first_imgKolkata: A major fire broke out at Oly Pub in Park Street on Monday afternoon. Three fire tenders were sent to douse the flames, but only one tender was used.In another incident, late on Sunday night, a massive fire broke out at the Ranihati fish market in Howrah. Four firemen were reportedly injured due to a LPG cylinder blast, which occurred during the firefighting operation. According to sources, on Monday, around 5 pm, a fire broke out at the kitchen of the Oly Pub. Some staff of the restaurant saw the smoke in the kitchen and alerted others. Immediately all the customers were evacuated from the restaurant and staff members swung into action to control the fire. Meanwhile, fire brigade and Park Street police station were informed. Also Read – City bids adieu to Goddess DurgaThree fire tenders were sent to Oly Pub but only one tender was operational as the intensity of fire was not much high. Rest two fire tenders were kept in reserve. Sources informed that the fire occurred due to leakage in the LPG cylinder. None was hurt in the incident. On the other hand, around 1:30 am on Sunday night, a massive fire broke out at the Ranihati fish market near Sankrail. Within a few minutes, the whole area got covered in thick black smoke. Soon, some local residents informed the police and fire brigade. Local residents got panic-stricken as the fire started spreading fast. Three fire tenders were sent to douse the flames. Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellersDuring the firefighting operation, a LPG cylinder exploded leaving four firefighters seriously injured. They have been admitted to the Howrah District Hospital. The fire was controlled after almost three hours. Till then at least 20 shops were reduced to ashes. It is suspected that the fire had occurred due to a short circuit. It will also be checked whether the market authority had all the necessary permissions, including fire license. A probe is on to ascertain the damage and exact cause of fire.last_img read more

first_imgAlthough BJP is in the saddle of power at the Centre with a massive majority, three worrying issues are currently being discussed incessantly across the country – the economy, conduct of the media, and EVMs. The tactical silence of BJP on all these issues so far, is, however, bothering even their staunch supporters. The country is waiting to see if Modi would come out with new magic tricks again as is his wont. Modi and BJP used a magic wand of promises in 2014 to mesmerise the entire country and come to power. It was used again in the form of nationalism when their actions in demonetisation etc., caused immense harm to the country. Their hypnotic powers were extensively used to subdue RBI and every other institution. Of late, they have also succeeded in making the Election Commission act like a robot, obeying their commands. So much is their power of magic that people have defied logic. While a bad state of economy implies the end of an incumbent President in the US and elsewhere, the same hasn’t happened in India. Much disillusioned, more people have joined others to vote Modi to power again. Also Read – A staunch allyHowever, now it is time for Modi and Nirmala Sitharaman to take stock of the reality of our country’s economy and use all their magical skills to change things, since it is all authentic. GDP growth has slowed the most in the last five years. Considering the favourable conditions of lower oil prices since they came to power in 2014, 5.8 per cent growth in the last quarter of 2018-19 is far lower in real terms compared to the actual 7.3 per cent in the same period of UPA-II, in 2014. In fact, it has been the slowest in the last 20 quarters. Fearing a negative impact, the unemployment figures were kept hidden for long. Now, the public has come to know that it is around 6 per cent, a distressing high of 45 years. Demonetisation and drying of credit to medium and small enterprises as well as the unorganised sector have immensely contributed to the shrinking of jobs, along with a dip in the self-employment economy. FDI has come down. USA has ejected India from GSP, causing an annual loss of $5.6 billion dollars of exports, adding further to the woes of unemployment. Now, RBI has also come out with the long list of defaulters cheating the country to the tune of over Rs 70,000 crore in the recent past. Further, the average agricultural growth rate of 2.51 per cent from 2014 to 2017 represents a significant dip compared to the average 3.17 per cent growth in the previous decade from 2004 to 2014. In spite of having a good rainfall average in the last five years, farmers’ distress continues, indicating that the fault lies more in the form of market processes. The price support mechanisms for farmers’ produce are thus an area of concern. Do they really have any tricks to change things? Even if they do not, who is bothered? The media only sings of their positives, in unison. Also Read – Cuban pathosLike the judiciary, the independent media is also a pillar of democracy. But, with her/his professional pride being hurt, every conscientious journalist must be sulking at her/his present fate; since it is the publisher who calls the shots. It is rightly said, the freedom of the press is restricted to the pleasure of the publisher. And his pleasure is, in turn, shaped by the government in power. With his hypnotic spell, Modi has made their task much easier. They don’t have to work; don’t have to penetrate and get information; don’t have to expose and analyse. Overwhelmed by powerful scents, their power to scent information is put at rest. They are served information on a platter. Now, it is a blatant ‘His Master’s Voice’. Independent news from them has become a rarity. As a result, their TRPs are going down each day. And, people are browsing social media more often, increasing their TRP, even when the credibility of such news is questionable. In the past, court-poets of kings sang praises of the ruler even if he was a demon; not a word was ever spoken against him. Subsequent generations believed their eulogies to be true, even though untruths were written out of fear or to derive financial benefits. The present media appears to be no different. News, unpalatable to the government, is not reported or is underplayed, as it happened when Pragya eulogised Godse; when the municipal election results of Karnataka and Telangana were not favouring BJP and when ballot papers were used in place of EVMs. Such a result, following a thumping victory in the Lok Sabha elections, was not a surprise to this media for making news. They are so prejudiced in favour of the ruling party that SP and JD(S) have boycotted them. Congress has stopped interacting with them for a month’s period; may even make it permanent. With all this, eyebrows of people are being raised, and questions are cropping up in social media about the results of Lok Sabha elections as to whether EVMs have played their role in BJP’s victory. There have been constant questions on the functioning of EVMs – for their hacking, tampering, pre-fixing through programming. Videos are in circulation showing truckloads of EVMs at certain places which were not properly accounted for. The High Court Bench of Gwalior is seized with the matter of 20 lakh missing EVMs from the source, the details of which were obtained under RTI subsequent to the orders of Bombay High Court. Based on the details obtained from the EC website, Quint magazine has brought out revealing information that in over 370 constituencies that went to polls in the first four phases of the elections, the total votes shown were more than the votes polled; there is a discrepancy of a whopping 58 lakh votes. When they tried to ascertain more details, the information was suddenly removed from the website. Social media is also agog with allegations of pre-fixing of EVMs with a considerable number of votes in favour of BJP. The information being spread is that these EVMs function normally otherwise; but when the final tally is counted, the pre-fixed number would add to it. Such is the software programme that was used. People are reporting that when an entire mohalla had voted against BJP, it was found that all their votes went in favour of BJP in the final counting. Against this backdrop, EC not agreeing with opposition parties to implement the 5 per cent formula of SC for VVPAT use, in letter and spirit, in the counting process, raises further doubts. The demand of opposition parties was to go for the VVPAT counting first before the actual counting takes place so that in case of discrepancies, appropriate remedial action would be taken immediately. Incidents are too many to ignore. People are puzzled; even vocal supporters of BJP are flabbergasted. Initial hush-hush has changed to consternation to anger and to protests. Their voice is rising every day, and the protests are spreading to different places. Justice Kolbe Patil, an ex-judge of High Court, has also begun an agitation. So are some more ex-judges and professors. It looks like, it is turning out to be a nation-wide agitation. National media has the responsibility to unearth the facts to clear people’s doubts. They should have conducted their own journalistic investigations into this pressing issue. But, their silence is very intriguing. In the absence of any such efforts from them, and any authentic rebuttals from the concerned quarters, people tend to believe the stories being circulated on social media. One only wishes that it is all not true, since, if they are true, it is a great fraud on the electorate. It amounts to the criminal offences of cheating, fraud and theft, in addition to the offences under the Representation of People’s Act. The charges being serious, a convincing rebuttal would have served well. But, till now there are no firm denials either by the Election Commission or by BJP and the government. On the contrary, the open protest of one of the members of EC, Ashok Lavasa, for not recording his dissent, compounds doubts further. The government is already grappling with the exposed reality of our economy. But, more importantly, they should convincingly quell doubts in public minds about their alleged magical tricks with EVMs. Otherwise, the protests could snowball into a national movement. If at all it happens, the magic spell of Modi and Shah on domestic media may work for suppressing the news only within the country; but it cannot choke the voice of international media that would sully our image beyond repair. (Dr N Dilip Kumar is a retired IPS officer and a former member of Public Grievances Commission, Delhi. The views expressed are strictly personal)last_img read more

