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Modi govt spent Rs 1190 crore on advertisements in 2015-16: I&B Ministry in Lok Sabha

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government spent Rs 1,190.53 crore on advertising through the Department of Audio Visual Publicity (DAVP) in 2015-16, Lok Sabha was informed. In an unstarred question in the House, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry was asked if the said amount had been spent on the publicity of various flagship schemes. “The figure mentioned is the total expenditure of DAVP for the year 2015-16. This includes expenditure done by DAVP through all the mediums viz newspapers, audio-visual, print publicity, outdoor publicity and exhibition. “This includes tender, classified, display classified, UPSC and all other advertisements released through DAVP on various government schemes, besides flagship welfare schemes,” Minister of State for I&B Rajyavardhan Rathore said. DAVP is the nodal agency to undertake multi-media advertising and publicity for various ministries and departments of government of India.

Cyclone Vardah: IMD issues warning, says second arm is usually more disastrous

New Delhi: Sunshine, clear sky and no rains just after a cyclone is not an indication that the storm has passed, a meteorologist said on Monday, warning that the second arm of the cyclone is usually more destructive.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

According to Laxman Singh Rathore, who served as Director General of the India Meteorological Department during Cyclone Phailin and Hudhud, people tend to think that cyclone has passed when the first arm that hits coast bringing heavy rains and gusty winds.

Whenever a cyclone makes landfall, its first arm hits the coast, followed by the eye and then second arm. “When the eye, which is the Centre of the Cyclone, makes landfall, it is devoid of any cloud, gusty winds and has sunshine.

“People tend to think that cyclone has passed away. But the second arm of the cyclone is usually more destructive, bringing more rains and gusty winds. The storm surge is higher during this period,” said Rathore. He said people should be more cautious during this phase.

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 15:07 IST

Govt to provide 90% subsidy for starting community radio stations in northeast states

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Aiming to give a boost to the community radio sector, the government on Saturday announced that 90% subsidy will be provided for starting such stations in the northeastern states and 75% in other states.Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu made this announcement at a conference of state ministers, organised by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry after a gap of around seven years.As per the present rules, I&B ministry gives a subsidy of 50% up to a limit of Rs 7.5 lakh, for starting community radio stations. In his concluding remarks, Naidu also announced that a new dedicated Doordarshan channel for the northeastern states will come up in the first half of January. This channel will show the richness, variety and diversity of the local culture and seamlessly integrate these states with the rest of the country, he said.Minister of State for I&B Rajyavardhan Rathore said collaboration between states and Centre is the “bedrock for good governance” and there is a need to “move forward together as Team India” in scripting the development of the nation.Later, speaking to mediapersons at the sidelines of the event, to a question about reports that the Uttar Pradesh government wants to start a news channel, Naidu said, “There has been no direct communication. Why are they communicating through you (media)?” “I have not received any such information. If it comes, I have an open mind, but we will see it in light of the policies that are there,” he said.The present Act only allows Doordarshan and All India Radio. States do not have their own channels, he said.

There’s no blackmoney in film industry, claims Union Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore on Monday sought to correct the negative public perception that black money is pumped into films, and said the industry is likely to benefit from demonetization.”The film industry has been transacting through cheques and money loaned from banks. We used to earlier hear that the black money is pumped in the film industry.”I don’t think in this age there is any black money used in the film industry. There will be transparency in the film funding due to which good films will get the support,” Rathore said talking to the reporters on the sidelines of ongoing International Film Festival of India (IFFI) here.”It is a team effort when film is produced. Right from the spot boy to the film star, everyone works. If money is transferred in their account directly then they will get the exact rates, specially for those working at lower rung. The industry will get the support due to demonetization,” he said.Claiming that there are a lot of benefits associated with demonetization and economic reforms that are being injected by the Modi led government, Rathore said certain section of people who were running parallel economy have now vanished.”There will be impact of demonetization on terrorism, theft, dacoity, use of drugs, crime rate.. everything will be decreased once economy becomes cashless, everything is interlinked,” he added.

