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First defamation in #Metoo filed

New Delhi (NM Bureau): A day after returning from his official tour from Africa, junior minister M J Akbar filed a defamation suit in the court against allegation of sexual harassment levelled on him as part of the raging #metoo campaign in India against male bosses. 


Hours after return, minister of state for External Affairs, Akbar had termed allegations against him by women journalists as "false, fabricated and deeply distressing.” He followed up his denial by legal suit today. Akbar was a celebrated Editor in India before he joined politics to become a member of the Upper House of Parliament Rajya Sabha and subsequently a minister. 

Akbar Monday filed a private criminal defamation complaint against journalist Priya Ramani who recently sparked the charges of sexual misconduct against him as an editor. Several women journalist came forward after Ramani with their similar experience against Akbar. 

In his criminal defamation suit, the Minister of State for External Affairs of India has accused Ramani of "wilfully, deliberately, intentionally and maliciously" defaming him and has sought her prosecution under the penal provision in India on defamation. 

“The complainant (Akbar) also had a long career in journalism, he launched India's first weekly political news magazine,” the complaint reads quoting against the allegations made by Ramani on social media.

The other women journalists who accused Akbar of sexual harassment, included Priya Ramani, Ghazala Wahab, Shuma Raha, Anju Bharti and Shutapa Paul. Couple of foreign interns who worked with Akbar as their editor have also took to social media to register their complaint.

Whilst it is apparent that the accused has resorted to a series of maliciously serious allegations which she is diabolically and viciously spreading in media, it is also apparent that false narrative against the complainant (Akbar) is being circulated in a motivated manner for the fulfilment of an agenda, the complaint further said.

Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code provides that an accused may be awarded two years jail term or fine or both if convicted. 

Indian journalist have come out in support of Priya Ramani.

In the wake of the #metoo campaign in India in which several media, sports, film and other women personalities have come forward to narrate their stories of sexual harassment, the ministry of Women and Child development of the government of India and the Delhi Commission for Women have set up separate committees to look into the complaints. 




Environment activist dies fasting

New Delhi (NM Bureau): Environment activist on a fast demanding cleaning of Ganga and demanding a ban on hydropower projects on the river died in Haridwar on Wednesday, his close aides informed the media. 87 year old GD Agarwal, popularly known as Gyan Swaroop Sanand, who was on a fast until death for 111 days for Ganga cleaning, was a faculty at Indian Institute of Technology began his fast on June 22 this year. 

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Deceased Seer Gyan Swaroop’s aid Swami Dayanand told media he today that the environment activist suffered a heart-attack at around noon on Wednesday.  Ganga has its origins in the Himalayan ranges and it gets polluted as it travels downwards in the plains of North India with multiple industrialised cities on the banks on Ganga in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar making the Holy river one of the lost polluted one. 

River Ganga is considered a God figure for Hindus and the government of India has many schemes and a dedicated ministry to take care of the river. “If the draft is enacted by parliament, most of the problems of Gangaji would be resolved for a long time. The present government can use their brut majority and whip it. I will break my fast the day it is passed. This is my last responsibility. If they are able to get it passed before the draft passed in the next session, then good. If not… many people die unhappy. It’s time for the future generation to take responsibility for the holy river,” Agarwal had told the Indian newspaper New Indian Express in an interview before his death. 

In his bid to put forth his request for clean Ganga, Agarwal had written a number of letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several ministers who have been in charge of rejuvenating the Ganga river. 

A recent performance audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India had found several deficiencies and shortfalls in the implementation of clean Ganga mission by the Indian government.


Two Men Rape Woman Bathing In Ganga

Patna (NM Bureau): In a reprehensible act of violence against females in India, a 45-year-old woman who was bathing in the holy river of Ganga in Patna Bihar was dragged out and raped by two men on Monday.


