America isn’t a country so much as it is an idea.America is an idea about freedom, and freedom is man’s natural state and disposition. The first people to find their way here came from different places, but they were all chasing the same idea.America is the idea that one should be free to pursue their version of happiness, whatever they believe that to be, as long as they don’t infringe on anyone else’s rights.It’s the idea that you mostly govern yourself, instead of being governed by those who believe they know what’s best for and how you should live (or those who believe they had an absolute right to tell you what you will or will not do). You still mostly govern yourself in America, even if the Federal Register grows larger and more obtrusive every year.America is the idea that one can have a better life and provide the same to their families. It’s never been the guarantee of a better life, as many who have pursued it and failed have discovered. But America has always been the place where a better life could be pursued and mostly found.There is a reason more people still show up on these shores in numbers far greater than any other country on Earth. It’s because they recognize themselves in the idea that is America. They weren’t born In America, but some part of the idea was born in them. They recognized themselves as American long before they ever arrived in the United States. There are still Americans who happened to born in other countries waiting for a chance to come home for the very first time.America is still the only country where you can show up and change your national identity by simply saying so, regardless of where you were born or how long you’ve lived here. If an American man moved to France, he would always be an American. But if a Frenchman moved to America, all he would have to do is speak the words, “I am now an American,” and no one would believe the statement untrue. We’d recognize that he is an American, regardless of the place of his birth.Wanting to be American is almost all of being American. That is what America means. Essential Reading! Get my 2nd book: The Lost Art of Closing “In The Lost Art of Closing, Anthony proves that the final commitment can actually be one of the easiest parts of the sales process—if you’ve set it up properly with other commitments that have to happen long before the close. The key is to lead customers through a series of necessary steps designed to prevent a purchase stall.” Buy Now
Distancing itself from coalition partner Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) recent approach in Kashmir, ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Wednesday said it “will work towards holding a dialogue with Hurriyat and Pakistan.”“Resolution of the Kashmir issue is an article of faith with the PDP. It forms the core of late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s vision as he believed neither war nor any machinations were substitute to dialogue and reconciliation,” said PDP vice-president Mohammad Sartaj Madani.He warned that the “people of Kashmir were agonised by the confrontationist politics and provocative voices”.“There are many who spoil [the atmosphere]. In such a situation, the crisis will only worsen. There will be endless violence wounding the paradise beyond healing,” he said.Referring to the statements made by the BJP leadership on Kashmir, including Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Mr. Madani said: “Mr. Singh’s statement that ‘the government was making efforts to resolve the Kashmir issue at the earliest’ assumes significance. The PDP has forged an alliance with the BJP to see that the State comes out of instability and will ensure this objective is accomplished.”The PDP leader said there was an urgency “to give the suffering people much-needed relief by setting the stage for reconciliation and dialogue with all stakeholders, including Hurriyat and Pakistan.”The PDP’s push for dialogue comes as senior BJP leaders, including Amit Shah, Ram Madhav and Jitendra Singh, ruled out any dialogue with the Hurriyat in their recent statements.Admitting that Kashmir was again in a crisis, Mr. Madani, considered very close to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, called for “clarity on both the approach as well as the objective” of the Centre in J&K.The PDP made it clear that “any delay in implementation of the agenda of alliance will have the region back to the vicious cycle of violence.”“The PDP is in alliance with the BJP on a clear agenda of peace and dialogue on Kashmir. It was agreed upon by both [the parties] as part of the agenda. Our party will follow this with fidelity and against all odds,” said Mr. Madani.Claiming that the voices in favour of a solution “are bound to become louder”, he said, “Honesty demands that people’s sufferings end and their genuine aspirations are met, which is not possible without a sincere desire for gaining the trust of all stakeholders.”He said a spell of reconciliation from 2002 to 2005 between India and Pakistan “showed the way.”“Mr. Sayeed earned goodwill across the borders for his ideas and agendas,” said the PDP leader.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi kicked off his party’s Meghalaya campaign with a two-day trip to the State on Tuesday.“Huge crowds, excitement and energy here in Meghlaya where we launched our campaign today [Tuesday] for the Assembly polls. My family and I have had a special bond with the people of the northeast and I enjoy renewing and strengthening it with every visit,” tweeted Mr. Gandhi.On Day One, he addressed a meeting of Congress workers at Jowai, about 70 km from Shillong, and later attended a music festival in there to mark the completion of five years by the Congress government.Chief Minister Mukul Sangma is the only Chief Minister in the recent past who has completed a full five-year term, as the hill State had a history of leadership change and defections in quick succession before him. But the Congress faces stiff anti-incumbency and an aggressive BJP and its ally National People’s Party in these elections.On Saturday, the Congress released 57 names for the 60 member assembly.
