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On his last day as Army Chief, Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag pays tribute to martyrs

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>General Dalbir Singh paid tribute at Amar Jawan Jyoti on his last day as Army Chief on Saturday. He will be replaced by Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat as new army chief.General Singh inspected the guard of honour on his last day as Army Chief. “I salute our martyrs who made supreme sacrifices in upholding honour of the nation,” he said. He also thanked the Centre for granting One Rank One Pension to the armed forces.He also thanked PM Narendra Modi and the Centre “for their full support and giving free hand in conduct of operations”. Gen Dalbir Singh praised the Indian Army saying ,”Indian army delievered that in the last 2 and a half years. Indian Army is fully prepared and well trained to tackle any challenges be it external or internal. I strongly believe that actions must speak louder than words.” “In 2012, we had killed 67 terrorists, 65 in 2013 & killed 141 terrorists alone in J&K this year,” said General Dalbir Singh on his last day as the Army Chief. (With ANI/PTI inputs)Lt Gen Bipin Rawat’s appointment as the new Army Chief had created a controversy as it superseding seniors Lt Gen Bakshi and Southern Army commander Lt Gen PM Hariz. It had also sparked a fierce political row between a section of the Opposition and the government.

Saibaba temple gets Rs 31.73 crore in donations post demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust here has received donations of Rs 31.73 crore during the past 50 days post the government’s demonetization move, an official said on Friday.These donations include Rs 4.53 crore in the scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes and Rs 3.80 crore in the new Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 notes denominations, said Sachin Tambe, one of the trustees of the Saibaba Sansthan.During the last 50 days, the Sansthan received Rs 18.96 crore in donation boxes, Rs 4.25 crore, including Rs 2.62 crore through credit/debit cards, at its various donation counters, Rs 3.96 crore through bank demand drafts, Rs 1.46 crore in donations online and Rs 35 lakh through money orders.Apart from cash donations, the trust also received gold ornaments weighing nearly 2.90 kg worth around Rs 73 lakh and silver ornaments of 56 kg worth about Rs 18 lakh, he said. The trust also earned Rs 3.18 crore from VIP devotees through ‘darshan’ and ‘aarti’ paid passes issued to them after November 8, Tambe said.In the last financial year, the famous Saibaba temple had received Rs 162 crore through donation boxes, which comes out to an average of Rs 44.38 lakh in a day. However, after demonetization, the Sansthan received an average Rs 37.92 lakh donation in a day, Tambe added.

Arun Jaitley clarifies that political parties enjoy no exemptions from demonetisation rule

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has clarified that the government has not made any changes to the laws, and there aren’t any exemptions granted to political parties post demonetisation. A statement released by Jaitley’s office said there was no change made to the taxation laws (Second Amendment) Act, 2016, which came into force on 15 December, 2016.

Arun Jaitley. PTI file imageArun Jaitley. PTI file image

Arun Jaitley. PTI file image

On the controversy regarding tax scrutiny of political parties, Jaitley said, “This is a complete media creation and there are no changes made in the law in that regard. Has a single change made in the last two months or so or in the last two-and-a-half years with regard to taxation of political parties? The answer is ‘No’.”

“Nothing has been done, whatever was the existing system which has been existed for the last 15 years is continuing and if somebody creates a political party for the purposes channelising funds, then obviously the law will step in,” he said.

“I implore all journalist friends to be fully outraged against any step of the government, if it is not against corruption. But in equal measure, I would also implore them to do adequate research before jumping the gun. Under Section 13A of the IT Act, 1961, political parties have to submit audited accounts, income and expenditure details and balance sheets,” he said.

“Post demonetisation, no political party can accept donations in Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes since they were rendered illegal tenders. Any party doing so would be in violation of law. Just like anyone else, political parties can also deposit their cash held in the old currency in banks till the 30 December deadline provided they can satisfactorily explain the source of income and their books of accounts reflect the entries prior to 8 November,” he added.

“And if there is any discrepancy in the books or records of political parties, they are as liable to be questioned by the Income Tax authorities as is anyone else. They enjoy no immunity whatsoever. There is no question of sparing anyone, and the political class is no exception. In fact, PM Modi is setting a new example of propriety in public life, by asking all MPs and MLAs to submit their bank account details post demonetisation. We would like to urge the other parties to do the same and prove their intentions against corruption,” Jaitley said.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 17, 2016 22:14 IST

Kashmir faces tough winter ahead as rising infiltrations test security grid

The sensational killing of the two policemen by suspected militants in Kulgam district on Friday afternoon is a troubling sign of changing times in Kashmir Valley. Catalysed by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, the situation in the Valley is deteriorating fast with the number of militants almost doubling since the last year.

According to the police, the attack took place on Friday afternoon in the main market of Kulgam where two to three suspected militants, who were travelling in a private car, fired indiscriminately at a police checkpoint, sparking panic in the area as pedestrians ran for cover.

People gather around the body of Rayees Ahmad Dar, a suspected militant who according to local media was killed in an encounter with the armed forces in Pulwama district a few days back, at his funeral in Kakapora village, south of Kashmir. Reuters

People gather around the body of Rayees Ahmad Dar, a suspected militant who according to local media was killed in an encounter with the armed forces in Pulwama district a few days back, at his funeral in Kakapora village, south of Kashmir. Reuters

“Three policemen were injured. Head constable Tanvir Ahmad and constable Jalal-ud-din, residents of Kulgam, achieved martyrdom while another injured constable Shamis-ud-Din was shifted to Srinagar Hospital for treatment,” a police spokesperson said in a statement.

Later, the car, a Hyundai Santro, was found abandoned near Laroo village, a kilometre away from the site of the attack in Kulgam district which has witnessed some of the worst incidents of violence in the last five months of the civilian uprising.

Officials said the security agencies are trying to trace the owner of the car with JK-18 registration plate. Meanwhile, a wreath laying ceremony was held for the slain at the District Police Lines in Kulgam which was led by DIG North Kashmir, Nitesh Kumar.

Following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, Kashmir has been reeling under curfew and separatist-sponsored shutdowns with the authorities launching one of the severest crackdowns on civilians, jailing more than 9,000 people, including minors, who are accused of participating in freedom protests.

Although the crackdown has managed to restore some semblance of normalcy on the streets, it has, in absence of any political outreach, only perpetuated anger and alienation in the civilian population who are now openly coming out in support of militants in what is being described as the ‘war on occupational forces’.

To make matters worse, since the 8 July encounter in which Burhan was killed along with his two associates, a senior police officer said there has been a spurt in the disappearance of local youths, many of whom are believed to have joined militant groups.

According to official data, at least 60 rifles were snatched from police personnel in the last four months of unrest, a troubling sign that the Valley might soon slip into the whirlpool of violence which can bring down the facade of normalcy put up by the PDP-BJP coalition government

“Situation is very bad,” a senior police officer, who spoke to Firstpost on the condition of anonymity, “Call it our good luck, these boys don’t have open access to weapons like it was in the early nineties, which is keeping the situation from going out of control”.

The police officer said about 50-60 youths, mostly from south Kashmir districts of Kulgam, Pulwama, Anantnag and Shopian, have been reported missing in the last more than four months of unrest. In many cases, the missing youths have told their families not to search them anymore.

“We have managed to speak with the parents of some of them. As per our records, around 30 of them have joined militant groups like Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hizbul Mujahideen while the rest are in the process of joining. To avoid further deterioration of law and order, we are trying to get them to surrender,” the police officer said.

Coupled with the dangerously rising levels of infiltration along the Line of Control, the deteriorating security situation will pose a tough challenge to the forces who have to deal with street protests on one hand and also carry out counter-insurgency operations.

