Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Thursday said that charges of taking 40 per cent commission for clearing bills are politically motivated.
He said, “Charges must be specific and accompanied with evidence. Without this only baseless press statements are made. I told the same thing to Kempanna when he met me. He was asked to give evidence.” His remarks came after Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah’s demand in the State Legislative Assembly for an inquiry into charges of taking 40 per cent commission.
He suggested approaching the Lokayukta for probing such cases.
“Recently, as per directions from the Karnataka High Court, the powers of the Anti-corruption Bureau had been given to Lokayukta. Everyone has the power to make complaints against anybody in that institution. But politically motivated statements are issued,” he said.
He slammed LoP Siddaramaiah and said, “Kempanna’s Contractors’ Association was not alone as there are Associations of Contractors who are executing the works of BBMP, PWD and other organisations. But everybody understood the motive of the media statements after meeting Siddaramaiah. They say MLAs of all parties are involved in corruption.”
He highlighted that there was total transparency in clearing bills.
“Total transparency and seniority are strictly observed in clearing pending bills. There are a number of Contractors Associations and strict instruction is given of not giving more than 5 per cent contract to any Association. The bills of small contractors are cleared. The government has brought in transparency and seniority while cleaning the bills. Despite doing all these things, still they are levelling charges,” he said.
Reacting to Congress leaders’ statements, the CM shot back, “Did they get all the cases probed while the Congress Party was in power? Are they Sathya Harishchandras? This is a clear-cut case of politically motivated statements. Without any basis, the contractors are working like politicians.”
Earlier on August 24, reacting to Bommai doubting the credibility of the contractor’s association, Siddaramaiah said that it was the version of the Bharatiya Janata Party and not that of the contractors.
“It is BJP’s argument, not that of contractors…It’s irrelevant. I’m not going to accept that,” the senior Congress leader said when asked about the CM questioning the credibility of the contractor’s association over their allegation of a 40 per cent commission in the government contracts.
In order to remind Prime Minister Narendra Modi about “the increasing corruption in the state”, the Karnataka State Contractors Association is planning to revive its 40 per cent kickback accusation by writing to him.
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Some Royal staff used to call Meghan Markle ‘narcissistic sociopath’
Author Valentine Low has written a book about the staff who work for the royal families called ‘Courtiers: The Hidden Power Behind the Crown’. In the book, she quoted many staff who worked for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry during their term as senior royals in the UK.
According to the New York Post, the book details the alleged bad behaviour by Meghan and her husband, Prince Harry, towards their staff. In the book, the author even quoted a royal staffer calling Meghan, a “narcissistic sociopath”
Staff members coined the epithet for the Duchess of Sussex, according to a report in The Sun citing excerpts from the explosive tome, according to the New York Post.
According to Page Six, “There were a lot of broken people,” an insider claimed to author Valentine Low.
“Young women were broken by their behaviour,” the palace source added.
Valentine Low cites one alleged occasion in her book in which Markle scolded a young female coworker in front of other co-workers.
“Don’t worry. If there was literally anyone else I could ask to do this, I would be asking them instead of you,” Markle allegedly told the staffer, with whom she had been working to execute a plan of sorts.
Celebration of 75 years of Independence with commemorative coins in Kolkata
As the most awaited festival of Durga Puja is around the corner, preparations for the festival are in full swing in Kolkata, which is known for the yearly event. The Durga Puja of Kolkata is world famous and it was also included in UNESCO’s representative list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity in 2021.
Every year, Kolkata brings a new theme to Durga Puja pandals, which are unique and innovative in their own way. From pandals to the Durga idol, devotees get to see various themed Durga puja in Kolkata.
In keeping with the celebrations of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, the Babubagan Sarbojanin Durgotsav Puja pandal at the Dhakuria in South Kolkata has come up with a unique pandal, which is made of thousands of commemorative coins issued since independence.
The Babubagan Sarbajanin Durgotsav Samiti Durga Puja Pandal, made of thousands of commemorative coins issued since independence. The theme of this year’s Durga Puja pandal is “Maa Tujhe Salaam”. This time, Babubagan Sarbajanin Durga Puja is being celebrated for the 61st year.
Realising the artistic vision of Sujata Gupta and welcoming Maa Durga in an atmosphere of remembrance of 75 years of the country’s independence, tributes have been paid to the great freedom fighters of the country.
The theme of this puja pandal depicts the freedom fighters and great personalities through Maa Tujhe Salaam.
