at over two lakh while cities like Kollam in Kerala and Karnal in Haryana, Amritsar, Vishakapatnam, Nagpur, Rajkot having less than ten thousand followers.Chennai, where the Army’s Facebook page helped coordinate SOS requests from residents stuck in recent floods has close to two lakh followers, several of them joining it during the course of the massive rescue operations by the three services along with the Indian Coast Guard.”Our role during such emergencies like in Chennai get us substantial traction,” says a senior official.

Pawar play: Maharashtra’s politician for all seasons opens up on his 75th birthday

dna editor-in-chief Uday Nirgudkar with Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar

Zee 24Taas
In your life, a fighting spirit can be seen. Did you get this from your mother?My mother and father both. My mother was from a common family. She rebelled against the social norms of those times and educated herself. My father was in service but he was associated with the Satyashodhak movement and with Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil, a senior figure in educational sector. It is but natural that these things nourished our minds.Your family has a Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) background. Your mother was a PWP local board member and your brother-in-law is ND Patil. Still, you were attracted to the Congress.My mother was not a PWP local board member. She was elected to the Pune local board in 1936-37 for the first time as a Congress nominee. Around 1948, when the Congress went into the hands of Kakasaheb Gadgil and others in Maharashtra, a section of the party who thought intensely about rural areas felt uneasy. Yeshwantrao (Chavan) was part of that but never quit the Congress. Shankarrao More, Keshavrao Jedhe and others started PWP. Those who were uneasy in the Congress, such as my mother and elder brother, joined the PWP.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In reality, the BJP leaders do not want to remain with the Sena. But after Bihar elections, BJP may start adjusting with the Sena… digest its arrogance and accept its demandsLater Yeshwantrao Chavan inspired you. When did you first meet him?In my childhood, my house had photographs of Stalin, Lenin and Karl Marx but my attraction to the Left did not last long. Yeshwantrao and myself had the same attraction for Nehru and his focus on modern science, technology and democracy as a means of life. This attracted me to Yeshwantrao.You took decisions which would hurt politically but were progressive with long-term social ramifications. Of these, one was the renaming of the Marathwada university. Did it hurt you politically?100 per cent. Marathwada was educationally backward. The first educational complex in Aurangabad was Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Milind College. In Aurangabad university, the academic council unanimously decided to rename it after Babasaheb instead of Marathwada. A recommendation was made to the state but no implementation was done during the tenure of the three chief ministers. Then in Marathwada and Vidarbha, the Dalit Panther and such organisations raised the demand and were upset that Mahatma Phule, Punjabrao Deshmukh and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s names were given (to institutions) but despite the academic council’s unanimous decision, Ambedkar’s name was not given. This made me uneasy. I discussed the issue with my cabinet colleagues and SM Joshi gave me the moral strength. We took a decision but that very evening, houses of Dalits were set on fire. They were killed in Aurangabad, Nanded and other places. I had to suspend the decision in the next few days. It was a painful moment.Looking back, what would you call your most revolutionary decision?This can be one such decision. After the suspension, I lost my chief minister’s post and I had to pay the price in my base – Marathwada. When I became the CM in the 1980s, I realised that I had not taken the youth and people from villages into confidence before the decision. I rectified the mistake and took the decision again. The new generation welcomed it.What happened in 1978? The prevailing phrase then was you stabbed (Vasantdada Patil) in the back.The Congress was divided then. There was one Congress led by Indiraji (Gandhi) and one under Swarn Singh and Bramhanand Reddy. In Maharashtra, Yeshwantrao Chavan was our leader and he, Vasantrao Naik, Vasantraodada Patil were a part of the Swarn Singh Congress or Congress (S). We fought polls against each other but the two formed a government to keep the then Janata Party out. Vasantdada was the chief minister from our side and Nashikrao Tirpude was the deputy chief minister. From Day One, the government was not unified. In Delhi, Abasaheb Kulkarni, Annasaheb Shinde and others met at Yeshwantraoji’s place and concluded that we had to exit the government. The responsibility was handed over to me. Accordingly, I, Sushilkumar Shinde, Sundarrao Solankhe and Datta Meghe resigned as ministers. Chandrashekhar, our friend, declared support for us.Yeshwantrao telephoned me and asked me not to form the government. I agreed but Kisan Veer took the phone from me and since they were very close, told Yeshwantrao that if we back down, the political lives of these youth would be devastated and asked me to go ahead and form the government.This back-stabbing allegation has stuck to you. Do you think it would have been better if this has not happened?If this had not happened, the Congress would not have survived here.You went on to the Shiv Sena’s platform in 1984. What had happened then?In those days, textile mills defined Mumbai’s economy and were staffed by people from rural Maharashtra and Konkan. Firebrand leader Dr Datta Samant called for a textile strike. If Samant’s leadership was accepted by the textile sector, the mills would have gradually shut down on the pretext of strikes, and thousands would have been jobless. George Fernandes, myself asnd Balasaheb Thackeray decided to join hands to take the strike out of Samant’s hands. We succeeded then but unfortunately what we feared eventually happened.Modi made irresponsible, below the belt statements during elections. He should not have lowered the dignity of the PM’s post. In my 50 years of politics, I never saw Jawaharlal Nehru, VP Singh and Manmohan Singh use Modi like languageYou rejoined the Congress in Aurangabad in 1986. Is it true that Rajiv Gandhi kept you waiting for one-and-a-half years? He did not mention your name even once in his speech. Why?After Indira Gandhi’s death, Rajiv Gandhi expressed a wish that I should work with him. When I went for final darshan at her home in Delh and offered my condolences to Rajiv, he held my hand and said, “Sharad, I think enough is enough. Now the time has come, we have to work together.” I said we are with you in your crisis. Then polls were declared and we fought separately. I had no desire to contest the Lok Sabha polls and was the leader of the Opposition. There was a sympathy wave in Rajiv’s favour and there were doubts if the Opposition could survive. In those circumstances, to increase my colleagues’ confidence, I decided to contest. We met regularly. This cemented the decision to join hands and he assigned the responsibility to Arun Nehru. Arun told me in the first meeting that he was not amenable to me returning to the Congress as it would hurt both. But since the leader had said this, we had to finalise the modalities. We decided on the Aurangabad meeting. It is true that Rajiv Gandhi did not take my name but I was told that the family never took names on party platforms. So I never felt anything about it.Why did you clash with people close to you, such as Sonia Gandhi, Vasantdada Patil, and your contemporaries in the Congress, such as Antulay?All of them supported me later. Coming to Rajiv Gandhi, when we came together, I was not holding any post. I was in Goa when he called me at 3.30am and in his typical style asked me what I was doing. I said one sleeps at 3.30 in the morning. I asked him what he was doing. He said he was working. I said you are the prime minister, you have no choice, you have to work. He called me to Delhi. When I reached there, I was called to his home from the airport and was asked to take charge as the chief minister the next day. Shankarrao Chavan was the CM but had been moved to the centre.Do you think if this serpentine journey had been avoided, this Marathi manoos would have become the prime minsiter in 1991?I do not think so. In each of these times, there were reasons for the crisis. You spoke about Sonia Gandhi, now our relations are good. When the issue of making her the (Congress) president came up, we all felt that Sitaram Kesari had to be replaced. This included me, Anthony, Ghulam Nabi Azad and some more Congressmen. But one thing rankled me. When I was in Maharashtra, a meeting of the Congress parliamentary party was called and Pranab da (Mukherjee) put forth a proposal to change the Constitution so that an individual who was not a member of Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha could be the leader of the parliamentary party. After this was done, Soniaji was given the leadership of the Congress parliamentary party. I felt this was inappropriate.When I was in Maharashtra, Pranab da put forth a proposal to change the Constitution so that an individual who was not a member of the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha could be the leader of the parliamentary party. After that, Soniaji was given the leadership of the Congress parliamentary party. It was meant to stop meThis was akin to stabbing Sharad Pawar in the back…This was meant to stop me. Then Sonia Gandhi gave a letter asking me to lead the Congress in the Lok Sabha. I was uneasy. Differences started when there was a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) and Sonia Gandhi read a prepared speech that said the BJP was raising the issue of her foreign origins and if this was affecting the Congress party, she will have to think about it seriously. It was decided that the opinions of all in the working committee members would be sought. (PA) Sangma, who was close to Sonia Gandhi, said if leadership is given to you, there will be opposition and the Congress will have to pay the price. Tariq Anwar supported it. I felt these questions would surely come up but we can answer them. The meeting was later adjourned. I took a flight to Pune. At the airport, journalists surrounded me and said that Sonia Gandhi had resigned before the Congress office after we spoke about this. There were demonstrations outside the Congress office and demands were made to expel three of us. We three then met in Delhi and prepared a detailed letter for Sonia Gandhi, in which we said we are not opposed to her foreign origins, but these questions will come up. After getting the letter, the working committee expelled us for six years. We then formed the NCP.Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee, Jayalalitha and Biju Patnaik came to power in their states on their own. The NCP, however, never managed to cross 70-75 seats in the 288 member Vidhan Sabha. Why?We are in the 50-69 range. Our weakness includes Mumbai, which has 36 Vidhan Sabha seats. NCP’s base is rural and consists of the Marathi manoos. But the Marathi manoos in Mumbai and Thane is connected to the Shiv Sena.This base that you are talking of has a caste colour, despite the leader being progressive. Why?Our support base essentially consists of farming communities in Marathwada and western Maharashtra, which are largely Marathas. But we have many people (from other communities). Jaidutta Ksirsagar is a Teli and opposition leader Dhananjay Munde is a Vanjari.If someone opens his mind, such as Aamir Khan, people attack him. He is Muslim, therefore, a soft target for these fringe elementsYou had warned about the impact of drought in the coming summer. You were the agriculture minister for years, your party was in power and when the Congress was in government, your loyalists held portfolios of irrigation and power. Despite this, why weren’t the problems around agriculture in Maharashtra solved?In Maharashtra, agriculture faces limitations regarding water. Expert committees said 65 per cent of the state will stay rain-fed. Maharashtra has the largest number of dams in India but due to the scarcity of water, the problems have not been solved.Are you promoting dynastic politics in NCP?I do not believe in dynastic politics. We are very much clear that people have to choose their leaders. Anyone in our party who is ready to work hard, is capable of expanding the party base and has a knack to solve people’s issues can be a leader. There are several in our party who are capable of leading. Late home minister RR Patil was one of them. Unfortunately he is no more. Besides, Jayant Patil, Dlip Valse Patil, Ajit Pawar, Jaydutta Kshirsagar and so on are there.But you have to choose only one as party leader?The above-mentioned leaders have the potential to lead the party. When the party workers feel that this leader can add more votes, he will be elected and accepted as a natural leader. Why people had to chose Indira Gandhi? Because she helped them get elected. She was a crowd puller. Same is the case with BJP’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee. In the recent general elections, BJP leaders and workers chose Narendra Modi as their leader, despite having a senior leader like LK Advani.After Bihar elections result, do you think that the third front is again getting stronger? Will such a jumbo alliance succeed?I was 100 per cent sure the combination of Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad and Congress will win the elections. The reason is that each one has its stronghold and solid base. If the Congress and NCP come together against the BJP, we will surely defeat the BJP and can come to power. If the regional parties come together in respective states, they can give a strong fight to the BJP. That can change the political picture of the entire country.Do you think that in Uttar Pradesh also, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati will come together?Not all, they will never come together. There is a possibility of the Congress and SP coming together or BSP and Congress and left forces may join hands.You had said that the mid-term poll was likely to happen?The mid-term elections will not take place at the centre because Narendra Modi has enough numbers to run a stable government. I predicted mid-term poll in Maharashtra because BJP had no majority and was surviving on the props of Shiv Sena. I think the BMC elections scheduled in 2017 will be a turning point for the state politics. BMC is crucial for the Sena. In BMC, Sena is in a strong position. At the same time, the BJP is also spreading its base so there is likely to be a stiff competition between Sena and BJP. That will widen the rift and finally cause the separation. In reality, the BJP leaders do not want to remain with the Sena. But after the Bihar elections, BJP may start adjusting with the Sena and digest its arrogance and accept its demands.Many people have returned their government awards in protest against the intolerance in the country. What is your take on it?People’s opinion and government’s stand are two different things. A recent controversial statement by former Army chief VK Singh, now a central minister, was unfortunate. Some one from BJP also said if you are eating beef, then you should go to Pakistan. These statements were made by the ruling party leaders as well as by people who are in the government. The sad part is no one is there to contain them. If someone opens his mind, such as Aamir Khan, people attack him. He is Muslim, therefore, a soft target for these fringe elements. I read that BJP president Amit Shah warned these fringe elements. If it is true then it is the right step. The PM must have also have given suggestions to contain these elements. I did not find anything wrong with artists returning their awards.Modi had come to Baramati during Lok Sabha elections and lambasted NCP. He even called it the Naturalist Corrupt Party. Now the same Modi is praising you.Modi made irresponsible, below the belt statements during elections. He was the prime ministerial candidate. He should not have lowered the dignity of the post. In my 50 years of politics, I never saw Jawaharlal Nehru, VP Singh and Manmohan Singh use Modi like language. During his tours, it is Modi’s responsibility to maintain the dignity of the country and its people.