“Presently we have about 250-300 militants active in the Valley. With locals openly coming to their support and sympathy for militancy gaining ground after Burhan Wani’s killing, the situation is going to only get worse in coming days,” the police officer said.

First Published On : Nov 26, 2016 15:35 IST

Indore-Patna express derailment: Crash raises concerns of underinvestment in railways

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rescue workers picked their way through the last of the mangled carriages of a derailed train on Monday to pull out more bodies from a disaster that killed at least 142 people and injured more than 200. The derailment was India’s deadliest train crash since 2010 and has renewed concern about the poor safety standard of the state-run network, which is a lifeline for millions but has suffered from chronic underinvestment.The largely colonial-era system, the world’s fourth largest, carries about 23 million people every day. But it is saturated and ageing badly. Average speeds top just 50 km/h and train accidents are common.Sunday’s crash is a stark reminder of how hard it will be for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to fulfil his promise to transform the railways into a more efficient, safer network befitting India’s economic power. Modi this year pledged record levels of investment and has announced a new high-speed line funded by Japan, but little progress has been made on upgrading tracks or installing modern signalling equipment on the main network. He has also shied away from raising highly subsidised fares that leave the railways with next to nothing for investment – by some analyst estimates, the railways need Rs 20 trillion ($293.34 billion) of investment by 2020.Police at the accident site said they were still searching through the last of 14 carriages that derailed in the early hours of Sunday while most of the more than 500 passengers were asleep. “We have cleared 13 derailed carriages from the tracks but the last carriage is the most difficult to search,” said Amit Chaudhary, a senior police official at Pukhrayan, 65 km from Kanpur. “Maybe seven or eight bodies are in the last carriage.”Railway official Amit Malvi said more than 150 people had been admitted to government hospitals and several were in critical condition. Authorities are looking into the possibility a fractured track caused the train to roll off the rails on its journey between Patna and Indore. Modi on Sunday held a political rally about 210 km from the site of the derailment. Uttar Pradesh heads to the polls early next year in an election his Bharatiya Janata Party is vying to win.

India facing two ceasefire violations daily after surgical strike

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistani forces have been making desperate attempts to retaliate since the surgical strike carried out by the Indian Army last month, which destroyed terror launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC).The Forces have been kept busy over the last month, as on average, two ceasefire violations have taken place every day since the precision operation by the Indian Army. According to official figures, out of the 115 violations along the border this year, 60 have taken place after India’s offensive last month. The Indian Army hit back after 18 armymen were killed in a terror attack in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir on September 18.”There has not been a single day since the surgical strikes when Pakistani forces have not indulged in shelling and firing. We have hit back each time,” said an intelligence official.Sources say the situation will continue to remain volatile as Pakistani forces are now desperate to hit back across the LoC and International Border. (IB) “According to ground intelligence and chatter picked up from across the border, Pakistani forces are pumping in more fidayeens (suicide bombers) to strike at Indian forces,” said an intelligence official.Intelligence inputs also indicate that after India’s surgical strikes, the Pakistani Army has carried out “precautionary deployment” all along the LoC on their side to fill up the gaps, as they fear another round of strikes from Indian forces.”Soon after our raids, they have increased deployment in areas they consider vulnerable. Precautionary deployment is roughly 25 per cent of full mobilisation,” said an intelligence official.It’s not just in the IB, where security forces are facing a stiff challenge but also in the Kashmir Valley that has been in turmoil over the last three months since the killing of local Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani by Indian forces.Taking advantage of the situation, Pakistani terror groups have intensified their efforts to recruit local Kashmiri youth into militancy. It is estimated that around 100 youth have gone missing in the last three months, raising fears of a massive local recruitment drive. According to a recent review by the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the number of locals joining the outfits could go over 150 this year. “Last year, around 80 young men joined the terror ranks but we expect this to double by the end of the year,” said a top intelligence official.Sources also said that around 4,000 people, who were part of the stone- pelting mobs attacking security forces, have been arrested in the last three months. These were mostly from areas in south Kashmir that have the maximum number of local recruits.Figures released by the Army show that 129 terrorists have been killed this year till now. Contrast this to 2015, when the figure for the entire year was 97. Sources say that most of the kills this year have happened near the LoC as infiltrating terrorists were intercepted.Pak blames India for ceasefire violationsDr Mohammad Faisal, Pakistan’s Director-General (SA & SAARC), summoned India’s Deputy High Commissioner JP Singh on Friday and strongly condemned the “unprovoked ceasefire violations” on October 27 by Indian forces at the working boundary in Shakargarh sector and on the LoC in Nikial sector, resulting in the martyrdom of six civilians, including two women and injuries to 22 civilians, the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

The Last Post: A soldier sheds a tear for an Uri martyr

The Last Post: A soldier sheds a tear for an Uri martyr

Sep 24, 2016 23:17 IST

#ImagesOfTheDay #Soldier #Uri Attack

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Soldiers are often believed to be hard nuts to crack. Quite often, their Rambo-type of image lead people to forget that they are humans too. Embroiled in a bloody proxy war with Pakistan, many brave troops of the Indian Army have either killed or got martyred in action.

On Sunday, 18 soldiers posted at the headquarters of the 12 Brigade in Uri lost their lives when four Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists sneaked into the camp and killed those unarmed men. Soon after their death, protocols took over. The senior officials of the army, the President, the Prime Minister everyone mourned the martyrs and praised their courage.

Their last remains were sent home for the last rites. Shattered families, dumbfounded friends and neighbours above all an angry nation.

Every war leaves its own unique impression in the people’s mind. Soldiers die and leave family and friends behind. Various photographers have captured these moments on camera and give faces to the horrors of war.

The Uri attack was reported as “the deadliest attack on security forces in Kashmir in two decades”.

What’s more telling than when a soldier steps out to the battlefield with the memories of his fallen brothers-at-arms fresh in his mind? Their eyes have the resoluteness to avenge the untimely death of their colleagues. But there are times as well when those eyes swell up in tears in missing a friend who until the other day was always there. This picture of a Gurkha bugler, who broke down while playing the last post in honour of a martyr probably tells a far deeper tale than a grieving nation would understand.

uri-crying-listicleuri-crying-listicle

Why just six months? Probe council’s affairs for past 10 years, Anju writes to minister

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Sports Council President Olympian Anju Bobby George, who is reported to be shifted out as the sports body chief, on Saturday sought a detailed probe into the affairs of the council in the last 10 years.

In a letter to Sports minister EP Jayarajan, who had courted controversy after Anju alleged she had been “insulted”
by him with corruption charges, she said government should order a “truthful and transparent” probe into various appointments in the council, including that of her brother, in the last 10 years and on various other allegations.

The charges against the Council and its activities of not just during the last six months, when she was president, but also of the last 10 years, be investigated under an upright officer like Vigilance Director Jacob Thomas, she said.

Anju Bobby George. ReutersAnju Bobby George. Reuters

Anju Bobby George. Reuters

Anju wanted all appointments in the council to be made through Public Service Commission (PSC).

The Arjuna-awardee athlete alleged that Rs 2 crore collected under the ambitious Sports Lottery scheme, launched
by the previous CPM-led LDF government to mobilise funds for development of sports, had not yet been accounted in the
sports council.

“This should also be brought under the ambit of the probe,” the internationally acclaimed sportperson said.

“Sir, do you remember one sports lottery launched for the development of sports? Of the total Rs 24 crore collected, Rs 22 crore was written off saying it was spent. The balance of Rs two crore is yet to reach the sports council account.

