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Navin Prabhakar No. 1 Corporate Comedian of India

Charlie Chaplin once said that life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot: this quote pretty much sums up what stand-up comedians do to tickle your senses - they take a serious subject, something you can relate to, and show you how funny life actually is. He came, he saw after the exhilarating and breath-taking performance of a man, who is versatile, in every sense of the word, who is a phenomenon whenever he performs and who now after so many years of fabulous performances has become The Darling of the Masses Paichan Kon? Yes, he is our very own Navin Prabhakar.  Navin who is known for his distinct speaking style and has been doing stand-up comedy for many years. He is a corporate impostor – a comic hoaxer in a business suit. His comedy is usually in the form of fake keynote speeches at business events, conferences and meetings. He is a corporate entertainer infamous as the perpetrator of Hoaxes and Jokeses. As a full-time professional comedian since 1990, and in demand now more than ever, you’ll be in safe hands with Navin Prabhakar.

From the moment of his debut on The Great Indian Laughter Challenge Navin has never looked back. He has gone from strength to strength, achieved success after success in a myriad of fields, be it stand-up comedy, singing, acting, hosting, judging, anchoring, live-performances, corporate and charity shows. And all this he does with great gusto and a flair that comes only with inner belief and high self-confidence. Now, that's what you call a man, a performer for all seasons. Just take a sneak peek at his versatile talent.

Navin is a one man ensemble cast who can churn out scores of performances in different capacities and make you feel entertained like never before because he is a Man who knows how to a make a difference and bring smile to your face.

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From explaining the importance of self-belief, how to transform one’s beliefs, to how to control the emotions & negative thinking, the most eminent speaker, Success Guru AK Mishra will cater the audience with all the amazing facts to ultimately let every individual unleash the hidden power of the mind and start creating the life one desires to live.

AK Mishra with his Life Transforming Seminar will set free your unlimited and unique power. From preaching success tips to conversation to one-on-one connection, to music, laughter and breathtaking moments,the Take Charge of Life Programme is going to be an unforgettable session. AK Mishra’sTake Charge of Life programme will help the audience stir up that innate knowing and self-trust already instilled deep in their soul.

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The seminar is open for all with limited seats capacity with ticket value of Rs. 3,000Rs.per person now instead of 15000Rs.Passes are available at bookmyshow.


Government has handed over the exercise of conducting a threat assessment and security analysis of all the 16 Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Delhi's premier medical institute AIIMS to central security force CISF

NEW DELHI: Government has handed over the exercise of conducting a threat assessment and security analysis of all the 16 Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Delhi's premier medical institute AIIMS to central security force CISF.

The decision has been taken by the Union home ministry keeping in mind the vulnerability of these vital institutions and after witnessing the increasing reliance of important service sectors of the country on CISF consultancy to secure their businesses and large workforce against potential security threats like terror attacks and similar breaches, official sources said.

All the 16 IITs located in Mumbai, Delhi, Kanpur, Chennai, Kharagpur, Guwahati, Indore, Roorkee, Varanasi, Hyderabad, Jodhpur, Patna, Bhubaneswar, Ropar, Gandhinagar and Mandi and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) campus in Delhi have been brought under the "institutional and uniform" security processes as outlined by the central force which has a centre of excellence in this regard.

Experts and officers of the force will travel to all these locations in the coming days to chalk out a fool-proof security apparatus for these facilities which will be guarded by their own staff.

Latest records show India Inc. has been increasingly investing in professional anti-terror consultancy provided by CISF, with such demands from the business sector witnessing a six-time since the last year.

The Central Industrial Security Force, the elite force mandated to guard vital installations like airports, nuclear and aerospace facilities across the country, has registered a quantum jump as it earned over Rs 2.64 crore in 2014 and the first four months of this year.

This is more than seven-times jump in terms of money earned by CISF for rendering these services as compared to 2013.

The force has recently prepared a new blueprint to provide an aggressive and smart security-related knowledge to these institutions with CISF Director General Arvind Ranjan personally monitoring each of these cases.

Ranjan confirmed to media  that the force is getting more and more requests in this regard as it is the best pool of knowledge and resource in this domain since consultancy services were launched in 2001.

source: agency

Social media is a chronicle of life, and sometimes death

KATHMANDU: Social media is a chronicle of life, and sometimes death. So it should be no surprise that a site of great human and cultural loss in Nepal's devastating earthquake is now barraged with the clicking of smartphones.

Near Kathmandu's famed Dharahara Tower, a historic nine-story structure reduced to an enormous pile of red brick dust, dozens of people clambered around the debris clicking selfies and photos of their friends posing in front of the wreckage. The tower built by Nepal's royal rulers in the 1800s was one of the country's most treasured monuments, and was photographed far more than other buildings destroyed by Saturday's quake.

It is unclear how many people were killed in the tower, but it was believed to have been filled with tourists.

Pawan Thapa, a 21-year-old business student who arrived from the suburbs to try to help with the recovery effort, was dismayed by the scene. Some of those taking pictures were smiling for the camera.

"This is earthquake tourism. This is not right," he said. "They are more interested in clicking their selfies than understanding that it is a tragedy."

Most of those taking pictures, however, did not appear to be tourists but locals capturing the devastation of their community, and the loss of a landmark that had helped define it.

courtesy - AP

At least 38 Indian cities lie in high-risk seismic zones and nearly 60 percent of the subcontinental landmass is vulnerable to earthquakes

NEW DELHI: At least 38 Indian cities lie in high-risk seismic zones and nearly 60 percent of the subcontinental landmass is vulnerable to earthquakes. Barring rare exceptions, such as the Delhi Metro, India's hastily-built cities are open to great damage from earthquakes.

The earthquake that devastated Nepal on saturday and jolted northern India, damaging buildings as far apart as Agra and Siliguri, was expected by geologists, who have warned of more Himalayan earthquakes caused by the growing pressures of the sub-continent grinding into the Asian mainland.

Very few buildings in India meet the standards prescribed in "Indian Standards Criteria for Earthquake Resistant Design" - first published by the Bureau of Indian Standards in 1962, the latest revision being in 2005. These are not enforced, so almost no one knows such earthquake-resistant standards and guidelines for home-owners exist.

The Delhi Metro is one of the few Indian structures built to withstand a quake. Many of the houses built in Bhuj after the Gujarat quake of 2001 are now earthquake-resistant.

But nothing has changed since 1993, when a relatively milder earthquake of magnitude 6.4 in Maharashtra's Latur district killed nearly 10,000 people in what was considered a non-seismic zone. Most died because shoddily constructed houses collapsed at the first major shake, as they did in Gujarat eight years later.

The government of India today lists 38 cities in moderate to high-risk seismic zones. "Typically, the majority of the constructions in these cities are not earthquake-resistant," notes a 2006 report written by the United Nations for the ministry of home affairs. "Therefore in the event of an earthquake, one of these cities would become a major disaster."

The earth's landmasses ride like gigantic rafts on "plates", or sections of the earth's outermost layer, the crust. These plates frequently slip and slide, causing earthquakes. We don't feel the small ones. The big ones, literally, shake us up.

The Himalayas and north India are on particularly shaky ground. Sometime in the geological past, before humans, India broke off from an ancient supercontinent called Gondwana, a name still used for what is now Chhattisgarh.

The Indian plate skewed north, displaced an ancient sea, travelled more than 2,000 km - the fastest a plate has ever moved - and slammed into the Eurasian plate, creating the Himalayas.

India still grinds northeast into Asia at roughly 5 cm every year. The last significant - but not geologically significant - quake in this area was the 2005 temblor in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, which sits directly atop the clashing Indian and Eurasian plates. Around 80,000 people died.

About 60 percent of India is vulnerable to earthquakes caused by the great, northward grind of the Indian subcontinental landmass.

The only serious earthquake that modern India remembers is the temblor that killed about 20,000 in Gujarat in 2001. The 2004 tsunami, which resulted from the third-most severe quake ever recorded, 9.3 on the Richter scale, occurred when the Indian plate slid with greater violence than it normally does under the neighbouring Burma plate, upon which rest the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

It caused a 100-km-long rupture in the crust, thrusting the seafloor upwards and pushing up masses of water, setting off the tsunami that killed 230,000 people in 14 countries.

No Indian metropolis has witnessed a serious earthquake, although Delhi lies in high-risk seismic zone 4. Srinagar and Guwahati are in the highest-risk zone 5, and Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata lie in zone 3. History serves a warning that a big one may come at any time. Those lessons come from Bihar in 1934 and Assam in 1950.
Although its epicentre was 10 km south of Mount Everest, the Bihar earthquake of 1934 was felt from Mumbai to Lhasa, flattening almost all major buildings in many Bihar districts and damaging many in Calcutta, now Kolkata. At 8.4 on the Richter scale, it was pretty severe, killing more than 8,100 (Mahatma Gandhi said it was punishment for the sin of untouchability).

The 1950 Assam earthquake may have geologically set the stage for a really big one in the Himalayas, according to geologists. Now that 65 years have passed, it may be time for a big one.

source: agency

The internal feud within the BCCI took an ugly turn with board secretary Anurag Thakur launching a stinging attack on ICC chairman N Srinivasan

NEW DELHI: The internal feud within the BCCI took an ugly turn on Monday with board secretary Anurag Thakur launching a stinging attack on ICC chairman N Srinivasan, saying that he should actually share information on bookies with his own family members "whose involvement in betting has been proved".

A day after ICC issued an advisory to Thakur to stay away from suspected bookies, the BCCI secretary hit back at Srinivasan through an open letter in which he questioned the timing of the "counter offensive" initiated at the behest of the ICC chairman.

Reports had said that BCCI was sent a letter by the ICC about Thakur being seen with an alleged bookie Karan Gilhotra in Chandigarh and the BJP MP's office on Monday issued a media release.

