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Exclusive | After Modi took office, there are fewer communal clashes, focus on development: Venkaiah Naidu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Has demonetization served its purpose of taking out black money from the system?Yes, it has done so. It is a vaccine against the scam and it has done the job.Critics say that a large amount of black money is abroad and not in India and all cash is not black.This is wrong to say that most of the black money is stashed abroad. You may recall that the first decision taken was constituting an SIT to find the black money stashed abroad. Secondly, we also came out with a bill in Parliament on the funds stashed abroad. Then we took initiative in G20 and followed it up by entering into the agreement on multiple avoidance tax treaty with Mauritius and Cyprus, which we then followed up with Switzerland and then with the US on FETA. PM has been consistent. PM also gave time to Indian people to declare the money. He has been doing things systematically. The black money is now in the open and this is the biggest achievement. Every rupee is being accounted for. There will be scrutiny.The scheme caused public inconvenience. Was it avoidable?It was not possible. It was like a cancer spread into the country. The entire system was affected. Serious action was required. In 1971, the former finance minister YB Chavan recommended demonetization. Justice Wanchoo committee also recommended it. The Congress didn’t act upon it. In the 1980s, the bill on benami transactions was passed but the government did not notify it. We did it. In 2012, the Supreme Court of India directed the government to form a mechanism to bring back black money. This government did it. UPA slept over it. One after another, there were reminders. This chemotherapy has been administered. Some people are complaining that it will lead to hair fall. So one has to choose whether you want hair fall or one wants to fall itself. People welcomed it as a gamechanger. People wanted drastic action and we have done it. We have 130 crore population. We had a parallel economy, drug mafia, a high number of fake notes and a neighbour that promotes terror etc. Everywhere black money was prevalent. We delivered a death blow and that is why there is so much hue and cry. I admit that there is an inconvenience. It might continue for few more days because people are used to cash. Arrangements could not be made because advance information could not be given. It is a temporary pain for long term gain.When will the caps go? When do we expect the liquidity to return to normal?PM has already assured that pain will be eased step by step.On this issue, the Opposition did not allow the Parliament to function. Do you expect demonetization to cast its shadow on the Budget Session as well?I hope it doesn’t happen. Parliament is to debate and discuss, which could not happen. At the end, the Opposition wanted a debate but early on they avoided the debate and disrupted (it). Then they went to the President. The government was willing and PM was ready to intervene and respond. In fact, the debate had started and Opposition had fielded Anand Sharma, Pramod Tiwari and Manmohan Singh. They fielded him as the third candidate but that is the choice of the party. Mayawati, Ram Gopal Yadav, Piyush Goel and others spoke, including me, but they changed the goal posts and asked for the Prime Minister. PM came but (they) didn’t allow the house to function. They lost a golden opportunity for a debate. It was a proper forum to highlight the issue, but they missed it.There is a perception that senior leaders of BJP and Congress don’t talk, unlike in the days when Vajpayee was Prime Minister?Everyone has a different style. Vajpayee’s style is different, Modi’s style is different and then Nehru, Indira and Rajiv had a different style. PM told the Opposition that we are ready for discussion but it didn’t happen. I know you have in mind what Advani ji said but I’m also sad and unhappy that Parliament wasn’t allowed to function. Then I always tell the Opposition, I propose, you oppose and let the House dispose.Rahul Gandhi has attacked PM on the issue of demonetization and Sahara papers. Your response?Rahul Gandhi is behaving in the most irresponsible and immature manner. My personal advice is that he should graduate himself, otherwise he would be failing himself and his party in the process. Personal criticism has been out of frustration. Congress has called Modi names. They called him maut ka saudagar, then Rahul Gandhi called him khoon ka dalali and then they called him Hitler, Mussolini, Gaddafi and former external affairs minister called him ‘impotent’. This has not helped them and their stature has gone down.The principal charge of the Opposition is that 50 odd families are being helped through the process of demonetization?Absurd and meaningless. They shouted these slogans in Parliament. Adani and Ambani. They said, “Modi hai hai”. I got up and told them, “Adani and Ambani, aapka meherbani”.Adani and Ambani were not born during Modi’s regime. They were born and brought up during Congress regime. Who are these 50 families and how did they prosper? 1.86 lakh crore of the bank money which has become NPA was all given during the Congress regime by these people. All the concession to Ambani and Adani was given during Congress regime. Now, in order to portray us as pro business and against poor people, they are shouting these slogans. We are different. We feel that both industry and agriculture is important to country’s interest. Each should be respected. (In) media, there is black sheep. Every sector has a black sheep. Take action against them. Vijay Mallya was given loans during Congress regime. The loans were restructured during Congress’ tenure. This will boomerang on them. These are cheap tactics.BJP in 2016 was able to make its presence felt in the Northeast by winning Assam. What are the prospects of the party in Uttar Pradesh?Absolutely. BJP is becoming a real all-India party. When I joined this party, people would make fun of me that I’m joining a Brahmin baniya, urban, North India party. Today, we have MPs throughout the country. We will win Karnataka. We have done well in Kerala. Our votes have gone up. In Tamil Nadu, we have prospects because of the vacuum and the demise of Amma. In UP, the stakes are high and we will come to Parliament. We got 71 seats in Lok Sabha. People have seen the performance of SP and BSP. The alternative is BJP.Doesn’t it worry you that demonetization might impact BJP adversely?That is what is being discussed by media. Going by the grassroots feedback, our appeal has increased. This is the feed back I’m getting from UP. Look at the result of Chandigarh. We got 20 seats. Chandigarh is a big city. People from UP and Bihar stay there. In Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan local body elections, we have done well. Even after demonetization.Prime Minister has invested his political capital in a scheme like demonetization. Do you think it was worth the risk?Yes, it was worth taking. We have not come to rule the country. We want to develop it. He is known for taking risks. He has taken it up as a challenge. He went for a surgical strike against our neighbour, who is interfering in our affairs. He is known for taking tough and bold decisions. He wants to improve the living condition of the people.Last year, the debate on nationalism and citizenship dominated universities and many areas of our society. In retrospect, how do you see it?What is wrong with discussing nationalism? Nation means people and people means all communities. It means all sections. It means Bharat Mata ki jai. It means Daliton ki jai, Christian ko jai, Jains ko jai, sabhi backwards ko jai. It encompasses every community. We should feel proud of it. Earlier, it was a curse to talk about nationalism. Now people feel proud and people talk about it. 122 countries have recognized yoga. There nothing wrong with it.Many scholars would say that there is a difference between ethnic and civic nationalism.Perverts. This because of 2000 years of foreign rule and Macaulay. This education system has gone into mind. The influence of socialist model has also affected us. People have change and the mandate has changed, but people in certain sections who were well entrenched, their minds have not changed. They have lost the battle but still holding key positions like media, also the so-called leftists and so-called progressives.There was a big clash in the Dhulagarh of West Bengal. Hundreds of shops were looted and people were thrown out of houses but so called secular media is neither reporting it nor discussing it. On the other hand, Zee TV has reported it prominently but an FIR has been launched against them. The so-called people sitting in the Lutyen’s Zone of Delhi, the big progressive people aren’t talking about it. Is talking about Hindus a crime in this country? This is perverted secularism and that is why people have rejected it. Secondly, the ultra-leftist people take up the issue of JNU and shout slogans about Hyderabad but society remains peaceful. Our image has improved. I don’t know why this perverted meaning is being given to Hindu. It is a way of life, not a religion. It is a way of living. We don’t want to discriminate against people on the basis of religion and race. After Modi’s coming in, there are less communal clashes and the focus is on development and good government. My opponents lost the elections badly and they have not been able to digest it. That is why they are attacking Modi personally and indulging in disinformation campaign.Lastly, did the surgical strike change the nature of play between Pakistan and India?I don’t think that Pakistan would understand but a message has gone. It was not for a political purpose but it became inevitable to show the world and to Pakistan that India is capable of retaliation. That has been done. It has raised the morale of the Indian armed forces and it has raised the morale of the Indian people living in India and also abroad.

Day after Modi jibe, Rawat orders probe into misappropriation of Uttarakhand disaster fund

Dehradun: Uttarakhand government on Wednesday instituted a judicial probe into the alleged misappropriation of disaster relief funds in the state after the 2013 natural calamity which claimed thousands of lives, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised the issue to lash out at the Harish Rawat dispensation for corruption.

Announcing the probe, Rawat also took a jibe at his predecessor Vijay Bahuguna, who is now with the BJP and was at the helm when disaster relief operations were carried out in the state. He said the saffron party should have conducted an in-house inquiry into the irregularities as the “entire family of executors of the alleged scam are now with them”.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat. PTIUttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat. PTI

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat. PTI

The Prime Minister had on Tuesday said at a rally in Dehradun that he was going to drag Uttarakhand out of the “bottomless pit of corruption in which it was languishing under the present regime”.

Rawat also took strong exception to Modi’s remarks that even a scooter with a capacity of five liters of oil could drink 35 liters of it, a reference to the alleged scam in relief funds.

The chief minister said though the alleged irregularities in the distribution of relief after 2013 tragedy had already been probed by a panel constituted by the state government, a judicial probe has been ordered into it after the Prime Minister’s remarks.

“Though a probe committee headed by the then chief secretary had found no veracity in the allegations and given a
clean chit to everyone involved in the massive relief operations, now that the PM has reiterated the charge we have asked retired justice MS Chauhan of Chandigarh High Court to conduct a probe into the alleged irregularities and find out if there was any negligence on part of officials or any misappropriation of disaster relief funds,” Rawat told reporters at a press conference.

Asked why he was not recommending a CBI probe into the allegations, Rawat said he had more faith in the judiciary and it was in his hands to order a judicial probe.

“It is now a general impression all over the country that the CBI is a tool in the hands of the Centre to settle scores with political adversaries. I have therefore more faith in our judicial institutions. Moreover ordering a judicial probe was in my hands whereas I would have had to look to central authorities for a CBI probe,” he said.

Rawat said calamities strike all of a sudden and quick decisions have to be taken to deal with the situation,
sometimes even at the cost of relaxing the rules and norms.

“However, we are ready for a judicial probe into any negligence on part of officials or misuse of funds,”  he said.

The chief minister also accused the BJP of trying to grab credit for the all-weather Chardham roads project inaugurated by the Prime Minister in Dehradun on Tuesday, saying the state government was very much part of the process of its launch.

“It is not BJP’s brainchild as the party is trying to make it appear. We had conceived the project and consistently worked towards its early launch,” he said.

However, he said he welcomed the launch of the project as the state stood to benefit from it in a big way “provided it is implemented in the manner promised”.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 16:15 IST

Jessica Lall case: AAP government to take a call on Manu Sharma’s parole

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi High Court on Monday asked the AAP government to decide in three days the parole plea of Manu Sharma, undergoing life term for killing model Jessica Lall in 1999. “The government of National Capital Territory of Delhi is directed to dispose of the application/representation of the petitioner (Sharma) within three days from the date of receipt of this order,” Justice Pratibha Rani said.The court said the order passed by the government should be communicated immediately to the petitioner and his counsel through the jail superintendent. The direction came on plea by Sharma, who sought three months’ parole to enable him appear for LLB second semester exams from December 31, attend his Personal Contact Programme and re-establish social ties.Advocate Amit Sahni, appearing for Sharma, said three month was required as the convict has to appear before the Registrar in Chandigarh on January 19 next year for registration of his marriage. Sahni said the government has not yet taken any decision on the application since October this year.Additional Standing Counsel Sanjay Lao, appearing for the government, then said the application filed by the petitioner seeking parole shall be disposed of expeditiously. The court noted that the parole application was sent to the competent authority only on December 7, which has not yet been decided.The convict, who has been given parole six times since September 2009, has completed a post-graduate diploma in Human Rights and is now pursuing a Bachelor’s in Law course from Annamalai University, Chennai.Sharma, son of former Union Minister Venod Sharma, was awarded life imprisonment by the high court in December 2006 for killing Jessica Lall in 1999. The trial court had acquitted him, but the Delhi High Court had reversed it and the Supreme Court had upheld the life sentence in April 2010. Lall was shot dead by Sharma after she had refused to serve him liquor at the Tamarind Court restaurant owned by socialite Bina Ramani at Qutub Colonnade in South Delhi’s Mehrauli on the night of April 30, 1999.

Protesting on 100 ft high mobile tower since last 50 days, Punjab teacher finally climbed down

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Around 50 days after he climbed a 100-ft high mobile tower near Punjab Chief Minister, Prakash Singh Badal’s residence in Chandigarh to demand a government job, Deepak Kumar, 35, an elementary school teacher from Fazilka in Punjab finally called off his protest and got down from the tower after he was given the appointment letter on Saturday.Kumar, 35, had climbed the tower in Sector 3, Chandigarh on November 3, along with another teacher, Rakesh, 31, from Gurdaspur and had been atop the tower ever since. Both the teachers had passed the Teachers Eligibility Test (TET) conducted by the state government to fill posts of elementary teachers for Class 1 to 5, but were not shortlisted for the jobs.Over 300 such teachers under the banner and ETT Pass Unemployed Teachers Union had been protesting in various parts of Punjab, including Bathinda and Jalalabad demanding jobs. However, the government asserted that TET was an eligibility test and did not guarantee a job. The posts which are left vacant are those of reserved categories including that of ex-servicemen quota and freedom fighters, but the protesting teachers demanded that the seats be de-reserved and they should be hired.As others continued the sit-in protest on ground, Kumar sustained on a minimal supply of food and water on the tower, and bore the winter chill as temperatures dropped during the night. He sat determined, not to get down until he was given the appointment letter. Various attempts by the police to convince him to get down had failed to deter him.On Saturday morning, when the government issued a joining letter, he agreed to climb down.”Deepak has called off the protest after he was given an appointment letter by the government. But, there has been no decision on the other 360 teachers who are still waiting for jobs. We have decided to continue our sit-in protest till our demands are met,” said ETT Union President, Amarjit Singh Kamboj from Bathinda. The teachers have been demanding that all the candidates who had qualified the TET during 2011-16 be given government jobs.

Major I-T raids since note ban: TN chief secy held; DRI seizes Rs 1.34 cr in new currency in Chennai

It has been more than a month since the Narendra Modi government decided to demonetise high-denomination notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 and even though queues outside banks and ATMs might have shortened from how they used to be, income tax officials have been busy with several high-profile seizures of cash and gold. Some of the seizures reflect poorly on the government — in a few instances new currency notes were seized as well which in turn raises questions about the BJP government’s decision.

Since 8 November, the Income Tax department has detected Over Rs 3,185 crore of undisclosed income, while seizing Rs 86 crore worth of new notes, as part of its country-wide operations against black money hoarders. Official sources said the taxman carried out a total of 677 search, survey and enquiry operations under the provisions of the Income Tax Act since the note ban was declared on 8 November, even as the department has issued over 3,100 notices to various entities on charges of tax evasion and hawala-like dealings.

The I-T department, they said, has also seized cash and jewellery worth over Rs 428 crore during the same period.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The agency has also referred over 220 cases to its sister agencies like the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to probe other financial crimes like money laundering, disproportionate assets and corruption as part of their legal mandate.

Here are some of the biggest raids conducted by tax sleuths since the high-profile cleanup of the Indian economy began:

Kolkata businessman raided

Kolkata businessman Parasmal Lodha was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate for allegedly converting over Rs 25 crore in demonetised currency notes into new ones, reports News18. According to the report, Lodha has links with industrialist J Shekhar Reddy, who was arrested along with his associate K Srinivasulu on Wednesday.

Chennai airport raid 

In the latest development, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence busted a hawala gang and seized Rs 1.34 Crore in Rs 2000 notes & $ 7000 from five persons in early morning hours, near Chennai airport, reported ANI.

Tamil Nadu chief secretary, his son under taxmen scanner

The house and office of Tamil Nadu chief secretary P Rama Mohana Rao was on Wednesday searched by Income Tax officials who claimed to have recovered Rs 30 lakh cash in new notes and five kgs of gold besides getting “disclosure” about Rs five crore of unaccounted income.

On Thursday, tax sleuths raided his son, Vivek Rao’s office in Chennai. Sources told NDTV that the taxmen are probing the source of funding for the six companies that Rao established in 2012.