“I also feel that the corruption allegations against the Council should be investigated. But it should not be
restricted to the last six months,” Anju said in the letter, which was released to the media.

The Council’s appointments, construction activities and expenditure in the last 10 years should also be probed, she
said, offering her full support to the investigation.

The athlete requested a probe into alleged irregularities and corruption in various construction activities undertaken by the Council, including that of indoor stadiums and synthetic turfs during the last 10 years.

Anju said she was prepared to return Rs 40,000 which she had received as flight charge allowance during the last six months as sports council president.

She pointed that during the previous president’s term, about Rs 7 lakh was spent for travel expenses alone. “We had
to put in lot of effort to get back the excess amount,” she said.

“This time also, there will be moves to witness the Olympics at government expense. I will not back such moves. I
have been lucky to represent my country in the Olympics through my own calibre and will not support such moves,” she said.

The letter also requested the minister to take immediate steps to resolve certain issues over construction of the house
at Kannur for Olympic hockey medalist Manuel Frederick, who lives in Bengaluru.

The council had released some funds for the construction, she said.

Countering charges that she had done nothing as Sports Council chief in the six-month tenure, Anju listed out a
handful of projects she had implemented, including renovation of hostels, refresher courses for coaches, distribution of
quality training kits and launching of Abdul Kalam Scholarship for sports students.

She also expressed her doubt in the letter that the recent controversies and developments were the handiwork of some vested interests eyeing certain positions.

Time for a change again, say Bengal’s intellectuals who wanted a change in state politics in 2011

It was just five years ago that intellectuals of Bengal had whole-heartedly championed the historic change in the state politics. Troubled by the alleged ‘misrule’ of the erstwhile left front government, they had welcomed the change of power at the helm of the state, some even campaigned for it.Year 2016, the poll bound state looks no different. Many of the state’s well-known intellectuals who once stood for the change, are pressing for a change once again.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>So what went wrong ?Film and theatre actor Kaushik Sen, for instance, is vocal about his views. Talking to dna, Sen reveals that before last elections, he had maintained that the civil society groups of Bengal should form a separate society, instead of supporting a specific political party.”However, many of us went ahead in supporting the Trinamool Congress. The problem with the ruling party is that it is not exactly a party. It is a kind of club, or a platform which doesn’t have a philosophy,” he says.Sen, since the last few years, has brought out his protest against TMC through a variety of plays like Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Greek playwright Sophocles’ Antigone.He, however, admits that chief minister Mamata Banerjee does have a history and have come up through a lot of struggle.”So even if she has some good intentions, she is surrounded by a bad team. She is not a statesman, because at some point, she will have to accept her team. What has come out of that is not good governance,” Sen says, adding that it reflects in the insecurity of women in the state and has failed to deal with unemployment.”At any given place, political syndicates operate in every sphere without fear. Without a job, most youths here get pulled into these syndicates to act as the local muscleman,” he says.Sen has also organised meetings with neutral people and had held press conferences to create awareness on the subject. He, along with other civil society members and the group ‘Save Democracy’ had recently visited the state election commissioner to complain about the bouts of violence reported in the last three phases of the state polls.Renowned painter Samir Aich, who was also part of the group that went to the EC, admitted that he, like many other citizens of Bengal, wanted a ‘poriborton’ or change in the 2011 West Bengal elections. Aich says the last few years of the left front rule was problematic in many sectors, especially in that of health, education and industries.”The violence went up in the last few years. That’s when Mamata Banerjee came into the picture. People thought she can get residents some relief,” Aich recalls.”I soon realised she has lied. The first instance of that was her comments during the Park Street rape case. Then there was the case of Mir Amirul Islam (social activist), when he self-immolated himself outside the Karaya thana. There are syndicates, rapes and a sense of insecurity everywhere,” Aich, who has made several paintings to voice his protest, said.Aich and Sen, however, did not voiced their support for any political party this election.”Let the masses decided what option they want against the TMC,” Aich says.Talking about options against the TMC, Sen says he has many questions about the Congress and left alliance.”Both the parties have different philosophies, which do not meet. However, if they get a substantial number os seats, they will at least form a strong opposition, which is important for a democracy,” Sen says.Bengali poet Mandakranta Sen, on the other hand, is campaigning for the Congress and CPI(M) alliance. She had addressed many public gatherings and had recited many of her poems which protests against the TMC. Sen had returned her Sahitya Academi award last year protesting intolerance and author MM Kalburgi’s murder.”I never had any expectation from Didi. I knew very well that the TMC will start falling apart within days. Even they knew that and that’s the reason they had rigged every election in Bengal after the assembly elections, whether it was the municipality or the panchayat elections,” she alleged.But is the alliance better than the TMC?Sen says yes, but denied joining party politics. “I have joined politics. There is no getting back from here. But I don’t intend to join any party,” she says.Veteran actor Soumitra Chatterjee, however, thinks differently. “I don’t have any political views. There are few intellectuals who still stand with Trinamool,” he says.And he is right.Mamata Banerjee does have a steady steam of supporters among a separate group of intellectuals. Many of them such as theatre activist Arpita Ghosh, artist Subhaprasanna Bhattacharjee, theatre personalities Shaoli Mitra and veteran painter Jogen Chowdhury have stuck with Banerjee through thicks and thins. Indeed, they have been rewarded handsomely by Didi; they are either an MLA or MP today, or members of different committees with the central government.

Kerala Assembly polls 2016: Sreesanth files nominations from Thiruvananthapuram constituency

Cricketer S Sreesanth was among the 283 candidates who filed their nominations on Thursday for the May 16 Assembly polls in Kerala, taking the total number of nominees in the state to 916. The former Indian pacer is contesting as BJP candidate from Thiruvananthapuram constituency.Malappuram saw the highest number of candidates submitting nominations today at 128, while Pathanmthitta saw the lowest at 23, Election Commission sources said. Tomorrow is the last day for filing nominations.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Scrutiny will take place on April 30 and the last date for withdrawing the nominations is May 2.

How soon can solar power outshine conventional electricity?