National Herald case: Smriti Irani calls Rahul Gandhi’s views an ‘insult’ to democracy

Irani, who had unsuccessfully contested 2014 Lok Sabha polls against Gandhi from Amethi constituency, said, courts in the country are “independent and there is no individual, who is bigger than the law.”

Smriti Irani
File Photo

Smriti Irani hit back at Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi over his remark that the National Herald case is a “hundred per cent vendetta coming out of PMO”, saying there cannot be a bigger “insult” to country’s democracy than his views on it.Speaking during a media conference here, Irani also targeted Congress leaders over disruption in functioning of Parliament. “There cannot be a bigger insult to country’s democracy and judiciary. If he thinks country’s judiciary functions at someone’s instructions, then there can’t be a bigger insult of country’s court.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The kind of comments Rahulji is making, the only message nation is getting is that if country’s law and judiciary don’t kneel before Gandhi family the Parliament will not be allowed to work,” she alleged. Irani, who had unsuccessfully contested 2014 Lok Sabha polls against Gandhi from Amethi constituency, said, courts in the country are “independent and there is no individual, who is bigger than the law.” On the issue of “intolerance”, Irani claimed, no one returned award if something went wrong during Congress’ regime.She added the foundation of the country’s democracy was in allowing one to express him/herself. “When someone asks me about tolerance, I say I am a Hindu woman, married to a Parsi. My children will not be Hindu, but Parsi. There can’t be bigger example I can give to the nation,” she said citing her own example. On another question, the minister maintained education will play an important role in curbing terrorism and said the government is taking efforts to see students from class IX to XII were exposed to socio-political happenings in the world.She also stressed the Centre is making efforts to increase standards of education imparted by government schools and also added that government is taking measures to strengthen base of country’s education system.Congress leaders, including Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul have been summoned by a Delhi court on December 19 on a complaint by BJP’s Subramanian Swamy against them, for alleged cheating and misappropriation of funds in taking control of the now-defunct newspaper.Rahul Gandhi had on December 9 said that the National Herald case is “hundred per cent political vendetta coming out of PMO” but declared that he had full faith in the judiciary. “One hundred per cent political vendetta. Pure political vendetta coming out of PMO. It is their way of doing politics. Pure 100 per cent vendetta,” Gandhi had said.

No proposal for raising retirement age of SC, HC judges: Govt

In reply to another question on the entry of foreign legal firms, Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda said the matter is under consideration of the government in consultation with the Bar Council of India.
File Photo

There is no proposal to increase the retirement age of judges of Supreme Court and High Courts, the government on Friday informed the Rajya Sabha.In written reply to a question on raising salaries and allowances of judges, Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda said, “It will take place once the salary of Secretaries to Government is re-fixed.””There is no proposal to increase the age of retirement of Judges of High Courts and the Supreme Court under consideration of the government,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The minister said the salary of higher constitutional functionaries including the judges of Supreme Court and High Courts are fixed by making necessary adjustments with reference to the pay scales suggested by the Pay Commissions and approved by government for the level of Secretaries to the Government of India.In reply to another question on the entry of foreign legal firms, Gowda said the matter is under consideration of the government in consultation with the Bar Council of India.

ISIS flag hoisting in Kashmir bid to portray contradictory picture: CRPF

CRPF Special DG Bhagat said radicalisation of Kashmiri youths was a “critical issue” which posed much wider threat.

ISIS Flag waved in the Valley

The CRPF on Friday said the incidents of hoisting of ISIS and Pakistani flags in parts of Kashmir were an attempt to portray a contradictory picture of patriotic Kashmiris, and described the radicalisation of youths as a “critical issue”.”There are reported incidents of waving of Pakistani and ISIS flags, but I would rather like to submit that these could just be an attempt by some people, perhaps, to sway it otherwise. “Otherwise, I can always say the people of Kashmir are as patriotic and as heroic as anybody else from the country can be,” CRPF Special DG S K Bhagat told reporters here. Bhagat said radicalisation of Kashmiri youths was a “critical issue” which posed much wider threat.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The situation of the Valley is a bit complex. There are foreign militants and then there are militants who get the local support. So in that situation, especially, there is an attempt from across the border to put in militants who could disrupt the situation which is day-by-day improving,” he said. “One thing which I think is very very important is that apart from the challenge of militancy, the radicalisation of youths becomes a critical issue. Perhaps this radicalisation poses a much wider and a much diverse threat viz-a-viz the militancy situation,” he said.The CRPF Special DG, however, said that radicalisation was not religion specific. “That is not the issue. We are not hinting at religion as such because that interpretation is wrong,” he said. He said that radicalised youths could be some people who could be “misguided” but there was a need to look into what the people at large want.”They want a good life, they want a secure life. They want a life in which they can prosper and their aspirations can be met. They can have a grand life. They can actualise what they aspire for.”So, those issues are very important and radicalisation is one thing that is a challenge not only for the country…but has international dimensions also,” Bhagat said. Bhagat said the state government faces many challenges in terms of development, education, better networking facilities and also in terms of meeting the aspirations of the people. “The more it is able to do, the better the situation shall be…it is only through the process of development, education, outreach and other things that you are able to take care of these issues which are coming up in large numbers,” the senior CRPF officer said.He said nobody should think the security forces feel that the citizens of Kashmir were different from the citizens from the rest of the country.”That is just not the issue. Not just the CRPF, the Army, the BSF have taken a sizeable number of people from here into the forces, including some ex-militants also, but there has been no complaint. When we have no complaints from them, including the ex-militants, why should we have complaints from the citizens? he asked.The officer was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a passing-out parade of CRPF where 648 new recruits joined the force.

India’s map on Pentagon site excludes PoK, Aksai Chin

There was no immediate comment from either the Pentagon or the Embassy.

File Photo

In an embarrassment, PoK and Aksai Chin were not shown as India’s territory in a map by the Pentagon website ahead of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s press conference jointly with his American counterpart.The graphic was even tweeted by the Indian Embassy in Washington along with the message that the joint address by US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Parrikar will begin at 10:50 AM. But this was removed later.The graphic had the Indian tricolour and a map that showed Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Aksai Chin not as India’s territory. There was no immediate comment from either the Pentagon or the Embassy.Parrikar, on his maiden visit to the US, addressed the Pentagon correspondents, in a first such interaction by an Indian Defence Minister. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

National Herald Case: Nitish Kumar supports Congress, says no place for vendetta in politics

The Trinamool Congress too has voiced support to the Congress on the issue .

Nitish Kumar

PTI
Supporting Congress on its protest over National Herald issue, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday said there should not be any vendetta in politics and opposition should not be harassed.”There should not be any vendetta in politics. In democratic system, mandate is given to work for the public. Public mandate is not to harass opposition,” Kumar told reporters outside Parliament. He was asked about his views on the accusation of the Congress that the government is misusing the Enforcement Directorate for political vendetta.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”When Congress is saying something, then it must be well thought-out. I have no details. But when Congress is saying so it must have some meaning, otherwise why the party will say so?” he asked. He said that in such circumstances, government should clear the apprehensions in the mind of Congress. “The government has primary responsibility to run Parliament,” the JD(U) leader said when asked about the ongoing disruptions in the House.The Trinamool Congress too has voiced support to the Congress on the issue. The Chief Minister, who met Prime Minister Narendra Modi here, said, “It was a courtesy call. There was no particular issue involved in the meeting.”On Bihar package, he said, “I am hopeful that the Centre will honour the commitment made by the PM. I am hopeful it will be implemented.” Asked whether he would play a role in other state elections after Bihar success, he said, “I am doing my work in Bihar after the elections. Other political parties are there in other states. They will discuss and decide on it.” He also said he has met Assam leader Prafulla Mahanta, who is an “old friend”.On GST issue, the Bihar CM said “we support GST as it will be beneficial for all states.”

Salman Khan hit and run case: Here’s what the judge said while delivering the verdict

The Bombay High Court on Thursday acquitted Bollywood star Salman Khan of all charges in the 2002 hit-and-run case.

The Bombay High Court on Thursday acquitted Bollywood star Salman Khan of all charges in the 2002 hit-and-run case in which he had been earlier convicted and sentenced to five years imprisonment by a sessions court.On September 28, 2002, Salman’s car had rammed into a bakery shop in suburban Bandra. One person was killed and four others were injured in the mishap.Here is what Justice A R Joshi said:<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1) The appeal is allowed. The trial court’s verdict is quashed and set aside. Salman is acquitted of all charges.2) The prosecution failed to establish its case against the appellant-accused (Salman) on all charges. The burden is on the prosecution to establish the guilt of the accused and this needs to be done beyond reasonable doubt.3) There are various shortcomings by the prosecution like not recording evidence of necessary and important witnesses and omissions.4) There are contradictions in the evidence of injured witnesses, which definitely create a doubt about the involvement of Salman for offences for which he has been charged. On the basis of such evidence, Salman cannot be convicted.5) The investigation was conducted in a faulty manner with many loose ends and as such, benefit of this had to be given in favour of the accused.6) The trial court erred in accepting bills (of Rain Bar and Restaurant where Salman had gone before the mishap) without a panchnama, 7) The judge said he is of the considered view that the appreciation of evidence done by the trial court while convicting the appellant was not proper and legal, as per the principles of criminal jurisprudence.Also Read: All you need to know about Salman Khan hit-and-run case

2002 hit-and-run case: Fans rejoice Salman Khan’s acquittal

“It’s a big reason for happiness for us. He is an honest person. We are happy for him. Our prayers are with him,” added another fan.

