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FTII to deploy two armed guards on `special occasions’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Film & Television Institute of India has roped in a state-run security agency to replace a private security agency for guarding its sprawling campus here. In a fleet of 42 security men, two would carry arms on special occasions, it said. “There were instructions from the police department to upgrade the security and carry out a security audit for the last many years. After a letter bomb was received by my office in April this year, we thought of upgrading the security, and to safeguard the students and the staff, we decided to rope in Maharashtra State Security Corporation, a state government undertaking,” said Bhupendra Kainthola, director of FTII.There would be two armed security guards in the team. “Though the two security guards are equipped with .303 rifles, instructions have been given that they will be deployed only on specific occasions such as Republic Day, Independence Day or if there are security alerts in the city,” he said.FTII being a national institute, it was the responsibility of management to safeguard the students and staff, he said.However, a member of students association took exception to provision of armed guards. “Security guards with arms and camouflage attire on education campus is an intimidating image. It seems the government is trying to convert the education institutes into jail or army camp,” he said.FTII had witnessed a 139-day-long strike by the students last year against the appointment of TV actor Gajendra Chauhan as its chairman. Police had booked some of the students for `illegal confinement’ of the then director Prashant Pathrabe.

Despite demonetisation, Karnataka’s corruption nexus in irrigation sector thrives

A few years ago, a senior IAS officer of a government in South India spent time behind bars after he was arrested in a corruption case. Out on bail and having managed a plum posting, the grapevine in the corridors of power suggests that he is back to his greedy ways. A 15 percent given under the table is standard operating procedure to get him to greenlight a proposal. While he keeps 10 percent of the commission, he distributes five percent among the other stakeholders of the ecosystem.

As Satish Shah, who played the corrupt municipal commissioner D’ Mello in the iconic 1983 cult classic Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro says in the film, “Kuch khao, kuch pheko (Eat some and throw some for others to eat)”.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

It is this knowledge of how the ladder works that perhaps gives SC Jayachandra, chief project officer with the Karnataka State Highways Improvement project, the confidence that the tax raid on his house is just a temporary blip. Income tax officials found Rs 152 crore of unaccounted-for income when they raided over a dozen locations in Bengaluru, Chennai and Erode. Of this, Rs 5.7 crore was cash in new Rs 2,000 notes. At a time when the aam aadmi in Bengaluru was standing in queues for hours to withdraw Rs 2,000 from an ATM, the sight of the bundles of currency on his bed was visual proof of Jayachandra’s clout.

In a bid to do damage control, Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah has suspended Jayachandra and Chikkarayappa, managing director of Cauvery Neeravari Nigama (irrigation corporation). The two were partners in crime and had co-opted two business houses, a bank manager and PWD and irrigation contractors to convert their black money into white after 8 November. The tip of the iceberg in his statement after the raid was that all the money was not his, and had to be paid to ministers, presumably in Karnataka.

Why there could be truth in what Jayachandra says is because he is a repeat offender and could not have thrived without the blessings of people higher up in the corruption chain. The Lokayukta Police under Justice Santosh Hegde, had raided Jayachandra in 2008 when he was chief engineer with the Hemavati Irrigation project. Illegal wealth worth Rs 84.53 lakh was unearthed back then. But successive Karnataka governments did not allow Jayachandra to be prosecuted.

“Both governments — the BJP from 2008 to 2013 and Congress after that — are guilty of not allowing the law of the land to proceed against Jayachandra because he is of their liking,” says Santosh Hegde, former Lokayukta of Karnataka, “There is no denying that there is a nexus between politicians, bureaucrats, industrialists and contractors.”

Despite building a watertight case against Jayachandra, the stamp of approval from the Karnataka government is still pending — an indication of Jayachandra’s touch-me-not stature. Which is why Siddaramaiah’s attempt to distance himself by suspending the duo is just a feeble attempt to prevent Congress from collateral damage. Whether Jayachandra is prosecuted will be a test case because if he sings like a canary during interrogation, a lot of big fish could find themselves gasping for breath.

An interesting aspect of this raid was that Jayachandra bragged that the sleuths would have found Rs 40 crore in cash if they had come a month earlier. “This sort of big talk and tall claims are quite common because such people who are used to flouting the law take pride in how they manage the system,” says Hegde.

But Karnataka is not the exception. In almost every state in India, irrigation is a big ticket portfolio in which it is easy to inflate costs of projects and allow party workers to make money while allowing the big fish to park money through benaami transactions.

Take for instance, the example of yet another Indian state. Here, on almost every project, every person in the food chain has a voracious appetite for kickbacks. The industrialist deals with the person at the top and once the project is cleared, the work is sub-contracted and then further sub-sub-contracted. This ensures even the sarpanch of a panchayat in whose village the project is grounded, gets his share of the booty.

Bureaucrats get a fixed payment for signing on the dotted line. In the manner in which the greasy system works, an honest district magistrate is someone who does not demand more than the 2.5 percent that is automatically credited into his kitty on every project in his domain, without asking. But the greedy sort look to make even upto 20 percent on each project, by asking the contractor to inflate the cost to factor the bribe.

Mining is another sector where a posting helps you hit gold if you are the kind willing to bend rules. The mining syndicates in most states again deal directly with the political leadership. But when raids take place, it is only the hapless truck driver or a lowly manager who gets caught. Officials connect the dots and realise the links go all the way up when those arrested walk out on bail within 24 hours. They admit the next time, they themselves are wary of arresting the mining mafia. Hegde referred to the Reddy brothers as the “Republic of Bellary” but today, much of India is the “Republic of Mined India”.

The raids that are showing up these seizures of currency notes are just the tip of the iceberg. And the high-profile movement to a cashless economy a mere cover-up because demonetisation does nothing to break the backbone of the way in which the corrupt system operates.

First Published On : Dec 5, 2016 09:44 IST

Kejriwal takes on Delhi BJP chief over statehood issue

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> By denying statehood to the national capital, BJP wants the people of Delhi to remain “second class” citizens, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Sunday, referring to a purported statement by Manoj Tiwari, which the latter denied having made.The Delhi BJP chief said Kejriwal, in his “hurry” to lodge his opposition, was latching on to a “false report”. The online exchange started with Kejriwal’s tweet: “This is insulting to the people of Delhi. BJP does not want to give Delhiites the rights to be full citizens, want to keep them as second class citizens in their own country.” Tiwari, who recently replaced Satish Upadhyay as BJP’s Delhi President, tagged Kejriwal in his reply, saying he would send him “the complete video tomorrow”.”At least listen to the complete statement. Why the hurry in opposing? I will send you the complete video tomorrow. You have latched on to a false report again,” Tiwari tweeted. Tiwary later said the party was in favour of statehood for Delhi but stressed that there was a need to determine its limits. “The issue of statehood for Delhi was mentioned in our election manifesto. We support statehood, but one should also keep in mind that Delhi is not just the capital of any state, but the entire nation.”Therefore, the limits of statehood, especially in light of Kejriwal’s protest in Delhi ahead of Republic Day celebrations in 2014, must be determined,” Tiwari said. Since storming to power, the Aam Aadmi Party government has repeatedly clashed with the Centre over the contentious issue of granting statehood to Delhi. The government had also a released a draft bill on statehood in May. However, there has been no progress on that front. PTI SBR

Heart of Asia: Full text of Amritsar Declaration

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Combating terrorism was at the centre-stage of Heart of Asia (HoA) conference which sent a clear message to Pakistan, holding terror and violent extremism as the biggest threat to peace, but could not firm up a regional framework proposed by Afghanistan to effectively deal with the menace.After the two-day deliberations, attended by 40 countries including major regional and global powers and blocs, the HoA, a platform to help Afghanistan in its transition, issued the Amritsar Declaration which called for dismantling of terrorist sanctuaries and safe havens in the region, as well as disrupting all financial, tactical and logistical support for terror networks.Held in the backdrop of number of cross-border terror attacks on India and elsewhere, the HoA expressed serious concern over gravity of the security situation in Afghanistan and in many parts of the region, holding that united efforts are required to contain terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Taliban, the Haqqani Network, Al Qaida, IS and its affiliates, TTP, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, Jundullah and other foreign terrorist groups.Here is the full text of the Amritsar Declaration:December 04, 20161. We, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and high-level representatives of the participating and supporting countries, joined by high level representatives of the international and regional organizations, have met in Amritsar, the Republic of India, on 4 December 2016 at our Sixth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process (HoA-IP). The Conference was co-chaired by HE Shri Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister of the Republic of India and HE Mr. Salahuddin Rabbani, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.2. We express our gratitude to HE Mr. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and H.E. Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India for inaugurating the Sixth Ministerial Conference.3. We recall the five Ministerial Conferences in Istanbul (2011), Kabul (2012), Almaty (2013), Beijing (2014), and Islamabad (2015) and we reaffirm our commitment to the principles, objectives, and outcomes enshrined in the Declarations of these Conferences that have defined the ideals for the working of the HoA-IP aimed at promoting regional peace and prosperity.4. We reaffirm the importance of the HoA-IP as an important regional platform for political dialogue and close regional cooperation aimed at promoting stability, peace and prosperity in Afghanistan and the entire Heart of Asia region, and for enhancing Afghanistan’s connectivity with the entire Heart of Asia region. We recognize the role of cultural heritage as a catalyst for social and economic development of the Heart of Asia region.5. We reaffirm our commitment to the United Nations Charter and its enshrined principles of sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, sovereign equality of nations and non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states as well as universally recognized principles and norms of international law. Further, we reaffirm our commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We reiterate the importance of increased political dialogue and consultations between countries of the Heart of Asia region for a stable, peaceful and prosperous region.6. We remain committed to resolving our differences peacefully, and refraining from threat or use of force against the political independence, territorial integrity, or sovereignty of any state. We will also work towards regional consensus on non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, which is critically important for good neighborliness between countries of the region, and for peaceful co-existence as independent and sovereign nations, and re-affirm our commitment to these principles.7. We stress the need for advancing regional cooperation as an effective means to address common challenges and to promote security, stability and socio-economic development in the Heart of Asia region. We, therefore, renew our commitment to strengthening enhanced cooperation among Member States in a sincere and effective manner.8. We reaffirm our appreciation and express strong and unequivocal support for the ongoing constructive efforts of the Government of Afghanistan towards regional engagement and its commitment to building an increasing environment of trust and confidence throughout the region.9. We appreciate the commitment of the international community for supporting the Government and people of Afghanistan and stress the crucial need for continuation of such support for achieving a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.10. We welcome the assumption of full responsibility for security by the ANDSF and for their role in fighting terrorism andviolent extremism in Afghanistan. We welcome the agreements between the International Community and the Government of Afghanistan, and relevant decisions, which allow for continued financial support to the ANDSF until 2020 and assistance to them by the Post-ISAF Mission, in support of long-term security and stability in Afghanistan. We also pay tribute to the sacrifices made by the ANDSF and international forces.11. We commend the European Union and Afghanistan for convening the October 4-5 Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, and recognize the importance of the development assistance commitments made by over 100 countries and international organizations, and of the Self-Reliance through Mutual Accountability Framework (SMAF) and its deliverables. We call on the international community to further strengthen international and regional cooperation towards sustained efforts for a secure, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.12. We appreciate the continued efforts by the OIC and Afghanistan to convene the International Ulema Conference in Mecca, Saudi Arabia with inclusive representation of the Islamic countries and hope a positive outcome would contribute to lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan.13. We recognize the significance of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) and its subsequent resolutions on the role of women in conflict prevention, peace negotiations and post-conflict processes in the Heart of Asia region.14. We remain concerned by the gravity of the security situation in Afghanistan in particular and the region and the high level of violence caused by the Taliban, terrorist groups including ISIL / DAISHand its affiliates, the Haqqani Network, Al Qaida, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, East Turkistan Islamic Movement, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, TTP, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, Jundullah and other foreign terrorist fighters. Acknowledging the support that terrorism derives in our region, we demand an immediate end to all forms of terrorism, as well as all support to it, including financing of terrorism. We recognize that terrorism is the biggest threat to peace, stability and cooperation in our region. We encourage the international community to continue to assist the Government of Afghanistan. We strongly call for concerted regional and international cooperation to ensure elimination of terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, including dismantling of terrorist sanctuaries and safe havens in the Heart of Asia region, as well as disrupting all financial, tactical and logistical support for terrorism. In this regard, we call upon all states to take action against these terroristentities in accordance with their respective national counter terrorism policies, their international obligationsand the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy 2006.Furthermore, we encourage early finalization of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism with consensus.15. We commend the government of Afghanistan in successfully pursuing peace talks with Hizb-e-Islami Gulbuddin Hekmatyar resulting in the signature of a peace agreement that sets a good precedent for future peace talks with all other armed groups.16. We commend countries in the region and beyond, particularly Iran and Pakistan, for their hospitality in hosting millions of Afghan refugees for over three decades. We call on all these countries to continue hosting the Afghan refugees until their sustainable repatriation and reintegration in Afghanistan can take place in a voluntary, safe, gradual and dignified fashion, in accordance with the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees to Support Voluntary Repatriation, Sustainable Reintegration and Assistance to Host Communities. We are concerned by the recent spike of Afghan refugee returns and the challenges that this sudden influx presents for returnee re-integration programmes. We therefore urge the international community to provide generous support and targeted assistance for Afghan refugees, returnees and host communities in the region, with emphasis on youth, education and livelihoods. We welcome the Afghanistan-Pakistan-UNHCR and Afghanistan-Iran-UNHCR Tripartite Commissions on Voluntary Repatriation of Afghan Refugees from Iran and Pakistan, as vital steps in the Solutions Strategy. We support the Final Statement of the UNHCR Executive Committee High Level Segment refocusing the international community’s attention on the Afghan refugee situation in this critical period.Addressing Challenges17. Recognizing once again that terrorism, violent extremism, radicalization, separatism, and sectarianism and linkages among them are the gravest challenges that the Heart of Asia region and the rest of the international community face, and these problems would continue to pose a severe threat to the sovereignty, territorial integrity, economic development and bilateral and regional cooperation, we renew our strong commitment to strengthening comprehensive cooperation among the Heart of Asia countries and intensify our efforts to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations through solidarity and collective action.18. We reaffirm our recognition made in Islamabad last year that violent extremism facilitates, encourages and justifies acts of terrorism and violence and we undertake to introduce measures to curb the spread of violent extremism and terrorism. We recognize the necessity of taking serious measures to address recruitment of youth to extremist and terrorist networks. We realize that the radicalization of disaffected elements of the population, especially youth, can only be prevented by effective de-radicalization and counter-radicalization strategies involving all the HoA countries.19. We, therefore, believe efforts to eliminate the menace of terrorism and violent extremism will not succeed without a concerted and coherent regional approach involving all HoA countries. This approach will have to utilize the capacities of men and women throughout the cross section of society of the region that includes political figures, religious leaders, educational institutions, opinion makers, youth, civil society, mass media and social networks. We undertake to develop such a regional approach to counter radicalization by tasking our relevant experts from the fields of security, education and local governance to meet in the first half of 2017 to identify key areas to be addressed for developing this regional approach and provide recommendations to be presented to the Senior Officials Meeting of the HoA-IP in the first half of 2017 for further action on this critical issue. We encourage HoA member countries to share their experiences and best practices in the area of counter radicalization with a view to helping evolve their national counter radicalization strategies.20. We welcome and support Afghanistan’s initiative in taking the lead in exploring a regional counter-terror strategy, in accordance with the established principles of the UN charter, which we agreed was necessary when we last met in Islamabad in December 2015. We note the progress that has been made since the last Ministerial with an Ambassadorial meeting of the CT-CBM participating countries at which a draft framework strategy was shared by Afghanistan for further consideration and development. We call for convening an early meeting of experts to discuss the draft framework strategy with the view to its finalization for consideration by senior security officials.21. We are concerned about the increase in production and cultivation of opium in Afghanistan, the volume of drug trafficking and demand in the HoA Region and beyond. This requires further eradication efforts and poses a threat to the socio-economic development, security and stability not only in Afghanistan, but also in the surrounding region and the world as a whole. We understand that acuteness and global scale of the drug threat requires appropriate international efforts aimed at intensifying measures to fight drugs production and trafficking in Afghanistan and the region of HoA. We also stress the urgent need to respond to the serious challenges posed by the nexus between revenue and its financial support for terrorist entities in Afghanistan, the Heart of Asia region and globally. To disrupt these links, the HoA countries intend to increase dialogue between their relevant ministries and agencies to tackle this menace. In this regard, we believe it is essential to integrate a comprehensive approach in addressing the drug problem of Afghanistan and the HoA region.22. We recognize that a politically negotiated settlement remains important for durable peace in Afghanistan. We reiterate our support to the Government of Afghanistan in its efforts to advance an Afghan led Afghan owned peace process. We urge all Afghan Taliban groups and all other armed groups to enter into peace talks with the Government of Afghanistan. While recognizing the importance of the contributions of neighboring countries and regional partners in this process, we urgeall those countries in the region and beyond who have leverages and influence to help bring the Taliban to the negotiation table.Achieving Prosperity23. We acknowledge the crucial role of Afghanistan as a natural land bridge in promoting regional connectivity and economic integration in the Heart of Asia region, and we reiterate our strong support for Afghanistan’s efforts to use its geographic location to enhance wider regional economic cooperation. We further stress that economic development will contribute to achieving lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region, and enhance regional economic integration. In this regard, we welcome the practical implementation of TAPI and completion of the first stage of the Asian International Railway Corridor between Imamnazar, Turkmenistan, and Aqina, Afghanistan — the initial stages of TAT linking Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Further, we encourage the early implementation of the multinational energy and connectivity projects of CASA-1000, TUTAP, Chabahar Agreement, the Five Nation Railway, TAT linking Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan by rail, all of which would play a central role in strengthening regional cooperation between Central Asia and South Asia and further forge economic connectivity and growth in the region. We welcome the MoU on Jointly Building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road between the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. All these will lay the foundations for a successful Seventh Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA) planned for November 2017 in Ashgabat.24. We are encouraged by the continued commitment of regional countries to establish significant North-South and East-West corridors within the Heart of Asia Region with a focus on the development of infrastructure connecting Afghanistan and the region to seaports. We recognize the crucial significance of enhanced and assured sea-land access for Afghanistan to region’s biggest markets. In this context, we note the significant step taken by Afghanistan, Iran and India by signing their trilateral transport and transit agreement based on sea access through Chabahar. Once implemented, this corridor will provideadditional and dependable access for Afghanistan and Central Asia to regional and global markets.We also welcome the progress made on the Lapis Lazuli corridor, and believe that this will further increase the connectivity of Afghanistan.25. We appreciate the necessity to maximize the speed of movement of goods across the region, and in this context we agree to collaborate more closely in removing the non-tariff barriers to trade, establishing and implementing bilateral and multilateral regional transit-trade framework agreements. In this regard, we stress on the urgent need to integrate, through the land route, South Asia and Central Asia through the expansion of existing bilateral trade and transit agreement both northwards and southwards.26. We recognize the importance of the role of small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) in the economic growth of individual countries and the region as a whole. We commit to undertake measures to strengthen the growth of SMEs, including women entrepreneurship, and enable their expansion across borders into other countries of the region. To realize these objectives, we task the members of the Trade, Commerce and Investment Opportunities CBM to explore measures, such as simplifying customs procedures, exchanging information on regional markets and addressing tariff and non-tariff barriers, and submit a report to the Senior Officials Meetings, so as to take these ideas forward for implementation.Confidence Building Measures27. Reiterating our collective support to promote the implementation of six CBMs identified in the HoA-IP, we note with satisfaction that a number of activities under various CMBs that were carried out since we last met in Islamabad in December 2015.28. We request the lead countries of CBMs that did not hold their Regional Technical Group meetings as we stipulated in Beijing (2014) and in Islamabad (2015) to reflect on how they could strengthen their capacity to play a lead role, as per their commitments, in advancing the work of the CBM that they lead. We also call upon participants and supporters to collaborate closely to implement prioritized activities under the CBMs of which they are members. We urge lead countries, participating and supporting countries and organizations to ensure the implementation of the activities prioritized by each CBM.29. We appreciate the valuable support of the international community to the HoA-IP. In this context, we look forward to continued contributions of the supporting countries and organizations to realize the implementation activities prioritized under each CBM. In order to have a more precise picture of the contributions by the international community to the Heart of Asia Process, we request the co-Chairs to provide us with an annual report on the activities of each CBM and the contributions made by the participating countries and supporters of this process. In this context, an assessment of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process from its inception in 2011, including on the CBMs, was carried out by the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and presented to the Senior Officials’ Meeting of the Heart of Asia- Istanbul Process in New York. We encourage participant countries and supporters to consider the recommendations of this assessment.Conclusion30. We task our Senior Officials to hold the first 2017 SOM of this process, within three months of this Conference, and engage in substantive discussions on various important subjects in accordance with our commitments in Beijing and Islamabad and also to review the plans submitted by the RTGs.31. We express our sincere appreciation to the Government of the Republic of India for hosting the Sixth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process in Amritsar. We welcome the willingness of Republic of Azerbaijan to host the next Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process as Co-chair in 2017.32. We welcome the presence of guest countries Austria, Bulgaria, Latvia and Uzbekistan in this Conference and note their interest in the Heart of Asia Istanbul process.33. This Declaration was adopted in Amritsar, India on 4 December 2016, by the Foreign Ministers and high-level representatives of the participating countries of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Republic of Azerbaijan, People’s Republic of China, Republic of India, Islamic Republic of Iran, Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Russian Federation, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Republic of Tajikistan, Republic of Turkey, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Nations. This Declaration was welcomed and supported by the Foreign Ministers and high-level representatives of the supporting countries of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process, and the high-ranking representatives of the supporting international and regional organizations: Commonwealth of Australia, Canada, Royal Kingdom of Denmark, Arab Republic of Egypt, European Union, Republic of Finland, Republic of France, Federal Republic of Germany, Republic of Iraq, Republic of Italy, Japan, Republic of Poland, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), Asian Development Bank (ADB), Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), Collective Security Treaty Organizations (CSTO), Economic Cooperation Organizations (ECO), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

