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Has Sanjay Bhandari fled India? Middleman played havoc with defence sector

The Bofors Scandal that rocked the Rajiv Gandhi government in 1987 brought to light the nefarious presence of middlemen in defence deals. It was a syndicate that brokered big defence deals, flaunted enviable contacts, and wielded immense influence in the corridors of power and bent the rules to its huge benefits. In April 2015, when income tax officials raided a house in a Delhi’s upscale Greater Kailash area, a new face from this intriguing world of ‘defence dealers’ came before the world. The man in question was Sanjay Bhandari, whose contact list stunned investigating agencies.

According to a Hindustan Times report in 2014, after the BJP came to power, “a top secret report of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) listed Bhandari as a close aide of (Robert) Vadra, son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and mentioned that he was friends with the son of a former senior BJP leader”.

File image of Sanjay Bhandari. News18

File image of Sanjay Bhandari. News18

The same report states, “Bhandari’s contact list was so impressive that after the I-T raids, he could send word to Prime Minister Narendra Modi through two influential people to explore possibility of immunity in exchange of information. However, his request received a cold response and he went into a shell, deserted by his powerful friends, including cabinet ministers, senior intelligence officials, industrialists, senior judicial functionaries and power brokers”.

Now a less than two years into the investigation, Bhandari is feared to have fled the country.

According to a report published in the New Indian Express, government sources are suspecting that Bhandari might have fled the country, ditching the investigating agencies. The report states:

Government sources suspect Bhandari might have reached London via Nepal, evading a look -out notice issued against him. Bhandari was earlier stopped from boarding a London-bound British Airways flight in June.  He was charged under sections 3 and 5 of the Official Secrets Act (OSA) by Delhi Police in October after the Income Tax sleuths recovered confidential defence documents during the search operation on his premises in April

Bhandari, who like many of his professional confederates, led a luxurious shadow life and would have been under wraps, notwithstanding the bad timing of his shadow-world being exposed. In an article about Bhandari, Outlook wrote:

Bhandari was barely known to the public even though he led a five-star lifestyle and had a raft of VIP contacts, among them, as enforcement agencies claim, (Vadra), son-in-law of (Sonia). Bhandari’s shadow world would have remained hidden were it not for a routine raid by income-tax officials on some Delhi-based hawala operators early this year. While probing a particular dealer, one entry was for Rs 116 crore, on beh­alf of a Delhi-based company. A probe into this company led them to Bhandari. On 26 April, Bhandari’s offices and houses in Delhi were raided

The clout, reach, influence and access to the highest echelons of power that likes of Bhandari wield can be gauged from the fact of his alleged relation with the most powerful political family of the country. “The documents seized showed, had a range of high-level contacts, was in possession of classified documents from the defence ministry and also had properties in the UAE and London, as well as a Panama-based company. For the media, the focus remained largely on his Vadra link,” stated the Outlook report.

The extent of Bhandari’s ‘reach’ can be assessed by the fact that “documents recovered from Bhandari’s premises reveals that he made investment in two properties in Dubai and London using companies registered in tax haven countries”. The agencies are likely to question individuals linked with Bhandari. As reported by the New Indian Express, Bhandari was in touch with some top guns of the country including a top officer of the finance ministry, who retired from the service last year.

The report goes on to add that the probe that is underway has also put under the scanner ties between Bhandari, a French multinational called the Thales Group and the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS).

While the escape of Bhandari has yet to be authenticated and rests in the realm of ‘fear’, it could prove to be a major embarrassment for the Centre and investigating agencies if these fears fructify and turn to reality. Given that in March this year, liquor baron Vijay Mallya fled to London — causing much criticism to the government, Bhandari’s escape can cause more problems for the government.

The reason for the concern in the ‘feared’ fleeing of Bhandari lies the fact that his escape can derail the investigations into the kickback links between politicians, businessmen and the intermediaries running this illegal multi-million-dollar commission syndicate in the country’s defence sector.

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 16:01 IST

Himalayan earthquakes can rattle big cities: Iain Stewart

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>During his recent visit to India, eminent geologist Iain Stewart paid a visit to Mumbai’s St Xavier’s College, where he spoke about potential natural disaster risks India faces. Stewart was on a lecture tour across India covering eight cities, organised by the British Council of India.Stewart, often described as the rock star of Geology, focuses on building communication bridges to spread awareness on the natural risks of life on the planet. India has two levels of risks, Stewart said at the event. “Over the centuries, foothills of the Himalayas have had several big earthquakes. In peninsular India you can get rogue events like the 1983 Latur quake or the Bhuj earthquake in 2001. But, in terms of risks, the real threat lies in the Himalayan region. If the Himalayan earthquakes are big enough, they can rattle some big cities in India, including Delhi” says Stewart.According to Steward, while India has some fantastic earthquake specialists, his major concern is public preparedness for a potential earthquake or a tsunamis or super cyclones that Mumbai may be predisposed to.“Climate change is altering the storm paths and intensities of cyclones, so the risk factor goes up. We already know that the Indian Ocean can have tsunamis. But the public, already grappling with manyissues, will probably get tired if we talk about a greater tsunami risk. They would just add it to the list as they go about managing their day-to-day struggles. This makes communicating the risks a major challenge,” he points out.A Fellow of the Geological Society of London and President of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, he teaches Geoscience Communication at the University of Plymouth. Stewart has also hosted programmes for the BBC, including the BAFTA-nominated Earth: The Power of the Planet.

Meet the brains behind Hult Prize India, a Clinton global initiative

The Hult Prize India last few years have been an interesting journey. The seed was sown with formation of Aravindam Foundation for education of slum children and rural women in 2008. Ewelina Janus, management consultant from Poland, visiting India, joined hands with Lokesh Abrol, Specialist Physician in Gurgaon to establish the Aravindam Foundation Gurukul for slum children in Kamdhenudham Gaushala, established by Dr. Abrol and awarded as a model in the country. Abhimanyu Abrol, then an Architecture student at IIT Kharagpur, created the design. They were soon joined by a regular stream of volunteers, both Indian and foreigners. Ewelina applied social enterprise techniques to minimise expenses and develop revenue generation plans. Within two years, the India faction we had two centres and several courses running.

Hult is the family name of Swedish born entrepreneur and billionaire, Bertil Hult, one of Europe’s leading entrepreneurs who founded EF Education First, the largest private education company in the world.

Excerpts from an email interaction with Lokesh Abrol

How did you get involved with the Hult Prize Foundation?

Abhimanyu and his team at IIT Kharagpur prepared for The Hult Prize in 2015. They turned to Aravindam for inspiration and mentoring. It was exciting to work with bright youngsters full of energy, confidence and ideas. The team represented India at the San Francisco Regional finals. Abhimanyu got a special invite to The Hult Prize Retreat at London, where he met Ahmad Ashkar, the Hult Prize founder CEO and proposed an India chapter. One year later, we got a call and Hult Prize India was born in August 2016 with Ewelina (Aravindam Managing Director) as the India National Director and Aravindam Directors, Abhimanyu and me as the Hult Prize India Directors.

What does your job entail?

The Hult Prize India was born when the 2016 action was already on. We had to play catch up, running literally round the clock, against time. There was the first task of reaching out to campuses to enhance participation. We managed a 400 percent growth. The campus director applications had to be screened, appointments made, webinars organised, questions answered, volunteers and mentors gathered and motivated, website and Facebook presence and content created, agreements prepared, discussed and signed. While this was still happening, the next round of guiding campus directors to create teams, run seminars and organise jury and campus level events, started. We sought out students with past experience, for assistance. There was the additional challenge of each one of us investing full time in addition to our existing full time occupations. It became double full time for each one of us.

How has it been working with the Hult Foundation?

Before we could catch our breath, the responsibility of organising the national event came up. We started shortlisting and approaching prospective sponsors, partners and judges while planning logistics and event format. Simultaneously, regular meetings, brainstorming and discussions had to be on with the central team across time zones, almost always squeezing in hours taken from our regular jobs, meal times or the ever scarce sleep hours, to ensure that Delhi, London, Boston, San Francisco and Mexico members could be on video call at the same time. There were situations when Cesar would be at a Mexican airport, Ewelina at Krakow city centre, Abhimanyu pacing outside his office in London, Amanda waking up in San Francisco and me trying to keep awake in Gurgaon! It has never been short of an exciting roller coaster with barely a minute to spare ever since the Hult Prize swept us like a tsunami. Do we love it? Of course, we love surfing the great waves. We love being at the heart of action, creating the next wave of social entrepreneurs.

How are the India directors and judges selected for this prize?

The Hult Prize Foundation has partnered with the Aravindam Foundation to establish the Hult Prize India. The India Directors are Ahmad Ashkar and Cesar Delvalle from the parent body in USA and Ewelina Janus, Abhimanyu Abrol and me from the Aravindam in India. There is provision for two directors from sponsors of Hult Prize India.

The campus directors in universities are students selected after a process of online applications, screening and finally interviews in person or tele and video conferencing. Judges are academia, entrepreneurs, Impact investors, financial experts, corporate leaders and social activists invited on the basis of credentials.

How many colleges are participating for Hult Prize 2017?

Around 50+ colleges are participating. The number of colleges was 4 in 2014 and 12 in 2015.

What has been the reaction of colleges and students?

The premier Indian colleges are the most enthusiastic about the Hult Prize. The Hult prize participations are led by students. As the word spreads, we are approached by students from other campuses asking about participation. We do not have to approach college administrations in most situations. The students take it upon themselves to involve their professors and directors. They, in turn, are more than willing to get their students the great international connect, outlook, network, learning and real life experience of Social and entrepreneurship that comes with the Hult Prize.

We have nearly all the IITs, IIMs, all campuses of ISB and BITS, XLRI, SRCC, MDI, IIFT, Jadhavpur University, Christ University, VIVA college, Manipal University, Welingkar, NMIMS, Somaiya institute, Symbiosis and more on our roll.

How many Indians have won the Hult Prize in the past?

Several Indians representing colleges in India and abroad. Manish Rajan, representing an Indian College – ISB Hyderabad won the nanohealth in 2014. Nanohealth from ISB Hyderabad in 2014 led by Manish Ranjan

Akanksha Hazari from M.Paani won it in 2011.
M.Paani 2011. Akanksha Hazari

Sonia Kabra from Earlham College, Team magic Bus, won it in 2016.

What does it take to be a Hult prize winner?
The ability to build as opposed to identify great social ventures is what differentiates the Hult Prize from any other platform in the world. The Hult Prize winners bring entrepreneurship skills to social objectives. They make ‘Purpose’ with ‘Profit’ their objective. It is not charity. It is doing good while enhancing dignity. The winners understand and believe that ‘doing good is good business’. Those motivated by bottom lines while being concerned about those at the bottom, have it in them, to be Hult Prize winners.

Hult Prize winners have gone onto create the largest alternative protein industry in micro-livestock, the world’s largest distributor of solar lights, health access to all and India’s fastest growing loyalty and rewards program targeting the world’s poorest.

What has surprised you about Indian students participation?
Participation is on a scale far beyond anywhere else. There is remarkable awareness of social issues, a great motivation to do good and innovative ideas to achieve the objectives. The ideas are close to ground reality and practicality.
The next step of packaging the ideas into salable and scalable models will happen effortlessly as the students open up to mentors and peers around the world. Indian students quickly adapt to the international environment of the Hult Prize and leverage their knowledge and experience of ground realities of deprivation.

Which innovation/s, even though it did not win the prize, stood out or resonated with you? Why?
A few them were interesting. Tembo (Elephant in Swahili) from University of Tampa, USA proposed using cellphone air time as currency to motivate parents in Africa to learn lessons sent by text messages and teach them to their kids. The parents get free air time if they pass a quiz each week.

The Kajoli model of self learning by Prof. Shamsul Bari coupled with mother’s skills and loyalty program proposed by Team Veditum of IIT Kharagpur where kids learn by the Kajoli at a centre while the mother’s learn, produce and sell traditional crafts through an e-commerce platform while they wait for their children.

The Hult Prize is about ‘empowering business minds to pursue purpose’ says Ahmad Ashkar, the Founder CEO. We empower brilliant minds to invest in doing good and to have healthy bottom lines so that the doing good is scalable and sustainable. That is the way to bring the benefits to many more people in under-served communities. There is greater dignity in empowerment than in charity. This is what the millennial generation understands. These are the generation of achievers who are in their finest when helping others while enhancing themselves. The ‘larger good’ and the ‘bottom lines’ become mutually complementary rather than ‘mutually excluding’.

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 17:05 IST

JK Rowling illustrated manuscript sells for $467,000 at auction | Reuters

LONDON A rare book hand-written and -illustrated by “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling sold for $467,000 at auction in London on Tuesday, at the lower end of its estimated price range.”The Tales of Beedle the Bard” is one of six copies that Rowling made as presents to those who helped bring her magical world of wizards and witches to life. The copy sold on Tuesday, bound in brown Morocco leather and adorned with silver, was presented to editor Barry Cunningham, who published Rowling’s spellbinding debut, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”, and carries a personal dedication from her.

The volume of five wizarding fairy tales – left to Hermione Granger by Albus Dumbledore in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” – had a price estimate of 300,000-500,000 pounds ($380,000-634,000). Sotheby’s auction house said in a statement that it had been sold for 368,750 pounds ($467,400) to an anonymous telephone bidder.

A seventh copy, made for an auction in 2007 to raise money for the author’s charity, Lumos, raised 1.95 million pounds.

(Reporting By Sara Hemrajani and Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 23:09 IST

India among world’s top five defence spenders overtaking Saudi Arabia and Russia: Report

London: India is among the world’s top five defence spenders with its military budget at USD 50.7 billion, overtaking Saudi Arabia and Russia, according to a new report released on Monday.

The US, China and the UK remain the top three defence spenders while India has the fourth largest military budget, followed by Saudi Arabia and Russia, according to the ‘2016 Jane’s Defence Budgets Report’, released by research firm IHS Markit.

India spent USD 50.7 billion this year on defence, up from USD 46.6 billion last year.

The report said that India is set to overtake Britain with the third-largest defence budget by 2018 as a result of its modernisation drive.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The US remained way ahead of the world with a budget of USD 622 billion, followed by China at USD 191.7 billion while the UK spent USD 53.8 billion on defence this year, Saudi Arabia USD 48.68 billion and Russia USD 48.44 billion.

After three years of budgetary constraints, the definitive UK-based defence magazine forecasts that Indian spending will rise from USD 38 billion in 2010 to USD 64 billion in 2020.

“Procurement spending has been constrained in India over the last three years as personnel costs have increased. However, what we expect to see from 2017 onwards is a military focused on modernisation. India needs new equipment to fulfill its modernisation drive. Over the next three years, India will re-emerge as a key growth market for defence suppliers,” said Craig Caffrey, principal analyst for Asia-Pacific at ‘IHS Janes’.

The worldwide outlook shows that global defence spending rose by 1 per cent to USD 1.6 trillion this year, against 0.6 per cent in 2015.

This rise has been attributed largely to strategic threats posed by Russia and the Islamic State terror group in
the Middle East.

“Defence spending returned to a healthy rate of growth in 2016, kicking off what we expect to be a decade of stronger global defence spending,” said Fenella McGerty, principal analyst at ‘IHS Janes’.

By 2020, China is forecast to be spending more than the whole of western Europe on defence and by 2025, more than all the states in the Asia-Pacific region combined.

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 19:16 IST

Russian doping conspiracy benefited over 1,000 competitors | Reuters

By Mitch Phillips
| LONDON

LONDON More than 1,000 Russian competitors across more than 30 sports were involved in an institutional conspiracy to conceal positive doping tests as Moscow ‘hijacked international sport’, an independent WADA report said on Friday. The second and final part of the report for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) by Canadian sports lawyer Richard McLaren provided exhaustive evidence of an elaborate state-sponsored doping scheme operated by Russia’s Sports Ministry.It included switching and changing samples by opening “tamper-proof” bottles – using a method devised by the Russian secret service – and numerous other methods to bypass and cover up drugs tests.”We are now able to confirm a cover-up that dates back until at least 2011 that evolved from uncontrolled chaos to an institutionalised and disciplined medal-winning conspiracy,” McLaren told a news conference on Friday. “It was a cover-up of an unprecedented scale and this report shows the evidence that increases the number of athletes involved, as well as the scope of the conspiracy. “We have evidence revealing that more than 500 positive results were reported as negative, including well-known and elite-level athletes and medal winners, who had their positive results automatically falsified.”Over 1,000 athletes competing in Summer, Winter and Paralympic sport can be identified as being involved in or benefiting from manipulations to conceal positive tests.”WADA president Craig Reedie called the findings “alarming” and said the report would be of immediate value to sporting bodies responsible for punishing doping cases.But Russia showed no sign of accepting the report’s conclusions.The Sports Ministry said it would study the WADA report and cooperate fully with anti-doping bodies, but “denies that any government programmes exists to support doping in sport”.”UNFOUNDED ACCUSATIONS”

Athletics chief Dmitry Shlyakhtin declined to comment directly on the report because he said he had not seen it. He conceded that Russian athletics’ problems “did not start yesterday”, but said it had now fulfilled all the demands made of it.The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Wednesday extended provisional sanctions against Russian sport over the scandal, and an international ban on its track and field athletes remains in force pending a reform of its anti-doping programme.Yelena Isinbayeva, double Olympic pole vault champion and newly-elected head of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency supervisory board, said shortly before the report was released: “It is well known to us that many foreign athletes have a history of doping but compete at an international level with no problems.”If we want to clean up world sport, let’s start … we don’t need to concentrate on just one country.”Dmitry Svishchev, a member of parliament and president of Russia’s Curling Federation, said: “We haven’t heard anything new. Unfounded accusations against us all. If you are Russian, they accuse you of all sins.”McLaren accepted that there could be widespread doping elsewhere, though not on the same level as in Russia, the sole focus of his investigation.

