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India is likely to block its mobile carriers from using telecom equipment made by China’s Huawei, Reuters quoted two government officials as saying, under procurement rules due to come into force in June.

India is wary about awarding new technology business to Chinese firms both because of security fears and a desire to get Indian manufacturers to produce more telecoms equipment.

India’s telecoms department said on Wednesday that after 15 June carriers can only buy certain types of equipment from government-approved “trusted sources” and said New Delhi could also create a “no procurement” blacklist. Huawei is likely to feature on this embargoed list, the two officials, who declined to be named, told Reuters.

“We cannot prioritise economic gains if an investment poses national security risk,” one of the officials said.

The telecoms department, which did not comment on Thursday about Huawei, is yet to provide further details on the plans for trusted sources or a procurement blacklist.

However, a third official, who also declined to be named, told Reuters that ZTE Corp, another Chinese firm which has a smaller presence in India, could also be excluded.

Huawei and ZTE are under scrutiny for allegedly installing “backdoor” vulnerabilities to spy for the Chinese government.

Both have denied the allegations and Huawei has previously told Reuters it is ready to enter into a “no backdoor” deal with India to allay security concerns.

Huawei and ZTE did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.

Two of India’s three big telecoms carriers, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, use Huawei gear. Any restriction on Huawei gear is likely to push up costs, industry analysts say.

The Chinese firm’s equipment and network maintenance contracts are typically cheaper than European competitors such as Ericsson and Nokia and there is limited availability of such gear in India.

India has begun to fast-track approvals of some of the more than 150 Chinese investment proposals worth over $2 billion it had put on hold after a June standoff between the two neighbours on the disputed Himalayan border.

“We have started giving some approvals to investment proposals even from China, but we will not give any approvals in sectors like telecom infrastructure and financials,” a senior government official told Reuters.

The officials also said that India is unlikely to overturn last year’s ban on more than 100 Chinese mobile apps or allow Chinese companies to bid for stakes in state-run firms such as Air India and refiner Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd. WITH REUTERS INPUTS

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Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday ordered proprietary rights for 3,245 slum households in three districts under the BASERA scheme, with directives to complete the process of grant of such rights to a total of 40000 households by September this year.

Chairing the second meeting of the Empowered Committee under the Chief Minister’s Slum Development Programme – ‘BASERA’, Captain Amarinder asked the concerned department to expedite the process of verification and grant of proprietary rights in order to benefit the maximum slum dwellers in the state. He reviewed the progress made so far under the scheme by various districts.

The 3,245 households approved for proprietary rights are located at 12 slum sites in the districts of Faridkot, Sangrur and Fazilka.

Till date, 186 slums having 21,431 households have been identified in 20 districts, wherein the verification process is being carried out full swing, the Chief Minister was informed. The virtual meeting was further apprised that the verification of 25,000 households shall be completed within the next two months and the process of granting proprietary rights to eligible slum-dwellers shall be initiated simultaneously. The verification of 40,000 households shall be completed by September 2021, it was decided at the meeting.

The Empowered Committee, at the two meetings held so far, has given approvals, under the scheme, for 21 slums involving 4705 households, spread over Moga, Bathinda, Fazilka, Patiala, Sangrur and Faridkot districts. The identification of another 186 slums, involving approximately 22,000 households, is currently underway.

The scheme, aimed at helping slum-dwellers realise their dream of owning a home, was launched in January this year by the Chief Minister as a visionary step towards inclusive urban development and planning.

Punjab is the first state in the country to launch such a scheme for conferring proprietary rights to every slum household occupying state government land in a slum in any urban area on the date of notification of ‘The Punjab Slum Dwellers (Proprietary Rights) Act, 2020’, i.e., 1st April 2020.

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Maharashtra SSC, HSC exams postponed amid corona crisis

Preeti Sompura



Maharashtra government on Tuesday postponed the date of SSC (class 10th) and HSC (class 12th) board exams which were scheduled to be held in April in view of a steep rise in Covid-19 cases in the state. The board exams of class 12th, which were to begin from 23 April, will be held in May. The board exams of class 10th, which were to start from 30 April, will take place in June.

