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    Pakistan violates ceasefire in Rajouri, Poonch

    Pakistan violates ceasefire in Rajouri, Poonch
    File photo

    Jammu, March 19

    The Pakistan Army on Sunday resorted to unprovoked shelling and firing on Indian positions on the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri and Poonch districts, authorities said.

    Defence ministry spokesman, Lt Col Manish Mehta said that the Pakistanis used 2 inch mortars and automatics at Rajouri’s Bhimber Ghali sector and Balakot in Poonch.

    “The shelling and firing started in Bhimber Ghali at 4 a.m. and continued till 6 a.m., while in Balakot, it began at 6 am and ended at 6.45 am,” he said, adding “Our troops responded befittingly”.

    The official said no casualty or damage was reported on the Indian side. — IANS

     


    Capt has team in place Time to bat for Punjab

    Capt Amarinder Singh, the new Chief Minister of Punjab, has put together a Cabinet that represents a selection of veterans which, if tea leaves are to be read, portends well for the state. He has managed a delicate balancing act. Although there are some who have been ministers before, many are new to a ministerial assignment. Brahm Mohindra, Manpreet Singh Badal and Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa have held ministerial assignments, but the untested Navjot Singh Sidhu, Rana Gurjit Singh and Charanjit Singh Channi are no spring chickens. Some kind of balance has been attempted among Malwa, Majha and Doaba regions. The ministers come from various castes and communities, and two of the Cabinet members are women.The new Chief Minister needs to be complimented for weaving together a team of administrators, and the initial selection is of officers known for both integrity and efficiency, essential for working towards all-round development of the state. The temptation for any new political chief is always to seek the familiar. This can often be a mistake, more so in the case of Capt Amarinder Singh, whose coterie politics was widely believed to have been a major cause of discontent during his last term as Chief Minister. His successor, Parkash Singh Badal, succumbed to nepotism, which can equally be the undoing of any power figure.Now that Capt Amarinder Singh’s core team is in place, the pressure would be on him from Day 1 to deliver on the promises, which would, of course, include those made behind closed doors as well as those to the public. If he concentrates on the latter, he will be able to ignore the puerile. The relatively simple swearing-in ceremony should set the tone. Punjab has had to bear the burden of ‘adjusting’ political and other ‘leaders’ in public offices rather than appointing capable individuals who may do justice to the responsibilities assigned. Change is expected by the voters, and those who entrusted with delivering it must keep their focus on the larger interests of Punjab, not just political gymnastics that have long been the bane of the state.


    Amarinder Singh’s journey to being Punjab’s Captain a second time

    Amarinder Singh’s journey to being Punjab's Captain a second time
    Capt Amarinder Singh. Tribune file

    Chandigarh, March 16

    One of the strongest regional satraps of the Congress, Capt Amarinder Singh, put the party back in the saddle in Punjab after the “father of all battles” that decimated the SAD and crushed the AAP’s dream of expanding its footprint beyond Delhi.The 75-year-old Amarinder, a widely respected and popular leader, steered the Congress to a landslide victory winning 77 seats in the 117-member Assembly to occupy the Chief Minister’s post for the second time.

    (Follow The Tribune on Facebook; and Twitter @thetribunechd)

