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When Indians unite, their power is unparalleled: Full text of PM Modi’s New Year’s Eve Speech

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi today sent out a stern warning of tough action against the “dishonest” people even as he announced a slew of sops for senior citizens, farmers, rural housing, women and small entrepreneurs to soften the blow of demonetization.He also assured the honest people that the government will act as a friend to them so that their difficulties are eased.Among the sops announced in his address to the nation at the end of 50-day demonetisation period, Modi said senior citizens will get 8 per cent interest on deposits of upto Rs 7.5 lakh for 10 years and deposit of Rs 6000 into accounts of pregnant and lactating women in rural areas to meet medical expenses.For farmers, he announced that banks will not charge interest for 60 days on loans taken from district cooperative central bank and primary societies for rabi crop.Here’s his full speech:My fellow citizens, In a few hours, we will be ushering in the new year of 2017. 125 crore Indians will join the rest of the world, in welcoming it with new hope, new energy and new dreams.Since Diwali, our nation has been witness to a historic rite of purification. The patience, discipline, and resolve displayed by 125 crore Indians, will play a critical role in shaping the future of the nation for years to come. In God’s creation, humans are endowed with fundamental goodness.With time, the distortions of badness creep in. People feel suffocated in a bad environment, and struggle to come out of it. Corruption, black money, and counterfeit notes had become so rampant in India’s social fabric, that even honest people were brought to their knees.People were forced by circumstances, in defiance of their inherent goodness. It seemed at times, that the evils and corruptions of society, knowingly or un – knowingly, intentionally or un- intentionally, had become a part of our daily lives. Developments post-Diwali have shown, that crores of Indians were looking for an escape from this suffocation.We have, during the external aggressions, of 1962, 1965, 1971 and Kargil; witnessed the intrinsic strength of our citizens. Such collective energy and patriotism is under- standable, in the face of external threats.However, when crores of Indians unite to fight a war against internal evils, it is unparalleled.Indians have, with firm resolve and infinite patience, faced difficulties with a smile, re-defining the concept of sacrifice. We have lived these ideals. 125 crore Indians have shown, in their fortitude, the importance we place in truth and goodness. This has been written on the sands of time.Indians have displayed the strength of people power, utmost discipline, and the ability to discern the truth in a storm of disinformation. They have shown that resolute honesty, can defeat dishonesty.They have shown how much, even people trapped in poverty, are willing to do, to build a glorious India. The people, through persistence, sweat and toil, have demonstrated to the world, an unparalleled example of citizen sacrifice, for the brighter future of a nation. Usually, when people’s movements have arisen, the people and the government have been at loggerheads.It is historic, that both the people and the government are on the same side in this battle against evil. The Government is well aware, that in this period, you had to queue up, and face difficulty in withdrawing your own money. I received letters from many people. They have shared their pain and sorrow with me, but also emphasized their support. You have talked to me as one of your own. In this fight against corruption and black money, it is clear that you wish to walk shoulder to shoulder with us. For us in Government, this is a blessing. My effort is to take the banking system to normalcy as fast as possible in the new year. I have asked all concerned officers in the Government to focus their attention to this task. They have especially been told to proactively resolve the problems in rural and remote areas. Friends,There is no precedent globally, to what India has done. Nations similar to us do not have the amount of currency that we had. Over the last ten to twelve years, 500 and 1000 rupee currency notes were used less for legitimate transactions, and more for a parallel economy. The excess of cash was fuelling inflation and black-marketing. It was denying the poor, their due. Lack of cash causes difficulty, but excess of cash is even more troublesome. Our aim is to achieve a balance. Economists agree that when cash is outside the formal economy, it is a cause of worry.When it joins the mainstream, it is an opportunity for development. I am sure, if great sons of India like Jayaprakash Narayan, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Ram Manohar Lohia, and Kamaraj had been present today, they would have applauded the patience, discipline and resolve of our countrymen.In the past few weeks, there have been many gratifying instances – it would take weeks to list them.It is a healthy trend for any nation, when the people wish to join the mainstream abiding by the law, and helping the Government in serving the poor. Friends.How long will we overlook facts that stare us in the face? I wish to share some information with you, which will either make you laugh, or make you angry. According to information with the Government, there are only 24 lakh people in India who accept that their annual income is more than 10 lakh rupees. Can we digest this? Look at the big bungalows and big cars around you.If we look at any big city, it would have lakhs of people with annual income of more than 10 lakh. Do you not feel, that for the good of the country, this movement for honesty, needs to be further strengthened? In this fight against corruption and black money, it is natural to debate the fate of the dishonest. What punishment will they get? The Law will take its own course, with its full force. But the priority of the Government now is how to help the honest, protect them, and ease their difficulty.How can honesty gain more prestige? This Government is a friend of good people. And it aims to build an enabling environment for the dishonest to return to the path of goodness.It is also a bitter truth, that people have complaints of bad experiences at the hands of Government machinery, and some government officers.This reality cannot be wished away. No one can deny that Government officers have a greater responsibility than common citizens.Therefore, it is the responsibility of all of us in Government, at central, state and local levels, to protect the common man, help the honest, and isolate the dishonest. Friends, It is accepted the world over, that terrorism, Naxalism, Maoism, counterfeit currency trade, drug trade, human trafficking – all of these depend on black money.These evils have become a festering sore on society and Governments.Demonetization has dealt a severe blow to these trades.Today, youth who had turned to the wrong path, are returning to the mainstream in large numbers. If we remain vigilant, we can now save our children from returning to those evil ways of violence and cruelty. The fact that so much of the cash in circulation has been deposited in the banking system indicates the success of this mission.Events of the last few days indicate that escape routes for the dishonest have all been sealed. Technology has played a big role. The habitual offenders will be forced to abandon their misdeeds and join the mainstream.Friends, This also represents a golden opportunity for the country’s banking system. During this period, bank employees have worked day and night.Female employees too, worked till late hours as part of this mission.Post office staff, banking correspondents- all did exceptional work.Amid this herculean effort, some grave crimes by some officers in some banks have come to light. Some Government officers have also committed serious offences, and tried to take advantage of the situation. They will not be spared. At this historic juncture, I wish to make an appeal to the banks.History is witness that the Indian banking system has never received such a large amount of money, in such a short time.While respecting the autonomy of the banks, I appeal to them to move beyond their traditional priorities, and keep the poor, the lower middle class, and the middle class at the focus of their activities.India is celebrating the centenary of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay as Garib Kalyan Varsh. Banks should also not let this opportunity slip. They should take appropriate decisions in public interest promptly. When policies and programmes are made with clear objectives in mind, not only are beneficiaries empowered, but both short term, and long term benefits are achieved. Spending is carefully scrutinized, and chances of good results are maximized.The more the villages, the poor, the farmers, the dalits, the tribals, the marginalized, the oppressed, the deprived and women are empowered, and financially enabled to stand on their own feet, the stronger the country will become, and the faster will be the pace of development. Friends, to further the principle of Sabka Saath – Sabka Vikaas, on the eve of the new year, Government is bringing some new programmes for the people. Even so many years after independence, millions of poor do not have their own home. When black money increased in our economy, houses became out of reach of even the middle class. The Government has taken some major decisions to ensure homes for the poor, the neo middle class and the middle class. Two new middle income categories have been created under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana in urban areas. Loans of up to 9 lakh rupees taken in 2017, will receive interest subvention of 4 per cent. Loans of up to 12 lakh rupees taken in 2017, will receive interest subvention of 3 per cent. The number of houses being built for the poor, under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana in rural areas, is being increased by 33 per cent. In addition to this, another scheme is being put in place for the neo middle and middle class in rural areas. Loans of up to 2 lakh rupees taken in 2017, for new housing, or extension of housing in rural areas, will receive an interest subvention of 3 per cent. Friends in the last few weeks, an impression was sought to be created that the agriculture sector has been destroyed. Farmers themselves have given a fitting reply to those who were doing so. Rabi sowing is up by 6 per cent compared to last year. Fertilizer offtake is up by 9 per cent. During this period, the Government has taken care to ensure that farmers do not suffer for want of access to seeds, fertilisers and credit. Now, we have taken some more decisions in the interest of farmers. Farmers who have taken loans for the Rabi crop from District Cooperative Central Banks and Primary Societies, will not have to pay interest on such loans for a period of 60 days. Farmers who have paid interest during the last two months, will receive these amounts back, directly into their bank accounts. Arrangements are being made to provide farmers even better access to loans from cooperative banks and societies. NABARD created a fund of 21,000 crore rupees last month. Now, Government is adding 20,000 crore rupees more to this. The loss that NABARD suffers by giving loans to cooperative banks and societies at low interest rates, shall be borne by the Government of India. The Government has decided, that 3 crore farmers who have Kisan Credit Cards, will be given RuPay debit cards within three months. Kisan Credit Cards were launched in 1998, but so far, it was essential to go to a bank, to use them. Now, farmers will have RuPay Debit Cards, which they can use anywhere. Just as agriculture is vital for the economy, so are the medium and small scale enterprises also called the MSME sector. Government has taken some decisions in the interest of small and medium businesses, which will also boost employment.Government of India underwrites loans given by banks to small businesses through a trust. So far, loans were covered upto one crore rupees. This limit is now being enhanced to 2 crore rupees. Earlier the scheme only covered bank loans. Hereafter it will cover loans given by NBFCs as well. This decision will enable better access to credit for small shop-owners and small enterprises. Banks and NBFCs will not levy high interest on these loans, as Government of India is bearing the cost of underwriting them. Government has also asked banks to raise the credit limit for small industry from 20 per cent of turnover to 25 per cent.Banks have also been asked to increase working capital loans from 20 per cent of turnover to 30 per cent, for enterprises that transact digitally.Many people connected with this sector have made cash deposits in the last few weeks. Banks have been asked to take this into account when deciding on working capital. A few days back, Government announced a major tax relief for small businesses. Income of businesses with turnover of up to Rs 2 crores was calculated at 8% of the turnover. Now, for such businesses income from digital transactions will be calculated at 6%. This will effectively reduce their tax liability by 25%. Friends,The progress of the MUDRA Yojana has been very encouraging. Last year, nearly 3 and a half crore people have benefited from this. The Government now aims to double this, giving priority to Dalits, Tribals, Backward Classes and Women. A new scheme is being launched for pregnant women.We are introducing a nation-wide scheme for financial assistance to pregnant women. 6000 rupees will be transferred directly to the bank accounts of pregnant women who undergo institutional delivery and vaccinate their children. This scheme will help reduce the maternal mortality rate, in a big way. This will help ensure nutrition before and after delivery, and improve the health of mother and child. So far, pregnant women in 53 districts were being given financial assistance of 4000 rupees, under a pilot project. We are initiating a scheme for senior citizens. Banks often reduce their deposit rates, when they receive a large volume of money. This should not adversely impact senior citizens. Under the scheme, senior citizens will receive a fixed interest rate of 8 per cent for a period of 10 years, on deposits upto 7.5 lakh rupees. The interest will be paid monthly. Friends,Political parties, political leaders and electoral funding, figure prominently in any debate on corruption and black money.The time has now come that all political leaders and parties respect the feelings of the nation’s honest citizens, and understand the anger of the people. It is true that from time to time, political parties have made constructive efforts to improve the system. I urge all parties and leaders to move away from a “holier than thou approach,” to come together in prioritising transparency, and take firm steps to free politics of black money and corruption. In our country, people ranging from the common man to the President, have at some point or another, advocated simultaneous conduct of state and national elections.This is to break the endless cycle of elections, reduce election expenditure, and minimize pressure on the administrative machinery.The time has come for this to be seriously considered and debated. Positive change has always found space in our country.We can now see a positive momentum towards digital transactions in India.More and more people are transacting digitally.Yesterday, Government has launched a new, swadeshi platform for digital transactions – named BHIM after Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar.BHIM stands for Bharat Interface for Money. I call upon the youth, the trading community, and farmers to connect with BHIM as much as possible. Friends, the developments, decisions, and policies that were put in place after Diwali, will of course be evaluated by economists. It will be good if social scientists also do the same.As a nation, India’s villages, poor, farmers, youth, educated and uneducated men and women, have all displayed infinite patience and people power. In a short time, the new year of 2017 will begin. Exactly 100 years ago, in 1917, Mahatma Gandhi initiated a Satyagraha in Champaran. Now, a century later, we witness that the people of India continue to share that feeling towards truth and goodness.Today, Mahatma Gandhi is not among us. But the path towards truth that he showed us, is still most appropriate. As we begin the centenary year of the Satyagraha, let us recall the Mahatma and resolve to follow his message of truth and goodness.We cannot allow this fight against black money and corruption to stop or slow down. Firmness in truth is a guarantee for success. A country of 125 crore, with 65 per cent below the age of 35, having the means, the resources, and the capability, has no reason to stay behind. The new dawn of the New Year, comes with the resolve of new success.Let us all come together, to move ahead overcoming obstacles and constraints. Happy New Year Jai Hind !!!

This winter Delhi will see a rapid rise in pollution, says executive director of CSE

Public health emergencies of the previous century, such as cholera, malaria and TB have all been tackled with antibiotics and vaccines. But what about the biggest public health emergency of contemporary times? That’s the pollution in the air we breathe which has reached unprecedented life-threatening levels — recall Delhi’s situation post-Diwali — yet we are not prepared to deal with it. It may worsen with the advancing winter.

However, things may change with the notification that the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) is soon going to issue to Delhi-NCR, and subsequently to other states, on implementation of Graded Response Action Plan. That is a system based on the Air Quality Index (AQI), designed to take effective steps to combat public health emergencies due to pollution.

To decode the plan and understand its efficacy, Debobrat Ghose of Firstpost speaks to Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director (Research and Advocacy) and head, air pollution and clean transportation programme at Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), one of the stakeholders in the planning process.

Firstpost: What’s the Graded Response Action Plan all about?

Answer: Last week, the Supreme Court directed the MoEF to notify the graded response action plan for Delhi-NCR and once it’s notified, the government has to implement it at the earliest. The plan prepared jointly by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), CSE and others, charts a detailed strategy on what kind of action is needed for a certain level of pollution defined by the AQI. There are various categories of pollution — moderate, poor, very poor, severe and above that, the emergency level. The actions listed in the poor category need to be implemented throughout the year. But during months when weather conditions turn more adverse, there is need for greater scrutiny of enforcement. It’s the first-of-its-kind measure to be implemented in India. This will slow down the peaking up of the pollution level.

It’ll also catalyse long-term action because the kind of measures they have listed as per the levels of pollution would help us to get better results. Besides, it’ll also help us put in place more systemic solutions urgently needed to give benefits of sustained quality air throughout the year.

FP: What kind of actions has been recommended in the plan vis-à-vis the levels of pollution?

A: Based on AQI that shows air pollution levels — from moderate to severe — various measures have been recommended like shutting down of brick kilns and coal-based power plants; maximizing generation of power from existing natural gas based plants; mechanized cleaning of roads and sprinkling of water; stopping the use of diesel and kerosene generator sets; stopping construction activities, and entry of truck traffic into Delhi (except essential goods); removing polluting vehicles from the road; putting an end to burning of wastes and garbage, etc.

Anumita Roy Chowdhury. Photo courtesy: Naresh SharmaAnumita Roy Chowdhury. Photo courtesy: Naresh Sharma

Anumita Roychowdhury. Photo courtesy: Naresh Sharma

FP: Immediately after Diwali, Delhi witnessed an emergency like situation due to high-level of air pollution. But, again with the advent of winter, the air quality has begun to deteriorate.

A: During winter due to calm and cool weather condition, air gets trapped close to ground level and along with it pollution already present in the city also gets trapped. This winter too, we are witnessing this situation of rapid building up of pollution. We are going to see several episodes of smog and this condition will prevail till mid-February. This happens due to this severe anti-cyclone situation. There will be ups and downs, with the pollution level hitting the severe level continuously.

FP: What steps need to be taken to prevent this onslaught of pollution?

A: We should have the winter plan in place where emergency measures should be implemented with absolute stringency. The implementation of graded response action plan will ensure that if weather condition is adverse, pollution in air doesn’t get worse. The measures mentioned in each category need to be strictly followed.

