Category Archives: State and Local News

Rajya Sabha adjourned for the day following opposition ruckus

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New Delhi, April 25 (ANI): The Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day on Thursday, after the opposition refused to let proceedings continue over a demand for accountability to be fixed for the telecom and coal allocation scams.

Led by the BJP, the opposition repeatedly trooped into the Well of the Upper House to demand Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh’s resignation over coal blocks allocation issue.

Two members belonging to the Asom Gana Parishad, also entered the Well of the House displaying placards in protest against land agreement with Bangladesh.

Following the uproarious scenes, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Professor P J Kurien adjourned the House proceedings.

Earlier, the Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day following the death of a sitting Trinamool Congress member Ambica Banerjee in Kolkata this morning. The Lower House also mourned the death of a former DMK member C Kuppusami.

The meeting of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on 2 G spectrum allocations, scheduled to be held today, has also been postponed due to the death of Ambica Banerjee.

The meeting was to adopt a report on 2G scam. Sources in the JPC Secretariat said the next date of the meeting of the JPC will be announced later.

The request for the postponement of the JPC meeting was made by Trinamool Congress members to JPC Chairman P C Chacko.

China says has not broken border rules, Khurshid visit on May 9

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China on Thursday said that it did not provoke any confrontation at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, reiterating that its troops have always acted in compliance with relevant treaties. Reacting to allegations that China was escalating tension in the border areas, foreign ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying, said she did not agree with the accusation that it was Chinese soldiers who breached the agreed boundary.

She said that the media – presumably the Indian media as the Chinese media has hardly reported on the issue – could “keep patience and create favourable conditions for two countries to solve this issue.”

External affairs minister Salman Khurshid said Thursday he would visit China on May 9 amid high tensions between the neighbours due to a flare-up at their disputed border.

“I believe we have a mutual interest and we should not destroy years of contribution we have put together,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a business event.“I think it is a good thing that we are having a dialogue.”

It was unclear if the trip was part of scheduled preparations for a visit by the newly installed Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to India next month, but it comes at a time of rising friction between the neighbours.

India has requested for a third flag meeting, the date of which would be communicated by Beijing earliest by Thursday.

The minister also expressed confidence that India and China will be able to resolve the situation arising after the incursion in Indian territory by Chinese forces.

Hua directly denied answering a question whether China wanted India to remove certain fortifications at the border which Indian troops had reportedly put up in the last few months.

“Since I am not at the frontier, I do not know about the latest development in the frontier,” Hua said.

Interestingly, earlier during the briefing, she said that China was not the one to have provoked the stand-off.

“I do not agree with the allegation that it was the Chinese side who provoked confrontation between border troops. In the past three days I have repeatedly stressed the point and now I will like to reiterate that Chinese troops have always acted in strict compliance to relevant treaties and protocol between two the countries regarding the protection of peace and security of areas along LAC and are committed to protecting peace and stability of border areas as well as negotiate the settlement of the boundary issue left over from history,” she said.

Hua said because the long boundary between the two vast countries was not demarcated yet, problems were bound to arise.

“With the boundary not demarcated yet, it was inevitable that problems would to crop up in border areas,” the spokesperson said, adding: “When there is a problem in border areas the two sides should resolve it through friendly consultation through existing mechanism and channels.”

“We believe this incident can also be properly handled and will not affect peace and stability of border areas as well as normal development of China-India relations,” Hua said.

“I just want to tell you is that the current situation in border areas is peaceful and stable. Both China and India have willingness to solve the dispute through peaceful negotiations and consultations. We also believe the two sides should continue to solve the issue in a friendly manner and we will not let this issue affect border peace and security as well as normal development of China-India relations,” Hua said.

Two dead in explosion near Taj Mahal

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NEW DELHI: At least two people were killed and one was injured when an explosion occurred at a junkyard near the Taj Mahal in Agra.

According to TV reports, the explosion occurred at a junkyard behind the hotel Mughal Sheraton in the Tajganj area of Agra, 1.5 km from the Taj Mahal.

