Today Picture

Despite Covid, India serious about infra development: PM Modi

Modi also pointed out that many of us seen the time when the water was supplied in the villages through tankers and trains.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday performed the Bhoomi Poojan of Ahmedabad Metro Project Phase 2 and Surat Metro project.

He said that the Ahmedabad project worth Rs 17,000 crore is taking shape which shows that even during the Covid pandemic the country is working hard to give pace to the infrastructure development.

After the Bhoomi Pujan, Modi said, “Today, infrastructure projects worth Rs 17,000 crore is going to start, which shows that the country is serious on taking the infrastructure development project even during the Covid pandemic.”He said that before 2014, 225 km of metro lines became functional in 10 to 12 years while in last six years more than 450 km of metro lines are operational.

He further said that after Ahmedabad, Surat is one of the biggest city in Gujarat which will be connected with modern transport facility.

“In Surat, the metro project will connect the important business centres with each other,” the Prime Minister said.

The Prime Minister said that today we are developing integrated system of transportation in cities.

Which means bus, metro, train will no longer run according to it but as a collective management to complement each other, he said.

He said that on the basis of population, Surat is the eighth most populated city out of 10 in the country and fourth developed city in the world.

He said, out of every 10 diamonds in the country, nine are carved and finished in Surat.

The Prime Minister highlighted that besides cities, villages in Gujarat have also witnessed unprecedented development. “Specially the roads, electricity and the supply of the water have improved in last two decades. These are very important chapter in the history of Gujarat,” he said.

Modi also pointed out that many of us seen the time when the water was supplied in the villages through tankers and trains.

“Now 80 per cent of the population in the state is getting water supply from pipeline,” he said.

Modi said that under the Jal Jeevan Mission, 10 lakh new water connections have been distributed. “And very soon, every household in Gujarat will be getting water supply through pipeline,” he said.

CBI books official, beneficiaries in defence recruitment scam

It was found that another candidate Utkarsh Srivatsava is the son of Sunil Srivatsava, who retired as office superintendent of SQAE (Armament), Kanpur, the FIR alleged.

Two years after taking over the case, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed an FIR in the Kanpur defence recruitment scam, officials said on Monday.

The case has been filed against Santosh Kumar Tiwari, Deputy Controller in the Material Division of the Controllerate of Quality Assurance CQA(M), who was the presiding officer of the recruitment board and beneficiaries Ravi Kant Pandey, Utkarsh Srivatsava, Arti Gupta, Pratibha Mishra and Arpit Singh and other unknown persons.

The officials in Kanpur had organised a recruitment drive for six posts of Lower Division Clerk (LDC) in the Directorate General of Quality Assurance which comes under the Union Ministry of Defence. For this purpose, advertisements were issued in 2015 and appointments were made in 2017.

An internal inquiry committee headed by Brigadier Sudhindra Itnal had found serious irregularities in the recruitment process. Following the submission of a report in this regard, the recruitment board itself was dissolved by the competent authority and the services of the appointed LDCs were terminated on November 28, 2018.

In a letter to the CBI on August 10, 2018, the Department of Defence Production (DDP) mentioned “serious irregularities” of a criminal nature concerning the appointment of six LDCs in 2016 by the now-dissolved recruitment board in Uttar Pradesh’s Kanpur. This letter was sent to the apex investigative agency on the orders of Minister of State for Defence, Subhash Bhamre who acted on the advice of the Central Vigilance Commission.

The official said the agency had done a preliminary enquiry against Tiwari, Sunil Kumar, SSO-II, CQA (M) Kanpur (member) and Mohammad Alim, AE (QA), SQAE (GS), Kanpur (Member) and Colonel A.K. Gandhi, Joint Controller, CQA (M), CQA (GS) and CQA (T&C), Kanpur in 2020.

In the preliminary enquiry, it was revealed that an advertisement for filing four posts of the LDCs in CQA (M) Kanpur was published in various newspapers. Later on the number of posts were increased from four to six, including three for the general category, one each for the OBC, SC and Physically Handicapped (PH) category in March 2015.

It was also revealed that 4,181 candidates had applied for the said post out of which 952 candidates were found eligible for the written test.

It said that on June 22, 2016, a Board of Officers was constituted by C. Devakinandan, Controller Kanpur to conduct the recruitment for the said posts. It said that the board comprised Tiwari, Neha Agarwal, a Scientist, Sunil Kumar and Mohammad Alim.

