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Demonetization | If I was guided by electoral politics, I would never have done it: PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In his first interview post demonetization, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reflected on the concerns raised in the weeks since his surprise announcement on November 8. In an exclusive interview with India Today, Modi said, “The revenue collected will be used for the welfare of the poor, downtrodden and marginalised.”The Prime Minister said that these sections of the society were central to the government’s programmes and priorities. He rejected allegations by the opposition that the move was political, in view of the upcoming state elections. “It was a tough decision taken to clean up our economy and our society. If I were guided by short-term electoral politics, I would never have done so,” he said.Asserting the move to ban the high denomination had been welcomed by the 1.25 billion citizens of the country, the PM said that the public’s enthusiasm had not been affected by the dire predictions made by critics. “This acceptance, in my view, is even more historic than the decision itself,” he told the magazine.
ALSO READ Digi Dhan Mela: PM Modi launches BHIM app, now only thumb impression needed for secure digital transaction He also said that the absence of significant incident of unrest was not a small achievement. “At the same time, as with every other process, there is always room for improvement, and I believe that we can, and must, always improve,” he said.On the frequent changes in policy post the demonetization announcement, Modi said,”One must be able to distinguish between niti (policy) and ran-niti (strategy) and not put them in the same basket. The decision of demonetization, which reflects our niti, is unequivocally clear, unwavering and categorical. Our ran-niti, however, needed to be different, aptly summarised by the age-old saying of ‘Tu daal-daal, main paat-paat’. We must stay two steps ahead of the enemy.” He also said that the changes in policy reflected the government’s ability to respond quickly and keeping up with the evolving situation.
ALSO READ Demonetization: PM Narendra Modi slams Congress for stalling debate, openly protecting dishonestyThe Prime Minister said that the return of the money to banks meant that there was a trail for every rupee and made it easier to track sources of black money and schemes of corruption. He also said that the GST and adoption of digital payments would be critical elements of system put in place the government to curb further generation of black money. The Prime called digitisation a major reform with multiple benefits, which include cleaning up of economy, proper accounting and sizing of the formal economy, greater ease and security, building of financial records and greater tax compliance.Addressing the common man’s anger against corruption, he said that it was also imperative to find ways to root out black money in politics. “Everyone, especially our political leaders and parties, will have to recognise and accept this groundswell. The tide is fast changing. Those who don’t evolve with it and insist on sticking to their old ways will only get swept away.You can read the full interview here.

Waiting for Rahul Gandhi’s earthquake revelation, mocks BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Reacting to Congress vice-President’s ‘Modi-made disaster’ remark, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said on Sunday that Rahul Gandhi is yet to make ‘earthquake’ like revelations against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”I expected Rahul Gandhi to explode his earthquake statement in Belgaum, but I did not see any of it. Some of the Congress spokesperson were claiming on Friday that Rahul Gandhi will speak about it. What happened where is he going to explode that bomb,” BJP leader S Prakash.He said that making hollow and sensational claims is a very but it is difficult to prove them as is the case with Gandhi.”A person of his calibre should weigh every word before commenting or claiming something against the Prime Minister. Today, his reputation has been completely tarnished and his image is dented. So, he should bother about the disaster he has created for himself,” added Prakash.Yesterday at a rally in Belgaum, Karnataka, Gandhi dubbing demonetization as a “Modi-made disaster” and alleged that Prime Minister Modi would write off Rs. eight lakh crore loans of the 50 rich families who funded his election campaign from the money people have deposited in banks after the note ban.

Punit Goenka receives Business Today Best CEO award

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Punit Goenka, Managing Director and CEO of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) was awarded on Saturday the Business Today Best CEO award in the media and entertainment category for 2016.The award was presented by Minister of Law & Justice and Electronics & Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad, India Today group Chairman and Editor-in-Chief Aroon Purie and Wave Group Vice Chairman Manpreet Chadha.Accepting the prestigious award on behalf of ZEEL Chairman Dr Subhash Chandra and the Zee team, Goenka said, “We have consistently grown ahead of market, expanded our network viewership share and experienced growth of our product bouquet, both in India and internationally. As we approach our Silver Jubilee, I am confident that driven by innovation and creativity, we will move one step closer towards achieving our ambition of becoming the world’s leading media company from the emerging markets.”The other prominent recipients of the BT Best CEO Awards for the current year were Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman of Bharti Airtel, C P Gurnani, CEO & MD of Tech Mahindra and Sunil Duggal, CEO of Dabur.The methodology used for selection of the Best CEO Awards entailed an extensive study of a company’s operational performance and returns to its shareholders. This exercise was carried out by BT’s Knowledge partner PwC India. The business magazine first used the BT500 list of most valuable Indian companies as a base and then analysed three-year data, using parameters such as growth in total income, total shareholder returns and profit before interest and tax (PBIT).“Based on this analysis, an independent jury comprising renowned business leaders, Nimesh Kampani, Founder and Chairman, JM Financial Group; Kalpana Morparia, CEO of JP Morgan India; Haigreve Khaitan, Senior Partner, Khaitan & Co; and Sri Rajan, Chairman, Bain & Co. India. then chose the final winners for this year,” said the statement issued by the ZEEL.The company reported a 21.76 per cent increase in its consolidated net profit at Rs 216.96 crore for the quarter ended June 30 compared to net profit of Rs 178.18 crore in the same period of previous fiscal.

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

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

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

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

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

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

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

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

More details are awaited.

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

The drug mayhem: Is Mumbai next?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The film Udta Punjab, which received mixed reactions, exposed the extent of drug abuse in Punjab. According to research conducted by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCB) in 2014, there were 14,274 cases reported in Mumbai, as compared to 14,483 cases in Punjab. There are more than 500 de-addiction centres in India nursing users back to health is one thing, but speak to a few others and they will tell you how deep this problem is and why it may never go away.Afiz* is 28-years old and works in a call centre in Mumbai. He gave up studying in class 11 and was introduced to drugs by a group of girls at a party. “At 16, I was introduced to weed, soon I explored chemical drugs and began to score for myself. Having done ganja, cocaine and acid (LSD), charas (cannabis) is my favourite and I do it every day.”Drug addiction is not gender relative. Jane* is an 18-year-old, who in school was introduced to chemical drugs, says, “I was 14 then and peddlers were easily available. I do meth (Methamphetamine) regularly. It’s in a crystal form and one has to crush it into a powder and snort it. I have never regretted doing drugs and hope to never visit a de-addiction centre,” she says.Just as one cannot do business without understanding its network, Ashok*, a 24-year-old former drug peddler, claims to have a thorough understanding of the peddling network in Mumbai. Having started with chemical drugs at the age of 13, he has tried most of the varieties. “I have done LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide), Hash (MD5), OMG (a form of weed), MCAT (meow-meow), crystal meth, opium, and charas. I peddled for a few years where I would buy maal (meth and charas) for Rs 7,000 a tola (ten grams) and sell it for over Rs 25,000 in one day. My customers ranged from young teenagers to married men of 50 and 60 years. Today every age group is hooked.”Describing it as the perfect business until he was caught, he adds, “Five years ago no one knew what meth was, and a few of us were selling it. At the time people were jealous of the money I made and alerted the police. I was thrashed for three days and paid two and a half lakhs to get out.”The drug routeColleges and bars where the young hang out are vantage point for peddlers, who find Mumbai’s youth a vulnerable and easy target. Groups of users we spoke to told us that each drug is treated and smuggled differently.Meth is sourced from Gujarat and charas from Manali and Kashmir. A minimum of three middlemen are involved before the drug is passed on to small peddlers. “You can get these drugs everywhere, from street children to selected paan shops, one just needs to have a contact number. Call and fix up a meeting place for exchange,” says Ashok, holding out a black substance in his palm. “This is some of the best charas you will get around here,” he says confidently, to a largely startled group that wasn’t expecting any ‘substance’ during the interview. The education continues. “If it smells sweet and fresh, then it’s a good buy. There are college students peddling for the extra money, but fail to choose their stuff (drugs) wisely, nevertheless it gets sold.”Drug abuse in MaharashtraThough an earnest attempt has been made to curtail peddling in the city, the numbers are not very impressive. Mumbai Police along with the Anti-Narcotics Cell have caught 191 persons in the possession of illegal drugs, 159 cases have been registered and 13,297 persons have been caught consuming these drugs in Maharastra in 2016. Also, records with the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment show 43,180 persons have checked in for de-addiction treatment in Maharashtra since 2007. “Drug addiction is definitely rising,”’ says Yusuf Merchant, one of India’s leading anti-drug crusaders who has been in the field for over two decades. This year, he says, 700 teenagers enrolled for de-addiction at his centre. “Hooked on to new party drugs such as MCAT also known as “meow-meow” along with many others, 90% of my patients are from the age group of 16-21 years,” he says.Fr Joseph H. Pereira, founder of Kripa, a well-known de-addiction centre in Maharashtra, with branches in other parts of India as well, expresses discontent with the success rate of de-addiction. “We used to have a success rate of 60%, however owing to different forms of drugs today, a patient is unable to resist, and gets hooked to alcoholism or cannabis known as soft drugs.” Our society is not ready to deal with the reality of drug abuse, says Dr. Merchant. A drug addict is looked at as a criminal rather than a patient who is in need of treatment. There is a stigma attached to seeking help for de-addiction. Today one does not need to be a smoker, he can just snort the drug, he says. “But whatever method one chooses, the disconnect with the family and influence from peers are the prime reasons of why a person becomes an addict,” he adds. Failed by our disciplinary systemsIn the deep suburbs of Mumbai is Deepak*, a student from Mira Road who earlier used drugs and then peddled for a while. He talks about the unholy nexus between the police and peddlers. “When a peddler is caught, the police are aware of how the business is doing, accordingly they take their cut,” he says. Another tactic employed is to round up the users and extort money from them rather than from the peddlers. A user recounts the time when he was caught doing weed and was caught by the cops. “The peddler was right there with us, but I was the only one arrested. He demanded Rs 5,000 from me. I didn’t have it on me, but had to call my friend to release me on this bail.” The next morning, the same cop and the peddler who sold it to me were seen hanging out together,’’ he adds. Authorities point out that this is very common, and attacking the symptom rather than the malaise itself will make little headway in correcting the problem.Not all is lostDe-addiction centres now say that the chances of relapse have moved as high as 60%. For the few who have managed to stay in the 40 %, it is like walking on thin ice. “When I look at life, I consider myself fortunate to be given a second chance,” says 23-year-old Mahesh*. He was addicted to chemical drugs at the age of 18 and spent seven months in a de-addiction centre. Today, he is a writer and director with prominent shows like Savdhan India, Crime Patrol and Gumrah. “Although my experience with drugs has helped me write better and bring out true characters, I would not wish it for anybody.” Having been off drugs, he is one of the many examples of a success story as to what may seem like an indefinite problem. Looking aheadThe problem is not the lack of recreational spaces, but the misuse of these very spaces for illegal activities. Fr Joe says that religion as a whole has failed to impart moral values among youth and there is a need for the right kind of awareness. While numerous organizations engage in the awareness of drug abuse, just this won’t suffice. “After a person is made aware of drugs and addiction, instead of resisting it, s/he may be tempted to try it out. I have put together a group of ‘stars’, the ones free from alcohol and drugs for a period of one year and over, from well-lived sober lives. We ask them to testify and be examples while conducting any kind of awareness program,” he says. This not only makes a person aware of drug abuse as a problem but works as an example of how not to get it wrong. *Names changed on request of anonymity

The women scientists who took India into space

The BBC meets three Indian female scientists who prove that rocket science is not a male preserve.

PM Modi’s demonetization directives are like Tughlaq’s orders: Shobha Oza

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress leader Shobha Oza dubbed as “Tughlaq like” some of the orders issued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the wake of demonetization decision. “For last one month we have seen several new Tughlaq ke farman from the Prime Minister. First they (government) said you can exchange upto Rs 4,000, which was later changed to Rs 4,500 and then Rs 2,000. At the end of the day it is the common man, farmer, students, housewives who are suffering,” All India Mahila Congress President Oza told reporters on Saturday.”It is their hard earned money which has nothing to do with black money. Today to withdraw their own money, people have to stand in queue for hours. More than 100 people have died in the queues. In the entire world nowhere any person has been stopped from withdrawing his own money,” she said.Taking a jibe at the Prime Minister, Oza said “If anyone forgets to read a newspaper for a day, he will not know what new farman (directive) has been issued by the government.” “Nation is facing the side effects of ill-preparedness of the central government as far as demonetization is concerned,” the Congress leader said.”We all know while addressing the nation, Prime Minister talked about curtailing black money, solving the problem of fake currency and funding to terrorists,” she said, adding, “Later government changed their stand and they said that they want to go for cashless economy.” As far as cashless economy is concerned we all know 40% of the population does not even have bank account,” Oza added.She alleged, “During last two-and-half years, Central government has not arrested even two-and-half people who are involved in generation of black money. Those who are involved in black money and named in Panama papers are friends of this government who have helped them during election.”

Time magazine names U.S. President-elect Trump Person of the Year | Reuters

WASHINGTON Time Magazine named U.S. President-elect Donald Trump its person of the year on Wednesday, citing the upheaval in American politics brought about by the New York businessman’s election campaign and victory.”It’s hard to measure the scale of his disruption,” Time said in its announcement, noting Trump’s career as real estate magnate and reality television star before he won the presidency on Nov. 8.The Republican president-elect, who will be sworn in on Jan. 20, ran an unconventional and controversial campaign against Democrat Hillary Clinton. Time noted that views of him were deeply divided.”For those who believe this is all for the better, Trump’s victory represents a long-overdue rebuke to an entrenched and arrogant governing class,” the magazine said.”For those who see it as for the worse, the destruction extends to cherished norms of civility and discourse, a politics poisoned by vile streams of racism, sexism, nativism.”

The magazine said its short list for person of the year included Clinton, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and singer Beyonce.”It’s a great honor, it means a lot,” Trump told NBC’s “Today” show in an interview shortly after the announcement.

But he rejected Time’s characterization of the country as fractured. The magazine’s cover called him the “president of the divided states of America.””I didn’t divide them, they’re divided now,” he told NBC. “We’re going to put it back together.” He added: “I think putting ‘divided’ is snarky.”

Time makes its annual choice based on the impact a person has on world events, for better or for worse. Last year the magazine chose German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Previous winners have ranged from Mahatma Gandhi to Adolf Hitler. (Reporting by Susan Heavey, Doina Chiacu and Bill Trott; Editing by Alden Bentley and Frances Kerry)

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

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 20:41 IST

Why is Bangalore stuck in traffic jams?

The hot topic of conversation in India’s Bangalore city these days is the unending traffic jams.

AIADMK MLAs summoned to Apollo hospital to decide on successor, Panneerselvam front runner

AIADMK MLAs summoned to Apollo hospital to decide on successor, Panneerselvam front runner

Chennai: AIADMK legislators gathered at the Apollo Hospitals here amid speculation that the party was looking at a successor to Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.

“We have been asked to wait till further information,” an AIADMK lawmaker who did not want to be identified by name told IANS from the hospital.

The legislators have assembled inside a hall in the Apollo complex.

The hospital said on Monday that Jayalalithaa, who suffered a cardiac arrest on Sunday evening, was in very critical condition and was on life support system.

Meanwhile, CNN-News18 has reported that MLAs have been asked to sign a declaration supporting TN Finance Minister O Panneerselvam as Jayalalithaa’s successor. India Today too echoed the same reporting that senior AIADMK leaders at the hospital.

With inputs from IANS

First Published On : Dec 5, 2016 15:32 IST

If GST not rolled out by Sept, there won’t be taxation in country, warns Jaitley

New Delhi – Citing constitutional compulsion, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today sought to drive home the point that the Goods and Services Tax has to roll out before September 16 next year as the existing indirect taxes will come to an end by then and it would not be possible to run the country without revenue collection.