Kumbh Mela study to be presented at Harvard

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A study about the Kumbh Mela pilgrimage in India will be presented at an annual symposium on South Asia hosted by the Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The two-day long symposium in the University’s South Asia Institute (SAI) will focus on the timely appeal of South Asia to the humanities at the intersection of religion and civil society, ancient arts and cutting edge technologies, organisers said.

‘South Asia without Borders 2013′, the symposium will explore development, the juncture of caste and race, gender and human rights, social entrepreneurship and the arts, constitutionalism and development in South Asia, they said.

 ”Mapping the Kumbh Mela”, a study by 50 Harvard faculty, staff and student researchers who travelled to Allahabad in January this year, documents and analyses the processes involved in the Kumbh Mela, billed as the world’s largest human gathering.

The festival is held every twelve years and draws millions of visitors to a temporary, purpose-built tent city on the banks of the Ganges and Yamuna.

Team leaders will share insights and outcomes that have come from this massive interdisciplinary project and speak with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and Urban Development Minister Mohammad Azam Khan at the symposium.

Other topics at the symposium include “Why Europe Got Rich and Asia Did Not”, “Historicity and Modernity of Caste” and “Gender and Contemporary South Asia”.

Untouchability continuing in politics: Narendra Modi

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Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi regretted ‘untouchability’ was increasing in politics, apparently alluding to the protest by CPI(M) and resentment by Congress over his visit to Sree Narayana Mutt at nearby Sivagiri.

“Political untouchability is increasing in society though this great evil had been eradicated in social life to a great extent by works of spiritual leaders and reformers,” Modi said inaugurating the golden Jubilee of Sree Narayana Dharma Meemamsa Parishad at Sivagiri Mutt at Varkala, 30 kms from here.

Though he did not mention any party or leader, Modi apparently had in mind attacks by the Left on the Mutt for inviting him to the function and eyebrows raised by Congress leaders over Labour Minister Shibu Baby John of its partner RSP(B) meeting him recently.

 In an apparent reference to discussions John held with him on skill development for youth, Modi said Gujarat had been recognised as the most advanced state in this area by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Modi devoted most of his speech to the role played by spiritual leaders like Sree Narayana Guru in preparing the ground for the national movement and freedom struggle, saying if their ideals had been fully carried out, many problems faced by the country now could have been resolved.

Stating that India today is a ‘youthful’ country where 65 per cent of the population is aged under 35, he said this factor is the nation’s biggest asset for it to forge ahead.

However, uplift of women, depressed and suppressed classes and skill development are some vital areas that needed greater attention to achieve the goals before the nation.

He described Sree Narayana Guru as one who had been a far-sighted spiritual leader, saying his message of “one caste, one religion and one God for men” would provide a solution to problems faced by the present day world, including the scourge of terrorism and global warming.

Modi said he was proud of his RSS background since his childhood and it was during these times that he learnt about the teachings of Sree Narayana Guru.

He said the works and messages of sages like Sree Narayana Guru and Swami Vivekananda had greatly influenced his life.

Earlier, Sree Narayana Dharma Sanmgham Tust member Swamy Sachithananda said the political controversy over the invitation to Modi was unwarranted as the Mutt had no politics.

Modi’s speech in Hindi was translated into Malayalam by BJP state president V Muraleedharan.

China says ‘no incursion’; India may seek 3rd flag meeting

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With China firmly sticking to its stand that its troops have not violated the Line of Actual Control (LAC) “by a step” in the Ladakh region, India is likely to seek a third flag meeting this week.

The second flag meeting, held earlier this week, reportedly collapsed after China asked the Indian Army to destroy some of its positions in eastern Ladakh as a precondition for pulling back.

Indian on its part asked China to revert to the status quo position in Depsang Valley in Ladakh where troops of both countries were in a face-to-face situation after Indian military alleged that Chinese forces intruded nearly 10 kms inside Indian territory.

Apart from the flag meetings between the local military commanders of the two countries, the issue has also been taken up by the officials of the Foreign Ministries under a working mechanism that was established to address problems faced by the two armies on the ground while patrolling the vast tracks of disputed boundary.