It further said that a written test was held on June 26, 2016 in which a total of 517 candidates appeared. “After completion of the written examination, the invigilators had collected the answer sheets and submitted the same in the room of Tiwari in an unsealed condition which was against the rule,” it alleged.

“In the enquiry it was also revealed that answer sheets were evaluated by the BOO under the supervision of Tiwari in his room and Agarwal who was an external member was not called for the same,” the official said.

He also said that on the basis of the evaluation of the answer sheets, 110 candidates were qualified for the typing test, out of which only 95 appeared for the same on September 28, 2016.

“The PH candidates were exempted from the typing test. Total 54 candidates and two PH candidates were qualified for the same post and a final merit list was published by DGQA website on November 25, 2016. Out of six selected candidates, five candidates joined their duties whereas one candidate Vivek Chandra did not join as he was selected elsewhere,” the official said.

“Investigation further revealed that there were manipulations done in the selection process by Tiwari, who altered the marks obtained by candidates at the time of rechecking,” the official said, adding that Tiwari, was also involved in evaluation of answer sheets of written exam wherein he evaluated overwritten answer sheets in contravention of the instructions of the DGCA.

“The alteration was done by Tiwari and some of the answers of the selected candidates were also changed by him after the evaluation. The answer sheets were rechecked by Tiwari and during rechecking he altered the final marks of the candidates without the knowledge of concerned invigilators,” the official alleged.

The preliminary enquiry further found that Arpit Singh, who got selected under the PH quota did not have the requisite handicapped certificate at the time of submission of the application as well as on June 26, 2016 the day of written exam and he obtained the same on August 27, 2016.

“Since, he had not submitted the certificate at the time of applying the post, he should not be eligible for the written test and exemption from the typing under PH category and his selection should be void ab-initio,” the FIR alleged, which has been viewed by IANS.

In the FIR, it said, investigation also revealed that one of the selected candidates Vivek Chandra had originally scored 52 marks which were subsequently changed to 61, similarly marks obtained by another selected candidates Arpit Singh were increased from 58 to 69 and marks obtained by selected candidate Arti Gupta was increased from 68 to 70 by Tiwari during the rechecking.

“Probe further highlighted that there was overwriting in the answer sheet of Arpit Singh in case of several answers and there was overwriting in the answer sheet of another selected candidate Pratibha Mishra, Utkarsh Srivatsava. These candidates were clearly favoured by Tiwari,” the FIR alleged.

“Even the other members of the board Sunil Kumar, Mohammad Alim who had evaluated the answer sheets, stated during the CBI enquiry that they were neither overwritten on the answer sheets nor altered the final scores of the selected candidates,” the FIR said.

“They stated that the said alteration or over writing was done by Tiwari and some of the answers of the selected candidates were edited by Tiwari after the evaluation,” the FIR stated, adding that the role of Sunil Kumar and Mohammad Alim did not surface during the enquiry.

“During the probe it was also found that Ravi Kant Pandey is a relative of H.N. Tiwari, Pratibha Mishra is daughter of Om Prakash Mishra, Staff of COD, Cantonment Kanpur and daughter-in-law of P.P. Dwivedi, the then security officer, CQA(M), Kanpur,” it said.

It was found that another candidate Utkarsh Srivatsava is the son of Sunil Srivatsava, who retired as office superintendent of SQAE (Armament), Kanpur, the FIR alleged.

Prepping for R-Day

A special dais with a glass-shield cabin is being raised for the President to take the salute.

As January comes, Delhi gets into the Republic Day mood. The city knows it will be watching another parade at India Gate soon. Rajpath already has loudspeakers blaring patriotic songs every morning. One can enjoy them while taking a short walk around the area, or while sitting at nearby bus stops.

It’s an annual ritual to test the public address system for the 26 January ceremony.

Despite all the gloom spread by overcast skies, men in uniform have begun rehearsing their march-past. Stands are being erected on both sides of the Rajpath for spectators, though their number will be much smaller this year.

A special dais with a glass-shield cabin is being raised for the President to take the salute.

The parade has been curtailed this year because of Covid. But this can’t curtail the excitement that the parade brings to the national capital.

The city behaves like a child, who insists on watching the spectacle of defence forces marching to bands, and tableaux showing glimpses of life and colours from different States. There are indications that this year the parade will run from the Vijay Chowk to the National Stadium, instead of terminating at the Red Fort. Delhi’ites have seen the parade umpteen times, but it is never enough for them. There are stories of people coming on bullock carts from neighbouring states to watch the parade in its initial years.

