The Hindu Morning Digest – April 28, 2024

Centre releases disaster relief funds for Karnataka and Tamil Nadu

The Union government has ordered the release of ₹3,730.32 crore towards “relief assistance for natural calamity” from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) weeks after the governments of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka moved the Supreme Court seeking relief funds for calamities such as Cyclone Michaung, floods and drought in 2023. 

Over 140 hectares gutted in Uttarakhand forest fires

Massive forest fires sweeping through the dense foliage in the mountains of Uttarakhand for the past 72 hours have gutted over 142 hectares of forest land in the State. With a fire reaching the vicinity of an Air Force Station near the Nanda range, the Indian Air Force on Saturday deployed a Mi-17 V5 helicopter to douse the flames using a ‘Bambi Bucket’.

INDIA bloc plans five Prime Ministers in five years, says PM Modi

PM Modi on Saturday said that if the Opposition INDIA bloc gets a majority to form a government following the general election, then the alliance has plans of appointing five Prime Ministers with one PM every year.  “If the INDIA bloc gets a majority to form the Union government for the entire term, it is planning to have five Prime Ministers with one PM each year,” Mr. Modi said while addressing a public gathering in western Maharashtra’s Kolhapur.

Rahul, Priyanka urged to contest polls from Amethi and Rae Bareli

Members of the central election committee (CEC) members of the Congress strongly urged the Congress leadership to field former president Rahul Gandhi and General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to contest from Amethi and Rae Bareli. The final decision was left Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge and the Gandhi siblings.

2024 polls an opportunity to teach divisive forces a lesson: Yogi

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said the Samajwadi Party and the Congress sympathised with the mafia and forced the common people to endure their misrule. “This election is giving you an opportunity to teach these parties tough lessons electorally,” said Mr. Adityanath at a rally in Hathras for BJP candidate Anup Pradhan Valmiki.

Congress accuses Anurag Thakur of violating Model Code of Conduct, seeks EC action

The Congress complained to the Election Commission (EC) against Union Minister Anurag Thakur for his “outrageous” remarks made at a poll rally, and alleged that it violated the Model Code of Conduct (MCC). Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said that the party has sought an “immediate and meaningful” action against Mr. Thakur, failing which they will “name and shame the offenders”.

Lok Sabha 2024: Ujjwal Nikam replaces Poonam Mahajan as BJP’s Mumbai North Central candidate

The BJP announced on Saturday its decision to replace incumbent Lok Sabha MP Poonam Mahajan, daughter of former Union Minister late Pramod Mahajan, with lawyer Ujjwal Deorai Nikam for the Mumbai North Central Lok Sabha seat. Mr. Nikam, a known figure in the legal circles, has served as a government counsel in the Mumbai terror attacks case.

20 Cambodian soldiers killed in ammunition explosion at a military base

Twenty soldiers were killed and several others injured in an ammunition explosion at a base in the west of Cambodia on April 27 afternoon, Prime Minister Hun Manet said. Mr. Hun Manet said in a Facebook post that he was “deeply shocked” when he received the news of the explosion at the base in Kampong Speu province.

Russia renews attacks on the Ukrainian energy sector as Kyiv launches drones at southern Russia

Russia launched a barrage of missiles against Ukraine overnight, in attacks that appeared to target the country’s energy infrastructure. Meanwhile, Russia said its air defence systems had intercepted more than 60 Ukrainian drones over the southern Krasnodar region.

U.S. intelligence believes Putin probably didn’t order Navalny to be killed: Report

U.S. intelligence agencies have determined that Russian President Vladimir Putin probably didn’t order opposition politician Alexei Navalny killed at an Arctic prison camp in February, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday. Mr. Navalny, 47 when he died, was Mr. Putin’s fiercest domestic critic. 

Centre allows 99.5k tons of onion exports to 6 neighbouring nations

The Centre said it has allowed exports of 99,500 tonnes of onions, mainly sourced from Maharashtra, to six neighbouring countries despite the ban on shipments. The Centre has also allowed exports of 2,000 tonnes of white onion cultivated, especially, for export markets in the Middle East and some European countries.

U.S. food regulator gathering information on MDH, Everest spices after alleged contamination

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is gathering information on products of Indian spice makers MDH and Everest after Hong Kong halted sales of some of their products for allegedly containing high levels of a cancer-causing pesticide.”The FDA is aware of the reports and is gathering additional information about the situation,” an FDA spokesperson told Reuters.

India set to sign trade deal with Oman to expand its Middle East ties

India and Oman will sign a trade deal in the coming months, two Indian government officials said, as New Delhi seeks to expand its ties in the Middle East, where rising tensions are putting major shipping routes at risk. “It will help India with a strategic partner and access to key trade routes in a volatile region,” one official told Reuters.

IPL-17: LSG vs RR | Samson, Jurel ace the chase as Royals pull further away

Sanju Samson (71 n.o., 33b, 7×4, 4×6) and Dhruv Jurel (52 n.o., 34b, 5×4, 2×6) scripted Rajasthan Royals’ umpteenth turn of the plot this Indian Premier League, and took the table topper to a seven-wicket victory over Lucknow Super Giants at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Stadium in Lucknow on Sunday.

IPL-17: DC vs MI | Fraser-McGurk’s blistering knock helps Delhi Capitals see off Mumbai Indians in a runfest

The trend of gargantuan totals — in Indian Premier League in general and at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in particular — continued. So did that of Delhi Capitals winning at home. Riding on Jake Fraser-McGurk’s pyrotechnics up front and Tristan Stubbs’ strong finish, DC posted 257 for four against Mumbai Indians. Despite the MI power-hitters clearing boundaries frequently, the Capitals pace troika of Khaleel Ahmed, Mukesh Kumar, and Rasikh Salam Dar picked wickets at regular intervals to control the game.

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Watch | Foreign interference in elections | Is there a basis for India’s fears?

As election season takes off in India, allegations by PM Modi and EAM Jaishankar of foreign interference from the West heat up the campaign – we will look at the history of such allegations worldwide, and whether theres basis for New Delhi’s present concerns.

Hello and Welcome to WorldView- as Elections get under way in India, diplomatic activity may be on the decline- but undiplomatic activity is in the spotlight- as the PM and EAM accuse global powers and western media of running interference in Indian elections

What really is of concern to New Delhi?

1. Reactions in US, Germany and even the UN, that spoke about the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, and then perhaps for the first time, spoke of the need for “free and fair elections” in India

2. The release of Human Rights reports, especially during election season by the US and EU parliament.

Pg 8 of EU Parliament Resolution on India Human Rights concerns referred to divisive speeches by leaders

In the US, Secretary of State Antony Blinken released a report this week that said there are significant human rights abuses- spoke of lynchings, Manipur violence and several other issues in India

The MEA response was tough:

“This report, as per our understanding, is deeply biased and reflects a very poor understanding of India. We attach no value to it and urge you also to do the same.”

Then, there’s the worry that embassies and diplomats are interfering in India’s internal politics- there have long been allegations by this government on Pakistan, including in Gujarat elections in the past, more recently the government accused Canadian officials based in India of interfering in India’s internal affairs, and then ordered the High Commission to downsize numbers. This was in the context of the allegations over the assassination Nijjar and of the plot against Pannun in the US, that the government’s high-level panel continues to investigate.

Finally, there is the barrage of criticism of Indian elections and democracy in the Western media that has upset the government- despite PM Modi giving interviews to foreign publications like the Financial Times and Newsweek, here’s a list compiled by former CEO of Prasar Bharati

In Ireland, India’s Ambassador came in for criticism for over-stretching his mandate with a response to the Irish Times, where he defended the current government but also criticised previous Indian governments leading to calls for his sacking from the opposition

The Indian worries over foreign interference have yet to be proven, but globally there are many such fears- especially as more than 60 countries around the world go to polls this year. according to an Oxford University Study: Industrialized Disinformation 2020 Global Inventory of Organized Social Media Manipulation, at least 81 countries’s governments attempt cyber manipulation for propaganda and disinformation. Historically it was the US and Russia that were accused of manipulating one in 9 countries’ elections during the Cold War

1. This week U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed a bill that forces Tik Tok owner Byte dance to sell the company in the next year or face being banned, as the US Congress believes it is used by China’s ruling communist party to influence elections in the US and spy on Americans, a charge the company denies.