first_imgNew Delhi: The maximum personal income tax rate in the country should move towards 25 per cent to increase disposable income, thereby boosting demand in the economy, the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) said Wednesday.The industry body, in a statement, said liquidity infusion, job creation and low cost export finance would be crucial at this juncture to revitalise the economy and accelerate it to a higher growth trajectory. The maximum personal income tax rate presently stands at 30 per cent. Also Read – SC declines Oil Min request to stay sharing of documentsThe government must expedite liquidity infusion through gradual reduction in CRR from the current level of 4 per cent to 2 per cent and in SLR from 19 per cent to 15 per cent, PHDCCI President Talwar said. Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) is the portion of the deposits which banks are required to park with the RBI, whereas SLR or Statutory Liquidity Ratio is the portion of funds which banks are required to park in treasury bills and other instruments. Also Read – World suffering ‘synchronized slowdown’, says new IMF chiefWe appreciate the recent cut in repo rate by 25 bps and expect that the repo rate would be reduced by 125 bps gradually from the current level of 5.75 per cent to 4.5 per cent in the coming quarters, Talwar said. The transmission of policy rate cut by the banking sector in terms of reduced lending rates would be crucial to boost liquidity and induce demand in the country, he added. Besides, he said, creation of jobs in the economy would require structural reforms in the labour laws. The low hanging fruit at this juncture is to promote labour intensive manufacturing by enacting law for fixed term employment in all sectors and making the labour laws simpler by converting 44 labour laws into 4 labour codes, Talwar said. In a separate statement, Assocham Deputy Secretary General Col Saurabh Sanyal said labour and land reforms would go a long way in attracting new investment not only from within the country but also overseas. “Given a huge political capital at his command, Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be able to bring in these reforms with a wide political support as also goodwill from other key stakeholders. “Such reforms would send a very positive message across the world about India unleashing an investor-friendly regime, making the country the best bet among the emerging markets,” Sanyal said.last_img read more

