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ED questions V K Singh’s aide in PMLA case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Enforcement Directorate today questioned a close aide of Union Minister and former army chief VK Singh in connection with its money laundering probe in a case of alleged financial irregularities in supply of high-altitude tents worth Rs 22 crore to intelligence agency RAW. Official sources said the agency sleuths questioned Shambhu Prasad Singh and recorded his statement under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in the case. He was also quizzed last week. They said the alleged charges against Shambhu, who is an aide of the Minister of State for External Affairs, pertain to availing a loan of about Rs 30 crore from a bank to execute the order for the covert unit of the Research and Analysis Wing and its subsequent alleged default. The agency had registered a PMLA case based on a 2014 FIR in the same case, they said. The sources said the case is related to alleged corruption in the supply of high altitude tents worth Rs 22 crore required by SFF, a covert unit operating under the external intelligence agency RAW, during 2009-13.CBI had registered a case against Sai Baba Builders and Consultants and its three directors Shyam Sunder Bhatter, J P N Singh and Manjari, who is the wife of Shambhu. “The Central Bureau of Investigation has registered a case against a Delhi-based private firm along with their directors, unknown officials of the Special Frontier Force (SFF) and unknown officials of Cabinet Secretariat,” the CBI had said. The Enforcement Directorate, sources said, is looking at the money trail in the case and once the ‘proceeds of crime’ are identified, the alleged tainted assets will be attached. The CBI case was registered under IPC sections related to cheating and forgery among others and provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act. “It has been alleged that wrongful favour was shown by the officials of the SFF and Cabinet Secretariat in the matter of the preparation of tender, procurement, supply and installation of the pre-fabricated shelters for SFF troops during the period 2009-13 which were purchased from the said company,” CBI had said.The CBI action had come after the agency received a reference in this regard from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). RAW had earlier carried out an internal probe in the matter in which prima facie irregularities were found. The report was sent to the PMO which had referred it to CBI for further probe. SFF was set up after the 1962 India-China war to carry out specialised operations for RAW.

Rajnath Singh to brief 150 editors of regional media about security

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amidst escalating tension with Pakistan, Home Minister Rajnath Singh will brief around 150 editors of regional media about the country’s internal security and prevailing situation along the Indo-Pak border. Singh, a key member of the Cabinet Committee on Security, will tell the editors of mostly regional newspapers published and circulated in North and Northeast about various steps taken for strengthening the internal security apparatus as well as border security at a two-day conference to be held in Chandigarh next week. The Home Minister will inaugurate the Regional Editors Conference on October 17 which will be attended by editors of regional papers of Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Chandigarh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Assam and other Northeastern states, a Home Ministry official said. The Home Minister will give deeper perspective and context with regards to various initiatives, policies and programmes of the government, the official said.The conference comes nearly a fortnight after the Indian Army carried out surgical strikes on terror launch pads in PoK after 19 soldiers were killed by terrorists in Uri.A sizeable section of the armed forces personnel come from these states from where the editors of the regional media hail and sentiments of the people there about the ongoing tension with Pakistan is considered to be very high. The Home Minister is expected to tell the editors about the NDA government’s broader agenda on internal security and steps taken to strengthen security on the international border and Line of Control with Pakistan.Singh had already said that the border with Pakistan would be sealed by December 2018. He had also said India never attacks anyone and it does not intend to occupy others’ land. “Our heritage is ‘Vasudev Kutumbakam’ meaning the whole word is one family. We never open fire first, but if attacked, in retaliation we never count the bullets after pulling the trigger,” he had said.The Home Minister also said that despite Modi government’s efforts to improve relations with Pakistan, there has been no reciprocation from Islamabad and stressed that there will be “no compromise with the honour of the country”. Singh is expected to announce the NDA government’s intention to set up regional media centres in different parts of the country on the line of National Media Centre established in New Delhi. During his recent visit to Jammu and Kashmir, journalists of the state had requested him to help in setting up media centres in Srinagar and Jammu.

Draft Anti-Trafficking Bill not a ‘single comprehensive act’, will apply alongside 12 other laws

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Draft Anti-Trafficking Bill may have been dubbed as a “comprehensive” legislation when it was launched earlier this year but activists say an umbrella law for this offence is not possible in the Indian context. Final touches are being given to the draft bill before it is sent to the Cabinet. The government is holding discussions with NGOs on the proposed bill aimed at addressing various aspects of human trafficking.At the unveiling of the draft bill on May 30, the then Secretary of Women and Child Development V Somasundaran had said, “Trafficking is the third largest organised crime and time has now come to deal with it through a single comprehensive act.” However, the proposed legislation to curb trafficking is not a “single comprehensive act” as it was initially tipped to be.Activists say it will apply alongside at least 12 other laws which have provisions to deal with different kinds of trafficking. These include Immoral Trafficking of Persons Act, IPC Section 176(a) and 363-374, CRPC, Juvenile Justice Act, Child Labour Act, Bonded Labour Abolition Act, Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, Prevention of Child Sexual Offences, IT Act, Transplantation of Human Organs Act, Inter-state Migrant’s Workmen Act, among others.The activists say subsequent drafts have in fact corrected what was a flawed approach of having a composite law, which would address different kinds of trafficking within its ambit.”The previous drafts have brought out one prominent failure in the entire exercise, namely carving out a single, comprehensive law seeking to address the essence of human trafficking with or without addressing each of the destination crimes of human trafficking,” according to Pravin Patkar of Prerana.He also says several laws that currently deal with different aspects of human trafficking are adequate and, therefore, what is needed is to merely fill the gaps that exist. “Most of the existing separate laws dealing with the known destination crimes of human trafficking (e.g., sex trade, sweatshops, beggary rackets, human organ trade, exploitation of children in the labour sector, bonded labour) are, by and large, adequate. “… Bringing all of the laws together under one law will only be possible by physically pinning the pages of the distinct laws together with a single cover page. It will not be a new organic identity,” says Patkar.NGO Prajwala’s Sunitha Krishnan, who is part of a committee formed to frame a new law on trafficking, too says it is not possible to have an umbrella law for this offence. “You can’t have a comprehensive law because there are existing legislations. The idea is to have provisions in the new law that are missing in other existing laws. At the same time the new law should be read along with existing laws.” The proposed legislation defines “trafficking of person” as per Section 370 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, which is, “Whoever, for the purpose of exploitation, (a) recruits, (b) transports, (c) harbours, (d) transfers, or (e) receives, a person or persons commits the offence of trafficking.” The draft bill also clubs together different forms of trafficking under the category of “aggravated trafficking”, with punishment of up to life imprisonment. This category includes bonded labour, trafficking for the purpose of bearing a child, trafficking for the purpose of marriage, trafficking for begging, trafficking of a pregnant woman or resulting into pregnancy, among others.The draft also seeks to create a National Anti-Trafficking Bureau for preventing, investigating and protecting cases or victims of trafficking.

J&K: Grenades, explosives recovered from terrorists confirms Pak connection in Naugam attack: Army

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Two days after the four militants were killed while trying to infiltrate from Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK), Indian Army on Saturday said that the grenades, explosives and other materials recovered from terrorists killed in Naugam operation confirmed Pakistan’s connection.The army, during the intervening night of October five and six foiled three infiltration bids along the LoC — two in Naugam sector and one in Rampur — of North Kashmir, killing four terrorists.”Four terrorists were eliminated by Army on the LoC in Naugam sector on 06 Oct 16. Pakistan Ordinance factory markings on the hand grenades and the UBGL grenades recovered from the terrorists, confirms Pakistan complicity in abetting and equipping terrorism,” said Northern Command in the release posted on its official Twitter account.”The hand grenades recovered are ARGES 84 which are manufactured by Pakistan Ordinance Factory. Pakistan origin markings are also seen on the medicines and eatable items recovered,” the release said.”A large number of highly inflammable material, like six plastic explosive slabs, bottles of petroleum jelly, six bottles of inflammable liquid and six lighters were also recovered. Similarinflammable material was recovered at Poonch Incident of 11 September and Uri Incident of 18 September,” it added.Stating that this showed the sinister design of Pakistan to aid terrorists in causing maximum destruction, the Northern Command also listed other items recovered from the terrorists including- 1) AK 47 Rifles – 04 (2) Magazine AK 47- 16 (3) AMN -349 Rds (4) Radio set- 1 (5) GPS- 1 (6) Binocular- 1 (7) Wire cutter -2 (8) Samsung mobile – 1 (9) Rain Ponchos & Haversack- 4(each) (10) First Aid kit (11) Clothing and eatable items.The infiltration bids came barely a day after National Security Advisor Ajit Doval reportedly briefed the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) that the Pakistani army had mobilised about 100 terrorists across the LoC to push them into India to carry out attacks in Jammu and Kashmir.The Indian army had carried out surgical strikes on September 29, crossing over the LoC in Kupwara sector in the Kashmir Valley and Poonch in Jammu region, destroying launch pads meant for terrorists. It was believed that nearly a dozen terrorists were killed in Kel, Lipa and Bhimber Gali and given a quiet burial.

LoC video footage: PM Modi asks ministers to leave issue to Army

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Modi’s message advising everyone to remain calm post the Cabinet meeting on Thursday was short and crisp. According to sources the PM said — not everyone needs to speak on the surgical strikes, it is the Army’s job and they should be allowed to handle it.On the question of the Opposition’s growing demand to release footage of the LoC strikes, sources in the defence ministry said that while footage on the Army had been submitted to the Cabinet Committee of Security, there were no discussions on releasing the footage. Sources added that the defence ministry’s briefing slated for Thursday to the Parliament Standing Committee on Defence has been deferred to October 14. They added that security czars in the government were still weighing their options on releasing the footage and discussing whether it could have future strategy implications.The government so far has chosen to not indulge in chest thumping and Pakistan-baiting on the LoC strikes. Indeed on September 29, when the Army carried out their operations, the PM’s usually active Twitter handle was silent. Since then, he has neither spoken or tweeted, publicly on the issue.Despite the Prime Minister’s silence, sources say the mood in the BJP camp, post the strikes, is upbeat, and the political consensus is that the Opposition’s demand for the video footage is due to a fear that the party will use the issue to maximise political gains in Punjab and UP. As a result, analysts believe, they are stepping up pressure on the government on the issue with the latter looking to take the higher moral ground.The BJP’s caution could be seen from the beginning. Instead of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, the DGMO was sent to announce the strike to mediapersons. Even on the political front, the party has been muted in its response to the Opposition.While Minister of State for Home Hansraj Amir said in Mumbai on Wednesday that it was for the Prime Minister to decide on whether the video footage of the strike should be made public, Kiren Rijiju also an MoS for Home, said that everyone needed to have faith in the government and allow the Army to take its own call.”The laid down procedure has been followed. The DGMO briefed (about the surgical strikes). It was not the defence minister nor the prime minister and not the home minister. It was the DGMO who briefed (the media). That was the right thing to do and they (Army) did it,” he said.”Have faith in the government and leave it to the army,” he added.Army officials also felt the situation was best left to them. Former Army Chief General VP Malik said the demand for making the video public was “utter nonsense.” He said, It is only for the Army to take a call on whether to release the video or not and when.”Another former Army chief General Joginder Jaswant Singh was quoted as saying by news agencies, that releasing the video was not in the national interest.”It is not in national interest to put it (the video footage) in the public domain. It has never been done in the past. In fact it is not even supposed to be talked about. We must be mature enough as a country to be able to ensure that this kind of pressure is not put on government or army to produce videos.”But not everyone was on the same page. When asked, senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said on Wednesday that he favoured putting out an edited video of the action the LoC. “I think they should edit the video of the logistics value of it and show the other part, showing explosions, the dead body… they have got in the video. So all these parts can be released,” he said.The BJP has so far ignored Swamy’s remarks but has gone after the Delhi Chief Minister and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal. In a statement Kejriwal had sought proof from the government that the Indian Army had conducted the strikes.BJP Spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao said on Wednesday, “At a time when the whole world has stopped believing Pakistan we have the spectacle of Congress, Kejriwal and other parties questioning strike carried out by our armed forces and giving a handle to Pakistan to advance its false propaganda.”Such sharp statements could not prevent Opposition parties from engaging the government on the issue. Congress spokesperson, Randeep Singh Surjewala, claimed that surgical strikes were conducted thrice when their party was in power at the Centre, but “in its maturity, wisdom and in the interest of national security, the Congress Government had avoided making loud claims.”It is believed that the Modi government does not want political escalation the issue because it is aware that such a move could backfire. With intelligence reports suggesting that 100 more terrorists are lined up to cross the LoC, the Prime Minister is clearly aware that the LoC issue is far from over.Mehbooba Mufti meets PM ModiAmidst the tension on the borders, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reach out to the people of Jammu and Kashmir with “tangible” confidence building measures to address their political, economic and development concerns.During the hour long-meeting on Wednesday, soon after the Prime Minister chaired a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), Mufti sought de-escalation of the tension saying, people in Jammu and Kashmir have been the worst sufferers of the hostility and confrontation in the region.”Today also hundreds of families have to migrate from the border areas of the state and they suffer immense hardship because of the prevailing tense situation in the region,” she said and stressed the need for reviving the peace and reconciliation process in the region.She also discussed with the Prime Minister, the law and order situation and the situation along the borders. “The people in Kashmir have gone through enormous agony and pain and the time has come to reach out to them and apply balm to their wounds through ample initiatives at political, economic and developmental levels,” she is said to have told the Prime Minister.She asked the Prime Minister to view the current situation in the state as an opportunity to start a dialogue process with the people of Jammu and Kashmir. “I hope that the Prime Minister, who has received such a big mandate, takes this situation as an opportunity and reaches out to the people of Jammu and Kashmir by starting a productive dialogue process to end the miseries of the people in the state,” she said.

Cauvery issue: Karnataka caught between a rock and a hard place, special legislature session convened

Unrelenting in its position, despite the fresh Supreme Court order to release 6,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu, the Karnataka Cabinet on Saturday night decided to convene a special legislature session on 3 October, the second recently, to take a call on the apex court directive.

On 27 September, the Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and UU Lalit directed Karnataka to release 6,000 cusecs to Tamil Nadu for three days, despite the resolution passed by the state legislature. This came after the Cauvery Supervisory Committee had on 19 September asked Karnataka to release 3,000 cusecs daily from 21 to 30 September, but the apex court had on 20 September doubled the quantum to 6,000 cusecs from 21 to 27 September after Tamil Nadu pressed for water to save its samba paddy crop.

File photo of CM Siddaramiah. PTI

File photo of CM Siddaramiah. PTI

Refusing to budge from its stand, a day after the Supreme Court gave the “last opportunity” to comply with its order, the Karnataka government questioned the constitution of the Cauvery Water Management Board and decided to file a review petition in this regard on Monday. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah spelled out the state’s stand to reporters after an all-party meeting convened by him that concluded that the government should not release 6,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu as directed by the Supreme Court “at any cost”, and to oppose the formation of the Board, said a PTI report.

According to The Indian Express, this petition would seek a review of the Supreme Court order directing the Centre to form a Cauvery Management Board as the State government of Karnataka alleges that it goes against the earlier 3 December, 2013 order postponing the formation of the Board till the civil appeal was decided. Chief Minister Siddaramiah added that Kerala and Puducherry, also riparian parties of the Cauvery Basin were not issued on the Board and that any water board should be ratified by the Parliament according to the Inter-State Water Dispute Act of 1956. It was also decided in the Cabinet meeting on Saturday that Karnataka would not nominate any member to the Board.

