Indian-American policy expert Neera Tanden is now White House staff secretary

News Network
October 23, 2021

Washington, Oct 23: Indian-American policy expert Neera Tanden, a close confidant of US President Joe Biden, has been named White House staff secretary, eight months after Republican lawmakers scuttled her nomination to another key post.

Tanden, 51, a senior adviser to President Biden was named White House staff secretary on a morning staff call on Friday, the CNN reported.

The White House staff secretary is a behind-the-scenes but critical role in the West Wing, responsible for managing paper flow to the President from other areas of the administration and federal government. The person filling the job has been viewed as one of the most powerful in the building, it said.

In addition to her new duties, Tanden will keep her senior adviser title "and will continue to provide leadership on particular projects and initiatives," Politico reported, quoting a White House official.

She will report to White House chief of staff Ron Klain, it said.

The appointment does not require Senate confirmation.

"The Staff Secretary role is the central nervous system of the White House and moves the decision-making process and manages a wide variety of issues for the President," the White House official said.

Tanden has "over two decades of experience in policy and management which are critical elements of the role. Her experience across domestic, economic and national security policy will be a key asset in this new role," the official said.

Tanden's appointment as White House staff secretary came eight months after she withdrew her nomination as Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget due to stiff opposition from Republican senators.

In March, she faced a tough time for the confirmation of her nomination as Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) over her past social media outbursts against several lawmakers, including those from her own Democratic Party.

While accepting Tanden's request to withdraw her name from nomination in March, President Biden had said, "I have the utmost respect for her record of accomplishment, her experience and her counsel, and I look forward to having her serve in a role in my Administration. She will bring valuable perspective and insight to our work."

White House announced in May that Tanden had been appointed as a senior adviser to Biden.

Tanden previously served as a senior adviser for health reforms at the US Department of Health and Human Services. She worked with Congress and stakeholders on particular provisions of former President Barack Obama's signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act.

Before that, Tanden was the director of domestic policy for the Obama-Biden presidential campaign, where she managed all domestic policy proposals.

Tanden also served as policy director for Hillary Clinton's first presidential campaign.

Before the 2008 presidential campaign, Tanden served as legislative director in Clinton's office, and deputy campaign manager and issues director for Clinton's 2000 Senate campaign.

She began her career as an associate director for domestic policy in former President Bill Clinton's White House, and senior policy adviser to the First Lady.

Tanden holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a law degree from the Yale Law School. 

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News Network
November 20,2021

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New Delhi, Nov 20: BJP MP Varun Gandhi, who has been increasingly offering views divergent from his party, on Saturday posted online a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, listing four big demands following the centre's surprise cancellation of the controversial farm laws.

Reminding the Prime Minister that over 700 farmers would have still been alive had he taken the decision earlier, the MP demanded ₹ 1 crore compensation for those who died in the course of the year-long protest.

He also demanded that all "all politically motivated false" police cases filed against farmers must be dropped and their calls for widening the programme of guaranteed prices for farm produce known as Minimum Support Price or MSP be accepted, saying their movement wouldn''t end without it.

Mr Gandhi also raised the deaths of protesters in Uttar Pradesh's Lakhimpur Kheri last month where a BJP minister's son and aides have been accused of running over a group of farmers, triggering violence and leaving eight people dead.

"I thank you for your large-heartedness in announcing that these three laws will be repealed. More than 700 of our farmer brothers and sisters have been martyred in this movement, as they peacefully protested in extremely difficult and hostile conditions. I believe that if this decision had been taken earlier, all these innocent lives would not have been lost," he wrote.

"All politically motivated false FIRs that have been registered as weapons of harassment against our farmers during this movement must immediately be quashed," Mr Gandhi said.

"This (farmers') movement will not end without the resolution of this demand and there will be widespread anger amongst them, which will continue to emerge in one form or the other. Therefore, it is very important for the farmers to get the statutory guarantee of MSP for their crops. The MSP should also be based on the C2+50% formula of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices," he wrote.

On Lakhimpur Kheri, he wrote, "Many leaders sitting in senior positions have given provocative statements against our agitating farmers. It is the result of such statements and the adversarial atmosphere created around the movement, that on October 3, five of our farmer brothers were crushed to death by vehicles in Lakhimpur Kheri. This heartbreaking incident is a blemish on our democracy. It is my request to you that appropriately strict action is taken against the Union Minister who has been connected to this incident, so that there is a fair enquiry."

The sharp critique for the BJP is the latest from Varun Gandhi who was dumped from his party's National Executive after calling for justice for the families of farmers killed in UP's Lakhimpur Kheri and speaking out in support of other farmers protesting the centre's new laws.