2. In 2018, the US Senate released a report that concluded Russia’s spy agencies used Facebook ads to manipulate US voters in the election Donald Trump won in 2016. 

3. Canada just completed an investigation on foreign interference during previous elections, which its NSA said countries including Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan and even India may have tried to manipulate. Eventually, however, its report did not find conclusive evidence against India, but did against China. UK conducted a similar enquiry last year

4. This month Microsoft said in a report that Microsoft has issued a warning that Chinese state backed cyber troops will attempt to disrupt elections in the US, South Korea and India this year using artificial intelligence-generated content, and with support from North Korean groups following a trial run during the presidential election in Taiwan- however, Taiwan elected an anti-China president

.5. In India’s neighbourhood, India is often accused, especially in Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka of leaning in favour of one party or another, to oust anti-India leaders. While these have yet to be proven, the allegations have been made by senior regional leaders like Rajapaksa, Yameen, Khaleda Zia.

6. The European Union too has released a report on its fears over manipulation during upcoming EU parliament elections in June, called Combating foreign interference in elections

7. Of course the major allegations historically made are against the two cold war powers- US and Russia- The US for elections in South America, in what were then called Banana Republics, and Russia in Europe, including famously helping a West German leader survive a confidence vote in 1972.

What does Indian diplomacy need to do:

1. It is necessary to do researched studies rather than make allegations of a foreign hand without substantiating them with proof- this speaks to the country’s diplomatic credibility

2. In the age of AI and Deepfakes, it is important to improve India’s technology security capabilities, and techonology diplomacy to share best practices

3. Counter external influences by building consumer and cyber voter awareness – and share concerns with other democracies

WorldView Take: The best response to interference and criticism is to walk the talk on democracy, and on building democratic practices into India’s diplomatic culture as well. Since independence, India has been seen as a country that is democratic pluralistic and rule-abiding- which is why many speak of “shared values” with India. Over sensitivity to criticism, invoking an imaginary foreign hand, or expressing loyalty to a government not the State or nation are not exemplars of democratic diplomatic culture, however.

Reading Recommendations:

1. Rigged: America, Russia, and One Hundred Years of Covert Electoral Interference by David Shimer

2. Meddling in the Ballot Box and

When the Great Power Gets a Vote: The Effects of Great Power Electoral Interventions on Election Results by Dov H. Levin

3. Rules and Allies: Foreign Election Interventions Kindle Edition by Johannes Bubeck Nikolay Marinov – looking at 300 elections in 100 countries

4. How to Stand Up to a Dictator by Maria Ressa

5. The Digital Divide in Democracy: How Tech Shapes (and Warps) Elections by Sebastian Whitman

6. Deep Disinformation: Can AI-Generated Fake News Swing an Election? by Ashley Parker Owens

7. Foreign Electoral Interference Normative Implications in Light of International Law, Human Rights, and Democratic Theory- Nils Reimann

8. Election Interference: International Law and the Future of Democracy by Jens David Ohlin

Script and Presentation: Suhasini Haidar

Production: Gayatri Menon and Shibu Narayan



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The Hindu Morning Digest, March 20, 2024

Lokpal orders CBI probe into charges against Mahua Moitra

The Lokpal has directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to further probe the allegations made against former Lok Sabha member Mahua Moitra and submit a report on its findings within six months. “After careful evaluation and consideration of the entire material on record, there remains no doubt regarding the fact that the allegations levelled against the RPS (Respondent Public Servant), most of which are supported by cogent evidence, are extremely serious in nature, especially in view of the position held by her,” said the Lokpal’s judgment.

PM Modi, BJP slam Rahul Gandhi’s remarks on ‘Shakti’ as evidence that the Congress is anti-Hindu and anti-women

For the second successive day, the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi attacked the Congress party and Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi over his remarks on ‘Shakti’, making the issue an important theme in the party’s campaign for the Lok Sabha election. In Salem, the Prime Minister alleged at a public rally that the Congress and its allies, including Tamil Nadu’s ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), were out to “destroy Shakti”, but asserted that “they will get destroyed” instead.

Lok Sabha election | Congress plans to reach every household with 25 guarantees and ‘paanch nyay

Asserting that the BJP’s guarantees for 2024 Lok Sabha polls would be another “India shining” moment, the Congress Working Committee (CWC) on March 19 urged its office-bearers to ensure that the party’s 25 guarantees and five pillars of justice or paanch nyay reached every household in India. After a three-hour discussion, the CWC approved the manifesto that will also include a section on electoral bonds. Former party chief Rahul Gandhi told the closed door CWC meeting that the electoral bond scheme had “exposed the BJP’s corruption and extortion tactics”.

SC directs States and Union Territories to give ration cards to 8 crore migrant workers

The Supreme Court on March 19 took exception to the delays in the implementation of its April 2023 order to provide ration cards to about eight crore migrant workers registered in the eShram portal but not covered under the National Food Security Act. The portal has 28.6 crore registrants. Of this, 20.63 crore find place in ration card data. A Bench led by Justice Hima Kohli directed States and Union Territories to provide ration cards to the remaining eight crore migrant and unorganised sector workers registered on the eShram portal in two months.

Schoolchildren at PM Modi’s Coimbatore road show | FIR registered, action to be taken against headmaster, report called for

The Sai Baba Colony Police registered a First Information Report (FIR) on Tuesday, against the management of a government-aided school for bringing schoolchildren to participate in a roadshow led by BJP leader and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Coimbatore on March 18.

Congress poll panel clears Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Kharge’s son-in-law as Lok Sabha candidates

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Congress leader and member from Baharampur in the outgoing Lok Sabha, is among the candidates whose names were cleared by the party’s central election committee (CEC). The CEC also cleared the name of Radhakrishnan D., the Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge’s son-in-law, as the party’s candidate for Gulbarga. Mr. Kharge had represented the seat in 2009 and 2014, but lost it in 2019.

Regulator snubs revenue projections at Adani-controlled Thiruvananthapuram Airport

The Adani-controlled Thiruvananthapuram Airport’s projection of revenue from non-aeronautical services such as the sale of food and beverages — used to subsidise costs levied on airlines and passengers — is just a “miniscule” 12% of the norm, according to the country’s airport tariff regulator. In fact, it is only a third of what the airport earned before privatisation.

Activist calls for border march in Ladakh to mark land lost to China

Around 10,000 people from Ladakh will march to the border along China this month to showcase how much land has been lost to the neighbouring country, climate activist and education reformer Sonam Wangchuk said on Tuesday. Mr. Wangchuk has been protesting in open in sub-zero temperature in Leh, surviving only on salt and water for the past 14 days, to demand constitutional safeguards for the Union Territory.

Railways earned ₹1,230 crore from cancelled waiting list tickets in span of 3 years

The Indian Railways clocked earnings of ₹1,229.85 crore from cancelled waiting list tickets between 2021 and 2024 (till January), a reponse to a query under the Right to Information Act has revealed. The Railway Ministry response to the RTI application filed by Madhya Pradesh-based activist Vivek Pandey also showed that earnings from this source have increased year on year.

21 lakh SIM cards in use have fake proof: DoT

At least 21 lakh SIM cards have been activated using fake proof of identity or proof of address documents, according to analysis carried out by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). In an alert sent to Bharti Airtel, MTNL, BSNL, Reliance Jio, and Vodafone Idea, the DoT provided a list of suspicious subscribers and called for an urgent re-verification of their documents, and disconnection of those found to be bogus.