McLaren pointed out that Russia had won 24 gold, 26 silver and 32 bronze medals at London 2012 and no Russian athlete had tested positive.”Yet the Russian team corrupted the London Games on an unprecedented scale, the extent of which will probably never be fully established,” he said.”For years, international sports competitions have unknowingly been hijacked by the Russians. Coaches and athletes have been playing on an uneven field.” Forensic investigations by his team detailed how a bank of clean urine samples was kept in a Moscow laboratory, where salt and coffee were added to try to fool officials testing “B samples” in supposedly tamper-proof bottles. DNA MISMATCHES

The report included evidence of DNA mismatches, where a tampered B sample did not match the DNA of previous specimens, and of samples that contained a mixture of male and female urine. It added that analysis of the samples from four Russians who won gold in Sochi had shown salt readings that were physiologically impossible, while there was evidence that the samples of 12 Russian Sochi medallists had been tampered with.More than 1,100 items of evidence contained in the report have now been made available to the public at the website here, including details and pictures of how microscopes were used to detect the tiny scratch marks made when opening the “tamper-proof” sample bottles.Friday’s report provided extensive evidence to support the original July report, which said Moscow had concealed hundreds of positive doping tests ahead of the Sochi Winter Games in 2014.The IOC declined to impose a blanket ban on Russia competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics, letting international sports federations decide which athletes should be allowed to compete. Only athletics and weightlifting banned the entire Russian teams.The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) did ban Russia completely from its Rio games, however, and said on Friday the full findings of the report were “unprecedented and astonishing” and “strike right at the heart of the integrity and ethics of sport”.McLaren accepted that Russian authorities had taken many steps since his first report, removing several officials who had been involved in the cover-up, setting up a new anti-doping commission and proposing a “gold standard” doping control regime.However, when asked about the comments of Svishchev and Isinbayeva, he said: “The findings are not challengeable … my impression is that there is a certain embedded cultural aspect to what has been going on, so there probably does need to be cultural change.”That doesn’t mean change won’t occur, but it might take longer than a few months or a year.” (Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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

First Published On : Dec 9, 2016 21:05 IST

Jayalalithaa health update: TN CM on ECMO – all you need to know

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Apollo Hospitals said this evening that a team of its doctors and those from AIIMS were continuously monitoring the health of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and denied as “totally baseless and false” reports that she was no more. “Some TV channels are wrongly reporting that the Honourable CM is no more. It is totally baseless and false. They are advised to rectify this mistake based on this press release,” the hospital said in a statement after news channels reported that the AIADMK leader was no more. With the health of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa deteriorating, party MLAs are scheduled to meet later this evening apparently to chalk out the next course of action. Earlier in the day also the AIADMK MLAs had met at Apollo Hospital, where Jayalalithaa is undergoing treatment, and reportedly discussed the leadership issue among other matters.Though party sources did not reveal the agenda of the meeting scheduled in the evening, they, however, confirmed that the legislators would discuss key matters. According to doctors, the condition of Jayalalithaa, who suffered cardiac arrest, is very “grave”. AIADMK has a total of 136 MLAs in the 234-member House, including Jayalalithaa, who represents Dr Radhakrishnan Nagar here.68-year-old Tamil Nadu supremo Jayalalithaa is wired up from head to toe inside the High Dependency Unit of private-run Apollo Hospital in Chennai. After she is said to have suffered a cardiac arrest on December 4 evening, she was transferred on Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) machine.Dr Richard Beale, Intensivist at London Bridge Hospital who had been monitoring her condition said in a written statement, “She had been doing well. Inspite of the progress she was making, her underlying health conditions inevitably meant that the risk of further problems always remained. She is now on extra corporeal life support.”Outcomes of patients on ECMO are poor, said Dr Ramakant Panda, Cardiac Surgeon who had operated on Ex-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2009. “Even if a person recovers it may take weeks, we cannot expect a miraculous overnight change in the patient’s condition.”ECMO explained A sudden cardiac arrest can occur due to multiple reasons, say doctors. “Her lungs had already been compromised, as a result the heart may have weakened. It could be a result or an infection. It could also have been a result of electrolyte imbalance, which leads the levels of Potassium to peak in the body causing an arrest,” said a senior Cardiologist requesting anonymity. In an ECMO procedure, huge cuts are made in the groin area and two thick pipe-like tubes are inserted inside to flush out and pump recycled blood back inside. ECMO machine consists of a pump which mimics the heart and lungs.An endo-tracheal tube is attached along with the ventilator to aid breathing. Leads are attached on chest to monitor heart rate. A line is inserted inside the arm to check on blood pressure. Patient is also put on dialysis and special leads are attached on the head to monitor brain functioning.When the pumping of heart is compromised, organs like kidney, liver and brain may suffer damage and fail. ECMO takes over the heart and lung function, giving them time to heal.“One must understand that ECMO is a support system and not a treatment modality. The machine takes blood out of the body, oxygenates it and returns it back to the body.As ECMO takes on the burden of performing the functions of heart and lungs, it gives temporary rest to the wounded organs to recover. At times patients, even old ones do get revived on ECMO,” said Dr Sandeep Dewan, head of department, Critical Care at Fortis Memorial Research Institute.Doctors said that even when the heart completely collapses, but the patient is put on ECMO within a few minutes, there are chances of revival of the heart over a few days. While in US and Europe, where technologies have advanced of all patients put on ECMO, upto 56% of them bounce back, in India, the survival rates hover between close to 40%.The entire procedure of wiring a patient up for ECMO and fixing the circuit costs upto Rs 3.5 lakhs. Additionally, each day that a patient is on ECMO costs Rs 10,000. It is the last resort for a patient when ventilator support and drugs fail. Dr Dewan has treated 25 patients on ECMO in the past one and a half year of which ten have survived.Jaya illness timeline: September 22 – Jayalalithaa hospitalized and it is maintained that she is recoveringOctober 2 – Dr Richard Beale is flown in from London to advise on her respiratory distress due to infection in lungsOctober 6 – A team from All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi is flown inOctober 7 – It is announced that she is on respiratory support, on nebulisation and antibioticsOctober 21 – It is noted that she is sitting up and is recovering wellNovember 19 – She is shifted to a private room and is said to be responding well without ventilator supportDecember 4 – Earlier in afternoon, AIIMS doctors say she is good to go home, but later in evening suffers cardiac arrestDecember 5 – She is put on ECMO life support, after having tried cardio-pulmonary resuscitation for close to 40 minutes.

Jayalalithaa’s doctor says his prayers and thoughts are with CM

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The condition of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa is “extremely grave”, the London doctor who is being consulted for her treatment said on Monday. “Unfortunately, and in spite of the progress she had made, her underlying health conditions inevitably meant that the risk of further problems always remained,” Dr Richard Beale said in a statement.”The situation is extremely grave, but I can confirm that everything possible is being done to give her the best chance of surviving this shocking event. She is being cared for by a highly multi-disciplinary team and is now on extra corporeal life support.”This is the most advanced level of support available and is the approach the best centres internationally would take in this situation. That this technology is available in Apollo Chennai reflects the high degree of expertise of this centre and, that at all times, Madam has received exceptional care from Apollo and AIIMS care team, which are equal of any in the world,” he said.He said his prayers and thoughts were with the Chief Minister, her family, her carers and the people of Tamil Nadu “at this very difficult time”.

Mumbai-Ahmedabad rail corridor: Need boring leader who gets basics right; not one who dreams of bullet trains

I am writing this column from my family home in Surat, one of India’s oldest and largest cities. Unlike some of the other big cities, like Mumbai, Calcutta, Chennai and even New Delhi, Surat was not built by the British. It was built by Indians and it has a recorded history going back centuries.

It was already a city in the period of the Delhi sultanate and it was the largest provider of tax revenue on the subcontinent in the Mughal period. In 1608, the British first landed here, when it was famous as a big and successful port and trading centre under emperor Jahangir. Three centuries later, though the port shifted to Mumbai, it was still large and famous enough across the world for Leo Tolstoy to write a short story called ‘The coffee house of Surat’. Today Surat is the world’s largest diamond polishing centre (about two thirds of all diamonds found anywhere in the world have passed through Surat). And it is one of the world’s largest textile centres. It has a population roughly the size of London and it has the highest per capita income of any city in India.

A file photo of Narendra Modi, Shinzo Abe. PTIA file photo of Narendra Modi, Shinzo Abe. PTI

A file photo of Narendra Modi, Shinzo Abe. PTI

I am saying all this because it has become almost impossible for me to visit my hometown. From Bangalore, where I now live, there is no flight to Surat. This is because Surat has an airport that is dysfunctional. No private airline flies to the city. Shortly after this government took over, a buffalo walked into the Surat airport and an airplane crashed into it, damaging its jet engine. This flight, the only private one connecting Surat to Mumbai and Bangalore, was discontinued.

Narendra Modi‘s minister for civil aviation Ashok Gajapathi Raju said the beast had come in through a gap in the fence which he ordered would be walled up. But this has not inspired any confidence from the airlines and so they have avoided Surat for the last two years. To get here, I had to first fly to Mumbai and then drive for five hours. The distance is 300 kilometres and the road is part of India’s best highway network, the golden quadrilateral, which connects Mumbai to Delhi. So why does it take five hours to cover this distance? Because just outside Mumbai there is a broken or cracked flyover near a place called Fountain Hotel. It is unsafe to have traffic from both sides go over it together and so automobiles from one side are made to wait, often for over an hour, while the other side is let through. This is a heavily used highway, perhaps the busiest in India, and so the halted cars and trucks form a line many kilometres long.
I asked the man driving the taxi how long this had been the case and he said at least four months, and work on repairing the flyover had not yet begun. When I reached Surat I noticed that another flyover which had collapsed the last time I was visiting, killing 11 people, had still not been rebuilt. It was a brand new structure and two years ago one section of it fell down after the supporting scaffolding was removed. For two years this single piece had not been fixed rendering the flyover, on Surat’s most important road, Athwa Lines, unusable.

This, to at last get to the point I am trying to make, is the same route that India’s bullet train is taking. The high speed rail network starts at Ahmedabad and comes to Surat, which is about mid way, and then to Mumbai. There is no demand from Gujaratis for a bullet train. What they want is airports that are functional. Where animals are not permitted to walk around. They want national highways which have flyovers which are strong enough to carry normal traffic. They want city infrastructure that does not break down before it is built and which is not left unfixed for two years.

What is required is boring leadership that ensures that the basics are right and not genius leadership that dreams of bullet trains. It is remarkable to me that there is such a casual attitude to the development of a historical city that is, as I said earlier, the size of London.

A successful city with India’s highest per capita income (over Rs 4.5 lakh per household in 2008). A city with such poor connectivity, that it is more difficult for me to reach it from Bangalore than it is to fly to London.

First Published On : Dec 4, 2016 08:43 IST

A touch of the special

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>From three to a million lives,” is how Mithu Alur describes the long journey of the NGO ADAPT, formerly called the Spastic Society of India (SSI), on Friday evening. Sitting a few feet away from her in the drawing room of their Colaba home is daughter Malini Chib, an employee with Tata Consultancy Services. Malini, who suffers from cerebral palsy (CP), has come down from London to attend the launch of Alur’s book A Birth That Changed a Nation: A New Model of Care and Inclusion, which was released on Saturday, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. SSI owes its birth to Malini. She is one of the many success stories of the 44-year-old organisation that was set up in 1972 in Colaba, Mumbai, at a time when in India the word spastic was often confused with plastic, and ignorance and discrimination went hand-in-hand.A Birth… of sensibility“The main purpose of the book was to alleviate the sufferings of millions of children tucked away in the remote corners of the country who do not have access to quality health-care services. At the core of this book is a new scientific method of rehabilitation and care developed by SSI in the early 1970s for children with multiple disabilities like CP as well as other physical disabilities, says Alur. After reading this book, Alur feels, parents, especially the mother, should be able to understand what to do with the child — how to carry the child, how to feed him/her and how to teach a kid suffering from a chronic neurological disorder the 3 R’s (reading, writing and numbers). At the same time she emphasises that to reach out to a wider audience, A Birth That Changed a Nation: A New Model of Care and Inclusion needs to be translated in regional languages.One of the key points in the book is the human aspect of being disabled in India, about those who have suffered years of neglect in this country. It narrates stories of how children with a slight modification in curriculum and examination systems, with a little help from skilled teachers and therapists and a close partnership with parents, passed examinations effortlessly. A shining example in this regard is Alur’s daughter Malini, who is an academician with a Master’s degree in Gender Studies from the Institute of Education, University of London.Government policiesIt is important to view SSI’s work against the backdrop of government policies for the country’s disabled population. Curiously, in India, no proper statistics regarding the prevalence and incidence of disability are available.The National Sample Survey Organisation survey in 2002 put the figure of the population suffering from disabilities at 1.85 crore, which was then considered a gross underestimation by experts. The 2011 Census puts the figure at 2.68 crore, a marginal increase from the 2.19 crore estimated after the 2001 head-count exercise. United Nations’ specialists believe that disabled people comprise 10-15 per cent of the current population. Even by conservative estimates, there are 10 lakh spastics in India. Activists have long railed against the raft of legislations such as National Trust Act (1999), Persons With Disability Act (1995), Rehabilitation Council of India Act (1992) and Mental Health Act (1987), as they are essentially discriminatory in nature. The Disabilities Bill, supposed to replace the PDA, is still languishing in cold storage. It has been reported that although the Integrated Child Development Scheme, under the Women and Child Development department, targets disadvantaged population, it has conveniently left out children with disabilities. This has resulted in the exclusion of nearly five million children in the age group of 0-5. This winter session, the Lok Sabha is also scheduled to vote on the Mental Health Care Bill (2013), which is slated to replace its 1987 predecessor. The new Act protects the rights of persons with mental illness and pushes for their access to mental healthcare. Even today in India, a majority of services for the disabled child is delivered through the voluntary sector. Where there are state-supported schools for the specially-abled, it defeats the government’s policy of integration of these children into the educational system. In the absence of institutional support, it is NGOs like SSI that have become crucial to cater to kids with special needs. From the bungalow in Colaba, SSI has spread to 21 centres across India, including the four metros and smaller cities like Pune, Baroda, Tepur, Guwahati, Allahabad and Cochin.SSI and their aim“SSI was built from scratch and it brought about a sea change in an environment where apathy, indifference, hostility and ignorance reigned supreme,” says Dr Samiran Nundy, a renowned surgeon. He is the chairman of the Institutional Review Board set up by Alur to critique the performance of the organisation under 10 domains such as education, treatment and rehabilitation unit, child and parents’ partnership, training of teachers or therapists, and capacity building in the community. Nundy’s wife started SSI in northern India and his mother was instrumental for setting up a centre in Kolkata. “SSI focuses on a multi-disciplinary approach involving a team of doctors, psychologists, special educators, physiotherapists, job counsellors for the overall well being of the child,” says Dr Nundy, who is also Alur’s brother-in-law.SSI is considered a trailblazer for the unique model it developed over the years. It draws inspiration from what Alur witnessed in England when she took Malini for treatment in 1968 since there was no proper facility in India.“The doctors there treated my daughter with love and affection. Their whole approach to us changed our lives. They said Malini has a 150 IQ. Gradually she began walking with a walker, rode a tricycle, swam with a tyre, and began to read and write,” recounts Alur. “In the six years I was in England, I worked hard to get a diploma as a special educator so that I could take proper care of Malini,” she said. Inspired by the principles of nation-building, her relatives closed ranks with her and with the help of the then Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi, she got the premises in Colaba to set up SSI. Nargis and Sunil Dutt became ardent champions of the cause.Right from the birth of SSI, the focus was to train and educate the parents and counsel them for which we introduced a course called home management, she says. “Our approach also emphasises on love and compassion, without which no amount of expertise will work. When the parents became experts, they became equal partners in the initiative. With our input and their input, the kid started registering improvement. Gradually, a whole cadre of people came together only because they wanted to do the right thing for their child.”From Colaba, SSI branched out to Kolkata and then to Delhi. It subsequently spread to different parts of India after people who took the teacher training programme from the NGO-opened centres in their respective towns and cities. “That’s how SSI reached Chennai through my first student Poonam Natrajan whose son Ishwar suffers from CP,” recalls Alur.Coming togetherTo fill the shortage of trained manpower, SSI began training teachers, therapists, social workers and psychologists in 1977. The first postgraduate diploma course in the education of the physically handicapped was set up in the country in 1978. It was renamed to Postgraduate Diploma in Special Education Multiple Disabilities: Physical and Neurological in 2003. The curriculum was developed in collaboration with specialists from the British Council, Spastics Society of UK and the Institute of Education, University of London. Its aim was to develop the skills, abilities and knowledge of teacher trainees to meet the physical, educational, social and emotional needs of persons with physical and neurological disability. Over 400 teachers across the country have received training.While looking back at her life and work and the unstinted support she has received from various quarters — from celebrities to commoners — Alur quotes lines from Rabindranath Tagore’s poem ‘The Little Lamp’. “Who will do my duties?” asked the Setting Sun… “I shall do what I can, my Master,” said the Little Lamp.“I have tried to light as many lamps as possible so that special children can be part of the society and not be treated as outsiders. Though there has been marked improvement in the attitude of the people, India still practices discrimination at both crude and subtle levels,” she says. Alur’s book, replete with photographs, shows what her untiring efforts have yielded — the many happy faces of children and their mothers who fought to overcome their limitations.

