Friday, December 20, 2013

GFFI Fitness Academy
Cordially invites you to organize a workshop based on
  “Core Blast”
22nd December‘13, Sunday, 12:30 to 2:30 pm
Ring Road, Punjabi Bagh Club (West)
New Delhi
 The interaction would be addressed by:
Mr. Neeraj Mehta, Fitness Professional, Nutritionist and Director of GFFI Fitness Academy
Topics to be discuss:
                §  What is core blast all about?
§  Myths and Facts about belly Fat
§  What foods cause belly fat?
§  How to correct diet to lose belly fat?
 Do let us know if you need any further information or want to interact with Mr. Neeraj Mehta.

Have a great day ahead!

Thanks & regards,

Sujoy Kumar Chowdhury
Manager Media
Impact Public Relations Pvt. Ltd.
Mobile- 9310333597


Vivekananda International Foundation  
cordially invites you to the release of 

 History of Ancient India
( A VIF Publication in 11 volumes edited by Prof. Dilip K. Chakrabarti & Prof. Makkhan Lal)
Shri L.K. Advani
Shri Arun Shourie                                 Prof. Kapil Kumar 
                will preside                                                                       will be the Guest of Honour
on Monday, 23rd December, 2013 at 4:00 pm 

Venue : Vivekananda International Foundation
3, San Martin Marg, Chanakyapuri 
               New Delhi-110021

Please join us for tea at 3.30 pm.

(Formal Invitation Card, list of Authors & cover page of 5 volumes attached)

RSVP: 011-2412-1764

Sexual Harassment of Women Sports-Persons

The Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Youth Affairs & Sports Shri Jitendra Singh has said that during the past, a few cases of sexual harassment of women sportspersons in various sports bodies were received by the Government. While action on such complaints including seeking reports from the concerned NSFs and giving suitable advice to NSFs was taken by the Government, state-wise data is not maintained.
In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha today Shri Jitendra Singh said, in order to bring in transparency and good governance in sports bodies, the Government has issued guidelines which, inter-alia, provide for prevention of sexual harassment of women in sports. These guidelines are contained in the National Sports Development Code of India, 2011 (NSDCI) which are effective from 31.1.2011. Under these instructions, the National Sports Federations (NSFs) are to take the following steps:
(i) Notify, publish and circulate in appropriate ways, express prohibition of sexual harassment.
(ii) Include rules/regulations prohibiting sexual harassment in their rules and regulations and provide for appropriate penalties in such rules against the offender.
(iii) Provide appropriate conditions in respect of work, leisure, health and hygiene to further ensure that there is no hostile environment towards women and no employee woman should have reasonable grounds to believe that she is disadvantaged in connection with her career.
(iv) Women should be allowed to raise issues of sexual harassment in appropriate forums and it should be affirmatively discussed.
(v) Complaint Mechanism: The NSFs should set up a complaint mechanism for redressal of the complaint made by the victim. Such complaint mechanism should ensure time bound treatment of complaints.
(vi) Disciplinary Action: Where such conduct amounts to misconduct, appropriate disciplinary action should he initiated in accordance with rules.
(vii) Criminal Proceedings: Where such conduct amounts to a specific offence under the Indian Penal Code or under any other law, the NSFs shall initiate appropriate action in accordance with law by making a complaint with the appropriate authority. In particular, it should ensure that victims or witnesses are not victimized or discriminated against while dealing with complaints of sexual harassment. The victim of sexual harassment should have the option to seek transfer of the perpetrator or their own transfer.
(viii) Complaints Committee: The complaint mechanism referred to in (g) above, should be adequate to provide, where necessary, Complaints Committee, a special counselor or other support service, including the maintenance of confidentiality. The Complaints Committee should be headed by a woman and not less than half of its member should be women. Further, to prevent the possibility of any undue pressure or influence from senior levels, such Complaints Committee should involve a third party, either NGO or other body who is familiar with the issue of sexual harassment.
(ix) Awareness: Awareness of the rights of the female employees in this regard should be created in particular by prominently notifying the guidelines in a suitable manner.
(x) Third Party Harassment: Where sexual harassment occurs as a result of an act or omission by any third party or outsider, the NSFs will take all steps necessary and reasonable to assist the affected person in terms of support and preventive action.


