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Hyderabad: Five-year-old boy dies after falling in hot sambar vessel

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> A 5-year-old boy studying at a Government Primary School in Nalgonda district of Telangana died after falling in a vessel of hot sambar which was being prepared for mid-day meal, police said on Saturday.The incident occurred in Iduluru village on Saturday afternoon, when the boy, a first standard student, was standing in the queue along with other students when someone pushed him from behind and he fell into the hot sambar vessel, they said.”The boy, who suffered 70 per cent burns was initially taken to a government hospital in Nalgonda and later shifted to a state-run hospital in Hyderabad where he succumbed to his injuries around midnight,” Nakrekal Police Station Circle Inspector A Vishwaprasad told PTI over phone.Following a complaint by the grandfather of the deceased boy, a case of negligence was filed against three women cooks with Katangoor police station, the Inspector said.The District Collector visited the village and announced ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh, a government job and a house site to the family members of the deceased boy, police official said, adding the Head Master of the school was suspended and probe is on.

Iron out your differences first: Tribunal to ministries

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday directed the Union ministries of environment and water resources to sit down and resolve their differences on the issue of Zonal Master Plan for the Bhagirathi eco-sensitive zone. The three-member principal bench, headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar, refused to listen to the reservations of water resources ministry, and instead directed them to come back only when the issue between the two ministries was resolved.“On Monday, the ministry of water resources will be meeting with the ministry of environment and the Uttarakhand Government to clarify objections and deficiencies of the Zonal Master Plan, submitted by the state,” said justice Kumar. “In the next meeting, the matter should be finalised and the ministry of water resources should specify the way forward. The applicant will also be present in the meeting.”The directions of the bench came after counsel for water resources ministry said that they had certain objections regarding the Zonal Master Plan that need to be addressed.As per ministry sources, the revised Zonal Master Plan on Bhagirathi eco-sensitive zone is simply a compilation of activities of all departments of the Uttarakhand Government rather than scientific studies.Meanwhile, Colin Gonsalves, counsel for the petitioner said to the bench that the Zonal Master Plan is actually a plan for commercial activity. Gonsalves also pointed that the secretary, union water resources ministry Shashi Shekhar has made scathing remarks regarding the Zonal Master Plan and the plans of the environment ministry to permit 10 hydropower projects in the Bhagirathi eco-sensitive zone.A letter written by Shekhar to his counterpart in the environment ministry, questioned the plans to consider approving 10 hydropower projects and river-bed mining up to two metres depth in the eco-sensitive zone.The projects, the secretary said, signal the impending environment disaster in the eco-sensitive zone. The Bhagirathi eco-sensitive area was notified in 2012 to protect the 100kms Gaumukh to Uttar Kashi stretch of Bhagirathi, spread across 4,179 sq kms.

Uma Bharti’s ministry damns Ministry of Environment and Forests’s Ganga projects

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The differences between the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and the Ministry of Water Resources was revealed in a letter sent by Water Resources Secretary Shashi Shekhar to his environment ministry counterpart.Dated October 13, the letter, which has been accessed by DNA, has Shekhar pointedly questioning his MoEF counterpart on why had his ministry permitted 10 hydro projects and mining to come up in the Bhagirathi valley. These projects, he said, would dilute the Bhagirathi Eco Sensitive Zone, located in the upper reaches of the Ganga. The Bhagirathi eco-sensitive area was notified in 2012 to protect the 100 km Gaumukh to Uttar Kashi stretch of Bhagirathi, spread across 4,179 sq.kms.In his letter, Shekhar said, “Permitting large scale activities like hydro power projects, construction works, mining etc. will severely compromise the environmental concerns and its sensitivity and will have far reaching environmental consequences in the days to come.”Shekhar added that throwing open this eco-sensitive area for hydro power projects would signal, “impending environment disaster in the ecologically sensitive area.”It is not the first time the Ministry of Water Resources have taken up this issue. Sources say that that following Shekhar’s letter, Water and Ganga Minister Uma Bharti, too, spoke to her counterpart Anil Dave and expressed her concern on plans to allow dams in the eco-sensitive area. These sources added that despite repeated reminders to the MoEF but so far nothing has been resolved.Speaking to DNA, Shekhar said, “You cannot shove in anything through the back door, this is a fundamental mistake and it is illegal. They need to realize that this is the last pristine and free-flowing stretch of the Ganga.”The letter comes in the wake of the MoEF’s meeting on the Bhagirathi eco-sensitive zone in August. In that meeting, the Uttarakhand state government had sought relaxations in activities allowed in the 4,179 sq km eco sensitive area. The state government argued that since 10 hydropower projects with a cumulative capacity of 82MW were approved before the Bhagirathi eco-sensitive zone was notified in 2012, they should be approved for construction.In the minutes of the meeting, it was stated that the “MoEF & CC could consider inserting a transitional clause to permit the 10 HEP’s (hydro power projects) which were approved prior to the date of notification.” Along with plans to permit hydro power projects, the MoEF said that river-bed mining up to 2m depth could be allowed in the eco-sensitive area.The MoEF is defending its decisions on grounds that the projects will be approved only after a carrying capacity study is done by scientists. “The Uttarakhand government presented the Zonal Master Plan, but it has defects and requires a lot of changes. We will look into all aspects before approving hydro power projects in the eco-sensitive area,” said Amita Prasad, additional secretary, MoEF.Meanwhile, the water ministry has panned the Zonal Master Plan. “It is (Zonal Master Plan) is fundamentally wrong because it is not prepared by experts. We have prepared a draft joint affidavit to be submitted in the NGT that has been sent to the environment ministry. We should have experts visit the ESZ,” said Shekhar.Currently, the NGT is hearing an ongoing matter on the issue pertaining to Zonal Master Plan of the Bhagirathi eco-sensitive zone.

Jayalalithaa funeral procession: Chennai bids farewell to Amma

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Jayalalithaa funeral procession: Chennai bids farewell to Amma

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It is tough to become a writer and get published: Jeffrey Archer

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>If suspense, thriller and anything between that is your thing, then Jeffrey Archer is the author you need. The author was recently in Mumbai for the launch of his latest book, This was a Man, the seventh book in The Clifton Chronicles. Addressing a huge crowd at the Crossword bookstore, Archer shared all about his life experiences, writing, and his love for cricket. “It is tough to become a writer, get your work published, and have a breakthrough to become the number one bestselling author. I am lucky to be gifted with the art of storytelling,” he says. Archer has the repertoire of releasing a book every year, for the last few years, and it seems as if he has the plot planned for every chapter. But in fact, the author admits, “I find myself lucky if I can even think of the beginning for a chapter. So plotting down all the chapters is a distant dream.” To draw out intriguing and engaging plots and outlining the personality of every character is no mean task, but for Archer, his life experiences and the people he meets are the best story tellers. This makes his characters seem much more real and believable. “My favourite Indian author is the master storyteller RK Narayan, who I believe is worthy of a Nobel Prize”, says Archer, adding that his books Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less and Paths of Glory are very close to his heart. Having written several fiction novels as well as a number of series, Archer believes writing the latter is a lot more challenging. Books have gone through a major transformation from being hardbound with thick pages to a small device holding the key to hundreds of books. “E-books are good for offers, and writers do get paid well for it. Forty per cent of my readers from the UK and the US use e-books, though I love reading a real book”, says the prolific writer. An ardent cricket fan, Archer loves the Test series, and is a huge fan of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. “I consider myself to be the cricket captain of England in spite of falling short in the bowling and batting department,” he jokes.Lord Archer has been a regular visitor to India and he attributes it to the love and reception he receives here. He sums up his trips to India, “If you were received like this, you would come back again and again.”

Virat Kohli gives thumbs-up to DRS | Reuters

By Amlan Chakraborty
| MOHALI, India

MOHALI, India India test captain Virat Kohli gave a thumbs-up to the Decision Review System (DRS) on Friday, signalling cricket’s financial powerhouse might permanently embrace the technology aimed at curbing umpiring errors.It took a lot of cajoling to convince India, a staunch DRS opponent after their bitter 2008 initiation in Sri Lanka, to use the technology on a trial basis in the current five-test series against England.Kohli did not get it always right in the first two tests but the India captain sounded pretty much a convert on the eve of the third match against England.”I’m pretty happy with it…I think it is pretty fair for the game,” Kohli told reporters at the Punjab Cricket Association stadium on Friday.The Indian board has been particularly suspicious of the ball-tracking technology but agreed to try it following a presentation by officials from the International Cricket Council (ICC).Kohli appreciated how the ball-tracking technology improved leg-before decisions without challenging the authority of the on-field umpires.

“…they (umpires) are the people given the job to make decisions and their call is respected even in the DRS. I think that’s pretty fair,” Kohli said.”If it is really, really off target, then DRS corrects it but if it is marginal, then you got to respect the umpire’s call. That’s all it does. “I think it clarifies the decision that is made on the field. I think that’s absolutely fine.”

The India players are yet to master the nuances of the technology.”We as a team have only played two test matches with DRS and I can’t analyse the progress in a span of eight days. It is a pretty fair thing to have happened and we are going to get better with using it, for sure,” Kohli said.An excellent lesson was how England teenager Haseem Hameed, fielding at short leg, convinced skipper Alastair Cook to review a not-out decision and get India opener Lokesh Rahul caught behind in the second innings of the second test in Visakhapatnam.

“Obviously, the wicketkeeper and the bowler are the main people involved, who have the best sight of where the ball hit the pad or if they heard a sound of the bat,” Kohli said.”The close-in fielders as well play a massive role as well, as you saw with KL’s (Rahul) dismissal. It was Hameed who actually convinced the bowler that he heard something which someone else might not have.” (Editing by Ed Osmond)

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

First Published On : Nov 25, 2016 20:25 IST

Financial services cheer India’s shock bank note curbs | Reuters

By Devidutta Tripathy and Sankalp Phartiyal
| MUMBAI

MUMBAI India’s abolition of 500- and 1,000-rupee notes with virtually no warning caused confusion and concern among ordinary people and in sectors of the economy where cash is king, but banks and electronic payment services are among those licking their lips.Among the biggest losers from the shock move, aimed at flushing out money hidden from the tax man in India’s huge shadow economy, is expected to be property, and the sharp drop in the sector’s stocks on India’s two main exchanges on Wednesday reflected that.It was better news for financial services companies involved in moving money around the formal economy, however, and among them was PayTM, India’s top mobile payment wallet services provider.It said it saw a 200 percent jump in app downloads and a 1,000 percent increase in the amount of money added to its wallets since Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s announcement of the curbs late on Tuesday.MobiKwik, which also offers mobile wallet services, said it saw a more than 40 percent increase in app downloads.”We’ll be a country with a lot more digital transactions and payments now,” said Vijay Shekhar Sharma, chief executive of PayTM, whose biggest shareholder is Alibaba Group.India’s shadow, or “black”, economy is estimated to be the size of about a fifth of its gross domestic product, with millions still having no access to formal financial services.Most financial transactions still happen in cash, although alternative payments and the use of cards have risen fast in recent years.Kotak Securities said it expected a large part of the shadow economy to become part of the formal economy, including the banking system, over time.Banks will benefit from higher savings deposits, while more financial savings also bodes well for insurance, mutual funds and wealth management companies, analysts said.

Shares in top lender State Bank of India rose 2.9 percent on Wednesday on a Mumbai market that closed 1.3 percent lower. The banking sector index edged up 0.1 percent.Global card network providers Visa and MasterCard welcomed the Indian decision, saying it would help cashless transactions. PayPal Holdings Inc called it a “master stroke” to make India a less cash-reliant economy.PAIN FOR PROPERTY, GOLD, FOOD
The crackdown on unaccounted wealth will put further pressure on the real estate sector, considered a safe haven for “black” money and already battling slower home sales.

The impact will likely be felt by smaller developers and in the secondary sales market, making the real estate sector more illiquid for some time, said Anshul Jain, managing director for India at consultant Cushman & Wakefield. “Working capital needs for small and medium developers and other businesses will be a lot higher,” said Jain, adding that prices will correct in markets where substantial speculative investments have been made using unregistered cash.DLF Ltd, India’s biggest listed property developer, slumped more than 17 percent in Mumbai trading on Wednesday, while the sector index fell 11.6 percent.A DLF spokesman, however, said the bank note move would not make “any big difference” for larger real estate companies who carried out transactions through banking channels. “It is only a popular perception that real estate spawns black money, which is actually not true.”

The crackdown is also seen as negative for jewellers, as it could lower the demand for gold despite a short-term rush for the precious metal late on Tuesday, analysts said.”Significant amounts of demand for gold used to get generated (by) unaccounted wealth,” said Surendra Mehta, Secretary at India Bullion and Jewellers Association.”Since such unaccounted money is set to lose value after the scrapping of 500 rupee and 1,000 rupee notes, demand for gold will also drop.”Mehta estimated India’s gold demand would fall by 100-150 tonnes next year from an annual average of about 800 tonnes.The central bank will launch a new series of 500 and 2,000 rupee notes later this week.Other sectors that could be impacted in the short term due to shifts in demand include consumer goods and automobiles, Edelweiss Securities said.Cement makers such as ACC and UltraTech will be hit, as 70 percent of demand comes from housing, HDFC Securities analysts said, adding that they expected cement companies to cut production.Food chain operators such as those run by Jubilant FoodWorks, which operates the Domino’s Pizza and Dunkin’ Donuts chains in India, will also be temporarily affected as students mostly buy in cash, the brokerage added. (Additional reporting by Aditi Shah and Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Euan Rocha and Mike Collett-White)

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

Bengali youth stuck in Saudi Arabia after being sold as a slave

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 23-year-old youth, Jayanta Biswas, from West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district was sold as a slave in Saudi Arabia by travel agents who lured him with a job. Biswas, an automobile engineer by profession, was promised a job in Saudi Arabia’s automobile industry by his agent. However, when he landed in Riyadh on May 15, 2016, he was sold to a Saudi master, Naief Bookme. Since then, he has been made to take care of the master’s house, cut grass, feed ostriches while living on just one meal a day.Biswas’s sister, Ria told the media, “My brother was lured by a job offer in the automobile industry in Saudi. He had paid a Delhi-based agent, Muneer Ahmed of Al-Hamd Consultant Services Rs one lakh. He was later sent to Riyadh on a tourist visa.However, he was promised of a work visa after he completed three months at his new job. Instead, he was sold as a slave and all his documents were taken away from him.”A distressed Biswas tried to reach out to his family members in West Bengal and even told them that he had been sexually abused on several occasions by his master.A month down the line, on July 16, he made an attempt to escape, only to be foiled by his master. Later, when he finally managed to escape, he contacted the Indian mission in Saudi. The officials at Saudi opened a file in his name and sent him to an NGO till his return to India. As soon as Biswas’s master learnt of his escape, he filed a complaint with the police that Biswas had stolen 10,000 riyals from his house. He was immediately arrested from the NGO on August 9. His family members paid Rs 35,000 to his agent for his release. He was released from jail on October 27. However, he is still stuck in Riyadh with no travel documents to return to India. Biswas’ family members have approached External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her department to provide temporary travel documents, however, they are yet to hear from the ministry.

IAF’s Globemaster achieves rare feat

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Giving a boost to Indian Air Force’s rapid airlift capability in the tough terrain of Arunachal Pradesh near the China border, a C-17 Globemaster aircraft made its maiden landing at Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) at an altitude of 6,200 feet.The ALG at Mechuka in the Yargyap river valley of West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh had been upgraded recently.Situated along the international border, Mechuka was one of the strategic locations during the India-China war in 1962.”With a landing surface only 4,200 feet long, the plane landed, validating its short field landing performance at high altitude,” the IAF said.In the event of a disaster in the region, C-17 operations to the remote ALG can enhance the speed and quantum of national relief effort.IAF has plans to validate airlift operations to and from various ALGs in the region that would usher in a new dimension in enhanced disaster response.This trial landing is expected to pave the way for operation of civil flights operating to and from the newly upgraded ALGs, which has an enormous potential to boost tourism by improving connectivity to remote locations in the North East.The IAF had started its operations with Dakota and Otter in 1962 in the area and subsequently the Antonov-32, popularly known as AN-32, was operated till October 2013 before the upgrade work was started.The road connectivity to the nearest air/rail head at Dibrugarh, about 500km away, is generally two days of travel, unless the roads get damaged due to frequent landslides.”This is a quantum jump from the existing capability of An-32 and C-130J aircraft. Such airlift capability facilitates speedy transfer of men and material in this rugged terrain, interspersed with valleys and high mountain ranges that inhibit road connectivity,” a statement by the Indian Air Force said.