He made a pitch for widening the tax base, saying efforts are on to make taxation process far simpler and make rates more reasonable.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Reuters file photoFinance Minister Arun Jaitley. Reuters file photo

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Reuters file photo

For instance, he said, the GST Council is deliberating on ways to reduce the taxation process, including assessment by tax officials.

“Today, each person gets assessed thrice, in each of the three taxations (including VAT and central excise). Now, you will only be assessed once and what one authority assesses, others will have to accept that assessment,” he said.

Terming GST as a game changer, Jaitley said: “The Constitution does not permit delay in GST implementation. The government notified GST on 16 September and the constitutional amendment itself says the current indirect tax system can continue for one year, after which the GST has to come.”

So, if as on 16 September 2017, there is no GST, then there is no taxation in the country, he reasoned.

“So, you have a constitutional compulsion to have a Goods and Services Tax in place before September 16 (2017), otherwise the country doesn’t run, and the tax is absolutely essential. Therefore, our intention is it gets implemented from April 1, 2017, that was the original intention,” he said.

Jaitley made the point that states should not oppose every reform for the sake of opposition because that makes investors wary.

“The states must welcome the decision and I can only tell you, if some states are seen as opposing every reform, then investors in the country and the ones coming from outside, must decide which are the states they want to invest in,” he cautioned.

“So, if your state is seen on the wrong side of the reform, then investors are going to be very wary of those states.

First Published On : Dec 3, 2016 10:26 IST

Thriving on raw eggs, world’s oldest person marks 117th birthday in Italy | Reuters

By Reuters Staff

VERBANIA, Italy Emma Morano, thought to be the world’s oldest person and the last to be born in the 1800s, celebrated her 117th birthday on Tuesday, still swearing by her diet of two raw eggs a day.Morano was born in November 1899, four years before the Wright brothers first took to the air. Her life has spanned three centuries, two World Wars and over 90 Italian governments.Friends, neighbors and her doctor gathered in her small apartment in the northern town of Verbania, on the shores of Lake Maggiore, to mark the latest milestone, presenting her with a large white birthday cake.

“My life wasn’t so nice,” she told Reuters TV as she sat in an armchair by her window, a white shawl over her shoulders. “I worked in a factory until I was 65, then that was that.”In an interview with La Stampa newspaper five years ago she said her fiance had died in World War One and that she had then been forced to marry a man she did not love.

“‘Either you agree to marry me or I will kill you’,” Morano said, recalling his proposal. “I was 26. We got married.”It was not a happy marriage. They had a boy in 1937, but the baby died after just six months and the following year Morano kicked out her abusive husband. “I separated from him in 1938. I think I was one of the first in Italy to do that.”

Morano lives alone and has outlived all her eight brothers and sisters, including one who died at 102. She has thrived despite an unorthodox, unbalanced diet. “When I first knew her she used to eat three eggs a day. Two raw, and one fried. Today she has slowed down a bit, reducing the number to two some days because she says three can be too much,” her doctor Carlo Bava told Reuters TV. “She has never eaten much fruit or vegetables. Her characteristic is that she always eats the same thing, every day, every week, every month and every year.”

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

First Published On : Nov 29, 2016 21:26 IST

Health Minister JP Nadda pledges his organs, ministry to come out with organ donation rules

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Terming organ donation “an egalitarian and a moral act”, Health Minister JP Nadda on Sunday said the government will come out with rules, regulations and protocols for facilitating organ donation as he pitched for making it a national movement and pledge his own.Expressing concern over the present rate of organ donation and transplantation not being close to the requirement in the country, he said organs were national resource and not even one should be wasted. “Donating organs is a gift and is an altruistic, egalitarian and a moral act. We can turn the ‘end of a life’ into a new beginning with donating our organs. Let organ donation become a national movement and show to the world that even in death we care for our fellow citizens and humanity at large. Organ is a national resource and not even one should be wasted,” Nadda said.He along with officers, staffers, doctors, nurses and other paramedical staff members of all central government hospitals of the national capital pledged to donate his organs. Also present were participants from the Walkathon that took place at the India Gate on Sunday to create and enhance awareness surrounding organ donation, an official statement said. “The Ministry is presently framing rules, regulations and protocols for facilitating organ donation. There are about 1.5 lakh brain deaths happening in the country every year, and organs from them can be used for saving lives of several lakh patients. It is a matter of concern that the current organ donation and transplantation rate is not close to the requirement within the country for organs. We have started taking decisive steps for harvesting cadaver organs and tissues and saving many lives a result of this,” Nadda said.Health Ministry is implementing the National Organ Transplant Programme with a view to promote organ donation from deceased persons and increase the availability of organs for transplantation. The Minister said a number of activities have already commenced a part of the programme and the state governments have been sensitised about the need to have systems in place to improve awareness in this regard.Later, in a series of tweets, Nadda said “Administered Pledge for #OrganDonation to encourage people to participate in this noble cause. It is indeed a special year for @MoHFW_INDIA since it has organised several activities to propagate the message of donation”. “NOTTO had 10,000 pledges till June 2016. Today we have about 1,00,000. I appreciate the effort & fix a target of 20,00,000 by next year,” he tweeted.

Narendra Modi has finished India’s economy and growth, says Mamata Banerjee

New Delhi: In a stinging attack on the Prime Minister, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday said his ‘Mann ki Baat’ radio programme was a “misuse” of the government machinery as it has now become ‘Modi ki Baat’.

File photo of Mamata Banerjee. PTIFile photo of Mamata Banerjee. PTI

File photo of Mamata Banerjee. PTI

“Modiji, you have finished India’s economy and growth. We don’t trust you or your mismatched wrong technology which you are advertising for. We want technology and progress. But no section of society is to be left out and tortured while doing this [demonetisation],” Banerjee said in a statement.

Observing that “‘Mann ki Baat’ has now become ‘Modi ki Baat’, she said the Prime Minister was “misusing government machinery. Instead of finding solutions to the suffering and pain of millions of people, he is doing personal vendetta, personal publicity and business.”

“The women of our country will give you a befitting reply. They are the mothers of India. They are the mothers of all, Mr Today’s PM,” the Trinamool Congress chief said.

In his ‘Mann ki Baat’ address on Sunday, the Prime Minister warned unscrupulous elements not to play with the lives of the poor by depositing illegal money into their accounts as stringent law against ‘benami’ transactions were in place to deal with them.

First Published On : Nov 27, 2016 15:59 IST

Judges appointment row: CJI TS Thakur lambasts Centre, says ‘courts lying vacant without judges’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking on the Centre for sitting over appointments of High Court judges, Chief Justice of India TS Thakur on Saturday asserted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government’s attitude was lackadaisical from the very issue of filling vacancies to providing adequate infrastructure.Stating that there are 500 judges’ posts lying vacant in High Courts, Thakur said that courtrooms are lying vacant without judges. He further said that in principle, the judiciary was not against the formation of Tribunals because it would relieve court duties, but the problem arose from the lack of adequate infrastructure provided to the Tribunals.”Tribunals are not equipped and are lying empty. Today a situation has come that when no retired Supreme Court judge wants to head the Tribunal. I am pained to send my retired colleagues there. Government is not ready to give proper facilities. Vacancy apart from infrastructure is a major concern for the Tribunal,” Thakur said.The Centre and the top court have been at war since the Supreme Court struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, which was brought in to end more than 20-year-old practice of judges appointing judges under the collegium system, with government having no say in the process. Earlier, the Centre had conveyed to Supreme Court that it had returned to the collegium or its reconsideration of 43 of the 77 names recommended for the appointment of judges in various High Courts and that the remaining 34 have been appointed as judges.On October 28, the apex court had lashed out at the NDA government for failing to appoint judges in various High Courts despite the collegium clearing some of the names more than nine months ago, in which a livid Thakur told Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi, “You can as well close down the courts. Close down justice”.”Today we have a situation where courtrooms are locked because there are no judges. For example, Karnataka where one floor is shut. Why don’t you lock the courts and lock out justice”. Executive inaction is decimating the institution,” the CJI had said.Addressing a joint conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of High Courts earlier in April, Justice Thakur had made an emotional plea to the government to help upgrade judicial infrastructure and start addressing the glaring problem of shortage of judges.The CJI broke down in front of the Prime Minister and said in a choked voice that he regretted ‘inaction’ on the government’s part in strengthening judicial infrastructure and increasing the judge-population ratio to tackle the ?avalanche? of cases.

Time to clean up ‘bad money’ in cinema: Naidu at IFFI

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu called for cleaning of “bad money” from all spheres of life, including cinema.”I understand there will be bad money everywhere… In every part of the society, in politics, in public life and even in cinema. We need to get rid of it so that we can have peaceful life and we can have a progressive future,” he said addressing the inaugural function of International Film Festival of India (IFFI).”This cleansing set in motion by Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) should add good to the film industry also. I am happy that the first people to welcome the move of the Prime Minister are from the cinema industry. They have welcomed it,” Venkaiah added.Calling the demonetisation move a success, he said the money has to be white so one can really sleep well. “But today you have seen the position, some people are not able to sleep or weep publicly because they have lot of unaccounted money, so cleaning of India is going on,” said the Minister.On November 8, Modi had announced the decision to demonetise Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes.Naidu said the campaign which is going on is not about the Prime Minister but about ‘Making of Developed India’. “There is a campaign going on in the country for Modi not Narendra Modi. Modi means ‘Making of Developed India’, that is a campaign going on. Join the campaign, set good examples, create role models,” Venkaiah said.”Today time has come for younger generation to come forward and create the creativity with more meaning with a message, with a proper understanding of solution for problems,” added the Minister.

Demonetisation: Narendra Modi can shore up his popularity in these five steps

In the alpha-male club of unabashed nationalists now ruling the world, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is said to be the cleverest. The cleverest politician that is (no prizes for guessing who’s the dumbest).

Vladimir Putin has never had to win a free and fair election, Recip Erdogan is fast losing his democratic credentials with his ruthless suppression of all critics while Donald Trump is still a work in progress. But Narendra Modi, despite his dubious track record, could sell himself, unlike his American fanboy, as a messiah of hope rather than a symbol of fear and hatred.

Suddenly, flattering words from the world’s richest man notwithstanding, Modi’s smarts are being called into question and all because of a “bold, decisive” declaration that is wholly in character with his intrepid, strong-man image. This is what he is admired for, this is what he was voted in for, this is how he is delivering.

Yet, even his most devout bhakts are finding it difficult to explain away the unravelling of the whole demonetisation exercise into a muddle of ill-thought-out, un-planned, amateurish incompetence that is calling into question not just the execution but even the justification for the shock therapy itself.

In sum, a looming political disaster. Not at all what was scripted. Politics underpinned the whole exercise from the word go. Black money could have been targeted by an administrative procedure too. Then there would have been no need for the Prime Minister to come on prime time television to make the announcement that midnight would turn 500- and 1000-rupee notes into pumpkins; a directive from the Reserve Bank of India Governor would have sufficed.

But Narendra Modi would not be the world’s canniest politician if he had left such a mega headline-grabber to a mere bureaucrat. A personal message from him not only drove home the enormity of the scheme but also highlighted his daring and his commitment to his promises.

Only, now it has left him, and him alone, holding the bag. For a party that cannot even express full-throated sympathy for the sufferings wrought by demonetisation until the Prime Minister returned from Japan and gave them the cue, this is calamity indeed.

So, some quick fixes are inevitable. Even essential. Here are five steps the Prime Minister may take to shore up his popularity among the waverers.

People queuing up outisde ATM in Allahabad. PTI

People queuing up outisde ATM in Allahabad. PTI

Find a scapegoat

The hunt for a scapegoat is already on. Or so it would appear, from the way some loyalists have been pointing fingers. Well, heads do roll after a fiasco (think Volkswagen currently). But in this case it’s not that easy.

Many, even the Opposition (save Mamata Banerjee and a few economists who will dutifully be dismissed as left-wing), concede that the fault is not so much in the policy of demonetisation itself as in its execution. And the litany of failures, from the shortage of 100-rupee notes to the delay in the printing of 500-rupee notes, the uselessness and ugliness of the brand new 2000-rupee note, the unpreparedness vis-à-vis ATMs, the chopping and changing of orders every second day, is quite mind-boggling.

Obviously, the Prime Minister is above all this. His is the big picture, but the devil is always in the details. And there are several who dealt with the details.

People are already looking askance at the Governor of the RBI as it is his brief to keep track of the country’s money supply, match the demand with the supply of notes, arrange for their printing, etc. It seems someone in his team made a huge miscalculation, the note count went all awry, the banks ran dry.

But how can Urjit Patel be the fall guy? Not after the way the government patted itself on the back for having found a low-profile, tongue-tied governor to replace the media-savvy, articulate Raghuram Rajan. That would be eating crow and this government has no taste for that.

Subramanian Swamy of course has wasted no time targeting his pet hate, his own party’s finance minister. It would, without doubt, be as big a bang as the project itself if Modi sacrificed the suave Arun Jaitley at the altar of public sentiment but Dr Swamy is sure to be disappointed again.

True, Arun Jaitley’s uncharacteristic reticence in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday did elicit quips from Opposition leaders. The finance minister had also floundered at press conferences, turning frequently to his minions for answers on, say, how many times a person could exchange old notes (“unlimited” – only to be superseded a couple of days later with the one-time inking decision).

Still, his emphatic denial of any possibility of a rollback and his insistence that the execution was flawless, “it couldn’t have been done better,” he told The Economic Times, dispels any notion that Jaitley is going anywhere from the South Block.

There are of course bureaucrats in his ministry, led by finance secretary Ashok Lavasa and revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia, who have been slaving away on this project for the last ten months at least but axing such faceless entities will serve no political purpose. Except, maybe, one. Namely, economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das, now a familiar face and a household name across the country.

On the 8th, explaining the modus operandi after the Prime Minister’s bombshell, Das had looked ebullient and enthusiastic. Today, after continuously contradicting his own earlier pronouncements day after day, he looks grey and hunted. February can’t come soon enough for him, when he is scheduled to retire. Unless… A scapegoat is vital for the greater good.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Reuters

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Reuters

More whizz and bang

The security guard in my building was grinning from ear to ear. Why? He had already exchanged his big notes, I knew. Then? Well, there’s this private nursing home owned by a doctor near his house on the outskirts of the city. They’d raided the doc two days ago and found a crore of rupees under his bed. The doctor, the guard informed me gleefully, was now a patient in his own hospital.

It doesn’t take much to appease the masses. Raid some big guns, name and shame them, hold them up as examples of the government’s implacable resolve to level the playing field and the deaths and privations and standing in endless queues will be distant memories.

Of course, it has to be really big guns, at least a few of those said to be close to the powers that be have to be caught in the dragnet. Whether they are as expendable to the Prime Minister as the BJP’s core constituency of small traders we shall soon find out. But hope is eternal.

The Prime Minister has already promised (or threatened) that demonetisation was only the beginning, more fireworks are on the cards. Well, they’d better not be limited to tame measures like tax reforms, interest rate reduction, making PAN cards mandatory for jewellery and real estate purchases and suchlike, not if he wants to really light a fire under his people.

Of course, schadenfreude is hardly the basis for a well-adjusted society but no one can accuse Narendra Modi of caring overmuch for brotherly love and goodwill between communities.

Everything is what you make of it, even yourself

Joseph Goebbels had also said, “Today there seems to be only one absolute thing: relativism.”

However much we elites may cringe at Modi mobilising his 96-year-old mother in the service of his pet project, or “the greater good” as the bhakts would have it, it only underlines the huge gap that separates people like us from Modi’s support base. Modi knows what he is about. He has, they say, an unerring finger on the pulse of the masses and his recent speeches seem to reflect just that.

His hyperbole knows no bounds when the situation calls for it. Remember his, kill me before you lay a hand on my dalit brothers speech to gau rakshaks after letting them run riot for months. Now he warns his flock that his very life may be imperilled by his cleansing mission.

Irony is dead, so he had no inhibition in declaring he was completing Nehru’s unfinished task with his drive against black money. Sarcasm, the lowest form of wit, is in so he could gloat there was a wedding in the family but only 4000 rupees in hand or that “Those involved in corruption had to stand in line for Rs 4,000.”

