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Special arrangements made in Bihar for Prakash Parv

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A total of ten trains and 300 buses will take devotees from Punjab to Patna for on January 5. The Punjab govt has made elaborate arrangements for the devotees who will travel free of cost to Patna for the ‘Prakash Utsav’. The state govt has also co-ordinated with Bihar govt for providing a free stay to thousands of devotees who would attend the celebrations.“In all the trains, one compartment will be reserved for women. The trains departing from 3 Takhts Sri Amritsar, Sri Anandpur Sahib and Sri Damdama Sahib will have one coach each for Nihang Sikhs (an armed Sikh order)” said Punjab Education Minister, Dr Daljeet Singh Cheema, adding that the Punjab Government has made arrangements for free travel and free meals.Over 25,000 devotees from Punjab are expected to take part in the event, which will be held in Takht Sri Patna Sahib, in Patna, also the birth place of the tenth Sikh guru. Thousands of devotees have already reached the venue.Dr Cheema further divulged that residents of every constituency would be fetched in 10 special trains as per the coaches apart from 3 buses operating from each constituency taking the total to 300 buses. Punjab government had earlier organized two functions at Sri Anandpur Sahib and New Delhi in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also present.

Mumbai: Jolt to MNS as leader from Dadar area joins Shiv Sena

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a jolt to the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena in its stronghold of Dadar-Mahim area ahead of next year’s municipal elections, former corporator Prakash Patankar on Sunday joined Shiv Sena.Patankar joined Shiv Sena alongwith over 1,700 workers in the presence of Sena president Uddhav Thackeray at latter’s residence,`Matoshree’, here.Patankar worked as Dadar-Mahim area `Vibhag Pramukh’ (area head) of MNS after he was denied a ticket by the Raj Thackeray-led party in the civic polls of 2012.Dadar is considered to be an MNS stronghold. Raj Thackeray lives in the same area.”MNS does not like people who work hard. It likes those who do publicity stunts,” said Patankar. He clarified that he had no grievance against Raj but was upset with those who poisoned his ears.Patankar was with Shiv Sena from 1990. He joined MNS when Raj formed the party in 2005.He also served as a corporator for two years (2010-2012) after the sitting Sena corporator was disqualified for providing a fake caste certificate.”I will work to ensure that all Sena candidates from Mahim Assembly constituency win in BMC polls,” he said.

Prime Minister Modi has given a befitting reply to Rahul Gandhi: BJP

“With no document, no substantial evidence, Rahul is claiming that Modi has been paid Rs 40 crores by the Sahara group in 2012-13,” BJP leader S Prakash said. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given a befitting reply to Rahul Gandhi’s baseless allegations.”The Prime Minister has rightly ridiculed Rahul Gandhi’s charges, as with no document, no substantial evidence and just based on Prashant Bhushan’s applications, he is claiming that Modi has been paid Rs 40 crores by the Sahara group in 2012-13,” BJP leader S Prakash said.He said that UPA was at the helm of affairs in the country at the time and could have enquired at that time. “Unfortunately, he expects a very high response from the Prime Minister which he does not deserve and Supreme Court has already given a verdict about it,” he said.He said that repeatedly making charge that don’t hold water seemed to be an exercise in frivolity. Prakash said Rahul Gandhi should realise his agenda is not working with the masses.

Waiting for Rahul Gandhi’s earthquake revelation, mocks BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Reacting to Congress vice-President’s ‘Modi-made disaster’ remark, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said on Sunday that Rahul Gandhi is yet to make ‘earthquake’ like revelations against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”I expected Rahul Gandhi to explode his earthquake statement in Belgaum, but I did not see any of it. Some of the Congress spokesperson were claiming on Friday that Rahul Gandhi will speak about it. What happened where is he going to explode that bomb,” BJP leader S Prakash.He said that making hollow and sensational claims is a very but it is difficult to prove them as is the case with Gandhi.”A person of his calibre should weigh every word before commenting or claiming something against the Prime Minister. Today, his reputation has been completely tarnished and his image is dented. So, he should bother about the disaster he has created for himself,” added Prakash.Yesterday at a rally in Belgaum, Karnataka, Gandhi dubbing demonetization as a “Modi-made disaster” and alleged that Prime Minister Modi would write off Rs. eight lakh crore loans of the 50 rich families who funded his election campaign from the money people have deposited in banks after the note ban.

‘Parliament not working is unconstitutional’: Prakash Javadekar questions example being set for students

New Delhi: Expressing displeasure over the ongoing Parliament logjam, Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar on Thursday questioned what will he show to the students of Kendriya Vidyala during their visit to the House.

Javadekar was present at an event to mark the foundation day of the Kendriya Vidyalaya schools.

File photo of Prakash Javadekar. PTI

File photo of Prakash Javadekar. PTI

Criticising the opposition for not letting the parliament function, he said, “Where is the Parliament functioning?” even as he expressed concern over the impact it would make on the school children, who visit Parliament to watch the proceedings.

“I wonder what should I show to the school children from Kendriya Vidyalayas who will come to watch the proceedings. Should I show them what kind of ‘hungama‘ is going on in the Parliament. They come having learnt lessons of discipline but would go back learning indiscipline,” Javadekar said.

“People choose a government after five years and in a Democracy, people’s mandate is above all. And in this way, if the Parliament does not work, this is undemocratic and an insult to the mandate,” he said.

“I think gradually the people’s opinion will create pressure on these people that this won’t do. Everyone has to work and in Parliament you should give your opinion, that is democracy. You should oppose, that too is democracy. But this is no way to not let function an elected government. And my pain is what should I show to the KV students,” Javadekar added.

The HRD minister also announced of a National Conference in education to be held in March and said those who have come up with new innovations and experiments will be felicitated. There will be discussions so that we share best practices, he said.

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 14:23 IST

CBSE Class 10 exams will be mandatory from 2017-18: Prakash Javadekar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The CBSE Board would meet at the end of this month and a resolution is set to be passed to make class X board exams compulsory for all its students from next academic session, HRD minister Prakash Javadekar has said.The minister also said the Human Resource Development Ministry (HRD) is working on an amendment to the Right to Education Act (RTE), and a proposal has been approved by the Law Ministry that would come to the Cabinet in a week or two. “This month there will be a CBSE Board meeting, in which there will be a resolution (for compulsory class X board exams). “So, I am very sure, from academic session 2017-18, Board examination will be mandatory for all students,” Javadekar told PTI.The minister also asserted that it was “unfair” that 23 million students in the country were taking various examinations -state boards and CBSE- and yet two million were not. Under the present norms, CBSE students can choose between the Board exam or a school based examination. On RTE amendment, he said once it is approved by the Cabinet, it will go to Parliament. “Even if it is referred to a Standing Committee, I hope by April, we will have an amendment which will allow states to take a call on whether to have detention or no detention,” Javadekar said.Presently, the ‘No Detention’ provision under the RTE Act does not allow students to be failed or detained till class VIII. The states will be given freedom to choose between having examination for classes V and VIII, Javadekar said. “But we are also simultaneously saying that if you take it and somebody’s detained, he should not lose one year. There should be a supplementary exam two months after and then he again joins the next batch. So that he does not lose a year but there is accountability for the student also,” the HRD minister said. “We don’t want to create exam oriented pressure on students but there has to be a challenge mode,” he said.

Andaman: Major rescue operation begins at Havelock Island as 205 people evacuated

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The weather in the Andamans further improved on Friday as the Navy, Coast Guard and Union Territory administration began joint evacuation of stranded tourists in Havelock island. Six naval ships, two of these from Coast Guard, sailed out in the morning hours from Port Blair for the rescue operations, officials said.The Indian Air Force told ANI that four shuttles were carried out and 85 tourists rescued from Havelock Islands. Seventeen people had been rescued in the first shuttle. The Indian Coast Guard said 120 tourists embarked on two ships departing Havelock. Three Indian Air Force helicopters were taking part in the evacuation process as the weather improved with the sun shining, days after around 1,400 tourists were stranded in two islands of Havelock and Neil, due to the cyclonic weather since Monday. All tourists are safe and their needs are being taken care of by the administration.Located about 40 km from here, Havelock and Neil islands are the most popular tourist attractions of Andamans, and the worst affected. “A decision has been taken that hotels, where tourists are stranded, will not take room rent from them, besides giving them food and water for free,” Deputy Commissioner of South Andamans Udit Prakash Rai had said on Thursday.With ANI/PTI inputs.

Andaman and Nicobar: Cyclonic weather persists in Havelock island, no casualties reported

Port Blair: With the cyclonic weather condition persisting in the Andamans, around 1,400 tourists remained stranded in two islands on Thursday and naval ships deployed for evacuation were unable to enter the habour due to strong winds.

There were, however, no reports of any casualty from either Havelock or Neil islands hit by the cyclonic weather since Monday.

The rains have stopped since morning but the wind is still blowing hard.

“The weather continues to be bad. Navy ships which were deployed for evacuation have not been able to enter the harbour because of strong winds and choppy seas,” a Defence official told PTI.

In the morning, two ships from the administration had sailed from Port Blair but could not berth in the jetty of the islands due to strong winds and rough seas, administration officials said.

Speaking to the media after a meeting with Lt Governor Jagdish Mukhi, Deputy Commissioner of South Andamans Udit Prakash Rai said, “A decision has been taken that hotels where tourists are stranded will not take any room rent from them, besides giving them food and water for free.”

“The administration will make all arrangements to send tourists back home once they are rescued,” he said.

Flight operations are normal since morning on Thursday.

“Today we are hopeful that the stranded tourists will be brought back to Port Blair. There is no need to panic as everyone is safe,” the administration official said.

The official said that there was no report of any loss of life or major damages to property.

However, trees in the islands have been uprooted and electric posts twisted.

Besides the tourists, 600 of whom are from West Bengal, local population in ten villages of Havelock and Neil islands has been affected due to limited supply of essential commodities.

Mobile and internet connectivity have snapped in many areas while transmission faults are hampering power supply.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Officials said they are also coordinating with all airlines for the smooth and timely return of the tourists.

The tourists have been requested to stay in their rooms till weather conditions improve. They have also been asked to stay away from coastal areas.

The administration has asked all tour operators not to take any tourists towards north and middle Andaman as a precautionary measure.

The Lt Governor is himself monitoring the situation.

All the emergency operation centres across the islands are functioning round the clock and are on high alert.

Meanwhile, Air India has waived the cancellation and refund charges for travel to and fro from Port Blair.

Air India spokesperson said in Kolkata that flight operations by the airlines were normal on Thursday.

He said that applicable penalties of re-issuance, date change, no-show, cancellation and refund charges for travel to and from Port Blair stand were waived on all tickets issued to the stranded tourists on or before 7 December for travel during the period between 6 December and 9 December.

The two islands, approximately 40 km from Port Blair, have been hit the most by cyclonic weather conditions caused by a severe depression over southeast Bay of Bengal which led to heavy rainfall, strong wind and rough sea conditions.

The MeT department has predicted that the weather condition in the archipelago is likely to improve with the centre of depression likely to move towards north-westward direction from Friday.

“The depression is very likely to intensify into a deep depression during the next 24 hours and into a cyclonic storm in subsequent 24 hours,” officials said.

Neil and Havelock are two of the most popular tourist attractions in Andamans and the only means of transportation from them are vessels and choppers.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 17:09 IST

1400 tourists remain stranded in Andamans, no casualties

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the cyclonic weather condition persisting in the Andamans, around 1,400 tourists remained stranded in two islands on Thursday and naval ships deployed for evacuation were unable to enter the habour due to strong winds.There were, however, no reports of any casualty from either Havelock or Neil islands hit by the cyclonic weather since Monday.The rains have stopped since morning but the wind is still blowing hard. “The weather continues to be bad. Navy ships which were deployed for evacuation have not been able to enter the harbour because of strong winds and choppy seas,” a Defence official said.In the morning, two ships from the administration had sailed from Port Blair but could not berth in the jetty of the islands due to strong winds and rough seas, administration officials said.Speaking to the media after a meeting with Lt Governor Jagdish Mukhi, Deputy Commissioner of South Andamans Udit Prakash Rai said, “A decision has been taken that hotels where tourists are stranded will not take any room rent from them, besides giving them food and water for free.” “The administration will make all arrangements to send tourists back home once they are rescued,” he said.
ALSO READ 1,400 tourists stranded in Andamans due to cyclonic weatherFlight operations are normal since morning on Thursday. “Today we are hopeful that the stranded tourists will be brought back to Port Blair. There is no need to panic as everyone is safe,” the administration official said.The official said that there was no report of any loss of life or major damages to property. However, trees in the islands have been uprooted and electric posts twisted. Besides the tourists, 600 of whom are from West Bengal, local population in ten villages of Havelock and Neil islands has been affected due to limited supply of essential commodities.