FP: What factors aggravate the pollution level in Delhi-NCR?

A: Vehicular pollution, burning of waste and garbage, construction debris, emissions from coal-based power plants, dust, burning of crop stubble, etc are the major culprits. However, stubble burning is a temporary phenomenon, because it takes place during October and November, before the new crop.

FP: Where have we faulted and what needs to be done?

A: In the area of public transport system, we’ve really slipped a lot, because except Metro rail, no investment has been made in this sector. Now, the priority should be to have an integrated public transport system, where Metro system and highly improved bus system are integrated physically and through a common ticketing system. Simultaneously, a well organized para-transit system needs to be in place, supported by a good walking and cycling infrastructure. Odd-even scheme is an emergency measure and can’t be a permanent solution.

Besides Delhi-NCR, other states too have to follow the same template of the action plan with absolute stringency, because things aren’t happening in a systematic manner. When a plan gets delayed, we lose momentum. We have to be extremely careful – even post-winter — to keep momentum going by adopting all measures—short term, medium term and long term.

FP: Delhi children are being deprived of a carefree childhood due to this pollution…

A:
Very true! There is one death per hour due to air pollution; lungs of every third child are impaired. They are being recommended indoor activity and are discouraged from outdoor activities when pollution is severe.

FP: Delhi’s pollution can’t be seen in isolation. To contain it, active cooperation from states and central agencies is needed. Is there any common authority to deal with inter-state issues and enforcement related to pollution control?

A: No, there is not. Rather it’s not required as MoEF and CPCB are already there as central agencies to supervise the whole process and then the state governments should implement measures. The CPCB has to take the lead as the most legitimate body.

First Published On : Dec 17, 2016 13:25 IST

This winter, severe anti-cyclone situation might escalate Delhi pollution, says CSE executive director

Public health emergencies of the previous century, such as cholera, malaria and TB have all been tackled with antibiotics and vaccines. But what about the biggest public health emergency of contemporary times? That’s the pollution in the air we breathe which has reached unprecedented life-threatening levels — recall Delhi’s situation post-Diwali — yet we are not prepared to deal with it. It may worsen with the advancing winter.

However, things may change with the notification that the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) is soon going to issue to Delhi-NCR, and subsequently to other states, on implementation of Graded Response Action Plan. That is a system based on the Air Quality Index (AQI), designed to take effective steps to combat public health emergencies due to pollution.

To decode the plan and understand its efficacy, Debobrat Ghose of Firstpost speaks to Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director (Research and Advocacy) and head, air pollution and clean transportation programme at Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), one of the stakeholders in the planning process.

Firstpost: What’s the Graded Response Action Plan all about?

Answer: Last week, the Supreme Court directed the MoEF to notify the graded response action plan for Delhi-NCR and once it’s notified, the government has to implement it at the earliest. The plan prepared jointly by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), CSE and others, charts a detailed strategy on what kind of action is needed for a certain level of pollution defined by the AQI. There are various categories of pollution — moderate, poor, very poor, severe and above that, the emergency level. The actions listed in the poor category need to be implemented throughout the year. But during months when weather conditions turn more adverse, there is need for greater scrutiny of enforcement. It’s the first-of-its-kind measure to be implemented in India. This will slow down the peaking up of the pollution level.

It’ll also catalyse long-term action because the kind of measures they have listed as per the levels of pollution would help us to get better results. Besides, it’ll also help us put in place more systemic solutions urgently needed to give benefits of sustained quality air throughout the year.

FP: What kind of actions has been recommended in the plan vis-à-vis the levels of pollution?

A: Based on AQI that shows air pollution levels — from moderate to severe — various measures have been recommended like shutting down of brick kilns and coal-based power plants; maximizing generation of power from existing natural gas based plants; mechanized cleaning of roads and sprinkling of water; stopping the use of diesel and kerosene generator sets; stopping construction activities, and entry of truck traffic into Delhi (except essential goods); removing polluting vehicles from the road; putting an end to burning of wastes and garbage, etc.

Anumita Roy Chowdhury. Photo courtesy: Naresh SharmaAnumita Roy Chowdhury. Photo courtesy: Naresh Sharma

Anumita Roychowdhury. Photo courtesy: Naresh Sharma

FP: Immediately after Diwali, Delhi witnessed an emergency like situation due to high-level of air pollution. But, again with the advent of winter, the air quality has begun to deteriorate.

A: During winter due to calm and cool weather condition, air gets trapped close to ground level and along with it pollution already present in the city also gets trapped. This winter too, we are witnessing this situation of rapid building up of pollution. We are going to see several episodes of smog and this condition will prevail till mid-February. This happens due to this severe anti-cyclone situation. There will be ups and downs, with the pollution level hitting the severe level continuously.

FP: What steps need to be taken to prevent this onslaught of pollution?

A: We should have the winter plan in place where emergency measures should be implemented with absolute stringency. The implementation of graded response action plan will ensure that if weather condition is adverse, pollution in air doesn’t get worse. The measures mentioned in each category need to be strictly followed.

FP: What factors aggravate the pollution level in Delhi-NCR?

A: Vehicular pollution, burning of waste and garbage, construction debris, emissions from coal-based power plants, dust, burning of crop stubble, etc are the major culprits. However, stubble burning is a temporary phenomenon, because it takes place during October and November, before the new crop.

FP: Where have we faulted and what needs to be done?

A: In the area of public transport system, we’ve really slipped a lot, because except Metro rail, no investment has been made in this sector. Now, the priority should be to have an integrated public transport system, where Metro system and highly improved bus system are integrated physically and through a common ticketing system. Simultaneously, a well organized para-transit system needs to be in place, supported by a good walking and cycling infrastructure. Odd-even scheme is an emergency measure and can’t be a permanent solution.

Besides Delhi-NCR, other states too have to follow the same template of the action plan with absolute stringency, because things aren’t happening in a systematic manner. When a plan gets delayed, we lose momentum. We have to be extremely careful – even post-winter — to keep momentum going by adopting all measures—short term, medium term and long term.

FP: Delhi children are being deprived of a carefree childhood due to this pollution…

A:
Very true! There is one death per hour due to air pollution; lungs of every third child are impaired. They are being recommended indoor activity and are discouraged from outdoor activities when pollution is severe.

FP: Delhi’s pollution can’t be seen in isolation. To contain it, active cooperation from states and central agencies is needed. Is there any common authority to deal with inter-state issues and enforcement related to pollution control?

A: No, there is not. Rather it’s not required as MoEF and CPCB are already there as central agencies to supervise the whole process and then the state governments should implement measures. The CPCB has to take the lead as the most legitimate body.

First Published On : Dec 17, 2016 13:25 IST

Charges framed against alleged ISIS suspects

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A special court here on Monday charged five suspected ISIS operatives of conspiring to carry out terror acts in the country. According to the chargesheet filed by the NIA, the suspects were planning to carry out operations during the Ardh Kumbh in Haridwar.Akhlakur Rehman, Mohd Azeemushan, Mohd Meraj, Mohd Osama and Mohsin Ibrahim Sayyed were charged for alleged offences committed under Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of IPC and under Sections 17 (punishment for raising funds for terrorist act), 18 (conspiracy for terror act) and 20 (punishment for being member of terror group) of UAPA. The suspects plead not guilty and claimed trial that will commence on December 15. Though the five suspects are in judicial custody, Bhatkal man and former Indian Mujaheedin (IM) member, Shafi Armar, who was positively identified as Yusuf al Hindi, a key operative in the ISIS cadre, is currently absconding. IN this chargesheet, the NIA has charged Armar as being the main recruiter and motivator to set up Indian modules inspired by the Islamic State group (ISIS)This is the first time the NIA has been able to ascertain identity of Yusuf al-Hindi, who until now remained a shadowy figure behind his alias. The NIA has alleged that Armar radicalised the youths through various communication platforms like Twitter, Trillion, Surespot, Skype and Facebook. During the investigation it was revealed that Armar sent Rs.5,86,000 through hawala to Sheik. This money was distributed among active ISIS operatives here in the country.Armar also sent the alleged operatives, several links that contained information on how to make Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) from easily available material. Manuals like “Bomb Banane ka asan Tariqa (Easy way to make a bomb),” “Diwali wale Patakhaon ke Zariye (With the help of Diwali firecrackers),” “Table or Alarm watch se Timer Banana (How to make a timer using a table watch or alarm watch),” providing instructions on how to make bombs with the black residue of a matchstick head and other firecrackers that’s are usually burst during Diwali. Through the literature, the operatives also learnt how to use an ordinary light bulb as a detonator. Audio files containing “takrirs” – Hatred religious Preaching against Hindus of Maulana Masood Azhar, the chief commander of Jaish-eMohammad were also sent.The NIA recovered 65 grams of powder from the matchstick head mixed with sugar. In its report, the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL), confirmed that the evidence collected was sufficient to make “explosive charges.”The six operatives mentioned above (except Armar), were arrested during various raids conducted by Special Cell of the Delhi Police early this year. They were allegedly plotting to target the Ardh Kumbh Mela that took place in Haridwar, Uttarakhand a few months ago. According to an order passed by the Home Ministry, the case was transferred to the NIA for further investigation.

Tamil Nadu: 11 sentenced to 1 year imprisonment for abusing man by his caste

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A court in Tamil Nadu on Monday sentenced 11 people to one year imprisonment for abusing a man for his caste in 2012.The court also slapped a fine of Rs 5,000 on five of the accused and Rs 5,500 on the others.The prosecution case was that the 11 people abused Karthick and his friend by their caste name when they were riding their motorcycle at N Mangalam Pidari Koil area here on Diwali day on November 13, 2012 after waylaying them.On a complaint from Karthick, police registered a case against the 11 people.

Delhi pollution: India could learn from London’s Great Smog of 1952, Clean Air Act

They say when the English have nothing to say they talk of the weather. We wonder, however, it would be just a small talk should UK Prime Minister Theresa May, whose three-day visit to India concludes on Wednesday, happen to mention New Delhi’s smoke situation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Smog City, as the National Capital is now jokingly referred to by Delhiites has much in common with May’s London. It was hit with similar smog in 1952. Though one may refute the similarities between the Smog situation in New Delhi with the Great Smog that hit London over five days between 5 December 1952 to 9 December 1952, that killed thousands because of health issues that emerged out of it, those who have been to New Delhi may argue that it couldn’t get any worse.

Even then it would be wiser that Ne w Delhi takes a few lessons from London’s Great Smog on how to prevent it from happening again in New Delhi.

Delhi-smog-Reuters

A valuable approach in that direction may be the Clean Air Act 1956 that the Ministry of Health in the UK put to effect to prevent a 1952-like situation in the future. Here’s what New Delhi may learn:

• Though the same exact rules may not be practical for New Delhi, especially since the cause of the problem is different, an act that aptly identifies the source of pollutants and offers measures to reduce them could be a right place to start with to prevent the situation from arising in the future.

• A key element of Clean Air Act was setting up stringent rules on industries as another source of pollution in and around London to ensure their presence doesn’t add to the smoke situation. For New Delhi, it would be fruitful to identify sources that contribute to a large amount of pollution.

• Apart from identifying the source, the act also offered solutions that could be implemented in London, such as setting up a technical guideline on height of chimneys, standardising acceptable level of grit and dust emitted from chimneys and measuring it, fuel to be consumed, etc, gave the public some direction on what was allowed and what wasn’t. The New Delhi government could collaborate with environmental and pollution experts to identify measures that can be taken to curb the release of pollutants into the air.

• One of the main issues that have emerged as the chief reason behind the sudden smoke situation in New Delhi (and historically too) is that bulk of New Delhi’s pollution emerges outside the capital. This year too, it was the burning of crops in states surrounding New Delhi. Perhaps, the New Delhi government could work on an arrangement with the neighbouring states to dispose of the agricultural waste in an eco-friendly way either by helping the surrounding states with technical know-how or funds to promote green methods in waste disposal.

As a New York Times story stated on 2 November, “Farmers 100 miles north in Punjab were well aware that they were contaminating the capital’s air… and were willing to consider other ways to dispose of the excess straw, but could not afford the options offered by the government.”

• But even then the crop burning in states surrounding New Delhi was responsible only for the one-quarter of the pollution, a majority of it is likely to have emerged from inside New Delhi including festivals like Diwali and Dussehra, which also contributed to the recent smog situation in New Delhi. In fact, according to an NDTV report, “data from the central pollution monitoring agency showed that concentrations of Particulate Matter or PM 10 (coarser pollutants) was over 1,600 micrograms per cubic metre compared to a safe level of 100 at around 2 am in Delhi’s Anand Vihar, on the night of Diwali. Whereas, PM 2.5, a standard measure of air quality, was as much as 14 times the safe limit.” This is despite the fact several citizens claimed that the bursting of crackers wasn’t as high as last year.

Not everyone like firecrackers and a lot of Delhiites would be willing to give up firecrackers to breathe clean air. The Delhi government could implement a fee on those who want to light firecrackers to discourage bursting firecrackers.

• The Clean Air Act 1956 also clarified as to who will be held responsible if any of the rules, say, if building chimneys produced dark smoke, but with valid defences to prevent misuse of the law against citizens. And that’s why intent became an important part in the decision-making of whether or not an offence was committed. Taking this as an example, perhaps the state government could come up with rules that while limiting the amount of smoke created both inside New Delhi and in the surrounding areas, it also offers adequate defences to prevent its misuse.

• The Clean Air Act also sets fines that can be imposed on people who break the rules be it individual offenders or states and their regional bodies surrounding New Delhi. But that would depend a lot on how strongly will New Delhi be able to stress its right for clean air, and not get trapped in party politics.

Delhi under cloud of smog, considers traffic measures to ease pollution | Reuters

By Sanjeev Miglani
| NEW DELHI

NEW DELHI A million school children were forced to stay at home, thousands of employees reported sick and long queues formed outside shops selling face masks on Monday as New Delhi struggled with its worst pollution for nearly 20 years.The Indian capital’s government was considering whether to bring back a scheme to reduce traffic, a minister said on Monday, as air pollution remained many times above what are considered to be safe levels for a second week.New Delhi’s streets were shrouded in a heavy gray haze of smoke, ash and other pollutants, and residents complained of breathlessness, watering of eyes, aggravated coughs and wheezing.”We are now calling this a pollution epidemic. Our advisory to people is to stay at home, if possible work from home,” said K.K. Aggarwal, president of the Indian Medical Association.Levels of PM 2.5, tiny particulate matter that reaches deep into the lungs, were above 700 in the city’s worst affected areas on Monday.That is nearly 30 times a mean guideline of 25 micrograms per cubic meter on average over a 24-hour period set by the World Health Organization (WHO), which says outdoor air pollution killed 3.7 million people globally in 2012.”It’s been a nightmare. My toddler and I woke up from a nap coughing as if pepper had been sprinkled on our throats,” said Tara Chowdhry, a Delhi resident.”I climbed trees in this city. I played near India Gate. Now we are trapped in our living rooms next to air purifiers.”As evening fell, the air quality improved as the wind picked up, but it was still at levels considered unhealthy.Children have been among the hardest hit. Many crammed into Shishu Sadan children’s hospital in west Delhi for respiratory spasms and aggravated asthma, pneumonia and bronchitis.”A few months ago it was dengue and chikungunya in Delhi and now we have this,” said pediatrician Lavraj Gupta, referring to disease outbreaks in the city of 17 million, many of whom live without access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation.

A combination of smoke from burning farm residue in surrounding states, fireworks for the Hindu festival of Diwali, dust from construction work and vehicle emissions have pushed pollution levels to their highest in 17 years.Mohammad Kamil, manager of a store that sells face masks, said he used to sell about six masks on average in a week, but now they had 150 to 200 customers a day.”We have run out of stock, but we are taking orders. We will provide it to everyone,” he said.The demand for air purifiers also jumped, both from locals and foreigners working in India.”BRAND INDIA”

Between 5 and 10 percent of the workforce in Delhi and its surrounding areas had reported sick over the past week, the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry said in a survey of 150 companies.It warned that the pollution could deal a blow to “brand India”, as the country seeks to attract investment and create hundreds of thousands of jobs for its young population.India, the world’s fastest growing major economy, is home to four of the world’s 10 cities with the worst air pollution, the WHO said in May. New Delhi ranked 11th.Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Kumar Jain said the administration was preparing to restrict the use of private vehicles through the “odd-even” scheme that was introduced temporarily last winter to combat pollution.Under the system, cars were allowed on the road only on alternate days, according to whether their number plates were odd or even.

