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 0815 HRS



  • Polling begins for 93 seats in the second and final phase of Gujarat Assembly election; 851 candidates in the fray.
  • Prime Minister to dedicate the first Scorpene-class submarine INS Kalvari to the nation in Mumbai today.  
  • Centre calls an all party meet today ahead of the Parliament  session beginning tomorrow.
  • Income Tax Department  conducts survey at nine major bitcoin exchanges  across the country on suspicion of tax evasion.
  • British Prime Minister Theresa May loses key vote on Brexit bill in Parliament after rebellion within her party.
  • US Federal Reserve raises its interest rates by 0.25 percent, projecting 2.5 percent growth for American economy in 2017-18.
  • In Badminton, PV Sindhu wins her first match at Dubai Super Series Final defeating China's He Bingjiao, Kidambi Srikanth loses on the opening day.


Polling has begun for the second and final phase of Assembly elections in Gujarat. Voting is taking place in 93 constituencies in this phase. Voting, which began at 8 AM, will end at 5 in the evening. Over 2 crore 22 lakh voters, including one crore 7 lakh women, are eligible to exercise their franchise. The fate of 851 candidates will be decided in this phase. The BJP has fielded 93 candidates, and the Congress has fielded 91. Prominent candidates include Deputy Chief Minister and BJP candidate Nitin Patel and Alpesh Thakor of Congress. A three tier security arrangement has been made to ensure smooth conduct of polls. More than 100 companies of paramilitary forces, apart from state police, have been deployed.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi has urged voters of Gujarat to vote in record numbers today. In a tweet, Mr Modi appealed to all the Gujarati people to take an active part in the festival of democracy and take democratic traditions to a new height.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi will dedicate to the nation the naval submarine INS Kalvari, the first of the Scorpene-class submarines today. The commissioning ceremony will be held at the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai, which will be attended by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba and top defence officials. More from our correspondent:

"Submarine INS Kalvari represents a significant success for the Make in India initiative. It is the first of six such submarines that will be inducted into the Indian Navy. The project has been undertaken with French collaboration. INS Kalvari is a diesel-electric attack submarine that has been built for the Indian Navy by the Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited. The officials said Kalvari underwent around 120 days of extensive sea trials and tests for various equipments and the vessel is expected to bolster India's maritime prowess. The first Kalvari, commissioned on 8th December 1967, was also the first submarine of the Indian Navy. SWEETY JAIN, AIR NEWS, MUMBAI."


The Government has convened an all party meeting today, ahead of the Winter Session of Parliament beginning tomorrow. During the meeting the government will seek cooperation of political parties to ensure smooth functioning of both the Houses of Parliament. More from our correspondent: 

"Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan has called a meeting of floor leaders of different political parties today evening to discuss smooth functioning of the House. Earlier, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar had sought cooperation from all political parties to make the session fruitful. Important Bills including on Triple Talaq and constitutional status to the Backward Class Commission are expected to be taken up for passage during the session. The leaders of key opposition parties are also meeting  today to work out their floor strategy to  corner the government on several issues during the session. The session which will continue till the 5th of next month, will have 14 sittings. With SOUVAGYA KAR, ANUPAM MISHRA, AIR NEWS, DELHI."


President Ram Nath Kovind will present the National Energy Conservation Awards in New Delhi today on the occasion of National Energy Conservation day. Industries that have demonstrated measurable reductions in their energy use will be awarded during the event. The President will also present the National Painting Competition Prizes. This year, over 1 crore 22 lakh children across India between the 4th and 9th standards participated in the National Painting Competition.


A Special CBI court will pronounce today the quantum of punishment for former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda and other convicts in a coal scam case. The court, yesterday, convicted Koda and former coal secretary HC Gupta in the case. Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar also convicted former chief secretary of Jharkhand AK Basu and private company Vini Iron Steel Udyog Ltd (VISUL). They have been found guilty of varying offences including criminal conspiracy pertaining to irregularities in allocation of the Rajhara North coal block in Jharkhand to the Kolkata-based VISUL. The Special Court however, acquitted four other accused including VISUL's Director of all charges.


A Constitution bench of the Supreme Court will start hearing today a bunch of petitions seeking stay on the government's decision to make Aadhaar mandatory for availing benefits under various social welfare schemes as well as its linkage to bank accounts and mobile phone connections. The bench is headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra.

Meanwhile, the government yesterday extended the deadline for submission of Aadhaar number, and Permanent Account Number or Form 60 for certain financial transactions like opening of a bank account till the 31st of March next year.


The Income Tax Department has conducted surveys at major bitcoin exchanges across the country on suspicion of alleged tax evasion. Official sources said, the department detected several lakh entries of high-networth individuals (HNIs) in their databases. Operations were conducted at nine major exchanges in Delhi, Ghaziabad, Gurugram, Pune, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kochi yesterday. Entries of HNIs suggest that they were trading on these exchanges. The trigger for the action is understood to be the huge spike being registered in the value of the bitcoins and other virtual currencies in the recent past in the country.

