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News Capsule: 57 % voter turnout in DDC polls, Pankaj Mithal new CJ of J&K + More Top News

  1. DDC Polls: Phase-7 registers record voter turnout in J&K at 57 percent: SEC K K Sharma

Jammu: State Election Commissioner (SEC) K K Sharma Wednesday said that phase-7 of District Development Council (DDC) polls held today recorded a massive turn out at 57 percent.

“It was a day of massive turn out. It’s a matter of satisfaction,” Sharma said. “J&K today recorded 57. 22 percent voting which is the highest since the beginning of DDC polls.”

In Kashmir, the highest polling percentage was recorded at Bandipora at 70.47 percent and in Jammu, Poonch recorded the highest voting turnout at 80.12 percent voting.

He said that Kashmir witnessed 39.2 percent voting while in Jammu, total voting percentage remained at 71.93 percent, which is highest so far in the seven phases.

He said that in total, 394,200 voters participated in the voting exercise. “It is a matter of satisfaction that a lot of eligible electors came out to cast their votes,” Sharma said.

“The Kashmir Division recorded 39.52 percent average voter turnout with Bandipora district recording the highest polling at 70.47 percent followed by Baramulla with 59.53% and Kupwara district recorded 59.23 percent polling,” he said.

Giving district wise details, the SEC informed that in Kashmir Division the polling percentage recorded in Budgam was 45.11 percent, Ganderbal 53.69 percent, Anantnag 22.46, Kulgam 17.98 percent, Pulwama 11.06 percent and 6.55 percent polling was registered in Shopian.

“Similarly, in Jammu division poll percentage of 74.38 percent was recorded in Samba, 72.85 in Kathua, 67.75 percent in Ramban, 73.10 percent in Rajouri, 69.89 per cent in Kishtwar and 68.66 percent in Jammu district,” Sharma said. He further said that 393200 (210479 male and 182721 female votes) people exercised their right to franchise for the seventh phase across the Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory.

Because of the huge polling, there were lot of activities all around, the SEC said. “Our sector magistrate and observers took note of small complaints and in two cases inquiries have been ordered. If there would be a need to go for re-poll, we will be doing that once the inquiry is completed,” he said. In Poonch, at a polling station located at Galian, where a masked man was seen allegedly tampering with the ballot, about which a video is viral on social media. “An inquiry has been ordered and investigations are going on,” he said.

The SEC said that there was law and order issue reported during the polling anywhere in J&K and the day passed off peacefully

  • Pankaj Mithal new Chief Justice of J&K High Court   

New Delhi: In a major reshuffle, the Supreme Court collegium has recommended to the Centre the transfer of four Chief Justices (CJs) of high courts including Andhra Pradesh High Court’s Chief Justice J K Maheshwari to the Sikkim High Court, weeks after chief minister Jagan Mohan Reddy had complained to the CJI about the state’s top judiciary.

In an unprecedented move, the Andhra Pradesh chief minister, on October 6, had written to Chief Justice of India (CJI) S A Bobde alleging that the state High Court was being used to “destabilise and topple his democratically elected government.

The collegium headed by the CJI, in its meeting held on December 14, also recommended elevation of five high court judges as Chief Justices of different High Courts including Justice Dr S Muralidhar whose notification transferring him to Punjab and Haryana High Court close to mid night of February 26 had created a huge controversy.

Justice Muralidhar has been recommended to be elevated as Chief Justice of Orissa High Court.

Justice Muralidhar’s transfer from Delhi High Court to Punjab and Haryana High Court was notified on the day a bench headed by him had pulled up Delhi Police for failing to register FIRs against three BJP leaders for their alleged hate speeches which purportedly led to the recent violence in northeast Delhi.

The collegium had in a meeting on February 12 recommended the transfer of Justice Muralidhar to Punjab and Haryana High Court.

As per recent collegium’s recommendations posted on apex court’s website, the collegium, besides recommending transfer of Chief Justice Maheshwari to Sikkim HC, has also recommended the transfer of Sikkim High Court Chief Justice A K Goswami to the Andhra Pradesh HC.