Pankaj Pandit, who runs an Indian Youth Hostel franchisee in the Navi Mumbai suburb of Kharghar, decided to switch over to solar energy from conventional power some years back.All he required was to install a one-kilowatt (KW) rooftop solar plant on his terrace. Several quotations for installing such a plant from industry players during the last few years have but failed to enthuse him, and he is yet to close a deal. He says he did several cost analyses, but did not seem to make any economic sense.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Good news is he has seen the economics of making the shift to solar power getting better each year. An avid environmentalist, Pandit says his individual efforts may not have borne fruit, but India’s solar energy economics as a whole, especially for commercial properties and industries, was headed in the right direction.As per his calculation of the net cash flow from one kilowatt of solar photovoltaic (PV) system at the capital cost of Rs 1.56 lakh per unit, he will get paid back in the eighth year at an internal rate of return (IRR) of 8.13%.The flip side is that he will be able to meet just one-third of his total energy requirement of 500 units per month from this solar plant. The Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Co Ltd (MSEDCL) is currently charging him Rs8.5-10.5 per unit as per slab applicable per consumption.Another big challenge for him would be getting his home appliances’ voltage tuned to solar power. For instance, he will have to replace all existing fans at his hostel, which run on alternating current (AC) voltage, to direct current (DC) voltage fans. He will not be able to run his air conditioners (ACs) on solar power as there are no low-intensity current ACs easily available in the market today.”Solar power can be efficiently used for low-intensity current applications like DC lighting, fans, LED flat TVs, but is not practical for high current applications like conventional ACs, TVs, microwaves, water geysers, etc. We will have to look at a hybrid energy solution for my hostel,” he says.Like Pandit, there are many other green enthusiasts who are trying to figure out how to replace fossil fuel electricity with solar energy and are finding that slowly all the pieces are coming together to make it happen.Kushagra Nandan, president and chief operating office of SunSource Energy, which has installed capacity of 10 megawatt (mw) rooftop solar plants in the country till now, says the last couple of years has seen the alternative energy correcting and some signs of stability were now being seen.”India, in the last couple of years, has learned very fast (about the solar power). So, the market has corrected itself. Prices are more or less stabilising. But, it just takes one bidder to come and destabilise the whole thing,” he says.Gaurav Mathur, CEO of Trina Solar India Pvt Limited, which has over one gigawatt (GW) of power plant installations in India, believes that India’s cost competitiveness for producing solar energy has improved over the last five years with tariffs dropping from Rs15-17 per kilowatt-hour (kwh) to Rs 4-5 per kwh.And with the scale of solar plants getting bigger by the day, we could see solar prices in India, which is blessed with abundant sunlight, becoming even more competitive.”As far as tariff is concerned, developers are doing a detailed cost analysis of the (power) plants to see if they can save even a penny. It is the scale (of power projects) that is making them (developers and investors) look at India. Few years back, people were talking of 50 mw, now they are talking of 100-200 mw for a single-location plant,” he says.Until now, Finland’s Fortum Finnsurya Energy has quoted the lowest tariff for solar power at Rs4.34 per kwh for a 70-mw solar plant under National Thermal Power Corporation’s (NTPC) at Bhadla Solar Park.Late last year, US-based SunEdison had won a bid for a 500 mw plant in Andhra Pradesh at Rs 4.63 per kwh. However, many feel these prices may not be unsustainable in the long run.Nandan believes tariffs between Rs5.56 and Rs6.25 per kwh were more financially viable at the current costs.According to him, today less than 1% of India’s total power requirement is being met by solar energy. Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is aiming to reach 100 gigawatt (gw) of solar power production by 2022. Nandan believes this target could be achieved two years in advance in 2020.”The way things are moving, government’s target of 100 gw may be achieved by 2020 itself. Two years ago, we were only 2-3 gw; last year (2015) we were at about 5-6 gw. This year (2016), it is expected to double. The year after that, it will be double or triple. So, there’s going to be a multiplier effect,” he said.India is already on its way to becoming the one of world’s largest solar power hubs with its first solar-powered airport at Kochi in Kerala, the largest 750-mw Rewa Ultra-Mega Solar Power Project in Madhya Pradesh and many more such feats.And as that happens, solar tariffs will only head southwards making it feasible for Pandit to set up his root-top plant soon. Also, as solar production shoots up and reaches the 100 gw, Pandit’s appliances problem could also get solved, as it would then make sense for consumer durable goods firms like LG, Samsung, Sony and others to come to India with DC electric products.

Puducherry polls: Congress releases list of candidates; mentor & protege battle in Rajbhavan

Puducherry: On Monday Congress released its list of 21 candidates for the 16 May assembly polls, which will see a mentor and protege battling it out in the key Rajbhavan assembly constituency.

The opposition party, with seven legislators in the assembly, has refielded PCC leader A Namassivayam in Villianoor.

Among the five refielded is Lakshminarayan, who will take on his mentor P Kannan of AIADMK.

Only two members (Theni C Jayakumar and P R N Tirumurugan) have not been given tickets again.

Jayakumar, elected from Mangalam and Tirumurugan from Karaikal in the last polls, had been distancing himself for the last few years from all Congress sponsored programmes.

Mangalam constituency has been allotted to DMK as per an understanding between Congress and DMK for the coming polls.

Tirumurugan was elected on a Congress ticket in the last polls from Karaikal north. However the seat has now been earmarked to one P Chandramohan by the party.

Representational image. APRepresentational image. AP

Representational image. AP

P Angalane, elected from Tirubhuvanai (reserved) constituency in 2011 on a ruling AINRC ticket, is the Congress nominee in the constituency now. He had quit AINRC some weeks ago in protest against ‘total neglect’ of his constituency.

While most parties have come out with lists of their candidates, the ruling AINRC is still silent, giving room for speculations.

The last date for filing nominations is 29 April.

AIADMK has already released names of its candidates for all the 30 constituencies.

It will be an interesting battle in the key Rajbhavan constituency, when Kannan takes on protege Lakshminarayanan.

Kannan, who for years had been a Congress stalwart, had quit the party and joined AIADMK on 14 February this year.

Lakshminarayanan, who did his legal studies in government law college here, jumped into political arena in 1996, after being groomed by Kannan.

He had also been Education and Tourism Minister when Congress was in power in the past.

Both candidates have started wooing voters in earnest.

Rajbhavan constituency is an enlarged segment after the territorial limits of Cassicade were merged with it as a result of delimitation  in 2011.

Congress is contesting 21 out of the total of 30 seats after earmarking the other nine to alliance partner DMK.

Congress should repent for undermining Ambedkar’s legacy, says PM Modi

Mhow, Madhya Pradesh: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that Congress should “repent” for “undermining” B R Ambedkar’s legacy for 60 years as he reached out to dalits, saying he is working to fulfil the vision of the dalit icon.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTIPrime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

Modi, who had faced attack from Congress for trying to “approporiate” national icons, hit back asking why the successive governments of Congress did not develop the five places associated with Ambedkar during their tenure.

Listing a number of measures that his government is taking to carry forward the vision of Ambedkar including on maritime projects and the empowerment of weaker sections, Modi said,”for so many years, the vision of Ambedkar was undermined.”

“Some persons are distressed why Modi is doing all this. This is a matter of our dedication and conviction. We believe that social harmony can be achieved only by following the path shown by Babasaheb. I feel proud to work at the feet of Babasaheb.”

Referring once again to his humble origins, Modi said that if the son of a woman, who used to fetch water in others’ houses could become Prime Minister, the credit for it goes to Ambedkar.

On his government’s decision to construct a memorial at 26 Alipur Road in Delhi, which was the last home of Ambedkar, the Prime Minister asked the Congress why did it not do so in the last six decades.

“Why did you not do it in the last 60 years? When we are doing it, you are getting uneasy. You should repent over why you did not do this all these years,” the Prime Minister said stepping up his offensive against the Congress.

“Those engaged in vote bank politics thought of nothing else than dividing the society,” he said.

Making a pro-poor pitch, the Prime Minister accused the Congress of doing nothing on this count. “Some people have been calling themselves the messiah of the poor for the last six decades. The account of what they have done for the poor in last 60 years is shocking even as they keep talking of the poor day and night,” Modi said as he highlighted the steps taken by his government in the last
two years like giving LPG connection to the poor and Jan Dhan Yojana.

Modi, whose government has often been accused by Congress of having a corporate bias, stressed that India’s development won’t happen through five or 50 cities and industrialists and that foundation of villages will have to be strengthened for sustainable development while also reiterating his commitment to doubling farmers’ incomes by 2022.

