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Anna Hazare warns PM of agitation for appointment of Lokpal

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Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare has expressed disappointment over Prime Minister Narendra Modi Government’s failure to implement the Lokpal Act, 2013 and has warned of an agitation in Delhi to press for the implementation of the Act.
In a letter to Modi on August 30, Hazare wrote: “I have never agitated against any particular political party. In the last three years, I waited for you to act and kept reminding you about these issues. But I never received any reply to these letters,” he said.
“Now my next letter would be about the venue and date of agitation,” Hazare said, stating that he has made up his mind about the final step.
The well-known social activist said that the government had completed three years but there appeared to be no willingness to execute the Lokpal Act which is aimed at bringing down corruption.
Hazare in his letter said that the BJP had given its assent to the Lokpal Bill and it was expected that the party would start the implementation of the Act. “The Prime Minister is speaking on various issues in his speeches but has never mentioned anything about the Lokpal Act in his Maan Ki Baat,” the letter states.
Reminding the Prime Minister of his promise to work towards a “corruption-free India”, he listed a number of legislations initiated by the Congress government towards this end — The Prevention of Bribery of Foreign Public Officials and Officials of Public International Organization Bill 2011, Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill 2012, The Prevention of Money Laundering (Amendment) Bill and The Public Procurement Bill 2012.
“All of these legislations will help bring down corruption in India, but the Prime Minister is keeping mum on all these issues. Then how is India going to become corruption-free?” Hazare asked.
Acknowledging that he was still receiving complaints of corruption from all parts of the country, the letter reads: “Corruption has not ended; my conscience tells me to re-launch the agitation.” Hazare said that he will begin consultations with fellow crusaders and citizens in the next few days to plan the date and venue of the agitation.


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Transition of JK and Ladakh to Union territories will be smooth, says Jitendra

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Union minister Jitendra Singh on Wednesday said the transition of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh to Union territories will be smooth and there will be no cadre issues pertaining to IAS or any other services. The mechanism that will finally evolve after due deliberations will be in the best interest of all the stakeholders, the Union Minister of State in-charge of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said, addressing the annual conference of chief secretaries and principal secretaries of all the states and Union territories, organised by his department.

“The transition of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh to Union territories will be smooth and there will be no cadre issues pertaining to IAS or any other services,” Singh said at the conference, which was aimed at deliberating upon the issues relating to personnel management of the All India Services officers. The government had taken several initiatives to provide a conducive working atmosphere to the officers so that they could perform to the best of their potential, the minister said.

Last year, the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 was amended after 30 years to give further protection to honest and performing officers, but at the same time, the government had been very strict in dealing with officials involved in corruption cases or with a record of poor performance, he added.

 

Singh said the nature of the Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence had entirely changed in the recent years. Now, civil servants are being rewarded for implementation of the government’s flagship programmes, with a huge participation of the district collectors.

Referring to the government’s decision to post young IAS officers as assistant secretaries in central ministries in order to provide them exposure as regards the functioning of the government, the minister said this will enable them to familiarise themselves with the Centre’s flagship schemes and implement the same when they go to their respective states.

This may help the newly-appointed IAS officers to have a more balanced perspective before they go to their states, he added. Singh also promised full cooperation and coordination from the Centre to ensure a speedy and transparent administration across the country.

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BR Shetty plans to open 3,000-acre ‘film city’ in Kashmir

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Abu Dhabi-based Indian billionaire BR Shetty plans to open a “film city” in Jammu and Kashmir that will cater to the country’s booming film industry and for curious visitors, the founder and chairman of BRS Group has revealed.

“It’s a very scenic place, and I’m going to have a film city there, so that people can come and shoot films there, and for tourism,” he said in an exclusive interview with Arabian Business. “I’ve already got land offers from Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, about 3,000 acres.”

“I said fine. They are very happy,” Shetty added. “Nobody comes and contributes like this. People say that if GDP comes down, India is going down. But we should always be optimistic.”

 

In August – during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the UAE – Shetty pledged $1 billion to Jammu and Kashmir, as well as an additional $5 million to the New India Development Fund.

The ‘film city’ is only the latest of BR Shetty’s forays into the film business. In late 2017, he announced plans to invest $150 million to produce ‘The Mahabharata, which at the time was described as India’s biggest ever movie.

At the time, it was said that the two-part film is scheduled for release in early 2020, with the second part released within 90 days of the first.

“I am going to invest my own money and dedicate all my strength to make the best film that will make our Indian community proud,” he said in an October 2018 interview with Gulf News.

Additionally, earlier this year Shetty announced plans to invest $5 billion in India’s healthcare sector, with a focus on high-quality, affordable healthcare facilities.

Shetty told Arabian Business that the plans will also include money from private funds linked to the royal families of Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

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Kartarpur corridor to be opened for Indian Sikh pilgrims on Nov 9: Pakistan official

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From November 9, Pakistan will allow Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit the holy Kartarpur Sahib, a senior official heading the much-awaited Kartarpur corridor project announced on September 16.

Project Director Atif Majid made the announcement during the maiden visit of Pakistani and foreign journalists to the proposed Kartarpur corridor in Narowal, some 125 km from Lahore, amidst fresh tension between India and Pakistan after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.

Majid said so far 86 percent of the work on the corridor has been completed and it will be opened to pilgrims on November 9.

 

The corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district of Punjab and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak Dev.

Pakistan is building the corridor from the Indian border to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur while the other part from Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district up to the border will be constructed by India.

Both countries have agreed that Pakistan would allow 5,000 Sikh visitors per day into the country through the corridor, which will also be the first visa-free corridor between the two neighbours since their independence in 1947.

Majid said some 76 immigration counters have been set up to cater to 5,000 Sikh pilgrims from India every day. And for 10,000 pilgrims visiting here daily, 152 immigration counters will be set up. He said that initially 5,000 Sikhs from India will come daily and later the number will rise to 10,000.

Pakistan, however, repeatedly said that the opening of the Kartarpur corridor will not be hit by the current tension with India.

The visiting Indian Sikhs will have to bring their passports with them and they will be issued corridor pass. On return, they will receive their passports from immigration counter after returning the pass.

Airport-like facilities will be provided to the pilgrims who will come here by bus, he said. “Finger prints will be taken of every Indian and Pakistani Sikhs entering the Kartar Sahib,” he said.

The journalists were told that the visiting Sikh pilgrims will be provided free food and medicines by the Pakistan Gurdwara Sikh Parbhandik Committee.

The security of the corridor will be provided by provincial paramilitary forces Punjab Rangers.

During the last round of talks on the Kartarpur corridor held last week, Pakistan showed inflexibility and gave unfavourable responses on issues of charging a service fee, the number of pilgrims to be allowed on special occasions and allowing protocol officials to accompany them.

There were three issues on which the Indian side had asked Pakistan to show some flexibility — their insistence on charging USD 20 per pilgrim, allowing 10,000 pilgrims on special occasions and Indian protocol officer to accompany the delegation that visits Kartarpur everyday.

“We had hoped that all pending issues will be resolved. However we realised that Pakistan was quite inflexible during the talks,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said.

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