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20150528

Anil Kapoor revealed it was Amitabh Bachchan who suggested him of not taking a break from acting as the Bollywood megastar made a mistake by doing so

Actor Anil Kapoor revealed it was Amitabh Bachchan who suggested him of not taking a break from acting as the Bollywood megastar made a mistake by doing so.

Kapoor, who has been in the industry for almost 38 years now, said there was a time when he was pondering to take sabbatical but spoke to Bachchan who advised him not to go for it.

"I can't remember any best or worst phase of my career. For me it is always about reinvention and experimenting. I am consistent, steady and feel fortunate to be a part of good films. I remember we were shooting for Armaan... There was a time when I wanted to take sabbatical and I did speak to Amitabh ji about it," Kapoor told media.

"He (Bachchan) said he made the mistake of not working for some years and told me not to take a break. I have not taken ever. I respect him, I look upto him," he said.

In 1984, Bachchan took a break from acting and briefly entered politics and resigned after three years. In 1988, he returned to films, achieved success for a while but later saw a dull phase till popular game show Kaun Banega Crorepati happened in 2000.

Talking about the kind of risks that Kapoor took in his long career, he said, "I love experimenting, reinventing right from the beginning of my career. I have taken too many risks.. Dangerous risks. People expect me to do tapori roles and I do Ishwar, Lamhe, Biwi No 1, Taal, Welcome or do small cameos. I kept doing out of the box things."

The Mr India actor said he feels fortunate to have different roles offered to him from the starting of his career and most of the time things have worked in his favour.

Beside playing lead roles, Kapoor has also essayed character roles and has been appreciated both by critics and audience.

"I do strong characters like in Taal, Biwi No 1, Slumdog Millionaire, No Entry. I feel after a certain time, for longevity it is important to play strong roles," the 58-year-old actor said.

source: agency

Abhinav Bindra became the fourth Indian shooter to win a quota place for the Rio Olympics

NEW DELHI: Abhinav Bindra on Thursday became the fourth Indian shooter to win a quota place for the Rio Olympics after he finished sixth in the Men's 10m Air Rifle final at the ISSF Shooting World Cup in Munich.

Bindra, India's only individual Olympic gold medallist, shot a score of 122.4 in the final. He had shot 627.5 to qualify for the final in his pet event.

Ace Chinese shooter Zhu Qinan won the gold medal with 206 points in the final, while Vladimir Maslennikov of Russia settled for silver with 205.7 points.

Gagan Narang, Jitu Rai and Apurvi Chandela are the other Indians to have secured an Olympic quota earlier. Narang did so after finishing third in the 50m Rifle Prone Event of the ISSF World Cup at Fort Benning in USA earlier this month.

Chandela had secured the quota place by winning the bronze in the 10m Rifle at World Cup in Korea last month, while pistol ace Jitu Rai had won India's first Olympic quota place at the World Championships in Granada, Spain last year, when he won silver in the 50m Free Pistol event.

Each country can win a maximum of 30 quota places from a total of 15 shooting disciplines (including shotgun events), two each from each discipline.

If Bindra could make it to Rio, it will be his fifth consecutive Olympic Games.

The President of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), Raninder Singh was elated at Bindra securing another quota place for India.

"I never had any doubts about Abhinav securing a quota place for us sooner or later. He is not an Olympic champion for nothing. He is very clear about his goals and his preparations leading up to big events, is something every professional sportsman in this country should emulate. We have our fingers crossed for him for the Olympics," said Raninder.

source: agency

20150526

Industrialist Yash Birla, along with two Mumbai-based individuals behind City Limousines scam, are among five Indian nationals with Swiss bank accounts

BERNE: Industrialist Yash Birla, along with two Mumbai-based individuals behind City Limousines scam, are among five Indian nationals with Swiss bank accounts whose names have been made public in Switzerland's official gazette with regard to ongoing tax probes against them in India.

