Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has kept the crucial Home Department portfolio with himself and Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav has taken charge of the Health Department’s portfolio in the first Cabinet expansion of the newly formed Mahagathbandhan government in Bihar.
JD(U) leader Vijay Kumar Chaudhary got the Finance Department and RJD leader Tej Pratap Yadav was given charge of Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
Of the 31 ministers sworn into the Bihar cabinet, 16 were from Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), 11 were from Nitish’s Janta Dal-United (JD-U), two were from Congress and one was from Hindustani Awam Morch (HAM) and one was an Independent lawmaker.
Shortly after the cabinet ministers were sworn in Chief Minister Nitish Kumar told reporters that the portfolios will be allocated soon to each minister and will hold a meeting in this regard.
The new ministers were administered the oath of office and secrecy by Bihar Governor Phagu Chauhan at Raj Bhavan here.
Two legislators from the Congress, one from Jitin Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha and the lone Independent MLA, Sumit Kumar Singh, also took oath as cabinet ministers.
From RJD, Deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav’s brother Tej Pratap Yadav, Samir Kumar Mahaseth, Chandrashekhar, Kumar Sarvajeet, Lalit Yadav, Surendra Prasad Yadav, Ramanand Yadav, Jitendra Kumar Rai, Anita Devi and Sudhakar Singh and Alok Mehta took oath.
Congress legislators Afaque Alam and Murari Lal Gautam were inducted into the cabinet as ministers, while Hindustani Awam Morcha’s Santosh Suman was also sworn in.
The Bihar cabinet can have up to 36 ministers, including the Chief Minister. Some ministerial berths will be kept vacant for future cabinet expansion, sources said.
The Bihar Grand Alliance has a combined strength of 163. Its effective strength climbed to 164 after Independent MLA Sumit Kumar Singh extended its support to Nitish Kumar. The new government is likely to prove majority in the Bihar assembly on August 24.
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Ajay Devgn receives best actor honour for ‘Tanhaji’
Bollywood actor Ajay Devgn on Friday was conferred with the National Award for Best Actor and Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment for ‘Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior’ at the 68th National Film Awards.
For the award ceremony, the actor donned a black suit as he received the award from President Droupadi Murmu. ‘Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior’ was directed by Om Raut and released on 10 January 2020. This film was the 100th film in Devgn’s career spanning 30 years.
The movie also features Saif Ali Khan, Kajol and Sharad Kelkar. It collected over Rs 368 crore worldwide at the box office and was declared the highest grosser of the year.
The film involved Ajay in the role of Maratha warrior Taanaji Malusare, fighting for the principle of ‘Bhagwa’ (saffron) flag, ‘Swaraj’ (home-rule) and ‘Satya’ (truth).
Kajol essayed the role of the wife of Tanhaji — Savitribai Malusare — a strong character, who accompanied him in taking firm decisions. Saif played the antagonist, Uday Bhan, a Rajput official who works for Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.
This win marks Ajay’s third National award after ‘Zakhm’ in 1998 and ‘The Legend of Bhagat Singh’ in 2020. Along with the ‘Golmaal’ actor, South star Suriya also won the Best Actor honour for ‘Soorarai Pottru’.
The 68th National Film Awards were announced by a jury back in July 2022 at the National Media Centre in New Delhi. The jury comprised eminent filmmakers and film personalities from across Indian cinema.
Tharoor’s blunder, shows distorted map of India
Congress presidential candidate Shashi Tharoor has landed in a controversy on Friday as the manifesto shared by him for the election shows a “distorted map of India” in which he has omitted parts of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
He shared the distorted map of India, where he talked about ‘decentralization of the organization’. The goof-up by Tharoor, who is running for the president’s post of the country’s oldest party does not show good precedent. Later, Tharoor rectified the blunder by replacing it with the correct map of India in his election manifesto.
This is not the first time the Lok Sabha MP has shared a distorted map of India. Earlier in 2019, Tharoor shared a ‘distorted’ map of India on Twitter. The northernmost territory of the country was missing from the map shared by the Congress leader.
In December 2019, he shared the cover of a booklet about the Kerala Congress’s protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). He later deleted the tweet and rectified his mistake.
Later, Tharoor issued a clarification over the map blunder in his manifesto stating that “no one does such things on purpose” and added that team of volunteers had committed a mistake.
RBI hikes repo rate by 50 bps, inflation pegged at 6.7%
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Friday hiked repo rate by 50 basis points to 5.90 per cent in order to control the rising inflation, keeping in line with the aggressive policies of central banks and the volatile markets prevalent across economies. RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das announced this here.
In the meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) that started on Wednesday, five of the members of the MPC voted to hike the key lending rate, repo rate, by 50-basis points (bps).
The rates for the standing deposit facility (SDF) and the marginal standing facility (MGF) were also raised by 50 basis points to 5.65 per cent and 6.15 per cent, respectively.
The central bank had already hiked the key policy rate by 140 bps since May to 5.4 per cent to cool off domestic retail inflation that has stayed above the RBI’s upper tolerance limit of 6 per cent each month this year.
The MPC is responsible for fixing the benchmark interest rate in India.