Salman Khan’s fans on Thursday expressed their delight over the Bombay High Court’s decision to quash all the charges against him in the 2002 hit-and-run case and described the Bollywood actor as a very good ‘human being’.”Salman Khan is a very good human being. It’s good that he got acquitted. I watch his movies. I am waiting in front of his house to see him. I am very happy that he got acquitted,” said one of his fans.”It’s a big reason for happiness for us. He is an honest person. We are happy for him. Our prayers are with him,” added another fan.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Meanwhile, scores of fans of the ‘Dabangg’ actor have gathered outside his Galaxy apartment in Mumbai to celebrate his acquittal.The Bombay High Court earlier quashed all the charges against Salman in this case.The High Court said that on basis of evidences produced by the prosecution, the appellant cannot be convicted, no matter how differently the common man thinks.Pronouncing the verdict, Justice AR Joshi observed that the prosecution has failed to establish the case against Salman.The High Court also observed that appreciation of evidence by trial court is not proper according to principles of jurisprudence. There has been a faulty manner to establish procedure for connecting chain of evidence with regard to biological evidence, the High Court added.The actor was convicted of all charges by a sessions court earlier this year in the case relating to 2002 when Salman’s Toyota Land Cruiser had crashed into five men sleeping outside a bakery on Hill Road in Bandra in the early hours of September 28. One person was killed and four others were injured.

Climate talks: Developed countries not fulfilling their obligations, says India

“On finance, it is deeply disappointing that on the one hand developed countries are not fulfilling their obligations and on the other hand, they are trying to shift their responsibilities to developing countries themselves. There is no indication of scaling up of finance nor a clear roadmap,” he said during a negotiating session.

Terming as “game changer” the national climate action plans of every country, India strongly voiced its concern over exclusion of these plans in the new draft negotiating text unveiled by climate change negotiators and said developed countries did not fulfil their obligations.India also termed as “disappointing” the issue of finance, saying while developed countries failed to fulfil their obligations, they are also trying to “shift” their responsibility to developing nations.India said that there was no indication of scaling of finance by the developed nations nor was there any roadmap.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I must stress that the concept of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) is a great innovation and has proved a game-changer. It has enabled the participation of over 186 countries. Yet, INDCs are not even mentioned in the draft, said Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar.”On finance, it is deeply disappointing that on the one hand developed countries are not fulfilling their obligations and on the other hand, they are trying to shift their responsibilities to developing countries themselves. There is no indication of scaling up of finance nor a clear roadmap,” he said during a negotiating session.The first draft of the Paris Outcome, prepared after two days of high-level ministerial deliberations, was released by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius yesterday at a crucial climate change conference.The draft negotiating text is now of 29 pages down from a 43-page version and was circulated to all the negotiating countries.India strongly put across its point that durable agreement at Paris “cannot” be crafted by “diluting” historical responsibilities or by putting the polluters and the victims at the same level.India also appreciated leadership and efforts of the Presidency while asserting that it associates itself with the statements made on behalf of G-77.”I must stress that the concept of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) is a great innovation and has proved a game-changer. It has enabled the participation of over 186 countries. Yet, INDCs are not even mentioned in the draft, said Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar during a negotiating session.”On finance, it is deeply disappointing that on the one hand developed countries are not fulfilling their obligations and on the other hand, they are trying to shift their responsibilities to developing countries themselves. There is no indication of scaling up of finance nor a clear roadmap,” he said.Describing the latest draft as the “starting point for the final push”, Javadekar said there were many “points of departure” at this stage of negotiations and much work is need to reach a point of convergence.India also made it clear that the agreement which is being crafted “must carefully” balance climate ambition and the principle of differentiation as both are equally important and one cannot have one without the other.”It needs to be reaffirmed upfront in the agreement that it is under the Convention (UNFCCC) and in accordance with its principles. Its objective is to enhance the implementation of the Convention across all its pillars,” Javadekar said.”This is crucial. The principles of the Convention must be stated correctly without any unnecessary additions,” he added.India also stressed that the agreement must also “meaningfully” operationalise differentiation across all its elements which is “not clear” in the current draft.India also said that it was in favour of a robust transparency mechanism but it should apply not just to mitigation but all other elements, particularly finance.”The transparency mechanism should cover all countries, in a differentiated manner. Implementing the current system which has not yet been made operational is an essential component to build capacity and experience in developing countries. A transition period is therefore needed before changes could be made,” Javadekar said.India also strongly said that several of its concerns including unilateral measures, sustainable lifestyles and climate justice did not find a mention in the draft.”We will examine the draft carefully and engage with all our partners to reach an agreement,” Javadekar said.Elaborating on the draft text, Fabius, who is the chair of the current round of climate negotiations, had earlier said the aim of the text was to enable nations to have an overall view of the progress that has been made so far.”It (draft text) is shorter than the previous version of 48 pages. It is 29 pages long now. There has been three quarter reduction in points that were there in the bracket.The aim of the text is to enable us (nations) to have an overall view of the progress made,” he said.

Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan total failure: CAG

Strap: Rs 10,000 crore spent in the last five years has not shown adequate results, CAG report finds

Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the successor to Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, is an even more ambitious project

The Comptroller and Audit General of India (CAG) announced the tabling of 12 reports (of the promised 25) in the parliament on Tuesday. One of the tabled reports that focused on the Total Sanitation Campaign or Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan found alarming discrepancies in fund allocation and its misuse and also a clear failure in the implementation of the sanitation programme.According to the report, almost 60.69% Indians defecate in public – the highest in the world. At a time where India is being touted as one of the fastest growing economies, we are still struggling with basic sanitation. According to the report “Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation: 2012” submitted by UNICEF and WHO, Pakistan and Bangladesh feature higher on the list of improved sanitation with 34% and 58% respectively. Among the Asian countries, Sri Lanka topped the list with 94%.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sanitation was one of the Millennium Goals adopted by India which culminates at the end of this year. The Central Rural Sanitation Programme – the first structured programme for rural sanitation, was started in 1986 and has been remodified in many avatars since. The latest avatar now known as The Swachh Bharat Mission, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project. Though, whether the declaration and goal for 100% eradication of defecation in India by 2019 will be achieved is yet to be seen.According to the CAG report, a few of the major reasons for the failure in our sanitation programme can be attributed to the lack of intent on the implementation level, effective monitoring and periodic evaluation of the programme. There was a lack of date integrity submitted by the ministries concerned forcing the auditors to deal with and interpret four different sets of data with conflicting numbers.Among the major findings in the report, it was stated that against an objective of constructing 426.32 lakh and 469.76 lakh Individual Household Latrines (IHHL) for Below Poverty Line (BPL) and Above Poverty Line (APL) project districts could construct only 52.15% and 44.18% respectively. In 53 districts that were audited for this purpose, it was found that 33% of the toilets were defunct due to poor quality of construction, incomplete structure, non-maintenance etc.Another disturbing find was that in the past five years, almost Rs. 10,000 crores has been spent on rural sanitation with not much to show for results. There have also been cases of financial irregularities, improper disbursement of funds, diversion of funds for other unrelated activities and even misappropriation of the allocated funds. Almost Rs 2.28 crore was misappropriated in six states (Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Gujarat, Karnataka and Maharashtra) while cases of suspected misappropriation to the tune of Rs 25.33 was found in four states namely: Andhra Pradesh, Jharkand and Manipur.Where funds were allocated, it was found in that in the case of nine states, an amount of Rs 212.14 crore remained parked and unutilized at the implementation level for periods ranging from four months to 29 months. It was also noted that the accrued interest of Rs 5.58 crore accrued on the scheme fund was not accounted for.To get a wholesome view of the matter dna spoke to Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, an Indian sociologist and founder of Sulabh International, who said that for the Prime Minister to achieve 100% sanitation by 2019, he must allocate Rs 3.60 lakh crore. “To build a decent toilet, one needs Rs 25,000-Rs 30,000, anything cheaper will be shoddy and of no use.”Pathak, who has won various accolades on the national and international level including a Padma Bhushan for his work on hygiene and sanitation also states that with proper motivation and will, the government is capable of providing a toilet in every household should they assign at the very minimum one labourer per village who will build at a rate of 20 toilers per month.In it’s conclusion, CAG report number 28 strongly urges the ministry to step up its drive for Information, Education and Communication that will result in a rise in demand for toilets and basic sanitation. It also advises on the need to rope in various corporate houses and tie-up with their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives to spread the word. Effective monitoring and periodic evaluation of the programme which was found missing is now of paramount concern. If India our country must compete with the world, the report finds that it must step up intensify its efforts by realistic planning and implementation, large scale information, behavioral changes in the target population and overall governance at the grassroot level. While the current prime minister does seem active on this front, auditors feel these initiatives though welcome are far to late in coming.

Trapped in a watery hell: What it was like to be stuck during the Chennai floods

At first, from what I understood, the entire city had a power shutdown and several areas were waterlogged.

