Home Minister Amit Shah Springs A Surprise
In a melodramatic turn of events, the Minister of Home Affairs, Amit Shah, introduced sweeping constitutional changes through the Jammu and Kashmir (Reorganisation) Bill, 2019, in the Rajya Sabha on Monday, August 5, bifurcating the state into the UT of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and the UT of Ladakh. Prior to this, additional paramilitary forces were deployed in Jammu & Kashmir on Saturday, August 3 and Sunday, August 4, amid rumours circulating on social media about the impending administrative changes. Political leaders such as Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, and Sajjad Lone were placed under house arrest. Moreover, Section 144 CrPC was imposed in Srinagar and later in Jammu, and all educational institutions were asked to close. Even mobile and internet services remained suspended in the region. Thereafter, the J&K (Reorganisation) Bill, 2019 sailed through the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, August 6. Meanwhile, in the Indian Parliament, the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution, and powers under Article 35A, were also scrapped through a Presidential Order.
Article 370 permitted the state to draft its own Constitution and restricted Indian Parliament’s legislative powers in respect of the state. A Presidential Order way back in 1954 had introduced Article 35A, which empowered the J&K legislature to define the state’s permanent residents and their special rights and privileges. Both stand revoked now.
J & K Reservation (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019 was another bill to be passed in the Parliament. This bill provides up to 10% quota for Economically Weaker Sections (income below Rs 8 lakhs) in educational institutions and government employment in the state of J&K, in addition to existing reservations.
Shiv Sena, Aam Aadmi Party, BSP, AIADMK, TDP, BJD & YSR Congress Party announced support for the move. The Left parties, Trinamool Congress and Samajwadi Party opposed the bill. Also, BJP ally JDU staged a walkout. Congress leaders looked divided on the issue, while Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti slammed the government. The young MP from Ladakh received applause for his powerful and moving speech in Parliament. The bifurcation will come into effect on October 31, 2019.
Most Effective Parliamentary Session Since 1952
The just-concluded first session of Parliament of the 17th Lok Sabha has proved fruitful and set a new record. Both houses of Parliament passed 36 bills in this session. The most important one was The Jammu and Kashmir (Reorganization) Bill, 2019 passed by the Rajya Sabha on August 5 and the Lok Sabha on August 6. Introduced by Home Minister Amit Shah, this legislation split the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories (UT) – the UT of Jammu and Kashmir (with legislature) and UT of Ladakh (without legislature). Both the UTs will be administered by Lt Governors to be appointed by the President. As per this bill, 106 central laws have been made applicable to the UTs, while 153 state laws stand repealed. 173 state laws remain in force, out of which seven laws will apply with amendments. Article 370 granting special status to J&K and Article 35A have also been scrapped.
Other important bills passed in the monsoon session include Consumer Protection Bill, 2019 to provide for class action suits and other consumer rights; The SC (Number of Judges) Amendment Bill, 2019 to increase number of judges in SC to 34; POCSO (Amendment) Bill, 2019 for harsher punishment for child abuse; and The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019 for terrorism-related offences. Om Birla, the Speaker of Lok Sabha, said that it is the highest number of bills passed since 1952.
PM Promises Progress in J&K, Elections & Restoration of Statehood
The Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, August 8, in his address to the nation on Article 370 has promised that the development in the region must pick up. Apart from this people of the region will get a chance to elect their MLAs and the chief minister of their choice in a free and fair way. He further added that Jammu and Kashmir will not remain a Union Territory for long once peace is restored.
In his television address, Modi made it clear that Pakistan was using Article 370 and 35A as a weapon against India. The Prime Minister promised that there would be employment boom in the region and vacancies in government departments will be filled in the coming days. The PM also stated that Article 370 was a hurdle for progress in the region.
President Kovind Confers Bharat Ratna on His Predecessor Pranab Mukherjee
Congress stalwart and former President Pranab Mukherjee was awarded the Bharat Ratna by President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday, August 8 evening, at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian honour of the country. The President also awarded the Bharat Ratna posthumously to Assamese singer and musician Bhupen Hazarika and RSS leader Nanaji Deshmukh. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and several Union ministers were present on this occasion at Darbar Hall. However, Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were conspicuous by their absence.
SC Breaks Deadlock, to Hear Ayodhya Dispute Appeals 5 Days a Week
The Supreme Court (SC) broke the deadlock on Thursday, August 8, and announced its decision to hear the appeals in the Allahabad High Court judgment on the Ayodhya land dispute case on all five working days of the week. Traditionally, hearing by the constitution benches takes place only three days a week. The additional time will enable the five-judge bench to complete the hearing, examine more than 20,000 pages of documents, and render a judgment by the time CJI Ranjan Gogoi retires on November 17, 2019. Also, the apex court is expected to receive the Ayodhya land dispute mediation report at 2 pm on Friday.
