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President's Address to the Nation on the eve of Republic Day

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0815 HRS



  • Campaigning for Assembly polls gears up in Meghalaya and Nagaland; Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address rallies in both the states today.
  • In PNB fraud case, a special court in Mumbai sends Vipul Ambani Chief executive in Nirav Modi's company to CBI custody; The agency questions Vikram Kothari, owner of Rotomac Pens in Loan default case. 
  • India successfully conducts night trial of nuclear capable Prithvi-II missile from a test range in Odisha.
  • The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation fixes interest rate at 8.55 percent for 2017-18.
  • Flying officer Avani Chaturvedi becomes the first Indian woman to fly a fighter aircraft  MiG-21 solo. 
  • In Sri Lanka, the unity government will continue says Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe. 
  • And In Cricket, South Africa beat India by six wickets in the second Twenty20 match at Centurion leveling the three-match series 1-1. 


The Assembly poll campaigning is hotting up in Meghalaya and Nagaland with the participations of national and and state level political leaders. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address election rallies in both the states today. More details from Nagaland correspondent :
"In the poll bound Nagaland, political activities are gaining momentum. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be attending a rally at Tuensang town, about 269 kilometers away from the State capital, Kohima. Security has been beefed up. Meanwhile, all contesting political parties have named prominent National and State party leaders to campaign for their respective  parties across the State.  Besides, prominent State  campaigners of the Naga Peoples’ Front party and the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party are also campaigning in all the areas of the State wooing the voters for support and assuring for an all round development of the State.  Anenla Jamir, AIR News, Kohima."

Congress President Rahul Gandhi and senior party leaders Sonia Gandhi, Dr. Manmohan Singh are also expected to visit the State. JDU leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, NCP Chief Sharad Pawar, National Peoples’ Party President Conrad K Sangma will also  take part in the part in campaign.

In Meghalaya, the Prime Minister will visit Garo Hills to take part in the campaigning.

"The stage is set for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit at Phulbari in Garo Hills. Elaborate security arrangements have been made in and around the venue ahead of the visit. All the political parties have intensified their efforts to woo the voters. Yesterday Congress President Rahul Gandhi held a road show in Shillong. Manas Pratim Sarma, AIR News, Shillong."

The polling will be held in both the States on 27th of this month.


A special court in Mumbai has sent Vipul Ambani a senior executive in Nirav Modi's company and five others to CBI custody till March 5th in Punjab National Bank fraud case.

The six were arrested yesterday in connection with two FIRs registered by the CBI involving Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, the owner of Gitanjali Gems.

Vipul Ambani is the chief financial officer of Nirav Modi's Firestar International.

Meanwhile, the Central Bureau of Investigation, CBI has questioned the owner of Rotomac pens, Vikram Kothari, and his son Rahul at the agency's headquarters in New Delhi yesterday in connection with an alleged loan default of nearly 3700 crore rupees to a consortium of seven nationalised banks.

Mr Kothari was earlier questioned in Kanpur, where his company and residence were located. Kothari, his wife Sadhana and son Rahul, all directors of Rotomac Global Pvt Ltd, had allegedly diverted the loan amount towards purposes other than what they were meant for.


In Jammu & Kashmir, a gunfight raged in Hajin area of Bandipora district in North Kashmir early this morning. Security sources told AIR that on the basis of specific information the joint cordon and search operation was launched  by CRPF, Army and Special Operations Group of J&K Police in Paribal area of Hajin.

They said three militants are believed to be trapped in the area. Sources added that the firing on both sides was still going on.


Several Union Ministers will attend various sessions of the UP investment summit in Lucknow today. Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the two-day Summit yesterday and announced that one of the two defence industrial corridors proposed in the union budget worth rupees 20 thousand crores will be established in the Bundelkhand region of State.  A report from our correspondent.

"Finance Minister Arun Jaitey and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad would chair the sessions on banking and IT sector. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will head the session on defence manufacturing while Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu is scheduled to discuss on ease of doing business. Several other ministers including Dharmendra Pradhan Dr. Harshwardhan, General VK singh will also talk about investment issues related to their respective ministries. Country sessions for partner countries Thailand, Czech Republic, Slovak and Mauritius are also scheduled today. Sushil Chandra Tiwari, AIR News, Lucknow."
President Ram Nath Kovind will be the Chief Guest at Valedictory function in the afternoon.


The second meeting of the Canada-India Business Forum will be held in New Delhi today. Canada Prime Minister Canada, Justin Trudeau will take part in the meet. Earlier, the Indo-Canadian Business Chamber in partnership with the Canada-India Business Council hosted a business sessions in Mumbai on Tuesday. 

Mr Trudeau will be accorded ceremonial reception at the forecourts of Rashtrapati Bhawan tomorrow. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet the visiting leader in New Delhi tomorrow. They will  discuss various bilateral issues. Following the Meeting, a delegation level talks will be held at Hyderabad House. A number of agreements are expected to be signed in several areas after the talks. Mr Trudeau will also have meetings with President Ram Nath Kovind and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.


India has successfully conducted a night trial of its indigenously developed nuclear capable Prithvi-II missile from a test range in Odisha.

