- India summons Acting High Commissioner of Pakistan in connection with suspension of trans LoC trade and bus services by Islamabad.
- Uttrakhand Assembly passes new Lokayaukata Bill.
- RBI expert panel suggests adoption of new consumer price Index for anchoring the Monetary policy.
- In Pakistan, 22 Shia pilgrims returning from Iran killed in a bomb explosion in Balochistan province.
- New Zealand were 132 for 2 in 28 overs in second one dayer against India.
India has summoned the Acting High Commissioner of Pakistan in connection with suspension of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and the Rawalakot-Poonch bus services by Pakistani authorities and delivered a strong diplomatic message. High Commissioner Mansoor Ahmed Khan was summoned by Rudrendra Tandon, Joint Secretary, in-charge of the Pakistan division, Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi yesterday.
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said in a tweet that both countries are working towards resolving the matter of stoppage of trans-LoC trade and bus services through diplomatic channels. Mr Akbaruddin said, it was surprising that Pakistan chose to hold hostage trans-border trade and bus services which bring immense humanitarian benefits across the border for the sake of saving those who indulge in the drug trade.
Meanwhile, in Jammu and Kashmir, major political parties have expressed concern over suspension of cross LoC trade and bus services due to a stand off over the arrest of a Pakistani driver for his alleged involvement in smuggling of narcotics. Pakistan suspended trade and bus services and detained 28 truck drivers from Jammu & Kashmir who had crossed the command post with their vehicles on 16th of January.
The Uttarakhand Assembly has passed a new Lokayukta Bill despite the opposition's protest. Opposition MLAs staged a walkout from the Assembly during voting on the Bill as the new Bill replaces the Uttarakhand Lokayukta Act passed by the previous BJP government headed by BC Khanduri. Our correspondent reports that the new Lokayukta Bill is in line with the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill passed by the Parliament.
According to the new Lokayukta Bill, the Lokayukta will be created in the state and headed by a practising or retired judge or Chief Justice of the High Court. The head of the Lokayukta and its members will be appointed by a five-member selection committee headed by the Chief Minister. Besides the head, there will be four members on the panel out of which 50 per cent will be from the judiciary and 50 per cent from SC/ST/OBC, minorities or women. As per provisions of the legislation, no member of a legislature of any other state or Union territory can be a member of the Lokayukta body. Sanjiv Sundariyal, AIR News, Dehradun.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called off his 2-day dharna in the heart of the national capital after Delhi Police personnel against whom he had sought action were sent on leave. Under the compromise, the SHO of Malviya Nagar and the PCR van in-charge of Paharganj have been sent on leave. The standoff drew to a close following Lt Governor Najeeb Jung's appeal to Mr Kejriwal asking him to end his agitation in view of the high significance of Republic Day and concerns of national security. Announcing the decision to end the stir, Mr Kejriwal described it a victory of the people pledging that he will continue to press for full statehood to Delhi and make the Delhi Police accountable to the city government.
Four metro stations - Patel Chowk, Central Secretariat, Udyog Bhavan and Race Course were reopened after the end of the stir last evening.
The Congress has reconstituted its team of spokespersons and television panelists in view of the next General Election. Union Ministers P Chidambaram, Salman Khurshid, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and party General Secretary Mukul Wasnik have been made senior spokespersons of the party. It has also appointed a 13-member team of spokespersons, which includes Union Ministers Shashi Tharoor and Jyotiraditya Scindia and leaders Shobha Oza and Randip Singh Surjewala. Rajya Sabha MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi is back as spokesperson while Bhakta Charan Das has been dropped. Meem Afzal, who was one of the national spokespersons of AICC media team has been accommodated in the 24-member Congress team of television panelists. Union Ministers Manish Tewari and Rajiv Shukla are also among the television panelists.
The Government will introduce the Inter-company LPG portability facility from today. This was announced by Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister M Veerappa Moily in New Delhi yesterday. Under the portability scheme, a consumer can opt for the distributor of his choice within a cluster of LPG distributors in his or her area.
The Minister also said that the Government will increase the number of subsidised LPG cylinders from nine to twelve per household soon. He said, the Cabinet is likely to consider a decision in this regard this week. Mr. Moily said, the decision will cost 4000 crore rupees and the total subsidy will go up to 50,000 crore rupees per annum.
We are now giving nine cylinders on subsidy, after our vice-president of AICC Rahul Gandhi said, nine is not enough. I have moved the cabinet to increase nine to 12. May be this week, this will be done.
Earlier, Mr Moily launched a scheme in New Delhi for sale of 5 kg LPG cylinder at market prices. These Cylinders will be made available at selected petrol pumps in the city. The costumers are required to show only an identity card to avail the service. The scheme has already been launched in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bangalore. It is beneficial for migratory population such as students, IT professionals and BPO employees.
