- Cold wave claims 15 lives in Uttar Pradesh and 6 in the national Capital.
- India assures that steps will be taken to ensure safety of foreign nationals including Africans.
- Delhi Jal Board suspends 14 engineers in corruption cases.
- Syrian National Opposition Coalition decides to participate in the international conference next week to solve political crisis.
- English author Cyrus Mistry gets this year's South Asian Literature Prize.
- New Zealand were 113 for 2 in 25 overs in the first cricket ODI against India at Napier.
- Netherlands wins Hockey World League Final beating New Zealand ; India secures sixth place.
In Uttar Pradesh, biting cold coupled with intermittent rain claimed 15 lives. Cold wave, fog and rain across the state has thrown normal life out of gear. A report:
"The rain coupled with hailstorm at many places in the state has wrecked a havoc for oilseed crops in the state. It also has made life miserable for the street dwellers in the cities. The night shelters are already overcrowded and bonfires can not be lit due to continuous rains. Five persons died in Jaunpur district, three in Hamirpur, two each in Etah, Barabanki and Sitapur due to biting cold in last two days. The weatherman has predicted that the conditions will improve in next 36 hours. Merajuddin, AIR NEWS, Lucknow."
In Uttarakhand, while heavy snowfall hit the higher reaches, incessant rainfall lashed the plains. While Mussoorie, Mukteshwar, Auli and Gursaun received fresh snowfall, and places like Dehradun, Haridwar, Rishikesh and Rudrapur were hit by incessant rain. The national capital continues to reel under intense cold wave conditions. Police said, the cold wave has claimed six lives during the past two days in different parts of the city. Delhi Urban Development Minister Manish Sisodia has ordered an inquiry into these deaths and sought a detailed report. Delhi recorded a maximum temperature of 15.7 degree Celsius yesterday. The minimum temperature was 8.6 degree this morning. Met Department has predicted a clear sky today.
India has assured to take every step to ensure safety and security of foreign nationals including Africans. This came after a meeting of the External Affairs Ministry officials with the envoys from more than 20 African states yesterday on the incident involving Ugandan nationals in Delhi. The MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said that Delhi Police Commissioner is setting up single point of contact to address complaints from foreign nationals.
"They can contact in case of problems being faced by foreign nationals in India. So they did understand swiftness of the response, the concerns of the Government of India and we hope that we have been able to assuage their concerns on this cause."
Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has dismissed the media reports of harassing the African women saying the reports are misleading.
Delhi Jal Board has suspended 14 engineers against whom CBI had registered cases of alleged cheating and forgery in supply of sewerage equipment. Official sources said in new Delhi yesterday the suspensions were made following instructions by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is also the chairperson of DJB. Earlier this week, CBI has registered five cases of alleged cheating and forgery in the supply of sewerage equipment to DJB in which the eight executive engineers and six junior engineers were named along with a private company.
Both Houses of Parliament will be reconvened from February 5 to 21 as part of the extended Winter Session. An official communication said, the Rajya Sabha will meet on the 5th of next month at 11 AM. The Lok Sabha will also be reconvened from February 5 to 21 to pass the Vote-on-Account ahead of the Parliamentary elections expected to be held in April-May. Official sources said, the Vote-on-Account is likely to be taken up on the 17th of February. During the session, the government also plans to ensure passage of some anti-corruption legislations to fight graft. A total of 126 bills - 62 in Lok Sabha and 64 in Rajya Sabha - are pending at various stages.
BJP says the party is committed to rationalise and simplify the tax regime in the country. The party has also promised to revive the economy and investment. BJP said, the proposed tax reforms could not materialise due to what it called the inept handling of the issue by the UPA and failure to address concerns of states. In the Economic Resolution unanimously passed at its National Council meeting in New Delhi yesterday, the BJP said it will bring in education, judicial, administrative and tax reforms.
In Assam, two persons were killed and 5 injured when National Democratic Front of Bodoland (Sangbijit faction) fired indiscriminately in two separate incidents in Chirang and Udalguri district yesterday. Commissioner - Secretary of Home department G.D. Tripathi said that the injured were undergoing treatment at the hospitals. More from our correspondent.
"A high level meeting of all security agencies will be held in Guwahati today after the banned outfit involved in subversive activities in Lower Assam. Official sources said militants may carry out further subversive works in the run up to the Republic day. Security has been beefed up at vulnerable areas. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has instructed the state DGP to intensify operation against the militants involved in the killing of innocent people. Meanwhile, steps are being taken to hand over the bodies of 5 deceased persons in Kokrajhar firing to their family members. Police have arrested 10 persons yesterday in connection with the firing incident. Manas Pratim Sarma/AIR News/Guwahati."
