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Jaggi Vasudev on notebandi, nationalism and why he stands behind Narendra Modi

Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev is known for speaking his mind on a wide range of issues. In his new book Inner Engineering: A Yogi’s Guide to Joy (Penguin Random House India Pvt. Ltd), he has redefined spirituality. He does not describe himself as the usual ‘guru’, which he once called a four letter word. Instead, he prefixes it with another four-letter word ‘sadh’ to complete his self-description. To talk to us, he walked into a central Delhi garden, kissed gently by the winter sun, in a turban that hides the colour of his hair and a cotton-candy beard that gives it away. Spirituality for him is not a straight jacket. He enjoys playing ball, flies choppers and wears jeans when not in loose cotton pants, and surprises you by calling spirituality a ‘technology’. Spirituality is neither detachment, self-abnegation nor being less worldly than anybody else. He engages with every contemporary issue and doesn’t hold back. Though not politically aligned with any party or leader, he discusses demonetisation and nationalism, the two hot-button issues of the day. With the disclaimer that he is not ‘nationalistic freak’, he says India needs to stand behind somebody who has taken a huge political risk (a reference to Narendra Modi and demonetisation), and that emotional commitment to a country is an essential ingredient for nation-building. Edited excerpts:

Your book revolves around your healing principle of ‘Inner Engineering’. Can you explain the concept?

This is not a teaching, preaching, philosophy, religion, this is a technology for wellbeing. Show me one person who doesn’t need a technology for wellbeing? In India, the book is leading across sections and doing even better than fiction and that is a statement from the people that it was needed. When it comes to other aspects of our life, we employ science and tech to make things work. When it comes to religion, we still have silly philosophies and ideologies. Why? This is a movement from religion to responsibility. Without turning inward, there is no way you will have yourself the way you want yourself to be. When you can approach medicine in a scientific manner, why can’t you approach inner-wellbeing in a logically correct and scientifically verifiable way, I ask?

The reason why somebody feels insecure and miserable is because they haven’t taken charge of their inward and out of insecurities and the bad experience of life, people may do many things in reaction.

Political developments across the globe in 2016 suggest that countries are closing their doors. Is there a way to go inwards into your culture and identity without pitting them against that of another?
Going inwards is not about culture, it is not about politics or the positions that we take in the world. Going inwards is because the source of your experience is within you. The reason why somebody feels insecure and miserable is because they haven’t taken charge of their inward and out of insecurities and the bad experience of life, people may do many things in reaction. Going inwards means you are in charge of how you experience your life, you can make it beautiful or ugly, blissful or miserable. Right now, because people haven’t turned inwards, there is much fear of suffering and anxiety, and anger against each other. We are trying to fix the reactions, when we should be fixing the source.

In the context of demonetisation, tell us if India is more critical of governmental decisions than before and do most believe that policies are designed to harm them?

We are critical of governmental decisions because we are used to governments that don’t take any decisions. Now when any decision is made, we think it is wrong. We’ve been a developing nation f70 years because we are simply unwilling to fix the fundamentals. There are certain serious problems in the country, do you want to take them head-on or do you want to pussyfoot around them forever? Demonetisation is a little bit of a confrontation with the problem that nearly 60 percent transactions are beneath the radar. How do you run a nation when a little over two per cent pay taxes? How does a nation’s administration function effectively without revenue? This is a system coming from a colonial era and the nomenclature still continues. Even today, district administrators are called collectors because in those days their job was to collect taxes. Earlier, whoever didn’t pay tax was a hero. We are still in that hangover. We can’t live in little nations of comfort and wellbeing, it’s time that we work for the wellbeing of the nation as a whole and for that some painful steps have to be taken. Right now, the issue is that if I have to start my own business, I have to build my own road, generate electricity, and manage sewage. This is not an excuse to not be in the tax net. Only if we pay, we can demand services. Democracy is not a spectator sport, we can participate through various instruments on a daily basis and demand results. If 30 percent of the population doesn’t come in the tax net in the next 10 years, we won’t have a developed nation. Nothing significant happens without some pain.

That said, do you think the present government is doing a good job?

The present government is doing a very good job by wielding a stick at those who are not being compliant with the nation’s goals. But the political game in a democratic country is nebulous. They will have to do a few populist things. When somebody takes a huge political risk to correct something, you have to stand with them. Once people have elected a government, all of us should simply support it. If you pull their leg, how will they function? I am not politically aligned with a party or a fan of any leader but believe in the wellbeing of a democratic nation. If you have any other commitment going against the nation’s growth, it is a crime. Those who are sitting in comfortable places are doing these things without understanding what we are denying to those who have barely eaten. You go to the remotest parts of Africa and you’ll find that the children are bouncy and healthy. Though there is experience and cultural strength in India, we are not doing well on the ground.

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Do we define nationalism too much? Why has it become necessary to prove that we are Indian?
Right now the big issue is that of playing the national anthem in theatres. Because you have popcorn in one hand and cola in the other, you can’t stand up. If there is no pride about the country, how do you build a country? Nationalism is not an ultimate goal, but an immediate need to move the people in one direction, otherwise everybody has their own caste, creed, religion, all kinds of things. We are talking about nuances of liberal freedom when half the people have not eaten. Right now, we’re in the basics, let’s understand this. I am not a nationalistic freak, my work is beyond national, racial and religious borders, and my idea of humanity is 7.3 billion people. But the nation is the largest mass of people and to bind it together and take it forward, national identity is important. Emotional commitment to the country is needed.

Is this the era of collective rage, clashing opinions and a lack of action?
The rage is limited to the media. There is a big sense of satisfaction and fulfilment among the poorest of poor in this country, because they feel that for the first time somebody has hit the rich. I only wish this digitisation process had started a year earlier, and 30 to 40 percent of the population had moved into a cashless economy. People are protesting all the time. There is more activism in the country than activity, we need activity. We have inherited this from a pre-independence era where we call for a bandh, shut down electricity, rasta roko, rail roko. Gandhi’s technology was fine when someone else was ruling us. How do we shut down our own nation? I am not for mad fanaticism at all but I am asking, how do you move people without getting them emotionally identified with the nation?

Not all mental ailments are because of pathological causes, but also happen because of social causes. In the West, one of the biggest problems is loneliness. In India, there is no room for loneliness because someone is always walking over you.

A recent Bollywood movie Dear Zindagi discussed the subject of mental health. Does everybody secretly like to believe they are depressed or that they need to be rescued? Is the youth ready or nation building, if they are self-absorbed?
In India, the self-absorbed youth is only a small segment coming from affluent families in urban centres. The rest of them are not like that. The population is largely community-oriented, so people are not depressed on the same scale as Europeans are. Not all mental ailments are because of pathological causes, but also happen because of social causes. In the West, one of the biggest problems is loneliness. In India, there is no room for loneliness because someone is always walking over you. This may look like an irritant at some point but it helps people stay mentally healthy. We are slowly withdrawing from that and moving toward a different mode, and there will be a price to pay.

Is spiritualism now a capitalism-driven material need, just like a bag or a pair of jeans?
There is substantial medical and scientific evidence to prove that only when you are in a pleasant state of experience, your body and brain works at its best. If you want to succeed in the world, it is only a question of harnessing your body and brain to the fullest. If you do this successfully, will you become unsuccessful in the world? Miserable people are not successful. The spiritual process is a self-realisation. You can use a phone better if you know more about it. The same thing applies to the brain, the greatest and most sophisticated gadget on the planet. Spirituality is not a disability, it is the greatest empowerment you can receive, your body, mind, thought, emotions and energy will function for you and not against you if you know the nature of your existence fully. It’s just like you can either open up the cosmos with a phone, or just use it in a rudimentary way to SMS your friend.

Is social media leading to a rise in depression because one has constant access to other people’s achievements? Are we in a state of constant denial?
Every gift given to you is becoming a problem because you are trying to extract happiness from the world. You need to understand that all human experience happens from within. If you’re seeking joy from Facebook, you’ll be miserable because you’ll see wrong faces. Every technology that comes to you has come to enhance your life and not take away your joy. You have to move from compulsiveness to consciousness. Your very mind is the source of your misery. People want the brain of an earthworm? Why? It took us years of evolution to get here. Those who are joyful in their own way, by their own nature, their genius will unfold. Right now, the fear of suffering has cramped you up, you are blaming Facebook, blaming the phone, blaming technology. This is because your own intelligence has turned against you. If the source of your existence is in your hands, you will choose pleasantness.

Over 18,000 children have committed suicide in 2015, if we don’t accept that we are doing something fundamentally wrong, we have not gotten life properly. The entire world looked toward Indian culture for guidance when it came to life.

Why do we have to lose our peace and then find ways to bring it back?
Our schooling system is a leftover from the British times. They designed it mainly to demand obedience. This was her majesty’s requirement. We should have seen what kind of schooling we need for a free India. We need free human beings with a free-ranging mind. A large segment of population has been in extreme poverty and it all became about how to get a job. So, nobody could be trained about anything that concerns life. Over 18,000 children have committed suicide in 2015, if we don’t accept that we are doing something fundamentally wrong, we have not gotten life properly. The entire world looked toward Indian culture for guidance when it came to life. We are not making use of anything we know and are reinventing India from a western perspective. If you say anything Indian, people say mad nationalism is happening. There are 120 weaves in this country, we were the greatest textile nation in the country. But we are killing it totally because our brains are still in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). At the same time, our Indianness shouldn’t be rigid, history shows us that we have been able to absorb anything that comes our way without resistance and still retained our culture. This is a nation that has explored the interiority of the human mechanism like none other, we have the USP for how a human being can be joyful. This is a methodology we can offer the entire world. First, at least a majority in India has to get this.

So, economic wellbeing isn’t enough for development?
Economic wellbeing alone will not translate into human wellbeing. For instance, in the export town of Tirupur in Tamil Nadu, almost everybody earns two to three times more than those in neighbouring towns. Last year, on Diwali, Tamil Nadu sold 36 crore worth of alcohol and in this about 24 to 25 crore was from Tirupur. It is a town of merely 8 lakh people. Wherever economic wellbeing has happened, 40 per cent has become diabetic. This is why we’re talking about yoga nation.

Can spiritual leaders take a political stand?
If you can stand for an election, why can’t I? I won’t but that’s my choice. I have as much right as you have to stand for elections.

What kind of India do you envision for in 2017?
Right now, 60 percent of the population is undernourished, we are producing half and substandard human beings. The next thing is empowerment. We can educate people toward better agriculture, skill people in different ways; human beings must be empowered to do whatever they want. The next thing is ecology. This is a very serious problem that has gone unattended. Some studies show, on an average, all Indian rivers are depleting by 8 percent per year. This means, in 15-20 years, rivers will become seasonal. For instance, Kaveri doesn’t reach the ocean for two and a half months. What are we going to leave for our children? Barren land? Fly from Delhi to Chennai and every five minutes you will see large patches of brown. When sunlight continuously falls, bio-activity sinks deeper and deeper; what you think is soil today will become sand tomorrow. The per capita potable water you had in 1947, today you have 19 – 20 percent of it. In 2020, you’ll have only 7 seven percent of it. We need drastic ecological policy steps, which people will hate like they hate demonetisation.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 10:09 IST

Coming a full circle: Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag on his farewell visit to Siachen

Mon, 26 Dec 2016-08:12pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Keeping the promise made to himself, army chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag visited the world’s highest battlefield Siachen on Monday and interacted with the soldiers posted on the glacier. Suhag’s visit to the Siachen and the 15 Corps on Monday will be the last of his farewell visits to the Commands under him before he retires on December 31.Suhag had said that the first visit he undertook soon after taking over as army chief in 2014 was to Siachen and he wanted his last visit also to Siachen. Though Gen Suhag had wanted to visit Siachen around December 29, bad weather forced him to prepone the visit to the icy heights. Gen Suhag would hand over the baton to his Vice Chief Lt Gen Bipin Rawat at his North Block office on the afternoon of December 31.

Uttar Pradesh assembly elections: No discussion yet on SP-Cong-RLD alliance, says Ghulam Nabi Azad

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Terming rumours surrounding the alliance between the Samajwadi Party and the Congress and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) for upcoming Uttar Pradesh assembly elections as ‘completely baseless’, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad has said that no discussion has taken place between them.”It is completely baseless. None of it has ever taken place. No discussions have taken place on the alliance and when the discussion has not taken place, then, there is no chance of seat distribution as well,” Azad told ANI.It was widely reported that the three parties are forming a pre-poll alliance with Samajwadi Party leader and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, on several occasions, mentioning about the possibility.Akhilesh has been saying that a tie-up between SP and Congress would fetch over 300 of the 403 assembly seats in the upcoming elections.”Though Samajwadis are going to form majority government in the state, if an alliance takes place, it will win over 300 seats. The final decision in this regard will be taken by SP national president (Mulayam),” Akhilesh had said in Lucknow.