Continuing raids in Chennai

On 20 November, taxmen raided the premises of a prominent engineering college after reports arose of the owner depositing Rs eight crore in unaccounted cash in the accounts of employees. IT officials later found that the amount was deposited in over 400 bank accounts.

According to The Indian Express, on 8 December, the IT department busted a money exchange racket in the Tamil Nadu capital, seizing Rs 90 crore in cash, of which 70 crore were in new notes, along with 100 kgs of gold.

The Income Tax officials on Monday seized demonetised currency notes worth Rs 10 crore and a few kilogrammes of diamond and gold jewellery during a raid in the house and showroom of a jeweller in Chennai.

BJP leader arrested with new notes

On 6 December, the Special Task Force arrested former West Bengal BJP leader Mahesh Sharma, after Rs 33 Lakh in form of Rs 2,000 notes was confiscated from him.

New notes found in ‘secret chamber’

In a surprise raid at a hawala operator’s residence in Hubballi led to the Karnataka and Goa taxmen unearthing Rs 5.7 crore in new cash, The Times of India reported. The stash of new cash, interestingly, was found in a secret chamber in the bathroom.

Post note ban Rs 30 crore seized in Maharashtra excluding Mumbai

Post demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, the Income Tax department seized about Rs 30 crore in cash, including Rs 12.32 crore in new bills, from Maharashtra, excluding Mumbai.

The cash was seized during 57 surveys and search operation carried out since the decommissioning of the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, I-T department said in a release in Mumbai.

CBI raid at Hyderabad post offices

The CBI conducted surprise raids after the note ban. During one such search at the Himayatnagar Post office, the invetigation agency found Rs 40 lakh. The raid took place on reports of irregularites in phasing out of old currency notes.

Bahubali producer raided in Hyderabad

The IT department raided the residences and offices of the producers of the multi-lingual blockbuster Bahubali, Business Standard reported. Shobu Yarlagadda and Prasad Devineni, the two producers, were at the recieving end of the taxmen, as Rs 60 crore worth of new notes were found during the raids.

G Janardhan reddy under IT scanner

On 21 November, within days after G Janardhan Reddy’s daughter’s lavish wedding grabbed headlines for its splendour, Income Tax Department raided the mining baron’s offices in Bellari.

A team of five I-T Department officials raided the former BJP lawmaker’s Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC) offices.

NGO linked to Pakistan singer raided

On November 18, Delhi police and the IT department raided the offices of a NGO, Routes of Roots, run by the managers of eminent Pakistani singer Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan, after it recieved reports of illegal conversion of black money.

IT raids in Chandigarh college

The Enforcement Directorate on Monday seized Rs 50 lakh cash, including Rs 46.80 lakh in new notes, after raids at the premises of an educational institute’s owner. Acting on a tip-off, the ED sleuths swooped down on the premises of the owner of Swami Devi Dyal Group of Institutes in Chandigarh.

Over two crores seized from Meerut engineer

Cash worth more than Rs 2.67 crore in both old and new notes, and 30 kilograms of silver were seized from an engineer, working in the irrigation department, by the Income tax sleuths on Tuesday.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 14:26 IST

Major I-T raids since demonetisation: ED arrests TN chief secy; DRI seizes Rs 1.34cr in new notes at Chennai airport

It has been more than a month since the Narendra Modi government decided to demonetise high-denomination notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 and even though queues outside banks and ATMs might have shortened from how they used to be, income tax officials have been busy with several high-profile seizures of cash and gold. Some of the seizures reflect poorly on the government — in a few instances new currency notes were seized as well which in turn raises questions about the BJP government’s decision.

Since 8 November, the Income Tax department has detected Over Rs 3,185 crore of undisclosed income, while seizing Rs 86 crore worth of new notes, as part of its country-wide operations against black money hoarders. Official sources said the taxman carried out a total of 677 search, survey and enquiry operations under the provisions of the Income Tax Act since the note ban was declared on 8 November, even as the department has issued over 3,100 notices to various entities on charges of tax evasion and hawala-like dealings.

The I-T department, they said, has also seized cash and jewellery worth over Rs 428 crore during the same period.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The agency has also referred over 220 cases to its sister agencies like the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to probe other financial crimes like money laundering, disproportionate assets and corruption as part of their legal mandate.

Here are some of the biggest raids conducted by tax sleuths since the high-profile cleanup of the Indian economy began:

Kolkata businessman raided

Kolkata businessman Parasmal Lodha was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate for allegedly converting over Rs 25 crore in demonetised currency notes into new ones, reports News18. According to the report, Lodha has links with industrialist J Shekhar Reddy, who was arrested along with his associate K Srinivasulu on Wednesday.

Chennai airport raid 

In the latest development, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence busted a hawala gang and seized Rs 1.34 Crore in Rs 2000 notes & $ 7000 from five persons in early morning hours, near Chennai airport, reported ANI.

Tamil Nadu chief secretary, his son under taxmen scanner

The house and office of Tamil Nadu chief secretary P Rama Mohana Rao was on Wednesday searched by Income Tax officials who claimed to have recovered Rs 30 lakh cash in new notes and five kgs of gold besides getting “disclosure” about Rs five crore of unaccounted income.

On Thursday, tax sleuths raided his son, Vivek Rao’s office in Chennai. Sources told NDTV that the taxmen are probing the source of funding for the six companies that Rao established in 2012.

Continuing raids in Chennai

On 20 November, taxmen raided the premises of a prominent engineering college after reports arose of the owner depositing Rs eight crore in unaccounted cash in the accounts of employees. IT officials later found that the amount was deposited in over 400 bank accounts.

According to The Indian Express, on 8 December, the IT department busted a money exchange racket in the Tamil Nadu capital, seizing Rs 90 crore in cash, of which 70 crore were in new notes, along with 100 kgs of gold.

The Income Tax officials on Monday seized demonetised currency notes worth Rs 10 crore and a few kilogrammes of diamond and gold jewellery during a raid in the house and showroom of a jeweller in Chennai.

BJP leader arrested with new notes

On 6 December, the Special Task Force arrested former West Bengal BJP leader Mahesh Sharma, after Rs 33 Lakh in form of Rs 2,000 notes was confiscated from him.

New notes found in ‘secret chamber’

In a surprise raid at a hawala operator’s residence in Hubballi led to the Karnataka and Goa taxmen unearthing Rs 5.7 crore in new cash, The Times of India reported. The stash of new cash, interestingly, was found in a secret chamber in the bathroom.

Post note ban Rs 30 crore seized in Maharashtra excluding Mumbai

Post demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, the Income Tax department seized about Rs 30 crore in cash, including Rs 12.32 crore in new bills, from Maharashtra, excluding Mumbai.

The cash was seized during 57 surveys and search operation carried out since the decommissioning of the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, I-T department said in a release in Mumbai.

CBI raid at Hyderabad post offices

The CBI conducted surprise raids after the note ban. During one such search at the Himayatnagar Post office, the invetigation agency found Rs 40 lakh. The raid took place on reports of irregularites in phasing out of old currency notes.

Bahubali producer raided in Hyderabad

The IT department raided the residences and offices of the producers of the multi-lingual blockbuster Bahubali, Business Standard reported. Shobu Yarlagadda and Prasad Devineni, the two producers, were at the recieving end of the taxmen, as Rs 60 crore worth of new notes were found during the raids.

G Janardhan reddy under IT scanner

On 21 November, within days after G Janardhan Reddy’s daughter’s lavish wedding grabbed headlines for its splendour, Income Tax Department raided the mining baron’s offices in Bellari.

A team of five I-T Department officials raided the former BJP lawmaker’s Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC) offices.

NGO linked to Pakistan singer raided

On November 18, Delhi police and the IT department raided the offices of a NGO, Routes of Roots, run by the managers of eminent Pakistani singer Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan, after it recieved reports of illegal conversion of black money.

IT raids in Chandigarh college

The Enforcement Directorate on Monday seized Rs 50 lakh cash, including Rs 46.80 lakh in new notes, after raids at the premises of an educational institute’s owner. Acting on a tip-off, the ED sleuths swooped down on the premises of the owner of Swami Devi Dyal Group of Institutes in Chandigarh.

Over two crores seized from Meerut engineer

Cash worth more than Rs 2.67 crore in both old and new notes, and 30 kilograms of silver were seized from an engineer, working in the irrigation department, by the Income tax sleuths on Tuesday.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 14:26 IST

TN chief secretary P Rama Mohana Rao raided: Here are the major I-T raids since demonetisation

It has been more than a month since the Narendra Modi government decided to demonetise high-denomination notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 and even though queues outside banks and ATMs might have shortened from how they used to be, income tax officials have been busy with several high-profile seizures of cash and gold. Some of the seizures reflect poorly on the government — in a few instances new currency notes were seized as well which in turn raises questions about the BJP government’s decision.

Since 8 November, the Income Tax department has detected Over Rs 3,185 crore of undisclosed income, while seizing Rs 86 crore worth of new notes, as part of its country-wide operations against black money hoarders. Official sources said the taxman carried out a total of 677 search, survey and enquiry operations under the provisions of the Income Tax Act since the note ban was declared on 8 November, even as the department has issued over 3,100 notices to various entities on charges of tax evasion and hawala-like dealings.

The I-T department, they said, has also seized cash and jewellery worth over Rs 428 crore during the same period.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The agency has also referred over 220 cases to its sister agencies like the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to probe other financial crimes like money laundering, disproportionate assets and corruption as part of their legal mandate.

Here are some of the biggest raids conducted by tax sleuths since the high-profile cleanup of the Indian economy began:

Kolkata businessman raided

Kolkata businessman Parasmal Lodha was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate for allegedly converting over Rs 25 crore in demonetised currency notes into new ones, reports News18. According to the report, Lodha has links with industrialist J Shekhar Reddy, who was arrested along with his associate K Srinivasulu on Wednesday.

Tamil Nadu chief secretary, his son under taxmen scanner

The house and office of Tamil Nadu chief secretary P Rama Mohana Rao was on Wednesday searched by Income Tax officials who claimed to have recovered Rs 30 lakh cash in new notes and five kgs of gold besides getting “disclosure” about Rs five crore of unaccounted income.

On Thursday, tax sleuths raided his son, Vivek Rao’s office in Chennai. Sources told NDTV that the taxmen are probing the source of funding for the six companies that Rao established in 2012.

Continuing raids in Chennai

On 20 November, taxmen raided the premises of a prominent engineering college after reports arose of the owner depositing Rs eight crore in unaccounted cash in the accounts of employees. IT officials later found that the amount was deposited in over 400 bank accounts.

According to The Indian Express, on 8 December, the IT department busted a money exchange racket in the Tamil Nadu capital, seizing Rs 90 crore in cash, of which 70 crore were in new notes, along with 100 kgs of gold.

The Income Tax officials on Monday seized demonetised currency notes worth Rs 10 crore and a few kilogrammes of diamond and gold jewellery during a raid in the house and showroom of a jeweller in Chennai.

BJP leader arrested with new notes

On 6 December, the Special Task Force arrested former West Bengal BJP leader Mahesh Sharma, after Rs 33 Lakh in form of Rs 2,000 notes was confiscated from him.

New notes found in ‘secret chamber’

In a surprise raid at a hawala operator’s residence in Hubballi led to the Karnataka and Goa taxmen unearthing Rs 5.7 crore in new cash, The Times of India reported. The stash of new cash, interestingly, was found in a secret chamber in the bathroom.

Post note ban Rs 30 crore seized in Maharashtra excluding Mumbai

Post demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, the Income Tax department seized about Rs 30 crore in cash, including Rs 12.32 crore in new bills, from Maharashtra, excluding Mumbai.

The cash was seized during 57 surveys and search operation carried out since the decommissioning of the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, I-T department said in a release in Mumbai.

CBI raid at Hyderabad post offices

The CBI conducted surprise raids after the note ban. During one such search at the Himayatnagar Post office, the invetigation agency found Rs 40 lakh. The raid took place on reports of irregularites in phasing out of old currency notes.

Bahubali producer raided in Hyderabad

The IT department raided the residences and offices of the producers of the multi-lingual blockbuster Bahubali, Business Standard reported. Shobu Yarlagadda and Prasad Devineni, the two producers, were at the recieving end of the taxmen, as Rs 60 crore worth of new notes were found during the raids.

G Janardhan reddy under IT scanner

On 21 November, within days after G Janardhan Reddy’s daughter’s lavish wedding grabbed headlines for its splendour, Income Tax Department raided the mining baron’s offices in Bellari.

A team of five I-T Department officials raided the former BJP lawmaker’s Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC) offices.

NGO linked to Pakistan singer raided

On November 18, Delhi police and the IT department raided the offices of a NGO, Routes of Roots, run by the managers of eminent Pakistani singer Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan, after it recieved reports of illegal conversion of black money.

IT raids in Chandigarh college

The Enforcement Directorate on Monday seized Rs 50 lakh cash, including Rs 46.80 lakh in new notes, after raids at the premises of an educational institute’s owner. Acting on a tip-off, the ED sleuths swooped down on the premises of the owner of Swami Devi Dyal Group of Institutes in Chandigarh.

Over two crores seized from Meerut engineer

Cash worth more than Rs 2.67 crore in both old and new notes, and 30 kilograms of silver were seized from an engineer, working in the irrigation department, by the Income tax sleuths on Tuesday.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 12:56 IST

PM attributes Chandigarh civic poll win to ‘good governance’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday attributed the victory of Akali Dal-BJP combine in Chandigarh municipal polls to “good governance” and thanked people and workers of the two parties for it.”Thank you to the people of Chandigarh for supporting @BJP4India & @Akali_Dal_. This shows the importance people attach to good governance,” he tweeted. “Congratulations to BJP & Akali Dal Karyakartas for working with remarkable determination on the ground and serving people. @BJP4Chandigarh,” Modi said. Akali Dal and BJP got a shot in the arm ahead of Punjab assembly polls as the alliance defeated Congress in the Chandigarh municipal corporation elections in which demonetisation had emerged as a key issue.BJP won in 20 wards out of 26, its ally SAD bagged one, four wards fell in the kitty of Congress and one ward was won by an Independent in the elections held on Sunday, an election office spokesman said.Congress had majority in the Municipal Corporation after the previous three elections. However, in the mayoral election in January this year, the BJP candidate had won. Today’s result is the biggest ever victory for any single political party in the body since its inception in 1996.

This is just the trailer: CM Badal thrilled with ‘historic’ Chandigarh win for SAD-BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today described the SAD-BJP alliance’s victory in the city municipal corporation election as “historic” and said it will prove as a “trendsetter” for ensuring back to back victory for the alliance for the third consecutive term in the upcoming state Assembly polls. In a shot in the arm for BJP and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) ahead of Punjab Assembly polls, their alliance today defeated Congress in Chandigarh municipal corporation election in which demonetization had emerged as a key issue.Badal termed the win as a “trailer”, and said the complete film would emerge after the “spectacular victory” of the alliance in ensuing Assembly polls.In a statement issued here today, the Akali patriarch said, “This result (MC polls) would prove as a trendsetter for ensuring back to back victory of the alliance for the third consecutive term in the state.”Badal said the massive mandate in favour of “pro-people policies and solid performance” of BJP at the Centre under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has silenced the opposition for unleashing “malicious propaganda to defame the government.” An exuberant Badal congratulated all the workers and leaders of the SAD-BJP alliance and said the collective would repeat the feat in the 2017 Assembly polls.

