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Delhi gang-rape victim in ‘extremely critical condition’

SINGAPORE: Battling for life for the last 11 days, the 23-year-old Delhi gang-rape victim was flown to Singapore on Thursday in an “extremely critical condition” and was admitted to the Mount Elizabeth Hospital, a multi-organ transplant specialty hospital. 

The victim, who remained on ventilator support during most part of her treatment in Safdarjung hospital in Delhi, was flown in on an air ambulance early on Thursday morning. A team of doctors and her family members accompanied her. 

“The patient arrived at Mount Elizabeth Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit this morning in an extremely critical condition,” a spokesperson of the hospital told PTI. “She is being examined and the hospital is working with the Indian High Commission. We request that the privacy of the patient and family be respected,” the spokesperson said. 

Earlier, the Indian High Commission in Singapore said that the plane carrying the girl landed at the Changi International Airport at 7.30 am (5 am IST). 

The decision to shift the girl was taken at the highest level of the Indian government, which has declared that it will bear all the expenses of her treatment. On December 16, the girl was gang-raped and brutally assaulted in a moving bus and thrown out of it in Delhi. She underwent three surgeries but her condition remained critical. 

In a statement, the Indian High Commission said that the girl was receiving full medical attention at the hospital. “We assure all concerned that the patient is receiving full medical attention and the family is also being provided all possible assistance by the High Commission,” it said. 

The High Commission has also conveyed that the hospital and the family's request for privacy of the patient be respected. 

“We have received numerous queries regarding the condition of the patient and also many offers to help. We are deeply grateful for all of these offers,” the statement said. “At this stage, we would request that the privacy of the patient, family members as also of the medical team in attendance is fully respected so that the treatment may continue smoothly,” the statement added. 

Meanwhile, in New Delhi, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said the government would spare no effort for the treatment of the victim and it would meet all the costs for her treatment. 

In a statement Mr Shinde said when the government was advised by a team of doctors that she may be shifted abroad for treatment, it had ordered India’s High Commissioner in Singapore to make necessary arrangements. 

“Considering the travel time, the doctors have suggested Mt Elizabeth Hospital, Singapore... Indian doctors have spoken to the doctors of the said hospital and shared the details of the patient,” he said.The minister said arrangements have also been made for the family to stay in Singapore with the patient as the treatment may stretch to many weeks. 

Official sources said passport and Singapore visa for the girl and some of her family members who accompanied her were expedited by the External Affairs Ministry. 

Medical Superintendent of the Safdarjung Hospital Dr B D Athani on Wednesday night said that “the treatment might take longer.” Dr Athani said the girl has suffered severe intestinal and abdominal injuries and more than once she would have to undergo treatment in Singapore which could take several weeks.Parts of the girl’s intestine were surgically removed. 

“She was being provided the best available aid by a team of specialized doctors. She had to be operated upon thrice.” 

The victim, whom doctors described as “psychologically composed and optimistic about future”, had shown signs of improvement during treatment but her condition worsened in after her pulse rate plummeted for a brief period on Tuesday.The periodic bouts of infection were also a source of concern for the doctors. — PTI





Pranab's son apologises for remarks on anti-rape protesters

KOKATA: President Pranab Mukherjee's son Abhijit Mukherjee stoked a major controversy by describing women participating in Delhi protests against gang rape of a student as 'highly dented and painted', triggering angry backlash.

Abhijit had said, "Walking in candlelight processions, going to discotheques, we have also led student life, we have been students. I well know what the character of a student should be."

"Those who are coming in the name of students in the rallies, sundori, sundori mahila (beautiful women), are highly dented and painted," Abhijit Mukherjee, an MP from Jangipur seat which the President had vacated before his election, told a vernacular news channel.

"Giving interviews in TV and showing off their children. I wonder whether they are students at all," he said, adding, "what's basically happening in Delhi is something like pink revolution, which has very little connection with ground realities."

As his "insensitive" remarks sparked outrage with even his sister Sharmistha expressing "utter shock and anguish" and apologising on his behalf, Abhijit "withdrew" his comments and said they were not meant to hurt "any particular section or any particular sentiment".

"I express my utter shock and anguish. I really apologise to every women, man and every sensitive person in this country... I am utterly shocked and only thing I can say is that I really apologise on his behalf ... I am quite surprised with what my brother said," Sharmistha said.

Asked whether Abhijit should apologise for his words, she said, "I completely agree. He should immediately apologise.

"Not only as a President's son, but as any sensitive man, he should not have made this kind of statement. Forget about being a political leader, it shows a certain degree of insensitivity... My family is not like that," she said.

On whether her father would be embarrassed with Abhijit's remarks, Sharmistha said, "I am sure he will be. I can say that he also shares my view.... One thing is for sure that he (Pranab) does not agree with his (Abhijit) views. I am sure. He (Pranab) has made a statement and during our personal interactions, he expressed his anguish."

Soon after Abhijit said, "I apologise to all the people whose sentiments who got hurt because of these sentences and these sentences are withdrawn", but the women activists and political leaders were unimpressed.

CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat said political leaders cannot be allowed to get away with a mere apology after making such "outrageous and highly condemnable" remarks "demeaning women" and there should be a code of conduct for elected representatives.

Jaya Jaitley said the women will not be "cowed down" by such comments and it will only add strength to the movement. She said the comments have revealed the true mindset of the people.

"If it is what he has said, it is truly regrettable. I think that is so far away from reality. As a representative of the people, obviously this is an insensitive statement... That is why the suffering is increasing," former IPS officer and social activist Kiran Bedi said.

