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Vijayan holds meeting over Sabarimala verdict

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Pinarayi Vijayan

Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 1: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday held a meeting over the September 28 Supreme Court verdict that threw open the Sabarimala temple to all women, and discussed steps to welcome women this upcoming season.

“The meeting has decided to increase facilities at various camps en route to the temple. At the Nilackal base camp, we have today decided to increase pilgrim facilities from 6,000 to 10,000. There will also be a special enclosure for women,” State Minister for Devasoms (a watchdog body of temples which oversees the functioning of all the Devasom Boards in Kerala), K.Surendran told the media here after the meeting.

He said the toilets for women will be in a different colour.

“Facilities at the bathing enclosure in river Pampa will also be increased.”

The Minister said that while online booking for ‘darshan’ is already available on the temple website, authorities are also trying out ways for booking via mobile apps.

“We have decided to increase the lighting facilities all around the temple town. Under the new scheme of things, all vehicles will be parked at Nilackal and from there pilgrims will have to take the bus service. Twenty-five per cent of all buses would be kept aside for women,” said Surendran.

Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy asked Vijayan not to show any haste with regard to the judgement which has allowed women of all ages to enter the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala.

“There is no doubt that the apex court ruling should be adhered to, but it has also come as a shock to others… The state government should explore all options and not implement the verdict in a hurry,” said Chandy.

Sasikumar Varma, a spokesman for the Pandalam Royal Family, which has an integral role in the affairs of the Sabarimala temple, said the palace was disappointed with the verdict and on Tuesday they will stage a protest by reciting hymns at the Pandalam temple.

Senior CPI-M leader, A.Padmakumar, who is also President of the Travancore Devasom Board, on Monday disapproved the verdict, saying that no female members from his family would go to the temple.

State Bharatiya Janata Party President P.S.Sreedharan Pillai told the media in Kozhikode that the state government was not taking into account the feelings of a huge number of believers in the tradition of the temple.

“We will support the believers and be with them. The state government should consider coming out with an ordinance to protect the concerns.”

On September 28, in a 4:1 judgment, the apex court said the ban on women in the menstruating age group, whose presence in the Lord Ayyappa temple was considered to be “impure”, violated their fundamental rights and constitutional guarantee of equality.

Until now, girls below 10 years and women over 50 years were allowed to visit the hilltop shrine, located in the Western Ghats and about 130 km from Thiruvananthapuram.

The temple is hugely popular in southern India.

IANS

India

India’s projects in Africa ‘empower rather than extract’: Jaishankar

The minister didn’t refer to other countries involved in the development of Africa in his remarks, made during a virtual event organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry, but it appeared he was comparing India’s track record to that of China.

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eam jaishankar european parliament

External affairs minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday held up India as Africa’s most steadfast partner, whose projects would “empower rather than extract from local communities” and ensure sustainable development.

Jaishankar didn’t refer to other countries involved in the development of Africa in his remarks, made during a virtual event organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry, but it appeared he was comparing India’s track record to that of China.

Describing maritime security as the new frontier in cooperation between the two sides, he said India offers Africa “an honest partnership and room to maximise its space under the sun and multiply its options” in all spheres.

“Africa is, of course, not without its options and by no stretch does India claim to be the only one. However, what we can promise is to be Africa’s most steadfast partner,” he said in his speech at the CII-Exim Bank digital conclave on the India-Africa project partnership.

Pointing to India’s partnership with Africa, Jaishankar said the country has implemented 194 developmental projects in 37 African countries and is working on 77 more in 29 countries with a total outlay $11.6 billion. These projects, which are in sectors such as infrastructure, ICT, power generation, water, roads, railways and agriculture, foster entrepreneurship and “empower rather than extract from local communities”, he said.

The projects also marry transparency and technology with imperatives of social and ecological sustainability, he said. “This is the template we offer our African friends,” he added.

In recent years, China has faced criticism for bringing in large numbers of its nationals to work on projects in Africa and for “debt trap” financing of projects under its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Against the backdrop of the border standoff in Ladakh, India has stepped up developmental assistance and projects for countries in its immediate neighbourhood.

Jaishankar also highlighted the importance of the Indian Ocean in ties between India and Africa, saying it has “acquired even greater salience” and the two sides “need to cooperate to preserve and protect it”.

