Govt to set up committee to study corporatisation of Ordnance Factory Board


The Government is set to form a high level committee to examine the aspects of corporatisation of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and work out the modalities, defence sources said while rejecting apprehensions from employees that there is an attempt at privatisation.

“A high-level committee will study the issue and take a call on what needs to be done,” a senior source said. It will be a political call on how to go about.

The Kolkata-headquartered OFB with 41 factories spread across the country functions under the Department of Defence Production. Due to this every decision and action needs the approval of the Cabinet, officials said. For instance, in 2001 the OFB was to set up a plant at Nalanda in Bihar to manufacture bi-modular charges for the Army with initial investment of around ₹800 crore, which went up to ₹2,000 crore later. But the plant has not been set up till date, the source said.

On the contrary the Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSU) do not have such hassles and have been establishing joint ventures and partnerships for technology development and other things. “At the current rate and in the present model OFB has no future,” the source said, and added that today there is “no accountability and result orientation” and the need is to move to a system of accountability on the lines of DPSUs. The total support to OFB is around ₹6,500 crore both from indents from the Army and direct budgetary support.

Alleging moves to privatise the OFB, three recognised Defence Federations under the OFB have launched a month-long strike from August 20. There are about 82,000 employees in OFB of which around 46,000 are industrial employees who went on strike, sources said. “As of now the strike is not worrisome. The Defence Ministry is in continuous discussions with them,” another official said.

In the last few years, several measures have been undertaken to augment capacity and increase production of the factories under the OFB. At least 20 cases of capital upgradation were cleared in last few years, the official added.

This is not for the first time, though, that corporatisation of ordnance factories is being considered. There have been recommendations by various committees and several attempts over the last two decades but there has been no progress.

Bihar: Ailing mother tries to sell sick children


After a chilling case of two kids being sold by their poor mother due to her inability to treat them and herself of tuberculosis came to light, the local administration has admitted all of them in a hospital and they are being taken care off.

District Magistrate Yogendra Singh said as soon as the matter was reported by the media, the authorities were immediately rushed to take care of the matter. “We have a special ward in the hospital for malnourished children and have sent their samples to exactly determine the disease. Proper care of the mother and her kids are being taken,” said Singh.

Sonam, a resident of Kalyan Bigha of Harnaut block, was abandoned by her husband after she and the kids fell sick. Unable to deal with her condition, she decided to sell her two children for Rs 50,000 for her treatment. When media personnel came to know about this, they informed the DM. The DM immediately took cognizance of this and made arrangements for proper treatment of the three.

Singh informed that the medicines in the hospital are free of charge and if medicines are needed to be ordered from outside, financial assistance will be provided. 

The DM summoned the Civil Surgeon and Deputy Superintendent of Nalanda and directed them of treating the woman without any kind of leniency. At the same time, he also directed the immunization team to conduct a survey to identify those who are suffering from TB-like illness and initiate their treatment.

Tomb of Kashmir’s last Muslim ruler lies in ruins at Nalanda


With the Centre revoking Article 370 which gave special status to J&K, the Kashmir Valley is once again in focus. But Yusuf Shah Chak. the last independent Muslim ruler of the Valley, has remained obscured and unknown for a long time.

Chak is buried in Nalanda and his tomb is in disrepair and unprotected.

Chak was exiled to Bihar by the Mughal emperor Akbar. The area where he had settled along with his family and relatives in Biswak village in Nalanda and also maintained a cavalry force of 500 horses, was later known as Kashmiri Chak. Though the exiled Kashmiri ruler died in Odisha in 1592, his body was brought to Bihar and has been lying buried along with the tombs of his wife, sons and other relatives at the graveyard at Biswak near Kashmiri Chak.

Though his Mazaar is encircled with boundary wall, the land outside this wall at the cemetery is open and has remained prone to encroachments in the past. Some concrete structures and thatched roof hutments too have come up around its periphery.

