QBullet: MHA Authorises 10 Agencies to Monitor Computers & More

1. All Computers Now Under Government Watch

The Ministry of Home Affairs on Thursday, 20 December, issued an order authorising 10 central agencies to intercept, monitor, and decrypt “any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer.”

The agencies are the Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Bureau of Investigation; National Investigation Agency, Cabinet Secretariat (R&AW), Directorate of Signal Intelligence (For service areas of Jammu & Kashmir, North-East and Assam only) and Commissioner of Police, Delhi.

According to the order, the subscriber or service provider or any person in charge of the computer resource will be bound to extend all facilities and technical assistance to the agencies and failing to do will invite seven-year imprisonment and fine.

(Source: The Hindu)

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Also Read: Snooping Made Easier? MHA Authorises 9 Agencies to Monitor Data

2. UPA Seals Bihar Alliance, NDA Reaches Out to Ally

The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) received a shot in the arm on Thursday, 20 December, with the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) of Upendra Kushwaha, a former constituent of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), joining its grouping in the electorally crucial state of Bihar which sends 40 representatives to the Lok Sabha.

Kushwaha told a crowded news conference held at the Congress headquarters in Delhi that his party will contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections as part of the Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) in Bihar.

Apart from the Congress and the RLSP, the other major parties in the grand alliance are the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM).

(Source: Hindustan Times)

3. LJP Chief Ram Vilas Paswan, Son Meet Amit Shah Over 2019 Seat Sharing Pact

Two days after expressing unease with BJP over the delay in finalising seat sharing agreement in Bihar for 2019 general elections, Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan and his son Chirag held a meeting with saffron party chief Amit Shah on Thursday, 20 December. The hour-long meeting also included Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

Sources in the party said BJP’s defeat in the five state polls has ignited a rethink in the party over its ties with the saffron party, news agency PTI reported.

A day after the Assembly election results were announced on 11 December, Chirag had also written a letter to Jaitley with a copy to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him to list the benefits of demonetisation so that he can “explain” them to people.

(Source: The Indian Express)

4. Calcutta HC Allows BJP to Hold 3 'Rath Yatras' in Bengal

In a setback to Mamata Banerjee's West Bengal government, the Calcutta High Court on Thursday, 20 December, allowed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to hold 'rath yatra' rallies in the state.

The BJP had challenged the state government's denial of permission to its rallies across the state.

The West Bengal government told the high court that intelligence reports expressing apprehensions of breach of communal harmony were the reason for denial of permission to 'rath yatras'.

(Source: DNA)

5. India Fifth on List of Countries Where Journalists Were Killed in 2018

Eighty journalists were killed across the globe in 2018 while gathering news and six of those deaths were in India, the international NGO Reporters Without Borders said in a report on Tuesday, 19 December.

The 2018 report is titled ‘Worldwide Round-up of Journalists Killed, Detained, Held Hostage’ and it includes the killings of professional journalists, non-professional journalists and media workers. The NGO has made this compilation every year since 1995.

The report made a distinction between countries that are in the middle of widespread armed conflict and those that are not, such as the US, India and Mexico. The other countries that reported high journalist deaths were Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan, where war has claimed lives. Afghanistan reported the highest journalist deaths at 15.

(Source: The Telegraph)

6. Govt to Infuse Rs 83,000 cr in PSBs in Next Few Months: Jaitley

The government on Thursday, 20 December, said it will enhance the capital infusion in public sector banks to Rs 83,000 crore, taking the total to Rs 1.06 lakh crore for the fiscal.

The capital will be pumped in over the next few months, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, adding that the move will increase the lending capacity of public sector banks (PSBs) as well as help some of them come out of RBI's watchlist.

The government had earlier announced infusion of Rs 65,000 crore in PSBs in 2018-19, of which Rs 23,000 crore has already been disbursed, while Rs 42,000 crore is remaining.

(Source: The Tribune)

7. Centre Has No Data on Number of Farmer Suicides Since 2016, Parliament Told

No data available after 2016 onwards on the number of farmer suicides because of farm debt as the home ministry has not published the report yet, Parliament was informed on Thursday, 20 December.

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) under the home ministry compiles and disseminates information on suicides in its publication titled ‘Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India’.

“These reports on suicides up to 2015 are available at its website. The report for the years 2016 onwards has not been published yet,” Minister of State for Agriculture Parshottam Rupala said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.

(Source: The Statesman)

8. Jolted PM Modi From His Deep Slumber: Rahul's Jibe Over PM's GST Plan

In a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi after he said most goods will attract sub-18 per cent GST slab, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday, 20 December, said that his party has jolted him "out of his slumber".

Gandhi took a swipe saying the "PM now wants implement what he once called Congress party's Grand Stupid Thought". "The Congress Party has finally jolted Narendra Ji from his deep slumber on Gabbar Singh Tax. Though still drowsy, he now wants to implement what he had earlier called the Congress Party's, "Grand Stupid Thought". Better late then never Narendra Ji!" Gandhi tweeted.

Indicating that further simplification of the Goods and Services Tax is on the anvil, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had Tuesday said his government wants to ensure that '99 per cent things' attract sub-18 per cent GST slab.

(Source: Deccan Chronicle)

9. Moily Accuses IAF Chief of Lying, Retracts After Furore

Senior Congress functionary and former Oil Minister M Veerappa Moily triggered a fresh controversy over the Rafale deal on Thursday, 20 December, when he accused IAF chief BS Dhanoa of “lying” after the Air Force commander hailed the Supreme Court order upholding the defence deal. After his remarks triggered a furore, Moily said he had never called the officer a liar.

The chief of air staff had said that the SC had delivered a “fine judgment” and warned against politicisation of defence purchases, pointing to the delays in acquisition that followed the Bofors howitzer scandal.

Reacting to the IAF chief’s remarks, Moily lashed out, saying: “Today, to say it is fine (the SC judgment)... I think that IAF chief is not fine... he is not fine, he is lying. He is suppressing the truth. He is a party to suppressing the truth.”

(Source: The Times of India)

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