Cop teen beam hope on kids living in shadow of Red Fort

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An unlikely pair of a Delhi Police constable and a 13-year-old girl is slowly but surely transforming the lives of many underprivileged children in the Red Fort area.Than Singh, a constable at the Red Fort Police Post and Ankita, a student of the Jain Senior Secondary School in Chandni Chowk, organise classes for as many as 19 slum children whose parents are either daily wage labourers or involved in other menial jobs, such as cleaning and maintaining the historic Red Fort. Popular for his perseverance and a big heart, Singh himself was born and brought up in a JJ cluster. Though he tried everything, from ironing clothes to selling corn and serving at a restaurant, to fund his education, he was forced to drop out of college in the final year due to adverse circumstances. He now sponsors the books, stationery and other necessary items for the children. Ankita, who actually teaches the kids, was born and brought up inside the quarters at the Red Fort. Her father works as an electrician and also serves tea to make ends meet. The sharp and optimistic teen comes to teach these children after finishing her own classes.The Sai Baba Mandir near the Red Fort, usually out of bounds for the public, is the duo’s preferred spot to educate, learn and thrive. This make-shift tiny tuition centre recognises the children for who they are — curious and eager to learn — without considering their financial circumstances.The initiative has received the support of SHO (Kotwali) Om Prakash Lekhwal and PP Red Fort incharge Pradeep as well, who recently sponsored sweaters for the children. Now the children have taken to those sweaters as their uniform and wear them for the class daily.Everyday, the spartan little room turns into a zone of positive energy. Some posters of Gods and education-related material, a blackboard, a mat and the palpable enthusiasm are the only things that adorn the room where these kids study. “Some kids are very intelligent. Initially, there was some resistance but then we made sure that all the kids came together. They are also very attached to anything we give them and treasure it dearly,” Ankita says.Mausam, 6, used to pick plastic bottles from the Red Fort lawns. Now the proud child says she knows how to count from 1 to 20. Other kids also used to roam around, picking up bottles, selling water, papad and chutneys, among other sundry items. But now they are enthusiastic about their education. The fact that they are provided chips, candies and parathas, along with some sports equipment, on a regular basis is just the icing on the cake.Mahesh, 14, had come to the Red Fort four years ago along with his father, who cleans the stones and marble at the Fort. “I sold water bottles here. Papa enrolled me at a school in Jabalpur but I did not study much and then we moved here. Now, I come to this class every day. I know the alphabet, names of fruits and vegetables, and numbers till 50,” he says.For this lot that was almost invisible in the shadow of the national monument, the future now seems a little brighter.

Demonetization: SBI staffer from Gujarat commits suicide, wife blames ‘work pressure’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 33-year-old cashier with the State Bank of India allegedly committed suicide on Sunday by hanging himself from a ceiling fan at his residence at Tharad in Banaskantha district, police said. Though the police refused to assign any motive to the extreme step taken by Prem Shankar Prajapati, his wife said he had talked about “heavy work pressure” at Tharad branch of the bank.He originally belonged to Barmer in Rajasthan. “Prajapati was a native of Barmer and has been working as a cashier at SBI’s Tharad branch for last one-and-half-years. Due to some unknown reasons, Prajapati committed suicide by hanging himself from ceiling fan today morning. We have not found any suicide note from the spot,” said Tharad police inspector JG Chavda.However, Prajapati’s wife Manjula claimed her husband had once complained about the work pressure. “My husband used to remain tensed after coming home from the bank. He once said that there is so much work pressure. He did not talk much due to tension,” Manjula told reporters outside police station.

Unhappy with demonetization, SP leader announces reward for beheading PM Modi, Amit Shah

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Samajwadi Party leader from Baghpat has promised reward for beheading Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah for creating an emergency-like situation in the country following demonetization. In the video below, Tarun Deo reads out a letter from what seems to be youth wing meeting, saying that people have been badly affected by the demonetization move taken by Modi and Shah. Deo blamed Modi and Shah for creating an emergency-like situation in the country and also for the 2002 Godhra riots. He said that an appropriate reward for beheading Modi and Amit Shah would be given. Though Deo calls himself party’s Baghpat district youth wing president, SP president Shivpal Yadav had reportedly dismissed all district units, including frontal organisations in December, as per Financial Express report.

Demonetisation: Upset over the lack of money at banks, villagers block traffic in UP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Upset over the lack of money at banks even after 22 days of demonetization, villagers at Bilaspur here today blocked the Noida-Sikandrabad road, affecting traffic for more than an hour.Reportedly the banks at Mandi Shyam Nagar in Dankaur displayed a ‘no cash’ notice and when the villagers reached there they were left agitated.Locals said the villagers then closed the banks’ gates from outside and held protest even as some of them blocked traffic on the Noida-Sikandrabad road.For one and half hour traffic was affected. Senior police officers reached site and pacified the villagers after which the blockade was lifted.”For the last three days I have been visiting the bank to withdraw Rs 2,000 but am unable to get the money. Banks claim they are not getting cash. The ATMs too are without cash,” said one of the villagers, Dharam Bhati.Another villager, Raje, alleged, “Bank officials give money to their known persons out of turn while the common man after standing in queue for hours was told there was no cash and was sent back.”At Udyog Bandhu meeting held today at DM camp office in Noida, some industrialists raised the problems emerging due to demonetization before the district magistrate N P Singh.”Small industries’ production was affected. Though the government has allowed withdrawal of Rs 50,000 from current accounts but bank officials are refusing such withdrawals, saying there was no cash at banks,” they claimed.

When artist takes a back seat

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In Western art, a painting is usually closely associated with the name of the artist—The Starry Night with Vincent Van Gogh or The Last Supper with Leonardo da Vinci. But in traditional Buddhist art, especially the thangka—its most glorious form—the artist is conspicuous only by absence. The paintings, explicitly symbolic and religious in nature, are rarely signed and though some artists might be known, that is more because they were important monastic leaders.Talking about the process, Arjun Sawhney, Managing Director of EGG Communications, who grew up appreciating Bhutanese thangka paintings owing to his father’s business in the country, says: “The intricate paintings are made of natural earth pigments, extracted from rocks and vegetables. Pure gold powder is used to highlight the art. Sometimes there are as many as 10 shades of blue in a painting, all made of different rocks.”Sawhney is currently curating an exhibition with fashion choreographer Tania Lefebvre in Delhi, featuring thangkas by Zeiko, a master Bhutanese artist. The exhibition is titled ‘Tara: 21 Avatars of the Goddess’. The canvases displaying myriad manifestations of the leading female meditation deity of Mahayana Buddhism, including the benevolent Golden Tara, and the ferocious Blue/Black Tara, have been created under strict guidelines of scriptures.”The White Tara protects from nightmares, disputes, and curses. Similarly, the Red Tara protects life force, brings inner radiance and protects animals. All the forms of Taras have different iconography, standing for different concepts,” says Sawhney.The art of thangka painting dates back to the 7th century. Though exceedingly beautiful, for Buddhists the traditional value of thangkas doesn’t lie in their pleasing aesthetics but as their use for meditational practice.Practitioners use the artworks to visualise a particular deity, strengthen their concentration, or forge a link between themselves and the deity. They are also used to illustrate the life stories of various masters. Sometimes, thangkas meant for personal use have inscriptions on the back.The composition is highly geometric, and the icons range from alms bowls to trees, rivers and animals. The proportions in a thangka painting need to be exact representations of deities and their spiritual realisations.The concept of artistic intent or invention, is missing in thangka painting. They are not really a product of imagination of the artist, who must, at all times, strictly adhere to the correct guidelines. The aspiring artists spend gruelling years to learn the correct proportions and techniques of mixing and applying the paints.”Though the form and methodology remain strictly traditional, some modern painters have started to experiment with colours to showcase their own interpretation. Master artist Zeiko has not, however, signed any of his Tara thangkas, in keeping with the convention,” says Sawhney.NORBULINGKA PROCESSIn India, the work of preserving and perpetuating this ancient meditational art is mainly undertaken at the Norbulingka Institute in Dharamsala. A piece of canvas is stitched onto a wooden frame and rubbed smooth with a glass until its texture disappears. The outline of the deity is sketched in pencil using iconograpic grids, and then outlined in black ink. Powders made of crushed mineral and vegetable pigments are mixed with water and adhesive to create paint. Some elements used are quite precious, such as lapis lazuli for dark blue. Finally, a pure gold paint is added, and the thangka is framed in a brocade border.

Demonetization: Rs 1.12 cr in scrapped notes seized from businessman in Pune

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Police seized cash worth Rs 1.12 crore on Friday, all in banned denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 from a businessman in Pune. According to Lashkar Police Station, the businessman, Bharat Shah, wanted to convert his alleged unaccounted money through some agents at 25% commission. “We received a tip-off that Shah was planning to meet some people on MG Road on Friday morning to convert the cash,” said a police inspector, attached to Lashkar Police station.Subsequently a trap was laid and Shah was detained for questioning. “We recovered 22,444 demonetised notes of Rs 500 denomination and 28 demonetised notes of Rs 1000 denomination from him,” the police official said . “Though Shah is claiming that the cash seized from him are his savings, we suspect that it is unaccounted money, which he wanted to convert,” said the officer.Police said no case has been registered against Shah but Income Tax department has been notified about the seized notes. On Wednesday, crime branch officials had seized “unaccounted” cash worth Rs 1.11-crore in old notes from a property broker, who too wanted to convert it into white through some agents here.

Maharashtra might reinforce ‘two liquor bottles at home’ policy; cutback likely to dent revenue

Here’s some sobering news for those who like to stock liquor at home: it cannot be more than two bottles anymore in Maharashtra. Though, it is indeed a fact that a while ago the policy had been relaxed and was in force till Saturday.

Two Marathi newspapers, Pudhari and Loksatta cited V Radha, the state excise commissioner as saying the tightening of the recently-relaxed rule was already in force. She was on a visit to Ralegansidhi for consultations with Anna Hazare. Firstpost has not verified this independently.

The relaxed rules had allowed storing 48 beer bottles of 650ml each or 24 wine bottles (750ml) or 16 hard liquor bottles (750 ml) at home for a month. Permit holders were combination of all three categories, provided the total content in all bottles put together does not exceed 12 units of pure spirits.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Apparently, this was a response to anti-liquor civic society, which had feared that kind of stocking would amount to virtually converting a home into a liquor store of sorts and encourage alcoholism. Hazare is one of the key leaders of anti-alcohol campaigns.

While ‘reforming’ the village he now lives in, he was not averse to thrashing alcoholics; booze was banned by him — stocking, selling, or consuming. He has been pressing for such a policy across the state, but prohibition is unlikely for now. Probably he is agreeable to limiting consumption.

This points to a clear series of flipflops, welcomed in some quarters and frowned at in others, depending on who likes liquor and who doesn’t. The Congress-NCP government had set the limit to two units a week, that is, eight units a month. Incumbent government brought back the 12-unit limit allowed some five years back.

Since Morarji Desai’s time, Mumbai and Maharashtra have had the ‘permit’ method where a drinker needed one on health grounds to consumer it. They were served in bars which came to be known as ‘permit rooms’ but it was a lax system. Later, bars were allowed to issue temporary one-day permits too, making the medical requirement a farce.

The state’s excise revenue is high, at upwards of Rs 13,500 crore and another Rs 80,000 crore by way of VAT, in the previous fiscal, according to Livemint, which it can ill-afford to forego mainly because, as in virtually every state, the resources are inefficiently managed, building up huge debts. This new restriction could dent the revenues.

A unit is equal to a litre of country liquor or IMFL with a pure spirit content of about 40 percent. Beer and wine have lesser content, of 12-13 percent and proportionately, the unit is calculated. This is a useful formula: multiply the standard millilitre unit fixed by 12 permissible units, then divide it by the number by the quantity of bottles in millilitres.

The two newspapers reported that steps were afoot to strengthen the gram suraksha dal by giving them a legal status so they could help enforce official restrictions on storage, which implies also consumption control. If there are complaints against illicit distillation, complaints could be lodged on toll-free 180008333333 or by WhatApp to 8422001133, Loksatta said.