Defence sources said, the surface-to-surface missile with a strike range of 350 km, was test-fired from a mobile launcher at the Integrated Test Range in Chandipur around 8.30 pm as part of a user trial by the Army. The missile weighs about 4,600 kg, is capable of carrying 500 to one thousand kilogram of warheads. Here is a report:
"The perfect test launch of Prithvi-II came after successful trial of the Agni-5, Agni-1I and Agni I just little over a month from the Abdul Kalam Island off the Odisha coast. Inducted into the missile regiment of the Indian Army in 2003, the nine-metre-tall, single-stage liquid-fuelled Prithvi-II is the first missile developed by the DRDO under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme. Yesterday’s trial was a part of randomly selected regular training exercise by the armed forces which reconfirms the Army’s readiness to fire it at short notice.  Developed under the joint collaboration of Defence Research and Development Organization and Bharat Dynamics Limited, the missile was first test-fired on 27 January 1996. With SN Pattnaik from Odisha, Sanjeev Jasrotia AIR News."


Flying officer Avani Chaturvedi has ed history  by becoming the first Indian woman to fly a fighter aircraft solo. An Indian Air Force official said, she flew a MiG-21 bison in her first solo sortie from IAF's Jamnagar base in Gujarat on Monday. Details from  our correspondent :
"Avani is one of the three in the first batch of female combat pilots, besides Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh, who were inducted in Indian Air Force fighter squadron in 2016. They were commissioned as flying officers after government took the decision in 2015 to open the fighter stream for women on an experimental basis. Avani's
achievement has put India on the list of the countries such as Britain, the United States, Israel, and Pakistan where women are allowed to fly fighter jets. The Indian Air Force has already selected the next batch of three women trainee pilots for the fighter stream. Somnath Das, News Desk."


The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation, EPFO has declared 8.55 per cent interest rate for 2017-18 for its about 5 crore members. This was decided during the meeting of Central Board of Trustees of EPFO in New Delhi.

 For 2016-17 the rate was 8.65 per cent and in 2015-16 the rate was 8.8 per cent.

In order to maintain the interest this fiscal, the organisation had sold a portion of its investment in the Exchange Traded Funds.


Spiritual leader Aga Khan called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. He arrived in New Delhi yesterday, on a 10-day visit to India. This year marks the Diamond Jubilee of the Aga Khan leadership. During his stay Aga Khan will also meet President Ramnath Kovind.

In addition to these engagements, he will be visiting the cities of Ahmadabad, Hyderabad and Mumbai, where Aga Khan Development Network is involved in various development projects.


Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has said that the Unity Government between his party and President’s party will continue. Making a statement in Parliament yesterday, Prime Minister said the government will continue as per the motion passed in Parliament and there is no need to quit it. More from our correspondent :
 "Tensions had emerged between the two sides of unity government after President Sirisena had asked Prime Minister to resign taking responsibility for the defeat at local elections. A section of President’s party was also trying to form its own government with help of joint opposition led by Mahinda Rajapakse. The matter seems to have settled now and the unity government will continue except for some desertions from President’s side. A cabinet reshuffle is also on the cards with possibility of law and order, highways and agriculture getting new ministers. Santosh Kumar, AIR News, Colombo."


In Nigeria, nearly 80 schoolgirls have been rescued by the Army after being kidnapped by suspected Boko Haram attackers, who raided their school in northeast Nigeria on Monday. Commissioner of Education for Yobe state, Mohammed Alamin, said the exact number of girls will be confirmed today, when the school will be visited. He said the girls were rescued at a border town between Borno and Yobe yesterday. After rescue, the girls were taken to the Geidam Army Base in Yobe and were undergoing medical checks.

Boko Haram kidnapped nearly 300 girls from a school in Chibok in April 2014, setting off global outrage. Many of the Chibok girls were freed after negotiations, but more than 100 remain in captivity, their whereabouts unknown.


In Men's Cricket, South Africa beat India by six wickets in the second Twenty20 international at Centurion to level the three-match series 1-1.  The hosts achieved the target of 189 runs with eight balls to spare. Earlier, put into bat, India scored 188 for four in stipulated 20 overs.



  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meeting Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and clearing the air on 'Khalistan' issue is one of the stories that dominates headlines this morning. " Do not support separatists Canadian PM assures Captain" headlines The Tribune. " Amarinder seeks action on 9 Canada-based 'operatives'" writes The Asian Age.
  • Veteran actor Kamal Hasan launching his political party Makkal Needhi Maiam (People's Justice Centre) is another big story covered by the papers."Kamal's party to focus on a new south India" says The Hindu. "From acting to politicking" quips Hindustan Times. "Kejri in tow, Haasan launches party " informs The Times of India.
  • The battlelines being clearly drawn between the Delhi government and the bureaucracy after Delhi Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash alleged that AAP MLAs had assaulted him during a meeting at Chief Miniister Arvind Kejriwal's residence is also extensively covered by the press."Two AAP MLAs sent to jail, L-G tells Centre breakdown in Delhi" writes the Indian Express."BJP Builds case for prez rule in capital" is the lead headline in the Mail Today." Kejri faces an Official revolt, services unite" says DNA.
  • The Times of India in its lead story writes about a proposed bill that requires all deposit seekers to be registered. "Assured return offers by realtors, jewellers to be treated as Ponzi" headlines the paper.
  • Referring to the PNB scam, The Business Line writes " IT officals question PNB's top brass. CBI arrests PNB offical of GM rank posted at head office". "CBI arrests PNB GM, seals Nirav's Mumbai farmhouse" says the Pioneer."PNB transfers record 18 thousand employees" writes DNA.
  • In a related story Business Standard writes " Govt weighs PNB recap hike. Lender may also be put under RBI's prompt corrective action framework.
  • "Modi announces rupees 20k crore defence corridor for UP" informs DNA
  • The Indian Express reports that the Employee's Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has recommended to slash interest rates to 8.55 per cent for the current financial year of 2017-18 from 8.65 per cent last year. The nod is awaited from the Finance Ministry.


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