PFI office bearers involved in bogus cash donations: ED
After seven days of custodial interrogation of the office bearers of the Popular Front of India (PFI), the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday informed the court that the “investigation into the accused persons has revealed that they have played an active role in bogus cash donations on behalf of PFI and in claiming and projecting PFI’s unaccounted cash raised through unknown and suspicious sources as untainted and legitimate.”
ED also stated that the PMLA investigation has revealed that as a part of a criminal conspiracy hatched by PFI office bearers over the past many years, suspicious funds from within the country and abroad have been raised by PFI and related entities and have been clandestinely remitted to India in a concealed manner and deposited in their bank accounts over the years.
These funds have been raised as a part of the scheduled offence of criminal conspiracy. The funds so raised/collected by PFI are thus nothing but proceeds of crime which they have layered, placed and integrated through their numerous bank accounts as well as those of their members/sympathizers. Thus PFI and its related entities have been involved in the continuous offence of money laundering over the years, the ED said.
The Enforcement Directorate through Advocate Naveen Kumar Matta, while seeking judicial custody of the accused stated that the investigation in the case is still continuing and requires the gathering of additional evidence and examination and confrontation of voluminous data extracted from digital devices which is still under progress.
Hence, the judicial custody of the accused i.e. Perwez Ahmed, Md. Iliyas and Abdul Muqeet during the period of investigation are warranted to ensure that they do not influence the witnesses and do not tamper with or destroy the material evidence related to the case. After taking note of the submissions of ED, the Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Shailender Malik decided to send all three accused to Judicial Custody for 14 days after ED didn’t seek further custodial remand of them.
PM Modi to launch 5G services in India on Saturday
Ushering a new era in technology, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to launch 5G services in India on Saturday. The services will be launched in select cities initially and progressively cover the entire country over the next couple of years.
According to the Ministry of Communications, the launch of 5G services follows years of intense preparation. Recently, 5G spectrum auctions were conducted successfully and 51,236 MHz was allocated to Telecom Service Providers with a gross revenue of Rs 1,50,173 crore. 5G services seek to provide seamless coverage, high data rate, low latency, and highly reliable communications system.
“5G can unleash new economic opportunities and societal benefits giving it the potential for being a transformational force for Indian society. It will help the country leapfrog the traditional barriers to development, spur innovations by startups and business enterprises as well as advance the ‘Digital India’ vision. The cumulative economic impact of 5G on India is expected to reach USD 450 billion by 2035,” the ministry said.
On the occasion, the three major telecom operators of the country will demonstrate one use case each in front of the Prime Minister to show the potential of 5G technology in India.
Reliance Jio will connect a teacher from a school in Mumbai with students in three different locations in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Odisha. This will demonstrate how 5G will facilitate education by bringing teachers closer to students, obliviating the physical distance between them. It will demonstrate the power of Augmented Reality (AR) on screen and how that is being used to teach children across the country, remotely, without the need of an AR device.
In the Airtel demo, a girl from Uttar Pradesh will witness a lively and immersive education experience to learn about the solar system with the help of Virtual reality and Augmented reality.
Putin annexes 4 Ukrainian regions, U.S. says it will impose ‘severe cost’ on Russia
In a big move, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday formally announced the annexation of four regions – Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia and claimed that “this is the will of millions of people,” media reports said. Immediately after the annexation, the United States announced that it will impose “swift and severe cost” on Russia.
In a lengthy speech declaring the annexation of Ukrainian territories in the St George’s Hall at a Kremlin ceremony, Putin said, “There are four new regions of Russia.” Putin also added that Russia would now defend its new territory “with all the means at its disposal.” Putin said the residents in the four annexed regions will now be Russia’s “citizens forever”.
While denying seeking revival of the Soviet Union by the said annexation, Putin accused Western states – which have imposed sweeping sanctions on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
Defending its decision to go ahead with the referendum and announce the annexation of the region, the Russian President argued it was the “integral right” of people in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia to join Russia, reported Al Jazeera.
Speaking further, Putin claimed that the people in eastern Ukraine made up of Donetsk and Luhansk – had been “victims of inhumane terrorist attacks conducted by the Kyiv regime”. He also called the result of the referendum “the will of millions of people.”
Reacting sharply to the development, the Biden administration official in a statement said, “The Treasury Department, US government and our allies will not hesitate to take swift and severe actions against individuals and companies inside and outside of Russia who are complicit in this war and these sham referendums.” Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden condemned Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory on Friday. “The United States condemns Russia’s fraudulent attempt today to annex sovereign Ukrainian territory. Russia is violating international law, trampling on the United Nations Charter, and showing its contempt for peaceful nations everywhere,” according to the statement released by the White House.
Calling the annexation, “illegal” Biden said that the US will always honour Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders and will continue to support the country’s effort to regain control of its territory by strengthening its hand militarily and diplomatically. He further said that the USD 1.1 billion in additional security assistance that the United States announced this week also helped Ukraine. “We will continue to provide Ukraine with the equipment it needs to defend itself, undeterred by Russia’s brazen effort to redraw the borders of its neighbour,” the statement reads. In another development, the UN Security Council is set to vote Friday on a resolution that would seek to condemn Russia for its referenda in four regions under Russian control but claimed by Ukraine, media reports said. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also reacted to say any annexation of a state’s territory by another state resulting from a “threat or use of force” is a violation of the UN charter and international law.
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