Army repurposes 21 Signal Group to research futuristic communications tech

The Army has transformed the 21 Signals Group into the Signals Technology Evaluation and Adaptation Group (STEAG). It will function as an elite technology Unit which will research and evaluate futuristic communication technologies like AI, 5G, 6G, machine learning and quantum technologies for defence applications. 

To solve for dietary preference of 100% vegetarians, Zomato introduces a ‘pure veg’ fleet

Food delivery platform Zomato on March 19 launched a “pure veg” delivery fleet that would deliver orders from restaurants that do not serve meat, fish or egg-based dishes. The fleet’s personnel are shown in promotional images wearing green uniforms and with green boxes on their bikes, and the company will not assign “pure veg” delivery partners to any orders from restaurants where food is not exclusively vegetarian.

Former Mumbai police officer gets life imprisonment in fake encounter case

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday awarded a life sentence to former Mumbai police officer Pradeep Sharma in the case related to the fake encounter killing of an alleged member of convicted gangster Chhota Rajan in 2006. The court also upheld the life sentence to 13 others, 12 of whom are police personnel (Dilip Palande, Nitin Sartape, Ganesh Harpude, Anand Patade, Prakash Kadam, Devidas Sakpal, Pandurang Kokam, Ratnakar Kamble, Sandeep Sardar, Tanaji Desai, Pradeep Suryavanshi and Vinayak Shinde) and one a civilian (Hitesh Solanki).

Police shoot dead man accused of murdering two minors in Uttar Pradesh

Police shot dead a man accused of murdering two boys aged 12 and 6 in Budaun district of Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday. A mob set ablaze a shop belonging to the accused man. Tension gripped Badaun district as news of the murder spread. The accused man, Mohd. Sajid, is said to have slit the throats of the minors who were brothers and also injured a third brother, aged 8, who managed to escape and share the horror with his parents. 

UN chief ‘alarmed’ by reports civilians killed in Myanmar air strikes

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres has said he is “alarmed” by reports of ongoing Myanmar military air strikes on villages in Rakhine state, where locals told AFP more than 20 people were killed on March 18. Clashes have rocked Myanmar’s western Rakhine state since the Arakan Army (AA) attacked security forces in November, ending a ceasefire that had largely held since the military’s 2021 coup.

Trump says Jews who vote for Democrats ‘hate Israel’ and their religion

Former President Donald Trump on Monday charged that Jews who vote for Democrats “hate Israel” and hate “their religion,” igniting a firestorm of criticism from the White House and Jewish leaders. Mr. Trump, in an interview, had been asked about Democrats’ growing criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his handling of the war in Gaza as the civilian death toll continues to mount.

World Meteorological Organisation confirms 2023 as ‘hottest year’

In line with a host of observations by climate agencies in the preceding three months, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has officially confirmed 2023 to be the hottest year on record. The State of Global Climate Report, published Tuesday, stated that the global average near-surface temperature was 1.45 degrees Celsius (with a margin of uncertainty of ± 0.12 degrees Celsius) above the pre-industrial baseline. It was the warmest ten-year period on record.

Israel may be using starvation as ‘weapon of war’: U.N.

The U.N. said on March 19 that Israel’s severe restrictions on aid into war-ravaged Gaza coupled with its military offensive could amount to using starvation as a “weapon of war”, which would be a “war crime”. United Nations human rights chief Volker Turk denounced the rampant hunger and looming famine in Gaza.

IPL | I would like to see Dhoni smash the ball the way he loves to, says Vijay

Sameer Rizvi made the headlines in December 2023 when he became the most expensive uncapped player at the IPL auction. He was bought by Chennai Super Kings for a whopping 8.40 cr. The promising youngster from Uttar Pradesh is known for his power-hitting abilities in the middle-order, making him the ideal player to fill the role that Ambati Rayudu played for the five-time champion.

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The Hindu Morning Digest: December 28, 2023

Government working to make cooperatives strong part of rural life: PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said his government is working to make cooperatives a strong part of rural life, asserting that they are being scaled up massively in sectors like agriculture and fisheries after making a mark in fields such as dairy and sugar production. In an interaction with beneficiaries of the ongoing ‘Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra‘, he said the change in the lives of crores of beneficiaries of his government’s welfare schemes in the last 10 years has been a story of courage, satisfaction and dreams.

Ayodhya railway junction renamed as Ayodhya Dham

Ayodhya railway junction in Uttar Pradesh has been renamed as Ayodhya Dham junction, local MP Lallu Singh said on Wednesday. The announcement came days before the inauguration of the redevelopment railway station by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In a post on X, Mr. Singh said, “Ayodhya Junction has become Ayodhya Dham Junction.” Under the guidance of Prime Minister Modi, the renaming has been done respecting public sentiments, he said.

President Vladimir Putin invites PM Modi to visit Russia

President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Russia next year as External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar called on the Russian leader at the Kremlin. “We will be glad to see our friend, Mr. Prime Minister Modi in Russia,” Mr. Putin told EAM Jaishankar. Mr. Jaishankar, who is here on a five-day official visit to Russia, earlier met with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.

After rout in Hindi heartland, Congress reviews readiness of State units for Lok Sabha poll

The Congress leadership on Wednesday held a meeting with leaders of the party’s Andhra Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh units to discuss its strategy for the upcoming Lok Sabha election. Party president Mallikarjun Kharge, former chief Rahul Gandhi, and general secretary (organisation) K.C. Venugopal are among the top leaders from the Congress who have been reviewing the election preparedness of various States. On Tuesday, the party high command had reviewed electoral strategies with the units of Bihar, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

Amrit Bharat fare for second, sleeper class 15-17% higher than normal express trains

The minimum ticket price to travel on Amrit Bharat Express trains for a destination within one km to 50 km is ₹35, exclusive of the reservation fee and other charges, the Railway Board has informed all zones. It has issued a circular on the fare structure of Amrit Bharat trains and attached a “Fare Table” with the distance slabs and ticket prices for second-class and sleeper-class passengers. As the first Amrit Bharat train, which will be flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh on December 30, has only second-class and sleeper-class compartments, the Railway Ministry is yet to work out the fare table for the air-conditioned classes, sources said.

Supreme Court forms panel to prepare SOP for adjournments

The Supreme Court has constituted a committee of judges for preparing a standard operating procedure (SOP) for lawyers seeking adjournment of proceedings. The panel has invited suggestions of the Bar and other stakeholders on the issue. The decision to form a committee came after the Supreme Court Bar Association and the Supreme Court Advocate on Record Association raised concern over circulars issued in December about the discontinuation of the practice of circulation of adjournment slips.

Delhi Police arrests former cricketer for duping several 5-star hotels

Having cheated multiple five-star hotels and resorts of lakhs of rupees as well as cricketer Rishabh Pant of ₹1.63 crore, a conman was arrested from Delhi airport while trying to flee the country, the police said on Wednesday. Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) Ravikant Kumar said Mrinank Singh was planning to fly to Hong Kong on Monday, but immigration officials detained the 25-year-old as a lookout circular had been issued against the accused and handed him to the police.

Hasina announces Awami League’s poll manifesto, pledges to build ‘Smart Bangladesh’

Bangladesh Prime Minister and ruling Awami League’s president Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday launched her party’s poll manifesto, pledging to build a “Smart Bangladesh” if elected for a fourth consecutive term in the January 7 general elections, being boycotted by the main opposition BNP. “Come; once again allow us to serve you by voting for the ‘boat’, the election symbol of the Awami League,” Ms. Hasina, along with senior party leaders and sympathisers, said while unveiling her party’s poll manifesto in a crowded press conference.