First Published On : Nov 20, 2016 15:51 IST

Pak syndicates may flood India with fake Rs 100 notes: NIA official

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government’s move to remove the high currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 note has delivered a big blow to Pakistan-based syndicates who were producing fake notes and pumping them into India, via Punjab, Nepal, and Bangladesh. However, investigative officers have revealed that another major security threat is on the horizon. Sources say these syndicates still have the capacity to produce high quality fake Rs 100 notes and are likely to flood the Indian market in the coming few days.“The equipment, printing machines, and paper to imitate the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 note has now been left redundant due to demonetization. But Pakistan still has the system to imitate Rs 100 notes. Though these are of lower value, they will be used to their optimum capacity to destabilise our economy,’’ said a National Investigation Agency (NIA) official.The NIA, tasked to investigate terrorism cases including those related to FICN, has in its investigations ascertained Pakistan to be the principal source of printing high quality counterfeited notes of three denominations: Rs 1,000, Rs 500 and Rs 100 and smuggling it in India. Since the old notes of Rs 100 denomination are still in circulation will not have any new design or additional security features the NIA, security, and other intelligence agencies, fear bulk pumping in this denomination from Pakistan-based syndicates. The threat is even more dangerous as since the announcement of demonetization, there has been a currency crunch of Rs 100 in the market. Security officials fear that in such an atmosphere if a big cache of counterfeited Rs 100 denomination is pumped into the India economy, it is likely to be lapped up as people are in need of it. Even before the demonetization measures, the Rs 100 note has been targeted by syndicates. The RBI’s currency management report released in August this year shows that denomination-wise the Rs 100 note constitutes 17.5 per cent of the total banknotes in circulation. The report also points out that the detection of counterfeit notes of Rs 100 has increased in the last two years. In 2014-15, the RBI detected 1,81,799 number of Rs 100 counterfeited notes from the total of 15,026,000,000 in circulation of the same denomination. This number increased to 2,21,447 fake Rs 100 notes in 2015-16 out of a total of 15,778,000,000. “The agencies in Pakistan dealing in FICN will not stop replicating Rs 100 notes,’’ the senior NIA officer said. He added,“This note is not the menace that higher denomination notes would have been, but it’s a threat that exists.”

Kerala: Priest arrested for sexually assaulting seminary student

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 41-year-old Catholic priest has been arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a 21-year-old seminary student here.Father James Thekemuriyil, a former Rector of the Deva Matha seminar at Pattaram in Iritty, had allegedly sexually assaulted the student in May, 2015, police said. Though the student had complained to the church, he was forced by him to withdraw his complaint, police said. The priest was later removed as Rector and was in Bengaluru.The student, who later left for Ranchi for higher studies, was physically assaulted by the priest and some others following which he personally appeared before police and filed a complaint. Based on the complaint, police took James into custody and brought him to Irrity and arrested him earlier this week.A case under sect 377 (unnatural offence), sect 342 (wrongful confinement) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of IPC had been registered against him, police said. He was produced before a local court which remanded him to judicial custody.

AIIMS proposes increasing retirement age of faculty to 67

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The governing body of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences has cleared the proposal to increase the retirement age of its teaching faculty from 65 to 67 years. The proposal will now have to await the approval of the Cabinet for it to be implemented. The decision was taken during the 150th meeting of the governing body and 10th meeting of the institute body chaired by Union Health Minister JP Nadda late Friday evening. Nadda in his capacity as the Health Minister is also the President of AIIMS. “The two bodies have cleared the proposal to increase the retirement age of teaching faculty to 67 years from the present limit of 65,” an AIIMS spokesperson said. The new proposal, however, does not apply to the AIIMS Director. “Though the proposal does not include the institute’s director, the government can still bring the same in its ambit through Parliamentary procedure,” the spokesperson said. The AIIMS has already begun the search for its new director starting this month.Present Director Dr MC Misra is superannuating on January 31 next year. During the governing and institute’s bodies meeting, Nadda had also directed the AIIMS administration to take all necessary steps to operationalise the National Cancer Institute by April 2018.The NCI is coming up in Jhajjhar in Haryana which would be equipped with top medical facilities including first-of-its-kind tissue repository.

In faceless battle, BJP plans series of PM rallies

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to make a trip to poll-bound Uttar Pradesh nearly once a fortnight over the next two months. As the BJP prepares for a crucial electoral battle without a chief ministerial candidate, the party is planning around eight Modi rallies in the state from October 24 to December 25.To begin with, Modi will be launching a central government irrigation scheme—Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojna (PMKSY)—from Mahoba, which falls in the Bundelkhand region. Incidentally, at the beginning of the Lok Sabha election too Modi had addressed a rally at Jhansi, which also falls in the economically backward region.Modi’s Mahoba rally would resonate the party’s development theme for the UP assembly elections, due early next year. The Modi government was also at the centre of a controversy relating to Bundelkhand earlier this year, with the ruling Samajwadi Party accusing it of playing politics by sending an “empty” water train to the region which was hit by drought. Railways minister Suresh Prabhu had rejected the charge saying a ten-wagon train was on the way to fill water at Jhansi.Modi will be addressing a rally in Lucknow on December 25, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s birthday. The BJP’s four yatras beginning from different places on November three will culminate at the state capital, from where Vajpayee was the Lok Sabha candidate.The Prime Minister is expected to be covering every zone in the state ahead of the elections as the BJP aggressively projects him, banking heavily on the Modi regime’s flagship schemes. The party had swept the Lok Sabha elections in the state with Modi as Prime Ministerial candidate.Meanwhile, Congress leader Rita Bahuguna, a Brahmin face, was likely to join the BJP, sources said. Though there was no official confirmation, they said she had already met some party leaders. The BJP is trying to consolidate its Brahmin vote in the state, where the Congress has put up Shiela Dikshit, a Brahmin, as its chief ministerial candidate. Bahuguna, an MLA from Lucknow Cantonment, is understood to have been peeved with the move. Though the party is hoping to get the advantage of the surgical strikes across the LoC, a BJP leader said the main focus of the party will be on bringing change in the state, where the SP and BSP have ruled for the past 14 years. This will also be the second time this month that Modi would be going to Uttar Pradesh. On Dussehra, Modi had addressed a rally from Lucknow, breaking the trend of Prime Ministers attending the celebrations in the Capital.Meanwhile, the other four yatras in the state will begin from Sahranpur, Lalitpur, Ballia and Sonbhadra and pass through all 75 districts of the state.

Pak hackers target Delhi Police website only to fail

Fri, 14 Oct 2016-11:39am , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistani hackers have tried to mount attacks on the Delhi Police’s website post surgical strikes by the Indian Army in PoK, but in vain. “Though the Pakistani hackers have made attempts to breach our systems, they haven’t been successful,” said a police officer.”Our system is hack-proof. Hackers have tried to gain access to the GPS server of PCRs but have not succeeded,” the officer said.Before January 26, hackers had tried to break into the system, but the attempt was foiled and the website was shut down as a precautionary measure and was later restored, the officer said.A special investigative team had been formed to identify the hackers who were traced in Russia and Germany. The security system was then bolstered.

In a first, PM to celebrate Dussehra in Lucknow

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi is breaking another trend — that of heads of government celebrating Dussehra in the national capital. He is likely to spend the evening of October 11 at the Aishbagh Ramlila Samiti ground of Lucknow, the capital of poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.Lucknow mayor Dinesh Sharma has extended the invitation to the Prime Minister. Though the written acceptance is yet to be sent, the Prime Minister’s Office has informally conveyed that Modi was likely to attend the Ramleela programme at Lucknow.This will be the first time that an Indian Prime Minister will be celebrating the festival at Lucknow. Though former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited Lucknow, which was his Lok Sabha constituency five times, he too never attended Dussehra celebrations in this 1807 Ramlila ground of the city.Modi, an MP from Varanasi, will be spending 90 minutes at the venue in Lucknow. This comes at a time when the BJP is gearing up for the crucial UP assembly polls early next year. This will also be his first visit to the state after the surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC), which have raised the hopes of the BJP rank and file in UP. Party leaders said people see Modi as a hero who has lived up to their expectations. Though the party leaders have been asked to restrain from chest-thumping, the BJP is like to cash in on the Centre’s response to the Uri attack.Home minister Rajnath Singh, who represents the Lucknow seat, has called upon the people of the state to end the BJP’s 14-year exile from power, apparently drawing parallels to the period when Lord Rama had to suffer exile, as per the mythological tale around which Dussehra revolves.Besides, the Prime Minister has been trying to send the message that he wanted to change the tradition of Delhi being the Centre of major events. So far, he has done this mostly on the diplomatic front. The move began with bilaterals with visiting world dignitaries. He now plans to summit-level meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Goa later this month. The Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (Brics) summit will also be held in Goa on those dates. Vajpayee had also met Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf outside Delhi in 2001, when they held talks in Agra.Modi has been celebrating Diwali too outside Delhi. The first Dussehra after he came to power was made an apolitical affair with Modi sharing the dais with Opposition leaders Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi in Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan.

Mumbai to undergo London like CCTV expansion

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

Fire at Andheri medical store kills 9 of a family

Five children, including a three-month-old boy, were among nine of a family who were charred to death in a fire that broke out in Andheri on Thursday morning.The fire broke out inside Wafa Pharmacy in the Nigam Mestry chawl, Juhu lane, around 6 am. Only three members of the family – Mozin (58), and his two brothers, Imtiaz (32) and Nizam Khan (19), survived.Upon hearing a minor blast-like sound in the morning, the three of them went to the ground floor to check. When they realised that there was a fire, the trio jumped to a neighboring house. From there, they alerted the rest of their family members and asked them to take the rear exit. However, the door got stuck, trapping all nine inside the house.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Though locals tried to break open the shop’s shutter, the flames proved to be too strong. “As smoke started billowing from the shop, we alerted the emergency services,” said Ghanshyam Yadav, a local resident. Preliminary investigations point to a short-circuit as the cause.Three fire tenders took about an hour to douse the flames. Eight members of the family had perished by then. The fire brigade rushed Sofia (26), wife of Imtiaz, with more than 60 per cent burns to the Cooper Hospital. Though she was later shifted to the Kasturba Hospital, she was declared dead on arrival. Sofia’s three children – Huzefa (8), Aliza (6) and Altamash (three-month-old) – also lost their lives.The fire claimed the life of eight-month-old pregnant Rabin (28), whose two kids – Hani (8) and Tubba (5) – and husband Siddique (35) also lost their lives. Their mother-in-law, Sabunissa (55), was also charred to death.”We have registered an FIR and have recorded statements of survivors and locals,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Ashok Dudhe said.There are more than 650 families in the locality and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) says most of the structures there were illegal. Civic officials said that the locality was identified for redevelopment.Municipal officers said that the two-storey house of the Khans was developed without permission. “Most of the structures in this area are without legitimate development order. We are probing the property details of the house and will prepare a report soon,” BMC assistant engineer (building and factory) TA Pawar said.Meanwhile, locals claimed that the fire brigade took over an hour to reach the spot. “Even after they reached the scene, there were problems with water pipes and tenders. Had they arrived on time, some lives could have been saved,” said local resident Shakir Mutsaq.Fire brigade officials, however, said that the tenders, along with three teams, arrived within 20 minutes of the incident being reported.

Jammu internet services suspended after temple desecration

Jammu: Authorities decided to suspend all Internet services across Jammu region on Friday to stop spread of rumours on social networking sites following the desecration of a temple here Thursday evening.

All mobile and broadband-based Internet services have been suspended, a district official said.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“To stop rumour mongering on social networking sites in the wake of the desecration of Shiv temple in Nanak Nagar area, the authorities decided to temporarily suspend all Internet services including mobile and landline Internet services,” the official said.

One more temple was allegedly desecrated in Jammu on Thursday, leading to tension briefly in parts of the city.

“A man entered a temple in the Nanak Nagar area and tried to vandalise it. The man has been identified and arrested,” Deputy Commissioner of Jammu Simrandeep Singh had said.

A large number of people came onto the roads after news spread. Shopkeepers in the area downed their shutters and held a protest demanding action against the accused.

“Though some people held protest in the area, the situation is normal and under control. Adequate police personnel have been deployed to foil any untoward incident in the area,” Singh said.

The incident took place even as normalcy had returned to Jammu following alleged desecration of a temple in another area Roopnagar on Tuesday by a man who was described by police as “mentally disturbed”. The city had witnessed violence and arson over that incident.

Why drastic cut in visas to Pakistanis, asks Indian envoy

At a time when India and Pakistan are talking about increasing people to people contact to normalise relations, the Modi government seems to have done the opposite by drastically cutting down visas given to Pakistani nationals but, interestingly, has not kept its own officials in the loop.Even the topmost Indian official in Pakistan, high commissioner, Gautam Bambawale, seems oblivious to the reasons behind this drastic cut of 50% in visa approvals and has pleaded the government to ascertain the reasons and convey them to him as he does not know what to say back in Pakistan.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In his letter titled “drastic reduction in visas issued to Pakistan nationals” dated June 13, 2016 to union home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, high commissioner Bambawale says, “…in 2014 and 2015 the proportion of visas rejected was very low. In 2016, it has risen to 50%. The number of visa rejections has increased substantially for no obvious reasons. Many Pakistanis have been pointing this out to me.”According to details given in the letter, the number of visas issued has come down drastically by 50% in just one year. In the period from January 1 to May 31, the visas issued in 2015 were 31,974 but in the same period in 2016 the number came down sharply to 17, 490.Similarly, the rejection of visas to Pakistani nationals also saw a quantum jump. While in 2014, a total of 8910 visas got rejected out of 50,338 applications, in 2015, the number of rejected visas spiralled to 9335 out of 38,557 applications. In 2016, a whopping 17581 visas applications got rejected out of a total of 33191.Explaining the hopeless situation his is in, Bambawale pleads, “I would be grateful if reasons for the drastic increase in rejected visa can be ascertained and conveyed to me. If there is no plausible reason for drastic visa reductions please do help in ensuring that the proportion of rejected visas is retained.”Officials contacted by this reporter in the union home ministry were as clueless about the reasons as was the high commissioner.One source, however, said, “Though nothing has been spelt out clearly, directions have been issued to the agencies to strictly vet the antecedents of Pakistani nationals after terror attack on Pathankot airbase. But this should have been explained to the high commissioner. It reflect badly on government.”