    The Maharaja’s win in Punjab after 10 years has also rekindled the hopes for the revival of the grand old party.Belonging to a very rare breed of politicians who have seen action in the Indo-Pak war, Singh this time tasted success after Akali Dal supremo Parkash Singh Badal foiled his previous attempts to become Chief Minister in 2007 and 2012.Once a leader of the Akali Dal, the ‘scion of Patiala’ fought in the 1965 war after he rejoined the army a few months after his resignation. He again resigned from the Services as a decorated soldier at the conclusion of the war.The Punjab Congress chief and husband of Patiala MP Preneet Kaur was born to late Maharaja Yadavindra Singh of Patiala.After his initial schooling at Lawrence School, Sanawar, and Doon School in Dehradun, he joined the National Defence Academy, Kharagwasla, in July 1959 and graduated from there in December 1963.Commissioned in the Indian Army in 1963, he was posted in 2nd Bn Sikh Regiment (both his father and grandfather had served the battalion), served in Field Area–Indo Tibetan border for two years and was appointed Aide-de-Camp to Lt Gen Harbaksh Singh, GOC-in-C, Western Command.His army career was shortlived as he resigned in early 1965 after his father was appointed Ambassador to Italy and his services were required at home.But he joined the army again immediately after hostilities broke out with Pakistan and took part in operations in the war only to resign again in early 1966 after the war was over.His political career began in January 1980 when he was elected MP. But he resigned from the Congress and the Lok Sabha in protest against the entry of the army into the Golden Temple during Operation Bluestar in 1984.After joining the Akali Dal in August 1985, Singh got elected to the Punjab Assembly on an Akali Dal (Longowal) ticket in the 1995 elections. He was Agriculture Minister in the Surjit Singh Barnala government.However, Singh resigned from the cabinet in protest against the entry of paramilitary forces into the Golden Temple on May 5, 1996. He then floated the Panthic Akali Dal, which later merged with the Congress in 1997.Singh unsuccessfully fought the parliamentary elections on a Congress ticket from Patiala in 1998.He then served as Punjab Congress chief from 1999-2002 before becoming the chief minister in 2002 and continuing till 2007.In September 2008, he was expelled by a state assembly panel on allegations of irregularities in a land transfer case. In 2010, Singh got relief from the Supreme Court which held his expulsion unconstitutional.He then went on to head the state Congress again till 2013.Singh, a permanent invitee to the Congress Working Committee since 2013, fought the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Amritsar and defeated senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley by a margin of more than one lakh votes.He then resigned in November as MP after the Supreme Court termed Punjab’s 2004 Act terminating the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal agreement as unconstitutional.A few days later, he was appointed president of the Punjab Congress again in the run-up to the polls.A widely travelled person, Singh has penned several books, including his memoirs of the 1965 Indo-Pak war. PTI


    THURSDAY HEADLINES 16 MARCH 2017

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    SANJHA MORCHA TEAM GET APPRECIATION FROM CAPT AMARINDER SINGH ,CM PUNJAB

    CAPT’S SWEARING-IN ROADS LEADING TO PUNJAB RAJ BHAWAN CLOSED FROM 8 AM TO NOON TODAY

    IT’S MORE THAN JUST A CONG WIN IN PUNJAB BY PRITAM SINGH

    CAPT’S 2ND INNINGS NEW NORMS, NEW EXPECTATIONS

    GUV TO ADMINISTER OATH TO 7 CABINET MINISTERS, 2 MINISTERS OF STATE; SIDHU TO BE NUMBER 3, TIPPED TO BECOME URBAN DEVELOPMENT MINISTER

    MANPREET TIPPED TO GET FINANCE, SIDHU LOCAL BODIES

     

    DON’T DILUTE THE ARMY’S IDENTITY

    IF GENERALS ESPOUSE PARTISAN STANCES AND POLITICAL PARTIES EMBRACE THEM, CIVIL­MILITARY RELATIONS WILL BE GRIEVOUSLY HARMED

    MY MLA: MY AGENDA WILL KEEP MY WORD, SAYS BALBIR SIDHU

    INJURED IN SUKHOI CRASH AT BARMER; BOTH PILOTS SAFE

    PARRIKAR’S UNFINISHED DEFENCE BUSINESS NEEDS TOP PRIORITY

    THREE MILITANTS, MINOR KILLED IN ENCOUNTER IN KUPWARA DISTRICT OF J&K

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    Capt Amarinder to take oath at ‘10.17 am’

    Capt Amarinder to take oath at ‘10.17 am’
    Capt Amrinder Singh comes out of PGI, Chandigarh, after meeting his mother Rajmata Mohinder Kaur on Wednesday. Photo: S Chandan