India observes Constitution Day today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India observes its Constitution Day on Saturday, as it was on this day in 1949, the Constituent Assembly adopted the Constitution, however, it came into force a year later.The government had last year, decided to observe 26th November as Constitution Day to honour our Constitution and its promulgation. Activities like mock Parliament, essay and debate competitions are being organised across the country on the occasion. Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has also asked the affiliated schools to celebrate the day.The day is celebrated to value and preserve the rich heritage of composite culture and to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform.Also to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all countrymen, to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women. Constitution Day will work as a catalyst and the day will also promote to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life and to have compassion for living creatures.Prime Minister Narendra Modi released two books on the Constitution in New Delhi yesterday.Speaking on the occasion, he said it is important to connect to the spirit of the Constitution and to be aware of its various articles. He also said that though the nation celebrates Republic Day on 26th January with pride, it is incomplete without celebrating Constitution Day on 26th November.

Monetizing India’s Past: Evolution of the Indian currency

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The recent move by the Indian government to demonetize the existing 500 and 1000 rupee bank notes has brought the focus of an entire nation back to one of the most important aspects of human life — money. It has made even the lay observer on the street realise the important role played by this paper-based medium in day-to-day transactions with the rest of India’s 125-million-plus denizens. However, few Indians are aware that this is just one of the phases in India’s monetary system which harks back to a past of over two-and-half millennia. And that is not including a long period of a monetary Dark Age which began about 1.5 million years ago when the earliest humans came to inhabit the sub-continent surviving on foraging and hunting till the discovery of rudimentary farming about 8000 years ago. It was then that humans made their settlements in North-Western India and began a rudimentary barter based on mutual agreements. The Harappan civilisation This long period which hasn’t left any written traces soon gave rise to one of the most spectacular yet enigmatic periods in Indian history, the Indus Valley or Harappan Epoch which began about 5,500 years ago in North-West India centred on the banks of the Sindhu (Indus) and Saraswati Rivers. During this period, a complex monetary system based on fixed weights and quality goods heralded a one-and-half millennium of international trade with far away cities like Sumer in modern Iraq and ‘Dilmun’ (Bahrain) in Bronze-Age Persian Gulf. Some of the objects recovered from Harappan sites are believed to have been used as barter goods; these include gold, silver and semi-precious beads, pottery, bronze and terracotta statues, shell bangles and an enigmatic set of seals inscribed in the Indus Script. This period came to an end around 1300 BCE probably due to massive climate changes causing the drying of the Saraswati River.When the cow was monetisedThe next period in Indian history was the Vedic Period when the cow emerged as a medium of exchange between the upper classes. However, the cow proved to be an unsuitable medium due its lack of smaller units, inconvenient handling and perishable nature which led to the use of precious metals like gold and silver. Thus, we find numerous references to gold and silver as Hiranya initially for both, and then as Suvarna/Pith and Rajata; several ‘gold money’ units are also referred to, in the later Vedas, as Nishka, Shatamana, Chandra and Pada, though no Vedic period currency has been found till date. According to modern scholars, the Shatamana (lit. Hundred units) represents a money unit which was hundred times the weight of a seed called Ratti (Abrus precatorius) which became the basis for the Tola corresponding to 96 rattis. The Tola became the weight standard for Indian coins right from this early historic period till the British era.India’s first state-certified coinsThe post-Vedic period saw the rise of Iron Age kingdoms known as Janapadas (Jana ~ People Pada ~ Foot lit. Foot of the People) which were later absorbed into sixteen larger kingdoms termed as Solasa Mahajanapada in and around the fifth century BCE These Mahajanapadas were empowered to issue India’s first state-certified coinages in silver from diverse regions which stretched from ancient Gandhara (Qandahar, Afghanistan) in the North-West till Ashmaka-Kuntala (Deccan peninsula) in the South-east and Saurashtra (Kathiawad-Kutch) in the west till Anga/Vanga (ancient Bengal) in the east. The coins issued by them were essentially odd-shaped pieces of silver, cut in various polygonal shapes and ‘punched’ with unique emblems usually on one side only. Importantly, the coins in each local series corresponded to a definite weight range (usually multiples of the Ratti) keeping in view the precious nature of silver. Many accounts in Buddhist Jatakas, Sanskrit texts and Jaina Agamas mention the use of silver coins during the pre-Buddhist era. Panini, the fifth-century Sanskrit grammarian first used the term Rupya to describe ‘beautiful images’ on these coins. The later medieval denomination, Rupaiya was a corruption of Rupya and the modern Indian Rupee in turn originated from Rupaiya. Ancient India’s monetary system was thus maintained on these ‘Punch-marked’ coins for the next five hundred years including the Mauryan Empire era when a silver imperial coin weighing 32 rattis and called the Karshapana was innovated for this huge empire stretching from the Khyber Pass till the foothills of Karnataka. Interestingly, Karshapana later gave birth to the word, Kaasu in many South Indian languages meaning loose change, which in turn became Kaash, and later during the colonial era giving birth to the colloquial English word, cash!The Alexander-Maurya connect Indian monetary system’s next big change came with the invasion of India by Alexander the Great in 326 BCE when Indians encountered the cutting-edge Greek technology of die-struck coins for the first time. Die striking involves the preparing of bronze dies engraved with the negative designs of both sides and striking them simultaneously on a coin blank. Alexander’s immediate successor, Seleucus Nikator continued the connection to India by marrying his daughter to a Mauryan royal. His successors, the Seleucids continued to maintain friendly relations with the Mauryans till Ashoka’s period. However, their local governors became independent in around 250 BCE establishing the Greek kingdom of Bactria. The Bactrian Greeks gradually forayed into India prompted by the fall of the Mauryan Empire in 180 BCE The Indo-Greek kingdom, as it was now called, engulfed large parts of Kabul-Gandhara where they issued a set of die-struck coins with life-like images of deities and rulers. The initial series used images of Greek deities but later coins had images of Indian deities as well. One of the earliest Indo-Greek coin types found at Ai-Khanum, an archaeological site in Afghanistan, had the first depiction of the divine brothers, Balarama and Vasudeva Krishna on either sides with Greek-Brahmi legends naming an Indo-Greek ruler, Agathocles. Thus, spurred by Greco-Roman technology, Indian kingdoms began to issue coins of the ‘die-struck’ type from the first century BCE with the Classical Age of die-struck Indian coins beginning in the first century CE under the Kushans who were inspired by Roman gold coins arriving on the Indian shores through Indo-Roman trade to issue the first gold coins in India with images of deities from Indian, Greek and Zoroastrian pantheon. The Kushana idiom was amplified by the Gupta dynasty in the fourth century as a number of Gupta rulers issued varieties of gold coins depicting the Gupta Emperors not only in martial activities like hunting lions/tigers, posing with weapons, etc, but also in leisurely activities like playing a Veena. These coins have Sanskrit legends written in the Brahmi script with reverse images of Lakshmi, Durga, Ganga, Garuda and Kartikeya.Inspired by Roman gold coinsThe end of Gupta rule in the sixth century due to a Hun invasion ushered in a period of uncertainty when again a number of local kingdoms rose in different regions issuing region-specific coins which were poor in both metallic content and artistic design. Thus, during a long period stretching till the thirteenth century a mix of designs borrowed not only from the Kushana-Gupta pattern but also from foreign designs were employed by these dynasties in Western, Eastern, Northern and Central India. South India developed a different coin paradigm moving towards a gold standard which was inspired from the Roman gold coins, which arrived in the region during the first three centuries of the first millennium.Era of Islamic coinage In eighth century Sindh, a prosperous kingdom on the North-Western coast of India was annexed to the Islamic Caliphate by Muhammad bin Qasim in 711-12 CE. Sindh became the first part of the Indian sub-continent to come under Islamic influence and issued a local Islamic coinage in around 10-11th century CE. Though these coins adhered to larger Islamic standard of Arabic legend, they lacked other Islamic features like the date in Hijri era and the name of the town where the coins were struck. Proper Islamic coinage could not be established even by Muhammad Ghori after his conquest of Delhi in 1192 CE. On the contrary, Muhammad Ghori aka Muhammad bin Sam had to issue coins with images of Goddess Lakshmi in Kannauj region to respect the local coinage traditions. Indo-Islamic coinage came into its own only during the reign of Illtutmish (ruled 1210-1236 CE) who formally gained the permission of the Caliph in Baghdad in 1229 CE for issuing coins in his name. However, Indo-Islamic coinage gradually became the dominant coinage of medieval India under the five dynasties of the Delhi Sultanate viz. the Slave dynasty, the Khaljis, the Tughluqs, the Sayyids and the Lodhis. The Delhi Sultans power rose under the Khalji-Tughluqs till massive revolts during Muhammad bin Tughluq’s reign and afterwards led to the formation of regional Sultanates in numerous regions like Malwa, Gujarat, Deccan, Bengal, Jaunpur, etc. Many of these regional sultanates issued coins copied from the Delhi Sultanate’s coinage. In South India, for instance, Ala-ud-din Bahaman Shah, the founder of the Bahamani Sultanate issued silver tankas which copied the legends of Ala-ud-din Khalji’s coins three decades after the latter’s death. The Bahamanis’ rival kingdom of Vijayanagara revived gold coins with the images of Hindu deities which became popular even in Bahamani territory due to their superior gold content!Arrival of rupaiya, paisa and mohurThe main age of Indo-Islamic coinage arrived with the Mughals though with some deviations under Akbar and Jahangir who freely employed images on their coins. Akbar reformed Mughal coinage by adopting Sher Shah Sur’s bimetallic currency of silver Rupaiya and copper paisa and added a gold coin called the Ashrafi/Mohur. He further introduced market-controlled exchange rates between the three coins in the imperial markets. Thus, the Indian monetary system began a new journey with the issue of crores of Ashrafis, Rupaiyas and Daams during the next two-and-half centuries of Mughal rule. In the interim period, numerous regional powers tried to challenge the Mughals’ monopoly over Indian coinage by issuing their own coins; notably Chhatrapati Shivaji issued gold huns and copper Shivarais with his titles in the Nagari script. Other powers who issued their own coins included the Sikhs, Haider Ali/Tipu Sultan of Mysore, the Ahoms of Assam, Tripura and the rulers of Kangra which were different from the Mughal paradigm. European powers like the Portuguese, the French, the Danish and the English also began issuing coins from their local bases in Western, Southern and Eastern coasts of India irking the Mughals who tried to exercise exclusive monopoly over the right to issue coins in the Indian sub-continent. The English in particular were even punished by Emperor Aurangzeb for issuing Persian legend coins with names of English Kings from Bombay in 1688-89 by naval blockading of the Island and suspension of their trading rights on the Western coast. However, these powers rose with the decline of the Mughals and continued to issue their coins. The English bided their time and ‘bought’ the permission to copy Mughal designs in Madras (1692 CE) and later in Bombay (1717 CE) and Calcutta (1759 CE) by bribing officials or even gullible Princes and Emperors with European novelties! These Anglo-Mughal coins are a testimony to the wider acceptance of coins issued in the name of the Mughal Emperor in Indian trade circles.British India coinageThe ambitious English further bid their time till the Mughals were weakened enough for them to step in and take over Delhi which formally came under English control in 1803 CE The English continued the charade of issuing coins in the Mughal Emperor’s name till 1835 when they abruptly switched over to a Uniform Coinage with the name and image of the English monarch. The Uniform Coinage used a new machine technology imported from Birmingham and was said to have been introduced to remove the hundred-odd types of rupees in circulation from the markets! Thus, from 1835 began a period where the Mohur-Rupee-Paisa were issued with English and Persian legends with the name of the East India Company and the image of the British monarch till 1858. In 1858, the Indian revolt against the East India Company forced it to give the power directly to the British Crown. The Coinage design however saw a change in Queen Victoria’s title from ‘VICTORIA QUEEN’ to ‘VICTORIA EMPRESS’ only in 1877. A number of princely states which survived Dalhousie’s annexations of 1850s were prompted to either give up their coining rights or issue coins with images or legends in name of the British monarch as the Empress of India. Some notable Rajput states like Bundi, Bikaner, Alwar etc. succumbed to the pressure. However, the proud rulers of Mewar issued coins with a smartly worded legend ‘DOSTI LANDHAN’ in Devanagari to escape expressing overt loyalty to the British Crown. Hyderabad and Bahawalpur were two Muslim-dominated states whose coinage was not interfered with. Interestingly, Hyderabad also issued Bank notes in the name of its rulers, the Nizams right up till its absorption into India. The British freed of all pretensions began a British India coinage from 1862 till 1947. Its major issues were silver rupees and its lower fractions, however, gold mohurs were also issued by the government. Importantly, the ‘Indian government’ formally began issuing Paper Money after the passing of the Indian Paper Currency Act of 1861 backed by metallic reserves matching the actual promissory notes. The Government of India initially began issuing Bank notes first through the Controller of Currency but later the Reserve Bank of India was established in 1935 for monitoring India’s monetary system. Also, the beginning of the World War II led to the stoppage of use of pure silver for coining the rupees in 1939 itself when silver rupees were recalled by the government. The government formally began to take steps to begin a token coinage which began in 1940-45 with the replacement of silver by half-silver. After 1945, alloys of different types were used to mint a token British India coinage till 1947.Post BritishThinkstockPost-independence, the British currency continued to be legal tender till 1950 when the Republic of India began issuing its sovereign currency with the emblems of the Republic replacing the British monarch as the first step towards establishing the modern Indian currency system. In 1957 the coinage was turned into a decimal system where one rupee was deemed as equal to 100 paisa replacing the Anna system of the British period. This coinage called Naya Paisa was the last definitive step towards today’s system of the Indian Rupee (INR) recognised as the formal currency of the Indian nation internationally.Fiscal trajectoryTill 1300 BCE: Barter systemVedic period: Cows, Rattis (seeds), Hiranyas (precious metals)Post-Vedic period: India’s first state certified coins in silver326 BCE: Die-struck bronze coins minted with life-like images of deities and rulers, post confluence with Greek rulersSixth century-Thirteenth century: Period of uncertainity follows due to fall of empires, leading to region-specific designs. Gold coins with heavy Roman influence10th century to mid-12th century: Islamic coinage with no images, and only praises of Allah and Prophet Muhammad inscribedMughal rule: Bimetallic currency introduced, with silver Rupaiya, copper paisa, and a gold coin called the Ashrafi/Mohur. Regional powers challenge Mughal monopoly over Indian coinage by issuing their own coins1835-1858: Abrupt switch over to a Uniform Coinage with the name and image of the English monarch. The Uniform Coinage used a new machine technology, and was introduced to remove the hundred-odd types of rupees in circulation from the markets1862-1947: British India coinage begins, with silver rupees and its lower fractions, along with gold mohurs. Also, formally began issuing paper money World War II: Stoppage of use of pure silver for coining the rupees in 1939; silver rupees recalled by government1950 onwards: Republic of India began issuing its sovereign currency with the emblems of the Republic replacing the British monarch Photo credit : www.mintageworld.com – world’s 1st online museum for Vintage & Current Coins, Stamps & Currency Notes

