25112017-TT-01.qxd 11/24/2017 10:34 PM Page 1 13 established in 1881 saturday, november 25, 2017 himachal pradesh chandigarh | gurugram | jalandhar | bathinda | jammu | srinagar | www.tribuneindia.com | vol. 137 no. 325 | 26 pages | ~5.00 | regd. no. chd/0006/2015-2017 /thetribunechd /thetribunechd Dec15 to Jan 5: Winter 235worshippers die Metro loses 3 lakh session dates are out inEgypt terrorstrike commuters a day RTI: Effect of Oct 10 fare hike in Delhi NDA govt cites ‘several precedents’ for delay this year Tribune News Service New Delhi, November 24 The winter session of Parliament will begin on December 15, a day after the second phase of voting to the Gujarat Assembly is over on December 14. It will conclude on January 5. The Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs today recommended that the session be held between December 15 and January 5, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Ananth Kumar said. “We request and seek cooperation from all parties for the smooth functioning of both Houses to make this session fruitful,” he added. Justifying the decision to delay the session, Kumar said there had been several precedents in the past, including under governments headed by Congress Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi, PV Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh. Recounting “several instances in the past” where session dates were changed to avoid an overlap with the elections, BJP leaders claimed that it was not a new practice. On whether MPs would be asked to be present on January 1, Kumar said parliamentarians were supposed to be present on all working days, including New Year’s Day. Important Bills are expected to be introduced, including one on triple talaq and the National Commission on Backward Classes, the minister said. The session will also take up Bills to replace ordinances — The Goods and Services Tax (Compensation to States), 2017; The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) and The Indian Forest (Amendment). The Opposition had attacked the government for delaying the winter session, claiming it was being done to avoid a debate on scams, including the Rafale deal, ahead of the Gujarat Assembly election. BJP sources, however, said it would have been pointless to hold the session while elections were on because most leaders would be busy campaigning. S&P differs from Moody’s, keeps rating unchanged No upgrade, says outlook ‘stable’; Govt terms it unfair New Delhi, November 24 Credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s today kept its sovereign rating for India unchanged at ‘BBB-minus’ with a ‘stable’ outlook, saying vulnerabilities stemming from low per capita income and high government debt balance strong GDP growth. The government, which was “expecting” an upgrade following one by Moody’s last week, was quick to term it unfair. Moody’s Investors Service raised India’s sovereign rating for the first time in 13 years on growth prospects. S&P said India’s rating reflects its strong GDP growth, sound external profile and improving monetary credibility. These, it said, are “balanced against vulnerabili- ties stemming from the country’s low per capita income and relatively high general government debt stock”. “The stable outlook reflects our view that over the next two years, growth will remain strong, India will maintain its sound external account position and fiscal deficits will remain broadly in line with our expectations,” it said. Sanjeev Sanyal, Principal Economic Adviser, termed the unchanged rating “a bit unfair”, saying the low per capita income is “neither a reflection on our ability or our willingness of paying debt”. Economic Affairs Secretary SC Garg said S&P chose to play cautious and hoped the reforms will reflect in a ratings upgrade next year. “Our expectation would be that S&P also takes into account what the government has done,” he said, adding that S&P has said everything that Moody’s also stated in its rating upgrade. Railways and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal said S&P has been historically more conservative. “Upward pressure on the ratings could build if the government’s reforms markedly improve its net general government fiscal outturns and so reduce the level of net general government debt,” S&P said. In January 2007, S&P had raised sovereign credit ratings on India to ‘BBB-’ with a stable outlook, from ‘BB+’. The ‘BBB’ rating is a notch above junk status. — TNS/Agencies New Delhi, November 24 Delhi Metro lost over three lakh commuters a day after a steep fare hike came into effect on October 10, an RTI query has revealed. The Metro’s daily average ridership came down to 24.2 lakh in October from 27.4 lakh in September, translating to a fall of around 11 per cent. The Blue Line (Dwarka to Noida), considered the busiest, lost over 30 lakh commuters, according to data of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). The fall, in terms of absolute numbers, was over 19 lakh on the Yellow Line, another busy corridor which connects Gurugram to north Delhi’s Samaypur Badli. The DMRC effected the fare hike on October 10, leading to Egyptians walk past bodies following a gun and bombing attack at the al-Rowda mosque, roughly 40 km west of the North Sinai capital of El-Arish, on Friday. AFP Cairo, November 24 At least 235 worshippers were killed and 109 others injured when heavily-armed militants bombed a mosque and opened fire on people attending Friday prayers in Egypt’s restive North Sinai region, in the deadliest terror attack in the country. The militants launched a targeted bomb and gun attack on the al-Rowda mosque in Al-Arish city during the Friday prayers, the state-run MENA