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Wednesday, December 09, 2020

China and Pakistan sign military deal amid tensions with India

By on Wednesday, December 09, 2020

  PLA official calls for higher level ties to jointly cope with various risks and challenges

China and Pakistan have signed a new military memorandum of understanding to boost their already close defence relationship, as China’s Defence Minister and People’s Liberation Army (PLA) General Wei Fenghe met Pakistan’s leadership in Islamabad and visited the headquarters of the army at Rawalpindi. Gen. Wei on Tuesday met Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan. He called on both countries to “push the military-to-military relationship to a higher level, so as to jointly cope with various risks and challenges, firmly safeguard the sovereignty and security interests of the two countries and safeguard the regional peace and stability,” Chinese State media reported.

On Monday, the two militaries signed an MoU following Gen. Wei’s meeting with Pakistan’s Chief of the Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, at the General Headquarters, according to reports in the Pakistani media. Both “exchanged in-depth views on the international and regional situations, the relations between the two countries and militaries, the equipment and technology cooperation and other issues”, a report in China’s official media said.

While details of the new MoU were not immediately available, it follows another agreement signed last year, when China’s Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) General Xu Qiliang visited Rawalpindi for defence cooperation and “capacity building of the Pakistan

International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2020

By on Wednesday, December 09, 2020

  On International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) 2020, WHO raised awareness on the need to respond to the needs of people with disability in all aspects of society, including during the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of fostering an inclusive culture, and the complete realization of the human rights of all persons with disabilities as an integral part of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Key messages for IDPD 2020

1. Disability is part of the human experience.

2. WHO recognizes that a world where all people attain the highest possible standard of health and well-being is only possible if health systems are inclusive of people with disability.

3. People with disability have been amongst the most vulnerable populations during the current COVID-19 outbreak due to many health, social and environmental barriers, discriminatory attitudes and inaccessible infrastructure.

4. The COVID-19 pandemic provides a unique opportunity to build back better our health systems so that they are more inclusive and responsive to the needs and human rights of people experiencing disability in all their diversity.

5. Countries need to shift towards a service delivery system rooted in the communities, reaching out and empowering people with disability.

Since 40 months in UP -- 650 employees without salaries!

By on Wednesday, December 09, 2020

  Mr Ram Dhyan Singh employee of Kalyan Nigam Varanasi depot was suffering from pancreatic cancer.

The ill, Mr Singh, was operated on 27 December last year and later 3 days of his treatment he died.

The marriage of one of his 3 surviving daughter was matched; but the paucity of fund for the dowry estranged the tie up of being married.

The daughter Anushka sent a letter to the CM narrating the whole tragic story; requested to be employed on the death compensation to the dependents; voiced up to pay the outstanding dues of 40 months salary, the provident fund and the gratuity -- but no avail so far.

The family is facing the difficulties of economic crunch.

It's not mere the tragedy and difficulties of Mr Ram Dhyan Singh's family who is suffering from the apathy of top officials of Karmchari Kalyan Nigam.

The Union Government and the state government both declined to approve this Nigam of their GST shares relaxation in the matter of providing tax free consumer goods to the employees since the GST imposed; and Nigam shut down.

Besides the secretriate Nigam has 160 Depot in the different cities of Uttar Pradesh. There are 650 employees who haven't got their salaries for about 30 to 40 months.

The retirement benefits are not being paid to the retired and to the next kin of dead employees. About 100 cases like this are still pending to be considered.

Liability of more than Rs 80 crore is still pending for the working and for the retired employees. The Employees Federation President, Satish Pandey, and  Nigam Employee President Manoj Misra both are ire  over the apathy of secretriate level officers who are not taking the decision.

They told that in the case of one employee Sri Kant Dwevedi and others have been heard in Allahabad High Court on 26 November this month.

Principal Secretary Food and Supply Nivedita Shukla Verma  had appeared before the court with an affidavit and said that the Government has not approved the relaxation in the GST, the problem of salary payment is under consideration at the secretriate level. Court has asked to the present Principal Secretary to submit the update.

On 26 November hearing in court  Principal Secretary of government of Uttar Pradesh Beena Kumar Meena has submitted the affidavit that all the employees in the Nigam are irregular; so they can neiter be re-employed nor be retired except those who are working in the head quarters. 

It is not the responsibility of the secretriate to pay the outstanding salary and the other dues. 