Swindlers’ List

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With Diwali around the corner, Manish Waale (AGE, RESIDENCE??) needed to figure out how to make some more money, and quickly, when he came across a call centre that promised the sky was the limit on incentives. There were no targets, it was a fixed night shift, and the weekly offs were also fixed. Plus, it was a call centre for international collections, and as anyone familiar with the call centre industry will tell you, these are more prestigious than the domestic ones.It sounded too good to be true. And it was, as Waale discovered to his horror in early October when a posse of about 200 policemen barged their way into a nondescript building in Penkarpada area in Mira Road in Thane district that housed seven floors (CHECK) of call centres.”I had joined thinking that i will quit in the month of November after earning good salary and incentives,” Waale told dna. Unfortunately, his dreams of a Diwali with a bulging wallet has now turned into a nightmare. “We have to attend the police stations whenever they contact us,” he says.The Mira Road call centre scam, perhaps the biggest such in the BPO industry’s almost two-decade existence, led to 700 persons being detained and uncovered a sophisticated scheme to bilk US citizens out of money by pretending to be calling from the United States’ Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or the US Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS), two of the most feared branches of the federal government.The Thane police estimate the racket had squeezed as much as Rs 500 crore out of the victims. What’s more, the scam had been going on for almost a year, and came to light only after those who had been approached or already badgered into parting with their money complained to the respective departments.The modus operandi was straightforward.The call centres would get lists of tax ‘defaulters’ from their US-based counterparts. The Indian call centre would then call up the victims using Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) aka internet-based calls. The calls would threaten them that if they did not pay up the fine amount of $10,000, they would be jailed for two months. The victims were also told that if they failed to make the payment, they would be blacklisted by the department, their driving licenses impounded, and their Social Security Number blocked. Once the victim capitulated, the fraudsters would tell them to make the payment either through Target gift cards or iTunes money transfer system.The money generated through the fraud would be distributed in a 30:70 ratio between the US and Indian members of the syndicate.The script typically went like this.They would first list the three counts under which the victims were being charged: Violation of tax regulation, wilful misrepresentation of information to a government organisation, and theft by deception.They would then close any legal avenues, saying the victim could no longer approach a tax lawyer or a CPA, and that all government benefits, including the right to work, would be suspended, their bank accounts frozen, a lien taken out on all their assets, and their passports seized.Needless to say, thousands of US residents fell prey to the threats and shelled out whatever amount they could.For example, Khusboo Bansal, a resident of Henderson in Las Vegas, told Thane police in an email: “I had received a call from an impostor claiming to be from USCIS on September 19th, the caller claimed to be an immigration officer. The caller did not allow me to consult anyone and put me on call for two consecutive hours and said I have a criminal case pending in India. I was told that I would be arrested or deported. The caller then convinced me to buy 1500 USD iTunes card and share its number.”Katie Dutcher, a resident of Emeryville in California, also wrote to Thane police stating her friend was duped to the tune of $35000.Another victim, Madhukar Keer, an engineer in Texas lost $1,00,000 to the fraud.Life at a bogus call centreThe callers would troop in at 7 p.m. Everyday, put on their headsets and wait for the numbers to call to be put up in the database.“We were rolling out and speaking to the Americans and we spoke with authority unlike other call centres who managed the customer service of banks and electronic gadgets or from the loan departments of the bank who are soft-spoken (and) who eventually get bullied by the offshore customers,” said says Dinesh Prajapati, a resident of Bhayander who worked at one of the Mira Road call centres.From pep talk to pressure tactics, the callers had been trained to adopt a voice of gravitas to convince the victims they were from the government.With a week of training and mock calls, the employees were ready to swoop. And each time they tricked someone into giving up a large amount of money, they would clap.Ironically, the employees had been instructed during training that recovering money from Americans was their only motto, and referred to themselves in the office as ‘Robinhoods’ – an act of either extreme animosity towards the first world or an appalling ignorance of the term.While some joined through word of mouth, others came through their relatives, friends and former colleagues who had eventually entered the scam in the lure of easy money. For some, the routine was simple, having earlier worked with professional call centres.Terming it exciting, Siddhesh Kulkarni, a resident of Malad says “It was unlike other call centres in which i had to sulk for 12 hours to achieve the targets and not be rewarded despite our hard work.”“We were having fun as we managed to not only work for the company but for ourselves, too, as we could easily keep track of the money made by us for the company and the incentives which we would get after a month, including the salary package, and that too without any deductions,” he said.“But Americans are not easy to fool,” recalls Razia Sayyed, “They often abused us on the calls in English, while if we had connected to an Indian based in the US, they often went to the extent of abusing us in Hindi.”“Every employee attended (to) over hundred callers from which they narrowed down the leads, which would turn into prospects, and later was handed over to the closer to complete the scam,” a crime branch officer said.The Gujarat connectionThe police investigation revealed that the fraudsters had a couple of years ago set up their headquarters in Ahmedabad. It was from there that the first batch of bulk voicemails would be sent out to the victims.“Blasting of messages meant sending pre-recorded messages on the voicemails of as many as one lakh US citizens at one go,” said deputy commissioner of police, crime, Parag Manere.The message went like this: “Hi, I am calling from Internal Revenue Services. You are being informed that you have not filed proper returns and have suppressed you income in last few years and an investigation has been initiated against you. This is the last chance given to you. This is a federally monitored call and if you hang up the call it would mean you do not wish to cooperate with the investigative agency and within 30 minutes IRS and local police would come at your door step and place you under arrest.’This was usually good enough to lure people into calling back the number mentioned in the voicemail, and that is where the call centre’s work kicked in.“When the victims called back, the calls used to land in Ahmedabad and from there the calls were routed to Mira Road,” Manere said. “Here, the receivers of calls used to threaten and extort money impersonating as IRS officials. Victims were asked to buy target cards, send its 16 digit number and then the said number was shared with US counterparts of the syndicate.”“After having a successful run in Ahmedabad, the masterminds expanded their con to Mira Road and other parts of the country such as Delhi, Haryana, Noida and its nearby areas,” said another officer, who requested anonymity.Thane police also raided five more call centres in Ahmedabad which were allegedly owned by the same persons who operated the Mira Road ones.”During investigation, we found out that those running ‘call centres’ on Mira Road have also invested in Ahmedabad-based call centres. Based on intelligence, we conducted raids at five call centres situated at Pinnacle Business Park in Ahmedabad’s Prahlad Nagar on Saturday.,” said an officer on condition of anonymity.But news of the Mira Road raids had already reached Ahmedabad. By the time the police got there, the call centres there shut shop. “Equipment and everything else was removed from each centre of operation,” the office said.While 72 persons have been arrested in Thane, the masterminds – Sagar Thakkar aka Saggy, Ali, Tapesh, Jimmy and Akhil Singh – are absconding, leaving in their trail thousands of victims, as well as employees they convinced to take part in the scam.When greed wasn’t goodEvery employee in the Mira road call centre knew they were conning the Americans but they did not wanted to miss out the opportunity to earn large sums of money. Even the peons earned up to Rs 10,000 a month and were promised increments every six months.The employees were typically from middle- and lower middle-class families, including women and minor males from across Mira Road, Bhayander, Vasai, Nalasopara and Virar. Lured by the lucrative incentives, some , like 24-year-old ex-Tech Mahindra employee Johnson Dantas, quit jobs in professional call centres to join the scam. Now embroiled in a legal morass, they gather outside the Thane Crime Branch Unit 1 to find out whether they, too, are liable to be arrested.“We are unaware about our future as we got the job after lot of hardship and I am the only member of the family who earns, as my mother is unwell,” says Sufiyan Majurki,21 a resident of Naya Nagar in Mira Road who has been arrested.In fact, the fact that he landed the job itself came as a surprise. “He doesn’t even know to speak English properly and we never believed him that he worked for the International call centre,” said his friends who are now trying to get him released. They declined to be named for this article.Avinash Master, 24, is from a middle class family near Majithiya Park in Rajmata Nagar of Nalasopara East. Among his friends, he quickly became known for his money, which he would splurge on parties or high-end phones. A class,ate of one of the ringleaders, Saggy, Master worked with him in Ahmedabad and was later charged with setting up operations in Mira Road.His family is now in shock after the turn of events. “We did not knew about the the scam but was only told that he worked for International call centre,” said his brother Abhishek.The youngest director of the firm, 22-yar-old Dharmesh Solanki, a resident of Nirmal Kunj area at SV Road in Bhayander (East), found out that hard way that short-cuts may lead to a dead-end.“He discussed about how the firm was functioning well and the employees were able to recover money from the Americans after they were handed over the contract by the US based agencies”, said his family members, who also declined to be named. Solanki, who wanted to do an MBA but could not because of a lack of finances, slipped into his senior role easily, say family members, even discarding his college threads for formal wear to look the part. All it got him, unfortunately, is a prison uniform.

Triple talaq issue: Muslim women fighting for their rights is a great moment for democracy

(Editor’s Note: This article is based on the author’s speech at the Asian Forum on Global Governance 2016, organised by the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi. The theme of the session on 21 October, 2016 was: Religion and Democracy – Are They Compatible?)

When I look 20 years back, there was no burqa on India’s streets. Now I see many women in burqa standing at my local bus stop. Looking into the next 20 years, I fear that my granddaughter is most likely to wear a burqa. Let me explain in a practical way: In July 2001, the BBC took me to London. Two of my six sisters were then in Class IX and XI in Bihar. For the first time, I had money. So, I told them: you can study as much as you like. Both did MSW – Master of Social Work. One works in the media; the other became a follower of Dr Zakir Naik, the Islamist preacher.

My intellectual concern is for Muslims, not for Islam. My argument is that Islam may not change; the Quran will not change. But the followers of Islam can change. There is possibility of change because democracy is the only agent that introduces multiple turning points in an individual’s life. When we speak of democracy, we speak of – in the words of British author Bernard Crick – “some congruence between democracy perceived as a set of values and democracy as a set of institutional arrangements”; democracy can be seen as “a principle or doctrine of government” and as “a set of institutional arrangements or constitutional devices”.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Islamist groups used elections to advance Islamism. The Hamas in Gaza, the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, the Ayatollahs of Iran, and the Justice & Development Party of Turkey utilised elections to grab power and impose an Islamist order in which people’s liberties became casualties. Under Islamist influence, Pakistan remains a racist democracy for legally prohibiting from becoming the head of the state some Pakistani citizens because they do not believe in Islam. During US-mediated peace talks, even the Taliban in Afghanistan considered referendum and elections to reach power.

But, elections are just one instrument of democracy. The Islamists do not adhere to democracy’s other essential principles: free speech and individual liberty, gender equality and equal rights for minorities, man-made law, freedom for political association, and so on. Democratic ideas, rising from Greece and travelling through the European Enlightenment, swelled into the American and French revolutions. “We the people”, the opening words of the Indian constitution, are taken from the US constitution. In India, democracy was introduced through the constitution.

Democracies work through institutions. So, it is not surprising that a new generation of Indians are knocking at the Supreme Court’s door to demand equality and liberty – for example to end the triple talaq, Halala and polygamy. India is a brand new country, new because 55% of its 1.3 billion people are under 25. This is a new political population which has not seen the Emergency or the Partition. It has grown up in liberty, seeing MPs exercise unlimited free speech in legislatures and on television. This new generation is subjecting itself to arguments on Facebook and Twitter. Muslims are also part of this new generation, and some of them are leaving Islam. This liberty is birthed by the constitution. India’s young are the constitutional generation. Even if you dismiss them as Bhakts, they are essentially loyal to the constitution and guard its liberties.

When Gandhi, Nehru and Ambedkar laid down the foundations of the republic, they wrote an array of liberties into the constitution, the seeds that are birthing a new type of Indians. For thousands of years, Indians knelt before temples. But Narendra Modi kneels down at the footsteps of the Parliament, an institution created not by religion, but by liberty, by constitution, by reason. Nehru was at least intellectually honest, someone who could praise Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the floor of parliament. But India’s counterfeit secular Hindus are intellectually dishonest and will not acknowledge that Modi is Nehru II, albeit added with civilisation. If Nehru were alive, he would be happy to see Modi.

So, within this template of democratic ideas, is it possible for an entire new or next generation of Muslims to abandon ideas inherited from parents and Islamic clerics? History offers us positive insights. In Italy and Germany, an entire generation of youth abandoned the ideas of fascism and Nazism inherited from parents. In India, a generation of Hindu youth has largely abandoned their parents’ belief in caste, made possible through the spread of democratic values. And although polygamy and Halala are legal for Indian Muslims, Muslims do not practise them, mostly.

When we speak of reform among Muslims, we expect instant reform. But reforms of religious communities occur over centuries. Judaism and Christianity went through internal conflicts. Islam is going through its internal civil war. Not long ago, the Christian clergy ruled the world. Due to the increasing awareness of democratic values, the Bible and the Torah are confined to the religious realm. In India, the Manusmriti was discarded by Hindus. Most Muslims do not practise what the Quran says about jihad or prayers. But Muslims are caught in Islam’s institutional arrangements like mosques, clerics and madrassas which are unfortunately funded by the secular Indian state.

India must address the weaknesses of its institutions. In 1952 elections, 67% MPs won with less than 50% votes. In 2004, 76% MPs won with less than 50% votes. In 2009, only 17% MPs got over 50% votes. In 2014, 61% MPs won with less than 50% votes. We are in a situation in which candidates can win elections with just 30% votes, which encourages them to encourage religious politics. To get votes, Mamata Banerjee joins Muslim prayers. BJP kicks up the issue of Love Jihad. Nitish Kumar visits Pakistan to tell Indian Muslims that they are Pakistanis. Sonia Gandhi reaches out to Imam Bukhari of Jama Masjid. Arvind Kejriwal visits Bareilly to meet clerics. K Chandrashekar Rao offers quota for all Muslims, even though the OBCs among them do get quota.

At a recent conference in Pune, I shared platform with Maulana Mahmood Madani of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind who agreed on the need for change but also taunted: “Islam ko badalna chahte hain, to badal lijiye (If you want to change Islam, go ahead).” It is clear that monotheistic religions like Islam which do not believe in pluralism and equality are obstacles to democratic values but these obstacles can be addressed within the framework of Indian democracy’s institutional arrangements. The Supreme Court has two tests before it: whether to allow triple talaq in violation of the Article 14 on right to equality; and whether to allow the Indian taxpayer to continue to fund the Aligarh Muslim University, especially its departments of Sunni and Shia Theology.

To ensure that democracy’s institutions do not surrender before Islamism, the state governments’ funding of madrassas must be challenged before the Supreme Court. As a secular republic, the Indian state cannot fund madrassas, which are centres of excellence for the purposes they are established. Within the Indian democracy’s institutional arrangements like the RTE, Muslim children, like all others of 6-14 age, must be in schools during school hours, not in madrassas, which are counter-liberty movements. By funding madrassas, the Indian state led by ‘secular’ Hindus, feeds orthodoxies among Muslims. In the competition between Islam and democracy, educational reforms are the keys to democratic change. There is a historical template to follow: Lord Macaulay. If Macaulay could do it, the Indian democracy can do it better.

About a century ago, Gandhi supported the Khilafat to bring Muslims into the mainstream. Now, semi-literate Muslim women are going to the Supreme Court with constitution in their hands to assert their fundamental rights available under the constitution. This is a watershed moment in the history of Indian democracy. It is a wake-up call for India’s Muslim leaders who are fighting for Islam, not for Indian Muslims. The Indian constitution is a movement of ideas with origins in the Greek philosophy. As the constitution’s influences take deeper roots among people, Indian Muslim leaders and Islamic clerics will be rendered irrelevant, buried along with the so-called secular Hindu politicians. I am thrilled to live in these revolutionary times.

(Former BBC journalist Tufail Ahmad is a contributing editor at Firstpost, and executive director of the Open Source Institute, New Delhi. He tweets @tufailelif.)

RWAs appeal to ‘neighbour’ President Mukherjee to save neighbourhood

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A delegation from Citizen’s Alliance (CA), a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), which is fighting to stop a mega mall from coming up in south-east Delhi’s Alaknanda area, recently went to meet President Pranab Mukherjee on September 30 to plead their case. Incidentally, the president also happens to own a house in neighbouring Greater Kailash (GK-II) area, where currently his daughter Sharmistha stays.A delegation headed by Ashutosh Dixit, founder of CA along with Laveesh Bhandari (treasurer), advocate Vivek Sharma (general secretary) and presidents of other Resident Welfare Associations from GK-II, Chittaranjan Park and Alaknanda presented their petition to the president.During the meeting that lasted 15 minutes, the delegation said that the proposed mall being built by Reliance would ruin their neighborhood. They also contended that the proposed site of the mall, would be in a largely residential neighborhood. This was in direct violation of Delhi’s Master Plan 2001 and 2021.Sharma says, “A mega mall of this size (at 7.3 lakh square feet) – touted to be the second largest in the country, can only be located in a District Centre with a minimum area of 40 hectares. The proposed plot size earmarked for the mall in Alaknanda, opposite Kalka Public School, is merely 3.7 acres.”The delegation also contended that if the project came up, this would also lead to an increase in crime, drugs, congestion, water shortage and various other problems.Bhandari, who attended the meeting said, “The president heard us out and read our petition. He asked us relevant questions pertaining to the location of the mall and its impact.”The President’s office has now forwarded the letter to the secretary, ministry of Urban Development for their reference.The CA, who have been fighting the case against the mall, won another small victory in July when a division-bench at the Delhi High Court headed by Justices Bader Durrez Ahmed and Ashutosh Kumar directed a committee of the Commissioner (Planning) and the Commissioner (Land Disposal) of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to “examine this matter” and to take a “final and definitive decision within eight weeks.”The eight weeks have since lapsed and there has been no communication from DDA. The August 5 meeting between DDA officials and members of CA was also inconclusive.History of the proposed mall2002: A slum on the proposed land is cleared with the intent to create a playground cum sports facility.2004: DDA allowed for the creation of a mall in direct violation of Delhi’s Master Plan 2001 and 2021.2006: DDA got a traffic study done based on the presumption that a community centre is being builtIn response to an RTI, CA was informed that the Delhi Traffic Study Police based their study on the presumption that a community centre was coming up on the proposed site. The footfalls at a community centre is far less than the expected footfall at a Mega/Hyper Mall.In another RTI filed, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) admitted that they were unaware that the proposed site was opposite Kalka Public School.2008: The plot is sold to Reliance without informing the local community.2012: The local community, now informed of the plans for a mall, start their protest.2013: The Citizens Alliance file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Delhi High Court (DHC) seeking a stay on the construction of the mall.2016: A division-bench at the DHC direct a committee of the Commissioner (Planning) and the Commissioner (Land Disposal) of the DDA to “examine this matter” and to take a “final and definitive decision within eight weeks.”

IIT student shows how smartphones can be made elderly-friendly

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>What started as a college assignment for Shashank Arya, has turned into a personal project that has won him an award, and, more importantly, has the potential to change how the elderly use and interact with smartphones.In February, Arya and some of his classmates at IIT-Kanpur, who are studying User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX), were presented with a design problem — ‘simplify smart phones for elderly women’. “We presented our findings on paper within 15 days. But there’s only so much one can do in 15 days. So, for two months after that, I researched the subject even as my classmates moved onto doing internships. I realised that it’s not only elderly women who find smartphones difficult to use, but that it’s a problem common to all elderly people,” said Arya, enrolled in the master of design course. After speaking to a group of subjects, giving them specific tasks such as saving a contact on the phone, sending a message to someone, or clicking a photograph, the 24-year-old observed how the elderly grappled with the given tasks.The winning solutionArya then translated his design solution into an application launcher that includes putting the most essential information needed by an elderly person, upfront. For instance, favourite contacts and applications like WhatsApp, clock, camera, etc. He has also proposed launching a larger-size numpad and an A-Z keypad instead of the standard QWERTY keypad, which he realised is something that the elderly struggle with.His design for the application launcher is called Glass, because it functions much like a pair of spectacles that aid the elderly. It was judged as the second best at a design competition conducted by YUJ Designs, one of India’s top five UX/UI companies, last month. The gold award went to Pratik Bhandari from Coimbatore’s DJ Academy for his design for an app called ‘The Smart I’.”Winning the silver award has been overwhelming since there were 80 other entries. But more than that, it’s a validation for me that I’m on the right path. My design was appreciated at the award ceremony in Pune. I hope it will translate into reality someday,” said Arya, who until joining IIT-Kanpur, was uncertain about how design can be employed to solve real-world problems.What is UX/UI?User Interface (UI) is a series of screens and visual elements that are used to interact with a device while User Experience (UX) is the user’s own experience as they interact with a device. The UI/UX industry is fairly nascent in India, and institutes such as various IITs and the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, have started offering the Master of Design course. To enrol at any of the IITs, a student must pass the Common Entrance Examination for Design (CEED), an all-India exam conducted by IIT-Bombay, on behalf of the Ministry of Human Resources Development, Government of India. CEED assesses a candidate’s aptitude for design, including visual perception ability, drawing skills, logical reasoning, creativity and communication skills. NID, on the other hand, has its own entrance exam for enrolling into this course.

Faizul Hasan elected president of student union at Aligarh Muslim University

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Faizul Hasan, a doctoral student in the Aligarh Muslim University’s department of sociology, was today elected as the president of the varsity’s students’ union. The results were announced early this morning after the polling for the Aligarh Muslim Students Union (AMUSU) was held on Saturday.This year’s elections, which were earlier scheduled for September 26, were cancelled by the university authorities on September 21 and rescheduled for October 8 after the students went on an agitation. MSW (Master in social work) student Nadeem Ansari was elected as vice president while Nabeel Usmani, a student in the Faculty of Management, was elected secretary of the the students’ union. AMU VC Lt General Zameeruddin Shah congratulated the student community for conducting the election campaign in a “peaceful democratic” manner while adhering to the recommendations of the Lyngdoh Committee.Political parties or groups are not permitted to put up candidates for the elections under the AMU constitution.

GSAT-18, India’s latest communication satellite, successfully launched from Kourou

Bengaluru: India’s latest communication satellite GSAT-18 was on Thursday successfully launched by a heavy duty rocket of Arianespace from the spaceport of Kourou in French Guiana.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The launch was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but deferred by 24 hours owing to unfavourable weather conditions at Kourou, a French territory located in northeastern coast of South America.

GSAT-18, built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), aims at providing telecommunications services for the country by strengthening Isro’s current fleet of 14 operational telecommunication satellites.

With the weather being clear on Thursday, the European launcher Ariane-5 VA-231 blasted off at around 2 am (IST) and injected GSAT-18 shortly after orbiting co-passenger Sky Muster II satellite for Australian operator NBN (National Broadband Network) in a flawless flight lasting about 32 minutes.

GSAT-18 that aims at providing telecommunications services for the country by strengthening Isro’s current fleet of 14 operational telecom satellites was launched into a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) about 32 minutes after the lift-off.

“GSAT-18 successfully launched by Ariane-5 VA-231 from Kourou, French Guiana,” Bengaluru-headquartered ISRO announced after the mission. GSAT-18 is the 20th satellite from ISRO to be launched by the European space agency and the mission is the 280th for Arianespace launcher family.

ISRO, which has been dependent on Ariane-5 rocket for carrying its heavier satellites, is developing GSLV Mk III for this purpose.

Weighing 3,404 kg at lift-off, GSAT-18 carries 48 communication transponders to provide services in Normal C-band, Upper Extended C-band and Ku-bands of the frequency spectrum.

Announcing the successful launch of the satellite, Arianespace CEO Stephane Israel tweeted: “We take great pride in our strong relationship w/ @ISRO! Tonight marks 20 sats. launched for India’s space agency & more to come. Congrats!”

