Morning Digest | France grounded aircraft with 303 Indians: Indian Embassy; Ex-Finance Minister P Chidambaram to head Congress Manifesto Committee for 2024 Lok Sabha election, and more

Here is a select list of stories to start the day

Published - December 23, 2023 06:50 am IST

Vatry airport, north-eastern France where an Airbus A340 plane carrying 303 Indian passengers is grounded on the tarmac since December 21, due to “suspicions of human trafficking”.

Vatry airport, north-eastern France where an Airbus A340 plane carrying 303 Indian passengers is grounded on the tarmac since December 21, due to “suspicions of human trafficking”. | Photo Credit: AFP

France grounded aircraft with 303 Indians: Indian Embassy

France has grounded an aircraft with 300 Indian-origin persons, the Indian Embassy in Paris has confirmed. The aircraft was flying from Dubai to Nicaragua in South America. “French authorities informed us of a plane w/ 303 people, mostly Indian origin, from Dubai to Nicaragua detained on a technical halt at a French airport. Embassy team has reached & obtained consular access. We are investigating the situation, also ensuring wellbeing of passengers,” the Indian Embassy in Paris announced on social media.

Ex-Finance Minister P Chidambaram to head Congress Manifesto Committee for 2024 Lok Sabha election

The Congress on Friday announced a 16-member Manifesto Committee for the 2024 Lok Sabha election under the chairmanship of former Finance Minister P Chidambaram. Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, senior leaders Anand Sharma, Jairam Ramesh and Shashi Tharoor are among the other prominent members in the panel. While Priyanka Gandhi Vadra too has been made a member, senior leader from Chhattisgarh T S Singh Deo has been appointed as the convenor of the Manifesto Committee.

Don’t misconstrue IMF’s debt outlook, says Centre

The Union Finance Ministry on Friday sought to dispel “certain” factually incorrect “presumptions” being made about India’s indebtedness levels from a scenario-based assessment by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that warned government debt could hit 100% of GDP by 2027-28 under adverse circumstances.

ED issues third summons to Kejriwal in Delhi excise policy case

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has issued third summons to Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal to appear before it for questioning on January 3 in the Delhi excise policy case, sources said on Friday. Mr. Kejriwal did not appear before the agency on two earlier summons sent for questioning on November 2 and December 21. Responding to the development, the AAP said that since Mr. Kejriwal had left for a Vipassana course, the party could not confirm if the third summons had been received or not. 

Centre calls North Eastern States meet after projects under Development Initiative for North East Region are stuck

With a little over 10% of funds under the Prime Minister’s Development Initiative for North East Region (PM-DevINE) sanctioned so far, the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) convened a meeting with Chief Ministers of States in the region on Friday, asking for “feasible concept notes”. The meeting comes in the wake of a review by the Prime Ministers Office (PMO) where it was found that the scheme was yet to take off despite adequate funds.

Government aims to set up 17,000 creches across the country

The Union Women and Child Development Ministry aims to establish 17,000 creches in Anganwadi centres across the country out of which 5,222 have been approved to date. The Ministry also plans to depute two additional creche workers in Anganwadis along with the existing staff. These initiatives are being taken under the ‘Palna’ scheme. The objective of the scheme is to address the urgent need for quality day-care facilities/creches for the children of working women by providing a safe and secure environment for the nutritional, health and cognitive development of the children, thereby enabling more women to take up gainful employment amongst all socio-economic groups both in the organized and unorganized sector, irrespective of their employment status.

2024 will have more seven-judge Benches hearing crucial matters in Supreme Court

The new year will have a slew of seven-judge Constitution Benches of the Supreme Court hearing a series of crucial issues. These include the passage of laws as Money Bills; sub-classification of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes; the interplay between breach of privilege of legislatures and citizens’ fundamental rights; whether Speakers can hear disqualification petitions under the Tenth Schedule when notices for their removal were pending; the criteria for an educational institution to be tagged as minority-run; and the validity of State laws to impose surcharge on sales tax.

Time to throw dictatorial govt. out of Centre: AAP

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national secretary (organisation), Sandeep Pathak, on Friday said the Opposition parties and the public must come together “to overthrow the dictatorial Narendra Modi government”. Mr. Pathak, among the participants in Friday’s protest at Jantar Mantar against the suspension of 147 Opposition MPs during Parliament’s recently concluded Winter Session, said those asking questions were either being suspended or jailed under the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre.

U.S. to target banks that help Russia war in Ukraine

The United States said Friday it will sanction foreign banks that support Russia’s war in Ukraine, in a new bid to exert economic pressure on Moscow as it diversifies from the West to China. Under an executive order to be signed Friday by President Joe Biden, the United States would be authorized to issue so-called secondary sanctions against financial institutions that support Russia’s defense industry, officials said.

China bans export of rare earth processing technologies

China, the world’s top processor of rare earths, on December 21 banned the export of technology to extract and separate the strategic metals, as it overhauled a list of technologies deemed key to national security. The commerce ministry sought public opinion last December on the potential move to add the technology to its “Catalogue of Technologies Prohibited and Restricted from Export”.

Gymnastics star Simone Biles named ‘AP Female Athlete of the Year’ a third time after dazzling return

There were jitters, of course. Considering all that happened, how could there not be? When Simone Biles walked onto the floor at a suburban Chicago arena in late July for her first gymnastics competition in two years, she knew plenty of people were wondering how it was going to go. “I thought that too, don’t worry,” Biles said with a laugh.

Bajrang Punia writes to PM Modi, says he is returning Padma Shri in protest

Olympic medallist grappler Bajrang Punia on Friday decided to return the Padma Shri award in protest over the election of Sanjay Singh, a Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh loyalist, as the president of Wrestling Federation of India (WFI). “I am returning my Padmashree award to the Prime Minister. This is just my letter to say. This is my statement,” read a post shared by the Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist wrestler on X, formerly Twitter.

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