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Fresh twist in Arunachal Pradesh, Pema Khandu claims support of 49 MLAs

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As a fresh political drama unfolded in Arunachal Pradesh after Chief Minister Pema Khandu was suspended from PPA along with six other MLAs, his government on Friday claimed majority support and the BJP backed him, but the ruling party said there will be change in leadership.The Pema Khandu government claimed support of 49 of the 60 MLAs, including 35 of Peoples Party of Arunachal (PPA) legislators, a day after he was suspended from his own party.Government spokesperson Bamang Felix claimed that 35 out of the 43 PPA MLAs have reposed their faith and allegiance in the leadership of Khandu.”We have support of 49 MLAs including 35 PPA, 12 BJP along with one associate BJP member and one independent,” he claimed at a press conference here.”Everything is going normally as usual and the chief minister is still enjoying absolute majority from PPA, BJP and independent MLAs,” Felix said in response to queries.The PPA, which has total 43 MLAs, had midnight last night temporarily suspended Khandu, deputy chief minister Chhowna Mein and five other MLAs from the primary membership of the party for their alleged “anti-party activities”.Stating that there was no question of change in leadership, Felix said, “We are looking at the legal aspects of the suspension of seven MLAs including Khandu.” “The PPA is not a single man party. Whatever decision was taken by the party’s president Kahfa Bengia was his own.”We are trying to sort out the differences among the party MLAs and our door is open for all,” the spokesman added.Responding to a query on BJP s claim that process is on for the PPA MLAs to join it, Felix said that since PPA is an alliance partner of BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) government “no such question arises”.Bengia on his part said that Takam Pario, PHED minister, is likely to be the next chief minister.”The sudden decision of the PPA is not acceptable to us as they have never discussed with us. In the interest of development of the state and its people, BJP cannot be a party to change of government every six months,” BJP legislature party leader Tamiyo Taga told a press conference.Taga, who is also the Textile and Handicraft Minister, further said that the party has decided to support Khandu on the floor of the assembly if the Governor issues directives for a floor test.Khandu broke away from the Congress along with 42 lawmakers in September this year, managing a coup that suddenly left the party out of power in the state.Arunachal has been battling political instability since December last year when Congress dissidents revolted against former chief minister Nabam Tuki.After a series of dramatic developments, which included a special session held at a hotel to vote out Tuki, Congress rebel Kalikho Pul became chief minister in February with the help of 11 BJP lawmakers.The Congress then moved Supreme Court, which turned the clock back and restored Tuki’s government.But Tuki was out within days as he did not enjoy a majority in the 60-member assembly.Pul, who insisted that he be reinstated as chief minister, was left alone in the last minute when lawmakers supposedly backing him shifted their loyalties to Khandu.Pul committed suicide in August and a month later, Khandu walked out of Congress with 42 lawmakers and joined the PPA.

Sasikala – From video library owner to new AIADMK chief

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Always seen as a shadow of Jayalalithaa and never heard in public, V K Sasikala on Thursday emerged as her political heir to lead AIADMK which has had hugely charismatic figures at its helm in all its 45 years.Blamed once for Jayalalithaa’s disastrous election loss in 1996, the 60-year-old, who was a video library owner before getting close to the late leader, was always considered having a clout in the running of the party.Having accompanied Jayalalithaa to prison when arrested in a disproportionate assets case, Sasikala’s roller-coaster career saw her being expelled for anti-party activities only to be restored in a few months five years ago.
ALSO READ Sasikala likely to be elected as AIADMK General Secretary todayJayalalithaa’s demise on December 5 was seen as a personal loss for Sasikala who was a permanent resident of Jayalalithaa’s house Veda Nilayam in Poes Garden, even choosing to stay away from her husband. She continued to be by Jayalalithaa’s side when she was hospitalised on September 22 that stoked some controversies, including that access to the ailing leader was not being allowed even to her kin.Sasikala belongs to the dominant Thevar community which also is said to have played a major role in O Panneerselvam, who is also from the same community, becoming the stop-gap Chief Minister whenever Jayalalithaa had to step down and even after her death.An aspiring small-time entrepreneur offering video coverage services and allied products like video cassettes in the early 1980s, she got acquainted with Jayalalithaa in 1982 along with her husband M Natarajan through the then IAS officer VS Chandraleka.When Jayalalithaa was organising a party conference in Cuddalore in 1982 – a new entrant to AIADMK then, it was Sasikala who had got the event video-graphed. Similarly, she had got covered several of the party functions of Jayalalithaa which was the beginning of their association. Sasikala or ‘Chinnamma’ as she was later called remained a wall of support for Jayalalithaa through thick and thin over the next three decades.In her much televised 1999 interview Rendezvous with Simi Garewal, Jayalalithaa had said Sasikala was targeted much because of her association with her. She had even praised Sasikala as a “sister” who fulfilled the role of her late mother by taking care of her. This has been quoted by supporters of Sasikala to claim legitimacy to her ascending the top party post.As early as 1989, through 1990 and 1991, many relatives of Sasikala began actively participating in AIADMK activities and several of them were seen supporting Jayalalithaa in protests organised by AIADMK then.Sasikala caught the attention of media only after Jayalalithaa became Chief Minister for the first time in 1991.It was only in 1995, when Jayalalithaa declared Sasikala’s nephew VN Sudhakaran as her foster son and got his infamously extravagant wedding conducted did the clout that Sasikala enjoyed with the party chief come to the fore.Having graduated as Jayalalithaa’s trusted aide, Sasikala was also reportedly taking part in party affairs. She was jailed along with Jayalalithaa in the alleged colour TV scam in 1996. The relationship between the two also came in for criticism from political opponents due to Sasikala’s kin allegedly having a say in party affairs.Sudhakaran, whom Jayalalithaa had declared as her foster son, was later disowned by her and Sasikala’s husband and a host of other relatives also fell out of favour.In early 1980s, Sasikala’s husband Natarjan was a government PRO in Cuddalore with strong moorings in Dravidian ideology.After the rout of AIADMK in 1996, Jayalalithaa announced that she was severing ties with Sasikala and later in 2011 she was expelled along with her husband Natarajan and 12 other relatives. However, on both occasions they patched up and Sasikala resumed living in Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden residence after assuring the AIADMK chief that she would keep away from her relatives.Their relationship, which saw several ups and downs, has culminated in Sasikala taking over the mantle of AIADMK general secretary to continue the political legacy of Jayalalithaa and MGR. ​

Shahabuddin case: Slain journalist’s wife lodges FIR for threats to withdraw case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Slain journalist Rajdeo Ranjan’s wife Asha Ranjan has lodged an FIR alleging threats received asking her to back out from pursuing a case against RJD strongman and former Siwan MP Mohammad Shahabuddin in connection with the killing of her husband who was a working with a prominent vernacular newspaper.Rajdeo, who was the Siwan bureau chief of the newspaper, was shot dead on May 13 at a busy fruit market near Siwan railway station.Mufassil police station SHO Vinay Kumar Singh said Asha filed the FIR on Wednesday where she alleged receiving a phone call from Dubai, threatening her to withdraw the case against Shahabuddin in the Supreme Court in connection with the killing of her husband.
ALSO READ SC to hear plea seeking Shahabuddin’s transfer to TiharShe stated in the FIR, “I got a call from +671 at 12:28 am (on the intervening night of December 26-27). The caller asked me if I knew Shahabuddin. Once I replied in the affirmative, he said a lot of drama has been done and now, I should withdraw the case filed in the Supreme Court against Shahabuddin.”I should stop pursuing the case failing which they (Shahabuddin’s henchmen) would chop us into pieces, so that it would be difficult for anyone to recognise us. I am terrified. Please help me as we have repeatedly been getting threat calls. Even the security provided to our family is only on paper.”
ALSO READ Case against Shahabuddin: BJP questions Nitish Kumar government’s seriousnessThe widow of the scribe had moved the apex court seeking transfer of the probe and trial of her husband’s murder case to Delhi from Siwan as she feared that a free-and-fair trial against Shahabuddin was not possible if he was lodged in a Bihar jail.Shahabuddin is currently lodged in Siwan jail after the apex court had, on September 30, cancelled his bail after hearing the two petitions filed by the Bihar government and lawyer Prashant Bhushan on behalf of the slain scribe’s family.The Bihar government had, on May 16, within three days of the murder, handed over the probe to the central agency.

India needs about 200-250 fighter aircrafts to maintain combat edge: IAF chief Arup Raha

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Outgoing IAF chief Arup Raha on Wednesday made it clear that just 36 Rafale fighter jets would not suffice as India needs about 200-250 more fighters to maintain its combat edge over adversaries.The Air Chief Marshal, who is set to retire on December 31, also rued that the tender for the much needed “force multiplier” mid air refuellers had to be withdrawn. He said a fresh tender is in the offing and the procurement will be speeded up. Underlining that the teeth of any air force is the combat fleet, Raha said that the country needs another production line besides the Tejas. He explained that the strength sanctioned by the government is 42 squadrons “which was a numerical value. He said what is needed “is also a capability mix”.Raha said India has enough of heavy weight fighters – the Su30 MKI – which will last for another 30-40 years. He said the light weight spectrum would be served by the 123 Tejas light combat aircraft ordered by the IAF.Terming Rafale as an excellent aircraft, Raha said it comes in the medium weight spectrum. “It is tremendously capable in all its role. It is a multi-role aircraft and can be used very effectively. It can prove its worth in any situation,” Raha said. “But we have just ordered 36 aircraft and we require more aircraft in this middle weight category to give entire spectrum of capability,” he said. Raha said a void has been created in the past because of obsolescence and many of the squadrons will be past their use-by date. “We have already used them for four decades plus. It is time to retire them and get new aircraft,” he said adding this void has to be filled up quickly and 36 Rafale aircraft “will not do as we require much more”. “Over the next 10 years, we must have 200-250 aircraft. It has to be balanced out. In the heavy weight spectrum, we have enough. But in the medium weight category, we need to have more. Yes, about 200 will be very good,” he said. India and France finally signed the Rafale deal on September 23 this year, over a year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the deal during his Paris visit in April 2015. The planes, equipped with latest weapons and tailored for Indian needs, will be delivered to the IAF between September 2019 and April 2022. The IAF currently has 33 fighter squadrons, against the sanctioned 42.Raha also rued that IAF’s Russian-origin Ilyushin-78 tanker fleet was plagued by maintenance problems and more midair refuellers were a “strategic requirement” to extend the range of fighter planes. IL-78 fleet had served the IAF well but its availability for missions has been less due to maintenance problems. India floated a global tender for six midair refuellers in 2007 but it has been scrapped twice in the final stages. “Sadly, there have been some problem areas in the acquisition. A new tender will be out soon,” Raha said.The air chief said the terrorist attack on the Pathankot air base and the An-32 crash in which 29 people were killed were “the worst memories of my career”. “We have flown in the fighter fleet 40,000 hrs, more than last 10 years due to better serviceability. We have done an average night flying of 27 per cent which was less earlier,” he said speaking about the achievements under his tenure.

IIMC faculty sacked for allegedly backing Dalit labourers, objecting to appointment of course director

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An academic associate at Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) was terminated by the institute allegedly for raising voice against the sacking of 25 Dalit labourers working at the campus and against the recent appointment of a course director. The institute has also debarred him from entering the campus premises, saying it would “vitiate” the peaceful atmosphere.According to Narendra Singh Rao, who was working as a contractual employee at the institute from 2012, he had been abruptly thrown out of the institute while he was on medical leaves. “I have been victimised for raising voice against the sacking of 25 Dalit employees working at the campus. Also, I objected the illegal appointment of a course director as she was neither qualified nor experienced for that post,” Rao told DNA.The institute, however, denied the allegations saying Rao’s termination was completely based on clause 1 of the service contract, which says that “services of the employee can be terminated at anytime without assigning any reason”.“Shri Rao while accepting appointment had duly put his endorsement on the terms and conditions of his appointment,” the institute said in a statement.A letter issued to Rao by the institute on December 21, said that his services were terminated with “immediate effect” under clause 1 of the contract signed by him on September 23, 2013. It, however, stated that he would be paid salary of one month in lieu of the notice period.According to sources at IIMC, the administration had received complaints against Rao, accusing him of propagating indiscipline at the campus. “As many as ten written complaints were received against Rao for misbehaving with his colleagues and trying to disturb the peaceful environment at the campus,” they said.This is the second incident of its kind in a year, where a faculty member has accused IIMC of curbing voices of dissent on campus. Earlier this year, an associate professor at IIMC, Amit Sengupta, had also resigned from the institute after he was transferred to Odisha, for allegedly supporting students of JNU, FTII and speaking about the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula at HCU.“IIMC has turned into a playground for right-wing forces where any voice other than that is being silenced,” Sengupta said. According to him, Rao has also become a victim for raising voice against the right-wing forces prevailing on campus. “Because of his academic qualification and his immense popularity among students, he had become a thorn in the flesh of an institute which is driven by the utter mediocrity,” he said.Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) is one of India’s premier institute for journalism. Besides Delhi, it has five other branches in Odisha, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Jammu and Kashmir and Kerala.

Air Chief Arup Raha backs OROP, says it should be accepted

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, on Wednesday asserted that One Rank, One Pension (OROP) scheme of the government is reasonably good and said that one should accept it.”The OROP by the government is reasonably good. We should accept it. The anomalies are being resolved by one-judge committee. Some of the anomalies and the discrepancies which cropped up from the transition from the sixth to seventh pay commission have been resolved… others will also be resolved,” he added.Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused the Congress Party on Tuesday of betraying the jawans by not fulfilling the long-pending OROP demand in the last 40 years. Addressing a parivartan rally in Dehradun, Prime Minister Modi said, “My Army jawans were demanding OROP for the last 40 years, the party that ruled the country then never thought of their demands.” “In reality, the budget for OROP is over Rs. 10,000 crore. Why did they (Congress) betray the Jawans by allocating 500 crore for this,” he added.He said the Centre was always clear that from day one that the Jawans must get their due and therefore, his government always stated that OROP will be a reality. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar earlier last month said 95% of veterans have already got the benefits of the OROP scheme and they are happy with it.The scheme, announced in September 2015, is meant to ensure equal pension to servicemen who retired on the same rank and after the same duration of service, regardless of the year of retirement. However, retired soldiers have been alleging that the government has not addressed their concerns fully about disparity in pension payments.

Victims can’t state facts like parrot, minor contradictions bound to happen: Court says in molestation case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Victims cannot be expected to state facts in a “parrot-like manner” and minor contradictions are bound to happen after a lapse of time, a Delhi court has said while sending four men to jail in a molestation and assault case after relying on the complainant’s statement.Additional Sessions Judge Sanjiv Jain sent the four men, all Delhi residents, to one year rigorous imprisonment for molesting, threatening and voluntarily causing hurt to the victim, a married woman, after forcefully entering her house when she was alone. “Facts and circumstances clearly show that all accused persons assaulted and used criminal force on her to outrage her modesty. “They gagged her mouth and tore her clothes,” the judge said while holding the accused guilty.Rejecting the argument about there being discrepancies in the woman’s testimony, the judge said, “Victim of such an incident cannot be expected to possess photographic memory and to state the facts in a parrot-like manner. “Minor contradictions are bound to happen if the witness is examined after a lapse of time. No credence can be given to these minor contradictions if they do not go to the root of the matter and create suspicion as to the veracity of the incident.”The court said there is enough direct and circumstantial evidence against the men to prove their complicity in the commission of the offence, adding that the complainant remained “consistent and cogent” and her testimony was of “sterling quality”. “Besides the jail term, the court also imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on each of the four convicts with a direction that out of the total amount, Rs 30,000 be given to the victim.” According to the prosecution, on the intervening night of September 14-15, 2014, the men — Tukun Das, Pawan Kumar, Vinod Kumar and Dev Kant Giri, who were the neighbours of the woman, entered her house when she was alone and abused her physically and verbally.It said there had been a quarrel between the woman and Vinod before this incident which resulted into registration of a complaint against him by the woman. After this, in order to “teach her a lesson”, Vinod along with three others, entered her house and used criminal force on her to outrage her modesty, it said.

