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CBI books sever alleged Paytm customers for fraud

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) booked seven alleged customers of Paytm for fraud after the digital wallet company complained that it had been cheated to the tune of Rs 3.21 lakh through 37 orders spread over the last two years.The case was registered against the seven accused individuals and unknown officials of Paytm under provisions of criminal conspiracy, cheating, and forgery, besides invoking provisions of the Information Technology Act.However, the digital wallet company, which has named seven customers in its complaint, has not identified any of its officials, despite mentioning that its employees facilitating refunds have been assigned specific login IDs and passwords, making it easier to identify those who processed which refunds. The customers, who allegedly cheated Paytm, were based in Lodhi colony in Delhi, besides Mathura and Bhilwara.This is the second time in December that the $500 company has filed a criminal complaint against its customers. The company claimed it makes payments for defective products received by customers and also arranges a reverse pickup of the damaged product sent to the merchant.In some cases from March 2014 to April 2016, where refunds were made to the customers, delivery of orders were also successfully made to the same customers.

Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi reaches out to minorities urging them to go cashless

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The inaugural ‘cashless chaupal’, an initiave of the Centre aimed at helping minorities connect with cashless economic system post demonetization, was organised in Moradabad on Monday with Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi pitching for Muslims to join the campaign against “cancer of corruption”.During the chaupal, held in the district’s Dalpatpur tehsil, the Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs (Independent Charge) informed the attendees about benefits of digital transactions, propagating it as an “effective mission” to establish transparent economic system to fight black money.Bank officials helped people present at the event in downloading various mobile applications related to digital payment, net and mobile banking and also made presentation on digital payment system, a statement said. “Digital transaction campaign is aimed at establishing an economic system which is based on less cash and maximum digital payment.”Na nakad na udhar, karen digital len den aur karobar (neither in cash nor on credit, let’s do digital transactions and business),” he raised the slogan while lauding the system, according to the statement.”The Muslim and other sections should join this campaign and help eradicate the cancer of corruption,” Naqvi said, adding the weaker sections of the society will benefit from the government’s decision.Stating that electronic voting system could attain 100% success in world’s largest democracy, Naqvi exuded confidence that digital transaction, online and mobile banking too will be successful. He claimed that cashless system will help farmers and small traders as he averred that e-payment and mobile banking can be helpful in places where banking system is not available.Citing example of direct benefit transfer (DBT) system used by the Minority Affairs Ministry to dispense scholarships to students from minority communities, Naqvi emphasised that digital system can help remove middlemen and ensure benefits reach the deserving individuals. He said the Minority Affairs Ministry has so far disbursed scholarships worth Rs 6,715 crore to 3 crore students into their bank accounts through DBT. The Union Minister said digital transactions will strengthen taxation system as more people will become part of it.Stating that several countries such as Sweden, France, Canada, Britain and Australia have become cashless economy, Naqvi said such a system can be implemented in India “easily”.In India, there are about 103 crore mobile phone users, 50 crore internet users, 144 crore bank accounts (figures include multiple accounts held by one person) and 25 crore Jan Dhan accounts. Besides, there are over 14 lakh Point of Sale (PoS) machines and 73 crore credit/debit cards in use, he claimed. However, the statement quoting the Union Minister, did not mention source of the statistics.The second edition of the chaupal will be held in Delhi on December 21.

Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi urges minority communities to go cashless, fight corruption

Moradabad (UP): The inaugural ‘cashless chaupal‘, an initiave of the Centre aimed at helping minorities connect with cashless economic system post demonetisation, was organised in Moradabad on Monday with union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi pitching for Muslims to join the campaign against “cancer of corruption”.

During the chaupal, held in the district’s Dalpatpur tehsil, the Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs (Independent Charge) informed the attendees about benefits of digital transactions, propagating it as an “effective mission” to establish transparent economic system to fight black money.

Bank officials helped people present at the event in downloading various mobile applications related to digital payment, net and mobile banking and also made presentation on digital payment system, a statement said.

“Digital transaction campaign is aimed at establishing an economic system which is based on less cash and maximum digital payment.

“Na nakad na udhar, karen digital len den aur karobar (neither in cash nor on credit, let’s do digital transactions and business),” he raised the slogan while lauding the system, according to the statement.

“The Muslim and other sections should join this campaign and help eradicate the cancer of corruption,” Naqvi said, adding the weaker sections of the society will benefit from the government’s decision.

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi. PTI

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi. PTI

Stating that electronic voting system could attain 100 percent success in world’s largest democracy, Naqvi exuded confidence that digital transaction, online and mobile banking too will be successful.

He claimed that cashless system will help farmers and small traders as he averred that e-payment and mobile banking can be helpful in places where banking system is not available.

Citing example of direct benefit transfer (DBT) system used by the Minority Affairs Ministry to dispense scholarships to students from minority communities, Naqvi emphasised that digital system can help remove middlemen and ensure benefits reach the deserving individuals.

He said the Minority Affairs Ministry has so far disbursed scholarships worth Rs 6,715 crore to three crore students into their bank accounts through DBT.

The union minister said digital transactions will strengthen taxation system as more people will become part of it.

Stating that several countries such as Sweden, France, Canada, Britain and Australia have become cashless economy, Naqvi said such a system can be implemented in India “easily”.

In India, there are about 103 crore mobile phone users, 50 crore internet users, 144 crore bank accounts (figures include multiple accounts held by one person) and 25 crore Jan Dhan accounts. Besides, there are over 14 lakh Point of Sale (PoS) machines and 73 crore credit/debit cards in use, he claimed.

However, the statement quoting the union minister, did not mention source of the statistics.

The second edition of the chaupal will be held in Delhi on 21 December.

First Published On : Dec 19, 2016 20:15 IST

Demonetisation: BJP distributes ladoos to people standing in queues, Twitterati reacts

On Tuesday, Delhi BJP unit came up with an unique way of appreciating Indians who have patiently stood in lines outside ATMs, ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the demonetisation drive on 8 November. The newly appointed Delhi unit chief Manoj Tiwari instructed cadres to give a laddoo to every household in Delhi for their ‘patience’, reported The Indian Express.

“Modi has launched this revolutionary step to tackle black money. Despite facing some inconvenience, people supported the move. Now, it is our turn to thank them and show our appreciation and respect for their patience,” the daily reported the actor-turned-politician as saying.

However, this new move by the BJP ensured Twitterati had a field day.

Singer-music director Vishal Dadlani was at his sarcastic best!

Then there was a change in narrative too.

Sarcasm anyone?

Laddoos in the age of Digital India

Some food for thought!

Fake Rahul Gandhi trolling Union Minister Nitin Gadkari!

This would be heart-breaking!

A path breaking idea!

Pun intended!

So was it a hoax?

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 18:28 IST

DigiShala to raise digital literacy in rural areas

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After trying to goad urban consumers through incentives on digital transactions, the government on Friday launched a free-to-air TV channel — DigiShala — to educate and make people in rural and semi-rural areas aware about how to transact in cashless modes of payment.Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Electronics and Information Technology (IT) (MeitY) & Law, said the new TV channel will be broadcast on DD free-DTH service and promote its campaign Digi Dhav Abhiyan to its two crore viewers across the country.This campaign will promote digital literacy by educating citizens, traders, merchants and other business operators in these area on various digital payment modes and training them on how to download, install and transact without cash on digital and electronic devices like phones, computers, point of sale (PoS) machines, etc.The minister said cashless transactions in the country has already risen on an average by around 400 per cent to 1,000 per cent since November 8, when the government banned the use of old Rs500 and Rs1000 notes.He believes DigiShala will further accelerate the switch over from cash to digital.”All the modes of digital payment are showing enormous rise with an average of 400 per cent to 1000 per cent. If it is growing so fast without education then with education through DigiShala, you can imagine the acceleration in its pace,” he said.Furnishing information on the growth of digital transaction since November 8 to December 7, Prasad said payments through e-wallet had jumped from 17 lakh transactions per day to 63 lakh transactions per day with a rise in value from Rs 52 crore to Rs 191 crore.During the same period, use of Rupay cards climbed from 3.85 lakh transactions per day to 16 lakh transactions per day. In terms of value, it grew over 500 per cent from Rs 39.17 crore per day to Rs 236 crore per day.