news agency reported. After the bomb ripped through the mosque, the gunmen on four off-road vehicles opened fire on the worshippers, who tried to escape after the explosion, it said. The blasts from improvised explosive devices caused considerable damage to the mosque. Speaking to state-run Masriya TV station, health ministry spokesman Khalid Mujahid described the incident as a “terrorist attack”. One report said the target appeared to be supporters of the security forces. Local residents were quoted as saying that followers of Sufism, or Islamic mysticism, regularly gathered at the mosque. Islamist jihadist groups, including so-called Islamic State (IS), see Sufis as heretics. No one has yet claimed responsibility and there is no word yet on what happened to the militants involved. However, it bears the hallmarks of an attack by IS, reports said. There have been regular attacks blamed on militants in the Sinai Peninsula since the January 2011 revolution that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak, but this is the deadliest of its kind. The attacks targeting police and military increased after the ouster of Islamist expresident Mohamed Morsi in 2013 by the military following massive protests against his rule. Over 700 security personnel have been killed since then. The military has launched security campaigns in the area, arrested suspects and demolished houses of terrorists, including those facilitating tunnels leading to the Gaza Strip. The Egypt government has announced three days of mourning, even as President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi chaired an emergency meeting to review the security situation. Egypt has witnessed a series of terror attacks this year. On May 26, gunmen attacked a bus carrying Coptic Christians in central Egypt, killing at least 28. On April 9, two suicide bombings at churches in Alexandria and Tanta left 46 people dead. — PTI Month May June July August September October Daily ridership 28 lakh 25.7 lakh 26.6 lakh 27 lakh 27.4 lakh 24.2 lakh a rise of around Rs 10 for nearly every distance slab. This came barely five months of another hike of up to 100 per cent. The revised fare structure is: up to 2 km — Rs 10, 2 to 5 km — Rs 20, 5 to 12 km — Rs 30, 12 to 21 km — Rs 40, 21 to 32 km — Rs 50 and for journeys beyond 32 km — Rs 60. The DMRC, however, said it should be factored in that October had festival holidays and five Sundays. — PTI Re-arrest, try Hafiz for crimes: US to Pak Saeed is a ‘specially designated global terrorist’ under New Delhi, November 24 executive order 13224 of the The United States today con- US Treasury Department demned the release of Jamaat- since May 2008. In 2012, the ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed US Justice Department from house arrest and asked announced a $10 million Pakistan to ensure that the reward for actionable evimastermind of the 26/11 Mum- dence against Saeed. Howevbai attacks was arrester, LeT was recently ed again and charged de-linked from the for his crimes. Congressional certiExpressing “deep fication process for concern” over the providing aid to PakLahore High Court istan. Saeed’s detenJudicial Review tion was considered Board’s release a damage-control order, State Departmove under presHafiz Saeed ment spokesperson sure from the DonHeather Nauert said, ald Trump administration. “Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) is a New Delhi, meanwhile, has designated foreign terrorist termed Saeed’s utterances organisation responsible for after his release as “re-articuthe death of hundreds of inno- lation of the agenda of terrorcent civilians, including a ists”. Saeed said he would number of American citizens, gather people for the “cause in terrorist attacks.” of Kashmir”. Smita Sharma Tribune News Service Disappearing students, teachers in colleges Surjit Patar: As I have said earlier too, mar rahi hai meri bhasha, shabd shabd, vak vak TELL-TALE TALLY Post Total Filled Research assistant 2 Research officers 40 12 Assistant director SAVING PUNJABI - II 60 Sanjeev Singh Bariana Derailed coaches of Vasco Da Gama-Patna Express near Manikpur railway station in Uttar Pradesh on Friday. PTI 3 die as Goa-Bihar train derails in UP Lucknow, November 24 Three passengers were killed and nine others injured when 13 coaches of the Patna-bound Vasco Da Gama Express derailed at Manikpur railway station in Chitrakoot district of Bundelkhand early on Friday. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has ordered an inquiry. The accident took place at 4.22 am on platform No. 2 of the railway station where 13 coaches — S-3 to S-11, two general and three others — of Vasco Da Gama Express derailed. ADG-Allahabad Zone SN Sawat said two of the three deceased had been identified as Ram Swarup Patel and son Dipak Patel of Betia in West Champaran district of Bihar. The third passenger who succumbed to his injuries was yet to be identified. ADG-Law and Order Anand Kumar said prima facie a rupture in the tracks seemed to be the cause of the accident. The UP Government has asked the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) to probe the accident, the ADG said. Some survivors blamed the railway staff for the derailment. They alleged that they had heard “unusual sounds” from a coach after the train left the Satna railway station. They had brought it to the notice of the guard and the TTE, but to no avail. The Railway Minister has announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the family of the deceased, Rs 1 lakh for those with grievous injuries and Rs 50,000 for the injured. UP CM Yogi Adityanath also announced Rs 2 lakh for the next of kin of the deceased passengers. — TNS Chandigarh, November 