Centre launches anti-cancer crusade

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Criticising the Delhi Government for its inability to implement laws on tobacco ban, Faggan Singh Kulaste, Minister of Health and Family Welfare on Monday said that the capital needed to step up its actions for tobacco control.“Sale of tobacco has been banned in the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra. In Delhi though, the ban on tobacco reflects only on papers,” he said at an event on Monday, where he launched, ‘Cancel Cancer’, a cancer awareness campaign.According to the latest data available with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, between April 2012 to September 2015, at least 13 states, including Delhi, didn’t issue any challan or fine for smoking in public.Speaking at the event held at the Lady Hardinge Medical College, he said, “Tobacco products are easily available at every nook and corner of our country and are being consumed mainly by the youth, specially school-going kids of the middle and poor class.” As part of the campaign on cancer, they aim to raise awareness on the lethal effects of tobacco, how it causes cancer and measures to control it. “Among other things, the campaign aims at educating people against the hazards of tobacco that is the root cause of cancer. The government supports this cause,” Kulaste said.According to a report released in 2013 by the Central Government one in every five person under 21 years of age is addicted to tobacco. The report also mentions that out of 2 crore homeless children in India, 40-70 per cent come in contact with some or the other form of intoxication.The Centre recently issued a complete ban on sale of food products containing tobacco and nicotine across India. These would include Gutka, Paan Masala, Zarda and tobacco-based flavoured mouth fresheners. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has directed all states to issue strict directions for banning the production, promotion and sale of these food products.

Launch of Agni-5 a great technological, military achievement: DRDO

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Defence and Research Development Organisation (DRDO) on Monday said the launch of intercontinental surface-to-surface nuclear capable ballistic missile Agni-5 is a major achievement for India both in terms of technology and military might.Former DRDO spokesperson Ravi Gupta said that with this missile capabilities, current advisories will not dare to attack India with any nuclear weapon. “It is a bold statement of India strength for peace. We are a peaceful country and we want to work for establishing peace in the region. I believe peace is possible when you are strong. So, this a major quantum jam in the deterrent capability of India and with this missile capabilities I am sure that the current advisories will not dare to attack India with any nuclear weapon,” he said.He said missile that has been launched till now was to test India’s testing capabilities but the real equipped with nuclear will be launched if India is under attack. “India has a declared policy of no frosty use and I hope that we never have to use it. That is only possible if we have this kind of capabilities”. the accuracy of the missile is very high when we launched this for the first time on April 19, 2012 it was a dawn of a new era of technology,” he added.Unlike other missiles of Agni series, ‘Agni-5’ is the most advanced having some new technologies incorporated with it in terms of navigation and guidance, warhead and engine.The indigenously-developed surface-to-surface missile, Agni-5, is capable of striking a target more than 5,000 km. It is about 17-metre long, two-metre wide and has launch weight of around 50 tonnes.The missile can carry a nuclear warhead of more than one tonne. It is the fourth developmental and second canisterised trial of the long range missile.While the first test was conducted on April 19, 2012, the second test was carried out on September 15, 2013, and the third on January 31, 2015 from the same base.

Jammu and Kashmir 2016 review: Curfew, Mehbooba Mufti, Burhan Wani and surgical strikes

Srinagar: The year 2016 saw Mehbooba Mufti taking over as the first woman chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and Army for the first time carrying out surgical strikes on militant camps in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) while violent protests for months hit hard normal life and resulted in shutdown of schools and death of 86 people.

The government had also to grapple with the NIT unrest, mysterious school burning incidents and blinding due to pellet gun firing issues.

The only silver lining during all this mayhem was that the annual Amarnath yatra to south Kashmir Himalayas went on, though with some interruptions due to authorities’ stopping the pilgrims from travelling during day to avoid any casualties.

In fact, local residents of Bijbehara town defied curfew to help a group of Amarnath pilgrims to hospital after their vehicle met with an accident.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

7 January – Mufti Mohammad Sayeed passes away

The year, however, started with Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who had cobbled up an unimaginable coalition government between his PDP and the BJP a year earlier, losing his battle against illness at AIIMS in Delhi on 7 January.

Following Saeed’s death, a smooth transition of power was expected to his daughter and political heir Mehbooba Mufti but the PDP president refused to take charge for over two and half months. As the days passed, it seemed increasingly difficult for the two parties to come together again with the PDP setting some conditions like initiation of the confidence building measures by the Centre.

4 April – Mehbooba sworn in as first woman CM of Jammu and Kashmir

Finally, Mehbooba was sworn in as the first woman chief minister of the state on 4 April.

No sooner had she assumed office, Mehbooba faced her first real test. An unrest began at NIT Srinagar where students from outside the Valley were accused of beating local students following a tiff over an India-Pakistan cricket match.

However, the outside students alleged they were tortured by police inside the campus, sparking off a massive crisis that hogged national headlines for several days. The authorities had to shut down the institute for some time to allow the frayed tempers to cool down.

The NIT dust was yet to settle down when Mehbooba’s government faced with two more controversies. The reported plans to set up Sainik colonies and exclusive colonies for migrant Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley drew severe criticism from mainstream Opposition parties as well as separatist groups, which threatened to launch an agitation over these issues.

The government on several occasions, including during the Budget Session of the assembly, stated that it had no such plans.

8 July – Burhan Wani encounter

As it appeared that the worst was over for the PDP-BJP government, Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani — who had become the poster boy of militancy in Kashmir — was killed in an encounter with security forces on 8 July.

Kashmiris carry the body of Burhan Wani, a separatist militant leader, during his funeral in Tral, south of Srinagar. Reuters

Kashmiris carry the body of Burhan Wani, a separatist militant leader, during his funeral in Tral, south of Srinagar. Reuters

As the news of his death spread, there was an unprecedented outpour of outrage on the streets of the Valley as rumours were abound that the 21-year-old militant was killed when he was unarmed. The security forces dismissed the allegations.

However, violent street protests and clashes between protestors and security forces across the Valley over the next several months left 86 people dead and hundreds — including 5000 security forces personnel — injured.

For the first time in the past 26 years of turmoil in Kashmir, over 300 people were blinded as security forces fired pellet guns to quell the protests, leading to calls from various quarters to ban its use.

Authorities imposed curfew across Kashmir valley, snapped mobile and Internet services, banned newspapers for three days and took several news channels off air in an attempt to end the street violence but protests continued unabated.

The separatists, sensing an opportunity, jumped in and started issuing weekly agitation calendars as they did in 2010.

Almost all separatist leaders including Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik were either arrested or put under house arrest. More than 8000 people were also arrested on the charges of stone-pelting or incitement to violence.

Curfew and shutdowns brought life in Kashmir valley to a standstill as schools remained closed, businesses shut and transport off the roads.

18 September – Surgical Strikes 

The deadly attack at Uri, close to Line of Control, on 18 September prompted perhaps the strongest peacetime reaction from the armed forces against the militants.

As many as 19 soldiers were killed at Uri before the Army eliminated the four intruders, who had crossed the LoC just a day before launching the attack.

The special forces crossing the LoC into PoK and destroying several militant camps in which over 40 ultras and their sympathisers were killed was a departure from the traditional policy of exercising restraint after every ceasefire violation or an attack on security installation.

As the Valley was going through its worst unrest in 26 years, there was an increase in hostilities along the LoC between armies of India and Pakistan. Both sides accused each other of violating the ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir along the LoC and the international border.

The surgical strike led to more skirmishes and exchange or artillery fire between the two sides till November, leading to fears among people here of outbreak of full blown war between the two countries.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited the Valley several times to assess the situation. In the month of September, Singh led an all-party delegation of national parties in an attempt to reach out to all sections of the society to end the street protests.

A splinter group of delegation including Sitaram Yechury and Assadudin Owaisi tried to meet the separatist leaders including Geelani but they shut their doors on them saying the visitors did not have the mandate to resolve Kashmir issue.

Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha led a delegation of “concerned citizens of India” and met people from all sections of the society here. This time separatists met them and conveyed their viewpoint.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Curfew was lifted after the visit of the all-party delegation from many parts of Kashmir but the shutdown continued with no end in sight.

The shutdown not only affected the livelihood of the masses but also put a question mark on the future of the students.

The government announced that board examinations will be held in November but promised to make it easy for the students. The examinations were held in November with thousands of students appearing and the government keeping its word by giving 50 per cent relaxation in the syllabus.

While the unrest is dying out, the educational infrastructure suffered massive damage in the Valley as more than 32 schools were gutted in mysterious fire incidents.

The frequency of burning of schools prompted the Jammu and Kashmir High Court to take suo moto cognisance and initiate PIL proceedings, directing the state government to take steps for ensuring safety of the school buildings.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 11:22 IST

Sports ministry does U-turn as yoga no longer a sport

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After prime minister Narendra Modi first proposed to observe June 21 as Yoga Day in the future during his September 27, 2014 speech in the United Nations General Assembly, the sports ministry swung into action and immediately decided to included yoga in the list of sport. However, it the decision has been reversed now.Around 14 months ago, when yoga was included as a ‘sport’ and taken away from the ‘performing art’ category, it was expected to create millions of jobs around the country. Backed by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the sports ministry was even contemplating to include different age-group yoga competitions held at the future National Games apart from recognising the Yoga Federation of India soon.But all that proved to be short-lived joy for those yoga practitioners as the sports ministry has now decided to change its decision, which means that yoga can’t be termed as a sport any more.The decision was taken after a review meeting of the sports ministry on yoga was held earlier this month that was attended by sports minister Vijay Goel. In a communique sent to Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and other related departments on Wednesday, it has been said that the “de-recognition” had the approval of the sports minister and would come into force with immediate effect.”Yoga will continue to be handled by Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy),” the letter said.What were the reasons that such a drastic change in decision was taken in merely 15 months?”It is the ministry’s lack of vision and its inability to hold national championships that forced it to drop yoga as a sport,” a senior source in the sports ministry said. “We failed to realise before including yoga as a sport that there was no way we could have held a national championship with so many aasnas involved.”It has been learnt that ministry did discuss the issue with a number of yoga experts before concluding that “it would be nearly impossible to hold Nationals in yoga”.Moreover, there were not many genuine people coming forward to form a federation and to add to that, whoever was showing interest was only looking for government funding.Modi, on the other hand, has been leading the charge in spreading awareness on yoga for the last two years.

Pakistan releases 220 Indian fishermen in goodwill gesture, expects India to ‘reciprocate’

Pakistan released 220 Indian fishermen on Sunday as a goodwill gesture aimed at easing tensions with its neighbour, officials said.

The men were arrested more than a year ago, accused of entering Pakistani waters in an area of the Arabian Sea where the border is unclear.

An image from August 2015, when another batch of Indian fishermen was released from prison, in Pakistan. Reuters

An image from August 2015, when another batch of Indian fishermen was released from prison, in Pakistan. Reuters

India is also holding Pakistani fishermen for the same reason and Pakistan hopes its gesture — on the birthday of the nation’s father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, which coincides with Christmas Day — will be reciprocated.

“We have total of 518 Indian fishermen out of which 220 are being released today as a goodwill gesture of the Pakistan government. In the next phase, 219 fishermen will be released on 5 January,” Shunail Husain Shah, a police assistant superintendent, told Reuters.

Relations between the nuclear-armed neighbours have been more fraught than usual since a crackdown by Indian forces on dissent in Indian-controlled Kashmir began in July. In September militants killed 18 soldiers at an Indian army base, an attack New Delhi blamed on Pakistan.

“We appreciate Pakistan’s goodwill gesture of releasing Indian fishermen, but we expect a similar reciprocal move by India, 156 Pakistani fishermen including 13 children are languishing in Indian jails,” Muhammad Ali Shah, president of Pakistan Fisher Folk, a fishermen’s rights body, told Reuters.

The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea states that fishermen who cross territorial waters can be warned and fined but not arrested, and Shah called on both countries to respect that.

One of the fishermen being released, who goes by the single name Naresh, told Reuters: “I am very happy, looking forward to meet my family back in Gujarat. We were treated nicely here, I will request the Indian government release the detained Pakistani fishermen as well.”

First Published On : Dec 25, 2016 21:28 IST

Militant hideout raided in Bangladesh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The sound of an explosion and several gunshots were heard in the Bangladeshi capital on Saturday as police’s elite counter terrorism unit laid siege to a three-storey building where heavily-armed militants, belonging to a Islamist group behind the July 1 terror attack, are holed up.”The inmates have vowed to fight us with grenades… we are repeatedly asking them to give up,” Dhaka s police commissioner Asaduzzaman Mian told reporters at the scene at Ashkona area of the capital. He said two women already came out from the three-storey building with their children.Police said three militants believed to be operatives of neo-Jamaatun Mujahideen Bangladesh (neo-JMB) were inside the building.”One of the three is a son of a slain neo-JMB leader but we are yet to know the identity of two others,” Mia said.The outfit, said to be inclined to the Islamic State, was behind the July 1 terror attack on a Dhaka cafe in which 22 people, including 17 foreigners, were killed. The commissioner has said police wants to capture the militants alive without using force “as any miscalculation could appear deadly in this densely populated neighbourhood”.Another official at the scene said one of the two women who surrendered was the wife of a slain renegade ex-army major who was killed on September 2 this year in a police encounter during a nearly identical raid at Dhaka’s Mirpur area. The other woman was the wife of a neo-JMB leader.Witnesses said police was repeatedly asking the inmates to surrender using megaphones but they were threatening to detonate grenades tied to their bodies. Ambulances and fire fighting units were kept stand-by outside the building while elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and plainclothesmen cordoned off the area.

Maharashtra: Ex-bank manager among 24 booked for misappropriating Rs 3.14 cr

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Nearly 24 persons, including former manager of a bank and son of an ex-MLA from Thane district, have been booked for allegedly misappropriating bank money to the tune of Rs 3.14 crore, police said on Friday.The former manager of a nationalised bank, in connivance with others, allegedly broke some fixed deposits from among the provident fund accounts of employees of Kalyan Dombivili Municipal Corporation to the tune of Rs 2.82 crore without the civic body’s permission, they said.He then allegedly diverted the sum and another Rs 72 lakhs of the corporation to another account of the bank, in violation of the bank regulations, to favour some businessmen and builders, police said.The alleged fraud took place in connivance with the beneficiaries between September 2015 and June 2016.Based on a complaint of a bank officer, an offence was on Thursday registered against all the accused under sections IPC sections 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant, or by banker, merchant or agent), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document or electronic record) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) and also relevant provisions of the IT Act with Khadakpada police under Kalyan zone.No arrest has been made so far in connection with the case, police added.

Body of Delhi man to be brought from Tokyo tomorrow: Sushma Swaraj

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said the mortal remains of a man from Delhi, who died of cardiac arrest in Tokyo two weeks ago, will be brought back home tomorrow, days after his family sought government’s help citing financial constraints.Last week, the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) had sought Swaraj’s intervention after Radha Debi, wife of deceased Gopal Ram, approached it seeking help, saying his poor family was unable to bring the body back.Responding to the request, Swaraj had said government will bring back the body without delay and bear the expense. “The mortal remains will reach New Delhi by ANA flight from Tokyo on 24 December at 2400 hrs,” Swaraj tweeted today.The External Affairs Minister is known for her prompt response in addressing problems of distressed Indians abroad.Gopal Ram, 48, a resident of Ambedkar Nagar, had gone to Tokyo in September last year looking for greener pastures. He died of a cardiac arrest in the Japanese capital on December 10. “The family is severely distressed and needs your kind support. As we all aware you have been extremely pro-active in resolving such matters. Therefore, I am forwarding the representation along with this letter for your kind perusal. Hoping for your support in this matter,” DCW Chairperson Swati Maliwal had said in a letter to Swaraj last week. Gopal was working in Tokyo as a cook in a hotel and according to a family member he was fired within three months after which he started working in some local shop. His financial condition was bad because of which he was in distress, he said.On December 10, the family received a call from a person who worked with Gopal, saying that he has passed away following a heart attack.