The villagers would leave the countryside at night to be on the parade route well in time. The city residents too would leave their homes early and take DTC buses to get dropped at the closest points. It was like a picnic for many as they brought food and fruits to enjoy during and after the parade.

The excitement abated a little after live coverage of the parade started on television.

The Covid pandemic may have cast a shadow over the show this year, but it cannot suppress the pride people attach to watching the parade.

For those watching the parade the first time, it leaves memories of a lifetime.

An unavoidable irritant connected with the event is growing security cover.

Already Rajpath is cordoned off for pre-parade preparations. Domestic tourists or locals wanting to have a close look at the India Gate need to take a long detour from the nearest Metro station.

This year’s January has been unusually cold and wet. People waited for the middle of the month for the Lohri night bonfires. This year too, all across the city, people collected wood for the fires to keep warm, and to drive away their depression. The past year had given them little else other than gloomy Covid news.

There was speculation that the pandemic could get worse during the winter. Fortunately, it eased in the capital, although the flow of news from different parts of the world showed the lurking danger. Covid has turned the world even smaller. As festivals come and go, the continuing farmers’ protest on Delhi’s borders sits heavy on people’s minds.

They keep wondering how the whole issue would be resolved. The farmers consider the Centre’s new agri laws an attack on their freedom to do farming the way they like it, with a potential of destroying their livelihood eventually. Nothing less than the abrogation of the laws is acceptable to them.

The Supreme Court has for the time being stayed the implementation of the laws. The farmers continue their dharna and have planned a tractor-trolley march to celebrate the Republic Day. The day will mark the completion of two months of their dharna at Singhu border in North Delhi. Considering the frequent suicides reported from the dharna venues, groups of artistes have been visiting them to express solidarity

Haridwar gets a makeover with wall paintings for Kumbh

The Uttarakhand government is using wall painting as a medium to make the tourists and devotees aware about the tradition, culture and mythological heritage of the hill state.

Devotees visiting Haridwar during the current Kumbh Mela will get a chance to get a glimpse of hill life through wall paintings. Artists are busy creating murals on walls showcasing the splendor of religious faith, folk traditions and mythological culture in this holy township.

A folk artist playing bagpipe, village women going to forest to collect fodder, artists playing drums, villagers dancing, murals of gods/goddesses, city life of Haridwar, etc — these wall paintings have been done on the walls of bridges, ghats, government building walls in the Kumbh area.

Mythological paintings of religious beliefs and cultural life are ready to woo the guests.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said, “The state government is committed to grand hosting of the Kumbh Mela. Efforts are being made to make the visitors familiar with the folk and cultural heritage of Uttarakhand.”

The Uttarakhand government is using wall painting as a medium to make the tourists and devotees aware about the tradition, culture and mythological heritage of the hill state.

The artworks have been created under the ‘Paint My City’ campaign of the Haridwar Roorkee Development Authority. Various organizations are helping to decorate the Kumbh Mela area with paintings.

Rail service from Patencheru to Medak soon

Sangareddy: South Central Railway (SCR) has completed an engineering cum traffic survey of Nagulapalli, Patancheru to Medak broad-gauge railway line and send a tentative budget proposal of Rs.1764 cr to the Railway Ministry.

The authorities took up the survey after the Railways allotted funds in 1918-19 to conduct the survey.  The 89.10 km length of railway track will connect four towns: Patancheru-Sangareddy-Jogipet and Medak apart from connecting other towns and villages en route facilitating lakhs of people. 

The railway line will start at Nagulpally village near Patancheru and ends at Medak town. As per the survey, the tentative cost of a kilometre of railway track would be around Rs.19.81 cr.

The SCR has sent a letter to the Railway Board on December 31 informing them of the completion of the survey and submitted the budget proposal.  The Parliament session shall begin from January 29 and the central budget would be submitted on February 1. It would be interesting to see whether or not the 2021-2022 budget allocates budget for this railway line.  If the funds are allocated in this budget then the wait of the people of the erstwhile Medak district would be over.  During her election campaign in Medak District, the late PM Indira Gandhi had promised this railway line.