ISRO Chairman AS Kiran Kumar, who watched the launch from the mission control centre, left shortly after lift-off, and his message was read out later by one of his senior colleagues.

“I am really delighted this evening having witnessed another glorious and flawless lift-off of Ariane-5 VA-231 flight that carried GSAT-18 and Sky Muster II successfully. Like on all previous occasions, Arianespace has again provided us a magnificient textbook launch,” Kumar said.

Designed to provide continuity of services on operational satellites in these bands, GSAT-18 with a mission life of about 15 years, carries Ku-band beacon as well to help in accurately pointing ground antennas towards the satellite.

With GSAT-18’s injection into GTO, Isro’s Master Control Facility (MCF) at Hassan in Karnataka takes control of the satellite and will perform the initial orbit raising manoeuvres using the Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) of the satellite, placing it in a circular Geostationary Orbit.

Following this, the deployment of appendages such as the solar panels and antennas as well as three axis stabilisation of the satellite will be performed, and GSAT-18 will be positioned at 74 deg East longitude and co-located with other operational satellites, ISRO said.

GSAT-18s co-passenger Sky Muster II, built by SSL (Space Systems Loral) in Palo Alto, California, is aimed at bridging the digital divide, especially in the rural and isolated regions of Australia.

Kumar said the next step after the successful launch of GSAT-18 was to carry out a series of manoeuvres before positioning it in its orbital location.

“The necessary preparations have been made and our team back in India is working on mission operations at Master Control Facility, Hassan,” he said.

“GSAT 18 is an important satellite for us that will enable the continuity of the vital communication services in our country by replacing the currently ageing satellites,” the ISRO chief said.

Television, telecommunication, VSAT and digital satellite news gathering were a few of the services that GSAT 18 will support in coming days, he added.

Pointing out that two more satellites GSAT 17 and GSAT 11 were getting ready for the launch by Arianespace during early next year, Kumar said “realisation of both these satellites is in advanced stage”.

“While GSAT 17 is an important satellite for replacing our satellites, GSAT 11 will be the first generation of high-throughput satellite of ISRO. Both of these upcoming launches are crucial for the Indian Space Programme,” he added.

State government’s Aadhar-linked biometrics system hit by validation hurdles

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The state government’s plans for an Aadhaar-linked biometrics based system at ration shops to curb pilferage and ghost beneficiaries has run into a speed bump due to validation hurdles.Maharashtra has around 1.48 crore ration cards (or 7.0016 crore targeted beneficiaries) covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013. It covers up to 75% of the rural and 50% of the urban population for receiving subsidised food grains under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).The state government is working on linking ration cards of all NFSA beneficiaries to their Aadhaar numbers. Point of sale (POS) machines will be installed in all 53,000 ration shops in Maharashtra for authentication using biometric features. The project is expected to be in place by March next year, with at least some of these terminals being commissioned.Around 86.86% of these cards have been seeded with Aadhaar numbers so far. Sources said the validation of these Aadhaar numbers after their seeding with ration cards was proving to be slightly difficult due to inconsistencies in the data. “Many times, names on the ration cards do not match with details in the Aadhaar database. Sometimes, people use suffixes like Kumari and Shrimati while writing their names, which leads to inconsistencies being thrown up,” said a senior official.”The problem is that while the PDS is a family database, the rest are individual databases due to which these issues come up,” said another official, adding that apart from one officer for each of the 45 “food districts,” they were also looking to appoint 427 people for speeding up validation.He added that while they had validated around 60 lakh numbers in bulk, the use of the data seeding and data validation (DSDV) pool would speed up the process.The departments plans to cover around 20% to 25% in bulk seeding, with an equal number being validated manually.”However, we are planning to ensure that by the time the biometrics-based system is rolled out, at least one person per card is validated for all 1.48 crore ration cards. The others will be covered subsequently on POS machines in the fair-price shops,” the official said, admitting that “validating of beneficiaries is a huge task.”However, food and civil supplies minister Girish Bapat denied that problems had come up in the validation process. Another official said that the biometrics based system would weed out duplicate card holders, and bogus and ghost beneficiaries from the system as a pilot conducted in Sangli, Jalgaon and Shirur (Pune) had revealed.The biometrics-based project is being rolled out in three groups, namely Mumbai, Konkan and Nashik; Aurangabad and Pune; and Nagpur and Amravati. Another official said the system must be installed 24 weeks after the master service agreement was signed and 99% off-take must be through biometric authentication. In exceptional cases, 1% can be done based on scanning the QR code on ration cards or through the one-time password (OTP) system.The total number of ration cards in Maharashtra, which has an 11.23 crore population according to the 2011 census, is around 2.48 crore. The state government has used an exclusion criteria of Rs 54,000 annual income in urban areas and Rs 49,000 in rural areas for beneficiary families to be included for NFSA benefits.

It’s official: Gurgaon is now Gurugram

It’s official: Gurgaon is now Gurugram

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Chandigarh: Gurgaon will now be known as Gurugram, with the Centre today approving the name change.

Interacting with reporters shortly after presiding over the first meeting of the state-level ‘Swarna Jayanti Celebrations Committee’ at Panchkula, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said both the city as well as the district of Gurgaon would be known as Gurugram.

Gurugram is the corporate hub of Haryana on the outskirts of Delhi.

Legend has it that Gurgaon derived its name from Guru Dronacharya, the master of archery in Mahabharata who groomed the Pandavas and Kauravas in military tactics.

It is said the village was given as ‘gurudakshina’ to him by the Pandavas and hence it came to be known as Guru-gram, which in course of time got distorted to Gurgaon.

AIIMS to increase number of seats to 100 for UG courses from 2017

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The premier All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi will admit 100 students from the country for its undergraduate programme from next academic session, increasing the number of seats from the existing 72, its director announced on Monday. Besides, seven foreign nationals would also be admitted for the institute’s MBBS course from 2017.”In sixty years of its journey, AIIMS has grown in strength, thanks to the sheer dedication of our predecessors and former directors who shaped this institution. It has grown tremendously with time, both academically and in service delivery. We have decided to increase our UG intake, and, I am happy to announce that from next year onwards, we will be admitting 100 students for this course,” AIIMS Director Dr M C Misra said. He was addressing a gathering on the occasion of the Foundation Day of AIIMS currently celebrating its diamond jubilee.The medical college currently admits 77 students — 72 Indian nationals and five foreigners — for UG courses. The percentage of reserved seats under various categories would remain the same, he said.AIIMS Registrar Dr Sanjeev Lalwani said relative share of seats meant for Schedule Caste, Schedule Tribe, OBC and physically handicapped reserved categories would remain the same.AIIMS was established in 1956. It was the vision of Rajkumari Amrita Kaur, the first Health Minister of India, that led to the establishment of a medical institute of international repute in India. Besides, the main Delhi campus, AIIMS also has six regional centres in Bhopal, Patna, Bhubaneswar, Jodhpur, Raipur and Rishikesh.”The regional centres currently admit 100 students each but no foreign nationals. So, the UG intake of AIIMS Delhi will be increased,” Lalwani said.”Besides, we have already increased by almost 90 per cent the intake for DM (Doctorate in Medicine) and MCh (Master of Surgery) programmes. We have been expanding facilities at our Masjid Moth campus here too and at Trauma Centre we have added 1,800 beds. In next 10 years, we target 6,000 beds for AIIMS,” Misra said.

No clarity on Pakistan yet, but PM Modi’s twin speeches have confused his critics

We all know the ancient story about a group of blind men trying to describe an elephant, the cross-cultural parable that finds resonance in several religious traditions and has often been cited by gurus to provide lessons on confirmation bias, perceptive reality or the need for syncretism in beliefs. The Prime Minister’s twin addresses to the nation in the aftermath of the Uri attacks — one from the party pulpit at Kozhikode and Mann Ki Baat the morning after — have made his critics and backers appear as the blind men of the antediluvian fable.

Unless Narendra Modi closely follows what Sun Tzu had written in The Art of War: “The whole secret lies in confusing the enemy, so that he cannot fathom our real intent,” and seeks to befuddle Pakistan with masterful usage of “strategic confusion”, his double monologues have revealed no clarity of thought in tackling terrorism, glimpse of a roadmap to tackle Pakistan’s subversive agenda, or even a clear endorsement of diplomatic initiative which increasingly looks to be his preferred choice.

One doesn’t know what effect his speeches would have on the Rawalpindi generals plotting their next terror move but Modi has successfully sown the seeds of bewilderment among his supporters and detractors alike, exposing their confirmation bias and even making them swap their positions.

Shortly after the twin speeches, a curious shift was on display in the thought process of so-called liberal commentators, many of whom have been Modi’s most vocal critics and have rarely found anything positive to say about a leader who rose to power backed by an overwhelming mandate and still largely retains that wild popularity.

Kozhikode-modi-new-PTI

Modi’s twin addresses have made his critics and backers appear as the blind men of the antediluvian fable. PTI

Members of this camp have suddenly found in Modi a champion rationalist who has masterfully shifted the rhetoric away from military offensive against Pakistan into a competitive war with that nation against poverty. To these opinion-makers, Modi has indicated a foreclosure of all surgical strikes, succeeded in calming down his “war mongering, blood-lusting rabid supporters” and made them see the benefits of strategic restraint in a way only he could have.

When Modi said in Kozhikode: “We are exporting software all over the world, whereas Pakistan is exporting terrorists in entire world… I want to tell Pak people; India is ready to fight you. If you have strength, come forward to fight against poverty. Let’s see who wins? who is able to defeat poverty and illiteracy first, Pakistan or India?” it was interpreted by this group as a clear signal of Prime Minister changing the rules of the game.

If that means absorbing a few more terror blows from the rogue neighbours and swallowing our collective pride, so be it.

They claim that ‘Prime Minister Modi’ has understood what ‘chief minister Modi’ couldn’t — that “growth” is more important than responding to Pakistan’s cynical provocations and relentless attempts to kill our civilians, soldiers and incite unrest in our borders.

Crucially, though Modi delivered no clear message on whether this is the path he indeed intends to take, he seems to have magically transformed his bitter critics into lukewarm appreciators. A no mean feat.

And yet to his backers who desire a more tangible response to Pakistan’s perfidies, Modi’s deliberately ambiguous message has left the door open for all sorts of actions. Many of this group felt that the Prime Minister has not foreclosed anything and has dropped enough hints to indicate that even a military intervention is possible.

In Modi’s words “Pakistan’s rulers should know that the sacrifice of our 18 soldiers will not go to waste… Terrorist should listen that India will never forget…” this camp saw a barely veiled threat to Pakistan’s establishment.

If the BJP cadres present at the meeting on Saturday night hankered for a macho response, Modi gave it to them.

“In the last few months, there have been at least 17 incidents of infiltration by Fidayeen terrorists, it claimed 110 lives, but our security forces managed to stop them at the border. Our armed forces… have been on the winning side of this battle to protect us. That is because of the morale of its people, and right now the morale of India is sky high and provides strength to the valour of our fighting men”.

And in words that could either be interpreted as a harmless taunt or a venomous tilt at a new aggressive foreign policy, Modi said: “I want the people of Pakistan to ask their leaders about the fact that Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) is with you, why haven’t you been able to handle it? What about Pakhtunistan, you haven’t been able to handle it; there are insurrections against the government in Gilgit Baltistan and Baluchistan, you haven’t been able to handle it. Once, Bangladesh was part of your country, you couldn’t handle it. Please handle your own home rather than look across the border.”

When he said: “That day is not far when the people of Pakistan will come out on the streets to force their leaders to fight against terrorism”, it was taken as a clever attempt to address the fault-lines of a state where elected governments are puppets at the hands of Rawalpindi generals.

He carried this theme of aggression further during Sunday’s Mann Ki Baat speech.

“There is a lot of value to the anger that people of the country have. This is a symbol of the country’s awakening. This anger is of the kind of ‘do something’… When 1965 war (with Pakistan) broke out and Lal Bahadur Shastri was leading the country, similar was the feeling, anger in the country. There was fever of nationalism…”

So does Modi remain a hardliner, or is he a newbie peacenik? Is he a vengeful general determined to teach Pakistan a lesson, or a dove in the guise of an eagle who is ready to take more than a few terror blows but not ready to let India be derailed from the path of development?

Neither. The truth, as always, lies somewhere in the middle. Modi remains a master communicator and a hardcore pragmatist above all ideological moorings. He doesn’t shy away from reinventing himself if the situation so demands. Right now as a leader trying to walk a tightrope between the rhetoric of his past and the handicap of his present, Modi is a bit of everything to everyone.

He understands the popular demand for a military intervention against the rogue state that only understands the language of violence, yet fears the risks in SWOT analysis. And he is acutely aware that his own political capital, however impregnable may it appear, will be severely dented if he comes to be perceived as an “effete leader” in the wake of Uri.

So what does he do? He cannot appear to give total commitment to any of his perceived tactics. So while he may appear to be favouring “strategic restraint”, he also drops large hints on counter-offensive tactic. It may look as if he wants to wage war only against “poverty, malnutrition, joblessness, illiteracy”, yet he also draws references to 1965.

Modi would rather use obfuscation and confusion as tools not to keep Pakistan on tenterhooks — because it is difficult to preempt what that failed state will do next — but to tide over the greatest threat to his political career that Uri has brought. There will be time yet to engage with Pakistan.

Uri terror attack: India’s priority should be stocking up on ammunition and weaponry

It was easy for the terrorists to reach the barbed wiring as the area surrounding the Uri camp was wooded and mountainous. They could have moved from rock to rock without detection. Even amateurs do it in weekend war games. That’s exactly why we were unable to catch the dacoits of the Chambal ravines. The terrain suited them.

File image from the Uri base attack in Jammu and Kashmir. PTI

File image from the Uri base attack in Jammu and Kashmir. PTI

If the camp had been at the centre of a circular cordon sanitaire with nothing but flat land spotlit at night, these killers would not have made it anywhere near the infantry battalion.

As a matter of fact, the response of the just relieved of duty soldiers was impressive in that they were able to shoot the intruders. Carrying heavy caliber weapons and hurling grenades does not require strategic genius and it speaks well for our boys that these killers did not melt back into the forest and the foliage without casualties. They probably expected to get away with it.

Having said that, the concern now is what India should do in retaliation. It is said that despite the five odd years of slack in dribbling away our ammunition and our weaponry into the red as far as shortages go, the investment master plan is to make us the fourth most potent armed forces in the world by 2019/2020.

That is still a pretty far distance away and the reality is now. As the shortage in what is projected as 125 out of 170 types of ammo (CAG 2013) with a nominal increase of just 15 percent since then our shabby government produced stuff isn’t going to cut the mustard. The Ordnance Factory Board is not able to deliver anywhere near the need and the augmentation from Russia isn’t enough.

It is remarkable that the government (present and past) will not permit projectiles to be manufactured by the private sector. If that permission was given, India would be able to reach its required supply in double-quick time.

We should go shopping today. Getting up to speed has to be a rushed priority never mind the bullet train, just get the bullets and get going now. Especially for Indian armour and its T72 and T90 tank regiments. High explosive fin propelled shells are of the essence. High explosive anti-tank (HEAT) shells have to be invested in. The western sector is a tank terrain and we all remember the battle of Shakargarh and Basantar in the Pathankot region. With the monsoon over, the marshes dry all conventional conflicts and even skirmishes have a role for the armoured corps.

War wastage reserves (WWR) are weapons and ammunition kept back in case of battle conditions where the firing rate is infinitely more.

The present estimate is between 8 and 20 days depending on whose report you are reading. India’s target has been 40 days because in all scenarios it is unlikely it can last longer. But to be at 50% of a best case scenario seems to be self-indulgent and blinkered.

It is a moot point in that there is a damn shortage, it is public knowledge and giving your adversary, this comfort is just not acceptable.

Quality and quantity, we need them both. Now.

In the interim on foreign policy front, India’s best bet is to use contempt washed in silence as a weapon.

Uri terror attack: Three lessons for India from one of the worst strikes this century

The deadliest terror attack on the Indian Army since the Kaluchak tragedy on 14 May, 2002 (taking the lives of 12 civilians and 22 security personnel) took place at Uri on the Black Sunday of 18 September, 2016, in which 17 soldiers were martyred. Of course in the process, all the four attackers, who happened to be suicide bombers or fidayeen, were killed. But the gruesome incident provides three lessons.

First, whatever the critics may say, the fact was that there was no intelligence failure this time about such an attack. In fact, it was widely reported last week that there would be “spectacular terror attacks’ on India’s military bases, though, in the context of the attacks on the Pathankot Airbase in January this year, airbases were under greater alert.

In that sense, if the attacks did take place, then one has to admit that there were serious security lapses in Uri, which had undergone a similar attack in December 2014 when nine soldiers were killed. Uri is 19 km inside the Line of Control (LoC) and 40 km from Baramula, a town that is in the news because of the stone-throwing protestors. As General Raj Mehta, one of our perceptive military veterans, says, it is really worrisome how and where breaches in security occurred to allow unchallenged access to the fidayeen to the base or camp for so many kilometres inside the Indian territory.

An Army man stand guards near Army Brigade camp during a terror attack in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday. PTIAn Army man stand guards near Army Brigade camp during a terror attack in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday. PTI

An Army man stand guards near Army Brigade camp during a terror attack in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday. PTI

Therefore, the immediate need of the hour is to identify and plug these breaches. Besides, it is quite possible that there are sleeper cells in the area, which the local Police are unable to deal with. The very facts that the terrorists were well-acquainted with the area and its topography, that they knew that the camp at Uri was undergoing a change-over (a new batch of soldiers replacing the existing one), that they attacked the rear of the camp, not its heavily–guarded front facing the LoC, and that they knew about the arrangements inside the camp (their goal was to go up to the officers’ mess and blow it up for deadlier fire. As it is, more soldiers who were sleeping died after being trapped in the fire caused by the explosion, and not by the bullets of the suicide bombers) make it obvious that they were fully trained for the occasion. And for this occasion, the security forces were far from being prepared.

Of course, the Army can say that it is difficult to identify the fidayeen in “our uniforms” in the rear areas early in the morning when it is a fact that soldiers at the camps often use the open space while responding to “the call of nature”. All told, and this is the second lesson of Uri, that ever since the phenomenon of using fidayeen or suicide-terrorists began in Lebanon in 1983, there has been no concrete remedial measures. And that is due to the fact that unlike other terrorists, the fidayeen are indoctrinated for months to lay down their lives (in case of the Islamic terrorists, as was the case in Uri, they are told how after death they will go to the paradise where they will be provided with the choicest virgins to sleep with), not save their lives during a fight. And that is why, they, according to Rand Corporation’s study, kill on average four times as many people as other terrorists do.

Besides, earlier suicide terrorists were relatively easier to detect – “they carried bombs in nylon backpacks or duffel bags rather than in belts or vests concealed beneath their clothing, as they do now.” They were mostly unmarried males, uneducated and in the age group of 17 and 23. And attacks were by one suicide terrorist at a time. However, now suicide bombers are middle-aged and young, married and unmarried; some of them have even children. And they attack now in a group, not alone. Their attacks are preceded by long logistical trails.

Therefore, it is a vital necessity now to understand the terrorists’ operational environment, know their modus operandi and targeting patterns. There must be concerted efforts to gather intelligence from places where terrorists conceal themselves and seek to establish and hide their infrastructure. Though it is necessarily not valid in anti-terrorism measures in Kashmir (where terrorists come from across the border with all their material and training), it is vital elsewhere to encourage businessmen from whom terrorists purchase bomb-making components (ammonium nitrate fertiliser; pipes, batteries, and wires) to alert the authorities in case of large purchases. The law-enforcement agencies should be aware of places such as schools, colleges and religious institutions where bombers are recruited. This aspect has now become relevant even in Kashmir, where the youth, as the current agitation proves, is being polarised on religious lines and is increasingly getting “Islamised”.

It does not need any elaboration that the Uri-attack, like any standard terrorist attack, was aimed at undermining the public confidence in the ability of the authorities to protect and defend citizens, thereby creating a climate of fear and intimidation amenable to terrorist exploitation. It is obvious that Pakistan is trying its best to exploit the disturbances in the Kashmir valley, undermine the effectiveness of the government led by Mehbooba Mufti, spread fear by contagion, immobilise and subjugate those living under the threats.