Are India and Pakistan set for water wars?

India wants to use more water from rivers it shares with Pakistan as tensions deteriorate.

Blackmoney: IDS disclosure figures to be revised lower to Rs 55,000 cr

New Delhi: Government is likely to revise downwards the disclosures made under the black money amnesty scheme to about Rs 55,000 crore as one Hyderabad-based realtor and his associates have defaulted on tax payments after declaring more than Rs 10,000 crore unaccounted income.

The Hyderabad-based real-estate businessman had declared a black money of Rs 9,800 crore in the Income Disclosure Scheme (IDS) that closed on September 30. Two or three more persons associated with the realtor had declared Rs 2,000-3,000 crore.

AFPAFP

AFP

“All of them have failed to deposit the first instalment of tax which was due on November 30,” a senior government official said.

Soon after the default, the Income-Tax Department launched search on the premises of the defaulters.

“While the Income Tax Department will take necessary actions, we will revise the total black money declared in IDS,” he said.

The declarations by the realtor and his associates were included in the revised Rs 67,382 crore declarations under IDS announced by the government.

“The declarations will come down to about Rs 55,000 crore,” the official said.

Earlier this month, the Finance Ministry revised upwards black money disclosed under Income Declaration Scheme (IDS) to Rs 67,382 crore from Rs 65,250 crore estimate announced previously. The revised number would have got the government a little over Rs 30,000 crore in tax.

The revised number had not included Rs 13,860 crore declared by an Ahmedabad-based businessman Mahesh Kumar Champaklal Shah and Rs 2 lakh crore by a Mumbai-based family.

“We did not take on record the two declarations as they looked suspicious as it was filed by persons of small means. Background checks including scrutiny of their previous income tax returns revealed that they did not have the means to disclosure such a huge income,” the official said.

Soon after the four-month IDS closed, the government had on 1 October announced that 64,275 declarants had declared Rs 65,250 crore of black money. After final reconciliation the revised figure of actual declarations received and taken on record was Rs 67,382 crore made by 71,726 declarants.

The revised declarants taken on record included the Hyderabad-based realtor and his associates, the official said, adding that the realtor alone was supposed to pay Rs 1,100 crore of first instalment of tax by 30 November which he failed.

The IDS, announced in the Budget, gave opportunity to holders of illegal wealth to come clean by paying a total 45 percent tax on the so far hidden assets.

Government had given the option to the declarants of paying tax amount in three instalments up to 30 September, 2017. The first instalment of 25 percent was due on 30 November.

“Most of the declarants have paid the first instalment,” the official added.

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 15:37 IST

Civet rescued from AC duct in Delhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A family in the capital’s East Patel Nagar was in for a surprise when they ran into a long cat while cleaning their AC ducts on Tuesday. A Common Palm Civet, had taken shelter in the duct. Wildlife officials had to be called in to rescue the wild cat. It was later released in the Asola Wildlife Sanctuary.However, this is not an isolated occurrence. Neelgais, leopards and more civets have been spotted on different occasions straying in urban areas. According to wildlife experts, while spotting a Common Palm Civet is not rare since it lives close to human habitation, the repeated occurrences of wild animals straying into urban areas is largely because of loss of natural habitat.A civet was rescued running amok from the Parliament complex in July 2014 and another from Khan Market in September, having sent shopkeepers and customers in a tizzy for a few hours. Last year a baby civet was rescued again from AC ducts in a house in Vasant Kunj area.A leopard was spotted in Faridabad last month reaching up the roofs of one-storeyed houses. Locals ended up killing him. In October this year, a Neelgai was found loitering in a park in Alaknanda in south Delhi.Professor Surya Prakash, School of Life Sciences, JNU, said, “It is not unusual to spot a civet in urban areas, as they live close to human habitation. They breed during the winters and was probably seeking shelter in the duct.”He added, while there are two types of civets — Common Palm Civet and Small Indian Civet — the later is an endangered species.Increased population of stray dogs is another reason for the decline in the numbers of Small Indian Civets, as these are preyed upon by the dogs.Geeta Seshamani, co-founder, Wildlife SOS, a rescue and conservation organisation said, “This is the second civet rescue in the last 10 days. Habitat encroachment and deforestation is redefining boundaries between forest and urban areas. Consequently, the incidents of wild animals straying into urban area are increasing. People need to be made aware of and sensitized towards the common wild animals straying into urban areas.”

Higher GDP growth a ‘statistical illusion’, inconsistent with other indicators: P Chidambaram

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior Congress leader and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said the new GDP series based on gross value added, which shows a growth of 7-7.5 per cent, is “flawed” as it is based on a “statistical illusion”, and claimed the country is expanding at just 5-5.5 per cent. “GDP estimates are flawed. If you go by simple measurement, the way it is measured, gross value addition at 7-7.5 per cent, appears to be correct, but it is inconsistent with every other economic indicator that we have,” Chidambaram said at an event at the Mumbai University. As per the new GDP reading based on GVA, the economy grew at 7.2 per cent in the first half of the current fiscal.While the GDP clipped at 7.3 per cent in Q1, in the second quarter ended September it expanded at 7.1 per cent. He said other economic indicators that we should look at include credit growth, which is now at a 20-year low, core sector growth, that is only about 2-2.5 per cent, and investment, which is at an all-time low. “I go by harder numbers – credit growth, investments, stalled projects. Those are hard numbers, real numbers and I think those are the numbers we should look at. Looking at these numbers, my gut feel is that we are growing at about 5- 5.5 per cent a year,” the Rajya Sabha member from Maharashtra said.He said the GVA number at 7-7.5 per cent may be statistically correct but does not reflect the true growth of the economy. He said this number is constructed by using the deflector, which many people have seriously questioned, and there is a “statistical illusion” in this number. Citing an example, Chidambaram said, “Raghuram Rajan (former RBI Governor) pointed out that exports minus imports adds to GDP. We all know exports in 2015-16 was lower than 2014-15.”Exports declined but imports declined more. Therefore, exports minus imports in 2014-15 was say number A and exports minus import in 2015-16 is B. Exports declined and imports declined even further but B is larger than A shows growth. Therefore, B upon A shows growth,” said the former Finance Minister. He said there are lot of conundrums in this and hence he does not go by these numbers.

Indiscipline in armed forces to be viewed ‘seriously’: SC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Indiscipline on part of security force personnel must be “viewed seriously” and deserting work by disobeying orders of superior officers is an act of “gross misconduct”, the Supreme Court has ruled.A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur also said that past conduct of a delinquent employee can be taken into consideration while imposing a penalty on him.The court’s remarks came as it dealt with a plea filed by Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) against the Delhi High Court’s August 2014 judgement directing reinstatement of a constable, Abrar Ali, who was dismissed from service due to his alleged acts of indiscipline and misconduct.In its verdict, the apex court held that though Ali was found guilty of deserting the force for a period of five days and not improving his conduct in spite of penalties imposed on him on three earlier occasions, the penalty of dismissal from service is “excessive and harsh” and “in our view, the penalty of compulsory retirement would meet the ends of justice”.The bench, which also comprised Justices DY Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao, said “indiscipline on the part of a member of an armed force has to be viewed seriously. It is clear that the respondent (Ali) had intentionally disobeyed the orders of his superiors and deserted the force for a period of 5 days. Such desertion is an act of gross misconduct and the respondent deserves to be punished suitably.”The bench directed that Ali shall be entitled for notional continuity of service till the date of completion of minimum service required to make him eligible for pension but he will not be entitled for payment of salary and allowances for that period.Ali was appointed as a constable in CISF in September 1990 and in October 1999, an inquiry was proposed against him under the CISF Rules for allegations of misconduct and misbehaviour.According to the charges, he was posted at CISF unit in Dhanbad when he had disobeyed the orders of his seniors and was habitual of committing indiscipline. In November 2000, Commandant of CISF unit in Dhanbad held him guilty of all the charges levelled against him and he was ordered to be dismissed from service.Ali then filed an appeal to the Deputy Inspector General of CISF. While he was exonerated of the charges of maligning the image of the force, his appeal was rejected in 2001.After his revision plea against the order was dismissed by the Inspector General of CISF, Ali had approached the Delhi High Court which allowed his plea and asked CISF to reinstate him as constable with notional seniority in his rank.

The long road for Talgo

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>What exactly is the deal with the Talgo train from Spain that the railways tried on its tracks- with massive media hype- between May and September? The truth is that we are as far as buying a Talgo train now as we were when the trials had not even started. On December 2, replying to a query in Parliament, minister of state for railways Rajen Gohain said it in as many words. His exact words- ‘the trial was limited to assessment of timing and detailed technical assessment with regard to complete compatibility with Indian Railway’s fixed infrastructure and other requirements was outside the scope of the trial. No decision has been taken for the purchase of these coaches.’The Railways, after all the hype and hoopla, has tied itself in more than a few knots when it comes to the purchase of these Spanish trains.Parliament’s nod for aluminium trains:The Talgo rakes are made of aluminium, a completely new material to make rakes as far as India is concerned. We in India make rakes with corten steel- used in the older Integral Coach Factory Chennai coaches- or stainless steel, used in the new LHB coaches made mainly in the Rail Coach Factory Kapurthala.The usage of aluminium will require a fresh sanction from Parliament and also a detailed study of how the material would perform in Indian conditions, especially the varied climatic conditions in which our trains run. Both of these could take time, said officials in the know.The tender question:Moreover the purchase of these rakes would require the railways to call a tender as buying it from a single firm without giving others a chance might give rise to accusations the railways could do without, said officials. “Calling of tenders itself could take a lot of time because these would be tenders running into several hundred crores. They will have to be vetted by various departments and the criteria involved will have to be such that other train manufacturers also get a fair chance if they want to participate. There can be no custom-made tender for Talgo trains,” explained a retired top railway official. To get things into perspective, a contract won in Spain by Talgo on November 28 this year will see the first of its trainsets coming into service only 38 months later.The maintenance muddle:The other hitch is that it would be almost impossible for the railways to buy these Talgo rakes off-the-shelf because the Spanish firm generally sells rakes with a clause that it maintains the rake exclusively for the remainder of its life. This, according to railway officials, would almost certainly be rejected because the railways has so far been learning new technology by maintaining stock from manufacturers as diverse as Alstom, Bombardier, Siemens and EMD.However Subodh Jain, former Member Engineering said that currently the worldwide practice is that manufacturers provide scheduled maintenance. “Daily examination and cleaning is done by the operator (the railways). We maintain our stock because we manufacture it,” Jain added.The need for Indianisation:One of the biggest dilemmas the railways is facing in the purchase of these rakes pertains to the speed of operations. What is the point of buying a 200kmph rake when the track isn;t good enough for anything over 150kmph at best? As reported by DNA in its November 9 edition, the railway ministry has formed a three-member committee to study the modalities of buying rakes from Spanish train manufacturer Talgo. The three members of the committee would be Additional Members of the Civil, Mechanical and Budget stream of the Railway Board. Officials DNA spoke to maintained that the train which was tested was not conducive for running on Indian Railways under current conditions as the rake was slimmer and lower than what is ideal for platforms in India. “The width of long-distance trains in India are 3250mm and suburban trains running in Mumbai have a width of 3660mm,” said one official.High speed trains, low speed tracks:It is a question that railway officials are asking for the Talgo as well as the Rs 5000 crore plan to purchase high-speed trainsets to replace Rajdhanis and Shatabdis. As reported by DNA in its November 11 edition, the railway board is divided on the purchase of trainsets over speed.While a section of officials believe that buying expensive 200kmph trainsets now and running them at lower speeds till our tracks are upgraded to 200kmph would be a financial folly. These officials believe that by the time the tracks are upgraded- which might take anything between five to eight years- it would be possible to get better tachnology trainsets at the same cost or lesser. The railway ministry had earmarked Rs 2952 crores for the current fiscal to buy 15 such trainsets.”It applies for the Talgo as well. If you buy them now, they won’t be able to run at their full potential at least till another 5-10 years,” was the chorus from several officials. They said that this ‘back to the drawing board’ move for the trainsets was made after going through the trials of the Talgo.Despite having a top speed potential of 200kmph, the maximum speed the Talgo could achieve during the trials was 117.5 kmph when it made the trip between Delhi-Mumbai on September 11 in 11 hours and 48 minutes.”This was because our tracks, many of then having a top capacity of 160kmph, cannot support trains beyond a certain speed due to curves, age and other geological problems. So unless tracks are not upgraded, buying expensive trainsets or even the Talgo of 200kmph might not be a good idea,” said an official.Changing gauge: Advantage or disadvantage?One of the biggest advantages that the Talgo has over several of its bigger railway manufacturing competitors is a technology called the Automatic Variable Gauge System (AVGS). Tis system allows the Talgo to change gauge even in motion as it makes its way from tracks of a particular width to another. The alternative way is to use two different rakes and asking passengers to shift from one train to another, which in turn is a messy time-consuming affair. This is a huge advantage when the Talgo makes its way around Spain- which has 3 different gauges like India- or when it makes the cross-border routes like between Spain and the rest of Europe as well between the CIS countries and the rest of Europe.However, as officials pointed out, this advantage is nullified. “Though we have three different gauges- broad, metre and narrow- none of these stations intersect. Moreover narrow and metre gauge routes are now confined to small stations in rural areas and none of them are on high-end routes that the Talgo will ultimately be used for,” said the official.The tilting advantage:The construction of the Talgo is such that it allows the rake to tilt in such a way that it can make corners and curves on tracks at higher speed. While manufacturers like Alstom, Bombardier and Siemens also have these tilting mechanisms, officials said the Talgo mechanism is by far the better one. “However whether this tilting really plays a huge part in India will have to be seen as out track curves come with varying speed restrictions that have been place for years,” said the official.The Talgo RTI:A Right to Information plea filed by DNA on the Talgo came up with these answers:1) No Make in India as of now.2) Cost of trials was footed by the railways3) There was no agreement between railways and Talgo on testing the rake4) There is assured purchase agreement between railways and Talgo.Talgo wins in Spain:On November 28, the Spanish Ministry of Development announced that Talgo had been selected for a 786 million euro contract to supply 15 high-speed trainsets to government operator RENFE and maintain them for 30 years. Talgo is expected to put the first of its Avril trainsets in service as part of this contract in 38 to 42 months. These trains have a top speed of 330 kmph and are to have 416 standard and 105 business class seats. The company claimed that it had spent 50 million euros to develop the Avril high-speed train concept.

Kashmir tension: Pakistan ends ban on Bollywood films

Pakistan ends an Indian film ban imposed in September amid worsening relations over Kashmir.

Nirbhaya’s mom still struggling for justice

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Four years ago, a 23-year-old paramedical student was brutally gang-raped on a moving bus in the national Capital. The incident shook everyone and triggered mass protests across the country demanding justice for her. Four years later, her parents say they are still struggling for justice.”It has been four years and we are still seeking justice for my beloved daughter. I want to ask the government how long will I have to protest before my daughter gets justice,” said Nirbhaya’s mother Asha Devi on “Nirbhaya Chetna Diwas”, which was organised by the Nirbhaya Trust at Jantar Mantar on Friday.”The government at the Centre has changed, but our never-ending wait for justice continues,” she added.On the intervening night of 15-16 December, 2012, Nirbhaya was brutally raped on a moving bus by six people, including a juvenile, in south Delhi. The incident took place while she was returning home after watching a movie with a friend. Thirteen days after the incident, she died in a hospital in Singapore.The incident triggered an uproar and stirred a debate on the safety of women across the country. “Four years ago, when thousands of people took to the street demanding justice for my daughter, I thought things will eventually change for women in the country. Sadly, the situation remains the same. A girl was raped today in Delhi,” said the grieving mother.A 19-year-old girl, who had come to Delhi for a job, was on Friday raped in taxi by the driver. The rape survivor was a resident of Noida.Urging people to create awareness about women’s rights and safety, the mother of the braveheart said, “Every now and then we hear of a woman being assaulted, raped or even gang-raped. Neither kids or elderly women are spared. We need another uprising demanding safer public spaces for women”.Among the six accused arrested in the Nirbhaya case, Ram Singh hung himself in prison in March 2013, while another man, who was a juvenile at the time of the incident, was released on December 15, 2015, after spending three years in jail. The other four were found guilty and sentenced to death by the Delhi High Court in September 2013, following which they challenged the decision in the apex court where it is at the moment.

