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Telangana's new emblem to reflect statehood movement

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Hyderabad, May 27 (IANS) A decade after its formation, Telangana will have a new official emblem reflecting the statehood movement.

The new emblem will replace the one adopted in 2014 when Telangana came into being as the 29th state.

The new emblem will be unveiled on 10th state formation day celebrations on June 2.

The Congress government, which came to power in December 2023, decided to replace the existing emblem which depicts Kakatiya Kala Thoranam and Charminar, the symbols of Kakatiya and Qutb Shahi dynasties.

Chief Minister A. Revanth Reddy decided to change the emblem as he believes that the existing one symbolises the aristocracy and dictatorship of past rulers.

As part of this exercise, he had a meeting with noted artist Rudra Rajesham, who presented 12 draft designs.

During the meeting held on Monday, the Chief Minister reportedly suggested a few more changes to the emblem design.

Revanth Reddy wants a design which reflects the Telangana movement and the sacrifice of martyrs.

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Change of emblem was one of the key decisions taken by the Congress government, reversing the decisions of the previous BRS government.

It replaced ‘TS’ with ‘TG’ as the state abbreviation. The earlier BRS government had adopted ‘TS’ as the abbreviation.

The new government also decided to change Telangana Talli statue to reflect the sentiments of the Telangana people.

The government also adopted Ande Sri’s ‘Jaya Jaya He Telangana’ as the state anthem.

Revanth Reddy has roped in Oscar-winning music composer M.M. Keeravani to compose music for the state song which will be unveiled on June 2.

The Chief Minister had a meeting with Keeravani and Ande Sri on Sunday and suggested a few changes to the anthem.

–IANS

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Govt cancels UGC-NET held on June 18, orders CBI probe

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New Delhi, June 19 (IANS) The Ministry of Education said on Wednesday cancelled the UGC-NET 2024 (University Grants Commission-National Eligibility Test) held on Tuesday in different cities of the country after inputs suggested that the process of “the conduct of examination may have been compromised”, adding that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been tasked to probe the matter.

The UGC-NET on June 18 was conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA) in two shifts.

In a statement, the Ministry of Education said that the UGC received certain inputs from the National Cyber Crime Threat Analytics Unit of the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) under the Ministry of Home Affairs on the examination, with prima-facie indication that the integrity of the aforesaid test may have been compromised.

“To ensure the highest level of transparency and sanctity in the examination process, the Ministry of Education has decided that the UGC-NET 2024 be cancelled. A fresh examination shall be conducted, for which information shall be shared separately. Simultaneously, the matter is being handed over to the CBI for a thorough investigation,” the statement read.

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Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education also said on Wednesday night that in the matter pertaining to the NEET-UG 2024, the issue related to grace marks has already been addressed.

As regards certain irregularities alleged in the conduct of the examination in Patna, a detailed report has been sought from the Economic Offences Unit of Bihar Police.

“The government will take further action on receipt of this report. The government is committed to ensuring the sanctity of examinations and protecting the interests of the students. It is reiterated that any individual/organisation found involved in this matter will face the strictest action,” the statement read.

–IANS

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ED acts against illegal remittances; int'l hawala syndicate aide held

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New Delhi, June 19 (IANS) The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has apprehended an aide of an international hawala syndicate with purported dealings in cryptocurrencies under the charges of money laundering, an official said.

The ED clampdown on illegal foreign remittances came after inputs revealed that remittances to foreign locations were being made on the pretext of bogus transactions.

The suspect identified as Manideep Mago was arrested by the investigative agency on Tuesday and has been remanded to 5-day ED custody.

The ED also carried out searches on the residence of the suspect and also his company Birfa IT services, last week.

The firm sold cryptocurrencies valued at more than Rs 1,858 crore to crypto exchanges, the agency found in its investigation.

It also found that another tranche of Rs 3,500 (foreign remittances) was executed by the company and its related entities.

The ED in its investigation found that the hawala syndicate agent was collecting cash from importers and exporters and then remitting the same to foreign countries using fake invoices.

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According to the ED, the well-connected hawala syndicate employed various means for remittances.

It found that foreign outward remittances worth more than Rs 3,500 crore were sent to Canada and Hong Kong by raising bogus invoices for ‘online lease of GPU servers for crypto mining’, educational softwares, lease of bare metal servers, etc.

The syndicate is also understood to have invested in illegal ‘crypto mining’ and arbitrage trading.

The ED has also found evidence of involvement of Chartered Accountants and few bank officials.