24 If fewer and fewer students are opting for Punjabi in schools, can the situation be any better in Punjab’s colleges and universities? No surprises here. Not only is the percentage of students studying Punjabi literature for graduate or post-graduate degrees down by nearly half in the past decade, hiring of regular teachers for the subject in colleges has been practically nil over the past 15 years. Just as in schools, Punjabi is a mandatory subject in undergraduate classes of Punjabi University (Patiala) and Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU, Amritsar) in one or more semesters. Panjab University (PU, Chandigarh) gives the option of Punjabi or ‘Punjab history and culture’. But the key to literature is Punjabi ‘elective’, which is losing out rapidly. Punjabi University-affiliated colleges had approximately 13,725 students opting for Punjabi elective in 2007 for undergraduate studies. The figure today stands at 12,500. GNDU is down 26 12 Deputy director 6 3 Joint director Tribune News Service 2 1 1 0 A Punjabi language class in progress at Patiala’s Government Mohindra College. Additional director LANGUAGES DEPT HEADED FOR WIPE-OUT ■ Set up with an ambitious plan for promoting Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu literature in 1956, the Languages Department based in Patiala is headed for a complete closure, as 105 out of its total 135 posts have already gone from 12,425 to 12,000; and PU from 14,000 to 13,035. These figures may suggest that the drop in students is small, but that is deceptive. That is because the percentage of students out of the total taking up Punjabi elective takes a drastic hit when we take into account the fact that colleges under PU increased from 182 in 2007 to 196 today; while those under Punjabi University increased from 110 to 278. And what makes it a shockingly low percentage is the horde of private universities that have come up in the past decade, almost none of which offer Punjabi litera- vacant, with no fresh recruitments planned. ■ It has brought out no publication worth the name in several years, and mandated activities such as book exhibitions, seminars, poetic symposia, literary ture. While no compilation of the total number of students is readily available, it can be safely assumed that it has nearly doubled in the past decade, while those studying Punjabi has not increased; rather, it has gone down. As Punjabi University ViceChancellor BS Ghumman admits, the number of students of Punjabi is definitely not in keeping with the increase in the total. Money matters The reason for private colleges and universities not offering Punjabi elective is simple — students are look- Today’s issue consists of 26 pages, including four-page The Tribune Trends. contests, or awards for books have not been heard of in a long time. ■ There are currently only five ‘district language officers’ against 15 posts. At least 140 manuscripts are lying edited, but unpublished. ing only for courses that can possibly provide them jobs. And as we see, currently even the job of a Punjabi teacher is not available. Chancellor of Chandigarh University Satnam Singh Sandhu says, “There are no takers for Punjabi, so none of the private universities offer any course in the language. We did hire two teachers at one point, but had to pull out as we got only two students.” Dr Yograj Angrish, Head of the Punjabi Department at PU, points to a sad reality, “Barring a miniscule fraction, bright students just don’t want Punjabi as their first option. Prof Nahar Singh of our department and I conducted a study to find the reasons, and found that the new universities and colleges are drawing a significant share of students with their professional courses.” He recalls that his department could not find a suitable candidate for the post of professor despite two attempts in the recent past, which speaks of the quality of faculty available. Govt abdication Chairperson of the Punjab Educationists Forum, Tarsem Bahia, says, “The last time the state hired a batch of regular Punjabi teachers (229) was in 1987-88. As a result, today there are only 1,200 regular teachers in all of the state’s universities and colleges against the sanctioned strength of 5,000. In the 46 government colleges, there are only 49 regular Punjabi teachers against 251 posts. Majority of the teaching work is being handled by temporary or parttime faculty, who are paid a pittance — between Rs 12,000 and Rs 15,000. That leaves no incentive for teachers.” For the past several years, GNDU has not added a single faculty member to its strength of three, to teach a total of 300 students. continued on page 8 Bhagwat: Only RamTemple atdisputedsite Tribune News Service New Delhi, November 24 Making a strong pitch for building a grand Ram Temple on the disputed site in Ayodhya, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat today said only a temple would come up there and not any other structure. The Sangh sarsanghchalak was addressing the ‘Dharma Sansad’, a congregation of around 2,000 Hindu saints, ‘math’ heads and Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders at Udipi. Bhagwat, undisputedly among the most powerful in the saffron set-up, said there should be no ambiguity that Ram Temple would be built at Ayodhya. “We will construct it. It is not a populist declaration but a matter of our faith. Only Ram Mandir will be constructed and nothing else. It will be constructed there only,” the RSS chief said. The Babri Masjid was demolished on December 6, 1992 — about 25 years ago. “We are close to achieving our goal but at this juncture, we should be extra-cautious,” he added.
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