The flooded ground floor in the hospital

Latha Srinivasan
Monday, November 31I woke up expecting to go to work as usual, despite the rain. But by 9 am, things had changed. I had to rush my 72-year-old mother to the hospital as she was unable to move and was slurring. Worried that she had suffered a stroke, I got her admitted immediately at the Global Hospital (Perumbakkam) for an MRI and CT scan. Getting all the required tests took up the whole day, after which I spent a sleepless night at the hospital. Tuesday, December 1Mom was weak and unable to eat and I was anxiously waiting to meet the doctors. It was raining heavily by 9 am and I was informed that the attending physician was running a little late. By noon, I found out that though my mother’s tests were fine, she had extreme weakness and she could be discharged only on Wednesday. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At around 3 pm, my cousin called to inform that I should leave the hospital ASAP as the Perumbakkam lake near the hospital had suffered a breach. I assured him that things seemed fine, so I would manage. However, by 6 pm there was two feet of water at the entrance of the ground floor and the hospital staff had placed sand bags to prevent it from coming inside. Meanwhile, people on Twitter were reporting that heavy rains had caused severe waterlogging in several areas in the city and that people who were stranded were being accommodated in other people’s homes, schools, marriage halls etc. When I went into the cafeteria for dinner at 9 pm, I realised that the situation could soon turn serious as food was running out. There were some 150 patients and those attending to them, stuck in the hospital because of the rain and they all moved to sit in the lobby on the first floor to wait out the night. At 12:30 am, the power suddenly went out and I heard the nurses running around in the darkness. I stepped out to see what was happening and one of the nurses informed me that water had inundated the generator room causing a shutdown. We were now on limited power only for ICU and critical patients. She also told me that there was a lot of water on the ground floor. From what I could see, medical equipment had been moved up to the first floor and were lined up in the corridors. Now, I was worried, but I still didn’t think that there was a need for panic. And who would I call in the middle of the night anyway? From what I understood, the entire city had a power shutdown. So I headed back to the room to get some shut eye.Wednesday, December 2I woke up at 7 am to find out that there was still no electricity and now, no water as well. Luckily, the hospital staff had filled a bucket of water in each room during the night. I immediately ran to check the situation on the ground floor. What I saw startled me. The entire ground floor was filled with dark, murky water. The Sai Baba idol in the lobby, which is a source of resilience and strength during testing times when loved ones are ill, was submerged in four to five feet of water. The hospital had created a makeshift kitchen to provide hot food and beverages to patients as they were the priority. But the 100-odd outpatients and their families had also been stuck there for nearly 24 hours. While the hospital may have been able to provide them some facilities like drinking water, how much longer could everyone be sustained in this water deluge with no power and no access to fresh supplies? People struggled to make calls as the telecom networks were erratic. My mobile had about 40% power and I wasn’t sure how long that would last. When I finally managed to ask one of the doctors what was happening, he said, “There’s some eight feet of water outside the hospital and the only way out is on boats. We have spoken to the relevant people, including the Chief Minister’s office, the Army and others. They have assured us that help is on the way.” It was at this point that I officially panicked – we had no water, no power, no telecom network and no damn way of getting out of the hospital! And my car was sitting in the parking lot in five feet of water.Twitter had come to my rescue earlier, so I quickly managed to send out a couple of tweets asking for help, as only emergency services had power in the hospital and people needed to be rescued immediately. The bad network was causing more panic. But I managed to call Shreesha Reddy of India Today TV and Dhanya Rajendran of The News Minute, both of whom made calls to various people for help. Meanwhile, the hospital staff was working hard to ensure that patients were fine. By 10:45 am, one of the doctors told me there were only three more hours of power left for patients on ventilator. But the nurses said, “Madam, even if we have to pump their hearts manually, we will do it – we will not allow a single patient to die, don’t worry.”There was no help in sight for nearly three hours now and I had been on my feet the whole time, walking around to try and get proper phone network. It was then that a call came through from the Tamil Nadu Health Minister DR C Vijaya Baskar who told me that the fire service personnel and even the army had been informed about helping us. I appraised him about the drastic circumstances and that it had already been nearly 12 hours without electricity.Meanwhile, India Today TV put me live on air to explain what was happening at Global hospitals in Perumbakkam. I did so and continued to wait, hoping to see a boat come in or a helicopter land. But more than an hour passed and there was still was no sign of any help, though the rains had stopped. It was around 12:30 pm that we finally saw a fishing boat come in, evoking spontaneous claps from the almost 50 people standing on the first floor. People started to smile a little and the anxiety reduced, but then came the scramble as to who would leave first. Everyone wanted to get on that boat, but it could accommodate only 12 at a time. Meanwhile, a second boat came in. One of them went in the direction of Shollinganallur and the other to Medavakkam. The administrative staff quickly swung into action before chaos ensued and created a list of dialysis patients and outpatients who had been stranded. They sent them out first and then patients who had got discharged were taken to safety.It was more than two and a half hours later that I could finally get on the boat with my mom. Too weak to walk, she was in a wheelchair and we would have to wade through 3-5 feet of water to get on the boat. But the staff assured me they would figure it out and four men just lifted the wheelchair and carried her over the water and set her on the boat. I was so thankful to them. On the other hand, I was really scared to wade through the muddy water, being petrified of snakes and scorpions. The water was ice cold and waist high and I held the hand of the doctor leading the way, who encouraged me ahead till I reached the boat. Around me in the boat, I saw an old couple, a two-year old who had undergone surgery on his hand crying and being comforted by his parents, and some other patients.But as soon as we got onto the fishing boat, it started to rain again and the fire and rescue personnel told me that we had to wait out the rain. I was exhausted as I had been on my feet for most of the last 24 hours. Nature seemed to be testing everyone beyond their limits. We quickly grabbed umbrellas, plastic bags, towels and anything else we could find, to cover our heads. All of us on the boat – except my mother – were cold and wet and some of us were shivering. No one had eaten anything that day and it was after 2 pm. When the rain slowed a little, I urged the boat guys to move out and we did. We were instructed to sit tight in the boat and not make sudden movements as the boat could be thrown off balance. As soon as we moved out from the hospital portico, the rain and cold wind hit us hard. I was holding the umbrella over my mother’s head, but the rain was ruthless. We were all soaking wet and had to travel nearly 2.5 kms on that boat to get to safety. The men navigated the waters carefully so as not to hit electrical posts, open wires, hard objects or anything else that could fatally injure any of us or leave us stranded in the water. The water depth had to be constantly monitored by men navigating the bot. We saw an ambulance, a water lorry and numerous vehicles sitting in eight feet of water as we moved out of the hospital gates. The area around the hospital is marshy and through the rain and cold we crossed the water body slowly. We actually rode on roads that were inundated in more than five feet of water and saw many homes submerged. There was not a single soul in sight. and the areas were uncannily eery and deserted. That 15-minute ride was perhaps one of the longest ones in my life. I kept asking every few minutes when we would reach safety.Finally at 3 pm, we reached land, after a struggle of over seven hours. But our ordeal wasn’t over yet.​ As soon as got to the Shollinganallur signal, the men quickly helped us out as they needed to go back and fetch more patients. We had been told at the hospital that there were two ambulances and a jeep there, that would help us reach home. The fire and rescue personnel put my mom in the ambulance along with another family. But the ambulance driver flatly refused to drop us home, stating that the vehicle was only to take patients to another hospital. The other family managed to find an auto in the rain, but with my mom unable to walk, I didn’t know what to do. I tried reasoning with the ambulance drivers, but to no avail. I had to leave my mom in the ambulance, to try and make calls, but didn’t have a proper signal and realised I was on my own. After 10 minutes, I headed out to find an auto and saw a government vehicle parked nearby. When I spoke to the gentleman inside, explaining my situation, he replied, “Why don’t you speak to the Health Minister? He is right here.” I have never written much on politics nor do I know the protocol of what one can say or not say to politicians, but in this situation I needed to get my mom home and didn’t care how. Seeing the Health Minister near the boat in two feet of water, I wading there, introduced myself and asked for help. I may have possibly even said so several times in front of TV cameras that seemed to be interviewing him, but I just didn’t care. But the Minister happened to remember having spoken to me on the phone earlier in the morning. Immediately, another man came forward, arranged for a Tata Sumo and had my mom transferred into the vehicle. As soon as I got into the vehicle (which I then knew was the Health Minister’s) Vijaya Baskar and his First Secretary Radhakrishnan came and shook my hand, assuring me, “Don’t worry. We’ll take care. You’ll reach home safely.” I told Radhakrishnan that it was very important that the remaining patients in the hospital got help. He told me they had arranged for a 15 KVA generator, but couldn’t transport it in the boat. “We’re now getting smaller generators that can be taken to the hospital. Don’t worry, we will take care of everyone in the hospital,” he said.I left in the Health Minister’s car, with a fire and rescue person and the driver, and finally reached home at about 4 pm. The fire and rescue person carried my mom up the flight of stars and gently sat her in the sofa in the living room. My mother and I hadn’t had even a drop of water for over nine hours by then. But we were both finally safe and back home and I have never been so relieved in my life. Besides, when I saw the newspapers over the next few days or so, I realised that the Health Minister and Radhakrishnan had kept their word – they had helped the hospital and ensured that not one patient’s life was lost there. And I was truly grateful to them for that.

No report of disease outbreak in flood-ravaged Tamil Nadu: Centre

The team reached Tamil Nadu yesterday to extend all possible support and assistance to the state government during the present flood situation, the statement said.

Puram’s Twitter

There is no report of outbreak of any water-borne or vector-borne disease in the flood-ravaged Tamil Nadu, Health Ministry said on Monday.A public health team of the Health Ministry today met the Tamil Nadu Health Secretary and other officers of the Health Department to discuss the flood situation in the state and public health action that is required for prevention and control of communicable diseases, an official statement said. The team reached Tamil Nadu yesterday to extend all possible support and assistance to the state government during the present flood situation, the statement said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The seven-member team will conduct rapid health assessment of the flood-hit areas and advise the state on public health measures. “The team has regrouped itself into three teams and is visiting flood affected areas, including the health facilities. The team is accompanied by officials from the State Health Department and Chennai Municipal Corporation,” it said.

Chennai floods: Airlifted pregnant woman delivers healthy twin girls

“She was rescued on December 2 and was nine months pregnant. I was in Bangalore when I received a call and reached Tambaram the next day. She then went in labour and had to be airlifted again to a hospital in Chennai. The two girls were born on December 4,” her husband Karthik Velchamy told PTI.

AFP
A nine-month pregnant woman, who was aerially rescued last week from one of the worst rain-affected areas of the city, has given birth to healthy twin girls at a hospital, bringing some cheer as residents grapple with the aftermath of the unprecedented deluge.The IAF, which had rescued 28-year-old Deepthi Velchamy on December 2, again airlifted her to a hospital two days later when she went into labour.She was initially evacuated from rain-hit Ramapuram area near Guindy and brought to the Tamabaram Air Base, nearly 30 kms from here, which served as one of the nodal points during the aerial rescue operations.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”She was rescued on December 2 and was nine months pregnant. I was in Bangalore when I received a call and reached Tambaram the next day. She then went in labour and had to be airlifted again to a hospital in Chennai. The two girls were born on December 4,” her husband Karthik Velchamy told PTI.Deepthi went into labour but her pregnancy history papers were lost in the flood. The Velchamys, native of Hosur near Bangalore, were racing against time when the IAF came to their rescue again and airlifted her to a hospital which had her medical record.”She suggested (Sri) Ramachandra Medical College and Hospital as it had her details on onlinedatabase…And, an IAF team then airlifted her there. I am so happy that after all the hardships we went through, our daughters have arrived like angels and brought smile on everyone’s faces,” Karthik said.The Indian Air Force which played a stellar role during the entire rescue operations had saved three or four other expecting mothers.”Besides, Deepthi, who was airlifted from her house’s rooftop in Guindy area, by a ‘Cheetah’ helicopter, three-four other pregnant women were also rescued from the city and suburban areas, where communication links were cut off,” a senior IAF official told PTI.Sukanya (29), a seven-month-pregnant woman was rescued on December 3 along with her three-year-old child from her home in Medumbakkam, near Guindy, which bore the brunt of the torrential rains that has left the capital city battered.She was brought to Tambaram Air Base in a ‘Chetak’ helicopter, and then immediately taken to the Base Hospital.”We moved to the fourth floor of our house as the first and the second floor had become inundated. There was no electricity in our area for the last two days.”We had lost all hope until they rescued us,” she had said.”Rescuing is a tough job and when I heard our boys (pilots) are airlifting seven and nine-month pregnant women, I asked my colleagues, how are they doing it,” a top IAF official said.An emotionally overwhelmed Karthik is in awe of the IAF now, and says, “I salute these brave men.”

Chennai floods: Here are some tips for volunteers working on the ground

The energy and positivity have been infectious and this is spurring a lot more people down the volunteering route.

A boat evacuates stranded passengers in Chennai

AFP
Chennai stands tall on the shoulders of volunteers who have and continue to do selfless work in helping with rescue, relief and now rehabilitation efforts in these trying times. Several of them are first-time volunteers and also those who have been rescued from the floods themselves. The energy and positivity have been infectious and this is spurring a lot more people down the volunteering route. Here is a list of things to remember if you are volunteering:1. Volunteering for a natural disaster is very different from volunteering at an NGO. First-time volunteers must be open to taking instructions from relief centre managers or other experienced coordinators. Do not deviate from routes, plans and distribution instructions. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. Volunteers are requested not to display or disburse supplies if relief work is already in progress in an affected area. This could lead to pandemonium and a stampede, since it creates a perception of perceived shortage. There have been several reports of mobbing and theft of relief material. 3. Safety in numbers is essential for volunteers. It is recommended that volunteers travel in groups so that help is at hand if the situation demands so. Simple logistical issues of organising crowds, relaying information, any support in case of untoward incidents, are all easier when done in groups.4. A special note of caution for women. Sadly, they also need to take shelter in larger groups since there have been isolated incidents of drunk men misbehaving with women volunteers.5. When volunteers reach flood-affected areas, they are to cooperate with local police, NDRF and defence personnel on the ground. It would be tempting for volunteers to get on boats and hand out relief materials themselves, but refrain from doing so without instructions. The last thing we want is for volunteers to get stranded and take bandwidth away from rescue operations.6. Volunteers, especially those engaged in food preparation and distribution must have hand sanitizers handy for regular disinfection. Masks and gloves for all volunteers would go a long way in curbing infections. 7. Volunteers engaged in on-field work must ensure that their legs and feet are fully covered. Those who have been exposed to standing in stagnating water or cuts and bruises must take tetanus shots. These must be taken within 48 hours of exposure. The author is HR professional and has been working with her family in relief efforts in Chennai over the last few days.