It has approved the proposal to transfer Telangana HC Chief Justice R S Chauhan as Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court while Orissa High Court Chief Justice Mohammed Rafiq has been sent to Madhya Pradesh High Court.

Besides them, the Collegium has also recommended transfer of Justice Sanjay Yadav from Madhya Pradesh High Court to Allahabad HC, while Justice Vineet Kothari has been sent to Gujarat HC from Madras HC.

Justice Rajesh Bindal has been transferred from Jammu and Kashmir High Court to Calcutta HC, it said, adding that Justice Joymalya Bagchi has been sent to Andhra Pradesh HC from Calcutta and Justice Satish Chandra Sharma has been sent from Madhya Pradesh HC to Karnataka HC.

Besides Justice Muralidhar , the collegium has also approved the elevation of four judges as Chief Justices of different High Courts.

According to the apex court website, the Collegium, in its meeting held on December 14, has also approved the proposal to elevate Delhi HC judge Justice Hima Kohli as Chief Justice of Telangana High Court, Calcutta HC judge Justice Sanjib Banerjee as Chief Justice of Madras High Court.

Besides them, the Collegium has also okayed the proposal to elevate Allahabad HC judge Pankaj Mithal as Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand HC judge Sudhanshu Dhulia as Gauhati HC Chief Justice.

Apart from CJI Bobde, Justices N V Ramana, R F Nariman, U U Lalit and A M Khanwilkar are part of the 5-judge Collegium.

  • Suspected militant arrested

Srinagar: Security forces arrested a suspected militant and recovered arms and ammunition in south Kashmir district of Pulwama, official sources said on Wednesday.

Security forces intercepted a three-wheeler at Malikpora, Pulwama on Tuesday night. During search, the forces recovered one AK 7 rifle and magazine, they said. The driver identified as MudasirAhmad was arrested.

Further investigation has been initiated.

  • J&K launches portal for online registrations for certified pharmacists
  • Jammu: The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Wednesday launched a portal for online registration of certified pharmacists.

As many as three candidates who had uploaded their documents on the portal were handed over certificates as Registered Pharmacist by Financial Commissioner, Health and Medical Education Department, Atal Dulloo, an official spokesman said.

The Financial Commissioner, while appreciating functioning of Pharmacy Council of Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir, expressed hope that all stakeholders will get immensely benefitted by this initiative.

Dulloo, who led the department during the coronavirus outbreak, said that pharmacists play a pivotal role in the healthcare system and their contribution is critical towards mitigating sufferings of ailing masses.

He expressed hope that the Pharmacy Council shall strive hard to ensure that the practice and profession of Pharmacy in the Union Territory of J&K is regulated in an efficient manner and this body continues to uphold the sanctity of moral ethics, code and conduct among Pharmacy professionals.

He appreciated the Jammu & Kashmir Pharmacy Council for eliminating physical interface in various services offered by it.

He said that a transparent, accountable and time-bound system is always required to address the problems being faced by candidates aspiring to acquire grant and renewal of their Pharmacist Registration certificates.

Dulloo said in the past applicants had to run from pillar to post to get their bonafide claims settled.

He also lauded the central government for considering a one-time exemption of considering all those Registered Pharmacists who were registered under the repealed State Law, i.e J&K Pharmacy Act, Samvat, 2011 (1955 A.D) by incorporating a provision 32C in the Pharmacy Act, 1948.

Dulloo said that the candidates pursuing profession and practice of Pharmacy in the UT of J&K have been enabled and motivated to join the national main stream in all aspects governing the field.

  •  COVID-19: J&K’s tally rises to 1,16,922 with 332 fresh cases
New Delhi, Aug 02 (ANI): A health worker in personal protective equipment (PPE) collects a nasal sample from a Delhi Police Constable at a local health centre to conduct tests for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), amid the spread of the disease, in New Delhi on Sunday. (ANI Photo)

Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir recorded 332 fresh COVID-19 infections on Wednesday which took the union territory’s caseload to 1,16,922, while five more fatalities pushed the death toll to 1,817, officials said.

Of the fresh cases, 151 were reported from the Kashmir division and 181 from the Jammu division, they said.

Jammu district recorded the highest number of fresh cases at 96, followed by 53 in Srinagar district, according to the officials.

