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Mumbai’s Krishna Mandir to get a new look

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>For the next two years, devotees who usually visit Shri Krishna Temple in Sion for Krishna Janmasthami will have to visit Ashraya in Navi Mumbai.The temple managed by the 90-year-old Bombay South Kanara Brahmin’s Association (BSKBA), will soon undergo renovation, giving the temple a new south Indian style of architecture. The association members have planned to relocate the existing deity of Lord Krishna on December 31 to Navi Mumbai for the next two years.Speaking about the new structure of the temple and the Lord Krishna idol which was kept in the temple since 1962, Suresh Rao, president of BSKBA, said, “The idol was donated by a Rajasthani sculptor who made the idol in Rajasthan. Most of the south Indian temples have similar structure but the architectural designs depend upon which deity’s idol is kept inside the temple. The temple is a part of a building right now, but, soon we will have a sanctum sanctorum (garbha gudhi) where only priest will be allowed to enter and main hall (mukha mantapa) with around 3500 ft space to conduct various religious function.”According to the history, the association was formed by the Kanara Brahmins who resided in the city for the cultural and social meet-ups and later made a temple adjoining their association building. Currently there are approximately 4,600 members.While the temple was made up of plaster of paris in the past, the new structure will be built from black stones. Giving more information, Rao added, “The structures of the temple will be made in Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka by the sculptor and later on will be assembled here. There will be approximately 11 steps — also known as gopuram, on the dome which will have architectural designs of various god and goddess.”To mark this occasion and to give a grand farewell to the Lord, a colourful procession of the idol Krishna will take place from Gokul hall with a group of 70 artists performing various south Indian folk dances like Huli Vesha, Betala, Bhooth Kola Vesha, Keelu Kudure, Tattiraya, famous drummists (Chandai) from Kerala along with large number of members & devotees.“We have made a temporary temple in Ashrayas, a senior citizens’s home of BSKB Association. We will be carrying out a procession in nearby areas at Sion and later on relocate the idol. There are 70 artist who will be travelling from Mangalore.”

Apple to cut iPhone production in first quarter of 2017: report | Reuters

Apple to cut iPhone production in first quarter of 2017: report | Reuters

Dec 30, 2016 23:43 IST

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Apple Inc (AAPL.O) will trim production of iPhones by about 10 percent in the January-March quarter of 2017, the Nikkei financial daily reported on Thursday, citing calculations based on data from suppliers.The company had slashed output by 30 percent in January-March this year due to accumulated inventory, the paper said. Apple’s shares were down 0.84 percent in midday trading, in line with the Nasdaq stock index.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on the report.

(Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru and Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 23:43 IST

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British police say George Michael autopsy inconclusive, more tests needed | Reuters

British police say George Michael autopsy inconclusive, more tests needed | Reuters

Dec 30, 2016 21:32 IST

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LONDON The cause of singer George Michael’s death this week is unclear after an initial autopsy and more tests are needed, British police said on Friday.British singer Michael, who became one of the pop idols of the 1980s with Wham! and then forged a career as a successful solo artist, died at his home in southern England on Sunday. He was 53.”A post mortem examination was carried out yesterday as part of the investigation into the death of George Michael,” Thames Valley police said.

“The cause of death is inconclusive and further tests will now be carried out. The results of these tests are unlikely to be known for several weeks,” they added in a statement.British police had said that Michael’s death was “unexplained but not suspicious”. Michael’s manager, Michael Lippman, said he had died of heart failure.

In the mid-1980s, “Wham! were one of the most successful pop duos with singles such as “”Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”, “”Careless Whisper”, ““Last Christmas” and ““The Edge of Heaven”.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Stephen Addison and Alison Williams)

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

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 21:32 IST

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Pune bakery fire: Six workers killed in Kondhwa’s ‘Cakes and Bakes’; fire contained

Pune bakery fire: Six workers killed in Kondhwa’s ‘Cakes and Bakes’; fire contained

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Six people died in a fire that broke out in a Pune bakery early morning on Friday, reports said.

According to DNA, the incident took place in a Cakes and Bakes outlet near Talab company in Kondhwa Khurd locality of the city. Six employees working in the bakery were charred to death, it said.

Though the exact reason for the fire is not known, according to MaharashtraToday.in report, a short circuit is reportedly believed to have caused the fire. “The bakery was locked from outside and so the workers got trapped inside and died in the fire,” it said.

A video shared by YouTube shows the fire spreading to nearby shops. Firstpost, however, couldn’t independently verify the authenticity of the video.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 09:45 IST

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LIVE Australia Vs Pakistan Live Score

AUS vs PAK | Dec 26th, 2016

PAK 91 5 31.0

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SA vs SL | Dec 26th, 2016

SL 240 5 83.0

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Working to address safety issues in train travel: Rail Minister Suresh Prabhu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Indian Railways is working on a comprehensive strategy to make train travel safe and comfortable, making it a preferred mode of transportation for all, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said on Thursday. Therefore, we are working on a comprehensive strategy for creating safe, comfortable, convenient, affordable train journey for the people of India, Prabhu, who inaugurated several railway initiatives at the Secunderabad railway station here from New Delhi, said in his address. Noting that there have been a number of inadequacies in the railway system that need to be rectified, he said the Railways is working on plans to address safety and other issues to make train travel safe and comfortable in 2017.But we will definitely make sure that we succeed in this mission of ensuring that railways will become a new preferred mode of transportation for everybody, he said. The initiatives inaugurated by Prabhu included Commissioning of 500 kWp Grid Connected Solar System at Secunderabad station; commissioning of LED based lighting at MMTS stations; inauguration of Renovated MMTS Booking office on Platform No.6/7 at Secunderabad station; inauguration of Additional Foot over Bridge at Hyderabad Station; launching of Hi-speed Wi-Fi at Secunderabad and Hyderabad stations and Extension of Karimnagar-Lingampet Jagityal DEMU service up to Morthad.The South Central Railway is headquartered at the Secunderabad railway station here. Expressing happiness over the inauguration of the new initiaitives, Union Labour Minister and Secunderabad Lok Sabha member Bandaru Dattatreya said the FOB at Hyderabad station was proposed by him 12 years ago during his earlier tenure as Union Minister. Some other initiatives inaugurated today were proposed earlier but could not be completed due to shortage of funds and other problems, he said.The Narendra Modi government is taking steps for expeditious completion of different initiatives, he said. Describing the Multi Modal Transport System (MMTS) in Hyderabad as his dream project, Dattatreya said he could complete the first phase of MMTS during his earlier tenure and that the second phase needs to be completed. The state government needs to release its share of funds for the projects and that he is pursuing with the Railway Minister for implementing different initiatives in Telangana.State Home Minister N Narasimha Reddy and others were present on the occasion.

Full text: Vice-President Hamid Ansari’s speech at Mumbai University

Arguing that bonhomie between the different South Asian countries can happen only through utilising an accommodating rather than an exclusionary approach, Vice President of India, Hamid Ansari on Wednesday said that it is the only practical approach to the possibility of a “South Asian Union”.

Ansari was addressing the gathering after releasing the book ‘August Voices: What they said on 14-15 August 1947’, authored by Observer Research Foundation head Sudheendra Kulkarni, in Mumbai.

Vice President Hamid Ansari. Reuters

Vice President Hamid Ansari. Reuters

Following is a full transcript of his speech:

“I confess I have read, but infrequently, some of the writings of Sudheendra Kulkarni. Some years back he was gracious enough to send me a copy of his very interesting collection of writings on what Mahatma Gandhi would have done with the internet.

It is tempting to type caste. Could he be called an archeologist, or dubbed a futurologist? Neither would do justice to his work. To me, it is evident that Kulkarni ji has the mind of an explorer, a visionary, in quest of new worlds.

The book before us is one such endeavour, to build a new edifice on the ruins of the past. And yet, because this is not a green field venture, it is essential to understand the nature of ruins on which rebuilding is to commence.

The task of the historian, as Ibn Khuldun put it, is to ‘lift the veil’ from conditions of the past. The present case is also a matter of living memory and therefore not immune from subjectivity of greater intensity. The ‘post-truth’, in this case, arrived seven decades earlier!

The challenge for us, therefore, is three fold:

To understand what happened in 1947?

To examine the role and limitations of the principal actors?

To explore realistically the options for the future.

The happening of 1947 has rightly been describes as a ‘tragedy’ to which the Two Nation theory contributed. The British role, and their anxiety to leave India on terms most advantageous to them, is well known.

Was this sufficient to bring about the division of the country?

Some of the iconic personalities cited in the book, and others not mentioned, played a role in articulating and shaping perceptions for over two decades. Their ‘final’ statements, if such a term can be used for what they said on August 14-15, have therefore to be seen in a wider context of their role in the developments that led to the final decisions.

The critical question is simply put: why was the Partition Plan, put forth by the British, accepted?

Much has been written about the experience of the functioning of the Interim Government of 1946-47. In the discussions preceding and during the crucial AICC meeting of 14-15 June 1947 opinion was divided but both Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel supported Partition. Their line of reasoning, as per public record, was not identical. Nehru felt a compromise with the Muslim League would result in ‘a weak India, that is, a federal India with far too much power in the federating units,’ adding that partition would be temporary, that Pakistan was bound to come back to us.’ Patel felt, as he put it, that ‘in spite of my previous strong opposition to partition, I agreed to it because I am convinced that in order to keep India united it must be divided.’ He added, in a speech in Bombay on 30 October 1948, that ‘we accepted partition willingly and after a full weightment of its consequences.’

Ten years after the event, Maulana Azad attributed the decision of his principal colleagues to ‘anger or despair (that) had clouded their vision’ adding that ‘the verdict (of history) would be that India was not divided by the Muslim League but by the Congress.’

It is therefore difficult to disagree with Shri Kulkarni’s conclusion that ‘history’s verdict casts the responsibility for India’s Partition on both the parties although the Muslim league’s guilt is decidedly greater’ because it anchored its demand on the Two Nation Theory.

And yet, the thought did persist with some of the decision-makers that the impending happening was somewhat unreal, not altogether desirable, and hopefully transitory. The latter aspect, however, was not investigated or spelt out.

Even more glaring was the apparent absence, on all sides, of reflection and articulation of the economic implications of the division of what had hitherto been one economic unit for over a century with its own imperatives and socio-economic consequences.

The theme of the book before us is to project a scenario of the possibility of a South Asian Union with the India-Pakistan-Bangladesh Confederation at the core. Its underlying assumption is the possibility and desirability of an India-Pakistan rapprochement.

Our focus is on three nation-states of recent origin, of different sizes and capacities, differing versions of the past, conflicting ideologies and national security perceptions, but sharing geography, ecology and wider human security challenges.

Our author seeks a solution by plunging headlong into the core of differences. He suggests a ‘cultural and spiritual confederation’ that would subdue and overcome extremist perceptions of those whom he is not disinclined to name, reverts to what was said by some political and spiritual personalities, and cites with approval Maharishi Aurobindo’s words that the desired change will come ‘by an increasing recognition of the necessity not only of peace and concord but of common action, by the practice of common action and the creation of means for that purpose.’

Idealism, however lofty, has to be tempered with realism. Common action is easier done on areas of convergence than of divergence. This convergence is to be sought by moving beyond the traditional paradigm of conventional security into those of human security and human wrong. Both are ignored by the governments and societies in our region; there is a crying need for the recognition and implementation of both. Only then would we develop the perception and capacity for correctives.

A beginning therefore has to be made in regional cooperation with a focus on human security problems, on movement of people and on trade without unreasonable restrictions. The common traits in cultural traditions and historical narratives needs to be transmitted to a younger generation through conscious promotion rather than studied prevention of cultural exchanges, films, and other cultural activities.

The experience of Saarc has not been encouraging and therefore alternate strategies need to be explored. The proposed new structure would have to be voluntary and devoid of overt or covert coercion. There may be lessons to be learnt from other regional organizations.

The practical approach would be to make haste slowly, to be accommodative rather than exclusionary so that negative perceptions are allowed to fade away. Political commitment and modalities have to surface to resolve outstanding areas of disagreement. Foremost amongst these is what the Simla Agreement of 1972 called ‘a final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir’. Its domestic dimensions, as well as the trans-LOC incursions, have been in the news of late. The State is doing all that is necessary to confront and repel terrorism. The State also has a duty to ensure that the rights and dignity of our citizens in the State are respected and ensured and shortcomings effectively addressed. Alienation of any segment of the citizen body within our land does not contribute to the overall health of the Republic.

Chale chalo ke who manzil abhi nahin aa’ii.

Jai Hind.”

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 10:20 IST

Tackle ‘human wrong’ in the region: Hamid Ansari

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Vice President Hamid Ansari on Wednesday emphasised that there is a “crying need” to address ‘human security and human wrong’ in the region to ensure that perception and capacity can be developed for correctives. Ansari was in the city to release the book, ‘August Voices: What they said on 14-15 August 1947’ authored by Sudheendra Kulkarni, who heads Observer Research Foundation (ORF) Ansari also spoke of better respect of rights and dignity of citizens in Jammu and Kashmir and encouraging movement of people and trade including that of films for better relations in the region even as SAARC was failing. The function was held at the Fort Campus of Mumbai University after the venue was shifted from Anjuman-e-Islam in CST due to security reasons. It was attended by Vinod Tawde, education minister, Subhash Deshmukh, vice chancellor of Mumbai Univeristy, Dr. Zahir Kazi, president of Anjuman-E-Islam among others. The book pitches for rapproachment of India-Pakistan, and in Kulkarni’s words looks to “end the poisonous two-nation theory into three peace promoting nations” and bring “reconciliation and reunion” among them. For it, the book has speeches of eight eminent personalities from the freedom struggle and what they said. This, Kulkarni said, can be core for better relations and bigger union of the entirety of South Asia. “The thought did persist with some decision-makers that the impending happening was somewhat unreal, not altogether desirable, and hopefully transitory. The latter aspect, however, was not investigated or spelt out… The theme of the book before us is to project a scenario of the possibility of South Asian Union with the India-Pakistan-Bangladesh confederation at the core,” said Ansari. Backing solutions to ease relations between people that Kulkarni advocates, Ansari said, “Our author seeks a solution of plunging headlong into the core differences. He suggests a ‘cultural and spiritual confederation’ that would subdue and overcome extremist perceptions.” Such solutions, said Ansari come from common actions that are easier in times of convergence by moving beyond the “traditional paradigm of conventional security into those of human security and human wrong.”Ansari advocated this by better human security, movement of people, and trade without reasonable restrictions, and “conscious promotion” rather than “studied prevention of cultural exchanges, films and other cultural activities”. “The experience of SAARC has not been encouraging and therefore alternate strategies need to be explored. The proposed new structure would have to be voluntary and devoid of overt or covert coercion… Political commitment and modalities have to surface to resolve outstanding areas of disagreement. Foremost amongst these is what the Simla Agreement of 1972 called ‘a final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir’. Its domestic dimensions as well as trans-LOC incursions have been in the news of late. The state is doing all that is necessary to confront and repel terrorism. The state also has a duty to ensure that rights and dignity of our citizens in the state are respected and ensured and shortcomings effectively addressed.”

New NSG draft bill may ease India’s entry into elite group

Washington: A draft proposal for accepting new members into the Nuclear Suppliers Group paves the way for India’s entry but leaves Pakistan out, says a US-based arms control organisation.

The Arms Control Association (ACA), Washington, also warns that relaxing membership rules will undermine non-proliferation.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Last week, the US media reported that Rafael Mariano Grossi, a former chairman of the NSG, had prepared a two-page document, explaining how a non-NPT state, like India and Pakistan, could join the group. Grossi was acting on behalf of the current chairman, Song Young-wan of South Korea, and his document enjoys a semi-official status, Dawn reported.