Chennai rains: Aerial sorties called off

In the past few days, through a coordinated team of defence forces and NDRF, the IAF airlifted nearly 1,500 people to safety

Defence forces have called off aerial sorties for rescue operations in flood-hit Chennai which is limping back to normalcy as water levels have started going down. “The water level in the city has gone down considerably after initial days of flooding. Since last evening all aerial rescue and relief operations have been called off. There are no further communications from either Tamil Nadu government or Centre to carry them out as the city is slowly returning to normalcy,” a top IAF official told PTI today.In the past few days, through a coordinated team of defence forces and NDRF, the IAF airlifted nearly 1,500 people to safety. Nearly 400 persons including students were flown to Delhi and Hyderabad in a C-17 and a civilian airliner from the Arakkonam Naval base, 70 km west of here. The Tambaram Air base, nearly 30 km south of the city, and the Arakkonnam base were two critical defence assets in carrying out the rescue and relief operations.IAF units from different places had joined the rescue operations at Tambaram, which served as the nodal point for executing the operations, besides the INS Rajali base at Arakkonam. “Now, all the IAF units are returning to their parent bases, as the sorties have been called off,” the top IAF official said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At Arakkonam, only a civilian flight flew about 50 people to Hyderabad this morning, a senior naval official said. The C-17 was flying out from the Naval base while the Air base ferried rescued people to Arakkonam in smaller aircraft like Mi-14 and AN-32.

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

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

Justice TS Thakur

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

No shortage of fuel in Chennai, suburbs: IOC

Besides, availability of service staff like tank truck drivers and pump attendants has become a “big challenge” in the current situation.

There is no shortage of fuel in Chennai or its suburbs, where petrol pumps were closed for safety following floods, nation’s largest oil marketing firm IOC has said. As the devastating floods led to several infrastructure bottlenecks across Chennai and its suburbs over the last week, retail fuel outlets reportedly “ran dry” following lack of supply. “Customers are requested not to panic. There is no fuel shortage in the city. Due to heavy water-logging many petrol pumps are not being operated due to safety and security reasons, as fueling is an electrical operation”, the company said in a statement.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Besides, availability of service staff like tank truck drivers and pump attendants has become a “big challenge” in the current situation. Due to water-logging, supplies are now coming from Tiruchirapalli, Sankari, Chittoor and Bengaluru, it said. All efforts were being made to effectively dispense fuel wherever feasible, Indian Oil said.

‘Lucky to be alive’ in Chennai

The BBC’s Sanjoy Majumder witnesses the chaos and the loss in India’s fourth-largest city Chennai after huge flooding.

December 16 gangrape: Victim’s parents say convicted juvenile still a threat

There is no proof that he is no longer a threat to society and especially women. Moreover, nobody knows how he looks. How do we know we are safe. Will police guarantee the safety of my family, said the father to dna.

As the juvenile, convicted in the 2012 brutal gang-rape and murder of a physiotherapy student in Delhi, is all set to be released later this month, parents of victim have almost given up on the hope on his release being stalled.Parents while speaking to dna also reacted sharply to reports that the authorities were planning to send him to an NGO where he would be closely watched. Nirbhaya’s parents had petitioned the home ministry, courts and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in an effort to stop the convict’s release.”There is no proof that he is no longer a threat to society and especially women. Moreover, nobody knows how he looks. How do we know we are safe. Will police guarantee the safety of my family,” said the father to dna.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”They are talking about sending him to an NGO. But will his activities be monitored all the time. I don’t think so. Murders take place in jails and the government thinks that they can control this culprit when he is freely roaming outside,” the father said. “The government is fooling us,” he addedThe NHRC had issued notices to Centre and Delhi government on a complaint by the parents, apprehending threat to society from the juvenile convict in the case who is set to be released next month.”They have stated that the juvenile, who was largely responsible for the death of their daughter and was the most brutal amongst all the offenders, is supposed to be released sometime in December.”They have submitted that such persons are threat to the life and liberty of the common man. There should be a mechanism to keep a strict check on them so that people are not subjected to any risk of being harmed. The complainants have also stated that the rate of recidivism (committing crimes again) is fairly high,” said an NHRC statement.The accused juvenile, now a 20-year-old was convicted for gangraping Nirbhaya in a moving bus on 16 December 2012, along with five other accomplices. During the course of investigation it came to fore that it was him that had brutalised the victim more than any other accused.”There was talk of placing charges under the National Security Act (NSA) in order to keep the convict in jail but nothing concrete has come out so far,” said a senior police officer.The other accused included Ram Singh, Vinay Sharma, Vinay Kumar, and brothers, Mukesh and Pawan Gupta. All of them were sentenced to death by the Delhi High Court and Ram Singh committed suicide in Tihar Jail in 2013. The juvenile was given the maximum sentence of three years’ imprisonment in a reform facility and is supposed to be released in December.

The unlikely sanitary pad missionary

How a yoga teacher became a sanitary pad missionary

India to ban old trucks as cities choke on dirty air | Reuters

NEW DELHI India will force all commercial trucks more than 15 years old off the road from April and is reviewing how it checks vehicle emissions, a senior transport official said, as the government tries to curb soaring urban air pollution.

The World Health Organization said last year that India had 13 of the 20 most polluted cities on the planet, including the worst offender, New Delhi.

Fumes spewed by a multiplying fleet of commercial vehicles, many of them old and badly maintained, are one of the biggest contributors to air pollution nationally: the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) think-tank estimates their share of vehicular emissions at 60 percent.

“We are to make 15 years the end of the life for all commercial vehicles,” Vijay Chhibber, the top bureaucrat in the transport ministry, told Reuters, saying the order, not previously reported, would be made public within 10 days and the ban enforced next April.

“It (air pollution) will get worse every year unless we do something.”

Hauliers complained such a move would unfairly single them out, while experts said the ban was only a part of the solution.

“Taxes on cars and parking charges should be raised to curtail usage, and public transport should be expanded,” said Vivek Chattopadhyay, a pollution expert at the CSE. “Emissions are not just related to age.”

Smog has blanketed the Indian capital this week as a global climate summit began in Paris, a reminder of how hard it will be for India to achieve economic growth and prosperity without pollution getting worse.

Despite growing recognition of the problem, weak coordination and enforcement have hobbled action to clean India’s cities and tackle a health crisis that causes more than 600,000 premature deaths annually.

“INHALER AROUND THE CLOCK”

It was not clear how enforcement of the proposed ban would work, given faltering efforts to bar smoke-belching vehicles from the streets of New Delhi.

“There is dust, pollution in the air and I have grave difficulty breathing,” said 48-year-old asthmatic Abdul Razik Kamal, who sells tea from a roadside stall near one of New Delhi’s main entry points for commercial trucks.

“There are many more cars in Delhi today than there were a few years ago and I have to use the inhaler around the clock.”

China has declared a “war on pollution”, with Beijing pledging billions to clean up its act, close coal-fired power plants and cut new car registrations.

India said last week it would bring forward the date by which vehicles must comply with tighter emissions standards by three years to 2019, although the country is still behind emission norms followed in Europe and China.

New car sales are booming, hitting close to 200,000 in October, their fastest monthly rate of growth in three years, as more urban Indians can afford to drive.

The transport ministry also wants to overhaul emission tests on private cars to ensure the measures are age- and vehicle-specific, as in the West.

CHOKING CAPITAL

In New Delhi, where an expanding metro system has failed to slow the spread of private vehicles, 1,400 extra cars hit the streets every day.

The U.S. embassy’s monitoring station has recorded an air quality index in excess of 400 this week, a level that is hazardous even to healthy people.

Pollution typically worsens in the winter months as the cooling of temperatures combines with pollution to cover the city, home to 16 million people, in smog.

Authorities have launched monthly car-free days in some areas. They have also levied a “green” tax to encourage the 52,000 commercial vehicles that enter the city daily to take alternative routes.

Delhi-based haulier Jigyasu Wadhwa, whose company runs a fleet of 200 vehicles, said the government was wrong to cast all older trucks as culprits when many newer, badly maintained vehicles were far more polluting and never penalised.

“Generalising the impact 15-year-old vehicles have on the environment is stupid,” he said. “The government needs to ensure people get their vehicles maintained, whatever the age.”

(Additional reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Mike Collett-White)

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

No exact co-relation between mobile tower radiation and wildlife health: Prakash Javadekar

Environment Ministry had constituted an expert committee to study the possible impacts of communication towers on wildlife, including birds and bees, in 2010.

Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar

There is no exact co-relation between mobile tower radiations and health of wildlife even as there are indications that Electromagnetic Radiations (EMR) affect their biological system, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Wednesday.Environment Ministry had constituted an expert committee to study the possible impacts of communication towers on wildlife, including birds and bees, in 2010.”As per the report of the committee, while there are indications that Electromagnetic Radiations (EMR) affect biological systems of animals, birds and insects, it also points out that exact coorelation between radiation of communication towers and health of wildlife is so far not established,” Javadekar said in a written reply to Rajya Sabha.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The reports also states that although existing literature depicts adverse effects of EMR on the biological systems of living beings, more research is required to assess the true impact of EMR on free-living floral and faunal species, including birds and bees in the country,” he said.

I want every child born in this country to be free of AIDS: JP Nadda

There have been concerns in some quarters about the ability of some of the states to contribute their share to the programme. These doubts should now be laid to rest, said Nadda.

An AIDS awareness rally being taken out by NSS students of SIES College, in Sion on Tuesday
Hemant Padalkar
dna
On World AIDS Day, union health minister JP Nadda announced major policy decisions towards strengthening India’s fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic. It has been decided that the National AIDS Control Programme will continue as a Central Sector Scheme”There have been concerns in some quarters about the ability of some of the states to contribute their share to the programme. These doubts should now be laid to rest,” said Nadda.He said that in view of the growing need for treatment services, the ministry has decided that the cut-off level for initiation of Anti Retrieval Therapy (ART) will henceforth be a CD4 count of 500.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With this decision, an additional 1 lakh people will start getting benefit of this treatment. It has also been decided to offer third line treatment to patients who need it. “NACO has been asked to gear up for these initiatives and we hope to start actual delivery in the coming weeks”, the minister informed.Nadda, on Tuesday, released the “India HIV Estimations 2015-Technical Report” and launched Distance Learning Programme on Opioid Substitution Therapy (OST), Integrated HIV TB e-learning module, PPTCT ART Linkage Software (PALS) and HIV Sensitive Social Protection Portal.He expressed happiness over integration of Prevention from Parent to Child Transmission (PPTCT) programme with the RCH programme and said this programme is continuing to scale up to ensure zero transmission from mother to child.”I want every child born in this country to be free of AIDS and have the freedom to realise their dreams. The above steps are important milestones as we traverse the 90:90:90 strategy adopted by UNAIDS,” he said.The HIV Estimation-2015 report shows that India has been successful in achieving the MDG-6 of halting and reversing the HIV epidemic by 2015. The fact that new infections have declined by 66% from 2000 and 2015, and AIDS-related deaths fallen by 54% from 2007 to 2015, is a concrete proof that India has delivered on its global commitment in achieving MDG-6.While India’s success story continues, the current estimates highlight key challenges that will need to be addressed with urgency as the programme moves ahead to achieve NACP IV goals in the short term, the 90-90-90 targets in the intermediate term, and to end the AIDS epidemic in the longer term. The slow-down identified in the rate of decrease of new HIV infections in last few years is a key issue, while scope of improvements in ART and PPTCT coverage exists.

