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Missionaries won’t be succesful in converting Hindus, because they don’t have strength: Mohan Bhagwat

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Raking up the issue of conversions, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said such attempts are unlikely to be successful in the country as the missionaries “do not have the strength”.Bhagwat pitched for Hindu unity and asked members of the community to come together irrespective of caste and language.”…after converting people to Christianity in the US, Europe, they (missionaries) are eyeing Asia. China calls itself secular, but will it allow itself to come under Christianity? No. Will Middle-East countries let it happen? No. They now think India is the place.”But they should keep it in mind, notwithstanding their strong push over 300 years, only six per cent of Indian population could be converted to Christianity. Because they do not have strength,” he said.The chief made the remarks while delivering valedictory address at Virat Hindu Sammelan, organised by Bharat Sevashram Sangh in Vansda in the district.Bhagwat sought to buttress his point by saying how two churches, one in the US and another in Birmingham in the UK, were converted into Ganesh temple and offices of Vishwa Hindu Parishad respectively, by a Hindu businessman in America.”This is the condition (of missionaries) in their own countries and they want to convert us. They cannot do it, they do not have that strength,” he added.Bhagwat asked Hindus to remember “who they are” and that their culture is “superior”.”Hindu community is in trouble. Which country are we living in? Our own country. This is our land, from the Himalayas (in the north) to the sea (in south). This is the land of our ancestors. Bharat Mata is mother of us all.”We have forgotten ourselves. We are all Hindus. Let our castes, languages we speak, regions we come from, gods we worship be different. Those who are sons of Bharat Mata, are Hindus. Hence, India is called Hindustan,” he said.Terming Hindu religion as one based on truth, Bhagwat said Hindus never tried to convert people pursuing other religions as they believe in co-existence.He urged people of all religions to “walk together” to make the world a better place and India a world leader.He reaffirmed the RSS stand that Hindus and non-Hindus living in “integrated India” have common ancestors who share the same DNA.Bhagwat urged the attendees to reach out to their “brothers”, to whom they have not gone for ages, keeping aside differences of caste, religion and language.”We should go to our brothers whom we have not gone to for ages. We did not go to them and hence these things (spread of other religions) are happening. We should go to them to share their pain, cooperate with them and perform our long-forgotten duty to make them aware of who they are, that we have common ancestors,” he added.

The A to Z of 2016

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A is Apple, Android, AI: And other state-of-the-art techB is for Brexit: A decision Britain may regretC is for Clinton: Her emails and her shimmyD is for Demonetization: The idea for a cashless economyE is for EU: That claims it has a migrant crisisF is for Fight: The war against terrorism, particularly ISISG is for Gandhis: India’s self-proclaimed first familyH is for Hombres: The good, the bad, and the uglyI is for ISIS: a group that’s anything but rationalJ is for Jingoism: If you don’t believe it, you’re anti-national K is for Kim, Kanye, Kyle and the other celebrities L is for Live streaming: so you’re a part of big storiesM is for Michelle: the Obama who is loved moreN is for Note: The phone that lost Samsung crores and croresO is for Orange: In the United States, it’s the New BlackP is for Potter: The Cursed Child (was it good or did it face flak?)Q is for Questions: For which answers we have noneR is for Russia: Because everyone assumes Putin’s scumS is for Stars: Many left us in 2016 and are now shining brightT is for Trump: Did America play its cards right?U is for Ugly: What we feel about 2016 dailyV is for Virat: Or as fans say, Kohli, Kohli, Kohli!W is for War: It gets murkier, will there be a WW III?X is for X-travagent wedding: Money spent by Janardhan ReddyY is for Yolo: the mantra employed to surviveZ is for Zika: A virus that had a 2016 thrive

Manohar Parrikar has a advice for Goan Media critics: Take off clothes and dance naked

Panaji: In a stern critique of a section of the Goan media, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said his advice to those who blabber needlessly was to take off their clothes and dance naked to get publicity.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTIDefence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Parrikar, who attended a Bharatiya Janata Party meeting in Sattari sub district in north Goa, located 40 km from Panaji, was speaking on Monday vis-a-vis the limits of criticism.

“I still remember in 1968 during the Watergate issue, he (an editor) had written a large editorial advising (Richard) Nixon. Now, how could an editorial written by him in Marathi reach Nixon? He is in America.

“Some people do not understand their limits. They keep blabbering. I have some good advice for them. Remove your clothes and dance naked (kapde kadha ani nagde nacha).

“One will get even better publicity,” Parrikar said, while referring to an editor of a vernacular newspaper in Panaji.

“I give one advice to those who abuse to get publicity. There was a newspaper here. It is still there. I will not take its name. It had an editor.

“He was an international level editor, he was brought here in his old age. His newspaper had a sale of 1,000…” the former Goa Chief Minister said.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 22:08 IST

Philippines’ Duterte ‘bye-bye America’ and we don’t need your money | Reuters

MANILA Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte told the United States on Saturday to prepare for repeal of an agreement on deployment of troops and equipment for exercises, declaring “bye-bye America”, and we don’t need your money.But Duterte suggested relations could improve under a President Donald Trump. “I like your mouth, it’s like mine, yes Mr President. We are similar and people with the same feathers flock together.” Returning his focus to the present U.S. administration which has criticised him over reports of extra-judicial killings in his campaign against drugs, he said:”We do not need you,” Duterte said in a news conference after arriving from visits to Cambodia and Singapore. “Prepare to leave the Philippines. Prepare for the eventual repeal or abrogation of the VFA.”

The Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), signed in 1998, accorded legal status to thousands of U.S. troops who were rotated in the country for military exercises and humanitarian assistance operations.”Bye, bye America and work on the protocols that will eventually move you out of the Philippines,” he said, adding his decision would come “any day soon” after reviewing another military deal, Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement.

The firebrand leader was visibly upset and vented his anger on Washington because of a decision by the Millennium Challenge Corp (MCC) board to defer vote on the re-selection of Manila for compact development due to human rights issues.

“We do not need the money. China said they will provide so many,” he said. “The politics here in Southeast Asia is changing.” (Reporting by Karen Lema, Manuel Mogato and Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Alison Williams)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 16, 2016 18:01 IST

India-US ‘major defence partnership’ must address New Delhi’s strategic concerns

US Ambassador to India Richard Rahul Verma has recently stated that the US-Pakistan relationship is “complex”, while US relations with India are more broad-based.

In saying so, Verma will be acutely aware that the US-Pakistan relationship is already on the trajectory towards becoming far more complex with Pakistan being inexorably subsumed by China, the CIA-ISI relationship notwithstanding. With China gearing up to establish an oceanic front in the Gwadar-Omari-Karachi region, a future US-China Cold War-like situation may be inevitable no matter the pretenses, and how and in what timeframe the transition from lukewarm to cold takes place, which will be resisted by China.

President-elect Donald Trump’s statement that the US may not necessarily be bound with the ‘One China’ policy raised hackles in China with Beijing hitting back that it would help the foes of America. Only time will tell how Trump’s remarks about the ‘One China’ policy are followed through in future. However, in all probability he will act against China’s economic policy of ‘dumping’ goods abroad at the cost of target countries. But if China says it will help America’s foes, it is already doing so through proxies of Pakistan as well as through its own links with the Taliban.

File image of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar with Defence Secretary Ash Carter at a joint news conference at the Pentagon. News18

File image of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar with Defence Secretary Ash Carter at a joint news conference at the Pentagon. News18

What will affect South Asia most is how the Trump administration deals with Pakistan now that Generals Michael T Flynn (former director of US Defence Intelligence Agency) and James Mattis (former commander of US Central Command) will be the next National Security Advisor and Secretary of Defence respectively. This is particularly so given their firm views about countering terrorism. Notwithstanding the joint statement on conclusion of the recent ‘Heart of Asia’ Summit categorically naming Pakistani proxies operating in Afghanistan, this had already been explicitly brought out in the report of the United Nations Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) in July 2016. These facts have been ignored by the US in the past despite Pakistani proxies, Haqqani Network in particular, targeting US-Nato forces in Afghanistan

With the US Senate clearing a bill characterising India as a “major defence partner”, India-US relations have taken a leap. The 2017 National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) was passed by the US House of Representatives by 375 votes to 34. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visited Washington in June this year, President Barack Obama had said he looks at India as a major defence partner of the US. The US Senate has now cleared the decks to put an official seal on it before it goes for signatures to Obama, which should be a mere formality. It is significant to note that after the passage of the bill — within 180 days, the secretary of defence and the secretary of state are required to jointly submit to the Congressional Defence Committee, the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate and Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives a report on how the US is supporting its defence relationship with India.

The India-US joint statement issued during the visit of Secretary of State John Kerry to India in August 2016 had noted that robust defence ties were the “bedrock” of bilateral strategic and commercial ties, making reference to the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) and the title of “major defence partner” for India that Obama envisaged. In December 2016, Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter made an official visit to India for the seventh institutionalised interaction with Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar. The joint statement issued during Carter’s visit finalised India’s designation as a “major defence partner” of the US. This special status is unique to India and institutionalises the progress made to facilitate defence trade and technology sharing with India to a level on par with that of America’s closest allies and partners, ensuring enduring cooperation in future.

The emergence of the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative ( DTTI) as an integral and enduring component of India-US security cooperation is a sign that the relationship has matured to a level of strategic importance. The DTTI will strengthen India’s ‘Make in India’ initiative and both sides committed to convening all-new DTTI working groups prior to the next DTTI group meeting anticipated for February 2017. India-US defence relations in recent years have been on an escalating trajectory. The signing of the Defence Framework Agreement in 2015 was a major signpost.

This along with other agreements laid the blueprint for collaboration between defence establishments of both nations, enabling deeper cooperation. Joint exchange opportunities, in both personnel and training exercises, have expanded and strengthened our bilateral cooperation. The signing of the LEMOA has facilitated additional opportunities for practical engagement and exchange.

What does ‘major defence partner’ imply?

Logically, it should result in greater sharing of defence technologies (state-of-the-art ones), co-production of armaments as part of ‘Make in India’ and dovetailing defence plans with the US approach through coordination in military logistics, and in strategic and satellite communications and sensors. The US is also looking at early signing of the Communication and Information Security Memorandum Agreement (CISMOA) and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geospatial Cooperation (BECA) joint agreements that would complete the trinity of foundational agreements for bilateral defence ties.

File image of Donald Trump and James Mattis. AP

File image of Donald Trump and James Mattis. AP

Admiral John Richardson had visited India in February 2016 coinciding with India hosting the spectacular international fleet review, in which the US Navy also participated. The year 2016 also saw the navies of India, US and Japan participating in the MALABAR exercise in the Western Pacific, much to the chagrin of China. The India-US Maritime Dialogue has been ongoing with strategic interests converging with respect to the Indo-Pacific region.

But while the US interests in the bilateral relationship centre mainly on cooperation on the seas and defence industry cooperation, the ‘major defence partnership’ must also address India’s concerns in South Asia. These include the China-Pakistan nexus exporting terrorism to India and Afghanistan. Pakistan’s newly appointed DG ISI, Naveed Mukhtar, has called for Pakistan to be more aggressive against Indian interests in Afghanistan. Pakistan is in illegal occupation of PoK and China-occupied Shaksgam and Aksai Chin — all Indian Territories. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor together with Chinese naval vessels and submarines at Gwadar have strategic implications both for India and the region including on future operations in the IOR. Similarly, the PLA’s lodgment in Gilgit-Baltistan, and deployment of strategic weapon platforms have serious implications.

Now that President Vladimir Putin has indicated he will work with Trump in countering terrorism, attention must be paid to Pakistan as the epicentre of terrorism which is supported and abetted by China. The India-US Defence Partnership must focus on these issues, particularly targeting the epicentre of terrorism, ensuring stability and economic progress of Afghanistan and connectivity within South Asia.

The author is a veteran Lieutenant-General of the Indian Army

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 13:00 IST

Time magazine names U.S. President-elect Trump Person of the Year | Reuters

WASHINGTON Time Magazine named U.S. President-elect Donald Trump its person of the year on Wednesday, citing the upheaval in American politics brought about by the New York businessman’s election campaign and victory.”It’s hard to measure the scale of his disruption,” Time said in its announcement, noting Trump’s career as real estate magnate and reality television star before he won the presidency on Nov. 8.The Republican president-elect, who will be sworn in on Jan. 20, ran an unconventional and controversial campaign against Democrat Hillary Clinton. Time noted that views of him were deeply divided.”For those who believe this is all for the better, Trump’s victory represents a long-overdue rebuke to an entrenched and arrogant governing class,” the magazine said.”For those who see it as for the worse, the destruction extends to cherished norms of civility and discourse, a politics poisoned by vile streams of racism, sexism, nativism.”

The magazine said its short list for person of the year included Clinton, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and singer Beyonce.”It’s a great honor, it means a lot,” Trump told NBC’s “Today” show in an interview shortly after the announcement.

But he rejected Time’s characterization of the country as fractured. The magazine’s cover called him the “president of the divided states of America.””I didn’t divide them, they’re divided now,” he told NBC. “We’re going to put it back together.” He added: “I think putting ‘divided’ is snarky.”

Time makes its annual choice based on the impact a person has on world events, for better or for worse. Last year the magazine chose German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Previous winners have ranged from Mahatma Gandhi to Adolf Hitler. (Reporting by Susan Heavey, Doina Chiacu and Bill Trott; Editing by Alden Bentley and Frances Kerry)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 20:41 IST

Bolivia suspends airline as Colombian crash probe points to lack of fuel | Reuters

By Daniel Ramos and Fredy Builes
| LA PAZ/MEDELLIN, Colombia

LA PAZ/MEDELLIN, Colombia Bolivian authorities on Thursday suspended the license of a tiny charter airline whose plane crashed in Colombia this week after apparently running out of fuel, killing 71 people and wiping out a Brazilian football team on its way to a regional cup final.Monday night’s disaster sent shock waves across the global football community and plunged Latin America’s largest nation, Brazil, into mourning as it reels from a deep recession and political crisis. The small Chapecoense team was travelling to the biggest game in its history, the final of the Copa Sudamericana.Colombian investigators said the crash might have resulted from lack of fuel on the plane operated by charter airline LAMIA Bolivia. Freddy Bonilla, secretary of airline security at Colombia’s aviation authority, said investigators combing the crash site on a wooded hillside outside of Medellin found no traces of fuel in the wreckage of the BAe 146 made by Britain’s BAE Systems Plc (BAES.L). Air traffic control at Medellin airport asked the LAMIA pilot to wait while another flight made an emergency landing. International flight regulations require aircraft to carry enough reserve fuel to fly for 30 minutes after reaching their destination. “In this case, sadly, the aircraft did not have enough fuel to meet the regulations for contingency,” Bonilla said. Bolivia said on Thursday that it was immediately suspending LAMIA’s operation certificate and would replace the management of its aviation authority in the wake of the crash, to ensure a transparent investigation. It said the moves implied no wrongdoing. LAMIA Chief Executive Officer Gustavo Vargas on Wednesday said the plane had been correctly inspected before departure and should have had enough fuel for about 4-1/2 hours.”It’s a decision that the pilot makes,” Vargas told reporters in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. “Weather conditions influence a lot, but he had alternatives in Bogota in case of a fuel deficiency.”

A crackling recording obtained by Colombian media of Bolivian pilot Miguel Quiroga’s final words showed he told the control tower at Medellin’s airport that the plane was “in total failure, total electrical failure, without fuel.” He requested urgent permission to land, and then the audio went silent. BRAZIL GRIEVES
In the football club’s small farming hometown of Chapeco in southern Brazil, workers on Thursday erected temporary structures in the stadium to shelter the coffins of 51 victims – players, staff and journalists – expected to arrive back on Friday for an open-air wake.

Some 100,000 fans, about half the city’s population, were expected to attend, as were Brazilian President Michel Temer and Gianni Infantino, president of world football governing body FIFA.On Wednesday night, when the Copa Sudamericana final had been scheduled, tens of thousands of fans assembled in tribute at Chapecoense’s arena and the stadium in Medellin of rival team Atletico Nacional. “We Brazilians will never forget the way in which Colombians have felt as their own the pain of this terrible disaster that ended the historic dream of Chapecoense,” Foreign Minister Jose Serra told the crowds in Medellin.Fox Sports Brasil, which lost six of its journalists in the crash, broadcast 90 minutes of a black screen in the time slot of Wednesday’s game.

BLACK BOXES
A spokesman for Britain’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch said an inspector for the agency and Colombian officials would transport the aircraft’s black boxes back to the United Kingdom, where the information will be downloaded.Only six on board the flight survived: three Chapecoense team members, a journalist and two Bolivian crew members.Some have wondered why Chapecoense used the charter company instead of a commercial airline. Club Vice President Luiz Antonio Palaoro said LAMIA had a track record of transporting football teams around South America, and it had used the airline before. “We are dealing with the humanitarian aspect of the families and the victims,” Palaoro told reporters in Chapeco. “After that, we are going to have to think about restructuring the team and also the appropriate legal measures.”Among surviving players, goalkeeper Jackson Follmann’s right leg was amputated, while defender Helio Neto was in intensive care with severe trauma to his skull, thorax and lungs. Fellow defender Alan Ruschel had spinal surgery. Two of the Bolivian flight crew, Ximena Suarez and Erwin Tumiri, were bruised but not in critical condition, while journalist Rafael Valmorbida was treated in intensive care for multiple rib fractures that partly collapsed a lung. (Reporting by Daniel Ramos in La Paz, Brad Haynes in Chapeco, Julia Symmes Cobb in Medellin, Anthony Boadle in Brasilia, Helen Murphy in Bogota and Tim Hepher in Paris; Writing by Helen Murphy in Bogota and Daniel Flynn in Sao Paulo; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Lisa Von Ahn)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 1, 2016 23:36 IST

Plane with Brazil’s Chapecoense soccer team crashes in Colombia, 75 dead | Reuters

By Fredy Builes and Paolo Whitaker
| LA UNION, Colombia/ CHAPECO, Brazil

LA UNION, Colombia/ CHAPECO, Brazil A charter plane carrying Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense to the biggest game in its history crashed in the Colombian mountains after an electrical fault, killing 75 people on board, authorities said on Tuesday.Colombia’s worst air disaster in two decades came as the team from Brazil’s top soccer league flew to face Atletico Nacional of Medellin in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final, South America’s equivalent of the Europa League. The plane, en route from Bolivia where the team had a stopover, went down about 10:15 p.m. on Monday night with 72 passengers and a crew of nine on board. It had reported electrical problems and declared an emergency minutes earlier as it neared its destination, Medellin airport officials said.At the crash scene near the town of La Union in wooded highlands outside Medellin, dozens of bodies were laid out and covered with sheets around the wreckage of the BAe 146. The plane was shattered against a mountainside with the tail end virtually disintegrated. Rain hampered dozens of rescuers as they combed the muddy and forested area.Colombia’s civil aviation head, Alfredo Bocanegra, said there were 75 confirmed fatalities, with six injured survivors. They were listed as three players, a journalist and two members of the flight crew. Two of the six were in grave condition.It was the first time Chapecoense, a small club from the southern Brazilian town of Chapeco, had reached the final of a major South American club competition.Brazilian news organizations said 21 journalists had been on board the plane to cover the match.Global soccer was stunned, matches were cancelled around South America, and Brazil declared three days of mourning.”I express my solidarity in this sad hour during which tragedy has beset dozens of Brazilian families,” President Michel Temer said.Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos tweeted his condolences. “Solidarity with the families of the victims and Brazil,” he said.