Four years after horrific December 16 gangrape, Nirbhaya’s mother still awaits justice

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Extremely upset with the fact that justice has not been meted out to her daughter despite four years after the horrific December 16 gang-rape incident, Nirbhaya’s mother on Friday said that no action has yet been taken against the accused despite the matter being heard in the Supreme Court and added that the situation remains the same as nobody is scared of the law.”It has been four years today, but till now justice has not been served to her (Nirbhaya). We have been trying a lot from the past four years to ensure that she gets justice, yet the accused have not been punished. The case is pending in the Supreme Court, but still we don’t know when she will get justice,” said Nirbhaya’s mother Asha Devi.”Even today the same thing is happening, small children are being assaulted which indicate that the law of the country is not working properly as it should. Nobody is scared of the law,” she said.
ALSO READ Nirbhaya rape convict Vinay Sharma attempts suicide in Tihar Jail, admitted to hospitalNirbhaya was brutally gang-raped on the intervening night of December 16, 2012, in a moving bus in South Delhi. The incident took place while she was returning with a friend after watching a movie.She died 13 days after the incident at a hospital in Singapore.
ALSO READ Delhi gangrape: Delhi HC rejects plea seeking seizure of ‘India’s Daughter’ documentaryOf the six men arrested in the case, one of the accused Ram Singh hanged himself in prison in March 2013, while another man, who was a juvenile at the time of the crime, was convicted in August and will serve the maximum sentence of three years in a reform home.The other four — Akshay, Vinay Sharma, Pawan and Mukesh — were found guilty and sentenced to death by the Delhi High Court in September 2013.
ALSO READ Amid reports of placing Delhi gangrape juvenile convict under NGO monitoring, Nirbhaya’s parents say he should remain in jailThe men have challenged the death sentence in the Supreme Court, which is currently hearing their appeal.

Ensure cash crunch ends by Jan 15, UP BJP MPs tell Amit Shah

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After yet another day of uproar in Parliament stalled over demonetization, around 30 BJP parliamentarians from eastern Uttar Pradesh gathered in the heart of the city on Wednesday evening for a meeting with party president Amit Shah.The aftermath of demonetization was the predominant concern of the MPs at the two-hour meeting, which Shah had convened to get feedback on the issue, besides the impact of surgical strikes and the party”s parivartan yatra in the poll-bound state.A majority of MPs told Shah that if the inconvenience caused to people because of demonetization was not mitigated by January 15, it could hurt the party’s prospects in the assembly elections in the state due early next year, according to sources. The MPs said steps should be taken to address the cash crunch and ensure normalcy in transactions.The MPs also said that after the surgical strikes across the Line of Control on September 28 midnight there was a positive mood for the party, but demonetization has overshadowed it and dominated the narrative. Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the announcement to recall notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 on November 8.With elections drawing near, there has been a growing concern in the state party with about the opposition capitalising on the lack of cash in banks and long queues at ATMs causing inconvenience to people.This was the first meeting Shah had with his party MPs after demonetization. Some MPs are of the view that the feedback should have been taken earlier, sources said.Shah, who heard their concerns, asked them to go to villages in their constituencies before the candidates were announced.The meeting was held over dinner hosted by home minister Rajnath Singh, an MP from Lucknow.Around the same time, at another meeting convened by the RSS-affiliated Laghu Udyog Bharti, representatives of small and medium industries expressed concern about going cashless overnight and the situation leading to retrenchment. The meeting was attended by minister of state for finance Arjun Meghwal.Shah, who met another group of party MPs from UP on Thursday night, held deliberations with BJP office bearers earlier in the day. According to sources, the office bearers told him that despite the problems, there was support for demonetization.Shah said that the Modi regime was different from the previous Manmohan Singh and Narasimha Rao governments and had got the mandate to take tough decisions.According to sources, Shah described demonetization as a visionary decision of political will aimed at curbing black money and said the government will not confine itself to small reforms but will bring “fundamental changes” in the economy.

Uri attack: Pakistan High Commission asked to take detainees home, claims diplomat

The Pakistan High Commission was asked to take two Uri detainees home, a report by The Indian Express, quotes a Pakistani diplomat.

Two people — Faisal Husain Awan from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Ahsan Khursheed from Muzaffarabad (also in PoK) — figured in a list given to the Pakistan High Commission of detainees could be sent home, The Indian Express report said, adding that the two were also accused by the Indian government of guiding terrorists in the Uri attack on 18 September. However, the Indian government did not confirm the same.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

As many as 19 soldiers were killed in a terror attack at an Army camp in Uri on 18 September. Ten days later, the Army carried out surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC). Bilateral relations between India and Pakistan have deteriorated following the two incidents.

A PTI report in October had observed that the four Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorists, who carried out the attack had used a ladder to scale the electrified fence at the LoC.

Two days after the Uri attack, the National Investigative Agency (NIA) had registered a case and began the probe by collecting evidence available with the Indian Army formation in Uri. Arms and ammunition were recovered as were two mobile sets belonging to the four terrorists of JeM apart from two Global Positioning System (GPS) devices.

According to an NDTV report, the Indian government had handed over the proof of Pakistan’s involvement in the attack and said that the two guides who were arrested mentioned that they belonged to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and they indeed served as guides to the Uri terrorist attack.

It was on 8 December that two Pakistanis were arrested for being “terror guides” the JeM terrorists who carried out the Uri terror attack and it came to light that they were Class 10 students, who had strayed across the Line of Control (LoC).

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 13:54 IST

US Federal Reserve lifts rates, sees faster pace of hikes in Donald Trump’s first year

Washington – The U.S. Federal Reserve raised interest rates by a quarter point on Wednesday and signalled a faster pace of increases in 2017 as the Trump administration takes over with promises to boost growth through tax cuts, spending and deregulation.

The rate increase, regarded as a virtual certainty by financial markets in the wake of a string of generally strong economic reports, raised the target federal funds rate 25 basis points to between 0.50 percent and 0.75 percent.

U.S. bond yields moved higher and the dollar rose against a basket of currencies after the Fed’s unanimous policy decision. U.S. stocks were trading marginally lower, but selling picked up speed during Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s subsequent news conference.

The Federal Reserve building in Washington. ReutersThe Federal Reserve building in Washington. Reuters

The Federal Reserve building in Washington. Reuters

Yellen indicated the central bank was, at the margins, adapting to Trump as “some of the participants” on the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee began shifting fiscal policy assumptions.

“We are operating under a cloud of uncertainty … All the FOMC participants recognise that there is considerable uncertainty about how economic policy may change and what effect they may have on the economy.”

Partly as a result of the anticipated changes, the Fed sees three rate hikes in 2017 instead of the two foreseen in September. Yellen called that a “very modest adjustment” driven by strong job gains, evidence of faster inflation, and the expected impact of Trump’s policies.

But she also said Wednesday’s rate increase should be “understood as a reflection of the confidence we have in the progress the economy has made.

In addition to its policy statement, the Fed issued fresh economic forecasts that indicated the current once-a-year pace of rate increases will accelerate next year. Markets and the Fed appeared to be close on their rate outlooks, with Fed futures markets pricing in at least two and possibly three hikes in 2017, up from one to two prior to this week’s meeting.

With President-elect Donald Trump planning a simultaneous round of tax cuts and increased spending on infrastructure, central bank policymakers shifted their outlook to one of slightly faster growth, lower unemployment and inflation just under the Fed’s 2 percent target.

The Fed’s projected three rate increases next year would be followed by another three increases in both 2018 and 2019 before the rate levels off at a long-run “normal” 3.0 percent.

That is slightly higher than three months ago, a sign the Fed feels the economy is still gaining traction.

“They didn’t mention the fiscal stimulus but typically their aggressiveness does indicate that there’s a little more confidence that they can get away with three hikes next year,” said Aaron Kohli, interest rate strategist at BMO Capital Markets.

The Fed continued to describe that pace as “gradual,” keeping policy still slightly loose and supporting some further improvement in the job market.

It sees unemployment falling to 4.5 percent next year and remaining at that level, which is considered to be close to full employment. The economy is projected to grow 2.1 percent in 2017, up from a previous forecast of 2.0 percent.

TRUMP IMPACT

US bond yields had already begun moving higher following the Trump’s 8 Nov victory and as expectations of the Fed rate increase solidified. By the start of this week, trading in fed funds futures assigned a greater than 95 percent likelihood to a rate hike, according to data compiled by the CME Group.

All 120 economists in a recent Reuters poll had expected a rate hike on Wednesday. In the weeks following the election, Fed policymakers have said Trump’s proposals could push the economy into a higher gear in the short run.

Even though the details of the Republican businessman’s plans remain uncertain, Wednesday’s statement marked a rare case in the post-crisis era in which the Fed moved its interest rate outlook higher.

Risks to the outlook remain “roughly balanced” between factors that could slow or accelerate the economy beyond what the central bank anticipates, the Fed said, no change from its assessment last month.

The rate increase was the first since last December and only the second since the 2007-2009 financial crisis, when the Fed cut rates to near zero and deployed other tools such as massive bond purchases to stabilise the economy.

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 07:40 IST

The toxic waters of religion

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even as numerous steps are being taken towards cleaning the Ganga, Yamuna, and other rivers, researchers continue to suggest that various religious practices are responsible for polluting the holy waters on a much larger scale than toxic industrial waste.While yagnas (fire rituals), days of fasting, and walking barefoot to the shrine make up most Hindu activities, taking a ‘dip’ in ‘holy water’ to wash away the sins of mortals is a ritual often followed during various festivals. Even the immersion of deities after keeping them for days at home is another ritual causing damage to rivers.Every time a pilgrim takes a ‘holy’ dip in those river, they swallow copious amounts of toxic material flushed from power plants or the waste thrown in the river.In the latest trend, Chath puja in Delhi was observed by taking a dip in the pond at India Gate or at the already polluted Yamuna where huge idols of Lord Ganesha and Goddess Kali are also immersed every year. During the month of September, devotees flock to the beaches of Mumbai with thousands of Ganesh idols for immersion, days after which the idols often wash up on shore.Also, cremated remains are floated in the river, believing the dead will not attain salvation if the last remains are not immersed. This practice is adding to the woes of the rising problem of water pollution. According to a Rishikesh based NGO, Ganga Action Parivar, “When the river in Har Ki Pauri, Haridwar is cleaned for two months we collect a large quantity of wastes like matki, plastic bags, garlands, coins, etc. Not only this, Hindu’s mostly cremate ashes here. But these don’t harm the river as much as the idols made of cement, plastic, and other non-eco friendly things does which are dumped in the river. It resists the flow of water and makes it stagnant. The only way to prevent this is to use eco-friendly idols.”Poor Hindu pilgrims stand at their makeshift campsite. Devotees believe that taking a holy dip in the Ganges washes away their sins and paves the path to salvation. —Getty Images There are some religions which follow the practice of floating the dead bodies in the river which are then eaten by crocodiles. But with the increasing pollution even the habitat of crocodiles has been disturbed hugely. As a result, bodies now get stuck in the river plants or float to the banks adding to the degradation.“The bodies that are floated in the water to make sure it gains eternity, actually get stuck on the banks and infect the river and creates an imbalance to the ecosystem of the river,” said Vineet of Ganga Action Parivar.The Ganga was known to have self-cleansing effect but with the continuous abuse the losing its charm. According to Rakesh, a taxi driver from Uttar Pradesh residing in Mumbai, there is nothing wrong with the Ganga. “It is always needed and is done for good. Ganga can never be dirty, it is holy. Ganga water is used to cure all types of diseases and wash away sins,” he said.Water pollution experts estimate that around 32k human corpses are cremated each year in the Ganges river, Varanasi — GETTY IMAGESExpressing dismay over the deteriorating condition of Ganga, Saurav Tiwari a student of Benaras Hindu University said, “The Ganga river is not in a good shape. Along with industries, various religious practices have also joined hands in slowly poisoning the river.”Not only Ganga but the Yamuna in Delhi and the Mula Mutha in Pune get religiously polluted in the months of September and October.India’s chief sources of water are becoming increasingly unsafe for drinking and for aquatic life. The idea of implementing artificial ponds for devotees to take a dip and other alternatives have never seen the light of the day.

Yahoo says one billion accounts exposed in newly discovered security breach | Reuters

By Jim Finkle and Anya George Tharakan

Yahoo Inc (YHOO.O) warned on Wednesday that it had uncovered yet another massive cyber attack, saying data from more than 1 billion user accounts was compromised in August 2013, making it the largest breach in history. The number of affected accounts was double the number implicated in a 2014 breach that the internet company disclosed in September and blamed on hackers working on behalf of a government. News of that attack, which affected at least 500 million accounts, prompted Verizon Communication Inc (VZ.N) to say in October that it might withdraw from an agreement to buy Yahoo’s core internet business for $4.83 billion. Following the latest disclosure, Verizon said, “we will review the impact of this new development before reaching any final conclusions.” A Yahoo spokesman told Reuters that the company has been in communication with Verizon during its investigation into the breach and that it is confident the incident will not affect the pending acquisition.Yahoo required all of its customers to reset their passwords – a stronger measure than it took after the previous breach was discovered, when it only recommended a password reset.

Yahoo also said Wednesday that it believes hackers responsible for the previous breach had also accessed the company’s proprietary code to learn how to forge “cookies” that would allow hackers to access an account without a password.”Yahoo badly screwed up,” said Bruce Schneier, a cryptologist and one of the world’s most respected security experts. “They weren’t taking security seriously and that’s now very clear. I would have trouble trusting Yahoo going forward.”Yahoo was tentative in its description of new problems, saying the incident was “likely” distinct from the one it reported in September and that stolen information “may have included” names, e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords and, in some cases, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers.

It said it had not yet identified the intrusion that led to the massive data theft and noted that payment-card data and bank account information were not stored in the system the company believes was affected.Yahoo said it discovered the breach while reviewing data provided to the company by law enforcement. FireEye Inc’s (FEYE.O) Mandiant unit and Aon Plc’s (AON.N) Stroz Friedberg are assisting in the investigation, the Yahoo spokesman told Reuters.The breach is the latest setback for Yahoo, an internet pioneer that has fallen on hard times in recent years after being eclipsed by younger, fast-growing rivals including Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google and Facebook Inc (FB.O).

Hours before it announced the breach on Wednesday, executives with Google, Facebook and other large U.S. technology companies met with President-elect Donald Trump in New York. Reflecting its diminished stature, Yahoo was not invited to the summit, according to people familiar with the meeting.The Yahoo spokesman said Chief Executive Marissa Mayer was at the company’s Sunnyvale, California headquarters to assist in addressing the new breach. Yahoo shares were down 2.4 percent to $39.91 in extended trading. Verizon shares were little changed from their close at $51.63. (Reporting by Jim Finkle in Boston and Anya George Tharakan in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Dustin Volz in Washington and Jessica Toonkel in New York; Editing by Savio D’Souza, Bernard Orr)

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

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 05:54 IST

PIL in SC seeking CBI probe in Jayalalithaa’s death

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Chennai-based NGO has filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court demanding a CBI probe in the death of Tamil Nadu’s former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, ANI reported.The NGO has also demanded access to the medical documents of the former chief minister.68-year-old Jayalalithaa, who fondly known as ‘Amma’ suffered a cardiac arrest on December 4, and passed away the next day. She was hospitalised since September 22, 2016.At least 470 persons reportedly died of “shock” after the demise of AIADMK party supremo. The party has also announced a relief of Rs 3 lakh each to the families.Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu Cabinet has decided to recommend late AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa for ‘Bharat Ratna’, the highest civilian honour of the country, and to propose to the Centre to install her life-size bronze statue in Parliament complex.

Cyrus Mistry claims moral victory even as TCS shareholders vote to oust him

Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS) shareholders voted to remove Cyrus Mistry, the ousted chairman of Tata Sons, as a director, according to the results of an extraordinary general meeting on Tuesday.