Demonetization: HRD campaign to promote digital transactions among students

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the wake of demonetization, the HRD Ministry is planning a month-long campaign, beginning December 12, to spread awareness about digital transactions among university students and teachers across the country.Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar on Thursday held a meeting through video conferencing with nearly 670 Vice Chancellors and senior officials dealing with higher education in states and said that the initiative — Vittiya Saksharta Abhiyan (VISAKA) is getting a very enthusiastic response from students.”In two hours itself there were more than 2,000 registrations and by today evening there will be ten thousand registrations,” Javadekar told reporters after the meeting. He said that various educational institutions are making efforts to ensure a digital campus but it is just a small part of the story.To register volunteers, we are appealing to all college students to become volunteers in this transformation of India campaign of digital financial literacy, the minister said.Javadekar said that as part of the campaign, each student will join digital platform and initiate their family as well as ten others towards cashless transactions.

Demonetisation: HRD ministry plans month-long campaign to spread digital awareness among students

New Delhi: In the wake of demonetisation, the HRD Ministry is planning a month-long campaign, beginning 12 December, to spread awareness about digital transactions among university students and teachers across the country.

File Photo. Reuters

File Photo. Reuters

Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar today held a meeting through video conferencing with nearly 670 Vice Chancellors and senior officials dealing with higher education in states and said that the initiative — Vittiya Saksharta Abhiyan (VISAKA) is getting a very enthusiastic response from students.

“In two hours itself there were more than 2,000 registrations and by today evening there will be ten thousand registrations,” Javadekar told reporters after the meeting.

He said that various educational institutions are making efforts to ensure a digital campus but it is just a small part of the story.

To register volunteers, we are appealing to all college students to become volunteers in this transformation of India campaign of digital financial literacy, the minister said.

Javadekar said that as part of the campaign, each student will join digital platform and initiate their family as well as ten others towards cashless transactions.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 14:17 IST

Andaman and Nicobar: Rajnath Singh says tourists safe in Havelock island, efforts on for evacuation

New Delhi: Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said all tourists at Havelock Island in the Andamans, who are stuck due to cyclonic conditions, are safe and efforts are on for their early evacuation.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Singh on Thursday called up Lieutenant Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands Jagdish Mukhi and enquired about the status of the stranded tourists.

Mukhi briefed the Home Minister about the situation and the steps taken for rescue of the stranded tourists.

“All the tourists in Havelock Island are safe and the government has made all preparation to evacuate them.Government will launch rescue operations after the intensity of cyclone reduces,” Singh said in a statement.

The Home Minister said that rescue teams are ready at Port Blair and appealed to family members of the stranded tourists not to panic as all in the Havleock Island are reported to be safe.

Havelock and Neil islands, approximately 40 kms from Port Blair, have been hit the most by the cyclonic weather conditions caused by a severe depression over southeast Bay of Bengal which led to heavy rainfall, strong wind and rough sea conditions, officials said.

Neil and Havelock are two of the most popular tourist attractions in Andamans and the only means of transportation from them are vessels and choppers which have stopped operation since Monday last due to bad weather.

South Andaman’s deputy commissioner Udit Prakash Rai had said on Wednesday, “About 1,400 tourists, who had visited the islands, are now stranded and unable to return to Port Blair to fly back home.”

The local populace of 10 villages of Havelock and Neil islands have also been hit severely by the cyclone which has hampered the movement of essential supplies.

Indian naval ships Bitra, Bangaram, Kumbhir and LCU 38 have been deployed for evacuation.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 11:39 IST

Akali dal Pani Bachao puts ally BJO in fix

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Facing twin challenges from a resurgent Congress and a galvanised Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in Punjab is leaving no stone unturned to make launch of its election campaign on December 8 a grand success. The rally scheduled in Moga coinciding birth anniversary of Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal will also give a clarion call to protest against the river- water sharing agreement with neighboring Haryana.Ironically the rally, ‘Pani Bachao, Punjab Bachao’ is calling for snapping water sharing agreements with Haryana, currently being ruled by the BJP, which ironically is also alliance partner of SAD in Punjab.Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal said the party has collected signatures of over 20 lakh people for the campaign, which will be submitted to President Pranab Mukherjee. The Supreme Court had on November 25 ordered status quo on land acquired for the water project.“The rally is being organized to sensitize the youth of the state about the gravity of the situation,” said Chief Minister, Prakash Singh Badal, while talking to media on the sidelines of a Sangat Darshan in Patiala, here on Wednesday.The rally has angered the Opposition, which feels that rather making it an emotive issues in the state for the sake of garnering votes, the chief minister should take up issue with his political ally the prime minister Narenda Modi. “Rather than putting Punjab’s point of view in SYL issue in front of PM Narendra Modi, when he had visited Bathinda recently, the party is now raking up the issue to gain political mileage,” senior Congress leader, Sunil Jakhar told DNA.The party has roped in volunteers from across the districts to make the rally a success by arranging a network of buses to bring people from all districts. Apprehending any protests, it has also locked horns with the group of radical Sikhs by not granting permission to organize the Sarbat Khalsa on the same day, in Talwandi Sabo, 100 kms away from Moga.

1,400 tourists stranded in Andamans due to cyclonic weather

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Around 1,400 tourists are stranded at Havelock and Neil islands in the Andamans due to cyclonic weather conditions and four ships have been pressed into service by the Navy.The two islands, approximately 40 km from Port Blair, have been hit the most by the cyclonic weather conditions caused by a severe depression over Bay of Bengal, which led to heavy rainfall, strong wind and rough sea conditions, officials said.The administration has already declared the cyclonic weather as ‘L1 Disaster’. Neil and Havelock are two of the most popular tourist attractions in Andamans and the only means of transportation from them are vessels and choppers, which have stopped operation since Monday last due to bad weather.Mobile and Internet connectivity have also been snapped in many areas. “About 1,400 tourists, who had visited the islands, are now stranded and unable to return to Port Blair to fly back home,” South Andaman’s deputy commissioner Udit Prakash Rai said.The local populace of 10 villages of Havelock and Neil islands have also been hit severely.Andaman administration officials said the cyclonic weather has uprooted trees, disrupted power supply and caused flooding in some low-lying areas of Port Blair. Mobile and internet connectivity have also been snapped in many areas.There is, however, no reason to panic, the officials said, adding that the administration is fully geared up to tackle any situation. At a high-level meeting in Raj Niwas, Lt Governor Jagdish Mukhi reviewed the situation and relief operations.Though the Navy was pressed into action, operations could not begin due to tough weather conditions. Naval ships Bitra, Bangaram, Kumbhir and Light Craft Utility (LCU) 38 have been deployed for evacuation. The sudden evacuation mission was planned at the request of the Andaman and Nicobar disaster management, fearing a “cyclonic storm” at Havelock.“Ships are waiting outside the harbour. Adequate food, fresh water, medicines and doctors, besides divers and local administration personnel, are being ferried to provide relief,” said a navy official.The ships, which departed Port Blair at 0315 hours, will ferry the stranded tourists back to Port Blair.(Inputs from PTI)

Demonetization: Bengal govt asks VCs of state universities to skip video conference with Javadekar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Stepping up its attack on the Centre over demonetization, the West Bengal education department has asked Vice Chancellors of state universities not to attend the video conference with Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar on digital economy and cashless transaction.The Vice Chancellors were asked to participate in the video conference with the HRD minister, but state Education Minister Partho Chatterjee today said they would not be able to do so because of the present examination schedule of state universities. “They were asked to attend the video conference, but they won’t be able to attend the programme as exams are on in all state universities. The VCs are busy ensuring smooth functioning of examinations, so they can not attend it,” he told reporters outside the Assembly.On being asked whether it was a “boycott” of a Central government programme by the state, Chatterjee said, “No, it is not a boycott. The examinations are on and they are busy with it.” The development comes after the TMC government’s controversial ‘objection’ to the deployment of Army at toll plazas in the state. Earlier this week, Banerjee had instructed WBCS officers not to act on any directive by the Central government without asking the state government.The video conference was announced following the UGC’s directive asking all universities and colleges across the country to launch a month-long campaign to create awareness about cashless transaction. According to TMC sources, the decision to give the video conference a miss was taken keeping in mind Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s continued protest against Centre’s demonetization drive.

Despite note ban, Kerala liquor baron hosts lavish wedding for daughter

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Sunday, Thiruvananthapuram played host to one of the most lavish weddings the state has ever seen. People compared it to the recent Rs 500 crore wedding of Karnataka Minister Gali Janardhan Reddy’s daughter, and not just for the amount of expenditure involved.Prominent Kerala liquor baron and politician, Dr Biju Ramesh, hosted his daughter Megha’s wedding. Her groom was none other than Ajaykrishnan, the son of Congress MLA Konni and former State Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash. The reason the wedding turned so many heads however, is thanks to early reports that the reception would feature replicas of the Mysore Palace and Akshardham temple at the venue.In an interview to The News Minute, Ramesh explained that the extravagant idea was actually a friend’s. “A replica of the Mysore palace will greet around 20,000 guests as they enter the wedding venue. Walking in through its gates, they enter the lobby area where they would be greeted, and then they move towards the stage which has been set up on the lines of the Akshardham temple,” he said.Aside from the decor, the wedding party was also being entertained by well-known playback singer Shweta Mohan, with a 80,000-square-foot wedding pandal to be the guests’ playground. All of this despite the fact that the Income Tax Department is already investigating Janardhan Reddy for the lavish wedding party he threw, though that doesn’t seem to deter Ramesh. When asked how he was paying for the entire affair in the current state of demonetization, no straightforward answers were forthcoming.It is important to note that Ramesh was a whistleblower in the UDF bar bribery scam. Prakash himself has been in headlines for allegedly demanding Rs 25 lakh bribe, to sanction a ration depot at Omasseri in Kozhikode, while in office.

Political bigwigs to attend marriage of Nitin Gadkari’s daughter

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The who’s who of politics, including BJP chief Amit Shah, Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Prakash Javadekar and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray are expected to attend the marriage ceremony of Nitin Gadkari’s daughter in Nagpur on Sunday.Gadkari’s daughter Ketki, youngest of his three children, will tie the knot with Aditya Kaskhedikar, who works with Facebook in the US. According to sources, BJP president Amit Shah will come to Nagpur tonight from Delhi and return after the wedding. Apart from Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister of State for Power, Coal Piyush Goyal and some other BJP national leaders are also likely to be present on the occasion.Maharastra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, his counterparts from neighbouring states- Raman Singh (Chhattisgarh), Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Madhya Pradesh), yoga guru Baba Ramdev and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray are also expected to be in attendance. As the Winter session of Maharashtra Legislature is beginning from December 5, a number of ministers from the state have planned to attend the ceremony.Sources said Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao and Assam Governor Banwarilal Purohit have expressed their inability to be present at the event, but said they would attend the reception to be held on December 8 in New Delhi. Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari, who belongs to Nagpur, has two sons- Nikhil and Sarang.

