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No politics as Sonia Gandhi graces book event

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New Delhi, May 23 : Sonia Gandhi was there and so was Sheila Dikshit but there was no politics on the agenda — and neither did anyone seek to inject politics into the evening’s event.

The occasion was the release of the book “The Unseen Indira Gandhi” (Konark), penned by Dr K.P. Mathur, who was the former prime minister’s personal physician for 16 years till her untimely death on October 31, 1984.

Now 92, Mathur managed to get Sonia Gandhi to grace the event on Monday for her late mother-in-law, a fact that was not announced by the organisers and took most of the audience at the India International Centre by surprise.

Sonia was relaxed, came early and mingled easily with the guests over tea and pakoras before the event began. With even the security men around her relaxed, many people took advantage of the occasion and their proximity to one of India’s most guarded leaders to take selfies with her, exertions which she mildly protested at but then gave in.

But no one talked politics.

Wearing a maroon saree and blouse, Sonia was content to sit in the audience and got up only to receive a copy of the book from the author, who was part and parcel of the Gandhi household and knew the family, including her children, Rahul and Priyanka, intimately.

In fact, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra wrote a foreword to the book, describing Mathur as a “storehouse of fascinating tales for my brother and me” who became “more a member of our extended family than just a part of my grandmother’s entourage”. She was not present at the event.

The audience broke into repeated applause when the former Delhi chief minister spoke of Indira Gandhi as one of the most remarkable women of the 20th century who brought India prestige and standing in the international arena.

Also present in the audience were those who were close to the Gandhi household at some point or other, including former ministers Jairam Ramesh, Mani Shankar Aiyar and former journalist Suman Dubey, who was a close friend of Rajiv Gandhi. Dr Karan Singh, MP, who has been close to the family for decades, was among those on the dais.

Interestingly, no one from the ruling establishment could be seen.

India

Railways studying dynamic pricing with discounts on tickets: Goyal

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Piyush Goel

New Delhi, Dec 16: Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Saturday said that Indian Railways is studying a dynamic pricing model, with discounts on train tickets as offered in airlines.

“We are studying a model under dynamic pricing, where we would also give discounts on train tickets, just the way in which it is offered in airways,” Goyal told reporters during a day-long brain storming session of railways titled Sampark-Samanvay-Samvad (connection, coordination and conversation) here.

He also asked why flexi-fares should only be meant for price increase in rail tickets.

“Just like airlines and hotels, where a person gets discount while booking at last minute, it should also offer discounts on the routes with relatively low occupancy,” he stressed.

“We are exploring this possibility and as the Chairman Railway Board Ashwani Lohani has come from Air India, he is studying the same,” Goyal said.

The Minister said that in 2018 railways will focus mainly on safety of passengers.

“We are committed to the security of our passengers and we are thinking of providing internet connectivity and CCTV on trains,” the Minister said.

He also said that discussions are on to provide CCTV on all trains across India.

To connect all the CCTVs he said that railways will provide WiFi connectivity at every station.

Stressing on “sweating” of rail assets to use it to its fullest capacity, Goyal said, “I have thought to sweat the assets of railways, the way in which it is carried out in airlines.

“In airlines we see the maintenance of an aircraft is completed within 30 minutes and it is made ready to go for another journey. In the same way I want the railway rakes to be utilised to full capacity,” he said.

“For example if a Rajdhani rake reaches Mumbai after a journey of 11 hours, then it can be maintained and cleaned by 22 teams in 30 minutes and again made fit to go on other journey of two or three hours, beside its original return journey,” he said.

The Minister was replying to a question on exploring the possibility of Rajdhani Express train making a round trip within 24 hours, with half-an-hour gap for inspection at either end, to maximise utilisation of such rakes.

The Minister said that railways will utilise the Nirbhaya fund for installing CCTVs at over 983 railway stations across the country.

“By December 2018 we are hopeful of installing them,” he said.

He also said that railways will take 2018 as a year where it will collectively fight against atrocities against women and children, especially human trafficking.

“We will do this across all the divisions of railways,” Goyal added.

The meeting is to also deliberate on how to improve punctuality, comfort, safety and aesthetics in railway operations.

IANS

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HC refuses to interfere in Sharad Yadav’s disqualification

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Sharad Yadav
Sharad Yadav, File Photo

New Delhi  : The Delhi High Court on Friday, in an interim order, refused to stay former JD-U President Sharad Yadav’s disqualification from the Rajya Sabha or allow him to attend the Winter Session of Parliament.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru however allowed him to draw allowances and perquisites including government bungalow for now.

Sharad Yadav, who has challenged his disqualification from the Rajya Sabha and also sought interim relief to attend the session, said that he was not given any chance to defend his case by the authorities before passing the order against him.

The court also asked Rajya Sabha Chairman and Janata Dal-United leader in the house Ram Chandra Prasad Singh to file their responses on Yadav’s plea and posted the matter for March 1, 2018.

On December 4, Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu, who is also Rajya Sabha Chairman, disqualified rebel JD-U leaders Sharad Yadav and Ali Anwar Ansari as members of the upper house of Parliament.

The JD-U, led by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar which was declared the “real” JD-U by the Election Commission in November, had sought their disqualification on the grounds that they had attended a rally of opposition parties in Patna in violation of its direction.

Naidu had agreed with the JD-U’s contention that the two senior leaders had “voluntarily given up” their membership by defying their party’s directives.

Yadav and Ansari and a section of the JD-U fell out with Nitish Kumar after the latter broke away from the “Mahagathbandhan” (Grand Alliance) with the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress to re-align with the Bharatiya Janata Party earlier in 2017.

Sharad Yadav was elected to the House in 2016 and his term was scheduled to end in 2022 and Ansari’s term was to expire in 2018.

IANS

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Celebs salute Indian Army on Vijay Diwas

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Vijay Diwas Indian Army

Mumbai, Dec 16: On the occasion of Vijay Diwas on Saturday, a string of Bollywood personalities like Anupam Kher and Amit Sadh salutes the valour and courage of the Indian Army.

Vijay Diwas is commemorated on December 16 every year in India as it marks the military victory over Pakistan during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.

Here’s what the celebrities tweeted:

Anupam Kher: My salute to Indian Army on Vijay Diwas. Jai Hind.

Amit Sadh: On Vijay Diwas, let us all remember the impeccable valour of our soldiers and salute the invincible spirit and sacrifice of the martyrs of 1971 War. They’re the ones who protect the borders to defend us every single day! Jai Hind.

Rakul Preet Singh: Saluting the real heroes of our nation and my dad who is my hero. Vijay Divas, proud army kid, Indian Army, Jai Hind. She also shared the poster of upcoming movie  ”Aiyaary”, on the occasion of Vijay Divas.

Ashoke Pandit: I salute our soldiers on this auspicious…Happy Vijay Divas. Jai Hind. Bharat Mata ki Jai.

WeForNews

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