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Congress appoints KV Thomas as KPCC working president

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Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) [India], February 11 (ANI): Congress Interim President Sonia Gandhi on Thursday appointed Kuruppasserry Varkey Thomas as a working president of Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC).
“Congress President has approved the proposal of the appointment of Working President and Vice President of Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee in addition to the existing Working Presidents and Vice Presidents, as follows, with immediate effect. Prof. K.V. Thomas- Working President, KPCC 2. Adv. C.K. Sreedharan – Vice President, KPCC,” informed an official statement.
At present, the KPCC has two working presidents and 14 vice presidents. (ANI)

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Local self-government symbol of democracy, development: Om Birla

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Shillong (Meghalaya) [India], February 26 (ANI): Local self-government is a symbol of both democracy and development Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Friday stated that it provides a framework for decentralisation of democracy.
The Lok Sabha Speaker’s comments came at the inauguration of outreach and familiarisation programme for local bodies of North-Eastern States in Shillong.
“Local Self Government is a symbol of both democracy and development. It provides a framework for the decentralisation of democracy. It strengthens the democracy at the grass-root level through which citizens get an opportunity to become a stakeholder in the local self-government of their area,” the speaker said.
“There are several provisions in our Constitution providing optimal opportunities for the development of all the areas in the country. North East India is quite distinct from the geographical and socio-cultural point of view, therefore keeping it in view; a special provision for three Autonomous District Council for these States has been made in the Sixth Schedule of our Constitution,” Birla said.
The prime objective of setting up these Councils is to protect the rights of the tribal communities of the North East, provide them equal rights in the decision-making process and to ensure that their administration is carried out in accordance with their traditions and conventions, he said.
“Mahatma Gandhi believed that the soul of India lives in villages. He believed in rural self-government and the development of the nation (Rashtrodaya) through the development of the villages (Gramodaya). He believed that every village should be self-reliant. The Government is formulating policies and schemes to make this very self-reliance a nationwide phenomenon. But, a self-reliant India can only be possible when we are Vocal for Local,” he said.
Highlighting the digital penetration in governance, he said that e-Panchyat has been introduced which has brought revolutionary changes in the working of local self-government.
It is our responsibility to make a collective effort to make democracy strong, transparent and accountable, he added.
Chief Minister of Meghalaya Conrad Sangma, Speaker of Meghalaya Legislative Assembly Metbah Lyngdoh, Union Minister of State, Ministry of Food Processing & Industries, Rameshwar Teli and a range of MPs from across the North Eastern region also took part in the event.
The programme was organised by Parliamentary Research and Training Institute for Democracies (PRIDE), of the Lok Sabha Secretariat.
The theme of the programme was ‘Panchayati Raj System/Autonomous District Council- Strengthening Decentralised democracy’. (ANI)

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BJP, Cong afraid of people who voted for AAP in Gujarat, says Arvind Kejriwal

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Surat (Gujarat) [India], February 26 (ANI): Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday said that BJP and Congress are afraid of the people who voted for the AAP in the local body polls in Gujarat.
“I have been listening to statements of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress, over the past few days after the results. They are perturbed and a little scared. We have to understand that they are not scared of you or AAP. They are scared of people who voted for you,” Kejriwal said addressing the newly elected corporators in Surat.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal met newly elected corporators of the party and its volunteers here, after getting a rise in the local body elections in the state.
Addressing the event, Arvind Kejriwal asked the reason of being BJP always the ruling party in the state for the last 25 years.
“Why has BJP been governing here for the last 25 years? It is not because of they are doing great but because there is no opposition. People of the state are facing a lot of issues but when they saw option (AAP) against the BJP, they applauded you (by making AAP win),” he said.
The BJP on February 23 put up a spectacular performance in the Gujarat municipal corporation elections improving its numbers over the 2016 polls and nearly decimating the Congress. The party has retained power in all municipal corporations, which went to the polls. The performance appears all the more credible as BJP has been in power in the state for the last 25 years.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) put up a fight in Surat where it won 27 seats in its first outing. The BJP secured 93 out of the 120 seats in Surat, while the AAP secured 27. Congress and other parties did not win any seats. (ANI)

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Steps taken to end non-transparent credit culture in country, says PM Modi

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New Delhi [India], February 26 (ANI): The country’s financial and banking sector was weakened in the name of aggressive lending about 10 years ago, but the BJP-led central government has taken several steps to deal with the non-transparent credit culture, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday.
Addressing a webinar on the implementation of Budget in the financial services sector, Prime Minister Modi said that his government has made reporting of non-performing assets (NPAs) compulsory, instead of sweeping it under the carpet.
“The government’s vision of the country’s financial sector is very clear. It is our top priority that both the depositor and investor experience trust and transparency in the country. Steps have been taken one-by-one to end the non-transparent credit culture in the country. Now reporting of nonperforming assets (NPAs) from day one is compulsory, instead of sweeping it under the carpet,” he said.
He said protecting the earnings of ordinary families, effective and leakage-free delivery of government benefits to the poor, and encouraging investment related to infrastructure for the development of the country are the priorities of the country.
“Looking at long-term financing needs of infrastructure and industrial projects, we’ve built a new Development Finance Institution. Sovereign wealth funds, pension funds, and insurance companies are being encouraged to invest in infrastructure,” the PM stated.
The Prime Minister said that Atmanirbhar Bharat would not just be big industries or big cities, it will be made with the hard work of village, small entrepreneurs in small towns, ordinary Indians.
“Atmanirbhar Bharat will be made up of farmers, units making agricultural products better. Our start-ups and small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) would be the identity of Aatmnirbhar Bharat, that is why special schemes were formulated for MSMEs during the COVID pandemic. 90 lakh micro, MSMEs have received credit worth Rs 2.4 trillion in a push that we provided to them during COVID-19. The government has also opened up the agriculture, coal, and space sector among others for businesses,” he said.
The PM said the Fintech start-ups are doing excellent work in the country today, and they also have a high share in the start-up deals that took place during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Better help of technology has played a keen role in financial inclusion in the last few years. Today, 130 crore Indians have Aadhar, and over 41 crore people have Jan Dhan Accounts. Over 55 per cent of such accounts belong to women and have nearly Rs 1.5 lakh crore. With the help of Mudra Yojana, loans worth about Rs 15 lakh crores have reached small entrepreneurs in the past years. In this also about 70 per cent are women and more than 50 per cent are Dalit, Tribal and backward class entrepreneurs,” the PM added. (ANI)

