Latest Gujarat Breaking News & Headlines

Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority raises charge for utility poles, towers
Times of India | 6 hours ago | 28-01-2023 | 05:55 am
Times of India
6 hours ago | 28-01-2023 | 05:55 am

AHMEDABAD: Installation charges for utility lines - whether overhead or undeground - will see a steep increase as the apex planning body of the city, the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (Auda), has resolved to charge as much as 15 times the jantri rates for land on which electric poles or towers are installed. Earlier, Auda had no policy to charge utility companies for cables. For this, it examined the policies of Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) and Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC). Auda's policy was finalized by its land disposable and price fixing committee. In Ahmedabad city and Auda areas, market prices of commercial plots were found to be between 5.33 and 22.72 times higher than the 2011 jantri rates. The Auda board resolved on January 7 that a one-time licence fee of Rs 100 per metre for overhead and underground high tension cables and Rs 50 per metre for LT cables would be charged. AUDA stated in the proposal that GIDC's policy is that if a power company needs underground cable passage or installing of poles or towers over GIDC land, it was charged 10% of distribution charges, for a period of 10 years. After that, Right of Use (ROU) charges are 10% for every subsequent year. If the cable passes through saleable GIDC land, it is charged 100% of the jantri rate for the area that it utilizes. In AMC areas, Getco and other power companies are charged a one-time licence fee of Rs 100 per running metre for high-tension and overhead cables, and Rs 50 per running metre for low-tension cable. "Auda earlier had a policy for telecom companies installing cables below footpaths, dividers and junctions, and a one-time charge that was 40 per cent of jantri rate was charged, but ownership of the land remained that of the authority," said a senior Auda official.

Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority raises charge for utility poles, towers
Amplified sound from religious places should not go beyond premises: Ahmedabad police
Times of India | 6 hours ago | 28-01-2023 | 05:40 am
Times of India
6 hours ago | 28-01-2023 | 05:40 am

AHMEDABAD: While the city police commissioner's office has sought to curb noise pollution in public places and on public roads by imposing restrictions, it has also provided for religious places to not set their sound systems so loud that the sound travels beyond their premises. The circular issued on January 20 prohibits the use of microphone systems and instruments in public spaces, and permission is needed to play music and use public address systems. The circular permits the use of the microphone systems on certain conditions. For religious places, it says, "In temples, churches and mosques, the sound of the mike system/instrument should be limited in such a way that it does not go beyond the premises." The circular permits the use of mike systems and instruments in all private or closed places, and no permission is required to play music or sound systems in private places or closed areas such as auditoriums, community halls or conference halls, but "its sound should not go outside that place". Since the restrictions have been imposed by exercising powers under Section 144 of the CrPC, non-compliance is a violation under Section 188 of the IPC and is punishable by up to six months in jail. Besides making prior permission mandatory for processions and rallies, the circular also introduced the same provisions for use of any microphone systems or instruments on a moving vehicle. A policeman can ask for written permission from the person using a sound system, and upon violation of conditions, the permission can be cancelled. In case of violations, police may also seize tools and equipment from processionists. Those in the business out renting sound systems have been asked not to rent them without adhering to conditions including prior permission. The circular is for strict implementation of the Gujarat Pollution Control Board's (GPCB) December 2019 notification aiming at curbing noise pollution. The circular provides for permission to play music and use mike systems only during the day, and according to provisions of the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Prohibitions) Rules 2000, the use of mike systems/instruments may not be permitted at night - from 10pm to 6am. The city police action comes three days before the Gujarat high court is scheduled to hear a PIL filed by advocate Kaivan Dastoor, demanding implementation of GPCB notifications and complaining about police inaction.

Amplified sound from religious places should not go beyond premises: Ahmedabad police
Madras University students screen BBC documentary ‘to protect democracy’
Times of India | 15 hours ago | 27-01-2023 | 08:07 pm
Times of India
15 hours ago | 27-01-2023 | 08:07 pm

CHENNAI: A group of Madras University students on Friday screened a BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's role in the 2002 Gujarat riots. They were protesting against the Union government blocking the online links to the documentary.The members of Students Federation of India (SFI) in Madras University had sought the university's permission to screen the documentary in the university's auditorium. However, the university authorities did not give permission. So, a group of students gathered outside the auditorium and tried to screen the movie. University staff tried to prevent the screening. Students argued that it was not banned in the country and went ahead screening it on a laptop."The BBC documentary exposes how the riots against the minorities were supported by the then Gujarat government headed by Modi in 2002. The SFI had called for screening of the documentary on every campus in the country to expose Modi’s role in the riots," said SFI Chennai central district president V Arunkumar.Mirudhula, another student, said the protest was organised to save democracy. "The Union government is misusing its power by blocking the documentary. They are spreading hatred against Muslims and minorities," she said."The preamble of the Constitution says it is a democratic, secular republic. However, the government is blocking access to the BBC documentary to prevent students from knowing the truth about the Gujarat riots," said SFI state secretary Niruban Chakaravarthy.When contacted, Madras University officials told TOI that the auditorium was not available on Friday and some students from outside the university screened the documentary. However, students said they were postgraduate students studying social sciences in the university.

Madras University students screen BBC documentary ‘to protect democracy’
  • Left Student Bodies Plan To Screen BBC Documentary On PM In Kolkata
  • Ndtv

    The Student Federation of India (SFI) will show the documentary at Jadavpur University on Thursday.Kolkata:  Left student bodies of West Bengal have planned to screen the controversial BBC documentary on the 2002 Gujarat riots and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the campuses of at least two universities of Kolkata.The Student Federation of India (SFI) will show the documentary at Jadavpur University on Thursday and at Presidency University the day after, the state organisation's assistant secretary Subhajit Sarkar said."The documentary will be screened via a projector. We are yet to get permission from the university authorities. We will carry on with the screening even if we do not get it," Sarkar said. "We hope that many of the general students, including those who don't support us, will come and watch it. We want people to join us in discussion and debate about the film," he said.All India Students' Association (AISA), another Left body, also decided to screen the documentary on the campus of Jadavpur University on January 27, said Sandip Nayak, a senior member of the organisation.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comMembers of Presidency University's visual arts society will also screen the documentary on February 1, said Moitreyo Sarkar, one of the organisers.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)Featured Video Of The DayStubble Burning In Bhopal Gets A Fresh, Eco-Friendly Solution

BBC Series On PM Screened At Jadavpur University In Kolkata
Ndtv | 16 hours ago | 27-01-2023 | 07:26 pm
Ndtv
16 hours ago | 27-01-2023 | 07:26 pm

Left student's body arranged the BBC documentary screening at Jadavpur University. (File)Kolkata: More than 100 students at Jadavpur University have reportedly watched the controversial BBC documentary on 2002 Gujarat riots, with a Left student's body having arranged its screening. The Centre has recently issued directions for blocking multiple YouTube videos and Twitter posts sharing links to the documentary 'India: The Modi Question', which claims to have investigated certain aspects relating to the 2002 riots when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister of the state.The Student Federation of India (SFI), a Communist Party of India (Marxist)'s arm, said the police or institute authorities did not interfere with the screening at Jadavpur University on Thursday.SFI state unit assistant secretary Subhajit Sarkar said that the student's body will hold another screening at Presidency University on Friday.Authorities at Presidency are yet to give a formal nod, but "we will still go ahead with the show", he said.Mr Sarkar, a former Presidency student, also claimed, "The varsity has effected a power cut at the badminton court, where the screening was supposed to be held. We will now use the common room for the show." An official at the university, however, said the power cut happened due to technical reasons.He stated that no such documentary was being shown on the university premises.Meanwhile, All India Students' Association (AISA), another Left body, said it will hold another screening of the documentary at Jadavpur University on Friday.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comThe Centre also ordered YouTube to take down copies of the document.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)Featured Video Of The Day"Had To Call Off My Walk...": Rahul Gandhi Alleges Security Lapse At Yatra

BBC Series On PM Screened At Jadavpur University In Kolkata
  • Amid Row, Congress Screens BBC Documentary On PM Modi In Kerala
  • Ndtv

    The Congress unit in Kerala screened the controversial BBC documentaryThiruvananthapuram: The Congress unit in Kerala on Thursday screened the controversial BBC documentary on PM Narendra Modi in Thiruvananthapuram even though the central government has banned it in India saying it's false and motivated "propaganda".The public showing of the series — the two-part documentary speaks about the 2002 Gujarat riots and PM Modi's politics — was one of many such events organised by several Opposition parties and free-speech activists across the country. The Congress is in the opposition in Kerala, too, but the ruling CPM has also taken a stand against banning the documentary.In Kerala, the documentary is at the centre of row even within the Congress as veteran leader AK Antony's son Anil K Antony recently quit the party alleging "intolerant calls to retract a tweet" in which he had defied the Congress stand and called the BBC documentary a "dangerous precedent".In response to Anil Antony's argument that it undermines India's sovereignty, senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, Lok Sabha member from Thiruvananthapuram, had said his argument is "immature"."[Are] our national security and sovereignty so fragile to be affected by a documentary?" Mr Tharoor said.Today's screening on Shangumugham Beach in Kerala capital Thiruvananthapuram came in quick succession of such protest screenings in Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and one by the Congress student wing NSUI in Chandigarh.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comMeanwhile, the Students Federation of India (SFI) also screened the documentary on the campus of Jadavpur University in Kolkata on Thursday evening, without any interference from the police.Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, speaking to reporters in Jammu, had questioned censorship. "Truth shines bright. It has a nasty habit of coming out. So no amount of banning, oppression and frightening people is going to stop the truth from coming out," he said.

  • Law minister Rijiju slams controversial BBC documentary on PM Modi
  • Times of India

    NEW DELHI: Law Minister Kiren Rijiju has slammed the controversial BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the 2002 Gujarat riots, saying India's image cannot be disgraced with "malicious campaigns". In a series of tweets in English and Hindi on Saturday and Sunday, he said minorities, or for that matter, every community in India is moving ahead positively. "India's image cannot be disgraced by malicious campaigns launched inside or outside India," he said, adding that Prime Minister Modi's voice is the voice of 1.4 billion Indians. "Some people in India have still not gotten over the colonial hangover. They consider BBC above the Supreme Court of India and lower the country's dignity and image to any extent to please their moral masters," Rijiju said. He said much cannot be expected from members of the "tukde-tukde gang who seek to weaken the might of India.