About 93 percent of TCS shareholders, who cast their vote, were in favour of removing Mistry, TCS said in a regulatory filing.

Cyrus Mistry. ReutersCyrus Mistry. Reuters

Cyrus Mistry. Reuters

His ouster comes as no surprise given Tata Sons majority stake in the company, about 73 percent as of September end, according to Thomson Reuters data.

TCS, India’s biggest technology services firm by sales, contributes the bulk of the group’s revenue and profit.

About 43 percent of TCS’s institutional holders who voted were against the removal of Mistry, according to the filing. Interestingly, 78 percent of voting shareholders who were not promoters or institutional holders were against Mistry’s ouster.

The divisions within the minority shareholders on the contentious issue were out in the open with a few minority shareholders voicing support for Mistry. As many as 38 shareholders spoke at the 150-minute long EGM. Even though a bulk of them voiced support for Tata, those handful who affirmed their support to Mistry were applauded.

Mistry’s office, meanwhile, issued a statement late in the night, claiming moral victory.

“Almost 20 percent of shareholders of TCS that accounts for more than 70 percent of non promoter shareholders supported Cyrus by voting against the resolution or abstained (expressing their disapproval of the promoter actions),” said the statement.

In a bitter boardroom coup in October, Mistry was ousted as the chairman of Tata Sons, the holding firm for the $100 billion steel-to-software conglomerate, and group patriarch Ratan Tata returned to the helm temporarily.

A public power struggle has since ensued between the two sides. Mistry, however, still sits on the boards of several group companies. Tata Sons has called shareholder meetings at these companies over the next few days to vote on his removal.

Indian Hotels Co Ltd, Tata Steel and Tata Motors will hold their shareholder meetings next week.

“The fight is a matter of principle rather than facing the foregone outcome (of this meeting),” Mistry said ahead of the TCS shareholder meet in an indication that he had expected to be ousted given Tata Sons’ majority shareholding in TCS.

“The very future of TCS hinges on good governance and ethical practices. In the past several weeks, we have seen good governance being thrown to the wind in every sense of the term, replaced by whims, fancies and personal agenda,” he said.

Since his ouster from Tata Sons, Mistry has attacked the group’s corporate governance standards several times, saying that his efforts to establish stronger guidelines contributed to his removal.

“Whatever be the decibel level of the voice that would drown your vote, I call on you to vote with your conscience and send a signal that catalyses a larger discussion on governance reforms,” Mistry said.

Independent director Aman Mehta, who officiated the meeting after interim chairman Ishaat Hussain recused himself, said Mistry had lost “the trust and confidence” of the promoter group (Tata Sons and Tata Trusts) which had nominated him and it was in best interest of TCS that he leave now.

Asserting that the core issue goes far beyond the “performance or competence”, Mehta said, “It seems to me that the real issue here is one of trust and confidence of the promoter group in its nominated chairman.”

“Independent directors of TCS have met separately and have reviewed the whole issue in some details. It is clear to all of us that the current issue can have some materially negative effect on the functioning of the company,” he said.

With Reuters and PTI

First Published On : Dec 14, 2016 07:45 IST

Kerala: 14-year-old girl, recuperating from meningitis, dies after being raped by father’s friends

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 14-year-old girl, who was allegedly raped by her father’s three friends in September, died at a hospital in Kottayam on Monday, police said.The minor girl, belonging to a poor family in Kalamassery, was sexually abused by her father’s drunkard friends at her house while she was recuperating from meningitis, they said.The girl who fell ill after the incident was admitted at Government Medical College Hospital, Kottayam, for getting special medical care, police said.Police suspect that the infection caused due to the assault could be the reason for the death.Based on a complaint filed by childline activists, Kalamassery police had arrested Ravi (49), Raju (36) and Rajesh (31) in September for their alleged role in the crime.The girl’s father had recently died due to illness.Kalamassery police has registered a case under relevant section of CrPC after the girl’s death.

Speaking their language

Indus OS rises to become India’s second most popular smartphone platform.

CPEC project reflects growing friendship between China and Pakistan: Will Trump be a game changer?

Pakistani media has hailed the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project as a game changer. Pakistan is optimistic that China is about to transform their country with the $46 billion project. Interestingly, this corridor also runs through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), which is likely to make Prime Minister Narendra Modi uncomfortable.

There is, however, a new player in this game. Donald Trump — the President-elect of the United States  — recently held talks with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. According to a report by Pakistani daily Dawn, Trump said, “Your country is amazing with tremendous opportunities. Pakistanis are one of the most intelligent people. I am ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems.”

Trump’s remarks on Pakistan’s ‘outstanding problems’ has posed a serious question over US’ involvement in India-Pakistan ties and his stance on the CPEC project which makes China a dominant player in the South-Asian region. Many hailed Trump’s phone call and the upcoming CPEC project which will provide Pakistan the economic boost it requires.

Donald Trump. ReutersDonald Trump. Reuters

Donald Trump. Reuters

Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, 43, who is under house arrest, told The Economic Times, “We had zero expectation from Trump, considering the discourse during his election campaign. However, Trump’s phone call to Pakistan, and the remarks of Vice-President-elect Mike Pence on Kashmir are very important. I guess South Asia is going to be the focus for the new dispensation in the US. If Trump administration gets involved in the region, it will be a huge diplomatic shift, which would help us.”

When asked how does he thinks CPEC will impact Jammu and Kashmir politics, he said that the project poses a good opportunity for J&K and allows them to be a part of the Silk Route once again. He said, “We can be part of the CPEC, even before the resolution of Kashmir issue and become a part of the Central Asian discourse rather than South Asian discourse. Kashmir can be gateway for India as well.” He was optimistic about India’s involvement in the project and noted 2017 will be an interesting year as economic and political equations are changing amid Trump’s victory and the engagement of many countries in CPEC.

However, it is a well-known fact that Pakistan has been feeling the pressure from global powers after India took a strong stance against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in light of the 2016 Uri attack in which 18 Indian soldiers were killed.  The dip in relations with America was reflected in the US bill introduced on 20 September which sought to officially designate Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Pakistan in turn has taken the route to gaining grace in China and treating it as a new source of weapons and economic growth. The CPEC reflects the growing friendship between China and Pakistan. As an emerging superpower, China has proven to be a thorn in America’s side. The US has been monitoring the Pakistan-China relations, but has not directly intervened.

India, on the other hand, is trying to balance the scales with Pakistan by trying to make its own inroads in China through the development of a road spanning Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar (BCIM) which is a 2,800 km-long corridor that starts from Kolkata and passes through Bangladesh and Myanmar before ending at Kunming in China.

China’s growing favour towards the success of CPEC has made Modi uneasy which was reflected during the bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in September where Modi raised India’s concerns over the CPEC being laid through PoK.

Besides a host of energy-related projects, the CPEC consists of rail, road and pipelines to ferry oil and gas from Gwadar port on Arabian Sea to Kashghar in China’s Muslim-dominated Xinjiang province through PoK.

Maybe Trump’s victory will play a significant role in the growing tension between India-Pakistan, but the official stance as of now is that the US will be a ‘peaceful mediator’. Only time will tell if that is the case.

With input from agencies

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 20:14 IST

FCRA: Are political parties unique organisations, and thus above the law?

The past year-and-a-half or so has seen several instances of very prompt action having been taken against some civil society organisations (CSOs) based on suspicions and allegations of violations of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA). On the other hand, now we have a situation where a high court has held two organisations — which for all practical purposes, can be considered to be CSOs because these are neither government nor corporate business organisations — actually guilty of having violated the FCRA as far back as 28 March, 2014, and actually “directed” the Union of India to “take action as contemplated by law… within a period of six months”.

But, all the Ministry of Home Affairs — the administering authority for implementing FCRA and which took very prompt and stern action against other CSOs — did, as far as is known as a result of an RTI application, was (a) to write a letter to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs asking for “names of companies falling under the category of ‘foreign source’, who have donated to political parties, namely, Indian National Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party, during the years 2006-7, 2007-8, 2008-09 and 2009-10 and 2010-11,” and (b) forward the response of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs to the Election Commission of India.

If it sounds strange and mysterious, read on.

Having discovered that the BJP and the Congress had accepted donations from an electoral trust which, on removing the ‘corporate veil’ twice, was found to be actually controlled by a company registered in a foreign country, a CSO and a retired secretary to the Government of India, filed a public interest litigation in the Delhi High Court requesting that action under FCRA be taken against these two political parties since political parties are expressly banned from accepting donations from foreign sources by the FCRA. It was in response to this petition that the Delhi High Court pronounced its judgment on March 28, 2016, mentioned in the opening paragraph above.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Not having taken action commensurate with the offence, and after the two political parties had filed appeals in the Supreme Court, against the high court’s decision, the government of the day attempted, albeit unsuccessfully, to amend the FCRA to get the two parties off the hook. This has been described in this column earlier.

It was during the hearings of those appeals in the Supreme Court on 22 and 29 November that the lawyers appearing for the BJP and the Congress to withdraw their appeals against the High Court order. It was widely reported in the media that the senior counsel appearing for the BJP and the Congress said that their clients had obtained clarifications from the government in the light of the amendment made in 2010 to the FCRA. The parties did not intend to pursue their appeals in view of the government’s assurance, …It was further reported that “Under the 2010 amendment, the government had relaxed the norms for political parties for receiving donations from foreign companies wanting to discharge their corporate social responsibility.”

Let us look at the “amendments made in 2010 to the FCRA”.

The FCRA was first enacted in 1976. It came to be known as FCRA 1976. In 2010, it was replaced by a new Act the preamble to which said “An Act to consolidate the law to regulate the acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality by certain individuals or associations or companies and to prohibit acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality for any activities detrimental to the national interest and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.” The Act passed in 2010 came to known as FCRA 2010.

The “amendments made in 2010 to the FCRA” referred to by the “senior counsel appearing for the BJP and the Congress” seems to be a misunderstanding or loose description. An exact rendition would most likely be amendments made “to the FCR Act of 2010 in 2016. There are two reasons for saying so. It is better to present them in the reverse chronological order.

The FCRA 2010 was amended as part of the Finance Bill 2016, surreptitiously, according to some commentators, and this amendment reads as follows:

“In the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 2010, in section 2, in sub section(1), in clause (j), in sub-clause(vi), the following proviso shall be inserted with effect from 26 September, 2010, namely:

‘Provided that where the nominal value of share capital is within the limits specified for foreign investments under the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999, or the rules and regulations made thereunder, then, notwithstanding the nominal value of the share capital of a company being more than one half of such value at the time of making the contribution, such company shall not be deemed a foreign source’.”

The second reason explains why amendment of FCRA 2010 was considered so critical that it was made part of the Finance Bill 2016. A key paragraph of the Delhi High Court judgment of March 2014 says, “The interpretation of the term “foreign source” as defined under Section 2(1)(e) of the Act lies at the heart of the present controversy and begs for judicial consideration” (italics added).

It needs to be pointed out that Section 2(1)(e) of the 1976 Act became Section 2(1)(j) of the 2010 Act when the FCRA was revised in 2010, and that both these sections are identical. The reason for amending only one clause of this section is that it is this particular clause that qualifies Vedanta, Sterlite, and Sesa as “foreign sources” according to the Delhi High Court judgment.

It is important to note that what the “amendment” done in 2016 to the 2010 Act changes is “section 2, in sub section(1), in clause (j), in sub-clause(vi)” of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 2010. This is important because of what the very second paragraph of the Delhi High Court judgment of 28 March, 2014, which was challenged by the two parties, says. This is reproduced below:

“Since the writ petition drew attention to donations made to politicalparties for the period up to the year 2009, we record at the outset that ourconcern is not with the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 which has come into force on September 26, 2010. Our discussion of the legalposition would be with respect to the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act,1976.”

The sagacity of the Delhi High Court judges has to be admired that they clarified this issue right in the beginning of the judgment, in 2014 itself when further amendment of the FCRA 2010 possibly could not have been predicted.

It should not be necessary to point this out to anyone that since FCRA 2010 did not exist in 2009 when the donations in question were made and accepted, the law in existence at the time of performance of the illegal action would apply and that was, and remains, FCRA 1976. Would it not be outrageous if an offence committed in 1980, for example, were to be tried under a law which came into force only in 2012? It is unbelievable that the senior lawyers representing the two parties had not read or were not conscious of the implications of the second paragraph of the Delhi High Court order that they were challenging. Why they chose to argue this way remains a mystery but it seems plausible that this may well have been the reason for withdrawal of the appeals.

It should not be hard to imagine what would have been the response of the home ministry if a CSO had been held guilty of having violated the FCRA. This is what shows that political parties, although neither government nor business organisations, are not being treated at par with other, mortal, CSOs, since no action is taken against them even after a high court has found them unambiguously guilty of having committed an offence against the law of the land.

Now that the high court judgment has, in a way, been reaffirmed, all eyes are on the home ministry to see what action does it take and when. A former secretary to the Government of India has already written to the home ministry to de-register the two parties.

Whether political parties are actually covered by the law of the land, like other CSOs, should be known soon.

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 08:11 IST

Rajinikanth describes Jayalalithaa as a ‘kohinoor diamond’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tamil ‘Superstar’ Rajinikanth on Sunday paid rich tributes to late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, describing her as a ‘kohinoor diamond’ who had made her way up through difficulties in a male-dominated society.At a condolence meeting, organised by the South Indian Artistes’ Association or the Nadigar Sangam for Jayalalithaa and actor-journalist Cho S Ramaswami, Rajinikanth also recalled his strong statements against her during the 1996 Assembly polls, which had “hurt” her.”I had hurt her. I was a key reason for her (party’s) defeat,” he said, referring to his criticism of the then AIADMK government.The actor had then famously remarked that “even god can’t save Tamil Nadu” if Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK was elected to power again. The then DMK-TMC (Tamil Maanila Congress) combine had swept the polls amid strong anti-incumbency.Jayalalithaa, however, later proved to be a “golden-hearted” leader, Rajinikanth said.Paying rich tributes to the former chief minister, he said it was with great difficulty that she could take over the reins of the AIADMK following the death of its founder and her political mentor MG Ramachandran and that she had even overtaken him in achievements.Having lost her father at the age of two and mother 20 years later, she faced various challenges including having no family but achieved fame by hard work in a male-dominated society, he said. “Today, she is resting like a kohinoor diamond at the MGR memorial site and enjoys the love and affection of so many people,” he added.Hospitalised on September 22 and having suffered a cardiac arrest on December 4, 68-year-old Jayalalithaa had passed away the next day.Rajinikanth also paid rich tributes to Ramaswamy, his long time friend. Ramaswamy, a veteran journalist, satirist, playwright and actor died of illness on December 7.

Punjab election 2017: Sufi singer-turned-politician Hans Raj Hans quits Congress, joins BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Two months ahead of Punjab Assembly elections, Sufi singer-turned-politician Hans Raj Hans has quit Congress. Hans joined Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at party headquarters in Delhi, in presence of BJP Chief Amit Shah on Saturday.A former member of ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Hans had contested the Lok Sabha elections from Jhalandhar in 2009, but faced defeat. He had left SAD and joined Congress in February early this year and was welcomed by Punjab Congress Chief Captain Amarinder Singh. However, the relations had struck a sour chord after Hans was not selected to be nominated for the Rajya Sabha seat and another leader Shamsher Singh Dullo was elected unopposed to Rajya Sabha.Miffed over being sidelined, he had lambasted Congress leaders in a party Dalit Outreach programme in September and alleged discrimination of the Balmiki community which he represented.On Saturday, he called Prime Minister, Narendra Modi a ‘Babbar sher’ and said that he was influenced by various key decisions taken by Modi. A Padam Shree awardee, Hans is popular for his Sufi songs and hails from Jalandhar in Punjab. The state is set for Assembly elections in February next year.