Kamal Nath: Five more Proposals Received for Central Assistance for Metro Projects

Five more Proposals Received for Central Assistance for Metro Projects says Union Urban Development Minister
Submission of Final Proposal for Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar Metro Awaited
The State Governments/Union Territories which have approached the Central Government for financial assistance to set up metro train network are Chandigarh Administration for Tri-City of Chandigarh, Mohali & Panchkula Metro Rail project, Government of Gujarat for Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar Metro Rail project, Government of Maharashtra for Pune Metro Rail project, Government of Punjab for Ludhiana Metro Rail project and Government of Uttar Pradesh for Lucknow Metro Rail project.
The above proposals are besides the projects that have already been sanctioned by Government of India, which are under operation or under various stages of implementation in Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kochi, Kolkata and Mumbai.
Govt. of Gujarat had forwarded a proposal in December, 2011 for metro rail corridor between Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar for a total length of 52 kms at a completion cost of Rs 9000 crore and requested this Ministry for Central Financial Assistance to the extent of 25% of the total cost of the project. The proposal did not fit the criteria of funding as per NUTP 2006 according to which Government of India provide funding upto 20% of the cost. Accordingly, the State Government was requested to submit its final proposal as per the GoI norms for funding. The State Government is yet to submit its final proposal.
As per National Urban Transport Policy (NUTP), 2006, Government of India provides funding to the extent of 20% of the cost of metro rail projects either through equity and subordinate debt (for 50% Central taxes/duties) if the project is taken up through a 50:50 jointly owned Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) of Government of India & the State Government or through Viability Gap Funding (VGF) if the project is taken up in Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode. Government of India also provides upto 50% funding for preparation of Detailed Project Report (DPR) of Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) projects.
This information was given by Shri Kamal Nath, Union Minister of Urban Development in the Rajya Sabha.


NTPC and KfW-(Germany) ink agreement for research cooperation

National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) has tied up a fixed interest term loan facility for EUR 55 million with KfW, the German government developmental financial institution to part finance the capital expenditure on Electro Static Precipitators and other selected packages of its Mouda Stage-II power project. An agreement to this effect was signed today by Shri G.K. Sadhu, Executive Director (Finance) on behalf of NTPC. The facility has a door to door maturity of 12 years including availability period of 4 years. The loan is on a standalone basis without sovereign guarantee reflecting the trust and confidence reposed by the German financial institution in NTPC’s strong credit quality and professional management. KfW has in the past provided financial support to the company’s renovation and modernization and emission reduction schemes. 
NTPC Ltd also signed a Financing Agreement with KfW-Germany today to setup of Solar Thermal and Photovoltaic Lab at NETRA under the aegis of Indo-German Research Cooperation through a Grant of Euro 5 million and matching contribution from NTPC. These world class labs are being setup with assistance from German R&D institutions M/s DLR, Cologne and ISE, Fraunhofer for characterization of Solar Thermal and Photovoltaic prototypes and components. 
The MoU was signed by Shri Thomas Joseph, Executive Director, NTPC-NETRA, Mr. Peter Hilliges, Director (KfW) and Mr. Andreas Thermann, Deputy Director (KfW) in presence of Shri A.K Jha Director (Technical), NTPC and other officials from NTPC and KfW


Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011

The Rajya Sabha passed the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011 on December 17, 2013 and the Bill has been passed by the Lok Sabha today.
Some of the important features in the Bill are as below:-
  • Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayukta at the level of the States.
  • The Lokpal will consist of a Chairperson and a maximum of eight Members, of which fifty percent shall be judicial members.
  • Fifty per cent of members of Lokpal shall be from amongst SC/ST/OBCs, Minorities and Women.
  • The selection of Chairperson and Members of Lokpal shall be through a Selection Committee consisting of:-
  • Prime Minister;
  • Speaker of Lok Sabha;
  • Leader of Opposition  in the Lok Sabha;
  • Chief Justice of India or a sitting Supreme Court judge nominated  by CJI;
  • Eminent jurist to be nominated by the President of India on the basis of recommendations of the first four members of the Selection Committee.
  • Prime Minister has been brought under the purview of the Lokpal.
  • Lokpal’s jurisdiction will cover all categories of public servants.
  • All entities receiving donations from foreign source in the context of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) in excess of Rs. 10 lakhs per year are brought under the jurisdiction of Lokpal.
  • Provides adequate protection for honest and upright Public Servants.
  • Lokpal will have power of superintendence and direction over any investigation agency including CBI for cases referred to them by Lokpal.
  • A high powered Committee chaired by the Prime Minister will recommend selection of the Director,CBI.
  • Directorate of Prosecution headed by a Director of Prosecution under the overall control of Director;
  • The appointment of the Director of Prosecution, CBI on the recommendation of the Central Vigilance Commission;
  • Transfer of officers of CBI investigating cases referred by Lokpal with the approval of Lokpal;
  • The Bill also incorporates provisions for attachment and confiscation of property acquired by corrupt means, even while prosecution is pending.
  • The Bill lays down clear time lines for Preliminary enquiry & investigation and trial and
towards this end, the Bill provides for setting up of Special Courts.
  • A mandate for setting up of the institution of Lokayukta through enactment of a law by the State Legislature within a period of 365 days from the date of commencement of the Act.


Katoch on Preservation and publication of archaeological Manuscripts

The Minister of Culture Smt. Chandresh Kumari Katoch has said that palm leaf manuscripts are preserved in a scientific manner by National Archives and are stored in a conducive atmosphere in repositories. Further in the year 2011, NAI and Soka University, Japan have jointly published facsimile copies of the Giligit Manuscript (medium-birch bark and one in palm leaf). Besides above National Museum, New Delhi has collection of Palm leaf Manuscript and coins which are scientifically preserved and are encapsulated/laminated in special reversible polyester film to minimize effects of pollutants. Publication on Palm leafs and other manuscripts are being done by National Mission for Manuscript. Similarly, inscriptions and coins are scientifically preserved by National Museum, Epigraphy and Science Branch of Archaeological Survey of India, including making of estampages of inscriptions in conventional method on paper. The mending and pasting of photo estampages, a prelude for digitization, is under process.
In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha today Smt. Katoch said, the Central Advisory Board on Archaeology (CABA) during its meeting held in the year 2009 had recommended the constitution of five sub committees i.e. Conservation and Preservation of Monuments; Exploration & Excavation; Antiquity and Museum; Epigraphy and Role and Restructuring of ASI. The recommendations of these five sub committees and minutes of the CABA meeting held on 2nd December, 2009 were confirmed during the CABA meeting held on 27th & 28th May, 2011. In pursuance of above, the vacant post in the Epigraphy Branch, archaeology cadre, etc. have been filled up. Draft policies/guidelines recommended by the subcommittees have been framed.


Kapil Sibal, Minister of Communications on Bandwidth of Spectrum

GSM Association in their communications has raised, among others, issues of refarming of 900 MHz band, spectrum pricing and allocation of entire 700 MHz band spectrum to mobile services. Giving this information in written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha today, Shri Kapil Sibal, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, said that the National Telecom Policy-2012 ( NTP-2012) envisages, among others, to make available additional 300 MHz spectrum for IMT services by the year 2017 and another 200 MHz by 2020. He said that the frequency bands 806-824/ 851-869 MHz, 824-844/ 869-889MHz and 890-915/935-960MHz are available for Telecom. The frequency band 698-806MHz has also been earmarked for telecom, out of which 15 MHz has been identified for non commercial usage. The refarming of spectrum in this band is being carried out. This would ensure introduction of new technologies and would accrue revenue to the Government.