19 days on, militants still hiding in Manigah forest

For the past 19 days, security forces backed by choppers, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and special forces are hunting for the militants hiding in the dense forests of Manigah in the border district of Kupwara.

It is turning out to be one of the longest anti-terror operations in Jammu and Kashmir.For the past 19 days, security forces backed by choppers, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and special forces are hunting for the militants hiding in the dense forests of Manigah in the border district of Kupwara.The operation was launched on November 13 after the security forces got a tip-off about the presence of militants in the jungle. A joint team of the Indian army and the police swiftly launched the cordon and search operation to hunt down the militants.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>So far, the security forces have shot dead one militant of the group that was responsible for the killing of Colonel Santosh Mahadik, the commanding officer of 41 Rashtriya Rifles who was leading the operation against the militants in the forest. Another militant of the group was found dead in the jungle probably due to cold weather. A Lieutenant Colonel of 160 Territorial Army is among the five soldiers and policemen wounded in the operation so far.Manigah is a bowl surrounded by mountains and dense forests. There are rocks and thick foliage which helps the militants to camouflage and escape the prying eyes of the security forces. Besides ultras, security forces have to battle the poor visibility and inclement weather.Thousands of men from army, counter-terrorism unit of Jammu and Kashmir Police and commandos from the special forces have cordoned off around five square kilometre area to smoke out the ultras hiding in the jungle.”Cordon and search operation is on. It is one of the longest operations in Kashmir. There has been intermittent contact (exchange of firing) with militants. They (ultras) may be hiding somewhere. Operation to hunt them down is on,” Colonel NN Joshi, defence spokesman at Srinagar, told dna.Security forces, however, are surprised about how the militants could survive for so many days given the sub-zero temperature and shortage of the food in the jungle.”It is extremely difficult to survive in these conditions. Temperatures are below the freezing point. Ultras cannot light a fire because smoke will automatically blow their cover. They cannot leave the jungles for food because there is a heavy cordon. We are trying to unravel this mystery,” said an intelligence official.The long operation has taken political overtones with Awami Ithaad Party president and MLA Langate Sheikh Abdul Rashid asking the government to intervene and lift the siege.”There seems to be no justification and logic for continuing the crackdown despite the cold weather. Civil and police administration should intervene and get the siege lifted without further delay so that the inhabitants of the area heave a sigh of relief,” he said.

Outgoing CJI HL Dattu may be the next Chairperson of NHRC

After helming judiciary for 14 months, Justice Handyala Lakshminarayanaswamy Dattu parried virtually avoided controversies during the 40-minute interaction with the journalists covering the Supreme Court.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
‘Prabhu ki kripa’ was how outgoing Chief Justice H L Dattu reacted to reports that he was being tipped as the next Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission.”Blessings of God. If I get it, fine. If I do not, even that is fine. I do not know whom they are going to appoint,” he told reporters in an informal chat a day before he demits office.After helming judiciary for 14 months, Justice Handyala Lakshminarayanaswamy Dattu parried virtually avoided controversies during the 40-minute interaction with the journalists covering the Supreme Court.”Debate is on in Parliament and other places. As head of the institution, I should not comment on it. It is not proper”, said Justice Dattu when asked for his views on the ongoing debate on growing intolerance.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”No comments” was his response to a question whether he regretted not appointing judges in the Supreme Court despite having a long tenure due to pendency of pleas against the NJAC Act. “No comments,” was his reply again when asked whether he considers himself unfortunate about not appointing more judges in the Supreme Court as head of the collegium.”It is a judicial process, it took sometime. I am not unfortunate,” he said in reply to the question.On the issue of filling up over 100 vacancies in various High Courts, the CJI said, “They (Centre) will come back to us as the Constitution bench has permitted the Collegium system to go on. …Those matters which are already pending with the Law Ministry will come back to the Collegium and Collegium will take a call on that.”The CJI also brushed aside a question as to whether there should be a cooling off period for judges after retirement and a new assignment. The outgoing CJI refused to answer a query on grant of bail to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa without issuing notice to CBI in the disproportionate assets case.”I have answered my conscience as a judge,” he said.On the smog covering Delhi sky and his order levying environment compensation charges from trucks entering national capital, he said, “There is much more to be done on the pollution front. The moment Harish Salve put it before us. We took adequate steps and much more is to be done ahead.”Concerned over long pendency of cases, the CJI said though it came down by 6000, the number was going up again with 220 new cases being filed every day.”As CJI, I am bothered about pendency in the Supreme Court as well as the High Court. The day when I had become the Chief Justice, we started with 64,000 pending cases, now we are at 58,000 and odd matters,” he said.”We do not have many (pending constitutional bench matters). The difficulty I faced was that we have to go for constitutional bench matters. The problem was that of sparing judges,” he added. He also expressed satisfaction at the working of the taxation bench, social justice bench and the two benches dealing with criminal cases.Terming his tenure as “satisfying”, Dattu said the best he could do he did for the institution.”No regrets whatsoever. No comments. I can only say that whatever best I could do I have done. I have answered my conscience, Guru and God… I was true to my conscience…,” he said adding,” I am satisfied. If I can make a poor man light a lamp in the house, I am happy.”On being questioned about the criticism of functioning of the judiciary, including judicial overreach, the CJI said, “A judge should not be bothered about what others say but must be answerable to his conscience, Guru and God”. Expressing his views on the nature and importance of PILs, he said, “PIL should be for a cause not as one which came yesterday (plea for CBI probe into the nationality row of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi).”There is a lot to be done. Otherwise it will create nuisance. Instead of coming to SC, I told them to go the High Court. It would be better if they go to HC then come here. Certainly it will be for public cause,” he said.”There is a lot to be done in this area, otherwise it will make no sense to the people at large and it would be a nuisance,” the Chief Justice said.On the issue of giving adequate representation to women, OBCs and Dalits in higher judiciary, he said, “Again it is a sub-judice matter…the five judges (who had on October 16 held that NJAC was unconstitutional) are going to lay down the procedure that is to be followed.”Let us see what procedure they are going to devise because one of the suggestions is that there should be adequate representation for ladies….there should be adequate representation for Dalits etc. They would certainly tell the future collegium what is to be done.”Regarding CJI designate Justice T S Thakur, he said,”I have worked with him for nine long years. I have practised before him. He was my senior at Karnataka High Court. He will be the best and a wonderful Chief Justice.”I am hundred per cent sure that he will do much better than what I have done (as the CJI). He will take it forward. Today SC looks better,” he said.On cutting down the number of holidays for the judges, Dattu said,”It is a misnomer. Judges do work during holidays.””There is pressure on my judges so they need to go on holidays… they do a lot of work during holidays. I have never been to places like CP and Khan market during my tenure in SC but, of course, I have taken my wife to Medanta and Apollo. Jugdes have to sacrifice and I too have sacrificed a lot,” he said.

GST will not make common man’s life any better that soon

GST is a system which is largely going to benefit business entities. For manufacturers and service-providers, GST means a pan-India market.

Even if the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill is passed and the new system is implemented from April 1, 2016, the common man will have to wait 4-5 years to enjoy its benefits. GST is a system which is largely going to benefit business entities. For manufacturers and service-providers, GST means a pan-India market. S Dutt Majumder, former Central Board of Excise and Customs chairman, told dna: “Overall, the compliance cost of business will go down. Hence, prices will also go down”. But this chain process will take 4-5 years to reach out to consumers. The soul of GST is its unique credit share. There would be a credit chain that wouldn’t be broken.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Anyone who pays tax on the inputs of either goods or services will have it set off against tax liability on the finished goods and final service. This is called input tax credit or ITC. Service tax, which constitutes 60% of the economy, may jump from 14-18% till GST is implemented. In the GST regime, there would not be a cascading effect. Take, for example, a mineral water bottle. Once the bottle is out of the factory gates, state governments step in and impose state VAT. If a bottle price is Rs 100, and excise duty and service tax is Rs 10 each, the price of the bottle becomes Rs 120. On that Rs 120, state governments collects 10% value added tax (VAT). The final price of the bottle then becomes Rs 132 (100+20+12=132). Manufacturers should have got a tax credit of Rs 20. Now, since the tax is paid to the centre, the state will not repay that money to them. GST is a consumption-based tax. It is based on the “destination principle.” GST is applied on goods and services at the place where the final consumption takes place. It is collected on value-added goods and services at each stage of sale or purchase in the supply chain. GST paid on the procurement of goods and services can be set off against that payable on the supply of goods or services. The manufacturer or wholesaler or retailer will pay the applicable GST rate but will claim it back through the tax credit mechanism. Being the last person in the supply chain, the end-consumer has to bear this tax. Though this is the case even today for all indirect taxes, the difference under the GST is that with the streamlining of multiple taxes, the final cost to the customer will be lower on the elimination of double-charging in the system.

Massive fire engulfs plastic factory in Jharkhand

“There was a massive fire here. We informed the fire department after we got to know about it.The estimates are that goods worth around Rs 1.5-2 crores has been gutted,” said Pradeep Singh.

Massive fire engulfs plastic factory in Jharkhand – Representational Image

A massive fire broke out at a plastic factory in Jharkhand’s Koderma district on Monday morning. The fire broke out at around 5 am after there was a short-circuit in the factory, which is located in Jumri Talaiya area of the district. Pradeep Singh, SHO, Talaiya, has said that goods worth around Rs 1.5 – 2 crores could have been gutted in the flames. “There was a massive fire here. We informed the fire department after we got to know about it.The estimates are that goods worth around Rs 1.5-2 crores has been gutted,” he said. “We were inside when there was a short-circuit. We rushed out and saw that there was a massive fire,” said a worker at the factory.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The fire has been brought under control, as per latest reports.

Political outreach necessary to sell reform ideas: Jairam Ramesh on GST

Ramesh said: “There are issues which are very fundamentally related to the future of Indian economy on which there is no political consensus and I think political consensus is absolutely essential.”

In some cases it takes up to a decade for consensus to emerge among political parties in India, he said.

File Photo
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Sunday said political outreach is necessary to “sell” reform ideas in a democracy and hoped that GST would act as a platform for building consensus on other issues. Speaking at the Times Litfest here, Ramesh said a lot of “small things” have still been left undone post the 1991 economic reforms, and to accomplish them there needs to be communication among various parties. “Economics of economic reform was known, but the politics of it was the one that drove the economic reform (of 1991). I am glad that finally a tea party was held day before yesterday and may be that is a part of political management which is very important for selling ideas,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invited former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi for a tea at his residence on Friday where the discussions covered legislations pending before Parliament, particularly the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Constitution Amendment Bill. Ramesh said: “There are issues which are very fundamentally related to the future of Indian economy on which there is no political consensus and I think political consensus is absolutely essential. I am hoping that the GST, it would create a trajectory for building the consensus on issues.”In some cases it takes up to a decade for consensus to emerge among political parties in India, he said, adding that the consensus on economic reform emerges after discussions within the Indian democratic process. “One of the great things about India is, India can always be counted on doing the right thing after having exhausted all the options. It may take 5-10 years, but ultimately we will do it. Insurance sector opening up took 10 ears,” Ramesh said. He added that for getting the 1991 reforms through under the then Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao, the Congress party had held meetings with the opposition parties and it was politics ultimately that ensured that reform. “The key lesson of 1991, which has resonance even for today, is political management… of the utmost importance. And by political management I mean political outreach, political communication, political manoeuvring, that’s the key,” Ramesh said.Asked about Congress opposing the amendments to the land acquisition law, Ramesh said, “The basic opposition that came to these amendments from across the political spectrum was that we were going back in a way to the spirit of 1894 law which allowed for land acquisition to take place without the permission of land owners and that were opening the doors for free acquisition of land.”

