Rail Budget No fare hike, no new trains for now; plan to invest Rs 850,000 cr in 5 years
New Delhi Feb 26, 2015
Keeping passenger fares unchanged, minister Suresh Prabhu presented his maiden budget for Indian Railways on Thursday, promising to balance passenger needs and long-term interests of the organisation to benchmark it globally on quality, safety and reach. Nine more high-speed trains, faster speed of existing trains, Wi-Fi in 400 stations, user-friendly ladders to mount upper berths, easier norms for unreserved tickets, 17,000 bio-toilets in trains, better connectivity in north-east, and cameras for safety of women travellers are among the other highlights of the budget. "There will be no hike in passenger fares. We will focus on improving passenger amenities, including cleanliness," Railway Minister Prabhu said in a 66-minute speech in the Lok Sabha, watched keenly by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who had handpicked him for the job. The minister also promised all this with a vastly improved operating ratio, which spells out how much money is spent on day-to-day operations to earn revenues -- an indication of the funds left for safety and expansion.
He targeted to bring this down to 88.5 percent, or the lowest in nine years, from an unsustainable level of 93.6 percent in 2013-14 and 91.8 percent for this fiscal. This is better than what the prime minister had asked the railways a few days ago. Globally, a 75-80 percent or lower is seen as a healthy benchmark. Prabhu also seemed to have ruled out the sale of surplus land and other assets of Indian Railways. "We will monetize our resources than sell them for finances," he said, adding: "Business as usual of asking for budgetary support from finance ministry is neither sustainable nor necessary." The minister began with what ails Indian Railways. "Facilities have not improved substantially for the past few decades which is the result of under-investment that affects capacity, leading to poor morale. This fed into vicious cycle of chronic under-investment for a long time." Emphasising that safety, quality of service, standards and efficiency all suffered due to poor financial resources available with the Indian Railways in recent decades, the minister said adding all this further fed into the cycle of poor investment. "This must be put to an end," said the chartered accountant-turned-politician, while presenting the budget for one of the largest railway network in the world. "We have to make our Indian Railways a benchmark organisation in safety, security and infrastructure," he said in a speech peppered with several Hindi couplets. Playing with words, he invoked God (Prabhu) and said: "One of the first things I asked, 'hey prabhu' how will all this be possible." Then, he went on to say that he took it upon the mortal 'Prabhu' to accomplish the task ahead.
US nod to permits for spouses of H-1B visa holders, move brings cheer to Indians
Reuters:Feb 25, 2015
The US government will allow spouses of certain high-tech foreign workers to apply for work permits, an accommodation designed to make things easier for families waiting in long lines for green cards.The regulation for spouses of H-1B visas, first proposed last year and finalised as part of President Barack Obama's package of executive actions on immigration, will take effect starting on May 26."The inability of those spouses until now to apply for employment, to seek and obtain employment, has imposed in many cases significant hardships on the families of H-1B visa holders," said Leon Rodriguez, director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).Swapnil Gupta, a software engineer, described the new regulation as a "great relief."She moved to the United States from India with her husband in 2011 when he was hired with an H-1B visa. Gupta has been unable to work in the United States.I miss my job, I miss my financial independence," she told reporters on a conference call organised by FWD.US, a tech industry immigration lobby group.Australia and Canada have made similar offers to spouses of temporary high-skilled workers in recent years, noted Lynden Melmed, former chief counsel at USCIS. That put pressure on the US government to make the same accommodation, Melmed said, noting the waiting period for green cards can be longer than 10 years in some cases."The inability to work for that period of time is potentially career-ending," said Melmed, now a partner at immigration law firm Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP.The regulation change was one of a half-dozen tweaks that Obama announced in November to address concerns by tech companies that have pushed to lift the cap on H-1B visas and speed up the process for green cards.The USCIS is trying to move as quickly as possible on the other measures, Rodriguez said, declining to offer a more specific timeline.
Mamata Banerjee's entourage member Sibaji Panja arrested in Kolkata on charges of financial irregularities
Feb 22, 2:17 PM
Sibaji Panja, a member of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's entourage coming from Dhaka arrested in Kolkata on charges of financial irregularities. Mr. Panja was detained by the Immigration Department officials at the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata last night, after his return from Bangladesh with the West Bengal Chief Minister.The Commissioner of Vidhan Nagar Commissionerate, Javed Shamim told AIR that Delhi Police had issued look out notice against Mr. Panja in connection with the scam on the 19th of this month and accordingly, all airports of the country and the Immigration Department were alerted. He will be produced before the Barrackpur Court today.
Nitish Kumar to take oath as Bihar CM today, may induct 10 ministers
New Delhi/Patna Feb 22, 2015
Nitish Kumar is all set to take oath as chief minister of Bihar -- for the fourth time -- on Sunday along with 10 ministers in his cabinet. In an article published on NDTV.com ahead of the oath-taking, Kumar wrote, "I believe that Bihar is the state of greatest potential in the country, and the story of developed India is not possible without the story of developed Bihar. I have and will continue to work forever to make this a reality." He also sent a positive message to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. "I will readily work with the honourable Prime Minister and the Government of India in the interest of Bihar," he wrote in the article.Nitish Kumar's JD(U) had parted ways with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in 2014. During the political crisis in Bihar, Kumar had accused the BJP of engineering a split in the ruling JD(U). He had also alleged that PM Modi had a role in the crisis.Kumar held a meeting of JD(U) le gislators, besides those from the allied parties to discuss cabinet formation on Saturday afternoon."Initially, some ministers of the erstwhile Manjhi cabinet will be inducted into the cabinet, which will be expanded after winning the trust vote. Some old ministers are likely to be retained, while some may be dropped for new faces," a JD(U) leader said.The party leadership is also seized with the shape of the ministry, since former minister and dalit leader Ramai Ram has already staked his claim for the post of deputy chief minister. Kumar, who faces immense pressure to appease legislators from his party and allies, can induct a maximum of 35 ministers. While speculations are rife that the allies may join the government, the RJD and Congress are also considering whether it could face any anti-incumbency for remaining in the government for little over six months. BPCC chief Ashok Kumar Choudhary said the Congress would take a decision on joining the government after Nitish Kumar proved his majority on the floor of the house. "We have acquainted the party high command with the latest political situation in the state and would act as per instructions received from it after the trust vote," he said. houdhary said Congress support to Kumar was already there, irrespective of the fact whether it joins his ministry or not. State RJD president Ram Chandra Purve said the decision to join the government would be taken by party chief Lalu Prasad. "Party president Lalu Prasad is the only authorised person to take such policy decisions,” Purbe said, adding “Prasad would be present at Kumar’s swearing in ceremony tomorrow”. The lone CPI MLA Awadhesh Roy also said his party would take the decision on whether to join ministry or continue support from outside while independent member, Dulal Chand Goswami is all set to be part of the ministry. The RJD has 24 members, Congress 5 and CPI 1. The allies and an independent stood solidly behind Kumar throughout the recent political crisis and its MLAs joined JD(U) legislators to take the total to 130. The members were present both at the Raj Bhavan and outside Rashtrapati Bhavan in Delhi to prove their numbers. Security has been tightened outside Raj Bhawan for Kumar’s swearing-in ceremony. VVIPs cars with Z plus security cover will be allowed inside the premises. Other guests invited would have to park their cars outside the Raj Bhawan. The VIPs scheduled to participate in the oath ceremony include West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Assam CM Tarun Gogoi, Uttar Pradesh CM Akhilesh Singh Yadav, former UP CM Mulayam Singh Yadav, RJD chief Lalu Prasad and former PM HD Deve Gowda. The swearing-in ceremony would take place at Raj Bhawan’s Rajendra Mandapam auditorium.
PM Modi, Big B attend Mulayam grandnephew's Saifai 'tilak' event11
Saifai (Etawah) Feb 21, 2015
Prime Minister Narendra Modi walked hand-in-hand and exchanged pleasantries with his political arch-rivals Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Prasad Yadav during a pre-wedding ceremony for the Samajwadi Party chief’s grandnephew in Saifai village on Saturday. Mulayam Singh personally invited Modi to the ‘tilak’ ceremony ahead of his grandnephew Tej Pratap Yadav’s marriage with Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president Lalu Prasad Yadav's youngest daughter Raj Laxmi. Modi spent nearly 20 minutes on a grand stage erected at the SP chief’s native village of Saifai, 25 km from Etawah, in the company of Mulayam Singh and Lalu Prasad, both bitter critics of the prime minister and the NDA government in Delhi. A combination photo of PM Narendra Modi, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and RJD chief Lalu Prasad at Saifai. (Photo: ANI Tweets) The Prime Minister, clad in a pale saffron kurta and a saffron waistcoat, walked hand-in-hand with Mulayam Singh towards the stage. Lalu Prasad, who was already on the stage, joined them and all three waved to the large crowd. The political rivals were seen smiling as they shook hands and chatted in the company of Mulayam Singh’s son, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, and Janata Dal-United president Sharad Yadav. Sitting on a sofa, Modi teased a child from Lalu Prasad's family by tweaking his ears. Arjun, the son of Akhilesh Yadav, sat in Modi's lap for a while. Seconds later, Akhilesh Yadav's daughter Tina too sat in Modi's lap. She was seen giggling at something that the prime minister whispered in her ear. Arjun took photos of Modi with a mobile phone. While Modi was walking off the stage, Lalu Prasad, Mulayam Singh and Sharad Yadav, the top leaders of the so-called Janata Parivaar, held hands and raised them in a mark of solidarity. Modi stayed out of this gesture. Amar Singh, the former national general secretary of the SP who quit the party in 2010, also came to bless Tej. He was followed by Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan, who came with a huge gift.Numerous top politicians from across the country, Bollywood celebrities and captains of industry are expected to attend the ceremony. Members of Mulayam Singh’s family said one lakh invitations had been sent to relatives, local residents, politicians, journalists, judges and dignitaries from different fields.The tilak ceremony is being described as the biggest event ever organised in Saifai. It has made the earlier grand weddings of Mulayam Singh’s sons Akhilesh and Prateek look like minor affairs.Amitabh Bachchan at the 'tilak' ceremony of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's grandnephew, Tej Pratap. (Photo: ANI tweets) SP insiders said a feast has been arranged for 1.5 lakh guest, including 3, 000 VVIPs and VIPs. Three thousand police personal have been deployed for security and 500 luxury Swiss cottages have been set up for the VVIPs.Expert chefs whipped up an array of dishes, including traditional UP and Bihari cuisine and sweets. The menu included ‘sarrata’ (special sour raita), bedai, dahi-ke-aloo, baati-chokha, paneer-filled chola bhature, imarti, jalebi, rabri, sohan halwa, kulfi and moong daal halwa dripping with ghee.
Mulayam Singh, his brother, state minister Shivpal Singh Yadav, and nephew Dharmendra Yadav have been camping in Saifai to oversee preparations for the ceremony.Officials of the local administration and police, including those from Kanpur Zone, have been zipping up and down roads leading to the venue to ensure there are no glitches.Special arrangements were made for Modi and his ministerial colleagues. The dignitaries landed at an airstrip in Saifai, from where they covered a distance of about 11 km by road to reach the
In Jitan Ram Manjhi's Resignation, a Win-Win for BJP in Bihar
Patna, Feb 20.
Jitan Ram Manjhi made a dramatic exit this morning, driving up to the Bihar Governor's residence hours before he was to seek a vote of confidence and resigning as Bihar chief minister. He has recommended that the Governor dissolve the assembly and call fresh elections in Bihar, which is due to vote for a new government later this year. Nitish Kumar of the Janata Dal (United) or JD(U), the man who wants to take over as chief minister, alleged, "The BJP's game plan is exposed. They tried to break the JD(U) and when that did not happen, they took this decision."
Even with the support of the BJP's 87 MLAs, Mr Manjhi faced certain defeat in today's trust vote. By resigning and recommending dissolution of the Assembly, Mr Manjhi hopes to put the ball in the BJP-led Centre's court and take away Nitish Kumar's chance at a comeback as chief minister. The BJP, which had instructed its legislators to vote for Mr Manjhi today, will not be displeased at the turn of events. The party's support was designed to woo the Mahadalits, Mr Manjhi's caste, one of the poorest in Bihar and also a significant votebank.Also, the party wanted to checkmate Nitish Kumar, but, said sources, was not keen to see Mr Manjhi continue as chief minister, given his poor record as an administrator.
Sushil Modi of the BJP said yesterday that Mr Manjhi's winning the trust vote was immaterial. "We are only looking at ensuring that Nitish Kumar's insult to a Mahadalit is not taken lying down," he said. The BJP hopes to win a big majority on its own this time in Bihar, where for years it contested elections as the JD(U)'s junior partner. The two parties aborted a lengthy alliance at the insistence of Mr Kumar ahead of last year's national election. Mr Kumar was opposed to the BJP's decision to select his arch-rival, then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, as its prime ministerial candidate. The JD(U) suffered a rout at the hands of the BJP and its allies and Mr Kumar resigned owning responsibility. The battle for Bihar this year is seen as a BJP vs Nitish Kumar contest. Mr Kumar has now joined hands with his old rivals Lalu Prasad Yadav and the Congress to take on the BJP.
Coast Guard denies blowing up Pak boat, says officer misquoted
New Delhi Feb 18
The Coast Guard on Wednesday denied controversial newspaper reports which quoted a deputy inspector general as claiming he gave orders to blow up a Pakistani boat which infiltrated into Indian waters on new year's eve. Coast Guard deputy director general KR Nautiyal said he has received a written statement from DIG BK Loshali, that he did not subscribe to what was reported in the Indian Express. Loshali too rejected the report at a press conference in Ahmedabad saying, "I do not subscribe to the report. The operation was not being handled by me. I was not privy to it completely. I reiterate the boat set herself on fire and was not sunk by Coast Guard." The newspaper had quoted DIG Loshali as saying he ordered the boat to be blown up, a claim which flew in the face of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar's statement then that Pakistani militants on the boat blew it up after being cornered by Indian forces. "Let me tell you. I hope you remember 31st December night… We blew off that Pakistan… We have blown them off… I was there at Gandhinagar and I told at night, blow the boat off. We don't want to serve them biryani…" the report quoted Loshali as saying. According to the Express, Loshali, who was head of operations in the northwest region was speaking on Monday at a gathering of officials from the coast guard during the launch of a coast guard interceptor boat in Surat. Coast guard DIG Sudhir Sahni, in-charge of refit and production and G Sethy, deputy commandant, who are based in Surat, were also present at the gathering, the English daily said. "The Coast Guard ship warned the fishing boat to stop for further investigation of the crew and cargo; however, the boat increased speed and tried to escape away from the Indian side of maritime boundary. The hot pursuit continued for nearly one hour and the Coast Guard ship managed to stop the fishing boat after firing warning shots. Four persons were seen on the boat who disregarded all warnings by the Coast Guard ship to stop and cooperate with investigation. Soon thereafter, the crew hid themselves in below deck compartment and set the boat on fire, which resulted in explosion and major fire on the boat," the defence ministry had said in a release on January 2. Defence minister Manohar Parrikar had said on January 5 that "circumstantial evidence" indicated the Pakistani boat had suspected terror links. Parrikar had said he would classify them as "suspected or possible terrorists" as the suicidal act of setting the boat on fire after being intercepted showed that they were "committed" and indicated suspected terror
Yuvraj sparks IPL bidding war, goes to Daredevils for record Rs 16 crore
BENGALURU:Feb 16, 2015 Indian left-hander Yuvraj Singh was bought by the Delhi Daredevils for a whopping Rs 16 crore. But in a big surprise, there were no takers for South African opener Hashim Amla after the first round of bidding for marquee players in the IPL auction on Monday. The Indian Premier League (IPL) auction ahead of the eighth season got under way here Monday.
A bidding war between Royal Challengers Bagalore (RCB) and the Daredevils saw Yuvraj's price sky-rocket.
Finally, it was the Delhi franchise that went for the jugular and bid Rs 16 crore for the batsman, who was left out of the India squad for the World Cup. Incidentally, RCB had let go of Yuvraj, the most expensive buy of the last IPL auction, after buying him for Rs.14 crore last time around. Delhi Daredevils also snapped up Sri Lankan ODI captain Angelo Mathews for Rs.7.50 crore. Former Chennai Super Kings (CSK) opener Murali Vijay with a base price of Rs.50 lakh was bought by Kings XI Punjab for Rs.3 crore. Amla, who is currently on national duty with South Africa in the World Cup, averages an incredible 55.93 in 108 One-Day Internationals (ODI) played. He has scored 19 hundreds and 27 fifties with a highest score of 153 out. He also has 23 Test centuries to his name and averages 52.78 in the longest format of the game. He has played 26 Twenty20 internationals, scoring 600 runs at an average of 25. Amla, however, will be presented again later.
India beat Pakistan, make it 6 out of 6 in World Cups
Times, New Delhi Feb 15, 2015
Defending champions India launched their Cricket World Cup campaign in style as they produced a clinical performance to spank Pakistan by 76 runs, maintaining their unbeaten record against the arch-rivals in the mega event.
Here are the highlights of the match in pics.
Once he gets going we all know what Rohit Sharma is capable of. Remember the 264 and the 209? But sometimes Rohit catches a bad case of what cricket fans call 'rush of blood'. At 7.3 overs he plays a pre-decided front-foot hoick to Sohail Khan. The ball gets big on him and all he ends up doing is looping it. Misbah runs in from mid-off to pouch that. Rohit was looking good. Not to be today.
A billion hearts stopped when Virat Kohli pulled a Shahid Afridi ball (10.5) towards long-on. Leggie Yasir Shah ran in from the boundary to his right, all the while not taking his eyes off the ball. He made a diving valiant effort, the ball touches his fingertips. He can’t hold on and India breathes again. Would have been an early contender for best catch of the tournament along with Joe Root's blinder against Australia.
Kohli was dropped again (31.5). Umar Akmal muffled a simple nick the batsman got to a
Haris Sohail ball that turned. The wicketkeeper and bowler are both “part-timers”. Costly miss. Kohli fell after scoring 107. Akmal had the consolation of catching him.
Kohli had started the 2011 World Cup with a century (against Bangladesh). He started this edition with one.
No one has been under more scrutiny that Shikhar Dhawan. Fans were calling for his ouster. The opener ended his poor run with 73 off 76 balls before he was unfortunately run out. His 129-run partnership with Kohli set India on course.
In the first two warm-up matches India missed big partnerships at the top and in the middle. After Dhawan, Raina joined hands with Kohli for a 110-run partnership in 15.3 overs. Raina’s 74 off 56 balls (studded with 5 boundaries and 3 sixes) propelled India’s run rate.
Wickets fell in a heap towards the end and India could not make most of the platform given by Dhawan, Kohli, Raina. Sohail Khan bowled a brilliant last over, picking up two wickets. India reached 300, but could make only 27 in the last 5 overs. What’s more, India lost 5 wickets in this phase.
Mohammed Shami made Younis Khan look ugly with his sharp bouncer. The seasoned batsman looked very ungainly trying to fend it off. He tried to duck, but couldn’t and the attempt at a shot is more self-preservation. The ball hits the glove and lobs up to Dhoni. India make the breakthrough (3.2). Younis goes for 6.
Shami struck twice in the 35th over, getting rid of ‘Boom Boom’ ‘Lala’ Shahid Afridi and Wahab Riaz.
Afridi first. The ball was not special — a high full toss — but the catch from Kohli was. Kohli ran back, looked to have overrun, gathered himself and caught it neat before diving for control. His celebration, arms flung wide, looked like what Afridi does. You have to hand it to Cheeku (Kohli’s nickname) for being cheeky. Afridi went for 22.
The same over, Wahab Riaz fell trying to cut a short and wide one. He edged it to Dhoni and was out for 4. His only scoring shot had been a boundary.
Haris Sohail was looking comfortable out there, but Ravichandran Ashwin was slowly but surely pulling his weight in the game. He scalped Sohail in the 18th over, courtesy a sharp catch by Raina at slip. Moreover, it was a wicket-maiden. Ashwin was one of the key players when India started to put the choke on Pakistan. Sohail who had issues with a ‘ghost’ in a New Zealand hotel room, went for 36.
Umesh Yadav went for plenty in his opening spell, but redeemed himself in style in the 24th over. He bowled one short and wide (23.2) to the well settled Ahmed Shehzad, who lashed out, but fatally in the air. Jadeja nearly dropped the ball before making sure he had it safe in his left hand. Shehzad fell for 47.
In comes Sohaib Maqsood. Defends one. Out next ball. He tried to force a wide, shortish ball from Yadav and ball flies to Raina at slip. Maqsood walks back with a duck for his poor effort.
Umar Akmal is a very exciting player. Today was not his day. Had a torrid match, both as a wicketkeeper (part-time role) and with the bat. He gave Pakistan no joy when he dropped Kohli. He finally caught Kohli, but by then the batsman had hit a ton.
He lasted four balls with the bat. There was an edge to Jadeja in the 25th over which did not show even on snicko. Dhoni was confident straight away and was proved right. The ball’s seam seemed to have altered path while passing his bat. The benefit of the doubt? Not today. Duck it was.
Why India loves cricket World Cup
Times, New Delhi Feb 15, 2015
For both the modern Indian cricketer and fan, the allure of the World Cup is unique. It is, quite simply, the apogee of the game that defines the world's populous democracy.
During an interview with this newspaper, Sachin Tendulkar had told me that his greatest moment on a cricket field was winning the World Cup in 2011. Not the hundred at Perth in 1991 or the debut century at Old Trafford or one of many, many stellar achievements in a career without parallel.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni ranks India's exit in the group stages in 2007 as his worst moment on a cricket field. Not being eviscerated 0-4 and 0-4 by England and Australia in successive Test series. Not losing 1-2 at home in Tests to England in 2012. Being knocked out in the group stages in World Cup, he felt, was the lowest ebb of his career.
Most Indian fans, always oscillating between extravagant hope and deep despair, excitable and demanding, scale the greatest heights of frenzy and overreaction during this tournament. The World Cup provides a quadrennial occasion unlike any other for the outpouring of jingoism, hysteria and mass participation. The attraction of ODI cricket may on occasion pale beside the wham-bang of Twenty20, but the place of the World Cup in the fan's heart is secure, inviolable.
To understand why this is so, we have to go back to a sun-splashed glorious summer's afternoon in London nearly 32 years ago. 25 June, 1983. The World Cup final in which India beat the reigning champions, the West Indies. Batting first, India scored 183. The West Indies, the most formidable team in world cricket by some distance, looked set to overtake that without even breaking into a canter. Viv Richards, his eyes alight with the intent of slaughter, was being imperious as only he could.
