68% vote in Phase one Gujarat polls-A look at the Highlights of the Day

Hindu Business Line reported that Gujarat saw a 68% voter turnout in the first phase of voting on Saturday, 9 December. 19 districts with 89 assembly seats were part of this phase. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, BJP state chief Jitu Vaghani, former state Congress chief Arjun Modhwadia, OBC leader Alpesh Thokor and SC/ST leader Jignesh Melvani are some big names from today’s list of contested seats.

NDTV stated that there were certain allegations about the use of mobile jammers at the place of voting. This was denied by the Chief Electoral Officer, BB Swain. It was not used due to policy guidelines. 397 candidates are ‘Crorepatis’. Pankaj Patel, the Congress candidate from Daskroi constituency is the richest with worth 231.93 crores declared assets. Molti Ba, 106-year-old citizen who witnessed the Dandi March and Civil Disobedience Movement during India’s freedom struggle, was one among the many voters.

India Today informed that 1,085 villagers of Gajadi, in Morbi district did not vote this time. They were upset about the lack of delivery of poll promises. The village lacks the basics of bijli, sadak and paani (electricity, roads and water). They complained that neither the BJP nor the Congress paid heed to their plea.  Hardik Patel mentioned, “I will join the Congress if it suites the needs of the Patidar community. I feel Rahul Gandhi has matured as a fine politician.”

The second phase is scheduled for 14 December. Results will be announced on 18 December. Gujarat has been the election laboratory for the country. BJP is eyeing to continue its political reign in Gujarat, while Congress sees it as a litmus test and wants to make a comeback.

Sources – India Today, NDTV

Cristiano Ronaldo equals Leo Messi’s record, clinches record 5th Balon Do’r

Real Madrid talisman Cristiano Ronaldo clinched his record 5th Balon D’or on Thursday to equal his rival Lionel Messi’s record. The ceremony, held at the Eiffel Tower, awarded Cristiano his second consecutive Balon D’or. Messi was adjudged the second best, while his ex-Barca team-mate and current Paris St. Germain player Neymar stood third.

Ronaldo’s exploits in the previous year included his club Real Madrid’s record 12th Champions League title, as they became the only club in Champions League era to retain the title; a record 33rd La Liga title and their second FIFA Club World Cup.

On a personal front, Cristiano was the top scorer in the Champions League with 12 goals including the match-winning brace against Juventus in the final. He also netted a match-winning hat-trick as Real Madrid beat Kashima Antlers 4-2 in the FIFA Club World Cup final.

With his 9 goals in 6 games, Ronaldo became the only player in history to have scored in every group stage match of a Champions League season this year. The Portuguese also has a record 114 Champions League goals, a feat that’ll continue for as long as the player retires.

Ockhi drifts away from Gujarat, Surat safe

Over 3,200 people were evacuated from 29 coastal villages in Surat on dangers of wreckage similar to Goa. According to the Meteorological Centre, cyclone Ockhi has started to weaken and may not hit south Gujarat. The deep depression has drifted at 18/kmph in east central Arabian Sea, 240 kms away from Surat. This has caused rainfall and high speed winds across Gujarat and some parts of Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

Officials said that that security forces- NDRF, BSF, Army, Navy, and Coast Guard have been alerted

“It is very likely to move north-northeastwards, weaken further and cross south Gujarat. There is a bright chance the cyclone may not hit south of Gujarat. The system weakened primarily because it’s winter and the sea surface near the coast is colder. The story would have been different if it were the monsoon or pre-monsoon season.” Jayanta Sarkar, director of the MeT office said.

Although the cyclone has become weak, the state administration has been prepared to meet any eventuality.

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani traveled to Surat and took a review meeting of all arrangements to deal with the situation. He reassured via Tweet that everything is under control and they are well prepared to counter any adversities.

Sources- Indian Express, Business Standard

2.5 Lakhs offered for Inter-Caste marriage with Dalits

To promote the social status of Dalits, Centre is encouraging inter-caste marriages. According to the rule, the Dalit brides or bridegrooms of an inter-caste marriage will be rewarded with Rs 2.5 lakh. This new scheme is entitled to all Dalits, as against the earlier system where only couples with an annual income of Rs 5 lakhs and below were applicable. As reported by Indian Express, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment suggests the linking of the ‘Dr Ambedkar Scheme for Social Integration’, to the couple’s Aadhaar numbers and bank account details. This scheme aims to target around 500 marriages a year, though it hasn’t reached even 100 in the past years.

Though the income limit has been scraped off, the scheme demands the marriage to be recorded under the Hindu Marriage Act apart from being the first marriage of both the spouses. The scheme draws inspiration from BR Ambedkar’s views on caste culture and union through exogamy.