Demonetization: Indian farmers fear losing crops & income from govt move against black money

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>For Indian farmer Buddha Singh, who works a small plot of land in the village of Bajna south of New Delhi, the government’s decision to abolish 500 and 1,000 rupee bank notes to crush the shadow economy could hardly have come at a worse time.He and millions of other farmers cannot get enough cash to buy the seeds and fertilisers they need for their winter crops, threatening production of key commodities and hurting rural communities only just recovering after two years of drought.”We can’t buy our full requirements of seeds, fertiliser and pesticides on credit. There is a limit,” said Singh, a turbaned man in his 50s, who tills a two-acre field near the highway running from the capital to the holy city of Mathura.”We’re running out of time as we’ve only 10-15 days more to plant crops like wheat, mustard and chickpeas,” he added, to murmurs of assent from around 30 fellow farmers sitting under a neem tree and discussing their predicament.India’s 263 million farmers mostly live in the cash economy, exposing them to the full impact of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s shock Nov. 8 announcement that larger denomination bank notes would immediately cease to be legal tender.Modi’s drive to purge “black cash” from the economy has, at a stroke, wiped out 86 percent of the money in circulation. Delays in printing new 500 and 2,000 rupee notes mean that money could be tight for weeks to come.While city dwellers are still queuing up to exchange or deposit old money at the bank, and to draw new funds, many villagers live miles from the nearest branch and have yet to see the new notes being rushed into circulation.DRAGGED DOWNDelays to the planting season that began last month threaten to dent India’s agricultural and overall economic growth, wiping out gains for farmers who this year cashed in on decent monsoon rains after being hit by drought in 2014 and 2015.Farmers who have already spent money on ploughing and irrigation to keep the soil moist can ill afford to leave their land fallow. Late sowing typically reduces yields and increases the risk that inclement spring weather could damage crops.”In all likelihood we’ll not be able to recover our cost of cultivation as the prime sowing time has nearly lapsed,” said Prakash Chandra Sharma, another local farmer.The farmers said they spent an average of 58,000 rupees ($855) per hectare to grow wheat, only to eke out an income of 70,000 rupees. That assumes a crop yield of about 3.2 tonnes per hectare.A drop in wheat output would boost local prices that are already near record highs. Stocks are at their lowest level for nearly a decade, and even before the latest cash crunch, private traders were expected to import around 3 million tonnes this year.Devinder Sharma, an independent food and trade policy analyst, said rural communities in particular would suffer from the demonetization move.”It’s a little early to hazard a guess about the extent of crop loss,” said Sharma. “But both rural income and demand will take a big hit before things start improving from April next year.”THANKS, BUT NO THANKSIn the latest in a series of ad hoc steps, the government on Thursday allowed farmers to withdraw up to 25,000 rupees ($368) a week against their crop loans to ensure that sowing of winter crops “takes place properly”.Shaktikanta Das, a top finance ministry official, also said a time limit for farmers to pay crop insurance premiums had been extended by 15 days.But that cuts little ice with farmers, who often rely for their cash not on banks but on money lenders charging annual interest of up to 40%.”Most farmers have already availed of their farm loan for the previous summer season and, for the handful who can still withdraw, the ceiling is too low,” said Tejinder Narang, a New-Delhi-based farm expert.After selling their rice crop last month, many are stuck with old 500 and 1,000 bills they can no longer spend.They are only allowed to exchange 2,000 rupees into new money, and the rest must be deposited before the notes cease to be accepted by banks after Dec. 30.”Four banks cater to 200 villages of about 2,000 people each. It’s not easy to get your old currency notes converted,” said Harbir Singh, another local farmer.MARKETS IDLEDThe breakdown in the cash economy is causing major disruptions to the supply of produce to India’s cities, with payment alternatives such as plastic cards or digital wallet apps on smartphones yet to gain widespread acceptance.At Delhi’s Azadpur Mandi, Asia’s largest fruit and vegetable wholesale market, traders said business was at a virtual standstill, and labourers who usually earn between $4 and $6 a day sat idle.”The bosses are giving us 500 rupee bills, but we are refusing to take those notes,” said porter Raju Kumar Rathore. “Then they are telling us to collect our money after a week or 10 days. For us that is a big problem.”

Black buck poaching case: Rajasthan govt approaches SC against Salman Khan’s acquittal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Rajasthan Government on Tuesday approached the Supreme Court against Bollywood actor Salman Khan’s acquittal in two cases related to chinkara (black buck) poaching case.Rajasthan High Court on July 25 had acquitted Khan in the poaching case citing lack of evidence to incriminate him after he challenged the lower court’s verdict that had handed him one and five years’ imprisonment, respectively, in the two separate cases of poaching.”The government is studying the merits and demerits of the case and has decided to appeal against the decision in the Supreme Court,” NewsX quoted state Law Minister Rajendra Rathore as saying.A case had been registered against Khan under the Arms Act for alleged possession and use of arms with expired license during poaching of two black bucks at village Kankani near Jodhpur in October 1998.Salman was convicted in 2007 for hunting and killing two endangered chinkara deer and one black buck in Rajasthan in 1998. He has spent time in a Jodhpur jail twice. Both animals are protected and killing them is a punishable offence.In 2007, he was sentenced to five years in jail and is currently out on bail in the case. But in 2013, the Rajasthan High Court suspended the conviction to make it easier for the actor to travel to the United Kingdom to shoot for a film.

