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Sri Lanka won’t be used to inflict threat on India’s security: SL Prez


Gotabaya Rajapaksa also reiterated the need to reintroduce former Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s 1971 proposal to declare the Indian Ocean as a Peace Zone and urged India’s support for this endeavor.

The President of Sri Lanka, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, assured India on Tuesday that he will not allow Sri Lanka to be used for any activity that could pose a threat to  India’s security,  following a meeting with the Indian Foreign Secretary, Harsh Vardhan Shringla.

The President’s media unit said that Rajapaksa made the assurance on India’s security describing the importance of the geographical positioning of India and Sri Lanka.

Rajapaksa also explained his country’s relationship with China and assured that India should not have any doubt about it. During the meeting, a discussion was also held on enhancing the opportunities for the Sri Lankan military to train in India.

The Sri Lankan President also reiterated the need to reintroduce former Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s 1971 proposal to declare the Indian Ocean as a Peace Zone and urged India’s support for this endeavor.

The President stressed the need to reintroduce the strong ties between the two countries, similar to what it was during the 1960s and 70s.

Rajapaksa also told the Indian Foreign Secretary that his government is taking measures to create an environment for all the Tamil people who left the country to return to the island nation and said that at the recently-concluded United Nations summit, he extended an open invitation to the Tamil diaspora and all Tamil people living around the world.

Rajapaksa has also stated that 90 percent of the lands in the North and East acquired for security reasons during the war has been returned and compensation has been paid to the families of the disappeared.

While inviting Indian investors to Sri Lanka, Rajapaksa said that the subject minister has been vested with the responsibility to resolve the issue relating to the Trincomalee Oil Tanks in the East in a way that would benefit both countries.

Rajapaksa assured that the long-dragging issue relating to fishermen in the two countries could be resolved, providing benefits to the fishing communities in both parties.

Rajapaksa also extended an invitation to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Sri Lanka.

During the meeting with the President, the Indian Foreign Secretary underscored the importance India attaches to expeditiously taking forward mutually beneficial projects, including proposals to enhance air and sea connectivity between India and Sri Lanka.

He reiterated India’s position on the complete implementation of the provisions under the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, including devolution of power and the holding of provincial council elections at the earliest.

Shringla later left Sri Lanka after completing his three-day visit. During his first-ever visit, the Foreign Secretary met Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa, Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris, Lankan Foreign Secretary Admiral (Retd) Jayanath Colombage, and some Tamil political leaders.

He also visited the historical Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy, the India-run oil tanks in Trincomalee, and the former war-torn Northern city of Jaffna.

During his meeting with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Monday, Shringla stated that India-Sri Lanka relations are underpinned by vibrant people-to-people ties which would be further strengthened with the signing of the inter-governmental MoU for the $15 million Buddhism grant.

As a mark of goodwill and to bolster cultural links between the two countries, he said India will welcome the inaugural flight from Sri Lanka to Kushinagar, a religiously important place for Buddhists.

(With IANS inputs)




Lakhimpur Kheri incident pre-planned to crush peacefully protesting farmers: Punjab CM


Condemning the incident of Lakhimpur Kheri, Channi dared the BJP to respect the democratic ethics and values rather than perpetrating the rule of coercion (danda raj) to stifle the voice of people.

Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Tuesday said the incident at Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh was pre-planned to intentionally crush the innocent farmers who were peacefully protesting against the farm laws.

Staging a silent protest in front of the bust of father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi here at Gandhi Samark Bhawan, the CM said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would not succeed in its nefarious designs to indulge in such atrocious activities to demoralise the farmers thus diverting them from their path of peaceful agitation.

Condemning the incident of Lakhimpur Kheri, Channi dared the BJP to respect the democratic ethics and values rather than perpetrating the rule of coercion (danda raj) to stifle the voice of people.

The CM accompanied by his Cabinet colleagues, MLAs and party workers resolved not to succumb to the excesses of the BJP led government in Centre and states to intimidate the people by unleashing a reign of terror.

Later speaking to reporters, the CM slammed the UP government over the arrest of Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi who had planned to meet the victim families at Lakhimpur Kheri to express solidarity with them in this hour of grief. He said that with such acts, the Congress would emerge far more stronger to eventually oust the BJP government not only in Centre but in other states also.

The CM cautioned the Centre not to force our youth to follow revolutionary path in wake of such unfortunate incidents of Lakhimpur Kheri who would ultimately draw inspiration from the legendary martyrs like Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev and Udham Singh to seek justice.

