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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 !!!

New Delhi: Foreigner arrested for stealing US $200 from money changer

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A foreigner has been arrested in connection with a theft of US $200 from a money changer in Sarai Juleina area in south east Delhi, police said on Saturday.The accused Davoud Zare and his companion Mohammad Amir, both Iranian nationals, went to the money changer on Friday and allegedly stole US $200 from there and tried to run away but the money changer sensed foul and caught Zare while Amir managed to flee, said DCP(south east) Romil Baaniya.During sustained interrogation Zare admitted to being a professional cheat involved in similar cases in other countries as well, he said. The duo had come to India for the first time on tourist visa 40 days back and stayed in a hotel in Karol Bagh Delhi. Their visa for India was valid till January 2017.The duo targetted mainly hospitals, banks, money changers, medical stores by claiming to be tourists in need of changing foreign currency, said the officer. While one of them engaged the person on the counter, the other would steal the cash. They also changed hotels every 5-6 days and would return to their home country after committing 15-20 thefts, he added.A case has been registered in the matter at New Friends Colony. Efforts are on to nab Amir and a team raided his hotel but he had already checked out.

Twitter prays for its favourite minister Sushma Swaraj

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah wished speedy recovery to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who is undergoing tests at AIIMS here for a kidney transplant. In their message to the Union Minister, they expressed their good wishes for her early recovery, with the senior Abdullah who has himself underwent a similar surgery, saying: “I will pray that she gets well soon.” 64-year-old Swaraj, who has been in and out of the hospital for last few months, said he was undergoing treatment for kidney failure. “Friends: This is to update you on my health. I am in AIIMS because of kidney failure. Presently, I am on dialysis. I am undergoing tests for a Kidney transplant. Lord Krishna will bless,” she tweeted today. She was admitted to AIIMS on November 7 and is being monitored by a team of doctors.The External Affairs Minister was admitted to AIIMS in April also when she underwent treatment for pneumonia and other health issues.

Full text of PM Modi’s speech in Mexico

Prime Minister Narendra Modi after an interaction with US Congress, landed in Mexico last night where he was received by Ms Claudia Ruiz Massieu Salinas, Foreign Minister of Mexico.He later had an India Mexico delegation level talks and a restricted interaction with President Enrique Peña Nieto. Post which, both the heads of the nation addressed the press.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Here’s the full text of PM Modi’s press talk at Mexico:
ALSO READ ‘Five days, five countries!’, PM Modi finally heads back homeYour Excellency President Enrique Peña Nieto Dear Friends,
ALSO READ Modi in US: Full text of PM Modi’s speech in US Congress Muchas gracias, Señor Presidente! Thank you, Mr. President for your generous welcome.
ALSO READ Modi in US: PM Modi’s speech to the US Congress the work of a spinmeisterI am particularly touched by your warmth and hospitality. Although this is my first visit to your great country as the Prime Minister, I had experienced the richness of your culture during my travel in early nineties as a common Indian. We are meeting for the third time in last two years. I have always found my conversations with you deeply stimulating. I truly value your friendship Mr. President.Tracing back the tiesFriends, Mexico was the first Latin American country to recognise India. Since then, the trajectory of our all round bilateral ties has shown growing intensity. In 2007 we established Privileged Partnership. Today, during our conversations, President and I held productive discussions on the entire range of bilateral relations, and on global issues of mutual interests. We have agreed to work and develop a roadmap of concrete outcomes to upgrade our ties to a Strategic Partnership.Business TiesFriends, Ties of business and investment are an important driver of our relationship. Mexico is an important partner for India’s energy security. We are now looking to move beyond a buyer-seller relationship, and into a long-term partnership. Information technology, energy, pharmaceuticals, and automotive industries are among key growth areas of our commercial linkages. But, there is potential to expand our commercial and investment, and Science and Technology partnerships in new areas. In this regard, President and I agreed to find ways to deepen our cooperation in Space, and science and technology. We will also prioritise concrete projects in areas of agricultural research; bio-technology; waste management; disaster warning and management, and solar energy. I would like to particularly thank President Pena Nieto for his support to the International Solar Alliance. It will transform the global canvas for solar technology, especially for developing and Small Island Developing countries.Strengthening the bond to support each otherFriends, President and I recognise the opportunities and challenges of this century. We both feel that our growing convergence on international issues allows us to join our capacities to strengthen international regimes of strategic importance. I thank President Pena Nieto for Mexico’s positive and constructive support for India’s membership of the NSG.Recalling Octavio PazExcellency, I see in you a reformer and believer in the destiny of this country. I too am focused on reforming India’s economic and governance structures. This is one area where our sharing of best practices can benefit both our societies. Friends, In his book “In Light of India”, the great author Octavio Paz wrote, “I can understand what it means to be Indian, because I am Mexican”. Of course, it is true the other way too! I believe we have succeeded today in strengthening this mutual understanding further. It has been a wonderful visit. Excellency, I once again thank you for your welcome, your friendship and belief in India-Mexico friendship. And, I look forward to welcoming you Señor Presidente in India at the earliest opportunity.Thank you, Thank you very much.