Court did not listen the  pleas and asked him to solve the problem within 15 days and to file the report. 

The matter has been sent to Chief Minister Office, but still under consideration. 


Indian government honours the names of three journalists for their courage of conviction and honesty

By on Wednesday, December 09, 2020

  As the 50th anniversary of the Liberation of Bangladesh draws near, what also draws near is the 50th anniversary of a genocide so gruesome that it ought not to be allowed to slide into oblivion.

 To begin at the beginning, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was not part of the deception — he was the deception. Having won only 85 seats, Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) had been a runner-up in the elections of December 1970, losing to the Awami League’s 167 seats. In the political stalemate due to then-West Pakistan’s attempt to modify the people’s mandate, Bhutto’s presence in Dhaka, on 25 March 1971 for “talks” with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (the legitimate Prime Minister-Elect for the whole of Pakistan), probably lulled Awami leaders into thinking that “the 26th would be just another Friday, like every other Friday before it”.

Although it was almost an open secret that the thousands of crew-cut youth who had been arriving in civil clothes onboard civil flights, day after day for over a month, were actually soldiers, the Pakistan Army troops in Dhaka had always behaved with deference and remarkable restraint towards Sheikh Mujib – at least on the surface. Despite martial law being in force, the Pakistan Army had withdrawn into their cantonments on 3 March, with nearly no indication that they would not continue to remain there. The sporadic clashes were largely attributed to the eagerness of free agents. After all, Awami supporters were also creating civil nuisance by going on strikes, blocking roads, etc.

So, even after his face-to-face talks with Pakistan’s military ruler Yahya Khan had failed, Sheikh Mujib’s call to his people, “to prepare themselves for an all-out struggle”, was still only a call for non-violent civil resistance. While Yahya left Dhaka, Bhutto stayed to ostensibly ‘continue the talks’ that he had come for. A wily deception.

An H-Hour of 01:00 am on the 26th and the arrest of Mujibur Rahman had already been green-signalled at 11:00 am on 25 March, but Bhutto’s presence had successfully crafted the impression that ‘talks would go on’, creating the belief that the night would be peaceful, and the days ahead conducive for democratic protests through civil disobedience.

Evening of 25 March. The iconic clock of St Thomas had just struck 10, its chimes soothing. But soldiers, many with shawls to hide their insignia, started streaming into the telephone exchanges, radio and TV Stations, teleprinter and telegraph offices, and also around the InterContinental hotel in Dhaka. Even as the last of the city’s busybodies were getting ready for bed, the stroke of 10, that night, was the sign for the Pakistan Army to effectively blockade any foreign journalists who hadn’t already been expelled or left the country on their own, to stop every means of communication, and to quietly encircle Sheikh Mujib’s residence. All of this took them just over an hour. Killings, thus far, remained purposeful – limited to what was necessary to take over control of the communication.

By 30 minutes to midnight, all that changed. The H-Hour had apparently been advanced. And the true purpose of Operation Searchlight harshly shone forth: to kill and show. Each kill had to be a signal to the other Bengalis, and Pakistanis went out of their way to make it so.

Mass deaths

Sheikh Mujib was fortunate in a way, he didn’t have to personally witness all these killings, for at about 1:30 am on the morning of 26 March, he was abducted from his home, flown to Rawalpindi and then taken to solitary confinement in West Pakistan. But his people suffered. The armed soldiers of East Pakistan Rifles, and the armed constables of the local police, were not spared either, if they were Bengalis.

Even the name for their operation was apt. A searchlight can be used either to ‘search for’ or to ‘illuminate’. This operation met both aims. Search out every person suspected of being a politician, a student leader, a teacher of Bangla, or a cultural activist. Don’t hide the deaths, but emphasise the gruesome details of these deaths as symbols and signals to illuminate the choices before people who didn’t kowtow. It was macabre.

“The killing began shortly after 10 pm,” says Mashuqur Rahman, describing the demons of 1971, “in the first 48 hours the orgy of killing had ravaged Dhaka city…… (but)….. the genocide had just begun”.

The intensity of the genocide in Bangladesh surpassed that of the Holocaust. The Nazis had cruelly notched a monthly average of over 80,000 innocent lives between 1941 and 1945, but the Pakistan Army broke the Nazi speed-record five times over in 1971, with their savage murders averaging about 400,000 Bengalis each month, not counting their rapes and other unspeakable atrocities. The ‘Gear 5’ intensity of the Pakistani Genocide stands out — the Pakistanis had committed approximately three million murders in nine months, and more than 200,000 rapes.