SP, BSP hand in glove ‘in looting UP’: Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi used the massive BJP rally in Allahabad on Monday to slam the party’s main opponents, the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the BSP, accusing them of a range of evils, including corruption, nepotism, casteism and misgovernance. Modi looked delighted by the constant cheers he drew from the huge crowd which seemed to relish his caustic eloquence.”These two parties have a contract. It’s a ‘jugalbandi’. When one is in power, the other levels numerous allegations of corruption, nepotism and so many other things. But, SP has been in power for about five years. But it hasn’t done anything against any BSP leader. Now, if the BSP comes to power, it will do nothing about the SP’s corruption. This contract of looting UP one by one for five years should stop,” he said. “The people of UP need to be liberated from this vicious circle of Sapa (SP) and Basapa (BSP),” he remarked, drawing an extended applause from the crowd.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Interestingly, Modi made no mention of the recent carnage in Mathura where at least 28 people, including two police officers were killed in a bloody struggle between politically patronised squatters and the police. He also made no reference to the Kairana controversy whereby the BJP has alleged that about 350 Hindus had been compelled to flee this western UP town because of alleged oppression from the minority community, though BJP chief Amit Shah and Union home minister Rajnath Singh dwelt on both these topics to lambast the Akhilesh Yadav regime in UP.During his elaborate speech, which lasted about 80 minutes, Modi pandered to the UPites’ ego giving them full credit for the BJP’s impressive victory in Lok Sabha 2014. “India can develop only if UP progresses. A developed UP can make us number one in the world,” he gushed.He followed it up with an emotional appeal to give the BJP a chance to rule UP, and almost shocked the audience as he said: “If we harm UP for personal gains (like the SP and BSP), you are free to kick us out.”Though the PM went all guns blazing at the SP and the BSP, he didn’t spare the Congress either. “For years, we had been hearing about helicopter scam, submarine deal, corruption in purchase of guns (read Bofors) etc. But it’s only when we formed the government, we came to know that these people were stealing even in the name of cooking gas. As much as Rs 15,000 crore was being bungled in cooking gas subsidies annually (during the Congress regime),” he said.Modi pointed out his government’s sterling performance, particularly in making records in laying roads and rail tracks, rural electrification and coal production. “If we get an opportunity in UP, we will try to do in five years what has not been done in 50 years,” he said.

Thiruvananthapuram: Seven kg tumour removed from woman’s body

In a rare surgery, a seven kg tumour has been removed by a team of doctors from the abdomen of a 45-year-old woman in Thiruvananthapuram.The huge tumour, ‘Retroperitoneal Lymphangioma’, was removed after a four-hour surgery by a team of 14 doctors led by Dr G Unnikrishnan, Assistant Professor of the General Surgery Department and Additional Professor Dr P K Thomas of the Medical College hospital on June 11.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Dr Unnikrishnan told PTI that when the patient was brought to the hospital, she was finding it difficult to bend down, breathe, and move around. The tumour had pushed her left kidney to the right, stomach and pancreas were pushed up to the anterior abdominal wall and the left descending colon was pushed to the right side, he said.The woman was admitted to the hospital on June 2 with acute stomach pain. Though she had visited various private hospitals, there was no relief. The patient was responding to treatment and recovering, he said, adding, only 186 such tumours have been reported so far the world over.

Mathura clashes: Union Minister Babul Surpiyo attacks ruling Samajwadi government in UP

Union Minister Babul Supriyo on Saturday attacked the Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh over the Mathura clash, saying it appears to be a “case of negligence” on the part of local administration.”Overlooking tension, which was brewing in the area for long and that too in a sacred place like Mathura, is not good. Even policemen lost their lives. Apparently, it appears that there was a negligence on the part of local administration,” Union Minister of State for Urban Development Supriyo told reporters.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”If tension was coiling up over the issue of removing encroachment, UP government should have taken a note of it. What was the local administration doing?” the BJP MP asked.As many as 24 persons, including an SP and an SHO, were killed in clashes between police and members of a sect who had encroached on a government land, during a drive to evict them in Mathura district on Thursday.Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has already sought a report on the issue and now the time has come for the damage control. It was a matter of intelligence failure too, he said.”It was a dangerous incident. An SP has lost his life. Who are responsible for the failure? It should be probed. It is also the responsibility of state government as law and order is a state subject,” the minister said.On BJP’s performance in the recently-concluded state Assembly elections in West Bengal, Supriyo said, “Though party’s vote share has come down to 10.2 per cent from 17 per cent in 2014 Lok Sabha poll, the spread of votes is homogeneous in nature and it got support of people from all parts of the state.”

Sri Sri extravaganza: NGT slaps Art of Living for not paying Rs 4.75 crore compensation

The National Green Tribunal has come down heavily on Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living (AOL) foundation for not depositing environment compensation of Rs 4.75 crore imposed on it for damaging Yamuna’s biodiversity during its three-day ‘World Culture Festival’ in March, saying it was “wilful violation” of its undertakings.The Tribunal made it clear that corporate entity cannot be used to promote irregularities.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”In the present case, application filed by Foundation lacks bonafides. There is not an iota of averments in the application, forming justifiable cause or good season as to why the Foundation did not comply with its undertakings and deposited the remaining amount within the time allowed by the Tribunal, on the own request of the Foundation.”We have noticed that the conduct of the Foundation is certainly not worthy of any appreciation. Today furnishing of a Bank Guarantee is subject to deposit of money, if the Foundation can deposit the amount with the banks, then why not with the concerned authorities as directed, vide order dated March 9, 2016,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.The tribunal said it would even lift the “corporate veil” and find “real substance” of the matter while examining the case to ascertain the truth.”The concept of corporate entity cannot be used to encourage and promote irregularities. Under the colours of holding a cultural event, the Foundation could not have caused irreparable damage to the environment, ecology and biodiversity of the river, particularly, the flood plain.”The intent of the Foundation lacked bonafides while giving undertakings to the Tribunal, is evident from the records before the Tribunal and the conduct of the Foundation.In not depositing the amount, the Foundation has committed willful violation of its undertakings and assurances given at the bar,” it said.The green panel on March 9 had refused to prohibit the three-day ‘World Culture Festival’, held by AOL between March 11 and 13, but asked it pay a compensation of Rs 5 crore for damaging biodiversity and aquatic life of Yamuna.On March 11, AOL had moved a plea seeking four weeks time for depositing the amount after which the tribunal allowed the foundation to deposit Rs 25 lakh on that day and granted three weeks time period to pay the balance amount. The green panel said that the AOL Foundation has enjoyed and derived the benefits of the order while disowning the liabilities and “preferred to enter into multiplicity of litigation rather than comply with its undertaking”.”Except for the wimp of the Foundation, we are unable to see any cause for non-compliance of the undertaking and assurances given to the Tribunal. The Foundation has enjoyed and derived the benefits of the order while disowning the liabilities arising therefrom. It preferred to enter into multiplicity of litigation rather than comply with its undertaking which is unequivocal and unconditional. It amounts to circumventing of law.”Though the uncalled statements allegedly made to the print and electronic media by the Foundation were completely disowned during the course of hearing but the subsequent actions of the Foundation are rather in conformity with such statements, than in line with intent to comply with the voluntary, unequivocal and unconditional undertaking given to the Tribunal by the Foundations and its office bearers,” the bench said.It said that the AOL foundation and its Trustees have failed to abide by the solemn and voluntary undertaking given to the Tribunal and “enjoyed the benefits of holding an event without discharging its liabilities”.It further rapped the foundation for not cleaning the debris and other waste on the Yamuna floodplains after the completion of the three-day cultural festival.”Though the Foundation had clearly taken a stand before the Tribunal that it would clean the entire debris and even remove the construction material from the food plain of river Yamuna, it did nothing of the sort.”It was reported that when the Inspection Team on behalf of the Principal Committee went for inspection, they were not only obstructed; but also not permitted to conduct the inspection.”Even in this manner the Foundation has obstructed compliance of the orders of the Tribunal. Besides all this, the Foundation is also guilty of withholding correct facts from the Tribunal,” it said.

NEET is good: This changes nothing for Maharashtra’s MBBS aspirants

Every change is inconvenient — even the one from worse to better.

The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) is the change for which we have always yearned. We know it has potential to change the medical admission process for the better. It is just that it has come too close to the forthcoming entrance examination. To that extent it certainly is inconvenient. But does it justify the virtual panic that has come to prevail amongst medical aspirants? My answer is an emphatic no!

The all-important question to ask is whether it will change the basic tenets of medical admission. The answer again is a categorical no. For instance, the syllabus, format and marking system of the test remain the same. The subsequent admission process also remains unchanged, except that it would now be a centralised national operation. The states will continue to have their share of admissions. It does not affect the prevailing policies in place. It does not affect the state’s right over medical education one bit.

Representational image of Indian medical students. PTI

Representational image of Indian medical students. PTI

Too much is being made of the fact that NEET will be based on the NCERT syllabus whereas all students from Maharashtra have studied and prepared for the test on the basis of the Maharashtra State board syllabus, and similarly for students from other state boards.

This fear is largely unfounded.

Concepts in Physics, Chemistry and Biology do not change because the cover of the textbooks change.

Even if the NCERT syllabus is way beyond the capacity of the Maharashtra Board students — one shudders to think what is then being taught by this board — the fact remains that the change is for all students from Maharashtra. And because the 85 percent seats reservation for domicile students is unchanged, there is no question of disadvantage for student from the state vis-à-vis students from the rest of India. Students from Maharashtra will be competing only amongst themselves.

And since the change is equal for all students, whatever advantage or disadvantage it entails is equal and uniform for all.

On the upside, it eliminates the need to appear for multiple entrance tests. It is never easy to prepare for so many examinations. Waiting for multiple dates and preparing for multiple examinations can be a huge drain on one’s mental faculties. It can also be a financial squeeze as many tests mean having to pay for many of them.

It is well-known how corrupt and unscrupulous practices play a big role in admission to certain institutes. It is equally well-known how entrance tests held by such institutes are nothing but an unmitigated farce. Historically, these are the institutes that have opposed the common national entrance test. And they will again orchestrate a charade to discredit NEET; to create confusion and spread panic.

In fact, this is our chance to make sure that merit is honoured and mediocrity supported by corruption is defeated. We have come a long way since the times when medical admissions were based on pre-medical examination results. There were no entrance tests then and merit alone counted in selecting the students. In those days, the  state was the sole custodian of medical education. Then the state decided to relinquish a part of its responsibility and roped in private players to run a part of the show. These private players introduced the concept of donation, capitation fee and management quota. Though it is claimed that merit prevails in all admissions, nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, it is an outrageous lie.

And have we forgotten the Vyapam scam wherein many state players colluded with undeserving candidates and got them medical seats?

NEET is the first step in purging the system. And if we block the first step itself, the corrupt and unscrupulous will continue to rule the roost. It’s time we made sure every merit-holder got his or her due. So, here’s my advice to the young aspirants. Time is short, don’t waste it on protests and dharnas. Belt up, buckle down, crack the NEET on 24 July.

Best of luck.

The author is a Mumbai-based consulting surgeon

Tamil Nadu elections 2016: Stalin doesn’t want to be CM, I will be the CM, says Karunanidhi

DMK President M Karunanidhi on Tuesday said he will be the Chief Minister if his party wins the May 16 assembly election and forms government in Tamil Nadu and his son M K Stalin has to wait “till nature does something to me.””Stalin himself doesn’t want to become Chief Minister. He wants DMK President (Karunanidhi) to become Chief Minister. I have never lost (an election) since 1957. Therefore, if I win, it will be the sixth time (as Chief Minister),” he told NDTV.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Responding to a question if he will pave the way for youngsters in the party in the event of DMK winning the elections, Karunanidhi asserted that he will lead the government if his party is voted back to power in coming elections and that DMK Treasurer Stalin was “among the first” who wanted him to be the Chief Minister.Asked what he had to say to those in the party who wanted Stalin to be given an opportunity (as Chief Minister), Karunanidhi quipped “if he has to get a chance (then) nature has to do something to me.”The issue of Karunanidhi passing the baton to a successor has been a subject of unending debate in DMK. Though Stalin has often been referred to as Karunanidhi’s political heir apparent, with the party patriarch himself dropping enough hints, he still has not been elevated to the top post. He was Deputy Chief Minister in the previous DMK government.Stalin has often found his Madurai-based elder brother M K Alagiri, who was expelled from DMK for anti-party activities, also vying for the top post. At the height of power tussle in DMK’s first family, Alagiri had once famously remarked that the party was not a ‘mutt’ where a senior pontiff could appoint a successor.