Internet and Wi-Fi Plan for Rural Areas

The Government has approved a project for creation of National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) to connect all the Gram Panchayats of the country through Optical Fibre Cable (OFC). Giving this information in written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha today, Shri Kapil Sibal, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, said that NOFN is planned to connect all the Gram Panchayats (approximately 2,50,000 Gram Panchayats) in the country through optical fibre utilizing existing fibers of Central Public Sector Undertakings (CPSUs) viz. Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), RailTel and Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) and laying incremental fiber wherever necessary. Dark fibre network thus created will be lit by appropriate technology thus creating sufficient bandwidth at Gram Panchayats (GPs) level. Non-discriminatory access to the network will be provided to all the telecom service providers and other access providers to launch various services in rural areas. The project is being funded by Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) and is being executed by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) viz. Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL). BBNL is getting the project executed through 3 CPSUs viz. BSNL, RailTel and PGCIL.
Shri Sibal informed the House that three Pilot Projects have been completed to cover 30 Gram Panchayats of Arain Block in Ajmer District (Rajasthan), 15 Gram Panchayats of Panisagar Block in North Tripura District (Tripura), 14 Gram Panchayats of Paravada Block in Vishakhapatnam District (Andhra Pradesh). 59 Gram Panchayats in these three Pilot Project Blocks have been provided with 100 Mbps bandwidth.
Presently, the survey work is being done by the 3 CPSUs and tenders for supply of material and execution of the project are under process in BBNL and 3 CPSUs. The fibre connectivity is to be delivered at the Gram Panchayat Bhavan or any other suitable location in the Gram Panchayat identified by the concerned State Government/Union Territory Administration.
The initial estimate for the project is Rs. 20,000 Crore. The project is being funded by Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).
Tri-partite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for free Right of Way (RoW) has been signed with all States including West Bengal & Union Territories (UTs) except the States of Haryana and Tamil Nadu and UTs of Chandigarh and Lakshadweep. The efforts are underway to sign the MoU with the remaining States and UTs.


Extension of Time to Sez Developers

In addition to Seven Central Government Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and 12 State/Private Sector SEZs set up prior to the enactment of SEZ Act, 2005, formal approval has been accorded to 574 proposals out of which 391 SEZs presently stand notified.  A total of 175 SEZs have commenced export. A list showing State-wise distribution of formally approved, notified and operational SEZs is at Annexure-I.
Some SEZ developers have sought extension of validity period of the letter of approval granted to them for the execution of their projects stating reasons including adverse business climate due to global recession, delay in approvals from statutory/State Government bodies, delay in environmental clearance, lack of demand for space in SEZs, changed fiscal incentive regime for SEZs etc. After deliberations and taking into account the facts and circumstances of each case, the Board of Approval for SEZs has granted approval for extension of validity of approval in the case of several developers for the execution of their projects. The State wise position of extension of validity of approvals granted for developers from 1.4.2012 till 30.11.2013 is given as per Annexure-II.

State-wise distribution of SEZs
     (As on 05.12.2013)
Formal Approvals
Notified SEZs
Operational (Exporting) SEZs
Andhra Pradesh
Dadra & Nagar Haveli
Madhya Pradesh
Tamil Nadu
Uttar Pradesh
West Bengal

State-wise details of number of SEZ Developers granted extension of validity
of their Approvals for setting up SEZ  (w.e.f. 1.4.2012 to 30.11.2013)

Sl. No.
No. of SEZ Developers granted  extension of Approvals
Andhra Pradesh
Madhya Pradesh
Tamil Nadu
Uttar Pradesh
West Bengal


The information was given by the Minister of State in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry Dr. E.M.


Indo-Pak Trade at Glance


The trade data between India-Pakistan for last 3 financial years is as follows:

(Value in US $ Million)
Total Trade
Source -DGCIS, Kolkata
The Line of Control (LoC) Trade is a Confidence Building Measure implemented through M/o Home Affairs. Eligible items produced on either side of the LoC are traded under this mechanism at Zero duty between Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. LoC trade in Jammu & Kashmir is not India-Pakistan trade.
The information was given by the Minister of State in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry Dr. E.M.


