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Functioning of Bihar VCs comes under the scanner

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Surendra Pratap Singh, the Vice Chancellor (VC) of the Darbhanga, Bihar based Lalit Narayan Mithila University (LNMU) was on Tuesday awarded the best V-C of the state by Governor Phagu Chauhan.

However, the VC of the Patna based Maulana Mazharul Haque Arabic and Persian University (MMHAPU), Prof Mohammad Quddus, has started a row by stating that universities in Bihar have become a grazing ground for loot by the VCs even as he levelled charges of financial irregularities against Singh when he was the acting VC of MMHAPU.

Quddus has written a letter to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar alleging that Singh, who was handling the matter of MMHAPU for some time, has committed financial irregularities during his tenure.

Significantly, Bihar Education minister Vijay Chaudhary did not attend the award ceremony at the Governor house while stating the allegations against Singh levelled by Quddus need to be investigated as Singh has faced similar allegations in the past which had led to inquiry being done against him. None of the officials from the education department attended the event. The Daily Guardian’s SMS and calls to Singh seeking his response on the matter, did not elicit any response.

In his letter to the CM, dated 20 November, Quddus stated that on the last date of his tenure as an acting VC (19 August) Singh, despite being aware that Quddu’s appointment has been notified, entered into an agreement with a Patna based outsourcing agency though two letters, carrying the same docket number, for engaging 45 and 80 housekeeping staff at an inflated rate. The agency later submitted a bill of Rs 18.68 lakh for the payment of 80 workers when in fact only 45 workers were employed by the university.

Quddus has further shared another instance to highlight ‘ulterior motive’ of Singh while asking the CM to investigate his role. According to the letter by Quddus, irregularities were committed while purchasing answer sheets during Singh’s tenure.

“Singh had ordered the Lucknow based supplier and printer, BK Printers for supply of 1.60 lakh answer sheets while the Registrar of the University ordered for the supply of 40000 answer sheets. The answer sheets, which were purchased by the university for Rs 7 per page before Singh took over, were bought at the rate of Rs 16 per answer sheet, an increase which was done without any rhyme or reason”, the letter reads. Singh, sources said, gave the order of the printing of 1.60 lakh copies at the cost of Rs 28 lakh.

Quddus stated that he was being coerced and intimidated by an individual who claims to be connected with the Bihar Governor’s office. In the letter, the VC has pointed out that the person, named Atul Srivastava, who claims himself to be an employee of the Raj Bhawan, has been applying pressure on him to release the payment for 80 housekeeping employees. Quddus has shared the two mobile numbers of the individual and the board exchange landline number of Raj Bhawan from where Srivastava has been calling him to threaten him.

This is not the first time the VCs of Bihar have come under lens. Last week, the Special Vigilance Unit (SVU) raided the Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh based private residence of Magadh University vice-chancellor Dr Rajendra Prasad and recovered Rs 90 lakh, foreign currency worth Rs7.5 lakh and jewellery worth Rs15 lakh. Simultaneous raid was conducted at his university office in Bodh Gaya. Prasad also owned movable properties of at least Rs2 crore and immovable properties worth Rs1 crore.

This recent incident is a part of multiple such instances that have come to light in Bihar thereby showing the higher education system in the state in poor light, something that has even been accepted by Bihar ministers. Post the raid on Magadh university VC, Bihar education minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary had told the media that such things were earning a band name for Bihar even as he questioned the selection process of the VC.

In the recent past, the VCs of Purnia university and BhimRao Ambedkar university, Muzaffarpur have come under vigilance scanner. Also, the VCs of Patliputra university, Tilka Manjhi university, Bhagalpur, B N Mandal university and Nalanda Open university had to resign before the completion of their term. The VC of Veer Kunwar Singh University had to be sent on forced leave following an inquiry into alleged irregularities. In August 2013, the Supreme Court had quashed all the appointments of nine VCs and two Pro VCs that were done by Devanand Konwar the then Bihar Governor. Konwar was later moved out of the state to Tripura.

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OVER 5 CRORE TIRANGA SELFIES CLOCKED AS PART OF HAR GHAR TIRANGA CAMPAIGN

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More than five crore Tiranga selfies have been uploaded on the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign website so far, the Ministry of Culture informed on Monday and termed it a “stupendous achievement”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given a call on 22 July 2022, to join the Har Ghar Tiranga’ movement by hoisting or displaying the national flag at homes.

“In a stupendous achievement, more than five crore ‘Tiranga’ selfies have been uploaded on the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ website,” the ministry of Culture said in a statement.

As India embarks on its 76th year of Independence, wrapping up the 75-week countdown to 15 August 2022, was the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ initiative of the government driven by the nodal ministry for ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ the Ministry of Culture.

The commemoration of 75 years of independence started on March 12, 2021, as a 75-week countdown to 15 August 2022, and will continue till 15 August 2023.