"The BCCI has received intimation from the ICC ostensibly under your direction that I should keep away from one Mr. Karan Gilhotra who is a 'suspected bookie'. The intimation further states that the information is further unverified" Thakur said in a scathing letter to Srinivasan.

"I have earlier been Joint Secretary of the BCCI under your Presidentship and I am now Secretary BCCI. I only wish that you had shared the list of 'unverified suspected bookies' with me and other colleagues so that we could identify such persons and keep away from them. I have known this person, who has been active in political and cricketing activities in Punjab and adjacent states. I had no knowledge or any clue about his 'activities as a suspected bookie', he said.
I have written a letter to Mr N Srinivasan, Chairman @ICC regarding the ICC advisory based on 'unverified information'. @BCCI

— Anurag Thakur (@ianuragthakur) April 27, 2015
Mr N Srinivasan has not reconciled with my election as Secretary @BCCI.

— Anurag Thakur (@ianuragthakur) April 27, 2015
I request Mr N Srinivasan to share with me or other colleagues in @BCCI the list of suspected bookies in India, so that we may keep away.

— Anurag Thakur (@ianuragthakur) April 27, 2015
Mr N Srinivasan may also share this information with his family members, whose involvement in betting has been proved. (@BCCI)

— Anurag Thakur (@ianuragthakur) April 27, 2015

Thakur said, "It is curious that intimation about having known this 'suspected bookie' was brought to the ICC notice by your friend Mr. Neeraj Gunde. Mr. Neeraj Gunde incidentally is circulating to the media in Delhi the details of documents against your critics in the BCCI. He operates on your behalf".

He alleged that a procured complaint and an ICC advisory based on unverified information was issued on Srinivasan's behest on the eve of the BCCI Working Committee meeting. It was intended to be a counter offensive since Srinivasan had not reconciled with my election as Secretary BCCI.

"I would request atleast now share with me or other colleagues in BCCI the list of suspected bookies in India so that we may keep away from them. You may also share this information with your family members whose involvement in betting has been proved," he said.

"Since the ICC advisory to me had been made in public I would be making this letter to you public," Thakur wrote in the letter addressed to Srinivasan on his BCCI letter-head.

It is understood that the matter was brought up in the BCCI Working Committee meeting in Kolkata on Sunday but president Jagmohan Dalmiya paid no heed to the ICC letter.

Even though the ICC letter came under the name of CEO Dave Richardson, it was seen as the handiwork of Srinivasan.

It was speculated that Dalmiya and company will not react on this letter but Thakur's remarks have stirred up a hornet's nest.

The former BCCI supremo is also under-fire with the issue involving the contentious valuation of the India Cements-owned CSK franchise.

While there were arguments from both sides during the BCCI working committee meeting, a press release later in the day said that the board would seek 'further legal opinion on the demerger and transfer of shares of CSK for further action'.

source: agency


Nepal's devastating earthquake was the disaster experts knew was coming

Nepal's devastating earthquake was the disaster experts knew was coming.

Just a week ago, about 50 earthquake and social scientists from around the world came to Kathmandu, Nepal, to figure out how to get this poor, congested, overdeveloped, shoddily built area to prepare better for the big one, a repeat of the 1934 temblor that leveled this city. They knew they were racing the clock, but they didn't know when what they feared would strike.

''It was sort of a nightmare waiting to happen,'' said seismologist James Jackson, head of the earth sciences department at the University of Cambridge in England. ''Physically and geologically what happened is exactly what we thought would happen.''

But he didn't expect the massive quake that struck Saturday to happen so soon. The magnitude 7.8 earthquake killed at least 1,180 people and caused widespread destruction.

''I was walking through that very area where that earthquake was and I thought at the very time that the area was heading for trouble,'' said Jackson, lead scientist for Earthquakes Without Frontiers, a group that tries to make Asia more able to bounce back from these disasters and was having the meeting.

A Kathmandu earthquake has long been feared, not just because of the natural seismic fault, but because of the local, more human conditions that make it worse.

The same size shaking can have bigger effects on different parts of the globe because of building construction and population and that's something the US Geological Survey calculates ahead of time. So the same level of severe shaking would cause 10 to 30 people to die per million residents in California, but 1,000 maybe more in Nepal, and up to 10,000 in parts of Pakistan, India, Iran and China, said USGS seismologist David Wald.

While the trigger of the disaster is natural — an earthquake —''the consequences are very much man-made,'' Jackson said. Except for landslides, which in this case are a serious problem, ''it's buildings that kill people not earthquakes,'' Jackson said. If you lived in a flat desert with no water, an earthquake wouldn't harm you, but then few people want to live there.

''The real problem in Asia is how people have concentrated in dangerous places,'' Jackson said.

Kathmandu was warned, first by the Earth itself: this is the fifth significant quake there in the last 205 years, including the massive 1934 one.

''They knew they had a problem but it was so large they didn't where to start, how to start,'' said Hari Ghi, southeast Asia regional coordinator for Geohazards International, a group that works on worldwide quake risks. Ghi, Jackson and Wald said Nepal was making progress on reducing its vulnerability to earthquakes, but not quickly or big enough.

Ghi's group on April 12 updated a late 1990s report summarizing the Kathmandu Valley risks.

''With an annual population growth rate of 6.5 percent and one of the highest urban densities in the world, the 1.5 million people living in the Kathmandu Valley were clearly facing a serious and growing earthquake risk,'' the report said, laying out ''the problem'' the valley faces. ''It was also clear that the next large earthquake to strike near the Valley would cause significantly greater loss of life, structural damage, and economic hardship than past earthquakes had inflicted.''
And for years there were no building codes and rampant development so homes and other structures could be built without any regards to earthquakes, the report said. There are now building codes, but that doesn't help the older structures, and the codes aren't overly strong, Ghi said.

It's actually even made worse because of local inheritance laws that require property be split equally among all sons, Jackson said. So that means buildings are split vertically among brothers making very thin rickety homes that need more space so people add insecure living space on additional floors, he said.

''The construction is appalling in Kathmandu,'' Jackson said.

Poverty and pollution make the problem worse, Jackson said. That's because people don't spend time worrying about some future earthquake because they have more pressing problems.

''If you live in the Kathmandu Valley you have other priorities, daily threats and daily nasty things happen to you in terms of air quality, water quality, pollution, traffic and just poverty,'' Jackson said. ''But it doesn't mean that the earthquakes go away.''

courtesy - AP

The Indian Army has named the aid to Nepal 'Operation Maitri' or friendship

NEW DELHI: The Indian Army has named the aid to Nepal 'Operation Maitri' or friendship, a day after it started extending help to the neighbouring country that was hit by a massive earthquake just before noon on Saturday, leaving a trail of death and destruction.

In addition to the specialist teams of its National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), India has already moved large amounts of relief material to the Himalayan kingdom, besides its Air Force moving essential supplies to Nepal and flying back over 500 of its stranded citizens from its capital Kathmandu since late Saturday.

"India is moving in massive amount of rescue and relief material, equipment and specialists the second day (Sunday)," said Sitanshu Kar, the spokesperson for the defence ministry.

"Ten flights are planned for Kathmandu today (Sunday). These would be airlifting army's forward hospitals, engineering task forces, water, food, National Disaster Response Force teams, medical personnel and equipment, blankets and tents."

source: agency

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India will make all out efforts to help the people of quake-hit Nepal

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said India will make all out efforts to help the people of quake-hit Nepal and wipe their tears in this hour of crisis, giving priority to saving lives of those who might be buried under the debris.

He said a number of rescue teams along with sniffer dogs have been sent to Nepal to save as many lives as they can after the earthquake caused widespread damage in that country on Saturday.

"I can feel what Nepal and its people must be going through since I have seen closely the devastation caused by earthquake in Kutch (Gujarat) on January 26, 2001," Modi said in his monthly 'Mann Ki Baat' radio programme on AIR.

"My dear brothers and sisters of Nepal, India is with you in this hour of grief. ... For 125 crore Indians, Nepal is their own country and India will make all efforts to wipe the tears of every person in Nepal, hold their hands and stand with them," he said in the programme, much of which he devoted to the recent calamities and other human tragedies like storm in Bihar and efforts to rescue Indians from war-torn Yemen.

Observing that help has already started and teams of experts have been sent, he said the priority is to rescue those people who might be still alive under the debris and all efforts will be made to save them. "Our focus will be to rescue as many people alive as possible."

He said the relief and rehabilitation work after the rescue operations will go on for a long time.

Sharing his pain over a series of natural calamities hitting the region in the recent past including Saturday's quake in Nepal, Modi said he was anguished and did not feel like going ahead with his radio address on Sunday.

"When I spoke to you last month, hailstorms and unseasonal rains had occured, devastating the farmers. A few days ago, a storm hit Bihar killing many people and causing a lot of damage. And now on Saturday, this devastating earthquake has shaken the whole world.

"It seems a series of natural disasters has begun. The quake has also killed many people in different states of India. Property has also been damaged. But the destruction and damage in Nepal is massive," he said.

source: agency

An Indian army mountaineering team found 18 bodies on Mount Everest after a massive earthquake in Nepal

KATHMANDU: An Indian army mountaineering team found 18 bodies on Mount Everest on Saturday, an Army spokesman said, after a massive earthquake in Nepal unleashed an avalanche on the world's tallest mountain at the start of the main climbing season.

Nepal's tourism ministry could only confirm 10 deaths, but spokesman Gyanendra Shrestha said the death toll could rise, and that the avalanche had buried part of the base camp. He said two tents at the camp had been filled with the injured.

One of those killed was Dan Fredinburg, a Google engineer based in California. He died as a result of head injuries when the avalanche hit, according to a statement from the mountaineering company that had taken him to base camp.

"We pray too for all those who have lost their lives in one of the greatest tragedies ever to hit this Himalayan nation," Jagged Globe said.

Tourism ministry officials estimated that at least 1,000 climbers, including about 400 foreigners, had been at base camp or on Everest when the earthquake struck.