“We have not defied the orders of the Supreme Court… There is no willful disobedience or deliberate disobedience,” Siddaramaiah said, adding the legislature session was binding on the government. Siddaramaiah said there was a demand for release of water to save standing crops in the Cauvery basin but a decision on that too had to be taken by the legislature, which had earlier decided that water should be used only for drinking purpose.

In a Times Of India report, legal experts think that the court will hold the resolution to ‘willful disobedience’ of its order and would call the chief minister and chief secretary before a bench for admonition. The Supreme Court could even direct the Centre to dismiss the Siddaramiah government and issue President’s Rule in the state. But any allaying by the Congress on this issue would face censure from the opposition parties BJP and the Janata Dal (S) that have strongly backed the Siddaramiah government decision of not releasing water to Tamil Nadu.

Before he went into a huddle with his ministerial colleagues, Siddaramaiah held consultations with Opposition leaders at an all-party meeting on the state’s next move as it suffered repeated judicial setbacks on the issue. JDS leader YSV Datta had said that the state should not release 6,000 cusecs as directed by the apex court “at any cost”. “Whatever may be the consequences, we will all face it together. We are with the government,” he said. He said if a situation of contempt of court was to arise, all MPs, MLAs and MLCs should submit affidavits, stating that they all be made responsible and not just the Chief Minister and the chief secretary.

Considering the wrath of the law upon contempt of court and its own position to reaffirm its authority, the Karnataka legislature will pass a modified resolution. They may release water to help farmers of both states without giving way to any kind of crisis in Bengaluru. This resolution is expected to include the concerns of the farmers in Mysuru and Mandya.

The Hindu reports that the ruling party is considering a proposal to take a commission of all 225 MLAs, 75 MLCs and MPs from the State to the President to present the ground realities in the Cauvery basin. Siddaramiah is quoted to have said that Karnataka is a victim in the dispute.

With inputs from PTI

Bihar: CM Nitish Kumar issues new liquor law with harsher provisions

Patna: Two days after the Patna High Court quashed its order on prohibition, Bihar government on Gandhi Jayanti on came out with a new law banning liquor with more harsh provisions like arrest of all adults in the event of recovery of the contraband in their house.

The government notified the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016 to ensure that the ban on sale and consumption of alcohol including Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) as well spiced and domestic liquor continued in the state.

At a special Cabinet convened today, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and other members of his Cabinet took a pledge that the government would continue with prohibition which is “ushering positive social change” in the state.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. AFP

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. AFP

Besides retaining many provisions of the previous one, the new liquor law has some more stringent provisions including enhancing duration of imprisonment, hiking amount of fine, arrest of all adults in case of recovery of liquor bottle from a house and collective fine on a place in case of habitual violation of prohibition.

Principal Secretary (Cabinet Secretariat) Brajesh Mehrotra usually briefs media about Cabinet decisions, but today the Chief Minister himself took the mike and answered all queries.

The CM told reporters that the new liquor law, brought into force from today, would be a real tribute to the Father of the Nation when the state is readying to observe the centenary celebration of Gandhiji’s Champaran Satyagraha against British rule from the state in early 2017.

The new liquor law came into force in Bihar barely two days after the Patna High Court had on Friday quashed its 5 April notification describing it as ultra vires of Constitution.

The new Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016 after approval from both Houses of state Legislatures on 4 August, got the consent of Governor Ram Nath Kovind on 7 September last.

The CM told reporters that after receiving the approval from Governor, the state Cabinet had in its meeting on 14 September last gave it a nod for notification from 2 October.

Principal Additional Advocate General Lalit Kishore who had attended a high level meeting convened by the CM hours after the HC order on Friday which had quashed its 5 April notification describing it as ultra vires of Constitution, made it clear that the Division Bench of Chief Justice Iqbal Ahmad Ansari and Justice Navnati Prasad Singh had quashed the April 5 notification on prohibition and did not say anything about the Amended Excise Act.

Pak also capable of ‘surgical strikes’: Nawaz Sharif talks tough after Indian Army incursion

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Terming “Indian aggression” as a threat to the entire region, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif warned that Pakistan is also capable of executing surgical strikes and will not allow anyone to “cast an evil eye” on it.Chairing a special Cabinet meeting to review the security situation in the country, Sharif said that Pakistan will take all necessary steps to protect its people and territorial integrity in case of any aggression or violation of the Line of Control (LoC).He said that Indian aggression constituted a threat to the entire region and Pakistan would take all measures to protect its territorial integrity, The Express Tribune reported. “No one will be allowed to cast an evil eye on Pakistan,” Sharif said, adding that Pakistan was fully capable of executing surgical strikes. “The nation is standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the valiant armed forces to defend the motherland.” His comments came a day after India conducted surgical strikes on seven terror launch pads across the LoC with the Army inflicting “significant casualties” on terrorists preparing to infiltrate from PoK.Pakistan has dismissed as “fabrication of truth” India’s claim and termed it as a “quest” by India to create media hype by rebranding cross-border fire as surgical strike.Sharif said that all steps would be taken to prevent LoC violations or aggression and added that Pakistan s resolve to establish peace remained strong. He said the leadership and people of Pakistan are united in their resolve to counter any aggressive Indian designs, adding that Pakistan’s commitment for peace must not be construed as weakness. Sharif also raised Kashmir issue said that it was the “unfinished agenda of the partition”. He said that atrocities in Kashmir could not crush Kashmiris’ right to self-determination. “Indian atrocities” there are “unacceptable”, he said. Calling for a probe into the September 18 Uri attack, Sharif said blaming Pakistan for orchestrating the attack was beyond comprehension.The Cabinet also joined the Prime Minister in completely rejecting the Indian claims of carrying out “surgical strikes”, Radio Pakistan reported. It condemned “Indian accusations in the wake of the Uri attack and pledged to expose India before the international community”. Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said that Pakistan does not want escalation of tension but is ready to meet any eventuality.Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir said India is creating artificial tension in its attempt to divert attention of the world from its atrocities against Kashmiris. He said Pakistan’s defence is in strong hands and the country would continue to raise voice for rights of Kashmiris.Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Syed Riaz Hussain Pirzada regretted that instead of giving right of self-determination to Kashmiris, India is resorting to terrorism against Pakistan. He said the world community should take notice of India’s belligerence.Pak will give befitting response to any misadventure: General Raheel Sharif Pakistan army chief General Raheel Sharif today warned that any “misadventure” by any “adversary” will meet the “most befitting response”, a day after India conducted surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the LoC.”The highest state of vigil is being maintained along the Line of Control, Working Boundary and the international border,” General Raheel said.”Any misadventure by our adversary will meet the most befitting response,” he said while talking to troops at a newly developed Combat Reaction Training facility near Lahore Garrison.He asked all commanders to lay more emphasis on combat readiness and said the training in peacetime is the only guarantor of averting and winning a war if imposed.”Pakistan cannot be coerced through any amount of malicious propaganda,” he said.He expressed his complete satisfaction over operational preparedness of the Army.

Surgical strikes conducted against terrorists at Pakistan launch pads at LoC: DGMO

In the wake of two ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops in less than 24 hours, Director General Military Operations (DGMO) Lieutenant-General Ranbir Singh said on Thursday that the Indian army conducted “surgical strikes on terror launch pads at the Line of Control.

“It has been a matter of serious concern that there has been continuous infiltration across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir,” said Singh, in a joint press conference with Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup in New Delhi.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“This (the continuous infiltration) is reflected in the terror attacks in Poonch and Uri. Almost 20 attacks have been foiled this year. During these terror and infiltration attacks, we have recovered items including GPS,” he further said.

Singh also said India had provided Pakistan with “fingerprints and DNA samples” after the terror attacks in Poonch and Uri on 11 and 18 September respectively.

“But there has been no let-up in infiltrations anfd terrorist actions. If the damage has been limited, it is due to the actions of Indian soldiers,” Singh said. “The Indian armed forces have been vigilant in the face of continuous attacks.”

He then said that the Indian Army had been conducting a fresh strike against terrorists at the LoC.

“Based on credibel information that some terrorist teams had positioned themselves at the Line of Control, the Indian army conducted surgical strikes last night on terror launch pads across the LoC. The operations were focused to ensure that terrorists do not succeed in their plans for infiltration,” the DGMO said.

“During these counter-terror operations, significant casualties have been caused to the terrorists,” he said. “The Indian armed forces are fully prepared for any contingency,” he added.

“I have spoken to Pakistan DGMO and shared details of the attacks with him,” he said. “It is India’s intention to maintain peace and tranquility. But we cannot allow terroists to operate along the LoC,” he said.

“In line with Pakistan’s commitment made in 2004 to not allow terroists to operate on its soil, we expect the Pakistan army to cooperate with us,” Singh further said.

Amidst heightened tension with Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday chaired a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) to review the situation along the LoC.

The meeting is understood to have discussed various options related to the Line of Control (LoC) in the wake of the Uri attack.

The meeting is also understood to have taken stock of ceasefire violations and infiltration attempts.

Four terrorists had stormed an army camp in Uri on 18 September and killed 18 soldiers.

Pakistani troops have also twice violated the ceasefire along the LoC since Wednesday. Pakistani troops on Thursday violated the ceasefire along the LoC in Naugam sector of Kashmir by opening indiscriminate fire towards Indian Army posts.

Pakistani troops had on Wednesday targeted Indian positions with small firearms along the LoC in Poonch district.

On the same day, Pakistan’s defence minister had said India will “disintegrate” when Kashmir gains independence, in a sign of mounting tensions between the countries.

Khawaja Muhammad Asif had told AP that Pakistan will continue to extend moral support to the people of the disputed Himalayan region.

“When the freedom movement in Kashmir succeeds, it will be beginning of the end of India,” he had said. Asif had said the sacrifices of Kashmiri people will not be in vain and that “India will disintegrate and it will not remain united” when Kashmir gains independence.

With inputs from agencies

Govt approves ratification of Paris climate agreement

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Paving the way for bringing the historic Paris agreement into force, the government on Wednesday approved its ratification which will be formalised on October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The nod by the Union Cabinet comes days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the move which is expected to give momentum to implementation of measures at international level to control global warming.Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said that with this India will be one of the key countries instrumental in bringing the historic Paris agreement into force. “Today the Union Cabinet approved the ratification of Paris agreement which is a historic decision. With the ratification, India will be one of the key countries instrumental in bringing the Paris agreement into force,” Javadekar said.The decision will further underline India’s responsive leadership, committed to global cause of environment protection and climate justice. Javadekar said that there were two conditions for the Paris deal to come into force. The pact will come into force after it is ratified by at least 55 countries that account for 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, he said. He said that although 61 countries have ratified the agreement till now, India’s move to ratify it will bring the total emissions to 51.89 per cent.”Because of India’s push, now the world will ratify the deal soon. It will become irreversible course of action for humankind. It is a common resolve to keep temperature rise below two degrees Celsius. Now that target is achievable,” Javadekar said.Noting that the four-year period between 2016-2020 is also important, Javadekar said that India has played its part and now will remind the world community that their pre-2020 actions are also important. During the recent BJP’s National Council meet in Kozhikode, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said,” There is one work left in the CoP21 (Conference of Parties).”Ratification is yet to be done and India too is yet to do it. Today on the birth anniversary of Deen Dayal Upadhyay, I announce that India will ratify the decisions on October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.”China and the US – responsible for around 40 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions – have already jointly ratified the Paris climate change deal that aims to significantly reduce global emissions, giving hopes that the landmark accord may come into effect by the end of this year.

Paris climate agreement: Govt approves ratification of the deal

New Delhi: Paving the way for bringing the historic Paris agreement into force, the government on Wednesday approved its ratification which will be formalised on 2 October, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

The nod by the Union Cabinet comes days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the move which is expected to give momentum to the implementation of measures at international level to control global warming.

The approval comes days after PM Modi had announced the move which is expected to give momentum to the implementation of measures at international level to control global warming. AFP

A file image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP

Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said that with this India will be one of the key countries instrumental in bringing the historic Paris agreement into force.

“Today the Union Cabinet approved the ratification of Paris agreement which is a historic decision. With the ratification, India will be one of the key countries instrumental in bringing the Paris agreement into force,” Javadekar told reporters here.

The decision will further underline India’s responsive leadership, committed to the global cause of environment protection and climate justice.

Javadekar said that there were two conditions for the Paris deal to come into force.

The pact will come into force after it is ratified by at least 55 countries that account for 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, he said.

He said that although 61 countries have ratified the agreement till now, India’s move to ratify it will bring the total emissions to 51.89 percent.

“Because of India’s push, now the world will ratify the deal soon. It will become the irreversible course of action for humankind. It is a common resolve to keep temperature rise below two degrees Celsius. Now that target is achievable,” Javadekar said.

Noting that the four-year period between 2016-2020 is also important, Javadekar said that India has played its part and now will remind the world community that their pre-2020 actions are also important.

During the recent BJP’s National Council meet in Kozhikode, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said,” There is one work left in the CoP21 (Conference of Parties).

“Ratification is yet to be done and India too is yet to do it. Today on the birth anniversary of Deen Dayal Upadhyay, I announce that India will ratify the decisions on 2 October, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.”

China and the US – responsible for around 40 percent of the world’s carbon emissions – have already jointly ratified the Paris climate change deal that aims to significantly reduce global emissions, giving hopes that the landmark accord may come into effect by the end of this year.

AAP govt halts scrutiny of 400 files by LG’s panel, terms it ‘illegal’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Terming as “illegal” the panel set up by Lt Governor Najeeb Jung to scrutinise 400 files, Delhi Government on Tuesday requested it to discontinue work till the Supreme Court verdict on powers of the LG. The decision to ask the three-member panel to stop scrutiny of files was taken at a Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal which observed that the exercise has brought government’s “important works” to a halt.”During discussion, the Cabinet found that Lt Governor doesn’t have any power to constitute such panel to examine files of Delhi government and that it is illegal. As the members of panel are eminent persons, we request them not to scrutinise files till the Supreme Court rules in the matter,” Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said.Jung last month had constituted the panel to examine around 400 files. It was claimed that they contained “infirmities and irregularities” and that decisions based on the file notings were violative of laid down norms and procedures.The appointment of the panel comprising former CAG V K Shunglu, former Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami and ex-Chief Vigilance Commissioner Pradeep Kumar, came after Delhi High Court ruled that the Lt Governor is the administrative head of the city government. The AAP government had approached the Supreme Court challenging the Delhi High Court order and the apex court listed the matter for final hearing on November 15.The Cabinet noted that the three-member panel was also summoning officers in connection with its examination of these files and in the entire process, the respective ministers are being kept in dark. The Delhi Cabinet also resolved that Sisodia will write to members of panel to convey the concern of the Cabinet and also request it to keep its functioning in abeyance till the apex court gives order in the matter.The Cabinet also noted that neither the Constitution nor the GNCTD Act, 1991 or the Transaction of Business Rules made Lt Govenor confer any sanctity on appointment of such a committee or its examination of the current files of government. It further noted that the role, functions and powers of the LG vis-a-vis the elected government of Delhi is under consideration of the Supreme Court and the final hearing of the matter has been fixed for November 15.