Channi appealed to the Centre to immediately repeal these farm laws. He said the Centre should not let the peaceful atmosphere vitiate and maintain peace, harmony and brotherhood at all costs realising its prime duty.

Earlier, the CM paid floral tributes at the bust of Mahatma Gandhi and firmly resolved to seek inspiration from the father of the nation to protect the democratic rights. On the occasion, the Chief Minister also joined the dharna staged by the youth Congress workers of Chandigarh and raised slogans ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’, ‘Vande Matram’. Cabinet ministers Manpreet Singh Badal, Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Rana Gurjit Singh, Pargat Singh, Sangat Singh Gilzian and Gurkirat Singh Kotli along with MLAs and party workers joined the protest.




Indian scientists develop bio-degradable polymer with potential for wide-ranging packaging application


Polymers have a wide variety of industrial and commercial uses such as in making grocery bags, soda and water bottles, textile fibers, phones, computers, food packaging, auto-parts, toys, etc.

In a development that is likely to help effectively deal with the menace of piling non-biodegradable packaging materials, including water and soda bottles, Indian scientists have developed a biodegradable polymer using seeds of guar beans and shells of crab and shrimps.

Polymers have a wide variety of industrial and commercial uses such as in making grocery bags, soda and water bottles, textile fibers, phones, computers, food packaging, auto-parts, toys, etc. The problem with the polymer is that it is not biodegradable and hence poses a major challenge to the environment and earth’s ecosystem.

The newly developed environmentally friendly, non-toxic, biodegradable polymer using guar gum and chitosan, extracted from guar beans and shells of crab and shrimps, have ‘high water stability, high mechanical strength, and excellent resistance to harsh environmental conditions’ which can potentially be used in packaging applications, according to a Ministry of Science and Technology note here.

Polysaccharides extracted from guar beans and shells of crab and shrimps is one of the biopolymers with high potential for use in synthesis of packaging material. However, due to some drawbacks of polysaccharides, such as low mechanical properties, high water-solubility, and low barrier properties, they are not preferred.

“In order to overcome these challenges of polysaccharide, Dr Devasish Chowdhury, Associate Professor, and Sazzadur Rahman, Inspire Junior Research Fellow, fabricated a guar gum-chitosan composite film which is a cross-linked polysaccharide without using any plasticizer with the help of a method called the solution casting method (a simple technique to make polymer films),” the ministry note said.

“The fabricated biopolymer composite film had high water stability, high mechanical strength, and excellent resistance to harsh environmental conditions. This work has been published recently in the journal ‘Carbohydrate Polymer Technologies and Applications,” according to the ministry.

The researchers have found that the fabricated cross-linked film did not dissolve in water even after 240 hours. Besides, the mechanical strength of cross-linked guar gum-chitosan composite film was found to be higher compared to general biopolymer (biopolymer are known to have poor strength) and highly water repellent or hydrophobic due to its high contact angle of 92.8º. It has also low water vapor permeability when compared with the film made only from chitosan, researchers said.




India and Japan navies to take part in 5th Jimex maritime exercise from 8-9 October


Indigenously built guided missile stealth destroyer Kochi and Guided Missile Frigate Teg, under the command of Rear Admiral Ajay Kochhar, Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet, will represent the Indian Navy.

Indian Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force will take part in the fifth edition of bilateral maritime exercise – JIMEX- in Arabian Sea begining 8-9 October.

Indigenously built guided missile stealth destroyer Kochi and Guided Missile Frigate Teg, under the command of Rear Admiral Ajay Kochhar, Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet, will represent the Indian Navy.

From Japan, Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force will be represented by JMSDF ships Kaga, an Izumo Class Helicopter Carrier and Murasame, a Guided Missile Destroyer, led by Rear Admiral IkeuchiIzuru, Commander Escort Flotilla – 3  (CCF-3).

Besides ships, P8I Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft, Dornier Maritime Patrol Aircraft, integral helicopters and MiG 29K fighter aircraft will also take part in the exercise, according to a Ministry of Defence note here.

The objective of the JIMEX-21 is to develop a common understanding of operational procedures and enhance interoperability through conduct of a multitude of advanced exercises, across the entire spectrum of maritime operations. Multi-faceted tactical exercises involving weapon firings, cross-deck helicopter operations and complex surface, anti-submarine and air warfare drills will consolidate coordination developed by the two navies, the ministry note further added.