Colombia’s civil aviation authority named the survivors as players Alan Ruschel, Jackson Follmann and Hélio Neto; journalist Rafael Valmorbida; air stewardess Ximena Suarez and flight technician Erwin Tumiri.Flight tracking service Flightradar24 said on Twitter the last signal from flight 2933 was received when it was at 15,500 feet (4,724 m), about 30 km (18.64 miles) from its destination, which sits at an altitude of 7,000 feet (2133 m).The BAe 146 was produced by a company that is now part of the UK’s BAE Systems The team flew Brazilian airline Gol to Santa Cruz in Bolivia and then took a flight from there to Medellin on the plane run by a Bolivian-based, Venezuelan-owned company called LaMia. GLOBAL SOCCER WORLD SHAKEN
The crash evoked memories of a series of soccer air disasters in the 20th century, including the Munich crash in 1958 that killed 23 people, including eight Manchester United players, journalists and travelling officials.

World governing body FIFA said on Twitter its “thoughts were with the victims, their families, fans of Chapecoense and media organisations in Brazil on this tragic day.”Chapecoense qualified for the biggest game in its history after overcoming the Argentine club San Lorenzo in the semi-final on away goals following a 1-1 draw in Buenos Aires and 0-0 draw at home.They were underdogs for the match against a club going for a rare double after winning the Copa Libertadores in July.Chapecoense was the 21st biggest club in Brazil in terms of revenue in 2015, bringing in 46 million reais ($13.5 million), according to a list by Brazilian bank Itau BBA.The club has built its success on a frugal spending policy that eschewed big money signings and concentrated on blending young talent and experienced journeymen.”They were the hope of our city,” said Jean Panegalli, 17, a student in Chapeco. “They played for love of the shirt and not for money. They played with the commitment that only those who have lived here know.

“They were ferocious.”Several hundred dejected fans gathered around the team’s Conda stadium in Chapeco, many of them wearing Chapecoense’s green strip. At least one young fan burst into tears”It is still hard to believe what has happened to the Chapecoense team just when it was on the rise,” said Agenor Danieli, a 64-year-old pensioner in the agricultural town of around 200,000 people in Santa Catarina state.”We are in crisis. The town has come to a stop. Companies are giving people the day off so they can come here to the stadium. We need to pray. It still doesn’t feel real.” Chapecoense’s best-known player was Cleber Santana, a midfielder whose best years were spent in Spain with Atletico Madrid and Mallorca. Coach Caio Junior also was experienced, having managed at some of Brazil’s biggest clubs, Botafogo, Flamengo and Palmeiras among them.The crash prompted an outpouring of solidarity and grief on social media from the soccer community, with Brazilian top flight teams Flamengo and Santos tweeting messages of support.Porto goalkeeper Iker Casillas tweeted: “My condolences for the plane accident that carried @ChapecoenseReal. Tough moment for football. Good luck and stay strong!”The South American football federation suspended all games and other activities following the crash.It was Colombia’s worst air accident since more than 160 people on an American Airlines plane died in 1995 in a mountainous zone near Cali.($1=3.40 reais) (Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb and Andrew Cawthorne; Additional reporting by Helen Murphy, Julia Symmes Cobb and Luis Jaime Acosta in Bogota; Andrew Downie, Anthony Boadle and Dan Flynn in Brazil, Girish Gupta in Caracas; Tim Hepher in Paris; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Kieran Murray)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Nov 29, 2016 21:05 IST

Theresa May wants ‘free trade’, but unfair visa rule upsets deal for Indian students

Prime Minister Theresa May’s first official trip to India took place in the backdrop of Brexit talks. The Prime Minister was pinning her hopes on a good deal with India to shore up post-Brexit hopes. But her efforts to win the support of Indians were dashed when Modi and his top team insisted changes in visa rules for highly-skilled Indian professionals and students.

May arrived in Delhi with one agenda in the kitty — trade. But Indians on the other side were ready with a list of issues in the agenda to discuss and get a deal. Trade deal with Britain was secondary for India. Technically, UK is just one among the 28 European Union countries and India is monitoring the developments in the UK and the Eurozone. Besides Brexit, more troubles are brewing, like the rise of the far right in France, the forthcoming German elections and the Italian referendum.

As cross-border terrorism spoils the peace in Kashmir, India was looking for a strong ally in Britain to end the issue forever. They were also looking for support from the former colonial master for a firm action against fugitives hiding in Britain. India, one of the fastest growing economies, is also looking for avenues for its young population to upgrade their skills. A fair deal for it highly-skilled professionals to work in the United Kingdom is also on agenda. Indians were looking for a package, but what May put on the table was a one line agenda — trade.

Britain Prime Minister Theresa May. ReutersBritain Prime Minister Theresa May. Reuters

Britain Prime Minister Theresa May. Reuters

The British Prime Minister also annoyed Indians by telling them to take back illegal immigrants to get a fair visa rule. Indians are not looking for any favours from Britain. Australia, America and New Zealand are now favourite destinations for Indian students. UK’s loss in America’s gain. The number of Indian students studying in the US has gone up to over 1,65,000 during the academic year 2015-16, a growth of 25 percent over the previous year. According to the 2016 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, there are 1,65,918 students from India, making it the second leading country of origin among international students in the US. India accounts for one out of every six international students in the US.  Approximately three-fifths of Indian students are at the graduate level and three-fourths are in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

Even Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was pleading for May to relax rules for Indian students.

“Education is vital for our students and we will define our engagement in a shared future. We must therefore encourage greater mobility and participation of young people in education and research opportunities,” Modi told May during the inauguration of Indo-UK Tech Summit. But May was firm on her strategy, which was formulated during her Home Office days. The decision to put Indian students in the net migration bracket dearly affected British universities. The rise in tuition fees, the troublesome paperwork to get visa, besides the lack of post-study opportunities deter Indian students. Their numbers are almost half now. Just 20,000 from the earlier figures of 40,000 plus.

Sir Keith Burnett, vice-chancellor of the University of Sheffield, and other members of the academic brigade in the delegation were gobsmacked and furious when May and her core team defended the visa policy instead of uttering anything to please the Indian press or the politicians.

“She just wants free trade with India,” Sir Keith wrote in a blog. “Free trade means free trade, she says, good for all and nothing to do with students. She even insists that students should be labelled as migrants, which is completely potty. Even Nigel Farage didn’t want that. In any case, Indians feel doubly insulted by this position.”

India is a country with 65 percent of the population below 35 years and 50 percent of the population below 25. They are global citizens of the new world and ambitious to explore and attain new skills. Families will sacrifice their precious savings for the education of their children. That is why young Indians are flocking at embassies to seek visas to fulfill their parents’ dreams. Some may stay abroad, but the majority will return. Who can withstand the lure of 7 plus GDP rate? When the western economies are hovering over 1 percent and 2 percent, Indians are aiming a double digit growth. They want the right skills to fuel the economy. They are looking towards Britain to acquire that because of the cultural bond and the language. They want to follow the paths of Gandhi, Nehru, Sardar Patel, Ambedkar, Ramanujan… But May and her team are letting them down.

Sir Keith and other are campaigning against this. He is co-founder of the #WeAreInternational campaign to welcome and value international students, staff and research. Over 100 UK universities are supporting the campaign.

“I will not speak of the real harm that these policies will do to cities across the UK, where students are vital drivers of the local economy. Others can speak of that. But what I want — what I need — to emphasise is how we are destroying hard-earned goodwill with a huge proportion of the world’s population. You should care about this. Your children’s jobs in the future could depend on it. So I’m going to work hard to make our education the very best for potential Indian students, and make the welcome as warm as possible in Sheffield.

“Sheffield students, leaders and I founded the #WeAreInternational campaign. I am damned proud of the students and staff across the UK who have joined us to show that we are still the nation that India can be friends with. And I will be working to make clear that the vast majority of Brits welcome students from India and don’t think of them as migrants – 91 percent, in fact, in a recent survey. I will work to build collaborations with Indian universities and companies. We will continue to work together on cures for diseases and inventions that will help to make our planet more sustainable. But I must beg, and I do beg. Please listen to India before it is too late.”

The British Prime Minister also annoyed Indians by telling them to take back illegal immigrants to get a fair visa rule

Sir Keith, Lord Karan Billimoria, Modi… people are appealing. But these appeals are falling on deaf years. As the world becomes a global village, mobility is a issue for global citizens. We cannot separate free movement of people from free flow of goods, services and investment.

May defended the UK’s stance by insisting that the UK already had a ‘good system’ for applications from India. “The figures show that we issue more work visas to India than [to] the US, Australia and China put together,” May said. “Nine out of 10 visa applications from India are already accepted. So we have, I believe, a good system.”

A good system? Britain is going to pay for that “good system”. Universities are already on the brink of collapse.  Trade will not help Britain to mend those faults. While Britain is barred from signing bilateral trade deals with third countries until it has left the EU, May said that there were steps that can be taken immediately to “break down barriers and make it easier to do business”.

Britain and India need to “identify what more we can do now to unleash our businesses, industries, exporters and investors”, she said, adding, “this does not need to wait for us to leave the EU”.

In summary, the visit inks business deals worth £1.2 billion and creates 1,370 jobs. The visit also formulates a ministerial level committee to look into extradition and immigration issues. A new India-UK Urban Partnership to develop ‘smart cities’ was also announced.

Among initiatives to foster trade, Indian tycoons and their families are to gain access to the GREAT Club programme which provides assistance with visa-processing, while an estimated 10,000 executives are to benefit from a Registered Traveller service to speed their way past queues at UK airports. A benefit to 10,000 people in the country with a population of 1.3 billion.

May’s first mission to India contained a business delegation of 33, besides decision-makers from the government. The absence of Priti Patel, the Indian-origin International Development Secretary, was noticed by many. The charismatic ever-smiling Brexit poster girl could have opened new avenues for discussions.

During the Cameron era, the British machinery was fully geared up to engage with the Indian platoons on trade, diplomatic and cultural relations. It is always a mela time for journalists and there is no dearth of stories to file. How many stories you can file on trade and Brexit on a busy foreign mission? May is not Cameron and she has her own views and policies.

Dealing with India needs lots of preparations. Money is not a crucial factor for India or Indians, but relations are. Indian leaders, especially the present government, believe in karma. They want to do good karma for the youngsters. They will go an extra mile for that. The route to enter the heart of India is not through airports or seaports with huge cargo, but a simple candy to please the new generation.

India never lets its partners down. They are the largest democracy and they respect friendship. May missed that opportunity in her first mission. There are many lessons to learn from recent history. Even Cameron failed to convince Modi to sign a multi-billion deal for Eurofighter Typhoon jets. Modi enjoyed English hospitality at Chequers Court, but chose France’s Rafael for Indian Air Force.  Because India believes in liberty, equality and fraternity. A friend in need is a friend indeed. Viva la friendship.

First Published On : Nov 28, 2016 13:08 IST

Trump cloud looms over main segment of Marrakech talks

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After a week of negotiations, some of them heated, on laying down rules to implement the Paris Climate agreement, the business end of the Marrakech International Climate conference is going to begin November 15, as heads of states and environment ministers will join the conference.Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Anil Dave, is slated to speak at the conference on Wednesday. The high-level segment will proceed under a cloud of uncertainty regarding the Paris deal’s future as Donald Trump, who has publicly called for pulling out of the deal, was elected the next President of the United States of America.In the first week of the conference, which began on November 7, sessions were held to discuss issues such as climate finance, reporting of climate action and accounting of climate finance. The conference will conclude on November 18.According to sources present at the Marrakech conference, the first week has seen differences emerge over funding for adaptation and the mood is gloomy after Donald Trump’s election. Climate adaptation is about taking measures to reduce the adverse impact of climate change, especially in Island countries and coastal towns, which are some of the worst affected due to climate change induced natural calamities and freak weather events.In meetings on adaptation funds, developed countries have hinted that they do not want to continue with this fund, even as it was clearly mentioned in Paris treaty that this fund will continue.”This fund is functioning very well. NABARD is a member and is able to receive money from it. Smaller projects are being funded. But developed countries don’t seem keen on extending that. There were also discussions on loss and damaged mechanism and they did not go in the right direction,” said Harjeet Singh, Global Lead on Climate Change, Action Aid.Sanjay Vashist, Director, Climate Action Network, South Asia said, “Developed countries want to only take care of mitigation and not adaptation. They do not want to know challenges involved in adaptation. Since the term compensation was dropped from the Paris treaty for loss and damage due to climate change, developed countries do not want to discuss finance issues. But developing countries are fighting hard to keep it on board.”Though no country has put out any official word on scepticism regarding Paris treaty’s future, there is palpable concern that even if Trump does not cancel the Paris agreement, he may push non-implementation. “Theoretically, there is a lock-in period of four years before US is able to pull out of the treaty. Despite the anxiety, countries are not letting it affect the agenda at hand,” added Singh.”The US has committed $3 billion for the Green Climate Fund over the next three years and if Trump decides to not finance it, who will fill the void?, added Vashist.

India won’t achieve anything till women get empowered: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said India will not be able to realise its potential and glory and act as guiding force to the world for peaceful coexistence till its woman power comes forward. “Till India’s ‘matra shakti’ (women power) turns active and comes forward, India will not be able to achieve its potential and pristine glory and act as a guiding force to the world to show it the new path of peaceful coexistence,” he said while speaking at the inauguration of the 3-day training camp of Rashtriya Sevika Samiti, the women wing of RSS. Bhagwat said India through its rich traditions has the potential to act as a guide to the world and that can only be realised when Hindus, including women, unite and get together.The RSS chief added that in this fast-emerging world where science is progressing rapidly, India has the potential to show the world the path to future where there is peace and coexistence without discrimination of any kind.”India has the potential to take the world forward and no other nation,” he said.Bhagwat said while the world order changed from being bipolar to unipolar, America’s supremacy was waning and Russia was again emerging and China was also fighting with the two in this competition to outdo each other, but lamented that no one talks about India as of now. “But India has the potential to emerge. It may not be visible today, but it will emerge,” he said. “India does not just follow tolerance, its rich traditions also follow the principles of acceptance and respect,” he said. He added that while the world is full of conflicts and “fault lines” continue to exist in the fast-emerging world and India has the potential to lead the world and show it the future path. H also called for a world free from conflicts Talking about technological and scientific advances, he said, today the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes have turned defunct and tomorrow a new world may emerge where there could only be financial transactions through electronic or cashless mode. He said a time may come when 90 per cent of the work may be done through instruments of technology. The RSS chief said fanaticism and communalism give rise to conflicts and the world has to realise the goal of peaceful coexistence. PTI SKC

US election: How Donald Trump, like Narendra Modi in 2014, won despite a hostile media

Donald Trump’s electoral victory on Wednesday, making him the 45th President of the United States, has many implications. But the one implication that should be noted in particular is the lesson that it provides to journalists or the media as a whole. This lesson is significant to Indian journalists as well, particularly the political pundits, now that they will be covering the upcoming Assembly elections in important states like Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.

This lesson, however, is not exactly new. It was the takeaway from our last General elections in 2014, that resulted in Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s unprecedented victory. This lesson has now been re-validated by Trump’s ‘against all odds’ victory. In fact, there are many commonalities between Modi’s 2014 victory and Trump’s recent triumph.

The lesson is that the media should observe, report and analyse the polls as dispassionately as possible, and not become an active player in the polls by furthering the causes of a particular candidate (or party) – by demonising his or her rival.

File image of US president-elect Donald Trump. Reuters

This lesson is vitally important for the credibility of the media. Reuters

This lesson is vitally important for the credibility of the media itself, because the candidate it demonises eventually succeeds, as was the case with Trump. But this lesson also has a corollary; the standard tools used by most journalists (and academicians) in explaining such elections need a fine-tuning.

Almost all the major media houses in the United States (including the British magazine the Economist, that sells the most in America) had formally “endorsed” Hillary Clinton through their respective editorial boards. And their reporters had gone to every possible length to demonise Trump.

It has now come to light that a senior CNN analyst had leaked the questions of the Presidential debate to Hillary wee in advance. In fact, another analyst of the same channel cried live on television when Trump overtook Hillary during the vote count.

It is also noteworthy in this context how a well known Indian TV anchor, who was covering the US elections for her channel, had tweeted how “thrilled” she was about Hillary’s impending victory and how she was eager to hear her “D-Day” speech!

Invariably, the mainstream US media highlighted how Hillary had a distinguished service to the country as first lady, as a senator from New York, and as Secretary of State; thereby enforcing that she had “every right to be taken seriously as a White House contender.”

In contrast, the media lambasted Trump, saying that he was not a man of ideas and had no record in public service and no qualifications for the job. In an article published in The Atlantic, it was said that, “ His (Trump) affect is that of an infomercial huckster; he traffics in conspiracy theories and racist invective; he is appallingly sexist; he is erratic, secretive, and xenophobic; he expresses admiration for authoritarian rulers, and evinces authoritarian tendencies himself. He is easily goaded, a poor quality for someone seeking control of America’s nuclear arsenal. He is an enemy of fact-based discourse; he is ignorant of, and indifferent to, the Constitution; he appears not to read.”

In other words, for the mainstream American media, Trump’s major drawback was the fact that he was never a part of the ‘New York-Washington establishment’; he was a complete outsider having no political, electoral or intellectual experience.

The ‘New York-Washington establishment’ comprised seasoned Democrats as well as Republicans, media, think-tanks, bureaucrats and academic elites; much like our “Delhi establishment” that includes many veteran Congress, BJP leaders.

For the American media, Trump was a highly “divisive figure” based on his views on immigrants, Muslims and Women (see the way they tore into Trump for a private comment on women, way back in 2005). And here, Trump’s ‘disqualification’ was compounded by the fact that he was opposed by the top leadership in his own Republican party.

Did we not witness a similar trend in India in 2013 and 2014? No other prime ministerial candidate in India had ever been subjected to such rigorous public and judicial scrutiny as Modi was for his alleged role in the Gujarat riots in 2002.