The number of active cases dropped to 4,346 in the union territory as 415 patients recovered from the infection. So far, 1,10,769 patients have recovered, the officials said.

Jammu and Kashmir also reported five more COVID-19 deaths the previous day, four from Jammu and one from the Kashmir region, they said.

With these, the death toll due to the pandemic stands at 1,817, they said.

  • J&K LG reviews implementation of Prime Minister’s Development Package

Jammu: During a meeting, the LG sought a comprehensive report of the sector-wise implementation of 54 projects sanctioned under PMDP with an outlay of Rs 58,627 crores and reviewed the Financial and Physical progress achieved so far.

Secretary Disaster Management Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction gave a PowerPoint presentation and informed the Chair about the present status of PMDP projects of various departments and iconic projects including Health, Education, Tourism, Horticulture, sports, Jal Shakti, PWD, and Housing and Urban Development.

The LG was apprised about various major projects including upgrading of Uri-Poonch road, Srinagar-Leh road via Kargil, special repair of roads and bridges, projects proposed under construction of semi-ring roads in Jammu and Srinagar, AIIMS at Jammu/Kashmir, construction of IIM Jammu and IIT Jammu.

Secretary DMRRR informed that 11 projects have been completed and nine are substantially completed where as 34 projects are at different stages of execution out of which 19 shall be completed by ending 2021.

The Lt Governor asked the officers concerned to incorporate every detail of the projects, including date of sanction, date of start of work, present status and targeted data of completion for effective monitoring.

  •  DDC polls have heralded new chapter in history of democracy: Jitendra Singh

Jammu: Union minister Jitendra Singh on Wednesday said the District Development Council (DDC) elections happening for the first time in Jammu and Kashmir have heralded a new chapter in the history of democracy.

He said that these polls have also exposed the unique inner contradictions afflicting the opposition parties in Jammu and Kashmir as most of the candidates fielded by the opposition parties are avoiding using pictures of their leaders on posters and are also displaying their party symbol very discreetly and selectively.

Addressing a public meeting in the far-flung remote area of Rajgarh under Ramban district where the BJP is facing a contest both from the Congress as well as the NC, the minister said the most interesting feature is that Congress candidates are not inclined to invite their central leaders like Rahul Gandhi or the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president to campaign for them because of apprehension that this might antagonise the voters.

“Similarly, National Conference candidates do not want to invite their top leaders like Farooq Abdullah or Omar Abudullah to campaign for them because of the fear that by doing so they may rather lose some votes instead of adding,” the minister of State for Personnel said.

Referring to development in Jammu and Kashmir in the last six years, he said before 2014 there was no proper road connectivity to Rajgarh and many a times he had to go back because of a sudden landslide midway.

“However, in the last four years there has been an upgradation of road along with blacktopping and Rajgarh is not only connected with Ramban but also connected with Kastigarh by road,” Singh said.

In the education sector, he said that this region has been given three degree colleges in the last four years.

He accused the earlier public representatives of deliberately obstructing development as well as wider exposure of the people living in the remote areas so that they could continue their own hegemony and dominance.

  • Border dwellers vote for better road connectivity to Samba hamlets

Samba: Braving thick fog and extreme morning chill, Geeta Kumari and her husband walked to the polling booth in Samba district on Wednesday to cast their votes in the hope that the elected candidate would meet their long-standing demand of road connectivity to their small village in Jammu and Kashmir’s border area.

Not just Kumari, most villagers in Sumb Dunai and nearby hamlets who have voted in the DDC polls expect the government, and lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha in particular, to ensure road connectivity in the border district of Samba at the earliest.

“Today I voted in the DDC elections. Whichever candidate is elected in these polls from our constituency, we have one hope that he will ensure best road connectivity to our hamlet,” Kumari said.

She said she has never seen metalled roads since she started living in this hamlet after getting married 12 years ago.

“Our major problem is (lack of) metalled road connectivity. The connectivity is very bad, through stones and nallahs. Since the time I was married in this village 12 years ago, there has been no work done by the government to build metalled road connectivity,” she said.