Inclusion of Jat community in the Central List of OBCs

Inclusion of Jat community in the Central List of OBCs for the States of Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand and Bihar
The Union Cabinet today approved the following as suggested by the Group of Ministers.
Jats are already included in the State List of OBCs in nine States. Formal reports of the State Backward Class Commissions on the subject for the States of Haryana (2012) and Himachal Pradesh (2002) and books relating to socio economic status of farming communities in northern India and caste, land and political power in Uttar Pradesh are available. These may contain valuable and relevant material which can be utilized by the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) to give its advice on the demand for inclusion of Jats in the Central List of OBCs in the States of Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan (two districts), Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand and Bihar.
This decision would enable the Jat Community to avail the benefits of reservation available to the Other Backward Classes for employment/ admission in /to Central Government services and posts/ educational Institutions.
Jat Community has been demanding inclusion in the Central List of Other Backward Classes for various states. The NCBC which was set up under the NCBC Act 1993, has been entrusted with the function of examining requests for inclusion of any Class of citizens as a backward class in the lists (Central List of Other Backward Classes) and hear complaints of over inclusion or under inclusion of any backward class in such lists, and tender advice to the Central Government as desired appropriate. At present, the Jat Community is included, in the Central List of OBCs for the States of Gujarat – Jat (Muslim) and Rajasthan (except in Bharatpur and Dhaulpur districts). They are, at present, included in the State Lists of nine States. The requests of Jats for inclusion in the Central List of OBCs for the States of Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bharatpur and Dhaulpur districts of Rajasthan was earlier rejected by NCBC in 1997. The NCBC under the NCBC (Power to Review Advice) Rules 2011, decided to consider requests for inclusion of the Jat community after collecting additional socio-economic data through the ICSSR, in addition to data from the SECC. A GoM was constituted on 20.8.2013 to (i) engage with the representatives of the Jat community periodically; and (ii) apprise itself of the progress of the survey being conducted by NCBC through ICSSR in six states.


Inflation Indexed National Saving Securities

Inflation Indexed National Saving Securities- Cumulative (IINSS-C) Issued for Retail Investors
The Government of India, in consultation with Reserve Bank of India(RBI), has announced issuance of Inflation Indexed National Savings Securities-Cumulative (IINSS-C) for retail investors by opening the subscription on December 23, 2013 and closing the subscription on December 31, 2013. The subscription can be closed earlier than December 31, 2013 with a prior notice.
Interest rate on these securities would be linked to final combined Consumer Price Index [CPI (Base: 2010=100)]. Interest rate would comprise two parts, i.e. fixed rate (1.5% per annum) and inflation rate based on CPI and the same will be compounded in the principal on half-yearly basis and paid at the time of maturity. The final combined CPI will be used with a lag of three months, i.e. final combined CPI for September 2013 will be used as reference CPI for all days of December 2013.
Early redemptions will be allowed after one year from date of issue for senior citizens (i.e. 65 years and above of age) and 3 years for all others, subject to penalty charges at the rate of 50% of the last coupon payable for early redemption. Early redemptions, however, can be made only on coupon dates.
The eligible investors would include individuals, Hindu Undivided Family, Charitable Institutions registered under Section 25 of the Indian Companies Act and Universities incorporated by Central, State or Provincial Act or declared to be a University under Section 3 of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956 (3 of 1956). As distribution/ sale of IINSS-C would be through banks, eligible investors may approach the branches of State Bank of India, Associate Banks, Nationalized Banks, three private sector banks (viz. HDFC Bank Ltd., ICICI Bank Ltd. and Axis Bank Ltd.) and Stock Holding Corporation of India Ltd. during their working hours.


