Maneka Gandhi : Cooked meals should replace nutrient packets at anganwadis
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Maneka Gandhi : Cooked meals should replace nutrient packets at anganwadis

Hot-cooked meals served at anganwadis should be replaced with nutrition packets as the food being served at the centres is not calorie-dense, women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi has suggested. Her suggestions come at a time the government is in the final stages of preparing its nutrition guidelines that will lay out the ideal composition for a meal to be served at anganwadis or schools as a midday meal. Maneka's suggestion of giving pre-mix packets (or Ready- to-Use-Therapeutic Foods) has, however, been rejected by a government committee which has prepared the draft nutrition guidelines, sources said. The committee has only recommended ways to improve the quality of hot-cooked meals at anganwadi centres, they said. At a national conference on under-nutrition today, Maneka said that presently supplementary nutrition are given in the form of take-home ration or hot-cooked meals. "I want to bring about a complete change in supplementary nutrition," she said. "We stop thinking of it as giving food...We don't give food anymore...Khaana nahi dena...We give nutrition." The union minister expressed hope that the move will help improve nutritional intake as the food being served at anganwadis "is not calorie-dense". She added there was a need to give a minimum 1,000 calories to a pregnant woman and 600 to a baby. Maneka explained that the pre-mix nutrition (energy- dense, micro-nutrient enriched paste or powder) could be given in a package and delivered to a beneficiary through a postman. The government provides food, preschool education, and primary healthcare under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS). Angnwadi centres are also linked to the ICDS. Undert the scheme, a child between 6 months to 3 years, as well as pregnant and lactating mothers till six months after birth, get take-home ration. Children between 3 years and 6 years get hot-cooked meals. Right to Food campaign activist Dipa Sinha, however, says effecting this change will not be very easy. "Both Supreme Court order and the National Food Security Act say that children between three to six years should be served hot-cooked meals. So the law will have to be amended to implement this." Soumya Swaminathan, Director General, Indian Council for Medical Research, said there is nothing to beat hot-cooked fresh food, but one has to ensure quality and quantity. "The (nutrition) packages are useful in feeding children with acute malnutrition. It should be seen as a therapeutic food and should not replace your normal diet," she told reporters at the event. Earlier this month, the NITI Aayog released the National Nutrition Strategy wherein it has questioned the efficacy of the take-home ration scheme and the quality of food supplements provided under the ICDS. It has said the scheme has been plagued with complaints of leakages, poor quality food supplement. "Pilots may be initiated in a few districts to test the efficacy of implementing the ICDS supplementary nutrition component though cash transfers," it has recommended. Government officials say that a pilot project is now likely to be carried out in selected villages and blocks in 100 districts. The union minister, without referring to the NITI Aayog proposal, said cash transfers "don't make sense". "A direct benefit transfer in the form of money makes no sense because in Rs 180 there is no way a mother can feed herself or feed the baby for more than three days. (Since) we buy at wholesale rates, we are able to collect this amount of food," Gandhi said at the event. She added there was no way of knowing how the money would be utilised.
0 0 29 20 September, 2017 Alternative, Politics more
Railways : Sleeping hours gets cut down for passengers by an hour
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Railways : Sleeping hours gets cut down for passengers by an hour

