Maratha Kranti Morcha holds silent march in Pune

The Maratha Kranti Morcha was started a month ago and in this small span of time, it has managed to gather a mammoth of 15 lakh Marathas from all walks of life. The Maratha front has followers from across 20 cities of Maharashtra including Aurangabad, Usmanabad, Jalgaon , Beed , Parbhani , Hingoli, Nanded, Jalna, Akola , Latur, Navi Mumbai, Solapur, Ahmednagar  and Nasik. And now, they have set foot in the cultural capital, the education centre and one of the important IT hubs of the state—Pune.

The Maratha Kranti Morcha is holding a silent mach in the city today which will conclude by submitting a memorandum of requests to the District Collector. The demands put forth through the silent agitation are three-fold— 1. Seeking to punish the culprits of Kopardi minor girl gang rape and murder at the earliest; 2. Amendment of the Prevention of Atrocities Act so as to check its misuse; 3. Petitioning for reservations of the Maratha community, seeking a quick redressal of the issue.

The Maratha front will commence the march after paying homage to the great Maratha warrior Raja Sambhaji Maharaj’s statue at the Deccan Square. The march will proceed through Laxmi Road and end at the Council Hall, where a delegation of five girls will present the memorandum to the district collector. The nitty gritties of planning and organising the march are being taken care of at the Marathon Bhavan lent to the front by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). Several IT professionals have volunteered to design and manage the social media, seeking people’s support through Facebook and Twitter mass messages. A missed call service has also been subscribed for in case people want to extend their support but are unable to attend the march.

One of the most appreciating aspects of the march being organised by the Maratha Kranti Morcha is that there is no political inclination to it. Even if a political member wishes to extend support, he might do so as an ordinary person—without branding his political party, carrying propagandistic banners or delivering speeches. It is a voluntary initiative, raised suo moto by the Maratha community to seek a resolution to problems faced by them on a daily basis.  There is no single leader who is managing the show, and absolutely no outsourced cash funding. People from the Maratha community have lent their services in managing the event in whatever capacity that they can—be it printing, arrangement of food, banners, SMS service, et al. To make things even better, the Maratha front has also organised a cleanliness drive after the march is over.

The Maratha community hopes that through the march, the Central Government is forced to intervene and pay heed to their issues, which have been earlier ignored by the Congress-NCP Alliance.

India pursues BRICS to meet shortfall of pulses, oilseeds

India sought the cooperation of BRICS to meet the demand of pulses and oilseeds. Faced with extreme

shortage, India has requested BRICS member nations to help improve soil fertility and alleviate

malnutrition. Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh urged on the elimination of agriculture export

subsidies while addressing the 6 th meet of BRICS Agriculture Ministers.

A joint declaration took due cognizance of scrapping of agro-export subsidies, which was also brought

up at the WTO 10 th ministerial conference held at Nairobi in December 2015, re-iterating the fact that

global trade can be successfully promoted only by strengthening multilateral relations.

In December 2013, the ministerial members had raised the issue of removing trade barriers especially

for the trade of perishable food items, at a meet in Bali. This had led to the ratification of the Trade

Facilitation Agreement (TFA) which was also acknowledged at the BRICS meet.

The drought situation in central parts of India for the last two years has widened the supply-demand gap

for pulses and oilseeds. And, for a country like India that depends heavily on imports for pulses and

oilseeds, the draught has put immense pressure on retail prices; prompting the government to seek

assistance in order to boost domestic supply.

The production of pulses has fallen 17.15 million tonnes in 2014-15 crop year to 16.47 million tonnes in

2015-16 crop year.This year, the government has increased the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of pulses,

and has created a buffer stock of two million tonnes from local procurement and imports. Due to a

higher MSP and better rains this kharif season (after almost two years of dry spell), the production of

pulses is estimated to increase to 20 million tonnes in the 2016-17 crop year. However, it still is not

sufficient to meet the domestic demand of 24 million tonnes.

Meanwhile, India’s proposal should prove beneficial to the BRICS nations, providing them business

opportunities in the field of agricultural trade. Innovative methods could be used to fulfil India’s

requirements—contract farming, leasing surplus land as well as through stepped up production and

conventional trade, agricultural research and development, technology transfer, capacity building and

information sharing through networks of agriculture and allied disciplines.

Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh Singh said: "We should work together to enhance trade among

our countries by resolving market access issues through suitable institutional mechanisms." He also said

India was encouraging higher investment in agriculture both by public and private sectors. Singh has

informed that all the five BRICS nations were ready to encourage growth of pulses, and that the

proposal has been endorsed by their corresponding ministers. However, the Memoranda of

Understanding (MoU) shall be signed at a later stage.

Content sources:

Railway Budget dies at 92

The cabinet gave a nod to merge the Railway Budget with the General Budget starting next financial year. Finance minister Arun Jaitley described the move as ‘top priority’ after the Centre gave its approval to end a practice that started in 1924. “All proposals regarding the Railway Budget will be part of general budget, which will have a separate discussion on railway expenditure,” the Jaitley mentioned today, but emphasised that “the functional autonomy of the Railways will be maintained.”

The recommendation to amalgamate the Railway Budget with the General Budget was put forth by a two-member committee comprising Niti Aayog members Bibek Debroy and Kishore Desai.

Jaitley also announced the advancement in the date of declaring the Budget keeping in mind assembly elections in the states of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. He proposes that the Budget be announced on February 1, which would mean convening the budget session before January 25, about three weeks early. The Railway Budget was erstwhile presented two days prior to the Union Budget.

As per the incumbent practice, the budget is presented on the last day of February and the Parliament approves it with or without amendments until mid-May. Considering that the monsoon does not commence until June, most of the schemes and spending by states do not take off until October, leaving just half a year for their implementation. The advancement in budget presentation would mean that the entire exercise is over by March 31. This, in turn, ensures better implementation as tax proposals come into effect right from the beginning of the new fiscal.

In effect, the revenue deficit and capital expenditure of the Railways Ministry will now be under the purview of the Finance Ministry. With the scrapping of the rail budget, the railway ministry will not have to pay a dividend of approximately Rs.10,000 crore a year to the government. As of now, the railway ministry, which happens to be the largest employer in the country, will have to bear an extra burden of Rs. 40,000 crore due to the introduction of the 7th Pay Commission, in addition to subsidies worth of Rs. 33,000 crore for passenger services. The Railways is also facing an accumulated burden of a whopping Rs. 4.83 lakh crore towards execution of 458 unfinished and ongoing projects.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu called the move “a historic step” and was of the opinion that the amalgamation of the Railway Budget with the General Budget will enhance the connectivity across the country, and in doing so will boost the economic growth. The ministry will continue to leverage extra budgetary resources and facilitate an integrated and seamless approach towards transportation strategy.

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Uri attack shudders the nation

As a strategic and calibrated response to Sunday’s terror attack in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided that Pakistan be isolated diplomatically at every international forum. In fact, at a meeting that was also attended by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Modi urged that the Uri attack be raised at the United Nations General Assembly, which is in session in New York.

The army camp in Jammu and Kashmir’s Uri district was attacked by four Pakistani terrorists in the wee hours of September 18, 2016. In what ensued to be a three-hour-long gun-battle at 12th Brigade at Uri, 17 soldiers lost their lives while the four terrorists were also killed. The terrorists allegedly belonged to Jaish-e-Mohammed. Another soldier succumbed to his injuries and died later, raising the toll to 18. The bodies of the soldiers who lost their lives in the combat are being flown to their home town today. Further, on the afternoon of September 20, there were multiple ceasefire violations across the border when Pakistani troops resorted to unprovoked firing using small arms towards Indian positions at the Uri camp.

Intelligence sources have confirmed the origin of these terrorists to be Pakistan after thorough investigation of their belongings. Apart from weapons and food with Pakistani markings seized from the terrorists, GPS trackers that they carried showed they had started from Pakistan. Although Pakistan has denied all links, the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO), Lt General Ranbir Singh is ready to hand over concrete evidence to his counterpart in Pakistan.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has sent a team to Uri so as to investigate the attack. The Army is also thoroughly probing how the terrorists breached a three-layered, counter-infiltration grid to cross the border and also how they managed to infiltrate the army base at Uri.  It seems that the attack happened during a change of command at the base between two regiments – 6 Bihar and 10 Dogra.

