Sunak fires Braverman as Home Secretary, appoints former PM Cameron as Foreign Secretary

November 13, 2023 09:08 pm | Updated 09:08 pm IST

Kicking off the week with a head-spinning array of changes, U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reshuffled his Cabinet, sacking controversial Home Secretary Suella Braverman and resurrecting the political career of former U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, who was appointed Foreign Secretary. The (now) former Foreign Secretary James Cleverly was appointed Home Secretary. Braverman’s history of provocative statements including her latest allegations of bias in the Metropolitan Police, over their handling of pro-Palestinian protests, had increased pressure on Sunak to fire Braverman.

The moves come just as External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar began an official visit to London on Sunday, resulting in some changes in his meetings. Jaishankar was scheduled to meet Cleverly as Foreign Secretary. He was also scheduled to meet the (former) Home Secretary. Presumably Jaishankar will meet with Mr. Cleverly — but now in his new avatar as Home Secretary.

“The goal is clear. My job is to keep people in this country safe,” Cleverly said.

Cameron was also made ‘Lord Cameron’, a peer (member of the House of Lords) on Monday. He said while he has been out of politics for seven years, his experience as Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader would help Sunak meet “vital” global challenges.

“Though I may have disagreed with some individual decisions, it is clear to me that Rishi Sunak is a strong and capable Prime Minister, who is showing exemplary leadership at a difficult time. I want to help him to deliver the security and prosperity,” Cameron wrote in a lengthy statement posted on X. He had recently criticised Sunak’s decision to cancel the remainder of the High Speed Rail 2 project in the North of England.

Home Ministry asks States to use tracking devices on prison inmates released on parole or leave

The Union Home Ministry has said States may use tracking devices on prison inmates when they are released on parole. It also called for segregation of hardened criminals from other category of criminals.

“The State may use electronic monitoring technology on prisoners under temporary release / leave from prison, by making use of inmate tracking devices,” the suggestion which is part of the Model Prisons and Correctional Services Act, 2023 that was circulated to all States in May said. On Monday, a copy of the Act was for the first time published on the Ministry’s website.

“The State may use electronic monitoring technology on prisoners under temporary release / leave from prison, by making use of inmate tracking devices,” the suggestion which is part of the Model Prisons and Correctional Services Act, 2023 that was circulated to all States in May said. On Monday, a copy of the Act was for the first time published on the Ministry’s website.

The Act said that appropriate and advanced security infrastructure and procedures shall be in place for the high-risk prisoner ward in all central and district prisons. “Such prisons shall also have appropriate provisions for an independent court complex for holding court hearings/trials,” the model Act says.

The Act said the States shall ensure integration and embedding of appropriate technology for the effective management and superintendence of prisons and for the safety and security of prisons and the inmates, which may include biometrics, CCTV system, scanning and detection devices, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), video conference facilities, etc. in every prison for prisoners to attend court hearings/trials and to provide for seamless biometric access control system for movement of inmates.

It also asks the States to digitise the entire prison administration and integrate the database with the Interoperable Criminal Justice System.

The Act said the States should use advanced cellular jamming and cellular detection solutions in the jails to prohibit unauthorised use of cellphones by the inmates and prescribes three year-imprisonment for usage of phones inside jails.

It calls for a classification and security assessment committee that may segregate the prisoners according to age, gender, length of sentence, safety and security requirements, physical and mental health needs, correctional needs, repeat offenders etc, as may be prescribed under the rules.

“The prisoners classified into different categories may be lodged in separate barracks/enclosures/cells with a view to protect other prisoners from negative influence and radicalised thought process of the hardened/habitual/high risk prisoners,” the Act said. It also asked for segregation of male, female and transgender people.

It said the prisoners may be further segregated and lodged separately under other sub-categories such as drug addicts and alcoholic offenders, first time offenders, foreign prisoners, old and infirm prisoners (65+ years); those suffering from infectious or chronic diseases; mental illness; prisoners sentenced to death; high risk prisoners; women inmates with children and young offenders.

It said dangerous and high-risk prisoners should be accommodated in special cells or high security prisons. High-risk prisoners, hardened criminals and habitual offenders should not be entitled for parole, furlough, or any kind of prison leave in the normal course.

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Can air pollution increase your risk of type 2 diabetes?

Can breathing in polluted air, day after day, increase your risk of diabetes? A study conducted in India and published in the BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care journal last month, says, yes. Researchers studied over 12,000 adults in Chennai and in Delhi over a period of seven years from 2010 to 2017. Their blood sugar levels were measured periodically. A satellite-based hybrid exposure model was used to check for pollution levels – this assessed the daily average ambient PM 2.5 concentrations in Delhi and Chennai for each day of the study period. PM 2.5 refers to particles that are really tiny – 2.5 microns or less in diameter. These can enter the bloodstream and cause a number of respiratory and heart diseases.

Considering that India was ranked the 8th most polluted country in the world as per the 2022 World Air Quality Report, and with Delhi currently choking on a toxic smog and the air quality remaining poor, this is of special concern in our country. Added to this, latest estimates indicate that 10.13 crore people in our country of 140 crore could potentially be diabetic.

So how does pollution increase your risk of type 2 diabetes? Are those growing up in India now at a significantly higher risk of getting diabetes younger? Do we need to add polluted air to the list of risk factors such as unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyles? And what steps can the government and the public take to help decrease this risk and work towards clean air for all?

Trinamool assigns key organisational post to Mohua Moitra 

Trinamool Congress on Monday appointed Mahua Moitra as the party’s president of Krishnnagar organisation district. Moitra has been given the task of strengthening the party at a time when she was facing recommendations from the Ethics Committee for expulsion from Lok Sabha in a cash-for-query row.

