Evening digest: Bandaru Dattatreya says his letter has nothing to do with student's suicide

GN Bureau | January 18, 2016



Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya on Monday distanced himself from the suicide case of Dalit PhD scholar Vemula Rohith and said his letter has nothing to do with it. A case has been registered against Dattatreya and vice chancellor of the Hyderabad Central University in connection with the suicide case of PhD scholar Rohith. "My letter has no connection with the suicide case of the Dalit student. I have written letter because some anti-social elements who were attacking Akhil Bharatiya Vishwa Parishad members. I would not like to comment on the case against me." The HRD Ministry will send a team to Hyderabad which will be headed by three officers. HRD source said that student was not expelled from university. He was barred from using only hostel facility.

The case has been registered under the SC/ST Act. Students protesting after the death of Rohith had earlier demanded filing of the case, alleging that Dattatreya had written to the Union HRD Ministry seeking action against Rohith and other scholars. Rohith, was one of the five Dalit scholars, who was expelled by the university in 2015 for allegedly attacking a student activist belonging to ABVP in August 2015. The action against the students came reportedly after Dattatreya wrote to HRD minister Smriti Irani after an ABVP activist was manhandled. ABVP had reacted sharply after some students unions protested death sentence given to 1993 blast accused Yakub Memon. It was in the wake of this incident that Dattatreya reportedly took up the matter with the HRD Ministry.

Whistleblowers Act should be changed and witnesses need protection, says CVC
There is a need to bring some provisions in Whistleblowers Act to protect witnesses that would provide confidence to those who expose corruption,
Central Vigilance Commissioner K V Chowdary said here today. He also emphasised upon making public aware on the procedure to file complaints under Public Interest Disclosure and Protection of Informer (PIDPI), widely known as whistleblower resolution. Chowdary said a whistleblower is the one who has the direct and personal information or leads which are very useful in an investigation. "In my view it is only that category of people need to be brought into the whistleblower not anybody and everybody who files petition. "The other important thing and I am concerned more about is the witness protection. The witness is a person or an expert is a person who stake their life. They stand in a witness box and tell the truth. They tell the truth that could lead to a conviction," he said addressing a roundtable interaction with Chief Vigilance Officers of public sector undertakings and Chief Compliance Officers of private companies.

SC seeks government's views on minority status for Sikhs in Punjab
The Supreme Court on Monday sought the Modi government's view on whether the Sikhs should be treated as a majority or a minority in Punjab. Minority status would allow them to have separate educational institutions to maintain their language or culture.  "Can Muslims in Kashmir and Sikhs in Punjab and Christians in Nagaland be treated as minority," the court asked. This was in response a petition filed by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC). It had challenged a high court had, which had rejected this status saying there were in not in a position in the state in which they could be under threat of domination by any other community.

MPs international meeting on climate change begins
Parliamentarians from across commonwealth Asia and the Pacific gathered in the national capital on Monday to discuss impact of climate change on energy security and sustainability in the region. The parliamentarians are taking part in the Asian regional workshop on sustainability, energy and development which is being co-hosted by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK (CPA UK), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and British High Commission ( BHC) from January 18-21.

Easwar panel on Income tax for raising threshold for TDS deduction
A high level panel on simplification of income tax laws today recommended raising the threshold limits for deduction of tax at source (TDS) as also slashing the rate of withholding tax. The justice (rtd) R V Easwar committee in a 78-page draft report said nearly 65 per cent of the personal income-tax collection in India was through tax deducted at source (TDS) and TDS provisions need to be made more tax friendly and not as 'tedious' as they have remained over the years. It recommended "enhancement and rationalisation of the threshold limits and reduction of the rates of TDS. TDS rates for individuals and HUFs to be reduced to 5 per cent as against the present 10 per cent". Presently, TDS is applicable on "such tiny annual limits" of Rs 2,500 in case of payment of interest on securities and on interest on NSS accounts, Rs 5,000 for payment of interest on private deposits and commission or brokerage and Rs 10,000 for payment of bank interest.

French president Francois Hollande declares economic emergency
French President Francois Hollande has declared what he called "a state of economic emergency" and says it's time to redefine France's economic and social model. Hollande laid out a series of proposed economic measures on Monday in an annual speech to business leaders to boost long-stagnant French growth and reduce chronic unemployment. The first measures he proposed are relatively modest, and he said they would not "put into question" the 35-hour workweek. He did not seek to assume any new emergency powers. Hollande stressed the urgency of updating France's labor-friendly business model in a fast-moving, increasingly globalized and online economy. The measures included a loosening of some worker-friendly measures to encourage companies to hire, and new training for half a million workers.

Film stars requested not to endorse pan masala
The Delhi government has written to Bollywood actors Ajay Devgan, Shah Rukh Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Govinda, Arbaaz Khan and Sunny Leone, urging them not to endorse pan masala products as they contain areca nuts, a potential cancer causing agent. The Delhi government has also asked the actors to join its anti-tobacco campaign to save the lives of lakhs of people who die due to oral cancer every year. "You are often seen on TV and other media advertising pan masala products. Even if these pan masalas do not contain tobacco or nicotine, they surely contain areca nuts (supari) and now there are a lot of scientific evidences which prove that supari causes cancer.

"Moreover, some of these pan masala advertisements are surrogate advertisements of tobacco products which the manufacturing companies try to promote," said Dr S K Arora, Additional Director (Health), Delhi government, in his letters. Dr Arora said tobacco use among Indian women is showing an increasing trend as compared to the rest of the world and that these advertisements, apart from e-cigarettes and hookah smoking, are playing a major role in it. "You are the role model for youngsters, they watch you and your lifestyle and habits and try to adopt it. These advertisements attract the vulnerable population, especially, children and females very strategically and are directly and indirectly responsible for the increasing trends of tobacco use among youngsters and females in India. "I humbly request you to not participate in pan masala or any other similar advertisements which are harming our society especially the younger generations. Rather, I request you to join us in anti-tobacco campaign to save lakhs of preventable deaths," Dr Arora said in the letter.

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