Ex-Teri chief RK Pachauri allowed to travel abroad again

New Delhi: A Delhi court on Saturday once again granted permission to former Teri chief RK Pachauri, accused in a sexual harassment case, to travel abroad.

Pachauri, currently on bail, was allowed to travel to Dominican Republic from 22 November to 5 December by Metropolitan Magistrate Shivani Chauhan, after he moved an application.

The court allowed the application, filed through Pachauri’s counsel Ashish Dixit, noting that the probe was complete and charge sheet has already been filed in the case.

A file image of ex-Teri chief RK Pachauri. IBNLive

A file image of ex-Teri chief RK Pachauri. IBNLive

“The investigation is complete and charge sheet has already been filed. The accused has been granted permission to travel abroad on several earlier occasions and has complied with the directions given by the court.

“In these circumstances, the accused is permitted to travel as per his itinerary… subject to furnishing a local surety of Rs 2 lakh to the satisfaction of this court,” the court said and directed him to give an undertaking that he shall appear in court in person or through counsel and not dispute his identity at a later stage.

It also asked him to file a copy of his travel tickets and intimate the court after his return or any changes in his travel itinerary.

The court had on 11 July granted regular bail to Pachauri and allowed him to travel abroad after he appeared in pursuance to summons.

Pachauri has been allowed by the court to travel over a dozen times to various countries including USA, UK, China, Japan, France, Kazakhstan, Bolivia, Kuwait, Mexico, Somalia and Saudi Arabia, during pendency of probe and proceedings.

The former Teri chief was summoned as accused by the court after it took cognisance of the charge sheet filed against him for allegedly sexually harassing an ex-colleague.

The court, while taking cognisance of the charge sheet, had said there was sufficient material to proceed against him under sections 354A (sexual harassment), 354B (assault against woman with intent to disrobe), 354D (stalking), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult modesty of woman) and 341 (wrongful confinement) of the IPC.

The charge sheet, filed by Delhi Police on 1 March last year, had arrayed 23 prosecution witnesses, many of whom are present and former employees of The Energy and Resources Institute (Teri). Pachauri was granted an anticipatory bail in the case on 21 March last year and an FIR lodged against him on 13 February last year.

First Published On : Nov 19, 2016 16:24 IST

Govt offers helping hand to diplomats, tourists and NRIs

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The demonetization of high value Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes have not only hit the factories rolling out fake Indian currency notes in foreign countries, but other neighbours Bhutan, Nepal, diplomatic missions in India as well as the Non-Resident Indians (NRIs). After receiving several requests, the government here on Thursday set up an inter-ministerial committee under the additional secretary finance including a joint secretary from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA)to find solution to issues confronting neighbouring friendly countries as well as visa sections of diplomatic missions.Official spokesman of MEA Vikas Swarup confirmed they have received four types of requests including those from diplomatic missions. “Some have wanted to know if they could collect consular and visa fees in old notes. If so collected, they have sought to know how will those be exchanged,” he said. Hans Dannenberg Castellanos, Ambassador of the Dominican Republic, who also holds the rotating post of the dean of Diplomatic Corps in the country held a meeting with the MEA officials saying diplomatic missions as well as tourists, students, medical tourists, delegates and diplomats are experiencing problems following demonetization.Swarup said the NRIs having legal Indian currency abroad and are travelling to India immediately, have also sought solutions to the issue. “The third set of issues is by the money changer associations abroad. This is quite interesting because we don’t have full convertibility…So, they have asked us the same question that what they would do with the stacks they have. How do they convert those?,” the spokesperson said. The issues have been referred to an inter-ministerial committee. “We wait their guidance, their advice and their recommendation which can then be shared with those various categories who have approached us,” Swarup said.Dean of Diplomatic Corps in India said all diplomatic missions were supporting the government move to fight corruption. But want solution to the crisis faced by diplomats and missions. He sought measures like setting up separate counters for embassies at the banks and a dedicated desk at MEA to address troubles faced by them.Within hours of announcement of demonetization, the diplomatic missions had sent detailed advisories to their citizens about currency restrictions in India and what their citizens can do on arrival. The UK embassy, which has been regularly updating its advisory, says citizens should be prepared for long queues at banks and the ATM.Also two eastern friendly neighbours Nepal and Bhutan are also experiencing problems, as they are only countries that allow Indian travellers to carry up to Rs25,000 in paper currency. Bhutan’s Central Bank has even deputed its officials at the Indo-Bhutan border to ensure that there was no shortage in cash for exchange over the counter. After discussions between Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) and the RBI, Nepal government banned all financial transactions in Indian rupees. This has come a boon for Indian security agencies, who believe that Kathmandu was the main hub, for funnelling fake currency into the Indian market.

Embraer to pay $205 million to settle corruption charges in India, 3 other countries

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Aircraft manufacturer Embraer has agreed to pay over USD 205 million as settlement with American and Brazilian authorities for resolving corruption charges in India and three other countries.The corruption charges in India relate to alleged payment of USD 5.76 million to an agent in India in kickbacks for clinching a deal for the sale of three aircraft for the IAF’s Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS). The CBI has already registered an FIR in the case.”The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) today announced a global settlement along with the US Department of Justice and Brazilian authorities that requires aircraft manufacturer Embraer SA to pay more than USD 205 million to resolve alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA),” an official statement said.The SEC’s complaint alleges that Embraer made more than USD 83 million in profits as a result of bribe payments from its US-based subsidiary through third-party agents to foreign government officials in the Dominican Republic, Saudi Arabia, and Mozambique.Embraer allegedly created false books and records to conceal the illicit payments, and also engaged in an alleged accounting scheme in India, the statement said.According to the SEC’s complaint, USD 3.52 million were paid in bribes to an official in the Dominican Republic s air force to secure a military aircraft contract in that country, and USD 1.65 million in bribes were routed to an official in Saudi Arabia to win business there.An alleged payment of USD 800,000 was made at the behest of a Mozambican government official as a condition of obtaining a contract with a state-owned airline in that country.Approximately USD 5.76 million was allegedly paid to an agent in India in connection with the sale of three highly specialised military aircraft to Indian Air Force, and the payments were falsely recorded in Embraer’s books and records as part of a consulting agreement that was not legitimate.”As alleged in our complaint, Embraer realised significant revenues by surreptitiously using third parties to mask bribes paid to government officials with influence over contracts it was competing to win,” said Andrew J Ceresney, Director of the SEC Enforcement Division.Kara N Brockmeyer, Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division s FCPA Unit, added, “Embraer s alleged misconduct spanned multiple continents, and it has taken significant ongoing coordination among international regulators and law enforcement agencies to uncover the company’s complex bribery schemes.”Under the settlement, Embraer must pay a USD 107 million penalty to the Justice Department as part of a deferred prosecution agreement, and more than USD 98 million in disgorgement and interest to the SEC.Embraer may receive up to a USD 20 million credit depending on the amount of disgorgement it will pay to Brazilian authorities in a parallel civil proceeding in Brazil.Embraer must retain an independent corporate monitor for at least three years, the statement said.

Embraer reaches $205.5 million graft settlement with U.S., Brazil | Reuters

Embraer reaches $205.5 million graft settlement with U.S., Brazil | Reuters

Updated: Oct 24, 2016 22:15 IST


By Brad Haynes

SAO PAULO Brazilian planemaker Embraer SA on Monday reached an agreement with U.S. and Brazilian authorities to settle a six-year corruption investigation, paying $205.5 million to turn the page on signs of graft in four foreign contracts.Embraer said an internal probe, launched in 2010 after receiving a subpoena in the United States, found evidence of wrongdoing in deals with Saudi Arabia, India, Mozambique and the Dominican Republic in the five years through 2011.The fine due to U.S. and Brazilian authorities is in line with a $200 million provision Embraer made in July.The planemaker’s shares slipped 0.5 percent in trading in Sao Paulo after news of the accord, which offers closure in a case that risked prosecution of the company under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.The company said it is not party to a parallel Brazilian criminal investigation of certain individuals.

Embraer, the world’s third-largest maker of commercial jets, has replaced much of its senior management in recent years, reinforced compliance efforts and curtailed use of third-party sales representatives, who drew suspicion in deals under review.A sweeping internal investigation led by Baker & McKenzie expanded beyond the scope of U.S. authorities’ initial inquiry, reviewing hundreds of thousands of documents and conducting more than 100 interviews, the company said in a public statement.

In the process, Embraer said that investigators found “the company was responsible for misdeeds in four transactions between 2007 and 2011.” The deals involved:- Eight Super Tucano light attack planes sold to the Dominican Republic.- Three surveillance aircraft sold to India for an undisclosed sum.

– Two E190 commercial jets sold to Mozambique’s state airline LAM.- Three E170 jets sold to state oil company Saudi Aramco for business aviation. (Reporting by Brad Haynes; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Paul Simao)

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

2008 Embraer aircraft deal: CBI files FIR; names defence agent Vipin Khanna as key beneficiary

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Central Bureau of Investigation has filed an FIR into the US $208-million jet deal inked during the UPA regime, and named defence agent as key beneficiary.Defence agent Vipin Khanna is the key beneficiary in Embraer deal. CBI has named him in the FIR, reported ANI quoting CBI.According to Indian Express, the FIR names Khanna as the beneficiary of the commissions and a Singapore-based company, Interdev Pte Ltd, as the entity through which the commissions were routed in three tranches via a subsidiaryof Embraer.Leading Brazilian newspaper ‘Folha de Sao Paulo’ had reported that the company allegedly paid commissions to a UK-based defence agent to finalize the deal with India.DRDO had purchased three aircraft from the company in 2008 and customized them for serving are air-borne radar system known as airborne early-warning and control systems or AWACS for the Indian Air Force.According to defence procurement rules of India, middlemen are strictly barred in such deals.The company has been under investigation by the US Justice Department since 2010 when a contract with the Dominican Republic raised the Americans’ suspicions, the report said. Since then, the investigation has widened to examine business dealings with eight more countries. Following the allegations, the Defence Ministry referred the matter to CBI asking it to probe the allegations.

Mixed feelings in Marshalls over epic nuclear case; island nation takes on India, Pak, Britain

Majuro, Marshall Islands: As the Marshall Islands awaits an international court ruling on Wednesday on whether its lawsuit against three nuclear powers can proceed, many in the western Pacific nation question the merit of the David-versus-Goliath legal battle.

The country of 55,000 people is taking on India, Pakistan and Britain in the International Court of Justice (ICJ), arguing they have failed to comply with the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Initially the lawsuit was even more ambitious — also including China, France, Israel, North Korea, Russia and the United States — none of which recognised the ICJ’s jurisdiction on the matter.

The Marshalls has a long, bitter history with nuclear weapons, making it one of the few nations that can argue with credibility before the ICJ about their impact.

The island nation was ground zero for 67 American nuclear weapons tests from 1946-58 at Bikini and Enewetak atolls, when it was under US administration.

The tests included the 1954 “Bravo” hydrogen bomb, the most powerful ever detonated by the United States, about 1,000 times bigger than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

They fed into an apocalyptic zeitgeist in Cold War popular culture, giving a name to the bikini swimsuit and leading to the development of Japan’s Godzilla movie monster.

In “Godzilla”, the creature is awakened by a hydrogen bomb test, rising from a roiling sea to destroy Tokyo, in a walking, radiation-breathing analogy for nuclear disaster.

FILE - In this May 21, 1956 file photo, the stem of a hydrogen bomb, the first such nuclear device dropped from a U.S. aircraft, moves upward through a heavy cloud and comes through the top of the cloud, after the bomb was detonated over Namu Island in the Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands. The hydrogen bomb was never dropped on any targets. It was first successfully tested in the 1950s by the U.S., in bombs called Mike and Bravo. Soviet tests soon followed. (AP Photo, File)FILE - In this May 21, 1956 file photo, the stem of a hydrogen bomb, the first such nuclear device dropped from a U.S. aircraft, moves upward through a heavy cloud and comes through the top of the cloud, after the bomb was detonated over Namu Island in the Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands. The hydrogen bomb was never dropped on any targets. It was first successfully tested in the 1950s by the U.S., in bombs called Mike and Bravo. Soviet tests soon followed. (AP Photo, File)

In this May 21, 1956 file photo, the stem of a hydrogen bomb, the first such nuclear device dropped from a U.S. aircraft, moves upward through a heavy cloud and comes through the top of the cloud, after the bomb was detonated over Namu Island in the Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands. The hydrogen bomb was never dropped on any targets. It was first successfully tested in the 1950s by the U.S., in bombs called Mike and Bravo. Soviet tests soon followed. AP

 ‘Sky turned blood red’ 

On the Marshall Islands, the impacts of the nuclear tests were all too real.

Numerous islanders were forcibly evacuated from ancestral lands and resettled, while thousands more were exposed to radioactive fallout.

“Several islands in my country were vaporised and others are estimated to remain uninhabitable for thousands of years,” Tony deBrum, a former Marshall Islands foreign minister, told an ICJ hearing earlier this year.

He recalled witnessing the Bravo test as a nine-year-old while fishing with his grandfather in an atoll, some 200 kilometres (125 miles) from the blast’s epicentre.

“The entire sky turned blood red,” he said. “Many died, or suffered birth defects never before seen and cancers as a result of contamination.”

DeBrum launched the Marshall’s ICJ action in 2014 with cooperation from the California-based Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

His actions prompted the International Peace Bureau to nominate him in January for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize, which is yet to be awarded.

Yet critics argue the ICJ action is a distraction and the islanders’ real fight is with Washington, which carried out the tests in their backyard.

They contend the case has no relationship to victims’ claims for increased compensation, better health care and clean-ups to make sites habitable again.

Official criticism has been muted recently to avoid undermining deBrum’s Nobel nomination.

But his successor as foreign minister, John Silk, made his views clear before an election last November when voters ousted 40 percent of the parliament, including deBrum.

Labelling the action “unauthorised” and “a publicity stunt”, he said the focus should remain on petitioning the US Congress for increased compensation.

“What do these lawsuits have to do with resolving the legacy of the US nuclear testing programme?” he asked.

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation argues that the Marshalls is taking a broader perspective in trying to re-start nuclear disarmament talks that have stalled over the past 20 years.

“The Republic of the Marshall Islands acts for the seven billion of us who live on this planet to end the nuclear weapons threat hanging over all humanity,” its website says.

