Mukherjee meets Lalu, Mulayam to end deadlock over MPs salary hike

New Delhi, Aug 21 (ANI): Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday met Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Gopinath Munde to end the deadlock over salary hike for MPs.

The Union Cabinet on Friday approved a bill to hike MPs salary from current Rs 16,000 to Rs 50,000.

The decision came days after the Union Cabinet deferred its decision on the proposed three-fold increase.

The Bill will now be placed in Parliament for final approval today.

The Parliament on Wednesday witnessed huge protests from Lalu Prasad Yadav, who vociferously demanded the hike. He was joined by Mulayam Singh and other members of the Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), RJD, Janat Dal (United) JD (U), Shiv Sena and Trinamool Congress.

The Joint Parliamentary Committee on Salaries, Allowances and Pensions, headed by Congress MP Charan Das Mahant, had proposed a salary of Rs 80,001, arguing that an MP”s salary should be at least a rupee more than that of an officer of the rank of Secretary (Rs 80,000), whom an MP outranks in the list of protocol.

The recommendation to hike the salary was made taking into account the consumer price index and the wage index for skilled urban labour.

Apart from the base salary, an MP gets a daily allowance of Rs 1,000 for each day when Parliament is in session or a sitting of a House committee is scheduled.

A member is entitled for constituency allowance of Rs 20,000 per month and office expense allowance of another Rs 20,000 per month.

Every MP can avail 34 single air journeys during a year with spouse or any number of companions or relatives.
The last hike in salaries and allowances of 795 MPs — 545 members of Lok Sabha and 250 members of Rajya Sabha — came into effect about 10 years ago. (ANI)

Public protests over hike in MPs salaries

Patna/Aurangabad/Kolkata, New Delhi, Aug 21 (ANI): People across the country are unhappy with the Union Cabinet”s approval of a three-fold hike in the salaries and perks of MPs, saying it is burden on the poor.

In Patna, the public expressed its displeasure on the issue, saying politicians are meant to work for the common man and should not worry about their own salaries.

“This is absolutely wrong, and is not in favour of the public. There should be no salary hike for political leaders. They are meant to work for the public and should work for the public, and they already get a lot of salary. And, in today”s time, it”s really not right,” said S P Yadav, a local.

“They are making their own rules and regulations and that is why they are increasing their own salaries,” Yadav added.
In Maharashtra”s Aurangabad city, the people echoed similar sentiments.

“If you see Rs 16,000 is not less for them. They also have factories, mills and business worth millions. They should not even get four annas (cents). They are sucking the public”s blood and spending it. People elect them to think about the poor and development,” said Sayed Samir, a local.

“Instead of working for the people they are filling in their own house with money. They get Rs 50,000, train facilities and plane bookings beforehand. Four days ago I came from Mumbai, I had to travel by standing in the train”s toilet. They should not be given money. This is the public”s money and the poor are worried,” he added.

In Kolkata, residents said politicians should worry about inflation rather than demanding a hike in their salaries.

“It”s not right because they are not thinking about the general public and are thinking about themselves. They are getting all facilities. Government employees get all facilities. They now want to leave all facilities and want to increase their salaries,” said Janardan Sharma, a local.

“The common man is facing inflation, they have not done anything for that and have no interest in it. In the last one year, inflation has increased by about fifty percent. So, they should think about that first, rather than their limited liabilities,” he added.

The Union Cabinet on Friday approved a bill to hike MPs salary from current Rs 16,000 to Rs 50,000. (ANI)

Curfew continues in tense Kashmir Valley

Srinagar, Aug 21 (ANI): Authorities here imposed curfew in most parts of the Kashmir Valley on Saturday, following which, all the shops closed down and streets were left deserted.

Curfew was imposed in under the jurisdiction of the police stations of Batmaloo, Bemina, Qamarwari, Kralkhud, Nowhatta, Khanyar, MR Gunj, Safakadal, Rainawari, Maisuma, Shaheedgunj, Abi-Guzar and Kothibagh.

State authorities fear that people would come out of their homes and participate in protests called by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the chief of the hardline faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference.

The curfew was imposed this morning and would be in place till further orders.

As per the latest reports, security forces were seen patrolling the streets in and around Srinagar city.

The Kashmir Valley has experienced a surge of violence that has led authorities to impose frequent curfew restrictions in several parts of the state.

Curfew was initially imposed on June 30 in parts of northern and southern Kashmir to stop demonstrations over a couple of protesters who died in police firing.