April is one of the most popular times to scale the 8,850-metre (29,035 foot) peak before rain and clouds cloak it at the end of May. Almost exactly a year ago, an avalanche killed 16 Nepali guides in what was the single deadliest day on the mountain.

Saturday's 7.9-magnitude quake was the strongest to hit Nepal for 81 years. It also shook neighbouring India, China and Bangladesh.

 This photo shows nightfall after an avalanche triggered by a massive earthquake swept across Everest Base Camp, Nepal on Saturday, April 25, 2015. (Photo by Azim Afif via AP)

Romanian climber Alex Gavan made a desperate appeal for a helicopter to fly in and evacuate climbers: "Many dead. Much more badly injured. More to die if not heli asap."

Carsten Lillelund Pedersen, a Danish climber, said about 40 people were being treated in a makeshift hospital at a tent at base camp. He said many of those injured had back injuries from being hit by rocks and ice when running from the avalanche.

The poor visibility after the first avalanche meant it was "difficult to see the following avalanches, and there are so many - maybe one every 5 min. - that I have stopped counting", Pedersen said on Facebook.

Mohan Krishna Sapkota, joint secretary in the Nepalese tourism ministry, said the government was struggling to assess the damage on Everest because of poor phone coverage.

"The trekkers are scattered all around the base camp and some had even trekked further up," Sapkota said. "It is almost impossible to get in touch with anyone."

Choti Sherpa, who works at the Everest Summiteers Association, said she had been unable to call her family and colleagues on the mountain. "Everyone is trying to contact each other, but we can't," she said. "We are all very worried."

Last year's tragedy prompted the Sherpa guides to complain that their safety was being neglected, but there were no immediate recriminations on Saturday.

"This will definitely have some impact on climbing activity, but this is a natural disaster. No one can do anything," said Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association.

At the Annapurna mountain range, where scores were killed in the nation's worst trekking accident last year, many hikers were stranded after the earthquake, according to messages on social media, but no fatalities had been reported.

Stan Adhikari, who runs the Mountain House lodge in Pokhara near the mountain range, said the city had escaped the worst of the damage. "There hasn't been much damage," Adhikari said.

He said there were about two dozen guests at his lodge, including people from Europe, the United States and China. The road from Pokhara to Kathmandu was not passable but he hoped it would open on Sunday.

courtesy- reuters

A Google executive was among the hundreds who died in a massive earthquake that struck Nepal

NEW YORK: Dan Fredinburg, a Google executive who described himself as an adventurer, was among the hundreds who died in a massive earthquake that struck Nepal on Saturday.

Google confirmed his death. Lawrence You, the company's director of privacy, posted online that Fredinburg was in Nepal with three other Google employees climbing Mount Everest. The other three, he added, are safe.

Google would not give further details. According to the technology blog Re/Code, Fredinburg was an experienced climber who co-founded, in his spare time, Google Adventure. The project aims to "translate the Google Street View concept into extreme, exotic locations like the summit of Mount Everest or the Great Barrier Reef off Australia," according to Startup Grind, a global startup community.

Fredinburg also helped start Save the Ice, an organization dedicated to raising awareness about global warming "through adventurous campaigns and events around the world," according to its website.

Fredinburg started at Google in 2007. He served as product manager and the head of privacy at Google X, the company's secretive arm best known for "moonshot" projects such as the self-driving car.

Google said it has launched a "person finder" tool for Nepal to help people find loved ones in the aftermath of the quake and "is working to get updated satellite imagery to aid in the recovery effort." Google says it is committing $1 million to the quake response.

The actress Sophia Bush, who has appeared in photos with Fredinburg posted by entertainment outlets, called him "one-of-a-kind" in a post on Instagram.

"A dancing robot who liked to ride dinosaurs and chase the sun and envision a better future for the world. His brain knew how to build it," she wrote. "His heart was constantly evolving to push himself to make it so."

courtesy - AP

Rescuers dug with their bare hands and bodies piled up in Nepal after an earthquake devastated the heavily crowded Kathmandu Valley

Rescuers dug with their bare hands and bodies piled up in Nepal on Sunday after an earthquake devastated the heavily crowded Kathmandu Valley, killing more than 2,200 people, and triggered a deadly avalanche on Mount Everest.

A big aftershock between Kathmandu and Everest unleashed more avalanches in the Himalayas. In the capital, hospital workers stretchered patients out onto the street to treat them as it was too dangerous to keep them indoors.

"Another one, we have an aftershock right now. Oh shit!" said Indian climber Arjun Vajpai over the phone from Makalu base camp near Everest. "Avalanche!" he shouted. Screams and the roar of crashing snow could be heard over the line as he spoke.

The tremor, measured at 6.7, was the most powerful since Saturday's 7.9 quake - itself the strongest since Nepal's worst earthquake disaster of 1934 that killed 8,500 people.

The aftershock rocked buildings in New Delhi and halted the city metro.

"There is no way one can forecast the intensity of aftershocks so people need to be alert for the next few days," said L.S. Rathore, chief of the India Meteorological Department.

In Everest's worst disaster, the bodies of 17 climbers were recovered from the mountain on Sunday after being caught in avalanches. A plane carrying the first 15 injured climbers landed in Kathmandu at around noon local time.

"There is a lot of confusion on the mountain. The toll will rise," said Gelu Sherpa, one of the walking wounded among the first 15 injured climbers flown to Kathmandu. "Tents have been blown away," said Sherpa, his head in bandages.

Government overwhelmed

With Nepal's government overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster, India flew in medical supplies and relief crews, while China sent in a 60-strong emergency team. Relief agencies said hospitals in the Kathmandu Valley were overflowing and running out of medical supplies.

Army officer Santosh Nepal and a group of rescuers worked all night to open a passage into a collapsed building in Kathmandu. They had to use pick axes because bulldozers could not get through the ancient city's narrow streets.

"We believe there are still people trapped inside," he told Reuters, pointing at concrete debris and twisted reinforcement rods where a three-storey residential building once stood.

Among the capital's landmarks destroyed in the earthquake was the 60-metre Dharahara Tower, built in 1832 for the queen of Nepal, with a viewing balcony that had been open to visitors for the last 10 years.

A jagged stump was all that was left of the lighthouse-like structure. As bodies were pulled from the ruins on Saturday, a policeman said up to 200 people had been trapped inside.

Bodies were still arriving on Sunday at one hospital in Kathmandu, where police officer Sudan Shreshtha said his team had brought 166 corpses overnight.

"I am tired and exhausted, but I have to work and have the strength," Shreshtha told Reuters as an ambulance brought three more victims to the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital.

Bodies were heaped in a dark room, some covered with cloth, some not. A boy aged about seven had his face half missing and his stomach bloated like a football. The stench of death was overpowering.

Outside, a 30-year-old woman who had been widowed wailed: "Oh Lord, oh God, why did you take him alone? Take me along with him also."

"Both private and government hospitals have run out of space and are treating patients outside, in the open," said Nepal's envoy to India, Deep Kumar Upadhyay. Prime Minister Sushil Koirala is back from abroad and will soon address the country.

Need a decision

Save the Children's Peter Olyle said hospitals in the Kathmandu Valley were running out of storage room for bodies and emergency supplies. "There is a need for a government decision on bringing in kits from the military," he said from Kathmandu.

Some buildings in Kathmandu toppled like houses of cards, others leaned at precarious angles, and partial collapses exposed living rooms and furniture in place and belongings stacked on shelves.

Rescuers, some wearing face masks to keep out the dust, scrambled over mounds of splintered timber and broken bricks in the hope of finding survivors. Some used their bare hands to fill small white buckets with dirt and rock.

Thousands of people spent the night outside in chilly temperatures and patchy rain, too afraid to return to their damaged homes.

On Sunday, survivors wandered the streets clutching bed rolls and blankets, while others sat in the street cradling their children, surrounded by a few plastic bags of belongings.

The 7.9 magnitude quake struck at midday on Saturday at a busy time of year for the tourism-reliant country's trekking and climbing season, with an estimated 300,000 foreign tourists in the country, home to many World Heritage sites.

Police put the death toll in Nepal at 2,152, with 5,463 hurt. At least 700 were killed in the capital, a city of about 1 million people where many homes are old, poorly built and packed close together.

Some 49 people were reported killed in neighbouring India, which has sent military aircraft to Nepal with medical equipment and relief teams. It also said it had dispatched 285 members of its National Disaster Response Force.

In Tibet, the death toll climbed to 17, according to a tweet from China's state news agency, Xinhua. Four people were killed in Bangladesh.

Pakistan's military is sending four C-130 aircraft with a 30-bed hospital, search and rescue teams and relief supplies, the army said.

Worst everest disaster

There were nearly 1,000 climbers and sherpas on Everest when the first avalanche struck, claiming the highest toll of any disaster on the world's highest mountain.

Climber photographs on social media sites showed tents and other structures at Everest base camp flattened by rocks and snow. The first reported photo of the avalanche showed a monster "cloud-like" mass of snow and rock descending down the mountain.

courtesy - reuters


The world's strongest earthquakes since 1900

A magnitude-7.9 earthquake shook Nepal's capital and the densely populated Kathmandu Valley on Saturday, the worst quake in the Himalayan nation in over 80 years.

The world's strongest earthquakes since 1900:

May 22, 1960: A magnitude-9.5 earthquake in southern Chile and ensuing tsunami kill at least 1,716 people.

March 28, 1964: A magnitude-9.2 quake in Prince William Sound, Alaska, kills 131 people, including 128 from a tsunami.

Dec. 26, 2004: A magnitude-9.1 quake in Indonesia triggers an Indian Ocean tsunami, killing 230,000 people in a dozen countries.

March 11, 2011: A magnitude-9.0 quake off the northeast coast of Japan triggers a tsunami, killing more than 18,000 people.

Nov. 4, 1952: A magnitude-9.0 quake in Kamchatka in Russia's Far East causes damage but no reported deaths despite setting off 9.1-meter (30-foot) waves in Hawaii.

