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Did Chandrashekhar-owned company sign contract with defence ministry, asks Congress




New Delhi, May 9: The Congress party on Wednesday asked the Narendra Modi government whether BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar-owned company had signed any contract with the defence ministry to push its business agenda.

It also sought repy on what action the Maharashtra police had taken on the FIR lodged against co-founder of Republic TV, Arnab Goswami in an abetment to suicide case.

Chandrashekhar is one of the owners of Republic TV. His office declined to comment on the statement by the Congress.

Referring to Chandrasekhar and Goswami as the “Vikram and Baital” of the BJP, the party said in a statement that they had been at the forefront of “pushing the agenda and hate-mongering narrative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government and the RSS.”

Without providing any insight or details into the allegations, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera told reporters:”Prime time after prime time, we see stories that are meant to spread enmity amongst communities and protect the government from uncomfortable questions.”

Citing an FIR against Republic TV head Goswami, lodged by Akshata Anvay Naik at Allibaug Police Station in Mumbai charging him with abetment to suicide of her husband, the party asked what action had been taken against him. Naik had said that her husband had taken his own life after failing to receive due payments from Republic TV. Khera also alleged that Maharashtra police was protecting Goswami.

“There have also been stories of the various business interests of Rajeev Chandrasekhar,” he added saying Chandrasekhar’s Jupiter Capital controls several media products like Asianet News, Suvarna News, web portal Newsable, newspaper Kannada Prabha and Goswami-led Republic TV.

“Chandrashekhar has been a member of the Parliament’s Standing Committee on Defence. This not only gives him legitimised access to sensitive information but also gives him a decisive voice on matters of India’s Defense planning, strategy and expenditure,” Khera alleged.

“He is the founder of Jupiter Capital, an investment firm managing a portfolio a roughly $1 billion. Jupiter Capital also has investments in Defense related companies.

“Axiscades Engineering Technology Limited is a company that provides technology solutions to aerospace, defense, heavy engineering, automotive and industrial production sectors. This is a subsidiary of Jupitar Capital,” Khera further said.

Khera also alleged: “In October, 2016 there was a report in a popular website that exposed a leaked email by Amit Gupta, COO of Jupiter Capital. This email was sent to the editorial heads of the media outlets owned by Jupiter Capital, and it said ‘all editorial talent to be hired with a summary of bio to be sent to CXO Office for views and guidance.

“The candidate should be, right of center in his/her editorial tonality- pro-India, pro-military, aligned to chairman’s ideology, views and should be aware of his governance reforms; – well familiarised with his thoughts on nationalism and governance”. This statement was later retracted by Gupta.” added the Congress leader.

The party also said that in 2007, another subsidiary of Jupiter Capital won the contract to build an airport aviation training facility at former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda’s constituency, Hassan.

“The airport meant to be completed in 18 months is not yet complete. The airport was given a 30-year lease 536 acre at surprisingly low price of Rs 1,100 per acre per year. At the time of finalisation of deal, Gowda’s son Ravanna, was heading the agency to oversee the project,” said Khera.

The party asked whether Axiscades Engineering Technology Limited sign any contract with Defence ministry. “Isn’t Chandrasekhar, as owner of media houses, deliberately compromising journalistic ethics by forcing reporters and anchors to push the ideology and the agenda of the ruling party?



National Education Policy will strengthen future of youth: Kovind




Ram Nath Kovind

President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday said the new National Education Policy (NEP) is a milestone in strengthening the future of youngsters and would also pave the way for the country to become ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’.

On July 29, the Union Cabinet had approved the the NEP 2020 which aims for transformational reforms in schools and higher education systems in the country. It replaced the 34-year-old National Policy on Education.

Effective implementation of the NEP 2020 is likely to restore India’s glory as a great centre of learning. It will be a milestone in the history of our country. It will not only strengthen the future of our youth but also set our country on course to becoming ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’,” the President said in a statement.

The NEP sets the vision of developing an equitable and vibrant knowledge society by providing quality education to all. This calls for achieving the twin objectives of inclusion and excellence, he added.

Kovind said that the NEP seeks to discourage rote learning and overemphasis on marks or grades, while encouraing critical thinking and a spirit of enquiry.

“Universities and institutes of higher education should be centres of innovation. They should provide innovative solutions to national and local problems.”

India was a globally respected education hub in ancient times, he said, adding that Universities at Takshashila and Nalanda had iconic status.

The President, however, rued that India’s higher education institutions do not get high positions in global rankings these days.

“Academic Bank of Credits (ABC) is a major shift in Policy which will be of great help to students. This will digitally store the academic credits earned from various Higher Education Institutions so that degrees can be awarded, taking into account the credits earned by students,” he added.

Kovind on to say that NEP will allow students to take courses as per their vocational, professional or intellectual requirements.

It will also allow them suitable exit and re-entry points.

“One of the targets of the NEP 2020 is to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio or GER in higher education to 50 percent by 2035. Technology can help in achieving this target.

“Greater use of online facilities will also help overcome problems of shortage of faculty and other resources. Educational institutions should develop very good portals and apps to provide e-learning, e-library and other digital facilities,” he said.

The President said that one of the most important features of the NEP is its focus on equity and inclusion.

He cited the All India Survey of Higher Education for 2018-19 which stated that GER for females is slightly higher than that for males.

“However, the share of female students is extremely low in Institutions of National Importance. Their share is particularly low in technical education. This needs to be corrected.

The higher education ecosystem should reflect concern for gender justice in terms of enrolment and contribution, especially in technical institutions,” Kovind said.