Syrian National Opposition Coalition has decided to participate in the upcoming international conference on Syria. The decision was taken at a meeting of the coalition in Istanbul yesterday. Out of the 75 members present, 58 voted in favour of attending the conference, while 14 voted against the move. 44 members of the coalition withdrew in opposition and did not vote. More from our West Asia Correspondent:
"The Istanbul meet has cleared the decks to bring the Syrian regime and the rebel opposition face to face for the first time in the Swiss city of Montreaux on January 22 and then in Geneva on January 24. The rival camps would join the international peace conference on Syria convened by UN, US and Russia. The conference is aimed at finding a political solution to the crisis in Syria with the transition of power through an inclusive dialogue process. Western nations and US have insisted that there is no place for President Assad in post transition period. However Syrian regime says President Assad’s exit is non-negotiable and the focus should be on countering the threat of terrorism with jihadist groups gaining ground in Syria. Atul K Tiwary, AIR News, Dubai."
In Egypt, over 98 percent voters have given a go ahead to the new constitution in the nationwide referendum held on the 14th and 15th of this month. The Supreme Electoral Committee Chief Nabil Salib said, the voter turnout was 38.6 per cent in comparison to 32 per cent during the 2012 referendum. The Islamists led by Muslim Brotherhood boycotted the referendum.
Cyrus Mistry has been declared the winner of this year's South Asian Literature Prize. Mistry is the second Indian writer to win this 50,000 US Dollars award. Our correspondent reports that the award was announced during Jaipur Literature Festival for his book ‘Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer’.
"The 50,000 USD South Asian Literature Prize along with a unique trophy was awarded to Cyrus. His winning book mirrors the painful saga of love within the small Parsi community of corpse bearers.The six shortlisted authors in contention for this Prize were Anand,Benyamin, Cyrus Mistry,Nadeem Aslam,Nayomi Munaweera,and Mohsin Hamid . Anurag Vjpeyi AIR News Jaipur."
The 11th Mumbai marathon 2014 is being held today. Thousands of mumbaikars are participating in the event. Tight security arrangements have been put in place for the mega race.
"Amid pleasing chilly weather in the early morning hours thousands mumbaikars who run daily for their bread and butter were today seen running enthusiastically in the 11th Mumbai Maraton. The mega event reflecting the city’s spirit began today amid tight security arrangement. Apart from the 42 km long main route of marathon, 6 km long dream run from Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus to metro cinema and 21 km long half marathon are also the main attractions of the event. Many renowned international athletes, film and television celebrities and corporate heads have also participated in the event.WITH NIVEDITA DEVAPRIYO BHATTACHRAJEE AIR NEW MUMBAI."
New Zealand were 132 for 2 in 29 overs against India in the first ODI cricket match at Napier, a shortwhile ago. Earlier, Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and elected to bowl first. The two teams will play five ODIs, followed by two Tests in the series.
The Netherlands won Hockey World League Final beating New Zealand 7-2 in New Delhi. Constantijn Jonker slammed a hat-trick to help the Netherlands lift the inaugural title at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium last night. England won the bronze medal by defeating world champions Australia 2-1 in a hard-fought third-fourth place match. Belgium retained its fifth place, while India secured sixth place.
- The Hindustan Times on its front page under the headline "Sunanda death was unnatural, sudden" may have overdosed writes that cops found empty packets of anti-depressants and that she was in "self - imposed starvation," drinking only coconut water during her stay at the hotel. According to the AIIMS doctors the final autopsy report would be out in a few days.
- Poachers have killed more than two dozen migratory birds at the famous Chilka lake where the number of winged guests has dwindled in the aftermath of Cyclone Phailin in Oct last year writes the Mail Today.
- Three days after the Delhi government found itself in a stand-off with the police and in the midst of allegations that it was racist, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has said AAP was not at all embarrassed about law Minister asking the police to raid a house, late at night, on suspicion of a drug and sex racket going on there". The story has been covered by the Hindu on its front page.
- According to the Hindustan Times a study by Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture at Hyderabad has revealed that about 27% of the country's landmass has been impacted due to increase in mean surface temperature coupled with changes in rainfall pattern between 1971 and 2005.
- And finally, Dr. Chandrakant Emani is genetically engineering Tulsi or Basil to enhance its pharmaceutical value reports the Asian Age. At the Western Kentucky University, Dr Emani and his team is genetically engineering the herb to produce more eugenol, a compound in basil that could control breast cancer".