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Friday, October 22, 2021

Daily Briefing: UP expands Cabinet; Nitish Kumar urges Centre to reconsider caste census

Read the latest on UP cabinet expansion ahead of the upcoming assembly polls, Punjab's cabinet choices before upcoming oath ceremony, the debate on caste census and our Idea Exchange with JD(U) leader Rajiv Ranjan Singh.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
September 27, 2021 8:28:30 am
A look at the top news today, September 28, 2021.

The Big Story

“Social balance” was the theme for BJP’s Cabinet expansion in Uttar Pradesh, with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath saying the induction of seven new Ministers  “gives representation to all sections”. The inductions, however, did not cover the influential Jat community from western UP, which is protesting over the Centre’s farm laws. They also indicate a sense of desperation within the BJP, with the state polls looming, as it comes during the “pitri-paksha” period considered to be inauspicious by Hindus.

And in Punjab, the Congress was barely able to decide on all the names of ministers till a few hours before the oath-taking ceremony. Out of the 15 MLAs inducted into the Charanjit Singh Channi cabinet, there are seven new faces and eight former minister have been retained. 

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In this edition of the Idea Exchange, JD(U) leader Rajiv Ranjan Singh asserts the 2020 poll results were not anti-Nitish, denies charges of political patronage in state water scheme contracts, and talks about why Prashant Kishor was let go.

RJD leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav writes on why we need a caste census: “If inclusive development is the constitutional priority of our country, then we must demand the socio-economic caste enumeration and make it publicly available so that our development policies and programmes can be accordingly shaped with an avowed commitment to empowering the people and communities on the margins.” 

From the Front Page

Meanwhile, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar too has reiterated his call for a caste census, saying it will be “in the national interest”, and urged the Centre to “reconsider” its position against such an exercise. He had previously led a 10-party delegation from the state, including JD(U)’s principal rival RJD, to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue. 

Tripura CM Biplab Kumar Deb has gone viral on social media courtesy his speech asking civil service officials and executives to work for the people without “worrying about contempt of court”. He further said that it is not easy to make indiscriminate arrests as the CM is “in charge of the police”. The statements have drawn bitter recriminations from opposition parties, with Trinamool Congress General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee calling Deb a “disgrace to the entire nation” for “mocking the judiciary”.

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Curtains bisecting rooms “like in hospitals”, cubicles with curtains fitted with jaalis, and separate shifts for women and men. More than a month after the Taliban took over Afghanistan, these are among the elaborate plans drawn up by prominent public universities to implement the new regime’s gender segregation policy. In the absence of any clear roadmap from the Taliban regime on the future of women’s higher education, public universities in the country such as Kabul University, established in 1932, or the three-decade-old Kandahar University, face an anxious wait.

A teachers’ entrance examination saw an unprecedented shutdown of internet services and businesses across Rajasthan on the orders of the administration. Nearly 16 lakh candidates appeared for the Rajasthan Eligibility Examination for Teachers— held to recruit Level 1 (class 1-5) and Level 2 (classes 6-8) teachers — in 4,019 centres across the state. The move came after Principal Secretary, Home, Abhay Kumar had written to the state, divisional and district officials to take a call on suspending internet services to enforce law and order, and to prevent fraud during the exam.

In what is being seen as a candid assessment of the challenges in India-China ties, India’s ambassador to Beijing Vikram Misri has listed “avoid shifting goalposts”, “take a one-sided view of concerns and sensitivities”, and “viewing bilateral relations through the prism of relations with other countries” as “obstacles which could block progress” in the relationship. This is the most frank analysis of the problem in the bilateral relationship by the Indian envoy, a year-and-half after the border stand-off in Ladakh began. 

A day after a school principal was suspended and two cooks were sacked in Uttar Pradesh’s Mainpuri after allegations of caste-based discrimination were brought to the fore by the Pradhan of the village, he said he was being threatened by the Thakurs for his complaint. It was found that utensils used by children from the Scheduled Castes for their mid-day meals were kept apart on the premises, and washed by the children themselves. “They are openly saying that they won’t let a Dalit continue to remain the village pradhan. They used caste slurs on me as well,” Sahab Singh said.


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