  • ‘Unrelenting prejudice’: 300+ eminent citizens slam BBC’s PM Modi documentary
  • Times of India

    NEW DELHI: A group of over 300 eminent Indians, including ex-judges, retired bureaucrats and military veterans, on Saturday slammed a BBC documentary on PM Modi for its “unrelenting prejudice” towards India. In a signed statement, they criticised the BBC series, which they claimed is based on “deluded and slanted reporting” and presumes to call into question the entire foundation of India’s existence as an independent, democratic country. The documentary claims it probed certain aspects relating to the 2002 Gujarat riots when Modi was Gujarat CM. The I&B ministry has issued directions for blocking multiple YouTube videos and Twitter posts sharing links to the series. “Yet again, the staple, dyed-in-the-wool negativity and unrelenting prejudice of the BBC toward India has resurfaced as a documentary...,” said the letter, signed by 13 ex-judges, 133 ex-bureaucrats, including diplomats, and 156 military veterans. Prominent among the signatories include ex-chief justice of Rajasthan HC Anil Deo Singh, ex-home secretary LS Goyal, former RAW chief Sanjeev Tripathi, former NIA chief Yogesh Chander Modi and ex-UP DGP OP Singh.They said the film is “a visibly motivated chargesheet against our leader, a fellow Indian and a patriot”. “We can’t allow just about anyone to run amok with their deliberate bias, their vacuous reasoning hiding behind phrases like ‘it was widely reported’ or that ‘there were pretty credible reports’,” the statement said. It pointed out that the glaring factual errors apart, the documentary reeks of motivated distortion that is as “mind-numbingly unsubstantiated as it is nefarious”.“This is demonstrated by its completely sidelining the core fact: that the apex judicial institution of India, the Supreme Court, has unambiguously ruled out any role of Modi in the Gujarat violence of 2002, while rejecting allegations of complicity and inaction by the then Gujarat government,” it said.

Delhi University Students Detained Amid Clashes Over BBC Series On PM Modi: 10 Points
Ndtv | 17 hours ago | 27-01-2023 | 06:53 pm
Ndtv
17 hours ago | 27-01-2023 | 06:53 pm

New Delhi: Delhi University's Arts Faculty campus saw police action as students sought to screen a BBC documentary on PM Narendra Modi even as the government has imposed restrictions. Here is the story as it unfolded, in 10 key factsStudents at Delhi University were dragged away by police from the campus on Friday evening as they sought to publicly screen a controversial BBC documentary series about PM Narendra Modi and the BJP's alleged communal politics. This came just two days after similar scenes were witnessed at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi. Student activists said the police acted violently even though the intention was for students to peacefully watch the documentary. They also alleged that "Sanghi goons" — reference to members of the BJP's mentor body RSS and its wings — attacked those gathered for the event too. Are police in-charge Sagar Singh Kalsi said 24 students were detained and the situation is now "back to normal".University officials said no permission was sought for a public screening and there were also orders issued by the district administration against any mass gathering. DU Chief Proctor Rajni Abbi, who called the cops, saw justification in the police action. "Yes, students have been detained. Have they taken permission? When police have imposed Section 144, why have they collected?" she said. She alleged that the students were "not even interested" in showing the documentary. "They just want disruptive things."The two-part series, which references the 2002 Gujarat riots and recent incidents of communal violence, has been termed by the central government as false and motivated propaganda. The government has used emergency powers to force social media outlets such as YouTube and Twitter to take it down.Ahead of screening that was planned for 5.30 pm, large number of students — led by those belonging to Left parties and other Opposition parties — gathered at DU Arts Faculty area and protested imposition of Section 144 in the area to stop the screening.Clashes erupted as right-wing student groups allegedly came to protest against the event. Those wanting the screening raised slogans of "Delhi police, go back", and the police began detaining some people who were allegedly "not students, but anti-social elements"."We were about to start the screening when Sanghi goons attacked us and started dragging those gathered for it. Police closed the gates and did not allow people to enter for the event," said a student who had come for the screening from the DU-affiliated Hindu College.The DU official said holding a mass screening was the point of contention. "They can watch it at their homes; who's stopping them?" said Chief Proctor Rajni Abbi, adding that she suspected they were outsiders. About police violently dragging students, she said, "Why are they here, first of all? [The screening] is not allowed here."The screening attempt was at the latest of such protests events held across the country, including in Delhi, Chandigarh, Kolkata and Thiruvananthapuram. Opposition parties have slammed the BJP for trying to ban the documentary altogether. Student groups have led the protests.The BBC has defended the series as a “rigorously researched” piece of journalism that wants to highlight important issues.Post a comment

Delhi University Students Detained Amid Clashes Over BBC Series On PM Modi: 10 Points
Morbi bridge collapse case: Police file 1,262-page charge-sheet; Jaysukh Patel named as accused, absconder
Times of India | 20 hours ago | 27-01-2023 | 03:52 pm
Times of India
20 hours ago | 27-01-2023 | 03:52 pm

MORBI: The Morbi Police in Gujarat on Friday filed a charge-sheet in the bridge collapse case. Oreva group offers compensation for Morbi bridge collapse, admits 'some wrongs'The police have added Jaysukh Patel — promotor of Ajanta-Oreva group — as an accused and showed him an absconder in the charge-sheet filed in a court.Read AlsoFive unanswered questions about Gujarat's Morbi tragedyAs death toll in Sunday night's hanging bridge collapse mounted to 134 in the worst-ever such catastrophe witnessed in the country in the past decade, several questions about the tragedy remain unanswered.Jaysukh undergroundJaysukh Patel — the main accused in this case — has been incommunicado and underground for the last three months and the police secured an arrest warrant against him under CrPC section 70. Total 135 people had lost their lives on October 30 when a suspension bridge in Morbi town collapsed during Diwali holidays. The police have arrested nine accused in this case including two managers of Oreva group, ticket clerk and security personnel.Before Morbi bridge collapsed: What crowds looked like1,262-page charge-sheetAccording to the police, the charge-sheet contains 1,262 pages and the police have recorded the statements of a total 367 witnesses, including the family members of the deceased and injured people. The charge-sheet also contains the statement of civil hospital doctors and all those doctors of private hospitals who had treated the injured. The statements of other witnesses of this incident were also recorded.CCTV: Morbi bridge collapse caught on cameraThe statement of other concerned persons like the chief officer of Morbi Municipality was also recorded and presented in the charge-sheet. The police recorded around four persons’ statements under CrPC section 164 before the magistrate who provided crucial information which helped police in collecting the evidence. The police impounded documents from Rajkot Mamlatdar, Morbi Municipality and Oreva’s office regarding the contract of maintenance of the bridge assigned to Oreva Group since 2007, the correspondence between collector office, municipality and Oreva also impounded and presented in the charge sheet. The detailed FSL report has not been received yet.The police mentioned the forwarding letters written to the FSL to provide the detailed report, which will be submitted to the court later.

Morbi bridge collapse case: Police file 1,262-page charge-sheet; Jaysukh Patel named as accused, absconder
Gujarat Bridge Renovation Firm Boss Named As Prime Accused In Chargesheet
Ndtv | 23 hours ago | 27-01-2023 | 12:51 pm
Ndtv
23 hours ago | 27-01-2023 | 12:51 pm

A 1,262-page charge-sheet names Jaysukh Patel as the main accused and an "absconder".Nearly three months after a British-era bridge crashed in Gujarat's Morbi, killing 135 people, Jaysukh Patel, the top boss of the company hired for the maintenance and repair of the bridge, has been named the prime accused in a charge-sheet.Jaysukh Patel, the promoter of Oreva Group and managing director of Ajanta Manufacturing Limited, has been missing since the incident in October. A warrant was put out for his arrest last week. To evade arrest, he filed a request for bail on January 16.A 1,262-page charge-sheet names him as the main accused and an "absconder"."All steps are being taken to arrest him as soon as possible. He is untraceable right now," said senior police officer Ashok Yadav.Oreva Group, a company known for making wall clocks under the Ajanta brand, was inexplicably given the contract for the renovation, operation, and maintenance of the 100-year-old suspension bridge over the Machchhu River. The bridge collapsed on October 30, four days after it reopened.A Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed by the state government cited several lapses by the Oreva Group, like shoddy maintenance, the failure to limit the number of people on the bridge and the unrestricted sale of tickets.The police say around 300 people were on the bridge and it collapsed when the cables snapped.Patel is listed as the 10th accused alongside the nine arrested earlier, including the subcontractors, daily wage labourers who worked as ticket clerks, and security guards. But the opposition has alleged that the "big fish" are roaming free.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comThe BJP government in Gujarat faced accusations of shielding the politically influential industrialist ahead of the assembly elections, which the party swept.The Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) report on the incident revealed that rusty cables, broken anchor pins, and loose bolts were not addressed during the renovation of the bridge. The report also stated that Oreva Group did not hire any expert agency to assess the load-bearing capacity of the bridge before opening it to the public.

Gujarat Bridge Renovation Firm Boss Named As Prime Accused In Chargesheet
BBC Series Screened At Hyderabad University Again. "The Kashmir Files" Too
Ndtv | 1 day ago | 27-01-2023 | 10:10 am
Ndtv
1 day ago | 27-01-2023 | 10:10 am

'India: The Modi Question' has deemed a propaganda piece by the Centre.Hyderabad: The Students Federation of India (SFI) on Thursday organised the screening of the controversial BBC documentary on the 2002 Gujarat riots at the University of Hyderabad (UoH) here even as the RSS' student wing, ABVP showed the controversial film 'The Kashmir Files', on the campus.The Fraternity Movement in UoH campus, a students' group, had earlier organised the screening of the BBC documentary "India: The Modi Question" on January 21, at the varsity campus without prior notice or permission, prompting the University authorities to seek a report on the incident for taking necessary action.Glimpses from the succesful screening of the documentary 'India: The Modi Question' organized by SFI HCU on the Republic Day following the call of SFI CEC. More than 400 students turned out for the screening rejecting the false propaganda and the attempts of ABVP to (1/2) pic.twitter.com/Jy3On3Kps5— SFI HCU Unit (@SfiHcu) January 26, 2023The screening of the documentary "India: The Modi Question", the access to which was recently blocked by the Centre on social media platforms, was earlier announced by the SFI at the university campus."Glimpses from the successful screening of the documentary 'India: The Modi Question' organised by SFI HCU on the Republic Day following the call of SFI CEC. More than 400 students turned up for the screening, rejecting the false propaganda and the attempts of ABVP to create unrest and the administration to disrupt the screening of the documentary. SFI-HCU salutes the student community who have stood for freedom of expression and campus democracy," a social media post by SFI HCU said, tagging the photos.UoH, is also known as Hyderabad Central University (HCU).Countering it, the students of ABVP HCU organised the screening of 'The Kashmir Files,' on the university campus today.Join us for the movie screening of "The Kashmir Files" on 26th January 2023 at 6pm at Ambedkar Chowk (North ShopCom).#RightToJustice#TheKashmirFiles#ABVP#ABVPHCU#RepublicDaypic.twitter.com/4fcx8vybsI— ABVP HCU (@abvpuoh) January 25, 2023Written and directed by Vivek Agnihotri, the Bollywood film depicts the exodus of Kashmiri Hindus from Kashmir following systematic killings of people from the community by Pakistan-backed terrorists.UoH Registrar Devesh Nigam in a statement said the Dean-Students' Welfare had counselled the student groups and issued an appeal not to do any screening of films in view of the law and order issue, maintaining peace and tranquility in campus and forthcoming end semester exams starting from next week.However, students decided to go ahead with their programme schedule."We have come to know that one group held the screening in one of the hostels," he said adding the campus is peaceful.Earlier, a group of ABVP members staged a protest in front of the main gate of the varsity and raised slogans against the University administration alleging that the security personnel did not allow them to enter the varsity premises along with the screening equipment.They held a sit-in and sought to know from the University administration how permission was granted to the SFI to screen the BBC documentary and said they will not allow its screening."The University Administration tried to stop the screening of the movie 'The Kashmir Files'. When ABVP Karyakartas were bringing the projector from the main gate, University Security manhandled our Karyakartas. There was another attempt by the administration to seize our projector. We protested at the main gate and we have arranged everything for the screening. We appeal to the student community to join us in large numbers at Ambedkar Chowk (North ShopCom)," a social media post by the ABVP HCU said.The Union government had last week directed social media platforms such as Twitter and YouTube to block links to the documentary "India: The Modi Question". The Ministry of External Affairs has trashed the documentary as a "propaganda piece" that lacks objectivity and reflects a colonial mindset.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comThe two-part documentary claims it investigated certain aspects relating to the 2002 Gujarat riots when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief minister of the state.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