To prevent India from blocking Pakistan from joining the NPT, Grossi’s draft note proposes that “one non-NPT member state should reach an understanding not to block consensus on membership for another non-NPT member state”.

But ACA’s Executive Director Daryl Kimball warns that “Pakistan still has grounds to object to the formula outlined by Grossi”.

He explains that the document will require Pakistan to meet the same criteria for membership as India “but, to engage in civil nuclear trade with NSG states, it would have to win a separate NSG exemption from the full-scope safeguards requirement”.

India is seeking membership of the NSG on the strength of the fact that it is already doing business with NSG members.

The 48-nation NSG is a nuclear technology control organisation formed in 1975 in response to India’s first nuclear weapons test, which used plutonium produced with nuclear technology from Canada and the US. The NSG seeks to prevent similar future misuses.

Current NSG membership rules require a state to sign the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) before joining this exclusive club. India remains one of only three countries, with Israel and Pakistan, never to have signed the NPT.

Earlier this year, India formally applied for membership and was followed by Pakistan. The US, and a host of other powerful western nations, back India’s application, but China and half a dozen other nations are blocking India’s membership, which requires a consensus of all members.

India hoped to join the group during NSG’s last plenary session, held in Seoul in June this year, but the meeting ended without taking any decision on New Delhi’s application.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 19:08 IST

Agni V test firing: India’s nuke capabilities not targeted against any nation, says MEA

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Maintaining that its strategic capabilities were not targeted against any particular country, India on Tuesday said it abides by all applicable international obligations and expects others do the same, while responding to Chinese reaction to its test-firing of Agni V missile.”India’s strategic capabilities are not targeted against any particular country. India abides by all the applicable international obligations and hopes that all other do the same. “India’s strategic autonomy and growing engagement contributes to strategic stability,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.The Spokesperson’s remarks came after Chinese Foreign Ministry hoped that India’s test-firing of the nuclear-capable Agni-V intercontinental ballistic missile that could cover all of China complied with UN Security Council rules and safeguarded South Asia’s strategic balance. Even as Beijing maintained that the two nations are “not rivals for competition but partners for cooperation”, it took exception to media reports that the successful test of Agni-V was meant to target China.Foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying in Beijing said,” We have noted reports on India’s test fire of Agni-5 ballistic missile. The UN Security Council has explicit regulations on whether India can develop ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons”. “China always maintains that preserving the strategic balance and stability in South Asia is conducive to peace and prosperity of regional countries and beyond.” India had yesterday successfully test-fired Agni-V, the country’s most lethal nuclear-capable inter-continental ballistic missile with a range of over 5,000 kms that covers entire China which may also pave the way for user trial of the weapons system and its eventual induction into the Strategic Forces Command (SFC).

Scarlett Johansson is 2016 top-grossing movie star | Reuters

Scarlett Johansson is 2016 top-grossing movie star | Reuters

Dec 27, 2016 23:05 IST

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NEW YORK Scarlett Johansson was named the top-grossing actor of 2016 on Tuesday thanks to her roles in superhero movie “Captain America: Civil War” and Hollywood satire “Hail Caesar.”Forbes said Johansson just edged out her “Captain America” co-stars Chris Evans and Robert Downey with box-office earnings of her second 2016 movie, “Hail Caesar.”Johansson’s movies grossed a leading $1.2 billion at the worldwide box office this year, compared with $1.15 billion for “Captain America: Civil War.”Released in May and featuring a conflict between Marvel comic book heroes like Iron Man, Spider-Man, Black Widow and Ant Man, Walt Disney Co’s “Captain America” was the biggest earner worldwide in 2016, according to data from Boxofficemojo.com.Australian actress Margot Robbie, who enjoyed a break-out year, placed fourth with $1.1 billion thanks to roles in two Warner Bros movies “Suicide Squad” and “The Legend of Tarzan.”

The Forbes list was dominated by superhero and comic book movies, including “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Deadpool.”

Britain’s Felicity Jones entered the Forbes list for the first time, with roles in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” thriller “Inferno” and magical children’s story “A Monster Calls.” Jones came in ninth place with $805 million.Forbes made its calculations based on global ticket sales from the films of top Hollywood actors, but it did not count animated movies such as Disney’s “Finding Dory,” the second biggest release of 2016 with $1.02 billion.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Richard Chang)

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

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 23:05 IST

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LIVE Australia Vs Pakistan Live Score

AUS vs PAK | Dec 26th, 2016

PAK 310 6 101.2

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LIVE South Africa Vs Sri Lanka Live Score

SA vs SL | Dec 26th, 2016

SL 181 7 57.0

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India’s Agni-5 test: China hopes for strategic balance in South Asia

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> China today hoped that India’s testing of the nuclear-capable Agni-5 intercontinental ballistic missile complied with UN Security Council rules and safeguarded South Asia’s strategic balance even as Beijing maintained that the two nations are “not rivals but partners”.Taking exception to reports that the successful test of Agni-V was meant to target China, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said, “On your question on India test firing the Agni-5 ballistic missile, we have noted relevant reports,” to a question at a media briefing here. “On whether India can develop this ballistic missile that can carry nuclear weapons, I think relevant resolutions of the UNSC have clear rules,” she said without elaborating.We have always believed that safeguarding strategic balance and stability in South Asia is conducive for the peace and prosperity of countries in the region,” she said. The strategic balance in South Asia apparently referred to the military balance between India and Pakistan. Agni-5, a 5,000-km range intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is widely regarded as a strategic missile targeted at China as it can reach almost all parts of the Chinese mainland. Hua also criticised media reports in India and outside referring to the Agni-5 as targeted at China and aimed at correcting India’s strategic balance with Beijing.”On the test firing by India, we have also noted that some media, including Indian media and also some Japanese media, have speculated on whether this act of India is targeted at China,” she said. “I think, as to India’s intentions, you have to ask the Indian side,” she said adding that India and China are not rivals but partners. As for us, we think that the leaders of China and India have an important consensus which is that China and India are both important developing countries and emerging economies,” she said.”China and India are not rivals but partners. The Chinese side is willing to work with countries in the region including India to jointly safeguard lasting peace, prosperity and stability of the region,” she said and asked media to report more objectively. “We also hope that relevant media outlets do not indulge in arbitrary speculations and make objective reports and do more things conducive to developing mutual trust between China and India and peace and stability in the region,” she said.Experts say that proven ICBM capability currently exists only with the five major powers – the US, Russia, France, the UK and China.Russia’s land-based Satan missile can reach 16,000 kms, while China has ICBMs that can hit targets up to 13,000 kms.While India is part of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), China is not.

Mishap averted as Indigo, SpiceJet aircraft come face-to-face at IGI in Delhi

Mishap averted as Indigo, SpiceJet aircraft come face-to-face at IGI in Delhi

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New Delhi: A major mishap was averted in Delhi at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport on Tuesday after an Indigo and a SpiceJet aircraft came face-to-face on the runway.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“An Indigo flight 6C-729 which was coming from Lucknow to Delhi with 176 passengers on board, post landing on the taxi way saw a SpiceJet aircraft in front of it,” Indigo spokesperson Ajay Jesra told IANS.

“The incident occurred on Tuesday morning and the matter has been reported to Air Traffic Control (ATC) and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA),” Jesra said.

According to officials, the DGCA has ordered a probe into the incident.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 11:14 IST

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LIVE Australia Vs Pakistan Live Score

AUS vs PAK | Dec 26th, 2016

PAK 268 6 95.2

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LIVE South Africa Vs Sri Lanka Live Score

SA vs SL | Dec 26th, 2016

SA 267 6 90.0

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Mumbai: 3.5 year-old girl abducted, killed by minor boys for ransom; body cut into pieces

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a shocking incident, a three-and-half-year-old girl was allegedly abducted and murdered by two minor boys for a ransom of Rs 1 crore in South Mumbai here, police said.The incident came to the fore last midnight after the girl’s body, which was cut into pieces, was recovered from Kazipura, Haji Kasam Chawl in Nagpada area.The two accused were also placed under arrest in the wee hours, they said.According to police, the victim had gone missing since December 5 and a case was registered by her parents in this regard with the JJ Marg police station.Victim’s parents had received a call from unidentified persons, demanding Rs 1 crore as ransom. Unable to shell out such a huge amount, the father agreed to pay Rs 28 lakh to the alleged kidnappers, DCP (Zone 1), Manojkumar Sharma said.The abductors had later asked the girl’s father to come with ransom sum at Kalwa in neighbouring Thane.During the course of investigation, a 16-year-old boy, who lived in the neighbourhood of the girl and had passed on the information of kidnapping to the parents, was detained and quizzed by the police.Further interrogation revealed that the boy and his accomplice, also aged 16, had abducted the girl on December 5 and later strangulated her with a cell phone charger wire on the very same day, the official said.Both the accused were arrested in the wee hours and further investigations were on, Sharma said, adding that the body has been sent for postmortem.

You can’t make foreign policy based on domestic political issues: Shivshankar Menon

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Your book talks about choices and a remarkable continuity of foreign policy during the tenure of three PMs – PV Narasimha Rao, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh. In your assessment, does this continuity still exist? And how necessary is continuity for the country’s foreign policy?I think all these three PMs had a similar approach to foreign policy. Their goal was to transform India, to make it a modern state. Also because that was a particular period when globalisation, open international trade and economics dominated the scene. Now the context has changed. But in practice, fundamentals of policy have remained the same. If you look at what this government has been doing – towards US, China, Russia and Pakistan, it has tried similar policies. But because the context has changed, the results were different. Today when you see tensions in relations with China, stress in relations with Pakistan, it is partly due to the changed context. Their behaviour has changed. We are at a very delicate stage as far as our foreign policy is concerned. I don’t think we can go on doing what we had always done.You have a history of dealing with China in the Indian foreign policy setup. Since relations with China warmed up in 1988, there had ensued an era of peace and tranquillity. Is there a shift in India’s dealings with China now? Should we attribute it to Chinese resurgence or India’s confrontationist attitude? What has happened with China is that the modus vivendi which we had worked out and formalised at the highest level when Rajiv Gandhi visited and which lasted for 30 years has changed. Our understanding was that we would discuss our differences, the boundary question, etc but we would not allow them to impede normal relations. We did trade, we did exchanges. We now have $72 billion trade; we cooperated where we could externally at the WTO Doha round, climate change, etc. That modus vivendi has broken down. Both countries have also changed.For instance, when we started economic reforms, the share of external economy (merchandise trade) to the GDP was a mere 14% . By 2014, it was 49.3%. Now that means our dependence on the external world is more. Today we have a real interest in freedom of navigation in South China Sea. China also has real interest in South China Sea. But that is a new phenomena. Both are major trading nations and it is in the interest of both to keep the sea lanes free and open. China says they are our waters. So there is an issue. You need to recalibrate the relationship. Look at China’s relationship with Pakistan today. In 1996, President Jiang Zemin told the Pakistani National Assembly that you should do with India what we do. Discuss differences, but do not let it affect the rest. Today it is reverse. China is investing $46 billion in Gwadar and the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). There is a problem today. Only thing we can do is sit together and discuss how we can respect each other’s core interests. And if they overlap or there are differences, how to manage them.Recently US President Elect Donald Trump announced that his administration would walk away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, which means abandoning the Asian pivot as well, of which India was sheet anchor. How will it affect Indian interests?Trump has come to power on a pledge to disengage from the rest of the world, which we may call deglobalisation. On the TPP he always said he would not support it. But it is too early to say how it is going to work out. Trump has already surprised people by speaking to the Taiwanese leadership. He has the potential to be quite disruptive, but politicians don’t always implement what they promise during campaigns. Let us see.Why is India making an issue of the South China Sea when it is nowhere close to its neighbourhood? Especially as other East Asian countries bordering it are locked in security and economic partnership with China and brokering peace.I don’t think we are in confrontation. Some years ago, we had offered China a dialogue on maritime security, which would include all these issues such as our interests in the South China Sea and the Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean region. They are also interested in freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean. Their oil also comes through Hormuz and Malacca Straits. We have new issues at hand. We need to discuss, obviously, the CPEC. Different countries have coped in different ways with the rise of China and with the change in balance of power they see around them. For us, Look East was a response to this, and now it has transformed into Act East.Can you bring some clarity to ‘One Belt One Road’ (OBOR), of which CPEC is also part. Does it make sense for India to stay out?My own personal view is that as long as the road is open for everybody to use and is in your interest to promote trade and commerce, there is no harm. If parts of OBOR work for you, use them. The parts which don’t work, and are actually offensive to your interests like CPEC, as it goes thorough Indian territory, you should oppose quite clearly. Other bits like ports, railways or pipelines that serve India’s interests , use them. But we must insist that the initiative is open to everybody and not exclusive; that no conditions are attached to it and is purely an economic initiative.The CPEC frankly doesn’t make economic sense. I read in Chinese newspapers that the pipeline along CPEC carrying oil will be 16.6 times more expensive than carrying oil by sea or by another road to China. It doesn’t make any economic sense, keeping in view the transport and railways passing through the world’s highest mountains and most insecure and difficult terrain. The port of Gwadar is next to Karachi. With all these factors, the immediate suspicion would be that it is for other purposes like military and strategic purposes, to project power in the Indian Ocean. So for me, CPEC is a problem. Indian government has made it clear why it has reservations about it.But if CPEC or OBOR aids development of the region, isn’t that in India’s interest?Again, if it works for the people, for development, we should use it. Look, we could run a bus between Srinagar and Muzaffarbad across the line, in the most heavily militarised territory with all the backlog of politics and whatever. You can find ways to make people’s lives easier. That is the responsibility of governments. But that doesn’t mean you give up your stand. Governments should not make people’s lives difficult.Coming back to the Sino-Indian border dispute, is there really a dispute? As per old census records, in 1891 the area of Jammu and Kashmir was 80,900 sq miles; in 1911 some 84,258 sq miles; in 1941, it came down to 82,258 sq miles and suddenly as the border dispute arose in 1961, the area was raised to 86,024 sq miles. Why these discrepancies and the logic behind the suddenly increased area?The fact is that until 1954, Survey of India maps used to show the border in the Western sector with Aksai Chin as an undefined border. At different stages people had different ideas. From our side there might have been a lack of precision. But let me tell you there was absolutely no Chinese presence in the region till 1950. By then they had come to Tibet and not to the border. We were consistent after that. Frankly, as I describe in the book, China manufactured a case. They didn’t say they had a problem until January 1959. I think you need to look at both sides. We were a new government; it took us time to figure out.But A. G. Noorani in his book, India-China Boundary Problem, has documented that under Jawaharlal Nehru, old maps were discarded and burned at the Ministry of External Affairs to create a case for a border dispute?You need to look at what happened in a context. This is why foreign policy is about choices. If you look at newly Independent India, there were plenty of problems – looking at refugee issues, the consequences of Partition, fighting a war in Kashmir with Pakistan, trying to integrate the states till 1958, etc. The settling of border issue was not number one priority in those conditions. The remarkable thing is that Nehru turned his attention to these problems and attended to them in the middle of all the things that were on his plate. I think it was remarkable. He showed the sense of history and the importance of these things. It is wrong to then say why they did this, why they didn’t do that. That would be unfair.The acid test of our foreign policy has been dealing with Pakistan. You seem too pessimistic that nothing can happen on that front. Frankly there are intuitional and structural issues in Pakistan that don’t allow it to have a normal , stable and predictable relationship with us. For me that is the root of the problem. We tried repeatedly and we had come quite close many times like in 2005. It is not that we don’t know solutions. We know how to move forward. But there are very strong forces, as I have mentioned in the book. We are actually dealing with many Pakistans. The ordinary Pakistan that includes civilians, businessmen, politicians have no animosity towards India. They are friendly. We spent three years there, made a lot of friends. As a family we were very happy there. But that is not all of Pakistan. There is the Pakistan of the establishment, of the ISI, jihadi organisations, religious right, etc. They have their own views. I don’t think they will permit a normal stable relationship. As long as they have power, as they have in the present chaos in Pakistan, they will not allow a relationship to grow. That is the source of my pessimism. I believe we should deal with different Pakistans differently.Is there a possibility of creating a constituency for peace?We cannot affect the balance of forces within Pakistan. We cannot structure Pakistan. Some world powers have tried , but failed. I am relatively pessimistic in the short term. In the long run, if one starts being rational towards your own interest, it will make peace. But there re are elements there which are very powerful, who will not permit it in today’s circumstances. That is why I am pessimistic.The peace process, you mention under your supervision which had reached a stage of breakthrough had devised a way to find a people centric rather a territory centric solution. Is there any way to pick up threads?Exactly, Dr. Manmohan Singh used to say make border irrelevant and minimise hardships to people. Yes, we did find ways. Whether it was bus, trade across the LoC. But resistance is there. It is a battle that has to be fought every time. I am sure we can reconnect threads. But the primary block is configuration of forces within Pakistan.You held the top security post in the country as NSA after a wealth of experience in foreign affairs, especially so in the neighbourhood. Does unpredictability in foreign policy help achieve goals?If you look at India as an actor, we have grown from the 10th largest economy to 3rd largest economy in the world from Vajpayee’s time. We have an interest in the way the world works. We did well out of globalisation. We are reformers. I cannot say that the present world order is perfect or ideal. But we have done well out of it recently. Now unpredictability is an insurgent tactic. It is a tactic for those who want to draw attention. India doesn’t have that problem. You have a challenge in running the system . For me unpredictability is a tactic, which captains and majors do. Yes deception, surprise, and shock at tactical level can work. But when it comes to strategy, unpredictability is not a good thing. People should know your red lines and core interests. You were the custodian of India’s nuclear arsenal as well. The element of unpredictability in our nuclear doctrine has not worked well. It has not even deterred or helped us change the security system to our advantage.What was our nuclear weapons designed for – it was to deter people from threatening us. That has worked. It was never designed to be used in wars or to stop terrorism. If you start saying nuclear weapon should do all these functions, then you say it has failed. But for me it has succeeded for its declared purpose. They are not war fighting weapons. You know the affect they can have. And with Pakistan, frankly in our case there is a three minute warning time. We are next door to each other. If you are bombing Pakistan, you are bombing yourself keeping in view the direction of winds etc. You have mentioned in the book, that when you went to meet Left leaders, they had congratulated you for the conclusion of Indo-US nuclear deal. But later they opposed it to the extent of attempting to bring down the Manmohan Singh government?We had met all the 12 conditions as laid down in public. They never expected it. They were surprised. Every party, not only the Left, later took position keeping in view their domestic constituencies and political calculations.Political argument was that you are becoming allies of the US. They took positions that suited them domestically . See the BJP, when they were in power previously, they started it. When they were in Opposition, they opposed it. And when they are back in power, they again started it.Increasingly foreign policy issues are being played in domestic politics. Is that tying the hands of governments to devise a long-term and an effective foreign policy?Let me put it in this way. Foreign policy has always been part of domestic politics in India. Pakistan policy has always been. If you look at China policy, Vajpayee made a reputation during his initial days by raising issues related to China. Through the 60s policy towards US has always been divisive . That is good. You must debate what is good for you. But today, foreign policy is being used for domestic proposes for the first time to an extent that it is worrying. You must determine foreign policy to India’s interest and not to a political party’s interest or a leader’s interest or a government’s interest. That is why I have mentioned that when we did the boundary agreement with China, Narasimha Rao insisted on going to talk to all Opposition leaders, right through the negotiations. You are doing India’s work, not Rao’s work or Congress party’s work. Discussion and dialogue are necessary, but I don’t think you make foreign policy on the basis of domestic political issues.You drafted much criticised Sharm ul Sheikh joint statement with Pakistan, which for the first time mentioned Baluchistan. Do you feel vindicated now, since this government has taken up the issue so vigorously?(Laughs) Well, I feel like laughing. But what can I say? I studied history in university. So I have taken the view that in the long run history will take a better view of these things. It was a moment, there was great optimism for a breakthrough. Criticism of this statement was aimed at addressing domestic politics. There was not a word about Kashmir in that statement. That was unprecedented. After the statement was issued, Pak PM Yusuf Raza Geelan came out of the room and on the stairs, the whole Pakistani media attacked him. And you should have seen his face, he was shaken. But when attacks started in India, then they thought it is Pakistan’s victory. Nobody had time for substance. As I said, everyone had their own agendas . It is interesting how history works. We were criticised for bringing the issue of Baluchistan in India-Pakistan discourse. But now they think, it is an important element in the discourse.