Former Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio was declared winner from the Northern Angami-II Assembly constituency after his lone rival withdrew his nomination on Monday.This is the second such victory for Mr. Rio, currently Nagaland’s lone Lok Sabha member, in the space of 20 years. He won uncontested as a Congress candidate in 1998 when a boycott call made other parties shun the election.Pre-poll allianceThis time, he contested as a candidate of a new regional party, Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), which stitched together a pre-poll alliance with the BJP.“The NPF [Naga People’s Front] candidate withdrew his nomination today [Monday] and the only other candidate of the NDPP was declared winner,” Chief Electoral Officer Abhijit Sinha said.NPF spokesperson Sebastian Zumvu said the party was surprised by Mr. Angami’s decision. “But he must have realised his chances were very slim,” he said.BJP elatedLeaders of the NDPP and the BJP said Mr. Rio’s victory augured well for the alliance. “I did not expect victory to come so early. This has fuelled our confidence of a good show on February 27 [the day of polling],” Mr. Rio told The Hindu.He won the Lok Sabha polls in 2014 after serving as Nagaland’s Chief Minister for 11 years since 2003. But he made several attempts to return to State politics after anointing T.R. Zeliang as his successor.A power struggle saw Mr. Rio quit the NPF, the party he had formed along with Kewekhape Therie, now the State Congress president, and join the NDPP a few weeks ago.In 1998, Mr. Rio and Mr. Therie were among 43 Congress candidates who won the Assembly election unopposed. A similar situation happened in Arunachal Pradesh too. Of the 42 Congress candidates who won the 2014 Assembly elections in that State, 11 won it uncontested.
The Haryana Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed a Bill which provides for death penalty to those found guilty of raping girls aged 12 years or less. After Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, Haryana has become the third State where the Assembly has approved the provision of capital punishment for such sexual offenders, the House was informed. The Criminal Law (Haryana Amendment) Bill, 2018, moved by the State’s Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ram Bilas Sharma, was passed on the last day of the budget session. The Bill was passed unanimously with INLD and Congress members also lending their support. A few Congress members put forth some suggestions, with senior leader Kiran Choudhary suggesting death penalty and harsher provisions for all rapists irrespective of the age of victims. “After Section 376-A of the Penal Code, the following Section shall be inserted, namely 376-AA,” the Bill stated. Under section 376-AA, in case of rape of a girl up to 12 years of age, there will be a punishment of death or rigorous imprisonment of not less than 14 years which may extend to imprisonment for life that is for remainder period of persons natural life, according to the legislation. A provision 376-DA has also been added after section 376-D of the penal code. Under section–376-DA, if a girl upto 12 years of age is raped by one or more persons constituting a group, each of those persons shall be deemed to have committed the offence of rape and will be punished with death or rigorous imprisonment for a term which will not be less than 20 years, but which may extend to life along with a fine. The Bill also provides for making the existing criminal laws related to other sexual offences more stringent. The punishment under Section 354 of the IPC (Assault or criminal force against woman with intent to outrage her modesty) will not be less than two years (earlier not less than one year) but may extend up to seven years (earlier up to five years).Provision of fine The new additions also include provisions of fining the convict and any such fine will be paid to the victim. Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, during his speech in the House, expressed anguish over recent incidents of rape in the State. He rejected charge levelled by some Opposition members that politics was the reason for bring the tougher law.
Ahead of elections for urban bodies, State Assembly and Lok Sabha, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has started building up direct social media links with party workers in his home district Ganjam.The think tank of the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is using social media platform WhatsApp for the purpose. To educate grassroot-level workers about use of social media to remain in regular touch with their party high command, the BJD used professional trainers to train party workers about it. Training camps were held in all the 13 Assembly constituencies of Ganjam district from May 20 to 23.According to sources, the target is to link around 5,000 BJD workers from each of these Assembly segments with a WhatsApp number of the BJD chief completely dedicated for Ganjam district. All the 13 Assembly constituencies in Ganjam district are represented by BJD MLAs and the CM. Feedback receivedSpeaking to The Hindu, former State Minister and Ganjam district president of the BJD Pradeep Kumar Panigrahy said, “Within a few days we have started to receive feedback related to satisfaction of party workers regarding this direct link with our party head. He hoped that this will motivate party workers to strengthen the party organisation in Ganjam district further.” Because of it party workers are able to send messages to the CM and BJD chief directly and are also able to get his messages immediately, he added.
