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S S Ahluwalia takes charge as MoS for electronics and IT, pushes for digital offices

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New Delhi: Minister of State (MoS) for Electronics and IT S S Ahluwalia today said it is important that workplaces enable digital and paperless systems to help provide a carbon-free society to coming generations.

The minister, who took charge of his new office today, said he will work towards expansion of the government’s Digital India initiatives.

Ahluwalia was earlier serving as MoS for Drinking Water and Sanitation and has been assigned the new role as part of the recent Cabinet reshuffle.

“I feel that digital, paperless offices will contribute a lot to the society…We will be able to give a carbon-free society to our future generations,” he told reporters here.

He highlighted the important role played by information and communications technology (ICT), referring to it as the ‘spine’ that plays critical role in the well-being of individuals.

Ahluwalia was elected to Rajya Sabha in 1986 and since then, has undertaken a variety of roles across ministries like agriculture and parliamentary affairs.

Asked if the new mandate would be challenging, Ahluwalia said he likes taking on such roles.

“I am the only one in my family in 14 generations to become a politician, most others are technocrats…I take on everything as a challenge,” he said.

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Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee no more

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Vajpayee was awarded Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award for his contribution towards the Indian Democracy.

New Delhi | Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Thursday died at the age of 93.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS)  9 weeks ago after he was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection

Veteran BJP Leader Vajpayee was the 10th Prime minister of India. He served as the Prime minister of India for a term for 13 days in 1996 and later from 1998 to 2004. In 2004 Vajpayee was awarded Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award for his contribution towards the Indian Democracy. A 10-time Member of Loksabha and 2 time Rajya Sabha Member, Vajpayee political career extended over 4 decades.

Impressed by the oratorical skills of Vajpayee, then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had predicted that Vajpayee would someday become India’s Prime Minister.

The Indian government celebrates Vajpayee’ birthday “Good Governance Day” on 25 December.

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Kerala flood situation grave, says Supreme Court

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New Delhi | The Supreme Court today directed the Disaster Management sub-committee of Mullaperiyar Dam to consider reducing water level up to 139 feet from the present 142 feet, considering the “grave” flood situation in all the 14 districts of Kerala.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Indu Malhotra took a serious note of the grim flood situation in Kerala and asked the sub-committee to hold an urgent meeting tomorrow morning with the Centre’s National Crisis Management Committee (NCMS) and the Chief Secretaries of Tamil Nadu and Kerala through a video-conference if physical presence of officials cannot be ensured.

“An effort has to be made to bring down the water level of the Mullaperiyar dam to 139 ft so that the people living downstream should not live in constant fear,” the bench said.

However, Tamil Nadu government opposed the plea with regard to bringing down the water level in the dam, saying that the inflow of water presently is over 12,000 cusec in contrast to the outflow of 5,000 cusec.

The bench said this was not the time to go into the past and efforts to be made to deal with the present crisis and posted the matter for further hearing at 2 PM tomorrow.

The bench also directed that the affected and displaced people be given adequate relief immediately.

It also directed the committee and the NCMS to come out with a disaster management plan and asked Tamil Nadu and Kerala governments to implement with the decisions of the panel.

The Centre, represented by Additional Solicitor General P S Narasimha, informed the court that the NCMS had a meeting today and all possible reliefs are being sent to the flood-affected people of Kerala.

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Kerala floods: Death toll rises to 87; Centre launches massive rescue operation

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Thiruvananthapuram | Constant rain and landslides has created a major havoc in the state of Kerala since last week resulting in death toll to reach up to 87. The Central government has launched a massive rescue operation in order to tackle the increasing flood like situation.

The government has asked the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF), Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard to mobilise additional manpower, boats and helicopters to scale up the rescue and relief operations. The state government along with additional support from Centre government has started a war scale rescue operation in worst-effected Pathanamthitta district in south Kerala.

Earlier 926 were rescued by the NDRF team to a safer place at Pathamithitta, Kozzhikode, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Alappuzha. The Indian coast guard has also mobilised ten teams to assist District Disaster Management Authority in evacuating people from the flood-affected areas. Additional coast guard have been placed at Patanamthitta, Munanbam, Aranmula, Idukki, Ferok-Calicut, and Allepy respectively whereas two relief teams each have been dispatched for Aluva and Chengannur.

Addressing the press, Chief Minister P Vijayan said, the Centre had taken steps to press into service 30 helicopters of the Air Force and Navy by evening and to keep four more as standby at the Sulur airbase. Two Coast Guard ships were already on their way to Kochi. The Armed forces would supply dried food in packets to the flood victims while the Railways would provide drinking water packets. The situation in the flood-hit areas was grim, but not alarming. However, people living on riverbanks would do well to move at least one kilometre away.

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