Omar Abdullah scoffs at demonetization, says people are being told where to spend their money

Not only do we not have the freedom to access our money, we are also being told where we can spend our earnings, said Omar Abdullah. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Criticising demonetization, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said on Thursday it had not only deprived people access to their money but now they are also being denied freedom of spending at places of their choice.”So not only do we not have the freedom to access our money, we are also being told where we can spend our earnings. A relative of mine got his salary the other day which included a nice thick booklet of Rs 50 vouchers and a list of shops he can spend them at,” Omar said in a series of tweets.Reacting to reports that authorities have snapped mobile phone services in some parts of south Kashmir Anantnag district, the National Conference leader said the move has rendered the digital wallets of cashless economy useless. “In a cashless economy all the digital wallets are now useless. Tell me again how we are going to sell the utopian dream to people?” he asked.

Free Internet data, talktime for Goa youth from tomorrow

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In line with the central government’s Digital India initiative, the Goa Government will on Monday launch its ambitious scheme providing limited free talktime and Internet data to the youth in the state.”Goa Yuva Sanchar Yojana will be unveiled on Monday. It will be launched across the state providing 100 minutes talk time and 3 GB Internet data free with a SIM card (every month) for youths aged between 16-30 years,” said Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar .He said the government has tied up with private mobile services provider Vodafone for the scheme which will benefit nearly 1.25 lakh youth.Parsekar said the state Cabinet on November 25 had granted its approval to the programme which is in line with the Digital India initiative of the Narendra Modi Government.The Chief Minister said the government has made a provision to discontinue with the scheme if a beneficiary is found to be misusing it.The Digital India initiative is a flagship programme of the Modi Government that seeks to transform the country into a digitally-empowered society and knowledge economy.Launched in July last year, the programme aims to provide a much-needed thrust to areas like broadband highways, universal access to mobile connectivity, public Internet access programme and e Governance.

Is this real truth of digital India? Congress questions Modi after account hack

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After the official accounts of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and Indian National Congress twitter handles got hacked, the grand old party on Thursday said that free speech and right to disagree are under threat and shows extremity of intolerance. The Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala questioned the cyber security of the nation and also took a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious Digital India project.”Free speech and right to disagree are under attack by lumpen Fascists in this country. Such vulgar and despotic attempts reflect the extremity of intolerance and culture that resorts to abuse when answerless. Congress party has always dealt with such animosity and such hatred with compassion and tolerance,” he said.”It exposes the weaknesses of the cyber security and also digital payments network in India. Is this the real truth of digital India? This is something which Modiji needs to ponder over,” he added.
ALSO READ Rahul Gandhi’s Twitter account hacked, Congress calls it sinister conspiracy to abuse and intimidate A day after Rahul Gandhi’s hacked Twitter handle put out offensive and homophobic posts on Wednesday evening, the Congress party’s account has also been hacked and abusive tweets have been posted on Thursday morning. The matter of the Congress vice-president’s hacked account was taken to cyber cell on Thursday.The Congress has, meanwhile, filed a complaint with the cyber cell of Delhi Police on the hacking of Gandhi’s account. Delhi Police has initiated the probe and has written to the management of the social media site seeking necessary details.

Note ban: Akodara, the future of Narendra Modi’s cashless villages is here

Imagine a place in India where you don’t need cash to buy a packet of salt or other groceries. A place where you don’t need to stand in long lines to exchange your old currency notes at a bank, or queue outside an ATM to withdraw your own cash. With the current cash crunch such a place would be heaven on earth. After all, if you too have faced currency problems, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes on 8 November, you are not alone. Almost every nook and cranny of the country is facing this issue.

But, that’s not the case for the villagers of Akodara, a tiny village situated in the Sabarkantha district of Gujarat. It’s around 90 kilometres from the state’s financial capital Ahmedabad.

ICICI Bank adopted the village in 2015. It has now virtually gone cashless using digital technology. Jotsnaben Patel, a teacher says, “Here most local financial transactions happen via mobile banking, card payments and net banking instead of cash. It’s India’s first digital and cashless village.”

Many transactions of up to Rs 5000 happen via  SMS mobile banking. A simple SMS from the buyer via the bank’s payment gateway; and the payment directly reaches from the buyer’s bank account into the shopkeeper’s bank account within seconds. Doing away the need to handle cash.

Each of 250 households of Akodara has a savings account, and 1,036 adults of the 1,191 total populations have savings accounts. The bank trained the villagers to adopt the technology.
A villager told Firstpost, “Because of digital banking, we haven’t faced any inconvenience after demonetisation . Our neighboring villages have faced cash crunch issues. We use our mobile phones in four- five shops in the village to make the payments. When we used to handle cash, we used to spend it. Now we all are saving, and it’s become a habit.”

A a bird's eye view of the village of Akodara

A a bird’s eye view of the village of Akodara

There’s an ATM located in the village by the bank, which is used mostly by villagers from the neighbouring village of Chhadarda. “After demonetisation, the villagers of Akodara did exchange their old currency notes at the bank, most people in the line were from neighbouring places,” says  a local shopkeeper known as Patel Bhai.

The village even has its own website:

The village panchayat has access to the latest price of agricultural commodities on NCDEX via an internet facility provided by the bank. The village has an almost 100 percent literacy rate, and mobile banking is done in both English as well as Gujarati.

Among other digital initiatives, Sabar Dairy, aka the Sabarkantha District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union Limited has now built animal hostels for the village. Patel Palakh Kumar Suresh Bhai, a dairy farmer says, “Every villager keeps his cattle in the animal hostel. The Sabar dairy tanker comes and collects milk from the hostel in the morning. And, milk is tested on the spot.” The amount is credited into the villager’s account every 10 days.

This move has worked well.

Firstpost visited a few dairy farms in the Anand district, and the owners were struggling to buy fodder for their cattle due to cash crunch issues. But, the dairy farmers in Akodara bought, the fodder using their debit card with just one swipe. The dairy farmers in Anand district could not buy an adequate quantity of fodder for their cattle, which resulted in a lower production of milk. That wasn’t the case at Akodara.

The village has primary, secondary and higher secondary schools, equipped with smart learning and teaching solutions like smart boards, computers, tablets and the like. A school management system to make the teacher’s life easy it may well be, but it also does away with the mundane task of taking daily attendance. Pinkesh Rawal, a teacher says, “Now the children swipe their cards for attendance; they find this activity very exciting. The audiovisual mode of learning has increased interest in learning among students.”

There’s a community-owned reverse osmosis-based water treatment plant and a WiFi tower for internet connectivity to those who want to subscribe to the service. Plus, there are three micro ATMs — at the gram panchayat, the village-level cooperative society and RO plant.

Hemant Bhai, a local taxi driver says, “I drive a taxi across the state of Gujarat. I have seen every village here. In the current cash crunch, truly, the villagers of Akodara are sukhi (happy).”