Congress MLA from Manipur Yamthong Haokip was arrested on Friday by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in a missing arms case, according to an official statement. The NIA is probing the case pertaining to theft of 56 pistols and 58 magazines from the Director General (of Police) pool armoury located within the premises of 2nd Manipur Rifles Battalion, Imphal. These weapons went missing between 2016 and early 2017.“Yamthong Haokip was arrested on Friday for his involvement in procuring police pistols illegally and distributing them to different terrorist groups to wage war against the State,” the NIA said in the statement.Remanded in custody Haokip, a member of the Legislative Assembly from Manipur’s Saikul, was produced before a special court in Imphal. He has been remanded in judicial custody, the probe agency said. “Owing to his recent illness, the NIA judge ordered jail authorities to admit him in a government hospital,” it said.During the investigation by the NIA, one of the missing pistols was recovered at Mantri Pukhri in Imphal on July 30, 2018, during the search conducted at the residence of Haokip, besides other incriminating articles, the statement said. During the investigation, sufficient material and other evidence was collected which established the complicity of the MLA in the case, it said. The NIA has recovered 14 weapons till date in the case and the investigation is continuing.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar’s three-day Kolhapur tour last week saw bonhomie between him and Swabhimani Paksha leader and MP Raju Shetti, leading to rumours about new alliances against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) before elections. During a closed-door meet, Mr. Shetti reportedly invited Mr. Pawar to join him in another farmers’ protest on November 29-30 against the Modi government’s “anti-famer” policies in New Delhi.Mr. Pawar has allegedly backed Mr. Shetti’s candidature from the Hatkanangale Lok Sabha constituency in Kolhapur for the 2019 Parliamentary election. The move, however, has upset candidates within the NCP as well as the Congress in the Kolhapur-Sangli belt.Mr. Shetti, a two-time MP from Hatkanangale, was a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ally, who exited from the NDA in August last year. After winning the Shirol Assembly seat as an Independent in 2004, he trumped the NCP’s MP Nivedita Mane to win the Hatkanangale Lok Sabha constituency in Kolhapur in the 2009 Parliamentary poll. He defeated former Congress MP Kallapa in the 2014 Parliamentary election. “Ms. Mane and Mr. Awade have expressed their disapproval to Mr. Pawar in person over backing Mr. Shetti for the Hatkanangale seat,” said an NCP leader from Kolhapur. Before the last Parliamentary election, Mr. Shetti had hoped that allying with the BJP would help shake off Mr. Pawar’s yoke from the sugar belt.In February, Mr. Shetti had met Mr. Pawar in New Delhi. Mr. Shetti has launched milk blockades against the State BJP government and cranked up the pressure on sugar mill owners by demanding they pay up due arrears to farmers.A parallel rift within his own party ultimately led to the ouster of his one-time close aide, Sadabhau Khot from the Swabhimani Paksha in August last year. Mr. Khot, who is Minister of State (MoS) for Agriculture and Marketing in the Devendra Fadnavis-led cabinet, floated his own outfit, the ‘Rayat Kranti Sanghatana’ in Kolhapur. He has already announced his candidature for the Hatkanangale Lok Sabha seat.
