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Govt rules out BSNL, MTNL disinvestment

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MTNL and BSNL

New Delhi, Dec 12 : The government on Thursday ruled out any plans to sell stake or disinvestment of ailing telecom PSUs — Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) in the Parliament while fixing a target of Rs 200 crore and Rs 300 crore for them from their asset monetisation in current fiscal.

While the specific assets to be monetised during the current fiscal year have yet not been identified, the target for asset monetisation during the current fiscal year for BSNL and MTNL is Rs 200 crore and Rs 300 crore respectively, telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a written reply to Rajya Sabha.

“(There is) no proposal for disinvestment of BSNL and MTNL is under consideration”, he said.

State run BSNL’s losses for the year 2018-19 has doubled to nearly Rs 15,000 crore from 2017-18 and revenue has also dwindled to Rs 19,321 crore in fiscal 2019.

In a written reply to Rajya Sabha, Telecom Minister said MTNL operates in metros of Delhi and Mumbai while BSNL operates in rest of India. The Cabinet has approved the revival plan for BSNL and MTNL which inter-alia, includes in-principle approval for merger of BSNL and MTNL. The merger will benefit BSNL/MTNL through pan-India footprint, synergy in operations, reduced fixed costs and overheads, sharing of technical infrastructure and enhanced Enterprise Business.

As per the figures given by him in 2018-19, BSNL posed a loss of Rs 14,903 crore and the loss was Rs 7,993 crore in 2017-18 and Rs 4,793 crore in 2016-17. MTNL posted a loss of Rs 3,398 crore in 2018-19, Rs 2,971 crore in 2017-18 and Rs 2016-17 as well.

The revenue of BSNL in 2017-18 was Rs 25,071 crore and Rs 31,533 crore in 2016-17. MTNL’s revenue was Rs 3,552 crore in 2016-17, Rs 3,116 crore in 2017-18 and Rs 2,607 crore in 2018-19.

India

Identity-based politics good for democracy: Mukherjee

He said the third victory of Indian democratic principles was the successful suppression of the radical and violent rebellion in Naxalbari through the ballot paper.

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Pranab-Mukherjee

New Delhi, Feb 23 : Former president Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday said democracy and republicanism were two values people must strive to protect and cherish, and termed identity politics a positive development in relation to the deepening of democratic ethos.

He was delivering valedictory address at the 10th edition of the Bharatiya Chhatra Sansad here.

“Democracy in India gave rise to identity-based politics. Purely from the lens of deepening democracy, I see this as a positive development because it leads to wider representation. However, an electorate divided on caste and community lines throws up a polarised mandate,” Mukherjee said.

Lauding the strength of Indian democracy, the former president said it had only deepened with time and added that good governance was critically dependent on prerequisites like inviolable adherence to rule of law, existence of participatory decision-making structure, responsiveness, transparency, accountability, corruption-free society, equity and inclusiveness.

“We have entered the 71st year of our Republic. Democracy and republicanism are two values which we must not only strive to protect, but also cherish, celebrate and treasure. Democracy is the rule of, for and by the people and the Republic signifies the rule of law,” he said.

Citing instances to stress the maturity of Indian democracy, Mukherjee said the foremost achievement of the first general election lay in the fact that it cemented the painstakingly brought about unification of India.

“Despite the complex arrangement of categorisation under parts A, B, C and D of the Provinces, States, Territory and areas, the entire geographical territory of India voted as a singular electorate, electing for themselves a single Union Parliament.

“Of course, by the time the second general elections happened, the complex categorisation had been done away with, since there were just states and UTs in existence,” Mukherjee said.

He described the participation of the Communist Party of India in the Constituent Assembly elections even though they were peripherally opposed to it as a marker of the strength of Indian democracy.

He said the third victory of Indian democratic principles was the successful suppression of the radical and violent rebellion in Naxalbari through the ballot paper.

“Indian democracy and its inherent power of assimilation have successfully thwarted insurgency and separate movements, and elections have successfully co-opted varied groups into the electoral mainstream.

“The various accords — Punjab Accord, the Shillong Accord, the Mizo Accord, the Assam Accord and the recent Agreement on Bru- Reang and Bodo people — are examples of the same,” the former president added.

Mukherjee, while addressing the youth, noted that India’s tryst with democracy was a story which needs to be told time and again.

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Cities

NRC will not be implemented in Bihar: Nitish

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Nitish Kumar

Patna, Feb 23: Chief Minister Nitish Kumar reiterated on Sunday that the National Register for Citizens would not be implemented in Bihar and only the National Population Register would be updated the way it was done in 2010.

The Janata Dal (United) president had in December already made its stand clear that the NRC would not be implemented in the state, though the party supported the Centre’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

“NRC is not going to be implemented here (in Bihar) and only NPR will be carried out the way it was done in the year 2010. It will be done on the basis of that only,” Kumar said in an official release.

He said this while addressing a function at the Maulana Azad National Urdu University at Chandanpatti in Hayaghat block of Darbhanga district, where he laid foundation stones for several schemes worth Rs 80 crore pertaining to minority welfare department.

Kumar laid stones for a 100-bed hostel at Biraul in Darbhanga, 100-bed hostel each for girl and boy for the university students, G plus three multi-storeyed building at waqf land and 560-capacity intake minority residential school, the release said.

Kumar had asked the Centre to drop new columns in NPR forms like parents’ places of birth and Aadhaar, saying they were “not necessary” and might lead to apprehensions.

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Cities

Anti-CAA protest turns violent in Aligarh, Internet blocked

The police lathicharged the protesters and also used tear gas shells to disperse the crowd.

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Aligharh Protest

Aligarh, Feb 23 : The protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) turned violent on Sunday evening after the women sitting on protest were asked to move from there.

Many shops, two-wheelers and police barricades were set ablaze and stone pelting was reported from Babri Mandi, Ghas-ki-Mandi and Upperkot.

The police lathicharged the protesters and also used tear gas shells to disperse the crowd.

The administration has also blocked Internet services in the area from 6 p.m. to 12 midnight.

A huge crowd has gathered to protest against the CAA and the NRC at Shahjamal Idgah here. Women protesters have been removed from Upperkot Kotwali area. The crowd has been chanting anti-government slogans.

Several Bhim Army workers were also present among the protesters at Delhi Gate and Upperkot area.

The police said the women started throwing stones at police vehicles. The police said they have identified several students of Aligarh Muslim University who are involved in the stone pelting incident.

Heavy police force has been deployed at Delhi Gate and Upperkot.

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