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Indian Army builds bridge on Indus in Ladakh

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Indian Army builds bridge on Indus in Ladakh

In another highlight of the Indian Defence Forces, the Indian Army’s impressive engineering skills came to the fore on Sunday after a video depicted the troops constructing a bridge across the Indus river.

The video was titled ‘Bridging Challenges – No Terrain nor Altitude Insurmoutable’ and was shared on Twitter by the South Western Command of the Indian Army. The drill was carried out by the Sapta Shakti Engineers in Eastern Ladakh.

The building of the bridge included carrying out mobility tasks and training.

“Bridging Challenges – No Terrain nor Altitude Insurmoutable’. SaptaShaktiEngineers in EasternLadakh carrying out mobility tasks and training. Bridging the mighty #Indus River, enabling movement of both combat and logistic echelons,” tweeted South Western Command of the Indian Army.

The video depicts the mechanical launch of heavy metal parts into the waterbody as the bridge is shown to be completed at the end of the video.

Army personnel engrossed in teamwork can be seen in the exercise while heavy trucks cross the terrain after the bridge has been completed.

Earlier on Sunday, the Indian Army chief General Manoj Pande, who is on a two-day visit to the Ladakh sector, flew in an Indian Air Force Apache attack helicopter.

The request for a sortie from the Ladakh air base was received yesterday and today, the Army chief flew in the chopper over the area, IAF officials said.

Gen Pande was familiarised with the flying characteristics of the platform and briefed about its capabilities and roles, they said.

The Apache has been deployed in the Ladakh sector since the beginning of the military standoff with China along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh.

The Indian Air Force has 22 of these American-origin attack helicopters while the Indian Army is soon going to get six of its own.

Indian Army teams were also in the US for training purposes led by the Director General of Army Aviation himself.

However, the mainstay of the Army in the future would be the indigenous Light Combat Helicopter being developed by the HAL.

The Army chief was in the Ladakh sector from Saturday where he visited forward areas during the ongoing disengagement in the Gogra Heights Hot Springs area near Patrolling Point 15.

Earlier on Saturday, during his visit, General Pande witnessed the wargames codenamed Exercise Parvat Prahar and was briefed on operational preparedness by commanders on the ground, the Indian Army said.

He interacted with the troops and complimented them for their steadfastness and professional standards, the officials said.

Moving towards resolving the issues created on the LAC post-May 2020, India and China have agreed to dismantle and verify the temporary structures and other allied infrastructure created in the Gogra-Hot Springs (PP-15) area of the LAC in eastern Ladakh, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had said on Friday.

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Digital India Act delayed until after next general election

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The anticipated introduction of the Digital India Act (DIA), aimed at replacing the archaic IT Act of 2000, may face a delay in implementation ahead of the impending general elections, as revealed by Minister of State for Electronics and IT, Rajeev Chandrasekhar. Speaking at the Global Technology Summit 2023, the minister outlined challenges in ensuring extensive consultations, indicating insufficient time before the elections.

Chandrasekhar acknowledged the imminent release of rules pertaining to the Digital Personal Data Protection Act for public consultation later this month. These regulations are expected to be notified by the end of December or early January, signalling progress in digital legislation efforts.

Highlighting the limitations of the current IT Act, Chandrasekhar emphasized its obsolescence, lacking even the inclusion of the term ‘internet.’ He underscored the consensus for superseding and replacing this outdated legislation with the Digital India Act, a comprehensive document that is currently in the drafting stage.

Despite considerable groundwork and preparedness with a draft in place, the Minister expressed scepticism regarding the legislation’s enactment before the forthcoming elections. He highlighted the Prime Minister’s insistence on rigorous consultations for every digital legislation, underscoring the challenge of meeting this prerequisite within the limited time frame.

The proposed Digital India Act aims to address various facets of the online domain, prioritizing the openness of the internet while curbing the dominance of specific entities. It emphasizes online safety and user protection, intending to regulate addictive technologies through age-gating measures. Additionally, the Act is slated to exercise discretionary control over fake news circulated on social media platforms and proposes the definition and regulation of emerging technologies.

The proposed legislation also includes stringent regulations targeting privacy-invasive devices like spy camera glasses and wearable tech. It seeks to incorporate ‘know your customer’ rules for retail sales of such devices, backed by appropriate criminal law sanctions.

While the Digital India Act represents a comprehensive and forward-looking endeavour, its implementation faces hurdles attributed to the requirement of extensive consultations. The delay in its enactment may extend beyond the upcoming general elections, hindering its immediate integration into the legislative framework.

The postponement in implementing the Digital India Act prior to the upcoming general elections underscores the intricacies and thoroughness required in formulating significant digital legislation. Minister Chandrasekhar’s emphasis on the need for comprehensive consultations aligns with the government’s commitment to soliciting diverse viewpoints and ensuring a robust framework that caters to evolving digital landscapes.