“There is a review meeting later this week. We are considering to bring back the odd-even scheme, it is one of many measures,” he told reporters.Delegates attending a global conference on controlling tobacco consumption said they were taken by surprise by the level of pollution.”I was shocked, did not expect this. It’s kind of funny that we are at a conference that aims to have cleaner air and are at a venue that does not have that,” said Irene Ryes, a delegate from the Philippines.U.S. embassy spokesman Joseph Kruzich said the embassy had employed measures, including supplementary air filtration and construction of vestibules, to provide clean air in workspaces.British Prime Minister Theresa May was visiting India, and a reception for her at High Commissioner Dominic Asquith’s residence, located in the heart of Lutyens’ Delhi, will go ahead on Monday evening as planned, an official said.”Officially, we are saying nothing at all about pollution,” a British diplomat said.Delhi authorities have blamed the governments of nearby states of Haryana and Punjab for compounding the city’s problems by allowing farmers to burn paddy stubble ahead of the wheat sowing season, even though the practice is banned.Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s government urged people not to use pollution for political gain.”If we engage in any blame game, the issue won’t get resolved. The problem right now is Delhi’s 20 million people are finding it difficult to breathe,” said Anil Madhav Dave, federal environment minister. (Additional reporting by Krishna Das, Douglas Busvine, Aditya Kalra and Malini Menon; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

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

‘Be solution to pollution’: Delhiites take to streets for their right to breathe

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As the pall of smoggy gloom suffocates all and cripples life in the national capital, the people from all walks of life geared up to carry out a series of protests beginning Sunday to fight for their right to breathe. The national capital, considered to be the world’s most polluted city, hit a new low the past week. As millions struggle with hacking coughs and burning eyes, many schools across the city have either shut down or ended all outdoor activities.Several mask-clad children and concerned citizens were seen protesting at the Jantar Mantar here against the rising pollution level. They were seen holding placards which read “Be the solution to the pollution”, “Don’t Let Our Future Go Up In Smog, Go Green 2 Breathe” and so on.”My grand children have recently shifted from America. They used to play football but now they can’t play it here. The pollution is affecting the children. Unless we do something, this won’t get resolved. Unhealthy citizen is an unhealthy nation. This problem is there for years. If today we stand up for this then we might get some result in the coming days,” Sanjiv Kumar, one of the protestors, said.
ALSO READ Delhi pollution: Arvind Kejriwal calls emergency meet to take stockEquating breathing in Delhi with that of smoking a pack of cigarettes per day, another protestor said the air in the national capital is getting worse day by day. “Till now, it has never happened that schools have to be closed in Delhi. The air in Delhi is getting worse day by day. We can’t raise our children like this. There has to be combined efforts from both government and individual citizens. This is becoming from bad to worse. Breathing in Delhi is like smoking a pack of cigarettes a day,” she said.”This is happening due to the government. During the time of Sheila Dikshit, it was a complete clean environment. Here we have little children, who are suffering from diseases like asthma. It has become an emergency situation for Delhi,” she added.
ALSO READ Delhi pollution: Kejriwal says schools to be closed for 3 days, Odd-Even may returnAnother protestor said that they would hold such protests every Sunday. “Everyone in Delhi is getting affected with this air pollution. We need a committed and consistent effort for this. This is an emergency, a crisis. The politicians need to listen to us,” he said.Meanwhile, social activist Nafisa Ali voiced her opinion against the use of crackers during the festival of lights Diwali and said the situation of rising level of air pollution in Delhi will change if everybody contemplates over the same. “This situation will change only when we ponder over this. One should not use crackers during Diwali. The Odd-Even scheme was very much successful for change. We should support that. I would request everyone not to use cars and use cycle, metro or just walk for three days,” she added.
ALSO READ Emergency situation in Delhi, Centre says about alarming pollution levelDelhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has called for an emergency meeting this afternoon to take stock of the recent measures announced to combat the soaring pollution-level in the national capital. Technologies like jet sprinkling and the dust sweep machine will be discussed at length during the meeting to be held at Kejriwal’s residence.This development comes in the wake of the Centre calling a meeting of Environment Ministers of all neighbouring states on Monday to put an end to crop burning as Delhi’s pollution rises to alarming level. Kejriwal had met Union Environment Minister Anil Dave on Saturday and sought the Centre’s intervention following which the latter declared an emergency situation in Delhi.Dave said the present circumstances are quite bad, particularly for children, patients, women and the elderly. Kejriwal has, however, blamed the practice of crop burning in Haryana and Punjab for the pollution in the national capital, as air quality in the city dips to its worst in 17 years.Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung has also called a high-level meeting on the issue on Monday during which immediate, short-term and long-term measures to combat the growing air pollution in the city are to be discussed. Earlier on Saturday, the first day’s play of two Ranji Trophy games in New Delhi was cancelled due to poor light caused by smog. The players complained of irritation in eyes and breathing problems. The matches cancelled were Group A league encounter between Bengal and Gujarat at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium and Group C match at Karnail Singh Stadium between Tripura and Hyderabad.

Air masks selling like hot cakes courtesy Delhi smog

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With Delhi witnessing its worst spell of smog in 17 years, the sale of air masks has seen an upsurge since the past week with stores across the national capital and neighbouring regions running out of stock.Popular websites and chemists have either run out of masks or are loaded with orders for masks and air purifiers even as air quality in the national capital has plunged to hazardous levels since the start of Diwali celebrations.The owner of a shop selling masks said that the rise in sell of masks has gone up post Diwali. “The people are very careful about their health and they want to protect themselves from the pollution. The children and the old especially have to take care of themselves. It is very much essential as well,” he added. One of the buyers said it is extremely difficult to walk in the national capital wearing masks but added that there is no alternative. “I don’t wear masks regularly but the pollution has increased to such an extent that it is essential. It’s difficult to roam around with mask but if we have to protect ourselves we have to wear it,” she said. “I have worn mask because of air pollution. I go out and play, so mask is required,” added another buyer.Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has announced a list of measures to be enforced by the state government to curb the soaring pollution in the national capital including putting all construction projects across the city on hold for the next five days and ordering the shutdown of all schools for the next three days.He also stated that the return of the Odd-Even scheme was possible to keep traffic emissions in check, adding the possibility of artificial rain was also discussed in the meeting but it would require Centre’s assistance.Remaining resolute on his stand that crop burning in the neighbouring states was responsible for the ever-increasing pollution level in Delhi, the Chief Minister added that no immediate relief could be expected as stubble burning continued.

Noida: 21-year-old student of Amity University from Telangana commits suicide

Noida: A 21-year-old student of Amity University in Noida allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself at his hostel room, police said on Saturday.

G Sai Krishna, a native of Telangana, was a first year student of post graduate diploma in facilities management and had joined the course recently, a senior police officer said.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

He allegedly hanged himself last evening. He has left a note written in Telugu, addressed to his parents. The hostel was empty at that time as other students had gone for Diwali holidays, SHO of Sector 39 Police Station, Amarnath Yadav, said.

Krishna was rushed to a hospital, where he was declared brought dead, the SHO said.

A few days back, Krishna was scolded by his father regarding his studies and also for borrowing money from someone and not being able to pay it back, he said.

Krishna’s father is an advocate. In his note, Krishna wrote that committing suicide is not easy and told his parents that they have done a lot for him, Yadav said.

The body has been handed over to his family after post-mortem, police said.

In August, a student of BA-LLB course in the university, had allegedly committed suicide at his residence in Delhi.

The deceased, who was the son of a joint secretary-level official in the Rajya Sabha Secretariat, was debarred from appearing in the sixth semester exams in May due to “shortage of attendance”.

Pollution in Delhi because of crop burning in Punjab, Haryana, UP: Satyendra Jain

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi’s Health Minister Satyendra Jain on Friday said the rise in pollution in the city was because of the crops being burnt in neighbouring states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh. “Crop burning in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh is the biggest contributor in the rise of pollution levels. We have requested the government of these states several time not to burn crops,” Jain told ANI.On Thursday, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has pressed alarm buttons to highlight one of the worst cases of smog in the national capital.CSE experts said that as per the India Meteorological Department, the smog on November 2, 2016 was the worst in 17 years. Analysing the available data, the CSE reports states that the post-Diwali peak of pollution is higher than the Diwali peak, as the levels of PM2.5 have increased by 62.7% on November 2 as compared to that on Diwali. On November 2, the levels were 9.4 times the standard.The Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi recorded the worst levels of smog in 17 years on November 2, with visibility as low as 300-400 metres. The period between 11AM and 2:30 PM was the worst in the day with respect to airport visibility. Calling for an advisory to be issued with alacrity, the CSE report states that the health advisory needs to inform people to keep children and those suffering from heart and respiratory ailments and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) indoors and avoid outdoor exercises.Schools should be shut if necessary as children are more vulnerable. Joint studies of Central Pollution Control Board and the Chittaranjan National Cancer Research Institute from Kolkata have shown that every third child in Delhi has impaired lungs.

Maharashtra: 12 minor girls raped by teachers in Buldhana, three pregnant

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a shocking incident, 12 minor tribal girl students have been allegedly raped by their teachers and headmaster. Aged between 12 and 14, these girls were studying in a private boarding school, Ninadhi Ashran School in Hivarkheda in Bhuldhana district of Maharashtra, 450 km from Mumbai. Police sources say that seven teachers are currently in custody and a probe is under way.SD Baviskar, Superintendent of Police, Buldhana, said: “The incident occurred just before Diwali. We have sent women police officials to talk to the victims and take their statements. So far, 10 teachers have been accused, and seven have been arrested.”This barbaric act came to light only when three of the 12 girls returned home to Halkheda village in Muktainagar taluka in Jalgaon district. Recounting the incident, Bulesterni Sati Bhosale, Deputy Sarpanch of Halkheda village, said: “During Diwali, many girls were running and playing. But three girls (who are related to her) were sitting quietly in a corner. When we asked them why they were not playing, they said they had stomach pain and were feeling something heavy in their stomachs. When we took them to the doctor, he told us that these girls were pregnant.”Police say that all the 12 girls have currently been sent to a hospital in Akola district. As far as the accused are concerned, the Deputy Sarpanch said that the relatives have lodged a complaint in the Khamgaon police station in Buldhana district. An emotive Bhosale said: “We want all culprits to be given capital punishment. The government should spare no one.”Local police said that they are calling all staffers of the school for an inquiry. “Most of the accused in this rape cases are local teachers, headmaster, peons and other staffers. No one should run away. Therefore, we are taking most of them into custody. Initially, 12 tribal minors are suspected of having been raped though the numbers could be much more,” a senior police officer said.Muktainagar MLA Eknath Khadse said that everything possible was being done to help these girls and their families. “Bulesterni Sati Bhosale, Deputy Sarpanch of Halkheda, told me about the rape and that three girls were pregnant. I immediately called the Jalgaon police and sought an inquiry. They called the Buldhana police because the incident happened there. The government will take cognisance of the case and the culprits will be given capital punishment,” Khadse said.This tragic incident has already started taking a political turn as Chitra Wagh, Women’s Wing President of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), condemned the incident and demanded the resignation of Maharashtra’s Women and Child Minister Pankaja Munde and Tribal Minister Vishnu Savara.”The law and order situation has gone for a toss. There is no fear of law. Both the ministers have failed to protect children. They should take moral responsibility, and resign immediately,” Wagh said.

ITBP, Chinese army in face-off along LAC in Leh’s Demchok

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Indian and Chinese troops are reportedly engaged in a face-off along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Leh’s Demchok area since noon on Wednesday, reported the Hindu.The Chinese army has refused to go back and have come close to the Indian ‘side’ of the LAC, said the officer The report said that some civilian project is going on in the border areas and China has objected to it.“They came on Wednesday afternoon and stayed till the night. They returned and came back this morning again. It’s an eyeball-to-eyeball situation there,” said the official.In March this year, Chinese People Liberation Army (PLA) troops entered almost 6 km deep inside Indian territory near the Pangong lake area. The recent development comes less than a week after PM Modi celebrated Diwali with ITBP personnel at one of the remotest border posts in Uttarakhand.

Three days after Diwali, air pollution level continues to be severe in Delhi

New Delhi: Delhi on Wednesday morning witnessed severe level of air quality, marked with low visibility, even three days after Diwali.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

According to a Firstpost report, air quality in Noida has plummeted to 1,100 AQI.

The reasons for this degradation have been attributed to smoke due to firecrackers and negligible wind speed to disperse the pollutants.

According to System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), the air quality index in Delhi on Wednesday touched the 500 mark, marked severe.

To put the number in perspective, Mumbai showed a “Good to moderate” an air quality index, well under 200.

“The wind speed is zero, so is vertical wind speed. And the bursting of cracker, apart from vehicle pollution and that from power plants added to it,” Vivek Chattopadhyay a member of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) told IANS

The next three days is forecast to be just as severe in the national capital, SAFAR added.

Remembering the dead

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>For Christians, All Souls’ Day caps the three-day Allhallowtide events, which begin with a vigil for Halloween, celebrations for All Saints’ Day, and end with prayers said for departed souls on November 2. Prayers are especially said to help those in purgatory and to expedite the deletion of their minor sins to pave their entry into Heaven.It is common to leave behind food for the departed souls on the table. Many Spanish-speaking nations observe the three days — October 31, November 1 andNovvember 2 — as Dias de Los Muertos, by visiting the graveyards of near and dear ones with the favourite food, beverage and memorabilia of the deceased. Building private altars, parades and recounting old anecdotes is common.For Shab-e-Barat or the night of forgiveness, followers of Islam pray through the night and recite the holy Quran seeking Allah’s forgiveness for their sins. The belief is that god decides the destiny of men for the coming year by accounting for their past deeds on this night — the full moon day between 14 and 15 Sha’ban, the eighth month of the Islamic calendar. After a night of prayers, followers visit the graveyard of their ancestors in the morning to make offerings of flowers and pray for the peace of the departed person’s soul.Shab-e-Barat is celebrated with much zest and is not unlike the Hindu celebration of Diwali given that Muslims clean and decorate their homes, prepare special food and sweets (sevaiyan) and distribute these to their neighbours. Besides, mosques too are lit up with festive lights and firecrackers may be burst in the morning.Hindus remember their ancestors during a 15-day period referred to as Pitru Paksha or Mahalaya paksha or Sola Shraddha. This usually falls in the fortnight immediately after the Ganesha festival, i.e. in the second fortnight of the Hindu calendar month of Bhadrapada. During Pitru Paksha, the eldest son of the deceased performs the Shraddha by making offerings for ancestors said to be in pitrulok (the realm between Heaven and earth). Special food is prepared for the shraddha rites, and is first offered to a crow — believed to be Yama, the keeper of pitrulok — and then to priests before the family can partake it. Pitru Paksha and Shraddha are considered essential by Hindus to ensure their ancestors’ passage into Heaven.Another Hindu festival marked to invoke good ancestral spirits is Bhoot Chaturdashi. This one is generally celebrated by Bengalis the night before Kali puja by lighting 14 earthen lamps in every corner of the house to ward of evil spirits and to show the path to good ancestral ones. They also sprinkle water obtained after washing 14 leafy vegetables which are had for lunch and dinner.In China, which has no official religion, the only native festival which is celebrated is the Qingming festival or the Ancestors Day. On this day, which usually falls in April, people go the graveyard to clean the graves and decorate the tombs of their ancestors. They also make offerings of tea and food and burn paper money.A similar festival, called Bon or Obon, is celebrated in Japan too. The three-day event, starting mostly on August 15, is marked by families visiting their ancestral homes or ancestral graves and a regional dance which varies from place to place.

Bengaluru: Masked men use noise from Diwali crackers as cover to shoot dead businessman

Bengaluru: A 50-year-old real estate businessman was shot dead near his house on Diwali night by two unidentified assailants, police said on Monday.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“Surendra Kumar was shot from a close range around 10 pm on Sunday by the masked assailants who came on a motorbike and fled from the spot in the cover of darkness and noise from bursting fire crackers,” Additional Commissioner of Police KSR Charan Reddy told IANS.

