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Lok Sabha election results: 2019 is more like 1977 and 1980 than 2014 elections

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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has firmly established itself as the dominant pole of Indian politics in the 2019 general elections.

If the current trends hold , the 2019 verdict will have a close resemblance to the results of the 1977 and 1980 elections in terms of the dominance of one political party in India. Data scarped from the Election Commission of India (ECI) website shows that at 11:03 am, around 19% of the total votes had been counted in the country. The BJP is leading in 288 parliamentary constituencies (PCs) with a vote share of around 40%, nine percentage points more than what it had in 2014.

No political party in India has had such a high level of vote share after the 1984 elections, which were held in an extremely polarised environment months after the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. The Congress had a vote share of 48.1% and it won 415 PCs in the 1984 elections.

The 2019 results, if the current trends hold, will be closer to what the Janata Party and the Congress achieved in the 1977 and 1980 elections. In 1980, the Congress won 353 PCs with an all-India vote share of 42.7%. In 1977, it was the Janata Party which got 295 PCs with a vote share of 41.3%.

The 2019 verdict, or what it looks like as of now, also has some regional exceptions to the overall trend, like in 1977 and 1980. Even though the Janata Party swept the northern region of the country in 1977, the Congress performed really well in Andhra Pradesh (41 out of 42 PCs) and Karnataka (26 out of 28 PCs). Similarly in 1980, the Congress could win only 4 PCs in West Bengal despite winning the majority of seats in almost all major states.

As of now, the BJP and its partners in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) are either leading or making major advances in all major states except Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, which are voting clearly for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhgam (DMK) led alliance and YSR Congress Party respectively.

The Congress, despite adding around four percentage points to its 2019 vote share has not been able to make any significant gains in terms of seats. Also, the party has suffered major reverses in the Hindi heartland states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh where it defeated the BJP in the 2018 assembly elections.

After the 2014 elections, when the BJP crossed the half way mark in the Lok Sabha with just 31% vote share, lack of opposition unity was seen as a key factor behind the party’s victory. With the BJP all set to cross the 40% vote share mark, the opposition will have to reinvent its chemistry with the electorate rather than just arithmetic.

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Google, Facebook, Microsoft, other US tech giants join lawsuit against Trump’s new student visa rule

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Google, Facebook, Microsoft and more than a dozen top technology companies of United States (US), on Monday joined a lawsuit filed by the Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology against the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) latest rule that bars international students from staying in America unless they attend at least one in-person course.

Seeking a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction, these companies, along with the US Chamber of Commerce and other IT advocacy groups asserted that the July 6 ICE directive will disrupt their recruiting plans, making it impossible to bring on board international students that businesses, including amici, had planned to hire, and disturb the recruiting process on which the firms have relied on to identify and train their future employees.

The US will “nonsensically be sending…these graduates away to work for our global competitors and compete against us…instead of capitalising on the investment in their education here in the US”, they said adding that the July 6 directive will make it impossible for a large number of international students to participate in the CPT and OPT programmes.

The Curricular Practical Training (CPT) programme permits “alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education or other type of required internship or practicum offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with a student’s school”.

On the other hand, the Optional Practical Training (OPT) programme allows up to one year of temporary employment that is directly related to an international student”s major area of study, which can occur either before the student graduates and/or after his studies are complete. Students in STEM fields may obtain a two-year extension of their post-graduate OPT, they said.

“Closing off more than half of all international students from participating in the recruiting pipeline for American businesses will thus harm companies and the entire economy, and disrupt reliance expectations based on prior policies permitting international students to remain in the US,” the firms said.

Asserting that international students contribute substantially to the US economy when they reside in the United States, the legal brief said the departure of these students threatens the ability of US educational institutions to sustain critical mass — which they need in order to maintain their standards of excellence, to train the American students who will make up the talent pool available to amici and other US companies in the future, and to perform the research that keeps US businesses on the cutting edge of innovation.

“International students are an important source of employees for US businesses while they are students and after they graduate. Finally, they become valuable employees and customers of US businesses whether they remain in the United States or return to their home countries,” the companies said.

According to the IT companies, international students residing in the US make a substantial contribution to the country’s GDP and have a particularly significant impact in towns and cities where colleges and universities are located. During the 2018-2019 academic year, there were more than 10 lakh such students attending institutions of higher education in the US.

Reducing by half or more the number of international students residing in the United States — even for a single school year — will hurt the economy, amplifying the adverse economic effects of the ongoing pandemic. International students contribute billions of dollars to the US economy each year. In the 2018-2019 academic year alone, “international students at US colleges and universities contributed nearly USD 41 billion to the US economy and supported 458,290 jobs”, the companies said.

Observing that for every seven international students living in the US, three jobs are supported due to their presence, the companies said international education “ranked as the country”s fifth-largest service export” in 2019. Small businesses — from coffee shops to bookstores — in communities around the country benefit significantly from the presence of international students, they said.