Demonetization effect? After Maharashtra, BJP dominates in Gujarat municipal elections

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> In a shot in the arm for BJP after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetization move and ahead of Gujarat elections next year, the party swept local bodies elections by capturing 107 seats out of total 123 seats which went for polls in different parts of the state. Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani hailed the victory as people’s endorsement of Modi’s two recent steps – surgical strikes across the LoC and demonetization.The party won in two municipalities and one taluka panchayat along with majority seats of various other local bodies on which voting was held on Sunday. The result were declared today.BJP captured 107 out of total 123 seats which went for polls in different parts of the state. Putting a dismal performance ahead of the Assembly polls due next year, the Congress managed to capture only 16 seats in this election. As per the final result declared by the Gujarat State Election Commission, BJP has registered victory in Vapi municipality of Valsad district by capturing 41 out of total 44 seats. Only three seats went to Congress. Vapi municipality was earlier held by BJP.Similarly, BJP made a near clean sweep in the polls to Kanakpur-Kansad municipality of Surat, where it captured 27 out of 28 seats, leaving only one to Congress. It was also held by BJP earlier. In Rajkot, BJP snatched Gondal taluka panchayat, which went for mid-term poll, from Congress by winning 18 out of total 22 seats. Congress settled for only four. Earlier, Congress was ruling Gondal taluka panchayat. The results of the local bodies elections assume significance for the BJP in the run up to the state polls next year, and that they were held just after the demonetization of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes by the Centre.Apart from these three elections, Gujarat SEC conducted by-elections on 29 seats of various municipalities, taluka panchayats and district panchayats across the state.The bypolls were necessitated as these seats fell vacant due to various reasons.Out of total 16 seats of different municipalities, BJP bagged 14 while Congress has to settle for only two. Out of the total four seats of district panchayats, both the parties bagged two each. In the taluka panchayat by-polls, BJP won on five out of total nine while Congress captured four seats.Congratulating the state party unit, Prime Minister Modi also thanked the people of Gujarat for showing faith in the party. ‘Congratulations to @BJP4Gujarat Karyakartas, CM @vijayrupanibjp & @jitu_vaghani for their hardwork work across the state. Over the last few days we have seen the results of various polls, Parliamentary, Assembly & local polls across India. Be it the Northeast, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat…BJP has performed very well. I thank the people,’ he said in a series of tweets.Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani hailed the victory as people’s endorsement to Modi’s two recent steps – surgical strikes across the LoC and demonetization. “This is truly a grand success of BJP, as elections took place in different parts of state representing people from different communities. Thus, we can say that every section of society accepted BJP,” said Rupani. “BJP’s victory in Gujarat can be seen as people’s endorsement to Modi’s two recent steps – surgical strike across LoC and the demonetization move to wipe out black money from the system,” he said.BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya said that this is a vote for demonetization decision of the BJP and negative approach of the Congress to oppose the anti-black money move.Gujarat Congress conceded its defeat and vowed to work hard for the people. The opposition party also downplayed BJP’s victory, claiming that people’s mood can’t be judged from such local body polls.”We accept our defeat. But, BJP must not forget that it was only bypoll on some seats. Results of these polls cannot be taken as the litmus test of people’s mood. We will introspect on these results. We will continue to raise issues concerning people,” Gujarat Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has said that the verdict of the local polls in Maharashtra is a clear indication of the fact that the nation would not tolerate those opposing the government’s demonetization drive.BJP leader S. Prakash highlighted the government’s commitment towards eradicating the black money menace.‘One last opportunity has been given to all defaulters… The government’s commitment towards eradicating black money is very strong and they are taking every step to get rid of the black money menace,’ Prakash told ANI.The BJP has followed up its success in the Maharashtra civic elections with a sweep of by-elections to local bodies in Gujarat.In Maharashtra, the BJP made big gains in the first phase of key civic elections winning 851 of 3,705 seats across 147 municipal councils and 17 panchayats. In tune with the same, the BJP today won 109 of 126 municipal and district panchayat seats in 16 districts of Gujarat to which by-elections were held.Meanwhile, Prakash also lashed out at the Congress and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for their outburst against the Centre post demonetization.‘The Congress is hell-bent upon derailing economic reforms in India, they want status quo, they do not want to change anything, they are not fighting for the poor and middle class. They are fighting for the capitalists and they are fighting to save their black money,’ Prakash said.‘They should take a lesion from this. The people are with the scheme, but the opposition is against the scheme and this is not good for these parties,’ he added.Continuing his tirade against the TMC supremo, Prakash said that she is not authorized to appoint the Prime Minister but the decision rests with the people of India.‘Mamata runs only 100 to 200 constituencies in West Bengal. She does not rule this country, she does not command any support in pan India’ Even during the parliament elections, many had claimed if Narendra Modi wins I will go out of India, I will quit politics but so for none of them kept of their promise,’ he added in a sarcastic tone.

SYL verdict: Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh resigns from Lok Sabha

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh has resigned from the Lok Sabha after meeting Speaker on Wednesday. Following the Supreme Court verdict in the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal row wherein it declared the legislation passed by the Punjab Government as ‘null and void’, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president Captain Amarinder Singh had decided to resign as MP in protest of the apex court ruling.In a big setback for Prakash Singh Badal-led Punjab Government, the apex court earlier in the day quashed its legislation involving water issue with neighbouring state Haryana. The top court termed the Punjab Termination of Agreement Act, 2004, as invalid. The controversy is on sharing of waters by states, including Punjab and Haryana.

Rail crash toll hits 146, survivor search called off | Reuters

By Jitendra Prakash and Rupam Jain

PUKHRAYAN, India/NEW DELHI Rescuers on Monday called off a search of the mangled carriages of a derailed train after pulling more bodies from the wreckage, taking to at least 146 the number of passengers killed in the disaster.Sunday’s derailment in Uttar Pradesh was India’s deadliest train tragedy since 2010 and has renewed concern about poor safety on the state-run network. A lifeline for millions, the railways suffer from chronic underinvestment, which has left it with ageing tracks and outdated rolling stock.Rescue teams worked through the night with cranes and cutters to disentangle the train before police halted the search of the 14 carriages that derailed in the early hours while most passengers slept.”The rescue operations are over. We don’t expect to find any more bodies,” said Zaki Ahmed, the police inspector general in the city of Kanpur, about 65 km (40 miles) from Pukhrayan, the crash site. All of the carriages, some crumpled beyond recognition, have since been removed from the tracks. The crash came during India’s busy wedding season and media said blood-stained bags of saris and wedding cards carried by at least one wedding party on board were scattered beside the wreckage. The derailment injured close to 200 people, scores of them seriously, officials said. After the tragedy, relatives thronged hospitals in a search for survivors.

A railways spokesman said the train carried 1,000 people travelling on reservations, but 700 more were estimated to have squeezed into the unreserved carriages. AGEING BADLY
The largely colonial-era railway system, the world’s fourth largest, carries a saturation-level total of about 23 million people daily. Ageing badly, its average speeds top just 50 kph (30 mph) and train accidents are common.

The crash is a stark reminder of the obstacles facing Prime Minister Narendra Modi in delivering on his promise to turn the railways into a more efficient, safer network befitting India’s economic power.Modi this year pledged record levels of investment and has announced a new high-speed line funded by Japan, but the main network has made little progress on upgrading tracks or signalling equipment.He has also shied away from raising the highly subsidised fares that leave the railways with next to nothing for investment. By some analysts’ estimates, they need 20 trillion rupees ($293.34 billion) of investment by 2020.

Modi held a political rally on Sunday about 210 km (130 miles) from the crash site in Uttar Pradesh, which heads to the polls early next year in an election his Bharatiya Janata Party is vying to win.Mayawati, the state’s former chief minister who uses only one name and is a Modi critic, said the government should have “invested in mending tracks instead of spending billions and trillions of rupees on bullet trains”, media reported.Junior railway minister Manoj Sinha said a fractured track might have caused the train to roll off the rails on its journey between Indore and Patna. The government has ordered an inquiry to determine the precise cause.Sunday’s crash is India’s worst rail tragedy since the collision of a passenger and a goods train in 2010, which the government blamed on sabotage by Maoist rebels.In 2005, a train was crushed by a rock and another plunged into a river, each disaster killing more than 100 people. In what was probably India’s worst rail disaster, a train fell into a river in the eastern state of Bihar of 1981, killing an estimated 500 to 800 people. (Reporting by Rupam Jain and Jitendra Prakash; Additional reporting by Krishna N. Das; Writing and additional reporting by Tommy Wilkes; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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

First Published On : Nov 21, 2016 20:53 IST

OROP suicide: Javedkar flays opposition for trying to ‘make capital’ of tragedy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union HRD Minister Prakash Javedkar on Friday said the opposition was desperate as they had no issue and wanted to “make capital” out of the tragedy of a ex-serviceman’s suicide.Replying to a specific question on the detention of Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi during protests over the suicide by army veteran Ram Kishan Grewal, Javedkar told reporters here: “everybody knows that Congress has denied OROP (One Rank-One Pension). Modi’s is the first government which gave Rs 6500 crore by which millions of ex-army men benefited.””Everybody knows that they (opposition) want to make capital out of the tragedy which they should not have done,” he said. “Clearly I can say that all anomalies are sorted out and there is no case (on OROP),” Javedkar added.Asked about higher education not being affordable to the common man, he said “education for all is our slogan and we are taking all states along with us to provide quality education.””Our belief and philosophy is quality education for all and the government takes care of accessibility, equity and affordability for providing education for all.”

Renewed retention policy in schools may not fix India’s dismal education system

The decision on whether or not to revoke the present ‘no detention’ policy in primary schools has now been left to the discretion of the states. At a Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) meeting on Tuesday, Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Prakash Javadekar told the media: “It was agreed that the Central government may bring in suitable amendments which will give states the freedom to review the ‘no detention policy.'”

Not rushing through yet another ill-considered policy reversal is indeed a good decision. Though it can be argued that against the overall dismal scenario in the education sector, the debate over the pass/fail system in primary schools seems to be somewhat hyped.

Examinations are, after all, just a small part of the larger and all-encompassing malaise destroying the fundamentals of the system as a whole. Amid this systemic failure – not just of public but also of private schools – the ongoing preoccupation with the contentious pass/fail system does seem lopsided.

The fundamentals of school education in India seem to be weaker than ever. ReutersThe fundamentals of school education in India seem to be weaker than ever. Reuters

The fundamentals of school education in India seem to be weaker than ever. Reuters

Consider the long list of calamities that has corroded the school education system at all levels. Of late, more and more examination scams have been unearthed, and poor learning outcomes – that have so worried serious educationists for long – have shown little or no sign of reversal.

The fundamentals of school education seem weaker than ever; a concern that should be taken as seriously as, for instance, the state of the economy. Yet, education – particularly primary education – has never been a heated subject of discussion on the national agenda, except of course, on occasions when it is politicised through textbooks and the likes. The cost of such continued negligence cannot be underestimated.

Like the rest of the world, India too is moving towards a knowledge-based economy. One of the basic requirements for closing the inequality gap within the society is to provide decent school education to every citizen. Those failing to meet this requirement are going to find themselves pushed out of the ambit of well-paying jobs. Something that is already happening on a large scale in the country.

The quality of primary school education forms the foundation on which future educational qualifications are built. The alarm bells are already ringing, alerting us to the poor quality of primary education – and they have been ringing for a very long time now.

But if the politicians have been too busy scoring electoral victories and engaging in slapstick politics, the official policymakers too have done what they are doing once again – tinkering with the system and talking about piecemeal reforms. This time around, the churn is about bringing back the pass/fail model.

Yet, many among the pedagogists working in the field of education have expressed serious reservations about reinstating the policy, which, as we well know, had traumatised students in the past; particularly the first generation learners from lower economic and social backgrounds.

If large numbers of students have been failing in higher classes, or are not able to match up to the basic standards even in lower classes, that is because of the distortions in the classroom environment. After all, many among the instructors are themselves ill-equipped to teach. Flawed teachers’ training (the eye of many scams), social indifference to the plight of school teachers, rampant use of ad hoc teachers in small towns and villages, etc. have all substantively contributed to a failing school system.

Rather than address these core issues, the entire focus seems to be veering to bring back the pass/fail model. No doubt, it’s a catchy slogan, already pitting stakeholders against each other.

But the discussion around school education hasn’t focussed on the fundamental concerns; issues that need to be addressed in a sustained manner. How will reinstating the pass/fail policy produce learners, when the entire system seems to be hollowing out?

Najeeb didn’t just vanish: Why are JNU authorities not showing any sense of urgency?

It is tempting to pillory Kanhaiya Kumar and the other four high profiles of his tribe namely Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya, Rama Naga, Anant Prakash and Ashutosh Kumar for being relatively insipid in their role to find Najeeb Ahmed the student who has disappeared from JNU. But the higher priority would be to ensure his safety and get him back from wherever he is.

Former JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar. PTIFormer JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar. PTI

Former JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar. PTI

While Najeeb’s sister is playing the dominant role in the search or at least the call for it and in between slogan shouting and a few sundry gheraos and protest marches there is a sluggish texture to the usually vociferous JNU crowd who made headlines earlier this year with their controversial seminar at the Press Club in New Delhi, the general slowness of the investigation is patently obvious.

There is also the needless rant from Shehla Rashid a former vice president of the JNU Students Union who asks Kanhaiya why nothing is being done by him?

In parts, like the curate’s egg, it is a good question. How much is being done by anybody to find a young man who was seen being beaten up by a mob of ABVP goons, then dragged to the vice chancellor’s office and roughed up again as no one intervened.

Where did he go from there? The odds that rubbernecking students did not hang around to see what would happen next are very low. So when Najeeb came out of the office did he walk to his room, run to the gate, get into a car, be kidnapped, where were all the brave souls that inhabit this especially green grove of academe? Teachers, students, security staff. Did his friends not help him out at the time of his distress? Simply demanding to put more pressure on the police hardly comes off as concerted action.

Who were these ABVP guys, they are not incognito, surely in this huge span of time their post-mob frenzy period should produce cast-iron alibis. Where did each of you go next?