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

Modi then and Trump now did end up winning, meaning that they fought the odds by evolving a campaigning style that negated conventions. PTI

Modi’s critics within the party, let alone his enemies outside, systematically fed the overwhelming sections of the national media to propagate the theory that Modi was a deeply divisive figure and that he would be a political disaster for the BJP outside Gujarat.

There was a similar vitriolic campaign suggesting that BJP would disintegrate if Modi became the prime ministerial candidate. It was also said that allies in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) would desert if he was chosen.

In fact, certain anti-Modi elements in the BJP did misguide the Janata Dal (United) (one of the BJP’s longstanding allies) leader and now Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, to part ways with the party over Modi, thinking that by so doing his anointment as the prime ministerial candidate of the alliance would be stalled.

But Modi then and Trump now did end up winning, meaning that they fought the odds by evolving a campaigning style that negated conventions. They travelled to every nook and corner of their respective countries. They held massive rallies instead of focusing on door-knocking and get-out-the-vote operations.

Most importantly, they did not seek votes on the basis of people’s identities – they talked of “all”. That would explain why the standard or conventional analysis that Hillary would easily win because of the support of women, blacks, Muslims and Hispanics proved to be so off the mark.

And that also explains why in Modi’s case, the limitations of the often lauded identity politics of caste, creed and region were badly exposed. The results of the 2014 election proved beyond any shadow of doubt that people do not necessarily vote on the basis of caste lines.

In fact, this is the precise reason why the theory that in the forthcoming election in Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati will get all the Dalit votes or the BJP will not get any Muslim votes or all the Yadav votes will go to the ruling Samajwadi party, doesn’t necessarily hold true. Voting behaviours the world over are changing and this needs to be looked at afresh by the analysts, who, in turn, must look beyond the conventional theories.

There is another striking similarity between the 2014 elections in India and the just concluded elections in the United States. That the dominant sections within both the Indian and American intelligentsia, including the media, glorify identity politics. They talk of minorities and groups, and laud the phenomenon as consolidation for their respective rights. If somebody opposes this trend, he or she is branded as communal and racist. Viewed thus, voting for a Modi or a Trump, people at large seem to have rejected this phenomenon and its champions.

Though we all must be proud of our multi-cultural and pluralistic values and cherish them at all cost, you cannot afford to do that by degrading and insulting the majority community and concentrating all the time on the minorities and groups.

And that brings about an important point. Some American journalists seem to be quick learners and have started admitting to their mistakes. Margaret Sullivan, a columnist for The Washington Post, just wrote an article titled, “The media didn’t want to believe Trump could win. So they looked the other way.”

In her piece she said, “To put it bluntly, the media missed the story. In the end, a huge number of American voters wanted something different. And although these voters shouted and screamed it, most journalists just weren’t listening. They didn’t get it. They didn’t get that the huge, enthusiastic crowds at Donald Trump’s rallies would really translate into that many votes. They couldn’t believe that the America they knew could embrace someone who mocked a disabled man, bragged about sexually assaulting women, and spouted misogyny, racism and anti-Semitism.”

Journalists in India should take cues from their American counterparts, particularly those covering the upcoming Assembly elections.

Rs 500, Rs 1,000 banned: Here are few questions answered as banks open today

Firstpostimage

Rs 500, Rs 1,000 notes ban: Modi govt’s demonetisation move will put poor into trouble

They are supposed to be very alike, The Don and NaMo. They both bucked the media and the elite and won big; or so pundits like Shekhar Gupta and Chetan Bhagat and Ram Madhav are telling us on Twitter.

Yet, on the same day, while one was promising that “the forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer,” the other was running the risk of turning parts of his population into the “forgotten people”.

It was amazing to watch BJP spokespersons and besotted TV anchors dismiss the hardships faced by ordinary people at the abrupt and swift withdrawal of big notes from circulation by blithely referring them to credit cards, debit cards, and cheques. As if that is how most Indians live and conduct their financial transactions. As if ours is a cashless society, the whole country has long been demonetised and bank accounts are common to every household.

PM Modi has also conceded that we would face some inconvenience in the beginning and he was sure that we would put up with it for the greater good. PTI

PM Modi has also conceded that we would face some inconvenience in the beginning and he was sure that we would put up with it for the greater good. PTI

On television, smartly-dressed yuppies were full-throatedly welcoming “the historic move” outside ATMs or driving into petrol pumps with their sedans or SUVs. In short, these people are those who are well on the way to arriving. Ordinary people are either clueless or in a tizzy.

Maybe, it’s because I live in Kolkata, in one of the poorer parts of the country, that I can see firsthand the trials being faced by maidservants, drivers, small shopkeepers, construction workers, electricians, plumbers and other independent service providers. Their only option is to request people like me to relieve them of their “riches” to meet their basic needs.

Maybe, that is why the chief minister of West Bengal was one of the first to point out the trouble this would put the poor into. “I want to know from PM,” she tweeted soon after Narendra Modi finished his speech to the nation on Tuesday evening,“How my poorest brothers, sisters, who’ve received their week’s hard earned wage in one 500 re note will buy, ata, chal, tomo?”

Mamata Banerjee, whose political instincts have seldom let her down, has kept up the refrain with tweet after tweet demanding this “heartless and ill-conceived blow on common people and middle class” be stopped immediately. “Please save people from this disaster. Roads are closed, markets shut, patients not being admitted to private hospitals, millions affected.”

One Bengali tweet doing the rounds that Didi cannot lay claim to says, “Why are our businessmen brothers so happy? Since last night? Because they have no black money? And why are we middle-class so apprehensive? Because we have stashes of black money?”

The ruling party is already dismissing all such reservations as politically motivated and mean-spirited. “Politicians are having doubts but ordinary people are having no doubts,” was how Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu responded to reservations brought to his notice by the press.

But even economists are not unanimous whether such moves to “check corruption, black money and fake currency rackets that slow our progress” really work. It’s been tried before and not been that successful but maybe it’ll be better this time round. At least let us hope so.

The prime minister has also conceded that we would face some inconvenience in the beginning and he was sure that we would put up with it for the greater good. Maybe

Maybe the country will grin and bear it but it would do him no harm if his party appeared to be more sympathetic to the common man’s woes instead of the usual chest-thumping that seems to be their reflex response to any act of the government.

Especially since such moves have a tendency of turning on their heads and biting their initiators in the back.

It was only the other day that outsourcing was seen as the answer to all ills that plagued the American economy. American companies would be able to make goods cheaper, hence make greater profits and thereby contribute to the strengthening of the country’s economy. Ditto: free trade. Moves that were mostly put into place when Hillary Clinton was the First Lady of America.

Today, it is the army of aggrieved people “left behind” by these very acts of globalisation that marched to the voting booths and put a man with no experience in governance into power. In their light, those acts of greater good only helped the rich to get richer and left them with nothing.

It took several decades for people in America to come to this realisation and rise in revolt. It may happen quicker in a country like India. Narendra Modi should beware that his moves for the greater good may end up alienating the greater numbers.

‘It’s a rejection of politics as usual’: Shashi Tharoor surprised by Donald Trump’s victory

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Dubbing the election of Donald Trump as the 45th United States President as ‘surprising’, the Congress on Wednesday said it reflected the rejection of politics by the people of America. ‘It’s an amazing result. No one would have expected this a year ago. Even after he became the Republican nominee, the expectation was that Hillary would win. I have stuck my neck out and said in a number of public forums that I was expecting her to win. So, this is quite a surprise,’ Congress leader Shashi Tharoor told ANI. ‘The hostility that they (people) feel has expressed itself on a strong vote for Trump. In many ways, it may be the last stand of white America because demographics will make America progressively less and less white in the years to come. Finally, it is also a rejection of politics as usual. Increasingly, around the world voters are saying we don’t like the way our lives are. Whether from the left or the right, there is a rejection,’ he added. Tharoor said the win is a surprise because Trump is so untypical of even the party which nominated him. ‘The Republican mainstream establishment does not look like Trump, doesn’t behave like Trump, doesn’t speak like Trump. But he has somehow struck a chord with the electorate. Partly, I am afraid it is negativism. He has given expression to fear, to hatred, to racism, to bigotry against foreigners and immigrants and refugees, to xenophobia,’ he added. Tharoor asserted that there is a lot of unpleasant stuff that has come out in the air because of Trump’s campaign and the language of his supporters which now cannot be put back in pandora’s box.’It is out there and we have to live with it. It will certainly affect the perception of America around the world. If we look at the exit polls, Hillary has swept the minority by large margins. Trump has a won a majority of white voters including surprisingly white women. One of the striking things about this is of course he has dominated the non-college educated white blue collared working class vote, which is the section of society that has felt most affected by the recent developments,’ he added.Asserting that there is a sense of uncertainty around the world, the Congress leader said how it all will end up will depend on how things stabilise and what kind of administration Trump brings in.’Will he bring in those kinds of Republicans who work for George Bush who know how to deal with the world or is he going to bring in a cast of characters who are hostile to the world, hostile to globalization’that may create a different world altogether,’ he added.After the media exploded with Trump’s victory, the new U.S. President took to the stage and pledged to begin the ‘urgent task of rebuilding our nation’ while also bringing Americans together.Speaking at his victory party in a New York hotel ballroom, Trump said Democratic rival Hillary Clinton called him to concede the race. I just received a call from Secretary Clinton,’ Mr. Trump said. ‘She congratulated us on our victory, and I congratulated her and her family on a very, very hard-fought campaign,’ Trump said. Trump, who has in the past threatened to punish his critics, said he was seeking to appeal even to those who hadn’t supported him. Trump’s surprising performance at the polls ended Hillary Clinton’s quest to make history as the first female president of the United States. The 70-year-old celebrity businessman who had never before run for office, is poised to become the oldest president ever elected to a first term.

Indian-American hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal organises prayers for Hillary Clinton

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Indian-American hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal on Monday organised a special prayer service in New York seeking blessings for the victory of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on the eve crucial elections. Head Sikh priests from the New York area assembled at his luxurious penthouse apartment in Manhattan early on Monday morning and conducted traditional Sikh prayers.Joined by his wife Daman Chatwal and prominent New Yorkers, Chatwal, who is Chairman of the group Indian-Americans for Democrats and Friends of Hillary for President, led the prayer service. The priests chanted hymns and offered prayers in front of the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs.Invoking the Almighty, the priests in their prayers said that Clinton is a good friend of the Indian-American community and hoped for victory for her in the elections tomorrow that has her in a tight race with Donald Trump. Chatwal said the prayer service aims to garner blessings for Clinton, who will be the deserving leader of America and is a special friend of the Indian-American community.”Whenever we start something good, we take the blessings of the Almighty. Now 24 hours before the election, we organised the prayer for her so that tomorrow she is assured a sure-shot victory,” he said. He said Clinton is a friend of the Indian-Americans, stressing that she is the leader who will grow the economy further and boost jobs.”She will create more employment, more business opportunities for Americans and will offer durable solutions to tackle problems facing the nation,” he said.Noting that America is a land of immigrants, Chatwal said Clinton will bring in strong policies to deal with the issue of immigration.”We did Ardaas for Clinton’s success. We want that that candidate should win who will be the voice of the Sikh community and will work for the betterment of the American people and humanity. We also pray that she creates history and becomes the first woman President of the US,” said Das Gyani Bhupinder Singh, Head Granthi Gurudwara Sikh Cultural Society New York.

American woman caught with live bullet at Delhi airport

Sun, 23 Oct 2016-09:00pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A lady flier from the United States of America has been apprehended at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) in New Delhi for allegedly carrying a live bullet in her baggage.Officials said the incident was reported at about 10:30 pm on October 21 when on-duty CISF officials detected the live bullet of 9mm caliber gun in the lady’s bag, when she was undergoing security check before taking a flight to New York. They said the lady has been identified as M Posey and she was travelling with her husband to the US.”The lady along with her husband were handed over to Delhi Police for further action. Carrying of firearms and bullets in aircraft is prohibited under the Indian aviation laws,” the officials added.

Triple talaq: Will boycott law panel questionnaire on uniform civil code, says Muslim personal law board

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Less than a week after the Law Commission asked if the practice of triple talaq could be abolished and whether a uniform civil code should be optional, the All India Muslim Personal Law (AIMPLB) Board on Thursday announced its boycott of the Law Commission’s questionnaire.Addressing the media, AIMPLB announced its boycott of Law Commission’s proposal saying,”Uniform Civil Code is not good for this nation. There are so many cultures in this nation and those have to be respected.”Stating that they were living in this country with an agreement held by the Constitution which had let them live and practice their religion, an AIMPLB member said,” In America, everyone follows their personal laws and identity, how come our nation doesn’t want to follow their steps in this matter?”The member also said that Muslims equally participated in India’s freedom struggle, but their participation is always underestimated.Amid a raging debate on the uniform civil code, the law panel had on Monday sought public views on the subject to revise and reform family laws, saying the aim is to address social injustice rather than plurality of laws.In an appeal issued, the Commission said the objective behind the endeavour is to address discrimination against vulnerable groups and harmonise the various cultural practices even as it assured the people that the “norms of no one class, group or community will dominate the tone and tenor of family law reforms”.In an accompanying questionnaire, the Commission has asked whether the existing personal laws and customary practices needed codification and whether it would benefit people.Should the practice of triple talaq be abolished, retained or retained with suitable amendments; and whether a uniform civil code should be optional are among 16 queries by the commission.It has also sought to know whether the uniform code should include subjects like divorce, marriage, adoption, child custody, succession and inheritance.(With agency inputs)

India tries to hasten deal to buy Predator drone aircraft amid election uncertainty in US

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India is trying to hasten a deal with the United States to buy Predator drone aircraft for military surveillance, one of several defence and nuclear projects the two sides are pursuing in the final months of the Obama administration.India’s request for 22 Predator Guardian drones made in June is in an advanced stage of negotiations. The two sides hope to make enough progress so only administrative tasks remain by the time President Barack Obama leaves office, government officials in New Delhi said.”It is progressing well. The aim is to complete the main process in the next few months,” said one of the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has built personal ties with President Barack Obama, whose signature foreign policy move has been a strategic pivot to Asia from the Middle East.The United States has dislodged Russia as the top arms supplier to India. New Delhi is also on the cusp of sealing a US nuclear reactor deal worth billions of dollars.In return, Washington has given New Delhi access to high-end military technology, such as a new system to launch planes off aircraft carriers, and leaned on other countries to give India membership in the Missile Technology Control Regime, which cleared the way for the sale of the unarmed Predator.India’s military has also asked for the armed version of the Predator to help target suspected militant camps in Pakistan but US export control laws prohibit such a transfer.US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter, who visited India in April, is expected to make a final trip there towards the end of the year.”The administration is eager to get as much done as is humanly possible. They believe the conditions and the personnel in both capitals are uniquely favorable at the moment, and are eager to consolidate and institutionalize the progress,” said Jeff Smith, director of Asia Security Programs at the American Foreign Policy Council.”AMERICA FIRST”Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s “America First” foreign policy statements have raised questions in India and other Asian nations about a US pullback from Asia.Trump has said US allies, such as Japan and South Korea, should pay more towards their defence. He told the New York Times in an interview in March he could withdraw US troops from bases in Japan, and raised the idea of letting Japan and South Korea develop their own nuclear arsenals.”It is a serious concern, and may lead to Chinese pre-eminence in Asia far sooner than expected,” said Dhruva Jaishankar, a specialist on India-US ties at Brookings India.Manoj Ladwa, a London-based political strategist who served as communications director for Modi’s 2014 campaign, said Trump had sent contradictory messages to India.”On the one hand, he says he values business relations with India, but then mimics Indian call centre workers, and disregards the competitiveness that a partnership with India could provide the US,” he said.”His unpredictability is worrisome in a world that requires steady and mature statesmanship.”

Pope Francis to visit Portugal, India, Bangladesh, Colombia and Africa in 2017

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pope Francis will visit Portugal next year and is “almost sure” he’ll go to India and Bangladesh.Still to be determined is where in Africa he’ll visit and whether Colombia’s peace accord is “certain, certain, certain” enough to enable a papal visit.Francis outlined his 2017 travel plans while flying home from Azerbaijan on Sunday. Complicating his travel schedule is that next year is already full of appointments with visiting bishops whose 2016 visits were put off due to Francis’ Holy Year of Mercy, which ends in November.But Francis confirmed that as of now, he planned a May 13 trip to the famed Marian shrine at Fatima in Portugal.India and Bangladesh were planned as well and an Africa trip was under study. The destination depends on weather conditions, time of year and regional political and conflict situations, he said.Francis had said previously he would visit Colombia if the government and rebels reached a peace accord. Colombians voted yesterday in a referendum to enshrine the accord ending Latin America’s longest-running conflict.Francis said he would go to Colombia “when everything is certain, certain, certain, when they can’t go back, when the international community has agreed that no one can make a (legal) recourse, that it’s finished. If it’s like that, I could go. If it’s unstable? It all depends on what the people say. The people are sovereign.”One place Francis likely won’t be going is China.Relations are “good,” the Vatican Museums just had an exhibit in China and the Chinese were due to open one on the Vatican, he said. China’s president just sent him a gift with a visiting delegation who attended a Vatican conference and there are working groups that are “slowly” discussing relations that were severed under communism.”They’re talking slowly, but slow things are good. Things that move fast aren’t good,” Francis said, adding: “The Chinese people have my highest esteem.”

US, India military relationship is the closest ever: US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India-US military relationship is the “closest it has been ever” and the two countries are exercising together by air, land and sea for the first time, America’s Defence Secretary Ashton Carter has said.He underlined that the two great democracies have done a strategic and technological “handshake”.”America’s regional partnerships are growing in number and strength. The US-India military relationship is the closest it’s ever been. Great nation, large democracy,” Carter in his remarks aboard the USS Carl Vinson in San Diego yesterday.”Through our strategic handshake with America’s reaching west in our re-balance and India reaching east in what Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi calls his Act East Policy, our two nations are exercising together by air, land, and sea.” Never did that before, he noted.”There is also a technological handshake between the United States and India. The US-India Defence Technology and Trade Initiative grasps hands with Prime Minister Modi’s Make in India campaign,helping our countries move toward more diverse defence co-development and co-production of weapons systems,” Carter said.Noting that Asia-Pacific is the most consequential region for America’s future, he said the US is managing “historic change” in the area.

Navtej Singh Sarna appointed as the next Ambassador of India to US

New Delhi: India’s High Commissioner to Britain Navtej Sarna was on Thursday appointed as the next Ambassador to the US as that country prepares for a presidential transition.

“Navtej Singh Sarna (IFS: 1980) has been appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the United State of America,” an External Affairs Ministry statement said.