And then Richards pulled Madan Lal, miscued it a fraction, the ball traced a parabola and Kapil Dev ran backwards, ran, ran with the sun in his eyes and our hearts in our hands, till he had the ball in his cupped palms. The beginning of the end for the champions. The beginning of the beginning of India's great love affair with the World Cup. Later there was the spray of champagne from the balcony, the droplets catching and refracting the late afternoon sunlight. A group of men smiled like they had never smiled before. Kapil's Devils. World champions.
Kapil Dev, Indian cricket captain, receives the Prudential World Cup Trophy after India's victory over the West Indies in the World Cup Final at Lord's cricket ground in London, 25th June 1983. India won by 43 runs. (Photo: Getty Images)
An unlikely triumph, and more famous for being so unlikely. It made us realise that we had hitherto paid little attention to limited-overs cricket not because we disliked it or were purists, but because we had not been any good at it. 25 June, 1983, changed Indian cricket for ever. Not merely that. It changed the Indian fan's relationship with cricket for ever.
That redefined relationship was in tumultuous evidence across the country on 2 April, 2011, as India won the World Cup again. The jubilation spilled over from homes and bars to major thoroughfares and parks across the country as a stomping, honking, roiling mass of humanity celebrated. Every four years, Indian fans go into a frenzy; they hope that, yes, this year will be ours, and it never was, not quite in the way they wanted it to be theirs, till that sultry spring night at Mumbai's Wankhede stadium.
Just as Kapil will always be captive to that image of his on the Lord's balcony, toothy grin, arms wrapped around a trophy no Indian had at the time imagined getting his hands on, Dhoni will forever be defined by the image that captures the lofted six that brought India the winning runs: the expansive backswing, the eyes fever bright, pupils dilated at the point of ferocious impact, the enormous follow through of the bat, the ball soaring, becoming a white speck in the dark night sky.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina leave the field after winning a one-day international at the Asia Cup cricket match in Dhaka in 2012. (AFP Photo)
An awful lot has changed in Indian cricket since April 2011. Only three players from that World Cup winning squad - Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina - figure in the current one. There is no Yuvraj, player of the 2011 tournament. This is the first World Cup since 1992 in which the team has not a single member of India's golden generation of cricketers. Dhoni, who reached the peak of his career with that triumph, has been stumbling and sliding his way downwards. He is no longer India's Test captain. And he is certainly playing his last World Cup.
Today's team is brimming with explosive young talent and potential. Rohit, Dhawan, Rahane and Kohli (who has been racking up ODI records in the way a globe-trotting CEO racks up air miles) are all proven match winners. Add to that Dhoni, the finest ODI finisher India has ever had, and you ought to have a formidable line-up. If only they were not so infuriatingly inconsistent: they have blown not so much hot and cold as hot and glacial. On occasion they have looked as out of place against decent opposition as a man who is used to a leisurely swim on Sunday mornings would at an Olympic event.
They won the Champions Trophy in England in 2013.They beat England in the ODI series in England in 2014, the first win for India in a bilateral series in England in 24 years. And yet they won not an ODI in South Africa and New Zealand last year. They won nothing in the recent tri-series in Australia.
The bowling, riven with injuries, is looking fragile. The fast bowlers are either not fast enough or are erring in line and length in trying to be fast enough. The spinners need to attack rather than contain. Staunching the flow of runs in the final overs will be something India will worry about. In a warm up game, India failed to bowl out even Afghanistan, who had clattered away to 153 for 2 at one stage. The batting has often launched spectacular assaults in the past 12 months; but the bowlers need to avoid making the sort of mess that cannot be cleaned up by aggressive batting.
The World Cup returns to Australia and New Zealand 23 years after the tournament that saw the birth of the modern ODI as we know it. That edition introduced coloured clothes, white balls, pinch hitters, opening the bowling with spinners. It was, as Martin Crowe wrote in a recent essay on ESPNcricinfo, the time when "one-day cricket was its freshest and most unpredictable".
The lexicon of the game has evolved a great deal since 1992 (we now have the switch hit, the scoop shot, the power play and plenty more), as has the game itself. The Twenty20 format has infused the 50-overs game with an armoury of strokes that would have been unthinkable in those days. Approaches to batting have changed. What a team would have considered a more than respectable in 1992 - 264 - was scored by Rohit Sharma in one innings last year.
In these times of batting porno with heavier bats and shortened boundaries, it now seems only a matter of time before a side breaches Fortress Five Hundred in an innings.
What this World Cup has in common with the 1992 tournament, though, is unpredictability. It will be the most close-run tournament of recent times. South Africa, despite their strength, cannot be called favourites because they carry the tag of chokers in big tournaments. Australia are a cracking side, but they are surely not invincible. New Zealand, with home advantage, will be a handful. The West Indies and Pakistan are as likely to be in disarray as deadly. England are playing their best ODI cricket in years.
And notwithstanding the fact that they will have to adjust to alien conditions, Sri Lanka are always capable of springing a surprise or two. The open nature of the tournament was revealed in the warm up games in which New Zealand walloped South Africa; Zimbabwe humbled Sri Lanka; and Pakistan comfortably beat England. Any team, really, is capable of beating any other on any given day. There is no single dominant side such as Australia at the turn of this century or the West Indies in the early years of the World Cup.
When the competition was last held in Australia and New Zealand, India failed to make it to the semi-finals. What will it be like this time around? The fan will always hope. (And proclaiming that we don't stand a chance, that it will be dire, is also a kind of hoping, an assumption that if we are pessimistic, the opposite is likely to happen.) The format is such that it is reasonably certain that India, along with the other seven top Test-playing teams, will make it to the quarter finals.
After that, two good days. A few of the batsmen do what they are capable of, the bowlers get it a bit right, perhaps the opposition has a day off, and we can see ourselves in the final. On the other hand, one bad game and the story is over. Till 2019. When millions of adoring cricket fans will again start getting caught up in the fever that is peculiar to the World Cup, hoping that, yes, this year will be ours.
AAP govt takes charge: Kejriwal, 6 ministers sworn in
NEW DELHI, 14 Feb. Tens of thousands packed the sprawling Ramlila Maidan where AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal ook oath on Saturday as Delhi's chief minister for a second time in 14 months.
It was only the second swearing in of a Delhi CM to be held in the open. Kejriwal's first swearing-in ceremony in 2013 was also held in the open.
Families of senior AAP members, including Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia, attended the ceremony.
Cheering Aam Aadmi Party supporters started flocking to the ground in the heart of the capital right from the morning, and excitement ran high whenever a prominent party leader was spotted.
READ ALSO: AAP govt likely to resume work from where it left a year ago
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While most AAP activists and supporters were from Delhi, large numbers also came from other states, particularly neighbouring Haryana.
Thousands of police and paramilitary personnel deployed at the venue, which had a fresh look, had a tough time as the crowds began to swell just after 9am.
Many in the gathering waved the Indian tricolour and others the AAP flag. Many held large photographs of Kejriwal, who led the AAP to a thumping win in the Delhi assembly election, sweeping 67 of the 70 seats.
The Bharatiya Janata Party was left hanging with just three seats. The Congress, which had ruled Delhi for 15 long years until the December 2013 election that brought the AAP to power for the first time, was wiped out.
"This is a victory of the people," said AAP leader Dilip Pandey. "We were in a bad shape after the Lok Sabha election and we knew we had to stand up again. We were determined."
Kejriwal's earlier government, backed by the Congress, collapsed in just 49 days when he resigned. The AAP could not win any of the seven Lok Sabha seats last year.
Six ministers — Manish Sisodia, Satyendra Jain, Gopal Rai, Asim Mohammad Khan, Sandeep Kumar and Jitendra Singh Tomar — were also sworn in.
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BJP's chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi, who lost the election, earlier tweeted: "Today is the day of celebration and reflection. When both the processes are done with true responsibility and commitment, India is the real winner."
Earlier, hundreds of people gathered outside Kejriwal's Girnar Tower apartment complex at Kaushambi in nearby Ghaziabad raising slogans hailing the new Delhi chief minister and the AAP.
Besides Sisodia, party leaders Sanjay Singh, Ashish Khaitan and Kumar Vishwas reached there in the morning.
Many danced on the streets to drum beats. The police had a tough time controlling the crowd.
PM Modi won't be able to attend Kejriwal's swearing-in ceremony: Sisodia
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not be able to attend Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convenor and Delhi chief minister-designate Arvind Kejriwal's oath taking ceremony on Saturday, party leader Manish Sisodia said on Thursday after a meeting with the PM.The meeting which took place at the Prime Minister's 7 Race Course Road residence lasted half an hour and was described as cordial."Unfortunately PM Modi will not be able to attend Arvind ji's oath taking ceremony," Sisodia, who accompanied Kejriwal, told reporters after the meeting with Modi.Kejriwal extended an invitation to Modi for the ceremony but the PM is scheduled to travel to Maharashtra to inaugurate the new Krishi Vigyan Kendra building in Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar's stronghold of Baramati on Saturday."We had a good talk with the PM and told him there is a full majority government at the Centre and in Delhi and this is a golden opportunity. It is an opportune time to grant full statehood to Delhi," said Sisodia.He said the PM assured them that the Centre will think on the issue of giving full statehood to Delhi.
Kejriwal's meeting with the PM comes a day after he met Union home minister Rajnath Singh and urban affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu and sought full statehood for Delhi.Speaking to home minister Singh, Kejriwal also underlined the need for "constructive cooperation" between the central and the Delhi governments and noted that political differences should not come in the way of taking the city forward.Kejriwal will also invite his one-time colleague and former IPS officer Kiran Bedi, who was the BJP's CM candidate in the Delhi polls. Bedi too had congratulated Kejriwal asking him to make Delhi a world-class city.The AAP won 67 seats in the 70-member Delhi House on Tuesday, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) managed a distant second place with merely three seats. The Congress, reeling from a string of defeats since it was routed in the Lok Sabha polls, did not even open its account.In the run-up to the Delhi polls, the battle for the city-state saw a fierce war of words between the PM, who added thunder to the BJP's campaign, and Kejriwal, who lost to Modi in Varanasi in the April-May general elections.But, Modi congratulated Kejriwal after the AAP's poll triumph and promised him Centre's co-operation in the development of Delhi.
Kejriwal springs cabinet surprise, drops four former ministers; Sisodia likely deputy CM
Hindustan Times, New Delhi Feb 12, 2015
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) sprang a surprise on Thursday by re-appointing just two of the six ministers who were part of the Arvind Kejriwal-led government last year.Kejriwal's close aide and Patparganj MLA Manish Sisodia will feature in the new cabinet -- and he is likely to get the deputy CM's post. Sisodia was the minister for education, PWD, urban development and local bodies in 2013. He is expected to deliver a better school system.Satyendra Jain (Shakur Basti), who came into the limelight for spot checks in Delhi government hospitals in AAP’s last cabinet as the health minister, will also be retained. He has been associated with Kejriwal from the days of Anna Hazare's anti-corruption agitation.The new ministers are: Asim Ahmed (Matia Mahal), Jitendra Tomar (Trinagar), Gopal Rai (Babarpur) and Sandeep Kumar (Sultanpur). The Delhi government has the provision for six ministers.Former ministers Somnath Bharti, Rakhi Birla, Girish Soni (AAP's Dalit face) and Saurabh Bhardwaj were given the sack.A controversial figure, Bharti ran into trouble in January last year after conducting a raid on an alleged 'sex and drug racket' in south Delhi. The episode snowballed into a major controversy, triggering a tug of war between the AAP and Delhi Police. Birla was also a controversial face when the party was in power last time.Ram Niwas Goel (Shahdara) will be the assembly Speaker in the 70-member House, while Bandana Kumari (Shalimar Bagh) will be the deputy Speaker.Chief minister-designate Kejriwal will take oath at Ramlila Maidan — which was witness to his swearing-in ceremony last year as well, when his AAP supported by the Congress had formed a government that lasted for 49 days.The AAP won 67 seats in the 70-member Delhi House on Tuesday, while the Bharatiya Janata Party managed a distant second place with merely three seats. The Congress, reeling from a string of defeats since it was routed in the Lok Sabha polls, did not even open its account.
Bihar crisis: Nitish camp submits letter of support to guv, but Manjhi says his 'boat never sinks'
Hindustan Times, New Delhi/Patna Feb 08, 2015
Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi is likely to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday evening, a day after Janata Dal (United) MLAs elected Nitish Kumar as the leader of the legislature party.
The ongoing political crisis in Bihar may feature in the talks between the two leaders expected to be held around 5pm. Manjhi is in Delhi to attend a meeting of the newly formed NITI Aayog.
Amid speculations over his political career, the Bihar CM, however, put up a brave face. "Manjhi ki nao kabhi nahin dubti hain (Manjhi's boat never sinks)," he said, playing with his surname Manjhi (which means sailor). But he declined to make any further comment.
Sources close to Manjhi, who has refused to step down from his post in the face of a power tussle, said he wanted the BJP to support his case against Nitish, his one-time mentor.
Meanwhile, clearing the decks for the formation of a government under the chief ministership of Nitish Kumar, a delegation of leaders from the JD(U) and other allies submitted letters of support to the governor's office.
"We went to the Raj Bhawan and submitted letters of support of 130 MLAs, including those from RJD, Congress, CPI and independent MLA Dulalchand Goswami, in favour of the newly elected JD(U) legislator party leader Nitish Kumar," state JD(U) president Bashistha Narayan Singh said.
Grappling with the crisis within, JD(U) spokesperson KC Tyagi said, "The fact is BJP president Amit Shah is working overtime to engineer a split in our party, like he is doing with TMC."
The Manjhi camp in Bihar said on Saturday that it could go with the BJP to retain control of the government, if needed.
"We are clear on this. If the BJP is ready to support us, we will take its support," said Narendra Singh, the senior-most minister in the camp.
In Delhi, Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah discussed the developments in Bihar after Manjhi recommended the dissolution of the state assembly and the JD (U) hit back by sacking him as the legislature party leader.
Shah also met Bihar's former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi and held discussions with him and other leaders from the state.
Although the BJP is keen to exploit the crisis within the JD(U) to consolidate its position in Bihar, it is also wary about propping up Manjhi, whose tenure has been criticised by its state unit for poor governance.
The lack of support for the Mahadalit leader within his own party may dissuade the BJP from coming out openly to back Manjhi as it believes that numbers in the Bihar assembly clearly favour Nitish.
The fault lines in the ruling JD(U) in Bihar widened after Manjhi sacked 15 ministers opposed to him late on Saturday evening, just before leaving for Delhi. Earlier, he had shown the door to two pro-Nitish ministers.
The bitter power tussle between Manjhi and his mentor Nitish has split the party wide open with just months to go for polls.
Manhji's recommendation for dissolution of the assembly was ostensibly aimed at cutting off the route for Nitish's return as the CM, a post he had relinquished after the party's trouncing in the Lok Sabha polls last year.
"The entire party supported Manjhi when we decided to make him the chief minister but the people of Bihar are upset with the way he has been functioning," Nitish told party workers after the legislature party meet convened by national president Sharad Yadav.
Nitish later said he would stake claim to form the government before governor Keshri Nath Tripathi and parade 130 legislators, if required. The JD(U) has 115 MLAs in the assembly, though only 97 attended the legislature party meeting.
The fast-paced developments landed Bihar back in a stalemate with the spotlight focused on the governor, who would have to decide between Manjhi's recommendations or accept the pro-Nitish lobby's claim to form the government.
"The governor has wide discretionary powers. I will examine all the aspects and situations before I prepare an opinion to forward to the governor in this regard," said YV Giri, the advisor to the governor.
Bedi 'confident', Kejriwal slams 'liquor bribe', Maken predicts 'surprise': Here's who said what
Times, New Delhi,pdated: Feb 07 As voting picked up in Delhi on Saturday morning, leaders from different political parties traded charges as the high-voltage fight for the national capital intensified.The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which appears favourite after opinion poll predictions, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) both exuded confidence about a victory.In his signature style, the former Delhi chief minister turned the heat on his rivals as he came out to vote."Last night liquor and money was distributed. People of Delhi know which party did this… Don't vote for them," Kejriwal said without naming any party."People want freedom from corruption, bribery and I am hopeful they will vote accordingly."Striking a positive note, Kejriwal said, ""I am confident that AAP will win the elections and form government in Delhi."Kejriwal is seeking re-election from the prestigious New Delhi constituency where he had handed down a crushing defeat"I am confident that truth will win, people will win. And the people will vote this time to get rid of corruption and inflation," he said.The BJP's chief ministerial candidate cast her vote at a polling booth in Uday Park, south Delhi, and asked people to opt for "clean, literate and safe Delhi"."Today is a historic day for Delhiites. It's the day for them to decide what type of Delhi they want," Bedi said."I am confident… looking forward to a new Delhi. I will work till the end. We have to make Delhi a world-class city."Turning the tables on the AAP, she alleged the rookie party's supporters were threatening people against voting for the BJP in Krishna Nagar, Bedi's constituency and a saffron party stronghold.
Union minister Harsh Vardhan cast his ballot along with his mother in Krishna Nagar and said he was "confident of BJP's win" in the Delhi assembly election.Vardhan, who was BJP's chief ministerial candidate in thre last assembly election, said that it would be a "historic win for the BJP".On being asked about pre-poll surveys showing the AAP has an edge, Vardhan said: "We have not seen that in reality. I am 100% confident that the BJP will win, and I don't want to comment on these poll surveys till the results come out."Nupur Sharma, BJP candidate from the New Delhi constituency who is fighting against Kejriwal, said she was also "confident of the BJP's victory ".Despite the Delhi elections being considered a straight fight between the BJP and the AAP, Congress campaign chief Ajay Maken said, "The Congress can deliver on its promises in Delhi.""I am very hopeful that Congress is going to do exceedingly well and we are going to form government on our own. People are in for a big shock and surprise on February 10 (the result day)," he told reporters as he showed his inked finger at a Rajouri Garden polling booth."We have confined ourselves in raising real issues. Unlike other parties, we have not resorted to petty politics.""Delhi being a Union Territory has multiplicity of authority and complex and administrative issues unlike other states. We need set of people and a chief minister who can wade through these issues and provide good governance," the Congress leader said.The former Delhi chief minister told reporters that leaders were talking less about programmes mentioned in their manifestos."No, it may be your perception (regarding the Congress being in the election race) but the time has changed ... and the Congress is very much in the race," she added.Vice president Hamid Ansari, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, AAP's Kejriwal, BJP's Bedi and Union minister Vardhan were among the early voters. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who cast his vote at a polling booth on Aurangzeb lane, refused to speak to reporters.More than 12,000 polling stations, of which 714 have been identified as "critical" and 191 "highly critical" have been set up across the Capital. Over 64,000 police personnel had been deployed across the city to ensure free and fair polls. As many as 673 candidates are in the fray.Political parties are desperate for a clear verdict, pleading with voters with slogans like 'Poorn Bahumat (absolute majority)', 'Sthir Sarkar (stable government)', 'Chalo chale Modi ke sath (Let's go with Modi)' and Paanch Sal Kejriwal (Five years for Kejriwal)'.It has been a hard-fought campaign, a year after the Kejirwal-led government hastened the flashpoint on Jan Lokpal Bill and abandoned the people's verdict.
Meet Subrata Roy's bailer: Stole database, allegedly forged loan papers
New York/Mumbai Feb 05, 2015
Subrata Roy, the boss of the Sahara conglomerate, is in Tihar jail on contempt-of-court charges and needs to post $1.6 billion in bail to get out. To help raise the money, Sahara is in talks to refinance its overseas hotels, including New York's Plaza.
The only problem: It's unclear if the man who's orchestrating the deal, a 34-year-old former broker named Saransh Sharma, has the money to pull it off.Sahara's head of corporate finance, Sandeep Wadhwa, said Sahara's lawyers had verified with Bank of America that Sharma has deposited just over $1 billion in an account at the bank that is "earmarked for the said transaction." That account, however, doesn't appear to exist. A manager at the bank told Reuters that he didn't write a crucial document attributed to him: an email, sent in his name to Sahara, which purported to verify the account's existence. After Reuters asked the bank to look into the account, spokesperson Jumana Bauwens issued a statement saying: "Bank of America isn't involved in the transaction."What's more, Sharma, who lives in San Jose, California, has admitted to stealing a database from a former employer. There are also two pending lawsuits against him alleging he forged a letter and produced fake documents to obtain a loan.Bank of America's assertion that it has nothing to do with the deal, as well as details about Sharma's past, could throw a wrench into Sahara's efforts to free Roy in a case that has made headlines in India for almost a year. Roy is being held at Tihar jail on contempt charges for failing to comply with a court order to repay investors in a bond scheme later ruled to be illegal. The bail amount reflects the cost of the illegal scheme, estimated by Indian regulators to be as much as $7 billion.A lawyer working for Sahara, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the company's lawyers had not separately checked with Bank of America to see whether Sharma had a billion-dollar account with the bank. Instead, the lawyer said, Sahara relied on a letter from the bank saying the funds were there. Sahara declined to comment on the lawyer's assertion.Sharma told Reuters he is backed by a group of US and UK investors for the refinancing and that the funds in the account have come from them. Both he and Sahara declined to identify the investors.Sharma, who spoke with Reuters on January 23 and sent a subsequent email on January 28, said in an emailed statement on Wednesday that Mirach had faced "a number of challenges in closing this transaction" and that he wouldn't disclose "sensitive details" about the deal until it closes. Under the proposed deal, which Sharma said he reached with Sahara in December, Sharma's investor group would help pay off about $880 million of a Bank of China loan for the hotels. Besides the Plaza, which Sahara bought for about $570 million in 2012, the properties also include the Dream Hotel in downtown New York and the Grosvenor House in London.
