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Goa Pradesh Mahila Congress condemns arrest of activist Disha Ravi by Delhi Police

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Panaji (Goa) [India], February 16 (ANI): Goa Pradesh Mahila Congress on Tuesday condemned the arrest of 21-year-old activist, Disha Ravi by Delhi Police.
“Goa Pradesh Mahila Congress strongly condemns the arrest of 21-year old activist, Disha Ravi by Delhi Police. Stifling the voices of people, especially the young for supporting a cause has become the new modus operandi of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA Government,” read the press release by the Goa Pradesh Mahila Congress.
“Hence this is yet another unsurprising low for the BJP Government which has waged an all out battle against the idea of India and its democracy from the day it came to power,” said Pratima Coutinho,” President of Goa Pradesh Mahila Congress in the release.
Delhi Police Commissioner SN Srivastava on Tuesday said that all procedures were followed in the arrest of activist Disha Ravi for her alleged involvement in preparing a toolkit that details support for farmers protesting against the Central Government’s agricultural laws.
“As far as Disha’s arrest is concerned, it was done as per the procedures,” Srivastava told mediapersons here.
The 21-year-old was arrested from Bengaluru in connection with the formulation and dissemination of the Toolkit document, in the ongoing farmers’ protest. She was one of the editors of the ‘Toolkit’ document.
On February 3, popular Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg had shared this “toolkit” in a tweet which she later deleted. Greta had also extended support to protest by farmer unions on the borders of Delhi against the new farm laws.
Farmers have been protesting on the different borders of the national capital since November 26 against the three newly enacted farm laws: Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and farm Services Act 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. (ANI)

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16,838 new coronavirus infections in India, 113 deaths in last 24 hrs

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New Delhi [India], March 5 (ANI): As many as 16,838 new COVID-19 cases and 113 deaths were reported in India in the last 24 hours, the Union Health Ministry informed on Friday.
With 13,819 new discharges, the cumulative recoveries reached 1,08,39,894.
The country’s coronavirus tally has reached 1,11,73,761 including 1,76,319 active infections while the death toll has mounted to 1,57,548.
According to the health ministry, a total of 1,80,05,503 people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 so far.
Maharashtra continues to remain the most affected COVID-19 state in India with 86,359 active cases, followed by Kerala with 44,734 active infections.
A total of 21,99,40,742 samples tested for COVID-19 up to March 4, 2021, of these, 7,61,834 samples were tested yesterday, as per the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). (ANI)

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Bandh observed in Andhra against privatisation of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant

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Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh) [India], March 5 (ANI): A bandh is being observed in Andhra Pradesh against the Central government’s decision to privatise the Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL) Visakhapatnam, popularly known as Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP).
Nearly all political parties and other organisations in the state, except the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), are taking part in the bandh, in response to a call by VSP workers unions.
The YSRCP-led state government has also expressed solidarity with the bandh and announced that RTC buses will not run today till 1 pm. Buses have been confined to depots and passengers were seen leaving as no transport is available.
A demonstration has been staged at the Pandit Nehru Bus Station.
“Telugu Desam Party, 10 Left parties, YSRCP and the Congress are supporting this bandh call. I request Chief Minister Jaganmohan Reddy to have an all-party meeting. He should also meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi with representatives of all the parties. PM Modi stated very clearly that 100 PSUs will be privatised. This is not a small matter,” Communist Party of India (Marxist) K Ramakrishna told ANI.
“The privatisation of the steel plant is very much opposed in Andhra Pradesh. For the last several days, protests have been taking place. Trade unions and almost all political parties in the state are supporting the bandh. We are glad to see this is support,” P Madhu, State secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) added.
He further hit out at the Central government saying, “The LIC has also been privatised. The sea, the air – everything is going to be handed over to corporates. The Government should take this decision back.”
P Gowtam Reddy, YSRCP leader also demanded the withdrawal of the decision and said, “The government should verify the practicality of this kind of privatisation.” (ANI)

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First consignment of ‘red rice’ from Assam flagged off to US