India home to nearly 2,500 tigers representing 70% of global population of big cat species

Efforts to save the tiger have pushed India’s population of the big cat to nearly 2,500, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday said hailing the strides the country has made in this regard.Highlighting the need for protecting tiger corridors, he announced incentivising project proponents to give land for compensatory afforestation in Tiger corridors.As per latest official count, India is home to 2,226 tigers, representing 70% of the global population of the endangered big cat species.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”In the last two years, the number has risen and our rough estimate as of today is that India has nearly 2,500 tigers.””That is a good news for India… (a result) of what we are doing for the last 12 years. We have zero tolerance towards poaching,” Javadekar said at the inauguration of the 3rd Asia ministerial conference on tiger conservation.
ALSO READ India has successful track record of protecting its tigers, says PM ModiHe said that as per WWF estimates, the tiger population the world over has grown from 3,200 to 3,890 in the last five years, a 22% increase.
ALSO READ Wild tiger population increases for the first time in 100 yearsSource: PTI”That is a great good news today morning,” he said, adding that there are only 13 countries with tigers in the wild and six of them have seen an increase in their numbers.”That shows that we are getting success. It was a proud moment for me when we had undertaken a tiger count in 2014…When I wrote 2,226 as India’s tiger count it was fantastic as it was 30% more than the last count. This is 70% of the world tiger population,” he said.Stating that the tiger epitomises the health of the ecosystem, he stressed that success with tiger conservation means the whole ecosystem is improving.”We are taking a historic decision to protect tiger corridors. We will incentivise project proponents to give land for compensatory afforestation in tiger corridors. By such measures over the years, we can free the tiger corridors and these will become forest land,” he said.”We have started a unique experiment with new standard operating procedures (SOPs) for orphaned tiger cubs. This has started yielding results and four such orphaned tigers have been released back into the wild after proper care in ‘in situ’ enclosures,” he said.

Population rebound: India is now a proud host of nearly 2,500 tigers, says Prakash Javadekar

New Delhi: Efforts to save the tiger have pushed India’s population of the big cat to nearly 2,500, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Tuesday, hailing the strides the country has made in this regard.

Highlighting the need for protecting tiger corridors, he announced incentivising project proponents to give land for compensatory afforestation in Tiger corridors.

As per latest official count, India is home to 2,226 tigers, representing 70 per cent of the global population of the endangered big cat species.

“In the last two years, the number has risen and our rough estimate as of today is that India has nearly 2,500 tigers.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“That is a good news for India… (a result) of what we are doing for the last 12 years. We have zero tolerance towards poaching,” Javadekar said at the inauguration of the 3rd Asia ministerial conference on tiger conservation.

He said that as per World Wildlife Fund (WWF) estimates, the tiger population the world over has grown from 3,200 to 3,890 in the last five years, a 22 per cent increase.

“That is a great good news today morning,” he said, adding that there are only 13 countries with tigers in the wild and six of them have seen an increase in their numbers.

“That shows that we are getting success. It was a proud moment for me when we had undertaken a tiger count in 2014… When I wrote 2,226 as India’s tiger count it was fantastic as it was 30 per cent more than the last count. This is 70 per cent of the world tiger population,” he said.

Stating that the tiger epitomises the health of the ecosystem, he stressed that success with tiger conservation means the whole ecosystem is improving.

“We are taking a historic decision to protect tiger corridors. By such measures over the years, we can free the tiger corridors and these will become forest land,” he said.

“We have started a unique experiment with new standard operating procedures (SOPs) for orphaned tiger cubs. This has started yielding results and four such orphaned tigers have been released back into the wild after proper care in ‘in situ’ enclosures,” he said.

Javadekar lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s commitment towards tiger conservation and said he had adopted the best conservation practices during his tenure as the Chief Minister of Gujarat.

“The growing number of lions in Gujarat is a testimony to his efforts,” the minister said.

He also referred to the increase in the budget for Project Tiger from Rs 185 crore to Rs 380 crore, adding that, with the 60:40 participation of states, this increase translates to Rs 500 crore in one year for tiger protection.

Chairman of the Global Tiger Forum and Minister of Agriculture & Forests, Bhutan, Yeshey Dorji, also addressed the
gathering.

Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Ashok Lavasa, delivered the vote of thanks.

Kamla Advani’s cremation to be held tomorrow

The cremation of Kamla Advani, wife of BJP veteran L K Advani, would be held at Nigham Bodh Ghat at 4pm on Thursday.Family sources said that the cremation procession would start from the Prithviraj Road residence of the former deputy Prime Minister at 3 PM and would proceed for the Nigam Bodh Ghat.Kamla, 83, who leaves a son and a daughter besides Advani, complained of uneasiness and breathlessness in the evening and was rushed to the AIIMS where doctors tried to revive her but in vain.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>She was suffering from age-related problems for some time and was on wheelchair for the last few months, family sources said, adding she was also suffering from memory loss.Advani, who was besides her when she breathed her last, always drew tremendous support from her during the ups and downs of his long political career.

586 candidates in fray for first phase of Assam poll

The nominations of 586 candidates have been found valid for the sixty five constituencies going to the poll in the first phase of Assembly elections on April 4. A total of 599 candidates had filed nominations for the first phase.”Out of this, 13 were rejected,” Additional Chief Electoral Officer of Assam Gaurav Bothra told a press conference here. The detailed list and names of the rejected and valid candidates were still coming in from different districts and the final picture would be known by tomorrow, he said. For the second phase of poll on April 11 involving 61 constituencies in the 126-seat Assam Assembly, 35 candidates have filed their nominations till now. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The notification for these seats was issued on March 15, while the last date for filing of nomination is March 22. The scrutiny of these nominations will be done on March 24 and the last date for withdrawing the same is March 26.The counting of votes in all constituencies will take place on May 19.

The Vijay Mallya story: How the King of Good Times made bakras of 17 banks

The flamboyant liquor baron, Vijay Mallya, once hailed as the King of Good Times and Indian version of Richard Branson, is being chased by almost every institution in the country — the banks, regulators and, finally, the judiciary — for the Rs 9,000 crores he owes to the lenders. How did Mallya fall to his current plight, where he is personally held accountable for the failure of the airline business Kingfisher Airlines and delayed repayment of loans? The answer lies in a decision forced on him by lenders in 2010 to give a second lease of life to the airline that was then on the brink of a collapse.

Vijay Mallya with modelsVijay Mallya with models

Vijay Mallya with models

“Mallya had his back against the wall. Banks insisted him to offer personal guarantees for any further lending,” said a retired banker, who was previously with State Bank of India (SBI), on condition of anonymity.

“Otherwise, there was no reason why Mallya is personally held responsible for the repayment of the loan (Rs 9,000 crore now including the accrued interest amount). There are bigger stressed borrowers (companies) around,” the banker said, giving examples like Bhushan Steel and Winsome Diamonds.

The Kingfisher Airline, grounded in 2012, never made profit in its eight years of operations. When Mallya approached the group of lenders for further lending in 2010, there was serious differences of opinion among the group of senior bankers in SBI, and other banks in the consortium, on why should they lend to the airline again. But, the majority decision was to take the big risk again and lend to Mallya.

“It was, in a way, throwing good money after bad (since the KFA exposure was already stressed),” the banker quoted earlier said. “But, if we didn’t do that at that point, the exposure till then would have gone bad instantly. No one wanted that to happen. There was no option before us,” said the official. But, everyone knew what was in the store, though no one said anything in the discussion room. “The mood was partly that of helplessness and partly optimism,” the banker said.

Bankers were optimistic because Mallya himself was hopeful of turning around the airline, even though the entire aviation industry was groping in darkness. Ironically, however, despite Mallya’s optimism, everyone saw the writing on the wall.

Mounting losses

In March 2012, Kingsiher halted its international operations to Europe and Asian countries and cut down local flights to 110-125 a day with a fleet of 20 planes from 340 flights earlier to save money. By October 2012, the bird flapped its wings for the last time. Since then, it hasn’t seen the skies.