The others are Gurjit Singh Kochar, son-in-law of late realty baron Ponty Chadha, and a Delhi-based businesswoman Ritika Sharma.

The names of these five "Indian nationals" have been made public in Switzerland's Federal Gazette with regard to details sought about them by the Indian authorities.

Among these, some details have already been shared by the Swiss Federal Tax Administration (FTA) with India including about Birla and Sharma of Blessings Apparel.

These are in addition to the two other Indians - Sneh Lata Sawhney and Sangita Sawhney - whose names have also been made public in similar manner for being probed by the Indian tax authorities.

In the case of Sayed Mohamed Masood, being probed for a major ponzi scheme run from Mumbai through City Limousines, some details were shared by the Swiss authorities in the past. His accounts were also frozen a few years ago following a request from the Enforcement Directorate.

Fresh details about him and about Chaud Kauser Mohamed Masood have been sought by the Indian authorities, as per the notifications published in Switzerland's official gazette.

There was no reply to queries mailed to Birla's office, while repeated calls to Sharma did not elicit any response. Earlier also, when Birla's name had come out in a leaked HSBC list of Swiss bank accounts, he had declined to comment.

A family representative declined to comment on the notification issued about Kochar, who is believed to be outside India. He is facing probe by the Income Tax Department and other agencies for quite some time. No contact details were available for comments from Masoods.

Making public these names, the Swiss Federal Tax Administration (FTA) has asked them to file an appeal within 30 days before the Federal Administrative Court if they do not want their details to be shared with the Indian authorities under their 'mutual assistance' treaty on tax matters.

In the case of Birla and Ritika Sharma, whose details have been already shared by the Swiss authorities, the notifications also mention their addresses in India, but the information given to India has been withheld from the gazette.

No further details - other than their names and dates of birth - were made public for other "Indian nationals".

Similar is the case for other foreign nationals including the British, Spanish and Russians. In case of American and Israeli citizens, their full names have been withheld and they have been identified by their initials and dates of birth. At least 40 such 'final notices' have been published in the Swiss Federal Gazette so far this month, while more such names are expected to be published going forward.

The alleged stashing of wealth by Indians in Swiss banks has been a matter of great debate in India. The Indian government has been pushing the Swiss authorities for a long time to share information on the suspected tax evaders, while Switzerland has shared some details in cases where India has been able to provide some independent evidence of suspected tax evasion by Indian clients of Swiss banks.

While there was no reply to queries mailed to the FTA spokesperson in this regard, these names are being published in the Swiss Federal Gazette in the backdrop of the Swiss government being flooded with requests on suspected black money hoarders in Swiss banks from various countries including India.

As per these notices, the concerned persons can file an appeal before the Federal Administrative Court within 30 days, while providing the reasons and evidence in their support. Through these gazette notices, the Swiss FTA is also looking to give the concerned persons an opportunity to resort to legal remedies. These are the persons about whom foreign governments are requesting information.

As per a report in the 'Sonntagszeitung' weekly, the Swiss authorities have been "inundated with requests for assistance" and the nations that wanted to know details about their suspected tax-dodging citizens included "France, Germany, Russia, India and half a dozen other countries".

"Now, the authority will publish the names of those affected in the Federal Gazette, which is available to everyone on the internet," it said, while adding that those being named may include "well-known personalities".

As per the report, banks do not have much interest in contacting such customers as many no more hold the accounts.

It further said that questions have been raised about requests made by India and Germany being based on stolen data.

The report, however, quoted FTA's Alexandre Dumas as saying, "We are never sure if they are stolen data. However, there is the principle of faith".

Committing full support to India's fight against the black money menace, Switzerland last week had said its Parliament would soon consider changes in laws to look into the possibility of sharing information in cases being probed on the basis of stolen data of Swiss bank accounts.

Switzerland's Economic Affairs Minister Johann Schneider Ammann during his India visit on May 15 said that the Swiss government was sensitive to the fact that the issue of black money was very important for India and needed to be resolved.

