Saturday, December 15, 2018

Women under Modi Government: Promises and Reality

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A young paramedic Nirbhaya was brutally gangraped and murdered in December 2012 at Delhi. This led to nationwide protests with Congress governments both at the centre and state. The BJP government then came into power in 2014 amidst public outrage over the Nirbhaya rape case and Narendra Modi had urged the voters of Delhi back then. to “remember Nirbhaya” while voting for the Lok Sabha elections in 2014. The BJP had even come up with the slogan “bahut hua naari par atyachaar, abki baar Modi sarkar” during the election campaign to take advantage of this.

Soon after winning the 2014 elections, the. BJP’s election manifesto made a plethora of promises including the passing of women’s reservation bill, strict implementation of laws related to rape and removing obstacles in the path of the dispensation of the fund for relief and rehabilitation of rape victims. The manifesto also proposed for a national campaign called “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao”. It also said that it would implement 33 per cent reservation for women in the parliamentary and state assemblies. The Congress led UPA on the other hand, had introduced Women’s Reservation Bill in Rajya Sabha in 2010 but owing to opposition from parties like the RJD and the SP, the bill wasn’t passed. Despite being in power for more than four years, the NDA had failed to introduce the bill in the Lok Sabha. This is despite BJP and its allies in NDA having a huge majority in the lower house.

The BJP manifesto also had a section that acknowledged women as nation builders yet the BJP government could not arrest the decrease in female labour force participation (FLFP) rate. The FLFP rate has only seen a significant decline under the BJP government. The World Bank report shows that India’s female labour force participation (FLFP) rate since liberalisation has remained “visibly low”. The report also states that the ability of women to access jobs in India has remained “precarious”. According to the report, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in 2013 ranked India’s FLFP rate as 121 out of 131 countries. In 2013, India had the lowest FLFP rate in South Asia, with the exception of Pakistan. Globally, only parts of the Arab world has held a lower FLFP rate over India in the same year. It’s in this backdrop of declining FLPF that demonetisation was announced. A study conducted by the Indian Academy for Self Employed Women (IASEW), a unit of SEWA, said that incomes of female vendors were significantly affected post demonetisation. The study also said that there was a 68% decrease in incomes of women vendors since demonetisation.

A study conducted by the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy Pvt. Ltd. (CMIE) has shown that female labour participation rate fell dramatically after demonetisation and the introduction of GST. According to the CMIE study, the fall in FLFP rose from 1.11 per cent in 2011-12 to 1.39 percent 2016-17. The dramatic fall came after demonetisation when the female labour participation rate decreased by a massive 4.93 percentage points in just one year. The CMIE data also showed that many families started sending older male members to work while women in many families stayed back during the period after demonetisation. Since the unorganised sector depends on cash and most women form a large part of the unorganised sector, women were denied their working capital.

The election manifesto had also promised all women mobile bank and this promise is yet to be realised. The government has instead merged the woman centric Bharatiya Mahila Bank, set up in 2013 by the UPA government into the State Bank of India (SBI).

Another promise which was talked about was the “strict implementation” of laws related to women, particularly those related to rape and the promise towards clearing obstacles in the dispensation of funds for relief and rehabilitation of rape victims that lies unused at the Centre. In 2014, immediately after the BJP government took office, Union minister Arun Jaitley, stoked a controversy saying that “one small incident of rape in Delhi advertised world over is enough to cost us millions of dollars ( in tourism).” Reacting to his comment, Nirbhaya’s parents had said that such trivialisation would only help in boosting the morale of the rapists. They also asked how such a ‘small issue’ was a major issue for the politicians during election campaigns.

In January 2018 after an eight year old girl was brutally gangraped and killed in Kathua, Jammu, two serving BJP ministers and legislators were seen in a rally supporting the accused in the case. The rally was organised by the Hindu Ekta Manch, a newly formed right wing outfit. This led to national outrage and after immense pressure, the two BJP ministers had resigned. Three weeks later, in a cabinet reshuffle in the J&K government, the BJP appointed another MLA, Rajiv Jasrotia, who also participated in the controversial event organised by the Hindu Ekta Manch as a replacement for the resigned ministers. The then newly-appointed Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Kavinder Gupta described the murder and alleged rape of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua district as a “small incident”. He also added that it should not be given much importance, a local channel Excelsior News. “We hope this kind of thing never happens again, and that the child gets justice. There are many challenges before the government, I don’t think the Rasana (Kathua) case should be given much weight,” Kavinder Gupta said.

Dhanyashree, a 20 year old woman, was found dead in her home after being hounded by Hindutva activists in Chikmagalur district of Karnataka on January 6, 2018. It all began when she changed her WhatsApp profile picture and posted an image of her eyes, close-cropped against a black background. Some men interpreted the photo as an image of her wearing a burqa. This image was then circulated via other WhatsApp groups by the men as proof of her “love” for Muslims. Despite being defiant In the face of cyber attacks, she was tormented when the men came to her house and forced her parents to take mobile phone from her. The right wing activists from Bajrang Dal and Yuva Morcha ( youth wing of BJP) led a cyber campaign claiming that she was in love with a Muslim boy and that she was a victim of Love Jihad.

This time too, BJP leaders defended the attacks on the woman. A BJP leader and MLA from Chikmagalur, C T Ravi, said, “What has happened in the Dhanyashree case is unfortunate. A worker of the BJP, Anil, has been arrested for it. But he has not done anything criminal and has not committed any murder. He was just trying to inform the girl’s family about the dangers of love jihad, which has claimed so many Hindu girls. His intention was not to provoke her to suicide [sic]. No men of the girl’s family have accused anyone of harassing them, it is only the police which is making out such a case,” he added. However, her suicide note tells a different story. “I am not in love with any Muslim boy, not going out with any Muslim boy. Because of your unnecessary harassment, you have tarnished my reputation and name. Whatever has happened to me should not happen to any other girl,” she wrote.

On April 8, 2018, a 16 year old girl tried to kill herself in front of the UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s office accusing BJP MLA Kuldeep Kumar Sengar and his associates of raping her. The survivor and her family were protesting against the BJP government’s inaction for more than a year. The survivor had earlier alleged she was raped by the BJP MLA Kuldeep Kumar Sengar at his residence when she had visited him along with a relative for seeking a job. She was only sixteen at that time. Nearly a year after the incident, in a clash between the family and the survivor’s father who was injured in the clash, was arrested. The police did not take any action against MLA’s men and soon, the survivor’s father died in custody under suspicious circumstances Meanwhile, another BJP MLA from Bairia district, Surendra Singh, defended the accused by making a provocative statement.“I am speaking from the psychological point of view; no one can rape a mother of three children. It is not possible, this is a conspiracy against him (Kuldeep Singh Sengar),” Surendra Singh told ANI. “Yes maybe her father was thrashed by some people but I refuse to believe rape charge,” Singh added. It was only after the Allahabad High Court came down heavily on the court that the UP government decided to act on the accusation. The case was then handed over to the CBI who confirmed that the MLA was involved in it.

The BJP government also failed to act swiftly against one of its own union minister MJ Akbar who was accused of sexual harassment by his former colleagues. MJ Akbar was a prominent journalist who had edited major media publications before becoming a politician and eventually a minister. It was only after the minister’s threat to take legal action against the complainants failed to subdue the revelations and accusations made by women that he resigned from the post. Even after the MJ Akbar resigned, another Union minister for Shipping and Finance, continued to attack the MeToo calling it “the behaviour of perverted minds”. “If someone makes an allegation that such a thing happened…..when the incident happened we were playing together while in class 5….Would it be fair? This (MeToo movement) is the result of the behaviour of some people who have perverted minds,” Radhakrishnan, Union Minister of State for Shipping and Finance told reporters.

As recent as 2018, Shobha Chauhan, the BJP candidate from Sojat Assembly seat in Rajasthan told the people of her constituency said that she will not let police intervene in child Marriages in Rajasthan if BJP was elected to power. “We have satta (power) and sangathan (organisation, or the state government) at our disposal. We will not let the police intervene in child marriages” Shobha Chauhan added. According to recent data from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3) Rajasthan has one of the highest incidence of child Marriage. The survey claimed that a total of 57.1% of women aged 20-24 were married by 18 in Rajasthan.

Despite making enough and more noise towards women empowerment, the NDA government has failed to show that they are truly committed towards upliftment of women.

Ensuring security for Panchayat Polls would be more challenging: JK Police

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Srinagar:

police
Ensuring security for Panchayat Polls would be more challenging: JK Police

As per police sources, the panchayat polls in Jammu and Kashmir will be more challenging than the recently concluded municipal elections in terms of security. However, the forces have also said that they are ready to tackle any situation. The panchayat polls in the state will be held in 09 phases beginning from November 17.

Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), Law and Order and Security, Muneer Ahmad Khan said that it would be difficult to ensure security for panchayat polls since it is bigger as compared to the urban (local) body elections. Khan was speaking to reporters during a wreath laying ceremony for CISF officer ASI Rajendra Prasad who was killed in a standoff fire by militants at a power grid station in central Kashmir’s Wagoora area during the intervening night.

Militant outfits in J&K have also threatened dire consequences to those who participate in panchayat polls. Earlier, there were four attacks on security forces in two days in which two soldiers were killed in such attacks. Among them, two attacks were carried out in district Shopian, one in Tral, one on Wagoora (Nowgam) Srinagar. Besides that, one more soldier died due to stones showered by stone pelters on Srinagar bye pass road.

Khan stated that such incidents was an act of “frustration” on part of the militants since the “security forces have had huge success” on the anti-militancy front recently. In the last week alone, 13 militants belonging to various outfits, were eliminated in different places across Kashmir Valley.

The ADGP also said that the success rate of anti-militancy operations is dependent on the flow of information. “If good operations are taking place that means the flow of information is very good and we intend to keep on doing such operations. The up and down scenarios are there, but we have to do our professional work and that we are doing,” he said.

Meanwhile, the panchayat polls will be held on November 17, 20, 24, 27 and 29, and December 1, 4, 8 and 11 respectively in the 35,096 panchayats across the state.

Instagram Adds six new Superzoom Effects to Make Your Stories More Dramatic

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California:

Instagram Adds six new Superzoom Effects to Make Your Stories More Dramatic

Now, you will have new Superzoom effects to add to your Instagram stories.

The new set includes a heart-filled fog with music, paparazzi camera flashes, fire with rock music in the background, a big red X, black leaves against a melancholy soundtrack, surprise effect with an evil audio, a TV programme effect and beats effect for those dance stories.

The new effects will be available alongside the previous four effects. As Mashable reports, the new set is not available for everyone just yet as it is a gradual roll out.

US Facing ‘Genuine Constitutional Crisis’, Says John Kerry

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Washington D. C.:

US Facing ‘Genuine Constitutional Crisis’, Says John Kerry

Amid the turmoil in the Donald Trump administration since the revelations in Bob Woodward’s book, followed by a berating op-ed in the New York Times, former Secretary of State, John Kerry on Thursday said that the US is facing “a genuine constitutional crisis.”

“We have a presidency which is off the rails. We have a President who is not capable of doing the job, who clearly has these temper tantrums, doesn’t know enough to be making many of the decisions he makes,” Kerry was quoted by CNN as saying.

In the New York Times op-ed, an anonymous senior Trump administration official has blasted the US President for his “amorality” and his imprudent decision making, while saying that he/she was part of the “resistance” working against an impulsive Trump and his agenda.

Veteran journalist Bob Woodward’s forthcoming book titled, “Fear: Donald Trump in the White House,” which made headlines around the world after excerpts were released by the Washington Post on Tuesday, gives an in-depth peek into the “crazytown” White House under Trump.

“We see the evidence of people stealing a presidential document off his desk. We see a general, the secretary of defence, ordered to kill another leader, a leader of another country, who turns to everybody after the phone is hung up and says, ‘I’m not gonna do that. We’re not gonna do that,'” Kerry said, making references to Kerry’s book.

Trump responded to the book on Wednesday by saying, “The book is fiction.”

He took to Twitter to tear into the anonymous New York Times op-ed, saying, “Does the so-called “Senior Administration Official” really exist, or is it just the Failing New York Times with another phony source? If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!”

Also, a number of officials in the White House have denied authoring the op-ed and have defended Trump in the wake of the furore. Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Defence Secretary James Mattis are among the top officials to have denied authoring the op-ed.

Kerry slammed the Republicans defending Trump saying that it “unbelievable” that the senators were defending Trump instead of “the Constitution.”

“Not the institution of the Senate, they’re defending party and the President, who simply doesn’t know what he’s doing,” Kerry said.

Will Have Ethanol Industry Worth 1 lakh crore in 5-7 Years, Says Gadkari

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New Delhi:

Will Have Ethanol Industry Worth 1 lakh crore in 5-7 Years, Says Gadkari

Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari on Thursday said that India will have an ethanol industry worth Rs 1 lakh crore within the next five to seven years.

Addressing the 58th Annual Convention held by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), Gadkari said, “The Government of India has formulated a policy to use substitute, cost-effective, and pollution free fuels. We want to promote usage of substitute fuels and we will have an ethanol industry worth Rs 1 lakh crore within the next five to seven years.”

Terming pollution “India’s biggest problem”, Gadkari said that Ethanol-based fuel will help tackle pollution.

“Diesel buses in Mumbai run at a cost of Rs 110 per kilometre, Air Conditioned ethanol buses at Rs 78 per kilometre in Nagpur, electric buses at Rs 50 per kilometre, electric minibuses at Rs 27 per kilometre. Using substitute fuels will help bring down the cost of ticket as well as reduce pollution. It is important for our economy to promote indigenous fuels,” added Gadkari.

Earlier today, Gadkari announced an exemption of commercial vehicles, buses, taxis and all vehicles running on alternative fuel from the permit requirements.

As long-term focus areas for the government, he listed three areas – reduction of imports, increase of exports and reduction of pollution.

Kovind Stresses on Improving India-Czech Economic Ties

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Prague:

Kovind Stresses on Improving India-Czech Economic Ties

President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday stressed on strengthening economic ties between India and the Czech Republic during his three-day visit to the central European country.

Addressing an Indian business delegation in the capital city of Prague, Kovind said, “We are keen to strengthen and diversify our relations with the Czech Republic. Tomorrow, I will have discussions with President (Milos) Zeman on taking forward our bilateral relations, particularly, our economic ties.”

The President underlined trade, technology and investment as a few of the numerous opportunities for businesses in the two countries to grow.

He also expressed his delight over the Indian community’s contributions to the Czech society, saying, “I am pleased to learn that the Indian Community in the Czech Republic, though small in number, is making a significant contribution to the progress of this country. As professionals, scientists, entrepreneurs and students, you also serve as a living bridge between the two countries.”

While saying that the two countries have been engaged in trade for thousands of years, Kovind hailed the Czech Republic for bolstering the cultural connection with India by honouring Indian writer and poet Rabindranath Tagore.