File image of Navtej Sarna. Twitter/@NavtejSarna

File image of Navtej Sarna. Twitter/@NavtejSarna

“He is expected to take up the assignment shortly,” it added.

He takes charge after Arun Kumar Singh retired last month-end. Both Sarna and Singh are former Indian ambassadors to Israel, underlying the importance of a posting in Tel Aviv which is one of Washington’s closest allies.

Sarna was moved to London as the High Commissioner barely eight months back.

Sarna has had a previous posting in Washington when he was Minister for Press, Information and Culture between 1998 and 2002.

Before moving to London, Sarna was Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs where he oversaw the successful hosting last October of the India-Africa Forum Summit that was attended by a record number of 53 African countries.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was personally very happy with the organisation of the Summit and had congratulated External Affairs Sushma Swaraj for it.

It is clear Modi wanted someone in Washington he was confident would be able to steer the multi-faceted India-US relations into a new phase with a new administration.

Sarna was among the longest-serving spokespersons of the ministry between 2002 and 2008. He has also had postings in Moscow, Warsaw, Tehran, Geneva and Thimphu.

Sarna is also a prolific author of many fiction and non-fiction books, the most recent being Second Thoughts: On Books, Authors and the Writerly Life that was released last year. He was a big hit in London’s literary circles and had also become, in a short span, a popular figure in the Indian community in the Britain.

Rajnath Singh to visit US September-end for security dialogue

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Enhancing anti-terror cooperation, sharing intelligence inputs and offering easy travel to each other’s citizens would be high on the agenda during the visit of Home Minister Rajnath Singh to the US next month.Singh will lead the Indian delegation at the Indo-US Homeland Security Dialogue to be held in Washington in September-end with the US team to be headed by Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Charles Johnson. The new dates have been fixed after the bilateral dialogue was postponed last month as Parliament was in session and the Home Minister was busy with the proceedings, official sources said.Further cementing anti-terror cooperation, real-time sharing of intelligence inputs, cyber security and critical infrastructure protection, countering illicit finance, global supply chain security, megacity policing and science and technology are some of the other key issues to be discussed at the strategic meeting.This senior-level exchange between India and the US will reinforce the strategic homeland security partnership and enhance operational cooperation in investigations, capacity building, and countering threats, sources said. Upcoming law enforcement engagement proposals include sharing lessons learned and best practices in police training and responding to mass casualty exercises, improving both nations’ capabilities to respond to terrorist incidents and natural disasters.Besides, there will be discussions on two key recently- signed agreements — Global Entry, a US Customs and Border Protection programme that permits speedy clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travellers upon arrival in America; and the Homeland Security Presidential Directive-6 (HSPD-6), which allows access to information on terrorists.The US has been pressing for India’s inclusion in the Global Entry so that high dignitaries like former presidents, former prime ministers, former Union ministers, film stars, top industrialists and frequent flyers could visit America without any hassle.There will be extensive discussion on the Global Entry during the dialogue, the sources said. Initially, the names of around 2,000 prominent Indians could figure in the coveted list, which would be expanded gradually after proper background checks of each individual. Incidents like brief detention of Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan recently at the Los Angeles airport would be avoided when the Global Entry will be implemented.

Nine killed in medical store fire in Mumbai

Photos: 1 of 6

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Four Indian Americans honoured with prestigious Great Immigrants Award

Indian-origin Google CEO Sunder Pichai and three other Indian-Americans are among the 42 US nationals honoured with this year’s prestigious ‘Great Immigrants: The Pride of America’ award.The other three Indian-Americans are Hari Sreenivasan, anchor and senior correspondent, PBS NewsHour, Vikram Malhotra, Chairman of the Americas at McKinsey & Company and Bharati Mukherjee, National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The annual award of the Carnegie Corporation would be presented to them at an event in New York on June 30, said a June 28 statement. For 2016, the Corporation named 42 honourees, who represent some 30 different countries of origin, a wide range of personal immigration stories, and inspiring professional accomplishments.”These accomplished Americans are immigrants like our forefathers, who founded this nation of nations,” said Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York. “They are representative of the millions of immigrants who have come to the United States for economic opportunity, education, political or religious asylum, security, or reunification with families and relatives. They, like all Americans, share a common faith in this country,” he said.Pakistani American Shaiza Rizavi, Partner, Gilder, Gagnon, Howe & Co is also among the list of awardees.

Messi retires from internationals after Chile retain Copa | Reuters

EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey Lionel Messi blasted a penalty over the bar in what looks like being his last act in international football as Chile beat Argentina in a shootout to win the Copa America for the second year in a row on Sunday.

Messi cut a dejected figure after losing his third Copa America final, and fourth major final after Argentina’s loss to Germany at the 2014 World Cup, and said after the match he was retiring from the international game.

“In the dressing room I thought that this is the end for me with the national team, it’s not for me,” the 29-year-old forward said.

“I tried so hard to be champion with Argentina. Now I am leaving without having managed it.”

Striker Sergio Aguero, a second half substitute for Gonzalo Higuain, suggested he and other players might follow Messi‘s lead and quit the team.

“The likelihood is that Messi is not the only one that will leave the national team,” Aguero, who lost his third final with Argentina, told Argentine sports newspaper Ole.

“There are several players like me that are evaluating whether or not to continue,” said Aguero, who was hugely disappointed after Argentina failed to end their 23-year trophy drought at senior level.

“Unfortunately, the one that leaves most affected is Leo Messi after his penalty miss. This is the worst that I’ve seen him in the changing room,” said Aguero, who along with Messi won an Olympic gold medal in 2008.

BEST PLAYER

Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, who saved Lucas Biglia’s penalty before Francisco Silva scored the crucial spot-kick to help his country retain the trophy, had praise for his Barcelona team mate Messi.

“In my opinion, he is the best player in the world and in history,” Bravo told Marca. “They have to enjoy him, value him and understand him.”

The two sides were deadlocked 0-0 after 90 minutes and also after another half an hour of extra time in a match where both teams were reduced to 10 men in the first half.

For the second year in a row, therefore, the teams faced off in a shootout to decide who would take the biggest prize in South American soccer.

It started well for Argentina when their goalkeeper Sergio Romero got down to block Arturo Vidal’s opening penalty but Messi blasted over and Lucas Biglia’s spot kick was saved by Bravo.

Substitute Francisco Silva took Chile’s fifth penalty and struck it low and to the right of Romero to give his country their second successive title after winning their first on home soil last year.

“We’re going to enjoy ourselves,” Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi said, before talking of his pride in his players.

“Before them today was the number one team in the world, with the best players in the world and the best player in history.”

DISAPPOINTING FINAL

The tension of the penalty shootout barely made up for a disappointing game with few memorable moments for a sellout 82,000 crowd.

The bulk of first half action involved referee Heber Lopes, who sent off Chile’s Marcelo Diaz on 27 minutes for a second crude challenge on Messi, before Argentina’s Marcos Rojo was given a straight red for a rough tackle on Vidal about 15 minutes later.

Three others were booked, including Messi for diving, in a first half that had as many cards as shots on goal and in which Higuain missed a good chance for Argentina.

The second half provided more of the same and although Chile, who have yet to beat Argentina in open play in 27 Copa America encounters spanning 100 years, at least managed to call Romero into action, neither side created any clear cut chances.

The 30 minutes of extra time was not much different, although Vargas came close for Chile and Aguero had a header brilliantly tipped over by Bravo.

Five-times World Player of the Year Messi, who surpassed Gabriel Batistuta as Argentina’s top scorer in the semi-final against the United States, was heavily marked and had few chances to show his brilliance.

“It’s not easy to explain,” said Argentina coach Gerardo Martino.

“Argentina should have won that game. It hurts. There are situations we can explain football-wise and other situations that can be explained, if you will, talking about our luck.”

The world’s oldest international tournament was played in the U.S. for the first time to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the inaugural competition and expanded to include six teams from North and Central America and the Caribbean along with the 10 from South America.

(Additional reporting by Adriana Garcia; Writing by Andrew Downie, Nick Mulvenney and Rex Gowar; Editing by Andrew Both/Greg Stutchbury/Amlan Chakraborty/Clare Lovell)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Preview: Messi primed to end Argentina drought in Copa final | Reuters

Chile face Argentina in Sunday’s Copa America final for the right to call themselves South America’s dominant team but perhaps an even bigger question for football fans the world over regards whether Lionel Messi can finally win a major international title.

The Barcelona forward has won every trophy possible with the Spanish club but he has lost three finals with Argentina, including in 2014 World Cup Final in 2014 and the Copa America last year.

Sunday’s game against Chile in New Jersey gives Messi a chance to end both his personal hoodoo and that of Argentina, who have not won a major title since lifting the Copa America in Ecuador in 1993.

“Getting to three finals in a row is impressive,” said Messi, whose first decider was a 3-0 loss to Brazil in the 2007 Copa America. “I hope we can win the Cup that we so desire.”

Argentina lost to Chile on penalties in the final last year and Messi said the squad were better prepared this time around.

“You learn all the time,” said Messi, who turned 29 on Friday.

“We have been working together for another year, we are stronger as a group and we’ve really grown in a lot of ways.”

The five-times world player of the year has been outstanding at the Centenary Copa America, even though he played the first three games as a substitute after injuring his back in a warm-up game.

His sublime free kick in the 4-0 win over the United States took him on to 55 goals and above Gabriel Batistuta as Argentina’s all-time leading goalscorer.

Messi called the performance against the U.S. “perfect” and he will not have forgotten that Argentina beat Chile 2-1 in their opening match on June 6.

RED HOT CHILE

However, the Chileans have improved since, beating Bolivia and Panama before hammering Mexico 7-0 in what was undoubtedly the performance of the tournament.

Coach Juan Antonio Pizzi, who replaced Jorge Sampaoli in January, is now settled in the job and he has Chile playing the same high-paced pressing and super-fast counter attacks that make them such an exciting team to watch.

“This team has created an identity,” the Argentine-born Pizzi said after the semi-final.

“It’s a group of winners, I can see that just talking with them. That’s not because they win games because we don’t win every time but in their heads they are convinced they are going to win. That mentality allows them to grow stronger and gives them the confidence to keep going.”

Chile will have the dynamic Artur Vidal back after suspension and Pizzi hopes central midfielder Marcelo Diaz will recover from the muscle injury that kept him out the 2-0 win over Colombia in the semi-final.

They are on a high and confident that they will do the double over their neighbours.

But they will not have their home fans behind them this time and there is one other detail. The last time Messi played at the MetLife stadium was also in June and also against a South American side.

Argentina beat Brazil 4-3 in a friendly in 2012. Messi scored a hat-trick.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Changes in FDI policy in defence big threat to national security: Former Defence Minister Antony

Reacting sharply to the “sweeping” changes in the FDI policy in defence after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s US visit, Congress on Monday demanded its withdrawal alleging it posed a “big threat” to national security and India’s independent foreign policy.”Allowing 100 per cent FDI in defence sector means India’s defence sector is thrown mostly into the hands of Nato- American defence manufacturers,” senior party leader and former Defence Minister AK Antony said in a strongly-worded statement. Noting that it is immediately after Prime Minister’s US visit the government has brought “sweeping” changes in the FDI policy, he alleged it posed a “big threat” to national security and India’s independent foreign policy. “Naturally it will affect the India’s independent foreign policy too. It will also threaten the national security.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Moreover, it will have an adverse impact on the ongoing indigenous defence research activities in the country,” he said. It is “very important” to note that all such changes happen immediately after Modi’s recent American visit.Turning to the joint statement issued by Modi and US President Barack Obama, he claimed it resembles like India has become a “security partner of America”. Noting that the statement says that both India and America will work together as equal partner for peace and security of Asia-pacific region, he said the announcement in the joint statement about the cooperation between India and America to ensure the security of Gulf and West Asia will also create “very serious problems”.Insisting that after the joint statement, the cooperation between India and US in defence sector is changed from a “friendly nature to a partnership”, he said it will naturally affect India’s relations with its natural friendly countries. “I strongly condemn this move. It is against the interest of the country and its people. I also urge Modi government to withdraw the decisions affecting national interest,” he added.

Hindu Sena to celebrate ‘saviour’ Donald Trump’s birthday tomorrow

After holding a havan to pray for the presumptive Republican nominee’s victory in the US elections, the right-wing group Hindu Sena will celebrate Donald Trump’s birthday in a grand fashion on Tuesday at the Jantar Mantar in the national capital.A colourful open invite sporting the face of Trump surrounded by balloons, said “join us and let’s celebrate the birthday of the saviour of humanity, the Republican Presidential Nominee of the United States of America.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Speaking to ANI, Hindu Sena National President Vishnu Gupta said that a special seven kilo cake and a grand orchestra had been arranged for the event.”We are celebrating his special day, despite the recent tragedy in Orlando because, he is taking a stand against Islamic terror and that is very important to India, as we have been plagued from this kind of terrorism. Only one man can save us all from this epidemic and that is him. I pray that he wins with heavy majority and fulfils his promise of wiping Islamic terror off the face of the earth,” Gupta said.Last month, the Hindu Sena held prayers for Trump’s victory in the Presidential race, as a priest chanted hymns and members of the group made offerings to fire, holding posters of the Republican presidential candidate, with “We love Trump” written in bold letters.Trump has won both supporters and detractors for his blunt talk and hardline proposals, including a proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States. The billionaire real estate developer has positioned himself as the answer to growing Islamic radicalism across the world.

dna Afternoon Must Reads: Rio 2016 – Bopanna paired with Paes; Rajya Sabha polls; and more

1. Indian government is going to be America’s ‘great ally’, we have better security cooperation: Speaker Paul RyanSpeaker of the US House of Representatives Paul Ryan said that US-India have great potential for future under Modi’s leadership. Read more here<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. Rio 2016: AITA overrules Bopanna’s decision, pairs him up with LeanderAll Indian Tennis Association (AITA), by announcing Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna as men’s doubles pair for Rio Olympics, put paid to Bopanna’s plan of selecting Saketh Myneni as his doubles partner. Read more here3. Live Updates: High stakes for BJP, Congress; voting underway for 27 seats of Rajya SabhaVoting for Rajya Sabha polls is underway: Follow live update here.4. Slash ticket cancellation charges, baggage fees: Aviation Ministry proposes passenger-centric measuresAir passengers will soon have a reason to smile with the government on Saturday proposing a cap on ticket cancellation charges, increased compensation for denied boarding and steep reduction in excess baggage fee levied by airlines. Read more here5. Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan is hands down a badass holidayer!After the graduation scene got over, star kids of Bollywood are enjoying their time away from education and serious life. Aryan Khan is no exception. Read more here