A member of the Nehru-Gandhi family that controls the opposition Congress, Varun Gandhi and his mother joined the BJP in 2004 just months before the party went out of power but are believed to have fallen out of favour with the leadership in recent years.

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News Network
November 26,2021

Lucknow, Nov 26: Four members of a family in Uttar Pradesh's Prayagraj, including a 16-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy, were found murdered at their home on Thursday morning.

Relatives of the family, which belongs to a Scheduled Caste, have claimed the girl could have been raped before her death, and they have accused a neighbouring family, which belongs to the so-called "upper caste", of the crime.

Police have registered an FIR with charges including gang rape and murder against 11 named persons. The Prayagraj police chief told the media some people had been taken into custody for questioning.

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who is the party's in-charge for the state, which votes in an Assembly election next year, is due to visit Prayagraj at 3 pm, and is expected to meet with the family members of those killed.

The bodies of a 50-year-old man, his 45-year-old wife, and their children were found at their home.

Police said they may have been attacked with a sharp weapon, and that there were grievous injuries on their bodies. The girl's body was found in a room inside the house, while the other three bodies were found together in the courtyard.

A member of the extended family told the media of a land dispute with the "upper caste" family that had been festering since 2019, and claimed the victims had been assaulted by that family in September. The police, however, were trying to force a compromise, the family member alleged.

"The police were forcing the murder victims to compromise. Sushil Kumar (a police constable) used to come to us and pressure us to compromise. The police used to sit at their (accused) homes. The local inspector also told us to compromise," the family member told the media.

"On September 21 the family was beaten up but an FIR was filed only after a week, and then a counter FIR was filed against the aggrieved family too, though they were the ones who got beaten up," the family member added.

"It appears all four were hit on the head with an axe. There are grievous injuries on the bodies. Initial information suggests that in 2019 and 2021 they had filed cases under the SC/ST Act against some people related to a land dispute. The family alleged there was no headway in these cases. We will take strict action," Sarvashrestha Tripathi, the Prayagraj police chief, said in a video statement. 

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News Network
November 18,2021

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Bangaluru, Nov 18: In a bid to encourage women to take up entrepreneurship, the Karnataka government will soon set up exclusive industrial parks dedicated to them in Mysuru, Dharwad, Harohalli and Kalaburagi, Large and Medium Industries Minister Murugesh Nirani announced here on Thursday.
 
The minister was inaugurating a women entrepreneurs' event titled 'Together We Grow' organised by UBUNTU Consortium of Women Entrepreneurs Associations to mark International Women Entrepreneurship Day at a private hotel here.

UBUNTU is a Consortium of Women Entrepreneurs Associations. Over 30 women entrepreneurs associations and 1,500 members function under a single platform.

Explaining the various government initiatives, Nirani urged budding women entrepreneurs to make use of those schemes.
 
"Karnataka is the first state in India to set up exclusive industrial parks dedicated to women in Mysuru, Dharwad, Kalaburagi and Harohalli. The purpose will be served if women entrepreneurs take advantage of this initiative. Women should join hands with the government in driving industrial growth by taking up entrepreneurship and providing jobs," Nirani urged.
 
Lauding the achievements of women in every sector, the minister wanted women entrepreneurs to create jobs. "Women are shining in every field in this competitive world. Empowerment of women will become more meaningful when women become entrepreneurs and provide jobs to others. Successful women entrepreneurs like Sudha Narayana Murthy of Infosys, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw of Biocon have become role models and their success stories should become a source of inspiration for budding women entrepreneurs," Nirani opined.
 
The minister said government, through various initiatives has been encouraging women entrepreneurs to unlock their potential to generate unlimited profit and create jobs. 'Udyami Aagu, Udyoga Needu' programme in Bengaluru was a grand success and it will be conducted in other districts in the coming days, Nirani informed.
 
He lauded UBUNTU for supporting and guiding women entrepreneurs and promised to extend government's cooperation and support in their endeavours.
 
"We are proud of the fact that today India has 13.5 - 15.7 million women-owned enterprises, representing 20 per cent of all enterprises. Accelerating quantity and quality of entrepreneurship towards such benchmarks can create over 30 million women-owned enterprises and this is not an impossible goal," Nirani expressed.
 
Explaining the regulations aimed at helping women, minister Nirani promised incentives for women entrepreneurs from weaker sections.
 
"Amendment to the Factories Act, 1948 allows women to work in the night shift between 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. Additional incentives are proposed to special category entrepreneurs such as SC/ ST women under new industrial policy," Nirani informed.

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