Modi meets his mother in Gujarat

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is in Gujarat for a day, visited his mother Hiraba on Saturday at Raisan village near here and sought her blessings before heading for a BJP meet. Modi, who addressed a public rally in Deesa town of Banaskantha district earlier in the day, reached the residence of his brother Pankaj Modi in Raisan village near the state capital where his 97-year-old mother Hiraba stays.”Before arriving for the party meeting at the BJP headquarters in Koba, which is around 7 kms from Raisan, the Prime Minister decided to meet his mother and take her blessings,” said a BJP leader. “Modi ji spent around 20 minutes with his mother after arriving at Gandhinagar. He then came to the party headquarters for the meeting,” the leader said. Earlier, during his Gujarat visit on September 17, which was his 66th birthday, Modi had met Hiraba and took her blessings.

Post Jayalalithaa’s death, CM Pannerselvam to chair first Cabinet meeting tomorrow

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Pannerselvam, who assumed the top office after the passing away of incumbent and ruling AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa days ago, will chair the first meeting of his cabinet in Chennai on Saturday at the state secretariat.The meeting is set to begin at 11:30 am when a resolution was expected to be adopted condoling the demise of the four-time chief minister Jayalalithaa on December 5, party sources said. “Tamil Nadu Cabinet meeting tomorrow at 11:30 am. Honourable Chief Minister O Panneerselvam to chair the meet,” AIADMK said in a tweet on Friday.Jayalalithaa, 68, died after suffering a cardiac arrest at the Apollo Hospitals while undergoing treatment for ailments since September 22.The cabinet meeting comes against the backdrop of the allegation of main opposition DMK in the past more than two months that the government was “non-functional” PMK had on Dec 7 said that the government administration which was in a “limbo” in recent past should “start functioning now” with Panneerselvam at the helm.

Maharashtra: Govt claims rise in death of tribal children, mothers not due to malnutrition

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Underlining the grim social disparities in Maharashtra, the government has admitted that tribal areas in the state have recorded the death of almost 8,000 children and over 450 mothers in around two years. In a written reply to a question by Sandeep Naik (NCP- Airoli) and others in the winter session of the state legislative assembly on Friday, health minister Dr Deepak Sawant said that 16 tribal districts in the state had recorded the death of 6,589 children below the age of six years and 306 mothers in the 2015-16 financial year. In the present 2016-17 fiscal, a total of 1,454 children have died and 153 cases of maternal mortality have been recorded till October 2016. Sawant however claimed that the health department was working effectively to combat child and maternal mortality. In his reply, the health minister said that while 283 children had died at Melghat in Amravati in 2015-16, these were not due to malnutrition but because of pneumonia, low birth weight, early births, asphyxia and infections. Shahapur and Dolkhamb in Thane district also recorded the death of 29 mothers and four children between January and June 2016. Meanwhile, in another written reply to a question by Amit Vilasrao Deshmukh (Congress- Latur city) and others, women and child development minister Pankaja Munde claimed that a decline in malnutrition had been observed this year compared to the previous year. However, there has been a marginal rise in the figures for Palghar, Nandurbar, Jalgaon, Raigad, Gadchiroli, Nagpur, Amravati, Nanded and Mumbai city in September 2016 when compared to last year. This was because of diseases like diarrhoea, cholera and pneumonia that happened during the rainy season. A total of 147 children between the age of zero and six died between April and August 2016 at Mokhada, Jawhar, Vikramgad and Wada in Palghar district, but Munde claimed that this was because of various ailments and diseases and not because of malnutrition.

Justice Katju wants SC to hear contempt case before winter vacation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Supreme Court judge Justice Markandey Katju moved the apex court on Friday seeking early hearing of a contempt case against him for allegedly using “intemperate” language and “scandalising” the judiciary. A bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi agreed to look into the submission made by senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, on behalf of Justice Katju, who mentioned the matter for early hearing, saying it should be listed before the winter vacation. To this, the bench said, “You file a proper application and we will look into it”. Dhavan said that he has already filed the application. On November 11, the apex court had issued contempt notice to Justice Katju after taking note of Katju’s statement in a blog and said that it constituted a serious assault on judges and not on the judgement. Justice Katju had appeared in the court following its October 17 direction asking him to be present and debate his Facebook post criticising an SC verdict by which the convict in Soumya rape case had escaped gallows as he was acquitted of the murder charge.It had asked him to appear before the court to point out the “fundamental flaws” in the case. The issue of contempt was raised after the bench had dismissed the review petitions filed by the Kerala government and the mother of Soumya challenging the acquittal of the convict of the murder charge.Justice Katju had protested against the decision to issue contempt notice and said the judges were threatening him and it was not proper for them to behave in such manner with a former judge of the apex court. He was summoned as he in his blog had claimed that there was “grave error” in the judgement acquitting the accused in the murder case and he was asked to assist the bench during the hearing of the review petition. Justice Katju, through his Facebook post on September 15, had criticised the verdict commuting to life the death sentence awarded to Govindachamy for raping 23-year-old sales representative Soumya on February 1, 2011, after she fell out a moving train in Kerala.While issuing notice to Justice Katju, the bench had also quoted the post which said, “It is regrettable that the court has not read section 300 IPC (culpable homicide is murder, if the act by which the death is caused is done with the intention of causing death) carefully. The judgement needs to be reviewed in an open court hearing.”

Jayalalithaa’s death still a mystery, Tamil actor Gautami writes to Modi

Chennai: Tamil actor Gautami Tadimalla has written a blogpost addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi where she has raised questions about the “secrecy” maintained by the Tamil Nadu government during the treatment of its late chief minister Jayalalithaa.

The 48-year-old star questioned why nobody was allowed access to her when she was admitted in the hospital.

Jayalalithaa died on 5 December at the age of 68 following cardiac arrest. She was admitted to Apollo Hospital on 22 September, here after she complained of fever and dehydration.

“Her demise is all the more tragic and unsettling because of the circumstances over the past few months and the sheer volume of unanswered questions about our late Chief Minister’s hospitalisation, treatment, reported recovery and very sudden passing.

Tamil Nadu's former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa's mortal remains being carried before trating her funeral procession in Chennai on Tuesday. PTITamil Nadu's former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa's mortal remains being carried before trating her funeral procession in Chennai on Tuesday. PTI

Tamil Nadu’s former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s mortal remains being carried before trating her funeral procession in Chennai on Tuesday. PTI

“There has been a near total blanketing of information regarding these matters. Nobody had been allowed access to her and many dignitaries who visited her with deep concern were denied an opportunity to convey their wishes in person. Why this secrecy and isolation of a beloved public leader and the head of the Tamil Nadu government? What/whose authority restricted access to the late Chief Minister?,” she wrote.

Gautami said she would like to know the people who were taking all the decisions regarding Jayalalithaa’s treatment.

The actor said it’s the right of every Indian citizen to know about their democratically elected leaders.

“Who were the concerned persons who were making the decisions about Selvi Dr J Jayalalithaa ji’s treatment and care when her health was apparently in such a delicate state? And who is responsible for these answers to the people? These and many other burning questions are being asked by the people of Tamil Nadu and I echo their voice in bringing them to your ears, sir.”

Gautami was recently in news for her separation from live-in partner, actor Kamal Haasan.

First Published On : Dec 9, 2016 15:25 IST

Why so much secrecy about Jayalalithaa’s death? Tamil actor Gautami

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tamil actor Gautami Tadimalla has written a blogpost addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi where she has raised questions about the “secrecy” maintained by the Tamil Nadu government during the treatment of its late chief minister Jayalalithaa.The 48-year-old star questioned why nobody was allowed access to her when she was admitted in the hospital. Jayalalithaa died on December 5 at the age of 68 following cardiac arrest.She was admitted to Apollo Hospital on September 22, here after she complained of fever and dehydration. “Her demise is all the more tragic and unsettling because of the circumstances over the past few months and the sheer volume of unanswered questions about our late Chief Minister’s hospitalisation, treatment, reported recovery and very sudden passing.”There has been a near total blanketing of information regarding these matters. Nobody had been allowed access to her and many dignitaries who visited her with deep concern were denied an opportunity to convey their wishes in person. Why this secrecy and isolation of a beloved public leader and the head of the Tamil Nadu government? What/whose authority restricted access to the late Chief Minister?,” she wrote.Gautami said she would like to know the people who were taking all the decisions regarding Jayalalithaa’s treatment.The actor said it’s the right of every Indian citizen to know about their democratically elected leaders.”Who were the concerned persons who were making the decisions about Selvi Dr J Jayalalithaa ji’s treatment and care when her health was apparently in such a delicate state? And who is responsible for these answers to the people? These and many other burning questions are being asked by the people of Tamil Nadu and I echo their voice in bringing them to your ears, sir.”Gautami was recently in news for her separation from live-in partner, actor Kamal Haasan.

Markandey Katju moves Supreme Court seeking early hearing in contempt of court case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former judge Justice Markandey Katju moved the Supreme Court on Friday seeking early hearing of his contempt case. The top court asked Katju to file a proper application in this regard after which the court will look into it.Katju was held in contempt of court on November 12. Justice Gogoi stated that the apex court was holding Katju in contempt of court, as the former SC judge had made personal remarks in two posts— on September 17 and 18 — on a social networking site against judges who had pronounced a ruling on the Soumya rape-murder case. A bench led by Justice Ranjan Gogoi, along with Justices Prafulla C Pant and UU Lalit, claimed that the posts were “a serious assault on judges, not on judgments.”Katju was escorted outside from courtroom number 6, the very courtroom where he imparted judgments during his tenure amid protests by lawyers who kept chanting, “This is wrong, this is wrong, this is wrong.” As he was being led out, Katju kept commenting on how he was not scared by the SC, even going as far as addressing Justice Gogoi as “Mr. Gogoi” several times.”This is not the way to treat me. I came here on your invitation and I am sorry it has come to this,” he said as he was being escorted out by security. “We are sorry too,” Justice Gogoi said before passing the order initiating contempt action.Katju had been invited by the Justice Gogoi-led Bench to debate on the several “fundamental flaws” that it had allegedly committed in its September 15 judgment on the well-publicised Soumya murder and rape case in 2011. The Bench commuted the death sentence of the man, Govindaswamy, who had been convicted of these crimes.Katju had commented in his posts that the SC had seriously “erred in law” in its judgment. His post had said, “This was a grave error in the judgment, not expected of judges who had been in the legal world for decades. Even a student of law in a law college knows this elementary principle that hearsay evidence is inadmissible.”During the two-hour hearing, Katju gave his submissions for an hour stating that the Bench had not applied “common sense” in deciding that the victim was pushed to death, as she jumped out of a slow-running train in a semi- conscious state after the convict had inflicted head injuries on her.However, trouble brewed soon after the Bench dismissed the review petition. After dictating his order, Katju and Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi were handed photocopies of the posts written by the former justice by Justice Gogoi. The portions that allegedly criticised the judges as opposed to the judgment were highlighted in the photocopies and which the Attorney General had said was “scandalous.” However, he latter amended the term to “intemperate.”To this remark, Katju retorted that “this is a free country.”

India, Pakistan wasted 70 years in enmity, time for uninterrupted bilateral engagement: Abdul Basit

New Delhi: Striking a conciliatory note amid rising tension in ties, Pakistan today said it does not want to live in “perpetual hostility” with India, noting time has come for the two neighbours to decide whether status quo should continue or a new beginning be made.

Calling for an “uninterrupted and uninterruptable” bilateral engagement, Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit said the two countries must overcome the differences in order to embark on a “irreversible trajectory” of cooperative relationship.

Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit. News 18Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit. News 18

Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit. News 18

Maintaining that Pakistan was ready for comprehensive talks with India, Basit, however, said the desire for engagement was missing from the Indian side, adding his government has patience and was ready to wait for resumption of dialogue.

“I think we have wasted 70 years of our existence. Time has now come to make up our mind on what do we want. Whether we would like to continue with the status quo or we want to make a new beginning in our ties,” Basit said.

His comments at a discussion on Indo-Pak relations came amid escalating tension between the two countries over a number of cross-border terror attacks, including at army establishments in Uri and Nagrota, and India’s surgical strikes across the LoC in September.

“Pakistan does not wish to live in perpetual hostility with India. We remain positive and constructive but it takes two to tango. There are serious problems between the two countries. We cannot shy away from them but at the end of the day we can engage in purposeful diplomacy, we can realise results for mutual satisfaction and make a good beginning,” he said.

At the same time, he said, for Pakistan Jammu and Kashmir was the core issue between the two countries and finding a solution to it could bridge the trust deficit them.

“We need to move from conflict management to conflict resolution and that obviously cannot happen unless we talk to each other with sincereity and seriousness of purpose,” Basit said.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 22:54 IST

RBI Monetary Policy: Here are the five key takeaways

The December credit policy was an eagerly awaited event as it came just after the demonetization scheme that was announced last month. Almost every word mentioned by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on interest rates, growth, inflation and demonetization was to be analyzed threadbare. Quite ironically, the stance taken by the RBI was neutral and the basic rates were left unchanged, which was contrary to expectations.

What are the main takeaways from this policy?

First, the RBI had announced that the incremental 100 percent Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) imposed on deposits after 11 September, would be revoked from 10 December. This was expected since the RBI had announced earlier the hiking of the limit for issuance of MSS bonds to Rs 6 lakh crore which will address the issue of handling excess liquidity with banks.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

Second, the lowering of repo rate was expected, though it was not, theoretically speaking, on. This is so because the banks had already started lowering their deposits and lending rates once deposits started flowing in after demonetization. Hence the transmission effect was strong due to extraneous forces. Therefore, lowering rates at this point of time was not really required. The expectation was more from the point of view of assuaging banks and improving sentiment at a time when the morale was low given the impounding of the deposits through incremental CRR requirement. In this context, the RBI has also cleared doubts over the role of Fed rate hikes by stating clearly that all such decisions are based on domestic factors and are not linked with the Federal Reserve’s actions.

Third, the RBI has settled the debate over the use of currency that disappears from the system. There has been considerable discussion as to what should be done to currency which disappears from the system which will happen if the holders cannot deposit the same due to absence of any justification. The amount spoken varied between Rs 3-4 lakh crore. It has been argued that the RBI can transfer the same to the government as surplus which can be used for productive purposes. There has been counter arguments put forward that this would not be the best practice to follow. The RBI, in its policy has clarified that no such thing will be done and that the liability will reside on its book without booking it as a cash surplus.

Fourth, the RBI has brought down the GVA growth forecast to 7.1 percent fr om 7.6 percent, though it has clarified that this has been motivated more by the lower Q2 performance rather than a serious dent in Q3 growth. This may not be too convincing, and in case there is higher slippage in the third quarter then the overall growth process will get retarded further and could slip to less than 7 percent.

Fifth, the RBI has also been conservative with the inflation forecast of 5 percent by March end which is quite pragmatic. Prices of some food products have come down sharply post demonetization as farmers are unable to sell in the market. However, there would be a reversal when the rabi crop arrives next year as there are problems with farmers when it comes to procuring seeds and fertilizers. Also with international prices of crude oil and metals tending to firm up, there would be progressively pressure on prices and hence an unchanged target appears to be in order.

What is the way forward? The RBI has kept all options open for rate cuts in future depending on the economic and liquidity conditions. Liquidity should largely not be an issue till March as the problem is more about dealing with surpluses rather than inducing the same. The reverse repo instrument will become more important than the repo rate, and an unchanged rate structure will be beneficial for banks which are converting deposits into GSecs through this window. On the other hand, more securities in the market though the MSS will decrease the price of bonds thus pushing up yields.

But the important question is whether or not demand for credit will increase or will lacklustre conditions continue to generate excess liquidity? Demand for credit depends on fresh investment as well as higher borrowing for working capital requirements. Now, with production slowing down in several sectors such as auto, FMCG, white goods, cement, housing etc. there will less enthusiasm for investment. One segment which showed high rate of growth in credit was home loans. Here, too, the ambivalence in expected impact has slowed down demand for homes which in turn has led to lower credit requirement.