Dance of the Dragon: Why India is in urgent need of a new China policy

Between the heat and dust of demonetisation and the pounding of mortar shells across the Line of Control, the twin prongs occupying all headlines and mind space, a fast-evolving development demands our equal and undivided attention for the deep import it holds for the future. India is in dire need of a new China policy.

The delicate equilibrium that defined a major part of the three decades following 1962 Sino-Indian war coalesced into a more stable relationship with the signing of the Border Peace and Tranquility Agreement in 1993.

As former National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, who played no small part in the signing of the contract during the PV Narasimha Rao government, writes in his book — Choices: Inside the Making of India’s Foreign Policy (176 Pages, Brookings Institution Press, 18 October, 2016), the agreement kept quiet one of the longest-running border disputes in the world across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) as both India and China got down to developing their economies and deepening their mutual engagement in other fields.

The deal formalised the status quo and ensured peace despite disagreements over the delineation of international boundary in no less than 16 places. This, writes Menon, has been possible because both countries saw merit in de-linking bilateral trade and normal state-to-state relationship from the “restrictions and inhibitions of the war”.

The strategy has served India well for at least a quarter of a century, a surprisingly long time considering the dynamic nature of foreign policy, but not anymore. There are increasing signs now that the balance of power between India and China has changed. There is now less equilibrium between both nations who may not yet be on a path of direct confrontation but find themselves frequently locking horns on several issues on their divergent paths towards emerging as new 21st century powers.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Not just clashing of mutual interest, a reevaluation of Sino-Indian relationship has also become imperative due to a shift in the balance of international order. As US seeks to look more inward, signaling an end to the post-Cold War era equilibrium where it was the sole superpower, the wane of American hegemony has coincided with the rise of China as a mercantile power rooted in a revisionist culture under President Xi Jinping.

Since the turn of the millennium, as Menon points out in his book, Beijing has clearly abandoned Deng Xiaoping’s 24-character-strategy — “Observe calmly; secure our position; cope with affairs calmly; hide our capacities and bide our time; be good at maintaining a low profile; and never claim leadership.”

Under a nationalist president, China now sees no merit in hiding its capacities and maintaining a low profile. It is bent on reclaiming the leadership mantle from a retreating US. By adopting a muscular and aggressive foreign policy, seeking a greater say in the global geopolitical order and recalibrating its strategic and maritime relationship with neighbours, Beijing no longer believes in biding its time.

In the recent years, it has invested considerable resources in increasing its land influence over Asia and Eurasia. It is building a formidable network of ports and other related infrastructure throughout the Indian Ocean and Western pacific littorals that may serve as the initial platform for its eventual global ambitions. This has obviously resulted in a heightening of tensions with India, the other regional power and US, the incumbent global superpower.

Even a cursory look at recent developments reflect a new exceptionalism in China’s beliefs — the mark of a nation confident about its rise. It bends rules when it comes to own strategic and military interests (like disregarding the Hague Tribunal Ruling on South China Sea) but when it comes to honoring strategic interests of other nations, it throws the rulebook. Consider the way it has unilaterally stalled India’s inclusion in the NSG Club by citing the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Beijing is furious with Donald Trump receiving a congratulatory telephone call from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and says the US President-elect is undermining One China policy, yet does not blink twice before siding with Pakistan on Kashmir, showing a scant regard to New Delhi’s One India policy.

China’s wielding of influence hasn’t been restricted to its geopolitical hypocrisy.

As Reuters reported, China has recently installed weapons, including anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, on all seven of the artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea in blatant violation of international rules on a disputed area. It even went to the extent of seizing on Thursday an underwater drone deployed by a US oceanographic vessel in South China Sea, triggering a formal diplomatic protest and a demand from Pentagon for its return. US Senator Ben Cardin told Reuters on Friday that the seizure was “a remarkably brazen violation of international law.”

This is to point out that if China is not afraid of cocking a snook at the US, it will barely bat an eyelid while doing so against India.

As The Telegraph reported, China on Friday read the riot act and threatened India with a downgrading of bilateral ties because President Pranab Mukherjee had on 11 December played host to the Dalai Lama at Rashtrapati Bhavan during the opening ceremony of a children’s summit.

India has dismissed its concerns, saying that the Tibetan spiritual leader was attending a non-political event, but this building of pressure is consistent with China’s posturing. It had recently issued a similar threat against India over its $1 billion aid to Mongolia — another country that became subject to Chinese bullying by hosting the Dalai Lama.

It had even warned India of “endless trouble” in Sino-Indian ties if, as PTI had reported, India raises objections to China’s cargo service with Nepal, calling India’s aid to Mongolia “a bribe” to counter Beijing influence. India has so far acted with reticence but New Delhi can afford to ignore the provocations only at its peril.

This is not to say that India should wade headlong into a war with China. The Dragon uses provocations as a strategic tool to send across a message. It’s message to India is clear and unequivocal — that it is a bigger political and military power and New Delhi should take that into account while formulating its strategic interests.

From India’s point of view, the time is ripe for a re-engagement based on mutually agreeable interests. Peace with a China is imperative if India is to pursue its own trajectory to greatness.

First Published On : Dec 17, 2016 16:30 IST

Sonia Gandhi prefers ‘non-polluted’ Goa over Delhi: Rahul Gandhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi said on Saturday that his mother and party president Sonia Gandhi preferred Goa over Delhi, as she felt that there was “no pollution” in the state and the people were “very good”.”Goa me akar mujhe bahot khushi hui hai…kuchh hi din pehle Congress president bhi yahan aayi thi. (I feel happy being in Goa. Few days back Congress president had also come here),” Gandhi said while addressing an election rally last evening at Fatorda village, around 30 kms from here.”Jab Delhi wapas aayi to maine unse puchha ki kaisi hain aap, to kehti hai mai Goa wapas jana chahti hu. (When she returned to Delhi, I asked her how she was and she said she wants to go back to Goa),” Rahul said at the beginning of his speech.”Unhone kaha, mujhe Goa ki hawa achhi lagi, Goa me koi pollution nahi hai…Goa ke log bahot achhe hai. (I like Goa’s air. There is no pollution there and people of Goa are very good),” he said.Mid-November, Sonia Gandhi visited the coastal state, where she lived in a starred resort in South Goa. During the stay, she has paid a visit to private museum without any security hassles. The Congress president had also visited a temple at Fatorpa village, 30 kms away from Margao.

China’s Navy seizes American underwater drone in South China Sea | Reuters

China’s Navy seizes American underwater drone in South China Sea | Reuters

Dec 16, 2016 16:18 IST

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WASHINGTON A Chinese Navy warship has seized an underwater drone deployed by an American oceanographic vessel in international waters in the South China Sea, triggering a formal demarche from the United States and a demand for its return, a U.S. defense official told Reuters on Friday.The incident — the first of its kind in recent memory — took place on Dec. 15 northwest of Subic Bay just as the USNS Bowditch, an oceanographic survey ship, was about to retrieve the unmanned, underwater vehicle (UUV), the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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

First Published On : Dec 16, 2016 16:18 IST

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Nepal, India agree to complete work on Integrated Check Post in Birgunj by March

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Nepal and India agreed on Friday to complete outstanding works on the Integrated Check Post (ICP) in Birgunj within three months and bring it into operation quickly. “Both sides reviewed the current status of the ICPs and decided to complete the remaining work at Brigunj by March 2017,” the Foreign ministry s Joint-secretary and Chief of South Asia Division, Bhrigu Dhungana, said.According to Dhungana, 80% work has already been completed in Birjung and the required land area has been handed over to the concerned contractor for ICP construction in Biratnagar. The construction in Biratnagar ICP is expected to be completed by December 2018.Urban Development Secretary Dipendra Nath Sharma had led the Nepali delegation while the Indian side was led by Sanjeevanee Kutty, secretary of Border Management, Ministry of Home Affairs. In 2005, Nepal and India signed an accord to build a string of checkposts near the border at Biratnagar, Birgunj, Bhairawa and Nepalgunj. In the first phase, ICPs were to be built in Birgunj of Nepal and Raxaul of India, and Biratnagar of Nepal and Jogbani of India. The Indian side has already completed the ICPs in Raxual and Jogbani and the ICP of Raxual was already come into operation, while will be operational at Jogbani soon. Meanwhile, the Nepali side has urged the Indian side to operationalize ICPs at both sides of border Raxual and Birgunj simultaneously.The Indian side has reportedly said that they have so far operationalised the ICP for only importing and exporting perishable goods such as vegetables and were of the view that this operation has only put pressure on the Nepali side to complete the remaining work at the ICP in Birgunj soon. In the second phase, ICPs will be constructed in Bhairahawa of Nepal and Nautanwa of India; and Nepalgunj of Nepal and Rupadiya of India.

Girl raped in moving car in Delhi’s Moti Bagh area; accused arrested

Exactly four years since the gruesome 2012 Delhi gangrape, a girl was raped in a moving car in Delhi’s Moti Bagh are on Thursday night, reports said.

According to India Today, the girl was raped in a moving car bearing a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) sticker. “The car is owned by a CISF head constable. The incident took place around 9 pm last night,” it said.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

A NewsX report stated that the police have arrested the accused and seized the vehicle. The authorities are conducting further investigations.

The victim, India Today said, was reportedly waiting for a bus for Aiims. “She reportedly asked for a lift as this car passed by,” it said.

Incidentally, just a week ago, another rape case was reported from the Moti Bagh area, in which a doctor at a South Delhi municipal hospital and his assistants were accused of gang raping a female intern on the pretext of a job offer.

Women’s safety have been a concern in the capital, and the fact that the incident took place exactly four years after the Jyoti Singh rape case, where a working girl was raped in a moving bus, highlights how things don’t seem to have changed much in the capital.

More details are awaited.

First Published On : Dec 16, 2016 09:29 IST

Delhi: Daughter records video of father beating her mother, sister, sends it to cops

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Delhi lawyer has been caught in a video brutally beating up his daughter and wife while hurling abuses at them, reports NDTV. The one-minute video was taken by his another daughter and has been given to the police.The family is from Vasant Kunj in South Delhi. The man has been hitting his wife for 15 years of their marriage for not giving birth to a son. He has been hitting his daughters too.