Ruchika molestation case: Supreme Court confirms ex-Haryana DGP Rathore’s conviction

Ruchika molestation case: Supreme Court confirms ex-Haryana DGP Rathore’s conviction

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday confirmed the conviction of former Haryana DGP S P S Rathore in the Ruchika Girhotra molestation case. A bench headed by Justice M B Lokur, however, modified the 18-month jail term awarded to Rathore to the period already undergone by him in custody.

Rathore was granted bail by the apex court in 2010 in connection with the case before which he spent around six months behind bars.

Rathore had challenged his conviction and the enhanced jail term from six months to 18 months before the apex court.

A sessions court had on 25 May, 2010 enhanced Rathore’s jail term from six to 18 months while allowing the plea of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Girhotra family. Punjab and Haryana High Court had on September 1, 2010, dismissed his appeal challenging his conviction and the sentence, saying his conduct as a top official was “shameful.

Monsoon to end late, benefit farmers | Reuters

NEW DELHI Monsoon rains are likely to end in India later than usual this year, with plentiful showers towards the latter stages of the season helping farmers recover from two straight droughts, the chief of the country’s weather office told Reuters on Friday.

Monsoon rains are the lifeblood of India’s agriculture-dependent economy and a week’s delay in their onset this year has caused the planting of summer-sown crops such as cotton, rice, soybean and sugar cane to drop by nearly 24 percent.

The monsoon has remained 15 percent lower than average in June, but the deficit is expected to narrow in the days to come, Laxman Singh Rathore of the Indian Meteorological Department said in an interview.

The weather office forecasts monsoon rains to be above average this year after the droughts ravaged crops and worsened rural distress.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitely on Friday singled out good rains as one of the factors helping India when Britain’s vote to leave the European Union is roiling world markets.

Monsoon rains typically arrive at the southern coast of Kerala state by June 1 and start retreating by September from the western state of Rajasthan. But a late start is no guarantee of a delayed end.

“There is a strong possibility that the terminal phase will be wetter and the withdrawal will be later than normal,” Rathore said.

Farmers will need to adjust their sowing period to reap a good crop, Rathore added.

An extended monsoon leaves the soil moist for the sowing of winter crops such as rapeseed, wheat and lentils.

(Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal and Mayank Bhardwaj; Editing by Malini Menon and Keith Weir)

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

Southwest monsoon making slow progress, says MeT dept

New Delhi: The progress of southwest monsoon is relatively slow as it is not getting a favourable system to move forward, but days of heat wave condition in central and northwest India will soon be over as pre-monsoon showers will bring moisture in the air, Met department said on Monday.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The Southwest monsoon has now reached Karwar and Gadag in Karnataka and Ongole in Andhra Pradesh, but its progress is relatively slow, India Meteorological Department (IMD) Director General Laxman Singh Rathore said.

“The progress of monsoon is slow as it is still not getting a favourable system that can give it a boost to move forward,” Rathore said, adding that this is a normal phenomenon.

But in next two to three days, the monsoon is expected to make some progress and cover North Bay of Bengal, Sikkim, Northeast India, and sub-Himalayan West Bengal, as a system is getting generated.

“And by 18 June, it will give the progress a boost,” he said.

The southwest monsoon hit the Kerala coast on 8 June, after a delay of seven days. Normally, it hits the Kerala coast on 1 June, Mumbai by 10 June, Delhi by 1 July and reaches Jaisalmer–the last place in India–by 15 July.

The slow progress of monsoon means the central and Northwest India will have to wait a little longer for rains, but these places will get respite from heat wave conditions due to pre-monsoon showers.

“Due to pre-monsoon showers there will be moisture in the air, so there will no longer be the spells of heat waves,” Rathore said.

Several parts of northwest, central India and southern peninsula have been reeling under intense heat wave conditions.

Himachal Pradesh: Bus falls into gorge; eight killed, 20 injured

At least eight persons, including five women, were killed and 20 others injured when a private bus rolled 150 feet deep into a gorge near Darlaghat in Solan district, 50 kms from here, police said.The mishap took place on Saturday in which five persons died on the spot, while three others succumbed to their injuries on way to IGMC hospital, Shimla, said Darlaghat DSP Narvir Rathore.Four out of the eight persons killed in the accident have been identified as Vikas (30) hailing from Bilaspur, Tripta (21), a resident of Mandi, Banarasi Mehto (40) from Jharkhand and Chauhan Singh (35) from Kullu district, while the remaining are yet to be identified, the DSP said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ill-fated bus carrying over 40 persons was on its way from Chirgaon in Rohroo area of Shimla district to Mandi when the tragedy struck. The condition of five injured persons admitted to IGMC was state to be serious. The cause of the accident could not be ascertained but eye witnesses said it occurred as the driver failed to negotiate a sharp curve.Himachal Pradesh Governor Acharya Devvrat, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and Transport Minister GS Bali have expressed deep shock and grief over the mishap and extended sympathies with bereaved families.

