Himachal Congress chief Pratibha Singh with son Vikramaditya. (File)
After the Congress looked set for a win in Himachal Pradesh — on a day of historic loss in Gujarat — the first shot at the chief minister’s chair in the hill state came from the camp of state party chief Pratibha Singh, wife of the late Virbhadra Singh who was the Congress’s tallest leader here until his death last year.
Her son and MLA Vikramditya Singh said, “As a son, I want Pratibha ji to get a big responsibility.” He added, however, on who’ll lead the government:
“Besides being a son, I am also a responsible leader of the party. We will respect whatever the party decides. I am sure the party will take into account what the people want,” added the young leader, also the scion of the erstwhile royal family of Rampur-Bhushahr.
Having retained his Shimla Rural seat, he gave credit for the win to his late father’s legacy. “We have to walk the path shown by Virbhadra ji. The government will work on the ‘Virbhadra Singh vikas model’. He must be smiling today in heaven.” he told NDTV.
Pratibha Singh is currently Lok Sabha member from Mandi, a seat vacated by Virbhadra Singh’s death.
There are two other contenders besides her — current Leader of Opposition Sukhvinder Sukhu, and Mukesh Agnihotri — which is why the party feared BJP’s “Operation Lotus”, code for PM Narendra Modi’s party getting MLAs to switch loyalties to topple Opposition parties’ governments. The Congress suffered this in Madhya Pradesh not long ago.
No wonder the party is taking cautious steps in the hill state. Party observer Rajeev Shukla told reporters that MLAs may be moved to Chandigarh, 90 km away, “for convenience”, and said the BJP’s poaching attempts will not succeed if the Congress crosses 40, five above the majority mark in the 68-member assembly.
On who will be chief minister, Mr Shukla took the familiar Congress line: “The high command will decide after discussion with MLAs.”
Sources earlier said MLAs may be taken to Rajasthan or Chhattisgarh, the only two states where the Congress has chief ministers, after a pitstop in Chandigarh, if the margin remained slender. But the party later denied any such plan.
Mr Shukla said a meeting of MLAs may be called in Chandigarh “because people from all regions can easily reach there”. Two other observers — Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and Haryana leader Bhupinder Hooda — are reaching Chandigarh too.
Many winning candidates already gathered at Pratibha Singh’s home in Shimla, Holy Lodge, the centre of Congress activities since the time of her late husband Virbhadra Singh, the state’s tallest Congress leader until his death last year.
Congress in-charge Tajinder Singh Bittu said earlier today, “We are taking our leaders to Chandigarh and closing our doors and windows as the BJP will try to poach, as they have done many times in the past.”
Himachal is essential to giving the Congress some confidence as today it lost badly in PM Modi’s home state Gujarat.
Many of us will be getting ready to welcome friends and family into our homes for festive celebrations over the Christmas period. But a question about the dos and don’ts of asking visitors to take their shoes off has started a viral debate about a host’s responsibility to their guest’s comfort.
In a post on Mumsnet on Tuesday, user pairofrollerskates shared that they thought homes with a “no outdoor shoes” rule should provide slippers for guests. The comment has sparked wide debate with over 500 replies.
The poster asked: “Am I being unreasonable to expect no outdoor shoe households to provide slippers?” Before clarifying: “When you turn up for the first time at someone’s house to be told ‘please take off outdoor shoes‘ at the door, surely something should be provided rather than expect visitors to pad about in bare feet or socks.”
In many parts of the world, it is either a custom or simply considered polite to remove your shoes when you enter a home.
But a YouGov poll of 4,424 Americans revealed that people are more split on the issue. While the majority (87 percent) of Americans will take off shoes in their own homes, 50 percent said they would not expect their visitors to do the same.
Older millennials (aged 25-34) and those aged 35-44 reported the highest rates of shoe removal at 90 percent and 89 percent respectively, while slightly more men (52 percent) than women (49 percent) will ask visitors to remove their shoes.
On Mumsnet, users were quick to react and share their thoughts—with many suggesting that asking for alternative footwear at someone’s home is unreasonable.
“What is wrong with just wearing socks indoors? I would not expect to be provided with slippers and actually wouldn’t like it personally,” said one commenter. While another agreed: “I’d rather just wear my socks than some slippers that had been worn by god knows how many people before me.”