It was lifted some days later, but was again imposed as fresh violence erupted. (ANI)

Japanese Foreign Minister to visit India today

New Delhi, Aug 21 (ANI): Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada will be arriving here on a two-day visit today (Saturday).

Okada would be meeting Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to discuss issues concerning bilateral civil nuclear cooperation.

The visiting dignitary is also expected to meet External Affairs Minister S M Krishna later in the day and hold a joint press conference in the evening.

Okada will hold a meeting Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia on Saturday evening.

He will also meet Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh on Sunday afternoon before flying back to Japan. (ANI)

Patients suffer as medical staff go on strike in Ranchi govt. hospitals

By Girija Shankar Ojha

Ranchi, Aug 20 (ANI): A three-day strike, called by the nurses and junior doctors of state-run hospitals here, has badly affects the lives of the patients, and dismantled health services in the region.

The Jharkhand-unit of Trained Nurses Association of India and Junior Doctors Association have gone on a strike starting Tuesday to grab the attention of the authorities in order to fulfill their demands.

The protesting nurses were forced to convert their three-day strike into an indefinite one as the hospital authorities did not fulfill their six-point charter of demands within the prescribed deadline of Thursday.

“Because they refused to talk to us, we were forced to issue an ultimatum to our director in a bid to fulfill their six-point charter of demands. As a result of it, all the 384 nurses of Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) were forced to go on an indefinite strike since August 19 night,” said Rekha Rai, member of theTrained Nurses Association of India.

The nurses have demanded a revision in their pay as per the guidelines laid under the Sixth Pay Commission, while the nurses working on contractual basis are urging for regularized status.

The authorities, however, blame the protesting staff for creating unwanted problems for the patients and disrupting the functioning of the hospital.

“Director-in-chief and officials from the Health Department had come to hold talks with the staff but they refused to talk. They were not ready to hold talks with them. This shows that their intentions are not true and they are unnecessarily trying to create problems for us,” said A. K. Mahto, Director, Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS).

Junior doctors, have complained of the ill treatment they receive at the hands of the patients” attendants, and are demanding security provisions under the Medical Protection Law.

Amid all this, the real suffers are the patients who are lying unattended in these hospital wards and their attendants, who are running across the hospital premises for medical attention.

“We don”t have money. Once we will get money then only we can book transport to shift the patient from here. ‘We are helpless. They have told us, we will get all the required medical documents as there is no one to attend, everyone is on strike, and so you can make your own arrangements.’ They have informed us, ‘We will write down all the medications, so that you can get treatment elsewhere and once the strike is over then you can come back’,” said Ranjit Chandravasni, a patient”s attendant.

Trainee nurses and other paramedic staff have been employed to cater to the emergency needs in these hospitals. (ANI)

Khadi would no longer be available at discounted rates

By Kamna Hajela

Lucknow, Aug 20 (ANI): Khadi would no longer be available at discounted rates to consumers from October 2, following the Central Government”s order to reform the existing subsidy patterns, due to which the current rebate of 20 percent has been withdrawn.

The discount, which was available across the country for 108 working days, starting October 2 every year, will now be directed towards the Marketing Development Assistance (MDA) programme of the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC), an apex organization of the central Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.

However, individual Khadi institutions have not welcomed the change of the central government”s policy.

“We can”t say anything about the central government, they believe in Gandhian ideology. We don”t know why they are doing it. What is the conspiracy behind it, we can”t understand. This is totally wrong and this should not happen,” said Suman Saini, a customer.

Over 80 percent of annual sales of Khadi products are restricted to the discount season, while less than 20 percent of sales are made during the remaining eight months.

“Either we do not understand the people, or the people do not understand the ideology of Gandhi. If one wants to understand the ideology of Gandhi, you have to live with honest values and we are doing it, and we shall continue doing it in spite of all opposition from the government, and we shall fight it out,” said Rameshawar Nath Mishra, founder of the Gandhi Ashram in Lucknow. (ANI)

India’s cocoa export to international market increasing

By S. Jaykumar

Dharampuri (Tamil Nadu), Aug 20 (ANI): India”s exports of cocoa to the international market have reached 60 to 70 percent of the total output.

More than 2,500 hectares of land is currently under cultivation in Tamil Nadu’s Dharmapuri District.

“Dharmapuri district is selected for implementing National Horticulture Mission. Under National Horticulture Mission, we are promoting various crops, fruits, flowers, vegetables and plantation crops. Under the plantation crop, we promote this cocoa,” said Murugan, Assistant Director of the Horticulture Mission of Dharmapuri.

Cocoa fruits have great value as they are used in various processed foods and have medicinal value.