But will Pakistan succeed in its game-plan? “No” is the answer, and this is the third lesson of Uri-attack. The crude attack was meant to give a severe psychological blow to the Modi government and isolate it from the rest of India’s top political parties. In fact, every terror incident in a liberal democracy soon gets politicised, with the opposition and opponents of the ruling party taking the government to task. The terrorists’ main job here is to create disunity, demoralise the government of the day and divide the nation on how to tackle the situation. Viewed thus, the Uri attack has failed in its goal. There has been a remarkable solidarity amongst India’s political class; almost all the parties and leaders have responded with responsible remarks ( the singular exception, according to me, is the former Chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah, who, in fact, is playing the most notorious role these days in adding fuel to the fire in Kashmir) that Pakistan’s nefarious designs will not succeed, that India will not fall to its knees and that Kashmir shall remain an integral part of India.

Pakistan should realise that the recent history of the world shows political objectives such secession and independence have never been realised through terrorism. In his recent book, Does Terrorism Work? A History, Richard English has shown how Al-Qaida, the Provisional IRA in Northern Ireland, Hamas (it wants the elimination of Israel) and the Basque separatist group ETA in Spain, and a score of others have all failed in realising their objectives. Similarly, Kashmir cannot be separated from India through terrorism or violence.

But then English suggests that if a terrorist campaign has no real chance of achieving its grandiose aims, the State should not overreact to it. This is particularly important for the Modi government to mull over. While the prevention of terrorist atrocities is an essential part of public security, “it is a mistake to exaggerate the threat terrorists pose, beyond the atrocities themselves. It only leads to action that makes the situation worse”. English proves this point by giving the example of the post-9/11 “War on Terror” that witnessed an increase in the number both of terrorist actions and of terrorist-generated fatalities.

Instead, English favours a ‘calm, measured, patient reaction’ that focuses on prevention rather than “wars to end evil”. Though English’s suggestion seems reasonable, then the fact remains that it has to contend with the emotions aroused by terrorist acts and their inflammatory political effect in countries where they occur, given the acute problems that democracies like France, the United States and India face today. Is there a way out?

How about trying out a “calm, measured and patient” strike inside Pakistani territory, eliminating one Hafiz Saeed, the co-founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba or one Masood Azhar, chief of the Jaish-e-Mohammed , the so-called non-sate actors who master the terror campaigns against India and whom Pakistan uses as instruments of its state- policy?

dna Must Reads: Rio Olympians conferred Khel Ratna; Telangana deputy CM slammed over ‘proper coaching’ comment; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Kashmir unrest: Dialogue must, need to find permanent solution: Modi tells J-K opposition leadersDuring a 75-minute-long meeting, Modi said, “Those who lost their lives during the unrest are ‘part of us, our nation’. Whether the lives lost are of our youth, security personnel or police, it distresses us.” Read more here 2. Askme.com employees, sellers hold protest outside Gurugram office over non-payment of duesE-commerce portal Askme.com suspended its operations last week, citing a severe cash crunch in the company, after its major shareholder pulled out. Read more about the protest here3. Forgetting Gopichand? Telangana deputy CM slammed for ‘promising’ to give PV Sindhu ‘proper coaching’Shuttler PV Sindhu might have clinched the silver medal at Rio Olympics but mentor and chief coach Pullela Gopichand believes his ward is still far away from achieving her full potential and said she has the talent to be head and shoulders above the rest in the world. Read what Telangana deputy CM said here4. Rio Olympians Sindhu, Sakshi, Dipa and Jitu to be conferred Khel RatnaMore laurels for Olympians who have just returned from Rio. Know what is in store for them in India here5. Shocking: MNS won’t allow Sushant Singh Rajput’s MS Dhoni biopic to be dubbed in MarathiSushant Singh Rajput’s MS Dhoni: The Untold Story trailer has received thunderous response from the audiences and critics alike. And the entire team had a master plan ready up their sleeves, but the biopic won’t be dubbed in Marathi, know the reason here

Frankly speaking, PM Narendra Modi does not trust the media

It was a command performance by Narendra Modi.

In his first major interview to an Indian English news channel after taking over as Prime Minister in 2014, he remained the master of the show, with Arnab Goswami, the lion of Times Now, playing lamb to the man once called “Gujarat ka Sher“.

Not that Goswami didn’t have tough questions to ask, but Modi took them head on where he was comfortable, offered a straight bat for the difficult ones, and deflected those that seemed likely to dislodge his stumps. Barring the controversy related to RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan raked up by Subramanian Swamy, Modi made motherhood statements in response to most questions. He came up trumps for one simple reason: he looked earnest and a man engaged with his work and responsibilities. Not for him the distractions manufactured by the media. Barring congenital Modi baiters, whoever watched the show, would have come away with the feeling that we have right man in the top job.

This is not because of the answers he delivered, but the glimpses he gave into his personality and approach to issues. It is clear that he is a listener, and delves deep into problems. He is a boss with an eye for detail. At one point, when he was discussing water issues and the two consecutive droughts, he explained how he spent two or three hours each discussing water management with as many as 11 states. For a politician, he has a technocratic approach to problems. He is not just a big picture man, delivering visions and leaving it to minions to execute. He goes some levels below vision to seek delivery.

Though there was no mention of Modi’s much-bandied-about “Minimum government, maximum governance” slogan, it is now clear what he really meant. It was not a Thatcher or Reagan approach to shrinking government, but about making a government work better, with the top man pushing his troops hard to do better. Under Modi, minimum government is not about the size of the government at all. That won’t happen. It may even grow, given Modi’s efforts to position himself and his party to the centre-left, with a pro-poor agenda. It is politically the best position to take, never mind what the economic Right in India thinks about it.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP

On another occasion, he showed us how he separates Modi the politician from Modi the administrator. Asked, at one point, how he thinks about elections, he explained, not insincerely, that his decisions are not dictated by election considerations. He is apolitical in his decision-making when no elections are in sight; he switches to election mode when he is leading his party into it. He seems to have a remarkable ability to play both roles simultaneously. This is what he did in Gujarat. In the first four years after re-election, he would focus on governing. In the last year, he would be become a politician even while retaining his non-political side for critical decisions.

The interview also confirmed that Modi does not trust the media. This came through whether he was talking about foreign policy or his address to the US Congress or while answering questions about wilful defaulters.

When asked about his keen interest in foreign policy and his many foreign tours, he explained this simply: “The world didn’t know me. The world wants to know who the head of the state is. If someone would want to know Modi through the eyes of the media, then he would be disillusioned on which Modi is the real Modi. If this happens, the country will be at a loss. Modi’s personality shouldn’t be a hindrance for the world to have faith in India.”

Translated, this means he does not want the media to play middleman in how the world views him.

On another occasion, when he was asked about the element of humour he introduced while addressing the US Congress, he replied: “I have a humourous side but these days humour can be a risky thing.” Pressed further, he had this to say: “In this era of 24/7 news channels, anybody can lift a small word and make a big issue out of it. But I will tell you the truth, the reason for the absence of humour in public life is this fear. I am myself scared.”

He didn’t quite appear scared, but the point was clear. He thinks the media distorts.

When asked about his commitment to take on wilful defaulters, given that the government is seen to have let Lalit Modi and Vijay Mallya escape abroad, Modi took another side swipe at the media. “Firstly, this question is not in the minds of people. The people of India have confidence that if there’s someone who can do this (bring defaulters to book), it is Narendra Modi and he will do it. Citizens of the country have full faith.”

What he means is that it is the media that does not have faith in him, and (conversely) him in the media.

Then again, when asked why he lets Sangh loud mouths say what they want, his answer was the media: “Don’t make them heroes, they will stop?.” When Arnab protested and said “we don’t make them heroes, we make them villains”, Modi’s counter was classic: “But why do you make them so big? I see such statements by people on TV, whose faces I haven’t even seen and they end up becoming spokesmen on TV?.” Touche.

On the Subramanian Swamy-Raghuram Rajan issue, Modi’s answer had a double edge: he dissed Swamy for his publicity stunts, but also gave enough indication that Rajan’s term would not have been extended even without Swamy inserting himself into the issue. Modi pointedly suggested that Rajan’s patriotism could not be questioned and pointedly referred to the fact that while people had talked about Modi removing Rajan as soon as the new government, he did not do so. Implied in the answer was the assertion that he could have done so and instead chose to leave things be till his term actually ended.

On both Pakistan and China, where Modi’s policies do not appear to have yielded any dividend, Modi suggested that he was following the twin track approach – of continuing talks to make sure India is not accused of aggressive intent, and using stronger measures when provoked on the border. On China too, where India was blocked from the NSG entry due to the Chinese veto, Modi spun the setback differently: it looked bad due to his success in the US, which got hyped up by the media. ?More realistically, he emphasised that India had many problems with China and the dialogue was about finding areas of common concern. Where the differences existed, neither country was in any doubt about where their respective interests lay. In short, Modi is still feeling his way through on finding the right mix of responses to India’s two biggest geopolitical and regional rivals.

On issues ranging from the economy to corruption to jobs and the rural distress, Modi’s answers were standard and correct ones. The real value of the interview was not in what was said but in how it was said. We know Modi a little better than before and much of it is good.

RBI governor: Why Arundhati Bhattacharya may not be a good choice

It is now an accepted fact that Raghuram Rajan decided not to seek extension at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) top job because he could not live up to the expectations of the government besides the differences on the way he conducted monetary policy. All holders of the key positions in the government are supposed to toe the government line without without questioning.

Raghuram Rajan and Arundhati BhattacharyaRaghuram Rajan and Arundhati Bhattacharya

Raghuram Rajan and Arundhati Bhattacharya

Rajan clearly did not fit the bill.

An IIT, IIM and MIT alumnus, a former chief economist at the IMF and a professor at the prestigious Booth School in Chicago University, could not be expected to behave like Pahlaj Nihalanis or Gajendra Chauhans who have called themselves self-professed sycophants of the prime minister. Rajan’s persona, his international reputation and powerful articulation as a public intellectual only added to his halo and increasingly pit him at odds with the government. So Rajan had to go.

There is a lot of speculation now about who would be a pliant successor to Rajan. The government sources have revealed to the media some names – names of economists, bureaucrats and even some bankers as prospective Rajan successor.

Any of them could eventually make it; it would be, however, truly a sad day if someone who has messed around with thousands of crores of taxpayers’ money as a top banker and is now seeking to institutionalize the process by creating a ‘bad bank’ is rewarded with the job of the regulator of the banking industry.

Let us not mince words.

Just Ponder over the name of Arundhati Bhattacharya, the chairperson and managing director of the State Bank of India (SBI), India’s biggest public sector bank. It is true Bhattacharya made waves when she broke the glass ceiling of a male bastion and occupied the top job of this public sector behemoth.

But then look at the state of affairs at the State Bank of India which she has served for more than three decades in various managerial positions before ascending to the top job.

First, let us look at the non-performing assets (NPAs) – the current buzz of the banking sector. The SBI has written off Rs 41,640 crore in the last 10 years – public money virtually going down the drain, though the bank maintains the fig leaf that even as it is cleaning up its account books, it would continue its efforts to recover the money over the years.

It is left to one’s imagination as to what proportion of the lost money which stood as an eye sore in the account books for decades (but could not be salvaged) would be recovered when the bank has removed it from the account books to present a rosy picture about its profitability.

Bhattacharya has been hailed as a doer who turned around the fortunes of the SBI as its helms-woman – she made it to the Forbes’ coveted list of women leaders who have transformed the enterprises they led.

Let us take a look at the bad loan management during Bhattacharya’s tenure so far. In the last three years, she has been at the top job at the SBI, the write-offs at the bank have grown at a faster pace. In 2014-15, whereas 14 other public sector banks together wrote off Rs 8,883 crore of bad loan, the SBI alone cleaned up Rs 15,509 crore of public money from its accounts as lost. Mind you, in 2011-12, the SBI had written off just Rs 982 crore.

Clearly, Bhattacharya proved to be a past master in dressing up the bank account – to make it look honourable. Not surprising that she won plaudits when she declared that the bank’s profit had soared under her dynamic leadership. To be sure, SBI’s case should be seen in the context of RBI’s prodding to clean up bank balance sheets. Also, in relation to other larger PSB banks, SBI has done well in terms of absorbing bad loan shocks and maintaining profitability.

When information was sought under an RTI application as to who allowed such large-scale write-offs in 2014-15, the bank only responded that the discretionary power was vested in a committee but refused to divulge the names of the members of the committee.

Bhattacharya successfully maintained the impression of a hands-on top banker – but this impression was just a charade. It was stupefying how many academically trained economists endorsed this charade. Of course, some of her shenanigans were exposed when Raghuram Rajan asked the banks to make Asset Quality Review and make provisions for their distressed assets. All window-dressing fell apart – SBI’s profitability dipped significantly.

SBI’s portfolio quality in December 2015 had declined with gross NPA at 5.1 percent of gross advances as against 4.25 percent a year ago (in December 2014). In absolute terms, the gross NPA stood at about Rs 73,000 crore as against Rs 62,000 crore during the same period. However, in March 2016 quarter, gross NPA jumped to a whopping 6.5 percent of the gross advances. Again, this should be seen in the context of industry NPAs.

But, the big question to Bhattacharya is the logic of proposing the creation of a ‘bad bank’ or an entity where the bad loans of the bank will be hived off to. This was an idea that failed from the Day 1.

The idea of creating a bad bank was to make SBI free of its debt burden and it could concentrate on core banking services. It wants to house Rs 1.37 lakh crore of NPA or 9 per cent of total advances in the Bad Bank. As per the larger contours of this plan, as and when further loans go bad, that would be transferred to this Bad Bank so that bankers would continue to lend recklessly without any personal responsibility; and lakhs of crores of public money would continue to be siphoned off, without a finger raised at the lenders and receivers of the booty.

This was clearly a bad idea since PSBs lack the expertise to revive bad loan accounts especially in an economic downturn.

If Bhattacharya is catapulted to the position of the chief regulator, she would be in a position to transform the Bad Bank idea into a reality. Bankers and business class will, therefore, have reasons to applaud her elevation; and, of course, the taxpayer will continue to pick up the tab for this extended session of merry-making.

But, the bottomline is that this may not be a good news for the banking system in the long term. One could question Bhattacharya’s candidature for the RBI governor post for this single reason.

Centre returns 14 bills to Delhi govt, AAP infuriated

The BJP-led NDA Government at the Centre on Friday returned 14 Bills passed by the Delhi Assembly to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) led-Delhi Government. The returned bills include the Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill 2015, which the AAP had described as the ‘strongest’ anti-corruption legislation in the country.While returning the bills, the Centre has reportedly said that the procedure was not followed and that the assent of Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung was not taken.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Meanwhile, infuriated by this decision, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) said that it was unfortunate for the nation that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was not letting a fully elected government to function in Delhi.”He wants to run the Delhi Government on his own directions. The bills that have returned by the Centre include the Lokpal Bill and the Citizen Charter Bill. Modi ji used to say that ‘na khaunga na khane dunga’. But now he is saying that we will not let the bills pass,” AAP leader Sanjay Singh told ANI.”This decision clearly shows that the people of Delhi are being punished for choosing Arvind Kejriwal as their Chief Minister,” he added.The AAP supremo, in a series of tweets, alleged that the Centre is creating impediments in every aspect of the state government’s functioning.”It is my humble request to Prime Minister Modi that he should have a big heart. Have a big heart. Forget the defeat of the Delhi assembly elections and don’t take revenge from the people of the city. Should the Centre have the right to block every law of the Delhi government? Is the Central government the headmaster of the Delhi government?” he added.

Yoga helps us achieve focus and agility, say paraplegic jawans

Grit accompanied with modern therapies and yoga can help achieve wonders even if the odds are heavily against you.Giving this message loud and clear are the outstanding jawans from the Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre (PRC), Mohali, whose lower bodies (waist down) have almost become dysfunctional because of bullet or shrapnel injuries.Fourteen of them were part of the International Yoga Day celebrations at Capitol complex, Chandigarh and performed some asanas to such perfection that it left several participants captivated.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Army’s ex-rifleman Mohammed Latif from 10 JAK LI (Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry) regiment says he feels more rejuvenated since he made yoga a part of his daily routine about two years ago. Latif was hit by an enemy bullet when he was out on an operation in the Poonch-Rajouri sector in 2001. The bullet damaged his spinal cord, leaving him paralysed waist down.“I did not lose heart, and my hopes were rekindled when I got enrolled in a rehab programme at PRC, Mohali. The introduction of yoga about two years ago has helped me gain more confidence,” says Latif who is a Paralympic basketball player and represented India at the Pacific Paralympic Games in 2005.Latif’s basketball partner ex-Gunner, Ajit Kumar Shukla was also hit by a terrorist’s bullet while on patrol in Rajouri sector in 2005. The bullet pierced his stomach and smashed his spinal cord, making his lower body redundant. “We were to board a train for Hyderabad for the national basketball championship, but postponed that to attend this programme first. It is a great feeling to be a part of the yoga celebration. Yoga has helped us become strong mentally and more agile physically and it reflects in our game too. Now we are more at ease,” says Shukla, who became a proud father of twins eight months ago.“PRC introduced yoga with the help of the Art of Living Foundation in 2014 and since then the results have been encouraging. Jawans at our centre practice yoga each day – there is a short duration 20-minute yoga session on six days and a longer duration yoga session for a little more than one hour, once a week. Yoga has helped jawans recuperate faster,” says Col (retired) Jaswant Singh Spehia, director of PRC, Mohali.Captain (retired) Braj Paul Singh and Dr Archana are the Master Trainers who impart yoga training to about 45 jawans at the PRC. Capt Singh who was trained at Art of Living says, “The jawans perform Pranayam every day. Besides, we introduce customised asanas for each jawan, depending on his case and type of disability. It has helped them become more focused,” says Singh.

PM Modi’s recent US visit makes for good visuals, but lacks substance

The most important thing that PM Modi achieved in his latest visit to America is that he articulated a clear statement of interest. This was referred to by The Wall Street Journal as the ‘Modi Doctrine’. Even though that was tongue-in-cheek, PM Modi made a decisive break with the Third-World-ism and NAM-ism of the past, and presented a self-confident India that wishes to be an equal partner to the US.

No more moralizing a la Krishna Menon, no more ‘ship-to-mouth’ PL-480 funds, and no more brown sahib mouthing memes and pronunciation borrowed from the Brits: here was a PM confidently speaking the Indian English, and appearing to deliver extempore (although there were teleprompters), a rousing speech, complete with a stinging one-liner about the Sonia-led Congress and its obstructionism in the context of open warfare in the US Congress.

Americans should like the self-made PM’s Horatio-Alger rags-to-riches story, as it appeals to their myths about nothing being the land of unlimited opportunity and the Protestant work ethic. Yet, there are the “hesitations of history”, of decades of American animosity and self-righteous posturing by Indians. It is not yet clear that we are over this.

There are enough irritants: the movement of labor (as in the obstacles facing H1 visas), predatory big pharma and its irritation with section 3 (d) and compulsory licensing, the issue of aggressive evangelism fostered and supported by the American State. Then there is American unease over India’s cozy ties with Iran and Russia, mirrored by India’s frustration over American chumminess with Pakistan.

Washington: Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves before addressing a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington. PTIWashington: Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves before addressing a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington. PTI

Washington: Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves before addressing a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington. PTI

Then there is the #DeepState’s extreme animosity towards India, exemplified by the hounding of PM Modi. Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, and Nancy Powell were instrumental in ten years of demonization, and it’s possible that the DeepState funded much of the media crusade against him. Which of course doesn’t bode well for a possible Hillary Clinton presidency, of course.

And that brings me to what concerns me about the entire visit. While the Indian side was in full-court press mode, and spared no effort to create goodwill, and the standing ovations and autograph-seeking politicians were all wonderful optics (why, even the congenitally antagonistic The New York Times was forced to ‘damn with faint praise’), I am tempted to ask, “where’s the substance”?

I am reminded of another Narendra, Swami Vivekananda, and his electrifying speech to his “sisters and brothers of America” over a century ago. Then too, they gave him standing ovations, and announced a star had arisen. But still, 100 years later, the same Hinduism that the Swami preached is, at best, tolerated, and at worst, demonized, by America. Will it be any different for Modi?

