07 March 2016 National Happenings

Seven Days

The states of the nation: news, headlines, gossip, rumours, things we learnt
Seven Days
West Bengal
Sudden Waves Of Loyalty

Before elections, the demand for a separate state or Union Territory status for Cooch Behar suddenly gains currency. This time too thousands blocked railway tracks for four days, disrupting trains to the Northeast. Cooch Behar royals merged their estate in 1949 but the Koch-Rajbangshis, who insist on a separate ethnicity, local to Kamtapur (parts of Ba­ngladesh and As­sam), have kept using it as a bargaining chip.

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Not A Model State

Asked what steps are being taken to stop sexual offences against women, the police headquarters came up with a gem. It had observed a women’s empowerment week in August, it replied, and gave figures of offences between 2001 and 2015 which showed a 82% jump. For a CM reeling under the Patidar agitation, the revelation is just fodder for more embarrassment.

Tamil Nadu
Imposing Sanskrit

The move to make Sanskrit mandatory in schools has expect­edly run into opposition in the poll-bound state. The third language, maintain political parties, should be optional, especially since only 14,000 Indians claim to speak Sanskrit. Is the ministry missing an opportunity to make other languages compulsory for a change and ensure that languages like Marathi, Assamese, Urdu or Punjabi are learned too?

On A Wing And A Wallet

Just how much can an air-ticket from Chandigarh to Delhi, 234 km as the crow flies, cost? Last week, as an agitation by Jats demanding reservation blocked road and rail traffic, Indigo airlines “auctioned” tickets. One bidder claimed that he bought his ticket for Rs 58,000. Another, he says, picked it up for Rs 99,000. Civil aviation minister P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju expres­sed helplessness: “This was raised in the Rajya Sabha too and I looked into it myself. It’s a complex issue with no clear-cut solution. If we cap, then the floor price rises. So whether it is Air India or any other airline, it is market forces that are at play. We have to realise that it is dynamic pricing that we are looking at. Airlines across the world follow dynamic pricing.”

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New Delhi
Quota Raj

Extend reservation to the private sector, recommended the National Com­mis- sion for Backward Classes this month. It failed to get much reaction, possibly because the govt is unlikely to accept it. But the commission pointed out that thanks to the state’s policies, there are more jobs in the private sector while those in PSUs are shrinking. But then it has also admitted in the past that despite 27% reservation for OBCs, only 12% of the posts in central government are occupied by OBCs.

Rewarding Violence?

Jat protesters and arsonists killed in police firing, as many as 16 of them, were promised a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each by the BJP government. But the decision was reportedly taken in spite of the majority in the cabinet opposing rewarding the destruction of public property. The CM, an RSS man, was clearly whipped from above.

Not So Much Classified As Cliquey

The Supreme Court missed an opportun­ity to ensure the accountability of intelligence agencies. Ignoring arguments that in several countries intelligence agencies report to the parliament and submit details for audits, the court accepted the government’s plea of not allowing the PIL. Some secrets must remain secret, the court observed. The petition was filed by the activist and ex-AAP man Prashant Bhushan.

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7 Stories We Are Not Covering This Week
  • Ahmedabad
    A khap panchayat near Narendra Modi’s hometown in Suraj village, 100 km from here, banning mobiles for unmarried women
  • Mumbai
    A 78-year-old farmer from Jalna, Narayan Khedke, returning an award for best agro practices to protest the govt’s “insensitive approach” to drought-hit ryots
  • Hyderabad
    CBI registering a case against former CBI chief K. Vijaya Rama Rao’s son, Kalyan, for defaulting on banks loans of Rs 300 crore
  • Bangalore
    Swami Nithyananda, who was embroiled in a sex scandal, saying that soldiers who died in the line of duty were not considered martyrs in the ‘cosmic courtroom’
  • Thiruvananthapuram
    Human Society International (Kerala) offering Rs 1 lakh in reward for information on a man who is alleged to have sexually assaulted a dog
  • Delhi
    Mann ki Baat’ led a citizen to ask the PM if jaggery could be used instead of sugar in cola drinks
  • Bhopal
    Madhya Pradesh allowing those with an annual income of Rs 10 lakh to stock 100 bottles of liquor for an annual fee of Rs 10,000
VII Things We Learnt Last Week
  • India’s largest fish consuming state, Kerala, has a market worth Rs 12,000 crore per annum
  • There was a 82 per cent rise in sexual offences against women in a 12-year period in Gujarat from 2002
  • Assam BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma has filed defamation cases worth Rs 300 crore against chief minister Tarun Gogoi
  • 41 people—19 from CPI(M) and 17 from RSS, have been killed in clashes in Kannur district in Kerala
  • The Siddhivinayak temple has about 160 kilograms of gold in its reserves
  • Engagement rings were rare before Cecil Rhodes took over DeB­eers and made a marketing success out of diamonds
  • Adolf Hitler suffered from “right-side cryptorchidism” and had a micro-penis with an undescended testicle

Compiled by Uttam Sengupta, Alka Gupta and Meetu Jain



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