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28 FEB 2024



Earlier this week, the Congress party alleged that the Income Tax Department instructed banks to transfer over Rs. 65 crore from the accounts of the Congress, the Youth Congress (IYC) and the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI). Terming it “economic terrorism”, Congress treasurer Ajay Maken said the move came even as the party has its challenge of a Rs. 210 crore tax demand pending before the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal.

Maken alleged that political parties do not normally pay income tax and that the Congress was being targeted by the central government. Here is what the law says on the matter.

Maken said it was not common for political parties to pay income tax and that the BJP also did not pay income tax. The income tax demand, he said, pertained to the financial year 2018-2019. He said the party had received Rs. 142.83 crore in donations that year and of this amount, Rs. 14.49 lakh was received in cash. He said this was collected from Congress MLAs and MPs, who contributed one month’s salary each.

Maken said the Income Tax Department had raised a demand of Rs.210 crore over just Rs. 14 lakh in cash donations. He said the party submitted its account details later on February 2, 2019, instead of the deadline of December 31, 2018. For this, he said an unprecedented demand, which included penalties of Rs. 210 crore, was raised. Maken alleged this was a move meant to hit the Congress financially just before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The matter now rests with the ITAT, which completed its hearing and reserved its order on Thursday.





Seven years after they joined forces, “UP ke ladke” Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi reunited again in Agra on Sunday during the Congress’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra. Flanked by Rahul and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the presence of Samajwadi Party president at the event brought back memories of 2017 when they campaigned from an improvised vehicle, the Uttar Pradesh Vijay Rath, for the Assembly polls.

While both leaders and their parties will be hoping that a repeat of 2017 is not on the cards — the drubbing the alliance received marked the beginning of the rule of the Yogi Adityanath government — the sequence of events leading up to the announcement of the alliance on Friday has been quite similar. In the 2017 Assembly polls, the SP won only 47 seats, a drastic fall from the 224 it won when it stormed to power in 2012, while the Congress’s tally dropped from 28 in 2012 to seven. Despite being in an alliance, both parties fielded candidates against each other in 22 seats.

In both instances, alliance talks were initiated barely months before the elections and were on the verge of collapse before senior leaders of both parties intervened and salvaged them.

This time, negotiations began in January between the Congress’s national alliance committee and the SP’s coordination committee. The Congress initially demanded 28 Lok Sabha seats, including Rampur and Moradabad that the SP won in the 2019 polls. The SP, which initially agreed to part with 11 seats, later revised its offer to 17.

Rahul and Akhilesh’s campaign in 2017 and the “UP ko ye saath pasand hai (UP likes this combination)” slogan aimed to project the two as a young alternative to veteran leaders of the BJP and BSP. This time, there would be no common slogan, said Congress leaders.





Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday inaugurated the Sudarshan Setu, a four-lane cable-stayed bridge connecting Okha to Beyt Dwarka island in Gujarat.

According to an official statement from the Devbhumi Dwarka administration, the bridge spans 2.32 kilometres, with a central double-span cable-stayed portion covering 900 metres, accompanied by a 2.45-kilometre-long approach road.

Constructed for Rs 979 crore, the bridge boasts a width of 27.20 metres, featuring 2.50-metre-wide footpaths on either side.

Originally dubbed the 'Signature Bridge,' the structure has been renamed 'Sudarshan Setu' or Sudarshan Bridge.

Beyt Dwarka, located near Okha port approximately 30 kilometres from Dwarka town, is home to the revered Dwarkadhish temple of Lord Krishna. Currently, devotees travelling to the temple at Beyt Dwarka are restricted to daytime boat journeys. However, with the completion of the bridge, officials anticipate round-the-clock accessibility to the temple.









The US and Britain struck 18 Houthi targets in Yemen on Saturday, answering a recent surge in attacks by the Iran-backed militia group on ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, including a missile strike this past week that set fire to a cargo vessel.

According to US officials, American and British fighter jets hit sites in eight locations, targeting missiles, launchers, rockets, drones and air defense systems. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity.

This is the fourth time that the US and British militaries have conducted a combined operation against the Houthis since Jan 12. But the US has al so been carrying out almost daily strikes to take out Houthi targets, including incoming missiles and drones aimed at ships, as well as weapons that were prepared to launch.

The US F/A-18 fighter jets launched from the USS Dwight DEisenhower aircraft carrier, which is currently in the Red Sea, officials said. “The US will not hesitate to take action, as needed, to defend lives and the free flow of commerce in one of the world’s most critical waterways,” said US defence secretary Lloyd Austin. “We will continue to make clear to the Houthis that they will bear the consequences if they do not stop their illegal attacks.” The Houthis denounced the “US-British aggression” and vowed to keep up its military operation in response.





An Israeli military offensive in the southernmost city of Rafah could be “delayed somewhat” if a deal for a weekslong ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is reached, PM Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday, but claimed that total victory in Gaza is “weeks away” once the offensive begins.

Netanyahu confirmed to CBS that a deal is in the works, with no details. Israeli media reported that mediators were making progress on an agreement for a ceasefire and release of dozens of hostages held in Gaza as well as Palestinians imprisoned by Israel. Several Israeli media outlets, citing unnamed officials, said the war cabinet tacitly approved it.