SSB jawan on poll duty commits suicide in West Bengal

Kolkata: A jawan of border guarding force SSB, deployed for election duties in Cooch Behar district of West Bengal allegedly committed suicide after shooting himself from his service rifle on 9 May.

Representational image. AP

Representational image. AP

Officials said the incident occurred early in the morning when constable Sonu K Rathore fired two rounds on himself from his INSAS rifle at a forces’ camp duty area in the district.

They said Rathore’s unit, Sashastra Seema Bal’s 38th battalion, was on election duty in Cooch Behar.

Local police officials and senior SSB officers reached the spot. A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to look into the reasons as to why Rathore took the extreme step, officials said.

Rathore, a resident of Aligarh district in Uttar Pradesh, joined SSB in 2012. The force is tasked to guard the Indian borders with Nepal and Bhutan.

Madhya Pradesh: Communal clash over ‘damage’ to saffron flags near church, BJP district unit president arrested

Tension prevailed in Jobat town in the district on Wednesday after members of two communities hurled stones at each other over alleged damage to saffron flags put up near a church and subsequent breaking of lamps at its gate by a mob of right wing outfits, police said.Police have arrested six persons, including three suspected members of right-wing organisations for allegedly damaging the flags put up near the church during Ram Navmi festival.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>District unit BJP president Rakesh Agrawal and others have been booked on charges of rioting, defiling place of worship and misbehaving with women under Jobat police station area near here in the early hours today, on the complaints of a pastor of Zion Church and a woman. “The trouble started around 9 PM last night when some people came to us with a complaint that Nirmal Raymond and his brother Nigam Raymond have damaged saffron flags which were put up during Hindu festival of Ram Navmi near the church,” Alirajpur district Additional Superintendent of Police Meena Chauhan said.The officer said the police immediately registered a case against the brothers and sent a Sub-Divisional Officer of Police (SDOP) to arrest them. “But they (people) kept on accusing us that we are not taking action,” she said.”While the SDOP was doing his duty in a colony opposite the church, a mob of 500-odd people of right wing organisations reached the spot, following which the duo (Raymond brothers) hid themselves in fear after midnight.Their families locked them inside house,” Chauhan said.She said stones were pelted by members of the two communities at each other. Police then arrested Nirmal, Nigam and one Jitendra under various sections of IPC for obscene act, rioting, defiling place of worship and criminal intimidation.Meanwhile, the mob broke two or three electricity lamps at the gate of the church before dispersing at around 2.30 AM, the ASP said. According to the officer, Mantu Choubey, Mahendra Rathore and Om Rathore, suspected to be associated with right-wing activists, were arrested.”We have identified 16 people, including Agrawal, and booked them for rioting and other charges. We have arrested three persons who are believed to be members of right wing organisations. As we don’t have enough evidence against Rakesh Agrawal therefore we haven’t arrested him,” Chauhan said.They are booked under sections 295 (injuring and defiling place of worship), 427 (mischief), 147 (rioting) and 149 (unlawful assembly) of IPC, besides under section of 506 (criminal intimidation) on the complaint of a Christian woman, she added.

Centre sends team to Rajasthan to probe deaths at govt-run home

The Centre on Sunday sent a team of experts to Rajasthan to assist the state government in investigating the cause of water and food contamination that apparently led to the death of 12 people with special needs, mostly children, at a government-run home near Jaipur.The five-member team includes a senior paediatrician, epidemiologist and microbiologist and will investigate the causes and also suggest public health measures to prevent such incidents in the future.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Union Health Minister JP Nadda has directed for a special five-member expert team to be sent to assist the Rajasthan government to investigate into the causes of water and food contamination that are reported to have resulted in the death of 12 specially-abled persons in the state-run home at Jamdoli in Rajasthan,” an official statement said.
ALSO READ Rajasthan: 11 persons with special needs, including kids died after drinking contaminated waterNadda has also spoken to the state health minister Rajendra Rathore who informed him that necessary measures have been taken to prevent such incidents in future. “The Union Health Minister assured him of all support. A detailed report in the incident is expected shortly,” officials said.Twelve people with special needs, mostly children, staying at the government-run home died between April 16 and 27 due to suspected bacterial infection after drinking contaminated water. Three officers and as many staff members of the home for people with special needs were suspended after the incident.With the opposition hitting out at Vasundhara Raje government over the deaths, the state government appointed a three-member committee to probe the matter. The Chief Minister yesterday issued instructions for strict action against erring government officials.Earlier in a tweet, Nadda said, “Extremely sad to hear of the death of specially-abled persons in #Jamdoli, Rajasthan. My prayers for them and their families. Sending 5-member experts team to Jaipur today to assist State Govt. to investigate into causes of incident & suggest preventive measures.”