The women was bathing in river Ganga as part of a religious fast observed by Hindus. The accused not only assaulted but was also filmed and the video made viral on the social media. Local civil society members are agitated on the fact that the police swung into action only after the video was brought to the notice of the administration.

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Prime Minister Modi receives prestigious UN Environment award

New Delhi (NM Bureau): Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been awarded the United Nations' Champions of the Earth award for the year 2018. The United Nations has recognised Modi with its highest environmental honour in the policy leadership category for his leadership to global solar alliance and the efforts to eliminate all single use plastic in India by 2022. Along with him, President of France Emmanuel Macron has also been awarded in the same category for his work on the Global Pact for the Environment.


"Six of the world’s most outstanding environmental changemakers will be recognized today with a Champions of the Earth Award, the UN’s highest environmental honor," the UN statement released on Wednesday said. 

Cochin International Airport of India was also awarded for its leadership in use of sustainable energy in the category of entrepreneurial vision. The airport, situated in the southern part of India is world's first fully solar-powered airport. "

“Cochin is showing the world that our ever-expanding network of global movement doesn't have to harm the environment," the UN statement said recognising the feat of the airport.

The awards, instituted by the UN Environment is presented during the Champions of the Earth Gala in New York City, on the sidelines of the 73rd UN General Assembly. The Champions of the Earth award is the UN’s highest environmental recognition celebrating exceptional figures from the public and private sectors and from civil society whose actions have had a transformative positive impact on the environment. 




Alvida Atal: India loses a gleaming ratna

New Delhi (NM Bureau): Iconic Indian leader and three time prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee breathed his last on Thursday in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). Vajpayee was known for his cultural moderation, liberalism and political reasonableness. He became the Prime Minister of India thrice. It was during his tenure that India successfully conducted nuclear tests at Pokhran and renewed hopes for peace between India and Pakistan emerged with the start of the New Delhi-Lahore bus service. His government has been till date the only non-Congress government to stay in power for five years. Besides being a seasoned politician and outstanding parliamentarian, Atal Bihari Vajpayee is also a renowned poet and a highly popular personality across the political spectrum.


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The Narendra Modi Government had announced the conferment of Bharat Ratna on former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. His birthday on 25 December has been declared as ‘Good Governance Day’. Famous for his oratorical skills, Vajpayee now leads a retired and reclusive life due to ill-health.


Atal Bihari Vajpayee was born in a middle-class Brahmin family to Krishna Devi and Krishna Bihari Vajpayee on 25 December, 1924 in Gwalior (Madhya Pradesh). His father was a poet and a school teacher. Vajpayee did his schooling from the Saraswati Shishu Mandir, Gwalior. Later, he studied at Victoria College, Gwalior – now Laxmi Bai College, for his graduation. It was at Dayanand Anglo-Vedic College, Kanpur that Vajpayee completed his post-graduation in Political Science.

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Joining as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) worker in 1939, Vajpayee became a pracharak (full-time worker) in 1947. He also worked for Rashtradharma Hindi monthly, Panchjanya Hindi weekly and the dailies Swadesh and Veer Arjun. Vajpayee chose to stay bachelor for whole life.

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Atal Bihari Vajpayee began his career in politics as a freedom fighter. Later he joined the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS), a Hindu right-wing political party, under the leadership of Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee. He became national secretary of BJS in charge of the Northern region.

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As the new leader of BJS, Vajpayee was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1957 from Balrampur. He rose to become the national president of the Jana Sangh in 1968. Supported by his colleagues Nanaji Deshmukh, Balraj Madhok and L K Advani, Vajpayee took the Jana Sangh to greater glory.


Atal Bihari Vajpayee participated in the Total Revolution movement launched by Jayaprakash Narayan (JP) against the Internal Emergency imposed by then prime minister Indira Gandhi in 1975. In 1977, Jana Sangh became a part of the Janata Party, the grand-alliance against the Indira Gandhi government.