She has replaced Kallol Khan as the district president of Krishnanagar in the State’s Nadia district. The MP took to social media and thanked party chairperson Mamata Banerjee. “Thank you @MamataOfficial and @AITCofficial for appointing me District President of Krishnanagar (Nadia North). Will always work with the party for the people of Krishnanagar,” she said on X.

Moitra won the Krishnanagar Lok Sabha seat in 2019 with a margin of over 60,000 votes and the development was an indication that the party may field her again from the same seat in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

The Trinamool Congress leadership on November 9 put its weight behind Moitra by raising questions on the decision of the Parliament Ethics Committee, claiming that it was a move to stifle the MP’s voice in the House.

The party’s general secretary Abhishek Banerjee commented that Moitra was “competent enough to fight her own battle”. The party leadership has said that the decision of the Ethics Committee against the Krishnanagar MP was to stifle her voice in the Parliament.

After the Ethics Committee submitted its report, Moitra wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to question how the Adani Group-owned NDTV had acquired access to the draft report of the Committee.

Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress leadership made changes in certain other districts as well. In Birbhum, party strongman Anubrata Mondal, currently in CBI custody, has been replaced as the party’s district president. A core committee has been assigned charge of the district.

Delhi Environment Minister accuses ‘BJP people of instigating’ to burn firecrackers, raising pollution levels

People associated with the BJP instigated others to burn firecrackers on Deepavali, leading to an overnight increase of over 100 points in the national capital’s air quality index, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai alleged on Monday.

At a press conference in Delhi, he said the firecrackers burnt in Delhi were sourced from Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, and that certain individuals, including the police of these states, permitted the transportation of those firecrackers to the city.

“In Delhi, U.P., and Haryana firecrackers were burst at night in a targeted way and because of it pollution (AQI) has increased to 315 (‘very poor’ category). The way BJP leaders were instigating people to burst firecrackers, as a result of it, the air pollution has increased from 215 to 315 in one night,” Rai said.

“Delhi would not have been suffering had these states implemented the ban on firecrackers and their police did their duty properly,” he added. He also said that stringent measures, including a ban on construction work and the entry of polluting trucks into Delhi, under Stage IV of the Centre’s air pollution control plan will continue in Delhi till further orders.

Rai added that the Delhi government has decided to extend its campaign to control dust pollution till November 30 and launch a month-long drive against open burning of waste from November 14.

Delhi recorded a jump in pollution levels and a smoky haze returned on Monday morning after residents flouted the ban on firecrackers on Deepavali night.

The city recorded its best air quality on Diwali day in eight years on Sunday, with its 24-hour average Air Quality Index (AQI) settling at 218 at 4 p.m. However, firecrackers bursting till late Sunday night led to a spike in pollution levels amid low temperatures.

The AQI stood at 275 (poor category) at 7 a.m. and gradually rose to 322 by 12 noon. Pollution levels neared the ‘severe’ category (AQI between 400 and 450) in some areas, including Ayanagar (382), Central Road Research Institute (393) and Pusa (391).

The concentration of PM2.5, fine particulate matter that can penetrate deep into the respiratory system and trigger respiratory problems, exceeded the safe limit of 60 microgrammes per cubic metre by six to seven times in these areas.

Firecracker bursting pushed the PM2.5 concentration at many places, including Okhla and Jahangirpuri, in the capital over 1,000 micrograms per cubic metre in the early morning hours.

Nine dead in a fire accident in Hyderabad

A massive fire at Nampally’s Bazaar Guard area killed nine individuals in a four-storeyed residential building on Monday morning in Hyderabad. Officials from the Fire department suspect the mishap to be caused by firecrackers. The incident was reported in Balaji Residence, a four-storey building which has 16 flats with families residing in all of them.

The Bazaar Guard area, more commonly known as Bazarghat, is a densely populated residential area with workshops and small scale industries located in the central part of Hyderabad close to the Hyderabad Railway Station.

The firefighters rescued 21 persons in the building. Three individuals were found unconscious on the stairs and one had burn injuries. Preliminary enquiry revealed that the locals were bursting crackers till 2 a.m. on Monday ,” informed Y. Nagi Reddy Director-General of Telangana State Fire department.

“The locals noticed the fire and alerted the first floor residents who vacated it. We suspect that the watchman might have set fire to the garbage swept up in the morning, which might have had crackers. However, this is still being investigated,” said the official.

Officials said that seven firefighting vehicles, including bronto skylift, simon snorkel, three multi-purpose trucks (MPT), and two water bowsers, were pressed into service. A distress call was received at the fire control room at 9.34 a.m., stating that sparks were coming from the stilt level of the building.

Around 12 barrels and 38 jerry cans filled with chemicals (superplastering admixture) were removed and placed outside the building to prevent the blaze from spreading further. Ramesh Jaiswal, who has been identified as the owner of the stored chemicals has been booked under Section 304 (II) (culpable homicide not amounting to murder). “He is absconding,” said the police.

In Brief:

India’s retail inflation pace eased to a four-month low of 4.87% in October from a tad over 5% in September, with the rise in vegetables prices easing to 2.7% from 3.4% even though overall consumer food price inflation remained virtually unchanged at 6.6%. Inflation faced by rural consumers eased from 5.33% in September to 5.1%, but urban households saw a fractional increase in inflation at 4.65%. On a month-on-month basis, consumer prices were up 0.65%, while food prices were up 1.06%, with urban food prices rising 1.14%.

Evening Wrap will return tomorrow.

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