Morning briefing: Gujarat tense & death toll in Patel quota stir rises to 8, army out

GN Bureau | August 27, 2015



Tense situation continued to prevail in Gujarat on Thursday even as the state administration clamped curfew in Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot, Mehasana, Patan, Palanpur, Unjha, Visnagar and Jamnagar. While the army was called in on Wednesday to control the situation, the violence sparked by the quota agitation by the Patel community has claimed eight lives. Schools and colleges in Ahmedabad will remain closed today. The railways have cancelled many trains. Flag marches were held in the city on Wednesday evening by the army. The government has also rushed the army to Rajkot, Surat and Mehasana.

Six people were killed in firing by police and paramilitary forces, while two others died following clashes which started Tuesday night, police said. Four deaths were reported in Ahmedabad, three in Gadh village of Banaskantha district and one in Mehasana town. The statewide shutdown in Gujarat was called by the Patidar Arakshan Andolan Samiti on Wednesday.

Govt to unveil smart cities’ list today
Kolkata, Mumbai, Jaipur, Bhubaneswar and Rae Bareli will be developed as smart cities as the urban development ministry will formally announce the names of cities being selected for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s flagship project on Thursday. In the first phase, Centre will pick 20 cities and in the next two years 40 cities each will be selected for receiving Central funding of Rs.500 crore spread over the next five years. Each smart city would get a Central assistance of Rs.100 crore per year for five years.

September 2 strike: GoM to meet labour unions again today
Talks between the government and labour unions on averting a national strike broke down on Wednesday even though a group of ministers (GoM) led by finance minister Arun Jaitley did concede some of the unions’ demands. While labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya said after the meeting that he is hopeful of a breakthrough, the labour unions said the government did not bring anything concrete to the table. The GoM will meet the unions again on Thursday. All central trade unions have called for a national strike on September 2 to protest against several so-called reform measures of the government.

Sensex jumps over 300 points, rupee back at 65 levels
Indian stocks open stronger, taking cues from the broader gains in the Asian stock markets. The 30-share S&P BSE Sensex gains 335.09 points, or 1.3%, to 26,049.75, while the 50-share Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) is up 104.20 points, or 1.34%, to 7,896.05.9:15am: The Indian rupee on Thursday strengthens past the 66 mark, opening at 65.93 per US dollar compared with its previous close of 66.14. The home currency hit a high of 65.86 per US dollar in intra-day trade.

Asian stocks take heart from Wall Street rally, China gains
Asian stocks extended gains on Thursday as a sharp rebound on Wall Street and gains in battered Chinese shares eased fears of a deep and protracted global market rout, while the dollar rallied as risk aversion eased. Sentiment was also supported by comments from New York Fed President William Dudley on Wednesday who said the prospect of a September rate hike “seems less compelling” than it was only weeks ago given the threat posed to the US economy by recent market turmoil.

Sheena murder case: Peter Mukherjea, son Rahul's interrogation to continue
Star India's ex-CEO Peter Mukherjea and his son Rahul are likely to be questioned again on Thursday in connection with the murder of Sheena Bora, the daughter of Indrani Mukherjea. They were questioned on Wednesday. Peter Mukherjea made a stunning disclosure on Wednesday that Sheena had an affair with his son Rahul but he wasn't aware that Sheena was in reality Indrani's daughter and not her sister. Indrani, the wife of Peter Mukherjea, was arested by the Mumbai police on Tuesday night. Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria said Sheena was murdered on April 24, 2012. Her body was found on May 23 that year after Indrani's driver Shyam Rai revealed the murder site to police.Both Indrani and the driver were arrested on Tuesday on charges of killing Sheena and disposing off her body in Raigad, near Mumbai. A court sent Indrani to police custody till August 31.

JD(U) slams govt for releasing census data on religion
JD(U) on Wednesday slammed the BJP government for releasing the census data on population of religious communities instead of caste data alleging it was an attempt to create "religious polarisation" ahead of Bihar polls. JD(U), RJD, SP, DMK and some other parties have been asking the government to release the caste census figure, which was also supported by Congress. The data on socio economic status of the population was released on July 3. According to the census data on population by religious communities released yesterday, Muslims recorded a decadal growth rate of 24.6 per cent between 2001 and 2011 touching 17.22 crores while the Hindus grew at 16.8 per cent to clock a population of 96.63 crores during the same period.

Census data could create communal tension: Mani Shankar Aiyar
Warning that the Census data based on religion could create a communal tension, senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar on Wednesday said that certain people may be planning to do "something big over 2 or 3 points", referring to the population of certain communities. Addressing MLAs in Delhi Assembly, Aiyar said, "Yesterday, the results of Census 2011 came out in which it is shown that the Muslim population is increasing by some decimals and the population of Hindu is decreasing which may lead to communal violence."

Seventh pay panel gets time till Dec to submit report
The Cabinet on Wednesday extended by four months the term of the Seventh Pay Commission, which was set up in February 2014 to revise remuneration of some 48 lakh central government employees and 55 lakh pensioners. The pay panel, which was set up by the UPA government, was required to submit its report by August-end. The commission will now have time until December 31 to submit its report.

Windows 10 now on over 75 million devices in just one month
Windows 10 is now installed on over 75 million computers and the number is growing everyday, says Microsoft. The company had earlier said that Windows 10 has been installed over 50 million computers. Interestingly, Microsoft claims that over 90,000 unique PC or tablet models have upgraded to Windows 10 and lot of users are already streaming games from Xbox One to Windows 10. Also Windows Store has seen 6 times more app downloads per device compared to Windows 8.

Nepal unrest: High alert sounded along border
High alert was sounded along the Indo-Nepal border here due to the unrest in Nepal, in which 11 persons including an Indian national were killed. Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) officers visited the border post at Koilabasa and held a meeting with Nepal authorities. SSB officiating Commandant Hare Krishna Gupta said he had visited the border check-post and instructed the jawans to maintain strong vigil along the Indo-Nepal border.

WTO panel rules against India in solar dispute
A World Trade Organization (WTO) panel has ruled against India in a dispute raised by the US over the country’s solar power programme, requiring the government to offer a level playing field to both foreign and domestic manufacturers of solar panels. The US raised the dispute over the Indian government’s imposition of local content requirements for solar cells and solar modules. The government has offered financial support of up to Rs.1 crore per megawatt (MW) to the implementing agency for setting up large solar capacities by placing orders with domestic manufacturers.

Food industry regulator scraps product approvals
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has decided to scrap product approvals, a decision that is likely to make packaged food companies happy. FSSAI introduced the product approval advisory on 11 May 2013 “to streamline the product approval procedure with due consideration to the safety of food and public health, in supersession of earlier advisories, food products for which the standards are not specified under Food Safety Standards Act, 2006, rules and regulations made thereunder will be granted product approval”.

Call drops: Govt mulls levying penalty on telecom companies
As the call drop menace refuses to subside, government is now weighing the option of slapping penalty on telecom operators. Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad held a meeting with DoT officials along with CMDs of two public sector firms, BSNL and MTNL, on Wednesday to deliberate on the measures for reducing call drops. Telecom companies have sought 30-45 days time to improve and optimise networks to reduce call drops.

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