"Switzerland has decided to follow international standards, including those framed by OECD, in sharing information and providing assistance to foreign countries probing such cases, but we have to ask our Parliament to make changes in our laws," he said.

Indian Parliament has recently passed a new black money law under which those found to be stashing illicit funds in foreign locations, including Swiss banks, would face strict penal action, including up to ten years in jail and a penalty of 90 per cent of funds in addition to 30 per cent tax levy.

However, a one-time 'compliance window' will be provided before the law comes into force and this would let the persons with foreign assets to come clean by payment of 30 per cent tax and 30 per cent penalty.

source: agency

Striking a conciliatory note, the Centre said it will not interfere with the functioning of the AAP government


KOLKATA/ NEW DELHI: Striking a conciliatory note, the Centre on Tuesday said it will not interfere with the functioning of the AAP government, a day after it was hauled by the Delhi high court over the "suspect" notification that gave the LG massive powers in some matters.

While affirming that there would be no interference by the Centre, Union home minister Rajnath Singh, however, said everybody should work within the constitutional framework.

"Everybody should work within the constitutional provisions. And I would like to add that Delhi government has been elected by the people and the central government will not create any hurdles in the functioning of Delhi government. We will also give them full cooperation," Singh told a press conference in Kolkata.

His comments came on a day the AAP government moved a resolution in the assembly against the Centre's notification giving "absolute" powers to the LG on transfer and posting of senior bureaucrats and restraining the anti-corruption bureau from probing central government employees.

In a boost for the AAP dispensation, locked in a bitter turf war with LG Najeeb Jung, the Delhi high court had on Monday termed as "suspect" the Centre's recent notification barring Delhi government's anti-corruption branch (ACB) from acting against its officers in criminal offences and held that the LG cannot act in his discretion.

The high court had noted that LG of government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) is bound to act upon the aid and advice of the council of ministers who are directly elected by the citizens of Delhi and the Centre's "executive fiat" siding with him is "suspect".

It observed that mandate of the people "must" be respected by the LG of GNCTD if there was no other "constitutional or legal fetter".

Singh said that the Narendra Modi government believes in constructive cooperative federalism.

"We feel and believe that there is a need for constructive and cooperative federalism. And that is the reason why we have increased the revenue sharing between the states and the Centre from 32 per cent to 42 per cent," Singh said.

source: agency

Defence minister Manohar Parrikar described the quality of Swedish Bofors guns as "good"

NEW DELHI: Defence minister Manohar Parrikar on Tuesday described the quality of Swedish Bofors guns as "good" but refused to comment on remarks attributed to President Pranab Mukherjee that the controversy surrounding its acquisition was a "media trial".

"I can only certify that Bofors guns are good. I do not make any statement on President's statement. If you ask me about quality of Bofors guns, then they are good," Parrikar told reporters here.

Mukherjee was quoted, wrongly, by a Swedish daily as saying, "First of all - it is yet to be to be established that there was a scandal. No Indian court has established it. I was the defence minister of the country long after Bofors, and all my generals certified that this is one of the best guns we are having. Till today, Indian army is using it.
 The scandal of procurement of 155mm howitzer field Bofors guns plagued the Rajiv Gandhi government in the late 1980s
"The so-called scandal which you talk of, yes, in the media, it was there. There was a media trial. But I'm afraid, let us not be too much carried (away) by publicity."

However, the video of the interview shows no such comments being made by the President, who is scheduled to visit Sweden next month.

The scandal of procurement of 155mm howitzer field Bofors guns plagued the Rajiv Gandhi government in the late 1980s and became a big election issue in 1989 in which the former Prime Minister had to face defeat.

source: agency

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi- led government marks its first year in office,American media has taken a critical view of his accomplishments

NEW YORK: As Prime Minister Narendra Modi- led government marks its first year in office on Tuesday, American media has taken a critical view of his accomplishments, saying his flagship 'Make in India' drive is "so far mostly hype", job growth remains sluggish amid "outsize expectations".