Earlier, some locals erected a boundary wall around his Mazaar, but the entire area of the cemetery outside this wall is open to encroachment.

Recently, Yasir Iqbal, a descendant of the Chak ruler’s relative, wrote a letter to the Minority Welfare Department, Bihar, drawing the attention towards the increasing threats of encroachments at the site of the cemetery .

He has made an appeal to take steps to stop encroachment and has also requested for the boundary wall at the cemetery. In the letter, Iqbal also made requests to preserve this piece of history and to take initiatives to tap tourism potential of the site.

“The minority welfare department has forwarded the request letter to the department concerned which is responsible for creating the boundary walls at graveyards and has directed to take actions as necessary,” SI Faisal, special secretary cum director, minority welfare department, said.

The site has a great tourism potential and it can be tapped. “But it’s the domain of the tourism department. They should take initiatives in this direction and should develop it,” he said.

Yasir Iqbal said many Kashmiris have been eager to come here to pay tribute to their last ruler. “Many intellectuals have also been coming here, but the place lack even basic infrastructure. Even the road to Kashmiri Chak village was developed in 1977 when Sheikh Abdulla, the prominent leader of Kashmir had arrived to witness Yusuf Shah’s tomb” he said. There is also no place at the village to stay. “You have to find the accommodation whether at Islampur or at Rajgir,” he said.

However, the biggest concern has been encroachment of the land. “The cemetery is spread over five acre land area at Biswak and over one acre land at Kashmiri Chak. But the tombs of Yusuf Shah, his wife and sons for decades remained unknown. There was almost a jungle around it and the tombs were hardly visible. Then we got it constructed a few years ago. But the area outside is still open and is being encroached inch by inch. Some concrete structures and thatched roof hutments have also come up on its border areas,” he said.

Yusuf Shah Chak ruled Kashmir from 1579 to 1586. In 1579 he was deceitfully imprisoned by the Mughal emperor Akbar, but was later released and was exiled to Biswak area of Bihar.

“He had a Mansabdaari of 500 horses. In fact, his love and knowledge of art and literature had impressed Mughal Badshaah and that became the reason for his release. He had married Habba Khatoon, the legendary poetess whose verses are still sung by the locals in Kashmir,” he said.

IIT grads cannot be selling detergents: Pranab


New Delhi, Aug 4 Former President Pranab Mukherjee has said that the country needs its graduates from premier institutions such as IITs to serve larger purposes rather than advance the sales of detergents at large multinationals.

“We require the talent of an IIT graduate for better purposes, than advancing the sale of detergents at any of the large multinationals. That job can be done by anybody. But surely the talent, knowledge and merit of an IIT graduate isn”t required for that,” Mukherjee said.

Speaking at the 10th edition of the Indian Management Conclave here on Saturday, the former President laid emphasis on the need to promote basic research in the country.

He cited the example of the first year of his Presidency when at the convocation of one IIT he asked the Director whether he knew of any student who had dedicated his life for basic research or education. “The Director fumbled and replied he is not sure.”

India has led the excellence in education for more than 1,800 years from 6th century BC to 12th century AD with universities such as Takshshila, Nalanda and Vikramshila, Mukherjee said.

“We don”t want that every year thousands of students go abroad for higher studies. Rather I want the traffic should reverse, like it used to happen for over 1,800 years. Till Nalanda and Vikramshila were destroyed, India was leading in the field of higher education.”

Mukherjee said he was proud of the country”s IIT graduates.

“India has a brand name. Beginning from the first five-year plan to the 12th five-year plan, we built huge infrastructure in higher education. More than 1,000 universities, 36,000 colleges, increase in number of IITs from eight to 16, 30 NITs, scores of IIScs and also the management institutions,” he said.

“But unfortunately in over 70 years from 1933, there has been no Nobel laureate who is doing basic research work in any Indian university. It is not the question of lack of talent, but ambience or the environment where students are encouraged for basic research. This is the most pertinent thing in education,” he added.

