10:52 SC rejects plea for ‘urgent hearing’ of Sasikala’s swearing-in : The Supreme Court declines an urgent hearing of a PIL seeking to restrain V K Sasikala from taking oath as CM. The court has said there will be no ‘urgent’ hearing of the case, but reschedules to February 17.
A PIL was moved in the Supreme Court on Monday seeking to restrain AIADMK leader V K Sasikala from being sworn in as Tamil Nadu chief minister on the ground that the apex court was likely to pronounce within a week the judgment in a corruption case in which she and late CM J Jayalalithaa were accused.
The PIL was filed by Chennai resident Senthil Kumar, general secretary of NGO Satta Panchayat Iyakkam, hours after the apex court indicated it could deliver its judgment on the appeals challenging the acquittal of Jayalalithaa and Sasikala in a 19-year-old disproportionate assets case.
Kumar, who mentioned in the plea that he will argue the matter in person, sought a stay on Sasikala’s swearing in, contending that if she was convicted and forced to resign, there was a possibility of riots erupting all over Tamil Nadu. He said law and order may worsen in such an eventuality as the state was already facing a “desperate situation” due to cyclone, demonetization and death of Jayalalithaa.
10:25 Trump calls Chinese prez, promises to honour One China policy: President Trump told Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday night that he will honor the “One China” policy that recognizes Beijing as the only legitimate Chinese government.
The two leaders spoke by phone Thursday night, the White House said in a release, their first phone conversation since Trump’s inauguration.
“The two leaders discussed numerous topics and President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honor our ‘one China’ policy,” the release said.
“Representatives of the United States and China will engage in discussions and negotiations on various issues of mutual interest.”
Trump accepted a call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen after his election, breaking with the long-standing protocol. He later told the Wall Street Journal that “Everything is under negotiation, including ‘One China.’
“The White House described the Thursday call as “lengthy” and “extremely cordial,” and said both men had extended invites to visit their respective countries. The release came shortly after the publication of a New York Times report that described China as “stung” by Trump’s call with Taiwan. Officials told the Times that Xi would not agree to speak with Trump until after his public acknowledgment of the policy, which in effect cuts off official governmental ties with Taiwan, officially named the Republic of China. China — officially the People’s Republic of China — considers Taiwan to be a breakaway region.
The policy was put in place under President Jimmy Carter, and he was the last president to speak with a Taiwanese leader.The call comes one day before Trump is set to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Washington, after which they will play golf at Trump’s Palm Beach resort.
10:05 US President Donald Trump calls Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, says will respect ‘OneChina’policy: White House.
Progress is slow but some experts say the scheme needs to be given some time before it picks up. Sometime earlier, the Shree Somnath Trust, near Junagadh, had deposited a small quantity of gold under GMS with Dena Bank.
This was refined by the Gujarat Gold Center, one of the oldest gold refineries in the state, at Ahmedabad. In end-January, another North Gujarat temple, Ambaji’s, Shri Arasuri Ambaji Mata Devasthan Trust, deposited 6.3 kg of gold with Dena Bank, through the same Centre.
This is the first such incidence, of a private refinery route being used to deposit gold.Sources close to the temple said they were testing the mechanism.
“More deposits will be made in the near future,’ the source said. The Ambaji temple is said to have another 100 kg which can be deposited.
Rajesh Bhayani/Business Standard
09:48 The man who declared the end of history fears for democracys future: Francis Fukuyama, an acclaimed American political philosopher, entered the global imagination at the end of the Cold War when he prophesied the “end of history” — a belief that, after the fall of communism, free-market liberal democracy had won out and would become the world’s “final form of human government.”
Now, at a moment when liberal democracy seems to be in crisis across the West, Fukuyama, too, wonders about its future.
“Twenty five years ago, I didn’t have a sense or a theory about how democracies can go backward,” said Fukuyama in a phone interview. “And I think they clearly can.” Read more
09:39 Jessica Alba, Tyra Banks cut ties with ‘Celebrity Apprentice’:
Jessica Alba and Tyra Banks have pulled their products from US reality show The New Celebrity Apprentice due to the programme’s ties to President Donald Trump.
The organisers of the #GrabYourWallet campaign named Banks’ makeup and skincare brand, Tyra Beauty, and Jessica’s The Honest Company among their firms to boycott, after both featured on the programme, which is executive produced by former host Trump.