Feb. 27, 2010: A magnitude-8.8 quake shakes Chile, generating a tsunami and killing 524 people.

Jan. 31, 1906: A magnitude-8.8 quake off the coast of Ecuador generates a tsunami that kills at least 500 people.

Feb. 4, 1965: A magnitude-8.7 quake strikes Alaska's Rat Islands, causing an 11-meter (35-foot) -high tsunami.

March 28, 2005: A magnitude-8.6 quake in northern Sumatra in Indonesia kills about 1,300 people.

Aug. 15, 1950: A magnitude-8.6 earthquake in Tibet kills at least 780 people.

April 11, 2012: A magnitude-8.6 quake off the west coast of northern Sumatra in Indonesia triggers tsunami warnings in more than two dozen nations.

March 9, 1957: A magnitude-8.6 quake strikes the Andreanof Islands in Alaska triggers a 16-meter (52-foot) -high tsunami.

Sept. 12, 2007: A magnitude-8.5 quake near Sumatra in Indonesia kills at least 25 people.

Feb. 1, 1938: A magnitude-8.5 quake in Banda Sea, Indonesia, generates a small tsunami.

Feb. 3, 1923: A magnitude-8.5 quake in Kamchatka in Russia's Far East triggers a tsunami.

Nov. 11, 1922: A magnitude-8.5 quake along the Chile-Argentina border triggers a tsunami that causes damage along Chile's coast.

Oct. 13, 1963: A magnitude-8.5 quake in the Kuril Islands triggers a tsunami.

Source: US Geological Survey
courtesy - AP

The Kathmandu airport shut following a massive earthquake that rocked Nepal

NEW DELHI: The Kathmandu airport was shut on Saturday following a massive earthquake that rocked Nepal, resulting in the cancellation of Indian flights bound for the capital city.

An IndiGo flight for Nepal, which left at 11:30 am was called back and the departures of two others were cancelled, according to authorities here. The earthquake struck at 11:41 am. They also said an Air Arabia flight from Sharjah to Kathmandu was diverted to the Indian capital.

Some airlines said they were awaiting further inputs before resuming operations to Nepal, while others announced immediate cancellations. An Indigo flight was called back from Kathmandu, and the departure of two flights of Jet Airways and Air India was delayed.

"SpiceJet flights to KTM (Kathmandu) is on hold until we get more news on impact of earthquake and readiness of Kathmandu airport," a spokesperson for the airline told media .

Kathmandu suffered devastation in the quake that measured 7.9 on the Richter scale.

Sources at Indira Gandhi International Airport said modifications will be made in the schedules once a clear picture emerges. "We are assessing the situation," an official said.

source: agency

Nepal was jolted by fourteen aftershocks of varied magnitude following a powerful earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter Scale

KATHMANDU: Nepal was jolted by fourteen aftershocks of varied magnitude following a powerful earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter Scale, which rattled the Himalayan nation on Saturday.

The US Geological Survey said the epicentre was in Nepal's Lamjung district, some 75 km northwest of capital Kathmandu.

Aftershocks were felt more than two hours after the earthquake.

Some of the epicentres of the aftershocks were at 28 km south-southeast of Kodari (5.1 magnitude), 49 km east of Lamjung (6.6), 25 km north-northeast of Nagarkot (5.5), 5 km southeast of Panaoti (4.8), 15 km north-northeast of Nagarkot (5.0) and 25 km south of Kodari (5).

source: agency

A powerful earthquake in Nepal triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest

NEW DELHI: A powerful earthquake in Nepal on Saturday triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest, climbers said, raising fears for those on the world's highest peak a year after another avalanche caused the deadliest incident on the mountain.

Romanian climber Alex Gavan said on Twitter that there had been a "huge avalanche" and "many, many" people were up on the mountain.

"Running for life from my tent," Gavan said. "Everest base camp huge earthquake then huge avalanche."

Another climber, Daniel Mazur, said Everest base camp had been "severely damaged" and his team was trapped.

"Please pray for everyone," he said on his Twitter page.

An earthquake measuring 7.9 magnitude struck west of Kathmandu causing buildings to collapse, killing at least 108 people, injuring more and leaving a pall of dust over the city.

An avalanche in April 2014 just above the base camp on Mount Everest killed 16 Nepali guides. April is one of the most popular times to climb Everest before rain and clouds cloak the mountain at the end of next month.

courtesy -reuters

A historic tower built in the 19th century collapsed in the Nepal capital Kathmandu following a severe earthquake

KATHMANDU: A historic tower built in the 19th century collapsed in the Nepal capital Kathmandu following a severe earthquake on Saturday and at least one body was removed as police cordoned off the area, a Reuters witness said.

The Dharahara Tower, built in 1832, was a historic landmark that had been open to visitors for the last 10 years and had a viewing balcony on its eighth floor.
One body was removed from the tower and a second lay further up the road, the witness said. It was not immediately clear how many people were in the multi-storey tower when it collapsed.

courtesy -reuters


Bollywood celebrities like Karan Johar, Arjun Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor have hoped "Student of the Year" actor Varun Dhawan

Bollywood celebrities like Karan Johar, Arjun Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor have hoped "Student of the Year" actor Varun Dhawan, who turned 28 on Friday, evolves and has a rocking year ahead.

Here's what they tweeted:

Karan Johar: Happy birthday @Varun_dvn !! Evolve, search and aspire.... Make the year count!!! All my love...always!!

Riteish Deshmukh: Happy birthday my friend @Varun_dvn - have a rocking year ahead.

Arjun Kapoor: My first director @Varun_dvn s birthday today...happy birthday Bombay ka Brahma Bull...being filmy since 1987...

Shraddha Kapoor: Happy bday to my friend with a heart of gold, who never forgets to spread love & positivity everywhere! @Varun_dvn

Nargis Fakhri: @Varun_dvn Happy Birthday 2my favorite. I wish u the happiest bday &many more 2come. May u stay beautiful on da inside as u r on the outside

Milap Zaveri: A very Happy Birthday to the "Hero" Seenu aka @Varun_dvn Tu Sach mein ABCD hai! matlab "Amazing Bindaas Cool Dude!" Have a super year buddy!

source: agency

Hyderabad - A six-year-old boy died while playing cricket

HYDERABAD: A six-year-old boy died while playing cricket after he was hit on the chest by a powerful shot.

T Vamshi Krishna died while playing cricket when he was hit by a ball near his house in Sahara Estate in Vanasthalipuram.

According to the police, the boy was playing with other children in the neighbourhood on Thursday evening when he was hit on the chest by a powerful shot played by another boy.

The child collapsed on the ground. He was shifted to a nearby hospital, where he died while undergoing treatment.

Vamshi's parents complained to the police that negligence by the 14-year-old boy, who was batting, led to their son's death.

It was the second incident this week that a player has been fatally injured while playing cricket.
Former Bengal Under-19 cricketer Ankit Keshri died on Monday after sustaining head injury while fielding in a Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) senior knockout match in Kolkata.

His tragic death was followed by injury to another Bengal cricketer Rahul Ghosh on Tuesday. Rahul was injured on the left side of his head when hit by a ball in a CAB club league match in Kolkata.

Rahul is said to be gradually improving but is still in a Kolkata hospital.

source: agency


Indian-origin British filmmaker Gurinder Chadha is hopeful to work with singer Zayn Malik in the near future

Indian-origin British filmmaker Gurinder Chadha is hopeful to work with singer Zayn Malik in the near future.

It has been reported that the 22-year-old singer is in talks with "Bend It Like Beckham" director Gurinder Chadha to plan his next move, reported Daily Mirror.

"We've met and spoken. He trained as an actor first then became part of the band.

"So I think what he'll be doing is staying true to his heart - and that's all you can ever do," she said.

Speaking at the Asian Awards, which was also attended by Malik, Gurinder added, "I don't have a part in mind for Zayn just yet but hopefully in the future."

Their discussions came just months after Zayn's singer friend Ed Sheeran, 24, agreed to feature in a Bollywood film.

source: agency

German maker Audi launched the new Audi TT Coupe at a price of Rs.60.34 lakh

NEW DELHI: Making an addition to India's luxury car market, German maker Audi on Thursday launched the new Audi TT Coupe at a price of Rs.60.34 lakh.

"This is the first of the five launches that we have planned in the next five months. Despite economic downturn last year, we have grown," Audi India head Joe King told media persons here.

"Re-engineered for more power, the all-new Audi TT Coupe blends dynamic aesthetics with innovative technology and inspired performance," he said.

"Both our product launches of 2015 -- the limited edition Audi R8 LMX and the all-new Audi TT Coupe -- have a strong sporty flair that highlights Audi's heritage in sports cars and our leadership in this segment in India," King added.

Its 230 horsepower engine accelerates the new Audi TT Coupe from zero to 100 km an hour in 5.3 seconds.

Audi India registered record sales in the 2014-15 fiscal, selling 11,292 units over the 10,126 units sold in 2013-14, and retained its top position in the Indian luxury car market ahead of fellow German multinational Mercedes-Benz, which also posted record sales in the last fiscal at 11,213 units.

source: agency

BSNL has announced unlimited free calling scheme during night hours from its fixed line phones to any operator including mobile phones anywhere

NEW DELHI: To boost landline business, state-run telecom operator BSNL has announced unlimited free calling scheme during night hours from its fixed line phones to any operator including mobile phones anywhere in the country from May 1.

The scheme would be operational between 9 PM to 7 AM and would cover all type of connections, BSNL said in a statement.

"BSNL has introduced unlimited free calling during night hours from its landline phones to all landline phones and mobile phones of all service provider's network on all India basis from 1st May," BSNL said.

Under the scheme, all major landline general plans of rural and urban areas, landline special plans as well as all major combo (landline with broadband) plans are covered.