Should You Remove Your Shoes in Someone’s Home?
Etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore told Newsweek: “It’s polite to ask, “Would you like for me to remove my shoes?” Don’t assume but always ask. Protocol on removing one’s shoes is regional as well as cultural. When in doubt, ask. Otherwise, abide by the host’s rules.”
“I always take my slippers when I visit people’s houses for socialising,” said one commenter. “Can’t bear chilly feet.”
“I have a friend who provides not only indoor slippers but outdoor/garden slippers too,” said another reply. “She has a massive basket of each in a range of sizes. I love it because they are nicer than my old ones.”
Should You Provide Indoor Footwear for Guests?
Whitmore agreed that providing the option of alternative footwear was a good idea as a host: “It’s a nice gesture for the host to provide footwear to guests who are asked to remove their shoes. This is for safety and sanitary purposes.”
But many were not convinced by the idea of communal footwear, with commenters suggesting they would rather just wear socks.
“What’s wrong with walking around in socks? Bare feet sure, but I can’t see the issue with socks. Better that than communal guest slippers,” said one commenter.
Another Mumsnet user wrote: “Communal slippers. Gross.”
“I think providing shared slippers is odd,” agreed another reply. “No shoes means wander round in socks.”
Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of notorious private unit the Wagner Group, has slammed Russian police officers after they detained a man who is believed to have deserted from the front lines in Ukraine.
The press service of the company “Concord,” owned by Prigozhin, issued a statement after police on Wednesday detained a suspected deserter who fired at police officers in the city of Novoshakhtinsk in the Rostov region, near the Ukraine border.
He opened fire on police officers with a machine gun, wounding one, before fleeing.
Baza, a Russian Telegram channel that regularly posts information about security issues within the country, identified the gunman as Pavel Nikolin, a convict who was recruited by the mercenary outfit for President Vladimir Putin‘s war in Ukraine.
According to Baza, the man served time for theft and robbery in a Russian prison. From there he was recruited by the Wagner Group, but on November 24, Nikolin changed his mind about participating in the war in Ukraine and fled.
Russia’s state-run news agency RIA Novosti, citing the country’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, identified the man as a 38-year-old.The man was detained on suspicion of attacking policemen in Novoshakhtinsk, the ministry said.
Prigozhin responded to news of the man’s detention by criticizing those involved in his arrest. The mercenary outfit is investigating whether he is a member, he said.
“If the police have time to take pictures and leak information to journalists, then why don’t they go to the front line and let them [police] die on the battlefield with weapon in hand, instead of this convict,” Prigozhin was quoted by the press service as saying.
It is too early to tell whether he fled from the front lines in Ukraine, or if he “went crazy,” he continued.
“Perhaps he was wounded, received a severe concussion, as a result of which he went crazy or was disoriented – he did not understand where he was. And in his blood-clouded eyes, the policemen seemed like enemy soldiers, gnomes or astronauts,” Prigozhin said.
He continued by questioning how well-guarded Russia’s border with Ukraine is.
“The main question is…how a certain fighter of the Wagner PMC from among the former prisoners ended up with a weapon in his hands on the territory of the Russian Federation,” he said. “How did he cross the border?”
According to the FSB border department for the Rostov region, Novoshakhtinsk is a key checkpoint between the Rostov region and Luhansk, in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.
Newsweek has contacted Russia’s foreign ministry for comment.
Do you have a tip on a world news story that Newsweek should be covering? Do you have a question about the Russia-Ukraine war? Let us know via email@example.com.
A mother on Reddit has been labeled an a****** for refusing to let her 14-year-old daughter’s best friend come over to the house until she apologizes to her. In the post, written by user u/Effective-Weekend-97, the 37-year-old mother explains she needs an apology from the teenager.
Describing her daughter as a “natural introvert,” she says she and her husband were “thrilled when our daughter made a new friend her age since that is an area in which she struggles.” She describes a situation where the friend came over for dinner that her husband had cooked.