“Everyone has a stake in this.”

The ICJ, the UN’s top court, will decide on Wednesday whether it believes the case should go to a full hearing.

Obama welcomes ratification of Paris Climate Change agreement by India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>United States President Barack Obama on Sunday hailed India’s submission of its instrument of ratification to the United Nations in New York for the Paris Climate Change Agreement on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.”Gandhiji believed in a world worthy of our children. In joining the Paris Agreement, @narendramodi & the Indian people carry on that legacy,” tweeted Obama.France also welcomed this move in a statement saying, “The President of the Republic welcomes the ratification of the Paris Agreement by India, on this symbolic day commemorating Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday.”So far 61 nations have ratified the landmark agreement on climate change accounting for a total of 47.79 % of the global greenhouse gas emissions. India’s ratification on Sunday would take that figure to 51.89 per cent.The objective of the Paris Agreement is to reduce the emissions from 50 to 40 gigatons, or to 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial levels. Some developing countries have pledged to reduce carbon footprints in the form of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCsAdopted in Paris by the 195 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at a conference known as COP21, the agreement calls on countries to combat climate change and to intensify actions and investments needed for a sustainable low-carbon future, as well as to adapt to the increasing impacts of climate change.Specifically, it seeks to limit the rise in global temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and to strive for 1.5 degrees Celsius.The pact – which was signed in New York on April 22 by 175 countries at the largest, single-day signing ceremony in history – will enter into force 30 days after at least 55 countries, accounting for 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, deposit their instruments of ratification.

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s visit on Republic Day will boost ties: PM Modi

Sun, 2 Oct 2016-09:55pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday thanked Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day parade next year and said his visit will give a “very strong boost” to bilateral ties.”Thank you for very kindly agreeing to grace the 2017 Republic Day celebrations as the Chief Guest,” he tweeted. Mohamed bin Zayed replied to his tweet, saying: “I am pleased to join in your Republic Day celebrations, wishing your friendly country more progress and prosperity.” Modi, in another tweet, said that the visit of the Crown Prince will give a “very strong boost to the vibrant India-UAE ties”.

Two years of Swachh Bharat: As South Asia goes on open defecation free drive, personal choices can make the difference

As the whole of South Asia goes on a commendable open defecation free drive with the People’s Republic of Bangladesh leading the way, I am left wondering what kind of thoughts and sensitivities will determine the choice of latrine in the millions of new entrants to “closed” defecation spaces. And I looked back at my own evolution and engagement with such spaces.

I was in a conference on visual perception in Barcelona recently, when I encountered a problem I haven’t had in a very long time. Where I was staying, the latrine room had a commode, a toilet paper roll but no other external water source. I am a Bengali, born and brought up in Bengal, in a home and a family, where after passing “doing the needful”, I have learned to use my hand and some water to clean myself up and thereafter clean by hand with water and soap. In certain situations, especially earlier in my ancestral village, I have been taught to use coal ash in place of soap. That was the training. Till about age 12, I had never sat on a commode. I was used to squatting. Around 12 years of age, we moved to our new place in the same neighborhood. That new place had 2 bathrooms – one had a commode and the other had a squat latrine. I have always preferred squatting but at certain times I did use the commode. In my early commode days, I used to prefer to squat on the plastic flap rim of the commode itself and once I did fall down unable to maintain that delicate balance on a thin rim not meant to squat upon. In time I learned to use the commode well. I sat on it ‘like a chair’ but didn’t squat. The water supply was there. So was the water mug and nearby tap. Things were fine.

Representational Image. ReutersRepresentational Image. Reuters

Representational Image. Reuters

The first time I went to a place that didn’t have any water source for cleaning myself up, I didn’t know what to do. What I did was that I took a huge amount of rolled paper before I got into the act, got outside and drenched the paper in water, and then cleaned myself up with that very moist sloppy mush of toilet paper, hoping to do a clean job. The problem was that at times some tiny bits of paper stuck around adamantly after I did this. I would only get to clean up with water after I got home. Since this no-water, only-paper scenario happened very, very rarely, it wasn’t really a problem. Nor was it a problem in airplanes where the drench method worked in cooped up mid-air privacy. It still does. I also went to Japan where they like us Bengalis. They appreciate the value of water near their latrines. But that didn’t prepare me for the USA.

When I went to the USA to do my PhD, things changed radically. In my first year, I lived in the PhD student dormitory of Harvard University, where the floor had a common bathroom-latrine complex for men. The latrines were separate stalls but since the footfall was high, I was embarrassed to take this glob of drenched toilet paper into the stall with me. This embarrassment came from standing out, may be of being looked upon as an uncivilized brown that did weird things in the latrine, may be trying to ‘fit in’. Looking back, I feel that trying to fit in and integrate has never been popular in the USA, which integrated with native tribes by conquering their lands combined with physical annihilation – one of the least talked about genocides of the recent past. As a mark of their “integration” to the new continent, the English named the slice of land that they had newly grabbed, as simply “New England”. Very imaginative and integrationist indeed. But I digress. I tried to do things the dry way, with the nagging dirty feeling making me scrape harder than I should have. I ended up with an infection leading to a very painful fistula that required two bouts of surgery and a long convalescence period. I had learned my lesson. From the second year, I lived off-campus, in a place that had a latrine with a nearby tap. I look upon those “dry days” of mine with horror. When I had discussed this issue with a friend who was trying to get ‘civilized’ at break-neck speed, taunted me and said “You want to go back to squatting?” with a tone that put me as a crouching chimpanzee and him as an upright not-yet-but-soon-to-be white man. I had gathered up my brown confidence and said, “Yes”. One of the things that Europe was introduced to, due to the Crusades, was soap! I wasn’t going to take cleanliness lessons from paper-people.

When I had discussed this issue with a friend who was trying to get ‘civilized’ at break-neck speed, taunted me and said “You want to go back to squatting?” with a tone that put me as a crouching chimpanzee and him as an upright not-yet-but-soon-to-be white man. I had gathered up my brown confidence and said, “Yes”. One of the things that Europe was introduced to, due to the Crusades, was soap! I wasn’t going to take cleanliness lessons from paper-people.

Now I work in Bengal. My workplace has both squat and sit options, both with strategically placed hand-held water nozzles. I have always preferred the squat latrine over ‘The Thinker’ sitting latrine. My parent’s new home has only sitting option. After a lifetime of squatting, their muscles are now not strong enough to sustain that. I am thankful to my workplace for providing me with a choice. Most ‘diversity’ totting, cosmopolitan places don’t. But this Euro-American cosmopolitanism has always been a way to gate-keep malleable coloured folks from the rougher ones. To some, the distance of their behind from the floor is a measure of progress, class, refinement and upliftment such that once ‘uplifted’ and ‘papered’, they can’t dream of choosing to squat down and water up. The personal can be political.

$5.5 million paid to middleman in Embraer deal: CBI

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>USD 5.5 million was allegedly paid as commission to a middleman based abroad in the Embraer deal, the CBI has found in what it considers as a major breakthrough in its probe into allegations of kickbacks in the USD 208-million aircraft contract. Without naming the middleman or location where the agent could be based, CBI sources said the agency is in touch with the law enforcement agencies of that country for further details in the matter. The sources said the agency through its sources has found that USD 5.5 million (approx Rs 36 crore as per present exchange rate) was allegedly paid as commission to influence the deal in favour of Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer.They said the agency, which has registered only a preliminary enquiry in the matter, will soon be converting it into a regular FIR as enough prima facie material has been found by it to proceed in the case. The deal of three aircraft which were to be used by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for air-borne radar systems was inked in 2008 with Embraer. A Brazilian newspaper recently alleged that that the company had taken the services of middlemen to clinch deals in Saudi Arabia and India. According to defence procurement rules of India, middlemen are strictly barred in such deals.Leading Brazilian newspaper ‘Folha de Sao Paulo’ had reported that the company allegedly paid commissions to a UK-based defence agent to finalize the deal with India.DRDO had purchased three aircraft from the company in 2008 and customized them for serving are air-borne radar system known as airborne early-warning and control systems or AWACS for the Indian Air Force.The company has been under investigation by the US Justice Department since 2010 when a contract with the Dominican Republic raised the Americans’ suspicions, the report said.Since then, the investigation has widened to examine business dealings with eight more countries.

RS MP moves Bill to declare Pak a terrorist state

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rajya Sabha MP from Karnataka and a member of standing committee on defence Rajeev Chandrashekhar on Saturday submitted a private member’s Bill in the Upper House of Parliament seeking to declare Pakistan a terrorist state in the wake of the Uri attack.He has proposed to introduce the Bill – Declaration of States as Sponsor of Terrorism Bill -2016 – in the coming winter session of Parliament.Following the Uri attack on September 18 on an Indian Army Brigade headquarters, a new bill has also been moved in the US House of Representatives to designate Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism by the Republican party members Ted Poe from Texas, who is also the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism and Dana Rohrabacher from California.In his eight page Bill draft, Chandrashekhar has said that “certain states be declared as the sponsor of terrorism and that economic and trade relations with the states be withdrawn.””The Islamic Republic of Pakistan propagates and harbors agents of international terror who have repeatedly attacked the territory and the people of the Republic of India and there is an urgent need to co-ordinate activities at the international and national level to ensure the best response to protect the interests of the Republic of India and its citizens,” he has proposed.The MP told dna that “it was high time Parliament passed such a bill as even the international community has now come out against Pakistan’s pro terror agenda.”He has sought through the Bill, a prohibition on any financial aid to Pakistan and from tarde with any individual or entity or corporate in India.The Bill also seeks to prohibit Pakistani aircraft from flying over the geographical boundaries of India.

India, France sign Rafale deal worth €7.8 billion for 36 jets

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India signed the deal for direct acquisition of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France on Friday. The negotiations to buy the Rafale fighter jets came through on Wednesday and French Defence Minister Yves Le Drian arrived in the country on Friday to finalise the deal which will cost India €7.8 billion.The development comes after the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) discussed the deal and gave the green signal to go ahead with its signing to give a crucial boost to the Indian Air Force.In June, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had stated that the number of the fighter jets were “on path of coming to conclusion.”Both India and France had hoped to wrap up the strategic order during French President Francois Hollande’s visit for the Republic Day celebrations in January this year, but the bargaining over the price stalled the process. On Thursday, Parrikar had said that the two sides were yet to arrive at a decision on pricing. “It’s a big purchase, we have to be careful and every 0.1 percent savings itself is hundreds of crores. So, let the exercise be done with some patience,” he said.Hollande and Prime Minister Narendra Modi intervened in the troubled Rafale procurement last year, ordering government-to-government talks after commercial negotiations with Dassault had collapsed. The leaders agreed to scale back an original plan to buy 126 Rafale planes to just 36 in fly-away condition to meet the Indian Air Force’s urgent need as it faces an assertive China and long-time foe Pakistan.

India likely to ink Rafale deal with France today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India is likely to ink a deal for direct acquisition of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France on Friday. The negotiations to buy the Rafale fighter jets came through on Wednesday. French Defence Minister Yves Le Drian is arriving on Friday to finalise the deal which will cost India €7.8 billion.The development comes after the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) discussed the deal and gave the green signal to go ahead with its signing to give a crucial boost to the Indian Air Force.In June, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had stated that the number of the fighter jets were “on path of coming to conclusion.”Both India and France had hoped to wrap up the strategic order during French President Francois Hollande’s visit for the Republic Day celebrations in January this year, but the bargaining over the price stalled the process. Parrikar said the two sides were yet to arrive at a decision on pricing. “It’s a big purchase, we have to be careful and every 0.1 percent savings itself is hundreds of crores. So, let the exercise be done with some patience,” he said.Hollande and Prime Minister Narendra Modi intervened in the troubled Rafale procurement last year, ordering government-to-government talks after commercial negotiations with Dassault had collapsed. The leaders agreed to scale back an original plan to buy 126 Rafale planes to just 36 in fly-away condition to meet the Indian Air Force’s urgent need as it faces an assertive China and long-time foe Pakistan.

Hyderabad: Suspected ISIS module busted during NIA raids; 11 people detained

The National Investigation Agency(NIA) has reportedly busted an ISIS module in Hyderabad and detained at least 11 people.Reports said that searches are still going on and explosive material and cash have been recovered.”NIA has detained 11 people for suspected terror links and have recovered explosive material and huge cash,” reported ANI.Prohibitory orders are in place in the entire area.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier this year, in a major anti-terror swoop across the country ahead of Republic Day, the NIA had taken into custody 14 people suspected to be ISIS sympathisers for plotting attacks in different parts of the country.(Developing story)

Rafale deal to be finalized soon, says Manohar Parrikar

Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday said the negotiations to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets were “on path of coming to conclusion”.Both sides hoped to wrap up the strategic order during French President Francois Hollande’s visit for the Republic Day celebrations in January this year, but bargaining on price stalled a final result.”When we have waited for 15-16 years? I think we are now on path of coming to conclusion,” Parrikar told reporters in the Bengaluru after witnessing the inaugural flight session of indigenously built aircraft Hindustan Turbo Trainer 40 (HTT 40).<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>HTT-40 is a new basic training aircraft developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force. Parrikar said the two sides were yet to arrive at a decision on pricing. “It’s a big purchase we have to be careful and every 0.1 percent savings itself is a hundreds of crores. So let the exercise be done with some patience,” he said.Hollande and Prime Minister Narendra Modi intervened in the troubled Rafale procurement last year, ordering government-to-government talks after commercial negotiations with Dassault had collapsed. The leaders agreed to scale back an original plan to buy 126 Rafale planes to just 36 in fly-away condition to meet the Indian Air Force’s urgent needs as it faces an assertive China and long-time foe Pakistan.

President Mukherjee accorded with Grand Cross National Order of the Republic of Cote D’Ivoirie

President Pranab Mukherjee has been accorded the highest honour of Cote D’Ivoirie by its President Alassane Ouattara on his maiden visit here.After an elaborate reception accorded at the airport, Mukherjee attended a banquet last evening hosted by Ouattara where he was accorded with Grand Cross National Order of the Republic of Cote D’Ivoirie in a simple ceremony in the President’s Palace. It is the first such honour accorded to Mukherjee, Press Secretary to the President Venu Rajamony said. He said while Mukherjee has received number of honorary degrees, it is first such honour accorded to him by a country.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>President’s speech
ALSO READ President Mukherjee arrives in Cote D’Ivoirie, to receive highest awardIn his speech at the banquet, Mukherjee who is on the second leg of his three-nation visit to Africa, said it is rightly believed that the mutual goodwill between India and Cote D’Ivoirie is inversely proportional to the geographical distance separating the two countries, longstanding friendship and fruitful co-operation has made it irrelevant.”I feel greatly honoured, Excellency, by your gesture of conferring on me the National Order of the Republic of Cote D’Ivoirie. I consider it to be emblematic of the long standing mutual friendship between the peoples of our two countries,” he said.
ALSO READ After President Mukherjee, PM Modi likely to visit African countriesCalling for UN reforms, Mukherjee said both countries share many commonalities as both are active participants in regional and international fora and have worked together in close cooperation on matters of shared interest and concern. “We both recognise the imperatives of strengthening the UN system and other international organisations. We would like to see them reformed s that they remain relevant and effective in addressing the challenges that confront the world today. In this context, India stands ready to shoulder greater responsibilities in the specialised organs of the United Nations, particularly the UN Security Council,” he said.’Common Concerns of two countries’
ALSO READ Terrorism must be eradicated by collective efforts: President MukherjeeHe also underlined “common concerns” of both countries in the fight against international terrorism. “We have been co-ordinating closely in regional and multilateral fora on this and other key issues including disarmament, climate change and sustainable development,” he said. Mukherjee said India’s commitment continued in the form of South-South Cooperation through developmental assistance and sharing resources for the development of her brother nations in AfricaThe President said India’s public and private sector are keen to join Cote D’Ivoirie in setting up agro-based industries because of its fertile soil and agricultural and mineral resources. “We would be happy to join your government in developing the infrastructure that you require in the different sectors of your growing economy. We have much to offer. At this time – when both our nations are growing at a rate of 7-9%, there are infinite opportunities that must be seized,” Mukherjee said.Indian-African linksHe appreciated the naming of an information technology park in Abidjan after Mahatma Gandhi calling him “a true son of India as well as Africa”.”During his initial struggles in South Africa, he espoused the principles of Ahimsa (Non-Violence) and Satyagraha as tools for emancipation of the people from the exploitative and oppressive colonial rule. These principles later inspired independent India’s efforts in support of the decolonisation of Africa in the 1950s and 1960s. It was also at the core of India’s solidarity in the anti-apartheid movement,” he said.Mukherjee said India will remain a steadfast partner in assisting Cote D’Ivoirie in its economic development and growth. He said trade between the two nations is expected to touch US $1 billion in the next few years. “Given the relative size of our economies and our wide convergence in several sectors of common interests, we both agree that our trade and investment and economic co-operation does, indeed have a greater potential that is waiting to be fully realised,” he said.