Chandigarh poll results show people are in favour of demonetization: Rajyavardhan Rathore

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Opposition charges that demonetization has caused substantial public inconvenience and not delivered on the economic front as argued by the government. How to do you see the charge?See the amount of corruption which existed in the country. See the position we were ranked. Everything was being affected by the parallel economy which was running, which included getting into educational institutions. The taxation circle was small and a large number of people weren’t paying taxes. The question is whether we want short term effort, which already existed. This measure is for a larger majority and that’s why it’s getting the support from people.When do you expect the public inconvenience to end? Because the economic measure has acquired a political life.Prime Minister has sought 50 days. Things are easing down. ATM machines have been tweaked. Liquidity has increased. I understand that there is anxiety in the people but a strong decision has been taken. The issue is that people are also hoarding currency but I’m sure that this anxiety will and should ease, and there is no restriction in spending in cash. Off course, we are supporting transactions online but cash use is not prohibited. Those who cannot handle mobile phones, people can spend cash. Worldwide there is a balance between cash and digital transactions. We were spending 80% in cash in India and we would like to change it.A lot of tweaking has taken place. Is it because the government wasn’t prepared or new issues and realities came in and the Centre had to respond to it?The preparation was done but it has been a mix of both. Be it business or military, you prepare but sometimes you need to change things. I admit that it was a mix of both. You need to be flexible. Eventually, you have to see how the situation is so that people aren’t burdened and if you find that people are trying to cut corners, then system has to respond to it. The objective isn’t politics but strength to the country.Demonetisation as an economic exercise has acquired political repercussion. Do you expect it to impact forthcoming assembly elections?My constituency is Jaipur Rural. I meet people every day and I’m telling you that people are very happy. Look at the results which came from Chandigarh. Out of overall 26 seats, we won more than 20. Look at the results. We have done well. Such decisions aren’t done for political goals. A decision like this impacts the country in many ways and is meant for changing the direction of the country so that things change. Like the Prime Minister said the other day, a time should come when it shouldn’t take more than 6 minutes for people to take loans from the bank. Once things are accounted, then what is the worry of accounting for things? He has already said that there will be no witch hunt and people can adopt new methods. It will ensure that benefits pass down to the last man standing, like provident fund.Opposition says that methods have become very intrusive, like now Rs 5,000 and above can only be deposited once without scrutiny?A very small fraction is trying to subvert the mechanism whereas the larger majority isn’t doing so. The only thing which is being done is that people are being asked to deposit cash in one go and not in batches and it has to be communicated to people fairly.Are you saying that the step will help eventually, like in lessening the queue?The point is that it is being done, that we have an India which is digital and accounted for.

Justice JS Khehar appointed 44th Chief Justice of India by President Pranab Mukherjee

Justice JS Khehar is set be the next Chief Justice of India after President Pranab Mukherjee formally gave his nod to his appointment. He will succeed CJI TS Thakur as the 44th Chief Justice of India after the latter demits office on 3 January.

The Chief Justice of India, the highest authority in the judiciary, is traditionally appointed on seniority basis, on the recommendation of the incumbent Chief Justice. As Justice Khehar was the senior-most judge after the Chief Justice TS Thakur, his name was recommended to the government on the principle of seniority. As Chief Justice, Khehar will have a tenure of over seven months as he would be retiring on 28 August, 2017.

Justice Khehar in a file image. Twitter/ @airnewsalerts

Justice Khehar in a file image. Twitter/ @airnewsalerts

Justice Khehar will be the first Sikh to occupy the highest office. However, as a report in Live Mint states, his appointment assumes importance as doubts were raised that Justice Khehar might be superseded by the government. A group of prominent lawyers had, earlier this month, urged the government to overlook Justice Khehar’s seniority, citing his verdict on the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) case.

Justice JS Khehar was heading the five-judge constitution bench that junked the National Judicial Appointments Commission for the appointment of judges as unconstitutional holding that it intruded upon the independence of judiciary.

Incidentally, Justice Khehar also presided over the five judges’ constitution bench that had quashed the then Arunachal Pradesh Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa’s decision to advance the assembly session from January 2016 to December 2015, as it directed restoration of ousted Chief Minister Nabam Tuki’s government. But subsequent political developments in Arunachal Pradesh took a different course.

Having done LLB and LLM from Punjab University, Chandigarh, Justice Khehar was awarded gold medal for securing first position in the university LLM examination.

Before being elevated as a judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Chandigarh on February 8, 1999, Justice Khehgar had practised before it as well as the Himachal Pradesh High Court and the Supreme Court. He was twice appointed as the acting Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court from 2 August, 2008, and again from 17 November, 2009.

He was elevated as Chief Justice of Uttrakhand High Court on 29 November, 2009. Later, he was transferred as Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court.

Justice Khehar was elevated as judge of the Supreme Court on 13 September, 2011.

First Published On : Dec 19, 2016 21:46 IST

Indian Railways cancels 78 trains till 15 Jan due to fog in northern India

New Delhi: Railways have decided to cancel 78 trains till 15 January next year in view of dense fog in many parts of north India reducing visibility.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Sealdha Express, North East Express, Begumpura Express, Lucknow Double-Decker Express, Gorakhpur Weekly Express, Jaipur-Chandigarh Express and Mau Express are among 78 trains which will remain cancelled till 15 January, said a senior Railway Ministry official.

Out of 78, there are 34 train services in Northern zone which include Chandigarh-Amritsar Express, Rohtak Intercity, Varanasi-Dehradun Express, Lichchavi Express and Unchahar Express which will remain non-operational till mid-January next year.

“Since the visibility has been reduced due to dense fog situation, we have taken precautionary measures by announcing cancellation of these trains in advance,” he said.

Regular announcements are being made to inform passengers about the train positions. Help desks have also been set up at various stations to guide people to avail train service for their destinations.

Loco drivers have been given strict instructions to drive slowly during the foggy weather.

About 34 Delhi-bound trains are running late by several hours on Monday due to bad weather.

First Published On : Dec 19, 2016 15:40 IST

Dense fog disrupts rail traffic in Delhi, Punjab, Haryana

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A thick blanket of fog today engulfed most of parts of Punjab and Haryana, affecting rail and road traffic, even as minimum temperatures remained few notches below normal in some areas of the region.Foggy weather disrupted train operations in Allahabad. Passengers were forced to alter their plans due to delayed and cancelled trains.In Delhi, 52 trains were delayed and 12 rescheduled due to prevailing fog conditions.Narnaul in Haryana was the coldest place in both states as it braved minimum a temperature of 4 degrees Celsius, two notches below normal, a MeT Department official said. Hisar and Karnal also witnessed the drop in mercury by registering minimum temperatures at 5.3 and 5.2 degrees Celsius respectively. Ambala recorded the minimum of 8 degrees Celsius, one notch above normal, the official said. Chandigarh registered its minimum temperature at 6.7 degrees Celsius, the Department said.In Punjab, Amritsar’s minimum was 6 degrees Celsius, while minimum temperature in Ludhiana and Patiala was 5.4 degrees Celsius and 6.7 degrees Celsius, respectively.Thick blanket of fog which engulfed most parts of both states hampered air, rail and road traffic in the region because of poor visibility, officials said. The weatherman predicted moderate to dense fog likely at many places of Punjab and Haryana in the next 48 hours

Punjab: Parkash Singh Badal turns 89, becomes oldest serving Indian CM

Chandigarh: The country’s oldest serving Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal, turned 89 years old on Thursday.

File photo of Parkash Singh Badal. AP

File photo of Parkash Singh Badal. AP

Despite his age, Badal accepted greetings from his family members and close aides and was all set to address a big rally of the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Punjab government in Moga district later in the day.

Born on 8 December, 1927, at Abul Khurana village near Malout in southwest Punjab, Badal has been Chief Minister five times — 1970-71, 1977-1980, 1997-2002, 2007-2012 and 2012 onwards. He has been in power in Punjab continuously since March 2007. He was briefly a Union minister in 1977 in the Morarji Desai government.

Hailing from a simple agricultural background, Badal forayed into politics by getting elected as a sarpanch (village headman) in 1947, the year the country won its Independence.

He was first elected to the Punjab assembly in 1957 on a Congress party ticket. After leaving the Congress soon after, Badal ended up opposing the Congress policies and governments.

Well-known for his witty one-liners and memory of people and events, Badal, who was conferred the Padma Vibhushan, the country’s second-highest civilian honour, in 2015 by the Modi government, has dominated Punjab’s political and Sikh religious affairs in nearly 70 years of public life.

With assembly elections in Punjab to be held early next year, Badal is now in full election mode and is even telling the electorate that their votes “will give him another 10 years of life”.

Badal’s son Sukhbir Singh Badal is the Punjab deputy chief minister and Shiromani Akali Dal president. Badal’s wife, Surinder Kaur, died in 2011 of cancer.

Badal’s close family members are all in the government. Besides Sukhbir holding two important assignments in the government and the party, Badal’s daughter-in-law Harsimrat Badal is the Union Minister for Food Processing. His son-in-law Adaish Pratap Singh Kairon is a cabinet minister in the Punjab government while Harsimrat’s younger brother, Bikram Singh Majithia, is also a powerful cabinet minister.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 12:41 IST

RRB NTPC 2016 exam: Check rrbbnc.gov.in for results

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Railway Recruitment Board has announced the results for the RRB NTPC 2016 examination. Around three lakh candidates have been cleared for the second stage examination scheduled to be held in January/ February.Login here to view your details of result of 1st Stage Examination (CBT) of NTPC (Graduate) posts against CEN No. 03/2015. Enter your registration number as your user id and your date of birth (dd/mm/yyyy) as the user password. You can also check out the region wise results on the following websites: Ahmedabad – rrbahmedabad.gov.in Ajmer – rrbajmer.gov.in. Allahabad – rrbald.gov.in Bangalore – rrbbnc.gov.in Bhopal – rrbbpl.nic.in Bhubaneshwar – rrbbbs.gov.in Bilaspur – rrbbilaspur.gov.in Chandigarh – rrbcdg.gov.in Chennai – rrbchennai.gov.in Gorakhpur – rrbgkp.gov.in Guwahati – rrbguwahati.gov.in Jammu – rrbjammu.nic.in Kolkata – rrbkolkata.gov.inMalda – rrbmalda.gov.inMumbai – rrbmumbai.gov.in Muzaffarpur – rrbmuzaffarpur.gov.in Patna – rrbpatna.gov.in Ranchi – rrbranchi.org Secunderabad – rrbsecunderabad.nic.in Siliguri – rrbsiliguri.org Trivandrum – rrbthiruvananthapuram.gov.in

Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar: What you should know about the new Chief Justice of India

Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, who led the five-judge constitution bench in the Supreme Court which had struck down the controversial National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC) Act for the appointment of judges, was on Tuesday recommended as the 44th Chief Justice of India.

Chief Justice of India TS Thakur on Tuesday wrote a letter recommending the name of Khehar, who is the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court to be his successor.

First CJI from the Sikh community

Justice Khehar, 64, will be the first Chief Justice from the Sikh community and he will succeed CJI Thakur who will be demitting office on 3 January, 2017.

File image of . Twitter @AarushianaSinghFile image of . Twitter @AarushianaSingh

File image of Justice Khehar. Twitter @AarushianaSingh

Having received his LLB and LLM from Punjab University, Chandigarh, Khehar was awarded Gold Medal for securing the first position in the university in LLM examination.

Before being elevated as a judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court at Chandigarh on 8 February, 1999, Khehar had practised before it as well as the Himachal Pradesh High Court and the Supreme Court. He was twice appointed as the acting chief justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court from 2 August, 2008, and again from 17 November, 2009.

He was elevated as chief justice of Uttarakhand High Court on 29 November, 2009. Later he was transferred as chief justice of Karnataka High Court. He was elevated as judge of the Supreme Court on 13 September, 2011.

According to a report in Hindustan Times, lawyers and former judges of the Punjab and Haryana high court have described him as a hardworking and competent lawyer, a self-made person, who was destined to scale new heights.

Khehar, who will be sworn in on 4 January, will hold the tenure for over seven months until 27 August, 2017.

NJAC

Considered to be a strong judge, Khehar presided over the constitution bench that junked the NJAC as unconstitutional holding that it intruded upon the independence of the judiciary.

The government had sought to replace the existing collegium system for the appointment of judges to higher judiciary by the NJAC mechanism through the enactment of Constitution’s 99th amendment that had put in place NJAC and the NJAC Act, 2014.

President’s Rule, Subrata Roy and more

Khehar also presided over the five judges’ constitution bench that had quashed the then Arunachal Pradesh Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa’s decision to prepone the assembly session from January 2016 to December as it directed the restoration of ousted Chief Minister Nabam Tuki’s government.

But subsequent political developments in Arunachal Pradesh took a different course.

He was also a part of the bench which sent Sahara chief Subrata Roy to jail while hearing the matter relating to the refund of money invested by people in his two companies.

Khehar also headed a bench which recently gave a significant verdict holding that the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ has to be made applicable to those engaged as daily wagers, casual and contractual employees who perform the same duties as the regulars.

Turf war between the judiciary and the executive

While the turf war between the judiciary and the executive over the appointment of judges for higher judiciary has intensified, Khehar on the occasion of Constitution Day on 26 November had responded to the tirade from Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi by saying that the judiciary was working within its “lakshman rekha“.

“Judiciary is mandated to shield all persons, citizens and non-citizens alike, against discrimination and abuse of State power. Liberty, equality and dignity of the citizen have flourished substantially in India due to the pro-active role of the judiciary in the country,” he had said.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 12:47 IST

Haryana board makes Aadhaar mandatory for Class 10 and 12 exams

Thu, 1 Dec 2016-10:53pm , Chandigarh , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Board of School Education Haryana (BSEH) has made it mandatory for students of Class 10 and 12 to have Aadhaar card while applying for the 2017 examination. The candidates will benefit from the move in many ways.The use of Aadhaar will prevent forgery of certificates and impersonation cases, and ensure that the candidates’ details are complete and accurate, Chairman, BSEH, Jagbir Singh said in a statement on Thursday. Aadhaar was used in the examination process earlier too, though it was not mandatory, Singh said.The Board has taken several steps to ensure smooth implementation of the decision. Schools which did not provide Aadhaar of candidates earlier may now fill up the relevant column in the checklist sent by the Board, he said.

Punjab polls: AAP pick from Bhoa alleges party demanded Rs 1 crore after announcing his candidature

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Another controversy stares AAP in the face amidst ongoing campaigning for the crucial Punjab polls. According to a Times of India report, Vinod Kumar, the party’s official candidate from Bhoa has alleged that two senior party leaders, Sanjay Singh and Durgesh Pathak, asked him to pay Rs 1 crore following the announcement of his candidature.Kumar said that he was asked to pay Rs 1 crore to fund his campaign. He was told that if he could not pay, he would be given Rs 30 lakh to hold a press conference to announce his withdrawal from the race. “I was called on November 12, at a house in Sector 18, Chandigarh. AAP leaders Sanjay Singh and Durgesh Pathak told me that I was not campaigning properly. They told me to get Rs 1 crore deposited. I told them that AAP was fighting against corruption and our agenda was to campaign and contest polls without spending money,” Kumar told the daily.Kumar who has worked as a journalist and is a registered medical practitioner (RMP), also alleged that Sanjay Singh made him speak to Kejriwal about paying Rs 1 crore. He says that the AAP CM asked him to do as Singh instructed him. “No official candidate of a party makes such charges and this is something very serious. I come from the border area and we have a tradition of fighting the enemy countries. We don’t have so much money to pay the party,” Kumar said.Denying the allegations, the party said that Kumar’s candidature was set to be withdrawn as his campaigning had not been up to the mark and that this was Kumar’s way of forestalling it.AAP in-charge of Punjab affairs Sanjay Singh said that Kumar was dishonest about his campaigning numbers. Singh said that Kumar was given an ultimate to either run an aggressive campaign or withdraw within a week. He also said that the party supported poll candidates coming from humble backgrounds with their campaigning.Singh denied the allegation that Kumar was made to speak with Kejriwal.

Punjab election: Bains brothers ally with AAP to revive state ‘out of drugs & bankruptcy’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bains brothers, who were earlier part of the Navjot Singh Sidhu’s Awaaz-e-Punjab front, said on Monday that they are entering into an alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to save the state.Simarjit Bains told ANI that they are joining the AAP to revive Punjab, which has been destroyed by the Badals and the Congress. “All details pertaining to alliance will be told in a press conference which will be held at the Press Club Chandigarh. The Congress and SAD have caused a lot of harm to Punjab. Our main issue is to revive Punjab out of drugs and bankruptcy. This time a government of leader will not be formed, but a government of people will be formed,” said Simarjit.Echoing similar sentiments, Balwinder Singh Bains said that he was joining Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal-led party to pull Punjab out of miseries like drug menace. ‘The biggest issue is to save Punjab. This alliance has happened to save Punjab. This alliance has come into existence to pull Punjab out of drug menace. The country’s biggest issue at this time is to save Punjab,” he said.Simarjit and Balwinder, who have announced their resignation as MLAs during the special session of the assembly on November 16 in Chandigarh over the river water-sharing issue, are expected to announce their move in a press conference in Chandigarh later this afternoon.

