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Sri Lanka’s president reimposes ban on women buying liquor

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Colombo: Sri Lanka’s president reimposed a four-decade-long ban on women buying liquor, just days after his finance minister had lifted the restriction.

Maithripala Sirisena said he had ordered Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera to revoke his decision last week to overturn the 1979 law prohibiting the sale of any type of alcohol to women.

“From tomorrow (Monday), the minister’s order will be rescinded,” Sirisena’s office said in a statement, which added that the status quo will be restored but offered no explanation.

 

The reversal comes after a finance ministry official told AFP Samaraweera had revoked the 39-year-old law in an effort to strike sexist bills from the statute books.

“The idea was to restore gender neutrality,” ministry spokesman Ali Hassen said of the decision Wednesday to roll back the ban.

But last week’s decision to relax laws on alcohol provoked a backlash in some quarters of the majority-Buddhist nation of 21 million people.

The National Movement for Consumer Rights Protection had accused the finance minister of encouraging drinking, and had urged Sirisena to intervene and restore the restrictions.

Under further new measures passed by Samaraweera, bars and pubs can remain open longer, and a ban on women working in bars, distilleries and breweries was lifted.

But Sirisena’s office said he was reducing the time period that bars could be open. It was not clear from Sirisena’s statement on Sunday if the decision to allow women to work in the alcohol industry had also been reversed.

The ban on women buying liquor was likely originally imposed in 1979 to appease the conservative Buddhist hierarchy at the time, a finance ministry official told.

Liquor vendors in Sri Lanka are also forbidden to sell spirits to police or members of the armed forces in uniform.

Samaraweera has said that strict curbs on Sri Lanka’s licensed liquor manufacturers only encourage a black market for spirits, and deprive the state of much-needed revenue.

Sri Lanka in its November budget unveiled steep tax rises on hard liquor, but greatly reduced tariffs on wine and beer.


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Next war with indigenised weapons: Army chief

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New Delhi, Oct 15: Army Chief General Bipin Rawat on Tuesday said the Defence Research and Development Organisation has made strides in ensuring that requirement of the country’s defence services are met through home-grown solutions, adding that the next war will be fought and won through indigenised weapons systems and equipment.

Speaking at the 41st DRDO Directors Conference, Rawat said: “The DRDO has made strides in ensuring that requirements of the services are met through home-grown solutions. We are confident that we will fight and win the next war through indigenised weapons systems and equipment.”

With a network of 52 laboratories, the government agency DRDO is charged with the military’s research and development covering various fields like aeronautics, land combat engineering, armaments, electronics, missiles, and naval systems.

 

The Army chief said that the Defence industry of India is a budding industry and the time has now come to look at the development of systems for future warfare and start preparing for “non-contact warfare.”

Rawat asserted that along with artificial intelligence, the future lies in the development of cyber, space technology, laser, electronic warfare and robotics.

“We are looking at systems for future warfare. We have to start looking at development of cyber, space, laser, electronic and robotic technologies and artificial intelligence,” he said.

The Army chief said that if the timeline between the design development and production of any weapon system of equipment is to be reduced then it would be better to embed the service officers along with Research and Development.

Calling for joint research by Army officials and DRDO, he said: “In a joint project, the success and failures will become a joint responsibility and we will not start pointing fingers at each other.”

On the occasion, Rawat recalled APJ Abdul Kalam on his birth anniversary stating that the late President had set benchmarks and standards for the Defence Research and Development (R and D) community, which is a challenge for scientists who are now emerging.

“I am quite sure the scientists will live up to those expectations,” he said.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Indian Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval were also present at the event. (IANS)

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Major shift in govt’s way of handling ‘terrorism’: IAF chief on Balakot

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New Delhi: The strategic relevance of Balakot air strikes is the resolve of the political leadership to punish the perpetrators of terrorism, Air Chief RKS Bhadauria said on Tuesday.

In his Air Force Day message, the Air Chief said, “The strategic relevance of this (Balakot air strikes) is the resolve of the political leadership to punish the perpetrators of terrorism. There is a major shift in the government’s way of handling militant attacks.”

Stressing that the present security environment in the neighbourhood is a case of serious concern, the Air Chief said Pulwama attack is a stark reminder of the persistent threat to defence installations.

 

Earlier, the Chiefs of three services paid floral tributes at the national war memorial on the occasion of 87th Air Force Day.

“On February 26 this year, the IAF successfully struck camps located at Balakot. On the next day, the IAF successfully thwarted Pakistan Air Force’s attempts to attack our military establishments. In the aerial engagement that followed we shot down a PAF F-16 fighter aircraft and lost a MiG-21,” the IAF chief said in his remarks during Air Force Day press conference on October 4.

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RSS chief says lynching a ‘western construct’ being used to defame India

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Nagpur: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat on Tuesday said lynching is a “western construct” and should not be used in the Indian context to defame the country.

Addressing the Vijayadashmi function of the RSS at Reshimbagh ground in Maharashtra’s Nagpur city, he said the word ‘lynching’ does not originate from Indian ethos but comes from a separate religious text, and such terms should not be imposed on Indians.

He also lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah over the government’s move to abrogate Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, but said some vested interests do not want the country to be strong and vibrant.

 

Voicing his displeasure over several incidents of mob violence in the country, he said, “Lynching is not the word from Indian ethos, its origin is from a story in a separate religious text. We Indians trust in brotherhood. Don’t impose such terms on Indians.”

“Lynching itself is a western construct and one shouldn’t use it in the Indian context to defame the country,” he said.

Bhagwat urged citizens to create harmony, and that everyone should live within confines of law. “Swayamsevaks are brought up with that sanskar,” he said.

He said in the past few years, there has been transformation in “direction of thought process of Bharat”.

“There are many people in the world and in Bharat as well, who don’t want this. A developed Bharat creates fear in the minds of vested interests…such forces will also not want Bharat to be strong and vibrant,” the RSS chief said.

Even well-meaning policies, statements from persons in government and administration were being misused to benefit nefarious designs by vested interests, he rued.

“We must be alert in identifying these plots and counter them on intellectual and social levels,” he said.

Bhagwat said the world was eager to know if the 2019 elections in such a huge country will be conducted smoothly.

“Democracy in India is not something imported from any country, but a practice which has been prevalent here since centuries,” Bhagwat said.

He said India’s borders were now safer than ever, and more focus was needed on coastal security.

“The number of guards and check-posts on land borders and surveillance along the maritime border, especially on islands, have to be increased,” he said.

On concerns over the economic sector, he said the slowing down of world economy has left its impact everywhere.

“The government has taken initiatives to tide over the situation in the last one-and-a-half months. Our society is entrepreneurial and will overcome these challenges,” he added.

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