As a bleeding Kumar collapsed at the gate of his house in upscale Sanjay Nagar, his car driver and another employee rushed him to a nearby private hospital where doctors declared him dead.

“An FIR has been registered under section 302 of the IPC and the Arms Act on a complaint filed by the employee who witnessed the incident along with the driver. We have set up multiple teams to investigate the case and hunt down the killers,” said Reddy.

Kumar, a bachelor, who hailed from Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur, was living in the city since 2000 and was involved in various business activities, including real estate and property development.

He was returning home after celebrating Diwali with his staff in his farmhouse at Devanahalli and his nearby office when he was attacked.

“We are investigating the incident from all angles. Preliminary inquiry hints at business rivalry or a financial deal going awry. Our priority is to first nab the killers to crack the case,” said Reddy.

Kumar’s lawyer Vinod K, however, told reporters that Kumar’s former employee Kapil Saraswat was the prime suspect.

“He had threatened to kill Kumar for filing a cheating complaint, resulting in his arrest and imprisonment in Mathura jail (in Uttar Pradesh) early this year,” said Vinod.

Saraswat is reported to have borrowed Rs 3 crore from Kumar to purchase prime land in Uttar Pradesh but failed to return the money.

“Kapil’s brothers also came to Bengluru recently and threatened Kumar of serious consequences if he did not withdraw his complaint,” alleged Vinod.

Diwali fireworks ‘worsen Delhi pollution’

The level of pollution in Delhi has risen to nearly ten times the safe level after thousands of fireworks were let off during Diwali celebrations.

Delhi: Over 300 fire-related incidents reported on Diwali

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Over 300 calls related to minor fire incidents were received by authorities from across the national capital during Diwali festivities in New Delhi, in which few people, including a child, sustained burn injuries.The Delhi fire department received 243 calls till 12 am while another 107 calls were attended to between midnight and morning, an official said. “One woman and a child received burn injuries when a roadside firecracker stall caught fire around 3 pm at west Delhi’s Mohan Garden area yesterday,” a senior Delhi fire services officer said.Forty calls were received during the peak hours from 8 pm to 10 pm, when the department receives maximum fire calls as festivities peak in the form of incessant fireworks and lighting of earthen lamps.Besides the 59 permanent fire stations, the fire services had set up temporary stations at 22 locations across the city from where maximum fire calls were received during last year’s Diwali.The authorities had also increased the number of phone lines to the control room in view of the increased number of fire calls on Diwali.

Day after Diwali, Delhi reels under blanket of smog

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A thick blanket of smog engulfed the national capital a day after Diwali festivities, leading to poor visibility conditions across the city. The weather office reported shallow to moderate levels of fog in many parts of the city. Safdarjung observatory recorded visibility at 200 metres. The formation of smog — the combination of smoke and fog — can be attributed to Sunday night’s incessant fireworks during the festivities. The minimum temperature was recorded at 15.5 degrees Celsius, normal for this time of the year, while the maximum is likely to be around 31 degrees Celsius. Air quality at 500 micrograms per cubic metre (severe) around Lodhi Road on Sunday morning. Earlier in the day, five vehicles collided due to the smog at DND flyover. No one was injured.Satyendra Jain, Delhi Health Minister, told ANI that pollution levels were high in several cities and said, “Thank you to the people of Delhi, who burst lesser crackers this time.”The sky will be clear in the later part of the day, an official said. Humidity was recorded on the higher end of the scale at 94% at 8:30 AM. On Sunday, the maximum and minimum temperatures were 31.7 and 15 degrees Celsius respectively. Air quality had plunged to ‘severe’ category, which carries the risk of affecting people’s respiratory system, on Sunday as smoke caused by fireworks, as part of Diwali festivities, blanketed the national capital.The Centre’s System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) recorded the level of respirable pollutants, PM 2.5 and PM 10, at 283 and 517 micrograms per cubic metre respectively around 8 PM, violating the safe limits by multiple times. The prescribed standards of PM 2.5 and PM 10 are 60 and 100 respectively, and anything beyond that can harm the respiratory system as the ultra fine particulates can embed deep into the lungs and also enter the bloodstream.

Last rites of BSF martyr Nitin Subhash Koli held in Sanghli, Maharashtra

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BSF jawan Nitin Subhash Koli, who was killed in ceasefire violation by Pakistani troops in Macchil sector along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir, was laid to rest in Sanghli on Monday.The 28-year-old constable Koli, hailing from Dudhgaon village Sangli in Maharashtra, was martyred on Saturday. Koli had joined BSF in 2008 and is survived by his wife and two sons aged four years and two years. His body was sent to his native village amid tearful farewell given to him by his colleagues.Thousands of villagers today bid a tearful adieu to Subhash, who was cremated with full military honours. State ministers Chandrakant Patil and Sadabhau Khot were among those who paid tributes to the martyr. Earlier, his body was taken to his home and later kept at the Karmveer Chowk to enable people pay their last respects.”I salute our brave martyr Nitin Koli from Sangli who lost his life protecting our nation. We stand by his family in their tough time,” Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Sunday “We have taken a decision to provide financial aid of Rs 15 lakh to the family of our martyred soldier,” he told PTI.After the news broke out of Koli being killed, villagers from Dudhgoan decided not to celebrate Diwali on Sunday. Subhash was supposed to come home after Diwali and even wished his family ‘Happy Diwali’ over phone on Friday, a close relative of the jawan, said. “On Saturday morning, the news came in about his martyrdom and the entire family as well as the village received a rude shock,” he said.Before he joined BSF in 2008, Koli worked as a manual labourer to pay for his education till 12th standard and also to financially support the family. Recently, he had helped his brother to buy a van so that he could start a small business, a family member said.On Friday, Subhash sustained grievous injuries when the round blasted inside the chamber of his long-range weapon he was firing in retaliation to ceasefire violation from across the LoC. He was hit in the shoulder due to the recoil and was admitted to medical facility where he succumbed.Pakistani troops violated ceasefire in Machhil sector on Friday to provide cover to a column of infiltrating militants. One soldier of army and one militant was killed in the incident. The militants had mutilated the body of the slain soldier. Army has said “this act will invite an appropriate response”.

Narendra Modi spends third Diwali with soldiers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amidst the tension on the Indo-Pak border, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday used his monthly Mann ki Baat programme on All India Radio to dedicate Diwali to the Armed Forces.This didn’t deter the Opposition Congress from hurling accusations which the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) responded to. Each accused the other of lowering the morale of the Armed Forces.A day after Rahul Gandhi accused Modi of creating hurdles in the implementation of the One Rank, One Pension (OROP) scheme, the BJP asked the Congress Vice-President not to waste his time with something he is not concerned about.Retaliating the verbal fire, Congress Chief Spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjeewala said that, coupled with the OROP issue, settlement of anomalies in the Seventh Pay Commission and deliberate reduction of army ranks vis-a-vis their civilian counterparts continue to remain the reasons for dissatisfaction and outrage.Soon after his radio address, the Prime Minister left to celebrate Diwali with the Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel in Sumdo, over 270 km from Shimla. “Spent time with our courageous @ITBP_official and Army jawans at Sumdo, Kinnaur district, Himachal Pradesh. Jai Jawan! Jai Hind!” he tweeted. He also declared that he has “fulfilled the promise”, by first paying the installment of nearly Rs 5,500 crore for implementing OROP.Five months after assuming office in 2014, Modi had celebrated Diwali with Army officers and jawans at the Siachen Base Camp at a height of over 12,000 feet. In 2015, he gave company to troops at the Dograi War Memorial in Khasa in Amritsar on Diwali day. The venue is known for one of the toughest battles fought and won by Indian forces during the 1965 India-Pakistan war.Without mentioning the current unrest in Kashmir, the PM, in his radio address, said: “Unity in diversity is India’s strength and call upon every citizen and all governments to forge unity and curb separatist tendencies to save the country.” A major part of his speech was dedicated to soldiers. The PM said he was overwhelmed at the response to his #Sandesh2Soldiers campaign (a campaign in which he invited citizens to pen their thoughts, feelings, and sense of gratitude, towards our soldiers on Diwali).”Our forces endure grave hardships. Someone is stationed in a desert, someone on the Himalayas, someone is guarding our industrial installations and someone is protecting our airports. Everyone is fulfilling a mighty responsibility. If we remember them while being in a festive mood, our remembrance will give them strength and renewed energy. I thank everyone for responding to Sandesh2Soldiers,” Modi said in the address.As Modi paid tributes to Sardar Vallabhai Patel, whose birth anniversary falls on Monday, he also remembered Indira Gandhi, whose death anniversary also falls on the same day. He said that on a day we celebrate the birth anniversary of Patel, thousands of Sikhs were killed in 1984 in the wake of the assassination of Gandhi.Reiterating his message of cleanliness, he credited Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Gujarat and Haryana for making the campaign a success by working overtime to make their states free from open defecation. Modi highlighted the efforts and contribution of many individuals in helping construct toilets.They included an ITBP jawan in Himachal’s Sirmour district, who donated Rs 57,000 from his salary to construct toilets in his village and make it free from open defecation, and engineering students in Kerala who helped construct a toilet in Edamalakul.

OROP: PM Modi celebrates Diwali with jawans, says have resolved ’40 year’ old issue

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday Rs 5,500 crore has been paid for implementing the OROP scheme, an issue that has been hanging fire for the last 40 years, even as he lauded the valour and sacrifice of the armed forces amid tension on the border with Pakistan. Dedicating this Diwali to the armed forces personnel, he said he has “fulfilled the promise” he made to ex-servicemen on the one-rank-one-pension scheme.Modi said the issue had been pending for “40 years” as certain people in the previous governments “did not know” about OROP, and therefore “only Rs 500 crore was allocated” for the purpose. He also said many people thought that if the scheme was not implemented, a section of “ex-servicemen would turn against the government”.He made these remarks while celebrating Diwali with army and ITBP men in Sumdo in Himachal Pradesh’s Kinnaur district. “Spent time with our courageous @ITBP_official & Army Jawans at Sumdo, Kinnaur district, Himachal Pradesh. Jai Jawan! Jai Hind!,” he tweeted.Earlier, in his monthly “Mann ki Baat” programme on All India Radio, Modi asked the people and the state governments to find ways of forging unity across the country and work to defeat separatist tendencies and mentalities. He hailed the people including celebrities for sending overwhelming messages to his “Sandesh2Soldiers” campaign.In the wake of ongoing unrest in Kashmir Valley, he said, “Unity in diversity is our strength. It is the responsibility of every citizen and all governments to forge unity and curb separatist tendencies to save the country.” In an apparent reference to tension on the Indo-Pak border, Modi credited the soldiers for maintenance of peace and security in the country and called upon everyone to remember their gallantry while celebrating Diwali. “In the wake of recent events, our soldiers have been sacrificing their everything for the safety and security of the country. Their dedication and labour has overwhelmed me completely. Let us dedicate this Diwali to our armed forces.”I had invited everyone to participate in the Sandesh2Soldiers campaign and I have been humbled by the response. From students, villagers and traders to political leaders and sports persons, everyone has sent a Diwali message for our soldiers,” he said while referring to the jawans who are stationed in deserts and on the icy heights of the Himalayas and security personnel who are guarding our industries and airports.In a veiled reference to the unrest in Kashmir Valley, the Prime Minister also called for forces of unity to be strengthened and those of separatism to be defeated. “Unity in diversity is the strength of our country. Every citizen and every government must work to find ways of forging unity and defeating separatist mindset and tendencies,” he said as he remembered Sardar Patel who strived hard to forge unity in the country and bind it together.The Prime Minister, while on his way back from Sumdo, met civilians at Himachal’s Chango village, close to the Sino-Indian border. He exchanged greetings, interacted with the people there, and offered sweets to children.”Made unscheduled stop at Chango village, close to Somdu, to wish people on Diwali. Was deeply touched by the impromptu reception & their joy,” Modi tweeted.”The Prime Minister spent time with ITBP jawans and personnel of Dogra Scouts of army at Sumdo on border of Kinnaur and Spiti, and distributed sweets to them,” an official said.Modi also met personnel of the General Reserve Engineering Force (GREF), a branch of Border Roads Organisation (BRO), entrusted with construction and maintenance of border roads and also executing the Rohtang Tunnel project, the official said. After coming in power in 2014, the Prime Minister had celebrated his first Diwali with soldiers posted in Siachen, and in 2015, he celebrated it at the India-Pakistan border in Punjab.On the OROP issue Modi said, “The OROP was not about just Rs 200 crore or Rs 500 crore, but Rs 10,000 crore… After I became the PM, and decided that I had to do (implement) it, the entire government lost sleep over it… It was not possible for the government to pay in one go, so I requested the ex-servicemen to accept it in four instalments. The money will reach them in four installments. Nearly, Rs 5,500 crore has been paid as the first installment,” Modi said.He said implementation of OROP was his “dream”, which has been “fulfilled”. Rahul Gandhi had questioned the Modi government’s resolve to work for soldiers’ welfare on Saturday, asking the Prime Minister to first implement OROP in a meaningful way and redress their pay anomalies and other grievances.The Congress Vice President had written to Modi saying he was saddened at the decisions of the government taken in the last few weeks “which are far from reassuring the soldiers and has caused them pain instead”. Chief of Army Staff Gen. Dalbir Singh was present on the occasion.

Chennai: Air quality worse, noise level higher than limit on Diwali

Sun, 30 Oct 2016-11:20pm , Chennai , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Particulate matters in air quality and noise level in residential and commercial areas in Chennai this Diwali were higher than the limit prescribed by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).A study by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board said particulate matters in air quality in residential areas of Triplicane, Besant Nagar, Nungambakkam and Sowcarpet and commercial places like Thiagaraya Nagar on October 29 ranged from 102 to 178 micrograms, higher than CPCB’s prescribed limit of 100 micrograms to measure Ambient Air Quality. However, the presence of gaseous pollutants and nitrogen dioxide in these areas ranged between nine and 19 micrograms, well within the prescribed standard of 80 micrograms, it said.The noise level that day that moved between 72 db (decibels) and 88 db was much higher than the prescribed maximum limit of 55-65 db, it said.
ALSO READ Delhi’s air quality plunges to ‘severe’ categoryThe release also clarified that the air quality survey results of 2016 were found to be lesser than 2014. The results for 2015 could not be compared due to heavy rains last year, it said.

Amidst tensions, Diwali celebrated with religious fervour across Jammu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Diwali, the festival of lights symbolising the victory of good over evil, was celebrated with religious fervour and gaiety across Jammu region on Sunday. People were seen exchanging greetings and sweets and bursting fire crackers. A huge rush of shoppers was also witnessed across the region with people purchasing sweets and gift items.Elaborate security arrangements have been put in place across the region in the wake of the heightened tensions on the International Border and the Line of Control and the increase in infiltration attempts from across the border. “Elaborate security arrangements have been kept in place across the region, especially on the routes connecting the border areas with the city, to thwart the nefarious designs of anti-national elements,” a police officer said.A large number of people also went to border areas to celebrate the festival with soldiers guarding the frontiers in the region. Reports of Diwali celebrations also poured in from other districts of the region. Sixteen scientists, including four women scientists, from the Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (IIIM) also visited a BSF camp in Paloura here and celebrated Diwali with the personnel.The scientists visited to show solidarity and convey their best wishes on the occasion of Diwali to troops, a BSF spokesman said.