Govt taking steps to modernise Doordarshan: I&B Minister tells Lok Sabha

New Delhi: Government has taken a number of steps to modernise Doordarshan news and entertainment channels by bringing in latest technology, strengthening regional bureaux and hiring fresh talent, Lok Sabha was informed on Friday.

Observing that DD News provides “only news and complete news” and a vast population of the country continue to watch it, Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said, “modernisation process of Doordarshan is on. New technology is being brought, regional bureaux are being strengthened, fresh talent are being hired and salaries increased.”

Doordarshan logo. Wikimedia Commons

Doordarshan logo. Wikimedia Commons

The Minister was responding to a question by Congress member Ranjeet Ranjan who said that when “people get headache after watching private TV news channels”, they switch over to state-run DD News.

He said that government will soon bring a new entertainment policy where slots will be sold so that more entertainment programmes could be telecast.

Responding to BJP member Virendra Singh’s complaint that TV channels gave too much importance on telecasting cricket matches, he said a kabaddi league could be started and all such matches could be shown through DD Kisan channel.

Rathore said that Doordarshan had recently shown a reality programme on folk songs of the country which became immensely popular and several private channels too started similar programmes.

The Minister said that it was Doordarshan’s constant endeavour to improve upon its programmes by reviewing content and
quality from time to time with the view to sustain the interest of the viewers.

“Doordarshan has been procuring content through various notified schemes such as self finance commissioning, revenue sharing mode producers, advertisement funded programme and acquisition category,” he said.

DD’s viewership, revenue drops while Akashvani’s goes up: govt

New Delhi: The revenue of Doordarshan has suffered a setback because of “sharp drop” in number of terrestrial TV viewers but Akashwani has gained “substantially,” the Rajya Sabha was informed on Tuesday.

Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore gave these details in a written reply.

MoS, Information and Broadcasting, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore. PTI

“Prasar Bharati has informed that revenue of Akashvani has gone up substantially but Doordarshan has suffered a setback because of sharp drop in number of terrestrial TV viewers,” Rathore said.

He reasoned that the mode of acquiring programmes through commissioning or self finance commissioning had resulted in dipping of DD National viewership and consequently revenue.

Replying to another question, Rathore said Prasar Bharati is considering to auction certain prime-time slots of Doordarshan to source high-quality content.

“DD was directed to come up with a slot sale policy so that genuine external and creative professionals can mount their programmes on DD channels through slot purchase. In this scheme, DD would stop financing production through ‘Pay Out’ modes and instead have revenue assurance in the form of a slot fee,” Rathore added. He said that the policy envisages that producers are made stakeholders in the scheme.

Anti-cyclone in Bay of Bengal reason behind heat wave in east India: IMD

An anti-cyclone in Bay of Bengal, coupled with high temperatures in central India, is leading to a heatwave in eastern parts of the country where mercury has shot up over 40 degrees Celsius.”Central India usually gets heated up in April and as May approaches, northwest India too starts heating up. The heat is passed on to other regions, which is why east India gets heated up,” Director General of India Meteorological Department, Laxman Singh Rathore said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Currently, there is an anti-cyclone (circulation of winds around a region of high atmospheric pressure) in the Bay of Bengal. This is not allowing advection, which means the sea breeze that helps in cooling the temperatures is not (flowing towards the land) happening. The combined effect is leading to such (heat wave) conditions,” Rathore said.Several parts of east and southeast India have recorded over-40 degrees Celsius temperatures, with Titalgarh in Odisha recording a high of 46.3 degree Celsius on Sunday. As per IMD data, several places, mostly in Odisha, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have recorded temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius.”Heatwave conditions continue to prevail at a few places over Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Jharkhand, and isolated places over Gangetic West Bengal, Haryana, Delhi and Chhattisgarh,” the IMD said.”On April 19, heatwave conditions are very likely at a few places over Telangana, Rayalaseema region of Andhra Pradesh, at isolated places over Vidarbha and Marathwada in Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Gangetic West Bengal and north interior Karnataka,” the IMD cautioned.However, the IMD has forecast heavy rains in some parts of the northeast tomorrow.”Heavy rains are very likely at isolated places over Arunachal Pradesh. Thunderstorm accompanied with squall/ hail likely at isolated places over Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura,” the IMD said.