Tamil Nadu: Family of four strangled themselves to death

The body of Thamaraikannan was found hanging from the ceiling at the entrance, while that of his wife and two sons, aged 10 and 14,was in another room. Bodies of a couple and their two sons were today found hanging in their house near Palladam in nearby Tirupur district.Police said the 45-year-old Thamaraikannan was into hosiery business and was staying with his wife and his two sons on the third floor of the same building where he had his firm.Since he did not respond to his father’s mobile phone calls, Thamaraikannan’s father alerted his friends, who rushed to the spot and broke open the door, only to find his body hanging from the ceiling at the entrance, police said. They also found bodies of his wife and two sons, aged 10 and 14, hanging from the ceiling in another room, police said.

Forest fire aftermath: NGT bars Uttarakhand govt from cutting trees for roadworks

New Delhi: A plea alleging “nexus” between “timber mafia and officials” who were behind the recent fire incidents in Uttarakhand prompted the National Green Tribunal on Friday to restrain the state government from chopping of trees for construction of road in the state.

“We restrain Government of Uttarakhand and the contractors working from cutting and felling any trees from forest land for the purposes of melting the coal tar for laying metalled road in the State of Uttarakhand,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.

The order came after the state government failed to file its response on a plea seeking a CBI inquiry to ascertain the reason of forest fires that have raged the state having severe impact on the environment.

The tribunal noted that despite grant of opportunity no reply has been filed by Uttarakhand government and also the administration is unable to dispute the fact that the trees are being cut and burnt for melting the coal tar for laying road.

File photo of the Uttarakhand forest fire. PTI

File photo of the Uttarakhand forest fire. PTI

During the hearing, advocate Sugriva Dubey, appearing for the petitioner, referred to a RTI reply filed by Public Works Department which said that wood was being used for melting coal tar during construction and repair of roads in Nainintal and Almora districts of Uttarakhand.

The matter is now listed for next hearing on 3 August.

The tribunal was hearing a plea by NGO Friends which had alleged that a “nexus of timber mafia, some greedy villagers and officials” was suspected to be behind the fire incidents which have caused severe degradation of the environment.

In its plea, the NGO had said that an inquiry should be ordered to be conducted by judicial authority to investigate the reason for the fire incidents and the state should be directed to ban the practice of burning of woods for road works.

It had alleged that Uttarakhand government has not taken any “effective step to control the fire” due to which almost the entire hilly area was affected.

The plea had claimed that more than “1300 incidents of forest blaze have taken plan in the present season and more than 2600 hectares of forest area has been ruined” in the state.

The tribunal had earlier on 4 May sought responses of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and governments of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh on a separate plea on the issue of forest fires raging in both the states.

Cook discusses manufacturing possibilities with Modi; Apple keen to tap young talent

New Delhi: Showing interest in making Apple products in India, the global technology giant’s chief Tim Cook on Saturday discussed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi the “possibilities of manufacturing” and tapping the young talent pool in the country.