Rain fury in Telangana: 1,000 villagers evacuated; Godavari in full spate

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With heavy downpour pummelling Telangana over the past few days, authorities are keeping a watch on the flood situation even as over 1,000 villagers were evacuated in Karimnagar district.The water from the under-construction Mid Manair Dam in Boinapally mandal of Karimnagar had started overflowing from the bund and the earthen embankment had got breached, resulting in floods in the area.”Over 1,000 villagers staying in six villages near the Mid Manair dam, which was overflowing, were evacuated last evening. It was a precautionary evacuation… the situation has now improved and they will be sent back today,” Special Chief Secretary (Revenue) Pradeep Chandra told PTI.Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao had on Sunday directed his ministerial colleagues to stay in their respective districts and monitor the flood situation and supervise relief and rehabilitation works.In view of the flood situation, Rao cancelled the Cabinet meeting scheduled today and asked the ministers to work in coordination with district-level officials and ensure evacuation of people from the low lying areas to safer places.In the wake of increasing flow in Godavari river and its tributaries following heavy rains in the catchment areas of the river in Maharashtra, the Chief Minister directed the district ministers, officials and also the police of Adilabad, Nizamabad, Karimnagar, Warangal and Khammam districts, to remain alert.Rao further directed Warangal district administration to be on high alert as river Godavari is in full spate. The river is receiving huge inflows, therefore those living on the banks of the river should be alerted.Similarly, the CM asked the minister T Nageshwara Rao to maintain alertness in Khammam district as the water level in the river could reach danger level at Bhadrachalam in the district.”We are taking measures in view of the heavy rains in the past few days in the state including in Hyderabad, which is unprecedented after the 1908 floods in the city,” he said.DIG (Warangal Range) Ravi Varma told PTI, “We are keeping a watch on water level in Warangal and Khammam districts. Our personnel have been deployed in the villages along the river bank, if necessary, the process of evacuation will begin.”

KJ George back in cabinet after clean chit in MK Ganapathy suicide case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Karnataka Minister KJ George was reinducted into the Siddaramaiah ministry on Monday, close on the heels of being given a clean chit by the CID in a case related to the alleged suicide of a Deputy Superintendent of Police.George, a close confidant of the Chief Minister, was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Vajubhai Vala at a ceremony held in Raj Bhavan. George had resigned on July 18, soon after a court in Madikeri in Kodagu district directed police to register an FIR against him and two police officers in connection with the suicide of 51-year-old MK Ganapathy. Ganapathy was found hanging from a ceiling fan in a room at a lodge in Madikeri on July 7, prior to which he gave an interview to a local TV channel saying the Minister and AM Prasad (now Commissioner for Traffic and Road Safety) and Pranab Mohanty (now on central deputation as Additional Deputy Director General of UIDAI) would be responsible “if anything happens to me.” The court had issued directions based on a private criminal complaint by Ganapathy’s son, Nehal, requesting it to direct police to take up investigation against the minister and the officers for allegedly abetting his father’s suicide. Karnataka CID, which investigated the case, on September 17 gave a clean chit to George and two senior police officers in its ‘B’ report, filed in a court in Madikeri. George is likely to retain Bengaluru Development and Town Planning portfolio, which he had held when he stepped down amid a huge political storm in the state with the Opposition gunning for him. He had also held the Home portfolio earlier.With the reinduction of George, the strength of the Siddaramaiah ministry now stands at 34, the maximum constitutional limit for the state. Siddaramaiah, his cabinet colleagues, Congress legislators and senior government officials were present at the swearing-in. Both opposition parties BJP and JD(S) have taken exception to the reinduction of George.Earlier this month, Siddaramaiah on September 5 had expanded his Cabinet by inducting M Krishnappa into his Ministry.

SP MK Ganapathy suicide: KJ George to be reinducted into cabinet tomorrow

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Minister KJ George will be reinducted into the state cabinet on Monday, after the Karnataka CID gave him a clean chit in the case related to the alleged suicide of DySP MK Ganapathy. George will be sworn in by the Governor at Raj Bhavan around 10.15 AM, official sources said.George, who was the Minister for Bengaluru Development and Town planning, had resigned on July 18, soon after a court in Madikeri, Kodagu district directed police to register an FIR against him and two police officers in connection with the suicide of 51-year-old Ganapathy. Ganapathy was found hanging from a ceiling fan in a room at a lodge in Madikeri on July 7, prior to which he gave an interview to a local TV channel saying the Minister and AM Prasad (now Commissioner for Traffic and Road Safety) and Pranab Mohanty (now on central deputation as Additional Deputy Director General of UIDAI) would be responsible “if anything happens to me.”The court had issued directions based on a private criminal complaint by Ganapathy’s son, Nehal, requesting it to direct police to take up investigation against the minister and the officers for allegedly abetting his father’s suicide. Karnataka CID which investigated the case, on September 17 gave a clean chit to George and two senior police officers in its ‘B’ report, filed to a court in Madikeri.Following Ganapathy’s death, the Government had come under attack from the Opposition, which had stalled the Assembly proceedings by staging a day-night agitation inside the House demanding a CBI inquiry, to which the government did not budge. Both opposition parties BJP and JD(S) have expressed their strong exception to the reinduction of George into the cabinet.According to sources, George who is considered to be a close confidant of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, is likely to retain Bengaluru Development and Town Planning portfolio. He had also served as Home Minister in the past.Earlier, Siddaramaiah on September 5 had expanded his Cabinet by inducting M Krishnappa into his Ministry, he was allocated Housing department.In a major revamp, the Chief Minister had sacked 14 ministers and inducted 13 members into his Council of Ministers on June 20 which had led to discontent within the Congress with several senior leaders openly coming out against the party’s state leadership.

Senior IPS officer Radhakrishna Kini to monitor PM Modi’s security

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior IPS officer Radhakrishna Kini has been entrusted with the responsibility of monitoring security arrangements of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has approved the appointment of Kini, a 1981 batch IPS officer of Bihar cadre, as Secretary (Security) in Cabinet Secretariat, an order issued by Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said.Kini, who is at present working as Director General in National Crime Records Bureau, will have a tenure till November, 2017.He will take over the charge from his batch mate Malay Kumar Sinha, who superannuates on October 1.The Secretary (Security) is the administrative head of Special Protection Group (SPG) and is responsible for closely monitoring the security arrangements for the Prime Minister, former Prime Ministers and members of their immediate families in India and abroad.He is also the nodal authority in respect of policy relating to procurement of jammers by the state governments and central police forces. All operational proposals of SPG are approved and processed by Secretary (Security).

Rafale deal provides insufficient fighter jets to IAF, does not have ‘Make in India’ requirement: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress has criticised the Rafale deal that was signed yesterday. Former UPA Defence Minister AK Antony on Saturday said that the deal would provide insufficient fighter jets to the forces. He also said that the deal left out important prerequisites for finalisation.”During UPA’s time it was decided to purchase 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircrafts to meet urgent op requirement of Air Force. As per the Indian Air Force these 126 was the minimum for their urgent operational requirements considering the security scenario.”Now, Govt finally decided to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets;is it enough? Sanctioned strength of IAF is 42 squadrons, availability is 32. Off late the security scenario has become more and more critical, volatile. Actually, now the Air Force needs more strength. “By 2022, this strength will be reduced to 25 squadrons. How will the government’s equip the IAF with more aircrafts. What is their plan?” “In our time, there were some important requirements for finalising deal- 50% offset & we’ll buy 18 from abroad and eight will be made in India. That condition is gone, ‘Make in India’ is gone,” AK Antony added.The Congress party on Saturday called on the NDA government to explain the advantages of the Rafale fighter jet deal inked between India and France. Rafale fighter jet deal inked between India and France. “The government of the day must explain what are the advantages of this deal, what are the benefits that have construed out of this long period of waiting? Is there a technology advancement after a decade and what are the benefits that would construe to be useful for the country after all this is about national security?” Congress leader Tom Vadakkan told ANI.”We need more weaponry, we need more aircrafts, we need more equipment to make our nation up to date to fight matters concerning our national interest,” he said. New Delhi and Paris signed the deal for direct acquisition of 36 Rafale fighter jets yesterday. The negotiations to buy the Rafale fighter jets came through on Wednesday and French Defence Minister Yves Le Drian arrived in the country on Friday to finalise the deal which will cost India 7.8 billion Euros. The development comes after the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) discussed the deal and gave the green signal to go ahead with its signing to give a crucial boost to the Indian Air Force.

What are the advantages of Rafale deal? Congress demands explanation from Centre

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Congress party on Saturday called on the NDA government to explain the advantages of the Rafale fighter jet deal inked between India and France. “The government of the day must explain what are the advantages of this deal, what are the benefits that have construed out of this long period of waiting? Is there a technology advancement after a decade and what are the benefits that would construe to be useful for the country after all this is about national security?” Congress leader Tom Vadakkan told ANI.”We need more weaponry, we need more aircrafts, we need more equipment to make our nation up to date to fight matters concerning our national interest,” he said.New Delhi and Paris signed the deal for direct acquisition of 36 Rafale fighter jets on Friday. The negotiations to buy the Rafale fighter jets came through on Wednesday and French Defence Minister Yves Le Drian arrived in the country on Friday to finalise the deal which will cost India €7.8 billion.The development comes after the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) discussed the deal and gave the green signal to go ahead with its signing to give a crucial boost to the Indian Air Force.In June, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had stated that the number of the fighter jets were “on path of coming to conclusion.” Both India and France had hoped to wrap up the strategic order during French President Francois Hollande’s visit for the Republic Day celebrations in January this year, but the bargaining over the price stalled the process.On Thursday, Parrikar had said that the two sides were yet to arrive at a decision on pricing. “It’s a big purchase, we have to be careful and every 0.1 percent savings itself is hundreds of crores. So, let the exercise be done with some patience,” he said. Hollande and Prime Minister Narendra Modi intervened in the troubled Rafale procurement last year, ordering government-to-government talks after commercial negotiations with Dassault had collapsed. The leaders agreed to scale back an original plan to buy 126 Rafale planes to just 36 in fly-away condition to meet the Indian Air Force’s urgent need as it faces an assertive China and long-time foe Pakistan.

Who is prepared for a ‘zombie apocalypse’?

A document asking about Indian government contingency plans to tackle a zombie apocalypse goes viral.

First-of-its-kind national policy on drug abuse to be reviewed by Rajnath Singh-led GoM

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A group of ministers, led by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, will review the first-of-its-kind national policy on curbing the menace of drug abuse and trafficking in the country. The policy, which was redrafted by the Social Justice Ministry, aims at efforts to reduce drugs to address the problem, including misuse and dependence, to create awareness about ill-effects on the individual, family, workplace and the society at large.The proposal is to focus on demand and supply aspects of the drugs to solve this problem. According to sources, the Prime Minister’s office has asked the Social Justice ministry to place its Cabinet note on drug demand reduction before the group of Ministers chaired by Union Home minister.The policy talks about two type of addictive substances– the illicit drugs including cannabis, heroin and opium and the other, pharmaceutical preparations like tranquillisers and inhalants. It emphasises on strengthening coordination among various regulatory agencies concerned to check the diversion of substances from lawful channels to illicit networks.The objective is to ensure that stigmatisation of and discrimination against, groups and individuals dependent on drugs is actively discouraged in order to integrate them back into the society. India has a close proximity to two major opium cultivating area–The Golden Crescent countries (Iran-Afghanistan- Pakistan) and the Golden Triangle countries (Myanmar-Laos- Thailand), which makes it a region of transit as well as destination for illicit drugs. According to government data, it is estimated that there were approximately 8.7 million cannabis users and 2 million opium users in India in 2001.

Race Course or Lok Kalyan: Worried nation over Uri attack wants more from PM than road rename

Minutes before Prime Minister Narendra Modi convened a meeting of top ministers to discuss the government’s strategy following the Uri attack, news broke that the name of the road, which houses the official residence of the PM, had been changed to Lok Kalyan Marg.

Nothing could be more ironic than the timing of the move. It came at a time when the nation was eagerly awaiting to know how India would respond to the attack. How it would show its shakti (force) if you will, flowing from the might and decisiveness of its shaktiman (powerful) prime minister to a perennially errant neighbour in Pakistan. The government of India, by announcing the decision, officially told the world that on that day, the concerns of the political brass were different.

In doing so, the government showed that it was more concerned about an image makeover — by stating that the reigning prime minister lives on Lok Kalyan Marg, and hence lives for lok kalyan (public welfare).

Narendra Modi . ReutersNarendra Modi . Reuters

Narendra Modi . Reuters

True, that the prime minister’s basic mandate is to work for public welfare, but does that mean that he has to necessarily live on a road that bears lok kalyan (public welfare) as its name? Prime Minister Modi, the first in the last 30 years to have a clear majority on his own, represents lok shakti, and hence becomes sarv shaktiman — thus, he is required to assert power when the situation demands.

Given the national mood in the aftermath of the Uri attack and the hype generated by the series of meetings on Wednesday, it would have been more appropriate if the government had renamed Race Course Road as Lok Shakti Marg.

Though a race course might be considered as elitist, but it’s a fact that only the mightiest of political horses have lived on Race Course Road, either driven by circumstances or by being clear winners in the race. What’s in a name, they say. It seems that the pratham sewak and his government clearly believe in it, quite a lot.

The issue that is agitating the minds of more than 120 crore Indians is much bigger than the name of the road where the prime minister resides. The nation is concerned with its honour, the lives of its people and teaching a lesson to a rouge neighbour in a manner that ensures that it does not dare repeat any such ghastly terror act.

As this author had written earlier, the real test of Modi’s supposed 56-inch chest lies in how he rises to the occasion and in the kind of response he gives to Pakistan following the Uri attack.

Former Finance and External Affairs Minister in the Vajpayee Government, Yashwant Sinha, in an article in the Indian Express wrote:  “India should, however, not be deterred in the pursuit of its goal. I have repeatedly said that the fight against Pakistan sponsored terrorism is India’s fight alone. Others will sympathise with us, commiserate with us, condemn the terror strike and forget about it. We should not. We must remember every wound Pakistan has inflicted on us, every hurt, every humiliation it has caused us and every martyr who has made the supreme sacrifice for the nation,”

“Indira Gandhi showed this courage in 1971, we should show it now…We, in the BJP, must remember that the people of India will judge us by our standards and our utterances on the strength of which we came to power, not by the standards of other political parties…We all want peace with Pakistan but we must remember that sometimes the road to peace passes through war,” Sinha wrote.

PM Modi has not spoken on the subject since Sunday and the only indication of what he thinks of the issue and how he wants to deal with the situation is evident from his first response, made public through a tweet:

Incidentally, the CCS did meet on Wednesday morning ahead of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) and the Cabinet meeting, though only for a few minutes. Apparently, the meeting was held to clear the acquisition of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France in order to augment the fighter power of the Indian Air Force. Sources said that the Uri attack was not discussed in that CCS meet and that only the ministers met with the concerned officials, in the absence of the three armed forces chiefs.

The government and the BJP, it seems, are reading too much into the prime minister’s words, “those behind this despicable attack will not go unpunished”. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, at a function on Wednesday, reiterated Modi’s words to give a sense of confidence and assurance to people.

“I don’t think the PM’s initial words that “those responsible will be punished” will go as a mere statement. How to punish, that is for us to work out,” Parrikar said. He talked about a fast and furious reaction, which made the headlines, but then himself ruled that out saying that as a responsible nation India had to make a considered move. “Sometimes I can have a knee jerk reaction too. But we are a responsible nation,” he said.

The nation would be keenly awaiting Modi’s address at a public rally in Kozhikode on Saturday, to get a sense what kind of retribution people can expect for the Uri and Pathankot attacks on army bases.