As per latest Trai data, BSNL which dominates landline market was the biggest loser of fixed-line customers in February while Airtel emerged as top gainer. The company had over 1.66 crore landlines at the end of February.

Even after losing 162,556 landline customers in February, the company dominated the market with 62.26% share.

source: agency

China's smartphone makers are drafting in cricket teams and Bollywood stars to conquer India

China's smartphone makers are drafting in cricket teams and Bollywood stars to conquer India, their largest overseas market and a key testing ground for their international expansion, as they try to rebrand as more than just sellers of cheap handsets.

Xiaomi Technology - the fast-growing No. 3 global smartphone maker valued at $45 billion after a December funding round -- hosted its first global launch outside of China in New Delhi on Thursday, unveiling its feature-heavy Mi 4i model that supports six Indian languages at 12,999 rupees ($205).

"It speaks volumes to our focus on India, our intentions, and (is about) really putting our investment where we believe the future of the company is," Hugo Barra, Xiaomi's vice president of international operations, said.

And they are not alone. Manufacturers including Gionee, Huawei Technologies and Lenovo are trying out new retail strategies, marketing plans and research for devices in India, as they look to push into new markets.

Huawei and Gionee, for instance, are sponsoring franchises in the Indian Premier League, a wildly popular cricket tournament, while Lenovo and Oppo have adverts featuring movie heartthrobs Ranbir Kapoor and Hrithik Roshan as they try to build brand appeal among ordinary Indians.

India is the world's third-largest smartphone market, but with just one in 10 people using such handsets still has huge growth potential.

Chinese smartphone makers are in many cases unknown outside India's larger cities, but they are beginning to win market share from better known rivals such as Samsung Electronics and even homegrown Micromax, which in the fourth quarter became the country's leading handset supplier.

With growth saturating at home, companies from China and Taiwan have either entered or ramped up India operations over the past year. Six were among the top 20 smartphone vendors in the December quarter.

Based on shipments data tracked by research firm Canalys, the top five Chinese smartphone companies and Taiwan's Asustek Computer Inc together accounted for 13% of shipments in the period.

Sales plans
Fast growth and cut-throat competition has forced the new Chinese entrants to intensify their sales push, adapting plans previously tried out in China to suit local customers.

Xiaomi, a five-year-old company known as China's Apple, entered India in July last year through a tie-up with online retailer Flipkart. It later partnered a leading electronics retail chain with a pan-India presence to boost its sales.

Arvind Vohra, head of Chinese manufacturer Gionee's India operations said, said he was focused on physical distribution, and would only then go online. Gionee sold 4 million devices and made almost $500 million in sales in the year ended March.

"There was a huge challenge with the stigma attached to Chinese brands initially," said Rushabh Doshi, a Singapore-based analyst at research firm Canalys.

"A lot of new vendors are testing out online retail first, trying to see if the brand is picking up in India and then ramping up their operations based on the feedback they get from the consumer base."

Industry watchers say that now a focus on research and local production will help Chinese firms offer high-end features at low cost, positioning them well in a market that will grow at around 36% a year over the next five years, according to consulting firm Zinnov.

Gionee, which was among the first Chinese device makers to enter India, has 1,200 employees working on R&D and expects to set up a manufacturing base in India.

For Xiaomi, the research on the processor used in the Mi 4i was led by a team in Bengaluru. The company could also make the phone locally once it sets up a manufacturing presence here, Barra said.

"(The Mi 4i) is not a Chinese design that is imported to India, this is a product that is designed with this market in mind," he said.

Courtesy - reuters

Jewellery brand Kalyan Jewellers announced its decision to withdraw its Aishwarya Rai Bachchan-starrer advertisement, which a group of activists has labelled as "insidiously racist"

Jewellery brand Kalyan Jewellers on Thursday announced its decision to withdraw its Aishwarya Rai Bachchan-starrer advertisement, which a group of activists has labelled as "insidiously racist".

"This creative was intended to present royalty, timeless beauty and elegance. If we have, inadvertently, hurt the sentiments of any individual or organisation, we deeply regret the same," the official spokesperson for Kalyan Jewellers said in a statement.

"We have started the process of withdrawing this creative from our campaign," the statement read further.

The withdrawal of the ad comes after an "Open letter" to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, asserting, "This ad you figure in is insidiously racist".

The letter takes on the former beauty queen for appearing "to be representing aristocracy from a bygone era - bejewelled, poised and relaxing while an obviously underage slave-child, very dark and emaciated, struggles to hold an oversize umbrella over your head".

"As an influential member of the Indian film industry and a popular star with a large fan following, we trust that you wish to use your image in a manner that promotes progressive thought and action, and would not knowingly promote regressive images that are racist and go against child rights," reads a part of the "Open letter".

Reacting to the letter, Aishwayra's publicist on Wednesday issued an image from the original shoot and claimed that the "final layout is the prerogative of the creative team of a brand".

The publicist's statement read: "On the onset we would like to thank you on drawing our attention to the observation of the perception of the advertisement. Here is an attachment of the shot taken by somebody during the shoot."

"The final layout of the ad is entirely the prerogative of the creative team for a brand. However, shall forward your article as a viewpoint that can be taken into consideration by the creative team of professionals working on the brand visual communication. Thank you once again."

The publicist's statement was addressed to Farah Naqvi, Nisha Agrawal, Enakshi Ganguly, Bharti Ali, Madhu Mehra, Shantha Sinha, Harsh Mander and Mridula Bajaj, who signed the open letter posted on an online portal.

Aishwarya Rai is the national ambassador of Kalyan Jewellers.

source: agency

Bollywood Actors Raveena Tandon and Tiger Shroff to be present at Choreographer Sandip Soparrkar's "India Dance Week"

This April, Phoenix Market city Kurla along with Bollywood's talented choreographer Sandip Soparrkar is hosting its second edition of "India Dance Week", providing dancers the perfect stage to showcase their talent! "India Dance Week", the two day dance extravaganza will be held on 25th and 26th April 2015, the event will have participants from different parts of India setting the stage on fire with their breath taking dance moves.

This year "India dance week" will be more interesting because bollywood's most beautiful and gorgeous actress Raveena Tandon and most stylist actor Tiger Shroff, the one who won the hearts of millions through his dancing skills and 6 pack abs will be the chief guest on 25th and 26th April respectively. This dance event presents an opportunity to all dance lovers to showcase their talent to the best in the industry! There will be performances and competition which will be judged by veterans like actress Ritu Shivpuri, Meghna Naidu, Sudha Chandran, Neelima Azim and Jaswir Kaur. Mentored and trained under the guidance of dance maestro Sandip Soparrkar.

Sandip Soparrkar said, “As the face of the brand "India Dance Week" I am proud to present the 2nd edition of this dance extravaganza, Phoenix Market City Kurla had been instrumental in getting it all set for the dance enthusiasts of India. We have participants coming all the way from Allahabad and Jamm, it shows that in two years we have made a great place in people's hearts."

Day one, On 25thApril, 2015 there would be various dance performances from classical to folk, from contemporary to hip hop and from ballroom to bollywood. Dance teachers like Brian Fernandes, Nutan Patwardhan, Ava and Villoo Bharucha and many more will have their talent on display. There will a very special dance performance by Sandip Soparrkar along with children from Smile Foundation, NGO.

Day two, the grand finale will take place on 26thApril, 2015 with a special opening act by the mentally challenged children from Advait foundation followed by the dance competition. The finalist will be judged by dancing live to the tunes of the señorita singing sensation of India Carlyta Mouhini. The event will be hosted by television actor Amit Dolawat.

An initiative by Sandip Soparrkar and Phoenix Market City Kurla "India Dance Week" is a platform that brings all the popular dance forms together on the floor. This year the winners can take home a fully paid trip to Dubai and one year free membership of Country Club plus loads of other prizes and gifts. So get ready to rock and roll this weekend.

USIBC Concludes Successful Pharmaceutical & Biologics Mission to India; Explores Partnership with Government of India at Central and State Levels

U.S. brings large industry delegation; focused on “Make in India” and opportunities through innovation

 New Delhi, India - The U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC) has concluded its Pharmaceutical & Biologics Executive Mission to Hyderabad and New Delhi, India.  The delegation expressed its commitment to the Indian market; called for further dialogue with the government on issues related to pricing, intellectual property, and clinical trials; and explored partnership strategies for expanding greater access to healthcare and developing an innovation ecosystem in India.  USIBC’s Executive Mission was led by Justin McCarthy, Senior Vice President for Global Public Policy at Pfizer, and included senior representatives from Abbott, Actavis, Baxalta, Hospira, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Mylan, and PhRMA.

On Monday April 20, the delegation met with top officials from both the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana Governments in Hyderabad. The delegation discussed investment opportunities in both states and identified the policy and regulatory conditions conducive to attracting investment in the life sciences sector.  Although no investment commitments were made by the Council's member companies, USIBC and its membership remains committed to partnering at both the center and state levels to explore opportunities for growth.

In Delhi on April 21 and 22, the delegation met with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Finance, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Department of Commerce, Department of Biotechnology, and the office of the Drugs Controller General of India.  The delegation participated in an interactive roundtable discussion on Innovation & Intellectual Property Rights: A discussion on policies, practices, and opportunities for U.S.-India Business Relations organized jointly by USIBC and the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA) and sponsored by Trilegal, a leading full service law firm in India.   The delegation also joined briefings with U.S. Embassy officials.

“As an industry, we look forward to partnering with the Government of India at both the state and central levels,” said Justin McCarthy, leader of the USIBC delegation.  “We are encouraged by the positive signals we received on policy and regulatory issues that are critical to furthering growth of the industry, expanding healthcare access, and developing an innovation ecosystem in India.”

Formed in 1975 at the request of the U.S. and Indian governments, the U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC) is the premier business advocacy organization advancing U.S.-India commercial ties. Today, USIBC is the largest bilateral trade association in the United States, with liaison presence in New York, Silicon Valley, and New Delhi, comprised of 300 of the top-tier U.S. and Indian companies. The Chairman of USIBC is Ajay Banga, CEO and President, MasterCard Worldwide.