Modi in US: Full text of PM Modi’s speech in US Congress

Here’s the full text of PM Modi’s speech in US Congress: Mr. Speaker,Mr. Vice President,Distinguished Members of the U.S. CongressLadies and Gentlemen.I am deeply honoured by the invitation to address this Joint Meeting of the U.S. Congress. Thank you, Mr. Speaker for opening the doors of this magnificent Capitol. This temple of democracy has encouraged and empowered other democracies the world over. It manifests the spirit of this great nation, which in Abraham Lincoln’s words, “was conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In granting me this opportunity, you have honoured the world’s largest democracy and its 1.25 billion people. As a representative of world’s largest democracy, it is indeed a privilege to speak to the leaders of its oldest.Mr. Speaker,Two days ago, I began my visit by going to the Arlington National Cemetery -the final resting place of many brave soldiers of this great land. I honoured their courage and sacrifice for the ideals of freedom and democracy.It was also the seventy-second Anniversary of the D-Day. On that day, thousands from this great country fought to protect the torch of liberty on the remote shores of a land that they did not know. They sacrificed their lives so that the world lives in freedom. I applaud …India applauds, the great sacrifices of the men and women from ‘The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave’ in service of mankind.India knows what this means because our soldiers too have fallen in distant battlefields for the same ideals. That is why the threads of freedom and liberty form a strong bond between our two democracies.Mr. Speaker, Our nations may have been shaped by differing histories, cultures, and faiths. Yet, our belief in democracy for our nations and liberty for our countrymen is common. The idea that all citizens are created equal is a central pillar of the American constitution.Our founding fathers too shared the same belief and sought individual liberty for every citizen of India. There were many who doubted India when, as a newly independent nation, we reposed our faith in democracy.Indeed, wagers were made on our failure. But, the people of India did not waver. Our founders created a modern nation with freedom, democracy, and equality as the essence of its soul. And, in doing so, they ensured that we continued to celebrate our age old diversity.Today, across its streets and institutions, in its villages and cities, anchored in equal respect for all faiths; and in the melody of hundreds of its languages and dialects. India lives as one; India grows as one; India celebrates as one.Mr. Speaker, Modern India is in its 70th year. For my government, the Constitution is its real holy book. And, in that holy book, freedom of faith, speech and franchise, and equality of all citizens, regardless of background, are enshrined as fundamental rights.800 million of my countrymen may exercise the freedom of franchise once every five years. But, all the 1.25 billion of our citizens have freedom from fear, a freedom they exercise every moment of their lives.Distinguished Members,Engagement between our democracies has been visible in the manner in which our thinkers impacted one another, and shaped the course of our societies. Thoreau’s idea of civil disobedience influenced our political thoughts.And, similarly the call by the great sage of India Swami Vivekananda to embrace humanity was most famously delivered in Chicago.Gandhi’s non-violence inspired the heroism of Martin Luther King. Today, a mere distance of 3 miles separates the Martin Luther King memorial at Tidal Basin from the statue of Gandhi at Massachusetts Avenue. This proximity of their memorials in Washington mirrors the closeness of ideals and values they believed in. The genius of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was nurtured in the years he spent at the Columbia University a century ago.The impact of the U.S. constitution on him was reflected in his drafting of the Indian constitution some three decades later. Our independence was ignited by the same idealism that fuelled your struggle for freedom.No wonder then that former Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee called India and the U.S. ‘natural allies’. No wonder that the shared ideals and common philosophy of freedom shaped the bedrock of our ties. No wonder then, that President Obama has called our ties the defining partnership of the 21st century.Mr. Speaker,More than fifteen years ago, Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee stood here and gave a call to step out of the ‘shadow of hesitation’ of the past. The pages of our friendship since then tell a remarkable story. Today, our relationship has overcome the hesitations of history.Comfort, candour and convergence define our conversations. Through the cycle of elections and transitions of Administrations the intensity of our engagements has only grown. And, in this exciting journey, the U.S. Congress has acted as its compass. You helped us turn barriers into bridges of partnership. In the fall of 2008, when the Congress passed the India-U.S. Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, it changed the very colours of leaves of our relationship. We thank you for being there when the partnership needed you the most.You have also stood by us in times of sorrow. India will never forget the solidarity shown by the U.S. Congress when terrorists from across our border attacked Mumbai in November of 2008.And for this, we are grateful.Mr. Speaker,I am informed that the working of the U.S. Congress is harmonious. I am also told that you are well-known for your bipartisanship. Well, you are not alone. Time and again, I have also witnessed a similar spirit in the Indian Parliament, especially in our Upper House.So, as you can see, we have many shared practices.Mr. Speaker,As this country knows well, every journey has its pioneers. Very early on, they shaped a development partnership even when the meeting ground was more limited. The genius of Norman Borlaug brought the Green Revolution and food security to India.The excellence of the American Universities nurtured Institutes of Technology and Management in India. And, I could go on. Fast forward to today. The embrace of our partnership extends to the entirety of human endeavour-from the depths of the oceans to the vastness of the space.Our S&T collaboration continues to helps us in cracking the age-old problems in the fields of public health, education, food, and agriculture. Ties of commerce and investment are flourishing. We trade more with the U.S. than with any other nation. And, the flow of goods, services and capital between us generates jobs in both our societies.As in trade, so in defence. India exercises with the United States more than we do with any other partner. Defence purchases have moved from almost zero to ten billion dollars in less than a decade. Our cooperation also secures our cities and citizens from terrorists, and protects our critical infrastructure from cyber threats.Civil Nuclear Cooperation, as I told President Obama yesterday, is a reality. Mr. Speaker,Our people to people links are strong; and there is close cultural connect between our societies. SIRI tells us that India’s ancient heritage of Yoga has over 30 million practitioners in the U.S. It is estimated that more Americans bend for yoga than to throw a curve ball. And, no Mr. Speaker, we have not yet claimed intellectual property right on Yoga.Connecting our two nations is also a unique and dynamic bridge of three million Indian Americans. Today, they are among your best CEOs; academics; astronauts; scientists; economists; doctors; even spelling bee champions. They are your strength. They are also the pride of India. They symbolize the best of both our societies.Mr. Speaker,My understanding of your great country began long before I entered public office. Long before assuming office, I travelled coast to coast, covering more than 25 States of America. I realized then that the real strength of the U.S. was in the dreams of its people and the boldness of their ambitions.Today, Mr. Speaker, a similar spirit animates India. Our 800 million youth, especially, are particularly impatient. India is undergoing a profound social and economic change. A billion of its citizens are already politically empowered. My dream is to economically empower them through many social and economic transformations.And, do so by 2022, the seventy-fifth anniversary of India’s independence. My to-do list is long and ambitious. But you will understand. It includes:· A vibrant rural economy with robust farm sector;· A roof over each head and electricity to all households;· To skill millions of our youth;· Build 100 smart cities;· Have a broad band for a billion, and connect our villages to the digital world;· And create a twenty-first century rail, road and port infrastructure.These are not just aspirations; they are goals to be reached in a finite time-frame. And, to be achieved with a light carbon foot print, with greater emphasis on renewables.Mr. Speaker,In every sector of India’s forward march, I see the U.S. as an indispensable partner. Many of you also believe that a stronger and prosperous India is in America’s strategic interest. Let us work together to convert shared ideals into practical cooperation. There can be no doubt that in advancing this relationship, both nations stand to gain in great measure.As the U.S. businesses search for new areas of economic growth, markets for their goods, a pool of skilled resources, and global locations to produce and manufacture, India could be their ideal partner. India’s strong economy, and growth rate of 7.6% per annum, is creating new opportunities for our mutual prosperity.Transformative American technologies in India and growing investment by Indian companies in the United States both have a positive impact on the lives of our citizens. Today, for their global research and development centres, India is the destination of choice for the U.S. companies.Looking eastward from India, across the Pacific, the innovation strength of our two countries comes together in California. Here, the innovative genius of America and India’s intellectual creativity are working to shape new industries of the future.Mr. Speaker,The 21st century has brought with it great opportunities. But, it also comes with its own set of challenges. Inter-dependence is increasing. But, while some parts of the world are islands of growing economic prosperity; other are mired in conflicts. In Asia, the absence of an agreed security architecture creates uncertainty. Threats of terror are expanding, and new challenges are emerging in cyber and outer-space.And, global institutions conceived in 20th century, seem unable to cope with new challenges or take on new responsibilities.In this world full of multiple transitions and economic opportunities; growing uncertainties and political complexities; existing threats and new challenges; our engagement can make a difference by promoting:· Cooperation not dominance; Connectivity not isolation;· Respect for Global Commons;· inclusive not exclusive mechanisms; and above all· adherence to international rules and norms.India is already assuming her responsibilities in securing the Indian Ocean region. A strong India-U.S. partnership can anchor peace, prosperity and stability from Asia to Africa and from Indian Ocean to the Pacific.It can also help ensure security of the sea lanes of commerce and freedom of navigation on seas. But, the effectiveness of our cooperation would increase if international institutions framed with the mindset of the 20th century were to reflect the realities of today.Mr. Speaker,Before arriving in Washington D.C., I had visited Herat in Western Afghanistan to inaugurate Afghan-India Friendship Dam, a 42 MW hydro-electric project built with Indian assistance. I was also there on the Christmas day last year to dedicate to that proud nation its Parliament, a testimony to our democratic ties. Afghans naturally recognize that the sacrifices of American have helped create a better life. But, your contribution in keeping the region safe and secure is deeply appreciated even beyond. India too has made an enormous contribution and sacrifices to support our friendship with Afghan people.A commitment to rebuild a peaceful, and stable and prosperous Afghanistan our shared objective. Yet, Distinguished Members, not just in Afghanistan, but elsewhere in South Asia, and globally, terrorism remains the biggest threat.In the territory stretching from West of India’s border to Africa, it may go by different names, from Laskhar-e-Taiba, to Taliban to ISIS. But, it’s philosophy is common: of hate, murder and violence.Although it’s shadow is spreading across the world, it is incubated in India’s neighbourhood. I commend the members of the U.S. Congress for sending a clear message to those who preach and practice terrorism for political gains. Refusing to reward them is the first step towards holding them accountable for their actions. The fight against terrorism has to be fought at many levels. And, the traditional tools of military, intelligence or diplomacy alone would not be able to win this fight.Mr. Speaker,We have both lost civilians and soldiers in combating it. The need of the hour is for us to deepen our security cooperation. And, base it on a policy:· that isolates those who harbour, support and sponsor terrorists;· that does not distinguish between “good” and “bad” terrorists; and that delinks religion from terrorism.Also, for us to succeed, those who believe in humanity must come together to fight for it as one, and speak against this menace in one voice. Terrorism must be delegitimized.Mr. Speaker,The benefits of our partnership extend not just to the nations and regions that need it most.On our own, and by combining our capacities, we are also responding to other global challenges including when disaster strikes and where humanitarian relief is needed. Far from our shores, we evacuated thousands from Yemen, Indians, Americans and others.Nearer home, we were the first responders during Nepal’s earthquake, in the Maldives water crisis and most recently during landslide in Sri Lanka. We are also one of the largest contributors of troops to UN Peace Keeping Operations.Often, India and the U.S. have combined their strengths in science, technology and innovation to help fight hunger, poverty, diseases and illiteracy in different parts of the world.The success of our partnership is also opening up new opportunities for learning, security and development from Asia to Africa.And, the protection of environment and caring for the planet is central to our shared vision of a just world.For us in India, to live in harmony with mother earth is part of our ancient belief. And, to take from nature only what is most essential is part of our civilizational ethos. Our partnership, therefore, aims to balance responsibilities with capabilities. And, it also focuses on new ways to increase the availability and use of renewable energy.A strong U.S. support for our initiative to form an International Solar Alliance is one such effort. We are working together not just for a better future for ourselves, but for the whole world. This has also been the goal of our efforts in G-20, East Asia Summit and Climate Change summits.Mr. Speaker and Distinguished MembersAs we deepen our partnership, there would be times when we would have differing perspectives. But, since our interests and concerns converge, the autonomy in decision making and diversity in our perspectives can only add value to our partnership. So, as we embark on a new journey, and seek new goals, let us focus not just on matters routine but transformational ideas.Ideas which can focus:· Not just on creating wealth but also creating value for our societies;· Not just on immediate gains but also long term benefits;· Not just on sharing best practices but also shaping partnerships; and· Not just on building a bright future for our peoples, but in being a bridge to a more united, humane and prosperous world.And, important for the success of this journey would be a need to view it with new eyes and new sensitivities.When we do this, we will realise the full promise of this extraordinary relationship.Mr. Speaker,My final thoughts and words would reiterate that our relationship is primed for a momentous future. The constraints of the past are behind us and foundations of the future are firmly in place.In the lines of Walt Whitman, “The Orchestra have sufficiently tuned their instruments, the baton has given the signal. And to that, if I might add, there is a new symphony in play. Thank you Mr. Speaker and Distinguished members for this honour.Thank you very much.

Don’t malign India from abroad: Shiv Sena to PM Modi on graft remarks

Key BJP ally Shiv Sena on Tuesday chided Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his recent remarks on corruption in India and asked him to refrain from “maligning” the country from foreign soil.Taunting Modi in yet another attack on the prime minister, the Sena also questioned if scams in BJP-ruled states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat can be attributed to the Gandhi family. Vowing to root out corruption in India, the prime minister had on Sunday said in Doha on the second leg of his five-nation visit that he “faced problems” by depriving many people of their “sweets” and saved over Rs 36,000 crore annually by stopping leakage and theft in government schemes.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The Prime Minister garnered applause for speaking on how corrupt India is. This is like maligning the reputation of the country on foreign soil,” the editorial said. The Sena also took another swipe at Modi wondering who could be blamed if people are talking about corruption two years after the new government came to power. “Whom do we blame for it? Can we attribute what is happening in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat to the Gandhi family?” the editorial asked.”Since Modi is the face of the nation, other countries might believe what he speaks and take decisions based on that which might affect the financial condition of India. Jibes at opposition should be taken within the country itself. One does not need to go to America or Europe to take potshots at Modi or the Gandhi family,” it added.The Sena said levelling corruption charges against Robert Vadra and Gandhi family was enough and it is now time to take action against them if they have indulged in wrongdoings. “(Former Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister) Ajit Pawar had recently said he lost power because he lost control of his tongue. This should become a political mantra,” the Sena said.

Modi terms India ‘new engine of growth’; USIBC sees $45 bn investment

Washington: Observing that the world needs a new engine of growth, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said India is poised to contribute as the new engine of global growth and asserted that a larger Indian economy has “multiple benefits” for the world.

“This is the time when the world needs new engine of growth. It would be nice if the new engines are democratic engines,” Modi said in his address to the American business community at the annual gala of the US India Business Council (USIBC).

File photo of PM Modi during a visit to the US. PTIFile photo of PM Modi during a visit to the US. PTI

File photo of PM Modi during a visit to the US. PTI

“Today India is poised to contribute as a new engine of global growth. A larger Indian economy has multiple benefits for the world,” the Prime Minister said as he listed out the achievements of his government in economic reforms and liberalisation of policies.

As a result, India has now emerged as the one of the fastest growing economies of the world and urged the American businesses to come and invest in India, set up efficient manufacturing units.

“India is much more than a market,” he said, adding that it is a “reliable partner”, as he listed out the key features of a resurgent Indian economy that is geared to become “driver of global economy”.

The Prime Minister said that a larger Indian economy has multiple benefits for the world.

The Prime Minister said as India marches ahead on the path of development, it needs to learn from the America experience, in particular its entrepreneurship, technological advancement and products which ranges from drugs to drones.

“Indeed, to me America is not just has a great past, but it is a country with an exciting future,” the Prime Minister said.

Modi exuded confidence that Indo-US partnership would benefit both the countries.

Modi said his government has taken decisive steps to curb corruption.

“We would continue to have disciplined and prudent macroeconomic policies,” he told the US corporate leadership.

“We would continue to improve the investment climate and ease of doing business,” the Prime Minister said, adding his government wants to make India a destination which not only welcomes businesses but also it is easier to do business.

Modi urged developed countries to open their market.

“We see this as a win-win situation,” he said.

He assured the US corporate world to make its taxation system transparent.

India, he said would continue to open up the defence sector.

“We are exploring a simpler and transparent licensing system. The purchase of six nuclear reactors from Westinghouse which would mark a new era in the field nuclear energy in India,” the PM said.

Clean Ganga campaign is on the verge of taking off. It is a high priority of the Modi government, he said, adding that his aim is to restore Ganga to its pristine glory.

“We have begun our journey to transform India,” he said, adding that this would transform the world and other countries also.

Earlier, Vikas Swarup, spokes person of the ministry of external affairs, tweeted that USIBC has indicated that its members are on track to invest $45 billion more in India.

A statement tweeted by Swarup cited USIBC chairman John Chambers as saying that 20 percent of its members have invested $28 billion in India in less than two years.

Over the next 2-3 years, this momentum is likely to increase as 20 percent more members are likely to make investments in the country, he said. This, he says, means that the investment will be an additional $45 billion, which is a conservative estimate.

“Given Prime Minister Modi’s tracj recors towards implementing Digital India and key economic reforms, we are optimistic that this number will be dramatically exceeded, perhaps even doubled,” Chambers was quoted as saying in the tweeted statement.

With PTI

India set to contribute as new engine of global growth: PM Modi at US India Business Council

Observing that the world needs a new engine of growth, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said India is poised to contribute as the new engine of global growth and asserted that a larger Indian economy has “multiple benefits” for the world.”This is the time when the world needs new engine of growth. It would be nice if the new engines are democratic engines,” Modi said in his address to the American business community at the annual gala of the US India Business Council (USIBC).<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Today India is poised to contribute as a new engine of global growth. A larger Indian economy has multiple benefits for the world,” the Prime Minister said as he listed out the achievements of his government in economic reforms and liberalization of policies.As a result, India has now emerged as the one of the fastest growing economies of the world and urged the American businesses to come and invest in India, set up efficient manufacturing units.”India is much more than a market,” he said, adding that it is a “reliable partner”, as he listed out the key features of a resurgent Indian economy that is geared to become “driver of global economy”.The Prime Minister said that a larger Indian economy has multiple benefits for the world.The Prime Minister said as India marches ahead on the path of development, it needs to learn from the America experience, in particular its entrepreneurship, technological advancement and products which ranges from drugs to drones.”Indeed, to me America is not just has a great past, but it is a country with an exciting future,” the Prime Minister said.Modi exuded confidence that Indo-US partnership would benefit both the countries.Modi said his government has taken decisive steps to curb corruption.”We would continue to have disciplined and prudent macroeconomic policies,” he told the US corporate leadership.

India should open talks with Pakistan and China to push for NSG’s membership: NYT

India should meet the Nuclear Suppliers Group’s standards and open talks with Pakistan and China on curbing nuclear weapons if it wants to push its case for membership in the 48-nation elite group, a leading US daily said on Sunday.In a lead editorial ‘The New York Times’ said that America should press for India to adhere to the standards on nuclear proliferation to which other nuclear weapons states adhere.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India’s application for Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is slated for discussion later this month.”Obama is lobbying for India to win membership through a special exception,” ‘The Times’ editorial board said, ahead of the US visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who will meet with US President Barack Obama at the White House on Tuesday.”If he succeeds, India would be in a position to keep Pakistan, which has also applied for membership, from gaining membership because group decisions must be unanimous,” the editorial said, adding that this could give Pakistan, which at one time provided nuclear technology to North Korea and Iran, new incentives to misbehave.Opposition from China, which is close to Pakistan and views India as a rival, could doom India’s bid for now, it said, adding that the issue, however, will not go away.India is growing in importance and seeking greater integration into organisations that govern international affairs, it said.”If it wants recognition as a nuclear weapons state, it should be required to meet the nuclear group’s standards, including opening negotiations with Pakistan and China on curbing nuclear weapons and halting the production of nuclear fuel for bombs,” the editorial said.The report alleged that for years the US had sought to bend the rules for India’s nuclear programme to maintain India’s cooperation on trade and to counter China’s growing influence.”As part of the 2008 deal, the Indians promised they would be ‘ready to assume the same responsibilities and practices’ as other nations with advanced nuclear technology.”But they have fallen far short by continuing to produce fissile material and to expand their nuclear arsenal,” alleged the editorial board of the newspaper.The NSG governs trade in nuclear-related exports and aims to ensure that civilian trade in nuclear materials is not diverted for military uses.

India-US sign key pact on sharing information on terror

India and the US on Thursday signed a key pact for exchange of intelligence on terror on a real time basis that include biographic information of known and suspected terrorists.An arrangement between the authorised Indian governmental agencies and the government of the United States of America for exchange of terrorist screening information was signed by Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi and US Ambassador to India Richard Verma.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As per this pact, India and the US will provide each other access to terrorism screening information through the designated contact points, subject to domestic laws and regulations, an official spokesperson said.The agreement would enhance the counter terrorism cooperation between India and the US. With signing of the key pact, India has formally entered into the US Homeland Security Presidential Directive-6 (HSPD-6), which will enable it to access ‘unclassified biographic information of known and suspected terrorists’ maintained by the US on a reciprocal basis.The HSPD-6 is a model text agreement for exchange of terrorist screening information between Terrorist Screening Centre (TSC) of the US and an Indian agency. There have been several rounds of discussions between the interlocutors of the two countries in the past one year and both sides have narrowed down their differences on several key issues with the aim of signing the pact. The US has already finalised such agreements with 30 countries.TSC is a multi agency organisation administered by FBI which consolidates several terrorist watch lists maintained by different US government agencies into single terrorist database on terror suspects. The database includes the name of the terror suspect, nationality, date of birth, photos, finger prints (if any) and passport number.Officials said, initially some Indian security agencies had expressed their reservations saying the arrangement primarily protects US interests.TSC. The Intelligence Bureau will be the nodal agency and designated as the Indian party to the agreement.

Deadline for Tata steel bidders

Tata in India is expected to decide this week which bidders will go forward in the sale process for its UK steel operations.

‘Thulla’: A lexical journey of the word that got Arvind Kejriwal into trouble

“Even if a Thulla is caught demanding money from the street vendors, we can’t try him.”
— Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal in a TV interview, on 17 July 2015

Thulla has landed Kejriwal in a city court which has now to decide whether the term is defamatory, for which it must first ascertain the exact meaning of the word. This is not going to be easy as the word does not figure in any standard Sanskrit, Prakrit, Apbhransh, Hindoostani, Hindi or Urdu dictionary.

I have checked over two dozen authoritative wordbooks published during the last hundred years or so but have not found the word anywhere. I have, no doubt, stumbled upon similar sounding words like Thalla, Thaliya, Thallu, Thalua and Nitthalla, but not Thulla.