The imminent release of rules for the Digital Personal Data Protection Act signals a proactive step towards fortifying digital privacy laws. This move demonstrates the government’s responsiveness to growing concerns regarding data protection and privacy in the digital sphere. The forthcoming regulations aim to establish a framework that safeguards individuals’ personal data, addressing crucial aspects of data security and privacy within the digital realm.

Amidst the challenges and time constraints highlighted by Minister Chandrasekhar, the delay in enacting the Digital India Act doesn’t deter the government’s commitment to fortify India’s digital governance framework. While the legislative process might extend beyond the elections, the focus remains steadfast on crafting a progressive, inclusive, and robust digital legislation that aligns with the country’s aspirations in the digital era.

The proposed Digital India Act reflects a comprehensive vision to navigate the complexities of the digital landscape, aiming not just at regulatory measures but also at fostering innovation and safeguarding user interests. As the digital ecosystem continues to evolve, the forthcoming legislation is poised to play a pivotal role in shaping India’s digital future, ensuring a conducive environment for growth, innovation, and responsible digital governance.

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Lok Sabha nod sought for Rs 58,378 crore extra expenditures

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In a bid to address additional financial requirements in the current fiscal year, the government has proposed a net additional spending of Rs 58,378 crore. Minister of State for Finance, Pankaj Chaudhary, introduced the first batch of supplementary demands for grants for the fiscal year 2023-24 in the Lok Sabha, detailing the proposed allocations and savings.

The supplementary demands encompass a gross additional spending exceeding Rs 1.29 lakh crore, balanced by anticipated savings of Rs 70,968 crore. This proposal aims to address crucial expenditure needs while ensuring a strategic utilization of available funds.

According to the document presented in the Lok Sabha, the net cash outflow resulting from these supplementary demands for grants is pegged at Rs 58,378.21 crore. One significant allocation within this additional spending is earmarked for a substantial fertiliser subsidy amounting to Rs 13,351 crore.

The move highlights the government’s proactive stance in accommodating unforeseen or essential financial requirements within the ongoing fiscal year. This strategic reallocation of funds through supplementary demands for grants reflects a meticulous approach towards managing fiscal resources while ensuring targeted financial support in key sectors, notably in the case of the substantial fertiliser subsidy allocation.

The introduction of these supplementary demands for grants underscores the government’s commitment to addressing critical expenditure needs, ensuring financial prudence, and enabling strategic financial management for optimal utilization of available resources within the current fiscal year.

The proposed additional spending of Rs 13,351 crore towards fertiliser subsidy underscores the government’s dedication to supporting the agricultural sector. Fertilisers play a pivotal role in enhancing agricultural productivity and ensuring sustainable crop yields. By allocating a substantial amount to this subsidy, the government aims to alleviate the financial burden on farmers, facilitating their access to essential agricultural inputs crucial for crop cultivation.

Furthermore, while the total supplementary demands for grants amount to over Rs 1.29 lakh crore, the corresponding savings of Rs 70,968 crore indicate a prudent fiscal approach. These savings, when utilized effectively, contribute to fiscal discipline and efficiency in financial management. They provide the government with flexibility in allocating additional funds for critical areas without substantially impacting the fiscal deficit.

The introduction of these supplementary demands for grants signifies the government’s responsiveness to evolving financial needs. It reflects a proactive stance aimed at ensuring adequate funding for priority sectors while maintaining fiscal prudence. As the proposals undergo parliamentary scrutiny and approval processes, the allocation of these additional funds will play a pivotal role in steering various sectors towards sustained growth and development within the ongoing fiscal year.

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Centre approves digital ad policy for better info dissemination

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The Centre Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has recently sanctioned a digital advertisement policy, a significant move aimed at empowering its advertising arm, the Central Bureau of Communication (CBC), to execute campaigns in the rapidly expanding digital media domain. According to the Information Ministry, this policy is a crucial step in the CBC’s mission to disseminate information and raise awareness about various government schemes, programs, and policies in response to the evolving media landscape and the increasing digitization of media consumption.

The policy acknowledges the substantial subscriber base in the digital realm and recognizes the effectiveness of technology-enabled messaging through digital advertisements. The ministry anticipates that this will enable targeted delivery of messages, leading to cost efficiencies in public-oriented campaigns.

The shift in audience media consumption towards the digital space has been noticeable in recent years, driven in part by the central government’s ‘Digital India’ program. This initiative has substantially increased the number of people in the country connected to the internet and various social and digital media platforms.

As of March 2023, internet penetration in India exceeded 880 million, and the number of telecom subscribers surpassed 1,172 million, as reported by TRAI’s Indian Telecom Services Performance Indicators January-March 2023.

Under the new policy, CBC gains the ability to empanel agencies and organizations in the Over-The-Top (OTT) and video-on-demand spaces. Additionally, CBC can tap into the growing audience of podcasts and digital audio platforms through the empanelment of digital audio platforms.

The policy not only streamlines the empanelling process for internet websites but also for the first time allows CBC to channelize public service campaign messages through mobile applications. Recognizing the significance of social media platforms in public conversations, the policy facilitates the placement of government advertisements on these platforms, empowering CBC to empanel digital media agencies for wider outreach across various platforms.