BJP had no role in Ram Janmabhoomi movement, says Uddhav’s Sena faction

A war of words has erupted between the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena (UBT) and the ruling BJP over the upcoming Ram Mandir inauguration, after Mr. Thackeray was not invited to the event slated for January 22 next year. Sena (UBT) spokesperson Sanjay Raut on Wednesday questioned the BJP’s “actual” contribution to the Ram Janmabhoomi movement and the demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya in December 1992, while accusing it of having forgotten the Shiv Sena’s and Bal Thackeray’s contribution.

Won’t take any step that hurts Samajwadi Party, says Pawar on Mayawati’s induction into INDIA bloc

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Wednesday reiterated that it was not necessary for the Opposition INDIA bloc to announce a prime ministerial face as an alternative to Narendra Modi. Speaking in Maharashtra’s Amravati district, Mr. Pawar, replying to a query on the induction of Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) into the INDIA bloc, made it clear that the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party (SP) was the alliance’s important ally in the Uttar Pradesh and that it would not take any decision that would hurt it. 

Rajya Sabha MP writes to Railways Minister over avoiding exuberant expenditure on PM’s selfie points

Expressing dismay over the fact that the Central Railway spent nearly ₹1.62 crore on installing selfie photo booths with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cut out image, Member of Parliament from Rajya Sabha Dr. V. Sivadasan wrote a letter to Union Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw.  Dr. Sivadasan requested urgent intervention from Ministry of Railways so that wastage of money for partisan political propaganda is avoided. The Hindu reported on December 27 that Central Bureau of Communication under Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had approved L1 contract rates for installing temporary selfie booths at ₹1.25 lakh per installation and ₹6.25 lakh for every permanent installation, to be installed at railway stations. 

Axis Bank moves NCLT to seek insolvency proceedings against Zee Learn

Private sector lender Axis Bank has filed a petition against Zee Learn before the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) seeking insolvency proceedings against the the education services provider firm. The company has received a notice from the Mumbai bench of the NCLT in this regard, Zee Learn said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday. “A petition under Section 7 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 has been filed by Axis Bank Ltd to initiate Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP) of the Company before the National Company Law Tribunal, Mumbai,” it said. The company is compiling information to verify the facts claimed.

Parliament security breach case: Accused Neelam Azad moves Delhi HC, calls police remand illegal

Neelam Azad, an accused arrested in the December 13 Parliament security breach case, on Wednesday approached the Delhi High Court alleging her police remand was illegal as she was not allowed to consult a legal practitioner of her choice to defend her during the trial court proceedings. In her petition, seeking a writ of habeas corpus directing her production before the high court as well as an order to “set her at liberty”, Azad said not allowing her to consult a lawyer of her choice amounted to violation of her fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution, making the remand order unlawful. The trial court has remanded her in police custody till January 5.

Union Minister Anurag Thakur dismisses Congress’ Bharat Nyay Yatra, evokes 1984 riots

Union Minister Anurag Thakur dismissed the Congress party’s announcement on Wednesday to hold a ‘Bharat Nyay Yatra’, labelling it a spurious attempt to provide justice by “those who could not provide justice to the victims of the anti-Sikh riots of 1984”. The Congress had, at a press conference earlier in the day, announced it would be undertaking the Bharat Nyay Yatra, to be led by Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi from Manipur to Mumbai, passing through 14 States and 85 districts from the east to the west of India in 67 days, beginning January 14.

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Morning Digest | 10 civilians dead, 22 army men still missing in Sikkim, rescue operations on; Media bodies write to CJI, call for norms on interrogation of journalists and more

A flood affected locality at Singtam, in Gangtok district, Wednesday, October. 4, 2023.
| Photo Credit: PTI

10 dead, 22 army men among 82 missing as flash flood wreaks havoc in Sikkim; PM Modi dials CM

At least ten people died and 80 others, including 22 army personnel, went missing on Wednesday after a cloudburst over Lhonak Lake in north Sikkim triggered a flash flood in the Teesta River basin, officials said. All 10 who died have been identified as civilians including 3 of the dead who were washed up in north Bengal, they said adding that one of the 23 army men who had gone missing in the morning was rescued later.

UAPA case against NewsClick for plot to disrupt sovereignty of India: police

A day after the Delhi Police arrested Prabir Purkayastha, founder and Editor-in-Chief of NewsClick, and Amit Chakraborty, Human Resources head of the news portal, a government source told The Hindu that the police were investigating a “terror case that has Chinese links.” The foreign remittances received by the news portal are already being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) since 2021. The source said that the fresh terror case registered by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police was being investigated by multiple agencies.

NewsClick raids | Media bodies write to CJI, call for norms on interrogation of journalists

Over a dozen media bodies on Wednesday sought Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud’s intervention on the issue of raids against those linked to NewsClick, a digital news platform. Media persons and activists also turned up in large numbers at the Press Club of India to protest the police action. In a letter to the Chief Justice, the media organisations urged the courts to consider framing norms to discourage the seizure of journalists’ phones and laptops on a “whim”; and to develop guidelines for the interrogation of journalists and for seizures from them, to ensure that “these are not undertaken as fishing expeditions with no bearing to an actual offence”.

With Bihar caste survey, Nitish Kumar has set the national agenda, says JD(U) chief

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has set the national agenda ahead of the 2024 general election with the caste survey conducted in the State, Janata Dal (United)‘s Rajiv Ranjan Singh said on Wednesday. In an interview with The Hindu, he also criticised the BJP for alleging large-scale irregularities in the survey’s data collection process during an all-party meeting in Patna on Tuesday. 

Batches of India-manufactured syrups for cough, allergic rhinitis found contaminated: CDSCO

At least five batches of syrups for cough and allergic rhinitis of two Indian manufacturers — one Gujarat-based and one Tamil Nadu-based — have been found to contain higher than permissible levels of contaminants — diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol, as per a recent report released by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO). Previously the World Health Organisation (WHO) too had issued alerts on contamination in cold-cough syrups exported by India and said these two contaminants were found in the drug.

Activists call for defeat of BJP to save MGNREGA from neglect

MGNREGA Sangharsh Morcha, a collective of workers, activists and academics have called for the defeat of the BJP government in the 2024 general elections to save the MGNREGS scheme. The various groups had just concluded their two-day national convention where the state of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act was discussed.

New defence indigenisation list has futuristic weapons, systems

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday released the fifth Positive Indigenisation List (PIL) of 98 items which will be procured by the three armed services from indigenous suppliers in a staggered manner as per specified timelines. He also released the Indian Navy’s updated indigenisation roadmap, named Swavlamban 2.0.

Akshata Murty makes U.K. political stage debut for ‘best friend’ PM Sunak

Britain’s Indian First Lady, Akshata Murty, made a surprise debut on the political stage on October 4 when she stepped out to introduce “best friend” Rishi Sunak for his maiden speech as U.K. Prime Minister to the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.

Former Russian journalist sentenced in absentia for Ukraine war criticism

A court in Moscow on Wednesday handed a former state TV journalist an 8 1/2-year prison term in absentia for protesting Russia’s war in Ukraine, the latest in a months-long crackdown against dissent that has intensified since Moscow’s invasion 20 months ago. Marina Ovsyannikova was charged with spreading false information about the Russian army, a criminal offense under a law adopted shortly after the Kremlin sent troops to Ukraine. 

Nepal town imposes lockdown and beefs up security to prevent clashes between Hindus and Muslims

Despite quickly escalating tensions between Hindus and Muslims, the night passed peacefully after a lockdown was imposed and security heightened in a city in southwest Nepal, officials said. Trouble began in the regional hub city of Nepalgunj over the weekend after a Hindu boy posted a status about Muslims on social media. Muslims protested the status inside the region’s main government administrator’s office building, burned tires on the streets and blocked traffic.