Firstpost sat a few feet away from the general story near the ICICI Bank branch to watch and in the matter of half-an-hour or so, we saw three transactions. The first was conducted using a mobile phone. The second was done using hard cash and the third, without any payment, carried out by an elderly lady. When asked if she uses the mobile payment option, she said, “I come and buy all that I need; my son visits the shop every few days and pays the bill via his mobile phone.”

When we spoke to a young lady about the cash payment (the second transaction), she replied, “I’m buying a Rs 5 chocolate bar for my child. I am not going to use an SMS for such a small transaction, am I?”

How India’s first digital village came into being

On 26 May, 2014, Modi took charge as Prime Minister of India. Within a year, he launched the Digital India campaign (1 July, 2015).

The campaign was committed to connect rural India with high speed internet networks, create a digital infrastructure, and improve digital literacy in the country.

ICICI Bank wanted to participate in the government initiative, along with its own goal to impart financial literacy to citizens.

ICICI Bank’s CEO Chanda Kochhar said during the launch of India’s first digital village in 2015, “It is the prime minister’s dream that India becomes digital. When we think of the word ‘digital’, what comes to our minds is big countries, and big cities. India has six lakh villages; we wanted to make one village in India 100 percent digital. The village we choose was Akodara in the Sabarkatha district of Gujarat.”

The decision was taken to convert one rural village into a 100 percent digital village. The bank shortlisted six or seven villages. One important criterion was the level of financial literacy of the villagers. Akodara has literacy levels of almost 100 percent. There are 1,015 literate people and 176 illiterate ones in this village with a total population of 1,191. Another important factor that worked in Akodara’s favour was its animal hostel. This is Asia’s first animal hostel, and was launched in 2011 by Modi when he was the Gujarat chief minister.

ICICI Bank had already set up its branch in Akodara two years ago. Within four months of setting up of the branch, the bank started working on the digital village project.

Akodara's ICICI Bank branch

Akodara’s ICICI Bank branch

Initially, the bank had 100 accounts opened; at present, there are around 1,200 accounts and every household in Akodara has a bank account.

The bankers trained men, women and senior citizens, for mobile banking via SMS as well as imparted knowledge about financial literacy.

The bankers worked closely with the gram panchayat, agri-sale mandi and the milk sale co-operative society. This ensured that all institutions were part of the financial literacy initiative as well as the digital cashless economy initiative. By 2 January, 2015, the village had gone 100 percent digital, where almost everyone went cashless for daily financial transactions.

The banks also launched other initiatives, like school automation, WiFi connectivity, a village website, a digital screen for commodity prices at the bank branch and skills development workshops for women to learn tailoring and office administration free of cost.

First Published On : Nov 28, 2016 10:43 IST

India is one of Britain’s most important and closest friends: UK PM Theresa May

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Describing India as one of the UK’s “most important and closest” friends and a leading power in the world, Prime Minister Theresa May today said she will hold talks with counterpart Narendra Modi to bolster bilateral strategic ties in areas like defence, security and trade.Ahead of her visit to India – which is May’s first bilateral visit outside the UK, an article published in the ‘Sunday Telegraph’ quoted her as saying that she plans to “promote the best of Britain” during her three-day trade mission to New Delhi and Bengaluru.She writes: “One of our most important and closest friends has to be India a leading power in the world, with whom we share so much history, culture and so may values, and which is led by a Prime Minister who is undertaking a far-reaching programme of reform. “In other words, we are two countries with strong ties, a mature relationship and an opportunity to make that even deeper. That is why, today I will be travelling to India for my first bilateral visit outside Europe and first trade mission as Prime Minister, accompanied by a range of top British businesses, including some of our brightest small and medium enterprises.”We will be promoting the best of Britain, sending out the message that we are open for business, and making the most of the opportunities offered by Brexit as the world’s foremost champion of free trade.”May, who will hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Modi tomorrow, said she will seek concrete steps to move the partnership forward during the meeting.”I will be using this visit to reaffirm the importance of the strategic partnership we already have, which delivers huge benefits for both our countries, and to work with Prime Minister Modi to agree to concrete steps to realise our shared vision of going even further in our cooperation across trade, investment, defence and security.”Building 100 new ‘Smart Cities’, encouraging firms to ‘Make in India’, getting the country online with ‘Digital India’, delivering better healthcare, infrastructure, skills and finance these form Prime Minister Modi’s vision, and with our world-class architects, lawyers, financiers, engineers, medics, academics and tech experts, Britain is the ideal partner to help achieve that, creating jobs and growth in both our countries.”Dismissing any talk of a free trade agreement (FTA), she said while an FTA cannot be signed until the official Brexit process, engagement with countries outside the EU can be stepped up. There is a great deal we can do right now to break down barriers to trade, open up new markets for British businesses and prepare the ground for ambitious free trade agreements once we have left the EU,” she said.”That’s why we are working with the Indians to strengthen intellectual property rights, enable the UK’s world-leading services sector to work in the India market, and offer support to Prime Minister Modi’s aim to make India an easier place to do business,” she said.”It is why we are introducing new British businesses to the opportunities on offer. And alongside this, while we will maintain our support for an EU-India free trade agreement, we will continue our dialogue with India about a future bilateral trade arrangement between our two countries,” she noted.She said her visit to India is about “collaboration” and highlighting the opportunities for new ways in which we can collaborate in future.”I want to encourage more Indian businesses to invest in Britain, I want to see more British firms doing business in India, and I want to work with Prime Minister Modi to deliver the ambitious visions we share for our countries.”Free trade and increased cooperation will make us all more secure and more prosperous. Take advantage of the opportunities before us, and I truly believe that this can be the partnership of the century,” she concluded.

US lauds PM Modi’s agenda for improving business; says India-US trade relationship to grow

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Describing the reforms undertaken by the Indian government as “work in progress”, a top Obama Administration official has linked the growth in bilateral trade between the two countries to India opening up and liberalising its economy.”Prime Minister Modi came in with a very ambitious agenda, including to improve the business environment, the Make in India initiative, the Digital India initiative,” US Trade Representative Michael Froman told PTI in an exclusive interview ahead of his next week’s travel to India to attend the US-India Trade Policy Forum meeting.There have been a number of important reforms – the Goods and Services Tax bill, the Bankruptcy Law, the creation of commercial courts, the issuance of a national IP strategy, the opening of certain sectors to investment that are important and help contribute to a better business environment, he said. “However, it is a work in progress, and there continues to be issues around investment and restrictions that can be addressed in order to improve the business environment,” said Froman who is scheduled to travel to Mumbai and New Delhi next week.One of the key architects of India-US trade relationship in the Obama Administration, Froman said India had been successful in increasing its growth rate, and is now one of the fastest growing economies in the world. “And as it opens up to further trade and investment, I think we will see the relationship expanding further,” he said when asked about the timeline to achieve the goal set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama to increase the bilateral trade to US $500 billion a year.”The United States is quite an open economy, so the key is that as India continues down the path of reform, and opens and liberalises its economy, it will help grow the US-India trade relationship,” Froman said.In Mumbai on October 19, Froman is expected to meet with the private sector, and on the next day he would be in New Delhi for the US India Trade Policy Forum meeting.The Indian delegation would be led by Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman.”This is a good opportunity to have another Trade Policy Forum. Over the last few years, we have seen enhanced engagement through the Forum on a whole array of issues, and it has proven to be a useful Forum for getting the issues on the table,” he said.”The US and India have a US $109 billion trade relationship, but given the size of our economies, and how much we have in common, we could be doing a lot more. The TPF is one mechanism for us to address the issues so that we can expand our trade and investment relationship,” he said. Froman said the Obama Administration had worked with India on an array of intellectual property rights issues.”We both care a lot about strong copyright protection and the enforcement of copyrights, and the new (Indian) National Policy includes a focus on trade secrets, which we think is important. We appreciate the process that India went through in developing its IPR Policy,” he said.”We continue to work in the pharmaceutical area, and we very much believe that there is no contradiction in promoting innovation and promoting access,” Froman said.Asserting that the US is very much committed to the public health objective, Froman said with the government of India, the Obama Administration had talked about a whole array of issues about access to medicines, including tariffs on imported medicine and opening up the health services market so that there are more providers in the market. “We try to take a holistic approach to this,” he noted.The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a very high safety standards, he said, when asked about the delay in FDA’s clearances for Indian drug and pharma companies. “We do not compromise that for anybody. The primary mandate of the FDA is safety. I’m sure it is a process that takes some concerted effort, but at the end of the day, it means that Indian firms will be meeting a very high standard,” he observed.