IMD forecast brings what everyone wants: Above average rains

On Tuesday, India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicted that, following two successive drought years, the country is likely to receive above-normal southwest monsoon rains from June to September that will be widespread and evenly distributed.The 2016 forecast will bring cheer to the parched regions of the country, especially in central India, where people are currently facing an acute drinking water crisis. Eleven states in the country have declared drought.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As per the long-range forecast, quantitatively, rainfall during the monsoon season is likely to be 106% of the long-period average (LPA), with an error margin of +/- 5.The IMD categorises rainfall in the 96-104% LPA range as normal and rainfall between 104-110% of LPA as above normal.Last year, the El Niño weather phenomenon – marked by warmer-than-average sea-surface temperatures in Pacific Ocean – that causes droughts in South Asia was quite strong, leading to a 14.3% monsoon deficit in 2015.According to IMD’s forecast, El Nino had peaked in December 2015 and is likely to weaken during the first half of this monsoon season.”El Nino, which was one of the major factors behind poor rainfall last year, will weaken soon. The rainfall this year will be widespread and well distributed. Marathwada and Vidarbha will also receive good rainfall while only North-East may receive below-normal rainfall. We are carefully monitoring the sea-surface temperatures of the Pacific and Indian oceans,” said Laxman Singh Rathore, director general, IMD.Based on the historical data of 1951-2009, the country receives an average seasonal rainfall of 890mm during the monsoon season.The IMD forecast also said that the probability of a normal monsoon is 30%, above-normal monsoon 34% and excess monsoon 30%. Effectively, there is a 94% probability of normal to excess monsoon this year.Currently, the Marathwada region in Maharashtra is facing an unprecedented drinking water crisis. In 2015, 39% of the country recorded below-normal rainfall and it was the first time after 1986-87 that the country witnessed a successive below-par monsoon.

Above normal monsoon in 2016: IMD’s good news ends drought of hope in India

Easing fears over farm and economic growth after two consecutive years of drought, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Tuesday predicted “above normal” monsoon this year.

“Monsoon rains will be above long-period average this year and the El Nino conditions will be seen diminishing by June and July,” IMD said, adding that it will come out with the second stage of prediction in June.

Releasing its monsoon forecast for the season, IMD Director General Laxman Singh Rathore said, “Monsoon will be 106 percent of the long period average (LPA). There is 94 percent probability that monsoon will be normal to excess this year. By and large, there will be fair distribution of monsoon across the country. But North-East India and South-East India, particularly Tamil Nadu, may get slightly less than normal rainfall.”

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Drought-hit Marathwada is also likely to receive “good” rainfall, Rathore added.

Anything less than 90 percent of the LPA is termed as a “deficient” monsoon and 90-96 percent of the LPA is considered as “below normal”. Monsoon is considered as “normal” if the LPA is between 96-104 percent of the LPA.

“Above normal” monsoon is between 104-110 per cent of the LPA and anything beyond 110 per cent of the LPA is considered as “excess”.

Agriculture, which contributes 15 per cent to India’s GDP and employs about 60 per cent of the country’s population, is heavily dependent on the monsoon as only 40 per cent of the cultivable area is under irrigation.

Due to poor monsoon in 2015-16 crop year (July-June), 10 states have declared drought and the Centre has sanctioned relief package of about Rs 10,000 crore to help farmers.

The forecast, which comes after two straight years of drought – is likely to boost the farm sector, which has been weighed down by subdued agriculture output and falling farmers’ income.

Two back-to-back monsoon failures, 2015 being the hottest year on record, poor post-monsoon rain, an alarming depletion of reservoirs and a heat wave that’s forecast to continue and even intensify — all this has changed the country’s water economics drastically for farmers, households, businesses and hydropower.

Monsoon IMD

On Monday India’s only private weather forecaster Skymet, said that the annual monsoon rains are likely to be above average, snapping two straight years of drought that cut farm output and farmers’ income. The July to September monsoon delivers nearly 70 percent of annual rains and waters half of India’s farmlands that lack irrigation facilities.

Monsoon rains are expected to be 105 percent above a long-term average, with a 35 percent probability of above average rainfall, Skymet had said in a statement. The El Nino effect is likely to wane after monsoon hits the southern Kerala coast by the end of May, the statement said.

Southwest monsoon chartSouthwest monsoon chartEl Nino, or warming of sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific, can lead to scorching weather conditions across Asia and east Africa, but heavy rains and floods in South America.

India’s west coast and central parts will get good rains, Skymet said, bringing in relief for farmers and policy makers, who are struggling with droughts and severe water scarcity in some regions.