NSG membership: Pakistan’s credentials stronger than India, claims Sartaj Aziz

After stepping up diplomatic efforts by reaching out to Mexico and Italy, Pakistan’s top Foreign Affairs Advisor has said that Islamabad’s credentials for the membership of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) are stronger than India’s. “Pakistan has diplomatically engaged numerous countries over the criteria-based approach for non-NPT countries. If the group forms such a uniform criteria, then Pakistan has stronger credentials for NSG membership than India,” said Pakistan’s top Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz in an interview to Dawn.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Our strategy was to apply after India did, after which we would have immediately followed. We have had our application in an advance state of readiness for the past three months for this purpose,” Aziz said.
ALSO READ More talks needed to discuss India’s NSG membership: ChinaClaiming that Pakistan has gradually gathered support for the criteria based approach, Aziz added that China was already supporting it.Talking about Pakistan’s relations with India, Aziz said, “It changed as the Modi administration wants to normalise ties, but according to their ‘preferences’ and India does not wish to discuss the Kashmir issue.”
ALSO READ Seek NSG’s acceptance, not individual endorsements: US tells PakistanThe top diplomat also claimed that US has formed a policy to ‘build up India’ as “their entire attention is towards containing the Islamic world and China”.Last week, Aziz had contacted Foreign Minister of New Zealand Murray McCully and Foreign Minister of Republic of Korea Yun Byung-se to highlight Pakistan’s credentials for the NSG membership with a view to seek their support.
ALSO READ NSG membership: Most members positive to India’s bid, China still playing spoilerWith the US pushing its case, India’s bid for NSG membership has received positive indications from most of the member countries but China is still playing the spoiler by persisting with its opposition.

President Mukherjee to embark on a six-day visit to Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Namibia from tomorrow

With India trying to boost its relations with African countries, President Pranab Mukherjee will embark on a six-day visit to Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Namibia from June 12.During his trip, President Mukherjee will be accompanied by a Minister of State, four Members of the Parliament, senior officials and a business delegation. On his arrival, he will be received by Vice-President of the Republic of Ghana Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur and will be accorded a traditional Ghanian welcome. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The President will hold meetings with respective heads of the three nations and a number of bilateral agreements are also likely to be signed during the visit. The President will address a Joint Business Forum and the students and faculty of University of Ghana besides having an interaction with the Indian community at a reception organised at the Indian High Commission. He will also unveil a statue of Mahatma Gandhi gifted by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations.
ALSO READ Ahead of President Pranab Mukherjee’s tour, government alerts states on Africans’ safetyIn the second leg of his visit starting June 14, the President will arrive in Abidjan, where he will have a meeting with Republic of Cote d’Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara and also sign a number of agreements. “The agreement regarding opening of EXIM Bank Representative/Regional in Abidjan would be handed over in presence of both the Presidents. The President would address a Joint Business Forum and also interact with the Indian Community,” a Ministry of External Affairs statement said.In the last leg of his visit, President Mukherjee will arrive in the Namibian capital Windhoek on June 15. “The visit, apart from consolidating bilateral interaction, will carry forward the momentum generated in India-Africa ties post-IAFS-III,” the statement said. It said during the visit, discussions will be held on bilateral, regional and multilateral issues of mutual interest.
ALSO READ President Pranab Mukherjee to get the highest award of Ivory Coast”President Mukherjee will also address a joint session of Namibian Parliament, an India-Namibia Business event, and the Namibian University of Science and Technology,” it said.

India clears final hurdle to join Missile Technology Control Regime, diplomats say | Reuters

NEW DELHI The members of the Missile Technology Control Regime, an international anti-proliferation grouping, have agreed to admit India, diplomats said, in a win for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he met U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on Tuesday.

Diplomats with direct knowledge of the matter said a deadline for members of the 34-nation group to object to India’s admission had expired on Monday without any raising objections.

Under this ‘silent procedure’, India’s admission follows automatically, diplomats from four MTCR member nations told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Obama was expected to say he was looking forward to India’s “imminent entry” into the MTCR when he and Modi address the press after their seventh bilateral meeting, sources aware of its agenda said.

Admission to the MTCR would open the way for India to buy high-end missile technology, also making more realistic its aspiration to buy surveillance drones such as the Predator, made by General Atomics.


India makes a supersonic cruise missile, the Brahmos, in a joint venture with Russia that both countries hope to sell to third countries, a development that would make India a significant arms exporter for the first time.

Membership of the MTCR would require India to comply with rules such as a maximum missile range of 300 km (186 miles) that seek to prevent arms races from developing.


The BrahMos weapon systems are displayed during a full dress rehearsal for the Republic Day parade in New Delhi January 23, 2015. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/Files

The BrahMos weapon systems are displayed during a full dress rehearsal for the Republic Day parade in New Delhi January 23, 2015. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/Files

Italy had objected to admitting India but, after an unrelated bilateral dispute was resolved, did not object this time within a 10-day deadline after the group’s chair, the Netherlands, wrote to members suggesting India be welcomed.

An Italian marine, held for four years at the country’s embassy in New Delhi over the killing of two Indian fishermen in an anti-piracy operation in 2012, was recently allowed to return home.

A U.S. congressional source confirmed that India’s membership in the missile control group was expected, as Modi visited Washington. “In my mind, the hurdle was the Italian veto over the Indian arrest of the Italian marine. Now that the marine has been released, I think it appears that yes, admission will be granted,” he said.

No formal meeting is required for India to complete its entry into the group, set up in 1987 to limit the spread of unmanned systems capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction.

The MTCR is one of four international non-proliferation regimes that India, which in recent decades has gone from being a non-aligned outsider to a rising nuclear-weapons power, has been excluded from.

New Delhi has also applied to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), a 48-nation club that governs trade in commercial nuclear technology and was originally set up in response to India’s first atomic weapons test in 1974.

Joining the NSG will be much more difficult because China is a member and has backed the membership aspirations of Pakistan, its ally and India’s arch-rival.

Still, the breakthrough on the MTCR will be welcomed in the U.S. Congress, which Modi will address on Wednesday. Congress ratified a civilian nuclear agreement with India in 2008 that seeks to build commercial ties, while at the same time binding New Delhi into the global security order.

Ahead of the summit, U.S.-based nuclear reactor maker Westinghouse, a unit of Japan’s Toshiba Corp, has made progress towards a deal to build six reactors in India’s southern state of Andhra Pradesh. A deal, if completed, would be the first to stem from the civil nuclear accord.

(Reporting by Douglas Busvine Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle in Washington; Editing by Mark Trevelyan and James Dalgleish)

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

Modi in US: Barack Obama backs India’s membership of NSG

US President Barack Obama on Tuesday supported India’s candidature for membership of the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) as he discussed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi ways to take the bilateral ties to new heights.Addressing the media jointly with Modi after over hour-long talks at the White House, Obama said it was natural for India and the US, two biggest democracies, to “deepen and broaden” partnership.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi said the two leaders discussed a wide range of issues, particularly ways to take the bilateral economic ties to new heights.
ALSO READ As Modi meets Obama, activists call for talks on human trafficking in IndiaThe other issues discussed by them included terrorism, clean energy, climate change, regional security and cyber security.During his remarks to the media, Obama said they discussed progress made in the Civil Nuclear agreement.
ALSO READ Modi in US: Obama, Modi welcome work on 6 nuclear reactors in India”I indicated support to India being a part of NSG,” the US President said amidst opposition by China to such a move.Obama underlined that India needs technology which is critical for its progress and prosperity.
ALSO READ NGOs tell PM Modi not to succumb to pressure from US on IPRModi later said, “I am thankful for the help and support that my friend President Obama has extended with regard to membership in MTCR and NSG.” Obama said non-proliferation of nuclear material and technology was also discussed. “I also mentioned the Prime Minister’s very effective participation in the Nuclear Security Summit,” he said.Traditional security challenges as well as new challenges, like cyber security, were discussed during the talks, the US President said.While informing that they also discussed “important regional issues”, he said the US and India have “shared vision of peace and development” and that “complex issues” should be resolved diplomatically.Modi said India and the US, the two biggest democracies, have worked shoulder-to-shoulder in meeting the challenges that face, not only the two countries, but the entire world.”Over the last two years, India and the US have been cooperating on global issues like climate change, nuclear security, terrorism…I feel proud, not just as friends but as two countries, on this and we will continue to work shoulder-to-shoulder,” he said.”The more we work together in new areas, the better it is for the benefit of the world as well as our two countries, which our dream,” the Prime Minister said. Obama, who received Modi with a warm embrace, said it was is “great pleasure to welcome back my friend Prime Minister Modi to the Oval Office.”The President said Modi’s leadership generates “new excitement”, not only among the Indian Americans but also among Americans.After his seventh meeting with Obama since 2014, Modi said India and the US are working as friends and partners in leading the world, and to protect the legacy that “we both are proud of”.At the outset, Obama recollected his visit to India in January last year as Chief Guest for the Republic Day celebrations and “the incredible hospitality” he received.”I still have fond memories of being honored by the PM’s invitation to participate in the Republic Day parade in India,” he said.”As world’s two largest democracies and with strong bonds between peoples and businesses, scientific and educational communities, it is natural that the US and India deepen and broaden our partnership across the whole range of issues,” the President said.Referring to the Climate Change summit in Paris in December last year, he said the joining of forces between India and US helped forge the historical agreement to effectively deal with climate change.”We discussed how we can, as quickly as possible bring the Paris agreement into force, how we can make sure that, how climate financing that is necessary for India to embark on the bold vision for solar energy and clean energy that PM Modi has laid out, can be accomplished,” Obama said.Modi said the US is “well aware” of the talent of India, a country which is “young” with 800 million people below 35 years of age. “Our youth power can work with the United States to achieve new heights,” he said.The Prime Minister said India today is the fastest growing economy of the world and that the two countries should cooperate more in new areas.He said he and Obama would meet in September on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit (in China). Till that time, he hoped, they would be able to make progress in a number of areas, including the “dream of climate justice”.

President Mukherjee to visit Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Namibia

President Pranab Mukherjee will undertake a three-nation visit to Africa from June 12 to 17. He will be undertaking visits to Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Namibia. During his state visit to Ghana from June 12 to 14, where he is going at the invitation of the President of Ghana, Mr. John Dramani Mahama, the president will be accompanied by a Minister of State, four Members of the Parliament, senior officials, business and a media delegation. President Mukherjee will be received on his arrival in Ghana capital Accra by Vice President Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur and will be given a traditional Ghanian welcome. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Thereafter, the President will have a one-to-one meeting with President Mahama followed by delegation-level talks. A number of agreements are under process for signing, including the setting up of a Joint Commission between India and Ghana and a renewal of an existing cultural exchange programme. President Mukherjee would be delivering an address at the Joint Business Forum and at the University of Ghana, and would also interact with the Indian community at a reception organized by the Indian High Commissioner in his honour. President Mukherjee will unveil a statue of Mahatma Gandhi gifted by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations and also plant a sapling at the Flag Staff House (Ghanaian Presidential Complex), an iconic building built with the Indian assistance through a Line of Credit. President will also visit the India-Ghana Kofi Annan Centre of ICT Excellence in Accra, set up with modest Indian assistance of USD 2.86 million. Bilateral trade and investments have been steadily growing. India’s cumulative investments in Ghana till date have exceeded USD 1 billion and bilateral trade crossed USD 3 billion mark in 2015-16. President Mahama will also host a state banquet in honour of President Mukherjee and the accompanying delegation. After completing his two-day visit to Ghana, President Mukherjee will pay an official visit to the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire from June 14 to 15 at the invitation of President Alassane Ouattara. This will be the first ever high-level visit from India to the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. India and Cote d’Ivoire enjoy warm and friendly relations sharing common values of democracy, development and secularism. Bilateral relations are marked by mutual respect and understanding. India and Cote d’Ivoire bilateral trade grew from USD 344.99 million in 2010-11 to USD 841.85 million in 2014-15. India, with in the rubric of South-South Cooperation, has extended lines of credit amounting to USD 156.3 million to the Government of Cote d’Ivoire for developmental projects in diverse fields such as public transportation, rural electrification, rice self-sufficiency, cashew nut processing, vegetable oil processing, coconut fibre processing, fisheries processing etc. and Mahatma Gandhi IT and Bio-technology Park. During his stay in Cote d’Ivoire, the president will have a one-to-one meeting with President Ouattara followed by delegation level talks. President Mukherjee would be conferred the National Order of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire, the highest Order of the country and would also be handed over the Key to the city of Abidjan. The agreement regarding opening of EXIM Bank Representative/Regional in Abidjan would be handed over in presence of both presidents. President Mukherjee would also address a Joint Business Forum and also interact with the Indian community before emplaning for Namibia on June 15.

959 dead, 1561 injured in healthcare attacks over two years: WHO report

Be it executions of health care workers and patients in Libya by terrorist fronts, targeted bombing of hospitals in Iraq and Syria or armed robberies in healthcare facilities in Africa, providing or seeking medical aid in conflict-ridden areas has turned into a death sentence. The latest numbers released by World Health Organization on Thursday in a report — Attacks on healthcare — Prevent. Protect. Provide, damning to say the least.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The report states that over the two-year period of 2014 and 2015, with 594 attacks in 19 countries, 959 people died and 1561 were injured. Of all the attacks on hospitals, clinics, health posts, physicians, nurses, midwives, vaccinators, lab workers, health care security, maintenance,cleaning staff, ambulances, patients and visitors, 62% were reported to be intentional.Majority of the attacks, up to 38% (228) attacks were reported in Syrian Arab Republic. Close on it’s heels follow regions of West Bank and Gaza Strip (53), Iraq (43), Pakistan (43) and Libya (33). Ukraine, Central African Republic, Yemen, Sudan and Afghanistan have also borne major brunt of attacks.Attacks on healthcare facilities are multi-faceted and include violent search of facilities, abduction of health workers, military takeover, bombings, chemical or cyber attacks, harassment and sexual violence to name a few.Regarding deaths and injuries, in some countries a single attack resulted in mass casualty leading to significant proportion of the total deaths and injuries for that year.In 2015, of 39 deaths, 34 occurred on August 14 when 12 healthcare providers and 22 patients were beheaded and crucified with impunity by Islamic State (ISIS) in Libya. In Iraq, of the 71 reported deaths in 2014, 18 occurred when the obstetrics section of the Hawija Hospital was bombed on 6 September; and of the 43 deaths in Iraq in 2015, 31 occurred during a bombing on Fallujah’s maternity hospital on August 13.International medical aid organization Medecins Sans Frontiers is one of the many such healthcare providers that has faced a huge set back in terms of lives lost to attacks in conflict zones such as Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Sudan amongst others.”In 2015, 75 hospitals and clinics supported by MSF were hit by bombing and shelling in Syria more than 94 times – that’s on average more than once a week. In total, 23 MSF medical staff were killed, and 58 staff were wounded,”said a spokesperson from MSF. “In Yemen, MSF medical activities were attacked four times in just three months between October 2015 and January 2016.”Dr Joanne Liu, President, MSF International, in her sharp address at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) pointed out, “Four of the five permanent members of UNSC have to worrying degrees been associated with coalition responsible for attacks on the health structures over the last year. These are the NATO-led coalition, Saudi-led coalition attacking Yemen and Russia-backed coalition in Syria.”She further said, “Our calls for independent investigation into these attacks have gone unheeded. Perpetrators cannot be investigators, judges or jury. Medicine should not be a deadly occupation and patients should not be attacked or slaughtered in bed.”2014 – 338 attacks in 19 countries2015 – 256 attacks in 16 countriesTotal – 594 attacksTen countries that reported most attacks on healthcare -Syrian Arab Republic – 228West bank and Gaza Strip – 53Iraq – 43Pakistan – 43Libya – 33Ukraine – 32Central African Republic – 30Yemen – 22Sudan – 20Afghanistan – 10

Integrationist historians caught between Hindutva activists and non-nationalist academia

Bhagat Singh became one of my heroes when I was a teenager. Bipan Chandra introduced me to him – as a nationalist, an intellectual, a courageous hero of India’s freedom struggle.

In fact, Professor Bipan Chandra’s modern history textbook, which I studied in Class VIII, gave me a fascinating sense of how the Republic of India and its ideals came about. He introduced me to Ram Mohan Roy and Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, as well as to Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and Henry Derozio.

Bipan Chandra wrote a history of inclusiveness, of integration, of social reform, of the formation of modern India. Subtly, in the corners of the minds and hearts of young people, that history shaped patriotism, a commitment to an India that nourished, cherished and embraced.

It is perhaps only natural that historians of an integrating, inclusive India are getting short shrift in a time when the divisive politics of Hindutva is on the ascendant. But this is extremely sad, for the recent attacks on Bipan Chandra and other integrationist historians could grievously injure the Indian republic.

Bhagat Singh. PTIBhagat Singh. PTI

Bhagat Singh. PTI

Chandra has been accused of describing Bhagat Singh as a terrorist. This is plainly mala fide. In fact, Chandra contributed hugely to valorising Bhagat Singh. In his later work (2006), Chandra wrote that `Bhagat Singh was not only one of India’s greatest freedom fighters and revolutionary socialists, but also one of its early Marxist thinkers and ideologues.’