Najeeb could not just have vanished into thin air. One would opt for the scenario that he has gone into hiding for fear of his life but then at least in this hi-tech age he would have communicated his whereabouts to his family and the sister’s stress factor does not indicate this. And that makes it worrying because he could be incapacitated.

Is there any specific reason why the police have not been able to follow the trail despite having 12 suspects in custody?

With ten days since the young man vanished the trail, so to speak, is cold as ice. One can only conclude that Najeeb is either in another city with friends and relatives and has sought refuge and has got in touch with his immediate family but pushed them into silence. If that does not work for you has he been abducted by more goons and, if so, from where…his room, from under a tree, the hospital or clinic if he went there to have his wounds dressed, it is just not possible to have others involved in the scenario and go missing without leaving some eyewitnesses behind.

After you have been thrashed you either go for comfort, refuge or medical assistance. You don’t walk off into the wilderness without anyone knowing.

Certainly, the macabre thought comes to mind that the silence is ominous and God forbid does not indicate a much worse development. Until there is a body this option must lie on the side of the table.

I don’t think most people care whether the student is Hindu, Muslim or zebra striped. He is missing and he has to be found. Letting this mystery stay unresolved is not acceptable and there seems to be a lid on the outrage.

I watched the former spearhead of the JNU Kanhaiya Kumar give a sort of limp wristed speech to a crowd of farmers where he has supposed to have made the first mention of the disappearance. Wrong crowd, not much zest.

Curiously, even the media seems to be dragging its feet on this one and with the second week nearly coming to a conclusion since Najeeb was last seen the story for lack of a feed is slipping off the pages.

It will be a cruel shame if the Najeeb saga has no ending.

Come on, people, somebody saw something, somebody knows what happened…time to end the agony.

HRD Minister assures expelled Ambedkar university students of action, orders inquiry

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In order to not repeat an incident like Rohith Vemula, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar has instituted an inquiry to look into the matter of rustication of eight Dalit students from Ambedkar university, Lucknow.On September 8, eight Dalit students were expelled by the Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University (BBAU) administration for allegedly attacking a teacher and vandalising his vehicle.The students on Wednesday met the HRD Minister in Delhi and made him aware of the situation. According to the students, the minister told them that he was instituting an inquiry into the matter and would make sure that the expelled students got justice.In the incident that took place in September, the teacher whom the students allegedly attacked had lodged an FIR against six Dalit students. A few days later, the expelled students lodged a counter FIR alleging that they were attacked by the teacher and his supporters, who made ‘casteist’ remarks. In the days following the incident, Dalit students across different educational institutions came out in support of the expelled BBAU students demanding justice.In a meeting held with Vice Chancellors of all Central Universities last month, the HRD Minister had made it clear that he did not want incidents like the Rohith Vemula case to be repeated on campuses and that no student should face injustice.Javadekar had also declared that the HRD ministry will ask all colleges universities to institute a grievance redressal cell which could look into such incidents. “We do not want any more suicides in the campus, the ministry is serious about this,” the minister had said after the meeting with VCs.

Bihar: KV suspends principal and transfers 14 teachers after Dalit student thrashed

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan suspended the principal of its school in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur and transferred the Vice Principal along with 14 teachers in connection with the incident of two students mercilessly beating their Dalit classmate whose video went viral on social media. The errant students were already suspended. HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar took to Twitter to announce that stern action has been taken against the accused students and school authorities.”Stern action has been taken against the accused students & school authorities in connection with the unfortunate violent incident. The ‘victim’ student will be provided admission in another #kv if he so desires & necessary medical help will also be provided to him,” he tweeted. The decision to suspend the principal and transfer the 15 staff members was taken by the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) after deliberating on the report of a panel that probed the incident.”KVS has taken strong action against the students involved in the incident. The duo have been suspended along with principal Rajiv Ranjan. 13 teachers and one assistant besides the Vice Principal have been transferred,” an official statement said.The decision has been taken on basis of recommendations of the probe panel which concluded the school administration had tried to cover up the incident.”Also, the video reflects that this was not a sudden incident but was well planned and was deliberately shot to create fear among students,” KVS said.The incident came to light when video of two sons of a murder accused mercilessly beating their Dalit classmate went viral on social media.The purported video of the incident shows the two brothers — one of them a student of class XII and the other of class XI — pushing and thrashing the victim in presence of some other schoolmates on September 25.The maternal grandfather of the victim, a class XII student, lodged an FIR with SC and ST police station in Muzaffarpur on Monday.In the FIR he also claimed the entire family was terrified because the father of the two brothers is a notorious criminal lodged in jail outside the district in a murder case.Though the incident took place on September 25, the school principal has been accused of not acting promptly on the victim’s complaint.The victim student, fearing threat to his life, has gone into hiding. It was only after the video of the incident went viral, including on Facebook and Twitter, that the principal filed a written complaint, following which the police lodged an FIR. The two students have been sent to a remand home even as police have assured security to the family of the victim.

Bhubaneswar fire: Odisha govt orders probe; cause can be ascertained after inquiry, say hospital authority

Oct 18, 2016


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A day after a major fire at a hospital in Bhubaneswar claimed 22 lives, ravaged areas of the medical facility were sealed on Tuesday ahead of a thorough probe as the state government geared up to ensure proper treatment of patients shifted elsewhere.

Health Secretary Arti Ahuja, who visited the private hospital this morning, said the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), dialysis and emergency units of the fire-hit medical facility have been sealed to ensure a proper investigation.

As many as 106 persons, who were shifted from SUM Hospital following the blaze, are now undergoing treatment at different hospitals in the city, she said. Some patients have also been shifted to SCB Medical College and Hospital at Cuttack.

Bhubaneswar: Rescue work underway at the Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital in Bhubaneshwar. PTI

Bhubaneswar: Rescue work underway at the Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital in Bhubaneshwar. PTI

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik visited some of the hospitals including AIIMS and AMRI Hospital to enquire about the condition of the patients from SUM Hospital undergoing treatment there.

State’s Health Minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak said the priority was to provide proper treatment to the patients from the fire-hit hospital who have been shifted to other medical facilities.

At the same time, steps are being initiated to conduct a thorough investigation into the fire that broke out last night, he said.

The state government has already ordered a high-level probe by the Director, Medical Education and Training, into the incident. In addition, a probe by the revenue divisional commissioner (RDC) has also been ordered, an official said.

Soon after the incident, the health minister had said last night that stringent action would be taken if the hospital authorities were found guilty of negligence.

While 22 persons died, several others were injured in the incident that broke out at a dialysis unit of the private hospital, in one of the worst such incidents involving a medical facility in Odisha.

So far, 20 of the deceased have been identified and their bodies handed over to their families for cremation, an official said.

Most of the victims were from the ICU of the SUM Hospital who were on ventilator support. Most of the deaths took place due to suffocation, he said.

The chief minister has directed the government hospitals to provide necessary treatment to patients shifted from SUM Hospital and requested all private hospitals to extend treatment to patients from ill-fated medical facility.

The blaze was suspected to have been triggered by an electric short-circuit in the dialysis ward on the first floor of the private hospital which spread to the nearby ICU. The fire rapidly spread to other areas including the ICU on the same floor of the four-storeyed hospital building.

At least seven fire tenders took around three hours to control the blaze and over a dozen ambulances deployed to shift the critical patients to other hospitals.

With inputs from PTI

Why Rahul Gandhi should dump Bengaluru steel flyover project and save Congress

Dear Rahul Gandhi,

Six years and 23 days ago, 21 September 2010, the foot bridge at Commonwealth Games village collapsed. A total of 23 innocent people were injured and but the bigger blow was dealt to the Congress Party, which is yet to recover from that collapse. It was later marked as the ‘beginning of the end’.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi. PTICongress vice president Rahul Gandhi. PTI

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi. PTI

Fast forward to 2016. Congress party has no large state left where it governs other than Karnataka. We are it.

No other place to showcase good governance. No other place to win the trust of people. This is it.

Unlike many other states, Karnataka is blessed with a healthy balance sheet, high economic growth, a large number of taxpayers, not to mention the moniker ‘Silicon Valley’ of India that not only delivered IT gold for the country but is home to the most exciting startups that will propel future growth of our economy.

Karnataka is a pioneer in introducing the third tier of governance. Local bodies were empowered and the decentralisation helped make things better. Not anymore. The mayor is a figurehead and the corporators are mostly contractors with garbage trucks or water tanks. Unlike other states, Congress party rules both the state and city. And yet, we are a study in how not to run a world class city. Our corporation is nearly bankrupt and the MLAs and ministers cannot let go of the cash cow called Bengaluru.

Bengaluru has given so much to our country. Bengaluru is crumbling under its own weight. The lack of political will is killing it. The utter lack of imagination, reckless attitude of the state government in tackling urban challenges sends a clear signal to the voters and taxpayers. The massive influx of population that brought jobs and prosperity also led to a complete collapse of civic infrastructure. There is no water, potholes free roads are a rarity and we’ve been busy changing our nameplates from ‘garden’ city to ‘garbage’ city and we are now on the verge of calling ourselves ‘Steel’ city for no good reason, unlike Jamshedpur.

The government decided to put its might behind a mega project called ‘Steel Flyover’ instead of any number of things that actually make a difference to ordinary citizens.

The single biggest issue in Bengaluru is traffic. No one disagrees with this. You should talk to your friends in Bengaluru, ones without any police convoy, and find out first hand. The traffic congestion not only affects livelihood, we are also asthma and allergy capital of India, pollution levels peaking as 1,000 new vehicles get registered every single day. Nearly 50 lakh people use the BMTC, our government owned city bus service. Our bus fares are THE HIGHEST in the country. The city grew by leaps and bounds but the bus fleet went from 2,000 to 6,000 in the last 20 years.

Also Read

Bengaluru’s steel bridge: Should IT hub say no to development at the cost of tree cover?

Call your MLA: Activists find innovative ways to oppose steel flyover in Bengaluru

Bengaluru’s proposed steel flyover a ‘disaster’ in making, say experts

We have an amazing rail network within the city 120 km long with 12 stations. Suburban train – we call that ‘namma railu’ can work wonder with a fraction of the cost by leveraging this hidden gem. Yet, this project has been dormant for years stuck between various departments between state and center.

Airport needs better connectivity, yes. But this steel flyover is certainly not the solution for anyone other than VIPs. Experts opined that without throwing away Rs 1,800 crore, the same route can be made faster by improving bottlenecks achieving the same result as the flyover.

All is not lost. One of the biggest strengths of Bengaluru is the active presence of a large number of civic activists and peer-recognized experts in urban planning and governance such as Naresh Narasimhan, Ashwin Mahesh, Satya Prakash Varanashi, S Vishwanath, Prakash Belawadi and several others. They are successful in their careers related to urban planning and design, and equally passionate about Bengaluru. Yet, there is no meaningful public consultation where they could have shared their opinion on such critical matters of public interest. The MPC was totally side stepped and even the vision group that GoK itself set up was not consulted on this matter, leading us to wonder why there is so much secrecy and urgency on this particular project!

Unless you act now, to stop such ill-conceived ideas that put a blot on your lone big state and focus on governance and deliver visible results, you will not be in a position to seek votes, especially from Bengaluru city, that is going to send a whopping 28 MLAs to our Vidhana Soudha come May 2018.

If the Congress party fails to listen to the overwhelming voice of Bengaluru voters, the VIP steel flyover saga may well turn out to be the end of the end.

The author is a member of the Citizens Against Steel Flyover, Bengaluru.

HRD to take Niti Ayog’s approval before finalising New Education Policy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister, Prakash Javadekar told DNA, that the Ministry is going to take approval from Niti Ayog, before bringing out the final draft of the New Education Policy.Javadekar added that he will be holding a workshop with all the Members of Parliament cutting across party lines to discuss the suggestions. “We will hold a workshop of all the MPs on November 10 to discuss education related issues and suggestions received. I welcome everyone who has an expertise in the field,” said Javadekar.The idea of holding a workshop with the MPs was originally suggested by Jairam Ramesh during the last discussion on Education Policy, which lasted for about three hours. It was suggested that since everyone has a lot to contribute in the issue, the duration of discussion should be longer.The Ministry is also in touch with Niti Ayog for discussions on the policy. “We are in touch with Niti Ayog and will take a final decision on the education policy only after analysing all the aspects,” Javadekar added.The New Education Policy, which is aimed at bringing changes in the structure of education in the country from primary to higher education was initiated in the tenure of the previous HRD Minister, Smriti Irani. It however, came under controversy after a number of suggestions made by RSS’s education unit were found to be regressive by educationists. Javadekar, after assuming the charge of Education Minister started a discussion on the policy once again by inviting suggestions from various political parties and educationists.The last date of submitting the suggestions was September 30. The Ministry will now go through all the suggestions and a committee headed by educationists will take a final call on it.Further, talking about his engagements with teachers and students, Javadekar said that the dialogue will go on in future as well and he will continue to review various educational institutions from primary level to higher level education. The Minister has visited 17 states and various technical and non-technical education institutes and has held review meets with them in his tenure as an HRD Minister in the last three months.