Flattery has always been a powerful force used against India. The standing ovations and applause interventions do not mean squat unless there’s substance, not just form. In a sense, the PM was going over the heads of the US government directly to the politicians, but let’s face it, DeepState remains implacably hostile to India. And they run the place.

It is true there is some forward movement: for instance, in cyber security, and in counter-terrorism. The US, for the first time, explicitly named Pakistan regarding Pathankot and also fingered Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed as non-state actors in terrorism. So far, so good, but that may merely reflect the fact that after Obama’s much-trumpeted withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014, troops are quietly being re-inserted there because the Taliban (read ISI in baggy pants) are winning.

The Nuclear Liability Bill is not done, and against better sense, there is talk of six American nuclear reactors being installed in Andhra Pradesh. India has not ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change (and it probably shouldn’t, considering the very valid perspective that India’s per capita emissions are a fraction of the West’s), there has been movement on renewable energy.

On the military front (China being Banquo’s ghost) there has been agreement on technology transfers, but I suspect most of what will be transferred will be old, even obsolete stuff. And yes, the ongoing Malabar naval exercise off the coast of Japan between the US, Japanese and Indian navies is a precursor to closer co-ordination in the South China Sea. And yes, the Chinese submarine pen on Hainan island close to the Straits of Malacca, and its force projection into the Indian Ocean are alarming to both.

It appears that the PM puts on his best marketing hat for the benefit of the Americans (who are master salesmen), and therefore the visuals were good. But DeepState knows that in the medium term India will work towards a G3, a tripolar world. An India growing at 7-10% a year is another China-like behemoth in the making. As the locus of world trade and strategy shift to the Indo-Pacific and away from the Atlantic, India is a potential competitor, and a frenemy. The glad handing in Washington does nothing to change this simple fact: India is no longer content to play second fiddle or be only a “South Asian” power.

Andhra Pradesh: On a countdown to move to new headquarters at Velagapudi, none of the block ready

In exactly 12 days from from Wednesday, Andhra Pradesh government’s offices are supposed to relocate from Hyderabad to the state’s transitional headquarters at Velagapudi in the capital region but not a single block of the new buildings under construction here is ready.But Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu exuded confidence that everything would be in place by June 27 to move “at least some offices” to the transitional headquarters. “On the 22nd we will notify the Secretariat departments that need to shift here in the first round,” the Chief Minister said after inspecting the construction activity here this afternoon. Already, offices of some heads of departments started moving to the capital region in Guntur and Vijayawada, he pointed out.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Two days ago, the government had issued guidelines for the relocation of government staff from Hyderabad to Amaravati but did not specify the secretariat departments that would shift. In the meantime, the two construction majors–Shapoorji Pallonji and L&T — informed state Chief Secretary Satya Prakash Tucker that construction of the six blocks (of one lakh sqft each) would be completed only by August.
ALSO READ Should have moved to Amaravati earlier: Chandrababu NaiduThe original deadline set for them ended on Wednesday. Following this, the Chief Secretary announced that shifting of secretariat departments would be possible only by August.When asked about this, the Chief Minister remained evasive and only said they would announce on June 22 the departments that would shift in the first round on June 27. “When you are constructing a house, everything will not be ready at a time,” Chandrababu remarked.
ALSO READ Andhra Pradesh: CM Chandrababu Naidu promises 5-day week, 30% additional HRA for staffWhen pointed out that there is no proper road to reach the transitional headquarters, he said foundation for a new road would be laid on June 20. “We will first create one approach and later develop other roads according to the master plan,” the CM added.

NCP’s women’s wing protest against comedian Tanmay Bhat, burn his effigy

The women’s wing of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) staged a protest here on Monday against comedian Tanmay Bhat for making fun of legends Sachin Tendulkar and Lata Mangeshkar in a Facebook post.The agitating women raised slogans denouncing the AIB comedian and burnt his effigy. The AIB comedian drew flak from the politicians as well as several Bollywood celebrities, including actors Anupam Kher and Riteish Deshmukh, for insulting the diva of Indian film music and the master blaster.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Shiv Sena has dubbed Bhat’s video on Facebook titled ‘Sachin vs Lata Civil War’ as a ‘desperate publicity stunt’ and said it is a clear violation of freedom of speech. The Mumbai Police Special Branch is inquiring into the complaint lodged against the AIB comedian for posting an irreverent video of a mock conversation between the singing legend and master blaster.

All you need to know about Kerala’s new CM Pinarayi Vijayan and his bitter rivalry with Achuthanandan

Pinarayi Vijayan, known as a taskmaster and an organisation man to the core, has pipped his bitter rival VS Achuthanandan to the top post in Kerala politics, notwithstanding the spirited campaign by the 93-year-old leader to ensure the Left’s victory in the Assembly election.Hailing from a poor toddy tapper’s family, the 72-year-old CPI(M) leader belongs to the politically dominant Thiyya community like his party rival Achuthanandan, who is an Ezhava from South Kerala. Popularly known as ‘Pinarayi’, Vijayan is a party politburo member and perhaps the only communist leader in recent years to have had a complete control over the party for 16 years till he stepped down from the post of state secretary in 2015. A man of few words, he proved his organisational capability in the state during this period. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He had a short stint as the state’s power Minister during 1996-1998. The cloud of a graft case in connection with awarding of contract to a Canadian company SNC-Lavalin for modernisation of three hydel projects during that period haunted him with his rivals using it to target him. Vijayan has always maintained that it was a politically motivated case and there was no wrong doing.
ALSO READ Kerala Elections 2016: Veteran Achuthanandan sidelined, CPI(M) picks P Vijayan as next CM While his critics described him as a leader “with no smile on his face, and the most feared politician in Kerala”, his party rivals have often accused him of deviating from the party line.During his rule as state secretary, the infighting in the party between Vijayan and his bete noire Achuthanandan came to the fore. His elevation to the Chief Minister’s chair is also seen as a victory in the bitter power struggle with Achuthanandan, a popular leader who campaigned extensively during the Assembly election and was in the race for the top post.
ALSO READ Kerala elections 2016 – People have rejected ‘corrupt’ UDF govt: Prakash KaratVijayan was suspended from the politburo in 2007 along with Achuthanandan after the two openly criticised each other through the media. Later they were reinstated in the politburo. However, Achuthanandan was again dropped from the highest party body for breaching party discipline. Vijayan proved his mettle as an able administrator during his short stint as power minister in the LDF ministry headed by late EK Nayanar during the period 1996-1998. During his tenure, the state witnessed a giant leap in power generation and distribution capacities due to the productive measures taken by him as a minister.
ALSO READ Kerala Elections 2016: O Rajagopal, the man behind BJP’s historic winApart from the SNC-Lavalin case, the murder of RMP leader T PChandrasekharan, a former CPI(M) leader, at Onjiyam in Kozhikode in 2012, when he was the party state secretary, dented Vijayan’s image.Vijayan was born on March 21, 1944 to Mundayil Koran and Kalyani in Pinarayi in Kannur district, the place where the Communist movement in Kerala began. He became the Kannur district secretary of the Kerala Students Federation while studying for BA (Economics) in Brennen College in Thalassery and also worked as a handloom weaver after his schooling for a year before being able to continue his higher studies.He went on to become its state secretary and, later, state president of the KSF. In 1968, at the age of 24, Vijayan even found a place in the Kannur district committee of the CPI(M). Two years later, the party gifted Vijayan a sure ticket at Koothuparambu and he became MLA at the age of 26. Vijayan was elected to the state Legislative Assembly three times later in 1977, 1991 and 1996. He rose to prominence when he won in 1977 and again in 1991 from the same constituency. With better grip on the party, he became the CPI(M) district secretary in Kannur in 1978.Vijayan, who took part in various agitations, was subjected to torture during the Emergency and during earlier agitations. He once recalled that six policemen continuously beat him on the night of September 28, 1975 till he fainted in the lockup.After his release, he came to the Assembly and made a powerful speech holding up the blood stained shirt he wore during the assault on him in the police lock-up. His speech attacking then Home Minister and senior Congress leader late K Karunakaran was considered to be a glorious chapter in the legislative papers.

Mumbai not to berth unregistered yachts anymore

The high and mighty who own unregistered yachts may better watch out. The authorities are gearing up to seize these vessels and deny them berthing at ports and harbours in the state. The vulnerability of the coastline to terror infiltration and the increasing need to monitor marine traffic have forced the government decision to crack the whip, it is learnt.Officials point to how these yachts, which are parked at sites like the Gateway of India, stand the risk of being misused. The Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) will soon launch a campaign to get these vessels registered, failing which they will be seized.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”All barges and yachts must be registered so that we know of their movement,” said chief secretary Swadheen Kshatriya, who chaired a meeting on coastal security recently. “We have been told that while many (of these vessels) have been registered, some are yet to,” he added, admitting that there was a chance that their data was not updated.Kshatriya said that the vessels had to be registered with either the MMB or the Directorate General of Shipping (DGS), depending on their purpose – whether it’s used for passengers or cargo and their weight. Considering the duality in the registration authorities, a master data bank will be created.”We will run a campaign to give an opportunity (to owners of such unregistered yachts) to register themselves,” he added, stating that banners would also be put up at places like the Gateway of India.”Some of the yachts are not registered anywhere. Their (registration) is necessary for coastal security. We have decided to take strict action against boats which have not been registered. We will launch a special registration drive, and those failing to adhere to these in seven days will face action,” said Atul Patne, CEO, MMB, adding they would focus on boats which had not been registered either with them or the DGS.”If the yachts are not registered with the DGS or the MMB, then we will seize them,” said Patne, adding that there is always a chance of these vessels – anchored at sensitive spots like Gateway of India – getting misused or falling into hands of anti-national elements. Notices had also been issued to stakeholders like yacht clubs. “If they are not registered, we will not allow them to come near jetties like Mandwa and Elephanta,” he warned.However, a luxury boat owner pointed out that that the issue of registration for yachts was beset with legal and regulatory grey areas. For instance, as of now, there is no central authority to register yachts and pleasure boats. “The Inland Vessels Act, 1917, has no provision for pleasure yachts… since there is no where else to go, they (MMB) are asking us to come to them and register,” he said, adding that the government set up an independent central yacht registry either under the MMB or the DGS to deal with yacht registration.”We also discussed the issue of biometric identity cards for fishermen,” said Kshatriya, adding that while around 70% of the fisherfolk who ventured into the sea have been covered, the plan is to ensure blanket coverage in another two months. Officials from the MMB, Coast Guard and Marine Police have been given card readers to verify these biometric IDs.The 26/11 terror attacks in 2008, where Pakistani terrorists came to Mumbai via sea, exposed the soft underbelly of our coastal security apparatus. After this, the Centre and state government focussed on strengthening coastal security and plugging gaps. The explosives used in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts were landed at Shekhadi jetty in Raigad district.

GSPC debt: Congress targets PM Modi; seeks probe by SC judge into GSPC debt

Launching a vitriolic attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “misleading” the country, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Wednesday demanded a Supreme Court-monitored probe into “squandering” of Rs 20,000 crore by Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC).”(The) Prime Minister has misled the nation. There are two types of politicians. One, who speaks lie for personal gain and (the) other, in whose blood lies are inherent, (in) whose DNA it is inherent to speak lies. Prime Minister comes in the second category,” Ramesh told reporters.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress had earlier this month sought a discussion in Rajya Sabha on a CAG report regarding “anomalies” in Krishna Godavari (KG) Basin gas project claiming that the Gujarat government, under Modi, had created a “hype” over the project though it failed to strike gas despite spending crores of rupees on exploration.”There is a controversy regarding BA and MA degrees of Prime Minister. But I would like to go in what he did in KG,” the former Union Environment minister told reporters while referring to the KG basin project where GSPC had obtained a block for gas exploration. Modi had in 2005 declared that there was 20 trillion cubic feet gas in KG basin ‘Deen Dayal’ block obtained by GSPC. Little did we realise then that this announcement was part of a big master plan to borrow enormous sums of money from banks to be used recklessly. In the last 11 years, GSPC has borrowed Rs 20,000 crore from banks and has not yet commercially produced any gas. What happened to all this money? … It was squandered away,” Ramesh alleged.He said a consortium of 15 banks led by the State Bank of India had extended loans to GSPC.”(However) they (loans) would be NPA (non-performing assets) now as GSPC is a sick company. I want to ask RBI governor Raghuram Rajan (that) when he is very strict about showing of NPAs of private companies, will he also reveal NPAs of public sector undertakings like GSPC,” Ramesh asked.He claimed, “Unlike the previous CAG reports in 2G and Coal where the loss was presumptive, this one is an actual figure of Rs 20,000 crore borrowed and squandered away”.Seeking “answers” from Prime Minister on GSPC issue, Ramesh demanded an inquiry by a sitting Supreme Court judge. He also questioned the overseas acquisition of gas blocks by GSPC in Egypt, Australia, Indonesia and Yemen.”The company acquired 11 gas blocks overseas, out of which by 2015, 10 were surrendered as they could not find gas and wrote off Rs 2,000 crore. For a company that had no prior experience in operating blocks there, GSPC’s reckless acquisition spree of overseas blocks calls into question both its business acumen as well as its intent,” Ramesh said.The Congress leader also questioned GSPC on the contracts and partnerships with “dubious entities” like GeoGlobal Resources and Tuff Drilling, claiming they had no prior experience in oil and gas exploration.”CAG in its recent report has clearly spelt out how nearly Rs 20,000 crore was a wasteful expenditure with no proper process followed,” he said.When asked if the Congress is raking up the GSPC issue to counter BJP’s attack over alleged corruption in execution of the AgustaWestland chopper deal, Ramesh said no Congress leader has taken bribe in the deal.”We have asked for a court-monitored inquiry into the deal. We do not have faith in the investigative agencies which are under Narendra Modi,” Ramesh said.When asked about his earlier statement comparing ‘Gujarat with Afghanistan’, Ramesh said he did so in the wake of the Prime Minister making an “outrageous” comment equating Kerala with Somalia.

VVIP chopper scam: Cong creates storm in Parl, demands apology from PM Modi for attacking Sonia Gandhi

Congress on Monday created a storm in Parliament and disrupted proceedings over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charge at a poll rally that an Italian court had named Sonia Gandhi in AgustaWestland chopper bribery case.The Rajya Sabha saw four adjournments in the first two hours because of the continued uproar and sloganeering by Congress members, leading to washout of the Zero Hour and Question Hour. “Narendra Modi maafi mange. ‘Feku’ Mama maafi maange (Narendra Modi should apologise. Bluffmaster should apologise),” shouted members of the Congress in the Rajya Sabha, which failed to transact any business except one question during the Question Hour.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the Lok Sabha too, the issue generated heat soon after it assembled for the day with Congress members raising the matter. The Congress questioned how the Prime Minister could make such allegations when Defence Minister had not stated this in his reply to debates on the controversy in both the Houses last week.The opposition party wanted to know which court Modi was quoting. “Pradhan Mantri House mein aao (Prime Minister should come to the House)” and reply, Congress members chanted.In Rajya Sabha, they demanded an apology from the Prime Minister, forcing Deputy Chairman P J Kurien to first adjourn the proceedings of the House twice during Zero Hour, first for 10 minutes and then again till 1200 hours.Again when the House met at noon, Chairman Hamid Ansari’s pleas to allow the Question Hour to function did not evoke any positive response as the Congress members created pandemonium and raised slogans against the Prime Minister.At one point, an exasperated Ansari remarked: “It is not becoming of the House”. Do not do that. Allow the question hour to take place.”

Kerala Elections 2016: Politics of ‘compromise’ between UDF and LDF in Kerala, says Modi

The politics of ‘compromise and contract’ between the UDF and the LDF has so far ruled Kerala whose educated electorate have been ‘insulted’ by the two sides, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday.”A new model of politics has come up in Kerala. It is an adjustment politics, politics of compromise, politics of corruption and politics of contract to save each other,” he said at an election meeting here.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”It is a contract rule between UDF and LDF. For five years you rule and for another five years we will rule”. This is how the two Fronts have been returning to power in the state, Modi said attacking the two Fronts in the state.
ALSO READ Kerala Elections 2016: Centenarian, poll mascot in Kerala district, will caste her first voteEmbarking on his second leg of electioneering for the May 16 assembly polls in Kerala, Modi took a swipe at the tie-up between Congress and CPI(M) in West Bengal and said both these parties were “insulting” the educated people of Kerala and they should understand the adjustment politics of the two parties.He also attacked the CPI(M)’s “politics of violence” and said the Marxist party led Left Democratic Front’s Chief Ministerial candidate was an accused in a case relating to the murder of BJP worker at Thalassery years ago.
ALSO READ Kerala Elections 2016: As UDF takes on Bacchus, Kerala’s backwaters left in low spirits”Congress leaders in Kerala talk about the violence unleashed by CPI(M) cadres in the state, but when they go to West Bengal, they say only Communists can save West Bengal”, he said.”I want to ask the educated people of the state if they would trust the parties who speak two languages in two places at one time”, Modi asked.
ALSO READ Kerala elections 2016: In North Kerala’s red stronghold, BJP fires up memories of a bloody past”This election is not about who will form the government in Kerala, but who will save Kerala and who will give jobs to Kerala’s youths and secure their future”, Modi said.Seeking votes for BJP-NDA candidates, Modi highlighted the various development and welfare schemes launched by NDA government in the last two years in office.”Government in Delhi is working out steps to help arecanut and coconut farmers and we are aware of the crisis faced by them”, he said.The Prime Minister also mentioned about the benefits of Agriculture Crop Insurance and Mudra Yojana introduced by the NDA government.”We have a dream. By 2022, when the India celebrates its 75th anniversary of independence, we want to double the income of farmers in the country”, Modi said amidst cheers from the huge crowd.Attacking the CPI(M), Modi said Kerala has been “destroyed by politics of violence” as he mentioned the murder of a BJP activist years ago in Thalassery in Kannur district.”One among those who killed him (BJP worker) is now the Chief Ministerial candidate of CPI(M) in Kerala. Will Kerala’s future be safe in the hands of these people,” Modi asked.”I want to tell the media in Delhi, in Kerala, which is known as God’s Own Country, these innocent people have been killed and people of country were not aware of it”, he said, adding that people who were sitting with “eyes closed” should be aware of the politics of violence in this part of the country.At the meeting, the Prime Minister also introduced to the crowd a victim of alleged CPI(M) violence, Sadananda Master whose legs were chopped off.”He did not make any mistake, his only mistake was attackers did not agree with the victim’s ideology”, he said.

Pathankot attack: Lt Col Niranjan, NSG dog recommended for gallantry award

In probably a first, the elite commando force NSG has recommended its dog ‘Rocket’ along with slain officer Lt Col Niranjan and two others for military gallantry medals for their role in eliminating terrorists who attacked the Pathankot air base early this year.Officials said while the specially trained canine has been recommended for a ‘Sena medal’, Lt Col Niranjan EK who was killed while sanitising a terrorist’s booby-trapped body has been recommended for a ‘Shaurya Chakra’ along with two other commandos. The two-and-a-half-year-old Belgian Malinois dog and his handler have been recommended for bravery decoration by the National Security Guard headquarters for displaying “raw courage and dedication to duty” in the face of extreme threat and danger. ‘Rocket’ had walked into a burning airmen billet on the direction of his master and brought back a pouch that indicated presence of militants inside.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A senior official said, Rocket’s paws got singed but that did not deter him from following the directions of his master also called the handler. “While there have been few instances when Army dogs have been honoured with military medals, this is the first for NSG which was established in 1984 as the federal contingency force,” they said. A final decision will however be taken by a Union Home Ministry-appointed committee which clears names of recipients of these medals. The list is expected to be finalised before the next Independence Day.’Rocket’ is one of the most trusted four-legged trooper of the NSG’s K-9 (canine) squad. The squad is deployed along with commandos during counter-terror and counter-hijack operations. Officials said apart from ‘Rocket’, a similar recommendation has been made for the second-highest peacetime gallantry medal for Niranjan, Commanding Officer of the NSG’s bomb disposal squad, who was killed while sanitising a terrorist’s body.NSG had said it lost the experienced and brilliant counter-IED officer to a deadly booby trap as the terrorists had used an innovative technique whose antidote was not included in the Standard Operating Procedure of the ‘black cat’ commandos force. Niranjan’s lungs got punctured due to the impact of the blast of a grenade that was kept in the pocket of a slain terrorist and the officer died before being taken to hospital.The Pathankot attack that took place on the intervening night of January 1-2 claimed the lives of seven security personnel while four terrorists were killed by NSG and other security personnel. While the NSG has maintained six terrorists were involved in the attack, including two in the airmen billet which they brought down using heavy explosives, according to the NIA, it so far has proof of presence of only four militants whose bodies were later recovered.