WTO held in Bali, Indonesia during 3-7 December 2013

WTO held in Bali, Indonesia during 3-7 December 2013
The Union Cabinet today approved the stand taken by India at the Ninth Ministerial Conference of the WTO held in Bali, Indonesia during 3-7 December 2013.
The two key issues for the Ninth Ministerial Conference of the WTO were Trade Facilitation and a proposal on Food Security.
While the accumulation and holding of public stocks for food security purposes is classified as non trade-distorting, procurement at administered prices (Minimum Support Prices in India) is considered to be implicitly trade distorting and is, therefore, subject to a limit under WTO rules.
Since the limit can be a constraint on the procurement operations of developing countries, India, along with other developing countries submitted a proposal in the WTO for a suitable amendment in the rules to address this issue.
During the conference, ministers agreed on a decision that provides for an interim period of protection to public stockholding programmes for food security purposes of developing country members from being challenged in the WTO, on the grounds of exceeding the support which they are entitled to provide. It further provides that members must agree on a permanent solution on this issue for adoption by the 11th Ministerial Conference of the WTO.
This Decision ensures that trade rules in respect of agriculture do not come in the way of initiatives aimed at self-sufficiency in food and stabilization of domestic prices. As a result of the decision, procurement operations of developing countries will not be constrained by their existing farm support limits. Developing countries will be able to run food security programmes for their under-nourished and hungry populations without the fear of violating WTO rules under the Agreement on Agriculture.
Prior to the Bali Ministerial Conference, the Cabinet had provided directions to the Commerce and Industry Minister on the stand to be taken by India. Acting on these directions, India took the position from the beginning that food security was non-negotiable and maintained its position that until a permanent solution to the issue was found, the interim mechanism must not be terminated.
As a result of its unwavering stand and the support it was able to muster, India succeeded in getting the text on Food Security appropriately amended.
The final agreed text addresses India’s core concerns. It has a firm commitment from members to work on a permanent resolution. In the interim, until a permanent solution is found, eligible members will be protected against challenge in the WTO, under the Agreement on Agriculture in respect of public stockholding programmes for food security purposes. By implication, until a permanent solution is found, countries like India will have the flexibility of providing support to its farmers without the apprehension of breaching its entitlements.
Since most of India’s demands and concerns were appropriately addressed in the Trade Facilitation Agreement, India endorsed the proposed Trade Facilitation Agreement. The new agreement will create a set of disciplines that would ensure that all WTO Members not only simplify their rules and procedures, but also follow modern techniques for facilitating clearance of goods across international borders. The agreement would eventually lead to reducing dwell time, removing unnecessary formalities and documentation, and ensuring faster release and clearance of goods at international borders. This will go a long way towards improving India’s trade administration and providing a more conducive business environment to traders.
On other issues being negotiated for the Ninth Ministerial Conference, India supported the broader consensus as it did not have any specific concern.
This was a landmark Ministerial Conference as the WTO has been able to conclude a multilateral agreement for the first time since its establishment. The outcome at Bali has restored faith in the WTO as a multilateral negotiating forum. It is a major step towards resuming the Doha Round of trade negotiations, especially in the agriculture sector. It has also given a clear signal to the world that while India is prepared to negotiate, it cannot and will not accept unbalanced agreements in any area, and least of all in an area of its topmost priority, namely food security and the welfare of its farmers and its poor.


Pinaka rockets successfully test-fired

Pinaka rockets have been successfully test-fired from a multi-barrel rocket launcher from a base at Chandipur-on-sea near in Balasore, Odisha on Thursday.
“Six rounds of Pinaka rockets were successfully tested from the proof and experimental establishment at Chandipur,” defence sources said.
Pinaka, which has undergone several tough tests since 1995, has been inducted into the armed forces and the present trials were conducted with some improvements in the system, the sources said.
The tests were conducted by personnel from Armament Research and Development Establishment, Pune unit.
The unguided rocket system was meant to neutralise large areas with rapid salvos.
The rockets with a range of 40 km, capable of acting as a force-multiplier, was developed to supplement artillery guns, the sources said.
The quick reaction time and high rate of fire of the system gave an edge to the Army during a low-intensity conflict situation, they said.
The system’s capability to incorporate several types of warheads made it deadly for the enemy as it could even destroy solid structures and bunkers.
The Pinaka system with a battery of six launchers could fire a salvo of 12 rockets in 44 seconds and could neutralise a target area of 3.9 sq km.


