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President's Address on the eve of 68th Republic Day of India

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0815 HRS



  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi asks Secretaries to closely monitor progress on Ease of Doing Business based on World Bank's parameters.
  • Voting begins in 53 constituencies in the fourth phase of Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh.
  • BSF lodges protest with Pakistan Rangers over detection of trans-border tunnel along the international border in Samba sector of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • SBI says possibility of dispensing fake notes from its ATM is very remote after one such alleged incident in New Delhi.
  • Scientists discover seven earth like planet nearly 39 light years away.
  • In Cricket, First test of the four match series between India and Australia to begin in Pune Shortly.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked Secretaries of Central Government Departments and State Chief Secretaries to review the situation with regard to Ease of Doing Business. Referring to the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business” Report, he asked the officials to assess the progress based on the parameters used in the Report. Mr Modi also asked senior officials of the Central Government to review its progress on a weekly basis. More from our correspondent:

"Interacting through PRAGATI, the Prime Minister reviewed  the progress of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) and  underlined the Government’s commitment to provide Housing for All by 2022. He also asked the States to come up with strategies, time bound action plans and roadmap, and a monitoring mechanism to follow up on this goal. He called for the use of latest technology inputs to improve the pace and quality of work. The Prime Minister reviewed the progress towards handling and resolution of grievances related to telecom sector. He  emphasized the need for improving efficiency, and fixing accountability at all levels to bring about a visible change in the situation at the earliest. Anupam Mishra, AIR News Delhi."


Polling is underway for the fourth phase of Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. Voting is taking place for 53 seats spread over 12 districts of eastern UP and Bundelkhand region. These districts are Allahabad, Chitrakoot, Banda, Fatehpur, Hamirpur,  Jalaun, Jhansi, Kaushambi, Lalitpur, Mahoba, Pratapgarh and Raebareli. Voting, which began  at 7 this morning, will continue till 5 in the evening.

Elaborate arrangements have been made to ensure free and fair polling. Inter district and inter state borders have been sealed. Patrolling by security forces has been intensified in poll bound areas. Most of the polling centres are manned by Central Para Military Forces.

Now, we will go over to Shariq Noor in Jhansi for the latest update.

Q1. How is polling progressing there?

"Sanjay at present, I am standing at Hafiz Siddique National Girls Inter College polling booth of Jhansi-nagar segment. Polling is going on peacefully here. It is picking up slowly. Enthusiasm can specially be seen among women and youths. This is model booth. For identification of women in purdah and ghoonghat, at some booths women employees have been deployed. Ramps have been made for divyangs. Facilities like drinking water and sitting arrangements have been provided Sanjay. One special feature of polling in Jhansi-nagar segment is that voter verification audit trail VVPAT machine is being used here. Voter can know that his vote is polled properly or not. Over three lakh 90 thousand voters are eligible to decide the political fate of 18 candidates in Jhansi-nagar segment. Sanjay.


In Jammu & Kashmir, three soldiers were killed and five others including two officers injured in a terror attack in Moolu Chitragam area of Shopian district last night. A local woman was also killed in the crossfire.


Counting of votes for Maharashtra’s ten municipal corporations along with 25 Zilla Parishads and 283 Panchayat Samitis will begin at 10 this morning. Stakes are high for Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray, who failed to forge an alliance and accordingly led their parties in a bitter campaign. More from our correspondent:-

"An average voter turnout of 56.40 percent was recorded for ten civic bodies that went to polls on Tuesday; while an average of 69 percent was recorded for Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samiti polls. Shedding its apathy, Mumbai registered a record 55.53 percent voter turnout; fueling speculation on whether these high figures will benefit Shiv Sena or the BJP.  All preparations are in place at the 23 counting centres set up in Mumbai. It is from here, that the fate of 2,275 candidates, fighting for 227 MCGM seats will be revealed in few hours from now. Madhuri Pange, AIR News, Mumbai."


The Border Security Force, BSF, has lodged a strong protest, during a commander-level flag meeting with Pakistan Rangers, over detection of a trans-border tunnel along the the international border in the Samba sector of Jammu and Kashmir. A BSF spokesperson said, the meeting was held yesterday between a commanding officer of the BSF and a Wing Commander of the Pakistan Rangers at the International Boundary of Jammu near BoP-Octroi. He said, various issues, including the recent detection of a tunnel, firing in the Ramgarh Sector and return of J&K police constable Sohan Lal, who inadvertently crossed over to Pakistan in 2014 were discussed.