Bittter Diwali: No exchange of sweets by Indo-Pak jawans in Attari border amidst heightened tension

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a departure from the past, BSF did not exchange sweets and greetings with Pakistani Rangers at Indo-Pak Attari/Wagah border on Diwali with the move coming in the wake of the heightened tension between the two countries. The exchange of sweets on Diwali did not happen, a BSF official, without elaborating further, said.Both BSF and the Pakistani Rangers have in the past followed the tradition of exchanging sweets and gifts on national festivals like Diwali and Eid, as well as on the occasion of the Independence day functions of the two neighbouring countries.However, during the past 2-3 years, the border guarding forces on either side have not exchanged sweets on few occasions. This year, the BSF’s decision comes in the backdrop of the heightened tension between the two nations with growing incidents of ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops along the Line of Control (LoC) and International Border, especially after the Indian Army carried out surgical strikes targeting terror launch pads in PoK.

dna Evening Must Reads: PM Modi celebrates Diwali with Jawans, Earthquake strikes central Italy and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1) PM Modi celebrates Diwali with jawans, says Rs 5,500 crore paid as first OROP instalmentThe first instalment of nearly Rs 5,500 crore has been paid for implementing the OROP scheme, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said while asserting that he has “fulfilled the promise” he made to ex-servicemen on the issue that has been hanging fire for the last 40 years. The Prime Minister, while celebrating Diwali with army and ITBP personnel in Sumdo here, over 270 km from state capital Shimla, also lauded the role of the security force personnel guarding and protecting the country. Read more…2) Uttar Pradesh: 6 injured in stampede at Akhilesh Yadav’s Janata Durbar in SaifaiSix people including a Zila Panchayat head were on Sunday injured in a stampede at a Janata Durbar programme of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav at his ancestral village of Saifai.Additional SP Ram Kishan Yadav said a large crowd had gathered outside the PWD Guest House where the CM was holding the programme. Read more…3) Debutant Mehedi Hasan spins Bangladesh to first test win against EnglandTeenage sensation Mehedi Hasan took six wickets as Bangladesh secured their first ever test win over England with an 108-run victory on Sunday. England had won all previous nine matches against their South Asian rivals but were all out for 164 in their second innings while chasing 273 for victory on the third day of the second test at the Shere Bangla National Stadium. Read more…4) Martyred jawan Mandeep Singh’s last rites held with full state honoursThe last rites of army jawan Mandeep Singh, who was killed by terrorists in Macchil sector of Jammu and Kashmir, were held with full state honours on Sunday, even as his family and villagers demanded that Pakistan be given a befitting reply for its repeated misadventures. The jawan’s body, wrapped in the tricolour, was brought in a bedecked army vehicle to his native village here as a large number of people including from neighbouring areas paid their last respect. The martyr whose body was mutilated by the terrorists, was given a gun salute by the army, which sounded the last post. Mandeep’s father lit the funeral pyre. Read more…5) Earthquake of 6.6 magnitude strikes central ItalyAn earthquake measuring 6.6 magnitude struck central and southern Italy on Sunday. The seismic tremor was also felt in Rome. According to the US Geological Survey, the quake took place six kilometers north of Norci. The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre put the magnitude at 6.6 or 6.5 with an epicentre 132 kilometres northeast of Rome and 67 kilometres east of Perugia, near the epicentre of last week’s temblors. It struck at 7:40 am. Read more…

Uttar Pradesh: 6 injured in stampede at Akhilesh Yadav’s Janata Durbar in Saifai

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Six people including a Zila Panchayat head were on Sunday injured in a stampede at a Janata Durbar programme of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav at his ancestral village of Saifai here.Additional SP Ram Kishan Yadav said a large crowd had gathered outside the PWD Guest House where the CM was holding the programme.The main gate had to be closed to keep the crowd away. But when it was opened to allow a VIP car, people rushed inside causing the stampede, he said.Six people, including Kannauj Zila Panchayat head Santosh Yadav, were injured in the melee. One person suffered a head injury.Eyewitnesses said when the chief minister was meeting people and exchanging pleasantries with them, the crowd surged towards him and in the stampede-like situation some fell down and got hurt.Some mediapersons covering the event were also injured, police said. All the injured people were rushed to a hospital in Saifai, they said.This was Akhilesh Yadav’s first visit to Saifai after the recent Samajwadi Party family feud became public. As news of his arrival spread, thousands of people gathered at the venue to wish him on the festive occasion of Diwali.Police had a tough time trying to manage the crowd as the number of people who turned up at the event was far beyond their expectation.Akhilesh also interacted with people and listened to their woes before directing officers to take action. Akhilesh had driven down to his ancestral village Saifai to celebrate Diwali with his extended family.A large number of people greeted the CM along the 200 km route from Lucknow to Safai as he stopped at various places to meet them on the soon-to-be-inaugurated state-of-the-art Lucknow-Agra Expressway.

Why 8 villages in Erode have been observing a cracker free Diwali for the last 17 years

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>People in eight villages surrounding a bird sanctuary in the district are not bursting crackers during Diwali for the last 17 years as they fear that its loud sound might scare away the migratory birds.About 750 families live in the surrounding eight villages of Vellode bird sanctuary, established in 1996 in 80 hectares of land.They decided not to burst crackers for Diwali 17 years ago as they feared its loud sound may scare away thousands of birds arriving at the sanctuary during the September-December season.Birds from faraway places mainly from Australia and New Zealand will arrive at the sanctuary during the season, build their nests, lay eggs and leave with the young ones after two to three months.Chinnasamy Gounder, a 73 year-old villager, said they used to burst crackers years back. However, few years after the sanctuary was established, the villagers decided to stop bursting the crackers.Villagers near the sanctuary were very much concerned about the sanctuary and the birds coming there, he said.”Till two years back, even sparklers were not used in the village. But now some children are using them. However, crackers were still not used,” he said.

HP: PM Modi celebrates Diwali ITBP, Indian Army jawans in Kinnaur

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>PM Modi met jawans of the ITBP, Indian Army and Dogra Scouts on Sunday in Sumdo Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. He also made an unscheduled stop at Chango village, close to Somdu, to wish people on Diwali. “Everyone wants to spend Diwali with their loved ones, hence I am with you all,” said PM Modi. “When the earthquake took place in Gujarat, I was celebrated Diwali with families of victims. So don’t think I am doing this only because I am the PM,” he said.”The nation can sleep peacefully only since you are up and on vigil. If weren’t for you, we wouldn’t be able to catch sleep reassuredly,” said the PM.”Crores have lit diyas for the jawans. Film superstars, sports personalities, politicians, businessmen,farmers etc all had sent #Sandesh2Soldiers,” he added. “Whenever the armed forces had an opportunity to achieve something, they have always made us proud,” he said praising the soldiers. “In my very first public meeting after I was declared PM candidate, I invited ex-servicemen in Rewari, I promised OROP. I promised OROP when I was PM candidate and unfortunately those in power at that time did not even know what exactly it was,” said PM Modi.PM Modi offers sweets to ITBP, Indian Army and Dogra Scouts personnel in Sumdo, Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh

United Nations headquarters lights up for Diwali for the first time

United Nations: Diwali was commemorated for the first time at the United Nations, with the world body’s imposing headquarters lit up especially on the occasion of the Indian festival of lights.

The facade of the UN headquarters was lit in bright hues and the words ‘Happy Diwali’, along with the image of a traditional ‘diya’, projected onto the building.

“Lighting up. @UN lights up for #Diwali for 1st time,” India’s Ambassador to the UN Syed Akbaruddin tweeted.

“Happy Diwali! @UN celebrates Diwali for 1st time. Thank you @UN_PGA for this initiative,” Akbaruddin said in another tweet, thanking General Assembly President Peter Thomson for the initiative.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

He also tweeted a picture of passers-by clicking photographs of the building as well as being themselves clicked against the illuminated UN headquarters in the background.

Thomson also tweeted a picture of the UN building lit up in bright blue for Diwali and said “Light over darkness, hope over despair, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil – the UN lights up. Happy Diwali!”

The UN Secretariat building will be lit up for Diwali from 29-31 October.

It is for the first time that the Indian festival of lights is celebrated at the world body after the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in December, 2014 that acknowledged the “significance of Diwali”.

Noting that the festival is observed in many UN member states, the resolution had called on UN bodies to avoid holding meetings on Diwali, declaring it a no-meeting day.

From 2016 onwards, Diwali was made an optional holiday for the UN, India’s Permanent Mission to the world body said in a special video message.

Earlier in June, the UN building was lit up on the occasion of the International Yoga Day, with images of Yoga postures projected on the imposing headquarters.

Narendra Modi on Mann ki Baat: Dedicate this Diwali to our jawans for their courage and sacrifice

Amid tension on the border with Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday saluted the valour of the armed forces and lauded their sacrifice while dedicating the festival of Diwali to them.

“From last few months our jawans (soldiers) are sacrificing their lives, we should celebrate this Diwali in their name,” Modi said while speaking on Mann Ki Baat, his monthly radio address.

Modi also applauded Indian soldiers for their undying love and sacrifice for the country and said that this Diwali dedicated to them.

“Every citizen of the country is proud of our soldiers,” he said.

He hailed the people, including celebrities for sending overwhelming messages to his “#Sandesh2Soldiers” campaign.

PM Modi celebrates Diwali with jawans in Sumdo, Himachal Pradesh. PTI

PM Modi celebrates Diwali with jawans in Sumdo, Himachal Pradesh. PTI

“People from walks of life sent messages of love and encouragement for our jawans (soldiers), just as they light candles for their well-being,’ he added.

“Our forces endure grave hardships for our security. Someone is stationed in a desert, someone on the Himalayas, someone is guarding our industrial installations and someone is protecting our airports. Everyone is fulfilling a mighty responsibility. If we remember them while being in a festive mood, our remembrance will give them strength and renewed energy. I thank everyone for responding to Sandesh2Soldiers,” Modi said in over half-an-hour address on the occasion of
Diwali.

Modi also urged all citizens and state governments to find ways of forging unity across the country and working to defeat separatist tendencies and mentalities.

In the wake of ongoing troubles in the Kashmir Valley, he said, “Unity in diversity is our strength. It is the responsibility of every citizen and all governments to forge unity and curb separatist tendencies to save the country.”

In an apparent reference to tension on the Indo-Pak border, Modi credited the soldiers for maintenance of peace and security in the country and called upon everyone to remember their gallantry while celebrating Diwali.

“In the wake of recent events, our soldiers have been sacrificing their everything for the safety and security of the country. Their dedication and labour has overwhelmed me completely. Let us dedicate this Diwali to our armed forces.

“I had invited everyone to participate in the Sandesh2Soldiers campaign and I have been humbled by the response. From students, villagers and traders to political leaders and sports persons , everyone has sent a Diwali message for our soldiers,” he said while referring to the jawans who are stationed in deserts and on the icy heights of the Himalayas and security personnel who are guarding our industries and airports.

Recognising the works of the Armed forces, Modi said, “Be it BSF (Border Security Force), CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force), Assam Rifles, ITBP (Indo Tibetan Border Police), Navy, Air Force, our jawans are on duty and guarding us. That is why we are celebrating Diwali joyfully,” the Prime Minister said.

Modi also said that when we remember our soldiers on festivals we give a message that we are with them.

More than 10 lakh messages have arrived for soldiers from across the nation.

Modi also urged people to mark Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s birth anniversary and remembered the anti-Sikh riots of 1984.

“Tomorrow we are celebrating Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s birth anniversary. He worked to bring everyone together, he worked for unity, fought for unity and brought unity amongst people and we all must remember it,” Modi said.

Modi also said, “History remembers how Sikh people and ‘sardars’ all over the country faced violence and pain” after 31 October when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated.

Remembering Sardar Patel’s contribution, Modi said: “He gave us a united India and to keep it united is our responsibility.”

“Sardar Patel has a rich contribution in strengthening the cooperative movement in India. He was always dedicated to farmer welfare,” Modi added.

Speaking on Guru Nanak’s teachings, Modi said they are the guiding principles not only for Indians but for the entire humanity. The PM recalled how Guru Nanak’s life and teachings hold a message for people even today.

“Kartik Purnima is celebrated as the Prakash Parv or birthday of Guru Nanak Devji. His teachings are the guiding principles not only for Indians but for the entire humanity.

“Principle of service, truthfulness and welfare of all are the core of his teachings,” he added.

“Peace, unity and tolerance is the basic principle. To free the society of discrimination, blind faith and other evils was the campaign of Guru Nanak’s life.

“At the time when casteism and untouchability were at its peak, Guru Nanak Dev chose Bhai Lalo as his companion,” Modi added.

Bhai Lalo was a carpenter by profession and Guru Nanak chose food from his house over food from a rich government official.

Drawing a parallel between Guru Nanak’s teachings and his government’s motto, Modi said: “Guru Nanak Dev’s teachings inspire us to shun discrimination of all kind. ‘Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas’ is the way forward and no one can be a better guide than Guru Nanak Dev.”

With inputs from agencies

Amit Shah holds meetings with Gujarat MLAs

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On the second day of his Gujarat visit, BJP president Amit Shah held separate meetings with several BJP leaders and MLAs as well as Union Minister Piyush Goyal.The Minister of State for Power arrived at Shah’s residence in the morning and their meeting lasted for almost one and half hours, said BJP sources. Later, Goyal also met Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani at his residence to take stock of progress in the implementation of LED scheme in the Gujarat, officials said.Meanwhile, several BJP leaders and local MLAs, including Babubhai Patel and Bhushan Bhatt from here, met Shah at his residence during the day. Shah, who arrived here on late Thursday night, is expected to stay here till Diwali. His meetings with various party leaders is seen as BJP’s exercise to gear up ahead of state Assembly elections, due next year.

Human rights of Indian soldiers should take precedence over the rights of terrorists: Jitendra Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asserting that the human rights of an Army soldier are supreme, Union Minister Jitendra Singh on Saturday said an Indian soldier’s rights should take precedence over those of terrorists.He said a militant forfeits his entitlement to human rights the day he engages in terrorism which is the biggest violation of human rights. “Human rights of an Army soldier are supreme…The human rights of Indian soldiers should take precedence over the rights of terrorists,” he said. Singh, who arrived in Jammu this morning, drove straight to International Border, saying he would like to begin his visit by meeting the security personnel posted at the border and greeting them on Diwali eve.He addressed a public meeting organised by Seema Jan Kalyan Samiti, comprising ex-servicemen, their families and local residents. He said people find Army a convenient, soft target as it is trained to exercise restraint but they do not have courage to call a terrorist a terrorist or to condemn the atrocious act of mutilating a soldier’s body. He said a terrorist, who is not constrained to follow any rule of law, will immediately retaliate and put their life at risk.Singh said it is high time the nation rose to call the bluff of the so called ‘human rights protagonists and the pseudo-intellectuals’ who seek to promote their politics at the cost of army jawans. He said when you ask them a straight question on whether Burhan Wani was a terrorist or not, instead of saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’, they come out with long platitudes, philosophies and postulations. Those who lack the courage of conviction to call a spade a spade, have no right to point a finger at an armed forces jawan because of whom they are in a position to conveniently sit in their drawing rooms and issue “lofty” statements, he added.Stressing that this year’s Diwali was dedicated to the army and para-military forces, Singh said we are able to celebrate the festival in the country, because of the young soldiers who are guarding the border day and night and spending sleepless nights. It is a sin to say or do anything that would directly or indirectly compromise the morale of armed forces, he added.Singh said for the first time since Independence, a project has been undertaken to build 1140 Sulabh toilets in the border villages, out of which 150 have already been completed and added that construction of bunkers along the border areas has also been started. The Union Minister claimed that the critics had never even once lauded the Narendra Modi government for enhancing the compensation of the civilian victims of cross-border firing, putting it at par with that of terrorism victims.About the allotment of 5 marlas of land to each family along the border, Singh said this issue is still under consideration.

Darjeeling college launches FM radio with 20 programmes in Nepali language

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>To provide a platform for communities to tell their own stories, a college in Darjeeling has launched a full-fledged FM radio with 20 programmes in Nepali language.Run by the Salesian College in Sonada, Radio Salesian 90.8 FM is a non-profit venture which enables individuals, groups and communities to become creators and contributors of content that tells their own stories and sharing experiences. Launched on Friday, the FM radio will soon be accessible on computer or mobile phone through the college website www.salesiancollege.in.”It is our Diwali gift to Nepali people worldwide,” said Principal Dr George Thadathil speaking of the possibility of on-demand radio service for people everywhere to access programme of their choice at their own convenience. “Our Community Radio will serve geographic and ethnic communities of the region with broadcast content that is popular, relevant and often overlooked by commercial or mass-media broadcasters,” he said. A team of six RJs host around 20 shows a week, seven days a week and daily 12 hours.