Nat Geo to feature Akshaya Patra on Mega Kitchen series

Akshaya Patra- Shiksha Ka Mahabhog to premiere on the channel on April 27, 2015

New Delhi: Can a single meal brighten a child’s future? Can a school lunch bridge the gap in education? National Geographic Channel is now going back to school with The Akshaya Patra Foundation to showcase how the world’s largest school lunch program is cooking up millions of meals and offering India’s children a hopeful tomorrow, one plate at a time.

Akshaya Patra- Shiksha ka Mahabhog premieres on April 27, 2015 at 9pm on National Geographic Channel.

The one hour special gives a unique look into what goes into the functioning of this mammoth kitchen– with a focus on scale, volume, technology and process. Committed to serving the cause of providing nutrition to children, The Akshaya Patra Foundation serves wholesome food to over 1.4 million school children from 10,770 schools in 24 locations across 10 States in India. NGC’s exclusive documentary on Akshaya Patra promotes the thought of food for education and gives interesting insights like how a whopping 175,000 meals are cooked in just about 5 hours with an ‘inexhaustible vessel’ and how gravity is used to do all the load-bearing work. To further the cause of mid-day meal programme, NGC has also launched #FoodForEducation initiative on digital media to raise awareness and donations for the Akshaya Patra Foundation.

Commenting on the show, Mr Shridhar Venkat, Chief Executive Officer, The Akshaya Patra Foundation said, “Akshaya Patra featuring in a special telecast premiere by National Geographic Channel is indeed a remarkable opportunity for the foundation to gain added momentum to bring awareness to the programme of providing food for education to millions of children in India. We are grateful to NGC for dedicating a full hour episode on Akshaya Patra on their iconic infotainment channel, admired the world over.”

Swati Mohan, Business Head, NGC Networks and FOX International Channels said, “Being the leader in the space of infotainment production in India, we at Nat Geo pride ourselves in creating content that exemplifies exclusive access, well researched facts, a local flavour and international quality. ‘Akshaya Patra’ is an example of our continued commitment to do just that and extend the much loved franchise of 'Megafactories’ in a very relevant and Indian way.”

About Akshaya Patra Foundation:
The Akshaya Patra Foundation (, is a non-profit organization headquartered in Bengaluru, India, is the world’s largest (NGO run) mid-day meal programme. Akshaya Patra effectively implements Mid-Day Meal Scheme with a vision that ‘No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger.’ With a mission to reach 5 million children by 2020, the Foundation today serves mid-day meals to 1.4 million children from over 10,000 Government and Government Aided Schools across 10 states in India. The programme achieves this scale by leveraging technology. Akshaya Patra kitchens are also known for their hygiene and quality standards with ten of their kitchens ISO 22000:2005 certified. Their innovations have become a product of various studies across the world. For details, please log on
About National Geographic Channel India:
National Geographic Channel India launched on July 1st, 1998. Its programming covers adventure and exploration, natural history, science, wildlife and people of the world. The National Geographic Channel is currently distributed to over 45 million homes in India and on an average gets over 54 million viewers a month. For more information, please visit Official Facebook page:

National Geographic Channels International (NGCI):
National Geographic Channels International (NGCI) invites viewers to live curious through its smart, innovative programming that questions what we know, how we view the world and what drives us forward.  A business enterprise owned by National Geographic Television (NGT) and FOX Entertainment Group, NGCI contributes to the National Geographic Society's commitment to exploration, conservation and education through its six channels: National Geographic Channel, National Geographic Channel HD, Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo Wild HD, Nat Geo Adventure and Nat Geo Music.
Globally, National Geographic Channel (including NGC U.S., which is a joint venture of NGT and Fox Cable Networks Group) is available in more than 370 million homes in 168 countries and 37 languages.  For more information, please visit

Most Attractive Employers in India – Survey Randstad India

Google India wins the Randstad Award 2015 for the ‘Most Attractive Employer’ in India
Competitive salary and employee benefits continue to be the top priority among the Indian workforce followed by long term job security while choosing an employer

India:  Google India bags the 5th edition of the Randstad Award 2015 for the ‘Most Attractive Employer’ in India, followed by Sony India who has won the Runner-Up position. The sectoral specific special recognition awards this year has been awarded to Tata Steel for Manufacturing, P&G for FMCG and Honda India for Automobile verticals. The Randstad Award 2015 gala event will be held at The Taj Palace, New Delhi on April 23rd, from 6 pm onwards.

In line with the Randstad Award philosophy, Microsoft India has been inducted into the Hall of Fame category this year for winning the coveted Randstad Award title for four consecutive years.

The Randstad Award is hosted each year to encourage best practices for talent attraction and to identify the best ‘Employer Brand’ in the country based on perceived attractiveness of a company. The Randstad Award survey is the world’s largest independent employer branding survey that gives unique insights and the 5th year of this research in India captured the views of more than 8500 respondents, who chose the nation’s most attractive employer brand for 2015. Globally, this research covered 23 countries, capturing the views of over 225,000 respondents.

The Randstad Award 2015 event will host an august audience of CXOs, HR heads and stalwarts from various industries. The panel discussion at the event will see eminent speakers from across industry verticals to bring in perspectives on the much debated topic, ‘Secrets of successful employer branding’.

Speaking at the press conference, Mr. Moorthy K Uppaluri, CEO, Randstad India said, “The revitalized Indian economy and the job market continues to gain momentum, and this puts pressure on corporate India to retain and attract the best talent. The context for building strong employer brands has never been more important for organizations to build, maintain and enhance their reputation as desirable employers in a highly competitive marketplace.

Mr. Uppaluri added, “For the last five years, Randstad Award survey is adding value to the entire HR fraternity and CXOs in the country by being the truest reflection of insights from the potential employees, thereby spearheading the employer branding evolution in the country.

It is interesting to observe the shift in priorities and how the drivers behind an employee’s desire to stay with an employer have changed over the years. This year’s survey results clearly show that work-life balance and career growth opportunities are the main factors for the Indian workforce to stay with an employer, in addition to competitive salary. Taking a cue from the survey findings, I can say that this is the right time for India better articulate and strengthen their employer brand to attract, manage and retain the top talent”.

Key findings on the choice of employer

Influencing factors

This year’s research clearly shows that salary and employee benefits continue to be the top priority among the Indian workforce while choosing an employer. The importance of salary has increased even further since last year (7% increase from 2014) followed by long-term job security.

Top 5 influencing factors

Salary & employee benefits (54%), long-term job security (49%), work-life balance (39%), pleasant working atmosphere (39%), and financial health of the company (38%) are the top five preferred criteria while choosing an employer.

By Gender

The survey highlights that men in India are more often tend to be driven towards companies  with a good financial health, a strong management and one that offer career progression opportunities.

Women, on the other hand, prefer a pleasant working atmosphere, good work-life balance, convenient location and flexible working arrangements.

By Age

There is a greater preference for employers who offer good training, international career opportunities and interesting job content among the younger workforce aged between 18-24 years.

For India’s workforce aged between 25 - 44 years and 45 - 65 years, competitive salary, job security, financial stability and health of the company remain major drivers when looking for an employer. More than the younger workforce, they also value pleasant working atmosphere and strong management in the company they work or want to work for.

By Education

Salary and employee benefits and long-term job security are the top priorities for all the respondents irrespective of their educational background, however for the secondary and lower education group, the importance of good work life balance is significantly lower than respondents with a bachelors and master’s degree.

On the other hand, the importance given to the financial health of the company was much higher for respondents within the secondary and lower education group. Career progression opportunities features as one of the most important factor for respondents with a master’s and higher educational qualification.

Other Key Findings:

Work Life Balance:
Good work life balance is emerging as one of the most important factors for an employee to stay with the current employer (42%). Promoting work-life balance could be a great asset also to attract at least 23%, the proportion of workforce that left their employers for this reason.

Social media platforms are the most popular channels for job seekers
There has been a major shift observed in how people go ahead with their job search. The survey reveals that 66% of the job seekers in India use social networking sites to look for jobs.

Top 3 most attractive sectors:
According to the survey, the Indian workforce prefers to work or move to sectors like IT and Communication (72%) followed by FMCG and retail (68%) and Automobiles (67%).

About Randstad Award:
The Randstad Award program is based on a robust research platform that gives unique insight into the key drivers of talent attraction within our country and across the world. The 23 participating countries (Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungry, India, Italy, Japan, Luxemburg, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, USA) are from Europe, Asia/Pacific and the Americas, where Randstad has active presence. In each country 150 large companies with over 1000 employees are chosen for the survey.
Unlike similar surveys, HR officers, staff members or experts are not invited to take part in the survey, which guarantees maximum objectivity. The respondents are asked to identify the companies they recognize and then to indicate whether or not they would like to work for them. In the next step, they evaluate the relative attractiveness of each of the selected companies based on 10 key factors.
The survey makes a clear distinction between ‘absolute attractiveness’ and ‘relative attractiveness’. A smaller or lesser-known company may actually be a more appealing potential employer, than a larger or well-known company. However, based on absolute attractiveness, the high profile organization would rank better in the ratings due to greater public awareness. To make sure that a small company’s ranking is not impacted adversely by its brand awareness, the Randstad Award distinguishes between absolute attractiveness (among all respondents) and relative attractiveness (among respondents who know the company).
The methodology used is a uniform approach which makes it easier to draw useful comparisons between countries. This is also why the research is conducted almost simultaneously across all regions. The method is very useful as it significantly contributes to the knowledge about employer branding, and about why people select certain jobs and employers. Each company surveyed will receive a comprehensive report post the event, detailing the strengths and weaknesses of their external employer brand measured across 17 determining factors. This report will provide an excellent benchmarking tool to ensure ongoing success in an increasingly competitive talent market.