The Railways is trying to put an end to those tiresome quarrels that break out due to oversleeping passengers on the middle and lower berths by reducing official sleeping hours. According to a circular issued by the railway board, the passengers in the reserved coaches can only sleep between 10 pm and 6 am to allow others to sit on the seats for the rest of the time. Until the circular was issued, the existing permissible time for sleeping was between 9 pm and 6 am. "Sleeping accommodation between 2200 hours and 0600 hours and sitting accommodation for the rest of the period is provided for the passengers in the reserved coaches having sleeping accommodation," said the circular, dated August 31. The circular, however, makes an exception for certain passengers. "Passengers are, however, requested to cooperate with the sick, persons with disability, and pregnant ladies in case they want to sleep beyond permissible limits," it says. The new provision replaces paragraph 652 in the Indian Railways Commercial Manual, Volume I, which provides for sleeping accommodation between 9 pm and 6 am. "We had received feedback from officials regarding issues between passengers over sleeping arrangements. We already have a rule in place. However, we wanted to clarify it and ensure it is followed," said ministry spokesperson Anil Saxena. This provision is applicable to all reserved coaches with sleeping accommodation, he said. Another railway official said the sleeping time was reduced by an hour because there were times when passengers went to sleep as soon as they boarded the train -- day or night -- leaving the co-travellers on the upper and middle berths high and dry. Conversely, officials said problems also arise when passengers on the middle berths refuse to get up so that those on the lower berths could sit comfortably. "It is a regular bone of contention among passengers. Once, there was a passenger on the lower berth who slept all through the journey from Kolkata to Delhi, while the man on the upper berth had to remain there and others on the middle berth sat perched in one corner of the lower berth through the trip." "All through the journey, they kept taking digs at the sleeping man and even poking him. This happens all the time on trains," said Sachin Singh, a businessman, who travels frequently between Delhi and Kolkata for meetings. Officials said that the problem is more acute for side berths. The circular has clarified that a person booked on side upper berth will not have any claim of seat on the lower berth between 10 pm and 6 am. Ministry officials said the new directive will help Travelling Ticket Examiner (TTE) to resolve such disputes on board by preventing anyone from taking catnaps beyond the permissible time.  
0 0 16 19 September, 2017 Alternative, Politics more
Kamal Haasan : Willing to Work With Rajinikanth if He Joins Politics
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Kamal Haasan : Willing to Work With Rajinikanth if He Joins Politics

Veteran actor Kamal Haasan has finally addressed the speculation over him joining politics, saying that if the people give him a strong enough “signal”, he will. Kamal Haasan on Friday also said that if superstar Rajinikanth ever chooses to join politics, he would like to work with him. "Give me a signal.... If Rajinikanth comes to politics we can talk, won't I join him? Though we are rivals in our industry, we consult for key issues," the actor said at an event in Chennai. The 62-year-old actor, popularly called Ulaganayagan (Hero of the World), has been a lot more vocal about his political intentions as compared to rival, Rajinikanth, who has kept his massive fan following guessing for several months. In a recent interview , the actor said he was thinking of launching a political party, out of compulsion and not choice. "Yes, I am thinking on those lines, not out of choice but compulsion. Which existent political party can provide me with a platform or an ideology that will match my reformatory goals in politics?" the actor said. Earlier this week, he had stated that “saffron is not my colour”, clearly indicating that he is not interested in joining the BJP bandwagon, which anyway seems more keen on wooing Rajinikanth. Kamal Haasan has also been critical of the ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu and the opposition DMK, while his recent meeting with Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had triggered speculation of a tilt to the CPI(M). On Thursday, the veteran actor took potshots at the Tamil Nadu MLAs saying that they should also be covered under the "no work, no pay" formula. "No work no pay only for Govt. Employees? How about horse trading politicians languishing in resorts?" the actor tweeted in an apparent reference to the ‘resort’ politics of the AIADMK wherein a section of the MLAs owing allegiance to 'sacked' leader TTV Dinakran were being housed in resorts to prevent “poaching”.
0 0 21 16 September, 2017 Alternative, Politics more
Supreme Court : Nursing homes without ICU can’t perform surgery
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Supreme Court : Nursing homes without ICU can’t perform surgery

