Delhi Government releases Rs 109 cr to MCDs to fight diseases

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday instructed the Urban Development Department to release around Rs 109 crore to the three Municipal Corporations of Delhi to make sure that the civic bodies had funds required to deal with the vector-borne diseases, like dengue and chikungunya.

In a statement released to media, the Chief Minister’s Office claimed the amount would be shared between the three MCDs with North MCD getting Rs 57.15 crore, East MCD Rs 28.40 crore and the South MCD Rs 23.57 crore to tackle the diseases.

The Chief Minister said the fund shortage should not be an excuse for lack of preparation for prevention of vector-borne diseases in Delhi.

Kejriwal asked the department to tell the MCDs that “maintenance of public health is their mandatory function as defined in the Delhi Municipal Corporations (DMC) Act,” and when enough fund was being provided ahead of time there should now be no excuse in effectively dealing with the diseases.

The Delhi government also released Rs 46.88 crore for primary education to MCDs. Of this, the East MCD will get around Rs 22.50 crore, the North MCD Rs 12.50 crore and the South MCD Rs 11.75 crore.



Fight is different but alliance is no challenge; Hema Malini

This Lok Sabha battle is “different” for BJP MP and Bollywood actor Hema Malini because of the SP-BSP-RLD alliance but she is confident it won’t affect her much because of her work over the past five years.

And of course Mathura’s voters, who she said are not trapped by issues of caste unlike in the past, will bear in mind the performance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi when they vote.

“I don’t think that the (opposition) alliance can be effective because people see the work done by the candidate. I do not underestimate any party. But I am confident of the work I have done. I did things which were not done in the last 60 years,” Hema Malini told IANS.

Speaking at her residence in Omaxe Intercity in Mathura, the MP said the opposition was harping on caste identity.

“This is a Jat dominated area but caste is not a factor for me. I am here to serve Brij, to serve Lord Krishna and people residing here. I have done work for everyone because all are Brijwasi. People of different castes want Modi.”

Although the contest this time would be “different compared to the last election”, she insisted that a “Modi wave is still there. This time, the development he has done for the country is the main issue.

“That is the main thing. Those are the main issues people are talking about. People are happy.”

Hema Malini, whose election campaign got a boost when her actor-husband Dharmendra campaigned for her, insisted that she herself had done a lot of work in the past five years.

“I have done so much work in Mathura. I am proud of the works. I am confident of winning the election on the basis of what I have done. I have done so much work which the previous MPs were not able to do.”

Hema Malini said things had become easier for her because both the Uttar Pradesh and the central governments were controlled by the BJP. “So it is more easier for me.”

The MP said that as this was a religious place, her focus was on developing Mathura while preserve its ancient heritage.

“We have to maintain the Krishnasthali (place of Lord Krishna). There are many places where Lord Krishna did many things but these have been lost.”

On opposition’s criticism that she posed with farmers more for a photo opportunity, she said: “Do you think that I never went to the fields in the last five year? That time no one was there to click photos.

“This is not the first time I sat on a tractor. But media people now want me to pose and as a film star I do it for them. And it becomes a big news. What is wrong in that?”

On RLD candidate Narendra Singh’s claim that the electoral contest was a fight between “Brijwasi vs outsider”, Hema Malini asserted that she was not an outsider and that she too had a house here.

“What has Narendra Singh done so far for the people as a Brijwasi? They have done nothing. Being a Brijwasi is not the only thing. One should have feelings in the heart to do things for the people.”

Has she been visiting Mathura regularly?

“Saying that I should not go Mumbai is wrong. I also have a house there. I am an actress. My family is there. Why should I be here all the time? I have to spend time there too. Whenever I am required, I have been here. And I do many things for Mathura people by sitting in Mumbai.

“There are several congested areas here which I am trying to rectify. So many roads in Mathura have been widened and places are being made neat and clean.”

Hema Malini in 2014 defeated RLD MP Jayant Chaudhary by 3.30 lakh votes.

(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at [email protected])



It’s a fight between two ideologies, says Rahul Gandhi 

Congress President Rahul Gandhi said the run-up to the country’s general election is witnessing a fight between two ideologies and that his party would defeat those who practise “politics of hatred”.