"India's Modi at One Year: 'Euphoria Phase' Is Over, Challenges Loom," reads a headline in the Wall Street Journal of an article on Modi's first year as Prime Minister.

"A year after Indian voters handed Narendra Modi a once-in-a-generation mandate for change and economic revival, messy realities are sinking in," the WSJ report said.

It said that Modi's 'Make in India' drive, aimed at supercharging manufacturing growth, " is so far mostly hype".

It cited economic parameters like exports to say that the "economy is merely limping along".

Inflation-adjusted lending for capital investment last year fell to a level not seen since 2004, it said adding that exports were down for the fifth straight month in April, corporate earnings were dismal and foreign institutional investors have pulled around USD 2 billion out of Indian stocks and bonds in May so far.

The New York Times, in a news analysis, said Modi must face the reality that much of his agenda is still only potential.

"From abroad, India is now seen as a bright spot, expected to pass China this year to become the world's fastest-growing large economy. But at home, job growth remains sluggish. Businesses are in wait-and-see mode. And Modi has political vulnerabilities, as parliamentary opposition leaders block two of his central reform initiatives and brand him 'anti-poor' and 'anti-farmer'," the NYT article titled 'After a Year of Outsize Expectations, Modi Adjusts His Political Course for India' said.

It said "most formidable of all is a problem" Modi has "made for himself: outsize expectations that he would sweep away constraints to growth in India, like stringent laws governing labour and land acquisition.

The NYT quoted senior vice president at leading Indian garment exporter Orient Craft's Vimarsh Razdan as saying that the Modi government's "image became larger than they themselves.

"They have become superheroes. And everyone knows superheroes don't exist," he said in the report.

The WSJ article said that while Modi has swaggered across stages from New York to Paris to Sydney, helping put the country back on investors' maps, "on other key fronts, Modi has moved less decisively, frustrating investors who hoped for bolder change after last year's election."

His government has avoided privatising state-run banks and companies, which could trigger unpopular job cuts.

Despite vows to improve India's reputation for unpredictable tax collection, the government has hit investors with demands for back taxes they say they should not have to pay, it said.
The leading US dailies did give credit where due to the Modi government, saying as he marks the anniversary of his swearing in, he can point to some accomplishments.

The WSJ report said Modi has allowed more foreign investment in railways and defence and helped cut red tape.

His government has also deregulated fuel prices and permitted private competition in coal mining--"market-friendly moves designed to attract investment."

His administration has also helped open millions of bank accounts for the poor and created new pension and insurance programs.

It quoted Krish Iyer, president and chief executive of Wal-Mart Stores Inc in India, as saying that the company is "seeing a lot of progress in ease of doing business. We feel encouraged by the market- and consumer-driven policies of the government."

The NYT analysis said chief executives feel that since Modi came to power, India's business culture has "indeed changed".

"They rejoice that they no longer have to notarize all documents submitted to the government and say that it is far easier to find bureaucrats at their desks during the workday," it said.

"By most measures, India's economy has had a good year," the NYT report said adding that India is heavily reliant on imported oil, and plunging prices have cut the cost of government fuel subsidies, allowing the authorities to rein in a chronic budget deficit.

Inflation fell to 4.87 per cent in April and foreign direct investment has risen by more than 25 per cent, to USD 28.8 billion in the 2014-15 fiscal year.

It noted other "flurry of changes" that the Modi government introduced including deregulating prices for diesel, petroleum and cooking gas, and raising limits on foreign investment in the defense and insurance sectors to 49 per cent.

Coalfield leases, found to have been sold at artificially low prices, were reallocated through a transparent process as were telecom spectrum allocations, it said.

source: agency

20150524

The sixth installment of "Mission: Impossible" franchise is under development

The sixth installment of "Mission: Impossible" franchise is under development.