Railway Line Sadhna Samithi Committee founder Ganga Joginath said that they have presented a number of representations since last 18 years to all the prime ministers, railway ministers and other authorities concerned seeking railway line to connect important towns in Medak district with the State capital.  “We urge the Centre Government to allocate the necessary funds in the coming budget so that these important towns in Telangana will get railway connectivity,” Joginath said.

FIR against makers of Saif Ali Khan starrer Tandav for hurting religious sentiments

Mumbai: An FIR has been registered against Ali Abbas Zafar and Gaurav Solanki, the director, producer and writer of the political web-series ‘Tandav’ along with Amazon Prime India’s head of original content in Hazratganj police station, Lucknow.

The complaint was filed by Amar Nath Yadav, who is a senior sub-inspector at the Hazratganj police station. He alleged that the show portrayed Hindu gods in poor light and had casteist scenes and dialogues in the show.

According to news agency IANS, the FIR says that there are angry outbursts on social media against the content of the web series which was released on January 16 and people are posting its clippings.

“After watching the series, it was found that in the 17th minute of Episode 1, characters playing Hindu gods and goddesses have been shown in an uncharitable way and using undignified language, which can trigger religious sentiments,” the complainant said.

“Similarly, in the 22nd minute of the same episode, efforts have been made to ignite caste clashes. The person holding a dignified post like that of prime minister has been shown in a very derogatory manner throughout the web series,” the FIR further stated.

Speaking on this, the deputy commissioner of police, Central Zone, Somen Barma said, “A police team from Hazratganj will leave for Mumbai to investigate and interrogate those named in the FIR on Monday.”

Many political leaders came out and spoke against the series and have asked the makers to remove the objectionable scenes.

Tandav, starring actors Saif Ali Khan, Dimple Kapadia, Sunil Grover, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Dino Morea, Kumud Mishra, Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub, Gauhar Khan and Kritika Kamra, premiered on the streaming platform on Friday, January 16.

Farooq Abdullah asks partymen to close ranks, face challenges

We have to live up to the ideals bequeathed to us by the life and struggle of Sher-e-Kashmir.

National Conference (NC) President and member of Parliament from Srinagar Dr. Farooq Abdullah on Tuesday urged the party activists to close ranks and meet the challenges.

Presiding over a meeting of party functionaries in Srinagar, Abdullah said the party cadre’s mood was buoyed after trouncing anti Kashmir forces in the recent DDC elections and that now it was the duty of the party members to live up to their obligations towards the public. He conceded that discipline and unity among the party cadre and functionaries were the reasons that people of Jammu and Kashmir have reposed their faith in us.

Asking the party functionaries to remain in touch with the people and ensure mitigation of issues concerning them in their day to day lives, Abdullah said, “Highs and lows are part of growth. Sometimes we need to journey into the deepest, darkest, scariest, most painful journeys to succeed. Our party has seen many highs and lows, but with people on our side, we have been able to tide over all the “A strong National Conference is an answer to all the problems confronted by our people. The party has braved all challenges and will continue to do so with active support of the people,” he said while interacting with the party functionaries. The party functionaries apprised the party president about the post DDC election scenario and other matters concerning the public and party in general. While interacting with the functionaries, the Party President said serving people should be the prime focus of the party’s district and local units.
He said that the National Conference firmly believes in people to be the fountain head of power.”

We have to live up to the ideals bequeathed to us by the life and struggle of Sher-e-Kashmir.

difficulties. We share a bond with people, and it is the duty of the party rank and file to strengthen it by serving them. The region is passing through a difficult phase, thus making it imperative for the party cadre to close their ranks for meeting the challenges ahead.”

Covid: India continues its streak of low daily new cases

About 70 per cent of the daily new cases are reported from seven states — Kerala, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.

With 15,968 new coronavirus infections reported in the last 24 hours, India continues its streak of low cases, with overall tally mounting to 1,04,95,147, officials said on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, India recorded 12,584 new cases, lowest single-day figure in over seven months. Before this, the lowest number was recorded on June 18 last year, when India reported 12,881 fresh Covid cases in a day.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said 202 deaths were reported in the past 24 hours taking the death toll to 1,51,529. Since the last 19 days, less than 300 new deaths per day have been recorded in the country.

As per the Ministry data, till now, 1,01,29,111 people have recovered. Currently, there are 2,14,507 active cases. About 43.96 per cent of patients with active infection are in healthcare facilities, while the rest are in home isolation.

The recovery rate stands at 96.51 per cent while the fatality rate is 1.44 as per cent.

