Delhi court sends Umar Khalid to judicial custody till Oct 22

News Network
September 24, 2020

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New Delhi, Sept 24: A Delhi court on Thursday sent former Jawaharlal Nehru University student Umar Khalid to judicial custody till October 22 for his alleged role in the North-east Delhi violence earlier this year.

Khalid was produced before the Karkardooma court through videoconferencing after the end of his 10-day police remand.

He was arrested on September 14 and booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) by Special Cell of Delhi Police.

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News Network
October 26,2020

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New York, Oct 26: Ananya Birla, the daughter of Aditya Birla Group's billionaire chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla, has slammed a US restaurant for being "racist", saying the Italian-American dining place in California "literally threw" her and her family out of their premises.

The singer and artist took to Twitter to share her ordeal on Saturday, saying "this is not okay".

"This restaurant @ScopaRestaurant literally threw my family and I, out of their premises. So racist. So sad. You really need to treat your customers right. Very racist. This is not okay," she said in a tweet.

The Scopa Italian Roots restaurant is an Italian-American dining place by chef Antonia Lofaso in California.

"We waited for 3 hours to eat at your restaurant. @chefantonia Your waiter Joshua Silverman was extremely rude to my mother, bordering racist. This isn''t okay," Ananya said in another tweet, in which she tagged Lofaso.

She is the daughter of Aditya Birla Group Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla and educationist and mental health activist Neerja Birla.

In a tweet, Neerja Birla also lashed out at the restaurant for ill-treating them. "Very shocking... absolutely ridiculous behaviour by @ScopaRestaurant.  You have no right to treat any of your customers like this," she said. "I have never experienced anything of this sort. Racism exists and is real. Unbelievable. @ScopaRestaurant," their son Aryaman Birla also tweeted.

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News Network
October 15,2020

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New Delhi, Oct 15: Following the fake Television Rating Points (TRP) scam, the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) on Thursday announced a temporary suspension of weekly ratings of news channels across languages.

The council intends to review and augment the current standards of measurement to improve on "statistical robustness", and the exercise will result in a "pause" in the weekly ratings for up to 12 weeks, an official statement said.

At least five people have been arrested by the city police which busted the scam earlier this month.

Those arrested include news channel employees, while the police is also questioning executives of Arnab Goswami-led Republic Media Group with regard to the case. Republic Media Group has denied any wrongdoing.

The audience estimates given by BARC influence ad spends, and the total size of the ad placements was pegged at Rs 32,000 crore annually by the police. The police allege the ratings were being rigged by inducing the homes where the monitors were placed.

"In the light of the recent developments, BARC Board has proposed that it's technical committee review and augment the current standards of measuring and reporting the data of niche genres, to improve their statistical robustness and to significantly hamper the potential attempts of infiltrating the panel homes," an official statement said.

The exercise would cover all Hindi, Regional, English News and Business News channels with immediate effect, it added.

"BARC will cease publishing the weekly individual ratings for all news channels during the exercise," it said, adding that the exercise will last between 8 to 12 weeks and include validation and testing.

" a pause was necessitated to enable the industry and BARC to work closely to review its already stringent protocols and further augment them to enable the industry to focus on collaborating for growth and well-natured competitiveness," BARC India chairman Punit Goenka said.

The industry body's chief executive Sunil Lulla said besides augmenting current protocols and benchmarking them with global standards, BARC is also exploring several options to discourage unlawful inducement of its panel home viewers and further strengthening its codes.

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News Network
October 27,2020

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Patna, Oct 27: As Bihar readies for the first phase of voting on Wednesday, the NDA's sweep of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls appears to be a distant memory with the RJD-led opposition mounting a spirited fight against the nearly 15-year-old rule of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

The ruling alliance and the incumbent chief minister, on the other hand, are repeatedly referring to what they call the 15-year misrule under the earlier RJD regime from 1990-2005.

Opposition's chief ministerial candidate Tejashwi Yadav's attack on Kumar over issues of "unemployment and corruption" and offer of "ummeed aur badlaav" (hope and change) seems to have struck a chord with a section of voters, opening up the electoral battle which many believed was done and dusted in the ruling alliance's favour till a few months back.

