Rajya Sabha seal on special status for six Karnataka districts

The Rajya Sabha on has passed the Constitution (118th Amendment) Bill, which seeks to grant special status to six backward districts in Karnataka.

The Bill inserts a new Article 371-J to provide special recognition for the six backward districts of North Karnataka — Gulbarga, Yadgir, Raichur, Bidar, Koppal and Bellary. It was passed with all the 163 MPs present in the Rajya Sabha voting in its favor.

The Lok Sabha earlier passed the Bill. It provides for establishing a separate development board and equitable allocation of funds for development of the region. It will also provide for quota in public employment through local cadres and reservation in education and vocational training institutions for those who belong to the region by birth or by domicile.


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Assembly election results 2012: Modi wins in Gujarat, Congress takes over in Himachal

Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi is well on the road to performing a hat trick raising the prospects of becoming BJP's prime ministerial candidate while Congress ousted the saffron party from power in Himachal Pradesh.

Former chief minister Keshubhai Patel's GPP on which the Congress hoped to defeat Modi fared very badly. The BJP's hat trick in retaining power in Gujarat added grist to political mill speculating on Modi becoming the party's PM candidate in the next Lok Sabha elections.

However, the BJP was defeated in Himachal Pradesh, a state that has stuck to its habit of voting out an incumbent government.

The Congress, which put up a spirited campaign under former chief minister Virbhadra Singh, is all set to return to power in the hill state.


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VS Sampath to be the new Chief Election Commissioner

Keeping in line with the established procedure, VS Sampath the senior most election commissioner will succeed SY Quraishi as Chief Election Commissioner (CEC). Mar Sampath took over as election commissioner in 2009 and is expected to assume office as the CEC on June 10.

There have been eight CECs that have been appointed using this convention of the senior most election commissioner being appointed.


Recently, senior BJP leader LK Advani had written to the Prime Minister seeking a change in the manner in which members are appointed to the election commission.

Mr. Advani wrote stating that a collegium should select election commissioners. "The present system whereby members to the Election Commission are appointed by the President, solely on the advice of the Prime Minister, does not evoke confidence among the people,'' Mr. Advani wrote.

Mr. Advani said the selection committee should consist of the PM, the Chief Justice of India, the Law Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in both Houses of Parliament.

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The Total Sanitation Campaign will now be known as Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs today gave the nod for more than doubling the amount for construction of individual household latrines from the existing Rs.4600 to nearly 10,000 rupees and also scrapped the distinction of below and above poverty line (BPL/APL) families to achieve the total sanitation target in the country in the next 10 years. 

At present out of Rs.4600 allocated for individual toilets, Centre gives Rs. 2100, State's share is Rs.1000 and Rs. 300 comes from the beneficiaries, while Rs.1200 is leveraged through MGNREGA works as was approved last year. But now after the Cabinet approval, Centre has to dole out Rs.3200, States have to give Rs.1400 and families have to provide Rs.900, while MGNREGA funds will be to the tune of Rs.4500.

Union Rural Development Minister and the Minister for Drinking Water and Sanitation Jairam Ramesh informed that Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh laid stress on linking sanitation programme in 200 such districts, where the problem of mal-nutrition is acute saying there is a close link between lack of hygiene and mal-nutrition. The Minister also informed that the Planning Commission has approved Rs.36,000 crore for drinking water and sanitation programmes in the 12th Five Year Plan as opposed to Rs.7,800 crore allocated in the 11th Plan. The Cabinet also made toilet construction mandatory for availing funds for Indira Aawas Yojana (IAY) henceforth, while the Minister added that allocation for IAY would also be raised from existing Rs.45,000 to Rs.75,000 by end of July. 

The minister said, for the first time solid and liquid waste management has been approved for the villages on the model of towns and cities and Gram Panchayats will get from 7 lakh rupees to 20 lakh rupees for the same depending on the size of the population

Sikkim has become the first Nirmal Rajya (that is hundred percent open defecation free).

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Air India staff integration to start soon - Dharmadhikari Report

The government on Friday announced the setting up of a panel to implement the Dharmadhikari Committee Report on issues relating integration of erstwhile Air India and Indian Airlines employees including pay, allowances and career progression structure.

Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh made it clear that the demands of striking Air India pilots will be looked into after they give up their 26-day “illegal” agitation unconditionally.

The implementation committee, called the Implementation-cum-Anomaly Committee, would seek the views of all sections of employees and complete its task within the next 45 days on how to implement the Dharmadhikari Report. The committee will also do a ‘level mapping’ of employees of Air India and erstwhile Indian Airlines.

Singh said performance-linked incentives will be abolished and there will be a unified cadre and uniform policy with regard to working of all cadres.

“The salaries of the present employees will be protected. As far as allowances are concerned, as far as the senior staff is concerned, management staff is concerned, that will be allowed according to the DPE guidelines. And other allowances of non-management staff will be according to the industry norms,” the Minister said.

Dharmadhikari Report:

The Dharamadhikari Report came almost five years after the merger of two state-run airlines and focused on integration of thousands of employees after the merger of two State-owned carriers — Air India and Indian Airlines. The report took into account the views of the pilots, cabin crew and engineers on integration of about 29,000 employees. The employees have been agitating over disparities in their pay scales, promotional avenues and areas of responsibilities.

Besides Justice Dharmadhikari, the Committee had Prof Ravindra HDholakia of IIM Ahmedabad, Rajeshwar Dayal, expert on public sector employees' service matters and senior Civil Aviation Ministry official SyedNasir Ali, as its members.

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