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In one of the most shocking train accidents India has seen in a long time, over 120 people were feared dead and more than 150 injured, when 14 bogeys of the Patna Indore Express were derailed near Kanpur in the early hours of Sunday. With more modern equipment and safety measures, a tragedy of this scale has been averted for long while, but clearly the railway authorities have no reason to become smug, especially over the maintenance of the existing facilities. It is believed the mishap was caused by fractures on the tracks. Compensation has been announced by the Centre and state governments to the victims and their families.
India's badminton star PV Sindhu brought a smile to millions during a bleak phase in the nation's life. The Olympic silver medallist won her maiden Super Series Premier title after edging out Sun Yu of China in the finals of the $700,000 China Open badminton tournament yesterday. Chronicling her remarkable journey, TS Sudhir had anticipated a promising performance from her in China — which she delivered, and like what!
If the apathy of India's privileged classes towards the poor and ordinary citizens has been on display since the demonetisation of old ₹500 and ₹1,000 bank notes, the attitude has only been legitimised by the ruling dispensation with its thoughtless remarks and sniggering. Prime Minister Narendra Modi continued with the tradition of making insensitive remarks about the plight of the common people when he appeared on video to deliver a brief address at the performance of British rock band Coldplay in Mumbai on Saturday. Not that we needed more irony, but Modi quoted Bob Dylan's revolutionary song, "The times they are a-changin", to make his point.
Dwindling infrastructure and severe overcrowding of passengers added to the death toll in the derailment of Patna Indore Express. Apart from fractures in the track that caused the train to topple over, the bogeys were from the 1950s and supposed to have been phased out a while ago. These old compartments have a tendency to pile up in case of a mishap and cause more deaths and injury than the modern ones. Although railway authorities claim about 1,200 passengers were packed into the train, the actual number is much higher, which may have worsened the fate of those in it.
A burst of cross-border firing by Pakistan army led to the death of a Border Security Force solider(BSF) last night in Kashmir's Rajouri sector. The situation along the Line of Control (LoC) remains tense, with violation of ceasefire for the third time since Saturday. The Indian army claimed to have given a "fitting reply" to the attack.
Around 15 lakh bank accounts in West Bengal which were lying dormant have been suddenly revived in the wake of the government's move of demonetisation. There has also been a flurry of transactions in the Jan Dhan bank accounts, the scheme introduced by the government aiming at financial inclusion. Of the 2.43 crore Jan Dhan accounts, 7% has been activities on a daily basis.
Off The Front Page
With demonetisation targeting black money in the coffers of the wealthy, the gods have come to the rescue. According to The Hindu, the hundis of the temples managed by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) are receiving an all-time high collection of cash offerings from devotees. In less than three weeks since the government's announcement, the TTD temple in Chennai has received ₹2.13 crore, compared to its usual collection of ₹80 lakhs to one crore rupees a month.
The students of Jawaharlal Nehru University are planning to stage a protest agains the assault on Najeeb Ahmed, who has been missing for over a month since a scuffle with students of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), backed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), on campus. The decision was taken after the university found the latter guilty of assaulting Ahmed.
Prashant Kishor, the beacon of hope for the Congress in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh elections, has had a falling out with local leaders, Mint reports. A series of events have led up to this development, beginning with a mismatch between Kishor's vision for the party's strategies of success in the state to the party chief Sonia Gandhi falling ill during a roadshow to regional leaders feeling left out of his campaign plans.
In The Telegraph, Mukul Kesavan analyses the effect of demonetisation on the poor. Instead of taking on arguments put forth by Indian economists, who tend to have a polarising view depending on their political affiliations, he surveys the thesis of economist and public policy expert Kenneth Rogoff. Rogoff's theories, which seem to support PM Modi's move to clean up the economy, are really intended for advanced societies, Kesavan explains, not for weak systems like India's, where levels of poverty are staggering.
An editorial in Mint discusses India's preparedness to face an impending barrage of global health crises. As old and new pathogens keep afflicting populations, from Japanese encephalitis to chikungunya to the Zika virus, India must step up its preparations to be able to deal with the onslaught of these diseases. India has already shown remarkable achievement in dealing with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and polio, proving that planning and enterprise can go a long way to ensuring better management of healthcare even for huge populations.
In The Indian Express, Manish Sabharwal argues that contrary to popular belief, India faces acute problems with wages, not job creation. He explains how demonetisation can help address this glitch to undo some of the damages to the job market in the country.
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