And most Western countries looked the other way.

Had India not intervened; had Pakistan been allowed to continue the killings for six years as the Nazis had, there would have been 24 million Bangalis dead, and the Lord knows how many more women violated.

Though the Nuremberg Trials had in no way offset what the European Jews had suffered, they had at least attempted to bring many of the Nazis to justice for murdering an estimated six million Jews.

It is one of the deepest shames of the Seventies, that the Pakistani officers responsible for the murder of nearly three million Bengalis could not be tried for their crimes. India, which had proclaimed East Pakistan a free nation, had to set free 93,000 prisoners of war (PoWs) in order to obtain the release of ‘Bangabandhu’ Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, whose presence was central to the fledgling nation of Bangladesh. Blackstone’s ratio of ten criminals to one innocent, has perhaps never in history been skewed on a grander scale.

 The role of the media

From Governor General Tikka Khan, the infamous ‘Butcher of Bengal’, or his successor General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, to the soldiers who made beauty their booty (to paraphrase Andrew Jackson) – everyone escaped trial.

But, even if so many criminals got away, what ensured that their crimes pierced the world’s conscience? To quote Walter Lippmann, “News and (the) truth are not the same thing”. Indeed, when it comes to news about India, Western media often chooses authors and journalists who tell their readers what they wish to hear. That becomes news. That news becomes cited history, through the sheer perversity of ‘pervasity’ (even if it’s not a real word). Western media is so pervasive that history cannot be written by the victors unless they happen to be from the West.

The news in the West may never have resembled the whole truth even in the 1971 War, had it not been for a few brave souls, thanks to whom the truth of the genocide got through to the Western media, and changed the colour of the “News” as being reported there.

Who are these heroes?

Foremost among them is Archer Kent Blood, who, as the Head of the United States Consulate in Dhaka, sent a series of cables to Washington, commencing with the one on 27 March, which read, “Here in Decca we are mute and horrified witnesses to a reign of terror by the Pak Military….”.

On 6 April 1971, he sent a ‘dissent cable’ (later dubbed ‘The Blood Telegram’) to the US Secretary of State William P. Rogers, which read: “Our government has failed to denounce the suppression of democracy. Our government has failed to denounce atrocities. Our government has failed to take forceful measures to protect its citizens while at the same time bending over backwards to placate the West Pak dominated government and to lessen any deservedly negative international public relations impact against them. Our government has evidenced what many will consider moral bankruptcy,… But we have chosen not to intervene, even morally, on the grounds that the Awami conflict, in which unfortunately the overworked term genocide is applicable, is purely an internal matter of a sovereign state. Private Americans have expressed disgust. We, as professional civil servants, express our dissent with current policy and fervently hope that our true and lasting interests here can be defined and our policies redirected in order to salvage our nation’s position as a moral leader of the free world….”. National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger didn’t react, but the Blood Telegram found its way into the press, and the ‘truth’ suddenly became the ‘news’ in the US. The moment of convergence came in the British media too. First, a small snippet by Simon Dring appeared on the front page of The Daily Telegraph on 30 March 1971. Dring had gone underground just before the murders began, and collected evidence of the atrocities at great risk to himself, but his article failed to really alter the tone of reporting in Western media. Even though the BBC subsequently carried a broadcast made on the 27th  of March 1971 by Major Ziaur Rahman from a small clandestine radio station in Chittagong (reading out Mujibur’s declaration of Bangladeshi independence), it had mostly been interpreted as the justification for a Pakistani crackdown rather than the right way around.

The defining change came when Pakistani journalist Neville Anthony Mascarenhas, penned his article, “Genocide“, in The Sunday Times on 13 June 1971. He had originally been embedded by the Pakistan government with the Pakistani forces in East Pakistan in order to report favourably, but was so disturbed by what he saw that he escaped to the United Kingdom. His article on the Bangladesh genocide has been credited by the BBC as having “exposed for the first time the scale of the Pakistan army’s brutal campaign …”, and indeed even “impelled India to look at a military option to resolve the humanitarian crisis”.

As the 50th anniversary of the Liberation of Bangladesh draws near, what also draws near is the 50th anniversary of a genocide so gruesome that it ill behoves humanity to ever forget it.