The campaign was launched to rally against the businesses associated with the President as a protest against the controversial policies that have kicked off his term in office.
However, boycott organiser Shannon Coulter has since removed Jessica, who has also worked as an adviser on the show, and Tyra’s companies from the list after they cut ties with the series, reported Contactmusic.
09:21 ‘He is sitting on the chair Nehru sat on, Vajpayee sat on’: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s jibe in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday — “only Dr Sahab knows the art of taking bath in the bathroom while wearing a raincoat. No one else does” — during his reply to the debate on the President’s address has predictably evoked an angry response from the Congress party, apart from coming in for criticism across the political spectrum.
On Thursday, former finance minister P Chidambaram responded to Modi’s remark — who was not present in the House, however — and said, “He is my prime minister as much as he is your (BJP members’) prime minister. Please prevail upon your prime minister to use language which is moderate and respectful — to his office and to the office held by his predecessors.”
09:21 Note ban: FinMin officials set to depose before PAC:
Rajeev Sharma tells us: Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee will meet on Friday on the issue of demonetisation.
Top finance ministry officials will depose before the parliamentary panel including Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia and Banking Secretary Anjuly Duggal.
Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel appeared before the PAC on January 20, two days after his deposition before another parliamentary panel, the standing committee on finance.
The finance ministry’s top brass had been summoned by the PAC last month along with Dr Patel, but the PAC agreed to their request for another date as they were busy with preparation of the Budget.
This will be the first time when the finance ministry’s top officials will depose before the PAC on demonetisation.
Significantly, the Modi government has not yet given the exact number of cash deposits received by the banks, post offices and cooperative banks during the 50-day window given by the government which closed on December 30.
The RBI governor too declined to disclose the number of cash deposits, saying that the counting was still on. The finance ministry officials are also likely to duck this question today.
09:03 Pakistan 36-nation naval exercise begins today:
Pakistan is hosting warships from 36 countries, including Russia, China and the US, in the Arabian Sea for a naval exercise beginning today.
Codenamed Aman-17, the five-day-long exercise will be held in the north Arabian Sea.
Russia has sent three ships for the exercise which, according to Pakistan Navy, is held every two years to raise awareness about naval affairs and improve coordination between different navies. Four ships from the US, and one each from Indonesia, Australia and Turkey will also participate.
Other participants of the exercise themed ‘Together for peace’ include China, Japan, Sri Lanka, the UK, and France.
Commander of the Pakistani Fleet, Vice Admiral Arifullah Hussaini said the exercise has helped navies to work together in eradicating terrorism, human, arms and drug trafficking.
He said Pakistani naval ships were also ensuring free sea trade in the Gulf of Aden.
“This region, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea, is very important as well as complex. It is from here that the world’s oil is transported,” he added.
Asked about India focusing on increasing its naval assets, Hussaini said the Aman-17 exercise was aimed at promoting inter-operability and not at preparing for war.
08:54 Trump’s border wall with Mexico will cost US Rs 1.4 lakh crore:
President Donald Trump’s “wall” along the US-Mexico border would be a series of fences and walls that would cost as much as $21.6 billion (Rs 1.4 lakh crore), and take more than three years to construct, based on a US Department of Homeland Security internal report accessed by Reuters.
The report’s estimated price-tag is much higher than a $12 billion (over Rs 80,000 crore) figure cited by Trump in his campaign and estimates as high as $15 billion (Rs 1 lakh crore) from Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The report is expected to be presented to Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly in the coming days, although the administration will not necessarily take actions it recommends.
The plan lays out what it would take to seal the border in three phases of construction of fences and walls covering just over 1,250 miles (2,000 km) by the end of 2020. With 1,046 km of the border already fortified, the new construction would extend almost the length of the entire border.
08:50 Prez estate to take a big step towards lower power bills today:
An annual savings of around Rs 80 lakh in electricity bills is expected from the solar power project to be inaugurated today in President’s estate.
President Pranab Mukherjee will inaugurate the first phase of the project under which 670 KW of solar power will be generated through rooftop solar panels installed on seven buildings in the estate.
