Morning Briefing: Fifth and final phase of assembly polls begin in Bihar

GN Bureau | November 5, 2015



In Bihar, remaining 57 of the 243 seats went to polls today. Votes have already been cast for 191 of 243 seats in the Bihar assembly in the first four phases in what is seen as a very close contest. A total of 1,55,43,594 people are eligible to vote to decide the fate of 827 candidates, including 58 women in the fifth phase of the polling in the state. Voting began at 7 am in 55 constituencies and it will end at 5 pm. In the two Naxal-hit constituencies - Simri Bhakhtiyarpur and Mahisi in Saharsa district, the polling time has been cut short by two hours and would end at 3 pm. The last phase is taking place in a sprawling region which is home to a sizeable Muslim and Yadav population.

This round would be watched keenly to see if All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM) of Hyderabad MP Asauddin Owaisi manages to successfully launch itself in Bihar. AIMIM has fielded six candidates in Seemanchal areas, where Muslim voters are present in large numbers.

Prominent among those whose fate will be decided in the last phase include senior minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav of JD(U) (Supual), RJD legislature party leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui (Alinagar), minister Narendra Narayan Yadav (Alamnagar) and Lalu Prasad’s ‘Man Friday” Bhola Yadav (Bahadurpur).

Dirtiest air of season today in Delhi
The high level of pollution being witnessed in Delhi will reach its peak on Thursday. Officials at the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), said Thursday’s air would be the season’s most polluted, but things will marginally improve on Friday and Saturday. PM2.5 level is expected to reach 252 and PM 10 unit at 413 on Thursday, which has been classified as ‘severe’. This is much more than the safe limits of 60 mcgm/cubic metre for PM 2.5 and 100 for PM 10. The PM 2.5 and PM 10 level recorded by SAFAR was 225 and 382 respectively on Wednesday. For the past few days, the Capital could be seen engulfed in a thick haze with extremely high level of suspended particulate matters keeping the air quality ‘poor’. Incidentally, the first major rise in pollution level was witnessed on October 31.

Delhi, which was declared the most polluted city in the world by the World Health Organization in 2014, has been choking on noxious air for the past week as low temperatures and high concentration of pollutants have turned the air into a toxic mix.

Modi in top ten of Forbes' 'Powerful People' list, Up 6 places from last year
Prime minister Narendra Modi has been ranked ninth on the Forbes list of powerful people for 2015, up six places from last year when he was at number 15. He is placed between his host next week, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, at number eight and Google's Larry Page at 10. Russian president Vladimir Putin retains his place as the world's most powerful, while US president Barack Obama has slipped one place to number three. At number two this year is German chancellor Angela Merkel. Last year's number three on the Forbes list, China's Xi Jinping, is ranked fifth this year, after Pope Francis at number four. The pope retains his position from 2014.

Forbes said PM Modi "presided over 7.4% GDP growth in his first year in office, and raised his profile as a global leader during official visits with Barack Obama and Xi Jinping. A barnstorming tour of Silicon Valley reinforced his nation's massive importance in tech.

Notice to Volkswagen over emission levels, diesel vehicle sales stopped in the US
Government has issued a notice to German car major Volkswagen after testing agency ARAI found "significant variations" in on-road emission levels in the auto maker's diesel models of Jetta, Octavia, Audi A4 and Audi A6 in India. "We have issued a notice to Volkswagen Group of companies today to give technical inputs and explain their position," Ambuj Sharma, Additional Secretary, Heavy Industries Ministry told PTI. ARAI has found "significant variations" in the emission level in on-road vehicles compared with the laboratory measurements, the official said. When contacted, the company said it has received a notice from ARAI and "will respond to the same by November 30". "Volkswagen Group India will continue to fully cooperate with the Government of India in this matter," a company spokesperson said. Sharma said that significant variations in the emission levels have been found in diesel vehicles belonging to the Jetta, Audi A4 and Vento models, he added.

The Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) provides technical expertise in R&D, testing, certification, homologation and framing of vehicle regulations.

If proved of any wrongdoing in India, the world's largest car-maker may have to face criminal proceedings, fine and recall of vehicles. VW has already admitted that 11 million diesel engine cars worldwide were fitted with the software that helped in manipulating emission tests. It faces fine of up to USD 18 billion in the US.

Volkswagen India sells Jetta model, while Octavia and Audi A4 and A6 models are retailed by Skoda and Audi respectively. Both Audi and Skoda brands are owned by the Volkswagen group. Meanwhile, Volkswagen and its Audi unit froze sales of diesel car models in the United States today after new accusations on the use of software that cheats on emissions tests. The move came after another Volkswagen unit, Porsche, halted sales of its Cayenne diesel sport utility vehicles following the new allegations from the Environmental Protection Agency

Asian stocks mixed on possible December rate hike
Asian stocks traded mostly lower early Thursday, following a weaker finish on Wall Street as increasing odds of a U.S. interest-rate rise in December sapped risk appetite. Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen said Wednesday that December's monetary policy meeting would be a "live possibility" for a rate hike if upcoming economic data were supportive. Yellen was testifying before the House Financial Services Committee in Washington. As a result, major US averages declined. The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 closed down 0.3 and 0.4 percent respectively, while the Nasdaq Composite finished flat. A pullback in energy shares, alongside a 3.3 percent slump in crude oil prices overnight, also weighed on the bourses.