It would only be a befitting tribute to the millions of Bengali lives lost in the Pakistani genocide of 1971, that in the year 2021, the Indian government appropriately honours the names of three good men: the Late Archer Blood, the Late Anthony Mascarenhas, and Simon Dring, for their courage of conviction and honesty.

Thanks to them, news came much nearer to the truth.

The contents of this article are the personal views of the author and do not represent official position of the Indian Navy or the Government of India.

Commodore Hari Krishnan is currently Director of the Indian Navy’s Centre for Ethics, Leadership and Behavioural Studies, and has earlier headed the Directorate for Strategy at Naval Headquarters.


Wireless Internet technology for far-flung areas

By on Wednesday, December 09, 2020

  No matter that today the Internet has substituted the essential facility, there are a few other areas where the wireless connectivity is not accessible.

These areas can now be easily linked - and the work has been done by Parthsarathi Trivedi.

Young entrepreneur and founder of Skylo, Parthsarathi Trivedi is making access into the far-flung areas with his technology.

Their start-up model has two characteristics: low-cost Internet services and design, which makes people comfortable purchasing.

This effort can make digital technology accessible to those population who had been deprived because of the infrastructure and were in the weaker section of economy. 

In this way every information and opportunity related to it will open every chances door.

The agriculture and the logistics industries are constantly changing.

Parthsarathi Trivedi is distributing data networks everywhere through Skylo.

He said in a program, "Our aim is to create a world where the presence of connectivity like a sky for sensors, devices and machines should exist everywhere.

This cheapest technology will replace all industries. "

His technology will ease many tasks in the country in the form of distribution management, and rescue management etc.

Parthsarathi took the birth in Kolkotta and he has completed his study at Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. after his degree he began his company Skylo in 2017. he developed a powerful portable antena. The antena is connected from the satelites internet services, and then it provides capable internet conectivities to the hundreds of other devices.

Specialy the antena has been developed for the far-flung  and rural areas.

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

All farmers skirt Delhi border roads: Farmers are hell-bent to move in... at Delhi border!

By on Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Police forces on alert; talk between Union Government and farmer unions is going on

The talks between the farmers with the 3 Union Ministers at Vigyan Bhawan at New Delhi on Tuesday was not conclusive.

The farmer unions have turned down the government's offer of constituting a committee to consider the issues of the agitated farmers in protest against the new agricultural laws.

However the both sides met again on Thursday this week and the government rejected the demand to withdraw the laws.

The government has asked the farmer unions to hand over whatever the objections they do surface against the laws before to come for the talks of next round by the Wednesday this week.

The farmer unions have adamant that the agitation shall be more intense if the government is failed to consider their demands.

35 leaders of farmer unions were on table to talk with the government.

 All India Farmers' struggle Co-ordinating Committee(AIKSCC) has said through releasing a statement that the talks held between the government and the farmers had no conducive result and the proposal of government is unacceptable to the farmers.

"That government's offer of 5 members committee to study the concern of farmers and to pay attention over the objections of farmer unions has been turned down", said in a statement by the farmers.

Mr Narendra Singh Tomar, Union Agriculture Minister, leading the talks on behalf of the government, told that he had talked thoroughly and will resume the talks in next meeting.

The Union Agriculture Ministry said in a release that it was assured in the meeting that the centre had always been committed for the welfare of the farmers and always accomplish to discuss open mind for the farmers welfare.

All the renowned stars of the sports world and the singers from Punjab are going to support this stir and the farmers from Punjab and Haryana are on the move to Delhi.

The farmers are going to be surged on Delhi road.

On appeal of Panchayat of Punjab and Haryana, the medicines, provision (ration)  and the other essential commodities are being gathered for the farmers.

The stuff laden tractors are being carried towards the Delhi border so that there should not be any difficulties to the farmers.

Panchayats have appealed that one member  atleast of every family must be sent to Delhi to encourage the farmers.

There is expected a heavy march of farmers towards Delhi from Punjab and Haryana after the talks being failed between the farmers and the government.

Delhi police is on alert appaling a huge crowd swarm on the border areas.

The security on Delhi border was already high and now it is going to be well maintained.


Thursday, November 26, 2020

Additional Municipal Commissioner faces mistreatment of ex-corporator

By on Thursday, November 26, 2020

 Additional Municipal Commissioner Lucknow faced the frenzy hue and cry at Bajwa road in Lalkuan ward adjoining area of Hazratganj Lucknow on Monday afternoon this week.

