Constitution in danger, many people living in an atmosphere of insecurity: Goa-Daman archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao

Constitution in danger, many people living in an atmosphere of insecurity: Goa-Daman archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao

Panaji: Archbishop of Goa and Daman Father Filipe Neri Ferrao has said that Constitution was in danger and many people are living in an atmosphere of insecurity. In a letter addressed to Christians, he said the constitution should be understood better as general elections are drawing closer.

The archbishop also said that human rights are under attack and democracy appears to be in peril. The letter, issued in the beginning of Pastoral Year that lasts from June 1 to May 31, is addressed to Christians in the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman. “Today, our Constitution is in danger (and that is) the reason why most of the people are living in insecurity,” the archbishop said.

“In this context, particularly as the general elections are fast approaching, we must strive to know our constitution better and work harder to protect it,” the letter stated. The archbishop said that “in recent times, we see a new trend emerging in our country, which demands uniformity in what and how we eat, dress, live and even worship: a kind of mono-culturalism.”

“Human rights are under attack and democracy appears to be in peril,” Ferrao said, adding that “various minorities fear for their safety. In short, respect for law is frankly on the decline in this country.” He said that people were being uprooted from their land and homes in the name of development and quoted Pope Francis who said that “the first victim of development is the poor person”.

“It is easier to trample upon the rights of the poor, because those who will raise their voice for them are very few,” he added. The archbishop called for the participation of Catholics and Church communities in politics and social causes. “Our parishes and small Christian communities ought to be immersed in this mission of the Church. They should be open to the problems of the world. This social concern should not only remain within the confines of the parish community but should reach out to the whole state and country at large,” Ferrao said in the letter.

He said that it was advisable that the faithful play an active role in the political field. They should, however, follow the dictates of their conscience while doing so and shun “sycophantic” politics, he added. “They should thus strengthen democracy and, on the other hand, help to improve the functioning of the state administration,” he said. The archbishop also expressed concern about malnutrition among children in the country.

“According to global multi dimensional poverty index, 30 per cent of the global population of children living in poverty reside in India,” he said. “Why India is struck by extreme poverty? 73 per cent of our countrys resources are controlled by 10 per cent of the population. The existing extreme poverty is therefore the result of rampant social injustice prevailing in the country,” the archbishop said.

Notably, Delhi archbishop Anil Couto had last month stated in a letter that a “turbulent political atmosphere” posed a threat to India’s democratic principles and secular fabric. In his letter to all parish priests and religious institutions in Delhi archdiocese, Couto had also appealed to the followers of his faith to launch a “prayer campaign” ahead of the 2019 general elections.

Health Ministry puts down proposals of 159 medical colleges for admissions in MBBS course

Health Ministry puts down proposals of 159 medical colleges for admissions in MBBS course

New Delhi: The Health Ministry has shot down proposals of 159 medical colleges, including 47 run by the government, for admissions in MBBS course in the academic year 2018-19. It means denial of over 20,000 seats, as against the existing admissions on 60,000 seats.

These include 68 new medical colleges, as also 82 existing medical colleges that have been asked not to admit a fresh batch despite already running the course, some even for three to five years. Nine other colleges were denied permission to increase the seats. The decisions, notified on the ministry website last weekend, are based on the recommendations from the Medial Council of India, the apex regulatory body for medical education that assesses whether colleges have the required infrastructure, faculty and number of patients. The regulator cited “deficiencies,” expressing concern that even the government colleges do not bother about meeting the requirements.

The number of medical colleges that got the red slip, directing them not to grant any admission in the coming academic year include 12 in Madhya Pradesh, 11 Maharashtra and 9 in Rajasthan. A MCI spokesman said the council is aware of acute shortage of at least five lakh doctors in the country as there are only 10,41,395 doctors, but it cannot compromise with quality of education as it would be otherwise playing with life of the people.

Government likely to announce Rs 7,000 crore package for sugarcane farmers

Government likely to announce Rs 7,000 crore package for sugarcane farmers

New Delhi: Post Kairana by poll loss and concerned over mounting sugarcane arrears of more than Rs 22,000 crore, the government is likely to announce a bailout package of over Rs 7,000 crore to enable cash-starved mills to partially clear the dues of farmers.

