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India working to reduce carbon footprint by 30-35%: Narendra Modi




Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said India is trying to reduce its carbon footprint by 30-35 per cent and working to double its oil refining capacity in the next 5 years.

He stressed on Gujarat’s solar power movement and said that the energy sector can provide growth and jobs alike. He was virtually addressing the 8th Convocation of Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University in Gandhinagar.

“India is trying to reduce its carbon footprint by 30-35% today. The world was amazed when they got to know about it. We need to increase natural gas’ usage by 4 times in our need for energy. We are also working to double the oil refining capacity of the nation in the next 5 years,” the PM said.

He also said that India is moving swiftly on the solar energy scale.

“Today, the per unit cost has dropped from Rs 12-13 to under Rs 2,” he claimed and added that Solar power has become an “integral part of the nation”.

Modi added that the aim is 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022.

Though acknowledging that the students who are graduating on Saturday are facing an unusual time due to the pandemic, the Prime Minister told them to follow the 4-Ps’.

“It is not an easy thing to graduate at a time when the world is facing such a big crisis.

“But your abilities are much bigger than these challenges. More important than what the Problems are. It is what is your Purpose, Preference and Plan,” he said.

The Prime Minister added that today, major changes were also taking place in the energy sector of the whole world. But in such a situation, there is limitless potential for growth, entrepreneurship and employment in this sector in India, he added.

“There was a time when people questioned how far such a university would be able to grow. But the students here, the professors and the professionals who have left here have answered all these questions,” he said proudly.

He also highlighted that in the last 15 years, PDPU has widened its network in not just the petroleum sector, but all other energy sectors as well. Hence, he urged the Gujarat government to amend laws, if possible and convert the university into an ‘Energy University’ from just being a ‘Petroleum University’.

Connecting the graduates with PM’s ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’, he said that he is confident that with their skill, talent and professionalism, they will emerge as a “big force of self-reliant India”.

During the convocation, the Prime Minister also laid the foundation stone of “45 MW Production Plant of Monocrystalline Solar Photo Voltaic Panel” and “Centre of Excellence on Water Technology”.

The convocation was also witness to the Prime Minister inaugurating other facilities like “Innovation and Incubation Centre – Technology Business Incubation”.

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Delhi Minister Gopal Rai tests positive for Covid-19




Delhi Environment Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Gopal Rai on Thursday said he has tested positive for coronavirus infection. Rai suffered from corona-related symptoms after which he underwent a test which turned out to be positive. He is now in self-quarantine.

During the last 24 hours, 5,246 persons in Delhi have been found positive for coronavirus while 99 persons have died. According to the Delhi government, overall 8,720 persons have died from Covid-19 till now in the national Capital.

Gopal Rai on Thursday said, “After initial symptoms of suffering from Covid-19, I had undergone a corona test whose report came positive. Those who have come in contact with me in the last few days, I urge them to take care of your health and immediately get yourself tested for the infection.”

The Minister has mild symptoms of corona and his present health condition is stable. He has been very active for the last few days over the increasing pollution levels in Delhi. During this time he also held several meetings. However, after having tested positive for Covid-19, Rai has postponed the meetings with all other departments under his jurisdiction.

Before Gopal Rai, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister and Education Minister Manish Sisodia and Health Minister Satyendar Jain had also been infected with coronavirus.

Apart from several Delhi Ministers, many MLAs from the AAP have also been detected to be corona positive including Pramila Tokas, Girish Soni, Rajesh Gupta, Rituraj Govind Jha, Virender Singh Kadian, Surendra Kumar, Vishesh Ravi and BJP MLA Ajay Mahawar. However, all of them have recovered from the deadly infection.

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Farmers who fear losing MSP at vanguard of protest: P. Chidambaram




P. Chidambaram is former Finance and Home Minister of the country and a senior leader of the Congress. His views on economic matters have always held value. He spoke on a wide range of issues from farmers MSP to the Covid-hit economy making a V-shaped recovery.

Lambasting the government’s economic mismanagement, he argued that not only was it status quoist but was regressive.

Excerpts from an exclusive interview with IANS:

Q: Where do you think the govt is using the petro product excise funds? Even as it keeps retail fuel prices elevated and consumers burdened? Is it diverting them to social welfare schemes?