Talks resumed on Sunday in Qatar at the specialist level, Egypt’s state-run Al Qahera TV reported, citing an Egyptian official as saying further discussions would follow in Cairo with the aim of achieving the ceasefire and release.

Meanwhile, Israel is developing plans for expanding its offensive against the Hamas militant group to Rafah on the Gaza-Egypt border, where more than half the besieged territory’s population of 2.3 million have sought refuge. Netanyahu has said he’ll convene the cabinet this week to approve operational plans for action in Rafah, including the evacuation of civilians.





Reacting to what it deemed as “unacceptable” comments on the country’s flag, the French government has deported a Tunisian Muslim cleric, Imam Mahjoub Mahjoubi, after arresting him for his statement.

The cleric, labelled a “radical Imam” by the French Interior Ministry, faced immediate expulsion less than 12 hours after his arrest, according to a statement from French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin Thursday.

Mahjoubi had been living in France for the past 38 years. He was earlier in administrative detention in the Paris region, with his exact location and expulsion details unspecified. Franceinfo, France’s radio and TV network, reported that the Imam was on a flight headed to Tunis Thursday evening.

The controversy stemmed from a social media post by Mahjoubi, in which he referred to the French tricolour flag as “satanic”, as reported by Reuters. The French Interior Ministry, in justifying the expulsion, accused Mahjoubi of promoting a “literal, backward, intolerant, and violent conception of Islam”, suggesting that such ideologies could potentially incite behaviours contrary to French values and applauded France’s immigration laws due for his swift deportation.









The Indian National Lok Dal’s (INLD) Haryana unit president Nafe Singh Rathee (66) and a member of his security team were killed when unidentified assailants opened fire at their SUV in Bahadurgarh, Jhajjar district on Sunday.

INLD spokesperson Rakesh Sihag said that the former MLA was taken to the hospital where he was declared dead. Sihag said that Rathee’s three private security personnel also received bullet injuries in the attack and one of them died in the hospital. Two others are undergoing treatment.

Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij said he spoke to officials and ordered them to take immediate action in the matter. He said the Special Task Force is probing the matter and the culprits will be nabbed soon.

INLD senior leader Abhay Chautala accused the Haryana government of failing to provide Rathee with security cover despite there being a threat to his life. He also demanded resignation of CM Manohar Lal Khattar and Home Minister Anil Vij.





Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Sunday cautioned Maratha quota activist Manoj Jarange Patil to not “cross his limits” after the latter alleged that Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was conspiring to “eliminate” him. Asking the activist to exercise restraint, Shinde indicated that Patil may face legal action in order to “maintain law and order in the state”.

Addressing a press conference in Mumbai Sunday evening, ahead of the budget session of the Assembly that begins Monday, Shinde said, “The (state) government showed patience but people should not test our patience. One should not cross his limits. This is a political conspiracy… The home department is aware of everything and no one should think that the government is not aware. The government will not support those who disrupt peace and law and order in the state.”

In the afternoon, speaking to reporters in Antarwali-Saraati village of Jalna, where he has been fasting for 10 days, Jarange Patil said, “The government wants me to die while I am on hunger strike… It is Devendra Fadnavis who is conspiring to eliminate me by poisoning me through saline. That is why I have stopped taking IV fluids. Fadnavis plans to eliminate me either by administering poison in saline or in a police encounter.”

Stating that the Deputy Chief Minister is working overtime to defeat the Maratha community, Jarange Patil said, “Fadnavis wants to end the supremacy of the Marathas. He is trying to do this by pitting one Maratha against the other. In this conspiracy, three MLAs belonging to Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, two belonging to Ajit Pawar’s NCP and two from the BJP are involved.”

Reacting to Patil’s remarks, Shinde warned Jarange Patil to exercise restraint, saying that the activist’s language has changed to that of the Opposition.





Prime Minister Narendra Modi indulged in scuba diving off the coast of Panchkui beach in Gujarat, describing the experience as "very divine." Scuba diving conducted off the coast of Dwarka near Beyt Dwarka island, where people can see the underwater remains of ancient Dwarka excavated by archaeologists.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi indulged in scuba diving off the coast of Panchkui beach in Gujarat, describingthe experience as "very divine." ". Scuba diving is conducted off the coast of Dwarka near Beyt Dwarka island, where people can see the underwater remains of ancient Dwarka that were excavated by archaeologists. He conveyed his reverence, saying, "May Bhagwan Shri Krishna bless us all," in a social media post following the scuba diving adventure.

"To pray in the city of Dwarka, which is immersed in the waters, was a very divine experience. I felt connected to an ancient era of spiritual grandeur and timeless devotion. May Bhagwan Shri Krishna bless us all," the prime minister said in a post on X after the scuba driving experience.





The latest Household Consumption Expenditure Survey (HCES) for 2022-23 does not only point to a continuing decline in the share of food items in the total spending basket of Indians. Equally revealing is a shift in the composition of food expenditure itself — from foodgrains and sugar to animal and horticulture products. In other words, from foods basically delivering calories to those rich in proteins and micronutrients.