The Supreme Court has held that nursing homes without an ICU cannot conduct surgeries. The case was relating to alleged medical negligence as a result of which a man lost his wife. The petitioner Bijoy Kumar Sinha said that due to alleged negligence of the doctor who conducted a hysterectomy surgery, his wife passed away at a nursing home in Kolkata. He also said that the nursing home did not have an ICU facility. The petitioner who fought a long legal battle for 23 years died during the pendency of the case. His son Soumik pursued the case and finally got justice in the Supreme Court. The court noted that the Consumer Protection Act was an additional remedy. Provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, are in addition to and not in derogation of any other law. Thus, the Act provides for additional remedies. The authorities under the Act exercise quasi-judicial powers. The award of damages (in the case filed by Sinha) is aimed at bringing about qualitative change in the attitude of service providers," the court held. The court however absolved the doctor of medical negligence charges, but ordered compensation of Rs 5 lakh to be paid to the petitioner.
0 0 20 08 September, 2017 Politics more
Better keep your ID ready if you want to book air tickets
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Better keep your ID ready if you want to book air tickets

You would soon require a government identification proof like Aadhaar card, PAN card, driving license or passport to book air tickets for domestic flights. The decision to include voter ID in the list might be taken later, according to a report.
The Modi government is slated to take a final call on 'no fly list' on Friday, after which everyone will have to furnish ID proofs while booking tickets for domestic flights.
The no-fly list rule bans people with criminal records and unruly passengers from domestic flights. A person identified as a threat by security agencies would also be included in this list. The concept of no-fly list comes from the United States.
The move to revise the existing rules came in the wake of Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad assaulting an Air India staffer with a slipper for not being able to fly business class in an all-economy flight in March.
Prior to this, J C Diwakar Reddy, an MP from Telugu Desam Party, allegedly assaulted and abused an IndiGo ground staff at Visakhapatnam airport after he was denied boarding for turning up late for his flight.
The reason why the new rules are taking time for implementation is to ensure that anyone barred flying are not able to do so using another alias.
"India is pioneering in having a no-fly list on the basis of safety as other countries have it on security grounds. A DGCA team (led by chief B S Bhullar) recently had discussions with global regulators at a meet in Mongolia. We had received comments on the draft NFL and after much deliberations, the final rules will be issued on Friday," Union minister of state for aviation Jayant Sinha said.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation had in May issued its draft rules for a national no-fly list and invited stakeholders' comments within the next 30 days.
The government had recommended three levels of unruly behaviour, each with a corresponding duration of flying ban of three months, six months and two years or more without limit.
The first level of misdemeanour includes disruptive behaviour such as physical gestures, verbal harassment and unruly behaviour because of inebriation. This level of offence would carry a flying ban of three months.
The second level relates to physically abusive behaviour such as pushing, hitting, grabbing, inappropriate touching or sexual harassment. Such actions could attract a six-month ban.
The third category pertains to life threatening behaviours such as damage to aircraft operating system, physical violence and attempted breach of flight crew compartment. In such instances, the ban could be for two years or an indefinite period.
While the list is characterised as 'national' and would have data on disruptive passengers from all airlines, the ban recommended by the committee is not mandatory for all airlines to follow.
 
0 0 43 07 September, 2017 Business Top, Politics more
Hasmukh Adhia : Do Not Wait Till Last Day To File GST Returns
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Hasmukh Adhia : Do Not Wait Till Last Day To File GST Returns

The government today exhorted businesses not to wait till the last day to file GST returns, saying just over half of registered taxpayers have so far paid taxes and 11 lakh have not yet completed even registration. Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia said the government has been flexible to demands of the industry and it is now the turn of the businesses to do their bit. He said 72.5 lakh people have migrated to the GST regime, but only 44 lakh have so far filed returns. As many as 11 lakh have not yet completed registration on GST Network, he said, warning of penalties for those who are subject to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) but have not registered. "Also, 21 lakh new registrations have happened. So, we can roughly say there is an expansion of tax net by 30 per cent," he said. There are 6 crore private enterprises in the country, which also indicates that there is further scope of widening. Adhia said the government has been accommodative to the demands of the industry and has extended the date for filing initial GST returns form GSTR-3B as well as final returns of GSTR 1, 2 and 3. "We have given long rope to the taxpayers... there was flexibility," he added. The government had earlier this week extended time for businesses to file returns. Now, sales return or GSTR-1 for July will have to be filed by September 10 instead of September 5 earlier and purchase returns or GSTR-2 can be filed by September 25 instead of September 10 earlier. According to Adhia, the deadline was extended as there was a rush of 80,000 returns per hour at the GST Network portal on September 4 and the server gave out error message. "The mentality of people is if we have to do something, we will do it on the last day. If too many people try to file return on the last day, there would be rush. So, the right thing would be to file returns within time... Business should now get ready," he stressed. Adhia also clarified that businesses registered under GST need to file returns even if they have not transacted any business or else, there will be a late filing fee. About TRAN-1 form used by businesses to claim transitional credit, Adhia said the claim amount is "staggering" and the department will have to look into it. "Implementation of GST has been smooth so far... In such a big reform, there will be hiccups. We are passing through the initial period of 6 months, but the issues would be sorted out," the secretary promised.
0 0 30 07 September, 2017 Politics more
From Amma to Indira canteens: Subsidised food card to satisfy the hunger for votes
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From Amma to Indira canteens: Subsidised food card to satisfy the hunger for votes