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In RS, BSP raises quota in Jammu, Cong digital divide




rajya sabha

BSP’s Rajaram on Saturday raised the issue of reservation for Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Classes in the Jammu region in the upper House.

He claimed in spite of having OBC population of around 35 per cent and SC population of around 17 per cent both groups get 2 and 8 per cent quota, respectively.

He said that Bahujan Samaj Party supported the abrogation of Article 370 on condition of extending the reservation in the region like rest of the country but it has not happened even after one year.

Rajya Sabha Chairperson M. Venkaiah Naidu asked MoS, Home G. Kishan Reddy to look into it.

Congress leader Ahmed Patel raised the issue of digital divide amid online schools during the pandemic. He also demanded financial assistance to poor families for this purpose.

BJD’s Sasmit Patra urged the government to engage international media to put forth its point as far as International terrorists are concerned. He claimed while Pakistan’s point of view is covered by international media, much rarely does it cover India’s point of view.

He also urged the government to use MPs to spread its message.

BJP’s Neeraj Shekhar demanded that Bhojpuri be included in the 8th schedule of the constitution. This demand is significant ahead of the Bihar election which is round the corner and where the language is widely spoken.

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Modi Govt trying to end MSP through farm bills, attacking farmers’ livelihood: Congress




P Chidambaram

New Delhi, Sep 18 : Likening farmers to the “Pandavas” and the Centre to the “Kauravas”, the Congress on Friday accused the government of trying to end minimum support price (MSP) through three new farm bills and asked political parties to decide with whom they want to stand.

The Congress also said that it will fight for farmers in Parliament as well as on the streets.

Lok Sabha has passed the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, the Farmers” Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, which seek to promote barrier-free inter-state and intra-state trade in agricultural produce. These will now be tabled in the Rajya Sabha.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said farmers have lost faith in the Modi government as there is a difference between its deeds and actions.

This government wants to benefit its “friends” by attacking the lives and livelihood of farmers, he said.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said this fight has now become “the battle of truth” like the Mahabharata. Here the Modi government is like the “Kauravas” and the farmers are the “Pandavas”, he said.

He said various political parties will now have to decide whether they stand with the “Kauravas” or the “Pandavas” in this “dharam yudh” (battle of truth). Congress leader P Chidambaram said the laws passed by the government scuttle the MSP principle and undermine public procurement.

In a tweet in Hindi, Gandhi said, “Farmers have lost faith in the Modi government as there has been a difference in their deeds and actions right from the start – demonetisation, wrong GST and heavy tax on diesel.”

He also said that “awakened farmers know that with the agriculture bills, the Modi government will increase trade of its ”friends” and will attack the livelihood of farmers”.

Surjewala told reporters that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP were trying to mislead farmers and the people on the farm legislations which were “anti-farmer” and sought to “kill” farming.

“The prime minister is misleading the people and is anti-farmer. By bringing these “black laws”, the PM is attacking the farm sector and the lives and livelihood of farmers. PM Modi is trying to make farmers indebted to a select few of PM”s crony friends,” he said.

The BJP and Modi want to hand over the fate of farmers and farm labourers into the hands of a few crony capitalists, the spokesperson alleged.

“The armies are now standing against each other, with the Congress standing with the ”Pandavas”, who are the farmers, and against the Modi government and the BJP which are the ”Kauravas”,” Surjewala said.

“JD(U)”s Nitish Kumar, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), TRS, AIADMK, JJP, YSRCP and every other political party will now have to decide on whether they are standing with the ”Kauravas” or the ”Pandavas”. The time has come to stand with farmers and farm labourers,” he said.

The Congress leader also asked whether the Food Corporation of India would pay MSP to farmers when mandis (wholesale markets) are not there. Farmers with small land holdings don”t have the money even to pay bus fares, how will they sell their produce in far-flung areas, as sought by these bills, Surejwala said.

“Who and to whom would you give MSP to? Will the FCI go to the farmer’s fields to give MSP,” he asked.

Surjewala also attacked SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal for her “farce” of resigning from the Modi cabinet and questioned why she did not resign when the ordinances were brought in the cabinet in June.

Badal resigned on Thursday as the Union Minister for Food Processing Industries. “Why is Akali Dal still sitting with the BJP. Why do they not resign from the Lok Sabha.

This farcical drama would not work. Why does JJP”s Dushyant Chautala not resign and is still clinging to power,” Surjewala asked.

Chidambaram said the three pillars of food security are MSP, public procurement and Public Distribution System.

“The Farm Bills of the Modi government undermine the three pillars. The laws sought to be passed by the Modi government scuttle the MSP principle and undermine Public Procurement,” he said in a series of tweets.

“Will the TV anchors please point out the clause in the Farm Bills that stipulates that the price that the farmer will get from the purchaser “shall not be less than the MSP”? Will the TV anchors highlight the fact that the Congress Manifesto promised to create thousands of Farmers” Markets in small towns and large villages,” the Congress leader said.

To a question on the Congress promising to abolish the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act in its manifesto, spokesperson Surjewala said an attempt is being made to mislead people and farmers. Chidabaram said he was disappointed with BJP spokespersons” distortion of the Congress manifesto statement on APMC laws.

“Our Manifesto promised that we will create thousands of Farmers” Markets in small towns and large villages. Once that is accomplished, APMC laws can be changed. The way to liberalise agricultural marketing is to create more accessible markets and choice for the farmer. There will be rules to regulate such markets,” he said.

The former finance minister said the APMC system is indeed a safety net for the farmer but it is a restricted market that is not accessible to millions of farmers.

“We need to enlarge the market for agriculture produce while preserving the ”safety net” principle through MSP and public procurement,” he said.

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