Upon entering, one can feel the presence of prominent figures of India, who were directly involved in India’s freedom struggle and who shaped our modern India and various Indian independence movements.
The park will also have landmarks of various pillars of our country that have helped them stand on their feet.
Prof Sujata Gupta, Concept Maker and Puja Committee Treasurer, said, “Maa Tujhe Salaam is the theme of the pandal. Maa means ‘Durga Maa’ and it also means ‘Bharat Mata’. We are celebrating 75 years of India’s independence. The pandal is made of thousands of commemorative coins issued since independence. From 1947 till date, a number of commemorative coins have been released on important occasions. We have collected such coins and adorned the pandal with them. While some of the coins are original, the rest are replicas. “ The idol will be placed in a coin museum.
“There will be a coin museum. The idols of Durga Maa are replicated on the coins. Also, we have placed replicas of freedom fighters like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose, Swami Vivekananda, and others on coins,” said Gupta.
She further said that around 150 coins have been used in the pandal.
“It is my hobby to collect coins and this is my concept. My husband also used to collect coins. We had all these old coins that are not in use today. So we thought of giving a message to the next generation with this pandal. Senior citizens will feel nostalgic as they are not able to see old coins. This will work as a feel-good factor,” she said.
Viruses may have ‘eyes and ears’ on us
New research suggests that viruses are using information from their environment to ‘decide’ when to sit tight inside their hosts and when to multiply and burst out, killing the host cell. Right now, viruses are exploiting the ability to monitor their environment to their benefit. But in the future, “we could exploit it to their detriment,” said one of the authors.
A virus’s ability to sense its environment, including elements produced by its host, adds “another layer of complexity to the viral-host interaction,” says Ivan Erill, professor of biological sciences and senior author of the new paper.
Right now, viruses are exploiting that ability to their benefit. But in the future, he says, “we could exploit it to their detriment.”
The new study focused on bacteriophages—viruses that infect bacteria, often referred to simply as “phages.”
The phages in the study can only infect their hosts when the bacterial cells have special appendages, called pili and flagella, that help the bacteria move and mate.
The bacteria produce a protein called CtrA that controls when they generate these appendages.
The new paper shows that many appendage-dependent phages have patterns in their DNA where the CtrA protein can attach, called binding sites.
Erill says that a phage having a binding site for a protein produced by its host is unusual.
Even more surprising, Erill and the paper’s first author, Elia Mascolo, a Ph.D. student in Erill’s lab, found through detailed genomic analysis that these binding sites were not unique to a single phage, or even a single group of phages.
Many different types of phages had CtrA binding sites, but they all required their hosts to have pili and/or flagella to infect them. It couldn’t be a coincidence, they decided.
NAVRATRI 2022: All about the 9-day Auspicious festival
The 9-day-long festival of Shardiya Navratri, dedicated to Maa Durga and her nine avatars, began on Monday, marking the first day of the festivity (Kalash or Ghatsthapna). The festival is celebrated with great fervour all across the country by Hindus.
It is intended for the worship of Maa Durga and her nine avatars, known as Navdurga. Navratri means ‘nine nights’ in Sanskrit. Hindus observe a total of four Navratris throughout the year. Only two of them, Chaitra Navaratri and Shardiya Navaratri, saw widespread celebrations, as they coincided with the beginnings of the seasons.
From Ashwin Shukla Paksha’s Navami until the Pratipada, Shardiya Navratri is observed. While the holiday is celebrated with great fanfare across the nation, distinct traditions are more commonly practised in different states.
This year, Navratri will last nine days, starting on 26 September and concluding on 5 October.
The festival of Navratri honours the defeat of the demonic Mahishasura and the triumph of good over evil. Because of Mahishasura’s unwavering devotion to him, Lord Brahma bestows the gift of immortality upon him at the beginning of the narrative.
The blessing did, however, come with one stipulation: only a woman would be able to overcome him. The demon began terrorising people on Earth because he didn’t think any woman would be strong enough to overcome him. The gods were unable to halt him.
Since Mahishasura was to be demolished, Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Shiva pooled their efforts to create the goddess Durga. They gave her a number of weapons. Ten days passed during Maa Durga and Mahishasura’s conflict. However, Maa Durga was able to overcome him when he at last transformed into a buffalo.
