Thursday October 19, 2017
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Eye in the sky: Drones to monitor Bihar polls

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New Delhi, Oct 8 : Drones will be used for the first time for surveillance in the upcoming Bihar assembly polls, according to a top election official.

“Helicopters have been used in the past for surveillance, but drones will be used this time, probably for the first time,” R Lakshmanan, Bihar’s Additional Chief Electoral Officer, told IANS in an interview over the phone from Patna. He declined to give operational details about the drone usage.

The task of conducting polls for the 243 assembly constituencies across the 38 districts of the country’s third most populous state will be done in five phases – October 12, 16, 28, November 1 and 5. Counting of votes will take place on November 8.

Lakshmanan said that arguably, the biggest challenges would be maintaining law and order, checking “use and misuse of money power”, the implementation of model code of conduct and “improving voter participation.”

About 4.89 lakh officials drawn from the civil side, and 6 lakh security personnel have been deployed to oversee poll preparations.

Lakshmanan said till October 6, Rs 15.56 crore in cash and close to 5.34 lakh litres of liquor which had been confiscated. The liquor was being stocked for distribution before voting days.

According to him, money and liquor were the two area which threw up challenges as far as monitoring election expenditure was concerned. So far, the election office has registered 265 FIRs for these violations.

In comparison, Rs 6 crore in cash and around 5.78 lakh litres of liquor were confiscated during the 2014 Lok Sabha election in the state, he said.

The other big challenge was over law and order. He said combing operations over the last couple of months in the 11-odd districts “where the Maoists threat is serious have fetched positive results”.

 

“There has been significant success with the recovery of 300 explosives and 800 odd illegal weapons,” he added.

He said the poll-day preparations have begun well in advance and adequate numbers of security forces were available for deployment.

Over 6.6 crore voters, including over 3.1 crore women voters, are eligible to cast their ballot at the 62,779 polling stations across the state. Some 1,200 of these polling stations in certain areas of Bhagalpur, Khagaria, Vaishali, Darbhanga and Supaul districts, besides others, fall in the riverine belt of the state and are difficult to access.

Poll officials are posed with the peculiar challenge of treading a difficult terrain and cross over a river to access the polling stations and reach out to the voters there, the election official said.

Lakshmanan pointed at another challenge. He said that religious festivals such as Durga Puja and Muharram in between the poll schedule pose a unique challenge. “We have to ensure communal harmony as we handle the security arrangements during these festivals in poll time,” he said.

Lakshmanan, a Bihar cadre bureaucrat, has previously served as the district magistrate of Darbhanga and was the district director of the education department’s mid-day programme.

He has been with the Bihar CEO Ajay Nayak’s office for past year and half.

He said a number of initiatives had been taken to get the approximately 50 lakh first time voter – between the age group of 18 and 19 – to vote.

The run-up to the staggered polls has also seen a number of leaders from across parties indulging in hate speech.

Lakshmanan said leaders generally adhere to the model code of conduct, and when “we see certain violations in speeches”, the commission sends a show cause notice.

For instance, senior state BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi and Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad were issued notices and both have responded to the Election Commission in New Delhi.

“Seven FIRs have been filed in this regard so far and a police probe is on,” he said. He did not give further details.

Lakshmanan said the days of booth capturing and violence at polling booths in the state are over as not a single such incident was reported during the polls in 2005, ’09 and ’10.

(Priyanka,IANS)

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Ahead of next month’s crucial elections, Indian filmmaker-writer Pankaj Dubey joins Britain’s Labour Party

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Britain's Labour Party Leader,Jeremy Corbyn, Twitter

Mumbai, May 3, 2017: Ahead of next month’s crucial elections in Great Britain, Mumbai-based author and filmmaker Pankaj Dubey has joined the Labour Party.

Welcoming him, Labour Party General Secretary Iain McNicol said members like (Dubey) would be the party’s greatest strength, especially during a general election.

Thanking him for “joining at this most important time”, McNicol said in a letter that “We must keep our movement growing to ensure we are as strong as possible on (election day) June 8.”

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British Prime Minister Theresa May announced a snap poll in a very volatile political situation in the backdrop of Brexit.

“I shall soon meet Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and brief him on issues pertaining to the Indian Diaspora in the UK and my plans to work among them,” Dubey, 38, told IANS here today on Wednesday.

“I decided to join the UK’s Labour Party as I think I can relate quite organically with its vision, modus operandi and ‘all inclusiveness’.”

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He said the Labour party has launched a drive to invite people to join it from across Commonwealth countries. “I am ecstatic to share the fact that the Labour Party is open to members coming from across the Commonwealth landscape globally,” Dubey added.

Dubey said he is not averse to settling down in the UK and fighting elections there in the future. He acquired his lawyer degree from University of Delhi followed by a Masters in Applied Communication from Coventry School of Art & Design, England.

Born in Ranchi, Jharkhand, Dubey is a best-selling bilingual novelist and filmmaker known for his books “What A Loser!” and “Ishqiyapa – To Hell With Love.”