“During the course of the meal, I asked my daughter’s friend: ‘Are you enjoying the food?’ She responded ‘Yes! [Your husband] is a great cook! No wonder you’ve ended up a bigger woman.’ The room got quiet for several moments. My husband tried to laugh it off and change the subject but I wasn’t having it. The girl had just leveled a completely uncalled-for insult at me. My daughter’s friend seemed to realize that she’d messed up but she didn’t say anything else. We finished an awkward dinner in mostly silence and my daughter’s friend did stay the night.”
The OP then went on to explain that when her daughter asked if this friend could come over again, she replied, “Sure; if she’s going to apologize to me… I think it’s weird that I’m still waiting for an apology from that same girl. Seriously. That’s all I need. I just need to know that any friend of my daughter is willing to own up to her screw-ups.”
According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, “It doesn’t matter how smart teens are or how well they scored on the SAT or ACT. Good judgment isn’t something they can excel in, at least not yet. The rational part of a teen’s brain isn’t fully developed and won’t be until age 25 or so.”
Francis Jensen, a professor of neurology and author of The Teenage Brain, speaking to the University of Harvard agrees, saying, “Teens are in a discovery mode. They’re experiencing new things, and their brains are developing accordingly. There’s simply a lot going on in their brains.”
Newsweek spoke to Ruth Freeman, a psychotherapist and founder and president of parental resource hub Peace at Home Parenting Solutions about this delicate situation.
“Our job as parents is to help our kids grow up to be productive, happy, independent people,” she says. “The mom’s relationship with her daughter’s friend is secondary to supporting her ‘socially awkward’ daughter to have good peer relationships. Peers are important to the launch of young adults and the mom should mostly be focusing on her daughter’s needs.
“In fact, we shouldn’t be surprised that her daughter’s friend ends up being a bit ‘socially awkward’ as well. Kids tend to connect with others like themselves in some ways. The mother insisting on an apology puts a lot of pressure on her daughter who finds navigating friendships challenging in the first place. Sure, it would be great if the child apologizes, but (it’s) not as important as the parents’ roles in supporting the development of their children.”
Offering suggestions on how the mom might handle the situation, Freeman says: “The mom might even go so far as saying to the friend, ‘I felt hurt when you commented on my size at your last visit. There is so much pressure put on women by advertising and social media about our size. I hope you don’t feel that pressure yourself and I hope you don’t say things like that to other women in the future.’ This could be more about education than demanding an apology. But mostly, the mom will ideally just support her daughter and maybe say all that to her daughter instead and be happy that she has overcome her social challenges.”
Freeman adds: “This girl is not the mom’s friend, she is her daughter’s friend. Best to let her daughter know she felt hurt and then carry on. This might be a good training experience for the mom in case she doesn’t end up liking her daughter’s future life partner! It isn’t about the mom.”
Users were almost unanimous in their opinions of the mother’s behavior.
User MegC18 said, “Kids make mistakes. They’re not adults. They may do and say stupid things. Give them a chance and they will eventually learn the best way to handle social situations. You on the other hand can really, really hold a grudge. Very adult of you.”
User KknhgnhInepa0cnB11 commented, “Also… I think I figured out why daughter is socially awkward…. look at who raised her. She learned from the best, it seems.”
User Iunaticc said, “LOL kids are brutal. OP needs to let it go.”
Newsweek has reached out to u/Effective-Weekend-97 for comment.
If you have a similar family dilemma, let us know via firstname.lastname@example.org. We can ask experts for advice, and your story could be featured on Newsweek.
A woman refusing to do chores in December, despite her boyfriend’s complaints, is being supported online.
In a post to Reddit‘s Am I the A******? forum on December 4, user Visible-Reverse7554 explained that her boyfriend had recently moved into her house.
She owns a small business and most of her annual income is derived from sales between November and December. She warned her boyfriend in advance that she’d be unable to do household chores during this time, but he “dismissed her.”
Now she’s sticking to her word, leading to arguments and insults.
Why Do Women Do More Household Chores?
In a 2016 poll by Pew Research Center, 61 percent of the married couples surveyed said sharing chores was important for a happy marriage. However, a Pew study in 2021 found that, in heterosexual couples, household tasks still disproportionately fall on women.