Arvind Kejriwal. Image from PTIArvind Kejriwal. Image from PTI

The words mentioned above are common in the Hindi region and are all listed in Hindi dictionaries as variants of Prakrit Thall meaning ‘idle, indolent, laggard, lackadaisical, lazy, slack, slow, slothful, poor, moneyless, and destitute’. Thulla, however, is not given as a variant of Thall, nor is it listed as an independent word derived from a different source. Thall is recorded in dictionaries as deshaj in origin, that is, a word whose origin cannot be traced to Sanskrit and which is, therefore, assigned the status of ‘country born’, or one born among the common people, the aam aadmi.

This means that Thulla is a neologism that has not yet come to the notice of lexicographers. I called up friends in some cities and towns in the Hindi states to find out if they had heard the word used in their neighbourhood. Most of them said that, though the word sounded familiar, they had not actually used or heard it used in their social circles until, of course, Kejriwal made it famous. Those who said that they seemed to have heard the word, even if not used it themselves, apparently confused it with Thalla and Nithalla, meaning the shirker or idler in common parlance. Thulla is new even to Google where it made its first appearance after Kejriwal gave it currency last month.

Taking the hint from him, some bloggers have given its slang meaning as ‘policeman’ or ‘cop’. However, its meaning cannot be as simple as that, for it would not have generated such heat if it merely denoted a policeman or was merely a euphemism for one. It must have a certain snide aspect to it to cause such uproar.

If it is not listed in standard dictionaries, it must certainly be a slang word and, if it is new even on the Net, it must be hot off the street. This is understandable as there is always a time lag between the slang use of a word and its inclusion in wordbooks. It seems that Thulla started its career quite some years ago as a cant word among street urchins, rag pickers, drug pushers, pickpockets and chain snatchers from whom it spread among roadside vendors, their helpers and delivery boys, rikshaw-pullers and three-wheeler drivers. Soon it sneaked into the jargon of the city’s uppity adventure bikers and has from there crept almost stealthily into the informal lexicon of middle class teenagers and school and college students.

kejri quotekejri quote

Kejriwal must have picked the word from the streets during his election campaign. The fashion for spicing up one’s conversation with street slang started among the American haute monde and upper crusts some years ago. As the poor, the jobless and the disadvantaged immigrants and all those living on welfare became increasingly assertive, radicalised, demanding and even hostile, the privileged American classes began shedding their elitist attire, looks and lexicon and went folksy. Soon the American Presidents cast away their Sunday best and slipped into denims and tea shirts and began sprinkling their talk with street slang to gain social acceptance of what they called the folks and whom we here call the aam aadmi. Kejriwal was, obviously, among the earliest Indian public spirited men to catch the whiff wafting in from America and, though the trend may have come from America, the discovery of Thulla is solely his own.

It seems from the context in which Kejriwal used the word Thulla during his TV interview, the tenor and tone of his utterance, and the indignant and snide expression on his face that he used the word rather contemptuously for the police, insinuating a tainted and rotten character. The sense that the word conveyed was that of a cheap and disgraceful, good for nothing fellow who fleeces the helpless instead of earning his keep according to the calling of his duty. That is also more or less what the street use of the term implies, though in the beginning Thulla may have been a bare euphemism, sort of a street watchword. Some net fanciers have tried to link Thullu with the Mumbai slang word Thullu which has gone viral since the TV standing comedian Kapil Sharma gave it currency in his recent shows.

kejri quote 2kejri quote 2

Thullu, however, is a coarse coinage fit for bawdy, slapstick comedy. The TV jokster makes the smutty Thullu even smuttier by adding his double-dealing hand gesture.

Kejriwal certainly could not have intended such a meaning when he used the word Thulla, which is, anyway, different both in origin and meaning from Thalla, Nithalla as also from Thullu.

So what does Thulla mean? Clearly, it means exactly what Kejriwal intended it to mean: a sleazy, shameful and wretched cop. Whether or not that is defamatory is for the court to pronounce. As for its origin, it is not a deshaj or slang word like Thalla and its variants Nithalla, Thalua, etc. Thulla is of pure Sanskrit origin and is the Prakrit, Apabhransh, Hindi derivative from ‘sthul’ which is pronounced with soft ‘th’ as in ‘thermos.’ Change of dental or soft ‘th’ to cerebral or hard ‘Th’ is common as, for instance, the shift from soft ‘th’ in Sanskrit ‘sthapan’, to fix, to hard ‘Th’ in Hindi ‘Thappa’ meaning mark, stamp, seal, engraving. Sanskrit ‘sthul’ means big, large, thick, gross, etc, and was originally identical with ‘sthur’ which is also the source of similar meaning words in various Indo-European languages like Greek and Latin ‘taurus’ meaning bull, Lithuanian ‘storas’ meaning thick, Swedish ‘stura’ meaning big or large and English ‘store’ meaning depot, storehouse.

kejri quote 3kejri quote 3

Though of Sanskrit origin, it is rather uncommon in Hindi and is, therefore, not seen in Hindi dictionaries. The word is, however, common in the Nepali language as Thola and Thulla and is given in good detail in Turner’s comprehensive comparative and etymological dictionary of Nepali language published in 1831. In Nepali language, the word means big or large, as in Ghulam Ali’s now famous Nepali folk song “Gazalu ti Thulla, Thulla aankha (Gazalu your big, big eyes…)”. Yet another common meaning of the term in the language is elder or older as in ‘Thola buwa’ meaning the elder or older father meaning father’s elder brother.

It is from the Nepali language that the word Thola entered the two hill dialects of Garhwali and Kumaoni on the edge of the KhaDi Boli or Saurseni Prakrit-Hindi region. Here the Thola sound changed permanently to Thulla and the meaning got fixed to elder as in ‘Thulla bhai’ or the elder brother like they say ‘mota bhai’ in Gujarati. How they slipped into the two dialects should become clear from the fact that for about a quarter of a century from 1790 to 1815 the two districts were ruled by the Gorkhas from Nepal. The word moved over to Delhi with the Nepali and Garhwali immigrants. Here Thulla became standardised in the sense of big, burly and bulky and from there a euphemism for policemen who keep sauntering self-importantly from one handcart to another collecting their keep.

The author is engaged in compiling an etymological dictionary of Indian and Pakistani slang

Hawan for Donald Trump: Hindu Sena says he is the only one who can save humanity

Looks like Donald Trump has some ardent followers in India too, some members of Hindu Sena on Wednesday organised a hawan and chanted matras in order to invoke the Hindu deities to help the US Presidential hopeful win the election. Trump has now been declared the presumptive Republican nominee for the presidential race and is likely to be contesting against the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton for the presidential seat.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Although, his views and pledges regarding Muslims, migrants and terrorism may have earned him a bad reputation, he however, has earned some fans in regions like India where certain groups resonate with his calls for temporarily banning Muslims from America and his tough stance on terrorism. Founder of the Hindu Sena nationalist group, Vishnu Gupta, said, “The whole world is screaming against Islamic terrorism, and even India is not safe from it. Only Donald Trump can save humanity.”The members of Hindu Sena gathered at Jantar Mantar in new Delhi with picture and idols of Hindu gods and also of Donald Trump along with a banner showed support for Trump, “because he is hope for humanity against Islamic terror,” Hindustan Times reported.

Now, Mamta Kulkarni’s husband Vicky Goswami says they were never married

Vicky Goswami, Mamta Kulkarni’s reported husband who is facing allegations of being the kingpin of international drug cartel, has claimed that the former Bollywood actress is not his wife. “Mamta Kulkarni is only a well-wisher. She stood with me in difficult times but she is not my wife, I never married her,” Goswami is quoted as saying in an India Today report. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Last week, Thane police seized a total of 18.5 tonne of Ephedrine and 2.5 tonne of acetic anhydride for which they received a letter of appreciation from the US Drug Enforcement Agency too. During the investigation it was found that Vicky Goswami was the alleged kingpin of the racket. Goswami is currently out on bail in a case where he was arrested by Kenyan police officials. He will soon be extradited from Kenya. Goswami alleged that the US was pressurising India to extradite him and since he is afraid that America’s Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) may kidnap him, he will not come back to India, reports India Today. “Don’t be surprised if they (DEA) kidnap and take me to America tomorrow. How can I come to India. I can’t come to India as am on bond. I can’t leave Mombasa. I am a businessman with interests in several other countries. I am into gold, diamond mining other things,” Goswami told India Today. The drug trailIt all began with the arrest of Sipren Chinassa, a Nigerian national, with 500g of ephedrine who led the cops to the manufacturing unit at Solpaur. Chinassa led the cops to Sagar Powale and Mayur Sukhdare, who were arrested in Thane for allegedly possessing around 2kg of ephedrine. This was followed by the arrest of Dhaneshwar Swamy with 5.50kg of ephedrine powder. After this Dnyaneshwar Dhimri, production manager from Solapur unit, was also arrested.On further grilling, the investigation led to persons related to the company — Manoj Jain, Punit Shringi and Pradeep Singh Gill.”Members and directors of the company were directly connected to the Kenyan drug mafia king Vicky Goswami. Earlier, too, they had not disclosed the amount of drug that was being manufactured at the company,” said a crime branch police officer.He added: “The accused were planning to arrange a unit at Mombasa in Kenya were they can turn ephedrine into methamphetamine which is costlier in the international market. The Gujarat and Maharashtra police are working on this drug cartel while we have found that 4-5 persons are still absconding. We will arrest them soon.”

‘Jungle Book’ Rules Over ‘The Huntsman: Winter’s War’ | Reuters

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – Disney’s “The Jungle Book” showed serious traction at the North American box office, dominating moviegoing for a second straight weekend with $60.8 million at 4,028 locations.

The family-friendly tentpole declined only 41% from its opening frame and left Universal’s launch of “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” in the dust with $20 million at 3,791 locations.

“The Jungle Book” posted the best second weekend of 2016, topping the $56.5 million second frame for “Deadpool,” and will wind up the weekend with $191.5 million after 10 days — already the fourth-largest 2016 title.

Internationally, the results are equally impressive with an additional $96 million and a decline of only 32% from the prior weekend for an international total of $337 million and global cume to date of $528M. “The Jungle Book” is the highest grossing Hollywood release in India with $28.8 million and is less than $3 million short of the $100 million mark in China.

“The Huntsman: Winter’s War,” starring Chris Hemsworth, Jessica Chastain and Charlize Theron, debuted at the low end of forecasts in North America amid mostly downbeat reviews and a B+ CinemaScore. The audience was 61% female and 53% under 30.

The prequel to 2012’s “Snow White and the Huntsman” carries a price tag of $115 million, so the studio will need a strong international performance to break even. “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” had already opened in 27 foreign territories last weekend and added 37 more for a weekend of $32.1 million in 64 territories for an international total of $80.2 million.

China opened in third place with $11.1 million at 5,932 sites behind the second week of The Jungle Book and a local film.

The first “Huntsman,” starring Kristen Stewart as Snow White, was a solid box office performer with a $56.2 million opening weekend in the U.S. on its way to a $155 million domestic total, plus another $241 million overseas.

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

The Maneka Gandhi column: It’s time we took note of the scourge of rare animals’ trade on the Internet

Two months ago the Ministry of Health raided the kingpin of the illegal oxytocin trade in India. He is a lowly employee of the Municipal Corporation of Kolkata with five houses, and many godowns stuffed with oxytocin, and another illegal drug codeine. Both items have been flown in for him from China regularly by FedEx which has been doing a roaring business in shipping illegal drugs and wildlife trophies across the world. FedEx has not been hauled up as yet. If they are, they will blame a single employee. In July 2015, an American dentist from America went on holiday to Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe and shot the national animal, a lion named Cecil, which he then cut into parts and sent to himself through UPS.

Both FedEx and UPS have facilitated wild life crime across the world. More than 26,000 wild hunting trophies were shipped around the world between 2010 and 2014. This includes thousands of wild animal heads, elephant ears, panther skulls, black bear claws and monkey bodies. Other items include turtle eggs, snake skins, panther skulls, alligator skins and rhino horns and leather. These trophies do not include the millions of insects that both these companies have been handling. From India, lakhs of butterflies have been sent through these international shippers and three species have become extinct. Snake skin exports are common. Foreigners come, pay locals to catch the animals and send them through parcels to foreign countries — unchecked by customs and usually mislabelled. Mongoose hair, pangolin scales , star tortoises, even tiger parts – all these are shipped through by the single worst poachers on the planet – UPS and FedEx. I am surprised that they have not been banned from most countries.

After Cecil, the Lion case, they were asked to stop shipping animals and their parts. Both shippers have refused. Over three lakh people have signed petitions saying that they will not use these delivery firms in future. It makes no difference to them. Even after the lion case, they have shipped another couple of hundred trophies of elephants, wild buffalo and leopards out of Africa to America. A spokesman for UPS said that it “is strongly against the trafficking or trade of endangered species” but “accepts for shipment taxidermy items that are legally obtained and appropriately documented”. That is an outright lie. No documentation is given or asked for any illegal shipment of wild animals or drugs by either of these two firms. The dentist has also killed a leopard and an elephant.

Blackbucks in a field. Image courtesy: Jay MazoomdarBlackbucks in a field. Image courtesy: Jay Mazoomdar

Blackbucks in a field. Image courtesy: Jay Mazoomdar

Keng Liang Wong, a Malaysian wildlife smuggler has been sentenced in federal court in San Francisco to 71 months jail and a fine of $60,000 for trafficking in some of the most endangered reptile species in the world. The species involved ranged from Komodo Monitors and Plowshare Tortoises which are on the brink of extinction. Wong also trafficked in such rare species as the Chinese Alligator, the False Gavial and the Radiated Tortoise, Gray’s Monitor, Spider Tortoise, Burmese Star Tortoise, Indian Star Tortoise, Boelen’s Python, Timor Python, Green Tree Python, and Fly River Turtle. He sent regular shipments to the US through Fed Ex. Seven other defendants have been convicted for sending or receiving FedEx consignments, including a FedEx employee Robert Paluch. Wong spearheaded an international smuggling ring that illegally imported and sold more than 300 protected reptiles native to Asia and Africa. None of this could have happened without Fed Ex, who brought the reptiles in express delivery packages and large commercial shipments of legally declared animals.

The United States is the biggest customer for all illegal wildlife. But while special agents in the Wildlife Service patrol the major air and seaports, no one is paying attention to FedEx, Airborne and other mail carrier hubs. In fact the number of agents has decreased over the last 25 years while wildlife crime has exploded in sales and revenue across the globe. The staggering profits which now run into billions have engaged international organized crime syndicates like the Russian mafias. The growth has been fed by the internet and the parcel carriers. The net is an unrestricted shopping mall for natural resources and has enabled thousands of illegal transactions from one side of the world to another. Global shipping services are a smugglers’ best friends. They don’t screen packages but do provide online tracking and delivery confirmation. Dealers use their services regularly as the animals and their parts arrive safely. In one DHL package from Singapore, labelled as toys addressed to a dealer from California, US wildlife officials found 51 Indian star tortoises smuggled out of India. Caviar, eggs taken from the slit bodies of live protected sturgeons, is a commonly smuggled item.

India is one of the major victims of the parcel trade. We have no sniffer dogs at parcel venues. Even though DHL, FedEx, UPS have been caught many times in both drug and animal smuggling, no action is taken against them and they are left to “self regulation”. Our Home Ministry has no one patrolling the internet for wild animals / fish / birds being freely advertised by Indian sellers. Some instances are the thousands of painted glass fish being offered, dried seahorses, shark fins, dried fish bladders, butterflies, and scorpions – all these will be exported illegally through the parcel companies. Even though there is a ban on all ivory advertisements, code words are common on the Net and in the shipment service. As soon as a law enforcement agency catches on that “white gold” is code for “ivory,” a new code word pops up.

Sites like Yahoo openly advertise ivory. More than 12 tons of ivory exchanged hands from 2012 to 2014 on Yahoo Japan. With more than 30,000 elephants being killed for their ivory each year, Japan and China have emerged as the drivers of the illegal trade. How did the ivory reach Japan from India and Africa? FedEx zindabad. While Google has technically banned ivory sale on its platform, it still has advertisements for ivory products on its shopping site in Japan. The advertisements are for hanko, ivory Japanese stamps used as signatures on contracts.

eBay has been identified as the worst offender in the online trade of endangered wildlife products. The International Fund for Animal Welfare found that 4,300 of 5,200 tracked elephant ivory listings took place on eBay. Amazon explicitly bans ivory sales. Still, the Environmental Investigation Agency found, in 2013, that the company allowed thousands of ads for real ivory on its Japanese site. Craigslist was thrust into the spotlight in March 2015 after an investigation by IFAW and the Wildlife Conservation Society showed more than 600 elephant-related items, worth a total of $1.5 million, were advertised on the website. Only three percent were legally obtained. Craigslist is still selling ivory products and endangered animal parts. When a customer buys an illegal animal item from these sites, who do you think delivers them to your doorstep; the unhampered, unregulated parcel companies. In March 2015 UPS forfeited $40 million to the US Government for shipping drugs from “illegal internet pharmacies”.

Fed Ex admitted that it had been doing the same but refused to pay the fine. A Grand Jury has indicted them for delivering drugs to vacant homes, parking lots where carloads of people are waiting, customers with multiple names and suspicious identification documents and people who are under watch by the local law enforcement agencies for criminal activities. In its defence FedEx claims that its job is to deliver packages. Not to examine packages to make sure they are legal. We are a transportation company – we are not law enforcement.” is their cry. Which means they can carry on criminal smuggling right under the nose of every government!
Today, over 140 species of sharks are threatened by extinction. An estimated 73 million are killed per year for shark fin soup. 98% come from India where shark fin export has been banned. Two international shipping companies — UPS and DHL — publicly declared they will not ship shark fins any more. FedEx has refused to take part in the ban. And we refuse to do anything about it.