“Eminent Czech scholars brought the works of Rabindranath Tagore to the Czech people and helped foster a deep cultural connect with India. The installation of the bust of Rabindranath Tagore, in Prague and naming a tram station after him, is homage to Gurudev and to his poetic genius,” Kovind said during his address.

He also stated that the founding of the Indo-Czech Association by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in Prague in 1934, and the popularity of the shoe-manufacturer Bata; that was started by a Czech Thomas Bata; in India as factors that have strengthened ties between the two countries.

Later, the India-Czech Sinfonietta Orchestra performed a rendition of several Hindi songs at the Indian community reception in Prague for President Kovind.

In the final leg of his visit to three European countries-Cyprus, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic, three-President Kovind will hold bilateral meetings with his Czech counterpart Milos Zeman, Prime Minister Andrej Babis and several other political leaders over the course of the next two days.

5 Dead, 21 Injured After bus Falls Into Gorge in Uttarakhand

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Almora:

5 Dead, 21 Injured After bus Falls Into Gorge in Uttarakhand

Five people were killed and eighteen others were injured after a bus fell into a 50-feet deep gorge near Mohanri in Uttarakhand’s Almora districts on Thursday.

The accident took place on Bhatrojkhan-Bhikiyasan route. As per reports, there were about 30 people in the bus at the time of the accident.

Briefing about the accident, a police official said, “A Garhwal Motor Owners Union (GMOU) bus plying between Ramnagar to Gairsan fell off the road into a 50 feet deep gorge near Bhatrojkhan Mohanri.”

Senior officials have reached the spot and injured have been admitted to hospital for treatment, the official added.

Oscars Takes Down ‘Popular’ Category for its 91st Edition

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Washington DC:

Oscars Takes Down ‘Popular’ Category for its 91st Edition

After weeks of criticism, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has now officially decided not to introduce the new ‘popular’ category at the 91st Oscars, which is slated to take place in 2019.

According to the Variety magazine, AMPAS in a statement opined that adding a new category would only go on to add more “challenges for films that have already been released.”

The AMPAS board of governors, however, promised that they will continue to discuss the possibility of presenting this award in future.

The Academy’s CEO, Dawn Hudson while speaking to Variety said that due to were mixed reactions due to “the introduction of a new award, and we recognize the need for further discussion with our members”.

In August, filmmaker Adam McKay, producer and late Oscars producer Craig Zadan, was one of the few celebrities who objected the decision of the Academy. However, ‘Transformers’ actor Mark Wahlberg came out in support of the new category.

The upcoming 91st Oscars will be held on February 24, 2019.

US Calls for Fair Elections in Maldives, Warns of Sanctions

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Washington D.C.:

US Calls for Fair Elections in Maldives, Warns of Sanctions

The United States on Wednesday expressed its concerns over the “continued democratic backsliding” in the Maldives and warned the island nation it would take “appropriate measures” against those undermining fair electoral process and democracy.

In a statement, Heather Nauert, the spokesperson for the US Department of State, said, “The United States is concerned about continued democratic backsliding in the Maldives, particularly as the country prepares for a presidential election on September 23.”

She further said that the US will “consider appropriate measures against those individuals who undermine democracy, the rule of law, and a free and fair electoral process.”

“We join the international community in calling for the release of falsely accused political prisoners; full implementation of the Maldivian Supreme Court’s February ruling overturning the convictions of opposition members; an end to executive interference in the Parliament and judiciary; respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; and holding a free and fair election that reflects the will of the Maldivian people,” the release added.

Nauert further stressed that the restoration of democratic institutions and practices and the conduction of a free, fair, and inclusive election is of “critical importance to Maldives’ future.”

The statement comes in the wake of growing concerns in the international community about the state of democracy under Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen.

Maldives has been facing a political turmoil ever since President Yameen declared emergency on February 5. The 45-day emergency was imposed after country’s Supreme Court reversed criminal convictions against Yameen’s opponents, including former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed, and former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb.

In July, India had expressed concern over political situation in the Maldives and called upon the Maldivian government to allow democratic institutions to work in a transparent manner.

Earlier, former Maldivian President Nasheed had expressed apprehensions about rigging in the forthcoming election. Civil society members from the Maldives had also sought help from the international community to have free and fair presidential elections.

Commercial Vehicles on Alternative Fuel Exempted From Permits

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New Delhi:

Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday announced exemption of commercial vehicles, buses, taxis and all vehicles running on alternative fuel from the permit requirements at the 58th Annual Convention held by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM). As a long-term focus areas for the government, he listed three areas (i) Reduce import (ii) Increase export (iii) reduce pollution.

Speaking at the Convention, Union Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Babul Supriyo said the government has provided incentives for electric mobility and policies would support electric vehicles. He added that “the increased focus on safety, is impacting the technological development in the auto industry.”

John Simlett, Global Leader future of mobility, (E&Y) said, “The future will be less about the advanced technology and more about new ways of applying it.” When we talk about ‘Mobility Revolution’ it is more about new and easy ways of applying technology.”

Guenter Butschek, CEO & Managing Director, Tata Motors said, “There must be diffusion across industries, a connected vehicle platform, and inclusivity in order to revolutionize mobility. We envision E-mobility as the future with better support through incentivisation.”

Uttar Pradesh Transport Minister Swatantra Dev Singh said his state is an important market for the auto industry as it is changing considerably. “Road safety has been a key concern for us We have established driver training schools across the state with prime focus in rural areas. We have also started the online tax payment services and perhaps are the first ones to do so.” Singh said.

Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot said Delhi has one of the most progressive road safety policy and his government has an ambitious target to bring down the accident rate by 80 per cent. “There is a need for constructive collaboration between the state government and auto industry to tackle challenges like charging infrastructure and using the bus depot spaces for electrification of public transport. We are currently working on an electric vehicle policy and should soon come up with one,” said Gahlot.

Pawan Goenka, Past President, SIAM and Managing Director, Mahindra & Mahindra, emphasised the need for localising advanced technologies as this will help grow the industry and also create new employment opportunities. He said, “The auto industry needs to stay focussed on increasing its share to GDP from current 7.1 per cent to 12 per cent by 2026”

At the inaugural session of the SIAM convention, the speakers highlighted the need for a long-term regulatory and policy roadmap for India’s auto sector and moderating GST taxation, as it heads towards a global transition to electric vehicle and future mobility.

Abhay Firodia, President, SIAM & Chairman, Force Motors urged the government to address the need for a long-term regulatory policy roadmap for India’s auto sector. Union Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Anant G Geete assured that the government would soon come out with the new auto policy and assured all aspects of the industry would be discussed with the industry and considered before finalizing the new auto policy.

Serena Outclasses Sevastova to Enter US Open Final

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New York:

Serena Outclasses Sevastova to Enter US Open Final

World No. 26 Serena Williams on Thursday (local time) sealed her spot in the final of the ongoing US Open women’s singles by handing Latvia’s World No. 18 Anastasija Sevastova a 6-3, 6-0 defeat.

The win keeps afloat Serena’s hopes of winning a first grand slam since becoming a mother, while she is also on the threshold of breaking a host of records.

She already has the highest number of Grand Slam singles titles (23) to her name in the Open Era, but the win in the semi-final gives her a chance to equal Australian legend Margaret Court’s haul of 24 Grand Slam titles.

A win in the final will also register her as the holder of the highest number of US Open singles titles. Serena is currently tied with compatriot Christine Evert on 6.

The first game of the first set, however, indicated that Sevastova will deny Serena such opportunities as the Latvian broke the American’s serve and registered the first game in her name.

Williams eventually established her superiority on Sevastova, breaking her serves to make it 2-2, and 4-2 before sealing the set at 6-3.

The former World No. 1 was relentless in the second set and did not concede a single game, breaking Sevastova’s service thrice to register an emphatic 6-0 win and seal her final spot.

Serena will play the winner of the other semi-final clash between Madison Keys (USA) and Naomi Osaka (Japan) on Sunday in her 36th Grand Slam final.

In men’s singles, World No. 1 Rafael Nadal (Spain) will face Juan Martin del Potro (Argentina), while Novak Djokovic (Serbia) will play Kei Nishikori (Japan) in the semi-final clashes on Saturday.

Railways Providing Best Speed WiFi at 710 Stations, Says Piyush Goyal

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New Delhi:

Railways Providing Best Speed WiFi at 710 Stations, Says Piyush Goyal

Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal has said that Indian Railways has taken Wi-Fi to 710 railway stations, while claiming that it is the best in the country in terms of speed.

Addressing a seminar on leveraging information technology for mobility in Delhi on Thursday, Goyal also highlighted the exponential growth in paperless ticketing and said that Paperless Unreserved Tickets have moved up from 195 in 2014-15 to 67,000 last year that is a 35,000 percent increase over a period of three years.

While discussing how technology can improve both passenger experience and freight transport, he said, “GPS is a tried and tested method. It will help us completely eliminate the fudging of data on train movement and help us track the 22,000 trains, both passenger and freight, on a real-time basis. In railways, there are 444,000 tenders. The multiplicity of tenders will lead to cost inefficiency. Hence, the clubbing of items and data mining could help reduce procurement inefficiency. 150 thousand crores of procurement is truly quite a large procurement and if we can look at an initial saving of 15-20 percent that in my standard is the least that we can save”.

He also spoke about engaging with private sector and young population and said, “A rapid scale-up of technology is what the nation expects out of us, and that’s where we can take the help of the private sector in helping us develop and use that technology.”

He further urged the youngsters in the railways’ team to engage with new ideas and said, “I am sure we will get some game-changing results, which will truly help better the passenger and freight customer experience as well as to make it sustainable and satisfying.”

Talking about transformations in Railways, Goyal said, “There are so many new transformations that the railways are working on related to the tracks, safety, signalling, catering, punctuality, and modernizing our inspection processes which will make them more efficient and clinically sound

The minister also acknowledged the efforts of his team in increasing the efficiency of the Indian Railways and commended them for their efforts. He said, “I don’t know any other department which collects data the way railways does, but how efficiently and effectively we use that data is the defining success story that we are looking for. And this is surely possible with the high-quality team that we have in railways”.

Emphasising the significance of technology for the Indian Railways, Goyal termed ‘Technology’ as the defining factor that will help Indian railways change both its direction and its face.

Politicians can be bad, not Politics, Says Farooq Abdullah

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New Delhi:

Politicians can be bad, not Politics, Says Farooq Abdullah

Former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and National Conference president Farooq Abdullah has said that “politics is not bad but politicians can be bad”.

Speaking at an event in Delhi on Thursday, he further said that since Independence, each election has divided India instead of uniting.

“Politics is not bad, politicians can be bad. Many of us join politics for service and many of us join politics for making money. God doesn’t live in temples, mosques or gurudwaras, he lives in people and if you serve people you are serving God,” he added.

“Since independence, each election has divided India instead of uniting it. We fight for temples and mosques, we don’t fight for people. We lie and we fear that if we’re honest, we won’t win. We are wrong. You have to tell them that you can’t do things beyond a certain point,” he opined.

Later in the day, while addressing another event in the national capital, Abdullah also claimed that the democracy of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawahar Lal Nehru doesn’t exist anymore.

Addressing the audience, he said, “Every election that has been held in this nation has divided us rather than uniting us and we continue to get divided. Where is the democracy anymore that Gandhi preached us or which Nehru spoke of? India is going through a very difficult phase.”

He further called for a change in the country and said, “There is the fear in Kashmiri mind and the young mind that they have no place in this India. How do I convince them that they have a place, when I see people lynching people or when I see just because of your religion you are targeted. How do I convince them? We need to wake up. If you can’t wake up there will be no India, it will fall apart”.

Andhra Pradesh to Allot 15,091 Houses Under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana

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Rajya Sabha Polls: Horse Trading, Counter Strategies Heat up Political Scenario in Andhra

Amaravati:

Andhra Pradesh to Allot 15,091 Houses Under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana

Andhra Pradesh cabinet has approved the allotment of 15,091 houses in 2018-19 under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) – NTR (Urban) Nagar scheme.

In a cabinet meeting held on Thursday afternoon at the state secretariat, it was also decided that if the houses allotted in rural areas of the state from 1993-94 to 2006-07 are in dilapidated condition, they will be allotted new houses under NTR rural housing program with some conditions.

The state government also decided to pay dearness allowance at the revised rates to the state government employees and pensioners. The revised rates will be applicable from 7.1.2017 and will cost Rs 627crores to the state exchequer.

A draft bill to set up AP maritime board, for development of seaports in the state and to look after their administration was also approved along with the proposal of revising exclusive limits of Kriahnapatnam port.

Andhra Pradesh cabinet also took important decisions to provide a boost to aviation sector in the state and approved incentives for Indigo airlines to run two return flights per week in Vijayawada Singapore root. The Vijayawada Puttaparthi flight services were granted approval along with nine seated aircraft in Vijayawada Nagarjuna Sagar root

The cabinet also sanctioned the proposal to revise the terms and conditions of earlier agreement to get a credit of Rs 1385 crores from open market for development of Machilipatnam deepwater port and industrial corridor thereof.

It also decided to give one-year subsidy of Rs. 2 per unit in power tariff to the aqua farmers with effect from 1st of August. The subsidy is expected to benefit 94,913 farmers.

To further boost the education sector in the state, the cabinet also gave a nod to making “International Institute of Digital Technologies” as section 8 company and allocating 97.5 crores for next 2 years for investment and investment expense. Rangaraya Medical College, Kakinada was also allotted a paediatrics section and it was decided that Andhra Pradesh Medical and Dental Institutions will be given semi-autonomous status. The NTR Cancer Care Project to be set up with Tata Trust was also granted approval.

During the meeting, the government also announced that an unemployment allowance scheme will be launched on September, 14 and list of beneficiaries will be finalized by October 2. Cabinet also decided to set up an Arya Vysya Welfare and Development Corporation for giving loans to the Vysya community for self-employment, financial aid and foreign education.

Time limit for exporting red sanders to Patanjali Ayurved was also extended for three more months.

8 Afghan Policemen Killed in Insider Attack by Taliban

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Takhar:

8 Afghan Policemen Killed in Insider Attack by Taliban

The Taliban on Wednesday set ablaze the bodies of at least eight policemen who were killed in an insider attack in the northeastern province of Takhar.

The provincial police spokesperson, Asir, confirmed the incident, saying that the policemen were killed after the Taliban terrorists attacked their check post in the Kandahar Qeshlaq area of Khwaja Ghar district, Khaama Press reported.

Asir further stated that an Afghan policeman, with links to the Taliban, helped facilitate the attack, adding that the terrorists took the police’s weapons and escaped the area.

Zabiullah Mujahid, the spokesperson for the Taliban, also confirmed the incident, claiming that nine policemen were killed in the incident.

Takhar province has been relatively calm and isolated from the militancy and violence since the fall of the Taliban regime in the country. However, owing to an expansion of the terror activities towards the north and northeast provinces in the past few years, the security of the province has increasingly deteriorated.