“Major cocoa producing states in India are Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. We export nearly 60 to 70 percent of the requirements. The cocoa is mainly cultivated for making chocolates, food products, beverages and to some extent, medicinal requirements,” said Murugan.

The state government has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the chocolate firm Cadbury Dairy, India.

Cocoa growers are also happy as they can easily grow this seasonal crop between their coconut gardens and do not need separate plots of land. They also get a subsidy of Rs 20,000 per hectare from the Horticulture Mission. (ANI)

India, Gambia ink protocol for consultations

New Delhi, Aug 20 (ANI): India and Gambia signed a protocol for consultations during the visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Gambia, Mamadou Tangara.

During his four-day visit beginning on Wednesday, the visiting dignitary met Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur and thanked Government of India for assistance provided to the Gambia for its development, particularly in the field of human resource development and for the concessional lines of credits.

Mamadou Tangara conveyed his Government”s desire to further enhance cooperation with India and sought increased cooperation in the field of human resource development.

Meanwhile, Kaur assured Tangara that India would consider any proposal from the Gambian side for increased bilateral cooperation especially for capacity building/training by way of human resource development in the Gambia in a positive manner.

She announced a grant of 500,000 dollars to Gambia to be utilized in the education and health sectors, and conveyed India”s offer to set up one ”Hole-in-the-Wall (HiWel) work station in Gambia.

The visiting Minister also met Union Human Resource and Development (HRD) Minister Kapil Sibal during his visit, besides having a meeting at National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC), National Research Development Corporation (NRDC), EXIM Bank and several other organizations of interest to the Gambia.

Mamadou Tangara will fly back to Gambia on August 22. (ANI)

Govt. proposes to introduce Document Identification Number from July 2011

New Delhi, Aug 20 (ANI): The Central Government on Friday proposed to allot the Document Identification Number (DIN), which would be quoted on every income tax related communication from July 1 next year.

“The government proposes to allot the Document Identification Number (DIN) an income tax authority is required to allot a computer generated DIN on or after July 1, 2011, before issue of every notice, order, letter or any correspondence to any other income tax authority or assessee,” said Minister of State for Finance S S Palanimanickam to the Lok Sabha today.

Every document, letter, correspondence received by an income tax authority or on behalf of such an authority should be received only after allotting and quoting of a computer generated Document Identification Number. (ANI)

Indian army kicks off motorbike expedition to pay homage to World War II martyrs

New Delhi, Aug 20 (ANI): The Indian Army flagged off a cross-country motorbike expedition here on Friday across war memorials in several Eurasian and West Asian nations to pay homage to the brave and martyr soldiers of the Second World War.

The 10-member team of biking enthusiasts, christened the ”Lightning Bulleteers”, would be travelling across geographic boundaries of Eurasia and West Asia during their 42 days tour, logging a lengthy distance 12000 kilometres.

“Led by Colonel V K S Tomar, the ”Lightning Bulleteers” comprises five senior male Army officers, two lady cadres and three members of other ranks,” said defence officials.

The main objective of the expedition is to pay homage to the brave soldiers slain in the Second World War by placing mementoes at various international war memorials.

Riding high on their heavy-duty, specially designed 500 cc Royal Enfield motorbikes, the team would be traversing smooth roads, rugged mountains and varied landscapes across Greece, Turkey, Italy, France and the United Kingdom.

“Basically, the message that we are sending is of universal peace, harmony and the spirit of adventure, which the Indian Army promotes. The expedition will be challenging, given the distance and the weather conditions. But we have taken up this challenge and we will give our best,” said Colonel V K S Tomar.

Beginning the rally from the historical India Gate in New Delhi, the Lightning Bulleteers would zip to Maharashtra”a Mumbai city by road, and take a flight to Turkey.

From Turkey, the team would again resume their travel astride the sturdy two-wheelers after visiting the famous Helles War Memorial and the Twelve Tree Copse Memorial, where there were 1,730 Indian casualties in the Gallipoli Campaign of 1915.

The team would be riding across the Monastir Road Indian Memorial and the Phaleron War cemetery at Greece, where more than 200 men of then British Indian army had been slain during the violent movements in Greece and Crete Islands during the Second World War.

Further visits include visit to the New Glasgow War Memorial, the Hollybrook Memorial, The Cenotaph and the Edinburgh Castle in the UK.

The expedition is aimed at spreading the message of universal, international bonhomie, and friendship.

It would also strengthen the Indian Army”s strategic ties with these nations.

The culmination of the expedition will take place on September 28 at New Delhi. (ANI)

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