Lawyers of Imran Khan in Pakistan oppose his closed-door trial over revealing official secrets

Lawyers for Pakistan’s imprisoned former Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday opposed his closed-door trial in a case in which he is accused of revealing state secrets after his 2022 ouster, saying it’s aimed at convicting the popular opposition leader quickly.

Moratorium under IBC to exempt aircraft and engines, govt. notifies

In a big relief for aircraft lessors, the government has notified that the protection offered to a corporate debtor from recovery of dues under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016 will not cover aircraft, helicopters and engines. If implemented retrospectively, the move may impact Go First’s insolvency resolution proceedings under which the National Company Law Tribunal had granted it a blanket moratorium in May to shield it from lessors and creditors and also restrained the DGCA from accepting any applications for de-registration of aircraft from any lessors.

Tata Group to focus on coffee as core business category for future

Tata Group plans to intensify its focus on branded coffee as part of its strategy of “building core categories for the future.” Tea and salts have so far been Tata’s core categories and the company said it was currently in the process of building more core categories for the future and coffee was clearly a prominent one.

Asian Games | Why did so many decisions go wrong, questions Neeraj

Never before has Neeraj Chopra questioned officiating in any meet at any level. The Olympic and World Champion has preferred to let his performance do the talking so when he says “gadbad to hai” it speaks volumes about the level of officiating in athletics at the Asian Games.

Asian Games | Neeraj defends title, quartermilers take gold as India manages best-ever medal haul in athletics

Neeraj Chopra defended his Asian Games title with a season’s best throw of 88.88m and Kishore Kumar Jena managed a personal best of 87.54m as India completed a one-two in javelin but not before both got the short end of dodgy officiating as India finished the track & field assignments here with a best-ever haul of 29 medals including six on Wednesday – two golds and four silvers – for second spot on the table by numbers.

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Opinion: In No-Trust Debate, Signs That BJP Is Rattled

A fundamental question that one may ask in the context of the recent no-confidence motion in parliament is, why our Constitution makers chose a parliamentary form of democracy for India. The simple answer is that it was an attempt to make the executive accountable to the people through parliament, which reflects the sovereign will of the people. It is why the opposition succeeded in forcing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to speak on Manipur, where a civil war-like situation has prevailed for more than three months. The Prime Minister, known for speaking on sundry issues, has been quiet on Manipur.

In this session of parliament, the opposition demanded that Manipur be discussed and that the Prime Minister make a statement. The government was ready to discuss Manipur under Rule 176 for a short duration discussion but the opposition insisted Manipur was too big, that all business should be suspended for a discussion under Rule 267, and that the Prime Minister should speak on behalf of the government.

Because of the conflict between the opposition and the government, several days of parliament were washed out. When the opposition realised the government would not agree to their demand, it chose the path of a no-confidence motion in which the Prime Minister, mandatorily, has to speak in the end. Indeed, that is what happened. The Prime Minister had to reply and he did talk about Manipur. In this context, the opposition could claim victory.

But what the opposition actually gained from the entire exercise is a matter of debate. The Prime Minister seized the opportunity to turn the tables on the opposition, called it names, tried to depict the parties as good-for-nothing and boasted that his third consecutive term is assured.

It is important, however, to realise that it is no mean feat for the opposition to force the Prime Minister, who was silent on Manipur, to speak and make him accountable to the people of India. Let us not forget that this happened at a time when serious questions are being raised by critics and well-wishers who claim India’s democracy is no longer as robust as it used to be, and that it has turned into an ‘electoral autocracy’.

It could well be argued that the opposition did not do its homework and failed to put the government on the mat. Due to the lack of coordination between the different constituents of the INDIA alliance, the opposition’s charge was disorganised and could not effectively expose the mishandling of both the centre and the state government.

What has, however, been ignored is that if the opposition was so feeble and uninspiring – as projected by a section of the TV media – then why did the Prime Minister have to spend more than 70% of his speech ridiculing the opposition?

I don’t remember a more uninspiring speech by any Prime Minister on the floor of the house. PM Modi looked tired and his speech was laboured, until the opposition walked out in protest. After the opposition’s walkout, the Prime Minister suddenly regained his mojo, but by then it was too late. The only explanation for spending so much time on the Congress and the opposition would be that he is no longer confident about the 2024 general elections, and the sudden grouping of 26 political parties has taken him by surprise.

He was not required to mention the Bengaluru meet of the opposition where the name INDIA was chosen for the alliance. He said the last rites of the UPA were performed to hoodwink the people of India. In his opinion, it is an effort to hide their sins and deceive people to capture power. He warned that people should not forget that these are the people who had looted the country in the past. He boasted that his government would again win a majority and that he is destined to make India the third largest economy in the world – like, in 9 years, he made India not only the fastest growing economy but also fifth largest.

This is how PM Modi has set the tone for the 2024 national election. He used parliament to build a narrative for the election. It had three major components.

One, the Prime Minister is aware that the Congress, with 12 crore votes and a 19% vote share across the country, is the only party with an all-India footprint and the potential to emerge as an alternative to the BJP at the Centre. Ten years is a long enough for anti-incumbency to build against any government. So, to counter that, it is important for him to discredit the Congress and kill any possibility of it posing a serious challenge, especially in the north and western India where the BJP and the Congress are direct rivals.

Two, historically, whenever a fragmented opposition has come together, it has created problems for the ruling party. In the past, the Congress suffered, and the BJP knows that with 37% votes, it is vulnerable too. Therefore, the Prime Minister spent a considerable time mocking INDIA and reminding people that the name INDIA, despite sounding pious, is an opportunist alliance of corrupt parties and leaders who have come together to fulfil their vested interest. Their slogan – “to save democracy, save the Constitution and save the Idea of India” – was merely a smokescreen to grab power, he said.

Three, if the Prime Minister invested a significant amount of time on painting a negative image of the opposition, then he also projected himself as someone who is development-oriented and the only one to Make India Great Again. He talked about how, during his tenure, India’s stature had skyrocketed globally. India, he said, is no longer a pushover.

The debate in parliament has also ensured that the opposition, unlike in 2019, is determined and the fight for 2024 will not be easy for the BJP.

Rahul Gandhi’s fierce criticism is a warning. His attack on nationalism is an attempt to convey to the people that the government’s claims of being the epitome of nationalism are hollow, a vote-grabbing tactic, and that their commitment to “Bharat Mata” is devoid of any spiritual awakening. It is just an excuse to use innocent citizens for electoral gains. It will be interesting to watch what shape this war takes in the coming months. What is certain is that this time, the election will have all the trappings of a blockbuster movie. What we saw in parliament was only the teaser.

(Ashutosh is author of ‘Hindu Rashtra’ and Editor, satyahindi.com.)

Disclaimer: These are the personal opinions of the author.

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Morning Digest: May 16, 2023

Karnataka: Power play on for CM post, Shivakumar cancels Delhi visit, Cong says decision by Tuesday evening

The suspense over the new Karnataka Chief Minister intensified on Monday as State Congress president D. K. Shivakumar cancelled his visit to the national capital citing health issues after he and Mr. Siddaramaiah, both frontrunners for the top post, were called by the central leadership for discussions. The three central observers, who interacted with party MLAs on their choice for the CM’s post after the Congress Legislature Party meeting on Sunday, briefed party Chief Mallikarjun Kharge and submitted their report. After the meeting, Randeep Surjewala, AICC in charge for Karnataka, told reporters that the party will announce its decision by Tuesday evening. “The observers have submitted the report to the Congress president. We will hold consultations with all senior state leaders, including Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar, and after that, a decision will be taken by the Congress president,” he said.

PM Modi to distribute about 71,000 appointment letters

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will distribute about 71,000 appointment letters on Tuesday to those joining various government departments and also address them virtually. So far, Modi has distributed appointment letters to 2.9 lakh persons and their numbers will go to 3.6 lakh after Tuesday’s event. Besides these programmes, the Prime Minister has been part of several ‘Rozgar Mela’ oganised by many states, mostly those ruled by the BJP and allies.