Sharma and the investor group also agreed to lend $650 million to Sahara and make a $450 million investment in the conglomerate's properties. Sahara and Sharma have said they expect to finalize the deal by February 20. It is unclear how paying off the Bank of China loan, or obtaining the loan and investment, would help Sahara pay Roy's bail and refund money to the bond investors.Sahara's businesses range from financial services to media, retail and real estate. The company used to sponsor the Indian cricket team, which helped to make it a household name in the country. During his heyday, Roy, 66, socialized with presidents and film stars. Seen as a maverick among business elite, his self-appointed title is "Managing Worker," and he's known in the company as "Saharasri," or "Mr. Sahara."Sahara's troubles started in 2011 when it was found by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), to have illegally sold billions of dollars of bonds to investors. After a legal battle that reached the Supreme Court, Sahara was ordered to refund investors the money. The Supreme Court threw Roy in jail last March after he failed to appear at a contempt hearing related to the dispute with the regulator and set his $1.6 billion bail. Sahara has said that it has repaid most investors, a claim Sebi has disputed. Since Roy's imprisonment, Sahara has been trying to raise cash. It has been reporting its progress to the court and regulators, and needs approvals from them to do these transactions.Sahara told the Supreme Court last month that it is in talks with Mirach Capital, the company Sharma set up to do the deal with Sahara. Sahara has shown the court a January 5 letter from Bank of America, saying it is holding $1.05 billion in funds in an account on behalf of Mirach Capital for Sahara, according to a court filing. Sahara and Sharma declined to show Reuters a copy of the letter.Reuters has seen an email, dated December 17, sent in the name of Nuno Marques, a Bank of America banking center manager in Wellington, Florida, to Sahara finance executive Wadhwa. In the email, the writer attests that Mirach "has sufficient liquidity with Bank of America to undertake the said transactions" with Sahara. The email does not specify the amount of funds Mirach has, but says the money would be put into escrow after anti-money laundering-related checks.Marques, contacted by Reuters for comment on February 3 at his office in Florida, denied having written the December 17 e-mail. He said he had been called by another Bank of America employee to verify whether there were Mirach Capital funds on deposit and that he told her he couldn't do so.Sahara declined to comment further, saying it was bound by "strict confidentiality provisions" as part of the talks with Mirach. Shekhar Naphade, an independent lawyer advising the Supreme Court on the case against Roy, said he had "no concrete details about the Bank of America escrow account" beyond the letter submitted by Sahara. Naphade said he didn't have the means to independently verify the claim made by Sharma about the bank account.Sources familiar with the Reserve Bank of India's investigations into Sahara said the regulator had not received a request from the Supreme Court to probe whether the money is in the Bank of America account, but was making some initial checks of its own.Sources familiar with Sebi said if the hotel deal does not go through, government officials would seize and sell Sahara assets, including its hotels and properties, to raise cash.Sharma has spent the past decade working on and off for small independent brokerages in the United States, a Reuters review of US regulatory filings shows. In 2013, Sharma sued a US hedge fund for alleged breach of contract. In a December 15, 2013, deposition in a New York federal civil court case, Sharma admitted to fabricating an email; to selling for $10,000 a database of contacts he stole from a previous employer, the investment bank AllianceBernstein; and to lying about the sources of funds he had obtained. A spokesperson for AllianceBernstein declined to comment. Sharma's case was dismissed. Sharma confirmed his statements made in the deposition, but said he had learned from his past mistakes A lawsuit filed by private equity firm Disruptive Technology Associates in August 2013 alleges Sharma forged a letter from the Bank of the West, saying that he had $400,000 in an account with the San Francisco based lender. A spokesperson for Bank of the West declined to comment. Another lawsuit filed by hedge fund Midwest Energy Resources in November 2013 alleges that he produced fake documents showing he owned pre-IPO shares in Twitter Inc that he planned to use as collateral for a loan. Sharma denies that allegation.Sharma said the lawsuits have no bearing on the Sahara talks and that the suits were filed by people who are after his family's money. He told Reuters his family lived in Oman where his father was a doctor for the royal family.
Sharma said that he first connected Sahara's Wadhwa through business networking site LinkedIn. A Sahara spokesperson confirmed on Wadhwa's behalf that Sharma had first approached the Sahara executive through LinkedIn.
Sharma told Reuters that he would bear the transaction costs for the deal and get a finder's fee, but is not investing in the deal. He said he was working with Paul Hastings lawyer Rick Kirkbride on the transaction.
At least 11 dead as Taiwan plane cartwheels into river on take-off
Taipei, Taiwan | Feb 04, 2015
At least 11 people were killed and up to 19 were missing after a Taiwanese TransAsia Airways plane with 58 passengers and crew on board crashed into a river shortly after taking off from a downtown Taipei airport on Wednesday, officials said.
As many as 28 people however appeared to have escaped miraculously from the crash after the plane lurched sickeningly between buildings, clipped an overpass with its port-side wing and crashed upside down in the shallow river.
Dramatic pictures taken by a motorist and posted on Twitter showed the plane cartwheeling over the motorway soon after the turboprop ATR 72-600 aircraft took off in apparently clear weather on a domestic flight for the island of Kinmen.
Television footage showed survivors wearing life jackets wading and swimming clear of wreckage. Others, including a young child, were taken to shore by rescuers.
Emergency rescue officials in inflatable boats crowded around the partially submerged fuselage of flight GE235, lying on its side in the river, trying to help those on board.
Taiwan's fire department classified 10 of the passengers as showing "no sign of life" and one killed. Twenty-eight people had been rescued, it said in a text message, leaving 19 still unaccounted for.
Other Taiwanese government authorities said the plane was carrying 58 passengers and crew, including 31 tourists from mainland China.
The plane appeared to miss apartment buildings by metres. Footage showed a van skidding to a halt on the damaged overpass after barely missing the plane's wing, with small pieces of the aircraft scattered along the road.
The chief executive of TransAsia, Chen Xinde, bowed deeply at a televised news conference as he apologised to passengers and crew.
The last communication from one of the aircraft's pilots was "Mayday Mayday engine flameout", according to an air traffic control recording on liveatc.net.
A flameout occurs when the fuel supply to the engine is interrupted or when there is faulty combustion, resulting in an engine failure. Twin-engined aircraft, however, are usually able to keep flying even when one engine has failed.
Taipei's downtown Songshan airport, the smaller of the city's two airports, provides mostly domestic flights but also connections to Japan, China and South Korea.
A statement from China's Taiwan Affairs Office said 31 one of those on board were tourists from the southeastern city of Xiamen, which lies close to Taiwan's Kinmen island.
The crash is the latest in a string of mishaps to hit Asian carriers in the past 12 months. An AirAsia jet bound for Singapore crashed soon after taking off from the Indonesian city of Surabaya on Dec. 28, killing all 162 people on board.
Also last year, a Malaysia Airlines jet disappeared and one of its sister planes was downed over Ukraine with a combined loss of 539 lives.
TransAsia is Taiwan's third-largest carrier. One of its ATR 72-500 planes crashed while trying to land at Penghu Island last July, killing 48 of the 58 passengers and crew on board.
Taiwan has had a poor aviation safety record in recent years, including the disintegration of a China Airlines 747 on a flight from Taipei to Hong Kong in 2002, killing 225. In 1998, a China Airlines A300 crashed while trying to land at Taipei's main international airport, killing 196.
In 2000, a Singapore Airlines jetliner taking off for Los Angeles during a storm hit construction equipment on the runway, killing at least 77 people.
The plane involved in Wednesday's mishap was among the first of the ATR 72-600s, the latest variant of the turboprop aircraft, that TransAsia received in 2014 as part of an order of eight aircraft two years earlier.
The 72-seat aircraft are mainly used to connect the capital, Taipei, with smaller cities and islands.
ATR is a joint venture between Airbus and Alenia Aermacchi, a subsidiary of Italy's Finmeccanica.
AAP leads last leg of Delhi polls, HT survey finds Arvind Kejriwal most-preferred as Delhi CM
Hindustan Times, New Delhi Feb 03, 2015: e Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has taken a decisive lead of nine seats over the BJP, a latest Hindustan Times-C fore survey predicts four days before Delhi votes to have an elected government after a year of President’s Rule. The Bedi induction seems to have caused only a minor spike in the BJP’s overall declining trend; if things get worse, the Kiran tactic will have backfired on the BJP. The survey, conducted between January 27 and February 1, projects 36-41 seats for the Arvind Kejriwal-led party, and 27-32 seats for the BJP, with the Congress seen sliding to between 2 and 7 seats. The AAP is also ahead of the BJP by three percentage points in terms of vote share. Pollsters interviewed a total 3,578 voters across Delhi, roughly half of them women. Delhi votes on February 7, but the results will only be known three days later. BJP’s Bedi, her associate-turned rival Arvind Kejriwal of the AAP and Congress’s Ajay Maken have been chosen by their parties to lead them in the prestigious battle for the capital. In the last leg of the campaign, the BJP has decided to get aggressive with rallies by PM Narendra Modi. Having released their manifesto, AAP leaders, including Kejriwal, are also holding back-to-back public meetings.Bedi’s campaigning seems to have backfired for the BJP as a previous round of HT-C fore survey (conducted between January 24 and 27) gave 31-36 seats to both parties. In the 70-member assembly, with 36 being the simple majority mark, BJP, AAP and Congress had won 32, 28 and 8 seats respectively in 2013 elections. This resulted in the installation of a brief, minority AAP government with Congress' support.Former chief minister Kejriwal is the preferred choice for the post of chief minister with 46% people backing him, followed by Bedi (37%) and Maken (9%). Between the two surveys, Kejriwal’s popularity has gone up by three percentage points. It’s a two percentage-point loss for Bedi. The AAP is also seen doing better than the BJP in terms of its support across class, gender and age divides. The latest survey shows AAP vote share is going up by 11 percentage points while it’s only 4 for the BJP and loss of 10 percentage points for Congress compared to the 2013 elections. In 2013, the BJP’s vote share was 33% followed by the AAP’s 29.4% and Congress’s 24.5%. The AAP is ahead of the BJP by two percentage points in terms of support from male voters, the lead is of 6 percentage points as for support from female voters.Fifty-nine per cent of those with incomes of more than Rs 3 lakh per year said they would vote for BJP, while AAP has support from only 25% voters from this group. In case of those earning less than Rs 1 lakh per year, the AAP is ahead of BJP by 43 percentage points. Even in case of those earning between Rs 1-2 lakh per year, the Kejriwal-led party is decisively ahead.Forty-two per cent of those above 50 years of age support the AAP, while only 39% from this group favour the BJP. In the age groups of 18-25 and 26-35, the AAP is leading by 7 and 5 percentage points, respectively.
Church in Delhi's Vasant Kunj area vandalized
NEW DELHI: Feb 2, 2015 A church in south Delhi's Vasant Kunj area was found vandalized on Monday morning. Police have recovered the CCTV footages from the church which shows two of the three miscreants who had entered the church. According to an official from the St Alphonsa Church, the miscrients had removed the ciborium and emptied it onto a table. The men had entered the church by climbing over the boundary wall at around 3am. The men were also seen punching at a glass pane which houses an idol. Police said that efforts are being made to identify the accused.
Japan outraged as video purportedly shows hostage beheaded
Feb 1, 2015,
TOKYO: Japan condemned with outrage and horror on Sunday, after an online video that purported to show an Islamic State group militant beheading Japanese journalist Kenji Goto. The video posted on militant websites late Saturday Middle East time ended days of negotiations to save Goto, a 47-year-old journalist, and heightened fears for the life of a Jordanian fighter pilot also held hostage. "I feel indignation over this immoral and heinous act of terrorism," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters after convening an emergency Cabinet meeting. "When I think of the grief of his family, I am left speechless," he said. "The government has been doing its utmost in responding to win his release, and we are filled with deep regret."Abe vowed that Japan will not give in to terrorism and will continue to provide humanitarian aid to countries fighting the Islamic State extremists. The defense minister, Gen Nakatani, said that a report from the foreign affairs chief of Japan's police agency deemed the video "highly likely to be authentic." Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to the media at his official residence in Tokyo February 1, 2015 after Islamic State militants released a video on Saturday which purported to show the beheading of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto. (Reuters photo) The country was mourning a man who according to friends and family braved hardship and peril to convey through his work the plight of refugees, children and other victims of war and poverty. "Kenji has died, and my heart is broken. Facing such a tragic death, I'm just speechless," Goto's mother Junko Ishido told reporters. "I was hoping Keji might be able to come home," said Goto's brother, Junichi Goto. "I was hoping he would return and thank everyone for his rescue, but that's impossible, and I'm bitterly disappointed." Ishido earlier told NHK TV her son's death showed he was a kind, gentle man, trying to save another hostage. That hostage, Haruna Yukawa, was shown as purportedly killed in an earlier video. The White House released a statement in which President Barack Obama also condemned "the heinous murder" and praised Goto's reporting, saying he "courageously sought to convey the plight of the Syrian people to the outside world." The White House said that while it isn't confirming the authenticity of the video itself, it has confirmed that Goto has been slain. The militants linked the fates of Goto and the Jordanian pilot, Lt Muath Kaseasbeh, but Saturday's video did not mention the airman. Jordan's government spokesman, Mohammed al-Momani, declined comment. Earlier this week, Jordan offered to free an al-Qaida prisoner for the pilot, but demanded and said it never got proof he was still alive.READ ALSO: Abe angered at hostage video, says Japan won't bow to terrorism Late Saturday night, relatives and supporters of the pilot held a candlelit vigil inside a family home in Karak, al-Kaseasbeh's hometown in southern Jordan. We "decided to hold this protest to remind the Jordanian government of the issue of the imprisoned pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh," said the pilot's brother Jawdat al-Kaseasbeh, holding picture of Muath with a caption: "We are all Muath."
"We want to know how the negotiations are going ... in a positive direction or not. And we want the family to be (involved) in the course of negotiations," he said. Saturday's video, highlighted by militant sympathizers on social media sites, bore the symbol of the Islamic State group's al-Furqan media arm. Though it could not be immediately independently verified by The Associated Press, it conformed to other beheading videos released by the extremists, who now control about a third of both Syria and neighboring Iraq in a self-declared caliphate. The video, called "A Message to the Government of Japan," shows a man who looks and sounds like a militant with a British accent shown in other beheading videos by the Islamic State group. Goto, kneeling in an orange prison jumpsuit, said nothing in the roughly one-minute-long video. "Abe, because of your reckless decision to take part in an unwinnable war, this knife will not only slaughter Kenji, but will also carry on and cause carnage wherever your people are found. So let the nightmare for Japan begin," the man says. In Tokyo, Goto's friend Hiromasa Nakai said he was still hoping against hope that the video was not authentic. "I only can say I'm hoping this is not true," he said.Goto was captured after he traveled to Syria in October to try to rescue Yukawa, a 42-year-old adventurer, from the Islamic State group. The Jordanian pilot was captured after his fighter plane went down in December over an Islamic State-controlled area of Syria. Earlier this week, Jordan offered to release an al-Qaida prisoner for the pilot. However, in a purported online message earlier this week, the militants threatened to kill the pilot if the prisoner wasn't released by Thursday. That deadline passed, and the families of the pilot and the journalist were left waiting in agony.Late Friday, Japan's deputy foreign minister reported a deadlock in efforts to free Goto. Jordan and Japan had reportedly conducted indirect negotiations with the militants through Iraqi tribal leaders. The hostage drama began last week when the militants threatened to kill Goto and Yukawa in 72 hours unless Japan paid $200 million. Later, the militants' demand shifted to seeking the release of the al-Qaida prisoner, Sajijda al-Rishawi, 44, who faces death by hanging in Jordan for her role in triple hotel bombings in Amman in 2005. Sixty people were killed in those attacks, the worst terror attack in Jordan's history. Al-Rishawi has close family ties to the Iraq branch of al-Qaida, a precursor of the Islamic State group.
AAP releases manifesto, says will turn Delhi into global city
Hindustan Times, Delhi Jan 31, 2015
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Saturday released its manifesto for upcoming Delhi assembly elections and promised the voters to make Delhi a better city. "We kept our promises during our 49-day government and will keep all our promises," party chief Arvind Kejriwal said."We want a Delhi in which all classes of people progress and take pride in the national capital of the nation," Kejriwal added.He added that his party's manifesto has been created in consultation with experts and addresses the problems aspirations of every section and class of the Capital.The AAP resolved to legislate the Delhi jan lokpal bill after coming to power and said it will work to give full statehood to Delhi.The AAP chief attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party saying the party at the Centre has not kept any promises and also slammed its chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi.The AAP's manifesto comes at a time when the BJP has decided to come up with a ‘vision document’ instead of releasing a proper manifesto.
For this election, the AAP had repackaged its trademark ‘mohalla sabhas’ into Delhi Dialogue, moving from crowd-sourcing constituency-wise manifestos to drawing up a broader vision for the whole of Delhi.Some of the promises made though the Delhi Dialogues, include 8 lakh new jobs, 30,000 beds in hospitals, 20 new colleges, education loans to all needy students, CCTVs and WiFi in public areas, slashing electricity bills by half and free lifeline water.The party claims to have interacted with professionals, housewives, students, youth, women, people from villages, industrialists, people from JJ clusters and from unauthorised colonies to identify issues and in turn come up with solutions.
CBI working to fix me, it is trying to please RSS: DMK leader Dayanidhi Maran
Hindustan Times, Chennai: Jan 22, 2015
Former Union telecom minister and DMK leader Dayanidhi Maran on Thursday hit out at the CBI, charging it with attempts to implicate him by trying to cook up evidence.Alleging the Central Bureau of Investigation was only trying to please a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue in Chennai by targeting him, Maran told reporters that the investigations into the telephone exchange case against him were on for eight years and there was not a shred of evidence against him.
Maran was reacting after the CBI arrested three people, including his then additional private secretary of Maran V Gauthaman, on Wednesday night in connection with alleged allotment of more than 300 high-speed telephone lines to the then telecom minister's residence in Chennai which were extended to his brother's Sun TV channel.Besides Gauthaman, CBI arrested chief technical officer S Kannan and electrician LS Ravi of Sun TV network.The CBI is now putting pressure against the Sun TV employees and Gauthaman forcing them to go against him, Maran said."The CBI is using third degree methods on the arrested persons, who have all along been cooperating with the CBI here in Chennai and in Delhi. These persons were called to Delhi 10 times and cooperated completely with the investigating agency," Maran said.Charging the central government with misusing the CBI, Maran said he would write to the National Human Rights Commission and also the CBI director to record his complaint."I should be given a fair chance to tell the truth," said Maran at a brief interaction with the media outside the residence of DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi at Gopalapuram.Maran had rushed to meet Karunanidhi hours after the CBI arrested the three persons to explain the situation to his party boss."I have done nothing wrong. All the call records are there and also the billing is all metered. These cannot be altered by anyone," Maran said and added that he had got the facilities of telephones just as any other telecommunication minister.The case against him was foisted during the UPA regime he said, hinting at a senior Congress leader as being responsible for that."Another intellectual from Tamil Nadu" was how he described the senior politician responsible for the case against him.The probe agency said the three people have been arrested to "collect some crucial evidence" which may come up during their questioning and added that they would be produced before a designated court in Chennai on Thursday.The CBI has named Maran and BSNL officials, including the then chief general manager K Bramhanathan and MP Veluswami in the FIR filed in October 2013 following a preliminary inquiry in which the agency claimed to have found enough material to proceed with a regular case against the former minister.The probe agency said nearly 323 residential lines were allegedly in the name of the BSNL general manager connecting the Boat House residence of Maran with the office of Sun TV through a dedicated underground cable during his tenure as telecom minister.
The probe had started in 2011, nearly four years after getting complaints that a 'virtual' telephone exchange was allegedly set-up at Maran's house for facilitating data transfer from Sun TV.The agency had recommended action to the then telecom secretary in 2007 but the department allegedly did not give its nod in the case, PTI cited unnamed sources in CBI as saying. It filed a preliminary inquiry in the case in 2011, they told PTI.The sources said these lines were not ordinary telephone lines but expensive ISDN, capable of carrying huge data thus facilitating faster transmission of TV news and programmes across the globe.The CBI had in its report to the telecom secretary alleged these lines were for use of large commercial enterprises to meet special needs such as video conferencing or transmission of huge volume of digital data for which heavy fee is charged but Sun TV got it for free.
Three burnt to death as mob torches houses in Bihar village, CM Manjhi orders probe
Hindustan Times, Muzaffarpur
At least three persons were burnt to death after a mob set on fire around a dozen houses at Bahilwada Bhuwal village in Bihar's Muzaffarpur district on Sunday following the recovery of a youth's body.The body of 19-year-old Bhartendu Kumar was found near the house of one Vikki, who is the main accused in the abduction and murder case, a police officer said. The boy had gone missing around 10 days ago.Atul Prasad, a Bihar state administrator, said a minority community was blamed for the killing of the boy who was friendly with a Muslim girl from the village, 105km north of Patna.Family members of Bhartendu had lodged an FIR with Saraiya police station, alleging that the boy had been kidnapped by relatives of the girl.As soon as the news spread, a mob gathered near Vikki's residence and torched it along with other houses, senior superintendent of police (SSP) Ranjeet Kumar Mishra said.The situation took an ugly turn when a group, angry with the news about Bhartendu’s death, attacked the house of the accused. “Following retaliation, the attackers went on the rampage and set 10 houses belonging to another group on fire. Around 15 vehicles were also gutted,” said a villager.The bodies were yet to be identified as all three were charred beyond recognition.District magistrate Anupam Kumar and SSP Mishra rushed to the village with heavy reinforcements to bring the situation under control.“We have to work hard to control the situation. We have talked with responsible persons from both the groups and requested them to maintain restraint,” said SSP Mishra.He said that suitable lawfulful action would be initiated against the people responsible for the incident. “No one will be spared if found guilty. We are verifying the facts and responsible persons would be identified after reviewing the video footage of the incident,” he said, adding that some anti-socials were trying to disrupt social harmony.Speaking to HT, additional director general of police (ADG, headquarters) Gupteshwar Pandey said the incident was prima facie triggered by a love affair.According to reports, 14 people were arrested in connection with the clashes. Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi ordered a high-level inquiry into the clash and the subsequent arson. He also announced Rs 5 lakh each as compensation to the nearest of the kin of the deceased.