India Post lashes out at Arvind Kejriwal in a tweet, later apologises and alleges hacking

New Delhi: The official Twitter handle of India Post on Wednesday tagged Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in a tweet, berating him for “becoming headlines” in the Pakistani media for “political gains”, but later deleted it and issued an apology.

“@ArvindKejriwal you have failed us big time Mr. Kejriwal, for you petty political gains you can become headlines for Pakistani press (sic),” the tweet, which was put out around 12 pm read.
When contacted, an official of the India Post said it may have been the result of “hacking or technical loophole”.


Image courtesy: News18

“Corrective action was taken as soon as we learnt about it. We have apologised for the tweet. It may be an act of hacking or any technical loophole. We are looking into the matter. India Post does not intend to hurt anyone, which is clearly known to everyone,” the official said.

“Account hacked & some negative message @ArvindKejriwal has been posted. We sincerely apologies for inconvenience @manojsinhabjp @rsprasad (sic),” India Post later tweeted.

Aam Aadmi Party’s IT head Ankit Lal dismissed the clarification as the “same old and lame excuse”.

He mocked Union IT & Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, urging him to give a new phone to the “bhakt” who is being paid for running the departments Twitter handle.

This is not the first time that a government Twitter handle has run into troubled waters. The official handle of Indian Railways had retweeted a critical comment made by a user against Kejriwal on 8 September.

The official handle of Digital India had last month shared a poem hailing the security action and killings of civilians in Kashmir. It was later deleted and the person who had tweeted it suspended.

AIR had, through a tweet, taken on Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi the same month, while in July, Startup Indias Twitter account had shared two tweets targeting journalists and Pakistan.

Modi govt spent more than Rs 1000 crore on advertisements to mark two years in office: Arvind Kejriwal

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday accused the Modi government of having spent “more than Rs 1000 cr” on advertisements to mark two years in office, citing “sources”.”Modi govt spend on ads for jst ONE event 2 yr bash? Sources- more than Rs 1000cr,” he said in a tweet.At the same time, Kejriwal said the expenditure of the Delhi government was less than Rs 150 crore for a full year.”All Del govt depts total spend less than 150cr for full yr,” he tweeted.The AAP government has been accused by BJP and Congress of having a large advertisement budget.Prime Minister Narendra Modi and most of his ministerial colleague are expected to attend an event at India Gate to be hosted by mega star Amitabh Bachchan on May 28 to mark the second anniversary of the government.The government is organising the event ‘Zara Muskura Do’ that will have several performances and programmes highlighting its “achievements”.The show will be beamed across the country by Doordarshan.Various schemes and programmes, particularly Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Digital India and Rural Electrification, will be highlighted during the show.Programmes to mark the completion of the Modi government’s second year in office will also be held in various other cities.The Modi government today completed two years in office.

Maharashtra to launch satellite-mapping, digitisation of rural land

Over 150 years after the last comprehensive survey of land across Maharashtra was launched, the state government will undertake satellite mapping of rural land and digitisation of these maps.The survey will initially be launched initially in six districts — Raigad, Pune, Amravati, Nagpur, Aurangabad and Nashik. It will eventually cover the entire 3.07 lakh square km area of Maharashtra. Of this, 2.85 lakh sq km area comprise the rural areas.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The roll-out in six districts is expected to cost around Rs 230 crore, while for the state, it will be Rs 1,500 crore. The state is planning to source funding from the Government of India’s Digital India Land Records Modernization Programme (DILRMP).The land records reform project will help the transition from the current system, under which only a presumptive title of land is provided, to one where title is clear and ownership is guaranteed to reduce litigation and disputes.It will check cheating as buyers will be able to locate their land parcels on maps with plans to ensure that, finally, holdings can be geo-mapped and geo-referenced with latitude and longitude. It will also introduce ease of doing business for corporate houses and individuals.Apart from 55.58 lakh property cards in urban areas, Maharashtra has 2.11 crore holders of rural ‘records of rights,’ which are also called 7/12 extracts.”We are in the process of issuing the request for proposals (RFPs)… this will be done in around a month,” said Sambhajirao Kadu Patil, settlement commissioner and director of land records. He added that the project will cover satellite mapping, digitisation of maps and ‘ground truthing’.”This will ensure that ownership on paper will actually be reflected on the ground,” Patil said, noting that there was a huge variation in title and measurement of land on paper records and what actually existed on the ground.”Satellite images will be superimposed on maps in our records to see the difference… and ground-mouthing of these images will be done to tally them with the situation on ground,” Patil said.While the six districts were expected to be covered in three years, Maharashtra will be covered in five years.”The project will be self-supporting as the ‘sand’ (document which gives certain rights to land owners) and maps will be given to land holders for Rs 300 per acre,” Patil explained.The department will use dispute resolution committees at the village level to overcome disputes. These maps will be accurate to a distance of 30 cm on ground.During the British era, the first comprehensive survey of land was launched in 1860 and completed in 1890. In 1930, a revision survey was conducted to map those patches which were not covered and a re-survey was conducted in Vidarbha in 1974.The revenue department had launched a pilot project in 12 villages around Pirangut at Mulshi in Pune, which has a mix of industrial, commercial, agricultural land. This was concluded in August 2014.All 7/12 extracts in Maharashtra have been computerised and e-mutations–process of changing and updating details like ownership in the land records—have been launched in 315 of 358 talukas.Officials say the aim is to give conclusive title as India has no Land Titling Act, unlike in the US and some European countries.

Mumbai: Layout of flats can be altered without BMC nod

Henceforth, people who want to alter the interior layout of their flats will not have to seek prior permission from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), provided the changes do not affect the structural members, such as the pillars and load-bearing walls.”If the changes being made inside a flat do not affect the structural members, such as pillars or load-bearing walls… (the consent of the BMC will not have to be sought),” said municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta, while speaking on the sidelines of a session on ‘Doing business in Maharashtra’, organised by the state government’s Department of Industries and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), on Wednesday.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Any repairs that do not affect the footprint of the buildings and do not require BMC permissions will have to be informed through a self-declaration. Permissions, however, will have to be sought for any alterations affecting the structure.Mehta added this would be reflected in the new Development Control Regulations (DCR) to be issued soon. He explained that for instance, if a flat owner wanted to expand his bedroom while reducing the size of the hall, no consents will have to be sought from the civic body, if this confirmed to the norms.Earlier in the session, Mehta said all new roads to be built by the BMC in Mumbai will have separate utility ducts while for old roads, cross ducts will be laid at specific distances, such as 500 meters. He noted that now, the road length accounted for just 9% of Mumbai’s area, but they planned to increase it to 18%.Mehta further said 95% of Mumbai was Brownfield development and 40% of the city consisted of slums, with cessed buildings making up for 22%. It was short of one million housing units. To prevent the same roads from being dug up time and again, the BMC will ask utilities and agencies to apply for digging permissions by a specific cut-off date for concessional rates. The civic body will allocate slots to prevent the same road from being dug up repeatedly. In case digging has to be undertaken by any company later, higher premium will be levied.Mehta said every noting on files and even reasons for rejection of building proposals will be put into the public domain. Digital signatures have been distributed to officers, he added. Any documentary or telephonic reference by unconnected parties regarding grant of building permissions has been put into the public domain. This will ensure that if false complaints or vested interests were delaying a project, it will be put into the public sphere.