3 Dead in Cincinnati Shooting

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Cincinnati:

3 Dead in Cincinnati Shooting

A shooting incident at the Fifth Third Centre in Cincinnati’s Fountain Square on Thursday killed at least three people and injured five others, Cincinnati police chief, Eliot Isaac confirmed.

The suspect is among the deceased, the Cincinnati police department informed on its official Twitter handle.

The shooting occurred at around 9 AM when the suspect open fired near the loading dock of the Fifth Third Centre, a 30-storey skyscraper, the police chief was quoted as saying by CNN. The suspect then proceeded towards the lobby area, where he was engaged by three or four officers.

The police secured the building in around two hours.

Speaking on the incident, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said, “This is not normal, and it shouldn’t be viewed as normal. This is abnormal. No other industrialized country has this level of active multiple shootings on a regular basis. I think there’s something deeply sick at work here.”

Meanwhile, a witness at the scene told CNN affiliate WLWT, “I heard about eight gunshots, and I actually got on my knees. I kind of got down on the ground and then all the cops started coming. I’m still shaking.”

“We did hear a gun shooting from the 29th floor. We could quickly see there was a large police presence and could see them blocking Fountain Square. We knew immediately something was wrong. We’re a bit rattled,” another witness told CNN affiliate WXIX.

The Cincinnati police are being assisted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in their investigations.

Congress Leader Kondru Murali Joins TDP

0

Amaravati:

Congress Leader Kondru Murali Joins TDP

Congress leader and former minister Kondru Murali Mohan joined Telugu Desam Party (TDP) on Thursday in the presence of TDP president and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu. Naidu welcomed Mohan into the party.

Mohan, who was a Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Rajam constituency in 2009, also served as the Minister for Medical and Health in the then Chief Minister, Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy cabinet between 2009 to 2014.

Naidu and state’s Energy Minister, Kimidi Kala Venkata Rao played an important role in bringing Mohan in the folds of the party.

State assembly polls are slated to be held in Andhra Pradesh in 2019.

CBI Arrests 5 People in Gutka Scam in Tamil Nadu

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New Delhi:

CBI Arrests 5 People in Gutka Scam in Tamil Nadu

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday arrested five people in connection with the alleged gutka scam in Tamil Nadu.

Those arrested include promoters of a private gutka company, A.V. Madhava Rao and Uma Shankar Gupta; food safety and drug administration official P. Senthil Murugan; Superintendent of Central Excise Department N.K. Pandian; and a person named P.V. Srinivasa Rao.

All of them have been sent to judicial custody till September 20.

The CBI had on Wednesday conducted searches at 35 locations across the country including Chennai, Tiruvallur, Thoothukudi, Puducherry, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Guntur in connection with the case.

The places searched were residential premises of the promoters/directors of a company and other public servants including officials of Sales Tax Department, Customs & Central Excise, Food Safety & Drug Administration Department and jurisdictional police officials.

The CBI had earlier registered a case on the orders of the Madras High Court dated April 26. The High Court had directed the CBI to conduct investigation into all aspects of the offence of alleged illegal manufacture, import, supply, distribution and sale of gutka and other forms of chewable tobacco which are banned in Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Puducherry.

It was alleged that the private company, based in Tamil Nadu was in the business of manufacturing and sale of gutka and other chewable tobacco products since 2011.

Subsequently, production and sale of gutka was banned in May 2013. During the period when the ban was in force, the promoters/directors of the said company allegedly paid bribes to regulatory authorities and continued with the business of manufacturing and selling of gutka products illicitly.

The scam surfaced in July 2016 when the Income Tax (IT) department raided various properties of a gutkh manufacturer, who was accused of evading taxes of Rs 250 crore.

Jammu and Kashmir DGP SP Vaid Transferred

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Srinagar:

Jammu and Kashmir DGP SP Vaid Transferred

The Jammu and Kashmir government has transferred state Director General of Police (DGP) S.P. Vaid on Thursday with immediate effect.

Director General of Police (Prisons) Dilbagh Singh has been given the additional charge as the DGP in Jammu and Kashmir. Singh, a 1987 batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of Jammu and Kashmir cadre would hold the charge of DGP in addition to his own duties, till a regular arrangement is made.

Vaid’s services have been placed at the disposal of the General Administration Department for posting as the state Transport Commissioner

“In the interest of administration the following transfers and postings are hereby ordered with immediate effect, Dr S.P. Vaid, IPS (JK: 1986), DGP, J-K is transferred and his services are placed at the disposal of General Administration Department for further posting as Transport Commissioner, J-K,” reads an order issued on Thursday by the Jammu and Kashmir government civil secretariat home department.

The transfer of the top cop of Jammu and Kashmir Police comes days after the transfer of AG Mir from the post of additional director general of police (ADGP) Criminal Investigation Department (CID). B Srinivas, a 1990 batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of Jammu and Kashmir cadre, replaced Mir.

Earlier, reports were rife that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) was not happy with the state police and was considering a rejig

The Home Ministry, however, denied these reports and said, “On more than one occasion, MHA has commended the work done by J-K police and the valiant sacrifices made by the men and officers of J-K police. There is no question of any dissatisfaction.”

Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police S P Vaid also brushed aside this report saying that the state police has been fighting a proxy war for decades and any speculative reporting, which can affect the morale of the cops, should be avoided.

“@JmuKmrPolice has been fighting a proxy war for decades which requires a lot of courage & determination of the men & officers of JKP. Speculative articles which undermine their morale should be avoided. As regards to transfer, it’s routine matter and prerogative of the government,” he had tweeted.

Delhi High Court Notice to AAP Government Over Illegal Pathological Labs

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New Delhi:

Delhi High Court Notice to AAP Government Over Illegal Pathological Labs

The Delhi High Court on Thursday issued a notice to the Delhi government on a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking urgent action against all illegal pathological labs and diagnostic centers across the region. The case will come up for hearing on September 17.

The petitioner, Bijon Kumar Misra, through his counsels Shashank Deo Sudhi and Dr. Shashi Bhushan, has requested the court for urgent implementation of the Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act 2010 in the national capital region.

It was informed that the central government had written to the Arvind Kejriwal government on several occasions for implementation of the Act in order to regulate the pathological labs and diagnostic centers in the national capital.

The petition, filed in the court, further claimed that only 10 per cent of the pathological labs and diagnostic centers in Delhi are accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Laboratories (NABL), which is an autonomous body of the Quality Council of India (QCI), and remaining are being operated illegally.

The petitioner, in the PIL, stated that the diagnostic centers and pathological labs are the backbones of the health system and the entire treatment of a person depends on such clinical reports. Hence, it is important that the government takes appropriate measures in order to have quality diagnostic centres and pathological labs.

The counsel of the petitioner also highlighted that clinical reports are being signed by technicians in place of specialised doctor MD (Pathology) as per the direction of the Supreme Court. The Delhi government was accused of playing with the safety and health of the citizens.

Accused in Dabholkar Murder Case Sent to CBI Custody Till September 12

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Pune:

Accused in Dabholkar Murder Case Sent to CBI Custody Till September 12

A session court here on Thursday granted the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) the custody of Amol Kale, an accused in the Narendra Dabholkar murder case, till September 14.

Kale is also one of the accused in the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh. The CBI had requested 14-day custody of Kale.

Arguing his case in the court, CBI lawyer Vijay Kumar Dhakne said that the accused is a conspirator in the Dabholkar murder case and one of the accused in Gauri Lankesh murder case also.

Countering him, defense lawyer Dharam Raj said, “There is well-rounded apprehension that if long police custody is granted it can be misused. Hence, no 14 days custody should be granted as asked by CBI.”

On September 4, the session court sent another accused of the same case, Sharad Kalaskar to CBI custody till September 10. In Kalaskar’s case also, the CBI had asked for a 14-day custody.

Narendra Dabholkar was murdered on August 20, 2013, by bike-borne assailants while he was returning to his home from a morning walk.

Airtel Payments Bank Enables card-less Cash Withdrawal at ATMs

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RBI Imposes Rs 5 cr Penalty on Airtel Payments Bank

New Delhi:

Airtel Payments Bank Enables card-less Cash Withdrawal at ATMs

Airtel Payment Bank, India’s first payments bank, has announced that its customers can now make card-less cash withdrawals at over 100,000 ATMs across India.

Airtel Payments Bank has partnered with Empays, a global provider of cloud based payment solutions, under which it will enable Airtel Payments Bank’s savings account holders to withdraw cash using just their mobile phone through the card-less cash technology of Empays, called IMT (Instant Money Transfer).

The technology can be used for self-withdrawal or for sending money to an intended recipient for ATM cash withdrawal.

“We believe in digital India. We are making this a reality by providing innovative digital solutions that enhance banking,” said MD and Chief Executive Officer, Airtel Payments Bank, Anubrata Biswas.

“Our tie-up with Empays is an important step that enables our customers to realize digital, phone based cash withdrawals at over 100,000 ATMs, through either USSD or the MyAirtel App,” added Biswas.

Over 100,000 ATMs belonging to some of the largest banks in the country such as State Bank of India, Axis Bank and Punjab National Bank are linked to the IMT system for card-less cash withdrawals. The network is licensed by the Reserve Bank of India as a payment system and is the only one of its kind in the country.

“We are delighted that Airtel Payment Bank has enabled the IMT capability for its customers. IMT is the largest cardless cash ATM network in the world. We believe IMT will provide an additional convenience to Airtel Payment Bank’s consumers,” said Ravi Rajagopalan, founder & CEO Empays Payment Systems.

Supreme Court Extends Activists’ House Arrest Till September 12

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New Delhi:

Supreme Court Extends Activists’ House Arrest Till September 12

The Supreme Court on Thursday extended the house arrest of the five activists, who were allegedly involved in Bhima Koregaon violence, till September 12.

The five activists- Sudha Bhardwaj, P. Varavara Rao, Gautam Navlakha, Arun Ferreira, and Vernon Gonsalves, were detained on August 28 by Maharashtra police, from various locations.

The Apex Court, in an earlier order on August 29, had directed the Pune police to keep the activists under house arrest till September 5.

During the last hearing, the Maharashtra Government, in an affidavit to the Supreme Court, stated that they “were members of banned terrorist organistaion Communist Party of India (Maoist).”

The action by Maharashtra Police was taken in connection with the violence that erupted in Pune during an event which marked 200 years of the Bhima Koregaon battle, in January this year. The clashes killed one person and left several injured, including 10 policemen.

Naxal Arrested in Dantewada

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Dantewada:

Naxal Arrested in Dantewada

The Chhattisgarh police on Wednesday arrested one Naxal in Kirandul town of Dantewada district following an encounter.

During the encounter the Naxal got injured. It is believed that several other Naxals were also injured.

In another incident on the same night, the police arrested three Naxals from Sukma district of the state.

On September 2, four Naxals were gunned down in an encounter with District Reserve Guard (DRG) in Narayanpur district. The security personnel had also recovered arms and ammunition, including one INSAS rifle and two 12 bore pistols as well as other incriminating materials from them.

Microsoft Releases Speech Corpus for Three Indian Languages

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New Delhi:

Microsoft Releases Speech Corpus for Three Indian Languages

Microsoft India on Thursday announced the availability of Microsoft Indian language Speech Corpus, offering speech training and test data for Telugu, Tamil and Gujarati.

Offering the largest publicly available Indian language speech dataset, Microsoft aims to help researchers and academia build Indian language speech recognition for all applications where speech is used.

This Indian language Speech Corpus content is provided by Microsoft Research Open Data initiative, a collection of free datasets from Microsoft Research to advance state-of-the-art research in areas such as natural language processing, computer vision, and domain specific sciences.

Today, there is a scarcity of adequate digital data for text, speech and linguistic resources – which are imperative in building large machine learning models for many vernacular languages across the world. Moreover, the differences in enunciation, accent, diction, and slang across various regions in India are very subtle.

As a result of these complexities, development of accurate digital tools in Indian languages has been slow. Microsoft is working to address this lack of data and catalyze the development of machine learning based models that can help in building systems for low resource languages, thus enabling the eco system of researchers, academia and tech companies working on India language models and to accelerate the needs of Indian users. The launch of Microsoft Indian Language Speech Corpus is a part of this effort.

“We believe India’s increasing digital literacy needs to be supported by a multi-lingual digital world. Microsoft Indian Language Speech Corpus is an extension of our on-going efforts to reduce language barriers and empower Indians to harness the full potential of the Internet,” said GM, Artificial Intelligence & Research, Microsoft India, Sundar Srinivasan.

“Using our technology expertise, we want to accelerate innovation in voice based computing for India by supporting researchers and academia,” added Srinivasan.

Microsoft’s Indian Language Speech Corpus was tested at Interspeech 2018, the world’s largest and most comprehensive conference on the science and technology of spoken language processing. In a Low Resource Speech Recognition Challenge, participants used data from Microsoft Indian language speech corpus to build Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) systems. They were able to create high quality speech recognition models using this data, thus validating the efficacy of the Corpus.

Microsoft has been working with Indian languages for over two decades since the launch of Project Bhasha in 1998, allowing users to input localized text easily and quickly using the Indian Language Input tool. With the help of AI and Deep Neural Networks, Microsoft is working on improving real-time language translation for Hindi, Bengali, Tamil and now expanding it to real-time language translation for Telugu.

It also recently announced support for email addresses in multiple Indian languages across most of its email apps and services. Also, as part of the latest Windows update, Microsoft added Tamil 99 virtual keyboard to Windows 10. Through its global Local Language Program (LLP), Microsoft provides people access to technology in their native language. This includes Language Interface Packs for Indian languages like Hindi, Kannada, Bengali, Malayalam, amongst others.

Telangana Assembly Dissolved, set for Early Polls

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Hyderabad:

Telangana Assembly Dissolved, set for Early Polls

Governor of Telangana ESL Narasimhan on Thursday dissolved the state assembly following the recommendation from Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhara Rao-led cabinet.

The decision sets the tone for an early election in the southern state. However, the Governor has asked Rao to continue as caretaker chief minister until the new government is formed.

Earlier in the day, Rao, who is popularly known as KCR, met the Governor after the cabinet meeting and informed him of his government’s decision.

On Sunday, addressing a mega rally, Pragathi Nivedana Sabha, of his Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in the Ranga Reddy district, KCR had asserted the need for strengthening regional parties.

Addressing the huge crowd, Rao had said, “Some media channels are saying KCR will dissolve the government. All TRS members have given me an opportunity to take a decision on the future of Telangana. Ministers told me to take any decision on dissolving the government. I will tell you when I take a decision.”

UN in India Welcomes Decriminalisation of gay sex by Supreme Court

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New Delhi:

UN in India Welcomes Decriminalisation of gay sex by Supreme Court

The United Nations (UN) in India welcomed Thursday’s landmark ruling by the Supreme Court of India that decriminalised gay sex.

