1. Delhi Sees Worst Smog in 17 Years as Risk of Asthma, Heart Disease Looms
The unseasonal haze that has engulfed Delhi is not only choking the city, it is driving its residents towards an early grave.
Delhi’s worst smog in 17 years, which has pushed pollution to levels higher than on Diwali night, is making children wheeze, giving the otherwise healthy a chronic cough, and risking 17 million people to asthma, heart disease, stroke, and even cancer.
All this while authorities – be it the state government or the Centre – are either mouthing platitudes or promising “action plans” that are not being implemented.
Instead of implementing severe measures such as declaring a “red alert” and shutting down schools, construction activities and non-essential businesses, the Delhi government, the Centre and pollution-control agencies are busy passing the buck to each other.
Two days after Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia belatedly promised a slew of measures to curb pollution, a Delhi government spokesperson suggested on Thursday that unchecked pollution was the Centre’s fault.
2. 4-Slab GST Will Spare Common Items in Bid to Curb Inflation
India's most ambitious tax reform since Independence took a giant leap forward on Thursday with the Centre and states agreeing on the rates for the Goods and Services Tax (GST). To be implemented from 1 April 2017, the GST– which will subsume several taxes, including excise duty and VAT – will have four rates.
Currently, there are 15-20 tax slabs between the Centre and states. Coal, luxury and sin goods (eg: cigarettes and alcohol) will attract cess in addition to the GST.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the GST Council had agreed to zero-rating for nearly half the items in the consumer price index (CPI) basket as well as major foodgrains, while goods of everyday use would attract 5% GST, as against 6% proposed earlier.
The government suggested that the rate structure would be non-inflationary as rates on several items would come down.
3. Audio Clip From Police Adds a Twist to Bhopal ‘Encounter’
A nine-minute audio clip believed to be from the police control room in Bhopal recorded on the day when the eight under-trial prisoners were gunned down in a police encounter, hours after their escape from the Bhopal Central prison, has raised questions about the entire episode.
The audio clip, which has surfaced now, suggests that the policemen had orders to kill the eight under-trials and there was no intention to arrest the suspects. A part of the clip also suggests that the under-trials fired at the police party, which tried to corner them on a hilltop at Eintkhedi village on the outskirts of Bhopal. A policeman is heard saying, “bilkul peeche nahin hathna hai, kaam tamam karna hai (you don’t have to retreat, just finish all of them).”
The authenticity of the audio tape has not been verified yet. Earlier, two video clips had surfaced where a policeman was seen shooting a seemingly lifeless body from close range.
4. ITBP, Chinese Forces Face-Off in Demchok Over Water Project
The Indo-Tibetan Border Police and the Army have been engaged in a face-off with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army along the Line of Actual Control in Leh’s Demchok area since Wednesday, a top government official told The Hindu.
The official said around 50 Chinese Army personnel had come close to the Indian side of the LAC and were refusing to go back. The Chinese side is objecting to an irrigation project under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act to link a village with a ‘hot spring’.
The Chinese troops took positions and demanded that work be stopped as either side needs permission before undertaking any work.
India disputed the claim, stating that as per the agreement between the two countries, information about construction needs to be shared only if it was meant for defence purposes.
This is the first time since the 2014 incident when Chinese Army had come deep inside the Indian territory in Demchok to protest an ongoing irrigation project.
5. ‘To Find Najeeb Ahmed, Take Stir Out of JNU’
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Thursday that the BJP was neither for the Hindus nor Muslims. "They will even sell their father for power," Kejriwal said, while addressing a 'joint solidarity meeting' organised by the students' union, and teachers' and staff associations of JNU.
The meet was called over the disappearance of MSc student Najeeb Ahmed. “The way the country has progressed in the last two years is of grave concern. Today Najeeb is missing. Tomorrow my son can go missing,” CM said.
Kejriwal urged the students to take the movement out of the campus.
Let’s go and sit at India Gate and appeal to students of all university to join us. The day Modiji realises that the youths of this country are not going to vote for him, Najeeb will be back. Had anything happened to Ambani’s son, Modiji would have taken the first flight to his house. The VC is frightened. If he takes any action, he will also go missing tomorrow.
6. Govt. Has ‘Messed Up’ One Rank, One Pension: Scindia
“The Congress will continue to raise issues linked to the demands of the armed forces. OROP (One Rank, One Pension) has to be implemented fully, not piecemeal,” former Congress minister and currently the party's chief whip in the Lok Sabha Jyotiraditya Scindia told The Hindu.
He added: “The anomalies in the Seventh Pay Commission, parity between the armed forces and civil service must be addressed. The government has messed up everything.”
A day after several Congress leaders, including party Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, were detained for attempting to meet the family members of Subedar Ram Krishen Grewal, Scindia who was thrashed by the Delhi Police on Wednesday, made light of his own condition.
“It’s not about me – whether I was manhandled or not by the Delhi Police; what is important is that the rights of a grieving family were trampled upon. People must be allowed to grieve, meet whoever they want and not be beaten up for doing so. The government must also explain why the family members were thrashed.”
7. Sidhu Wants AAP to Spell Out CM Candidate for Punjab Before a Possible Tie-Up
Awaaz-e-Punjab (AEP), the political front led by former cricketer-turned-parliamentarian Navjot Singh Sidhu, wants the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to spell out its chief ministerial candidate for Punjab before it will commit to an alliance, AEP sources told Hindustan Times on Thursday.
Talks between the two parties on a probable alliance in Punjab for the 2017 assembly elections have hit a roadblock with both sides unable to agree on the terms of engagement.
AAP offered Navjot the post of deputy chief minister but we need to know first whose deputy is he going to be? You decide on a CM face and then on the deputy CM. Not the other way round.Navjot Singh Sidhu
The AEP also wants Arvind Kejriwal and his team to “lay bare the blue print on how AAP will resolve Punjab’s debt crisis and other problems.”
8. Take NDTV India Off Air on 9 November for Pathankot: I&B Panel
The Information and Broadcasting Ministry’s inter-ministerial committee has recommended that news channel NDTV India be taken off air for 24 hours for allegedly revealing “strategically-sensitive information” during the course of its coverage of the anti-terror operations at the Pathankot airbase earlier this year.
The first-of-its-kind order has imposed a blackout prohibiting “the transmission or re-transmission of NDTV India channel for one day on any platform throughout India with effect from 00:01 hrs on 9 November to 00:01 hrs of 10 November”.
“The order of the MIB has been received. It is shocking that NDTV has been singled out in this manner. Every channel and newspaper had similar coverage. In fact NDTV’s coverage was particularly balanced. After the dark days of the Emergency when the press was fettered, it is extraordinary that NDTV is being proceeded against in this manner. NDTV is examining all options in this matter,” said a statement by NDTV.
9. Govt Cancels FCRA Licences of Over 11,000 NGOs as They Fail to Seek Renewal
The Union Home Ministry cancelled the licence of 11,319 NGOs on Thursday under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), 2010, after they failed to apply for its renewal within the deadline of 30 June 2016.
The validity of FCRA registration of these NGOs had been extended until 31 October 2016 (the earlier deadline being 30 September) vide a home ministry order dated 29 March 2016.
The 1,736 NGOs, which include some branches of the Ramakrishna Mission, Mata Amritanandamayi Math as well as the Krishnamurthi Foundation of India, were among those who had applied online for renewal of their registrations before 30 June 2016.
The Home Ministry has now asked the 1,736 NGOs to submit their representations in support of deficiency in the application, through designated email usfcramha@ gov.in by 8 November 2016, failing which no representation will be accepted.