The people roared in approval. But difficult days lie ahead. As people in rural areas realise what has hit them, as businesses, especially small businesses even in urban areas, plummet, as savings are lost and lives ruined, people may begin to question and turn.

That is when the floodgates to more emotional speeches will be opened. With elections round the corner there’ll be occasion enough. And the masses may truly end up forgetting the birthpangs of a corruption-free India, as Modi’s men are repeating ad infinitum.

It’s not just that the public’s memory is proverbially short. People want to believe the Prime Minister. The initial reaction to his announcement on November 8 night had been truly electric. Economists may quibble about its benefits but to ordinary people it was a great equaliser. The rich couldn’t buy their way out of this one, they snickered.

Even the fact that there hasn’t been any rioting on the streets or major unrest is seen by government apologists as a sign of the public’s widespread support for the Prime Minister’s grand scheme.

Of course, achhe din will have to materialise soon for people to keep their faith. Else, hell hath no fury as a public betrayed.

Woo back his core constituency

“What we are witnessing is something quite fascinating – the ability of an elected leader to use his mandate to look beyond sectional interests and address the national interest,” gushed Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta in the Times of India for the Prime Minister cutting loose the BJP’s traditional support base of small traders and businessmen who deal mainly in cash.

But can Modi really be so cavalier towards such loyal supporters? Especially when GST is poised to hurt them even more.

Some say this’ll help him widen his support base but that comes with a big if. No, Modi will not dump his faithfuls so cruelly. What he has taken away with one hand he’ll make up with another. Silent, below the radar operations that’ll be noticed by only the pink papers.

Wage a war, literally

If the Prime Minister hasn’t seen the 1997 movie Wag the Dog, now is the time to download it. Not as a break from the unrelenting demonetisation demon that’s darkening his days, but for educational purposes. Anupam Kher could surely help him here.

He needn’t even resort to a fake war as they did in the film to save an American President from public wrath and win him a second term.

As one of its lead characters put it, “You can’t have a war without an enemy… You could have one, but it would be a very dull war…” Our leader has an enemy right at hand.

Just as the Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhar and direct benefit transfers, incentives for e-payments, etc. are said to have laid the groundwork for demonetisation, the foundations for a war with Pakistan are already in place. The soldiers are readied, the populace is primed, the defence minister eager to retract India’s self-imposed ‘no first use of atomic bombs’ dictum. A “fan of the Hindu” will soon be moving into the White House.

One can only hope the first four steps will make the fifth redundant.

First Published On : Nov 19, 2016 17:30 IST

War on Black Money: Strong people are against me, but will not leave the path of truth, says Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Accusing the opposition of attempting to scuttle the fight against corruption, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday vowed that he would never leave the path of truth and integrity while seeking blessings from the nation for this festival of honesty which he hailed as ‘mahayagya’.”This is ‘mahayagya’; this is the festival of honesty. I seek your blessings. After Pandit Nehru passed away, many prime ministers came and went but that committee report is still lost in files. Today on Pandit ji’s birthday, I pledge to reopen those files, which his party and family Prime Minister’s never did. It”s my tribute,”he said. The Prime Minister, who has drawn sharp flak from a united opposition post his decision to scrap 500 and 1,000 rupee currency notes, urged all to support his decision and bless him in his war against black or undeclared money.He invoked the nation’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru on his 127th birth anniversary to take potshots at the Congress for raising objection to his firm decision. “Pandit Nehru, your family and party abuse me, but I am here on November 14, your birthday, to complete work left undone from your time,” Prime Minister Modi said. “There are some political parties that are worried over currency ban. Those against me are strong people. But I will not be scared of them. I will not leave the path of truth and integrity. Some people never say anything on your face, but behind your back they poke other people to oppose and go against you,” he added while addressing a mega rally here.Escalating his attack on the grand old party, he said that former prime minister Indira Gandhi had during the Emergency in the 1970s turned the entire country into a jail for 19 months only to stay in power. “Our enemy is printing counterfeit notes across the border. Enemy is flooding our nation with these counterfeit notes. We need to put an end to this,” he added. Prime Minister Modi further said that he changed the notes into just worthless piece of paper in order to stop corruption, adding that the government has got a comprehensive crop insurance scheme for the farmers.He asserted that he was pained by the inconvenience caused and that is why he was working tirelessly to help them overcome the financial crunch. “I am saying again just give me 50 days. The bank staff is working for 18 hours a day. This is ‘mahayagya’, this is the festival of honesty. I seek your blessings (for success of currency ban),” he said. “Have you heard that people are throwing currency notes in the Ganga. I must warn those people, their sins won’t be washed away with all this. Today poor are sleeping peacefully whereas the rich are searching for sleeping pills. There is no dearth of money in India, but we don’t know where this money is kept. The troubles people are facing is disturbing me,” he added.The Congress and other opposition parties have accused Prime Minister Modi of introducing an anti-poor scheme by banning Rs. 500 and 1,000 currency notes in a sudden move last week. The currency crunch that has followed has left the people standing for hours in queues at banks to draw money, which is being rationed till there are enough replacement notes.

Beware: Onion trader in Karnataka duped with photocopy of Rs 2000 note

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the Central government is trying to counter the menace of black money, instances of people being duped by fake currency are already been reported.On Sunday, an onion trader at the Chikkamagalur APMC yard in Chikkamagaluru district of Karnataka was reportedly handed over a photocopy of the new Rs 2000 note.According to an India Today report, a worker employed by the onion merchant​ was paid Rs 2000 by a customer, but the note was later found to be a photocopy of the new note.On Sunday morning, a customer purchased onions worth Rs 2000, but at the end of day, when the merchant was counting the money he noticed that the note looked suspicious. None of the security measures such as as the watermark, the image of Mahatma Gandhi and the signature of the Chairman of RBI were clear. On examination, he realised that it was a photocopy of the new Rs 2000 note.While a cheating case has been registered by the Chikkamagalur police, they are also trying to find CCTV footage to find the culprit.
ALSO READ Demonetisation: Good news! New Rs 500 notes soon at an ATM near youIn a “battle” against black money, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made an announcement saying that old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes would not be legal tender starting midnight on November 8, and that new Rs 500 and Rs 2000 notes would be issued. The new Rs 2000 currency notes were circulated from November 11, while the new Rs 500 notes were put into circulation from Sunday.

TMC gives notice in Rajya Sabha to discuss demonetisation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Trinamool Congress on Thursday gave a notice in the Rajya Sabha to suspend business on November 16 and discuss the demonetisation of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes.”Today we gave a notice in the Rajya Sabha to discuss the issue suspending business under Rule 267 on November 16,” TMC leader in the Upper House Derek O’Brien said.Derek, also the chief national spokesperson of TMC, said it was vital that the black money hoarders and the corrupt were punished, but it must not be done by inconveniencing the common people and the poor. He said there must be a proper action plan for implementation of such an extensive move which directly affects millions, especially the middle class and the poor.Hitting out at the Centre over the decision, Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee had earlier said the demonetisation has resulted in a “complete disaster and chaos” and had urged the Modi government to rescind the “hasty decision”.”Please save people from this disaster. Roads are closed, markets shut, patients not being admitted to private hospitals, millions affected. Chaos everywhere,” Banerjee had said on Thursday.

From hinterlands to high-rises: Satellite cities emerging as magnets of urban convergence

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Thousands of young professionals making a short commute to their technology-driven jobs for a globalised market with residential spaces designed for their needs living nearby in residential structures that come furnished for a lifestyle that suits their newfound status.’ What sounds like an urban planner’s dream, something right out of Potsdamer Platz in Berlin or La Defense in Paris, is a scene one can easily find in any satellite city in India. Originally conceptualised as counter-magnets to decongest metropolitan cities, the country’s satellite cities have not only emerged as vibrant, self-sustaining urban centres but are also poised to be hubs for future growth and development. Even as old cities like Mumbai and Delhi grapple with legacy issues and the prospect of urban decay, these satellite cities are attracting investments and new talent, which in turn drives their growth. Navi Mumbai alone has generated over 2,50,000 new jobs since the turn of the century, and, according to the the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) is tipped to generate another half a million jobs in the next decade. This is the Navi Mumbai we planned for, says Ramakant Jha, who was the chief planner at CIDCO 20 years ago, and is now the key man behind PM Narendra Modi’s dream project Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT). Emulating the success of satellite cities like Navi Mumbai, new smart cities are in coming up across the country, with the eventual aim of creating systematic and sustainable urban development across India.From releasing land for development and planning infrastructure projects, to giving connectivity and creating living spaces, satellite cities allow phase-wise progress and the scale can be ramped up as the city develops, says Jha, adding that unlike old cities where implementing a new infrastructure project can be a huge challenge, green-field cities can develop at a much faster pace.Urban renewal As Indians aspire for a better life they contribute to increased urbanisation thus stressing the infrastructure and saturated resources of major cities. If things go on their present trajectory they will neither be able to accommodate new citizens nor enhance the lives of their extant populace. “To be able to continue with the required momentum, India would need at least 100 new cities over the next ten years. These cities would essentially be greenfield entities adjacent to existing city spaces, built around economic drivers like industrial clusters, special economic zones (SEZ) and transport nodes,” says Shubhranshu Pani, Managing Director Strategic Consulting, JLL India, adding that these cities will be developed with a high-grade urban planning. The dynamic changes in physical, economic and technological environments across the globe have resulted in cities using smart elements to improve the quality of life of their citizens. In developed countries, a smart city is one where existing infrastructure is augmented, monitored and controlled, leading to highly sustainable development. “But in the Indian context, the approach is different in the sense that our cities lack basic infrastructure, institutional frameworks and proper governance,” says Pani, adding that the Indian smart city initiatives will primarily involve provision of basic civic requirements and then making the infrastructure scalable.The early years The vision for Navi Mumbai, 40 years ago, was to create a new city with a combination of 14 nodes, each to be connected through well-designed roads, rail networks and metro systems. After working on on industrial development for generation of jobs from 70s to mid-90s, CIDCO shifted its focus towards the infotech industry in early-1996. Realising that the information technology (IT) industry was their best bet, CIDCO lobbied hard to get a Software Technology Parks of India office in Navi Mumbai to enable the infrastructure and incentives, which opened the floodgates for the arrival of IT companies to the satellite city. It took a good 20 years but Navi Mumbai made the journey from industrial belt to knowledge corridor. Today, IT firms occupy 76 per cent of the office spaces in Navi Mumbai. Around the same time, some four decades ago, Noida was set up as an industrial town to encourage small industries and as a way to counter Delhi’s lack of space for industrial areas. The idea was to create a wider urbanised sprawl to support the growing needs for space in the national capital which had come about due to increase in inwards migration and spiralling development levels. At the time, few had envisioned that it would become one of the fastest-growing cities and an engine for growth for the state of Uttar Pradesh—and a vital cog in the National Capital Region’s development wheel.A similar growth pattern was followed by other satellite cities such as Pimpri-Chinchwad and Gurugram that slowly made the transformation from hinterlands to high-rises. A testimony to the success of these cities is that not only has there been a decline in the number of workers commuting from satellite areas to the main city there has in fact been a reversal. “For Navi Mumbai and Gurugram, there is now significant commuting from areas in Mumbai and Delhi respectively, reversing the image of the bedroom satellite city, not to mention the substantial population that lives and works in Navi Mumbai and Gurugram,”says Partha Mukhopadhyay, Senior Fellow at Centre for Policy Research, adding that a key difference between Navi Mumbai and Gurugram is that the intensity of transport links with Mumbai is weaker, given its geography across the creek, as compared to Gurugram’s Delhi connect.“In Gurugram, private developers played a key role in adjusting their strategy in response to market demand. While initially conceived as a residential development, Gurugram responded rapidly to the boom in office space demand for back office operations, subsequent to the initial investments by GE. It also responded equally rapidly by offering apartments to suit younger buyers and a growing housing loan industry,” says Mukhopadhyay.The good lifeWide concrete roads, adequate water supply, open spaces and green patches thanks to a planned approach to urban dynamics, the quality of infrastructure in satellite cities is considerably better than in most metropolitan cities. For instance, despite its fast growth, Navi Mumbai continues to be defined by a spatial openness which cannot be found anywhere else in Mumbai. Even given its high growth rate and burgeoning population size, the population density in Navi Mumbai is a mere one-third of Mumbai’s and other neighbouring cities, giving its citizens an unmatched quality of life. The success of satellite cities can be largely attributed to the efficient integration of economic activities and infrastructure. While in some cases, like Navi Mumbai and Pimpri-Chinchwad, even before the development of the city, there were major industrial clusters in existence. In other cases the cities were built from scratch, such as Gurugram and Noida. All these economic nodes were integrated with the residential nodes by way of road and railway networks, and a good public transport system. Today, each of these satellite cities boasts of many new-economy anchors in IT parks and SEZs. Navi Mumbai alone has at least half a dozen SEZs including two Mindspace complexes in commercial dormitory of Airoli alone, with another ten in the pipeline.Future perfectThe satellite cities with a head start are now poised for the next stage of transition, which is likely to be by way of expansion of the services sector. These cities already have most key ingredients like human capital, infrastructure and land availability to become strong service sector hubs.Pani states that technology evolves faster than a city, and there must therefore be options to adapt as technology changes or become obsolete. “A green-field city must be built in phases on the basis of real demand, and demand should drive investments beyond the basics. Otherwise, we will wind up with infrastructure rich ghost cities with no takers,” says Pani adding that as a rapidly developing economy aspiring to meet global standards, smart cities can take India onto a major leap forward in the race of development.

Senior journalist Girish Nikam dies of heart attack

Mon, 7 Nov 2016-09:23pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior journalist and TV anchor Girish Nikam died in Delhi on Monday following a massive heart attack. Nikam, 59, complained of uneasiness after a programme shoot in the studios and was taken to Ram Manohar Lohia hospital where he breathed his last, according to his associates.Nikam started his journalistic career with “Star of Mysore” in Mysuru and later shifted to Indian Express, Bengaluru. He had worked in other media organisations including India Today, Deccan Chronicle and News Today before doing programmes for Rajya Sabha TV.Nikam’s body is being taken to Bengaluru on Tuesday for the last rites. Prasar Bharati Chairman A Suryaprakash was among others who condoled the death of Nikam. Suryaprakash said Nikam was an extremely versatile mediaperson who traversed the worlds of print, television and social media.

I want to live for another 20-years: Dalai Lama

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Tibetan spiritual leader The Dalai Lama on Wednesday said he wants to live for another 20-years to serve the people.”Today the members of the Phenpo and Pemakoe Tibetan community and those in Tibet have expressed unwavering faith and prayers for my long life.”As I have told before, there have been certain revelations that I will live for more than a hundred years. Personally, I also pray and hope to live for the next twenty years or more to continue to serve the well being of all human beings,” the 81-year-old told thousands of Tibetans and devotees who had come here to join in the prayer for his long life.The Dala Lama said the long-life prayer ceremony is rooted in a strong spiritual bond between the teacher and his disciples and the prayers bring fruition.The Tibetan spiritual leader advised his followers that the best way to fulfill his wishes would be to become a true follower of the Buddha.The long life prayer ceremony, organised by the Phenpo and Pemakoe Tibetan community members, was attended by officials and staff of the Central Tibetan Administration, along with thousands of local Tibetans and non-Tibetan devotees.The Dalai Lama exhorted the Tibetans to bring primary focus on quality of religious education and its practice.”Our rich tradition of Buddhism encapsulates vast knowledge of the workings of the mind and emotions. The main purpose of the Buddhist teaching is to train and conquer one s mind.”By doing that, one will be able to achieve peaceful mind and body and simultaneously spread peace in your environment,” he said.Reiterating his message of peace and universal responsibility, the Nobel laureate made a clarion call to all his followers to usher a new era of mutual respect and brotherhood.”We are part of one great human family. We can no longer invoke the differences of nationalities, race or beliefs.”For a better, happier, more stable future, each one of us must develop a sincere and warm-hearted feeling of oneness with the seven billion people of the world.”Individuals can make truly make a difference in society and it is up to each of us to make the best use of our knowledge and ability to help create a happier world,” he said.