HRD minister Javadekar greets Jamia Milia girls amid discontent, tries to bond over women empowerment

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even as the Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar chose Jamia Milia Islamia University as the first Central university that he visited after assuming the charge, he was welcomed there amidst discontent, among girl students.Though the minister who visited the institute on Wednesday to inaugurate a newly-built girl’s hostel in the university tried to strike a chord with the students by talking about women empowerment and praising the efforts of girl students, it did not seem to work with many.”In older days, it was very difficult for women to study, when the university was founded in the year 1920, it would have been unimaginable for women to study, but today we are creating a safe and secure environment for women from all over the country to come and study. When you educate a woman, you educate an entire family. All this is women empowerment,” Javadekar said while addressing students in the university campus.One of the students who attended the event said on condition of anonymity: “We were really disappointed about what he said about women empowerment. The way he put out his ideas about women empowerment, it felt like 10 years ago.”Women students of Jamia had earlier written an open letter to the administration expressing their unwillingness to welcome the minister, who, according to them, belongs to a political ideology that does not respect women. The students had also planned a protest in the university, to express their discontent about the minister’s visit. They were however issued strict instructions by the administration to let the event go peacefully.One of the students who wrote the open letter said: “In places like Jamia you are constantly under scrutiny and hence we could not say anything in public. The open letter that we wrote was also a way of expressing our side of the issue.”Javadekar also spoke about providing more opportunities to students from Kashmir by giving them more scholarships. A large part of his speech was about the Prime Minister’s education schemes. The former HRD Minister Smriti Irani has also faced the ire of students during one of her visits to university.

Autonomy for good institutions, heavy regulation for non-performing ones: Javadekar’s stick-and-carrot policy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Centre is planning to give autonomy to “good” universities and make them ‘innovation hubs’ while impose heavy regulation on “non-performing” institutes, Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Monday. “Universities that encourage innovation would be given support by the Centre. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aim is to have innovation hubs across the country,” he said here. “We will support good universities by giving autonomy and reduce regulation, while universities that are not performing well would be heavily regulated. The government would, however, extend support to upgrade those,” Javadekar said.He was speaking after launching ‘OceanNet’, developed by Amrita University, that enables connectivity to fishermen in the sea. It was inaugurated on the eve of the 63th birthday celebrations of spiritual leader Mata Amritanandamayi at Amirtapuri near here. Asserting that the country can make progress only through innovation, Javadekar said the Centre could come up with plans of partnerships between universities and industries to encourage innovations.Praising ‘OceanNet’, the Union HRD minister said, “It is my duty and responsibility to support this type of ventures.” The communication system would provide a permanent solution to several issues faced by fishermen at sea. It would also help them and the Coast Guard to thwart any attempt by terrorist to sneak into the country through sea, he said.Highlighting the need to improve quality of education, Javadekar sought co-operation of all for the purpose, saying, “Education has no political agenda. It is a national agenda and not that of Left or Right.”

Govt to conduct learning outcome assessment in schools: Prakash Javadekar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>To improve quality of education in schools, the Central government will conduct student learning outcome assessment in various schools every year, Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Sunday. “We have a mission in our mind that is to improve the quality of education. Therefore, learning outcome becomes important. There are several assessment reports before us…Now, the government will also conduct assessment every year of mathematical, language, reading and writing abilities of students in various schools,” the minister said. He was delivering the Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Memorial Lecture at Vedavyasa Vidyalayam Senior Secondary School here.The minister said in the learning outcome assessment, the government would assess every three per cent of the students studying in zilla parishad and municipal schools and schools run by organisations like Vidya Bharti, church besides private ones and those run by educational societies. “We will assess every year three per cent of students and will give a correct picture of quality of education being imparted in our primary schools,” he said.Javadekar said India has achieved expansion of education and now there is a need to improve the quality of education. In this endeavour, he said, teachers will have to play a key role. “The ultimate objective of education is to bring about in us a good human being,” he said.Earlier, he presented prizes to the winners of all Kerala Quiz competition 2016 conducted by Vedavyasa Vidyalayam Senior Secondary School. Noting that the theme of the quiz was ‘Indian Culture’, Javadekar said “our strength is that our culture is based on the rich ethos of unity in diversity.”

Ambedkar brothers are ‘gundas’, want to grab land: Ratnakar Gaikwad to Firstpost

The demolition of Dadar’s historic Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Bhavan in the early hours of Saturday morning has turned into a major controversy over the past four days. Former IAS officer and state information commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad — who is also an advisor to the People’s Improvement Trust (PIT) — has alleged that the Ambedkar’s grandsons are known for their ‘gundagiri’. Here is the interview he gave Firstpost:

Why was the historic Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Bhavan demolished so late at night?
Gaikwad: The society was founded by Dr Ambedkar. The trust said that the building was dilapidated and that the civic body had given an eviction notice before the demolition took place. It is a 72-year-old dilapidated structure. The timing is not important. It was an old dilapidated structure. On that night, a portion of the structure had collapsed after which it was decided to demolished it in the early hours to avoid any incident. The building was dilapidated and the civic body had given an eviction notice before the demolition took place.

File image of Ratnakar Gaikwad

File image of Ratnakar Gaikwad. Image procured from MMRDA by Sanjay Sawant

After the demolition of the dilapidated structure, what will be built on this land?
Gaikwad: Ambedkar Bhavan has been demolished as it had become dilapidated and the BMC had given notice to the trust under section 354. The construction of a new and grand 17-floor building will begin soon. This will be the central headquarters for weaker sections of society, as desired by Dr Ambedkar. Most of the funding is from the government. The BMC has approved plans for a new building recently. The chief minister performed the bhoomipujan on 14 April and called upon the trust to complete construction within two years.

Why are you apposing Dr Ambedkar’s grandson in the PIT Trust?
Gaikwad: Dr Ambedkar was always clear in his mind that his family members could not interred in the property or trust belonging to him. The members of the Ambedkar family were debarred from the trust long ago. According to a 1957 letter, Dr Ambedkar himself wrote to his son Yashwant, ousting him from the trust. He had made it clear that the printing press was public property. So I am doing my job as an advisor to fulfil his wish. They (the grandsons, Prakash, Anandraj and Bhimrao) want to usurp the property and are opposing the development that was Dr Ambedkar’s dream.

What is Dr Ambedkar’s grandson’s interest in the building?
Gaikwad: Dr Ambedkar had taken the plot at Dadar for the central headquarters of the anti-caste movement and not for a printing press. The printing press was in another area and due to some tension there, it was shifted to the Dadar plot. We want to fulfil his dream.

You alleged that the three brothers Prakash, Anandraj and Bhimrao want separate floors for themselves in the new 17-storey building. Could you elaborate on that?
Gaikwad: The PIT, a 17-storey structure with multi-level parking and other facilities will be constructed at the site at the cost of Rs 60 crore. The main opposition to the demolition of the dilapidated building came from Prakash Ambedkar. He wants to be the trustee of the trust and his brothers Anandraj and Bhimrao want separate floors for each of themselves.

The allegation against you is that you have destroyed the legacy of Dr Ambedkar. Would you like to comment?
Gaikwad: I have not destroyed the legacy of the great Dr Ambedkar, but his own grandsons do not deserve it. The Ambedkar brothers (Prakash, Anandraj) are known for ‘gundagiri’. I want to fulfil the wish of Dr Ambedkar that none of his family members would be entitled to the trust. They want to grab the land and I will not tolerate this.

What about the fact that your name appeared on an FIR at Bhoiwada police station for demolishing Ambedkar Bhavan?
Gaikwad: Let them (the Ambedkar brothers) do what they want to do. I am not selfish like them and not scared of them. I am loyal to Ambedkar thoughts and philosophy. The law will take action if I did wrong. I know that they are putting pressure on people to arrange this agitation against me. I have full faith in the police and judiciary.

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.

Mumbai: Dr Ambedkar’s office demolished, grandson mulls legal option

The iconic office of Dr Ambedkar in Dadar, Mumbai is in the midst of an ugly possession fight between People’s Improvement Trust and Prakash Ambedkar. According to The Indian Express, BR Ambedkar’s grandson Prakash is unhappy that the structure has been demolished against his consent. It was demolished on Saturday, and Prakash Ambedkar has decided to file an FIR against members of the People’s Improvement Trust. He was quoted by Indian Express as saying, “It is very unfortunate as the government and a section within the Trust have hurt our sentiments. They are trying to commercialise the place in the name of building a grand Ambedkar Bhawan” <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However the trust has flatly denied the allegation saying that the house is being redeveloped as a 17-storeyed building and their work will continue. It will also have an office space for Prakash Ambedkar. According to the trust, the decision to redevelop the building was taken after a BMC notice that the building was unsafe. They claim to have government’s sanction in the entire redevelopment process. Prakash Ambedkar though claims that he has inherited the house from BR Ambedkar, and is willing to launch a legal challenge. He is against the ‘commercialisation’ of the office, saying that the building which has stood the test of the time since 1930 and was in forefront of the Dalit movement launched by ‘Father of the Constitution’ should remain as it is. BMC, meanwhile have distanced itself from the entire controversy saying they were not aware of the demolition and haven’t employed any officials for it.

Ban on big diesel cars, SUVs not the right way: Prakash Javadekar

Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on Wednesday said the ban on diesel cars and SUVs with engines above 2,000cc in Delhi-NCR by courts “is not the right way”.Calling it “unfortunate”, he said the government is already taking measures to curb pollution and the ban has resulted in vehicles with latest technologies not being allowed while old polluting vehicles continue plying on the roads.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I am very sure that courts will also appreciate that there has to be a certainty of policy and execution. Policy and execution are the job of the executive, legality of any decision is the job of the judiciary,” Javadekar said.He further said: “Legislature’s job is to legislate and these are the few organs, which are created by the constitution, which must work independently. We must sustain each other and we must work independently that is the real need of the hour. When all will move in one direction, we will achieve goals more than what we have planned to achieve.”Commenting on the ban imposed on registration of big diesel cars and SUVs in Delhi-NCR since December last year, the minister did not refer to the Supreme Court by name but just mentioned courts and the NGT.”I think that this is not the right way, it’s unfortunate …court also needs to appreciate that because you are banning the latest vehicles and old vehicles are plying on the roads that are more polluting,” he said.Javadekar was apparently referring to the Supreme Court, which has extended the ban until the next hearing which is expected in July. Air pollution has not increased only in last two years. It has aggravated over the last ten years, he added.”Judiciary now should also appreciate that the government has taken steps…(like) migration to Euro VI to fight pollution,” the minister added.He further said: “In the environment ministry we have made emission norms more stringent practically for all industries and that’s the right direction in controlling pollution. So we are taking decisions we are making all efforts.”Javadekar was speaking at the inauguration of a new Rs 100-crore plant of Force Motors from where the company will supply engines and axles to Mercedes-Benz India.

Eknath Khadse attends BJP’s state-level executive meet in Pune

Former Maharashtra minister Eknath Khadse on Saturday arrived at BJP’s two-day state-level executive meet here, putting an end to speculations that he may not attend the event in the wake of his resignation from the cabinet after a host of allegations including irregularities in a land deal. The 64-year-old BJP leader arrived at Bal Gandharv auditorium, the venue of the meet at around 9.30 AM today.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP’s state-level unit members, MLAs and MPs from the state besides ministers are participating in the meet, where union ministers-M Venkaiah Naidu, Piyush Goyal, Prakash Javadekar along with Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadanavis, state BJP president Raosaheb Danve will address the inauguration ceremony.Considered “number two” in the Cabinet handling some vital portfolios, Khadse resigned on June 4 after facing heat over a series of allegations including irregularities in a land deal in Pune and calls allegedly received from mob boss Dawood Ibrahim’s residence in Karachi on his mobile phone besides the alleged bribe sought by his “PA”.He found himself in a spot over the purchase of a three-acre Maharashtra Industrial Development Corp land here allegedly at a low price of around Rs 3.75 crore from its original owner in the name of his wife and son-in-law. The market value of the land is reportedly Rs 40 crore.