Google’s free Wi-Fi service to be launched at Bhubaneswar railway station

Expanding the high speed Internet network facility for rail users, railways will launch the Google’s free Wi-Fi service at Bhubaneswar station on April 17, the second station to be covered under the project.Designed to offer rail users the best internet experience, Wi-Fi will be available to any user who has a smartphone.Trial of the Wi-FI is going on for some time at Bhubaneswar in Odisha and it will be launched on Sunday, said a senior Railway Ministry official.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After Mumbai Central, Bhubaneswar will be the second station to have Google’s free Wi-Fi service in the country.Rail users would be able to stream high definition videos while waiting for their respective trains at the railway station with Wi-Fi becoming operational.Under the Digital India initiative, Railways is committed to providing better internet facilities to the passengers at 100 busiest stations by the end of this year.Besides Bhubaneswar, trials are going on at about 10 more stations including Jaipur, Patna, Ranchi, Ernakulum, Allahabad, Lucknow and Guwahati to have the Wi-Fi service shortly.Railtel, a PSU of the Railways, in collaboration with Google is providing free Wi-Fi service at stations.Eventually, the service will be rolled out at 400 stations across the country covering all major rail premises.Railtel owns a Pan-India optic fiber network exclusively on railway track. It has laid out over 45,000 kms of optic fibre networks across the country, which Google will utilise for its Wi-Fi.The network is built for wide coverage and high capacity usage unlike a typical Wi-Fi hotspot which offers connectivity in limited area.As per the plan, Railtel will be the ISP, while Google will provide the Wireless Area Networks (WAN) and will set-up the points of access at platforms.

Live | Watch: PM Modi reaches out to farmers in Ambedkar’s birthplace

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday paid rich floral tributes to B R Ambedkar at his birthplace in Kalipaltan area of Mhow cantonment town on his 125th birth anniversary.Ambedkar was born in Mhow cantonment town of Madhya Pradesh on April 14, 1891. The state government has built a grand memorial at his birth place.”Modi is the first Prime Minister of the country to pay a visit to Ambedkar’s birth place, Mhow,” Ambedkar Social Science University, Mhow, Vice Chancellor R S Kureel claimed while talking to PTI.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Prime Minister was accompanied by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and other dignitaries on the occasion.Modi took a look at the grand memorial and spent over 15 minutes there.
ALSO READ India to invest Rs 1 lakh crore for port development, says PM ModiHighlights from PM Modi’s address in Mhow# It is my privilege that I am here, on the birth anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar. I bow to this land.# I want to compliment the MP govt. Work here began during Patwa ji’s time & carried forward by Shivraj Singh Chouhan.# Dr. Ambedkar fought against injustice in society. His was a fight for equality and dignity.# From 14 to 24 April ‘Gram Uday Se Bharat Uday’ movement is being held.# As far as developing our villages is concerned, a lot has to be done. Economic growth can’t only happen in few cities.# This year’s budget is fully dedicated to the villages and the farmers.# All our development initiatives have to be centred around rural development.# Our efforts towards rural electrification is being done very transparently. Garv App gives you real time progress.# Digital connectivity is essential in our villages. This is difficult to do, yes, but we need to make a start somewhere.# I want to compliment the MP govt. Work here began during Patwa ji’s time & carried forward by Shivraj Singh Chouhan.# Dr. Ambedkar fought against injustice in society. His was a fight for equality and dignity.# From 14 to 24 April ‘Gram Uday Se Bharat Uday’ movement is being held.# As far as developing our villages is concerned, a lot has to be done. Economic growth can’t only happen in few cities.# This year’s budget is fully dedicated to the villages and the farmers.# All our development initiatives have to be centred around rural development.# Our efforts towards rural electrification is being done very transparently. Garv App gives you real time progress.# Digital connectivity is essential in our villages. This is difficult to do, yes, but we need to make a start somewhere.# We want farmer incomes to double. Purchasing power of people in rural India has to increase & this will power India’s economy.# Panchayati Raj institutions have to be made stronger and more vibrant.

PM Narendra Modi seeks speedy integration of land records with Aadhaar

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday called for integration of all land records with Aadhaar at the earliest as he examined the progress of its digitisation, a move aimed at checking fraudulence, among other things, in the registration of land deeds.Chairing his 11th interaction through PRAGATI — the information and communications technology (ICT)-based, multi-modal platform for Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation, the Prime Minister said it is extremely important to ensure the successful implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana. The government had last year initiated a pilot project to develop a modern, comprehensive and transparent Land Records Management System based on the principle of authentication vis -a-vis linking with the Unique Identification Number (Aadhaar). The aim was to implement a conclusive land titling system with title guarantee.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The departments of registration and stamps in various states have already begun Aadhaar-based biometric verification. Jind district in Haryana became the first district in the country to successfully complete the pilot project of linking land records with Aadhaar. Of the total of eight villages selected for the pilot project, two were in Jind.Reviewing the progress of provision of citizen-centric services electronically, the Prime Minister also called for a comprehensive district-wise review of how many services are actually being delivered online. “The Prime Minister asked about mission-mode projects under Digital India. Examining the progress of digitisation of land records, the Prime Minister called for integration of all land records with Aadhaar at the earliest,” an official statement said.

Education on a Budget: More than fund allocation, increased attention can energise the education sector

By Shantanu Prakash

A budget that acknowledges the importance of education must be lauded. To that extent the current budget announcements have been music to the ears and easily a landmark effort in terms of intention translated into actionable numbers. Of course every budget posts allocations of new schemes for education. But what makes this one different is the wide angle view it has taken of the sector and touched far more points than ever before.

There is always the question of how much more could have been done by way of budgetary allocations but this budget impresses with its interdisciplinary approach to impacting various pressure points of the education framework. For a change, it indicates that the government has taken a 360 degree view of the needs of India’s education sector and rather than looking to impress with size has turned the spotlight on sectors. It takes little to declare more schools and outlays for schools but when your delivery is at variance with targets it needs a more realistic view of how to approach the problem. Clearly intentions and outlays are not enough. To that extent, the announcement to open 62 new Navodaya Vidyalays is wonderful but the country needs ten times the number for it to have even marginal impact.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Similarly, a problem that is compounding faster than you can find solutions for it must be attacked at both ends. That is why the thrust on training and skill development in this budget is admirable. The pointed emphasis on skill development is crucial for employability while the deeper issues of education quality and reach are addressed and one need not wait for the other. Skill India is not only a mantra for employability but a transformative agenda that puts focus on re-evaluating education in terms of outcomes. The imperatives of ensuring that long winded education terms do not end up in frustrated job-hunting and job-applicant mismatch needs to be tackled head on and this budget gives a keen sense of the urgency this Government apportions it.