Heavy Flooding in 3 States
Heavy monsoon rains continue to wreak havoc in Kerala, Karnataka and Maharashtra. Kochi airport has been shut down till Sunday, August 11, and dozens of people are feared trapped in landslides in Wayanad and Malappuram districts. Further, a red alert has been issued for 7 districts by the IMD. Meanwhile, dangerous landslides have been reported in Tehri and some other districts of Uttarakhand too.
57% Quacks Treat People of India?
Quacks are mushrooming in India. After many ifs and buts, and yes and no, in the end, the Central Government is ready to accept that 57.3% of the so-called ‘doctors’ practising allopathic medicine in India don’t have any medical qualification. Interestingly, 31% haven’t studied beyond school. People are helpless to go to quacks for treatment because of the low expense. The fact was first highlighted in a WHO report on the Indian health workforce in 2016 but was recently acknowledged by the government while clarifying the post of ‘community health workers’ in the new medical bill.
People Bid Tearful Adieu to Sushma Swaraj
Former External Affairs Minister and Delhi Chief Minister Sushma Swaraj passed away on Tuesday, August 6 night around 9:30 pm due to cardiac arrest. She was 67. She was cremated with full state honours on Wednesday, August 7. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, former deputy PM LK Advani, along with hundreds of people, bid a tearful adieu to their beloved and respected leader. Ms. Swaraj’s daughter Bansuri Swaraj performed the last rites.
Free Wifi at Public Places
Delhi government on Thursday, August 8, has approved to provide free wifi services at public places across the city. This is one of the 70 promises made by the AAP party before the 2015 assembly elections. Apart from this, the state cabinet has also given its nod to install an additional 1.4 lakh CCTV cameras in the capital. BJP slammed the Delhi government and called it an election stunt. However, AAP said it was the first political party which fulfilled all its pre-poll promises made to the people of Delhi.
HC Shows Concern over Urdu & Persian Words in FIR
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday, August 7, sought to know why Urdu and Persian words are still being used by Delhi Police while lodging FIRs. A Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar said: “Too much flowery language, the meaning of which is to be found out by a dictionary, should not be used. Simple language should be used instead of bombastic classical words so that common people can understand what has been written in the FIR.”
RBI Imposes Rs 8.5 Crore Fine on Eleven Banks
On Monday, August 5, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has slapped Rs 8.5 crore penalty on eleven banks for non-compliance with provisions of fraud of classification and reporting by commercial banks and FIs. The penalty on all the 11 banks is not the same. It varies between Rs 50 lakhs to 1.5 crores. The combined penalty of the 11 banks would be Rs 8.5 crore. For instance, the penalty is Rs 1.5 crores on Oriental Bank of Commerce, and Rs 1 crore each on Indian Overseas Bank, Punjab & Sind Bank, UCO Bank and United Bank of India. Additionally, Bank of Baroda, Corporation Bank, Federal Bank, Jammu & Kashmir Bank, Punjab National Bank and State Bank of India have been fined Rs 50 lakhs each.
Delhi Government to Control Lavish Marriages
Delhi government hast tightened the screw on ‘band, baaja, baraat’ and horse-drawn carriages carrying the groom, and dance by family members and friends on the city’s roads. This policy has been drafted by the Delhi government after the SC showed its anguish over wastage of food at marriages in the capital. Under this policy, the number of guests and wastage of food at the venue would also be notified.
Unnao Survivor Airlifted To Delhi
In accordance with the order of the SC, the Uttar Pradesh government had to airlift the Unnao rape survivor from Lucknow to Delhi for special treatment in AIIMS. Her condition continues to be critical and she is on the life support machine. A multi-disciplinary team of doctors in AIIMS is providing all kinds of medical treatment to the brave survivor, who dared to raise her voice against politically powerful people.
SC Rejects Sajjan Bail Petition
Senior Congress leader Sajjan Kumar’s bail petition has been cancelled by the SC. Kumar offered before the apex court on Monday, August 5 that if bail is granted, then he is ready to leave Delhi and shift to either Tamil Nadu or any other south Indian state. He is in jail for allegedly provoking 1984 Sikh riots in Delhi after former PM Indra Gandhi’s assassination.
NGT Makes Sound Limiters Mandatory to Combat Air Pollution
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asked the Delhi government to make the use of sound limiters mandatory to overcome noise pollution. West Bengal and Tripura have already made the use of sound limiters essential. Sound limiters are tools which are attached with a microphone and monitor the sound pressure, that is generated by a sound device.
Tigers in India Threatened By Virus
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recently given the heartening news that the tiger numbers have gone up in India. However, in spite of the growth in their numbers, the big cats are threatened by a potential virus – Canine Distemper Virus (CDV), which is possibly transmitted from the CDV infected dogs. These infected stray dogs that are living around the wildlife sanctuaries could be dangerous for the tigers and have emerged as a big concern for the wildlife biologists.