Citing the example of former Chief Justice of India Sudhir Ranjan Das, Mukherjee said that he used to take classes for school students.

The former President said the country needed teachers who helped students in fostering research.

He cited the example of the legendary Vashishtha Narayan Singh, a mathematician who obtained a PhD from the University of Berkeley despite being poor due to the encouragement from his teachers.

“I would urge the teachers and faculty members to build such excellence,” he said.

Mukherjee added that in general ratings globally, hardly any Indian university found a place in top 200. “It is not that Indian universities are not competent, but there are certain technicalities that are followed by others which are not followed by us.”

Mukherjee said: “The world is going to be a global village, and we all will be the residents of that global village. We need to equip ourselves for the global economy by updating our skills. We have to find out new skills, new technologies and new methods that can help in advancement of society.

“India is going to be the largest economy but I don”t want that economy to be stagnant.”

New Education Policy, the way to Nalanda, Takshasila glory, says VP Shri Naidu


New Delhi: Expressing concern over India’s slide from the heights of Nalanda and Takshasila to not being among the world’s top 100 educational institutions now, the Vice President of India and Chairman of Rajya Sabha, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu has said that the New Educational Policy will make India a global educational hub. He urged the public to give their views and suggestions on the draft NEP by the stipulated time of 15th of this month.

Shri Naidu further called for a holistic and value-based education that will lay strong foundations for the vibrant economy that India is emerging as. He spoke on the challenges to Indian education after releasing a book ‘The Dynamics of Indian Education’ authored by Prof. J.S. Rajput at the Vice President’s residence, here today.

The Vice President said; “These are the critical times for the country and there is a need for having a fresh look at the education system. I have been consistently advocating the need for revamping the education system to not only make our universities world-class, but to make India the knowledge hub. I am glad that the draft of the New Education Policy makes several out of the box suggestions that have the potential to turn India into a global education hub.”

Shri Naidu stressed that primary education shall be in the mother tongue which enables learning other languages effectively at later stages. Highlighting the knowledge traditions of India, he referred to several German Universities promoting Sanskrit to decipher ancient palm leaves and scriptures for clues for scientific innovation.

Former Union Minister Shri Arif Mohammad Khan who spoke on the occasion said that the land of India for ages is marked by the tradition of knowledge and wisdom. He referred to Prophet Mohammad as having said; “Sitting in Mecca, I am feeling the cool breeze of Knowledge from India. I am an Arab without Arabness; I am not an Indian but feel the Indianness.”

Prof. Rajput, former Secretary-General of Lok Sabha, Shri Subhash Kashyap and Chairman of Prasar Bharti, Shri A. Surya Prakash spoke on various aspects of Indian Education.

Following is the text of Vice President’s address:

“I am immensely pleased to release the book “The Dynamics of Indian Education” written by well-known educationist, Prof Rajput.

The book covers a whole gamut of issues relating to Indian education system and I must compliment the author for this timely work on a topic that is very close to my heart.

As we all are aware, India has a rich history, tradition and culture of education system from Vedic times. The Gurukul system of imparting knowledge and skills used to focus on holistic development of individuals. Education of women was also accorded huge importance during ancient times and there were well-known women scholars during the Vedic period.

In fact, India was once known as Vishwaguru because of its world class centres of learning like Takshashila, Pushpagiri, Nalanda and others. It was stated that around 10,000 students, including many from foreign shores used to study diverse subjects at Takshashila.

India contributed not only in philosophy and spirituality, but in sciences, mathematics, astronomy and other areas. The objective was “welfare of one and all – Sarva Bhut Hite Ratah”

Subsequently, following foreign invasions and the colonial rule, India lost its pre-eminent position. Today, one finds that not a single Indian university figures in the top-ranking global educational institutions.