Gurgaon to Gurugram: AAP slams BJP’s ‘anti-Dalit’ move

AAP attacked BJP over the renaming of Gurgaon, calling the party “anti-Dalit” and questioned whether it approved Guru Dronacharya’s act of asking “Dalit and Advivasi” pupil Eklavya’s thumb. AAP leader Ashutosh said while renaming the corporate hub to honour Dronacharya, BJP does not remember Eklavya. “BJP by its nature is anti-Dalit. This is why to honour Dronacharya, they have changed the name of Gurgaon to Gurugram. But it does not remember Eklavya. “The BJP should explain whether they approve Dronacharya’s act of getting the thumb of an adivasi and tribal Eklavya cut?” Ashutosh tweeted. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The BJP government in Haryana renamed Gurgaon as Gurugram, claiming that people of the area have been making a demand in this regard. Legend has it that Gurgaon derived its name from the name of Guru Dronacharya, the master of archery in Mahabharata who tutored the Pandavas. The village was given as gurudakshina to him by his students — the Pandavas — and hence it came to be known as Guru-gram, which in course of time is said to have got distorted to Gurgaon.In Mahabhrata, Dronacharya had asked Eklayvya, an ace tribal archer, for his thumb as gurudakshina.CPI(M) slams renaming Objecting to renaming of Gurgaon and Mewat in Haryana, CPI(M) alleged that the BJP government’s move is motivated by narrow considerations and is absolutely unacceptable. Gurgaon being named as Gurugram is absolutely unacceptable, Haryana CPI(M) secretary Surender Singh said here and added that similar attempts were made earlier also but had to be dropped for logically justified reasons.Dronacharya, from whom the name of the city is drawn, “as a guru is believed to be a symbol of denial of education to dalits and associated with heinous and outrageous episode related to chopping off Eklavya’s thumb in the Mahabharata epic”, he said.The CPI(M) also decried that the Khattar government had taken the “repugnant step” ahead of April 14, which marks the 125th birth anniversary of Dr B R Ambedkar who fought against untouchability and caste-based discrimination.Similarly, the change of Mewat district’s name to Nuh is motivated by narrow communal consideration as Mewat has a distinct historical and cultural identity in itself, Singh alleged.The party appealed to all “democratic and social justice loving organisations and individuals” to raise their voice against decisions taken by Haryana Cabinet and force it to retain the original names as Gurgaon and Mewat.

Thirsty no more: AAP proposes piped drinking water for all households by 2017

New Delhi: The AAP government in Delhi on Monday proposed drinking water to all authorised and unauthorised colonies by 2017 through pipelines and allocated Rs 676 crore for the financial year 2016-17 for this.

“Despite being in the national capital, we have to drink bottled water. Our aim is to provide drinking water through pipelines to all households in authorised or unauthorised colonies by December 2017,” Finance Minister Manish Sisodia on Monday said while presenting the Annual Budget.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The AAP minister said it was the endeavour of the Arvind Kejriwal government to supply clean drinking water to every Delhite and “eradicate the water tanker mafia” from the city.

“300 new unauthorised colonies will be provided piped water supply in the year 2016-17. I have allocated 676 crore for this purpose,” he said.

Sisodia said his government had taken a decision earlier to provide 20 kilo litre of water free of cost to every citizen and this budget only emphasises “our commitment towards the people of Delhi.”

The Kejriwal government also proposed to partly or fully waive arrears of people in connection with disputed or inflated water bills.

“We have decided to waive 100 per cent arrears for the consumers belonging to ‘E’, ‘F’, ‘G’ & ‘H’ category colonies, 75 per cent in ‘D’ category, 50 per cent in ‘C’ and 25 per cent in ‘A’ & ‘B’ categories with complete remission of late payment surcharge,” he said.

With regard to water connection, the city government also proposed to reduce the development charge from Rs 440 per sqm to Rs 100 per sqm in unauthorised colonies enrolling and benefitting almost 130,000 consumers.

Sisodia also said the government has “increased 10 per cent of potable water by commissioning three major water treatment plants at Dwarka, Bawana and Okhla which were lying completely idle”.

“Also, the Delhi Jal Board will roll out a comprehensive rainwater harvesting scheme, water-bodies revival policy and summer action plan to ensure that Delhi doesn’t suffer in any way for want of water,” he said.

On sanitation, the Finance Minister said, though the Sewage Master Plan proposes sewage network to all households by 2036, “our government will try to achieve that goal in 10 years”.

“I propose Rs 1,976 crore of plan outlay for water supply and sanitation sector, which is 9.6 per cent of total plan outlay,” he said.

PTI

Delhi Budget: AAP allocates Rs 676 crore to provide drinking water to all households by 2017

The AAP government in Delhi on Monday proposed drinking water to all authorised and unauthorised colonies by 2017 through pipelines and allocated Rs 676 crore for the financial year 2016-17 for this.”Despite being in the national capital, we have to drink bottled water. Our aim is to provide drinking water through pipelines to all households in authorised or unauthorised colonies by December 2017,” Finance Minister Manish Sisodia today said while presenting the annual budget.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The AAP minister said it was the endeavour of the Arvind Kejriwal government to supply clean drinking water to every Delhite and “eradicate the water tanker mafia” from the city.”300 new unauthorised colonies will be provided piped water supply in the year 2016-17. I have allocated 676 crore for this purpose,” he said.Sisodia said his government had taken a decision earlier to provide 20 kilo litre of water free of cost to every citizen and this budget only emphasises “our commitment towards the people of Delhi.”The Kejriwal government also proposed to partly or fully waive arrears of people in connection with disputed or inflated water bills.”We have decided to waive 100% arrears for the consumers belonging to ‘E’, ‘F’, ‘G’ & ‘H’ category colonies, 75% in ‘D’ category, 50% in ‘C’ and 25% in ‘A’ & ‘B’ categories with complete remission of late payment surcharge,” he said.With regard to water connection, the city government also proposed to reduce the development charge from Rs 440 per sqm to Rs 100 per sqm in unauthorised colonies enrolling and benefitting almost 130,000 consumers.Sisodia also said the government has “increased 10 per cent of potable water by commissioning three major water treatment plants at Dwarka, Bawana and Okhla which were lying completely idle”.”Also, the Delhi Jal Board will roll out a comprehensive rainwater harvesting scheme, water-bodies revival policy and summer action plan to ensure that Delhi doesn’t suffer in any way for want of water,” he said.On sanitation, the Finance Minister said, though the Sewage Master Plan proposes sewage network to all households by 2036, “our government will try to achieve that goal in 10 years”.”I propose Rs 1,976 crore of plan outlay for water supply and sanitation sector, which is 9.6% of total plan outlay,” he said.

NIA court discharges 11 in the Iranian boat case

The NIA Special Court, taking cognizance of the final report of investigation filed by the agency in connection to seizure of an Iranian boat from the Arabian sea, discharged 11 of the total 12 accused stating that the probe did not find any evidence to prove that the accused to establish commission of scheduled offences under the SUA Act.The accused were booked under Sections 3 and 7 of Maritime Zones of India (Regulation of Fishing by Foreign Vessels) Act 1981 and Section 3(g) of The Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act, 2002, (SUA Act) at local Police Station in Kerala.The boat was intercepted by the Indian Coast Guard on July 4 last year with 12 persons on board – comprising of 11 Iranians and one Pakistani national.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Iranian Boat was found in the Arabian Sea in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of India at 58.5 nautical miles off Alleppey coast of KeralaThe NIA court while discharging the 11 men said that ‘the probe agency had thoroughly examined the arrested persons and the call details of their phones were analysed. A thorough forensic examination of the Boat was undertaken to detect trace of any evidence of any illegal acts, consignment on board and the ocean floor below the location of the boat was also scanned for any offloading of contrabands on the high seas. However, no evidence to establish the commission of a scheduled offence could be forthcoming during investigation,”said NIA officials.”The final report of investigation, therefore, submits that no evidence could be found to establish commission of scheduled offences under the SUA Act. However, the final report submitted indicates the commission of offences under section 3 r/w 10 (b) and 7 r/w 14 of the Maritime Zones of India (Regulation of Fishing by Foreign Vessels) Act 1981, for which only the master of the ship is liable and the Hon’ble Court has been apprised accordingly, “NIA added.The court has entrusted the custody of the eleven foreigners – 10 of Iranian nationality and one of Pakistan, to FRRO, Kochi. “Consequently, FRRO, Kochi has imposed restrictions on their movement out of District Jail as per provisions of Foreigners, Act, 1946 and Foreigners Order, 1948, till their deportation to respective countries. The court has further directed NIA to take adequate steps for issuing travel documents to the foreigners,”NIA officials said.

Modi’s Mann Ki Baat: Pep talk by PM to students before the board exam, Sachin and Vishy join in

By Shishir Tripathi

Reminiscent of the brisk pep talk given by teachers before the board exams, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday morning reached out to the students appearing for board examination through his monthly radio broadcast ‘Mann Ki Baat’ programme.

Sunday’s Mann Ki Baat opened up with the message of (in the words of the Prime Minister ) “the most successful opener of the cricket history”, Sachin Tendulkar, who stressed on positive thoughts as instrumental in gaining success and never geting burdened by expectation.

PM Narendra Modi. Reuters

PM Narendra Modi. Reuters

Even while speaking about examinations, Modi brought many diverse aspects of exams to the fore. He talked about everything from how to manage time just before exam to what one should do on the day of the exam and how one should relax; that included suggestions to talk to parents and friends to remain cool and confident while avoiding any wave of anxiety and any sort of negativity.

In the midst of busy Budget Session and uproar in the Parliament over JNU issue, with Opposition showing no sign of accommodation, the Prime Minister decided to address the students appearing for the most important exam of their life. All these students, probably nervous about the upcoming exams, will be young adults, using their most important democratic right of vote in the general elections of 2019. Engaging with them now would certainly help the prime minister then; a perfect exam example of ‘catch them young’ strategy.

While motives can be read out in each and every act of leaders the fact remains that engagement of such sorts undoubtedly have great motivating effect of students. Especially for lakhs of not so very privileged lot who need some motivation to make their way through numerous struggles. And what could have been better way to motivate these young people than by bringing on board youth icons like Sachin Tendulkar and Viswanath Ananad,

Tendulkar gave some real ‘cool’ mantras of success. He stressed on setting one’s own targets and not getting too affected by the targets others have set. He also added that when people set their own targets and achieve them, that contribution is indeed cherished.

Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand offered very practical advice to the students on the dos and donts while sitting for an exam. True to his own style, he emphasized on keeping calm, a very important thing during exams.

CNR Rao’s words of wisdom centred on self-belief and tenacity. He told the students that the sky is the limit and urged them to follow their passions.

Morari Bapu shared the age old wisdom with the students of not fearing the failure and having faith in one’s own self.

Considering the politically charged atmosphere in the country over the JNU and other issues issues Modi could have used this platform to make a point and reach out to the people to clear the air . However, following the precedents he chose to keep it apolitical and instead choose to engage with students

One aspect in anchoring this edition of mann ki baat where the prime minister score a full hundred was his ability to ensure that it does not turn into a preachy lesson. It was possibly because of the interaction, as evident from the frequent names taken by the Prime Minister of people who contributed ideas and anecdotes on his Mobile App.

Prime minister stressed that how the way look at exams makes thing quite easy. He reiterated the old age wisdom of competing with one own self.

Much required humour ; to ease out the tension that exams brings in, the prime minister talked about having proper sleep but at the same time cautioned the students not to sleep in the exam and blame him for lesser marks.

PM used life stories of JK Rowling, Edison and great mathematician Ramanujan to tell how failures should never come in the way of pursuit of success.

dna Must Reads: From latest in Jat agitation to UK PM Cameron deciding EU referendum date

1. Live | Jat agitation: BJP to issue showcause notice MP RK Saini for comments opposing protestsJat agitators on Saturday set on fire the office of Budha Khera station master. The station master was not present at the scene, but it has been learnt that signal panel (which indicates railway traffic) has been destroyed in the fire. The train services have been badly hit in the state in the wake of the pro-reservation agitation. Read more here.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. Jammu & Kashmir: Gunmen open fire on CRPF in Pampore; one jawan killedDozens of people were trapped inside a government building in Pampore area on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway as a militant took shelter in the premises of Entrepreneurship Development Institute after opening firing on security forces. However, later the employees were evacuated from the building. Read more here.3. Ringing Bells in trouble, comes under excise, income tax departments’ scannerRinging Bells, makers of the world’s cheapest smartphone, has come under the scanner of excise and income tax departments as debates around the feasibility of offering a Rs 251 handset rages on. According to the sources, the I-T Department is looking into the financial structure of the Noida-based company and have obtained documents, including those from the Registrar of Companies (RoC), in this regard. Read more here.4. Arunachal Pradesh: Whole dissidence was funded by RSS and BJP, says former CM Nabam TukiFormer Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh Nabam Tuki on Saturday blamed RSS and BJP for the dismissal of his government, alleging that their aim was to topple all Congress governments in the Northeast. Read more here.5. EU referendum to be held on June 23: UK PM David CameronPrime Minister David Cameron said on Saturday he would hold a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union on June 23. “I will go to parliament and propose that the British people decide our future in Europe through an in-out referendum on Europe on Thursday the 23rd of June,” he said. Read more here.

Kerala: Priest arrested on charges of child sexual abuse

A 38-year-old Christian priest has been arrested on charges of sexually harassing an inmate of a children’s home at Valayanchirangara near Perumbavoor.According to The New Indian Express, the priest has been identified as John Philipose, a native of Naranganam in Pathanamthitta. The priest was the manager of the children’s home that was being run by the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church at Valayanchirangara.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The daily quotes Perumbavoor sub-inspector Honey K Das as stating that the priest was arrested after a statement was given by one of the victims to Childline officials. The victim had reportedly also narrated the incident to the headmaster of the school where he was studying. Childline officials were then informed by the school authorities. The police have registered a case under various sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. The accused was produced before the court and remanded to custody, adds the daily.

JNU spirit on show again: Please don’t call varsity anti-national, say both Left and Right

By Shishir Tripathi

At the Periyar hostel in JNU on Sunday night, students set aside the politics being played over the arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar, the student union president. They organised a cultural night and music from the North-East filled the air. At regular intervals, the master of ceremony called from the stage, “Tej se bolo kaun hai hum” and the crowd responded with equal zeal “Bharatwasi Bharatwasi”.

Representational image. Image courtesy: JNU website

Representational image. Image courtesy: JNU website

Just few hours before the cultural night, the campus had witnessed an almost two-kilometre-long human chain demanding the release of the Kanhaiya Kumar. It was preceded by a press conference by the JNU teachers’ association condemning the arrest of Kumar. This face of the campus stood in sharp contrast to what has been playing out on television screens since 9 February. The footage on television showed some students of the varsity raising anti-India slogans, calling for the annihilation of the nation state.

On Sunday, the real JNU spirit was in full flow. While many students with a Left-leaning opined that at no cost anti-national activities should be defended, many Right-leaning students said the state went overboard and overreacted in arresting Kanhaiya and booking him under the sedition law. An interesting unification among the students, irrespective of their ideological positions on another point, was noticeable too: all of them are disturbed over the branding of this ‘great institution as anti-national’.

“This is purely absurd. A little understanding of sedition laws clearly shows that there is a caveat in invoking it; there must be direct incitement of violence, which is not the case here,” said Prosenjit, a student.

Shakti, a final year PhD student who was present at all three events, had this to say: “There is a principle in ecology that says the more diverse the ecosystem, the better are the chances of it being more stable. In JNU diverse viewpoints have existed but it never created any ugly conflict. All the differences remained at the level of thought and sometimes culminated in angry debates.”

He added, “We cannot deny the fact that there have been numerous incidents which can be seen as anti-national, but they are nothing more than rhetoric. Sedition charges are indeed an overreaction.”

Rajneesh, a PhD student at department of Sanskrit, raised an important point. In 2007, the presidential candidate of Bahujan Student Front (BSF) released a pamphlet during the presidential debate which demonised Ram. A major altercation took place and that was the last election held under the aegis of JNU administration. But no action was taken against any student. The Indian Penal Code (IPC) has provisions to book a person for hurting religious sentiments but JNU has a very vibrant culture where extremely hostile viewpoints exist in harmony, at least at the surface level.”

He added, “See we also read Valmiki Ramayana and analyse roles of different characters critically. But that is academic work. But when you use a political stage for the same conflict there’s bound to be trouble. You have to respect sentiments.” Another student makes an important assertion. “In 1989, when hundreds of protesting students were killed by Chinese army at Tiananmen Square, JNU students, irrespective of their political affiliation, criticised it. The fact is that we might have very strong ideological stance which, in many cases, are extremely anti-state but we never defend which cannot be and should not be defended.”

There can be no contention that JNU has been the ground for fierce debates. “Severe criticism of the state and challenge to all settled notions of right and wrong has been the legacy of JNU. It has always idolised revolutionaries like Che Guevara, Mao, Lenin and Marx but when these figures were replaced by the likes of Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhatt, then we too feel that something has gone wrong,” said the student.

Ajay Mathur takes charge as TERI DG after Pachauri disappears on leave

New Delhi: With the second coming of RK Pachauri as the executive vice chairman of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) proving to be another disaster to the organisation’s image, former director general of Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) Ajay Mathur was on late Thursday night appointed as the new TERI-DG.

Earlier Mathur was to take over on 8 February 2016 as the TERI chief. Pachauri, who is embroiled in a second sexual harrassment case now, was removed by the green body last year but was brought back again in the capacity of executive vice chairman.

RK Pachauri. File photo ReutersRK Pachauri. File photo Reuters

RK Pachauri. File photo Reuters

An official statement said the TERI governing council at its meeting held in Bengaluru on Thursday took the decision to appoint Mathur as the new director general.

“Mathur will take up his new responsibilities as soon as he is in a position to do so, subsequent to being relieved from his current responsibilities by the government after a brief period of transition,” the statement said.

According to TERI, the issue of succession to the current leadership was first discussed in detail by the general council in its meeting held in Mumbai in September, 2014.

Subsequently a well-known search firm was entrusted with the task of carrying out a search of candidates for the position.

“The decision to appoint Ajay Mathur is the culmination of an extensive search process and an intensive evaluation of candidates from across the globe,” TERI said.

“We hope the GC is certain that the 1,200 people working for TERI in different parts of the world would welcome this development,” it added.

Mathur holds a PhD and a Master of Science from the University of Illinois and completed his bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Roorkee.

He began his career at TERI in 1986 and rose to the position of dean, Energy and Environment Engineering, from 1995 to 2000. Mathur later worked with the World Bank, Green Climate Fund, before taking over as the director general of the BEE.

Pachauri was granted anticipatory bail on 21 March but was directed not to enter the TERI offices till investigation is complete. On 17 July, a court allowed the environmentalist to visit the offices, except two establishments in one of which the complainant worked.

After the sexual harassment complaint, Pachauri stepped down as chairperson of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in February and proceeded on leave from TERI as its director general.

TERI University students and alumni wrote a letter to the acting vice chancellor on Wednesday, condemning the appointment of Pachauri as executive vice chairman of the organisation. The students also refused to take their degrees at the March convocation, reports Hindustan Times.

According to NDTV, close to 200 students are expected to receive their final degrees at the convocation (to be held on 7 March) of the university. According to the television channel’s website, the students wrote in the email that Pachauri’s re-appointment was “anti-thetical” to their beliefs and they did not wish to accept degrees from Dr Pachauri.