Even when he and his co-authors used the term `revolutionary terrorist’ in an earlier work, they made it clear that they used it without any pejorative intent, and only because there was no obvious alternative to adequately describe Bhagat Singh’s methods.

In October 2007, Chandra gave a clarion call for the word `terrorist’ to be changed. `It was a word of praise then and was used to distinguish Bhagat Singh from the other streams of freedom struggle. But the word terrorism has assumed a very different meaning now. I would not like it to be used now,’ he told The Times of India.

The fact that, despite all this being on the public record, his provisional use of the word in 1988 has nevertheless been used to attack Chandra and his co-authors suggests that the intent is malicious. The most dangerous aspect of this in the long term is that, in attacking integrationist nationalist historians, Hindutva communalists could undermine the integration that has been achieved since the 19th century across the axes of language, caste, sect and religion.

Perhaps the saddest part of the intellectual war that is going on is that the attack against integrative nationalism by the Hindutva-based alternative is drawing its power and ammunition from intellectual streams that question nationalism entirely. The attack against Professor Chandra surely stems from the crisis that enveloped JNU after anti-India slogans were raised there on 9 February.

Chandra is closely identified with JNU, for he was one of the University’s founding professors. He retired as professor emeritus – and was also designated a national professor.

It is tragic that integrationist historians such as Chandra’s successors are caught in a cleft stick. On the one hand, Hindutva ideologues are determined to wrest the narrative of Indian nationalism from them. On the other, non-nationalist streams of scholarship often disparage them even more. The latter have greater salience, if only because streams of scholarship associated with post-modernism have been enthusiastically cheered in the academically dominant West. By contrast, academia generally considers Hindutva communal and xenophobic – and disparages nationalism as statist and passé.

Driven most often by altruism, schools of historiography such as subaltern studies have done valuable work to research the histories of tribal, caste and other groups that may otherwise have been ignored or subsumed in larger narratives. In so doing, some of them have at times supported, either openly or tangentially, movements that critique India’s unity as oppressive for subaltern groups.

They must respect the thin line between highlighting oppressive policies and undermining the constitutionally established system. Recent events in several countries have demonstrated the terrible consequences of weakening a system, even a flawed one.

On the other hand, those who are uneasy about such academic work should see that it adds vital layers and dimensions to our understanding of our country. It presents perspectives from which the project of nation-building can usefully be questioned, analyzed and corrected. It can help us to focus on and validate dimensions of society within the constitutionally established republic in order to minimize threats to the vision of the constitution.

Even though such schools of scholarship have often disparaged what I have called integrationist historiography the most, integrationist historians who worked closely with Chandra took the forefront in defence of those who gave space to Kashmiri agitators at JNU on 9 February – on the ground that, even if the slogans raised were objectionable, it was a University matter that ought to have been dealt with within the University rather than by police, politics and a high-pitched media trial.

It is for that courage to defend principles that they are paying a price – and Professor Chandra is being posthumously attacked. The ruling establishment has seized the opportunity to set upon them with vigour since they have in the past criticized the RSS sharply – not only for communal thrusts that undermine the integrationist project, but over RSS leaders’ timidity during the freedom struggle.

This is a sad and sorry spectacle. For it weakens the country. Nation-building is a constant, relentless process. It is a journey – a difficult one. In the Indian context, it is a journey of a vast and variegated caravan. To carry along all those who participate in this caravan is a tough task. Fellow-feeling and sensitivity are vital.

Attacking and pulling down sections of the caravan slows down and unsettles the entire caravan, and leaves it vulnerable to attack and to dissipation. National leaders must ensure that this does not happen, not try to make it happen.

Iran probes Pakistan’s claim on arrest of alleged Indian ‘spy’

Iran is investigating whether an alleged Indian ‘spy’ arrested last month in Pakistan’s troubled Balochistan province crossed the border illegally or was picked up from its soil, according to a media report here.”Iranian authorities have directly and indirectly conveyed to Pakistan that they were investigating whether or not Kulbhushan jadhav crossed into Pakistan illegally,” The Express Tribune reported, citing top government sources.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Yadav, who was reportedly arrested in Balochistan after he entered from Iran, has been accused by Pakistan of planning “subversive activities” in the country. Pakistan Army had also released a “confessional video” of Yadav, who said he was a serving Indian Navy officer. India has acknowledged Yadav as a retired Indian Navy officer, but denied the allegation that he was in any way connected to the government. India, which has already claimed Yadav was picked up from the Iranian soil, is putting pressure on the Islamic Republic to register a case against Pakistani agencies, the paper said. India is also seeking to enlist support of the US, the UK and France to convince Iran to go by its claim that Yadav was kidnapped from the Iranian soil, it said, quoting sources.Pakistan Army chief Gen Raheel Sharif also took up the matter with Iranian President Hassan Rowhani during the latter s recent visit to Islamabad, the report said. Iran has asked for the exact timing of Yadav’s arrest which was readily provided, according to sources.The Islamic Republic suspected Yadav had been missing for a few months and not since March 3 when Pakistan claimed he was arrested, the paper added.

Why should only men be allowed to pray before a deity? Bombay HC backs plea to let women enter Shani Shingnapur temple

No law prevents women from entering a place of worship and if men were allowed, then women too should be permitted, the Bombay High Court observed on Wednesday while stating that any temple or person imposing such restriction could face a six month jail term under a Maharashtra law.

The observations were made by a division bench of Chief Justice DH Waghela and Justice MS Sonak during the hearing of a public interest litigation by senior advocate Nilima Vartak and activist Vidya Bal, challenging the prohibition of entry of women in the Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra.

“There is no law that prevents entry of women in any place. If you allow men then you should allow women also. If a male can go and pray before the deity then why not women? It is the state government’s duty to protect the rights of women,” Chief Justice Waghela said on Wednesday.

Shani Shinganarpur temple. Image courtesy: shanishinganapur.comShani Shinganarpur temple. Image courtesy: shanishinganapur.com

Shani Shinganarpur temple. Image courtesy: shanishinganapur.com

“If it is the sanctity of the deity that you are worried about then let the government make such a statement. Under the Maharashtra Hindu Place of Worship (Entry Authorisation) Act, 1956, if any temple or person prohibits any person from entering a temple then he or she faces a six-month imprisonment,” the court said.

The court also said that the government should give wide publicity to the Act and issue circulars, informing the general public at large about the Act and its provisions.

The court directed government pleader Abhinandan Vagyani to take instructions and make a statement on Friday (1 April), on whether or not it will ensure that women will be allowed to enter the temple.

The petition seeks the entry of women not just into the temple, but also inside its sanctum sanctorum.

The petition says that the prohibition is arbitrary, illegal and in violation of fundamental rights of citizens.

The Shani Shingnapur temple is located in the Shingnapur village in Ahmednagar. The unique open temple has no walls or roof. A self-emerged (svayambhu) five-foot-high black stone stands on a platform and is worshipped as Lord Shanidev.

The temple platform stands in the centre of the small village, also known as Sonai and attracts millions of tourists and devotees from across the country and abroad. However, barring the temple priests, no one is permitted to climb the nine steps up to the actual stone idol that represents the deity. Everybody must only offer prayers from below the platform, said a temple trustee Prafull N Surpuriya.

The Indian Express reports that only men who donate a certain amount of money can access the platform. Women however are not allowed even this privilege.

On 26 January, around 1,500 activists of Bhumata Ranragini Brigade threatened to storm the temple in order to protest this discrimination but were prevented from going to the village, nearly 100 kms away. The activists led by Trupti Desai, and joined by a few men, entered Ahmednagar district in a convoy of around 50 vehicles on their way to the temple, but were stopped by police near Supa.

After a brief argument and jostling with police, many women squatted or lay on the road shouting slogans condemning the police action and calling it a ‘Black Day’ on the occasion of India’s Republic Day when the constitution, granting equal rights to men and women, came into force.

Later, police detained a few of the activists, including Desai (she was later released) while the others vowed they would not leave the place without offering prayers at the temple’s sanctum sanctorum.

“The manner in which police behaved with us is objectionable… We were going peacefully to exercise our right of offering prayers… They are stopping us from going to a temple which is a place of worship. The country is celebrating Republic Day… for us it’s a ‘black day,’ but we will go to the temple,” Desai told media persons.

Their protest launched a nationwide debate with eminent personalities joining in. Art of Living (AoL) founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar suggested two models to overcome the centuries-old taboo. “The Shani temple committee can adopt the Kashi Vishwanath temple model where everyone is allowed to enter or the Tirupati model where only the priest is allowed inside the sanctum sanctorum,” he said in a statement.

The matter reached Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and he tweeted in support of the activists, saying, “Indian culture and Hindu religion gives women have the right to pray. A change in yesterday’s traditions is our culture. Discrimination in praying is not in our culture. The temple authorities should resolve the issue through a dialogue,” according to NDTV.

With inputs from agencies

Budget Session of Parliament: Congress takes credit for passage of several bills, remains non-committal on GST

Congress took credit for the passage of several bills in the Budget session so far but struck a cautious note on government’s claim that the much delayed GST bill would be passed in the second phase of the Parliament session.”We will cross the bridge, when we come to it,” Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said at a joint press conference he addressed with M Veerappa Moily a day after the conclusion of the first part of the Budget session. Asked about Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu expressing confidence that the key GST bill would be passed in the second phase, he said the government has so far not talked to the opposition on taking up the bill.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Insisting that such bills are first taken up by the government with opposition and other political parties in the Business Advisory Committees of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, he said the GST was not brought up there.Azad replied in a similar vein when asked about Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s statement that it was difficult to accept Congress’ demand to cap GST rate in the pending Constitution Amendment bill.Seeking to take credit for passage of several bills, Moily said, “Rajya Sabha functioned at 129 per cent of the scheduled time and Lok Sabha at 120 per cent. This is in contrast to the performance of the Opposition led by BJP during UPA-II, when the House wasn’t allowed to function.” Azad said it was on the insistence of Congress, and not the government, there were extra sittings in Parliament. “Without the cooperation of Congress, no legislation would have been passed in the Rajya Sabha,” he said underlining that the government lacked majority in the Upper House.The Leader of the Opposition insisted that the amendments passed in the Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address and Aadhaar Bill had sent a “strong message” to the government to “not take the Rajya Sabha lightly.”He claimed the Prime Minister had refused to answer “any of the issues” that were raised by the Opposition, including the Pathankot terror attack, farmers suffering due to unseasonal rains, black money, and the Vijay Mallya issue.”Sadly, the Prime Minister did not respond to any of these questions.” Attacking the government on its claim of streamlining defence purchases, Azad said, “The government didn’t streamline defence procurement, but ended it”. Citing an example, he said during the UPA rule, it was decided to go in for 126 Rafale fighter jets with the deal including transfer of technology from France.”We were to receive 18 jets and 108 jets were to be manufactured by HAL. This was Make in India. But, the PM and his new government scrapped the deal. Instead they decided to buy 36 readymade jets,” he said.Noting that this deal was set to be signed during the Republic Day visit of French President Francois Hollande, he said, but it has been three months, and there is still “no deal”.

Marshall Islands moves ICJ against India over nuclear issue

Marshall Islands on Sunday moved the UN’s International Court of Justice in The Hague against India accusing it of failing to halt the nuclear arms race, evoking a sharp reaction from India which has written to the ICJ saying NPT provisions cannot be extended to it as a legal obligation.The tiny South Pacific state began legal proceedings against India at the United Nations’ highest court, as part of cases against three of the world’s nuclear powers — India, Pakistan and the UK — in a bid to infuse new life into disarmament negotiations.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The Republic of the Marshall Islands has instituted proceedings at the International Court of Justice against all nuclear weapon states, including India, contending breach of customary law obligations on nuclear disarmament flowing from Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).”Government believes that given our consistent and principled position on the NPT, to which India is not a party to, NPT provisions cannot be extended to India as a legal obligation. India has written to the ICJ denying this contention and reiterating India’s position of principle on nuclear disarmament,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in New Delhi.Hearings of the ICJ in this regard are to take place shortly, he added. The Marshall Islands filed cases against all nine nations that have declared or are believed to possess nuclear weapons — the US, Russia, the UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea. But only the cases against the UK, India and Pakistan got to this preliminary stage as the other six declined to take part, according to the Marshall Islands’ legal team.Cases against Pakistan and Britain will start tomorrow and Wednesday respectively.

Government has approached Japan, Russia, UK for documents on Netaji

India has approached several countries, including Japan, Russia and the UK, for handing over of documents relating to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and some of them have responded, Rajya Sabha was told today.Minister of State for Home Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary said the issue of handing over documents relating to Netaji had been taken up with governments of Austria, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. “Responses from the governments of Russian Federation, Federal Republic of Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom have been received. Responses of Austria, Republic of Italy and the USA are awaited,” he said in a written reply.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Chaudhary said the government has declassified all the available classified files and transferred these files to National Archives of India for permanent retention. All declassified files pertaining to Netaji received in the National Archive are first subjected to preliminary conservation and digitisation, before being released in public domain.

Watch: AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan makes alleged ‘hate speech’ against Modi govt

In an unverified video that has surfaced online, AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan from Delhi’s Okhla constituency is seen making alleged hate speech against the Modi government.In the video that is dated on February 16, the MLA can be heard abusing the Modi government for ‘wrongfully arresting Muslim cleric Maulana Mufti Abdus Sami Qasmi’.He is further heard saying, “If you people decide to gherao home minister’s house…Delhi has a huge Muslim population. If you start doing it, then I can assure you that the government does not have that much courage to touch your children.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He tells the crowd to be join the protests against the government which he is going to launch soon.About Maulana Qasmi’s case: Maulana Qasmi was arrested last month, accused of being the ideologue of caliphate, a mission taken up by the 15 ISIS suspects apprehended ahead of Republic Day celebrations. Maulana Qasim was arrested from Hardoi district in Uttar Pradesh.

DGP meet: PM wants police to be active in community programmes

Joining community campaigns like Pulse Polio drive, becoming active on social media and an all-woman band are some of the new initiatives that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has suggested for the police forces in the country.The ideas were floated and discussed by Modi with the top police brass of the country during the three-day Directors General of Police and Inspectors General conference held in Gujarat’s Rann of Kutch in December last year. According to an action blueprint prepared by these departments, a number of police and central armed police forces have begun work in this direction and close to a dozen committees have been formed in their respective organisations to implement the suggestions by the middle of this year.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The blueprint, accessed by PTI, states that police forces have been asked to work in the direction of “bridging the gap” between them and society by active participation in community programmes and special drives like Pulse Polio immunisation campaign and ensuring civic amenities in deprived areas. Police personnel have been asked to undertake special programmes to find out and “push” children to go to school and honour the meritorious students in these institutions and colleges in their respective police ‘thana’ or jurisdiction limits.It has been decided during the Kutch sessions that the families of the toppers and brilliant students should also be accorded public receptions in the campuses of these forces which will help build a more people-friendly image of the forces. In order to honour the martyrs, the Prime Minister has suggested, that lecture sessions about their brave exploits should be conducted ever year on October 31, National Police Commemoration Day, in order to inspire the younger generation to join these forces and build a strong character.Winners of elocution and debate contests will also be awarded with police mementos. The Prime Minister, according to the blueprint, has also asked these forces to have an all-woman band which will prove to be a testimony of their commitment to women empowerment. The forces and departments have also been asked to actively register their presence in social media like opening official Twitter and Facebook accounts in order to combat attempts by nefarious minds to create trouble and circulate rumours. Modi, who has taken a special initiative to propagate Yoga and worked to get declared July 21 as the International Yoga Day last year, has also desired to have “in-house” Yoga training capabilities in these forces. The men in ‘khaki’ have also been asked to prepare an Android-based application for both public and personal use so that more and more people can be in touch with them. It has also been advised, the blueprint said, that state police forces should prepare fresh records for enrolling ‘Police Mitra’ volunteers so that people with “vested interests” do not get into this public-public partnership initiative established in the country, mostly at the local police station level.These volunteers are used by the police in conduct of social, public and community programmes after giving them basic training in conduct of such large-scale events. In order to enhance the efficiency of police forces in their core work area of conducting criminal investigations and upkeep of law and order, the PM has suggested that police officers with 5-10 years of service experience should “train at least 100 sub-ordinates for 100 hours” on latest technologies and techniques in conducting probes and in the intelligent study of crime trends in general and specifically with a focus of their area.Modi, after these discussions with the DGsP and IGPs last year, had also made it a point to send personal SMS-based messages to over 18 lakh police personnel on the occasion of Republic Day.