Awami activists sentenced to death in Bangladesh

Eight student activists of the ruling Awami League were sentenced to death and 13 others were given life terms on Wednesday by a fast-track Bangladeshi court in Dhaka for hacking to death a Hindu man during a nationwide strike in 2012.
“They (the eight) will be hanged to death,” pronounced tribunal-4 judge ABM Nizamul Haque at the packed courtroom as six convicts appeared in the dock.
During the 10-minute proceedings of the day, the court observed that Biswajit Das’ murder case is quite different from the others.
It took place in the broad daylight instead of night which was heinous and deplorable killing, the court said.
Two other death penalty convicts and 11 of the 13, who were awarded the life term, were tried in absentia as they were on the run to evade punishment.
Under the Bangladeshi law, the High Court must review death penalties even if the convicts do not appeal against the lower court’s verdicts.
The Chhatra League activists hacked to death the 24-year-old tailor on the street in Old Dhaka’s Bahadur Shah Park area on December 9 last year during the opposition enforced blockade.
The incident was captured live on television cameras. Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) is the student front of the Awami League.
Sutrapur police filed a murder case in this regard on the same day.
On June 2, charges were framed against the 21 Chhatra League activists. The murder drew flack on the ruling Awami League.
Reacting to the verdict, Das’s brother said, “I am satisfied…we got justice.”


US budget deal clears Senate hurdle

Senate advanced a bipartisan budget deal on Tuesday; virtually assuring passage of a bill that sets spending caps for the next two years and reduces prospects of a US government shutdown in 2014.
The Bill, which cleared a Senate procedural hurdle with a bipartisan 67-33 vote and has already won House approval, is now expected to pass Congress this week before lawmakers go on their year-end recess.
President Barack Obama has indicated he will sign the deal into law, which increases the USD 967 billion cap for 2013 spending to USD 1.012 trillion next year, and importantly brings some normalcy to a budget process rocked by chaos in recent years.
Passage will allow lawmakers to spend their two-week break crafting spending plans for government agencies such as the defence and agriculture departments. Those appropriations must be made and agreed to by January 15, or lawmakers risk a government shutdown.
Tuesday’s advancement required 60 votes to break a Republican filibuster, or blocking tactic. The deal received support from all Democrats and 12 Republicans, a surprising number given the opposition voiced by conservatives who said the deal failed to sufficiently rein in federal spending.
A vote on final passage, which requires a simple majority in the 100-seat chamber, is expected tomorrow. By all accounts the deal is a modest one.
It eliminates USD 63 billion in blunt automatic spending cuts known in Washington as sequestration, and reduces the deficit by about USD 23 billion.
The accord, struck by Democratic Senate Budget Committee chairwoman Patty Murray and Republican House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan, does not close tax loopholes or include an extension of unemployment benefits, something Democrats have complained bitterly about.
Nor does it address reform of entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, an approach long-advocated by Ryan, the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2012. “This bill is a compromise and that means neither side got everything we wanted, and we both had to give a bit,” Murray told her colleagues.
“It doesn’t tackle every one of the challenges we face as a nation. That was never the goal,” she added. But it “takes the first steps toward rebuilding our broken budget process.”
Washington has been embroiled in a near-constant cycle of fiscal warfare since 2011, when a grand bargain between Obama and Republicans collapsed. The gridlock came to a head in October, when the feuding parties failed to agree on a budget and plunged the government into a costly, 16-day shutdown.


Abdul Basit to be new Pakistani envoy to India

Pakistan on Thursday appointed career diplomat Abdul Basit as its new High Commissioner to India.
Basit, 55, was earlier tipped to take over as Foreign Secretary but the government recently made several changes in proposed appointments.
The government initially zeroed in on Syed Ibne Abbas as the new envoy to New Delhi but changed its mind as officials felt he was too junior for the crucial posting.
Though the government decided on Basit, a former Foreign Office spokesman, nearly 10 days ago, a formal notification was issued only on Thursday, official sources said.
Basit will take over in New Delhi from former Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir at a time when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is pushing for better ties with India.
Basit earlier served as a Director General during 2008-09 and as Additional Secretary (Europe) during 2009-12.
His last posting was as the envoy to Germany.
Current High Commissioner Salman Bashir had been asked to continue in New Delhi for Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s visit to India last week.