On his maiden visit to India, the Apple CEO also discussed with Modi issues regarding cyber-security and data encryption.

“Cook shared Apple Inc’s future plans for India. He spoke of the possibilities of manufacturing and retailing in India. He appreciated the breadth of young talent in India and said the youth have significant skills which Apple would like to tap,” an official statement said.

The head of the US-based Apple, which makes iPhones and Mac computers, has already announced during this trip setting of an app development centre in Bengaluru and one for maps in Hyderabad.

Apple CEO Tim Cook and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTIApple CEO Tim Cook and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

Apple CEO  Tim Cook and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Twitter @narendramodi

During his meeting with Modi, Cook highlighted the immense potential for app development in the country. He also launched an updated version of the PM’s mobile app at the meeting.

He narrated to Prime Minister the experiences including a visit to Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai and watching a cricket match in Kanpur. Modi, appreciating Cook, said in India “seeing is believing” and added these experiences would definitely steer his business decisions.

He also appreciated Prime Minister’s initiatives on ease of doing business and renewable energy, the statement read.

Cook said the company is looking to be in India for a long run and it is “exactly the right time” to be in India as telecom firms roll out 4G high speed internet services. Apple, which is seeing declining sales elsewhere in the world, is betting big on India for growth as sales saw an impressive 56 per cent growth during January-March.

Modi explained ‘Digital India’ initiative and identified three key objectives of as e-education, health and increasing farmers’ incomes.

Prime Minister sought support from Apple in furthering these objectives and also encouraged Cook to help the global community to cope with the challenges of cyber-crime.

Cook also congratulated Modi on recent election results and spoke about his visit to India and that he had been received with great warmth.

After the meeting, Modi tweeted: “Thank you @tim_cook! Friends, welcome & happy volunteering. Your views and efforts are always enriching.” He also shared photos with the Apple CEO on his Twitter handle.

Cook, in a response, tweeted: “Thanks PM @narendramodi for a great meeting. Already looking forward to next visit to India. Best wishes on the app!”

‘Oral history’: Four things you can learn about India through a tube of toothpaste

Baba Ramdev’s call for “deshbhakt” Indians to choose his Dant Kanti toothpaste raises an intriguing question.

How much do patriots know about dental health in India? Probably very little. Many people think dentists are boring and consider toothpaste banal.

Think again. From the ironies of history to the marketing tactics of today, dentistry and its discontents offer some compelling lessons. Oral hygiene also provides vital clues to economic and gender disparities. Here are four things you can learn about India through a tube of toothpaste.


India’s history of modern dentistry springs from a curious fact. It is intimately connected with ice cream.


India’s history of modern dentistry begins with a curious fact

Rewind to 1909, and follow the steps of Rafiuddin Ahmed. Seeking an education in the United States, this restless young man from Bengal talks his way onto an Italian ship bound for New York. After making contact with Irish activists at the NYC office of Friends of Freedom for India, he aims for a degree in dentistry at the State University of Iowa – mostly because the fees are cheaper and he can find plenty of part-time work. One summer, a friend invites him to work at an ice cream plant and soda fountain at a luxury resort at Spirit Lake, Iowa.

That creamy apprenticeship proves crucial. When Dr Ahmed finally graduates, heads home, and sets up a dental practice in Calcutta in 1920, he also launches an ice cream parlour. Dr Ahmed calls it “New York Soda Fountain,” possibly in homage to the iconic chain of Schrafft’s — where pretty Irish waitresses caught the eye of their compatriots at the Friends of Freedom for India. The idea was to funnel ice cream profits into subsidies for India’s first dental college, which takes off in Dr Ahmed’s private chambers.

Located in the teeming Dharmatala area, New York Soda Fountain quickly finds fans among middle class Bengalis. Bearers wear white uniforms. Vanilla and mango flavours are popular. Sometimes Dr Ahmed himself scoops ice cream at the counter, and supervises the vendors in Howrah and Sealdah stations.

“Boozers really liked that ice cream soda. It covered the bad odour of country liquor,” recalls novelist Supriyo Chowdhury.

