Sonia Asks Centre For Proper Budget Allocation To MGNREGA

Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday urged the Central government to ensure proper budget allocation for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) while also making payment of wages to labourers within 15 days of work.

Sonia Gandhi raised the issue in Lok Sabha, claiming that the MGNREGS budget for the current year is 35 per cent less than that of 2020 even when unemployment is continuously rising in the country.

“The MGNREGA, which was mocked by several people a few years ago, provided timely help to crores of affected poor families during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown and played a positive role in saving the government. Still, constant cuts are being made in the budgetary allocation for the MGNREGS,” the Congress interim president stated.

Lashing out at the Centre, Sonia Gandhi said the workers’ payments get delayed due to less allocation of budget for MGNREGS, adding that the Supreme Court has called this “forced labour”.

She charged that the lesser allocation to the flagship scheme amounted to the weakening of the legal guarantee of timely payment and jobs.

Further, Sonia Gandhi asserted that timely payments to labourers should be ensured legally and an annual action plan of states be determined without any delay.

“I urge Centre that proper allocation of budget be done for MGNREGA, payment of wages be ensured for labourers within 15 days of work, and in case of delay in payment compensation should be ensured legally and an annual action plan of states be determined without any delay,” the Congress interim president said.

She also said that the labourers cannot be punished by delaying their payments due to the delayed social audit and appointment of Lokpal.

“States were told that their yearly labour budget won’t be approved unless they meet conditions related to social audit and appointment of Lokpal. A social audit should be made effective but labourers can’t be punished by stopping the money for this, based on shortcomings,” Sonia Gandhi added. (ANI)

Zelenskyy Asks For Fresh Sanction Against Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for further sanctions on Russia during a virtual address to the Australian parliament on Thursday, according to media report.

“The distance between our country is big,” said Zelenskyy, adding “but there is no such thing as distance to Russians’ brutality to our Ukrainian land.”
Zelenskyy warned of great implications to global security if Russia isn’t stopped and also spoke about what will come after the war, calling on nations and companies to invest in the restoration of Ukraine, CNN reported.

He specifically spoke about the development of ports and cities on the Black Sea and rebuilding the naval sector.

Meanwhile, an evacuation corridor had been agreed with the Russians for the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, Ukrainian officials said Thursday.

The Ukrainian side received a message through the International Committee of the Red Cross confirming Russian readiness to open a “humanitarian corridor” from Mariupol through the city of Berdiansk, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in a statement on Telegram.

Earlier on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden held talks with Zelenskyy where the Ukrainian President updated his counterpart on the status of Kyiv’s negotiations with Moscow.

“President Biden spoke with President Zelenskyy of Ukraine today at 10:45 AM EDT to discuss US continued support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression. President Biden’s Call with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy was convened at 11:08 EDT. President Biden’s secure call with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy was completed at 12:03 PM EDT.” as per the White House Press Office.

Notably, Russia launched its invasion last month after recognizing the Ukrainian breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as “independent republics.” Russia has since continued to maintain that the aim of its operations has been to “demilitarize” and “de-nazify” the country.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, many Western nations and European countries have imposed tough sanctions on Russia targeting its economy and financial system. (ANI)

GAIL Announces ₹1,083-cr Share Buyback Plan

The government-run GAIL (India) Limited on Thursday said it plans to buyback Rs 1,083 crore worth of shares of the company under a share buyback plan.

The decision was taken by the Company’s Board of Directors at its meeting held in the national capital to consider buyback of the fully paid-up equity shares of the company.

The Board approved buyback of about 5.70 crore shares through tender offer represents 2.50 per cent of its paid-up capital and free reserves as on March 31, 2021, GAIL said in a statement.

The Board approved buyback of shares @ Rs 190 per share aggregating to about Rs 1,083 crore (excluding taxes). The buyback price of equity share is at a 24 per cent premium on the previous day’s close price at the National Stock Exchange (NSE).

The share price of GAIL surged 1.40 per cent to Rs 155.55 at the BSE on Thursday.

GAIL is the largest integrated natural gas marketing and transmission company having its presence along entire natural gas value chain comprising gas transmission and marketing, LPG transmission, gas processing, petrochemicals, LNG imports, Exploration & Production and City Gas Distribution.

