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MCI (P) 078/03/2019
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Singapore Press Holdings
(English/Malay/Tamil Media group)
V.K. Santosh Kumar
Marketing Team Head
Arrests after Delhi’s
Police in New Delhi on Monday
arrested the owner and manager
of a factory where 43 people
died in the Indian capital’s
deadliest fire in 20 years.
The blaze started early on
Sunday morning when more
than 100 workers were sleeping
in the four-storey building
located in a residential area.
The factory, which made
school bags, toys and stationery
goods, was packed with
combustible materials such as
paper, plastic and cardboard,
causing it to burn for hours
before being brought under
Most employable talent
Maharashtra tops the list of states with
the highest employable talent, followed
by Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra
Pradesh and Karnataka, according to
the India Skills Report 2020 which was
released on Tuesday.
Mumbai, Hyderabad and Pune stood
out as the most employable cities.
The report assessed 300,000
candidates from 35 educational
institutions across 28 states and nine
Woman shot in the face for
refusing to dance
A man is on the run in Uttar Pradesh
after he shot a wedding singer in the
face because she stopped performing.
The incident took place on Nov 30
in Chitrakoot district but came to light
only a week later after a video of the
shooting was shared on messaging
Police said the shooter has been
identified and they are “confident” he
will be caught soon. The woman
survived and is recovering in hospital.
Delhi a gas chamber, then why
One of the four men on death row
over the infamous 2012 New Delhi
gang-rape and murder appealed
against his sentence on Tuesday citing
pollution. Akshay Kumar Singh said in
his review petition to the Supreme
Court that the air quality in New
Delhi was like a “gas chamber” and its
water “full of poison”.
“Everyone is aware of what is
happening in Delhi-NCR (national
capital region) with regard to air and
water. Life is going to be short, then
why death penalty?” he asked.
Probe into encounter that killed
A bench of Chief Justice S.A. Bobde
and Justices S.A. Nazeer and Sanjiv
Khanna said on Wednesday that a
former Supreme Court judge will be
asked to probe the killing of four rape
accused in last week’s alleged
encounter near Hyderabad.
According to the police version, the
four men, all lorry workers in their
twenties accused of rape and murder
of a 26-year old veterinarian, were
shot dead by a police team after they
fired at them in an attempt to escape
from the scene of the crime.
Tribal artistes are seen waiting to perform at
the Tribal Sports Competition in Bhopal.
More than 4,500 students from 284
Eklavya Schools across 24 states particpated
in the five-day event which concluded on
Eklavya Model Residential Schools were
started by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs in
1997 to ensure tribal students in the remote
areas of the country get access to quality
The Games had competitions in
16 different disciplines, including hockey,
wrestling, football, archery, kabaddi and
kho-kho, a popular tag game.
4,500 take part in Tribal Games
Fire engulfs a police officer during protests in Agartala, the capital of Tripura.
India moved thousands of troops into
the northeastern state of Assam yester-
day as violent protests erupted against
a new law that would make it easier
for non-Muslim minorities from some
neighbouring countries to seek Indian
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s
Bharatiya Janata Party-led government
has said the Citizenship Amendment
Bill is meant to protect besieged mi-
Critics say it undermines the coun-
try’s secular constitution by not offer-
ing protection to Muslims while others
argue it will open India’s northern
states to a flood of foreigners.
Resistance to the bill has been the
strongest in Assam, where a move-
ment against illegal immigrants from
neighbouring Bangladesh has sim-
mered for decades.
As India’s upper house of parlia-
ment passed the bill in the early hours
of Thursday, protests took place across
In Assam, protesters defied a cur-
few, torching cars and tyres and chant-
ing anti-Modi slogans.
While the streets of Assam’s capital
Guwahati were largely calm as troops
moved in from neighbouring states,
protesters were back on the streets in
other parts like Morigaon, where they
Mobile Internet was suspended in
some parts of Assam with the govern-
ment saying that social media plat-
forms could potentially be used to
“inflame passions and thus exacerbate
the law and order situation”.
“A landmark day for India and our
nation’s ethos of compassion and
brotherhood!,” Mr Modi tweeted after
the citizenship law was apssed on
Wednesday. “This Bill will alleviate
the suffering of many who faced
persecution for years.”
Opponents of the legislation have
threatened to challenge it in the
Supreme Court, saying it violates the
principles of equality and secularism
enshrined in the constitution.
“The bill will take away our rights,
language and culture with millions of
Bangladeshis getting citizenship,” said
Gitimoni Dutta, a college student, in
Despite assurances from Home Min-
ister Amit Shah that safeguards will be
put in place, people in Assam and
surrounding states fear that arriving
settlers could increase competition for
land and upset the region’s demo-
The Citizenship Amendment Bill
seeks to grant Indian nationality to
Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains,
Parsis and Sikhs who fled Afghanistan,
Bangladesh and Pakistan before 2015.
The bill passed the upper house of
parliament with 125 members support-
ing it and 105 opposing. It will be sent
to the president to be signed into law,
with his approval seen as a formality.
The government said Muslims from
Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan
are excluded from the legislation be-
cause they do not face discrimination
in those countries.
In response, Bangladesh’s Foreign
Minister A.K. Abdul Momen told
news agency UNB on Wednesday that
his country did not oppress minorities.
“In our country, religious harmony
is at a very high level. No one from
other religions is oppressed here... We
see those (minorities) in equal eyes
and as the citizens of Bangladesh.”
The United States Commission on
International Religious Freedom said
on Monday that Washington should
consider sanctions against Mr Shah, a
close associate of Mr Modi, if India
adopts the legislation.