A five-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra and comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud, Rohinton Fali Nariman, A M Khanwilkar and Indu Malhotra, issued the verdict on a bunch of petitions filed to scrap Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The section, which dates back to British colonial era, criminalised sexual acts between lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders and intersex (LGBTI) individuals and communities.

“The UN in India sincerely hopes that the court’s ruling will be the first step towards guaranteeing the full range of fundamental rights to LGBTI persons. We also hope that the judgment will boost efforts to eliminate stigma and discrimination against LGBTI persons in all areas of social, economic, cultural and political activity, thereby ensuring a truly inclusive society,” read the statement.

“The focus must now be on ensuring access to justice, including remedy; effective investigations of acts of violence and discrimination; and effective access to economic, social and cultural rights,” it added.

Apple may Ditch ‘Plus’ for the iPhone Xs ‘Max’

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California:

Apple may Ditch ‘Plus’ for the iPhone Xs ‘Max’

Adding to the rumours and speculations ahead of the September 12 release of Apple’s new iPhones, it is now believed that one of the upcoming models will carry the iPhone Xs Max moniker.

It is long speculated that the next-in-line iPhone will be called the iPhone Xs which will take on the design from the current iPhone X and bring some upgrades under the hood. Now, sources indicate that the larger variant with a 6.5-inch display will be called iPhone Xs Max, 9to5 Mac reported.

The iPhone Xs Max will essentially replace the ‘Plus’ models in the previous iterations. The new iPhones will feature OLED displays and a new gold finish on the stainless steel sides. There will also be a cheaper LCD version.

In terms of specifications, the upcoming iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max will include 4GB of RAM, A12 chip under the hood, and for the first time, support for dual SIM in the larger model.

 

Supreme Court Decriminalises Homosexuality

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New Delhi:

Supreme Court Decriminalises Homosexuality

In a landmark judgement, after months of deliberations, the Supreme Court on Thursday struck down the Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which criminalised homosexuality.

A five-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra and comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud, Rohinton Fali Nariman, A M Khanwilkar and Indu Malhotra, issued the verdict on a bunch of petitions filed to scrap the law. The bench had earlier reserved its verdict on July 17.

Criminalising gay sex is irrational and indefensible, observed the CJI while delivering the verdict. The Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender community has same rights as any other citizen, the CJI added. Respect for each other’s rights, and others are supreme humanity, observed the bench unanimously, while saying that right to live with dignity is right.

Known as Section 377 of the IPC, the 157-year-old law criminalised certain sexual acts, terming them as ‘unnatural offences’, punishable by a 10-year jail term.

The law punished “carnal inter­course against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal” and thus had bigger implications for same-sex relationships.

The legal battle to scrap the statute has gone on for several years.

The Delhi High Court, in 2009, decriminalised homosexuality. But in 2013, the Supreme Court restored the colonial-era law. Three years later, the top court agreed to hear the Section 377 petition once more.

Petitioners before the Supreme Court argued that the controversial law was not in tandem with a 2017 ruling that guaranteed the right to privacy to people.

During the hearing in July, the government told the apex court that it would leave to the wisdom of the court to decide the constitutional validity of Section 377.

Korean Leaders to Hold Summit in Pyongyang in September

0

Seoul:

Korean Leaders to Hold Summit in Pyongyang in September

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will meet for the third time during the inter-Korean summit from September 18 to September 20 in Pyongyang.

As per Yonhap News Agency, Moon’s special envoy Chung Eui-yong, who returned from Pyongyang late Wednesday, confirmed about the South Korean President’s visit to North Korea.

“First, the South and the North agreed to hold a South-North Korean summit in Pyongyang between September 18 to September 20, and to hold high-level negotiations early next week to prepare for the summit,” Chung said.

A five-member delegation to Pyongyang was headed by Chung and also included the director of the National Intelligence Service, Suh Hoon, and Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung. The trip to North Korea was largely aimed at setting the date for the third Moon-Kim summit.

This will be the third summit between the two Korean leaders. The two, first met in the border village of Panmunjom on April 27, then again on May 26.

Chung said that the forthcoming summit would review the implementation of the inter-Korean summit agreement signed between the two countries during the first meeting in Panmunjom.

“The countries agreed to review the implementation of the Panmunjom Declaration and discuss the future direction of its implementation, and to discuss practical ways to establish lasting peace and ensure joint prosperity on the Korean Peninsula, especially denuclearize the Korean Peninsula,” he said.

Chung further informed that the North Korean leader has reaffirmed his commitment on denuclearization and to work closely with the United States on the same.

This will be Moon’s first visit to North Korea as a head of the state, although, during the April meeting, the South Korean President had briefly crossed over to the other side of the inter-Korean border with Kim.

Petrol, Diesel Prices Break Fresh Records

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New Delhi:

Petrol, Diesel Prices Break Fresh Records

Fuel prices once again witnessed a hike on Thursday, with petrol being sold at Rs.79.51 per litre and diesel at Rs.71.55 per litre here in the national capital.

The price of petrol has been increased by 20 paise per litre, while diesel saw a hike of 21 paise per litre, as compared to Tuesday’s prices in New Delhi.

In Mumbai, the price of petrol has surpassed the Rs 86 mark to be sold at Rs.86.91 per litre, while diesel is being retailed at Rs.75.96 per litre.

Fuel prices across four major cities remained steady on Wednesday, after recording an increase for ten consecutive days.

While petrol prices were selling at an unchanged price of Rs 79.31 per litre yesterday, the same was retailing at Rs. 86.72 in Mumbai, Rs. 82.41 in Chennai and Rs. 82.22 in Kolkata.

The diesel prices also remained unchanged on Wednesday across the four metropolitan cities, as per the Indian Oil Corporation. A litre of diesel was being sold at Rs 71.34 in Delhi, Rs 75.74 per litre in Mumbai, Rs 75.39 per litre in Chennai and Rs 74.19 per litre in Kolkata.

Earlier, Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan had said that the rise in fuel prices in the country was “temporary,” adding that a rise in global crude oil prices was responsible for the price surge in India.

Jharkhand CM Invites China’s Investment in Food Processing Units

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Henan:

Jharkhand CM Invites China’s Investment in Food Processing Units

Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das met with the Party Secretary of Henan Province, Wang Guosheng on Wednesday evening and invited Chinese investment in the food processing companies in his state.

During his visit to China’s Zhengzhou city, the Chief Minister also exchanged views with Guosheng on enhancing cooperation at the provincial level.

As per Jharkhand Chief Minister office, there are around 30,000 food processing companies operational in Henan Province of China and Jharkhand can offer immense opportunities to them for investment.

Das also invited Guosheng in the Global Agriculture and Food Summit 2018, which will be organized in Jharkhand’s capital Ranchi from November 29 to 30. He also expressed hope for consistent great relations with Henan Province, same as in the past.

During the meeting, the Chief Minister also shared insights about Jharkhand’s Buddhist history and said that both provinces are closely connected through the Buddhist heritage. He also extended an invitation to his Chinese guests for visiting Jharkhand’s Itkhori, from where Buddha started his spiritual journey.

The Chief Minister is on a five-day tour to China on the invitation of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC).

International Exposure Necessary for Indian Sportsperson, Says Army Chief

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New Delhi:

International Exposure Necessary for Indian Sportsperson, Says Army Chief

It is important for Indian sportspersons to get international exposure for in the run-up to Mission Olympics 2020, said Army Chief General Bipin Rawat after meeting Asian Games 2018 medal winners from Army.

Talking to media on the sidelines of the event organized on Wednesday to felicitate Asian Games players for the Army, General Rawat said, “I spoke to players and they want that they should get continuous International exposure. It enhances their confidence as well as relieves them from stage fright. It is important they continuously keep competing with the international sportsman. There is still two years in Olympics and we want to make sure that maximum international exposure is given to our players by that time.”

He also motivated non-winners to keep working hard to win medals in future and said, “I want to congratulate the whole contingent and not only medal winners. Some have won this time and some might have not but they will keep working hard and I am sure they will bring more medals in the future.”

Detailing about the preparations for Olympic Games, General Rawat said, “Preparations for Mission Olympics are continuously ongoing. We are trying that the maximum number of our sportsman can be sent this year for Olympics. From Army 73 sportsmen and coaches went this time in Asian Games. We have got a total number of 11 medals including 4 Silver and 4 Gold. We have now started excelling in many new sports as well. I hope that mission Olympics 2020 will also be very successful.”

India clinched a total of 69 medals in the prestigious quadrennial tournament- 15 gold, 24 silver, and 30 bronze.

Ecuador to Submit ‘A son of Man’ at Oscars

0

Washington DC:

Ecuador to Submit ‘A son of Man’ at Oscars

Ecuador has officially chosen ‘A Son of Man’ to be submitted at the 91st Oscars under the ‘foreign language film’ category.

The film which has been directed by Luis Felipe Fernandez-Salvador and Pablo Aguero is a story set in the backdrop of Incan gold treasure hunt in the South American jungle, reported The Hollywood Reporter.

It is a true story which has been shot in real locations with non-professional actors. The film follows the story of Pipe, an American teenager who joins his father in Ecuador on a hunt for Incan gold.

The twist in the story comes about when the teenager realises that he and his father wouldn’t be able to escape the family demons, which emerge during their journey through the dense jungle.

This is the seventh time Ecuador is planning to submit a film at the Oscars. It first submitted ‘Dreams from the Middle of the World’ under the said category back in 2000.

Till date, the country hasn’t received any nominations at the Academy Awards.

Demonetisation a Disaster, Discard Rs. 2000 Notes, Says Andhra CM

0

Amaravati:

Demonetisation a Disaster, Discard Rs. 2000 Notes, Says Andhra CM

Terming demonetisation as a disaster, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu demanded the abolition of Rs. 2000 currency note.

Addressing a party workshop on Wednesday, Naidu said that he had suggested that making digital currency is much cost effective than physical currency but the government could not properly implement it.

He also shared the update of capital city Amaravati’s development and also blamed the Central Government for not giving funds and creating hurdles.

“Construction of capital city Amaravati is going on at a fast pace. High court buildings will be ready by the end of this December. Amaravati bonds received an overwhelming response. The central government is not giving the money. When we try to generate funds on our own, they are making unnecessary allegations. The Central Government is not cooperating by not giving us the special status or the funds. In the last parliament session, our MPs fought well. We are fighting with the centre. The Centre is trying to create hurdles at every step. But we will not yield,” he stated.

Detailing about the key development initiatives of his government, Naidu said, “We introduced many projects. We built 10 lakh farm ponds. We started interlinking of Godavari and Krishna rivers. With Pattiseema project, Godavari water is supplementing the needs of farmers in Krishna river region. We are working on the Polavaram project. It is the lifeline of Andhra Pradesh and works are going on a fast pace. However, the centre is not cooperating properly. 10 irrigation projects are complete, 10-16 projects are under the pipeline. This time, despite less rainfall we could manage with tanks completely filled. Our focus is on developing agriculture, horticulture and aquaculture.”

He also announced to launch an unemployment scheme on October 2.

Naidu urged party leaders and workers to keep the welfare of all communities in mind and said that it is everyone’s responsibility to assure all communities feel comfortable in his rule.

US Vice President Praises Sessions

0

Washington D. C.:

US Vice President Praises Sessions

Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence, on Wednesday heaped words of praise on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is facing thire of President Donald Trump over the Department of Justice investigations into two GOP Congressmen.

“I hold Jeff Sessions in the highest regard. I appreciate his service to the nation,” Pence was quoted by the CNN as saying.

Former Alabama Senator, Sessions was one of the first members of Congress to come out in support of President Donald Trump during the 2016 Presidential elections.

However, he has often been criticised by Trump for recusing himself from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Russian meddling during the 2016 elections.

The most recent of Trump’s criticisms for Sessions were over the investigations into GOP (Republican) Congressmen Duncan Hunter of California and Chris Collins of New York, Fox News reported.

Hunter, along with his wife Margaret, was formally charged over allegations of illegally converting around $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses and filing fake records last month. Collins was in August charged over allegations of insider trading, with the alleged insider trading being traced back to June 2017 by prosecutors, after Trump assumed office.

On September 3, Trump took to Twitter to slam Sessions, saying that he has endangered two “easy wins” in the upcoming midterm elections.

“Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department. Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job Jeff……,” Trump tweeted.

Sessions responded to Trump’s remarks through a statement, saying, “While I am Attorney General, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.”

Last month, the US President tweeted that Sessions, “doesn’t understand what is happening underneath his command position.”

Scholarship Building Block of Meaningful International Relation, Says President Kovind

0

Sofia:

Scholarship Building Block of Meaningful International Relation, Says President Kovind

President Ram Nath Kovind has said that scholarship and learning are the building blocks of any meaningful international relationship.

Addressing students in Sofia University, Bulgaria on Wednesday on the theme “Education as an Instrument of Change and Shared Prosperity”, the President said, “Scholarship and learning are the building blocks of any meaningful international relationship – as is certainly the case between Bulgaria and India.”

He further added that the focus of our education system and knowledge production is to secure a meaningful future for younger generations.

Dedicating his address to former President Dr. S. Radhakrishnan on the occasion of his birth anniversary, President Kovind said, “It is a coincidence that I am at this University on September 5. In India, this is commemorated as Teachers’ Day in honour of Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, whose birth anniversary falls today. Dr. Radhakrishnan was one of my distinguished predecessors as the President of India. He was a scholar-statesman and philosopher of rare eminence. In 1954, as Vice-President of India, he visited Bulgaria and helped lay the foundations of our modern relationship. My address today is dedicated to this great teacher and this embodiment of Bulgaria-India relations.”

Recognizing the contribution of teachers in nation building, the President added, “I would also like to use this occasion to pay tribute to India’s teachers, scholars and academics. They have drawn from India’s age-old traditions of learning and wisdom — and they have contributed to India’s reputation as a knowledge power. They are a source of pride for India. Across continents, Indian scholarship and academic excellence is recognized. It adds to the global economy and knowledge structures – and it earns India goodwill.”

Talking about Bulgaria-India bond, he said, “Here Bulgaria and India, despite being so different, have common concerns and common aspirations. About a quarter of Bulgaria’s population is below the age of 25. In India, 65 per cent of our people are aged below 35. These are dreams that we can realise together. India would be happy to share its blueprints and its experiences with Bulgaria, as per your country’s priorities.”

He also suggested that Bulgarian and Indian scientists can cooperate to devise technologies to clean rivers and to explore the potential of the blue economy.

Before the address of the President, India and Bulgaria also signed four memoranda of understanding (MoUs) in the fields of Civil Nuclear cooperation, investment, Tourism and establishment of Hindi chair at Sofia University. A program of Cooperation in science and Technology was also signed.

President Kovind is on his state visit to three European countries-Cyprus, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic.