Kingfisher, once the second-largest airline in India, had little chances of resuming its operations since the necessary regulatory approvals were not in sight and its balance sheet was bleeding. The company’s losses had widened to Rs 2,142 crore for its fiscal fourth quarter ending in March 2013, compared with a net loss of Rs 1,150 crores a year earlier. The accumulated losses as of March 2013 stood at a whopping Rs 16,023 crore.

Its dues had mounted to over Rs 15,000 –Rs 16,000 crore to banks, airports and others and its flying licences expired at the end of last year. The death bells were begining to ring. In his desperation to revive the airline, Mallya twice submitted revival plans to the aviation regulator, with parent UB Group committing initial funding, but with no luck. In its eight-year life, the airline never made profit even once.

Mallya remained optimistic though not to lose the airline’s licence. “We have not submitted an ambitious plan. We have submitted a holding plan,” Mallya told reporters, while the government wasn’t convinced. “The problem is in the last two to three months, he’s given so many plans and he’s not adhered to any of them,” the then Aviation Minister Ajit Singh told reporters in New Delhi.

Panic grips banks

Panic was beginning to set in in the banking industry, especially state-run banks, which were the majority in the banking consortium. After all, banks had to answer a lot to shareholders not just for further lending to Mallya in 2010, but for offering generous loan recast facilities and converting the debt of Kingfisher to equity at a huge premium.

In early 2011, the bank consortium including SBI had converted debt amounting to Rs 1,400 crore into equity at a 60 percent premium to the prevailing market price. Going by the stock exchange data, on March 31, there was preferential allotment to SBI and ICICI Bank due for conversion of compulsorily convertible preference shares into equity shares at a price of Rs 64.48 each. Remember, on that day, KFA shares closed at Rs 39.90 on the BSE.

“Within a few months, the share value had eroded so much that banks were put in a difficult position,” said the banker quoted earlier. Kingfisher last traded at Rs 1.36 on the BSE on 22 June 2015. The entire loan restructuring exercise to Kingfisher was done without any special dispensation from the RBI, which means that banks had to make heavy provisioning on their books, hoping that the airline will revive sooner or later and pay back the money. That never happened.

Finally, Kingfisher, was declared an NPA by most banks, including SBI, towards the end of 2011 and beginning of 2012. The majority burden of Kingfisher loans was on government-owned banks. The smartest in the lot was ICICI Bank, which managed to sell its entire Rs 430 crore Kingfisher loan exposure to a debt fund managed by the Kolkata-based Srei Infrastructure Finance Ltd in mid-2012. The sarkari banks were the real bakaras in the entire story.

So what lies ahead?

Banks’ chances of getting their money back from Mallya are very less since Kingfisher hardly has any assets left for banks. Even if banks go ahead and sell Kingfisher assets such as the Kingfisher House in Mumbai, it will fetch only a fraction of what is at stake. The only hope for banks is if Mallya himself have a change of mind and decides to pay back banks from his personal wealth (Mallya has shares worth Rs7000 crore in various companies and lot more in fixed assets).

“But, all that will happen if he returns to the country and say he will pay back,” the banker said, adding that bankers are more irked by Mallya flaunting his wealth publicly even now when thousands of crores are at stake. According to reports Mallya already received $40 million of his severance pay fro Diageo before his flew to UK. Can the final battle between banks, led by SBI, and Mallya in Supreme Court and Bangalore DRT result in lenders getting their money back. Chances are less.

(Kishor Kadam Contributed to this story)

Election Commission tweaks Assam assembly polls schedule

The Election Commission on Wednesday tweaked the date of filing nominations for the second phase of assembly elections in Assam as it was clashing with the biennial polls to two Rajya Sabha seats in the state.Congress in Assam earlier today urged the Commission to reschedule the March 21 Rajya Sabha elections citing the issue. The nomination process of assembly polls in the state begins next month. “On the due consideration of the matter, the Commission has decided to slightly modify some of the dates for the second phase of the general election to the Legislative Assembly of Assam whereby there is a change in the date of notification, last date of making nomination and date of scrutiny,” the EC said in a statement.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Now, instead of March 14, the notification for phase 2 will be issued on March 15 and the last date of filing nominations would be March 22 instead of March 21. The last date of withdrawing nominations will remain the same — March 26 and the poll will be held as announced on April 11. Earlier in the day, in a memorandum submitted to the Commission, the state unit of Congress said March 21 is the last date of withdrawing nominations for the first phase of assembly elections on April 4 and the last date of filing of nominations for the second phase of polls on April 11.Biennial elections to 13 Rajya Sabha seats in six states, including Assam and Kerala, will be held on March 21. 12 of the 13 seats are falling vacant in April. In Assam, both the seats falling vacant belong to Congress. Rajya Sabha members are elected by the elected members of the Legislative Assembly in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote. The party said since MLAs would be busy with electioneering and nomination process, they would find it difficult to reach Dispur to cast their votes for the Rajya Sabha polls.

He’s a real-life villain: BJP MP Yogi Adityanath hits back at Anupam Kher

BJP MP Yogi Adityanath has hit back at Bollywood actor Anupam Kher for his remarks about him at the Telegraph Debate where he said that the likes of ‘Yogi and Sadhvi should be thrown out of the party for speaking nonsense. Hitting back at Anupam Kher, Yogi Adityanath called him a ‘real life villain’. He was quoted saying by a daily: “Everyone knows about the character of a villain. Kher is not only a reel life villain, but also in real life. I don’t want to say anything more on his statement made in Kolkata.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Incidentally, Sadhvi Prachi isn’t a member of the BJP and even the VHP, which she was part of, has disassociated themselves from her. Anupam Kher had said in the Telegraph Annual Debate: “There are some people in the party (BJP) who speak nonsense, and ill-behave, whether it is Sadhvi or Yogi…they should be put behind bars, thrown out of the party (…Hain kuch log aise party mein jo bakwas karte hain, chahe wo Sadhvi hon ya Yogi ho, unko andar kar dena chahiye aur unko nikal dena chahiye),” Kher said.”…But, you can’t play with the entire country and say that we have intolerance here (…magar aap pure desh ke saath khilwad nahin kar sakte ki hamare desh meyn intolerance hai,” he said.He was speaking at the Telegraph National Debate on intolerance. The noted actor also attacked Congress, saying people in the rival party speak “the most of awful things.” “Your MP Digvijayaji had said about another MP the most awful things…Nothing can be more detestable than that. I have not brought the list of who spoke what, and I am not defending those who speak nonsense,” he said.BJP MP Yogi Adityanath and right-wing leader Sadhvi Prachi have courted controversies in the past for their inflammatory statements drawing sharp reactions from several quarters.”This is a no debate. The rich and the famous are talking of intolerance. If you ask a man on the street, he won’t talk about intolerance. All they want is food two times a day. Those with a champagne glass are only talking about it. Are you living in India or America,” Kher had said. Speaking at ‘The Telegraph National Debate, Anupam Kher said that there was no intolerance and it was only talked about by rich people drinking champagne. Kher said: “This is a no debate. The rich and the famous are talking of intolerance. If you ask a man on the street, they won’t talk about intolerance. All they want is food two times a day. Those with a champagne in a glass are only talking about it. Are you living in India or America.”He said the “biggest” form of intolerance in the country was during the emergency when all those people who spoke against the government were jailed. Mocking Rahul Gandhi, he said, “Congress is the most tolerant in India because they are tolerating a person whom they want to project as a prime minister of this country”. He added that he would vote for Rahul if he became 1/10th of what PM Modi was.”If you can tolerate that person then you can tolerate anything in the world. This is ridiculous. Did you hear the word intolerance before the last eight months? This has been marketed to take revenge for the defeat in the last elections,” Kher said, adding, corruption is “not being talked about” in the last two years while in the last ten years, corruption was the most talked about topic.”