Above average monsoon rains play a key role in boosting demand for an array of consumer goods, as 70 percent of India’s 1.3 billion people live in villages.

Agriculture accounts for about 14 percent of India’s $2 trillion economy, Asia’s third-biggest, but it supports two-thirds of Indian’s population.

State-run India Meteorological Department is expected to issue its forecast for this year’s monsoon rains soon.

Separately, Farm Secretary Shobhana K Pattanayak said current climatic conditions indicate that El Nino is gradually fading and giving way to La Nina, indicating bountiful rains this year.

2 years of Modi govt: I&B Ministry working on publicity drive to highlight achievements

With the Narendra Modi government set to complete two years in office on May 26, the Information and Broadcasting ministry has begun consultations with other ministries to chalk out a strategy for highlighting its achievements.The ministry has already written to the other departments seeking details of initiatives undertaken by them in the past 18 months so that a plan for their publicity across various platforms may be prepared.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The government’s first year in office was marked by the tagline ‘Saal Ek Shuruat Anek’. Now, consultations are on so that a detailed communication plan can be formulated involving the Press Information Bureau, Doordarshan, AIR and other publicity units and ministries,” an official said.Earlier this month, Minister of State for I&B Rajyavardhan Rathore held a meeting in which it was emphasised that the flow of information from the ministries and departments to the publicity officers should be made smoother.I&B Secretary Sunil Arora has also written to his counterparts in other departments asking them to share information about their key programmes and initiatives.All media units under the I&B ministry like PIB, the field publicity department. have been asked to share their action plans while department publicity officers have been asked to outline five major policy decisions or initiatives taken by their ministries in last two years.Public broadcaster Doordarshan has also been asked to outline a comprehensive strategy for its regional and national network, including Kisan TV channel, officials said.The ministry may also consider taking the assistance of industry professionals to ensure that a crisp and clear communication strategy is put in place, they said.

Rajasthan govt to train dhabha staff to provide aid in accidents

Rajasthan government will train the staff of roadside dhabas and make available medicines for first aid on national and state highways so that those injured in accidents can be given timely first aid treatment.Medical and Health Minister of Rajasthan Rajendra Rathore said that identification of spots where most mishaps occur on highways will be done and roadside dhaba staff will be given training for first aid so that they can help in saving lives.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said initially one national and one state highway will be selected for this cause.Replying to the debate on demands for grants for medical and health department in the state assembly, Rathore also raised concerns over growing of vegetables in dirty and polluted water and on misleading advertisements for Ayurvedic medicines for raising height and treatment of other medical conditions.He informed the house that a special campaign will be run against the farming of vegetables using polluted water for two months.To check misleading advertisements, he said Ayurveda officers will be authorised to take action under the seldom used Drug and Magic Remedy Act 1954.The minister in his reply also expressed concern over increasing number of patients with lifestyle diseases and increasing pollution, and also laid stress on collectively meeting this challenge.Rejecting allegations of opposition members that the BJP government has weakened the free medicines scheme initiated by the former Congress government, the minister said the present government has increased the budget for the scheme and has brought qualitative changes in public interest.Rathore informed the House that BJP government in the last two years has increased the budget outlay for the medical and health services and most of the budget was utilized.He said the government will also undertake a special campaign to identify persons with mental disabilities who are chained in houses and added that arrangement for their free treatment will be made by the government.He said child sex ratio has increased to 929 which was from 888 recorded in the 2011 census.The minister also made announcements about recruitment of doctors, setting up of state excellence center for mental health for which the Centre has given its nod in principle, strengthening of laboratories in 17 districts, medical check up of students of madarasas, dial-in ambulance service, commencement of admission in seven new medical colleges from 2017-18 among others.After the reply, the demands for grants were passed by the House.

Educate people instead of carrying ‘propaganda’: Arun Jaitley tells media

Instead of “propaganda of different types which indoctrinates people”, sustained campaigns by media on issues like healthcare can play a major role in educating the public, Union Minister Arun Jaitley said on Friday.The Information and Broadcasting Minister, who also holds the Finance portfolio, was speaking at the 6th National Community Radio Sammelan in New Delhi, where channels were awarded for innovative programming.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Instead of having propaganda of different types which indoctrinates people, if you have sustained campaigns of this kind, which will drill into the human mind the healthcare, preventive health care system, radio can become a very powerful tool of education,” Jaitley said, referring to a community radio station which won for its health campaign.The Minister said in India dialects, weather, crop patterns change in every district and the role of community radio stations in informing and educating people gains importance. Globally, he said, newspapers are shrinking but in India regional newspapers are expanding. The same trend could apply to community radio as well, he said.Jaitley said that around 191 community radio stations are functioning though around 400 have been permitted. “Therefore, there should be a significant growth and connectivity as far as community radio is concerned,” he said.The I&B minister said that about two decades ago, an “erroneous impression” that the entire system including governments had was that radio and TV are monopoly of state. The trend, he said, had to change as people just can’t be fed with state controlled or public broadcasting controlled radio and television only, though these too have an important role.The situation changed when airwaves were thrown open and ownership was vested in the people after which there was an “explosion” of TV channels and a large number of FM channels came up, he said.Jaitley said that at one point it appeared TV had taken centrestage but with expansion of FM, radio is back with a bang.Earlier speaking at the event, Minister of state for I&B Rajyavardhan Rathore said community radio can play a vital role in empowering people by giving information including that on key government programmes. I&B secretary Sunil Arora said that the ministry plans to scale up its support to community radio stations.