Paramount, Bad Robot and Skydance Productions are currently developing the movie which is tentatively titled "Mission: Impossible 6".

According to Tracking Board website, Tom Cruise, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and J.J. Abrams would be all returning to produce the movie.


Don Granger and Matt Grimm, meanwhile, are set to serve as executive producers with Elizabeth Raposo set to oversee development on the upcoming action movie.

Cast members and production date have not yet been set, and plot details for the film have also not been revealed, , reports aceshowbiz.com.

Meanwhile, "Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation", the fifth installment, is slated to be released on July 31 this year in the US.

The action-adventure-thriller sees Tom Cruise returning to reprise his role as Ethan Hunt. It also stars the likes of Simon Pegg, Alec Baldwin, as well as Jeremy Renner among others.

source: agency

Government is likely to make psychometric test mandatory for assessing the mental health of pilots of domestic carriers

NEW DELHI: Government is likely to make psychometric test mandatory for assessing the mental health of pilots of domestic carriers, a move which comes against the backdrop of a Germanwings co-pilot deliberately crashing a plane in the Alps in March.

"If it is in wider interest of safety of passengers and civil aviation industry, we will make it mandatory," Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma said.

The Minister said aviation regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), has already initiated the process of formulating new norms for assessing the mental fitness of pilots.

"After the Germanwings incident, we have to be very cautious of having this test also as a mandatory test," he said.

A Germanwings co-pilot had deliberately crashed a plane in the Alps in March, leaving 150 people dead. The co-pilot is believed to have suffered some sort of mental breakdown.

As of now national carrier Air India has made psychometric test mandatory for recruitment of trainee pilots (commercial pilot license holders).

Air India had for the first time availed the services of a psychologist from IAF for conducting psychological tests during a recent recruitment drive of trainee pilots in which 56 aspirants failed to make the cut.

The aspirants, who failed to make the cut, had termed the entire process as "flawed."

To a question, the Minister said, "Once we make the guidelines, we don't wait for the reaction and the response of the people. So the question of accepting (it) or not accepting does not come."

Sharma, however, said all stakeholders would be consulted prior to formulation of new regulations to elicit their suggestions.


source: agency

India is set to become water scarce country by 2025

MUMBAI: Although India is set to become water scarce country by 2025 due to demand-supply mis-match, the water sector is expected to see investment of USD 13 billion from overseas players in the next few years, a new study has said.

"India's demand for water is expected to exceed all current sources of supply and the country is set to become water scarce country by 2025.

 India's demand for water is expected to exceed all current sources of supply and the country is set to become water scarce country by 2025
"With increasing household income and increasing contributions from the service and industrial sectors, the water demand in the domestic and industrial sectors increasing substantially," says a study conducted by EA Water, a leading consulting firm in water sector.

Nearly 70 per cent of country's irrigation and 80 per cent of domestic water use comes from groundwater, which is rapidly getting depleted.

However, overseas players from Canada, Israel, Germany, Italy, United States, China and Belgium sees big investment opportunity worth USD 13 billion in the domestic water sector.

The industry is expected to receive Rs 18,000 crore in the next three years, the report said.

The country provides huge opportunities across the spectrum in infrastructure development for water supply and wastewater management.

The industrial market is going to be the big opportunity till 2020, with growth in wastewater recycling and industrial water treatment, the report said.

Maharashtra is emerging as a hub for the water sector. Over 12 international companies have already set up design and engineering centers in Mumbai and Pune.

At present, there are more than 1,200 companies dealing in water and wastewater treatment in the state, mainly cater to the small & medium sector.

Pune and Nashik are going to be large hubs for manufacturing & fabrication industry in pumps, instrumentation & monitoring equipment.

A centralised wastewater treatment & recycling plants is under planning stage for Mumbai and Pune city, the report said.