We can work towards ‘Make in India & Make with India’: Israel President Reuven Rivlin

Chandigarh: India and Israel could work more towards ‘Make in India and Make with India’ together which can bring “magic to the world”, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said on Sunday.

The President further said he fell in love with the word ‘jugaad’ when he visited India, saying “jugaad is the way we invent and the way we work”.

Rivlin was addressing the gathering in Chandigarh at CII Agro Tech 2016, where he was the Guest of Honour at the four-day event.

President Pranab Mukherjee, who was present on this occasion, formally inaugurated an international agriculture fair ‘CII Agro Tech 2016’.

“It is no wonder this friendship between India and Israel and between two countries is so strong, already amazing,” the Israeli President said.

Reuven Rivlin with PM Modi. PTIReuven Rivlin with PM Modi. PTI

Reuven Rivlin with PM Modi. PTI

“I believe that together we can do even more to make in India and Make with India. We can make between future for next generation and we can bring magic to the world,” he said.

Sharing his love for the word ‘juggad’, the Israeli President said he “quickly fell” in the love with this word which means a clever solution borne out of trouble.

“During my visit to India I learnt a new word called ‘jugaad’. For my friends from Israel, I would say jugaad means a clever solution borne out of trouble. If you know Israel, you can guess how quickly I fell in love with this word jugaad,” he said.

“Just imagine, a small nation spread across the world, suffering from being different, looking for a peace…the state of Israel is jugaad. Jugaad is the way you think, way we invent, the way we work,” he said.

The Israeli President who arrived on 14 November on an eight-day visit to the country said India taught Israel that
food security was the greater challenge.

“We always have been concerned about security and home land security but India taught us is that the greater challenge in today’s world is food security.

“And this is why we are here today. …We both know building a home means being able to provide food for your family and building a nation means to being able to produce and provide food for all, now and next generation. It is about taking care your home and your people,” he said.

“Food security is not only about surviving and it is about feeding,” he said.

The President also shared details about his visit to Gharaunda in Karnal on 18 November where Centre of Excellence for vegetables had been set up with the assistance of Israel.

“Few days ago, I visited Karnal where India and Israel is developing a new kind of cherry tomatoes which are Israeli invention…they are doing magic together.

“When Indian experts and Israeli experts place solar panels on the roof of trucks so that solar energy will keep the food inside the truck fresh and prevent food waste, they are doing magic together.”

Where Israeli companies and Indian farmers create professional and financial network to help farmers, they are doing magic together, said the President.

Rivlin said Israeli companies are bringing their experience and technology to this partnership.

First Published On : Nov 20, 2016 18:20 IST

Demonetisation: Arvind Kejriwal must end noisy street politics and return to work

I don’t care about Arvind Kejriwal — and it doesn’t matter for me at all even if he is a “chief minister” — as a politician. A veteran (former) academician who watched his theatrics since the days of the ill-fated India Against Corruption told me that the Aam Aadmi Party was “the most dangerous infection on India’s body politic and society”.

Think about it: his first stint as Delhi’s chief minister was remarkable for setting the ignoble record of a sitting chief minister taking to the streets like an irresponsible anarchist, his aide-de-camp Somnath Bharti’s infamous “midnight urine test”, and in general, doing everything but discharging his constitutional duty of governance. Small wonder then that he decamped in haste, earning widespread public ire as a “bhagoda“.

And as we see, even in his second innings, he’s back on the street.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee join hands at a mass rally against demonetisation of currency notes in New Delhi. PTI

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee join hands at a mass rally against demonetisation of currency notes in New Delhi. PTI

It takes hard work, patience, and calmness, and an ability to deal with, sustain and digest monotony, to govern. The easy route is what Kejriwal is familiar with: constitutional nihilism (for example, his notorious confrontation with Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung which could have been avoided), campaigns targeting the Prime Minister, maintaining radio silence on the record number of AAP MLAs being arrested and disqualified and the “internal inquiries” that have unfailingly absolved even the most criminal of his party’s elements.

Indeed, when you get a nihilist as a chief minister, your state plunges into smog-encompassed chaos. The October cover story of Open magazine, dedicated to the “unravelling of Kejriwal” exposes how he has almost turned Delhi into a surveillance state. The story also claims that AAP “made possible a near impossibility in traditional Indian politics: it drastically lowered old entry barriers to parliamentary politics that had been raised over the decades by parties that tended to handpick poll contestants either from prominent families or party cadres”.

But the route that AAP took to lower “old entry barriers” to politics was marked at every step by cynicism and flagrancy: it continues to regard itself above the Constitution. No wonder that it continues to attract disgruntled elements from across the spectrum comprising of existing political parties, wheeler-dealers, journalists, and NGO do-gooders. Indeed, it’s reasonable to say that Kejriwal’s style of operation resembles that of the head of an NGO-in-perpetual-protest.

This style of operation initially helped him score spectacularly but this is a gift that stops giving sooner than later as he must’ve learnt (or has he?) when he launched his tirade against PM Modi’s demonetisation. This latest version of anti-Modi stance truly marks the moment “when life came to a full circle for Kejriwal”: the doughty anti-corruption crusader has now transformed himself as a champion of anti anti-corruption. And his newfound best comrade-in-arms in this endeavour is Mamata Banerjee, the “first angry respondent” against Modi’s demonetisation announcement. Together, they have embarked on a “historic fight” against the move.

Indeed, with good reason, because both have much to worry about.

The PM’s demonetisation exercise is believed to have choked the supply of illegal money in the upcoming elections. To give only the latest instance, we can examine some of the deadly revelations (also see this Firstpost story for example) emanating from West Bengal’s Malda district as a great hub of fake currency and black money, which has now been rendered useless. Needless to say, this will have an impact on future elections, not just in West Bengal but across India. Indeed, it’s an open secret that the use of illicit money to bribe voters has almost become de rigeur in Indian politics.

Former chief election commissioner, SY Qureshi reportedly said last week that political parties start mobilising money months before elections are announced. However, “As elections are due in early 2017, the money must have begun to circulate already,” he said. But a bribe of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, even if distributed already, will be of little use now.

But Kejriwal’s woes run far deeper. In July this year, the Income Tax department raided the house of AAP MLA Kartar Singh Tanwar and found Rs 130 crore worth of unaccounted money. After smarting under this for a month, Kejriwal hit back with a promise that he would “put an end to ‘raid raj'”.

One could also cite the cases of AAP MLAs Amanatullah Khan (his office was raided by the anti-corruption officials with regard to a recruitment scam), MLA Gulab Singh and MLA Ritu Raj Govind. Helpfully, The Indian Express has provided a complete (and perhaps growing) list of all AAP MLAs “on the wrong side of the law”.

Meanwhile, the fleetingly short public memory — the same public which was once seduced by his only poll promise of sending “all corrupt politicians to jail” — has helped ensure that his promise lies permanently in cold storage. The most recent instance of Kejriwal trying to pull his cleaner-than-thou act on Captain Amarinder Singh on Twitter grandly exploded on his face.

But then even that doesn’t seem like a cause for Kejriwal’s current worry. Could it be that that Kejriwal and his outfit have run out of cash? Why else would AAP pull out of the upcoming Mumbai and Chandigarh civic polls within a week of demonetisation?

And even as I write this, Daily Mail has reported an explosive story captioned “Black Day for Kejriwal” in which, among other things, Kejriwal’s ex-colleague blogged about his former boss’ relationship with a “colleague 16-years younger”. However, Firstpost cannot independently verify the claims made in the blog. On the same day, UNI reported that Rajya Sabha MP Subhash Chandra has sued Kejriwal for criminal defamation.

And if this was not enough, in a classic case of fools rushing in where angels fear to tread, Kejriwal’s foolhardy move of trying to instigate people against demonetisation (watch this video) has earned him the spontaneous public sloganeering of “Kejriwal chor hai” (Kejriwal is a thief).

That should ideally tell him a thing or two but then he epitomises the classic proverb that says that you cannot wake up a man who pretends he’s fast asleep.

The author’s views are personal.

First Published On : Nov 19, 2016 16:47 IST

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin arrives with big team, bigger agenda

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Israeli President Reuven Rivlin arrived here on Monday on an eight-day visit. He is accompanied by a large delegation of businessmen, academics and defence honchos. While nine MoUs on education tie-ups have been lined up, there will be discussions on areas of cooperation in agriculture and water. Confirming that Israel has plans for fresh joint ventures and technology transfer in developing weapons systems and also becoming first country to implement Prime Minister Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative in this sector, Israeli envoy Daniel Carmon, however, refused to give more information.Israeli President’s visit — the first by an Israeli President in nearly 20 years — will also prepare ground for much-awaited travel of Modi to Tel Aviv. The last Israeli President to visit India was Ezer Weizman in January 1997.Asked about Modi’s proposed visit to Israel, he said it will be a very important trip. It was being decided by the two governments when it will happen, the envoy said. Even though the two countries don’t agree on many issues related to West Asia, particularly on Palestine, the Israeli President said, “Friends may not always see eye to eye on everything, and as friends we can agree to disagree with respect and understanding.”India is Israel’s largest buyer of military hardware and the latter has been supplying various weapons systems, missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles over the last few years. But the transactions have largely remained behind the curtains. In non-defence sector, the trade between the two countries has increased from $200 million (Rs 1358 crore) in 1992, when they set up full diplomatic relations, to $6 billion (Rs 40731 crore) a year in 2015.Rivlin will travel to Agra, Karnal, and Chandigarh, besides touching Mumbai on the last day of his visit to pay tributes to the victims of 26/11 terrorist attack. In Agra, he will take a look at an adjacent Israeli water treatment plant called “Aqwise”. In Karnal, he will visit the Centre of Excellence in Agriculture set up with Israeli assistance. He will also travel to Chandigarh, along with President Mukherjee to jointly inaugurate Agro Tech 2016.

Religious fervour marks Gurpurab in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Devotees in large numbers thronged Gurdwaras in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, on Monday, to pay their obeisance to the founder and first guru of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev on his birth anniversary.People, from different faiths, reached gurdwaras to offer early morning prayers on Gurpurab and take part in ‘Langars’ and ‘Shabad Kirtans’, besides taking dips in the holy ‘Sarovars (ponds)’.The Golden Temple in Amritsar was decorated and lit up as religious fervour marked Gurpurab celebrations.In Punjab devotees thronged gurdwaras in major cities of Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Chandigarh, Mohali, Anandpur Sahib, and Bathinda.The scene was similar in Haryana, as devotees formed beelines at gurdwaras in Kurukshetra, Ambala, Sirsa, Karnal and Yamunanagar.Meanwhile, more than 2000 Sikh devotees have gone to Pakistan to observe the birth anniversary Guru Nanak Dev at the Gurdwara Nankana Sahib in Hasanabdal town in Pakistan’s Punjab, Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) officials said.The Sikh guru was born at Nankana Sahib near Lahore, now in Pakistan, in 1469 and spent 14 years of his early life at Sultanpur Lodhi in Punjab’s Kapurthala district.Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal extended his warm wishes to the people across the globe on the occasion of Parkash Utsav of Guru Nanak Dev.In his message, the Chief Minister appealed people to imbibe the spirit of service and humility as preached by the Great Guru and strive hard for carving out a prosperous and egalitarian society by following the his precious legacy.Meanwhile, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar greeted people on Gurpurab.The Chief Minister described Guru Nanak Dev as an “apostle of peace and tolerance” whose teachings would continue to inspire generations.”Guru Nanak Dev strived all his life to promote social justice and equality in the society,” Khattar said.He hoped this occasion would further strengthen amity and secular traditions in Haryana.

Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal row: All 42 Punjab Congress MLAs submit resignations over SC ruling

Chandigarh: All 42 opposition Congress legislators in Punjab on Friday submitted their resignations over the Supreme Court decision on a presidential reference regarding a 2004 law on sharing of the Sutlej-Yamuna river waters.

The Congress also announced a statewide protest on 13 November over what it said was the state government’s failure to represent Punjab’s case strongly in the apex court, which declared as “unconstitutional” a Punjab assembly-passed 2004 law to deny Haryana its share in the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal water.

Former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh. AFP file imageFormer Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh. AFP file image

Former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh. AFP file image

On Thursday, the ruling Akali Dal announced a special one-day Punjab assembly session on November 16 to discuss the issue threadbare.

The 42 Congress legislators, including Leader of Opposition Charanjit Singh Channi, handed over their resignations to assembly Secretary Shashi Lakhanpal Mishra here in the absence of Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal.

Senior Congress leaders Amarinder Singh, who announced his resignation as Lok Sabha member on Thursday, and Rajya Sabha members Partap Singh Bajwa and Ambika Soni accompanied the party legislators.

“(Chief Minister Parkash Singh) Badal has failed to protect the interests of Punjab’s people. We will stage a statewide protest on the issue on Sunday,” Amarinder Singh told reporters in Chandigarh.

“I am not in Parliament and our MLAs are not in the Vidhan Sabha. We will go to the people,” he said.

“Why is Badal not protecting Punjab’s interests? Is it because he has made a lot of money and doesn’t care what happens in his area,” Amarinder asked.

Parkash Singh Badal told reporters: “Our decision to not allow any water to flow out of the state is not a violation of the Supreme Court verdict. The most important thing for Punjab is to save its river waters.”

“We will fight for the state’s rights rather than run away. If we were to resign, Governor’s rule will be imposed. Who will then defend the rights of Punjab? We will do anything to oppose any attempt at building the SYL canal,” Badal’s son Sukhbir, who is the Deputy Chief Minister, said.

The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal has announced a statewide agitation from December 8 and also call on President Pranab Mukherjee to request him not to accept the Supreme Court’s advice on the SYL issue, a senior Akali leader had told IANS.

At the initiative of the then Congress government headed by Amarinder Singh, the Punjab assembly had in 2004 unanimously passed the law terminating all the agreements with Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Chandigarh and Delhi on the sharing of the waters of Sutlej-Yamuna rivers.

This Act was brought to tide over the January 15, 2002, apex court judgement and decree and subsequent judgement and order of June 4, 2004.

First Published On : Nov 11, 2016 18:46 IST

Rs 500, Rs 1,000 note ban: Income Tax department conducts surveys in Delhi, Mumbai to catch ‘currency’ profiteers

New Delhi: The Income Tax department on Thursday conducted multiple surveys in Delhi, Mumbai and other cities in the wake of reports of alleged profiteering and subsequent tax evasion by traders by converting withdrawn currency notes in an illegal manner.

Interestingly, the operations (surveys) were launched from the evening as the taxman wanted some hard cash to get accumulated at the payment counters to make the action effective.

Officials said the operations are being carried out at least at four locations in the national capital including popular market places like Karol Bagh, Dariba Kalan and Chandni Chowk, three locations in Mumbai and few others in Chandigarh and Ludhiana.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Till reports came in, similar survey operations by I-T authorities are also understood to have been launched in two south Indian cities.

Sources said the department had received “actionable inputs” that some traders, jewellers, currency exchanges and hawala dealers were allegedly exploiting the recent currency demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes and were changing currencies at “discounted” prices, thereby profiteering illegally.

They said the operations were planned after CBDT Chairman Sushil Chandra on Wednesday asked all the investigation units in the country to keep a check on suspicious movement of huge cash and other illegal transactions leading to tax evasion.

Officials added that almost over 100 tax sleuths along with police officials have been roped in for the survey operations.

At few places, they said, some preliminary documents have been seized.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today assured people that taxman will not hound those making small deposits in scrapped Rs 500/1,000 currency adding, however, people with “large amounts of undisclosed monies will have to face the consequences under the tax laws”.

Top I-T department officials had on Wednesday said the government’s directive to them is “very clear”, saying any instance of tax evasion and black money should be dealt with strictly, especially after two opportunities in the form of one-time stash declaration window has been provided.

