24 January 2014


  • Aam Aadmi Party rules out any action against Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti.
  • Finance Ministry approves one thousand rupees minimum monthly pension plan for workers in the organised sector.
  • Country's growth story intact, reiterate Indian leaders at the World Economic Forum meet in Davos.
  • South Sudan Government and rebels sign ceasefire agreement to end fighting within 24 hours.
  • World Number 1 Rafael Nadal to clash with Roger Federer for a place in Men's Singles final; Sania Mirza to play in the Mixed Doubles Semi final today.
The Aam Aadmi Party, AAP has ruled out any action against Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti for allegedly leading a group to carry out a mid-night raid in the Malviya Nagar area of the national capital last week. A decision in this regard was taken in the Political Affairs Committee meeting of the Party held in New Delhi yesterday.
Senior Party leader Yogendra Yadav told reporters after the meeting that there is no evidence of racism against Bharti in this incident, in which Ugandan women were allegedly abused. However, Yadav said, if Bharti is found guilty in an inquiry ordered by the Lieutenant Governor, the party will take appropriate action.
We should wait for the judicial inquiry to be over. If Somnath Bharti is found guilty, the party will certainly take action against him. The party regrets the remarks made by Bharti against Mr. Arun Jaitley and Harish Salve.
Meanwhile, a city court has directed the Delhi police to file a report on the raid by tomorrow. This follows filing of a plea by another African woman seeking registration of an FIR in this regard.
On the other hand, Senior Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed has said the party is considering to hold a referendum on whether it should continue its support to Aam Aadmi Party government or not.
We are assessing the situation. Our party leaders are of the opinion of getting referendum done on whether to continue extending support to AAP or not. We will think about it. No final decision has been taken yet.
The Supreme Court will today hear the two PILs seeking action against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Law Minister Somnath Bharti, who led a two-day sit-in protest in the national capital earlier this week. A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice P. Sathasivam, will hear the PILs. The petitioners said that the Chief Minister action of holding a protest while also occupying constitutional posts was in violation of the law. They said, the Ministers' oath mandates them to uphold the rule of law, and not disrupt law and order.
The Finance Ministry has approved a proposal for providing a minimum monthly pension of 1,000 rupees to the workers of the organised sector, under the Employees' Pension Scheme. This would benefit around 27 lakh people. Pensioners are expected to get benefit with effect from April 1 this year. The government will provide additional contribution of over 1,200 crore rupees to ensure the minimum monthly pension.
A government official said that the proposal has been cleared. Union Labour Minister Oscar Fernandes is, however, yet to decide whether it is to be taken to the Cabinet for approval. At present, subscribers get 500 rupees per month, despite working for 30 years. The Finance Ministry has also approved a proposal for raising the basic wage ceiling under the Employees Provident Fund Scheme from the existing 6,500 rupees to 15,000 rupees per month.
The government has allowed free medical visas for the Maldivian nationals for 90 days. Official sources said, there was a demand for medical visa rules relaxation from the Maldives. The restriction on 60-days' gap between two entries has also been lifted.
Tourism Minister K Chiranjeevi had met Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde over proposals seeking health check up facility on tourist visas and granting of longer duration and multiple entry facilities for medical visas.
Indian leaders have reiterated that the country's growth story remains intact. On the second day of the World Economic Forum meet in Davos, where nearly 125 business and political leaders from India are participating, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma endorsed the country's growth story. Mr Sharma said various measures initiated by the government to implement reforms and fast track the decision-making process and clearances to projects have helped build the confidence of Global investors in Indian Economy.
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said that India’s GDP is set to grow and in the coming year it would be over 6 per cent. He expressed the hope that over the next few years the country may expect a growth rate over 8 per cent following the measures initiated by the Government. The second day of the meet also witnessed deliberations revolving around the Middle East and climate change, among others.
The United States has termed its partnership with India as broad and strong. Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Heather Higginbottom said this in her address at a reception organised by the Indian Ambassador to the US, S.Jaishankar. Bringing the message of US President Barack Obama, Higginbottom said that India and US have a broad range of joint efforts and shared interests that keep propelling the two countries forward. Greeting Indians ahead of the Republic Day, she said India's Republic Day reminds of the strength of India's democratic institutions and traditions.
The South Sudan government and the rebels have signed a ceasefire agreement. Under the deal, signed in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, the fighting is due to come to an end within 24 hours. In the past week, government forces recaptured the two main cities under rebel control. More than 500,000 people have been forced from their homes during the month-long conflict.