PM Modi to review International City Parade at IFR on Sunday

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be the chief guest at the International City Parade to be held in Vizag on Sunday on the lines of the Republic Day Parade, as part of the ongoing International Fleet Review 2016.The picturesque Ramakrishna Beach here will witness two events — Operational Demonstration and International City Parade — tomorrow evening, a defence release said. The 30-minute long Operational Demonstration will showcase multidimensional operational tasks undertaken by the various arms of the Indian Navy. Several warships, submarines, aircraft as well as Marine Commandos will present an action-packed display of the capabilities of the Indian Navy.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The demonstration will culminate with the address by Prime Minister, who would also release a book on ‘Maritime Heritage’ during the event. This event will be followed by the International City Parade to be held between 5.30 PM and 7 PM.”The marching contingents of Army, Air Force, Andhra Pradesh Police, NCC, foreign navies and marching bands from the three services and visiting countries will participate in the parade along with the host, the Indian Navy,” the release added. A hornpipe dance will be performed by the Sea Cadet Corps and tableaux will also be presented. The parade will be conducted after sunset, which will be followed by illumination of ships, pyrotechnics culminating with a light and sound show, it added.The parade will end with a reception hosted by Chief of the Naval Staff R K Dhowan in honour of the Prime Minister. “The R K Beach road, which will be decked up for the show, will have a semi-formal festive parade, with each participating foreign navy also showcasing its cultural heritage and marching under their respective national colours,” the release said.Meanwhile, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar will also inaugurate a two-day maritime conference here as part of IFR. “Parrikar will be the chief guest and deliver the keynote address at the inaugural session of the conference,” the defence release said.

Shani temple row: Ex-Union minister Balasaheb Vikhe Patil says he went to ‘chauthara’ with wife

Amid a high-voltage stir against gender bias at Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra, former Union minister Balasaheb Vikhe Patil on Saturday claimed he had visited the ‘chauthara’ (platform) at the temple along with his wife. Vikhe Patil’s comments came on a day when the Ahmednagar district administration said it had invited the protesters and the shrine authorities to discuss the centuries-old ban on female devotees entering the sacred platform. “Women should be freely allowed to go to the chauthara. I have welcomed (Maharashtra) Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ statement that women should be allowed (to offer prayers). In fact, when I got married, I went to the ‘chauthara’ with my wife and father,” Vikhe Patil told reporters at Shirdi. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”All aged people know this. They have taken their daughters and daughters-in-law along with them (to the chauthara). Now, something new has come which is not right. Actually, this dispute is wrong,” he said.On January 26, at least 400 women volunteers, mainly hailing from Pune, led by Trupti Desai of Bhumata Brigade made an unsuccessful attempt to storm the ‘chauthara’ of the temple when police stopped the marchers at Supa village, 70 km from the shrine. The marchers were detained there for a few hours before being released and sent back to Pune on buses. The women protested against the police action and raised slogans. They had even laid down on the road, crying “it is a black day for women on Republic Day”.As a showdown erupted, Fadnavis had favoured a dialogue between temple authorities and activists to find a way out over the ban on entry of women into the inner sanctum of the shrine, maintaining that women have a right to pray. “Indian culture and Hindu religion gives women the right to pray. A change in yesterday’s traditions is our culture.Discrimination in praying is not in our culture. The temple authorities should resolve the issue through dialogue,” he had said.

DGCA fumes over Sonu Nigam’s mid-air ‘concert’; Jet Airways cabin crew suspended

Passengers may be delighted when celebrities oblige to entertain them on flights, but for the regulatory bodies for aviation, the idea is certainly a big no-no. The crew members of a Jet Airways flight who allowed popular playback singer Sonu Nigam to sing using the airline’s announcing system, have now been suspended. On January 4, passengers on a Jet Airways chartered plane requested Sonu Nigam, who was in the same flight, to sing for them. The singer agreed to their request and the airhostesses too obliged. Nigam performed two songs ‘Do pal ruka’ from Yash Raj Films’ Veer Zaara and ‘Panchhi nadiya’ from Abhishek Bachchan’s Refugee much to the joy of passengers who joined in. The video of Nigam’s impromptu mid-air concert were posted by some passengers on social media and had gone viral.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, the episode has not turned not well for the crew members. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has suspended five Jet Airways airhostesses for allowing a passenger to take over the carrier’s in-flight announcement system, according to a report in a leading daily.
ALSO READ Watch: Sonu Nigam surprises fellow travellers with a mid-air concert”All cabin crew on the flight have been taken off flight duty for enquiry and corrective training to reinforce strict adherence to operating procedures,” a statement by the carrier said. It has also said that such ‘misuse’ of in-flight announcement system is disallowed in the future.A similar incident had happened to another private airline when it made crew members in some of its flights dance to a Bollywood song ‘Balam Pichkari’ on Holi.The DGCA issued a show cause notice to the carrier and asked why its licence should not be suspended. It said that such acts by the cabin crew distracts other crew members in the flight affecting their vigilance. It also said that the dancing activity may have affected aircraft’s centre of gravity during the flight and could have created turbulence. It also added that the airline may have led the passengers to become unruly and that the carrier broke several safety regulations.However, Indian passengers have reportedly said that international carriers allow their crew to sing and dance. They even say that one such carrier in its flight from and to India has the crew dancing to Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘Om Shanti Om’ on Republic Day and Independence Day.

No Sikh regiment in Republic Day parade: SAD to raise issue in Parliament

Shiromani Akali Dal on Monday said it will raise the issue of the absence of a Sikh regiment contingent in this year’s Republic Day parade in the coming session of Parliament.SAD Secretary General and Rajya Sabha member Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa told reporters.The absence of a Sikh regiment contingent at the Republic Day parade where French President Francois Hollande was the chief guest, was a setback to the struggle of Sikhs who have been fighting for their rights in France. He said that the issue would be raised in the coming session of Parliament.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday in this regard.Badal had described the absence of the Sikh regiment as “sad and regrettable” while Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh termed it as a “grave omission”.

Arunachal Pradesh crisis: I am nobody’s agent, says Governor Rajkhowa

Arunachal Pradesh Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa on Monday refuted allegations that he used Raj Bhawan as headquarters of BJP and RSS and said he was working under the ambit of the Constitution.”I am a non-political person and never used Raj Bhawan as the office of political parties and have no inclination towards any political parties. I am working under the ambit of the Constitution,” he told newsmen.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I am nobody’s agent,” he said when asked to comment on Congress’s accusation against him that he was biased.Stating that central rule in the state, which was clamped on Republic Day, was for a temporary period, Rajkhowa said the Assembly was not dissolved but was under suspended animation which could be withdrawn at any point of time by the President when the situation became normal.”Sooner or later, a democratically elected government will be there… However, until then law and order has to be maintained effectively at all costs and also we have to ensure good governance and contain the menace of corruption,” he said.When his attention was drawn to the fact that there were several cases regarding the state in Supreme Court, the Governor said everybody including him has to abide by the verdict of the apex court.”There should be a stable government in the state but not like the one for the past several months,” Rajkhowa said and appealed to political parties for their “fullest cooperation” and to have patience.He said all central funds would be distributed equitably and rationally without discrimination.Rajkhowa denied that he had cited cow slaughter as one of the reasons for breakdown in law and order in his recommendation letter to the Centre for promulgation of President’s rule in the state as reported in a section of the media and said he had mentioned ‘mithun slaughter’ in his report.”Media has misquoted the report. I have never mentioned cow slaughter in my report. Even Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju had clarified the matter,” he said.

RIP General KV Krishna Rao

General KV Krishna Rao (retired), who donned many critical mantles for India politically, besides being the 14th Chief of Indian Army, breathed his last here on Saturday, at the age of 92. He passed away at the Army Research and Referral hospital following a cardiac arrest, the Army said in a statement.The officer, who figures in the famous frame of the 1971 War, in which Pakistani Lieutenant General Niazi surrendered to Lieutenant General JS Aurora, is also hailed as having dexterously dealt with political upheavals in Jammu and Kashmir as the state’s governor where he ensured Parliament and state assembly elections under his tenure.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He had two tenures as governor in J&K during the turbulent phase of the beginning of miltancy — 1989-90 and then between 1993-1998. In 1995, he survived a series of bomb explosion during his Republic Day speech at Jammu.It was during his first tenure as Governor in Jammu and Kashmir, that militancy reared its head again. He was removed and the reins were handed over to Jagmohan. But it it to his credit that three years later, when he returned as governor in 1993, he is effectively broke the back of militancy.The celebrated Army officer was commissioned in the Indian Army in 1942 — which was the first time Indians were allowed as officers – and had many feats credited to him as a military commander. He is considered the father of the notable Operation Falcon by the Indian Army on the Sino-Indian border and also participated in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. His division was instrumental in capturing of the Sylhet Area and the liberation of North East Bangladesh. He was awarded the Param Vishist Seva Medal for his role in the Bangladesh war.As a young officer, he served in Burma, North West Frontier and Baluchistan during the Second World War.General Rao retired as Chief of the Army Staff and Chairman Chiefs of Staff in 1983.Remembering Rao, Strategic Affairs expert Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak (retd) said that his death was “a big loss, as he was not just a military commander but an able administrator”.”Apart from role as the army chief, he had a distinguished career as the governor of turbulent Jammu and Kashmir. He managed to rule the state very skilfully and successfully and unlike other governors, gelled well and was popular with Kashmiris,” Kak said.Former military secretary and former commander of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps of the Indian Army, Lieutenant General Syed Ata Hasnain (retd) remembers Rao fondly as someone he knew personally.”My father (who was also a Major General) and he worked together. My son and his son grew up together. I have watched him from close quarters and can proudly say that he was among the finest officers that the Indian Army has had. He was extremely far-sighted as a military man and not a tactical operations expert. Perhaps, this was the trait that led him to a successful tenure as governor in Jammu and Kashmir.”Rao also served as governor of Nagaland, Manipur and Tripura in June 1984 where he is credited with checking insurgency.

President Mukherjee brings back the buggy for Beating the Retreat

The historic Presidential buggy on Friday made a comeback, after a year’s break, with President Pranab Mukherjee arriving in it to attend the Beating the Retreat ceremony.Three decades after its discontinuation at public functions due to security reasons, the buggy was used at the ceremony in 2014. However, last year the President had arrived in his limousine. Mukherjee was cheered as the wheels of the open gold-plated carriage rolled down the Raisina hill, making its way past hundreds of spectators who gathered to witness the colourful event.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mukherjee, the chief guest of the function and the Supreme Commander of the armed forces, reciprocated the greetings with his customary wave at the audience. He was received by Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chiefs of the three forces.The armoured Limousine, followed the buggy to its path to Vijay Chowk from Rashtrapati Bhavan accompanied by the President’s Bodyguards, a regiment with horses carrying out ceremonial duties for the President.The six-horse driven carriage was used by the Viceroy during the British rule. After Independence, it has remained with the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The Beating the Retreat ceremony which takes place on Vijay Chowk on Rajpath on January 29, marks the end of Republic Day celebrations.Almost 32 years ago, former President late Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed had used the buggy to reach the exit gate of Rashtrapati Bhavan from where he used to travel in car to attend the ceremony. An open horse-driven buggy was seen as a security threat by security agencies then, following which the traditional carriage was replaced by bullet-proof cars.

Everest climber solemnises marriage by reading Constitution preamble on Republic Day

Setting an example for the society where caste is given the prime preference when one gets married, an Everest climber from Maharashtra has solemnised his marriage by reading the preamble to the Constitution of India.Anand Bansode, who holds the record of playing the national anthem on the guitar at a height of 6,300 meter above sea-level at Camp 2 of Mount Everest, got married to his friend Akshaya Patil from Ahmednagar on the 67th Republic day.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Anand and Akshaya registered their marriage by reading the preamble to the Indian Constitution in presence children from various deprived sections of the society at Solapur’s Sanskar Sanjivani Foundation. Akshaya has studied MSC in Physics and also writes on various topics. She is soon going to publish her book. The climber, Anand, also shared pictures of their marriage on Facebook and wrote, “I am happy to begin the new journey of my life by reading the preamble constitution”, said Anand, adding, “We should forget all differences and should follow the Indian religion.” Expressing her happiness, Akshaya said, ” It is a dream of almost all women that their marriage should be a grand celebration, but it gives me immense satisfaction that I have got married in presence of children from the deprived section of the society.”She also praised her partner and said that one needs to have a greater perspective to understand the thought process of a person like Anand, who has climbed various mountains.

Five suspected terrorists who fled from Odisha detained in Andhra Pradesh

Five suspected terrorists who fled from a hotel in Bhubaneswar after being asked to produce identity proofs on Republic Day eve were detained in Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday.After being alerted by Odisha, its Andhra Pradesh counterpart intercepted a vehicle with Delhi registration number and nabbed the five persons, including two women.”The persons who had been detained by Visakhapatnam police were the suspected terrorists who had fled from Odisha on the night of January 25,” IG Crime Branch Arun Bothra said in Bhubaneswar.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bothra said CCTV footages in the hotel and Girisola check gate in Odisha-Andhra Pradesh border matched with the persons and the vehicle carrying them.”The CCTV footage indicates that the car used by the four suspected terrorists has crossed the check gate at Girisola bordering Andhra Pradesh. The vehicle bearing the same Delhi registration number crossed the check gate on the night of January 25, about seven hours after being sighted here,” a police officer involved in the investigation said earlier.Meanwhile, all the five have Iranians passports and not Iraqi ones, he said.The manager of the hotel in which one of the suspects had entered had told the police that the person identified himself as an Iraqi national.Bothra, who heads the Special Task Force (STF) probing the incident, said the manager might have heard it wrong as Iraq and Iran sound quite similar.”They had hired a car from a travel agent in Delhi. Our men went to that travel agent and found that the owner of the car is a jewellery shop,” Bothra said.It appears the owner of jewellery shop had given the vehicle to the travel agent on hire.Noting that all the five have been detained and not arrested, Bothra said an STF team will go to Visakhapatnam tomorrow to ascertain the purpose of their visit to Odisha and why they fled from the hotel when identity proof was sought.On whether the five would be brought to Bhubaneswar, he said, that would be decided depending on the situation.If it is found that they are clean, they will not be arrested and there will be no question of bringing them here, the IG said.The state government on Tuesday sounded high alert after the disappearance of the four men.The police have released CCTV grabs of the vehicle and one of the four suspected persons last evening and sought public help to nab them.

Centre cancels Republic Day mushaira for the first time since 1950

The tussle between the Centre and Delhi’s AAP government, has consumed an annual iconic event, the Republic Day Mushaira (poetry recitation) in the historic Red Fort, part of the Capital’s tradition for the past 60 years.The Mushaira was called off, following the Central government denying permission citing security concerns.This is the first time that the event has been called off, since it was revived by India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1950.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>For centuries Mughal Emperors used to preside over the annual poetry recitation in the settings of Diwan-e-Aam, inviting the general public to hear leading poets of the times. But it was stopped, when the British took over Red Fort in 1857, following the failed First War of Independence. When Nehru revived the tradition, in 1950, it was held in the month of February. But a year later, it was coincided with the celebrations of Republic Day.However a decade ago, citing security concerns, it was moved to January 17. This year however it has been called off completely, since the Ministry of Defence is holding an event at the Red Fort.While the organiser, the Delhi government’s Urdu Academy, blames the Central government, many said that mismanagement by Delhi’s AAP government was responsible for the cancellation of the event. Others call it another attempt by the BJP government to break tradition. “This is not the first time that the government has tried to distort facts. It has been doing so with the education curriculum, Urdu language and with Ambedkar’s theory,” said Abdul Hameed Noumani, secretary of Jamat Ulema-e- Hind. Noumani also questions the intention of the state government which is otherwise very aggressive in dealing with the Centre. “We did not hear any kind of protest from the Delhi government for the Mushaira being called off,” he said.Former three-term vice chairman of Urdu Academy, Professor Akhtarul Wasey, alleges that the Centre is unnecessarily raising security issues. “This government can provide security to the entire city and the massive Republic Day event, but not to a handful of poets and poetry lovers,” he told dna. Wasey is also a former professor of Jamia Milia Islamia. The professor also alleges that this is an attempt by the government to identify a particular community with acts of violence and terrorism. “The government is attempting to segregate Muslims from the rest,” added the professor.Another former member of the academy blames the poor managerial skills of academy intellectuals for the failure. “The AAP government has no sensitivity towards the arts and culture and no vision whatsoever for theacademy. They are just destroying the identity of the place,” said Anis Azmi, former member of the academy.The Delhi government, however, says that it will hold the Mushaira on February 15 and 16. The days coincide with the birth anniversary of famous Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib. “We were not given the venue because it is was booked by the Ministry of Defence till January 30, so we have shifted the dates,” said Kapil Mishra, Delhi government culture minister. The argument has, however, not gone down well with poetry lovers. “This is gradual distortion of cultural heritage and identity. Celebrating Ghalib’s birthday and Republic Day cannot coincide,” added Azmi.