According to the villagers, money was allocated for the construction of the road during the BJP’s rule and some work to build roads started a few years ago, but it was later abandoned.

Usha Devi, another resident of the small village, said mini buses undertake journeys to ferry villagers through the muddy and stone-laid road through nallahs, which takes between one and a half and two hours to reach the nearby villages instead of just 45 minutes if there were better roads.

“The transporters refuse to send more vehicles to ferry passengers in view of the bad road conditions resulting in overloading which causes problems to us, particularly girls and boys going for studies in towns,” she said.

Rajinder Kumar of Patyari village said once better road connectivity is put in place it will be the biggest development to several unconnected villages in Sumb block.

The villagers said they feel development of the village can only take place once there is metalled road connectivity to their hamlets.

They said that despite the “much hyped” village development programmes, better road connectivity is still a dream for them.

The District Development Council (DDC) elections, the first major political activity in Jammu and Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5 last year, are being held in eight phases from November 28 to December 22.

  • Army celebrates Vijay Diwas in J&K

Jammu: The Army on Wednesday celebrated Vijay Diwas in Jammu and Kashmir and paid homage to soldiers who laid down their lives in the 1971 India-Pakistan war, a Northern Command spokesperson said.

A large number of Army personnel and ex-servicemen participated in the celebrations held at the Northern Command headquarters in Udhampur, he said.

Lt Gen Y K Joshi, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command laid a wreath at Dhruva Shahid Smarak to commemorate the occasion, according to the spokesperson.

“While remembering all the bravehearts who laid down their lives for the nation, all ranks of the Northern Command reaffirmed their steadfast and lifelong commitment to their families,” the spokesperson said.

“Their indomitable courage, unflagging zeal and dogged determination shall always be a great source of inspiration for all ranks of the Indian Army,” he said.

India celebrates December 16 as Vijay Diwas to commemorate its victory over Pakistan during the 1971 war that led to the creation of Bangladesh.

“The swift and professionally planned operations executed by the Indian armed forces led to one of the greatest military victories recorded in the annals of world history,” the spokesperson said.

“This historic victory signifies a unique and unparalleled feat wherein our forces fought selflessly for a just and noble cause of liberation of the people of erstwhile East Pakistan and the creation of a sovereign and independent Bangladesh,” he added.

On this day in 1971, 93,000 Pakistani soldiers had surrendered before the Indian Army.

Vijay Diwas was also commemorated at Nagrota Garrison.

“White Knight Corps Commander Lt Gen M V Suchindra Kumar laid a wreath at Ashwamedh Shaurya Sthal War Memorial to honour the valiant martyrs of Army,” a defence spokesperson said.

Officers and jawans of White Knight Corps also paid homage to the soldiers who fought in the war, he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Lt Gen Kumar exhorted the troops of White Knight Corps to be “ever-ready” to face any challenges with grit, determination and valour and emerge victorious.

In a separate function held at the headquarters of Tiger Division, General Officer Commanding Maj Gen Vijay B Nair led the division in paying tributes to the soldiers who laid down their lives in the 1971 war.

Maj Gen Nair also exhorted all ranks to maintain a high standard of preparedness to face any challenge, the spokesperson said.

10 J&K LG pays tributes to 1971 war brave hearts on Vijay Diwas

Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha on Wednesday paid tribute to the army personnel who laid down their lives for the nation during 1971 war.

I salute our gallant soldiers for their exemplary courage and supreme sacrifice to gain a decisive victory for our Nation in the 1971 war, Sinha said in his message on ‘Vijay Diwas’.

The day commemorates the historic victory of Indian armed forces and the indomitable spirit of the brave soldiers.

On Vijay Diwas, let us remember the valour of our soldiers and their unwavering commitment to defend India’s sovereignty and protect human dignity , the Lt Governor said.

We are eternally indebted to our brave soldiers for their courage and selfless service to the nation for protecting our frontiers from the enemies and maintaining peace in the country, he said.

  1. Kashmir reels under biting cold conditions

Srinagar: Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, experienced the coldest night of the season on Wednesday as the valley reeled under cold conditions with the mercury plummeting several degrees below the freezing point owing to a clear sky, MeT officials said.