Mrs Archana Dubedi, AMC LKO, on Monday launched special routine operation of cleanliness for two days in the wake of observing pandemic and she was with her team on the spot where ex-corporator, Amit Sonkar, came to create nuisance.

She told Pressmen, "our team have been keeping on working to clean the city; in this compliance we were inspecting  Lalkuan ward and found the defunct  vehicles parked since long; the waste building remains were lying at the roadside; and the drainage of this place were choked which were emanating filthy smell there near Kalyan Mandap and Public Toilet."

"The removal of all these waste was going on normally and the local residents were supporting pleasantly this cleaning work; meanwhile ex-corporator with 40 to 50 unidentified people reached the spot and began to create nuisance during the public duty", she told.

She allegely said, " that the work preventing by Sonkar, which was going on there, could not be understood why they were provocatively protesting? Mr Sonkar was threatening  to lodge a fake criminal case against me by misusing  SC/ST Act and even he said me to this extent that my public service would get terminated."

While the LMC lodged a FIR against Amit Sonkar for this misconduct during performing the public duty.

Mrs Dubedi alleged that the Junior Engineer, Pratima who was there, was  aggressively assaulted by a Vishal Sonkar and they were also mistreating us in malevolent way.

She said that Mr Sonkar was accused in many other criminal activities and the cases against him have been got going on.


DK Thakur is new Lucknow police commissioner

By on Thursday, November 26, 2020

  

Uttar Pradesh government late on Tuesday transferred Lucknow police commissioner Sujeet Pandey and appointed ATS chief DK Thakur as new police commissioner.

Senior police officials did not cite any specific reason behind the transfer and termed it as an administrative decision of the government. Pandey has been made ADG, Arms Training Centre, Sitapur.

GK Goswami who had returned to the home cadre after a successful stint in the Central Bureau of Investigation has been made the new chief of the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) in the state.

Pandey, who had launched the commissionerate on January 15, had a successful stint and managed the city during Covid-19 pandemic outbreak while also taking action on criminals and confiscating properties of aides of jailed dons Mukhtar Ansari and Atiq Ahmad.

DK Thakur is known to be a tough officer and served as SSP/DIG in Lucknow during the Mayawati regime. Thakur also had a stint in the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Thakur took the charge as Lucknow commissioner in the wee hours of Wednesday.

COVID-19 Test Mandatory For People Coming To Lucknow From Other States For Diwali

By on Thursday, November 26, 2020

 People coming to Lucknow from other states, especially Delhi and its adjoining areas, for Diwali will have to compulsorily undergo COVID-19 test at bus stands, railway stations and the airport, an official said today.

Thirteen teams of the Health Department have been deployed at all bus stands, railway stations and the airport for screening those coming to the state capital for Diwali and contact details of the passengers will also be noted down, Lucknow Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Sanjay Bhatnagar said.

All the suspected cases would be tested in their homes, Dr Bhatnagar said, adding that this step was being taken to prevent the spread of coronavirus during the festive season.

So far, 66,237 COVID-19 cases and 917 deaths have been recorded in Lucknow.

Special precaution is being taken with people coming to the state capital to celebrate Diwali, particulary from Delhi and its adjoining areas, Dr Bhatnagar said, adding that people coming from Mumbai are also on the radar of the Health Department.

The Health Department's teams have been posted at Kaisarbagh, Charbagh, Alambagh, Kamta bus stands, Charbagh, Manak Nagar, Badshah Nagar, City Station ,Aishbagh, Gomti Nagar, Alambagh railway stations as well as Chaudhary Charan Singh International Airport, he said.

Screening of the passengers coming to Lucknow from other states started from Friday and would continue till Sunday, the Chief Medical Officer added.

The decision to take all necessary precautions in this regard was taken by the district administration keeping in view the sudden rise of COVID-19 cases in Delhi.

Colleges reopen, few turn up on Day 1

By on Thursday, November 26, 2020

 


Almost eight months after colleges and universities were shut down due to the Covid pandemic, they reopened in Uttar Pradesh on Monday. The higher educational institutions were allowed to reopen with 50 per cent attendance of students on the basis of rosters prepared by university and college authorities.

An official in the Higher Education department said that around 38 per cent students attended classes in universities and colleges across the state on Monday.