In a surprise move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on 8 November announced demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes and introduction of the new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 ones with additional security features.

Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 ban: Donations to temples, FDs in co-op banks under govt scanner

Mumbai: Hurried donations made to nearly 100 temples and trusts and sudden spurt in cash reserves in nearly 1,000 cooperative banks and credit societies in Maharashtra after Centre’s decision to scrap Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes have come under government’s scanner, a senior state minister said on Thursday.

“The suspicious part of the whole rush for temple donations and opening six deposit accounts is that they were triggered immediately after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the announcement of demonetising currency notes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 denomination,” the minister said.

A couple puts Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes into a charity donation box inside a Gurudwara in Chandigarh on Thursday. Reuters

A couple puts Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes into a charity donation box inside a Gurudwara in Chandigarh on Thursday. Reuters

The minister, who did not wish to be named, said officials have apprised the state government that there has been a surge in donations to temples immediately after the announcement.

“Some people have tried to secure their unaccounted cash by donating it to temples by taking its management into confidence and making receipt of such donations as anonymous donors,” he said.

A similar pattern was applied in some cooperative banks that are associated or directly controlled by politicians, he said.

“Some people having unaccounted cash in lakhs of rupees have managed to secure receipts of the opening of fixed deposit account. It was possible because these (cooperative) banks operate locally with the handful of branches and cater to local banking needs,” the minister said.

“In such cases, the unaccounted cash will turn into white money, if people manage to produce all valid documents. We have asked officials from departments concerned to keep a tab on any suspicious transaction, donations or deals,” he said.

“In most of these banks, works, including issuing receipts, is done manually. As a result, some people managed to get the date of opening of the FD account, as prior to the PM’s announcement. To counter such frauds, the government will check the unnatural rise in the cash reserves in these banks. They will be under scanner,” the minister added.

Such fraudulent transactions have taken place in over 100 temples and trusts in the state, he said, adding, action will be initiated against those guilty of colluding with the fraudsters.

The government will also monitor the sudden spurt in cash reserves in the nearly 1,000 cooperative banks and credit societies in Maharashtra.

Some temple managements are “close to political parties, making such transactions possible,” he alleged.

Rs 500, Rs 1,000 banned: Serpentine queues at petrol pumps, ATMs in Punjab, Haryana

Chandigarh: Serpentine queues were witnessed on Friday night at ATMs and petrol pumps across Punjab and Haryana, including in Chandigarh, barely an hour after Prime Minister
Narendra Modi announced the demonetisation of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes with effect from Friday night.

In Chandigarh, there were long queues at most of the petrol pumps.

People crowd at a petrol pump to fill petrol as the Prime minister ordered to ban 500 and 1000 rupees notes. PTI

People crowd at a petrol pump to fill petrol as the Prime minister ordered to ban 500 and 1000 rupees notes. PTI

Despite the prime minister, in his televised address to the nation, making it clear that people holding currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 can deposit the same in their bank and post office accounts from 10 November to 30 December, people rushed to ATMs and petrol pumps.

“I thought everyone was stocking up. So, I too followed suit. I will fill up my car’s fuel tank which will also help me dispose of some of the Rs 1,000 currency notes. I thought I could also get some currency notes of lower denominations in change which will be of help in the present scenario,” said Baldev Chand while waiting in a long queue at a petrol pump here.

Similar scenes were witnessed at many petrol pumps of Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Ambala, Gurgaon, Faridabad and other towns in the two states.

People also rushed to ATMs to withdraw currency notes of lower denominations, while some said they were queueing up to deposit the Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes in the cash deposit machines.

BSF pays tributes to martyred jawan killed in Pakistani shelling

Jammu: The BSF on Monday paid tributes to Head Constable Sushil Kumar, who was killed in Pakistani shelling while defending the border.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Sushil is the second BSF jawan who laid down his life due to Pakistan Rangers’ firing and shelling during the last few days.

Constable Gurnam Singh, who foiled an infiltration bid of heavily armed militants in the Bobiya area of Kathua district, was injured on Friday in a sniper attack and succumbed on Saturday night.

A wreath-laying ceremony was organised at the Jammu frontier BSF camp at Paloura where rich tributes were paid to the slain soldier.

Director General, BSF, KK Sharma specially came from Delhi. Arun Kumar, ADG, BSF Western Command, Chandigarh, Rajeev Krishna, IG (Operation), DK Upadhyay, IG, BSF, Jammu, Pawan Kotwal, Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, IG, Jammu Police, Danish Rana, the CRPF DIG, along with BSF officers and jawans paid floral tributes to the martyr at the Frontier Headquarters in Jammu.

On the occasion, Sharma said the BSF had a history of bravery and this act has once again proved that those guarding the border were always ready to sacrifice their lives when it came to the country’s security.

Sushil, who was martyred during heavy firing from across the border last night, gave a befitting reply to the Pakistani soldiers from his post.

He sustained bullet injuries on the chest in the process.

“He was immediately evacuated to GMCH, Jammu where the doctors declared him brought dead at 0130 hours,” an officer said.

Two more BSF personnel — ASI RD Puri and Constable Ayyappa Babu — sustained minor injuries. They were currently admitted in a hospital, he added.

Jammu and Kashmir Minister of Industries and Commerce Chandra Prasad Ganga also paid tributes to the martyr.

The cremation of the jawan will be held at his native Pihowa village in Kurukshetra district in Haryana on Tuesday at 10 am.

Hizbul Mujahedeen says it will set up Sikh armed group

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Terrorist outfit Hizbul Mujahedeen has announced that it will set up a separate group of Sikh armed youth to fight against the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir.Releasing a fresh video, Hizbul commander Zakir Rashid Bhat said the outfit has received requests from Sikh youth for joining the militant ranks in a bid to ‘avenge’ the Operation Blue Star in Punjab.”We have received several requests from oppressed Sikh brothers to join us. KPS Gill with the help of RAW killed our Sikh brothers during Operation Blue Star. The Sikh brothers want to join us to take revenge from India (sic),” said Zakir.Sporting a short trimmed beard, Zakir is seen in the video wearing at-shirt with olive green camouflage waste-coat and trouser in a well-laid out room. Sitting on a chair, Zakir is seen composed with two automatic rifles resting on both sides of his seat and a banner in the background wall.This is the second time since the death of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani Zakir Bhat that it has released a video in the Valley akin to his former boss who was known for using social media to reach out to the people.Hailing from Noorpora in Tral, Zakir had left civil engineering at a Chandigarh college and joined Hizbul in 2013. Coming from an affluent family, Zakir’s father is also an engineer by profession.Zakir also appealed to migrant Kashmiri Pandits to return to their homes and assured them security from the militants. “We request Kashmiri Pandits to return to their homes and we will take full responsibility of their safety and security,” he said.Hizbul commander asked youth to snatch weapons from the security forces in order to join the militant ranks.

India’s food bowl: As Punjab exhausts groundwater, farmers eye new crops

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It is hailed as India’s granary, but the northwestern state of Punjab faces a drastic decline in agricultural output unless it halts the rapid depletion of its groundwater, experts warn.Groundwater irrigates almost three-quarters of Punjab’s agricultural land, but groundwater levels are dropping by 40 to 50 cm (16 to 20 inches) a year, according to Rajan Aggarwal, head of the soil and water engineering department at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU).That has left farmers like Ajmir Singh struggling as their irrigation wells dry up. “We are not able to find water even if we go down to 200 feet (61 m) or more at some places,” said Singh, who has farmed for 35 years in Jalandhar, 150km (95 miles) north of Chandigarh, the state capital.His neighbour, Pawanjeet Singh, said lack of irrigation water has forced him to sell part of the land that has been in his family for generations to a large-scale farmer who has the resources to drill for water at much deeper levels.”I took this decision with a heavy heart after I realised that drawing water for all my land is beyond my means,” Singh said.According to Aggarwal, groundwater has been overexploited in 110 of the state’s 138 administrative blocks.”This is alarming given that more than 73% of irrigation is taken care of by groundwater,” he said.Experts say dealing with the problem, in the region that led India’s Green Revolution in the 1970s, will require a rapid shift away from crops that require large amounts of water, such as rice and wheat, to less-thirsty pulses, maize, vegetables and sugarcane to safeguard the state’s agricultural economy.Rice and wheat make up 81 % of Punjab’s irrigated crops, according to a report by PAU. Although the state accounts for only 1.5 % of India’s geographical area, over the past two decades it has contributed 35 % of the nation’s rice production and 60 cent of its wheat.LOW RAINFALLAccording to Sunil Jain, regional director of the Central Ground Water Board for northwest India, groundwater started dropping in 1985 in Punjab, and has sunk to alarming levels in recent years.Thirty years ago farmers in most parts of the state could draw water at a depth of 10 metres (32 ft), but by 2015 this was 20 metres, while farmers in some central parts of the state are unable to find water even at 30 metres or deeper, he said.”There has been a substantial rise in groundwater utilisation, which has mainly happened because of the fact that Punjab gets less rainfall. Since paddy (rice) requires a lot of water, the farmers resort to heavy usage of groundwater for irrigating the paddy fields,” he said.Jain added that Punjab gets less than 700mm of rainfall annually. This compares to a national average of 1,083mm, according to the World Bank.Amit Kar, an economist at the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, attributed the groundwater shortage to government policies such as free electricity for irrigation, credit facilities and subsidies for digging wells and buying pumping equipment, as well as heavily subsidised diesel fuel for pumps.The PAU report said annual demand for irrigation in Punjab is 4.76 million hectare metres (mhm) against a total annual supply of 3.48 mhm from canal and groundwater resources.The deficit is met by overexploitation of deeper groundwater by farmers using nearly 1.4 million tube wells, which exacerbates the loss of more accessible groundwater. According to the PAU report, 3.5 million of Punjab’s 9.1 million workers make a living from agriculture or associated activities.Jain said the statistics suggest Punjab’s agricultural success may not be sustainable”Punjab’s exports of rice and wheat to other regions literally mean the export of its groundwater to those regions,” he said.Amitabh Kant, chief executive officer of the government’s National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog), predicted “the present rate of withdrawal will lead to complete exhaustion of groundwater within a decade” in the region.Kant said India, already water-stressed, is rapidly moving towards becoming water-scarce.TIME TO SWITCH?Switching to new crops is one way to ease the problem in Punjab, said PAU’s Aggarwal. Rice requires about four times as much water as maize, pulses or oilseeds, for instance.Vinod Kumar Singh, a scientist at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, said Punjab must make the shift at any cost.”The government has to make some policy decisions like assuring the farmers it will procure their produce other than paddy (rice) and wheat. Only then will they be convinced to switch over to these crops,” he said.Under India’s state-sponsored Public Distribution System, the national government buys staple foods like rice, wheat and sugar from farmers and sells them to citizens at fair or cheaper prices. Commodities worth $2.25 billion, including rice and wheat, are sold annually to about 160 million families.Jasbir Singh Bains, Punjab’s director of agriculture, said that system makes farmers reluctant to cultivate other crops.”We have started making efforts to popularise the cultivation of pulses, maize, vegetables and oilseeds,” Bains said. “For example, we have appealed to the central government to increase the procurement of pulses and are urging the farmers to grow vegetables, which also have a good market.”Farmers like Shamsher Singh, in Nokdar-Jalandhar, said they would switch to less thirsty crops with government help.”We are ready for this, but the government should give the guarantee that it will procure our products like it is doing in the case of wheat and rice,” he said.

Celebrity chefs get set to cook for underprivileged kids

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Celebrity chefs are used to catering for the rich and famous, so it is a strange, wonderful, and novel experience when a group of celebrity chefs will enter the kitchen to cook for over 6,000 underprivileged children. This is incidentally for International Chef’s Day on October 20.Well known names in the food world include Hemant Oberoi, along with Ranveer Brar, Vikas Khanna, Zorawar Kalra, and Saransh Goila. Their aim: to provide healthy and nutritious food to these kids.Each of these chefs will prepare a special meal, vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian, in their kitchens, and distribute it to local foundations and orphanages in their respective cities.While the Indian chapter of the global association of chefs — that is spread across 100 countries—has been observing International Chef’s Day for a few years, this is for the first time that a social initiative is being taken up to mark the day.Alan D’Mello who is spearheading the programme in India says, “We decided to do something different on October 20 this year. So we set the ball rolling by tying up with 50 celebrity chefs, urging them to step out of their workplace, take a few hours off, and give something back to society.”People including chefs, hospitality students, hotels, restaurant owners and product vendors associated with the industry, will be participating in this project. This will be an annual affair from this year onwards.D’Mello adds, “Since it is all about spreading cheer and goodwill among the less fortunate, we are heartened to see that around 15,000 hospitality students from different cities including Delhi, Chandigarh, Mumbai, Chennai and Jalandhar have come forward to be part of this endeavour.”Chefs and restaurant owners have been urged to feed at least 100 kids, and the emphasis is on creating innovative and healthy food with local produce. The budget too has been fixed at a maximum of Rs 100 per child.Chef Farooq Baig of The Zuri White Sands, Goa who is participating in the event, said, “It is a privilege for us to feed unprivileged children on International Chef’s Day. However, it would be great if all the hotels come together and feed these children once a week or once a month and extend this practice as a daily feature.”Baig says, “We plan to serve them cuisines which they haven’t eaten before. Hence, we have designed a menu containing dishes like pizza, burgers, noodles, chicken lollipops, etc, which will be prepared in a healthy manner. Also, these children will be welcomed and treated as special guests in our hotel.”Goila will also be preparing around 50 kg of butter chicken for 100 kids and will send to the International Chef’s Day team in Mumbai to be distributed in orphanages.

Haryana: INLD to observe ‘black Diwali’ against ‘anti-people’ policies

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Haryana’s main Opposition party INLD said on Wednesday it will observe ‘Black Diwali’ to protest against the state government’s “anti-people” policies and “cheating of farmers by denying them MSP”.”All sections of the society, be it farmers, traders, employees or the youth, are fed up with anti-people policies of the Khattar government. Therefore, the INLD has decided it observe black Diwali this year,” said senior INLD leader Abhay Singh Chautala at a press conference in Chandigarh.The Leader of Opposition said his party will boycott the state’s golden jubilee celebrations on November 1, if the government fails to fulfil its promises. “If they are really concerned about the welfare of people, then they should immediately increase old-age pension to Rs 2000 and give unemployment allowance to the youth.”They should ensure adequate crop prices as per the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations and employees should be given pay scales at par with Punjab,” he said, adding if they cannot take these steps, “we will boycott the celebrations”.He alleged the BJP government has failed to come out with a roadmap for the year-long celebrations from November 1 to October 31, 2017 to mark Haryana’s 50-years of statehood. “They are wasting nearly Rs 1,700 crore of public money (on the celebrations) to glorify their own and the party’s image. They want to implement the RSS’ agenda,” Chautala alleged, adding the INLD could call ‘Haryana bandh’ anytime after November 15.Chautala alleged as paddy arrivals at different ‘mandis’ (grain markets) in Haryana was picking up, farmers were facing tough times because they were not getting full minimum support price (MSP) for their crops. “Farmers have told us they are being denied MSP on the pretext of high moisture content in their crops,” he said.”Farmers are being paid at least Rs 200-300 per quintal lesser than the MSP. The Centre has fixed MSP Rs 1,470 per quintal for common variety paddy and Rs 1,510 per quintal for Grade ‘A’ paddy,” he claimed. Demanding an inquiry Chautala said, “Millers have deployed their men to check moisture content in crops. They show the moisture content beyond the permissible limit of 17% and then impose arbitrary cuts on MSP.” Chautala claimed as against Rs 1,330 per quintal MSP for bajra crop farmers were getting only Rs 1,220.He also alleged that Khattar government was preparing to handover Panchayat land to big industrialists. “In another ‘Tughlaki farman’ (order), the government has told Panchayats with revenue more than a crore that funds cannot be disbursed by the ‘sarpanches’ and it will be done by an executive engineer,” he claimed.

Black money worth Rs 2,700 cr declared by Punjab, Haryana and other north-west regions under IDS

Three days after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday disclosed consolidated black money assets worth Rs 65,250 crore by 64,275 declarants countrywide, region-specific numbers are now on the anvil.

