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Lok Sabha passes Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020

As per the Bill, Kashmiri will be the official language along with four other languages — Dogri, Hindi, Urdu and English.

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Lok Sabha

New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020 with voice vote, allowing Kashmiri, Dogri and Hindi, apart from the existing Urdu and English, to be official languages in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

Speaking on the Bill, Union Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy said that it was a demand of the people of Jammu and Kashmir that the languages they speak should be official languages of the UT.

Since 53.26 per cent of people in Jammu and Kashmir speak Kashmiri, there was a need to include it as the official language of the state, he said.

The minister added that people in Jammu and Kashmir speak as well as write Kashmiri, so there is no problem in including it as an official language.

As per the Bill, Kashmiri will be the official language along with four other languages — Dogri, Hindi, Urdu and English.

Reddy said that 26.64 per cent of the people in the UT speak Dogri, while Urdu, which is currently an official language, is spoken only by 0.16 per cent the population.

The minister said while the government is not against any regional language, the Bill gives importance to those 70 per cent people who speak Kashmiri and Dogri in the UT.

For the last 70 years, Urdu has been the official language of Jammu and Kashmir, he said, adding that 2.36 per cent of the population in the UT speaks Hindi.

Opposing the Bill, Hasnain Masoodi of National Conference said the Central government did not have the legislative competence to frame a Bill in this regard.

He said it is not a fact that only 0.16 per cent of the population in J&K speaks Urdu which is a link language between the Jammu region and the Kashmir Valley.

Masoodi asked that if only 0.16 per cent people in the UT speak Urdu, why would the government include it as an official language. No other state has five official languages, he added.

Participating in the discussion, Union minister Jitendra Singh said that he was surprised as the National Conference is opposing the inclusion of Kashmiri as an official language because his party ruled in the region for almost 60 years on the name of “Kashmiriat”.

“You have exposed yourself in front of Kashmiris by going against the language,” he said.

The Bill was later passed by a voice vote with Masoodi as the only Opposition member who objected to the draft legislation.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah later said in a tweet that it was a momentous day for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. “With this historic Bill…Long-awaited dream of the people of J&K comes true! Kahmiri, Dogri, Urdu, Hindi and English will now be the official languages of J&K.”

Under the Bill, Shah said that special efforts will be made for the development of major regional languages like Gojri, Pahari and Punjabi.

Along with this, the Bill will also strengthen the existing institutional structure for the promotion and development of regional languages.

Lauding the efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his commitment towards restoring the culture of Jammu and Kashmir through this Bill, Shah said that he wants to assure his sisters and brothers in Jammu and Kashmir that the Modi government will leave no stone unturned to bring back the glory of the erstwhile state.

Business

India extends $1 billion credit line to Central Asian countries for priority projects

Besides the $1-billion line of credit, India offered grant assistance for high impact community development projects to boost socio-economic development in Central Asia.

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India on Wednesday extended a $1-billion line of credit to Central Asian countries for priority projects in connectivity, energy, IT and health care, with the move being perceived as part of New Delhi’s efforts to boost its role as a transparent development partner.

The line of credit was welcomed by ministers of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyz Republic, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan during the second meeting of the India-Central Asia Dialogue held via video conference under the chairmanship of external affairs minister S Jaishankar. Acting Afghan foreign minister Haneef Atmar joined the meeting as a special invitee.

The meeting discussed cooperation in political and security matters, and all the countries called for settling the Afghan conflict on the principle of an “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace process”, according to a joint statement. The countries also condemned terrorism and reaffirmed their determination to destroy terrorist safe havens, networks, and funding channels.

In a tacit reference to Pakistan, the joint statement said: “They also underlined the need for every country to ensure that its territory is not used to launch terrorist attacks against other countries.”

Jaishankar told the meeting: “India and Central Asia share ancient historical and cultural linkages. We consider Central Asia as India’s ‘extended neighbourhood’.” He added, “We face common challenges of terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking… All these commonalities make us a natural partner in our developmental journey.”