Slain Colonel Mahadik’s buddies ensure sweet Diwali for unit jawans

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Classmates of an Army officer from Maharashtra, who laid down his life battling militants near the Line of Control (LoC) in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district last year, have sent 400 packets of sweets to soldiers in his unit.Col Santosh Mahadik, the Commanding Officer of 41 Rashtriya Rifles, was critically injured during the operation in the Haji Naka forest area of Kupwara near the LoC in Kashmir in November and succumbed to his injuries at a hospital later. “The mithai boxes, weighing just over 300 kg, landed at Srinagar airport and are being sent to the 41 Rashtriya Rifles, for distribution among the soldiers the martyr once commanded,” a classmate of Mahadik, involved in this initiative, said. Col Mahadik was a student of Sainik School, Satara. “This Diwali, we thought of his comrades in arms, who suffer harsh climes and the enemy from across the border, as well as some within. We thought this would be a nice gesture for soldiers, who spend Diwali away from their families,” he said.An officer from the elite 21 Para-Special Forces unit, Col Mahadik was awarded a Sena Medal for gallantry during Operation Rhino in the North-East in 2003. Mahadik’s wife Swati last month joined the Officers Training Academy (OTA) in Chennai as part of the SSCW (Non-tech) course for 11 months’ training before she joins the Army as a lieutenant. An ace football goalkeeper, a skilled horse-rider and a passionate boxer, Mahadik was an all-rounder, his friends recall.Despite the inhospitable terrain that made the Kupwara operation immensely challenging, the colonel particularly chose to lead his battalion.

DNA Morning Must Reads: Terrorists mutilate body of soldier in Kupwara; Pak violates ceasefire again; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. J&K: Pakistan violates ceasefire in Kupwara; terrorists mutilate body of Indian soldierOne terrorist was also killed in the gunbattle, army said. Read more.2. Pakistan violates ceasefire in Kathua sector of J&K; BSF retaliatesThe latest violation comes in the wake of a “barbaric” incident in which terrorists crossed the LoC and killed an Indian army jawan. Read more.3. Hillary Clinton presidential campaign hit by FBI email probe 11 days before electionFBI Director James Comey said in a letter to several congressional Republicans that the agency had learned of the existence of emails that appeared to be pertinent to its investigation. Read more.4. Cyrus Mistry denies Tata Group’s claim on Welspun BuySacked chairman Cyrus Mistry denied the group’s claim that the board was not properly consulted on Tata Power’s buy of Welspun Power. Read more.5. Aamir Khan’s double Diwali bashOne party to bring in festive season and the other to celebrate response to Dangal trailer. Read more.

Air purifiers, mist fountain to curb air pollution in Delhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a first, Delhi government on Friday announced a three-tier air treatment system which includes setting up of wind purification units, mist fountains and virtual chimney at five major traffic intersections on trial basis to deal with rising air pollution in city. The air treatment system has potential to reduce carbon monoxide and particulate emission by 40%-60% emission in 20-30 m radius during peak hours of traffic, Government sources claimed.Delhi Minister Satyendar Jain, who is also the head of Delhi Task Force formed to formulate policy to curb air pollution, said the government in collaboration with National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and IIT (Bombay) set up the entire system within 45 days. He said that air purifiers will be installed at five major traffic intersections – Anand Vihar, ITO, Sarai Kalen Khan, Kashmere Gate and IIT (Delhi) or AIIMS.Besides, government will also install a mist fountain at one traffic intersection which is yet to identified as a pilot project to curb air pollution. This is for the first time that the city administration has taken such steps to bring down rising air pollution in the city. The announcement comes after Jain held a meeting with NEERI Director Rakesh Kumar. IIT (Bombay) has also been engaged by NEERI for design and solutions.Pollutant-loaded air continued to hang heavy in the national capital ahead of Diwali, when pollution is likely to peak, prompting authorities to urge residents to refrain from bursting firecrackers which they said emit cancer-causing smoke.”We also plan to install a mist fountain at one intersection. We can bring down PM 2.5 and PM 10 in the air by using mist fountain,” Jain said. He said that in Pune, air purifiers have been installed where there have been good results and they can be set up at the central verge of the roads.”Air treatment system will in place one-and-a-half months. The system will help bring down air pollution in Delhi in winter months as pollution is at its peak in December and January,” said a senior government official.The minister has appealed the residents of Delhi not to burst firecrackers in Delhi to make the city’s air clean.Nearly all the monitoring stations active in the city, cutting across agencies, had PM 2.5 and PM 10 (ultrafine pollutants) several times above the safe limit of 60 and 100 micrograms per cubic metre, keeping the air in the very poor category. For the second consecutive day, pollutants (PM 10) in Anand Vihar shot up nine times above the safe limit when checked in real-time around 12 PM as per the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC).Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) Punjabi Bagh, RK Puram stations had AQI in the severe category which affects healthy people and seriously impacts those with existing diseases.

Gold dazzles on Dhanteras as sales go up by 25%; demand for coins surge

Dhanteras, the auspicious day today (Friday) to buy precious metals in the form of jewellery and coins has spiked consumer interest and they have been buying jewellery and silver utensils since morning.

It is still too early to say how much the demand will increase but so far the sentiment has been good with increase in footfalls and also increase in sales.

Gold prices tumbled after a month of steady run at Rs 31,000 mark to Rs 30,020 per 10 grams in the beginning of the month and since them consumer sentiment has been buoyed up.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

Somasundaram PR, Managing Director, India, World Gold Council said that the festival has been good for the trade. “It appears that, as was widely expected, this Dhanteras has ushered in a new phase of optimism around gold, particularly after an unusually difficult first half. Consumers who have been deferring gold purchases are back and the demand for gold jewellery and branded coins seems to be much better than the previous year’s Dhanteras and Diwali festival.”

He reasons that good monsoons as experienced in all parts of the country coupled with a softening of gold prices have improved the sentiment. Somasundaran was optimistic about the upcoming wedding season which he said would be promising for the trade and consumers alike.

Retail trade is gung-ho about their prospects after seeing a rush in footfall since the morning of Dhanteras. They are expecting sales to continue through to Sunday when office-goers get their holidays for the season and step out with families to buy gold.

Vijay Jain, CEO, Orra Fine Jewellery which has 32 stores across India says that sales have seen a much better demand in the northern markets after a sluggish growth in the past four years. Gold coins have been in high demand especially 1 gm coins at Rs 3,000, 5 gm at Rs 15,000 and 10 gms at Rs 30,000. “We outsold our stock within a few hours of opening the store across the country,” said Jain.

Kishor Narne, Head of Commodities & Currencies, Motilal Oswal Commodities, said that the bullion traders were bullish on gold and are not surprised that demand has been good at the beginning of this season. Prices have been upbeat in the last 3-4 months and with a price correction in the last 15 days timed at the festive season, demand for the precious commodity has gone up.

Some stores have seen increased demand on the back of schemes and freebies that they offer customers. Ghanasingh Jewellers, which has two stores in the country – Bandra, Mumbai and Hyderabad said that they have seen a 20 percent rise in footfalls through the day so far (6 pm) compared to the previous year. What has attracted customers is the 50 percent discount on making charges and assured gift on every purchase. “We have seen a lot of demand for gold jewellery of 10 gms at a price of Rs 30,250 and also small ticket purchases of gold rings and earrings costing between Rs 5,000 to Rs 25,000,” said Krishaa Ghanasingh, Director, Ghansasing Be True.

Asher O, Managing Director (India Operations) – Malabar Gold & Diamonds, said that though the demand for the precious metal was subdued till September, but after that demand has picked up during festive occasion and we are expecting many customers for Diwali. “Compared to last year’s Diwali festival, we are expecting a 20 percent to 25 percent increase in sales during the celebrations,”.

According to jewellers and MMTC-PAMP India, gold demand has picked up in the wake of good monsoon and favourable price levels. There was positive response and more footfalls. There was robust demand for gold and silver coins as also bars this time as prices are at favourable levels. People are buying for investment purpose. We expect 15-20 percent increase in sales from over the last year,” MMTC-PAMP India President (Marketing) Vipin Raina told PTI.

But more sales are expected in the later part of the day, with office-goers in big cities coming in for buying late in the evening, he added.

Gold prices are ruling at Rs 30,590 per 10 grams in the national capital, about 16.6 percent higher than Rs 26,230 on Dhanteras day in 2015. Silver traded at Rs 42,700 per kg as compared with Rs 35,410 per kg last year.

Echoing his point, Kalyan Jewellers Executive Director Ramesh Kalyanaraman said, “The advance booking for jewellery is up by 20-25 percent compared to last year. The update on sales figures will be known in the evening.”

“Prices are lower when compared to last two months. Prices are more or less stable now and also demand has revived in view of the good monsoon,” he said.

P C Jewellers MD Balram Garg said, “We are expecting 20 percent jump in volume and 30 percent in value terms as prices have gone up in the last one year.”

The country’s gold demand had fallen 30 percent to 247.4 tonnes during the first six months of 2016, from 351.5 tonnes in the year-ago period, as per WGC.

India is the world’s largest gold consumer and imports a sizeable chunk of its total annual consumption of around 900-1,000 tonnes.

All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation former chairman Manish Jain said, “There is good response in most parts of the country. About 20-25 percent increase in sales is expected at the end of the day.”

Jewelsify.com founder Hardik Kapoor said the company expects triple-digit growth rate this time compared to last Dhanteras.

There has been a drastic rise in diamond jewellery sale and customer’s preference has shifted from gold bars to diamond jewellery, he added.

Stating that there is revival of gold demand, Lucknow-based Lala Jugal Kishore Jewellers Director Tanya Rastogi said, “The recent drop in gold prices has triggered sales among watchful buyers. Footfalls have been good.”

Mumbai-based Manubhai Jewellers Director Samir Sagar said, “We are excited about the festive rush and are expecting an above-average footfall at our store, with a healthy 25-30% jump in sales of gold jewellery compared to last year.”

Anmol Founder Ishu Datwani is expecting demand build-up for both gold and diamond jewellery since gold prices have gone down. “We are expecting at least 20-25 percent increase in sales this Diwali,” Datwani said.

Waman Hari Pethe Jewellers Director Aditya Pethe, said, “This is our first year on e-commerce, and we have noticed a rise in sale on our online store too during this season where light-weight jewellery like pendants, earrings and rings have been popular.”

Narne of Motilal Oswal Commodities expects a 15 to 20 percent rise in prices despite lack of global appetite. Prices would go up 15 percent to Rs 34,000 for 10 gms by next year, he said.

Diwali bonus: Surat billionaire gives 400 flats, 1200 cars with EMIs to employees

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Surat billionaire Savji Dholakia has made headlines yet again. This time for his generous Diwali gifts.IANS reports that Dholakia’s firm Hare Krishna Exports has given out four hundred flats and 1,260 cars to the best performing employees, albeit with EMIs.The diamond merchant told IANS, “We have selected 1,716 employees as the best performers this year. We are arranging houses for those who already have cars, while those who don’t have a four-wheeler will get one.”
ALSO READ There was a time when I lived on a plate of sambar rice a day: son of Surat billionaire sent to work in KeralaEmployees getting flats will be allotted 1,100 sq ft in the company’s housing scheme. Dholakia said the flats would be available ‘dirt cheap’ at a cost of Rs 15 lakh. While employees will have to pay for the most part of EMI, the company’s contribution will be Rs 5,000 for five years. Employees will have to pay an EMI of Rs 11,000 after the five years. Dholakia’s firm has been giving rich bonuses to the staff. The company had distributed 491 cars and 200 flats among his employees in 2014. It had spent Rs 50 crore on performance incentives, said Dholakia.

dna Morning Must Reads: Cyrus Mistry hits back at Ratan Tata, Yadav family feud explained and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ratan Tata at root of all problems: Cyrus Mistry hits back after ousterCyrus Mistry, the former Chairman of Tata Sons, who was sacked on Monday, has taken the battle to the Bombay House, the headquarters of the salt-to-software conglomerate in South Mumbai, and hit where it hurts the most. Read detailsJ&K: Six civilians injured in mortar shelling by Pakistani troops in RS Pura sectorAt least six civilians were injured in mortar shelling by Pakistani troops along International Border in RS Pura sector of Jammu and Kashmir, on Thursday morning. Read moreStrong twin quakes rattle central Italy, crumbling buildings and causing panicTwin earthquakes rocked central Italy on Wednesday — the second registering at a magnitude of 6.1 — in the same region struck in August by a devastating tremor that killed nearly 300 people. Read moreExplained: The Yadav PariWarWhen Samajwadi Party General Secretary Amar Singh was expelled seven years ago, Uttar Pradesh strongman Mulayam Singh Yadav had been convinced that Singh wanted to wrest control of the party from old socialist loyalists and his trusted family members. It was then that Ram Gopal Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav and other party loyalists who ensured that Singh was shown the door. Read DNA’s in-depth reportAmazon, Flipkart face action for violating packaging norms; Legal Metrology seizes goods worth over Rs 80 lakhThis Diwali, e-commerce companies have lined up bonanza offers and lucrative deals for purchases made from their platforms. However, some of these e-commerce platforms are not meeting the norms put up by the Legal Metrology Organisation (LMO). Read more

Decision on India’s NSG bid to be taken soon: New Zealand PM John Key

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India and New Zealand agreed on Wednesday to strengthen ties in key areas of trade, defence and security during talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Kiwi counterpart John Key, who also assured that his country will contribute “constructively” to the process currently underway in the NSG to consider India’s membership.After the “productive” talks between the two Prime Ministers, the two sides inked three pacts including one pertaining to Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income and decided to establish Foreign Minister-level dialogue as well as exchanges on cyber issues. Asserting that they had detailed and productive discussions on all aspects of the bilateral engagement and multilateral cooperation, Modi at a joint media event with Key said, “I am thankful to Prime Minister Key for New Zealand’s constructive approach to the consideration of India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).”There was no clear word of support on India’s entry into 48-nation NSG from the visiting leader, who only said, “New Zealand would continue to contribute constructively to the process currently underway in the NSG to consider India’s membership.” Noting that they had a “detailed” discussion on India’s NSG bid, Key also said, “New Zealand is committed to working with NSG members to reach a decision as soon as possible.” New Zealand acknowledged the “importance to India of it joining the NSG”, a joint statement issued after the talks said, adding that India stressed that this would provide the predictability necessary for meeting India’s clean energy goals in the context of the Paris agreements.New Zealand was one of the countries that took the stand at the last NSG plenary in South Korea in June that no exception can be made in the case of India, a non-NPT country, while considering its membership bid of the elite group that regulates trade in nuclear material. At the plenary, despite strong US support, China had blocked India’s bid on the ground that it was a not a signatory to the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty (NPT).On security and counter-terrorism ties, Modi said they have agreed to strengthen security and intelligence cooperation against terrorism and radicalisation, including in the domain of cyber security. According to the joint statement, the two Prime Ministers agreed to enhance cooperation, bilaterally as well as in the framework of UN and especially in 1267 Committee, to combat the full spectrum of terrorist threats in all their forms and manifestations.”They called for eliminating terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupting terrorist networks and their financing, and stopping cross-border terrorism. Both sides called for the early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism that would contribute to the further strengthening of the international counter-terrorism legal framework,” it added. Asserting that trade and investment ties were one of the key areas during the talks, Modi said they recognised the need for greater economic engagement in order to effectively respond to the growing uncertainties in the global economy. It was agreed that expanding business and commercial ties should continue to be one of the priority items of the partnership, he said, adding that the large business delegation accompanying Prime MinisterKey will witness firsthand the investment opportunities on offer in India’s growth story. Identifying food processing, dairy and agriculture, and related areas in their supply chain as some of the areas of particular potential for bilateral cooperation, Modi said New Zealand’s strength and capacity in these sectors can combine with India’s vast technology needs to build partnerships that can benefit both the societies. “We also agreed that actions by both governments should also promote greater business connectivity, including through movement of skilled professionals, between our two economies and societies. “In this regard, we have agreed to continue to work closely towards an early conclusion of a balanced and mutually beneficial Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement,” he said.He further added that along side extensive bilateral engagement, the bilateral cooperation also extends to the global arena. On regional issues, the two sides have agreed to enhance cooperation, including in the East Asia Summit process. Noting that reform of international governance institutions is a shared priority for both of them, Modi said, “We are thankful for New Zealand’s support to India joining a reformed UN Security Council as a permanent member. “As we make our own contribution to the developmental efforts of the Pacific Island countries, we will continue to consult closely with New Zealand to complement and supplement each other’s efforts.”Modi also said it was a particular pleasure to receive Prime Minister Key in India during the festive season given that it was now a regular feature for the New Zealand Parliament to celebrate the festival of Diwali and, Key has also participated in several of these festivities.