Comali Director Lands in Controversy
Aspiring filmmaker Pradeep Ranganathan landed himself in a controversy when the trailer of his upcoming film Comali was released on Saturday, August 3. In one of the scenes, the hero of the film Jayram Ravi supposedly takes a dig at popular star Rajnikanth’s political plunge. The scene soon went viral on social media. Rajnikanth’s fans expressed anguish over the scene. The filmmaker has assured to remove this contentious scene.
World Number One Wrestler Bajrang Set to Wed Sangeeta
Bajrang Punia, the world number one grappler of India in 65 kg category, has decided to wed wrestler Sangeeta Phogat. The grapplers are likely to tie the knot after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The Indian wrestling sensation Bajrang is a big hope to wrest a medal for the country in the Tokyo Olympics.
M&M to Launch Electronic Vehicles
Mahindra & Mahindra is planning to roll out new electric vehicles (EVs) in the near future. This was disclosed by Chairman Anand Mahindra on Wednesday, August 7. He expressed confidence that India has the potential to become a hub for E-vehicles.
SC Alerts Property Owners to Take Timely Action
The SC on Wednesday, August 7, clarified that if a rightful owner of the immovable property fails to take action to get back possession within the limitation period of 12 years, then his or her rights are lost. A person in possession or squatter will acquire an absolute title. Nevertheless, the apex court said that no benefit of adverse possession will be given to people who encroach upon public land.
Kerala Nun Expelled After Protest Against Rape-Accused Bishop
A Kerala nun has been expelled from congregation under the Roman Catholic Church. Sister Lucy Kalappura supported a nun who accused a Jalandhar based bishop of sexual assault. The allegations against Sister Lucy include appearance on TV, buying cars, getting some monetary benefits and so on.
Kashmir Valley’s Metro to Hire 1,300 Engineers & Others
In order to improve the infrastructure and generate employment opportunities in Kashmir valley immediately after the declaration of J&K as a Union Territory, the Central government has decided to recruit 1,300 engineers and other staff for the valley’s first metro project.
Pakistan Expels Indian Envoy, Suspends Trade over Article 370
Stung by scrapping of Article 370 by the Indian government, Pakistan on Wednesday, August 7, expelled the Indian envoy in Islamabad. Apart from this, Pakistan has suspended all bilateral trade with India. This decision was taken in the National Security Committee meeting chaired by PM Imran Khan. Pakistan wants to internationalise this issue to get global support, especially at the UN. The trade between the two countries consists of items like jewellery, textiles, machinery, electronic appliances, dry fruits, spices, and carpets.
Noida Slashes Commercial Circle Rates
With the slump in the real estate market in Gautam Budh Nagar (Noida) which forms part of Delhi-NCR, the district administration on Wednesday, August 7, has given green signal to reduce the circle rates in Noida with effect from August 8. There are two types of reduction, 21% reduction for floor wise commercial property and 21.5% for individual commercial property. This is the first time that district administration of Noida has slashed the circle rates. Builders reportedly welcomed the decision.
Despite Tension, Indo-Pak to Participate in SCO War Games
In spite of rising tension between India and Pakistan over the recent Jammu and Kashmir reorganisation issue, both the neighbouring countries have decided to go for combined exercise in the multi-nation counter-terror war games which will take place under the supervision of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Russia next month.
2 Killed & 14 Injured in Mishap on Way Back From NRC Hearing
In a tragic accident, 2 women were killed while 14 others were critically injured in Bamunigaon bus accident in Assam’s Kamrup district on Wednesday, August 7. They were returning home from the National Register of Citizen (NRC) re-verification hearing in Golaghat district. The mishap happened when their bus hit a tree.
RBI Cuts Repo Rate to Boost Sluggish Economy
Interest rates on loans are going to be cheaper, with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) cutting the repo rate by 35 basis points to 5.40% from 5.75%. This decision was taken to overcome the sluggish economy. On this move, RBI governor Shaktikanta Das said, “The credit flow will now revive with today’s measure and growth will pick up”.
Transgenders Set an Example in Kolkata, Tie the Knot
An Indian transgender couple has set an example and tied the knot in a traditional Bengali ceremony on Monday, August 5. The marriage was celebrated as a ‘rainbow marriage’. The bride Tista Das, 38, and the groom Dipin Chakravarthy, 40, completed the marriage rituals in Kolkata and promised to live happily ever after.
Dutee Knocks on MEA Doors to Get Visa for European Races
Dutee Chand, the 100-metre sprinter, is the first Indian woman athlete to bag a gold medal in the World University Games. In fact, she is now knocking on the doors of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to get a visa to visit some European countries. Only if Dutee gets the visa can she take part in some competitive races in Ireland and Germany. This will enable her to qualify for the World Athletics Championships.
BJP Appoints Leaders for Forthcoming Assembly Elections
The assembly polls in several states are around the corner. Seeing this, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday, August 9 has made Prakash Javadekar and Narendra Singh Tomar as the in-charge for elections in Delhi and Haryana respectively. While the responsibility of Jharkhand and Maharashtra has been entrusted in the hands of two senior leaders of the party, OP Mathur and Bhupinder Yadav.
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