Besides the $1-billion line of credit, India offered grant assistance for high impact community development projects to boost socio-economic development in Central Asia.

The ministers emphasised the importance of connectivity in increasing trade and commerce between India and Central Asia, and appreciated New Delhi’s efforts to modernise Chabahar port in Iran as an important link in trade and transport between markets in Central and South Asia, the joint statement said. The ministers agreed to promote joint initiatives to create regional and international transport corridors.

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India

ISRO adopts new satellite naming style, RISAT-2BR2 now EOS-01

The customer satellites are being launched under commercial agreement with NewSpace India Ltd (NSIL), the commercial arm of Department of Space.

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ISRO launch

Chennai, Oct 28 : The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has decided follow a new naming policy for its earth observation satellites, it is learnt.

Henceforth, the Indian space agency will be naming its earth observation satellites as EOS tagged with a serial number.

As a result, ISRO’s radar imaging satellite RISAT-2BR2 has been renamed as EOS-01, an official preferring anonymity told IANS.

The ISRO on Wednesday said its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C49) will launch EOS-01 as a primary satellite along with nine international customer satellites from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota.

The launch is tentatively scheduled at 3.02 p.m. on November 7, subject to weather conditions.

EOS-01 is an earth observation satellite intended for applications in agriculture, forestry and disaster management support, the ISRO said.

The radar imaging satellite with synthetic aperture radar (SAR) that can shoot pictures in all weather conditions.

The satellite can take pictures day and night and will be useful for surveillance as well as civilian activities.

This time around, the ISRO will be using the PSLV rocket’s DL variant that will have two strap-on booster motors.

This rocket variant was used the first time to put into orbit Microsat R satellite on January 24, 2019.

The customer satellites are being launched under commercial agreement with NewSpace India Ltd (NSIL), the commercial arm of Department of Space.

Owing to Covid-19 pandemic norms, ISRO has decided to close the rocket launch viewing gallery for the public during this launch and gathering of media personnel at the Sriharikota rocket port is also not on the cards.

(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at [email protected])

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Disaster

Delhi records highest new Covid cases since pandemic began

The cases on Wednesday came out of the 60,571 tests conducted the previous day. The tally of active cases today rose to 29,378 from 27,873 the previous day.

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New Delhi : Delhi reported an unprecedented rise in the number of daily infections on Wednesday. According to a health department bulletin, the national capital recorded 5,673 fresh Covid-19 cases, the highest single-day spike till date, taking the total case-load to more than 3.7 lakh with 40 new fatalities pushing the death count in the national capital to 6,396.

This is the highest single-day figure that Delhi has reported since the pandemic struck the country. The national capital, which is battling the third wave of infections, has been logging more than 4,000 cases daily for the last six days.

With the onset of the festive season, the unprecedented spike has raised concerns, especially when the national Covid tally has shown a steady decline.

The Covid-19 figures in the national capital have been increasing rapidly.

On Tuesday, Delhi reported 4,853 new infections and 44 deaths, which was also its highest daily spike. The number of fresh cases recorded on Monday stood at 2,832, and 4,136 on Sunday, while the figures were 4,116 on Saturday and 4,086 on Friday.

The cases on Wednesday came out of the 60,571 tests conducted the previous day. The tally of active cases today rose to 29,378 from 27,873 the previous day.

The Health Ministry had expressed concern over the spike in Delhi’s cases and is expected to hold a meeting with top officials of the UT government on Thursday to chalk out a strategy for prevention of the Covid spread, the officials said on Tuesday.

The unwanted record spike coincides with an extended festive season and the onset of winter.

Medical experts have suggested that the Covid-19 virus could become even more potent and fatal as the temperature drops.

The increase in Covid cases has also been linked to the worsening pollution in the national capital, which is preparing for its annual bout with “severe” and “hazardous” air quality levels.

Meanwhile, the daily national Covid tally of India is on a constant decline for over a week, which had been reporting close to one lakh cases daily till last month.

Experts say the country has passed its peak but a surge is looming over in view of festivities and laxity observed by the public.

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