To join the animal welfare movement contact [email protected], www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Be ready to get a peek into the secret world of VVIP chefs

If food be the way to a man’s heart, does it hold true for heads of state as well? How far are the complex negotiations of international diplomacy aided, or disrupted by the food that is served at these conferences?The question will be moot points at a unique convention that is due to take place in the capital in late October this year. This is the general assembly of the Club des Chef des Chefs (CCC) or the club of the chefs of the head of states, attended by 25 chefs — just two of them women — from as many countries around the world.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Among them will be Cristeta Comerford, chef to the president of the United States of America; Mark Flanagan, chef to the queen of the United Kingdom; Du Jianlin & Zhou Chuanyou, chefs to Chinese president Xi Jinping; besides the chefs to the presidents of France, Israel, Italy, South Africa, Sri Lanka, among others. Ulrich Kerz, chef to German chanellor Angela Merkel will be coming as will those to the monarchs of Thailand, Denmark, Sweden, Spain and Thailand.Montu Saini, who took over as chef to the president of India just 10 months, will play host. At just 30, Saini is the youngest of the club, which prides itself on being the “most exclusive gastronomic association in the world”.So how important is food to diplomacy? “Gastronomy has an important political role. As Talleyrand French diplomat told Napoleon Bonaparte, ‘Give me a good chef and I’ll give you a good treaty.’ It is during meals that relations between leaders are the most intimate,” said Gilles Bragard, the French businessman whose company makes chef’s jackets and who founded CCC in 1977.Addressing the media in Delhi on Tuesday, Bragard said the chefs would be in India for a week and their main public engagement would be a charity dinner whose menu will be jointly devised by five of the presidential chefs. The proceeds of the dinner would go to an Indian charity, Bragard announced.But it won’t be all work as the chefs will also travel to Agra and Jaipur and be hosted to a high tea with President Pranab Mukherjee. “It’s a way to make them feel like the heads of state they serve for one week, to get them to relax after the very hard work they put in through the year,” said Bragard.The job of chef to a head of state can be an extremely stressful. Saini spoke of how during the banquet for the India-Africa summit – “with over 400 guests, the sitdown dinner was the largest banquet ever hosted by Rashtrapati Bhavan” — there was a minor crisis when the butler carrying the dessert, gulab kheer in little glasses, slipped on the stair and dropped the tray. “It was a crisis. State banquets are all about management, about split second timing. Nothing can go wrong and one course should follow another as decided. It is a matter of national pride. Thankfully, there was some kheer left over, although there was a delay in serving,” said Saini, who heads a team of 40 chefs and overseas every meal, drink or snack served at the official residence of the Indian president.The job also requires that the chef safeguard the secrecy and privacy of the leader at all times. “There are dangers of revealing too much. French president Jacques Chirac’s chef once revealed that the leader liked veal’s head. The result was that wherever the president went, he would be served veal’s head! On the flip side, when George Bush revealed that he didn’t like broccoli, farmers were very angry.”Gastronomy’s political roleSo how important is food to diplomacy? “Gastronomy has an important political role. As Talleyrand French diplomat told Napoleon Bonaparte, ‘Give me a good chef and I’ll give you a good treaty.’ It is during meals that relations between leaders are the most intimate,” said Gilles Bragard, the French businessman whose company makes chef’s jackets and who founded CCC in 1977.

dna Afternoon Must Reads: From updates on drought relief in Maharashtra to Varun Dhawan dubbing for ‘Captain America’

1. Live | Assembly elections: Clashes in many parts of West Bengal; Gogoi violates model code of conduct in AssamVoting for 61 seats in Assam and 31 seats in West Bengal began on Monday morning, which will seal the fate of 688 candidates for 92 seats. Read more here<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. Kerala temple fire: Five people detained, crime branch takes over probeFive people have been detained in connection with the deadly inferno at the Puttingal temple in Kollam district in Kerala that killed at least 106 people and injuring more than 380. Read more here3. Maharashtra drought: First water train with 10 wagons leaves Miraj for LaturA ‘water train’ with 10 wagons carrying water for parched Latur in Marathwada region, which is battling the worst drought ever, on Monday left from Miraj in Sangli district of western Maharashtra. Read more here4. A dream come true: Boman Kohinoor meets Will and Kate!’Britannia Uncle’ has finally met Prince William and Kate Middleton, thanks to the Internet! Read more here5. IPL 2016: Going strong at 45, bowling with Brad Hogg was fun for Piyush ChawlaKolkata Knight Riders leg-spinner Piyush Chawla says it was fun bowling in tandem with veteran Brad Hogg and the Australian’s performance made life easier for him from the other end. Read more here6. After Priyanka Chopra’s ‘Ka’, now Varun Dhawan to dub for Chris Evans’ role in Captain America: Civil WarVarun Dhawan will be dubbing for Captain America’s role in the Hindi version of the Marvel super-hero flick. Read more here

Obama seeks reduction of nuclear arsenal in India, Pakistan

India and Pakistan need to make progress in reducing their nuclear arsenal and develop military doctrines so that they do not “continually move in the wrong direction”, US President Barack Obama said on Saturday. “One of the challenges that we’re going to have here is that it is very difficult to see huge reductions in our nuclear arsenal unless the United States and Russia, as the two largest possessors of nuclear weapons, are prepared to lead the way,” Obama said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The other area where I think we need to see progress is Pakistan and India, that subcontinent, making sure that as they develop military doctrines, that they are not continually moving in the wrong direction,” Obama told a press conference at the end of the two-day Nuclear Security Summit here.”We have to take a look at the Korean Peninsula because North Korea is in a whole different category and poses the most immediate set of concerns for all of us, one that we are working internationally to focus on,” the US President said.Obama said that was one of the reasons he had a trilateral meeting with Japan and Korea, adding that it was a major topic of discussion with his Chinese counterpart as well. Obama’s remarks are seen in the context of growing American uneasiness about the rapidly increasing nuclear arsenal of Pakistan.Last month US Secretary of State John Kerry had cited the example of America and Russia which are working to further reduce their nuclear arsenal, while urging Pakistan to review its nuclear policy.

Japan’s NTT to buy Dell unit for $3bn

Japan’s NTT Data is buying Dell’s technology services business for more than $3bn (£2.1bn) in an attempt to further expand its business in North America.

US expresses concern over India’s ballistic missile launch

Expressing concern over India’s recent ballistic missile launch, the US has said such actions could potentially “increase” the risk to nuclear security and have an impact on regional security.”We’re concerned by any nuclear and missile developments that could potentially increase the risk to nuclear security risk or lower the threshold for nuclear use,” the State Department Spokesman, Mark Toner, told reporters. “So we continue to urge all states with nuclear weapons to exercise restraint regarding their missile and nuclear capabilities,” Toner said when asked about recent ballistic missile test by India.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said the State Department official had shared its concerns with New Delhi. “We are concerned,” he reiterated yesterday when asked if the US was concerned about India’s ballistic missile programme. “We are concerned about those kind of actions what they do for regional security,” he said.While his answer was general in nature, a senior State Department official pointed out that it included India and the spokesperson’s response was against India-specific question. “Yes”, Toner said when asked if the US had raised its concerns with India on its ballistic missile programme.A day earlier he had refrained from going into specifics of America’s bilateral conversations with India on this issue. “I don’t want to get into specifics of our bilateral conversations with India, but we’ve long encouraged efforts to promote confidence building, stability, and discourage any actions that might destabilise the region,” he had said.India successfully launched an indigenously-developed, nuclear capable K-4 ballistic missile from a submerged platform in the Bay of Bengal recently.

North Korea fires ballistic missile

North Korea fires a ballistic missile off its east coast into the sea, South Korean and US officials say, amid the heightened tensions in the region.

Only the rich and famous talk about intolerance, says Anupam Kher

Only the rich and the famous are talking of intolerance, there is no debate on the issue, actor Anupam Kher said on Saturday.

“This is a no debate. The rich and the famous are talking of intolerance. If you ask a man on the street, they won’t talk about intolerance. All they want is food two times a day. Those with a champagne in a glass are only talking about it. Are you living in India or America,” Mr Kher said at the Telegraph National Debate on intolerance in Kolkata.

File image of Anupam Kher. PTIFile image of Anupam Kher. PTI

File image of Anupam Kher. PTI

He said the “biggest” form of intolerance in the country was during the emergency when all those people who spoke against the government were jailed.

Taking a swipe at Rahul Gandhi, he said, “Congress is the most tolerant in India because they are tolerating a person whom they want to project as a prime minister of this country”.

“If you can tolerate that person then you can tolerate anything in the world. This is ridiculous. Did you hear the word intolerance before the last eight months? This has been marketed to take revenge for the defeat in the last elections,” Mr Kher said, adding, corruption is “not being talked about” in the last two years while in the last ten years corruption was the most talked about topic.

AICC spokesman Randeep Surjewala said in the last two years it has often appeared that intolerance is now part of the mainstream discourse.

Bollywood actress Kajol said there are different types of intolerance and political intolerance is only one of them.

“To make all social issues a political one is absolutely wrong. I also think that We have to work together to make a stronger and richer India and only then intolerance cease to exist. The debate on intolerance does not recognise this,” she said.

Yogi, Sadhvi should be thrown out of party, jailed: Anupam Kher

People like Yogi Aditynath and Sadhvi Prachi who “speak nonsense” should be “thrown out” of BJP and “put behind bars”, actor Anupam Kher has said.”There are some people in the party (BJP) who speak nonsense, and ill-behave, whether it is Sadhvi or Yogi…they should be put behind bars, thrown out of the party (…Hain kuch log aise party mein jo bakwas karte hain, chahe wo Sadhvi hon ya Yogi ho, unko andar kar dena chahiye aur unko nikal dena chahiye),” Kher said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”…But, you can’t play with the entire country and say that we have intolerance here (…magar aap pure desh ke saath khilwad nahin kar sakte ki hamare desh meyn intolerance hai,” he said. He was speaking in Kolkata on Saturday at the Telegraph National Debate on intolerance.The noted actor also attacked Congress, saying people in the rival party speak “the most of awful things.” “Your MP Digvijayaji had said about another MP the most awful things…Nothing can be more detestable than that. I have not brought the list of who spoke what, and I am not defending those who speak nonsense,” he said.BJP MP Yogi Adityanath and right-wing leader Sadhvi Prachi have courted controversies in the past for their inflammatory statements drawing sharp reactions from several quarters. “This is a no debate. The rich and the famous are talking of intolerance. If you ask a man on the street, he won’t talk about intolerance. All they want is food two times a day. Those with a champagne glass are only talking about it.Are you living in India or America,” Kher had said.

Sartaj Aziz says India top security concern; rules out reducing nuclear weapons arsenal

Identifying the “strategic and conventional imbalance with India” as the topmost security threat to it, Pakistan on Tuesday rejected America’s call to reduce or cap its nuclear weapons arsenal, believed to be the fastest growing in the world.”I think (Pakistan’s top) security concern is strategic and conventional imbalance with India,” the Pakistan Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz told Defence Writers Group in a breakfast meeting this morning.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Terrorism comes only after that, he said. “Terrorism is something our own domestic (concern). It is overflow of terrorism from Afghanistan that becomes the second (top security concern for Pakistan) within our borders, which hopefully we would be able to control it in the next few years,” he said, responding to a question on what was Pakistan s top security concern or threat.Aziz also ruled out America s desire that Pakistan reduce or cap its fast expanding nuclear weapons arsenal and put the onus for it on India. “If India does (caps its nuclear weapons program) we would think about it,” he said when asked at this point of time Pakistan is not thinking of capping or reducing its stockpile of nuclear weapons, as asked by the United States. “But if India does not, how can we cap?” Aziz asked.Citing the example of the US and Russia which are working to further reduce their nuclear arsenals, Secretary of State John Kerry had asked Pakistan yesterday to understand this reality and review its nuclear policy. “I think, it is important for Pakistan to really process that reality and put that front and center in its policy,” he said in an apparent reference to the reports that Pakistan has the fastest growing stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world.The nuclear and non-proliferation issue is among the six topics that was discussed during the sixth US-Pak Strategic Dialogue co-chaired by Kerry and Aziz here yesterday.”Our nuclear program is a deterrence. It is India which is expanding its nuclear arsenal at a much faster rate than we are,” Aziz alleged.”The concept of deterrence is a dynamic one. Deterrence has to be effective and our deterrence is India centric. If India would not have started its nuclear program, we would have never done this,” he said. “India is developing its nuclear stock. Its ability after the (civil nuclear) agreement with the United States to divert more stocks to it, more fissile materials to nuclear weapons has increased much more,” he claimed.Aziz said the visiting Pakistani delegation had a very good interaction with the US. “They (US) broadly accept out need of an effective nuclear deterrence. I do not think; we have any major issues in this. We keep discussing these things,” he said. “If India were to accept this importance of resolving disputes, improving relations, both of us would not need this. But unfortunately that is not happening. And so we have no option but to have what we call minimum effective deterrence.” When referred to Kerry’s remarks in this regard in which he cited the example of US and Russia wherein they reduced the number of nuclear weapon stock piles from 50,00 to now just 1500, Aziz pointed out that they improved their relationship.”When dialogue (between India and Pakistan) begins, we have a frank discussion on some of these things. Our ceasefire line or Line of Control we want to keep (it) quite, and an agreement to make sure that there is no firing or other thing. That s why the importance of having a regular dialogue between the two countries so that things do not flare up,” he said. “You can t define like that,” he said when asked how he would quantify minimum effective nuclear deterrence as Pakistan is estimated to have more than 100-120 nuclear weapons, according to some experts. “It is a dynamic concept. If you (India) keep expanding every month, every six month, obviously you can t define at this particular point of time,” Aziz said.

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ author Harper Lee dies at 89 | Reuters

Harper Lee, who wrote one of America’s most beloved literary classics, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and surprised readers 55 years later with the publication of a second book about the same characters, died at the age of 89 on Friday.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” was published in 1960 as the civil rights movement was heating up and its unflinching examination of racial hatred in the U.S. South made it especially poignant. Its theme could be summed up with the advice that Atticus gave Scout: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

A statement from Tonja Carter, Lee’s attorney in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, said Lee had “passed away early this morning in her sleep” there and that her death was unexpected. She would have a private funeral.

Lee lived an almost reclusive life for decades and it had appeared that her sole literary output would be “To Kill a Mockingbird,” especially since she acknowledged she could not top the Pulitzer Prize-winning book. That was what made the July 2015 publication of “Go Set a Watchman” such a surprising and somewhat controversial literary event.

In the first book, Atticus Finch was the adored father of the young narrator Scout and a lawyer who nobly but unsuccessfully defended a black man unjustly accused of raping a white woman. But in “Watchman,” an older Atticus had racial views that left the grown-up Scout greatly disillusioned.

Lee reportedly had written “Go Set a Watchman” first but, at the suggestion of a wise editor, set it aside to tell a tale of race in the South from the child’s point of view in the 1930s.

For many years, Lee, a shy woman with an engaging Southern drawl who never married, lived quietly and privately, always turning down interview requests. She alternated between living in a New York apartment and Monroeville, where she shared a home with her older sister, lawyer Alice Lee.

After suffering a stroke and enduring failing vision and hearing, she spent her final years in an assisted living residence in Monroeville.

“When I saw her just six weeks ago, she was full of life, her mind and mischievous wit as sharp as ever,” her agent, Andrew Nurnberg, said in a statement. “She was quoting Thomas More and setting me straight on Tudor history.”

The movie version of “To Kill a Mockingbird also became an American classic. It won the Academy Award for best picture in 1963 while Gregory Peck, who played Atticus and would become Lee’s good friend, was named best actor.

SAD DAY IN MONROEVILLE

Spencer Madrie, owner of the Ol’ Curiosities & Book Shoppe dedicated to the work of Lee and other Southern authors, said Monroeville was in a somber mood.

“You wish somebody like that could go on forever and be this lifelong legend,” he said. “You don’t ever consider somebody like that passing, even though her legacy will last for generations after.”

Lee’s state of mind would become an issue last year when plans were announced to publish “Go Set a Watchman.” Some friends said that after the death of her sister Alice, who handled Harper’s affairs, lawyer Carter had manipulated Lee to approve publication.

Carter had said she came across the “Watchman” manuscript while doing legal work for Lee in 2014 and an investigation by Alabama state officials found there was no coercion in getting Lee’s permission to publish.

A family friend, the Reverend Thomas Lane Butts, told an Australian interviewer that Lee had said she did not publish again because she did not want to endure the pressure and publicity of another book and because she had said all that she wanted to say.

Lee essentially quit giving interviews in 1964 and rarely made public appearances. She did regularly attend an annual luncheon at the University of Alabama, however, to meet with the winners of a high school essay contest on the subject of her book.

In November 2007, she went to the White House to accept a Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush, who at the time called her book “a gift to the entire world.”

Bush said in a statement on Friday that he and his wife, Laura Bush, a former librarian, mourned Lee. “Harper Lee was ahead of her time and her masterpiece ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ prodded America to catch up with her,” he said.

News of Lee’s death spread widely on social media and tributes poured in from well-known figures, such as Apple Inc Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook, who quoted the author in a tweet by saying, “Rest in peace, Harper Lee. ‘The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.'”

CHANGING RACIAL VIEWS

Nelle Harper Lee was born April 28, 1926, in Monroeville, the youngest of four children of A.C. and Frances Finch Lee and a descendant of Civil War General Robert E. Lee. Like Scout, Lee grew up a tomboy.

Lee had studied law at the University of Alabama but, six months before finishing her studies, she went to New York in the early 1950s to pursue a literary career while working as an airline reservation clerk.

In 1956 friends Michael and Joy Brown gave Lee a special Christmas gift, a year of financial support so she could work full time on “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

An estimated 30 million copies of the book were sold. It would become required reading in many American schools but the American Library Association said it was frequently challenged by those who did not like its subject matter.

Lee also played a key role in researching another great American book by Truman Capote, her childhood friend and the inspiration for the frail, precocious Dill in “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

In 1959 she accompanied Capote to Holcombe, Kansas, to work on “In Cold Blood,” the chilling account of the murders of a farming family. Her mannerly, down-home approach undoubtedly smoothed the way for the flamboyant Capote.

There was speculation that Capote helped her write “To Kill a Mockingbird” but in his 2006 biography, “Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee,” Charles J. Shields disputed that. He also said Lee’s contribution to Capote’s “In Cold Blood” was greater than believed.

Lee’s sister said the authors eventually fell out because Capote was jealous of Lee’s Pulitzer, which she won in 1961.

In 2006 Lee wrote a piece for O magazine about developing a childhood love of books, even though they were scarce in Monroeville.

“Now, 75 years later in an abundant society where people have laptops, cell phones, iPods, and minds like empty rooms, I still plod along with books,” she wrote.

(Reporting and writing by Bill Trott; Additional reporting by Letitia Stein and Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Grant McCool)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Wall St climbs again; consumer, industrial shares surge | Reuters

Wall Street minted its second straight session of solid gains on Tuesday, as investors snatched up beaten-down consumer discretionary, industrial and tech shares.

All 10 S&P sectors closed higher following an extended holiday weekend. Financials, healthcare and materials also posted gains of more than 1.5 percent.

Building on Friday’s rally, the S&P 500 tallied its biggest two-day percentage gain since August.

Slumping oil prices, fears of a China-led slowdown in global growth and uncertainty over central bank monetary policies have roiled the markets this year. The S&P 500 remains down 7.3 percent in 2016.

“I think you can make a case that a lot of stocks are oversold, and therefore they should be drawing some buyers from the sidelines,” said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama. “The question is if we can sustain this rally for several days.”