A huge amount of black money converted into white, post demonetisation, by using bitcoins is also under the scanner of the department. Bitcoin, a virtual currency, is not regulated in the country and its circulation has been a cause for concern among central bankers around the world.


The winter session of Uttar Pradesh State Legislature will begin today. The supplementary demands for the current financial year will be presented on the 18th of December in both the houses of legislature. The government has also announced that it will the bring UP Control of Organised Crime Act bill (UPCOCA) during the session. It was passed by the State Cabinet yesterday. About seven ordinances including Prayagraj Mela Authority ordinance are expected to be passed during the session.


The Met department has predicted rain in the Kashmir Valley and snowfall in the upper mountainous regions of Jammu and Kashmir during the next 12 hours. Yesterday, 24 flights were cancelled due to poor visibility at Srinagar airport. The higher reaches and different parts of Ladakh region received fresh snowfall yesterday. The Leh-Srinagar national highway has been closed for vehicular traffic since the 10th of December.

The Jammu-Srinagar national highway will remain open for one way traffic from Jammu towards Srinagar today.


In Internatioanl News,

British Prime Minister Theresa May lost a key vote on the Brexit bill in the UK Parliament yesterday after a rebellion within the ranks of her own party. The British Prime Minister was defeated on an amendment to the European Union Withdrawal Bill by four votes. MPs from different parties voted to give Parliament a legal guarantee of a vote on the final Brexit deal struck with Brussels. The government had argued this would jeopardise its chances of delivering a smooth departure from the EU. Despite a last-minute attempt to offer concessions to rebels, an amendment to the bill was backed by 309 to 305.


The US Federal Reserve has raised its interest rates by 0.25 percent, the third rate rise this year. Policymakers at the US central bank said, the move, which was widely expected, underscores solid gains in the US economy. Officials also boosted their economic forecasts, projecting 2.5 percent growth in GDP in 2017 and 2018. The Fed said, it expects to make three further increases in rates next year, unchanged from its previous forecast. The Fed is targeting a range of 1.25 percent to 1.5 percent for its benchmark rate. Officials also said they believe interest rates are on track to exceed 2 percent in 2018.


The United Nations has warned that waste from discarded electronics like mobile phones, laptops and refrigerators is piling up worldwide, and urged for better recycling of the hazardous rubbish. A report by UN's International Telecommunication Union, the UN University and the International Solid Waste Association said, over 44 million tonnes of e-waste was generated around the world last year which was eight percent up from two years earlier. It said, by 2021, the world will likely be cluttered with a full 52 million tonnes of such waste.


In Badminton,

Olympic silver-medalist PV Sindhu made a positive start to her campaign at the Dubai Super Series Final defeating China's He Bingjiao, 21-11, 16-21, 21-18 in a Group A match of the Women's Singles yesterday. Sindhu will face Japan's Sayaka Sato this evening in the next encounter. However, in a Group B Men's singles match, India's Kidambi Srikanth suffered a  loss to defending champion Viktor Axelsen. Srikanth will take on Chinese Taipei's Chou Tien Chen today. There are eight players in each category, who have been divided into two groups in this tournament.



  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address at a meeting of industry body FICCI dominates front page headlines. The Indian Express quotes the Prime Minister as saying "NPA is biggest scam, UPA looted public money for corporates". The Economic Times reports "Prime minister also dismisses rumours about FRDI Bill putting depositors at risk".
  • The Election Commission notice to Congress President Elect Rahul Gandhi regarding an interview aired on some television channels ahead of the second phase of polling in the Gujarat assembly elections gets wide traction in the press. The Asian Age reports "EC notice to Rahul for Gujarat interview : Told to respond by December 18". The Pioneer writes "Rahul's interview kicks up a storm : EC orders FIR against TV channels ; Book PM for FICCI speech says Congress".
  • An order passed by the National Green Tribunal has evoked opposition from some quarters . The Hindustan Times reports " NGT bans religious hymns, slogans at Amarnath shrine : Hindu groups fume".
  • Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi's letter to the Hindi film fraternity including producers, film makers and actors is widely noticed in the press. The DNA reports "Maneka tells Bollywood to enforce law against sexual harassment".
  • All the papers take note of the conviction of Madhu Koda, former Chief Minister of Jharkhand in the coal block allocation scam. The Indian Express reports "CBI court holds ex-CM Koda, ex-Coal Secretary guilty".
  • The Hindustan Times has published an interview with Railway Minister Piyush Goyal. The paper writes "Like air tickets, dynamic fares for train travel soon; passengers may pay less during off season or when trains arent fully booked".".
  • And finally, imagine surfing the web high in the skies. This may soon become a reality. "Wi-Fi in Indian skies : Telecome Regulatory Authority of India rules in 15 days".


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