He said, other routine issues relating to management of border and maintaining of cordial relations and peace and tranquillity along the international border were also discussed.


The State Bank of India has said that the possibility of fake notes from its ATMs is very remote and it suspects involvement of some miscreants with mischievous intent. The Bank said there is a robust system in place for monitoring the quality of notes. The Bank's statement came in the wake of reports that its ATM at Sangam Vihar in Delhi dispensed fake notes of 2000 rupees on 6th of this month. It said, the investigation in the matter is underway.

A person allegedly received four notes of 2,000 rupees with "Children Bank of India" written on them. After the incident, a Sub-Inspector was also sent to the ATM to withdraw money and he also received a similar kind of fake note. A case has been registered at Sangam Vihar Police Station in the matter.


RBI Governor Urjit Patel has said that economic activity is expected to pick up in this last quarter because of faster remonetisation and return of discretionary consumer demand. In a statement made during the Monetary Policy Committee meeting earlier this month, which was made public yesterday, Dr. Patel said that shifting of monetary policy stance from accommodative to neutral will provide sufficient flexibility to move the policy rate in either direction. Dr. Patel said that data from the corporate sector also suggests that sales growth may have improved. 


The Budget session of the Kerala Legislative Assembly will commence today with the Governor's address. Finance Minister Thomas Issac will present the Budget for the financial year 2017-18 on the 3rd of next month. The session is scheduled to conclude on the 16th of March.

 The Budget session of the Bihar Assembly also begins today. The session will conclude on March 31.  


Guided missile frigate INS Betwa which suffered a mishap at the Naval dockyard in Mumbai while it was at the dry dock in December, is back on even keel. Two crew members were killed in the incident. A Defence spokesperson said that INS Betwa is back on even keel and floating like any other warship. It shall be operational before April 2018.


The stunning discovery of seven Earth-like planets orbiting a small star in the  galaxy opens up the most promising hunting ground so far for life beyond the Solar System. Researchers said, all seven roughly match the size and mass of our own planet and are almost certainly rocky, and three are perfectly perched to harbour life-nurturing oceans of water.

Most critically, their proximity to Earth and the dimness of their red dwarf star, called Trappist-1, will allow astronomers to parse each one's atmosphere in search of chemical signatures of biological activity.

Scientists said, that they have made a crucial step towards finding life out there and now they have the right target. The Trappist-1 system, a mere 39 light years distant, has the largest number of Earth-sized planets known to orbit a single star.


Vice president Hamid Ansari will wrap up his five-day tour of Rwanda and Uganda today by paying a floral tribute at the bust of the Father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi at the source of the Nile in Jinja, a town around 80 Km away from Kampala. He will also attend a meeting of the Indian diaspora in the capital city Kampala in the second half of the day.


The First match of the four match cricket Test series between India and Australia will begin in Pune today. On a fairytale 19-match unbeaten streak, India would seek extension of their incredible dominance on home turf when they clash against an aggressive opponent. The series against the Steve Smith-led side is also the fourth and last home series of the 2016-17 season for India.




  • The clash between the Left backed students group AISA and BJP affiliated ABVP at Ramjas College in the north campus of Delhi University following the cancellation of a seminar in the college in which JNU student Umar Khalid was to speak dominates the front pages of most papers. The Times of India writes " Students clash at north Campus, cops beat and threaten scribes". Pinning the blame on AISA, the Pioneer reports "AISA fights ABVP as Ramjas cancels invite to Khalid" while the Hindu points the finger at the ABVP as it writes "ABVP on the rampage against Ramjas protestors".
  • The hurly-burly of campaigning in the UP assembly elections is keenly tracked by the media. On Congress President Sonia Gandhi's absence from the election campaign, The Asian Age writes "Sonia woos voters via letter : Tells Rae Bareli - Amethi she is unable to campaign ; attacks Modi govt.". The Pioneer highlights BJP President Amit Shah's remark " UP wont develop till KASAB laid to rest" - KASAB being an acronym for Congress, Samajwadi Party and BSP.
  • All the papers draw attention to the likely impact on Indian - Americans of the Trump administration's sweeping plans for vigorously implementing immigration enforcement policies. "Trump plan could hit 3 lakh illegal Indian Americans" says the Asian Age.
  • The Supreme Court order on the Sutlej-Yamuna Link or SYL canal is prominently noticed on the front pages of most papers. The Tribune in its front page lead quotes the apex court as saying "SYL has to be built, ensure peace".



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