Pew surveyed American adults who are married or living with a partner of the opposite sex and found that COVID-19 had deepened gender gaps in the division of responsibilities. Fifty-nine percent of women said they did more chores than their partner, compared to 20 percent of men. When it came to child care, 74 percent of mothers said they handled it, versus 9 percent of fathers.
Marni Goldman, a life coach and author of True To Myself: Peace, Love, Marni, underlined the importance of communication for a couple managing their lives together.
“Most marriages and friendships that end are the unfortunate result of poor communication,” she told Newsweek. “Make sure you both are listening and comprehending, not just nodding your head in agreement. This is crucial for any healthy relationship.”
If you need to discuss shared responsibilities, whether that’s chores, child care or finances, pick the right time.
“Being upset and angry is not the right time to explain how you feel. Process your emotions, and come back when you can discuss in a calm collective way,” said Goldman.
“The most harmless request can be misinterpreted because of the tone.”
It’s also crucial that you don’t resort to insults, the silent treatment or taking out your bad mood on your significant other.
“Instead, walk in and say ‘Full disclosure! I’m in a bad mood, don’t take it personally!'” advises Goldman. “You can’t argue with that.”
Have you noticed any red flags that made you end a relationship? Let us know via email@example.com. We can ask experts for advice, and your story could be featured on Newsweek.
‘Don’t forget to take out that big pile of man trash’
In her Reddit post, Visible-Reverse7554 explained that she had run her own business for five years and had to work 12 to 18-hour days in the run-up to the holidays.
She and her boyfriend usually split chores 50/50. However, she asked if he could pick up the slack on household tasks while she dealt with the Christmas rush.
“He works full time (37.5 hours a week),” she wrote.
“When he moved in, I had a talk with him letting him know that I can’t do any chores in November/December and asked if he could pick up the slack because I’m physically unable to do any chores as I can be working anything between 12-18 hours a day (I take a full January off to decompress).
“He said he doubted I worked that much but we will see.”
As her busy season draw near, she reiterated that she wouldn’t be able to help around the house. “I asked again in September and October to make sure he was aware that I won’t be doing anything (I meal prepped in advance) and I felt he kind of dismissed me,” she wrote.
“Mid-November, we had an argument about my chores not being done and I reminded him of what I told him.
“He said that he thought I wasn’t being serious and told me there’s no way he’d do 100% of chores because he’s working too. I said fine, don’t do my chores, they can wait until I have time. That’s how it was when I lived alone, no problem, I don’t make much mess anyway.”
As the weeks have gone on, the situation has escalated, with Visible-Reverse7554’s boyfriend calling her a “lazy b****.”
“He said I had to have a better work life balance and to grow up because the house was a mess,” she wrote. “I told him if it was a mess it was his fault because I barely leave my office.
“He called me a lazy b****. I told him I didn’t have time for arguing and went back working.”
After the fight, her boyfriend stood outside of her home office, yelling that she was an “a******” for leaving all the chores to him.
Reddit users were horrified by the man’s behavior, with trashlikeyourdata suggesting he is jealous.
“Babe, you own a house. He doesn’t and thus had a default position of moving into your place. He doesn’t respect the work that bought the house he’s now living in,” she wrote.
“This is a great time to lay down some boundaries and then stick to them before this evolves into habitual abuse.”
Effyoucreeps agreed, posting: “Heed the wise words above. you deserve better than this petulant child for a partner.”
Shadow_wolf82 said: “Someone who called me a lazy b**** in MY house wouldn’t be living in it much longer.”
Rloverbey advised: “When you resume chores in January, don’t forget to take out that big pile of man trash.”
Visible-Reserve7554 isn’t the only woman to ask the internet for advice on their lazy partners. A video of a husband caught pretending to do housework received over 91,000 likes on TikTok recently, while a woman’s revenge on her boyfriend who did chores wrong on purpose was called “genius” by Reddit users.
Newsweek has reached out to Visible-Reserve7554 for comment.
With just a month remaining before the opening of the January transfer window, there’s plenty of gossip swirling about who’s moving where. Transfer Talk brings you all the latest buzz on rumours, comings, goings and, of course, done deals!
The USA and Valencia midfielder has caught the attention of the Serie A side with his play in Qatar, and Inter are reported to be keen on a potential loan deal starting in January which would include a permanent option clause for next season.