The amount will include creation of buffer stock of 30 LMT (lakh metric tonnes), for which the money will be transferred directly to farmers’ bank accounts. The minimum price for sale of sugar is likely to be fixed anywhere between Rs 30-Rs 20 a kg. The package is also expected to include a scheme worth over Rs. 4,400 crore for increasing the capacity for production of ethanol, one of the by-products of sugarcane.A decision in this regard is expected to be taken in a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs scheduled on Tuesday, sources said.

Agrarian distress is expected to be a major poll plank in the run-up to the 2019 elections. Cane arrears was the central issue that led to the BJP’s rout in the recently concluded by-elections in Kairana, Uttar Pradesh – the largest cane producing state in the country. Last month, the government had announced Rs 1,500 crore production-linked subsidy for sugarcane farmers to help millers make cane payments but it did not help them tide over the simmering anger.

Sugar mills are unable to make payments to cane growers as their financial health has worsened due to a sharp fall in sugar prices after a record production of 31.6 million tonne (MT) thus far in the 2017-18 season (October-September). The maximum cane dues of more than Rs 12,000 crore have accrued in Uttar Pradesh alone, the country’s biggest sugarcane producing state.

Fresh violence in Shillong, Centre rushes more forces

Fresh violence in Shillong, Centre rushes more forces

Shillong : The Army conducted flag marches on Monday after fresh outbreak of violence, including an attack by protesters on a CRPF camp on Sunst night, in the Meghalaya capital where authorities re-imposed curfew.

More that 15 companies of CRPF (100 personnel each) have been deployed in Shillong, officials said, while the Centre today sent an additional 10 companies of paramilitary forces to restore peace in the city where normal life was disrupted for the fourth day following clashes between local tribals and Punjabi residents.

After curfew was relaxed for eight hours yesterday, fresh clashes broke out last night, prompting police to use tear gas shells to quell the mobs, a police officer said.

Protesters pelted stones at the CRPF camp at Mawlai,  situated just below Jaiaw Lumsyntiew locality last night, the officer  said.

CRPF IG Prakash D told PTI that three CRPF personnel received minor injuries and were given medical treatment at the camp itself. “There is no immediate threat to their life and there was no report of damage to property at the camp,” he said.

Officials said curfew was reimposed at 4 pm today and would continue till further orders.

Chief Minister Conrad S Sangma chaired an all-party meeting in Shillong over the violence and announced formation of a committee which will find a “permanent solution to the long pending issue” of relocation of sweeper colony from Them Metor near Bara Bazaar, where the clashes had started on Thursday.

 Sangma also briefed a four-member team sent by the Punjab government. Punjab Jail Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, who led the delegation, said the members of the community were safe in the state. They will meet representatives of Punjabi community on Tuesday.

The Army conducted flag march today in the affected areas including Laitumkhrah, Polo and Baza Bazaar after curfew was imposed by district authorities, Defence spokesperson Ratnakar Singh told PTI.

He said the Army was called in on June 1. About 300 displaced civilians, mostly women and children, were rescued and they returned to their homes here the following day, Singh said.

The district authorities have clamped curfew in the entire state capital here to contain the situation and prevent the spread of protests to other parts of the city.

East Khasi Hills district deputy commissioner said the night curfew in the state capital was preponed from 10 pm to 4 pm after intelligence inputs indicated that about 500 “protesters” have entered the city.

The curfew, although relaxed on Sunday for few hours, will continue until further orders, he said.

The CPRF IG informed that 15 companies of CRPF have been deployed at the various locations which the district authorities have identified as vulnerable to attacks.

The National Commission for Minorities will send a member to  Shillong to investigate the clashes, the panel’s chief said             The panel has decided to send its member Manjit Singh Rai from Punjab to Shillong to assess the situation, said NCM chairperson Syed Ghayorul Hasan Rizvi.

The trouble started on Thursday after two groups of people in the city’s Punjabi Line area clashed after a bus handyman was allegedly beaten up by a group of residents.

More than 10 people, including policemen, were injured in the violence. One person has been arrested so far in connection with the assault.

Tourism has been hit in the picturesque Meghalaya due to the violence.