BBC Series Screened At Hyderabad University Again. "The Kashmir Files" Too

Gujarat Political News

How 'shaktishaali' Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh has ducked mud so far
The Indian Express | 1 week ago | 20-01-2023 | 02:50 pm
The Indian Express
1 week ago | 20-01-2023 | 02:50 pm

In the wrestling arena or out of it, fighting as a candidate of the BJP or the Samajwadi Party, in the contest as candidate or with his wife as proxy, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh has rarely lost a bout. But that streak might end now, with the growing allegations of sexual harassment against him by women wrestlers, who are demanding Singh’s resignation as the president of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI).A wrestler who tumbled into politics via the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, and who continues to face a case in the Babri Masjid demolition, Singh, 66, has kept his feet planted on the ground courtesy the image of a “dabangg” leader – or a “shaktishaali (powerful)” one, as he likes calling himself — who doesn’t need the BJP as much as the BJP needs him in at least half-a-dozen districts around his native Gonda in Uttar Pradesh.Singh is six-term MP (once from the SP), who has represented Gonda, Balrampur and now moved onto Kaiserganj, while his son Prateek Bhushan is into his second term as MLA from Gonda Sadar.This formidable record also explains why despite several scraps with the party, including the government of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, there has been no attempt to touch his 10-year tenure as the WFI president and as vice-president of the United World Wrestling-Asia.Local leaders talk about the grand celebrations he holds every year on his birthday on January 8, where students shortlisted via a talent search examination are rewarded with motorcycles, Scooty and cash. This year, the event in Gonda and adjoining districts such as Lucknow, Ayodhya, Bahraich, Shrawasti, Balrampur and Barabanki saw the participation of Union Minister of State for Finance Pankaj Chaudhary.BJP leaders also mention the goodwill Brij Bhushan Singh has earned due to his active association with more than 50 educational institutions, including engineering, pharmacy, education and law, that that he helped set up in Bahraich, Gonda, Balrampur, Ayodhya and Shrawasti districts.“He has developed an empire in these districts through his clout. He gives a fee waiver to those students who are unable to pay. So, if he wins elections, it is both because of his clout and goodwill,” says a BJP leader from Gonda.At the same time, BJP leaders say, the party has kept its distance by not giving him any position within the organisation and Union government despite his repeated poll wins. His own team of workers look after his constituency including day-to-day issues that might come up.“Singh only takes the symbol of the party. He wins elections on his own,” says another party leader.The confidence means Singh has got away with incidents such as his criticism of the Adityanath government during the floods in the state in October last year. He accused the administration of being ill-prepared, not doing enough for relief, and said people had been left “bhagwan bharose (to the mercy of god)”. Singh also said that the existing government did not tolerate criticism and took it personally.While the Opposition raised the remarks to attack the Adityanath government, Singh did not earn any rebuke from the BJP.He has praised SP leader Azam Khan, one of the BJP’s biggest bugbears in the state, as “a mass leader”, and threatened Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray against visiting Ayodhya till he had apologised publicly for “humiliating” north Indians in Mumbai. The BJP had been courting the MNS leader as an ally at the time of topsy-turvy politics in Maharashtra.In private, the BJP had dismissed Singh’s remarks as publicity stunts.It was due to his association with the Ram Janmabhoomi movement and his influence in the areas around Ayodhya that Singh initially came to the notice of the BJP. The party first fielded him from the Gonda Lok Sabha seat in 1991. He won, and never looked back. In 1996, when he did not contest, the party gave a ticket to his wife Ketaki Devi Singh, and she too won.A constant presence at wrestling tournaments, be it national or international, senior or junior, Singh can be spotted with a microphone in hand, overseeing bouts, often shouting out instructions to referees, stopping and starting bouts and, at times, even throwing the rule book at judges. When he can’t be there, he is known to “monitor the proceedings virtually”.Whatever comes of the serious allegations Singh is now facing, that is almost certain to change.

How 'shaktishaali' Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh has ducked mud so far
In PM Modi’s message to BJP, the subtext: To find another gear, create soft power and goodwillPremium Story
The Indian Express | 1 week ago | 20-01-2023 | 02:50 pm
The Indian Express
1 week ago | 20-01-2023 | 02:50 pm

BJP leaders have said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address at the concluding session of the party’s national executive meeting had a clear message — focus on creating a “soft power” and “goodwill” to expand the party and increase its tally in the 2024 general elections to take the BJP’s journey of electoral victories to the next level.In the address, which emphasised on reaching out to more of the marginalised, minorities and small communities, Modi urged the BJP cadre to embrace the fact that the BJP is the ruling party at the Centre and many key states, and “think beyond conventional politics and electoral politics”.“To me, Prime Minister Modi was saying that the BJP should adopt a new style of politics to create soft power and goodwill among all sections of the people. He wants the BJP to create a positive atmosphere. The goodwill and soft power should help increase the BJP’s tally in the next Lok Sabha elections,” said a senior BJP leader.Modi’s reference to the age group of 18-25 in his speech also indicated that the party would also focus on that age group — youths in that age group are keen on development and a corruption-free government, according to Modi — to turn it into a strong loyal BJP support base.Party sources said the prime minister’s speech had given a clear signal that both the government and the party would take several initiatives in the coming days to see that the BJP gets more seats in the Lok Sabha elections. “Every step in the coming days, including the Budget, would keep that in mind,” said a party MP.In his speech to the national executive, Modi asked party members to reach out to every section of society, including the marginalised and minority communities, “without electoral considerations”. He wants BJP workers to reach out to Pasmandas, Bohras, Muslim professionals, and educated Muslims as a confidence-building measure and without expecting votes in return.Modi, who had a notebook with points scribbled on it while speaking, reiterated his message of reaching out to marginalised groups among the minorities at the Hyderbad National Executive meeting too. He also spoke about the Sikh community that, according to him, has a positive feeling about the BJP. He pointed out that the Sikh community is present in many districts outside Punjab too and the BJP cadre “should not ignore them” thinking they are too small to make any electoral difference.Recalling what the PM spoke about, a BJP leader said, “He said don’t always think about votes only. He also mentioned the small groups of backward communities and said they always stood by the BJP since the Jana Sangh days. He said there are small communities like Bohras, among whom there are several educated Muslims. They do not vote for the BJP but cooperate with the party in many activities. The Prime Minister specifically said Muslims would not vote for the BJP, but that should not stop us from reaching out to them.”A party leader said, “The target is to increase the BJP’s tally from 303 and return to power with more glory. Because the positive atmosphere will create a favourable situation for us — to talk about development work and to expand our base.”Another significant point the Prime Minister harped on was India’s global positioning. According to Modi, the global situation post Covid has a “lot of prospects and chances” and India should let them pass by. Even the national executive statement on the G-20 presidency mentioned the changed world order in the last nine years. According to BJP vice president Baijayant Panda who briefed the media on the statement, the G-20 and, in general, the world is “full of admiration” as India not only dealt with the Covid crisis but also reached out with help to other countries.Panda said BJP workers, in their individual capacity, would work to connect society as the country hosts over 200 G20-related events in more than 50 places. He added it was an opportunity to connect the society and showcase India’s progress and its rich heritage as delegates from not only the elite bloc of 20 leading economies but also many multilateral bodies such as the International Monetary Fund would visit India.

In PM Modi’s message to BJP, the subtext: To find another gear, create soft power and goodwillPremium Story
How Covid’s bitter divisions tarnished a liberal icon- Jacinda Ardern
The Indian Express | 1 week ago | 20-01-2023 | 02:50 pm
The Indian Express
1 week ago | 20-01-2023 | 02:50 pm