The Indian Express quotes the students’ letter, “We reiterate the trajectory that the university is taking is dangerous and grossly inconsiderate, and as alumni, we sincerely hope that Teri University’s board of management seriously re-evaluates Pachauri’s continuing role as chancellor…”

After the rebel by the students, Pachauri on Thursday went on leave probably forcing the institute to appoint Mathur.

With inputs from PTI & IANS

Bihar Dy CM Tejaswi Yadav pitches for ‘smart village’

Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar Tejaswi Prasad Yadav on Wednesday pitched for ‘Smart Village’ over ‘Smart City’ and accused the Centre of ignoring Bihar in the selection of cities under the urban scheme.”Bihar has been a victim of partiality by the union government – whether it is in the issue of Smart City or granting any package,” Yadav said.Yadav, who reached the steel city on Wednesday to take part in wedding of India’s national cricket team member Varun Aaron on Thursday questioned the relevance behind developing cities, which were already developed while pitching for smart villages.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Do they want to develop cities like Bangalore and metropolitan cities such as Mumbai, Delhi etc, which are already developed, as smart cities,” he asked.Noting that the government has earmarked Rs 200 crore for upgrading a city into a smart city, he wondered whether the amount was sufficient for the purpose. Yadav said he would prefer that the government develop smart villages, which represent large population of the country. He said the focus in Bihar was development and the government has undertaken ‘Bihar Vikas Mission’ to ensure all round development of the state in the next five years, irrespective of all negative campaigns launched by BJP and allies about the state.On his government’s development plan, Yadav said the state government will develop a 21 km long river bridge between Kachchi Dargah (Patna)-Bidupur (Vaishali), which will be the longest bridge of Asia. The bridge will be developed at a cost of Rs 5,000 crore, the deputy chief minister said.Commenting on his Road Construction and Building Construction department, Yadav said the Bihar government has prepared a road map to develop infrastructure in the state.”We have plan to invest Rs one lakh crore in the proposed Road Master Plan 2035, which would be reviewed every five years to ensure that the target is met within a timeframe,” he added.

Espionage case: Court refuses bail to two accused of supplying sensitive info to ISI

New Delhi: A Delhi court has denied bail to two persons, including an army personnel, arrested for allegedly supplying sensitive documents to Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI.

The court dismissed the bail applications of former army personnel Munawwar Ahmad Mir and Farid Ahmad, who was serving as constable in 17, Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry division of the army.

“Considering the facts and circumstances of the case and gravity of offence, role of accused persons and modus operandi adopted in commission of crime and pending investigation, no ground for grant of bail is made out. Hence, bail applications of accused are dismissed,” Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sanjay Khanagwal said.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Munawwar and Farid had sought bail claiming that they have been falsely implicated in the case. Munawwar and Farid said they are in custody since December 4 and 6, 2015 respectively and the probe was already complete and claimed that provisions of the Official Secret Act does not attract against them.

Crime Branch of Delhi Police opposed the bail pleas saying the investigation was still pending and the issue of national security was involved and the accused were active participants in the alleged offence.

Besides Munawwar and Farid, the other arrested accused in the case are BSF head constable Abdul Rasheed, Mohd Sabar, a teacher by profession, and Kafaitullah Khan alias Master Raja, a resident of Rajouri district in Jammu and Kashmir.

Police said Munawwar and Farid were allegedly involved in supplying information relating to country’s national security to ISI and they were involved in anti-national activities.

Regarding Farid’s role, the agency said he allegedly used to provide information to ISI in the form of CD and pen drive.

While Farid was arrested from Darjeeling in West Bengal, Munawwar and Sabar were arrested from Jammu and Kashmir.

Detailing the roles of the accused, the police had said Farid, whose unit is now posted in Darjeeling, had access to sensitive information when he was posted at Jammu and he was allegedly supplying the documents to ISI operatives through Kafaitullah.

The police also said that the other two accused were also in touch with Kafaitullah and they were supplying documents through e-mail.

Kafaitullah was arrested in connection with the case at New Delhi Railway Station while he was on his way from Jammu to Bhopal on November 26, 2015. Rasheed was arrested from Jammu on the basis of Kafaitullah’s interrogation.

The police had earlier told the court that charges under Official Secrets Act have been slapped against all of them.

PTI

Delhi High Court rules in favour of one parking per flat

In space-starved capital, on Wednesday, the Delhi High Court has ruled a landmark judgment that will affect car owners living here. The two-judge bench ruled that a flat owner in a society is entitled to only one car parking.He may not be allowed to park any additional cars he may own within the society premises. Parking is also now permitted only in spaces earmarked for this specific purpose and not in any open space or common areas. This judgment will affect 9,566 societies registered in Delhi.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In their observation that has far-reaching implications, Justices Gita Mittal and I S Mehta clarified their position stating that “mindless assertion of non-existent entitlements to accommodate such acquisitions (cars) despite the same being contrary to law, it adversely impacting constitutional rights of others, and resulting in environmental degradation.”This judgment was made in the case Anup Mittal (HUF) v/s Kanungo Co-Operative Group Housing Society Ltd and others wherein the petitioner (Mittal) challenged the right of the society to charge parking fees for his cars parked within the society premises. Dismissing the petition, the High Court also ruled that the societies may be permitted to charge parking fees for additional cars without encroaching upon open spaces and common areas as earmarked in the Master plan of the buildings.To prove their point, the judges quoted Mahatma Gandhi “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.” Advocate Naushad Khan, Additional Standing Counsel Government of NCT of Delhi, stated, “Though the ruling of the Division Bench was merely for this society, it is applicable to all similarly situated co-operative housing societies in Delhi.” A copy of this judgment will soon be passed on to the Registrar of Co-operative Society (RCS) for the effective implementation of this ruling in a similar manner.Noting that apart from parking woes and the severe space crunch faced by the capital, the judges noted the effects of additional cars owned by families and its impact on the environment. The judges made note of studies that stated the percentage contribution of vehicular pollution towards air pollution and the increase in particulate pollution in the atmosphere. They made special mention of efforts undertaken by the Delhi government in the form of the recently concluded Odd-Even Scheme to combat air pollution and the Supreme Court ruling which banned the registration of diesel cars till March 31, 2016.In the 33-page judgment, the Judges noted that the parking of excess cars not only contributed towards air pollution but also reduced open spaces underneath them for rain water harvesting. Parking in common areas encroached upon the constitutional rights of those residents in the societies who had either one car per flat or none at all.Padmaja Gulani, resident in a Delhi Development Authority (DDA) flat in Alakananda has three cars in her family of three. On being told about this recent judgment she claimed, “Let us see how this translates to us and what provisions are made by the Resident Welfare Associations (RWA).” Gulani went on to observe that this new ruling would create new parking issues since most flats in the DDA societies were built with scooter garages keeping in mind the disposable income of middle-class families. Now, since most families can boast of 2-3 cars, this has created a severe space crunch in the society premises.

Republic Day 2016: Full text of President Pranab Mukherjee’s powerful address to the nation

On the eve of the 67th Republic Day, President Pranab Mukherjee, addressed the nation. Here’s the full text of his address: 1. On the eve of the sixty-seventh Republic Day of our nation, I extend warm greetings to all of you in India and abroad. I convey my special greetings to members of our Armed Forces, Para-military Forces and Internal Security Forces. I pay my tribute to the brave soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice of their lives in defending India’s territorial integrity and in upholding the rule of law.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. On twenty-sixth January 1950, our Republic was born. On this day, we gave ourselves the Constitution of India. This day saw the culmination of heroic struggle of an extraordinary generation of leaders who overcame colonialism to establish the world’s largest democracy. They pulled together India’s amazing diversity to build national unity, which has brought us so far. The enduring democratic institutions they established have given us the gift of continuity on the path of progress. India today is a rising power, a country fast emerging as a global leader in science, technology, innovation and start-ups, and whose economic success is the envy of the world.3. The year 2015 has been a year of challenges. During this year, the global economy remained subdued. Unpredictability ruled the commodity markets. Uncertainty marked the institutional responses. In such troubled environment, no one nation could be an oasis of growth. India’s economy also had to face the blowback. Weak investor sentiments led to withdrawal of funds from emerging markets including India putting pressure on the Indian rupee. Our exports suffered. Our manufacturing sector is yet to recover fully.4. In 2015, we were also denied the bounty of nature. While large parts of India were affected by severe drought, other areas reeled under devastating floods. Unusual weather conditions impacted our agricultural production. Rural employment and income levels suffered.5. We can call out these challenges because we are aware of them. There is a great virtue in acknowledging a problem and resolving to address it. India is building and implementing strategies to solve these problems. This year, with an estimated growth rate of 7.3 per cent, India is poised to become the fastest growing large economy. Contraction in global oil prices has helped maintain external sector stability and control domestic prices. Despite occasional setbacks, industrial performance this year has been strong.6. Aadhaar, with its present reach of 96 crore people, is helping in direct transfer of benefits, plugging leakages and improving transparency. Over 19 crore bank accounts opened under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana is the single largest exercise in the world at financial inclusion. The Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana aims to create model villages. The Digital India programme is an effort to bridge the digital divide. The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana targets farmer’s welfare. Increased spending on programmes like MGNREGA is aimed at enhancing employment generation to rejuvenate the rural economy.7. The Make-in-India campaign will boost manufacturing by facilitating easy conduct of business and improving competitiveness of domestic industry. The Start-up India programme will foster innovation and encourage new-age entrepreneurship. The National Skill Development Mission envisages skilling 300 million youth by 2022.8. There will be, amongst us, occasional doubters and baiters. Let us continue to complain; to demand; to rebel. This too is a virtue of democracy. But let us also applaud what our democracy has achieved. With investments in infrastructure, manufacturing, health, education, science and technology, we are positioning ourselves well for achieving a higher growth rate which will in the next ten to fifteen years help us eliminate poverty.9. Reverence for the past is one of the essential ingredients of nationalism. Our finest inheritance, the institutions of democracy, ensure to all citizens justice, equality, and gender and economic equity. When grim instances of violence hit at these established values which are at the core of our nationhood, it is time to take note. We must guard ourselves against the forces of violence, intolerance and unreason.10. For revitalizing the forces of growth, we need reforms and progressive legislation. It is the bounden duty of the law makers to ensure that such legislation is enacted after due discussion and debate. A spirit of accommodation, cooperation and consensus-building should be the preferred mode of decision-making. Delays in decision-making and implementation can only harm the process of development.11. Peace is the primary objective of a rational consciousness as well as our moral universe. It is the foundation of civilization and a necessity for economic progress. And yet, we have never been able to answer a simple question: why does peace remain so elusive? Why has peace been so much more difficult to attain than degenerate conflict?12. As the twentieth century closed down with a remarkable revolution in science and technology, we had some reason for optimism that the twenty-first century would mark an era in which the energies of people and nations would be committed to a rising prosperity that would eliminate, for the first time, the curse of extreme poverty. That optimism has faded in the first fifteen years of this century. There is unprecedented turbulence across vast regions, with alarming increase in regional instabilities. The scourge of terrorism has reshaped war into its most barbaric manifestation. No corner can now consider itself safe from this savage monster.13. Terrorism is inspired by insane objectives, motivated by bottomless depths of hatred, instigated by puppeteers who have invested heavily in havoc through the mass murder of innocents. This is war beyond any doctrine, a cancer which must be operated out with a firm scalpel. There is no good or bad terrorism; it is pure evil.14. Nations will never agree on everything; but the challenge today is existential. Terrorists seek to undermine order by rejecting the very basis of strategic stability, which are recognized borders. If outlaws are able to unravel borders, then we are heading towards an age of chaos. There will be disputes among nations; and, as is well-known, the closer we are to a neighbour the higher the propensity for disputes. There is a civilized way to bridge disagreement; dialogue, ideally, should be a continual engagement. But we cannot discuss peace under a shower of bullets.15. We on our subcontinent have a historic opportunity to become a beacon to the world at a time of great danger. We must attempt to resolve the complex edges of our emotional and geo-political inheritance with our neighbours through a peaceful dialogue, and invest in mutual prosperity by recognizing that human beings are best defined by a humane spirit, and not their worst instincts. Our example can be its own message to a world in anxious need of amity.16. Each of us has the right to lead a healthy, happy and productive life in India. This right has been breached, especially in our cities, where pollution has reached alarming levels. Climate change has acquired real meaning with 2015 turning out to be the warmest year on record. Multiple strategies and action at various levels is necessary. Innovative solutions of urban planning, use of clean energy, and changing the mindsets of the people call for active participation of all stakeholders. Permanence of such changes can be ensured only if people own these changes.17. Love for one’s motherland is the basis of all progress. Education, with its enlightening effect, leads to human progress and prosperity. It helps us develop forces of spirit which can revive lost hopes and ignored values. Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan had said and I quote: “End-product of education should be a free creative man who can battle against historical circumstances and adversities of nature” (unquote). The advent of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” demands that this free and creative man should also be able to master the velocity of change to absorb disruptions which are getting embedded in the systems and societies. An eco-system that fosters critical thinking and makes teaching intellectually stimulating is necessary. It must inspire scholarship and encourage unfettered respect for knowledge and teachers. It must instill a spirit of reverence towards women that will guide social conduct of an individual throughout his life. It must breed a culture of deep thought and create an environment of contemplation and inner peace. Through an open-minded approach to the wider spectrum of ideas emanating from within, our academic institutions must become world-class. A beginning has already been made with two Indian institutes of higher education finding place in the top two hundred in international rankings.18. The generational change has happened. Youth have moved centre-stage to take charge. March ahead with Tagore’s words from Nutan Yuger Bhore:”CHOLAAY CHOLAAY BAAJBEY JOYER BHEREE -PAAYER BEGEYI POTH KETEY JAAY, KORISH NEY AAR DERI”Move ahead, the roll of drums announce your triumphal march;With feet of glory, you shall cut out your own path;Delay not, delay not, a new age dawns.Thank you.Jai Hind!

Full text: Pranab Mukherjee addresses nation ahead of 67th Republic Day

President Pranab Mukherjee addressed the nation on Monday evening ahead of the 67th Republic Day of India. Like every year, he spoke about the different burning issues including terrorism, intolerance, rise of poullution, the economy and India’s ties with Pakistan.

He ended his speech with a quote from Rabindranath Tagore, urging the youth of the country to march ahead and take centrestage.

Here is the full text of the speech:

My Fellow Citizens:

1.On the eve of the sixty-seventh Republic Day of our nation, I extend warm greetings to all of you in India and abroad. I convey my special greetings to members of our Armed Forces, Para-military Forces and Internal Security Forces. I pay my tribute to the brave soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice of their lives in defending India’s territorial integrity and in upholding the rule of law.

Fellow Citizens:

President Pranab Mukherjee delivers his speech ahead of the 67th Republic Day.President Pranab Mukherjee delivers his speech ahead of the 67th Republic Day.

President Pranab Mukherjee delivers his speech ahead of the 67th Republic Day.

2.On twenty-sixth January 1950, our Republic was born. On this day, we gave ourselves the Constitution of India. This day saw the culmination of heroic struggle of an extraordinary generation of leaders who overcame colonialism to establish the world’s largest democracy. They pulled together India’s amazing diversity to build national unity, which has brought us so far. The enduring democratic institutions they establishedhave given us the gift of continuity on the path of progress. India today is a rising power, a country fast emerging as a global leader in science, technology, innovation and start-ups, and whose economic success is the envy of the world.

Fellow Citizens:

3.The year 2015 has been a year of challenges. During this year, the global economy remained subdued. Unpredictability ruled the commodity markets. Uncertainty marked the institutional responses. In such troubled environment, no one nation could be an oasis of growth. India’s economy also had to face the blowback. Weak investor sentiments led to withdrawal of funds from emerging markets including India putting pressure on the Indian rupee. Our exports suffered. Our manufacturing sector is yet to recover fully.

4.In 2015, we were also denied the bounty of nature. While large parts of India were affected by severe drought, other areas reeled under devastating floods. Unusual weather conditions impacted our agricultural production. Rural employment and income levels suffered.

Fellow Citizens:

5.We can call out these challenges because we are aware of them. There is a great virtue in acknowledging a problem and resolving to address it. India is building and implementing strategies to solve these problems. This year, with an estimated growth rate of 7.3 percent, India is poised to become the fastest growing large economy. Contraction in global oil prices has helped maintain external sector stability and control domestic prices. Despite occasional setbacks, industrial performance this year has been strong.

6.Aadhaar, with its present reach of 96 crore people, is helping in direct transfer of benefits, plugging leakages and improving transparency. Over 19 crore bank accounts opened under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana is the single largest exercise in the world at financial inclusion. The Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana aims to create model villages. The Digital Indiaprogramme is an effort to bridge the digital divide. The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana targets farmer’s welfare. Increased spending on programmes like MGNREGA is aimed at enhancing employment generation to rejuvenate the rural economy.

7.The Make-in-India campaign will boost manufacturing by facilitating easy conduct of business and improving competitiveness of domestic industry. The Start-up India programme will foster innovation and encourage new-age entrepreneurship. The National Skill Development Mission envisages skilling 300 million youth by 2022.

8.There will be, amongst us, occasional doubters and baiters. Let us continue to complain; to demand; to rebel. This too is a virtue of democracy. But let us also applaud what our democracy has achieved. With investments in infrastructure, manufacturing, health, education, science and technology, we are positioning ourselves well for achieving a higher growth rate which will in the next ten to fifteen years help us eliminate poverty.

Fellow Citizens:

9.Reverence for the past is one of the essential ingredients of nationalism. Our finest inheritance, the institutions of democracy, ensure to all citizens justice, equality, and gender and economic equity. When grim instances of violence hit at these established values which are at the core of our nationhood, it is time to take note. We must guard ourselves against the forces of violence, intolerance and unreason.

Fellow Citizens:

10. For revitalizing the forces of growth, we need reforms and progressive legislation. It is the bounden duty of the law makers to ensure that such legislation is enacted after due discussion and debate. A spirit of accommodation, cooperation and consensus-building should be the preferred mode of decision-making. Delays in decision-making and implementation can only harm the process of development.

Fellow Citizens:

11. Peace is the primary objective of a rational consciousness as well as our moral universe. It is the foundation of civilization and a necessity for economic progress. And yet, we have never been able to answer a simple question: why does peace remain so elusive? Why has peace been so much more difficult to attain than degenerate conflict?

12. As the twentieth century closed down with a remarkable revolution in science and technology, we had some reason for optimism that the twenty-first century would mark an era in which the energies of people and nations would be committed to a rising prosperity that would eliminate, for the first time, the curse of extreme poverty. That optimism has faded in the first fifteen years of this century. There is unprecedented turbulence across vast regions, with alarming increase in regional instabilities. The scourge of terrorism has reshaped war into its most barbaric manifestation. No corner can now consider itself safe from this savage monster.

13. Terrorism is inspired by insane objectives, motivated by bottomless depths of hatred, instigated by puppeteers who have invested heavily in havoc through the mass murder of innocents. This is war beyond any doctrine, a cancer which must be operated out with a firm scalpel. There is no good or bad terrorism; it is pure evil.

Fellow Citizens:

14. Nations will never agree on everything; but the challenge today is existential. Terrorists seek to undermine order by rejecting the very basis of strategic stability, which are recognized borders. If outlaws are able to unravel borders, then we are heading towards an age of chaos. There will be disputes among nations; and, as is well-known, the closer we are to a neighbour the higher the propensity for disputes. There is a civilized way to bridge disagreement; dialogue, ideally, should be a continual engagement. But we cannot discuss peace under a shower of bullets.

15. We on our subcontinent have a historic opportunity to become a beacon to the world at a time of great danger. We must attempt to resolve the complex edges of our emotional and geo-political inheritance with our neighbours through a peaceful dialogue, and invest in mutual prosperity by recognizing that human beings are best defined by a humane spirit, and not their worst instincts. Our example can be its own message to a world in anxious need of amity.
Fellow Citizens:

16. Each of us has the right to lead a healthy, happy and productive life in India. This right has been breached, especially in our cities, where pollution has reached alarming levels. Climate change has acquired real meaning with 2015 turning out to be the warmest year on record. Multiple strategies and action at various levels is necessary. Innovative solutions of urban planning, use of clean energy, and changing the mindsets of the people call for active participation of all stakeholders. Permanence of such changes can be ensured only if people own these changes.