India denies any involvement in Nepal’s political developments

India on Monday denied any involvement in the internal political developments in Nepal which it described as purely political including Kathmandu’s decision to recall its ambassador here. “It is easy to blame external factors for your internal political issues. India has no role in the political happenings in Nepal. Even Nepal’s decision to recall its envoy is purely political as he is a senior leader of Nepali Congress,” a government source said here.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>His remarks come in the wake of the controversy surrounding the recall of Nepal’s envoy to India Deep Kumar Upadhyay by the Nepalese government. Upadhyay continued to stay put in his post here, after his country’s government was said to have ordered his recall, and was reported to have denied he had colluded with India to topple the K P Oli dispensation back home.Nepal has also dismissed rumours that it was mulling expulsion of Indian envoy Ranjit Rae as “baseless” and aimed at damaging bilateral ties.Media speculation was rife that the Nepalese government was mulling Rae’s expulsion in the backdrop of cancellation of President Bidhya Devi Bhandari’s maiden foreign visit to India and the controversy surrounding the recall of Upadhyay.Nepal had on Saturday cancelled the visit of Bhandari to India hardly 72 hours before her departure for Delhi. Though no reason was assigned for cancellation of the trip, it was believed to indicate Nepal’s unhappiness with India over the latter’s alleged meddling in the internal affairs of the Himalayan nation.

Simhastha Kumbh Mela: Rain, squall play spoilsport for second ‘shahi-snan’

Rain coupled with hailstorm and squall played spoilsport at the second ‘shahi snan’ (royal bath) of month-long Simhastha-Kumbh Mela in Ujjain on Monday. A large number of devotees were seen scurrying for cover as the weather turned hostile around 3 PM, but no casualty or damage to property was reported.”No casualty or loss to property has been reported,” Ujjain district collector Kavindra Kiyawat said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We are gathering information. Some places had been hit by the hailstorm,” he added. He said around 30 lakh people had taken the holy dip at Shipra river before the weather became inclement.On May 5, seven persons were killed and around 90 others injured when heavy rains accompanied by lightning and squall flattened and uprooted makeshifts tents of pilgrims in and around the site of the Kumbh Mela.Rainfall continued for several hours at this ancient city where a sea of devotees has converged for a holy dip on a day that coincides with the auspicious ‘Akashya Tritiya’. This morning, the second ‘Shahi Snan’ began with Naga Babas of Juna Akhara venturing into the Shipra river chanting ‘Har Har Mahadev’ and Ramghat had been decked up for the holy dip.Lakhs of devotees have gathered here to take part in the snan from every nook and corner of the country. The bath began with Juna Akhara pontiff Hari Giri offering puja at Ramghat. The Simhastha mela is being held here after a gap of 12 years.This time, transgenders have also set up their akhara in the mela area and took out a procession in the city, which was accorded a grand welcome. Though the transgenders had announced that would take Royal Bath today, they said this has been postponed to May 12 now.

ICMR to survey country’s nutrition in an unprecedented manner in a new survey

Taking up the gauntlet against alarming malnutrition in India, the Indian Council of Medical Research has announced a new comprehensive national nutrition survey, unlike any done before.This survey aims to unite the efforts and data of all scattered surveys that have happened in the country, the Rapid Action Survey of Children (RSoC), the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) for example,and bring on board as equal stakeholders the union ministries of health, women and child development and agriculture.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Unlike the previous surveys, which have concentrated on data for body weight, such as stunting, wasting and being underweight, the proposed project will take into account new markers — metabolism, macro and micro nutrients profiles, infant and young child feeding practices by region, level of physical activity and most importantly dietary patterns, ICMR DG Dr Soumya Swaminathan told the press. Speaking after a day long consultation on the matter with ministry representative and scientists from ICMR’s affiliated research bodies, Swaminathan said that dietary patterns had only ever been studied by the National Institute of Nutrition, the oldest research body in the country. NIN’s director, Dr Thingnganing Longvah, added that before being shut down previously for “administrative reasons”, NIN’s National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau (NNMB) had studied nutrition thus since 1994. This survey, which will be done through NIN, takes the previous studies forward.However, before the pilot is launched, the survey has to be designed in an intelligent comprehensive manner, knitting together all the scattered factors that influence nutrition in the country. Making no light of the leviathan task ahead of her, Swaminathan told dna about some of the hindrances expected.One such is the staff required to collect the data digitally. Either the NIN hires it’s own staff, or it works with people already employed by existing ministry run programmes, which could include tapping into ASHA and Anganwadi workers. “If we work with programme people it will require training and monitoring them,” she said. Though the ministry liaison Dr Ajay Khera spoke much of a two way dialogue between researcher and implementers, Swaminathan’s worry is real, as data collection at grassroots level is a long standing problem. For example, at a previous seminar held on nutrition organised by the think tank Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability, public health experts and former bureaucrats had spoken of data being manipulated at these levels to show officers in better light.Another possible problem could be how certain food habits are mired in controversy, such as eggs and cheap meat like beef. Though, as Swaminathan said there is no study at the moment on how nutrition has been impacted by these factors, such as Madhya Pradesh removing eggs, a known protein source from the meals of school children, thanks to the NNMB data “we know exactly what people are eating” and can study such an impact in the future.However, the pilot of the survey will only be launched in the end of 2016.Along with one for the survey, ICMR formed other task forces to study why anemia levels haven’t fallen in the country despite iron folic acid programme, and on the rising Vitamin D deficiency, which has been recognised as a public health problem but needs further study before a policy is framed.

Considerable delays in transfer of funds from Centre to State in health sector, says a parliamentary report

Concerns over an underfunded health sector extended to the mechanism of Centre-State funding, as raised by the Parliamentary Standing Committee report on health. In its 93rd report, the committee raised serious concerns over shortage of funds reaching states, which would impact majority of the government’s health programmes, including the ones announced this year — free generic drugs, free diagnostics and dialysis initiatives.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The department of health and family welfare made a written submission to the committee of the obstacles funds face to the states, the treasury route that was implemented in 2014-15 has seen “considerable delays”, in transferring the centre’s grants to State Health Societies. As the report goes, of the total Rs 8242.78 crore released now under the RCH Reproductive and Child Health and Health systems strengthening, Rs 7460 were transferred from the state treasury to the state health societies “with a delay of 0 to 142 days”, and Rs 782.74, i.e. 9.5% “is still lying with State TReasury for a period between 90 to 180 days”.According to committee, the treasury route of fund flow has created “unnecessary delays” and “bottlenecks” in the smooth functioning of the National Health Mission, and thus needs a review. If delays persist for another three months and the treasury system “fails to address the persisting delays”, the Committee said that the “society route should replace the Treasury route”.For the new initiatives to be implemented smoothly this year, the Committee asked the for an additional allocation of Rs 5,000 crore for the NHM to be raised at the RE stage.Already much is suffering under the NHM due a reduced allocation in the overall health sector, a mere 46.59% of the money envisaged in the 12th Year Plan, such as strengthening of district hospitals, scaling up of free drugs and diagnostics, scaling up new vaccines, establishing new primary and community health centres, etc. Interestingly along with free drugs, the government has made much of its immunisation programme and the introduction of new vaccines, something that seems to be odds with the state of finances seen in the report.The report also took note of the impact of the decision of the 14th Finance Commission on Centre state funding patterns. The Centre-State allocation went from 75:25 to 60:40, asking states to raise a larger share for programmes and schemes. Though the 10% increase in devolution of the Centre tax share to states was meant to help states step up their allocations, it was not possible in 2015-16 as the states had already decided their budgets, leading to a shortfall in budgets and an uncertainty about money that harmed many ongoing programmes of health and nutrition, as experts had previously told dna. The committee too noted that the suddenness of the change “must have jeopardised the targeted health outcomes in 2015-26”.The report also questioned the lack of mechanism to review how states would spend this extra 10% of tax share, and how it would reflect in the “allocation of additional resources for health”.However, even as it recognised the onus on the states to step up their allocations this year, and not let the health sector slide, the major responsibility remained on the centre, to up the public health expenditure to the much needed 2.5% of the GDP.

Haji Ali row: Trupti Desai calls off protest for today, says will continue fight for entry

After reaching late over an hour to protest outside Haji Ali dargah on Thursday, Trupti Desai, could not get down outside the Dargah Road which leads to the shrine. While the police managed to stop the crowd around her car, Desai had to flee the spot and wait for the police to make arrangements for her visit.Alleging that there were people with her outside the car, due to which she had to go ahead. “The police is making arrangements for my visit ahead. I will not be going without visiting the dargah. If people will co-operate with me, issues will resolve easily. The women with me in the car saw lathis and weapons. Fearing people may get violent, I will go in once the cops have done proper arrangements. Any harm to my supporters and I will be the responsibility to the government and police. Though we have not got proper support by police,” Desai said. While Desai said that she will not be entering the mazhar (tomb of the saint) and would abide by the laws today, she said that she will continue to fight for the approval of women to enter there. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Along with her supporters, she did some sloganeering a few metres from the dargah entrance where those opposing her stood guard. “We will fight for this and nobody can stop me from entering the dargah. I am going as a normal citizen,” Desai said.Desai alleged that the protesters were carrying weapons and tried to attack her with knives but she escaped in her car. She added while the police was cooperating right now, they had not been doing so earlier. Desai was still at the dargah in the evening and said she would not leave till she is allowed to enter. While clerics say the entrance of women is banned for security reasons, Desai opined that it was the duty of the dargah management to take action and see that necessary security arrangements were made.The Haji Ali Sab ke Liye Forum ended their protest after waiting for Desai over an hour. “The time for protest is getting over. We are ending our peaceful protest today, but we will have similar demonstrations again,” said Feroze Mithiborewala of the forum. He also said that Desai not arriving on time for the protest was not a setback as she was not the sole face of the protest.On the other hand, AIMIM, Shiv Sena and other local parties were adamant about not letting Desai enter the mazhar at Haji Ali. “We shall not let her enter the dargah. We will be physical if this happens,” an AIMIM member threatened.

Tamil Nadu Elections 2016: Dr APJ Abdul Kalam’s grandnephew launches new political party

One of the grandnephews of former president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam has launched a new political party in Tamil Nadu. APJ M Haja Syed Ibrahim has floated the Desiya Jananayaka Katchi (DJK), however, it will not take part in the May 16 Assembly elections.According to a report in The Hindu, Ibrahim was earlier the vice-president of the BJP Tamil Nadu unit’s minority wing. He quit the BJP in November 2015 in protest against the government’s refusal to convert Dr Kalam’s house in Delhi into a youth ‘Knowledge Centre’. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ibrahim unveiled the new party flag on Monday in Rameswaram. At the event, he spoke about how the party had been launched because of a demand raised by students and youngsters. He was quoted as saying, “The party would guide the students and focus on developing the education system and creating job opportunities.”He also said that the party would not use Dr Kalam’s name or photo. Though his granduncle had been apolitical, he had encouraged youth to take up politics, stated Ibrahim. The party is set to field candidates in all the 234 constituencies, but Ibrahim said he would not contest.

New low: No entry for ‘scantily dressed women’ in Chandigarh discos

In a move that is being called out as moral policing, Chandigarh’s administration has brought in a new policy to regulate how women dress in the city’s discotheques and are also concerned about ‘seditious activity’ taking place here.According to a report by a leading daily, in a policy titled “Controlling of Places of Public Amusement, 2016”, in effect from April 1, the administration has added certain clauses which restrict the free functioning of bars and discotheques in the city on the grounds of ‘indecency’ and ‘sedition’. The new policy also pulls back bar timings by two hours, from 2 AM to midnight. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Though, the policy draft does not clearly elaborate on or define “scantily dressed women”, “indecency” or “sedition”, it states that in instances where there is “exhibition or advertisement of scantily dressed women”, “indecency” or “sedition and likely to excite political discontent,” the license of bars and discotheques can be cancelled.
ALSO READ Goa: Order issued for closure of 9 night clubs in CalanguteWhile city hoteliers and restaurant owners are up in arms against the policy, joint home secretary Karnail Singh told the daily that the policy had been framed following directions from the Punjab and Haryana high court. “The policy is aimed at regulating the nightlife and ensuring law and order,” he said.