first_imgNew Delhi: The government Friday reduced interest rate on small savings schemes, including NSC and PPF, by 0.1 per cent for the July-September quarter. The move is aimed at matching the softening of interest rates in the banking sector since the RBI cut its benchmark policy rate thrice during the year. Barring interest on savings deposits, which has been retained at 4 per cent annually, rate on all other schemes has been slashed by 0.1 per cent. “On the basis of the decision of the government, interest rates for small savings schemes are to be notified on a quarterly basis,” the Finance Ministry said while notifying the rates for the second quarter of financial year 2019-20. Public Provident Fund (PPF) and National Savings Certificate (NSC) will fetch annual interest rate of 7.9 per cent from the existing rate of 8 per cent, while Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP) will yield 7.6 per cent with maturity of 113 months.last_img read more

first_imgAgra: Twenty-nine people were killed and 18 injured after a Lucknow-Delhi state-run bus skidded off the Yamuna Expressway and fell into a large drain in Uttar Pradesh in the early hours of Monday, officials said. The accident occurred around 4:30 am in Etmadpur, around 200 km from the national capital, they said.The operation to pull out the mangled remains of the bus from the bottom of the 20-foot-high bridge took several hours, with two excavators and a crane being deployed for the salvage exercise. Also Read – IAF Day: Tributes paid to soldiers killed in line of duty in JammuThe injured have been admitted to different hospitals, including a private health facility, in the district, the officials said. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has formed a committee to probe the reasons behind the accident and directed it to submit a report, Additional Chief Secretary Information, Awanish Awasthi, said. “As per the district magistrate (of Agra) 29 persons have died. The bus fell into a ‘nallah’ (drain),” he said. The Uttar Pradesh Roadways will pay ex gratia of Rs 5 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased, the officials said. Also Read – Shashi Tharoor writes to PM Modi: Don’t let your ‘mann ki baat’ become ‘maun ki baat'”One sleeper coach passenger bus travelling from Lucknow to Delhi met with an accident on Yamuna Expressway (sic),” the Uttar Pradesh Police said on Twitter. The Janrath bus of the Uttar Pradesh Roadways’ Awadh Depot was going from Lucknow to the national capital’s Anand Vihar ISBT, the officials said. The 165-km six-lane expressway connects Noida with Agra in Uttar Pradesh. The chief minister expressed his condolences and has directed the Agra district magistrate and senior superintendent of police to ensure the injured get proper medical treatment, the officials said.last_img read more

first_imgNew Delhi: The government wants Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) to sell its golf courses in Ahmedabad and Vadodara in Gujarat, sending the company into a tizzy as one of them has two producing oil wells, sources said. The Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) has deemed golf courses and sports clubs owned by central public sector enterprises as ‘non-core’ assets and wants to monetise them. A recent exercise by DIPAM to assess land banks and other non-core assets of government departments as well as central PSUs identified two of ONGC’s golf courses in Ahmedabad and Vadodara, as also a sports club owned by Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) in Chembur, Mumbai. Also Read – Maruti cuts production for 8th straight month in SepSources said the exercise identified only properties with real estate potential in prime cities while leaving out golf courses ONGC has in Ankleshwar in Gujarat and Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh. It also did not prioritise the grand golf course Oil India Ltd (OIL) has in Assam and one ONGC has in the North-East. While the golf courses are used by executives of the PSUs for playing the leisurely game and hosting their business partners, ONGC had built the one in Ahmedabad after it struck oil in the city more than two decades back. Also Read – Ensure strict implementation on ban of import of e-cigarettes: revenue to CustomsAfter the Motera field was discovered in Ahmedabad, ONGC was wary of encroachment around the oil wells in a city that was developing into a megapolis. So it built a golf course around the wells to ward off encroachers, they said. The golf course identified by DIPAM has two producing oil wells, sources said, adding the field exists in a nomination block that according to rules ONGC cannot sell off or farm-out to outsiders. The DIPAM diktat has sent the company into a tizzy as selling the golf course would mean the buyer also gets ownership of the two oil wells — something which is not allowed as per rules, they said. A recent meeting of officials from DIPAM, NITI Aayog, Oil Ministry and other departments gave its nod to monetising non-core assets of ONGC and BPCL. The proceeds will go to the PSUs and not to the exchequer, they said, adding the aim of the exercise is to rationalise resource utilisation in the public sector. The field may be one of the 64 that ONGC has identified for involving private and foreign firms for raising output. But even in that exercise, ONGC is retaining the ownership of the field and its licence and only getting the private partner for raising output beyond a pre-agreed threshold. The incremental output beyond the agreed baseline will be shared with the private or foreign partner, sources said, adding ONGC as the licensee would be responsible for statutory payments such as cess on the entire oil produced.last_img read more

first_imgBahraich (UP): Two children drowned while taking bath in a pit full of water in Uttar Pradesh’s Bahraich district, police said Thursday. The incident took place on Wednesday when three children — Saddam (8), Raju (9) and Tabrej (10) — were taking bath and slipped into the deep water at Chaitupurwa village in Dargah Sharif area, they said. While Tabrez and Saddam drowned, Raju swimmed to safety, they added. The pit was dug by locals and was filled with water after heavy rains.last_img read more