The attack is being strongly condemned by the entire nation and elsewhere.


Sources: NDTV


World’s toughest to-do list at UN General Assembly

While the United Nations General Assembly in session in New York this week, 140 heads of state gather to discuss the agenda for this year, in 71st  annual assembly. In addition, this will be Ban Ki- Moon’s last meeting as the UN Secretary General. Also, Barrack Obama will attend the assembly and make his final address for the last time as the President of the Unites States. Here are the few instances where dialogue translated into peaceful resolution:

Curbing violent extremism:


Terrorism has cast a dark spell in quite a few parts of the world this year and the central forces are failing miserably to check what seems to be the greatest threat to mankind. In fact, while the General Assembly is in session on the East River in Manhattan, the city was bombed injuring 29 people, which is now being by the New York Police. On the same day, a man stabbed nine people at a mall in Minnesota; and a blast disrupted a Marine Corps charity run in New Jersey.

After these possible terror attacks, the security has been tightened around all the UN events. Europe, on the other hand, has seen multiple instances of infiltration by extremists as well as ISIS militants, and very frequently at that.In addition the recent attack on the Uri Army Base in Jammu and Kashmir, followed by Pakistan’s denying any involvement in the assault when India has concrete evidences against them, has been the talk of the town ever since. To top it up, anti democratic speeches, coupled by counter speeches, particularly by Nawaz Sharif and other international political dignitaries outweighed the forum’s agenda to avoid war and negotiate differences.

Foster peace in the ravaged Middle East


In what seems to be an undying remnant of the cold war, Syria has born the maximum brunt of the never-ending tension between the US and Russia. The issue, which started with Moscow’s intervention in Syria after a strenuous meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Obama last year, has escalated out of proportion. This in response to the US strike on Syrian forces that the military had thought was an ISIS target. Moscow argued that the US was not ready to fully cooperate with them to fight militancy in the Middle-East, especially Syria, in an emergency Security Council meeting called by Russia after the US strike. Moscow also warned that the Syrian ceasefire might break down as a result of the assault.  

Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the architects of the nascent ceasefire, are expected to meet and offer an update on its progress.

The world faces the worst global refugee crisis in a quarter century:


As per statistics offered by the United Nations, more than 21 million people are displaced today, half of them children, all of them in need of food, shelter, safety and livelihoods.  Waves of people fleeing countries such as Syria, South Sudan and Afghanistan have overwhelmed the international refugee system. This record- breaking number of destabilised refugees has not only overwhelmed European nations leading to redefining its political landscape, but has also increased the risk of terrorist infiltrators. Moreover, it is giving rise to of right-leaning anti-immigrant political parties in Europe and becoming a divisive US presidential campaign issue as well. Emphasizing on the unprecedented strain that the refugees have placed on the host countries, Donald Trump warned a crowd to “lock your doors” to stay safe from Syrian refugees, and in June added that “a lot of those people are ISIS.” However, Obama announced that that it will increase the number of refugees it absorbs from 85,000 this year to 110,000 in 2017. Apart from expanded refugee settlement, the US is also ready to provide them with new opportunities such as improved access to education and legal employment. In addition, the administration said it would give $11 million to a UN fund that helps countries accepting refugees.

Threat of nuclear weapons


This month, North Korea’s largest nuclear test has managed to raise quite a few eyebrows at various international forums, mostly because the area accounts for 40 per cent of the global economy. Barrack Obama is all set to discuss all major Asian issues with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, besides North Korea’s nuclear tests.

Amongst the acoustics echoing in the grand hall that allows for shouts and screams to be heard by all, the ubiquitous issues of ending poverty, disease and hunger seem somewhat meek to be subjugated. However, the Assembly often plants the seeds for resolution of conflicts and hot button issues; even if it does not manage to provide absolute solutions.


What is killing people in India?

Apart from the preventable diseases that you might want your kids to get vaccinated against, here is alist of five deadly, if not fatal (all the time) diseases that are eating the society up. And what’s worse, you won’t even know that they are feeding on you, since today.