Bogus invoices were generated and forged invoices in the name of 70,000 random names were entered into the tally database to justify the deposit of cash.

A complaint was made to the Crime Branch, Delhi Police sharing the findings unearthed during search operations conducted by the ED.

Following this, the Crime Branch registered FIR against the syndicate members, pursuant to which an ECIR was recorded by the ED for investigating the case under the provisions of the PMLA.

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–IANS

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IANS Analysis: China's powerplay on food

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New Delhi, June 19 (IANS) The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the largest specialized agency of the United Nations focusing on agriculture, food security, and nutrition policies worldwide, is composed of 194 member countries. However, controversy has surrounded the FAO since the election and subsequent re-election of Qu Dongyu from China as Director-General in 2019.

Recently, in a documentary, a former FAO insider alleged that Chinese officials within the organisation are influencing it for geopolitical objectives, aiding the Chinese government’s strategic goals through institutional means.

Qu Dongyu’s election in 2019 was marred by controversy. Prior to his candidacy at the FAO, Dongyu served as Vice Minister of Agricultural and Rural Affairs in China. His election saw significant diplomatic efforts from China to secure his victory.

Reports indicated that developing countries faced pressure from China to disclose their voting intentions. Dongyu won decisively with 108 out of 191 votes but his victory was met with allegations that China had orchestrated it.

One accusation suggested China forgave a large African debt, prompting the country to withdraw its FAO candidate. Additionally, China allegedly threatened smaller developing nations burdened with Chinese debt with economic repercussions if they did not support Dongyu.

Following the 2019 election, the FAO underwent significant restructuring and saw an increase in Chinese nationals appointed as directors within its central departments, rising from two to six under Qu Dongyu’s leadership.

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These officials are believed to report their activities at the FAO to the Chinese Embassy in Rome, where the FAO is headquartered.

Paid by the Chinese government, they are expected to promote Chinese political ideology on international platforms.

Notably, one Chinese national assumed directorial responsibility for the department overseeing crop production and pesticide management.

Under Dongyu’s tenure, a controversial shift occurred as the FAO formed a partnership with pesticide companies, contradicting its efforts to minimise pesticide dependency as a last resort.

In October 2020, the FAO signed a strategic agreement with Crop Life International (CLI), a trade association advocating agricultural technologies including pesticides, despite CLI companies reportedly deriving a significant portion of their sales from highly hazardous pesticides linked to environmental damage and farmer poisoning.

The partnership sparked strong backlash from environmental activists, with 352 civil society organisations and indigenous groups from 63 countries voicing concerns to FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu.

Similar objections were echoed by scientists, researchers, and academics. However, Dongyu did not directly address these major concerns, prompting continued appeals from a global coalition advocating for environmental justice to urge the FAO to terminate its alliance with CLI.

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The FAO’s collaboration with pesticide companies and its authorization of pesticide shipments since 2020 were highlighted in an internal document.

It revealed the distribution of numerous hazardous pesticides to Asian and African countries, which are banned in Western nations due to their high toxicity levels.

Since late 2019, over 95.8 per cent of the pesticides approved and delivered by the FAO to East African countries have been scientifically proven to cause serious harm to human health and ecosystems.

Half of these pesticides, authorized for managing locust plagues as emergencies, contain chlorpyrifos, a chemical known to cause brain damage in children and fetuses, and banned in the EU.

These revelations have raised ethical concerns about the FAO’s management practices and China’s increasing influence within the organization. Questions regarding the specificity of pesticide approvals remain unanswered by the FAO.

FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu faced additional criticism from Western countries for suspending the UN’s Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) from conducting an independent review of his leadership until after the next FAO election held in July 2023.

Dongyu’s alignment with Chinese foreign policy in responding to the global food crisis exacerbated by the Ukraine conflict was also condemned by the West, further undermining the FAO’s effectiveness and credibility.

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China’s interest in leveraging the FAO’s influence in global food dynamics stems from its status as the world’s largest agricultural sector.

Beijing sees control over the FAO as crucial for asserting dominance globally, particularly in culturally aligned regions of the global south and to advance its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The FAO Director-General’s initiatives like the Hand-in-Hand (HiH) Initiative and South-South Cooperation are seen as serving China’s foreign policy goals.

In 2021, a EU delegate expressed concerns that the HiH Initiative could be monitoring social unrest worldwide, but requests for clarification from the FAO were denied.

The FAO’s lack of accountability mirrors the autocratic tendencies of the Chinese government, which is alarming.

Furthermore, the FAO is accused of obstructing the publication of leaked documents unfavourable to Chinese interests in the global market.

