kannur l Sunday l june 19, 2022 l `12.00 l PAGES 24 l city edition Two dead as blasts tear through Kabul Gurdwara At least seven persons were also injured in the latest attack to target the Sikh community in war-torn Afghanistan Explosive-laden truck stopped A series of explosions was followed by gunfights between terrorists and Taliban fighters, a Taliban spokesperson said without divulging any details about the attackers. Afghanistan’s interior ministry said a bigger tragedy was thwarted as secuirty personnel stopped an explosive-laden vehicle from reaching the Gurdwara. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack ■ 30 a centre of Afghan hindus, sikhs ■ The early-morning attack killed a devotee and a secuirty guard. It happened in an area with a sizable Hindu and Sikh population Reacting sharply to the incident, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said, “The cowardly attack on Gurdwara Karte Parwan should be condemned in the strongest terms by all” people were inside the gurdwara at the time of attack CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOgGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI State heading for huge debt trap, warns RBI M S V i d ya n a n d a n @ T’Puram A Reserve Bank of India article has named Kerala among the five highly stressed states with high indebtedness requiring urgent corrective measures. The article by a team of economists under the guidance of deputy governor Michael Debabrata Patra comes in the backdrop of the Sri Lankan crisis and is to “put the spotlight on fiscal risks confronting state governments in India, with emphasis on the heavily indebted states”. The report said Rajasthan, Kerala and West Bengal are projected to exceed the debt-GSDP ratio of 35% by 2026-27. “These states will need to undertake significant corrective steps to stabilise their debt levels,” it said. The article lists 10 states which account for around half of the total expenditure by all state governments. Taking into account the war ning signs based on all the indicators, the study p i c ke d f ive h i g h l y stressed states — Bihar, Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan and West Bengal. The article said Kerala has exceeded the debt target set by the 15th Finance Commission for 2020-21. Kerala and two other states -- Rajasthan and West Bengal -- are projected to surpass the commission’s targets for debt and fiscal deficit in 2022-23. Kerala also figures in the list of states whose share of revenue expenditure in total spending is around 90%. This results in poor expenditure quality. Committed expenditure, including interest payments, pensions and administrative expenses, accounts for over 35% of the total revenue expenditure in five states, including Kerala, leaving limited fiscal space for undertaking developmental expenditure, the article said. Jharkhand, Kerala, Odisha, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh are Ten per cent vacancies in Central Armed Police Forces, Assam Rifles and Indian Coast Guard to be reserved for recruits under the scheme Govt set to go ahead with Agnipath, lists more sops C H ANDAN NANDY & M AYAN K S ING H @ New Delhi express read India’s Russian coal buy jumps six-fold: report New Delhi: India’s purchases of Russian coal have spiked despite global sanctions on Moscow, as traders offer discounts of up to 30%, according to Reuters. India’s purchases of coal and related products rose six-fold in the 20 days through Wednesday from the same period a year earlier to $331.17 million, it said Punjab celebs rush for bullet-proof cars Chandigarh: After Punjabi singer Sidhu Moose Wala was shot dead in his car, many celebrities and politicians in the state are scurrying to make their vehicles bullet-proof and add safety features such as run-flat tire technology. According to industry sources, It will cost C10-25 lakh to bulletproof a vehicle Bitcoin drops below $20,000 amid sell-off London: The price of bitcoin fell below $20,000 for the first time since late 2020 on Saturday, in a fresh sign that the selloff in cryptocurrencies is deepening. Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency, fell below the psychologically important threshold, dropping as much as 9% to less than $19,000 WITH THIS ISSUE The Great Indian Job Race PLUS 12 PAGES Undeterred by the violent protests against the Agnipath scheme, the Centre on Saturday indicated it will go ahead with the recruitment as it announced a slew of new concessions for Agniveer aspirants. While the Union home ministry announced that 10% vacancies in the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and Assam Rifles would be reserved for Agniveers, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh approved a similar proposal for the new recruits once they complete their four-year tenure in the armed forces. The newly announced reservation will be applicable for the Indian Coast Guard, defence civilian posts and all 16 defence public sector undertakings. The reservation for Agniveers will be in addition to existing quota for ex-servicemen. In a statement, the defence ministry said “necessary