More credit is due, for it is the first time that attention to quality benchmarking has found place in such a charter. By indicating that it intends to enhance 10 private and public institutions to world class levels the Government has signalled a sea change in its approach to education – from one of filing numbers to that of counting successes. This one initiative will be transformative in shaking up the industry and making it more competitive, efficient and global in outlook. This will have a multiplier effect and signal other institutions to play catch up and it in these dynamics that lies the core appeal of this initiative.

However, it must be understood that the education industry has a unique problem – it is unregulated and over regulated at the same time. The constraints of investment into a sector that is constrained by rules of operation are already visible to everyone in the demand supply shortfall but on the other hand the abject absence of a regulatory authority to streamline and rationalize the policy framework has been sorely missed. In a strange contradiction of terms it is felt that a regulatory environment once formalized would become instrumental in leveling the field, clearing the regulatory minefield and enabling the sector to grow more, faster.

What could not be missed is that the aversion to private investment in education continues to persist and it was here that the education sector expected some path breaking advances. It remains a fallacy to expect government to make up the short fall in education delivery in pre or post school or higher education. Government resources are by convention almost always stretched, finite and non-specific to sectoral growth. It can at best provide indicators, signal head winds to encourage entrepreneurs to step up on the gas. The private sector could marshall resources much more quickly, efficiently and effectively to transform the India education sector. That would have provided the needed fillip to bridge the gap that currently exists between what is needed and what is available. Education is the fuel for a 21st century economy and it is linked to all the other schemes such as Digital India, Startup India, Skill India and even Clean India. It is therefore time to look at education as social infrastructure and give it the importance it deserves like all other aspects of infrastructure.

The fact that the government considers education as one of the pillars of its governance mantra is a bright indicator that there is hope and scope to demanding and getting more traction in the sector. It may be time to reorient our positions on education and think inside out for a change – look at outcomes we want and make the right choices on policy to achieve those goals. If the current budget and the indications are anything to go by, we have a good chance to aim for a turnaround in the education scenario in the country.

The author is CMD, Educomp Solutions Ltd, tweet to him @shantanueducomp

President Pranab Mukherjee to launch five key projects in Kerala today

President Pranab Mukherjee will launch five key projects, including declaration of Kerala as the first digital state and dedication of the UL CyberPark to the nation, on Saturday.Dedication of the Gender Park by the department of Social Justice of Kerala government to the nation, state government’s ‘Digital Empowerment Campaign’ and ‘Kanivu’ (Compassionate Kerala) are the other three projects to be launched by the President.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>All the projects will be launched at a function at UL CyberPark premises here which will be attended by Governor P Sathasivam and Chief Minister Oommen Chandy besides other dignitaries.Gender Park, an autonomous institution, is the first-of-its-kind platform in the country to resolve gender inequity in development and address the gender issues, its officials said.The Rs 270 crore UL CyberPark built on 25 acre land, is expected to provide direct employment to 4,500 persons in the first phase.With an aim to bridge the gap among citizens, Kerala government will launch its ambitious Digital Empowerment Campaign during the function tomorrow, official sources said.

Intercepted under Anti-National Activities Act, 2031: The diary entry of a seditious Indian

By Rohan Vyavaharkar

27 November, 2047

Dear Diary,

Today was a very interesting day.

As you know I was the Clapper in our college play. As I replayed the role of the hero, I wish I didn’t have to step offstage. I still feel high. Just playing the role of that important time in our history inspires me. And that got me thinking, can you imagine what the heroes from those historic times must’ve thought?

How many people must’ve laughed at this one man who wanted someone to stand for the National Anthem. How was that even okay? He looked those traitors in the eyes and shamed them. I wish I could’ve met him. Imagine what our cricket matches, leadership rallies, the monthly national parades or even plays would’ve been like without our glorious National Anthem.

As I sang tonight, I felt one with the nation. One with all of Hinduism and each and every patriot. I felt the way the Clapper must’ve felt. What a great responsibility on those shoulders!

And you know, because I played him with such passion, my acharya Shuklaji said I might even be considered to take on the role of OP Sharma. I don’t want to believe it. I can see his bust when I look out of my window, you know. I am shivering with excitement at the thought of playing him.

Representational image. Getty ImagesRepresentational image. Getty Images

Representational image. Getty Images

Remember how Imran Kumar gives that speech in Mata: My Motherland right before they storm the court room? I hope they use those lines. It’s a good thing he cut ties with that uncle of his and participated in the Lokpriya Mohan Bhagwat Naam Safai Abhiyaan. I wonder who they’ll cast as Kanhaiya though.

I don’t know if there’s any low-birth in the school that might fit the part. Whoever plays that villain won’t like it, but someone will have to do the duty. I pray for those who’ll have to. The auditions won’t be till next week.

This year, the tithi of the Universal University Flag Day isn’t till Monday, so we have a couple of days. I’m just a little worried that it shouldn’t clash with Mata-Pitr Diwas, because otherwise no one will take it seriously.

What is most annoying is that Rishitu said today that they might allow people to comment on how to make MP Day more fun. What’s next? Will they ask people what they’d like to eat in the canteen or what we should wear to college? Imagine that.

Okay, now the interesting part, today Latika actually smiled at me. It made me feel warm inside. I felt like touching her. But I’m afraid, I’ll be asked to marry her. I want to, Don’t get me wrong, but like Leaderji has said, I first need to do my duty to my nation. That fool Rishitu was saying I should try and brush against her a few times to send her the message that I like her but I don’t want people to think we indulge in eating Chinese food.

Oh, they’re playing that song on the radio again. Lata Mangeshkar has such a lovely voice. I wish she’d sung many more songs about the vatan and tyaag. I wish I too get the chance to be called shaheed.

Anyway, Latika seems to be studying for home science. Good. I hope she scores good marks to impress my parents. Sant Adityanathji bless us with at least 10 kids. Just thinking about it makes me go warm inside. I must banish this feeling. This is why they’re hunting down all those wicked people with those little hard drives loaded with those anti-national films. They don’t even fit on any phone. What is the point of that, I wonder.

Leaderji has said that we should use the Digital Bharat app now even for sending in movie ideas. I have an idea, but I wonder if they’ll give me a role. I would tell you the idea, but if acharyaji logs in to check my phone while I’m typing it, am sure he’ll steal it. Actually, that’s not possible. He’s fast asleep.

So, here goes: One day, a supreme leader is made shaheed by some anti-national people. They do this by capturing him and making him drink beer. They then eat the beef steaks from his legs while making jokes of Bharat Mata and her people. While they’re talking, we learn that they don’t pray in temples. They don’t pray at all. Okay? And then we learn that they believe in equality for all types of people — even women!

So, then our hero, who has been listening to them from a phone, jumps in to the room. He single-handedly drags them into the street, where he beats them. They ask for forgiveness. He forgives them and hands them over to the public, who decide they should be hanged for treason.

The hero goes home, where he plays with his children and tells them the story of what happened while his wife presses his feet and smiles at him. They all pray together at the end.

The end.

I need to go pray now since I am awake, otherwise the Gowalkar manual will report me to acharyaji.