first_imgKolkata: State Chief Secretary Malay De on Friday chaired a high-level meeting at Nabanna with senior officials of the state government and those associated with the ongoing Metro projects in the city, to fast-track the progress of work.It was decided in the meeting that the proposed Metro project from Kolkata Airport to New Barrackpore in the alignment of Airport-Barasat Metro project, will be underground. The state has assured the Metro authorities of necessary assistance in making land available for the project. Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellersIt was December last year when the Railway Board had given the nod for the stalled Airport-Barasat Metro project. Sources said Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd (RVNL) officials in the meeting pointed out that they need land beside Jessore Road for the project. However, the state informed them that it was not possible to allocate land there. So, it was decided instead that it will be underground from Airport to BT College and then go up to New Barrackpore via Doltala. A total stretch of 7 km will be underground. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaAt present, Metro runs underground from Dum Dum to Mahanayak Uttam Kumar (Tollygunge), while the Phoolbagan to Howrah Maidan flank in the proposed East-West Metro is also slated to be underground. RVNL, which is executing the New Garia-Airport Metro project, pointed out the issue of land problem near Chingrighata on EM Bypass, which is a highly populated area. It was proposed that the route can be realigned a bit to tackle the problem. De has formed a committee led by state Urban Development and Municipal Affairs Principal Secretary Subrata Gupta, to look into the matter and come out with a solution. The state informed RVNL that the extension from Majerhat to BBD Bag of the proposed Joka-BBD Bag project has already got the nod of the Centre. The nod for Joka–Majerhat had been received much earlier. However there are some land issues plaguing the project. Kolkata Municipal Commissioner Khalil Ahmed has been asked to take up the matter. Apart from De, state Home secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay was also present in the meeting, where the intervention of the state in clearing roadblocks in the various Metro projects was discussed at length.last_img read more

first_imgNew Delhi: Parliament on Friday approved a bill to enable introduction of minimum wage for every worker besides addressing issues like delay in payment to employees, with Labour Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar asserting it will benefit about 50 crore workers in the country.The Code on Wages Bill, 2019 — which seeks to amend and consolidate the laws relating to wages, bonus and matters connected therewith — was passed in the Rajya Sabha with 85 members in favour and 8 against. It was passed in the Lok Sabha on July 30. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’The Bill will subsume four labour laws — Minimum Wages Act, Payment of Wages Act, Payment of Bonus Act and Equal Remuneration Act. After its enactment, all these four Acts would be repealed. Moving the bill for consideration and passage in the Upper House, Gangwar said, “Every labourer should have a respectful life. It is an historic bill. About 50 crore labourers will benefit.” While drafting the bill, the Minister said the government has accepted 17 out of the 24 recommendations made by the Standing Committee which had scrutinised the similar bill introduced in the previous Lok Sabha. Replying to the discussion on the bill, he said all such workers in the country will come under the ambit of minimum wages. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KHe assured the House that the central government would not fix the minimum wages. “The centre will not take the rights of the states”, he said. As per the bill, the tripartite committee comprising representatives of trade unions, employers and state government would fix a floor wage for workers throughout the country, Gangwar said, adding “minimum wage will become right of every worker.” Highlighting salient features of the bill, the Minister said the draft law will effectively address the problems relating to delay in payment of wages whether on monthly, weekly or daily basis. The minister said the bill will ensure that there is no discriminations between male and female as well as transgenders in getting wages. The Code universalises the provisions of minimum wages and timely payment of wages to all employees irrespective of the sector and wage ceiling, he said. At present, the provisions of both Minimum Wages Act and Payment of Wages Act apply on workers below a particular wage ceiling working in Scheduled Employments only. The Minister further said the floor wage will be computed based on minimum living conditions, benefiting about 50 crore workers across the country. At present there are 12 definitions of wages in the different Labour Laws leading to litigation besides difficulty in its implementation. The definition has been simplified in the Bill and is expected to reduce litigation and also reduce compliance cost for employers. The Minister mentioned that The Code on Wages Bill was earlier introduced in Lok Sabha on August 10, 2017 and was referred to Parliamentary Standing Committee which submitted its Report on December 81, 2018. However, owing to dissolution of 16th Lok Sabha, the Bill had lapsed. Therefore, a fresh Bill was drafted after considering the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee and other suggestions of the stakeholders, he added. Participating in the debate, Madhusudan Mistry of the Congress said it is unfortunate that previous governments as well as this one after so many years are only talking about minimum wage and not fair wage.last_img read more