“The savings in electricity bills resulting from this project is expected to be approximately Rs 80 lakh per year. The generation of solar power will result in significant reduction in carbon footprint and make the estate more energy efficient,” a release issued by the President’s secretariat said.
As part of the inaugural event, a day-long exhibition showcasing various aspects of energy conservation and green energy is being held with support of Tata Power Delhi
Distribution Limited (TPDDL), Rural Electrification Corporation, Green Jobs Sector Skill Council, Bureau of Energy Efficiency, Central Electronics Limited and Energy fficiency Services Limited.
Painting and science model competitions as well as a ‘Nukkad Natak’ (street play) on the theme of energy efficiency/solar power will be organised on the occasion, the
In a first-of-its-kind event bringing ‘women empowerment’ at the centre stage of debate and deliberations, a National Women’s Parliament will be held near Vijayawada today.
With the main theme of ‘Empowering Women-Strengthening Democracy’, the three-day conclave will be held at Pavitra Sangamam on the outskirts of Vijayawada in the capital region and will be attended, among others, by Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama.
Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly is organising the event and the state government is hosting it with support of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and Inter-Parliamentary Union, among others.
Though the conclave was supposed to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi via video conference, it has now been cancelled because of his preoccupation, Assembly Speaker Kodela Sivaprasada Rao said on the eve of the conclave.
The vision of NWP is to enable and encourage social, political and economic empowerment of women in all strata of the society and one of its objectives is to generate new ideas, theories and ideologies for women empowerment, Rao said.
As many as 91 women parliamentarians, 401 legislators, 300 social and corporate sector women leaders from India and abroad are expected to attend the NWP, while over 10,000 “socially and politically sensitive” girl students will be networked with the leaders.
08:43 Royal family to take boot officials for granting Padmavati shooting permission:
The former Jaipur royal family has decided to take disciplinary action against the officials for not providing them details about Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film ‘Padmavati’, which courted controversy and protests by Karni Sena and giving permission for its shooting at Jaigarh fort in Jaipur.
The shooting was going on at the Jaigarh fort, owned by the former royal family, when the members of Karni Sena staged protest and vandalised the set on January 27, accusing Bhansali of distorting the historic facts in the film.
“The department set up to take care of shootings and granting permission did not provide full information to the Royal Family relating to the film and gave permission to shoot it. When it came to the knowledge of the Royal Family, disciplinary action is being taken against the erring officials of the department,” a release from the family said.
Former Rajmata Padmini Devi in statement said that Jaipur Royal Family stands committed to protect the proud history of Rajasthan.
“Anyone attempting to twist or change the history of Rajasthan will not be tolerated,” she said.
A damning report to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights recommends that accreditation to India’s National Human Rights Commission be deferred till November, 2017.
The recommendation has been made by the Global Alliance for National Human Rights Institutions, affiliated to the UN’s OHCHR, late in January. This would mean that till accreditation is renewed, the NHRC will be barred from representing India in the UN’s Human Rights Council as well as the UN General Assembly.
The NHRC’s selection and appointment process came in for sharp criticism in the report, which notes the lack of uniform and precise criteria for appointing members, and because no advertisement for vacancies in top posts is given out.
00:14 You created fizz without soap: Uddhav attacks PM over ‘raincoat’ jibe:
Taking on Narendra Modi over his “raincoat” remark, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray said that the Prime Minister had created “fizz” without soap.
“Though he wore a raincoat, (former Prime Minister) Manmohan Singh at least bathed using water. You (Modi) did not even use water to bathe everybody (in the country). You created fizz without soap,” Thackeray said, in apparent reference to hardships caused by the demonetisation.
The Sena leader was addressing a campaign rally in Mumbai for Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation polls.
Referring to the former Prime Minister during a speech in the Rajya Sabha yesterday, Modi had said, “Dr sahab’s image remained clean despite his government being mired in scams, as only he knew the art of bathing with his raincoat on.”
Uddhav said had he not severed ties with BJP (for BMC elections of February 21) his photo too would have been there in posters with Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and Pappu Kalani (former MLA of Ulhasnagar who was accused of murder). I am relieved that I did not have to join the likes of Kalani,” he said.
“We are accountable to people. Earlier BJP had faces like Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Lal Krishna Advani. Now they have faces of goons. Now Kalani is with Modi and Shah on posters,” he alleged.