Islamic Banking: India has potential to become world leader in this system

A recent announcement made by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) proposing the opening of an “Islamic window” in conventional banks for a gradual introduction of Sharia-compliant or interest-free banking in the country, has led to a fierce debate on the ethicality of Islamic Banking.

While, a section wants to justify Islamic Banking in India, the other wants to dump down the RBI proposal as “utter nonsense”, which will encourage Indian Muslims to move back to the medieval past. To simplify the term, Islamic Banking is a Sharia-compliant banking system which prohibits all types of interest.

But, before debating the pros and cons of Islamic Banking, here is a caveat.

First thing first, at present, there is no question of having Islamic Banking in India. Simply because as per The Banking Regulation Act, 1949, there can’t be a parallel banking system — that doesn’t allow charging of interest — along with our conventional banking system.

A file image of Bank Islam branch, a leading player in Islamic banking to have emerged from Malaysia. Reuters

A file image of Bank Islam branch, a leading player in Islamic Banking to have emerged from Malaysia. Reuters

What we need immediately
So, instead of debating the issue of whether or not to have Sharia banking in India, the focus should be on tapping the huge $3 trillion Islamic finance market.

But, before that it needs to be ensured that every Indian Muslim, who earns a livelihood should have a bank account, which at present is missing to a large extent.

More numbers of Muslims should get into the regulated banking system — open accounts, have PAN, file Income Tax Returns, etc.

The young entrepreneurs should prepare viable project reports and seek loans from banks. There are incidences where people failed to get loans, but it can’t be generalised.

They should approach RUDSETI (Rural Development and Self Employment Training Institute), which has its footprint in more than 500 districts for skill development.

There is enough for the common man in our system and the need of the hour is to use it by being a part of it. All these will help Muslim youth to empower themselves and be prepared to be a part of the global Islamic finance market. Why can’t India be a big player in it?

How the West took the lead in Islamic Banking

When we talk about Islamic Banking, the first thing that comes to the mind is that it’s a monopoly of the Muslim nations and they are the key players. It’s a misconception.

It was the Western world which recognised the importance and potential of Islamic finance. Citibank was the first to set up its Citi Islamic unit in Bahrain in the 1980s. It was followed by HSBC Amanah to set up its headquarters in London, which then shifted its base to Dubai and later back to London. Soon, ABN Amro, Commerz Bank (Germany) and others followed.

Despite it having such a huge potential, I came to know about Islamic finance only in 1999 when I was invited and sponsored by Faisal Islamic Bank, Bahrain to attend “Islamic Finance Conference” in London. It opened my eyes when I came to know that 75 percent of papers presented there were by non-Muslims, and most of the experts on this subject were from non-Islamic countries.

It’s none other than the Harvard University that has been running a three-day Islamic Finance Programme every year. I presented a paper on setting up an Islamic fund in a non-Islamic environment, which focused on the aspect that India doesn’t participate in setting up investment.

One example can make it clear how the UK sees the importance of Islamic finance. In 2002, when Gordon Brown was the Chancellor of the Exchequer (UK), a task force was formed and the CEO of Barclays Bank, Andrew Buxton suggested ways and tweaked the laws to make the UK a hub for Islamic finance. The next year, in 2003, the first Islamic Bank of UK was set up with five branches.

It was a big opportunity and I, too, set up an onshore fund in the UK, in which 70 percent subscribers were non-Muslims, with Jews at the top.

Halal Foods — a case in point

Halal brand foods is a perfect example of how an investment opportunity could be tapped without getting into an unwanted debate on Islam and non-Islam. Barring Muslims, others including Hindus hardly take cognizance to Halal meat. Almost in every restaurants and food joints, it’s the Halal poultry products that are served. Muslims don’t consume pork and to ensure that a Muslim consumer gets to eat as per his religious belief, the Halal brand tapped that $6 billion market.

Today, two Jain sisters from Gujarat have ventured into “Halal” cosmetics — that manufactures cosmetic items without using animal fat, gelatin or extracts. Same is with Islamic finance — instead of getting into religious belief and faith, the true investment opportunity should be tapped.

Let’s not stigmatise Islamic Banking

It was the Jews who first introduced us to conventional banking, but do we call it Jewish banking? Islamic Banking is as old as Islam. Prophet Muhammad, who was an entrepreneur and trader in his earlier life, was known as “Sadiq-ul-Amin” — a man who is trustworthy — because people used to park money with him for safety.

Mudarabah was the first banking system in the Islamic world. It’s an Islamic contract in which one party supplies the money and the other provides skill expertise to undertake a specific trade. The party supplying the capital is called the owner of the capital, whereas, the another party is referred to as an agent or entrepreneur who actually runs the business. It’s also called sweat equity. Here the profit and loss are shared, unlike in the present system, where an entrepreneur has to bear the brunt.

Islamic-bonds-ReutersIslamic-bonds-Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Islamic Banking system died with the rise of colonial power, but the corporate banks in the UK, where bankers were non-Muslims revived it.

As per Islam’s fundamental principle of justice and equality, no interest can be charged on a loan given to a person. One is not allowed to sell debts and make money out of money.

So, instead of calling it Islamic Banking and stigmatise it with a religious label, it should be known as “inclusive banking”.

India: Next Islamic finance destination

In 1998, Dow Jones had set up Dow Jones Islamic Index and its CEO was a Jew and not a Muslim. There was no Indian company listed on it. And, I had raised this issue at the press conference of Dow Jones in London.

Instead of arguing on Hindu-Muslim, Islamic-non-Islamic issues and looking through a religious prism, why can’t we be a player in the $3 trillion Islamic finance market, which is expected to double by 2020?

Indian Stock Market is the most Sharia compliant in the world — more than Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Turkey or Bahrain. The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) already has a training centre for Islamic finance. India needs big investments to fund its infra projects, and here Islamic finance can be of use.

As the RBI has spelt out, the Islamic window can offer Mudarabah finance. India can be the hub to provide Islamic finance experts to the world. If Europe, US, China, etc, can gain the advantage and get capital through Islamic finance, why can’t India?

(The author is Chancellor of Maulana Azad National Urdu University)

— As told to Debobrat Ghose

For a counter-view on the idea of Islamic Banking in India, read Tarek Fatah’s opinion here

First Published On : Nov 28, 2016 11:48 IST

India’s ‘hegemonic stance’ a threat to peace and stability in region: Pakistan minister

London: India’s “hegemonic stance” and “aggressive posturing” is a threat to peace and stability in the region, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has said, and asked the international community to stop seeing South Asia through the Indian prism.

File photo of Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan. Reuters

File photo of Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan. Reuters

Nisar, who met with British Prime Minister Theresa May during a meeting with National Security Adviser (NSA) Sir Mark Lyall Grant at 10 Downing Street, insisted that Pakistan reserves the right to avenge the blatant and unprovoked killing of its soldiers.

“India’s hegemonic stance and its aggressive posturing was a threat to peace and stability in the region,” ARY News quoted Nisar as saying.

He stated that Pakistan would not be cowed down by such tactics, and reserves the right to avenge the blatant and unprovoked killing of its soldiers.

Nisar said the international community, particularly our friends, should focus and react to the Indian “intransigence” in the region.

He said that “the world and our friends needed to do more to counter Indian designs against Pakistan and should stop seeing South Asia through the Indian prism“.

While discussing the ongoing war against terrorism, Nisar said that menace of terrorism was a threat to the region and the international peace and tranquility.

He said that people of Pakistan and its national security institutions were determined to completely wipe out terrorism from its soil.

May conveyed her good wishes to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the people of Pakistan and said that she was looking forward to visiting Pakistan in the first half of 2017.

First Published On : Nov 16, 2016 15:04 IST

Indian-origin lottery winner jailed for beating wife and child in UK

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An Indian-origin man has been jailed for six months for beating his wife and a five-year-old child at their home in west London, months after he won a 70,000 pounds lottery which he had promised to use for his family.30-year-old Balvinder Malhotra had bagged 70,000 pounds in a lottery win in January this year and vowed to use the money to make 2016 a “great year for his family”.However, a few months later in June he punched his wife Hardeep Kaur three times and also smacked a five-year-old child in the face during a picnic party at their home.”These are significant injuries. This crosses the custody threshold by a mile,” District Judge Debbie Wright told him at Uxbridge Magistrates Court last week.The court was told Malhotra suffered from alcohol problems and had previously given his mother a bloody nose during a row.Malhotra, who has been living with his parents since the attack on his 28-year-old wife, was convicted of gross bodily harm (GBH), jailed for six months and ordered to pay his two victims 1,000 pounds each.Soon after the lottery win in January, the couple had posed together spraying a bottle of champagne into the air to celebrate.At the time, he said: “When I told my wife she burst into tears of joy. I used to have a shop but we lost this when big retailers moved in. This win will give me the boost I need.Looks like 2016 is going to be a great year for our little family.”After the attack in June, Malhotra used his winnings to buy a new corner-shop in a bid to turn his life around after going bankrupt in 2011.

British PM Theresa May arrives in India on three-day visit

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>British Prime Minister Theresa May flew in on Sunday night on a three-day visit aimed at enhancing Indo-UK ties in the key areas of trade, investment, defence and security. On her first bilateral trip outside Europe since taking office in July in the aftermath of Britain voting to exit the European Union, May will hold talks with her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Monday. She will also inaugurate jointly with him the India-UK Tech Summit.Before leaving London, she described India as the UK’s “most important and closest” friend and a leading power in the world, adding, “We will be promoting the best of Britain, sending out the message that we are open for business, and making the most of the opportunities offered by Brexit as the world’s foremost champion of free trade”.”I will be using this visit to reaffirm the importance of the strategic partnership we already have, which delivers huge benefits for both our countries, and to work with Prime Minister Modi to agree concrete steps to realise our shared vision of going even further in our cooperation across trade, investment, defence and security,” she added.May, who is accompanied by senior British ministers and a big trade delegation, will also travel to Bengluru on Tuesday where she will attend some business events and will meet the Karnataka Chief Minister.May, 60, is accompanied by a business delegation drawn from regions across the UK, including Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox and Trade Minister Greg Hands.The November 6-8 visit comes in the backdrop of the historic June referendum favouring Brexit and as part of the new May-led government to step up engagement with countries outside the 28-nation European Union.”She will deliver on her ambitious vision for Britain after Brexit, forging a new global role for the UK beyond the continent of Europe. She will also deliver on her pledge for an economy that works for all, by introducing new and emerging enterprises, as well as more established players, to the key Indian market,” an official statement in London said.According to the statement, a number of commercial deals are expected to be signed during the visit, creating and securing jobs at home and demonstrating market confidence in the strength of the British economy. She will meet with Modi tomorrow to discuss developing the bilateral strategic partnership, building on the deep links and existing co-operation. Alongside Modi, she will inaugurate the India-UK TECH Summit, South Asia’s largest technology conference.

Young Indian lawyer elected to UN’s top body of legal experts

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a significant victory, a young Indian lawyer won a hotly-contested election in the UN General Assembly for membership to the world body’s top body of legal experts, garnering the highest number of votes in the Asia-Pacific group.Aniruddha Rajput, 33, is among the 34 individuals elected by the General Assembly as members of the International Law Commission, the UN organ tasked with the progressive development of international law and its codification.The newly elected members will serve five-year terms of office with the Geneva-based body beginning January 2017.The members have been elected from five geographical groupings of African, Asia-Pacific, Eastern European, Latin American and Caribbean and Western European states.Rajput got 160 votes, topping the Asia Pacific group in voting that was held by way of secret ballot yesterday.Amongst the youngest to be elected to the nearly 70-year old body, Rajput is India’s first time candidate to the Commission, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin told PTI.A practicising lawyer of India’s Supreme Court, Rajput is also the first Indian nominee chosen from outside a close circle of lawyers of the Ministry of External Affairs.An alumnus of the London School of Economics and Political Science, Rajput was member of an expert group appointed by the Law Commission of India to study and comment upon the Model Bilateral Investment Treaty 2015 of India, according to his profile submitted to the UN.He has written several books, chapters, articles, conference papers on diverse legal subjects and his areas of expertise in international laws include Sources of International Law, International Arbitration, Law of the Sea, Use of Force, UN Law & Practice and International Trade Law (WTO Law).In response to a congratulatory tweet by Singapore s Ambassador to the United Nations Burhan Gafoor on Rajput s election, Akbaruddin replied, “We are deeply appreciative of support extended by many, many friends of India to ensure Dr Rajput’s election by a huge margin.”Japan’s Shinya Murase got the second highest number of votes in the Asia-Pacific group at 148, followed by Mahmoud Daifallah Hmoud of Jordan and Huikang Huang of China with 146 votes each, Korea’s Ki Gab Park with 136 votes, Ali bin Fetais Al-Marri of Qatar with 128 votes and Hong Thao Nguyen of Viet Nam with 120 votes.

Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa has ‘started living normal life’: AIADMK

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday said party supremo and Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, hospitalised here for more than a month, has “progressed well” and “started living a normal life” as it exuded confidence that she will soon resume her public service.Party spokesperson Panrutty S Ramachandran said 68-year old Jayalalithaa, undergoing treatment at the Apollo Hospital since September 22, has “progressed well” and expressed confidence that she will return to work for the poor people. “The people are confident (of her return) and their prayers are yielding results,” he told reporters.Another party spokesperson, C R Saraswathy said the doctors said that Jayalalithaa was “very well” but wanted her to be under their watch for some time. “She is very well and is consuming normal food. She has started living a normal life. she will return soon and resume public service,” Saraswathy said. The divine blessings were on Jayalalithaa as scores of party workers were holding prayers for her speedy recovery, she added.Jayalalithaa was admitted to the Apollo Hospital on September 22 after she complained of fever and dehydration. Later the hospital said she was being treated for infection with respiratory support among others.Specialists from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, and from London among others have treated Jayalalithaa.In its last medical bulletin on October 21, the hospital had said the Chief Minister was interacting and progressing gradually.

Imran Khan says he expects Pakistani Supreme Court inquiry to topple Sharif | Reuters

Imran Khan says he expects Pakistani Supreme Court inquiry to topple Sharif | Reuters

Updated: Nov 2, 2016 20:05 IST

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By Syed Raza Hassan
| ISLAMABAD

ISLAMABAD Pakistani opposition leader Imran Khan said on Wednesday that he expected a Supreme Court corruption investigation to topple Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and repeated his calls for Sharif to resign immediately.The court on Tuesday agreed to Khan’s request to set up a judicial commission to probe Khan’s corruption allegations against Sharif, stemming from revelations that his children owned offshore companies in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands.Khan then backed down on his threat to paralyse Islamabad by bringing in a million protesters, defusing tensions after days of clashes between his supporters and the police. Instead he decided to hold a “celebratory” rally on the edge of the capital, where he accused Sharif and his younger brother Shahbaz, the chief minister of Punjab province, of being responsible for the clashes between police and supporters of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.”Hopefully within this month … we will see the end of the dark night of the Sharifs,” the former cricketer told tens of thousands of supporters.”My anger is against these two cowards, these jackals of Pakistan, for making (Pakistanis) fight one another.”

The Supreme Court is due to hold its first substantive hearing on the matter on Thursday.Sharif’s ruling party has said it will participate in an investigation into Panama Papers revelations but rejected an opposition demand that it should focus principally on Sharif’s family. The Court has said it will set the terms of the commission itself if the parties cannot agree on them at once.Khan’s challenge stems from documents leaked from the Panama-based Mossack Fonseca law firm that appeared to show that Sharif’s daughter and two sons owned offshore holding companies registered in the British Virgin Islands.

Sharif’s family denies wrongdoing, and there was no mention of Sharif himself owning any offshore companies.Holding offshore companies is not illegal in Pakistan, but Khan has implied that the money and London apartments held by the companies, amounting to millions of dollars, were gained by corrupt means. Khan’s threat of a “shutdown” protest had sparked fears of a repeat of demonstrations in 2014, where thousands of his supporters paralysed Islamabad’s government quarter for several months over allegations of election rigging.