Pak wary of India’s Trump card on NSG

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India is hoping for a stronger backing from US President-elect on the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership and a host of other issues.Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar is once again in the US, meeting stakeholders. Last month also, he had interacted with “very senior leaders” of the President-elect’s transition team on this issue.Indications that India has been moving at a faster pace on the NSG front is evident from the anxiety in Islamabad.On Wednesday, Pakistan alleged that “powerful countries were pressurising smaller nations to exempt India in the admission process to the NSG.”Sources here said that efforts are currently on to fix an early meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Trump to bring clarity on different issues, which also includes the US support to the elite nuclear club. Earlier last month, India’s hopes of membership were dashed after the NSG meeting in Vienna ended inconclusively. Listing the progress so far, officials here said that they have succeeded in getting crucial support from Mexico, Britain, Russia, Canada, France, South Africa, Australia, Argentina and Brazil. Even Pakistan’s staunch ally, Turkey, has confirmed its commitment in backing India’s bid. One country, apart from China, which has not been so enthusiastic on India’s membership is New Zealand.Last October, then New Zealand Prime Minister John Key stated that “his country would continue to contribute constructively to the process currently under way in the NSG to consider India’s membership.” Key stepped out of office on December 12, paving way for the new administration led by Bill English.As far as the new US administration is concerned, New Delhi can take hope from the fact that Trump seems to be taking a favourable view on India.In a bid to overcome Chinese reluctance, India had carried out a massive outreach. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj worked talked to her counterparts and the Foreign Secretary travelled to Beijing on June 16-17 and parked himself in Seoul to steer efforts in the last leg of deliberations. Senior Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) officials fanned out to different world capitals to explain India’s position to its NSG partners.In his meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Prime Minister Modi raised the issue repeatedly to drive home the importance that India attached to this issue. But briefing reporters, Wang, who was the chief negotiator for China in the South Korea meet, said that the signing of the NPT, “is a must.Wang had also warned that “if exceptions are allowed here or there on NPT, the international non-proliferation regime will collapse altogether.”Govt remains confident of NSG membership in 2017Senior officials of the Obama administration had expressed optimism that India’s membership into the NSG would be done by this “year-end.” This looks unlikely now. However, government sources said that they will continue their efforts in 2017 exuding confidence that they have succeeded in addressing concerns of most of the countries, except China.

Uphaar fire case: Supreme Court reserves order on pleas seeking review of 2015 verdict

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court reserved its verdict on pleas of CBI and the victims’ body seeking review of the 2015 verdict in the Uphaar fire tragedy case asking real estate barons Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal to serve a two-year jail term if they fail to pay Rs 30 crore each as fine. The probe agency and the Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) have sought review of the apex court verdict, delivered on August 19, 2015, sending Ansal brothers to two years rigorous jail term if they fail to pay Rs 30 crore each within three months. The convicts have already paid the fine.A three-judge bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph and Adarsh Kumar Goel reserved the judgement on the review pleas after hearing two-hour-long arguments, advanced by counsel for CBI, AVUT and Ansal brothers. Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for CBI, said the fines are imposed additionally and they cannot substitute “substantive” jail term awarded to convicts in a case. “Fine in lieu of conviction is alien in criminal jurisprudence,” he said, noting that while hearing the appeals against the high court verdict, the apex court had ordered “substantive conviction” by saying that the fine imposed can be “only be additional”.”Enhancement of sentence, subject to fine, is erroneous in law,” Salve said.Taking note of the submission, the bench said, “If you (Salve) are right in the first point we will not have to go any further.” Senior advocate Salman Khurshid, appearing for Ansal brothers, said the core issue was the sentence which comprised both jail term and fine. “This long saga must come to an end. Four more months of jail term will not make much difference,” he said.Senior advocate KTS Tulsi, appearing for AVUT, said that the waiver of remaining jail term on payment of fines was not justified. 59 people had died of asphyxia when a fire broke out during the screening of Bollywood movie ‘Border’ in Uphaar theatre in Green Park area of South Delhi on June 13, 1997. Over 100 were also injured in the subsequent stampede.

Pakistan wary of NSG ‘exemption’ for India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan is wary of powerful countries pressurising smaller nations to exempt India in the admission process to the NSG and feels that strategic stability in South Asia would be undermined if Pakistan’s application was not treated equally with that of India.Pakistani official suspect that powerful countries could force the smaller partners to support India’s Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership bid despite a growing realisation for a criteria-based approach for joining the 48-member elite grouping. “We are pretty confident that NSG countries would not go down the exemption way, but if they ultimately do so and give exemption to India,” Director General of Disarmament at the Foreign Office Kamran Akhtar said while speaking at a workshop on ‘Defence, Deterrence and Stability’ in South Asia. “…There would be serious repercussions not just for Pakistan, but also for other non-nuclear weapon states that may feel being unjustly denied their right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy,” he said.At the same time, Pakistani officials feel encouraged by growing support in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) for establishing criteria for membership of non-NPT countries, Dawn reported. “There are a lot of countries that now recognise the need for a criteria-based approach rather than granting exemptions, but pressures are still being exerted on smaller countries,” he said.The workshop was jointly organised by Islamabad-based think-tank Centre for International Strategic Studies (CISS) and London?s International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).Last month in Vienna NSG members, for the second time in a year, failed to reach consensus on the admission of non-NPT countries. The NSG members have been divided between countries demanding strict adherence to the NPT criteria and the bloc wanting to embrace India immediately.A growing support within NSG has been noted for developing criteria for non-NPT states and the Chinese proposal for a two-step approach for new admissions which involves developing criteria in the first stage and then inviting applications for the membership. He said it was now up to NSG countries to decide if they wanted the group to be seen as being driven by political and commercial interests or else they would want non-proliferation goals to be strengthened.The official warned that strategic stability in South Asia would be undermined if Pakistani application was not treated equally with that of India.Pakistan has been pushing for its membership in the group by adopting a uniform criteria for any new country to join NSG despite US backing for India to join through a selective wavier of conditions.Foreign Office’s Additional Secretary Tasneem Aslam said the issue of membership of non-NPT countries was deeply linked to strategic stability in South Asia. “Today, the NSG stands at crossroads, once again, as it considers membership for non-NPT states. An even-handed and non-discriminatory approach by the NSG at this juncture would be of far-reaching significance for strategic stability in South Asia and global non-proliferation efforts,” she said.

States to steer future suburban network?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It seems the railway ministry has finally had enough of running suburban systems. In a draft policy issued a couple of days ago to all state governments by the Works Planning directorate of the ministry, the latter has put all responsibility of conjuring up new suburban systems in cities on the respective states. State governments have been asked to give their feedback in the next fortnight.The catalyst for the ‘hands-off’ policy, according to officials, is the bleeding status of its seven current suburban railway systems. According to the CAG report tabled in June this year, the cumulative losses from the suburban systems of Central, Eastern, South-Central, South-Eastern, Southern, Western and Kolkata Metro for the period 2010-15 stands at a whopping Rs 13,631 crore. During this period, the Railways carried a total of 3,054 crores, of which suburban passengers accounted for 2,225 crores or 72 per cent of all passengers.According to the draft policy released this week, “feasibility studies for suburban projects, duly considering the technical requirements, site feasibility and operational requirements, shall be carried out by the state government at their own cost.” Another criteria is that, “the complete cost of land acquisition, leasing of railway land and resettlement and rehabilitation shall be met by the states, by providing interest-free subordinate debt to the Special Purpose Vehicle or from its own resources.”Going further, the draft states that “guarantees for the loans to be taken by the SPV shall be provided by the state government.” The future sustenance of the suburban system has been given to the state government. The draft statement states that “state government would set up a dedicated urban transport fund at state level and city level through levy of dedicated taxes, levies, betterment tax, impact fee, development charges and higher floor area ratio in the influence zone of proposed railway stations to create a pool of resources for part financing the project’s capital cost, replacement of assets and providing operational subsidies.”

India, Indonesia call for ‘zero tolerance’ towards terrorism

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India and Indonesia, which has the world’s highest Muslim population, decided to expand their strategic ties in defence and maritime security spheres on Monday and resolved to work closely to combat the threat of terrorism, calling for “zero tolerance” towards it. The two countries, among the very few fast growing large economies, also decided to boost bilateral trade and investment in areas of oil and gas, renewable energy, IT and pharmaceuticals, during talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Indonesian President Joko Widodo.The issue of South China Sea figured prominently in the talks and in a veiled message to Beijing, both sides asserted that the dispute must be resolved through peaceful means and without resorting to threat or use of force. Two MoUs, one on providing for cooperation in youth affairs and sports, and another on standardisation were signed. A joint communique on combating illegal and unregulated fishing was also firmed up. In his media statement, Modi said the talks focused on range of bilateral cooperation and that both countries agreed to prioritise defence and security cooperation, besides ramping up efforts to ensure safety and security of sea lanes.”As the world’s most populous Muslim nation, Indonesia stands for democracy, diversity, pluralism, and social harmony. These are also our values. Our nations and societies have nurtured strong bonds of commerce and culture throughout our history,” Modi, with Widodo standing beside him, said. Asked whether India raised the issue of Indian national Gurdeep Singh, facing death sentence in Indonesia on drug trafficking charges, officials did not give a direct reply but said the matter is under judicial process in that country.Signalling a new momentum in ties, the two sides agreed to commence a bilateral strategic dialogue and a separate security deliberations besides agreeing to negotiate a new comprehensive defence cooperation agreement to broadbase the cooperation. Widodo and Modi also agreed to hold annual Summit meetings, including on the margins of multilateral events.A joint statement said the two leaders condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations in the strongest terms, holding that there must be “zero tolerance” for acts of terror and that all states must deal with transnational terrorism emanating from their territories by effective criminal justice response. “Both leaders discussed the threat from global terrorism and other transnational crimes and resolved to significantly enhance bilateral cooperation in combating terrorism, terrorist financing, money laundering, arms smuggling, trafficking in human beings and cyber crime,” it said.Modi and Widodo called upon all countries to implement the UNSC Resolution 1267 (banning militant groups and their leaders) and other relevant resolutions designating terrorist entities, seen as an apparent reference to China blocking India’s move to get JeM chief Masood Azhar designated as a global terrorist by the UN. The two leaders also asked all nations to work towards eliminating terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupting terror networks and their financing channels and stopping cross-border terrorism, seen as a message to Pakistan. Coinciding Widodo’s visit, Indonesian airline Garuda launched its flight from Jakarta to Mumbai, the first such service between the two countries.Referring to the South China Sea disputes, where Indonesia is also a party, the two leaders called for resolving the issue through peaceful means and in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law including the UNCLOS (UN Convention on the Law of the Sea). “In this context, they urged all parties to resolve disputes through peaceful means without resorting to threat or use of force and exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities, and avoid unilateral actions that raise tensions,” the joint statement said.Both the leaders reiterated support for reform of the UN and its principal organs, including the Security Council, with a view to making the the global body more democratic, transparent and efficient. On boosting defence and security ties, the two leaders issued directives for early convening of the Defence Ministers’ Dialogue and the Joint Defence Cooperation Committee (JDCC) meetings to review and upgrade the existing agreement on defence to a substantive bilateral defence cooperation agreement.Noting successful completion of Staff Talks between the armies and navies of the two countries, they also agreed on holding that air force staff talks at an early date. “They also tasked the two defence ministers to explore collaboration between defence industries for joint production of equipment with technology transfer, technical assistance, and capacity building cooperation,” the statement said.The two countries also issued a separate Joint Statement on Maritime Cooperation, outlining the agenda of engagement in maritime space including — maritime security, maritime industry, maritime safety and navigation. “As strategic partners and maritime neighbours, the two leaders emphasised the importance of further consolidating the security and defence cooperation between the two countries,” the joint statement said.Modi and Widodo also agreed to conclude an MoU on Maritime Cooperation in order to further strengthen and accelerate maritime cooperation. On fighting terror, the two countries agreed to enhance cooperation including through greater exchange of information and intelligence sharing. Talking about trade ties, the Prime Minister said both sides agreed that early implementation of India-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement in Services and Investment, and finalisation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership would be important steps to further boost trade ties.”To sustain the momentum of our partnership, President Widodo and I have directed for an early meeting of the existing ministerial-level mechanisms to carry forward the bilateral cooperation agenda,” he said.The Indonesian President, on his first visit here, said there were detailed talks on ways to strengthen economic partnership, adding Indonesia wants to diversify exports to India. In order to meet energy mix demand in the future, both leaders encouraged renewal of the MoU on Cooperation in the Field of Oil and Gas and the working of its Joint Working Group, to expand wider scope of cooperation at the earliest. The two sides also agreed to work for direct shipping links, private sector investment in port and air-port development projects, including through Public-Private Partnerships or other concession schemes.The joint statement said the two leaders underscored the importance of pluralism, democracy, and rule of law as key values to achieve peaceful co-existence. The Indonesian President and Modi agreed to hold annual Summit meetings, including on the margins of multilateral events.

Narendra Modi, Joko Widodo meet: India, Indonesia agree to strengthen maritime cooperation

New Delhi: India and Indonesia on Monday affirmed their commitment to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).

“Both leaders affirmed that India and Indonesia are maritime neighbours whose relations are rooted in civilisational contacts developed through the seas and who share similar perceptions of the evolving maritime environment in the region and the world at large,” said a joint statement on maritime cooperation issued following delegation-level talks headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Monday. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Monday. PTI

“Both leaders recognised their shared commitment to democracy, pluralistic society, human rights and the rule of law,” it stated

It stated that both Modi and Widodo affirmed the countries’ “deep respect for each other’s contribution to promoting peace, stability and development in the Indian and Pacific Oceans and beyond”.

“Both leaders committed to maintaining a maritime legal order based on the principles of international law, as reflected notably in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).”

The joint statement assumes significance as several Southeast Asian nations have problems with China over South China Sea.

In July, an international arbitration tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruled that China violated the Philippines’ rights in the South China Sea, one of the busiest commercial shipping routes in the world.

The court accused China of interfering with the Philippines’ fishing and petroleum exploration, building artificial islands in the waters and failing to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the zone.

China reacted angrily, calling the verdict null and void with no binding force and that “China neither accepts it nor recognises it”. But Beijing has since decided to go for bilateral talks with Manila.

India urged all stakeholders to follow the Unclos.

Indonesia, the largest of the Southeast Asian nations, however, does not have any such issue with China.

“Both leaders recognised that India and Indonesia share common interests in ensuring maritime security and the safety of sea lines of communication,” Monday’s joint statement said.

“Both leaders recognised the importance of freedom of navigation and overflight on the high seas, unimpeded lawful commerce, as well as resolving maritime disputes by peaceful means, in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law including the Unclos.”

The statement said Modi and Widodo affirmed the need to combat, prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing.

“Both leaders recognised transnational organised fisheries crime as one of the emerging crimes, which has become an ever-growing threat to the world,” it said.

“Both leaders agreed to conclude a memorandum of understanding on maritime cooperation between Indonesia and India in order to further strengthen and accelerate maritime cooperation inter alia in maritime safety and security, and promotion of maritime industries, as one of the important pillars towards enhancing the bilateral relationship.”

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 16:56 IST

Cyclone Vardah LIVE: 2 killed as storm slams Chennai; heavy rains expected, says NDMA

Cyclone Vardah LIVE: 2 killed as storm slams Chennai; heavy rains expected, says NDMA

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New Delhi: Cyclonic storm Vardah, which was earlier expected to weaken considerably, may not see its intensity going down when it makes landfall near Chennai on Monday. According to the Cyclone Warning Division of the India Meteorological Department, (IMD), Vardah, which is currently, a very severe cyclonic storm, will weaken, but only to a severe cyclonic storm.

Cyclone Vardah over Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.Cyclone Vardah over Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

Cyclone Vardah over Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

The earlier forecast made by the IMD was that it would weaken into a cyclonic storm, thereby reducing its intensity considerably. At 9.30 am, the cyclone was lay centered around 105 kms east-northeast of Chennai.

By the time it makes a landfall, its wind speed is expected to be 100-110 kilometres per hours with winds gusting up to 120 kmph. The wind speed during a very severe cyclonic storm is 120 to 130 kmph. In a severe cyclonic storm the wind speed is somewhere between 110 to 80 kilometres per hour. One of the major reasons for destruction in any cyclone is the wind velocity, apart from heavy to heavy rains and flooding.

Rainfall at most places with isolated heavy to very heavy falls over south coastal Andhra Pradesh, north coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry is very likely during 36 hrs. The rainfall intensity will increase gradually becoming heavy to very heavy rainfall (7-19 cm) at a few places and isolated extremely heavy rainfall (20 centimetres) over Chennai, Thiruvallur and Kanchipuram districts of Tamil Nadu and Nellore and Prakasam districts of Andhra Pradesh on 12 December, the IMD said.