Acknowledging the dynamic nature of the digital landscape, the policy enables CBC to onboard new and innovative communication platforms with the approval of a duly constituted committee. The Digital Advertisement Policy, 2023, introduces competitive bidding for rate discovery, ensuring transparency and efficiency. The rates discovered through this process will be valid for three years and applicable to all eligible agencies.

In the contemporary era, nearly all Ministries/Departments of the Government of India maintain dedicated social media handles, generating substantial content such as infographics and videos. This outreach will now be complemented by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’s Media Unit, the Central Bureau of Communication, designated for issuing advertisements across all forms of media.

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Nepal, India discuss bilateral interests

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Nepal and India discussed matters pertaining to bilateral and mutual interests during the Foreign Secretary-level talks in New Delhi.

At the invitation of his Indian counterpart Vinay Mohan Kwatra, Nepal’s Foreign Secretary Bharat Raj Poudyal arrived in New Delhi and held the bilateral talks at Hyderabad House on Tuesday where two sides discussed a wide range of issues and issues related to mutual interest and concerns, according to statements issued by New Delhi and Kathmandu.

The Foreign Secretaries discussed multiple areas of cooperation between Nepal and India covering trade, transit, connectivity, infrastructure, power sector, irrigation and inundation, agriculture, investment, development cooperation, health sector cooperation, culture, and people to people relations, among others, a statement issued by the Nepali Embassy in New Delhi said.

“They reviewed the progress on the discussions held during the high-level visits of the Prime Minister of Nepal Sher Bahadur Deuba to India on April 1-3 and of Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi to Lumbini, Nepal on May 16. The two Foreign Secretaries discussed the ways and means to build on momentum generated by those visits. They also discussed cooperation on multilateral forums,” the statement added.

Kwatra and Poudyal also expressed satisfaction at the progress made in different areas including power sector, construction of transmission line, railway etc.

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India, Israel team up to combat terrorism

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Israeli Ambassador to India Naor Gilon on Wednesday said that the two countries are working together to combat terrorism.

Speaking to ANI exclusively, Gilon said, “I will reaffirm that India and Israel are suffering a lot from terrorism and are also cooperating together whenever we can, to combat terrorism.” He also stressed on the importance of regional groupings, especially of I2U2 bloc comprising India, Israel, UAE, and the US that held its first virtual summit in July 2022.

“I think, it’s a very important group together which brings close allies and likeminded countries – UAE, US, India and Israel which put the interests of people ahead. I think that such more groupings – regional groupings can be a very useful element to improve in both Asia and the world – by bringing new technologies, new cooperation, better economy and new values,” said the Israeli envoy.

I2U2 was initially formed in October 2021 following the Abraham Accords between Israel and the UAE, to deal with issues concerning maritime security, infrastructure and transport in the region.

At that time, it was called the ‘International Forum for Economic Cooperation.’ That was referred to as the ‘West Asian Quad’.

I2U2 initiative is a new grouping of India, Israel, the US and UAE. In the grouping’s name, ‘I2’ stands for India and Israel, whereas ‘U2’ stands for the US and the UAE. This is a great achievement which tells the geopolitical changes that happen in the region.

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8 of 11 MLAs join BJP, including ex-Goa CM

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8 of 11 MLAs join BJP, including ex-Goa CM

Ahead of joining the Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday, eight Congress MLAs, including former Goa CM Digambar Kamat and Leader of Opposition Michael Lobo met with Chief Minister Pramod Sawant at the Assembly Complex.

Barely two months after the Congress seemed to have staved off a defection bid, eight of its 11 MLAs led by top leaders Digambar Kamat and Michael Lobo joined the ruling BJP.

The eight MLAs who met with CM Sawant are Digambar Kamat, Michael Lobo, Delilah Lobo, Rajesh Phaldesai, Kedar Naik, Sankalp Amonkar, Aleixo Sequeira and Rudolf Fernandes. After holding a meeting with Congress Legislature Party, Lobo told ANI that they “will join BJP”, however no official confirmation from the Sawant has come forward yet.

The development came amid the Congress leader Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Yatra, which is being held to combat the BJP-led Centre and awaken the country’s people to the dangers of economic inequalities, social polarisation, and political centralization. The Yatra includes Padayatras, rallies, and public meetings which will be attended by the senior Congress leaders including Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

Days ago on September 4, Gujarat Youth Congress President Vishwanathsinh Vaghela resigned from his post which is considered to be a major jolt for the party. On September 2, party leader Rajinder Prasad, who is also the son of late Master Beli Ram Sharma from Nowshera, Rajouri, resigned from all posts and the primary membership of the party. Prasad blamed the ‘coterie’ system for being a reason for the ‘demise’ of the party. In recent months, Rajinder Prasad and several high-profile leaders have quit Congress. The exit of veteran leader Ghulam Nabi Azad from the Congress, months before the upcoming Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls, as well as the general elections in two years’ time, dealt a huge blow to party.

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