SEBI’s affidavit triggers war of words on probe on Adani

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) denied in the Supreme Court on May 15 allegations of investigating the Adani Group since 2016 as “factually baseless”, triggering a war of words between the Congress and the Ministry of Finance.

Adani-Hindenburg row: SC to hear SEBI’s plea on extension of probe time on Tuesday

The Supreme Court adjourned to Tuesday the hearing on a plea of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) seeking an extension of six months to complete a probe into allegations of stock price manipulation by the Adani group. The hearing on the market regulator’s plea and PILs could not take place on Monday due to paucity of time and on account of the scheduled hearing of certain matters before a special bench at 3 pm. A Bench comprising Chief Justice D. Y. Chandrachud and justices P. S. Narasimha and J. B. Pardiwala on May 12 had said it would consider granting three more months to SEBI for concluding its probe into the allegations of stock price manipulation and lapses in regulatory disclosure.

SC to hear plea against release of movie ‘The Kerala Story’ on Tuesday

The Supreme Court said it will hear on Tuesday a plea challenging the Kerala High Court order refusing to stay the release of the movie ‘The Kerala Story’ which hit theatres on May 5. The appeal filed by journalist Qurban Ali was mentioned by senior advocate Kapil Sibal on Monday The bench comprising Chief Justice D. Y. Chandrachud and justices P S Narasimha and J B Pardiwala agreed to list it for hearing today but later said it will be taken up on May 16 due to the scheduled hearing of certain matters before a special bench at 3 pm on Monday.

Manoj Soni to take oath as UPSC chairman on Tuesday

Educationist Manoj Soni will take oath as the chairman of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) on Tuesday, an official said. Soni, who joined the Commission as a member on June 28, 2017, has been performing the duties of the UPSC chairman since April 5, 2022, he said on Monday. “He will be administered the oath of office and secrecy as chairman, UPSC on Tuesday by Smita Nagaraj, a senior most member in the Commission,” the official said.

Biden, congressional leaders likely to meet Tuesday for talks on raising the debt limit

US President Joe Biden and congressional leaders will likely resume talks on Tuesday at the White House over the debt limit, the president said on Sunday, as the nation continues to edge closer to its legal borrowing authority with no agreement in sight. The meeting was initially supposed to be on Friday but was abruptly postponed so staff-level talks could continue before Biden and the four congressional leaders huddled for a second time. Administration and congressional officials said on Sunday that a meeting has not been finalised, although Tuesday was the likeliest option as Biden returns to Washington on Monday and is scheduled to leave for the Group of 7 summit in Japan on Wednesday.

Assam: 5th deputy commissioners’ conference begins

A three-day deputy commissioners’ conference of all 31 districts of Assam began on Monday in Tinsukia and Dibrugarh, with discussions over various schemes and projects. “Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma is scheduled to attend the conference on Tuesday to discuss various issues related to public service. He is likely to spend the night in Tinsukia and be present on the closing day, too,” a senior official said. He said in the 5th Deputy Commissioners’ Conference, the DCs are divided into five groups.

France to host pro-nuclear meet to push for EU recognition of climate benefits

France will host a meeting of Ministers from 16 pro-nuclear European states on Tuesday aimed at coordinating the expansion of atomic power and urging the EU to recognise its role in meeting climate goals for 2050, documents seen by Reuters showed. The meeting in Paris on Tuesday will include EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson and representatives from 14 EU countries including France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, plus Italy as an observer and the United Kingdom as a non-EU invitee.

A month into Sudan’s brutal war, no end in sight

One month since Sudan’s conflict erupted, its capital is a desolate war zone where terrorised families huddle at home as gun battles rage, while the western Darfur region has descended into deadly chaos. Residents of Khartoum have endured weeks of desperate shortages of food and basic supplies, power blackouts, communications outages and runaway inflation. The capital of five million, long a place of relative stability, has become a shell of its former self. Charred aircraft lie on the airport tarmac, foreign embassies are shuttered and hospitals, banks, shops and wheat silos have been ransacked by looters.

Lahore High Court to hear Imran Khan’s bail plea on May 16; grants bail to his wife till May 23

Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan on May 15 appeared before the Lahore High Court, which fixed his bail hearing on Tuesday in the terrorism cases registered against him following his arrest in the Al-Qadir Trust corruption case that sparked violent protests by his supporters. Khan was accompanied by his wife Bushra Bibi, who was granted pre-arrest bail till May 23 by the high court in the Al-Qadir Trust case. “The LHC granted pre-arrest bail to Bushra Bibi till May 23 in the Al-Qadir Trust case. The court, however, fixed Khan’s bail plea for Tuesday in the terrorism cases registered against him after May 9 violence. The LHC Registrar’s Office has raised an objection for not attaching the arrested copies of Supreme Court and Islamabad High Court orders,” a court official told PTI.

Government supporters call for Pakistan chief justice to quit over releasing Imran Khan

More than 20,000 supporters of Pakistan’s government converged on the country’s Supreme Court on Monday, in a rare challenge to the nation’s judiciary. The demonstrators demanded the resignation of the chief justice for ordering the release of former Prime Minister Imran Khan in a graft case. The Pakistan Democratic Alliance, a grouping of 13 political parties affiliated with the ruling Pakistan Muslim League, called for the protests. The alliance was behind the joint action to oust Khan in a no-confidence vote in parliament in April 2022.

IPL 2023 | LSG look to halt Mumbai’s momentum in crucial clash

Mumbai Indians are on a roll in the business end of the tournament and Lucknow Super Giants will be aiming to halt their momentum on a tricky pitch in the IPL here on Tuesday. Mumbai Indians are third on the points table with 14 points and with a point less from same the number of games, LSG are holding on to the fourth spot. Both teams will be looking to get out of the danger zone as eight teams remain in the play-off contention.

D. K. Shivakumar will be in Delhi Tuesday for a discussion on Karnataka government formation, says his MP-brother

Karnataka State Congress president D K Shivakumar will reach Delhi on Tuesday for discussion with the party leadership on the government formation in the state, his brother and party MP D K Suresh said. Amid intense lobbying for the Chief Minister’s post, the Congress leadership called Shivakumar and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah — the two frontrunners — to Delhi for discussions on Monday. Siddaramaiah reached Delhi Monday afternoon, but Shivakumar cancelled his visit at the last minute citing health issues.

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Morning Digest: April 30, 2023

Home Ministry prepares Model Prisons Act 2023 to replace British-era law

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has prepared the ‘Model Prisons Act 2023’ that will replace a British-era law to overhaul the prison administration that will focus on the reformation and rehabilitation of inmates, it said on May 12. Among the salient features of the model Act are provisions of punishment for prisoners and jail staff for use of prohibited items such as mobile phones in jails, establishment and management of high security jails, open jail (open and semi-open), and provisions for protecting the society from the criminal activities of hardened criminals and habitual offenders.

Welfare without discrimination is true secularism: Modi

Giving a thrust to his welfare model, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that his government does not look at the religion or caste of beneficiaries while reaching out to them with various schemes and welfare programmes and there is no greater social justice than working for the happiness and convenience of the masses. He was in his home state Gujarat on Friday, for a day, to inaugurate and lay foundation stones for projects worth around ₹4,400 crore.

Indo-Pacific is a reality: S. Jaishankar in Dhaka 

The vision of the Indo Pacific Is reality in the 21st century External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar said on Friday in Dhaka. Addressing the 6th Indian Ocean Conference-2023 in the Bangladeshi capital Mr. Jaishankar noted the “Indo Pacific Outlook” of Bangladesh that was announced recently and cautioned against countries that do not want the region to become dynamic.

