14 January 2014


1400 HRS.
14 January, 2014
  • Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi says he is ready to take up any responsibility given by the party.
  • BJP demands resignation of Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharati for his indictment in a corruption case.
  • Average life expectancy increases by five years in the country since 2004.
  • Washington wishes to get back to business with New Delhi and take bilateral ties forward.
  • Roger Federer moves into the second round of Australian Open.
Amid speculations that Rahul Gandhi would be declared Congress party's Prime Ministerial candidate for 2014 elections, Congress Vice president has said that he is ready to take any responsibility if the party decides so. Speaking to a leading daily, Rahul said he would do whatever the party wants him to do. He expressed hope that Congress party will do well in the next General Elections and his party's return to power will hold good for the nation.
On Priyanka Gandhi's role in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, Congress Vice - President said Priyanka is an active member of Congress party. She is campaigning to strengthen the organisation but there will not be any election related role for her. Asked about learning from the Aam Aadmi Party, Rahul Gandhi said that he does not agree with some of their policies and added that his party's decisions are pro-people for the longer term. On asking the youth to join politics, Rahul Gandhi said it was this dream of his that he joined politics. He added that the party wants to provide a platform for the youth to hone their skills. Rahul also categorically rubbished reports that Congress is fast losing its allies.
On imminent naming of Rahul Gandhi as Congress' Prime Ministerial candidate, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari has said that Mr Gandhi is the natural leader of the party. Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a function in New Delhi today, Mr. Tewari said the party leaders and workers want to fight the elections under Rahul Gandhi's leadership. Mr. Tewari  termed as unwarranted and uncalled for the blacking out of some channels in Uttar Pradesh. Mr Tewari said, the development does not augur well for democracy.
Never ever in the last 10 years has the UPA Government tried to resort to a tactics which could impinge upon the freedom of speech and expression. This has been our DNA that we have safeguarded, preserved and protected this very fundamental right with all the force at our command.
Mr. Tewari said if the management of the concerned channels file complaints against the local cable operators, the Ministry will take action against the guilty. Replying to a query on former Home Secretary R K Singh accusing Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde of shielding fugitive don Dawood Ibrahim's associate, Mr Tewari said it is unfortunate that Mr Singh is making such comments after his retirement.
It is extremely unfortunate. You have this very pernicious tendency of bureaucrats, after retirement, then trying to make allegations in order to occupy the media space. If Mr RK Singh or anybody else was really so concerned, why did he not put on record while he was in service.
To another query on allegations of corruption against Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharati, Mr Tewari said it needs to be seen whether the Aam Aadmi Party walks the talk in the case as it has set high standards of public morality and discourse.   
Congress General Secretary Ambika Soni today said Rahul Gandhi’s candidature for the post of Prime Minister will be backed by the party. Ms. Soni told media in New Delhi that Gandhi has said time and again that he will carry out any responsibility given by the party. BJP has said that Rahul Gandhi is going to be declared as Congress PM candidate because he belongs to a special  family. Senior party leader, Ravi Shankar Prasad claimed while talking to reporters that a person of a humble origin can rise up the ranks and be named as the party's PM candidate only in the BJP.
The average life expectancy of people in the country has increased by 5 years since 2004 due to consistent investments in public health sector by the government. The Prime Minister's Office in a tweet said that life expectancy has gone up from 63.9 years in 2004 to 69.6 years in 2014. It said with health interventions during pregnancy and at birth, Infant Mortality Rate has also come down from 58 per 1000 live births in 2004 to 44 in 2011. The PMO said that absence of new endemic polio cases for the last three years is an achievement for India that has been hailed at international forums.
The BJP has  demanded resignation of Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharati for his indictment in a corruption case. Reports say he  is under the scanner for tampering with evidence.  This has emerged from an order passed by then CBI Special Judge Poonam A Bamba in August last year. The lawyer turned politician Mr Bharti and his client were fighting a corruption case in a CBI court in Delhi when the judge said their conduct is not only highly objectionable and unethical, but also amounts to tampering with evidence.
Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has defended Bharti on the allegation of influencing  a witness and tamper with evidence in a case he handled last year. Talking to reporters in New Delhi, Kejriwal said that  this was a bank fraud case and no evidence was tampered. He said that he is ready to share the evidence found during the sting operation against the bank.
Washington has voiced hope that the crisis with India over the arrest of a senior Indian diplomat last month would come to a closure. It expressed the wish to get back to business and take bilateral ties forward. State Department Deputy Spokesperson, Marie Harf, told reporters in Washington that this has been a challenging time in the US-India relationship and we want to put this behind and want to get back to business with both sides working together.
Meanwhile, Acting Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, Rose E Gottemoeller, met Indian Ambassador to the US, S Jaishankar, at the State Department to discuss bilateral cooperation. India-US relations plunged after the arrest of the senior Indian diplomat, Devyani Khobragade, in New York on charges of visa fraud and misrepresentation of facts.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari today said leveraging the potential of FM radio is important to expand its coverage. Speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the 20th International Conference and Exhibition on Terrestrial and Satellite Broadcasting in New Delhi today, Mr. Tewari said the Ministry is trying to push aggressively community radio stations as they are the only source of information at the ground level, especially during natural disasters.
Secretary, Information and Broadcasting Ministry Bimal Julka said digitisation offers opportunities to Medium, Small and Micro sector as 140 million set top boxes are required in the forthcoming phases of process. Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar stressed on the need for setting up FM towers in each AIR radio station in the country.
