Bulletin: 54/2017

The calendar is changing to a new year and I have some really exciting plans for new kinds of content from Information Factory. First of them is starting today, called the Bulletin. I plan this to be a weekly post on every Sunday with snippets of interesting news that are not as widely covered. Here is the first Information Factory Bulletin, starting with the last week of 2017.

Less than 2 years into it’s term, the CPI(M) led government in Kerala could see the resignation of a 4th minister from the cabinet. After E. P. Jayarajan, A. K. Saseendran and Thomas Chandy, minister of health and family welfare K.K.Shailaja is now facing allegations of corruption. An investigation by Janam TV has revealed that the minister used fake bills from a “5-star” private hospital to claim reimbursement of medical expenses of her husband and mother-in-law, for treatment that did not happen. While claiming the reimbursements, the minister presented her husband as a dependent despite him being a government pensioner and the chairman of Mattannur municipality.  A reimbursement was also claimed for such things as a pair of spectacles worth ₹ 28,000.

According to a report in Times of India, Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam (TTD) has issued notices to about 40 employees who were identified to be practicing a religion other than Hinduism. TTD is the trust responsible for managing the affairs of the Venkateswaraswamy temple in Tirumala and is required to employ only practicing Hindus. The current action comes after it was reported that the Deputy Executive Officer in the TTD Welfare Department uses an official vehicle of the trust to visit a church every Sunday. The report had elicited widespread protests by the devotees.

Government of India has sacked the Vice Chancellor of Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University. It was alleged that the Vice Chancellor permitted several affiliated colleges to increase their student intake above the prescribed number. The decision comes following investigation by a government appointed committee that found the allegations to be true. This is the third instance of a Vice Chancellor of a Central University being sacked in recent years. Vice Chancellors of Pondicherry University and Visva Bharati University also faced similar action.

In Uttarakhand, a group called Madrasa Welfare Society has approached the state government with a demand to include Sanskrit in the curriculum of these institutions. The demand seemingly is to facilitate the madrasa graduates to become Ayurvedic doctors. The Madrasa Education Board of Uttarakhand has, however, rejected the demand citing technical difficulties.

The 105th Indian Science Congress (ISC) has been moved to Central University, Imphal. The decision was taken after the administrators of the original venue for the meeting, Osmania University, Hyderabad, expressed an inability to host due to a security situation arising from student unrest.

In an attempt in improve women’s safety in the state, government of Uttar Pradesh is going to train about 2 lakh girl students from the state’s colleges and will accord them the status of a special police officer (SPO). They even have a neat name for these SPOs – Power Angels.

In Kerala, CPI(M) forced a dawn-to-dusk shutdown of Payyoli town to protest the arrest of its members for the murder of an opposition politician. CBI has arrested 9 members of CPI(M) for the 2012 murder of BJP/RSS worker Manoj in Payyoli. Those arrested include district level leaders of the communist party and members of the local municipal council. In a report submitted to the Magistrate, CBI highlighted how the Kerala Police had botched the original investigation, probably under political pressure.

In Bihar, about 50 leftist terrorists attacked and burned down the construction vehicles and equipment of a company that was engaged to construct rural roads and ponds. What enraged the Maoists was that the construction company refused to bow down to their threats and demands for ransom. The bravery Maoists displayed against unarmed laborers and machines was, however, missing when the Chattisgarh police raided a hideout in Dantewada.

The Hindu has a report about a disturbing trend with clinical trials in the country. It appears that there are increasing instances of people from economically weaker strata volunteering repeatedly to participate in clinical trials to supplement their income. These repeat volunteers often provide incorrect information to the researchers resulting in unfortunate outcomes, for themselves and their families.

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