The decision was taken in a meeting between Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Maharashtra School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad after consultations with various stakeholders: students, teachers, parents, elected representatives from across parties, academicians and tech giants.

“Given the current #Covid-19 situation in Maharashtra, we’ve postponed state board exams for class 10th and 12th. The present circumstances are not conducive for holding exams. Your health is our priority,” said Gaikwad.

“During the consultations, various alternative assessment options were evaluated keeping the health, well-being, and future of our students in mind. Postponing exams seemed to be the most pragmatic solution. We’ll also be writing to the CBSE, ICSE, IB, and Cambridge boards, requesting them to reconsider their exams dates,” she wrote on Twitter.

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Chandigarh: In wake of the surge in Corona cases in Haryana, the government has imposed night curfew in the state. It is pertinent to mention that the Home Minister Anil Vij had already warned and appealed to the people saying that they should follow the guidelines properly so that the deadly disease can be controlled immediately. In case people don’t do the same, it will make the government come up with strict measures. The casual approach of the people towards the disease has compelled the state government to impose the night curfew which will be in force from 9 pm to 5 am till further orders. Anil Vij, the Home Minister of the state also shared the information regarding the same on social media platform.

The order issued by the Haryana State Disaster Management Authority clearly says that any person violating the norms will be liable to be proceeded as per the provision of Section 51 to 60 of the Disaster Management Act 2005 besides taking legal action under Section 188 of the IPC and other legal provisions as applicable. In view of the emergent nature of the order, it is being ex-parte and is addressed to the public in general. There shall be prohibition on movement of individuals for all non-essentials activities. No persons shall leave their home and move on foot or by vehicle or stand or roam around on road or public places during the above said period. The activities belonging to essential services in hospitals, chemist shops, and ATMs shall be allowed. Besides, the movement of pregnant women and patients getting medical-health services along with those passengers going and returning from airport or railway stations will be exempted. Besides, there shall be no curbs on inter-state and intra-state movement of essential and non-essential goods. All vehicles/persons in bonafide transit (inter- state/intra-state) shall be allowed to pass, but only after verification of point of origin and destination.

It is worth mentioning that Haryana continues to witness more than 2200 cases a day which has put the health department in a state of problems. Besides, more than 10 deaths per day are being reported in the state, which is an alarming situation. Besides, a huge decrease has been reported in the recovery rate.

“The health department continues to mull every possible strategy to tackle the disease in the state and no stone is being left unturned to control the disease”, said Director General ,Health Dr. Veena Singh. In wake of this, sufficient arrangements are being made to increase awareness so that the infection can be controlled, she added.

Apart from this, it is learnt that the way cases are getting increased, the government is likely to come up with some strict decisions in future which would undoubtedly lead to spurt in the problems for everyone. The experts are of the opinion that the rise in the cases has left the government with no options except imposing night curfew. 

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Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday alleged that it was West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who instigated people to snatch away the guns from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), which led to firing in Cooch Behar on Saturday that resulted in the death of four people.

Addressing a public meeting in Dhupguri, Amit Shah said, “The fourth phase polls were held in North Bengal. Didi instigated people and told them to gherao CRPF and loot them. People listened to her, weapons were snatched, bullets were fired and four people died. Didi had you not instigated them they would not have died.”

“A fifth person also died. A youth, Anand Burman had gone to cast his vote but TMC goons shot him dead. Didi is speaking about the four but nothing on Anand Burman. Why? It’s because he belonged to the Rajbongshi community that is not a part of her vote bank,” he added.

Shah said that Banerjee criticising the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is a futile exercise. “Didi is abusing BJP unnecessarily. You are mistaken that BJP is contesting against you. It is the mothers, sisters of North Bengal, Rajbongshi community, the Gorkha community, the tea garden workers, the farmers who are contesting against you.”

“If you listen to Didi’s speeches you will find that she talks more about me than she talks about Bengal. Now it is being said ‘Amit Shah resign’. I will resign the day people of Bengal ask me to. But you will be ready with your resignation on May 2,” he further said.

Amit Shah said BJP will not only form the government in West Bengal, but it will do so with absolute majority.