India giving ‘hard-hitting reply’ to Pak: Defence Ministry on ceasefire violations

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking serious note of the ongoing ceasefire violations from the other side of the border, the Ministry of Defence on Tuesday said the Indian troops are hitting them hard. Defence Ministry PRO Manish Mehta while providing details about the present state of affairs at the border said Pakistan is using heavy mortars, adding India is responding in equal measure.”Yesterday there was unprovoked ceasefire violation in Balakote sector where one of our brave soldiers was martyred. Today since 5:30 in the morning, they carried on unprovoked ceasefire violation in Nowshera sector and presently it is intermittently carried out by them,” Mehta said. “Yesterday they had targeted civilian areas. Today, presently I don’t have those details as to what areas they have targeted. However, they have targeted our forward areas and we have also responded appropriately. They are using 120 mm i.e. heavy mortars and we are also responding in equal measure… We are hitting them hard,” he added.A 19-year-old girl has been killed and two civilians have been injured as Pakistan Rangers violated the ceasefire in Nowshera, Arnia and Ramgarh sectors of Jammu and Kashmir this morning.The Pakistani forces started unprovoked shelling targeting posts as well as civilian areas in Ramgarh and Arnia areas at around 6.00 a.m.The girl was killed in Ramgarh sector of Samba district while the two civilians sustained injuries in Arnia sector. The injured have been admitted to the nearby hospital for immediate medical aid. Dr Naseeb Chand Dhingra told ANI in Jammu that three patients have been brought from RS Pura sector, adding they have sustained sprinter injuries.However, the Border Security Force (BSF) is strongly retaliating to the unprovoked firing from the other side of the border in Samba sector. Meanwhile, an encounter is presently underway between the security forces and terrorists in Bandipora’s Ajar village.Yesterday, an army jawan and a woman were killed as the Pakistani troops resorted to heavy mortar shelling along the LoC in Rajouri and Mendhar sectors. The Indian Army on Saturday launched retaliatory fire assaults at Pakistan Army positions, inflicting massive damage across the border by destroying four posts across the LoC in Keran sector of Jammu and Kashmir’s Kupwara district.The Indian forces retaliated after Pakistani Rangers violated ceasefire repeatedly in Kathua and RS Pura sector along the International Border on Saturday. A Border Security Force (BSF) soldier was killed in Pakistani firing in Machil Sector.An Indian soldier was killed on Friday and his body was mutilated by terrorists in an attack near the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir. Nearly half a dozen people and four BSF soldiers have been killed so far and over 30 others injured in the recent skirmishes along the international border.

Kashmir Valley remains peaceful

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, continued to witness increased movement of traffic as more people on Tuesday defied the strike call given by separatists. Many areas of the city here witnessed serpentine queues of private vehicles as people slowly began to pick up the threads of their lives affected by the nearly four-month-long strike, officials said. As the traffic in the city has significantly increased, additional traffic police personnel have been deployed at some intersections to ensure smooth flow of traffic.Many shops were also open in the civil lines and the outskirts of the city, while an increased number of street vendors set up stalls at many places around the commercial hub of Lal Chowk. The official said there is improvement in movement of people and transport with each passing day. However, normal life continued to remain affected in the rest of the Valley due to separatist-sponsored strike. While there were no curbs on the movement of people anywhere in Kashmir, the official said restrictions on assembly of four or more people were in place throughout the Valley for maintaining law and order. He said security forces have been deployed in strength at vulnerable spots and along the main roads as a precautionary measure. Deployment has been made at market places to instill a sense of security among the public to carry out their day to day activities, the official said. Shops, business establishments and fuel stations remained shut, but are expected to open this evening as separatists have given a 14-hour relaxation in the shutdown from 5 PM. Today is the last relaxation period for this week.The ongoing unrest in Kashmir, apart from business and tourism, has also affected the education as schools, colleges and other educational institutions continue to remain shut in the Valley. As many as 85 people, including two cops, have been killed and several thousand others injured in the ongoing unrest in the Valley. Around 5000 security forces personnel have also been injured in the clashes.PTI

Bridge pro Kiran Nadar takes the sport to school

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In one of the ballrooms of a five-star hotel in Aerocity, around 150 men and women slouch on different tables, notepads in hand, mulling and writing down frantically. Butlers walk past with tea and coffee, the hush pierced only by an occasional stirring of cups or clanking of cutlery. “It is a demanding game mentally and requires complete concentration. The USP of playing this is that it boosts your memory, protects you against Alzeheimer’s in old age and is an excellent game to sharpen mental faculties,” says Kiran Nadar, director, HCL Corporation, and an internationally acclaimed bridge player.Nadar took to the game in early childhood and credits her parents, who were prolific players themselves for egging her to learn bridge. “The entire family assembled to play bridge like a ritual, my siblings included. I started playing family bridges when I was around 10 years. With continuous practice and regular gaming, I learned the finer points over the years,” said 65-year-old Nadar, as she carefully preened over the set of cards lying before her, waiting to be dealt. The transition of bridge from hobby to professional sport happened in 1987 after she stopped working and became a full-time mother. In 2003, Nadar launched the HCL Bridge Championship to boost the few players it has and also to popularise it with the younger generation.A look around the ballroom and you know what she means. Most players are elderly men, in their 60s and 70s, with hardly any young faces to spot. “There was a time when IITians, engineering and management students played bridge regularly. The scenario has changed completely now. While it is quite a rage in countries like US and China, where there are special training schools for bridge, the Bridge Federation of India has sadly not done enough to make it appealing to youngsters,” said Nadar, adding that the big prize money (Rs1.2 crore for this year) is a step to encourage youngsters to participate.Why the stark gender bias among players? “The sport is equally popular among women but the number is still less compared to players who are men. I feel this has more to do with social stigma attached to cards; the mindset that cards is only about gambling, and women who play cards are not ‘good’,” she says, beaming at the fact that many ladies in Delhi have formed pro-teams and some are even teaching it to young kids. “It is essential to promote bridge among young children, specially in times like these when they are getting addicted to i-pads and play stations. Today’s kids have a very small attention span, which can lead to memory loss and a host of mental disorders with age. We plan to introduce the sport in all Shiv Nadar schools as a part of their extra-curricular activity for the simple reason that it increases your ability to think and hones logic and reasoning skills,” Nadar said, as she prepped herself for another round of brain storming session with her opponents.

15 bird deaths in Gwalior zoo spark fear of bird flu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Nearly 15 birds in Gwalior zoo have died in last three days, prompting the concerned authorities to send their samples for testing for bird flu virus.”Since last three days nearly 15 birds (painted stork) died in the zoo following which their viscera and other body parts were sent to Jabalpur and Bhopal based laboratories for testing,” zoo officer Dr Pradeep Srivastava told PTI.After bird-flu scare in Delhi’s zoo and deer park, the authorities here are not taking any chances.They said a call on opening the Gwalior zoo for public will be taken after getting laboratory report.”Today is holiday for the zoo and therefore, it is closed. But the decision on whether to open it from tomorrow or not will be taken only after getting report from the Bhopal-based laboratory,” Srivastava said.Following the deaths of some pelicans, the National Zoological Park in Delhi has been shut down temporarily amid a bird flu scare.The Delhi government also shut down the famous Hauz Khas Deer Park amid bird flu scare following death of avians in suspected cases of H5N1 influenza virus.The Delhi government has appealed the residents not to touch dead birds and instead call its helpline number if they spot any.While the H5N1 virus can infect people, no human bird flu case has ever been recorded in India despite several outbreaks among birds.

Bird flu scare in Delhi, zoo shuts down until further notice

Suspected cases of Avian influenza at the Delhi zoo prompted authorities to shut down its premises on Wednesday.

“The zoo has been shut down until further notice. We have sent samples of a couple of dead ducks to Jalandhar and Mathura. We are awaiting the report,” PTI quoted a zoo official as saying. According to a report in The Times of India, at least 10 birds have died since Friday (14 October) at the zoo, out of which three tested positive for bird flu.

The National Zoological Park has been battling with a spate of animal deaths since earlier this year. The zoo houses around 40 pelicans and 20 ducks. Sources told PTI that around eight water birds and a few ducks and pelicans were reported to have been affected by bird flu last week.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The zoo official claimed that the influenza will not affect humans and the shutting down of zoo premises was only a precautionary measure. Bird flu affects mainly the domestic poultry. The disease spreads from infected birds to other winged creatures through contact with nasal and respiratory secretions and also due to contamination of feed and water.

But the official WHO website says that bird flu can cause subclinical infections in humans. The virus A(H5N1) has a higher fatality rate as compared to seasonal influenza and may cause fever, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, chest pain, respiratory distress, sore throat and sometimes even death. The primary risk for human beings lies in exposure through bird markets. However, there is no evidence that the virus can transfer through poultry or eggs.

According to India Today,  the Delhi rural development minister Gopal Rai said that the situation was not very serious as the virus had affected only migratory birds.

In a statement, the Centre had also emphasised the need for “continued surveillance especially in the vulnerable areas bordering infected countries and in areas visited by migratory birds”.

The India Today report also alleged irresponsibility from the part of the zoo officials. The report claims that workers from the veterinary department and animal section did not use gloves or face masks when handling dead birds. Animal rights activist Gauri Maulekhi also blamed the Delhi zoo director for negligence.

Meanwhile, the report in The Times of India quoted Rai as saying that six rapid response teams reached Ghazipur chicken wholesale market and a few other birding sites in the city where they conducted inspections.  Birding sites are being sanitised.

The Indian Express report said authorities have raised an alert in six points in Delhi frequented by migratory birds — Ghazipur murga mandi, Nizamuddin poultry market, Yamuna Biodiversity Park, Najafgarh drain and Delhi zoo. The Delhi government has launched a helpline number — 23890318 on which citizens can inform the animal husbandry department about suspicious bird deaths. Rai and his department will interact with a Maharashtra team that handled the 2008 Bird flu outbreak, allegedly the biggest outbreak seen by the country.

These cases come nearly a month after India declared itself free from the highly contagious avian influenza (H5N1) or bird flu, saying there had been no reports of an outbreak since May when more than 100,000 chickens were ordered to be culled in southern Karnataka state.

With inputs from agencies

Accused of carnage in Nandigram, former CPI(M) MP Lakshman Seth to join BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former CPI(M) leader Lakshman Seth, one of the main accused in the 2007 Nandigram violence case, met state BJP chief Dilip Ghosh and is all set to come to the saffron party’s fold within next few days.”Today Lakhsman Seth met Dilip Ghosh and it was finalised his ‘Bharat Nirman Party’ will merge with BJP in next 3-4 days. The date is yet to be finalised,” a senior state BJP leader said.Seth, a former MP and CPI(M) state committee member, was expelled from the CPI(M) for “anti-party activities” in 2014.After expulsion from CPI(M) he had floated Bharat Nirman Party but it had failed to make any dent in the political space of the state. The CPI(M) MP from 1996-2009 from East Midnapore district, became more well-known during the anti-land acquisition agitation in Nandigram in 2007 that led to the killing of 14 people in police firing on March 14 in 2007. The anti-land acquisition movement leaders had alleged his role caused the flare up of violence culminating in the police firing and blamed him behind atrocities on farmers who refused to part with their land. PTI PNT SUS

This guy with ‘350 girlfriends’ pulled a Ricky Bahl on married women

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It seems like K. Venkat Ratna Reddy is a real-life Don Juan or closer home Rickie Bahl. The smooth-talker apparently duped women by promising to marry them, reported India Today. The Central Crime Station (CCS), unit of the Hyderabad Police arrested him. Reddy was picked up from Guntur district in Andhra Pradesh and also has nine cases of fraud against him in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Reddy carried out a long-distance con in the US where he put up his profile on a matrimonial site and started approaching prospective brides. He married his first victim and duped her of US $30,000. The family approached the police and lodged a complaint against Reddy and the police tracked him to find he had duped a Canadian woman as well.Despite, being a non-graduate, Reddy’s communication skills helped him pull off the con and his social media profile claimed he had ‘350 girlfriends’.The police told India Today: “We are writing to the Visakhapatanam police on how an offender wanted in several crimes secured a passport. We are also writing to the matrimonial site to provide more information on his profile besides telling them to remove it from the site.” Reddy had earlier arrested in 2012 for posing as an IRS officer and demanding money from Telugu filmmakers.Earlier in the year, the Modi government had laid down guidelines to check misuse of matrimonial websites. A source had said: “Matrimonial websites are intermediary under section 2 of Information Technology Act and they are mandated to follow IT Act.” With this advisory coming in place, users of matrimonial websites will be required to submit or upload true copies of supporting documents such as proof of identity and address for the purpose of user verification.”It is advisable that matrimonial websites should provide a list of legally verifiable document which shall serve proof of identity,” the advisory said. The users will also require to confirm their intent for using the platform, it said.The new advisory clearly bars websites to disguise dating platform as matrimonial websites. The advisory also said that “service providers should make a declaration that website is strictly for matrimonial purpose only and not a dating website and should not be used for posting obscene material.” Government has advised that matrimonial websites should caution users against possible fraudsters and encourage users to report any fraudulent activity on the website.It said that users need to verify credentials of the statements that matrimonial websites do not authenticate about any profile unless specifically stated. Matrimonial websites under new rules will be required to name grievances redressal officer on their portals.Besides, the new rule mandates “matrimonial websites should store IP address of profile creator for one year from the date of activation,” it said.With inputs from agencies

Former Bihar CM Jitan Ram Manjhi’s grandson Vikki arrested for carrying liquor

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Bihar CM Jitan Ram Manjhi’s grandson Vikki Manjhi was arrested by the police on Friday evening for carrying alcohol in his vehicle, reports India Today.Vikki was coming from Chatra, Jharkhad to his home in Gaya when the police following a tip-off stopped his car and found the bottles of alcohol. Vikki was arrested at Kothwar in Dhobi in Gaya and was being questioned. He was earlier arrested in connection with murder of his wife in January and has been out in jail.

Mehbooba Mufti urges PM Modi to de-escalate tension with Pakistan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amid strain in ties with Pakistan, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and urged him de-escalate tension along the border besides reach out to the people of the state with “tangible” confidence building measures to address their political, economic and developmental concerns.During the meeting, the first after army carried out ‘surgical strikes’ on September 29 across the Line of Control (LoC) in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK), the Chief Minister discussed with the Prime Minister the law and order situation and that prevailing along the border following soaring tension in the region, a state government spokesman said.”The people in Kashmir have gone through enormous agony and pain and the time has come to reach out to them and apply a balm to their wounds through ample initiatives at political, economic and developmental levels,” she told the Prime Minister.She impressed upon the Prime Minister the need to view the current situation as an opportunity and start a dialogue process with the people of Jammu and Kashmir.”I hope that the Prime Minister, who has received such a big mandate, takes this situation as an opportunity and reaches out to the people of the state by starting a productive dialogue process to end the miseries of the people in the state,” the spokesman quoted her as having said.”Today also hundreds of families have to migrate from the border areas of the state and they suffer immense hardships because of the prevailing tense situation in the region,” she said and stressed the need for reviving the peace and reconciliation process.She also discussed the overall developmental scenario in the state and measures being taken to expedite the implementation of projects under the Rs 80,000 crore Prime Minister’s Developmental Programme.

India, Singapore to step up anti-terror, trade and investment cooperation

New Delhi: On Tuesday India and Singapore decided to strengthen cooperation in countering threats of rising terrorism with Prime Minister Narendra Modi terming cross- border terrorism and increasing radicalisation as “grave challenges” that endanger the very fabric of the two societies.

Modi, who held comprehensive talks with Singapore Prime Minister on ways to enhance cooperation in key sectors including trade and investment, said defence and security cooperation is a key pillar of strategic partnership between India and Singapore.

Addressing a joint press meet, Lee condemned terrorism and offered condolences to the families of the soldiers who were killed in the Uri attack.

