At the Christmas celebrations organised by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), the church leaders wanted Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, who was the chief guest, to ‘play the Santa’. At the function, CBCI president Cardinal Mar Baselios Cleemis requested Naidu’s intervention to help families on the Kerala coast affected by Cyclone Ockhi. A large number of victims are members of the Catholic community, and church leaders in southern Kerala are miffed with the CPI(M)-led LDF government for what they said is state failure to effectively coordinate relief work. Cleemis wanted Naidu to prompt the Centre to declare it a national calamity so that victims get deserving assistance. Naidu promised to do his best.
The deadline for receiving applications for ‘Institutions of Eminence’ is over. This is a pet project of the PMO, aimed at unshackling higher education institutions from regulatory control. Worried that it may not receive a decent number of applications, the PMO had asked the HRD Ministry to hold workshops to raise awareness about the scheme. The step seems to have worked. The ministry has received applications from 100 institutions, of which nearly half are private universities/colleges. Reliance and Bharti groups have also applied to set up new universities under the greenfield category.
As campaigning drew to a close in Gujarat, another rush began for politicians camping in the state for electioneering. Keeping the model code of conduct in mind, political leaders from outside the state started planning early to fly out in order to avoid the evening rush of high-profile campaigners catching evening flights after the campaign closed at 5 pm. Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union I&B Minister Smriti Irani and a host of BJP leaders and workers, who were in the state capital for electioneering, duly complied with the model code of conduct and flew out by Tuesday evening.
Carol In Capital
Christmas will be celebrated in the Delhi Assembly building for the first time. The celebrations will include carol singing and Christmas messages, and will be attended by Speaker Ram Niwas Goel, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and other ministers. Delhi Bishop Anil Couto, Faridabad Bishop Kuriackose Bharanikulangara and Supreme Court Judge Kurian Joseph have been invited for the celebrations, which will be followed by an elaborate Christmas dinner.