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Will look at combat role for women with open mind: Sitharaman

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New Delhi, Sep 3: Set to take charge as India’s first, full-fledged woman Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday said she would look into the matter fo giving combat role to women with an open mind and not as a matter of patronage.

Asked if she would look into the case of combat roles in the armed forces, she said: “This is the matter where I definitely look into all the things before me with open mind that open mind which is required for this matter and not patronage”.

“I think during his brief term, (Arun) Jaitley ji has taken lot of calls in lot of matters… I also want to see the files (on women in combat roles) where they stand… Earlier when I was member of National Commission for Women, these matters for woman empowerment and true empowerment of women were discussed,” she said in an interview to CNN News 18 news channel.

Asked if her selection as Defence Minister broke a glass ceiling, she said: “Yes. Absolutely.”

“I think the Prime Minister has always supported women but today I think he has sent a very big message. Everything Indian women were waiting for.. it is for us to work through and perform (to achieve it).

“I am overwhelmed. I understand the impact of the decision. It is a huge responsibility. I just have no words in which I can convey my gratitude to the Prime Minister, the party and to my senior colleagues that they thought I am good enough for the role,” she added.

Sitharaman also said it sent out a message to the world.

“Imagine, the Cabinet Committee on Security having two women… Decisions on security-related matters being taken at par with men… This is a big message to all the countries which look up to India or even look at India saying what is happening to women in India,” she added.

In past, late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had held the portfolio of defence twice – from December 1 to December 21 in 1975, and January 14, 1980 to January 15, 1982.

IANS

India

Rajnath Singh reviews infra requirements at borders

The officer also briefed the minister that there has been a major surge in outcomes in BRO work in the last few years.

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Rajnath Singh

New Delhi, July 7 : Amid ongoing tension at the borders with China, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held a review meeting with Border Roads Origination (BRO) officials on Tuesday to discuss the improvement of infrastructure near Line of Actual Control with China and Line of Control with Pakistan, sources said.

“Defence Minister Rajnath Singh reviewed the ongoing projects with DG BRO (Border Road Organisation) and other senior officials at a meeting in South Block today,” the Ministry of Defence said.

During the meeting, Singh has directed that all border infrastructures to be fast tracked so that movement of forces should not be affected.

DG, Border Roads Organisation, Lieutenant General Harpal Singh briefed the minister that since inception the organisation have been a leading road construction agency involved in construction of roads, bridges, tunnels and airfields in remote border areas and have also undertaken construction in friendly foreign countries like Bhutan, Myanmar, Afghanistan in line with our overall strategic objectives.

The officer also briefed the minister that there has been a major surge in outcomes in BRO work in the last few years.

The BRO has executed about 30 per cent more work in 2019-20 as compared to 2018-19. The officer said that the BRO has executed 1,273 kilometres formation cutting, 2,214 kilometres of surfacing, Rs 1,715 crore of permanent work, 2,979 kilometres of major bridges, Rs 689 crore of tunnel work and 2,498 kilometres of re-surfacing in 2019-20.

In the last two years since 2017-18 there has been a surge of 44 per cent in formation cutting, 15 per cent in surfacing, 55 per cent in permanent work, 17 per cent in major bridges and 49 per cent in resurfacing works.

The overall expenditure for 2019-20 was Rs 7,867 crore as compared to Rs 5,458 crore in 2017-18 and Rs 6,859 crore in 2018-19, the officer explained.

Last month, the government approved an additional Rs 1,691 crore for highway projects by the Border Roads Organisation in Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand.

Further, amid escalated tension between India and China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), Lt Gen Harpal Singh had made a visit to the under-construction 8.8 km-long Atal Rohtang Tunnel that is set for a September opening.

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Haunting Past: Frontrunner for Air India Ops director comes under criticism

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Air India 777

New Delhi, July 7 : A frontrunner candidate for Air Indias Director Operations post has come under criticism from certain section of the airline for his past record of siding with unions against the national carrier.

According to sources, the current Executive Director for Operations Captain R.S. Sandhu has in the past been allegedly hand-in-glove with a particular pilots” union.

“He was terminated once due to his close association with one of the pilots” unions. He had sided with this union during a strike. Now as a member of senior management, how can we trust him not to repeat the past incident,” sources said adding that he is one of the frontrunner candidate for the post.

“After the strike, he was reinstated back but only after a deal was struck between the management and the union. These past incidents are serious and must not be ignored.”

The event in reference is from 2011, when a pilots” union of erstwhile Indian Airlines” went to strike.

Subsequently, Sandhu was terminated as a deputy general manager operations in April 2011, when he openly sided with the erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots” demand to get parity with those from IPG.

However, in May after a settlement was reached between the union and the airline, Sandhu was re-instated.

Interestingly, this past incident among some others have been in public knowledge but it is only now that some quarters of the airline have started to speak about these.

Nevertheless, another source in the airline said the post of Director Operations is vacant since March-end and the selection process has been stalled due to the pandemic and airline”s divestment process.

“Therefore, no recruitment to this position is taking place as of now,” the second source said.

Last year in December, Ministry of Civil Aviation had invited application for three director level posts including that of Director (Operations).

At present, executive director-level officials are officiating these positions.

Till March, Captain Amitabh Singh was officiating as operations director.

In 2018, Captain A. K. Kathpalia was removed from this post, after his alcohol direction test results came positive after operating a flight.

As a result, his flying licence was suspended for three years.

The post in question is both coveted and controversial as the incumbent is always under scanner of all the employees, the second source added.

–IANS

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No manual cleaning of sewage chambers in Rajasthan, says CM Gehlot

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Ashok Gehlot

Jaipur, July 7 : No sanitation worker should be forced to enter into sewage chambers to clean the sewer lines, said Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot while addressing a video conference with public representatives and urban bodies.

The entire cleaning work should be done by machines and there should be no deaths during cleaning of sewerage lines, he instructed all district collectors and civic authorities on Monday.

Gehlot said that the sanitation workers, who have been risking their lives to keep us safe, played a strong role in keeping the city, streets and neighbourhood free from the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The government was able to check the spread of the pandemic due to the dedication with which the sanitation workers and the public representatives of the urban bodies worked, he added.

The CM said that Rajasthan”s pride “increased” in the nation owing to hard work by doctors, nurses, anganwadi workers, police, sanitation workers and urban bodies. In fact, Rajasthan was the first state to provide insurance cover of Rs 50 lakh to government and non-government personnel engaged in Covid-19 battle, he said.

The CM also took suggestions from the civic body mayors, chairpersons, councillors and others and released two posters to create awareness among the people against the virus.

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