Tidal wave of about one metre height above the astronomical tide is very likely to inundate the low lying areas of Chennai, Thiruvallur and Kanchipuram districts of Tamil Nadu and Nellore districts of Andhra Pradesh during the time of landfall.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 16:26 IST

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Cyclone Vardah LIVE: Storm moves closer to Chennai coast; winds clock 100 kmph

Cyclone Vardah LIVE: Storm moves closer to Chennai coast; winds clock 100 kmph

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New Delhi: Cyclonic storm Vardah, which was earlier expected to weaken considerably, may not see its intensity going down when it makes landfall near Chennai on Monday. According to the Cyclone Warning Division of the India Meteorological Department, (IMD), Vardah, which is currently, a very severe cyclonic storm, will weaken, but only to a severe cyclonic storm.

Cyclone Vardah over Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.Cyclone Vardah over Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

Cyclone Vardah over Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

The earlier forecast made by the IMD was that it would weaken into a cyclonic storm, thereby reducing its intensity considerably. At 9.30 am, the cyclone was lay centered around 105 kms east-northeast of Chennai.

By the time it makes a landfall, its wind speed is expected to be 100-110 kilometres per hours with winds gusting up to 120 kmph. The wind speed during a very severe cyclonic storm is 120 to 130 kmph. In a severe cyclonic storm the wind speed is somewhere between 110 to 80 kilometres per hour. One of the major reasons for destruction in any cyclone is the wind velocity, apart from heavy to heavy rains and flooding.

Rainfall at most places with isolated heavy to very heavy falls over south coastal Andhra Pradesh, north coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry is very likely during 36 hrs. The rainfall intensity will increase gradually becoming heavy to very heavy rainfall (7-19 cm) at a few places and isolated extremely heavy rainfall (20 centimetres) over Chennai, Thiruvallur and Kanchipuram districts of Tamil Nadu and Nellore and Prakasam districts of Andhra Pradesh on 12 December, the IMD said.

Tidal wave of about one metre height above the astronomical tide is very likely to inundate the low lying areas of Chennai, Thiruvallur and Kanchipuram districts of Tamil Nadu and Nellore districts of Andhra Pradesh during the time of landfall.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 14:19 IST

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Taliban chief reinforces position with backing of two key members | Reuters

Taliban chief reinforces position with backing of two key members | Reuters

Dec 10, 2016 20:04 IST

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KABUL Hardline cleric Mullah Haibatullah Akundzada has reinforced his position as the new leader of the Afghan Taliban by winning the support of two senior members, the insurgent group said on Saturday.Former Taliban interior minister Mullah Abdul Razaq Akhund and Mullah Abdul Sata Akhund “pledged their full support” to Akundzada during a meeting of Taliban scholars at an undisclosed location on Friday, the group said on its website. Akundzada in May replaced former Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Akhtar Mansour who was killed by a U.S. drone strike.

Senior members of the insurgent group hope Akundzada will be able to bring disparate factions together and repair the splits that emerged last year when Mansour was appointed.Afghan security forces have struggled to hold off resurgent Taliban fighters, who are estimated to control more territory in Afghanistan than at any time since 2001 when the U.S. invaded.

(Reporting by Mirwais Harooni; Writing by Randy Fabi Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

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

First Published On : Dec 10, 2016 20:04 IST

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IND vs ENG | Dec 8th, 2016

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Vardah turns into severe cyclone, to intensify in next 24 hours: NDMA

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The cyclonic storm Vardah turned into a severe cyclone, the National Disaster Management Authority tweeted on Saturday morning. The cyclone is currently 840 km South-SouthEast of Vishakhapatnam. The sea continued to be very rough around the Andhra coast, NDMA informed.The cyclone over southeast Bay of Bengal had moved west-northwestwards in the past six hours with a speed of 17 kmph. The system is very likely to move west-northwestwards and intensify further during next 24 hours, the NDMA said.”The cyclonic storm is very likely to maintain its peak intensity up to evening of December 11, 2016,” NDMA said.A fleet of seven ships and six helicopters on Friday evacuated 2,376 tourists, including several foreign nationals, stranded in two islands of the Andamans due to cyclonic weather since December 5. As the weather cleared in the morning, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force and Union Territory (UT) administration started a joint evacuation drive and brought back all stranded tourists to Port Blair from Havelock and Neil islands of the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago. The tourists were stranded since Monday due to torrential rains, choppy seas and heavy winds as neither aircrafts nor ships could operate due to the inclement weather.As NASA’s Aqua satellite passed over the Bay of Bengal, Tropical Cyclone 05B was renamed Vardah and continued moving away from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.On December 8, 2:50 a.m. EST (0750 UTC), the Moderate Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard NASA’s Terra satellite captured a visible image of Tropical Storm Vardah. The MODIS image clearly showed that the center of the storm was just southwest of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Thick bands of thunderstorms in the north and east of center continued to blanket the islands and bring rainfall and gusty winds.The Andaman Islands are an archipelago that consists of 550 islands, according to Andaman and Nicobar Tourism. There are 22 Nicobar Islands. All of the islands are known for white-sand beaches, mangroves and tropical rainforests.At 10 am EST (1500 UTC) on the same day, Tropical Storm Vardah’s maximum sustained winds were near 52 mph (45 knots/83 kph). It was centered near 11.7 degrees north latitude and 91.6 degrees east longitude, about 642 nautical miles south of Chittagong, Bangladesh. Vardah was moving to the northwest at 4.6 mph (4 knots/7.4 kph).The Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) noted “Animated enhanced infrared satellite imagery shows a recent resurgence in central convection (developing thunderstorms) building over the consolidated low level circulation center. A microwave image continues to show fragmented thunderstorm banding wrapping around the northern periphery with dry air located to the south.” Vardah is forecast to move west-northwest and head across the Bay of Bengal toward eastern India. The storm is expected to intensify to hurricane-force before landfall in India. With ANI/PTI inputs.

India’s industrial output unexpectedly contracts in October | Reuters

India’s industrial output unexpectedly contracts in October | Reuters

Dec 9, 2016 17:44 IST

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NEW DELHI India’s industrial output INIP=ECI unexpectedly fell 1.9 percent in October from a year earlier, driven down by a contraction in manufacturing and mining sectors, government data showed on Friday.Economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast a 1.0 percent growth in output compared with a 0.7 percent year-on-year rise in September.

(Reporting by Rajesh Kumar Singh; Editing by Malini Menon)

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

First Published On : Dec 9, 2016 17:44 IST

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Andaman: Major rescue operation begins at Havelock Island as 205 people evacuated

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The weather in the Andamans further improved on Friday as the Navy, Coast Guard and Union Territory administration began joint evacuation of stranded tourists in Havelock island. Six naval ships, two of these from Coast Guard, sailed out in the morning hours from Port Blair for the rescue operations, officials said.The Indian Air Force told ANI that four shuttles were carried out and 85 tourists rescued from Havelock Islands. Seventeen people had been rescued in the first shuttle. The Indian Coast Guard said 120 tourists embarked on two ships departing Havelock. Three Indian Air Force helicopters were taking part in the evacuation process as the weather improved with the sun shining, days after around 1,400 tourists were stranded in two islands of Havelock and Neil, due to the cyclonic weather since Monday. All tourists are safe and their needs are being taken care of by the administration.Located about 40 km from here, Havelock and Neil islands are the most popular tourist attractions of Andamans, and the worst affected. “A decision has been taken that hotels, where tourists are stranded, will not take room rent from them, besides giving them food and water for free,” Deputy Commissioner of South Andamans Udit Prakash Rai had said on Thursday.With ANI/PTI inputs.

Odisha man nabbed for chopping up lover’s body

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a sickening tale of love gone wrong, a jealous lover is believed to have not only murdered his partner but severed her upper and lower body parts in order to avoid detection and dumped them in nearby drains. Delhi police officials say that the crime, committed in a fit of passion, took nearly a week of painstaking detective work to solve. On December 3, acting on a call to the PCR Police Control Room, police discovered a body of a 43-year-old woman dumped in a drain near Captain Gaur Marg in Amar Colony. On reaching the location, they found the upper body part of a woman chopped up an in an air bag. The next day, on December 4, another PCR call led police to another drain near a temple in Sriniwaspuri. The two body parts were matched up in an AIIMS mortuary and then a case was registered. Senior officials said that it was not easy going to nab the accused but their persistence paid off. The photograph of the woman, along with thousands of posters, was circulated in the south Delhi area, asking people to come forward with any information that they might have.A manhunt was then conducted which involved door-to-door searches in the south Delhi area. On December 5, police officials noticed a tea shop near the East of Kailash area which had been shut for the last three days. On further enquiry, they found the tea shop was owned by the murder victim who resided in a rented room at the Dasghara colony in Garhi.Further enquiries revealed that the victim had been in a live-in relationship with a man from Odisha identified as Balram. Police sources claim that they arrested Balram from a nearby park and that he had confessed to murdering the victim.Asked as to the motive for the murder, officials revealed that Balram had told interrogators that he had been living with the victim for the last eight years, and around three years back he had moved back to Odisha to be with his family. In October, he returned to Delhi and again started living with her. However, he suspected that she was having illicit relationships with other men as well.“On the intervening night of December 1, he quarrelled with her, and both of them started accusing each other of having illicit relationships. The following day, he hit her head and back with a hammer. He then cut her body in two parts, stuffed them in a bag, and threw them in different drains. He then told neighbours she had gone to her village in Chennai,” said DCP (South-East) Romil Baniya.The DCP added that a hammer and knives of three different sizes used in committing the crime had been recovered by the police. Further investigations revealed that Balram had used a saw (used for cutting pipes) to cut up her body.The victim has a son who works at a Reliance Fresh store in Chennai.

Up to Pakistan whether it wants to allow SAARC Summit to happen: India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a strong message to Pakistan on SAARC Charter Day, India on Thursday said it was up to that country whether it wants to stop cross-border terrorism and allow the SAARC Summit to take place.Today is 31st Anniversary of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and 32nd SAARC Charter Day. Asserting that the SAARC member countries, while pulling out of the Summit to be held in Pakistan in November, had maintained that the atmosphere was not conducive because one particular country in the region is promoting cross-border terrorism and interfering blatantly, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said the conditions remain the same.”In this case the SAARC Summit cannot happen,” he said, adding “it is up to Pakistan to say that it decides not to hold SAARC Summit and is ready to give it up to any country that wants to host it. And the things can go forward.” Amid heightened tension with Pakistan over Uri terror attack in which 18 soldiers were killed, India had announced its decision of pulling out of the Summit in September, citing increased “cross-border” attacks.Apart from India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan also pulled out of the summit, indirectly blaming Pakistan for creating an environment which is not right for the successful holding of the meet, resulting in its collapse.However, Swarup reiterated India’s firm commitment to the eight-member regional bloc. In his message, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said, “While SAARC has, albeit survived, it has not triumphed as had been envisaged, falling behind on the commitments and the promises that we had set out to achieve: progress and prosperity for the common good of our people.”

Andaman and Nicobar: Cyclonic weather persists in Havelock island, no casualties reported

Port Blair: With the cyclonic weather condition persisting in the Andamans, around 1,400 tourists remained stranded in two islands on Thursday and naval ships deployed for evacuation were unable to enter the habour due to strong winds.

There were, however, no reports of any casualty from either Havelock or Neil islands hit by the cyclonic weather since Monday.

The rains have stopped since morning but the wind is still blowing hard.

“The weather continues to be bad. Navy ships which were deployed for evacuation have not been able to enter the harbour because of strong winds and choppy seas,” a Defence official told PTI.

In the morning, two ships from the administration had sailed from Port Blair but could not berth in the jetty of the islands due to strong winds and rough seas, administration officials said.

Speaking to the media after a meeting with Lt Governor Jagdish Mukhi, Deputy Commissioner of South Andamans Udit Prakash Rai said, “A decision has been taken that hotels where tourists are stranded will not take any room rent from them, besides giving them food and water for free.”

“The administration will make all arrangements to send tourists back home once they are rescued,” he said.

Flight operations are normal since morning on Thursday.

“Today we are hopeful that the stranded tourists will be brought back to Port Blair. There is no need to panic as everyone is safe,” the administration official said.

The official said that there was no report of any loss of life or major damages to property.

However, trees in the islands have been uprooted and electric posts twisted.

Besides the tourists, 600 of whom are from West Bengal, local population in ten villages of Havelock and Neil islands has been affected due to limited supply of essential commodities.

Mobile and internet connectivity have snapped in many areas while transmission faults are hampering power supply.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Officials said they are also coordinating with all airlines for the smooth and timely return of the tourists.

The tourists have been requested to stay in their rooms till weather conditions improve. They have also been asked to stay away from coastal areas.

The administration has asked all tour operators not to take any tourists towards north and middle Andaman as a precautionary measure.

The Lt Governor is himself monitoring the situation.

All the emergency operation centres across the islands are functioning round the clock and are on high alert.

Meanwhile, Air India has waived the cancellation and refund charges for travel to and fro from Port Blair.

Air India spokesperson said in Kolkata that flight operations by the airlines were normal on Thursday.

He said that applicable penalties of re-issuance, date change, no-show, cancellation and refund charges for travel to and from Port Blair stand were waived on all tickets issued to the stranded tourists on or before 7 December for travel during the period between 6 December and 9 December.

The two islands, approximately 40 km from Port Blair, have been hit the most by cyclonic weather conditions caused by a severe depression over southeast Bay of Bengal which led to heavy rainfall, strong wind and rough sea conditions.

The MeT department has predicted that the weather condition in the archipelago is likely to improve with the centre of depression likely to move towards north-westward direction from Friday.

“The depression is very likely to intensify into a deep depression during the next 24 hours and into a cyclonic storm in subsequent 24 hours,” officials said.

Neil and Havelock are two of the most popular tourist attractions in Andamans and the only means of transportation from them are vessels and choppers.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 17:09 IST

1400 tourists remain stranded in Andamans, no casualties

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the cyclonic weather condition persisting in the Andamans, around 1,400 tourists remained stranded in two islands on Thursday and naval ships deployed for evacuation were unable to enter the habour due to strong winds.There were, however, no reports of any casualty from either Havelock or Neil islands hit by the cyclonic weather since Monday.The rains have stopped since morning but the wind is still blowing hard. “The weather continues to be bad. Navy ships which were deployed for evacuation have not been able to enter the harbour because of strong winds and choppy seas,” a Defence official said.In the morning, two ships from the administration had sailed from Port Blair but could not berth in the jetty of the islands due to strong winds and rough seas, administration officials said.Speaking to the media after a meeting with Lt Governor Jagdish Mukhi, Deputy Commissioner of South Andamans Udit Prakash Rai said, “A decision has been taken that hotels where tourists are stranded will not take any room rent from them, besides giving them food and water for free.” “The administration will make all arrangements to send tourists back home once they are rescued,” he said.
ALSO READ 1,400 tourists stranded in Andamans due to cyclonic weatherFlight operations are normal since morning on Thursday. “Today we are hopeful that the stranded tourists will be brought back to Port Blair. There is no need to panic as everyone is safe,” the administration official said.The official said that there was no report of any loss of life or major damages to property. However, trees in the islands have been uprooted and electric posts twisted. Besides the tourists, 600 of whom are from West Bengal, local population in ten villages of Havelock and Neil islands has been affected due to limited supply of essential commodities.

No survivors in northern Pakistan air crash, says airline chairman | Reuters

No survivors in northern Pakistan air crash, says airline chairman | Reuters

Dec 7, 2016 23:05 IST

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ISLAMABAD None of the dozens of people on board a Pakistan International Airlines (PIAa.KA) aircraft that crashed into a mountain in northern Pakistan on Wednesday survived the accident, the airline’s chairman said.”There are no survivors, no one has survived,” Muhammad Azam Saigol told a press conference late on Wednesday, about five hours after flight PK661 from Chitral to the capital, Islamabad, crashed near the town of Havelian, in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.The airline had earlier announced 48 people were on board the aircraft.

