The Hindu Morning Digest: December 31, 2023

With announcement of new notification, Census to be delayed till at least October 2024

The deadline to freeze the administrative boundaries of districts, tehsils, towns, and municipal bodies, among others, has been extended till June 30, 2024, a senior government official told The Hindu. This means that the decennial Census exercise, initially scheduled to be begin in 2020, will now be postponed till at least October 2024 as it usually takes about three months after the boundaries are set to identify and train the enumerators.

Ayodhya airport takes off ahead of January 22 Ram Temple consecration ceremony

The world awaits the Ram Temple consecration ceremony on January 22, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared on Saturday in Ayodhya, adding that no stone will be left unturned to develop the holy place. Given the security arrangements that would be in place, the Prime Minister requested people to visit the temple city only after the consecration ceremony. 

Punjab Police form SIT to investigate Nicaragua ‘human trafficking’ case

The Punjab Police set up a Special Investigation Team on Saturday to probe a suspected human trafficking case related to Indian passengers on an aircraft run by Romania’s Legend Airlines, originally destined for Nicaragua, but detained in France. Though the passengers have now returned to India, no victim has yet come forward to register any case.

PM Modi visits 10th crore beneficiary of Ujjwala scheme in Ayodhya

Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise visit on Saturday to the Ayodhya home of Meera Manjhi, the tenth-crore beneficiary of the PM Ujjwala Yojana, and had tea at her residence during his one-day tour of the temple city.

Launched in May 2016 to provide subsidised LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) connections to poor households, the Ujjwala scheme aims to empower women, protecting their health and reducing the number of deaths in India due to unclean cooking fuel.

BJP president releases commemorative stamp on 200 years of Indian origin Tamils in Sri Lanka

BJP President J.P. Nadda on Saturday released a commemorative stamp on 200 years of arrival of Indian-origin Tamils in Sri Lanka. BJP’s Tamil Nadu unit chief K. Annamalai said that PM Narendra Modi has always considered Sri Lanka, “our civilisational twin” and has been instrumental in supporting the country with humanitarian and financial aid during its times of distress.

The release of the commemorative stamp has strengthened this commitment of unwavering support to the Indian-origin Tamils living in Sri Lanka, a statement released by the Sri Lankan govt. said.

In biggest election year ever, politics may have impact on India’s foreign policy the most

Domestic policy, rather than geopolitical events, could be a major factor in foreign policy in 2024, given that more than a fourth of the world, in terms of population and number of countries, will go to vote during the year. For India, which will hold the world’s largest election, the diplomatic calendar and focus will be decided by countries in the neighbourhood, global powers and major countries in the Global South, all of which will hold parliamentary or presidential elections next year.

Centre releases draft guidelines to make Railways more user-friendly for persons with disabilities

The government has released draft guidelines on accessibility of railway stations, facilities in trains for persons with disabilities, highlighting the need for integrating technology-enabled features such as text-to-speech and user-friendly pictograms. The Department of the Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) has asked stakeholders and the public to give their comments, objections and suggestions by January 29 on the proposed guidelines to create a more user-friendly environment.

India seeks extradition of Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed from Pakistan

India has asked Pakistan to extradite Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed, the 2008 Mumbai terror attack mastermind and a United Nations-proscribed terrorist, who is wanted by Indian probe agencies in a number of terror cases. India also took note of reports of Saeed’s son Talha Saeed standing for elections in Pakistan and said the “mainstreaming” of radical terrorist outfits in that country is nothing new and that it has been part of its state policy for a long time.

Singapore envoy praises tripartite pact with ULFA faction

The peace pact signed with the pro-talks faction of United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) will pave the way for investment into the northeastern region, the High Commissioner of Singapore Simon Wong has said. The envoy had earlier in November observed that products of Assam have a ready market in Singapore.

This is the first response from a foreign representative on the pact that was signed on Friday under which a time-bound programme would be made by the Home Ministry to fulfil the demands of the ULFA and a committee would be constituted to monitor its progress.

6.5 magnitude earthquake shakes part of Indonesia’s Papua region, no immediate reports of casualties

A powerful earthquake shook Indonesia’s easternmost region of Papua early Sunday, but there were no immediate reports of serious damage or casualties. The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 6.5 quake was centered 162 kilometers (101 miles) northeast of Abepura, a subdistrict in Jayapura, the capital of Papua province. It happened at a depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles).

Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysical Agency said there was no danger of a tsunami but warned of possible aftershocks as the earthquake was centered in land.

British actor Tom Wilkinson, known for ‘The Full Monty’ and ‘Michael Clayton’, dies at 75

Tom Wilkinson, the Oscar-nominated British actor known for his roles in “The Full Monty,” “Michael Clayton” and “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” has died, his family said. He was 75. A statement shared by his agent on behalf of the family said Wilkinson died suddenly at home on Saturday. It didn’t provide further details.

China eases visa application for U.S. tourists

China will simplify visa applications for tourists from the United States from Jan. 1, cutting the documents required, according to a notice on Friday on the website of the Chinese embassy in Washington. The move is the latest by China to revive tourism and boost the world’s second-largest economy following a slump during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Major blow to Imran Khan as Pakistan’s top poll body rejects his nomination papers from two seats

In a major blow to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) ahead of the February 8 general elections, Pakistan’s top poll body on December 30 rejected nomination papers of party founder and former Prime Minister Imran Khan and several of his stalwart colleagues on what they described as “flimsy grounds”.

Finance Minister meets heads of PSBs, reviews financial performance

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharman on Saturday held a meeting with heads of public sector banks and reviewed their financial performance. During the meeting, concerns related to cyber security and the risks on the financial sector were discussed, sources said. Issues related to fraud and wilful defaulters and progress on the National Asset Reconstruction Company Ltd (NARCL) also came up for discussion.

India in South Africa | Rohit Sharma focuses on Mukesh during net session, Jadeja goes full tilt

It was an optional session at the Supersport Park but for India skipper Rohit Sharma, skipping the nets wasn’t an option. Outfoxed by South African pace spearhead Kagiso Rabada in both innings of the opening Test, Rohit was present as skipper and batter in equal measure during a two-hour session.

The Indian captain was focussed on facing Mukesh Kumar, who bowled only to Rohit for at least 45 minutes.

Dominic Thiem survives qualifying and a brush with venomous snake at Brisbane International

Former U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem had a brush with one of Australia’s most venomous snakes during a qualifying match at the Brisbane International on Saturday The former world No.3 was a set down to 20-year-old Australian James McCabe in a first round qualifying match when fans courtside spotted the snake.

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