Delay in Ken-Betwa project: Uma Bharti threatens to go on fast

Terming the delay in clearance to the ambitious Ken-Betwa river-linking project by some independent environmentalists a “national crime”, Union Minister Uma Bharti on Tuesday threatened to go on hunger strike if work on it gets further prolonged. Work on the project, first effort of connecting two inter-state rivers–Ken in Madhya Pradesh and Betwwa in UP– to quench parched pocket of Bundelkhand (UP), was expected to take off from December last year, however, has been delayed for want of wildlife clearances. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I consider causing delay to the project as national crime. I am not saying it’s a treason, but it indeed is a national crime. Because you are denying livelihood for 70 lakh people,” Bharti told reporters here. The Union Minister said it agitates her that “those sitting in air condition chambers” in Delhi are objecting to the project even as those, who are going to be affected by it are welcoming it as it will benefit 70 lakh people. Calling herself “the biggest environmentalist”, Bharti asked how can her intentions be doubted when she pitches for initiating work on the project and accused environmentalists of an expert committee under Ministry of Environment and Forest, who are looking into the issue of clearance for the project. Bharti hastened to add that she has “no difference with the Environment Ministry or its Minister Prakash Javadekar” but with private enviromentalists, who are members in the committee. “If the project is delayed further at the next expert committee meeting, I will personally go on hunger strike. It is a matter of 70 lakh people. We will not sit before the Environment Minister as he is with us,” Bharti said, voicing her frustration over the delay. She also accused the environmentalists of forcing people of the region to live in miserable conditions.

Will create urban forests in 200 cities to increase green cover, says Javadekar

Mumbai: Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on Sunday said that urban forestry will be the new thrust area of the government and steps will be taken to create “urban jungles (forests)” across 200 cities and towns across the country.

Union Minister Prakash Javadekar. Reuters

Union Minister Prakash Javadekar. Reuters

“We will be taking up massive tree plantation drive in as many as 200 cities and towns across the country,” he said at a commemorative function organized at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Borivali here.

The environment ministry will launch the “Urban Forestry Scheme” in Pune, where 6,000 saplings will be planted to create an urban jungle on about 80 acres of land, said an official release.

The minister also released a pamphlet “Living With Leopards” containing practical ways to reduce man-animal conflict in the vicinity of Sanjay Gandhi National Park Area.

Noting that in most cities there are gardens and parks but no forests, he said: “There are many cities where the forest department has its land but there are no forests on it or are degraded. In these places through people’s participation, we will establish urban forestry.”

He said the government has also initiated proactive measures for protection of wildlife and ‘shoot at sight’ orders given to armed guards at the Kaziranga National Park in Assam had resulted in the death of 24 poachers.

He appealed to the people not to buy any product made from wild animal body parts. “If there is no market for the products, poaching will end automatically,” he contended.

UP elections 2017: This low-profile team is working with Amit Shah to lay ground for BJP

Low profile, methodical and adept micro-managers, they are travelling across the booths of Uttar Pradesh, keeping the BJP cadre on their toes. Three key RSS full timers–Shiv Prakash, Sunil Bansal and Om Mathur– and a team of around half a dozen pracharaks in-charge of organisation in the state’s six kshetras, are working silently behind the scenes closely involved in various aspects of electioneering. With their doors open for all from top leaders to workers, acceptable across the party and staunchly disciplined, they are working in tandem with BJP chief Amit Shah, whose focus has now shifted entirely to UP, in the run-up to the high-stake battle of 2017.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>This time, the party is trying to get on the campaign trail more youth, particularly from the ABVP, the students wing of the Sangh, and ensure that the central theme projected is development and not contentious issues like Ramjanmabhoomi, sources said.The RSS men ‘loaned’ to the party are involved in planning, giving shape to programmes and guiding the cadre. A party leader said given that they have no personal political ambitions, they maintain an objective approach detached from any differences within the organisation. Their shift from the Sangh to organisational roles in the party does not alter this approach, the leader said.Shiv Prakash, the invisible national joint general secretary (organisation) is known for his micro-level management. He is seen to have played a significant role in western Uttar Pradesh in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, when the BJP swept the state winning 72 of the 80 seats. A party leader familiar with his way of functioning in the recent West Bengal elections, recalled how Shiv Prakash would travel down to a Mandal or booth level and sit down with the workers there.Sunil Bansal, the 47-year-old BJP’s state unit general secretary in-charge of organisation, was brought from Rajasthan to the war room in Lucknow by Shah, who was then UP in-charge, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. A pracharak deputed to the ABVP, he is known for his aggressive political campaign. According to sources, Bansal is also guiding the party’s new state unit chief Keshav Prasad Maurya, who is also 47 and from the Sangh background.Om Mathur, 64, party’s national vice president in-charge of Uttar Pradesh who was associated with the RSS since 1972, is now more involved in party strategy. He had worked closely with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the BJP’s Gujarat in-charge. He was given charge of Maharashtra elections. The leader from Rajasthan has filed his nomination for the June 11 biennial elections of Rajya Sabha from the state.Besides, the sanghathan mantris (organising secretaries) assigned to six kshetras in the state are working in close coordination with the kshetra party presidents. The organising secretaries are Bhavani Singh (Brij), Shivkumar Pathak (Gorakhpur), Brij Bahadur (Awadh), Ratnakar (Kashi), Om Prakash (Kanpur Bundelkhand) and Chandrasekhar (Paschim).

Karnataka police protest: Two association leaders arrested, DG says no one applied for leave

Director General and Inspector General of Police (DG & IGP) Om Prakash on Thursday said that two people were arrested for making an attempt to instigate policemen to go on mass leave on June 4. Om Prakash said the two persons had used social media to instigate policemen to go on leave en masse in support of their demands.Speaking with media persons at a hurriedly convened press conference, Om Prakash said that leaders Shashidhar Venugopal at Yelahanka in Bengaluru and Basavaraj in Hubli were arrested for trying to create unrest among the policemen who are known for discipline. “For the last one week, some outside elements and rowdy elements have been trying to create unrest among the policemen but in vain. I am happy to inform you that no one has applied for leave. A few dismissed police constables and rowdy elements tried to create an adverse atmosphere in police department but policemen as a disciplined force did not listen to them.” Om Prakash said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to reliable sources, a case with crime number 160/16 under Sections 124A 166 r/w 109 IPC along with Section 4 Police Forces (Restriction of Rights) Act 1966, Section 4 Police (Incitement to Disaffection) Act 1922, Section 5 KESMA r/w 120B of IPC has been registered at Yelahanka New Town Police Station and A1 Shashidhar Venugopal has been arrested and produced before the court which has remanded the accused to judicial custody till June 16.
ALSO READ Karnataka: Govt offices shut across the state due to employees’ association strikeMeanwhile, the DG & IGP said that public need not worry about law and order on June 4 since no policeman has applied for leave on that day. “Some of the policemen assured the senior police officers orally and some of them have assured in writing stating that they are not taking leave on June 4. As per my assessment there will be no protest by policemen on June 4,” he said.Demands are not newElaborating on the measures taken to redress grievances of policemen, the DG & IGP said the demands are not new and were pending for quite a long time. “The demands include filling up vacancies, housing, shift system are not new. These demands were pending for quite a long time. We have been trying our best to redress these grievances and we will continue to do our best to meet the genuine demands of policemen,” he said.
ALSO READ Karnataka: Policemen plan to apply for leave en masse on June 4; state govt on tenterhooksPolice under KESMAThe Karnataka government on May 31 by notification has included police service under the Karnataka Essential Services Maintenance Act 2013 as the police service is an essential service required towards public safety. The primary duty of the police is protection of life and property of the citizens and detection of crime. In case, personnel working under Karnataka State Police force refuse to discharge their basic duties, it will harm the public order and safety of the public which shall adversely affect the society in large and disturb the law and order in the state.The Act provides for arrest without a warrant or any person who is reasonably suspected of having committed any offence under the Act. All offences under the Act are non-bailable offences and are punishable with imprisonment of a term of one year or fine of Rs 5,000 or both.

Jat quota stir: Prakash Singh panel deprecates army deployment

The “massive” deployment of army during the Jat quota stir in Harayna was enough to ward off a small-scale attack by an invading army, the Prakash Singh Committee, which has indicted several top state police and civil officials for failing to control the riots that left 30 people dead, has said.”The deployment of army in Haryana was on a massive scale. A maximum of 74 Columns (slightly over 5100 men) were deployed. This would roughly work out to about 12 battalions. It is a formidable strength, enough to ward off a small scale attack in a particular sector by an invading army,” the report said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Committee, headed by Singh, a former Uttar Pradesh police and BSF chief, had harsh words for the state’s BJP government. It said the Manohar Lal Khattar government would never look back “with any sense of pride on these developments” and that the administration had “withered” away.”It is extremely unfortunate that army had to be deployed on such a large scale to deal with internal disturbances…,” it said.Noting that the presence of army did not make any impact, the panel said there “have been disturbing whispers” that the rioters were not particularly scared of the army.”The Additional Chief Secretary (Home) of the State had no hesitation in saying that ‘the agitators were not daunted by the presence of the army'”, the report said, adding it was “not a happy situation and should cause us concern.” The Committee said, “If this (agitators not being daunted by army) continues to happen, it will be good neither for the army nor for the internal security situation of the country.”Every force has a defined role and they should be able to perform that under normal circumstances. If there are any difficulties or constraints in the performance of the police, those difficulties need to be addressed and the constraints removed. Army should be called as a last resort only when all other efforts have failed,” the panel said deprecating the use of armed forces in tackling internal disturbances.Questioning appointment of Deputy Commissioners for “extraneous considerations”, the report also called for a review of the policy under which a Deputy Commissioner can requisition army in aid of civil power.”At present, any Deputy Commissioner can requisition army in aid of civil power. Looking at the calibre and the quality of district officers these days, and considering that most of them are appointed not for their merit but for extraneous considerations, it is necessary that this provision be given a second look.”The Committee feels that army should be sucked into internal security duties only if there is a well-considered request from the Home Department of the State,” the report said. PTI SKL SK

Jat stir: Haryana inquiry committee makes strong comments against top officials

Chandigarh: During the Jat mayhem in Haryana in February, the Additional Chief Secretary (Home) and DGP “fell short” of what could be expected of them, some officers at local level “deserted” duties and some did not act due to “caste bias”, according to a committee set up by the state government to inquire into the riots.

The Prakash Singh Committee also made strong observations against former Chief Ministers, saying they had “eroded the authority of certain institutions” with a view to concentrate powers in their own office and as a result “the office of the Chief Secretary does not command the power or enjoy the prestige it does in most other states.”

The panel, in its 451-page report on violence during the Jat quota stir, said the “administrative paralysis” had gripped the state and the “highest functionaries in the government failed to show the kind of guidance, direction and control that is expected in a crisis of such proportions”.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“The two officers who matter the most in the state, the Additional Chief Secretary (Home) and the Director General of Police, fell short of what could be expected of them in such a situation,” noted the committee headed by Singh, a retired IPS officer who had headed police forces of Uttar Pradesh and Assam besides the Border Security Force (BSF).

The committee, which has indicted 90 police and administrative officers for their “failure to act”, said “The Home Department was a washout, the Director General of Police failed to lead from the front, and the Additional Chief Secretary (Home) could not produce even one page of directions he may have issued to Deputy Commissioners and senior police officials in Sonepat during the Jat stir that rocked the state for a week in February.”

It said, “The Home Department did not issue any directions on the handling of the crisis, while the then DGP Yash Pal Singhal did not visit any of the affected areas, and also did not permit the next highest ranked officer to do so.”

The report, which significantly came at a time when Jats have threatened to launch their agitation afresh from June 5, said, “The Home Department also plays a somewhat subsidiary role in matters relating to law and order. These distortions need to be corrected to prevent a repeat of similar paralysis in the future.”

Describing the situation as “a horrific picture”, it said, “What was lacking was the will to act, the determination to prevent riotous mobs from assembling in the first instance and then dealing with them effectively while they were committing acts of violence, arson, loot or vandalism.”

The report, submitted to the High Court here yesterday, said, “Officers at the district level, barring a few honourable exceptions, just did not rise to the occasion. They were either unequal to the daunting situation they faced or they could not mobilise the full strength of the officers and men under their command, some of whom went missing or deserted their duties.”

It said the officers displayed cowardice, or hesitated to take strong action for fear that they would not be supported by the government, or deliberately avoided doing so because they had “a caste bias” which translated on the ground into “inaction against the rioters, connivance with the vandals, absence from duty/desertion, abatement of the hooligans”.