Saigol said the ATR-42 aircraft had undergone regular maintenance and had in October passed an “A-check” certification, conducted after every 500 hours of flight operations.”I think that there was no technical error or human error … obviously there will be a proper investigation,” he said.

(Reporting by Asad Hashim, editing by Larry Kign)

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

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 23:05 IST

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Kashmir issue: Pakistan asks UN to help in de-escalating tensions with India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Blaming India for closing the doors on any bilateral engagement with it, Pakistan told top UN officials that the world body has a “moral responsibility” to play its role in resolution of the Kashmir issue and help in de-escalating tensions.Special Assistant to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Foreign Affairs Syed Tariq Fatemi, during his day-long visit to the city, met UN Secretary General-designate Antonio Guterres, Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson and Under Secretary General for Political Affairs Jeffery Feltman.According to press release issued yesterday from the Pakistan s mission to the UN, Fatemi told the top UN leaders that Indian forces had stepped up ceasefire violations on the Line of Control and the Working Boundary in order to divert international attention from the alleged human rights atrocities, particularly the targetting of civilians, in Kashmir.”India had also closed the doors on any bilateral engagement. In this situation, the UN had a moral responsibility to call for ending human rights violations” in Kashmir, “play its role in resolution of this long festering dispute and help in immediately de-escalating tensions”, he said, according to the release.Fatemi, accompanied by Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN Maleeha Lodhi, said, Islamabad expected the UN to play its role in ensuring peace and stability in the South Asian region, especially in the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.He said while Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had reached out to India and made efforts to develop a mutually beneficial relationship, the efforts were not being reciprocated by New Delhi.Fatemi also briefed the UN officials about alleged human rights violations by Indian forces on the Kashmiri people, saying efforts to quash a popular and indigenous uprising in Kashmir had led to the killing of over a hundred people and injuries to thousands.The release said that the UN leadership called for resumption of dialogue and de-escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan adding that Eliasson expressed concern at the regional situation and called for the lowering of tensions.On Afghanistan, Fatemi said Pakistan was ready to play its part for peace and stability in the country.

Cyrus Mistry defends his position in letter to six Tata firms | Reuters

Cyrus Mistry defends his position in letter to six Tata firms | Reuters

Dec 5, 2016 20:16 IST

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By Euan Rocha
| MUMBAI

MUMBAI Ousted Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry has reached out to shareholders of six Tata group companies defending his position and laying out reasons for why he should not be removed as director at their upcoming shareholder meetings.Mistry, in a letter to shareholders in Tata group companies seen by Reuters, has also highlighted the need for governance reforms at the Tata trusts, Tata Sons and Tata group companies.

Tata Sons has called shareholder meetings at group companies including Tata Motors and Tata Consultancy Services in an attempt to drive out Mistry from the operating businesses of the $100 billion steel-to-software conglomerate after ousting him as group chairman in October.

(Writing by Aditi Shah; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

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

First Published On : Dec 5, 2016 20:16 IST

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India nudges Iran to award expedition rights of Farzad-B field to ONGC Videsh

New Delhi: India has nudged Iran to quickly award rights to develop the coveted Farzad-B gas field in the Persian Gulf to ONGC Videsh by wrapping up negotiations that have been dragging on for months.

Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan met Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Saturday to press for award of rights to develop the field, which was discovered by OVL, at the earliest.

“Our relationship is much more than a usual (bilateral) relationship,” Pradhan told PTI. “We stood by them (Iran) in their difficult times (US and western sanctions) and continued to buy oil from them.” He said that he reminded the visiting minister of Iran’s commitment to awarding the field development to OVL on nomination basis.

Minister of State Petroleum & Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan. Twitter/ @dpradhanbjp

Minister of State Petroleum & Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan. Twitter/ @dpradhanbjp

“I hope they will complete the process within the agreed time frame,” he added.

In October, the two nations had pushed back the timelines for concluding a deal on Farzad-B field to February from November agreed previously.

“Let me just say that I am hopeful of concluding the deal within the agreed time frame,” Pradhan said when asked if Iran would awarded the field to OVL within this fiscal.

Iran is reportedly unhappy with the $10 billion plan submitted by OVL, the overseas arm of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), for development of the 12.5 trillion cubic feet reserves in Farzad-B field and an accompanying plant to liquefy the gas for transportation in ships.

It feels the $5 billion cost OVL and its partners have put for developing the field is on the higher side and wants it to be reduced. OVL will earn a fixed rate of return and get to recover all the investment it has made in the field development.

India, however, feels that Iran is not making the right comparison by comparing it with South Pars field development. Farzad-B field is more complex than South Pars and has high sulphur, whose production and handling cost is additional.

The field in the Farsi block was discovered by an Indian consortium led by OVL in 2008. It has an in-place gas reserve of 21.7 tcf, of which 12.5 tcf are recoverable.

But India initially felt deterred from investing because of the fear of sanctions imposed by the US. But with the lifting of sanctions this year, it is back discussing a master development plan involving investment of $5 billion in field development and an equal amount in an LNG plant.

OVL is preparing a Master Development Plan for the gas field while also working on a gas pricing formula keeping in view of the global gas price scenario, sources said. Gas produced from the field can either be converted into LNG by freezing at sub-zero temperature and shipping in cryogenic ships to India or transported through a pipeline — via overland passing through Pakistan or sub-sea.

Iran and six world powers in July last year sealed a deal to curb the Islamic Republic’s nuclear programme in return for ending sanctions, opening prospects of Indian investments in the Persian Gulf field. The sanctions were lifted in January this year.

First Published On : Dec 4, 2016 14:40 IST

Narendra Modi: Resolute action needed against those sheltering terrorists

Amritsar: In a clear message to Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday called for “resolute action” not just against forces of terrorism but also against those who support, shelter, train and finance them, saying silence and inaction will only embolden terrorists and their masters.

In his address at the 6th conference of Heart of Asia, a platform to help Afghanistan in its transition, Modi said the growing arc of terrorist violence is posing the gravest threat to the region.

A file image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

A file image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

“Terrorism and externally induced instability pose the gravest threat to Afghanistan’s peace, stability and prosperity. And, the growing arc of terrorist violence endangers our entire region. As such, support for voices of peace in Afghanistan alone is not enough.

“It must be backed by resolute action. Not just against forces of terrorism, but also against those who support, shelter, train and finance them,” the PM said in an obvious reference to Pakistan.

He was speaking after jointly inaugurating the annual Ministerial conference here along with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani which is being attended by Pakistan Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz along with representatives of around 30 countries.

“Silence and inaction against terrorism in Afghanistan and our region will only embolden terrorists and their masters. Third, our bilateral and regional commitments of material assistance for Afghanistan’s development and humanitarian needs must continue and increase,” the Prime
Minister said.

The Prime Minister said there was a need to demonstrate strong and collective will to defeat terror networks that cause bloodshed and spread fear.

Expressing India’s strong commitment to Afghanistan’s transition, Modi said, “On India’s part, our commitment to our brave Afghan brothers and sisters is absolute and unwavering. The welfare of Afghanistan and its people is close to our hearts and minds.”

He also called for an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace process to bring stability to the country.

Calling for sustained and sincere global efforts to bring “durable peace and lasting political stability” to Afghanistan, Modi said securing its territory and citizens from external threats must be a focus area for the “critical unfinished mission of our time”.

“We have no doubt about the scale of the challenge. But, we are equally determined to succeed,” he said, adding the results of collective efforts thus far have been hard-won, but mixed.

The Prime Minister said there was a need to reflect with urgency on what more must be done and what must be avoided in Afghanistan so that its citizens can self-sustain peace and economic growth.

“The question is of resolve and action. And, of putting Afghanistan and its people first. For this, First, an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled process is key. It is the only guarantor of the durability of solutions.

“Second, we must demonstrate a strong collective will to defeat terror networks that cause bloodshed and spread fear,” he said.

Noting that all those involved in Afghanistan’s transition must build on the gains of the last 15 years, he said what was at stake is not just the future of Afghanistan that has invested in a vision of development, democracy, and pluralism but the peace and stability of the entire region, and beyond.

Pitching for improving connectivity between Afghanistan and countries of the region, the Prime Minister said Afghanistan should be at the centre of our connectivity networks, not peripheral to them.

“On our part, we see Afghanistan as the hub for strengthening links of connectivity between South Asia and Central Asia.

“We cannot deny that the more connected Afghanistan is with the regional arteries of trade, capital and markets, the more assured would be its economic growth and progress. President Ghani and I have converged on the priority of strengthening trade and transport linkages with other partners in the region,” he said.

Talking about the significance of hosting the Heart of Asia Conference in Amritsar, Modi said the flow of trade, people and ideas through the region has often intersected in the holy city on one of Asia’s oldest and longest surface arteries, the Grand Trunk Road.

“Amritsar reinforces the value of restoring connectivity which is so crucial for the overall growth, stability and economic prosperity of Afghanistan,” he said, while describing the city as an embodiment of peace and humanism as well as a symbol of great valour and sacrifice.

Talking about Amritsar’s link with Afghanistan, he said among the earliest disciples of the first Guru of Sikhs, Baba Guru Nanak Dev ji, were Afghans he had preached in Kabul in the 15th century.

In his address, Modi also highlighted India’s infrastructure projects in Afghanistan, noting the main dimension of the cooperation has always been its people-centric nature.

The PM cited the India-Afghan Friendship Dam, the Parliament Building in Kabul and the Zeranj-Deleram highway.

He also spoke about the India-Afghanistan-Iran cooperation on Chahbahar project, saying it would enable Afghanistan to link its economy with centres of strong economic growth in South Asia and beyond.

“Let us re-dedicate ourselves to making Afghanistan a Geography of Peace. A place where reason and peace succeeds, progress and prosperity prevails and democracy and plurality wins,” he said.

The Prime Minister said India was planning to connect Afghanistan with India through an air transport corridor.

“President Ghani and I have discussed additional measures for deepening our bilateral cooperation. We are making progress in developing plans for utilisation of the additional One billion US Dollar earmarked by India for capacity and capability building in Afghanistan.

“It will extend to areas like water management, health, infrastructure, energy and skill development. As India implements its additional commitments, we are open to work with other like-minded partners for the development of Afghanistan,” he said.

The Prime Minister said India will continue efforts to scale up ambition and dedication to assist Afghanistan.

The Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process was launched in 2011 and the participating countries include Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates.

The platform was floated to encourage security, political and economic cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbours.

First Published On : Dec 4, 2016 14:03 IST

Will Heart of Asia bypass Pak artery in Amritsar?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Will India-Pakistan tensions hijack the agenda of an international conference on Afghanistan? That is the question agitating the minds of delegates who started arriving in Amritsar for the two-day Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process, which began on Saturday.India was scrambling to insulate the talks about rebuilding Afghanistan — via trade and connectivity, development assistance, and security cooperation – after Pakistan Foreign Affairs and Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz landed here in on Saturday evening, ahead of his scheduled arrival on Sunday morning.Whether Aziz’s engagements before he returns home on Sunday will go beyond the customary handshakes and photo-ops to informal, unstructured contacts with Prime Minister Narendra Modi or his aides is the subject of animated discussions on the margins of the Afghan conference.The symbolism of Aziz’s visit is not lost on key world capitals, coming as it does soon after the terrorist attack on an Indian Army installation at Nagrota in Jammu and Kashmir, which was only the latest in a series of attacks that have rocked Jammu and Kashmir, starting with the attack on the Pathankot air base in January this year. This was followed by the September 18 attack on an Indian Army camp at Uri, which claimed the lives of 19 soldiers, among others.This is the third time in as many years that India is hosting world leaders or multilateral summits outside New Delhi. The choice of Amritsar as the venue of the Afghan conference is in keeping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s desire to take summitry outside the cloistered confines of New Delhi.In 2014, Modi received President Xi Jinping of China in Gujarat. In October this year, India hosted the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit in Goa.India’s decision to host the Afghanistan conference is being interpreted by some around the world as a deliberate move to underscore how Pakistan has consistently blocked connectivity in this region. It is also about terrorism and New Delhi and Kabul seem to have a plan to further embarrass Islamabad.Of late, India has not lost any opportunity to diplomatically isolate Pakistan, be it the G-20 Summit in China, the East-Asia Summit in Vietnam, the United Nations General Assembly or the cancelled South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit. Amritsar also has a historical significance to it. It is a key location on the Grand Trunk Road, one of the longest and oldest roads in Asia connecting Central Asia with South Asia.The GT Road was rebuilt and upgraded by Sher Shah Suri, then ruler of Delhi, nearly 500 years ago. Suri was of Afghan origin. The road links Kabul to Kolkata via Lahore, Amritsar and Delhi, and all the way up to Chittagong in Bangladesh.India and Afghanistan have given enough notice that they will try and corner their common neighbour for providing sanctuary and support to terrorist groups. The Amritsar conference can be expected to delve into specifics and identify ways to deal with terrorism and terror threats and also detail what steps should be taken against those who support and glorify terrorists.Afghanistan may demand binding clauses to contain terror infrastructure. It is pushing for the early adoption of a Regional Counter-Terrorism Framework. New Delhi and Kabul are also toying with plans to firm up an air cargo agreement to boost bilateral trade even as Pakistan continues to stall all possibility of promoting regional trade and connectivity.This is the sixth edition of the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process.The first was held at Istanbul in Turkey in 2011.Nearly 50 countries and organisations, including the UN, are participating in the Amritsar summit.The theme of the Amritsar Summit is “Addressing Challenges and Achieving Prosperity.”
At least eight foreign ministers, including Sartaj Aziz of Pakistan and Mohammad Javad Zarif of Iran, are attending the summit.

American tourist gang-raped in Delhi, police registers FIR

Sat, 3 Dec 2016-05:20pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi Police on Saturday registered an FIR based on a complaint filed by an NGO alleging that an American tourist was raped by five men at a five-star hotel in Connaught Place in March.The complaint was filed through an email. It alleged that five men had entered the woman’s room on the pretext of some tour and travel-related work and raped her.The victim did not approach police as she was scared and returned to the US. The accused also threatened her of dire consequences if she told anybody about it, the complaint said. “An FIR was today registered in connection with the incident,” Delhi Police spokesperson and Joint Commissioner of Police (South West) Dependra Pathak said.

Heart of Asia Summit: Pakistan to be singled out for supporting terror at Amritsar meet

Over two months after India’s decision to stay away from Saarc summit in Islamabad, Pakistan was virtually sidelined in the South Asian regional group; the Heart of Asia Summit on 3 and 4 December will further reinforce that when representatives from 14 countries gather in Amritsar.

Afghanistan is the permanent chair and India as a co-chair will use the summit to yet again focus spotlight on Pakistan’s explicit connection with terror groups in fomenting trouble in both the countries. President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan, a firm believer that Pakistan does not support establishment of peace in his country will, set the tone of the conference.

The draft declaration on counter-terrorism circulated by Afghanistan will call upon Pakistan (without naming it) to stop harbouring and supporting terror groups on its soil. Both India and Afghanistan have joined hands to nail Pakistan on this issue once again at an international conference. Modi and Ghani will leave no stone unturned to hold Islamabad responsible for poor connectivity in every sector across the South Asian region.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Pakistan’s government under domestic pressure from sending a delegation to Amritsar Summit has decided to send just a two-member team headed by advisor to prime minister Nawaz Sharif, former foreign secretary Sartaj Aziz.

Nawaz Sharif decided to send Aziz given the fact that ‘Heart of Asia’ is an international conference on bringing stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan believes it has an important say in that landlocked country’s future. Aziz days before the summit publicly announced that Pakistan was in touch with “anti-India elements” to keep New Delhi under pressure on the Kashmir issue.