Asserting that “rising tide of terrorism, especially cross-border terrorism, and the rise of radicalisation are grave challenges to our security”, Modi said, “they threaten the very fabric of our societies.

“It is my firm belief that those who believe in peace and humanity need to stand and act together against this menace. Today, we have agreed to enhance our cooperation to counter these threats, including in the domain of cyber security.”

A file photo of PM Modi and PM Lee.A file photo of PM Modi and PM Lee.

A file photo of PM Modi and PM Lee.

He also noted that as two maritime nations, keeping the sea lanes of communication open and respect for international legal order of seas and oceans was a shared priority.

The two countries also inked three pacts including the one dealing with Intellectual Property rights to facilitate greater business to business exchanges and collaborations.

Describing trade and investment as bedrock of bilateral relationship, Modi said India has embarked on a path of strong economic growth and transformation and in this journey, it regards Singapore as a key partner.

Agreeing to expedite the second review of Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, the two leaders also welcomed the issuance of corporate Rupee bonds in Singapore which was a step forward in mobilising capital for India’s large infrastructure development needs.

“I have been informed that Singapore is leading the world in putting driverless cars on the road. But, I rest assured, we all rest assured, that one of India’s strongest well- wishers Prime Minister Lee is in the driving seat for Singapore and for our bilateral relationship. Excellency Lee, you are a friend of India,” Modi said.

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If my neighbour’s garbage comes in my house, how is it right: Adnan Sami slams Pak for cross-border terrorism

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Pakistani-origin singer Adnan Sami, who is now an Indian citizen, said Pakistan should understand that Indian Army’s surgical strike was not aimed at it, but was against the terrorists, who have even attacked the neighbouring country in the past. Sami invited a lot of flak on social media by Pakistani users for hailing the surgical strike”The tweet came out of my heart and I pardon those who criticised me. We need to look at why the strike happened and not against whom. This was not a territorial strike aimed at acquisition of land but a response to an unwarranted attack.The strike was aimed at a terrorist camp. “Terrorism doesn’t have a border. Terrorists attack Mumbai, Peshawar and also Paris,” said the singer at the India Today Safaigiri Awards here.The 43-year-old musician said everyone from artistes to common people in both the nations want peace between both the nations.”People say that artists always want peace, they call them the messengers of peace and so on and so forth. Although it is true, I don’t think artistes are the only ones who should get this ‘beautiful credit’. I think all our citizens want peace, not just artists.”Drawing an analogy regarding the current India-Pak situation, he said, “The way I look at it, if my neighbour’s house, for any reason, is producing garbage and that garbage is coming to my house then how is it right? What am I supposed to do? I will go to him and tell him to keep clean.” Sami appealed to Pakistan that it should join hands with India to eliminate terrorism and not take the surgical strike “personally”.”Eliminate it. If you won’t do it alone, let us do it together so that we and our children can live in this world in peace. That is it. There is nothing more to it. It is as simple as that. “Why are you taking this personally? You yourself know there are suicide bombers who blast themselves in Mosques, so if someone is helping you eliminate it, you should be thankful.”

Specially-abled youth resolve to dance Garba this Navratri

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the city is all set to celebrate the nine-day festival, Navratri, people are all set with their dance moves to grove with Dandiya and Garba. However, these three have some special moves to show. Meet Jesal Shah, Siddhi Shah and Dhaval Shah; all specially-abled yet, practicing and going to participate for Garba, this season.Siddhi Shah, senior executive at Airtel, is a full-of-life girl who is nonchalant about her disability and fulfills her dream of dancing, while on wheelchair.”It makes me feel motivated and rejuvenated. I don’t remember a time when I actually did not feel happy on a dull day after practicing. Earlier, I used to only watch people play Garba and feel bad internally. I often wished I could dance, but because of my legs, I couldn’t, of course, get up.” However, she added, “it was the first time, I actually took up classes, Hardik told me that he wouldn’t be able to teach me all the steps but would love to teach me a few steps at least. That was the beginning of my dancing. There was no looking back after that.”On the question of awkwardness, she said, “If I had to give a message to people like me, I would just say, if you feel awkward thinking people are going to stare at you, I say, leave them be, take the first step towards it, and you will never regret.”While Dhaval Shah, who got inspired by his friend Siddhi and started learning Garba recently, said, “I had never thought I will learn Garba, I always used to go to watch it, however, never thought that I would actually get the courage to play Garba. When I saw Siddhi play Garba with such grace, I was overwhelmed. Hence, I decided to learn it along with her. Today, I feel happy that I pursued to learn Garba. Now, at least, I too can join in a few ways with my friends.”While Jesal Shah, who is partially deaf and is an event manager has been learning garba for the past one year and does not let her disability doesn’t come in her way. Jesal has become a part of the same institute where she used learn. “I was always fond of dancing, even though I am partially deaf, I was always motivated to dance. I am now happy that I am a part of the institute that taught me.”Hardik Mehta, founder of Raas Leela institute, taught all the three of them without charging them, says, “Siddhi was the one who approached me. However, when I came to know she was on wheelchair, I had a hiccup but her self-motivation drove me to teach her. Hence, we worked it out for her. All the movements for them are hand-centric and as far as Jesal was concerned, even though she had a listening issue, she was enthusiastic and hence, it worked out great for her too. I am glad I could teach them. It was their enthusiasm that drove me into teaching them.

Govt approves ratification of Paris climate agreement

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Paving the way for bringing the historic Paris agreement into force, the government on Wednesday approved its ratification which will be formalised on October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The nod by the Union Cabinet comes days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the move which is expected to give momentum to implementation of measures at international level to control global warming.Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said that with this India will be one of the key countries instrumental in bringing the historic Paris agreement into force. “Today the Union Cabinet approved the ratification of Paris agreement which is a historic decision. With the ratification, India will be one of the key countries instrumental in bringing the Paris agreement into force,” Javadekar said.The decision will further underline India’s responsive leadership, committed to global cause of environment protection and climate justice. Javadekar said that there were two conditions for the Paris deal to come into force. The pact will come into force after it is ratified by at least 55 countries that account for 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, he said. He said that although 61 countries have ratified the agreement till now, India’s move to ratify it will bring the total emissions to 51.89 per cent.”Because of India’s push, now the world will ratify the deal soon. It will become irreversible course of action for humankind. It is a common resolve to keep temperature rise below two degrees Celsius. Now that target is achievable,” Javadekar said.Noting that the four-year period between 2016-2020 is also important, Javadekar said that India has played its part and now will remind the world community that their pre-2020 actions are also important. During the recent BJP’s National Council meet in Kozhikode, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said,” There is one work left in the CoP21 (Conference of Parties).”Ratification is yet to be done and India too is yet to do it. Today on the birth anniversary of Deen Dayal Upadhyay, I announce that India will ratify the decisions on October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.”China and the US – responsible for around 40 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions – have already jointly ratified the Paris climate change deal that aims to significantly reduce global emissions, giving hopes that the landmark accord may come into effect by the end of this year.

‘Deendayal Upadhyaya said don’t rebuke or reward Muslims, empower them’: PM Modi at BJP National Meet

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Speaking at Session 2 of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya’s centenary celebrations in Kozhikode, Kerala, the PM asserted that the BJP had never comprised its values. He said: “A PM of this country was once asked for how long will you remain PM? He answered that the one who goes to Everest does not go there to reside but to make history. However, we are not part of such a journey. If we wld have entered politics for gains, we would have compromised on values at some level. A country such as ours – full of young people, should have youthful dreams and youthful pace.”He added; “BJP’s original character is based on principles of welfare of people. We have never compromised on our ideals. Other parties might have good people but we have more good people than them. All our senior leaders made us what we are today.”He added: “Deendayal Upadhyaya ji said, Muslims shouldn’t be treated as substance for votes or looked down upon, they should be considered equal. Deendayal Upadhyaya kehte thea gar sabhi ko barabari me lana hai to upar ke logo ke jhukar ke apne haath vanchit logo tak badane chahiye. Deendayal Upadhyaya has said, 50 years back, “Don’t reward Muslims, don’t rebuke Muslims, empower them. Our Govt is committed to the welfare of the last person in the society.” He said: “Today people discuss about global warming, but Deendayal Upadhyaya ji back then used to say that we should respect our resources. On Mahatma Gandhi birth anniversary (Oct 2), we will ratify the decisions that were made during COP21. Our party was formed for poor section of society & all our initiatives today are focussing on down trodden people only. There is a need for a discussion to bring in change in the procedure for elections in our country.” With inputs from ANI

Banning Pakistani artistes not a solution to terrorism, says Karan Johar

Mumbai: Filmmaker Karan Johar says his heart bleeds for the lives lost in the Uri terror attack and he understands the anger in the country but boycotting artistes from Pakistan is no solution to terrorism.

Johar’s comment comes after MNS threatened Pakistani artistes like Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan to leave India, failing which the shooting of their films would be stalled.

Fawad stars in Johar’s upcoming film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, which is slated to release this Diwali.

Karan Johar. AFPKaran Johar. AFP

Karan Johar. AFP

“I understand the anger and the anguish that surround us and I empathise, my heart bleeds for the lost lives. There is nothing that can justify this terrible feeling of terror. Then you are faced in a situation such as this (asking for ban on Pak artistes). If this was truly a solution, one would take it,” the director told a news channel.

“But this is not a solution. I don’t believe it is. The larger forces have to come together and sort the situation and this cannot be banning talent or art.”

The 44-year-old filmmaker said he feels “vulnerable”, while speaking about it publicly.

“I feel vulnerable and scared while even saying this. I completely feel the pain and anger. If my film is targeted because of this, it will make me exceptionally sad because my intent was to put out a product out of love and nothing else.”

When asked how he will deal with these threats, Johar said, “I don’t know… I beseech everyone to look at it holistically and understand the situation, that there is a larger situation here and it has nothing to do with banning talent. Let’s look at it from a larger perspective and find the answer.”

The director said sometimes creative people feel so frustrated that they just want to “fold hands and say ‘leave us alone’.”

“I am not somebody who can find the answer. I am nobody in that scheme of things. I am just a filmmaker, telling a love story. Today I feel, I am a vulnerable soft target. I have faced it, felt the repercussions of it in the past and I have constantly combated that.

“Sometimes, you just want to fold your hands and say, ‘We are creative industry. Please leave us alone. We make movies, we spread love. There are millions in the world, in ourcountry who are happy with the work we do, allow us that…’ I think we should not be those soft targets anymore. We don’t matter in the scheme of things but we can make things happier and better,” he said.

Indian IT export Rs 8 lakh crores and Pak just exporting terrorism: Ravi Shankar Prasad

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders on Saturday hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech on Pakistan as ‘brave’, saying that the Prime Minister had shown ‘Pakistan a mirror’.’He has shown a mirror to the Pakistani people. Before Independence India and Pakistan were one, but today we can see the difference between India and Pakistan,’ said BJP leader and Minister of Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad. ‘Today, the Indian IT export has reached eight lakh crores and Pakistan is just exporting terrorism. Pakistan is the hub of terrorism, which is very unfortunate. And today, I’m proud of our Prime Minister,’ he added.He said after the Uri attack the whole nation supports Prime Minister Modi and there will be no compromise with the security of the nation.’Today, Pakistan has been told in strong words that India will not tolerate terrorism,’ said Prasad. Echoing similar sentiments, BJP leader Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said, ‘In very clear words, the Prime Minister has told the world that we will not forget our martyrs and if Pakistan wants war then we are ready for war for the development of our nation.’ ‘He also told the people of Pakistan that their leaders are misleading them and it is possible that within a few years the people themselves will stand against these leaders. The Prime Minister has said we are ready for any challenge,’ added Rathore. Modi’s blunt attack against PakIn a blunt warning to Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the Uri attack will not be forgotten as he accused it of conspiring to spill blood across Asia by exporting terror. Launching a blistering attack on Pakistan in his first public address after last Sunday’s deadly terror attack, he said the sacrifice of 18 soldiers will not go in vain while all out efforts will be made to isolate that country globally.”Terrorists should hear out clearly that India will never forget the Uri attack… I want to tell the leadership of Pakistan that the sacrifice of our 18 jawans will not go in vain,” Modi told a largely-attended public meeting on the Kozhikode beach held on the sidelines of the BJP national council meet.He said while countries in Asia are working to make the 21st century Asia’s, Pakistan is engaged in a conspiracy of causing bloodshed across the continent by sponsoring terrorism and killing innocents.Asserting that Pakistan was behind terror incidents in Afghanistan, Bangladesh besides India, he said, “Across the world wherever a terrorist incident happens you will find that either terrorists had gone from there (Pakistan) or come to live there like Osama-bin Laden.”Modi also asked Pakistan’s people to question leaders of their country as to why India exports software and Pakistan exports terrorism despite getting Independence together. He indicated that India’s efforts will be directed at isolating Pakistan diplomatically, saying it has already succeeded in this regard and will speed up measures in this regard. The Prime Minister, who has been having meetings with top ministers, BJP leaders and service chiefs in the last few days, however, did not spell out the nature of what India’s response would be. Modi said India had never bowed to terror and will never do so in future and will strive to defeat it. “India has never bowed to terrorism, nor will it ever. It will pause only after defeating it,” he said.

Scarlett Keeling rape and murder case: Goa court acquits both the accused

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Goa court has acquitted both the accused in the 2008 Scarlett Keeling rape and murder case.The British teenager was raped and murdered on Anjuna beach in Goa in 2008 in which two beach shack workers Samson D’souza and Placido Carvalho were accused of sexually assaulting her after giving her a cocktail of drugs and leaving her unconscious in the shallow waters. Her body was found in the early hours of February 19, 2008. Her mother Fiona Mackeown who was hopeful ahead of the verdict is now devasted. Speaking to NDTV, she said, “I am devastated,”.She had earlier said, “Today is the verdict, I have faith in the judiciary, the CBI I think did a good job.”

Sheena Bora murder case: Driver Shyamvar Rai says Indrani Mukerjea strangled daughter

Shyamvar Rai, who recently turned approver by a special CBI court, has claimed that Indrani Mukerjea, the main accused in the Sheena Bora murder case, had strangled her daughter inside a car on 24 April, 2012, reported Times Now.

In his 12-page statement to the magistrate, Rai gave details of events leading up to Sheena’s murder. “Indrani asked me to stop the car. Khanna got into the backseat. I was asked to cover Sheena’s mouth, while Indrani strangulated her.”

Indrani Mukherjee and Sheena Bora. AgenciesIndrani Mukherjee and Sheena Bora. Agencies

Indrani Mukherjee and Sheena Bora. Agencies

Indrani’s assistant had asked Rai to take three months severance pay, an amount paid to an employee on the early termination of a contract, and leave, claimed the 12-page statement, as reported by Times Of India.

According to India Today, Rai had also revealed that Indrani planned the murder well in advance and visited the location of the murder, a day before. On the day of disposing Sheena’s body, Indrani and Khanna strategically made Indrani’s murder look like suicide by immolation.

On reaching the spot of murder, Indrani, Khanna and Rai brought Sheena’s body out of the car and Indrani threw gloves and a saree on her daughter’s body, the India Today report added. Rai then said that Khanna sprinkled petrol over Sheena’s body and Indrani set the body on fire.

Nowhere in his testimony has Rai made any allegations against Peter Mukerjea, confirmed a lawyer, reported The Times Of India.

A special CBI court on 20 June had made Indrani Mukerjea’s former driver Shyamvar Rai, an approver in the Sheena Bora murder case along with granting him a pardon.

Earlier, on 11 May, Rai had sought to turn approver, saying he wanted to “disclose all truths” as he had taken part in Sheena’s killing by strangulation and was present at the time of the murder in 2012.

Recording his statement before a special CBI court then, Rai had said he was under “no pressure, threat or coercion” to reveal the facts in the case and was “repentant” about his act.

Rai was the first accused to be arrested in the Sheena Bora murder case in August 2015.