Polling for the first four phases in West Bengal already took place. Violence erupted at a polling booth in Cooch Behar during the fourth round of polling. The ruling TMC alleged that Central Forces opened fire twice at polling booths in Cooch Behar where people were casting their votes. Official sources in Cooch Behar had earlier confirmed the death of four people in firing.

Polling for the first four phases has been concluded in West Bengal. The fifth and sixth phases of the ongoing elections will take place on 17 April and 22 April. Counting of votes will take place on 2 May.

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A day after BJP knocked at Election Commission (EC) doors over TMC candidate Sujata Mondal’s remarks allegedly against the Dalit community, the saffron party on Monday approached the Scheduled Caste Commission, demanding strict action be taken against her for allegedly likening Dalits with beggars.

A party delegation led by Dushyant Gautam, BJP Rajya Sabha MP, met SC Commission chairperson Vijay Sampla and submitted the memorandum for the same. The delegation also had singer turned politician and Karol Bagh MP Hansraj Hans and Sunita Duggal, who represents Hisar constituency in Loksabha. Later, speaking with media persons at the BJP HQ, Gautam said the remarks made by Sujata Mondal has exposed the very anti-Dalit mindset of the TMC and added that the growing support for BJP has baffled Trinamool Congress.

“TMC leaders can’t digest the fact that Dalits are realising how Trinamool have always exploited them for electoral gains and therefore, now shifting towards BJP after being impressed by the leadership of PM Modi. This has rattled Mamata Banerjee and her cadre and such statements are actually manifestation of their frustration.”

Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, Sampla, SC Commission chairperson, said that notices have been issued to West Bengal Chief Secretary, State and Central Chief Election Commissioner and DGP to know about their stance on the entire row since the onus to conduct smooth elections lies on them.

On Sunday, the BJP had filed a complaint before the EC against Mondal, who has allegedly described Scheduled Caste voters as “beggars by nature” in a video clip which has now gone viral in the poll-pound state.

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HC tears into Gujarat govt’s ‘inaction’ on Covid front

Abhijit Bhatt



Taking a serious note of reports that Gujarat’s health machinery has failed to handle the worsening condition of Covid-19 in the state, the Gujarat High Court on Monday slammed the state government and asked it some scathing questions during the hearing of a suo motu PIL.

The HC questioned some policies of the government: Why is Remdesivir injection available in one place? Why can’t people get injections at home? If there are enough beds and oxygen in hospitals? Why is there a line of 40 ambulances outside hospitals? With such questions, the High Court has directed the government to take immediate action. The PIL, titled “Uncontrolled Rise in Covid Control and Serious Management Issues”, will now have a further hearing on 15 April at 11 am.

A bench led by Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Bhargava D. Karia held a hearing on the PIL registered suo motu on Sunday. Advocate General Kamal Trivedi is representing on behalf of the Gujarat government and Chief Secretary of Gujarat Anil Mukim, Additional Secretary of Health Department Dr Jayanti Ravi and Health Commissioner Jayaprakash Shivahare participated in the hearing online. The bench expressed displeasure over the government’s policies in handling Covid-19. The HC questioned the shortage of Remdesivir injections as well as the large number of people gathering in public places.

After the cases came down, the government forgot in February that Covid-19 was there, the Chief Justice said. “You say, but here the situation is different. Tests for normal people take five days, you know? Not knowing what is going on in other states. We want to know what happens in Gujarat.” Advocate General Kamal Trivedi said that some people take the test only to allay their fears. “It’s not fun to get someone tested,” he said.

At one point in the hearing, the government argued that reports in the media were unfounded and irresponsible. Hearing the argument, the bench reacted sharply, saying: “We look at both media reports and the actual situation. On the contrary, the media is now doing responsible journalism. Instead, the government will present an affidavit of any action taken by the 14th and the next hearing is scheduled on the 15th.”

At one stage, the HC Chief Justice had stopped the public prosecutor from comparing Gujarat with other states. He said, “We don’t need to compare any other state. If we are in Gujarat, talk about Gujarat. Though we are so modern, why is this situation? Even today, it takes 4-5 days for a common man to get the result of RT-PCR test. Reports are received by evening if there is a VIP. Why is Remdesivir not available in private hospitals? If there was a long line outside Zydus, why does one agency have all the control?”

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