* Part 1

PM calls for implementation of 13th Amendment and provincial elections in the island country;

Sri Lankan President lauds India for support offered during financial crisis over the past year

India expects Sri Lanka to implement the 13th Amendment and ensure a “life of dignity and respect” for its Tamil population, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday.

Welcoming Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe to India, Mr. Modi said both sides had held talks on a number of infrastructure projects that could ensure greater connectivity between the two countries.

He also announced a development assistance package for the Tamils of Indian origin who are marking the 200th anniversary of their arrival in the island nation.

“We also talked about reconstruction and reconciliation in Sri Lanka. President Wickremesinghe presented his inclusive approach. We hope that Sri Lanka will fulfil the aspirations of the Tamils. We expect that Sri Lanka will take forward the process of rebuilding for equality, justice and peace. We hope that Sri Lanka will fulfil its commitment to implement the Thirteenth Amendment and to hold Provincial Council elections,” Mr. Modi said delivering his remarks in Hindi.

President Wickremesinghe expressed his government’s “profound appreciation” for the support that India has extended to Sri Lanka over the past year, which he described as the “most challenging period in Sri Lanka’s modern history”.

Mr. Modi and Mr. Wickremesinghe spoke at the end of bilateral talks held at Hyderabad House where the two sides exchanged documents on cooperation in the field of animal husbandry, renewable energy, development projects in Trincomalee district in eastern Sri Lanka, and online payment services between the two sides.

The Rajasthan Minimum Guaranteed Income Bill gives an assurance of 125 days of employment in a financial year to all families residing in rural and urban areas, the first in the country to do so

The Congress-ruled Rajasthan on Friday became the first and the only State in the country to give social security guarantee to the people with the passage of the Minimum Guaranteed Income Bill in the Assembly. The Assembly also passed an Amendment Bill for enhancing the punishment up to life imprisonment for leaking question papers of recruitment exams.

The Rajasthan Minimum Guaranteed Income Bill, 2023, passed with voice vote, gives a guarantee for giving 125 days of employment in a financial year to all families residing in the rural and urban areas and a minimum pension of ₹1,000 every month to the elderly people, specially abled people and widows and single women.

There will also be guarantee of 15% annual increase in these pensions under the legislation. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Shanti Dhariwal defended the provisions for entitlement-based social security in the Bill while replying to the debate in the House, during which the Opposition BJP MLAs suggested several amendments and sought circulation of the Bill to elicit public opinion.

‘Combined relief’

Mr. Dhariwal said the two main components of the Bill, devoted to employment guarantee and social security, would provide a “combined relief” to the people reeling under the impact of inflation.

The families residing in the villages will get 25 days of additional employment under the Chief Minister’s Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme after completing 100 days in the Union government’s MGNREGS. In the urban areas, the employment of 125 days per family will be given through the Indira Gandhi Urban Employment Guarantee Scheme. If the government authorities fail to provide employment within 15 days from the receipt of application, the applicant will be entitled to get unemployment allowance on a weekly basis and in any case not later than a fortnight, according to the Bill.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, recovering from injury, released a video message before the Bill was taken up for discussion in the Assembly. Mr. Gehlot said the path-breaking legislation would “create history” by giving a legal right to the people to get social security, as it was brought on the lines of the Nyuntam Aay Yojana proposed by the Congress in the 2019 Lok Sabha election manifesto.

Leader of the Opposition Rajendra Rathore and the BJP MLAs earlier said in the House that arranging finances for implementing social security as a legislative right would pose a challenge before the State government.

The House also passed by voice vote the Rajasthan Public Examination (Measures for Prevention of Unfair Means in Recruitment) (Amendment) Bill, 2023, for enhancing the maximum sentence for the crime of paper leak from 10 years’ jail to life imprisonment.

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