11 Haqqani Members Arrested in Afghanistan

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Kabul:

11 Haqqani Members Arrested in Afghanistan

As many as 11 members of the Haqqani network were arrested on Wednesday by Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) in an operation in Kabul.

In a statement, the NDS said that the Haqqani network members were arrested from PD 5, PD 12, Bagrami and Paghman districts of the Kabul province, TOLO News reported.

The statement underlined that the group was involved in various terror activities, planting land mines, assassinating government officials and influential individuals, etc.

The NDS confiscated an AK-47 rifle, a pistol, three kilograms of explosives and a motorcycle, reported Khaama Press. The captured members have been identified as Momin Khan, Azizullah, Sardar Wali, Hamid, Mustafa, Mir Agha, Mohammad Rasool, Nawab, Lal Agha, Munir, and Ehsanullah.

The Haqqani network or the Taliban have not yet responded to the operation.

The capture comes a day after the Afghanistan Taliban issued a statement to announce the death of the founder of the Haqqani network, Jalaluddin Haqqani.

The Haqqani network is responsible for some of the deadliest attack in Kabul in recent times.

Athawale to Move SC Against ban on ‘Dalit’ Word Usage

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New Delhi:

Athawale to Move SC Against ban on ‘Dalit’ Word Usage

Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Ramdas Athawale on Wednesday said the Republican Party of India (RPI) would move the Supreme Court to challenge the Ministry of Information and Broadcast directive advising the media to refrain from using the word ‘Dalit’.

Addressing the media here, the RPI chief said, “On behalf of the Republican Party, we will go to the Supreme Court and challenge the Bombay High Court’s decision to ban the usage of the word ‘Dalit’ because it isn’t offensive. It is wrong to ban its usage.”

“We respect the court, even our ministry had issued a directive to use the word ‘Scheduled Caste’ instead of ‘Dalit’ in official documents, but it is not right to stop the media from using the word,” Athawale added.

He further stated that the ‘Dalit’ community had objections with the word ‘Harijan’, which was coined by Mahatma Gandhi, but the word was not banned.

“The Dalit community were treated unfairly and called Harijans at the same time. Mahatma Gandhiji’s intentions were noble but the Dalit community had issues with being called that word. There shouldn’t be any problems with the word ‘Dalit’ as well. We’ll go to the Supreme Court and challenge the ban,” Athawale said.

The I&B ministry recently issued the advisory to the media advising them to stop using the term ‘Dalit’ when referring to members of the Scheduled Castes. The Bombay high court, in June, asked the ministry to consider issuing the directive to the media.

6.7 Magnitude Earthquake Jolts Japan’s Hokkaido Island

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Hokkaido:

6.7 Magnitude Earthquake Jolts Japan’s Hokkaido Island

A 6.7 magnitude earthquake hit Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido in the wee hours of Thursday, Japan’s Meteorological Agency confirmed.

While indicating towards minor changes in the sea-level in Japan’s coastal areas, the agency ruled out the possibility of a Tsunami or any other damage as a result of the earthquake, the Japan Times reported. The earthquake hit Hokkaido at 3:08 AM.

The quake, which originated at a depth of 40 kilometers below southern Hokkaido, was recorded between 6 and 7 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale in the town of Abira and in the lower 6 in Chitose city. Both cities are southeast of Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido.

Several incidents of house collapses and landslides have also been reported from various parts of the island.

Addressing a press conference, an official of Japan’s Meteorological Agency said, “There are risks of landslides and homes collapsing. Please don’t go near anywhere deemed dangerous.”

Authorities have suspended operations of the Shinkansen or the Japanese bullet train due to a blackout, the Japan Times stated citing an NHK report.

Telangana Registers 21.96% Growth Rate in First 5 Months

0

Hyderabad:

Telangana Registers 21.96% Growth Rate in First 5 Months

Telangana State has achieved 21.96 percent growth rate in revenue during the first five months of the financial year 2018-19, informed Chief Minister’s office on Wednesday.

The Chief Minister’s office, in a statement, stated that during the first five months from April to August 2018 the revenue in the state has touched Rs. 25, 3984.18 crore which marks a 21.96 percent growth as compared to last year’s figure for the same period. In the first five months of the 2017-18 financial year, the revenue was Rs. 21,642.02 crore.

According to the statement, the state has been registering record revenue growth since last four years. After formation of Telangana State, in the first four financial years, the state has recorded a revenue growth rate of 17.17 percent on an average every year.

Meanwhile, the Economic Times has decided to confer the prestigious Economic Times Business Reformer of the year Award on Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao on October 27, 2018 in Mumbai.

According to another statement from the CMO, the Chief Minister outlined the growth of Telangana in various developmental welfare activities which resulted in such Awards. He said, that, industrialists both within the country and abroad have all praised for Telangana, adding, the state secured top rank in Ease of doing business. The Chief Minister also said, that, several new avenues have been opened in IT sector adding to the revenue growth rate of the state.

He added that the single widow TS iPass Industrial Policy has brought more than 7000 industries to the state providing large-scale employment and huge investments.

Twin Blasts in Afghanistan Kill 20

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Kabul:

Twin Blasts in Afghanistan Kill 20

At least 20 people were killed and dozens others were injured in two bomb blasts that occurred in Kabul’s Qala-e-Nazer area on Wednesday.

The first explosion was a suicide bombing incident that occurred around 6 PM (local time) at the Moalem wrestling club, killing at least four and injuring several others, reported TOLO News.

Police said that the explosives were detonated with the bomber present among the athletes in the club.

The second explosion, a car bombing which killed at least 16 and wounded 65 others, occurred about an hour later. Two TOLO News journalists were among the dead in the second blast.

Journalist Samim Faramarz and cameraman Ramiz Ahmadi were covering the first blast when the second explosion took place, killing both.

Afghanistan’s Presidential Palace condemned the attacks in a statement and labelled it a “crime against humanity.”

“An attack on civilians and media is an attack on the freedom of press and a crime against humanity. President Ghani condemns the terrorist attacks in the strongest possible terms and has directed the responsible officials to do whatever they can to help the families of the victims and those wounded and to launch an investigation into the incident,” the statement read.

Former President Hamid Karzai took to Twitter to condemn the blasts and extend his condolences for the victims.

“I strongly condemn the terrorist attack in #Kabul that inflicted casualties on our people including our brave journalists & athletes. Our ill-wishers must know that our people stand united against their terrorism. I extend my profound sympathies to the victims’ families & friends,” Karzai tweeted.

Patnaik Writes to Centre for Establishment of HC Benches

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Bhubaneswar:

Patnaik Writes to Centre for Establishment of HC Benches

Amid mounting protests for establishment of High Court benches in southern and western part of Odisha, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday wrote a letter to Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, requesting to expedite the formal process for setting up the High Court benches.

In the letter to the Law Minister, Patnaik said, “Establishment of permanent benches of Odisha High Court is necessary to mitigate the inconvenience faced by the litigants in this southern and western region of the state.”

“I had further conveyed the assurance of the state government to provide adequate resources for the establishment of the high court benches in these areas,” he further said.

The Chief Minister said that the state government is aware of the various decisions of the Supreme Court, including the case of Federation of Bar Association of Karnataka vs Union of India and others, as well as the recommendation of the Commission headed by Justice Jaswant Singh for the establishment of bench of High Court away from its principal seat.

“In our view, there is adequate justification for the establishment of permanent benches of Orissa High Court in the western and southern parts of Odisha and the criteria laid down by Justice Jaswant Singh Commission are also substantially met,” Patnaik said.

Patnaik, in his letter, stated that the parliament has the prerogative to establish such benches in an exercise of its powers under Entry-78 if the Union List.

“In the above context, it is urged that an early decision regarding establishment of permanent benches of the high court in western and southern Odisha be taken by the Government of India to fulfil the aspirations of the people of these regions,” his letter read.

Congress Accuses Modi government of ‘Doublespeak’ on its Defence Deals

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New Delhi:

Congress Accuses Modi government of ‘Doublespeak’ on its Defence Deals

Accusing the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government of following “doublespeak” on its defence deals, the Congress on Wednesday questioned why the ruling dispensation did not apply the same principle in the Rafale deal with France as it did with the AK-103 assault rifles deal with Russia.

Addressing a press conference, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, “Why was this same principle not applied then during the Rafale Scam? Is the Modi government lying in the AK-rifle deal or in the Rafale deal?

“Since Modi government has virtually given up ‘Make in India’ in Defence, by only getting an investment of Rs 1 crore till now, it is imperative for them to clear the air on the same. The nation is waiting for a clear answer on this doublespeak,” he added.

The Congress spokesperson said that a fallacious argument of the Modi government on the Rafale deal has been nipped in the bud by its own recent negotiations in the AK-rifle deal with Russia.

Singhvi, citing several media reports, stated, “It has been revealed that Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has reportedly turned down a Russian request to make another private Indian entity (Adani Group) its partner for the joint manufacture of Rs 3,000 crore worth of AK-103 assault rifles for the Indian Army.”

“Modi government has reportedly advised Russia that its firm Kalashnikov Concern should tie up with the state-run Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) if it wants its proposal to manufacture the AK-103 assault rifles in India to be considered by the Defence Ministry,” he said, adding, “It has also been revealed that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) reportedly shot down Kalashnikov Concern’s proposal for a joint venture with the private Indian entity – which has recently entered the defence sector, to produce the 7.62×39 mm calibre AK-103 gun, which are a derivative of the iconic AK-47 rifle.”

The Congress leader said that the Ministry of Defence last month had said that if the Russians want to partner with a private Indian entity, they must come through the ‘tender route’.

Serena Williams Cruises Into US Open Semi-finals

0

New York:

Serena Williams Cruises Into US Open Semi-finals

Former World No. 1 and Serena Williams on Tuesday (local time) went past Czech Republic’s Karolína Pliskova in straight sets to enter the semi-finals of the women’s singles event in the US Open for the tenth successive year.

The six-time US Open champion registered a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Pliskova, who beat Serena in the semi-finals of the competition two years ago, to keep her hopes of winning a record-equaling 24th Grand Slam title alive.

The current World No. 26 Williams got off to a good start in the first set winning the first game, but an array of unenforced errors led to her being pegged back by the No. 8 seeded Czech in back-to-back games.

Reeling from a 2-4 position, Serena turned on the style and won eight consecutive games to wrap up the first set and establish a 4-0 lead in the second, effectively sealing her spot in the semi-final.

The Czech rallied back into the contest to pull three games back but it wasn’t enough to prevent Williams from a straight sets victory. The American held Pliskova to love in the final game with the score at 5-3 and her 13th ace of the match wrapped up the contest.

In the other games, defending champion Sloane Stephens of the USA was outclassed in her quarter-final clash by Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova 2-6, 3-6.

In men’s singles, Argentian’s Juan Martín del Potro booked his berth in the semifinals by edging past American John Isner 6-7, 6-3, 7-6, 6-2.

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal’s quarter-final clash against Dominic Thiem of Austria is currently underway.

ED Books Retired IAS Officer Under PMLA

0

Mohali:

ED Books Retired IAS Officer Under PMLA

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed prosecution complaint under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), against a retired Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer and his three associates for spending Rs. 5,41,21,019 more than earning from lawful sources.

The complaint was filed before the PMLA/Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Special Court at Mohali on Tuesday against Mandeep Singh, IAS (Retd.), M/s Ashiana Inn Ltd. and three others for committing an offence of money laundering.

In an investigation, it was revealed that during the period between April 1998 to March 31, 2014, Mandeep Singh spent funds totalling to Rs. 5,41,21,019/- in excess (130 percent excess) of the income earned by him and his family members through all the lawful sources of their income. The said expenditure also includes the purchase of agricultural lands in the name of his wife and sons.

“Mandeep Singh, IAS (now retired) has invested illegitimate funds, possessed by him in excess to his known sources of income, running in crores in cash, in the construction of Hotels Marc Royale-I and Marc Royale- II running under the aegis of M/s Ashiana Inn Ltd in connivance with Avtar Singh. This hotel was constructed under the ownership of the company, M/s Ashiana Inn Ltd. Value of hotels is to the extent of Rs. 91.83 crore,” reads an official statement.

Elaborating further on the discrepancies found during the investigation, the statement added, “M/s Ashiana Inn Ltd. showed availability of funds by way of issuance of fake shares in the names of various Companies and a number of persons. During the investigation, these companies were found bogus/shell in nature. The shareholders of M/s Ashiana Inn Ltd. have also been found bogus. The unaccounted funds laundered in the Hotels belonged to Mandeep Singh.”

It has also been stated that Mandeep Singh had acquired funds to the tunes of Rs. 2.50 crore using bogus agreement to sell his house. The above money is revealed to be illegitimate fund and in excess to known sources of his income and income of his family members. All these funds were used by prime accused to purchase agricultural lands in the name of his wife and his sons.

Following the investigation, the ED also issued Provisional Attachment Order (PAO) to attach immovable properties worth Rs. 94.45 crores which include agricultural lands owned by Maya Devi and her sons and Hotel Marc Royale-I and Hotel Marc Royale-II under the aegis of M/s Ashiana Inn Ltd.

The attachment of the above-mentioned properties allegedly representing proceeds of crime has already been confirmed by adjudication authority, PMLA.

CBI Arrests NCB Intelligence Officer for Demanding Bribe

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Kolkata:

CBI Arrests NCB Intelligence Officer for Demanding Bribe

The Central Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday arrested an Intelligence Officer of Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in Kolkata for accepting a bribe of Rs. 50,000.

The officer allegedly demanded Rs. 2 lakh as a bribe for not implicating the complainant in an NCB case. The accused, however, later agreed to accept Rs. 50,000.

Following the complaint and necessary verification of the details, the CBI laid a trap and caught an advocate while accepting the bribe on behalf of the NCB officer. The CBI also arrested the advocate.

The probe agency also raided the official and residential premises of the accused.

India’s Economy Making Steady Progress, Says President Kovind in Bulgaria

0

Sofia:

India’s Economy Making Steady Progress, Says President Kovind in Bulgaria

President Ram Nath Kovind apprised the Indian community in Bulgaria of India’s growth story, saying that the economy of the country is making steady progress.

Addressing the Indian diaspora in the Bulgarian capital Sofia on Tuesday, President Kovind said, “We have undertaken a range of transformative policy measures to give a new purpose and clarity of visions for inclusive development and good governance in the country. We have imparted a new energy to our economy. India is the fastest growing major economy in the world with the current growth rate of 8.2 percent. We are making steady progress towards becoming a USD 5 trillion economy and the third largest consumer market in the world by 2025.”

The President also hailed the Indian community in Bulgaria as “bridge between the two countries”. “Indian diaspora in Bulgaria constitutes a living bridge between the two countries. There is one common thread which binds us all together. This is our common cultural and traditional heritage. I am happy that you have kept our traditions and festivals alive in this country as well but what is truly heart-warming is the way our Bulgarian friends appreciate and embrace our culture and ethos.”