These are the critical times for the country and there is a need for having a fresh look at the education system. I have been consistently advocating the need for revamping the education system to not only make our universities world class, but to make India the knowledge and innovation hub.

We need to recapture the past glory. Our education system must remain deeply rooted to culture, while simultaneously steadfastly pursuing new frontiers of knowledge.

Undoubtedly, our post-Independence achievements in education are praiseworthy. We have near total enrolment in schools in spite of over-threefold increase in population!

The recent launch of Chandrayaan -2 and other remarkable achievements in space sciences have unveiled before the world the Indian tradition for the quest of knowledge. It inspires and motivates young Indians and our scientists deserve all the praise for making us proud. Elsewhere, Indians working at NASA and Silicon Valley have made the country proud with their contributions.

I feel that the need of the hour is to provide quality education at all levels to all people. I am glad that the draft of the New Education Policy makes several out-of-box suggestions that have the potential to turn India into a Global education Hub. With the draft report placed for another round of receiving inputs, I hope that many more suggestions would come forth to make Indian universities achieve their rightful place in the global rankings.

I must however, mention that in our march towards a knowledge society, we need to strengthen our school education on priority basis. In particular, special attention has to be bestowed to improve government schools.

We must reform the education system to do away with rote learning. We need to promote concept learning, critical thinking, creativity, problem solving skills as also multilingualism and digital literacy to enable the students to confidently face challenges and successfully pursue their careers.

I need not once again enumerate the importance of teaching in mother tongue from a young age. In fact, I have consistently been advocating the need to make it mandatory for mother tongue to be the medium of instruction up to primary level.

I am told that some of the top universities in Germany teach Sanskrit to enable the scholars of the subject decipher ancient palm leafs and scriptures and find clues for scientific innovation. We should not neglect Sanskrit. I feel that no language should be imposed, nor any language opposed.

Teachers are the pivot of national educational endeavors. We need best of the minds in teaching profession. Once in the profession they need to internalize “yavadjeevait adhiyate viprah” – the wise continue to gain knowledge throughout life.

Teachers should be torchbearers of the society. I am told that there are around 1 crore teachers and 30 crore students from KG to PG level in the country. Filling up all the vacant positions of teachers is equally important to make our education effective.

Teachers play the most crucial role in shaping the character of a child after his or her parents. Therefore, teachers should have societal concerns. We must develop a model of education that reflects Indian culture and ethos. We need to inculcate cultural, moral, ethical and spiritual values among children.

I hope the new educational policy will address various concerns on reforming the system and fulfill the need for India-centric education architecture. The draft policy should be studied with an open mind. People should give constructive suggestions rather than criticize it for the sake of criticism.

We need education for progress and development. Probably more than that, we need Education for Character Development. Value based education that prepares the young for an India that abounds in ‘social cohesion and religious amity’ is our goal.

The book practically covers all the aspects mentioned by me. Prof. Rajput strongly pleads for value education, character formation and celebration of unity in diversity. I wish him well in his efforts.

Human organs available in India like peanuts: YSRCP MP


New Delhi , July 31 : A Rajya Sabha MP on Wednesday raised concerns over the availability of human organs like peanuts and urged the government to penalize those involved in such rackets with death penalty.

“Despite successive governments’ efforts to stop illegal organ trade, India has become one of the biggest countries for organ trade, as also the cheapest too, in the world. It is available like peanuts,” YSRCP’s Prabhakar Reddy said in Rajya Sabha during Zero Hour.

He said the organs like kidney, liver and heart are easily available and the government should take it seriously so that it could be stopped.

“Otherwise, amend the legislation in such a way that whoever is involved in this, including doctors, the middle-men and the hospital staff. It needs severe penalties which goes up to the death penalty be imposed on those involved in these rackets. I hope that the government would amend the legislation in such a way that it is stopped,” he said.

BJP’s Gopal Narayan Singh demanded that the name of Bakhtiyarpur railway station should be changed to either Rajgir or Nalanda, as it was named after Bakhtiyar Khilji, who was an invader and destroyer.

