12 February 2014


  • Interim Railway budget to be presented in Lok Sabha today.
  • Sonia Gandhi named Chairperson of  Congress Campaign Committee for the General elections.
  • US ambassador Nancy Powell to meet Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in Gandhinagar tomorrow.
  • Government-Vodafone discussion on 20 thousand crore rupee tax dispute breaks down.
  • Publishing House Penguin withdraws American author Wendy Doniger's controversial book on Hinduism.
  • IPL auction begins in Bangalore today.
The interim Railway budget for 2014-15 will be presented in Parliament today. Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge will present the budget in the Lok Sabha at noon. The Minister is likely to announce more trains, better amenities and safety measures for passengers. Sources in the ministry said, it will be a growth-oriented budget. The budget among other things, is also expected to focus on electrification of more rail routes. Our correspondent reports, that in his maiden budget presentation, Mr. Kharge is likely to come out with specific measures to curb fire incidents in trains. 
The News Services Division of All India Radio will bring you a bilingual pre-rail budget live discussion from 11:45 AM today. The discussion will be followed by a live relay of the Railway Minister's speech from 11:55 AM. After the speech a live bilingual discussion will continue for 15 minutes. This can be heard on the Rajdhani, Indraprastha, all four FM Gold channels and additional frequencies.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi has been made the Chairperson of the party's 50-member Campaign Committee for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in which Rahul Gandhi will be the Co-Chairman. The party announcement last night comes less than a month after the Congress had said that the party Vice President Rahul Gandhi will lead its campaign in the upcoming general elections. The announcement was made in a statement released to the press by AICC General Secretary Janardan Dwivedi. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be a member of the committee along with several Union ministers.
US ambassador to India Nancy Powell will meet Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in Gandhinagar tomorrow. The US move marks a U-turn in its earlier stand of having nothing to do with Mr. Modi whose visa America cancelled in 2005 following the 2002 Gujarat riots. Ms Powell apparently wants to discuss with the BJP's prime ministerial candidate issues related to the upcoming Lok Sabha polls and his vision for the country. Sources said the US ambassador's request for the meeting was accepted by Mr. Modi.
The Jammu & Kashmir Assembly was adjourned for the day yesterday when the entire opposition disrupted the proceedings of the House. They were protesting against the alleged injustices in the process of creation of new administrative units in the State. More from our correspondent:
In view of yesterday’s pandemonium in J&K Legislative Assembly, it seems that government may face tough time again from the opposition parties today. The discussion on motion of thanks on Governor’s address will continue. Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly speaker has made a passionate appeal to the members of all the political parties to extend cooperation in running the proceedings of the House smoothly, so that important issues of public interest are raised and discussed in the House. Tariq Rather, AIR News, Jammu.
President Pranab Mukherjee will visit Shahpur in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh today. He will confer degrees to students of the Central University there. Our correspondent reports, that the President will arrive at the Gaggal airport near Dharamshala where the state Governor Urmila Singh and Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh will receive him. 
Central University Shahpur is ready to welcome President Pranab Mukherjee today in its second convocation. He would confer degrees to 264 students of various streams. Padam Vibhushan Dr.Vijay Kelkar, would also be given honorary degree for meritorious services. Elaborate security arrangements have been made for President’s visit and additional police force has been deployed en route to the university campus. Shishu Sharma Shantal, AIR News, Shimla.
The reconciliation talks between the government and telecom giant Vodafone have failed. The Finance Ministry has decided to withdraw its reconciliation proposal to sort out the 20,000 crore rupee tax dispute with the telecom operator and move ahead with the collection of dues. The Union Cabinet had in June last year approved a Finance Ministry proposal to go in for a conciliation process with UK based Vodafone International Holdings BV to resolve the capital gains tax dispute. Sources said, although the Finance Ministry was keen on an amicable solution to the long pending dispute, dilly-dallying by the company led to the collapse of the talks.
The Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries has denied allegations made by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal regarding the pricing of gas. In a statement issued yesterday, the company said the direction of the Delhi government to order registration of an FIR in relation to the Union Cabinet's decision to revise the price of gas is shocking. Reliance said, it will resort to available legal remedies to protect the reputation of the company and preserve the investment made by it.       
The Supreme Court has issued a notice to the Centre and Delhi government for their responses on a plea seeking imposition of a higher tax on owners of diesel-run cars in order to control air pollution. A three-judge Green bench comprising Justice AK Patnaik, SS Nijjar and FMI Kalifulla also sought replies from the Haryana, UP and Rajasthan governments in three weeks in this regard. The plea was filed by amicus curiae and senior advocate Harish Salve, who is assisting the court in pollution related matters.
Publisher Penguin India has agreed to withdraw American Indologist Wendy Doniger's book "The Hindus: An Alternative History" from the Indian market. The move follows an out-of-court settlement with Delhi-based complainants, who had moved the court alleging distortion aimed at denigrating Hindu traditions. Reacting to the development, Ms. Doniger said she is deeply troubled by what it foretells for free speech in India. Describing the decision as atrocious, Union Minister Jairam Ramesh said the book is not blasphemous. Mr. Ramesh said, the author of the book is a scholar without any political agenda.
India has asserted that the law of the land will apply with regard to the two Italian marines, facing trial for the alleged killing of two fishermen. External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin told reporters in New Delhi yesterday that the case is unique as there has been no such precedence, either in India or in Italy. He noted that India and its Italian friends have different views on the issue, with the Italian side particularly raising questions over aspects like jurisdiction and laws. Mr Akbaruddin said the final outcome should be awaited till the matter is decided by the Supreme Court.
Sushil Koirala has taken over as Prime Minister of Nepal. He was administered the oath of office and secrecy by President Ram Baran Yadav at a function in Shital Niwas yesterday.  More from our correspondent:
Mr Sushil Koirala, who assumed office as the 37th Prime Minister of Nepal has led the Nepali Congress party since 2010 , and been associated with the party since 1955. Right now, the wrangling with the main coalition partner is on, who is demanding the Home Portfolio and even within his own party, Mr Koirala will have to manage the other faction led by Sher Bahadur Deuba. Jane Namchu, AIR News, Kathmandu.
The two-day auction of Indian Premier League, IPL players gets underway in Bangalore today. A total of 514 players - 219 capped and 295 uncapped - will be part of this year's auction.  The IPL Governing Council has made some changes to the rules governing the auction, which may force the eight franchises to re-work their strategies before they prepare their priority lists. This year's auction is probably one of the biggest as all teams will look for a major revamp.                        
India's first Mars orbiter Spacecraft which was launched by ISRO's PSLV-C25 on the 5th of November last year will complete 100 days in space today. In a press release, ISRO said the health of the spacecraft is normal and is continuously monitored.

  • Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's instructions to the anti-corruption branch of his government to file FIRs on a complaint alleging a collusion between the government and Reliance Industries Limited over gas pricing gets top billing. "Kejriwal rakes up gas pricing, orders FIRs against Moily, Deora, Mukesh Ambani"" is the lead in the Indian Express.
  • The ongoing political churn over the Telangana issue gets front page attention in most papers. "Congress expels 6 MPs over Telangana, orders Andhra CM to fall in line" reports the Hindustan Times. The Asian Age says "Telangana Bill is likely to be in Lok Sabha tomorrow".
  • All the papers have taken note of Penguin India's decision to withdraw Wendy Doniger's book The Hindus: An alternative history' from India. The Statesman says, that this follows an out of court settlement with the petitioners who had claimed that the book intentionally hurt the sentiments of millions of Hindus. The Times of India reports "Academics, writers condemn withdrawal of Doniger book".
  • The likely meeting between US ambassador Nancy Powell and BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi tomorrow is keenly tracked in the press. "US ends Modi boycott, envoy to meet him" says the Tribune. The Hindustan Times writes that the Samajwadi Party has called the meeting "US interference in India's internal affairs" while the Left attributes it to "corporate pressure".
  • The death of an iconic child star who lured millions to the movies in the 1930's is reported in all the papers. "Shirley Temple, America's darling of the Depression years, dies at 85", writes the Hindustan Times.
  • And finally, the nation yesterday celebrated a very special victory. As the Asian Age puts it "3 years without a polio case, nation celebrates victory". The Hindu reports "Polio free India to get WHO certification".

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