A: It is difficult to answer the question without looking at the Budget Estimates (BE) and the actual expenditure till date under each welfare scheme and other schemes. In broad terms, it would be correct to say that government’s budgeted revenues are not being realized; that expenditure under certain heads like defence and health will be over the initial estimates; and that expenditure has been curtailed under some heads. Yet there is a larger gap than budgeted between total revenues and total expenditure. Hence, the additional revenue earned through mid-year taxation is perhaps going into filling the gap and containing the revenue and fiscal deficits.

Q: The Modi govt over the last six years seems to have followed the UPA welfare economics model and seems to have succeeded with deeper administrative reform by winning several elections predicated on this path?

A: In the last six years, the BJP has won elections and has lost elections. You seem to have forgotten that in the last six years the BJP lost elections in Karnataka, Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Maharashtra. Besides, the BJP performed poorly in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. It is correct that the BJP has relied entirely on the welfare schemes conceived and first implemented under the UPA governments. I don’t have any evidence of “deeper administrative reforms”.

Q: How severe do you think the impact of Covid is on the economy and do you see the consumption economy making a V-shaped return?

A: The impact will be very severe. India will be among the most affected economies, according to the IMF and Oxford Economics. A recovery will be delayed and gradual. I do not expect a V-shaped recovery.

Q: The government finances seem to be in disarray, states are making a ruckus over GST compensation, what does the future hold?

A: Both the Centre’s and the States’ finances are in disarray. The central government has not kept its promises to devolve the states’ share of tax revenues or grants or GST compensation. The future is bleak for a federal system.

Q: The contentious farm bills have drawn the ire of the farm community but do you think the Congress has made it a political rallying point? Where has the govt let down the farmers, seems to be good reform?

A: The severe drawbacks of the farm bills have been highlighted and exposed, I do not wish to repeat them here. The crucial question is MSP: how many farmers get MSP today and how many will get it in the future? Farmers who have traditionally benefited from MSP, and fear losing it, are the farmers in the forefront of the protest. For the Congress that built the three pillars of the current food security system – MSP, Public Procurement and PDS – it is an article of the party’s faith that we must fight for MSP and PDS.

Q: Is this govt a status quoist when it comes to economic reform or do you think they have been bold?

A: The BJP government is not only status quoist, it is regressive. It is adopting policies that will take us back to the era of protection, autarky, licenses and controls.

Q: Should the RBI give corporates bank licenses? Are you happy with the conduct of the central bank at this crucial time in our imperials economic and financial System?

A: No, allowing corporates and business houses into the banking sector to set up full-fledged banks is a bad idea. I have already given our reasons. We support the analysis made by Dr Raghuram Rajan and Dr Viral Acharya. The RBI has yielded much of its autonomy to the government, which is a matter of grave concern.

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Priyanka Gandhi slams Centre as police use water cannons on farmers in Haryana




Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Thursday slammed the Narendra Modi government after the Haryana Police used water cannons, tear gas to disperse agitating Punjab farmers at Shambhu border, who were marching to Delhi to oppose the controversial agriculture laws.

In a tweet in Hindi, Priyanka said, “Instead of listening to the voice of the farmers over the Agriculture laws which snatched the support price from them, the BJP government is attacking them with water cannons in the chilling cold season. Everything is being taken away from the farmers while the government is distributing banks, loan waivers, airports, railway stations to capitalists.”

She also attached a video showing water canons being used on the protesting farmers.

Congress General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala also slammed the government and in a tweet in Hindi said, “Modiji, since when the Delhi ‘durbar’ has been threatened by the farmers of the country? To stop the farmers, the government has deployed their sons in the form of army troopers. Wished if same vigil was adopted on the India-China border, then China would not have dared to infiltrate on our land. Why are your priorities always wrong?”

The farmers have announced to march to Delhi to oppose the Agriculture Laws that were passed in Parliament in September this year. The farmers have been demanding the revocation of these laws.

The farmers were undeterred even as the Haryana Police set up road barricades and diversions on the highways to prevent them from reaching the national capital as part of their ‘Delhi Chalo’ march. The farmers have also threatened to block all roads to Delhi if authorities stopped them during their march.

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