Written by Damien CaveJacinda Ardern explained her decision to step down as New Zealand’s prime minister Thursday with a plea for understanding and rare political directness — the same attributes that helped make her a global emblem of anti-Trump liberalism, then a target of the toxic divisions amplified by the coronavirus pandemic.Ardern, 42, fought back tears as she announced at a news conference that she would resign in early February before New Zealand’s election in October.“I know what this job takes, and I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice,” she said. “It is that simple.”Ardern’s sudden departure before the end of her second term came as a surprise to the country and the world. New Zealand’s youngest prime minister in 150 years, she was a leader of a small nation who reached celebrity status with the speed of a pop star.Her youth, pronounced feminism and emphasis on a “politics of kindness” made her look to many like a welcome alternative to bombastic male leaders, creating a phenomenon known as “Jacindamania.”Her time in office, however, was mostly shaped by crisis management, including the 2019 terrorist attack in Christchurch, the deadly White Island volcanic eruption a few months later and COVID-19 soon after that.The pandemic in particular seemed to play to her strengths as a clear and unifying communicator — until extended lockdowns and vaccine mandates hurt the economy, fueled conspiracy theories and spurred a backlash. In a part of the world where COVID restrictions lingered, Ardern has struggled to get beyond her association with pandemic policy.“People personally invested in her; that has always been a part of her appeal,” said Richard Shaw, a politics professor at Massey University in Palmerston North, New Zealand.“She became a totem,” he added. “She became the personification of a particular response to the pandemic, which people in the far-flung margins of the internet and the not so far-flung margins used against her.”The country’s initial goal was audacious: Ardern and a handful of prominent public health researchers who were advising the government held out hope for eliminating the virus and keeping it entirely out of New Zealand. In early 2020, she helped coax the country — “our team of 5 million,” she said — to go along with shuttered international borders and a lockdown so severe that even retrieving a lost cricket ball from a neighbor’s yard was banned.When new, more transmissible variants made that impossible, Ardern’s team pivoted but struggled to get vaccines quickly. Strict vaccination mandates then kept people from activities like work, eating out and getting haircuts.Dr. Simon Thornley, a public health researcher at the University of Auckland and a frequent and controversial critic of the government’s COVID response, said many New Zealanders were surprised by what they saw as her willingness to pit the vaccinated against the unvaccinated.“The disillusionment around the vaccine mandates was important,” Thornley said. “The creation of a two-class society and that predictions didn’t come out as they were meant to be, or as they were forecast to be in terms of elimination — that was a turning point.”Ardern became a target, internally and abroad, for those who saw vaccine mandates as a violation of individual rights. Online, conspiracy theories, misinformation and personal attacks bloomed. Threats against Ardern have increased greatly over the past few years, especially from anti-vaccination groups.The tension escalated in February. Inspired in part by protests in the United States and Canada, a crowd of protesters camped on the Parliament grounds in Wellington for more than three weeks, pitching tents and using parked cars to block traffic.The police eventually forced out the demonstrators, clashing violently with many of them, leading to more than 120 arrests.The scenes shocked a nation unaccustomed to such violence. Some blamed demonstrators, others the police and the government.“It certainly was a dark day in New Zealand history,” Thornley said.Dylan Reeve, a New Zealand author and journalist who wrote a book on the spread of misinformation in the country, said the prime minister’s international profile probably played a role in the conspiracist narratives about her.“The fact that she suddenly had such a large international profile and was widely hailed for her reaction really seemed to provide a boost for local conspiracy theorists,” he said. “They found support for the anti-Ardern ideas from like-minded individuals globally at a level that was probably out of scale with New Zealand’s typical prominence internationally.”The attacks did not cease even as the worst of the pandemic receded. This month, Roger Stone, the former Trump adviser, condemned Ardern for her COVID approach, which he described as “the jackboot of authoritarianism.”In her speech Thursday, Ardern did not mention any particular group of critics, nor did she name a replacement, but she did acknowledge that she could not help but be affected by the strain of her job and the difficult era when she governed.“I know there will be much discussion in the aftermath of this decision as to what the so-called real reason was,” she said, adding: “The only interesting angle you will find is that after going on six years of some big challenges, that I am human. Politicians are human. We give all that we can, for as long as we can, and then it’s time. And for me, it’s time.”Suze Wilson, a leadership scholar at Massey University in New Zealand, said Ardern should be taken at her word. She said that the abuse could not and should not be separated from her gender.“She’s talking about not really having anything left in the tank, and I think part of what’s probably contributed to that is just the disgusting level of sexist and misogynistic abuse to what she has been subjected,” Wilson said.In the pubs and parks of Christchurch on Thursday, New Zealanders seemed divided. In a city where Ardern was widely praised for her unifying response to the mass murder of 51 people at two mosques by a white supremacist, there were complaints about unfulfilled promises around nuts-and-bolts issues such as the cost of housing.Tony McPherson, 72, who lives near one of the mosques that was attacked nearly four years ago, described the departing prime minister as someone who had “a very good talk, but not enough walk.”He said she fell short on “housing, health care” and had “made an absolute hash on immigration,” arguing that many businesses had large staff shortages because of a delayed reopening of borders after the lockdowns.Economic issues are front and center for many voters. Polls show that Ardern’s Labour Party has been trailing the center-right National Party, led by Christopher Luxon, a former aviation executive.On the deck of Wilson’s Sports Bar, a Christchurch pub, Shelley Smith, 52, a motel manager, said she was “surprised” at the news of Ardern’s resignation. She praised her for suppressing the community spread of the coronavirus in 2020, despite the effects on the New Zealand economy. Asked how she would remember Ardern, she replied: “As a person’s person.”That appeal may have faded, but many New Zealanders do not expect Ardern to disappear for long. Helen Clark, a former prime minister who was a mentor to Ardern, followed up her time in office by focusing on international issues with many global organizations.“I don’t know she’ll be lost to the world,” Shaw said of Ardern. “She may get a bigger platform.”

How Covid’s bitter divisions tarnished a liberal icon- Jacinda Ardern
Why separatist politics has plagued Pakistan since its inceptionPremium Story
The Indian Express | 1 week ago | 18-01-2023 | 05:50 pm
The Indian Express
1 week ago | 18-01-2023 | 05:50 pm

In 1933, Rahmat Ali, a student at Cambridge University envisioned the birth of Pakistan. Its name was an acronym representing the areas that Ali believed should secede from British India – Punjab, Afghania, Kashmir, Sindh, and Baluchistan. The state of Bengal, then home to more Muslims than any other province of the British Raj, was not part of this plan. The omission of Bengal would prove to be symbolic of Pakistan’s political trajectory, but, even without it, the name would constitute not one unified nation but rather a sum of its parts.Today, Pakistan comprises four administrative units (Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Baluchistan,) one federal territory (the Islamabad Capital Territory,) and two occupied territories (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.) The country follows a federal structure, which, in theory, divides power between the centre and the provinces. However, conflicts between the provinces have dominated Pakistan politics since the country’s inception in 1947, with several regions demanding autonomy or independence. Author Smruti Pattanaik describes Pakistan’s quest for federalism in damning terms, noting that “the ruling elites in Pakistan in their quest for nationalism and national unity have always tried to suppress any spirit of genuine federalism perceiving it as a prelude to separatism.” However, in their attempt to quash separatism, these elites may have inadvertently catalysed it instead.As historian Saman Zulfqar notes in the Politics of New Provinces in Pakistan, even though Pakistan is a federal country, the concept of federation has not been fully defined with demands for regional economic autonomy and conflicts between the federal government and the units increasing over time. Different regions have different rationales for separatism with perhaps the most compelling coming from the dominant province of Punjab. According to the 2017 Census of Pakistan, Punjab accounts for 110 million of Pakistan’s 243 million strong population. The notion of breaking up the province is rooted in the argument that it is impossible to have effective administrative structures to deliver services to such a vast population.That problem is exacerbated by the disparities between different regions within Punjab. For example, the poverty rate of South Punjab is 43 per cent, compared to 27 per cent in the rest of the province. According to Dawn, out of the 12 industrialised districts in Pakistan’s east, 10 are in Southern Punjab.In Balochistan, separatist tendencies date back to the pre-independence era. Nationalist leaders in Balochistan campaigned for an independent state during the last decades of the Raj and one day after the creation of Pakistan, declared Balochistan as an independent nation. Pakistani leadership rejected this declaration and forcibly annexed the region nine months later. Subsequently, there have been a series of conflicts between the state and Baloch nationalists.The occupied region of Gilgit Baltistan (G-B) seeks to change its administrative status. G-B was granted provisional status by then Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in 2020 after a series of protests demanding more constitutional rights for its people. But that status has not yet been conferred.Calls for separatism have also been echoed in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, a semi-autonomous tribal region in north-western Pakistan, and in Bahawalpur, a city in central Punjab. The current debate over federalism was fuelled by the passage of the 18th Constitutional Amendment in 2010, which saw an unprecedented transfer of power from the centre to the provinces, but in truth, the seeds of conflict have existed since 1947.Though Pakistan was conceived as an Islamic homeland by its founders in the days of the Independence movement, the idea carried little traction with India’s Muslims. The All-India Muslim League formally demanded the creation of Pakistan in 1940, asserting that Indian Muslims were a nation and not a minority. By doing so, the Muslim League, and its leader, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, hoped to position themselves as the spokespeople for India’s Muslims. However, the League drew most of its support from Muslim minority areas, having suffered a serious rejection from Muslim voters in the majority provinces in the 1937 general elections.Consequently, as the Asia Society writes, “the League had no real control over either the politicians or the populace at the base that was mobilized in the name of Islam.” In the end, Jinnah was able to get a Pakistan consisting of two Muslim majority areas of the North West and North East of British India, a compromise that he famously rejected, calling the newly formed state “a shadow and a husk- a maimed, mutilated, and moth-eaten Pakistan.”Adding to his dismay, the Congress refused to accept the Partition as a division of India between Pakistan and Hindustan. Instead, it asserted that the Partition meant that certain areas with Muslim majorities were ‘splitting off’ from the Indian Union. The implication, according to the Asia Society, was that if Pakistan disintegrated, the Muslim areas would have to return to India. Therefore, with this agreement, only a central authority could stand in the way of the reincorporation of these areas into India.Islam, while proving to be a formidable rallying cry, was not enough to unite Pakistan’s provinces, each with their own cultural associations and linguistic traditions. Moreover, as the Asia Society underlines, the diversity of Pakistan’s provinces “was a potential threat to central authority,” with each, in their individualism, representing the dichotomy of support the League had across the country.The early days of Pakistan’s formation were marred by constitutional crises fuelled by debates over the role of Islam, the status of provincial representation, and the distribution of power. Pakistan would formulate its first constitution only in 1956 and just two years later, would suffer its first military coup.This instability was compounded by the refugee crisis derived from Partition. In her book, Life after Partition, historian Sarah Ansari argues that the massive influx of refugees from India and subsequently Afghanistan, radically altered the demographics and socio-political composition of Pakistan. The change, she writes, was most acutely felt in Sindh, which saw its traditionally Sindhi population overrun by “well organised colonies” of refugees who were apathetic towards the local culture and language.Between 1901 and 1951, the rural population of Sindh increased by 40 per cent, and the urban population by 120 per cent. Furthermore, as Sushant Sareen writes for the non-profit Observer Research Foundation, while the Punjabi migrants were able to assimilate with the dominant groups, what the migrants to Sindh had in common was “their physical and psychological separation from the host population of Sindh”.Despite these initial challenges, the Pakistani state could still claim to be the representative of South Asia’s Muslim population. However, that would change with the loss of East Pakistan in 1971.As per the 1951 census, the Dominion of Pakistan had a population of 75 million, of which, 33.7 million resided in West Pakistan, and 42 million in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh,) with the two halves of the country divided by almost 2000 kilometres. This unique situation would serve as the basis of a brutal power struggle between East and West.According to Gulawar Khan, in a paper for the University of Westminster, Punjab, which dominated the military and bureaucracy during the colonial period, did not want to lose its supremacy in Pakistan under the majority of Bengal. Maintaining its control would only be possible with the merger of smaller provinces into one large province dominated by Punjab.Consequently, in 1955, the Pakistan government introduced the controversial One Unit scheme that amalgamated Sindh, Punjab, the North West Frontier Province and Baluchistan into a single province called West Pakistan. The remainder of the country, comprising the populous province Bengal, was named East Pakistan.One Unit pitted East Pakistan against West, with issues from the division presenting themselves from the very beginning. The first conflict between the two stemmed from language. While Urdu was deemed to be the sole national language of Pakistan, the population of East Pakistan demanded that Bengali, spoken by the majority, also be included. When the West refused, protests broke out, causing Jinnah, by then in failing health, to visit Dhaka to try and calm the situation.Although Bengali was recognised as a national language in the constitution of 1965, by then, more serious problems had begun to emerge. According to a report published by the Brookings Institute, the country’s Punjabi dominated government prioritised development in the West, recruited for the army and the bureaucracy primarily from the West, and treated the East “like a colony separated from its motherland by India.”The report notes that at the time, Pakistan was already suffering from a weak economy, inexperience in governance, tribal tensions and an increasingly tense conflict with India. Against that volatile backdrop, the battle between East and West would prove “fatal” for Pakistani democracy.The situation would only get worse after the 1958 military coup led by Ayub Khan, the chief of army staff. Khan planned to infiltrate Jammu & Kashmir with Pakistanis who would then foment an uprising to prompt a Pak intervention. However, Khan’s plan failed to achieve its desired results, ending in a stalemate that led Khan to recognise the vulnerabilities posed by East Pakistan to a country at war.According to the Brookings report, Khan publicly conceded that East Pakistan, surrounded on three sides by India, was “virtually indefensible.” His statements further convinced the aggrieved East Pakistanis that the central government didn’t care about their interests, and were prepared to lose the region in order to gain Kashmir.Khan resigned in 1969 and was replaced by Yahya Khan, who attempted to appease the Bengalis by promising free elections. In 1970, the Awami League, an independence-leaning Bengali party, swept the polls, winning 160 out of 162 seats in East Pakistan and consequently gaining a majority in Pakistan’s National Assembly. Yahya refused to accept the results of the election, instead enforcing a brutal crackdown on the East, resulting in an estimated three million deaths. New Delhi soon intervened and in 1971, Pakistan surrendered to Indian forces and the country of Bangladesh was formed.According to Mansoor Akbar Kundi, a researcher at Istanbul University, the loss of East Pakistan undermined the notion of Pakistan as a Muslim Homeland, paving the way for even more regional conflicts between different ethnic groups. Kundi writes that ultimately “the creation of Bangladesh on the world map was the result of the power distribution over the issues of the Federal-Units relationship.”While the One Unit scheme was abandoned a year after the war, creating the four provinces that exist today, its legacy continues to live on.From the beginning, West Pakistan was dominated by Punjab, which had the largest population, best farmlands, and most representation in the military. However, as RSN Singh, a former military intelligence officer, writes for the Indian Defence Review, Punjab, like Sindh and Balochistan, was not initially enthusiastic about the concept of Pakistan.In the 1936-37 elections, the Muslim League had won only one seat out of 84 Muslim reserved seats in Punjab. Recognising the importance of the state, Jinnah entered into a pact with the ruling Unionist Party leader Sikander Hyat Khan, under which Sikander conceded to Jinnah’s claim of being the sole spokesperson for the region’s Muslims in exchange for Jinnah promising not to interfere in the politics of Punjab. However, with Sikander’s death in 1942, the Unionist Party’s dominance was eroded, its influence ceded to Jinnah, who would go on to describe Punjab as the “cornerstone” of Pakistan.From the onset, Punjab was integral to the conceptualisation of Pakistan, a fact enshrined by its political importance under One Unit. In One Unit Scheme in the Federation of Pakistan, Abdul Shakoor Chandio claims that the One Unit scheme not only created antipathy between East and West, but also between Punjab and the other provinces. Writing that the merging of all territorial units “invariably created centre-province tension,” Chandio argues that the disconnect was most notably felt in Sindh.Despite One Unit’s promise to create uniformity, Punjab was favoured by the central government, given preference in terms of taxation, salaries and recruitment. Many vocal Sindhi politicians such as G.M Syed opposed the scheme but were eventually overruled.Even after the scheme was abolished, Punjab continued to dominate national politics. Under the Pakistani system, federal institutions are structured around population size, giving Punjab 148 seats in the 336 seat Pakistani National Assembly. As a result, according to the Asia Society, “political developments in Pakistan continue to be marred by provincial jealousies and, in particular, by the deep resentments in the smaller provinces of Sindh, Balochistan, and the North-West Frontier Province against what is seen to be a monopoly by the Punjabi majority of the benefits of power, profit, and patronage”.Singh goes one step further, writing that “the Punjabi domination of Pakistan has been the biggest obstacle in nation building”.However, it is worth noting that Punjab’s influence, while significant, is not all-encompassing. In an article for The Indian Express, Sameer Arshad Khatlani points out that as of 2016, Punjabis have occupied the top army post for only 28 of 69 years. Moreover, non-Punjabi dictators have ruled Pakistan for 25 of its 34 years of military rule. Nonetheless, perceived or actual overrepresentation of the province continues to impediment the federal structure of the country.As Chanzeb Awan, a researcher at the University of Karachi notes for the Journal of South Asian Studies, “the demands for new provinces have their roots in the historic, ethnic and demographic makeup of Pakistan which were intoned intermittently ever since Independence from the British Empire in 1947. Domination of particular ethnic groups, sense of alienation, lack of justice, huge size of existing federating units in terms of population, area and inability of the successive governments have been the intrinsic factors giving periodic impetus to these demands.”