In a bid to foil the “shutdown”, authorities arrested scores of PTI supporters and shut a major motorway leading from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Khan’s political heartland.The capital was calm on Wednesday, though there was still a heavy police presence.Khan admitted in May that he himself had used an offshore company to legally avoid paying British tax on a London property sale. (Writing by Asad Hashim; Editing by Drazen Jorgic and Kevin Liffey)

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

Sheena Bora murder case: Rakesh Maria was removed as Mumbai police chief to avoid controversies: Fadnavis

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Over a year after Rakesh Maria was removed as Mumbai police chief, reportedly for taking “too much interest” in the Sheena Bora murder case, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday said the high-profile officer was “promoted” a bit early to “avoid controversies”.”There were 2-3 controversies created at that time. One was about Lalit Modi, where Maria gave a clarification and we accepted it. Secondly, when he was taking keen interest in the Sheena Bora investigation, questions were raised why is a CP taking so much interest. But Maria is known to have a keen interest in criminal investigation. So it was quite possible that he was taking interest out of that nature of his,” Fadnavis said. He said that Maria was not transferred but promoted and that there was nothing unusual in a Commissioner of Police being promoted a few weeks earlier than scheduled.”Today, if I say that I knew that the Sheena Bora investigation was not going correctly and that is why I transferred him, it will be an afterthought. But yes, due to these controversies that were happening, I thought that I will promote him a little early to put an end to controversies,” he said.Fadnavis said, unexpectedly, a fresh controversy erupted after his promotion which made him give Maria the permission to “supervise” the investigation.”I think apart from this case, Maria had an excellent record. We should give him benefit of doubt but it is also true that till the case was transferred to CBI, I was always briefed that Peter’s direct involvement (in the murder) is not seen. It is quite possible that by the time it (the case) was with Mumbai police they could not track it. I am not casting aspersions on anyone, but I was just surprised at the briefing that I received after Peter was arrested,” Fadnavis said.Fadnavis also said the state government has not received any official communication from the CBI about any officer’s interrogation or direct or indirect connection with any accused in the case.Maria and two other senior Maharashtra police officers were recently examined by the CBI officials as they were part of the initial probe team which investigated the Sheena Bora murder case and arrested her mother Indrani Mukherjea.Besides Maria, the CBI also questioned Deven Bharti, Joint Commissioner (Law and Order) and Satya Narayan Choudhary, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone-X).A controversy had erupted in June last year after some TV news channels showed photographs of Maria with former IPL boss Lalit Modi in London. Modi faces charges of financial irregularities and money laundering in India. After Fadnavis demanded an explanation, Maria issued a statement saying that he had met the former IPL Commissioner at the insistence of the latter’s lawyer in London in 2014.

Varun Gandhi rejects Swaraj Abhiyan leaders’ allegations of being honey trapped

BJP MP Varun Gandhi is at the centre of a controversy over allegations that he had leaked defence secrets to middleman Abhishek Verma and arms manufacturers after being honey trapped, a charge he stoutly denied.

Varun rejected these charges, saying he has not met Verma since 2004 and threatened to file a defamation suit against Bhushan and Yadav over the charges, saying, “The entire information presented does not contain an iota of proof that either I had access or shared any communication regarding sensitive information to Verma.”

File photo of Varun Gandhi. Reuters

File photo of Varun Gandhi. Reuters

He said that he last met Verma when he was a post graduate student in London at the age of 22 years. “I am going to turn 37 now. I have never met him since I entered public life in 2004. The only reason why I even know of him is because his parents were members of parliament and was a respected family. I knew them as many other leaders knew them,” he said. Asked if he had come across any sensitive information during his tenure on the consultative committee on defence, he said, “Any MP who has been on that committee knows that not even 0.1 percentage of any confidential information is shared with the committee.”

At a press conference in New Delhi, Swaraj Abhiyan leaders Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav had released a letter written by Edmonds Allen, a New York-based lawyer, to the PMO last month that Varun was honey trapped and compromised by Verma. The lawyer alleged that Verma “blackmailed” Varun, a member of the Defence Consultative Committee, into sharing sensitive information on crucial arms matters.

Referring to the recently signed deal between India and French aircraft manufacturer Dassault for 36 Rafale aircraft, Bhushan had alleged that despite having all the details, the BJP government did not blacklist Thales, the company that sold scam-tainted Scorpene submarines, as Dassault acquired it. Dassault Aviation has 25.3 percent stake in Thales. “Any action against Thales may have jeopardised the Rafale deal. Moreover, contrary to previous announcements of getting 126 aircraft, the government bought 36 aircraft, paying double the price for individual units. It certainly appears to be the case that something is fishy,” he said.. However, Bhushan and Yadav did not take Varun’s name during the press conference and instead asked journalists to refer to the letter. They claimed to have withheld photographic evidences pertaining to the matter.

Allen had written to the PM, Defence Minister, CBI and the NSA with all the details on August and September this year. He was Verma’s partner but fell out with him in 2012 and Verma is facing trial in the 2006 Naval War Room leak case.

Abhishek Verma himself rejected allegations of purported defence leaks by saying the emails and photographs being circulated are “fabricated” and questioned the motive of the releases made on Thursday. He said the so-called “emails and photos are fabricated as I had not issued nor photographed Gandhi nor referred to him anywhere…These are attempts on part of Allen to defame me, and others named in the letter.”

“Allen is a known forger and he had in the past also morphed some photos of another individual and I had filed a case of criminal defamation against Allen in Patiala House Court on 6 February, 2012. The case trial is on and the matter is subjudice,” Verma said in a statement issued on Thursday. The pending suit against him under sections of Information Technology Act and forgery and the letter orchestrated by Allen is true to his nature of character assasination by forgery and deceit, he claimed. “I will be initiating a suit for criminal defamation against C Edmonds Allen and maybe against Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav shortly,” he added.

He questioned as to why Allen did not disclose these contents, made public on Thursday, when a joint team of CBI and Enforcement Directorate visited the latter in New York in 2012. “Why is it that Allen did not provide these photos or talked a bout the angle of blackmailing of Gandhi to the CBI and ED? Why now after four years when last month I was granted bail by Honourable Courts?” he said. With regard to the Scorpene deal, Verma said that the “Delhi High Court had on 13 January, 2016 dismissed the PIL filed by Bhushan on Scorpene Submarines purchase in which I was implicated as a party by Bhushan, as it had no merit. Bhushan suppressed the above fact of dismissal of his PIL in this issue in his tweet of last week and also in today’s press conference. The act of Bhushan today tantamounts to contempt of court,” he said.

Rejecting Bhushan and Yadav’s allegation that India paid double the price, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday asserted that the recently-signed Euro 7.878 billion-deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets was the best ever offered to any country. “Rafale is the best deal that we have managed. It was because Prime Minister of India and President of France agreed that we have this deal which has not been offered to any other country,” he said. “How much does it cost to level allegation?” he added angrily.

Parrikar said nothing has been proved in the alleged Scorpene leak and hence the case for banning any firm does not arise. He, however, refused to comment on the duo’s allegation that BJP parliamentarian Varun Gandhi was “honey trapped” into leaking defence secrets, a charge stoutly denied by the leader.

With inputs from PTI

Syria talks in Lausanne end without breakthrough | Reuters

By Lesley Wroughton and Alexander Winning
| LAUSANNE, Switzerland

LAUSANNE, Switzerland Syria talks convened by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in the Swiss city of Lausanne on Saturday evening failed to agree on a common strategy with Russia to end the conflict in Syria, now in its sixth year.Kerry was seeking a new path to peace after failing to secure a ceasefire in direct talks with Moscow, one of Syria’s key backers, amid mounting international outrage over the Russian and Syrian bombardment of rebel-held eastern Aleppo.Kerry hosted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and seven foreign ministers from the region – from Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Jordan and Egypt – weeks after the collapse of a painstakingly crafted U.S.-Russian ceasefire plan that many saw as the last hope for peace this year.Kerry told reporters there was consensus on a number of options that could lead to a ceasefire, but conceded that there had been some tense moments during Saturday’s talks.”I would characterize this as an example of what we wanted, which was a brainstorming and a very candid first-time discussion,” he said. “A number of ideas came from the number of different ministers as we hoped that might be able to shape some different approaches.”But the meeting failed to come up with a joint statement or a shared vision on how to move forward.Lavrov, who had said he had “no special expectations” for Saturday’s meeting, said ministers had discussed several “interesting ideas”, without elaborating. MEETING IN LONDON

Europe was not represented at the meeting, held in a luxury hotel on Lake Geneva. But France’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that Kerry and foreign ministers of like-minded nations planned to meet in London on Sunday to discuss Syria.Kerry said parties to the Lausanne talks would contact each other on Monday to follow up.Since the breakdown of U.S.-Russia cooperation, long the backbone of efforts to end the war in Syria, U.S. officials have worked on a number of ideas.Although no breakthrough had been expected on Saturday, a senior U.S. official said before the meeting that the regional format to the talks could be the basis of a new process.

However, a former Western envoy in Syria told Reuters: “I don’t understand (why) the Americans are asking the Russians to talk again. They have made zero concessions. Do the Americans believe Moscow was shaken by the break-off last week and will change behaviour now?”Separately, a Western diplomat in Lausanne said the meeting appeared ill-prepared and vague in its goals, and the list of invitees had been clarified only at the last moment. Earlier, Kerry met separately with his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir and with Lavrov to discuss the logistics of the meeting.It was the first meeting between Kerry and Lavrov since the collapse of a second attempted ceasefire in September. The impending end of the Obama administration is likely to mean a hiatus in U.S. diplomacy while his successor, whether Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, takes up the reins.

ACCUSATIONS
At the same time, pressure is rising for a halt to a ferocious, three-week-old Syrian government offensive to capture the eastern zone of the city of Aleppo, where the United Nations says 275,000 civilians still live and 8,000 rebels are holding out against Syrian, Russian and Iranian-backed forces. Western powers have accused Russia and Syria of committing atrocities by bombing hospitals, killing civilians and preventing medical evacuations, as well as targeting an aid convoy with the loss of around 20 lives. Syria and Russia counter that they are only targeting militants in Aleppo and accuse the United States of breaking the ceasefire by bombing scores of Syrian troops fighting Islamic State insurgents, over which the United States has expressed regret.A senior rebel commander said on Friday that Syrian government forces would never be able to capture Aleppo’s eastern sector, but a military source said the operation was going as planned.The United Nations has said food, fuel and medicine are running out in eastern Aleppo and there will be no rations to distribute from the start of next month. (Additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, Tom Miles, Marina Depetris, John Irish and David Alexander; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Mark Heinrich)

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

Racers Grand Prix will be my last race in Jamaica, says Usain Bolt | Reuters

Racers Grand Prix will be my last race in Jamaica, says Usain Bolt | Reuters

Updated: Oct 14, 2016 22:03 IST

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KINGSTON, Jamaica Jamaica’s Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt will run his last race on home soil at next year’s Racers Grand Prix, he said on Friday.The 30-year-old will compete in next year’s world championships in London before retiring from the sport having won nine Olympic gold medals.

“The Racers Grand Prix will be my last race in Jamaica people, it will be the last time I run in Jamaica,” Bolt told Television Jamaica’s “Smile Jamaica” morning magazine programme.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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

Indian female taxi driver documentary hopes to inspire, embolden women | Reuters

By Umberto Bacchi

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – When Selvi was 14, she was married off to an abusive husband who forced her into prostitution. Over a decade later, her escape and journey to becoming one of India’s first female taxi drivers are the subject of a documentary film, “Driving With Selvi”, that aims to inspire women to break out of traditional roles, its director said.”Many girls in small villages or marginalised communities in India never learn to dream,” filmmaker Elisa Paloschi said in an interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation.”I think that Selvi’s (story) shows that you can dream and will inspire people to think about their future.”India is home to a third of the world’s child brides, and around 50 percent of India’s women were married before turning 18, according the U.N. children’s agency. Early marriage makes it more likely that girls will drop out of school, and campaigners say it also increases the risks of exploitation, sexual violence, domestic abuse and death in childbirth.

“My life was over,” Selvi, whose surname is not given, says in the film, explaining how her violent marriage pushed her towards suicide.”I thought it was better to kill myself than to stay. But then I realised that if I were dead I wouldn’t be able to prove myself. That’s why I ran away”.Selvi found her way to a girls’ shelter in the southwestern city of Mysuru, where she learned how to drive.A few years later, as she was about to set up what has been described as India’s first female taxi company, she met Paloschi who was fascinated by her charisma.

“You can tell she has some greatness in her,” the filmmaker said.Eleven years in the making, “Driving With Selvi” opened in London on Friday and is to premier on U.S. television to mark the International Day of The Girl Child on Tuesday.The documentary has won praise from human rights activists.

“It tells so powerfully that when these girls are given the chance to be empowered, are given skills, care and support, they can change their circumstances and that’s incredibly inspiring to see,” UNICEF UK’s deputy executive director, Lily Caprani, told filmgoers after a screening in London on Friday.Paloschi is now planning to embark with Selvi on a bus tour of southern India to bring the movie to small communities as part of a campaign called “Save Her A Seat” that aims to challenge the marginalisation of women.Women are among the most excluded groups in India, with almost 43 percent of working-age women confined to domestic work, according to a report published in March.”This film has such an incredible power to create social change and I think that Selvi is a great spokesperson for that,” Paloschi said. (Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi, Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)

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

Vinay Shukla and Khusboo Ranka talk about their film An Insignificant Man, and Arvind Kejriwal

Vinay Shukla and Khushboo Ranka joined us over the weekend from the BFI London Film Festival and had a chat with filmmaker, writer and Firstpost columnist Rajesh Thind about their documentary, An Insignificant Man which took nearly three-and-a-half years to complete.

Untitled-2Untitled-2An Insignificant Man, according to the makers is a film about protesters and outsiders who are trying to break into the biggest democracy in the world, India. At the heart of the film is believed to be the protagonist, Arvind Kejirwal. Vinay and Khusbhoo see the politician as one of the most polarising figures in India today.

In the chat with Firstpost, the two discuss the leader and his party (the Aam Aadmi Party) from their early beginning to the first election victory.

The ambitious project was initially called Proposition For Revolution, which was later changed to avoid a fixed ideas people would get before (watching) the film. The new title was kept more open ended.

“People reacted saying they had specific ideas, extremely negative and violent, and to others it was too positive, too much of a grand statement,” said Khushboo, of why the name was changed.

After finishing three screenings at TIFF and two houseful shows at London, the makers seem to have got a pretty good response from the audience. Khushboo and Vinay also talked about people having connected with the film in terms of what is happening in society and the politics they can engage with.

On plans for an India release, the documentary is all set to be premiere at a film festival in Mumbai later this year and other talks are still on.

The makers spoke about the turn of events over the past three-and-a half years and how there was no film in the works initially.

“We were just following a couple of protests where Arvind Kejriwal, Yogendra Yadav and others were getting into politics because the anti corruption movement wasn’t working out,” said Vinay.

Untitled-3Untitled-3

A scene from the documentary. Image courtesy: Facebook/An Insignificant Man

Following the curiosity around this and expectations about Kejriwal and his colleagues making it into politics, and questions coming up about corruption, their longevity, Vinay and Khushboo’s project took shape, and slowly the crew expanded.

In their most heartening experience, the duo recollect the crowd funding campaign for the project in which nearly 800 contributors donated money based on a single video.

Both Khushboo and Vinay believe that the Indian documentary scene is amazing and a lot of the best films are documentaries, films that are experimenting the line between reality and fiction.

Though happy about the way the project has turned out, the two further emphasise the importance of more support, infrastructure and more artists showing solidarity for such projects.

“In India it is really hard, as independent film makers who are making political films; it is extremely difficult. There were people who withdrew support, there were people who loved the film but couldn’t support the film,” Khushboo said.

According to the makers An Insignificant Man will bring to you challenges the AAP faces or represents in India, which are pretty much universal in terms of the challenges any new political parties or faces come across: Challenges around decision making, transparency and the idea of a critical mass.

Watch this video for more:

Balochistan activist Hyrbyair Marri goes back on his words, says may seek asylum in India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After Baloch Republican Party (BRP) founder Brahumdagh Bugti’s asylum request to New Delhi, another Baloch nationalist leader of Free Balochistan Movement Hyrbyair Marri may seek asylum in India. “If he does not feel safe in the United Kingdom or if the UK plans to deport him back to Pakistan, Hyrbyair Marri may seek asylum in India,” said Balochwarna News editor Faiz M Baluch.According a report published on the BBC Urdu website last year, Hyrbyair Marri, who is the fifth son of nationalist leader Khair Bakhsh Marri who lives in London, had last year said “The Baloch people are not in favour of seeking help from India to gain freedom,” reported the Dawn under the heading “Will never seek help from India: Hyrbyair Marri” on October 10, 2015.Marri said that he was not seeking assistance from India for his movement: “I have never sought help from them, nor will I in the future.” He also rejected reports that he travelled to India to start the Free Balochistan Movement. Hyrbyair Marri, who has been living in self-exile in London since 2000, is alleged to have been leading the banned BLA.In June last year, an anti-terrorism court in Quetta had indicted Marri and 32 others in the Ziarat Residency bombing case. This development comes after Bugti last week announced that he would appeal for a political asylum in India.Earlier, Bugti approached the Permanent Mission of India in Geneva for filing asylum paper. He was reportedly asked by the Permanent Mission of India to approach the Indian High Commission in Bern, in Switzerland, for the same.According to reports, the Ministry of Home Affairs received Bugti’s application on September 22, which was being “examined”.

Seventy years later and the Brits still haven’t got the Kashmir handle right

What’s with the Brits? Have they got this wrong or have they got this wrong? And why are we doing nothing about it?

Kashmir is not administered by India. Kashmir is integral to India. So how come the United Kingdom is still getting away with it.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. PTIUK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. PTI

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. PTI

UK’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s promise to have his nation stand shoulder to shoulder with India in the fight against terrorism was sincere and touching, coming as it did from a man known not to pull his punches. Boris Johnson, it is said, says it like he sees it. Rough and tumble is fine but get it right.

The UK, he said, condemns all forms of terrorism and supports all efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice.This was 18 September.

I would like to cry us a river at this flow of sentiment if the Uri incident Boris refers to was not labelled as having occurred in ‘Indian-administered Kashmir.’

It dried up my river pretty fast and it says very little for our foreign policy that we have allowed our former colonial power and current supposedly good friend to continue this parody and make it look like Kashmir is not an integral part of India. Oxford Street, Bond Street, Madame Tussauds, Big ben, Trafalgar and Southall and Tooting. Like our second home, what?

