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Punjab CM calls off Meeting with Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit after Gurdaspur Terror Attack

After GPS trackers recovered from the slain terrorists point to involvement of Pakistan in yesterday’s terror attack in Dinanagar town (located in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district), Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal cancelled scheduled meeting (on 29 July 2015) with Pakistani envoy Abdul Basit. Frequency of attacks on India by Pakistan Army has increased in the recent past because they want to break the on-going peace process between the two neighbours. Analysts believe the Gurdaspur attack may have had the intention of derailing NSA level talks, scheduled in August. Though NSA Ajit Doval called yesterday’s attack “serious”, NSA level discussions will go on, as scheduled.

Delhi Court awards 4.5 Years Jail term to Former Union Minister PK Thungon in Corruption Case

Sixty-eight year old PK Thungon, a former union minister as well as Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, has been awarded a four and half years jail sentence on charges of corruption by a Delhi court yesterday. He was found guilty by the court in connection with a case lodged in 1998 regarding charges of misappropriating Rs 2 crore funds that was released by the Union Government. Special CBI Judge Ajay Kumar Jain, in addition to conferring prison term to PK Thungon, has also fined him Rs 10,000. The CBI court also found Tali AO, C Sangit, and Mahesh Maheshwari guilty, awarding them with imprisonment and cash fine verdicts.

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.      

Government to Raise Rs. 1,600 crore from 5 Per Cent Stake Sale of Power Finance Corporation

Union Government has received bids for 15.4 crore shares for Power Finance Corporation (PFC) in place of 6.6 crore shares offered for sale, during an auction that was attended by both institutional and retail investors. With 5 per cent stake sale of PFC, government intends raising Rs 1,600 crore, which is expected to lessen pressure on policymakers of raising Rs 69,500 crore (per 2015-16 Union Budget) through PSU stake sale. Reports say that till now bids worth of Rs. 3,747 crore have been received, out of which Rs 2,414 crore has come from institutional investors and Rs. 1,510 crore from retail investors.

Finance Minister says Government will take a view on Controversial Revised Draft Indian Financial Code

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that they will take a final view on the controversial revised draft of Indian Financial Code (recommended by FSLRC) after comments are received from all stakeholders. The second draft has proposed diluting independence of RBI by taking away apex bank governor’s veto power on monetary policy committee determined interest rate. Another controversial recommendation is lesser representation (three) from RBI compared to government’s representation (four) in the committee. The draft says the committee will be represented by “RBI Chairperson” instead of current RBI Governor. The policy rate is recommended to require majority vote instead of current optional consulting clause with Technical Advisory Committee.

World's Largest Gold Refining Company Valcambi bought by Rajesh Exports for Rs. 2,560 Crore

India’s Rajesh Exports (a Bengaluru-based jewellery company) has bought Valcambi SA, largest gold refining company of the world based in Switzerland, from Newmont Mining Corporation (a US based mining company) at US$ 400 million (equivalent to Rs. 2,560 crore). Reports say that 65 per cent of Rajesh Exports’ acquisition cost will be financed through internal accruals. In addition, the company has taken a loan of US$ 140-million (equivalent to Rs. 880-crore) by tying up with Credit Suisse. It is learnt that the total capacity of gold and other precious metals in Valcambi are 1,600 tonnes and 400 tonnes respectively.

India urges France to Facilitate Consensus to bring down Green Technology Cost

India has urged the official host of December 2015’s UN-sponsored global climate change conference (to be held in Paris) to take initiative in facilitating consensus among the developed countries so that Intellectual Property Right (IPR) issues do not drive up the green technology cost. India has said that IPR shoots up cost of green technology and France should try to build consensus so that the high cost doesn’t lead to problems for the developing countries to adopt them. Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change’s Additional Secretary, Susheel Kumar, made this appeal while delivering speech during a FICCI organised session on the issue of 21st Climate Conference.

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.

Gurdaspur Attack Fallout: BCCI Secretary says Resumption of India-Pakistan Cricket Ties will stop if Terror Strikes Continue

Following yesterday’s Gurdaspur terror attack and evidence pointing towards alleged involvement of Pakistan in cross-border terrorism, BCCI Secretary Anurag Thakur said that resumption of cricket ties between India and Pakistan by 2015-end may not be possible if Pakistan continues terror strikes. Thakur told media that with the Jammu attacks (heavy cross-border shelling and firing) in the recent past followed by the terrorist attack in Punjab yesterday, resumption of cricket ties are not possible now as Indian citizens are dying due to Pakistan’s involvement. The Hamirpur MP, while condemning the attack, pointed out that resumption of Indo-Pak cricket ties will not resume until and unless the situation improves.  

BCCI and CSA confirm South African Tour to India from 29 September to 7 December

Cricket boards of both India (BCCI) and South Africa (Cricket South Africa) have confirmed reports that SA will kick start its longest ever India tour (of 70 days) from 29 September 2015. The tour will go on till 7 December, during which three T20 internationals, 5 one dayers, and four tests will be played. The ODI events will take place on 11 October in Kanpur, 14 October in Indore, 18 October in Rajkot, 22 October in Chennai, and 25 October in Mumbai. Four test matches will be played in Mohali (November 5-9), Bangalore (November 14-18), Nagpur (November 25-29), and Delhi (December 3-7).  

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.

Delhi L-G Approves Swati Maliwal's appointment as Chief of Delhi Commission for Women after Making his Point

Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Najeeb Jung, yesterday finally approved appointment of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appointee Swati Maliwal as Chief of Delhi Commission for Women. Swati’s name for the important DCW position was approved after Delhi government sent a fresh note, after incorporating the changes that L-G’s office sought, sent while rejecting the earlier appointment a few days back. Jung had earlier rejected Maliwal’s appointment referring to her unilateral appointment by Delhi Government. LG's office has confirmed that Swati’s appointment along with others of DERC has been cleared. Swati Maliwal has assumed DCW office today.  

Yakub Memon's Plea for putting stay on his Execution to be heard in SC today as Judges in the Bench Differ

The 1993 Mumbai blasts convict and brother of Tiger Memon, Yakub Abdul Razak Memon got a short-term breather as the two Supreme Court bench judges - Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Anil R Dave - gave a split verdict on Memon’s curative petition. While Dave dismissed Yakub’s plea, Kurian Joseph put a stay on death warrant, issued by Maharashtra government that intends to hang Memon on 30 July 2015. The case has now been referred to Chief Justice of India, HL Dattu for taking a final call on the matter. Chief Justice has been requested by the bench to constitute an appropriate bench for hearing the petition tomorrow.

High Alert Sounded along India-Nepal International Border after Gurdaspur Terror Attack

Gurdaspur terror attack yesterday ended after an 11 hour long SWAT team (of Punjab Police) operation, which left 10 persons dead (including 3 civilians, 4 security personnel, and 3 terrorists). High security alert has been sounded along the 241 km stretch of India-Nepal international border, especially at the posts in Champawat and Pithoragarh districts. Roshan Lal Sharma, Pithoragarh SP, said that they have asked Special Task Operation Force Officers (SOTF) to increase the vigil along Indo-Nepal border and is also coordinating closely with local intelligence units, Army, TTBP, and SSB. Champawat SP, DS Kunwar, said vigil has been increased in market places, railway stations, border posts etc.