With Modi government's planned investments in the water sector through the Ganga River Cleaning project, the Smart Cities initiative and the Swachh Bharat campaign, the industry is also hopeful of creating over 1 million jobs, it said.

source: agency

20150523

Actor Aamir Khan, who keeps losing and gaining weight for his films according to the demand of the scripts, says it worries his mother and wife

Actor Aamir Khan, who keeps losing and gaining weight for his films according to the demand of the scripts, says it worries his mother and wife.

The actor has now gained weight for Dangal, in which he plays a wrestler, and weighs 95 kg at present.

"I am 95 kg right now and that's enough for the character. My breathing has changed... when I tie my laces, my stomach comes in between. After 20 seconds, I have to (take a long) breath," Aamir told reporters here.

"My mom and my wife are very worried about my health as they feel I am playing with my health. Even I feel the same," he added.

The actor says he will lose weight and will be back in shape once the project is over.

"By December (2015), we will finish the shooting, and in the next five months I will lose weight and then have one more schedule in the month of June, where my character is young. When the film will come to an end, I will be back to the PK look," said the 'Mr. Perfectionist', who flaunted eight-pack abs in Ghajini.

source: agency

Google has filed a patent for toys that pay attention to who is in a room and can interact with other media devices


SAN FRANCISCO: Google has filed a patent for toys that pay attention to who is in a room and can interact with other media devices.

The US Patent and Trademark Office shared diagrams depicting what resembled rabbit and bear toys with microphones in their ears, cameras in their eyes, speakers in their mouths and motors in their necks.

The envisioned devices were described as being able to listen for someone, turn a head to make "eye contact," hear what they say and respond with pre-recorded phrases.

The toys would be able to wirelessly communicate using Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or other means with cloud-based computers or manage other media devices, perhaps turning on songs or movies at children's commands.

Patent paperwork proposes that such a toy-like device could serve as an "intelligent remote control" that makes managing home entertainment or automation systems simple.

"The anthropomorphic device may be a doll or a toy that resembles a human, an animal, a mythical creature or an inanimate object," the published patent said.

The toys could also be imbued with face and voice recognition, making the devices able to recognize who they were "looking at," paperwork showed.

The Google patent listed Richard Wayne DeVaul and Daniel Aminzade as inventors. The application for the patent was filed in February of 2012.

courtesy - AFP

20150522

Honda Cars India announced expansion of its production facility in Tapukara, Rajasthan with an investment of Rs 380 crore

JAIPUR: Honda Cars India today announced expansion of its production facility in Tapukara, Rajasthan with an investment of Rs 380 crore.

The company is planning to complete the expansion by mid next year which will ramp up its capacity by 50 per cent to 1.8 lakh cars per annum.

"We will launch the third generation Honda Jazz in July this year and this car will be fully manufactured in Tapukara plant where we are increasing our production capacity from 1.2 lakh units to 1.8 lakh units per annum by mid-2016 with an investment of Rs 380 crore," Honda Cars India senior vice-president and director Raman Sharma said.

The plant currently manufactures Honda City and also some volume of Honda Amaze.

With robust response to its models, including sedans City and Amaze, the company has witnessed 41 per cent growth in domestic sales during the last fiscal at 1,89,602 units.

The passenger cars manufacturing company also announced to strengthen its dealership network and product portfolio in the country.

"Currently, we have a network of 232 dealers in the country and we are aiming to increase it to 300 dealers by the end of this financial year," he said.

The Tapukara plant had started assembly operations in February 2014.

It integrates various functions, including operations for forging, casting, stamping, power-train components production, painting, engine assembly and frame assembly, as well as an engine testing facility.

source: agency

Around 200 Buddhist monks and nuns were killed when about 1,000 monasteries collapsed in the massive April 25 earthquake and subsequent aftershocks in Nepal

KATHMANDU: Around 200 Buddhist monks and nuns were killed when about 1,000 monasteries collapsed in the massive April 25 earthquake and subsequent aftershocks in Nepal, according to authorities.