The Pakistani team will arrive in India on Sunday for a few hours and Sartaj Aziz is bound to rake up the issue of tension with India and blame Modi government for spiking tensions in the region.
Arriving in India on Saturday, President Ghani will hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi later in the day in Amritsar, carefully selected to remind everyone that a city that stands on the historic Grand Trunk Road route that once linked Kolkata to Kabul via Delhi and Lahore, provides an opportunity to break connectivity barriers.

It will remind the world that as they gather in Amritsar, a city that sits on the now infamous GT Road, Pakistan remains a major obstacle in their dream to reconnect and rebuild Afghanistan with rest of South Asia.

President Ghani today loses no opportunity to emphasise Pakistan’s continued support to terror groups operating in Afghanistan, the role of its military and ISI in their steadfast refusal to help connect his country with India across Pakistan.

The Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process was founded in 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey. The Heart of Asia, the official website claims, “provides a platform for sincere and results-oriented regional cooperation by placing Afghanistan at its center, in recognition of the fact that a secure and stable Afghanistan is vital to the prosperity of the Heart of Asia region”.
The Heart of Asia has 14 participating countries, 17 supporting countries, and 12 supporting regional and international organizations.

On the eve of the summit the Afghan ambassador in India set the tone when he told journalists in Delhi that “as we all know, terrorism is a creation of this region and the solution lies within this region only”. Therefore the upcoming Heart of Asia is very well timed and very well placed to discuss how we should find solutions to the theme that we have already put forward, he remarked.
Afghanistan is angry at Pakistan’s continued refusal to allow India overland access to their country. At the last summit in Islamabad foreign minister Sushma Swaraj had asked for India’s admission to Afghanistan Pakistan Trade and Transit Agreement but, that was turned down, as expected.

The Chahbahar Port agreement between India-Iran-Afghanistan is seen as a serious initiative to help landlocked Afghanistan to get access to global market by connecting Persian Gulf with Kabul and beyond to Central Asia through a road network.

Given its geography Pakistan has held Afghanistan to ransom, by controlling land access to and from the country and using unstable security situation over the decades to help and sustain terror groups in that country.

Afghanistan heavily leans on India today for its moral, diplomatic, political and material support as it seeks to fight Afghan Taliban, Islamic State groups and Pakistan’s military establishment to rebuild a war-torn nation.

First Published On : Dec 3, 2016 09:02 IST

NGT bans disposable plastic in Delhi & NCR from January 1, but allows Okhla plant to operate

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Green Tribunal on Friday banned the use of disposable plastic in Delhi and NCR with effect from January 1, 2017 and directed the city government to take steps to reduce dumped waste.A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Swatanter Kumar, however, refused to shut down the Okhla waste-to-energy plant and issued a slew of directions for its eco-friendly operation along with two other plants at Gazipur and Bhalswa.”We direct that the Okhla plant shall continue to operate subject to the order of the tribunal… All the corporations, DDA and other public authorities including NCT of Delhi are directed to take immediate steps for reduction and utilisation of dumped waste,” the bench said.Referring to the three dumping sites in Delhi — Okhla, Gazipur and Bhalswa, the tribunal said, “Each of these sites is a depiction of mess that can be created for environment and health of people of Delhi.”It said, “We direct that use of disposable plastic is prohibited in entire NCT of Delhi. The Delhi government shall take steps for storage and use of plastic materials with effect from January 1, 2017.”The bench also constituted a joint inspection team comprising member secretaries of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), A senior scientist of the Ministry of Environment and Forests along with an IIT Delhi professor, be nominated by the IIT director, directing it to file its report within six weeks and supervise and visit the plants once in two months.The directions came on a plea filed by Sukhdev Vihar Residents Welfare Association praying for closure of waste-to- energy plant alleging that it uses illegal mass burning technology which causes air pollution.The bench, while directing the plants to “strictly follow” the prescribed norms provided in the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act and the Solid Waste Management Rules 2016, said they will be fined Rs five lakh for non-compliance of directions and each pollution incident.It also said that an environment compensation of Rs 10,000 will be imposed on the vegetable vendors and slaughter houses for throwing garbage in public places.It directed the Delhi government to make operational the Shastri Park Waste Disposal Plant in six weeks after DPCC said it required an environmental clearance.The government has also been asked to include a condition in all tenders for construction work that they will use the waste materials released by the plants for road construction.During the last hearing, the tribunal had pulled up the Delhi government saying it was worried about everything except environment and had expressed displeasure that the government and municipal corporations were not unanimous over the total quantum of waste generated in the national capital.”There is mosquito breeding, dengue, different kinds of viral fever and you people are worried about everything except environment. There has to be some sense of responsibility,” the panel had said.Earlier, residents of the city’s Sukhdev Vihar area had told the tribunal that the Okhla waste-to-energy plant in South Delhi should be immediately shut down as it violated Delhi Master Plan 2021.The tribunal had rapped South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) over “inaccurate” data on various kinds of waste generated in the national capital daily.In its application, the association had also told the NGT that as per observations of the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, mass burning technology should be stopped immediately.

Indian Navy keeping close eye on Chinese ships in Indian Ocean region: Sunil Lanba

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Indian Navy on Friday said it was aware of the deployment and movement of Chinese naval ships and submarines in the Indian Ocean region, and that it has “kept a close eye” on them.Addressing the annual ‘Naval Day’ news conference in New Delhi, Navy Chief Sunil Lanba said a Chinese nuclear submarine was deployed in the Indian Ocean and it did a port call at Karachi harbour. “As far as People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy ships and submarines are concerned, the Indian Navy keeps a close eye and monitor their movements. We have maritime domain awareness of the deployment of PLA naval forces in the Indian Ocean region (IOR). We launch surveillance missions in the form of aircraft and ships to keep a track of them. They had started deployment of their submarines from 2012,” he said.The Navy also termed as “bogus” the claims made by Pakistan that an Indian submarine had entered into territorial waters. “There was no Indian submarine deployed in the area where the Pakistani Navy is claiming it to be. As far as repelling a submarine of any nation goes, it is not an easy task and the claim made by Pakistani Navy is totally bogus. We deploy submarines where there is an operational necessity and we will continue to deploy them,” Lanba said.The Pakistani Navy had last month claimed that it had prevented an Indian submarine from entering its territorial water. The Chief of Naval Staff said India’s primary area of interest was the IOR followed by Strait of Bab el Mandeb and the Strait of Hormuz.In response to a question on Indian Navy’s capabilities in the Pacific region, Lanba said, “The Navy is well within its capabilities to operate in the region.” Lanba also sought to downplay the Bangladesh Navy acquiring its first submarines from China, saying “India has a plan in place that takes into account what is happening in the neighborhood.”When asked about the South China sea dispute, the Navy chief said maritime issues should be solved as per United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). He added that the Kalavari Class Scorpene submarine will be commissioned next year. “She has successfully finished dry trials and further trials are in progress,” Lanba said.

Railways chug ahead, plans to sell wheels to South Africa

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Indian Railways is making plans to sell rail wheels to South Africa, a developed economy with a well-equipped railway system. Indian Railways is among the bigger suppliers of equipment including locomotives and coaches to smaller nations in Africa, such as Benin, Angola, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Senegal. The move towards South Africa is part of the Railways’ plans to get ambitious with its exports. In reply to a query from DNA, OP Agrawal, General Manager, Rail Wheel Factory, Bengaluru, confirmed: “In the past, the RWF has exported cast wheels a number of times to a number of countries. As of now, we are exploring new markets abroad. South Africa is one such market,” Agrawal replied. The exports of RWF, and several other production units of the Indian Railways, are managed by the Expotech division of the Railways’ consultancy firm RITES. RITES currently liaisons with about 55 countries in the world to sell products made by the Indian Railways. Puneet Kumar, executive director, Expotech, RITES said that the preliminary plan is being worked out.As reported by DNA in its July 11 edition, all production units have got orders to build capacity and capability to ensure that they can market at least 10 per cent of their products to firms or countries outside the ambit of the Indian Railways. The ministry has also asked its units to procure certifications like the Brussels-based International Rail Industry Standard so that markets like Europe and North America can be explored.Currently one of the biggest export orders is the construction of 120 LHB coaches for Bangladesh Railways. “It is a step in the right direction because the Indian Railways once was known for its cheap but effective technology,” said a senior railway official.

Uttar Pradesh: Ambedkar statue desecrated, angry mob blocks traffic

Uttar Pradesh: Ambedkar statue desecrated, angry mob blocks traffic

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Bhadohi (Uttar Pradesh): A statue of BR Ambedkar was found desecrated on Thursday in Dudwa Dharampuri locality in Sant Ravidas Nagar district, leading to tension in the area.

Some anti-social elements damaged the four feet tall statue of Ambedkar by throwing stones at it, said circle officer Paramhans Mishra.

Protesting against the incident, an angry mob blocked traffic on the main road for over an hour prompting the administration to deploy additional police force.

Senior administrative and police officials also rushed to the spot to bring the situation under control and pacified the protesters.

According to Patrika, officials installed a new statue which brought the situation under control and also assured the protestors of action against miscreants involved in desecrating the statue. A case has been registered against unidentified persons.

First Published On : Dec 1, 2016 15:12 IST

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Netflix allows subscribers to binge-watch shows offline | Reuters

Netflix allows subscribers to binge-watch shows offline | Reuters

Nov 30, 2016 20:21 IST

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Video streaming pioneer Netflix Inc said its subscribers would now be able to download popular shows such as “Orange is The New Black” and “Narcos” on their mobile devices at no extra cost.”While many members enjoy watching Netflix at home, we’ve often heard they also want to continue their ‘Stranger Things’ binge while on airplanes and other places where Internet is expensive or limited,” Eddy Wu, director of product innovation, wrote in a blog post.Netflix, whose other popular original shows include “House of Cards” and “The Crown”, has expanded into almost all countries, with China being a notable exception.

The new feature is included in all plans and available for phones and tablets on Alphabet Inc’s Android and Apple Inc’s iOS platforms, the company said.More content will be available for offline viewing later, Netflix said.

The company’s shares rose 2 percent to $119.97 in early trading on the Nasdaq.

(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 20:21 IST

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Uttar Pradesh official suspended for posting ‘objectionable’ picture of Modi on WhatsApp

Uttar Pradesh official suspended for posting ‘objectionable’ picture of Modi on WhatsApp

Nov 30, 2016 14:00 IST

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Bareilly (UP): A panchayat official has been suspended and the manager of a college booked for allegedly posting objectionable pictures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in separate WhatsApp groups in Bareilly. Panchayati Raj Department official Hifazat Ullah Khan was suspended after he posted an objectionable picture of Modi on a WhatsApp group managed by the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM), a senior official said today.

Khan, who was posted at Bahedi panchayat, had been served a show-cause notice and his response was not satisfactory after which he was suspended, the official said.

In a similar incident, a college manager, Hariom Singh, was booked for circulating an objectionable picture of Modi on WhatsApp.

A case has been registered against Singh based on a complaint filed by BJP’s district president Ravindra Singh Rathore at Faridpur kotwali police station and investigation into the matter is on, a police officer said.

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 14:00 IST

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Lesson from Nagrota attack: Military, financial ‘surgical strikes’ haven’t deterred Pakistani militants

The Nagrota attack by Pakistani infiltrators on 29 November — heavily-armed terrorists stormed the premises of the highly-protected 166 medium artillery regiment and held Indians hostage — has belied the claims of our government that we have broken the back of the cross-border militancy with our ‘surgical strike’ across the Line of Control. This is not the statement of an Opposition leader who wants to take potshots at the Narendra Modi government. This was an argument advanced by Yashwant Sinha, a senior BJP leader and former minister for external affairs (in the Chandra Shekhar and Atal Bihari Vajpayee governments).

Sinha made this statement on Tuesday night while delivering his presidential address in a lecture organised in the memory of Digvijay Singh, who had served as the junior minister to Sinha in the external affairs ministry in both Chandra Shekhar and Vajpayee governments.

Clearly, Sinha is not a run-of-the-mill politician who shoots from the hip. He knows his stuff when he makes a point.

Army personnel take position during encounter after militants attacked an Army camp in Nagrota on the outskirts of Jammu on Tuesday morning. PTI

Army personnel take position during encounter after militants attacked an Army camp in Nagrota on the outskirts of Jammu on Tuesday morning. PTI

Sinha made another devastating argument to puncture the claim being made by the relatively uninformed intelligentsia that India has succeeded in isolating Pakistan on the world stage with its astute diplomacy. On the contrary, Pakistani diplomacy has mostly outwitted Indian diplomacy in drawing international support, he said.

The former external affairs minister cited the example of the $46 billion support extended to Pakistan by China, in order to build the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. In fact, it is China’s biggest investment in the economic development of another country, he said. Chinese support will keep Pakistan at the centre-stage of South Asian politics, instead of marginalising it, Sinha said.

Pakistan has even succeeded in winning over Russia — a traditional supporter of India — to hold joint military exercises in September this year for the first time in the past seven decades of its existence. It only goes to show that Pakistan, instead of being isolated, is being courted by the major powers of the world, Sinha asserted.

This assertion must not be taken at the face value.

Those who were gloating that the demonetisation of high-denomination notes has virtually driven the Pakistani infiltrators out of work must have been squirming after the fidayeen attack at Nagrota took place. It is indeed alarming that Pakistani militants are repeatedly and successfully taking on the hardest of the targets — the military establishment — considering they have not taken the soft option of targeting civilian settlements. After the daring attacks in Patnankot and Uri, Nagrota has exposed the vulnerability of the Indian defence forces.

That a group of heavily armed militants succeeded in infiltrating the local unit of the 16 Corps headquarters — the largest corps in the Indian Army — and managing to kill two officers and five jawans before being killed, highlights a stark fact: Even after being on the receiving end of militant attacks for years, we have not been able to devise fool-proof measures to check Pakistani infiltration and safeguard our soldiers, let alone the civilians.

In Pathankot, Pakistani terrorists infiltrated into an Indian Air Force base and unleashed mayhem at the start of this year. Six Pakistani militants again launched a daring attack on an army brigade headquarters in Uri in September this year and killed 19 of our soldiers.

The fact that we have been repeatedly failing in making our core military establishment attack-proof from stray militants speaks poorly of our professionalism. In the face of it, when we make tall and loud claims about our military and strategic accomplishments, we tend to become a laughing stock.

When we launched the ‘surgical strike’ in October that supposedly paralysed the military muscle of Pakistan militants and, moreover, when we unleashed the demonetisation drive that purportedly sucked out their financial muscle, Pakistani authorities did not scream from the rooftops that they would take ‘revenge’ against India. They took revenge in action, as evident in Nagrota yesterday.

It is an age-old lesson of diplomacy, military or otherwise, that it must be conducted away from the limelight.

Strong actions must speak for themselves. They need not, nay, must not, be bandied about or be gloated over. This is because every action invites a reaction. And in today’s world, no country, howsoever powerful it may be, can claim unilateral victory over another. That is more so, when two countries, as is the case with India and Pakistan, hold nuclear deterrents.

Will the Indian leadership take the lesson and reflect quietly and take decisive action without whipping up jingoism and hyper-nationalism?

That is the only way to protect our borders, our brave soldiers and our distraught citizens.

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 13:55 IST

Sagarmala Project proposes 14 coastal economic zones across India

The most talked after Sagarmala Project, envisaged by the Ministry of Shipping, proposes fourteen Coastal Economic Zones (CEZ) across major and non-major ports of India in a comprehensive plan to support the BJP-led government’s Make in India initiative.

The proposal comes at a time when India is lagging far behind in port-led industrialisation than China – its key economic competitor. The CEZs are expected to increase India’s merchandise exports by 110 billion by enhancing industrial competitiveness.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The CEZs to be built as per a comprehensive plan for port-led industrialisation will embrace 12 industrial clusters those will require up to Rs 8 lakh crores of industrial investment and Rs 15,000 crores of investment in basic infrastructure.