In the field of trade, the minister noted that India is Africa’s third-largest export and Indian investments in the continent total $54 billion. He also welcomed the coming into force of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement because of the possibility of increased business. India’s oil and gas firms have invested $7 billion in a gas field in Mozambique and $0.5 billion in South Sudan, and these make Africa a “crucial energy partner for India”, he said.

Jaishankar also pointed to India’s maintenance of critical supply chains to provide medical supplies to Africa amid the Covid-19 pandemic as another instance of its reliability as a partner. Describing the pandemic as the most debilitating global event of the past 80 years, he said it posed a challenge to the global economy, reliability of supply chains and achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.

“For India, Africa’s rise as one of the global system’s poles is not just desirable, it is absolutely necessary. In fact, it is fundamental to our foreign policy thinking. Broader global rebalancing is incomplete without the genuine emergence of Africa. Only then will the world’s strategic diversity come into full play,” he said.

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Cities

Stubble Burning: 332 villages identified as red zones in Haryana

Additional chief secretary (ACS), agriculture, Sanjeev Kaushal said the Haryana government has also decided to provide financial assistance to 11,311 individual farmers who have applied for agricultural implements under the crop residue management scheme.

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stubble burning

In anticipation of stubble burning incidents across the state, the Haryana agriculture department has identified red, yellow/orange and green zones in every district on the basis of incidences of crop residue burning last year. An official spokesperson said 332 villages fall under the red zone and 675 in yellow zone.

Additional chief secretary (ACS), agriculture, Sanjeev Kaushal said the Haryana government has also decided to provide financial assistance to 11,311 individual farmers who have applied for agricultural implements under the crop residue management scheme ‘Promotion of Agricultural Mechanization for In-Situ Management of Crop’, in the current growing season. The total assistance of about ₹155 crore at the rate of 50 % will be given.

The department will also provide 454 balers, 5,820 super seeders, 5,418 zero till seed drills, 2,918 choppers/mulchers, 260 happy seeders, 389 straw management systems, 64 rotary slashers/shrub masters, 454 reversible mould ploughs and 288 reapers to the beneficiaries.

Online applications for agricultural implements were invited from individual farmers and societies till August 21. As many as 11,311 farmers applied for 16,647 implements, against a target of 2,741, in the individual category, he said.

The state government has also decided to give preference to small and marginal farmers in hiring of machinery from Custom Hiring Centres (CHCs), and in providing equipment to individual beneficiaries under the scheme. A comprehensive plan has been approved for crop residue management to prevent stubble burning. It included fusion of in-situ and ex-situ crop residue management techniques, apart from monitoring activities through a dedicated control room, and registration of FIRs against violators.

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Rajya Sabha holds crucial meeting as Opposition boycotts Parliament proceedings

The Opposition parties have alleged that they were informed just an hour ago about the BAC meeting, leaving them little time to attend the meeting.

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Rajya Sabha

New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha has called its Business Advisory Committee (BAC) meeting on Tuesday after a day-full of hectic activities, protests and passage of several bills.

But the Opposition, which announced to boycott the Upper House for the remainder of the session, will not attend the meeting.

TMC’s Derek O’Brien, SP’s Ram Gopal Yadav, Congress’s Anand Sharma and Jairam Ramesh and RJD’s Manoj Kumar Jha are the five Opposition leaders who will skip 11-member committee meeting.

The BAC is a panel led by Rajya Saha chairman Venkaiah Naidu to discuss the weekly agenda of the House.

The meeting has been called amid indications that the House might be adjourned in a day or two.

The Opposition parties also alleged that they were informed just an hour ago about the BAC meeting, leaving them little time to attend the meeting.

Rajya Sabha officials pointed out that the meeting was decided at a short notice and all efforts were made to inform the members of the panel as quickly as possible.

On Sunday, the Rajya Sabha passed the two key farm bills – Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, amid fierce protests in the house.

While the Opposition claimed that the bills were anti-farmer, the government says that these bills will help boost the farming sector through private investments. On Monday, eight Opposition MPs were suspended for unruly behaviour.

On Monday, the opposition demonstrated its disapproval in the Upper House of Parliament against the suspension of MPs and passage of these bills and boycotted the Rajya Sabha for the remaining part of the session.

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