It’s only ‘champagne liberals’ who talk about intolerance: Anupam Kher

Only the rich and the famous are talking of intolerance, there is no debate on the issue, actor Anupam Kher on Saturday claimed.”This is no debate. The rich and the famous are talking of intolerance. If you ask a man on the street, they won’t talk about intolerance. All they want is food two times a day. Those with a champagne in a glass are only talking about it. Are you living in India or America,” Kher said at the Telegraph National Debate on intolerance in Kolkata.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said the “biggest” form of intolerance in the country was during the emergency when all those people who spoke against the government were jailed.Mocking Rahul Gandhi, he said, “Congress is the most tolerant in India because they are tolerating a person whom they want to project as a prime minister of this country”.”If you can tolerate that person then you can tolerate anything in the world. This is ridiculous. Did you hear the word intolerance before the last eight months? This has been marketed to take revenge for the defeat in the last elections,” Kher said, adding, corruption is “not being talked about” in the last two years while in the last ten years corruption was the most talked about topic.AICC spokesman Randeep Surjewala said in the last two years it has often appeared that intolerance is now part of the mainstream discourse.Bollywood actress Kajol said there are different types of intolerance and political intolerance is only one of them.”To make all social issues a political one is absolutely wrong. I also think that We have to work together to make a stronger and richer India and only then intolerance cease to exist. The debate on intolerance does not recognise this,” she said.

Army reviewing its resources to cut non-operational flab

The government on Friday said it wanted the 1.18 million strong Army to shift to simulations and automation in non-combat role training and day to day operations to cut down on flab and bring cost effectiveness.Defence minister Manohar Parrikar told reporters here that the government has asked Army to do a review of its existing manpower and infrastructure and list out areas where the pruning can be done.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Parrikar was replying to a question on the long term effects of having defence modernisation funds lesser than the defence pensions, as earmarked in the latest annual budget, announced on February 29.”Training not directly linked with combat roles like heavy vehicle driving, for example, can be done on simulators largely. Similarly, the role of mobile operators can be pruned by bringing automation,” he said.Ärmy confirmed that the review process is on and on many counts, the initiative has already been taken.”We have introduced simulations in firing practices where not just firing of the shots, but even the topography can be imitated. Besides, there are other areas like mechanical mine laying and making bridges where we have moved forward in bringing automation. We can look at other areas too where supplies – packaging and distribution can be automated,” said a senior official.The capital expenditure outlay for the Defence services in the latest budget has been put at Rs 78,586 crore as compared to the last year of Rs 86,894 crore. Towards pension funds, on the other hand, Rs 82,000 crore has been allocated but notably, that goes mainly for the beneficiaries of the One Rank One Pension scheme notified in the last fiscal year.

At least 310 lions died in Gujarat in last five years

Gujarat, the last abode of the Asiatic lions, has lost over 300 lions, including cubs in the last five years, the state Assembly was informed on Friday.Forest Minister Mangubhai Patel, in a written reply, said 310 lions, including cubs, as well as 547 leopards died due to natural or unnatural causes in the last five years (as on March 2015). He was replying to a written query submitted by Tejashree Patel (Congress) during the ongoing budget session of the Assembly.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Of the 310 lions, 25 died due to unnatural reasons and number of leopards falling in this category stood at 121. The causes of unnatural deaths varied from falling into open wells, being hit by trains or vehicles to electrocution, the minister said.Replying to a related question raised by the Congress MLA, the government said six lions and cubs have died after being hit by trains outside Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, the last abode of the big cats.Four leopards and five crocodiles met the same fate on railway tracks during the last five years, it said.To a question by Raghavjee Patel (Congress), the minister said, as many as 10 lions died after they were swept away in flood waters in Bhavnagar and Amreli district during the June 2015 deluge in Saurashtra region.Patel maintained that various measures are being taken to save these wild cats from mishaps. These included covering open wells with parapet wall, building speed breakers on roads near the sanctuary, putting fence on both sides of rail tracks on some routes and identifying electric fences illegally put up by farmers near the reserves to stop lions from entering in their fields, he said.

Jat agitation: Prakash Singh panel to visit Rohtak today

The Prakash Singh committee set up by the Manohar Lal Khattar Government to inquire into the acts of ?omission and commission? civil and police officers during the Jat quota agitation is set to visit Rohtak today.The panel headed by retired IPS officer Prakash Singh, will visit the affected areas of the district and interact with both civil and police officers.It would also meet people of different sections of the society and seek information about the role of the officers.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Meanwhile, the Haryana government has fixed March 5 as the last date for submission of claims by those whose properties were damaged in the incidents of violence and arson during the Jat agitation for quota.”The last date would be March 5. As March 4 and 5 are holidays, all departments concerned have been asked to make necessary arrangement for receiving claims on both these days,” a government statement said.These departments will also ensure that the interim compensation is paid or released within four days of the receipt of claims. The remaining compensation will be paid within 15 days, it said.

Budget 2016: India’s defence budget sees a hike of 9.76 %

India’s defence budget outlay for the financial year 2016-17 was announced to be Rs2.58 lakh in the annual budget laid down in Parliament by finance minister Arun Jaitley on Monday.While this amounts to a meagre hike of 1.16 percent on the basis of the budget estimates of 2015-16, but on being calculated against the revised estimates of the last fiscal which was Rs2.33 lakh crore, it comes around an increase of 9.76 percent.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The capital expenditure outlay for the defence services has been put at Rs78,586 crores as compared to the last year of Rs86, 894 crores. Even as the revised estimate for last financial year showed unused fund of Rs11,595 crore, another Rs6,700 crore of the expenditure budget remained unspent.Another Rs82,000 crore was allocated towards pension funds, that goes mainly for the beneficiaries of the One Rank One Pension scheme, notified in last fiscal. An amount of Rs60,238 crore was the revised estimate under pensions, last financial year.Adding the pension funds makes the total defence budget accounting for 2.2 percent of India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) that still lags by 0.8 percent for India to be able to take on China militarily, according to experts.India’s defence budget share was 1.74% of country’s GDP in 2015-16.There were anxious moments in the Parliament on Monday since Jaitley didn’t mention the defence outlay in his speech, which came as a break from the tradition in more than 15 years.

‘Make In India’ is more nationalistic than realistic, says US varsity chancellor

The ‘Make in India’ slogan seems more nationalistic than realistic and adequate infrastructure and logistics and properly-tuned bureaucracy are needed to make the strategy real, says the Indian-origin chancellor of a leading US university.In an interview, University of California Chancellor Pradeep K Khosla, who was in India, speaks on a range of issues including the NDA government’s flagship programmes like Make in India and startups. Excerpts of the interview:<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>What is your experience and understanding about the slogans ‘Start up India, Make in India’?I have to tell you a little story. Recently I was standing outside a Pan-IIT meeting and I saw 10-12 young students all in their last year or so ready to graduate. So I stop those guys and say, it is so good you will graduate, but who will you go and work for?Not one, not even one of them named any company that you know of. Each and every one of them wanted to do a start-up.At that time something occurred to me that there is something fundamentally changing in this country and what was changing was that especially in the IITs was this notion of a can-do attitude where you did not have to work for anybody you could build your own start up, build your own company, get your own wealth. I am really bullish of the start-up strategy in India.So are start-ups now managing to distribute wealth in India?So when I was growing up that was long time ago, a few families, really a handful controlled all the wealth in India.I look back now most of the people I have met have made their money in the last 15-20 years, that is the power of information technology, how it has transformed the country, generated wealth spread wealth, and distributed wealth.More people today can afford more things than what they could when I was growing up and I was in a middle class family. What I could afford then is what a poor person can afford today.There is this talk of ‘make in India’ and a lot of people say you can’t make in India till you discover or invent in India, you are a scientist what do you think of that?I think there is some truth to that, to understand that you have to look at for example China. China became a low cost manufacturing hub especially for electronics some 20-25 years ago. But China just did not stop there, it then invested in its universities. It also invested in research.Today China is the number two producer of research after the US in the world. In India that is not the case, India never built a manufacturing base in the broad sense of the term. I think ‘make in India’ makes some sense but the slogan seems more nationalistic rather than realistic because you need to ask yourself, do we have the infrastructure, the logistics, the bureaucracy tuned properly to create the make in India strategy real.