A former journalist with BBC in London and the Resident Editor of Pravasi Today magazine for Indian Diaspora, Dubey said he later moved into filmmaking and is currently working on a couple of titles.

He was instrumental in organizing India’s first street film fest for slum and rural kids, ‘Sadak Chhaap Film Festival’ around seven years ago. (IANS)

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Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif inaugurates a Nuclear Power Facility built with assistance of China

The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) envisages a nuclear power production of around 8,800 megawatts by 2030

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PM Nawaz Sharrif
Pakistan Prime Minister to set up nuclear power plant in collaboration with China, wikimedia

 Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has inaugurated a nuclear power facility built with the assistance of China.

The plant at Chashma, in Pakistan’s Punjab province, adds 340 megawatts to the national grid. Beijing has already constructed two other nuclear reactors, with a combined capacity of more than 600 megawatts.

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The three power plants at Chashma are known as C-1, C-2 and C-3 respectively. They are part of broader plans to overcome long-running crippling power shortages in Pakistan.

“The next (nuclear) power project with an installed capacity of 340 megawatts, C-4, is also being built here (in Chashma with Chinese assistance). God willing, it will be operational and connected to the national grid in April, 2017,” Sharif told Wednesday’s ceremony.

Pakistan’s current electricity output stands at around 16,000 megawatts, including nuclear power production.

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The government plans to increase the power production by about 60 percent, mainly through Chinese-funded coal, gas and hydro-electricity projects under construction to try to boost Sharif’s re-election bid in next polls due in early 2018.

When Sharif took office in 2013Pakistanis were facing compulsory power outages for up to 12 hours a day, crippling daily life and plunging businesses into darkness.

The prime minister in his speech Wednesday reiterated his election promise to resolve the crisis by the next elections.

Officials say that Chinese experts and engineers had been running the newly-built C-3 plant “on a trial basis” for three months until they formally handed over its control to their Pakistani counterparts Wednesday.

Beijing is also helping Islamabad construct two nuclear power plants in the southern port city of Karachi at a cost of around $10 billion. The projects, with a combined capacity of around 2,200 megawatts, are scheduled to be completed by 2021.

Under the agreement, China will also provide enriched uranium for fuel.

The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) envisages a nuclear power production of around 8,800 megawatts by 2030.

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Pakistan built its first nuclear power plant of 137 megawatts at Karachi in 1972 and it is still in operation, though at a much reduced capacity.

China is the only country helping Pakistan build nuclear power plants because Western nations have put a moratorium on the supply of these facilities citing Islamabad’s nuclear weapons program.

Under a multi-billion dollar cooperation agreement, Beijing is also helping Pakistan construct a network of roads, rails, communication and power projects to boost ties between the two traditionally close allies.

The bilateral cooperation under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) plans to link the northwestern Xinjiang region to Pakistani deep-water port of Gwadar Gwadar in the Arabian Sea, providing Beijing the shortest possible access for its imports and exports to international markets.

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Kerala High Court Permits the Employment of Women in Liquor Retail Shops

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Representaional Image. Pixabay.

December 21, 2016: The employment of women in foreign liquor retail shops got permission by Kerala High Court.

According to court, such orders and rules “are violative of Article 14 and 15 of the Constitution and are therefore unsustainable,” said the court in a recent order about the Foreign Liquor Rules of the state government.

According to PTI, “Justice Anu Sivaraman issued the order while disposing of a batch of writ petitions challenging constitutional validity of Clause No 37 of Rule 7 contained in Chapter VI of the Kerala Abkari Shops Disposal Rules, 2002 and Licence Condition No 36 of Foreign Liquor Rules to the effect that no women shall be employed in any capacity in a toddy or foreign liquor shop.”

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The women said in their petition that they had participated in the selection and they had been included in the ranked list for the appointment to the post of peon/helper in the Kerala State Beverages (Manufacturing & Marketing) Corporation Ltd.

However, they were not given appointment in the vacancies, citing the rules and government order. A notification issued by the Kerala Public Service Commission also stated that women will not be entitled to appointment in shop vacancies.

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PTI reported that the court directed the Kerala Public Service Commission to advise the petitioners to appoint to the post of peon/ helper in the corporation immediately, from the ranked list, as the people who are lower down in the ranked list have already been appointed.

Further said, “This shall be done within a period of two weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this judgement. The petitioners shall be accommodated against the available vacancies without reference to whether such vacancies are in shops or otherwise.”

The court ruled, “If no such vacancies are available to accommodate the petitioners, they shall be accommodated against the supernumerary vacancies and adjusted against the next arising vacancies.”

The court has also directed the Kerala State Beverages Corporation, Kerala Public Service Commission and the state government in accordance with the judgement and in accordance with law, they should re-work the appointments made from the ranked list.

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The high court said, “In view of the fact that all vacancies have already been reported to the PSC, the 3rd respondent (the PSC) shall also re-work the ranked list and pass orders accordingly within a period of one month from the date of receipt of a copy of the judgement.”

prepared by NewsGram team with PTI inputs