Suspected terrorists who fled from Odisha detained in Vishakhapatnam

Five suspected terrorists who fled from a hotel in Bhubaneswar after being asked to produce identity proofs on Republic Day eve were detained in Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday.After being alerted by Odisha, its Andhra Pradesh counterpart intercepted a vehicle with Delhi registration number and nabbed the five persons, including two women.”The persons who had been detained by Visakhapatnam police were the suspected terrorists who had fled from Odisha on the night of January 25,” IG Crime Branch Arun Bothra said in Bhubaneswar.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bothra said CCTV footages in the hotel and Girisola check gate in Odisha-Andhra Pradesh border matched with the persons and the vehicle carrying them.”The CCTV footage indicates that the car used by the four suspected terrorists has crossed the check gate at Girisola bordering Andhra Pradesh. The vehicle bearing the same Delhi registration number crossed the check gate on the night of January 25, about seven hours after being sighted here,” a police officer involved in the investigation said earlier.Meanwhile, all the five have Iranians passports and not Iraqi ones, he said. The manager of the hotel in which one of the suspects had entered had told the police that the person identified himself as an Iraqi national. Bothra, who heads the Special Task Force (STF) probing the incident, said the manager might have heard it wrong as Iraq and Iran sound quite similar.”They had hired a car from a travel agent in Delhi. Our men went to that travel agent and found that the owner of the car is a jewellery shop,” Bothra said. It appears the owner of jewellery shop had given the vehicle to the travel agent on hire.Noting that all the five have been detained and not arrested, Bothra said an STF team will go to Visakhapatnam tomorrow to ascertain the purpose of their visit to Odisha and why they fled from the hotel when identity proof was sought.On whether the five would be brought to Bhubaneswar, he said, that would be decided depending on the situation. If it is found that they are clean, they will not be arrested and there will be no question of bringing them here, the IG said.The state government on Tuesday sounded high alert after the disappearance of the four men. The police have released CCTV grabs of the vehicle and one of the four suspected persons last evening and sought public help to nab them.

Jet Airways Kathmandu flight evacuated, second time this week | Reuters

NEW DELHI Passengers on a Kathmandu-bound aircraft of Jet Airways were evacuated minutes before take-off from New Delhi on Wednesday due to a security alert, the second such incident this week on the same flight.

The plane’s doors were closed and it was ready for take-off when the alert was raised, according to a Jet Airways spokesman. All 122 passengers and seven crew members were asked to leave the plane and security agencies were investigating.

The incident comes two days after the same Jet Airways’ Delhi-Kathmandu 9W 260 flight was delayed due to a security scare, but investigations later found nothing unusual.

“It is the same flight. This is something that doesn’t happen normally,” a company spokesman said.

Police at Delhi’s international airport were not immediately available for comment on what caused the security scare. Indian media said police received an anonymous call warning bombs were on two aircraft.

The other aircraft, operated by Air India, was also headed to Nepal’s capital Kathmandu. The plane was taken to a bay area and security personnel screened the baggage, the company said on its Twitter account.

In a separate incident, AirAsia India, part-owned by Malaysia’s AirAsia Bhd, said late on Wednesday that it received a specific bomb threat after one of its aircraft landed in Bengaluru from Jaipur.

“In-flight cabin crew spotted the bomb threat in the aircraft after landing,” AirAsia India said in a statement, adding that a search of the aircraft revealed nothing and the aircraft was allowed to resume normal operations.

Security was been beefed up across India this week because of Tuesday’s Republic Day parade, at which French President Francois Hollande was the guest of honour.

(Reporting by Aditya Kalra; Editing by Dominic Evans)

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

Not taking any chances: Indian Air Force shoot down Pakistani balloon

The IAF radar had picked up the unidentified balloon like object moving easterly in Jaisalmer area, sending the authorities into a tizzy. A fighter jet intercepted the object which was found to be balloon of about three meters diameter. “Due to heightened security alert, the balloon was shot down,” Ojha said. No dangerous payload has been found in the balloon shot down on Jan 26, Republic Day by an IAF fighter jet near Barmer, bordering Pakistan, according to defence officials. “On the analysis of the debris, it was established that there was no dangerous payload,” defence spokesperson Lt Col Manish Ojha said. Sources said that it was a private balloon and the possibility of it carrying any spying object is initially ruled out.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The IAF radar had picked up the unidentified balloon like object moving easterly in Jaisalmer area, sending the authorities into a tizzy. A fighter jet intercepted the object which was found to be balloon of about three meters diameter. “Due to heightened security alert, the balloon was shot down,” Ojha said. In May, the police had arrested a pigeon which had strayed over from Pakistan in Punjab’s Pathankot. Pathankot Senior Superintendent of Police Rakesh Kaushal said he suspected that the pigeon had indeed landed on the Indian soil from Pakistan. When asked if the bird had any message attached to it, Kaushal said nothing of that sort had been found. “However, we are conducting investigations,” the officer said, adding pigeon fanciers in the sensitive border area have told the police that Pakistani doves were easily distinguishable from their Indian brethren. Until the investigation gets over, the intruder will cool its heels at the Indian police station on a wing and a prayer.

Day after Republic day, five youngsters arrested for tearing national flag

“Three of the accused, identified as Mustaq Ali (20), Akbar Ali (18) and Firoz Ali (18), were most likely taking some drug and used the fabric of the National Flag after taking it down last evening,” SP Jaipur (Rural) Rameshwar Singh, who interrogated the boys, said on Wednesday. Five youths including two minors allegedly tore the national flag which was unfurled in a government school on Republic Day in Bichoon town, nearly 50 kms from Jaipur, police said on Wednesday.”Three of the accused, identified as Mustaq Ali (20), Akbar Ali (18) and Firoz Ali (18), were most likely taking some drug and used the fabric of the National Flag after taking it down last evening,” SP Jaipur (Rural) Rameshwar Singh, who interrogated the boys, said on Wednesday.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Two minors, aged 13 and 14 years, who were wandering there, also picked up some portion of the flag and damaged it, he said. Acting on information by locals, a case was registered against them under the relevant sections of the Prevention of Insult to National Honour Act 1971 with Phulera police, Additional SP Dudu Sanjay Gupta said. The accused youths were arrested last night, the ASP said, adding the minors were also detained.

President’s rule in Arunachal: Oppn says Constitution ‘murdered’ on Republic Day; SC set to hear challenge

President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday approved the cabinet recommendation to impose central rule in Arunachal Pradesh and keep the state assembly in suspended animation, as Congress, which rules the border state, slammed the move as a “murder of constitution and democracy” on Republic Day. The Supreme Court will hear the Congress challenge petition on Wednesday.

Pranab Mukherjee/ PTIPranab Mukherjee/ PTI

Pranab Mukherjee/ PTI

Arunachal Pradesh has been rocked by a political crisis since 16 December last year when 21 rebel Congress MLAs joined hands with 11 of BJP and two independents to ‘impeach’ Assembly Speaker Nabam Rebia at a makeshift venue, in a move branded as “illegal and unconstitutional” by the Speaker.

The Supreme Court decided to hear on 27 January the Congress plea challenging the Cabinet decision. The petition seeking urgent hearing was mentioned before Chief Justice T S Thakur, at his residence, who directed the matter to be listed for hearing on Wednesday.

“President of India has signed a proclamation under article 356(1) of the constitution, imposing President’s Rule in relation to the state of Arunachal Pradesh and keeping the legislative assembly of the state in suspended animation with effect from January 26,” said a home ministry statement.

“Taking cognisance of the constitutional breakdown that has taken place in the state as reported by the governor of Arunachal Pradesh, the union cabinet in its meeting held on January 24, had recommend to the President to issue such proclamation,” it added.

The Indian Express reports that sources said the President had been advised that the court will “most certainly” examine the controversial role played by Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa, especially his December 9 message to the Arunachal Pradesh legislative assembly.

The Congress slammed the Narendra Modi-led government for rushing to impose President’s rule in the northeastern state, and “disrespecting” the Supreme Court by bypassing it when it was hearing the matter.

The Hindu reports that Congress-led anger against Modi will certainly find echo in Parliament.

“The constitution and democracy have been murdered on this Republic Day. It is an effort by the government to nail federalism. The matter is sub judice and yet the speed with which the cabinet moved and the final decision has been taken is a clear indication that they have no respect for the highest court of the land,” said Congress spokesperson Tom Vadakkan.

“They could have waited for the matter to be settled by the judiciary yet they moved with express speed to ensure President’s rule in a sensitive state. There is no indication of past or present breakdown of law and order. These are signals of imagination manufactured to fine-tune and legitimise horse-trading that was done by a certain sitting minister.

“The matter should have been handled under the spirit of the S.R. Bommai case yet the argument being given that the house was not summoned for six months, but the ground reality is the matter was sub judice in the high court of the state and therefore that statutory requirement was met with,” said Vadakkan, adding the attempt to remove the speaker by the deputy speaker smacks of a larger conspiracy.

“We expect justice from the highest court of the land therefore we would not like to add any comment on a sub judice matter,” he added.

Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Nabam Tuki said that they will fight this battle legally.

“We will seek justice from the Supreme Court. We will fight this battle legally. The matter was sub judice, that’s why we waited for the court’s order. It said not to hold an assembly session. I had a feeling they’ll do this as this was their intention. But we aren’t nervous, we will fight,” Tuki told media persons.

“Point to me even a single questionable law and order situation in Arunachal Pradesh? They can’t, because there is none. Arunachal Pradesh is a peaceful state, you can go and see and give a report,” he added.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also criticised imposition of President’s rule in the state, invoking BJP veteran L.K. Advani’s concern last year about “emergency-like conditions” in the country.

“President Rule in Arunachal Pradesh. Advani ji was right in saying that there are emergency like conditions in the country,” Kejriwal tweeted after the president’s approval was announced.

The president, who had been urged by the Congress not to approve central rule in the state, is said to have discussed the Arunachal situation with Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday.

Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa had on December 9 advanced the date of the convening of the assembly session.

The move was criticized by the Congress, with its leader Kapil Sibal saying the governor should not have acted on a resolution by the Bharatiya Janata Party legislators and two independents.

On January 18, the Supreme Court said it would examine whether Rajkhowa’s decision of advancing the assembly session to December 16 to take up the resolution for removal of Speaker Nabam Rebia was valid or not.


BJP’s rivals politicising Rohith suicide to defame govt: Venkaiah Naidu

Amid the row over suicide by a Dalit research scholar at Hyderabad Central University, Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday alleged that BJP’s political rivals are trying to gain political mileage out of the tragedy instead of addressing the core issue.”When an unfortunate incident happens, instead of condemning it, going into its roots as to why this unfortunate incident happened, why a youth lost his life, how the discrimination is to be eliminated, what are the changes to be made, what changes are to be brought in thinking, what changes are to be brought into the system, making it into a political pilgrimage and making it a tool of vote bank politics (is condemnable), the world is looking at this amazed,” he said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP’s political rivals are trying to gain political capital by trying to “defame” the government when such incidents (like alleged suicide of Rohith Vemula in HCU) happened, he alleged. Taking a dig at Congress, he asked what did “those in power for 50-60 years” do for Dalits. “When 10 or 20 students committed suicide then, had governments intervened, then the situation would not have come to this. Why did it not intervene then? People are asking those who are going on (political) pilgrimages now and making political speeches. But they do not have an answer,” Naidu said.Such parties are only trying to “hurt” the country’s image by “polluting” social atmosphere, he charged. “It is a challenge for us if somebody commits suicide due to caste discrimination. Everybody needs to introspect. All need to focus attention on how to change the system. ‘Sarva Dharma Samabhavana’ is our policy. Our (BJP) slogan is ‘sab ke saath, sab ka vikas’,” he said.Alleging that “political intolerance” is the biggest challenge faced by the country, he said those who lost power have adopted a “4D or 5D” formula to defame the government. “Disrupt-disrupting parliament, Delay-delaying laws, Defame-defaming government, Disinform-spreading misinformation to people,” he said, speaking at the BJP office here during Republic Day celebrations.

Republic Day tableau celebrates BR Ambedkar’s legacy

The legacy of the architect of the Indian Constitution, B R Ambedkar, was celebrated on Tuesday with a special tableau on the occasion of 67th Republic Day.The tableau by the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry had a figurine of Ambedkar holding the Constitution in one hand and the other arm outstretched.Commemorating Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary, the tableau showcased Parliament House, a replica of a grand memorial to him at his birthplace Mhow in MP, and a scene of handing over of the Constitution by him to the first President Rajendra Prasad. It also highlighted the untouchability against which doughtily fought.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>One side of the tableau also showed an image of the 125th year commemorative coin in Ambedkar’s honour, while its back side featured an image of a commemorative postage stamp.The Indian Constitution drafted by the committee chaired by Ambedkar came into effect on January 26, 1950.Earlier in the day, while greeting the people on Republic Day, Prime Minster Narendra Modi paid his tributes to Ambedkar and other framers of the Constitution.

Modi bids warm farewell to Hollande, says France is special

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today bid a warm farewell to French President Francois Hollande who left India after his three-day visit, expressing confidence that their discussions would further deepen the bilateral ties.”Thank you President @fhollande for visiting India & gracing our Republic Day celebrations,” said Modi in a tweet as the French President left the country. “India’s friendship with France is special… Am sure the discussions during President @fhollande’s visit will further deepen our relations,” he said in other tweets. He also tweeted in French language to bid goodbye to Hollande.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>During his visit, Hollande visited Chandigarh and held talks with Modi. The two sides signed 30 pacts, including an MoU for the purchase of 36 French Rafale aircraft even though persisting differences over the pricing of the fighter jet came in the way of final multi-billion dollar deal being concluded. The talks between the two leaders focused on ways to enhance cooperation in counter-terrorism, security, civil nuclear energy and sustainable development.

Student commits suicide at being scolded for not wearing NCC uniform for Republic Day function

An 18-year-old girl student of a private college allegedly committed suicide by hanging herself in her classroom on Tuesday after being ticked off for not wearing the NCC uniform for the Republic day function.Police said that Sulochana, a first year B.A. student at a private arts and Science college in Thanjavur, was very upset over her seniors in NCC reprimanding her for not coming in uniform.Her body has been sent for post mortem, they said.

Military veterans’ tableaux in Republic Day parade for first time

Every year, around 60,000 military personnel hang their boots and join the mainstream civilian life, while continuing their ties with the defence forces. In a first, military veterans had their tableaux on display at the Republic Day Parade, amid their continuing agitation for implementation of One-Rank-One-Pension.The tableaux, which was put out by Directorate of Army Veterans, showcased the role of veterans in nation building. It also conveyed the message that a soldier always tries to contribute to nation building, irrespective of his being in service or not.Every year, around 60,000 military personnel hang their boots and join the mainstream civilian life, while continuing their ties with the defence forces.

Republic Day 2016: India and Pakistan troops exchange sweets along LoC

Despite ceasefire violations and infiltration bids from across the border, the exchange of sweets between army personnel of India and Pakistan along the LoC on their respective days of national importance has been a regular feature. Indian and Pakistani troops deployed along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday exchanged sweets on the occasion of Republic Day.Personnel of the 12 Infantry Brigade of the army exchanged sweets with their Pakistani counterparts at Kaman Post in Uri sector on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad Road, defence sources said. They said sweets were also exchanged with Pakistani troops at Teetwal in Tangdhar sector of Kashmir.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Despite ceasefire violations and infiltration bids from across the border, the exchange of sweets between army personnel of India and Pakistan along the LoC on their respective days of national importance has been a regular feature.

Delhi CM Kejriwal and Najeeb Jung sit together at Rajpath enclosure during R-Day parade

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lt Governor Najeeb Jung, the chief protagonists of a bitter turf war in the national capital, were seated together in a VIP enclosure at Rajpath during the Republic Day parade.Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and PWD Minister Sateyndar Jain were also present in one of the stands as military contingents, dance troupes and tableaux from various states rolled down the path.Delhi, which last showcased a tableau in 2013 parade, did not have one this year too.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had triggered a political controversy last year by claiming that Kejriwal had not been invited to attend the parade which had US President Barack Obama as the Chief Guest. The allegations had come amidst a bitter electoral battle being fought then.Kejriwal and Jung have been involved in a protracted tussle over several issues since the AAP government assumed office in February last year, including over the control of Delhi Police and the Anti-Corruption Branch of the Delhi government.

BSF-Pak Rangers exchange sweets on occasion of 67th Republic Day

Despite the prevailing tension between India and Pakistan over the Pathankot attack, the Border Security Forces and the Pakistani Rangers on Tuesday exchanged sweets on the occasion of India?s 67th Republic Day along the Attari-Wagah border in Amritsar in Punjab.Defence personnel from both the nations shook hands and exchanged several platters of sweets as they posed for pictures as well. However, Pakistani Rangers had earlier refused to accept the sweets offered by the BSF on the occasion of Eid last year.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Following which the BSF also refused to offer any sweets to their counterparts along the International Border as a mark of protest against the spate of ceasefire violations along this frontier and also the Line of Control (LoC).

Republic Day 2016: Delhi turns into fortress; 40,000 cops deployed, traffic diverted

Security has been tightened in the national capital, particularly around Rajpath and the parade route as the nation celebrates its 67th Republic Day on Tuesday.Multi-layered security has been put in place and elaborate ground-to-air security and traffic arrangements have been made and the airspace over the capital will be monitored by special radars. Barricades have been installed at all exit-entry points and sensitive locations. Around 40000 security personnel have been deployed at key locations in the city, including metros, market places, shopping malls, railway stations and inter-state bus terminals.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to reports, around 15,000 from the paramilitary forces, 34,000 from Delhi Police and 1,000 from National Security Guard (NSG) have been deployed across the national capital today. NSG snipers are also expected to maintain a hawk-eye vigil from high-rise buildings near Rajpath from where the French president Francois Hollande along with President Pranab Mukherjee and PM Modi will be watching the parade.Hollande will be the fifth French president to be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations over the decades. Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited Hollande to show solidarity after the assault on the Paris which killed 130 people. Hollande and the Prime Minister are expected to sit together at the annual parade.

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