“Students seemed to be happy to be back to their universities and colleges and meet their peers. The teaching staff was also happy. However, there was caution among the students because of the surge in coronavirus cases. Some colleges saw a good turnout, while in others, the turnout was not so good,” said the official.

International Students Want to Return to China

By on Thursday, November 26, 2020

 International students enrolled at universities in mainland China, who are facing the possibility of being shut out of the country for a year, are becoming increasingly vocal about being allowed back to resume their studies.

Their recent actions have included collecting signatures for letters, producing an appeal video and inquiring with both Chinese consulates overseas and foreign consulates in China.

Hopes that overseas students can return before the end of the year are dimming, as Beijing further tightened controls this month to bar all non-Chinese nationals from Britain, France, Russia, India and other countries.

Normally, China hosts almost 500,000 international students a year, but the government claims that there have been no COVID-19 cases on any mainland Chinese campus since August -- and it intends to keep things that way.

“I think the Chinese government is cautious because the government does not want to see imported infection cases, which would harm anti-COVID measures,” Ka Ho Mok, vice president and dean of the School of Graduate Studies at Lingnan University Hong Kong, told Times Higher Education.

Mok, an expert in comparative higher education policy, urged patience. “As China is the first country in the globe to recover in terms of economic development, I think people and students in other parts of the globe would still be interested to study in China when the global health crisis is stable and national borders reopen,” he said.

However, the entry block is a pressing concern for students stuck midway through their studies.

A British chemist working toward her Ph.D. at a Chinese university told Times Higher Education that, like many international students, she left the country during the Lunar New Year holidays in January and has not been able to return.

“This [policy] led to some schools banning students from returning to China if they were abroad,” she said.

“I cannot complete my work remotely at all, as it is completely lab-based,” she said. “My Ph.D. will be suspended and delayed until I’m able to return; however, it will reduce my chances of completing my Ph.D. in the time limit, as some universities only allow enrollment for a maximum of five years.”

About 1,000 foreign students wrote in a bilingual Chinese-English appeal that “China is our second home, so of course we will keep China safe at any cost” and promised to adhere to the mandatory 14-day quarantine and other restrictions.

“We, as students, contribute to university budgets,” they wrote. “We are creating cutting-edge technologies that will hugely benefit China in the future, and some of us are even pursuing our own start-ups in China, too.”

The problem appears greatest for final-year students with pending clinical, lab or work-study assignments. If they cannot secure internships and placements soon, their applications for postgraduate work or jobs could be delayed by a full year. And that is not to mention the fact that many of these students are still paying for rent and tuition in China, while scholarship money has been cut.

Some of the frustration, it appears, stems from the feeling that rules have been unevenly applied. For example, foreign professors and businesspeople can enter China.

“Our work is essentially the same,” said the British Ph.D. candidate, who wished to remain unnamed. “I think using the severity of the pandemic is a weak excuse given to students if workers and businesspeople are able to return freely.”

She also noted that Chinese students could travel between overseas universities and home. “Many Chinese students have had planes chartered by U.K. universities, so to see that sort of treatment in contrast to students who chose to study in China and have been waiting indefinitely, it hurts a lot being ignored for so long.”

However, mainland China is not alone in blocking international students.

About a quarter of foreign students enrolled in Australia are still in their home countries, with only a small number allowed back via pilot plans, while New Zealand is letting in only some postgraduates engaged in clinical or lab work.

Elsewhere across Asia-Pacific, though, doors are slowly reopening. Most international students are back on campus in Hong Kong and Singapore, while Taiwan lifted its ban on most overseas students in August. Even Japan, which was roundly criticized for its border controls, has allowed some entrants since October.

Dubai shuts establishments in International City, Al Barsha South for COVID-19 violations

By on Thursday, November 26, 2020

 Authorities in Dubai have closed down three businesses in its latest round of inspections after they were found breaking COVID-19 safety measures.

Dubai Municipality has announced that it closed one shisha cafe in International City, a fitness centre in Al Barsha South and a laundry shop in Naif for failing to comply with the precautionary measures aimed to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The closures were made during the municipality’s latest inspection campaign on November 23, which included visits to 2,253 establishments.

The civic body said that it also fined one business and issued warnings to 27 others, while pointing out that as many as 2,222 establishments were found to be complying with the safety regulations.

Safety measures in gyms

The Dubai Sports Council has urged all clubs, academies, and sports and training centres in Dubai not to relax and continue complying with all the protocols and safety guidelines, which were issued in accordance with the safety guidelines issued by Dubai’s Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management and other relevant authorities.