Atal Bihari Vajpayee became a Union Minister in 1977 when Morarji Desai-led Janata Party coalition came to power for the first time. He became the Minister of External Affairs. As foreign minister, Vajpayee became the first person to deliver a speech at the United Nations General Assembly in Hindi. His career as a minister was short-lived as he resigned from his post following the resignation of Morarji Desai in 1979. But by then, Vajpayee had established himself as a political leader.


Vajpayee along with Lal Krishna Advani, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and others from the BJS and Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh (RSS) formed the Bharatiya Janata Party in 1980. He became a strong critic of the Congress (I) government that followed the fall of Janata Party government.


Vajpayee did not support Operation Blue Star and raised his voice against the anti-Sikh violence after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984 by two of her Sikh bodyguards.


The BJP won two parliamentary seats in the 1984 elections. Vajpayee functioned as BJP President and Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament. Known for his liberal views, Vajpayee bemoaned the demolition of the Babri Mosque on 6 December, 1992 and declared it as the BJP’s “worst miscalculation”.


Vajpayee was sworn in as the 10th Prime Minister of India following the 1996 General Elections, where the BJP emerged as the single largest party in the Lok Sabha. However, the government collapsed after only 13 days after his government could not gather support from other parties to obtain a majority. He thus became the shortest serving Prime Minister in India.


The BJP-led coalition government came back to power as the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in 1998. Vajpayee was again sworn in as the Prime Minister. Vajpayee’s second term as PM is known for Nuclear tests conducted at Pokhran desert in Rajasthan, in May 1998. Vajpayee also pushed for peace process with Pakistan. He inaugurated the historic Delhi-Lahore bus service in February 1999. He also pitched for resolving the Kashmir dispute and other conflicts with Pakistan. But Pakistan ditched India by launching Kargil War, wherein Pakistani soldiers infiltrated into the Kashmir Valley and captured border hilltops around the town of Kargil.


Indian army units, under Operation Vijay, fought Pakistani intruders braving heavy artillery shelling amidst extremely cold weather, and treacherous hilly terrain, and ultimately emerged victorious. However, Vajpayee’s government lasted 13 months when the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) withdrew its support to the government in mid-1999.


In the following election, however, the NDA came back with full majority and Vajpayee was able to complete five years (1999-2004) in office as a non-Congress PM for the first time. Atal Bihari Vajpayee took oath as Prime Minister of India for the third time on 13 October 1999.


However, his third term also saw India yielding to terrorists when in December 1999, Indian Airlines flight IC 814 from Kathmandu to New Delhi was hijacked and taken to Kandahar, Afghanistan. The government had to release dread terrorists including Maulana Masood Azhar from prison to secure the freedom of passengers. On the brighter side, the Vajpayee government introduced many economic and infrastructural reforms, including encouraging the private sector and foreign investments. It also undertook National Highway Development Projects and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. Vajpayee adopted pro-business, free-market reforms approach to boost India’s economic development.


In March 2000, Vajpayee signed the Historic Vision Document during the visit of the then US President Bill Clinton. The Declaration incorporated several strategic issues, apart from pitching for expansion in trade and economic ties between the two countries. Atal Bihari Vajpayee again tried for peace with Pakistan during the Agra summit with the then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, but the talks failed to achieve any breakthrough as Musharraf declined to leave aside the Kashmir issue. The Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime also witnessed an attack on Indian Parliament on 13 December 2001, when Pakistan-supported terrorists stormed the Parliament building in Delhi. They were ultimately foiled in their attempts by the Indian security forces. Vajpayee as PM was pained when communal riots broke out in Gujarat in 2002 after the Godhra train tragedy.


The 2004 General Election brought about the downfall of the NDA, which lost almost half its seats and the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) assumed the reins of power. Vajpayee refused to take up the position of the Leader of the Opposition paving the way for Lal Krishna Advani’s leadership of BJP. He lived a secluded life in ill health after his political retirement. Vajpayee will always be remembered as a poet and politician who led the country by his grit and determination.