It is time we took up this issue and perhaps the new High Commissioner Yash Sinha is just the man to set the ball rolling or speed it up.

I am confident, knowing the diplomat these past forty years, that he would be equally surprised that in its official statements the UK allows this phrase to be bandied about against all norms of diplomacy.

In the cosmic sense it does not matter I guess because India can rise above it but I wonder how Boris would respond if India’s official or demi-official correspondence began to say England administered Scotland or English administered Wales. The Scots fought their first battle of independence in 1296 (which they won) so it has been a pretty decent whack of time and the sentiment to leave the UK was brought again to the fore during the Brexit movement.

As for Northern Ireland they pretty much echo the Scottish stance and not just on Brexit. As Ian Bremmer wrote in July in the Time magazine: “Brexit has exposed the fault lines dividing the U.K.’s four constituent pieces: Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and England. Add London to the mix, and Brexit makes clear that there’s nothing inevitable about a “United Kingdom” going forward. Disunited is more on the mark.

By that token, it wouldn’t go down very well would it if India began to follow the Whitehall line and there seem to be a lot more grounds for it then there are for Boris Johnson to fling that prefix at India. Seventy years down the tube they are still fiddling around with our borders.

It is also politically and diplomatically inaccurate. There is no dispute about Kashmir being an integral part of India and is not to be equated with PoK which is an anomaly and open to debate.

Perhaps the time has come for New Delhi to see the categorization as downright offensive and to officially protest against its use by a friendly country. Whenever, for example, Israel reads or sees the phrase ‘Occupied territories’ it makes a right royal song and dance about it.

The support from London would be a lot more appreciated in India without the present characterization. So come on, Boris, get with it.

Mumbai to undergo London like CCTV expansion

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking a leaf out of London’s mass video surveillance network, the state government is planning to launch a community-based policing model for CCTV based-surveillance by public and private establishments.A collaborative framework will be laid down for authorities to receive video feed from entities like housing societies, public offices, shops, restaurants, malls and religious places. While improving the surveillance system in cities, this will also enhance the level of protection and deterrence for these institutions. The government is also looking at examining ways to establish last-mile connectivity to tap into the feeds of cameras positioned towards roads and public domains.On Sunday, the Maharashtra government will launch its Rs 949 crore project which includes a network of 4,717 cameras at 1,510 locations in Mumbai. The Mumbai CCTV project floated after the 26/11 terror attacks for surveillance at sensitive spots and faster response due to real-time streaming, includes network connectivity to 102 public and private establishments. It also includes high-value targets like malls, hospitals, Railway stations, schools and hotels for the police to tap into their CCTV networks based on requirements and worst-case scenarios.”Many entities like jewellery shops have installed CCTVs. We are looking at collecting video feeds from their cameras which cover roads and public places outside their premises. We will also request these establishments to set up cameras to cover vulnerable and sensitive areas. This will help the police and enhance the level of security for these entities as well,” a source told dna. Care will be taken to ensure that the CCTV systems do not cause a loss of privacy and these establishments will be involved on a voluntary basis.”We are planning to send instructions to public and private institutions including housing societies and even mandals with details like the type of cameras to be installed, their specifications and protocols to be followed. Contact details of those handling security will also be collected,” said a state government source.”We plan to eventually integrate these private camera systems with our network and this will ensure that no technical issues are created in the integration,” the source added, pointing to how over 90% of the cameras used in London were not established by the government.”We already take the feed from private entities, but this will make it more structured. Moreover, the police will get information about establishments where CCTVs are already installed, which will help in crime detection,” the source stated.Vijay Kumar Gautam, principal secretary, Information Technology (IT) said a committee under him would submit a report on the type of cameras to be used, standard specifications and last-mile connectivity to integrate the feed with the larger CCTV network. The committee will also suggest policy interventions to the state urban development department like if setting up CCTV cameras covering the public areas and domain could be integrated into the standard guidelines for building permissions from the security perspective.-Though the Mumbai CCTV project initially planned to establish 6,020 remotely-controlled, high-definition quality IP cameras in the city, the number of cameras was brought down to 4,717 at 1,510 spots due to the decision to increase the number of poles at the sites.-The high-level enquiry committee under former union home secretary Ram Pradhan, which probed the 26/11 attacks, had pointed out that unlike their counterparts in cities like New York, the Mumbai police had no ready access to CCTV cameras in private premises like hotels.

Vijay Mallya case: Bengaluru DRT to pass interim order on Indigo, GoAir garnishment matter

Bengaluru: The Debt Recovery Tribunal will pass an interim order on Wednesday on the plea of a consortium of banks seeking a direction to Indigo and GoAir airlines under garnishee proceedings to deposit with it the money to be paid to Airbus by them, in a Kingfisher Airlines case.

File photo of Vijay Mallya. AFPFile photo of Vijay Mallya. AFP

File photo of Vijay Mallya. AFP

“I am under pressure, and I wouldn’t want any further delays. I would pass an interim order, tomorrow, on interim applications filed by the bankers,” DRT Presiding Officer K Srinivasan said during the hearing of the interim applications by the banks led by Oriential Bank of Commerce.

He also directed Airbus to produce a letter containing details of its account held in whichever bank for freezing Rs 196 crore until the case is disposed of.

A garnishment is a means of collecting a monetary judgment against a defendant by ordering a third party (the garnishee) to pay the money, otherwise owed to the defendant, directly to the plaintiff.

Airbus had availed Rs 196 crore from the consortium of banks on behalf of Vijay Mallya-controlled Kingfisher Airlines in 2005. Though Airbus is in receipt of the money, it failed to deliver the planes to the now-grounded Kingfisher Airlines.

The Oriental Bank of Commerce, Corporation Bank and United Bank of India, had made pre-delivery payment of Rs 196 crore to Airbus on behalf of Kingfisher after both the parties had signed a purchase agreement.

Since Airbus failed to repay the pre-delivery payment, the bankers made GoAir and Indigo as parties in the case by filing interim applications, asking the tribunal to direct the budget carriers to deposit money to be paid to Airbus with it, under garnishee proceedings.

In a counter move, the budget air carriers filed objections to the interim applications filed by bankers.

Making submissions before the tribunal, Airbus counsel said the company was needlessly being dragged into the matter as it is neither a borrower nor a defaulter.

In fact, the company is a victim in this case for someone else’s mistakes, who owe public money availed from banks, the counsel said.

He also challenged the jurisdiction of DRT to adjudicate on the matter as Airbus had arrived at the agreement with Kingfisher as per English laws.

“The honorable DRT does not have the jurisdiction over the matter,” he argued.

However, Bankers’ Counsel Mohammad Ibrahim contended that the contract was signed in India between banks, Kingfisher and Airbus and the aircraft were to be delivered in India, and the money was paid by banks in India.

DRT Bengaluru had passed an order for attachment of the money lying with Airbus in February 2014.

Subsequently, the aircraft-maker moved DRAT Chennai contending that DRT Bengaluru does not have jurisdiction to pass order as the authority lies with London courts, as per the agreement between the lenders, Kingfisher and Airbus.

The now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines owes over Rs 9,000 crore to a consortium of 17 banks led by SBI.

Mallya, who left the country on 2 March and is now in UK, has been declared a proclaimed offender by a special PMLA court in Mumbai on a plea by Enforcement Directorate in connection with its money laundering probe against him in the alleged bank loan default case.

Uri attack could be ‘reaction’ to situation in Kashmir: Nawaz Sharif

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has claimed that the Uri terror attack could be the result of a “reaction” of the people to the situation in Kashmir as he criticised India for blaming Pakistan “without any evidence”. “The Uri attack can be the reaction of the atrocities in Kashmir, as the close relatives and near and dear ones of those killed and blinded over the last two months were hurt and outraged,” Sharif told reporters yesterday in London where he had stopped on his way back from New York after attending the UN General Assembly session. Sharif said that India hastily blamed Pakistan without any investigation. He said India behaved in an “irresponsible way” when it blamed Pakistan “without any evidence”. “How could India accuse Pakistan only hours after the Uri incident without holding any inquiry or investigation,” Sharif was quoted as saying by Pakistani media reports. “The whole world knows about the Indian atrocities” in Kashmir where around “108 people have so far been killed, over 150 blinded and thousands injured,” he alleged.Stressing on alleged “brutalities being perpetrated against innocent Kashmiris”, the Pakistani Prime Minister said that before accusing Pakistan, India should have looked at its “atrocious role” in Kashmir. He called on India to also conduct a probe into the “killings” of Kashmiris. Sharif said the achievement of lasting peace in the region was impossible without the resolution of Jammu and Kashmir dispute.Eighteen soldiers were killed when Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists attacked a highly-guarded army camp in Uri in Kashmir on Sunday morning. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that those behind the despicable act will not go unpunished. The incident triggered a diplomatic dust-up with both India and Pakistan hitting out at each other including at the UN General Assembly.

Viewpoint

Jon Wilson revisits the history of British rule in India and concludes it was not an effective system of government, but chaotic, violent and wracked by anxiety.

New Reserve Bank of India chief Urjit Patel, solitary by nature, steps into spotlight

Incoming governor of Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Urjit Patel, is widely regarded as having the professional and academic credentials he needs to make a success of his new job. Less well-known is whether a man who seems to feel most at ease in his own company commands the communication skills to answer to multiple constituencies and keep a 17,000-strong team on his side.

Patel, deputy governor of the RBI since 2013, demonstrated intellectual heft in overseeing landmark changes to the 81-year old institution, including switching to inflation-targeting and establishing a monetary policy panel to set interest rates.

Now promoted, Patel offers the promise of continuity with most of the policies of the man he will replace, Raghuram Rajan, who was feted by investors for halving inflation and for pulling the country out of its worst currency crisis in over two decades.

Within the RBI, however, Patel is widely viewed as a solitary and at times temperamental figure.

He avoids large meetings and gatherings with colleagues and, in contrast to other deputy governors who had busier public schedules, gives few speeches or media interviews. “His biggest challenge is his communication skill,” said an official who works closely with Patel. “He prefers to interact with only those whom he is comfortable with, which is a very small group.”

That raises questions about how Patel will approach the public aspects of a role that is set to be transformed under changes he largely helped spearhead.

New RBI chief Urjit Patel.

New RBI chief Urjit Patel.

He will have to seek consensus with five other members of the RBI’s new monetary policy committee.

He must also work closely with heads of state-owned banks as the sector battles to clean up $120 billion of soured loans – a relationship that greatly frustrated Rajan as lenders went only half way towards matching 150 basis points of RBI rate cuts.

Respected By Investors

Already known to have a good rapport with government officials, Patel may find his low public profile helps him develop even better ties.

Rajan, by contrast, faced a backlash from hard-right elements in Prime Minister Narendra Modi Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for sometimes peppering his public statements with social critiques.

“(Patel) is extremely sensitive and pragmatic about not upsetting the government,” said another senior RBI official who works with him.

“The fact that he was reappointed as a deputy governor … and now promoted … shows the strong support he enjoys from the government,” the first official said.

Patel is also likely to share his predecessor’s good reputation among investors.

Both men worked for the International Monetary Fund and studied abroad, in Patel’s case at the London School of Economics and Oxford University before heading across the Atlantic to Yale for his economics doctorate.

Patel has also spent time in the private sector with stints at the Boston Consulting Group and Indian energy conglomerate Reliance Industries (RELI.NS) and, at the RBI, was seen as the candidate most in tune with Rajan’s policy agenda.

Having beaten off the challenge of, among others, IMF Executive Director Subir Gokarn to get the top job, analysts believe Patel will not kow-tow to the government either.

His reputation suggests he will uphold the independence of the central bank while pushing Modi and his ministers towards fiscal prudence – all welcome traits for investors used to a steady hand at the RBI tiller.

“The new governor needs to reinforce the faith that the external world and Indian markets have in the … central bank,” said Mihir Vora, Chief Investment Officer of Max life insurance.

EU tells UK single market access requires full free movement | Reuters

LONDON/BRUSSELS European Union leaders met for the first time without Britain on Wednesday less than a week after it voted to leave, delivering a tough message that London can access the bloc’s lucrative single market only if it agrees to allow free movement for EU workers.

Last week’s shock referendum vote to leave the EU has caused global financial market turmoil, sent the pound sterling tumbling and wiped billions off the value of British shares. Britain’s giant financial services sector, roughly 8 percent of economy, relies crucially on access to the EU market.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who campaigned to stay in the EU and lost, has announced his resignation and left it up to his successor to negotiate the terms of Britain’s exit.

But leaders of the victorious Leave campaign have not spelled out in detail what sort of relationship they hope to build with Brussels, creating uncertainty about the future for both Britain and the rest of the bloc.

Cameron, staying on as caretaker until a successor is found, told EU leaders at his final summit with them on Tuesday that he believed the referendum was lost over the principle of unrestricted travel among EU citizens.

But free movement of workers is one of “four freedoms” — along with movement of capital, goods and services — that the EU says must be maintained by any country that wants access to its common market. The 27 leaders added a line to their summit statement at the last minute emphasising that principle.

They also called on Britain to trigger the EU’s exit clause by notifying them of its intention to withdraw, which would start a two year clock to negotiate its exit.

“There can be no negotiations of any kind before this notification has taken place,” the statement said. Cameron wants time for his successor to formulate a strategy and sound out European colleagues before beginning the countdown.

DIFFICULT TIMES

Cameron, who had expressed regret and sadness at last week’s referendum result over dinner with his EU peers on Tuesday, told parliament the British economy faced hard times as a result.

“There’s no doubt in my mind these are going to be difficult economic times,” he said.

A senior British lawmaker, Andrew Tyrie, said Britain should not give official notice until a new government had agreed on a negotiating position.

“A crucial task is to identify the maximum level of EU market access, consistent with the need for some control on migration,” he said in a statement on behalf of the influential Treasury Select Committee.

The battle to succeed Cameron as ruling Conservative Party leader is likely to be fought over promises to limit EU migration while still retaining as much access to the common market as possible after Brexit.

One of the candidates to succeed Cameron, Stephen Crabb, said securing control of immigration was essential and acknowledged that might mean less access to the EU market.

Work and pensions minister Crabb ruled out holding another referendum and said his Conservative Party and the country must now unite in focusing on negotiating the best Brexit deal.

“The British people want control of immigration … For us, this is a red line,” he told a news conference.

Former London mayor Boris Johnson, who led the Leave camp and is bookmakers’ favourite to succeed Cameron, has suggested Britain could have full market access, including for the vital financial sector, without having EU rules enforced by the European Court of Justice or paying as much as London does now into the EU budget. He has also said British citizens would keep rights to live and work in Europe. His critics say his position is unrealistic.

The political turmoil following Britain’s decision to exit the EU has not only triggered a leadership contest in Cameron’s ruling Conservative Party, it also caused lawmakers from the opposition Labour Party to turn on their leader, leftist Jeremy Corbyn, accused of leading a half-hearted campaign to stay in.

Labour lawmakers voted no confidence in Corbyn on Tuesday, but he refused to step down, setting the stage for a bitter fight to push him out. Party rivals want a stronger figure to lead Labour in a general election if the Conservative government falls or parliament is dissolved.

The UK itself could split apart. Voters in Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to stay in the EU, and Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon has said Scots must not be taken out of the bloc against their will.

Sturgeon visited Brussels on Wednesday to make her case to European leaders to keep Scotland in, hours after Cameron had left. She got a polite hearing but won no commitment, and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain, which is concerned about separatism in its own Catalonia region, said Madrid would block direct negotiations with Scotland.

“If the United Kingdom leaves, Scotland leaves,” he said.

EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker agreed to meet Sturgeon, a decision that drew criticism from some EU diplomats who called it a provocation towards London. EU summit chairman Donald Tusk declined to meet her.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Europe’s most influential leader, convinced her peers to give Britain time to find its feet and choose a new leader before it starts formal exit talks.

But she too was firm on the price for market access, saying London could not “cherry-pick” the EU benefits it liked.

French President Francois Hollande highlighted the threat to the City of London’s position as the euro zone’s offshore financial centre, saying other European cities should prepare to do clearing in euros once Britain leaves.

(Writing by Paul Taylor; editing by Peter Graff)

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London mayor Sadiq Khan appoints Indian-origin millionaire Rajesh Agarwal as deputy

London’s Pakistan-origin mayor Sadiq Khan on Wednesday announced an India-born millionaire as his deputy for business to champion the city’s financial interests amid the fall-out of the EU referendum.39-year-old self-made millionaire Rajesh Agarwal grew up in humble surroundings in India and went on to London to set up foreign exchange giant RationalFX, which had a turnover of more than 1.3 billion pounds last year.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The businessman who has also founded international money transfer service Xendpay is featured in the ‘Sunday Times’ rich list with a fortune of 90 million pounds. “The mayor and I are determined to build a coalition that ensures the needs of business and financial services are at the fore over the coming months of negotiations with the EU.”My first priority will be to listen and engage with businesses, to hear their concerns and deliver reassurance,” said Agarwal, who will step down from his businesses to focus on his new role at City Hall in London.He added: “I stepped on a plane for the first time 15 years ago to make the journey to London, and found a city that welcomed me with open arms and didn’t make me feel like a stranger. “This openness to talent and enterprise must not change as a result of the referendum. I share Sadiq’s belief that a thriving economy is critical to ensure that all Londoners can share in our great city’s future success.” Agrawal was Khan’s business adviser during his mayoral campaign.Khan, the son of a Pakistani bus driver, took charge as London’s first Muslim mayor last month. “Having arrived in London equipped with the ambition to succeed, Rajesh has created a multi-million-pound businesses from scratch and knows first-hand the challenges that our business leaders face, and what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.”I know that Rajesh is the best person for the job of protecting jobs and growth in London as we deal with the fallout of the referendum,” said Khan. Khan has called on the UK government to give London an equal voice in negotiations with the EU after London had voted overwhelmingly in favour of remaining within the economic bloc, in stark contrast to the country-wide result in favour of Brexit.