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New Delhi [India], March 5 (ANI): In a major boost to India’s rice exports potential, the first consignment of ‘red rice’ was flagged off on Thursday to the United States of America (USA).
Iron-rich ‘red rice’ is grown in the Brahmaputra valley of Assam, without the use of any chemical fertilizer. The rice variety is referred as ‘Bao-dhaan’, which is an integral part of Assamese food.
The red rice is being sourced by leading rice exporter – LT Foods. The flagging off ceremony of the export consignments was carried out by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) Chairman Dr M.Angamuthu at Sonepat, Haryana.
As the exports of ‘red rice’ grow, it would enhance the incomes of farming families of the Brahmaputra flood plains, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said in a release.
APEDA, which comes under the department of Commerce of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, has been promoting rice exports through collaborations with various stakeholders in the value chains.
“The government had set up the Rice Export Promotion Forum (REPF), under the aegis of the APEDA. REPF has representations from the rice industry, exporters, officials from APEDA, the ministry of commerce and directors of agriculture from major rice-producing states including West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh and Odisha,” the release said.
During the April to January period of 2020-21, the shipment of non-Basmati rice witnessed an impressive spike.
The non-basmati rice exports were Rs 26,058 crore (3506 US$ Million) during April-January, 2021 against Rs 11,543 crore (1627US$ Million) reported during April-January, 2020 period. The exports of non-Basmati witnessed a growth of 125 per cent in Rupee terms and 115 per cent Dollar terms, the release said. (ANI)

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BJP likely to announce candidates for first two phases of West Bengal, Assam Assembly polls soon

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By Kumar Gaurav
New Delhi [India], March 5 (ANI): The Central Election Committee (CEC) of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has discussed the candidates for two phases of the Assembly elections for West Bengal and Assam. The party is likely to announce the list of candidates for both states soon.
Top leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, BJP chief JP Nadda and other members of the party held a meeting with leaders of Assam and West Bengal on Thursday, here at the party headquarters.
BJP and its two alliance partners have sealed the seat-sharing deal for 126-members Assam Assembly. According to sources, BJP will contest on 92 seats, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) will fight on 26 seats and United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) will field its candidates on 8 seats.
In the meeting held yesterday, the candidates for 84 seats were discussed and finalised, sources said adding that the candidate list is likely to be announced soon after a problem with the alliance partners is sorted out.
In yesterday’s meeting, CEC also discussed the candidate list for the first two phases of seats in West Bengal were discussed and finalised.
Sources said that the crucial constituency Nandigram from where Suvendu Adhikari is the current MLA was also discussed. Adhikari, once a close aide of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader switched to BJP in December, last year.
BJP state leaders want Adhikari to fight against Banerjee from the Nandigram seat. A few days back, Adhikari himself announced that he wants to contest against Banerjee.
The West Bengal Chief Ministere had on January 18 announced that she would contest from Nandigram as well as Bhowanipur seats.
In case, Adhikari does not contest the polls from the Nandigram seat against the TMC chief, then a minister from the Central government is likely to be fielded against Banerjee but the discussion is yet to be finalised, sources said.
After further discussions and issues are resolved, BJP will announce its list of candidates most likely today or tomorrow, sources added.
West Bengal Assembly elections will be held in eight phases starting from March 27 with the final round of voting taking place on April 29.
Assam Assembly elections will be held in three phases beginning from March 27 with the final round of voting taking place on April 6.
The counting of votes in both states will take place on May 2. (ANI)

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Rajnath Singh to attend Combined Commanders’ Conference in Gujarat’s Kevadia today

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New Delhi [India], March 5 (ANI): Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday will attend the Combined Commanders’ Conference (CCC), a premier brain-storming event of the Military Commanders from the three Services commenced at Kevadia in Gujarat yesterday.
Taking to Twitter, Singh informed that India’s security situation and defence preparedness would be reviewed at the conference.
“Leaving for Kevadia, Gujarat on a two-day visit. Shall attend the Combined Commanders’ Conference, where India’s security situation and defence preparedness would be reviewed. Looking forward to it,” the Defence Minister tweeted.
According to the ministry, the combined apex level military leadership of the country is reviewing the security situation and defence preparedness of the Armed Forces and deliberating pertinent organisational issues for evolving a joint military vision for the future during the three-day conference from March 4 to 6.
The valedictory session on the third and final day will be chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval also in attendance.
In a major change from the past, the scope of the conference this year has been expanded to make it a multi-layered, interactive, informal and informed event with the added participation of about 30 officers and soldiers of various ranks from the three Services, the ministry further stated. (ANI)