GAIL owns and operates around 13,840 km which is 74 per cent of total length of cross-country natural gas pipeline network in 28 states and Union Territories. GAIL is leading gas marketing Company in India which sells around 52 per cent of natural gas and 44 per cent of LNG sold in India. (ANI)

Shilpa’s ‘Nikamma’ To Release On June 17

Shilpa Shetty-starrer ‘Nikamma’ has got a release date. It will be out in theatres on June 17 this year.

On Thursday, Shilpa took to Instagram and shared the update with her followers.

“Ab intezaar khatam aur entertainment Shuru ! Mark your calendars guys ‘Nikamma’ is releasing in a THEATRE close to you on the 17th June 2022,” she wrote.

She also dropped a boomerang video with her co-stars Shirley Setia and Abhimanyu Dassani.

Helmed by Sabbir Khan, ‘Nikamma’ is touted as a family entertainer. (ANI)

More Players Want To Be Sunil Chhetri: Luis Garcia

Former Liverpool and Barcelona striker Luis Garcia has backed the potential of Indian football to do better in the future.

Garcia is well aware of the talent that Indian football possesses as he was the first marquee player in the Indian Super League (ISL) back in 2014. The Spaniard famously guided Atletico de Kolkata to the ISL trophy in the inaugural edition of the football league.

“Definitely, there is potential there, there is talent and there is a passion which is very important. More players want to be Sunil Chhetri and that is how you are going to make a competitive squad that can challenge to be in the World Cup one day,” Luis Garcia told ANI while talking about the future and potential of Indian football.

Garcia also weighed in about the chances of Liverpool and Manchester City in the Premier League title race.

The 43-year-old said: “Tough question because they are close. Very very close, both are involved in the massive competition. I think the key competition is who is going to rotate better. Who is going to do this kind of rotation (with players).”

“Guardiola does not like to change at the weekend. Jurgen Klopp is managing a little bit differently with a lot of rotation when they play the cup and when they play the champions league. So, I think it is going to be about who is going to arrive better. If you are going to call it now then both are fantastic and both can win it,” he added.

Garcia also talked about the upset created by North Macedonia against European champions Italy in the FIFA World Cup play-offs. The Spaniard who was attending a launch event in New Delhi of the first-ever ‘eLaLiga Trophy powered by Hero Vired’ said: “No, I think that at the end this kind of thing happens. There was a lot of pressure on the Italian team. They won the Euro so everybody was expecting the Italian team to be in the World Cup. They were the favourites in the game against North Macedonia. But Macedonia were the dark horse and they surprised the Italians.”

“These kinds of things happen more often. Football has become more competitive. It is very difficult to win every single game. Macedonia were better in that kind of situation and they had the advantage to try and be the dark horse and surprise the Italians,” Garcia said. (ANI)

LS Passes Bill To Unify 3 Municipal Corporations In Delhi

Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed a bill that seeks to unify the three municipal corporations in Delhi into a single entity.

The Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2022 was passed by the House after a reply by Home Minister Amit Shah.

He rejected opposition allegations that the BJP-led government had brought the bill as it was “scared” of municipal polls in the national capital.

The bill seeks to ensure a robust mechanism for synergised planning and optimal utilisation of resources and bring about improved governance and more efficient delivery of civic service for the people of Delhi. (ANI)

UN Special Envoy Holds Dialogue With Women Reps In Kabul

Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Mette Knudsen, on Wednesday, held a dialogue with women students and representatives in Kabul.

During the talks, Knudsen said no more time should be wasted for girls to be able to return to high school.

“No more time should be wasted for girls to be able to return to high schools. It is in the interest of all Afghans that the rights of women and girls be respected. UNAMA Deputy Head Mette Knudsen today held a dialogue with women students and representatives in Kabul,” UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a tweet.

Knudsen earlier met University representatives in Kabul and urged equal access to education for boys and girls.

These meetings come as the Taliban has imposed an indefinite ban on allowing female students above the sixth-grade access to schools.

Since taking over power in August last year, the Taliban have rolled back women’s rights in virtually every area, including crushing women’s freedom of movement.

The vast majority of girls’ secondary schools were closed. Universities recently reopened, with new gender segregation rules. But many women are unable to return, in part because the career they studied for is now off-limits as the Taliban banned women from most jobs.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) women and girls are blocked from accessing health care as well. Reports suggest that women and girls facing violence have no escape route.