    Rajmeet Singh

    Tribune News Service

    Chandigarh, March 15

    Former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh would be among the prominent leaders of the Congress, besides party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who would attend the swearing-in ceremony of Capt Amarinder Singh and nine ministers here tomorrow.Capt Amarinder will take oath as Punjab Chief Minister at dot 10.17 am on the advice of an astrologer, it is learnt.Governor VP Singh Badnore would also administer oath (in order of seniority) to Brahm Mohindra, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Manpreet Singh Badal, Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Rana Gurjit Singh, Charanjit Singh Channi, Aruna Chaudhary and Razia Sultana. The two women would be ministers of state with independent charge.Rana KP Singh is likely to be the Speaker.Meanwhile, to stem murmurs of annoyance over being denied a Cabinet berth, top Congress leaders have conveyed to the party hopefuls that more MLAs would be adjusted in the second phase of induction. There are a total of 18 cabinet ministerial berths, including the CM.“If young faces with a clean image were fielded to counter AAP,  those who won should also be inducted,” said a two-time young MLA from Majha.Himachal Pradesh CM Virbhadra Singh, former J&K CM Farooq Abdullah, former Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda and a host of senior Congress leaders are expected to attend the swearing-in ceremony — which on the directions of Capt Amarinder Singh is to be a low-key affair, “on account of the poor financial health of the state”. Balwant Singh Ramoowalia would represent the outgoing Akhilesh Yadav government in UP.Meanwhile, the first session of the new Vidhan Sabha is likely to be convened on March 24 primarily to pass the vote-on-account. The regular session to pass the Budget will be called in May, sources said.CM-designate visits ailing mother in PGI Chandigarh: Chief Minister-designate Capt Amarinder Singh visited his ailing mother, Rajmata Mohinder Kaur, at the PGI here on Wednesday. He arrived at 3 pm and spent half an hour with his 95-year-old mother. She was shifted to a private room from the emergency ward. Capt Amarinder told the media that her condition was stable, though she continued to be under observation. Capt Amarinder also discussed her health with doctors attending to her. Doctors later said Rajmata was admitted here following GI (gastrointestinal) bleeding, but was much better. She was expected to be discharged once the some tests were completed, they added. tns

    Capt takes oath today, no deputy CM, Brahm Mohindra to be No. 2

    Guv to administer oath to 7 cabinet ministers, 2 ministers of state; Sidhu to be number 3, tipped to become urban development minister

    CHANDIGARH/PATIALA: Captain Amarinder Singh, who led the Congress to a stellar win in the assembly elections, will be sworn in as the state’s 26th chief minister here on Thursday in a simple ceremony along with nine ministers.

    The oath of office will be administered by Punjab governor VP Singh Badnore at the Raj Bhawan.

    The constitutional cap of 15% ministers in the 117 –member House allows the new Congress government to induct a maximum of 18 Cabinet members, including the chief minister.

    Ending speculation, the Congress has decided not to appoint any deputy chief minister. “The credit of victory entirely goes to Amarinder, so the high command has decided not to have the deputy CM post as it will create confusion,” said an AICC office-bearer.

    According to Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee’s letter (accessed by HT) to the Raj Bhawan, seven cabinet ministers and two ministers of state will be administered the oath of office along with the CM.

    In the pecking order, six-time MLA Brahm Mohindra will be sworn in after Amarinder followed by Navjot Singh Sidhu, Manpreet Singh Badal, Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, Tripat Rajinder Bajwa, Rana Gurjit Singh and Charanjit Singh Channi. The two MoS with independent charge will be Aruna Chaudhary, a Dalit face from Majha and Malerkotla MLA Razia Sultana.

    Though Congress sources said the portfolios have not been decided, it is learnt that Sidhu has been offered the ministry of local bodies and urban development. Sources close to Sidhu said the former cricketer has made no demands.

    “He is willing to take whatever responsibility the party is willing to give him,” said a close aide of Amritsar East MLA.

    Bathinda Urban MLA Manpreet Badal is tipped to be the finance minister while four-time MLA Tripat Bajwa is likely to get charge of the public works department. Brahm Mohindra is expected to get the charge of the power department.

    Though Amarinder’s confidant Rana Gurjit Singh is keen on excise and industry portfolios, that would invite allegations of conflict of interest.

    Other than Congress vicepresident Rahul Gandhi, former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh, former Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda and former Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot would be present at the swearing-in.

