QBullet: US Allays H-1B Concerns; Assange Gets Ecuador Citizenship
Here’s a roundup of the top headlines of the day.
1. US Will Continue to Be a Country of Immigrants: Kenneth Juster Addresses H-1B Visa Concerns
There could be some refinements in the visa processes in the United State, but that will not change the fundamental fact that the US is a country of immigrants, US ambassador to India Kenneth Juster said on Thursday, allaying apprehensions about the possibility of change in the H-1B visa regime that could affect around 7,50,000 Indian H-1B visa holders.
Juster added that India has the opportunity of becoming a preferred destination for US companies, over China, and that there is no contradiction between the Trump administration’s America First policy and the Narendra Modi government’s Make in India campaign.
Juster made the remarks in his first interaction with the media in India after assuming office.
2. Won't Give an Inch in South Mumbai for Navy Housing: Nitin Gadkari
Reacting sharply to the Navy’s objections over the construction of a floating jetty at Malabar Hill in south Mumbai, Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Thursday that he will “never give an inch” of land to the force in the area, and asked Naval officials to “go to the Pakistan border”.
Speaking at an event in Mumbai, in the presence of Vice Admiral Girish Luthra, Commander-in-Chief, Western Naval Command, Gadkari said, “When they come to me asking for land in south Mumbai, I will never give an inch. Everyone wants to have houses and quarters in south Mumbai. Why should they live in south Mumbai? Why can’t they go to the Pakistan border, which they patrol?”
3. Indu Malhotra to Be First Woman Judge in Supreme Court Directly From Bar
Senior Advocate Indu Malhotra will be the first woman lawyer to be directly elevated from the Bar to the Supreme Court as a judge. Her name was cleared unanimously by the Supreme Court Collegium, which met on Wednesday.
The five-member Collegium, comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, also recommended elevation of Uttarakhand Chief Justice KM Joseph to the Supreme Court.
The elevation of Malhotra and Joseph, as and when approved by the Centre, will take the strength of judges in the Supreme Court to 27 as against the sanctioned 31.
4. India confirms NSAs met in Bangkok
The National Security Advisers (NSAs) of India and Pakistan met on 26 December in Bangkok, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) confirmed on Thursday.
MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said it was part of the mechanism to hold Pakistan accountable for the terrorism that emanates from its territory.
“We raised the issue of cross-border terrorism in those talks because our main issue is how to ensure the safety of our region from the scourge of cross-border terrorism. We have said earlier that talks and terror cannot go together but ‘talks on terror’ can definitely go ahead,” Mr Kumar said, acknowledging that the NSA-level parleys are part of the ‘operational-level talks’ that take place between India and Pakistan, despite the breakdown in the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue (CBD) that was launched in December 2015.
5. Is Delhi Safer? Police Data Shows Fall in Crime in 2017
The year 2017 has proved to be a good year for the police in Delhi. After several years, almost all genres of crimes – including crimes against women – have dipped, data released by the police at its annual press conference on Thursday shows. Road fatalities were down as well.
According to police data, not only have heinous crimes like murder, dacoity and robbery – the prime indicators of a crime situation in a city – gone down significantly, but more cases were solved as well. According to police commissioner Amulya Patnaik, a focused approach to combating crime and strengthening ground level constabulary had resulted in this reduction.
6. Greater Noida: Constable Rapes 7-Year-Old, Arrested After Mob Roughs Him Up
A constable in the Uttar Pradesh Police allegedly abducted and raped a seven-year-old girl from his locality in Greater Noida, police said on Thursday.
The constable, 45-year-old Subhash Singh, posted in the sales tax department in Gautam Budh Nagar, was beaten by locals before being handed to the police. He has been booked under the stringent Protection of Children against Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, which carries a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Police said the incident occurred at around 3 pm on Wednesday in Greater Noida’s Surajpur locality, where the accused and the victim live in adjacent buildings. The victim’s mother, a single parent, works as a labourer in a factory.
7. TN Transport Workers Call off Strike, Buses to Ply From Early Morning
The Madras High Court on Thursday appointed its former judge E Padmanabhan as an arbitrator to adjudicate the dispute between the government and transport corporation employees over the quantum of wage revision and directed the striking workers to resume work.
Later in the night, the trade unions affiliated to Opposition political parties called off the strike. The protest came to an end after eight days, during which commuters all over the state faced severe difficulties. Centre of Indian Trade Unions leader A Soundararajan said the strike was called off and workers would resume work from Friday morning.
8. Ecuador Gives Assange Citizenship, Seeks Solution With Britain
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was “naturalised” as an Ecuadorean on 12 December, at his request, Ecuador’s foreign minister said on Thursday, adding that she was seeking a “dignified” solution to his situation with Britain.
Britain said earlier on Thursday it had refused a request by Ecuador for Mr Assange to be given diplomatic status, a spokesman for Britain's Foreign Office said.
Mr Assange has been holed up for more than five years in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he was granted asylum in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over rape allegations.
9. Wrestler Sukhchain Singh Cheema dies in road accident
Renowned wrestler and coach Sukhchain Singh Cheema, a Dronacharya awardee, died in a road accident on Wednesday night at Patiala bypass.
Sukhchain Singh Cheema was son of Rustum-e-Hind Olympian Wrestler Kesar Singh Cheema and father of Rustum-e-Hind Olympian Palwinder Singh Cheema, also an Arjuna Awardee.
Sukhchain Singh Cheema won Bronze medal in 1974 Tehran Asian Games.
"The car of Sukhchain (68) collided with another car at around 7 pm on Wednesday at Patiala Sangrur bypass. He was rushed to a hospital but could not be saved," said Palwinder Singh, son of the deceased.
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