In an effort to consolidate urban vote base, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah earlier this month opened over 100 Indira canteens in Bengaluru, which would offer subsidised food for the urban poor. The canteens, modelled on the Amma canteen that brought back the late J Jayalalithaa into power in neighbouring Tamil Nadu, offer breakfast at Rs 5 and lunch and dinner at Rs 10, with each outlet to serve around 500 people at a time. The late H N Bahuguna was once asked by one of his close associates what two things he would do if he becomes the Prime Minister. The veteran leader had replied that one thing he would certainly do was to ensure that the price of bread is brought abysmally low so that no one would go to bed hungry.
That was sought to be done in urban Karnataka with the launch of the Indira Canteens in Bengaluru earlier this month with much fanfare by Rahul Gandhi who is seeking to seize the initiative in the poll-bound state to retain power amid times of crisis for the grand old party.
No doubt that it is a desperate measure to attract the urban poor, but it also signals a fight back at a time when Congress has lost from almost all major cities including the four metros in the Narendra Modi surge in the last Lok Sabha elections. Bengaluru was no exception.
Karnataka is the last bastion of the Congress being the single largest state it has in its kitty when its footprint has drastically dwindled and the last victory it witnessed was in Punjab recently after many a defeat in several states since 2014.
The move has also come at a time when the Narendra Modi dispensation is at its zenith with BJP for the first time able to install its men in four top constitutional positions -- the President, the Vice President, the Prime Minister and the Lok Sabha Speaker.
Interestingly, when the chips were down 40 years back Indira Gandhi had started the fight back against the then Janata party government from Karnataka itself. The Chikmaglur Lok Sabha bypoll she contested became historic as she made mincemeat of her detractors by a resounding win. “Ek shernisau languor, ChikmaglurChikmaglur” was the famous slogan then. It projected Indira as the lioness and those opposing her as monkeys. The rest is history. It is said that the pro-poor 20 point programme and the land reforms in the state had done the trick that time.
The fact is that what the Congress is also doing is using the late Prime Minister’s name to connect with the poor knowing full well that Indiraamma has a special place in the hearts of people of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, the two states she had represented in Parliament at different times.
Much before the last Lok Sabha polls when defeat was staring Congress in the face in the wake of a series of scams and scandals in the UPA II,  a political scientist had remarked that there was an urgent need for the ruling party to turn Left and be seen as one which cares for the poor.
That time the National Food Security Act was brought but almost at the fag end of the government term when the narrative had totally changed and the poor generally failed to get the benefit of the ambitious legislation.
Incidently, the late N T Rama Rao was perhaps the first leader in independent India who used rice to telling effect to reach out to the poor. His cheap rice scheme had played a significant role in ending the stranglehold of the Congress on Andhra Pradesh after the TDP founder conceived the idea in 1983. Although NTR lost the 1989 Assembly polls, he came back to power in 1994 when he promised he would offer rice at Rs 2 a kg and clamp total prohibition.
Y S Rajsekhar Reddy had re-introduced the NTR scheme in 2008 to reap rich electoral benefits in the Assembly polls in Andhra Pradesh the following year.
Interestingly, in 2008 the then West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had also played the NTR card by reducing the ration shop prices of rice, pulses and palm oil, a few months after the panchayat and civic poll jolts to the ruling Left Front.
For last 15 years or so, the politics of cheap rice is being played by Odisha’s Naveen Patnaik to keep his hold on power. Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh is known as “chawal wale baba” for his schemes providing cheap rice in the tribal dominated state.
There were reports about a Ram Roti Yojana in urban areas of BJP ruled Madhya Pradesh some 7-8 years ago, but nothing seemed to have happened. There was also a Kamal Roti Yojana, but there was nothing to write home about it.
The Indira canteen scheme could be a copycat attempt to emulate neighbouring Tamil Nadu where the late J Jayalalithaa’s Amma Canteens that have proved a hit among the people as also for the AIADMK electorally.
 