Seventy one seats in the southern and parts of central Bihar are going to the polls in the first phase of the elections to the 243-seat state assembly.

The National Democratic Alliance, which also has Jitan Ram Manjhi's HAM(S) and Mukesh Sahani's Vikassheel Insaan Party besides the BJP and the JD(U) in its fold, hold 37 of these constituencies, while the 'mahagathbandhan' of RJD-Congress-Left has 34 sitting seats in the first phase.

When the two alliances had last squared off against each other in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the NDA had won 39 of 40 Lok Sabha seats and over 53 per cent of votes, while the opposition could only win one seat and manage barely 30 per cent of votes.

Since then, a couple of smaller parties from the opposition camp, which has been joined by the CPI(ML) and two other Left parties, has switched to the NDA, while Chirag Paswan-led Lok Janshakti Party has broken away from the ruling alliance to fight on its own.

As the pivot of the polls has shifted from national to local issues, and Kumar's stewardship of the state and not Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership of the country came into focus during the assembly poll campaign, the opposition has sniffed a chance.

"This election is between Bihar and Nitish Kumar. The trend of the election is very clear. People want change," RJD spokesperson Manoj Jha says.

The mood in the ruling JD(U) camp is of cautious optimism, as the party's task has become more difficult in many seats due to the challenge from the LJP, which is not contesting against the BJP.

JD(U) general secretary Afaque Ahmad says the people of Bihar are politically astute and will back Kumar whose work is all about "good governance and development".

Asked about the big crowds Yadav is drawing as he goes after Kumar, he does not accord it much importance.

He says Ram Manohar Lohia, a socialist icon and then the most vocal critic of Jawaharlal Nehru, used to attract a huge audience when he fought against the first prime minister from Phulpur in 1962.

 "Lohia Ji still lost badly. There is no match between Nitish Kumar and Tejashwi Yadav. Kumar will again be chief minister," Ahmad says.

NDA sources point out that the gap between their alliance and the RJD-led opposition has always been too big, and asserted that it will be hard to bridge.

Various opinion polls have suggested that the NDA will get a majority and the opposition alliance may fall short of the three-digit mark while highlighting the much narrower difference in vote share -- from 6-8 per cent -- between the two groupings compared to the Lok Sabha polls.

The RJD camp believes that it has gained among Dalit votes with its alliance with the CMI(ML), the strongest of the Left parties in the state, while the NDA has been hit by Paswan deserting it.

Yadav's promise of several sops, including 10 lakh government jobs, for the youth, and his focus on the alleged petty bureaucratic corruption under the Kumar government has swayed a large section of youths, his party argues, expressing confidence that the momentum is in its favour.

With the 30-year-old scion of the jailed RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav's family often mocking Kumar (69) as a "tired" leader who needs rest, the incumbent chief minister has been spending a considerable part of his poll speeches in reminding voters of the party's alleged misrule between 1990-2005 and the changes he has ushered since then.

 "What was there? Did they (Lalu and wife Rabri Devi who replaced him as CM) build any school, any hospital? Could your daughter go out after dusk fell?" he asked people at a rally on Monday.

Kumar is credited with restoring law and order after coming to power in 2005 and heralding a focus on development projects, an agenda that has won him three successive victories in the assembly polls.

The opposition, however, has sought to build a campaign over the perceived anti-incumbency against his 15 years of rule and to put him on the defensive over lack of employment in what remains a poor and backward state, his handling of the recent migrant crisis and alleged corruption to argue that the state needs new leadership. 

Many ruling alliance's leaders have cited Tejashwi's lack of formal education, he has studied till class nine, to attack his leadership credentials.

Political circles in Patna are abuzz with various theories about a hint of anger and asperity in the speeches of Kumar, generally known for his measured words, as he hops across the state to fend off the challenge and seeks one more term to carry out his development agenda.

Modi had held three rallies on October 23 and is likely to speak at nine more in the days ahead including three on Wednesday, seeking to consolidate votes in the favour of the NDA.

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