AIR launches new programme to send greetings to soldiers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Public broadcaster All India Radio (AIR) on Monday started a new programme through which people from all walks of life can send their wishes and greetings to soldiers guarding the borders. In a statement, AIR said that it has started a daily programme for #Sandesh2Soldiers on FM Rainbow and FM Gold channels. It is being aired twice daily and will be aired till October 30.”This programme is based on Prime Narendra Modi’s clarion call to send Diwali greetings to the soldiers and make them realise how important bhartiya jawans are for us. This is an endeavour to salute their bravery and pay respect to their devotion towards the country’s security and honour,” the AIR said in a statement.Those who wish to send their wishes to the army can also write message on postcards and send it, the broadcaster said.

Shiv Sena-GSM alliance won’t impact BJP’s Goa prospects: Sadanand Tanawade

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP is unfazed by Shiv Sena’s alliance with the rebel RSS leader Subhash Velingkar-led Goa Suraksha Manch for the upcoming Goa Assembly polls and says that it will hardly have any effect on the ruling party’s winning prospects in the state. “There will be no impact of Shiv Sena and GSM aligning in the forthcoming Goa polls,” state BJP General Secretary Sadanand Tanawade on Tuesday.He said the BJP vote base is intact and has been increasing due to the developmental works of the state government. “We need not fear. Our organisation is strong. The voters are with us. We will form the next government,” Tanawade said.Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackarey had announced last weekend that his party in-principle has agreed to align with Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM). Thackarey, during his two day visit to Goa, even held a meeting with Velingkar. Sena has already submitted a formal proposal to GSM wherein the saffron party wants to contest on 20 out of the 40 Assembly seats.The formal discussion on seat sharing will be held after Diwali. Elections for the state Legislative Assembly are due before March next year.

A not so ‘Happy Diwali’ for owls in Delhi!

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With Diwali around the corner, people in the city are busy buying sweets, gifts, but some are also making beelines for owls. The illegal trade is thriving at Delhi’s Kabootar Bazaar’ in Chandni chowk, a ground investigation by DNA revealed.Based on a centuries-old tradition, owls make way to the Indian bird markets during Diwali to be slaughtered to make the goddess happy. Some believe that sacrificing this nocturnal bird, which is the ‘vaahan’ of Goddess Lakshmi, known to be the goddess of wealth and prosperity, makes her stay for an entire year.All the 32 species of Indian owls are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Under the Act, any killing or trading of owls is strictly prohibited and has serious risks/penalties. The bird has a varied reputation across cultures — some believe that they bring wealth and prosperity as it is associated with Goddess Lakshmi. In some cultures, it is considered to bring bad omen as well.Rameshwar Yadav, a doctor at the charity bird hospital run by the Digambar Jain community, located merely 500 metres away from the Kabootar Bazar, says that the wounded owls are often brought for medical aid. “Ahead of Diwali, the numbers go up. Three or four owls are brought every week. We hand them over to the wildlife department after treatment,”he said.After passing a few bird shops in the dingy lanes of Kabootar Bazaar, there is a shop where a young bearded man speaks about the owl trade. He confidently reveals,”Owls bring good fortune to people (and bad luck to their rivals) and thus amulets made of owl bones or nails are very high in demand in the market. I can get one to show you, but you will have to shell some big money for the trader as they come from outside the city.”On being probed, he confirmed the price, a small owl costs anywhere between Rs 4,000-7,000 and the price of a bigger one would land between Rs 11,000-14,000.Despite full awareness of the consequences, the traders are not discouraged to deal in the bird, especially during Diwali time. While every bird seller seemed reluctant to speak about it, he admitted, that they are being sold, but he doesn’t know who sells them.After further inquiry, one of the shopkeepers confirmed that this is the peak season of owl selling and if paid in advance, he can show us one.Traders from outside Delhi, mainly Kanpur, Lucknow, Meerut and parts of Uttarakhand (Nainital and Haldwani) come to this market to deal in Owls. Since ‘forest owl’ is the highest in demand, it fears the most threat. Abrar Ahmed, an ornithologist, in his report on this topic for the wildlife protection organisation TRAFFIC and WWF India in 2010, writes that there are probably at least 50 active wild-bird selling points/localities in India. Twenty-one of these are major bird markets with an estimated annual turnover of between 20,000 and 50,000 wild birds, including a trade in owls.In 2006, a case widely reported in the media stated that an owl weighing 3 kg was allegedly sold for Rs 3 million. Four wealthy people, assisted by a claim to be from Ahmedabad (Gujarat), visited well-known bird markets in northern and eastern India seeking a large owl. It is unclear how the weight of an owl is related to its magical properties, even amongst black magic practitioners, although one in Delhi suggested that the heavier the owl, the older and therefore wiser it was.

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil row: Karan Johar, MNS or Devendra Fadnavis, the real winner will emerge after film release

Who won?

Karan Johar, who now got the approval to screen his Diwali release Ae Dil Hai Mushkil on 28 October? No, he had to pay a price, along with other Bollywood producers, for agreeing to not cast any Pakistani artiste in their productions henceforth. It was rather a step down for Bollywood which saw art without boundaries.

Is it Raj Thackeray’s victory? Does not seem so at all. His party’s cine cell chief’s threat of “we’ll beat up” such filmmakers has lost its purpose. His party has settled to a claim that the producer has agreed to credit Rs 5 crore to the Army Relief Fund.

The move appears to be some sort of penitence to secure some reprieve. But Raj Thackeray only gained one thing: That his party believed in muscle, and has earned a stamp of being an ‘extortionist’ party. But it does not matter to the MNS. It ploughs its furrow its way.

Poster of Karan Johar film 'Ae Dil Hai Mushkil'.

Poster of Karan Johar film ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’.

Devendra Fadanavis? He will be seen as a person who negotiates with those who threaten than deal with the threat-issuers. A threat, so blatant, so brazen, cannot be taken as one of those statements that political parties issue now and then and that the media print and government watches.

The real test of the outcome is ahead, on and after 28 October. Now that the film has been ‘allowed’ to be screened, would the MNS cadre, and others who dislike Pakistani actors, musicians and cricketers in India, go watch it in multiplexes? After all, their conscience has been cleared – some atonement has come from the guilty.

This time, the producers and actors did not promote the film by generating a controversy or taking the crew to hop TV studios. This time, the controversy has been imposed upon the movie. Those who believe that it is wrong to curb artistic sensibilities by banning Pakistani artistes crowd the multiplexes, but there is still a question mark on its success.

At least, the success measured by box office returns. Kitna crore kiya hai is the measure of a movie’s success. However, with the single-screen theatres remaining firm on not screening them really cuts the number of seats that could be sold to the audience.

This segment fears vandalism, but speaks of “sentiments” of the people. They speak of the “prevailing public sentiment” against Pakistan and in guarded whispers, they talk about the fears of damage to their properties. It can be a matter of abundant caution or an apprehension that the hotheads of the confrontational party cadre can still pose risks. Moreover, the MNS is not the only party that wears its ‘patriotism’ or ‘nationalism’ on its sleeves. Lot of imponderables are there.

The attendance at the multiplexes will also be a test of the depth of public opinion on the issue of casting Pakistani artistes in Indian movies. But public mood can play havoc with businesses and movies in India. Art is a claim in most cases.

Meanwhile, after the Uri terror attack and the surgical strikes along the Line of Control, China’s refusal to help get terrorists in Pakistan on the UN list have led to a call for boycott of Chinese goods with regard to Diwali related items on social media. There has been a precipitous drop in their sales. Jaipur has reported 40 percent decline, even though the alternative was relatively expensive. Delhi, likewise.

We will know where we stand on or after 28 October.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj meets deaf-mute girl Geeta

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday met Geeta, the speech and hearing impaired girl, who crossed over to Pakistan several years ago and returned to India in October 2015. The girl, is staying at an institute for hearing and speech impaired persons since her returning.Swaraj and Geeta spent nearly 45 minutes together in a hotel and exchanged gifts ahead of Diwali, the institute’s director Monika Punjabi Verma said.During the meeting, Swaraj hinted that Geeta would be helped to undertake the journey to search for her parents in places which she had indicated by sign language, she said. The minister did not disclose whether Geeta would be taken to those places by train or by other mode of transport, Verma said.There was a move to help Geeta to undertake rail journey to different places to search for her parents in June but possibly due to rainy season, the plan could not materialise, she said.Earlier, several couples had come forward claiming to be Geeta’s parents, but she did not recognise any of them and could not substantiate their claims. Geeta claims she knew the place where she was separated from her parents years ago. She is now learning Hindi, English and arithmetic.Sushma had met Geeta last December and assured her that the Centre is making every effort to trace her parents. Geeta was 7 or 8-years-old when she was found sitting alone in the Samjhauta Express at Lahore station by Pakistan Rangers 15 years ago. She was then adopted by Bilquis Edhi of Edhi Foundations. Her story came to light after the release of Salman Khan- starrer “Bajrangi Bhaijaan”, in which the character essayed by Salman reunites a Pakistani girl with her mother.

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil to release on schedule, MNS calls off protest after meeting CM, Mukesh Bhatt

Film and Television Producers Guild of India president Mukesh Bhatt and filmmaker Karan Johar met Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray on Saturday regarding the release of the film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil.

After the meeting, Bhatt announced that it was decided that Johar will put a special mention paying homage to the Indian soldiers who were killed in the Uri terror attack at the beginning of the film and also announced that the producers guild will not be working with Pakistani artistes in the future.

Addressing the media, he said, “We had a very constructive meeting on how to resolve the unfortunate events that have happened before the release of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil.

Poster of Karan Johar film 'Ae Dil Hai Mushkil'.Poster of Karan Johar film 'Ae Dil Hai Mushkil'.

Poster of Karan Johar film ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’.

“On behalf of my fraternity, I have shared the emotions of the filmmakers that we are Indians first and our Indian sentiments are more important to us than our business. We have come to an understanding to prove what we mean. I assured the chief minister and Raj Thackeray that the guild has taken a decision with the larger interest of the country that we will not work with any more Pakistani artistes,” he said.

He added that keeping in spirit with the national sentiments, Johar has offered to put a slate honouring the soldiers killed in the Uri attack.

“Bollywood producers as well as Johar will also contribute to the army welfare fund to the Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar. We believe that we owe this to the army,” Bhatt said.

After the meeting ended, a spokesperson for the MNS said, “We will not oppose Ae Dil Hai Mushkil‘s release.”

On Thursday, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had assured Bhatt that the film will get a safe and secure release in theatres on 28 October — two days before Diwali.

A delegation led by Bhatt had met Singh, who assured them a “great Diwali” with the release of the film.

Following the 18 September Uri attack and Indian Army’s surgical strikes across the Line of Control, heightened tension between India and Pakistan had a spillover effect on Bollywood. It sparked off a debate whether Pakistani artistes should be allowed to work in India or not.

While MNS issued an ultimatum to Pakistani artistes to leave India, the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association passed a resolution asking producers to avoid working with talents from Pakistan. And Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, which stars popular Pakistani artist Fawad Khan, became the first target

With inputs from PTI

Sivakasi fire cracker mishap kills 8: State govts have failed to learn from the past

Eight people, including six women, died of suffocation as result of excess fumes in a firecracker mishap at the fireworks hub of Sivakasi in Virudhunagar district on Thursday afternoon.

The mishap, which occurred when a fire broke out while crackers were being offloaded from a vehicle to a shop, comes days ahead of Diwali festival when fireworks units in the district are abuzz with activity to cater to the countrywide demand for crackers.

“A total of eight people were killed and six of them were women,” a senior police official told PTI in Sivakasi.

Fire fighters try to douse the fire at the godown containing crackers in Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu on Thursday. PTI

Fire fighters try to douse the fire at the godown containing crackers in Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu on Thursday. PTI

Virudhunagar District Collector A Sivagnanam said a total of 22 persons were affected, of whom eight died.

“The deaths occurred due to suffocation as result of excess fumes and not because of any blast,” he said, adding those affected by smoke inhalation were admitted to a government hospital and a nearby private hospital.

According to this The Times of India report, the deceased have been identified as A Baskar, 42, manager of the scan centre; A Kamatchi, 22 and M Pushpalakshmi, 35, who were nurses at the scan centre; and H Sornakumari, 36, S Devi (three months pregnant), 18, G Valarmathi, 18, Raja, 21 and P Padmalatha, 44 who were patients.

A 40-year-old doctor, K Janakiraman, who is in a critical condition, has been admitted to a private hospital in Madurai. While H Shanmugarajan has been admitted to the ICU of Sivakasi Government Hospital.

Some were also referred to Madurai hospitals for being administered with “breathing facility”, Sivagnanam said.

The incident occurred when a fire broke out while crackers were being offloaded from a van to a cracker shop, resulting in its spreading and affecting a nearby scan centre also. It also damaged parked vehicles, including two-wheelers, police said.

They said the fire was caused due to mishandling of the consignment of crackers while being offloaded by the employees and that the fire had been brought under control by Fire and Rescue services.

Describing it as an ‘unfortunate accident’, Sivagnanam asserted that the administration has been carrying out safety drills in the district, about 500 km from Chennai, to prevent any such mishaps.

According to The Hindu, the license of the shop owners – Anandaraj and Shenbagaraman – have been booked, the police said.

It is not the first time that such an incident has occurred in Sivakasi, a town which is also known as the country’s fireworks capital.

In September 2012, 38 people were killed and over 60 were injured after a fire blew up large amounts of firecrackers and raw materials stored at the Om Siva Shakti factory. The police had arrested 11 employees of the factory on charges of culpable homicide and storing explosives illegally. The police had also said the factory was operating illegally after authorities suspended its license for major safety violations.

In October 2009, 32 people, most of them Deepavali shoppers, were killed at a cracker godown fire in Pallipattu in Tiruvallur district.

Sivakasi has over 700 registered factories, which make around 20 billion rupees annually, where chemicals are often mishandled and safety precautions flouted. Also, the factory owners often outsource work to thousands of smaller units which function illegally, highlights this report.

The daily wages of the workers are as little as Rs 150 to 300, and they are mostly uninsured with the factories being stationed far away from proper medical facilities.

As many as 30 people were killed in 2001 and over 60 in 1991 in similar incidents; about 20-25 workers die each year in fire accidents in this industry. By merely announcing compensation for the victims and ordering probe would do no good unless the local governments take concrete measures on safety practices. These recurring fire mishaps only highlight how neither the state government nor the fireworks industry has learnt anything.

Highlighting the issue of persistent safety practices in the fireworks industry, this New York Times article quoted Asha Krishnakumar, who runs a market research firm and has investigated the Sivakasi fireworks industry, as saying that the fireworks industry’s safety practices need to be monitored more regularly, by elected officials as well as nongovernmental organisations. “When deaths occur the whole world wakes up.”

