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NEWS|Current Affairs 
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Raebareli/Amethi: While the country stares at economic woes, it's raining projects for Raebareli and Amethi, the constituencies of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi, ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Last week, the Union Cabinet approved the Rs 500-crore Indira Gandhi National University for Women and the Rajiv Gandhi National Aviation University in Raebareli. The government will table two bills in the monsoon session of Parliament to set up these universities. But CNN-IBN travelled to the Gandhi bastions of Raebareli and Amethi and found that most of the projects announced earlier are still to take off. The Rs 1700-crore rail coach factory announced in 2007 was a non-starter until last year. Land allotment for the factory was cancelled hours before Sonia was to inaugurate it. The factory is now under construction and production has begun as well. The National Institute of Fashion Technology in Raebareli began functioning in 2007 but doesn't have a building to hold classes. It was only last year that Sonia laid the foundation and work started. Stories of such delays abound. The National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, which began in 2008, doesn't have a building either. A Steel Authority of India project announced in 2007 is yet to take off. A hospital like Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences was announced in 2010. But only 100 acres are available for the project. Acquisition of land is still on. Raebareli has been nurtured by the Gandhis for decades. But their politicial fortunes here may well be dwindling. In the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls last year, the Congress lost eight of the 10 seats falling in the parliamentary constituencies of Raebareli and Amethi. "Just before the elections, leaders come and make empty promises," says a resident of Raebareli, hinting at the mood on the ground. "For the last few years, we have been hearing that an AIIMS-like institution will be set up, but nothing has been done," complains another resident. The Congress blames the Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh for the delays. "A project can be completed only when the state government extends all possible help," says Congress leader and a parliamentarian from Uttar Pradesh Jagdambika Pal. Parasnath Yadav, a minister in the state government, holds the previous BSP government responsible for delays in the Raebareli rail coach factory project. Like Sonia's constituency, the situation is no better in neighbouring Amethi. A special economic zone promised by Rahul remains a dream, so do other development schemes he had talked of. The residents are bitter. Sandeep Shukla and his brother Yogendra say the absence of technical education opportunities is forcing students out of Amethi. "He (Rahul) can't just wave at us anymore, he should meet us. He can't just give assurances," says Sandeep. For some, Rahul's talk of realising one's aspirations is all smoke. "His ideas are theoretical. It would be good if he implements them. He should think about Amethi first. There are power and transportation problems here," says Pawan Singh Rathore, an engineering student. Jagdishpur in Amethi used to be an industrial hub. Today most of its factories are shut. Khurshid Aziz, a Congress worker, had to shut down his unit last year. He says Rahul had assured he would try for a special economic zone in Amethi. Aziz doesn't blame Rahul though. "There are a few things that Rahul Gandhi wants to do but is unable to. Some other things are in process but there are problems with them as well. The state government is not cooperating," he claims. In Amethi's Semra village, Shivkumari shows where Rahul and former British foreign secretary David Miliband spent a much publicised night at her home in January 2009. Little has changed in Shivkumari's life since then. She has a NREGA card, but says the village chief does not allot her work. "After he (Rahul) left, the neighbours said I had been given Rs 5 lakh, but I got nothing," says Shivkumari. Two of her five children dropped out of school because she had no money to educate them. "He (Rahul) promised he'll take care of my children's education but I got nothing," she says. A symbol of hope or a man of empty promises? Amethi is today asking if Rahul really cares.

U.S. considering taking fight against Islamic State into Syria

from firstpost

U.S. considering taking fight against Islamic State into Syria

EDGARTOWN Mass. (Reuters) - The United States is considering taking the fight against Islamic State militants into Syria after days of airstrikes against the group in Iraq and the beheading of an Amer...


U.S. considering taking fight against Islamic State into Syria

from firstpost

U.S. considering taking fight against Islamic State into Syria

EDGARTOWN Mass. (Reuters) - The United States is considering taking the fight against Islamic State militants into Syria after days of airstrikes against the group in Iraq and the beheading of an Amer...

Cholera outbreak in Ghana kills at least 67 since June - health authorities

from firstpost

Cholera outbreak in Ghana kills at least 67 since June - health authorities

ACCRA (Reuters) - Cholera has killed at least 67 people in Ghana since June and infected more than 5,000 others in an outbreak that highlights the health and sanitation challenges facing one of Africa...

WHO warns of "shadow zones" and unreported Ebola cases

from firstpost

WHO warns of "shadow zones" and unreported Ebola cases

GENEVA/MONROVIA (Reuters) - Families hiding infected loved ones and the existence of "shadow zones" where medics cannot go mean the West African Ebola epidemic is even bigger than thought, t...

Amid U.S. air strikes, Iraq struggles to build own air force

from firstpost

Amid U.S. air strikes, Iraq struggles to build own air force

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama told a recent interviewer he did not want the U.S. military to become Iraq's air force. But he may have little choice.Iraq had only a fledgling air force ...

Indonesia's president-elect eyes swift  fuel hike to boost budget

from firstpost

Indonesia's president-elect eyes swift fuel hike to boost budget

JAKARTA (Reuters) - President-elect Joko Widodo will sit down with Indonesia's outgoing leader next week in the hope of reaching an agreement to raise fuel prices before the handover in October, a mov...

Documented death toll in syria war at least 191,369 through April 2014 - U.N.

from firstpost

Documented death toll in syria war at least 191,369 through April 2014 - U.N.

GENEVA (Reuters) - At least 191,369 people have been killed in Syria's conflict through April, more than double the figure documented a year ago and probably still an under-estimate, the United Nation...