Netaji’s Japanese interpreter confirms plane crash: UK website

A Japanese interpreter confirmed that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose died at a military hospital in Taipei after a plane crash in 1945, according to information released by a UK website set up to catalogue the last days of the nationalist leader.Kazunori Kunizuka, who worked as an interpreter with Bose from 1943 to 1945, is still alive and has recorded in graphic detail in his diary the last days of Bose and his death as a result of a plane crash at Taipei on August 18, 1945, said the website bosefiles.info. The information was conveyed to the website by Noburu Okabe, London correspondent of the Sankei Shimbun newspaper, who also handed over a copy of the diary to the website.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ashis Ray, Bose’s grandnephew and creator of the website, said “The diary is in Japanese. We will get it translated and post relevant portions from it in due course”.According to Okabe, Kanizuka is 98 years old and lives in an old people’s home in Kobe in Japan. Okabe has met him and testified the diary unequivocally confirms Bose’s demise in a Japanese military hospital in Taipei after the air tragedy. Earlier when Ray visited Taipei, he met Yukichi Arai, son of Captain Keikichi Arai, a Japanese army officer who was one of seven survivors (of an estimated total of 14 passengers and crew, including Bose, on the flight) of the crash. Captain Arai died in 1971.However, he, too, recorded in his diary that Bose succumbed to injuries suffered in the crash. As per his description, soon after take-off from Taipei the Japanese bomber carrying Bose “immediately lost speed, crashed and went up in flames”. Of the seven survivors, six deposed before either the 1956 Netaji Inquiry Committee or the 1974 Justice G D Khosla Commission or both, including Bose’s most trusted aide de camp Colonel Habibur Rehman and Captain Arai. All six independently submitted Bose died consequent to the crash.Two Japanese doctors Dr Taneyoshi Yoshimi and Dr Toyoshi Tsuruta – and a Taiwanese nurse Tsan Pi Sha – who treated him at the hospital or were by his bedside when he passed away, another interpreter Juichi Nakamura (who personally knew Bose from previous visits to Taipei) and Colonel Rehman, gave eyewitness evidence of Bose’s final moments and of him breathing his last.Also, there are at least three first-hand testimonies of Bose’s cremation at Taipei as provided by Tan Ti-Ti, a Taiwanese who worked at the crematorium and personally prepared the body for the last rites, Ko Keng Yuan, a Taiwanese health official, and Colonel Rehman.Bose died in the air crash in Taipei in 1945, according to documents that form part of 100 secret files, comprising 16,600 pages which were made public by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Bose’s 119th birth anniversary last month.

Error-prone Djokovic survives scare, Serena rocks on | Reuters

MELBOURNE Novak Djokovic’s grip on the Australian Open title looked shaky for a short spell on Sunday but the world number one finally shook off Gilles Simon in a four-and-a-half hour marathon to take his place in the quarter-finals.

Serena Williams, by contrast, booked a re-match of last year’s title decider against Maria Sharapova by sweeping into the quarter-finals without having lost a set, and Roger Federer progressed almost as comfortably to bring the day to a close.

The whiff of an upset hung around Melbourne Park for much of the day — Tomas Berdych, Agnieszka Radwanska and Carla Suarez Navarro all lost opening sets — but it was most potent in Djokovic’s five-setter against Simon.

Djokovic had eased into the fourth round without losing a set as he continued the dominant form that earned him 11 titles, including three of the four grand slams, last year.

Defensive baseliner Simon is a wily campaigner, however, and he elicited 100 unforced errors out of the reigning champion in his 6-3 6-7(1) 6-4 4-6 6-3 defeat.

Hurtling around the arena on legs that have always looked too spindly to take the kind of punishment they regularly endure, the 31-year-old Frenchman absorbed Djokovic’s power and timed his shots to perfection to hurl it back at the Serbian.

Djokovic has not won five titles at Melbourne Park without being able to negotiate a scrap, however, and despite a string of fluffed drop shots he reasserted his authority in the final set to reach the last eight for a 27th successive grand slam. [L3N15804P]

“I honestly didn’t expect to make this many unforced errors. In terms of a level that I’ve played, it’s the match to forget for me,” said Djokovic.

“When you’re playing someone like Simon … you’re trying to cut down on the length of the rallies, go for a winner or go for a dropshot. Sometimes you have a brain freeze, if I can call it that.”

Djokovic’s next opponent, Japan’s Kei Nishikori, must have enjoyed every last minute of the match as he rested up after a straightforward 6-4 6-2 6-4 victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Nishikori was humiliated 6-1 6-1 in his last meeting with Djokovic in November and will be hoping to avenge that defeat and revive memories of his stunning upset of the Serbian in the semi-finals of the 2014 U.S. Open.

“In London, he kind of destroyed me,” the seventh seed said. “I hope I can make some changes and try to play better. Yeah, I’m ready to beat him again.”

Williams lost her serve for the second time at the tournament in the opening game of her match but that was just about all that went against the American in her brisk 6-2 6-1 demolition of Margarita Gasparyan. [L3N15801T]

“I feel if I can just continue to play well, then it could be good,” the six-times champion said after celebrating her victory with a graceful twirl.

Sharapova was make to work much harder for her 7-5 7-5 victory over teenager Belinda Bencic in the opening match of the day on the main showcourt.

If Djokovic’s high error count was uncharacteristic, the fifth seed’s reliance on her serve to get her out of trouble against the rising Swiss talent was also at odds with perceptions of her game in recent years.

The 28-year-old might need more than 21 aces to end a run of 17 successive defeats against Williams going back to 2004, however.

David Goffin has made great strides over the last couple of years but could still not cope with 17-times grand slam champion Federer.

The 34-year-old Swiss got onto court late but wasted little time in dissecting the Belgian 6-2 6-1 6-4 to set up a meeting with Berdych, who earlier came from behind to beat Roberto Bautista Agut 4-6 6-4 6-3 1-6 6-3.

“I’m pleased with how I played,” said Federer. “David normally gives me a hard time in practice so I was surprised at how well I went.”

Radwanska and Suarez Navarro both had their nerves tested before being able to set up their quarter-final date.

Radwanska was 5-2 down in her deciding set against Anna-Lena Friedsam but the 21-year-old German was reduced to tears when her legs simply gave up on her, allowing the fourth seed to recover for a 6-7 (6) 6-1 7-5 victory.

Tenth seed Suarez Navarro rebounded from an opening set battering to beat Daria Gavrilova 0-6 6-3 6-2 and end Australia’s interest in the women’s draw.

The most welcome recovery of the day was that of Ana Ivanovic’s coach and Andy Murray’s father-in-law, Nigel Sears.

The 58-year-old, who was taken to hospital on Saturday after collapsing in the stands in Rod Laver Arena, was discharged on Sunday and allowed to return home to Britain.

(Editing by Ian Chadband)

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