No #UdtaPM, Narendra Modi’s foreign policy is clear, rooted in realpolitik

At the height of Udta Punjab controversy, social media had another top trend. Many of those who were posting on Twitter with the hashtag #UdtaPM were ridiculing the Prime Minister’s propensity to fly around the world to either hard-sell India as an investment destination or to garner support for the government’s ambitious push for seats in high tables.

Foreign policy has remained Narendra Modi‘s key focus area ever since he assumed office. The Prime Minister has been very proactive in external affairs, be it focusing on India’s immediate neighbours with ‘Neighbourhood First’ initiative, wooing the US Congress, approaching Switzerland to gain backing over NSG inclusion or flying to Iran to sign the Chabahar pact.

But critics — media, the Opposition and even some in his own party — have repeatedly criticised Modi for what they claim is a scattergun approach to foreign relations campaign. It is said that he relies too much on charm and oratory skills to bulldoze the balance of power on international arena that remains a brutally cold and calculated exercise.

Modi’s personal ambition and breathtaking pace, goes the criticism, have actually been counter-productive when it comes to external affairs and he has over-extended himself and India’s case while doing so.

In 2015, for instance, Modi set a scorching pace in visiting 28 countries and welcomed leaders from 12 countries, including the US, Germany, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and Bhutan.

Narendra Modi during TimesNow interview. ScreengrabNarendra Modi during TimesNow interview. Screengrab

Narendra Modi during TimesNow interview. Screengrab

While talking to Times Now in an interview that was aired on Monday, Modi made it clear this was necessary because world leaders didn’t know what he stood for except viewing him through the prism of media.

“The world did not know me; and the world wanted to know who the new (Indian) prime minister is. If someone tries to know Modi through the eyes of the media, they will be confused. If that happened, it will be a loss. My personality shouldn’t be a hindrance for the world to have faith in India.

“So, if I had not met world leaders and talked to them, they would not have known the Prime Minister of India. I was not a member of a political family. I was new; so being proactive was important for me,” he said.

The point is, said the prime minister, that in an increasingly interconnected world, India cannot remain steadfastly tied to a corner.

“We need to understand that the world was bipolar earlier on. The foreign policy would be centered around two super powers. India was a little late in realising that this bipolar situation was a mirage. Now, the entire world, in changed circumstances, especially in the 21st century, is more inter-dependent and inter-connected… There’s been a shift in paradigm.”

Modi said that not coming from a political family and having no background in the field were helps, not hindrances, as he doesn’t have to carry any baggage and press the ‘reset’ button where necessary.

“Because I do not have any previous baggage, because I had a clean slate, I write everything from beginning and that has a benefit. Today, we are building relations with countries across the world. The amount of respect with which I engage Saudi Arabia, I engage Iran with the same amount of respect. The amount of respect with which I speak to America, I speak to Russia with the same amount of respect. We need to understand this. We also need to understand that we shouldn’t consider smaller countries insignificant. I abide by this principle.”

This isn’t a man steeped in hubris who is in a hurry to build a legacy on steroids. The prime minister appears to be a man aware of his and India’s role on world stage and presents a refreshing new gaze on the way the country must engage with neighbours.

China, which stonewalled India’s audacious bid for NSG membership, presents an entirely new challenge though. Its growing political, military and economic clout make it increasingly assertive many areas where India’s active interest will be involved.

On being asked why China repeatedly is blocking us despite the PM’s personal proactive measures and outreach, Modi’s answer was diplomatic, non-confrontational and pointed to his grasp of the realpolitik. He played down the NSG setback as a “continuing process” and said that both countries have differences but do not need to be adversaries.

“The first thing is that we have an ongoing dialogue with China and it should continue to happen. In foreign policy it’s not necessary to have similar views to have a conversation. Even when the views are contradictory, talks are the only way forward and problems should be resolved through dialogue. We don’t have one problem with China, we have a whole lot of problems pending with China. Slowly and steadily, an effort is on to address these issues through talks and make them less cumbersome.

“I can say that China has been cooperating with India to search for solutions. On some issues, it’s a question of principles for them. On some issues, it’s a question of principles for us. On some issues they differ with us and there are issues on which we differ with them. There are some basic differences.

“But the most important thing is that we can speak to China eye-to-eye and put forth India’s interests in the most unambiguous manner.”

On Pakistan, the prime minister pointed to multiple power centres to clarify the NDA government’s position which has been slammed as knee-jerk. He said the democratically elected government in Pakistan lacks heft which makes it difficult to carry out policy initiatives.

“The first thing is that with whom in Pakistan will you decide the ‘lakshman rekha (the red line)’ — with the elected government or with other actors? So India will have to be alert and conscious all the time. There should not be any laxity and negligence.”

Modi said that his continuous Pakistan outreach has convinced the international community that India wants peace and harmony and Pakistan is under increasing pressure to explain its stand.

“There is an outcome due to my continuous efforts like my visit to Lahore and my invitation to the Pakistani prime minister to come to India. Now I don’t have to explain to the world about India’s position. The world is unanimously appreciating India’s position. And the world is seeing that Pakistan is finding it difficult to respond. Today the world has to accept what India has been saying about terrorism. So I believe we have to take this process forward.”

FIR against AAP MLA Dinesh Mohaniya for misbehaving with woman

A FIR has been lodged against Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA from Sangam Vihar, Dinesh Mohaniya, after locals alleged that he and his supporters roughed them up and misbehaved with women in his office when they went to complain about irregular water supply.The case has been registered under Section 506 (criminal intimidation), Section 509 (Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) and Section 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) of the Indian Penal Code at the Neb Sarai Police Station.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Today, when we went to Dinesh Mohaniya’s office, he refused to identify me. I must tell that I go to him daily because of water issues. The most important part is that he doesn’t even sign or puts a stamp on our complaints. After that, he pushed me and other women and even abused us. We want that an FIR should be registered against him and he should be arrested,” said the complainant.”When he abused and pushed us, we also did the same. Are we here to be beaten up? There is a severe water issue here. We went there only to ask for water and not for money,” he added.She said that everyone is equal before everyone and, therefore, legal action should be taken against the AAP MLA.Meanwhile, Mohania, who is also the vice-chairman of Delhi Jal Board, rubbished the allegations, saying they are all baseless.Some residents of Sangam Vihar in South Delhi had yesterday visited Mohaniya’s office-cum-residence to complain about irregular water supply.They alleged that their complaints were met with abuses by the MLA and his supporters.

The dying gun factories of Kashmir

Indian-administered Kashmir used to be a hub for factories making guns for civilians, but the industry has been declining in recent years, writes the BBC’s Geeta Pandey in Srinagar.

After exodus of Hindu families from Kairana, BJP’s Hukum Singh asks Rajnath Singh to intervene

After the mass exodus of Hindu families from Kairana, Uttar Pradesh, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued a notice to the Akhilesh Yadav government on Friday, seeking a response.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

More than 250 families have left their homes since 2014 fearing criminals who enjoy “political patronage”, following which the commission issued a notice to the Chief Secretary and Director General of Police (DGP) of the state. The NHRC observed that the allegations made are serious in nature. It has also directed the state’s DIG (Investigation) to depute a team of officers for a spot inquiry in the matter covering all the allegations made in the complaint and submit a report within two weeks, the commission said in a statement on Friday.

BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad, during a press conference in Allahabad on Sunday, said that despite the issue being serious, the state government is not taking any action.

According to the complaint dated 10 June, 2016, a woman belonging to Kashyap caste was abducted, gangraped and killed, but no action was taken by the police against the offenders.

The complaint also stated that in 2014, two businessmen and brothers, Shankar and Raju, were shot dead in broad daylight at a market, when they refused to  pay ‘protection money’ to a Muslim gang, the complain also noted, according to a report in the Hindustan Times.

A petrol pump was also looted in the area and when the police took on criminals, they shot dead a constable and fled.

India Today reported that the Muslim gang in question was headed by Mukim Kala, who is in jail with his goons.

According to a report in The Indian Express, Kairana MP Hukum Singh, came out with a list containing details of more than 250 families (the list puts it at 346) who left their homes. He then met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh seeking an intervention in the matter.

The Times of India, in a report, added that the Hindu families fled leaving their possessions behind after they were persecuted by another community. Singh said that the list mentioned the families of Kairana, and if he included those families who migrated from other parts of the district, the number would be more than a thousand.

Kairana police, according to Hindustan Times, admitted to cases of extortion but deduced the cause of migration to lack of jobs in the town. Sub-inspector Ravindra Singh dismissed allegations that the local administration was working under pressure from the Muslim community.

Hukum Singh, at a press conference, estimated the number of communal killings in the town at 10 for the last three years and called it the “new Kashmir”, the Times of India reported. He also released a list of names who were being extorted for money and when they refused, they were killed, he claimed. Singh added that this was what happened in Kashmir; that businesspersons were being targeted and so people were forced to leave their ancestral properties behind.

Shamli District Magistrate Sujeet Kumar has reportedly formed a team that comprises a sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) and a deputy SP to probe the MP’s allegations, Indian Express said. Uttar Pradesh BJP unit has also promised to look into the matter, with state chief Keshav Prasad Maurya setting up a committee for the purpose. Maurya said that the situation in Kairana questioned the UP government’s failing security measures.

The Kairana issue, added the India Today report, has brought about a political tussle that the state will witness during the assembly elections in 2017.

With inputs from PTI

PM Narendra Modi’s US Congress speech tells it like it is about Pakistan

Washington: Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered a speech at the US Congress on Wednesday that stood out as uncommon sense in a world that has largely wallowed in giving Pakistan a free pass when it comes to harbouring a rogue’s gallery of terrorists.

Modi’s command performance in the United States shows he doesn’t know the meaning of ‘jet lag’ . By the time he touches down in New Delhi on Thursday — packing a full working day in Mexico — Modi would have covered 33,000 kilometres, held over 45 meetings across five countries, and spent over 44 hours on Air India One.

There was no sign of jet lag, as an animated Modi, the fifth Indian prime minister to address the US Congress, received a series of standing ovations and thunderous applause from lawmakers who increasingly see in India a democratic counterweight to China’s rise. It appears Modi has taken note.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday. PTIPrime Minister Narendra Modi addressing a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday. PTI

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

“India is already assuming her responsibilities in securing the Indian Ocean region,” said Modi. “A strong India-US partnership can anchor peace, prosperity and stability from Asia to Africa and the Indian Ocean to the Pacific.”

In an indirect reference to China, he also touted India’s “respect for global commons and for international rules and norms.”

Modi addressed US concerns on contentious issues like intellectual property rights with gentle humour.

“Siri tells us that India’s ancient heritage of yoga has over 30 million practitioners in the US. It is estimated that more Americans bend for yoga than to throw a curve ball,” Modi said before landing his punchline.

“And, no Mr Speaker (Paul Ryan), we have not yet claimed intellectual property rights on yoga,” Modi said drawing laughter.

In fact, Modi’s substantive address had the right blend of humour, generous praise for the US and gravitas. At any rate, the US lawmakers appeared receptive to his message.

In a not-so-veiled reference to Pakistan, Modi said that terrorism was “incubated in India’s neighborhood.”

“Not just in Afghanistan, but elsewhere in South Asia, and globally, terrorism remains the biggest threat,” said Modi. “In the territory stretching from west of India’s border to Africa, it may go by different names, from Lashkar-e-Taiba, to Taliban to IS.”

“But its philosophy is common: of hate, murder and violence. Although its shadow is spreading across the world, it is incubated in India’s neighbourhood.”

Modi urged the US Congress to send a clear message to those who “preach and practice” terrorism for political gains.

“Refusing to reward them is the first step towards holding them accountable for their actions,” said Modi taking aim at generous US non-military aid to Pakistan.

Members of the US House of Representatives recently threatened to block $450 million in aid to Islamabad unless it does more to fight the Haqqani network, which lawmakers see as a major threat to US forces in Afghanistan.

Modi said that the need of the hour was to isolate those who sponsor terrorists and not distinguish between “good” and “bad” terrorists as terrorism was not just a threat in Afghanistan, but elsewhere in South Asia too.

Some US lawmakers tend to subscribe to Pakistan’s policy of “bad terrorists” (from its Afghan front, who mostly attack Pakistan and American soldiers) versus “good terrorists” (from West Punjab, who mostly attack India).

Modi closed his remarks with an optimistic view of ties between India and the US, which he called an “indispensable partner.”

He connected with his audience by reminiscing about his early travels to America where he was struck by the country’s creativity and “animal spirits.”

“Long before assuming office, I travelled coast to coast, covering 29 States of America.I realized then that the real strength of the US was in the dreams of its people and the boldness of their ambitions,” reflected Modi.

“Today, Mr Speaker, a similar spirit animates India. Our 800 million youth, especially, are particularly impatient. My dream is to economically empower them through many social and economic transformations.”

“Today, our relationship has overcome the hesitations of history. Comfort, candour and convergence define our conversation through the cycle of elections and transitions of administrations the intensity of our engagement has only grown. And, in this exciting journey, the US Congress has acted as its compass,” acknowledged Modi.

The prime minister said the two countries’ relationship is “primed for a momentous future. The complaints of the past are behind us, and the foundations of the future are firmly in place.”

Modi drew on American writer Walt Whitman’s line; “The Orchestra have sufficiently tuned their instruments, the baton has given the signal.”

“And to that, if I might add, there is a new symphony in play.”