Supreme Court flags ‘serious lapses’ in implementation of Protection of Women from Sexual Harassment Act

The Supreme Court on May 12, in a judgment, said there are “serious lapses” and “uncertainty” in the implementation of the Protection of Women from Sexual Harassment (PoSH) Act, leaving many working women no choice but to leave their jobs. A Bench of Justices A.S. Bopanna and Hima Kohli, in a 62-page judgment, said the “sorry state of affairs” concerning the anti-sexual harassment at workplace law even after a decade of its introduction was “disquieting”, and it was time for the Centre and States to take affirmative action.

Air India fined ₹30 lakh after pilot invites lady friend into cockpit

The DGCA on Friday imposed a fine of ₹30 lakh on Air India and suspended a pilot-in-command for a period of three months after he entertained a lady friend in the cockpit and demanded that she be served alcohol and snacks. “The CEO of Air India received a complaint from one of the operating crew members of the flight. However, the organisation did not take prompt corrective action despite this being a safety sensitive violation. Anticipating delayed response, the complainant approached the DGCA,” the regulator said in a press statement.

Cyclone Mocha to be stronger than expected

Cyclone Mocha, currently located in the eastern Bay of Bengal, is likely to be stronger than initially forecast but poses little threat to India, with all of its fury likely to be concentrated in Myanmar and parts of Bangladesh, suggests the latest forecast from the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

We are keeping a watch on Pilot’s  yatra, says Congress’ Rajasthan in-charge

The Jan Sangharsh Yatra undertaken by senior leader Sachin Pilot is a “personal” one; the party was “keeping an eye on” it and would discuss it once Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge returns from Karnataka, All India Congress Committee’s (AICC) Rajasthan in-charge Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said on May 12. “It his personal yatra, he is taking out the yatra on his own, we are keeping an eye on that and when Kharge ji comes back from Karnataka, all issues would be discussed,” he said.

No democracy in West Bengal under Mamata: Nadda

BJP national president J.P. Nadda on May 12 targeted West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for banning the film  The Kerala Story, alleging that there was no democracy under her rule in West Bengal. He was speaking at an event to launch a book, titled  Democracy in Coma: Silenced Voices of Women Victims in Bengal, authored by Sonali Chitrakar, Vijeta Singh Aggarwal, Shruti Maitra and Monika Agarwal Uniyal. Mr. Nadda said that Ms. Banerjee had banned  The Kerala Story despite the fact that the film had “nothing to do with any religion or State”.

Ten Kuki MLAs from Manipur demand ‘separate administration’ 

As many as 10 legislators from the hill districts of Manipur, which includes those from the ruling BJP have demanded a separate administration as the “State miserably failed to protect” them when the violence started on May 3. In a press statement, the 10 MLAs said the Government of Manipur tacitly supported the “unabated violence” by the majority Meitei community against the Chin-Kuki-Mizo-Zomi hill tribals, which has already partitioned the State and effected a total separation from the State of Manipur.

Gyanvyapi mosque case: HC allows revision plea for scientific survey of  Shiv Ling

The Allahabad High Court on May 12 allowed a revision petition demanding a scientific survey to determine the age of the purported Shiv Ling found inside the Varanasi-based Gyanvyapi mosque. The survey will be done by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) which, in its affidavit submitted in the court, maintained that it cannot do carbon dating of the structure due to technical reasons but offered to do the carbon dating of the embedded portions of the Shiv Ling along with some other ways like Ground Penetration Radar (GPR), excavation to name a few.

Elon Musk picks advertisement executive Linda Yaccarino as Twitter CEO

Elon Musk on May 12 said he has chosen top advertisement executive Linda Yaccarino as CEO of Twitter as he fights to reverse fortunes at the struggling platform he bought for $44 billion last year. In a tweet, Mr. Musk said he would remain in charge of design and technology at Twitter, with Ms. Yaccarino focusing primarily on business operations and turning Twitter into an “everything app” called X.

Fierce Gaza fighting renews as truce hopes fade

Israel and Gaza militants traded heavy fire Friday as hopes faded of securing a truce to end days of fighting that have killed dozens, all but one of them Palestinian. The violence has been met with international calls for de-escalation, with the European Union pushing Thursday for an “immediate comprehensive ceasefire”. Israel announced it was “striking Islamic Jihad targets” in the densely populated Palestinian territory, while AFP journalists saw air strikes hit Gaza City.

Erdogan rival says has evidence of Russia’s online campaign ahead of Turkey vote

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, main challenger of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, said on Friday his party has concrete evidence of Russia’s responsibility for the release of “deep fake” online content ahead of Sunday’s presidential elections. Asked why he tweeted on Thursday that Russia was responsible, he told Reuters: “If we did not have it [concrete evidence], I wouldn’t have tweeted.” The party did not contact the Russian embassy in Turkey over the issue, he added.

IPL 2023: MI vs GT | Suryakumar outshines all-round Rashid as Mumbai beats Gujarat

Suryakumar Yadav played some outrageous shots en route his maiden IPL hundred (103 not out) as his stunning knock outshone a superlative all-round show from Rashid Khan to set up Mumbai Indians’ 27-run win over Gujarat Titans in Mumbai on May 12. Invited to bat, MI posted 218 for 5 on the back of world number one T20 batter Suryakumar’s 103 not out off just 49 balls and then restricted GT to 191 for 8 to notch up their seventh win this season. This was MI’s fourth consecutive 200-plus score on their home ground.

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Morning Digest: April 30, 2023

365 passengers landed at IGI airport from Sudan under Operation Kaveri, in New Delhi on April 29, 2023
| Photo Credit: ANI

Ahead of Amarnath Yatra, security agencies discuss safeguarding of Kashmir highway

With the Amarnath yatra just two months away, security agencies on Saturday discussed ways and means to tackle threats like vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices in south Kashmir. Officials said securing the national highway, which connects Jammu with the Srinagar and the Amarnath route in south Kashmir’s Pahalgam, remained the focus of the meeting. The threat posed by vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices and other potential militant threats were debated and counter-measures were discussed, they said.

Quarantine facilities being set up for those arriving from Sudan, says Centre

The Indian government is evacuating about 3,000 passengers of Indian Origin from Sudan, and necessary quarantine facilities are being arranged at transit junctures in mission mode for incoming passengers. 1,191 passengers had arrived so far, of which 117 passengers were currently quarantined as they had not been vaccinated against yellow fever. All passengers will be released after 7 days if they remain asymptomatic, it added.

Access to basic supplies restricted at protest site, say wrestlers

Wrestler Bajrang Punia on Friday night took to Instagram to accuse the Delhi Police of restricting supply of electricity and rations. “At the protest site, they (police) have cut off electricity and have barricaded the site, making it difficult for us to access basic necessities like food and water, they even asked us to end our protest as FIRs have been registered against WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh,” Mr. Punia said, in his Instagram video.

ED raid on edutech unicorn Byju’s in Bengaluru under ‘FEMA violations’

The Directorate of Enforcement (ED) searched the premises of Think & Learn Private Limited, which runs the online private education portal Byju’s, in Bengaluru, under provisions of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA). A statement by the ED revealed that ₹28,000 crore of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the company, and ₹9,754 crore overseas direct investment by the company are under the scanner.

SEBI seeks 6-month extension to complete Adani probe

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on April 29 asked the Supreme Court for six more months to complete its investigation into Hindenburg Research’s damning report accusing the Adani Group of “brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud schemes over the course of decades”. The market regulator said it was probing “12 suspicious transactions” raised in the Hindenburg report.

Government likely to ask addicts to submit for rehabilitation to avoid jail time

As the Union government debates decriminalising consumption of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, it is likely to bring in a policy where addicts and users will have to submit themselves before treatment centres and declare themselves as such in order to escape criminal prosecution. Currently, under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, the consumption of any narcotic drugs or psychotropic substance may attract a jail term of up to one year and/or fines up to ₹20,000.