Festive gift budgets slashed due to sluggish economic growth
Companies across sectors plan to tighten their purse strings and slash their corporate gifting budgets ahead of the festival season.  Over half of the 500 companies’ representatives that industry body Assocham interacted with said they plan to cut their festive budgets by at least about 20 per cent as compared to last year. “Depreciating rupee, weak consumer demand showing up in sluggish sales, muted wage growth, impact of turbulence in global markets are certain key factors forcing corporate to slash their Diwali gift budgets significantly,” states the quick survey by the ASSOCHAM. Though in recent times, the festivals have become an occasion to exhibit luxurious living and with heavy pay packets the spending capacity of people has only grown. However, the cost of living and prices of food items have grown faster than earnings which is compelling the people to refrain from overspending during the festive season, highlighted the survey conducted under ASSOCHAM Social Development Foundation.

I will never come back to India: Ghulam Ali
Pakistani ghazal singer Ghulam Ali, whose concert in Mumbai was called off after resistance from the Shiv Sena, has cancelled all his performances in the country, saying that he won't return to India until "things are settled down”. Ghulam Ali also expressed his disappointment over the recent incidents.

Pachauri's accusser quits Teri alleging discrimination
A woman who accused climate scientist Rajendra Pachauri of sexual harassment quit her job at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). The 29-year-old researcher, who filed charges in February, said TERI had discriminated against her. "TERI failed to uphold my interests as an employee, let alone protect them," the woman wrote in an email sent to Dinesh Varma, head of TERI's human resource department.

"The organisation has instead protected R.K. Pachauri and provided him with full immunity, despite being held guilty of sexual harassment at the workplace by your own inquiry committee," said the woman. She said that the organisation treated her in the "worst possible manner" after she complained about Pachauri's behaviour.

However, a statement issued by TERI said the woman's complaints were "completely false and baseless." Pachauri  quit as IPCC chairman over the sex harassment complaint earlier this year. In July, TERI's Governing Council removed him from the post of head of TERI which he had held for more than 30 years. The woman said the governing council had created "a hostile environment" for her.

SC refers Hardik Patel’s plea on FIR to another bench
The Supreme Court bench hearing Gujarat’s Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel’s plea for quashing sedition charges registered against him by the Gujarat police recused itself on Wednesday. The bench took this step after there was a difference of opinion between the two judges on whether notice should be issued to the state or not. A bench of justices V Gopal Gowda and Amitava Roy ordered listing of Hardik’s appeal against the Gujarat high court’s order holding a prima facie case of sedition was made out against the 22-year old PAAS leader before a fresh bench. This came almost 45 minutes after the two heard senior advocate Kapil Sibal arguing for Hardik. The two judges held a brief consultation before saying “this matter will go before another bench”. Justice Roy did not seem inclined to entertain Patel’s petition whereas justice Gowda favoured issuing a notice to Gujarat to know its response.

Chhota Rajan to be brought to Delhi today
A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)-led team is set to bring back Mumbai’s fugitive gangster Chhota Rajan from Indonesia to Delhi on Thursday after his deportation. The central agency will get the first chance to keep him in custody for initial interrogation. A decision was taken by the security establishment that it would be the CBI that would get to keep Rajan for initial questioning in assistance with Delhi police investigators. Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said a decision about Rajan’s custody will be taken in consultation with the Centre. Mumbai police have registered  75 cases of serious crimes against the gangster.

Naidu denounces attack on Shah Rukh, says ‘can discuss intolerance’
Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday said the government was open to having a debate on the issue of intolerance as he disapproved the incendiary remarks made by some BJP leaders against Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan and Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah.

“Nobody should speak such nonsense. The statement made by one of the local functionaries in Karnataka is totally condemnable if he has made such remarks as per the media report. The party also does not approve of the comments made by a functionary against Shah Rukh Khan,” Naidu said.

BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya had on Tuesday triggered a controversy when he tweeted that Shah Rukh’s “soul” is in Pakistan though he lives in India. Facing a backlash, he deleted his tweets on Wednesday.In Karnataka, a BJP leader had threatened to behead Siddaramaiah if he dared to eat beef.

Justice TS Thakur to become next Chief Justice of India
Justice Tirath Singh Thakur — the senior most judge of the Supreme Court — would be the next Chief Justice of India (CJI). The present CJI HL Dattu retires on December 2. Born at Batroo in Ramban district of Jammu and Kashmir on January 4 1952, Justice Thakur would have a year-long tenure before he retires in January 2017. Initiating the process for the appointment of his successor, CJI Dattu wrote a letter written to the Centre proposing Justice Thakur’s name for the top post.

The law ministry would now proceed with the process to appoint Thakur. A formal notification would be issued after the President clears the Warrant of Appointment.

Child born out of rape has right over assaulter’s property: High Court

Allahabad High Court has ruled that a child born out of rape will have inheritance rights over the property of the assaulter, the “biological father”. A division bench of justices Shabihul Hasnain and DK Upadhayaya said the child will be treated as an illegitimate child of the rape accused and will have inheritance rights to his property. “We may observe here that in the matter relating to inheritance, the manner of birth of a person is irrelevant; the rights of inheritance of a person are governed by the Personal Law to which the person is subject irrespective of the manner of birth of the person. It is irrelevant as to whether the newly-born child of a rape victim is born out of consexual sex or otherwise,” the Lucknow bench of the High Court has said. “It is thus noted that the rights of inheritance of the newly-born child would be governed by her Personal Law and for that purpose she would be treated as an illegitimate child of her biological father.”

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