We are in the third world war right now: Capt Raghu Raman

“It is time to quit whining,” is Capt (Retd) Raman’s spontaneous reaction as he speaks of terrorism.

Face of terror changes, so invest in education than security: Capt. Raghu Raman

Capt. Raghu Raman, who served the Indian Army for 11 years from 1987 to 1998, now works with Reliance Industries as Group President, Risk, Security and New Ventures. In the years between these, he worked for the corporate sector for another 11 years before creating and heading the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), Ministry of Home Affairs of the Government of India.Paris terror attacksCapt. Raman, who is slated to speak at the TedXGateway in Mumbai on December 5, stresses on the need for a doctrinal change in the way we look at terrorism and react to it. “Earlier, the format was to prevent enemy nation’s soldiers from entering the country. Now, these enemies are no more restricted by borders, they are everywhere – cities and civilian areas,” he says.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The terrorists, he adds, will always major advantages over us. “Firstly, they always attack untrained civilians who can’t fight back. The damage potential is thus multiplied. Two, there will always be an element of surprise. Our security forces will guard a certain spot based on past experience, but the attackers will target some place else. The third, most important, advantage for them is that they never have to plan for extrication of their troops. The State, on the other hand, will always have to plan for extrication, no matter how risky,” he explains. “We need to understand their work pattern”, he says, elaborating, “There is a classical warfare formula wherein the attacker to defender ratio is 1:3. But it is different with terrorists. When 10 terrorists attack, around 140-150 lives are lost. When four to five attack, the number of people killed is around 40-50. So the ratio is around 1:10.”Tackling terrorismWhen asked about how terrorism can be prevented, he says his opinion is radical but sticks to it nevertheless. “You don’t prevent anymore because you only end up losing money. We are simply following the Americans. More cameras, more scanners, more money spent. At the end of the day, no hotel or organisation can guarantee security because the ways of the attackers are very different from security measures,” he said.The investment for a bright future is at present going into security, the ex-fauji believes. “If a digitally-evolved and technically-advanced country like France couldn’t avoid it, then not much can be done to avoid attacks. That is why I stress on doctrinal change. It is bound to be a slow change, but it can be done. The motive to terrorise is achieved when we spend billions of hard-earned money on security. We should instead spend that money on educating the poor and laying the foundation for a better tomorrow,” Capt Raman said.“More people died after 9/11 in road accidents in the USA that year than the number of people killed in the attack itself. People were afraid of flying post the attack and took to road travel, leading to traffic congestion and road accidents,” he says.Talking about how change can be affected, he says, “When I talk about doctrinal changes, it means we change our leaders too. I am not talking about political parties. Change the age group of our leaders. Why are old people still telling us what to do? They are bound to have an older doctrine which does not apply today. We need younger leaders who will ultimately bring about the larger change.”Life in the Indian Army“We go from exchanging mugs to exchanging blood,” he begins speaking of life in the Army. Life in the forces is a different game altogether, he says, elaborating, “When I first joined the Indian Military Academy (IMA), we were all given a mug each. The same mug would be used for absolutely everything – from drinking water, tea and much more. This mug would eventually also get exchanged among cadets. And you can’t complain. That is how you learn. Tomorrow, you could be exchanging blood with these very people.”Asked about the communal tension in the country, Capt Raman says, “In the Indian Armed Forces, nobody has ever fought over religion. For us, a unit is one family, irrespective of religion and background of the officers. But when soldiers come home on leave, they see a different picture outside. That is where the challenge begins,” he says.The next generation needs to start questioning, he believes. Today, everyone thinks that the Islamic State (IS) is the gravest enemy. “No doubt, it is a big challenge but given a choice between being a Prisoner of War (PoW) in Pakistan and my throat being slashed by an IS terrorist, I would prefer the latter. It is just that we can see the IS activities on the internet and that is why we perceive it as a larger threat,” he explains.Siachen – the highest battlefieldCapt Raman terms his stint in Siachen as an amazing experience. “A soldier posted here has to fight on three fronts– enemy, weather and with the self. Officers as young as 22-year-olds are guarding the borders by themselves. If this is the case, then why do we have 80-year-olds taking the decisions in the government, affecting two billion people?”AFSPA and the way ahead“It is a difficult problem to resolve,” says Capt Raman. There are too many stakeholders involved, he informs. “We are heading towards a conflict economy. People funding the security will never want the conflict to end,” he says.“Every nation’s leader has called for a war against terrorism today. Are we still waiting for the third world war? I believe we are in the third world war right now. Only the format of war has changed,” he signs off.(Capt Raghu Raman will be speaking at the TEDxGateway, Mumbai, on December 5, 2015, at NCPA)
This article was first published on iamin.in. For more such hyperlocal stories, visit their website.

Maharashtra sets up panel to review pay disparity between cops, jailers

The jail constables are not paid for working on an off day whereas police constables are given a full day’s salary. “There are several parameters where standards differ for the two forces despite being under the same department.

The home department has set up a committee to review and find solutions to existing disparity between the salaries and perks of jail officials as compared to police officials. As of today constables, head constables, and even senior officials of the jail department draw less pay and do not get same perks as given to police department officials. For instance there is no medical insurance cover for constables employed with the jail department. Also, the uniform allowance to police constables is given twice a year, but jail department constables get it once in two years.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The jail constables are not paid for working on an off day whereas police constables are given a full day’s salary. “There are several parameters where standards differ for the two forces despite being under the same department.Therefore, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis is of the view that we should bring them at par,” said KP Bakshi, additional chief secretary, home department. However, the move will add an additional burden of Rs10-12 crore on the department. Fadnavis, who also holds additional charge of home department, promised several police reforms even before coming to power. The most prominent one was to provide housing to 25 lakh police personnel. “My government has accorded the highest priority to improving the living standards of police personnel. The first project I approved of after taking charge of the home ministry was police housing. I have given permission for Floor Space Index up to 4 for police housing projects in Mumbai. In the rest of the state also police housing has been given priority,” Fadnavis had said earlier.Secondly, Fadnavis has enhanced the allowances for police personnel manifold. From Rs68 to Rs105 varying on the rank ranging from constable to police inspector the hike effected from April 1 is Rs 490 to Rs 902. It has benefited 2.06 lakh police personnel.

Are exit polls an exercise in skill or luck?

There is a danger that we are looking for the hot hand. The “hot-hand fallacy” is the belief that a person who has experienced success with a random event has a greater chance of further success in additional attempts.

dna
The most eagerly awaited exit poll before Bihar results was Today’s Chanakya and it went on to become the most ridiculed. Axis, a relatively less know agency, became the toast of town. Naturally, we will now eagerly await predictions by Axis in the next state election. A common theme across many exit polls was close fight. JDU and NDA were neck and neck. As we all know, when the results came out, the margin was mile and a yard. We were all left wondering how pollsters didn’t pick up on such a one sided election.Understandably there are many explanations for these differences between various exit polls. Sampling errors, selection bias as articulated by Yogendra Yadav, caste weights, inadequacies of the prediction models among others. I am no psephologist and am not going to analyse why the inconsistency. I am also not going to analyse what drove voter preferences.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Let’s just look at one aspect— What is role of skill in getting predictions right?What strikes me is the fascination for a particular pollster, someone who we think is invincible. If you go back to our Twitter timelines, you will see many people saying things like “He predicted everything right since 2013”, “He always got the winner right”, “They were spot on in 2014”. Today’s Chanakya had the hot hand— they had success in the last event, so they were expected to in the future too. The mood in BJP changed after Chanakya’s prediction came in. A leading English news channel even decided not to reveal their exit polls which were very different from Chanakya’s. One prominent Hindi channel changed their prediction the night before election results and called the election for BJP.So is it really skill or is it just luck and chance, as Nobel Laurette Daniel Kahneman calls it. In his bestselling book Thinking Fast and Slow, Kahneman talked of a really interesting story. He was invited to talk to a investment advisory firm that provides financial advise to the super rich. The firm had 25 advisors and on Kahneman’s request, the firm provided eight year of data for investment results of these advisers. What their recommendations were and how it played out in the market. Needless to say, the results determine growth and bonus of these advisors. What he was looking for in this data is consistency and skill. Did the same set of advisers consistently achieve better returns every year? And did some advisers demonstrate that they had better skill than their colleagues? Kahneman calculated the correlations between the rankings of advisers in different years, comparing year one with year two, year one with year three.The results surprised Kahneman. “While I was prepared to find little year-to-year consistency,” he writes, “I was still surprised to find that the average of the 28 correlations was .01. In other words, zero. The stability that would demonstrate differences in skill levels among different advisers was absent.” He further writes “The results resembled what you would expect from a dice-rolling contest, not a game of skill and the firm was rewarding luck as if it were skill”.A useful exercise would be to check the consistency of pollsters over a 10-15 year period or across 10 such polls to know whether it is skill or just luck and chance. In a complex country like ours where there are multiple parties and all kinds of realignments are happening, it is hard to predict. We certainly cannot accuse pollsters of dishonesty or lack of effort. Maybe the crazy number of these factors make elections a very random event affair than one with clear, identifiable patterns.The advisory firm didn’t take note of Kahneman’s advise. They said the bonuses were hard earned and he was making light of their achievements. Kahneman concludes “the illusion of skill is not only an individual aberration; it is deeply ingrained in the culture of the industry.”There is a same danger here, where we are looking for the hot hand. The “hot-hand fallacy” is the belief that a person who has experienced success with a random event has a greater chance of further success in additional attempts. This is commonly used in gambling and sports like basketball. The law of averages caught up with Today’s Chanakya and Axis is the current hot hand. They may well get the next poll right, but when will their luck run out?PS: The purpose of this piece is not to undermine the honesty and sincerity of pollsters. There is a great amount of skill involved in doing exit polls. This is merely a hypotheses that explains inconsistencies in predictions.

Face of terror changes, so invest in education than security: Capt Raghu Raman

“It is time to quit whining,” is the spontaneous reaction of Capt (Retd) Raman as he speaks of terrorism.