He also detailed about India’s economic growth and said, “According to latest World Bank and IMF estimates, Indian economy will continue on its high trajectory recording 7.8 percent growth in 2019. India was ranked 3rd in the World Economic Forum’s list of most trusted governments in 2017. We climbed 42 places in the World Bank ease of doing business index in last few years.”

Elaborating further on economic reforms undertaken by the Indian government in last few years, President Kovind said, “The Goods and Services Tax (GST) has created a single unified market in India for the first time in its history. The Digital India program is transforming the face of public service delivery in the country. To promote entrepreneurship and create jobs under our microfinance scheme MUDRA (Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency Limited) we have dispersed 128 million loans worth US dollar 90 billion. 74 percent of their beneficiaries are women.”

The President also spoke about the ambitious health care program Ayushman Bharat scheme which he said will provide health insurance to 40 percent of the Indian population.

He further emphasised on India-Bulgaria ties and said, “Indology Department of Sofia University has been doing stellar work for 35 years in spreading awareness about Indian culture. I am delighted to learn its scholars have translated eight principal Upanishads from Sanskrit to Bulgarian.”

He also extended an invitation to Indian diaspora for Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) to be held in Varanasi from January 21 to 23 next year.

President Kovind is on his state visit to three European countries-Cyprus, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic.

Rahul Will be PM After 2019 Elections, Says Punjab CM

0

New Delhi:

Rahul Will be PM After 2019 Elections, Says Punjab CM

Dismissing news about his differences with Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday said that the entire party is solidly backing Gandhi on every front.

“Whole party stands united behind Rahul Gandhi and the way things are he will be Prime Minister after election,” Singh told media.

Singh’s statement comes days after he had said that Rahul was in school and was not involved in 1984 Sikh massacare.

Talking on 1984 anti-Sikh riots, Punjab CM said that his party had no role in the violence and the people involved were individuals. “Congress has not been involved in 1984 massacare after the assassination of Indira Gandhi. They were individuals of Congress. I named those people — Arjun Das, Dharmadas Shastri, HKL Bhagat. That doesn’t mean entire Congress party was involved,” Singh said.

“Those individuals involved in 1984 are gone. At this time only one — Sajjan Kumar — is around that I have said time and again” Singh added.

Study Provides 10-year Risk Estimates for Dementia

0

Washington D.C.:

Study Provides 10-year Risk Estimates for Dementia

A new study has provided 10-year absolute risk estimates for dementia, specific to age and sex, which may help identify high-risk individuals who could potentially benefit from early targeted prevention.

Dementia is a major cause of disability in older adults worldwide, yet no effective treatment is currently available. Reduction of risk factors for dementia may have the potential to delay or prevent the development of the disease. Age, sex and common variation in the APOE gene identify high-risk individuals with the greatest potential to benefit from targeted interventions to reduce risk factors.

The apolipoprotein E (APOE) protein is key for metabolising cholesterol and to clear ß-amyloid protein from the brain in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.

The study looked at the data of people and linked it to diagnoses of dementia. Researchers found that a combination of age, sex and a common variation in the APOE gene could identify high-risk groups, with a 7 per cent risk for women and 6 per cent risk for men in their 60s; a 16 per cent and 12 per cent risk, respectively, for people in their 70s; and a 24 per cent and 19 per cent risk, respectively, for those aged 80 years and older.

“The present absolute 10-year risk estimates of dementia by age, sex and common variation in the APOE gene have the potential to identify high-risk individuals for early targeted preventive interventions,” the authors concluded.

The findings appeared in the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association.

Oraimo Launches new Range of Bluetooth Earphones

0

New Delhi:

Oraimo Launches new Range of Bluetooth Earphones

If you are looking for a sturdy, stylish and reliable set of earphones to fulfill your travel as well as music needs, then this set of earphones is just the perfect pick for you.

oraimo, the smart accessory brand from TRANSSION Holdings, has announced the launch of its new set of stylish earphones in India, Shark OEB-E57D at a price of Rs. 2,399.

Supporting shark fit design, these designed earphones are light weight with flexible round-the-neck design.

“The new trendy pair of earphones stand out in terms of design, sound quality and comfort. Given that today’s generation is always-on-the-go, the idea is to be able to enjoy hours of favorite music, avoiding hassle to untangle the wired earphones. We are sure that our product will be loved by the Indian youth and will appeal to their senses,” said business head, oraimo Accessories India, Puneet Gupta.

The sturdy and stylish looking oraimo Shark OEB-E57D earphones employ a mix of plastic and metal, which keeps the unit light-weight without sacrificing on the build quality.

The impressive battery provides a talk time of upto 8 hours continuously satiating the need of music buffs, offering crisper sound quality. Shark’s Bluetooth connection ensures a rock-solid connection to the paired device since they are equipped with Bluetooth Version V4.1 and connect easily with any smart device.

IAF MiG 27 Crashes Near Jodhpur

0

Jodhpur:

IAF MiG 27 Crashes Near Jodhpur

An Indian Air force MiG 27 aircraft crashed near Jodhpur in Rajasthan during a routine mission on Tuesday morning.

The pilot managed to eject himself safely before the accident took place. No loss of lives or injuries has been reported so far. However, the pictures from the accident site show a completely damaged aircraft.

The Indian Army, in a statement, said that the cause of the mishap would be investigated.

“Today morning a MiG 27 aircraft airborne from Jodhpur crashed during a routine mission. The pilot ejected safely. A Court of Inquiry will investigate the cause of the accident,” said the Army Public Relation Officer.

More details are awaited in the matter.

CJI Office Formally Recommends Ranjan Gogoi as Chief Justice

0

New Delhi:

CJI Office Formally Recommends Ranjan Gogoi as Chief Justice

The office of the Chief Justice of India on Tuesday sent a letter to the Union of India (UOI) recommending Justice Ranjan Gogoi as the successor to incumbent Chief Justice Dipak Misra, according to sources.

On September 1, the CJI’s office had proposed the name of Justice Gogoi as the next head of the judiciary of the country.

If appointed, Justice Gogoi, the second most senior judge in the apex court, will take charge as the 46th Chief Justice of India.

Justice Gogoi would take over the reins from CJI Dipak Misra on October 3, if elevated.

As per protocol, the sitting CJI has to name his successor, after which clearance has to be sought from the central government and then the President of the country.

Born in 1954, Justice Gogoi was appointed as a permanent judge of the Guwahati High Court on February 28, 2001, and elevated as a Supreme Court judge on April 23, 2012.

Airfare Cheaper Than Auto Rickshaw Ride, Says Jayant Sinha

0

Gorakhpur:

Airfare Cheaper Than Auto Rickshaw Ride, Says Jayant Sinha

Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha claimed that the cost of air tickets was much lesser than that of an auto rickshaw in the present day.

Speaking at the inaugural event of the new domestic terminal building of Gorakhpur Airport, he said, “Today airfare is less than that of an auto-rickshaw. You will ask how is that possible? When two people take an auto-rickshaw they pay a fare of Rs 10 which means they’re charged Rs 5 per kilometer but when you go by air you are charged Rs 4 per kilometer.”

Sinha further said that under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, the aviation sector saw maximum development, adding that the number of people commuting via airplane has increased two-folds in 2018.

“Till 2013, approximately only six crore people were traveling in airplanes, but now the figures have improved. At present, as many as 12 crore people residing across the country are using airlines as a mode of transport. Earlier there were only 75 airports but today there are as many as 100 airports which are operational all over India,” he added.

Sinha assured the people of Gorakhpur that soon, Indigo, an airline firm, would launch around 5 to 10 flights in the near future so that locals can travel with ease to nearby cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Allahabad, in a bid to improve connectivity to and from Gorakhpur.

Nadeem Nusrat Welcomes US’ Decision to Cancel aid to Pakistan

0

Washington D.C.:

Nadeem Nusrat Welcomes US’ Decision to Cancel aid to Pakistan

Nadeem Nusrat, chairman of Voice of Karachi, a US-based advocacy group, has welcomed Washington’s recent actions to pressurise Islamabad in order to stop supporting terrorist groups in their soil.

Nusrat penned a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, prior to his visit to Pakistan and said, “We appreciate the current administration’s decision to cancel USD 300 million in Coalition Support Fund (CSF) to Pakistan. The Voice of Karachi and South Asia Minorities Alliance leadership requests the US government to exert its influence over the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other international lending bodies to stop them from financially bailing out Pakistan until its military leadership agrees to stop interfering in civilian affairs and refrain from supporting terrorist groups and proxies who are involved in terrorism inside Pakistan as well across the border.”

He claimed that Pakistan is not a “homogenous country” and has been run by the military forces.

Nusrat said, “Pakistan is not a homogenous country, and it is inhabited by many ethnic and religious groups who enjoy rich heritage, culture and are perfectly capable of running their own affairs.”

“Unfortunately, since its inception in 1947, Pakistan has been run by a military elite that hails mainly from only one province of Pakistan, Punjab. This Punjabi-dominated military elite has used a national institution like Pakistan Army as a means to promote and safeguard interests of Pakistan’s Punjabi-speaking people only,” he added.

He alleged that the Pakistani military forces had “forcibly annexed” Balochistan in 1948, and “brutally crushed” the separatist movements in the province.

“Pakistan’s Balochistan province had not formally agreed to join Pakistan at the time of India’s partition in 1947. It was forcibly annexed by the Pakistani military in 1948. Since then this province, which is Pakistan’s largest province in terms of area and is full of minerals, gas and other natural resources, has witnessed many nationalist uprisings and separatist movements. All these movements were brutally crushed by Pakistan’s Punjabi-dominated military, leaving tens of thousands of Balochs dead and injured,” Nusrat asserted.

The Voice of Karachi chairman claimed that the Pakistani forces killed Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti for demanding more rights for the province. His death led to another nationalist uprising and subsequent military crackdown, claiming thousands of lives.

Talking about Karachi, Nusrat continued, “Karachi, Pakistan’s most populous province with an estimated population of 32 million people, is the city whose taxes run Pakistan’s economy. Karachi is home to millions of Muslims who had migrated from India at the time of partition. These immigrants are known as Mohajirs. Once Pakistan came over its initial challenges, the Pakistani military started an organised campaign to purge all state and private institutions of Mohajirs. Pakistan’s first military dictator General Ayub Khan took away Karachi’s status as being the nation’s capital and made Islamabad, a newly formed city in Punjab, as the new capital of Pakistan.”

Asserting that the Mohajirs are ‘victims of enforced disappearance’, he further said, “When Mohajirs started a political movement against these blatant injustices, a vicious military operation was launched against their representative political party in 1992. Since then, over 20,000 Mohajirs have been killed by Pakistani security forces and their sponsored groups in fake encounters and armed attacks. Thousands of young Mohajirs have become victims of enforced disappearance and many thousands are languishing in prisons, most of them without being ever produced in any court of law.”

Nusrat alleged that the Pakistani military forces were also involved in the brutal operation in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province which shares a border with Afghanistan and where the murderous gangs of the Taliban and the notorious Haqqani Network freely operate.

“Pakistani military establishment’s reckless policies and its patronage to extremist religious proxies have resulted in widespread destruction in the KPK province leaving hundreds of thousands of Pashtuns dead, injured and displaced,” he added.

Nusrat asserted that indigenous populations in the Gilgit-Baltistan region were also being subjected to state persecution. He claimed that the Pakistani military establishment’s decision to build the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is badly hurting the region’s indigenous populations who have been denied any say in this project.

He continued, “At the moment, many projects are underway in Gilgit-Baltistan to turn the indigenous populations into minority and vast tracts of lands have been handed over to Chinese and Punjab-based companies to house non-locals in the region.”

Throwing light on the religious persecution of minorities in Pakistan, the Voice of Karachi chairman elucidated, “Pakistan’s religious minorities are faring no better at the hands of an army that is obsessed with a jihadi ideology. Ahmadis, whose forefathers like those of Mohajirs had played a dominant role on Pakistan Movement are now constitutionally declared as non-Muslims in Pakistan. Their places of worship are routinely attacked by religious extremists.”

“Pakistan’s founding leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah was a Shiite, but Shia community in Pakistan is now a prime target for religious extremists. People of Hazara, whose majority is Shiite, is also a constant target of a brutal campaign of killing and intimidation. Christians, Sikhs, Ismailis, and Hindus, too, are suffering at the hands of those religious extremists who clearly enjoy Pakistani military establishment’s overt or covert support,” he added.

Nusrat further stated that there are countless reports which firmly establish how Pakistani military agencies are supporting the Taliban, Haqqani network and other extremist religious groups within and outside the country’s borders, particularly in the region bordering Afghanistan.

“All this shows Pakistani military elite’s absolute disregard for national and internal values, ethics, treaties, and covenants. This undemocratic practice must be stopped and the people of Pakistan, including its persecuted ethnic and religious minorities, be granted all those rights they fully deserve. Until this happens, all military and civilian aid and grants to Pakistan be suspended,” he asserted.

Nusrat went on to say that the persecuted groups have pinned their hopes on the US administration and expected Pompeo to forcefully raise the issue of their persecution in his bilateral meetings with Pakistani officials, particularly with the military hierarchy.

“On behalf of all persecuted ethnic and religious groups as well as all democracy-loving people in Pakistan extends full support to the current administration’s South Asia policy,” he further stated.

The Voice of Karachi and South Asia Minorities Alliance Foundation will be holding ‘Day on the Hill’ event at US Capitol Hill on September 5. The event is aimed at highlighting the issue of religious freedom and minority rights in Pakistan and to show solidarity with the people of Afghanistan and US troops.

BJP MLA Apologises for son’s Threat to Scindia

0

Damoh:

BJP MLA Apologises for son’s Threat to Scindia

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Uma Devi Khatik apologised after her son, Princedeep Khatik, threatened to shoot Congress leader and MP Jyotiraditya Scindia.

Furthermore, Uma Devi clarified that the BJP had nothing to do with her son’s remark, and personally escorted Princedeep to the police station.

“This is no way to behave. He (Princedeep) will have to go to jail. I myself brought him to the police station. My party has nothing to do with this,” she said.

Princedeep, in a Facebook post on Monday, had threatened to shoot Scindia if he entered Hatta town in Madhya Pradesh.

“Jyotiraditya Scindia, you have Jiwajirao’s blood running in your veins, who killed Jhansi ki Rani. If you step in Hatta then I will shoot you. Either you will die or I will,” the post read.

The remark against Scindia came ahead of his public rally in Hatta town of Damoh district on September 5.

Following the post, Scindia, while speaking to the media, said that the real face of the BJP had been exposed with this threat. He also claimed that the main objective of the BJP and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan was to demolish the Congress at any cost.

MBA Graduate From Jammu and Kashmir Joins Militancy, Family Awaits his Return

0

Doda:

MBA Graduate From Jammu and Kashmir Joins Militancy, Family Awaits his Return

The family of a youth from Jammu and Kashmir’s Doda district, who has joined a terror group, has appealed to him to return home and shun the path of violence.