Guidelines

Sports facilities have been instructed to make sure they maintain the hygiene and sanitization requirements as mandated by authorities, which includes maintaining a regular cleaning regime, and ensuring the 2-metre safe distancing rule is respected at all times.

The facilities have also been instructed to follow all the other safety protocols and guidelines like wearing masks, checking temperature of visitors and providing sanitisers.

The regulations also require facilities to display public announcements, and awareness signage in highly visible areas. They must also maintain adequate records of their members, including names, telephone numbers and visit dates, to assist if contact tracing becomes necessary.

On International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women, a look at India’s rape crisis

By on Thursday, November 26, 2020

 The United Nations has been observing 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women since 1981.

This date was selected to honour the Mirabal sisters from the Dominican Republic, three political activists who were brutally murdered on 25 November 1960 by order of the country’s dictatorial ruler Rafael Trujillo — an incident that had triggered massive public outrage and Trujillo’s own assassination six months later.

Discussions surrounding gender-based crimes took a centre stage in India recently when a 20-year-old woman from Hathras in Uttar Pradesh was allegedly gang-raped by four upper caste men. The victim’s family had then said that they wouldn’t have lost their daughter if they belonged to the “upper-caste” communities in their village of Boolgarhi.

Her cremation, in the dead of the night, was reportedly performed without family members or proper rituals. For a change, this case was covered extensively by the media. But that is the exception, not a norm and the number of such cases only keeps rising.

The latest National Crimes Record Bureau data noted a 7.3 per cent increase in rape cases in a year — a jump from 3,78,236 in 2018 to 4,05,861 cases in 2019. Nearly 22 per cent of these cases were “assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty”.

Uttar Pradesh accounted for 14.7 per cent — 59,853 cases — of crimes against women, the highest in the country.

A report published on 28 September by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) and the Association for Advocacy and Legal Initiatives (AALI) has noted the Uttar Pradesh Police’s “refusal and failure to register complaints of survivors of sexual assault”. This report was based on 14 case studies interviewed between 2019 and 2020 in the state.

On this International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, ThePrint takes a look at how stigma, fear and lack of legal support often deters women from filing complaints against rape and other forms of violence.

Pressure to ‘settle’ cases

Of the 14 cases that were documented in the CHRI-AALI report, 11 were incidents of rape and three of gang-rapes. The crimes had allegedly taken place in seven districts of Uttar Pradesh, namely Aligarh, Amroha, Auraiya, Lucknow, Jhansi, Jaunpur, and Muzaffarnagar.

The report noted how “survivors faced delay, derision, pressure, and severe harassment” when they approached the police to file either complaints or FIRs. It also said how caste and gender-based discrimination deprived and/or delayed justice for survivors, resulting in further trauma and mental health issues.

The police took anywhere between two and 228 days to file FIRs in 11 out of the 14 cases, the report said. It also added that the FIRs were filed only after a court order in five cases and when matters were escalated to a senior officer in the other six. Also, no woman officer was present to note down details of the sexual assaults as demanded under Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) in 12 of the 14 cases.

The report also noted how the survivors were unaware that only a woman police officer was to record a complaint of sexual assault when the survivor herself goes to the police station. It also noted how 11 out of the 14 survivors learned of their right to file a complaint to the district superintendent of police (under Section 154(3) of the CrPC) after facing refusal at their local police stations.

“The amendment that allows the survivor to file a complaint against the police is not very useful — will you fight your case or the police?” Seema Misra, AALI board member and criminal trial court lawyer working on cases of sexual violence told ThePrint. “Always blaming the women is very common in the police. In South Delhi, the police are a little scared after Nirbhaya (2012 Delhi gang rape). But that isn’t the case everywhere.”

The report said that while survivors were usually subjected to misogynistic remarks by police officers, those belonging to lower castes faced further discrimination. It also noted how the police tried to bury complaints using “coercive tactics to push survivors to settle or compromise by threatening to implicate their family members, or forcing marriage of the survivor and alleged perpetrator”.

“Registration of FIRs is a problem across the board but there is a lot of pressure to settle the matter outside the court,” Misra said

Make use of successful coal auctions

By on Thursday, November 26, 2020

 The response to India’s maiden auction of coal blocks for commercial mining seems to have been fairly good: of the 38 blocks up for auction, 19 received multiple bids, and were successfully auctioned. We need to speedily operationalise the mines, step up efficiency in coal beneficiation and transition to net zero emissions along a low-carbon path.