But the good thing is that Congress under Karnataka Chief Minister S Siddharamaiah has shown that it is more than in the game in the face of an aggressive BJP.
Incidentally, the Arvind Kejriwal government two years back had spoken of starting AAP canteens in the national capital, but later nothing happened. With AAP in crisis, Kejriwal could revive the scheme to bring back the old magic.
It is no small consolation that political parties are now gradually realizing that for their own good something needs to be done to fight the growing hunger in the urban jungle in times of jobless growth and growing rich-poor divide. The card of subsidised food is being played to satiate the hunger for votes.
“To a man with an empty stomach food is God”, the Mahatma had famously remarked. The test is not far off.
 
0 0 33 28 August, 2017 Alternative, Politics more
Rs 1,000 notes may make a comeback with better security
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Rs 1,000 notes may make a comeback with better security

The Rs 1,000-denomination note may be making comeback after its legal tender status was withdrawn in the demonetisation measure announced on November 8 last year. The government will soon start printing the new Rs 1,000 notes with enhanced security features as compared to its predecessor.
 
Citing a person close to the development, the report said that work on the design and paper for printing the new Rs 1,000 notes was in full swing and that they could be out and in your wallets as soon as December this year. The person told the news agency that the Mysore and Salboni printing presses were getting ready to print the new currency notes.
 
Why bring back the Rs 1,000 note?
An unnamed banker explained the rationale behind the move, said that the new Rs 1,000 notes were meant to bridge the gap between the current Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes.   The source added that the Rs 2,000 note would continue to exist.
Focus on lower value denominations clear
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) last week launched the bright yellow Rs 200 denomination notes and said it would shortly ramp up the supply of the new currency note across the country.
Long queues of people were witnessed at RBI offices on Friday to get the new Rs 200 currency note that has been introduced for the first time by the central bank.
The RBI has launched the Rs 200 note with an aim to make it easier for the common man to transact in lower denomination currencies.
These notes are available only through "select RBI offices and banks as is normal when a new denomination of notes is introduced and the supply increases gradually," the RBI had said in a release.
The production of these notes is being "ramped up by the currency printing presses, and over time as more notes are printed, it will be distributed across the country through the banking channels and will be available for public in adequate quantity", the release said.
 
0 0 30 28 August, 2017 Alternative, Politics more
Government  deactivates around 81 lakh Aadhaar cards. Click to check if yours is active
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Government deactivates around 81 lakh Aadhaar cards. Click to check if yours is active