The Syrian regime and the rebel opposition coalition of Syria will hold direct talks, mediated by the UN Special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, in Geneva today. Ahead of the talks, the Syrian Opposition Coalition Chief Ahmed Jaraba told a press conference that they are in Geneva for a dialogue to pave the way for a transitional governing body with full executive powers. He said that President Assad won’t have any place in it. The Syrian regime, on the other hand, said that the focus of Geneva talks should be on curbing the extremist elements. The Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al Moallem dismissed any idea of the exit of President Assad. 
Its shuttle diplomacy time for the UN Special envoy on Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi in Geneva. Ahead of the talks, he met Syrian rebel opposition and then the Syrian regime representatives separately to assess how prepared they are for the negotiations. He also met the US, Russian and British officials. Yet , it is not clear if the two sides would meet in the same room or separately and how long the talks would continue. Analysts say it could be a two stage process where in the first stage , the two sides can walk the talk on practical issues such as prisoner’s swap, access to aid and local ceasefire. In the second stage they can talks about the political transition process. Atul Tiwary, AIR News, Geneva.
Today is National Girl Child Day. This day is observed every year to raise awareness and consciousness towards the girl child. The aim is to ensure that every girl is respected, valued and treated equally in society. On this day, the Women and Child Development Ministry takes up a multi-pronged approach for addressing as well as working towards diminishing the child sex ratio in India.
The Government of India in 2008 had declared January 24 of every year to be celebrated as the 'National Girl Child Day'. The objective of this day is to work towards ensuring that girls are born, loved and nurtured so that they grow up to become empowered citizens of this country with equal rights and opportunities. The Ministry of Women and Child Development is organizing several programmes to celebrate the National Girl Child Day. As part of the activities being undertaken to mark this day a nation wide slogan writing competition amongst High School children in the age group of 14 to 18 years is being organized by the National Mission for Empowerment of Women. With Vasundhra, this is Mercy for AIR News.
Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, the only all-weather road connecting Kashmir with the rest of the country, was opened for vehicular traffic today. The highway was closed for the past two days, following snowfall in the Kashmir Valley.
World Number One Rafael Nadal of Spain will today lock horns with Swiss Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the Australian Open Tennis tournament at Melbourne. Nadal and Federer have played 32 matches against each other so far, with the Spaniard winning 22 times. The winner of today's match will meet Stanislas Wawrinka in the finals. In the Mixed Doubles, Sania Mirza and her Romanian team-mate Horia Tecau will play in the semi-finals today.
Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu are among the Indian shuttlers who will play in the quarterfinals of the India Grand Prix Gold Badminton tournament in Lucknow today. In the Women's Singles, while top seed and World Number 9, Saina will take on Bellaetrix Manuputty of Indonesia, Sindhu will clash with another Indonesian Hera Desi. 
  • A late night PAC meeting of Aam Aadmi Party gave law minister Somnath Bharti a clean chit despite growing resistance from the Congress and BJP. Chief Minister sent a clear signal that he is going to stand by his cabinet colleague by remaining tight-lipped on the issue, writes The Mail Today.
  • The Statesman on its front page writes that in a significant development the probe into the mysterious death of Sunanda Pushkar was transferred to the Crime Branch of Delhi Police, reflecting the complexities involved in the high - profile case.
  • The front page of the Tribune reads that the US military has eased its uniform rules giving troops greater freedom to wear turbans, head scarves and other religious clothing, a policy that would mainly affect Sikhs, Muslims, Jews and members of other groups that wear such things as part of their religion.
  • The Hindu on its front page writes that Punjab's winter Kabaddi tournaments have become the first casualty of the ongoing investigation into a multi - crore drug racket that has also singed top politicians across the state. It is alleged that Kabaddi tournament were used as a platform to smuggle synthetic drugs.
  • According to the Pioneer, Pope Francis has described Internet as a "gift from God" and called on Catholics the world over to "boldly become citizens of the digital world.
  • Meanwhile, Princeton University researchers have predicted that Facebook that spread like an infectious disease, is slowly becoming immune to the people and the platform will be largely abandoned by 2017, reports theHindustan Times.
  • The Centre's suggestion to construct underpass and flyovers for safe passage of elephants to reduce deaths on rail tracks evoked the Supreme Court's derisive comment - why not put up a road sign to inform the pachyderms to use these as safe paths. Pun apart, the court asked the Centre to study the safety module of other states and submit their suggestions, reports the Times of India.

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