UK opposition leader Corbyn defiant as policy team quit en masse | Reuters

LONDON Britain’s opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn vowed to fight to retain control of his Labour party on Monday after almost all his policy team withdrew their support for him in protest after Britons voted to leave the European Union.

Corbyn is resisting pressure to quit over what critics say was his lacklustre effort to keep Britain inside the European Union.

They also say he has failed to demonstrate that he can win over enough voters to secure power at a national election, with a snap vote a realistic prospect after David Cameron’s resignation as prime minister to make way for a pro-Brexit government by October.

“Stop the whispering, stop the corridor coups, stop trying to pressure an elected leader of the Labour Party to stand down without any vote or democracy,” Corbyn’s spokesman said after a stormy meeting between the leader and his party in parliament.

Corbyn’s advisers reiterated his intention to stand for re-election in any leadership contest that his rivals might call.

Despite his defiance, the stream of resignations throughout the day offered a brutal critique of Corbyn’s leadership: his business policy chief said the leader was partly to blame for last week’s referendum vote to leave the EU.

“Too many of our supporters were taken in by right-wing arguments and I believe this happened, in part, because under your leadership the case to remain in the EU was made with half-hearted ambivalence rather than full-throated clarity,” shadow business secretary Angela Eagle wrote in a resignation letter that she later posted on Twitter.

Eagle was one of at least 18 members of parliament to quit the shadow ministerial team in the space of two days.

Corbyn announced a number of appointments to replace those who had quit on Sunday, promoting several members of his inner core of left-wingers to senior defence and foreign policy roles.

Corbyn was elected party leader last year on a surprise wave of grassroots enthusiasm for his left-wing agenda and promise of a new approach to politics. But his relationship with Labour’s elected lawmakers has always been fragile, with many questioning whether the party could win an election on such a ticket.

The meeting in parliament on Monday evening discussed a motion of no confidence in Corbyn, which was submitted hours after the referendum result on Friday.

The motion is due to be voted on at a secret ballot on Tuesday, although it is not enough on its own to trigger a leadership contest – something that requires 51 lawmakers to nominate a rival candidate.

Amid the drama inside parliament, more than 1,000 Corbyn supporters gathered outside the building for a noisy rally against what some of his supporters described as a right-wing coup against him.

(Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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Post Brexit, why Britain should become a Union Territory of the Republic of India

While a lot of Brits are fretting about the future of their great nation after the decision to ‘leave’ the European Union, an immigrant of British origin living in India thinks the solution is to become a Union Territory of the Republic of India. In a Facebook post, Nick Booker-Soni, who lives in New Delhi points out many, many benefits of being part of a country that the Brits had colonised for two centuries. He points out that the Indian economy is growing at four times the EU, and by 2030 it will be larger than EU. He also claims that India has better holiday destinations, a classier looking passport (than EU’s garish red one), diversity is a way of life, and Indians are more comfortable in English than Britain’s neighbouring EU countries.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Dear Britain,Should you have voted to leave the EU by the time I wake up – don’t worry – I have a solution that should relieve both remainers and leavers equally. A moment comes, which comes but rarely, when we step from the old to the new….I’ve cracked the ‪#‎Brexit conundrum!Cameron needs to immediately apply for Britain to become a Union Territory of the Republic of India.Whilst historically speaking it seems only right and proper to give India a chance to rule Britain for a few hundred years – it actually makes a lot of sense for the British too!Worried about jobs? India’s economy is growing 4x faster than Europe’s and will overtake the entire EU’s sometime in the 2030s – becoming twice the size of the EU economy by 2050.In economic terms alone every young Brit should wish to replace their garish red EU passport with a classy blue Indian one ASAP.Worried about the future of the NHS? India already provides nearly as many Doctors to the NHS as the EU does – and that doesn’t even include those of Indian origin, born or educated, in Britain. 25,055 Indian v 30,082 EU.Worried about diversity? With over 100 different languages spoken everyday and adherents of every religion – even Britain’s favourite materialist consumption – there truly is something for everyone here!Worried about being understood? English is one of India’s two official languages – which will be a huge relief for all those have struggled to communicate with their continental neighbours for all these years.Worried about not being part of something bigger? India has more than twice the population of the EU. Half of which are under 35, so the bonus is no more worries about an ageing population!Worried about where to go on holiday? The Himalayas are nearly three times the height of the Alps and thousands of miles longer – there are more sandy beaches along India’s coastline than all the Costas you can dream of – and India has tropical rainforests and even a desert too! Plenty of visa free inter-railing adventures as well on the world’s largest railway network.Worried about not being ruled by an unlected bureaucracy in a far away land? We’ve got that covered as well! Nowhere on the planet has perfected the shuffling of paper and writing of rules better than New Delhi – what’s more India’s civil servants salaries are more than 10x lower than Brussels. Talk about getting more for less!British MPs, the whole of Whitehall and even the Royal Family (subject to the return of the Kohinor) can all be pensioned off at the fast expanding and internationally renowned Best Exotic Marigold Hotel chain in Jaipur.Which would free up the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and much of Central London to become a permanent Bollywood film set. With more viewers than Hollywood this is sure to help keep London’s tourist economy going – which within a decade or two will be mostly Indians in any case.Embrace the 21st Century. Swap Brussels for Delhi. Say Goodbye to Little Europe and Namaste to Incredible India!Yours in waiting,An Immigrant of British Origin,New Delhi, IndiaCheck out his awesome Facebook post below:

More than 1.5 million and rising sign UK petition for new EU referendum | Reuters

LONDON Just days after voting to leave the European Union, more than 1.5 million Britons and UK residents had signed a petition calling for a second vote, forcing lawmakers to at least consider a debate on the issue.

The petition on the British parliament website was posted before the June 23 referendum, saying the government should hold another plebiscite on EU membership if the support for Leave or Remain in a referendum is less than 60 percent based on a turnout of under 75 percent of electors.

The result on Thursday saw 52 percent of voters back a British exit on a turnout of 72 percent of eligible voters.

Since then, the petition — which only British citizens or UK residents have the right to sign — was proving so popular that by 1417 GMT on Saturday, 1,580,220 people had signed it with the number rising quickly.

It appeared to be rising at a rate of around 1,000 signatures a minute at one point.

Most of those who signed were based in areas where support for staying in the EU was strongest such as London, the website indicated.

Parliament has to consider a debate on any petition which attracts more than 100,000 signatures.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who said on Friday he would resign after leading the failed campaign to keep Britain in the EU, has previously said there would be no second referendum.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa/Jeremy Gaunt)

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Amit Shah says India fully prepared to deal with Brexit

Amid apprehensions of Brexit’s impact on Indian economy, BJP chief Amit Shah on Friday asserted that the country was fully prepared and decline in inflation, stable and liberal policies and fiscal discipline will protect the country from any possible global economic turbulence.In a development that could have far-reaching implications for Europe as well as the global economy, Britain has voted to leave the 28-nation bloc EU, causing bloodbath in financial markets.European stocks went into free fall at the opening, mirroring a rout in Asian markets, after traders had banked in the run-up on Britain opting to remain in the EU based on polls and bookmakers’ predictions. London’s benchmark FTSE-100 index plummeted 7.5 per cent after opening but began to recover some of the losses after British Prime Minister David Cameron said he would step down.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The BSE Sensex still ended the day 605 points lower, its biggest single-day fall in over four months, while the rupee closed 71 paise down at 67.96 against the US dollar, its lowest level in four months.

Brexit impact: Why India need not worry about Britain’s adieu to EU

As I write this on the morning of 24 June, the results of the British poll on whether to exit the EU are still coming in, but it looks like the ‘Leave’ option is winning by a narrow margin. The perceptive S Gurumurthy tweeted that there are three reasons for the anger that seems to have driven that verdict, despite an all-out, full-court press by the ruling Tories: “anger against immigration, against globalisation, and against loss of control over the nation”.

A trader from BGC, a global brokerage company in London's Canary Wharf financial centre reacts during trading on 24 June 2016 after Britain voted to leave the European Union in the EU BREXIT referendum. ReutersA trader from BGC, a global brokerage company in London's Canary Wharf financial centre reacts during trading on 24 June 2016 after Britain voted to leave the European Union in the EU BREXIT referendum. Reuters

A trader from BGC, a global brokerage company in London’s Canary Wharf financial centre reacts during trading on 24 June 2016 after Britain voted to leave the European Union in the EU referendum. Reuters

Those neo-nationalist sentiments are probably quite closely related to the anger that’s driving the Donald Trump campaign in the US, where the primary issue is economic, including inequality and job loss, and the visible deterioration in public services, including roads and bridges. In a sense, Brexit gives a boost to the Trump campaign. It is the very same faceless deep state that Hillary Clinton represents that was given the boot by the British public. Besides, the Orlando mass killing by a man accused of being close to Islamic State also makes Americans paranoid about immigrants.

Now, a point of fact, Britain would largely have been better off staying in the EU, because of that old saw, “divided we fall, united we stand”. As a stand-alone power, Britain’s heft is limited and diminishing; but as part of the European Union, which by some measure is the largest single market in the world, it had a lot more clout in trade negotiations.

There’s always been a certain vanity that can best be termed as “British exceptionalism”, or perhaps precisely “English exceptionalism”, as the English view the Scots and so on with supercilious disdain. God is an Englishman, goes the title of a book about colonial Brits lording over the despised Indians. Well, my response is, “if so, God has a sense of humor”. Because the British are doomed to irrelevance as a smallish economy with no great competitive advantage.

As an inveterate Anglophobe, I am trying to not let schadenfreude get the better of me. In some sense, the collapse of Britain is sad, because then we will find it difficult to extract from them the $10 trillion they stole from us in their 200 years of loot; forgetting for a moment the total extinguishing of Indian small-scale industry, as well as lasting damage to culture and nation. But then, it was always going to be difficult to pry reparations from them anyway, I console myself.

The immediate impact on India is quite small. Britain does sell some $460 billion worth of products, here’s a breakdown of their top 10 exports, but there are very good second sources for all of them: Machines, engines and pumps, gems and precious metals, vehicles, pharmaceuticals, oil, electronic equipment, aircraft and spacecraft, medical and technical equipment, organic chemicals, and plastics

It’s not clear if they have a major competitive advantage in any of these. A culture has developed that disdains engineering and the actual making of goods (odd since it was the very first economy that industrialised, or maybe that is the very reason) as opposed to the creation of theories and ideas (which are respected) and that may be the reason for the rapid de-industrialisation of the UK. The recent efforts by Tata Steel to offload its operations is an example of this lack of advantage.

The one area where Britain has succeeded most notably is financial services centered around the City of London. This is the very area that will, ironically, be most strongly affected by Brexit, as bankers will move operations to continental Europe or maybe even entrepots such as Dubai, Singapore or Hong Kong. Britain’s services exports were over $220 billion in 2015, second only to the US, mostly thanks to the spread of English around the world. British journalism and TV/film do command a premium.

None of this affects India very much, except for those expatriate Indians living in Britain, who may want to rethink their long-term plans. It is almost certain that anti-immigrant sentiment will get worse (especially against brown people, but also against Eastern European whites such as the legendary ‘Polish plumber’).

Therefore the steep drop of over 1,000 points in the Sensex this morning is a short-term phenomenon that should right itself soon. It is based on international cues (and herd instinct) without any major local impact. In the long run, an impoverished Britain, with a sterling hammered down, could potentially be a competitor in some of India’s export markets.

Otherwise, the UK doesn’t matter much to India: it is only number 18 in terms of total trade in the last 15 years, number five as an export market accounting for only 3.4 percent of India’s exports, and not even in the top 10 as an import market. We can well afford to ignore the UK market.

There’s hardly anything Britain produces that the rest of the world needs: If you said single malt Scotch whiskey, that’s true, but there’s a fair chance that the Scots will secede from Britain soon (they almost did in the last referendum, and I think more Scots wanted to remain in the EU in Friday’s polls than they wanted to remain in the UK in the previous poll). Other than that, fabled British brands are no longer theirs: Rolls Royce is owned by BMW of Germany (along with the Cooper Mini); Jaguar Land Rover is owned by Tata of India, and so on.

Just about the only thing they have is that there’s a demand for costume dramas churned out by the BBC (Downton Abbey), journalism, literature music/culture, museums (where they have arranged their global loot nicely), and education. Their biggest cultural export is that lowbrow kitsch, James Bond. I am not sure you can run a country on these things.

General MacArthur said it best about old soldiers: they don’t die, they just fade away. The same is true of old empires. And good riddance, too, to the world’s most destructive imperialists.

London to mark International Yoga Day with a series of events

The city of London will mark the International Day of Yoga (IDY) on June 21 with a series of events near the iconic Tower Bridge and on the river Thames over the next few days, the Indian High Commission said on Friday. The high commission announced that the main event to mark the day will be held at the Potters Fields Park, near the iconic Tower Bridge on Sunday and is expected to be attended by hundreds of people.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The event is for British friends to enjoy and benefit from the life changing experience of yoga,” a high commission statement said.Some of the other key events include a floating yoga event on board a barge named ‘Avontuur’ on the River Thames on Monday morning, to be attended by Indian envoy to the UK Navtej Sarna among others.Another on the 73rd floor of The Shard – London’s famous skyscraper and the tallest building in the UK, on Tuesday – the official UN designated date for IDY.The resolution for International Yoga Day was proposed to the UN General Assembly by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year. The initiative found unprecedented support and was adopted by 177 member states without a vote in record time to declare June 21 as International Day of Yoga.British MP Bob Blackman also plans to table an Early Day Motion (EDM) on the International Day of Yoga in the coming weeks, calling for “Yoga to be included as part of mindfulness and well-being initiatives for NHS (National Health Service) staff and for Yoga to be integrated within treatment for patients”. It also calls on the UK’s Department of Education to “introduce Yoga in the school physical education (PE) curriculum”.

Sharapova appeals against two-year doping ban | Reuters

LONDON Five-times grand slam champion Maria Sharapova is seeking to have her two-year doping ban wiped out or reduced as she lodged an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Tuesday.

The 29-year-old Russian was banned by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) earlier this month following a positive test for the banned drug meldonium during January’s Australian Open.

“In her appeal to the CAS, Ms Sharapova seeks the annulment of the Tribunal’s decision to sanction her with a two-year period of ineligibility further to an anti-doping rule violation,” sport’s highest tribunal said in a statement.

“Ms Sharapova submits that the period of ineligibility should be eliminated, or in the alternative, reduced.”

The statement added that her case had been expedited and a ruling would be made by July 18 at the latest, which means Sharapova still harbours hopes of competing at the Rio Olympics in August provided her ban is reduced to time already served.

The former world number one was named in Russia’s official entry list for the Olympics tennis tournament.

Sharapova had called the ITF’s ruling “unfairly harsh” as an independent tribunal had found that she had not intentionally violated anti-doping rules.

Meldonium was added to WADA’s list of banned substances at the start of the year after mounting evidence that it boosted blood flow and enhanced athletic performance.

About 180 athletes have tested positive for the drug, manufactured in Latvia and common throughout eastern Europe, since January.

Sharapova stunned the sporting world in March when she announced that she had tested positive for meldonium, a component of a product named Mildronate which she has taken since 2006 for health issues.

(Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Ken Ferris)

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

Why Leander Paes is forced to play single in doubles?

Speak with any All India Tennis Association (AITA) official or even the contemporaries of Leander Paes, and they will tell you why no one is keen on partnering Paes when it comes to representing India.The problem with Paes is that of mistrust. It’s well known that AITA president Anil Khanna has given Paes a long rope to do whatever he wants to do with the Davis Cup and Olympics partners.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The 2012 London Olympics fiasco was an example, when Mahesh Bhupathi suffered. But now it’s 2016, and it’s Rio. Bhupathi has every reason to get back at Paes, and he shares a good rapport with his Karnataka mate Rohan Bopanna.Even more, Bopanna is No.10 in world doubles ranking, which gives him the right to pick his partner for Rio. dna has learnt that Bopanna has conveyed to AITA that he wants to combine with Saketh Myneni, India’s fifth-ranked doubles player and World No.125, as his partner for Rio.”I look forward to representing India at my second Olympics and consider it a privilege, responsibility and honour. A direct acceptance provides me the right to nominate my men’s doubles partner, an opportunity for me to exercise my judgment as to the best possible partner for me. I am looking forward to the support and good wishes of all concerned in the lead-up to the Olympics,” Bopanna said in a statement on Friday, refusing to reveal the name.AITA’s selection committee, headed by former Davis Cup captain SP Misra, will meet here on Saturday to name the Olympics and Davis Cup team. The selection panel has to stamp its approval on Bopanna-Myneni pairing, because the International Tennis Federation (ITF) rule states that a doubles team has to be nominated by the national association.It is learnt that frantic efforts were on to convince Bopanna to pick Paes for his seventh consecutive Olympics. However, the former stuck to his stand.Even Sania Mirza, who is World No.1 in women’s doubles, isn’t too keen on partnering Paes in the mixed doubles. Mirza, who has signed up with Globosport – which is managed by Bhupathi’s family – has apparently preferred Bopanna as her mixed doubles partner.This time, AITA has to listen to Mirza after denying her choice of partner before the 2012 London Olympics. Back then, Mirza was forced to play with Paes when she wanted to play with Bhupathi. Paes, a top-10 player then, was not given the chance to pair with Bopanna. Instead, Bopanna preferred to team up with Bhupathi after earning a wild card entry. Thus, to appease Paes, Mirza was forced by AITA to play with Paes.This time, however, India can field only one team in men’s doubles due to the absence of wild cards and lack of enough high-ranked players.”Bopanna wouldn’t be allowed to make an unjust demand,” a senior AITA official said. “Paes is the next highest-ranked doubles player after Bopanna and he has wealth of experience. Bopanna is forgetting what he did to Paes before London Olympics. That time, Paes was India’s highest-ranked doubles player and wanted to partner Bopanna. But Bopanna played politics and partnered Bhupathi after getting the wild card, which was arranged by AITA just to send the two teams. Paes was left to partner a lowly-ranked Vishnu Vardhan and we all know the results. History is repeating itself.”