PTIPTI

PTI

Under the Modi-government’s one-time compliance window of Income Declaration Scheme, the income tax department revealed that the North-West region comprising states of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana and the Union territory of Chandigarh declared undisclosed assets worth around Rs 2,700 crore, The Tribune report said.

The government is expected to earn taxes of Rs 1,215 crore from this disclosure, according to the Tribune.

Citing senior officials, Punjab reported that the scheme netted black money worth Rs 1,300 crore, while Haryana registered undisclosed assets of Rs 800 crore and Jammu and Kashmir Rs 250 crore. Chandigarh reported undisclosed assets of Rs 200 crore and Himachal Pradesh Rs 150 crore.

In Punjab state, maximum disclosures came in from the cities of Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar, the report added.

“The figures cannot be disclosed as categorically said by the finance minister. However, the scheme has been an overwhelming success. We congratulate and thank all taxpayers of Punjab for taking advantage of this Scheme and making it a success,” the Times of India report said quoting chief commissioner of income tax (CCIT), Punjab Binay K Jha.

Andhra Pradesh and Telangana together declared Rs 19,000 crore, reported the The Times of India. The I-T department of Mumbai and Delhi region said disclosures to the tune of Rs 8,500 crore and Rs 8,300 crore respectively were made, while the states of Gujarat, Pune, West Bengal and Sikkim each yielded black money worth Rs 4,000 crore, the ToI report said.

On Saturday, Jaitley said that Rs 65,250 crore of undisclosed assets declared in the one-time compliance window will yield Rs 29,362 crore in taxes to the government. Of this, half or Rs 14,681.25 crore will be accrued to this fiscal.

“Some disclosures have not been tabulated… This figure could be revised upward once the final tabulation is done,” he had said at a news conference.

Last year, under a similar scheme for foreign black money holders, 644 declarations of undisclosed foreign income and assets were received, and just Rs 2,428 crore was collected in taxes.

With PTI inputs

‘Because one’s daughter is everyone’s’: When Sushma Swaraj ensured that Pak girls got home safely

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Nineteen girls from Pakistan who were in the city to take part in a youth festival left for home today after conclusion of the event, “overwhelmed” by the Indian hospitality. The girls had reached the city Tuesday night on a seven- day visit to take part in the 11th Global Youth Peace Festival, which concluded here last evening. After Indian Army carried out surgical strikes across the LoC, parents of the girls had expressed concern about their welfare here and the event’s organisers had indicated that they may head back home earlier than scheduled.Pramod Sharma, the event’s organiser, said after the Indian authorities including the Ministry of External Affairs assured them that they should not worry about the girls while they are here, their trip carried on as per schedule.”Today, the Pakistani girls and one male member of the delegation left for home. They were sent back home in a bus from here and the crossed over to Pakistan from the Wagah border,” Sharma said.On October 1, head of the delegation Aliya Harir who runs a cross-border peace initiative Aghaz-e-Dosti had spoken to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who assured them all help.”Extremely overwhelmed. Spoke to @SushmaSwaraj ji who assured that Pakistani delegation of #GYPF2016 will reach Pakistan back safe,” Aliya said in a tweet.In her reply, Swaraj tweeted, “Aliya – I was concerned about your well being kyonki betiyan to sabki sanjhi hoti hain (… because one’s daughter is everyone’s).” According to Sharma, the girls also visited Shimla during their trip.”The Pakistani guests said they felt at home here and were overwhelmed by the Indian hospitality,” he said. After the surgical strikes, Chandigarh police had further strengthened the security of the Pakistani girls. For most of the girls, who had come under the banner of Pakistan’s Girls for Peace Group, this was their first visit to India.

Mumbai-Goa route gets Railways’ premium train Tejas

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Mumbai-Goa route has been chosen for the railways’ premium Tejas brand of trains. On Thursday, Central Railway announced that the CST-Karmali Tejas will ply on five days, with no service on Monday and Thursday. The train will leave CST at 12:20 am and reach Karmali at 11 am the same day. On the return leg, the Tejas train will leave Karmali at 12:20 pm and reach CST at 10:45 pm. It will halt at Thane, Panvel, Chiplun, Ratnagiri, Kudal and Thivim in both directions, said officials.The start of train’s operations would be announced later, said CR officials.The Tejas train is being built at Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala. As reported by dna, the first coach of the Tejas is ready and will be put on trial in a few days time. According to RCF officials, the coach will be sent to the Railway Board which will decide where the 130 kmph coach will be tested. As per the current schedule, officials said, the train is likely to be commissioned by the railways in February next year. The railways plans to make three such rakes, said officials.One of the biggest challenges, officials said, would be the fitting of television screens at the back of the seats, something that has not been done in Indian trains previously. The performance of these enhanced features at top speeds would be interesting. However, officials pointed out that the first coach built do not have these TV screens fitted into the seats as yet. The blue and yellow seats itself are of a new ergonomic design and provide higher levels of comfort than the seats fitted in the higher class coaches of trains at the moment.Interior of the first Tejas coach. The Tejas train is positioned for the business traveller who is willing to pay more for superior travelling comforts, said railway officials. The 9 sectors identified by the railways on which the Tejas might have a clientele are Delhi-Agra, Delhi-Chandigarh, Delhi-Kanpur, Nagpur-Bilaspur, Mysuru-Bengaluru-Chennai, Mumbai-Goa, Mumbai-Ahmedabad, Chennai-Hyderabad and Nagpur-Secunderabad.Features of the Tejas rake1. Ergonomic seating with improved cushioning and upholstery2. Automatic doors, infotainment system with on-board W-Fi , along with vending machine3. GPS-based passenger information display system and passenger announcement system4. Dust sealed gangways, fire and smoke detection system5. CCTV system6. Concealed LED lighting with adjustable reading lights, 7. Integrated Braille displays8. Bio-Vacuum toilets, with sensorised taps, flushing system, hand driers, for touch-less experience of toilet use

Mumbai wealthiest city in India, ahead of Delhi and Bengaluru

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India’s financial capital Mumbai, home to 45,000 millionaires and 28 billionaires, is the wealthiest city in the country with total wealth of US $820 billion, says a report. According to New World Wealth, Mumbai is followed by Delhi and Bengaluru at the second and third place respectively.While Delhi, home to 22,000 millionaires and 18 billionaires has total wealth of US $450 billion, Bengaluru boasts of a total wealth of US $320 billion. The city is home to 7,500 millionaires and 8 billionaires. Total wealth refers to the private wealth held by all individuals.The report defines ‘wealth’ as the net assets of a person. It includes all their assets (property, cash, equity, business interests) less any liabilities. The report excludes government funds from its figures. As per the report, the total wealth held in the country amounts to US $5.6 trillion (as of June 2016). The country is home to 264,000 millionaires and 95 billionaires in total.Other emerging cities in the country include, Surat, Ahmadabad, Visakhapatnam, Goa, Chandigarh, Jaipur and Vadodara, the report said. It noted that over the next decade, India is expected to benefit from strong growth in local financial services, IT, real estate, healthcare and media sectors.”In particular, the local hospital services and health insurance sectors are expected to grow strongly. Hyderabad, Pune and Bengaluru are expected to lead the pack in terms of wealth growth,” it said. Millionaires or high net worth individuals (HNWIs) refer to individuals with net assets of US $1 million or more. Billionaires refer to individuals with net assets of US $1 billion or more.Other wealthiest cities include, Hyderabad (total wealth of US $310 billion, has 8,200 millionaires, 7 billionaires); Kolkata (US $290 billion, has 8,600 millionaires and 10 billionaires); Pune (US $180 billion, has 3,900 millionaires and 5 billionaires); Chennai (US $150 billion and has 6,200 millionaires and 4 billionaires) and Gurgaon (US $110 billion and home to 3,600 millionaires and 2 billionaires).

Mumbai is India’s wealthiest city with $820 bn capital; boasts of 45k millionaires, 28 billionaires

New Delhi: India’s financial capital Mumbai, home to 45,000 millionaires and 28 billionaires, is the wealthiest city in the country with total wealth of $820 billion, says a report.

According to New World Wealth, Mumbai is followed by Delhi and Bengaluru at the second and third place respectively.

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While Delhi, home to 22,000 millionaires and 18 billionaires has total wealth of $450 billion, Bengaluru boasts of a total wealth of $320 billion. The city is home to 7,500 millionaires and 8 billionaires.

Total wealth refers to the private wealth held by all individuals.

The report defines ‘wealth’ as the net assets of a person. It includes all their assets (property, cash, equity, business interests) less any liabilities. The report excludes government funds from its figures.

As per the report, the total wealth held in the country amounts to $5.6 trillion (as of June 2016). The country is home to 264,000 millionaires and 95 billionaires in total.

Other emerging cities in the country include, Surat, Ahmadabad, Visakhapatnam, Goa, Chandigarh, Jaipur and Vadodara, the report said.

It noted that over the next decade, India is expected to benefit from strong growth in local financial services, IT, real estate, healthcare and media sectors.

“In particular, the local hospital services and health insurance sectors are expected to grow strongly. Hyderabad, Pune and Bengaluru are expected to lead the pack in terms of wealth growth,” it said.

Millionaires or high net worth individuals (HNWIs) refer to individuals with net assets of $1 million or more.

Billionaires refer to individuals with net assets of $1 billion or more.

Other wealthiest cities include, Hyderabad (total wealth of $310 billion, has 8,200 millionaires, 7 billionaires); Kolkata ($290 billion, has 8,600 millionaires and 10 billionaires); Pune ($180 billion, has 3,900 millionaires and 5 billionaires); Chennai ($150 billion and has 6,200 millionaires and 4 billionaires) and Gurgaon ($110 billion and home to 3,600 millionaires and 2 billionaires).

‘Gurugram’ officially: Name change approved by Centre

Tue, 27 Sep 2016-06:53pm , Chandigarh , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Gurgaon will now be known as Gurugram, with the Centre approving the name change on Tuesday. Interacting with reporters shortly after presiding over the first meeting of the state-level ‘Swarna Jayanti Celebrations Committee’ at Panchkula near Chandigarh, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said now both the city as well as the district of Gurgaon would be known as Gurugram.Gurugram is the corporate hub of Haryana on the outskirts of Delhi. Legend has it that Gurgaon derived its name from Guru Dronacharya, the master of archery in Mahabharata who groomed the Pandavas and Kauravas in military tactics. It is said the village was given as ‘gurudakshina’ to him by the Pandavas and hence it came to be known as Guru-gram, which in course of time got distorted to Gurgaon.

Will Walmart provide money power for Flipkart to take on Amazon? A win-win deal may be in making

Faced with rising competition from the online retail giant Amazon at home and other global markets, US-based multi-billion dollar retail czar Walmart Stores Inc has been steadily ramping up its presence in the online retail business through minority stake buys in etail companies of late.

While having a presence in India for quite some time through its Wholesale Best Price stores, Walmart is evaluating its strategy to team up with the country’s largest ecommerce company Flipkart to counter Amazon’s growing influence here.

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AFP

According to a report in The Economic Times, Walmart is looking at buying a small equity stake in Flipkart for which both the companies are likely to hold talks later this week.

However, both Walmart and Flipkart have termed the news as speculative.

The likely talk comes close on the heels of the US retailer entering into a deal with China’s second-largest ecommerce firm JD.com in June amid growing competition from Alibaba Group Holding. As per the terms of the deal, Walmart will get a 5 percent stake in JD.com worth $1.5 billion in exchange for selling its online grocery store to the Chinese ecommerce firm. Two months later the US retail major announced up a deal to acquire Jet.com for $3.3 billion to spruce up its ecommerce business.

Although Walmart remains undisputed leader in the US retail market, its ecommerce business has been facing challenging times in recent years. In 2015, Walmart’s ecommerce sales stood at $15 billion as against a whopping $99 billion revenue posted by Amazon from its online sales, the ET report said.

Back home, there is no clarity on the percentage holding and total value Walmart could negotiate with Flipkart. But the deal could be win-win situation for both. For Flipkart, a minority stake sale could bring in fresh funds into the company and help further compete with Amazon. Also, Flipkart can leverage Walmart’s global supply chain and use the latter’s wholesale stores in Jammu, Chandigarh etc. among other locations for pickup and delivery points.

In case of Walmart, holding a minority stake in Flipkart will help it to have a presence in the country’s growing ecommerce market besides allowing it to sell goods through multiple channels, the ET report added. The US-based retailer can also eye the home-grown etailer’s rising user base. Last week, Flipkart said it has crossed the 100-million registered users mark, becoming the first e-commerce company in the country to hit the milestone. The Bengaluru-based company has also doubled its user base over the last year and added 25 million users in the past six months alone.

The company is engaged in a battle for supremacy with Amazon and another domestic challenger Snapdeal, where all three are slugging it out to notch up robust volumes in the forthcoming festival sales offer starting later this week.

The Jeff Bezos-controlled Amazon has already announced big plans for India. The Seattle-based online giant had last year announced a plan infuse $3 billion in Indian operations, taking its total investment commitment for the country to $5 billion.

Expanding into other verticals of the online segment, Amazon is on the verge of launching Prime Video in India, and has partnered with Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions and Vishesh Films, which will give the company access to about 80 blockbustres.

The teaming up with the Dharma and Vishesh is also aimed at gaining more customers and fighting Flipkart.

A recent Bank of America Merrill Lynch report had said Amazon is improving its foothold in India and it could be the second biggest player after Flipkart in the online retail market by 2019.

The country could also become Amazon’s second largest market (after the US) as it plans to invest $5 billion here.

“For last couple of months, Amazon India gross sales are higher than that of Flipkart standalone (excluding Myntra)… We now expect Amazon’s GMV (gross merchandise value) market share to improve to 37 per cent by 2019 from 21 per cent in 2015 and expect it to be close No 2 behind Flipkart,” the report said.

While revenues are relatively small to Amazon’s global scale, Amazon India could generate $81 billion in GMV and $2.2 billion in operating profit by 2025.

Most of Amazon’s gains have come at the expense of Snapdeal and other sellers, not Flipkart, according to the report. Flipkart still remains the market leader in India and “even in terms of customer satisfaction, reports indicate that it remains the leader, ahead of both Amazon and Snapdeal”, according to the report.

Whoever wins the battle in the end, one thing is for sure there are interesting times ahead for e-commerce customers in India.

With IANS

Weather update: Heavy rains lash parts of Punjab, Haryana

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Strong winds accompanied by heavy rains lashed some parts of Punjab and Haryana, including Chandigarh.Chandigarh was pounded by heavy rains (46.6 mm) Wednesday night, a MeT Department official said.Strong winds also lashed the Union Territory, resulting in temporary power outages at some places.In Punjab, Mohali witnessed 40 mm of rain, Amritsar 25.4 mm, Gurdaspur received 15.2 mm, Anandpur Sahib 7 mm while Ropar got 15 mm of rain.In Haryana, Panchkula received 14 mm of rainfall, Yamunanagar 15 mm, Ambala 12.3 mm and Naraingarh witnessed 8 mm.The mercury dropped by a few notches after the showers.

PMLA case: More people called to join probe in Himachal Pradesh CM Virbhadra Singh’s case, says ED

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>More people have been summoned to join the investigation in a money laundering case against Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) told a special court on Monday. Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Kumar was informed by the agency that the probe is still going on in the case, after which court allowed the ED’s plea and extended accused Anand Chauhan’s judicial custody till September 3.Advocate N K Matta, appearing for the agency, told the court that ED has summoned four more people to join the probe and presence of Chauhan, who is currently in judicial custody, was required in the matter. However, the advocate did not disclose the names of the people called to join the probe.Chauhan was arrested from Chandigarh on July 9 under the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) as he was allegedly not cooperating with investigating officer of the case. ED had claimed in the court that during Chauhan’s interrogation, it was revealed that as an LIC agent, he had entered into a modus operandi to launder disproportionate assets by investing in LIC policies. The agency had submitted that Singh, “while serving as Union minister, invested huge amount in purchasing LIC policies in his own name and his family members through Chauhan.””Further, Virbhadra Singh, while functioning as Union minister during the period from May 28, 2009, to June 26, 2012, acquired assets, disproportionate to his known sources of income to the tune of Rs 6,03,70,782 and further tried to justify the same in the form of agricultural income. Pratibha Singh, wife of Virbhadra Singh, Chauhan, with whom Virbhadra Singh has signed the alleged MoU for managing his apple orchard and Chunni Lal Chauhan, proprietor of M/s Universal Apple Associates, who purportedly showed purchase of apple of Shrikhand Orchard, have facilitated in justifying the disproportionate assets of Virbhadra Singh and thereby abetted the offence,” the ED had alleged.