Deepika Padukone on suffering from depression: It was a struggle to wake up
Mumbai, January 15, 2015
In early 2014, while I was being appreciated for my work, one morning, I woke up feeling different. A day earlier, I had fainted due to exhaustion; it was all downhill from there. I felt a strange emptiness in my stomach. I thought it was stress, so I tried to distract myself by focusing on work, and surrounding myself with people, which helped for a while. But the nagging feeling didn’t go away. My breath was shallow, I suffered from lack of concentration and I broke down often. Over a period of time, it got worse. When my parents visited, I would put up a brave front because they were worried about me living alone and working long hours. Then, once, while talking to my mother (Ujjala Padukone), I broke down. She realised the problem, and got in touch with a psychologist friend, Anna Chandy, to get to the root of the cause. Every morning, it was a struggle to wake up, and shoot for Happy New Year’s (HNY; 2014) climax. Finally, I had a word with Anna aunty. She flew to Mumbai from Bengaluru, and I talked my heart out to her. She concluded that I was suffering from anxiety and depression. When she suggested I take medication, I was resistant. I thought talking was enough. Later, I met another psychologist, Dr Shyam Bhatt, in Bengaluru for a second opinion. There were days when I would feel okay, but at times, within a day, there was a roller-coaster of feelings. Finally, I accepted my condition. The counselling helped, but only to an extent. Then, I took medication, and today I am much better. Most of HNY was shot through this phase. But before starting my next with Shoojit Sircar, I took a two-month break to recover mentally and physically. I spent time with my family in Bengaluru and was soon better. But, when I returned to Mumbai, I heard about a friend committing suicide due to anxiety and depression. It was a huge blow. My personal experience as well as my friend’s death urged me to take up this issue, which isn’t usually talked about. There is shame and stigma attached to talking about depression. In fact, one in every four people suffer from anxiety and depression. The World Health Organisation has stated that this will be the most widespread epidemic in the next few years. We talk about all kinds of aliments, but this is probably one of the deadliest mental disorders. Nothing, including life, makes sense to people suffering from it. Overcoming it has made me a stronger person and I now value my life much more. Accepting it and speaking about it has liberated me. I have stopped taking medication, and I hope my example will help people reach out for help. I feel that at times, the patient just wants to talk, and isn’t seeking advice. But, well-wishers saying things like, ‘Don’t worry, it will all be alright,’ might be detrimental. Being sad and being depressed are two different things. Also, people going through depression don’t look so, while someone sad will look sad. The most common reaction is, ‘How can you be depressed? You have everything going for you. You are the supposed number one heroine and have a plush home, car, movies… What else do you want?’ It’s not about what you have or don’t have. People talk about physical fitness, but mental health is equally important. I see people suffering, and their families feel a sense of shame about it, which doesn’t help. One needs support and understanding. I am now working on an initiative to create awareness about anxiety and depression, and help people. My team is working with me to formulate a plan, which will be unveiled soon.- See more at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/entertainment/tabloid/deepika-padukone-on-suffering-from-depression-it-was-a-struggle-to-
Charlie Hebdo's new edition with Prophet cover irks Muslim groups
Paris, January 14, 2015
French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo returns to newsstands with a record run on Wednesday, but its first edition since Islamist gunmen massacred its staff has already drawn ire from Muslim groups.Frenchman held in Bulgaria allegedly linked to Paris attackers The front cover shows a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed holding a sign that says "Je suis Charlie" ("I am Charlie"), the slogan taken up by millions of supporters around the world after 12 people were gunned down in an attack on the magazine's Paris offices. A man holds a placard reading 'Freedom of the press is priceless, fundamentalism, of any kind, will not pass' as others hold up placards reading in French, 'I am Charlie' during a gathering at the Place de la Republique (Republic square) in Paris, on January 7, 2015. AFP Photo France, home to Europe's largest Jewish and Muslim communities, was shaken to the core last week when jihadists took to Paris's streets in an Islamist killing spree that left 17 people dead in the country's bloodiest week in decades. Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Tuesday declared a "war against terrorism" and a packed parliament sang a stirring rendition of the national "Marseillaise" anthem, a first since the end of World War I. President Francois Hollande earlier led a solemn ceremony paying tribute to the three police officers who lost their lives in the attacks, while in Israel thousands turned out to mourn the four Jews killed during a siege in a kosher supermarket. "Our great and beautiful France will never break, will never yield, never bend" in the face of the Islamist threat that is "still there, inside and outside" the country, Hollande told weeping families and uniformed colleagues of the victims.
Controversial weekly Charlie Hebdo, which lampoons everyone from the president to the pope, has become a symbol of freedom of expression in the wake of the bloodshed. The magazine is planning to print up to three million copies of its "survivors' issue" -- profit from which will go to victims' families -- far more than its usual 60,000 and a historic record for a French publication. "Our Mohammed is, above all, just a guy who is crying," said cartoonist Renald Luzier, known as Luz, who designed the new front cover. "He is much nicer than the one followed by the gunmen." French President Francois Hollande, center, flanked with security forces gestures, as he arrives outside the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo's office, in Paris, on January 7, 2015. (AP Photo) French and Italian versions will be printed, while translations in English, Spanish and Arabic will be offered in electronic form, editor-in-chief Gerard Biard said. A Turkish version will also be published as an inset in the centre-left opposition daily Cumhuriyet, one of the Turkish paper's journalists said, in what Biard described as "the most important" of all the foreign editions. But the cartoon has already drawn ire from Muslim groups, who warned that it could inflame tensions among those who believe the depiction of the prophet is blasphemous. Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's most prestigious centre of learning, warned that new cartoons would only serve to "stir up hatred". The drawings "do not serve the peaceful coexistence between peoples and hinders the integration of Muslims into European and Western societies," the Cairo-based body's Islamic research centre said in a statement. Egypt's state-sponsored Islamic authority, Dar al-Ifta, said the cover was "an unjustified provocation against the feelings of 1.5 billion Muslims".French Muslim groups also urged their communities -- which have already been targeted -- to "stay calm and avoid emotive reactions" to the cartoon. A man holds a placard reading "freedom of expression" during a rally in support of the victims of terrorist attack on French satyrical newspaper Charlie Hebdo at the Place de la Republique in Paris, on January 7, 2015. (AFP Photo) France's Prime Minister Manuel Valls, in a speech that drew several standing ovations, called for the country to pull together after the attack, arguing that "France is at war against terrorism, jihadism, radicalism... (not) Islam and Muslims". "I don't want Jews in this country to be scared, or Muslims to be ashamed" of their faith, he added, calling for France's intelligence capabilities and anti-terrorism laws to be strengthened and "clear failings" addressed. Questions have risen over how supermarket killer Amedy Coulibaly and the Charlie Hebdo gunmen, Said and Cherif Kouachi -- who were known to French intelligence had been on a US terror watch list "for years" -- had slipped through the cracks. Underlining the ongoing threat, France's biggest satirical weekly, "Le Canard Enchaine", said it received a death threat the day after the Charlie Hebdo attack. The outpouring of shock and grief that has united France and saw some four million people march across the country on Sunday, continued Tuesday as several victims were buried. At the main police headquarters in Paris, a grim-faced Hollande laid the country's highest decoration, the Legion d'Honneur, on the coffins of the three fallen police officers draped in the Tricolore. Two were killed during the attack on Charlie Hebdo and the policewoman was gunned down by Coulibaly the next day at the scene of a car accident in which he was involved. Many believe he was on his way to attack a Jewish school nearby. About 30,000 people take part in a unity rally (Marche Republicaine) on January 11, 2015 in the western French port of Brest in tribute to the victims of the three-day killing spree that ended on January 9, 2015. (AFP Photo) German President Joachim Gauck told his country's Muslim community Tuesday that "we are all Germany" at a rally by 10,000 people to condemn the Paris jihadist attacks and take a stand against rising Islamophobia. European Union counter-terrorism chief Gilles de Kerchove told AFP that jails had become "massive incubators" of radicalisation and there was no way to fully shield against such attacks. Coulibaly, a repeat offender, met Cherif Kouachi in prison where they both fell under the spell of a renowned jihadist. While the Kouachis have been linked to the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Coulibaly claimed to have sworn allegiance to the Islamic State. To ease fears in a nation still jittery after its worst attacks in half a century, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced that some 10,000 troops will be deployed to protect sensitive sites
Kerry urges Pakistan to fight all terror groups threatening region, but lauds its military
Islamabad, January 13, 2015
Pakistan must fight militant groups that threaten interests of Afghanistan, India and the United States, US secretary of state John Kerry said on Tuesday, as he voiced sympathy for the victims of the December 16 attack on a military school in Peshawar. Pakistan has long been suspected by the West of playing a double game, fighting some militants while supporting those its generals have regarded as strategic assets to be used against rivals and neighbours. Kerry, on a visit to Pakistan, said all extremists groups should be targetted equally. "Terror groups like the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e Taiba, and other groups, continue to pose a threat to Pakistan, to its neighbours, and to the United States, and we all of us have a responsibility to ensure that these groups do not gain a foothold but rather are pushed back into the recesses of (Pakistan's) memory," Kerry said in Islamabad. US secretary of state John Kerry (L) speaks during a joint press conference with Pakistan's national security advisor Sartaj Aziz at the foreign ministry in Islamabad on Tuesday. (AFP Photo) Speaking after visiting India over the weekend, Kerry added that he was deeply concerned by the recent violence on the border dividing the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, and called on India and Pakistan to find a diplomatic solution. "We continue to be deeply concerned by the recent spate of increased violence along the working boundary and the line of control," Kerry said, referring to a ceasefire line that has become the de facto border dividing Kashmir. "It is profoundly in the interests of Pakistan and India to move this relationship forward," he said. Kerry also advised India and Pakistan to re-engage in serious dialogue. "I encourage (both) parties to have a dialogue." India called off foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan after Pakistan high commissioner in New Delhi Abdul Basit held discussions with Kashmiri separatists in August
However, Kerry also praised the Pakistani military's operation against militants in the country's northwest, saying the results are "significant".His comments came during a meeting in Islamabad with Sartaj Aziz, the Pakistani prime minister's advisor on foreign affairs.Pakistan launched a major operation in the North Waziristan region in June. The US had long advocated for such an operation because the region had become a hub for militant groups.The current operations "in the northwest have disrupted militant activities in the tribal areas and resulted in important seizures of weapons," Kerry said. "The operation is not yet complete but already the results are significant. Pakistani soldiers and their commanders deserve enormous credit."
Kerry also announced that $250 million in previously appropriated money will be given to emergency relief efforts in the tribal areas, mainly North Waziristan. Hundreds of thousands of people fled the area due to the fighting.Kerry praised the reopening Monday of the school in Peshawar where Taliban gunmen slaughtered 150 people, mostly children, in one of the worst terrorist attacks in the country. Kerry called it a testament to the resolve of the Pakistani people.The secretary arrived in Pakistan on Monday and met with Aziz as well as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.Pakistan has boosted operations against violent extremists in recent months. But US officials traveling with Kerry said Washington wants to ensure that there is a "real and sustained effort".Pakistan has been on edge ever since the December 16 attack that was claimed by the Pakistani Taliban as retaliation for the North Waziristan army operation. In response, Pakistan boosted operations in the rugged tribal areas, reinstituted the death penalty for terrorists and moved to try civilian terror suspects in military courts.
Aziz defended steps Pakistan had taken after the school attack, saying action was being taken against all militant groups.
Pakistan has often been accused of having a "good Taliban, bad Taliban" policy, meaning they tolerate or support some militants they find useful as proxies in Afghanistan or India and battle other militants who target the Pakistani state. Pakistani officials insist they go after all militants.Kerry also maintained that it was important not to view the US-Pakistan relationship only through the prism of counterterrorism and security. He noted that the United States has provided significant assistance to Pakistan to improve its infrastructure, including roads and power generation.Between 2009 and 2014, the US provided Pakistan with more than $4.38 billion in civilian assistance, including more than a billion in humanitarian aid.
- See more at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/pakistan-must-fight-all-terror-groups-john-kerry/article1-1306197.aspx#sthash.KQJoWkbH.dpuf
AirAsia flight data recorder retrieved near wrecked wing, second black box located
Jakarta, January 12, 2015
Indonesian navy divers on Monday retrieved the black box flight data recorder from an AirAsia airliner that crashed two weeks ago, killing all 162 people on board, a government official said. Flight QZ8501 lost contact with air traffic control in bad weather on December 28, less than halfway into a two-hour flight from Indonesia's second-biggest city of Surabaya to Singapore."At 7:11, we succeeded in lifting the part of the black box known as the flight data recorder," Fransiskus Bambang Soelistyo, the head of the National Search and Rescue Agency, told reporters at a news conference.
http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2015/1/1209airasia2.jpg Portion of the tail of AirAsia Flight 8501 is seen on the deck of a rescue ship after it was recovered from the sea floor on the Java Sea. (AP Photo) The second black box with the cockpit voice recorder has been located, based on pings from its emergency transmitter, but not yet retrieved, Madjono Siswosuwarno, the main investigator at the National Transportation Safety Committee, told Reuters. Officials hope the black boxes, found near the wrecked wing of the plane, will reveal the cause of the crash. The national weather bureau has said seasonal storms were likely a factor. The recorders are expected to be taken to the capital, Jakarta, for analysis and it could take up to a month to get a complete reading of the data. Officials did not provide details of the condition of the black boxes.
The download is easy, probably one day. But the reading is more difficult ... could take two weeks to one month," Siswosuwarno said. Over the weekend, three vessels detected "pings" that were believed to be from the black boxes, but strong winds, powerful currents and high waves hampered search efforts. Dozens of Indonesian navy divers took advantage of calmer weather in the Java Sea on Monday to retrieve the flight recorder and search for the fuselage of the Airbus A320-200.
Forty-eight bodies have been retrieved from the Java Sea and searchers believe more will be found in the plane's fuselage.
Relatives of the victims have urged authorities to make finding the remains of their loved ones the priority.
"All the ships, including the ships from our friends, will be deployed with the main task of searching for bodies that are still or suspected to still be trapped underwater," Soelistyo said, referring the multinational force helping with the search and recovery effort. Indonesia AirAsia, 49% owned by the Malaysia-based AirAsia budget group, has come under pressure from authorities in Jakarta since the crash. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2015/1/1209airasia1.jpg
Officials investigating the wreckage of AirAsia QZ8501 that crashed into the Java Sea. (AP Photo)
The transport ministry has suspended the carrier's Surabaya-Singapore licence for flying on a Sunday, for which it did not have permission. However, the ministry has said this had no bearing on the crash of Flight QZ8501.
President Joko Widodo said the crash exposed widespread problems in the management of air travel in Indonesia.
Separately on Sunday, a DHC-6 Twin Otter operated by Indonesia's Trigana Air crashed on landing at Enarotali Airport in Paniai, Papua. Strong winds caused the aircraft to roll over, domestic news website Detik.com reported, with no injuries to the three crew members on board. The plane was not carrying any passengers.
- See more at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/airasia-jet-s-flight-data-recorder-retrieved-second-black-box-located/article1-1305818.aspx#sthash.PWmnZaeH.dpuf
Hindu women should produce at least 5 kids: BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj
Meerut, January 07, 2015
Bharatiya Janata Party MP Sakshi Maharaj has triggered yet another controversy by saying all Hindu women must produce at least five children in order to protect the future of Hinduism. He made the comment while addressing a gathering of saints at the second Sant Samagam Mahotsava in Meerut on Tuesday evening. "Now that the good days have come, we will not allow four wives and forty children in the country," the Unnao MP said at the gathering.Speaking on the issue of conversion, he said neither he nor his party is in favour of it and suggested that a special law should be enacted against conversion.He, however, defended the issue of 'ghar wapsi' or recoversion saying there is nothing wrong with it."It is a good work. Maharshi Dayanand was the first person who facilitated 'ghar wapsi'. The process of 'ghar wapsi' and "shuddhikaran" (purification), existed in past and it will go on," he asserted.He did not stop there and said those who are involved in cow slaughtering would be given capital punishment.
Sadhvi Prachi and other saints also addressed the gathering and called upon Hindus to unite for their better future.Sakshi Maharaj was earlier at the centre of a controversy after he described Mahatma Gandhi's assassin Nathuram Godse as a "patriot". He later apologised for his comments.
Chhattisgarh civic polls: All-conquering BJP tastes shock defeat
Hindustan Times Raipur, January 05, 2015
The BJP tasted its first electoral loss after coming to power at the Centre in Chhattisgarh, putting in a poor performance in the municipal elections whose results were declared on Sunday. The opposition Congress made strong gains, winning four of the state’s 10 municipal corporations. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) too won four. Independents won two.In 2009, the BJP had won six of the corporations and the Congress had managed three. For chief minister Raman Singh, in power uninterrupted since 2003, the results were not on expected lines. “We need to review why the results did not come as per our expectations,” Singh, who was the party’s face during campaigning, said. BJP president Amit Shah too had added his heft to the civic polls, telling party workers during his visit to the state on December 12 last year that they had to deliver a good, positive result. The Congress tasted success in the state after a poor showing in the Lok Sabha elections and when it won only one of the 11 seats and a defeat in the assembly polls last year. Despite the gains, the Congress could not win in the Bilaspur region, where a sterilisation tragedy that claimed lives of 13 women in November last year put the BJP on a sticky wicket. Bilaspur, the hometown of health minister Amar Agrawal, witnessed strong protests against him following the botched sterilisation surgeries.The talk in Congress circles is internal strife scuttled its prospects. The BJP’s Kishore Rai won the mayor’s post in Bilaspur municipal corporation defeating Congress candidate Ramsharan Yadav. Former chief minister Ajit Jogi who stayed away from the Congress campaign, pinned the loss on wrong selection of candidates. “This was the reason I kept away from the campaign. Had the party accommodated my opinion while finalising the candidates, the Congress would have won in Bilaspur too.” State Congress president Bhupesh Baghel said, “The overall results came in favour of the Congress party. It is also an indication for our senior leader Jogiji to assess for himself. Had he been with us, the party would have secured victory in Bilaspur too.”
TCS staff sign mass petition to PM Modi after lay-offs in company
Bangalore, January 03, 2015
Even as a mass petition, protest demonstrations and social media campaigns against a purportedly large-scale retrenchment at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) have emerged, the company maintains there is nothing out of the ordinary. While TCS says involuntary attrition will be 1-2% of its total workforce of 3,13,000, company insiders and industry sources say the actual number would be far higher. Employee sources claim thousands of staff are being laid off by being taken off work or informally being asked to go.According to them, fresh workers are being hired while seniors are being let to go. The company has officially announced it will hire about 55,000 in 2014-15 while it has undertaken a restructuring in a sign of a workforce churn.
Protests started in the last one week in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune and Kochi. The Federation of IT Employees (FITE), an organisation formed last week in Chennai in response to the developments within TCS, is spearheading the campaign with a mass petition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to stop this "indiscriminate termination." FITE has held a meeting of those sacked by TCS in Kochi, and is planning a demonstration in the city on Tuesday and one in Bangalore thereafter. According to FITE founding member Bharatidasan, TCS has asked 700 employees in Hyderabad, 470 in Bangalore, 480 in Chennai, 70 in Pune and 20 in Kochi to leave, while several hundreds were told by their managers that they would be called by HR. "We would like to reiterate that our total global annual involuntary attrition is 1-2%," a TCS spokesperson said. Some of the aggrieved employees in Bangalore met deputy labour commissioner but did not lodge a petition fearing blacklisting. A FITE member said the organisation is mulling legal recourse. A middle-level executive in TCS said the January-March quarter will see large-scale layoffs. "The actual involuntary attrition this year will be higher than what the company has projected as many employees have been pulled out from projects, benched and asked to resign rather than being sacked outright," he said."The attrition this quarter will shoot up from 12.5% to 20%," he added. Responding to reports that the company is planning to restructure its workforce in the middle-to-senior management, Ajoyendra Mukherjee, global HR head had said last month: "Workforce optimisation is a continuous process that happens throughout the year taking into account employee performance, business needs, and people aspirations. This leads to some amount of involuntary attrition in the company".TCS last month said revenue growth in the current financial year would be lower than that of the previous year, backtracking from far more optimistic projections it had made earlier.
Two sons get mother beaten to death by occultist for good luck
Nashik, Maharashtra, December 31, 2014
A woman was allegedly beaten to death in Nashik after her two sons consented to have her 'sacrificed' to bring them good luck.Over the last two days, Ghoti police has arrested ten people, including the two brothers, for the murder of Budhabai Dore (65), resident of Mokhada in Thane district.The murder took place at Take-Harsh in tribal-dominated Trimbakeshwar tehsil of Nashik district sometime around Diwali, assistant police inspector Suresh Manore of Ghoti police in the Nashik district said on Tuesday.The brothers -- Kashinath and Govind Dore -- were not happy with their circumstances and consulted Bachchi-bai Narayan Khadke (42), a woman occultist, based in Take-Harsh, on the advice of their sister Rahibai Pingle. The occultist told the brothers that they needed to sacrifice both their mother and sister for change of luck. The two then took both the women to Khadke who allegedly beat Budhabai to death, while Rahibai managed to escape. Khadke later removed the victim's eyes, and buried her body at a nearby spot.The incident came to light a few days ago when Bhagwan Madhe, a local social worker, alerted the police.Police arrested the occultist, who also confessed to have murdered another woman in a similar ritual sacrifice in the past, on Monday. Kashinath and Govind were arrested on Tuesday.A case under the Indian Penal Code and Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practises and Black Magic Act, 2013, has been registered.District superintendent of police Sanjay Mohite visited Ghoti police station this evening to take stock of the probe.
AirAsia flight QZ8501 likely at bottom of sea, says Indonesia
Jakarta, December 29, 2014
The AirAsia plane which went missing with 162 people on board en route for Singapore is likely at the bottom of the sea, Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency chief said Monday.
"Based on the coordinates given to us and evaluation that the estimated crash position is in the sea, the hypothesis is the plane is at the bottom of the sea," Bambang Soelistyo told a press conference.
"That's the preliminary suspicion and it can develop based on the evaluation of the result of our search."
Soelistyo said Indonesia did not have "the tools", such as submersible vehicles, required to retrieve the plane from the seabed, but that it is reaching out to other countries for help if necessary."Due to the lack of technology that we have, I have coordinated with our foreign minister so we will borrow from other countries which have offered. They are the UK, France and US," he said. Watch: AirAsia flight QZ8501 goes missing, relatives anxiously await news at Singapore airport Meanwhile, more than 24 hours after flight 8501 disappeared, the search has expanded with planes and ships from several countries taking part.First Admiral Sigit Setiayana, the Naval Aviation Center commander at the Surabaya air force base, said that 12 navy ships, five planes, three helicopters and a number of warships were talking part, along with ships and planes from Singapore and Malaysia. The Australian Air Force also sent a search plane.Setiayana said visibility was good. "God willing, we can find it soon," he told The Associated Press.AirAsia Flight 8501 vanished in airspace thick with storm clouds on its way from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore. Searchers had to fight against heavy rain on Sunday before work was suspended due to darkness.The plane's disappearance and suspected crash caps an astonishingly tragic year for air travel in Southeast Asia. The Malaysia-based carrier's loss comes on top of the still-unexplained disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in March and the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in July over Ukraine. At the Surabaya airport, passengers' relatives pored over the plane's manifest, crying and embracing. Nias Adityas, a housewife from Surabaya, was overcome with grief when she found the name of her husband, Nanang Priowidodo, on the list. The 43-year-old tour agent had been taking a family of four on a trip to Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia's Lombok island, and had been happy to get the work.
"He just told me, 'Praise God, this new year brings a lot of good fortune,'" Adityas recalled, holding her grandson tight while weeping uncontrollably. Nearly all the passengers and crew are Indonesians, who are frequent visitors to Singapore, particularly on holidays. The Airbus A320 took off Sunday morning from Indonesia's second-largest city and was about halfway to Singapore when it vanished from radar. The jet had been airborne for about 42 minutes.
There was no distress signal from the twin-engine, single-aisle plane, said Djoko Murjatmodjo, Indonesia's acting director general of transportation. The last communication between the cockpit and air traffic control was at 6:13 a.m. (23:13 GMT Saturday), when one of the pilots asked to increase altitude from 32,000 feet (9,754 meters) to 38,000 feet (11,582 meters), Murjatmodjo said. The jet was last seen on radar at 6:16 a.m. and was gone a minute later, he told reporters.
Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia launched a search-and-rescue operation near Belitung island in the Java Sea, the area where the airliner lost contact with the ground.AirAsia group CEO Tony Fernandes flew to Surabaya and told a news conference that the focus for now should be on the search and the families rather than the cause of the incident.