A number of hotels in Shillong, whom PTI spoke with, informed that there have been nervous queries from tourists and also last minute cancellations of rooms due to the current situation in the city. PTI JOP SNS ACB ASK  RT RT

Haryana horror: 6-year-old girl sexually assaulted and then killed in Yamunanagar

Haryana horror: 6-year-old girl sexually assaulted and then killed in Yamunanagar

Yamunanagar (Haryana): A 6-year-old girl was allegedly sexually assaulted and then killed in Yamunanagar district of Haryana on Sunday. The incident took place near former minister and Congress leader Nirmal Singh’s farmhouse in Khizrabad area of the district. The victim was the daughter of a watchman at Singh’s farmhouse. Yamuna Nagar SP Rajesh Kalia said that it is a case of sexual assault as many injuries were found on her body. “There are injuries on her body, so we feel it is a case of sexual assault. We’re taking the matter seriously. Investigation is underway.”

Average airfares fell by 18% in 2017, says civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu

Average airfares fell by 18% in 2017, says civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu

Mumbai: Civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu on Sunday said that average airfares dropped by 18 per cent in 2017, while the number of passengers flown by the domestic carriers recorded a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19 per cent in FY18 over FY14.

In a series of tweets, with hashtag #SaafNiyatSahiVikas (Clean intent, right development), Prabhu also said that his ministry is working on a blueprint for the domestic production of aircrafts under the government’s ‘Make in India’ programme. “Average airfares fell by 18% in 2017 over average airfare in 2015, making air travel more affordable for everyone,” he said in a tweet.

“Indian scheduled airlines carried more than 12 cr domestic passengers during FY18 as against 6.1 cr in FY14, recording growth of 19% CAGR. Strategic policies resulting in enabling more Indians to fly than ever before,” another tweet said. The Modi government had launched the slogan ‘Saaf Niyat, Sahi Vikas’ on its fourth anniversary on May 26, listing out its various achievements in a range of areas. Significantly, the country registered a double-digit growth in air passenger traffic for the 44th consecutive month at 26.05 per cent in April, on the back of low airfares and capacity addition by domestic airlines.

Over the last two years, airfares have remained flat, while fuel prices have doubled, Jet Airways chief executive officer Vinay Dube had recently said. The civil aviation minister in another tweet said that, “Comprehensive aviation capacity expansion program NABH NIRMAN has been envisaged to cater to one billion air passengers over the next decade.” Under NABH (NextGen Airports for Bharat) Nirman initiative, announced in the 2018-19 Union budget, the government plans to expand airport capacity by more than five times to handle a billion trips a year.

Suresh Prabhu asks Airbus to ‘Make in India’

Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu has asked aerospace major Airbus to manufacture aircraft in India. According to the minister, who also holds the charge of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, a “roadmap” for the same will be worked out. “Visited the Airbus facility in Toulouse, France. Growing Indian aviation sector, stress on regional connectivity leading to more demand for aircrafts. It is also an opportunity for global aircraft manufacturers,” the minister tweeted. “Linking this opportunity with Make In India will lead to more job creation in India while creating win-win for both sides. Impressed upon them to Make In India. We will work on a roadmap.”

Indian Railways join hands with road Ministry to construct elevated rail line along Mumbai-Nagpur expressway

Indian Railways join hands with road Ministry to construct elevated rail line along Mumbai-Nagpur expressway

New Delhi: Indian Railways has joined hands with the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to lay a rail line along the proposed expressway between Mumbai and Nagpur — a first such coordinated move.

According to a study, travel time will be drastically reduced for both road and train travellers if the two projects are integrated. The expressway will be fully access-controlled while the elevated rail track will ensure an uninterrupted high-speed train journey. The elevated rail line could be built in the middle or along the proposed 800 km expressway depending on the ground situation, according to a feasibility report.

The official said that twin tunnels and bridges can also be constructed for navigating rivers and hilly areas in a coordinated manner. Both arms of the government will work together to put the project on the fast track. The Spanish consultant Ineco conducted the feasibility study on constructing the high-speed rail line along the proposed Expressway and the reports were positive, a senior Railway Ministry official told IANS.

Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, which is already acquiring land for the proposed expressway, will keep the rail project in mind, he added. Land acquisition is a serious problem and many rail projects, including the ambitious Dedicated Freight Corridor, have been delayed due to land-related issues. The Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail corridor is also facing a similar problem.