Naval cooperation between India and Japan has increased in scope and complexity over the years. JIMEX-21 will further enhance the cooperation and mutual confidence between the two navies and fortify the long-standing bond of friendship between the two countries, the ministry note pointed out.

JIMEX series of exercises began in January 2012 with focus on maritime security cooperation. The last edition of JIMEX was conducted in September 2020.




14 per cent children worldwide suffer from mental health issues: UNICEF


Around 14 percent of 15 to 24-year-olds in India often have a mental health problem or are under stress leading to depression, the report stated.

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has created serious concerns about the mental health of children and their families, says UNICEF report on mental health ‘The States of the World’s Children 2021’.

Around 14 percent of 15 to 24-year-olds in India often have a mental health problem or are under stress leading to depression, the report stated.

One in 7 adolescents aged 10-19 is estimated to live with a diagnosed mental disorder globally. Of these, South Asia had the highest numbers of adolescents with mental disorders, according to the report.

Releasing the report here on Tuesday, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said, “Mental health has widely been discussed in our Sanatan culture and spirituality. The mutual development of mind and body has been explained in our texts. A healthy mind resides in a healthy body. We are very happy that today UNICEF has released a global report on the mental health of children”.

The Union Minister blamed the increasing trend of nuclear families, that replaced joint families, in our society, for the mental health problems that have become frequent in children. “Today parents are not able to give enough time to their child, so we need to talk about mental health,” he said, and added, “We have been told that around 14 percent of children worldwide have a mental health problem. It has to be taken seriously.”

Mandaviya said, “To build a better and developed society, it is necessary to keep monitoring the mental health of children from time to time. For this, arrangements will also have to be made for better mental health of teachers in schools. Because, children trust their teachers the most”.

Sharing his experience, the minister said that he as the health minister faced mental pressure during the second wave.

He continued saying, “People’s problems shook me. After that I started doing yoga and cycling in the morning. It is my request to all that you also examine the problems of your mind and work for its betterment. Spend enough time at home with your children. Talk to them in a friendly atmosphere.”

In the UNICEF survey across 21 countries, only 41 per cent of young people in India were willing to seek support for mental health problems, compared to an average of 83 per cent for 21 countries.

Children in India seem reluctant to seek support for mental stress, according to a survey conducted by UNICEF and Gallup in early 2021 with 20,000 children and adults in 21 countries. Only 41 per cent of young people between 15-24 years of age in India said that it is good to get support for mental health problems, compared to an average of 83 per cent for 21 countries.

The proportion ranged from almost one in three in Cameroon, one in seven in India and Bangladesh, to as low as one in ten in Ethiopia and Japan. Across 21 countries, the median was one in five young people.

As per the report, India was the only one of 21 countries where only a minority of young people felt that people experiencing mental health issues should reach out to others. In every other country, a majority of young people (ranging from 56 to 95 per cent) felt that reaching out was the best way to deal with mental health issues.

According to data from UNESCO, over 286 million children up to grade 6 were out of school in India between 2020-2021. UNICEF’s rapid assessment in 2021 found that only 60 per cent could access digital classrooms. Many would not be able to continue their education.

Meanwhile, wide gaps persist between mental health needs and mental health funding. India has spent only 0.05 per cent of its health budget annually on mental health, according to Indian Journal of Psychiatry 2017, the report claimed.

 




Breastfeeding is ‘inalienable constitutional right’ of a mother: HC


The Karnataka high court bench headed by Justice Krishna S. Dixit gave the order while hearing a case of habeas corpus petition filed by a woman from Bengaluru, whose baby was stolen from the hospital.

The Karnataka High Court has observed that breastfeeding is an inalienable right of a mother and the Constitution under Article 21 guarantees this fundamental right. The right of the infant needs to be assimilated with that of its mother, the court has underlined.

The high court bench headed by Justice Krishna S. Dixit gave the order on Wednesday while hearing a case of habeas corpus petition filed by a woman from Bengaluru, whose baby was stolen from the hospital.

The mother pleaded with the court that her baby should be handed over to her from the couple who are looking after the baby presently.

A psychiatrist allegedly had stolen the newborn and given it away to the couple from Koppal in May 2020.

The bench has directed the authorities to hand over the baby from the couple to the biological mother.

The bench observed that it is unfortunate that newborn babies remained without being breastfed, “in a civilized society such things should not occur. It is to be recognized that breastfeeding is the inseparable right of a mother”, the bench said.