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Reporting India – My Seventy-Year Journey as a Journalist by Prem Prakash: A review by Ambassador A R Ghanashyam

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New Delhi [India], March 5 (ANI): “Reporting India – My Seventy-Year Journey as a Journalist” is a “look back and recall with nostalgia” account of independent India’s history seamlessly intertwined with his own life’s journey by author Prem Prakash who has had the priceless privilege of witnessing the making of history in the times and tenures of all the Prime Ministers of India from behind his camera.
A superb storyteller, he has also explained beautifully in the book the metamorphosis of the industry of News, Television, Cable, Internet and the latest Satellite communication systems over the decades while depicting the happenings in the world to the world and that is a bonus.
The book’s timeline runs parallel to India’s modern history. Independent India has witnessed seventeen free and fair Parliamentary Elections with fourteen Prime Ministers at the helm of affairs. The country has negotiated a fascinating, at times treacherous, journey replete with five wars (1948, 1962, 1965, 1971 and 1999) and any number of floods, famines, droughts and diseases not to forget the brutal assassinations of two Prime Ministers and the mysterious demise of a third one. There is also a stretch of 21 months during 1975-77 when the country was put under emergency by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi when fundamental rights of citizens were suspended. The author was also a victim. The mindless mayhem of state-sponsored cross border terrorism which began towards the end of the eighties continues in Jammu and Kashmir.
In Reporting India the author narrates many personal eye-witness accounts including the India-China 1962 War, India -Pakistan 1965 War with interesting details of subsequent Tashkent Agreement, the 1971 War and the creation of Bangladesh and the most recent 1999 Kargil War. The breathtaking political developments and major policy turns and twists in governance during various governments of India, the revealing stories of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy (1984), Operation Blue Star in the Golden Temple in Amritsar (1984), the story of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka and the attack on Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in Sri Lanka (1987), The India -Pakistan Summit in Lahore (1999), the hijacking of the IC-814 (1999) and the India-Pakistan Summit in Agra (2001) not to forget the war, Taliban and the politics of terror in neighbouring Afghanistan and more make the book an enjoyable and educative read for students, scholars and connoisseurs of history alike.
When India attained independence in 1947, the country’s population was 340 million and the GDP was INR 2.7 trillion – a paltry 3% of the global GDP. Life expectancy was a dismal 32 years and the literacy rate an abysmal 17%. During 1950-51 the contributions to the GDP by agriculture, industry and services sectors were 56%, 15% and 29% respectively. Agriculture employed the largest work-force of 72 per cent with the Manufacturing and Services accounting for 10% and 18% jobs respectively. Former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh once lamented, “The brightest jewel in the British Crown was the poorest country in the world in terms of per capita income at the beginning of the 20th century.”
After century-long handling of India by the East India Company and another century when it was directly under the British Crown, the India of 1947 was not very different from what Dr Singh opined. Be that as it may, before the onset of corona-19, India was the 5th largest economy in the world in Purchase Power Parity terms which is an amazing feat. How individual Prime Ministers of India starting with Pandit Nehru tried to build a modern India from the debris of two centuries’ rule by the British Empire is in itself a great story and has been narrated by many authors, Indian as well as foreign. The book under review is unique since it is narrated by an Indian journalist associated life-long feeding news to western News Agencies in addition to his own Indian outfit.
The memories of the author from his childhood days in Chandni Chowk and the tense times of hosting near and dear ones who had arrived from erstwhile West Pakistan after partition in the home of the author’s parents makes a poignant beginning for the book. The story of how the Gulmohar enclave was planned and built for journalists with help from Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri reveals how Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri resolved a tricky issue. The setting up and consolidation of the Asian News International (ANI) and the impact of newer and better technologies over decades and many a revealing personal anecdote with individual Prime Ministers and other leaders have been interwoven with the main narrative with finesse.
This was an unputdownable book. But it ended too quickly and early leaving the reader longing for more. That was perhaps because the story was big and the author had planned a smaller canvas and not desired a magnum opus. It is a well written good read and go for it book. I strongly recommend it.
(Disclaimer: The author of this article is former Indian Ambassador A R Ghanashyam) (ANI)

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