1. Heart disease and stroke: As ubiquitous as it may sound, it actually is the cause of 31 per cent deaths globally every year. Heart disease clubbed with stroke (referred to as cardiovascular diseases) claims one in every four lives in India. Premature heart attacks happen due to less physical exercise, changing diets, obesity, and usage of tobacco products. According to a report by the World Health Organisation, 80 per cent of these cardiovascular diseases can be prevented by controlling risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, weight and high blood sugar (diabetes).

2. Respiratory Diseases: Approximately 8 per cent deaths are caused in India due to respiratory diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, pulmonary hypertension, intestinal lung diseases, and occupational lung diseases. This is caused by smoking tobacco, air pollution, dust, and occupational chemicals. These block the air passages and cause shortness of breath, and if not treated; a prolonged exposure to these irritants can lead to fatal illness. Lung diseases are not reversible with lung transplantation being the only option, but are avoidable by minimising exposure to smoke, dust and chemicals.

3. Cancer: 7,36,000 people have lost their life to cancer only in the year 2016, and this figure surfaces when only a meagre 12.5 per cent people get diagnosed and choosing to get treated. More people are dying of cancer in India as compared to the previous years. While breast cancer takes a major toll on women across the nation, lung cancer kills most men across the globe. Lung cancer is the eighth deadliest cancer. The treatment of cancer is exorbitantly high and cannot be afforded by 60 per cent of the patients. Also, as per statistics, one third of cancer deaths are due to the five behavioural and dietary risks that are common to all lifestyle-related diseases: overweight, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, alcohol use.

4. Perinatal Conditions: More babies die in the womb, at birth or in the first week of life in India than anywhere else in the world. Prematurity and low birth-weight, neonatal infections such as septicaemia, birth asphyxia and birth trauma are the leading causes of perinatal deaths, defined as deaths between 22 completed weeks (154 days) of gestation and seven days after birth, kill 27.7 per 1,000 live births in India compared to the world’s average of 19.2 deaths per 1,000 live births. Monitoring the mother and child’s nutrition and health through all the stages of pregnancy and ensuring the baby is delivered by trained health-workers at a clinic or hospital can help manage complications and bring down perinatal deaths substantially.

5. Type 2 diabetes: Lifestyle choices like lack of exercise, unhealthy meal planning and obesity cause insulin resistance in the body that leads to Type 2 diabetes. The body produces enough insulin to transport the glucose to the cells but unfortunately, the body resists that insulin. This leads to haggardness and fatigue among other symptoms.

TIFF: The starting gate for Oscars

Toronto International Film Festival saw a whopping total of 296 features unspooled this year, with hundreds of film buffs and famous Hollywood moguls sweeping through the already bustling Canadian city.

Some of these films are already being seen as Oscar contenders by prominent film critics. Natalie Portman as Jacqueline Kennedy in Pablo Larraín’s Jackie has won critical acclaim for the Chilean director’s depiction of the days between the assassination of her husband and her orchestration of his elaborate funeral.

Another thematic representation of racism, that manifested in the so-called ‘black films’, raised quite a few eyebrows. Cameron Bailey, the festival’s artistic director, commented, “Could not be addressing race in more different ways, and to put them in a box — as ‘black films’ or whatever — would just be more racism, frankly.” The film that stood out in this category was Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight. The film examines racism in the most poetic way—the life of a young black man growing up in a poor section of Miami dealing with conflicts, both on the inside and the outside. The deeply moving film could outshine others as an Oscar sleeper going all the way as the academy’s less problematic solution to the #OscarsSoWhite problem.

The rather starrier fare came in with Damien Chazelle’s exhilarating bash of a new-style old-school musical, La La Land starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Garth Davis’ feature debut Lion, starring Dev Patel, that presented a vivid portrait of India in this heart-tugger, was plenty chattered about. Films like Arrival and Barry splashed a bit of Hollywood on the streets, in a wild and overwhelming ride. Cinephiles who want a glimpse of an earlier era of international competition, coloured by Cold War politics and cultural differences, should get to TIFF.