VP Singh Badnore to take oath as Punjab Governor on Monday

Chandigarh: VP Singh Badnore will take oath as the new Punjab Governor in Chandigarh on Monday.

Punjab and Haryana High Court Chief Justice SJ Vazifdar will administer the oath of office and secrecy to Badnore at Punjab Raj Bhawan here tomorrow, an official spokesman said in Chandigarh on Sunday.

Badnore (69) will take charge from Kaptan Singh Solanki, who also holds the charge of Haryana governor.

VP Singh Badnore (L) is the Governor designate for Punjab. Twitter /@HMOIndiaVP Singh Badnore (L) is the Governor designate for Punjab. Twitter /@HMOIndia

VP Singh Badnore (L) is the Governor designate for Punjab. Twitter /@HMOIndia

Badnore, who belongs to Bhilwara in Rajasthan, is a four-time legislator in the Rajasthan assembly. He was an MLA from 1977-80, 1985-90, 1993-98 and 1998-99. During his last term as MLA, he was the state irrigation minister.

He was a member of the 13th and 14th Lok Sabha from 1999-2004 and from 2004-09.

In July 2010, he was elected to the Rajya Sabha.

A graduate in business management, he studied at Mayo College, Ajmer, and Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI), Hyderabad.

Rajya Sabha records describe Badnore as an agriculturist, environmentalist, social worker, and sportsman.

He was the chairman of the special task force to rehabilitate tigers in Sariska (Rajasthan) from 2005-09 and a member of the empowered committee of forests and wildlife management in Rajasthan.

He is a widely travelled parliamentarian. He was a part of the Indian delegations to Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Canada, in 1994 and in 2004, besides the Indian delegation of South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA) to Pakistan.

A keen swimmer, he has participated in national school-level swimming competitions.

Badnore will also be administrator of Union Territory of Chandigarh.

No relief from heat for Punjab, Haryana; Hisar sizzles at 42 degrees

Hot and humid weather continued to prevail across Punjab and Haryana on Thursday with Hisar sizzling at 42 degrees Celsius.While monsoon is expected to hit the two states including Chandigarh in a couple of days, high humidity levels, along with soaring temperatures, have added to the woes of the people. Hisar in Haryana was hotter by three notches against normal on Thursday, a MeT Department official said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Karnal too sweltered at 39.4 degrees Celsius, three notches above normal while Ambala too had a hot day at 38.3 degrees Celsius, two notches above normal. Sultry weather also prevailed in Chandigarh, which recorded a high of 37 degrees Celsius.In Punjab, Amritsar was hot at 39 degrees Celsius, two notches more than normal while Ludhiana’s maximum settled at 36.1 degrees Celsius.Patiala, too, braved sultry weather recording a high of 37 degrees Celsius.

A 16-year-old Punjab boy shoots mother for refusing money for drugs

Chandigarh: A teenage boy was arrested on the charge of murder after he shot dead his mother in Punjab’s Mansa district when she refused to give him money to buy drugs, police said on Wednesday.

Police said the boy, aged around 16, fatally shot his mother Kulwinder Kaur with his father’s licensed gun in Kot Dharmu village.

His father Kuldeep Singh was away from home when the shooting took place on Monday. Kuldeep had filed the police complaint.

Narada sting: Mathew Samuel urges Kolkata police to withdraw summons

Narada news CEO Mathew Samuel has requested Kolkata Police to withdraw its summon in connection with the West Bengal government’s probe into the Narada sting operation saying the matter is still sub-judice.He has e-mailed his request this evening. “I have not received any letter from them. So, I have replied to the mail from where the summon was sent to me on June 23,” Samuel said. “In regard with the instruction to appear before the assistant police commissioner, I have not yet received any physical copy of communication from you through post. Nor have I have received any phone call from Kolkata Police in this regard,” Samuel wrote.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I seek to ask how did you attempt to contact me. I humbly state that the matter is still pending in the honourable Calcutta High Court and I have submitted all documents, materials, original footage and all equipment used during the sting operation to the honourable High court as per its directions.
ALSO READ Kolkata Police summons Narada News CEO, Mathew Samuel in connection with Narada tapes”On June 24, the Honourable Calcutta High Court has directed Hyderabad forensic lab to send all material to Chandigarh forensic lab. Honourable High Court had earlier on June 20 directed that its verdict will be final and binding on all parties after, on June 17, the West Bengal CM ordered an inquiry into Narada News Sting X Files.”In view of the above, I request you to withdraw the instruction as mentioned in the email as the matter is sub judice.”
ALSO READ Narada case: Calcutta HC says its order will be binding on allSamuel said “It will be contempt of court if I go to meet Kolkata Police officers as per their directive. I am just following what the court has said that its verdict will be the final. For this decision I have consulted my lawyers.”

Yoga helps us achieve focus and agility, say paraplegic jawans

Grit accompanied with modern therapies and yoga can help achieve wonders even if the odds are heavily against you.Giving this message loud and clear are the outstanding jawans from the Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre (PRC), Mohali, whose lower bodies (waist down) have almost become dysfunctional because of bullet or shrapnel injuries.Fourteen of them were part of the International Yoga Day celebrations at Capitol complex, Chandigarh and performed some asanas to such perfection that it left several participants captivated.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Army’s ex-rifleman Mohammed Latif from 10 JAK LI (Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry) regiment says he feels more rejuvenated since he made yoga a part of his daily routine about two years ago. Latif was hit by an enemy bullet when he was out on an operation in the Poonch-Rajouri sector in 2001. The bullet damaged his spinal cord, leaving him paralysed waist down.“I did not lose heart, and my hopes were rekindled when I got enrolled in a rehab programme at PRC, Mohali. The introduction of yoga about two years ago has helped me gain more confidence,” says Latif who is a Paralympic basketball player and represented India at the Pacific Paralympic Games in 2005.Latif’s basketball partner ex-Gunner, Ajit Kumar Shukla was also hit by a terrorist’s bullet while on patrol in Rajouri sector in 2005. The bullet pierced his stomach and smashed his spinal cord, making his lower body redundant. “We were to board a train for Hyderabad for the national basketball championship, but postponed that to attend this programme first. It is a great feeling to be a part of the yoga celebration. Yoga has helped us become strong mentally and more agile physically and it reflects in our game too. Now we are more at ease,” says Shukla, who became a proud father of twins eight months ago.“PRC introduced yoga with the help of the Art of Living Foundation in 2014 and since then the results have been encouraging. Jawans at our centre practice yoga each day – there is a short duration 20-minute yoga session on six days and a longer duration yoga session for a little more than one hour, once a week. Yoga has helped jawans recuperate faster,” says Col (retired) Jaswant Singh Spehia, director of PRC, Mohali.Captain (retired) Braj Paul Singh and Dr Archana are the Master Trainers who impart yoga training to about 45 jawans at the PRC. Capt Singh who was trained at Art of Living says, “The jawans perform Pranayam every day. Besides, we introduce customised asanas for each jawan, depending on his case and type of disability. It has helped them become more focused,” says Singh.

JD (U) corners PM Modi, says ‘masters of event management’ branding yoga

The Janata Dal (United) on Tuesday alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is indulging in unwarranted politics in the name of yoga and dubbed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders to be ‘masters of event management’.JD (U) leader Sanjay Singh, who was commenting on the International Yoga Day celebrations across the world, accused the ruling dispensation of wasting a lot of money from the public exchequer on the occasion.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The world has been celebrating yoga from a long time, but the Bharatiya Janata Party leaders and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are branding it. They (BJP) are masters of event management. Crores of money is being spent on this,” Singh said.
ALSO READ Liquor addicts cannot perform Yoga: Bihar CM Nitish Kumar”The people took the initiative of cleanliness after the launch of ‘Swachhta Abhiyan’, but it stopped after some time. Likewise, money is being wasted on this occasion,” he said.Escalating his attack on the Centre, the JD (U) leader said even his party members’ practice yoga, but they don’t show-off. “The BJP has made it a den of politics… Our Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has strictly said that he would participate in the International Yoga Day celebrations if the Prime Minister implements complete ban on alcohol in the nation. Definitely, politics is being played in the name of yoga and it will not continue for long,” he added.Taking a jibe at Prime Minister Modi, the Bihar Chief Minister had earlier on Sunday said if the former is so serious about yoga then he should ban liquor at least in all the BJP-ruled states.”Yoga’s fist principle is to abstain from consumption of liquor, so if you (government) are so serious about yoga, then Prime Minister Modi should ban liquor at least in all the BJP ruled states,” he said while addressing a rally in Bihar’s Palamu. The second International Day of Yoga is being celebrated across the globe today. The theme for this year is ‘Connect the Youth’.The main event in India was held at the Capitol Complex in Chandigarh which witnessed the participation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Punjab and Haryana Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki, Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal and his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar besides others. Addressing the International Yoga Day celebrations in Chandigarh this morning, Prime Minister Modi said yoga provides health assurance with zero spending.He said yoga has become a people?s mass movement, adding the people in all parts of the nation have been connected to yoga. The Prime Minister also announced two awards for distinguished works in the field of yoga at national and international levels. June 21 was declared as the International Day of Yoga by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2014. Over 190 countries, including 40 Islamic nations, supported the move to have a special day for yoga.

Massive frenzy around second Yoga Day, PM Modi to take part in main event at Chandigarh

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday night arrived in Chandigarh to participate in the second International Yoga Day celebrations that begin on Tuesday.He was received at the airport by Punjab and Haryana Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki, who is also UT Chandigarh’s Administrator, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar, official sources said. The Prime Minister will stay at Punjab Raj Bhawan, they said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi will join 30,000 people for the second International Yoga Day celebrations in Chandiagrh on Tuesday to be held amid tight security. He will lead the celebrations at Capitol Complex, designed by French architect Le Corbusier.Over 30,000 people – 10,000 each from the Union Territory Chandigarh, Punjab and Haryana – will take part in the event at Capitol Complex and 10,000 at over 100 other locations across the city.Sculptures made from waste, depicting yoga asanas, have been installed at Capitol Complex. The sculptures have been made from waste material like ceramic tiles, broken crockery which have been the highlight of Rock Garden.The Union Territory Administration has decided to felicitate best Yoga performers with cash prizes.Yoga enthusiasts can upload their videos while performing ‘asanas’ and send them to facebook.com/iydchd2016 or tweet with #IYDCHD2016.The first, second and third prize winners will get Rs 10,000, Rs 8,000 and Rs 5,000 respectively, officials said.A selfie zone has also been set up at the venue.Tight security arrangements have been put in place. More than 5,000 police and paramilitary personnel will keep a hawk-eye vigil to secure the venue.For the first time, 150 Divyangs, a nomenclature coined by Modi for differently-abled people, would be assisted in performing yogic asanas at the Capitol Complex(With PTI inputs)

Rains lash several parts of India; 2 die of lightning strike

Rains lashed several parts of the country including the national capital today bringing some respite for people from hot and humid conditions, even as two persons were killed after being struck by lightning in a village in Uttar Pradesh.In Delhi, the Safdarjung weather station recorded a rainfall of 10.1 mm while observatories at Lodhi Road, Palam, Ridge and Ayanagar recorded 4.1 mm, 3.4 mm, 5.2 mm and 31.8 mm respectively till 5.30 PM, a MeT official her said. Humidity level in the city oscillated between 49 and 98 per cent.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As per forecast, rain is likely to occur during night too. Delhi recorded a maximum temperature of 38.6 degrees Celsius, the official said. The weatherman has predicted partly overcast condition along with the possibility of rains and thunderstorm on Tuesday.On Sunday, the maximum temperature recorded was 40.1 degrees Celsius. In Punjab and Haryana too, the maximum temperature level hovered close to normal level after rain lashed a few parts ofthe twin states. Chandigarh, which received light rains in the late afternoon, recorded a maximum of 37.9 degrees Celsius, the MeT Department there said.In Haryana, Karnal registered a high of 36.4 degrees while Ambala’s maximum settled at 37.6 degrees. However, Hisar was hot at 41.1 degrees Celsius.Among other places which received rains in Haryana included Gurgaon, Faridabad, Rohtak and Panchkula. In Punjab, Amritsar recorded a high of 35.3 degrees after it was hit by light rain. Ludhiana and Patiala recorded a maximum of of 39 degrees Celsius each.Phagwara, Jalandhar, Mohali and Ropar in Punjab were among other places which received rain.The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) predicted heavy rainfall in drought-hit Vidarbha and Marathwada regions in the coming two days, even as it said that around 90 per centMaharashtra has been covered by monsoon. Two persons were killed in Azamgarh district after being hit by lightning in Dubra village in Bardah area while they were working in their field, police said ,adding, both of them died on the spot.Meanwhile, light to moderate rain and thunder showers lashed few places in Uttar Pradesh since yesterday.Highest maximum temperature over the state was 40.2 degree Celsius recored at Etawah.In West Bengal, Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling received 114.6 mm, 86 mm and 4.9 mm of rainfall since yesterday. Kolkata received mild rains and maximum temperature was recorded at 34.4 degrees Celsius. In Odisha, Balasore and Nawana and Kaptipad also received rains.In Bihar, Patna registered maximum temperature of 38.1 degrees Celsius, while Gaya, Bhagalpur and Purnea stood at 39.5 degrees, 36.5 degrees and 36 degrees respectively.

No public holiday tomorrow; yoga voluntary for government employees

There will be no public holiday and yoga will be voluntary for central government employees on Tuesday, when the country observes second International Yoga Day. “There will be no holiday and all government offices will remain open tomorrow,” a senior official in Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said. He said the Centre has not made it mandatory for the employees to take part in yoga.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”It is voluntary. Necessary arrangements have been put in place to allow employees to attend yoga at various programmes being organised across the country,” the official said.There are about 50 lakh central government employees. Over one lakh events have been planned in the country on second International Yoga Day. Of these, 10 regional-level mega events will be hosted in Varanasi, Imphal, Jammu, Shimla, Vadodara, Lucknow, Bengaluru, Vijayawada, Bhubaneshwar and Hoshiarpur. The main programme will be held in Chandigarh which will be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Yoga day programmes will also be organised in 391 universities, 16,000 colleges and 12,000 schools across the country.

Mega preparations in India and across globe ahead of International Yoga Day

Preparations are on in full swing across the country and abroad to celebrate the International Day of Yoga tomorrow, as people were seen holding rehearsals on a large scale besides other cultural events.The main event will take place in Chandigarh where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will participate.The Common Yoga Protocol will begin at 7 am and last for 45 minutes.In the run up to the celebrations of International Day of Yoga, rehearsal of Yogasanas was held at Rajpath and other places in the national capital yesterday.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In Mumbai, people cutting across all age are getting ready to perform in their best vigor for the International yoga day.Various academic institutions, women?s groups, senior citizen enthusiasts clubs have been training their members with regular yogasana sessions every day.In Himachal Pradesh, the celebrations for second International Yoga Day have begun at various places with Yoga run and Yoga camps in schools.In capital Shimla, a preparatory Yoga camp was organised yesterday at Raj Bhawan under the guidance of Governor Acharya Devvrat.The Goa government has decided to appoint yoga trainers in primary and high schools. Addressing a press conference in Panaji yesterday, Chief Minister Lakshmi Kant Parsekar said, these yoga trainers will be appointed on contractual basis.He clarified that yoga classes will not be compulsory and facility will be provided as per school demand.Hundreds of thousands of Yoga lovers from Britain to Australia rolled out mats yesterday to practice complex Yoga postures.High Commission of India and the Indian government’s Tourist Office in London, in collaboration with 14 British Yoga institutions organised the day-long event at Potters Fields Park, near the iconic Tower Bridge.Over 10,000 people from all walks of life participated in various Yoga and meditation sessions.In the United States of America, Indian classical dances and demonstration of popular Yoga asanas on the lawns of magnificent US Congress are being practiced as part of week-long International Day of Yoga celebrations.In South Africa, thousands gathered at more than a dozen venues across the country. Yoga and meditation sessions were also organised across major Australian cities including Canberra and Melbourne with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hailing Yoga as one of India’s gifts to the world.He commended Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of supporting global peace and well-being.In a video message yesterday, Prime Minister Modi asserted that Yoga was much more than a physical exercise and it enables people to access a new dimension of the self.The first International Day of Yoga was celebrated last year. Yoga Day aims at raising awareness about the benefits of practicing Yoga.