“It’s a blot on Bihar. It should be removed,” Singh said.

Bakhtiyarpur station connects Bihar’s historical places like Nalanda, Rajgir, Pavapuri and Biharsharif. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was born in Bakhtiyarpur.

Trinamool Congress’ Manas Ranjan Bhunia urged the central government to reduce the percentage of disability from 80 per cent to 50 per cent and provide all possible help, including financial help to physically challenged and handicapped male and female.

“They need active support of the central and state governments. At present, the standing rules and directions are that if any physically challenged person does not have 80 per cent of incapability, then such a person would not get any help from the central government. This has created a serious situation when most of the physically challenged are not getting any support,” he said.

“This situation demands a serious look and thought by the central government to reduce the percentage of disability from 80 per cent to 50 per cent,” he said.

CPI-M’s E Kareem sought for recognizing person working in central government’s schemes as workers.

“More than one crore workers engaged in different schemes of the central government, such as Anganwadi, ASHA, SSA, Mid-Day Meal Scheme. Most of them are women and coming from very poor sections of society. They are getting a meagre remuneration in the name of honorarium.”

“There is a long pending demand to recognize them as workers. The 45th Session of the Indian Labour Conference had recommended to recognize them as workers and extend social security and other benefits and not to privatize this sector. But, this recommendation has not been implemented so far. The government should implement the recommendation of the 45th Indian Labour Conference,” he said. 

BJP Demands Name Change Of Bihar Railway Station To Nalanda Or Rajgir



A BJP member today made a demand in Rajya Sabha to name the Bakhtiyarpur Railway Station in Bihar after famous Buddhist tourist spots, saying it was a matter of concern that oppressor Bakhtiyar Khalji who destroyed Nalanda University was still being glorified.

Gopal Narayan Singh (BJP) demanded that Railways immediately change the name of Bakhtiyarpur Railway Station to Nalanda or Rajgir, saying Khalji had destroyed the world-famed Nalanda University and killed 2,000 to 3,000 Buddhist monks.

He said the magnitude of destruction could be gauged from the fact that books of the university kept burning for two to three years.

He said burnt books are still being recovered in fresh excavations in 6 km area around the university and the government should immediately remove the name of the oppressor from all such places.

Raising another issue, Prashant Nanda (BJD) demanded a masterplan for conservation and protection of world famous Konark Temple in Odihsa, a UNESCO heritage site.

Samir Oraon (BJP) raised the issue of neglect of tribals even after over 70 years of Independence and demanded that a separate autonomous university for tribals be set up in Jharkhand.

One CRPF jawan killed in IED blast triggered by Naxals in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar district


Raipur: A CRPF jawan was killed in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast triggered by Naxals in Bastar district of Chhattisgarh on Wednesday, officials said.

The blast took place around 6 am near a camp of 195th battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) at Pushpal in Bastar when one of its patrolling teams was returning after an anti-Naxal operation, a senior police officer told PTI.

The force had launched the operation on Tuesday night in the forests along the border of Bastar and Dantewada districts, he said.

A constable-rank jawan, Raushan Kumar (23), a native of Bihar’s Nalanda district, was killed in the blast. It was triggered as he accidentally stepped on the IED when the team was passing through a road construction site near Bodli village, the officer said.

The constable’s body was taken to the Pushpal camp from where it will be shifted to his battalion headquarters in Dantewada’s Barsoor, he said.

A search operation is underway in the area where the blast took place, he said.

Indian-American adoptive father of Sherin Mathews begins life sentence


The Indian-American foster father of 3-year-old Sherin Mathews, sentenced to life in prison for the death of the toddler who was found dead in a culvert in 2017, has begun serving the jail term in Dallas.

In a case that attracted much international attention, Wesley Mathews (39), pleaded guilty on June 24 to a lesser charge of injury to a child in Sherin’s tragic death.