Rajnath Singh sorts out path for Ae Dil Hai Mushkil

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Movie buffs can have a cool date with Karan Johar’s romantic drama Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (ADHM) on Diwali weekend without fearing any disruption for doling out on Pakistani actor Fawad Khan.Going against the jingoist cries from several quarters not to screen movies having Pakistani artists and banish all Pakistani actors, union home minister Rajnath Singh has assured Bollywood producers full police protection to the theatre exhibitors and audience wherever the movie is going to be screened.”The home minister has assured us full protection and not to worry about the release of the movie. I came here as a concerned and unsure person but am much relieved after meeting the home minister. He assured us that he would speak to all chief ministers and ensure that the film is screened without any fear,” said Mukesh Bhatt, Producer’s Guild president.Amid threats by groups like Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) that they would vandalise cinema halls to block the screening of ADHM because it stars Pakistani actor Fawad Khan, Bhatt had gone to seek protection from Rajnath Singh. He was accompanied by other film producers and union minister Babul Supriyo.However, Karan Johar has urged his movie was shot much before tension between India and Pakistan escalated. “I beseech you to know one thing– that over 300 Indian people in my crew have put their blood, sweat and tears in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, he said.”Producers do understand the sentiment of the nation. MNS cannot have the right to take law in their hands. They have harassed people before,” Babul Supriyo said.However, it up to the theatre owners to decide and screen the film. A section of cinema owners in four states have said they will not release ADHM because along with Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, it features Fawad Khan.When asked about Pakistan’s decision to ban all Indian films, Bhat said, “What India has got to do with. They are a closed society and have done it for 35 years. Let us celebrate the spirit of Diwali by watching this entertainer. Our job is to entertain not to do politics,”Bhatt added.Striking a conciliatory tone Bhatt described MNS activists as brothers that have gone astray and instead of being confronted should be transformed.Home ministry sources said that Rajnath Singh is also planning to go to Mumbai on Friday coinciding his visit with film’s release.

ADHM row: After Rajnath Singh, Centre, CM Fadnavis assures support to Karan Johar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The makers of “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” including Karan Johar were assured both by the Centre and Maharashtra government on Thursday that no one will be allowed to stall the upcoming release of the Bollywood film that is facing threat from the MNS for featuring a Pakistani actor.The assurance was given by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis during separate meetings with Johar and a delegation of the film fraternity that included its producer.The film, that features Pakistani actor Fawad Khan in a cameo role, ran into trouble after Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) said they won’t allow release of any movie in India that featured Pakistani artistes. It is due for release on October 28, ahead of Diwali.
ALSO READ ADHM row: HM Rajnath Singh assured support for film’s release without any violence, says Mukesh BhattFilm & Television Producers Guild of India president Mukesh Bhatt and Apoorva Mehta from Dharma Productions, which is behind “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil”, led a film fraternity delegation and met Singh in Delhi to discuss the smooth release of the film. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Bhatt said they decided to meet the Home Minister as there is a sense of “fear” and the law and order situation especially in Mumbai is going out of control. “We requested him to give us assurance along with the chief minister of the state that law and order will be intact and our movie ‘ADHM’ which is releasing on October 28 should not face any difficulty.”They have assured us whatever support we want he will provide to us. He said that he will talk to chief ministers of the states so that the law and order remains in place and violence does not take place near theatres. Full security will be given to all exhibitors. The way we celebrate Diwali, (We want) everyone get entertained and celebrate it with happiness,” Bhatt added.
ALSO READ ‘Ae Dil…’ gets police cover, MNS says ‘Hai MushkilUnion minister Babul Supriyo, who was also part of the delegation, said, “MNS is a party of goons. They should not be allowed to take law and order in their hands.” Bhatt said that he is not worried about MNS threats after the Home Minister’s assurance and he is confident that “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” will have a smooth release.Fadnavis assured Johar that the Maharashtra government will not allow anyone to disturb law and order. “The state government would like to reaffirm that the government will not allow anyone to disturb law and order and stern action will be taken. Democratic protest is fine but unlawful activity will not be tolerated,” Fadnavis assured Johar, who called on him in Mumbai.
ALSO READ MNS cannot take law and order in their own hands: Babul Supriyo Police had taken strict action against MNS workers on Thursday for protesting and raising slogans outside Metro Cinema in South Mumbai. Twelve activists of the MNS who had gone to Metro theatre to threaten them were arrested and sent in judicial custody till November 4.Meanwhile, continuing with their agitation, the MNS shifted the scene to Maharashtra’s Nagpur city where some party workers this afternoon demonstrated in front of cinema hall at the main business locality in Sitabuldi against the release of “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” . They later submitted a memorandum to the theatre manager not to screen the film.

ADHM row | ‘Remember how expensive your glass walls are’: MNS threatens multiplex owners

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Looks like the much awaited release of Karan Johar’s ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ is in for more hurdles as the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena recently sent a note on social media asking multiplex owners to ‘stay away from airing films featuring Pakistani actors’.A Twitter post read, “We will not let the film air even in Multiplexes as it features Pakistani actors. Multiplex owners need to stay away from airing films featuring Pakistani actors.”The serious note was accompanied by another threatening message that said, “Or else…remember how expensive your glass walls are!”Pakistani artistes working in Bollywood were asked to leave the country in the wake of the Uri terror attack that killed 19 Indian soldiers. Movies that star these artistes also began to face trouble.However, the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association (IMPPA) had earlier requested with the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leaders to allow the release of films starring the Pakistani artistes.Following this, the movie was recently given the green signal as it has already been shot and ready for release.Starring Ranbir Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ is slated to release this Diwali on October 28.

Diwali mela to raise funds for families of slain Delhi cops

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As an act of solidarity for its slain officers or those who committed suicide allegedly due to the high stress their job entails, Delhi Police has decided to help families of such officers with their Wazifa scheme. The money raised through this year’s Diwali Mela will help over worked cops have a good time with friends and family. This is also the first time that the police department is organising an event such as this at such a grand scale.Policing does not mean catching criminals and being tough all the time. The police force too need some amount of enjoyment and in an attempt to lighten the mood of the force before they gear up to secure the city for the upcoming festival season the Police Family Welfare Society (PFWS) has organised a Diwali Mela. The event aims at the officers and their families to bond and socialise with each other. “The objective of the Mela apart from helping the children is to create a positive and happy environment so that the men of the force feel it is different from the monotonous routine they are always in,” said Chief PRO, Dependra Pathak.Families of officers who have laid down their lives to secure the city will receive money in the two day event. The Wazifa scheme will aim to provide scholarship to children of the police force. “Some kids possess great talent in sports and other fields as well but can not take it up due to financial constraints. We would like to bring up such children as they can go higher in their respective fields,” added the officer.The families of the police officers will be enertained by a series of performances by Rapper Badshah, Punjabi singers Jassi, Guru Randhawa, Jassi, Womania band and Pratap Fauzdar. Numerous events such as a lucky draw with the prize being an Alto 800, stand-up comedy acts, painting and Rangoli competition and live cooking shows, etc., will be held.

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.

Did PM Modi celebrate Diwali in Kashmir for votes: BJP asks opposition

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>. Asserting that the opposition creating noise over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to celebrate Dussehra in Lucknow was nothing but a sign of their ‘insecurity’, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday stated that his visit to the poll-bound state must not be politicised but lauded instead, as it was a historic move.Speaking to ANI here, BJP leader Sambit Patra stated that when the Prime Minister went to Kashmir to celebrate Diwali and Siachen to be with the jawans, the opposition never asked if he did so in order to garner votes. “What is there to politicise? Lucknow is also part of India and he is the Prime Minister of the country. So what if he goes and celebrates amidst the poor and the farmers of U.P? This is not an issue,” he said.”Why are they raising questions now when he is going to Lucknow in a historic move? This only shows the sense of insecurity dwelling in the hearts of the opposition parties,” Patra added. Yesterday, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav dubbed Prime Minister Modi’s upcoming visit to the state capital to attend the Dussehra celebrations as politically motivated with an eye on the upcoming state assembly polls. Uttar Pradesh Congress president Raj Babbar on Tuesday also attacked Prime Minister Modi, saying it would have been nice had he visited Kashmir to celebrate this festival.”Today, Kashmir is burning, and we would have liked if he (Prime Minister Modi) would have visited Kashmir again to celebrate Dussehra as he went their earlier to celebrate Diwali,” Raj Babbar said. Echoing similar sentiments, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati on Sunday dubbed Prime Minister’s Modi’s visit to Lucknow a political stunt and said that the event should have been toned down taking into account the loss suffered by the families of soldiers killed in the Uri terror attack.

UP polls 2017: Modi’s Lucknow event for Dussehra politically motivated, says Mayawati

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BSP president Mayawati on Sunday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Lucknow to attend Dussehra celebrations is “politically motivated” and the event should have been toned down taking into account the loss suffered by the families of soldiers killed in the deadly Uri terror attack.”The pyre of jawans who lost their lives in the Uri attack has not yet died down, but the Prime Minister is coming to Lucknow to celebrate Dussehra for his political motives,” Mayawati said at a rally in Lucknow on the occasion of party founder Kanshi Ram’s 10th death anniversary..”It is likely that for the same purpose, he (Modi) might come to UP for Diwali as well. Taking the loss of the Uri martyrs’ families into account, BJP should have celebrated Dussehra and Diwali with sobriety and simplicity,” she said.”The BJP has been forced to bring Modi to Lucknow to Dussehra mela so that he can put forth his views at a religious congregation…It has been forced to indulge in politics of religion,” she said.Mocking the saffron party, she said BJP might be forced to bring in film actors to garner crowds in future. Crowds alone do not translate into votes, she added. Prime Minister Modi is scheduled to visit Lucknow and attend Dussehra festivities at the historic Aishbagh Ramlila ground on October 11. Apprehensive of possible efforts to “cash in” on cross-border terrorism in the upcoming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Goa and Punjab, Mayawati said hysteria of war between India and Pakistan may be churned up to “divert attention from failures” of the central government. On the Army’s surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC), she said that it was the right move, but one that came too late. “There is a feeling among people that this could have been delayed for taking political and electoral mileage.” Had the military action been carried out after the Pathankot attack in January, lives of 19 soldiers in Uri might have been saved, she said.On the calls for making evidence of the strikes in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) public, the BSP leader said the decision should rest with the Army alone. She also hit out at the Centre for trying to gain “political mileage” by taking credit for the Army’s operation She equated the present “hype” with the mood in the US after its forces eliminated Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.Lashing out at the Prime Minister for “failing” to fulfil promises made during the Lok Sabha polls, Mayawati said that all sections of society were today feeling “cheated”. “The politics being played in the garb of strikes has never be seen earlier,” she said, adding that the speech delivered by PM Modi on August 15 indicated that anything can be done for gaining political mileage.The BSP chief also alleged that central agencies like CBI are being “misused” by the ruling party of the day to “harass” political adversaries, as was done with her during the previous Congress government.As Chief Minister, she said she took action even against her own ministers on corruption charges, unlike the present dispensation “which let Lalit Modi and Vijay Mallya flee” from the country. PTI SABBSA10091731NNNNPTI

Marathas look to roll out strength in numbers campaign

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After the lukewarm response from the BJP-led state and central government, the Maratha community has urged elected representatives across the party line to resign if they are unable to fulfill the community’s demands. After the success of the Kranti Muk Morcha held across various parts of the state to demand strict punishment for the accused in the Kopardi rape case, members of the Mumbai unit are planning a similar protest in the city. The Maratha Kranti Morcha held a meeting at Shivaji Mandir in Dadar on Friday to chalk out a plan.”Of the total strength of 288 in the state assembly, 149 MLAs belong to the Maratha community. As community members form a majority, they can write to the chief minister asking for a special session in order to get their demands fulfilled,” said a senior Maratha leader on condition of anonymity.Members suggested that the morcha should happen after Diwali. However, a few of them wanted the morcha to be held after the winter session of the state assembly, which is scheduled on December 5.”We paid heed to all suggestions. Now, all districts ordinations will be called to Aurangabad on October 9 where the Mumbai morcha date will be finalised and we are expecting almost a crore members to participate,” said one of the meeting’s organisers on condition of anonymity. He added, “The CM should make crucial decisions before the morcha or we will celebrate Black Diwali by covering lamps with black cloth.”After the Kopardi rape and murder case, the Maratha community protested in large numbers demanding capital punishment for the perpetrators of the rape and murder of a Maratha girl. They also demanded for the amendment to the Atrocities Act, reservation for Marathas and implementation of Dr Swaminathan’s report highlighting fair prices of grains.”If the party leadership doesn’t meet the community’s demands, they should resign. This will ensure CM Devendra Fadnavis’ government becomes a minority in the assembly. This will almost definitely lead to another election. We will only vote for those who will work for the betterment of our community.” said another Maratha leader.The Maratha kranti morcha has proven that the community does not require leadership. Now, the Marathas are proud of their caste and this mutual feeling is binding the community emotionally. Organisers said the services of 500 existing WhatsApp groups will be used to reach out to other members of the community who live in the state. Since it is impossible to reach out for support from other Maratha members, the kranti morcha plans to make use of social media platforms to build support. Social networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter will be used to draw maximum participation.The Maratha community has been protesting for over a month now. A number of Maratha organisations have been holding silent protests against the rape and murder of a Maratha girl in Kopardi village of Ahmednagar district. Earlier in the week, Shiv Sena moutpiece Saamna was at the centre of a maelstrom after it published a caricature mocking the silent demonstrations organised by the Marathas. However, the Shiv Sena has blamed the NCP and Congress for fanning passions in the state.

AAP wants a ban on ‘hazardous’ Chinese firecrackers this Diwali

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> With Diwali round the corner, Delhi Environment Minister (interim charge) Kapil Mishra on Friday instructed the Secretary of Environment, the Government of National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi, to ensure a complete ban on Chinese crackers across Delhi. ‘I am made to understand that ‘Chinese crackers’ are a great health and safety hazard. The use of Chinese crackers increases manifold in the festive season particularly during Diwali in NCT of Delhi. It is a major source of air and noise pollution also. The Department of Environment is advised to take immediate necessary steps for its ban in public interest,’ Mishra writes to Environment Secretary. The instructions came soon after Mishra took interim charge of the environment department as Minister Imran Hussain is on Haj pilgrimage.

Pak’s Sindh to officially mark Holi, declare it public holiday

For the first time, the colourful religious Hindu festival Holi will be a public holiday in Pakistan’s Sindh province, the government has announced.In an unprecedented move, the provincial Sindh government issued a notification declaring March 24 as a public holiday. Earlier only the minority Hindu community in Pakistan were given holiday to celebrate the “festival of colours.” “But this is the first time we have declared Holi as a public holiday throughout the province,” said a spokesman for the Chief Minister House.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The announcement comes days after Pakistan’s National Assembly adopted a non-binding resolution to take steps to declare Holi, Diwali and Easter as public holidays. Hindu lawmaker Ramesh Kumar Vankwani of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz had moved the resolution.The decision was hailed by many, including the Pakistani media, as an attempt to steer the country towards a “more moderate ideological direction.” The federal government, however, is yet to issue any notification to declare these festivals as public holidays.Hindus make up around 2% of Pakistan’s 200 million population, and mostly live in the Sindh province. Christians account for 1.6%. Pakistan’s religious minorities have long faced economic and social discrimination. But the ruling PML-N government has said it is committed to doing away with the economic and social discrimination that religious minorities face.Holi, which marks the end of winter and the victory of good over evil, is celebrated across India and Nepal with people exchanging greetings, savouring food and carry forward the message of peace, friendship and love.

Mumbai air now as bad as pollution capital Delhi

With the fire in the Deonar dumping ground yet to be doused completely, the air pollution in Mumbai managed to reach levels as bad as Delhi, reports a leading English daily. On the evening of January 29, 2016, the Air Quality Index (AQI) levels hit 341, which was Delhi’s value the entire day, according to System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR). The AQI for Mumbai the same day in the morning was 325.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Experts have said that the high pollution levels could be due to the Deonar fire, particularly the increase in PM 10. According to SAFAR, it was the most polluted day in Mumbai since the organisation began in June 2015. Mumbai had hit an AQ of 313 on November 12, a day after Diwali. The air pollution on New Year’s eve was 300. AQI uses 24-hour averages of pollutants which include sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, ozone (O3) and particulate matter. AQI levels over 200 are hazardous for health. If they are between 300 and 400, they are very poor. In such cases health experts advise vulnerable part of the demographic such as people with cardiac and pulmonary illnesses as well senior citizens and children to avoid exertion. SAFAR found that most of the suburbs in the city had poor air quality with Malad having the worst AQI of 432 and Mazgaon with the best of 211.Residents have not only experienced discomfort but also have fallen ill. Sumaira Abdulali of the AWAAZ Founation has said that while there is urgent need to solve the pollution issue, we must not look at pollution as the source. “We must tackle all sources like garbage dump, coal storage, and burning of plastic as a larger problem, otherwise we won’t find the right solution,” she said.With agency inputs.

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