The youth, identified as Haroon Abbas Wani, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) student from Katra University, was working in a private company. However, Wani joined the terror outfit Hizb-ul-Mujahideen on September 1.

Wani’s family was in shock when they saw pictures on social media of the youth holding AK-47 rifles and appealed to him to return home.

Speaking to the media, Wani’s uncle, Farooq Wani said, “We were in shock when we saw his pictures. Haroon was a brilliant student who completed his MBA from Katra University and was working with a private company as in Jammu. We are not this kind of people. We request him to return home.”

“He was never like that. What he has done is not right; the people who have kept him should send him. The real Jihad is to look after the parents in old age. He should look after his mother, she has been very ill,” said another relative.

Militancy has been prevalent in the valley since the late 1990s, with youth picking up arms in the name of fighting oppression by the Indian Army.

In July, 25-year-old Abid Hussain Bhat, who also belongs to Doda, reportedly joined militants ranks, two months prior to which a student of Class 10 belonging to Khanyar locality of the Kashmir Valley also joined militancy.

Theft at Hyderabad’s Nizam Museum, Search for Suspect Underway

0

Hyderabad:

Theft at Hyderabad’s Nizam Museum, Search for Suspect Underway

Artefacts from Hyderabad’s Nizam Museum were stolen by unidentified persons on Monday, after which police launched a search operation to nab the suspects.

Valuables such as a gold tiffin box, tea saucer, and a spoon were allegedly stolen from the museum, which was established nearly two decades ago.

“A theft case occurred in the limits of Mirchowk police station, it is suspected that few unknown persons have stolen a gold tiffin box, gold teacup saucer and gold spoon from Nizam museum,” said the Circle Inspector of Mirchowk Police Station.

A case has been booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code, and the investigation is underway.

This museum is a repository of souvenirs and mementos gifted to the last Nizam of Hyderabad state, Mir Osman Ali Khan Asaf Jah VII, on account of his silver jubilee celebrations in 1936.

Fuel Prices up for 10th Consecutive day

0

Mumbai:

Fuel Prices up for 10th Consecutive day

Citizens are yet to receive any respite from rising fuel prices, as the rates of petrol and diesel have risen for the tenth consecutive day.

In New Delhi, petrol prices were hiked by 16 paise to trade at Rs 79.31 per litre, while diesel is being sold 19 paise higher at Rs.71.34 per litre.

The price of petrol has crossed the Rs 86 mark in Mumbai to be sold at Rs 86.72 per litre, while diesel is being sold at Rs 75.74 per litre.

The rise in prices has burnt a hole in the pockets of locals in the two metropolitan cities, with commuters urging government’s intervention in the matter.

Speaking to media, Ashwaq Saeed, a commuter from Mumbai, said “If at all we have to travel outside Mumbai via car, the prices of the fuel is so high that it pinches our pocket. It is high time that the Centre must take some action in order to control the prices.”

Narrating his ordeal, another commuter, Aslam Sheikh, said that because of the surge in prices of petrol and diesel, the prices of the other products are also increasing in the market.

Haqqani Network Founder Dead

0

Washington D.C.:

Haqqani Network Founder Dead

The founder of the Haqqani network, Jalaluddin Haqqani, is dead, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid announced.

Haqqani, who had fought with Soviet troops, was reportedly ill for a long period of time. He was a member of Quetta Shura, a terrorist organisation comprising Afghan Taliban leaders, who are believed to be based in Balochistan, according to US media reports.

Mujahid further said that Haqqani was an instrumental figure in keeping the Taliban together after the death of former Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

Haqqani was closely tied to al Qaeda leaders and had played a key role in supporting the terror group in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Haqqani is the father of Taliban deputy emir and military commander Sirajuddin Haqqani.

Pakistan, Afghan Foreign Ministers Discuss Closure of Pakistan Consulate

0

Kabul:

Pakistan, Afghan Foreign Ministers Discuss Closure of Pakistan Consulate

Pakistan Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi and his Afghan counterpart, Salahuddin Rabbani had a telephonic conversation over the closure of the Pakistan consulate in Jalalabad city, the capital of Nangarhar province.

“The issue of closure of the Pakistan Consulate General in Jalalabad due to a security crisis was also discussed. Mr. Qureshi requested the Afghan Government for restoring the previous security arrangements existing till 28th August 2018, so that the Consulate General’s normal functioning could be resumed at the earliest,” a statement from Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs read, reported Khaama Press.

“Foreign Minister Rabbani reassured a positive outcome soon in this regard and mentioned his meeting with the Ambassador of Pakistan in Kabul yesterday. Till resolution of the issue, Pakistan in the meantime would continue issuing visas to patients or students residing in the jurisdiction of the Consulate’s as an emergency measure,” the statement added.

The Embassy of Pakistan in Kabul declared on Saturday that the consulate in Jalalabad has been closed due to alleged interference from the Governor of Nangarhar, Hayatullah Hayat.

Hayat, however, dismissed those allegations, saying that joint efforts with the Pakistani consulate had been launched in an effort to resolve concerns with the issuance of visas, primarily involving disorder and briberies.

Trump Blasts Sessions for Indictment of Republicans

0

Washington D. C.:

Trump Blasts Sessions for Indictment of Republicans

United States President Donald Trump on Monday rebuked Attorney General Jeff Sessions over the Justice Department’s investigations into two Republican Congressmen.

Taking to Twitter, Trump said, “Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department. Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job Jeff……”

“….The Democrats, none of whom voted for Jeff Sessions, must love him now. Same thing with Lyin’ James Comey. The Dems all hated him, wanted him out, thought he was disgusting – UNTIL I FIRED HIM! Immediately he became a wonderful man, a saint like figure in fact. Really sick!” Trump said in another tweet.

The Justice Department is currently investigating GOP (Republican) Congressmen Duncan Hunter of California and Chris Collins of New York, Fox News reported.

Hunter, along with his wife Margaret, was formally charged over allegations of illegally converting around $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses and filing fake records last month. Collins was in August charged over allegations of insider trading, with the alleged insider trading being traced back to June 2017 by prosecutors, after Trump assumed office.

Sessions responded to Trump’s remarks through a statement, saying, “While I am Attorney General, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.”

Trump’s comments have also garnered criticism from Republican Senator Ben Sasse from Nebraska, who said that the US “is not some banana republic,” The Hill reported.

“The United States is not some banana republic with a two-tiered system of justice – one for the majority party and one for the minority party. These two men have been charged with crimes because of evidence, not because of who the President was when the investigations began,” Sasse said in a statement.

“Instead of commenting on ongoing investigations and prosecutions, the job of the President of the United States is to defend the Constitution and protect the impartial administration of justice,” he added.

Trump’s attack on Sessions comes in continuation of his long-running objections with the former Alabama senator.

Last month, the US President tweeted that Sessions, “doesn’t understand what is happening underneath his command position.”

Niti Aayog VC’s Remark Against Raghuram Rajan Laughable, Says Congress

0

New Delhi:

Niti Aayog VC’s Remark Against Raghuram Rajan Laughable, Says Congress

The Congress has criticised NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar for blaming former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Raghuram Rajan for the slowdown in country’s economy.

Kumar, on Monday said that Rajan’s policies on non-performing assets (NPAs) led to the slowdown in the economy and not the government’s demonetisation drive.

Speaking to media, Congress MP Rajeev Gowda said, “Rajiv Kumar was also ahead in attacking Raghuram Rajan in his efforts in cleaning up the banking system. The NPA’s were being identified by Raghuram Rajan and it is important to identify them. BJP has done a horrible job in not acting early enough and strong enough. Trying to pass the buck and blame on Rajan is just an absolute mistake and it has no credibility or factual basis.”

Talking about the decline in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), he said, “We had a global financial crisis in 2008 after that every country went through a slowdown. The Congress and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) did a tremendous job in helping to revive India’s economy. BJP government came into power at a time when they were able to benefit from the growth that was picking up again. However, there was two body blows to economic growth namely demonetisation and the bad implementation of the GST. These two essentially took away our two percent of the GDP growth. Now we are slowly inching back to the growth rate that should have been a steady-regular growth rate through the last few years.”

Echoing similar views, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala brushed off NITI Aayog Vice Chairman’s remark and termed it “obnoxious and laughable”.

“This is called blame game and shifting of the goal post. When UPA demitted power, NPAs were only 2 lakh 83 thousand crore which was controllable but now after 4 years of BJP rule, the NPAs are touching 12 lakh crore. Modi Government has itself given this data through a reply in parliament on 31st July 2018… Demonetisation disaster has led to a drop of 1.5 percent in GDP causing a loss of two lakh twenty-five thousand crores,” Surjewala added.

He also launched an attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said, “Only a handful industrialist friends of Modi ji is prospering and every other business is shutting down. Currency is falling, the economy is failing, exports are down and Foreign direct investment (FDI) is at the lowest level.”

I Should be so Lucky, Says Trump on Possible Kerry Presidential run

0

Washington D. C.:

I Should be so Lucky, Says Trump on Possible Kerry Presidential run

United States President Donald Trump on Monday said he would be “so lucky” if former Secretary of State John Kerry would run for President in 2020.

Taking to his Twitter, Trump said, “I see that John Kerry, the father of the now terminated Iran deal, is thinking of running for President. I should only be so lucky – although the field that is currently assembling looks really good – FOR ME!”

Trump’s remarks come in the wake of Kerry’s interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” wherein the 2004 Democratic nominee for President didn’t eliminate a potential bid to run against Trump in 2020, saying that talking about it is a “distraction,” The Hill reported.

“Talking about 2020 right now is a total distraction and waste of time. What we need to do is focus on 2018. We need to win back the confidence of the country to move in a better direction and to do it in sensible ways. We are in a moment of crisis for our country. The world is in a moment of crisis,” said Kerry.

Kerry further stated that he would “continue to be an activist” in issues where he was involved as the Secretary of State such as the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate accords. “I’m going to continue to fight,” Kerry said.

He also said that US decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or the Iran nuclear deal “weakens our security, breaks America’s word [and] isolates us from our European allies.”

“Unfortunately, and I say this sadly, more often than not, he really just doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He makes things up. And he’s making that up, as he has other things,” Kerry was quoted as saying by Sputnik.

While rejecting Trump’s allegations for the JCPOA being weak and damaging for the US, Kerry said that “only the United States walked away” from the deal while France, China, Germany and the United Kingdom tried to preserve the deal.

Latvia Chooses ‘To Be Continued’ for 91st Oscars

0

Washington DC:

Latvia Chooses ‘To Be Continued’ for 91st Oscars

Latvia too is not lagging behind in the race for Oscars, as it officially chose the documentary film ‘To Be Continued’ to be submitted at the 91st Academy awards under the ‘foreign language film’ category.

The film that has been directed by Ivars Seleckis focuses on the lives of several schoolchildren in Latvia, reported the Hollywood Reporter. The film has been shot over a span of two years.

‘ To Be Continued’ is a documentary which follows seven children living in different parts of Latvia, and belonging to different strata of the society, in a bid to explore their skills, values and hopes instilled in them by the past legacy and the current reality.

Notably, ‘To Be Continued’ is Latvia’s 10th film to be officially chosen for the ‘foreign-language’ since its independence in 1991. But till date, no Latvian film has made it to the shortlist.

Earlier, Venezuela officially selected ‘The Family’ to be submitted under ‘foreign-language film’ category while Palestine chose its documentary film ‘Istiyad ashbah’ (Ghost Hunting) for the same.

Germany chose ‘Never Look Away’ while Turkey and Ukraine selected ‘The Wild Pear Tree’ and ‘Donbass’ respectively for the same category.

Protests in Kotli After man Electrocuted to Death

0

Kotli:

Protests in Kotli After man Electrocuted to Death

Protests have erupted in Kotli town of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) after a 35-year-old man, Shakeel Janbaaz died of electrocution.

The locals alleged that the incident occurred due to the negligence of local administration, who failed to repair the electric poll carrying high tension electrical wires.

Shakeel died after the electrical poll fell on him at a new refugee camp in Gulpur.

Demanding an inquiry into the incident, the residents and family members of Shakeel have blocked the main Kotli-Rawalpindi road and staged a protest with his body.

Family members of Shakeel are in deep shock as they have lost the bread earner.

Such incidents are common in Pakistan occupied Kashmir where the infrastructure is in shambles and the administration is careless.

General Miller Reaffirms Support to Afghanistan Forces

0

Kabul:

General Miller Reaffirms Support to Afghanistan Forces

General Scott Miller, the newly appointed Commander of the NATO-led armed forces coalition in Afghanistan – Resolute Support, has pledged to give all support to Afghanistan’s defence and security forces.

General Miller relayed his support for the country during a meeting with President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday, the Office of the President, ARG Palace confirmed in a statement, reported Khaama Press.

During the meeting, Ghani congratulated General Miller for his appointment as the commander of the US and allied forces in Afghanistan and thanked him for accepting the responsibility.

The priorities of the Afghan armed forces, the US’ strategies for South Asia were among some of the topics discussed by the two.

General Miller took over as the commander of the NATO-led Resolute Support, which is comprised of over 13,000 troops in Afghanistan, from Army Gen. John Nicholson on September 2.

‘Dahi Handi’ Organised for Visually-impaired People in Mumbai

0

Mumbai:

‘Dahi Handi’ Organised for Visually-impaired People in Mumbai

In a first of its kind initiative, a competitive ‘Dahi Handi’ festival was organised in Mumbai for the visually-challenged people on the auspicious occasion of ‘Janmashthami’.

Several teams showcased their never-say-die attitude as they danced, sang and participated in the festival despite being visually-challenged. Teams of boys and girls were also seen forming pyramids, which is a ritual in every ‘Janmashthami’ celebrations.

Expressing happiness on the occasion, Mahesh Mishra, a participant said, “The practice before participating in ‘Dahi Handi’ is a stress buster for us (visually-challenged people).”

“Participation by visually challenged people in large numbers will send out a message that we would not give up on leading our lives under any circumstance,” he added.

The competition was organised by an NGO, Nayan Foundation that has been training the visually challenged people for ‘Dahi Handi’ Festivals since 2014.

Djokovic Cruises Into US Open Quarters

0

New York:

Djokovic Cruises Into US Open Quarters

Former World No. 1 Novak Djokovic on Monday outclassed his Portuguese opponent Joao Sousa in straight sets to book his spot in the quarter-finals of the men’s singles event in the ongoing US Open.

The Serbian ace maintained his 100 per cent win record against the Portuguese, having emerged victorious in the four previous clashes with Sousa without conceding a single set, with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 scoreline.

Serving first, Sousa, who entered the round-of-16 for the first time in his career, started the match positively and won the first game having held Djokovic to love. However, Djokovic won the successive game 40-0 and got the first break in the next.

A double fault from Sousa, with Djokovic having three set points and the score at 5-3, ensured the first set went the Serbian’s way.

