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Army to close down its dairies, give 25,000 cows to states, central body

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The Indian army will give away 25,000 cows to state governments and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research as it shuts down 39 military dairies across the country.
The government decided to shut these farms down to free up resources — mostly prime real estate and the revenue spent on them — as part of a major military overhaul that was announced .
Defence minister Arun Jaitley announced that a revamp process has begun and by 2019, more than 57,000 soldiers will be redeployed to combat roles from other positions.
The farms were raised in 1889 and are spread over more than 20,000 acres of prime real estate in cities such as Ambala, Kolkata, Srinagar, Agra, Pathankot, Lucknow, Meerut, Allahabad and Guwahati.
The farms supplied more than 21 crore litres of milk to the army, accounting for 14% of the total requirement.
In all, these dairies employ more than 2,000 people — most of them defence civilians.
Their closure follows recommendations made by an 11-member expert panel, headed by Lieutenant General DB Shekatkar (retd), on enhancing the military’s combat potential and trimming its revenue expenditure.
In line with those recommendations, Jaitley said on Wednesday that “far-reaching” restructuring had started to improve army’s tooth-to-tail ratio – the number of personnel (tail) required to support a combat soldier (tooth). The exercise, he said, would be completed by December 2019. The army consists of around 40,525 officers and 1.15 million other ranks.
The Shekatkar panel made a total of 188 recommendations of which 99 have been approved by the government and 65 are being implemented.
Talking from Pune, Shekatkar hailed the move saying it would beef up the army’s “combat potential, capability and endurance.”
“This is perhaps the first time a committee’s recommendations on military restructuring have been implemented. We made 188 recommendations in March. We hope all the remaining recommendations will also be implemented as they too are very significant.”


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National

Rahul Gandhi did not take stand against corruption when it mattered in Bihar: Nitish

Press Trust of India

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Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar Tuesday attributed his sudden exit from the opposition alliance to Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s “inability” to take a stand on corruption charges against his former deputy and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav.

Kumar, who also heads the JD(U), claimed that his party was instrumental in the Congress getting 40 seats to contest in the 2015 assembly polls.

The chief minister said he had felt let down by Gandhi, then the party’s vice-president, when he “did not come up with even a statement that could have made me have second thoughts (about leaving the alliance)”.

 

Kumar had quit the alliance, comprising the JD(U), the RJD and the Congress, in July 2017 after the CBI lodged an FIR against Yadav on corruption charges and the following strife between him and the RJD.

“It has been always my line that there will be no compromise on crime, corruption and communalism. Their (RJD’s) style of functioning was such that it was becoming increasingly difficult for me to work. There was interference at all levels. Their people would telephone police stations with their own decrees,” Kumar claimed.

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“Rahul Gandhi had famously tore that ordinance. It was the JD(U) which insisted that it (Congress) be given 40 seats and they ended up winning 28. The RJD, despite its old association with it, was never ready to give it that much weightage,” Kumar said.

In 2003, Gandhi had torn an ordinance brought by the Manmohan Singh government with a provision to protect convicted politicians against disqualification.

Stating that he resigned as he had no other choice, Kumar said his resignation was immediately followed by an offer of support from the BJP. “So I took the decision (to join hands with the BJP) in the interests of Bihar,” he said.

“We have our differences on issues like Ayodhya, Article 370 and Uniform Civil Code since the 1990s. My association with the BJP predates the NDA’s formation in 1999. But we have always worked amicably. Even now, we are getting full cooperation from the Narendra Modi government,” he said.

Kumar had snapped ties with the BJP in 2013 following differences over projection of Narendra Modi, the then Gujarat chief minister, as the prime ministerial candidate.

On a query about the RSS, he said, “I may not agree with their thoughts but I cannot help admiring their consistency and commitment towards organisation building, something those adhering to our socialist ideology never excelled at.”

Recalling the stupendous performances by the JD(U)-BJP combine in 2009 Lok Sabha polls and the assembly elections a year later, Kumar said, “Now we have an important leader like Ram Vilas Paswanwith us. So there is no reason why we should not do even better in the upcoming LS polls.”

On the opposition ‘mahagathbandhan’ (grand alliance), which comprises the RJD, the Congress, the RLSP, the HAM and some smaller parties, he said, “Even the term mahagathbandhan that they keep flaunting was given by me. After the exit of JD(U), it is just a gathbandhan (alliance)”.

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KCR’s son meets Jaganmohan Reddy, discusses ‘proposed’ federal front

Agencies

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Hyderabad: Continuing his efforts to forge a non-BJP, non-Congress front ahead of the coming Lok Sabha polls, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) Chief K Chandrasekhar Rao decided to hold talks with YSR Congress to try and rope it into the proposed coalition.

K Chandrasekhar Rao’s son KT Rana Rao met Jaganmohan Reddy in Hyderabad to invite his YSR Congress party to join federal front.

Reddy is the Leader of Opposition in the Andhra Pradesh assembly.

 

These talks are the first direct conversation between the leaders of two parties since KCR floated the idea of a front as an alternation to the BJP and the Congress.

TRS’s chief KCR has already held talks with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Janata Dal (United) leader HD Deve Gowda, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and DMK leader MK Stalin.

KCR winning for a second straight term after his party’s election victory in last month’s state polls, Rao amped up his efforts towards federal front for 2019 polls due in May.

The TRS is likely to discuss with Reddy the possibility of working together in Andhra to defeat a common enemy – Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and his party Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

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Massive protests at Sabarimala after 2 women try to enter shrine

Agencies

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Thiruvananthapuram: Massive protests broke out near the Sabarimala temple in Kerala on Wednesday morning after two women in their 30s tried to trek up to the shrine.

The women were identified as Reshma and Sanila, residents of Kannur, covered almost half of the 5.5 km trek to the shrine but were intercepted by angry devotees. They used started trekking at 5 am to dodge the protesters.

As the situation turned tense, police plead helplessness saying it is beyond their control. Later, women were taken to Pambha, the base camp after they were blocked for two hours.

 

The two women are part of a nine-member group who were on their way to the temple.

Kanaka Durga, along with 40-year-old Bindu Ammini, are the first women below 50 in decades to enter the hilltop shrine. Durga was attacked by her relatives on her return home on Monday.

The Supreme Court in September last year allowed women of all ages to worship at the Sabarimala shrine, overturning a centuries-old ban on women of childbearing age from entering the temple.

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