Buddhist philosophy promotion and monastery development committee (BPPMDC), under the ministry of federal affairs and local development, said that all 215 monasteries in Sindhupalchok district were flattened due to impact of the earthquake.

A total of 150 Buddhist monasteries collapsed in Gorkha, 105 in Dhading, 60 in Rasuwa and 60 in Solukhumbu.

Monasteries also collapsed in Nuwakot, Dolakha, Ramechhap, Okhaldhunga, Makwanpur, Lamjung and Syangja districts as well.

Some well-known monasteries include Seto Gumba in Ramkot; Rato Gumba in Sitapaila, both located in the outskirt of Kathmandu; Khumchey Gumba in Gorkha; Chrighyang Gumba in Dolakha and Chirite Gumba in Sindhupalchok. Around 200 monks and nuns killed as monasteries collapsed.

Karma Tsering Tashi Lama, president of the BPPMDC, who recently visited many of the earthquake-hit areas in Sindhupalchok and Rasuwa, said he did not see a single monastery that stands intact.

"The monasteries we visited had either fallen or were on the verge of collapse," said Lama.

The Buddhist committee said it has deployed teams to collect the details of destruction in coordination with the local authorities.

source: agency

There are "no immediate chances" of revival of cricketing ties between India-Pakistan - Rajeev Shukla

CHANDIGARH: Amid speculation over the fate of the proposed India-Pakistan series, IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla on Friday said there are "no immediate chances" of revival of cricketing ties between the two countries.

PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan had recently met his Indian counterpart Jagmohan Dalmiya in Kolkata and then BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur in New Delhi to host a bilateral series in December in UAE.

According to an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) signed between the two boards, India and Pakistan had agreed to play six bilateral series until 2022, but Shukla said that a number things need to be worked out before giving the go-ahead to the proposed series by PCB.

"Though talks between the boards of two countries have held recently, but there are no immediate chances of revival of cricketing ties between India and Pakistan," Shukla said.

"But there are two to three issues which need to be sought before taking a final decision on resuming India-Pakistan cricketing ties," he added.

India suspended all bilateral series with Pakistan in the wake of the 2008 attacks and Shukla clarified that they are not in favour of playing at a neutral venue.

"As per itinerary, India will have to play in Pakistan, but at present it's not possible and we are also not in favour of playing at a neutral venue," he said.

Shukla asserted that the series can only happen after a government clearance.

"There is no final decision yet taken on resumption of ties," he said.

Shukla also informed that the Pakistan board had desired to play in India, but there are revenue problems involved.

source: agency

20150521

Greenpeace is determined to keep operating in India even after the central government froze its bank accounts

NEW DELHI: Greenpeace is determined to keep operating in India even after the central government froze its bank accounts, leaving it with no funds to pay wages to hundreds of staff, its country head said on Thursday.

The home ministry blocked foreign funding to the local branch of the environmentalist group in April as part of a wider crackdown against international and domestic non-governmental organizations (NGOs) found to have misreported foreign aid.

Greenpeace took legal action against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government after bureaucrats found holes in its balance sheet and suspended transactions for six months.

"The government has made it impossible for us to operate but our employees are willing to work without pay for one month because they see that the larger commitment has always been to fight against injustice," said Greenpeace India head Samit Aich.


Greenpeace workers — who have campaigned against genetically modified crops, nuclear power and toxic waste management — said their activism did not hurt the country's economy.

Aich said the government's attempts to silence rights groups was attracting fresh funds and their support was growing despite the crackdown. Greenpeace says it has more than 75,000 domestic donors but all of its local bank accounts have been blocked.

Ministry officials say an audit of Greenpeace's accounts showed that Rs 60 million ($943,000) in foreign funds were not accounted for and the money was paid directly to activists to obstruct development projects.

"We have evidence to show that Greenpeace was paying villagers to become obstructionists. The accounts in which they receive domestic aid have not been frozen, so why are they complaining?" BK Prasad, a senior home ministry official, told Reuters.