Indian-origin UK journalist Hasan Suroor found not guilty in paedophile sting case

London: A UK court on Tuesday dropped a case of “sexual grooming” against an Indian-origin British journalist and columnist Hasan Suroor for lack of evidence and declared him not guilty.

Suroor, who was arrested by British Transport Police (BTP) last November after an anti-paedophile sting operation in London, is now planning to sue the vigilante group, Unknown TV, behind the sting for damages.

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File photo of Hasan Suroor. Twitter @hasansuroor

“Following a further review of the case there is now no longer a realistic prospect of conviction,” the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) told Blackfriars Crown Court in a written submission on Tuesday.

The judge ruled that he had decided to return an “unequivocal verdict of not guilty”.

A written order declaring Suroor innocent is to be issued on 24 June along with a ruling on his application for his legal costs to be reimbursed.

Suroor’s lawyer Paul Mason said: “The robust stand we took has paid off.”

The CPS is yet to officially comment on the case.

Suroor had been caught on camera as he was confronted by members of Unknown TV, organisers of the sting operation who alleged he was waiting for a 14-year-old girl.

A member of the anti-paedophile vigilante group had allegedly posed as a 14-year-old and allegedly solicited  Suroor on social media.

Groups such as Unknown TV pose as minors on dating and social networking sites in an attempt to catch adult men who solicit sex with minors.

Indian-origin journalist found not guilty in paedophile sting case

A UK court on Tuesday dropped a case of “sexual grooming” against an Indian-origin British journalist and columnist Hasan Suroor for lack of evidence and declared him not guilty.Suroor, who was arrested by British Transport Police (BTP) last November after an anti-paedophile sting operation in London, is now planning to sue the vigilante group, Unknown TV, behind the sting for damages.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Following a further review of the case there is now no longer a realistic prospect of conviction,” the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) told Blackfriars Crown Court in a written submission today. The judge ruled that he had decided to return an “unequivocal verdict of not guilty”.A written order declaring Suroor innocent is to be issued on June 24 along with a ruling on his application for his legal costs to be reimbursed. Suroor’s lawyer Paul Mason said: “The robust stand we took has paid off. “The CPS is yet to officially comment on the case. Suroor had been caught on camera as he was confronted by members of Unknown TV, organisers of the sting operation who alleged he was waiting for a 14-year-old girl A member of the anti-paedophile vigilante group had allegedly posed as a 14-year-old and allegedly solicited Suroor on social media. Groups such as Unknown TV pose as minors on dating and social networking sites in an attempt to catch adult men who solicit sex with minors.

Jinxed film?

A critically acclaimed 1958 Pakistani film, boasting a “curious collaboration” with India, makes a rare appearance at last month’s Cannes festival.

Vadra benami deal: ED issues notice to arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari

New Delhi: The probe into the financial dealings of arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari took a new turn on Wednesday with the Enforcement Directorate serving him notice seeking bank accounts and details of his properties.

The ED action has come even as the Income Tax has sought information from some countries about the properties purchased by him, one of which is said to have been owned and later sold by Robert Vadra in London allegedly facilitated by Bhandari. PTI

The ED action has come even as the IT has sought information from some countries about the properties purchased by him, one of which is said to have been owned and later sold by Robert Vadra in London allegedly facilitated by Bhandari. PTI

The ED action has come even as the Income Tax has sought information from some countries about the properties purchased by him, one of which is said to have been owned and later sold by Robert Vadra in London allegedly facilitated by Bhandari.

Bhandari is also likely to face a case under the Officials Secrets Act as Income Tax department had allegedly recovered minutes of the meeting of Defence Acquisition from his residence during raids in the last week of April this year.

The ED has been shared with all the documents and information by the Income Tax department about Bhandari.

Efforts to reach Bhandari did not fructify as he neither replied to phone calls or messages sent on his mobile telephone.

The Enforcement Directorate may file a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) once the Defence Ministry gives its opinion about the classification of defence documents is recovered and a case under OSA is registered against him.

Income Tax returns of Bhandari and his set of companies besides Vadra’s companies are being examined afresh by the tax sleuths before raising a tax demand on him.

In the meantime, requests have been sent to various countries where Bhandari had opened a web of companies to share the bank information details, the sources said.

AAP slams Modi for ‘not taking action’ against Robert Vadra

Aam Aadmi Party Punjab In-charge Sanjay Singh took attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “not” taking action against Robert Vadra, son-in-Law of Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi, for his alleged involvement in scams.He alleged that before Lok Sabha elections Modi used to claim he would send Vadra to jail for his alleged involvement in land scam but after coming to power he “did not” utter his name even once.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Singh said Congress and BJP were “two sides of the same coin” and “befooling” the citizens of the country.Referring to reports that arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari allegedly facilitated purchase of a property in London for Vadra, Singh said, “Funds came from him (Bhandari)”, and it is “evident the money was paid to Vadra for securing (defence) deals in previous UPA government”.”Despite having all proofs against Vadra, what is stopping Modi from initiating action against him,” he said. “Before elections, BJP released a CD and booklet of allegations of scam against Robert Vadra, was that also a Jumla?” Singh asked. He demanded that Modi fulfil his promise by taking action against Vadra.

Almost 46 million people trapped in slavery with North Korea, India key offenders – global index | Reuters

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Almost 46 million people are living as slaves globally with the greatest number in India but the highest prevalence in North Korea, according to the third Global Slavery Index launched on Tuesday with Australian actor Russell Crowe.

The index, by Australia-based human rights group Walk Free Foundation, increased its estimate of people born into servitude, trafficked for sex work, or trapped in debt bondage or forced labour to 45.8 million from 35.8 million in 2014.

Andrew Forrest, founder of Walk Free, said the rise of nearly 30 percent was due to better data collection, although he feared the situation was getting worse with global displacement and migration increasing vulnerability to all forms of slavery.

Forrest, an Australian mining billionaire and philanthropist, urged businesses to check their supply chains for worker exploitation, saying he found thousands of people trapped in slavery making goods for his company Fortescue Metals Group.

“But I’ve had some of some biggest entrepreneurs in the world look me in the eye and say I will not look for slavery in case I find it,” he said at the launch of the index in London.

Crowe, who played Roman general-turned-slave Maximus in the 2000 movie “Gladiator”, described the plight of people “in our communities who are stuck, utterly helpless and trapped in a cycle of despair and degradation with no choice and no hope.”

“As an actor, my role is often to portray raw human emotion, but nothing compares with the people’s lives reflected in the report published today,” he said.

“The shock of reading the Global Slavery Index was one that I wouldn’t step away from.”

Incidences of slavery were found in all 167 countries in the index, with India home to the largest total number with an estimated 18.4 million slaves among its 1.3 billion population.

But Forrest said India deserved credit for starting to address this problem with the government this week unveiling a draft of its first comprehensive anti-human trafficking law to treat survivors as victims rather than criminals.

North Korea ranked as worst in terms of concentration with one in every 20 people – or 4.4 percent of its 25 million population – in slavery and its government doing the least to end this with reports of state-sanctioned forced labour.

“We need to make it clear we’re not going to tolerate slavery and when there is slavery in a regime we should not trade with them,” Forrest told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

NUMBERS CRITICISED

Forrest acknowledged the latest data was likely to attract criticism with some researchers accusing the index of flawed methodology by extrapolating on-the-ground surveys in some countries to estimate numbers for other nations.

The 2016 index was based on interviews with about 42,000 people by pollster Gallup in 53 languages in 25 countries.

But Forrest said a lack of hard data on slavery in the past had held back efforts to tackle this hidden crime and it was important to draw a “sand in the line” measurement to drive action. He challenged critics to produce an alternative.

The United Nation’s International Labour Organization estimates 21 million people globally are victims of forced labour but this does not take into account all forms of slavery.

“Without measurement you don’t have effective management and there’s no way to lead the world away from slavery,” he said.

Forrest said the Global Slavery Index aims to measure the prevalence of slavery in the 167 most populous countries as well as the level of vulnerability of people to enslavement and strength of government efforts to combat this.

The 2016 index again found Asia, which provides low-skilled labour in global supply chains producing clothing, food and technology, accounted for two-thirds of the people in slavery.

About 58 percent of people living in slavery are in five countries – India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Uzbekistan.

However the countries with the highest proportion of their population enslaved were North Korea, Uzbekistan, and Cambodia.

The governments taking the least action to tackle slavery were listed as North Korea, Iran, Eritrea, Equatorial Guinea, and Hong Kong.

By contrast the governments taking most action were the Netherlands, the United States, Britain, Sweden and Australia.

Forrest said a reason for launching the index in Britain was to acknowledge the lead set by the UK government which last year brought in the 2015 Modern Slavery Act.

While Europe has the lowest regional prevalence of slavery, Walk Free said it was a source and destination for forced labour and sexual exploitation. The impact of a mass influx of migrants and refugees fleeing conflicts and poverty has yet to be seen.

Crowe said slavery was a problem that was not going away.

“I think all of us should keep focused on it until we get to that point … where it just gets pushed over the edge and it’s finished,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)

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

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal warns discoms over power outages

New Delhi: In a stern warning to discoms, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday said they will be made to compensate consumers for even one-hour-long outage if they do not spruce up their supply network in the next six months.

The warning has come in the wake of Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) issuing an order to discoms and power distribution companies to compensate consumers for unscheduled outages extending up to two hours. Penalties can go up to Rs 100 per hour.

Kejriwal said there is need to make discoms “accountable for outages” and then, Delhiites will be benefited from the privatisation of power sector.

A file photo of Arvind Kejriwal. AFPA file photo of Arvind Kejriwal. AFP

A file photo of Arvind Kejriwal. AFP

“For now, we have asked discoms to compensate consumers for unscheduled power cuts extending up to two hours, but after six months if there is no improvement in their power supply network, government will bring it down to one hour norm,” he said here.

“The privatisation of power sector had been done in order to provide better facility of electricity to Delhiites,”
Kejriwal said, adding that the accountability of power distribution companies will be questioned if power outages continue.

“Why electricity wires and transfers get damaged only in Delhi? Why is there no such incidents in Washington, London and New York?” he asked.

“We will also make Delhi a world-class city and for this, the accountability of discoms should be fixed for power outages. They should be penalised for outages. There will then be benefit of privatisation of power sector in the national capital,” he added.

As per the DERC’s order issued yesterday, power distribution companies will have to compensate to consumers for unscheduled power cuts extending up to two hours.

The move followed frequent power outages this month in the midst of an intense heatwave. However, power companies had attributed the blackouts to local faults.

It’s a conspiracy for ‘Congress mukt bharat’: Sonia Gandhi on Vadra’s alleged benami property

Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday dared the government to conduct an inquiry in connecting with the alleged benami property of her son-in-law Robert Vadra in London.The Congress chief who is in her parliamentary constituency Raebareli, said, “Let them (government) conduct an inquiry, the truth will come out.”She further added that the government was levelling new allegations every day and it was a conspiracy for a “Congress mukt bharat.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Speaking about the celebrations on the two years of the Modi government, Gandhi said, “I have never seen something like this. Modiji is a PM not a Shehenshah.””Our nation is facing drought, poverty, farmers are in pain; at these times a ‘show’ is not appropriate,” she added.
ALSO READ Does Vadra have a benami house in London? I-T sleuths seize mails about propertyOn June 1, the Raebareli MP will meet people, district party leaders and workers at Bhuemau guest house and will inaugurate the Jan Suvidha Kendra at Vikas Bhawan. Later, she will attend a meeting of the District Vigilance and Monitoring Committee

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif to undergo open-heart surgery in London

Islamabad: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is in London for medical check-up, will undergo an open-heart surgery on Tuesday, according to his daughter.

Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz tweeted that her father will undergo the open-heart surgery.

“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif undergoing open heart surgery on Tuesday. Prayers are the most effective and potent medicine. Millions will pray for him. Insha Allah he’ll be fine,” she tweeted last night.

Maryam went on to explain her 66-year-old father’s medical condition, saying: “In 2011 Nawaz Sharif had a cardiac procedure called ‘Atrial Fibrillation Ablation’, during which certain complications occurred resulting in perforation of heart which was in turn treated by open heart surgery.”

Nawaz SharifNawaz Sharif

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. File Photo. Reuters

Therefore, Sharif had been visiting his doctor for follow up, she said. “After some recent symptoms a team of cardiologists and cardiac surgeons carried out some scans and tests, following which they decided to go for an open heart surgery,” she said.

The prime minister will be on specific medication for the next three days before his surgery on Tuesday, Maryam said.

“The recovery period and hospital stay will be one week. Nawaz Sharif will travel back to Pakistan as soon as the doctors allow,” she added.

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif also said doctors have advised Sharif to undergo an open-heart surgery, following which he will be staying in the hospital for a week in London.

“The prime minister will travel after one week, on doctor’s permission,” Asif, who is also a confidante of the premier, said on Friday in Islamabad.

This is Sharif’s second trip to London for medical check-up in recent weeks.

He had undergone a check-up in Pakistan last month following which he decided to visit London for a proper medical assessment. He went to London on 22 May for a medical check-up and was supposed to return in a week.

His surgery will be conducted at London’s The Princess Grace Hospital, which is considered one of the best-equipped multi-disciplinary hospital in the UK capital.

Sharif has been facing pressure from opposition political parties at home to conduct a thorough investigation into the Panama Papers leaked documents —which show that members of his family own undeclared offshore wealth and expensive property in London. Some leaders in Pakistan have demanded Sharif to step down amid the scandal.

Sharif and his family have denied any wrongdoing.

Bomb disposal team carry out controlled explosion at Man Utd stadium | Reuters

LONDON A controlled explosion was carried out on a suspect package in Manchester United’s Old Trafford ground on Sunday, police said.

Earlier a Premier League match between United and Bournemouth was abandoned and the stadium evacuated before kickoff following the discovery of the package.

“A controlled explosion has just been carried out within the stadium by bomb disposal experts at Old Trafford. More to follow,” Greater Manchester Police said on Twitter.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; editing by Andrew Roche)

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

70-year-old woman on wheel chair not allowed to board Air India flight to New York

A 70-year-old woman passenger on wheel chair was not allowed to board her Air India flight to New York from Mumbai via Delhi allegedly due to ‘over booking.’The incident took place on Saturday. The woman was later flown on the airline’s Delhi-London Heathrow flight to provide her a connecting flight for her destination, New York today, an Air India official said.Air India attributed the denial of boarding to the woman passengers on its flight AI 101 (Mumbai-Delhi-New York) due to the cancellation of its same flight on Thursday.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The incident was brought out by her daughter, who tweeted, seeking airline’s help in this regard.”Air India has offloaded my 70y mother from her US flight becoz of overbooking. She is wheelchair-bound and scared. Please help! @airindiain,” she said in her tweet.”In fact, Air India flight which was to depart for New York via Delhi was cancelled due to some technical issue. As a result some of the passengers of that flight were accommodated in its Friday’s flight, leading to denial of boarding to many passengers including this woman,” airline sources said.All the stranded passengers were given accommodation, the official said, adding, “the woman passenger was later flown to Delhi from where she boarded Air India flight AI 115 for London. The London staff was also informed of her arrival and told to provide her all help in getting a connecting Air India flight to New York from there.”