Ignoring India’s demand to revert to a status-quo in Depsang Valley, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said, “I want to reiterate here that the Chinese border troops have been acting in strict compliance with the bilateral agreements and conducting normal patrol on the Chinese side of the LAC. They have never crossed the line by a step.”

Hu’s assertion of not even a step of violation was highlighted by the state television, CCTV which along with the rest of the official media began covering the incident for the first time even since the Ladakh incursion came to light last week.

Apart from the flag meetings between the local military commanders of the two countries, the issue has also been taken up by the officials of the Foreign Ministries under a working mechanism that was established to address problems faced by the two armies on the ground while patrolling the vast tracks of disputed boundary.

 

 

More reforms initiatives in next 2 to 4 months: Chidambaram

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Committing to carry forward the economic reforms programme in the remaining term of UPA-II, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Wednesday said the government will take more executive actions in the next two to four months and sought cooperation of the main opposition party to push through important bills in Parliament.

Ruling out early elections, the Minister said the government would last for 13 months more and would continue to take small but significant steps to ensure that the country achieves its potential growth rate of 8 per cent.

“There is much more to be done. The remaining bills have to be passed. There are many more executive actions that have to be taken… Some of these are executive actions which we will take in the next 2-4 months.

“We will continue to take small significant steps. We will also take forward some big ideas. India’s economy will continue to reform,” Mr. Chidambaram said while addressing a conference organised by UK-based magazine The Economist.

The Minister sought cooperation of the Opposition party to ensure passage of the land, insurance and Goods and Services Tax (GST) bills in Parliament, saying the economic issues should be dealt in a bipartisan manner.

“We have listed the things we intend to do. We want the Land Bill passed; Insurance Bill passed with FDI at 49 per cent. I sincerely seek cooperation of principal opposition party and other political parties.

“We want the regulator for coal sector, road sector in place; we want rail tariff authority in place to fix tariff in railway sector,” the Minister said.

Mr. Chidambaram also referred to the reforms initiatives taken by the government in the recent past.

He said the government had been able to take tough decisions with regard to opening of the multi-brand retail, deregulation of petroleum prices and freeing of the sugar sector partially.

FDI

The Minister further said it is important to ensure that both foreign and domestic investors continue to repose faith in the Indian economy, which he said is expected to grow by 6.1-6.7 per cent during the current financial year, up from 5 per cent in 2012-13.

Mr. Chidambaram said there is need to take a relook at the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) caps which were fixed long ago.

“We need to open our economy more. We have to give more space for FDI,” he said, adding the FDI caps could be removed if found no longer useful.

Two separate committees — under RBI and the Finance Ministry — are looking into various aspects of the foreign investment, including removal or raising of the FDI caps.

Promoting FDI was also essential to deal with the problem of widening Current Account Deficit (CAD), he said, adding it is likely to be below 5 per cent during the financial year 2012-13.

“CAD is indeed high… (it) is more worrying that fiscal deficit. In 2012—13, CAD is expected to be USD 90—94 billion. The satisfying aspect of this is that we have financed it completely without drawing down our reserves. There have been copious inflows,” he added.

The Minister hoped that CAD would be close to 5 per cent during 2012—13 and “going forward, we will bring it down. The way to do that is to boost exports.

“If we can conserve oil consumption by 10 per cent, we can save USD 17 billion. And if we can control our passion for gold, we can save many more billion dollars. It’s a difficult act but I am confident that with the steps we are taking to encourage inward inflows, we will be able to bring it down,” the Minister said.

Mr. Chidambaram said the recent initiatives take by the Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI) would spur investment activity which is essential for promoting growth and job creation.

“In the previous three meetings, the CCI had cleared projects in sectors like oil and gas, road and power (envisaging) investments worth USD 14 billion…As we remove investment bottlenecks, you will find growth picking up.

Growth in 2013—14 will be between 6.1—6.7 per cent,” the Minister said.

He expressed confidence that the growth rate would move up to 7 per cent in 2015—16, without fuelling inflationary expectations.