Why separatist politics has plagued Pakistan since its inceptionPremium Story
Oppn leaders hit out at Tejasvi for 'compromising passengers' safety'
The Indian Express | 1 week ago | 18-01-2023 | 02:50 pm
The Indian Express
1 week ago | 18-01-2023 | 02:50 pm

Opposition party leaders came down heavily on the BJP after the incident of its Bengaluru South MP Tejasvi Surya allegedly trying to open the emergency exit door of the Indigo Flight was reported. Tejasvi Surya, national president of the BJP Yuva Morcha and the party’s MP from Bengaluru South, allegedly opened the emergency exit door of an IndiGo aircraft before takeoff, at the Chennai airport on December 10 last year.Calling out the BJP VIP ‘Brats’, Congress MP Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted: “The BJP VIP Brats ! How dare the airline complain? Is it the norm for the BJP power elite? Did it compromise passenger safety? Ohhh! U can’t ask questions about BJP’s entitled VIP’s !”The BJP VIP Brats !How dare the airline complain?Is it the norm for the BJP power elite?Did it compromise passenger safety?Ohhh!U can’t ask questions about BJP’s entitled VIP’s !https://t.co/BbyJ0oEcN6— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) January 17, 2023Sharing a picture of Surya and Indigo jet, Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi, without naming the BJP MP, tweeted, “Seems someone is too eager to achieve big in political life. It doesn’t happen this way. Success in politics is a factor of humility and perseverance, not volatility and arrogance.”Seems someone is too eager to achieve big in political life. It doesn't happen this way. Success in politics is a factor of humility and perseverance, not volatility and arrogance.#Indigohttps://t.co/hj5wVS57Ro— Abhishek Singhvi (@DrAMSinghvi) January 18, 2023Asking for strict action, Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi tweeted. “Has ? Indigo reported this incident to DGCA? Shouldn’t one? take suo moto cognisance of this incident? What if this happened once the aircraft had taken off rather than when it was taxiing on the runway, should an apology suffice?”Has ⁦@IndiGo6E⁩ reported this incident to ⁦@DGCAIndia⁩ ? Shouldn’t one⁩ take suo moto cognisance of this incident?What if this happened once the aircraft had taken off rather than when it was taxiing on the runway,should an apology suffice? https://t.co/vWQ91e94mm— Priyanka Chaturvedi🇮🇳 (@priyankac19) January 17, 2023Supriya Shrinate, the chairperson social media and digital platforms, demanded a lesson be taught to the BJP MP. She tweeted: A mischievous man opens the emergency exit door on a flight, causing the flight to be delayed by 3 hours, the name of the person who put people at risk and inconvenience was not revealed for a month Drunk on power – that MP spreads hatred everyday This spoiled Tejasvi Surya needs to be taught a lesson.एक बददिमाग़ आदमी फ़्लाइट में इमर्जेन्सी exit door खोल देता है जिससे फ़्लाइट 3 घंटे देर से उड़ी, लोगों को असुविधा और जोखिम में लाने वाले का नाम 1 महीने तक सामने नहीं आयासत्ता के नशे में चूर – वो सांसद रोज़ नफ़रत फैलाता हैThis spoilt Tejasvi Surya needs to be taught a lesson.— Supriya Shrinate (@SupriyaShrinate) January 17, 2023Tamil Nadu DMK MLA T R B Rajaa criticised Tejasvi Surya and said: “A passenger who witnessed what happened onboard told TNM that the passengers panicked when the door was opened. “Thankfully it happened when the flight was on the ground.” It would have been really bad if something like this had happened mid-air!”"A passenger who witnessed what happened onboard told TNM that the passengers panicked when the door was opened. “Thankfully it happened when the flight was on the ground." It would have been really bad if something like this had happened mid-air !https://t.co/WNjhgmgZ1N— Dr. T R B Rajaa (@TRBRajaa) January 17, 2023The airline released a statement on Tuesday, over a month after the incident, following some media reports on it. While the reports named Surya, IndiGo, however, did not name anyone in its statement.“A passenger travelling on Flight 6E 7339 from Chennai to Tiruchirapalli on Dec 10, 2022, accidentally opened the emergency exit during the boarding process. The passenger immediately apologised for the action. As per SOPs, the incident was logged and the aircraft underwent mandatory engineering checks, which led to a delay in the flight’s departure,” the airline said.But sources at the airline confirmed that it was Surya, who was traveling with the BJP’s Tamil Nadu president K Annamalai.

Oppn leaders hit out at Tejasvi for 'compromising passengers' safety'

Gujarat Election News

Once Jodo Yatra ends, Rahul to focus on Karnataka
Times of India | 2 days ago | 26-01-2023 | 08:13 am
Times of India
2 days ago | 26-01-2023 | 08:13 am

Bengaluru: Former All India Congress Committee (AICC) president Rahul Gandhi is likely to shift his attention to assembly elections in Karnataka and will campaign extensively after his Bharat Jodo Yatra ends in Srinagar on Monday (January 30). The Wayanad MP did not spend much time campaigning during the assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh because of the Kanyakumari to Srinagar walkathon, but he is expected to be more active in the run up to assembly elections in Karnataka. “We have requested Rahul to lead the campaign during the last leg of the ongoing Prajadhwani Yatra, and he has agreed,” said Saleem Ahmed, Karnataka Congress working president. “He will visit Karnataka at least thrice a month until the campaign ends.” BJP has been going all out on the campaigning front, with national leaders such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister, and party president JP Nadda visiting the state almost every other week and holding rallies. Congress believes Rahul’s campaign will counter that effect to some extent and bolster its poll prospects. AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had recently visited the state and addressed a women’s convention. The Karnataka Congress unit has already lined up several activities to prepare the ground for Rahul’s arrival. It is aiming to complete the process to select candidates before Rahul’s arrival. The state unit received some 1,400 applications for tickets and the state election committee (PEC) will meet on February 3 to prepare the first list of potential candidates. This list will be referred to the screening committee, which will prepare a shortlist and send it to the central election committee (CEC), which will take the final call on candidates. KPCC is expected to constitute the screening committee by the end of this month, and the entire process could be completed by mid-February. “The plan is to complete the preliminary process and have clarity on candidates before Rahul begins to campaign,” said R Dhruvanarayan, KPCC working president. Rahul is also likely to make more poll promises during his campaign. When Priyanka visited, she announced a poll promise of monthly cash assistance for homemakers. Before that, state Congress president DK Shivakumar and legislature party leader Siddaramaiah will lead separate bus yatras from February 3 as a follow-up to the ongoing Prajadhwani Yatra. Siddaramaiah will launch his yatra from Basavakalyan in Bidar and cover north Karnataka, while Shivakumar will begin his campaign from Kurudumale Ganapathi Temple in Kolar and cover south Karnataka.