first_imgMumbai: The rupee on Monday crashed by 113 paise — the biggest single-day drop in past six years — to close at a five-month low of 70.73 due to heavy capital outflows by investors anxious over the US-China trade tension, a sharp devaluation in yuan and uncertainty over Kashmir issue. This was the third straight session of fall for the rupee, during which it lost a massive 194 paise. The US-China trade-related concerns weighed on the investor community and kept the pressure on the Indian rupee, forex traders said. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscal”India’s rupee tumbled the most since December triggered by depreciating Yuan. Chinese Yuan weakened beyond 7 per dollar for the first time since 2008, signalling a new phase in the trade war between US and China,” said V K Sharma, Head PCG & Capital Markets Strategy, HDFC Securities. Rahul Gupta, Currency Research Head, Emkay Global Financial Services said following the global trade turmoil between US-China and political imbalance in Kashmir led USD/INR the rupee opened on a weak note. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostMany forex traders would now likely rush to protect their positions in emerging markets currencies and get out as China seems more than willing to let its currency crumble in an effort to shore up trade volumes and negate the pricing impact from US tariffs, said Rajesh Cheruvu, The Chief Investment Officer, Validus Wealth. “The ramifications for China would, of course, be the capital markets outflows from the country. The INR should also mirror some of the same weakness and FPIs may continue their dumping spree of Indian assets resulting in a bleak near term outlook for the INR,” he projected. In a highly volatile trade, the rupee opened at 70.20 at the interbank forex market and touched a low of 70.74 and a high of 70.18 against the American currency. The currency finally settled at 70.73 against the US dollar — a level not seen since March 1 — down 113 paise or 1.62 per cent over its previous closing price. This is the highest single-day fall for the rupee since August 2013. Traders said the near term focus will be on the RBI’s monetary policy meeting scheduled to announce outcome on August 7th. The market has already priced in 25 bps cut in interest rate amid lower core CPI and persistent economic slowdown. “Meanwhile, this week is the RBI policy. Widely, RBI is expected to cut rates further by 25 bps and continue to hold the accommodative stance which will weigh on rupee,” Gupta said. Forex traders said, besides the US-China trade-related concerns, Home Minister Amit Shah moving a resolution in the Rajya Sabha that all clauses of Article 370 will not be applicable to Jammu and Kashmir kept the pressure on the Indian rupee. The government on Monday moved a bill proposing bifurcation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories — Jammu and Kashmir division and Ladakh. However, easing crude oil prices and weakening of the American currency vis-a-vis other currencies overseas supported the local unit to some extent. Brent crude futures, the global oil benchmark, fell 1.18 per cent to $61.16 per barrel. The dollar index, which gauges the greenback’s strength against a basket of six currencies, fell 0.39 per cent to 97.69. Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) remained net sellers in the capital markets, pulling out Rs 2,016 crore on Monday, as per provisional data.last_img read more

first_imgUnited Nations: The rare closed-door consultations on Kashmir by the Security Council ended without any outcome or statement from the powerful 15-nation UN organ, dealing a huge snub to Pakistan and its all-weather ally China to internationalise the issue, which an overwhelming majority stressed is a bilateral matter between New Delhi and Islamabad. The informal consultations, requested for by China, lasted over an hour on Friday after which Beijing’s Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun and Pakistan’s UN envoy Maleeha Lodhi made remarks to the media at the UN Security Council stakeout one by one. The two left without taking any question from the reporters. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details Sources familiar with the consultations told PTI that China was pushing for an outcome or a press statement to be delivered after the consultations by Poland, the President of the Security Council for the month of August. The UK also sided with China in calling for a statement to the press. “Pakistan raising Kashmir at the UN doesn’t have any traction. This time also it did not get any traction at all. There was no outcome, no statement from Poland, as UNSC President, after the consultations,” the sources added. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday Majority of the 15 members said there should not be any statement or outcome issued after the consultations and their will prevailed, leaving China to come out and make a statement in its national capacity followed by Pakistan. India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Syed Akbaruddin in his remarks to the media said that he will present New Delhi’s national position too “if national statements try to masquerade as the will of the international community,” a reference to statements by China and Pakistan. Further, an “overwhelming” number of Council members maintained that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan that they need to address themselves, a rebuff to Islamabad’s intention to internationalize Kashmir, according to sources privy to the internal discussions. China, a permanent member with veto, had asked for a meeting in the Council. As per UNSC procedures, Council members can ask to bring up any issue for discussion. “Everybody will ask for something or the other.” There will be no record nor any minutes of the closed consultations. Sources with knowledge of the proceedings said that in its discussions with UNSC members, India was able to break down “piece by piece” each of the arguments. India’s approach was that how can a constitutional matter become a threat to peace and security, as claimed by Pakistan in reference to Article 370. “How does a federal arrangement create an implication for beyond the border,” the sources said. Further, India has been repeatedly stressing that it is committed to the Simla Agreement on the issue of Kashmir. On the issue of gross violation of human rights, sources said, “Pakistan lost that battle also because China is talking about human rights.” Sources familiar with the development also said that if Pakistan feels Article 370 is a material change of a situation, “what is CPEC”, a reference to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). “How many material changes have they done?” Sources said that China could have stopped at the first step of calling the meeting “but by trying to get the Council to react to it they overplayed their hand” and by “pushing their hand, they lost everything.” African nations in the Council – Cote d’Ivoire and Equatorial Guinea, Dominican Republic, Germany, US, France and Russia supported India, sources said. A UN diplomatic source said that while France was paying close attention to the situation in the region, for it the priority was “bilateral dialogue” between India and Pakistan, a position shared by the US and Germany. Russia’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Dmitry Polyanskiy, before heading into the Security Council Consultations Room, told reporters that Moscow favours a bilateral track between India and Pakistan.” Indonesia is also concerned by the increasing tension and urges both countries to return to dialogue and diplomacy. A UK Government spokesperson said, “Today the UNSC discussed the situation in Kashmir. We continue to follow the situation closely. Events in Kashmir can have regional and international relevance – we continue to urge calm and caution from all.” Pakistan suffered several setbacks on various fronts in the run up to the closed consultations. It sought an open meeting on the matter, following a letter by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi calling for the Security Council to discuss India’s move to revoke the special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Instead, the Council conducted consultations in an informal, closed format. It is significant that the discussions were not held at the horse-shoe table in the Security Council Chamber, which is a more formal and official format for meetings. Qureshi had also requested that a representative of the Government of Pakistan be allowed to attend the meeting. That request was also not allowed as the consultations were held only among the 15 Council members. Closed meetings are not open to the public and no verbatim record of statements is kept. Consultations are informal meetings of the Security Council members and are not covered in the Repertoire. The Repertoire, mandated by the UN General Assembly, provides comprehensive coverage of the Security Council’s interpretation and application of the UN Charter and its own Provisional Rules of Procedure since 1946.last_img read more