Modi in US: Full text of PM Modi’s speech in US Congress

Here’s the full text of PM Modi’s speech in US Congress: Mr. Speaker,Mr. Vice President,Distinguished Members of the U.S. CongressLadies and Gentlemen.I am deeply honoured by the invitation to address this Joint Meeting of the U.S. Congress. Thank you, Mr. Speaker for opening the doors of this magnificent Capitol. This temple of democracy has encouraged and empowered other democracies the world over. It manifests the spirit of this great nation, which in Abraham Lincoln’s words, “was conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In granting me this opportunity, you have honoured the world’s largest democracy and its 1.25 billion people. As a representative of world’s largest democracy, it is indeed a privilege to speak to the leaders of its oldest.Mr. Speaker,Two days ago, I began my visit by going to the Arlington National Cemetery -the final resting place of many brave soldiers of this great land. I honoured their courage and sacrifice for the ideals of freedom and democracy.It was also the seventy-second Anniversary of the D-Day. On that day, thousands from this great country fought to protect the torch of liberty on the remote shores of a land that they did not know. They sacrificed their lives so that the world lives in freedom. I applaud …India applauds, the great sacrifices of the men and women from ‘The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave’ in service of mankind.India knows what this means because our soldiers too have fallen in distant battlefields for the same ideals. That is why the threads of freedom and liberty form a strong bond between our two democracies.Mr. Speaker, Our nations may have been shaped by differing histories, cultures, and faiths. Yet, our belief in democracy for our nations and liberty for our countrymen is common. The idea that all citizens are created equal is a central pillar of the American constitution.Our founding fathers too shared the same belief and sought individual liberty for every citizen of India. There were many who doubted India when, as a newly independent nation, we reposed our faith in democracy.Indeed, wagers were made on our failure. But, the people of India did not waver. Our founders created a modern nation with freedom, democracy, and equality as the essence of its soul. And, in doing so, they ensured that we continued to celebrate our age old diversity.Today, across its streets and institutions, in its villages and cities, anchored in equal respect for all faiths; and in the melody of hundreds of its languages and dialects. India lives as one; India grows as one; India celebrates as one.Mr. Speaker, Modern India is in its 70th year. For my government, the Constitution is its real holy book. And, in that holy book, freedom of faith, speech and franchise, and equality of all citizens, regardless of background, are enshrined as fundamental rights.800 million of my countrymen may exercise the freedom of franchise once every five years. But, all the 1.25 billion of our citizens have freedom from fear, a freedom they exercise every moment of their lives.Distinguished Members,Engagement between our democracies has been visible in the manner in which our thinkers impacted one another, and shaped the course of our societies. Thoreau’s idea of civil disobedience influenced our political thoughts.And, similarly the call by the great sage of India Swami Vivekananda to embrace humanity was most famously delivered in Chicago.Gandhi’s non-violence inspired the heroism of Martin Luther King. Today, a mere distance of 3 miles separates the Martin Luther King memorial at Tidal Basin from the statue of Gandhi at Massachusetts Avenue. This proximity of their memorials in Washington mirrors the closeness of ideals and values they believed in. The genius of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was nurtured in the years he spent at the Columbia University a century ago.The impact of the U.S. constitution on him was reflected in his drafting of the Indian constitution some three decades later. Our independence was ignited by the same idealism that fuelled your struggle for freedom.No wonder then that former Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee called India and the U.S. ‘natural allies’. No wonder that the shared ideals and common philosophy of freedom shaped the bedrock of our ties. No wonder then, that President Obama has called our ties the defining partnership of the 21st century.Mr. Speaker,More than fifteen years ago, Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee stood here and gave a call to step out of the ‘shadow of hesitation’ of the past. The pages of our friendship since then tell a remarkable story. Today, our relationship has overcome the hesitations of history.Comfort, candour and convergence define our conversations. Through the cycle of elections and transitions of Administrations the intensity of our engagements has only grown. And, in this exciting journey, the U.S. Congress has acted as its compass. You helped us turn barriers into bridges of partnership. In the fall of 2008, when the Congress passed the India-U.S. Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, it changed the very colours of leaves of our relationship. We thank you for being there when the partnership needed you the most.You have also stood by us in times of sorrow. India will never forget the solidarity shown by the U.S. Congress when terrorists from across our border attacked Mumbai in November of 2008.And for this, we are grateful.Mr. Speaker,I am informed that the working of the U.S. Congress is harmonious. I am also told that you are well-known for your bipartisanship. Well, you are not alone. Time and again, I have also witnessed a similar spirit in the Indian Parliament, especially in our Upper House.So, as you can see, we have many shared practices.Mr. Speaker,As this country knows well, every journey has its pioneers. Very early on, they shaped a development partnership even when the meeting ground was more limited. The genius of Norman Borlaug brought the Green Revolution and food security to India.The excellence of the American Universities nurtured Institutes of Technology and Management in India. And, I could go on. Fast forward to today. The embrace of our partnership extends to the entirety of human endeavour-from the depths of the oceans to the vastness of the space.Our S&T collaboration continues to helps us in cracking the age-old problems in the fields of public health, education, food, and agriculture. Ties of commerce and investment are flourishing. We trade more with the U.S. than with any other nation. And, the flow of goods, services and capital between us generates jobs in both our societies.As in trade, so in defence. India exercises with the United States more than we do with any other partner. Defence purchases have moved from almost zero to ten billion dollars in less than a decade. Our cooperation also secures our cities and citizens from terrorists, and protects our critical infrastructure from cyber threats.Civil Nuclear Cooperation, as I told President Obama yesterday, is a reality. Mr. Speaker,Our people to people links are strong; and there is close cultural connect between our societies. SIRI tells us that India’s ancient heritage of Yoga has over 30 million practitioners in the U.S. It is estimated that more Americans bend for yoga than to throw a curve ball. And, no Mr. Speaker, we have not yet claimed intellectual property right on Yoga.Connecting our two nations is also a unique and dynamic bridge of three million Indian Americans. Today, they are among your best CEOs; academics; astronauts; scientists; economists; doctors; even spelling bee champions. They are your strength. They are also the pride of India. They symbolize the best of both our societies.Mr. Speaker,My understanding of your great country began long before I entered public office. Long before assuming office, I travelled coast to coast, covering more than 25 States of America. I realized then that the real strength of the U.S. was in the dreams of its people and the boldness of their ambitions.Today, Mr. Speaker, a similar spirit animates India. Our 800 million youth, especially, are particularly impatient. India is undergoing a profound social and economic change. A billion of its citizens are already politically empowered. My dream is to economically empower them through many social and economic transformations.And, do so by 2022, the seventy-fifth anniversary of India’s independence. My to-do list is long and ambitious. But you will understand. It includes:· A vibrant rural economy with robust farm sector;· A roof over each head and electricity to all households;· To skill millions of our youth;· Build 100 smart cities;· Have a broad band for a billion, and connect our villages to the digital world;· And create a twenty-first century rail, road and port infrastructure.These are not just aspirations; they are goals to be reached in a finite time-frame. And, to be achieved with a light carbon foot print, with greater emphasis on renewables.Mr. Speaker,In every sector of India’s forward march, I see the U.S. as an indispensable partner. Many of you also believe that a stronger and prosperous India is in America’s strategic interest. Let us work together to convert shared ideals into practical cooperation. There can be no doubt that in advancing this relationship, both nations stand to gain in great measure.As the U.S. businesses search for new areas of economic growth, markets for their goods, a pool of skilled resources, and global locations to produce and manufacture, India could be their ideal partner. India’s strong economy, and growth rate of 7.6% per annum, is creating new opportunities for our mutual prosperity.Transformative American technologies in India and growing investment by Indian companies in the United States both have a positive impact on the lives of our citizens. Today, for their global research and development centres, India is the destination of choice for the U.S. companies.Looking eastward from India, across the Pacific, the innovation strength of our two countries comes together in California. Here, the innovative genius of America and India’s intellectual creativity are working to shape new industries of the future.Mr. Speaker,The 21st century has brought with it great opportunities. But, it also comes with its own set of challenges. Inter-dependence is increasing. But, while some parts of the world are islands of growing economic prosperity; other are mired in conflicts. In Asia, the absence of an agreed security architecture creates uncertainty. Threats of terror are expanding, and new challenges are emerging in cyber and outer-space.And, global institutions conceived in 20th century, seem unable to cope with new challenges or take on new responsibilities.In this world full of multiple transitions and economic opportunities; growing uncertainties and political complexities; existing threats and new challenges; our engagement can make a difference by promoting:· Cooperation not dominance; Connectivity not isolation;· Respect for Global Commons;· inclusive not exclusive mechanisms; and above all· adherence to international rules and norms.India is already assuming her responsibilities in securing the Indian Ocean region. A strong India-U.S. partnership can anchor peace, prosperity and stability from Asia to Africa and from Indian Ocean to the Pacific.It can also help ensure security of the sea lanes of commerce and freedom of navigation on seas. But, the effectiveness of our cooperation would increase if international institutions framed with the mindset of the 20th century were to reflect the realities of today.Mr. Speaker,Before arriving in Washington D.C., I had visited Herat in Western Afghanistan to inaugurate Afghan-India Friendship Dam, a 42 MW hydro-electric project built with Indian assistance. I was also there on the Christmas day last year to dedicate to that proud nation its Parliament, a testimony to our democratic ties. Afghans naturally recognize that the sacrifices of American have helped create a better life. But, your contribution in keeping the region safe and secure is deeply appreciated even beyond. India too has made an enormous contribution and sacrifices to support our friendship with Afghan people.A commitment to rebuild a peaceful, and stable and prosperous Afghanistan our shared objective. Yet, Distinguished Members, not just in Afghanistan, but elsewhere in South Asia, and globally, terrorism remains the biggest threat.In the territory stretching from West of India’s border to Africa, it may go by different names, from Laskhar-e-Taiba, to Taliban to ISIS. But, it’s philosophy is common: of hate, murder and violence.Although it’s shadow is spreading across the world, it is incubated in India’s neighbourhood. I commend the members of the U.S. Congress for sending a clear message to those who preach and practice terrorism for political gains. Refusing to reward them is the first step towards holding them accountable for their actions. The fight against terrorism has to be fought at many levels. And, the traditional tools of military, intelligence or diplomacy alone would not be able to win this fight.Mr. Speaker,We have both lost civilians and soldiers in combating it. The need of the hour is for us to deepen our security cooperation. And, base it on a policy:· that isolates those who harbour, support and sponsor terrorists;· that does not distinguish between “good” and “bad” terrorists; and that delinks religion from terrorism.Also, for us to succeed, those who believe in humanity must come together to fight for it as one, and speak against this menace in one voice. Terrorism must be delegitimized.Mr. Speaker,The benefits of our partnership extend not just to the nations and regions that need it most.On our own, and by combining our capacities, we are also responding to other global challenges including when disaster strikes and where humanitarian relief is needed. Far from our shores, we evacuated thousands from Yemen, Indians, Americans and others.Nearer home, we were the first responders during Nepal’s earthquake, in the Maldives water crisis and most recently during landslide in Sri Lanka. We are also one of the largest contributors of troops to UN Peace Keeping Operations.Often, India and the U.S. have combined their strengths in science, technology and innovation to help fight hunger, poverty, diseases and illiteracy in different parts of the world.The success of our partnership is also opening up new opportunities for learning, security and development from Asia to Africa.And, the protection of environment and caring for the planet is central to our shared vision of a just world.For us in India, to live in harmony with mother earth is part of our ancient belief. And, to take from nature only what is most essential is part of our civilizational ethos. Our partnership, therefore, aims to balance responsibilities with capabilities. And, it also focuses on new ways to increase the availability and use of renewable energy.A strong U.S. support for our initiative to form an International Solar Alliance is one such effort. We are working together not just for a better future for ourselves, but for the whole world. This has also been the goal of our efforts in G-20, East Asia Summit and Climate Change summits.Mr. Speaker and Distinguished MembersAs we deepen our partnership, there would be times when we would have differing perspectives. But, since our interests and concerns converge, the autonomy in decision making and diversity in our perspectives can only add value to our partnership. So, as we embark on a new journey, and seek new goals, let us focus not just on matters routine but transformational ideas.Ideas which can focus:· Not just on creating wealth but also creating value for our societies;· Not just on immediate gains but also long term benefits;· Not just on sharing best practices but also shaping partnerships; and· Not just on building a bright future for our peoples, but in being a bridge to a more united, humane and prosperous world.And, important for the success of this journey would be a need to view it with new eyes and new sensitivities.When we do this, we will realise the full promise of this extraordinary relationship.Mr. Speaker,My final thoughts and words would reiterate that our relationship is primed for a momentous future. The constraints of the past are behind us and foundations of the future are firmly in place.In the lines of Walt Whitman, “The Orchestra have sufficiently tuned their instruments, the baton has given the signal. And to that, if I might add, there is a new symphony in play. Thank you Mr. Speaker and Distinguished members for this honour.Thank you very much.

Gujarat: Lord Swaminarayan idol dressed in RSS uniform sparks a row

A controversy erupted on Tuesday after authorities of a Surat-based Swaminarayan temple dressed up the idol of Lord Swaminarayan in the RSS uniform.The issue came to light after a picture, in which Lord Swaminarayan can be seen donning the Sangh outfit–white shirt tucked into a baggy khaki shorts with black cap and black shoes on–went viral on various social media platforms. The idol is also seen holding the national flag in one hand.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to Swami Vishwaprakashji of the temple, which is situated in Laskana area of Surat, the dress was gifted by a local devotee a few days back. “We have a common practice of presenting the God’s idol in various dresses. This RSS uniform was given to us by a devotee. We do not have any other agenda. We did not know that it will create a controversy,” Vishwaprakashji said.Even as the temple authorities denied having any intention of endorsing the views of the right-wing organisation, Congress condemned the move. Senior Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela said temple authorities must refrain from such activities. “What do you want to prove by dressing up the god in khaki shorts? I pity those who have done that. Today, you have dressed the Lord in RSS uniform, tomorrow you will dress the idol in BJP’s uniform. This is very unfortunate,” Vaghela said.When asked about the incident, Gujarat BJP president Vijay Rupani also said that it should not have been done. “I am really surprised! If at all it was done, I don’t approve of it,” said Rupani.

RBI may not hike interest rates on June 7

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Raghuram Rajan may want to chase the monsoon before he pulls the trigger on interest rates.Rain-fed agriculture in India makes the country heavily dependent on rains for its food prices to remain benign and keep consumer price-led inflation low. With prices of vegetables and pulses already soaring, the RBI would rather go with caution, letting nature do its bit before tinkering with interest rates. The RBI’s monetary policy review is on June 7.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The higher-than-expected GDP growth of 7.9% in the three months ending March 2016 over the preceding year will give a breather to the governor to hold on to rates until the next policy review on August 9.Official job data from the US is sending shock waves globally. While everyone was expecting a revival in the US economy, data showed that employers added just 38,000 jobs last month, the slowest growth in six years and way below the 160,000 that was expected. So, the US Federal Reserve hiking rates in its meeting this month is a remote possibility unless there is some anomaly with the job data figures.With too many uncertainties lurking, economists expect a status quo from the RBI with the hope of reduction in interest rates in August when rains would have shown their generosity and the two meetings of the Federal Open Market Committee (the rate deciding body in the US) would have made up its mind on whether interest rates in the US need to be raised.Pranjul Bhandari, chief India economist, HSBC, said, “India’s summer is laden with suspense.” She says several things would play up in the minds of the regulators like whether the Fed will hike rates, oil prices will continue to rise or if we would get sufficient rains to contain food prices.The RBI cut the rate at which it lends to banks by 0.25% to 6.50%, the lowest in over five years when it unveiled the first monetary policy of the financial year in April. But with retail inflation rising higher than expected to 5.39% in April, after having slowed down for three months in a row from January, the RBI will be bound to be cautious.Saugata Bhattacharya, chief economist, Axis Bank, said there are “too many uncertainties for the RBI to consider. Today’s non-food payroll data in the US was a case in point, which showed just 38,000 job additions when the expectation was 158,000. It may be an anomaly but the Fed is certainly not going to hike rates in the June meeting. In India, rains, oil and food prices are a big worry. So the RBI would prefer to wait and watch, before bringing down rates.””We expect RBI to be in a wait-and-watch mode in the June 7 policy meeting. We continue to hold on to our call for a 25 bps rate cut in August, on the back of our assumption that early rains will be adequate. By then, most of the other summer questions should have also found an answer,” Bhandari added.Siddhartha Sanyal, chief economist, Barclays India, said: “We think the RBI has relatively few ‘rate cut bullets’ left in the near term, given the 1.5% reduction in the repo rate (to 6.5%) since January 2015. In our view, the RBI is likely to continue to monitor the transmission of previous easing measures, developments on the inflation front, and this year’s monsoon before cutting the repo rate further. A clearer picture should emerge before the August policy meeting. Given the recent upside surprise in inflation and the uptick in commodity prices, we expect the tone of the RBI’s commentary next week to be balanced. In the meantime, we expect the central bank to emphasise its continued commitment to support the banking system’s liquidity needs.”

After Rajdeo Ranjan murder, another newspaper employee attacked in Bihar’s capital

A fortnight after the killing of a journalist in Bihar, a senior employee of a leading English daily was driven around the city and allegedly roughed up inside a moving vehicle after his office vehicle collided with another car in Patna late last night.Distribution Executive of “Telegraph” Rakesh Kumar Singh, was pushed inside the MUV of the attackers, roughed up while being driven around the city to force him to pay for the damages caused to the car belonging to the attackers, Senior Superintendent of Police Manu Maharaj said. Singh was let off after his colleagues, who were with him, started making frantic calls to the police.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”They abducted me and took me towards Danapur. They took away all my money and my ATM cards. They threatened to shoot me if I raised an alarm. After two hours they threw me at railway station and escaped. All of them were drunk,” said Singh to India Today.The vehicle in which the four attackers was travelling has been identified and two persons have been held while search is on for others, the SSP said. “We have registered the case and slapped strongest possible charges against the accused. We will soon arrest the attacker”, said DIG Patna, Shalin said to India Today.A Sub Inspector posted at Shashtri Nagar police station has been suspended for dereliction of duty in connection with the incident, Maharaj said. The collision took place in busy Raja Bazar area under Shastri Nagar police station and a case has been registered with the police station in this connection, he said. Mediapersons have strongly protested roughing up of Singh in the heart of the city which has come close on the heels of the murder of Siwan-based journalist Rajdeo Ranjan earlier this month. With inputs from India Today

DG Vanzara says Asaram Bapu framed, seeks his exoneration in rape case

Retired IPS officer D G Vanzara, out on bail in the Ishrat Jahan alleged fake encounter case, on Sunday demanded dropping of charges against him as well as the rape case accused Asaram Bapu, saying the very forces who “framed” him also “falsely implicated” the godman.”Same forces who were responsible for framing charges against me and putting me in jail are responsible for arresting Asaram and the charges against him (Asaram) too should be dropped,” the former Gujarat DIG told reporters.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A CBI court had in April relaxed bail conditions of Vanzara, a key accused in the alleged fake encounters of Ishrat Jahan, Soharabuddin Sheikh and Tulsi Prajapati, and allowed him to enter and stay in Gujarat.”As a police officer I have studied the FIR filed against Asaram and I am of the opinion that the charges should be dropped against him,” said Vanzara who considers himself a loyal devotee of the self-styled godman.Asaram is currently in jail in Jodhpur in connection with the alleged rape of a minor girl. He was also booked for raping a Surat-based woman.Meanwhile, Vanzara also hinted that he could contest Gujarat Assembly elections next year.When asked about which political party he is planning to join, the former IPS officer said, “That question will arise at the time of the election. Today, there is no question of choosing a party. Today, I am a citizen of this country and I am just a common man and as a common man I want to serve 6.5 crore people of Gujarat”.He claimed that cases against him, Asaram and Sadhvi Pragya, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, are fabricated. The NIA recently dropped all charges against Sadhvi and five others in the blast case.Vanzara was felicitated at a function organised by the city-based Gujarat Asmita Sangh.