Incidentally, the improved road network in the country has taken a toll on the Railways’ business on shorter routes and the national transporter is making a concerted effort to wean away goods and passenger traffic from roads and increase its share. “It’s a new way of executing the project faster, as the combined efforts to acquire land will ease a major burden on both ministries and pave the way for speedy execution,” the official said. The Mumbai-Nagpur section is part of the proposed high speed rail corridor between Howrah and Mumbai, the diamond quadrilateral rail project.

Restrictions imposed in parts of Srinagar to maintain law and order

Restrictions imposed in parts of Srinagar to maintain law and order

Srinagar: Authorities today imposed restrictions in parts of Srinagar as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order in the wake of the death of a youth who was allegedly hit by a security forces vehicle during clashes between protestors and forces.

Curfew and restrictions have been imposed in seven police station areas of the city, a police official said. He said curfew has been imposed in the Nowhatta area of the city, while restrictions under Section 144 CrPc were in force in Rainawari, Safakadal, Khanyar, MR Gunj, Maisuma and Kralkhud police station areas of Srinagar.

The curbs have been imposed as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order. The separatists had called a strike across Kashmir today to protest against the recent civilian killings.

Most of the shops, fuel stations and other business establishments in Srinagar were shut, while public transport was off the roads, the official said. However, he said private cars, cabs and auto-rickshaws were seen plying in the areas where there were no restrictions.

Private schools were shut in the city, the official said. He said similar reports of strike being observed were received from other district headquarters of the Valley. The authorities have also suspended mobile internet services in Srinagar and Budgam districts while the network speed has been reduced in four districts of south Kashmir. Train services in the Valley have also been suspended for the day.

A youth – Kasier Bhat – who was injured after he was allegedly hit by a security forces vehicle during clashes between protestors and forces in the Nowhatta area of the city yesterday, died at a hospital today, police said.

Orchid named after PM Narendra Modi in Singapore

Orchid named after PM Narendra Modi in Singapore

Singapore: An orchid was named after Prime Minister Narendra Modi to mark his visit to the National Orchid Garden of Singapore today. Modi is here on a three-day visit. “Dendrobrium Narendra Modi – an orchid named after PM @narendramodi on the occasion of his visit to the National Orchid Garden in Singapore,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.

“A strong and robust tropical orchid which produces upright inflorences up to 38 cm long with 14-20 well-arranged flowers,” he said. The distinguished and well twisted petals of the orchid are mahogany, while sepals are reddish brown and lined with a fine margin. They are beautifully complimented with an attractive dark purple lip.

Later, the prime minister visited  Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple Sri Mariamman and participated in prayers. “Reinforcing our strong cultural connect, PM @narendramodi visited the Mariamman Temple,” Kumar said. Built in 1827, the temple was constructed for worship by immigrants from the Nagapatnam and Cuddalore districts of South India. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Mariamman, known for her power in curing epidemic illnesses and diseases. The temple is located in the heart of Chinatown.

Congress-JD(S) alliance to fight 2019 general elections together

Congress-JD(S) alliance to fight 2019 general elections together

Bangalore (Karnataka): Congress leader KC Venugopal on Friday confirmed that Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) will be fighting the 2019 general elections together as a pre-poll alliance.

Venugopal, who was addressing a press conference along with Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy on cabinet expansion and portfolio allocation in Karnataka said, “Congress and JDS will fight the 2019 Lok Sabha elections as part of the alliance.” Speaking about the cabinet expansion and portfolio allocation, he said, “We(Congress-JDS) have come to a conclusion regarding cabinet expansion and portfolio allocation.” He further informed that JD(S) will hold the finance ministry, while the home department and the Bengaluru city development department went to the Congress.

The Congress got the portfolios of 22 ministries including Home, Irrigation, Health, Agriculture and Women Child Welfare, while 12 ministries, including Finance & Excise, PWD, Education, Tourism and Transport went to JD(S). Venugopal further said the rest of the departments would be decided by the Chief Minister in consultation with Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Chief Minister said that cabinet expansion will take place on June 6. “Today we (Congress-JDS) have decided the portfolios and henceforth on June 6 there is a Cabinet expansion after which we will definitely have good governance,”: Parameshwara told media. The Congress and JD(S) had been at the loggerheads over portfolio allocation ever since Kumaraswamy passed floor test on May 25, two days after his swearing-in on May 23.