Terming the remarks as unfortunate, Smriti Irani, chief of BJP' women wing, said it was especially distressing as they had come from the President's son and that too at a "challenging time" when not only women but men have come out on streets demanding justice and safer environment for women.

"I think this is exactly the kind of mindset that the youths are fighting against," she said.

Her party said the comments reflect the Congress mindset of not addressing the problem and instead attacking peaceful protesters. "To criticise the common people who are taking out candle light march peacefully is not fair. Congress leaders should avoid such comments," BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain told . "Mukherjee should not have given such a statement. These comments show the Congress mindset of not addressing the crisis and criticising the protesters," he added.

Meanwhile, the 23-year-old Delhi gang-rape victim was admitted on Thursday morning to the Mount Elizabeth Hospital's intensive care unit in Singapore in an extremely critical condition. The country is witnessing widespread protests over the incident with protesters demanding a more effective legal system and better safety in the capital, known as one of the least safe cities in the world for women.

Over the weekend, protests in Delhi turned into violent clashes with the police; a constable trying to control the crowd died of his injuries. — PTI





Jayalalithaa walks out of NDC meet after 'big humiliation'

NEW DELHI: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa on Thursday walked out of the National Development Council (NDC) meeting in New Delhi accusing the Centre of "stifling" the voice of chief ministers by restricting their speeches to 10 minutes. Coming out of the Vigyan Bhawan, the venue of the meeting presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, she said it was a "big humiliation" for her to be stopped from completing her speech at the NDC meeting.

She said the Centre came out with a "new method" of limiting the speeches of chief ministers to 10 minutes which was not enough to articulate their views.

Sources said each Chief Minister was allotted 10 minutes and was forewarned. Jayalalithaa had come to Page 10 out of her 28-page speech when the bell rang, they said.

Jayalalithaa immediately left for Chennai cutting short her stay.

Jayalalithaa said she had come prepared with several points to "enlighten the interest of Tamil Nadu and the interest of the nation."

"But I was told only 10 minutes will be allowed to each CM. On that, if we speak beyond the alloted 10 minutes then a bell would ring. I began my speech and as the 10 minutes were up, they rang a bell. It was a big humiliation," she said.

The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister said there had been many occasions where the chief ministers were allowed to speak for 25 to 35 minutes.

"To show my protest, I have walked out of the NDC meeting because the plan document itself is so lengthy and encompasses so many subjects... just by allowing 10 minutes and humiliating us in this way, they need not have to call us all the way to Delhi to participate in this meeting," she said.

"It stifled the voice of the chief ministers who are in the opposition," she said. — IANS





Plan panel cautions against policy logjam

NEW DELHI: The Planning Commission on Thursday projected 8 per cent economic growth for the 12th Plan, but cautioned that “policy logjam” could slow the expansion to even as low as 5-5.5 per cent during the five year period.

Moving away from previous practice of presenting single growth projection, the Planning Commission has come out with three different economic scenarios for 12th Five-Year Plan.

“Growth outcomes will depend upon on the extent to which we are able to take the difficult decisions needed to intervene at key leverage points to generate inclusive growth,” Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said at the National Development Council (NDC) meet in New Delhi.

The apex planning body has referred to a third scenario of “policy logjam”.

“This is the scenario where there is very little progress on the different decisions identified. In this case, growth could be stuck between 5 and 5.5 per cent,” Ahulwalia said.

He, however, said that scenario one — of strong inclusive growth — is the only “scenario that will meet the aspirations of the people”.

As per “aspirational” scenario one, the growth was earlier expected to be 8.2 per cent annually till 2016-17.

However, Ahluwalia said there is a need to modify the first scenario in the light of Finance Ministry’s projection on 2012-13 economic growth (5.7-5.9 per cent) and assessment of the United Nations that global economy would be significantly weaker in 2012 and 2013.

“In view of these developments, growth rate associated with scenario one could be scaled down to 8 per cent.

“I would like to emphasis that achieving an average of 8 per cent over five years, following a first year growth of say 5.8 per cent (2012-13) and say something over 7 per cent in the second year, will involve a sharp acceleration in the last three years of the Plan,” he said.

In case of the second scenario — policies move in the right direction but are not fully implemented — which in turn would limit growth in the range of 6 to 6.5 per cent with correspondingly lower progress on inclusiveness.

Ahluwalia said both the Centre and the states need to focus on policies that would promote different components of investment and also increase their efficiency.

The public sector accounts for about 25 per cent of investments in the economy while the rest comes from private investments which covers the household sector and corporates.

In analysing policy options, he said efforts have been made to identify areas of policy intervention that are largely in the hands of the Centre and those that are largely in the hands of states.

“We find that much of what needs to be done has to be done at the state level. We also find that many states are taking innovative steps, which is why, growth over the past ten years has been high and also regionally well dispersed,” Ahluwalia said. — PTI





Flight operations normal at IGI airport

New Delhi: Flight operations remained normal at the Indira Gandhi International Airport here for the second consecutive day today even as the airport witnessed moderate fog.

"Flight operations were normal as there were no disruptions due to moderate fog witnessed in the morning.There were no diversions of flights, though there were some cancellations and delays due to operational reasons," airport sources said.

The visibility at the runway did not dip below 1100 metres on all three runways through the night when airport witnessed moderate fog.

Visibility on the third runway (29/11) dipped to 800 metres but it was above 1,200 metres on main runway (28/10) in the morning, the sources said.

Delhi airport had witnessed dense fog for three consecutive days earlier this week, leading to delays in schedule of over 300 flights. — PTIBack




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