Kerala Elections 2016: Veteran Achuthanandan sidelined, CPI(M) picks P Vijayan as next CM

In a contentious decision, the CPI(M) central leadership has decided that Pinarayi Vijayan will be the next Chief Minister of Kerala. He has been chosen over former CM and 93-year-old veteran CPI(M) leader VS Achuthanandan. Both these two leaders have had acrimonious relationship in the past and now the central leadership has chosen Vijayan to become the CM of the state. LDF won a resounding mandate on Thursday winning 91 of the 140 seats. Both Vijayan and Achuthanandan were in the forefront of the campaign for LDF. Today, the central committee meeting took place in Trivandrum where party general secretary Sitaram Yechury was also present.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to ANI, the decision to chose Vijayan was conveyed to Achuthanandan, who left the meeting halfway. At 93,Velikkakath Sankaran Achuthanandan still had hopes of becoming the chief minister. One of Kerala’s most popular leaders, the veteran Marxist showed no fatigue as he campaigned, braving unprecedented heat in Kerala. He defeated 29-year-old VS Joy of Congress in Malampuzha by a huge margin of votes. 71 year old Vijayan has served as minister in the Kerala cabinet earlier. He was the general secretary of the state unit of CPI(M) from 1998-2015. He was inducted in CPI(M) politburo way back in 2002.

Assembly polls 2016 – Highest point for BJP: Arun Jaitley about party’s performance

“It’s an all time high for us” and the “highest point” for BJP, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Thursday as the party stormed to power in Assam and saw a major jump in its vote share in Kerala and West Bengal.”Today this is the highest point in the history of BJP. We have a majority in the Lok Sabha on our own. Along with our partners, we have 15 state governments, which covers over 45 per cent of India’s population,” he said. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jaitley said the geographical expansion of BJP in Kerala, after Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh in the South, and the 11% vote share in West Bengal were “important milestones”. “To be able to form a government in Assam with an overwhelming majority and to have governments in Arunachal and Meghalaya is a very important milestone,” he said.The Finance Minister also hit out at the Congress, saying the national party which hogged centrestage in the national polity until two years ago “today has state governments which cover about 7 to 8 per cent of India’s population.” “So the stark difference in the size of the two parties is – it’s an all-time high for us and an all-time low for them,” he said.With today’s poll results, he expressed the hope for early passage of GST Bill about which he was “reasonably optimistic”. “Today’s verdict is advantage GST. I think a setback to the obstructionists is certainly advantage GST,” he said when asked if this could see an early passage of the key tax reform legislation. Jaitley criticised Congress leaders for trying to “protect” and coming to the defence of Rahul Gandhi rather than giving local and rational reasons for the party’s debacle in these assembly polls. Coming down heavily on the family-led politics of Congress, he attacked it for not having a leadership and said this was not a situation created by the BJP. “We don’t have a choice in creating their leader. That is a trap that the Congress party has really set for itself.When a party transforms itself from a structured political party to a crowd around the family, then the inevitable consequences of that is that the family, because its strength and appeal is lacking, can become a liability for the party. “Without the family, the crowd itself would disintegrate and therefore it is for Congress party to decide whether they want to transform themselves into a structured political party or merely into a dynastic association,” he said.He added the Congress, after losing the 2014 elections, had to decide whether to behave like a national party of governance and mature itself or take the path of obstruction or fringe positions. Jaitley also hit out at the Left, saying it is a model which has been rejected globally and has presence in India in certain pockets including states like Tripura, Kerala and West Bengal and “faculties of Jadhavpur and Jawaharlal Nehru Universities”.When asked if Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar can emerge as the leader of an anti-BJP front in the future, Jaitley rejected the idea of a regional player anchoring a national-level alliance. “To have a coalition government at the Centre in federal polity, you need an anchor of an alliance who has a sufficiently large size and a national presence.”If anchor itself has 20 to 30 seats in Parliament, as has happened in the past, then such a coordination collapses sooner than later. A coalition without a reasonably large anchor is never possible in such a large democracy,” he said.

Tamil Nadu elections 2016: Is Amma on her way out? Exit polls predict so

After a month-long hectic campaign, Tamil Nadu voted today, barring Aravakurichi and Thanjavur constituencies which will go to polls on May 23. All the exit polls for the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections 2016 project a win for the DMK-Congress alliance, barring CVoter. Today’s Chanakya, Axis My India show that Jayalalithaa has failed to re-create her magic this time. However, AIADMK and DMK were in close contention during the campaigning days. Both made similar poll promises. Prohibition of liquor featured prominently in both their manifestos. Several freebies were also promised for the voters, which even invited Election Commission’s ire. (Read: Tamil Nadu elections 2016: EC issues show cause notices to Jayalalithaa, Karunanidhi)<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP was seeking to make inroads in Tamil Nadu but failed to create a mark, according to the exit poll predictions. The fight has always been between DMK and AIADMK, and looks like it will continue to stay so. The only glimmer of hope Congress has in this round of assembly elections is in Tamil Nadu, where the alliance with 92-year-old wheelchair-bound Karunanidhi led DMK seems to have worked. AGENCY AIADMK DMK-CONGRESS OTHERS TODAY’S CHANAKYA 90 (+/- 9) 140 (+/- 11) 4 (+/- 2) CVOTER 139 78 17 AXIS MY INDIA 89-101 124-140 4-8 NEWS NATION 95-99 114-118 18 REASONS FOR AMMA’S PROJECTED LOSSDid the Chennai floods and criticism over its handling by the state administration have an impact on Jaya’s dedicated voters?​Amma, who went to jail in connection to the disproportionate assests case, but returned to power in May 2015 after acquittal, has failed to convince the voters in the last one year. People, who struggled in the week-long floods, seem to have not forgiven Amma for what she did (or for what she didn’t do.)Another reason for Amma lagging behind in the race this time could be her lack of campaigning. Karunanidhi’s son MK Stalin, started the party’s ‘Nammakku Naame’ (We for ourselves) as long ago as September 2015. The party reached out to all the 234 constituencies, and ended the campaign in February 2016. However, due to Amma’s reported ill-health, she wasn’t able to make many public appearances. The exit polls also suggest that DMDK, PMK etc may have failed to create an impression among voters about being a credible alternative to the DMK and AIADMK. Also read: Tamil Nadu Elections 2016: Why DMK holds the edge over AIADMKAXIS MY INDIA PROJECTIONS:DMK, in alliance with Congress, will get anywhere between 124-140 seats, while AIADMK will see between 89 and 101. BJP however, fails to make a mark and only 0-3 seats are predicted for the PM Modi-led party. TODAY’S CHANAKYA PROJECTIONS:DMK-Congress alliance gets anywhere close 140 seats; Amma gets 90. C-VOTER PROJECTIONS:CVoter is the only pollster to have suggested that the Amma-led party is leading the race with 139 seats. DMK-Congress alliance will get 78 seats, predicted CVoter.

Govt to hold more consultations with states on NEET issue: JP Nadda

Health Minister JP Nadda on Monday said the government will hold more consultations with states on the issue of National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) amid reports that an ordinance may be brought to bypass the Supreme Court ruling making the test mandatory for admission to medical courses.He held a consultation meeting with state health ministers at AIIMS to discuss the problems the state governments were facing over the common medical entrance test. “We will need more discussions with the state governments on the NEET issue. Today we had discussions on language, syllabus and state governments’ concerns over state medical entrance examinations. We have to solve all the problems of the states before NEET is conducted across the country,” Nadda said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Health Minister further said the Supreme Court will be apprised about the state governments’ apprehensions on NEET only after arriving at a conclusion. “Met Health Ministers of States today. They shared their views on holding NEET this year. I have noted their many concerns about NEET this year. Will soon formulate further course of action,” Nadda later tweeted.The Supreme Court had ruled that starting this academic session, students would have to appear for NEET to seek admission to any medical or dental colleges in the country. Last week, it also turned down a batch of appeals by states seeking to conduct their own medical admission tests and ruled that “only NEET would enable students to get admission to MBBS or BDS studies”.Following the apex court’s ruling, opposition parties have raised concerns that students passing out from state boards in regional languages and living in remote areas may not be able to perform well in common entrance exam.Several MPs have demanded the government to bring forth an ordinance to stall the NEET for the current academic session.

Killer heat wave in Gujarat: Ahmedabad records season’s highest at 44.6 degree Celsius

Heatwave conditions continued to sweep several parts of Gujarat with Ahmedabad city on Thursday recording the highest maximum temperature of the season at 44.6 degrees Celsius.”Heat wave conditions prevailed in most parts of Gujarat as weather remained dry during the day with most cities, except those in the coastal region, recording maximum temperatures in the range of 40 to 44 degrees Celsius,” the daily weather bulletin released by Meteorological Centre in the city said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Met Centre has also predicted rise in mercury levels in the days to come.”Ahmedabad city today recorded its highest temperature of the season with 44.6 degrees Celsius, which is almost one degree more than yesterday. Other cities also reeled under scorching heat as mercury levels either remained as they were yesterday or slightly increased,” Assistant Director of Met Centre Manorama Mohanty said.Kandka Airport in Kutch region was at the second place with 44.4 degrees Celsius, followed by Surendranagar (44.3), Gandhinagar (44), Amreli (44), Rajkot (44), Vadodara (43.2) and Bhuj (42). Today’s readings showed a rise of one to two degrees from Thursday.The Met officials said there would be no respite from the heat wave in days to come.”As per our forecast, there will be no change in the heat wave situation during the next two days. The mercury in the city may touch 45 degrees Celsius on Sunday. We may see slight decrease in the maximum temperature only after Sunday,” Mohanty added.

Pakistan’s lies exposed, Dawood’s house found in Karachi: Reports

For the last 23 years, India has been trying to locate the accused in 1993 Mumbai blasts which killed 257 people. Pakistan has always officially denied that Dawood Ibrahim lived among them. However, a CNN-News 18 report claims that they have tracked down Dawood’s house in Pakistan. According to them, Dawood resides at D 13, Block 4, Clifton, Karachi. The sting operators interviewed locals and Dawood’s bodyguards, and almost everyone seemed to know where he stayed.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The video of the operation showed the house flanked on two sides by a cricket stadium on one side and a popular wedding and banquet hall on the other. Clifton is an upmarket suburb in Saddar Town of Karachi and the investigation claimed the house looked like Osama Bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound.Earlier, India Today had claimed that they had tracked down four landline numbers registered at underworld don Dawood Ibrahim’s Karachi mansion. The call records are of a seven-month period from September 2015 to April 2016, and the report claims that the underworld don was in touch with some Indian politicians as well. The media house reported that one of the numbers belonged to a senior Maharashtra leader from a major political party but declined to name him.Ethical hacker Manish Bhangale was quoted saying by India Today: “I was able to get the call records.”The 66-year-old is wanted in connection with the 1993 serial blasts which led to 257 deaths and 717 injuries. While one of his associates, Yakub Memon was hanged in July 2015, his brother Tiger is still at large.

Will protect special status of Jammu & Kashmir: Mehbooba Mufti

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Thursday said she would protect the special status guaranteed to Jammu and Kashmir under article 370 of the Constitution, as she was promise-bound and cannot betray the people.”When we fight elections, be it BJP or Congress or PDP, we take oath that we will protect the constitutions of India and J-K. So, we are promise-bound and we cannot betray. This is our identity and we have to protect it,” Mehbooba said. She was addressing a gathering before flagging-off four new DEMU trains between Banihal-Baramulla and Baramulla-Budgam in Kashmir Valley at Anantnag railway station.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhu flagged-off the trains through video-conferencing from Rail Bhawan in New Delhi.Mehbooba said before taking oath as the chief minister, she was asked not to ally with the BJP, but she responded by saying that in 1947 the state had already acceded to the whole country, which included the saffron party.”But what we have to see is how to protect our identity. Those things which the God has given us and the constitution of India has given to us, we have to protect them. Recently, there was a conference in Delhi where Chief Justice and all the justices of the country were present. I told them only one thing that Jammu and Kashmir’s special position under Article 370 is part of Indian constitution,” she said.The Chief Minister, however, said that for protecting the identity of the state, the impression that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is very bad, needs to be changed.”There are a lot of misconceptions about J-K. The girls in our state are safe compared to the rest of the country. The good things about Kashmir do not reach the people outside. The discussion is only about when someone pelts a stone or waves a flag. I feel this (train) service is the start of the coming of good things,” she said.She also asked the people of the state to see the situation in Muslim countries around the world which have been affected by violence, and compared them with India where different people live together in peace.”See the whole world, especially the Muslim countries, Iraq, Syria, Libya or Egypt or even our neighbour Pakistan where only the people of one religion live, but where have they reached. Today, you see that the maximum destruction caused by the gun is in Muslim countries,” she said.”India is such a big country where democracy thrives, where different people live together. This extraordinary Ganga-Jamuni civilization was what (her father and former chief minister) Mufti (Mohammad Sayeed) saw in Aligarh during his student days. And when he returned, he held only one flag in his hand and did not change his stance because he was satisfied. Today, you have got the evidence of his satisfaction,” she said.Later, Mehbooba travelled on the inaugural service of the new DEMU train from Anantnag to Baramulla and took the return service from Baramulla to Srinagar. She said the service would benefit the people, especially government employees and students, and also demanded that special trains be started during peak tourist season.”We will now try to increase the frequency of the train services, so that the traffic pressure on the roads is lessened,” she said.

From prison with love: Read Peter Mukerjea’s emotional letter to Indrani

It seems that legal battles aside, Peter Mukerjea is still very much in love with his wife Indrani. According to a report in Mid-Day, he wrote her loving letter on January 3, where he compared the couple to Romeo and Juliet. This might be the wrong Shakespearean play to reference. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mukerjea reportedly wrote the letter on Jan 3, Indrani’s birthday. He wrote: “Today is the special day in your life and mine too. Therefore, your birthday is a day we have always spent together since we met and this is the first year we’re so close and yet so far! What can I say, other than to wish you a Happy Birthday in the now. Have a pleasant day, as much as you can.”It added: “Remember that I am thinking of you throughout. You pray that you get through your innocence and get clear of this nightmare in good times. I hope this reaches you and you get to see it so it gives you a moment of joy in all the sadness that everyone is going through, you and me, most of all.”He then lamented the fact that he couldn’t do anything else for her like getting flowers or a cake, but said that the note was a message from his heart to his love and wife. He added: “No more emotional stuff. Smile today, no matter what, my love, and you’ll feel better for that. This year brings us more joy and happiness than 2015 did. Lots to look forward to, my treasure. Hugs and love, happy birthday girl! Yours, Pxxxxx.”Ironically, Peter’s lawyer filed for bail on Jan 4, saying that Indrani was the only one responsible for her daughter Sheena Bora’s death.

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