The 19 blocks have a combined peak-rated capacity of 51million tonnes (MT) per annum. Domestic coal output is about 700 MT, but we also imported nearly 200 MT of coal in 2019, the bulk of it non-coking steam coal readily available in our large reserves.

The heavy reliance on a coal monopoly for years has clearly stultified production, and at a huge national cost. Note that coal imports add up to over Rs 1.5 lakh crore annually. The target is to raise domestic coal output to just over 1,100 MT by 2023. In tandem, we need to gainfully boost capacity for coal beneficiation at pitheads and streamline evacuation for heightened productivity in supply.

In the auction, 76 bids were received and revenue share was the bidding parameter. As many as 65% of the bidders were from non-end-user sectors such as real estate and infrastructure.

The way ahead is to have independent regulatory oversight for coal mining. In parallel, we need to proactively raise thermal efficiencies in power, steel, cement and other coal-intensive sectors, with fast-paced diffusion of high efficiency coal technologies such as coal-gasification combined-cycle plants.

The US-India Strategic Energy Partnership needs better leveraging, to gain from the US Department of Energy’s Coal FIRST (Flexible, Innovative, Resilient, Small, Transformative) initiative to develop 21st-century energy systems, including via coal gasification.

‘Running Bihar politics from jail’ — BJP circulates audiotape accusing Lalu of luring NDA MLAs

By on Thursday, November 26, 2020

 New Delhi: Politics is intensifying in Bihar ahead of the Speaker’s election for the newly constituted 17th Bihar Assembly, with former deputy chief minister and senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi Wednesday taking to Twitter and alleging that the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav was trying to topple the NDA government by promising its MLAs ministerial berths.



The Speaker’s election is scheduled for Wednesday.

Modi posted an audio tape of an alleged conversation between Lalu and Lalan Paswan, one of the MLAs of the ruling coalition.

“Lalu Yadav showed his true colours. Lalu Prasad Yadav is luring the NDA MLA to vote in favor of the Grand Alliance in the election for the Bihar Legislative Assembly Speaker,” posted Modi along with an alleged audiotape of a conversation between Lalu Prasad Yadav and MLA from the NDA coalition.

“Lalu Yadav making telephone calls (8051216302) from Ranchi to NDA legislators and promising ministerial berths,” he had tweeted. “When I telephoned, Lalu directly picked up. I said don’t do these dirty tricks from jail, you will not succeed. (sic)”

Lalu Yadav making telephone call (8051216302) from Ranchi to NDA MLAs & promising ministerial berths. When I telephoned, Lalu directly picked up.I said don’t do these dirty tricks from jail, you will not succeed.

According to sources, a BJP functionary is likely to file a PIL in the court regarding the issue.

The RJD, however, has denied the allegations. 

“Sushil Modi’s allegations are completely baseless and incorrect. In fact everyone knows he suffers from Lalu phobia,” said RJD state spokesperson Mrityunjay Tiwari. “By posting such messages and audios, they only want to divert attention from real issues of employment and development. They should follow positive politics, not negative. They need to stop this game of making allegations and diverting attention.”

‘Lalu running Bihar politics from jail’

The state BJP unit is now alleging that Lalu was trying to run Bihar politics from jail. “The audiotape shows how Lalu Prasad Yadav is trying to lure the MLAs. This is completely illegal. How can a convict have access to a phone?” asked Sanjay Jaiswal, Bihar BJP president. “He is running Bihar politics from Jharkhand. In fact he is staying at the director’s residence. I fail to understand how that is possible. The Jharkhand government too is involved in it.”

Lalu is currently serving time in the fodder scam cases but has been at the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), Ranchi, due to his health condition. There are now allegations that he is being housed at the official accommodation of the RIMS director as opposed to the hospital.

The charges come on the day the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar-led NDA government will face its first test of strength in the Speaker’s election where Vijay Kumar Sinha has been pitted against the RJD-led Grand Alliance candidate Awadh Bihari Choudhary.

The ruling coalition won 125 seats in the 243-member state assembly, just above the halfway mark of 122. Jiten Ram Manjhi’s Hindustan Awam Morcha and Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) are also part of the NDA alliance. The opposition Grand Alliance, led by RJD, won 110 seats.