The counsel appearing for the foster mother contended that the biological mother already has two kids whereas the foster mother had none and she has nursed the baby with all the love and affection.

However, the court rejected the demand of the counsel that the baby should be handed over to the custody of the foster mother. The bench has underlined that the court cannot recognize the rights of strangers as opposed to biological parents as far as an infant is concerned.

The court also set aside the comparison of the “Devaki Mata (the mother of Lord Krishna) and Yashoda Mata (Lord Krishna’s foster mother). “Children are not chattel. The distributive justice intends to bridge the gap does not apply in this case,” the court underlined as it made it clear that the right to breastfeed one’s child can neither be taken away from nor given away by the possessor.

Convinced of the biological mother’s rights, the foster mother from Koppal has handed over the baby to her. The biological mother has agreed to the visit by the foster mother whenever she desires.

Justice Dixit appreciating the kind gestures from both mothers belonging to different religions said rarely he has come across such incidents. The court also observed that there will be no action against the foster parents in connection with the kidnapping of the child.

The newborn child was allegedly stolen from a maternity home in Bengaluru. The accused gave it to a couple from Koppal for money claiming that the child was born out of surrogacy.

However, the police cracked the case and arrested the accused psychiatrist, and tracked the child to Koppal. The court disposed of the petitions filed by both biological mother and foster mother.

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Amit Shah’s home has become centre of anti-Dalit politics: Congress


Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala was reacting to former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s meeting with Home Minister Amit Shah at the latter’s residence

Reacting to former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s meeting with Home Minister Amit Shah at the latter’s residence, the Congress has said that the senior BJP leader’s home has become the “center of anti-Dalit politics”.

Congress general secretary and party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweeted after the meeting of Singh and Shah, saying: “The arrogance of those in power has been hurt… since a Dalit has been made the Chief Minister, they ask who takes the decisions in the Congress? They did not like the idea of the top position being given to a Dalit.”

Surajewala alleged that “the center of anti-Dalit politics is nowhere else but Amit Shah’s residence”.

“He and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are burning in the fire of vengeance… They want to take revenge on Punjab because they have so far failed to serve the interests of their capitalist comrades with the black anti-farmer laws. BJP’s anti-farmer conspiracy will not succeed,” he added.

At around 6 p.m. on Wednesday, former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh reached Amit Shah’s residence on Wednesday and met him for 50 minutes.

During this, Amarinder Singh said that the Minimum Support Price (MSP) should be guaranteed by repealing all the three agricultural laws passed by the Modi government. Along with this, the issue of farmers’ agitation going on for the last 10 months should also be resolved by the Central Government at the earliest.

However, it is also being said that during the meeting, political discussions have also taken place between the two leaders.

It is noteworthy that Singh has been in Delhi for the last two days, as soon as he reached Delhi on Tuesday, there was speculation about his meeting with Amit Shah. However, a statement later said he has come to Delhi on a personal tour.

On Tuesday, just before he reached Delhi, Punjab Congress state president Navjot Singh Sidhu had also resigned. Therefore, in this situation, this meeting is being described as “very important”.




Bhabanipur records lowest polling percentage in first 2 hours


According to the data available with the ECI, the high-profile assembly constituency, from where West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is contesting, recorded only 7.5 percent of polling in the first two hours of the election.

Bhabanipur Assembly seat, from where West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is contesting, recorded the lowest polling percentage among three assembly by-elections in the state in the first two hours of polling on Thursday.

According to the data available with the Election Commission of India, the high-profile assembly constituency recorded only 7.5 percent of polling in the first two hours of the election. On the other hand, the two assembly constituencies of Jangipur in Murshidabad district and Samserganj recorded 17.5 and 16.3 percent polling respectively.

Though there was a peaceful election in Murshidabad district, the opposition in Bhabanipur alleged that the ruling Trinamool Congress was violating rules on several occasions in the constituency.

BJP candidate Priyanka Tibrewal said, “There was unlawful assembly in several areas of the constituency. I have complained to the police but they are not taking any step”. Tibrewal was even seen getting engaged in a verbal debate with the state police personnel on duty in the constituency.

CPM candidate Srijib Biswas said, “You won’t find flags and banners of the opposition near the polling stations but there are flags of Trinamool Congress within 200 meters of the booth. I have told the police but they are hardly paying any attention”.