India urges rich nations to enhance their commitments to cut carbon emissions

Ahead of the Paris climate deal signing ceremony on April 22, India has urged developed nations to enhance their commitments to mitigate carbon emissions and mobilise finances for the Green Climate Fund (GCF). Last December 196 countries adopted the historic Paris climate deal to limit warming below 2 degrees above the pre-industrial level benchmark and to limit temperature increase to 1.5 degrees. The deal also saw countries submitting their nationally determined contributions, a national action plan, comprising of mitigation efforts to cut carbon emissions and adaptation efforts.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union minister for environment, forest and climate change Prakash Javadekar said on Tuesday, “All BASIC countries will sign the deal together. But, developed nations now must declare enhanced ambitions and action plan for second Kyoto Protocol period that will continue till 2020. We are doing so, and it will be unfortunate if they don’t do it. Also, mobilising $100 billion for green climate fund is still only in discussions without any action plan. The roadmap must be clear.”Though over 130 countries and 40 heads of states will participate in the signing ceremony, the real challenge lies ahead. The agreement will come into effect only a month after a minimum of 55 countries, which contribute 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, officially ratify the agreement. To ratify the deal, countries will have to seek approval from their respective Parliament or House which is a time consuming process, experts said. The process may become much trickier depending on domestic circumstances in major economies. In India, the deal would have to be presented before the union cabinet and the Parliament.The signing ceremony, though, got a boost last month as even United States and China, the world’s two biggest polluters, announced participation in the signing ceremony in a joint statement. Like its adoption, even the signing ceremony of the Paris climate deal will be historic. It will surpass the record of 119 signatures witnessed during the signing of the Law of the Sea treaty in 1994.

At least 24 e-waste collection centres to be set up in Mumbai

Though the quantum of e-waste in the city has gone down at present, 24 e-waste collection centres are planned to be set up across 24 civic wards in Mumbai, with an eye on the expected increase of such waste in the future.The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is planning to set up these e-waste centres under a public-private partnership model. Such an arrangement would facilitate the collection of hazardous e-waste from those sources that generate it and get the waste disposed of in an environment-friendly manner.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>These centres will be supported by thousands of collection bins, or eco-bins, which will be placed in spiritual and educational places. The arrangement would help in three ways: first, these bins and accumulated e-waste will remain safe at these places, secondly, these eco-bins would help develop awareness about e-waste and thirdly, since members of a family generally visit these places either daily or at regular intervals, they can therefore deposit the entire family’s e-waste there without walking the extra mile.The city of Mumbai needs systematic channels of e-waste collection centres since Mumbai is the highest e-waste generating city in the country. Not only the collection of e-waste, but its scientific disposal, too, needs to be dealt with in detail.The BMC has already started one such project at Vile Parle under this PPP model. The centre has been started by Ecoreco Collection Centre, the private firm selected to collect and facilitate the disposal of e-waste in a scientific manner.

Assam Elections 2016: Muslim man divorces wife after she votes for BJP

The husband of a 23-year-old woman in Assam’s Biswanath Charali district divorced her for purportedly casting her vote to a Bharatiya Janata Party candidate in the recently-concluded elections. Dilwara Begum, a resident of Adabheti village under the Chatiya police station, had cast her vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate in the Biswanath assembly segment on April 4, which infuriated her husband Aaimuddin Ali, a farmer, who divorced her immediately by saying ‘talaq’ three times. The couple have a five-year-old daughter. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Dilwara Begum told ANI, ‘I came to know about talaaq only yesterday (Friday). He had threatened me over phone that he would give me divorce, to which I told him if casting a vote compelled him give divorce to me then let it be.’ Her brother-in-law said, ‘When my brother asked his wife about her voting, she replied that she had given her vote to the flower symbol; to which my brother told her that he did not want to live with a woman who had voted to the flower and gave her divorce.’ Though the woman is living at her husband’s house, Aaimuddin has left the home.

Costlier, comfortable rides ahead as Railways set to launch new services

New Delhi: Though there was no fare hike proposal in the Rail Budget this time, passengers will have to cough up more for travelling on new trains with added facilities in the coming days.

New trains in the offing. AFPNew trains in the offing. AFP

New trains in the offing. AFP

Railways is gearing up to introduce a few special services with improved passenger amenities for which the regular fares will not be applicable, according to a senior railway ministry official.

As per the plan, new trains with brand names like Humsafar, Tejas and Utkrisht Double-decker Air-conditioned Yatri (UDAY), are likely to be pressed into service this year with the hike in fare ranging between 15 and 30 percent over the regular tariff.

All these trains were announced in the Rail Budget 2016-17 and the routes and destinations of these services are
being worked out.

Railways have already launched Suvidha trains on dynamic fare system.

“Suvidha trains are run periodically to cater to the growing demand on certain routes,” the official said adding
“these trains are demand-driven so the fare goes up with increased demand.”

While all coaches in Humsafar will have AC three-tier coaches, the Tejas trains will have a 130 km/hour speed. UDAY
are newly designed Double-decker trains with 40 percent higher carrying capacity.

All these new trains will have improved passenger amenities in the specially designed coaches so the fares will also be on the higher side, the official said.

Railways have recently introduced Mahamana Express and Gatimaan Express. Since both trains have improved amenities,
fares are also higher than the regular service.

Passengers do not mind paying more if the service is also better, he said.

Besides, the special trains to deal with the festive rush during Christmas season, Chhath, Holi, Durga Puja and
during Kumbh Mela will also have special fares, higher than the regular trains.


Jaipur: Hindu principal mentors school that was once a madarsa

A principal who was earlier affiliated to RSS’s Aadarsh Vidhya Mandir is now mentoring students at a school that was once a madarsa. Kailash Chandra Yadav has become the first non-Muslim principal at Rehmani Model School, which had its first non-Muslim teacher in 1995.Locating in the narrow lanes of Jaipur, the school once taught only religious texts, but now educates around 1,300 students and inculcates values of communal harmony.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to a report in a leading daily, the children studying in the school belong to the minority community and come from lower-middle class families. Though the school board comprises of Muslim members, several teachers are Hindu.”Having worked in Aadarsh Vidhya Mandir, it seemed almost weird to work for a ‘Muslim’ school, located in a `Muslim’ locality. However, that feeling passed soon. Students are students irrespective of their religion and education is important for all,” Yadav told the daily.However, the main challenge before the principal and teachers is to convince parents who come from poor backgrounds to send their children to school.The madarsa-turned-school was started by 72-year-old Akhtar with merely 50 students in the early 1980s and has now grown into a higher secondary school.

Activists fear new TB drug is too expensive

When the new ‘miracle-drug’ bedaquiline was finally rolled out in India this March — over three years after it was discovered and approved by the US Food and Drug Administration — it became a feather in the cap of the country’s Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP). However, members of civil society groups that work in the field of health have expressed reservation about how this patented and hence expensive drug would reach all the patients who need it desperately.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On April 1, the National Human Rights Commission had sent a notice to the Union commerce and the health ministries, taking serious note of India restraining the production of cheaper versions of generic medicines, as has been reported in the media for the past few weeks. There is a fear within the country’s pharma industry and civil society that the government will refrain from granting compulsory licences to generic companies to reproduce cheaper versions of expensive yet essential drugs, such as bedaquiline.Under its trade name Sirturo, the drug is priced at $4000-5000 by the pharmaceutical arm of Johnson & Johnson, Janssen Pharmaceutica.The drug’s initial supply is through a donation made by Janssen for 600 patients for a two-year treatment period. Though the company is said to have told the government that it will provide the drug in India for $900 per course after this donation is over, the price would still be unaffordable for many needy patients, activists say.They also say that though Janssen will probably continue giving donations to the government after this 600-patient mark is reached in two-three years, there is no clarity on what comes after.

Excess gadget use can lead to hunched backs among youngsters, warn doctors

New Delhi: Excessive use of electronic gadgets has led to a rise in cases of hunched backs among youngsters, health experts have said.

They said the problem initially begins as a mild case of bad posture when the children are comparatively young, but slowly begins to develop into hunched back and shoulders.

Representational image. Getty images

Representational image. Getty images

“It all starts with a bad posture due to spending more time on small digital screens. The more they get addicted to the gadgets the more the children are comfortable in the bad position,” said Dr Arvind G Kulkarni, head of Spine Scoliosis and Disc Replacement Centre at the Bombay Hospital in Mumbai.

Hunched back is a medical condition of exaggerated curving of the upper back. Typically, head and shoulders shift forward, the chest curls inwards and the spine crunches from a healthy ‘S’ curve to a less healthy ‘C’ position as the pelvis tilts forward.

“Though associated with old age, hunchback is a condition commonly seen among the youngsters these days, especially those between 9-18 years old. The main cause is weak abdominal muscles from years of sitting in a hunched position. This places uneven pressure on the discs, the cushioning pads between the bones of the lower back, causing them to become compressed and painful,” said Kulkarni.

Hyperkyphosis or excessive curvature of thoracic spine is more common among hunchbacks if not treated on time.

“Many people with hyperkyphosis suffer from shortness of breath and other breathing issues. It may also cause anxiety and depression, increased risk of cardiovascular or lung disease and Type 2 diabetes,” said Kulkarni.

Talking about the treatment, orthopaedician Ronit Singh of Safdarjung Hospital said: “With children and youth, it’s important that they learn the correct way to sit, especially when using computers, mobile phones and tablets.”

“For the youth and the elderly, exercises like stretching etc often help improve the spine flexibility. Youngsters can emphasise on strengthening abdominal muscles as it helps improve posture. Practicing yoga is considered beneficial for good body posture. Yoga also helps in improving balance; strengthening the core muscles and helping you maintain a proper body alignment,” he said.

He said that surgical procedures are recommended and done only if the spine curvature is exaggerated and if it is pinching the spinal cord or the nerve roots.

“Surgery helps in reducing hunchback curvature. The most common procedure is spinal fusion where two or more affected vertebrae are permanently connected. Understanding the importance of good posture at a very early age is essential to maintain a healthy mind and body,” he said.


This NGO in Madhya Pradesh is trying to rescue kids from the clutches of bonded labour

According to the 2011 census, India has 4.35 million child labourers. Of these, about 3,50,000 are bonded labourers. “The government does not want to recognise these kids as bonded labourers and give them that certificate. This will not support the narrative of a ‘Shining India’,” says Ajay Pandit, who founded Synergy Sansthan with his friends in 2006. Located in Madhya Pradesh, this non-governmental organisation is trying to rescue kids in Harda district from the clutches of bonded labour. Ajay says that these are adivasi and dalit kids from the area who are coerced into working for farmers, at construction sites or brick-making factories in exchange for some food grains or money. Even their parents are given money to allow this. Owing to the abject poverty these families suffer from, the employers justify themselves saying that at least they provide them with food and accommodation. With their parents, they don’t know where their next meal is coming from.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In due time, these girls and boys, who start working as soon as they turn 7 or 8 years old lose all their aspirations and even forget to dream. Their life is limited to taking orders from their masters. Though the government does provide some money in cases where the kids are identified, Ajay wonders how that would compensate for their lost childhood.With the money raised on Ketto, Synergy Sansthan is working towards creating a model to rehabilitate these kids after rescuing them. They want to build a community college that works on their skill enhancement. Providing them assistance to pursue entrepreneurship and help with the acquisition of jobs to ensure sustainable livelihood is also Synergy Sansthan’s modus operandi. “We want to start working on their dreams through the journey of ‘self to society’. We want to awaken their spirit,” shares the 32-year-old Ajay. To help similar causes, log on to Ketto – a platform to raise funds for social, personal and creative causes.

RSS flip-flop on homosexuality indicates gay men in India remain in exile, writes Ashok Row Kavi

By Ashok Row Kavi

The Times of India headline stopped quite a few heartbeats on both sides of the political spectrum on 18 March. The article reported the RSS’ joint general-secretary Dattareya Hosabale as having said: “(homosexuality) is not a crime as long as it does not affect the lives of others. Sexual preferences are personal issues”. The right-wingers were left wringing their hands at this downfall of a citadel of conservative Hinduism whereas on the Left, opinions varied wildly.

Some thought “good sense was dawning” while my friend Meena Seshu, who runs a prostitutes union in Sangli, sniggered that the “bubble would burst”, chortling with glee when a half-hearted turn-around was attempted by Hosabele. It was as if she were exercising her prophetic powers not knowing that advocacy by gay groups was working in fits and starts.

Quite a few of these great “activists” — actually cabals driven by agendas that are not the least bit ‘revolutionary’ — have worked among themselves with Hindu-hate as the main pillar of their work. Few understood that activism means not working with the converted but trying to bring about a change of heart in the conservative camps. It was intriguing to see during the Delhi Pride Parade last year, an activist carrying a banner proclaiming “”Homos hate BJP” not seeing the irony in how this was an antithesis to the “inclusivity” doctrine they shout from the rooftops otherwise. Besides openly propagating “hate”, a word they impute so easily to Hindutva groups.