But first, I should delete this not-…

The author is a former sports journalist and a current brand communications consultant wins ‘Best Website Of The Year’ for second consecutive year

The world is going digital and in the third phase of the internet, it’s all about the internet of things. In this endeavour to help people enjoy their favourite content online, Zee Digital Convergence Limited (ZDCL) has emerged a winner in driving towards maintaining the top spot. Zee TV’s official website has won the Best Website Of The Year Award for the second consecutive year.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>MetrixLab – MarketTools Research Pvt. Ltd hosted the Website of the Year award function recently where Zee TV website was chosen winner in two categories – Best Website and Most Popular Website in the Media category. This award function has earned credibility by becoming India’s most important people’s choice award for websites.This year, 252 websites were nominated across 21 categories. The vote count crossed more than 185,000 votes between October 19 and November 27. Zee TV website gained the top spot by being chosen as Best Website of the Year for being the website with the highest average score on content, navigation, design and recommendation intention, followed by Most Popular Website award for the highest number of votes.“We ensure all our products adapt to different devices and across varied bandwidths so that the need of the end user is met and their experience is seamless,” said Karan Jaitapkar, Business Head, ZEEL Sites.”Our focus is to drive larger market share of consumer eyeballs, push for inorganic growth through improved content and services and leverage constant innovation to engage and ensure consumer stickiness on our media platforms, ” said Debashish Ghosh, CEO, ZDCL.

Shashi Tharoor takes jibe at Modi government, says ‘Make in India and hate in India’ cannot go together

Taking a jibe at the Modi government, former minister and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor has said policies like ‘Make in India’ and hatred cannot go together as he asserted that “outrageous” statements against minorities by ruling party members only undermine the country’s soft power.To attract foreign direct investment, which is key to the construction and modernisation of the infrastructure sector and manufacturing, the Congress MP stressed on the need to maintain the pluralistic character of the country.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Before India tries to leverage its soft power to increase its standing in the world, Tharoor said first there is need to fix the problem at the domestic front.”For us to be credible as a nation that enjoys and wields soft power, we have to fix our domestic problems first. The truth is that we have to do enough to keep our people, healthy, well and secure not just from jihadi terrorism.Progress is being made but not enough to reach everyone,” Tharoor said in his keynote address to the Harvard University’s annual Indian convention 2016.”If on one hand, we go around saying Make in India, Startup India and Digital India and want to attract foreign investors, we can’t do so if we are condoning hatred in India at the same time,” Tharoor said in reference to the flagship schemes launched by the Narendra Modi-led government.”It is not good when people in the ruling party make outrageous statements against minorities. These are not good because they undermine the soft power of India,” Tharoor told the students in the packed Harvard Business School auditorium.Tharoor asserted that in order to maintain India’s soft power, the larger idea of India needs to be sustained.”An India that celebrates the common space of every identity, it would be a secure to be a Muslim, secure to be a kayastha… whatever you define yourself. Because all of those identities are made secure under the Indian identity,” he said.Tharoor said if India wants to remain a source of attraction for the world, it must preserve the “precious pluralism like a civilizational asset””It is not so good when women are assaulted on the streets of Delhi. It is not good when some people begin to fear that it is safer to be a cow than to be a Muslim in India today,” Tharoor said. He also told the Indian students that one of his investor friends decided against investing in India because of acts of intolerance in the country.

Sushma Swaraj leaves for two-day visit to Sri Lanka; fishermen’s row to be key issue in agenda

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday left for Colombo on a two-day visit during which she is expected to discuss the fishermen’s issue and rights of minority Tamils with the top Sri Lankan leadership. Swaraj and her Sri Lankan counterpart Mangala Samaraweera will co-chair the 9th Joint Commission meeting to discuss key bilateral and regional issues in Colombo later today.The discussions will cover the entire gamut of relationship pertaining to economic cooperation, trade, power and energy, technical and maritime cooperation, social, cultural and educational matters, science and technology, defence cooperation, health, civil aviation, tourism and people-to-people contact. The joint commission was set up in 1992 as a mechanism to address issues of bilateral cooperation. The last meeting of the Joint Commission was held in New Delhi in January 2013.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup had said yesterday that the fishermen issue is expected to figure during Swaraj’s meeting with the Lankan leaders. The fishermen issue continues to be a major irritant in the Indo-Lanka ties. Though the fishermen’s associations of the two sides are in regular touch with each other, they have not been able to reach a mutually-acceptable solution to end this problem, Swarup had said, adding that India wants a long-term solution. Sri Lanka accuses Indian fishermen of straying into its territorial waters, while the latter maintain they are only fishing in their traditional areas, especially around Katchatheevu, an islet ceded to Colombo in 1974.The issue of rights of minority Tamil community is also expected to come up for discussions during Swaraj’s meetings. Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had last month said his government was ready to devolve power to minority Tamils under a new Constitution, aimed at resolving the ethnic conflict and achieving reconciliation with Tamils. Swaraj will also call on President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and former president Chandrika Kumaratunga besides meeting other top leaders.She will inaugurate a ‘Rise of Digital India’ exhibition tomorrow as part of ‘Sangam’ festival of India in Sri Lanka 2015-2016. The exhibition will showcase the phenomenal rise of the computing sector and digital technologies in India which is positively impacting the everyday lives of people.

Rahul Gandhi lends support to net neutrality, calls internet ‘a powerful poverty alleviation tool’

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday released a statement lending his support to net neutrality and demanded that the government and internet service providers (ISPs) treat all data on the internet equally. “We recognise the danger of privileging a private platform over a public Internet introducing a new digital divide. In my opinion, Internet is a powerful poverty alleviation tool, offering unbounded opportunities limited only by imagination, whether it is a farmer looking for information on monsoon preparedness, artisans connecting with buyers in a market place or a college student from rural India enrolling for an online course,” said Gandhi in a statement.‎With the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) holding consultations on differential pricing, and being likely to release a report on the same in the coming week, the months-long debate surrounding data pricing is widely believed to be laid to rest. Initially seen as favouring differential pricing, the regulatory body surprised everyone by pulling up Facebook for its campaign for controversial programme, Free Basics in a strongly-worded letter. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A shuffle in the telecom ministry, with the ministry secretary Rakesh Garg being replaced by JS Deepak, has also been seen as a move to find an end to the months-long discussions. Gandhi, however, blamed the government of delaying the framing of a policy by holding repeated discussions, and said that the BJP government “looked the other way” when telecom companies introduced differential pricing. In April, last year, Airtel had launched the Airtel Zero programme leading to nationwide protests online. And recently, Facebook launched the Free Basics programme on Reliance connections. Gandhi, in his statement, asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure that Digital India does not become an euphemism for an internet controlled by big corporations. “Digital India should mean Internet connectivity as a public utility, open ended and generative. With Digital India, people would get more access to the Internet – the whole internet – and not primarily a filter on the web,” he said.

Boston’s MIT may associate with PM Modi’s Skill India, Digital India and other programmes

Boston-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) may associate with the flagship programmes of Skill India, Digital India and Start-Up India, with its senior or retired faculty members expected to share their expertise in New Delhi.A discussion in this regard took place when MIT President Rafael Reif called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Thursday.Reif apprised the Prime Minister on work being done by MIT in the areas of education, health, water and innovation and invited him to visit MIT to interact with the students and faculty, a PMO statement said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi asked Reif to explore the possibility of using MIT’s expertise in the flagship programmes of Skill India, Digital India and Start-Up India, it said. He suggested that senior or retired faculty from MIT could visit India for a few months to teach in an Indian University, the statement said, adding Reif appreciated the suggestion, and offered his assistance in this regard.