State Transport Minister and in-charge of Bhabanipur, Firhad Hakim, however, rubbished all the allegations. “The Election Commission has deployed 35 companies of central forces. They are not our forces. Let them deploy 5,000 companies of forces but nothing is going to happen. The BJP can’t even give polling agents in all the booths. I am telling you they will bring people from other areas and try to push them into the booths as agents which is against the rule. When they will fail to do so they will start shouting that we are not allowing their agents to sit. This is ridiculous”.

The polling began at 7 a.m. in the morning. The election was necessitated after TMC MLA Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay resigned to make way for Mamata Banerjee.

It is necessary for Mamata Banerjee to win this seat to continue as Chief Minister of West Bengal. The votes will be counted on October 3.




Victory for Subramanian Swamy in TTD case


The police informed the court that the picture of Jesus Christ was never used on the website of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) as reported by a Telugu daily in 2019.

BJP Member of Parliament Subramanian Swamy on Wednesday claimed victory in Andhra Pradesh High Court as police informed the court that the picture of Jesus Christ was never used on the website of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) as reported by a Telugu daily in 2019.

The police also conveyed to the court that it was framing charges against three persons of the newspaper for carrying a report which incited people.

Subramanian Swamy, who argued the case on behalf of TTD, termed it as a victory as the trial will now begin in the case. He alleged that ‘Andhra Jyoti’ indirectly managed by former chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu carried a report which incited people but turned out to be a lie.

The former union minister told a television channel that he had taken up the case at the request of Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy.

He said ‘Andhra Jyoti’ had carried a front-page story that TTD board, which is the custodian of the famed Sri Venkateswara temple at Tirumala, displayed on its website a picture of Jesus Christ. He said the newspapers did not have even the basic courtesy of speaking to TTD chairman Y.V. Subba Reddy

Swamy said this had led to tremendous upheaval among Hindus but the investigations revealed that the report was totally fabricated.

Subba Reddy had filed a defamation suit against the daily for Rs 100 crore.

Swamy recalled that he had also filed a hate speech petition under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 153, 153A, 295, 295A, 500 naming editors, journalists having committed acts that incited people.

The TTD has filed a complaint with the police there was no investigation and nothing happened for the next one-and-a-half years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He later went to the High Court seeking court monitoring of the investigation. In response to the court notice, the DGP informed the court that the investigations concluded that there was never a picture of Jesus Christ on the TTD website.

Police said a case was registered and persons involved were summoned to the police station. The police also conveyed that they are now framing charges against three people. Terming this as a victory, Swamy said the trial will now begin in the case.




Babul lashes out at PM, says will resign as Asansol MP


“Since 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has neither appointed any MP from West Bengal as a Cabinet minister nor any Union minister of state, independent charge. Forget about me, even a very senior MP like Surender Singh Ahluwalia has been denied the post of a Cabinet minister,”

Asansol MP Babul Supriyo, who recently joined Trinamul Congress, lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi today after returning from New Delhi, saying that Modi doesn’t trust Bengalis.

Supriyo announced that he has decided to resignation his Lok Sabha seat. However, he said he was unable to meet Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla during his visit therefore, failing to submit his resignation.

“Since 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has neither appointed any MP from West Bengal as a Cabinet minister nor any Union minister of state of independent charge. Forget about me, even a very senior MP like Surender Singh Ahluwalia has been denied the post of a Cabinet minister,” alleged Supriyo.

Supriyo and another MP from Bengal, Debashree Choudhury, were appointed Union ministers of state after BJP won a record 18 Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 general elections. Both were however ousted after BJP fell short of expectations in the 2021 Assembly polls and instead four new faces were inducted.

Supriyo himself has served as Union minister of state in three different ministries – urban development along with housing and urban poverty alleviation, heavy industries and public sector enterprises, environment, forests and climate control during his seven-year tenure.

He alleged that the Centre is behaving like a stepmother with the MPs elected from Bengal. Trinamul is trying to usher in progress in the state and he is sure that chief minister Mamata Banerjee will win Bhawanipore bypoll comprehensively.

During his 2014 Lok Sabha poll campaign in Polo Ground, Modi had urged voters of the industrial belt by saying that he wants Babul in Parliament. The PM even attended the marriage ceremony of the singer-turned-politician
in New Delhi.

Supriyo’s remarks at this crucial juncture is salient particularly when there are upcoming bypolls and a new BJP state president has taken charge, political observers feel.




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