Current Affairs

Morning Brief: Rs 1,500 Crore Vowed For Clean Ganga Project; Aiyar Suspended For Modi Jibe; New Intifada Call

A girl washes her hands in the river Ganga. (DIPTENDU DUTTA/AFP/GettyImages)

Good morning, dear reader! Here’s your morning news and views brief for today.

Rs 1,500 Crore Pledged For Clean Ganga Project: Gadkari: The Centre has garnered commitments worth Rs 1,500 crore from international and domestic corporates and industrialists for cleaning Ganga, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Thursday. “I was in London last week to kick off a roadshow to promote the (Ganga rejuvenation) project. We have got commitments worth Rs 1,000 crore from various institutions and the UK-based business community,” the Minister for River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation said. “In addition, we have commitments worth Rs 500 crore from the domestic industry, as well,” he said. The minister said that the riverfront regeneration and development of ghats in Patna, Kanpur, Haridwar and Kolkata have been taken up by leading industrialists from the UK. The Centre estimates the cost of the entire project to run up to Rs 20,000 crore, he said.

Don't Discriminate Against Women For Marrying Outside Faith: SC: A woman cannot be discriminated against on her right to practise religion singularly for marrying a man outside her faith, the Supreme Court of India said on Thursday. A five-judge Constitution bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said a woman does not mortgage herself to a man by marrying him. She retains her religious identity when she exercises her right to marry outside her community under the Special Marriage Act. The court said the Special Marriage Act, 1954 gives the women a right of choice and nobody can take away the religious identity. The court also asked a Parsi trust in Gujarat to explore an amicable settlement regarding the demand of a Parsi woman, who had married a Hindu, to allow her to attend the last rites of her parents when the need arises. Hearing a petition filed by the woman, Goolrokh M Gupta, a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra asked the trust counsel Gopal Subramanium to apprise it on December 14 if she could be allowed to enter the Tower of Silence, where the dead of the community are laid to rest.

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Centre Plans Border Protection Grid To Check Illegal Immigration From Bangladesh: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said multi-layered border protection grid (BPG) would be set up across the India-Bangladesh border. He announced this after chairing a meeting with chief ministers of Indo-Bangladesh border states. “The grid will comprise various elements namely physical barriers, non-physical barriers, surveillance system, intelligence agencies, state police, Border Security Force and other state and central agencies. BPG will be supervised by a state level standing committee which will be chaired by respective state secretaries. BPG will ensure greater help for states in the overall border security. For putting in place the BPG, active participation of respective state governments is required,” Singh said. “We seek full cooperation from Bangladesh bordering states to control illegal activities in border areas. Border security is our top priority and there is a need to fast track border infrastructure development and strengthen border security,” Singh said.

March 2019 Deadline For 24x7 Power: Discoms May Be Penalised For Load Shedding: Power and Renewable Energy Minister R K Singh said his ministry is working on a law in co-ordination with states to provide 24x7 power to all, in the absence of which penalties will be levied on power distribution companies (discom). “We are aiming to provide 24x7 power for all by March 2019. We will also propose a law in which the discoms will be levied monetary penalties in case of load-shedding, unless it’s caused by an act of God. We will first send the proposal to all states,” said the Power Minister. From 2019, “gratuitous” load-shedding by discoms will attract penalties, Singh said, adding that he had asked discoms to reduce their losses to below 15 per cent by then. Singh said that 24x7 power is a fundamental right of every citizen of the country and that all states would have to ensure it by March 2019.

Mani Shankar Aiyar Suspended Over ‘Neech Aadmi’ Remark: Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar was suspended on Thursday from the primary membership of the party after Rahul Gandhi strongly disapproved his neech aadmi (degenerate man) remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A row erupted as Aiyar described the Prime Minister as neech aadmi (degenerate man) who lacked "civility", remarks that drew a swift response from Modi who said the people of Gujarat will give a fitting reply to the Congress. Within hours, the Congress issued a show cause notice to Aiyar and suspended him from the primary membership of the party. "I do not appreciate the tone and language used by Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar to address the PM. Both the Congress and I expect him to apologise for what he said," Rahul said on Twitter in an attempt to control the damage. After Rahul Gandhi's strong disapproval, Aiyar issued an apology. This is not the first time that Aiyar's remarks have landed the Congress in a spot during elections. Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in 2014, Aiyar had derided Modi as a tea seller who could never be prime minister.

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New Pakistan Order To Shoot Down American Drones: Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has been given orders to shoot down the United States’ drones if they violate the airspace of Pakistan, said Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman. The statement came almost a week after a US drone targeted an “alleged” hideout of the Haqqani network along Pakistan-Afghanistan border killing four people. Referring towards the terrorist attack on Minhas Airbase at Kamra in 2012, he said that the attack was the biggest tragedy in the history of PAF. We suffered a lot of losses in that incident but did not lose our morale, he said. “We have continued the fight against extremism with unflinching vigour and resolve since then, transforming the PAF into a much stronger force,” he said.

Hamas Calls For New Intifada Against Israel After Trump's Jerusalem Move: After US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, the powerful Palestinian Islamist group Hamas called on Thursday for a new uprising against Israel. “We should call for and we should work on launching an intifada in the face of the Zionist enemy,” Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in Gaza, Palestinians, Muslims and Arabs to hold rallies against the US decision on Friday, calling it a “day of rage”. Haniyeh called on Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to withdraw from peacemaking with Israel and on Arabs to boycott the Trump administration. Israel and the United States consider Hamas, which has fought three wars with Israel since 2007, a terrorist organisation. It does not recognise Israel’s right to exist and its suicide bombings helped spearhead the last intifada, from 2000 to 2005.

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