GN Bureau | November 5, 2015
A group of writers, academicians and artistes today came out in support of Narendra Modi government and dismissed the protests over alleged rising intolerance as "much ado" about the declining clout of a "pampered section" which was now targeting the Prime Minister. Hitting out at the intellectuals attacking the Centre over "the climate of intolerance", they said a section of nation's intelligentsia was dismayed by Narendra Modi's victory in the Lok Sabha polls and "failure in the elections is now sought to be avenged by other means." Indian Council for Cultural Relations President Lokesh Chandra, author S L Bhyrappa, Kapil Kapoor, former pro-vice chancellor, JNU, Dilip K Chakrabarti, professor emeritus University of Cambridge and ICHR member and K Gopinath of IISC are among 36 intellectuals who lent their support to the BJP-led government in a statement and lashed out at the protesters.
24 filmmakers return national awards
Filmmaker Kundan Shah has announced that he will return the National Award that he received for the iconic 1983 film Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron. He is among 24 filmmakers who have joined what many call the "Award Wapsi" campaign to protest against "rising intolerance". Another renowned filmmaker, Saeed Mirza, has also said that he will return his national award. Writer-activist Arundhati Roy also said in an article today in The Indian Express that she was returning her award and said: "If we do not have the right to speak freely, we will turn into a society that suffers from intellectual malnutrition, a nation of fools."
SC extends time till November 13 for collegium suggestions
The Supreme Court on Thursday extended till November 13 the time for inviting suggestions to make the functioning of collegium system transparent and eligibility criteria based for the appointment of judges to the higher judiciary. An apex court constitution bench headed by Justice A.S. Khehar said that all the suggestions should reach the ministry of law and justice till 5 pm on November 13. All the suggestions will be limited on the point of transparency in the working of the collegium, eligibility criteria for the selection of judges, setting up of a permanent secretariat of the collegium and the procedure for entertaining the complaints in respect of the candidates being considered for judgeship. The court fixed two days, commencing from November 18, for hearing different counsels on the suggestions made. The ministry of law and justice will upload on its website the suggestions that have already been collated.
90% Indian universities have outdated curriculum: CNR Rao
Eminent scientist and Bharat Ratna awardee CNR Rao believes that 90 per cent of the universities and higher educational institutions in the country have outdated curriculum, keeping them from making into the top institutes of the world. "90 per cent of the universities in our country have outdated curriculum. We talk about increasing funds, increasing infrastructure but there is no improvement in the content we are teaching in our hi-tech classrooms," Rao has said.
Security for Shah Rukh Khan stepped up
Shah Rukh's famous home, Mannat, which routinely draws fans in the hope of spotting the actor, is usually under the watch of a platoon of the State Reserve Police Force, consisting of 50 policemen. An additional 25 policemen have been posted at the house today. On Monday, his 50th birthday, Shah Rukh said in an interview to NDTV, "Religious intolerance, or intolerance of any kind, is the worst thing and will take us to the dark ages...nobody has more right to live in this country than me, and I am not going to leave. So shut up." His comments saw him being compared to Pakistani terrorist Hafiz Saeed by BJP parliamentarian Yogi Adityanath. Another senior BJP leader, Kailash Vijayvargiya, tweeted "Shah Rukh Khan lives in India, but his heart is in Pakistan. His films make crores here but he finds India intolerant." Severe criticism- including from within his own party - forced him to retract his tweet.
Microsoft announces cloud start-up initiative
Microsoft on Thursday announced a string of partnerships, programmes and products claimed to help Indian organisations and governments to explore unchartered business areas and enrich customer and citizen experiences. The newly launched local Microsoft Cloud and new devices will also catalyse digital transformation, the company said. The tech giant, based in Redmond, California, announced partnerships with three e-commerce players - Justdial, Paytm and Snapdeal - and launched a special cloud initiative for start-ups aligned to smart cities at its first of its kind technology conference being held in Mumbai. Microsoft said that start-ups can now apply for individual access up to $120,000 (Rs.80 lakh) worth of Azure computing to help India's smart cities explore solutions and run smart city digital pilots.
"Cities can also apply for access to these services and solutions on Azure through a new portal which connects start-ups with cities and their needs. This initiative is anticipated to impact over 50 smart cities in the next year through a catalogue of over 50 start-ups and ISV solutions," the company added.
Gold schemes and gold coin unveiled
Prime minister Narendra Modi launched three ambitious schemes to reduce the physical demand for gold and fish out 20,000 tonnes of the precious metal worth $800 billion lying idle with households. The Gold Monetisation Scheme (GMS), 2015 will offer option to resident Indians to deposit their precious metal and earn an interest of up to 2.5 per cent; while under the Sovereign Gold Bonds Scheme, investors can earn an interest rate of 2.75 per cent per annum by buying paper bonds. Modi also unveiled the first ever Indian gold coin & bullion, bearing national emblem Ashok Chakra on one side and Mahatma Gandhi's image engraved on the other side. Initially the coins will be available in denominations of 5 and 10 grams. A 20 gram bullion will also be available through 125 MMTC outlets.
Delhi Municipal Corporation bans paid parking at over 70 malls, hospitals
Paid parking at around 75 malls and hospitals falling in the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) area has been banned following growing complaints of high fees being charged for use of these facilities. Private parking operators at the hospitals and malls in the municipal area will now have to allow free parking or take prior permission of SDMC for charging a fee. There are 39 malls and 35 hospitals in the SDMC area that provide private parking facilities, a senior municipal officer said.
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