    Other Congress leaders who will attend the event are former Union ministers Anand Sharma, Kapil Sibal, Ashwani Kumar and Rajeev Shukla besides AICC general secretary in-charge of Punjab affairs Asha Kumari and secretary in-charge Harish Chaudhary.

    THE PECKING ORDER

    fter Amarinder Singh, six-time MLA Brahm Mohindra will take the oath followed by Amritsar East MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu

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    STAR CYCLE

    The swearing-in will start at 10.15 am and Amarinder will take oath between 10.16am and 10.28am as it is a ‘shubh mahurat’ for the Patiala royal scion. The new cabinet will meet at 11.30am and will discuss the formation of a special task force to tackle the drug menace.

    Formidable six-pack set to make presence felt in House

    FEW BUT FEISTY Women are 47% of Punjab’s electorate, but only six of them have made to the 15th Vidhan Sabha. That’s the lowest representation of women in the last five assemblies since seven in 1997. Among the six women in the 117­member House are four f

    THE POWER OF ONE RUPINDER K RUBY, 28 AAP, Bathinda Rural

    Rupinder Kaur Ruby believes, “Aawaaz uthaan de layee ik banda hi kaafi hai (One person is enough to make a point).” The youngest woman MLA in the Punjab assembly plans to be that one voice. That is why the poor representation of women in the House doesn’t worry her. This law graduate, who was doing her PhD, is a past master at battling obstacles. This firsttimer won the Bathinda Rural seat despite having the most meagre bank balance among the contesting candidates.

    Ruby, who draws inspiration from her father Malkiat Singh, a retired government servant who is a founding member of the AAP, claims she did not have to spend a paisa “because the people fought the elections for me”. She believes woman emancipation and education are intertwined. “Financial independence is a must for every woman, and for that she needs education. Then she doesn’t need anyone.”

    Ruby, former assistant professor at a Bathinda law college, is determined to put her most fierce foot forward in the assembly. “I will make Congress deliver on its promises.” By the way: Determined to complete her PhD

    ARMED WITH LESSONS SARAVJIT K MANUKE, 44 AAP, Jagraon

    It’s been a traumatic run-up to the hustings for this teacher-turned-politician. “I was robbed of the most precious part of my life,” says Saravjit, who lost both her mother and motherin-law in a span of few days after she met with a serious accident that killed one of her supporters traveling with her late January.

    “I was heartbroken but my mission was bigger than me,” says Saravjit, who declares that she has not joined politics but an andolan (movement). “We have given new hope to people and we won’t let them down,” says the feisty teacher. This is why she poohpoohs any talk about being outnumbered by men or the ruling party in the assembly. “Iraada buland hona chahiye (Your intentions should be strong).”

    Saravjit is determined to work for revamping the education system. “Do you know there are no washrooms in 70% of the schools in my constituency? How can you talk of women empowerment when girls drop out of schools due to such reasons?”

    This first-time legislator has already launched her Mission Education by shooting off a memo seeking a redressal forum for both parents and teachers, and rollback of the hike in tuition fee. By the way: Mai Bhago and Mata Gujri are her role models

    A DREAM COME TRUE BALJINDER KAUR, 31 AAP, Talwandi Sabo

    A politician. That’s all she wanted to become even as a schoolgirl. “I didn’t know how I would do that, but it was a very deep-seated desire,” smiles Baljinder. Now that her dream has been realised, she says, “I will make sure that har gali, har ghar, har varg di aawaaz Vidhan Sabha tak pahunche (every street, house, section of society must be heard in the assembly).”

    No, she doesn’t feel intimidated by the overwhelming majority of men in the house. She has two younger brothers who look up to her. “I won’t say they are scared of me, but they respect me,” she laughs. With an MA in English and MPhil under her belt, Baljnder was teaching at Mata Gujri College, Fatehgarh Sahib, when politics beckoned in the form of AAP, and she quit her job.