Was it all a case of sophisticated backward integration? In other words, did Dr Ahmed know that the refined sugar in ice cream could cause cavities, and thus help his dental practice to flourish?

Nothing of the kind, responds his family. “That didn’t strike him at all. Now, we know that ice cream and cold drinks cause cavities. Had he known, he would have done things differently,” says Dr Zarina Aliya, a dental surgeon in Baruipur and granddaughter of Dr Ahmed.

“This was a time of entrepreneurship,” she adds. “He was a very self-made man. He wanted every citizen to get good dental treatment. Dentistry was chiefly for the rich and famous in those days.”

Dr Ahmed’s name adorns the biggest government college of dentistry in Kolkata, where West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has decreed free treatment for all. But the wholesome nature of New York Soda Fountain curdled in the 1960s, long after Dr Ahmed turned it over to new owners. (He passed away in 1965.) It became a rendezvous site for prostitutes and traders, as well as a louche hang-out for many artists, such as Ganesh Pyne and Shuvaprasanna Bhattacharya.

“It was a great meeting point. New York Soda Fountain was the center of our time,” says Bhattacharya, who cooled his heels there from 1965 to 1979. By that time, the place had phased out ice cream and emphasised snacks like fish fry. Then it closed down. Today, the space is occupied by a mattress store. Its name, “Foam Junction,” still bears a trace of that bubbly ice cream soda.

Among multinationals, Hindustan Unilever Limited stands out for its continuing fondness for the toothpaste and ice cream combo. According to Euromonitor International, HUL’s Close-up and Signal figure among the top four toothpaste brands in India. At the same time, Unilever is flogging Kwality Wall’s ice cream and Cornetto, along with the more patrician Magnum ice cream.


One day in Orissa, villagers came upon a giant fake tooth displayed in an open field. Two teams were assembled. One was given shields and assigned to protect the tooth. The other team pelted the tooth with little white balls, seeking to overwhelm the defense. The skirmish ended with a friendly group photo, swiftly enlarged into a billboard. “This village is Calci-Locked!” said the sign. The digital smiles masked a silent message: No Trespassing on Colgate Turf.

In India, Colgate is trying hard to shield its whopping 54 percent market share. Last year, to counter a Dabur surge in Orissa, rural marketers from Mumbai-based Anugrah Madison implemented this surreal campaign, which recently won a Silver Medal from the Rural Marketing Association of India (RMAI). Colgate “wanted to go very aggressive in terms of reaching out to consumers,” explains Prashant Mandke, head of the rural marketing firm. Extending to some 400 villages, the initiative also included a mobile phone twist. Winners received a 20-rupee top-up if they answered questions correctly about Colgate through IVR, an automated voice recording.

Aural recall packs more punch than the written word.

“SMS is not the answer. The answer is IVR, as they are able to listen to something,” says RMAI president Sanjay Kaul. Alternatively, call centers staffed with dentists proved unprofitable and unworkable due to the high volume of calls, says Girish Chaturvedi at netCORE, a communications and marketing firm.

But most analysts argue that low-cost phone tactics alone will not sway the masses — whatever product is on offer. “If you start with mobile, it would not work. Indian consumers are more prone to like face-to- face interaction. People like to touch the product,” says Abhishek A, assistant professor of marketing at the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad.

That’s why marketing teams are still buzzing around India, actively engaging consumers in quizzes, magic shows, railway car surveys, and giveaways at religious gatherings. Follow-up comes via phone. “Activation is creating the need. Mobile is establishing the brand,” chants Chaturvedi.


James Wynbrandt makes an important point at the start of his entertaining book, The Excruciating History of Dentistry. “As civilisation arose, differences in diets of the wealthy and poor were evidenced in the state of their teeth. Typically, the richer the individual, the poorer their oral health, as decay made inroads in the human mouth,” Wynbrandt writes.