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Indian Missions under MEA screen short film on Sri Aurobindo

Murtaza Ali Khan

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Indian Missions abroad under the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), including the Embassy of India, Paris, India in UK, CGI Birmingham, Switzerland, Colombia and Ecuador, Permanent Delegation of India to UNESCO and Bahrain, screened the short film titled ‘Sri Aurobindo: The Beginning of Spiritual Journey’ on 15th August 2022, which also marked the 150th birth anniversary of Sri Aurobindo. Directed by award-winning Indian filmmaker Suraj Kumar, the short film is based on a screenplay by Manish Kumar Pran. The film stars Vikrant Chauhan in the titular role.

Based on Sri Aurobindo Ghose’s prison life (1908-1909), the short film was shot in Alipore Jail, Kolkata, from where Sri Aurobindo’s spiritual journey had started. Sri Aurobindo was arrested for conspiracy on 5th May 1908 and spent a full year in Alipore jail while the British government, in a protracted court trial, tried to implicate him in various revolutionary activities. It came to be known as the Alipore Bomb Case. He was finally acquitted and released on 6th May 1909. 

 ‘Sri Aurobindo: The Beginning of Spiritual Journey puts the spotlight on an important chapter of Sri Aurobindo Ghose’s journey that often gets overlooked when one talks about his exemplary life and work. Sri Aurobindo was also a renowned freedom fighter and was accused of bombing a series of British nationals as a leader of Anushilan Samity. However, in Alipore central jail, while being accused of the Alipore conspiracy, he had a change of mind and became a philosopher and spiritual guru till his death in 1950 in Puducherry.

“While Sri Aurbindo Ghose was lodged in jail, his spiritual transformation started just after 2-3 days of prison life. My short film ‘Sri Aurobindo: The Beginning of Spiritual Journey’ documents his beginning of spiritual journey in Alipore jail,” reveals Suraj Kumar. Speaking about the film’s conception, he adds, “The idea of making the short cropped up when one of my IIMC friends and prison reformer Dr. Vartika Nanda discussed it with me, back in early 2021. Subsequently, I visited the National Library of India in Kolkata to document and record the news articles published related to Sri Aurobindo’s imprisonment. “

Sri Aurobindo Ghosh was one of the first few leaders who demanded complete independence from the British Raj. He is said to have proposed the concept of ‘Purna Swaraj’, 20 years before the Indian National Congress. He advocated the use of Swadeshi products, non-cooperation, and passive resistance to achieve the goal. After being a part of the Independence movement from 1902 to 1910, he shifted to the French colony of Puducherry, where he set up an ashram and worked for the development of ‘internal Yoga.’ He authored several works, including The Synthesis of Yoga, The Life Divine, The Ideal of Human Unity, and The Human Cycle, among others.

‘Sri Aurobindo: The Beginning of Spiritual Journey’ will be screened in various schools and colleges all across the country over the next one year.

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WHAT MAKES NAVROZ A SPECIAL OCCASION FOR PARSIS

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Navroz, which is the Parsi New Year, was celebrated on 16th August this year . The day is dedicated to the beginning of spring and to promoting peace, solidarity, and friendship among people and different communities.

The Navroz celebration is believed to date back to the time when Prophet Zarathustra founded Zoroastrianism, one of the earliest known monotheistic religions in the world, in Persia (now Iran). It was one of the most important religions in the ancient world until the emergence of Islam in the seventh century.

During the Islamic invasion of Persia, several Persians fled to India and Pakistan. Since then, their festivals have become a part of Indian festivities and are celebrated by people from diverse cultures.

Navroz marks the first day of Farvardin, the first month in the Zoroastrian calendar, also known as the Shahenshahi calendar.

For followers of Zoroastrian philosophy, this day represents the time when everything in the universe is completely renewed. Jamshed, a monarch of the ancient Sasanian Empire, is credited with introducing the Parsi calendar. Hence, this holiday is also called Jamshed-i-Nouroz.

Across the world, Navroz is celebrated at the time of the vernal equinox, around 21 March. However, Parsis in India follow the Shahenshahi calendar, which does not recognise leap years. This is why the Parsi New Year in India is celebrated almost 200 days after it is celebrated across the world.

On this occasion, Parsi families across India, especially in the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat as they have a sizeable Parsi population, visit the holy temples to offer prayers.

They also prepare traditional Parsi dishes like Farcha, Berry Pulao, and Jardaloo Chicken, among several other things. Parsis also believe it to be a day of remittance of sins and a time for repentance.   

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GOVERNMENT’S REVENUE LOSS OF RS 1.84 LAKH CRORE IN FIRST 2 YEARS, CLAIMS CONGRESS

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On Tuesday, Congress held a press conference where the party spokesperson, Prof. Gourav Vallabh, citing a revenue loss of Rs 1.84 lakh crore in the first 2 years of the corporate tax cut, said, “On September 20, 2019, the government announced the corporate tax cut from a base rate of 30% to 22% for existing firms without exemptions or incentives and from 18% to 15% for new manufacturing units. The rate cut came amidst fiscal distress, as in the same month, the Finance Minister told states at Goa’s GST Council meeting that the Centre had no money and wouldn’t be paying the GST Compensation anymore.