"We have no idea at the moment what went wrong," said Fernandes, a Malaysian businessman who founded the low-cost carrier in 2001. "Let's not speculate at the moment." Malaysia-based AirAsia has a good safety record and had never lost a plane. But Malaysia itself has already endured a catastrophic year, with 239 people still missing from Flight 370 and all 298 people aboard Flight 17 killed when it was shot down over rebel-held territory in Ukraine.AirAsia said Flight 8501 was on its submitted flight plan but had requested a change due to weather. Sunardi, a forecaster at Indonesia's Meteorology and Geophysics Agency, said dense storm clouds were detected up to 13,400 meters (44,000 feet) in the area at the time.
"There could have been turbulence, lightning and vertical as well as horizontal strong winds within such clouds," said Sunardi, who like many Indonesians uses only one name.Airline pilots routinely fly around thunderstorms, said John Cox, a former accident investigator. Using on-board radar, flight crews can typically see a storm forming from more than 100 miles away.
In such cases, pilots have plenty of time to find a way around the storm cluster or look for gaps to fly through, he said.
"It's not like you have to make an instantaneous decision," Cox said. Storms can be hundreds of miles long, but "because a jet moves at 8 miles a minute, if you to go 100 miles out of your way, it's not a problem."Authorities have not said whether they lost only the secondary radar target, which is created by the plane's transponder, or whether the primary radar target, which is created by energy reflected from the plane's body, was lost as well, Cox said. The plane had an Indonesian captain, Iryanto, who uses one name, and a French co-pilot, five cabin crew members and 155 passengers, including 16 children and one infant, the airline said in a statement. Among the passengers were three South Koreans, a Malaysian, a British national and his 2-year-old Singaporean daughter. The rest were Indonesians.
AirAsia flight QZ 8501 with 161 aboard goes missing, search operations on
Jakarta, December 28, 2014
An AirAsia flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore lost contact with air traffic control on Sunday, Indonesian media said, citing a transport ministry official. Official Hadi Mustofa said the aircraft, flight number QZ 8501, lost contact with the Jakarta air traffic control tower at 6:17am local time. (2317 GMT). The Airbus 320-200 had 155 passengers (138 adults, 16 children and a baby) and six crew members on board, another Indonesian transport official said.The passengers on board comprise 149 Indonesians, three Koreans, one Singaporean, one Briton and one Malaysian.Mustofa said the plane had asked for an unusual route before it lost contact.The flight had been due in Singapore at 8:30am Singapore time (0030 GMT). The Singapore airport said on its website the status of the flight was "delayed".Singapore has activated its air force and navy to help in the search and rescue operation. "Two C130s are already on stand-by for this purpose. We remain ready to provide any assistance to support the search and rescue effort," the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said in a statement. A waiting area, and facilities and support have been set up for relatives at Changi Airport Terminal 2, it said. AirAsia has established an emergency call centre that is available for family or friends of those who were on board. The number is: +622129850801.
The incident comes at the end of a disastrous year for Malaysia's airlines. National flag carrier Malaysia Airlines lost two aircraft this year.Its flight MH370 went missing on March 8 on a trip from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on board.On July 17, Flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board
Assam violence: Army chief in state today as forces launch ops; border security tightened
New Delhi/Guwahati, December 27, 2014
Army chief General Dalbir Singh will review the situation in Assam Saturday, as security forces launched a major offensive against a tribal militant group that massacred over 70 people in the state this week. CRPF personnel keeps vigil at the curfew bound street in Kokrajher district. The Bodos have been gradually getting wary of the increase in land procurement by immigrant Muslims in Bodo heartland and increasing population of immigrant Muslims in Kokrajhar and other districts of BTC. (PTI photo) A day after India sought cooperation from Bhutan and Myanmar to hunt down militants of the banned National Democratic Front of Boroland (Sangbijit), Singh will first visit Guwahati and then Sonitpur and Kokrajhar districts, which are reeling due to a massacre that killed nearly 80 people. On his arrival to Assam, the army chief would be briefed by officials about the situation on the ground, and the operation security forces had launched against the militants fighting for a separate state for ethnic Bodos. An estimated 7,000 villagers have fled their homes in Assam, fearing more attacks from the Bodo militants and are sheltered in relief camps guarded by the forces and police. The Indo-Bhutan border guarding force, Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), rushed 2,000 of its personnel to the state who would undertake joint operations with the army and Assam police units. BD Sharma, director general (DG) of the armed border force, told ANI, "We will be cooperating in the operations... I don't think I can speak more on this. We will be playing our duty of border guarding in a more stringent way."
The forces have been continuing its crackdown against the NDFB(S) and other militants, but the dynamics have changed after the massacre in Kokrajhar, Sonitpur and Chirang districts, officials said.Militants may have fled to neighbouring Bhutan while their leader was believed to be in Myanmar, officials and police said, prompting calls for cooperation by neighbour countries.
At least 85 people have been killed since Tuesday as Bodo militants attacked Adivasis in Sonitpur and Kokrajhar district, while 14 Bodos were killed in retaliatory attacks and three Adivasi protesters died in police firing at Dhekiajuli.
Assam is one of the seven states in the northeast that is home to more than 200 tribes and dozens of insurgencies.
The region has trailed the rest of the country in economic development and the gap has widened in recent years, fuelling discontent. Residents accuse the central government of plundering the natural resources while ignoring development.
Delhi acid attack case: Police detain two, suspect involvement of minor
New Delhi, December 25, 2014
Two days after a doctor was injured in an acid attack in Rajouri Garden, the Delhi Police on Thursday morning detained two accused in connection with the case. Sources claim police suspect a total of four people, including a minor, were involved in the attack. All the accused are believed to be in the age group of 17-22 years. On Tuesday, two bike-brone miscreants hurled acid at a 30-year-old woman doctor and robbed her in broad daylight. The police recovered her handbag from Khyala on Wednesday.
"While the two have been apprehended from Madipur area in Punjabi Bagh, two more will be detained for questioning," said a police officer. A senior official said on condition of anonymity, "The minor, 17, knew the doctor quite well." Police are also trying to zero in on the place from where the acid was procured, and the bike which was used in the crime. The doctor was on her way to the ESI Hospital on her Scooty when two bikers threw a chemical substance at her. Preliminary examination indicated that she had severe injuries on the right part of her face, including her eye.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Madan Mohan Malaviya to be conferred with Bharat Ratna
New Delhi, December 24, 2014
Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and freedom fighter-educationist Madan Mohan Malaviya will be conferred with the country's highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna, the Centre announced on Wednesday. The announcement was made on the eve of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stalwart's birthday on December 25. The day will also be celebrated by the central government as 'good governance day'. He will turn 90 on Thursday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will send a recommendation for the Bharat Ratnas in the afternoon to President Pranab Mukherjee, reports said. According to reports, a final decision to honour Vajpayee and Malaviya was taken at a meeting held by PM Modi which was attended by top BJP leaders including Union ministers Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Nitin Gadkari, Rajnath Singh and party president Amit Shah. The BJP has been demanding the Bharat Ratna for Vajpayee for the last five years. When the UPA government announced the Bharat Ratna for former cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and scientist CNR Rao last year, the BJP had criticised the Congress for ignoring Vajpayee's contribution to the nation. Lal Krishna Advani, Vajpayee's friend and colleague for many decades, was the first to demand a Bharat Ratna for him. Vajpayee's Bharat Ratna also ends the long gap of a politician getting the highest civilian of the country. Vajpayee is long considered as the tallest leader of the BJP. He was the first non-Congress prime minister who led a coalition government through its full term. While his first government in 1998 could last just 13 days, he was the pivotal force behind the National Democratic Alliance that ruled between 1999 to 2004. Vajpayee is also perhaps the only BJP leader who draws scores of admirers cutting across political lines and was often dubbed as "the right man in the wrong party" by political opponents. Bharat Ratna to Malaviya adds an interesting political twist: Malaviya was once the national president of the Congress party. But the renowned educationist is also considered as an icon by the Sangh Parivar. ?? PM Modi had promised to confer the Bharat Ratna to Malaviya during the campaign for the Lok Sabha elections. The Banaras Hindu University, founded by the educationist, is in the PM's constituency in Varanasi. Recipients receive a certificate signed by the President and a peepal-leaf shaped medallion. The award does not include any monetary grant. Instituted on January 2, 1954, Bharat Ratna has been conferred on 43 individuals. Eleven recipients were awarded posthumously.
VHP claims 're-conversion' of 200 tribal Christians in Gujarat, Cong says it's unfortunate
Valsad/New Delhi, December 21, 2014
Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) "re-converted" over 200 tribal Christians to Hinduism on Saturday by holding rituals at Aranai village in Valsad district of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled Gujarat, claimed a leader of the outfit. "As part of the ongoing 'ghar-wapsi' programme, VHP today (Saturday) re-converted 225 people from Christian community and took them back into Hindu religion," said Valsad district VHP chief Natu Patel. He said VHP organised a 'Maha Yagnya' (ritual of the sacred fire) for "purification" of the tribals before taking them back in Hindu-fold and also gave each of them a copy of Bhagwad Gita. Another VHP worker, Ashok Sharma, said around 3,000 people had gathered at the 'Ghar-wapsi' programme in Valsad. "VHP greeted around 225 people back in their own religion in Valsad. We have not forced them, they came on their own wish," Sharma said. Youth Congress activists in Noida protest against the BJP and its ideological mentor, RSS, following the alleged forced conversion of around 300 Muslims to Hinduism in Agra earlier this month. (Burhaan Kinu/HT Photo) "This is totally unfortunate whatever is happening. In the world India had a different image of having people practising various religious beliefs, speaking different languages, based on which the country was built. If the same thing happens that is happening (here) starts taking place in Europe and in America, then what will happen. These actions will only create bad impression about the country," Alvi told ANI. "Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and others are trying to destroy the country. If these people have been converted by coercion or inducement then it is a clear violation of law. But then what kind of image of India will be in the world," he added. A controversy had erupted early this month when a right wing group had organised a 'ghar-wapasi' drive wherein it reportedly converted about 100 people from a minority community in Agra in Uttar Pradesh.
The incident had created a ruckus in the Rajya Sabha with the Opposition demanding a statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A similar incident was also reported from BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh where a party MP had claimed 39 tribal Christians were re-converted to Hinduism in Naxal-hit Bastar district in October this year.
BJP's Amit Shah pitches for law against 'forcible conversions'
PTI Kochi, December 20, 2014
As the NDA Government continued to face opposition heat over the conversion issue, BJP president Amit Shah Saturday pitched for an anti-conversion law in the country and wanted other political parties to support such a measure in Parliament.
"BJP is the only political party in the country that opposes forceful conversion and the 'so-called secular' political parties should come forward to support an anti-conversion legislation," he told reporters in Kochi.Shah was winding up his two–day visit to state to gear up for the party organisational structure to face challenges of local body and assembly elections to be held in 2015 and 2016 respectively.When asked whether BJP would hold talks with minorities' outfits on the matter, he said further steps on the legislation can be taken up only after a consensus was evolved among political parties in the country.
On the controversial 'Ghar Wapsi' (conversion ceremony)by a Hindutva group in Uttar Pradesh, Shah said the matter was now before the court."I do not want to make comment on the issue till the court decides," he added.Dismissing Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's charge that NDA-led by BJP was dividing the people on communal lines, he said 'no such thing has taken place in the country'.Meanwhile, AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal demanded a reply by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue of forcible religious conversions, saying it is important for the public to know his stand on the issue."The Prime Minister should clarify his stand and approach on the conversion issue. One cannot act opposition as well as the ruling party. Public wants to know his stand," he told reporters in New Delhi.The former Delhi chief minister said BJP had won the Lok Sabha elections and formed government playing the development card but failed to deliver on its promises."They won on the grounds of development. They had promised that 'ache din' will come. In the past six months they have been seen talking about issues like Love Jihad and religion conversion. Where is development?" he asked."There had been no riots in Delhi since 35 years but they took place after BJP came to power. If public had known all this will be happening, they would have never voted in favour of them," he added.The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader however refused to comment when asked whether his party will advocate an 'anti-conversion' law if voted to power.
Fifth phase: Brisk polling in J-K , Jharkhand
Srinagar/Ranchi, December 20, 2014
Amid tight security, polling began on a brisk note on Saturday for the fifth and final round of elections in Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand. In Jammu and Kashmir 213 candidates including deputy chief minister Tara Chand and four other ministers, are trying their luck in 20 seats.After a record turnout of voters in the previous four phases, particularly in Kashmir Valley, there is an expectation of high voter turnout in the seats spread across Jammu, Kathua and Rajouri districts of Jammu region.
As many as 18,28,904 eligible voters, comprising 9,59,011 men and 8,69,891 women, are eligible to exercise their franchise at 2,366 polling stations set up across the three border districts.BJP has high stakes in this phase as it had got 10 seats in 2008 Assembly elections followed by Congress with 5 seats, NC 2, PDP 1 and two seats going to Independents.More than 40 thousand security personnel have been deployed for the polling apart from regular deployment of police forces.
Security arrangements along the Indo-Pak border have been strengthened in the three border districts of Jammu region
with troops put on alert for the polls."Security grid along the Indo-Pak border has been put on alert. Multi-tier security has been put in place", divisional commissioner Shant Manu said.Over 14% voting was registered in the first two hours of polling in 16 assembly seats in tribal Santhal Parganas in Jharkhand.People queued up at the polling stations braving the winter morning chill and voting, which began at 7am, picked up as the day progressed.The constituency-wise voting percentage till 9 am was 15 per cent at Rajmahal, 17% at Borio, 15% at Barhait, 14% at Littipara, 16% at Pakur, 15% at Maheshpur and 15% at Shikaripara, an Election Commission release said.At Nala it was 11%, at Jamtara 13, Dumka 11, Jama 14, Jarmundi 12, Sarath 14.25, Poreyahat 14.6, Godda 15 and Mahagama 15.2%, the release said.A report from Pakur said voters of booth number 134 in Litipara constituency did not turn up in protest against lack of basic amenities.Voting, however, resumed after polling and administrative officials convinced them that their demands would be looked into.Polling will end at 3pm in all the 16 constituencies which are spread across six districts - Dumka, Pakur, Godda, Sahibganj, Jamtara. Some parts of
Chief minister Hemant Soren and speaker Shashank Shekhar Bhokta are among the 208 candidates, who include 16 women, whose fates will be decided.Soren is in fray from Dumka, from where he had been elected in 2009 and Barhait and Bhokta from Sarath.In all, 36,90,069, including 17,84,486 women are eligible to cast their votes at 4,448 polling stations, including 30 auxiliary. A total 149 polling stations are in urban areas.EC said as many as 833 polling stations have been marked as hyper-sensitive and 1,496 sensitive and 291 polling stations will have web casting.
My rapist is now an advocate: Victim narrates the tale of horror
Delhi, Hindustan Times December 18, 2014
I am waiting for the day when I’ll be a judge after clearing the Provisional Civil Services (PCS) exam. I am striving hard to realise my wish with just three semesters short of clearing my graduation in law. I am sure I’ll crack the PCS. I want to punish people who have a sick mentality so no one calls an innocent girl “behen”, wins her confidence and then rapes her body, soul and, above all, trust.It’s been four years since I was raped by a student leader, but he still roams free. My rapist has now turned into an advocate and smiles shamelessly whenever he spots me at the court premises. His smile ignites anger in me and gives me a reason to steel myself. The rape was one incident, but the events that followed crushed me day after day.I was a happy-go-lucky girl from a Dalit family in Dehradun, the youngest among four sisters. My father was a carpenter and my mother a domestic help.After passing class 12 there was little opportunity to study further. But I insisted and went to a local college to sign up for a graduation course. That black day in July 2010 was the last day to submit admission forms. The forms were sold out but a student leader had three of them. Seeing me sobbing he offered me a form. My faith in humanity was restored, but it was to fade soon. He took my phone number, said that I was his sister and could call him whenever necessary.In October, he told me he was trying to find me a job. On December 25, 2010, he offered to drive me for an interview. On the way, he told me the interview would be held in Mussoorie. I was oblivious of his ill intentions and : Rape sat in his car. He parked the vehicle at an isolated spot, locked the car from the inside and then sexually assaulted me.
He also shot a video of the act on his mobile phone. I cried and tried to remind him that he had called himself my brother and he shouted, “Sa***, yahan koi kisi ka bhai-vai nahi hai (There’s no brother here).”He later dumped me outside my home. I was shattered but decided not to share my ordeal with my parents. But that turned out to be a mistake as the next day he threatened to make the clip public. I saw no other option but to give in to his demands. The sexual abuse became a daily affair until I finally decided to approach the police on January 20, 2011. After a four-hour-long wait, a female officer came over, slapped me hard and said, “Achhi ladkiyon ka rape nahi hota. Tera hi character kharab hoga (Good girls are never raped. There must be something wrong with you).”The officer called the rapist to her office. Both of them giggled and sipped tea right before my eyes. This was just the beginning of my woes. I was asked to visit the police station again and again for many days. My complaint was finally lodged on February 18. But the male investigation officer molested me several times.
'Lone-wolf attacks real threat in India too'
NEW DELHI: Even as the Sydney cafe siege ended on Monday, security officers here conceded that such lone-wolf attacks were a "real threat" in India given the radicalization that ISIS and its supporters have been spreading in the real and virtual worlds.
"It's no secret that many young Indians recruited by ISIS — which the government claims are a minuscule number — have learnt about the outfit from social media and the Web, though in some cases recruiters may also be indoctrinating them. Shocking beheading videos have added to the ISIS appeal among minorities."Such self-indoctrinated youth could indulge in lone-wolf attacks without being part of ISIS," an intelligence official said.
The agencies said it's difficult to monitor self-motivated jihadis than the known ISIS operatives."The level of motivation of these jihadis is difficult to assess ... India has a history of communal riots which has scarred a section of minorities," said the official.
"Just as four youths from Mumbai's suburbs went to Iraq without any invitation from ISIS and a techie in Bangalore became a propagandist for the outfit without being asked, there may be some who will pick up a knife, if not a gun, tomorrow," said an intelligence officer.
However, the situation is not as alarming as it looks for Australia, which has seen attempts by jihadis attempting beheadings in the name of ISIS. Australia with close to 4 lakh Muslims has seen more than 70 confirmed ISIS recruits, 20 of whom have died in battle. This, despite the fact that Australia has witnessed any significant terrorism only post 9/11. Conversely, India has witnessed significant terrorism since the Eighties, has over 18 crore Muslims and still only seven confirmed ISIS recruits.
Arguing on the basis of these statistics, Ajai Sahni of Institute of Conflict Management says, "India has certain strengths that other countries don't have.There are cultural cushions in India (in the form of family and social fabric) which have given Indian Muslims strong resistance against the lure of ISIS. It is only the fringe elements, in tiny numbers, who are engaging with this kind of terrorism. I don't see some kind of great conflagration or movement in its favour." He, however, cautions that this should be no reason to be complacent."The glass is neither half full nor half empty. It is both. No need to be complacent. But no need to create hysteria either," he says.
RSS in no mood to soften, will stick to Hindutva agenda
New Delhi, December 14, 2014
The Narendra Modi government’s image as a development-oriented regime may have taken a hit due to controversial remarks by some RSS members-turned-parliamentarians but the BJP’s ideological parent isn’t willing to put its Hindutva agenda on the backburner.Youth Congress activists burnt effigy of Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) and its ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) against the alleged forced conversion of around 300 Muslims to Hinduism in Agra earlier this week, in Noida, on Thursday. (Burhaan Kinu/HT Photo) Senior leaders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh told HT that while they appreciated the government’s focus on development, they saw no reason to chastise leaders like Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, infamous for an expletive-laden poll speech, or Sakshi Maharaj, who termed Mahatma Gandhi’s killer Nathuram Godse a patriot. An RSS pracharak associated with the BJP’s organisation claimed ‘Hindutva’ was supplement to the development plank and only a mix of the two could ensure electoral victories. “You may have a problem with the way certain MPs articulated their view but the larger sentiment was that the Hindu society should not be taken for granted. The result of the Lok Sabha elections, particularly in UP, is a case in point,” he said, requesting anonymity. The BJP is also not averse in using the Hindutva proponents to woo voters, deploying Niranjan Jyoti to campaign in the riot-hit Trilokpuri locality of Delhi.
Aligarh MP Satish Gautam and Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath continue taking vows to carry on the controversial ‘ghar wapsi’ (homecoming) programme that has been accused of forcibly converting Muslims.BJP president Amit Shah has defended these leaders, saying on Thursday that they couldn’t be asked to retire from politics because of a mistake.
BJP secretary Shrikant Sharma told HT that development was the government’s focus and decisions in last six months – Jan Dhan Yojna, petrol price cut, FDI in defence and others – were reflective of that. “There is no case to be apologetic about Hindutva. It is a way of life and not a religion,” Sharma said.These comments come in the wake of a stormy month for the NDA government. Earlier this month, minister of state for food processing industries Niranjan Jyoti asked the audience at a Delhi poll rally if they wanted a government led by the children of Ram (Ramzaade) or illegitimate children (haramzaade). The comments caused prolonged disruptions in Parliament with the Opposition relenting only after an appeal by PM Modi.
This was followed by Unnao MP Sakshi Maharaj’s endorsement of Godse, which led to a retraction and apology.
The latest flashpoint is the alleged forced conversion of 300 Muslims in Agra this week and plans for more such ceremonies by Hindu groups affiliated to the RSS. Cornered by the Opposition again, the government suggested all states and the Centre have anti-conversion laws.Senior RSS leader Manmohan Vaidya agreed with the Centre, saying there was no contradiction between development and having an anti-conversion law.“The entire debate (on conversion) would stop if a strong anti-conversion law is put in place. Christian missionaries have been opposing it and so are many other parties. We are opposed to conversion through force and allurement,” Vaidya told HT.A party office bearer also pointed out the BJP has to play its cards carefully with key electoral challenges lined up in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, where OBC stalwarts Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar were trying to revive the old Janata Parivar. The saffron party had won 71 of UP’s 80 and 22 out of Bihar’s 40 Lok Sabha seats.“Those most vulnerable to conversions are backward castes and Dalits, who had also spearheaded the temple movement in its heyday. When we win them over, it automatically marginalises parties like the SP, JD(U), RJD and BSP – our main rivals in Bihar and UP,” the leader said.
Resentment and pep talk inside CIA after Senate torture report
Washington, December 11, 2014
As outcry grows over its now-defunct brutal interrogation program, America's spy agency appears caught in the crossfire of debate over its methods in the ongoing US battle against Islamic militants and whether it has changed its ways.