During the nine-day Navratri festival, devotees worship Maa Durga’s nine incarnations in order to obtain her blessings. There is a goddess manifestation linked with each day of Navratri. During these nine days, people maintain ritualistic fasts, recite shlokas dedicated to each goddess, wear new clothing, offer bhog, and clean their homes. In their prayers, they ask the goddess for her favour in order to have prosperous, joyous, and fulfilled lives.
Ramlila is organised extensively during Navratri in North India, particularly in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh. During the Ramlila, the tale of Lord Ram’s triumph over Ravana is acted out. The effigies of King Ravana are burned on Dussehra to commemorate the triumph of good over evil.
In fact, on the tenth day of Navratri, also known as Vijayadashami, a large procession is organised during which clay figurines of Maa Durga are ceremoniously submerged in a river, sea, or ocean. Popular places to do this practice include West Bengal, Odisha, Assam, and Bihar. The most significant day for Maa Durga’s worship is thought to be the day of Durga Visarjan.
Numerous dances, including Garba and Dandiya Raas, are performed during the nine-day festival. While Dandiya Raas involves dancing with dandiya sticks to the beat of the music, Garba is a traditional dance in which participants clap their hands and move in a circle while making rhythmic gestures.
In India, Navratri is celebrated in a wide range of ways. Ramlila, a celebration in which scenes from the Ramayana are performed, is organised in North India, mainly in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh. The burning of King Ravana’s effigies marks the conclusion of the story on Vijaya dashami.
Tibetan lives are in danger due to China’s poorly handled zero-COVID policy
The draconian measures adopted by China to enforce its zero-covid policy in the wake of rising covd-19 cases in Tibet has endangered the lives of Tibetans.
“The zero-covid policy is causing more harm than good. The mismanagement of the pandemic outbreak in Tibet only exposes Beijing’s failed covid-policy implementation,” read the Central Tibetan Administration press release.
In an attempt to present itself as a role model in curbing the outbreak, China is downright disregarding the safety and security of Tibetans in need of medical assistance and covid care evidenced by the dire lockdown conditions being reported and exposed online by a number of affected Tibetans.
Tibetans complained about crowded quarantine facilities, food scarcity, lack of medical supplies and unhygienic living conditions, added the release.
Some Tibetans said that the condition is worse than a prisoner and another Tibetan was beaten up for protesting against the dire living situation under the covid lockdown. Tibetans in the covid regions are being forcibly dragged to be put into isolation centres and their families have to live with the uncertainty of their return and updates in general.
The entire world suffered when the pandemic hit but the situation in Tibet could not have gotten worse since it was already in a saddening state. Tibetans in Tibet are stuck in another helpless state where the government is only focusing on carrying out their policy to seem like a capable nation.
China publicly reported the first Covid outbreak in Tibet on August 8 this year, with 22 cases of covid-positive in Lhasa and Ngari. This has been the first official admission of Covid in Tibet after the repeated public announcements of the zero-Covid policy in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) since early 2020, read the CTA release.
Within weeks, at least 3627 people had reportedly tested positive indicating a rapid increase.
Cubans vote in landmark referendum on same-sex marriage, adoption
Cubans voted in a landmark referendumon Sunday on whether to legalize same-sex marriage and adoption, allow surrogate pregnancies and give greater rights to non-biological parents.
Almost 6 million Cubans (around 69% of eligible voters) voted in the referendum, according to electoral officials.
Over 8 million Cubans over the age of 16 were eligible to vote “yes” or “no” for the proposal, which is supported by the communist government but criticized by Catholic and evangelical church leaders, reported DW News.
More than 79,000 neighbourhood meetings were held earlier this year to debate the proposal, which is backed by the communist government. Church leaders have expressed opposition to the idea.
The final week of campaigning saw the government flood TV, radio and social media with pro-equality messages, along with glitzy billboards, public rallies and tweets from President Miguel Diaz-Canel urging Cubans to vote yes “in favour of democracy,” reported DW News.
The official attitude toward homosexuality has changed significantly over the past 20 years after decades of persecution.
In 2019, the government sought to include same-sex marriage in the country’s new constitution but backed down after criticism from the Church. The Conference of Bishops has once again come out against the current proposal.
Political scientist Rafael Hernandez said the referendum on same-sex marriage is the “most important human rights legislation” in Cuba since the 1959 revolution, reported DW News.
However, the current economic unease may overshadow Cuba’s historic vote. Cuba is facing its worst economic crisis in 30 years due to a collapse in international tourism and ongoing US sanctions. The economic parameters of the country has been on a downward spiral for quite sometime now.
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