Modi and the entire BJP leadership – top to some tiers below – would be in Kozhikode for three days beginning from 23 September for the party’s national executive and council meeting. Though the meet is officially dedicated to the party’s foremost ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyaya’s birth centenary, all the party leaders and workers would be curious to understand how Modi plans to walk the talk vis-à-vis Pakistan, for much of BJP’s future prospects would depend on the way Modi chooses to shape the party’s and his own image.

Government continues to explore options against Pakistan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A grim faced government continued to explore options on Wednesday to give a befitting reply to Pakistan after the Uri attack in which 18 Army personnel were martyred. Pakistan-based militants had orchestrated an audacious attack at Army Brigade headquarters in Uri on Sunday.Several meetings at top levels were held, including the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), to weigh the pros and cons of options that India could take in retaliation to the Uri terror strike.Union home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi gave a halfhour long presentation to the CCS about the preparedness of the troops and the ground situation in Jammu and Kashmir that continues to reel under civilian unrest since Hizbul commander Burhan Wani’s encounter killing.The presentation was followed by a back to back two-hour-long meeting between union home minister Rajnath Singh and Mehrishi following which Rajnath met Prime Minister Modi to brief him about the overall security situation on India’s western border.Mehrishi had gone to Srinagar on Tuesday to take stock of the security grid and discuss the possible implications on the Valley, if the Indian Army would undertake an operation to avenge the Uri incident. To keep the outbreak of another bout of violence at bay, Mehrishi is understood to have discussed the possibility of a massive crackdown on terrorists and militants who have infiltrated the area, with the Jammu and Kashmir state government and top security officials.Collated intelligence inputs estimate that 200-220 terrorists have infiltrated into the Valley from across the border since January this year. The majority of them managed to infiltrate when the security grid preparedness along the Line of Control (LoC) was at its lowest and counter insurgency operations had virtually come to a standstill because of the massive unrest across the Valley.Sources in the security establishment said that there is still no clarity on what kind of option the Indian Army could use against Pakistan to satiate public sentiment. Units in the government that are monitoring social media round the clock said that they have been witnessing strong negative sentiments against Prime Minister Modi and the government since the Uri attack.These sources added that though they don’t know what option the government may choose to use against Pakistan, the best available option could be surgical strikes on Pakistani Army posts by the highly trained Border Action Team (BAT).

Rafale deal: India set to ink pact with France on Friday after cabinet nod

New Delhi: The government has cleared the much anticipated deal with France for 36 Rafale fighter jets which will cost 7.878 billion Euros and will be signed on Friday in the presence of French Defence Minister Jean Yves Le Drian.

Defence sources said that deal for the aircraft, the first fighter jet deal in 20 years, comes with a saving of nearly 750 million Euros than the UPA era one, which was scrapped by the Narendra Modi government, besides a 50 percent offset clause.

File image of a Rafale aircraft. Reuters

File image of a Rafale aircraft. Reuters

This means business worth at least three billion Euros for Indian companies, both big and small, and generating hundreds of jobs in India through offsets. The Rafale fighter jets, deliveries of which will start in 36 months and finished in 66 months from the date contract is inked, comes equipped with state-of-the-art missiles like Meteor and Scalp that will give the IAF a capability that had been sorely missing in its arsenal.

Sources said the government on Wednesday formally cleared the Inter Governmental Agreement to be signed on Friday in the presence of Drian who arrives on Thursday evening along with CEOs of Dassault Aviation, Thales and MBDA and top government officials.

The contract for the deal was already cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security earlier. The price of the contract was fixed in May, sources said. Sources said the “vanila price” (just the 36 aircraft) is about 3.42 billion Euros. The armaments cost about 710 million Euros while Indian specific changes, including integration of Israeli helmet mounted displays, will cost 1700 million Euros.

Rest of the cost include spare parts, maintenance among others. Besides other features that make the Rafale a strategic weapon in the hands of the IAF is the Beyond Visual Range Meteor air-to-air missile with a range in excess of 150 km. Its integration on the Rafale jets will mean the IAF can hit targets inside both Pakistan and across the northern and eastern borders while still staying within India’s own territorial boundary.

Pakistan currently has only a BVR with 80 km range. During the Kargil war, India used a BVR of 50 km while Pakistan had none. With Meteor, the balance of power in the air space has again tilted in India’s favour. Scalp, a long-range air-to-ground cruise missile with a range in excess of 300 km also gives the IAF an edge over its adversaries.

The tough negotiations by the MoD-IAF team extracted many concessions and discounts from the French before arriving at a price that is almost 750 million Euros less than what was being quoted by the French side in January 2016.

This was when the commercial negotiations gathered pace, almost seven months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced India’s intention to buy 36 Rafales off the shelf from France during his trip to Paris in April 2015.

Separate Railway Budget scrapped: How will it impact fiscal management and what is the political fallout?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved three significant proposals related to the country’s fiscal management by merging the separate Railway Budget with the General Union Budget, ending distinction between Plan and Non-Plan funds and also to complete all budgetary processes by March 31, by advancing Budget session of Parliament.Even though there was consensus on completing budgetary processes early, to allow all tax proposals to get effective by April 1, it was decided to fix the date of Budget session for 2017, as per the schedule of assembly elections. “In principle the proposal was approved, but for 2017, we will have to take the calendar of assembly elections into consideration,” said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, soon after the meeting. The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had been insisting on ending past conventions to streamline the processes of budget making.The Cabinet’s decision to end the 92-year-old practice of presenting a separate Railway Budget will impact fiscal management. Now the Finance Minister will present it as part of the General Budget. FM Arun Jaitley said the practice of a separate Railway Budget was started in 1924, since the Railway expenditures used to be more than the General Budget. But now, many other ministries like the Defence, parts of the Union Budget have more expenditure than the Railways. Also, if the expenditure entailed on projects coming under the public-private partnership (PPP) model is added to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, its Budget also adds up to more than that of the Railways.The political fallout of the new arrangement will be that the Railway Minister’s political stature will diminish and the hot race to occupy Rail Bhawan will end up. In 2004, when the UPA-I took over, two of its stalwarts Ram Vilas Paswan and RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav fell apart, as both were vying for the Railways portfolio. The portfolio ultimately went to heavy weight Yadav. It has been observed that instead of priorities, the funds and resources were being allocated for political reasons. Officials here believe this practice will end with the merger of the budgets. Immediately after the decision, chief minister of Bihar and former Railway Minister Nitish Kumar said the move will affect the Railway’s autonomy. “Merging rail budget and general budget won’t do any good, it will lose its autonomy.”According to the government, the move will come as a relief to the Railways, which, until now, has been reeling under an additional burden of Rs 40,000 crore from higher salaries, following implementation of the 7th Pay Commission. It also has to bear close to Rs 35,000 crore of subsidy burden. The Railways will get rid of the annual dividend of Rs 10,000 crore it has to pay for gross budgetary support from the government. The government used to hand over Rs 2.27 lakh crore to the Railways every year, which now ceases to be a liability.Both, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and Finance Minster Arun Jaitley were at pains to explain that the step has been taken only for presenting a common budget and will in no way affect the financial autonomy of the Railways.Earlier, Niti Ayog in a 20-page note sent to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had also argued in favour of doing away with the Railway budget. The note, titled ‘Dispensing with the Rail Budget’ and jointly authored by Aayog member and economist Bibek Debroy and Kishore Desai, Officer on Special Duty, argues that the exercise had failed to be of use to the sector and had become a “mechanism to announce popular measures”.“The Railway Budget became a mechanism to announce popular measures, new trains, new routes, new rolling-stock manufacturing factories etc., with no concomitant focus on addressing Railways’ structural requirements, implementation of the ‘grand’ announcements, or funding needs,” states the note.The Cabinet also approved a proposal to remove the existing Plan and non-Plan expenditure classifications from future Budgets. “We will be switching to a more globally relevant system of classifying spending as revenue expenditure and capital expenditure,” said an official. All the administrative spending will come under revenue expenditure while capital spending and grants for creation of capital assets will be classified under the same broad category.“In the backdrop of the abolition of the Planning Commission and setting up of the NITI Aayog, the classification of expenditure as Plan and non-Plan had lost its relevance. If the accounting of expenditure is classified broadly under revenue and capital, I think this is where the expenditure is focused,” an official said. In 2011, an experts’ committee headed by C Rangarajan had proposed that the distinction between Plan and non-Plan expenditure be abolished for both the Centre and the states.In another proposal, a cabinet note had proposed to hold the budget session of Parliament early from January 27 (Friday) and present the union budget on February 1 instead of the past practice of it coming only on the last day of February. Jaitley said the proposal was approved in principle, but for 2017 will be linked to the schedule of assembly elections for want of availability of MPs who will be busy in campaigning. This will help budget proposals and fund flow to states start right from April 1. Since the full budget gets approved by May, some proposals are rolled out by September.A tentative calendar has been drawn up to have the recess from February 17 to March 20 to enable the department-wise standing committees of MPs deliberate on the budget proposals. Both the Houses will sit up to February 17, a Friday, and then assemble on March 20. The government contemplates to get the budget passed in March itself to put an end to the practice of the vote-on-account for four months for the financial business in the new financial year that begins on April 1.

Autonomy of Railway to end: Nitish Kumar flays scrapping of Railway budget

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Railway minister and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday criticised the decision of Union cabinet to scrap separate Railway budget and merge it with general budget which he said would end autonomy of the largest public carrier in the country.Making a strong point against ending over nine-decade old tradition of presentation of separate Rail budget in Parliament, he asked the NDA government at the Centre to rethink its decision. The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved advancing presentation of the annual Budget by a month, scrapped over nine-decade old tradition of having a separate Railway Budget and removed classifications for expenditure to make the exercise simpler.”Based on my personal experience as Railway minister I can say the decision will have no benefit,” said Kumar, who was Railway minister during NDA government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.”It seems Railway is not on priority of the NDA government at the Centre…this step would end autonomy of Railway,” he told reporters emerging from a press conference on International Sikh conclave.Railway is means of transportation of poor people who have unbreaking faith on the largest public transporter, he added. “Common man has faith on Railway which would be dented by this decision,” Kumar said.Presentation of a separate Railway budget has been a tradition which all the successive governments followed earlier, he said. Counting virtues of separate Railway budget, Kumar said the dividend paid by Railway to the government is decided by Parliament.Attraction of MPs for Railway budget is so deep that I have seen Parliament deliberating the entire night on Rail budget, he said.

Uri attack: Meeting of Cabinet Committee on security ends

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security held at the PMO ended here on Wednesday afternoon.The meeting is significant in the backdrop of Uri terror attack, in which 18 army jawans were martyred. The Cabinet Committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the situation arising out of the attack. The meeting was attended by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and others. Meanwhile, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi has reviewed the security situation in Kashmir in the backdrop of the deadly militant attack on an army base in Uri and the ongoing unrest in the valley. Mehrishi arrived in Srinagar early Tuesday morning and held series of meetings to review security situation across the Kashmir Valley.He had detailed discussions with top officials from various security forces, police and intelligence agencies. The international community continues to condemn the Sunday’s terror attack in Uri which killed 18 Army personnel. Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and many other countries have extended their support to India in its fight against terrorism.German Ambassador to India Martin Ney said that every country is responsible for taking decisive action against terrorism emanating from its territory. Expressing its solidarity with India in the fight against terrorism, Japanese Foreign Ministry said, no act of terrorism can be justified. In a letter to Prime Minister Modi, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, her country will continue to work with India to eradicate the menace.Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani called up Prime Minister Modi yesterday and condemned the attack.

End of 92-year-old practice; Cabinet approves merger of Rail Budget with General Budget

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the scrapping of separate Railway Budget and merging it with the General Budget.The 92-year-old practice of presenting a separate Rail Budget will now come to an end from the next fiscal.Last month, Suresh Prabhu had said that the Railway Budget should be merged with the General Budget for the long term interest of national transporter as well as the country’s economy. The Finance Ministry had also accepted Suresh Prabhu’s proposal.The public sector behemoth has to bear an additional burden of about Rs 40,000 crore on account of implementation of the 7th Pay Commission awards, besides an annual outgo of Rs 32,000 crore on subsidies.Besides, the delay in completion of projects resulted in cost overrun of Rs 1.07 lakh crore and huge throw-forward of Rs 1.86 lakh crore in respect of 442 ongoing rail projects. If the merger happens, Indian Railway will get rid of the annual dividend it has to pay for gross budgetary support from the government every year.(With inputs)

2 days after Uri attack, Army foils two infiltration bids; kills 10 terrorists

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Two infiltration bids were made from across the border in Kashmir on Tuesday but army foiled the attempts killing some of the terrorists while losing a jawan, barely two days after the terror attack in Uri. The attempts to cross the Line of Control (LoC) in Uri and Nowgam sectors came even as Pakistani troops violated ceasefire and fired at Indian positions in Uri sector.”Two infiltration bids by militants from across the Line of Control (LoC) have been foiled in Uri and Nowgam sectors today. At both places the operations are in progress,” an army spokesman said in Srinagar.The spokesman refused to comment on the number of militants killed in the ongoing operations so far, saying details will be made public in due course. He, however, said one soldier was killed in the operation in Nowgam sector.Army sources in Delhi which had initially put the number of terrorists killed at 10 later clarified that the extent of casualties can be ascertained only after the retrieval of the bodies from the dense jungles and that the operations were still underway. The sources said a group of 15 terrorists had attempted to infiltrate into Indian territory through the LoC.As the Government mulled various options on India’s response to the cross-border terror attack on Sunday in which 18 jawans were killed, a crucial meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security(CCS) has been convened tomorrow. On the ceasefire violation incident, an army official in Srinagar said the firing from across the LoC took place between 1.10 pm and 1.30 pm. However, there was no damage in the incident, he said.”Pakistani troops resorted to unprovoked firing by small arms towards Indian positions in Uri sector this afternoon,” the official said in Srinagar, amid reports that the firing took place apparently to give cover to terrorists trying to sneak into the Indian territory. The official said while there were no reports of any casualty in the firing, further details of the incident were awaited.Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh again reviewed the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir at a meeting in Delhi with top officials, including NSA Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar. Separately, Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said that any action against terrorists based in Pakistan will be taken only after examining all relevant issues.The infiltration bids and the ceasefire violation came two days after four militants of Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad stormed an army base in Uri Sector, killing 18 soldiers and injuring several others. All the four militants were also killed.At the meeting convened by Rajnath Singh, Doval and top officials of the ministries of Home and Defence, paramilitary forces and chiefs of intelligence agencies briefed him on the prevailing situation in the Kashmir Valley as well as along the LoC, official sources said.

HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar asks IIMs to submit plans to increase intake of students

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The number of seats in the coveted Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) is set to increase substantially as the HRD ministry has asked these business schools to ponder over ways in which their intake capacity can be increased. Union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday held a meeting with heads of various IIMs in New Delhi on Tuesday where measures to cater to the increasing demand of quality education in the country was discussed during the meeting, according to an official statement.”Firstly, IIMs will submit plans for expansion of their intake capacity, so that more students get opportunity to enroll themselves in the best institutes. Directors of IIMs pondered upon the possibility of the extent of increasing the intake capacity in their respective institutes and assured of submitting the proposals at the earliest,” the statement said.Official sources said that presently around 20 IIMs take in nearly 10,000 students every year and HRD ministry is keen that this number be taken close to 20,000.According to the statement, Javadekar also told reporters after the meeting that possibility of expansion of Doctoral programmes was discussed. He expressed that creating more quality PhD programmes will address the issue of shortage of faculties in institutes, the statement said.And for creating more PhDs, the Minister said that, better avenues of fellowship will be offered to willing candidates. He added that in line with the IIT Council, where it has been decided to award PM’s scholarship for PhD programme, government approval will be sought for PM s scholarship for best of PhD scholars in IIMs. Final decision in this regard will be taken with Cabinet approval, the Minister said. Also, it was decided that IIMs will participate in a new initiative of government to make 20 world class institutes.The HRD minister also learnt to have emphasised ensuring that the institutes are socially equitable with regard to admissions and recruitments, a source said.While replying to one of the query of the reporters regarding reservation in education policy, the Minister reiterated that as far as reservations are concerned, it is the constitution which provides for it and the government has no plans to make changes in reservations. He also said that IIMs will actively participate in creating contents for SWAYAM which is an Information Technology platform hosting Open Online Courses and will provide high quality education on various subjects from 9 to Under Graduate and Post Graduate students — covering all disciplines. The Minister also interacted with the students of IIMs.Remembering the great teacher and former President, Late A P J Abdul Kalam, the minister said that there is a need to inculcate the willingness for adopting teaching profession among students as the country requires 10 million good teachers to improve the quality of education from primary to higher education and from higher education to research and innovation. In his interaction, he also appealed to students to ponder upon the need for research and innovation for developing good quality education, the statement said.

Uri terror attack: Army foils two infiltration bids; one soldier, 10 militants killed

Barely two days after the terror attack in Uri, two infiltration bids were made from across the border in Kashmir on Tuesday. Even as Pakistani troops violated ceasefire and fired at Indian positions, the Indian Army managed to foil the infiltration bids and 10 terrorists and a jawan were killed in the encounter.

As the government mulled various options on India’s response to the cross-border terror attack on Sunday in which 18 jawans were killed, a crucial meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) has been scheduled for Wednesday.

“Two infiltration bids by militants from across the Line of Control (LoC) have been foiled in Uri and Nowgam sectors on Tuesday. At both places, the operations are in progress,” an Army spokesman said in Srinagar. The spokesman refused to comment on the number of militants killed in the ongoing operations so far, saying details will be made public in due course.

He, however, said one soldier was killed in the operation in Nowgam sector. Army sources in Delhi said that 10 terrorists were killed in the encounter with the Army in Uri sector. The bodies have not yet been recovered, they added.

According to PTI, sources said a group of 15 terrorists had attempted to infiltrate into Indian territory through the LoC. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh again reviewed the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir at a meeting in Delhi with top officials, including National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar.

Singh had called up the DG and the BSF to give a free hand to Indian troops to retaliate.

Separately, Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said that any action against terrorists based in Pakistan will be taken only after examining all relevant issues. On the ceasefire violation incident, an Army official in Srinagar said the firing from across the LoC took place between 1.10 pm and 1.30 pm. However, there was no damage in the incident, he said.

CNN-News18 reported that a section of the government is advising swift and intensive action against the terror hubs acting out of Pakistan.

“Pakistani troops resorted to unprovoked firing by small arms towards Indian positions in Uri sector this afternoon,” the official said in Srinagar, reported PTI. The official said while there were no reports of any casualty in the firing, further details of the incident were awaited.

The infiltration bids and the ceasefire violation came two days after four militants of Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad stormed an Army base in Uri sector, killing 18 soldiers and injuring several others. All the four militants were also killed.

The terror attack has heightened tensions between India and Pakistan. At the meeting convened by Singh, Doval and top officials of the ministries of home and defence, paramilitary forces and chiefs of intelligence agencies briefed him on the prevailing situation in the Kashmir Valley as well as along the LoC, official sources said.

The presence of the foreign secretary at the meeting is significant as government plans to launch a diplomatic offensive against Pakistan.

The Afghanistan envoy to India said that there are ample proofs of state-sponsored terrorism from Pakistan, and India and Afghanistan must send a decisive message to Islamabad. He also advised India of boycotting Pakistan at the upcoming Saarc summit.

CNN-News18 reported that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is likely to raise the issue of Islamabad’s soft approach on terrorism at the UN General Assembly. She is likely to hit at Pakistan for allowing Dawood Ibrahim to operate from it’s soil and giving JeM and Hafiz Sayeed a free hand.

The US Secretary of State John Kerry issued a strong warning to Pakistan reiterating that it needs to prevent terrorists from using Pakistan territory as a safe haven.

Another encounter was also underway in Handwara in Kashmir on Tuesday.

With inputs from PTI.

Prakash Javadekar to meet with institute directors to deliberate on IIM autonomy bill today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Directors of various Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) will be meeting with the Minister of Human Resource Development Prakash Javadekar at IIM Shillong on Tuesday to deliberate upon the proposed IIM Autonomy Bill. The draft bill proposes to give autonomy to nineteen IIMs, empowering them to award degrees instead of diplomas for their IIMs for their two-year programmes. The draft law is modelled on the IIT Act and has been under deliberation for more than one year now. The September 20 meeting, however is being perceived to be an important step forward in terms of deciding the outcome as all the Directors will be presenting their stand on the draft bill. Atanu Rakshit, Director of IIM Rohtak, says: “Various Directors will be presenting their stand on the bill and along with it some data related to the institute. We are hoping for a positive outcome from the meeting.”The bill also gives autonomy to institutes to “lower the cost of education and to enhance the reach of the education by use of information and communication technology.” However, it has laid down the condition of taking prior approval of the government before making changes in the fee structure. The fee part was one where officials at IIM Ahmedabad, the oldest IIM, had an opposition. In order to take suggestions from IIM-A faculty members and Director, Javadekar had held a closed door meeting with them on Saturday. “The responses have been encouraging”, Javadekar had said after the meeting. He also told journalists that a special panel will review the suggestion on September 30 and then form a draft which will further be circulated for improvement. The thirteen old IIMs, including Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, Lucknow, Indore, Kozhikode, Shillong, Ranchi, Rohtak, Raipur, Tiruchirappalli, Kashipur, Udaipur, and the six new ones, including Visakhapatnam, Bodh Gaya, Rohtak, Sirmaur, Rau and Nagpur, will be able to award degrees to its students once the new IIM Bill is passed in the Cabinet.

Uri attack: Will the pre-2014 Narendra Modi please stand up?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Pakistan ko usi ki bhasha mein jawab dena chahiye, ye love letter likhna band karna chahiye” ( We should answer Pakistan in their own language, stop writing these love letters) – Narendra Modi in an interview before 2014 pollsTwitter is full of such similar angry rhetoric from the Gujarat strong man, sentiments expressed at various crucial junctions targeting the ruling UPA regiment, where he promised decisive leadership vis-a-vis Pakistan. 2 years and 5 months down the line as PM of the country, in a post Una and Pathankot scenario, geopolitik reality may be finally catching up with Narendra Modi. The death of 18 valiant young men has suddenly put his leadership under the spotlight and this incident will test his mettle as a PM and probably will determine his legacy vis-à-vis foreign policy something which he has made the cornerstone of his tenure.Modi’s Pak policy till now has been fluctuating and ill-defined. Like every PM, Narendra Modi too believed that he can crack the Pak riddle to cement a lasting legacy. The massive mandate buoyed him to go out on a limb to invite Sharif for the oath-taking ceremony. He followed it up with the birthday visit late December last year when he took an impromptu detour to Pakistan while coming back from Afghanistan.He also gave a Pakistani team access to the Pathankot airbase after the attack. But all of it ended in disaster. Nawaz Sharif under domestic compulsion and army coercion has only hardened his line. When it came to cross-border terrorism Pakistan continued to live in denial (or pretended to) despite clear-cut evidence to the contrary. They have also tried to blow up the Kashmir issue and the death of Burhan Wani was hailed as sacrifice of a martyr by the top military and political regime of our neighbour.The brutal attack on Indian forces by Jaish terrorists backed by a Pak deep state shows that it is continuing its policy of bleeding India by a 1000 cuts. But how can India respond to it? Pre–Uri, India’s response to Pakistan’s Kashmir rhetoric was opening a new front in Balochistan. While that is a long game, the fierceness of this attack where the toll may well rise over 18, has raised demand for swift retributions. Yet as we all know, offensive and inevitable counter-offensive raises threat of rapid escalation, which can be potentially catastrophic as both India and Pakistan are nuclear nations.Manmohan Singh realised that after 26/11, and despite mulling over several options including that of surgical strikes on terror camps operating from PoK, military option was ruled out. But can the current regime afford to show such a tepid response? It promised a bold, muscular Pak policy and the core voter base will hope that deeds match the words spoken. In the last 24 hours, PM has said that perpetrators of the attack will not be spared. Rajnath Singh has dubbed Pakistan as a terrorist state and Ram Madhav, known as a crucial conduit between BJP and RSS has raised the pitch demanding a jaw for a tooth. The reports coming from the Cabinet Committee of Security meeting though is sober. It is looking for possible political consensus before planning any possible offensive. Some sources are reporting that PM is keen on a ‘visible response’.There are multiple options India is looking at. The option of getting Pakistan diplomatically isolated has been tried in the past with various amount of success. With USA increasingly getting frustrated with the Pak establishment, diplomatic isolation is a feasible idea except the fact that China will look to veto it to further their agenda. The same goes for economic isolation in places like WTO. India can revoke the Most Favoured Nation status given to Pakistan, but is unlikely to have any lasting damage.Most experts have advocated for surgical strikes to break terror instruments in Pak-occupied Kashmir to send out a message. While that would be definitely look good, but possible and likely retaliation can’t be ruled out. Does Modi have a national mandate to take such arduous steps? While many may like to live in denial, the Kashmir situation is part of the larger conflict against Pakistan.. The hostility of a section of people of the Valley towards the Indian state gives Pak a moral high-ground,some legitimacy to butt into Indian affairs. As Mehbooba Mufti said, Modi can solve the problem. But it will need political bravado, out-of-the-box thinking and possible electoral backlash. A greater autonomy for the state within the Indian constitution can be a possible solution. In the long-run, some peaceful mitigation of the Kashmir issue can go towards blunting Pakistan’s edge.Many experts have pointed out that Indian army’s resources aren’t in the best shape, the air force suffering from shortages of modern tech. These factors obviously will play in mind of our security and political establishment when discussing the pros and cons of what response India should give. As ex- PM Manmohan Singh said, we can’t choose our neighbour. He decided to brazen it out during his term, never getting into confrontation mode with Pakistan. Modi may not have the leeway as his past assertions will continue to haunt him. How he can keep his credibility without forgetting geopolitical realities will decide India’s eventual response. He has to really walk on thin ice here.But there’s a silver lining in all this. Pakistan’s doublespeak over the years has finally been exposed. It’s evident that there’s no going back as BJP Union Minister Ravishankar Prasad pointed out ‘ties will be never the same again’. All the early noise from the high-level meet on the Uri attack indicate, that this time it will be a different response. At a high-level meet, Modi chaired a meeting in which he said he wants clear evidence of Pakistan’s complicity to be presented to global fora including UN General Assembly. They want to nail Pakistan on a global stage and also ‘diplomatically isolate’ Pakistan. Sources claim that the general belief was that India ought to avoid a knee-jerk reaction and will take short- and long-term implications into consideration. MOS Home Kiren Rijiju told reporters: “Everything is in front of the people. We must not give much attention to Pakistan’s reaction. We will take our steps carefully.” Whether the Modi govt can expose the Pakistani state’s duplicity on a global stage is something we will have to wait and see. Because this time merely saying kadi neenda or promising that Pakistan will get a ‘befitting reply’ is just not enough. As the BJP slogan in 2014 went: ‘Janta maaf nahi karegi’.

Rajya Sabha should be abolished: BJP MP Raj Kumar Saini

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP MP from Kurukshetra Raj Kumar Saini on Sunday said Rajya Sabha should be abolished immediately as it was set up by the Britishers to serve their own interest.Hitting out at Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Cabinet Minister O P Dhankar, he alleged that only those aspirants who were provided with leaked questions papers of the Haryana Civil Services (HCS) exam got chosen in the final list.Speaking at a function in Pindara village here, Saini also alleged that the BJP government in Haryana is working under the pressure of Dhankar and the party’s state president Subhash Barala.Without motioning Jat reservation issue, the MP said it is a mockery of the system if those who are highly prosperous and have all resources, do not respect the Supreme Court order, jam railway tracks and ask for reservation.

GST rollout: Centre mulling to ‘advance’ Winter session for early passage

New Delhi: In a bid to roll out the crucial Goods and Services Tax (GST) from 1 April next year, the Modi government is considering to prepone the Winter session of Parliament to pass the CGST and IGST bills, and pave way for implementation of the new sales tax regime.

The Winter session of Parliament is generally convened in the third or fourth week of November. The government, however, is looking to start the session from first fortnight of
November, just after the festival season.

A file image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking in Lok Sabha on GST Bill. PTI

A file image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking in Lok Sabha on GST Bill. PTI

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar is working overtime to repeat the success of the Monsoon session, according to sources.

However, they added that the final call is yet to be taken on the matter, but the work has been started for advancing the session.

The government is keen for early passage of the Central GST (CGST) and Integrated GST (IGST) bills, as it will give enough time to the Finance Ministry for implementation of the GST.

The two bills are supporting legislations to the Constitutional Amendment Bill approved in the Monsoon session of Parliament.

GST, being a constitutional amendment, required a ratification by 50 per cent of state Assemblies, which has been achieved.

Earlier this month, President Pranab Mukherjee had given his assent to the bill.

Last week, the Cabinet had also approved setting up a powerful GST Council, which will decide on the tax rate, exempted goods and the thresholds.

The CGST and IGST bills have been drafted on the basis of the model GST law. The states will draft their respective State GST (SGST) laws with minor variation incorporating state-based exemption. The IGST law would deal with inter-state movement of goods and services.