Inside the Central Intelligence Agency, intelligence officials expressed resentment over what they said was the unfairness of a Senate Intelligence Committee report released on Tuesday that harshly criticized the spy agency's detention and questioning of militant suspects.As Senate Democrats urged more information about the program be made public and CIA officials be held accountable, CIA Director John Brennan was scheduled to speak privately to the agency's employees on Wednesday about the Senate report.Brennan, who is close to US President Barack Obama, on Tuesday acknowledged the agency made mistakes, but rejected some key Senate panel findings, including its conclusion that harsh interrogation techniques did not produce valuable intelligence about militants that could not be obtained by other means."CIA is frequently asked to do difficult, sensitive and sometimes risky things on behalf of the country," a US intelligence official said. "Congress doesn't do massive studies of CIA's successful efforts such as preventing another massive casualty attack on the United States."
"The intellectual dishonesty of the (Senate) report will eventually be revealed and in the end CIA's position about the value of the detention and interrogation program will stand as the historical fact," the intelligence official said.Countries that cooperated with the CIA's post-September 11, 2001 detention and interrogation program expressed dismay that its details became public."Who now in any form is going to want to continue cooperation in the fight with global terrorism and with opponents of our world view, democracy, in this domain when the system is so dramatically liable to leak?" Polish Deputy Prime Minister Janusz Piechocinski told Poland's TVN24 broadcaster.Poland has acknowledged allowing the CIA to operate a secret interrogation center on its territory.As details of the CIA program dribbled out over the years, the agency has faced Justice Department investigations - no prosecutions materialized - and worried it would lose cooperation from allied intelligence services.But even some who are sympathetic to the CIA say the agency bears the brunt of blame for the damage.
"It's just a self-inflicted wound of the worst kind," said former CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz.
Video | CIA tactics 'stained our national honor': John McCainIn the continuing tug of war over the CIA program, retiring Sen. Mark Udall, Colorado Democrat, took to the US Senate floor to disclose findings of an earlier CIA review that he said backs up the Senate Intelligence Committee majority report.The conclusions of the CIA study, known as the "Panetta Review" after former CIA director Leon Panetta, "fly directly in the face of claims made by senior CIA officials past and present," Udall said, urging its declassification.He called for new legislation banning coercive interrogation techniques.CIA officials have said the Panetta Review was not an investigation that reached conclusions, but merely a factual account of the program's history.
Significant new limits on the CIA's role and powers seem unlikely. Obama has placed the agency at the forefront of battling Islamic militants worldwide, including using armed drones.Obama is known to rely heavily on the counsel of Brennan, formerly his top White House counter-terrorism advisor. And the CIA faces a more sympathetic Congress next year, when Republican Sen. Richard Burr, who was critical of the 'torture" report, replaces Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.Obama in 2009 issued an executive order barring the CIA from operating detention facilities and conducting "enhanced interrogation."The CIA on Tuesday said it had already taken steps to address issues raised in the report, including better management of sensitive programs and enhanced vetting of CIA officers who participate in them.
Philip Zelikow, who as a top State Department official in 2006 wrote a secret memo arguing some of the CIA techniques were unconstitutional, said the CIA's assurances were insufficient.The Senate report "does raise some important issues regarding the management of covert activities," he said.The report "will have for some time, and some time can mean for years, a chastening effect. But over time the agency does what it does," said Glenn Carle, a retired CIA officer who questioned prisoners after 2001."I think generations will forget," he said. "And the institution strives to serve the executive. And there will be mistakes again
Congress protests in Rajya Sabha over eulogising Nathuram Godse
New Delhi, December 11, 2014
Rajya Sabha on Thursday witnessed uproarious scenes with members from Congress lodging strong protest against eulogising of Nathuram Godse at a function held in Maharashtra earlier this month. Under attack from the opposition members, government disapproved of any such event hailing Mahatma Gandhi's killer but said no organisation should be defamed.The Upper House saw two brief adjournments over the issue as Congress members protested holding placards in the aisles and raising slogans, while charging right-wing organisations with lending their support to it.Raising the issue during Zero Hour, Husain Dalwai (Cong) said he has written to Maharashtra chief minister over hosting the event attended by some religious leaders and former MLAs."Mahatma Gandhi's killer is being eulogised by hosting his 'Shaurya Diwas' in Maharashtra...These people talk of development, but are trying to create a rift in society," he said, accusing the right-wing organisations of indulging in such things, including religious conversions that created tension in society.Congress members created uproar over the issue and raised slogans while displaying placards of the event, even as deputy chairman PJ Kurien tried to pacify the agitating members, asking them to take their seats and maintain peace."Don't make use of Zero Hour for this kind of display. This is gross indiscipline...To decide the culpability or otherwise, the courts are there, not me or you," Kurien said. Minister of state for parliamentary affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, "This is not acceptable. Mahatma Gandhi's killer, whosoever it may be, we are against it...We do not accept any honour of Mahatma Gandhi's killers."As members continued their protest and the House witnessed acrimonious exchanges between both sides, Kurien adjourned the proceedings for 10 minutes just before noon.But, similar scenes were witnessed when the House met at noon, forcing the Chair to adjourn it again for 15 minutes. When the House reassembled, Anand Sharma (Cong) said, "It is not acceptable that some one eulogises him. I hope neither the House nor the parliamentary affairs minister will approve of such an action. Let the House speak in one voice and condemn it."Parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu said, "There is no question of eulogising such a person. We should leave the matter there, but defaming an organisation is not acceptable."
Agra conversion row: Oppn uproar continues in Parliament
New Delhi, December 11, 2014
Uproar continued in the Lok Sabha on Thursday with almost all opposition parties demanding the suspension of the question hour and a discussion on the Agra "conversions".Noor Mohammad, one of the people who alleged that the two Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh offshoots had lured them into a programme to collect BPL and ration cards. (HT photo)
As soon as the house met for the day, members of the Congress, Trinamool Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and CPI-M trooped near the speaker's podium, and also raised slogans like "Modi sarkaar hosh mein aao" (Wake up, Modi government) and "Hindu-Muslim bhai-bhai".Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge asked Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to allow a discussion on the issue. "You have full powers to suspend the question hour. The government has already agreed to a discussion, kindly allow us," he said. Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav said that the matter should be taken "seriously".Nearly 300 members of some 60 Muslim families living in a slum on Agra's outskirts reportedly embraced Hinduism on Monday. A day later the families claimed they were tricked into conversion in an event couched as 'homecoming ceremony'.Opposition members had raised the issue in both houses of Parliament on Wednesday as well, while Islamic organisations took to the streets demanding protection to vulnerable members of the community.
BCCI accepts apex court's cricket 'clean-up' panel, Srini appeals to fight polls
New Delhi, December 10, 2014
The BCCI on Wednesday accepted the Supreme Court's proposal that a committee be set up to decide on the punishment for those who breached the IPL code of conduct, including Gurunath Meiyappan, the son-in-law of International Cricket Council chairman president N Srinivasan.
The BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) first told court the appointment of a "high power committee" could affect its autonomy but then accepted the court's proposal. "Game of cricket will collapse if people's confidence in the sport is not restored," the court told BCCI.
Earlier in the court, Srinivasan, BCCI's sidelined chief, told the Supreme Court that if he is re-elected, he would stay away from IPL governing council till a proposed committee decides on the question of conflict of interest involving him and his IPL franchisee Chennai Super Kings.
Responding to a poser from the court Tuesday, senior counsel Kapil Sibal told the bench of Justice T S Thakur and Justice F M I Kalifulla that Srinivasan would stay away from IPL governing council and its activities and also from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) meetings related to IPL.
Appearing for Srinivasan, Sibal told the apex court that if it allows BCCI elections and "if I contest and if I win, I undertake that I will stay away from IPL governing council, its activities and the BCCI meetings where the issue relating to IPL will be discussed".
Sibal said this during the hearing on a PIL by Cricket Association of Bihar which has sought to oust Srinivasan as BCCI president on the ground of his being in the conflict of interest situation being the president of the cricketing body and also the owner of CSK.
The PIL is also seeking the cancellation of IPL franchisee CSK on the ground of Meiyappan's alleged involvement in betting.
The Supreme Court had in March relieved Srinivasan of his duties as BCCI president to ensure a fair investigation into the controversy. The Justice Mukul Mudgal panel probing spot-fixing and betting allegations in the cash-rich IPL said in November that Srinivasan, who took over as ICC chairman in July, was not guilty of betting and fixing nor of having tried to prevent the investigation.
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Uber banned in Delhi; rape accused driver sent to police custody till Dec 11
New Delhi, December 08, 2014
Keeping in view the violation and the horrific crime committed by the driver, the transport department has banned all activities relating to providing any transport service by the www.Uber.com with immediate effect." said the statement by the transport department."The transport department has also blacklisted the company from providing any transport service in the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi in future, "it further said The department also alleged Uber had flouted transport rules and "misled" the passenger with its app. "M/s Uber also misled the commuter about the nature of the taxi service offered by the "Uber App," it said.Cab driver Shiv Kumar Yadav, accused of raping a woman executive on Friday night, was produced before a Delhi court and sent to police custody till December 11.The court sent him to a 3-day custody for interrogation after police told the court they had not yet recovered the mobile phone used by Yadav during the incident. Yadav also refused to participate in Test Identification Proceedings, which is a line-up where he could be identified by the alleged victim.
The policemen who produced Yadav before Metropolitan Magistrate Ambika Singh confirmed reports that Yadav had earlier spent nearly two years in jail over another rape charge.Yadav was in jail for nearly two years from 2011 in connection with another rape case. Yadav was acquitted last year when the victim allegedly turned hostile and the court found contradicitions in her statement, police officials told Hindustan Times.In that case , Yadav who worked as a cab driver, picked up a pub staffer from Gurgaon, took her to an isolated spot in Chattarpur and allegedly raped her inside the car.This would mean trouble for US online taxi-booking service Uber as they had hired the cab driver without the mandatory police verification. The police verification may have prevented the company from hiring him.Meanwhile, Uber tried to shift some of the blame on to the Delhi government for the failure to do background checks on the accused cab driver.Uber CEO Travis Kalanick issued a statement terming the incident horrific. "What happened over the weekend in New Delhi is horrific. Our entire team's hearts go out to the victim of this despicable crime. We will do everything, I repeat, everything to help bring this perpetrator to justice and to support the victim and her family in her recovery."We will work with the government to establish clear background checks currently absent in their commercial transportation licensing programs. We will also partner closely with the groups who are leading the way on women’s safety here in New Delhi and around the country and invest in technology advances to help make New Delhi a safer city for women," the statement said.
Uber officials have joined the investigation. “Every violation by Uber will be evaluated and we’ll go for legal recourse. The police would take legal advice before opting to press a criminal or civil case, Madhur Verma DCP ( North) said.
Yadav allegedly assaulted a 25-year-old woman MNC employee in north Delhi's Sarai Rohilla late Friday night.
The alleged rape, reported days before the second anniversary of the brutal gangrape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in a moving bus in the Capital in December 2012, sparked protests by womens groups and Congress and Aam Aadmi Party activists.
The cab service initially could not produce the call records of the accused as the server was located in the US.
This made it difficult for the police initially. The breakthrough came after around 12 police teams carried out raids in different parts of UP, especially around Mathura, 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of New Delhi where the crime took place.
Other side of story: Witnesses claim Rohtak sisters were not molested in bus
Rohtak, December 03, 2014
Two fresh witnesses have come forward with accounts that could scuttle the sexual harassment charges lodged by two Haryana sisters against three youths.They submitted their affidavits on Wednesday to police in support of the three youths— Kuldeep, Deepak and Mohit— accused of sexually harassing the sisters aboard Haryana Roadway bus on November 28.
Five others, some of them claiming to be the passengers on the Haryana Roadway bus in which the incident occurred, also shared their affidavits with reporters and stressed that the men have been wronged.TV grab of an eve-teaser getting beaten up by two sisters in a bus in Rohtak, Haryana. (PTI Photo)In her affidavit, Bimla, a resident of Sonepat district, said, she was waiting for bus at Rohtak bus stand. As soon as the bus reached the counter, she asked two of the boys to get seats for her and another woman who was unwell. When the boys requested the two girls — Aarti and Pooja — to vacate the seat allotted for the ailing woman, they refused and went ballistic. They later belted the boys after heated exchange of words. Another girl accompanying them captured the incident on mobile camera. To save themselves, the two boys jumped off the bus, said Bimla in her affidavit.Three women passengers from Thanakhurd village, the native place of the sisters, have also given similar statements to the police.Two witnesses have also given statements in connection with a month-old video showing the sisters beating up a boy in a Rohtak park.According to Virender Dhankar and Yogeshwer, residents of Baketa village in Rohtak, they were present at the Huda City Park in Rohtak when the incident happened. The girls abused and tore off a boy’s clothes after he asked them why they were wasting their time in the park instead of attending college. Another girl accompanying them videographed it, he told the police.However, now it seems the job of holding up the girls’ accusation rests entirely on the statements given by the conductor and the bus driver.According to Labh Singh, the conductor of the Haryana Roadway bus on which the incident occurred: “These girls and boys were arguing over some issue. I asked the girls if they wanted the driver to take the bus to the nearest police station. They refused. After the boys misbehaved with them, they beat them up. I have recorded my statement before police, but I was suspended.”Rohtak superintendent of police Shashasnk Anand said, “We are trying to finalise the chargesheet. We have recorded the statements of the driver and conductor, who have given statements in support of registration of FIR. We have come to know from media reports that some bus passengers have come forward with affidavits. We will record their statements as per the procedure,” he said
Minister links Muslims to crime, draws protest in Parliament
New Delhi, December 03, 2014
Amid a heated debate over high number of Muslims, Dalits and Tribals as under-trials, minister of state for home affairs, Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary, made a controversial remark saying that data showed states where Muslim population was high, the number of undetrials from the community were also high.“Jis state main zyada Muslim rahta hain, wahan zayda Muslim kaidi hota hain (In state where there are more Muslims, there are high Muslim under trials),” he said, while adding that there was no bias among the police against any religious group or caste. “Police is a state issue and we keep on issuing advisories to improve policing.” Chaudhary said this while replying to a supplementary question raised by Asaduddin Owaisi of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM) asking the reason for higher proportion of Muslim, Dalits and tribals in jail as compared to their proportion in the population. In a written reply, the minister informed that undertrials from Muslims, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe constituted about 1.48 lakh of the total 2.78 lakh. “It is a fact that the Muslims, Dalits and adivasis constitute 38.8% of the total population of our country. But the fact also is that the Muslims, Dalits and adivasis constitute 53% as undertrials". "These statistics reflect a serious and dangerous institutional bias among the law enforcement agencies, and the funny part is that their conviction rate is more or less the same. This clearly shows that all these fake cases are being registered against the Muslims, Dalits and adivasis,” Owaisi said. His statement resulted in immediate protest from the ruling party MPs who accused Owaisi of trying to give communal colour to the data provided by the home ministry and claimed that there was no bias against any community.
Union minister Jyoti 'regrets' controversial speech, offers apology
New Delhi, December 02, 2014
Minister of state for food processing industries Niranjan Jyoti triggered a controversy, claiming on Monday that every Indian including Muslims and Christians are sons of Ram. Campaigning in Delhi for the upcoming assembly elections, she also used abusive language to attack those who opposed this idea. Minister of state for food processing industries Niranjan Jyoti used expletives while campaigning for the BJP in Delhi. (HT File Photo) The opposition raised the issue in Parliament on Tuesday and demanded the sacking of Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti for the use of foul language. "It shows narrow-mindedness of BJP, such statement has never been made in history of democracy before," said Congress leader Ashwani Kumar.
Following the uproar Jyoti said, "I regret for the comments I gave outside the House. I take back my words. If the house demands , I am ready to even apologise." At an election campaign on Monday, Jyoti had asserted her point, while convincing people to vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party, she added that those who do not believe in this ideology, do not belong to India. "You have to decide. Do you want a government of Ramzaadon (followers of Ram) or 'expletive'?" she said. She heaped praises on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his efficient working style. "Narendra Modi's mantra is not to indulge in corruption and not let others to be a part of it," she said. She later told ANI, "I did not take name of any particular individual, community or party. My comment was directed at those who live in India and don't consider themselves Indian." Niranjan Jyoti, minister of state for food processing industries in the Narendra Modi-led government, is a leader who helped BJP make inroads among the Dalit and backward classes in the politically-crucial state of Uttar Pradesh. She is among the six BJP MPs drafted into the party's campaign for the Delhi polls due early next year. Jyoti also took digs at Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son-in-law Robert Vadra, who has been accused of making controversial land deals. "The son of an ordinary family, who sold utensils - Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law - how did this man become a millionaire? They robbed the poor." When asked her about the abusive remarks, she was defiant. "What else do you call people who loot the nation...those who steal from the people and stash it in foreign banks? You tell me what we should call them," she told reporters.
Will swap land with Dhaka, halt illegal immigrants: Modi
November 1, 2014
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that his government would go ahead with a land transfer deal with Bangladesh keeping illegal influx and Assam’s long-term security interests in mind.Bangladesh stands to gain some 10,000 acres of land through this deal the UPA government had initiated in 2011 and placed as a bill for ratification in Rajya Sabha in December last year. The BJP in Assam had opposed this deal, as did the Trinamool Congress in West Addressing party workers in Guwahati on Sunday, Modi said, “The land swap deal will be beneficial. It might seem to be an immediate loss for Assam, but it will serve security interests in the long term and help solve the problem of Bangladeshi migrants.” Infiltration from Bangladesh is a major issue in the Northeast. It is viewed as a demographic invasion designed to out-populate scores of indigenous communities in the region.
The Prime Minister said there would be no compromise with the security of the strategic Northeast. “The forces trying to destabilise Assam and the Northeast should know that Delhi has a new government and the law will not spare them now,” he said.Insisting that the BJP brand of politics was not based on casteism, communalism or regionalism, Modi said his party believes in nationalism. “Our mantra of inclusive development has compelled all political parties to rework their agendas,” he said, adding that his government has special plans for the Northeast.
Good intelligence is key for internal security: Modi at security meet in Guwahati
Nov 30, 2014,
GUWAHATI: Advocating the concept of 'SMART' policing, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said a country which has an efficient intelligence network does not need any arms and ammunition to run the government. Focusing on the police force and intelligence agencies, the Prime Minister said he wanted a force which takes care of the country's law and order in an efficient manner."By 'SMART' policing, I mean S for strict but sensitive, M for modern and mobile, A for alert and accountable, R for reliable and responsive and T for techno-savvy and trained", Modi said while addressing the DGP's conference here.
The police force should inculcate these values to ensure best policing which will go a long way in improving its image and work culture, he said.The Prime Minister also highlighted the need to honour 33,000 police personnel martyred in the country after Independence as "this was not a small number and their sacrifice should not go waste".The Prime Minister said the country can be run through an efficient intelligence network without much dependence on arms."The country which has high class intelligence network does not need any arms and ammunition. So, it is very important to have a very high class intelligence network," he said.Modi said through a lot of good things were happening in the nation, positive stories should be published properly so that people are aware about it.The Prime Minister said a task force of senior police officials should be set up to workout a protocol and incorporate certain measures to ensure that the "legacy of the sacrifice of martyrs are honoured and respect for them is established in society".A protocol to ensure that the force takes full responsibility of conducting their last rites with full honour as "they had died on duty for the safety and security of the common man".
Besides, each state has a police academy where new recruits are trained and it should be made mandatory to include in their syllabus an account of the life of policemen killed on duty, Modi said."There should be a new official government book where the new generation of police will study about these martyrs — their lives and sacrifice and every year a new updated edition should be brought out," he said.He said an e-book should be brought out in every state on these martyrs in the local language as well as the national language and "this may seem to be a small gesture but will be a big inspiration".A policeman's life is full of tension as their life is always at stake and unless "we ensure that there is peace and stability in their family, they cannot give their full to society"."It is the responsibility of the government to set up a systematic system to ensure certain welfare schemes to ease their lives like medical checkup, education of their children and their housing, particularly for those at the lower level," he said. The Prime Minister said home minister Rajnath Singh, who "was a successful chief minister of India's largest state, and he himself as Gujarat chief minister had kept the home portfolio and are so fully aware of the situation at the grass root and how to tackle these issues".On the decision to hold such conferences outside the national capital, the Prime Minister said everyone was wondering why a tradition of all these years was broken and this meeting was held in Guwahati."In Delhi, everyone comes with their own work. Here your total focus is on the conference. Most importantly, people get encouragement. Local police would be very encouraged and I am sure you have realised this fact. In future too, such conference would be held in other states," he said. Modi said it was important that the policing system should have life, it should not be robotic. The director of Intelligence Bureau in Guwahati, Asif Ibrahim, who addressed the meet earlier, said that terror outfits like ISIS and al-Qaida are a serious challenge for India. Addressing the 49th DGPs/IGs conference in Guwahati on Saturday, Union home minister Rajnath Singh had raised the issue of ISIS and called it a major security threat.
The home minister also added that the country is united to fight any anti-national activity. "Muslims fought for India's freedom like Hindus did. Al-Qaida won't succeed in their motives," Rajnath said.
Nigeria blasts: Boko Haram's reply to top Muslim cleric's war cry against the militants?
Katsina, Nigeria, November 29, 2014
Two bombs exploded at the mosque of one of Nigeria's top Islamic leaders Friday, a week after he issued a call to arms to fight Boko Haram. At least 120 people were killed and 270 others wounded when two suicide bombers blew themselves up and gunmen opened fire in the latest chapter of violence in the African country where bombings, kidnappings and assassinations have become a routine. The blasts happened at the Grand Mosque in Kano, the biggest city in the Muslim north of the country, just as Friday prayers had got under way at about 2:00 pm (1300 GMT). The mosque is attached to the palace of the Emir of Kano, Nigeria's second most senior Muslim cleric.Police officers stand near wreckage at a scene of multiple bombings at Kano Central Mosque. (Reuters Photo) The explosions came after civilian vigilantes in the northeastern city of Maiduguri said they foiled a bomb attack against a mosque, five days after two female suicide bombers killed over 45 people in the city. "Two bombs exploded, one after the other, in the premises of the Grand Mosque seconds after the prayers had started," worshipper Aminu Abdullahi told AFP. "A third one went off in a nearby road close to the Qadiriyya Sufi order. The blasts were followed by gunshots by the police to scare off potential attacks." His account was backed up by another witness, Hajara Tukur, who said she lives nearby. The emir, known officially as Muhammad Sanusi II, last week said at the same mosque that northerners should take up arms against Boko Haram, which has been fighting for a hardline Islamic state since 2009. He also cast doubt on Nigerian troops' ability to protect civilians and end the insurgency, in rare public comments by a cleric on political and military affairs. The Emir of Kano is a hugely influential figure in Nigeria, which is home to more than 80 million Muslims, most of whom live in the north. Officially the emir is the country's number two cleric, behind the Sultan of Sokoto, and any attack could inflame tensions in Nigeria's second city, which is an ancient seat of Islamic study.
Sanusi was named emir earlier this year and is a prominent figure in his own right, having previously served as the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. During his time in charge of the CBN, he spoke out against massive government fraud and was suspended from his post in February just as his term of office was drawing to a close.