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 222.57 points, or 1.39 percent, to 16,196.41, the S&P 500 gained 30.8 points, or 1.65 percent, to 1,895.58 and the Nasdaq Composite added 98.44 points, or 2.27 percent, to 4,435.96.

Investors are holding the most cash since November 2001, which should be interpreted as an “unambiguous buy” signal, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in its February global fund managers survey.

U.S. equity market performance has been closely tied to oil prices as the commodity’s 1-1/2-year slide has deepened. Oil prices erased early gains on Tuesday after Russia and Saudi Arabia dashed expectations of an outright supply cut, but some investors took solace from the fact that the producers were in discussions.

“I take it as extremely positive news that the U.S. market is rallying on a day that crude is down,” Jake Dollarhide, chief executive officer of Longbow Asset Management in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “We may be finally breaking that toxic correlation that we’ve been seeing that has been turning the entire financial world on its head.”

The S&P energy sector climbed 0.8 percent, but lagged the broader index.

Boeing shares gained 3.7 percent to $112.60 and were the biggest boost to the Dow.

ADT soared 47.5 percent to $39.64 after private equity firm Apollo Global Management agreed to buy the electronic security services provider for $7 billion. Apollo rose 5.4 percent to $14.12.

Community Health Systems slumped 22.1 percent to $14.56 and weighed on other hospital operators after posting an unexpected quarterly loss.

Groupon surged 41.2 percent to $4.08 after Alibaba disclosed a 32.9 million share stake in the company. Alibaba was up 8.9 percent at $66.29.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 2,522 to 578, for a 4.36-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 2,208 issues rose and 606 fell for a 3.64-to-1 ratio favouring advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 9 new 52-week highs and 3 new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 15 new highs and 67 new lows.

About 8.6 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, below the 9.6 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.

(Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf in New York; additional reporting by Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza and Meredith Mazzilli)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Zika scare: Andhra to spread awareness about mosquito bites, set up helpdesks at airports

Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh government on Friday decided to set up help desks in the airports and sea ports in the state as part of efforts to deal with Zika virus.

Health Minister Kamineni Srinivas, who held a video conference with health officials, directed them to spread awareness among people on the menace of the mosquito bites, especially during day time.

The Zika virus under a microscope. APThe Zika virus under a microscope. AP

The Zika virus under a microscope. AP

Those returning from Zika virus-hit countries of Latin America and others should be taken care of, he said.

The minister told the officials to conduct blood tests for pregnant women suffering from symptoms of the virus, a release from his office stated.

The necessary blood tests for determining Zika virus should be conducted free of cost in all district and area hospitals, the minister said.

He asked them to earmark at least two beds each in all district and area hospitals for treatment of zika virus-hit patients.

Srinivas also directed that sanitation measures be taken up in coordination with Panchayat Raj, Municipal Administration and local bodies, the release added.

PTI

Brazil Zika cases raise concern of virus transmission beyond mosquitoes | Reuters

BRASILIA Authorities in Brazil, where a Zika outbreak has been linked to severe birth defects, on Thursday disclosed two cases of transmission tied to blood transfusions, adding to concerns over the spread of the virus.

The virus, spreading quickly across Latin America and the Caribbean, is usually transmitted by the bite of a mosquito.

Marcelo Addas Carvalho, the doctor who is the director of the blood center at the University of Campinas near Sao Paulo, said genetic testing confirmed that a man who received a blood transfusion using blood donated by another man infected with Zika in March 2015 became infected with the virus, although he did not develop symptoms.

Carvalho said another man, who had suffered gunshot wounds, also became infected with Zika after receiving multiple blood transfusions that included blood donated by an infected person in April 2015.

Carvalho said that infection probably was caused by the transfusion but genetic tests have not yet been conducted to confirm it. He said it was very unlikely the infection was caused by a mosquito bite because the patient was in a hospital intensive care unit for three months. The patient later died from his gunshot wounds and not the Zika infection, health officials and Carvalho said.

“Transmission of the virus through blood transfusion is very rare and not an important factor in the epidemic. Governments and society in general should focus on eliminating the mosquito, which is the main form of transmission,” Carvalho said.

The Brazil cases, along with a reported case of sexual transmission of the virus in Texas add a new dimension to efforts to limit Zika’s spread.

The cases have emerged at an awkward time because Rio de Janeiro is preparing to host the Olympic Games in August when tens of thousands of athletes and tourists were expected to visit Brazil’s second largest city.

Brazil is investigating more than 4,000 suspected cases of microcephaly, a condition in which infants are born with abnormally small heads and can suffer developmental problems, that may be linked to the outbreak.

Scientists have begun to study whether Zika infection in pregnancy can cause microcephaly. The World Health Organization, citing strong suspicions of a link between the two and the spike in cases in Brazil, declared a global health emergency on Monday.

Sexual contact and blood transfusions as modes of transmission of the virus have been matters of concern for experts since the beginning of the outbreak, said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases expert at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee.

But Schaffner questioned whether either will lead to widespread transmission of Zika.

“A little bit of transmission? Sure,” Schaffner said. “But the main engine of transmission that has led this virus to be spread widely throughout Central and South America and the Caribbean is, of course, the mosquito.”

Procedures for blood donations have been tightened in the countries including Brazil to protect blood supplies from Zika. U.S. health officials are still working on national guidelines.

Following word of the Texas case on Tuesday, U.S. health officials urged the use of condoms to prevent spreading sexually transmitted infections.

Brazil said it was reinforcing instructions to blood banks that people infected with Zika or dengue not be permitted to donate blood for 30 days after full recovery from the active stage of Zika infection.

The American Red Cross has urged prospective donors who have visited Zika outbreak zones to wait at least 28 days before giving blood, but said the risk of transmitting the virus through blood donations was “extremely” low in the continental United States.

It asked donors who give blood and subsequently develop symptoms consistent with Zika within 14 days to notify the Red Cross so the product can be quarantined.

In the Texas case, a person in Dallas became infected with Zika after having sex with another person who had traveled in Venezuela, where the virus is circulating.

Dallas County health officials said on Thursday both those people have fully recovered from the virus.

Schaffner said uncertainties remain about sexual transmission of the virus, including how long a person might be able to transmit it or whether an infected person must have had symptomatic Zika in order to be able to transmit Zika through sex. Most infected people do not develop any symptoms.

While health authorities have not provided such details, Schaffner said he suspected a man transmitted Zika to a woman.

“We don’t know whether it can move from a woman to a man. We assume also that if a man can transmit it to a woman, that a man could also transmit it to another man,” Schaffner said.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday expanded his state’s free Zika testing to include all pregnant women who have traveled to countries where people have been infected.

Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a public health emergency on Wednesday in four counties with travel-related cases of the Zika virus. Scott extended his order to a fifth county on Thursday. He has also ordered increased mosquito control efforts in some of the southeastern state’s most heavily populated locales including Miami and Tampa.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle in Brasilia; Additional reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas, Jeffrey Dastin in New York and Letitia Stein in Tampa; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Michele Gershberg and Grant McCool)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Made in India! Hyderabad scientists claim world’s first Zika vaccine

At a time when the world is is once again asking scientists and drugmakers to come up rapidly with a vaccine for Zika virus, scientists from a Hyderabad laboratory have claimed that they have developed world’s first vaccine against the virus. According to NDTV, the scientists have developed two vaccines using a live Zika virus imported officially.

The virus, linked to severe birth defects in thousands of babies in Brazil, is spreading rapidly in the Americas, and WHO officials have expressed concern that it could hit Africa and Asia as well.

Bharat Biotech International Limited in Hyderabad told NDTV that they have patented the vaccine. “On Zika, we are probably the first vaccine company in the world to file a vaccine candidate patent about nine months ago,” said Dr Krishna Ella, Chairman and Managing Director, Bharat Biotech Ltd.

According to Dr Ella, the Hyderabad-based lab can make one million doses of the vaccine in four months and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been requested to help fast-track the process “cutting through the red tape of regulatory clearances.”

“We believe we have an early mover advantage in developing the Zikavac and we are probably the first in the world to file for global patent for Zika vaccine candidates.

“We have two candidate vaccines in development. One of them is an inactivated vaccine that has reached the stage of pre-clinical testing in animals,” Ella said.

Quoting a WHO report, he said Zika is now present in 23 countries and Brazil, the hardest-hit country, has reported around 3,530 cases of the devastating birth defect, called microcephaly, in 2015 that are strongly suspected to be related to Zika.

“We hope to announce the arrival of Zikavac to the world as early as possible,” he said.

“Considering that women of child-bearing age and pregnant women are the prime target group for Zika virus vaccine, we consider safety as the overriding factor in development of a new vaccine for this virus. The vaccine methods developed early on, before the devastating consequences of the epidemics in Brazil came to light provided us a push to accelerate vaccine development,” Dr Sumathy, Director, R&D, Bharat Biotech said.

Currently, the vaccine maker is focusing towards scale up and characterization of the vaccine product, Ella further said.

Brazil’s president, noting there is no medical defense against the infection, called for a crusade against the mosquitoes spreading it. “As long as we don’t have a vaccine against Zika virus, the war must be focused on exterminating the mosquito’s breeding areas,” said President Dilma Rousseff.

The Zika virus was first discovered in Africa in 1947. But until last year, when it was found in Brazil, it had never been a threat in the Western Hemisphere.

The virus causes no more than a mild illness in most people. But there is mounting evidence from Brazil suggesting infection in pregnant women is linked to abnormally small heads in their babies — a birth defect called microcephaly.

A family in Brazil which is infected with Zika. APA family in Brazil which is infected with Zika. AP

A family in Brazil which is infected with Zika. AP

India itself may not be as safe as hoped. According to India Today, India has been free of this virus for over 60 years, and that traces of Zika were last seen in 1952-53.

However, Hindustan Times reported that the Union health ministry is procuring testing kits to detect the virus, which is spread by the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito — the same vector that spreads dengue and chicken guinea. “The government is also writing to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to know more about the infection and prepare accordingly,” the report quoted a senior official from the Zoonosis unit of the Union health ministry as saying. Furthermore, the report added that the ministry is putting together protocols to track the ‘sudden rise’ of birth defects across the country.

Making a shot to generate an immune response against Zika virus, which is sweeping through the Americas, shouldn’t be too hard in theory. However, producing a safe, effective and deliverable product to protect women and girls who are at risk is not easy in practice.

For a start, scientists around the world know even less about Zika than they did about the Ebola virus that caused an unprecedented epidemic in West Africa last year.

Ebola, due to its deadly power, was the subject of bioterrorism research, giving at least a base for speeding up vaccine work. This time, the knowledge gap is more daunting.

There are just 30 mentions of Zika in patents, against 1,043 for Ebola and 2,551 for dengue fever, according to Thomson Reuters Derwent World Patents Index. And there have been only 108 high-profile academic papers on Zika since 2001, against more than 4,000 on Ebola, as found in the Web of Science.

Still, the US National Institutes of Health, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Butantan Institute in Brazil have started work on potential candidates for a Zika vaccine, and several biotech firms are in the race.

They include NewLink Genetics, which helped develop the first successful Ebola vaccine with Merck & Co.

Importantly, there is now a “big gun” vaccine maker with skin in the game: Sanofi said on Tuesday it will launch a Zika vaccine programme, a day after the World Health Organization declared the disease and its suspected links to birth defects an international health emergency.

Canadian researcher Gary Kobinger told Reuters he believes an experimental Zika shot might be able to be used on a limited emergency basis as soon as late 2016, although full regulatory approval will take years.

Ben Neuman, an expert on viruses at Britain’s University of Reading, says there are many hurdles ahead. “To be useful, a Zika vaccine would need to be effective and safe, but it’s difficult to do both,” he told Reuters. “It’s a balancing act.”

That’s because a good vaccine works by provoking the immune system into a strong response – but not enough to make a person sick – and there is no simple way to assess the right immune response for Zika, according to one drug company expert.

Zika infection is so mild in the vast majority of cases that its victims are unaware they are even infected, so this group of potential patients is unlikely to need or want immunisation.

The crucial target group is women who may be pregnant, since the disease’s greatest suspected threat is the possible link to severe birth defects.

Clinical Trials

All of this makes developing and testing a vaccine highly complex, especially since pregnant women are often excluded from clinical trials until the safety of new drugs or vaccines is well-established in other population groups.

It also makes for an uncertain and potentially limited market for any Zika vaccine.

Assuming Sanofi or another company succeeds in developing one, the vaccine may be used only in teenage girls – protecting them before they are likely to become pregnant – in countries and regions where Zika-carrying mosquitoes thrive.
“It’s a public health good initiative, it’s not necessarily a commercial initiative,” said Berenberg Bank analyst Alistair Campbell. “Zika is something that has cropped up suddenly and may well dissipate, so there may not be a sustainable annual cohort of patients for vaccination.”

Still, the WHO and other public health authorities will be relieved that one of the world’s top drugmakers has pledged to work on a vaccine.

GlaxoSmithKline is also investigating Zika and a spokeswoman reiterated on Tuesday it is concluding feasibility studies to see if its vaccine technology might be suitable.

Ultimately, developing vaccines is a question of priorities, as evidenced by a patchy pattern of protection against a range of mosquito-borne viruses over the past 80 years.

There was early success with the development in 1938 of the first vaccine against yellow fever, which belongs to the same virus family as Zika. More recently, drugmakers have successfully developed shots against Japanese encephalitis and dengue.

The first dengue vaccine, from Sanofi, was approved in December – after 20 years’ work.

Work on other mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile fever and chikungunya is still underway.

One idea for tackling Zika is to adapt vaccine prototypes for dengue and West Nile, using them as a “platform” for the Zika virus. But even this approach would not be simple.

“For most viruses, there are lots of ways to make a somewhat effective vaccine, but the most effective vaccines target several parts of the virus in different ways,” said Neuman.

Multiple targets give the immune system more options, meaning more people are able to develop immunity. Yet an effective vaccine in most people may pack too much punch for others, with the potential to trigger birth defects.

“It’s big concern,” Neuman said. “And at this stage we just don’t know.”

With inputs from agencies

Indian-origin Briton deported from US due to ‘skin colour’

A UK-based Indian-origin man who had travelled to the US from London on a business trip has alleged that he was held for 13 hours by the immigration officials and was deported because of his skin colour.Amreet Surana, who works for a UK security company, was held in Detroit while trying to catch a connecting flight to the firm’s branch in Arizona. The 24-year-old said that he had the relevant Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) form, which allows citizens of 38 countries, including most of Europe, to travel to the US without a visa.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I believe I was profiled because of my appearance,” Surana told the BBC.The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has not specified the reason for Surana’s deportation but say that the ESTA did not guarantee a traveller would pass US border checks.Surana, from Leicestershire in the Midlands region of England, said that he was stopped when he landed at Detroit Airport from Heathrow on January 17 and then sent to be interviewed by immigration officials. He told them he worked as an international business manager for Nottingham-based Octavian and was visiting its US branch in Phoenix.”In the space of 20 minutes they concluded that I was an illegal immigrant working in America, denying a US citizen a job,” Surana claimed.”I was threatened with fraud, I was threatened with banishment from the US and imprisonment. You feel dehumanised to the extent that you feel like a piece of dirt on the floor,” he said.He was then allegedly held for 13 hours, during which time his photograph and fingerprints were taken, and his belongings searched. He was allowed to sleep in an unused interview room but was given little food or water, he claimed.”The whole experience was traumatic, frightening, embarrassing, stressing and haunting for me and my family. I have never had a criminal record. I have an education and an international executive job. I wish this on nobody,” he said.In a statement, CBP said that it “firmly denies any claims that a traveller can be subject to an admissibility interview because of racial profiling.””CBP is charged with inspecting all travellers regardless of nationality, race, sex, religion, faith or spiritual beliefs. Accusations of lengthy detentions by CBP are also incorrect. CBP officers offer food and water before boarding a return flight within eight hours of the traveller’s arrival into the United States,” the statement said.

Telling the world about Hinduism: Full text of Swami Vivekananda’s historic speech in 1893

Born on Jan 12, 1863 in an affluent Bengali family, Narendra Natha Datta was a precocious child who was what we call nowadays, an all-rounder, excelling in music, studies and athletics. His father Vishwanatha Datta was a well-known attorney. However, he took the spiritual route instead and introduced Hinduism to the world in 1893 when he spoke at the World’s Parliament of Religion (probably one of the most epic things any Indian has done abroad!). Here’s the full text of his opening and closing address: Opening Address – Chicago, Sept 11, 1893Sisters and Brothers of America,<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions, and I thank you in the name of millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects.My thanks, also, to some of the speakers on this platform who, referring to the delegates from the Orient, have told you that these men from far-off nations may well claim the honor of bearing to different lands the idea of toleration. I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance.We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to Southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation. I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings: “As the different streams having their sources in different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee.”The present convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself a vindication, a declaration to the world of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita: “Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to me.” Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth.They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honor of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.Concluding Address — Chicago, September 27, 1893 The World’s Parliament of Religions has become an accomplished fact, and the merciful Father has helped those who labored to bring it into existence, and crowned with success their most unselfish labor.My thanks to those noble souls whose large hearts and love of truth first dreamed this wonderful dream and then realized it. My thanks to the shower of liberal sentiments that has overflowed this platform. My thanks to this enlightened audience for their uniform kindness to me and for their appreciation of every thought that tends to smooth the friction of religions. A few jarring notes were heard from time to time in this harmony. My special thanks to them, for they have, by their striking contrast, made general harmony the sweeter.Much has been said of the common ground of religious unity. I am not going just now to venture my own theory. But if any one here hopes that this unity will come by the triumph of any one of the religions and the destruction of the others, to him I say, “Brother, yours is an impossible hope.” Do I wish that the Christian would become Hindu? God forbid. Do I wish that the Hindu or Buddhist would become Christian? God forbid.The seed is put in the ground, and earth and air and water are placed around it. Does the seed become the earth, or the air, or the water? No. It becomes a plant. It develops after the law of its own growth, assimilates the air, the earth, and the water, converts them into plant substance, and grows into a plant.Similar is the case with religion. The Christian is not to become a Hindu or a Buddhist, nor a Hindu or a Buddhist to become a Christian. But each must assimilate the spirit of the others and yet preserve his individuality and grow according to his own law of growth.If the Parliament of Religions has shown anything to the world, it is this: It has proved to the world that holiness, purity and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any church in the world, and that every system has produced men and women of the most exalted character.In the face of this evidence, if anybody dreams of the exclusive survival of his own religion and the destruction of the others, I pity him from the bottom of my heart, and point out to him that upon the banner of every religion will soon be written in spite of resistance: “Help and not fight,” “Assimilation and not Destruction,” “Harmony and Peace and not Dissension.”Source: Hinduism.About.com

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