The fact is that hundreds of self-help groups of sexual minorities have been working ceaselessly since the overturning of the Delhi High Court judgment by the Supreme Court in November 2013 to change attitudes and sensitise hitherto stubborn populations on sex, sexuality and gender issues with simple narratives and what can be called “jan-soonwayis” (public hearings).

IS the RSS really trying to re-invent its image? Representational image. AFP

IS the RSS really trying to re-invent its image? Representational image. AFP

One such jansoonwayi was held by a large group of young homosexuals, bisexuals and transgendered youth called Yaariyan in Mumbai last year titled as an “acceptance meet”. This youth group of sexual minorities has over a 1,000 youngsters from sexual minorities and forms part of the bigger network called the Integrated Network of Sexual Minorities (INFOSEM) whose membership is now well over 200 community-based groups of homosexuals, bisexual women, hijras and transmen (female to male transgenders).

What Yaariyan did was to specifically invite the city BJP chief Ashish Shelar as chief guest along with the Yogesh Pratap Singh, the retired cop, to the jan-soonwayi, to engage with lawyers, sexual counsellors and scores of parents, office and hostel mates of those belonging to the LGBT community. The meeting was explosive in the sense that Shelar tweeted that he was now against Section 377 and it needed to be “immediately removed”.

Singh was so outraged by the cases of extortion, blackmail and sexual violence by the police that he asked LGBT members and NGOs to file cases against such police personnel.

This is just one example of what LGBT groups have been doing throughout the country and the battle for sexual and gender rights has been taken right into the camp of the Sangh. In rural Madurai, for example, a young inter-sexed Hindu ex-monk Gopi Shankar, has been working with Hindu religious leaders, BJP and RSS leaders to sensitise them on issues of sexuality and gender. His books were released last year by Vanathi Srinivasan, of the Tamil Nadu BJP.

On 6 March this year, Shankar’s organisation, Shrishti, launched its website in the presence of the central minister Pon Radhakrishnan and scores of RSS volunteers. In both Delhi and Kolkata, INFOSEM members have been getting in touch with Sangh leaders to reach out to the shakhas and sensitise them to sex, sexuality and gender issues.

Akkai Padmashali, the brilliant transgendered communicator from Bangalore, has been reaching out to all Lok Sabha MPs in an effort to explain the issues of LGBT and there has been little resentment to her efforts in Delhi last year as she and her delegation from Karnataka reached out to each party MP across the political spectrum.

Yet what saddens me is the low level of discussion on the transgender bill that followed the NALSA judgement offering a revolutionary new venture to free Male to Female (M2F) transgender, of whom hijras/aravani/kinnar are a visible segment, of stigma and discrimination. Hijras were called a “sacred third gender” and valourised as important augments of society even though they were reviled and marginalised in public and private spaces. Though the NALSA judgment called for affirmative action by reservations and special privileges for this highly visible sexual minority, precious little ground has been covered through any kind of government action. The Transgender Welfare Boards that came up in Tamil Nadu and announced in Maharashtra have hardly taken off the ground and remain paper dreams.

However, the real tragedy is the visible exile of gay men even as they await the announcement of the five member constitutional bench that is to hear the curative petition admitted a month ago. Though there is legislative recognition and acceptance of transgender/hijra issues, the effort seems vto be to push gay men’s issues deep into the societal matrix as a “sexual preference”, a wilful “choice” of a sexual behaviour that deserves to be corrected. The statement of Zeenat Shaukat Ali, the reformer Islamist scholar comes to mind: “However reformist and progressive Islamist jurisprudence will be, Muslims will not accept homosexuality as a normative sexual orientation”. And this is despite scholars agreeing that the Prophet himself never condemned either homosexuals or transgender; with much of the condemnation coming from questionable Hadiths referencing the story of Sodom and Gomorrah from the Old Testament.

What the RSS needs to break with; and urgently so, is to recognise that homophobia is a Judeo-Christian concept that came in with the British. Despite more than 500 years of Islamist rule, not even the bigot Aurangazeb imposed laws against homosexuality. Section 377 was hatched in Britain where it came into British Criminal Law from the laws of the King James Bible. The king himself was brutally murdered for his homosexuality but that’s another story.

However, it is true that this law was imported wholesale into India by Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay who had scant regard for Hindu religion and tradition and who is reviled by the Sangh. How is it that the premier Hindu organisation is not sensitive to the fact that their homophobia can be directly attributed to a Christian law imposed surreptiously through a colonial law giver who should be contested by the Sangh?

There is no doubt that unlike the Roman Catholic Church, the largest sect in Christianity, and the Islamists in India, the Sangh has come a long way from refusing to see homosexuality as a “sin” or a “crime” to something psychologically wrong in the homosexual personality.

So my submission to the Sangh is: “You’ve come a long way. Now listen to the scientific evidence and make up your mind as true Hindus”. The World Health Organisation has removed homosexuality from its list of mental diseases over two three decades ago. The Indian Psychiatrist Association has officially given a clarion call that homosexuality is a “normal variant of human sexual behaviour”.

Except for a yoga teacher called Baba Ramdev, few Hindu religious leaders have actively campaigned in public for a defence of Section 377 so why not see the obvious and move forward? You have moved on gender issues and freed the temples for women and thus removed gender discrimination whereas no church or masjid will allow a woman to lead the congregation or even enter a mosque. Women priests are a long way off in the Catholic Church just to stress the point.

And it’s time you moved on homosexuality too.

Tamil Nadu Dalit student murder: NCSC to submit report in 2 days

A two-member team from National Commission for Scheduled Castes on Wednesday met the parents and wife of the Dalit youth who was killed by a gang in Tirupur district and said they would submit their report in two days. Research Officer and Head of Office Chandraprabha and investigator Lister from Chennai went to Shankar’s house in Kumaralingam near Udumalpet and met his father to gather details about the incident.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>They then met Kausalya, who is undergoing treatment at the government hospital here under police protection, along with senior medical officers.Later Chandraprabha told reporters that they would submit their report to the Commission in Delhi in two days. She said the father narrated the events that had occurred in the last one year after his son fell in love and married Kausalya some eight months ago.He sought protection to his family as he feared they could be attacked any time, Chandraprabha said. “Though there was no proper commitment from the boy’s family to take her back, it can be concluded that the parents were not against Kasusalya coming and staying in Kumaralingam,” she said.Kausalya said she wanted to study and try for a job and requested that somebody from her husband’s family come and stay with her in hospital in her moment of agony, Chandraprabha said. The team also visited the spot of the killing and spoke to some officials in Tirupur and Coimbatore.Shankar (22) and Kausalya (19) were attacked by a gang with sickles in full public view on Sunday in nearby Tirupur district, resulting in the death of the husband.Kausalya’s father, Chinnasamy has already surrendered before the police.

We stand with JNU students but will they stand with Gilani, asks aggrieved family

There are many, including us, who are party to the agitation against booking of JNU students in a sedition case over an event against hanging of Afzal Guru but will JNU stand for SAR Gilani who has been charged with the same offence, asks his brother Bismillah.Gilani was arrested in the wee hours of February 15, barely three days after the arrest of JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar. While six JNU students have been charged with sedition over an event on campus, Geelani is facing the charges over an event at the Press Club on the same issue. His family, however, feels the way the chorus for Kanhaiya’s release grew among students supported by academicians and others, Geelani has been given a “differential” treatment by JNU.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The event was the same, the charges are the same. Police had been claiming that they had evidence against Kanhaiya which is also under question now but no such claims of proof have been made against Geelani. But why is the public discourse silent on him, why the differential treatment,” Bismillah told PTI. “JNU is known for making everybody’s headache its own, for standing in support of many but why are they silent on Gilani. There was a massive campaign demanding Kanhaiya’s release and now the clamour has shifted to Umar and Anirban but not one is talking of Gilani,” he added.
ALSO READ Supreme Court to hear contempt plea against Kanhaiya Kumar, SAR Gilani tomorrowThe ghost of 2001Gilani, who holds a doctorate in Arabic and teaches at Zakir Hussain College (Evening) in Delhi, has been questioning Afzal Guru’s hanging ever since Delhi Police accused him of being involved in the 2001 Parliament attack and failed to win a conviction. “My brother has been teaching at DU since years but not even once the college authorities have tried to reach out to us since his arrest. When my brother was arrested in 2001, the Delhi police had projected him as the mastermind behind the Parliament attack.”Though his acquittal came as a relief to us, the two years that he spent in jail and the time after it still haunts us. He has two grown up children who have to justify to people that he is not a criminal,” he said. Bismillah, who has written a book, Manufacturing Terrorism: Kashmiri encounters with the Media and Law, where he tells his brother’s story, said, “I agree that it is important to defend students, they are future of the country but people who have been supporting JNU should not have two different approaches over the same issue.” At the Press Club event, a group had allegedly shouted slogans hailing Guru, following which the police had lodged a case under sections 124A (sedition), 120B(criminal conspiracy) and 149 (unlawful assembly) of the IPC against Gilani and other unnamed persons.The police had claimed to have registered the FIR taking suo motu cognisance of media clips of the incident. A Delhi Court had sent him to judicial custody till March 16. Though Kanhaiya Kumar walked out of Tihar last week after he was granted a bail in the case, two more students – Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya – are still in custody.Kanhaiya, after his release, has joined the ongoing movement at varsity demanding the duo’s release.

Security stabilised after Pathankot attack but needs to improve: IAF

Shillong: The security scenario in the country has stabilised after the Pathankot attack, though it is yet to improve, Air Officer Commanding in Chief of the Eastern Air Command C Harikumar said on Monday.

“Though stabilised, we have not been able to improve (our security),” Harikumar told reporters in Shillong on Monday.

“Our country has been fighting to improve security for quite sometime. We have inimical agents that are not allowing us to settle that,” he said.

Representational image. APRepresentational image. AP

Representational image. AP

The Eastern Air Command Chief said, “No other country will find so much police visible all over. Though stabilised, we have not been able to improve.”

“Post Pathankot incident and thereafter in Jammu and Kashmir, we realised that we need to have added emphasis to ensure that our bases are more secure,” Harikumar said.

“We have made SOPs, we have made a lot of decisions and a lot of brainstorming on this. We are seeing how we can involve everybody, including the state, as our outer cover to ensure that our assets are not affected,” he said.

Harikumar hosted a two-day seminar on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) aimed at synergising all state governments, army, navy, para-military forces in any emergency or disaster relief operations in the future.

In the past five years, IAF helicopters have successfully evacuated 10,868 persons from several disaster zones or flood- affected areas in the Eastern Command’s reach.

During the same time, over 1,200 hours of flying efforts have been made for such operations, defence spokesman Amit Mahajan said.

In the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations, the need to involve IAF in all four steps of disaster management – mitigation, preparation, response and recovery – by all agencies was reiterated during the seminar.

In other presentations, HADR in remote locations of the NE region, air maintenance towards the sustenance of armed forces and civilian population were also discussed, Mahajan added.


CPI(M) leader MM Mani sparks controversy, makes offensive remarks against woman principal

Causing embarrassment to CPI(M) once again, controversial senior party leader M M Mani has allegedly made offensive remarks against a woman principal of a local polytechnic and also threatened police officials, following which a case has been registered against him.Police have registered cases against Mani and three others under various sections of the IPC and Kerala Police Act for allegedly using filthy language, rioting, unlawful assembly and not taking prior permission to hold the meeting, top police sources told PTI.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mani, while addressing party workers at Cheruthony here on Saturday, had made the controversial remarks against the Principal of Painavu polytechnic, the Sub Inspector of the town and some other police personnel at the venue.”Though the principal has not filed any complaint so far, we have verified video clippings of the offensive speech after which it was decided to register the case,” the sources said.Mani was speaking at the meeting organised to protest the police action in registering cases against two SFI students of the polytechnic.Some SFI students had organised an agitation in the polytechnic some days back to express solidarity with the JNU students.However, except them, none others took part following which there were skirmishes between different groups of students, after which police registered cases against the two SFI students.To protest against this, Mani had organised a meeting in which the offending speech was made.Mani had earlier courted controversy after his speech in 2012 that CPI(M) in Idukki district in the 1980s drew up a list of rivals to be eliminated and had killed three of them.After his public utterances brought huge embarrassment to the party, he was removed as Idukki district secretary by the state committee.

