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The NFHS report showed that the percentage of Indian households practising open defecation decreased from 39 per cent in 2015-2016 to 19.4 per cent in 2019-2021. (Ravi Kumar/HT)

19.4% of Indian households do not use toilet facilities, most in Bihar: NFHS

Only Lakshadweep reports 100 per cent household access to toilet facilities, with Mizoram close behind at 99.9 per cent, and Kerala a fraction lower at 99.8 per cent.

Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin on Friday assured strict action against those found guilty in the sexual harassment case. (HT Photo)

CM Stalin promises probe as Kalakshetra stir brews

The chief minister of Tamil Nadu has promised legal action against those found guilty of sexual harassment at the Rukmini Devi College of Fine Arts, run by Kalakshetra Foundation. The students had been protesting for two days against alleged harassment by four faculty members, and the Tamil Nadu Women's Commission chairperson said it had received nearly 100 complaints of harassment and mental abuse. Kalakshetra had previously announced the closure of the college until 6 April and directed students to vacate hostels within two days.

The Kerala women and child development department has written to the National Commission for Women, saying that women are eligible to exercise their franchise at 18 so asking them to wait till 21 for wedding is not right. (HT Photo)

Kerala opposes move to raise women marriageable age to 21

The state government of Kerala in India has opposed a proposal to raise the minimum age of marriage for women from 18 to 21 years. The state's women and child development department sent a letter to the National Commission for Women opposing the bill, which had been proposed in parliament in 2021. The Kerala government argued that women are eligible to vote at 18 so they should also be allowed to marry. The proposed bill seeks to bring uniformity in the marriageable age of men and women, with the age for men currently set at 21.

Chief minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy told the assembly that the one-man Commission, which studied the social and economic conditions of the Boyas in four districts, recommended their inclusion in the Scheduled Tribe list. (ANI.)

Andhra tribals protest move to include Boyas and Valmikis in ST list

The Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy government in Andhra Pradesh has caused unrest among the Adivasis in the state by proposing to include Boya, Valmiki, and Bentu Oriya communities in the list of Scheduled Tribes. The tribal groups under the auspices of the Adivasi Joint Action Committee blocked vehicles and ambulances in these areas. They held up traffic for several hours, paralysing the public transport into the interior areas of these districts.

Trials involving special laws with stringent bail provisions must be concluded speedily, the Supreme Court said. (ANI)

Must expedite conclusion of trials under special laws: SC

India's Supreme Court has ruled that trials involving special laws with stringent bail provisions must be concluded speedily, and courts must be sensitive to the deleterious effects of incarceration on undertrials. The court made the ruling in an appeal for bail filed by an accused under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act who was behind bars for the past seven years while the trial proceeded at a slow pace. The accused was granted bail, with the court stating that if trials are not concluded in time, the injustice inflicted on the individual is immeasurable.

Rescuers at the temple in Indore. (ANI)

Death count in Indore temple tragedy hits 36

At least 36 people have died and 18 others injured after a stepwell collapsed at Beleshwar Mahadev Jhulelal temple in Madhya Pradesh, India during Ram Navami celebrations. The dead included 20 women, 12 men and four children. Questions were raised over the efficiency of rescue operations after a video emerged of a woman being pulled out by a man through a makeshift ladder but falling off it. The chairman and secretary of the temple trust have been charged with culpable homicide.

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A ‘corpse’, jailed kin, a false case and a murdered woman’s second coming

Police in Madhya Pradesh, India, have been accused of fabricating evidence to boost numbers in a scheme to reunite missing children with their families. Kanchan Uike, a 14-year-old who went missing in 2014, was one of 2,444 girls "recovered" under Operation Muskaan, launched by the state government and police in January 2021. Kanchan was said to have been murdered by her father and brother, but reappeared this week, unaware of the charges against them. Lawyers said the family was tortured into making a false confession.

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India’s new trade policy aims at $2tn exports by 2030

India has announced a new Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) with a target of $2tn in exports by 2030, equally split between goods and services. The policy will be effective from 1 April and encourages trade settlements in rupees. Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal said the target could be reached if the country explored every possible opportunity, while the new FTP also includes a "massive, focused, concentrated" global outreach effort over the next few months. The policy aims to expand India's share in the global supply chain and exports.

