Prime Minister NarendraModi reiterated on Saturday his
government’s commitment to bring a law on triple talaq to ensure that rights
of women are protected.
“We have made efforts to ensure that women from all walks of life
get security and freedom. Despite strong protests from extremists and
Opposition parties, the government is committed to bringing a law on triple
talaq,” he said.
Mr.Modi also talked about measures and initiatives his government
had taken for women’s empowerment, safety and freedom. Owing to his
government’s efforts, a strong Act had been enacted to award death sentence
to those accused of rape.
“We have given priority to women in the financial inclusion
programme, under which more than 50% of Jan Dhan bank accounts have been
opened in the name of women.”
He said cooking gas connections would be given to poor families in
rural areas. Another flagship scheme of his government, building toilets in
rural areas, had been lauded across the world.
“Today in the Central government, there are two women members in
the prestigious and crucial Cabinet Committee on Security. This has happened
for the first time,” he said. He also mentioned Foreign Minister
SushmaSwaraj and Defence Minister NirmalaSitharaman.
EC moots new electoral reforms
The Election Commission is set to make a fresh push for electoral
reforms with the government, including making filing of false declaration a
ground for disqualification and putting a cap on expenditure by candidates
in Legislative Council polls.
Highly placed sources in the commission said its officials would
raise the subject of making bribery during the election period a cognisable
offence at the meeting planned with Legislative Secretary G. NarayanaRaju
after the winter session of Parliament ends.
The sources said the Commission would ask the Ministry to take a
call on its demand to extend constitutional protection to the two Election
Commissioners on the lines of the provision given to the Chief Election
A Chief Election Commissioner can be removed from office only
through impeachment by Parliament. The President can remove the Election
Commissioners based on the recommendation of the CEC.
Referring to the issue of false declarations, the sources said
that, as of now, the penalty was a jail term of six months. But the EC wants
to make it into an “electoral offence”.
Conviction in an electoral offence is a ground for
disqualification. “Jail term of six months does not instil fear.
Disqualification would,” another official said.
Finance commission concerned about fiscal discipline
Finance Commission Chairman N.K. Singh on Saturday sounded a note
of caution against fiscal slippage, saying it would adversely impact the
country’s macroeconomic stability as well as investment climate.
The remarks come in the backdrop of States such as Madhya Pradesh
and Rajasthan, which witnessed a change of government, announcing farm loan
Mr. Singh expressed apprehension that some States are not
according priority to fiscal discipline, which was not the case earlier.He
also emphasised the need to strengthen the Centre-State relationship through
Addressing the ‘Skoch Summit’ here, he said the government should
look at ways to further accelerate the reforms process pertaining to the
factors of production — labour, land, capital.
He said India’s per capita income is approaching the $2,000 mark
and it would increase further, but there will still be challenges.
“Yes, India’s per capita income will go up, yes India will be
transformed by 2030 or 2040, but all said and done India will still remain
relatively poor,” he said.
GST council cuts rates, rationalises slab
The Goods and Services Tax Council cut rates on 17 items and six
types of services during its 31st meeting on Saturday, leaving only one
common use item cement in the 28% bracket.
Cutting rates on cement would have a significant impact on
revenues and so the Council decided to hold off on it, Finance Minister
Seven items that saw tax rates being slashed from the 28% bracket
are certain vehicle parts used in agriculture, monitors and TVs up to 32
inches, retreaded tyres, power banks, digital cameras, videogame consoles
(all from 28% to 18%), and parts and accessories for the carriages for
disabled persons (from 28% to 5%).
Mr Jaitley said a Group of Ministers, in consultation with the
National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), will study the
revenue data from the available portions of the first two years of GST and
submit its analysis to the Council. The revenue impact of Saturday’s rate
cuts over the full fiscal year would be ₹5,500 crore, he added.
The GST Council took another decision aimed at putting to rest a
large part of the confusion surrounding the applicability of the tax. At the
moment, each State has an Advance Ruling Authority (ARAs) that can issue a
ruling on any issue pertaining to GST rates and their applicability. Often,
different ARAs deliver conflicting judgements.
Turkey and US will agree to support Syria even after US troop withdrawals
Turkish President RecepTayyipErdogan and US counterpart Donald
Trump have agreed to prevent a power vacuum in Syria after American ground
Turkish Presidency in a statement said that both the leaders in a
phone conversation yesterday agreed to ensure coordination between their
countries' military, diplomatic and other officials to avoid a power vacuum
which could result following any abuse of the withdrawal and transition
phase in Syria.
Mr Trump tweeted that the two leaders had a long and productive
call and also discussed the Islamic State group and heavily expanded trade.
On Friday, he announced plans to pull the 2,000 US troops out of Syria,
where they have been helping coordinate a multinational fight against
Trump's decision shocked the US allies, while Turkey lauded it. An
American pullout would allow Turkish troops to move against the hardened
Kurdish fighters in Syria as Kurdish fighters are deemed as terrorists by
Srilankan northern provinces affected by heavy flash floods
Nearly 50,000 people have been affected by recent flash floods in
Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, the Disaster Management Centre said on
Following sudden, heavy showers on last week, flash floods hit
parts of Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi, Mannar, Vavuniya and Jaffna districts.
Over 13,000 families in the Tamil-majority area have been impacted,
According to SuntharamArumainayaham, Kilinochchi Government Agent
(the GA corresponds to the district collector in India), some 2,500 families
in the district, displaced in the floods, are currently staying at 22
“Water is gradually receding today [Sunday] after some respite
from the heavy rain. But it will take a few days for the people to return to
their homes. Many houses have been damaged, we will need additional medical
care and sanitation facilities, we are looking into all that now,” he told.
While several districts in Sri Lanka have experienced extreme
weather in the last couple of years, Kilinochchi, in particular, has borne
the brunt of wavering and severe climatic conditions.
Falling production and poverty pushed many farmers and their
families to resort to micro-finance loans that ended up trapping them in
massive debts. And now, it is one of the worst-affected areas in the flash
::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::
China launches communication satellite to provide broadband services
China on December 22 launched its first communication satellite to
provide broadband internet services worldwide in an apparent bid to rival
Google and other international firms.
The satellite was launched from a Long March 11 carrier rocket
from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in north-western China and is the
first in the Hongyun project planned by China Aerospace Science and Industry
The Hongyun project, started in September 2016, aims to build a
space-based communications network to provide broadband internet
connectivity to users around the world, especially those in the underserved
The concept of running a low-cost, high-performance satellite
network to provide space-based communications and internet services has
become popular globally among industry players.
Currently, many foreign tech companies, including Google, SpaceX,
OneWeb and Telesat, have already launched plans to use satellites to provide
free internet access.
Last month, a Chinese internet technology firm unveiled the first
satellite in a constellation plan comprising of 272 satellites to provide
free WiFi service worldwide.
Seven year old to captain Australia
Archie Schiller, the seven-year-old leg-spinner spinner inducted
into the Australian team earlier this month, is set to co-captain the side
alongside Tim Paine in the in the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket
The announcement was made by Paine at an event in Yarra Park on
Saturday, the day the bubbly youngster turned seven. “It’s great to have him
around and we look forward to his debut on Boxing Day,” said Paine.
Archie has faulty heart valves, which was discovered when he was
three months old, leading to irregular beating of the heart and further
life-threatening complications. He has already undergone 13 surgeries.