    Today this workaholic—she says she hates being idle — is happy to play her dream role. “It’s a big responsibility that the people of Talwandi Sabo have given me, I will do my best.” Women, she says, can’t be treated in a silo. Be it corruption, drugs or unemployment, it affects every woman directly or indirectly. By the way: Loves dancing the giddha

    AT HOME IN ASSEMBLY ARUNA CHAUDHARY , 59 Congress, Dinanagar

    The three-time MLA doesn’t think her gender is a handicap in the assembly. “It doesn’t matter,” she shrugs. “You can do a lot to ensure that the issues of your constituency are resolved by approaching the minister concerned,” she declares. What is a handicap is being out of power. “It’s tough when you are in the opposition as the MLAs depend on grants from the government,” Aruna explains.

    With her party back in the saddle, she is looking forward to bringing employment to women in Dinanagar. “Jobs are scarce, so we have to train them in other fields,” says the legislator who won by the sixth highest margin. A teacher by training, Aruna says she made sure her two sons focused on education. “Even though ours is a family of politicians, I made it clear that they had to earn their own keep”. Today her elder son is studying dentistry in the US, while the younger is working for an MNC.

    Aruna, who did her graduation and BEd from Srinagar, is also concerned about terrorism and drugs. “Look what happened in the Valley, we have to be careful.” By the way: An expert in Kashmiri cuisine, she paints too

    THIS MOM MEANS BUSINESS SATKAR KAUR, 37 Congress, Ferozepur Rural

    “Hun aa gaye haan, te raula rappa pavange. (Now that I am here, I will make noise).” The soft-spoken woman, who defeated her nearest rival by 21,500 votes, says she means business. Satkar, who lost the 2012 polls by a wafer-thin margin, is all too aware of the responsibility that comes with being the first woman legislator from Ferozepur.

    “There has been no development here for the past 10 years. There is no industry here, sewerage stinks, drugs are rampant, and women bear the brunt of it all,” says Satkar, who took the zila parishad route to politics in 2007, six years after she married into a family of politicians. No, she doesn’t think she will be unsettled by a maledominated assembly. “My husband Jasmel Singh Ladi,” she says, “has always encouraged me. I can handle men.”

    With the assembly session few days away, she’s all ready with her to-do list for her constituency. “We need a college for women, sewing centres in 210 villages for women who want to work from home, a functional sewerage, new industry,” Satkar reels on, telling you how she is no rubberstamp. “Vadiya kam karaange (We will do good work),” she signs off.

    By the way: Spends at least an hour a day with her 3 children, youngest of whom is in kindergarten

    A HOPEFUL HOMECOMING RAZIA SULTANA, 50 Congress, Malerkotla

    The three-time MLA agrees it would have been nicer had there been more women MLAs. “I don’t think there is any bias against women, but people choose who they think is the best for them. The reasons vary from one constituency to another,” she shrugs.

    Razia Sultana, daughter of an armyman and wife of a serving cop, is eagerly looking forward to this term. “We’ve promised to make Malerkotla a district. That will transform it completely.” She is also keen on getting a medical college for her constituency. As for women, she says many of them want pension, which she will make sure they get soon.

    A mother of two — a daughter and a son — Razia enjoys her role as a homemaker. “No matter what, I take a quick round of the house and make sure everything is spick and span before I do anything else,” she smiles. She also likes to cook for her family.

    Coming back to politics, she has just one wish, “Sab theek thaak chale. Hum apne vaade poore kar paayein (Everything should go well. We should be able to keep our promises).”

    By the way: Known for her kebabs

     

     


    It’s more than just a Cong win in Punjab by Pritam Singh

    The Congress, despite its decline in the rest of the country, won in Punjab because the personal appeal of Amarinder Singh transcended that of the party. The AAP and the SAD-BJP combine lost the plot by ignoring the region’s needs. The state needs progressive governance.