About Randstad India:

Randstad India offers the broadest HR services portfolio ranging from Staffing, Search & Selection to Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO). The organization has a vast network of offices across the country to be within the reach of clients, candidates and flexi workers.  The company, previously called Ma Foi is a leader in the HR services industry in India for the past 23 years and became part of Randstad through its global acquisition of Vedior in 2008. Randstad is the global #2 HR services provider active in 39 countries across the globe. Randstad India continues to focus on developing customized and innovative HR services, leveraging on its unique strengths of geographical presence and end-to-end capability across all HR service functions.

For more information:

About Randstad:

Randstad specializes in solutions in the field of flexible work and human resources services. Our services range from regular temporary staffing and permanent placements to inhouse, professionals, search & selection, and HR Solutions. The Randstad Group is one of the leading HR services providers in the world, with top-three positions in Argentina, Belgium & Luxembourg, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Greece, India, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, and the United States as well as major positions in Australia and Japan. In 2014, Randstad had approximately 29,000 corporate employees and around 4,400 branches and inhouse locations in 39 countries around the world. Randstad generated revenue of € 17.2 billion in 2014. Randstad was founded in 1960 and is headquartered in Diemen, the Netherlands. Randstad Holding nv is listed on the NYSE Euronext Amsterdam, where options for stocks in Randstad are also traded.

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GrownOut to Unveil the First-of-its-kind Next-gen Referral Hiring Technology Solution

Company to launch this revolutionary cloud based technology solution at the SHRM India HR Tech Conference, 2015 ​to be held on 24 April 2015​ at Palladium Hotel, Mumbai

​Mumbai: GrownOut, India’s premier online referral hiring Technology Company plans to launch its unique first-of-its-kind revolutionary referral hiring technology solution at the ‘SHRM India HR Technology Conference & Exposition’ organised by SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management), India. This SAAS based online tool named “GrownOut” will help HR personnel across varied industries, to streamline and manage the talent acquisition process.

GrownOut works in a unique manner. Once the HR or Hiring Manager of a firm posts a job vacancy, the tool taps into the existing employees social and professional connections all over the internet and also analyses various other information available in the public domain to shortlist the potential candidates’ who are best suited for the particular job. Thus it brings forth a very rich data of professional connections. This tool dramatically eases the recruitment/selection process as it shortlists candidates automatically basis the job description fed into the software. The shortlisted candidates are then contacted via employees to whom they are connected and are then called in directly for the interview process.

Speaking on the solution, Sumit Gupta, CEO and Co-Founder, GrownOut commented, “There is not an iota of doubt that referral hiring has the largest share in quality hires and in many big companies referral hiring triumphs over other modes of hiring. However, in actuality, this particular process is still considered as a secondary choice for hiring of candidates. Such an attitude can be attributed to the increased dependency on employee action and HR’s limited control over the entire process. GrownOut is specifically engineered to make the referral hiring process effeicient by removing these very obstacles.”

“Unlike the traditional referral hiring procedure, employees do not need to go through the rigorous task of understanding the job description, search in their networks and social circles and share communications across multiple platforms in order to reach out to the right candidate. He/she is rewarded purely for the people he is familiar or connected to.”, he added.

The launch session will be followed by a 30 minute LIVE demonstration which will detail out those elements of the solution that make the referral hiring process fully automated while nullifying the dependency on employee action to find the appropriate candidates. The demonstration will also delve into how the technology works and how it can mitigate impending challenges HR professionals face today.

About GrownOut

GrownOut, a SaaS based online referral hiring tool enables organizations to leverage the professional network of their employees. It is a technology driven organization, which relies heavily on big data solutions to simplify problems in recruitment. GrownOut is a system to build efficiencies based on your interconnections, and thus simplify hiring. A referral hiring system, which is independent of employee action and focuses purely on the connections, they have across social media platforms. This solution helps reduce the hiring cycle to one-sixth in time and brings down the cost by 51%. Interconnectivity also insures more affinity to the workplace and thus the retention also increases by 200%.Envisioned by Sumit Gupta and Harsimran Walia, GrownOut is the best way to tap in tremendous potential of professional connections. GrownOut is 600% more efficient than the existing hiring systems and is fast becoming the primary source for quality hiring.


Sports Ministry suspended the recognition of PCI with immediate effect for poor management and conduct of National Para Athletics Championships in Ghaziabad

NEW DELHI: Close on the heels of International Paralympic Committee's suspension of Paralympic Committee of India, the Sports Ministry on Wednesday suspended the recognition of PCI with immediate effect for poor management and conduct of National Para Athletics Championships in Ghaziabad in March.

The ministry said that an inquiry conducted by Sports Authority of India has found that the PCI has failed miserably in providing adequate facilities to the para-athletes during the March 20-22 Ghaziabad event.

The government's action came a week after IPC, on April 15, suspended the PCI "indefinitely" for infighting and poor treatment of the para-athletes. The PCI was earlier served a show-cause notice by the ministry to explain why it should not be de-recognized for the Ghaziabad fiasco.

The ministry, in its order on Wednesday, said that the PCI has not been functioning in the best interest of para-sport for which it was granted recognition, as there has been large scale dis-satisfaction among players and other stakeholders and hence it has violated the terms and conditions of recognition as well as provisions of its own constitution.

"Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has suspended the recognition of PCI with immediate effect till further orders. In a communication sent to PCI, the Ministry has said that the decision has been taken in the wake of numerous serious complaints about poor management/conduct of the 15th National Para Athletics Championships 2015 held from 20th-22nd March, 2015 in Ghaziabad in all aspects viz. logistics, technical, administrative, etc," the ministry said in a release.

"An enquiry conducted by SAI found that the complaints were largely well-founded," the ministry said.

PCI had totally mismanaged the National Para-Athletics Championships in Ghaziabad in a shocking case of official apathy. The differently-abled athletes participating in the event were put up at unfurnished and unhygienic accommodations, prompting the Sports Ministry to seek a report from the organizers.

The PCI was recognized by Government of India in November 2011 as a National Sports Federation for promotion of sports amongst physically challenged sportspersons in the country.

In another development, the Sports Ministry has urged the International Paralympic Committee to form an adhoc committee to work in place of PCI till a federation is granted recognition by IPC for para sports in India.

In a letter sent to IPC Chief Executive Officer Xavier Gonzalez, the Ministry said the request is being sent with a view to seeking IPC support for the smooth functioning of the Paralympic movement in India.

"In case, any inputs are required from Govt. of India in this regard, the Government will provide the same including suggestions on formation of the ad-hoc committee. Alternately, IPC may authorise the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, Government of India to constitute an adhoc committee," the letter said.

"In the interregnum, IPC may authorize Sports Authority of India (an autonomous body of Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India) to send entries of the Para athletes in the country for IPC sanctioned tournaments. An early action is solicited in the best interest of development and promotion of para sports in India and to protect the interests of Indian Para athletes," said the letter.

On April 15, the IPC suspended PCI with immediate effect stating that henceforth none of the athletes recommended by PCI will be allowed to enter in any IPC-sanctioned competition.

source: agency

Amitabh Bachchan has recorded a message as part of a special video to be screened when veteran actor-producer Shashi Kapoor will be conferred the Dadasaheb Phalke Award

Megastar Amitabh Bachchan has recorded a message as part of a special video to be screened when veteran actor-producer Shashi Kapoor will be conferred the Dadasaheb Phalke Award next month.

Amitabh says he was left speechless when he was asked to narrate his experience of working with Shashi, whom he has starred with in films like Trishul, Silsila, Roti Kapda Aur Makaan, Kabhi Kabhie and Kaala Patthar.

Shashi, 77, was chosen to receive this year's prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award for his outstanding contribution to the growth and development of Indian Cinema since the late 1940s. The award will be presented to him next month, but it has been reported that Shashi may not be able to attend the National Film Awards ceremony due to health reasons.

Emotions welled up when one of Shashi's sons asked the 72-year-old to recount the time spent with him. The actor then took to his official blog to share his thoughts about it.

"Shashi Kapoor wins the Dadasaheb Phalke Award by the Government of India, the National highest Award for the Industry by the system. We are all honoured by this decision. Shashi ji and I have shared so much it is difficult to imagine how we did it, now, when I look back on it, asked by his son and grandson to fill in a few moments on video for the honour event in the Capital," Big B posted on

Be it the brotherhood of Deewar, master-employee relationship in Namak Halaal or union of two cons for a cause in Do Aur Do Paanch, the camaraderie between the stars is not restricted to professional level. The duo share a personal bond as well.

The Paa star also noted that there are no words to describe the journey.

"Some thoughts and words tumble out. But nothing can give adequate expression of what we would ideally like to state. There is so much to say and remember," he shared.

In 1991, Shashi directed Amitabh in Ajooba.

source: agency

The government said it is committed to equal access to internet for all and will ensure its "non-discriminatory availability"

NEW DELHI: Amid a debate over net neutrality, the government today said it is committed to equal access to internet for all and will ensure its "non-discriminatory availability".

"As far as the issue of net neutrality is concerned, for internet expansion in India, the young people of the country have done a commendable job and my government will strive to ensure a non-discriminatory availability of internet for the people of India, particularly the young people," telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters here.

Net neutrality calls for equal treatment to all internet traffic with no priority given to an entity or company based on payment to service providers such as telecom companies, which is seen as discriminatory.

A major public uproar has been continuing for last few days in the country, especially on social media, alleging violation of net neutrality principle by platforms like Airtel Zero and, where Facebook has partnered with Reliance Communications in India.

"I want to assure the people of India, the Prime Minister himself is a great supporter of the profound activism of Indian young people on social media and the great role they are playing," the minister said.

He added, "It is a sensitive issue on which we need to take a proper, informed decision. The larger commitment of my government, on which I am very active is, we need to strive for a non-discriminatory Internet availability."

source: agency

Japanese authorities are investigating after a small drone landed on the roof of the prime minister's office

TOKYO: Japanese authorities are investigating after a small drone landed on the roof of the prime minister's office.