The data from the HCES, conducted by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), shows the share of food in the average monthly per capita consumption expenditure (MPCE) dipped to 46.4% in 2022-23 for rural India, from 52.9% in 2011-12, 53.1% in 2004-05, and 59.4% in 1999-2000.

A similar, but not as sharp, drop was recorded for urban India too — from 48.1% in 1999-2000, to 40.5% in 2004-05, 42.6% in 2011-12, and 39.2% in 2022-23.

Households spending relatively less on food with rising incomes over time shouldn’t surprise. What’s interesting, though, is the kind of food items on which they are spending more or less. The accompanying tables indicate five things:

* One, the share of cereals and pulses within overall food consumption expenditure has reduced, both in rural and urban areas.

* Two, the share of spending on milk has increased, so much so as to overtake that on cereals and pulses combined — i.e. foodgrains — in 2022-23.

* Three, the same goes for fruits and vegetables, foods high in micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). The average rural as well as urban Indian has, for the first time in 2022-23, spent more on fruits and vegetables than on foodgrains. The spending on vegetables alone exceeded that on cereals, and likewise for fruits vis-a-vis pulses.

* Four, a growing share of the consumer rupee is also going to eggs, fish and meat. When combined with the rising and falling shares of milk and pulses respectively, it suggests a clear preference among Indian consumers for animal proteins over plant proteins.

* Five, Indians are spending more, as a percentage of their total expenditure, on processed foods, beverages and purchased cooked meals.

All the five trends are consistent with the so-called Engel Curve hypothesis. Named after the 19th century German statistician Ernst Engel, it broadly states that as incomes grow, households spend a smaller proportion of that on food. Even within food, they would buy more of “superior” and less of “inferior” items.





A major tragedy was averted after a driverless freight train with 53 wagons travelled nearly 70 km from Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir before coming to a halt at Unchi Bassi, near Dasuya, in Hoshiarpur district this morning. An inquiry has been ordered into the incident.

The chip stone-laden train, with its diesel locomotive running, was stationed at the Kathua railway station when it started rolling down the slope on the Jammu-Jalandhar section without the loco pilot or assistant loco pilot aboard around 7.20 am.

According to sources, the train, which was on its way from Jammu to Punjab, gained speed (cruising at up to 100 km per hour) due to downward gradient. The Kathua Station Superintendent’s office sounded the alert.

All level crossings on the route were closed. An attempt to stop the train on the outskirts of Pathankot failed due to high speed. As a precautionary measure, the line at the Pathankot railway station was kept clear and all oncoming trains were halted. Another attempt near Mukerian also proved futile, although the train lost speed.

Finally, the train slowed down due to steep gradient near Unchi Bassi and measures were taken to halt it by placing sand bags on the tracks. To the relief of officials, the train came to a standstill around 9 am.





Nitasha Kaul, a professor at the University of Westminster, has alleged she was detained at Bengaluru International Airport by immigration authorities and sent back to London after the central government denied her permission to participate in an event organised by the Congress government in Karnataka.

Kaul had been invited to participate as a delegate in the ‘Constitution and National Unity Convention’ on February 24 and 25 in Bengaluru, organised by the state’s Social Welfare Department.

“I was formally informed that I was being sent back on instructions from Delhi, but they didn’t disclose the name of the entity that instructed them, and this wasn’t provided to me in writing....This is not how a democracy works. This is not China, and I demanded reasons, but it fell on deaf ears,” she said.

The Karnataka BJP, meanwhile, accused the Congress of disgracing the “Indian Constitution by inviting a Pakistani sympathiser who wants to break India”.





Spin twins Ravichandran Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav combined to rout England in their second innings and put India on course for a series-clinching victory in the fourth Test on Sunday.

Off-spinner Ashwin (5-51) and left-arm wristspinner Kuldeep (4-22) shared nine wickets on a turning track to bundle out England in tehir second innings, for 145, inside two sessions.

Chasing 192 for a victory that would fetch them an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series, India cruised to 40 for no loss at stumps on day three. Skipper Rohit Sharma (24) and Yashasvi Jaiswal (16) have so far looked unperturbed on a pitch, where the ball spun sharply and stayed low occasionally.

Earlier, when action resumed on Sunday, Dhruv Jurel (90) led a spirited rearguard action to rescue India, who posted 307 all out in reply to England's first innings 353. Jurel combined in a 76-run partnership with Kuldeep (28), whose 131-ball vigil was the longest in his test career.


Scores at End Of Day 3: Eng 353 & 145; India 307 & 40/0





Common people do not pray; they only beg. - George Bernard Shaw





During the latter years of his life, Albert Einstein was one of the most lionized of men. Once at a party, the hostess led him to the window and pointing to the sky said, “I can spot Venus. It always shines like a beautiful woman.”

“I’m sorry, “ said Einstein, “but the star you’re pointing at is Jupiter.”

“Oh, Dr. Einstein,” exclaimed the hostess, “you’re just wonderful. You can tell the sex of a star so far away!”


Comments (0)

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