All the weather stations in the valley recorded the sub-zero night temperature owing to the clear sky and the minimum temperature settled several degrees below the normal for this part of the season, they said.

The officials said Srinagar recorded a low of minus 4.8 degrees Celsius, down from the previous night’s minus 3.2 degrees Celsius. The minimum temperature was about four degrees below the normal for this part of the season.

This was the coldest night of the season so far in the city, they added.

The mercury in Gulmarg, the famous ski-resort in north Kashmir, settled at a low of minus 11.0 degrees Celsius which is about seven degrees below the normal for this time of the season, the officials said.

The resort was the coldest recorded place in the union territory.

Pahalgam tourist resort in south Kashmir recorded a low of minus 7.4 degrees Celsius, the officials said.

They said Qazigund, the gateway town to the valley, recorded the minimum of minus 3.3 degrees Celsius, while Kupwara, in the north, registered a low of minus 4.8 degrees Celsius and Kokernag, in the south, minus 5.2 degrees Celsius, they said.

The Meteorological Office has said the weather is likely to remain mainly dry till December 22 with the possibility of a further decrease in the night temperature.

  1.  Villager shot at in Rajouri

Jammu: A 38-year-old man was shot at and injured by an unidentified assailant outside his house in Rajouri district of Jammu Kashmir, a police official said on Wednesday.

Preliminary investigations suggested personal rivalry as the reason behind the incident, the official said.

The man identified as Ranjeet Singh, a resident of Draaj village, was evacuated to hospital and his condition is stated to be stable .

A case has been registered.

  1.  ISRO sets up dedicated control centre for Space Situational Awareness

Bengaluru: A dedicated control centre for Space Situational Awareness (SSA) activities in the country, aimed at monitoring, tracking and protecting Indias space assets, has been set up here,the Indian Space Research Organisation said on Wednesday.

“ISRO SSA Control Centre, ‘NETRA’, is set up within the ISTRAC campus at Peenya.

The control centre is envisaged to function as a hub of all SSA activities within India,” the space agency said.

The Directorate of Space Situational Awareness and Management (DSSAM) engages in evolving improved operational mechanisms to protect Indian space assets through effective coordination amongst ISRO/DOS Centres, other space agencies and international bodies, it said.

According to ISRO, the Network for space object Tracking and Analysis (NETRA) project is initiated as a first step towards meeting this goal, its main elements being a radar, an optical telescope facility, and a control centre.

The control centre was formally inaugurated by Chairman, ISRO and Secretary, Department of Space K Sivan on December 14.

Stating that concurrent processing of data from the upcoming observational facilities for space objects orbit determination, correlation and catalogue generation will take place here, ISRO said there will be provision to schedule and remotely operate the observational facilities from the control centre.

Other core SSA activities will comprise close approach analysis between ISROs satellite and launch vehicles, timely dissemination of advance alerts on upcoming critical conjunctions for collision avoidance of operational assets, prediction of atmospheric re-entry of derelict satellites and rocket bodies, it said.

In addition, dedicated labs will also be set up in this control centre for Space Debris mitigation and remediation, compliance verification of UN/IADC guidelines and various R&D activities.

The R&D activities will encompass space object fragmentation and break up modelling, space debris population and micrometeoroid environment modelling, Space Weather studies, Near Earth Objects and planetary defence studies etc, it added.

According to ISRO, in view of the ever-growing population of space objects and the recent trend towards mega-constellations, SSA has become an integral and indispensable part of safe and sustainable space operations.

For the last few decades, ISRO has been carrying out SSA activities, mainly focused on safeguarding Indias space assets.

The Directorate of Space Situational Awareness and Management (DSSAM) has been established at ISRO,recognising the need for dedicated efforts to tackle the emerging challenges of operating in an exceedingly crowded and contested space domain.

  1. UK Foreign Secy calls on Modi; Discusses ties post-Brexit, new ‘vaccines hub’ to be set up to help in shared fight against coronavirus

New Delhi: British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday and discussed the vast potential of the India-UK partnership in the post-Brexit world, and launching of a ‘vaccines hub’ which will share best practice for clinical trials and foster innovation besides helping in shared fight against coronavirus.