    It’s more than just a Cong win in Punjab
    Congress supporters celebrate the party’s victory in Mohali. Tribune photo: Vicky Gharu

    To make sense of the recent Punjab Assembly elections, one can ask three different, though inter-related, questions: Why did the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance lose? Why did the Aam Aadmi Party not win? Finally, why did the Congress win? I will start by making a counter-intuitive statement that it is not a victory of the Congress party in Punjab. It also is not a revival of the Congress. Viewed as a long-term trend, the Congress party in Punjab, as elsewhere in India, is witnessing a decline. In Punjab, it is primarily the victory of Amarinder Singh. He is, on the whole, an exceptional Congress leader from Punjab. All Congress leaders of Punjab, including Partap Singh Kairon who is sometimes presented as the tallest Congress leader Punjab has ever produced, have been servile to the central Congress leadership. Amarinder Singh has been different. He resigned from the Congress party and the Parliament as a protest against Operation Blue Star in June, 1984, the Army action at the Golden Temple ordered by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. It is said that Indira Gandhi had called him “an emotional fool” for taking that step while the Sikh population the world over, traumatised by that ghastly operation, had hailed Amarinder Singh’s step as an assertion of dignity and collective pride of the community. Later on, as the Chief Minister of Punjab (2002-07), he got the river water use treaties relating to Punjab, which he viewed as patently unfair to Punjab, annulled in the Punjab Legislative Assembly. Due to this action, which in Punjab was hailed as a bold step, at that time a storm had blown against him in the political and media circles in Delhi but he stood his ground. The Manmohan Singh-led UPA government was in power at the Centre. The Congress chief Sonia Gandhi had refused to meet him for six months, as was revealed recently by Amarinder Singh himself. Due to these acts of defiance, he is respected by large sections of the Sikh population in Punjab and even outside. No other Congress leader in Punjab is respected in this way.Some aspects of his unconventional lifestyle, including those relating to his personal relations, give him an image of a modern and open-minded person. Upper-caste urban Hindu voters do not view him as some kind of a fundamentalist, in spite of the fact that he had protested against Operation Blue Star. This unique combination, enabling acceptability in the two main religious communities of Punjab, has ensured that the Congress under his leadership has managed impressive victories in the Sikh-majority rural constituencies as well as in the Hindu-majority urban constituencies. If after five years, he leaves the political scene, as he has publicly said he would, there is no one in the Congress party in Punjab who can occupy that space. He, therefore, represents a temporary stop-gap interregnum for the eventual decay and disintegration of Punjab’s Congress party which is in tune with the decay of the party in the rest of the country. In the light of this electoral success of the Congress party in Punjab which Amarinder Singh has ensured, it is sad that he has not totally abandoned the Congress culture of sycophancy when immediately after his victory; he chose to thank Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi for supporting him. Any observer of Punjab’s electoral scene would know that both the Gandhis have no electoral clout in Punjab, though it must also be added that they have reasonably distanced themselves from Indira Gandhi (at least when they come to Punjab) and do not evoke the visceral hatred that she evoked among the Sikhs due to her decision to launch the Army action at the Golden Temple. Given the drubbing the Congress is receiving, it is the central leadership of the party which should feel indebted to Amarinder Singh’s regional leadership in Punjab for whatever political credibility the party has been left with. The regional leadership should not bow before the central leadership. In the medium to long term, there would emerge the necessity of a new, Punjab-based regional party out of the turmoil that the Congress party will be faced with when he quits the political scene. Such a regional party ought to bring a range of activists together who are not together at the moment but exist in all parties in different degrees. This gives us a clue to answer the other two questions raised in the beginning.  One of the main reasons the AAP did not win as well as it could have was because the over-centralised operations from Delhi damaged the party in Punjab organisationally. It also hampered its growth ideologically and politically. Most of its leaders who have won — H.S. Phoolka, Kanwar Sandhu, Sukhpal Singh Khaira, and Baljinder Kaur —have won mainly because of their own strong political profile and constituency-level work. Similarly, the Shiromani Akali Dal lost as it never had in the past. The defeat is mainly due to the weakening of the unique regional profile of the party because of its alliance with the centrist BJP.  It is due to Punjab’s regional specificity that one can explain the absence of the so-called Modi wave that has been witnessed in some other states. This wave adversely affected the Akali Dal as did some other failures of the party and the government, especially the handling of the incidents of desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib. The party dug its own grave the day the government fired on those protesting against acts of desecration. It stumbled from one blunder to another after that, and eventually lost its way. Every election leads to a new political churning. This political upheaval too, hopefully, will give birth to a contested and progressive mode of political and economic governance in Punjab. It deserves progressive and pro-people governance and a realignment of political forces that are responsive to Punjab’s specific needs and challenges. The writer is Professor of Economics, Oxford Brookes University, UK