age relaxation provision will also be made” to effect this change. The fresh announcements follow the government’s one-time relaxation in the upper age limit for joining the armed forces this year, raising it from 21 to 23, in view of the freeze in recruitment drive in the past two years due to the pandemic. According to the Agnipath scheme announced on June 14, those between 17.5 and 21 years of age can apply to be Agniveers for four years. The Ministry of Home Affairs also decided to give three years age relaxation beyond the prescribed upper age limit to Agniveers for recruitment to CAPFs and Assam Rifles. For the first batch of Agniveers, the age relaxation will be for five years beyond the prescribed upper age limit. In addition to the two ministries, the states of Karnataka, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Assam have announced preference to Agniveers in state police recruitment. “The state police forces will greatly benefit from the training and discipline inculcated to Agniveers by the armed forces and their capabilities in tackling insurgency, Naxalism and natural disasters will be hugely augmented.” said the government in a press release. According to the government, several corporate houses and industry bodies have welcomed the new and transformative recruitment process for the armed forces. “The well trained, disciplined and technologically savvy youth who finish their service in the armed forces will be a valuable asset to their organisations, they said. Apart from customised certificates, a bachelor’s programme by the Indira Gandhi National Open University has also been planned for the Agniveers. The government is hopeful that financial institutions will also extend support. To identify the ways in which banks can support Agniveers on completion of their tenure of duty Secretary Department of Financial Services , , held a meeting with the heads of public-sector banks, public-sector insurance companies and financial institutions. In the meeting, it was decided that banks and financial institutions will explore employment opportunities for Agniveers in suitable capacities based on their educationP7 al qualifications and skills. @ T’Puram/Kozhikode The raging protests against the Agnipath scheme have reached various parts of Kerala too. Hundreds of Army job aspirants took out marches in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode, raising ‘we want justice’ slogan. While more than 700 youngsters marched to Raj Bhavan in Thiruvananthapuram, hundreds took out a rally to the railway station in Kozhikode. This apart, the Students Federation of India organised protest marches ag ainst the scheme in all districts. The Raj Bhavan march began from the Central railway station, Thampanoor, in which youngsters, including candidates who are awaiting the next round of recruitment after having passed the physical and medical tests in 2021, assem- Farooq bows out of presidential race RA J E S H K U M AR T H A K U R @ New Delhi national Conference chief and former Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah on Saturday declined the invite to be the Opposition’s candidate for President, dealing a blow to West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee’s efforts to propose a consensus name. Thanking Mamata for the offer, Abdullah said he wants to remain in active politics as he has a lot more to contribute to the country. “I withdraw my name from consideration as a possible joint opposition candidate for the President of India. I believe that Jammu and Kashmir is passing through a critical juncture and my efforts are required to help navigate these uncertain times,” he said. Earlier, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, too, had declined the offer to be the Opposition’s consensus candidate for President. Apart from Pawar and Abdullah, Mamata-led Opposition meet on June 15 had also suggested former West Bengal gov- ernor Gopalkrishna Gandhi as the third choice. According to sources, both Pawar and Abdullah rejected the invite due to the Opposition’s weak electoral strength for Presidential polls. “Now, Gopalkrishna Gandhi is the only name in the race but he is yet say yes or no,” remarked a senior Congress leader. The next meeting of Opposition parties on Presidential polls may take place on June 20 or 21 in Mumbai or Delhi. It is bringing revolutionary changes in the recruitment process in the armed forces. Some people are spreading misunderstanding about it Rajnath Singh, defence minister Police arrest key instigator behind Secunderabad protests Andhra Pradesh police have arrested one of the alleged key instigators of Friday’s violent protests at the Secunderabad Railway Station. The accused, identified as A Subba Rao, runs a coaching centre that trains aspirants of defence services. He allegedly instigated the aspirants to protest against the Agnipath scheme. He told the police that if the Centre goes ahead with the scheme, his coaching business will take a hit Put scheme on hold, Pinarayi urges PM Modi T’Puram: Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to put the Agnipath scheme