Allowing girls into schools and other educational institutes has been one of the main demands of the international community.

The majority of countries have refused to formally recognise the Taliban amid worries over their treatment of girls and women and other human rights issues. (ANI)

Sharmaji Namkeen: Ranbir, Alia, Aamir Recreate ‘Om Shanti Om’ Song

Ahead of the release of late Rishi Kapoor’s last film ‘Sharmaji Namkeen’, several Bollywood stars paid a special tribute to the iconic star by recreating his hit song ‘Om Shanti Om’.

Celebrities featured in the dance tribute video include Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Aamir Khan, Farhan Akhtar, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Vicky Kaushal, Arjun Kapoor, Siddhant Chaturvedi, Ananya Pandey, Aadar Jain and Tara Sutaria.

These B-town celebs sported attire inspired by Rishi Kapoor’s sparkly silver outfit in the song and shook a leg to the evergreen love anthem from the blockbuster film ‘Karz’, following the iconic star’s dance moves.

The heartwarming tribute ended with the perfectly-suited phrase, “Heroes come and go but legends are forever.”

Directed by Hitesh Bhatia, ‘Sharmaji Namkeen’ is an Excel Entertainment Film in association with MacGuffin Pictures.

In the film, legendary actors — late Rishi Kapoor and Paresh Rawal — play the coming of age story of the retired protagonist.

Paresh Rawal stepped into the late actor’s role as the film’s shooting could not be completed due to Kapoor’s unfortunate demise.

Apart from Kapoor and Rawal, the movie has an ensemble cast of Juhi Chawla, Suhail Nayyar, Taaruk Raina, Satish Kaushik, Sheeba Chaddha and Isha Talwar.

‘Sharmaji Namkeen’ will have its exclusive global premiere on March 31, 2022, on Amazon Prime Video. (ANI)

Anushka Treats Fans With Goofy BTS Video

Bollywood actor Anushka Sharma is making sure to keep her fans entertained with the pictures and videos she shares from her daily routine and shooting.

On Wednesday, the ‘PK’ actor took to her Instagram handle and shared a behind-the-scenes video from one of her shoots where she can be seen having fun in front of the camera.

She donned a beige coloured crop top with the same coloured pants and left her short hair open with minimal makeup. Her smile is proof that she is having a lot of fun while shooting BTS videos.

She captioned the BTS video post that read, “Shooting pe”.

The post was flooded with likes and comments. A fan wrote, “So Pretty” while another fan wrote, “Cutie”.

Talking about Anushka’s work front, she will be making a comeback after a break of almost 3 years with Jhulan Goswami’s biopic named ‘Chakda Xpress’. The movie will focus on the hardships and challenges the cricketer had to face to make a place in the world of cricket. (ANI)

Rahul To Meet Telangana Cong Leaders In Delhi Today

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will meet senior party leaders from Telangana at his residence on Wednesday.

A discussion is likely to take place on the political situation in the state and also about digital membership in the state, said sources.

Telangana Congress leaders including state party chief Revanth Reddy, MPs Uttam Kumar Reddy, Komatireddy Venkat Reddy among others will be present. AICC in-charge of the Telangana Manickam Tagore will also attend the meeting.

With Congress making efforts for the success of its membership drive, the party’s Telangana unit is ahead of other southern states in enrolling new members, party sources said.

The membership drive began on November 1 and the emphasis seems to be on digital membership to make the party better prepared for electoral challenges.

The sources said around 40 lakh members had enrolled in Telangana, 34 lakh in Karnataka, 15 lakh in Maharashtra, 10 lakh in Gujarat, 10 lakh in Kerala, five lakh in Chhattisgarh, four lakh in Bihar, three lakh in Delhi and three lakh in Rajasthan.

The southern states appear to have an upper hand in terms of Congress membership drive. Party leaders are trying to boost the ‘digital membership’ drive in all states including the five where assembly polls were held in February-March.

Congress is keen that those who have taken membership via ‘paper’ are also part of the digital register. This, the party feels, will help in better preparations for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

The party’s membership drive is expected to be completed on March 31.

Sources said about 4.5 crore people have become members of Congress so far with options available for enrolling through paper and digitally. (ANI)