Addressing Congress workers in Shakti Sammelan in Jaipur, he said, “On the one hand is the BJP-RSS ideology that promotes hatred and division. On the other side is Congress, which stands for brotherhood and love. The former wants to kill Congress. But we won’t kill them in return, rather we shall fight them and defeat them. Congress doesn’t play politics of hatred,” he said.

The Congress President said that “history has taught us that those who spread hatred become a loser and get trapped in their own net.”

“It’s OK that luck favoured the BJP in 2014, for once. But then Modi too is trapped in his own net,” he said, quoting the ‘chowkidar’ example.

“Modi said ‘make me the PM and I shall become the chowkidar’. Then he said, ‘once I become the chowkidar, happy days shall come’. Meanwhile, Congress brought out the real facts on Rafale (fighter jet deal) and Modi was caught in his own trap. Therefore we had the slogan ‘Chowkidar chor hai,'” Gandhi said.

He said the “promise of depositing Rs 15 lakh” in bank accounts proved false. “However the idea was good, so we thought of converting it into reality.

“After six months of working, we spoke to world-renowned economists and came out with the idea of minimum income line with a figure of Rs 12,000 per month under NYAY (Nyuntam Aay Yojana) scheme. We will deposit the amount in the personal accounts of the 20% of the poorest families,” he said.

Gandhi said democracy and the Constitution were in danger under the BJP rule.

Earlier addressing a rally in Suratgarh, Gandhi said, the minimum income guarantee scheme — NYAY — will carry a “surgical strike” against poverty if Congress was voted to power at the Centre.

“If Narendra Modi government can distribute money to the country’s rich, we will do it for the poor,” he added.




Lok Sabha polls fight between people & Modi; Tejashwi Yadav 

Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav on Monday said the Lok Sabha elections will be a fight between the people and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Former deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav said people have made up their mind to oust Modi. “If Modi as he claims is the chowkidar, the people are the thanedar. And the thanedar will punish the chowkidar for his failures and wrong doings,” he said.

According to Yadav, the Opposition Grand Alliance — of the RJD, Congress, Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP), Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) and Vikassheel Insan Party (VIP) — has a clear edge over the BJP-led NDA in Bihar. “Our support base is intact and the people will back us.”

Under the Grand Alliance’s seat sharing pact in Bihar, the RJD will contest 20 and the Congress 9 of the state’s total 40 Lok Sabha seats. The smaller parties share the remaining 11 constituencies — with the RLSP fielding candidates in 5, and HAM and VIP in 3 each.

The RJD will give one seat from its own quota to the Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist (CPI-ML).


India Science & Technology

2nd leg of WhatsApp campaign to fight fake news

Facebook-owned WhatsApp on Monday launched the second-leg of its “Share Joy, Not Rumours” education campaign to encourage the responsible use of its platform ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

In addition to the earlier TV, print and radio ads, the new campaign would educate people on the controls available in WhatsApp so they are empowered to stop the spread of misinformation, the company said in a statement.

The first phase of the campaign successfully reached hundreds of millions Indians in both rural and urban areas, claimed the company, adding that the messaging platform is building on the campaign with a second round focused on supporting a safe election process.

“Proactively working with the Election Committee and local partners for a safe election is our top priority. Expanding our education campaign to help people easily identify and stop malicious messages is another step towards improving the safety of our users,” said Abhijit Bose, Head of India, WhatsApp.

WhatsApp’s digital literacy partners, including DEF and NASSCOM, would share these videos to grow awareness among the people while the print ads are aimed to act as reminders on how to spot, verify and stop sharing of misinformation that can cause harmful outcomes during the sensitive period of polling.

Over the last several months, WhatsApp has made a series of changes, including labeling forwarded messages to inform users when they have received something not from their immediate contacts and set a limit on how forwarded messages can be sent.

In addition, WhatsApp bans accounts that engage in unwanted automated activity.

WhatsApp, including other social media firms, will now have to process any request from the Election Commission of India to take down content within three hours during the 48-hour period before voting days.



New Zealand PM Ardern calls for global fight against racism

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has called for a global fight to root out racist right-wing ideology following last week’s deadly attack on two mosques here.