As reported by Indian Express, the scheme has failed to perform satisfactorily since its inception. Only five couples were given the sum during 2014-15, and in 2015-16, only 72 couples among 522 applications were accepted. While in 2016 – 17, as low as 45 out of 736 couples were approved. And as of this year, the ministry has received the proposal of 409 couples, but only 74 have been cleared. The target for each state differs depending on their overall share of Scheduled Caste population. Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan submit the maximum proposals.

Sources- Indian Express, Firstpost

Google vs Amazon: Youtube to be banned from Fire TV and Echo Show

In an escalating spat, Google has decided to terminate YouTube services from Amazon’s Fire TV and Echo Show devices. This decision was taken in the light of Amazon’s refusal to sell some Google products that would serve as a competition to Amazon gadgets. These products included Chromecast, Google’s streaming device seen as an alternative to Fire TV, and Home, an internet- connected speaker which attempts to compete with Amazon’s market-leading Echo .

In a statement given by Google on December 5, it said, “Given this lack of reciprocity, we are no longer supporting YouTube on Echo Show and Fire TV.’’ However, Amazon didn’t instantaneously respond to a request for comment.

Google hopes to pressurise Amazon into selling its products by denying access to the world’s  most extensively viewed video service. YouTube will be taken off  Fire TV on January 1, 2018, unless the two companies agree upon a truce.

YouTube was to be withdrawn from the Echo Show, although Amazon has in the past found methods to formulate unauthorised versions of YouTube available on its device.

Clashes between Google and Amazon have been persistent since the past few years. An initial sign was Amazon redesigning Google’s Android mobile software for its Kindle tablets. Two years ago, Amazon ousted Chromecast from its store, although the device had formerly been its top-selling gadget.

Apart from abjuring Chromecast and the Home speaker from appearing on its store, Amazon has declined to sell an internet-connected thermostat made by Nest, owned by Google parent Alphabet Inc. Amazon also doesn’t permit its Prime video streaming service on Chromecast, an elision that Google seeks to modify.

This spat reflects the contentions that occasionally stir between pay-TV providers and TV networks during re-negotiation of deals. Here, the two aren’t quarrelling over licensing fees. Instead, they are struggling to position their gadgets and digital services into our daily lives as internet-connected appliances become deeply embedded.


Bloomberg , The Indian Express

Trump’s Travel Ban in Full Effect After Being Approved by the US Supreme Court

The US Supreme Court, on Monday, has allowed US President Donald Trump’s travel ban to be enforced by his administration despite the numerous appeals and legal challenges it faced. The ban on travel of residents from six mainly Muslim countries and two others can be instantly inflicted while challenges of the ban are settled in multiple court cases.

The Justices at the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of the travel ban with merely two dissenting votes. The final tally of 7-2 has come as a major blow to anti-discrimination activists and supporters who expected the final resolution to be announced after months of contemplation. The ruling would uphold the latest version of the entry visa ban affecting prospective travelers from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen along with residents of North Korea and Venezuela, that Donald Trump announced in September.

According to The Guardian, travelers from these countries would be allowed passage into the US if they possessed “bona fide” links within the United States such as reported business intentions; or immediate family relationships. The ruling, however, does not constitutionalize the ban but recognizes its merits and importance as put forward by Trump’s administration. The Supreme Court is expected to conduct a full review into the merits and demerits of the ban – whether it infringes any constitutional protections against discrimination -in the next few months.

The Times Of India stated that 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals based in San Francisco and the Richmond, Virginia-4th US Circuit Court of Appeals, will be conducting sessions with arguments regarding the nature of the ban and its legality this week. The Supreme Court expects the courts to reach an appropriate conclusive pronouncement as soon as possible as its ability to hear and rule on this issue by the end of June relies on their decision.

Yemen’s former President killed after breaking away from the Houthi group

Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s death was confirmed on December 4, 2017, by both his own political party, the General People’s Congress (GPC) and by the Houthis.
It is suspected that he was killed by Houthi rebels near the capital city of Sanaa. Yasser al-Awadi, GPC’s assistant secretary general and Hussein al-Hamidi, Saleh’s security detail, also had to face the same fate as him.
Saleh’s death was first declared by the Houthi group controlled Sanaa based interior ministry on Monday, December 3, 2017.
As reported by Aljazeera, a statement read out on a Houthi television network told that “This (the killing) is after he (Saleh) and his men blockaded the roads and killed civilians in a clear collaboration with enemy countries.”
Saleh’s murder by the Houthi group was proved since he was killed two days after he publicly broke off ties with them. Former President’s murder is going to have a huge entailment in the ongoing Yemen war. Thus, amid an intense battle in Saudi Arabia’s poorest country, this loss is indeed a major setback.