The Nerazzurri are looking to continue acquiring young players for the future, and believe Musah could form a strong foundation in a midfield that includes another promising prospect in 20-year-old Kristjan Asllani.
Musah was a standout performer for the US at the World Cup, where he started all four matches for manager Gregg Berhalter, and it looks as though that has seen suitors begin to emerge for his signature. The 20-year-old, who grew up in England and was part of Arsenal‘s academy, has also attracted interest from Premier League sides.
He has made 11 appearances in LaLiga for Los Che this season.
10.55 GMT: Manchester United are working on a deal to sign Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer on a free transfer next summer, sources have told ESPN.
Sommer is set to leave Borussia Monchengladbach when his contract expires at the end of the season.
United are already looking at the possibility of adding the 33-year-old to Erik ten Hag’s squad and will be able to make contact with his representatives from Jan. 1.
Ten Hag is looking to refresh the goalkeeping department ahead of next season. Martin Dubravka, signed on loan in the last summer window, is expected to return to Newcastle at the end of the campaign having made just one first team appearance at Old Trafford. Meanwhile, Dean Henderson, who is spending the season on loan at Nottingham Forest, is due back at United in the summer after the club refused to include a buy clause in his temporary move to the City Ground.
Interest in Sommer, who was part of the Switzerland squad that reached the round of 16 at the World Cup in Qatar, will raise further doubts about David de Gea‘s long-term future.
10.22 GMT: Spain U21 coach Luis de la Fuente is the No. 1 candidate to replace Luis Enrique at the helm of the national team, according to Cadena Ser.
Luis Enrique is under fire following Spain’s round-of-16 exit from the World Cup after losing on penalties to Morocco on Tuesday.
The former Barcelona coach said he would meet up with the Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales next week to discuss his future, but reports in Spain claim a decision on that could be made in the next 48 hours.
De la Fuente, 61, has been at the helm of the U21 side since 2018 and guided them to European championship success in 2019 as well as a silver medal at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
09.48 GMT: Iran forward Mehdi Taremi is in no hurry to sign a new contract with FC Porto, according to A Bola.
Taremi, 30, has scored 11 goals and set up seven more in 18 appearances in all competitions for Porto. He is under contract until June 2024, but the club are already looking to offer him an improved deal.
However, the player, who scored two goals and set up one more in three appearances for Iran at the World Cup in Qatar, does not want to commit his future to Porto.
Taremi’s dream is to play in the Premier League and Chelsea are among the clubs that are closely monitoring his performances. Inter Milan are also reportedly in the race to sign him.
09.17 GMT: Wolverhampton coach Julen Lopetegui has confirmed his club are interested in signing Brazilian pair Matheus Cunha and Felipe from Atletico Madrid in the January transfer window.
“We have many open options,” Lopetegui said: “At the moment we have nothing closed. If we can complete them as soon as possible, the better. Both Cunha and Felipe are options to sign in the January market, they are to our liking. The important thing is to create a good group.”
Cunha, 23, has failed to score in 17 appearances for Atletico this season and the striker has been placed on the transfer list.
Veteran defender Felipe has only made three appearances for the Rojiblancos this season and is keen to leave in search of regular playing time. The 33-year-old becomes a free agent in July. and is a target of Besiktas.
Cunha, who joined Atletico from Hertha Berlin in August 2021 in a €26m transfer, is currently Atletico’s fifth-choice striker. He is under contract with Atletico until June 2026.
08.53 GMT: Barcelona sporting director Jordi Cruyff believes it’s “almost impossible” that the club will be able to sign players in the January transfer window because of financial fair play regulations.
“The president has said it publicly, yes, that it is almost impossible,” Cruyff said. “It is not simply that one player leaves and another enters, I wish it were like that but it is not like that. It is a subject that must be studied, the market begins in approximately a month. It is obvious that in our field you always have Plan A, B, C, D prepared according to what is possible or not, but if it is not possible, then to continue with what we have, in the end there are 17 World Cup players and that means that the squad it’s good.”
Cruyff, meanwhile, has ruled out putting Memphis Depay on the transfer list in January. The Netherlands forward becomes a free agent next summer and has not signed a new deal with the Catalan outfit.