Centre plans an ‘overhaul’ of its research institutions

The Department of Science and Technology (DST), which is the main source of funds and sustenance for at least 30 autonomous research bodies — some of them of global prestige — is in the middle of a “rationalisation” exercise that involves merging, “disengaging” and even closure of some organisations. The DST exercise is part of a larger project initiated by the Centre to reduce the number of autonomous institutions funded by various Ministries.

Operation Kaveri: Fresh batch of 365 people return home from Sudan

India on April 29 brought back home a fresh batch of 365 people under its mission to evacuate stranded Indians from strife-torn Sudan. The return of the fresh batch of Indians came a day after 754 people arrived in India in two batches under the evacuation mission. The total number of Indians who were brought back home now stands at 1,725, according to official data. The Indians were brought back home from the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah where India set up a transit camp for the evacuees.

100th episode of PM Modi’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ to be broadcast live in United Nations headquarters

The 100th episode of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s monthly radio programme ‘Mann Ki Baat’ will be broadcast live in the United Nations headquarters in New York. The Consulate General of India in New York, along with community organisations, is also hosting the broadcast of the 100th episode of ‘Mann Ki Baat’ for members of the Indian-American and diaspora community in New Jersey during a special event at 1:30 a.m. Sunday.

PM must break his silence on allegations raised by Satya Pal Malik: Congress

Prime Minister Narendra Modi must break his silence on the allegations raised by former Jammu & Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik regarding the Union government’s negligence that reportedly led to the death of 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in the Pulwama terror attack in 2019, Congress’s national spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said. She said Mr. Modi, the Union government and the BJP were answerable to the families of the martyrs of the Pulwama attack, who were thinking whether their dear ones would be alive today had the government not been “apathetic and negligent”.

L-G Saxena seeks report in connection with Arvind Kejriwal’s residence renovation irregularity rowc

Delhi Lieutenant Governor (L-G) Vinai Kumar Saxena has taken cognisance of media reports on the alleged “gross irregularities” in connection with the renovation of the Delhi Chief Minister’s official residence at 6, Flag Staff House, Civil Lines, which was carried out by the Public Works Department. Earlier this week, the Delhi BJP — while citing purported documents from the Public Works Department — called for the resignation of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal over the amount spent on renovating his official residence.

Satwik-Chirag become first Indian men’s doubles pair to enter Badminton Asia Championships final

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty became the first Indian men’s doubles pair to enter the final of the Badminton Asia Championships after their opponents retired midway through the semi-final match, here on April 29. They face the eighth-seeded Malaysian pair of Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi, who defeated fourth seeds Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi of Japan 21-6 26-24 in the other semifinal, in the final on Sunday.

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Morning Digest: January 28, 2023

Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacting with the students, teachers and parents, during the 6th edition of ‘Pariksha Pe Charcha 2023’, at Talkatora Stadium, in New Delhi on Friday.
| Photo Credit: ANI

Pariksha Pe Charcha | Tamil is the oldest language, let your chest swell with pride: PM Modi to students

Tamil is the oldest language of the world, and is a big treasure and source of pride, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his address to students at the sixth edition of the  Pariksha Pe Charcha event held on Friday, while urging them to learn languages other than their mother tongue. “Did you know Tamil is the oldest language of the whole world, not just of India? Shouldn’t such a country be proud? We have such a big treasure, a big source of pride. Our chest should swell with pride and we must tell the world this,” Mr. Modi said during the event, remarking that he had spoken in Tamil during an address at the UN General Assembly in 2019 in order to spread this message.

GoFirst fined ₹10 lakh by DGCA for leaving 55 passengers behind

The aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) imposed a penalty of ₹10 lakh on GoFirst for leaving behind 55 passengers at Bengaluru airport. “There was improper communication, coordination between terminal coordinator (TC), commercial staff and crew regarding boarding of passengers in the aircraft. The airline failed to ensure adequate arrangement for ground handling, preparation of load and trim sheet [documents that help in calculating maximum take-off weight and maximum landing weight], flight dispatch and passenger/cargo handling,” the DGCA said in press note after it received a response from the airline to its show-cause notice.

At least seven dead in shooting outside east Jerusalem synagogue

A gunman killed seven people at an east Jerusalem synagogue on Friday, Israeli police said, in a dramatic escalation of violence that followed a deadly raid in the West Bank a day earlier. The shooting in the Neve Yaakov neighbourhood of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem came even as international calls for calm mounted after Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip traded missile fire earlier on January 27.

EPFO Central Board of Trustees member, pensioners question circulars on higher pension, seek clarity

Pensioners’ organisations and members of the Central Board of Trustees (CBT) of the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) have alleged that the recent circulars of the EPFO on higher PF pension are against the Supreme Court verdict on the matter and previous circulars of the organisation. They questioned the EPFO’s stand that the cases of employees, who retired prior to September 1, 2014 without exercising any option under paragraph 11(3) of the pre-amended Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS), 1995, and were availing higher pension on higher wages, “need to be re-examined.”

U.P. Mayors approach Supreme Court over local body poll issue

The Supreme Court on January 27, 2023 allowed a group of 14 Mayors from Uttar Pradesh to intervene in a case concerning the holding of local body elections in the State. The court had, on January 4, stayed an Allahabad High Court direction to the Uttar Pradesh government and the Election Commission to hold local body elections without reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC).

West Bank on the edge after Israeli raids, rocket attacks

Israel’s defense minister signaled Friday that the military would stop its airstrikes if Palestinian militant groups halted rocket attacks, a day after the deadliest Israeli raid in decades raised the prospect of a major flare-up in fighting. The limited exchange of fire between Gaza militants and the Israeli armed forces has so far followed a familiar pattern that allows both sides to respond without leading to a major escalation. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s instruction to the military to prepare for new strikes in the Gaza Strip “if necessary” also appeared to leave open the possibility that the violence would subside.

No security lapse, were not intimated about large crowds at Banihal: J&K Police on Bharat Jodo Yatra

The J&K Police on Friday refuted the allegations of security breach levelled by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, as the Bharat Jodo Yatra (BJY) arrived in the Kashmir Valley earlier in the day. A police spokesman clarified that only authorised persons as identified by organisers and frisked crowd were allowed inside, towards the route of the yatra. “Organisers and managers of the BJY did not intimate about the large gathering from Banihal joining the yatra, which thronged near the starting point,” the J&K Police said.

Fiji suspends national police chief

Fiji suspended its police chief “effective immediately” on Friday, shunting aside an ally of the former prime minister who was defeated in general elections last month. The sidelined police chief, Sitiveni Qiliho, is regarded as a close supporter of former prime minister Frank Bainimarama, who ruled the Pacific nation for 16 years after leading a 2006 military coup.

India vs New Zealand, 1st T20I | Conway, Mitchell, and spinners guide NZ to 21-run win over India

Devon Conway and Daryl Mitchell conjured up fluent and fiery half-centuries before the spinners choked the hosts as New Zealand outplayed India by 21 runs in the opening T20I to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series here on Friday. Asked to take first strike, opener Conway continued his purple patch with a 35-ball 52, while Mitchell smashed a 30-ball unbeaten 59, which included a last-over thrashing of Arshdeep Singh for 27 runs, to power the Black Caps to a challenging 176 for six.

Hockey World Cup | Gonzalo Peillat sends Germany to final with sensational hat-trick

Star drag-flicker Gonzalo Peillat struck a second-half hat-trick as Germany made a sensational comeback after being two goals down to beat Australia 4-3 and enter the FIH Men’s World Cup final for the fifth time in Bhubaneswar on January 27, 2023. Peillat scored from penalty corners in the 43rd, 52nd and 59th minutes, while ‘Player of the Match’ Niklas Wellen (60th) struck with just a few seconds left in the game to stun Australia, who squandered a 2-0 half-time lead in the semi-final at the Kalinga Stadium.

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