Headlines from today’s papers:

Nancy Powell steps down; Rajiv Shah favourite to take over

The United States ambassador to India, Nancy Powell, submitted her resignation to President Barack Obama on Monday. Powell’s refusal to engage with the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, until just before the elections is being considered probable cause for her decision. Her retirement is also being seen as an opportunity to reset relations between India and the US in the aftermath of tensions that arose over the arrest and strip-search of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade by US authorities in December. Meanwhile, Rajiv Shah, head of the United States Agency for International Development and the highest ranking Indian-American in Obama’s cabinet, is being touted as the favourite to replace Powell.

BJP pits Smriti Irani against Rahul Gandhi in Amethi

The Bharatiya Janata Party confirmed that it will field actor-turned-politician Smriti Irani in Amethi, Uttar Pradesh, the bastion of the Congress party’s vice-president Rahul Gandhi. This makes Irani the second high-profile candidate to counter Gandhi in his borough for the Lok Sabha elections. Kumar Vishwas of the Aam Aadmi Party has already in the fray. However, the BJP chose not to field a prominent candidate against Congress president Sonia Gandhi in Rae Bareli, and settled for Ajay Agarwal, a Supreme Court advocate who was involved in the Bofors and Telgi corruption cases.

Climate change may lead India to war: IPCC

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in a report released Monday stated that Asia would bear the brunt of climate change in the coming years. It warned that severe stress on water resources and food-grain production would increase the probability of armed conflict between India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and China. Saying that “the worst is yet to come”, the IPCC warned that India, like other developing counties, may lose up to 1.7 per cent of its gross domestic product if the annual mean temperature rises by 1 degree Celsius compared to the pre-industrialisation level. The report also said that India could witness an increase in extreme weather events similar to the Uttarakhand flash floods and Cyclone Phailin in Odisha, if rising temperatures are not controlled.

Petrol price cut by 75 paise; diesel unchanged

The price of petrol was cut by 75 paise per litre, effective April 1, across the country – the first reduction in five months. The move comes in light of the recent strengthening of the rupee against the dollar, as well as the weakening of global fuel prices, according to Indian Oil Corp, the country's largest oil firm. The reduction excludes local sales tax or Value Added Tax, and the actual cut will vary from city to city. Meanwhile, the monthly diesel hike was put off during the election season.

Bhullar death sentence commuted

The Supreme Court Monday commuted the death sentence of Devinderpal Singh Bhullar, convicted in the 1993 Delhi bomb blast case, to life imprisonment because of the delay in deciding his mercy petition and his medical condition. Bhullar had been awarded the death penalty by a trial court in 2001 for triggering a bomb blast in New Delhi that killed nine people and injured 25 others.