Once Jodo Yatra ends, Rahul to focus on Karnataka
Congress suspends 38 for anti-party activities
Times of India | 1 week ago | 21-01-2023 | 08:20 am
Times of India
1 week ago | 21-01-2023 | 08:20 am

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) on Friday said that 38 members have been suspended from the party for six years for anti-party activities during the assembly election in December.The disciplinary committee of the Gujarat Congress met twice this month and received 71 complaints against 95 people, its convener Balu Patel told reporters.“We suspended 38 workers for anti-party activities. Action will be taken against others as well. Eight workers have received warnings,” Patel said.Surendranagar district president Raiya Rathod, Narmada district president Harendra Valand and former Nandod MLA P D Vasava are among the 38 persons suspended from the party, he said.A three-member fact-finding committee of national leaders was in Gujarat earlier this week to interact with candidates of the assembly election, to identify the causes of the party’s worst election showing in the state. Earlier this month, state BJP president C R Paatil named members of the state disciplinary committee of the BJP, stating that a zero-tolerance policy would be adopted towards anti-party activities. Former party MLA Vallabh Kakadiya has been named chairman of the committee. In the run-up to the December 2022 assembly election, as many as 19 BJP leaders were suspended for anti-party activities. They filed their nominations for the election and were contesting against official candidates of the party.

Congress suspends 38 for anti-party activities
The Numbers Game | BJP, Congress: As go the votes, so go the notes
The Indian Express | 1 week ago | 20-01-2023 | 02:50 pm
The Indian Express
1 week ago | 20-01-2023 | 02:50 pm

As per the annual reports of political parties released by the Election Commission (EC) Tuesday, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has shown total receipts of Rs 1,917.12 crore and expenditure of Rs 854.46 crore in Financial Year 2021-’22. It received contributions through electoral bonds to the tune of Rs 1,033.7 crore.The Congress in its annual audit report for Financial Year 2021-22 has shown its expenditure at Rs 400.41 crore and receipts of Rs 541.27 crore. It has shown grants, donations and contributions to the tune of Rs 347.99 crore.The 2019 to 2020 financial year, which saw the previous Lok Sabha polls, saw the highest income and spending by parties over the last five years. In this period, the BJP’s income touched Rs 3,623.28 crore, as per the Election Commission reports. That year, it declared its expenditure as Rs 1,651.02 crore. The Congress also saw its income go up to Rs 682.2 crore, while its expenditure was Rs 998.15 crore.Analysis of data over the last five years shows that there has been a fluctuation in the incomes and expenditures of the two parties. Besides the poll year, the BJP’s income in the year 2017-’18 was relatively high at Rs 1027.3 crore. The following financial year, 2018-’2019, it was the lowest at Rs 241 crore.A look at how the two parties income and expenditure fared in the previous years:BJP Income over the yearsCongress income over the years

The Numbers Game | BJP, Congress: As go the votes, so go the notes
All eyes on BJP as party is yet to decide on candidate for Kasba bypoll
The Indian Express | 1 week ago | 20-01-2023 | 02:50 pm
The Indian Express
1 week ago | 20-01-2023 | 02:50 pm

With more than a month to go for the Kasba Assembly bypoll in Maharashtra, all eyes are on the BJP, which is yet to announce its candidate. The bypoll was necessitated due to the demise of sitting BJP legislator Mukta Tilak. While a few local BJP leaders have demanded that the party field a member of the Tilak family to enable an unopposed election as a tribute to Mukta Tilak, a former Pune mayor, other aspirants are waiting in the wings.After Tilak succumbed to cancer last month, BJP leader Ujjwal Keskar publicly made a statement urging the party to consider her husband Shailesh or son Kunal as their candidate for the bypoll scheduled on February 27.“The Kasba bypoll should be unopposed as a tribute to Mukta Tilak and the party should support a member of the Tilak family. Thus, a request has been made to BJP leaders to provide a ticket to a Tilak family member,” said Keskar.According to BJP sources, while the party is yet to take a decision, the Tilak family is not averse to contesting the election if a family member gets a party ticket.However, as the Tilak family members lack political experience, this has raised hopes among other aspirants, including Ganesh Bidkar, Hemant Rasane and Dheeraj Ghate. The name of Medha Kulkarni, former BJP legislator from Kothrud Assembly seat, is also making the rounds. She was asked to refrain from contesting elections to make way for then state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil to contest from the Kothrud seat, which was considered to safe seat for BJP. Kulkarni had registered her protest but was later pacified and made vice-president of the national unit of the BJP women’s wing.From the Opposition, Congress leader Arvind Shinde, the city unit chief who lost to Mukta Tilak in 2019, said he has already conveyed to the party that the local unit was ready to contest the seat. The Congress also has another aspirant, Ravindra Dhangekar, who contested the seat as a Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) candidate in 2014 and lost to Girish Bapat.Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Rupali Patil Thombare, who recently switched sides from MNS, has also expressed her wish to contest the Kasba bypoll if her party permits. Thombare had pointed out that the BJP has been fielding candidates in bypolls for seats that were vacated due to the demise of other politicians. However, she was pulled up for going public with her wish to contest.Local Shiv Sena (UBT) leaders have also conveyed their readiness to contest the Kasba bypoll.The Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance is likely to come up with a strategy for the bypoll elections. They are presently contesting state Legislative Council seats as an alliance.

All eyes on BJP as party is yet to decide on candidate for Kasba bypoll
No anti-incumbency in Madhya Pradesh as govt works 24x7: VD Sharma
Times of India | 1 week ago | 20-01-2023 | 09:47 am
Times of India
1 week ago | 20-01-2023 | 09:47 am

BHOPAL: Two days after the conclusion of the BJP national executive in Delhi, state BJP president VD Sharma on Thursday claimed that the historic victory of the party in Gujarat will be repeated in Madhya Pradesh in the upcoming assembly elections in November. “At the national executive, BJP workers of nine states going for elections this year have taken a pledge to win. In Gujarat, we transformed 27 years of anti-incumbency to pro-incumbency, the reason why the party secured 53% votes in the assembly elections,” he said.Addressing a press conference at the state BJP office, Sharma claimed that when a party gets 53% votes, it is proof that it works for people welfare. “Opposition’s negative politics has been defeated. The Gujarat election management team gave a presentation at the national executive on how they won the elections,” Sharma said.For Madhya Pradesh, he said that the party’s strategy is to reach out to people with government’s welfare schemes and connect with the beneficiaries. “The image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, implementation of Central and state government schemes and the strength of our organization at every booth will ensure that the massive support whichBJP got in Gujaratwill be replicated in Madhya Pradesh,” he saidAsked about the Gujarat BJP model of sudden and massive change in September 2021 when chief minister Vijay Rupani was asked to step down along with his entire cabinet by the party high-command to beat anti-incumbency, and such a move is likely in Madhya Pradesh, the state BJP chief said, “Whatever change is required in the BJP today will be decided by the central leadership under Narendra Modi. There is a unit in the central BJP which reviews if any change is needed in order to win an election. However, our job here is to strengthen the organization and ensure that the government’s welfare schemes reach beneficiaries.” Sharmasaid that in Madhya Pradesh, there is no anti-incumbency. “Anti-incumbency occurs when a government does not work. In Madhya Pradesh, the government and the party works 24x7, 365 days for the benefit of the people. Here, we can only have pro-incumbency. Implementation of welfare schemes of our Union and state governments together with our organizational system are our strength. On these strengths, Gujarat-like storm in favor of BJP will also blow in Madhya Pradesh. History of BJP victory will be created in the state in the 2023 assembly elections and we will win more than 200 seats,” Sharma said.

No anti-incumbency in Madhya Pradesh as govt works 24x7: VD Sharma

Gujarat Education News

Gujarat Tribal Woman Hirbai Ibrahim Lobi Conferred With Padma Shri
Ndtv | 1 day ago | 26-01-2023 | 06:52 pm
Ndtv
1 day ago | 26-01-2023 | 06:52 pm

She spent a large part of her life in the uplift of Siddi tribal women and for the education of children.Junagadh: A Siddi tribe woman from Jambur village of Junagadh, Hirbai Ibrahim Lobi, has been honoured with the Padma Shri award, the fourth-highest civilian award by the government of India.A list of Padma Shri recipients was issued on Wednesday evening on the occasion of the 74th Republic Day.Hirbai hails from the African-origin Siddi tribe that resides in Jambur village near Gir forest in Gujarat, which is also the home of the pride of India, the Asian lion.In an exclusive interview with ANI, Hirbai shared her experience of working for the uplift and development of the Siddi tribal community.Hirabai Lobi has expressed special gratitude to the government of India, President Droupadi Murmu and especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi for honouring her with the Padma Award.She spent a large part of her life in the uplift of Siddi tribal women and for the education of children. Till now she has changed the lives of more than 700 women and innumerable children.Surrounded by Babbar lions, the livelihood of the women of the Siddi community depended on wood cutting, Hirbai told ANI. Being a radio enthusiast, she took it upon herself to support the women of her community.Since childhood, Hirbai used to get information about women's development schemes in Siddi through the radio.She first joined with Agakhan Foundation and then launched a campaign to make women self-reliant by associating with BAIF, a farmer's organization. So far, she has taught more than 700 women to open bank accounts and save money.She has played an important role in bringing women forward and also taught them farming. She provided employment to women with the help of social organizations through radio. Hirabai while speaking to ANI said, "I have not grown trees in the forest, but I have saved the forest from being cut."Hirabai lost her parents in childhood and was brought up by her grandmother. She has established several kindergartens with spirit of providing basic education to the children of the Siddi community.Apart from this, she established the Mahila Vikas Foundation in the year 2004 and has worked tirelessly to make Siddi women self-reliant. Due to these efforts of Hirbai, the women of Jambur helped their families by working in the grocery shops and tailoring.Till now she has been honoured with various accolades, but when she got the first prize of $500, she put all the money into the development of the village.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comSo far she has received Real Award from Reliance, Janaki Devi Prasad Bajaj Award and the Green Award.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)Featured Video Of The DayJai Jawan: Sonu Sood's Tug-Of-War With Soldiers

Gujarat Tribal Woman Hirbai Ibrahim Lobi Conferred With Padma Shri
GUJCET 2023: Gujarat CET registration deadline extended till January 31, apply on gujcet.gseb.org
Times of India | 1 day ago | 26-01-2023 | 02:09 pm
Times of India
1 day ago | 26-01-2023 | 02:09 pm

Gujarat CET 2023: The Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB), Gandhinagar has extended the online application process for Gujarat Common Entrance Test, GUJCET 2023. Interested candidates who have not submitted the form are advised to complete the registration on the official website at gujcet.gseb.org.Candidates may note that online registration for Gujarat CET 2023 began on January 06, 2023. The last date to submit the online application was scheduled to end on January 20, which was later extended till January 25, 2023. Now, the education board has once again extended the registration date till January 31, 2023.GUJCET 2023Age LimitThe candidates applying for GUJCET 2023 should not be less than 17 years of age.Educational QualificationThe applicants must have passed or appearing for Class 12 exam from a recognized board.Exam PatternThe question paper will be divided into three sections, namely Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics/Biology for 40 marks each. The candidates will get 3 hours to attempt a total of 120 questions.Apply Here: Gujarat CET 2023How to apply for Gujarat CET 2023Step 1. Visit the official website at gujcet.gseb.org Step 2. On the homepage, click on the GUJCET registration link Step 3. Register yourself and generate the login credentials Step 4. Now, login using the same details and fill the application form Step 5. Upload the documents and pay the application fee Step 6. Submit the form and take a printout of the same for future referenceApplication FeeThe applicants are required to pay an application fee of Rs 350.About GUJCET 2023Gujarat Common Entrance Test (GUJCET)-2023 is a state-level entrance examination conducted to shortlist candidates for admission into various undergraduate engineering and pharmacy programs in Gujarat.Candidates who have not registered for the Gujarat CET-2023 are advised to submit the application form at the earliest to avoid any last minute hassle.