Raghu Raman

Team iamin
Capt Raghu Raman, who served the Indian Army for 11 years from 1987 to 1998, now works with Reliance Industries as Group President, Risk, Security and New Ventures. In the years between these, he worked for the corporate sector for another 11 years before creating and heading the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), Ministry of Home Affairs of the Government of India. Paris terror attacks Capt Raman, who is slated to speak at the TedXGateway in Mumbai on December 5, stresses on the need for a doctrinal change in the way we look at terrorism and react to it. “Earlier, the format was to prevent enemy nation’s soldiers from entering the country. Now, these enemies are no more restricted by borders, they are everywhere – cities and civilian areas,” he says.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The terrorists, he adds, will always major advantages over us. “Firstly, they always attack untrained civilians who can’t fight back. The damage potential is thus multiplied. Two, there will always be an element of surprise. Our security forces will guard a certain spot based on past experience but the attackers will target some place else. The third, most important, advantage for them is that they never have to plan for extrication of their troops. The State, on the other hand, will always have to plan for extrication, no matter how risky,” he explainWe need to understand their work pattern, he says, elaborating, “There is a classical warfare formula wherein the attacker to defender ratio is 1:3. But it is different with terrorists. When 10 terrorists attack, around 140-150 lives are lost. When four to five attack, the number of people killed is around 40-50. So the ratio is around 1:10.” Tackling terrorism When asked about how terrorism can be prevented, he says his opinion is radical but sticks to it nevertheless. “You don’t prevent anymore because you only end up losing money. We are simply following the Americans. More cameras, more scanners, more money spent. At the end of the day, no hotel or organisation can guarantee security because the ways of the attackers are very different from security measures,” he said. The investment for a bright future is at present going into security, the ex-fauji believes. “If a digitally-evolved and technically-advanced country like France couldn’t avoid it, then not much can be done to avoid attacks. That is why I stress on doctrinal change. It is bound to be a slow change but it can be done. The motive to terrorise is achieved when we spend billions of hard-earned money on security. We should instead spend that money on educating the poor and laying the foundation for a better tomorrow,” Capt Raman said. “More people died after 9/11 in road accidents in the USA that year than the number of people killed in the attack itself. People were afraid of flying post the attack and took to road travel, leading to traffic congestion and road accidents,” he says. Talking about how change can be affected, he says, “When I talk about doctrinal changes, it means we change our leaders too. I am not talking about political parties. Change the age group of our leaders. Why are old people still telling us what to do? They are bound to have an older doctrine which does not apply today. We need younger leaders who will ultimately bring about the larger change.” Life in the Indian Army “We go from exchanging mugs to exchanging blood,” he begins speaking of life in the Army. Life in the forces is a different game altogether, he says, elaborating, “When I first joined the Indian Military Academy (IMA), we were all given a mug each. The same mug would be used for absolutely everything – from drinking water, tea and much more. This mug would eventually also get exchanged among cadets. And you can’t complain. That is how you learn. Tomorrow, you could be exchanging blood with these very people.” Asked about the communal tension in the country, Capt Raman says, “In the Indian Armed Forces, nobody has ever fought over religion. For us, a unit is one family, irrespective of religion and background of the officers. But when soldiers come home on leave, they see a different picture outside. That is where the challenge begins,” he says. The next generation needs to start questioning, he believes. Today, everyone thinks that the Islamic State (IS) is the gravest enemy. “No doubt, it is a big challenge but given a choice between being a Prisoner of War (PoW) in Pakistan and my throat being slashed by an IS terrorist, I would prefer the latter. It is just that we can see the IS activities on the internet and that is why we perceive it as a larger threat,” he explains. Siachen – the highest battlefield Capt Raman terms his stint in Siachen as an amazing experience. “A soldier posted here has to fight on three fronts –enemy, weather and with the self. Officers as young as 22-year-olds are guarding the borders by themselves. If this is the case, then why do we have 80-year-olds taking the decisions in the government, affecting two billion people?” AFSPA and the way ahead“It is a difficult problem to resolve,” says Capt Raman. There are too many stakeholders involved, he informs. “We are heading towards a conflict economy. People funding the security will never want the conflict to end,” he says. “Every nation’s leader has called for a war against terrorism today. Are we still waiting for the third world war? I believe we are in the third world war right now. Only the format of war has changed,” he signs off.The interview was originally published on www.iamin.in

Pakistan and Nepal call for ‘dialogue’ to improve relations with India

Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit and Nepal’s Ambassador to India Deep Kumar Upadhyay were speaking at a seminar on Indo-Pak relations organised by NGO Ambassadors of Goodwill Across Borders in New Delhi.

India’s neighbours on Wednesday called for “dialogue” to improve mutual relations, with Pakistan calling for a revival of the composite framework and Nepal hoping that “tension” over the promulgation of constitution would dissipate and give way to better ties.Pakistani High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit said that a stable and effective regional cooperative architecture was not possible on shaky inter-state relations. He laid stress on the need for talks to achieve peace. Basit and Nepal’s Ambassador to India Deep Kumar Upadhyay were speaking at a seminar on Indo-Pak relations organised by NGO Ambassadors of Goodwill Across Borders in New Delhi.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”In order to achieve peace we need to talk to each other. It’s important that we talk so as to overcome the challenges. We need not reinvent the wheel. The composite dialogue framework is all encompassing and includes everything such as terrorism, Kashmir, Sir Creek,” Basit said.The Pakistani High Commissioner insisted that in his capacity he was doing everything necessary to “make this happen”. “We owe it to posterity to resolve our disputes and leave a legacy of peace and friendship.”Meanwhile, speaking on the same theme, Upadhyay observed that Nepal has “never been colonised” in its history, without making any direct reference to India’s role in the ongoing crisis situation in the Himalayan country.”There are issues even within a family. In the same way, there is tension between the governments of the two countries (India and Nepal) at the moment,” he said.Referring to the April 2015 earthquake in Nepal, which devastated parts of the country, Upadhyay said that “warmth” exuded by the people of both the nations in the aftermath of the quake gives him hope for better times ahead.”There’s no gas in Nepal because it is completely dependent on India for supply of gas. There’s a humanitarian crisis,” he said.There has been strain in India-Nepal relations in recent weeks in the wake of protests by Indian-origin Madhesis against the new Constitution, with Kathmandu blaming India for fuel shortages by not allowing fuel trucks to cross the border into Nepal. India has been maintaining that the supply was obstructed due to protests on the Nepalese side and has appealed to Nepal to resolve the political crisis.Veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar, who was also present on the occasion, stressed on the need for amity between India and Pakistan recalling how Pakistan’s slain Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto had talked about a “borderless subcontinent” to him.

Nirbhaya case: Delhi police to book juvenile under NSA?

The convict will be released in December after the completion of his three years in the correctional home.

the juvenile convicted in the case

Delhi police is contemplating to book the juvenile convicted in Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case under the National Security Act. The juvenile is due to come out of the remand home in less than a month. The convict will be released in December after the completion of his three years in the correctional home. According to reports, senior Delhi police officials met with some senior lawyers to seek an opinion on the issue. If booked under the National Security Act, his detention can stretch for one year. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An Intelligence Bureau report had also previously stated that the teenager who is now 21 had been radicalised by one of the suspect of the 2011 Delhi High Court blast and was being was being motivated for jihad.Parents of the gangrape victim had also earlier approached the National Human Rights Commission, to seek for a stay on his release, IBN reportedAn NHRC statement stated, “Parents have stated that the juvenile, who was largely responsible for the death of their daughter and was the most brutal amongst all the offenders, is supposed to be released sometime in December. They have submitted that such persons are threat to the life and liberty of the common man. There should be a mechanism to keep a strict check on them so that people are not subjected to any risk of being harmed. The complainants have also stated that the rate of recidivism (committing crimes again) is fairly high.”

Some are misleading, some are misled: Venkaiah Naidu on Aamir Khan’s ‘intolerance’ remarks

Aamir Khan was at the centre of a raging debate a day after he expressed “alarm and despondency” over the rise in incidents of intolerance in the last six to eight months

Venkaiah Naidu

In the backdrop of a raging controversy over actor Aamir Khan’s remarks on “intolerance” issue, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday said “some people are misleading and some people are misled”.”Who comes in which category, I do not want to say. Some are propagating wrong things some are coming under wrong propaganda. My suggestion is that the situation in India is better than any other country. There is more tolerance in India. People of India are tolerant. “Recently since our government came, communal clashes have come down. The killing of innocent people by Naxalites have come down. Incidents of atrocities have also come down,” he said in an oblique reference to the Bollywood superstar’s statement.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Aamir Khan was at the centre of a raging debate a day after he expressed “alarm and despondency” over the rise in incidents of intolerance in the last six to eight months. Referring to Dadri lynching incident, the Union Minister said some “stray incidents” are blown out of proportion. “These are issues related to state. Now they are blaming the Centre because they could not digest the emergence of Narendra Modi as world leader. In order to defame Modi they are defaming the country, too.”M M Kalburgi (killing) incident happened in Karnataka, ruled by Congress. Instead of taking responsibility Congress made it political. Dadri incident happened in Uttar Pradesh, which is ruled by Congress-friendly Samajwadi Party. “I am not trying to blame them but if you try to play the blame game then you have to take back it because it will boomerang on you. Let us not vitiate the atmosphere. Try to understand the problem and try to address them,” Naidu said.He said as far as the government of India is concerned it has not done anything wrong. “There are no atrocities by the government. There is no restriction on anybody by the government, no force on anybody by the government. Modi government focuses on development. We are focusing our attention on development and these people are trying to distract from development. “BJP is a rising force in a different part of the country some of the political parties are seeing BJP is a potential state in some of these states,” he said.On the award wapasi issue, Naidu said he would like to remind that some of the people who returned the awards had in past issued public appeal to the people asking them to defeat Modi and not allow him to become Prime Minister. “Now after some time after some incidents here and there, they are trying to defame the government and they are becoming tools of the Congress party. This protest is against the mandate of the people. Otherwise issues are local and they need to be condemned and action has to be taken,” he said.

Mohan Bhagwat bats for mother tongue as medium of learning during initial education

Mohan Bhagwat

Stating that the mother tongue is the best medium of instruction at the primary school level, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on Tuesday sought priority for native language over foreign language in initial education.”If mother tongue is the medium of learning during the initial education, it makes learning easier in further education. This is not possible if one starts learning in a foreign language since childhood,” Bhagwat said. The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh chief was addressing silver jubilee function of Vidya Bharati institute here. There are several instances of people who studied in their native tongue and went on to serve the country at highest levels, Bhagwat said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The RSS chief, however, said he was not opposed to teaching of other languages. “We should know our mother tongue. Hindi unites the entire country and the number of people who know Hindi is increasing. After having a complete knowledge of the mother tongue, we should also learn foreign languages to make our country shine at the international platforms.”None of the foreign languages are unacceptable to us, but the priority should be learning the mother tongue,” he said. He also hailed the efforts of Vidya Bharati to impart “culture-based” education.

Lalu-Kejriwal hug: Part of our ‘sanskar’ to hug guests, says Bihar Dy CM Tejaswi Yadav

The image of the Delhi Chief Minister and Prasad embracing had gone viral and put Kejriwal’s anti-graft credentials under serious question.

Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejaswi Yadav

PTI
Amidst the claim by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal that Lalu Prasad had “pulled and hugged him” at the swearing-in ceremony of Nitish Kumar, the RJD chief’s son and Bihar deputy chief minister Tejaswi Yadav on Tuesday said hugging a guest was part of ‘sanskar’ (tradition).”Its part of our sanskar to hug a guest who has come in a pleasant event,” Tejaswi Yadav told reporters.”Let anybody say anything … Its part of our sanskar to embrace a guest who has come to participate in a celebration. There is nothing wrong in it,” he said on Kejriwal’s comment.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The image of the Delhi Chief Minister and Prasad embracing had gone viral and put Kejriwal’s anti-graft credentials under serious question. In an effort to wriggle out of the controversy, Kejriwal had said it was the RJD chief who had “pulled and hugged him” and it did not amount to an “alliance”.

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