Mumbai: After Shiv Sena’s vada-pav eateris, BJP proposes ‘Namo tea stall’

In a bid to counter the Shiv Sena which has promoted ‘Shiv’ vada-pav eateries across Mumbai, BJP, its partner in the ruling alliance at the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, wants ‘Namo tea stalls’ on city roads.’Namo’ refers to the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”The concept was proposed by our corporator Prakash Gangadhare and we discussed it in our party meeting and endorsed it,” BJP group leader in the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, Manoj Kotak said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The proposal has been forwarded to the MCGM commissioner. MCGM is finalising the list and details of the illegal hawkers in the city at present. So I suggested a slight modification (to the concept) that there should be no illegality while allotting these NaMo tea stalls,” he said.The opposition parties, however, have slammed the proposal.Leader of opposition Pravin Chheda (Congress) said, “This move is another ‘joomla’….There is not a single rule in the BMC Act (Corporation Act) which can allow the civic body to permit eateries promoting a personality cult….Even the Shiv vada pav eateries have not been regularised so far,” he pointed out.Trushna Vishwasrao, Shiv Sena group leader in MCGM, said, “It’s only a proposal now. It won’t be correct to comment on it.”

Common people can ‘kill’ those indulging in murder: Haryana DGP

Haryana DGP K P Singh has kicked up a controversy with his remarks that common people coming across any miscreant trying to outrage the modesty of a woman or indulging in acts of arson or murder have the right to “take his life”.Singh, who was recently made DGP after his predecessor Yashpal Singhal was removed in the wake of severe flak faced by the state police over handling of the Jat stir, said citizens are not aware that they can take action when they come across violations of law.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Common citizens are not aware that this is not just the right which the law gives to policemen only. If the common man is a witness to someone insulting a woman or indulging in acts of arson by burning someone’s property or trying to kill a person then the law gives the right to the common man that he can take the life of the person indulging in such acts,” DGP Singh said.The DGP expressed these views while taking part in a convention about the role of police in Panchayati Raj in Haryana’s Jind yesterday, where BJP MLA Prem Lata Singh who is wife of Union Minister Birender Singh, was among those present. He stressed that while it is the police’s role to maintain law and order, one needs to understand the role of a common man.”It is police’s job to maintain law and order but as common citizens you have to understand your role…,” he said.Notably, sections 96 to 106 of the Indian Penal Code pertain to the law relating to the right of private defence of person and property.The provisions contained in these sections give authority to a person to use necessary force against an assailant or wrong-doer for the purpose of protecting one’s own body and property as also another’s body and property when immediate aid from the state machinery is not readily available.With state police drawing flak over its handling of the Jat quota stir in February, DGP Singh said the Haryana Police will not be a mute spectator if any ruckus is created in the future and strict action will be taken against the culprits.In the backdrop of some Jat leaders renewing the threat to start the agitation afresh over their quota demand, the DGP said some people from outside the state are trying to disturb the peaceful atmosphere but it is the duty of locals to keep away from them.”Agitation is right of public but it is wrong when protesters damage the environment by cutting trees and cause damage to public and private property,” he said.Notably, the Prakash Singh Committee report which was submitted to the Haryana Chief Minister recently found “deliberate negligence” on the part of 90 officials, including IAS and IPS officers.On May 17, the Haryana government had shunted out Additional Chief Secretary (Home) P K Das who was replaced by senior IAS officer Ram Niwas. Prior to that, DGP Singhal was replaced by K P Singh. Thirty people were killed in violence and there was extensive damage to property during the stir whose epicentre was Rohtak district.

Meet Guinness Rishi, the man who got over 500 tattoos for a world record

Guinness Rishi aka Har Prakash Rishi, is obsessed with setting Guinness world records. Known widely for his tattoos, Rishi has over 500 of them, of which 200 are country flags with a world map on his abdomen.ReutersHe confesses that removing all his teeth to fit in over 496 drinking straws in his mouth was the most difficult record to make.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Born in 1942, Rishi first entered the Guinness Book of World Records in 1990, when he rode a scooter for 1001 hours with two of his friends.ReutersHis record-breaking obsession took him from Delhi to Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum in San Francisco, in an endeavour to set the record for the longest distance travelled in hand delivering pizza.An auto parts manufacturer by profession, he also holds a record for finishing a 500 ml bottle of ketchup in under 40 seconds.ReutersHe even got his family involved, with his wife being he record holder for the shortest will: “All to son.”Now, he is getting tattoos of world leaders on his body and already has President Barack Obama, Queen Elizabeth, Narendra Modi and Mahatma Gandhi.Reuters

New Delhi: Police arrests another youth in Congolese national murder case

Police on Monday arrested another youth in connection with the murder of the 23-year-old Congolese national at south Delhi’s Vasant Kunj area three days ago.Prakash is the second person to be arrested in the case after the prime accused, identified as Mobin Azad Saifi, a senior police official said. Prakash, who is a driver by profession, left Delhi after the incident. He was arrested from Vasant Kunj area on Monday after he returned, said the official.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Police teams are, meanwhile, looking out for the third accused, Mukesh, who too is absconding and was last traced in a neighbouring state.
ALSO READ New Delhi: 23-year-old Congolese youth beaten to death23-year-old Congolese national, Masonda Ketanda Olivier, was allegedly beaten to death by a group of men following a brawl over hiring an auto-rickshaw at Kishangarh locality in Vasant Kunj area on late Friday night. Olivier received a deep wound on his head on being attacked repeatedly with a stone. While Oliver’s friend and other African nationals in the area who rushed to his rescue alleged that the attack on Oliver took place on racial lines, senior police officials had denied the allegations and claimed that this was not an incident of hate crime.

Kerala elections 2016 – People have rejected ‘corrupt’ UDF govt: Prakash Karat

CPI(M) leader Prakash Karat on Thursday said the “big” win for Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala was due to the people of the state having rejected the “corrupt” United Democratic Front government. “LDF has registered a big victory in Kerala because the people have endorsed a platform for a corruption-free government. The people have rejected the UDF government, its misrule and corruption,” the former CPI(M) General Secretary said. Karat said the party’s Kerala unit is likely to meet tomorrow and hold discussions on who will be the next chief minister of the state. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Party veteran V S Achuthanandan and politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan, both of whom have won, are in the race for the CM’s post.

BJP satisfied with poll results; TN W Bengal were predictable

New Delhi: BJP has won a “new state” while the Congress has lost two, union Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Thursday stressing that the two national parties would be the main ones to compete in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Javadekar expressed satisfaction over the Bharatiya Janata Party’s performance in the state assembly elections, and said: “Congress has lost two of the states it ruled and BJP has gained one.”

“Ultimately, it’s up to the national party, which will be the main parties in 2019 election,” he said.

Prakash Javadekar - FilePhoto. ReutersPrakash Javadekar - FilePhoto. Reuters

Prakash Javadekar – FilePhoto. Reuters

BJP has emerged victorious in Assam, which had been ruled by Congress for 15 years.

The minister said that in politics, the job is to assure victory, and if that does not happen, the aim is to defeat the enemy, or have a friendly party win.

Asked if he was referring to AIADMK and Trinamool Congress as “friendly parties”, the minister clarified that both were “independent parties”.

“The enemies are the Communists (parties) and the Congress… They shall be defeated… TMC and AIADMK are independent parties, they take decision as per their choice,” he said.

Javadekar, who was also BJP’s election in-charge for Tamil Nadu, said that the result in Tamil Nadu was expected.

Mamata‘s victory and Jayalalithaa’s likely victory is a matter of what people were already talking about on the street. I campaigned in Tamil Nadu and what Tamil people were saying is that we want ‘Amma’ and this is what’s happening,” he said.

Jat agitation: Haryana govt shunts out Home Secretary after report finds ‘deliberate’ negligence on his part

Haryana government on Tuesday shunted out its Additional Chief Secretary (Home), four days after the Prakash Singh Committee report found “deliberate negligence” on part of 90 officials including IAS and IPS officers during the Jat quota agitation in February.Senior IAS officer and Additional Chief Secretary (Home) P K Das has been relieved of the charge and replaced by another senior IAS officer Ram Niwas, an official spokesman said. Niwas, who was ACS (Irrigation), has been posted as Additional Chief Secretary, Home, Jails, Criminal Investigation and Administration of Justice Departments, he said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Around 90 officers including IAS and IPS officers were indicted for “deliberate negligence” during the Jat quota agitation by Prakash Singh Committee and adverse comments were made against them in its report submitted to Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on May 13.The Committee was appointed on February 25 to inquire into the alleged acts of omission and commission on part of officials of both police and civil administration during the agitation From February 7 to 22.The committee had inquired into the role of officers starting from the rank of Sub-Inspector to SP in police and Naib Tehsildar or duty Magistrate to the rank of Deputy Commissioner in civil administration in the affected districts of Rohtak, Jhajjar, Jind, Hisar, Kaithal, Bhiwani, Sonepat and Panipat.After receiving the report, the Chief Minister had said the Government would examine it and take appropriate action at the earliest. Haryana government on Tuesday also issued transfer and posting orders of five other IAS officers with immediate effect.Shashi Bala Gulati, Additional Chief Secretary of Labour and Employment Department has been posted as Additional Chief Secretary of Women and Child Development Department in place of Dheera Khandelwal, who goes to Information, Public Relations and Languages Department relieving Sanjeev Kaushal of the charge. Mahavir Singh has been given the additional charge of Principal Secretary of Housing Department relieving P Raghavendra Rao of the charge.Anurag Rastogi, Principal Secretary, Environment Monitoring and Coordination Department, has been given additional charge of Principal Secretary, Irrigation Department and A K Singh, Principal Secretary of Technical Education Department and Inquiry Officer, Vigilance has also been given the additional charge of Principal Secretary, Labour and Employment Department in place of Shashi Bala Gulati, the spokesman saidHaryana government had faced strong criticism following the eruption of violence and arson during Jat quota stir in February this year and about a month back appointed K P Singh as the new DGP of Haryana, removing Yashpal Singal from the post.30 people were killed in violence and there was extensive damage to property during the stir.

Projects worth Rs 10 lakh crore cleared by Env Min in the past two years: Javadekar

New Delhi: Over 2,000 projects involving Rs 10 lakh crore investment, which were stuck for years and some of them in key sectors, have been given environmental clearance in the last two years, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Tuesday.

Javadekar also said that in line with the government’s policy of ease of doing business the average waiting period for approval of projects has been brought down to 190 days from 600 days during the UPA regime and the aim now is to slash it further to 100 days.

Some of the projects cleared by the Environment Ministry in the last two years were in important sectors such as roads, railway network, pipelines, irrigation canal, and they remained stuck for approval for many many years. The Modi government completes two years in office on 26 May.

Calling it a kind of “revolution”, the minister said the projects given the go ahead by his ministry will generate millions of jobs and spur India’s economic growth to a great extent.

“We have cleared over 2,000 projects. This has unlocked Rs 10 lakh crore investment and it has the potential of creating direct employment of millions of jobs. This is not a small thing. The projects were unnecessarily languishing. Now there is no pendency,” Javadekar told PTI in an interview.

A file photo of Prakash Javadekar. PTIA file photo of Prakash Javadekar. PTI

A file photo of Prakash Javadekar. PTI

Listing initiatives to make the process of granting environmental clearance, he said approvals were accorded strictly following policy decision and principle of standardisation and decentralisation.

“Earlier average waiting period for project approval was 600 days. Now it has come down to 190 days without compromising on any environmental condition and actually making environmental condition more stringent. This is in a way revolution,” he said.

The Minister said the Centre has not discriminated against any state while clearing the projects and all the state governments were happy as they have been made partner in the decision making process.

The Minister said the forest cover in India has been increased by 3,500 sq km in the last two years

“We have increased forest cover by 3,500 sq km. It is forest cover within forest area and outside forest area. We have increased mangrove by 1,000 sq km. It is not a small achievement. It shows our direction and commitment,” said Javadekar.

He said priority was being given to make the decision making process transparent and it has yielded very positive

After taking over as Environment Minister, Javadekar had said he felt the Ministry had become a “road block” Ministry as hundreds of projects were kept pending during the UPA rule.

Asked what would be the amount of investment by foreign entities out of Rs 10 lakh crore, Javadekar could not give a direct reply, saying such details are kept by ministries of Finance and Commerce.

The Minister said the process of giving clearance to defence projects have been categorised under “general” to make the approval faster.

“We accorded general approval for defence infrastructure within 100 km of Line of Actual Control(LAC) at the border(with China). The files of border roads which were pending in my Ministry have been done away with.

“We have taken a policy decision of dencentralisation. Projects of 40 hectares and below and linear projects will be taken up at 10 offices instead of one ministry,” he said.