“In the end we also have to think about [Barca forward Robert] Lewandowski having a three-match ban,” Cruyff said. “If a Barça player leaves to bring another you can consider it. But if that is not going to give you the ‘fair play’ either, then why [would you do it]? It has no sense. Today we are not thinking about departures but about having a competitive team for the second round… and Memphis, if he recovers from injury, and he is showing it in the national team, he is a player who can help a lot in any club in which he is.”
Cruyff also spoke about Frenkie de Jong, who turned down an €85m move to Manchester United in the summer. Barca had tried to offload the midfielder to United to balance their books, a move that was not welcomed by the Netherlands international.
“Obviously when there are negotiations not everyone is happy, it’s part of the game,” Cruyff added. “The reality is that he is here, he has been respected. He is loved, and the player has had many minutes and ended up starting before going to the World Cup, which also means that the club is turning the page. As long as we are all here we want things go as well as possible. Even the better each player plays, the more benefit it is for the club and for the coach.”
Borussia Dortmund’s Bellingham has been one of the key players in England’s run to the World Cup quarterfinals in Qatar. Last month, sources told ESPN that Liverpool are leading the chase for Bellingham despite Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Real Madrid also tracking the 19-year-old. Dortmund’s chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke said the midfielder can leave in the summer transfer window, and Al-Khelaifi said he would be interested in signing him.
“What a player. Honestly, England are lucky to have him … and he’s one of the best players in the tournament,” he told Sky News. “Amazing and you see his first World Cup — calm and relaxed and confident. Everyone wants him. I’m not going to hide it. But I respect he’s in his club and, respect if we want to talk to him, we talk to the club first.”
Al-Khelaifi also downplayed any chances of Portugal captain Ronaldo joining Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar in the French capital. Ronaldo is a free agent after he mutually agreed to terminate his contract with United in November following a controversial interview before the World Cup.
“The three players that we have [Messi, Neymar and Mbappe], it’s very difficult, but I wish him all the best,” Al-Khelaifi added. “He’s fantastic and he’s still an amazing player.”
Luis Echegaray is impressed by Jude Bellingham’s performance in the England round of 16 win against Senegal.
PAPER GOSSIP (by Adam Brown)
– Jude Bellingham‘s representatives have told Real Madrid that Liverpool are the favourites in the battle to sign him, according to Bild. The 19-year-old midfielder’s performances at the World Cup for England have seen interest in him grow further, but the report indicates that it is Jurgen Klopp’s side who have priority. Recent reports have suggested that Borussia Dortmund value his transfer at a fee as high as €150m.
– The race to sign Sofyan Amrabatis heating up with multiple clubs keen on Morocco star’s signature, reports Foot Mercato. The 26-year-old Fiorentina midfielder’s representatives are understood to have met Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp, with plans of a second meeting taking place after the World Cup. There is also interest from Tottenham Hotspur and Inter Milan, who are keeping close tabs on his situation.
– AS Roma have entered talks with the representatives of Memphis Depay, reveals Sport. Jose Mourinho’s side are hopeful of landing the 28-year-old Netherlands international forward on a free transfer, but Barcelona are looking for a fee worth €2m. Depay has made just two starts in LaLiga this season, but so far has scored twice for the Oranje at the World Cup.
– AC Milan have cooled their interest in Hakim Ziyech, according to Calciomercato. The 29-year-old attacking midfielder was a high priority in the summer, but the Rossoneri believe they don’t have the budget to be able to land him. Ziyech has made just one start for Chelsea this season in the Premier League, though his performances for Morocco at the World Cup have caught the attention of potential suitors this January.
– Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has provided the green light for the club to meet the valuation of Palmeiras forward Endrick, according to the Evening Standard. The Brazilian side will receive an initial €61m from Los Blancos, with a further €11m in add-ons. Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain had been linked with the 16-year-old talent, but it looks as though he is now destined for a move to Madrid in 2024 when he turns 18.
The Centre has proposed to amend various provisions of the Insurance Act 1938 and the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act 1999.
The amendments proposed are: allowing composite insurers — one insurer selling life and non-life insurance policies; enabling the insurance regulator to fix the minimum capital required and scrapping the statutory limits; changes in the investment norms; allowing different kinds of insurers including captives and others.
“Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had earlier announced that in the case of strategic sectors, there can be four public sector units and in the case of non-strategic sectors, there will be only one government owned unit,” a senior insurance industry told IANS.
“In line with that announcement, the government can merge its four non-life insurance companies with LIC,” the official added.
The employee unions in the four government-owned general insurance companies — The Oriental Insurance Company Limited, National Insurance Company Limited, The New India Assurance Company Limited and United India Insurance Company Limited — have been demanding the merger of the companies into one strong entity.
The Central government also owns other insurance companies — General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC Re), ECGC Ltd and Agriculture Insurance Company of India Ltd.
According to the industry official, GIC Re is the national reinsurer, ECGC and Agriculture Insurance are specialised business units.
“Perhaps the Agriculture Insurance can be merged with LIC at a later date,” the official added.
The employees in the four government non-life companies are also positively inclined towards such an idea.
“We welcome any move that would strengthen the public sector insurance companies,” Trilok Singh, General Secretary, General Insurance Employees’ All India Association (GIEAIA) told IANS.
He said the GIEAIA is studying the legal amendments proposed by the government.
Few years ago, the government had announced that it would merge The Oriental Insurance, National Insurance and United India into one company.
However, it did not proceed further on that idea.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
The BJP which is poised for a landslide, record-breaking victory in the Gujarat Assembly Elections will form its government in the state on December 12 in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Time has been sought from the Prime Minister’s office in this regard.
The BJP is poised for a landslide victory in Gujarat to retain power for a record seventh straight term in Gujarat. The Party was, However, behind the Congress in Himachal Pradesh which could go with the trend of alternative governments in the hill state.
After the first four hours of counting of votes in the Assembly elections in the BJP-ruled states of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, early trends showed that the saffron party with a vote share of nearly 54 per cent was ahead in 152 out of 182 seats in the western state and could surpass its previous best showing of 127 seats in 2002 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief minister. Congress holds the all-time record of 149 seats that it had won in 1985 under the leadership of Madhavsinh Solanki.
Banking on the charisma of Modi, who addressed as many as 30 election rallies, the BJP overcame anti-incumbency yet again after being in power for 27 years without losing an election since 1995. It had 99 seats in the outgoing house with a 49.1 per cent vote share.
With its expected huge victory in the home state of Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, the BJP, which focused on a development agenda, was set to equal the Left Front’s feat of seven consecutive terms in West Bengal. The CPI(M)-led Front ruled the eastern state for 34 years from 1977 to 2011.
Though the opposition took on the Modi government over rising inflation, slowing growth and joblessness, the economic troubles apparently did not dent BJP’s popularity in Gujarat that has been a bastion of the party for decades and where Modi was chief minister from 2001 to 2014.
Pulverised by the BJP, the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) initially seemed to be locked in a battle to grab the status of the main opposition party in the state with the grand old party having an edge. The Congress and the AAP were leading in 20 and six constituencies respectively.
The OPS figured as a prominent election promise in the Assembly elections in the two states, triggering debates that went beyond the political arena. Two Congress-ruled states — Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh — have already decided to implement the OPS, and the party had promised to restore it in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh if it came to power.
The Congress has crashed to its worst defeat in Gujarat, but if its likely new government in Himachal follows through on the party’s campaign promise, managing the state’s finances may prove to be an uphill task. Here is a look at state of finances of Himachal Pradesh — and the challenge that it poses to the new finance minister.
Mounting committed expenditure means shrinking scope for spending on development.
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As per data in the latest State Finances Audit Report of Himachal Pradesh for the year ended March 31, 2021, the committed expenditure of the state — which comprises interest payments, expenditure on salaries and wages, and pensions — had increased from Rs 17,154.75 crore in 2016-17 to Rs 22,464.51 crore in 2020-21.
As a percentage of the revenue receipts, the committed expenditure has increased from 65.31 per cent to 67.19 per cent over the last five years. The committed expenditure has been hovering around 67 per cent of the total revenue expenditure of the government during the last five years (2016-21).
The rising committed expenditure means that a lesser revenue is available with the state government for development expenditure. For instance, during 2020-21, only about one-third of the state’s total revenue receipts were available for developmental outlay.
