Get Wired 5/8: Citizenship for Migrants, Substandard Food, Whistleblowers in the Open, and More

Citizenship on the cards for people displaced by religious persecution

A YouTube screengrab of the boats carrying refugee Rohingyas from Myanmar.

A YouTube screengrab of the boats carrying refugee Rohingyas from Myanmar.

The Union Home Ministry is set to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, to grant citizenship to undocumented migrants who fled religious persecution in Pakistan and Bangladesh. This is a move that will have far-reaching implications in Assam and some parts of northwest India. The migrants include people from various religious communities that fled their original homes in fear of persecution. Sources have confirmed that a Bill is on its way to amend the Act and make changes to some provisions in the Foreigners Act, 1946, the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920, and the Passport (Entry into India) Rules, 1950. The External Affairs Ministry has cautioned the Home Ministry that the move could hurt India’s relations with its neighbours.

Floods derail two trains, 21 killed

Location of Harda, near where the accident happened.

Location of Harda, near where the accident happened.

Two express trains derailed into a river in Madhya Pradesh overnight after floodwater weakened the tracks. This killed 20 people and injured 100, the government said on Wednesday. Twelve coaches of the Kamayani Express to Varanasi from Mumbai derailed near Harda in Madhya Pradesh just before midnight. Six coaches of the Janata Express derailed around the same time, the railway ministry said. The head of the railway board, A.K. Mittal, however told reporters a flash flood struck the area just minutes before the trains came through, disturbing the tracks: “Ten minutes back at this spot, train movement was normal. There was no problem.”

Suspension of Cong MPs unites Opposition

The suspension of 25 Congress MPs today united the opposition in parliament and furthered the confrontation with the government. The Congress said it would not relent till its demands on the resignation of the three BJP leaders are met. Boycotting parliament in protest against the suspension of its MPs, Congress was backed by other opposition parties including SP, RJD, Trinamool Congress and the Left. Protests were staged against the Speaker’s action described by Sonia Gandhi as a “murder of democracy”.

Step by step guide to Obama’s Power Plan

Pollution. Photo by Billy Wilson, CC 2.0

Pollution. Photo by Billy Wilson, CC 2.0

The EPA is giving each state an individual goal for cutting power-plant emissions. States will be their own judge of how to get there. They can switch from coal to natural gas, expand renewables or nuclear, boost energy efficiency, enact carbon pricing… the choice is theirs entirely. States just have to submit their plans by 2016-2018, start cutting by 2022 at the latest, and continue cutting through 2030. If states refuse to submit a plan, the EPA will impose its own federal plan, which could involve some sort of cap-and-trade program. Simple enough. Why then must the plan be 1,560 pages in length? Curious about the details? Here’s a guide.

Food Ministry says it does not have the funds to make subsidy payments to FCI

The food ministry doesn’t have enough money to make food subsidy payments to the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and faces a shortfall of Rs.26,529 crore this year, due to inadequate allocation in the Union budget, the ministry said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday. It added that it is considering raising Rs.40, 000 crore by issuing bonds to Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) to pay FCI dues of Rs.50,730 crore from last year (2014-15), as previously reported in June.

Was former UK PM a child abuser?

Former British Prime Minister Edward Heath, who died in 2005, is the subject of child sex abuse investigations. The child abuse controversy grew on Tuesday as it emerged that at least five police forces were running investigations into the late former prime minister. Detectives in Wiltshire, London, Jersey, Kent and Hampshire are now known to be examining claims that the former Tory leader was a pedophile, including an allegation that he raped a 12-year-old boy. Heath’s political heydays were in the 1970s.

FICCI Tests show that over 4 lakh students are receiving substandard food in schools

15564.jharkhand-eggSubstandard mid-day meals are being provided to almost four lakh students in the 589 schools run by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), according to some tests conducted by the FICCI Research and Analysis Centre (FICCI RAC). For over a year-and-a-half, the Centre has been conducting these tests for the SDMC on a monthly basis. The most recent test results, available for the period between January and March this year, have revealed that the calorific value of a rice and daal meal is 134kcal/100 gram. The calorific value is supposed to be 450 kcal/100 gram, according to officials. The samples also fall short in protein value.

Cuba offers free sex change surgeries and government-sanctioned pride marches

Cuba, the socialist island nation and Cold War foe of the US, has made efforts to present itself as a Latin American bastion for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual (LGBT) individuals in the past decade. Cuba’s constitution bans “any form of discrimination harmful to human dignity”, and gender reassignment surgeries have been made available under its national healthcare, free of charge, since 2008.

NSA Ajit Doval talks about punching appropriately

NSA Ajit Doval.

NSA Ajit Doval.

Delivering the 21st Lalit Doshi Memorial Lecture on ‘State Security, Statecraft and Conflict of Values’ in Mumbai, a day after he oversaw the signing of a peace accord with Naga insurgents, Doval said: “India has a mentality to punch below its weight. We should not punch below our weight or above our weight, but improve our weight and punch proportionately”.  During a question and answer session later, he rejected theories that Yakub Memon had been executed because the government could not apprehend his brother Tiger Memon. “It is not this or that,” Doval said, “Tiger Memon is a standalone. And Yakub Memon is a standalone.”

Australian court blocks Adani’s coal mine project

Gautam Adani

Gautam Adani

An Australian court revoked the approval of Indian firm Adani’s massive coalmine project that environmentalists say threatens the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef. While environment groups hailed the decision over what would be one of the world’s biggest mines as another important step in the AUS$16.5-billion (US$12.2-billion) project’s eventual demise, Indian firm Adani insisted it would go ahead. Environmental groups had challenged the government’s approval of the mine on the basis of the enormous amount of greenhouse gases it would create, its impact on vulnerable species and Adani’s “poor environmental record”.

Amendments made to the Whistleblowers Act by current government

The Cabinet note on Whistleblowers Protection Bill, accessed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, reveals that the BJP government introduced certain exemptions to the legislation arguing that citizens cannot have an absolute right to make disclosures about wrongdoing. The amendment Bill, passed by Lok Sabha in the Budget session, had faced the ire of Opposition parties as it introduced 10 categories of exemptions including deliberations of the Council of Ministers, a breach of privilege of legislatures.