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Delhi records 10 degrees as minimum temp, AQI poor

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New Delhi, March 9 (IANS) The national capital on Saturday recorded a minimum temperature at 10 degrees Celsius, four notches below the seasonal average, the India Meteorological (IMD) Department said.

The IMD predicted that the maximum temperature on Saturday is likely to hover around 27 degrees.

The weather department said that there will be “strong surface winds” during the day.

Meanwhile, the overall air quality AQI across the city fell under the ‘poor’ levels on Saturday.

In the Anand Vihar area, at 8 a.m., PM 2.5 levels were recorded to be in the ‘ poor’ category standing at 300 and PM 10 reached 259, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

The Air Quality Index (AQI) between zero and 50 is considered ‘good’; 51 and 100 ‘satisfactory’; 101 and 200 ‘moderate’; 201 and 300 ‘poor’; 301 and 400 ‘very poor’; and 401 and 500 ‘severe’.

Dwarka Sector 8 witnessed PM 2.5 levels at 346, and PM 10 was at 318, both in ‘very poor’ levels.

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–IANS

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Local issues, not national, dominated campaigning for 42 LS seats in Bengal

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Kolkata, May 30 (IANS) With campaigning in the last and seventh phase of polls for nine Lok Sabha constituencies set to end within a few hours, a quick look back shows that local issues took precedence over national matters during the campaigns for the 42 seats in West Bengal.

Although the electorate is voting to elect the government at the Centre, the focus of all political parties in the fray is still on state-centric issues and how the results of the Lok Sabha polls in Bengal will determine the longevity of the ruling government in the state, which is officially scheduled to continue till 2026.

For instance, the BJP has focussed on issues like corruption cases against the state government and Trinamool Congress leaders, charges of sexual harassment of women at Sandeshkhali and misuse of funds released under centrally-sponsored projects.

Interestingly, this line of campaigning has not just been followed by prominent BJP leaders in the state like President Sukanta Majumdar or the Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari, but even by the party’s national leadership.

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The campaign speeches of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah were full of references of state-specific issues.

Although both PM Modi and HM Shah touched upon national issues like India’s social and economic progress in the last 10 years, the time allotted for the same was too less compared to the references to state-specific issues.

For instance, in the campaigns for the last two phases, PM Modi focussed on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s observations, accusing a section of the monks of Bharat Sevashram Sangha, Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission and ISKCON of acting on behalf of the BJP.

On the other hand, Trinamool Congress leaders, especially Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the party’s General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee devoted most of the time in either defending the allegations made by the BJP or in explaining how the saffron party has deprived the state government of its legitimate dues under different centrally-sponsored schemes.

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In addition, both leaders have dedicated much time on how the NRC, CAA and UCC will be against the interest of the Muslim community and how determined the Trinamool Congress is to block these in West Bengal.

Similarly, in the campaign meetings for the last two phases, CM Banerjee has devoted substantial time in explaining that her comments on the iconic religious institutions were being misinterpreted and she had never been against such entities.

However, one interesting similarity in the campaigns of the BJP and the Trinamool Congress has been their take on the CPI(M) and the Congress.

Both BJP and Trinamool Congress have accused the CPI(M) and the Congress of having a covert understanding with their political rival in the state.

This slur war was kicked off by CM Banerjee when she started describing CPI(M) and the West Bengal unit of the Congress as clandestine partners of the BJP in the state.

Soon the BJP leadership, including PM Modi launched a counter-campaign describing CPI(M) and Trinamool Congress as “enemies in Bengal but partners in Delhi.”

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Surprisingly, even the Congress-Left Front alliance in West Bengal has focussed on state- specific issues while campaigning.

The alliance leaders have mainly talked about three issues, namely cases of corruption, clandestine understanding between BJP and Trinamool Congress and attempts to polarise voters in the state on religious lines by the BJP and Trinamool Congress.

An interesting factor in the Trinamool Congress’ campaign for these General Elections has been the constantly-shifting stand of CM Banerjee on the INDIA bloc.

After claiming that the INDIA bloc will end the tally with over 300 seats, with the BJP stopping at a little over 200, the CM said that she would give outside support to any probable Union government formed by the Opposition alliance.