No injuries or damage have been reported from Wednesday's incident, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was away on a visit to Indonesia to attend the Asia-African conference.

Police said on Wednesday it was not immediately known who was responsible. They are investigating the possibility it had crashed during a flight.

Public television NHK footages showed dozens of police and officials around the drone, which was covered by a blue tarp.

NHK said the drone is about 50 centimeters (1.7 feet) in diameter and had four propellers, carrying a small camera and something that looked like a flare. It was also decorated with a symbol that warns of radioactive material.

courtesy - AP

Wipro has announced allotment of 18,819 shares, worth about Rs one crore at the current market price, to eligible employees

NEW DELHI: IT major Wipro has announced allotment of 18,819 shares, worth about Rs one crore at the current market price, to eligible employees.

The shares are being issued to the employees under the restricted stock unit plans of 2005 and 2007, the company said.

"Administrative Committee of board of directors has passed a resolution in their meeting held on April 20, 2015 to issue and allot 18,819 equity shares of Rs 2 each pursuant to exercise of the stock options by the eligible employees under Restricted Stock Unit Plan 2005 and Restricted Stock Unit Plan 2007," the company said in a filing on the BSE.

Besides, the Committee also passed a resolution to issue and allot 7,813 equity shares of par value of Rs 2 to JP Morgan Chase Bank, its depository as underlying shares in respect of ADRs (American Depositary Receipts) to be issued and allocated to the purchasers, pursuant to the exercise of the stock options granted to the employees under the ADS Restricted Stock Unit Plan- 2004.

The country's third largest software services firm Wipro yesterday reported 2.1% rise in fourth quarter net profit to Rs 2,286.5 crore, while it elevated founder Azim Premji's son Rishad to the board.

The company had a net profit of Rs 2,239.1 crore in the quarter ended March 31, 2014.

Restricted stock is considered less riskier than stock options and it does not depend only upon the market to give it a boost. It is a component of the employees' compensation.

It also brings greater predictability on the expenses front compared to stock option for a company.

Post the announcement, Wipro's scrip was trading at Rs 554.55, down 4.19% on the BSE.

source: agency

International news channel Al Jazeera forced to go off air in the country for five days

NEW DELHI: International news channel Al Jazeera was on Wednesday forced to go off air in the country for five days as the government penalized it for repeatedly showing wrong maps of India.

Al Jazeera on Wednesday only showed a blank screen with a message saying that "as instructed by the ministry of information and broadcasting, this channel will not be available from 00.01 hours on 22nd April till 00.01 hours on 27th April 2015."

Earlier in an order, I&B ministry had said that it had come to its notice that Al Jazeera had shown a wrong map of India in some of its broadcasts in 2013 and 2014, after which the matter was referred to Surveyor General of India (SGI).

The SGI had observed that in some of the maps displayed by Al Jazeera, "a portion of Indian territory of Jammu & Kashmir (i.e. PoK and Aksai Chin) has not been shown as a part of Indian territory." The channel also did not show Lakshadweep and Andaman Islands in some of the maps, the SGI said.

The SGI also said that the maps were not in accordance with the Survey of India copyright map and is also against the National Map policy, 2005 and map restriction policy issued by ministry of defence from time to time. The ministry of external affairs also pointed out the airing of a wrong map by the channel.

In their reply to a show-cause Notice, Al Jazeera said that all maps that are displayed by them are generated by an internationally known software used by Global News Providers.

The channel also added that it takes Indian government's concerns about maps very seriously and accordingly reviews all its India and Pakistan maps to ensure compatibility with recent official UN map.

As per the order of the I&B ministry, the Inter Ministerial Committee (IMC) which was also attended by representatives of the MEA, after deliberations, held that the channel had clearly violated the provisions of the programme code and recommended to prohibit transmission or re-transmission of the channel throughout India for five days.


Sarika Pradhan of Gorkhali Sudhar Sabha felicitates Brave Soldiers

Gorkhali Sudhar Sabha in Dehradun of Sarika Pradhan has organised an 77th Gorkhali Sudhar Sabha. This is the oldest non political Gorkha Social Organization in Dehradun which was started on 17th April 1938.The Gorkhali Sudhar Sabha has over twenty five thousand members spread out in forty shakhas (branches). As part of the 'decade of veterans', a 'super' veteran felicitation function was organized at Gorkhali Sudhar Sabha. Sarika Pradhan gave away the Gorkha topis to all the member  by felicitating prominent individuals of the city who have been contributing to the society by their respective industry. The members who were felicitated included Lt Gen Shakti Gurung, Lt Gen RS Pradhan, Seema Thapa, Mahant Swami Kailashanand Saraswati and many others.

Sarika Pradhan said, " The event was unique of its kind to felicitate the 'super' veterans who dedicated the prime of their youth serving the Indian Army and also continue to lead a entire life with elan and pride in the society."

The function was attended by people who won the medal along with their parents. Over hundreds  soldiers of all ranks of the group attended the colourful Gorkhali Sudhar Sabha. " The recipients of gallantry awards who exhibited bravery and valour of an exceptional order in serving their duties in various parts of the country for India", Sarika added.


Gold prices fell as the auspicious 'Akshaya Tritiya' festival failed to generate any substantial buying activity for the precious metal

NEW DELHI: Gold prices fell by Rs 100 to close at Rs 27,100 per 10 grams at the bullion market on Tuesday as the auspicious 'Akshaya Tritiya' festival failed to generate any substantial buying activity for the precious metal amid a weak global trend.

Silver also dropped Rs 560 to Rs 36,440 per kg on reduced offtake by industrial units and coin makers.

Traders said apart from a weak trend in overseas markets as investors weighed a rally in equities and the dollar in the absence of any significant buying by jewellers, led to decline in gold prices.
Globally, gold in Singapore, which normally sets price trend on the domestic front, fell by 0.3 per cent to $1,192.29 an ounce.

They said, however, token retail purchase on auspicious occasion of Akshaya Tritiya limited the fall in the prices of the precious metals.

Akshaya Tritiya is considered to be an auspicious day to make token purchases of gold ornaments, jewellery, gold coins and other gold items.

In the national capital, gold of 99.9 and 99.5 per cent purity fell by Rs 100 each to Rs 27,100 and Rs 26,950 per 10 grams, respectively. It had gained Rs 125 yesterday.

Meanwhile, last year on 'Akshaya Tritiya', gold traded at Rs 30,390 per 10 grams.

The Sovereign, however, remained flat at Rs 23,700 per piece of eight grams in limited deals.

"The overall sentiment is weak for gold even on the auspicious 'Akshaya Tritiya', said Rakesh Anand, a local jewellers in the national capital.

Following gold, silver moved down by Rs 560 to Rs 36,440 per kg and weekly-based delivery by Rs 520 to Rs 36,125 per kg.

Silver coins also plunged by Rs 1,000 to Rs 55,000 for buying and Rs 56,000 for selling of 100 pieces.

source: agency

The nearly USD one billion worth of attack helicopters, missiles and other defense equipment being sold to Pakistan by the US will end up being used in the fight against India

NEW YORK: The nearly USD one billion worth of attack helicopters, missiles and other defense equipment being sold to Pakistan by the US will end up being used in the fight against India instead of being deployed against jihadists, according to a former Pakistani diplomat.

Pakistan's former Ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani said the Obama administration's decision to sell US-made attack helicopters, missiles and other equipment to Pakistan will "fuel conflict in South Asia without fulfilling the objective of helping the country fight Islamist extremists."

"Pakistan's failure to tackle its jihadist challenge is not the result of a lack of arms but reflects an absence of will. Unless Pakistan changes its worldview, American weapons will end up being used to fight or menace India and perceived domestic enemies instead of being deployed against jihadists," Haqqani wrote in the Wall Street Journal in the piece titled 'Why Are We Sending This Attack Helicopter to Pakistan'.

He said that given Pakistan's "past behavior", it is "likely" that the 15 AH-1Z Viper helicopters and 1,000 Hellfire missiles as well as communications and training equipment will be used against secular insurgents in southwest Balochistan province and along the disputed border in Kashmir rather than against the jihadists in the northwest.

"Competition with India remains the overriding consideration in Pakistan's foreign and domestic policies. By aiding Pakistan over the years—some USD 40 billion since 1950, the US has fed Pakistan's delusion of being India's regional military equal. Seeking security against a much larger neighbor is a rational objective but seeking parity with it on a constant basis is not," he said.

Haqqani said that instead of selling more military equipment to Pakistan, US officials should convince Islamabad that its ambitions of rivaling India are "akin to Belgium trying to rival France or Germany."

Drawing a comparison between the two South Asian nuclear- armed rivals, Haqqani said India's population is six times as large as Pakistan's while India's economy is 10 times bigger, with India's USD 2 trillion economy managing consistent growth whereas Pakistan's USD 245 billion economy growing sporadically and undermined by jihadist terrorism.

He said Pakistan continues to depend on Islamist ideology — through its school curricula, propaganda and Islamic legislation — to maintain internal nationalist cohesion, which inevitably encourages extremism and religious intolerance.

Haqqani recalled that between 1950 and 1969, the US gave USD 4.5 billion in aid to Pakistan partly in the hope of using Pakistani troops in anti-communist wars, but Pakistan did not contribute a single soldier for the wars in Korea or Vietnam but went to war with India over Kashmir in 1965.

Again during the 1980s, Pakistan "diverted" the US aid toward its "obsessive rivalry" with India, training insurgents to fight in Kashmir as well as in India's Punjab.

Haqqani said even after the December attack on a Peshawar school where the Taliban killed 160 people, including many schoolchildren, the "destruction, demobilisation, disarmament or dismantling" of Afghan Taliban and other radical groups is "clearly not on the Pakistani state's agenda."

"There has been no move against Kashmir-oriented jihadist groups," he added.