Competitive Exams: National News 2009 (Part 4 of 5)

Tata Nano The People's Car Launched (23rd March 2009)

People's car ‘Nano’ launched amidst much waiting and expectation. Tata Motor's ‘Nano’ was commercially launched in Mumbai on 23/3/09 promising to meet the expectations of people under some circumstances which is likely to bring about a change in the auto market in the nation

Modi minister held in post-Godhra riot case (March 2009)

As prime ministerial candidate L K Advani and chief minister Narendra Modi on 27/3/09 launched the BJP's campaign at the Kankaria lakefront, a few kilometres away, in Gandhinagar, Maya Kodnani, a minister in Modi's cabinet, was arrested in one of the post-Godhra riot cases of 2002.

Minister of state for women and child welfare and higher education, Kodnani was arrested after the Gujarat high court cancelled her anticipatory bail on Friday in the Naroda Patia and Naroda Gam riots case. A trained gynaecologist, she resigned from the ministry and surrendered before the SC-appointed Special Investigation Team in Gandhinagar with VHP leader Jaideep Patel.

Varun guilty; EC asks BJP not to field Varun (March 2009)

The Election Commission has found the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, Varun Gandhi guilty of making remarks against Muslims in an election rally in Pilibit and in the wake, violating polls laws. The EC has also declared that the CD was not doctored and said that it will initiate criminal proceedings against him.

The EC has also asked BJP not to give a ticket to contest polls in Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh.

The commission considered the speeches as a grave violation of the model code of conduct, apart from amounting to promoting feelings of enmity and hatred between different classes on the ground of religion, outraging the religious feeling of a particular community, and promoting hatred and ill-will between two classes of citizens and provoking a section of the citizens to indulge in violence.

Any sponsorship of his candidature by the BJP, or any other political party at this election, would be perceived as endorsing his unpardonable acts of inciting violence and creating feelings of enmity and hatred between different classes of citizens of India, destroying the social, democratic and plural fabric of the country, it said.

SATYAM FRAUD

The fraud at Satyam may well turn out to be the biggest of all scams unearthed from corporate India. Through multiple routes involving a large number of related companies and myriad transactions, the promoters of Satyam Computer Services, led by the company's Chairman Ramalinga Raju, are alleged to have siphoned out a huge quantity of money from the firm. To cover that up, the accounts were manipulated and documents were forged to declare nonexistent cash reserves and understate liabilities.

The money that was taken out may have been used, among other things, to acquire large quantities of land in what seems to be a set of speculative real estate ventures that could enrich the family. The Maytas companies that had titles that spelt Satyam in reverse were important conduits in this process, but there were clearly many more. According to reports, the Registrar of Companies has found that ‘’ Satyam's annual report reveals several transactions with subsidiaries and other group companies by way of investments, purchase of assets and other receivables ‘’ that point to the concealed transfer of funds out of the company.

Shockingly, one of the allegations made by the Crime Investigation Department (CID) of Andhra Pradesh is that the company had only 40, 000 employees on its rolls as compared with the 53, 000 claimed by it and the remaining 13, 000 were mere fake salary accounts through which as much as Rs. 20 crore a month were taken out of the company over a period of five years. If true, this involves descent to a level of manipulation and fraud that could spell the end for Satyam.

MANGALORE PUB ATTACK

Activists of a self-styled pro-Hindu moral brigade called Sri Rama Sene barged into a pub in the coastal city of Mangalore in january and bashed up a few young girls for ‘violating traditional Indian norms’

At least two girls were punched and their hair pulled by the activists 4 p. m. Saturday at the pub Amnesia-The Lounge in Mangalore, about 350 km from Bangalore. The young men accompanying the girls to the pub on the busy Balmatta Road were also assaulted when they tried to protect their friends.

Following this shocking incident, at least 10 of the activists have been arrested by Mangalore police. From the accounts given by the eyewitnesses, who did not want to be identified, the girls were the target of attack. About 40 men forcibly entered the pub claiming unethical activities were on inside and pushed their way inside. They began assaulting the young men and women who ran for safety. At least two of the girls started screaming for help and managed to flee from the attackers.

The ugly incident has a murky dimension also with leaders of Sri Rama Sene and Bajrang Dal, another pro-Hindu organisation fighting to take credit for the attack in the name of punishing those going against ‘traditional Indian norms’

RAILWAY BUDGET 2009

Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav Friday presented his sixth rail budget in February. He is the first Railway Minister to introduce the low fare air-conditioned trains known as Garib Rath. Fifteen such trains are already running and five more are expected to start in the near future.

The Railways minister cut rail fares across ticket categories by 2% and announced plans for 43 new trains on Friday.

The fare cut will bring down rail fares on air-conditioned travel the most, mounting further pressure on low-cost airlines, while fares for second-class, second-class sleeper, and general compartments will also go down for tickets worth more than Rs. 50 per passenger. Suburban commuters who use express or mail trains will also see their ticket costs get Rs. 1 cheaper.

The fare cuts, announced in the government's interim railway budget for 2009 − 10, are expected to set the Indian Railways back by only around Rs. 700 crore but will make little difference to its cash pile of Rs. 90, 000 crore. In any case, Mr Prasad said a cut in fares would not necessarily lead to a loss of revenues. The Railways has cut fares four times in as many years, lowering AC first class and AC two-tier rates by 28% and 20%, respectively and taking the competition straight to the doors of the low-cost airline sector.

The Minister also proposed starting 43 new trains during 2009 − 10, and said the Railways would extend services of 14 existing trains. The frequency of various Rajdhani and other express trains will also be increased taking into account the rise in the number of passengers.

DEMONSTRATIONS AGAINST VALENTINE's DAY

Activists of the Hindu fundamentalist political party Shiv Sena on Wednesday staged a token protest at Central Delhis Jantar Mantar against St. Valentines Day celebrations in the capital. The activists said that they viewed celebrations of St. Valentines Day contrary to Indian ethos and a proof of the growing influence of western culture on rest of the world. Besides, the protestors said that the St. Valentines Day was corrupting the Indian youth, as most of the youth on this day take advantage of the occasion and indulge in immoral behaviour at public places.

Such protest were undertaken at quite a few places in India like Bhopal, Bangalore etc. In Uttar Pradesh, Right-wing Hindu activists beat up young couples during Valentine's Day protests across the country. Shiv Sena said it was holding protests across the country against Valentine's Day celebrations which were against Indian culture and had a corrupting influence on Indian youth.

Protests by Hindu and Muslim groups were reported from the national capital Delhi, central Bhopal and southern Hyderabad cities. Fifty activists of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party's student wing attacked a shop selling Valentine's Day gifts in Hyderabad and set fire to the greeting cards. They carried saffron flags and chanted slogans such as Save Culture and Death to Valentine's Day. Muslim groups also campaigned against Valentine's Day and displayed posters at public places asking youth to refrain from celebrating the day.

In central Bhopal city, another Hindu right-wing group the Bajrang Dal held protests threatening to marry off lovers found misbehaving in public places. Other Hindu religious organizations held protests in the western Gujarat state distributing handbills to college students asking them to shun western culture.

Valentine's Day has become popular in India over the past decade with shops selling romantic cards, heart-shaped balloons, cuddly toys and other gifts. But the day has also seen regular protests by Hindu and Muslim hardliners who claim the celebrations threaten Indian culture and social norms.