The companies told the court that if these students are barred from studying in the US until the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic ends, many of them will not return: they will switch to programmes of study elsewhere in the world. And without international students, many the US STEM programmes will contract sharply and ultimately cease to exist.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement notified colleges in its July 6 order that non-immigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online or taking only online courses will not be permitted to take a full course load and remain in America.

The modifications also limited many students at normally operating schools from taking more than one class or three credit hours online in order to remain in the country.

Meanwhile, on July 10,  a group of 30 US Senators and 136 Congressmen, all from the opposition Democratic Party, had urged the President Donald Trump-led administration to reverse its order that bars international students from staying in the country if they do not have in-person classes to attend next semester.

In separate letters to Acting Secretary, Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf and Acting Secretary, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Matthew Albence on Thursday, the lawmakers expressed concern over the ICE’s recently announced modifications to the Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP).

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High Court grants more time to Delhi University to draw plan for conducting final year examinations

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The Delhi High Court on Thursday has granted more time to the Delhi University to draw a plan for conducting examinations for the final year students.

The decision by a division bench of the High Court presided by Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad came after senior advocate Sachin Dutta appearing for the varsity informed the court that a new plan has to be formulated in accordance with the latest UGC guidelines.

“Chart out a course and be clear on where you want to go,” said the court.

Court asked the varsity to file an affidavit regarding the same by July 13 i.e. Monday and the matter has been posted for further hearing on July 14.

Yesterday, a single-judge bench of the High Court was informed by the Delhi University that it has postponed the online Open Book Examination (OBE) till August 15.

The exams were slated to commence from July 10.

Following which a single-judge bench of the High Court presided by Justice Pratibha M. Singh transferred the said batch of petitions after observing that the issue concerning the postponement of exams is already pending before a division bench of the court.

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‘Around 300 terrorists waiting in launch pads across LoC in PoK to infiltrate into India’: Army

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The Indian Army on Saturday said that the launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC) in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir are fully occupied and an estimated 250 to 300 terrorists are presently active there waiting to infiltrate into India.

This has been a reiteration of top Indian Army officials who had cautioned in the last three months about at least 300 terrorists waiting across the LoC to sneak into Kashmir valley.

GoC 19 Infantry Division Kashmir Major General Virendra Vats, addressing a press conference in Baramulla, North Kashmir, said that Pakistan is trying to step up infiltration and push in more terrorists into J&K after failing to instigate the people of Kashmir following last year’s August 5 decision of revoking Article 370.

“Pakistan has been failing in its attempt to instigate the people of Kashmir ever since we had the momentous decision of August last year, they have been trying very hard, they also know the season is coming to an end very soon, three or four months is what they have, so they shall try their best to push in the terrorists,” he said.

His remarks came after two terrorists were killed after a major infiltration bid was foiled by the Army in North Kashmir’s Naugam sector today morning.

The Army said that troops laid an ambush after suspicious movement was detected along the Line of Control (LoC).

In the encounter that followed, two infiltrators were gunned down.

Speaking on the encounter, General Vats said troops along LoC in Nougam sector detected suspicious movement originating from Pakistani post in the area following which, an apt response was taken to eliminate two terrorists who were trying to infiltrate by cutting anti-infiltration fence.

Arms and ammunition including two AK-47 rifles with 12 filled magazines, a pistol, magazines and some grenades were recovered. The security personnel also recovered about 1.5 lakhs in Indian and Pakistani currency.

This year, so far, there have been several successful anti-terror operations by the security forces that has led to the killing of many terrorists and their commanders.

On July 1, a CRPF Head Constable and a civilian were killed after terrorists attacked a patrol party in North Kashmir’s Sopore. However, a three-year-old child, who was with the civilian, was rescued by the police.

Late June, three terrorists including one Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Masood Ahmed Bhat, were killed in an encounter at Khulchohar in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district.

With Masood’s death, J-K police chief Dilbagh Singh said that the entire Doda district in Jammu region has become totally free of militancy once again.

According to the police, Masood, who was the last surviving terrorist of Doda, was involved in a rape case filed by Doda police and was on the run ever since. He later joined Hizbul Mujahideen and shifted his area of operation to Kashmir.

In June, Jammu and Kashmir police had said that 29 foreign terrorists are active in South Kashmir but assured that the security forces are experienced enough to deal with them and wipe out militancy from whole of South Kashmir.

Earlier in May, Jammu and Kashmir’s director general of police (DGP) Dilbag Singh had said that over 300 terrorists are present in launch pads across the LoC in PoK.

He said that there was a high degree of vigilance by the security grid to foil Pakistan’s design of pushing terrorists into Jammu and Kashmir.

“We have a fairly big number of terrorists who are waiting across that side to be pushed into Jammu and Kashmir. There are already around four incidents of infiltration in Kashmir valley and two to three such attempts have been made in Rajouri-Poonch area,” he told PTI in an interview at the police headquarters.

Expressing concern over it, DGP said that Pakistan’s ISI, Army and other agencies are very active and trained terrorists are ready in launch pads.

The police chief further said that four groups of terrorists have been able to infiltrate into Jammu and Kashmir.

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