“I am happy to move up one rung at a time. In 2015—16, we will be getting over 7 per cent growth without fuelling inflation. Confidence in Indian economy is rising,” Mr. Chidambaram said.

GST

Replying to questions on roll out of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the Minister said there are 70 per cent chances of the getting the bills approved by Parliament in the remaining term of the UPA—II government.

“We reached a stage where the Empowered Committee (of State FMs) has authorised us to draft a constitution amendment Bill and a normal Bill for introducing GST. Work is in progress. The two bills will be ready. We will take it back to the Empowered Committee. Once the Committee endorses the two Bills, we will move them in Parliament,” he said.

Inflation

Referring to the issues concerning inflation, Mr. Chidambaram said the declining oil prices in the international market has helped in improving the overall price situation and hoped the downward trend would continue in the coming months.

This declining trend, Mr. Chidambaram added, was noticed in the case of core inflation, Wholesale Price inflation and the retail inflation.

The Minister also talked about fiscal consolidation and said he has already drawn red lines and would not allow the fiscal deficit to exceed 4.8 per cent of the GDP in the current financial year.

Concerted efforts helped the government in restricting the fiscal deficit to 5.2 per cent of the GDP in 2012—13 against the revised projection of 5.3 per cent.

Goa bans drinking alcohol on beaches

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Goa government has banned drinking liquor on beaches in a bid to curb littering and nuisance caused to women tourists.

However, one can continue to enjoy drinks at designated places such as beach shacks, Goa Tourism Director Nikhil Desai told us.

“The ban has been imposed under Goa Tourist Places (Protection and Maintenance) Act which gives the right to the state government to ban things which create nuisance in the tourism zones. The act envisages to protect and maintain the tourist places from deterioration and erosion and preserve the tourism potential”, he said.

India Reserve Battalion (IRB), a wing of Goa Police, manning the law and order on beaches, is asked to implement the order with immediate effect. “The violation will attract arrest”, Mr. Desai added.

Mr. Desai clarified that the prohibition order is not applicable to drinking in licensed shacks or any other places where retail sale of liquor is allowed.

The ban is the fallout of mounting complaints by tourists getting injured by broken bottles littering beaches and of nuisance against women tourists by drunk hoodlums loitering beaches.

A favoured tourist destination, Goa attracts around 2.4 million tourists annually, chunk of whom are domestic.

Quake in Afghanistan sends tremors to North India,Pak

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(24.4.13) An   earthquake of moderate intensity hit Afghanistan on Wednesday and was felt as far away as New Delhi, the latest in a string of tremors to shake Asia in the past week.

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PM’s silence will confirm his involvement in 2G: Yashwant

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BJP leader Yashwant Sinha today asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to appear before the parliamentary panel, saying his silence will “confirm” his involvement in the 2G scam. This followed former Telecom Minister A Raja’s statement  before  the  panel probing the 2G spectrum allocations that he took major decisions after consulting the Prime Minister.

Mr Sinha said the Prime Minister should appear before the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) as the allegations levelled by Raja “constitute a set of serious allegations of your personal involvement in the 2G scam”.”Is it not time Mr Prime Minister that you speak on these issues by appearing before the JPC?” Mr Sinha, a member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee probing the 2G issue, said in his latest letter to the Prime Minister.”You had said in your letter of April 2 (to Sinha) that you had nothing to hide. Your deafening silence on the allegations made by your own colleague in the Cabinet completely disapproves the stand you had taken,” he wrote.

His letter comes a day before the JPC meeting convened to adopt the controversial draft report which gives clean chit to the Prime Minister and Finance Minister P Chidambaram.

“Your silence will confirm the worst fear of the people of India that you were fully involved in the 2G scam and if Raja is guilty, so are you,” he wrote further.

Hinting at a stormy meeting of the committee tomorrow, Mr Sinha said, “Under the leadership of your party member PC  Chacko, the JPC is facing the risk of a complete stalemate, if not total destruction.”

Mr Raja’s statement to the JPC came after the draft report of the 30-member committee indicted him of misleading the Prime Minister on decisions taken with regard to 2G spectrum allocation.



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