Jung v/s Kejriwal: Delhi HC verdict has erroneously turned back the constitutional clock

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The recent verdict by the Delhi High Court declaring that the National Capital Territory of Delhi continues to be a Union Territory and the Lieutenant Governor is its administrative head must make each one of us, irrespective of our political affiliations, sit up and take notice of the larger adverse implications it will have on the constitutional narrative not just in Delhi but across India, unless rectified by the apex court. This issue cannot be one where we seek to score a few convenient political brownie points over a much larger principle that we all must commit ourselves to in a democracy – namely the primacy of an elected government of the people, by the people and for the people over any sort of disingenuous, almost tyrannical form of government exclusively of the LG (or a Governor ) , run only by the LG (or a Governor) and presumably for the political masters at the Centre at whose behest the LG (or a Governor) acts. With utmost respect to the Delhi High Court and even as we await the decision of the Supreme Court, which I believe, would for strong legal and constitutional reasons, strike down this perplexing judgment, I would strongly urge members of my tribe to not turn back the constitutional clock to the British era by justifying the rule of an unelected (and perhaps unelectable) LG/administrator over a government that has been voted into power by the people of Delhi only because we relish the “jung” that ensues between them. Not only would we be guilty of putting politics before principles but we would also be buying into serious long term losses for some short term gains. Let me explain.V R Krishna Iyer in his opinion piece on the role of governors had written this years ago “The Supreme court, in the Shamsher Singh case (1974), laid down that the Indian administrative system is substantially based on the Westminster system where the Queen is bound to follow the Cabinet’s advice except in rare exceptions in which the Cabinet decision is irrational or arbitrary or perverse or plainly and blatantly biased or mala fide. In such an instance, the Governor may have discretion. The rule democracy implies is that the Governor is the ceremonial head and real power of administration remains with the Council of Ministers. To assume, that the Governor has the free and indiscriminate discretion to substitute his judgment for that of the Cabinet is a grave outrage. Can a Governor assume all executive power and refuse to sign legislation passed by the legislature and negative judicial decisions? Then, our Constitution will be reduced to paper tyranny. The implications of the Governor being treated as vested with absolute power is dangerous. Imagine the President of the country acting as the sole ruler, not accountable to anyone except his conscience. Swaraj then becomes a mirage and an absurdity.” Call it sheer co-incidence or an irony of sorts that on the very same day Delhi HC gave the verdict in question that virtually legitimised the LG acting as a super CM of sorts, the Upper House of Parliament was also discussing the misadventures of Governors in states like Arunachal Pradesh where the elected government of the Congress party had been destabilised by the unconstitutional actions of a pliant Governor, presumably at the behest of his political masters in the Central government! And the positions taken by the members of the Congress party in the Rajya Sabha echoed pretty much the sentiment expressed by V R Krishna Iyer or that of the Aam Admi Party on that day. Initiating the debate senior leader Anand Sharma questioned the role of governors and said he or she is “not supposed to interfere in the day-to-day functioning.” Governors taking unilateral decisions, in his opinion was an “insult to people’s mandate.” He further added “Governors are willingly becoming tools and agents to execute the nefarious agenda of the ruling party.”On the other hand, some Delhi based leaders whose questionable political acumen earned them all of 0 seats out of 70, eager to score petty brownie points, scored a self-goal by supporting a verdict that favoured the Modi government even though it completely contradicted and undermined the stand taken by senior Congress leaders in Rajya Sabha. That in a sense also legitimised the nefarious agenda of the Modi government to misuse Governors as agents. Some including a former advisor to ex-Delhi Chief Minister tried to rationalise this illogical stand. The sum and substance of his argument was that one could take two stands on the same issue-one at Delhi level and the other at a national level- on the role of the governor vis-a-vis an elected government! His justification was rather bizarre. Hair-splitting on the fact that Delhi’s constitutional status wasn’t the same as Arunachal Pradesh’s. On a lighter note, during our brief twitter exchange on the subject, I hoped the former political advisor wouldn’t end up saying something bizarre that would imply the vote of a voter in Delhi carried less weight than the vote of a voter in Arunachal Pradesh! He suggested that Delhi’s status as a UT wasn’t the same as Arunachal Pradesh which is a full-fledged state. That’s only partly true. Perhaps, the advisor and my friends in Delhi would have been well “advised” to take a leaf out of senior Congress leader Vivek Tankha’s book on the subject. Much like me senior advocate Vivek Tankha, who has been recently elected to the Rajya Sabha on a Congress party ticket, has nothing to gain by siding with the Arvind Kejriwal government in Delhi. Tankha did not let his political preferences come in the way of an objective legal opinion/principle when he categorically (and correctly) stated in his article written in 2015 that “the NCT, though called a UT, was conceptualised as a virtual state, minus the three important subjects (land, police and public order).” The Union Territories, he further explains, “which include the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi, have less administrative autonomy than the states. But Article 239AA is a special provision conferring a degree of autonomy for the governance of Delhi.”Indeed, Tankha’s legal perspective is bolstered by a plain and simple reading of the Statement of Objects and Reasons appended to the Constitution (Sixty-ninth Amendment) Act, 1991 which inserted articles 239AA and 239AB after Article 239A of the Constitution which states as follows: “The question of re-organisation of the Administrative set-up in theUnion territory of Delhi has been under the consideration of the Government for some time. The Government of India appointed on 24-12-1987 a Committee to go into the various issues connected with the administration of Delhi and to recommend measures inter alia for the streamlining of the administrative set-up….After such detailed inquiry and examination, it recommended that Delhi should continue to be a Union territory and provided with a Legislative Assembly and a Council of Ministers responsible to such Assembly with appropriate powers to deal with matters of concern to the common man. The Committee also recommended that with a view to ensure stability and permanence the arrangements should be incorporated in the Constitution to give the National Capital a special status among the Union territories.” 239AA (4) clearly states that there shall be a Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister at the head to aid and advise the Lieutenant Governor in the exercise of his functions in relation to matters with respect to which the Legislative Assembly has power to make laws, except in so far as he is, by or under any law, required to act in his discretion.The Delhi HC verdict which says that the LG is not bound by the aid and advise of the CoM is in essence saying that a) there is no difference between a union territory directly under control of the central government eg Andaman and Nicobar Island and one that has an elected legislature, eg: Delhi and b) real power vests with the Governor and not the cabinet/council of ministers which is contrary to the Basic Structure of the constitution. Can we be told what happens to the “special status” of Delhi explicitly granted to it by 69th Amendment? Why and with what legislative intent was 239AA inserted at all vide the 69th Amendment? Why this expensive farce of holding an election and electing a CM and a legislative assembly? Why not continue with Delhi as a Union Territory under the administration of the President of India which it was from 1956 onwards? Why was the Delhi Assembly re-established in the year of 1993, after the Constitution (Sixty-ninth Amendment) Act, 1991 came into force, followed by the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991? And if this verdict holds true for Delhi, does it also hold true for Pondicherry where the elected government would have an unelected dictator in the form of former IPS officer & BJP leader Kiran Bedi running the show reducing the CM and his Council of Ministers to mere puppets? What a hilarious situation indeed! AAP in Delhi and Congress in Pondicherry would have to get elected and would thereby be held accountable for all actions of Najeeb Jung and Kiran Bedi – two of the most unelectable persons in the country? And these two would enjoy all the power without any accountability towards the people of Delhi and Pondicherry and would do as the Centre commands them to, usually to play political spoilsport and create trouble for the elected governments in Delhi and Pondicherry? Does this make any sense – political or constitutional?Tankha has further settled one more pressing controversy with respect to civil servants and who regulates their postings in the Delhi government. According to him “Under Section 3 of the All Indian Services Act, 1951, the Centre, in consultation with the state governments concerned and by notification in the official gazette, can lay down rules to regulate the recruitment and conditions of service of the persons appointed. The All India Administrative Service Cadre Rule, 1954, defines “state” as “a state specified in the First Schedule to the Constitution and includes a UT”. It says that the Centre, in consultation with the state government (or UT), shall determine the strength and composition of the cadre, as well as the allocation of officers. Most importantly, it lays down that cadre postings are the prerogative of the state government, which may be read as the government of the NCT of Delhi.” Congress general secretary in-charge for Delhi and former MP PC Chacko has gone on the record to say that – “We are for complete statehood because in its absence Delhi is only a glorified municipality. If the central government is hostile to the government of the day in Delhi, the latter simply can not function”. Leaders of the BJP in Delhi too have advocated full statehood for Delhi at different points of time. The principle can’t change merely because somebody else happens to be in power in this case Kejriwal. We cannot do such a U-turn, right from full statehood to denying Delhi its current arrangement of having a Special status amongst UTs! Not only is it opportunistic but extremely myopic and politically unwise. Delhi is a state where the Congress party may return to power. Does it want to go through what AAP government is in case there is a hostile government at the Centre? And if we all are going to accept that the LG is indeed the boss of Delhi how are political parties then going to say that AAP must be held responsible for unfulfilled promises? And are we going to start telling people of Delhi to approach the LG to get their work done instead of approaching the CM?Hopefully, the Supreme Court will set things right again in Delhi but let us not lose sight of the larger nefarious design of the Modi government to misuse governors as “agents” as Anand Sharma rightly pointed out. It is happening in Delhi just as it will happen in Pondicherry and has happened in Arunachal Pradesh. The author is he youngest Secretary of the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee and has been the youngest Addl Private secretary to MoPA, Govt of India . He can be reached at @Shehzad_Ind

Govt cancels NIA IG Sanjeev Kumar Singh’s one-year extension in less than a month

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a u-turn within a month, the government on Friday cancelled the one-year extension of IPS officer Sanjeev Kumar Singh, Inspector General in the National Investigation Agency (NIA).Surprisingly, there is a mention in the fresh order that “competent authority” in the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) had “not approved” the extension order of Singh, a 1987 batch IPS officer from Madhya Pradesh.Singh, who also doubled up as the Chief Spokesman of the NIA, an organisation that came into existence after the 26/11 Mumbai terror strike, was given extension by the ACC on June 22 for a period of one year.However, Friday’s order issued by the Department of Personnel said “it is conveyed that the competent authority in the Appointments Committee of Cabinet has not approved the proposal of the Ministry of Home Affairs for extension of central deputation” for Singh.It has also asked the Home Ministry to relieve Singh from the post immediately.The June 22 order had said the ACC has approved the proposal of the Home Ministry for extension of Singh for a period for one year beyond July 5, 2016, in relaxation of IPS tenure policy.During his tenure, Singh had emerged as the face of NIA and he handled various sensitive cases including the Burdhwan blasts, Pathankot terror strike, growth of ISIS modules in the country and Udhampur terror attack.

Good News! Private sector women employees may get 26-week maternity leave

All establishments, including in private sector, will have to provide 26-week maternity leave to their women employees under a new bill, which the government plans to push in the upcoming Monsoon Session, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said on Friday. While there is already a provision of 26-week or six- month maternity leave for the government employees, most private sector firms offer maximum three months of such leave. Besides, these benefits are not provided at all in many smaller establishments.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Speaking to reporters in New Delhi, the Minister said the new Maternity Benefit Bill, which seeks to enhance maternity leave to 26 weeks from existing 12 weeks, will be shortly taken up by the Cabinet for approval and the Ministry will push it for passage in the Monsoon session of Parliament. He, however, appeared to rule out making it mandatory to provide work-from-home option to the working mothers.
ALSO READ Maneka Gandhi wants working women to get 8 months maternity leave “There are certain establishments where they can get (the permission to work from home). But in other establishments they will get the facility of (26 weeks maternity leave) after amendment in the Act,” Dattatreya said.He was replying to a query about the steps being taken by his Ministry to promote the concept of work from home to increase women participation in the workforce. Asked about the paternity leave and other benefits for fathers, the Minister said, “The Bill is about mothers and children. It is not about the men.”
ALSO READ Good news! Tata Teleservices to give 6-month maternity leave to women employeesThe Minister also said that the model law that allows shops, malls and cinema halls, among other establishments, to run 24×7 throughout the year will increase women participation in the workforce as it allows them to work in night shits. “The is a pro-women law. Besides, it will help in employment generation. This will help increase women participation in the workforce,” the Minister said.The Model Shops and Establishments (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Bill, 2016, was approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday. “The law also allows women to work in night (shifts).. There is provision for all facilities for women like drinking water, lavatory, creche, first aid and security,” he said.
ALSO READ Bharti Airtel nearly doubles maternity leave to 22 weeksThe Model law also provides for creches if the establishment has 30 women/50 workers. While adopting the model law, the states can modify it as per their requirements.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviews performance of ministries

Amid talks of a Cabinet reshuffle, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday reviewed the performance of various ministries in spending budgetary allocations and implementing schemes in the past two years and asked his colleagues to ensure schemes be tailored to benefit masses.At an over four-hour-long meeting of the Council of Ministers, the Prime Minister reviewed the performance of all Union ministries to ascertain whether budgetary allocations have been spent wisely. He also sought to know the number of schemes implemented by each ministry.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi, according to those present in the meeting, asked the ministers to ensure that schemes are tailored in such a fashion that the benefit reaches the common man. Several ministers made suggestions on how best budget can be utilised. They also pointed out that at times, one sector gets more attention at the cost of the other. Top bureaucrats made a power point presentation running into over 100 slides.Modi was of the view that schemes mentioned in the election manifesto are implemented in true spirit to that the Opposition does not get a chance to accuse the government of falling short on promises.Expressing satisfaction over the implementation of various schemes, he said there was no need to come up with fresh schemes and the present ones should be altered as per changing needs. Today’s review is been dubbed as a ‘report card’ of Union ministers as there is talk of a long-pending reshuffle of the council of ministers.But ministers said there was no mention of the reshuffle exercise and the meeting was very “business like” where the prime minister took stock of the performance of various ministries.

Uttarakhand elections 2017: BJP to prepare ‘chargesheet’ against CM Harish Rawat to remove ‘the most corrupt government’

Ahead of the 2017 Assembly polls in Uttarakhand, BJP asked its party cadre on Thursday to “publicise” Centre’s “achievements” and prepare a “chargesheet” against Harish Rawat government terming it as “the most corrupt government” in the state’s history.The appeal to publicise the Centre’s “achievements”, especially what it has done for the empowerment of the poor and women and expose the current dispensation was made by BJP national secretary and media incharge Shrikant Sharma at a day-long party workshop in Dehradun.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Taking Centre’s achievements especially in the field of empowering poor and women through schemes like Jan Dhan Yojana and Ujjwala Yojana to people and exposing the state’s most corrupt government alone can power the BJP to victory in the next Assembly polls,” Sharma said.Describing Rawat’s continuance in office as a “plain political manipulation”, he said the state Cabinet s decision to pass the Appropriation Bill once again proves that the legislation had been defeated in the House and the government had fallen on March 18. “Rawat s continuance in office despite being reduced to a minority is pure political manoeuvre,” he said.Calling the Rawat government as “the most corrupt government” Uttarakhand had seen since its creation, he said the sting operation against the CM bore testimony to the fact.He asked party workers to go to people and convince them that 2017 Assembly elections was an opportunity for them to get rid of a government “steeped in corruption” and install a “development-oriented” government.

‘This is a brazen murder of democracy’,National Conference accuses PDP on Land Transfer Bill

National Conference (NC) accused the ruling PDP of “sabotaging” the Land Transfer Bill on Thursday, which aims at preventing transfer of land to non-state subjects, in the Assembly by supporting the move of its ally BJP to transfer the bill to a select committee.”This is a brazen murder of democracy, ironically and tragically on the same day when (chief minister) Mehbooba Mufti took oath as a member of the Assembly. The bill was sent to the select committee despite the fact that BJP members were part of the cabinet decision on June 23 to introduce the bill in the House. This defies sanity and precedent and questions the very existence and writ of the chief minister,” NC spokesperson Junaid Mattu said in Srinagar.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mattu said PDP’s “sellout was exposed” in the Assembly on Thursday when some PDP members rose in open revolt against the party. “Even some members of the ruling party were shocked at how a bill passed through the Cabinet to be tabled in the Assembly could be sabotaged in this manner. NC had announced that it would support the Bill and all such measures that are aimed at safeguarding J-K s special status.”Unfortunately, it is now pretty evident that for Mehbooba, J-K’s special status is negotiable and she can quite easily barter in lieu of BJP’s continued patronage and benevolence,” the NC spokesperson said.He said the transfer of the bill to the select committee was a matter of “shame” for the chief minister. “…PDP has obliged BJP in sabotaging the bill without any consideration for the absolutely damaging message this would send out. This emboldens those voices that have sought erosion of the State Subject Laws and abrogation of Article 370 and this could very well be the first covert step by the PDP-BJP alliance to erode J&K’s special status,” he said.He alleged that the entire “covert plan” is being enacted under the direct supervision of the chief minister. “Nothing could be more tragic,” he said.”Those members of PDP who rose in revolt against their own party at this shocking sellout should realise that their party is now at open loggerheads against the people of this state and their legal and political interests. “PDP’s continued investment in the politics of betrayal and U-turns is a matter of grave concern and the chief minister should know that her deeds will have proportionate and serious consequences,” the NC spokesperson said.