first_imgYaounde: A military court in Cameroon on Tuesday handed a life sentence to the head of the country’s Anglophone separatist movement, Julius Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, in a move that analysts said could inflame the 22-month-old revolt. Ayuk Tabe, a charismatic leader widely deemed as a moderate in the separatist movement, was convicted with nine others of charges including “terrorism and secession”, the state’s lawyer, Martin Luther Achet, said. They were given life terms. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USThe sentences were confirmed by a lawyer for the separatists, Joseph Fru, who added the 10 had also been fined 250 billion CFA francs (USD 422 million, 381 million euros). Fru condemned what he called a “parody of justice” and said the defendants refused to recognise the right of the military tribunal in Yaounde to try them. Their lawyers have yet to say whether they will file an appeal. Ayuk Tabe, a 54-year-old computer engineer by training, is the first self-proclaimed president of “Ambazonia” — a breakaway state declared in October 2017 in two English-speaking regions of the central African country. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsThe government responded with a military crackdown. Attacks by both sides have left 1,850 dead, according to the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank, while the UN says 530,000 people have fled their homes. English-speakers account for about a fifth of Cameroon’s population of 24 million, who are majority French-speaking. Anglophones are mainly concentrated in two western areas, the Northwest Region and the Southwest Region, that were incorporated into the French-speaking state after the colonial era in Africa wound down six decades ago. Anglophones have chafed for years at perceived discrimination in education, law and economic opportunities at the hands of the francophone majority. Ayuk Tabe is part of the political branch of the separatist group that supports dialogue with 86-year-old President Paul Biya , who has been in power for 36 years. But the influence of moderates waned in 2017 as Biya rejected demands for autonomy and radicals in the movement gained the ascendant. In January 2018, Ayuk Tabe was arrested with 46 other separatists in the Nigerian capital Abuja. They were then handed over to Cameroon, and the trial of Ayuk Tabe and the nine others began in late December. In March this year, the extradition was ruled illegal by a Nigerian court. In late May, Ayuk Tabe said he was willing to take part in talks with the government, provided this took place abroad and the government released all people who had been detained since the start of the anglophone crisis. But Tuesday’s sentencing could crush any chance of dialogue, analysts said. A specialist at the ICG said the move “risks worsening the security situation in the anglophone zone in the coming weeks.” “It could radicalise part of the separatists who had been seeing a sign of hope in the fact that the leaders had not yet been sentenced.” Cameroon’s main opposition part, the Social Democratic Front (SDF), which is opposed to anglophone secession, also said the sentence worsened the breakaway crisis. “Ayuk Tabe has much clout among anglophones. His sentencing will make the resolution of this crisis more complicated,” its spokesman, Denis Nkenlemo, said.last_img read more

first_imgNew Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday said the government’s own advisers had now admitted that the country’s economy was in a “deep mess” and asked the Centre to remonetise it by putting money in the hands of “the needy and not the greedy”. He also said the Congress had been cautioning about the state of the economy for long. “Government’s own economic advisors have finally acknowledged what we cautioned for long – India’s economy is in a deep mess. “Now, accept our solution and remonetise the economy, by putting money back in the hands of the needy and not the greedy,” Gandhi wrote on Twitter.last_img read more

first_imgNew Delhi: Suave, articulate and a super strategist, Arun Jaitley was the BJP’s and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s chief trouble-shooter whose superb four-decade-long political career was cut short by poor health.As the world mourned Jaitley’s death, leaders across party lines remembered how he was a mentor and guide to many. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his condolence message, described Jaitley as a “valued friend” whose insights and nuanced understanding of matters had “very few parallels.” Official sources said the Prime Minister spoke to his wife and son who insisted that he does not cancel his foreign tour. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c detailsIn his tweets, Modi said: “With the demise of Arun Jaitley Ji, I have lost a valued friend, whom I have had the honour of knowing for decades. His insight on issues and nuanced understanding of matters had very few parallels. He lived well, leaving us all with innumerable happy memories. We will miss him!” In a statement, Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi said: “Jaitley had a long innings as a public figure, Parliamentarian and Minister and his contributions to public life will forever be remembered.” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted: “Untimely demise of former FM and senior leader Sh Arun Jaitley ji is a huge loss to the nation…” West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also expressed sadness over Jaitley’s demise and said he was a politician who was “appreciated across parties”.last_img read more