Under Qu Dongyu’s leadership and amid increasing Chinese influence, the FAO appears aligned with Beijing’s national interests, prompting calls from the international community for greater transparency and ethical governance in global agricultural policies.

–IANS

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Cabinet clears Rs 2,254.43 crore outlay for Forensic Infrastructure Scheme

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New Delhi, June 19 (IANS) The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday approved a proposal of the Ministry of Home Affairs for the National Forensic Infrastructure Enhancement Scheme (NFIES) with a total financial outlay of Rs 2,254.43 crore during the period from 2024-25 to 2028-29, an official statement issued after the Cabinet meeting said on Wednesday.

The financial outlay of the Central sector scheme will be provisioned by the Ministry of Home Affairs from its budget, the statement said.

The components under this scheme are:

* Establishment of campuses of the National Forensic Sciences University (NFSU) in the country

* Establishment of Central Forensic Science Laboratories in the country

* Enhancement of the existing infrastructure of the Delhi Campus of NFSU

“The Government of India is committed to putting in place an effective and efficient criminal justice system, based on scientific and timely forensic examination of evidence. The scheme underscores the importance of high quality, trained forensic professionals in the timely and scientific examination of evidence for an efficient criminal justice process, leveraging the advancements in technology & evolving manifestations and methods of crime,” the statement said.

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With the enactment of the new criminal laws which mandate forensic investigation for offences involving punishment of seven years or more, a significant increase in the workload of forensic science laboratories is expected. Further, there is a significant shortage of trained forensic manpower in the forensic science laboratories in the country.

The establishment of additional off-campuses of the National Forensic Sciences University (NFSU) and the new Central Forensic Science Laboratories (CFSLs) would address the shortage of trained forensic manpower, alleviate the caseload/pendency of forensic laboratories, and align with the Government of India’s goal of securing a high conviction rate of more than 90 per cent, the statement added.

–IANS

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INDIA bloc leaders urge Manipur govt to restore peace, normalcy in state at the earliest

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Imphal, June 19 (IANS) The Congress-led INDIA bloc, comprising 10 parties, on Wednesday, urged the Manipur government to restore peace and normalcy in the state at the earliest.

An INDIA bloc delegation, led by former Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, separately met Governor Anusuiya Uikey and Chief Minister N. Biren Singh and demanded an early amicable solution to the ethnic crisis.

A Raj Bhavan statement said that Ibobi Singh, while expressing disappointment and unhappiness with the protracted conflict, which has been going on since May 3 last year, said Jiribam district has become the new hotspot of violence and its residents have fled their homes and have been taking shelter in various relief camps.

“Expressing concerns over the incidents, Singh urged the Governor to ensure adequate state security forces in the Jiribam district. Other leaders of the delegation drew the attention of the Governor for ensuring free flow vehicular movement so that essential commodities including petroleum products are made available as usual,” an INDIA bloc statement said.

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The INDIA bloc delegation also urged that the Centre and the state governments should take necessary actions to restore peace and normalcy in the state.

The Governor told the delegation that all efforts have been made to ensure peace and security in the state and to bring a lasting solution to the crisis. She said that she had apprised President Droupadi Murmu, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman of the situation in the state and requested them to take immediate steps to stop all forms of violence, to bridge the gap between the two communities, and bring about a long-lasting peace in the state, a Raj Bhavan statement said.

She also said that she had informed the Home Minister about the condition of the displaced people who have been taking shelter in various relief camps, and the Finance Minister about the economic condition in the state and requested financial assistance. The Governor assured the delegation that she would continue her efforts to restore peace and normalcy in the state, the Raj Bhavan statement said.

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Communist Party of India leader M. Nara, who was also in the INDIA bloc delegation, said that they raised similar demands before the Chief Minister.

He told the media that the violence-hit people in Jiribam district were keen to return to their homes if the state government provided adequate security to them.

Meanwhile, with further improvement of the situation in Jiribam district, adjoining southern Assam, the district administration announced a relaxation of the curfew for four and a half hours from 9 a.m. on Thursday too, like Wednesday.

The indefinite curfew was imposed in mixed-population Jiribam district after the killing of 59-year-old farmer Soibam Saratkumar Singh on June 6, leading to around 900 tribals belonging to the Kuki and Hmar communities taking shelter at the homes of relatives and friends in two villages in the Cachar district of southern Assam, while around 1,000 people, mostly belonging to the Meitei community, are now sheltered in seven relief camps in Jiribam.

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–IANS

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