Talking about the rise of right-wing nationalism she said: “This was an Australian citizen but that is not to say that we do not have an ideology in New Zealand that would be an affront to the majority of New Zealanders,” the BBC reported on Wednesday.

She said there was a responsibility “to weed it out where it exists and make sure that we never create an environment where it can flourish”.

“But I would make that a global call,” she said, adding that “what New Zealand experienced here was violence brought against us by someone who grew up and learned their ideology somewhere else”.

“If we want to make sure globally that we are a safe and tolerant and inclusive world we cannot think about this in terms of boundaries.”

Ardern also rejected the idea that a rise in immigration was fuelling racism and defended New Zealand’s record on accepting refugees.

“We are a welcoming country. I utterly reject the idea that in any way in trying to ensure that we have a system that looks after those who choose to call New Zealand home, that we have perpetuated an environment where this kind of ideology can exist,” she said.

Fifty people were killed and dozens injured when 28-year-old Australian national Brenton Tarrant opened fire in two mosques in New Zealand’s Christchurch on March 15.





BJP, Congress men fight as Priyanka Gandhi visits Varanasi

A minor scuffle broke out between Congress and BJP supporters while Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was visiting the Shastri Memorial at Shastri Chowk in Ramnagar here to pay tribute to former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri.

BJP supporters had also raised pro-Modi slogans when Priyanka visited the Vindhyavasini Temple in Mirzapur’s Vindhyachal on Tuesday.

The scuffle on Wednesday broke out after local BJP leaders objected to Congress workers raising slogans like “gali gali me shor hai, chowkidaar chor hai”. The clothes of some BJP supporters were torn in the scuffle.

However, after Priyanka left the area, the BJP supporters gathered and started raised anti-Congress slogans.



It’s a fight of ideologies says Congress President Rahul Gandhi

Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday described the battle between the Congress and the BJP as “a fight of ideologies”.

“On the one hand there is Gurua Nanak Devji’s ideology and on the other it is the RSS ideology of spreading hatred,” Gandhi told a public rally in Killi Chahal village on the outskirts of Moga town.

“If the Congress comes to power at the Centre, it will change the GST (goods and services tax).”

He alleged that GST was brought without any consultations and it had resulted only in losses to businesses. “We will change GST once we are in power in 2019.”

At the political rally, Gandhi handed over debt waiver certificates to landless farmers and labourers.

Taking a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Gandhi said: “What has Modi done in the last five years? He gave five airports to Adani a few days ago while there was an atmosphere of war in the country.”

The Congress had waived off loans of farmers while Modi had written off loans of the country’s biggest industrialists, he said.

“We waived off farm loans in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh like we promised. We did this within 10 days of forming the government.”

Daring Modi, Gandhi said: “He should hold a debate with me in front of TV cameras for 15 minutes. Everything will become clear.

“When I said that Punjab has a drug problem, I was ridiculed. The then Akali Dal government said that I was lying. The current Congress government has broken the back of drug trade in Punjab.

“The moment our government is formed in 2019, we will give guaranteed minimum income and the money will be transferred directly to bank accounts,” he said.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh claimed that Gandhi would become the next Prime Minister.

“I have no doubt in saying that Rahul Gandhi will be our next Prime Minister,” he said.



Putin calls Modi, conveys support in fight against terrorism

Russian President Vladimir Putin called up Prime Minister Narendra Modi over phone on Thursday and conveyed solidarity of the Russian people with India’s people in the fight against terrorism.

He also expressed his deep condolences on the Pulwama terrorist attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.

An official release said that Modi thanked Putin for Russia’s steadfast support for India’s efforts to protect its interests against cross-border terror attacks.

He renewed India’s commitment to strengthening bilateral cooperation in countering terrorism as a pillar of privileged and special strategic partnership.

Both leaders agreed that all concerned should stop all support to terrorism.

Both the leaders also agreed that the growing cooperation between the two countries will take their Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership “from strength to strength”.

President Putin reiterated the invitation to the Prime Minister to attend the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok later this year.

Modi welcomed the invitation and underscored the significance of growing economic cooperation, including in the Russian Far East, between the two countries.