first_imgChennai: Commercial vehicles major Ashok Leyland Ltd closed last month with a 47 per cent drop in sales, the company said on Tuesday. In a statement issued here, the company said that it sold a total of 9,231 units in August, down from 17,386 units sold during the corresponding month in 2018. The company’s sales of goods carrier — light, medium and heavy trucks — came down to 7,432 units last month from 15,945 units sold in August 2018. On the other hand, bus sales last month went up to 1,799 units from 1,441 units sold in August 2018.last_img read more

first_imgFor a democracy, if it has to be vibrant and relevant to contemporary times, introspection is a must. In the ever-changing scenario of needs, desires, values, demands of society, the Constitution of any democratic country cannot be static. It should be alive, dynamic and continually changing itself to suit present-day conditions. Perhaps this is the reason why more than 100 amendments were brought to the Constitution of India since it was first enacted in 1950. This principle holds good even for the Institution of Governor in Indian polity, especially in the context of the appointment of governors to five states recently. Some constitutional experts are of the opinion that the spirit of cooperative federalism is missing in these appointments and there is a need to appoint apolitical governors. Also Read – A special kind of bondSince its inception as the pivot of Indian federal system, the office of the governor has remained a controversy. Governors today are being disparagingly termed as the agents of the Centre. The issue becomes more relevant with the appointment of nine new governors since July. When the controversy over the institution of governor became a nation-wide debate in the early ’80s, the Union Government of the day appointed Justice Sarkaria Commission to prepare a report. Also Read – Insider threat managementSarkaria Commission, in its report in October 1987, suggested that the governor should be a person of some eminence in some field and should be a detached figure with little record of participation in the local politics of the state. He or she should be a person who has not taken a keen part in politics generally and particularly in the recent past of his or her appointment. It is desirable that a politician from the ruling party at the Centre should not be made the governor of a state headed by another party. It should be ensured that there is effective consultation with the chief minister of a state while appointing a governor in that state. None of these are apparently followed. Against this backdrop, it may be appropriate to compare the institutions of CM and Governor. The chief minister in our country is a democratically elected head of state government and is vested with all executive powers. He or she is elected by legislators of the party or coalition commanding majority in the state Assembly. According to the Constitution, the governor is only a namesake head of the state and his or her role is just ceremonial, whereas the real power lies with the chief minister. Governors of the states have more or less similar powers and functions at the state level similar to the President at the Union level. The sole exception is that there cannot be a President’s Rule at the Centre whereas President’s Rule or Governor’s Rule may be imposed in a state when it is felt that the state cannot be run in accordance with provisions of the Constitution! This provision was frequently abused. Though the Constitution says that the Governor, who is appointed by the President for a term of 5 years, enjoys many different types of powers – the Executive, Legislative and Discretionary – the spirit of the Constitution envisages that these are titular in nature. Governor appoints the chief minister, but only a person who enjoys the support of the majority in the Assembly. Like the British Monarch, the governor can do no wrong in this. The governor also appoints the other members of the Council of Ministers and distributes portfolios to them only on the advice of the chief minister. The Council of Ministers remain in power during the pleasure of the governor but in the real sense, it means the pleasure of the Assembly. He makes many more constitutional appointments but these powers are formal and the governor, while using these powers, must act according to the advice of the Council of Ministers headed by the chief minister. When the state legislature is not in session, the governor can promulgate ordinances but only on the advice of CM. As long as these systems continue without hindrance, the spirit of the Constitution is upheld but if it is otherwise, it becomes a mockery as happened in a number of instances in several states by political governors. From time to time, the role of the governor has made people feel that they are living in a very fragile democratic realm, which can be shaken effortlessly by the governor. It is a well-known fact that the governors played a dictatorial role many a time and transcended all the democratic limits. Different political parties have misused the role of the governor at different times for their partisan interests, thus proving that Indian society has yet to achieve the state of political modernisation and political culture. The institution of the governor was misused to a great extent several times in the past and there is no guarantee that the same is not repeated in future. Many political debates took place to restructure the constitutional framework concerning the office and role of the governor in a federal structure. When chief ministers belonged to the opposition, the governor was considered as the Centre’s agent. As a result, the governor started playing a stubborn role, which gave birth to debatable issues concerning the constitutional powers of the governor. There were many constitutional debates about the institution of the governor. Some people wanted popularly-elected governors. The drafting committee of the Constitution, however, decided that the governor would be appointed by the President. As a result, different parties manipulated the appointment of the governor on one hand, and on the other, governors started following the command from the central government in order to make the Centre happy in anticipation of gaining higher political positions. Since independence, no party in power at the Center was an exception to this. Thus, we see that the framers of the Constitution endowed Governor with certain powers with the hope that the governor would use these powers to keep India united with the spirit of cooperative federalism but the governors and central government misused the institution to fulfil their political interests. While the President of India is elected by the representatives of the people, namely the MPs, MLAs, the governor is merely appointed by President on the advice of Prime Minister. Like that of President, the governor should also be elected by members of both Houses. If it has to be an appointment, then, on the lines of appointment of a Judge to the supreme court by the President on the recommendation of the collegium, apolitical governors should also be appointed with a similar process. The collegium may include the Prime Minister, chief minister of the concerned state, Chief Justice of India and at least two constitutional experts of impeccable character – all with veto power. The key issue concerning the office of the governor today is one of rehabilitation. The problem of role-differentiation is taking place largely on account of one-party dominance which assumed such serious dimensions today as to become a case of a crisis of confidence in the political system itself. Though the Supreme Court has expressly laid down that the governorship is an independent constitutional office which is not subject to the control of the Government of India, it is seldom observed in practice. Let the appointment of governors not be a process of political rehabilitation for the party in power at the Centre, as reflected in the recent appointments under the present dispensation. It is high time we make necessary changes in the Constitution and do away with the old practices? The sooner, the better! (The author is Chief PRO to Telangana CM. The views expressed are strictly personal)last_img read more