The total number of samples tested up to January 12 were 18,34,89,114 including 8,36,227 samples tested on Tuesday, the Indian Council of Medical Research said.

About 70 per cent of the daily new cases are reported from seven states — Kerala, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.

Meanwhile, the most-awaited mass vaccination drive is slated to begin from January 16, with approval of two vaccines. The Central government plans to vaccinate nearly three crore people in the first phase of the drive.

The vaccine will be offered to one crore healthcare workers, along with two crore frontline and essential workers, 26 crore people above the age of 50 and one crore below 50 with comorbidities.

The Union Health Ministry has said that 1.1 crore ‘Covishield’ and 55 lakh ‘Covaxin’ doses have been procured at the cost of Rs 200 and Rs 206 per dose, respectively.

Dynasty politics major cause of social corruption: PM Modi

“It is imperative for saving our democracy that you join politics. You have a great guide in Swami Vivekananda and if, with his inspiration, our youth joins politics, country will be strengthened,” Modi said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called upon the youth of the country to contribute selflessly and constructively in politics. Speaking at the valedictory function of the second National Youth Parliament Festival today, the Prime Minister remarked that politics is a big medium to bring about meaningful change and like every other field, presence of youth is critical in politics also.

The Prime Minister assured the youth that today, honest people are getting the opportunity to serve, changing the old notion of politics as a site of unscrupulous activities. Today, honesty and performance have become the need of the hour.

In this context, the Prime Minister dwelled at length on the politics of dynasty. He said corruption has become a burden on the people whose legacy was corruption. Country prefers honesty over family connections and candidates also understand that only the good work matters.

He called upon the youth to root out dynastic system. Dynasty politics gives rise to incapability and dictatorship in a democratic setup as these dynasts work towards saving the politics of their family and the family in politics.

“Today, days of winning election by the crutches of a surname are over still this malaise of dynastic politics is far from over. Political dynasty promotes self and family instead of pushing nation first. This is a major cause of social corruption in India,” the Prime Minister said.

The Prime Minister exhorted the youth to come into politics as their entry will ensure the end of dynasty politics.

“It is imperative for saving our democracy that you join politics. You have a great guide in Swami Vivekananda and if, with his inspiration, our youth joins politics, country will be strengthened,” Modi said.

SC stays implementation of farm laws, forms committee to hold talks

The decision to set up the committee is to help to solve the deadlock between the farmer unions and the government.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday has stayed the three farm laws which have led to massive protests near Delhi border. The court has said that a  committee will be set up to understand the ground situation to take over the negotiations with the farmers to end the farmers strike.

Chief Justice SA Bobde said, “We are staying three farm laws until further orders,”

The decision to set up the committee is to help to solve the deadlock between the farmer unions and the government. The bench was headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde and comprising of Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.

Chief Justice SA Bobde said, “These are matters of life and death. We are concerned with laws. We are concerned with lives and property of people affected by the agitation. We are trying to solve the problem in the best way. One of the powers we have is to suspend the legislation,”

He further added, “We want to solve the problem and that’s why we are making the committee. Give the names to us, we will decide,”

The judges told the lawyer representing the protesting farmers, ML Sharma, when he said the farmers would not participate in the committee as Prime Minister Narendra Modi had refused to talk to them.

The apex court said, “We cannot ask the PM anything, he is not a party before us,”

The top court on Monday had come down heavily on the Central government said that it was ‘extremely disappointed’ by the government’s handling of the situation.

CJI SA Bobde had said, “Each one of us we will responsible if anything goes wrong. We don’t want any injuries or blood on our hands,”

The Centre asked for more time referring to the negotiations CJI Bobde said, “We don’t see you are dealing with this issue effectively. We are taking a decision today. Who is going to be responsible for bloodshed if any?”

The protesting farmers who had been agitating against the three farm laws near Delhi border for over a month, have said that a protest march will be organised on January 26, when nation celebrates Republic Day.

The Centre in a reply to the top court said that a disruption to Republic Day parade ‘will be an embarrassment to the nation.’

The government said that the laws were not made hurriedly and were result of deliberations of two decades. Till now, their have been eight rounds of talks between the government and the farmer unions which have not resolved the issue.

The protesting farmers want the government to repeal all the three farm laws as they believe the farm laws leave them vulnerable in the hands of big cooperations.

The next meeting between the farmer union and the government is slated for Friday.