“The passage of the Citizenship
Amendment Bill marks the victory of
narrow-minded and bigoted forces
over India’s pluralism,” said Mrs Sonia
Gandhi, leader of the main opposition
Defending the bill in the upper
house, Mr Shah said the new law
sought to help only minorities perse-
cuted in Muslim-majority countries
contiguous with India.
“Nobody is taking citizenship away
from India’s Muslims. This is a bill to
give citizenship, not take citizenship
away,” Mr Shah said.
Tapping his white cane, Mr Vinod Kumar Sharma
spends four hours a day running the gauntlet of
crowded trains and New Delhi’s congested, potholed
and often pavement-less roads.
He is one of an estimated 63 million visually-im-
paired people in India, according to the World
Health Organisation. Of those, some eight million
are completely blind – around 20 per cent of the
Many roads in Delhi lack pavements, forcing the
44-year-old father of three to walk on the roadside,
probing his white cane in front as cars and trucks
tear past just centimetres away.
On trains, where passengers are packed like
sardines in the megacity of 20 million people, he is
dependent on fellow commuters helping him to
navigate platforms and squeeze in and out of
Mr Sharma said that people always help him to
get on and off trains.
“The people are good. But there are broken roads
and open sewage holes which are always a risk,” he
Mr Sharma, like many other blind Indians, also
battles a dire lack of opportunities in education and
employment for disabled people.
Many are forced to beg or turn to charity to make
Poverty and poor access to healthcare in rural
areas also contributes to the high prevalence of
vision impairment in India, experts say.
Mr Sharma, who hails from one of India’s poorest
states – Bihar, lost his sight as a teenager while
working in the fields near his village.
He moved to the Indian capital to try and get
treatment, but when doctors were unable to help
him, he stayed on.
He trained at a school for the blind and landed a
job in a factory, making children’s braille toys for
more than two decades before it shut down last year.
He started to retrain as a massage therapist in
January, resolutely making the long commute to
classes at the Blind Relief Association in Delhi.
“I have picked up massage as I have become
older and there aren’t many other avenues for me,”
Ms Swapna Merlin from the Blind Relief Associa-
tion said many of its trainees are from rural regions
and have been brought up to believe that they
cannot exist outside their families’ care.
“Once they come out and know they can do
different things, that itself is a big exposure to
them,” she said. “Every story of success is an
inspiration for many others.”
The blind stumble on Delhi’s ‘broken’ streets
Mr Vinod Kumar Sharma crossing a railway track in Delhi.
Troops moved to Assam amid violent protests
Ms Archana, the mother of
a five-year-old child, has
proved it again that success
depends on hard work and
dedication and being poor
is no bar to any achieve-
The daughter of a peon,
who worked in a court in
Sonepur in Bihar’s Saran
district, cleared the state’s
Judicial Service examina-
tion in her second attempt
and is set to become a
Her only regret is that
her father Gaurinandan is
not around to celebrate her
success. He died a few years
ago. “My father served judges as a peon,
which I didn’t like as a child. I promised
myself that one day I would be a judge,”
said Ms Archana, who was born in Bihar’s
“It was not easy to continue my studies
after my father’s death, but my mother
refused to give in to the circumstances and
stood like a pillar with me. Some relatives
too helped us tide over the hardship.”
Ms Archana passed her Class 12 examina-
tion as a student of the Shastri Nagar
Government High School in Patna and went
on to study at Patna University. She later
joined her school as a computer teacher.
When marriage followed, Archana felt
that she would not be able
to realise her dream of be-
coming a judge. But on
knowing her desire, her hus-
band Rajiv Ranjan, a clerk
at the Patna Medical Col-
lege Hospital, decided to
support her and encouraged
her to continue her studies.
“Yes, I had to struggle a
lot,” she said. “My husband
knew of my dream and he
encouraged me to strive for
it.” The support from her
in-laws rekindled her hopes
and she decided to try her
best to achieve her goal.
Archana completed her
Bachelor of Laws in Pune.
She did her Master of Laws at the Braja
Mohan Thakur Law College in Purnia,
Bihar, in 2014. Later, she attended coaching
classes in Delhi to prepare for the Bihar
Judicial Service examination.
“Pursuing studies was never easy, particu-
larly after marriage and bearing a child,”
“But my husband and in-laws always
supported me. If one has a dream and is
ready to strive for it, it can be achieved
come what may.
“Some people who used to taunt me are
congratulating me now. I’m very happy with
what I have achieved.”
Indo-Asian News Service
Court peon’s daughter
set to be judge
“Happy, but not too surprised.”
That was the candid response
from Indian Administrative Ser-
vice (IAS) officer Durga Shakti
Nagpal on hearing that reputed
producers Sunir Kheterpal and
Robbie Grewal are going to
make a Bollywood film on her
The makers of Kesari and
Badla on Monday announced
plans to do a biopic on
Ms Nagpal, who as a young
IAS officer in 2013 fearlessly
took on the illegal sand mining
and construction mafia in Uttar
Pradesh. She had stoically
braved the political pressure
“Given a chance, I would
love to relive it all again,” she
She considers the experi-
ence gained during those tough
times as invaluable. “Within a
span of three to four months I
learnt more than what I would
have learnt in four to five
years,” she said.
The media and public sup-
port during those trying times
spurred her on.
While it will be some time
before the film hits the screen,
Ms Nagpal is clear about the
message it should convey to
viewers, especially parents and
children. “Whatever I am is
because of my parents and
upbringing. They made me
brave, bold and courageous. I
want that to be portrayed in
the movie,” she said.
Indo-Asian News Service
Bollywood movie on
brave IAS officer
“Whatever I am
is because of
my parents and
made me brave,
I want that to be
– Indian Administrative
Service officer Durga
December 13, 2019
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