Hence, with growth slowing down in these two quarters, demand for credit would take back seat, which in turn means that banks will have to learn to live with higher liquidity which will tend to lower interest rates on both deposits and loans. MSS bonds and reverse repo auctions are more often to find mention in the market than credit growth. This could be the story for the next four months.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 07:42 IST

CBI files chargesheet against ex-Gurgaon CJM, kin for his wife’s murder

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed a chargesheet against Former Chief Judicial Magistrate of Gurgaon, Ravneet Garg, and his parents for the murder of his wife Geetanjali Garg, then 27 years old, three years after her bullet-ridden body was discovered in a Police Lines park.By the time Ravneet was arrested in September this year, he had become a Senior Division Civil Judge in Haryana’s Kaithal region.According to the agency, Ravneet, his father KK Garg and mother Rachna were charge-sheeted under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 304B (dowry death) and 498A (cruelty) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 30 of the Arms Act, 1959.The sensational case came to light when Geetanjali’s body was found on July 17, 2013, along with a service revolver registered under her husband’s name. On the day of the incident, Geetanjali had left home around 3 pm. Her body was found in the bushes near a playground within a few hours.The case in this regard was registered at the Civil Lines police station on July 20, 2013. The CBI took over the case after a series of controversial statements by the Haryana police, which had initially dubbed the incident as a suicide.Senior Haryana police officers were forced to change their statements repeatedly after investigators kept recovering bullets every few days from the park where the body was found.FACT FILEThe case attracted attention when the Haryana police, during the first few days of the investigation, dubbed it a suicide. Two days after the incident, however, Geetanjali’s family accused Ravneet of murder, following which a Special Investigation Team (SIT) was set up and a case was registered on July 20, 2013. The Haryana police had declared that Geetanjali was shot twice, a statement contrary to the post-mortem report, which established that the 27-year-old had three bullet injuries – one on her stomach, another on the chin with the bullet piercing through her head and the third one on her neck.Police then claimed that they recovered, on two occasions, the casings of the third and even a fourth bullet. Finally, CBI took over the case on August 7, 2013. Ravneet was arrested for the suspected murder in September, 2016.

Manohar Parrikar says he is ‘not a coward’, but insists India is all for peace

New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday said India is all for peace, adding that peace can be ensured only by a strong country. He also said that he had never used the Army for political gains.

File image of Manohar Parrikar. PTIFile image of Manohar Parrikar. PTI

File image of Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Speaking at the ‘Agenda Aaj Tak 2016’ conclave, the minister said bilateral relations with China are improving, and that ceasefire violations along the border areas have come down.

“Peace is the best thing; war is not the preferred option. We are for peace,” Parrikar said, adding that India had never initiated a war in the past.

On China, he said, “Our relations with China are improving. Those who compromise due to fear of war are called cowards. I don’t intend to call myself a coward. Peace is established by a strong country. You should be able to decide when to use power,” he said. “In order to have peace, you will have to increase your power and show it sometimes.”

Commenting on the situation along the India-Pakistan border, Parrikar said, “There is peace right now. At this moment, cross-border firing is not that much.”

He said he had never tried to use the Indian Army for political benefits. “We are not politicising the army. West Bengal chief minister (Mamata Banerjee) did it. I felt it was wrong, so I spoke in Parliament,” Parrikar said. “Let the army do its work; they are not part of politics.”

Claiming that the concept of surgical strike had become a brand, Parrikar said the success of the September strikes had made others jealous. “I never used the army on a political platform. All I have said is that we took a decision. You can call it good or bad. Surgical strike took place, the status quo of not crossing the LoC (Line of Control) was rejected. Only the forces can cross the border, not political leadership. But this decision, whether good or bad, the marks should be given to political leadership,” Parrikar said.

“Had something gone wrong, I don’t think anyone would have said anything but that it was an ill-managed operation, political leadership was not prepared, there was a shortage of bulletproof helmets or jackets,” he said.

“There are many fathers of success and few of failure. There was success, so everyone was jealous that the government would get credit,” the minister said.

Parrikar said during the surgical strikes — across the LoC in September, and one earlier along the Myanmar border — he could not sleep all night. “I didn’t sleep the whole night when the eastern operation was underway. The pressure of decision-making was definitely on me,” he said.

The minister said the government “introduced unpredictability on the Kashmir border for the first time”.

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 22:12 IST

PAN cards of Mumbai-based family which declared Rs 2 lakh-cr income may have been misused

Officials at the income tax department believe that the PAN card details of the four members of a family in Mumbai which made a declaration of Rs 2 lakh crore under the Income Disclosure Scheme (IDS) might have been misused.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

A family of four declarants namely, Abdul Razzaque Mohammed Sayed (self), Mohammed Aarif Abdul Razzaque Sayed (son), Rukhsana Abdul Razzaque Sayed (wife) and Noorjahan Mohammed Sayed (sister), who were shown as residents of Flat number 4, Ground Floor, Jubilee Court, 269-B, TPS-III, Linking Road, Bandra (West), Mumbai, had filed a total declaration of Rs 2 lakh crore.

According to a report in The Times of India, senior Income Tax (I-T) officials admitted that there were several people across the country who had said that their PAN card and other details had been misused to make declarations under IDS.

PTI had also reported that the Income Tax department has rejected the astonishing Rs 2 lakh crore disclosure by the family.

“Among the declarations received, there were two sets of declarations of high value which were not taken on record in the above figure because these declarations were found to be suspicious in nature being filed by persons of small means,” the Finance Ministry had said in a statement.

In case of the Mumbai family disclosure, the statement had said, three out of the four PAN numbers were originally in Ajmer which were migrated to Mumbai in September 2016, where the declarations were filed.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 15:09 IST

Bulandshahr gangrape case: SC rejects Azam Khan’s ‘apology’, orders filing of fresh affidavit

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan’s ‘unconditional apology’ for his alleged remarks on the Bulandshahr gangrape case and asked him to submit a fresh affidavit by December 15th.A bench of the Apex Court headed by Justice Dipak Misra and also comprising Justice Amitava Roy asked Khan to file a fresh affidavit after noting that the earlier one file by the Uttar Pradesh Minister contained certain errors in itThe Attorney General also raised questions about the draft copy submitted by Khan in connection with the apology given by him. On November 18th Azam Khan had told the apex court that he was ready to unconditionally apologise for describing as ‘political conspiracy’ the gang rape of two women near Bulandshahr in July.Appearing for Khan, senior advocate Kapil Sibal argued that his client had made a general remark which was not targeted at the family of the victim, however, the judges were not convinced and they asked Sibal how a public figure like Khan could make such a comment on the crime.The top court had earlier directed media organisations to submit the press conference or byte of Khan in which he made the statement related to rape case.The minister created a controversy after he alleged that a “political conspiracy” is involved in the gang-rape of a minor girl and her mother on the highway in Bulandshahr on July 29.On August 29, the top court issued Khan a notice for his reported comment.The case was subsequently handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).In September, the court asked the CBI to serve a notice to the minister for his alleged statement.

PM Modi’s cash clampdown gamble may force RBI to cut repo rate

An intense cash shortage in India could force the central bank to cut interest rates to a six-year low on Wednesday as Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s currency gamble threatens to hit nearly every aspect of the economy, from consumers to supply chains.

A majority of the nearly 60 analysts polled by Reuters predict the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will cut the repo rate by 25 basis points (bps) to 6 percent, the lowest since November 2010, while six predicted a deeper 50 bps cut.

Pressure on the RBI and Governor Urjit Patel to act has grown since Modi stunned the country on 8 November with a drastic plan to abolish 500 and 1,000 rupee notes, removing 86 percent of the currency in circulation in a bid to crack down on India’s ‘shadow economy’.

People walk past the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) head office in Mumbai. ReutersPeople walk past the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) head office in Mumbai. Reuters

People walk past the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) head office in Mumbai. Reuters

Data so far shows the measure has hit the cash-reliant economy more than expected: auto sales plunged and services sector activity dived into contraction last month for the first time in 1-1/2 years.

The prospect that India’s robust growth will be derailed could offset any worries about a volatile global environment, which saw the rupee sink to a record low last month as part of a sell-off in emerging market assets.

Analysts say the RBI has room to act given consumer inflation eased in October to 4.20 percent, the slowest pace in 14 months and below the RBI’s target of 5 percent for March 2017.

“We expect the RBI monetary policy committee (MPC) to cut rates by 25 basis points,” said Radhika Rao, an economist with DBS Bank, in a note.

“While lingering external uncertainties raise the odds of a no-move, the RBI MPC is likely to take a growth supportive stance to offset downside risks to growth from the demonetization effort.”

A rate cut is not without risks. It would mark a second consecutive 25 bps easing by the six-member MPC, and some foreign investors warn it could raise concerns about whether the central bank is losing its focus on inflation.

A cut would also come at a time when emerging markets are under pressure after the election of Donald Trump as US president last month sparked a surge of capital flows back into the United States, a trend that could accelerate as the Federal Reserve gears up to raise interest rates next week.

In India, foreign investors sold a net $4.7 billion in debt and equities in November even, though the country is seen as in better shape than other emerging markets.

But a rate cut would signal the RBI’s priority is in supporting the economy, which grew an annual 7.3 percent between July and September, the fastest rate for a large economy in the world but still below the levels needed to sustain full employment.

Investors will also want more details from Patel about how the RBI is managing the process of demonetization after coming under criticism from market participants for frequently announcing adjustments to its policies.

Most analysts say the RBI will likely partly roll back a directive for banks to place their entire deposits under the central bank’s cash reserve ratio in a bid to absorb the extra liquidity generated by the government’s banknotes move.

The need to keep it in place has eased after the government announced last week it would raise the issuance of special bonds to soak up the liquidity.

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 10:49 IST

RBI policy offers Urjit Patel a chance to clear air on demonetisation; will he live up to it?

That the Reserve Bank of India will most likely cut interest rate today is now almost a foregone conclusion. Economists are mostly betting on whether it will be 25 basis points or 50 bps.

The key reason being cited is that the central bank will have to cut rate to boost growth as the government’s demonetisation move is slowing down consumption and economy.

Two-thirds of the 60 economists polled by Reuters said they expected a cut, with 31 of 56 respondents expecting it to be 25 bps, while six predicted a deeper 50 bps reduction. One said the RBI would slash rates by 75 bps.

Urjit Patel, Reserve Bank of Governor. ReutersUrjit Patel, Reserve Bank of Governor. Reuters

Urjit Patel, Reserve Bank of Governor. Reuters

“Given the concerns about demonetisation and the slowdown it is likely to generate in sectors that have traditionally been cash dependant, such as consumption goods, the RBI will try to cushion the blow with a rate cut,” said Shilan Shah of Capital Economics in Singapore has been quoted as saying in the Reuters report.

A rate cut seems to be the only pill that the central bank can administer at present to boost the economic growth and the consumer confidence.

The government on 8 November announced its decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes and replace them with new ones, in a bid to curb black money generation, fake currency usage and terror funding. The unexpected move resulted in a cash crunch as the RBI was not prepared to meet the demand for new notes. The demonetised notes formed 86 percent of the currency in circulation by value.

In this context, here are the key aspects you should watch out for in the policy statement today.

About demonetisation

Ever since the demonetisation, the central bank and governor Urjit Patel have both come under criticism for keeping mum about the steps taken. The two times Patel spoke – interviews to PTI and Quint – he just made a customary assurance that the central bank is doing everything to reduce genuine customers’ pain. That was hugely insufficient to calm given the difficulties faced by not just the general public but also the bank staff. Bank unions have written to the finance ministry explaining the various hardhsips faced by their members. According to the union, the central bank has been saying there is enough cash and it is being dispatched to the banks while banks are getting only limited cash. Due to repeated assurances given by the RBI, customers feel that the banks are rationing the cash to them for no reason and this is resulting in tension. Again, they also have raised a suspicion that the RBI is preferring private sector banks to public sector ones while disbursing cash. The policy review today is a chance for Patel to clear all these charges. Will he speak up? Will he reveal the status of currency printing in its presses? How much rupee notes have been printed? How much more have to be printed to completely replace the demonetised currency? When does he think the situation will normalise?

About deposit amount banks got

This number is important. In the absence of regular details from the central bank, there are many numbers doing the rounds. The RBI just twice put out releases on this data and the last one was on 8 November. According to the latest numbers available through sources, as much as Rs 12 lakh crore worth old currency has returned to the banking system as deposits. This is against the government’s estimate that it would get back Rs 10 lakh crore and the rest will be extinguished. There was expectation that this will result in a windfall for the central bank which could have been transferred to the government by way of special dividend. This is as of now a speculation. The government and the RBI have neither denied it nor have they clarified. So also the case of fake currency. A report in The Times of India has said 20 days after demonetisation only 3.4% of all notes returned were counterfeit. Both these, according to many, mean that the scheme has failed in its objective. Worse still is the speculation that the rich and wealthy have already laundered their money. A report in The Indian Express noted that from tiffin service to dental implants, everybody has tried to beat the system and swap old notes. What is the RBI’s thinking? Is the suspicion that the rich and wealthy are gaming the system that forced the authorities to change the rules every other day?

Growth?

As of now, India is the fastest growing economy. It grew 7.3 percent in July-September, better than the previous quarter’s 7.1 percent. However, with demonetisation curbing the spending power

of the RBI, various agencies and brokerage houses have slashed their growth estimates. Former prime minister Manmohan Singh has said he expected the GDP to fall by 200 basis points. What is the RBI’s take? Its estimate for the current year is 7.6 percent. Most probably the central bank will give out a revised estimate for the current year. Watch out for that.

Inflation or deflation?

Inflation is already trending downwards due to the favourbale monsoon that has improved the productivity of food items. In October, the retail inflation was 4.21 percent, lower than 4.39 percent in September. The food inflation, meanwhile, stood at 3.32 percent compared with 3.96 percent in the previous month. The corresponding figure for July 2016 was a higher 8.35 percent. The slower demand induced by demonetisation is seen further pressuring the prices down. There is even a view that the entire process is deflationary. If it is indeed so, this would do more harm to the economy. The RBI is bound to give some clarity on this, including a revised estimate for inflation. Look out for the number.

One could easily argue that the central bank need not clarify all of these. But given the grand scale at which the demonetisation is being rolled out and the way it is impacting the general public, there is a need for more transparency on the workings of the central bank. But, ironically, the RBI has gone into the opaque mode.

This has seriously dented the image of the central bank. Bank officers’ confederation has even sought the resignation of Patel taking moral responsibility for the havoc in the financial system.

Today’s policy review is a chance for the central bank and its governor to clarify and bring back the integrity of a democratic institution, which has always refused to genuflect before the political bosses in Delhi. The question is will Patel live up?

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 08:25 IST

Congress demands CBI probe into realtor Mahesh Shah’s IDS disclosure claim

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress on Tuesday alleged that the Gujarat government was trying to ensure that local businessman Mahesh Shah, who declared a whopping Rs 13,860 crore under the black money scheme and later tempered it saying he acted as a ‘front’ for others, does not reveal any names and demanded a CBI probe into the entire episode.Expressing displeasure over the ongoing enquiry by the Income Tax Department, the gujarat unit president of Congress Bharatsinh Solanki said the truth will come out only if CBI takes over the probe. “Instead of taking a strict action, Shah has been given VIP treatment and is not yet arrested by government. It’s very clear that no Congress leader was involved in that scam. Because, if we were involved the government would have taken a swift action.Many people are claiming that money belonged to some BJP leaders,” Solanki alleged while addressing a press conference here. He alleged that instead of putting Shah under arrest on the charge of money laundering, the government was trying to ensure that he does not reveal any names. “It seems government is waiting for Shah to give names voluntarily. We are of the opinion the enquiry into this case should be handed over to CBI. That is the only way to bring out the truth. If government forms an enquiry commission, truth will never come out,” alleged Solanki. Shah, a property dealer, shot into limelight after he declared Rs 13,860 crore under Income Declaration Scheme, which closed on September 30.
ALSO READ IDS: Under scanner Mahesh Shah taken back home in police uniformAfter going missing for a few days, Shah resurfaced on a television channel claiming that he was just a front and the money belonged to other people and not him. Though he announced that he will disclose the names of these people soon, Shah did not share any such details with I-T officials who questioned him for two days. However, the disclosure made by Shah has been rejected by the I-T department and a probe was ordered to determine the intention behind the false claim. Meanwhile, Solanki criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for demonetising the high value currency notes, saying “behind every scheme floated by Modi there exists a scam.” “When he (Modi) was chief minister of Gujarat, he made tall claims about the discovery of huge amount of gas in KG basin block by GSPC. Later, everyone realised through CAG report that it was scam of Rs 20,000 crore. Similarly, many people having links with the BJP are now busy converting black money into white on a commission basis after demonetisation,” said Solanki.