Satyajit Ray received the award in 1992. (Getty Images)

From HT Archives: Ray gets the Oscar for ‘mastery in arts of motion pictures’

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded Satyajit Ray an Oscar for lifetime achievement on March 16, 1992, in his hospital bed in Calcutta. During the Academy Awards ceremony, a video of Ray receiving the award was shown, with Ray expressing his gratitude for the "magnificent award, certainly the best achievement of my movie-making career." Ray also noted that he learned everything about cinema from American films and had tried to capture something unique in Indian experience that was universal. Ray, who had hoped to attend the ceremony, was hospitalised several weeks before it took place.

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What binds Chennai and Rajasthan in the IPL?

The return of home games to the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2023 will give teams the chance to capitalise on a cricketing advantage they have historically built, according to How India Lives. The IPL will return to a city-based league, offering revenue streams from ticket sales and the opportunity to build a greater connection with home fans. Chennai Super Kings have the highest winning percentage at home on an overall basis with 71%, followed by Rajasthan Royals with 68%. Meanwhile, Bengaluru and Delhi have a home record that trails their overall record in the IPL.

CBI had written to the Manipur government in January last year, seeking permission to launch a probe.

CBI launches inquiry into Ponzi scheme against Salai founder Samarjit

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is launching a probe into Salai Group of Companies over allegations of running a ponzi or money circulation scheme and cheating investors by collecting deposits with a promise to pay 3% interest per month. The founder and chairman of the group, Narengbam Samarjit Singh, was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in relation to the formation of a self-styled organisation that declared Manipur an independent nation in London in 2019. The CBI has charged Singh, eight others, and 13 Salai Group companies under the Indian Penal Code and Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Act, 2019.

Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Chouhan.

Ahead of Madhya Pradesh elections, BJP asks cadre to set aside differences

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) high command has instructed leaders in Madhya Pradesh to set aside differences and come together as a cohesive unit to implement the electoral strategy that will be designed for the assembly elections scheduled for later this year. The BJP has been in power in the state since 2005, with Shivraj Singh Chouhan as chief minister, but was ousted for 15 months in 2018, only to make a comeback in 2020.

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Wheat norms eased for Madhya Pradesh, others may get benefits soon

The Indian government has relaxed quality specifications of wheat eligible for procurement from Madhya Pradesh following crop-damaging torrential rains. The move is expected to benefit farmers in the region and reduce the hardship caused by the weather. More states are likely to be granted the same benefit based on assessments in the coming weeks. Bountiful harvests are crucial this year, as the country is running low on cereal stocks after a heatwave, which curtailed wheat production by 2.5% in 2022, stoking shortages. India has officially forecast a record wheat output of 112 million tonnes.

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Lok Ayukta refers funds ‘misuse’ case against Kerala CM to larger bench

The Kerala Lok Ayukta has referred a case against the state's chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, to a larger bench following a difference of opinion between judges. The case involves allegations that Vijayan misused the chief minister's disaster relief fund (CMDRF) to provide financial assistance to the families of a deceased police officer and a Nationalist Congress Party leader, as well as to help pay off the debts of a late Communist Party of India (Marxist) legislator. The petitioner has claimed that the funds were diverted and that the actions were illegal and illegitimate.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (PTI)

PM Modi’s degree order set aside, Kejriwal fined

India's Gujarat high court has overturned a central information commissioner's order that required Gujarat University to provide information about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's degrees to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The court imposed a cost of INR25,000 ($386) on Kejriwal, ruling that the information sought had nothing to do with Modi's role as a public figure.

US NATO Ambassador Julianne Smith.

'Door open… should India be interested', says US NATO ambassador

The US NATO Ambassador, Julianne Smith, has said that the alliance is ready to engage more with India if the country is interested. Smith stressed that there are currently no plans to expand NATO to a broader global military alliance. She also said that India is not yet invited to NATO ministerials until the alliance knows more about India's interest in engaging with NATO more broadly. The envoy also highlighted how NATO has started to mention the Asia-Pacific and the Indo-Pacific in some of its strategic documents.

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