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Former President of India A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Passes Away at 83

Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, 11th President of India (2002-2007) and renowned missile scientist (popularly known as “Missile Man” as well as “People’s President”), passed away yesterday due to massive heart attack at Bethany Hospital. He yesterday collapsed at 6.30pm IST while delivering a speech at Meghalaya’s RG-IIM in Shillong. Kalam’s mortal remains have been flown back to Delhi and were received by Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with service chiefs. Last rites of the former President will be done at his birthplace – Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu. Seven days (27 July 2015 – 2 August 2015) mourning has been announced but there will be no holiday. Both the houses of parliament paid homage to A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on Monsoon session’s sixth day.      

SC to hear Yakub Memon's Death Warrant Challenge Petition

Supreme Court today started hearing plea of Yakub Memon (1993 Mumbai terror blast convict and brother of main accused Tiger Memon), pleading to stay his execution announced by Maharashtra government on 30 July on the ground that all the legal options to him are not yet exhausted. Today SC took no decision and said that the arguments will go on tomorrow. Many respected eminent citizens have signed a petition asking President Pranab Mukherjee to grant mercy to Yakub Memon. BJP's Shatrughan Sinha, Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar, CPIM Genera Secretary Sitaram Yechury, filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, actor Naseeruddin Shah, lawyer Prashant Bhushan, and others signed the petition.

Terror Attack in Gurdaspur kills 7 Persons including 1 SP and 1 Terrorist, Rajnath Singh to give Statement in Parliament Tomorrow

Four Gun-totting persons (including a woman) stormed a police station in Punjab’s Gurdaspur today morning and fired indiscriminately leading to death of seven persons (including 3 civilians, 3 police persons on duty, and 1 suspected terrorist). Many people were injured during the gun battle. Punjab Police personnel said that the ‘fidayeen’ attackers were shouting 'Allah hu Akbar' during the attack, thereby doing away with the theory of Khalistani terrorist attack. While Ministry of Home Affairs will meet NSA Ajit Doval at North Block today in the evening (6pm scheduled meeting) for reviewing the situation, Home Minister will give statement in the parliament tomorrow.               

Concerns on MAT and Government Move on P-Note for curbing Black Money Pulls Indian Bourses Down by 582 Points

BSE Sensex nose dived 582 points today to close at 27561 points. NSE Nifty also dipped 160 points to close at 8,361. Analysts believe bloodbath in the Indian stock market happened due to two reasons – recommendation of stiff norms for Participatory Notes (P-notes) by a special investigation team (SIT) and biggest stock market crash (to the extent of 8 per cent) in China. After the severe bloodbath, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has to chip in and assure the market that government will not undertake any knee-jerk reaction to SIT recommendation so that it adversely affects investment climate of India.       

ONGC Plans Investing $8.8 Billion to Bring KG-Basin Oil and Gas Discoveries for Production by 2018-19

Reports say that Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has planned of investing more than $8.8 billion to start production in KG-basin oil and gas discoveries by 2018-19. A senior ONGC official has said that the twelve oil and gas finds (KG-DWN-98/2 or KG-D5 and G-4) in the block has been divided into 3 clusters so that production can be started there at the earliest. $8.843 billion investment will be done by ONGC in 11 oil finds along 3,800.6sqkm stretch of KG-D5 block’s Northern Discovery Area and 1 gas find in 3,494sqkm of Southern Discovery Area. 45 development wells will be drilled with this investment.

CAG Report points out release of Rs. 44,000 Crore Funds without Proper Grant Accounts or Utilisation Certificates

Report submitted by Comptroller and Auditor General has pointed out that the ministries released funds of around Rs. 44,000 crore in the last few years without getting accounts of grants or utilisation certificates to statutory organisations or bodies. This practice has led to spending without evidence of profits going to beneficiaries. Sources say that the amount is expected to escalate as similar information has not been shared with the federal authority by over 13 ministries. Pending utilisation certificates by some ministries at March 2014-end are Rs. 10,046 crore by Social Justice & Empowerment, Rs. 7,100 crore by Youth Affairs & Sports, Rs. 6,724 crore by health, etc.

Parliamentary Standing Committee Expresses Concern on Yamuna River Pollution affecting Taj Mahal

Congress MP Ashwani Kumar headed Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology and Environment and Forest expressed concern over ever increasing pollution of Yamuna River and its ill effect on Taj Mahal. In its report the parliamentary committee has suggested formation of a water body near the Taj Mahal so that it gets back its sheen. The report pointed out tanneries around Taj Mahal to be the real reasons of increasing pollution and slammed the authorities of not taking adequate action to check it. The committee questioned why untreated sewerage is discharged into Yamuna and recommended strengthening of waste management system of Agra city.    