Regularisation of ‘odd-even’ will reduce its impact: TERI

Regularisation of the ‘odd-even’ scheme will “reduce” its impact and it should only be used as an emergency measure, a green body on Tuesday said, underlining the need for implementing alternative measures like “congestion pricing” to lessen the number of vehicles on roads to tackle air pollution.The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) which released an impact assessment study on the two-phases of odd-even scheme observed that as private cars have limited contribution in the PM2.5 levels, the scheme yielded only “marginal” reductions (4-7 per cent) during both the phases. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>TERI observed that the impact of the scheme with respect to traffic counts, average speeds and air quality declined during the second phase in comparison to the first phase and the decline could be probably due to people opting for “second cars with alternative number plates, installations of CNG kits or enhanced use of taxis”.”The results of the two phases of odd-even scheme in Delhi suggest that it is useful only when high pollution episodes are expected. We do not see merit in regularising the scheme. “A more sustainable approach for dealing with air pollution not only in Delhi but also in other metropolises would be congestion pricing, which is a far more effective option,” Director General of TERI Ajay Mathur said. Congestion pricing is based on a ‘pay-as-you-use’ principle with an aim to reduce the number of vehicles and in turn encourage modal shift by charging vehicles on entry in restricted zones and times. This can be complemented by providing exemptions to higher-occupancy vehicles. TERI said that such a model has proved to be successful in cities such as Singapore, London, Sweden, Rome, Durham, Seoul, San Diego etc. The congestion pricing scheme can be first tried out in different ways including, all across congestion pricing, identification of low-emission zones and road-wise congestion pricing, TERI said. TERI also urged the government to ensure the earliest possible introduction of BS-VI vehicle and fuel quality norms, real-time monitoring and reporting of industrial emissions in NCR and the need for business models to convert agricultural wastes into energy using biomass gasification technologies.Sumit Sharma, fellow at TERI, said that the measures, which were taken, were more to control particulate matter rather than Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx). “We need multi-sectoral measures for the whole NCR to effectively reduce air pollutant levels, which calls for regular air quality management plans based on scientific studies,” he said.While TERI acknowledged that the scheme was successful in raising public awareness on air pollution as well as in improving traffic speeds, it also cautioned against the regularization of this scheme, saying the rule should at best be used as an emergency measure. The body said that during phase II of the scheme, the general variation of PM 2.5 concentration due to daily changes in local emissions, meteorology and background concentrations (influences from outside Delhi) was 42 per cent.The reduction achieved from the scheme during this phase seems too small (4 per cent) to be captured among the other more dominating factors. TERI said that as in the case of other cities in the world that have tried out the scheme, people could look for alternatives by purchasing new or old cars which would, over a period of time, neutralise and negate the positive impacts. “This is likely to happen as the public transportation system is not reliable and attractive enough to encourage the car users to shift to public transport.”Hence, the odd-even scheme should be used only as an emergency measure when the pollution levels are expected to be very high like winters. Regularizing it or its frequent use may only reduce its impacts, unless public transportation is improved and sales of alternative vehicles are checked,” it said.TERI emphasized that air quality management plans should be based on scientific studies that are updated every 3-5 years and air-quality targets must be defined for each year and strategies must be enforced to achieve them in line with these plans.TERI said that during phase-II of the scheme, the averaged PM2.5 concentrations at five locations were 1.4-4.3 times higher than prescribed 24-hourly standard, NO2 concentrations were 0.6 1.36 times the prescribed standard while PM10 levels were 1.8 4.0 times above the prescribed standard.

Tribal rights activist offloaded from Air India flight, airline distances itself from controversy

New Delhi: Tribal rights activist Gladson Dungdung was offloaded from a London-bound Air India flight on Monday morning even as the national carrier sought to distance itself from the incident saying he was offloaded by “government authority”.

In a Facebook post, Dungdung said he was offloaded by Air India from Delhi-London flight AI 115.

“The reason told to me is that my passport had been impounded in 2013, therefore, they will send it back to RTO, Ranchi for verification. The fact is that my passport was impounded in 2013 and returned to me after proper verification in 2014,” he said.

Image courtesy: Twitter/@GladsonDungDungImage courtesy: Twitter/@GladsonDungDung

Image courtesy: Twitter/@GladsonDungDung

Thereafter, he said he had attended a couple of international conferences in Denmark and London in 2014 and 2015 subsequently but there was no issue at all.

In a statement, Air India said it dissociates itself from the issue as “Dungdung was offloaded by Immigration/Government Authority”.

Last year too, a major controversy had erupted when Priya Pillai, a Greenpeace activist, was offloaded from a flight to the UK.

According to Dungdung’s post, he was going to attend the Workshop on Environmental History and Politics of South Asia to be held in the University of Sussex, UK on 10 May.

“I am sure that this is a clear impact of my book ‘Mission Saranda: A War for Natural Resources in India’.

Defaulters of millions of INR like Vijay Malaya can’t be offloaded but activists like me are bound to be offloaded,” Dungdung said in the post.

“My fight for the Adivasis’ ownership rights over the natural resources, adivasi identity, human rights, ecology and against unjust development processes will continue till they take away my right to life forever,” he wrote.

Amazing Leicester celebrate fairytale title success | Reuters

LONDON Leicester City’s Premier League title dream became reality on Monday when one of the greatest sporting fairytales reached its conclusion in west London where chasing Tottenham Hotspur were held 2-2 by Chelsea.

The result provoked an outpouring of celebration in the provincial English city and as far away as Thailand and Japan, while Leicester’s players had watched nervously on television along with Foxes fans packed into local bars 160km away.

Goals from Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Son Heung-min had looked like extending the title race to the penultimate week of what has been an unforgettable season.

But Gary Cahill gave Chelsea a lifeline before the hour and Eden Hazard, whose goals helped the Blues win the title last year, curled in a superb 83rd-minute equaliser to deflate Spurs and confirm Leicester as champions for the first time.

As tempers flared at the end of a red-hot London derby at Stamford Bridge, television pictures cut away to Leicester’s players celebrating in the living room of their striker Jamie Vardy, whose 22 goals have under-pinned his side’s challenge.

Elsewhere in Leicester, the city’s biggest ever party began in earnest, with hundreds of fans gathering outside the stadium and thousands more celebrating in pubs and bars.

Leicester’s unlikely journey from no-hopers to English champions has captivated sports fans worldwide, nowhere more so than in Thailand, home of the club’s owners King Power.

Claudio Ranieri, the former Chelsea manager who has masterminded Leicester’s rise since taking over at the start of the season, was celebrating the first major league title of his long managerial career.

PROUD RANIERI

“I’m so proud,” the Italian, who was favourite in August to become the first manager to be sacked, said.

“I never expected this when I arrived. I’m a pragmatic man, I just wanted to win match after match and help my players to improve week after week. Never did I think too much about where it would take us.”

Defender Wes Morgan, who scored a vital equaliser in the 1-1 draw at Manchester United on Sunday, said: “Saturday can’t come quickly enough. I can’t wait to get my hands on the trophy.”

With two games left, Leicester are seven points ahead of Tottenham and Saturday’s home match against Everton will now become a glorious celebration for a club who were in the third tier of English soccer just seven years ago.

Tottenham had been hoping to claim a first English league title since 1961, when they won the double by beating Leicester in the FA Cup final, but fell short in agonising circumstances at Stamford Bridge where they have not won in 26 years.

“Congratulations to Leicester City and to Claudio Ranieri. A fantastic season,” Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino said.

“It’s a massive, amazing season for Leicester, Claudio the players and the fans. They deserve it.”

Unfashionable Leicester, 5,000-1 outsiders at the start of the season, have become English champions for the first time and are the first club to win a maiden English title since Nottingham Forest in 1977-78, having left the likes of Manchester City and United, Chelsea and Arsenal in their wake.

FINAL ACT

Oddly, the biggest match in Leicester’s history was one they were not involved in as the final act of an absorbing title race was played out between last year’s champions and a Tottenham side who have refused to give up the chase.

But Ranieri’s intrepid team had already done the damage, churning out results to stay top of the table since Jan. 23 while their rivals fell by the wayside.

Since losing to Arsenal on Feb. 14, they won seven and drew three of their next 10 games.

Incredibly, Leicester spent half of last season bottom of the league before a late surge lifted them clear of relegation.

With Ranieri replacing Nigel Pearson as manager, they continued that momentum and from being pre-season tips for the drop, became title contenders as former non-league journeyman Vardy scored in a record 11 consecutive Premier League games.

Even when they hit the top in January, many thought Leicester would fade, as they did in 1963, the last time they were in with a chance of the title.

As the chasing pack thinned, however, Tottenham hung on to Leicester’s coat tails but substitute Hazard’s late goal sealed the destiny of the title, which left bookmakers up and down the country licking their wounds to the tune of millions of pounds.

“People will be talking about this in 100 years time,” Sky Sports pundit and former Liverpool player Jamie Carragher said.

Former England striker Alan Shearer won the title in 1995 with Blackburn Rovers.

“For a team like Leicester to come and take the giants on with their wealth and experience — I think it’s the biggest thing to happen in football,” he said.

(Editing by Ken Ferris and Ed Osmond)

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

Australian says he created bitcoin, but some sceptical | Reuters

SYDNEY/LONDON Australian tech entrepreneur Craig Wright identified himself as the creator of controversial digital currency bitcoin on Monday but experts were divided over whether he really was the elusive person who has gone by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto until now.

Uncovering Nakamoto’s real identity would solve a riddle dating back to the publication of the open source software behind the cryptocurrency in 2008, before its launch a year later.

Bitcoin has since become the world’s most commonly used virtual currency, attracting the interest of banks, speculators, criminals and regulators.

Worth a total of $7 billion at current levels, it fell more than 3 percent on Monday — a normal intraday move for the volatile currency — after the news, to below $440 from around $455, before recovering slightly.

Some online commentators suggested bitcoin’s creator could help resolve a bitter row among the currency’s software developers that threatens its future.

But Wright made no reference to the row in a BBC interview identifying himself as Nakamoto, and as the protocol bitcoin runs on is open-source and cannot be controlled by any one person, it is unclear whether he would be able to influence the way it develops.

“I was the main part of it, other people helped me,” Wright, who is now living in London, told the BBC. “Some people will believe, Some people won’t, and to tell you the truth, I don’t really care,” he said.

Many bitcoiners said Wright had not done enough to definitively prove that he was Nakamoto, who maintained his anonymity throughout his involvement with bitcoin, which he stepped away from in 2011.

But Gavin Andresen, who Nakamoto chose to succeed him, published a blog post in which he described meeting Wright last month and said he is “convinced beyond a reasonable doubt” that the Australian is Nakamoto.

Jon Matonis, a founding director of the Bitcoin Foundation now works as a bitcoin consultant, wrote a blog post on Monday which, like Andresen’s, supported Wright’s claims.

“According to me, the proof is conclusive and I have no doubt that Craig Steven Wright is the person behind the Bitcoin technology, Nakamoto consensus, and the Satoshi Nakamoto name,” Matonis wrote. He and Andresen also confirmed they had been responsible for their respective blog posts to Reuters directly.

LEGACY

Nakamoto’s biggest likely legacy lies well beyond his control. The blockchain technology that underpins the currency could transform the way banks settle transactions, the way that property rights and other vital data are recorded, and provide a way for central banks to issue their own digital currencies.

The BBC reported on Monday that Wright gave some technical proof demonstrating that he had access to blocks of bitcoins known to have been created by bitcoin’s creator.

Researchers believe Nakamoto may be holding up to one million of the more than 15 million bitcoins currently in circulation, which would make the creator worth around $440 million.

In a blog post also dated Monday, Wright posted an example of a signature used by Nakamoto and an explanation of how bitcoin transactions are verified and thanked all those who had supported the project from its inception.

“This incredible community’s passion and intellect and perseverance have taken my small contribution and nurtured it, enhanced it, breathed life into it,” he wrote.

However he did not state directly that he was Nakamoto. “Satoshi is dead,” he said. “But this is only the beginning.”

Bitcoin expert Peter Van Valkenburgh, director of research at Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group Coin Center, said a new message cryptographically signed using the private key associated with the so-called Genesis block, the first ever “mined” would have been more convincing.

The currency’s “miners” are incentivised to process transactions every 10 minutes by a possible reward of bitcoins (25 currently), which is how new bitcoins are created.

Wright also spoke with The Economist, but declined requests from the magazine to provide further proof that he was Nakamoto. His representatives told Reuters he would not be taking part in more media interviews for the time being. 

“Our conclusion is that Mr Wright could well be Mr Nakamoto, but that important questions remain,” The Economist said. “Indeed, it may never be possible to establish beyond reasonable doubt who really created bitcoin.”

Hopes that bitcoin would become broadly used helped buoy its price to more than $1,000 in December 2013, when its market capitalisation was $13 billion compared with today’s $7 billion.

Wright told The Economist he would exchange bitcoin he owns slowly to avoid pushing down its price.

HOME RAIDED

In December, police raided Wright’s Sydney home and office after Wired magazine named him as the probable creator of bitcoin and holder of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of the cryptocurrency. At the time he made no comment.

The treatment of bitcoins for tax purposes in Australia has been the subject of considerable debate. The Australian Tax Office (ATO) ruled in December 2014 that cryptocurrency should be considered an asset, rather than a currency, for capital gains tax purposes.

On Monday, the ATO said it had no comment while police were not immediately available for comment.

If Wright is Nakamoto he “is now the leader of a movement”, said Roberto Capodieci, a Singapore-based entrepreneur working on the blockchain, the technology underlying the currency.

That movement ranges from libertarian enthusiasts to central banks experimenting with digital currencies, all of which pay homage in some way to Nakamoto’s writings.

(Additional reporting by Jeremy Wagstaff in Singapore, Matt Siegel in Sydney and Paul Sandle in London; Editing by Nick Macfie, Raju Gopalakrishnan and Philippa Fletcher)

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

Australian says he created bitcoin, but some skeptical | Reuters

SYDNEY/LONDON Australian tech entrepreneur Craig Wright identified himself as the creator of controversial digital currency bitcoin on Monday but experts were divided over whether he really was the elusive person who has gone by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto until now.

Uncovering Nakamoto’s real identity would solve a riddle dating back to the publication of the open source software behind the cryptocurrency in 2008, before its launch a year later.

Bitcoin has since become the world’s most commonly used virtual currency, attracting the interest of banks, speculators, criminals and regulators.

Worth a total of $7 billion at current levels, it fell more than 3 percent on Monday — a normal intraday move for the volatile currency — after the news, to below $440 from around $455, before recovering slightly.

Some online commentators suggested bitcoin’s creator could help resolve a bitter row among the currency’s software developers that threatens its future.

But Wright made no reference to the row in a BBC interview identifying himself as Nakamoto, and as the protocol bitcoin runs on is open-source and cannot be controlled by any one person, it is unclear whether he would be able to influence the way it develops.

“I was the main part of it, other people helped me,” Wright, who is now living in London, told the BBC. “Some people will believe, Some people won’t, and to tell you the truth, I don’t really care,” he said.

Many bitcoiners said Wright had not done enough to definitively prove that he was Nakamoto, who maintained his anonymity throughout his involvement with bitcoin, which he stepped away from in 2011.

But Gavin Andresen, who Nakamoto chose to succeed him, published a blog post in which he described meeting Wright last month and said he is “convinced beyond a reasonable doubt” that the Australian is Nakamoto.

Jon Matonis, a founding director of the Bitcoin Foundation now works as a bitcoin consultant, wrote a blog post on Monday which, like Andresen’s, supported Wright’s claims.

“According to me, the proof is conclusive and I have no doubt that Craig Steven Wright is the person behind the Bitcoin technology, Nakamoto consensus, and the Satoshi Nakamoto name,” Matonis wrote. He and Andresen also confirmed they had been responsible for their respective blog posts to Reuters directly.

LEGACY

Nakamoto’s biggest likely legacy lies well beyond his control. The blockchain technology that underpins the currency could transform the way banks settle transactions, the way that property rights and other vital data are recorded, and provide a way for central banks to issue their own digital currencies.

The BBC reported on Monday that Wright gave some technical proof demonstrating that he had access to blocks of bitcoins known to have been created by bitcoin’s creator.

Researchers believe Nakamoto may be holding up to one million of the more than 15 million bitcoins currently in circulation, which would make the creator worth around $440 million.

In a blog post also dated Monday, Wright posted an example of a signature used by Nakamoto and an explanation of how bitcoin transactions are verified and thanked all those who had supported the project from its inception.

“This incredible community’s passion and intellect and perseverance have taken my small contribution and nurtured it, enhanced it, breathed life into it,” he wrote.

However he did not state directly that he was Nakamoto. “Satoshi is dead,” he said. “But this is only the beginning.”

Bitcoin expert Peter Van Valkenburgh, director of research at Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group Coin Center, said a new message cryptographically signed using the private key associated with the so-called Genesis block, the first ever “mined” would have been more convincing.

The currency’s “miners” are incentivized to process transactions every 10 minutes by a possible reward of bitcoins (25 currently), which is how new bitcoins are created.

Wright also spoke with The Economist, but declined requests from the magazine to provide further proof that he was Nakamoto. His representatives told Reuters he would not be taking part in more media interviews for the time being. 

“Our conclusion is that Mr Wright could well be Mr Nakamoto, but that important questions remain,” The Economist said. “Indeed, it may never be possible to establish beyond reasonable doubt who really created bitcoin.”

Hopes that bitcoin would become broadly used helped buoy its price to more than $1,000 in December 2013, when its market capitalization was $13 billion compared with today’s $7 billion.

Wright told The Economist he would exchange bitcoin he owns slowly to avoid pushing down its price.

HOME RAIDED

In December, police raided Wright’s Sydney home and office after Wired magazine named him as the probable creator of bitcoin and holder of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of the cryptocurrency. At the time he made no comment.

The treatment of bitcoins for tax purposes in Australia has been the subject of considerable debate. The Australian Tax Office (ATO) ruled in December 2014 that cryptocurrency should be considered an asset, rather than a currency, for capital gains tax purposes.

On Monday, the ATO said it had no comment while police were not immediately available for comment.

If Wright is Nakamoto he “is now the leader of a movement”, said Roberto Capodieci, a Singapore-based entrepreneur working on the blockchain, the technology underlying the currency.

That movement ranges from libertarian enthusiasts to central banks experimenting with digital currencies, all of which pay homage in some way to Nakamoto’s writings.

(Additional reporting by Jeremy Wagstaff in Singapore, Matt Siegel in Sydney and Paul Sandle in London; Editing by Nick Macfie, Raju Gopalakrishnan and Philippa Fletcher)

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