In a tweet after the meeting, Modi said he was looking forward to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit to India to be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day celebrations next month.

“Excellent meeting with Dominic Raab, UK Secretary of State of FCDOGovUK. Discussed the vast potential of the India-UK partnership in the post-COVID, post-BREXIT world,” Modi tweeted.

A UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office statement said the British Foreign Secretary met Prime Minister Modi to discuss the UK and India working together “as a force for good and launching the pioneering new vaccines hub which will share best practice for regulation and clinical trials, and foster innovation.”

According to the statement, Raab also announced that “experts from India and the UK will join forces through a new virtual hub to deliver vaccines for coronavirus and other deadly viruses”.

Raab, during his meeting with Modi, also pitched for a closer UK-India relationship as part of a wider UK focus on our partnerships in the Indo-Pacific, according to the statement.

They also spoke about the 10-year roadmap which heralds a new era for the UK and India with an ambitious plan for an “Enhanced Trade Partnership”, the statement from the British side said.

Welcoming the UK and India’s collaboration on tackling coronavirus, the British foreign secretary praised Prime Minister Modi’s commitment to equitable global access to vaccines.

Later, Raab also visited a Delhi health clinic where Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines will be administered.

India’s Serum Institute is poised to make over a billion doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. Unlike other vaccines, it can be stored at normal fridge temperatures, making it easier and cheaper to produce and keep and distribute around the world.

“This Serum Institute and Oxford University partnership demonstrates the UK-India relationship at its best: a vaccine developed in the UK and made in India, drawing our brightest minds together to save lives as a global force for good,” Raab was quoted as saying by the statement.

“A global pandemic requires a global solution. Scientific cooperation has made breakthroughs on coronavirus vaccines at record-breaking pace and the UK-India vaccine hub will now build on these innovations, to bring this crisis to an end and protect us all against future pandemics,” he said.

Millions of the doses made by the Serum Institute will be distributed to the world’s poorest people via the global COVAX initiative, in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Gavi, the vaccine alliance, the British statement said.

The UK has championed equitable access to any coronavirus vaccine for those who need it and has committed up to 619 million pounds to COVAX to secure both the UK’s access to coronavirus vaccines and distribute COVID-19 vaccines across the world.

India supplies more than 50 per cent of the world’s vaccines and 25 per cent of the National Health Service’s generic drugs. Closer UK-India cooperation on medicines and vaccines approvals will ensure speedy access for the UK to Indian-produced pharmaceuticals and help safeguard future supplies to the NHS, the statement said.

The new hub will enable British and Indian experts to share knowledge on clinical trials and regulatory approvals and get vaccines to people who need them most in a safe, secure and energy-efficient way, it said.

It will protect the UK and India by enhancing cooperation on the development and distribution of coronavirus vaccines, better aligning the international regulation of vaccines and fostering partnerships to develop innovation moonshots’ that can define vaccine delivery over the next decade and beyond.

During the second day of his three-day visit, Raab also met Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal and agreed to work together on mutual recognition of academic qualifications, starting with master’s degrees, over the next year, the UK statement said.

The Foreign Secretary welcomed the signing of a new agreement between the University of Edinburgh and Gujarat government to open a new biotechnology university in the state in July 2021. This will be the first foreign university collaboration of its kind in India, the statement said.

Raab’s three-day visit to India from December 14-17 comes at a time the UK is holding complex negotiations with the European Union on reaching a post-Brexit trade deal.

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  1. India ranks 131 in UN’s human development index

New Delhi: India dropped one spot to 131 among 189 countries in the 2020 human development index, according to a report released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Human Development Index is the measure of a nation’s health, education, and standards of living.

Life expectancy of Indians at birth in 2019 was 69.7 years while Bangladesh has a life expectancy of 72.6 years and Pakistan 67.3 years, the 2020 Human Development Report said.

India, Bhutan (129), Bangladesh (133), Nepal (142), and Pakistan (154) were ranked among countries with medium human development, the report said.

India’s HDI value for 2019 is 0.645 which put it in the medium human development category. India has been positioned at 131 out of 189 countries and territories, according to the report. India had ranked 130 in 2018 in the index.