The second set saw an improved showing from Sousa, who claimed his first break point in the third game after a double fault from Djokovic. The Serbian made amends in the next game and with the match level at 4 games each, the current World No. 6 won consecutive games to wrap up the second set.

Djokovic made light work of the Portuguese World No. 68 in the third set and won three back-to-back games with the scores level at 3-3 to cruise into the quarter-finals. The two-time US Open champion will be looking to win his second grand slam of the year after lifting the 2018 Wimbledon title.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Kei Nishikori, Argentina’s Juan Martín del Potro, and John Isner of the United States booked their spots in the quarter-final round of the men’s singles event. Croatian Marin Cilic’s clash against Belgium’s David Goffin is underway.

World No. 2 and five-time US Open champion Roger Federer is set to face John Millman of Australia on Tuesday for the last quarter-final berth.

8000 kg of Shark Fins Seized From Mumbai, Gujarat

0

Mumbai:

8000 kg of Shark Fins Seized From Mumbai, Gujarat

The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has neutralized a smuggling network in Gujarat and Mumbai and seized around 8000 kg of shark fins meant for illicit export. Four persons, including the mastermind, have also been arrested.

Acting on an information, the DRI on September 1, seized 3000 kg of shark fins from a godown at Sewri, Mumbai and 5000 kg from a godown in Veraval, Gujarat.

The shark fins were intended to be illegally exported to China and Hong Kong on the pretext of exports of dried ray skins, dried marine products, fish maw to evade detection.

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) under the Ministry of Commerce has prohibited the export of shark fins of all species through a notification issued in February 2015.

Shark fins are used for preparing a delicacy called the ‘Shark fin soup’ which is a traditional soup or stewed dish found in Chinese cuisine and Vietnamese cuisine. It is commonly served at special occasions such as weddings and banquets and is considered as a luxury item in Chinese culture. One bowl of Shark fin soup costs over 100 dollars.

In August 2013, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has also approved a Policy on Shark fining that prohibited the removal of shark fins on board a vessel in the sea. The policy prescribes that any possession of shark fins that are not naturally attached to the body of the shark would amount to hunting of a Schedule I species.

In September 2014, India became a signatory of Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and listed five more shark species for conservation.

Insider Attack Kills US Service Member in Afghanistan

0

Washington D. C.:

Insider Attack Kills US Service Member in Afghanistan

An apparent “insider attack” in eastern Afghanistan on Monday killed a United States service member and injured another member.

A statement from the NATO-led armed forces coalition in Afghanistan – Resolute Support said that the deceased service member was the sixth US national to be killed in Afghanistan in 2018. The wounded service member is in stable condition. The statement did not confirm the identity of the deceased.

“The sacrifice of our service member, who volunteered for a mission to Afghanistan to protect his country, is a tragic loss for all who knew and all who will now never know him. Our duty now is to honor him, care for his family and continue our mission,” read the statement of the commander of the Resolute Support, Army General Scott Miller.

Miller took over as the commander of the US and allied forces in Afghanistan from Army Gen. John Nicholson on Sunday.

In July, an insider attack in southern Afghanistan led to the death of Army Cpl. Joseph Maciel of South Gate, California and wounded two more US service members. A Romanian NATO soldier was killed in another insider attack in August 2017.

Petrol Will Soon Touch Rs 100, Says Andhra CM

0

Amravati:

Petrol Will Soon Touch Rs 100, Says Andhra CM

Criticising the Narendra Modi-led government for the continuous rise in fuel prices, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu opined that soon, petrol would be sold at Rs. 100 per litre. Addressing a press conference on Monday, the Chief Minister said that in addition to petrol prices, the rupee value would also touch Rs.100 against one US dollar.

In the wake of the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) report on demonetisation, Naidu said the Centre was unable to “properly manage demonetisation.”

“What have we achieved from demonetisation? We are seeing the condition of banks today. Big notes should be abolished. What is the need for having Rs 2000 note? The Modi government could not properly manage demonetisation. I have no problem if digital currency comes fully into existence, but there needs to be proper balancing between digital and physical currency,” he said.

Furthermore, Naidu said cash shortage was still prevalent in many parts of the country, adding that the recent growth in India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was a result of the “basic strength” of people, and “not due to NDA’s achievements.”

“(Prime Minister) Modi is not disciplined, it is inability. Even today, cash shortage is prevailing in ATMs. Nation’s growth rate came down after NDA came into power. If the Centre is disciplined, why is corruption taking place? Why are banks getting insolvent? Modi is not eligible to speak about sincerity, truthfulness, and discipline,” he noted.

With regards to schemes and measures implemented during his tenure as Chief Minister, Naidu said that efforts were channelised towards increasing the earthen water table.

“Our efforts are tuning fruitful. This year almost 2000 TMC of Godavari water flew into the sea. Projects on Krishna river – Srirsailam and Nagarjuna Sagar – are fully filled up. 12 projects are ready for inauguration in September. We will inaugurate three projects in October and one in November. As of now, we have spent Rs 58,024 crore for irrigation projects, mostly in Rayalaseema and North Coastal regions,” he added.

In Agra, Hindus, Muslims Come Together for Janmashtami Celebration

0

Agra:

In Agra, Hindus, Muslims Come Together for Janmashtami Celebration

Setting an example of communal harmony, Hindus, and Muslims of Agra’s Kheriya Mod locality come together to celebrate the festival of Janmashtami. This tradition of jointly celebrating the festival has been going on in this locality for about 15 years.

Md. Shadil Quereshi, a local resident told media, “We start preparations several months in advance and all Hindu-Muslims work very hard for it. From decoration to the set-up we all work together on all aspects. We believe that there is no religion or caste in celebrating the festivals. We have been doing this for around 15 years and we want our children to continue the same. We want that Hindu-Muslim live affectionately all across the country in this same way.”

Harishankar Shukla, president of the regional market committee that organises the festival in the locality, said that they want to spread a message of love and brotherhood through this effort.

“Our basic thought is that everyone in society must live with love and brotherhood. Throughout the year we organize different festivals which are celebrated together. If everyone in society lives cordially with love and affection than only nation will progress. We have been celebrating Janmashtami in this way for the last 15 years. Everyone works together for this occasion,” he told media.

In accordance with the theme of Hindu-Muslim unity, the banners put up for the occasion of ‘Janmashtami’ portray Lord Krishna on one side and the Islamic symbol of crescent and star on the other.

Unique Process to Revolutionize Solar Power Usage Discovered

0

Washington D.C.:

Unique Process to Revolutionize Solar Power Usage Discovered

With researchers successfully splitting the water into hydrogen and oxygen by altering the photosynthesis machinery in plants, the quest of harnessing solar power in different ways has got a renewed hope.

The latest study by academics of University of Cambridge led by St John ‘s College put semi-artificial photosynthesis to use to formulate a new strategy of producing and storing solar energy. The academics used a blend of modern technologies and biological components to convert water into hydrogen and oxygen from natural sunlight. The methodology also resulted in more absorption of sunlight in comparison to the natural process of photosynthesis.

This unique platform to achieve unassisted solar-driven water-splitting is developed at the Reisner Laboratory in Cambridge and it is expected that the key findings of this research may now revolutionise the systems used for renewable energy.

The issue of scaling process of renewable energy creation through artificial photosynthesis for industrial usage was marred by the fact that catalysts used in the process are often expensive and toxic. However, the Cambridge research instead used the enzymes to create the desired result thus overcoming the limitation.

Researcher Katarzyna Soko along with her team managed to reactivate a process in the algae that has been dormant for millennia. Researchers are now hopeful that innovative model systems for solar energy conversion can be developed through the findings.

Lead researcher Soko asserted that the findings of this research can lead to the emergence of more robust solar technology.

“The approach could be used to couple other reactions together to see what can be done, learn from these reactions and then build synthetic, more robust pieces of solar energy technology,” she said.

This is first of its kind model to use hydrogenase and photosystem II for creating semi-artificial photosynthesis supported entirely by solar power.

The research has been published in Nature Energy journal.

Google Celebrates Oskar Schlemmer’s 130th Birthday

0

Washington DC:

Google Celebrates Oskar Schlemmer’s 130th Birthday

Google on Tuesday paid tribute to German, sculptor, painter, designer, and choreographer Oskar Schlemmer on his 130th birth anniversary.

The search giant created a doodle, which shows a bulbous mechanical figure standing in a ballet pose wearing metallic masks.

Schlemmer is well-known for his work “Triadisches Ballett” or Triadic Ballet where the performers were transformed into geometrical figurines.

He was also famous for his fascination for the divine and architectural aspect of the human body. He captured each and every possible movement into his complex art form and labeled every performance as “artistic metaphysical mathematics”, which according to him was the purest form of physical aesthetics.

Schlemmer was the youngest of six children who attended art school before becoming a director of stage research and production.

The polymath died on April 13, 1943, when Germany was under Hitler’s rule.

Opposition Parties’ Youth Wings Unite Against BJP Ahead of 2019 Polls

0

New Delhi:

Opposition Parties’ Youth Wings Unite Against BJP Ahead of 2019 Polls

Youth wings of several Opposition parties are trying to formulate a grand alliance ‘Mahagathbandhan’ ahead of 2019 polls to corner the Central Government on the issues related to the youth of the country.

Shedding light on the proposition, Indian Youth Congress Amrish Ranjan Pandey told media, “Youth Wings of several opposition parties are coming together for the future of India. It is an election year and young India has the major portion in the votes. We will expose the government by reaching out to young India”.

In order to reach out to young people, leaders from the youth wing of Samajwadi Party, Nationalist Congress Party, Rashtiya Janta Dal, Rashtriya Lokdal, Indian Union Muslim League, National Conference, and, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam will address the media in Delhi on Tuesday.

Democratic Youth Wing of India and All India Youth Federation will represent left party’s Youth wing in the press conference.

However, Aam Aadmi Party and Trinamool Congress’ youth wings, are not part of the strategy.

10 ISIS-K Terrorists Killed in Kunar Province in Afghanistan

0

Kunar:

10 ISIS-K Terrorists Killed in Kunar Province in Afghanistan

At least ten terrorists affiliated to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Khurasan (ISIS-K) were killed in joint operations conducted by Afghanistan Police and military forces in the eastern Kunar province.

Afghanistan Military’s 201st Silab Corps issued a statement confirming that the militants were killed during airstrikes and ground operations conducted in Suki district, reported Khaama Press.

The statement added that the operations were jointly conducted by the military, police, intelligence and public order police forces with the support of the Air Force as part of the Silab-2 (8) operations in an attempt to crack down on terror outfits and clear the way for safe elections in the country.

The 201st Silab Corps further stated that several villages had been cleared of terrorists’ presence and that the local residents and security forces had not suffered any casualties.

The terrorist groups, including ISIS supporters, have not responded to the report so far.

12 die of Leptospirosis in Kerala

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Kochi:

12 die of Leptospirosis in Kerala

Twelve people have died of leptospirosis disease in Kerala between August 1 and September 3, while 372 confirmed leptospirosis cases have been reported from the flood-hit state since August 1.

In lieu of the outbreak, Kerala Health Minister K. K. Shailaja Teacher called a review meeting at Kozhikode, the district from where the most number of leptospirosis cases have been reported.

After the review meeting, the health minister announced three weeks of high alert and said, “Kerala would be on high alert for next three weeks but there is nothing to panic. All hospitals are equipped with enough stocks of medicine. Even though there were wide advisories after the flood, people were reluctant to consume precautionary tablets. As more cases have been reported from Kozhikode district, an isolated war-room will be set up in Kozhikode medical college.”

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects both humans and animals. It infects human when they come in direct contact with the urine of infected animals or with a urine-contaminated environment. Some of the early symptoms of the disease include high fever, muscle pain, headache, redness of the eye, vomiting, diarrhoea among others.

Kerala was recently hit by the worst floods in nearly a century, which claimed lives of more than 400 people and caused damage to the tune of nearly Rs. 20,000 crores.

Hyderabad Woman Stranded in Oman, kin Demand EAM’s Help

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Hyderabad:

Hyderabad Woman Stranded in Oman, kin Demand EAM’s Help

Mother of a woman, who was allegedly trafficked to Oman on the pretext of a job, has sought External Affairs Minister (EAM) Sushma Swaraj’s help to rescue her daughter.

The woman from Hyderabad is stranded in Oman and is being ill-treated by her employers. Last month, the family members of the woman had filed a First Information Report (FIR) in this regard at Amberpet police station of Hyderabad city.

In his complaint, victim’s husband Shaik Jhangeer, said that he and his wife Parveen Begum met with a travel agent named Javeed for a job in Oman. Jhangeer alleged that Parveen, who left for Oman on February 21 to start her job, is being made to work in many houses as a maid and is also being beaten by her employer. He also claimed that his wife is not receiving any payment in lieu of her services.

Speaking to media, Noorjahan Begum, mother of the victim, said, “We were told by the agent that my daughter will be working in a hospital. After reaching there she informed us that she is being made to work in a home as a maid. The situation of my daughter was fine for the first three months, but after that, her employers started torturing her and she is now forced to work in multiple houses. She is also not given food and is requesting us for immediate rescue.”

Noorjahan also said that her daughter’s health has become worse and no medical care is being provided to her in the foreign land.

The family of the victim also asserted that the agent who helped the victim in getting the job is absconding.

1 Dead, 36 ‘Govindas’ Injured Dahi Handi Celebrations in Mumbai

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Mumbai:

1 Dead, 36 ‘Govindas’ Injured Dahi Handi Celebrations in Mumbai

At least one ‘govinda’ lost his life during Janmashtami Dahi-Handi celebrations here on Monday. He died in the Sion Hospital. Dahi Handi is celebrated by forming human pyramids on the eve of Janmashtami which is celebrated with fervour in the state.

The deceased was at the first level of the pyramid when he suddenly collapsed. According to the police, he died due to an epileptic fit.

Meanwhile, at least 36 ‘govindas’ were injured till 2 pm while participating in Dahi-Handi celebrations across Mumbai. The Dahi-Handi ritual is part of the Janmashtami festival in the state in which youngsters (called Govindas), dressed in colourful costumes, make a human pyramid to reach the earthen pot having buttermilk, suspended in mid-air, and break it.

Meanwhile, the Mumbai Police had tweeted to alert people and advised the govindas to take precautionary measures by wearing safety gears to avoid any injuries. “Break Dahi Handi. Not Your Head. Let your being on top of the world feeling not get shattered by unnecessary carelessness! #AwareGovindaAalaRe #WearSafetyGear,” the Mumbai police tweeted.

The Disaster Management Cell of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) was alerted to deal with any untoward incident, while hospitals were asked to keep their medical staff and facilities on standby.

In 2017, the Supreme Court and the Bombay High Court had restricted the participation of children below 14 years in the Dahi Handi celebration.

Last year, two persons lost their lives while 197 got injured at different places in the event related incidents.

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