17-times grand slam champion Roger Federer moved into the second round of the Australian Open in Melbourne today. The Swiss trounced the local wildcard James Duckworth 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.
Milad-un-nabi, the birthday of prophet Muhammad is being celebrated with devotion and gaiety today. In Jammu & Kashmir, amid chilling cold, processions and prayers marked the Milad celebrations. Our Srinagar correspondent has filed this report:
Bearing the chilly weather, thousands of devotees thronged Hazratbal shrine in Srinagar and participated in night long special prayers. In the morning they had a glimpse of holy relic of the Prophet. Shrines, Mosques and homes have been illuminated. Besides processions, symposiums are being held on life and teachings of Holy Prophet. M.A Tantray, AIR News, Srinagar.
Milad-un-Nabi, the birth anniversary of the Prophet Mohammad is being celebrated with gaiety and fervour in Hyderabad and other parts of Andhra Pradesh. Meetings, rallies, discourses, free distribution of food among poor, blood donation camps are being held to mark the occasion in Hyderabad and Secunderabad twin cities. Special prayers were held this morning in mosques and public places which are tastefully decorated. A mammoth rally has taken out from the historic Mecca Masjid to highlight the preaching of the Prophet.
Makar Sankranti is being celebrated with joy and religious devotion. In Rajasthan, thousands of people were present at Holy Pushkar Sarovar and different other religious places in the state this morning. Our Jaipur correspondent reports that sky of Jaipur is full of kites and people are enjoying this festival.
"Today thousands of people are on their roofs in Pink city. Clear sky is full of colour full kites since morning. Before starting kite flying people performed religious rituals in temples. Tourism Department has organized kite festival at Jal Mahal where not only local people but foreign tourists are also enjoying kite flying. This year the state government has banned kite flying in morning and evening hours in Jaipur to save birds. Many NGOs and bird lovers are also active and 3 mobile poly clinics have been established for treatment of wounded birds in Jaipur. To avoid electricity fault the govt. has banned Chinese metal mixed kite thread also .Anurag Vajpeyi AIR News Jaipur."
In Uttar Pradesh also Makar Sankranti is being celebrated today. It will also be celebrated tomorrow in several parts of the state as priests and astrologers have announced that the sun is entering the Makar Rashi this night, so the festival of Khichri will be celebrated the next morning. More from our correspondent:
Bathing at different Ghats on the bank of Sangam is going on peaceful on the auspicious occasion of Makar Sankranti. Mela administration has said that above 5 lakhs pilgrims have already taken holy dip till noon and devotees from different parts of the country are continuously reaching at bathing Ghats. Makar Sankranti is also called KICHRI in the state and having bath in holy rivers and Sangam on this day is regarded as most important. District Magistrate has said that about 75 lakhs pilgrims will take holy dip at Sangam in two days of bathing. Sunil Shukla, AIR News Allahabad.
In Tamil Nadu, Pongal the harvest festival is being celebrated with traditional gaiety and grandeur today. The whole State especially the rural areas wear a festive look . More from our correspondent:
The first day of Thai month is celebrated as Pongal by Tamils all over the world today. Women in traditional sarees made Pongal dish with rice, sugar and jaggery. As the new earthen pot boiled over with Pongal in fresh rice facing the Sun God, family members joined together to chant Pongalo Pongal. People from urban areas go back to their roots in villages and celebrate Pongal with their relatives. Women made colourful kolams in front of the house. House entrances are decorated with kula flowes, turmeric and sugarcane. Farmers paid their gratitude to Mother Nature for good harvest. K DEVI PADMANABHAN, AIR NEWS, TIRUCHIRAPALLI.
In Assam, the Bhogali bihu is being celebrated across the state with traditional fervor and gaiety. A report:
The Bhogali Bihu celebration began this morning with the burning of traditional Meji and Bhelaghar made of thatch and fire woods amidst chanting of prayers to the God Agni. A host of cultural programmes and traditional sports are being organized to mark the festival. The Buffalo fight will be held in Morigaon, Nagaon along with Rang ghar premise in Sivsagar. Thousands throng to Haigrib Madhab mandir at Hajo to witness Bulbul birds fight. Delicious traditional delicacies have been prepared at almost every household. People also greeted each other on this occasion. Manas Pratim Sarma/AIR News/Guwahati."
Makar Sankranti and Pongal are being celebrated by the expatriate Indian community in Dubai and other parts of the West Asia region.
Remaining weak in afternoon trade, the Sensex at the Bombay Stock Exchange stood 84 points, in negative territory, at 21,050 a short while ago.
The arrival of winged visitors to Chilika Lake in Odisha has dropped this season. Ornithologists said over 1.5 lakh fewer migratory birds were sighted than the previous season. They said the number of birds had perhaps dwindled due to the effect of cyclone Phailin. Chilika Lake is the biggest waterfowl habitat in the country.
In Himachal Pradesh, nearly one lakh migratory birds have reached the manmade Maharana Pratap Sagar Lake or Pong Dam. The dam is located in Nagrota Surian sub division of Kangra district. Our correspondent reports that these birds come every year to this lake in the month of October and continue to come here till February from Siberia and other countries.
Centre has asked all tiger range states to take precautionary measures to protect the big cats. In an urgent advisory, the National Tiger Conservation Authority, NTCA said that the country's wild tiger population is under threat from Canine Distemper Virus and asked the states to deal it as a top most priority. It asked chief wildlife wardens of all tiger range states to launch a special drive in collaboration with the state veterinary departments for sensitizing field officials of tiger reserves.

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