He was originally charged with capital murder by authorities in the US state of Texas after they discovered Sherin’s highly decomposed body after a massive search that lasted 15 days.

On Thursday, Dallas County Sheriff officials said that Mathews was transferred from Dallas County jail to state prison at around 12:58 AM Thursday.

A Dallas County jury heard the case, and Mathews was sentenced to life in prison in Sherin’s death on June 26.

Mathews has since filed another appeal in the case asking for a new sentencing trial. His attorney alleges photos of Sherin’s body were “prejudicial”.

“Jurors expressed visible emotion when shown the exhibits,” defence attorney Brook Busbee wrote in the appeal.

The appeal also claims that evidence of prior injuries on Sherin’s body “prejudiced the jury”. The court filing said that those injuries cannot be linked to Mathews.

The father had reported Sherin missing after he put her outside October 7, 2017, because she wouldn’t drink her milk. Her badly decomposed body was found 15 days later in a culvert.

Prosecutors argued Mathews hid his crime, making it impossible to determine exactly what happened to the girl because of how badly decomposed her body was.

Mathews testified that his daughter choked on her milk and that he wrapped her body in a trash bag because he wanted “to do something nice” for her.

Sherin’s adoptive mother, Sini Mathews, was also criminally charged after the child’s body was found, but that case was later dismissed after the Dallas County District Attorney said there was not enough evidence to prosecute.

Mathews and his wife Sini Mathews, both hailing from Kerala, adopted Sherin from an orphanage in Bihar’s Nalanda district in 2016.

Police charged Sherin’s foster mother Sini with child abandonment in November 2017, after Mathews told officials that the couple left the toddler alone the night of her death while they went to dinner with their biological daughter.

Sini’s case was dismissed in March this year after prosecutors said they could not prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.

Sherin’s death attracted the attention of the Indian government and then External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj took keen interest in the case and also instructed the Indian mission in Houston to make sure that the Indian toddler received justice. India revoked the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) immigration status of Wesley and Sini after Sherin’s death.

The government further tightened the adoption process after Sherin’s tragic death.

Bihar woman claims she was abducted, confined and gang-raped for seven days


Patna: A woman from Bihar has claimed that she was kidnapped, held hostage and gang-raped by a group of men in the state’s Nalanda district. In her complaint, the woman alleged that she was abducted by an acquaintance who managed to get her out of her husband’s home on the pretext of taking her to her parents’ home by deceiving her into believing that her father was unwell.

The woman, who got married about two months ago, claimed that she was abducted on July 16. A man known to her arrived at her husband’s home and told the complainant that her father was unwell. The accused then offered to drop her off at her parental home. After she took up the offer, she was taken to a residence where she was held hostage for a total of seven days and gang-raped by four men.

In her complainant, the woman further claimed that the accused also stole her jewellery and cash. On July 23, she managed to flee her captors and reached her husband’s home. She then narrated her ordeal before the police in Rahui who registered an FIR on the basis of her complaint. An investigation into the matter is underway by personnel attached with the Ghoswari police station. The survivor has identified one of the accused by name. More details are awaited as this is a developing story and the matter is under active investigation.

A similar incident has come to light from Samastipur where a woman has alleged that she was abducted and gang-raped by six men. The complainant also told police that the accused recorded illicit videos of her and the same are doing rounds on social media. The woman’s husband works in New Delhi and rushed back to his home in Bihar after the matter was brought to his attention.

Officials with the Hasanpur police station in Samastipur district arrested three people in connection with the alleged gang-rape of the 35-year-old woman. A preliminary investigation by police had revealed that she was going to meet her sister-in-law when she was abducted and taken to an isolated farm where she was gang-raped by six men. They even gagged her with a cloth to ensure that the sound of her screams does not alert locals. The accused were reportedly booked under sections 376 and 362 of the Indian Penal Code along with section 66E of the Information Technology (IT) Act.