The Unique Identification Authority of India has deactivated close to 81 lakh Aadhaar numbers till date, Minister of State for Electronics and IT, P P Chaudhary said Friday last week. "Till date, approximately 81 lakh Aadhaar numbers have been deactivated. The state-, year- and reason-wise data is not maintained by the UIDAI," Chaudhary informed the Rajya Sabha. The Aadhaar numbers were deactivated for a number of reasons which are stated in Section 27 and 28 of Aadhaar (Enrolment and Update) Regulations, 2016. "Prior to enactment of the Aadhaar Act, 2016, the deactivation (suspension) of Aadhaar numbers was done as per the Aadhaar Life Cycle Management (ALCM) guideline," Chaudhary said. He added that regional offices of UIDAI have authority to deactivate the Aadhaar numbers. As per the provisions of Sections 27 and 28, a person's Aadhaar can be cancelled or deactivated if multiple Aadhaars have been issued, or there are discrepancies in the biometric data or supporting documents. It may be noted that children who enroll before the age of 5 years should update their biometrics once after attaining the age of 5 years and then again after turning 15 years of age. There's a window of 2 years to carry out this update and failing to do so could lead to deactivation or cancellation of Aadhaar. Here's how to check the status of your Aadhaar: On the UIDAI website homepage, under the Aadhaar services tab, there's an option saying 'Verify Aadhaar Number'. Click here to go to UIDAI homepage
0 0 50 16 August, 2017 india, Politics more
No One has to Sleep Hungry Anymore ! Rahul Gandhi launches ‘Indira Canteen’ in Bengaluru
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No One has to Sleep Hungry Anymore ! Rahul Gandhi launches ‘Indira Canteen’ in Bengaluru

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi today launched the Karnataka government's subsidised food canteens 'Indira Canteen' here that would provide breakfast at Rs five and lunch and dinner at a cost of Rs 10. Apparently taking the cue from the popular 'Amma canteens' in Tamil Nadu, introduced by former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, the Siddaramaiah government had announced setting up of the canteens in the state budget for 2017-2018. Initially referred to as 'Namma Canteen', the name was later changed to 'Indira Canteen' as Congress legislators sought to give a political touch to the populist announcement ahead of the Assembly polls early next year by naming it after former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. An amount of Rs 100 crore was provided in the budget to set up the canteens in 198 wards of Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). Congratulating the state government for the canteen programme, Gandhi said it is designed to make sure that not a single person in Bengaluru goes hungry. Calling the world an "unfair place", the Congress vice president, who also had a lunch at the canteen, said it is targeted at the working class like construction workers and auto rickshaw drivers. "There are many people in this city who live in huge houses and have plenty of food, who drive in big cars and for them food is not a big issue..but there are millions of people in Bengaluru like construction workers, those who own small shops, autorickshaw or taxi drivers, barbers and people who don't get that much money, and it is those people at whom this Indira Canteen is targeted," he said. "We want the people from poorest and weakest sections in Bengaluru to feel that they will not have to stay hungry in this city. There cannot be a single minute where a poor person in Bengaluru is hungry. We want every single person to know and understand that," he added. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Congress General Secretary in-charge of the state K C Venugopal, the party's state unit chief G Parameshwara and Bengaluru in-charge Minister K J George, among others were present at the event. Taking pride over the Congress government conceptualising such a canteen, Gandhi said the intention was that the quality of food and cleanliness in it be the same as the most expensive restaurants in Bengaluru. "I would like the government to pay special attention to this fact that the canteen should have excellent quality food, excellent hygiene and people walking out of this canteen must feel that they not only had safe food, but tasty food. I think we owe this to every single citizen," he said. He said that the chief minister had informed him about extending the programme to other cities of the state. In the first phase, 101 canteens were launched today and the remaining 97 will start functioning from October 2, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike officials said. Though it was initially proposed to have 198 canteens launched by the Independence Day, the number was later brought down to 125 owing to constrains related in getting land for construction of canteens in all the wards. A total of 27 kitchens will be set up across the city to cater to these canteens, of which 14 are ready and six are currently in working condition.
According to officials, the canteens as of now will serve 500 plates of food, keeping in mind the budgetary allocation, and this is likely to be increased in the future.
Claiming that BBMP had ensured that project take shape to this level within 60 days after getting the order on June 12, officials said construction of canteens is being undertaken by KEF Infra Ltd, while Rewards, and Cheftalk Food and Hospitality Services have given the catering contract for the canteens.
0 0 76 16 August, 2017 Politics, Positive more