Army most admired, respected institution: Dalbir Singh

Army chief General Dalbir Singh on Saturday said the force was the “most admired and respected institution” in the country and it was even being recognised by the international community.”Indian Army has an image. Our Army is the most admired and respected institution in the country. We have rendered exemplary service in the face of external and internal challenges,” he said in his address after reviewing a passing out parade at the Officers’ Training Academy here. He said that Indian Army’s role in UN peacekeeping operations had been “lauded by the international community” and noted that Indian Army was not just for the power it represents, but also for maturity and responsibility.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag with wife Namita arrives on a buggy to attend a passing out parade at the Officer Training Academy in Chennai on Saturday (PTI)Earlier, 183 cadets, including 37 women, passed out as officers following an impressive parade. Among those inducted as officers were Lt Nikita A Nair, a former ‘May Queen Miss Pune’ who had walked the ramp for two fashion pageants, the Army said.Lt G Vaishali was a professional Bharatnatyam dancer while Lt Balveer Singh Rathore from Jodhpur is the son of a tourist guide who wanted to make it to the Army. General Singh also gave away awards to outstanding cadets.

CBFC likely to certify films online by March 2017

The online film certification process in the country will be made operational by March next year, sources from the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) ministry said.”We recently had a meeting in this regard and have also invited bids for the software to be used for tracking the status of the films,” said a senior I&B official.The official said while the rudimentary set up is likely to be ready in the next six months, the system should be fully operational by March 2017.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Minister of state for I&B Rajyavardhan Rathore had announced about the measure last year at the IFFI in Goa and had said the online film certification process will protect the rights of filmmakers.”Once the system becomes online, there will be minimum human interference and hence there will be more transparency. The producer will have to come just once for submission of the film to the CBFC,” the official said.”The status of the film can be tracked online and the software will generate the date for its screening,” the official said, adding that the producer would be alerted about the date through a text message.However, the new online film certification system will be operational under the existing Cinematograph Act, 1952. The I&B ministry has recently appointed a committee headed by veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal to suggest the revamp of CBFC.One of the aspects that the committee is looking at is to make the board a certification agency based based on rating films under different categories and doing away with its power of censoring content from the films.Speaking to dna about the online certification process, Benegal said the CBFC will have to carry on with its regular functions, including making film certification online, even as the committee would come up with suggestions on its operations. The committee was to submit its report this month end, but has sought an extension from the I&B ministry.A senior I&B official said, “Even for exclusively rating system, the online certification process for CBFC would still be equally relevant.”Veteran filmmakers lauded the move, but said censorship of films remains their chief concern.Filmmaker Saeed Mirza said, “Certifying films online will make the process easier for us, but our main concern censorship. Every film should be cleared with different ratings, but none should be censored by CBFC.”

Erratic weather pattern likely in next 2 weeks: IMD

The next two weeks are expected to see an erratic weather pattern with the weatherman predicting revival of cold weather conditions due to western disturbance. The revival of cold weather is likely to give some respite to farmers. However, the overall temperature of the month is likely to remain above normal, it said.The next two weeks will witness erratic weather pattern, beginning with a drop in temperature, followed by a hike and then a drop again. Temperatures in several parts of North India slumped in the last two days.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”This is because of Western Disturbance. The temperature will again rise in the next two days. But another Western Disturbance is likely to bring it down from January 18. This will continue till January 25 after which the mercury will rise again,” India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) Director General Laxman Singh Rathore said.Western Disturbance is the term used to describe an extra- tropical storm that brings sudden winter rain and snow to the northwestern parts of the Indian subcontinent. This is a non-monsoonal precipitation pattern driven by the Westerlies.”Low temperature is good for crops, especially for horticulture like apple, peach. As far as wheat is concerned, the current weather will definitely reduce the losses,” Rathore said. He said February may also see some rain showers.

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