One-fifth of the state’s revenue expenditure is now spent on paying the pensions bill.
During 2020-21, the expenditure on pensions stood at Rs 6,088 crore, which was almost 50 per cent higher than Rs 4,114.17 crore in 2016-17. In fact, as a percentage of revenue receipts, the expenditure on pension has increased from 15.66 per cent in 2016-17 to 18.21 per cent in 2020-21.
As a percentage of revenue expenditure, the pension expenditure has increased from 16.23 per cent to 18.16 per cent in the last five years.
Own Tax Revenues make up only a small share of the state’s total revenues.
Only about a fourth of the state’s revenue comes from its Own Tax Revenues (OTR). During 2020-21, out of the total revenue (Rs 33,438 crore) of the state, only Rs 8,083 crore came from the state’s OTR.
In Himachal Pradesh, the growth in OTR, which comprises taxes like State GST, State Excise, Stamp Duty and Registration Fees, Land Revenue, Taxes on Vehicles, Goods and Passengers, has remained very low in recent years.
Data from the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) show that Himachal Pradesh’s OTR increased by 14.84 per cent to Rs 8,083 crore in 2020-21 from Rs 7,039 crore in 2016-17. In the year preceding the pandemic (2019-20), Himachal Pradesh’s own taxes as a ratio of total revenue receipts stood at just 24.80 per cent, which was lower than the all-state average ratio of states’ own tax to total receipts (38.04 per cent) in that year.
Revenue buoyancy, or efficiency of revenue mobilisation in response to growth, is declining.
There has been a decline in the revenue buoyancy of the state. The revenue buoyancy ratio refers to the elasticity or degree of responsiveness of a fiscal variable with respect to a given change in the base variable. For example, if revenue buoyancy with respect to Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) is 1.21, it means that revenue receipts tend to increase by 1.21 percentage points if the GSDP increases by 1 per cent. During 2020-21, revenue buoyancy with respect to the GSDP in Himachal Pradesh was minus 2.27 per cent.
A number of Republican figures are blaming their own party for Herschel Walker‘s loss in the Georgia Senate runoff election.
Walker was defeated by incumbent Raphael Warnock, capping off an already miserable midterm performance from the GOP. The party failed to win control of the Senate and only just achieve a 218-seat majority in the House, instead of the predicted “red wave.”
Even before the Georgia runoff, a number of GOP figures were blaming Trump for their party’s poor November 8 performance, as voters rejected the former president’s extremist and election-denying candidates across all forms of government.
“The only way to explain this is candidate quality,” GOP Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan told CNN. “If we don’t take our medicine here, it’s our fault. … Every Republican in this country ought to hold Donald Trump accountable for this.”
Conservative pundit Ann Coulter, a former staunch supporter of the former president, also continued to attack Trump in the wake of Walker’s defeat.
While replying to a tweet about the GOP’s success in school board elections during the midterms, she wrote on Wednesday: “Thank your lucky stars that Trump doesn’t know what a school board election is, or he would have f-ed those up, too.”
“We felt this coming. To me, it never felt like the Senate Republicans wanted this guy in office. He was a Trump pick, they didn’t like that,” Ingraham said on her show shortly after the election of Warnock.
Former Trump White House counselor Kellyanne Conway also blamed the GOP Senators who didn’t openly back Walker in the race for his loss.
“To the 49 Republican senators, where were most of you?” Conway said, during Sean Hannity‘s Wednesday night Fox News show.
“Where were the other senators to say, ‘I want Herschel Walker, not Raphael Warnock, in the Senate with me?'”
Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene took a different route and blamed the two Republican senators who did campaign on behalf of Walker for his defeat.
“This is for Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham and the rest of the Republican senators; you guys are the reasons why we are losing Republican races all over the country,” Greene told Steve Bannon on his WarRoom podcast.
Greene also claimed she was prevented from campaigning on behalf of Walker, which hindered his chances of victory.
“The audacity and really frank rudeness of the campaign consultants and Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham where they thought, you know, we’re going to keep Marjorie Taylor Greene away from Herschel Walker and we don’t need her voice at his campaign rallies and events where we’re campaigning all over the state,” she said.
“I think is really a major mistake and an insult to me and insult to people who support me and Republicans all over Georgia.”