A cold wave swept through Delhi on Wednesday morning as the minimum temperature dropped to 3.6 degrees Celsius, the lowest this winter, the Met office said.“The minimum temperature was recorded at 3.6 degree Celsius, four notches below the season’s average. It is the lowest temperature recorded so far this year,” it said. Delhi has been reeling under a cold wave for the past a few days. On December 23, the minimum temperature was recorded at 3.7 degrees Celsius. It is expected to dip to 3.0 degrees Celsius after December 28. The weatherman has predicted clear skies throughout the day on Wednesday and the maximum temperature is expected to hover around 20 degrees Celsius. According to the Met department, humidity level recorded at 8.30 am was 97%.On Tuesday, the minimum temperature had settled at 5.0 degrees Celsius.Water supplies freezeThe cold wave has resulted in freezing of some water bodies, including the fringes of the famous Dal Lake in Srinagar, and residential water supply pipes in Srinagar and other towns of the Valley.Leh town in Ladakh region recorded the lowest temperature this winter as mercury plummeted to minus 17.1C last night, a Met department official said.The nearby Kargil recorded a low of minus 14.4C, he said.Srinagar — the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir — which recorded the coldest night in 11 years on Monday at minus 6.8C, experienced a similar minimum temperature last night at minus 6.7C, the official said.He said Qazigund — the gateway town to the Valley — in south Kashmir recorded a low of minus 5.9C, while the nearby Kokernag town registered a low of minus 5.4C last night.Kupwara in north Kashmir recorded a low of minus 6.4C. The night temperature in Pahalgam, which serves as one of the base camps for the annual Amarnath Yatra in south Kashmir, settled at minus 7.9C, the official said.The ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir was the coldest place in the Valley at minus 9.4C.Himachal hits minus 11.1The minimum temperature also dropped by a few notches in most parts of Himachal Pradesh. The lowest temperature in the State was recorded in tribal district Lahaul and Spiti’s administrative centre Keylong at minus 11.1 degrees Celsius, Director of the MeT Centre, Shimla, Manmohan Singh said. Besides Manali, Solan, Chamba, Kalpa, Seobagh, Sundernagar and Bhuntar were shivering at sub zero level during the period, he added The minimum temperature in Kalpa was recorded at minus 4 degrees Celsius, Manali at minus 3.4 degrees Celsius, Seobagh at minus 2.7, Sundernagar at minus 1.3, Bhuntar at minus 1, Solan at minus 0.7 and Chamba at minus 0.4 degree Celsius, he added. However, the minimum temperature in Shimla was 2.7 degrees Celsius and in Dalhousie it was 1.6 degrees Celsius during the period, he added
Lalu calls the shots from hospitalNotwithstanding the fodder scam conviction, opposition politics coalesces around RJD chief Amarnath TewaryPatnaRashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad has been in prison for over a year now after being convicted in fodder scam cases, but he continues to be the biggest electoral glue for the opposition parties in the State.The government hospital in Ranchi, where he is admitted for medical attention, has lately become the epicentre of the seat-sharing confabulations among leaders of the Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance).“One may take Lalu out of Bihar, but no one can take Bihar out of Lalu… for nearly three decades he has been at the centre of State politics,” said senior RJD national vice-president Shivanand Tiwari.After the party’s parliamentary board meeting in Patna recently, RJD leaders authorised Mr. Prasad to take a final call on party candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls as also seat-sharing arrangements with the party’s alliance partners.“Lalu’s vote bank has increased since his imprisonment as was reflected in the Assembly and Lok Sabha bypoll results,” said political anayst Ajay Kumar. “It has also given him an opportunity to create a political base for his younger son and heir apparent Tejashwi Yadav.”“Despite all the opposition voices, there is no leader in Bihar today who has mass support like Lalu. He is the political pulse of the State,” said Mr. Kumar.State RJD leaders believe that Mr. Prasad would be able to finalise seat-sharing arrangements with the party’s alliance partners soon. “Leaders of almost all alliance partners have met Laluji at the Ranchi hospital and an announcement on seat sharing would be made soon,” said State RJD chief Ram Chandra Purve.However, BJP leaders refuse to accept the political and electoral invincibility of Mr. Prasad. “Lalu is no more a mass leader but a caste leader… what happened to his invincibility in the 2005 Assembly and the 2014 Lok Sabha polls? His vote share too is decreasing,” a senior State BJP leader said.“Lalu is now a spent force. He is in jail in corruption cases and several of his family members too are facing charges. We all know very well what the previous RJD regime was all about…everywhere there was loot and crime,” said Janata Dal (United) spokesperson Neeraj Kumar.His party leaders, however, are hopeful that he would get bail and come out to campaign in the upcoming polls. In the 2015 Assembly polls, he addressed nearly 300 rallies and public meetings. “The bail petition was filed in Supreme Court in the last week of February. We hope Lalu gets bail and comes out of jail to campaign,” Mr. Tiwari said.