GUJCET 2023: Gujarat CET registration deadline extended till January 31, apply on gujcet.gseb.org
Schools to begin at 8am from Monday
Times of India | 6 days ago | 22-01-2023 | 08:44 am
Times of India
6 days ago | 22-01-2023 | 08:44 am

Vadodara: In wake of the extreme cold conditions, Vadodara district education officer (DEO) on Saturday issued a directive asking all the schools to change their timings. Going by DEO R R Vyas’s circular, all the government, grant-in-aid as well as private schools in Vadodara have been asked to begin their schools from 8am with effect from Monday. Vyas told TOI that the directives have been issued based on the decision taken by Vadodara district collector Atul Gor. The directive which will be applicable to schools of all education boards will remain effective till the time new directive is issued to the schools. The schools have been asked to make necessary arrangements to cover the remaining course curriculum due to the change in the timings. It is worth mentioning here that Gujarat government had already allowed schools in the state to change timings after an girl student of Class 8 died after suffering from cardiac arrest due to severe cold in a Rajkot school. Most primary schools have morning shifts that begin from 7.15am or 7.30am the students need to leave their homes early in morning when its is very cold. The Vadodara Parents Association welcomed the decision taken by the district administration. In wake of the severe cold conditions in the state, the association too had made representation before the authorities to bring changes in school timings.

Schools to begin at 8am from Monday
‘Refer to Constitution’: Saxena replies to Kejriwal’s ‘Who is L-G?’ question
The Indian Express | 1 week ago | 20-01-2023 | 02:50 pm
The Indian Express
1 week ago | 20-01-2023 | 02:50 pm

Two days after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal came down heavily on alleged interference in the affairs of the elected AAP government during his address in the Delhi Legislative Assembly, asking “Who is the LG, where did he come from?”, Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena wrote to him, asking him to refer to the Constitution for the answer.In his letter, L-G Saxena termed Kejriwal’s statements against him both in the Delhi Assembly and outside it as “substantively misleading, untrue and derogatory”.Questioning his alleged interference in matters of the Delhi government over a range of issues, Kejriwal had accused Saxena of constitutional overreach during his address to the House before leading a march to Raj Niwas and demanding that the L-G meet him and the 61 other AAP MLAs.Referring to media reports related to his allegations against him, Saxena said some of these did not deserve a reply since they “cater to a very low level of discourse.” He also termed as “posturing” Kejriwal’s allegation that the L-G did not meet him after his march to Raj Niwas.“I came to know through media reports that on Monday…you left the Assembly and were protesting with others outside Raj Niwas, demanding to meet me. Thereafter, I invited you and the Dy. Chief Minister to come and see me. I would have, indeed, loved to have you over and served you lunch as well” Saxena stated.“However, you chose not to come on the pretext of wanting to meet me with all of your MLAs. You would appreciate that, given the short notice and sudden demand on your part, it would not have been possible to at once have a meeting with 70-80 people, nor would have it served any concrete purpose,” he added.Terming it unfortunate, Saxena accused Kejriwal of political posturing by announcing that he had refused to meet him. “I must mention here that I was rather astounded at the fact that even as the city is grappling with several serious developmental issues, you found time to walk for long and stage a protest meant solely for posturing, rather than taking the issue to a logical conclusion by meeting me,” Saxena stated.The L-G said he was glad that the issue of education and teacher training was being raised by the CM and AAP MLAs, following which he took on the AAP government over it. The L-G flagged that average attendance in government schools, which was 70.73% in 2012-2013 “consistently fell year on year” reaching 60.65% in 2019-2020, despite concerted efforts after their closure due to the Covid pandemic between March 2020 and June 2022, the numbers “went up to only 73.74%.““Enrolment in government schools that stood at 16.1 lakh during 2013-2014, consistently came down to 15.1 lakh in 2019-2020. This, despite the fact that population of the city grew and enrolment should have increased proportionately,” L-G Saxena said.He also brought up the issue of no new schools having been built during the last eight years in Delhi despite the Delhi Development Authority allotting 13 plots to the education department since 2015.“In this regard, right after taking over, I personally ensured that six plots were allotted in August 2022 for building schools by GNCTD (Government of NCT of Delhi). Adding classrooms in existing schools and counting toilets as classrooms, do not, by any stretch of imagination, amount to opening new schools, as you would appreciate,” he added.Despite the AAP government’s “claims of unprecedented improvement in government education system in Delhi”, Saxena stated that the National Achievement Survey (NAS) 2021 pegged the performance of about 30% students in Delhi government schools till Class VIII below basic levels and for about 44% students “barely basic”.“Similarly, performance of about 33% students studying in Class X is below basic and for about 30%, it is barely basic. There is rampant math and science phobia among students of Delhi government schools and this results in the fact that only 21,340 out of 2,31,448 students studying in Class XII are in the Science stream,” he stated.The L-G also questioned the AAP government’s claims related to higher enrolment in government schools. “Contrary to claims, the number of students going to private schools has increased in Delhi. While the share of private schools in 2013-2014 was 35%, the same went up to 43% in 2019-2020, and despite migration from private schools to government schools due to the pandemic distress, this number yet hovers around 40%,” Saxena said.He also questioned the need to send teachers for training to Finland. “Irrespective of whether a 5-day trip to Finland will serve any purpose of substantive training to the visitors or would serve as an event to be played up in the media, I did not reject the proposal thereof,” he sought to clarify.“I raised a few queries with respect to the impact assessment and cost benefit analysis of such visits which have been going on for past few years, and asked the department, whether such training could be obtained in a more cost-effective manner in our own Institutions of Excellence, like the IIMs,” L-G Saxena added.Saxena pointed out that recently, he had cleared proposals of sending 55 principals and vice-principals of government schools to Cambridge in 2 batches for 10 days each, with specific training goals.“While being on the subject, I would also like to bring to your attention the plight of 12 colleges of Delhi University that are funded by GNCTD. Their representatives met me and submitted a memorandum detailing their grievances in terms of deliberate stopping of already sanctioned funds, non-payment of salaries and non-sanction of posts,” Saxena said.There was much more in terms of scholarships to minorities and marginalised sections that he wanted to discuss with CM Kejriwal, the L-G stated.“I reiterate, that I write to you, not only as the Lt. Governor of Delhi, but also as a concerned resident of the city. You are indeed a driven person, and I am sure that you will take cognizance of the facts stated above and take remedial measures to engage meaningfully and constructively to rectify the grave shortcomings, for better outcomes,” Saxena added.

‘Refer to Constitution’: Saxena replies to Kejriwal’s ‘Who is L-G?’ question

Gujarat Covid News

Gujarat: Indiscriminate use, weak libido due to Covid-19 drive sex stimulant demand
Times of India | 6 days ago | 22-01-2023 | 07:30 am
Times of India
6 days ago | 22-01-2023 | 07:30 am

AHMEDABAD: After popping antivirals, antibiotics and vitamins to survive the Covid pandemic, people in Gujarat appear to have taken their pill boxes to the bedroom. The state recorded the highest 34% growth in sales of sex stimulants last year as against 2021, according to the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD)-AWACS.Medical practitioners and chemists attribute this rise to indiscriminate use of these medicines and also rising incidents of weakened libido and erectile dysfunction. On one end are youngsters who are buying PDE-5 inhibitors over the counter and, on the other are those with a reduced sex drive as a fallout of Covid-19 infection, rising stress and duress, and even poor lifestyle choices.'Stress driving sales of sex stimulants' It isn't just the increase in episodes of stress and anxiety among people since the pandemic. In fact, a lot of people who have suffered from Covid-19 have come with complaints of a weak libido and erectile dysfunction. The number of such patients is increasing by the day," said Dr Paras Shah, a sexual health expert based in Ahmedabad.Medical practitioners also underlined the increasing trend of people, especially youngsters, getting addicted to smoking tobacco and even marijuana, which also impacts their sexual health. Another key reason cited for the rising sales is reckless consumption of these medicines."Youngsters, particularly in the age group of 18 to 30 years, tend to buy these medicines over the counter or even order online, plainly out of curiosity and not out of health concerns. Eventually, they become habituated to these drugs. Even though most of these people are well-read and aware of the consequences of indiscriminately consuming PDE5 inhibitors, they continue to consume them recklessly," Shah added. The moving annual turnover (MAT) for drugs used for sexual stimulation and rejuvenation, largely sildenafil citrate and tadalafil along with herbal and ayurvedic medicines in December 2022 increased to Rs 43.4 crore as against the MAT of Rs 32.5 crore in December 2021, according to AIOCD-AWACS. Chemists and druggists attribute this spike in sales to unrelenting stress people continue to experience since the pandemic.Other categories of medicines which showed growth in sales during the year include dermatology (9%), Otologicals (9%), Neuro and Central Nervous System (8%) and gynaecology (6%), among others.

Gujarat: Indiscriminate use, weak libido due to Covid-19 drive sex stimulant demand
In PM Modi’s message to BJP, the subtext: To find another gear, create soft power and goodwillPremium Story
The Indian Express | 1 week ago | 20-01-2023 | 02:50 pm
The Indian Express
1 week ago | 20-01-2023 | 02:50 pm

BJP leaders have said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address at the concluding session of the party’s national executive meeting had a clear message — focus on creating a “soft power” and “goodwill” to expand the party and increase its tally in the 2024 general elections to take the BJP’s journey of electoral victories to the next level.In the address, which emphasised on reaching out to more of the marginalised, minorities and small communities, Modi urged the BJP cadre to embrace the fact that the BJP is the ruling party at the Centre and many key states, and “think beyond conventional politics and electoral politics”.“To me, Prime Minister Modi was saying that the BJP should adopt a new style of politics to create soft power and goodwill among all sections of the people. He wants the BJP to create a positive atmosphere. The goodwill and soft power should help increase the BJP’s tally in the next Lok Sabha elections,” said a senior BJP leader.Modi’s reference to the age group of 18-25 in his speech also indicated that the party would also focus on that age group — youths in that age group are keen on development and a corruption-free government, according to Modi — to turn it into a strong loyal BJP support base.Party sources said the prime minister’s speech had given a clear signal that both the government and the party would take several initiatives in the coming days to see that the BJP gets more seats in the Lok Sabha elections. “Every step in the coming days, including the Budget, would keep that in mind,” said a party MP.In his speech to the national executive, Modi asked party members to reach out to every section of society, including the marginalised and minority communities, “without electoral considerations”. He wants BJP workers to reach out to Pasmandas, Bohras, Muslim professionals, and educated Muslims as a confidence-building measure and without expecting votes in return.Modi, who had a notebook with points scribbled on it while speaking, reiterated his message of reaching out to marginalised groups among the minorities at the Hyderbad National Executive meeting too. He also spoke about the Sikh community that, according to him, has a positive feeling about the BJP. He pointed out that the Sikh community is present in many districts outside Punjab too and the BJP cadre “should not ignore them” thinking they are too small to make any electoral difference.Recalling what the PM spoke about, a BJP leader said, “He said don’t always think about votes only. He also mentioned the small groups of backward communities and said they always stood by the BJP since the Jana Sangh days. He said there are small communities like Bohras, among whom there are several educated Muslims. They do not vote for the BJP but cooperate with the party in many activities. The Prime Minister specifically said Muslims would not vote for the BJP, but that should not stop us from reaching out to them.”A party leader said, “The target is to increase the BJP’s tally from 303 and return to power with more glory. Because the positive atmosphere will create a favourable situation for us — to talk about development work and to expand our base.”Another significant point the Prime Minister harped on was India’s global positioning. According to Modi, the global situation post Covid has a “lot of prospects and chances” and India should let them pass by. Even the national executive statement on the G-20 presidency mentioned the changed world order in the last nine years. According to BJP vice president Baijayant Panda who briefed the media on the statement, the G-20 and, in general, the world is “full of admiration” as India not only dealt with the Covid crisis but also reached out with help to other countries.Panda said BJP workers, in their individual capacity, would work to connect society as the country hosts over 200 G20-related events in more than 50 places. He added it was an opportunity to connect the society and showcase India’s progress and its rich heritage as delegates from not only the elite bloc of 20 leading economies but also many multilateral bodies such as the International Monetary Fund would visit India.

