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Residents stage protest at the accident site in Amritsar

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Joda Phatak (Punjab)|  A day after a train mowed down over 60 Dussehra revellers, scores of people staged a sit-in on railway tracks here on Saturday, demanding action against the erring officials and train driver and seeking adequate compensation for the victims.

The protesters raised slogans against the state government and demanded action against the train driver.

One of the protesters alleged the train passed through the area at a high speed and that the driver did not slow down the train despite the presence of a large crowd.

Later, police chased away the protesters when they tried to move towards residential areas from the railway tracks.

Police have barricaded the area to prevent the protesters from reassembling.

At least 61 people were killed and 72 injured Friday evening after a crowd of Dussehra revellers that had spilled onto railway tracks while watching burning of Ravana effigy was run over by a train near here, officials said.

The train was coming from Jalandhar when the accident occurred at Joda Phatak near Amritsar, where at least 300 people were watching ‘Ravana dahan’ at a ground adjacent to the tracks.

“Why did the government not ensure proper security arrangements at the time of Dussehra festival? Why such function was allowed to take place near railway tracks?” Sujit Singh, one of protesters, said.

Another protester demanded that the victims be given adequate compensation.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Friday announced immediate ex-gratia compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the next of kin of those killed.

Some protesters blocked the GT Road near the train accident site. They also demanded government jobs for the kin of those killed.

A resident blamed Navjot Kaur Sidhu, the wife of Punjab minister Navjot Sidhu who represents the area in the assembly, for the tragedy.

“The tragic incident could have been averted, had Navjot Kaur Sidhu turned up at the venue on time and had the function not been delayed,” said Deepak who works as a painter.

He said that every year, the effigy of Ravana was burnt between 5.30 pm and 6 pm, but this year it could not happen as Navjot Kaur Sidhu, who was the chief guest at the event, “got late”. The effigy was burnt around 7 pm. “Because of darkness, the tragedy occurred,” he added.

According to villagers, the burning of Ravana effigy as part of Dussehra celebrations has been taking place at the same venue for over 20 years. But, what has been a source of joy and excitement to the young and the old for over two decades turned out to be a nightmare on Friday.

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Legal perspective being sought for quotas for upper castes in Bihar: Nitish Kumar

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Nitish Kumar, the Bihar chief minister today on Monday declared his government will implement quotas for the economically-backward among the unreserved category once they get a legal perspective concerning the suitable modalities.

Nitish Kumar stated that a legal perspective was being sought as to whether the new quotas, which have been brought forth by way of a recent constitutional amendment and are in addition to the existing reservations, could be introduced in the state through an executive order or an Act passed in the legislature.

He also stated that we are bound by the top court judgement, which placed a cap of 50 percent on the quotas for the educationally and socially backward, but added that he is in the support of the demand for increasing the limit to make reservations proportionate to the population of the respective caste groups.

He added, “But opposition parties which are voicing the demand have no clue as to how to go about it. In my view, there should be a fresh tally wherein the separate populations of social segments like SCs, STs and OBCs is taken into account. Based on its report, the nation can move towards ensuring proportional representation for various castes”.

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PM Modi to inaugurate Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas convention in Varanasi on Tuesday

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday will inaugurate the 15th convention of the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas in his parliamentary constituency of Varanasi.

It is for the first time that the three-day long convention is being organized from 21st January to 23rd January in place of 9th January to permit the participants for visiting the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad and attend the parade of Republic Day here.

A statement from the Prime Minister’s office stated that the theme of the convention for this year is ‘role of the Indian diaspora in building new India’.

The chief guest of the convention will be Prime Minister of Mauritius Pravind Jugnauth, whereas a member of Parliament of Norway, Himanshu Gulati will be the special guest. Further, member of Parliament of New Zealand, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, will be the guest of honour.

The decision to celebrate the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas was taken by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the first event was celebrated on 9th January 2003 in Varanasi.

As a matter of fact, January 9 was picked to be the day for the celebration of Pravasi Bharatiya since it was this day in the year 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi had returned from South Africa to India.

The Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas is now celebrated once in every two years and gives a platform to the Indian community overseas for engaging with the government and reconnecting with their roots said the statement.

Pravasi Bharatiya Sammaan, is discussed on the selected overseas Indians for their imperative contributions to different spheres both abroad and in India.

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India among the most trusted nations globally: Reports

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Davos | India is among the most trusted nations globally when it comes to government, business, NGOs and media but the country’s brands are among the least-trusted, according to a report.

The The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer report released on Monday, ahead of the the World Economic Forum (WEF) meet here, noted that the Global Trust Index witnessed a marginal increase of 3 points to 52.

China topped the Trust Index among both the informed public and the general population segments, with scores of 79 and 88 respectively.

India was at the second place in the informed public category and third place in the general population category.

The Index is the average per cent of trust in NGOs, business, government and media.

The findings are based on an online survey in 27 markets covering over 33,000 respondents. The fieldwork was conducted between October 19 and November 16, 2018.

In terms of trust in companies headquartered in each market, the most trusted are those from Switzerland, Germany and Canada. The brands from these countries have a trust score of 70 each while that of Japan is 69 per cent.

However, companies headquartered in India, Mexico and Brazil are the least trusted, followed by China and South Korea, as per the report.

While the score of India and Brazil is 40 per cent, that of Mexico and China stood at 36 per cent and 41 per cent, respectively.

The report noted that there is a growing feeling of pessimism about the future, with only one-in-three mass population respondents in the developed world believing his or her family would be better off in the next five years.

Among the mass population, just one-in-five believe the system is working for them and 70 percent desire change. And despite a full-employment economy, fear of job loss remains high among the general population.

This is based on views of respondents about global companies headquartered in specific countries and how much these firms are trusted by them ‘to do what is right’.

According to the report, globally ‘my employer’ is significantly more trusted than NGOs, business, government and media

“The last decade has seen a loss of faith in traditional authority figures and institutions,” said Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman.

When it comes to reliable sources for news, search and traditional are among the most trusted. Search and traditional media have a score of 66 each, while the score of social media is 44 per cent, the report noted.

“73 per cent worry about false information or fake news being used as a weapon,” it added.

Stephen Kehoe, global chair, Reputation at Edelman said that divergent levels of confidence between the mass population and informed public about the future signal a continued underlying rot in the structure of society.

“While not everyone is taking to the streets, the data shows why protests like the Gilet Jaunes in France, the women’s marches in India and walkouts by employees at some major tech companies could become more mainstream,” Kehoe said.

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