Norway topped the index, followed by Ireland, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Iceland, the report showed.

Talking to reporters, UNDP Resident Representative Shoko Noda said the drop in India’s ranking doesn’t mean “India didn’t do well but other countries did better”.

Noda said India can help other countries too and lauded its commitment to reduce carbon emissions.

According to the report published by the United Nations Development Programme on Tuesday, India’s gross national income per capita fell to USD 6,681 in 2019 from USD 6,829 in 2018 on purchasing power parity (PPP) basis.

Purchasing power parity or PPP is a measurement of prices in different countries that uses the prices of specific goods to compare the absolute purchasing power of the countries’ currencies.

The report said evidence from Colombia to India indicates that financial security and ownership of land improve women’s security and reduce the risk of gender-based violence, clearly indicating that owning land can empower women.

It further said indigenous children in Cambodia, India and Thailand show more malnutrition-related issues such as stunting and wasting.

“In India different responses in parent behaviour as well as some disinvestment in girls’ health and education have led to higher malnutrition among girls than among boys as a consequence of shocks likely linked to climate change,” the report said.

The report said that under the Paris Agreement, India pledged to reduce the emission intensity of its GDP from the 2005 level by 33 35 percent by 2030 and to obtain 40 percent of electric power capacity from non fossil fuel sources by 2030.

“As part of the plan, the National Solar Mission aims to promote solar energy for power generation and other uses to make solar energy competitive with fossil fuel based options. Solar capacity in India increased from 2.6 gigawatts in March 2014 to 30 gigawatts in July 2019, achieving its target of 20 gigawatts four years ahead of schedule. In 2019, India ranked fifth for installed solar capacity,” the report said.

  1.  Cabinet approves auction of spectrum worth Rs 3.92 lakh cr

New Delhi: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a proposal for the auction of 2,251.25 megahertz of spectrum worth Rs 3.92 lakh crore at the base price.

The telecom ministry plans to issue a notice to invite bids in December and hold the spectrum auction by March, telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

The government, however, has decided not to auction frequencies in 3,300-3,600 Mhz bands that were identified for 5G services.

“The auction will be for spectrum in 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz and 2500 MHz frequency bands. Spectrum will be offered for assignment for a validity period of 20 years. A total of 2,251.25 MHz is being offered with a total valuation of Rs 3,92,332.70 crore (at reserve price),” an official statement said.

“The notice inviting application shall be issued in this month and by auction will be conducted by March,” Prasad told reporters after the Cabinet meeting.

The Digital Communications Commission, the apex decision making body of the Department of Telecom, in May had approved the spectrum auction plan worth Rs 5.22 lakh crore which included radiowaves for 5G services as well.

However, a part of the 300 Mhz of spectrum identified by the DoT for 5G services is being used by the Navy, and the Department of Space has also made claims on a significant portion of these radiowaves.

The industry has also been demanding the government to lower the base price of 5G spectrum as each operator will need to shell out around Rs 50,000 crore for the required quantum of radiowaves for the next generation services.

Prasad did not reply to questions on the status of 5G spectrum.

The minister said that the government has retained rules of 2016 for payments in the upcoming auction as well.

Besides the bid price, the telecom operator will also need to pay a 3 per cent revenue share to the government every year.

“In addition to the bid amount, successful bidders will also have to pay 3 per cent of the adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) excluding wireline services as spectrum usage charges for the spectrum won through this auction,” the statement said.

“Successful bidders may pay entire bid amount in one go (upfront) or may exercise an option to pay a certain amount (25 per cent for spectrum won in 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz bands or 50 per cent for spectrum won in 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2500 MHz bands) upfront and remaining amount in a maximum up to 16 equated annual instalments, after a moratorium of two years,” the statement said.

  1.  Ram temple to be built using only domestic funds: Trust

New Delhi: The Ram temple in Ayodhya will be built using domestic funds collected from the general public through a mass contact programme as its trust doesn’t have required approvals for accepting donations from abroad, general secretary of the trust Champat Rai said on Wednesday.