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Petition against mandatory FASTags of motor vehicles: SC asks petitioner to go to Delhi HC

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New Delhi [India], February 26 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a plea and asked the petitioner, a retired civil servant, to first approach the Delhi High Court in connection with his petition challenging the mandatory fitting of FASTags in motor vehicles required for renewing of fitness certificate and also for insurance by third party.
A three-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad Arvind Bobde refused to entertain the petition filed by Rajesh Kumar, a retired Civil servant, and asked him “you first approach the Delhi High Court”.
“We want to have the advantage of the opinion of the High Court first,” the CJI Bobde said, and refused to entertain the petition filed by Rajesh Kumar.
The retired civil servant, Rajesh Kumar, had filed the PIL before the Supreme Court, through his lawyer Dhruv Tamta, and seeking relief and appropriate directions and orders in the issue of making FASTag mandatory for all motor vehicles.
Kumar, in his petition, said there may be class of citizens who are having limited means of survivor.
Kumar also said many people are leading retired life but have to maintain vehicles in their home for limited purpose such as, some require cars for going to visit hospital in the city itself or emergencies.
The petitioner, a retired civil servant, Rajesh Kumar, had filed the petition in the Supreme Court and challenged the making of FASTags mandatory for all motor vehicles.
The CJI, Bobde, during the course of the hearing, observed, “Why Article 32?” To this, lawyer Tamta, replied, “It (FASTag) will have countrywide ramification, Mylords. Please consider it.”
The CJI said, “That is alright. But you go to the Delhi High Court first.”
“We will have the opinion of HC also. Dismissed as withdrawn. Liberty to approach the High Court,” the CJI Bobde said. (ANI)

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COVID-19 vaccination coverage in India crosses 1.34 crores

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New Delhi [India], February 26 (ANI): The nationwide COVID-19 vaccination to healthcare workers and frontline workers crossed 1.34 crores coverage on Friday, informed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
As per the provisional report issued by the Ministry, till Day-42 of the vaccination drive, the 1.34 crore vaccination doses were registered through 2,78,915 sessions. This includes the first dose for 66.21 lakh healthcare workers, second dose for 20.32 lakh healthcare workers and the first dose for 48.18 lakh frontline workers.
The second dose of COVID-19 vaccination started on February 13, for those beneficiaries who have completed 28 days after receipt of the first dose and vaccination of the frontline workers started on February 2.
Nine states and Union Territories including Arunachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Telangana, Ladakh, Chandigarh, Nagaland, Punjab, and Puducherry have vaccinated less than 60 per cent of the registered healthcare workers.
While 13 states — Chandigarh, Nagaland, Telangana, Mizoram, Punjab, Goa, Arunachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Manipur, Assam, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Meghalaya, and Puducherry — have vaccinated less than 40 per cent of the registered frontline workers, stated the ministry.
On Day-41 of the vaccination drive, around eight lakh vaccine doses were given. Out of which, around four lakh healthcare workers and frontline workers were vaccinated for first dose. India’s active COVID-19 caseload is 1.55 lakh comprising 1.41 per cent of the total positive cases. However, 21 states and Union Territories have less than 1,000 active cases. (ANI)

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Khelo India National Winter Games will help in making J-K a sporting hub, says PM Modi

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New Delhi [India], February 26 (ANI): The second edition of ‘Khelo India National Winter Games’ which are being organised in Jammu and Kashmir will help in developing a new sporting ecosystem in the Union Territory and help in making it a sporting hub, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday.
Speaking at the inaugural address of the 2nd edition of the Khelo India National Winter Games, PM Modi said “the ‘Khelo India’ centres of excellence will also promote Jammu and Kashmir tourism.”
“These games happening in Gulmarg show Jammu and Kashmir is ready to reach new heights of peace and development. The experience of ‘Khelo India Winter Games’ will help us move forward with a holistic approach. These winter games in Jammu and Kashmir will help establish a new sporting ecosystem. The ‘Khelo India’ centres of excellence will also promote Jammu and Kashmir’s tourism,” he said.
The Prime Minister said that sports is no longer just a hobby or “time pass” in the country. “In sports, we learn team spirit, look for new ways in defeats and learn to repeat victories. Sports shape the lives and lifestyle of players. It boosts self-confidence,” he stated.
The Prime Minister pointed out that under the new National Education Policy, sports have been given a lot of importance, and the government is opening sports universities in India.
“We have to think about how we can take sports science and management to the school level. It will give our youth more opportunities and increase India’s participation in the sports economy,” PM Modi stated.
Addressing the young sportsperson participating in the games, the Prime Minister said, “When you show your talent at Khelo India National Winter Games, remember that you are not just a part of a sport, but you are also a brand ambassador of self-reliant India. The world evaluates India with the ground you work on.” (ANI)

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