Amit Shah meets PM Modi amid reports of Cabinet reshuffle

BJP President Amit Shah on Wednesday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi amid reports of a reshuffle in the Union Cabinet.There was no official word on what transpired in the meeting, and party sources played down its significance, saying such an exercise, which is also attended often by Union Ministers Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh and Sushma Swaraj, happens almost every month. Top party leaders take stock of political affairs in the meet.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>There has been a strong buzz in the party for some time about a reshuffle. Uttar Pradesh, which goes to the polls early next year, is likely to get more representation and besides Assam, whose Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal was a Union Minister before he returned to lead the state government. Some state ministers could also be elevated to Cabinet rank, sources said.

dna Evening Must Reads: From govt employees going on strike to death toll in Istanbul attack reaching 41

1. Unhappy with 7th Pay Commission hike, govt employees to go on strike on July 11Nearly 32 lakh central government employees have announced they will be going on a strike starting July 11, protesting against the 23.55% salary hike approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday, Zee Business channel news frash indicated. Read more here.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. Shastri should’ve been in the interview in person, instead of vacationing in Bangkok – ‘Absent’ Sourav lambasts RaviFormer Indian captain Sourav Ganguly who had avoided speaking about the national coach selection row till now, finally lashed out at Ravi Shastri on Wednesday. Ever since he lost out on India coach’s job, Shastri has not wasted a single opportunity to show his ‘disappointment’ about the selection process. Read more here.3. Vodafone tax case: Delhi HC allows IT dept to go ahead with penalty proceedingsDelhi High Court on Wednesday allowed the income tax department to go ahead with its penalty proceedings against telecom major Vodafone, but asked the agency not to give effect to its final order till the next hearing in July. Read more here.4. SC bench sends fresh PIL against Section 377 to CJI for appropriate ordersSupreme Court bench on Wednesday sent a fresh PIL on decriminalising consensual homosexuality to Chief Justice of India (CJI) for appropriate orders. The CJI will decide if the petition is to be heard along with the curative petition already pending in SC. Read more here.5. At least 41 dead, 239 wounded in Istanbul attack: GovernorA triple suicide bombing at Istanbul’s international airport left 41 people dead, 13 of them foreign nationals, and 239 wounded, the city governor said in a statement. The governor’s office said 109 of the 239 wounded were discharged from hospital. It said 13 of the dead were foreigners. Read more here.

Live: Govt to clear arrears in the current fiscal year itself, says Arun Jaitley

Jun 29, 2016

Highlights

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In a bonanza for over one crore government employees and pensioners, the Union cabinet on Wednesday
approved implementation of the 7th Pay Commission, which had recommended an overall hike of 23.5 percent.

“Congratulations to central government officers, employees & pensioners on a historic rise in their salary &
allowances through the 7th CPC (Central Pay Commission),” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley tweeted shortly after the
meeting of the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

It wasn’t however known immediately if the cabinet had bettered the hike recommended in salary and allowances of
nearly 50 lakh government employees and 58 lakh pensioners.

An official said the cabinet has approved implementation of the recommendations from 1 January, 2016.

The pay panel had in November last year recommended 14.27 percent hike in basic pay at junior levels, the lowest in 70 years. The previous 6th Pay Commission had recommended a 20 percent hike which the government doubled while implementing it in 2008.

After considering the increase proposed in allowances, the hike in remunerations comes to 23.55 percent.

The 23.55 percent overall hike in salaries, allowances and pension would entail an additional burden of Rs 1.02 lakh crore or nearly 0.7 percent of the GDP, to the exchequer.

The entry level pay has been recommended to be raised to Rs 18,000 per month from current Rs 7,000 while the maximum pay, drawn by the cabinet secretary, has been fixed at Rs 2.5 lakh per month from current Rs 90,000.

The secretaries’ panel may have recommended raising minimum entry level pay at Rs 23,500 a month and maximum
salary of Rs 3.25 lakh.

While the Budget for 2016-17 fiscal did not provide an explicit provision for implementation of the 7th Pay
Commission, the government had said the once-in-a-decade pay hike for government employees has been built in as interim allocation for different ministries.

Around Rs 70,000 crore has been provisioned for it, the official said.

With inputs from

Cabinet to deliberate model law allowing shops to open 365 days

New Delhi: Union cabinet will consider on Wednesday a model law that seeks to allow shops, malls and other establishments to operate throughout the year with flexibility to open and shut at their convenience.

Model law to keep shops oopen for 365 days in the offing. ReutersModel law to keep shops oopen for 365 days in the offing. Reuters

Model law to keep shops oopen for 365 days in the offing. Reuters

The model law also provides for women to be employed in night shifts with adequate security. It also calls for better working conditions for workers like drinking water, canteen, first aid, lavatory and creche.

“The ‘Model Shops and Establishment (Regulation of Employment and Condition of Services) Bill 2016 is listed on
agenda of the Cabinet meeting scheduled tomorrow,” a source said.

The model law will not require Parliament’s approval.

As per the proposal mooted by the labour ministry, the model law can be adopted by the states with flexibility of
modifying it as per their requirement.

The model law is aimed at generating addition employment as the shops and establishment will have freedom to operate for longer hours requiring more manpower.

According to the proposal, it will cover establishments employing 10 or more workers except manufacturing units and
will provide freedom to operate 365 days in a year with flexibility on timing to open and close.

It also provides exemption for highly skilled workers like those in IT, biotech, from daily working hours (nine hours) and weekly working hours (48 hours).

The model bill aims to bring uniformity in the legislative provisions, making it easier for all the states to
adopt it and ensure uniform working conditions across the country.

Centre has been receiving suggestions from time to time to enact model law, which the states could consider for
enforcement either by adopting the central law or necessary modification by the state law.

PTI

CPI(M) has taken decision on post to VS: Prakash Karat

The CPI(M), heading the ruling LDF in Kerala, on Monday said it has taken a decision on the post to be offered to party veteran VS Achuthanandan and the state Cabinet will take an appropriate call in this regard, senior leader Prakash Karat said. He was responding to a question by reporters here about giving an honourable post to 92-year-old Achuthanandan​, who led the LDF to an impressive victory in the May 16 assembly polls by vigorously campaigning.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”As far as our party is concerned, we have taken a decision and that will be translated into an appropriate decision by the cabinet,” Karat, a politbureau member, said.On whether Achuthanandan had agreed to the decision, he said “When something is decided (by the party) it will be in consultation and agreement with that person, it will not be unilateral decision.” When queried if the former leader of the opposition had agreed to the decision, he said “I said what is required will be done”.”Election campaign is one thing and running a government is different.Everybody has problems. All of us are getting old,” he said. The party had decided on Pinarayi Vijayan as the Chief Minister citing Achutanandan’s advanced age and physical limitations.

UP CM Akhilesh to expand his Cabinet today

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav will on Monday expand his Cabinet in perhaps the last reshuffle of his Council of Ministers ahead of next year’s assembly elections in the state.Governor Ram Naik will administer oath of office and secrecy to the new ministers at the Raj Bhawan here.Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party Government, which assumed office in 2012, had in the last expansion in October last year inducted five Cabinet Ministers, eight Ministers of State with independent charge and eight Ministers of State.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Samajwadi Party had on Saturday revoked its merger with gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari?s Qaumi Ekta Dal (QEM).Senior Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav said that Uttar Pradesh Minister Balram Yadav, who was sacked by the Chief Minister, apparently for facilitating merger will also be taken into the state Cabinet.The merger of the two parties was announced on June 21 by Samajwadi Party spokesman and senior Cabinet Minister Shipal Yadav, who is the brother of Akhilesh’s father and party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Parliament’s Monsoon Session likely to begin on 18 July; GST Bill tops govt’s agenda

New Delhi: The Monsoon Session of Parliament is likely to begin in the third week of July and end by mid August, with the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs set to meet on 29 June to decide on the schedule.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Sources say that the Session is expected to start from 18  July and continue till 13 August. The CCPA headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh will, however, take the final call at its meeting on 29 June.

With increased strength and support from some opposition parties in Rajya Sabha, the government is keen to get the GST Bill, which has been pending for a long time now, passed in this session in the Upper House.

The government has already missed the target of implementing the GST regime from 1 April, this year in the wake of stiff opposition to the tax reform measure by Congress and some other parties.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has recently claimed that almost all the states have agreed to support GST.

After a meeting of State Finance Ministers in Kolkata recently, Jaitley had said that except Tamil Nadu, which has some reservations, all other states favour the proposed legislation.

The GST is being touted as a key tax reform measure by the Modi government which will help give a fillip of 1 to 2 per cent to the country’s GDP.

The Bill has already been passed by Lok Sabha.

Railway Budget may be scrapped after Niti Aayog panel’s recommendation

The Narendra Modi government may scrap the practice of presenting a separate Railway Budget that has been going on since the days of the British Raj, according to The Times of India. A panel headed by Niti Aayog member Bibek Debroy recommended that the integration of the Railway Budget with the General Budget, the report added.

The NDA government has asked inputs from the Railway minister on the 20-page note titled ‘Dispensing with the Rail Budget,’ said an Indian Express report. The Department of Economic Affairs, the finance secretary and the Cabinet secretary will also be involved in the discussions, the report said.

Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu. PIB

Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu. PIB

The panel argued that the rail budget has become an exercise to dispense popular measures and have failed to address the “problem of under-investment”. The panel pointed out that as per the Railway Act of 1989, the Centre can change tariffs without involving the Parliament. The report also added that the panel noted that scrapping the exercise will also lower the stature of the Railway ministry.

In the 2016-17 Railway Budget, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu made no changes either in passenger fares or freight rates. He had also announced the introduction of three new super-fast trains and creation of dedicated north-south, east-west and east coast freight corridors by 2019.

The minister pegged the budget estimates at Rs 1.21 lakh crore with focus on capital expenditure with a mix of various sources of funding in order to ensure that the projects are given assured funding.

Gross traffic receipts for the coming fiscal was fixed at Rs 1.84 lakh crore, with passenger earnings growth pegged at 12.4 percent and earning target budgeted at Rs 51,012 crore. The freight traffic was pegged at an incremental tariff of 50 million tonnes, anticipating a healthier growth in the core sector of the economy. Goods earning was proposed at Rs 1.17 lakh crore.

In February, after the Railway Budget was announced, Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha told Firstpost’s Sanjay Singh, “the Rail Budget is not about announcement of new trains and number of stops a particular train will have. It should never have been like this. It means much more than that. Rail connects people in all parts of the country and carries persons of all hues, all strata. The rail minister has made right decisions. The prime minister is very keen to see that the face of Indian Railway is changed for the good.”

However, if the recommendations of the Niti Aayog panel is taken into consideration, Suresh Prabhu’s February budget could be the last one.

With inputs from agencies

AAP dares Modi government, asks for documents to form SIT on 1984 riots

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Monday alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government was incapable of providing justice to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots victims and dared the ruling dispensation to submit all documents so as to facilitate an Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe in this regard.”It’s not about aggression. It’s been 32 years that there has been no justice given in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case. We had asked for SIT probe in the matter. The Central Government is not doing anything. It is very wrong that people are not getting justice even after 32 years,” AAP leader Ashutosh told ANI.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Escalating his attack on the government, the AAP leader said the Centre was least interested in bringing the perpetrators to book.”In such a situation, give us all the documents and allow us to form an SIT. We will show you how we provide them justice. Both the BJP and the Akali Dal are not interested in providing justice in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Weren’t the people of Delhi the victims of 1984. The BJP Government and the Prime Minister have problems if we talk about their justice,” he added.In a full page advertisement published in almost all the leading dailies, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal urged Prime Minister Modi to either get the SIT constituted by the Home Ministry, to do something, or wind it up and allow the Delhi Government to set up an SIT, which will do proper investigations and get justice for the victims.”As you are aware, this year marks the 32nd year of the anti-Sikh massacre. In these 32 years 10 Commissions and Committees have investigated the matter but justice has eluded the victims. It was a long standing demand of Sikh Community that an SIT be set up. However, no Government ever did anything in this regard in 30 years,” read the advertisement.”During 49 days of the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi, my Cabinet took decision to form Special Investigation Team (SIT) to bring culprits to justice.”Unfortunately, our government didn’t last long to implement that decision. We were keen to form SIT and include this demand in our election manifesto,” it added.As per the norm, the SIT, which has decided to reopen at least 75 cases related to the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi in 1984, will issue advertisements regarding these cases and ask the victims and witnesses to join the probe.A total of 3,325 people were killed in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and other states in the riots after then prime minister Indira Gandhi was shot dead by her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984.Delhi alone accounted for 2,733 deaths.

Smriti Irani, what can we Indians call thee, ‘dear’ saas jo kabhi bahu thi?

What do we Indians call thee,
Our Twitter-happy Mantri ji?
Dear makes her ears red,
Mata ji is cruelly inept,
For aunty, her hair isn’t gray,
See, already not many in fray.

What do we Indians call thee,
Our anger-on-nose Queen Bee?
Bengal has a patent over Didi,
UP says there’s just one Behenji,
Punjabis would object to Bibi,
That’s just Jagir Kaur, unfortunately.

So, what do we call thee,
The one with a Yale degree?
Smriti would not make you happy,
And Irani could just be geography.
No first name, no surname,
Oh, what a terrible linguistic shame!

What do we Indians call thee,
Dear saas that kabhi bahu thi?
You deserve, nee, demand a salutation,
That won’t lead to a silly situation,
Where, imagine our sorry plight,
You perceive a non-existent slight.

Since we tried all options in Hindi,
From history, across Geography,
Amma, Bibi, Behenji and Didi,
Saas, bahu.. everything that could Be,
Let’s see if we can find for thee,
Something suitable in Queen’s Angrezi.

Would you mind, Her Excellency,
If, out of bewildered awe and fear,
Instead of epistolary niceties like Dear,
We called you just Her Petulancy?
For, since you joined Modi’s Cabinet,
We have seen you regularly fulminate.

Woe betide the one who asks a question,
Seeks a clarification or asks for action.
For everything you have just one formula,
Treat them all like poor Rohith Vemula.
Deny, discard, humiliate, grind them to dust,
In the end, accept defeat they all must.

For everything you have just a steely glare,
Bellicose words with which you declare:
“Will chop off my head, if I am wrong,”
This war cry has been your standard song.
That’s why, Her Excellency of HRD,
Her Petulancy we’d love to call Thee.

New Civil Aviation policy will greatly benefit passengers, says PM Modi

Narendra ModiNarendra Modi

A file photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said the Civil Aviation Policy approved by the Cabinet would transform the sector and greatly benefit the passengers.

He said the government aims to make air travel affordable and after implementation of the policy, scheduled commercial flights will increase from 77 in 2016 to 127 by 2019.

“The #CivilAviationPolicy approved today by the Cabinet will transform the sector & greatly benefit passengers,” Modi tweeted.

“#CivilAviationPolicy gives an impetus to affordability, regional connectivity, safety, infrastructure, which is vital for #TransformingIndia,” he said in another tweet.

The Civil Aviation Policy is aimed at making India the third largest civil aviation market Domestic ticketing is expected to grow from 8 crore in 2015 to 30 crore by 2022, Modi said.