An expert panel set up by the Reserve Bank of India has said that the central bank should adopt the new consumer price index for anchoring the monetary policy. The committee also set the inflation target at 4 per cent with a band of plus or minus two per cent around it. It also suggested that monetary policy decision making should be vested in a Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) which should be headed by the Governor.
The panel headed by RBI Deputy Governor Urjit Patel said the recommendation is intended to better ground inflation expectations by making clear that inflation is the RBI's primary objective and that it expected to be held accountable for its performance in this regard.
The panel said that consistent with the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (Amendment) Rules, 2013, the government needs to ensure that its fiscal deficit as a ratio to GDP is brought down to 3 per cent by 2016-17.
In Pakistan, at least 22 Shia pilgrims returning from Iran were killed when their bus was targeted with a bomb in the restive Balochistan province yesterday. Officials said, the blast occurred on the Pakistan-Iran highway in Dareen Garh area of Mastung district. It was followed by firing. Twenty others were injured. Security forces cordoned off the area and the injured were taken to a nearby hospital. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has claimed the responsibility for the attack on the pilgrims bus.
Earlier in the day, a noted Shia playwright was shot at and was injured by unidentified gunmen in the eastern city of Lahore.
Buses carrying Shia pilgrims have been repeatedly targeted in desolate areas of Balochistan in recent years.
The International Peace Conference on Syria gets underway at Montreux in Switzerland today. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon will chair the event. Over 40 countries and international organizations are attending the conference. Our correspondent reports that External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid is representing India at the event.
The Geneva-II peace conference is being held in the backdrop of fresh allegations of war crime against Syrian regime, row over participation of Iran and conflicting views on the agenda by the Syrian regime and the opposition. The Conference is aimed at finding a political solution to the crisis in Syria. The rebel opposition group says, a political transition should be the outcome and President Assad must not be a part of the future Syrian Regime. On the other hand the Syrian regime says that the focus should be on fighting terrorism and departure of President Assad is non negotiable. Atul Tiwary, AIR News, Montreux, Switzerland.
In Nepal, medical services continue to be disrupted as doctors have remained on strike since Sunday in support of the fasting Dr. Govind KC who has been on hunger strike since the past twelve days. Dr. Govind KC, a senior doctor of the Tribhuvan Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu, has been demanding an end to political interference in the medical sector. A report from our correspondent:
Dr Govind KC. has refused to withdraw from his ongoing hunger strike saying that he wants proper implementation of the order even after the Chairman of the Council of Ministers Khil Rraj Regmi met him last evening in hospital after issuing directives to the Tribhuvan University not to implement the order of appointing Dr. Sashi Sharma as the dean of the institute of medicine. More than 100 doctors at Tribhuvan University have signed a mass resignation letter. Jane Namchu, AIR News, Kathmandu.
New Zealand were 156 for two in 30.5 overs against India in second one dayer in Hamilton, a shortwhile ago. Earlier, India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and elected to bowl first.
India have decided to field an unchanged side for this match while experienced seamer Kyle Mills has been drafted into the New Zealand XI in place of pacer Adam Milne.
New Zealand have taken one-nil lead in the five match one day cricket series.
- Most papers have photographs of the two-day AAP dharna in Delhi - of milling crowds and CM Arvind Kejriwal leaving in his car after calling off his agitation. "Defused, until the next time" - says the Indian Express.
- The Pioneer reports that the Congress remains in two minds about pulling out of the AAP government in Delhi. While a section of the party favours immediate withdrawal, another section has opposed such a move till at least the Lok Sabha elections.
- Another major story is of the Apex Court ruling that the death penalty of a convict can be commuted to life imprisonment due to delays by government in taking a decision on mercy petitions or due to mental illness. The Supreme Court yesterday commuted to life imprisonment the death penalty for 15 condemned prisoners languishing in jails for several years including four convicted from Veerappan's band, writes the Asian Age.
- The Hindu reports that the IMF is slightly more optimistic this year about the global and US economies. It forecasts that the world economy will grow 3.7% in 2014 & the US economy by 2.8% while India is likely to post a 4.6 percent growth during the current fiscal.
- "Airfares down 50% if you book now". Hindustan Times writes that most domestic carriers have cut fares by more than half, in an attempt to fill seats during the lean season.
- Mail Today tells us that unaided private schools in Delhi have moved the Supreme Court over nursery admission after their plea was dismissed by the High Court seeking a stay on nursery admission guidelines issued by Delhi Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung.
- And finally, Times of India warns us that working night shifts causes "chaos" in the DNA of a person's body & may result in long term health problems on account of disruption of the natural body clock, according to scientists of the University of Surrey in the UK.