In PM Modi’s message to BJP, the subtext: To find another gear, create soft power and goodwillPremium Story
How Covid’s bitter divisions tarnished a liberal icon- Jacinda Ardern
The Indian Express | 1 week ago | 20-01-2023 | 02:50 pm
The Indian Express
1 week ago | 20-01-2023 | 02:50 pm

Written by Damien CaveJacinda Ardern explained her decision to step down as New Zealand’s prime minister Thursday with a plea for understanding and rare political directness — the same attributes that helped make her a global emblem of anti-Trump liberalism, then a target of the toxic divisions amplified by the coronavirus pandemic.Ardern, 42, fought back tears as she announced at a news conference that she would resign in early February before New Zealand’s election in October.“I know what this job takes, and I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice,” she said. “It is that simple.”Ardern’s sudden departure before the end of her second term came as a surprise to the country and the world. New Zealand’s youngest prime minister in 150 years, she was a leader of a small nation who reached celebrity status with the speed of a pop star.Her youth, pronounced feminism and emphasis on a “politics of kindness” made her look to many like a welcome alternative to bombastic male leaders, creating a phenomenon known as “Jacindamania.”Her time in office, however, was mostly shaped by crisis management, including the 2019 terrorist attack in Christchurch, the deadly White Island volcanic eruption a few months later and COVID-19 soon after that.The pandemic in particular seemed to play to her strengths as a clear and unifying communicator — until extended lockdowns and vaccine mandates hurt the economy, fueled conspiracy theories and spurred a backlash. In a part of the world where COVID restrictions lingered, Ardern has struggled to get beyond her association with pandemic policy.“People personally invested in her; that has always been a part of her appeal,” said Richard Shaw, a politics professor at Massey University in Palmerston North, New Zealand.“She became a totem,” he added. “She became the personification of a particular response to the pandemic, which people in the far-flung margins of the internet and the not so far-flung margins used against her.”The country’s initial goal was audacious: Ardern and a handful of prominent public health researchers who were advising the government held out hope for eliminating the virus and keeping it entirely out of New Zealand. In early 2020, she helped coax the country — “our team of 5 million,” she said — to go along with shuttered international borders and a lockdown so severe that even retrieving a lost cricket ball from a neighbor’s yard was banned.When new, more transmissible variants made that impossible, Ardern’s team pivoted but struggled to get vaccines quickly. Strict vaccination mandates then kept people from activities like work, eating out and getting haircuts.Dr. Simon Thornley, a public health researcher at the University of Auckland and a frequent and controversial critic of the government’s COVID response, said many New Zealanders were surprised by what they saw as her willingness to pit the vaccinated against the unvaccinated.“The disillusionment around the vaccine mandates was important,” Thornley said. “The creation of a two-class society and that predictions didn’t come out as they were meant to be, or as they were forecast to be in terms of elimination — that was a turning point.”Ardern became a target, internally and abroad, for those who saw vaccine mandates as a violation of individual rights. Online, conspiracy theories, misinformation and personal attacks bloomed. Threats against Ardern have increased greatly over the past few years, especially from anti-vaccination groups.The tension escalated in February. Inspired in part by protests in the United States and Canada, a crowd of protesters camped on the Parliament grounds in Wellington for more than three weeks, pitching tents and using parked cars to block traffic.The police eventually forced out the demonstrators, clashing violently with many of them, leading to more than 120 arrests.The scenes shocked a nation unaccustomed to such violence. Some blamed demonstrators, others the police and the government.“It certainly was a dark day in New Zealand history,” Thornley said.Dylan Reeve, a New Zealand author and journalist who wrote a book on the spread of misinformation in the country, said the prime minister’s international profile probably played a role in the conspiracist narratives about her.“The fact that she suddenly had such a large international profile and was widely hailed for her reaction really seemed to provide a boost for local conspiracy theorists,” he said. “They found support for the anti-Ardern ideas from like-minded individuals globally at a level that was probably out of scale with New Zealand’s typical prominence internationally.”The attacks did not cease even as the worst of the pandemic receded. This month, Roger Stone, the former Trump adviser, condemned Ardern for her COVID approach, which he described as “the jackboot of authoritarianism.”In her speech Thursday, Ardern did not mention any particular group of critics, nor did she name a replacement, but she did acknowledge that she could not help but be affected by the strain of her job and the difficult era when she governed.“I know there will be much discussion in the aftermath of this decision as to what the so-called real reason was,” she said, adding: “The only interesting angle you will find is that after going on six years of some big challenges, that I am human. Politicians are human. We give all that we can, for as long as we can, and then it’s time. And for me, it’s time.”Suze Wilson, a leadership scholar at Massey University in New Zealand, said Ardern should be taken at her word. She said that the abuse could not and should not be separated from her gender.“She’s talking about not really having anything left in the tank, and I think part of what’s probably contributed to that is just the disgusting level of sexist and misogynistic abuse to what she has been subjected,” Wilson said.In the pubs and parks of Christchurch on Thursday, New Zealanders seemed divided. In a city where Ardern was widely praised for her unifying response to the mass murder of 51 people at two mosques by a white supremacist, there were complaints about unfulfilled promises around nuts-and-bolts issues such as the cost of housing.Tony McPherson, 72, who lives near one of the mosques that was attacked nearly four years ago, described the departing prime minister as someone who had “a very good talk, but not enough walk.”He said she fell short on “housing, health care” and had “made an absolute hash on immigration,” arguing that many businesses had large staff shortages because of a delayed reopening of borders after the lockdowns.Economic issues are front and center for many voters. Polls show that Ardern’s Labour Party has been trailing the center-right National Party, led by Christopher Luxon, a former aviation executive.On the deck of Wilson’s Sports Bar, a Christchurch pub, Shelley Smith, 52, a motel manager, said she was “surprised” at the news of Ardern’s resignation. She praised her for suppressing the community spread of the coronavirus in 2020, despite the effects on the New Zealand economy. Asked how she would remember Ardern, she replied: “As a person’s person.”That appeal may have faded, but many New Zealanders do not expect Ardern to disappear for long. Helen Clark, a former prime minister who was a mentor to Ardern, followed up her time in office by focusing on international issues with many global organizations.“I don’t know she’ll be lost to the world,” Shaw said of Ardern. “She may get a bigger platform.”

How Covid’s bitter divisions tarnished a liberal icon- Jacinda Ardern
Climate misinformation ‘rocket boosters’ on Musk’s Twitter
The Indian Express | 1 week ago | 20-01-2023 | 02:50 pm
The Indian Express
1 week ago | 20-01-2023 | 02:50 pm

Search for the word “climate” on Twitter and the first automatic recommendation isn’t “climate crisis” or “climate jobs” or even “climate change” but instead “climate scam.” Clicking on the recommendation yields dozens of posts denying the reality of climate change and making misleading claims about efforts to mitigate it.Such misinformation has flourished on Twitter since it was bought by Elon Musk last year, but the site isn’t the only one promoting content that scientists and environmental advocates say undercuts public support for policies intended to respond to a changing climate.“What’s happening in the information ecosystem poses a direct threat to action,” said Jennie King, head of climate research and response at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a London-based nonprofit.“It plants those seeds of doubt and makes people think maybe there isn’t scientific consensus.” The institute is part of a coalition of environmental advocacy groups that on Thursday released a report tracking climate change disinformation in the months before, during and after the U.N. climate summit in November. The report faulted social media platforms for, among other things, failing to enforce their own policies prohibiting climate change misinformation.It is only the latest to highlight the growing problem of climate misinformation on Twitter. Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, allowed nearly 4,000 advertisements on its site — most bought by fossil fuel companies — that dismissed the scientific consensus behind climate change and criticized efforts to respond to it, the researchers found.In some cases, the ads and the posts cited inflation and economic fears as reasons to oppose climate policies, while ignoring the costs of inaction. Researchers also found that a significant number of the accounts posting false claims about climate change also spread misinformation about U.S. elections, COVID-19 and vaccines.Twitter did not respond to questions from The Associated Press. A spokesperson for Meta cited the company’s policy prohibiting ads that have been proven false by its fact-checking partners, a group that includes the AP. The ads identified in the report had not been fact-checked.Under Musk, Twitter laid off thousands of employees and made changes to its content moderation that its critics said undercut the effort. In November, the company announced it would no longer enforce its policy against COVID-19 misinformation. Musk also reinstated many formerly banned users, including several who had spread misleading claims about climate change. Instances of hate speech and attacks on LGBTQ people soared.Tweets containing “climate scam” or other terms linked to climate change denial rose 300% in 2022, according to a report released last week by the nonprofit Advance Democracy. While Twitter had labeled some of the content as misinformation, many of the popular posts were not labeled. Musk’s new verification system could be part of the problem, according to a report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, another organization that tracks online misinformation.Previously, the blue checkmarks were held by people in the public eye such as journalists, government officials or celebrities. Now, anyone willing to pay $8 a month can seek a checkmark. Posts and replies from verified accounts are given an automatic boost on the platform, making them more visible than content from users who don’t pay.When researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate analyzed accounts verified after Musk took over, they found they spread four times the amount of climate change misinformation compared with users verified before Musk’s purchase.Verification systems are typically created to assure users that the accounts they follow are legitimate. Twitter’s new system, however, makes no distinction between authoritative sources on climate change and anyone with $8 and an opinion, according to Imran Ahmed, the center’s chief executive.“We found,” Ahmed said, “it has in fact put rocket boosters on the spread of lies and disinformation.”

Climate misinformation ‘rocket boosters’ on Musk’s Twitter