Within days she shifted her stand and claimed that she is very much a part of the INDIA bloc and will take the lead role in any probable Opposition-led government at the Centre.

–IANS

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Now, a 3-day 'Dharavi Premier League' cricket tourney to kickstart on May 31

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Mumbai, May 30 (IANS) The Dharavi Redevelopment Project Pvt Ltd (DRPPL), a joint venture of Maharashtra Government and Adani Group, will unveil the first three-day cricket tournament, Dharavi Premier League (DPL) to salute the spirit of over one million souls residing in Asia’s largest informal settlement, as per an official statement here on Thursday.

The tourney will be divided into six phases, with the first featuring 14 teams and over 200 players from Sector 1 of Dharavi, which is the largest geographically and population-wise, covering areas of Matunga Labour Camp, Shahu Nagar, Sat Chawl, Valmiki Nagar and Kamala Nagar.

The matches will be played in a 10-over format on a knockout basis at the RPF Grounds in Dharavi under floodlights and shall be governed by the ICC rulebook for T20 cricket, including a third umpire and an equal number of referrals available to both competing teams, on the lines of the professional matches.

The 14 teams from Sector 1 are: Thunder Boltz, Strikers, Valmiki Giants, Team Spirit, Vicky Panthers, Matunga Warriors, Young Boyz, Shahunagar Singhams, Hibah Ke Fighters, Meghdoot Blasters, Ashtavinayak Squad, Morya Boyz, Samrat and Lions Cricket Club.

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The match, with replays, including decisions referred to the third umpire, will be broadcast live on big LED screens and on DPL’s YouTube handle @dharavipremierleague.

The DPL is being organised by the people of Dharavi, who will also provide in-match entertainment, music and food.

Apart from the players, the match referees, umpires, and groundsmen are all residents of Dharavi.

There will be cash prizes for the lucky winners and runners-up, and categories like the man of the match and the player of the series, besides spot prizes for the viewers who come to cheer their favourite teams.

–IANS

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Minister admits NCP MLA rooted for reinstating tainted doctor as Sassoon Hospital MS

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Pune, May 30 (IANS) Maharashtra Medical Education Minister Hasan Mushrif has admitted that a ruling MahaYuti ally Nationalist Congress Party had recommended the reinstatement of the tainted medico, Ajay Taware – now arrested and suspended – to the coveted post of Medical Superintendent (MS) in Sassoon General Hospital, here on Thursday.

The recommendation was made by MLA Sunil Tingre, and a letter purportedly penned by him had gone viral on social media last week, though the legislator had vehemently denied the development.

Mushrif said that Tingre had written the recommendation letter around December 2023 which he (as Minister) had endorsed for further action to the concerned hospital authorities.

When questioned over this, Mushrif pointed a finger at the hospital Dean Vinayak Kale – currently sent on compulsory leave – asking why he failed to oppose the name of Taware.

“If he (Kale) did not consider Taware to be a suitable candidate for the MS post, then why did he not clearly inform the government about it,” Mushrif shot back, as fresh developments continued to crop up almost daily since the May 19 Porsche crash.

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On May 29, Kale hinted at the involvement of the legislator and the minister in the return of Taware as the MS despite his questionable professional record at the hospital.

Incidentally, Tingre is under a cloud for attempting to use his political clout and misguide the police investigations, and the Opposition parties have questioned whether the legislator’s son was also in the Porsche along with the builder’s minor son.

Targetting the government, Congress’ Leader of Opposition (Assembly) Vijay Wadettiwar has alleged that a “top person” in the regime was reportedly shielding the officials and the murky goings-on at the Sassoon General Hospital and would reveal the names later.

As the Sassoon General Hospital is caught in the eye of the Porsche crash storm, the axe is falling on several officials with the Dean eased out on compulsory leave and replaced by Chandrakant Mhaske.

Two senior medicos Ajay Taware and Shrihar Halnor plus a peon Atul Ghatkamble were arrested and suspended, and they shall be produced before a Pune Court later in the day for extension of their custody.