Modi’s cash clampdown gamble may force RBI to cut rates | Reuters

By Rafael Nam and Suvashree Choudhury
| MUMBAI

MUMBAI An intense cash shortage in India could force the central bank to cut interest rates to a six-year low on Wednesday as Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s currency gamble threatens to hit nearly every aspect of the economy, from consumers to supply chains.A majority of the nearly 60 analysts polled by Reuters predict the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will cut the repo rate INREPO=ECI by 25 basis points (bps) to 6.00 percent, the lowest since November 2010, while six predicted a deeper 50 bps cut.Pressure on the RBI and Governor Urjit Patel to act has grown since Modi stunned the country on Nov. 8 with a drastic plan to abolish 500 and 1,000 rupee notes ($7.35-14.70), removing 86 percent of the currency in circulation in a bid to crack down on India’s “shadow economy.” Data so far shows the measure has hit the cash-reliant economy more than expected: auto sales plunged and services sector activity dived into contraction last month for the first time in 1-1/2 years.The prospect that India’s robust growth will be derailed could offset any worries about a volatile global environment, which saw the rupee INR=D2 sink to a record low last month as part of a sell-off in emerging market assets.Analysts say the RBI has room to act given consumer inflation INCPIY=ECI eased in October to 4.20 percent, the slowest pace in 14 months and below the RBI’s target of 5 percent for March 2017.

“We expect the RBI monetary policy committee (MPC) to cut rates by 25 basis points,” said Radhika Rao, an economist with DBS Bank, in a note. “While lingering external uncertainties raise the odds of a no-move, the RBI MPC is likely to take a growth supportive stance to offset downside risks to growth from the demonetisation effort.”A rate cut is not without risks. It would mark a second consecutive 25 bps easing by the six-member MPC, and some foreign investors warn it could raise concerns about whether the central bank is losing its focus on inflation.

A cut would also come at a time when emerging markets are under pressure after the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president last month sparked a surge of capital flows back into the United States, a trend that could accelerate as the Federal Reserve gears up to raise interest rates next week. In India, foreign investors sold a net $4.7 billion in debt and equities in November even, though the country is seen as in better shape than other emerging markets.But a rate cut would signal the RBI’s priority is in supporting the economy, which grew an annual 7.3 percent between July and September, the fastest rate for a large economy in the world but still below the levels needed to sustain full employment.

Investors will also want more details from Patel about how the RBI is managing the process of demonetisation after coming under criticism from market participants for frequently announcing adjustments to its policies.Most analysts say the RBI will likely partly roll back a directive for banks to place their entire deposits under the central bank’s cash reserve ratio in a bid to absorb the extra liquidity generated by the government’s banknotes move.The need to keep it in place has eased after the government announced last week it would raise the issuance of special bonds to soak up the liquidity. (Editing by Kim Coghill)

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

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 23:30 IST

Asha Bhosale receives ‘exorbitant’ electricity bill, Maha govt steps in to help

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Maharashtra government has directed authorities concerned to look into noted singer Asha Bhosale’s claim that she received “exorbitant” electricity bill for her bungalow in hill station Lonavala, which has “not been in much use”. State Power Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule has assured Bhosale that he would look into the matter and find out how she got such inflated bill for the bungalow.According to sources, the heavy bill could be due to a technical glitch in computerised billing system. Mumbai city unit BJP president Ashish Shelar has taken up the issue with the minister.In a statement issued on Tuesday, Shelar said the government has instructed the officer concerned in Pune to look into the matter. The said bungalow is located on Tungarli lake road in Lonavala, which Bhosale claimed is rarely in use.Despite it, the power bill for September was calculated at Rs 16,411.84. The bill has also mentioned that the owner has an outstanding amount of Rs 37,168.35 over non-payment of the previous bills, as per the statement issued by Shelar.

Jayalalithaa’s demise: Meet the family members of late Tamil Nadu chief minister

The late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa breathed her last at 11.30 pm on Monday after suffering a cardiac arrest. She had been admitted to Chennai’s Apollo Hospital since 22 September after complaining of fever and dehydration. The actress-turned-politician, who joined the AIADMK under her mentor MG Ramachandran’s tutelage, remained a spinster all her life. But while she remained at the centre of Tamil Nadu politics, her family has seldom been in the limelight. Here are a few of the prominent family members of the departed leader.

N Ragachar:

Jayalalithaa’s paternal grandfather. According to the book Amma: Jayalalithaa’s Journey from Movie Star to Political Queen, written by veteran journalist Vaasanthi, he was a doctor who served the Mysore royal family during the reign of Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV.

Rangaswamy Iyengar:

Jayalalithaa’s maternal grandfather, hailed originally from Tamil Nadu’s Srirangam, but moved to Bangalore. According to Vaasanthi’s 2016 book, he got a job at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in the Karnataka state capital. After her mother chose to enter the film industry in Chennai, Jayalalitha and brother Jaya Kumar remained in Bangalore with their grandfather, where Jayalalithaa went to the Bishop Cotton School.

Jayaram:

Jayalalithaa’s father Jayaram was a lawyer but died when she was just two years old. According to Jayalalithaa: A Portrait, also written by Vaasanthi, Jayalalithaa wrote in the 1970s that her father died under mysterious circumstances after squandering the family wealth.

Vedavalli:

Jayalalithaa’s mother. After her husband’s death, Vedavalli went back to her grandfather’s house in Bangalore. In order to support her children, she took the job of a typist. However, unsatisfied with the meagre earnings it offered, she chose to try her luck in films. She adopted a screen name, Sandhya, and played character roles. She was instrumental in bringing Jayalalithaa into the film industry after the family suffered a financial crisis. She died in 1971. In an interview to Rediff, the late CM said that her mother had been a major influence on her.

Jaya Kumar:

Jayalalithaa’s brother, with whom she lived in Bangalore in her formative years. Relations between the siblings strained in the 90s following the death of Jayalalitha’s mentor MG Ramachandran. Jaya Kumar died in an accident in 1995, as per this report in The Indian Express.

Deepa:

Jaya Kumar’s daughter and Jayalalithaa’s niece. According to a report in The Times of India, she made numerous attempts top meet her aunt over the years, but was not allowed to do so. Back in 2014, following Jayalalithaa’s release from prison, Deepa and her husband tried to meet the AIADMK chief, but weren’t let in. Even when Jayalalithaa was ailing in hospital, she was all alone as Deepa was turned away by the police at the hospital.

VN Sudhakaran:

The nephew of Jayalalithaa’s aide Sasikala. Jayalalithaa once considered Sudhakran her foster son, but later disowned him. In September 1995, he was married off to Satyavati, the granddaughter of legendary Tamil actor Sivaji Ganesan. He was convicted in the disproportionate assets case, in which Jayalalithaa and Sasikala were also implicated, and sentenced to four years in prison.

Vasudevan:

Jayalalithaa’s elder step-brother, who according to this report in Deccan Chronicle, was the son of Jayaram, who married Vasudevan’s mother Jayamma before marrying Jayalalithaa’s mother. Estranged from Jayalalithaa, Vasudevan currently lives in obscurity in a village in Mysuru district.

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 17:36 IST

Jayalalithaa’s demise: Three die of shock in Coimbatore; two attempt suicide

Coimbatore: Three persons died, apparently due to shock, while two cases of suicide attempts were also reported from Coimbatore district on Monday evening after news of Jayalalithaa’s deteriorating health spread.

Image used for representational purposes only. ReutersImage used for representational purposes only. Reuters

Image used for representational purposes only. Reuters

In Singanallur, a 65-year-old painter complained of chest pain while watching television news on Jayalalithaa’s health in his house. Before he could be taken to the hospital, he passed away, police said.

In another incident, Palaniammal (62) of Thudiyalur, died of shock after watching the TV news in her house on Monday afternoon. Similarly, a 38-year-old load worker, Raja, collapsed on the chair while watching the news in Erode. Though his wife called for assistance, the 108 crew of emergency service declared him dead on arrival, police said.

Meanwhile, one person, identified as Loganathan, attempted suicide by jumping from a 50-foot-tall mobile tower in Kuniamuthur in the early hours of Tuesday. However, police reached the spot and managed to bring him down, before letting him off with a stern warning.

In another such incident, a 45-year-old AIADMK worker, Ramachandran, attempted self-immolation near Annur. With 60 percent burns, he is being treated at the Government Hospital, police added.

Jayalalithaa passed away at Apollo Hospital in Chennai after waging a grim battle for life since her hospitalisation on 22 September.

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 16:07 IST

Jayalalithaa’s demise: Three deaths, two suicide attempts in Coimbatore

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three persons died apparently due to shock and two cases of suicide attempts were reported from the district after the news of Jayalalithaa’s deteriorating health spread last evening, police said on Tuesday.In Singanallur, a 65-year-old painter complained of chest pain while watching television news on Jayalalithaa’s health in his house on Monday.However, he died before being taken to the hospital, police said.In another incident, Palaniammal (62) of Thudiyalur, died of shock after watching the TV news in her house yesterday afternoon, they said.Similarly, a 38-year-old load worker, Raja of Erode, collapsed on the chair, while watching the news channel.
ALSO READ Jayalalithaa had wonderful mastery over facts and theories: President MukherjeeThough his wife called for assistance, the 108 crew of emergency service declared him dead on their arrival, police said.Meanwhile, one Loganathan attempted suicide by jumping down from a 50-foot tall mobile tower in Kuniamuthur in the early hours.
ALSO READ Shops closed, streets deserted: Chennai comes to grinding halt after Jayalalithaa’s demiseHowever, police reached the spot and managed to bring him down, before letting him off with a stern warning.In second such incident, a 45-year-old AIADMK worker, Ramachandran attempted self-imolation near Annur last night.
ALSO READ All you need to know about J JayalalithaaWith 60 per cent burns, he is being treated at the Government Hospital here, police added.Jayalalithaa passed away at the Apollo Hospitals in Chennai last night after waging a grim battle for life since her hospitalisation on September 22.

Remembering Amma: The Life and Times of J Jayalalithaa

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Six-time Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, fondly known as ‘Amma’ passed away in Tamil Nadu on December 5, after suffering a cardiac arrest a day before. She had been admitted in Apollo Hospitals since September when she had first collapsed at her residence in Poes Garden. She was initially diagnosed with fever and dehydration, and was later being treated for sepsis. BirthJayalalithaa was born on February 24, 1948, at Mysore, Karnataka.FamilyShe belonged to a Tamil Iyengar family. Her father, Jayaram, a lawyer by profession, passed away when she was young. Consequently, Jayalalithaa had to shift to Bengaluru first and then to Chennai with her mother, Vedavathi (known as Sandhya in the South Indian film industry), and brother. AcademicsShe completed her matriculation in 1964 and took up a career in films, following her mother’s footsteps, after that.
ALSO READ Jayalalithaa (1948-2016): A life called Puratchi ThalaiviFilm Career► She acted in 130 films between 1964 and 1980.► In 1964, ‘Chinnada Gombe’, her first film (in Kannada) was a major hit.
ALSO READ AIADMK chief and Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa passes away► In 1965, she made her debut in the Tamil film ‘Vennira Aadai’ directed by CV Sridhar.► Tamil actor Maruthur Gopala Ramachandran (popularly known as MGR) was her mentor. They acted in 28 films together. MGR founded the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam​ (AIADMK) in 1972.► Her last film was ‘Nadhiyai Thedi Vandha Kadal’ in 1980. Jayalalithaa had also acted in a few Bollywood films during the span of her film career.Political Career► She joined the AIADMK in 1982, at the age of 34 years, and quickly rose through the party ranks. In 1983, she was made the propaganda secretary of the party, and was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 1984. She completed her five-year term in the upper house.► After the death of her mentor MGR in 1987, the AIADMK was split into two, with one faction supporting MGR’s widow, Janaki Ramachandran, and the other, Jayalalithaa who claimed political legacy of MGR.► However, the two factions of the party reunited in February 1989 after Janaki left politics. Later, Jayalalithaa was unanimously elected as the General Secretary of the AIADMK.► In 1991, Jayalalithaa became the chief minister for the first time. She won her second term in 2001, third in 2011. And in 2016, she broke the three-decade pendulum swing of voters alternately choosing the AIADMK and the DMK, by winning 134 of 232 seats.Controversies► December 7, 1996: Jayalalithaa was arrested on charges of corruption, including accumulation of disproportionate assets, follows. These charges were levelled by Subramanian Swamy in 1996, when he accused her of amassing wealth worth Rs 66.65 crore disproportionate to her known sources of income during 1991 and 1996. ► April, 1997: DMK Government sets up three special courts to try 47 corruption cases against Jayalalithaa, her former cabinet colleagues and others. Prosecution was launched against Jayalalithaa, her close friend Sashikala, and two others a Chennai Court in DA case. ► In 1999, she was discharged in coal import deal case by special court; Upheld by Madras High Court. ► She was convicted in the Pleasant Stay Hotel case in February 2, 2000, related to permission granted for construction allegedly flouting rules.► In October, 2000, a special court in Chennai convicted her in the TANSI land deal case.► On September 27, 2014, a trial court convicted and sentenced Jayalalithaa to four years in jail along with a penalty of Rs 100 crore in the 18-year-old disproportionate assets case. She challenged the decision in the Karnataka High Court and was acquitted of all the charges in May 2015. Awards and Honours► The Government of Tamil Nadu honoured her with the Kalaimamani Award in 1972.► The University of Madras conferred her with the Degree of Doctor of Literature (LittD) in 1991.► Dr MGR Medical University conferred her with the Degree of Doctor of Science in 1992.► Tamil Nadu Agricultural University conferred her with the Degree of Doctor of Science in 2003.► Honoured with the Golden Star of Honour and Dignity Award by the International Human Rights Defence Committee, Ukraine in 2004.► She was invited by the House of Lords, London, to receive the ‘Woman Politician of the Decade’ award from the Asian Guild Awards in 2004.► The New Jersey General Assembly passed a Resolution commending her service and exemplary dedication to the people of Tamil Nadu, in 2011.Trivia► Jayalalithaa was fluent in English, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Hindi.► She was trained in classical dance forms like Bharatnatyam, Mohini Attam, Kathak and Manipuri.► She is said to have been the first to wear skirts on screen in Tamil films.► She was an avid reader and had a large private library with a huge collection of books.(With agency inputs)

13-year-old Mumbai boy shoots and strikes gold

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Punit Singh, a Class VII student of Swami Vivekanand School, Chembur affiliated to Vivekanand Education Society, Chembur won the gold medal in the under-14 age group category in the 10 meters event at the National Air Rifle Championship held in Hyderabad last month.“VES School has been largely instrumental in helping Punit reach this position as the school motivated him to pursue his talent, registering his name in air rifle tournaments and supporting with by paying the fees. A focused approach towards his goals, strict adherence to practice schedules and no compromise on hard work has ensured that he always stayed on top of his league. Despite a hectic schedule, he has been regular in his studies and his grades have not suffered,” said Manjeet Singh, Punit’s father.Punit has been practising regularly for the past one year at the Swatantryaveer Savarkar Rifle Club at Shivaji Park, Dadar under the guidance of noted coach Vishwajeet Shinde (Railways). Prior to the Hyderabad Championships, Punit had won the bronze medal in the Mumbai Inter-school shooting championship held in August 2016 and the gold medal in the zonal championships held in September 2016.Without resting on his past laurels, Punit is now planning to train with advanced equipment and imported guns. He is now aiming to test global waters by participating in youth teams in international air rifle tournaments in future.

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