India was no exception. In poor rural areas, the traditionally low intake of refined sugars and the protective qualities of neem enhanced bright smiles. The custom of chewing a neem twig survives in many places today, despite the onslaught of mass-produced brushes and toothpaste. “It’s a very good agent for binding gums with teeth. This is the knowledge that has been passed down for generations,” notes IIMA assistant professor Abhishek. In devotional stories and songs, Radha invites Krishna to clean his teeth with a twig.

“It’s tasty. It’s cheaper,” says 30 year old Shiv Prasad, a Bihari who earns Rs 6,500 per month at the Alliance Jute Mill in Jagatdal, West Bengal. He buys seven twigs for three rupees from Upinder, a 75-year- old Bihari who chops neem twigs in front of the mill’s blue gate. A dense crowd of men jostle for their twigs. “Poor people don’t have the money to buy Colgate,” says Upinder.

According to RMAI, some 250 million Indians do not use toothpaste. “The deeper you go in the market, the higher the resistance to change,” notes Ankur Bisen, senior vice president at Technopak. Some families prefer ash made of burned rice husks, cow dung, or other ingredients, both for cleaning the teeth and applying a lingering gum massage. While the abrasive twigs and ash can harm tooth enamel or make gums bleed, the same holds for overly vigorous encounters with a toothbrush. “More harm is done every day, with people not aware of the particular way of brushing,” says Dr Barin Roy, a senior dentist in Kolkata who applied his talents to ministers and poets alike.

In the global context, India’s per capita consumption of toothpaste is “pathetically low,” as described by one industry veteran. According to Euromonitor International, India consumes just a quarter of the toothpaste used per capita in Brazil, and just half of that in China. Nielsen India reports that urban per capita toothpaste consumption stands at 270 grams, compared to 85 grams in rural areas.

But diets are changing. Sugary biscuits, colas, syrups, ice cream, and other dental enemies are vigorously marching through villages, having triumphed in Indian cities. Meanwhile, city travel and overseas migration have also spurred adoption of mass-produced toothbrush and toothpaste back in the village, says Anju Joseph, chief operating officer at Quantum Qualitative Research.

Still, the twig carries a certain element of style, especially for the male population — much like a rapper’s toothpick.

“Have you noticed that guys like to walk around the village and chew on twigs? You can’t do that with a mouth full of foam,” says Kolkata-based author Rimi Chatterjee.


The Indian Dental Association (IDA) has some surprising statistics up its sleeve. According to Dr Ashok Dhoble, secretary general of the IDA, 80-90 percent of recent dental graduates are women.

The number of dental colleges in India has tripled over the last decade, now topping 300. But out of India’s 25,000 dental students who pass out each year, only about 10,000 people choose to practice dentistry, says Dr Alias Thomas, former IDA president.

Many women graduates face considerable pressure to renounce a dental career and focus on their spouses and children. The steep costs of setting up a high-tech solo practice, combined with the low salaries offered in a group practice, also serve as twin disincentives. Surely, Dr Ahmed would mourn this turn of events. It’s a great loss in human resources.

Meanwhile, less than 20 percent of India’s 1 lakh 25,000 trained dentists are practicing in the countryside. That leaves considerable room for quacks.

Only 4 percent of the Indian population visited a trained dentist last year. But that figure wouldn’t bother Baba Ramdev, who does not seem fond of men in white coats. Ditto for purveyors of Dant Kanti. “All the dental problems have been solved with this. You need not go to the dentist,” advises Sadashiva Johari, manager of Patanjali Chikitsalaya in Bangalore’s HSR Layout.

Margot Cohen is a writer from New York. Her interest in India follows previous reporting stints in the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Do not trust rumours of my death: ‘Timepass’ actor Prathamesh Parab busts hoax