Boko Haram has repeatedly attacked Kano. On November 14, a suicide bomb attack at a petrol station killed six people, including three police. The Islamists have a record of attacking prominent clerics. In July 2012 a suicide bomber killed five people leaving Friday prayers at the home of the Shehu of Borno in Maiduguri.The Shehu is Nigeria's number three Islamic leader. Boko Haram threatened Sanusi's predecessor and the Sultan of Sokoto for allegedly betraying the faith by submitting to the authority of the secular government in Abuja. Andrew Noakes, co-ordinator of the Nigeria Security Network of security analysts, said the attack fit a pattern of violence targeting religious and traditional leaders seen as "allies" of the state.
He said it was possible that the group carried out the attack as a direct response to Sanusi's comments last week, although it may have been planned beforehand. "Whatever the case, the group has sent a message to northern leaders that crossing them will have consequences," Noakes said in an email exchange. Boko Haram attacks in recent months have ranged from the far northeast of Nigeria, across the wider north and northwest, using hit-and-run tactics, suicide bombings and car bombs.
The authorities in Cameroon, Chad and Niger have all expressed concern about Boko Haram's ability to conduct cross-border strikes, particularly as the dry season approaches. In Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, civilian vigilantes said they had discovered a suspected remote-controlled device planted in the Gamboru Market area of the city. It was successfully defused by the police bomb squad but as the bomb was being made safe, another device exploded nearby. There were no casualties, as the area had been cordoned off. "Our assumption is that the bombs were planted ahead of Friday prayers in the mosque just nearby," civilian vigilante Babakura Adam said. "Of course, it's Boko Haram's handiwork because in the last few days several arrests have been made of suspected female suicide bombers." Fears have grown in Maiduguri about an upsurge in Boko Haram attacks, after the militant Islamists took over more than two dozen towns in Borno and two neighbouring states in recent months. The use of concealed roadside bombs would be a departure for Boko Haram, which has previously used direct hit-and-run tactics, car bombs and suicide attacks as part of its deadly campaign.
Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes, 25, dies from head injury after being hit by Sean Abbott bouncer
Sydney, November 27, 2014
Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes died in hospital on Thursday, two days after the batsman was struck on the head by a bouncer during a domestic match.Governing body Cricket Australia (CA) confirmed the 25-year-old had lost his fight for life.
"We are extremely sad to announce that Phillip Hughes has passed away at the age of 25," CA said on its Twitter feed.
"Our thoughts go out to Phillip's family, friends, and the entire cricket community on this incredibly sad day."
There were no further details.Hughes had spent a second night in a Sydney hospital in an induced coma after having emergency surgery to relieve pressure on his brain.The batsman was struck on the head by a ball at the Sydney Cricket Ground, a devastating blow experts compared to the trauma suffered by victims of a car crash.News of Hughes death followed calls by former players for the Australian team to abandon the first test match against India next week.Questions about the response time of ambulances dispatched to the stadium were also The head of New South Wales Ambulance was to be hauled before the state health minister Jillian Skinner on Thursday after the ambulance authority issued conflicting statements about their response times.The arrival of the first ambulance took 15 minutes, NSW Ambulance clarified in a statement on Wednesday.
The state's median response time for the highest priority "life-threatening cases" was just under eight minutes in 2013-14, according the authority's statistics."Due to the conflicting information distributed today by NSW Ambulance regarding (Tuesday's) response to the Sydney Cricket Ground, I will be meeting with NSW Ambulance Commissioner Ray Creen tomorrow to discuss the circumstances surrounding the incident," Skinner said.Dr Peter Larkins, a leading sports physician, told Reuters: "Time is of the essence when your brain has suffered trauma
Veena Malik sentenced to 26 years in jail for blasphemy in Pak
Islamabad, November 26, 2014
The owner of Pakistan's biggest media group, Geo TV, along with actor Veena Malik and her husband was sentenced to 26 years in prison by an anti-terrorism court for allegedly airing a blasphemous programme.The TV show played a religious song while staging a mock marriage of Veena Malik (above) with husband Bashir. (AFP photo)Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, owner of Geo and Jang group, was accused of allowing the airing of a blasphemous programme by Geo television in May, which played a religious song while staging a mock marriage of Malik with her hisband Asad Bashir Khan Khattak.Judge Shahbaz Khan also sentenced both Malik and Bashir along with TV host Shaista Wahidi for 26 years each. The ATC also imposed a 1.3 million Pakistani rupees fine on the convicts and ordered that their properties should be sold to raise the fine, if they failed to pay it.
The judge said in his judgment that all four accused committed profanity. The court in its 40-page verdict also asked the police to arrest the convicts, an official said. He said that the convict can appeal in the regional high court in Gilgit-Baltistan. There are reports that all four are out of Pakistan. Rahman resides in the UAE and the other three also went abroad after recieving threats by militant organisations. It is not known when the arrests would be carried out. Both Wahidi and the Geo group have tendered apology after the allegations were levelled but the extremists in the country refused to accept it. Other blasphemy cases were also registered against them in various cities, including Karachi and Islamabad.
Infrastructure my priority in India: Modi at Saarc summit
Agencies Kathmandu, November 26, 2014
Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed better regional ties at Saarc summit Wednesday, laying emphasis on cooperation. Here are the highlights of Modi's speech. Also, read on to know what's happening at the summit. # The future I wish for India is the future I wish for our entire South Asia. # Ours is a region of thriving democracy.# There is much to learn from each other, even more - to do together. # I congratulate the government of Nepal for successfully holding the SAARC summit.
# From the people of Pakistan to people of SAARC region, I bring warm greetings and sentiments of goodwill and friendship.
# The theme selected for 18th SAARC summit is very important. # The theme is most appropriate & reflects our common desire in reaching out to get a win-win situation. # The gap between the promise of SAARC & its accomplishments need to be built for the greater good of the people. # My vision is for South Asia is that instead of fighting each other, we must jointly fight poverty, malnutrition. # We are committed to dispute free South Asia, need bonds of trust to solve our problems.
Sharif's speech, especially his stress on 'jointly fighting poverty' is being viewed as a peace message to India.Speculation over Modi-Sharif meeting The big question, on the sidelines of each Saarc summit, is of course whether Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will meet. Coming after a season of chill - where India called off foreign secretary level talks and the international border and LOC saw some heavy cross border shelling - this assumes salience. It has been increasingly clear that Modi and Sharif will meet, the question is what will be the nature of the meeting. Will it merely be a handshake at the summit venue? Will it a pull aside at the informal retreat in Dhulikhel for a brief chat? Or will it be a full bilateral meeting to resume the conversation they left off in May? According to Modi's schedule, he will hold talks with all Saarc leaders, barring Sharif. Regional superpower India seeking to boost trade and reinvigorate ties in its backyard, but analysts say little can be achieved while its bitter rivalry with Pakistan persists.But the mistrust between India and Pakistan -- widely seen as the main obstacle to greater South Asian integration -- is unlikely to be resolved so easily. The region's first summit in three years follows some of the worst cross-border violence in the disputed region of Kashmir in a decade, and comes as NATO-led troops prepare to pull out of Afghanistan, intensifying the India-Pakistan rivalry for influence there. "Saarc's main problem is that Saarc is basically about India and Pakistan, with the Afghanistan dimension thrown in now," said Sujeev Shakya, chairman of the Nepal Economic Forum. "It would be far better if Saarc were to break down its structure and a trade grouping were to emerge between Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Myanmar," he told AFP, adding such a grouping would "accomplish more on the trade front".The 18th Saarc summit commenced in Kathmandu Wednesday morning. The leaders of the eight South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) countries are meeting for the first time since the election of a new Indian government that is eager to avoid losing influence to rival power China.As chair of Saarc, Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul opened the summit and handed over the responsibility of the chair of the regional bloc to Nepal's Prime Minister Sushil Koirala. Ahead of the summit, three meetings at foreign ministers', foreign secretaries' and joint secretaries' levels decided to scrap three Saarc regional centres and merge four others into one. It also decided to improve agricultural productivity, food and nutritional security, enhance cooperation on trade, economy, finance, investment, energy, connectivity, health, education and agriculture and bring about project-based engagement of the Saarc observers. It decided to accord body status to the South Asian Women's Development Forum and upgrade the Saarc Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS Centre laboratory to a Supranational Laboratory as the agenda for the summit. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Afghanistan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul and Bhutanese Prime Minister Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay are attending the summit.
Ferguson shooting: US cop not charged in unarmed teen's death, protests erupt
Missouri, November 25, 2014
Missouri grand jury voted not to charge a white police officer for the fatal August shooting of an unarmed black teenager, an incident that set off weeks of sometimes violent protests around the St Louis area, a county prosecutor said on Monday.
Angry crowds took to the streets around the Ferguson, Missouri, police department and there were flashes of violence after the grand jury determined there was no probable cause to charge officer Darren Wilson with any crime for the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. The incident highlighted longstanding racial tensions in the predominantly black city, which has a white-dominated power structure."They determined that no probable cause exists to file any charge against officer Wilson," St Louis county prosecutor Bob McCulloch told reporters in Clayton, Missouri, the St Louis suburb where the grand jury met.
Brown's family said they were "profoundly disappointed" by the grand jury's finding. "While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change," the family said in a statement released by its attorneys.Lesley McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown, wearing sunglasses, listens to the announcement of the grand jury decision. (AP Photo) Attorneys for Wilson, who has avoided the spotlight since the shooting, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. President Barack Obama called for protesters to remain peaceful and for police to show restraint."We are a nation built on the rule of law and so we need to accept that this decision was the grand jury's to make," Obama in a televised news conference. "We need to recognize that the situation in Ferguson speaks to broader challenges that we still face as a nation. The fact remains that in too many parts of this country a deep distrust exists between police and communities of color." A crowd of several hundred people gathered outside the Ferguson police department ahead of the news, and many began to scream angrily as the news of the grand jury's decision was read.
"Murderers, you're nothing but murderers," one woman shouted through a megaphone at officers clad in riot gear. "Stinking murderers." A group of protesters briefly mobbed a police car, throwing rocks and knocking out its windows, prompting a group of officers clad in riot gear to advance. Sounds of gunshots briefly caused police to take cover behind their vehicles. Police later fired tear gas at the crowd. "They need to understand that when you put your son in the ground, that's a pain that you can never overcome," said Paulette Wilkes, a 40-year-old teacher's assistant. "People are trying to process it. I think once they process it they will continue to burn and loot because they're angry." Missouri governor Jay Nixon called up the National Guard ahead of the announcement of the decision to guard against the kind of rioting that flared in the weeks after the August 9 shooting. Some activists described the decision to preemptively activate the guard as unnecessarily heavy-handed, particularly following complaints that police inflamed crowds in August by responding in a heavily militarized posture, using tear gas and rubber bullets. The grand jury, with nine white and three black members, began meeting in late August and heard evidence that included witnesses called by the prosecution as well as a private pathologist hired by the Brown family to review the shooting. Protesters march during a rally near the Chicago Police headquarters after the announcement of the grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. (AP Photo) McCulloch declined to say if the jury's decision was unanimous, noting that grand jury proceedings are completely secret and that only the jury members McCulloch described a tangled mass of conflicting testimony from 60 witnesses about what happened during the incident that led to Brown's death, but said much of it did not square with the physical evidence. "Many of the same witnesses acknowledged that they did not see the shooting," McCulloch said. "The grand jury worked tirelessly to examine and reexamine the testimony of all the witnesses and all the physical evidence." Lawyers for Brown's family say the teen was trying to surrender when he was shot, while Wilson's supporters say he feared for his life and opened fire in self-defense.
Witnesses disagreed on whether Brown's hands were up at the time he was shot, McCulloch said, adding that Wilson shot at Brown 12 times, with the final shot hitting Brown in the top of his head. Brown is suspected of having stolen cigars from a nearby convenience store shortly before the incident. Brown and a friend had been walking down the middle of the street when Wilson approached them. Police said in August that Wilson was not aware of the robbery at the time. In other US cities, protesters gathered in mostly peaceful demonstrations. A crowd of about three dozen protesters gathered outside the courthouse in Clayton where the grand jury had met, and many stood in stunned silence following the news.
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All MPs have a responsibility to run the country: Modi
New Delhi, November 24, 2014
Opposition parties, led by the Congress, are set to play hardball over the Modi government’s legislative agenda on reforms even as the Centre has lined up an extensive list of business for the winter session of Parliament.On Monday, however, both the Houses are expected to be adjourned after obituary reference for sitting Rajya Sabha MP and senior Congress leader Murli Deora who died early morning.The government has lined up 37 bills for introduction and another 19 for passage during the session. The list includes GST bill, Insurance act amendment bill and Lokpal bill amendments.Tuesday may see confrontation in the Upper House as the government has listed two labour reforms bills—the Labour Laws Amendment Bill and the Apprentices (Amendment) Bill – that the Congress-led Opposition may flex its muscle over.“We do not have a blanket opposition to reforms. But on these (labour) bills we need to talk to labour unions first and take them on board,” Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh told HT.Most unions are opposed to amendments to the factories act and the pprenticeship act which are pending before parliament.Trinamool Congress, already holding the Modi government responsible for its MP Srinjoy Bose’s arrest by the CBI, slammed the decision to hold the all-party meet on a Sunday.Its chief spokesperson Derek O’Brien told HT, "They had all the time in the world to call this meeting. They picked a Sunday to show as if only they are working". O’Brien added they are in touch with different non-NDA parties and want to raise the issue of black money "aggressively".Helping the NDA brace against the coming Opposition storm, the Shiv Sena gave its “full support” to the Modi government. “There may be some unfinished negotiations in Maharashtra, but we are supporting the NDA from inside,” said Sena leader Sanjay Rout.
PM Modi copying my scheme of adopting villages, building toilets: Mulayam Singh Yadav
LUCKNOW: Nov 23, 2014, Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav on Sunday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of "copying" his schemes of adopting villages and constructing toilets. "He (Modi) is talking about adopting villages. I have adopted villages in 1990. The Prime Minister is copying me. I have done all this. I have initiated construction of toilets in 1990," Yadav said while addressing a function here. The SP chief said "you talk about removing 'gandagi'. You first remove poverty and it will automatically vanish." I have done, what he (PM) is talking now. You all should know, he added. READ ALSO: Mulayam rides a buggy on birthday, Azam Khan says Taliban, Dawood funded celebrations He asked party leaders, including legislators and ministers, to adopt at least two villages and work there."If you all work in your area and understand your responsibilities, change would be visible," Yadav said.Samajwadi Party cheif Mulayam Singh Yadav with UP CM Akhilesh Yadav and Azam Khan cutting cake on the occassion of Mulayam Singh Yadav's 75th birthday. (PTI Photo) Welcoming Prime Minister's foreign visits, the SP chief said, "I personally feel that it's good that he is touring. We should have good relations with our neighbours and other countries and lessen enmity." He said he will ask the PM that with how many countries he had established friendship.
Alarm in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu as Andhra’s Naidu 2.0 goes on business hunt
Nov 23, 2014,
HYDERABAD/BENGALURU/CHENNAI: For many years, after he lost office in 2004, Chandrababu Naidu would flinch when complimented on his industry-friendly approach as chief minister of united Andhra Pradesh. He seemed wary of owning up to his past, attributing his electoral loss to the pursuit of liberal economic policies that were seen to be focused around Hyderabad and ignored the rest of the state, particularly rural AP. Back in the saddle this June, Naidu 2.0 is closer to his old avatar. His pincer raids on Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have raised hackles in both Bengaluru and Chennai. Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah has complained to PM Narendra Modi about the unfair tax breaks Andhra gets because of its 'new state' status. And no surprise, J Jayalalithaa shot off a similar missive to the PM.That the chief minister of a state that's synonymous with IT and accounts for almost 40% of India's technology industry is worried about Naidu's charm offensive is a good indicator of how seriously Karnataka is taking the Naidu threat. Naidu wants to attract $2 billion in IT investments over the next five years to Andhra. He also wants to create 50 lakh tech jobs, take broadband connectivity (1000 mbps or gigabit) to every village, and make at least one person e-literate in every household. To boost entrepreneurship, he plans to create one-million sq ft of incubation space by 2019. In early November, Naidu was back in Bengaluru for the nth time, meeting industry captains and entrepreneurs. He made a pit stop at Cisco's campus where he addressed employees at an all-hands meeting, perhaps the first town hall hosted to welcome the head of a local state. He shared his vision on how technology would be the backbone of his new state. He also met senior executives from Flipkart, First American Corporation, ITC Infotech and ABB among others.
Rampal has Maoist links, say Haryana cops after Hisar ashram crackdown
New Delhi, November 20, 2014
Haryana Police have struck upon a Maoist link to controversial Haryana-based leader Rampal, whose ashram in Hisar saw two days of bloody and chaotic scenes before his arrest on Wednesday evening. Engineer-turned-religious leader Rampal was wanted on a series of charges including conspiracy to murder. (File Photo) In August, Haryana Police arrested Mahaveer Saklani, believed to be a sub-area commander in the banned CPI (Maoist). Saklani was staying at the Barwala ashram of Rampal before he was picked up from Gurgaon in a joint operation with the Special Task Force (STF) of Bihar Police. Central intelligence sources told HT that Saklani, who hails from East Champaran district in Bihar, had slipped into Nepal a few years ago, but returned to India and settled down at the Barwala ashram. “A source tipped us off about his return to India. This was passed on to the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau (SIB), which tracked him to Barwala,” a senior central intelligence official said. Saklani’s earlier involvement with the ashram has been passed on to the Union home ministry. After the siege of the ashram began on Tuesday, state police questioned Saklani to map details of the ashram’s fortifications as well as tactical capabilities of Rampal’s followers. Saklani is believed to have helped Rampal’s followers fortify the campus during his stay there. “He instructed them on to how to make petrol bombs and gave them rudimentary training in firearms,” the intelligence official added. “Saklani was active in the Maoist movement in Bihar’s northern districts before the three major factions came together as CPI (Maoist). He then continued to work in Jharkhand and Bihar before escaping to Nepal,” a senior home ministry official told HT. “Cases have been registered against him since 2001 but we are yet to establish his exact hierarchy within the Maoists.” According to other intelligence officials, Saklani stayed in the ashram where he told everyone that he was a doctor, even though he lacked any formal training in medicine.
Delhi girl murdered before friends could celebrate wedding
New Delhi, November 20, 2014
November 16 was the day Abhishek and Bhawna’s friends had planned to celebrate the couple’s union. Instead, they spent the day searching for Bhawna only to find out that she was dead.It all began on November 4, 2012, a Saturday. As was their custom, Abhishek, then 22, and his close friend Vishal went to meet a friend at a party. According to Vishal, they were waiting for that friend outside Venkateswara College when they were greeted by two women, one of whom was 19-year-old Bhawna. “But a month later, we knew they were a couple. We would all hang out together and go on outings across the city every weekend. Abhishek would ride his bike with Bhawna riding pillion. He even taught her to ride a scooty,” said Vishal.Bhawna, whose father is a property dealer, told her parents about Abhishek and how she wanted to marry him. The couple tried everything to convince them, but failed. They even went ahead and fixed her engagement to a Gurgaon resident who was from their caste. She had fought hard with them then, Vishal remembered. The engagement was scheduled for November 22.But Bhawna had other plans. She wanted to marry Abhishek before that happened. “They decided to marry, hoping that Bhawna’s parents would accept Abhishek in the days to come. We had planned a party on November 16 to celebrate the marriage. But it wasn’t meant to be. The day we were to celebrate, we were frantically searching for Bhawna. That evening we came to know that she had been murdered,” said another friend.Bhawna’s friends told HT that Bhawna had been quite excited about the wedding. An indulgent Abhishek had gone with her when she had visited several shops in Tilak Nagar market in the first week of November to try out several outfits for her big day. She had finally settled for a red and blue lehnga which she wore on her wedding at the Arya Samaj temple. Abhishek had even bought a pendant for his new wife.The two had given their outfits to a friend to keep their wedding a secret from their parents. On the morning of November 12, Abhishek left his house with his friends for the temple at Connaught Place where Bhawna was already present. The wedding took place there. The temple issued them a certificate and their friends signed up as witnesses.
Six dead at Rampal's Hisar ashram, godman still evading arrest: Haryana DGP
New Delhi, November 19, 2014
Six people, incuding a child, have died during the action at the Hisar ashram to arrest godman Rampal, but the cause of their deaths is yet to be known, Haryana police said Wednesday.Haryana DGP SN Vashisht said at a news conference that the dead included five women. The bodies which were found inside the ashram were sent to hospital for postmortem examination.
"There were no bullet or other injury marks on the dead. The police have not yet entered the ashram. The autopsy will reveal the cause of deaths," Vashisht said emphasising the ashram inmates had not died in the police action.Police also said 5,000 of Rampal's followers are still holed up inside the ashram and they have been asked to come out peacefully or face further action."We cannot launch a fullscale assault as there are many innocents are still trapped inside. More than 10,000 have come out safely so far and police have managed to save many lives," Vashisht said.Authorities had called off the operation on Tuesday evening after violent resistance from Rampal's followers foiled police attempts to enter the ashram.The godman is still elusive. While Haryana DGP SN Vashisht said they believe Rampal was inside the ashram, its spokesperson Raj Kapoor said Rampal was "unwell" and was being treated at an "undisclosed location".The police had tried to storm Satlok Ashram on the outskirts of Hisar city to arrest the 63-year-old self-styled godman who is wanted on murder charges when his supporters fired with country-made weapons from inside.Rampal's followers fought pitched battles by lobbing petrol bombs to thwart the charge by a 3,000-strong contingent of Haryana police commandos to storm the high-walled complex.Police have so far failed to produce the controversial guru in court in connection with a contempt of court case. Rampal is on bail in another case in connection with the killing of a man in firing from his ashram in Rohtak in 2006.
Winter session to see if friends-turned-foes in Maharashtra remain allies at Centre
NEW DELHI: Nov 16 The winter session of Parliament beginning next week is expected to see whether the friends-turned-foes in Maharashtra would remain allies at the Centre.Shiv Sena, which has been the oldest ideological ally of the BJP, is sitting in the opposition benches in Maharashtra while its nominee is part of the Narendra Modi Cabinet in New Delhi.Interestingly, ahead of the Parliament session, Sharad Pawar's NCP has become a strange bedfellow of BJP in Maharashtra while being the second largest constituent of Congress-led UPA in Delhi."We have not taken a decision about our future course of action. There have been some issues of discord. We have differences of opinion on some matters," Shiv Sena spokesman and leader of the party in Rajya Sabha Sanjay Raut told PTI.A tussle appeared to be on in Shiv Sena on the course to be adopted with a section still seeking sharing of power with BJP while another wanting the party to play the role of the opposition.