Volvo to study, suggest public transport for Thane city

Though Thane has grown as a city in the past decade, with many people choosing to make it their first home, public transportation is still a huge problem. To study and suggest a suitable mode of transport for the public, the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) signed an MoU with Swedish company Volvo on Sunday under Make in India initiative.
Though Thane has grown as a city in the past decade, with many people choosing to make it their first home, public transportation is still a huge problem. To study and suggest a suitable mode of transport for the public, the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) signed an MoU with Swedish company Volvo on Sunday under Make in India initiative.Under this MoU, the company will survey the public and private transport system available in the city and recommend ways to improve it. It will also suggest ways to reduce air and noise pollution, and greenhouse gas emission among other things.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The MoU was signed at Hotel Trident in Bandra-Kurla Complex on Sunday in the presence of Sweden’s prime minister Stefan Lofven, Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, industries minister Subhash Desai, Volvo’s president and CEO Martin Lundstedt, Volvo bus corporation India’s Akash Passey, TMC commissioner Sanjeev Jaiswal and Thane mayor Sanjay More.Thane resident Sachin Nile said, “With inadequate TMT bus services, we are heavily dependent on autorickshaws, which are quite limited in number. During peak hours, we have to wait in very long queues to get one. If a reputed company like Volvo is going to plan our city’s transport, I am sure the situation will improve.”

#SeditionDebate: Rajnath is not Smriti Irani, his warning of action against JNU students is not rhetoric

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh was once a powerful student leader of Gorakhpur University in the seventies. Though this eastern district of Uttar Pradesh was the hotbed of mafias and criminals whose overweening influence on student politics in the campus was vice-like, Singh stood out as an iconic figure for challenging the stranglehold.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Reuters

Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Reuters

This political background of the Home Minister bears significance in the context of his unqualified fulmination against students of the JNU who facilitated the India-bashing event in the prestigious institute. Short of declaring a war on such student leaders who organised the event, Singh made it clear that he would see to it that those involved in anti-national activities were brought to book. Singh virtually goaded Police Commissioner BS Bassi to initiate action against student union leaders who participated or endorsed the glorification of Afzal Guru, a convict of the Parliament attack hanged by the UPA regime.

Rajnath Singh had earlier led the BJP’s youth wing known as Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) and promoted student leadership within the Sangh Parivar’s fold across the country. Though his area influence was particularly confined to eastern UP that housed one of the most prestigious Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Singh was quite cognisant of sinister facets of underground influence on student politics.

In the eighties and nineties, a dreaded warlord of Bhabua-Rohtas districts of Bihar Mohan Bind used to get safe sanctuary in BHU. In Gorakhpur, gangs owing allegiance to warlords like Harishankar Tiwari and Birendra Sahi ran students unions. So vitiated was the academic atmosphere in Uttar Pradesh that students resorted to mass-scale copying in examinations of high school and intermediate to succeed.

In 1991, when the BJP came to power in UP with Kalyan Singh as the chief minister, Singh became education minister. The first thing on his agenda was to issue an ordinance that made copying in examination as non-bailable offence. Despite much hue and cry by leaders from the Congress, socialist and Marxist stream which described the ordinance as draconian and anti-democratic, Singh stuck to his gun. The result was obvious. The success rate of students who took the exam in 1992 dropped significantly. Thousands of students, including girls, were booked on criminal charges for cheating in the examinations.

Those who think Rajnath Singh overreacted to a minor student affair in JNU are certainly oblivious to the fact that Singh is one of the rarest leaders of the BJP who has profound understanding of the Sangh Parivar’s ideological moorings. Therein lies the difference between him and a newcomer like union HRD minister Smriti Irani.

For instance in Rohith Vemula’s suiucide, Irani’s utterances were frowned upon and regarded as immature expressions not aligned to the Sangh’s ideological line. On the other hand, Singh’s unambiguous warning to the anti-national in JNU and the police action was appreciated in the entire Sangh Parivar.

There is little doubt that if one goes by the precedents, the police action in the JNU campus would prima-facie appear to be a case of overreaction. The JNU has the history of hosting events and thoughts which fall under the category of sedition. For instance, the celebration of death of CRPF personnel in Dantewada or glorification of Afzal Guru could not be described as an academic contestation of ideas. In the past, such events were ignored with the belief that they are mere aberration of a group of attention-seeking students. Given the fact that there exist several secessionist, seditious streams not only in Jammu and Kashmir or North East but also in the mainland of the country in the form of Naxalism, an event of an insignificant scale was regarded as worth of the state’s attention.

Herein a section of the JNU leadership owing allegiance to the left and radical left calculated horribly wrong. They ignored the fact that the present leadership of BJP is largely drawn from the student movement. Modi, though not a product from campus politics, was closely associated with students during the JP movement. Simiarly, M Venkaiah Naidu, Arun Jaitley and Ananth Kumar owed their political grounding to students’ movement. Most of these leaders still maintain their symbiotic relationship with campus politics. Like Rajnath Singh, they not only carry their conviction on sleeves but also nurse a “pathological aversion” to the Left and ultra-left stream which has been consistently challenging the Sangh Parivar’s ideological position in many campuses. Now, the chickens have come home to roost. For once, it would be naïve to regard Rajnath Singh’s warning of “sternest action” against JNU students’ union as rhetoric.

Jaisalmer: Security agencies on alert after man enquires about IAF

Security agencies have launched a hunt for a man who made some enquiries about the Air Force station here, police said on Saturday.The man purchased some silver items from a shop yesterday and enquired about the Indian Air Force station from the shopkeeper, they said. According to a police official, he also offered extra money to the shopkeeper.After the man left, the shopkeeper informed the police following which the footage of the CCTV cameras installed in the shop and other areas was examined, the official said. “Police got information about a suspicious man and he is being searched for on the basis of the CCTV footage,” Superintendent of Police, Jaisalmer, Rajiv Pachar said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Though the man was identified, he is yet to be traced, police said.

Kolkata hit-and-run case: Arms Act case against accused Sambia Sohrab

Kolkata Police has slapped a case under the Arms Act against Sambia Sohrab, the prime accused in the hit-and-run case in which an Air Force officer was killed.”Though there is no link to the Red Road mishap case, Sambia has been booked under the Arms Act for not renewing the license of a revolver,” a senior Kolkata Police officer said.The license for the revolver had expired in 2003 and a notice was sent to Sambia to renew it but he did not, the officer said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”In fact, the revolver is also missing … So a case under the Arms’ Act has been started against him,” he added.Sambia has been arrested by Kolkata Police for the January 13 tragedy in which he was allegedly driving the Audi broke three guard rails and killed an Air Force officer during a rehearsal of Republic Day Parade.

Kapu quota agitation: Situation turns volatile as a man in Andhra Pradesh commits suicide

It was a dark day for Andhra Pradesh on Monday, the second day of the Kapu reservation agitation that was kicked off at Tuni on Sunday.

The situation in Andhra, already reeling under the agitation, took a volatile turn when a person belonging to Kapu community committed suicide at the office of the District Collector at Kakinada on Monday.

According to the police, a 45-year-old man Ramana Murthy alias Ramu came to the Collector’s office to participate in ‘prajavani’ program where public can represent their grievances to the officials. Ramu, who belongs to Suryanarayanapuram in Kakinada, carried a suicide note in the pocket of his trousers.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The letter had a message that justice must be done to Kapu community. Suryanarayana, who hanged himself to a TV dish on the premises of the Collectorate, mentioned in his note that he had waited for long thinking that movie actor Pawan Kalyan would do something for the Kapu community. “But, what remained was my eternal waiting,” he said in his note. Though Pawan Kalyan had claimed that his was a “questioning party”, it turned out to be a party that was “out of question”.

He hoped that “Kapu Garjana” (call given by Mudragada Padmanabham) would fight for justice to the community. He was working as a diesel mechanic in Kakinada dairy farm.

Padmnabham, YSR Congress MLA Jyothula Nehru and TDP legislator B Umamamheswara Rao called on the victim’s family and promised all help.

Interestingly, Pawan Kalyan, who had toed the line of the TDP and threw his weight behind the party in the 2014 elections, made a tongue-in-cheek statement on Monday saying that justice should be done to Kapus without prejudice to the existing Backward Classes. Though he said that anti-social elements and miscreants entered the agitation and torched the train, he was not ready to hold anybody responsible for the same. He, on the other hand, advised the leaders of the protest not to let the agitation slip out of their control and appealed to them to maintain restraint, instead of provoking tempers.

Meanwhile, former Union Minister and Congress member in the Rajya Sabha megastar K Chiranjeevi addressed an open letter to Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu in which he expressed his dismay over Naidu’s attempt to blame the Opposition for the violence in the agitation. He alleged that there was no transparency in the administration in the State in the last 20 months under Naidu. He wanted a resolution to be adopted in the Assembly urging the Centre to include Kapus among BCs and forward the same to the Centre.

Leader of the Opposition in AP Assembly YS Jaganmohan Reddy launched fiorewroks on Chandrababu Naidu. He sought to know if Naidu was committed to providing reservations to Kapus at all. “The Government can enhance the quota to 69 per cent on the lines of Tamil Nadu and implement them the same way,” he said. Reddy derided the government for “attempting to shift the blame” on to the Opposition parties.

Towards the end of the day, Naidu held a long press conference and once again held the YSR Congress responsible for the violent incidents. He alleged that “miscreants” from Pulivendula, the Assembly constituency being represented by Jagan, were sent to aggravate the situation in Tuni, where the train was torched in which all of its 24 coaches were gutted.

Naidu said that he wanted to ensure reservations to Kapus by insulating the same from legal wrangles. The Chief Minister said he would order an inquiry into the violent incidents at Tuni and bring all the culprits to book. Interestingly, Naidu had no new points to add, but tried to defend the position of the Government. He sought to highlight that the Opposition was hell-bent on projecting the Government in a poor light and the State as reeling under severe law and order problems, just on the eve of International Fleet Review at Visakhapatnam (slated for February 4) in which 50 countries are taking part.

Developers owes Rs 3.5 lakh crore to banks, private money lenders

Property developers across India now owe approximately Rs 3.5 lakh crore to the country’s banks, private equity holders and money lenders, latest estimates say.Over-leveraged, and unable to cope with the psychological and financial pressures, many developers are even pressing the exit button. In Mumbai alone, in the last six months, two developers had allegedly succumbed to stress and frustration.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to Pankaj Kapoor, MD of Liases Foras, a real estate research firm, as per the RBI, going by the 2009 figures, the developers across India were having a debt of over Rs 1 lakh crore. “The amount is now over Rs 3.5 lakh crore – including the money they owe to private lenders. The over leverage is one of the key reasons that lead to financial burden,” he said.”When banks do not give loan for buying land, the developer resorts to raising the money through private money lenders and private equity. Once the project gets delayed, the cost of the project sporadically goes up and more delay adds to the problems of the developers. The private money lender then enters the picture offering loan at high interest rate,” Kapoor said.Kapoor said that most of the developers raise funds from bank to complete the construction of the project. “The glut in the market has put the developers in trouble. Developers are facing a double whammy – that of low sales and escalating project cost. Though, in order to boost the sales they should be ideally reducing the prices, they find themselves not in a position to do so. Neck deep in debt, the money lenders too will refuse them fresh loans. If they do, it will be at exorbitant interest rate, there by further complicating the situation,” explained Kapoor.A developer from Navi Mumbai disclosed to dna that when he started the project he is working on in 2005, he had a debt of Rs400 crore. “Now, it has shot up to Rs1,100 crore. Of course, I did buy a couple of other properties in between. But I have already mortgaged them. The stagnancy and glut in the market have put us in a peculiar situation. Once we are in a labyrinth situation, then it takes time to come out of it. Those psychologically strong withstand all these, the weak succumb to the pressure,” he said on the condition of anonymity.Another builder said that developers are in mad rush of acquiring and buying land. “Our community feels that there is no tomorrow to buy the land. They invest big money to acquire land in and around the city. Instead of completing the undertaken projects, they proceed to buy another land. This mad rush escalates the cost of the land. The project in that land will then turn unaffordable to the buyers, which dampens the sale,” he said adding that the developers themselves are to be blamed for the mess they are in.

Aamir Khan’s film Dangal deserves same ‘treatment’ as Shah Rukh Khan’s Dilwale: Kaliash Vijayvargiya

Superstar Aamir Khan’s ‘intolerance’ remarks continue to haunt him with a senior BJP leader on Friday suggesting “treatment” to his upcoming movie Dangal in the same way that was done to Shahrukh Khan’s ‘Dilwale’, whose business was marred by protests from Hindutva groups.BJP general secretary Kaliash Vijayvargiya hinted at teaching a lesson to Aamir by saying at a public function that “treatment to one has been done. Now it is time for the other to be treated. ‘Dangal me mangal karna hai’. You should keep this in mind…When anybody says that intolerance is rising in our society, then it makes me a little angry. Then he has to be treated. His treatment is very necessary.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Though he did not name either Shahrukh or Dilwale, his reference seemed to be aimed at him as his last movie was marred by protests at several places. Khan, too, had earlier spoken about rising intolerance in Indian, prompting the BJP leader to brand him a “traitor”, a remark he withdrew later facing public backlash.Vijayvargiya’s remarks came a day after another party general secretary, Ram Madhav, had denounced Aamir Khan’s comments on ‘intolerance’, saying he should not preach about the country’s prestige only to an auto-rickshaw driver but also his wife.

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