Actor Prathamesh Parab, best known for his roles in Marathi films Balak Palak and Timepass has denounced rumours of his death, saying he is absolutely safe and there is no reason to worry.An internet hoax that Prathamesh had met with an accident and breathed his last at Pune’s KM hospital has been doing the rounds on social media, especially on WhatsApp, for the last few days.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, the actor dispelled all rumours and posted a video on Facebook saying, he was alive and well. काळजी करू नका मित्रांनो मी सुखरूप आहे आणि माझ कोणत्याही प्रकारच accident झालेलं नाही 🙂 हा video जास्तिस्त जास्त करा …Prathamesh Parab
Prathamesh Parab on Saturday, April 9, 2016In another post, he said, “Friends, do not trust any rumours. Someone has been spreading rumours of my accident.”He also said that many people have been calling and messaging him to enquire about the rumours, adding, he is unsure of why someone was spreading such news.Prathamesh also appealed to people to not forward any such message if they receive them on any social media groups.The actor has recently also worked with Ajay Devgan in the movie Drishyam as his co-star. He will be seen in the upcoming Marathi movie 35% Kaatavar pass, produced and directed by Satish Motling.

Facebook activates safety check after Kolkata flyover collapse

In view of the tragic flyover collapse in Kolkata, Facebook has activated its safety check feature for people in Kolkata which will allow its users to mark themselves ‘safe’.LIVE INDIA vs WEST INDIES 2nd semi final T20, ICC World T20″Safety check a simple way to say you’re safe and check on others — was activated for people in Kolkata due to the collapse of a flyover,” a Facebook spokesperson told PTI.This feature allows anyone in Kolkata to mark himself or herself ‘safe’ to let their Facebook friends know that the person is fine. It also allows people to check on other friends in the affected area.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The feature has been used all over the world by Facebook in times of natural or man-made disasters.

Bharat Mata ki Jai controversy: 3 boys allegedly beaten up in Delhi over refusal to chant slogan

New Delhi: An 18-year-old boy and two of his friends alleged that they were beaten up by three youths when they refused to chant a religious slogan at a park outside their school in outer Delhi’s Begumpur area, police said on Tuesday.

However, the police said that the boy did not mention any such thing in his statement on the day of the incident and there were “inconsistencies” in his versions.

Representational image.Representational image.

Representational image.

According to police, the incident took place on 26 March, when three boys called up the police control room complaining about a fight.

When a police team reached there, it was told that they were allegedly beaten up with sticks by three other youths,
aged between 18 and 21, at a park near a madrasa in the area.

The three boys were taken for medical check up, following which no injuries were found on the bodies of two and one had a fracture. An X-ray has confirmed the fracture.

The injured boy later told police that he was asked to chant “Jai Mata di” and his statement was recorded again.

After the police had recorded his second statement, they said they got to know from sources that the boy told others that he and his friends were asked to chant “Bharat Mata ki Jai”.

However, the boy has not mentioned about having been asked to chant the slogan to the police yet, the official said.

A case has been registered under IPC sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 325 (voluntarily causing grievous
hurt) and 341 (wrongful restraint) and investigation is on.


We want the whole world to join Bharat Mata Ki Jai: Mohan Bhagwat

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on Sunday said the organisation wants to make the country exploitation-free and full of self-respect and whole world to salute India.”We want the whole world to chant ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’. We want to make Bharat (India) rich, free from exploitation and full of self-respect. For that we will have to live that Bharat in our lives,” Bhagwat said at the launch of a book on the life of late Madan Lal Agarwal, co-founder of Friends of Tribals Society.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) chief said after partition, Pakistan did not stake claim over the name ‘Bharat’ because it does not accept the qualities which are in Bharat. He said the Vedas, ‘Dev Bhasha’, ‘Aadi Bhasha’ and even the grammar of Sanskrit was created in the region that now belongs to Pakistan. “But they (Pakistan) took their own name and left the name ‘Bharat’ for us because the qualities which they don’t accept are in Bharat,” Bhagwat said.Referring to the Ramayana, whose veracity is questioned by many, Bhagwat said, “We say that it is very ancient but it is history.” On a lighter vein, Bhagwat said he was lucky to be leading RSS. “I don’t know what would have happened if there was an election. But here it is appointment. I am lucky,” he said.Earlier this month, the RSS chief’s remark that youth should be taught patriotic slogans triggered a debate after AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi refused to chant “Bharat Mata ki Jai” citing he was not obliged by the Constitution to do so.