Facebook to curb promotional posts on user timelines
November 15, 2014
acebook on Friday said it is making moves to reduce the number of promotional posts that pop up in timelines, in response to users' demands for fewer advertisements.Beginning in January, people should start seeing fewer posts in news feeds urging them to do things such as buy products, download applications or enter sweepstakes, according to the leading social media titan."People told us they wanted to see more stories from friends and pages they care about, and less promotional content," the California-based social network company said in a blog post. The change was prompted by a survey that revealed Facebook users think there are too many advertisement-like posts in news feeds.The social media giant said it discovered that a lot of pitches that came across as advertising were actually posts from pages people had "liked," according to the blog post."This may seem counter-intuitive, but it actually makes sense," Facebook said. "News feed has controls for the number of ads a person sees and for the quality of those ads... but those same controls haven't been as closely monitored for promotional page posts." New controls are being put in place to filter overly ad-like posts, according to the social network. But the adjustment will not change the number of ads served up to users, according to Facebook.
Chhattisgarh sterilisation deaths: Doctor held, more arrests likely
New Delhi, November 13, 2014
TV reports said the other doctors who assisted in the surgery too were likely to be arrested soon.NDTV quoted Dr Gupta as saying that he was not at fault and that he was pressurised by authorities to meet targets Incidentally, Dr Gupta was reportedly awarded by health minister Amar Agarwal for conducting a record 50,000 surgeries in his career. He was on the run since the first deaths were reported and an FIR was lodged against him on Tuesday. The 59-year old doctor had operated on 83 women last Saturday in Takhatpur health camp, which would mean that he spent just two minutes per tubectomy.Meanwhile reports in The Indian Express said that even after the botched Bilaspur surgeries, 26 more tubectomies were done in one hour at another camp. This happened at the Gaurela camp where one woman died and 20 others reported post-surgery complications.As was the case in Bilaspur, at the Gaurela camp, 26 women were operated upon in less than an hour.Meanwhile even as reports said that rusted equipment were used in thhe surgeries, a team of doctors from Delhi's premier AIIMS hospital is in Bilaspur to investigate what happened.
Shiv Sena helps BJP's Bagde become speaker, but will vote against Fadnavis in floor test
New Delhi, November 12, 2014
BJP's Haribhau Bagde was Wednesday elected the speaker of the Maharashtra assembly unopposed after the Shiv Sena and the Congress withdrew their candidates.The Shiv Sena, despite the ongoing war of words with the BJP, left a window open for reconciliation by withdrawing its candidate Vijay Auti for the speaker's post at the last moment.The Congress too withdrew its candidate Varsha Gaikwad , paving the way for Haribhau Bagde to be elected speaker of the assembly unanimously.
However the Sena said it will sit in the opposition and vote against the Fadnavis government during the trust vote later in the house.http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/2014/11/ed850c64-f9a3-405e-b7b3-d9fc1643eb4fWallpaper2.JPGShiv
Sena leader Ramdas Kadam told reporters that the MLAs have been told by the party leadership to vote against the BJP in the election for the assembly speaker and in the trust vote.He however said that the Sena leadership was still in talks with the BJP, further adding to the uncertainty over the future of politcal relations between the two former allies
The BJP immediately hit back with minister Sudhir Mungantiwar saying , "Shiv Sena's decision is purely to benefit their party. It's not in the interests of Maharashtra."The Sena MLAs were summoned to the party headquarters in the morning and was asked to be present in the house and follow the leadershipship's orders on voting.The BJP is confident it will sail through the trust vote with support from the NCP. "We have the numbers and we will win the trust vote in the Maharashtra assembly", party leader Eknath Khadse said.Earlier the Sena upped its offensive with its editorial in the Saamna saying that BJP's only aim was to save the government , and that it was willing to take the support of the 'corrupt' NCP."Are you (BJP) going to win the confidence vote with the aid of these rats (NCP)? You will have to answer to the people. But in reality you cannot tell anyone where you will end up taking Maharashtra with the aid of these rats, " the editorial said.In his meeting with party MLAs Tuesday evening , Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had asked them to be prepared to sit in the Opposition if there was no reconciliation with the BJP.They were told the party was not in the mood to compromise and would join the government only if a respectable proposal was put forward.Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had called up Thackeray to urge him to withdraw the nomination filed by his party for the post of speaker. Thackeray reportedly told Fadnavis a decision will be taken based on the outcome of the negotiations on a power-sharing formula between leaders of both the parties.Though the Sena is still hopeful of a headway , the proposals being put forth by the BJP did not match the Sena demand, said party sources.Some Sena leaders claimed the BJP’s top brass in Delhi, including finance minister Arun Jaitley, were in constant touch with their leaders and this may result in a positive outcome at the last moment.Jaitley was talking to Sena MP Anil Desai till late night on Tuesday. Union minister and BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy’s statement that they were positive of the outcome of the talks with the Sena kept the party’s hopes alive.
Chhattisgarh: 8 women dead, 25 critical after sterilisation surgery in govt camp
New Delhi, November 11, 2014
Eight women have died and more than 25 others are in critical condition after undergoing sterilisation surgeries in a camp held at Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh. Organised by the Chhattisgarh government in the home district of state health minister Amar Agarwal, the camp saw 83 women being operated upon on Saturday as part of the annual family planning camp. After the women started complaining of severe pain, they were referred to the Bilaspur district hospital, where eight of the women died. The women -- all residents of neighbouring villages and most from BPL families -- had undergone the laparoscopic tubectomy in just five hours at the camp in Takhatpur area of Bilaspur. "Since Monday eight women have died and 64 are in various hospitals," said Sonmani Borah, a Chhattisgarh government official said. Though health officials denied any negligence, some admit that too many surgeries were perfomed in one day to meet targets. The government has set up a three-member panel to investigate the incident, and announced a compensation of Rs. 2 lakh each for the families of the women who died, and Rs. 50,000 for those who are undergoing treatment. These camps are held between October and February, and women who go through the surgery
World Chess Championship: 'Whiz kid' Carlsen draws first blood, beats Anand
New Delhi November 10, 2014
Defending champion Magnus Carlsen outplayed Viswanathan Anand on Sunday in 35 moves in the second game of the World Chess Championship being held at Sochi.23-year-old Carlsen started with white and tore down Anand's Berlin defence by swinging the game first to queen's side and from there on to the king's side.On the seventh move, the champion went in for an early trading of his white bishop for black's queen side knight, in the process disturbed Anand's pawn structure.Here is the game board at the end of game 1. You can press the arrow buttons and play the game from scratch.On move 11, Carlsen played a4 with an intention of creating a weak queen rook pawn for Anand. Undeterred Anand played a5 which in turn opened up the files for his two bishops.In his next move, Carlsen traded his knight for Anand's black bishop. This shifted the play to the centre of the board.He then brought his queen side rook into play moving it a3 to be ready for an attack. At this position, all his pieces were ready for action with the field clear for forward movement and ready for a long grind.Though there was no major threat for Anand's king, the piece mobilisation was a psychological attack.At the end of the 22nd move, both players had two rooks, queen and seven pawns.By this time, Carlsen had moved in to an active position, while Anand seemed to have lost the plot.Anand, more popular of the two on social media, managed to achieve a tangible position but made a blunder in the end with h5, allowing Carlsen to take his queen to b7.Along with his rook on e7, Anand decided to call it Carlsen said he had to double check whether his queen's move was actually a winning one."It is a pity I threw it away," Anand said."Vishy self destructed today. I think he created a big hole for himself and it is nearly impossible to get out of," Susan Polgar, a four-time women's World chess champion, told IANS.With his first victory as early as in the second tie of the 12-game match, Carlsen now leads the series by 1.5-0.5. Team Anand will now have to think of something out-of-the-box to contain the Carlsen juggernaut
21 new ministers join PM Narendra Modi's government, Shiv Sena boycotts oath ceremony
NEW DELHI:November 09, 2014 Former Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and three others were on Sunday inducted into the Union Cabinet as Prime Minister Narendra Modi expanded his council of ministers, bringing in 21 new ministers as Shiv Sena kept away from the exercise.
Suresh Prabhu, a former Shiv Sainik and power minister in Vajpayee government, senior BJP leader JP Nadda and Jat leader from Haryana Birender Singh, who joined BJP ahead of assembly elections, were the other Cabinet ministers to take oath of office and secrecy at a function in the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Unresolved issues between Sena and BJP in Maharashtra stopped Sena MP Anil Desai from taking oath as he reportedly returned to Mumbai from the airport after arriving here on Sunday morning.
Bandaru Dattatreya and Rajiv Pratap Rudy, who were ministers in the Vajpayee government, and Mahesh Sharma, newly-elected MP from Gautam Buddh Nagar bordering Delhi, were sworn-in as Ministers of State with Independent Charge.
New Cabinet ministers: (Clockwise from top left) Manohar Parrikar, Suresh Prabhu, Birender Singh, JP Nadda. (Photo: ANI/Twitter)
14 other ministers of state were sworn in. They are Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Ram Kripal Yadav, Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary, Sanwar Lal Jat and Mohanbhai Kalyanjibhai Kundariya Giriraj Singh, Hansraj Ahir, Ram Shankar Katheria, Jayant Sinha, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Babul Supriyo, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and Vijay Sampla (all BJP) and Y S Chowdary, a Rajya Sabha member from TDP.
Dhanbad men held for wearing ISIS shirts during Muharram procession
Dhanbad/Ranchi, November 05, 2014
Dhanbad Police detained two cousins for questioning on Wednesday after they were seen wearing T-shirts printed with the words 'ISIS Pakistan' and allegedly promoting the violent militant group during a Muharram procession.Shakir Rashid, 20, and Mohammad Javed Rashid, 22, were seen in the procession on Tuesday, but trouble began for them a day later when a local daily published Sadiq's photograph in the ISIS T-shirt.Dhanbad police superintendent Hemant Toppo said, "Prima facie, we have not found any terror links (to) the three youths. The boys have revealed that they were portraying as terrorists during the street play organised on account of Muharram."Shakir Rashid, 20, and Mohammad Javed Rashid, 22, were seen in the procession on Tuesday. (HT photo)But other police sources said the brothers had admitted to being inspired by the terror group and that they wanted to join the organisation but couldn't do so because they didn’t know who to contact.
Working on a tip-off from them, the police also picked up one Sanjay Saw, 24, the owner of a printing firm for embossing “ISIS Pakistan” on the duo's T-Shirts.
Vishnu Rajak, officer in-charge of the Jharia police station, said the interrogation was still on.
"We are verifying their antecedents and trying to find out (the) names of people who are behind these youths and supporting them into the illegal act," he said. Jharkhand, has of late, been in news for being home to several sleeper cells of banned terrorist outfits, the SIMI and Indian Mujahideen. Last year’s serial blasts at Patna Gandhi Maidan during a rally by Narendra Modi was planned and executed by Jharkhand- based militant sleeper cells. All the accused in the blasts have been arrested.
"This is something very serious," said Jharkhand Minority Commission chairman Shahid Akhtar."Police should go deeper and expose those who are trying to instigate the vulnerable youth into such acts," he said, suggesting stringent punishments against those found guilty. "We are in constant touch with Dhanbad police. Our team will step in once they are done with their preliminary probe," additional director general of Jharkhand CID, S N Pradhan said.
Republicans take control of Senate in US midterm elections
WASHINGTON: Riding a powerful wave of voter discontent, resurgent Republicans captured control of the Senate and tightened their grip on the House Tuesday night in elections certain to complicate President Barack Obama's final two years in office. Republican Mitch McConnell led the way to a new Senate majority, dispatching Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky after a $78 million campaign of unrelieved negativity. Voters are "hungry for new leadership. They want a reason to be hopeful," said the man now in line to become majority leader and set the Senate agenda.
Two-term incumbent Mark Pryor of Arkansas was the first Democrat to fall, defeated by freshman Rep. Tom Cotton. Senator Mark Udall of Colorado was next, defeated by Rep. Cory Gardner. Senator Kay Hagan also lost, in North Carolina, to Thom Tilllis, the speaker of the state House.Republicans also picked up seats in Iowa, West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana, where Democrats retired. They had needed a net gain of six seats in all to end a Democratic majority in place since 2006.
With dozens of House races uncalled, Republicans had picked up nine seats in Democratic hands, and given up only one.
Obama was at the White House as voters remade Congress for the final two years of his tenure — not to his liking. With lawmakers set to convene next week for a postelection session, he invited the leadership to a meeting on Friday.
A shift in control of the Senate will likely result in a strong GOP assault on budget deficits, additional pressure on Democrats to accept sweeping changes to the health care law that stands as Obama's signal domestic accomplishment and a bid to reduce federal regulations.Speaker John Boehner, in line for a third term as head of the House, said the new Republican-controlled Congress would vote soon in the new year on the "many common-sense jobs and energy bills that passed the Republican-led House in recent years with bipartisan support but were never even brought to a vote by the outgoing Senate majority."Legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada is likely among them.There were 36 gubernatorial elections on the ballot, and several incumbents struggled against challengers. Tom Wolf captured the Pennsylvania statehouse for the Democrats, defeating Republican governor Tom Corbett. Democratic governor Pat Quinn lost in Illinois, Obama's home state.In a footnote to one of the year's biggest political surprises, college professor Dave Brat was elected to the House from Virginia, several months after he defeated Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a Republican primary.
House Republicans defeated 19-term Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall in West Virginia, beat Rep. John Barrow in Georgia and picked up a seat vacated by a lawmaker in North Carolina.(South Carolina governor Nikki Haley celebrates with her husband Michael Haley at campaign headquarters on the election day. Haley beat Democratic state Senator Vincent Sheheen to win a second term. AP Photo)Nearly two-thirds of voters interviewed after casting ballots said the country was seriously on the wrong track. Only about 30 percent said it was generally going in the right direction.More than four in ten voters disapproved of both Obama and Congress, according to the exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and the television networks.
Still, a majority of those polled supported several positions associated with Democrats or Obama rather than Republicans - saying immigrants in the country illegally should be able to work, backing US military involvement against Islamic State fighters, and agreeing that climate change is a serious problem.No matter which party emerged with control of the Senate, a new chapter in divided government was inevitable in a nation marked by profound unease over the future and dissatisfaction with its political leaders.There, Democratic Senator Mark Warner held a narrow lead over former Republican Party chairman and Bush administration official Ed Gillespie.There was a little good news for Democrats in New Hampshire, where Senator Jeanne Shaheen was re-elected after a difficult race against former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown.
But in Georgia, Michelle Nunn lost to businessman David Perdue, depriving the Democrats of their last best chance to take away a Republican seat. In Kansas, 78-year-old Senator Pat Roberts fended off a challenge from independent Greg Orman, shutting off another avenue for the Democrats - their last.Among the newly elected Republican senators was Rep. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, the first member of her party to win a seat there in more than a half century.State Senator Jodi Ernst of Iowa also won, after a campaign that took off when she aired an ad saying she had learned how to castrate hogs as a girl growing up on a ranch.
US right-to-die advocate Brittany Maynard kills self
Angeles, November 03, 2014
Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old American woman with terminal cancer has committed suicide, following promises to do so that had triggered shock and controversy over the right to die.Maynard, a brain cancer sufferer, made headlines earlier this month when a video of her making her suicide threat went viral and was seen by millions of Web users."Goodbye to all my dear friends and family that I love. Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer that has taken so much from me... but would have taken so much more," she wrote in a message circulated widely on social media."The world is a beautiful place, travel has been my greatest teacher, my close friends and folks are the greatest givers. I even have a ring of support around my bed as I type... Goodbye world. Spread good energy. Pay it forward!"In January, Maynard was given six months to live and told her death would be painful because of the aggressive nature of her cancer. She had been trying for a first child with her husband Dan Diaz at the time, but gave up due to her disease.Maynard and her husband, who had just married when she began having severe headaches, moved from their home in California to Oregon, one of a handful of US states with a "right-to-die" law.A doctor could therefore prescribe her the medication she needs to end her own life, surrounded by her family in the bedroom she shares with her husband.On Thursday, she had released a new video in which she said she might temporarily delay her appointment with a self-administered cocktail of potentially deadly drugs.But the delay was a short one. Her story has made headlines around the world, and she was featured on the cover of last week's People magazine in the United States.Maynard has in recent weeks and months been working to tick off items on a "bucket list" of what she wants to do before she dies -- including traveling to the Grand Canyon last week.- See more at:
Maharashtra CM Fadnavis swings into action, says will review decisions of Cong-NCP rule
Mumbai, November 01, 2014
Devendra Fadnavis was sworn in as the state’s 27th chief minister along with nine ministers – seven cabinet rank and two junior – in a grand ceremony at the Wankhede stadium on Friday. The 44-year-old four-time MLA from Nagpur is the second youngest chief minister of Maharashtra and the first leader from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to take up the state’s top job.The new chief minister swung into action almost immediately after assuming charge, saying his government would ensure transparency and bring in a law to ensure an effective service mechanism for the people. “People want their work done without any delay. We will bring in a law under which the government (officers and other staffers) would deliver service as quickly as possible,” Fadnavis said during his first media interaction after being sworn in as chief minister. The CM said he would also review decisions taken by the former government, as it involved expenditure of more than Rs52,000 crore. “If we were to execute these schemes, we will need to raise loans to finance them. We will examine how feasible these decisions are,” he said.Fadnavis said the allocation of portfolios would be done on Saturday, with the home and finance departments most likely to stay with him.Earlier, Fadnavis and his nine ministers were administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, with the 40,000-50,000-strong crowd cheering each time a leader was sworn in. The glittering ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah, senior party leaders LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, chief ministers of other BJP-ruled states, former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, India Inc bigwigs and Bollywood celebrities, among others.However, the surprise package of the afternoon was Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who was present with wife Rashmi and party MP Vinayak Raut, after having decided on Thursday to boycott the event. Uddhav was cajoled into making an appearance by Fadnavis and Union minister Arun Jaitley, with both speaking to the former earlier in the ay.Signalling a breakthrough in talks between the two parties, Shah had a meeting with Uddhav immediately after the ceremony.Currently, the BJP has formed a minority government with 121 MLAs in the 288-member Assembly. The party has claimed to have support of 16 more legislators – a few independents and others from small parties. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) with its 41 MLAs has extended outside support to the government. If the Sena comes on board with its 63 MLAs, the government would not have any trouble in proving its majority on the floor of the House and won’t need the NCP’s backing. The session of the state Assembly is likely to be held between November 10 and 12, in which the Fadnavis government will table the trust vote.The NCP, meanwhile, made its presence felt on Friday at the Wankhede, with its senior leaders, barring party chief Sharad Pawar, sharing the dais with the BJP leaders.The BJP’s strategy for the future seemed clearer, with the party ensuring regional and social balance while picking the nine ministers who took charge on Friday. Fadnavis being a Brahmin, there are two Marathas in his team – Chandrakant Patil from western Maharashtra and Vinod Tawde from Mumbai. Patil, a close aide Shah, is expected to work as the party chief’s link with the state government.
While Eknath Khadse is a Leva Patil, from north Maharashtra, Sudhir Munganttiwar is from Chandrapur, Vidarbha, and Pankaja Munde, daughter of late BJP leader Gopinath Munde, will be the BJP’s other backward class (OBC) face in the government.Mumbai was given representation through Prakash Mehta, the face of BJP’s dedicated vote bank of Gujaratis; and Vidya Thakur, a north Indian from Goregaon.Vishnu Savra, a leader from the tribal community in Thane, was also sworn in, along with Dilip Kamble, a Dalit leader from Pune.The initial team of nine ministers has two women. The BJP said the team would be expanded after the trust vote is passed by the government. The bigger team would have leaders from the Shiv Sena, if the party joins the government, and other smaller allies.Devendra Fadnavis was sworn in as the state’s 27th chief minister along with nine ministers – seven cabinet rank and two junior – in a grand ceremony at the Wankhede stadium on Friday. The 44-year-old four-time MLA from Nagpur is the second youngest chief minister of Maharashtra and the first leader from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to take up the state’s top job.The new chief minister swung into action almost immediately after assuming charge, saying his government would ensure transparency and bring in a law to ensure an effective service mechanism for the people. “People want their work done without any delay. We will bring in a law under which the government (officers and other staffers) would deliver service as quickly as possible,” Fadnavis said during his first media interaction after being sworn in as chief minister. The CM said he would also review decisions taken by the former government, as it involved expenditure of more than Rs52,000 crore. “If we were to execute these schemes, we will need to raise loans to finance them. We will examine how feasible these decisions are,” he said.Fadnavis said the allocation of portfolios would be done on Saturday, with the home and finance departments most likely to stay with him.Earlier, Fadnavis and his nine ministers were administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, with the 40,000-50,000-strong crowd cheering each time a leader was sworn in. The glittering ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah, senior party leaders LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, chief ministers of other BJP-ruled states, former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, India Inc bigwigs and Bollywood celebrities, among others.However, the surprise package of the afternoon was Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who was present with wife Rashmi and party MP Vinayak Raut, after having decided on Thursday to boycott the event. Uddhav was cajoled into making an appearance by Fadnavis and Union minister Arun Jaitley, with both speaking to the former earlier in the day.Signalling a breakthrough in talks between the two parties, Shah had a meeting with Uddhav immediately after the ceremony.Currently, the BJP has formed a minority government with 121 MLAs in the 288-member Assembly. The party has claimed to have support of 16 more legislators – a few independents and others from small parties. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) with its 41 MLAs has extended outside support to the government. If the Sena comes on board with its 63 MLAs, the government would not have any trouble in proving its majority on the floor of the House and won’t need the NCP’s backing. The session of the state Assembly is likely to be held between November 10 and 12, in which the Fadnavis government will table the trust vote.
The NCP, meanwhile, made its presence felt on Friday at the Wankhede, with its senior leaders, barring party chief Sharad Pawar, sharing the dais with the BJP leaders.The BJP’s strategy for the future seemed clearer, with the party ensuring regional and social balance while picking the nine ministers who took charge on Friday. Fadnavis being a Brahmin, there are two Marathas in his team – Chandrakant Patil from western Maharashtra and Vinod Tawde from Mumbai. Patil, a close aide Shah, is expected to work as the party chief’s link with the state government.While Eknath Khadse is a Leva Patil, from north Maharashtra, Sudhir Munganttiwar is from Chandrapur, Vidarbha, and Pankaja Munde, daughter of late BJP leader Gopinath Munde, will be the BJP’s other backward class (OBC) face in the government.Mumbai was given representation through Prakash Mehta, the face of BJP’s dedicated vote bank of Gujaratis; and Vidya Thakur, a north Indian from Goregaon.
Vishnu Savra, a leader from the tribal community in Thane, was also sworn in, along with Dilip Kamble, a Dalit leader from Pune.The initial team of nine ministers has two women. The BJP said the team would be expanded after the trust vote is passed by the government. The bigger team would have leaders from the Shiv Sena, if the party joins the government, and other smaller allies.