Republic Day 2016: Colourful tableaux bring alive history, culture of India

Constitution architect B R Ambedkar’s legacy, Mahatma Gandhi’s crusade for freedom in Bihar’s Champaran, an art university in Chhattisgarh and Swachh Bharat and Digital India campaigns were among the themes for this year’s Republic Day tableaux that wowed the crowd at the majestic Rajpath today.A total of 23 tableaux were on display at the ceremonial parade with 17 of them belonging to various states and Union Territories.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Goa’s tableau was the first among the states to roll down the boulevard themed on its Jagor folk dance. Gujarat was next to follow, showcasing the rare natural abode of Asiatic lions in Gir.Sikkim and Jammu and Kashmir were next in line, with the latter’s float portraying rural development through technology.Rajasthan’s vivid replicas of Hawa Mahal drew loud cheers as spectators were left in awe with exquisite craftsmanship.Chandigarh depicted the ‘City Beautiful’ designed by legendary architect Le Corbusier which also carried its circular portrait on its side and models of his famed creations of the capital city.Six tableaux from Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, New and Renewable energy, Drinking Water and Sanitation, Communication and IT, Panchayati Raj and Election Commission also found their place in the ceremonial parade.Among other states which registered their presence included Assam, Tripura, Odisha, West Bengal, showcasing the Baul music tradition, Madhya Pradesh’s white tiger safari, Uttar Pradesh’s zardozi heritage, Karnataka and Uttarakhand.The Bihar tableau showcased Gandhi’s fight against the indigo system in Motihari in Champaran district that led the foundation for his greater role as the man who brought his country to freedom from the yokes of imperialism.The tableau had model of the SDO court where the Mahatma was tried during his visit there in 1917 and the trial was also depicted in relief at the rear of the side portion of the float.Chhattisgarh showcased a model of Kahiragarh Music and Art University as its theme, and the mock-up of the red building drew cheers from the crowd.However, there was no tableau from Delhi for the third consecutive year.The tableau of Gujarat depicted rare and exotic varieties along with the Sidi community settled in the Gir forest, performing their traditional dance. Similarly, the Tamil Nadu presented the lifestyle, appearance, manners and customs of Toda tribe of Nilgiri district, one of the six primitive tribal groups of the state. Madhya Pradesh took pride in depicting its rare breed of white tiger while Karnataka displayed its Kodagu – land of coffee.The tableau by the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry had a figurine of Ambedkar holding the Constitution in one hand and the other arm outstretched.Commemorating Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary, the tableau showcased Parliament House, a replica of a grand memorial to him at his birthplace Mhow in MP, and a scene of handing over of the Constitution by him to the first President Rajendra Prasad.One side of the tableau also showed an image of the 125th year commemorative coins in Ambedkar’s honour, while its back side featured an image of a commemorative postage stamp.It also showcased a postal stamp and two commemorative coins.The tableau of Ministry of New and Renewable energy had a theme of ‘Mega watt to Giga watt’ highlighted research and technology development in new areas such as ocean, tidal energy and hydrogen.Drinking water and sanitation ministry’s tableau was based on the theme of Swachh Bharat while Digital India was showcased by Ministry of Communications and IT.The front portion of the tableau was designed like a printer to highlight digital services of India post. The props accompanying the tableau represented various gadgets like mobile phone, tablet, USB drive, chips while the base was shaped as mouse in a computer.The tableau of Election Commission projected the inclusive and ethical participation for a stronger democracy showing model polling stations, ramp for handicapped and special facilities for elderly and other awareness programmes.

Republic Day 2016: Why I hated parades and march-pasts growing up

Every year on August 15 and January 26, when I see most of the nation get up and celebrate despite a dry day, I am taken back to my childhood where march-pasts were the bane of my existence. My hatred for the pageantry stemmed from my boarding school upbringing. Situated in the Gwalior Fort and run by descendants of a family that behaved less than bravely during the war against the British (but don’t like being reminded that they did), the Scindia School was one of those boarding schools that promised to combine British school values best espoused in John Le Carre’s novels with India’s syncretic culture.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>For the uninitiated, boarding schools can be tough on kids who are perceived to be different. As a big fat kid who didn’t speak Hindi, life was tough enough and it got terribly worse during the two national holidays when the entire school was expected to be part of the march-past for their respective houses. The preparations would start months in advance and nowhere in life have I felt more out of place. Hair shorn close to the scalp, with our shoes shining and our clothes spotless, we were expected to march to the tune of the brass band, which everyone wanted to join because they had the best annual dinner. It was that time in life that I discovered just how troublesome it can be for some to—literally and figuratively—toe the line.In time, my hapless seniors deemed me Kachra Party, a special term bestowed perhaps upon just a handful of people people in a school of 600-700 students, who were deemed so clumsy for the march-past that they’d bring shame to the school’s name in front of an esteemed Chief Guest. In many ways, it made me feel like John the Savage from Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, unfit to follow the rules that everyone smoothly followed.Perhaps it was this earlier rejection that led me to question, more than others, the need for such pageantry. The questions inevitably led to enquiring into the need for an idea of nationhood where one had to love their nation.As I read more, I came to attribute well-planned parades to cold, calculating authoritarian regimes who then indulge in ethnic cleansing (a faulty argument I made in my indiscriminate youth). The fact that even the man whose poem went on to become our national anthem echoed these views, bolstered youthful zest for rebelling. For the record Tagore had written: “India has never had a real sense of nationalism. Even though from childhood I had been taught that the idolatry of Nation is almost better than reverence for God and humanity, I believe I have outgrown that teaching, and it is my conviction that my countrymen will gain truly their India by fighting against that education which teaches them that a country is greater than the ideals of humanity.”To be fair, he wasn’t against the idea of India, but the idea of any nationhood. He viewed the desire to have an Indian nation to be similar to the European concept of national identity. This led to a lot of question like:How can so many people blindly follow rules?Why don’t people question things?Why must I be bound by the Constitution? After all it was a matter of chance that I was born in India.Can patriotism be compulsory? At what point does not loving one’s nation become a crime?Why do we need to show off our nation’s weapons? However, now having lost the anger of youth, when I see Republic Day or Independence Day parades, I understand that from a practical point of view, we need these events. Every group, including nations, need an icon, something that binds them together. For the British it’s the Crown, while the Americans have their Old Glory or the Constitution. This is also the reason the Brits, persist with an outdated concept like monarchy.For India, it’s a mix of several things that binds people together. There’s the Constitution which promises equality for all irrespective of their religion, creed, caste, ethnicity and the language they spoke. There are the courts which promise justice irrespective of the victim or prosecutor’s financial status. That’s why we need such parades, even if it means we have men (or women) dressed as dongles as seen in the Digital India tableau. It’s a celebration of the Constitution, whose committee was chaired by a man who spent his life fighting for the oppressed. True, inadequacies of castes and religion continue to threaten us, but heed President Mukherjee’s Republic Day address.Addressing the nation on the eve of Republic Day, the President said:“There will be, amongst us, occasional doubters and baiters. Let us continue to complain, to demand, to rebel. This too is a virtue of democracy. But let us also applaud what our democracy has achieved. With investments in infrastructure, manufacturing, health, education, science and technology, we are positioning ourselves well for achieving a higher growth rate which will in the next 10 to 15 years help us eliminate poverty.”“Reverence for the past is one of the essential ingredients of nationalism. Our finest inheritance, the institutions of democracy, ensure to all citizens justice, equality, and gender and economic equity. When grim instances of violence hit at these established values which are at the core of our nationhood, it is time to take note. We must guard ourselves against the forces of violence, intolerance and unreason.”Celebrations like this, aren’t just a show of power to the world, it’s a reminder that Indians are one, that we are there for each other and that despite our differences of value systems, we will continue to fight for each other.