Big B will fight against discrimination towards women as long as he’s alive

Megastar Amitabh Bachchan says it is unfortunate to have come across stories about married women who are thrown out of their house because they are suffering from Hepatitis B. He is against this kind of discrimination towards women and says he will fight for it as long as he is alive.

Amitabh was addressing the media at the launch of a national action plan combating Viral Hepatitis in India along with Maharashtra Minister for PWD, Public Health and Family Welfare Eknath Shinde here on Sunday. 

“I was interested in this great campaign that the government of India and other associations including the World Health Organisation (WHO) have put into practice. My family doctor and his other doctor friends visited me and made me aware of that… how very little is known about it,” said the cine icon.

“I immediately agreed in whatever way I could. There were two things that attracted me, first thing was dissemination of information about Hepatitis B. Most people aren’t aware of this disease but it is a life threatening one so, I felt it’s my duty as a citizen of India to create awareness about it.”

He also said that he feels sad when he sees discrimination towards women when it comes to fighting with diseases.

“Second thing that surprised and hurt me was that the factor of discrimination particularly to women… it’s really unfortunate that I have come across such stories where married women are thrown out of their house because they are suffering from Hepatitis B.

“Women are half of the power of the country. They are the strength of our country so, they must be treated with respect and dignity that they deserve. If we begin to discriminate them, just because they are suffering from a particular disease, then it is not acceptable and I will fight for this as long as I am alive.”

Talking about himself, he said: “Today, I am free from tuberculosis because it was diagnosed and treated at the right time so, I feel we must pay a lot of attention to the process of detections of these diseases because if they are detected on time, then there is a cure and I am an example of that.”



Working ‘hard’ to expand team to fight misinformation

With Twitter finding itself in the midst of a controversy for not sending its CEO to appear before a parliamentary panel on Monday, the microblogging site has said that it is “working hard” to expand its team and resources to help tackle the spread of misinformation on its platform.

The response, which does not provide any clue about the team size it was expanding, comes in the backdrop of apprehensions that during the upcoming 2019 general elections bad actors could use social media platforms to spread propaganda and misinformation to influence voters.

Twitter was earlier accused by the government of being “slow” in removing “objectionable content” from its platform.

The Parliamentary Committee on Information Technology (IT) wants to question the Twitter CEO over measures taken to ensure the safety and security of the users and allegations that the social media site is discriminating against “nationalist” posts on its platform.

With the Twitter CEO not showing up for the meeting on Monday, the committee has again summoned Twitter’s CEO to appear before it on February 25.

“Attempts to deliberately undermine the public conversation by spreading misinformation at scale, is something we care deeply about at Twitter,” Twitter India said in a blog post on Monday.

“And while we are working hard to expand our team and resources to help tackle this issue, it is important that everyone builds their capacity in order to protect and enhance the public conversation,” it added.

Twitter said it entered into a partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization on media literacy to help its users spot false information, and also reached out to 100,000 youth across the Asia Pacific region to engage them in a series of digital citizenship workshops, safety roundtables and panel discussions.

“In India, we launched the #EduTweet initiative in partnership with the School Leaders Network where we engaged 865 school leaders, educators and influencers from 2,700 schools across India on issues such as media literacy and the digital classroom,” Twitter India said.

“We also partnered with Responsible Netism (a non-profit start up) on their Cyber Psychology Conference which engaged schools across Maharashtra on online safety for children,” it added.




I will fight for Kashmiri people’s dignity; Shah Faesal

In his first public meeting after quitting the IAS, Shah Faesal on Monday vowed to fight against corruption and for the honour and dignity of the Kashmiri people.

Scores of people turned out to attend Faesal’s first public appearance in his home district of Kupwara.

He told the gathering that his fight was against corruption and “for the honour and dignity of Kashmir people”.

The 2009 IAS topper resigned from service to join politics. He had said that his resignation from IAS was a small act of defiance against continuing killings in Kashmir and the failure of the central government to start an initiative to address the Kashmir problem.

It was initially believed that he would join the National Conference.

Faesal said he had decided to fight his own political battle against corruption, favouritism and poor governance.

“I have chosen a longer but a more straight road to achieve my objectives,” Faesal said.