Javadekar further said, “Our mantra is sustainable development so we must care for environment. We have made environmental conditions, pollution norms more stringent. It is development without destruction.”

Asked about projects waiting for environmental clearance, the Minister said there is practically no pendency at the level of the Ministry.

“At our 10 regional centres, there is very less pendency. At the state level, there is pendency somewhere. We are tackling it with each state, taking them into confidence to speed up the process,” he said.

Prakash Javadekar, Radha Mohan Singh face protests at national Gaushala conference

Environment minister Prakash Javadekar and agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh faced protests and their speeches were interrupted with slogans during the national conference on ‘Gaushalas ‘held at Vigyan Bhavan on Monday. Participants from various cow shelters were agitated that the Centre was not doing enough to protect cows against alleged smuggling across the country’s border nor it was doing much for conserving the Indian breed of cows.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The national conference was held at Vigyan Bhavan, where over 1,500 registered cow shelters, bureaucrats and scientists participated. The conference saw the ministers speak on increasing milk productivity and improving provision of fodder.During his speech, Radha Mohan Singh said that the Centre was providing allowance to cow shelters in Rajasthan. Reacting to this statement, participants from different cow shelters stood up and countered the minister’s claims. They said that funds were not received for conservation of cows. The minister was hard pressed to placate the protesting participants and assured to look into the matter.Further, participants also alleged that cows were smuggled across the country’s border and exhorted both union ministers to take action against it. Prakash Javadekar had to intervene to ease the participants. He said that the conference was organised to look into all these issues and the suggestions of every gaushala would be considered.To add to the embarrassment faced by the ministers, a few participants had a few grouses against the ‘event bag’ that was provided to them. They complained that instead of featuring the picture of a local breed, the ‘event bag’ had a jersey cow printed on it.Speaking to dna, some of the participants said that the Centre should first be serious about protection of cows before making claims on enabling and strengthening cow shelters. “There is enough politics on this issue, but we need to see more action on the ground. Protecting cows and conserving them after their milk production falls is crucial. While we talk of cows, we also need bulls for mating and to improve the pedigree of Indian cow breeds,” said Prithvi Pal of the Maharishi Dayanand Gau Sanvardhan Kendra, Delhi.The national conference, organised in the middle of the one of the worst droughts in the country, had drawn criticism from the animal welfare board. RM Kharb, the board’s chairman had earlier written to the ministry and he had suggested that considering the difficulties faced by cow shelters during the drought situation, the seminar should be pushed ahead.

AAP government opposes Ajay Chautala’s parole plea in Delhi HC

The AAP government on Tuesday opposed in the Delhi High Court the parole plea of INLD leader Ajay Chautala, serving a 10-year jail term in teachers’ recruitment scam case, alleging that he was “abusing” the process of law. Chautala has sought parole for medical treatment and for maintaining social ties.Delhi government told a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath that earlier also Chautala was admitted to a private hospital for around seven months in the name of treatment. “I cannot say that he (Chautala) is hale and hearty but he does not require any immediate redressal (for his ailments). In an August 2013 medical report, it was said that a pacemaker was needed to be implanted but till date no such procedure has been carried out,” Delhi government’s senior standing counsel Rahul Mehra told the bench.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”This means that the patient is improving. Last time, he had gone to a private hospital and not a government hospital. He is abusing the system of law. He was out of jail for seven months in the name of treatment,” he argued.Senior counsel Sudhir Nandrajog, who represented Chautala, told the bench that a decision to defer pacemaker implant was taken by the team of doctors and his client was admitted to a private hospital earlier for seven months under custody. He referred to the report of a medical board and said that the doctors have opined that Chautala needs medical treatment for his ailments.The bench, after hearing the submissions, reserved its order on the plea. “We will consider and pass an order,” the bench said.A single judge of the high court had last month dismissed the plea of Chautala, whose appeal against the high court verdict convicting him and his father, Haryana’s former Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala, and sentencing them to 10 years in jail was dismissed by Supreme Court on August 3 last year, seeking 12 weeks’ parole for medical treatment. (

Tamil Nadu Elections 2016: BJP hits out at DMK, AIADMK for ‘freebie culture’

Senior BJP leaders Rajnath Singh and Prakash Javadekar on Friday hit out at the DMK and AIADMK, which have alternately ruled Tamil Nadu, for introducing “freebie culture” in the state and said what the people wanted was employment and not freebies.”In the last 10 years, by giving freebies to the public, government has spent Rs 11,500 crore. Both DMK and AIADMK want to rule the state by giving away freebies,” Singh said at an election meeting in Salem.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Both the Dravidian parties had ‘brainwashed’ the people by giving away freebies, he alleged.
ALSO READ Tamil Nadu Elections 2016: Meet the independent candidate who has met nearly all his constituentsThe Union Home Minister said during the 10 years Congress- led UPA rule at the Centre, there were several scams, including the Rs 1.76 lakh crore 2G scam. However, since the BJP-led NDA assumed power and adopted a transparent policy, coal auction had netted a profit of Rs two lakhs crore.He also referred to the December 2015 floods in Chennai and said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had rushed to Tamil Nadu to take stock of the situation and sanctioned Rs 2,000 crore to the state.
ALSO READ Tamil Nadu Elections 2016: Smriti Irani terms Congress-DMK alliance as unholy, brings up 2G scamIn Virudhunagar, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said there was no use in implementing the freebie scheme when what people wanted was not freebies, but jobs.Citing the example of giving 20 kg rice free of cost, he said the Centre was bearing Rs 32 as cost and the state government was spending only Rs three.
ALSO READ Tamil Nadu Elections 2016: Highlight govt’s work, expose DMK-Cong alliance- Jayalalithaa asks cadres He criticised DMK and AIADMK for promising to bring in prohibition and said though they had assured it in their manifestos, neither party would do so. He claimed that only BJP was capable of it and would implement it if voted to power.

Minor dies, 32 hospitalised after consuming contaminated water in Jaipur

An 8-year-old girl on Saturday died and 32 others were hospitalised after consuming contaminated water in a residential colony in Jaipur, an official said.The residents of Shankar colony near Gopalpura bypass complained of abdomen pain and started vomiting after consuming contaminated water, chief medical and health officer Dr Ravi Prakash Sharma said, adding medical teams were sent and nearly 150 people were given medicines on the spot.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”A minor girl, Kannu was taken to Jaipuria hospital by her parents, where she was declared dead on arrival,” he said. 14 persons were hospitalised at Jaipur hospital and 18 were admitted to J K Lone hospital, the health officer said.Besides them, 6 children from Jamvaramgarh and Kanota area were also admitted to the JK Lone hospital on Friday after drinking contaminated water, he said. Sharma said samples of water have been collected. Public health engineering (PHED) Minister Kiran Maheshwari convened a meeting of officials and directed them to check water supply and to be present on the field.

Uttarakhand forest fires caused by low moisture and heat: Prakash Javadekar

New Delhi: Low level of moisture and heat have led to forest fires in Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand, Union Environment and Forest minister Prakash Javadekar said on Tuesday.

Prakash Javadekar said the Uttarakhand forest fires were caused by heat and lack of moisture. PTI

Prakash Javadekar said the Uttarakhand forest fires were caused by heat and lack of moisture. PTI

Referring to recent instances of forest fires, he said in the Lok Sabha, that “these (fires) are not new but this time due to the heat, the moisture level has reduced, which at times leads to situation like ones in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.”

Fire incidents have been ravaging the forests of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh over the past few days.

Meanwhile, Indian Meteorological Department’s Director General Laxman Singh Rathore said rains over the hill states during the next two days will give some respite from forest fire.

A Western Disturbance phenomenon is already active, which will bring in the showers.

Firefighting operations continued on a war-footing in Uttarakhand with three IAF choppers sprinkling water on flaming forests as over 11,000 personnel fought infernos from the ground leading to further decline in the number of active fires.

Grain procurement: How will Narendra Modi government handle this scam?

The spectre of rotting grains has hit media headlines once again. What most have not stated overtly is that this may not be just another case of mismanagement. This could be nothing short of fraud. It could be an attempt on the part of grain procurement offers to destroy evidence that could implicate them in a financial scam.



But to set the context right, one needs to go back to September 2010, when the Supreme Court was forced to intervene. It asked the then government to give the grain away for free to people instead of leaving it to be devoured by pests or allowing it to rot in the open.

When Sharad Pawar, the then agriculture minister, tried to dismiss the Supreme Courts remarks as merely a suggestion, the apex court promptly retorted that it was an “order”, not just a “suggestion”.

Then consider the remarks made by most agronomists – including Ashok Gulati – that the government was trying to procure more grain that was warranted. Gulati had been literally crying himself hoarse denouncing the government’s procurement policy. In one of this articles he has clearly stated: “As on 1 July 2013, the government had 74 million tonnes (mt) of stocks of wheat and rice, and a year before on 1 July 2012, 80 mt, against a buffer stock norm of only 31.9 mt”.

grain chartgrain chartIndia already has covered storage of 57.7 million tonnes if one takes the capacities of all the three parties collectively – the state warehousing corporations(SWCs), the Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) and the Food Corporation of India (FCI)

And you now have media reports talking of two problems that seem to have afflicted the Food Corporation of India (FCI)
Crime #1: The FCI has allowed 46,658 tonnes of foodgrain to rot in its 1,889 warehouses across the country in three years.
Crime #2: The FCI has allowed another 143.74 tonnes to go missing.

Together, as some media reports stated, this could have fed nearly 8 lakh people from priority families under the National Food Security Act for an entire year.

The FCI chairman and managing director Yogendra Tripati, is on record stating, “If you look at it, a majority of foodgrains wasted in 2015-16 was due to natural calamities like cyclone. A major storage issue was seen in the 1990s and there was a problem in 2013, but we’ve more or less overcome the issues and are also going to augment our storage capacity in coming years.”

The sad truth is that India already has enough storage. Yes, these storage areas could be upgraded – from capped to covered (see chart). But as Gulati has pointed out, the present storage capacity is adequate.

So why do we procure more than what is needed?

There are two reasons for this.

First, Indian politics is invariably driven by the demands of farmers in the North much more than those of the South. As a result, the rest of India pays for the avaricious demands of the North.

Second, because the entire procurement policy of the government is aimed only at rice, wheat and sugarcane. These crops are protected, nurtured and exploited by some of the most powerful political groups in the country. They are allowed to waste water, electricity, fertilizer and even FCI’s money. Much of this is done in collusion with India’s policymakers.

Consider for instance, how Haryana is known to change the Fair Acceptable Quality (FAQ) norms for wheat, each time the crop is of inferior quality. By changing the norms, the state procurement authorities pay the farmers grade A prices for grade B wheat. When the wheat goes to the millers for being ground into wheat flour, the millers (who are also elected leaders with various political bodies in the state) raise a hue and cry over the prices at which they must purchase the wheat, and are then given a subsidy. All this is eventually financed by the taxpayer.

Take a third instance. True, FCI’s officials have gone on record to explain how they have been trying to reduce buffer stocks year after year. Instead, all they have to do is to take the entire buffer stock and sell it in the commodity markets. True, there will be a discount in the pricing when larege quantities of grain is offloaded. But remember, getting one-fourth of the price is better than getting no price at all when it is devoured by rodents or let to rot.

Solutions exist, but the FCI does not want to accept them. Selling them through auctions would invite the attention of assayers, who would then have to certify the quality of grain being sold. Once the quality of grain is certified, FCI officials would have a difficult time explaining why Grade A prices were paid for grain that was Grade C. It is better to destroy the evidence, than have auditors baying for their blood.

The problem has already surfaced with the RBI demanding explanations for the missing grain. It has refused to let banks pay to the farmers the Cash Credit Limits (CCL) worth around Rs.20,000 crore. This is the amount that the Prakash Singh Badal government has sought for wheat procurement. Modi’s government is a political ally of Badal’s party. . Hence the need to bail him out is crucially important. But the stench of a scam is what keeps people wrinkling up their noses.

And do remember that the FCI procures only around 20% of the total grain. The rest is left to state procurement agencies, which then resell the grain to the FCI.

In the midst of all this hue and cry, someone has already floated a rumour – the RBI has yet to confirm this – that the government is willing to invoke sovereign guarantee for the CCL money, thus saving banks for notching up more bad debts than before. A sovereign guarantee for a scam? That’s a good one!

The irony is that Noth Indian farmers have already sought compensation for damaged crop on account of unseasonal rains. Now they want money for missing grain. And soon they will ask for Grade A payments for Grade C grain.
It is a triple whammy.

All eyes are on the Modi government to see how he handles this one.