5-year-old gets stuck in car, dies of suffocation in Mumbai

A five-year-old boy died of suffocation on Saturday evening after he accidentally got locked inside a parked car while playing near Damodar Park in Ghatkopar (West). The car in which his body was found was one of the 17 seized by Unit 7 of the Mumbai crime branch.Kurban Rahim Khan (5), who lived with his parents at a chawl near Damodar Park, was playing with his friends in a small piece of land belonging to Rockline Builders, which was carrying out a slum redevelopment project. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The land was also used by Unit 7 to park seized vehicles in various cases. Around 4 pm, Khan managed to open one of the doors of a Tavera car and got inside.“Khan was playing with his friends and he managed to open the door of the parked car and got inside. As soon as he got inside, the door got closed and he was stuck inside,” said Rajendra Kulkarni, senior police inspector from the Parksite police station. “The other children were busy playing and no one noticed Khan’s disappearance. His scream for help went unheard as the window panes were shut,” he said.When he did not return home even by 6 pm, worried parents started searching for him in the locality. Some locals also joined them and they searched the ground where Khan was playing with his friends. “The locals then turned their attention towards the parked cars and spotted Khan lying unconscious in backseat of a Tavera,” said Kulkarni. “They broke open the door of the car and rushed Khan to the Rajawadi hospital, where he was declared dead before admission,” he said.The Parksite police have registered a case of accidental death and are further probing the matter. “Currently, we have not got any complaint from Rahim Khan, father of the victim. We will carry out an inquiry, and, if anything is amiss, action will be taken,” said Kulkarni.

Amid signs of a stormy Parliament session, PM Modi appeals for constructive debate

Amid signs of a stormy Parliament session ahead, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday hoped the Budget Session will be fruitful and utilised for constructive debate, adding “friends” from opposition parties hadshown “positive” attitude during various interactions.The Prime Minister also said opposition should severely criticise the government and highlight its shortcomings, asserting that it will strengthen democracy, as he highlighted how his government had risen above formalities to reach out to the opposition parties.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In his customary brief remarks to media on the first day of a Parliament session, Modi said “friends” from opposition parties had shown positive attitude during various interactions held with them and expected that its results will be felt by people during the session.”The eyes of 125 crore countrymen are focused on Parliament, the rail budget and the general budget. World is also paying attention to the Budget Session due to India’s position in the global economy today. There has been discussion with parties for the last many days.”Talks have been held by rising above formalities. One-on- one talks have also taken place. I am sure Parliament will be utilised for constructive debate and there will be intensive discussion on the country’s hope and aspirations. In our meetings, friends from opposition have shown positive attitude. In the session beginning today and in the coming days, people will feel it,” Modi said.

#PachauriHatgaya: Letter Kachori never wrote on being asked to go on indefinite leave

Teri Colleagues and My Friends,

I am quite used to writing smutty novels with graphic details of an old pervert’s sexual fantasies and salacious text messages to colleagues young enough to be my daughter. But, drafting a leave application for everybody’s eyes makes me feel like scratching my predator’s whiskers.

But, since resigning, proceeding on indefinite leave, returning and then going back on indefinite leave consume most of my energy, resources and intellect (MERI, for brevity) during day time, I might as well get used to the idea of writing something more than sexting.

Well, it is that time of the year again when I need to dig up a deep hole somewhere to hide from the outrage over my ability to dig up girls at an age most people should be digging up a phone directory to contact somebody to dig their grave. All this because they have dug up more skeletons in meri dear Teri.

It’s a shame, actully. Last year, after resigning as head of International Panel of Climax Control (not that Panel on Climate headed by a man of similar tastes and temperament), I had hibernated for long to escape the world that had exploded because of a senior citizen’s ability to do unmentionable things to his junior colleagues.

RK Pachauri. ReutersRK Pachauri. Reuters

RK Pachauri. Reuters

I returned for two reasons. One, there was an alarming increase in complaints of harassment by the local fauna — basically anything that moves — since I ventured amidst them. And, two, I assumed that the world would have started lacerating itself with penance — note to myself: must call up Tarun Tejpal to get the next farewell missive right — for hounding and grounding a man so eager to discharge his duties towards mankind and womankind, especially the latter.