first_imgMumbai: With the countdown to his next release “Dream Girl” already on, actor Ayushmann Khurrana took out time to post a pose with his real-life dream girl — wife Tahira Kashyap. The actor took to Instagram to post a photo of the couple in which he is smiling and posing for the camera. Tahira, on the other hand, is holding on to him and looking down. “With my #Dreamgirl @tahirakashyap”, Ayushmann captioned the pic. Tahira reposted the snapshot and wrote: “But I thought I was with mine! We as a couple believe in balancing it out. When Harish meets Dream girl. #aboutlastnight #dreamgirl.” Also Read – I have personal ambitions now: Priyanka Tahira had revealed that hubby Ayushmaan has given her the funny nickname of Harish, in an earlier IANS report. She had shared two photographs. In the first, she strikes a pose against the sun, with an outline of her hair visible. In the second, she shared a picture of 1990s’ actor Harish Kumar. She captioned the image: “That’s me right in the morning without any hair product and Ayushmann calls me Harish! For the longest time I could not recollect and found it cute in a weird way. You know at times you call people you love by different weird names… I thought it was that until… swipe for what I found! Look-alike anti-gravity hair.”last_img read more

first_imgDarjeeling: Darjeeling is all set to ring in the festive as well as the tourist season with the Darjeeling Fest 2019.Organised by the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, the festival will be flagged off on September 20 and will continue till September 27. The festival will be held in different venues in Darjeeling. “The festival is being organised to give a boost to tourism which is the economic mainstay of this region. This year, India has been chosen as the host country by the United Nations to commemorate World Tourism Day. The theme this year is Tourism and Jobs: a better future for all,” said Anit Thapa, Chairman, GTA. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari Puja”The festival is a celebration of the rich and diverse culture of Darjeeling showcased through music, art, dance, sports. The Hill town has always been a joyful place and through this festival we will celebrate peace, harmony and joy,” said Anil Biswakarma, coordinator. The festival will host flower shows, pet shows, fashion shows, football, taekwondo, photography, art, body building, archery, bike rallies and cultural shows. Traditional sports like “Chungi” will also find a place in the festival. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highway”The festival will be flagged off with a colorful parade from the Darjeeling Motor Stand on September 20 at 10am. The residents dressed in traditional attire depicting the rich and diverse culture of Darjeeling will take part in the parade. The festival will come to an end on September 27 on World Tourism Day,” said organizer Priya Pundit. An Inter College Fest “Confluence” in also on the cards. “We have been organising Confluence successfully since 2007. It is to promote creativity and an excellent platform for exchange of ideas among students,” said organiser Rajeev Thatal. Confluence will be held on September 27 and 28 at the Jorebunglow Degree College. Thirteen colleges from Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Sikkim will take part in the festival. The festival will include music, cultural shows, quiz, extempore speech, art, photography, documentary, short film shows and career guidance.last_img read more

first_imgQUEBEC – Quebec is ready to collect provincial and federal taxes, which would permit citizens to file a single tax return instead of two, Premier Philippe Couillard said Monday.Couillard was responding to a resolution favourable to the change that was passed over the weekend at a Conservative party meeting in Quebec.“To simplify the lives of citizens, we would agree with that,” Couillard said. “There is no reason we wouldn’t be able to do it.”The Quebec premier, however, maintained his revenue service would collect federal taxes on two conditions: the entire process would be run by the province and Quebec would maintain its current fiscal privileges.“We don’t want to find ourselves in a situation where Quebec would be tied to choices made by the federal government or dependent on (Ottawa) to decide its fiscal issues,” he said.Last weekend’s party meeting in Quebec was part of the Tories’ drive to pick up more seats in the province and to seduce Quebecers disaffected with the federal Liberals and the Bloc Quebecois.The resolution to combine federal and provincial tax returns into a single form collected and administered by Quebec was supported by 89 per cent of delegates and could become part of the Tory platform for the 2019 election.last_img read more

first_imgLONGUEUIL, Que. – Quebec’s police watchdog agency is looking into the death of a 24-year-old man who died in police custody in northern Quebec on Friday night.The man was arrested and detained Friday morning in Puvirnituq, a community in northwestern Nunavik near the Hudson Bay.A guard noticed the man wasn’t breathing at about 6 p.m. He was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.It’s not clear why the man was in custody.Seven members of the independent investigations unit are examining the circumstances with assistance from provincial police.last_img read more