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Post Diwali, Delhi wakes up to dusk at dawn

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Post Thursday’s Diwali, residents of the National Capital Region (NCR) woke up to a thick blanket of smog on Friday as pollution levels in Delhi-NCR shot up to “hazardous” levels, with air quality index (AQI) in Delhi and its neighbouring areas crossing the 450-mark (the government mandates air quality index above 350 as hazardous).

The Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 concentration in Delhi’s Anand Vihar remained around the 467-mark throughout the day on Friday, while at New Delhi’s Mandir Marg the PM 2.5 concentration was recorded to be around 464 on Friday evening, according to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data.

Pollution levels across all stations in Delhi-NCR remained at the “hazardous” level throughout the day on Friday, with a thick smog turning the capital city’s daylight into dusk.

The neighbouring cities of Gurgaon, Noida and Faridabad also recorded AQI levels of more than 450 throughout Friday, making it the season’s most polluted air quality so far.

The PM 2.5 level in Gurgaon was around 475 throughout Friday, while in Haryana’s Faridabad the AQI levels were over 490 on Friday. In Noida, the PM 2.5 level was also around 479, according to CPCB data.

AQI is to measure the concentration of poisonous particulate matter, PM 2.5 in per cubic metre of air. PM 2.5 is a very tiny particulate matter in the air, which is five times finer than a human hair and has the ability to penetrate into the lungs and cardiovascular system of human beings.

The WHO recommended mandate for healthy air is when PM 2.5 remains around 5 to 10 micrograms per cubic metre of air, while Delhi-NCR is witnessing 90 times’ the rise in poisonous particulate matter.

Several people across Delhi-NCR complained of itchy throat, watery eyes and an irritable nose, since Friday morning, as the cracker ban in Delhi-NCR went up in the smoke, drastically increasing the pollution levels.

Crackers in Delhi were being burnt since Thursday evening and went on into early Friday morning, this despite the Supreme Court as well the Delhi government issuing strong orders against sale and use of crackers in Delhi and NCR. However, little compliance could be witnessed in the Capital.

However, according to Delhi Police, the cops have been able to arrest 143 people on the Diwali night for failing to comply with the cracker ban order of the city’s government. While the Police registered over 210 cases of cracker ban in Delhi.

The matter was compounded by stubble burning in Punjab, which caused major smog to shroud the whole of Delhi-NCR.

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6 people of the same family found dead in jammu

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In Jammu, six family members were discovered deceased on Wednesday in strange circumstances at their homes. According to news agency ANI, two of the six bodies retrieved were located in one house and four more were discovered in another house in Tawi Vihar, a neighbourhood on the outskirts of Jammu city in the Sidhra region. The cause of death is still unknown.

Inquest proceedings have been started in accordance with Section 174 of the CrPC, and the bodies have been moved to the Government Medical College and Hospital for the post-mortem.

The deceased has been identified as Sakina Begum, the widow of the late Ghulam Hassan; her two children, Naseema Akhter and Rubina Bano; her son Zafar Salim; and two relatives, Noor Ul Habib and Sajad Ahmad.

Police have initiated an investigation and further details are awaited.

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S Jaishankar on buying Russian oil: ‘duty towards the people’

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S Jaishankar

The world has somewhat accepted New Delhi’s stance on buying Russian oil in light of Moscow’s ongoing conflict in Ukraine, according to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, because New Delhi has not been defensive about its choice and instead has helped other nations understand the responsibility they have to their citizens.

“Once you lay it out very openly and honestly, people accept it.” Jaishankar remarked, “They may not always appreciate it, but once it is there and you are not trying to be too clever about it, you actually have laid out your interest in a very direct manner, my sense is that the world somewhat accepts that as reality,” addressing a meeting with the Indian community in Bangkok, Jaishankar remarked.

Jaishankar, who has frequent liaison with Americans, remarked, “I do see that—not just in the United States but including the US—that they know what our position is and they move on with that.”

Since Europe is buying less oil from Russia, many of India’s suppliers have switched their shipments to Europe, according to the foreign minister. “Oil prices are unreasonably high, and so are gas prices. A lot of traditional suppliers to Asia are diverting to Europe because Europe is buying less oil from Russia. It is a situation today where every country will try to get the best deal possible for its citizens to try to cushion the impact of these high energy prices. And that is exactly what we are doing,” Jaishankar said.

“We are not doing it in a defensive way. We are being very open and honest about our interests. I have a country which has a per capita income of two thousand dollars. These are not people who can afford higher energy prices. It is my obligation, my moral duty to actually ensure that I get them the best deal,” he further added.

In light of India’s continued purchase of Russian oil, questions regarding the relations between India and the US were put to the foreign minister. To participate in the 9th India-Thailand Joint Commission Meeting as both nations commemorate 75 years of the start of diplomatic relations, Jaishankar arrived in Thailand on Tuesday. Following the meeting, India and Thailand will sign their MoUs.

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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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