Jat leaders hold talks with Haryana government, seek withdrawal of ‘false cases’

Chandigarh: On 13th day of their fresh pro-quota stir, some Jat leaders, accompanied by Khap representatives, held talks with the Haryana government on Friday and demanded withdrawal of “false cases” registered against youths in connection with the February stir and adequate compensation for the relatives of those who had died.

Among the participants in the talks at Panchkula were Sube Singh Samain, Sarv Khap Jat Panchayat spokesperson, its senior leader Nafe Singh Nain, Tek Chand Kandela of the Kandela Khap and Jat leader Hawa Singh Sangwan.

State Agriculture Minister OP Dhankar and Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s political advisor Jagdish Chopra, talked to them from the government side.

Security forces during the Jat agitation. File photo. PTISecurity forces during the Jat agitation. File photo. PTI

Security forces during the Jat agitation. File photo. PTI

The main demand raised in the meeting was release of “innocent youths” arrested during February stir and adequate compensation and job to next of kin of those who lost their lives in the recent stir.

Dhankar told the leaders the government is fighting against the High Court stay on reservation granted by it and assured their other demands would be considered in a “sympathetic manner”.

All India Jat Arakshan Sangarsh Samiti (AIJASS), which is spearheading the stir, has been invited for talks with state government representatives in Delhi on Saturday. “We are meeting them in Delhi Saturday,” AIJASS president Yashpal Malik said.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said this is a “social issue and it should not be politicised”.

Khattar, who was in Rohtak on Friday, said as the reservation issue is under the consideration of the court, all would have to unitedly plea to make it reach the desired conclusion. However, it is the responsibility of the government to get it resolved, he added.

The state on Friday remained peaceful and no untoward incident was reported, officials said.

Yoga tourism: Foreign delegation to participate in International Yoga Day celebrations in India

A 50-member foreign delegation from 20 countries will visit India to participate in the International Yoga Day, officials on Wednesday said.The delegation, comprising tour operators, travel agents, mediapersons and others will be split into two groups, and one will participate in the yoga day function in Delhi while the other in Chandigarh on June 21.”Ministry of Tourism is celebrating the 2nd International Day of Yoga on June 21 by hosting a FAM tour for a group of 50 foreign delegates…from 20 countries which are source markets and the markets that matter for promotion of yoga and wellness,” an official statement said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Both groups will also follow a tour programme including visit to the wellness and spiritual centres in Haridwar, Rishikesh, Trivandrum, Cochin, Neyyar (Kerala), Pondicherry and Chennai, it said.

Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka in Shimla on private visit

Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her daughter Priyanka Gandhi are on a private visit in Shimla during which they also went to oversee the construction work of the latter’s house in Chharabra.They flew to Chandigarh from Delhi on Monday in a special aircraft and reached here by road and checked in at a hotel in Chharabra, 15 km from Shimla, from where the duo went to the site and remained there for about two hours.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The NSG had cordoned off the entire area in the vicinity of the villa which is close to the summer residence of the President, the Retreat, in a high security zone from where the media was barred.The architect, contractor and president of District Congress Committee (Shimla Rural), Kehar Singh Khachi were also with them. Sonia and Priyanka will stay here till tomorrow and leave for Delhi on June 15.

Keep yoga above politics, make Punjab drug-free: Sri Ravi Shankar

Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Friday said the need of the hour was to make Punjab drug free and appealed to people to keep yoga above politics.”It was important to make Punjab drug free. In the present situation in Punjab, everybody should come forward to make the state drug free and save the youths of Punjab,” he said during a meditation session at the Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre (PRC) here.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He also appealed to everyone to keep yoga above politics and participate in the event on International Yoga Day in Chandigarh in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also participate. Ravi Shankar emphasized the importance of Yoga for every individual irrespective of cast, creed or social status and said people should not drag religion into yoga.He said that yoga is not just asanas or physical exercise rather its a complete science which provides us techniques to lead a stress-free life.During his brief stay at the centre, Ravi Shankar interacted with the inmates and gave them some tips to remain happy.On the occasion of International Yoga Day, Lt Gen KJ Singh, GoC-in-C of Western Command said an effort will be made to bring Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the PRC and interact with the bravehearts. He said that a sports complex is going to be inaugurated shortly at the PRC complex for the fitness of its inmates.

Yoga Day 2016 diluted: No ‘suryanamaskar’, chanting of ‘Om’ not compulsory

New Delhi: ‘Suryanamaskar asana’ will not be part of this year’s Yoga Day celebrations and chanting of ‘Om’
won’t be compulsory even though Yoga is incomplete without it, Ayush Minister Shripad Naik said about the 21 June event which is expected entail a collective cost of hundreds of crores of rupees.

“The Suryanamaskar asana last year also we had not taken it. It is a complex exercise. It is difficult to do in 45 minutes and for people who are new to the exercise. Therefore we have not kept this one,” Naik, whose ministry is the nodal agency for organising the annual celebrations, told the media.

There has been a controversy over this asana, with Muslim groups saying their faith does not allow such a practice.

The International Yoga Day is celebrated on 21 June since last year, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking a lead in this. Modi performed the Yoga at Rajpath in New Delhi last year and this time, he will do so in Chandigarh.

Naik also dismissed the controversy related to chanting of ‘Om’ during the event and it has not been made compulsory.

“There is always some opposition whenever some good work is done. There is no opposition this year to it. We have not made it compulsory. We have made those people who are opposing understand this and it seems they have understood,” he said but added “without OM, yoga cannot be complete.”

Chanting of ‘Om’ has also been a matter of controversy, with Muslim bodies saying members of their faith cannot do so.

There was a controversy recently too over the UGC’s directive asking universities and colleges to follow Ayush ministry’s yoga protocol that begins with chanting of ‘Om’ and some Sanskrit shlokas during Yoga Day celebrations on 21 June.

Yoga Day 2015. PTIYoga Day 2015. PTI

Yoga Day 2015. PTI

The government, however, had insisted that last year’s protocol has been maintained and no changes have been made. “There is no compulsion to chant ‘Om’,” it had earlier said.

About whether a holiday will be declared on 21 June, Naik said, “It is not needed, nobody has demanded that. Last year,
also no such demand came….Yoga’s time is early morning. It will go on around 8 am…There is no need of a holiday.”

However, “if the demand comes, I will request the Prime Minister to do so (declare holiday),” he said. The Yoga Day this year falls on Tuesday while last year it was a Sunday.

Ayush Ministry officials said that yoga has been added in the physical activity sessions in various schools for class six to tenth but it has not been made compulsory.

Naik said that a circular has also been issued by the HRD Minister to all the schools to include yoga and while many schools have adopted it, for others, “work is in progress”.

“HRD minister has sent circular to schools. Work is in progress. All schools have started adopting,” Naik said.

Asked about the budget for the celebrations, Ministry secretary Ajit Sharan said every ministry is spending its own money and Ayush Ministry is not supporting anybody in terms of funds for celebrating this.

“Although if all is taken collectively, it may be hundreds of crores. But from the Ayush Ministry side, the sum is around Rs 15 crore,” he said.

Around 50,000 people, including 500 ‘divyangs’, are expected to take part in Yoga Day events organised by the government. The Ayush Ministry, which has written to various industry bodies like FICCI and CII and other organisations encouraging them to participate in the events, will, however, not focus on creating a world record yet again

“The effort is to take forward the momentum built last year. The celebration organised by the government across the world to mark the first International Yoga Day was a very very grand success.

“The event was able to portray the heritage of India. We have decided to take forward the momentum with greater and more active participation of all sections of the society, particularly the youth,” Naik said.

The main event will be held in Chandigarh’s Capitol Complex where as many as 30,000 participants are likely to be present.

Similar programmes will be organised at 200 other venues where another 20,000 participants will perform yoga. “Last year, the drill was for 35 minutes. This time, it will be for 45. Some asanas have been increased. Shitalapranayam has been added. Some more intermediate asanas has been added,” said Anil Ganeriwala, Joint Secretary of Ayush Ministry.

In the national capital, a mass demonstration has been planned at Connaught Place, which could see 10,000 people participating while diplomats and bureaucrats will take part in events at Nehru Park and Lodhi Garden.

The ministry will also organise a two-day international conference on “Yoga for Body and Beyond” at Vigyan Bhawan on
22 and 23 June and in which eminent experts from across the globe will participate.

A three-day yoga festival is being organised from 10-12 June as a curtain raiser for the big event later this month.

In order to create a buzz around the event, “Moonlit Yoga” and “Yoga flash mobs” will be held, officials said. The Ministry of External Affairs is coordinating with its 173 Missions for organising Yoga Day events.

About 5,000 defence personnel and 2,000 paramilitary personnel will also take part in the events.

“Rickshaw-pullers as well as Self Help Groups have also been roped in,” a senior official told reporters.

A month-long training programme has being conducted from 21 May to 20 June in 675 districts of the country while 100 RWAs in 10 cities have also been provided training in yoga. CBSE and ICSE schools will be mobilising students for events at school-level while 36 lakh NSS volunteers and six lakh NCC cadets are also likely to participate in events across the country.

The University Grants Commission is likely to conduct a 2-3 day “yoga fest” in all universities.

The ministry has asked state governments to encourage use of locally made yoga mats for the events, a move which comes after a controversy started last year over procurement of Chinese-made mats. Naik said the move will help provide employment opportunities to local artisans and entrepreneurs.

Monsoon likely to hit Kerala in next two days: IMD

New Delhi: The much-awaited southwest monsoon is expected to hit the Kerala coast in next two days.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

However, there is going to be “no significant” change in the temperatures in northwest India for the next five days, which is reeling under intense heat.

“Conditions continue to remain favourable for the onset of southwest monsoon over Kerala in next 48 hours,” the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Monday.

The IMD had earlier said that monsoon should hit the Kerala coast on 7 June, with an error margin of plus or minus four days.

The MeT department has also predicted “heavy to very heavy rains” in coastal Karnataka and Kerala, Arunachal Pradesh, south interior Karnataka and Lakshadweep.

Thunderstorms accompanied with squall are very likely at isolated places over Telangana and north interior Karnataka.

“Heavy to very heavy rains are also likely at isolated places over sub-Himalayan West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura,” it said.

However, heatwave conditions are “very likely” to prevail over isolated places in Rajasthan and west and east Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, south Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat.

Much-awaited southwest monsoon likely to hit Kerala in next 2 days: IMD

The much-awaited southwest monsoon is expected to hit the Kerala coast in next two days.However, there is going to be “no significant” change in the temperatures in northwest India for the next five days, which is reeling under intense heat.”Conditions continue to remain favourable for the onset of southwest monsoon over Kerala in next 48 hours,” the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Monday.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The IMD had earlier said that monsoon should hit the Kerala coast on June 7, with an error margin of plus or minus four days.The MeT department has also predicted “heavy to very heavy rains” in coastal Karnataka and Kerala, Arunachal Pradesh, south interior Karnataka and Lakshadweep.Thunderstorms accompanied with squall are very likely at isolated places over Telangana and north interior Karnataka.”Heavy to very heavy rains are also likely at isolated places over sub-Himalayan West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura,” it said.However, heatwave conditions are “very likely” to prevail over isolated places in Rajasthan and west and east Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, south Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat.

Jat stir: 4,800 paramilitary personnel deployed, administration on high alert

Chandigarh: Ahead of the proposed Jat quota agitation from Sunday, security arrangements in Haryana have been tightened with the deployment of 4,800 paramilitary personnel and the administration is on high alert.

“Besides adequate deployment of police personnel, as many as 48 companies of paramilitary forces have been deployed at various places in the state keeping in view the stir call from tomorrow. We have asked for 15 more companies from the Centre,” Haryana Additional Chief Secretary (Home), Ram Niwas said on Saturaday.

He said, “we are not taking any chance,” even though only one group was going ahead with the dharna.

He also said that police and paramilitary forces have been deployed to guard the Western Yamuna Canal in Sonipat district.

Protesters had disrupted water supply to the national capital by damaging the Carrier-Lined Channel (CLC) of Munak Canal during the earlier Jat agitation in February.

The administration has specified one spot in each district where people can peacefully hold dharna, officials said.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

However, officials said they were wary of the fact that protesters may attempt to block national highways and rail tracks, like in February, and therefore they have put maximum security to prevent a repeat of the situation.

Haryana Police has cancelled leave of all personnel except in emergency cases till further orders.

Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPc have already been imposed in seven sensitive districts of Haryana barring gathering of five or more persons and paramilitary forces have been conducting flag marches during the past few days .

Police are keeping a close watch on anyone trying to spread rumours or make inflammatory statements through social media.

“Adequate security measures have been taken. We are fully prepared to deal with the situation,” Additional Director General of Police Mohammad Akil said.

“The police stations are stocked adequately equipped to dead with any kind of protest,” he said.

While Khap Panchayats have opted out of the proposed agitation and dharnas from 5 June, All India Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti (AIJASS) has given a call for the protest.

Jat community leaders, however, have assured Haryana government that they will maintain peace during the proposed pro-quota protest.

The AIJASS Hisar district president Rambhagat Malik said, “We are committed to holding dharnas in a peaceful manner.”

He also said that apart from quota for the Jat community, “We are demanding withdrawal of cases registered against our leaders and youths during the stir in February”.

However, the head of Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti, Nafe Singh Nain, yesterday said they will not participate in the protest slated for 5 June.

Thirty people were killed and properties worth hundreds of crores of rupees were destroyed during the February quota agitation by Jats.

Major highways of the country to be soon connected by a dedicated radio channel

Commuters of National Highways –those connecting Delhi-Chandigarh, Bangalore-Chennai, Indore-Bhopal, Bhubaneshwar-Puri, extension of Delhi-Jaipur to Udaipur, will soon be able to get real time traffic updates, road safety and travel tips, information about diversions and accidents and a dose of entertainment on a dedicated radio frequency, as part of an ambitious project designed by the ministry of road, transport and highways.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The initiative which was first undertaken three months ago on the 256 km Delhi-Jaipur National Highway-8 as a pilot project, riding on some of the existing frequencies of the All India Radio (AIR) will now be extended to other national highways of the country. For the Delhi stretch AIR FM Gold was to air the updates, AIR in Alwar and Jaipur was to cover the stretch in Rajasthan.For the pilot project, staff from an agency were stationed at different locations of the highway, who were to receive updates and convert them to voice modules before broadcasting them. Officials informed that about Rs1 crore was spent in the entire process.A senior official from the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry said that they are working towards providing a dedicated frequency for the purpose.Joint secretary (highways) Rohit Kumar Singh said, “The decision to extend the project to other national highways was taken after the ministry received an overwhelming response on the pilot project from different stakeholders.”Another senior official from the department said the ministry is also exploring the option of providing the information in different regional languages for different parts of the country. “This is another reason why the Delhi-Jaipur highway was chosen for the pilot project, since most users of the highway would understand Hindi and English,” said the official, adding that they would also be approaching the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India for the purpose.The union ministry has also narrowed down on an agency which will carry out a detailed assessment of the pilot project and submit a report in the next two months. The move will benefit frequent highway users, who at present, often grapple with weak radio signals once they get on the highways.Info in regional languagesAnother senior official from the department said the ministry is also exploring the option of providing the information in different regional languages for different parts of the country. “This is another reason why the Delhi-Jaipur highway was chosen for the pilot project, since most users of the highway would understand Hindi and English,” said the official, adding that they would also be approaching the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India for the purpose.

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