An international angling group should stop awarding weight-based world records for fish species threatened with extinction, researchers argue in a new study. The awards encourage the killing of the heaviest, most fecund fish, the scientists say, and should be replaced by conservation-friendlier records based on length.Since 1939, the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) of Dania Beach, Florida, has been a leading record-keeper for recreational anglers, certifying who has caught the biggest fish. Today, it maintains records for some 1200 species.In their study, published online before print in Marine Policy, the researchers found that 85 of those species are listed as either vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. That’s a concern, the authors say, because although commercial fishers are sometimes barred from killing endangered species, recreational anglers often can. The researchers are particularly worried about the impact of trophy fishing, because removing the largest individuals can have a disproportionate impact on a population.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The most common method of certifying the size of landed fish is based on mass. But weighing large fish typically requires anglers to transport them to an official land-based weigh station—a method that makes it unlikely that the fish will survive. In many cases, this means the loss of egg-bearing females, because the females are larger than males in many species. So by killing big fish, the authors note, trophy anglers often remove individuals that are capable of producing the most high-quality larvae and helping depleted populations recover.Shifting to length-based records could reduce such mortality, says the research team, led by researchers at the University of Miami’s Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy. Anglers could use cameras or smart phones to validate catches and release record fish where possible.“If the IGFA stopped issuing records that implicitly require killing the fish for IUCN Red List Threatened species, it would immediately reduce fishing pressure on the largest individuals,” they write. “So long as there are incentives to catch the largest, oldest, most fecund and fittest individuals within a population, recreational fishing pressure will continue to target these fish and likely exacerbate population declines.”IGFA already uses length-based records to verify some “catch-and-release” records. The scientists recommend that the IGFA now declare that weight-based world records will no longer be issued for species on the IUCN’s Red List.The proposed change would affect just 7% of the species on IGFA’s list and have only a small impact on anglers, according to the researchers. But “few policy changes in the world can do so much for so many species for so little cost.”David Shiffman, the study’s lead author and a marine biologist studying shark biology and conservation at the University of Miami, says the analysis was inspired by recent hearings concerning a proposed ban on killing scalloped and great hammerhead sharks in Florida waters—two species listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List. “Several anglers said they were opposed to protecting these species, one of which is so depleted that it just became the first species of shark protected by the U.S. Endangered Species Act, because it would stop them from going for IGFA world records,” he says.As ScienceInsider went to press, IGFA had not responded to a request for comment.
After more than a decade with Microsoft, Shama Joshi had had enough . . . bad Indian food.Joshi, a computer scientist by training, dropped out of the tech industry in 2016 to open her own food truck, Roll OK Please. The change of careers met her desire to own her own business, and fill what she sees as the dearth of good Indian food in Seattle. Related Items
As hundreds of millions of Indians prepare to vote in a new government this year, Facebook is making sure its users in the country know political ads when they see them.Starting Thursday, Facebook (FB) users in India will see disclaimers on ads that feature politicians, parties, elections or particular pieces of legislation, the company announced.Read it at CNN Related Items
Reliance Entertainment, operator of India’s largest theater group Ad Labs, is setting up a nationwide theater chain under the banner of Big Cinemas across the United States. The company has acquired 250 screens in 28 North American locations, including New York, New Jersey, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, San Jose, Los Angeles, Washington State and Washington, D.C.Even though its theaters are in major Indian hubs, the company is targeting the mainstream market. The company says the theaters will play some Bollywood and other ethnic movies, but the vast majority of the screens will be devoted to mainstream fare. Related Items
From confrontation between India and Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir, it’s a television signal war to grab the attention of locals now. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has launched a major drive in the border areas to wean away locals from channels beamed from across the border. Over 30,000 free Doordarshan (DD) dish set-top boxes have been earmarked to be distributed in 10 border districts closer to the LoC and the International Border (IB), out of the State’s 22 districts. They will provide 100 channels for free, including local news channels. Only dish antennas Hundreds of residents, especially in the Pir Panjal Valley’s Rajouri and Poonch districts, have only dish antennas or traditional antennas because no cable operator can access the tough terrain. Given their geographical location, these antennas easily catch TV channels from across the border, including the official channels of Pakistan Television (PTV). “We use dish antennas. We easily access channels from across the border. Pakistani serials are very popular with the population closer to the LoC,” N.A. Manhas, a resident of Poonch’s Meandhar, told The Hindu.‘A better alternative’ Doing away with the one-time fee of around ₹2,000 for these set-top boxes, the State government will make them available for free. “There are undesirable channels, not approved by the Ministry, being received and watched in J&K. Strategically, the move will help us to reach out to people with a better alternative,” a senior DD official said. Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner, Rajouri, Mohammad Aijaz Asad, said free dish set-top boxes were recently distributed in Rajouri’s Nowshera and Seri area among border residents during the ‘Back to Village’ programme, where senior officials directly meet sarpanchs and panchs in far-off villages.Governor Satya Pal Malik kicked off the distribution of these set-top boxes on June 22 in Srinagar and termed it a significant milestone towards achieving the goal of reaching out to people living in far-flung and border areas.“Through these set-top boxes, authentic information will be disseminated to border residents, where connectivity has always remained an issue,” Mr. Malik said, while launching the programme.