The plan says that twelve major clusters across three broad sectors – energy, material and discrete manufacturing – have been proposed in the CEZs on the basis of suitability of ocean mode of transportation for imports of raw material or exports of finished products.

The proposed port-led development is expected to not only reduce logistics costs by optimising movement of cargo, but also impact competitiveness in availability or raw materials, skills, supporting infrastructure and existing industrial agglomeration.

As per the plan, coastal states will have one or more CEZs. The industrial clusters within these zones will enjoy the benefit of lower cost of movement by waterways. It has been observed that EXIM containers in India travel 700 to 1,000 kilometres between production centres and ports. The plan attempts to decrease it substantially by facilitating port-led industrialisation.

Three energy clusters to meet the future power requirements of the country have been planned in proposed Poompuhar CEZ in Tamil Nadu and North Konkan CEZ in Maharashtra.

Two refining clusters in proposed Mannar CEZ in Tamil Nadu, Soth Konkan CEZ in Maharashtra or in Poompuhar CEZ in Tamil Nadu.

The plan also proposes four petrochemical clusters in proposed CEZs to be built up in Gujarat, Karnataka, Odisha and Tamil Nadu.

Furthermore, it aims to enhance steel and cement production by 40 MTPA each by 2025 by creating coastal capacity and thus reduce logistic cost by Rs 1,000 per ton and make domestic manufacturing more competitive.

As per an analysis, six discrete manufacturing sectors – food processing, automotive, electronics, apparel, leather products, footwear and furniture – will be set up. Separate industrial clusters are also proposed in the CEZs to be built in the coastal states of the country.

The proposed Coastal Economic Zones are named Kachch, Suryapur and Saurashtra in Gujarat, North Konkan and South Konkan in Maharashtra, Dakshin Kanara in Karnataka, Malabar in Kerela, Mannar, VCIC South and Poompuhar in Tamil Nadu, VCIC North and VCIC central in Andhra Pradesh, Kalinga in Odisha and Gaud in West Bengal.

The plan admits that there is a gap in demand and supply of skilled manpower to implement the project successfully in the coastal districts and required to be plugged using special skill development program. The Sagarmala Project proposes a massive  training drive among the people in the coastal regions to meet the requirement.

Sagarmala project aims to invest Rs 70,000 crore in facilitating economic growth by enhancing coastal shipping of goods.

First Published On : Nov 29, 2016 21:55 IST

Samsung Elec says reviewing shift to holding company structure | Reuters

Samsung Elec says reviewing shift to holding company structure | Reuters

Nov 29, 2016 05:19 IST

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SEOUL Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS) said on Tuesday it is reviewing options for its optimal corporate structure including the possibility of establishing a holding company amid growing calls for improved transparency and governance. Samsung, in a statement, said it is also considering the potential benefits of listing its shares on other overseas markets and hired advisers for a thorough review.

“The review does not indicate the management or the board’s intention one way or another,” the company said, adding the review process would take at least six months.

(Reporting by Se Young Lee; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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

First Published On : Nov 29, 2016 05:19 IST

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Madurai: NIA arrests three suspected Al-Qaeda operatives whose targets included PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> In raids in several places in the city, three suspected Al-Qaeda operatives were arrested by the National Investigation Agency, police said.Police said the three allegedly planned to attack 22 top leaders of the country including Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They were allegedly involved in threatening embassies of various countries in India, they said.Those arrested were identified as M Khareem, Asif Sultan Mohammed and Abbas Ali. While Khareem was arrested from Usmannagar, Asif Sultan Mohammed was picked up from G R Nagar and Abbas Ali from Ismailpuram, police said. Explosive materials were also seized from them.Police said NIA raided several places on specific information that suspected Al-Qaeda activists were operating from South Tamil Nadu in and around Madurai. “Explosive materials and arms have been seized from them,” police said, declining to elaborate.The trio was allegedly running the Al-Qaeda unit in South Tamil Nadu. They were also allegedly involved in the explosions that took place in various courts in the country over a period of time, police added.NIA were also searching for two other suspected Al-Qaeda operatives, Hakeem and Dawood Sulaiman, they said.

Let’s go clean, the robotic way

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Robots to collect biomedical waste, clean water bodies, clear thousands of tonnes of garbage from the site of Haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia and even a robotic E-bin from South Africa… students at the World Robot Olympiad had ideas aplenty on how to achieve a Swachh Bharat, the robotic, safe and non-hazardous way.Amongst the participants at this year’s edition, the first time India is hosting the event, was 13-year-old Navya, a Class IX student of St Joseph’s in Mumbai, who remembers being appalled when she read about a nurse who had to pick up biomedical waste with her bare hands and contracted Hepatitis B. That prompted Navya and her two friends, Anshu, 10, and Soham, 13, to come up with the Nurse Assistant, a robot to do the job.It took them six months of hard work. “We researched a lot before starting this project. We read lots of articles on how nurses in hospitals collect biomedical waste, which is really dangerous for their health. So we have come up with this robot, which will clean biomedical waste in a more efficient manner,” she said.Little wonder that their stall at the Olympiad — being held at the India Expo Centre in Noida, with the theme ‘Rap the Scrap’ in line with the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan — was a popular one with many visitors stopping by.Caregivers like doctors, nurses and ward-boys in hospitals are multiple times more prone to catching infections as they are in close proximity with the sick and handle biomedical waste without requisite precautions. In Mumbai’s Sewri TB Hospital, Asia’s largest centre for treating TB, for instance, close to 200 caregivers have been infected with the disease. Of these, 40, including a senior doctor, have died.”It is a very good idea to pick up biomedical waste with help of robots. This reduces human contact. It will reduce infections that can be caused due to pricks in healthy caregivers,” said Dr Lalit Anande, senior medical officer at Sewri.Amongst the thousands of students, from as young as nine to 25, from 51 countries was 11-year-old Krishna, a Class VII student from Manav Rachna School in Faridabad, who has created a robot that can clean small and large water bodies.”Our robot is an autonomous vehicle that collects garbage from various water bodies, removing harmful algae near garbage patches to increase the level of oxygen. After collecting the garbage, it drops it in the recycling factory,” he said.From South Africa were Dilan, 12, and Aydin, 9, with the unique robot, E-bin. “The E-bin has a bar-code with three sections — plastic, paper and metal– and a barcode detector. When one has to throw something in the E-bin, one will bring it near the detector and the section where your waste is meant to be opens automatically,” Dilan explained.And then there was an all-girls team from Saudi Arabia, whose robot is called Haram, named after the mosque in the sacred Ka’bah. “Every year, around 14,000 tons of garbage is collected from the Haj site. There are no proper arrangement for its recycling in Saudi Arabia. So, we have made the Robo-Haram which will collect the trash from the site after every Haj and Umrah and process it for recycling,” said 16-year-old Jasmine.The three-day event, ending Sunday, was organised by the National Council of Science Museums (NCSM) in collaboration with India STEM Foundation (ISF).

Thyssenkrupp leaves open possibility of keeping steel majority | Reuters

Thyssenkrupp leaves open possibility of keeping steel majority | Reuters

Nov 24, 2016 19:46 IST

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FRANKFURT Thyssenkrupp executives left open the possibility on Thursday that the German industrial group could keep the majority in any new entity formed by a merger of its European steel operations with those of a competitor.”The most important thing for us is that by a consolidation and by the underlying plan we can address the issues of overcapacity,” Chief Finance Officer Guido Kerkhoff told analysts on a conference call.”We have never stated consolidation, non-consolidation or discussed percentages and we don’t do that today either.”

He added that an initial public offering of the business without a merger would offer no solution to the underlying overcapacity issue.

(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan)

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

First Published On : Nov 24, 2016 19:46 IST

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90% of people in Kashmir want peace: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Spiritual guru and Art of Living (AOL) founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Wednesday said 90 per cent of the people in Kashmir want peace and asserted that a solution to the Kashmir problem can only come from Kashmiris.”Solution to Kashmir (issue) will only come from Kashmiris themselves. They have to bring out the solution themselves. We are creating this forum for such pragmatic thinking and progressive ideas to make the country stronger,” he said after launch of South Asian Forum For Peace.Asserting that the conflict in Kashmir has become a cash cow for some and the people are suffering, he said, “In Kashmir, people are restraining themselves from opening their mouth due to threat of guns. 90 per cent of the people want peace and development but their voice is being silenced.” Former militants, stone-pelters and victims of militancy, besides various stake holders took take part in the conference which was organised by AOL here to promote peace in Kashmir.”The forum has been formed for creation of new vibrant ideology by taking people of shades and opinion together by holding dialogues, debates and discussions for peace, progress and development. I hope that it will bring some good results,” he said.”The people who were moving with stones are talking peace. They have come forward for the peace initiative. The people who were in militancy, the youth who were involved in stone pelting and in drug addiction have taking part in the conference,” the spiritual guru said.”Neither the media is projecting these and others are ignoring them. They are the neglected population and there is a need for a platform for them to air their voices openly,” Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said.”The conflict has become the cash cow for some people. They don’t want to put an end to it. This has become a source of earning for them. But the common people are facing the brunt of it. They need to come forward and isolate those people,” he said.The AOL chief said, “I am working for peace in Kashmir. We don’t want to become prisoners of any ideology but create a new ideology so that we can move forward in the direction of peace.””There is a need for short term goal and a long term plan. We will hold such a conference in Kashmir,” he said.”The biggest problem in Kashmir is drug addiction. The youths are trying to come out of this menace. The problem in Kashmir is the trust-deficit. We need to change this environment,” Sri Sri said.On the mutilation of a jawan’s body and killing of three soldiers in an offensive by Pakistan, he said it is condemnable and sad that people are behaving like this by engineering human rights violation.”Intellectuals should come forward to stop human rights violation or any type of brutalities wherever they are taking place,” Sri Sri added.On demonetisation, he said it is a very important step to weed out corruption, black money, terrorism and drug addiction.”The Prime Minister has taken the right step by finding out what is there in the hearts and minds of the people by launching the 10 question in his app,” the spiritual guru said.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says 90 percent of people in Kashmir want peace

Jammu: Spiritual guru and Art of Living (AOL) founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Wednesday said 90 percent of the people in Kashmir want peace and asserted that a solution to the Kashmir problem can only come from Kashmiris.

“Solution to Kashmir (issue) will only come from Kashmiris themselves. They have to bring out the solution themselves. We are creating this forum for such pragmatic thinking and progressive ideas to make the country stronger,” he said after launch of South Asian Forum For Peace in Jammu.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. AFP

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. AFP

Asserting that the conflict in Kashmir has become a cash cow for some and the people are suffering, he said, “In Kashmir, people are restraining themselves from opening their mouth due to threat of guns. 90 percent of the people want peace and development but their voice is being silenced.”

Former militants, stone-pelters and victims of militancy, besides various stake holders took take part in the conference which was organised by AOL here to promote peace in Kashmir.

“The forum has been formed for creation of new vibrant ideology by taking people of shades and opinion together by holding dialogues, debates and discussions for peace, progress and development. I hope that it will bring some good results,” he said.

“The people who were moving with stones are talking peace. They have come forward for the peace initiative. The people who were in militancy, the youth who were involved in stone pelting and in drug addiction have taking part in the conference,” the spiritual guru said.

“Neither the media is projecting these and others are ignoring them. They are the neglected population and there is a need for a platform for them to air their voices openly,” Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said.

“The conflict has become the cash cow for some people. They don’t want to put an end to it. This has become a source of earning for them. But the common people are facing the brunt of it. They need to come forward and isolate those people,” he said.

The AOL chief said, “I am working for peace in Kashmir. We don’t want to become prisoners of any ideology but create a new ideology so that we can move forward in the direction of peace.”

“There is a need for short term goal and a long term plan. We will hold such a conference in Kashmir,” he said.

“The biggest problem in Kashmir is drug addiction. The youths are trying to come out of this menace. The problem in Kashmir is the trust-deficit. We need to change this environment,” Sri Sri said.

On the mutilation of a jawan’s body and killing of three soldiers in an offensive by Pakistan, he said it is condemnable and sad that people are behaving like this by engineering human rights violation.

“Intellectuals should come forward to stop human rights violation or any type of brutalities wherever they are taking place,” Sri Sri added.

On demonetisation, he said it is a very important step to weed out corruption, black money, terrorism and drug addiction.

“The Prime Minister has taken the right step by finding out what is there in the hearts and minds of the people by launching the 10 question in his app,” the spiritual guru said.

First Published On : Nov 24, 2016 07:57 IST

Sartaj Aziz says ‘credible minimum deterrence’ needed for stability in Indo-Pak relations

Islamabad: Amid rising Indo-Pak tensions, Pakistan on Tuesday said “credible minimum deterrence” was needed for regional stability and warned that instability has consequences with “far more dangers”.

Pakistan Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said the imperative of strategic stability was an important dimension of Pakistan-India relations.

“There is need for credible minimum deterrence as instability has consequences with far more dangers,” he said while addressing an international conference on ‘Strengthening Peace and Cooperation in South Asia: Incentives and Constraints’ organised by Islamabad Policy Research Institute.

Aziz claimed that Pakistan is maintaining “minimum nuclear deterrence” for peace and stability in the region and called upon the international community to desist from policies and actions that undermine strategic stability in South Asia.

He stated that supply of weapon systems widens the existing conventional capabilities in the region.

File photo of Sartaj Aziz. Reuters

File photo of Sartaj Aziz. Reuters

Aziz regretted that the world has not fully recognised the dangers posed to the peace and stability in the region.

On the Kashmir issue, Aziz was quoted as saying by Radio Pakistan that, “India was responding to indigenous struggle of Kashmiris for their right of self-determination by denial and illusion.”

He criticised India for terming the “Kashmiri struggle” as terrorism and declaring Jammu and Kashmir as an integral part.

“India must understand ground realities and recognise the indigenous nature of right to self-determination movement” in Kashmir, he was quoted as saying.

Aziz said during negotiations with India, Pakistan would continue to seek normalisation of relationship and promoting steps that would pave the way for settlement of all lingering disputes including the core dispute of Jammu and Kashmir.

On the NSG issue, Aziz called for criteria-based and non-discriminatory approach for the membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), asserting that otherwise it will affect the strategic stability in the region.

He said Pakistan’s application for NSG membership should be evaluated on the basis of fair criterion.

Aziz regretted India’s opposition to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor project, saying it is based on “no apparent reason”.

Aziz alleged that India is doing so to obstruct Pakistan’s path towards progress and development.

He claimed that the “Indian hegemonic temptations” and aggressive posture undermine regional cooperation.

Aziz said Pakistan believes in peaceful co-existence based on mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity but at the same time it cannot remain aloof from the prevailing situation in the region.

He accused India of “sponsoring and fomenting” terrorism in Pakistan. Aziz also alleged that India had increased violations along the Line of Control to put constraints on Pakistan’s ability to deploy more troops on the western border.

First Published On : Nov 22, 2016 17:27 IST

Brain behind ‘azadi’ protests arrested after four months

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jammu and Kashmir Police achieved a major success on Friday when they arrested the most-wanted separatist leader who was the brain behind massive ‘pro-azadi (freedom) and anti-India’ protests in south Kashmir in the last four months.Mir Hafizullah, the district president of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat led by 87-year-old hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani, had gone underground to lead the protests after the unrest began following the killing of Hizbul Mujahedeen commander Burhan Wani on July 8.Police said Mir had organised scores of pro-freedom and anti-India rallies in Anantnag which had allegedly triggered stone pelting in South Kashmir. Mir was evading arrest for the last four months and organising and leading protests from underground.”Mir was one of the main instigators operating in Kokarnag and Achabal. He was leading the protests. Further investigation is on,” said Nitish Kumar, deputy inspector general, South Kashmir Range.

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