He further added, “For the last 3 years, the government has repeatedly claimed that the corporate tax cut would help increase corporate tax collection. But the parliamentary Committee on Estimates put out different claims in its report submitted on August 8, 2022. The panel said the corporate tax cut of 2019 had resulted in a negative “revenue impact” of Rs 1.84 lakh crore.”

Corporate tax is paid on corporate profits after accounting for all expenses. As per CMIE, 30,000 companies (5,000 listed and 25,000 unlisted) made a 138% increase in net profits in FY21 over FY20. In FY22, listed companies alone made profits that grew by 66.2% over FY21. As per the SBI research paper, the corporate tax cut contributed 19% to the top line for FY 21. “The corporate tax cut contributed to the increase in corporate profits but didn’t raise corporate tax collections,” he said.

According to the RBI, companies have used the corporate tax cut to service debt, accumulate cash balances, and other current assets rather than restart the CAPEX cycle. “In fact, in FY22 capital expenditure grew by a mere 2.3%, a six-year low. So, there was no investment or job creation due to the corporate tax cut in India, and above this, corporate tax collection fell from Rs 5,56,876 crore in FY20 (actual) to Rs 4,57,719 crore in FY21 (actual) despite the increase in corporate profits,” Vallabh said. He added that tax cuts for the rich lead to income inequality. “In contrast, such reforms do not significantly affect economic growth or unemployment,” Vallabh said.

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PUNJAB POLICE CRACKDOWN ON ABSCONDERS EVADING ARREST

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With the special drive to arrest proclaimed offenders (POs) and absconders in NDPS Act cases entering its 7th week, the weekly arrests of POs and absconders have witnessed a significant surge as Punjab Police has managed to arrest those POs and absconders in NDPS Act cases who have been evading arrest since the 1980s and 1990s. In the last week, there have been 45 such POs/absconders.So far, a total of 186 POs/Absconders in NDPS Act cases have been arrested since July 5, 2022, including 46 nabbed from out of state.

Divulging details, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Headquarters Sukhchain Singh Gill said that Gurdeep Singh alias Kaku of Kotla Hoshiarpur, who was declared PO in November 1985, has been arrested by the Ludhiana Commissionerate Police. Amarjit Singh, a PO from 1988, has been arrested by Fatehgarh Sahib Police, and Mohinder Singh, of village Dabalkheri in Haryana, who was declared PO in 1989, has been arrested by Sangrur Police. Similarly, at least three nabbed POs are those who have been evading arrest since the 1990s, he added.

Giving weekly updates on drugs, the IGP said that Punjab Police have arrested 335 drug smugglers/suppliers after registering 251 first information reports (FIRs), including 22 commercial, under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) act across the state in the last one week.

After conducting cordon and search operations in drug-affected areas and laying nakas at vulnerable routes across the state, the police recovered 9.76Kg of heroin, 8.68Kg of opium, 11.56Kg of Ganja, nine quintals of poppy husk, and 49k tablets/capsules/injections/vials of Pharma opioids, in addition to recovering Rs 40.50 lakh in drug money.

Meanwhile, the DGP has strictly ordered all the CPs/SSPs to further tighten the noose around drug smugglers by identifying all top drug smugglers and the hotspots infamous for drug smuggling in their jurisdictions and launching a combing operation to nab all those selling or smuggling drugs. He also directed the police chiefs to effectively forfeit the property of all the arrested drug smugglers so that their ill-gotten money could be recovered.

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SC TO HEAR UNNAO VICTIM’S PLEA SEEKING TRANSFER OF CASE

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to list the petition filed by Unnao rape survivor seeking the transfer of a criminal case against her in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao to the national capital. A bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana said that it would list the matter after advocate Vrinda Grover mentioned it before the Court for urgent listing.

Approaching the top court, Advocate Grover submitted that a non-bailable warrant (NBW) was issued against her by the Unnao ACJM court in an FIR filed by the father of Shubham Singh, one of three men currently facing trial in New Delhi for gangraping the survivor. She termed the case filed by Singh’s father, which alleged that the age-proof document provided by her (survivor) to the police was forged-a “counterblast FIR”.

She said that the case before the Unnao court is being pursued with the “oblique motive to intimidate, silence, and harass” her and claimed that there was a grave threat to her life in Unnao.

“The criminal case in Unnao may be transferred to Delhi to prevent the judicial process from becoming an instrument of oppression and harassment. The transfer of the trial to Delhi will not prejudice the respondents whatsoever, and the same is in the interest of justice, equity, and due process,” stated the plea.

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