    Slow procurement of bulletproof jackets, jets irks House committee

    New Delhi, March 10

    A Parliamentary Standing Committee has slammed the Ministry of Defence for slow procurement of bulletproof jackets and expressed its unhappiness at the progress of the next generation Arjun tanks. It also questioned the slow pace of fighter jets’ acquisition for the Indian Air Force.The panel in its reports presented in both the Houses yesterday said “our soldiers continue to suffer due to the ‘insufficiency’ of BPJs (bulletproof jackets)”. The panel headed by BJP MP Maj Gen BC Khanduri (retd) said it “sternly wishes and hopes that the procurement of 1.86 lakh BPJs is made within a stipulated time frame, even though a huge deficiency of BPJs would continue to remain in the Army as compared to the requirement”. “The lives of our soldiers cannot be left in danger,” it said. The committee said the Army endured with a huge deficiency of arms and ammunition. The committee said it was ‘unhappy’ to find that the progress with regard to induction of Arjun Mark–II and termed it as ‘slow and tardy’.On the fighter jets, it said “It cannot help inferring that the intent of the government is not on the same trajectory as that of the Air Force”. — TNS


    China opens Tibet’s 2nd largest airport terminal close to Arunachal

    China opens Tibet's 2nd largest airport terminal close to Arunachal
    Photo for representational purpose only. iStock

    Beijing, March 6

    Tibet’s second largest terminal began operations on Monday, officials said. The new terminal, the sixth to open in Tibet, is located at Nyingchi Mainling Airport, close to the India border. It covers an area of 10,300 square metres and will be able to handle 750,000 passengers and 3,000 tonnes of cargo throughput annually by 2020, Xinhua news agency reported.The airport is located close to the disputed Arunachal Pradesh border.China’s extensive development road, rail and air infrastructure in Tibet has sparked concerns in India because of possible military advantage.India has also initiated border infrastructure development in recent years.The Nyingchi airport will open new air routes to Xi’an, capital of northwest China’s Shaanxi province, resume routes to Beijing and increase more round trip flights to Lhasa, Guangzhou, Kunming, Chongqing and Shenzhen after the new terminal comes into service, said Liu Wei, deputy director of Civil Aviation Administration of China in Tibet.The airport has seen year-on-year increases in passenger flow since it was put into service in 2006. Passenger volume hit 390,000 in 2016, bringing the total passenger numbers to two million in the past years, Liu said, adding that the new terminal will effectively alleviate pressure brought by the growing number of passengers.Nyingchi is located in southeast Tibet at an average elevation of 2,950 meters above sea level. The city has attracted more visitors in the recent years due to tourist attractions such as its peach blossom festival, the report said. — PTI/ IANS


    Punjab soldier ‘shoots self’ to death in Poonch, army orders inquiry

    We want clarity about his death. I know he couldn’t commit suicide. We want a through probe. SAROJ, Roshan Singh A soldier hailing from Kal Banjara village near Lehragaga in Punjab’s Sangrur allegedly committed suicide by shooting himself with his service weapon in Lower Krishna Ghati sector of Poonch district on Sunday morning.

    The deceased has been identified as Sepoy Roshan Singh, 35, of the 68 Engineering Regiment, who was posted with 39 Rashtriya Rifles in Poonch. The army has ordered a court of inquiry into the incident.

    Roshan joined the army 14 years ago. Army and police authorities informed the family about his death on Sunday. The body will reach his native village on Monday where his last rites will be performed.

    Roshan is survived by his wife Saroj and three children. The family lives in a one-room accommodation. Roshan’s parents are living with his brother.

    Not able to come to terms with the tragedy, Saroj said the authorities informed the family that he sacrificed his life in line of duty. “I don’t know what happened with him,” she said.

    “We want clarity about his death. I know he couldn’t commit suicide. We want a through probe,” Saroj added.