The government is enabling a platform to digitise records of all persons who will be declared foreigners by the Foreigners Tribunals (FTs) in Assam after the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) is published later this month. The E-Foreigners Tribunals (e-FTs) will store biometrics such as fingerprints and iris scans of such persons, and help the External Affairs Ministry expedite deportation in appropriate cases by reducing paperwork. Including 1985 recordsA senior government official said the platform would not only include data on fresh cases that will come up for hearing after the final NRC is published but also digitise records dating back to 1985.“The FTs first came up in 1985. The details of persons declared foreigners all these years will also be available on e-FT. The centralised details would [for example] help the Ministry take up the deportation process of a foreigner staying here illegally, to the country concerned without getting embroiled in unnecessary paperwork through multiple agencies,” the official said. Till February 28, 63,959 persons were declared foreigners through ex parte proceedings by the FTs in Assam, Union Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy informed the Lok Sabha on Tuesday. “The implementation of e-FT approved by the Centre is in progress. The basic aim is to integrate all nodes in the ecosystem, including FTs, NRC and border police,” Assam Home Commissioner and Secretary Ashutosh Agnihotri told The Hindu.Mr. Agnihotri handles the Department of Implementation of Assam Accord, which was signed in August 1985. This accord prescribed midnight of March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for detection, detention and deportation of illegal migrants.The border police, or the Assam Police Border Organisation, was formed in 1962 under the Prevention of Infiltration of Pakistanis scheme. The scheme was renamed Prevention of Infiltration of Foreigners after the birth of Bangladesh in 1971.The proposed integrated e-FT system will be implemented across Assam for effective monitoring and resolution of cases registered with the FTs. The Centre has approved increasing the number of FTs from the current 100 to 1,000. Of these, 400 are to be in operation by July 31, the last date for publishing the final NRC list in Assam. The objective of e-FT is to maintain a statewide biometric and biographic data and to capture the details of illegal migrants toward transparency, added the official. “It is also envisaged to help in the legalisation of eligible beneficiaries for welfare schemes,” he said. To assist judiciaryThe expected benefits of e-FT, officials said, include strengthening the judiciary in the disposal of cases and help the police in more accurate and faster detection, prosecution and detention.On Supreme Court directions, the Registrar General of India (RGI) published the final draft list of NRC on July 30 last year to segregate Indian citizens living in Assam from those who had illegally entered the State from Bangladesh after March 25, 1971. Nearly 41 lakh people have been excluded from the final draft. Of these, 36 lakh have filed claims against the exclusion. Even after the final NRC is published, those excluded will have legal options to challenge the decision first in FTs and also in the High Courts. “We are recording the biometrics of those who have filed claims and the UIDAI is storing it in its server,” the official said.
The police here on Tuesday lodged an FIR against former Union Minister and BJP leader Swami Chinmayanand after a student went missing following her allegation in a video clip that he had been harassing her.Her father had filed a complaint with the police accusing Chinmayanand of sexually harassing her, a charge refuted by his lawyer who claimed it was a “conspiracy” to blackmail him.Shahjahanpur Superintendent of Police S. Chanappa said he has been booked under IPC Sections 364 (kidnapping or abducting in order to murder) and 506 (criminal intimidation) based on the father’s complaint.In a video clip posted by the woman online, she said she was under threat from a leader of the sant community, without naming Chinmayanand or specifying the kind of harassment she allegedly faced.But the woman’s father on Tuesday alleged that she has gone missing at the behest of the 72-year-old BJP leader, who heads Mumukshu ashram. She is a post-graduate student in one of the colleges run by the ashram.Her father alleged that Chinmayanand and “some others” sexually abused her and other girls.Chinmayanand has been a three-time Lok Sabha MP and was a Minister of State in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. In 2011, he was accused of rape by an inmate of his ashram.When contacted, his lawyer Om Singh claimed that the leader was being blackmailed and had received a WhatsApp message demanding ₹5 crore.He said an FIR was lodged over this on August 25.The SP said that the video and the message demanding money from the former Minister will be probed by senior officers, and action will be taken against those guilty.