Fellow Citizens:

17. Love for one’s motherland is the basis of all progress. Education, with its enlightening effect, leads to human progress and prosperity. It helps us develop forces of spirit which can revive lost hopes and ignored values. Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan had said and I quote: “End-product of education should be a free creative man who can battle against historical circumstances and adversities of nature” (unquote). The advent of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” demands that this free and creative man should also be able to master the velocity of change to absorb disruptions which are getting embedded in the systems and societies. An eco-system that fosters critical thinking and makes teaching intellectually stimulating is necessary.

It must inspire scholarship and encourage unfettered respect for knowledge and teachers. It must instill a spirit of reverence towards women that will guide social conduct of an individual throughout his life. It must breed a culture of deep thought and create an environment of contemplation and inner peace. Through an open-minded approach to the wider spectrum of ideas emanating from within, our academic institutions must become world-class. A beginning has already been made with two Indian institutes of higher education finding place in the top two hundred in international rankings.

Fellow Citizens:

18. The generational change has happened. Youth have moved centre-stage to take charge. March ahead with Tagore’s words from Nutan Yuger Bhore:

“CHOLAAY CHOLAAY BAAJBEY JOYER BHEREE –
PAAYER BEGEYI POTH KETEY JAAY, KORISH NEY AAR DERI”

Move ahead, the roll of drums announce your triumphal march;
With feet of glory, you shall cut out your own path;
Delay not, delay not, a new age dawns.
Thank you.
Jai Hind!

RSS education wing wants schools in metros to run for 12 hours, says co-education not possible

The RSS education wing has suggested that schools in metros run for 12 hours from 7:30 am to 7:30 pm, says a report in the Indian Express.The proposal, prepared by Vidya Bharati, the education wing of the RSS, has also suggested that students should learn Sanskrit from middle school level so that they do not require “the assistance of foreign words”.The RSS’ response came after the Modi government invited suggestions for the new education policy. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The RSS wing has proposed that a linguisitic university be opened for students who want to master languages and linguistic skills. “It’s easy for children to learn languages in childhood. That’s why they should be taught various languages — their mother tongue, Sanskrit, Hindi, English and regional languages.”Such language training would not be possible within six hours of a school day, feels the Vidya Bharati. Therefore, they propose increasing the school timings to 12 hours.The wing feels that in this scenario, there would be no need of homework or tuition classes, and parents’ burden would be reduced. The proposal clarifies that music, dance and sports would be included in the 12-hour school day.However, there is a more startling aspect of the proposal – Vidya Bharati feels that in a 12-hour school day, there would be no scope for co-education. “At a time when the co-ed schools face numerous issues, 12-hour classes cannot have both girls and boys together,” the proposal said.The proposal says that entrance examinations should be made compulsory for all teacher training courses and a minimum eligibly criterion of 50% marks must be set. Furthermore, biometric attendance system and CCTV cameras should be installed in classrooms to ensure attendance of teachers.

10 major electoral and organisational challenges before Amit Shah

Amit Shah often said he was an organisation man, who was more comfortable working behind the scenes. But, his job at the helm of affairs in the party has brought him into the spotlight, where he is likely to be at least for the next three years.As he begins his first full-fledged term as BJP president, the road ahead is dotted with challenges– organisational and electoral. A look at ten major tasks before Shah.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Consolidating party: It was during Shah’s tenure that the BJP claimed to have become the largest party in the world, crossing 11 crore membership, through a missed call or SMS. The more onerous task before him is retaining the allegiance of its new members by engaging with them and further expanding the party base.Credible faces in party: At a time when the BJP is in power at the Centre, Shah is entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring credible faces in his team of office bearers. With the government drawing stalwarts from the party, Shah will have to scour the state units to choose a team that can enhance the organisational weight. Union minister and BJP leader Dharmendra Pradhan said it was an “ongoing process” to bring in those working for the organisation into the party president’s team.Facing a united Opposition: Bihar has given a taste of it, exposing the BJP’s achilles heel. According to social scientist Shiv Vishwanathan this is the biggest challenge before Shah and it was for him to plug the “loopholes” that made the party “vulnerable”.Assembly elections of 2016: Shah’s first public meeting after his re-election as party chief would be in Howrah in poll-bound West Bengal on Monday. Of the four states–West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Assam– the BJP is pinning hopes of winning in Assam. In the other states too, the party is trying to make ‘significant’ inroads. Party leader Siddharth Nath Singh said elections were the test of a party’s organisational skills.UP election in 2017: Seen as the biggest challenge facing Shah, the UP election would not only be a test for the BJP but also the Modi government. It was the BJP’s sweep in UP during the 2014 Lok Sabha election, that brought Shah, who was state in-charge, into the limelight as a “master strategist”.2019 Lok Sabha poll: With Shah in command for the next three years, he would have the responsibility of preparing the party for the next general election. According to party sources, in all likelihood, he would continue as party president in 2019 as the party would not like a change in leadership just ahead of elections.Govt-party interface: When the Union cabinet approved the new crop insurance scheme, Shah told the media about how it would benefit farmers. Shah would have to act as interface between the government and party, taking ‘pro-poor’ policies and schemes to people and taking public feedback to the government, a minister said.Party leadership in states: Shah would have to ensure not only that an effective leadership emerges in states but also that BJP-ruled states can be projected as governance models in run-up to any assembly election.BJP elders: After the Bihar debacle, Shah’s leadership was questioned by party veterans– LK Advani, MM Joshi, Yashwant Sinha and Shanta Kumar. Though the leaders refrained from naming anyone in the stinging statement that questioned the party’s style of functioning, they were apparently opposed to Shah getting a second term.Coordination with RSS: Shah had the blessings of the RSS, a factor that gave it a legitimacy which party veterans, particularly Advani and Joshi, would be reluctant to defy. Shah would have to ensure that the party maintains a coordination mechanism with the RSS, the BJP’s ideological mentor, and its affiliates. According to writer Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, Shah’s re-election was a sign of Modi’s dominance. Shah will now have to retain the faith of the Sangh and Modi of being what he was known for– an astute political strategist.

Amit Shah confirmed as BJP president, but he has his task cut out

Amit Shah on Sunday got a second consecutive term as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president, in a development which was widely expected.

At exactly 1.15pm, the returning officer for the BJP’s presidential election Avinash Rai Khanna declared that the ‘constitutional process’ for the election was over and Shah has been “unanimously” declared elected to lead the party for the next three years.

An election certificate was duly handed over to Shah with all the attached fanfare.

Amit Shah/ ReutersAmit Shah/ Reuters

Amit Shah/ Reuters

But it did not escape anyone’s attention that seniors LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi — part of the BJP’s ‘Margdarshak Mandal’ — were missing from the ceremony. Advani’s absence, a departure from a practice that was in vogue since the Jan Sangh days, more particularly since the time the BJP was formed in 1980, raised eyebrows.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Shah’s mentor, also didn’t make it to the venue.

On the podium inside the lawns of the BJP headquarters at 11 Ashoka Road in New Delhi, high-ranking cabinet ministers, chief ministers of BJP-ruled states and other senior leaders were busy celebrating. It wasn’t as if there was any doubt over the outcome but for the BJP, finding occasions these days to celebrate are few and far between.

Also, “re-election” means there would be restructuring in the party with a new set of office-bearers and possibly also a cabinet reshuffle.

That Advani wasn’t there to ‘bless’ the party president was a confirmation, if any was needed, of his total eclipse from the saffron horizon. A logical yet bitter step, perhaps, for a party stalwart who has long been marginalised under the new dispensation.

Modi’s absence, though, does not lend itself to any such interpretations. The world knows that Shah is his protege and he owes his presidency to him. Also, the Prime Minister was away in Chandigarh to receive his chief guest for the Republic Day Parade, French President François Hollande.

Shah’s second coming (technically he was serving the remainder of Rajnath Singh‘s term and now begins a three-year regular stint) will, however, be far more challenging.

He had begun on a high note, riding the personal and organisational buoyancy of post 2014 parliamentary elections. Shah’s phenomenal year in 2014, when BJP won all the elections that they contested, was followed by a more sobering 2015 when despite being the single largest party on earth in terms of enrolled members, the BJP received a drubbing in Delhi and Bihar.

These losses took away Shah’s aura of invincibility and also some sheen as a “master strategist”. Perception, in politics, is everything. The BJP president has to regain that aura and build a team around himself which is seen to be functional, effective and carries some weight.

For better or for worse, Shah’s task is cut out. He simply has to deliver in Assam, West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu in the next few months.

What should take some pressure off him is that unlike in Delhi and Bihar, BJP is not the punters’ favourite in these elections. In many of these states, BJP’s presence is marginal and it stands to gain even if it is moderately successful. However, the stakes are never too low for BJP which seeks to expand its base and win a good number of seats to be counted as the new pan-national force replacing the Congress.

In Assam and West Bengal, the BJP has already escalated the pitch.

Shah has quite a few things going for him. He is the youngest BJP president; a man with untiring capacity to slog for long hours and live out of a suitcase. He keeps revising the target and attempts for larger numbers. The party workers are in awe of his calibre but seniors rue his inaccessibility.

The 51-year-old Shah is quite used to the ebb and tide of politics.

From being an MLA and minister of state in Gujarat to being hunted by central law enforcing agencies, including the CBI, Shah has seen it all. He has spent jail time, was debarred by the court from entering his home state only to be later exonerated. He became BJP general secretary and accepted the challenge of reviving party’s fortunes in Uttar Pradesh. BJP eventually won 72 out of 80 parliamentary seats and Modi declared him the Man of the Match. After being appointed as president, Shah continued to deliver, leading BJP to wins in a series of Assembly elections.

His ‘midas touch’, though, deserted him when BJP slumped two consecutive big defeats. Questions suddenly began to be raised whether he was really a wizard or if it was all just hype.

As he begins his second term, Shah possesses deep knowledge of the party, its power structures, the men and women at his disposal. He also perhaps now has a better understanding of his own strengths and weaknesses. As and when he constitutes his team, it will be closely scrutinised.

BJP swept UP in 2014 but three years is a long time in politics. Things have changed. Shah, though, knows UP like the back of his hand and party leaders believe his experience of handling the elections in India’s largest state would come handy when he eventually launches the campaign.

Towards the later part of 2017, Gujarat will be going to the polls and Shah needs to be at the top of his game. Many party leaders believe his presence in Gujarat is crucial. Chief Minister Anandiben Patel will turn 75 in November 2016. Going by the precedents set by the party and the RSS, she will have to relinquish her post soon after.

This brings the question will Shah last the full term of his presidency ( 2019) or leave it before or after UP elections to take up yet another challenge in his home state? After all, for Modi and Shah, Gujarat is where it all began.

Army dogs to walk down Rajpath this Republic Day after 26 years

Indian army dogs, who have saved the lives of numerous soldiers in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations, will march down the Rajpath for Republic Day Parade on January 26 after a gap of 26 years.The Army, which has about 1,200 Labradors and German Shepherds, have selected 36 canines to march down the Rajpath with their handlers. Sources said the marching of the canine squad at the Republic Day Parade on Rajpath will be after a gap of 26 years.Mansi, a four-year-old Labrador, and her Kashmiri master Bashir Ahmed War from the Territorial Army (TA) had made the country proud when they made the supreme sacrifice while gallantly fighting a group of heavily-armed infiltrators in the high altitude area along the Line of Control (LoC) in Tangdhar sector in August last year.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A war dog training school was raised on March 1, 1960 at Meerut. Basic and advance training to dogs and their trainers on specialised jobs like explosive detection, mine detection, tracking, guarding and assaulting is imparted at the Remount and Veterinary Corps (RVC) Centre and College.The army dogs and their trainers of this Corps have won one Shourya Chakra, six Sena Medals, 142 COAS Commendation Cards, six VCOAS Commendation Cards and 448 GOC-in-C Commendation Cards. The motto of the Corps is ‘Pashu Seva Ashmakam Dharm’.The Army had come under severe criticism from the common people and dog lovers across the world after it was revealed in an RTI reply last year that dogs, horses and mules are put to sleep after their retirement.Following a PIL, the government had in September informed the Delhi High Court that it would come out with a policy on the issue within six months. Though a final policy is yet to be adopted, the Army has stopped further killing of ageing animals, except for those suffering incurable, terminal diseases and injuries.The development came at a time when many countries, including the US and France, have special rehabilitation schemes for military dogs. The gallantry medal was awarded to a police dog killed after the Paris attacks last year.The Indian army dogs are trained in sniffing bombs, hunting down enemies, locating secret places and fetching evidence. The Army generally uses Labradors, German Shepherds and Belgian Shepherds, depending on the altitude and weather, besides the nature of assignment which may include routine patrol to explosives detection.

Mumbai: Largest slum in Asia- Dharavi gets ready for a makeover

HISTORY
In the 18th century, Dharavi was an island with mangrove swamp. Daravi is the historical spelling of the area. A century later Koli fishermen started living here and then it was known as the village of Koliwadas. As urbanisation became a norm under the British Raj the city’s population then reached around a million. The urban area then covered mostly the southern extension of Mumbai peninsula. Most parts of Mumbai faced acute shortage of housing and serious problems with the provision of water, sanitation and drainage. Residential areas were segregated in Mumbai between European and ‘native’ residential quarters. Unsanitary conditions plagued Mumbai, particularly in the so-called Native Town. In 1869, as with 19th century epidemics in European slums, plague spread in Mumbai and then across most of India. The epidemic killed nearly 2,00,000 people in Mumbai and 8 million in India. In 1880s, concerned about epidemics, the British colonial government expelled polluting industries and many Indian residents of the Native Town, away from the peninsular part of the city, to a distant edge of the city in the north in the village of Koliwadas. Thus was born Dharavi.DHARAVI & MOVIES
Slumdog Millionaire, Kaminey, Businessman, Dharavi, Aamir, Traffic Signal, No Smoking, Bhoothnath Returns, Nayagan, Bombay, Footpath, Salaam Bombay, among others.DHARAVI & INDUSTIRES
Pottery, snacks, leather goods, rubber and plastic recycling units, scrap, electronic waste, handicraft, garments, embroidery, papads, foundries, restaurants, sweet-making, soap and detergent factories, bakeries, kite making, export oriented units, printing press, suitcase, umbrella manufacturing, etc.COMPLEX STRUCTURES
Each structure or shanty in Dharavi has more than one family residing. Ground floor is occupied by the legal owner, but the floors above have been rented out. These families staying above aren’t eligible under the project. Additionally, another complication is many ground floor structures have been divided into two (by putting partition) due to division in the family.STATISTICS
FLOOR SPACE INDEX: 4
PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION DURATION: 7 Years
AREAS ELIGIBLE (RESIDENTIAL): 300sqft + 50sqft (From Fungible FSI)
AREAS ELIGIBLE (COMMERCIAL/INDUSTRIAL): 225sqft
TOTAL SECTORS: 5 (Sector 5 being developed by MHADA. One building ready)
ESTIMATED COST: Rs5,000-7,000 crore per sector by the developer
STRUCTURES: 59,165 (As per 2008 study); 1,20,000 (Estimated figure By Dharavi representatives)
AREA: 550 acres
POPULATION: 12,00,000 estimated
TEMPLES: 200-250
MOSQUES: 33
CHURCHES: 10-12
GRAVEYARD: 1
CEMETERY: 1SECTOR-WISE STRUCTURE BREAK-UP (AS DONE IN 2008)
11,453: Sector-I
14,427: Sector-II
12,653: Sector-III
11,245: Sector-IV
09,387: Sector-V
59,165: TotalRESIDENTIAL V/S COMMERCIAL BREAK-UP
45,859: Residential
330: Residential-Cum-Commercial
12,976: Commercial and Industrial
59,165: TotalAMENITIES & FACILITIES (TO BE BUILT BY DEVELOPERS)
TOTAL AREA (ALL 5 SECTORS) & BUILDABLE AMENITY (In sqmt)
56,668.58: Primary School
56,668.58: Secondary School
39,200.00: Dispensary, Maternity Homes & Polyclinics
1,000.00: Welfare Centres, Gymnasium & Community Hall
1,000.00: Library
3,990.00: Fire Station
1,330.00: Post Office
3,990.00: Police Station
15,694.00: Retail Market
700.00: Police Chowky
2,230.00: Potters InstituteAMENITIES & FACILITIES (NOT TO BE BUILT BY DEVELOPERS)
TOTAL AREA (ALL 5 SECTORS) & NON-BUILDABLE AMENITY (In Hectares)
0.06: BEST Bus Station
1.30: BEST Receiving Station
0.37: Pumping Station
0.30: NID & Industrial Training Institute
1.84: Parking Lot
6.32: Recreational Open Public Spaces
4.81: Recreation Ground
2.50: Play Ground
3.20: Mahim Rajiv Gandhi Nagar
0.22: Potters Institute
0.40: Tata PowerPROJECT TIMELINE
2004: Dharavi Redevelopment Project Announced
2007: Expression of Interest called and received response from 19 developers
2008: Survey of Dharavi completed
2009: Master plan of Dharavi Redevelopment Project completed
2010: Out of 19, only six developers continued to show interest in the project
2011: Bidding process terminated and master plan scrapped
2013: Draft of new master plan at par with Development Plan prepared
2014: The revised plan submitted to the state government
2014: Slum regularisation cut-off date extended to 01/01/2000
2016: In-principle approval received from state government to go ahead with developing 4 sectorsTIMELINE: INCREASE IN TENEMENT AREA
2004: 225 sqft
2012: 275 sqft
2014: 300sqft
2016: 350sqft

Ateeq Shaikh

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Bengaluru cops to now give pre-marital counselling

They also stated that many people call them citing parental pressure on them to get married. In such cases, they also counsel the parents.

dna Web Team

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FTII row: I&B ministry comes up with two compromise formulas, cuts no ice with students

An official statement released said that B P Singh was elected as the Vice President of the FTII Society while Hirani, Singh, Saikia, Shah, Pathak and Somaiyya were nominated to the Governing Council.

Amrita Nayak Dutta

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Asia’s biggest slum Dharavi to soon be a thing of the past

It’s light at the end of the tunnel for Dharavi Redevelopment Project. The state government on Wednesday decided to float global tenders for the redevelopment of the four major sectors in Dharavi after chief minister Devendra Fadnavis gave directions for speeding up the project.This redevelopment of Asia’s biggest slum, pegged at Rs10,000 crore, will give the 59,000-odd slum-dwellers a total area of 350 sq.ft. Of this, 50 sq.ft will be part of fungible floor space index.The redevelopment of the fifth sector in Dharavi is already being undertaken by Maharashtra housing and area development authority (MHADA). The state government, however, decided to go for private players through global bidding by floating tenders for the remaining four sectors.While instructing to expedite the redevelopment, Fadnavis directed the officials to keep in mind guidelines issued by the Union government and also keep in mind large number of entrepreneurs and small industries in the Dharavi area, who would have to be provided with alternative arrangements.Minister of state for housing development Ravindra Waikar, chief secretary Swadheen Kshatriya, principal secretary (finance) Sitaram Kunte, BMC commissioner Ajoy Mehta, principal secretary (housing development) Srikant Sinh, principal secretary (urban development) Nitin Karir, and CEO for Dharavi redevelopment project Nirmal Kumar Deshmukh were present for the meeting.Deshmukh informed, “The global tender would be floated and state government expects total worth of each sector for redevelopment to be in the range of around Rs5,000 to Rs7,000. Therefore, the rough estimate will be around Rs24,000 crore.”The project is scheduled to be completed within a time frame of seven years and experienced bidders will be preferred for redevelopment under the Slum Rehabilitation Authority scheme. Waikar added, “While floating the global tenders, the consortium would also be allowed so that speedy redevelopment takes place. There would be separate four tenders for redevelopment of each of the four sectors.”In the past, the redevelopment of the slum colonies had witnessed several flip-flops on part of the state government. In July 2009, a global bid was floated but was scrapped at the last minute. Later, in April 2010, the earlier master plan was scrapped. The earlier value of the entire project was Rs10,000 crore.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

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