PM Modi calls for Revolution in Farm, Fisheries, Milk, and Energy for Making India Self Sufficient

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while speaking at 87th foundation day of ICAR, asked progressive farmers as well as agri-scientists for carrying forward proper innovation so that India doesn’t require importing any farm commodity in the coming future. He also called for initiating revolution in the fields of agriculture, fisheries, milk, and energy so that India becomes self sufficient in these fields. While expressing his concerns on wastage of agricultural produce, PM Modi emphasized upon food processing. He especially stressed upon the urgent need of increasing per hectare yield of crop. He went on to predict that the second green revolution will take place in the eastern states.

Indo-European Union Workshop on Marine Ecosystem and Climate to be held Next Week

India is going to organise a workshop on marine ecosystem and climate in association with European Union next week for exploring collaboration possibilities and popularising scientific works. This two-day event is being organised jointly by Nansen Environmental Research Centre (NERCI) and Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS). Reports say that the meet will be inaugurated by K Babu, Kerala Fisheries Minister. Vice Chancellor of KUFOS, B Madhusoodana Kurup, said that experts (environmentalists, oceanographers, maritime industrialists, and naval exponents from both India and European Union Members States) will discuss climatic, environmental, academic, and scientific aspects of oceans during the workshop.   

Indian Women's Wrestling Team finishes 2nd in the Senior International Wrestling Tournament

Just before the World Championship, Indian women's wrestling team got a shot in the arm after securing second position in 5th Senior International Wrestling Tournament, thereby winning US$10,000. In the 8-member Indian team, Anita won her bout in 63kg category, Lalita Sehrawat in 55kg category, and Vinesh in 48kg category. However, in the 58kg category, Sakshi Malik lost the bout even after putting impressive performance. Other members of the Indian team such as Nikki in 75kg, Navjot Kaur in 69kg, Sarita in 60kg, and Nirmala Devi in 53kg categories also put up impressive respective performances. Host country Kazakhstan won gold, followed by India and Mongolia.

Former Indian Hockey Coach Jose Brasa makes Serious Allegations against Hockey India

After the sudden sacking of Indian hockey coach Paul van Ass (from Netherlands) by Hockey India, another former hockey coach of India – Jose Brasa – from Madrid shot back by saying that Hockey India treats coaches as “marionettes”. He opined that lack of freedom of foreign coaches and repeated interferences are the two main reasons of sudden exit of most foreign Indian hockey coaches. Brasa went on to add that Hockey India starts interfering if the chosen players are not in accordance with their satisfaction. While emphasising his point Jose Brasa said that Hockey India even sacked world’s best coach Ric Charlesworth.

S Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan accused in IPL Spot Fixing Discharged of all Charges by Trial Court

Delhi Police faced a major setback yesterday when a trial court discharged 36 accused including cricketers S Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan, and Ajit Chandila in 2013 IPL spot-fixing case. Former skipper Sourav Ganguly expressed happiness on clearing of the three players’ name. However, BCCI has said that its action is independent of verdict given by the trial court. Indian board went on to say that they are in no way going to revoke ban on these three players. In the July 30, 2013 chargesheet filed by Delhi Police, regarding IPL 6 spot-fixing scandal, absconding underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Shakeel were named as main culprits.

PM Modi Highlights Road Casualties and Road Safety Bill during his "Mann ki Baat"

During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 10th edition of “Mann ki Baat” programme on AIR yesterday he concentrated on the importance of Road Transport and Safety Bill and expressed his concern on high rate of casualties in accidents. Though PM Modi avoided any mention of the ongoing logjam in the parliamentary sessions, he went on to stress upon launching cashless treatment for mishap victims soon by the government. In his 15 minute address, PM Modi announced that an official team will visit northeastern states soon to understanding their problems so that they can be addressed properly. He also offered his tributes to scientists, farmers, and the armed forces.

CBI Registers Fresh FIR against 38 Accused in Vyapam Scam including MP Governor's OSD

CBI registered a fresh FIR related to Vyapam multi-crore scam against 38 persons including against Madhya Pradesh Governor Ram Naresh Yadav’s ex-Officer on Special Duty. Spokesperson of CBI has said that a case has been registered on the basis of Special Task Force’s FIR for violating the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act, Information Technology Act, and Indian Penal Code (on charges of forgery, cheating, and criminal conspiracy). STF had alleged that officials of Vyapam took OMR answer sheets out of the strong room, manipulated them. Many OMR answer sheets were intentionally left blank and numbers were granted to the candidates in lieu of money.

GoI Blocks Multiple Webpages having Inflammatory Content

Reports say that around 40 webpages including popular video sharing platforms and social media posts have been blocked by the government for posting inflammatory content that incited religious intolerance. The concerned inflammatory videos were intended to incite minority community and therefore GOI has issued order under Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009.  All Internet service providers have been passed on the concerned order and most of the online videos and posts inciting religious intolerance have been blocked.  However, ISPs have told government of their inability to block some webpages as they were reportedly done through secure internet protocols.