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The police have also questioned over two dozen other staffers of the hospital including medicos, nurses, administrative and medical employees for the probe.

–IANS

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Outlook for Indian economy bright, 7 pc growth likely in 2024-25: RBI

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Mumbai, May 30 (IANS) The outlook for the Indian economy remains bright with the GDP growth likely to be at a robust 7 per cent in 2024-25, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said in its annual report released on Thursday.

Against the backdrop of subdued global economic activity and multiple headwinds, the Indian economy expanded at a robust pace in 2023-24, with real GDP growth accelerating to 7.6 per cent from 7.0 per cent in the previous year – the third successive year of 7 per cent or above growth, the report pointed out.

The sustained strengthening of macroeconomic fundamentals, robust financial and corporate sectors and a resilient external sector are expected to drive growth in 2024-25, the report stated.

The government’s continued thrust on capex while pursuing fiscal consolidation, and consumer and business optimism augur well for investment and consumption demand, it added.

According to the report, the prospects for agriculture and rural activity appear favourable due to the ebbing El Nino and the expected above-normal southwest monsoon.

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The extension of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) scheme for a period of five more years with effect from January 1, 2024 will strengthen national food security.

The government’s focus on AatmaNirbhar Oilseeds Abhiyan, the expansion of environmentally sustainable nano diammonium phosphate (DAP) in all agro-climatic zones and the promotion of bioeconomy through a new bio-manufacturing and bio-foundry scheme in the interim Union Budget 2024-25 would also support the agriculture sector.

The Union government’s impetus to growth-inducing capital spending is likely to be sustained in 2024-25 with more than half of borrowings directed towards financing of capital outlay.

The central government extended the financial assistance scheme for states’ capital expenditure to 2024-25 with an outlay of Rs 1.3 lakh crore. The budgeted reduction in gross market borrowings from 5.3 per cent of GDP in 2023-24 (RE) to 4.3 per cent of GDP in 2024-25 (BE) will enhance the flow of funds to the private sector and support private investment.

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The fiscal outlook for states remains favourable, with adequate fiscal room to pursue increased capital expenditure. The digitalisation of the tax system has enhanced tax collections, with the Centre’s direct tax revenues budgeted to reach 6.7 per cent of GDP in 2024-25, the highest in three decades, it adds.

–IANS

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Ahead of PM Modi's Kanyakumari trip, his 33-year-old picture from Rock Memorial surfaces

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New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to mark the end of a hectic poll campaign and head to Kanyakumari on Thursday, for a two-day meditation at the iconic Vivekananda Rock Memorial.

Ahead of PM Modi’s visit to down south, his 33-year-old pictures from the iconic spot surfaced on social media on Thursday and took the netizens by storm.

The pictures dated December 11, 1991, are from Ekta Yatra that commenced from the iconic Vivekananda Rock Memorial in Kanyakumari and ended in Kashmir. In the viral pictures, all the ‘Ekta Yatris’ including Narendra Modi and party veteran Dr Murli Manohar Joshi can be seen circumambulating the statue of Swami Vivekananda to pay their respects.

Notably, the Ekta Yatra, also termed as the Unity March was launched in December 1991 from Kanyakumari and culminated on January 26, 1992, with the hoisting of the national flag in Srinagar.

The Ekta Yatra was led by veteran BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi while Narendra Modi, then a BJP worker, served as a key pivot in organising the march.

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The goal of the Yatra was to send a strong message to the world that India would stand firm and united against the forces of terror. The journey spanning 14 states resonated deeply with the people and showed the country’s unwavering commitment to national unity.

Starting from May 30-June 1, PM Modi is set to undertake 48-hour meditation at Dhyan Mandapam, the spot where Swami Vivekananda meditated in 1892. The Rock Memorial monument was built to pay tribute to the Hindu philosopher-saint.

It is said that Swami Vivekananda after wandering across the country meditated here for three days and attained a vision for a developed India.

PM Modi had undertaken a similar spiritual journey after the culmination of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. His visit to Uttarakhand after the high-octane campaign and meditation inside a cave near the Kedarnath shrine drew global headlines.

–IANS

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