on hold. In a tweet on Saturday, the CM said the raging protests against the scheme are a clear indication of the sentiments of youngsters in the country. In the interest of the country, the scheme should be put on hold, in addition to addressing criticism raised by professi-onals and the apprehensions of the youth, he said. 10 In Bihar, which has seen some of the worst protests against the Agnipath scheme, the Centre has accorded VIP security cover to 10 BJP legislators in view of threats posed to them Hundreds rally as Agnipath sparks protests in state E x p r ess Ne w s S e r v i c e the top five states with the largest rise in subsidies over the past three years. In the recent period, state governments have started delivering a portion of their subsidies in the form of freebies. “A multitude of social welfare schemes in the form of freebies will not only put a heavy burden on the exchequer but will also exert upward pressure on yields if they are financed through market borrowing,” it said. The report asks state governments to reprioritise their expenditure to achieve optimum long-term welfare advantages. Also, states should ensure that there is a sunset clause for each social sector scheme, it said. bled. During the peaceful protest, they demanded that the Combined Entrance Examination scheduled earlier and postponed six times should be held at the earliest. It is learnt that the protest call was shared on a WhatsApp group comprising around 1,000 youngters in the southern districts. V A Sijin Mon,22, from Neyyattinkara, told TNIE that it was their It was a peaceful protest and we did not face any issues as they had sought prior permission. They raised slogans and dispersed after a while — G Sparjan Kumar, Thiruvananthapuram city police commissioner WhatsApp group admin, Manikandan, a YouTuber, who urged them to reach the capital city on Saturday “We decided to . hold the protest after realising that the Centre has decided to cancel the previous tests which we attended,” he said. “I sweated a lot to clear the physical and medical tests. Authorities have been taking us for a ride for the past 18 months. Recruitment to BSF and CRPF were held by Staff Selection Commission,” said P S Pranav, ● More on P4 of Kulathoor. Plea for mercy A Youth Congress supporter pleads with the police to spare him during the protest in front of the Secretariat on Saturday. The protest demanding Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s resignation turned violent leading the police to resort to lathicharge and using water cannons, teargas and grenades to disperse the activists | Vincent Pulickal | P4 Our leaders must be cautious about what they say: Kodiyeri E x p r ess Ne w s S e r v i c e T he Vigilance decision to take the gold smuggling case accused Sarith into custody in a hur ry after Swapna Suresh’s new revelations was a wrong move, CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan has said. He was talking exclusively to TNIE as part of the ‘Express Dialogues’ series. “Sarith’s detention was not made with the government’s knowledge. The ADGP who’s responsible for the same has been transferred,’’ Kodiyeri said. He also talked at length about the errors in judgement and miscommunications that affected the government’s image and added to the controversies, including the ban on black mask. He said the government hadn’t given any directive on masks. “People are free to wear masks and dress of their choice. But wrong directives came from some quarters and that caused inconvenience to the public,’’ he said. Asked about the statements made by LDF convener E P Jayarajan on the black mask issue, he said the comment was avoidable and party leaders should exercise more caution. Full conversation on P2 Odisha blows lid off pan-India elephant trafficking racket S i b a M o h a n t y @ Bhubaneswar IN what could be of huge ramification, the Forest department of Odisha has blown the lid off a panIndia illegal elephant trafficking racket which attempted to use forged no objection certificates (NOCs) to smuggle captive jumbos through the State to Gujarat. The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden (CWLW) has alerted its counterparts in other states and the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) so that applications for transportation of elephants and their movement across the country can be closely monitored. The matter assumes significance in view of a proposed amendment by Union government to the Wildlife Protection Act which seeks to commercialise the Schedule – I species. There already exists a huge nexus between capture of wild elephants and their demand by temples, religious institutions and even political parties. At least, eight cases of trafficking have come to fore last month. The Chief Wildlife Warden of Odisha found racketeers tried to fake NOCs by using forged signatures. In all cases, the attempt was to allegedly smuggle elephants from Assam. Seven of these cases saw attemots made to transport elephants to Gujarat’s Jamnagar for a temple trust, reliable sources told TNIE.
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