Underlining that the Ram temple would actually take the form of a ‘rashtra temple’, he said Shri Ram Janmbhoomi Teerth Shetra is going to start the mass contact and contribution campaign across the country for construction of the temple.

Addressing a press conference here, Rai said photographs of the proposed new model of the temple will also reach crores of households through this campaign.

“Voluntary donations from Rambhakts will be accepted for which coupons of Rs 10, Rs 100 and Rs 1,000 will be made available,” he said.

In order to maintain transparency in the financial dealings and transactions, the trust has printed 4 crore coupons of Rs 10 denomination, 8 crore coupons of Rs 100 and 12 lakhs coupons of Rs 1,000 denomination, he said.

Rai also said for construction of the temple, no foreign funding can be collected as the trust doesn’t have enough necessary approvals while CSR funds can be considered for adjoining buildings of the temple.

He further said no target has been fixed for collecting funds and no estimate has been made of expenditure for construction of the temple.

Rai said through this campaign, the public will also be made aware of the historical significance of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement.

  1.  PM lights ‘Swarnim Vijay Mashaal’ to start 50th anniversary year celebrations of 1971 war win

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday lit the “Swarnim Vijay Mashaal” from the eternal flame of the National War Memorial here, marking the beginning of the 50th anniversary year celebrations of India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war that led to the birth of Bangladesh.

On December 16, 1971, then chief of Pakistani forces General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, along with 93,000 troops, surrendered to the joint forces of the Indian Army and the “Mukti Bahini” after the 13-day war, following which East Pakistan became Bangladesh.

“On Vijay Diwas we recall the unwavering courage of our armed forces that resulted in a decisive victory for our nation in the 1971 war. On this special Vijay Diwas, had the honour of lighting the ‘Swarnim Vijay Mashaal’ at the National War Memorial,” Modi said in a tweet.

India is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the “Swarnim Vijay Varsh” (golden victory year) through several events across the country and the celebrations will continue for a year.

The prime minister was joined by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, the chief of defence staff and tri-service chiefs as he laid a wreath and paid homage to the soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice for the country.

Four victory “mashaal” (flaming torches) are being carried to various parts of the country, including to the villages of the Param Vir Chakra and Maha Vir Chakra awardees of the 1971 war to relive their bravery and sacrifices.

“Soil from the villages of these awardees and from areas where major battles were fought in 1971 is being brought to the National War Memorial (NWM),” the defence ministry said.

Singh said the sacrifice made by the armed forces during the 1971 war is a source of inspiration for all Indians and the nation will always remember it.

“The nation will always remember the indomitable courage of the Indian armed forces during the 1971 war,” he said at an event organised on the occasion.

The Congress also lauded the armed forces and Indira Gandhi’s “lion-hearted leadership” for India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war, with Rahul Gandhi saying it was a time when the neighbouring countries recognised the mettle of the Indian prime minister and feared violating our borders.

“Greetings to the people of the country on the celebrations of India’s historic victory over Pakistan in 1971 and salutations to the valour of our armed forces,” he said in a tweet in Hindi.

“This was a time when India’s neighbouring countries used to recognise the mettle of the Indian prime minister and feared violating the borders of our country,” the Congress leader added.

A host of leaders and Union ministers too paid tributes to the armed forces personnel who laid down their lives in the war.

“Salute the brave warriors of Indian Armed Forces on #VijayDiwas. Their service and sacrifice during the 1971 War shall always be remembered,” External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said in a tweet.

He also extended the “warmest congratulations” to the government and the people of Bangladesh on “Bijoy Dibosh”. Bangladesh celebrates December 16 as “Bijoy Dibosh” (Victory Day).

“Led by Bangabandhu, Bangladesh’s historic struggle and sacrifice will continue to be an inspiration for those fighting oppression and genocide,” he said.

The Army also paid glowing tributes to its fallen heroes.

“We remember the bravery of the brave soldiers who wrote a new valor in the 1971 war. A tribute to the brave sons who made supreme sacrifice for the motherland in the 1971 war,” it said in a tweet.

Various commemorative events are being conducted pan-India wherein war veterans will be felicitated. Band displays, seminars, exhibitions, equipment displays, film festivals, conclaves and adventure activities will also be held.

 

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