Under the policy, green-field airports and heliports are to be developed.

dna Afternoon Must Reads: Civil aviation policy passed; what’s new in iOS 10; Ronaldo slams Iceland; and more

1. Civil aviation policy passed: Cabinet okays Rs 2,500 cap on one-hour flights, scraps 5-year ruleThe Union Cabinet has passed the new civil aviation policy on Wednesday. The draft of the new civil aviation policy was made public for the first time in November last year and the final draft was submitted to the Cabinet on June 3. Read more here<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. Kairana exodus: BJP fact-finding team visits UP; muslim locals accuse them of disturbing peaceA nine-member fact-finding BJP team held a meeting at MP Hukum Singh’s farm house, and then travelled in Kairana. Read more here3. US Senate fails to recognise India as ‘global strategic and defence partner’The Senate has failed to recognise India as a “global strategic and defence partner” of the US after a key amendment necessary to modify its export control regulations could not be passed. Read more here4. iOS 10 coming to your iPhone and iPad later this year: Find out what’s newFrom a more fun experience in messages to greater security across its communication apps, much is changed under the iOS hood. Read more here5. I think they will do nothing here: Frustrated Ronaldo slams Iceland for ‘parking the bus’Cristiano Ronaldo slammed minnows Iceland for proverbially ‘parking the bus’ in front of their goal as the north Atlantic Islanders held Group F favourites Portugal to a 1-1 draw. Read more here6. SS Rajamouli’s ‘Baahubali: The Conclusion’ begins shooting for last scenesSS Rajamouli’s Baahubali Part Two is in the last leg of shooting. They began shooting a major war scene on Monday. Read more here

Former AAP leader Anjali Damania ends hunger strike

Former AAP leader and social activist Anjali Damania, who was on a hunger strike demanding a probe into corruption charges against former Maharashtra Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse, ended her fast this evening. She broke her hunger strike after getting a written assurance from Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Roshni Raut, a close associate of Damania said, “Damania ended her strike after she received a message from Chief Minister on her mobile informing her that a proper inquiry has been constituted.” “The former AAP leader was also informed that a committee would be formed very soon to speed up (the probe) and ensure the time-bound investigation, following which she (Damania) decided to end her fast,” Raut said. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Damania had on June 2 sat on a hunger strike at Azad Maidan here demanding Khadse’s ouster from the Maharashtra Cabinet in the wake of charges of impropriety over purchase of a land belonging to the government-owned Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) in Pune against him. She had also demanded a time-bound inquiry into the matter led by a retired High Court judge. Earlier in the day, facing a string of allegations including irregularities in a land deal, Khadse had resigned and become the first casualty in BJP since the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah combine took over pledging zero tolerance towards corruption. Fadnavis had announced an inquiry by a retired high court judge into the allegations against Khadse, as sought by the senior leader himself.

National education policy to be made public after sharing with states, says Smriti Irani

New Delhi: The report of the TSR Subramanian-led Committee on evolution of a National Education Policy (NEP) will be made public only after its recommendations are shared with states and “not just for the sake of headlines”, HRD Minister Smriti Irani said on Friday.

At a press conference, she was asked about former Cabinet Secretary Subramanian’s letter seeking that the contents of the report be made public by the HRD ministry otherwise he would proceed to do it himself.

File image of HRD Minister Smriti Irani. PTI

File image of HRD Minister Smriti Irani. PTI

This education policy will not become a legacy of one individual who seeks a headline,” she replied. “It is the property of one lakh ten thousand villages, over 5000 blocks, over 500 districts, over 20 states that have given it to us with the confidence that any recommendation that comes to us will be shared with them before it is made a draft policy,” the HRD minister added.

She said when the process of drafting NEP was initiated, it was promised that before putting anything in public domain, the opinion of states would be taken.

“It is true, that on 27 May we got some recommendations, but still state governments have to express their opinions. So to present an incomplete thing before the people, I feel, would be an injustice. More so because we have been working in cohesion with the states, and to break this bridge just for the sake of a headline,” Irani replied.

Terming it “unfortunate that misleading or distasteful headlines are done”, Irani said she would not renege on her promise to state governments that they will have a voice in it, before it is dedicated to the nation.

When contacted for his comments, Subramanian said the views of the states as well as the committee report were all inputs for drafting of the NEP and added that “all of them should be in public space”. He, however, emphasised that the Centre is the only entity competent to prepare the policy.

Education policy report to be made public only after shared with states: Smriti Irani

The report of the TSR Subramanian- led Committee on evolution of a National Education Policy (NEP) will be made public only after its recommendations are shared with states and “not just for the sake of headlines”, HRD Minister Smriti Irani today said.At a press conference here, she was asked about former Cabinet Secretary Subramanian’s letter seeking that the contents of the report be made public by the HRD ministry otherwise he would proceed to do it himself.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”This education policy will not become a legacy of one individual who seeks a headline,” she replied.”It is the property of one lakh tens thousand villages, over 5000 blocks, over 500 districts, over 20 states that have given it to us with the confidence that any recommendation that comes to us will be shared with them before it is made a draft policy,” the HRD minister added.She said when the process of drafting NEP was initiated, it was promised that before putting anything in public domain, the opinion of states would be taken.”It is true, that on May 27 we got some recommendations, but still state governments have to express their opinions. So to present an incomplete thing before the people, I feel, would be an injustice. More so because we have been working in cohesion with the states, and to break this bridge just for the sake of a headline,” Irani replied.Terming it “unfortunate that misleading or distasteful headlines are done”, Irani said she would not renege on her promise to state governments that they will have a voice in it, before it is dedicated to the nation.When contacted for his comments, Subramanian said the views of the states as well as the committee report were all inputs for drafting of the NEP and added that “all of them should be in public space”.He, however, emphasised that the Centre is the only entity competent to prepare the policy.

I have not gone after positions, says Achuthanandan

Thiruvananthapuram: CPM veteran and former Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan on Wednesday denied giving a note to CPM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury seeking a position for him in the government.

“I can say with boldness that I have not gone after positions during the seven decade long public life. During my public life, the party has given me certain positions. I have accepted that proudly,” the 93-year-old Communist leader said in a Facebook post.

Veteran Left leader VS Achuthanandan. AFPVeteran Left leader VS Achuthanandan. AFP

Veteran Left leader VS Achuthanandan. AFP

“If I want a position in the new LDF government, I do not have to handover a note to party General Secretary amidst swearing-in ceremony of the government,”Achuthanandan said while denying the reports that he had given the note to Yechury during the new ministry’s swearing-in ceremony on 25 May.

“On that day and before I met Yechury alone and otherwise many times. It is difficult to describe the imagination of the report that I have given the note in a bit paper during the swearing in function,”Achuthanandan said.

“What Yechury also had said on the issue was that certain suggestions have come and that has been handed over. The comrade has not said that I have given a note to him seekingany position,” Achuthanandan said.

Stating that he had entered into public life without an eye on positions, Achuthanandan, said because of that “I will continue to be one among the people.”

The veteran leader was not considered by the party for the post of Chief Minister this time considering his age and selected party politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan, once a bete noire of Achuthanandan, for the post.

It was reported that Achuthanandan would be accommodated in the government by providing him with a senior position.

After the politburo meeting in New Delhi earlier this week, Yechury had said that a formal decision on providing post to Achuthanadan would be taken by the state government.

The issue had become a talking point in the state last week when print and electronic media published certain visuals showing the veteran reading a note while attending the swearing-in ceremony of the Pinarayi Vijayan Cabinet and giving it to Yechury.

Modi approves doctors’ retirement age at 65 years in Central Health Service

New Delhi: Superannuation age of all doctors in Central Health Service has been enhanced to 65 years with effect from Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said about the decision that will benefit about 4,000 doctors.

Representational / Getty images.

Representational / Getty images.

“Central Government has decided to enhance superannuation age of all doctors in Central Health Service to 65 years with effect 31st May 2016,” he tweeted.

“With this step, we retain our experienced doctors for a longer period & provide quality health services to citizens, particularly the poor,” PM Modi added in another tweet.

There are about 4,000 doctors under the Central Health Service, according to the Health Ministry website.

PM Modi had announced at a rally in Saharanpur on 26 May that the Union Cabinet will take a decision within a week to raise the retirement age for doctors to 65 years “whether in states or government of India”.

Health Minister JP Nadda today said the step will empower the government to strengthen the healthcare sector in the country.

“This will enable the government to retain experienced doctors for a longer period, and to provide better services in its public health facilities, particularly to the poorest, who are entirely dependent on public facilities,” he said.

“It will help in providing additional doctors in the health pool of the country. This will strengthen the efforts of the Ministry in conceptualising and rolling out various people-oriented schemes which need the services of doctors in implementing them,” the minister said.

PM Modi had said at the May 26 rally that there is a need for more doctors across the country but it was not possible to fill the gap in two years of his government.

“There is a shortage of doctors. In government hospitals, their retirement is 60 years in some states, 62 in some others. If adequate numbers of medical institutes were there, then we would have more doctors and would not feel the shortage. It is difficult to make doctors in two years but poor families cannot be forced to live without doctors.

“Therefore from Uttar Pradesh, I want to announce this to my countrymen that this week our government’s Cabinet will take a decision and the retirement age of our doctors, whether in states or government of India, would be made 65 years instead of 60 or 62,” he said.

Modi’s third year mantra: Bridge trust deficit between govt and people

After series of bureaucratic reforms that were aimed at ‘minimum government and maximum governance’ in past two years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government is now focusing on citizen-centric governance and framing a training curriculum to change the attitude of civil servants towards their service and general public.Soon after assuming office two years ago, Modi had jolted bureaucrats, taking them to task for spending time in elitist clubs and instead told them to clean up offices, keep hallways unobstructed and documents neatly stacked. Further, every department was asked to repeal at least 10 rules seen as obsolete or redundant to reduce the number of decision-making levels and shorten formats to one page only.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Over past 104 weeks in power, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) comprising of Prime Minister and Home Minister as members has shuffled top bureaucracy 76 times on account of reasons varying from performance to signalling message of business. These include dramatic sacking of Sujatha Singh from the Foreign Secretary’s post, the axing of Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami for allegedly trying to stall the arrest of Saradha scam-accused and terminating the appointment of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief Avinash Chander, 15 months before his contract was to end.According to a survey conducted by Hong Kong-based Political & Economic Risk Consultancy Ltd a year ago, India’s bureaucracy figured the worst among 12 Asian countries. It was believed that public still perceive administrative structures as unresponsive, insensitive and corrupt and the barriers to good governance include the indifferent attitude of public servants, lack of accountability, red tapism, low levels of awareness of the rights and duties of citizens and ineffective implementation of laws and rules.With the NDA government entering into its third year, a day-long conference of top bureaucrats organised by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) focused on bridging the trust deficit between the government and people.“It was underlined to revise the training curriculum to include content for inculcating the values of equality, respect and dignity for all the citizens,” said a senior bureaucrat, who attended the meeting. Dr PK Mishra, additional principal secretary to the Prime Minister was hopeful that a citizen-centric governance will take shape, which will be more relevant and practical for public requirements.A motivational presentation on building of a service oriented organisation was made during the proceedings. It highlighted the importance of inculcating service orientation among employees through aligning the training programmes with vision and mission. Realising that its signature schemes were dependent on functioning and seriousness of bureaucracy, which has so far remain oriented in colonial era to serve masters, PMO is putting of at least 400 bureaucrats to work on schemes like–Make in India, Jan Dhan Yojna, Swachh Bharat, Digital India and Skill India Recruiting of high-skilled professionals. A team of specialists in technology and communications is also being planned for each department which will help in taking quick decisions that will have an impact on the ground level.The meeting proposed the sensitisation of civil servants on the issues of human values that would play an important role in changing their attitude towards the service and to the public besides suggesting that the training curriculum should include content that promotes reflection and thinking among participants. It was suggested to rope in senior civil servants and document their extensive experience in a scientific and logical framework so that it can be utilised as case study related to public policy.

Bids for upgrading Nagpur airport to be issued soon

In a boost to regional air connectivity in Maharashtra and Central India, the state government is planning to expand the capacity of the Nagpur airport and to construct a new runway.”The request for quotations (RFQs) for the upgradation and modernisation of the Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport (BAIA) will be issued soon. This project will be undertaken on a public private partnership (PPP) basis on design, build, finance, operate and transfer basis,” said a senior government official.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He added that a decision in this regard was taken in a recent meeting of the Maharashtra Airport Development Corporation (MADC) – a special purpose company to develop Multi-modal International Hub Airport at Nagpur (MIHAN) and Aviation Infrastructure in the state to provide the regional air connectivity.The BAIA airport is considered among the top 20 busiest airports in the country. According to an estimate, the airport saw a movement of around 1,401,147 passengers and 13,330 aircraft in 2014. The airport also saw handling of around 6,063 tonnes of cargo. The recent development is expected to improve its traffic handling capacity.The official said the decision to add another runway to the existing one would augment the capacity of the airport to handle passenger and cargo traffic. “One runway can be earmarked exclusively for the use of the Indian Air Force… now, there are restrictions on civilian flights. If a new runway is constructed, one can be kept exclusively for them,” he added, stating that the capacity augmentation would also help boost passenger traffic and exports from the units located in MIHAN and the larger region.The project was estimated to cost around Rs 1,400 crore and would consist of a parallel runway, taxiway, passenger terminal building and new cargo terminal building.”The existing terminal building is small. So, it will be expanded or a new one will be constructed,” the official said. “We will follow the PPP model which has been chosen for the proposed Greenfield Navi Mumbai International Airport…. since the operating income for the Nagpur airport will not be high, we will have to ensure that the non-operating income will be large. It is the first time this is being done in the Brownfield model,” he added.The state Cabinet has recently consented to swap MIHAN land with the IAF to aid the airport’s expansion. This had already been approved by the Centre. Accordingly, 278.158 hectare of Air Force land will be transferred to MIHAN in lieu of the former getting 400 hectare of MIHAN land. The CRPF will also swap 2.30 hectare land for a parcel of the same size with MIHAN. The aviation industry insiders are of view that even though the decision for swapping which has been hanging for over a decade has been cleared by the state Cabinet, it will not make much sense till the IAF physically hands over the possession of the said land. This would practically happen only after its new bases gets ready for operation on the land handed over to them by MADC.

Include Dalit Christians, fishermen in SC/ST: Karunanidhi to Modi

DMK President M Karunanidhi on Sunday requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to include Dalit Christians and fishermen community in Scheduled Tribes list. Thanking Modi for the recent Cabinet’s decision to include Narikuravars in the list of Scheduled Tribes, he said it was a demand made by DMK for a very long time and expressed satisfaction that it had been fulfilled. On his demand for including Dalit Christians in the SC/ST category, Karunanidhi said, “when SC/STs convert themselves to Christianity, they are deprived of all the privileges and concessions hitherto enjoyed by them. “DMK has been demanding that the SC/STs after conversion to Christianity should be treated as SC/STs and allowed all concessions and privileges,” he said, adding there were precedents such as recognition of Sikh Christians and Buddhist Christians.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He also said the fishermen community should be included in the ST category as marine tribes. “The fishermen community, by their very geographical nature, is socially and educationally akin to the Scheduled Tribes.” Their inclusion in ST list, which they “deserve in all respects”, would enable them to climb up the ladder of life, Karunanidhi said. Karunanidhi requested Modi to “consider the two demands and sought an early action by the government.” Last week, the Union Cabinet gave its approval for inclusion of three communities, including Narikuravar, from the state under the Scheduled Tribes category.

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