I mean, only flaccid fools will ask a man to quit just because he wears trousers in office only to keep his ankles warm, or because he knows that harass is not a single word but perks of power defined by two words?

Why don’t they get it? I have money, I have power, I am Nobel, so, why can’t I give up all these material pursuits and take up the missionary position in office?

O Tempora! O Mores! O Bill Clinton! O, all those blighted Os.

Silly me! Just when I had taken time off my pervert pursuits and said yes to the offer of taking up a position of power, something that would have allowed a man like me to be on top again, they started talking about my past. And now have to go on leave for an indefinite period.

I thought I was so clever. With the media focus having shifted from my dark deeds, my victims giving up their fight and quitting the organisation and the board of directors solidly behind me, I presumed that I will return to a hero’s welcome. Like Bill Clinton returning as a Starr to the Oval Office after being needlessly hounded for enjoying similar perks of power.

And what is this fuss about accepting degrees from me? Schools and colleges can only teach you so much. But only a self-taught man like me can prematurely articulate, yes, I mean articulate, the importance of perversion, shamelessness, hypocrisy, immorality, moral squalor, treachery, cheating, predatory instincts — in short all the qualities that turn us into beasts — in the corporate jungle.

I think the loss is all theirs. I might yet get to ogle and pounce at some other girl student at some other convocation in some other university, but these students will be permanently devoid of my quick guide to a Nobel cause.

I am tempted to say to them what all Punjabis love to…Teri …But then some might wrongly interpret that I am bequeathing the organisation to some of their relatives I may be eyeing.

Instead, I am making a quick Return to Almora, which, incidentally is the name of the unreadable porn I wrote. Guess what! I was promised the Bad Sex Fiction prize for it. And just when I was drafting my acceptance speech, they gave me something more Noble.

Anyway, to get to the climax without any more wordplay, I am proceeding on leave till further notice. I hope, in my absence, you will not do to the cause of climax control, what I always scheme of doing to those young colleagues.

And don’t go anywhere. Like the Predator — or was it Terminator? — I shall be back once the current outrage dies down and people forget that what I am hiding in my beard isn’t just a twig but a whole nest.

Nothing can destroy people like me. As long as the world has few good men and — wink, wink — lots of beautiful women, I will go on and on.

I remain, as always,

Slimy As Kachori

dna evening must reads: From updates on Sunanda Pushkar case to India’s loss at 2nd ODI

1) AIIMS sources confirm that Sunanda Pushkar died of poisoningCongress leader Shashi Tharoor’s wife Sunanda Pushkar was poisoned to death, revealed sources in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). According to the AIIMS Panel, which is headed by Dr. Sudhir Gupta, the head of the Department of Forensics, Pushkar died after being poisoned by Polonimum-210 or Po-210. Read more here: Sunanda Pushkar died of poisoning: AIIMS sources<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2) Rohit Sharma’s classic century goes in vain as Australia punish India’s sloppy fielding to take 2-0 leadRohit Sharma’s second successive century was once again overshadowed by Australia’s collective batting might as the hosts continued their dominance over Indian bowlers to notch up a seven-wicket victory in the second cricket one-dayer and take a 2-0 series lead at Brisbane on Friday. Read more here. 3) Ram Rahim controversy: After Kiku Sharda’s arrest, Ali Asgar gets anticipatory bailActor-comedian Ali Asgar against whom a case was filed for spoofing self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was on Friday granted anticipatory bail by the Bombay High Court. Read more here.4) The real story behind ‘intolerant’ Raveena Tandon’s ‘abusing the press’ video​Earlier, a video of her allegedly abusing people had gone viral. She can be heard saying: “Freedom of Press karke sabki maa-bhen karte hain yeh log” But here is the real story behind the video. Watch it here:5) Matthew Perry has opted out of the much-awaited Friends reunion!Matthew Perry, who played Chandler Bing in favourite sitcom Friends, won’t be able to make it for the reunion as he is busy rehearsing for his new play. Read the full story here.