Modi govt slams global ranking firms as India ranks lower than Pak, Afghan in Press Freedom

News Network
May 27, 2023

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The Bharatiya Janta Party-led government of India plans to push back against the country rankings produced by global agencies on topics like governance and press freedom, a key advisor to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was quoted as saying by news agencies.

Sanjeev Sanyal, a member of Modi's Economic Advisory Council, said India has begun to raise this issue at global forums. He said the indices were being compiled by a "tiny group of think tanks in the North Atlantic," sponsored by three or four funding agencies that are "driving a real-world agenda."

"It is not just narrative building in some diffused way. This has clear direct impact on trade, investment and other activities," Sanyal said.

India ranked lower than Afghanistan and Pakistan in the new World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders. It was below Pakistan and Bhutan in an academic freedom index by V-Dem Institute.

Over the past year, Indian government has in various meetings pointed out the flaws in methods used to compile global indices used by institutions like the World Bank, World Economic Forum (WEF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Sanyal said.

The "World Bank is involved in this discussion because it takes these opinions from these think tanks and effectively sanctifies it by putting it into something called the world governance index," Sanyal said.

The World Bank, WEF, Reporters Without Borders and V-DEM Institute did not immediately respond to requests for comment. UNDP said it would respond shortly.

Sanyal said the ratings also get hard-wired into decision-making through environmental, social and governance (ESG) norms and sovereign ratings. Multilateral development banks offer subsidised loans to ESG-compliant projects.

"The idea of having some ESG norms is not the problem in itself. The problem relates to how these norms are defined and who certifies or measures compliance to these norms," he said. "As things are currently evolving, developing countries have been completely left out of the conversation."

The matter is being taken up by the Cabinet Secretariat, which has held more than a dozen meetings on the issue this year, a government official said. The Cabinet Secretariat and finance ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

India has said it plans to be an advocate for developing countries under its G20 presidency. Sanyal did not say if India has flagged the issue of country rankings with the G20.

"There are other developing countries who are also concerned about this because effectively this is a form of neo-colonialism," he said, adding that concerned ministries have been asked to establish benchmarks and engage continuously with rating agencies.

Some of the upcoming indices being watched out by India are the financial development index by International Monetary Fund, gender inequality and human development indices by UNDP, logistics performance and worldwide governance indicators by the World Bank, sources said. 

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News Network
July 7,2024

An elderly man from Karnataka’s Shivamogga who had tested positive for Zika virus, died late Friday. Since the patient had comorbidities, doctors are yet to ascertain whether his death was directly caused by the virus.

Nonetheless, this is the first reported incident of death in Karnataka of a patient with traces of the deadly virus in his body this year. Another patient infected with the virus in Shivamogga is currently under treatment at home.

District health officer (DHO) Dr Nataraj said the 74-year-old man who died was suffering from breathing problems and other age-related issues. "He died at his residence in Gandhinagar after being discharged from the hospital," Dr Nataraj said. The patient was admitted to a private hospital on June 18.

After his blood and urine samples were tested, the hospital referred the results to McGann Hospital. Experts at McGann analysed the samples and forwarded them to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Bengaluru for a final report.

On June 21, the report from NIV confirmed that the patient was infected with Zika virus. Since then, he was under treatment at a private hospital.
However, despite his unstable condition, his family insisted on getting him discharged against medical advice. The patient was taken home early on Friday. He passed away later that night.

"Zika virus has no special treatment, except for symptomatic treatment, like any other viral infection," the DHO explained.

"Every day, we analyse all test reports and if there is any suspicion, we send the sample in question to NIV for confirmation. Samples collected from pregnant women with symptoms are taken special care of and are invariably sent to the NIV," the DHO further said.

Symptoms

Zika virus is transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquito bites that happen mostly during the day. Patients showing symptoms such as headache, joint and muscle pain, conjunctivitis must be monitored for more than a week, a health official said. Seeking medical advise during the first few days after contracting the virus is crucial.

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News Network
June 28,2024

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New Delhi, June 28: At least one person was killed and six others injured after a portion of the roof of the Delhi airport's Terminal-1 (T1) collapsed on cars amid heavy rain this morning. All departures from Terminal 1, which has only domestic flight operations, have been temporarily suspended, the civil aviation ministry said.

"Heavy rain in early morning today has resulted in the collapse of the canopy of Delhi airport Terminal 1. As a result of which, flights to and from Terminal 1 have been closed till further notice. Alternate arrangements are being made for smooth operation of the flights," the ministry said in a post on X.

Union Minister of Civil Aviation Ram Mohan Naidu Kinjarapu visited the airport and inspected Terminal 1. He said that the airport will temporarily shift operations to Terminal 2 and Terminal 3. 

Calling it a "very serious" incident, the newly-elected minister announced that a thorough inspection of the structure at the airport would be carried out. The technical reasons and other aspects of the incident would be known after the investigation, he said.

He also announced a compensation of ₹ 20 lakh for the family of the victim and ₹ 3 lakh each for those injured.

T1 has only domestic flight operations by IndiGo and SpiceJet. The airport has three terminals, T1, T2 and T3, and handles around 1,400 flight movements daily.

The officials said the roof sheet and the support beams collapsed, damaging four cars parked in the pick-up and drop area of the terminal at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, one of the busiest airports in the world. The incident was reported to the Delhi Fire Services (DFS) around 5.30 am.

During the rescue operations, a man was seen being taken out from a car on which an iron beam had fallen.

Indigo, Spicejet Cancel Flights 

IndiGo said that its flight operations were impacted due to structural damage to Terminal 1 at Delhi Airport. In a statement, the low-cost carrier said that the incident has led to flight cancellations in Delhi as "passengers are not able to enter the terminal".

"Passengers already inside the terminal will be able to board their planned flights, but those with flights later in the day will be offered alternatives," an IndiGo spokesperson said.

"This unplanned situation has also led to operations across the network being impacted. Customers are advised to keep track of and confirm their flight status before leaving for the airport," the statement added.

Spicejet also cancelled its flights until further notice.

"Please keep a watch on our Social Media channels for further updates," the airline told its passengers.

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News Network
July 3,2024

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Bengaluru: Police detained over 10 people, including state BJP chief B Y Vijayendra and leader of the opposition in the assembly, R Ashoka, for attempting to lay siege to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's official residence on Kumar Krupa Road in central Bengaluru on Wednesday.

Led by Vijayendra and Ashoka, over 10 people attempted to stage a protest in front of the Guest House, just beside the CM's official residence, against the alleged multi-crore scam at the Karnataka Maharshi Valmiki Scheduled Tribes Development Corporation (KMVSTDC) and recent developments in the state, such as the fuel price hike.

Even as the protestors gathered to denounce the Congress government and the CM, as a precautionary measure, security forces deputed at the K K Guest House (near CM’s house) swooped down on the agitators, detained them and shifted them to a bus stationed at the location.

BJP leaders Araga Jnanendra, MLAs Suresh Kumar and Aravind Bellad and MLC CT Ravi were among the protesters detained by the police.

The alleged multi-crore scam in the KMVSTDC came to light after Chandrashekhar, the accounts superintendent of the corporation, died by suicide on May 26 at his residence in Shivamogga.

The Karnataka governmentt transferred the case to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the scam.

The SIT has arrested 11 people in connection with the case and the inister for Tribal Welfare, B Nagendra resigned from the Cabinet after the scam came to light.

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