Frustrated by the lack of a decision from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leadership on the Indapur Assembly seat, senior Congress leader Harshavardhan Patil has called for a meeting of his followers on Wednesday, lending credence to long-standing speculation that he may join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) soon.Mr. Patil, a four-time MLA from his stronghold Indapur and a former State minister, is one of the few big leaders left in the Congress, which has seen defections to the saffron coalition of late. According to sources, he is expected to announce his decision post-noon at a ‘Jansankalp’ (public resolution) meeting of his followers in Indapur. It remains to be seen whether Mr. Patil announces his decision to contest as an Independent or ally himself with the BJP.After being elected MLA for four consecutive terms beginning in 1995, Mr. Patil had suffered a humiliating defeat at hands of the NCP’s Dattatrey Bharne in the 2014 Assembly elections when the Congress and the NCP had contested separately. Mr. Patil is seeking to reassert himself and contest from Indapur in the Assembly election with the NCP’s help as a ‘return favour’ to the help he had given NCP MP Supriya Sule to ensure her victory from the Baramati Lok Sabha seat.The Indapur Assembly segment forms part of the Baramati Lok Sabha constituency, the stronghold of NCP chief Sharad Pawar. Mr. Patil wields considerable influence over the Indapur and Bhor Assembly segments.The rivalry between the Pawar clan and Mr. Patil’s family was aggravated when Mr. Patil lost the 2014 Assembly elections. However, with the BJP ascendant in Maharashtra and the Congress and Mr. Pawar’s political fortunes on the wane, Mr. Pawar had sought to pacify Mr. Patil in a bid to ensure that he campaigned for the re-election of Ms. Sule, his daughter and cousin of senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar.Just before the Lok Sabha elections, Ajit Pawar had conferred with Mr. Patil at his residence in Pune to ensure that he campaigned for Ms. Sule. According to Mr. Patil’s supporters, the Congressman’s campaign for Ms. Sule helped her secure critical votes that ultimately ensured the NCP MP’s re-election for the third time.However, the NCP leadership including Mr. Pawar, has not shown any inclination to let go of the Indapur Assembly seat for Mr. Patil. Observers say, given the rapid rate of defections in the NCP, the party is unwilling to ‘unseat’ Mr. Bharne and give preference to Mr. Patil. As a result, a visibly disappointed Mr. Patil has been holding meetings of his followers in the past few weeks. “You must decide whether or not I ought to contest the polls. If yes, you must be ready for the electoral fight,” said Mr. Patil, at a meeting, while hitting out at the NCP’s ‘lack of gratitude’.In response, NCP State president Jayant Patil, during the party’s ‘Shiv Swarajya Yatra’ in Indapur has said that decisions on whether to leave a particular seat or not could not be made through the media. “If Mr. Pawar does not take a call on the Indapur Assembly seat soon and if Mr. Patil exits, it will be a situation similar to one that forced the Vikhe-Patils to leave the Congress,” said a city-based analyst.The BJP, on its part, has been trying hard to woo Mr. Patil, with State unit president Chandrakant Patil making overtures to the Congressman before the Lok Sabha elections.
A sum of ₹170 crore was provided to 3.41 lakh ineligible persons under the Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) scheme, the Odisha government has found.The money was transferred to the bank accounts of the beneficiaries under the scheme that was conceived and implemented before the simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in the State.Although one member of a family was eligible for getting benefits under the scheme, the government found that three lakh people belonged to families with multiple beneficiaries. Besides, fake beneficiaries under the scheme included 20,000 government employees and pensioners, 12,000 big farmers and 9,000 minor boys and girls.The government had started the process of verification in the first week of August to exclude ineligible beneficiaries and include the deserving families.Refund planGiving details of the verification exercise, Agriculture Minister Arun Kumar Sahoo told journalists on Tuesday that big farmers who had been paid assistance would be encouraged to refund the money.As for the three lakh ineligible beneficiaries, Mr. Sahoo said the assistance released to them would be adjusted in the subsequent instalments that would be extended to their families under the scheme. The government employees and pensioners who had received assistance will be asked to refund the amount or else the amount will be deducted from their salary/pension, said Mr. Sahoo.The Minister further said that any genuine beneficiary who feels that he or she has been wrongly excluded can apply online through the website kalia.co.in with complete documents and steps for inclusion will be taken after verification of the papers.