China asks Nepal’s Maoists to accept poll

 Chinese leader has asked the Maoists in Nepal to accept the election results and join the constitution-writing process to ensure progress and peace in the country.
Ai Ping, the vice-minister of the International Department of Communist Party of China (CPC), held separate meetings with UCPN-Maoist chief Prachanda and CPN-Maoist leader Mohan Baidya and said that the message from China was loud and clear: get involved in the constitution-writing process, the Himalayan Times reported.
The UCPN-Maoist, which received an unexpected drubbing in recent polls, is hesitant to join the Constituent Assembly while its breakaway faction CPN-Maoist is calling for an outright boycott of the assembly.
Ping also asked Prachanda to accept the election results.
“Our observation is that the people of Nepal have given the mandate that parties should move ahead by forging consensus,” Prachanda’s aide Chudamani Khadka quoted the Chinese leader as saying.
The UCPN-M chairman told the Chinese vice-minister that his party “will play a constructive role in the new CA to achieve the task of writing the constitution and concluding the peace process”.
Claiming that the votes were rigged, the UCPN-M had taken a tough stance to not become a part of the 601-member CA until an independent probe commission was set up, putting the process of drafting the countries constitution at risk.
“We apprised the envoy and the vice-minister of the post-election developments, our party’s commitment to write the constitution and our stance on election results,” UCPN-M leader Krishna Bahadur Mahara said.
Ping arrived in Kathmandu on Tuesday, leading a 14-member delegation. He is the senior-most CPC official to visit Nepal since the November 19 elections.
He also meet Nepali Congress President Sushil Koirala and CPN-UML Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal on Thursday, whose parties emerged as the top two in the elections.


Malian president’s party wins parliamentary election

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and its allies has won the Mali the West African nation’s parliamentary elections, according to provisional results announced by the government.
The Rally for Mali (RPM) and its junior partners have 115 of the 147 seats in the national assembly following a second round of voting on Sunday, Minister of Territorial Administration Moussa Sinko Coulibaly said on Tuesday on state television, with the exact breakdown still to be worked out.
The Union for the Republic and Democracy (URD), the party of beaten presidential candidate Soumaila Cisse, will have between 17 and 19 members in the new parliament, allowing him to realise his ambition to be leader of the opposition.
Turnout in the second round reached 37.2 per cent, a drop on the 38.6 perc ent achieved in the first round, which itself was deemed disappointing.
The election marked the completion of Mali’s return to democracy after it was upended by a coup last year and then had its northern half occupied by Islamists linked to Al-Qaeda before being liberated by a French-led military intervention launched in January.
There were no serious incidents during 10 hours of voting but many voters were believed to have stayed away because of a recent upsurge in rebel attacks against African troops tasked with election security alongside French and Malian soldiers.
Two Senegalese UN peacekeepers were killed and seven wounded on Saturday when a suicide bomber ploughed his explosives-laden car into a bank they were guarding in the northeastern rebel bastion of Kidal. The second round of the parliamentary election was Mali’s fourth nationwide ballot in less than five months and some observers also blamed voting fatigue for the low turnout.
Louis Michel, the European Union’s chief election observer in Mali, said on Monday his team had positively evaluated 98 per cent of the 705 polling stations observed during the election. He said the “legal framework” for the polls “remains aligned with international standards for democratic elections”.
Michel also headed the EU’s observation mission for the first round on November 24 and for the presidential polls which brought Keita to power in July and August.
“Nobody would have thought we could organise the return to constitutional order and the rule of law this fast,” Michel said, adding that Mali had “now found democratic conditions to allow it to reboot to assume full development, education and reconciliation”.
Previous elections have been marred by accusations of widespread fraud and the result becomes official only if it is confirmed by the constitutional court in the coming days.

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