QBullet: UK to Get Consular Access to Christian Michel & More

1. Britain to Get Consular Access to Michel Soon

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is likely to let British high commission officials meet Christian Michel soon, Indian officials said on Thursday, 6 December. The British request for consular access to Michel, the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal, is being considered, CBI officers said.

“We have received a request for consular access to Michel sought by the British high commission here. Depending upon his interrogation schedule, we will work out a date and time for it,” said an agency official who asked not to be named.

A CBI spokesperson confirmed that the request for consular access was being examined. A foreign ministry spokesperson said India will respond to the British request “very soon”.

Michel was questioned for the second day on Thursday, and the CBI has his custody until at least 10 December before the court looks at its possible extension.

(Source: Hindustan Times)

2. Air Pollution Causes 1 in 8 Deaths in India: Report

One in every eight deaths in India is attributable to air pollution, which now contributes to a bigger disease burden than smoking.

A file photo of pollution in Delhi. 

In fact, the average life expectancy in India would have been 1.7 years higher if the air pollution level was less than the minimum level, show the first comprehensive estimates of deaths, disease burden and life expectancy reduction associated with air pollution in each state of India, released by Indian Council of Medical Research on Thursday, 6 December.

Around 77% of India’s population is exposed to outdoor air pollution levels above National Ambient Air Quality Standards safe limit, the report says.

(Source: The Times of India)

3. Why Didn’t You Consult Panel on Alok Verma, CJI Asks Centre

The Supreme Court on Thursday, 6 December, reserved its order on petitions challenging the government’s decision to divest CBI Director Alok Verma of his charge, observing that the problems between him and Special Director Rakesh Asthana were “not something that happened overnight to require immediate action.”

It reminded the government it had to be “fair” and asked what was the difficulty in consulting the selection committee before moving against Verma. The CBI Director is chosen by a committee comprising the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition and the Chief Justice of India.

The Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi wondered why Parliament had not prescribed any “specific protection” for the CBI Director, unlike the Central Vigilance Commissioner.

(Source: The Indian Express)

4. Bulandshahr Police: Will First Probe Carcass, Then Killing of Inspector

Four days after a mob murdered a SHO in Bulandshahr following protests over allegations of cows being killed, Uttar Pradesh Police have shifted the focus of their investigation from nabbing the accused in the policeman’s death to solving the case of alleged cow slaughter.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Additional Superintendent of Police (Bulandshahr) Rayees Akhtar said: “Our main concern at this moment is to find out who killed those cows. After all, it was the killing of the cows that led to the protest, which resulted in Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh’s murder. Our belief is that once we solve that case, it will throw light on how the murder occurred. The cow-killers are our top priority. The murder and rioting case is on the back-burner for now.”

So far, police have arrested four persons — Chaman, Devendra, Ashish Chauhan and Satish — for their alleged involvement in Singh’s murder. But they are yet to nab the main accused, Yogeshraj Singh, a Bajrang Dal activist who is on the run.

(Source: The Indian Express)

5. Cabinet Clears India’s First Policy to Boost Farm Exports

The Union Cabinet on Thursday, 6 December, cleared a new agriculture export policy aimed at doubling farm incomes by 2022, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which in a large measure requires lucrative markets abroad for Indian farm produce.

Until now, India has had a five-yearly national foreign trade policy anchored by the commerce ministry, which also covered farm produce. The current foreign trade policy spans the years 2015-20.

Thursday’s decision effectively sets in motion an agriculture-focussed trade policy, which will be tailored to double agricultural exports from $30 billion at present to $60 billion by 2022. The longer-term goal is to take up the value of exported Indian farm produce to $100 billion.

(Source: Hindustan Times)

6. 17 of 20 Fastest-Growing Cities in the World Will Be From India: Report

The list of cities expected to grow the fastest in terms of GDP is dominated by India, with 17 among the top 20 cities in the world, according to a global economic research report.

“When future GDP growth rates are compared, the story is mostly very different. In particular, 17 of the 20 fastest-growing cities in the world between 2019 and 2035 will be Indian, with Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai among the strongest performers,” said a report from Oxford Economics, a research house engaged in quantitative analysis.

Surat tops the list of top 10 fastest growing cities in the world between 2019 and 2035, followed by Agra and Bengaluru. Hyderabad is in fourth place, followed by Nagpur, Tirupur, Rajkot, Tiruchirappalli, Chennai and Vijayawada. Surat is a major diamond trading and processing centre and also has a strong IT sector.

(Source: The Times of India)

7. Brother Attacked Me: Malvinder; No, He Hit Me, Claims Shivinder

The feud between brothers Malvinder and Shivinder Mohan Singh has taken an ugly turn, with Malvinder, former chairman and managing director of Fortis Healthcare, alleging that his younger brother assaulted him on Wednesday, 5 December, while Shivinder has denied the allegation and said that, in fact, it was Malvinder who hit him.

Malvinder posted a picture (above) on a WhatsApp group that seemed to show him injured. He also posted a video, saying, “Today, December 5, 2018, a little after 6pm, Shivinder Mohan Singh assaulted me at 55 Hanuman Road. He physically hit me... injured me, broke a button, gave me a bruise, and kept threatening me and refused to budge until the team here separated him from me.”

(Source: The Times of India)

8. Key Statistics Panel Revised UPA Growth Up, Niti Aayog Rejected It

In what adds a fresh twist to the controversy over the downward revision of UPA growth data, it is now learnt that almost three years ago, the Central Statistics Office (CSO), in the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, had finalised back series data for GDP following a change in the base year from 2004-05 to 2011-12.

That exercise had led to an upward revision in growth rates for the UPA years but the Niti Aayog, then under Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya, did not allow its release.

While Panagariya could not be reached and did not respond to a text message and an e-mail, then Chief Statistician TCA Anant confirmed that the release of data was withheld.

(Source: The Indian Express)

9. Uncertainty Over BJP Yatra After Calcutta HC Order

The Calcutta High Court on Thursday, 6 December, denied permission to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to hold a rath yatra, which was to be flagged off by party President Amit Shah from Cooch Behar on Friday, 7 December.

A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporter displays a victory sign in front of the cutout of BJP President Amit Shah during an election rally.

The High Court ordered that the rath yatra cannot take place till the next date of hearing, 9 January, when it would consider reports from the 24 districts through which the rally was to pass.

The Calcutta High Court has deferred the rally until the Superintendent of Police of respective districts speak to BJP presidents (of those districts) and file a report by 21 December, according to news agency ANI.

“Court has passed order that by 21 Dec the Superintendent of Police of respective districts will speak to district Presidents of BJP & file a report on 9th Jan, before the HC of Calcutta. Till then HC has deferred the rally,” Arkho Kumar Naag, State Advocate told ANI.

(Source: Hindustan Times)

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