Prasad, who is overseeing the crackdown against NGOs, said the action against Greenpeace in April exposed the extent of fraud in civil society groups.

The government has also placed the Ford Foundation, a prominent private US foundation that makes grants to Indian NGOs, on a watch list.

It has also appointed auditors to investigate the finances of charities funded by the foundation run by Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda.

Prasad said prominent charities were violating the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act — a law that bars overseas donations to NGOs of a "political nature". The US state department has sought clarification over the restrictions.

courtesy- reuters

Heat wave claimed 12 lives in Telangana taking the toll to 30 in two days

HYDERABAD: Heat wave claimed 12 lives in Telangana on Thursday, taking the toll to 30 in two days, unofficial sources said.

The daily wage labourers, petty traders and people living on streets are the worst-hit.

Heat wave conditions have been sweeping the state the past two days with all ten districts recording day temperatures of at least 42 degrees Celsius.

Nizamabad, Nalgonda and Ramagundem sizzled at 46 degrees, Adilabad recorded 45 degrees.

The maximum temperature in Mahabubnagar was 44 degrees while Hyderabad, Karimnagar and other towns registered 43 degrees Celsius.

Three heat wave deaths were reported from Khammam and two from Warangal district on Thursday. A death each was also reported from Hyderabad, Adilabad, Medak, Nalgonda, Nizamabad, Medak, Mahabubnagar and Ranga Reddy districts.

Meanwhile, the Met centre at Hyderabad has issued heat wave warning in the state for the next three days.

Meteorological department officials have attributed the rise in day temperatures to the dry north-western and northern winds.

The heat wave conditions have hit the normal life in the state. The streets in most towns and cities were deserted as people preferred to remain indoors to escape the sweltering heat.

The cool drink shops, sugarcane and other fruit juice vendors and coconut sellers have been doing brisk business.

Heat wave conditions also prevailed in Andhra Pradesh. The maximum temperature of 44 degrees celsius was recorded at Vijayawada and Nandigama.

The heat wave had claimed over 1,000 lives in the undivided Andhra Pradesh during 2013 while more than 200 people died last year.

source: agency

FMCG major Nestle may face more action by the UP Food Safety and Drug Administration

NEW DELHI: FMCG major Nestle may face more action by the UP Food Safety and Drug Administration, which is testing more batches of Maggi after ordering recall of a batch of about 2 lakh packs of the instant noodles due to higher than permitted levels of lead and a food additive.

The UP FDA last month asked Nestle India to withdraw a batch of Maggi noodles "which were manufactured in February 2014" after it found high levels of added monosodium glutamate (MSG), a taste enhancer, in the noodles and lead beyond permissible limits.

"As a precautionary measure, the UP FDA has picked up samples of three-four more batches in April this year for testing after the previous report came. The lab test results of those batches are still awaited," Barbanki district food officer VK Pandey told media .

He said the earlier tests by the UP FDA found that the levels of the chemicals were higher than permitted.

What the company had claimed about the absence of MSG in Maggi has found to be incorrect in the test, Pandey said.

On lead content, he said, "it has been established in the report that it is beyond the tolerance level of 2.5 parts per million (ppm). It is 17.2 ppm."

He said it was on the basis of the test report that Maggi was declared "unsafe and injurious to health".

"We have asked Nestle 10-15 days back to recall all the Maggi noodles of that particular batch," UP FDA additional commissioner (administration) Ram Araj Maurya said.

When contacted, Nestle India said on April 30, 2015, local authorities in Lucknow asked it to recall one batch of Maggi Noodles, around two lakh packs, "which were manufactured in February 2014 and had already reached the 'Best Before date' in November 2014."

Disputing the UP FDA claim, Nestle India said: "The company does not agree with the order and is filing the requisite representations with the authorities."

It further added: "We are aware of reports that tests by the local authorities have detected monosodium glutamate (MSG) in a sample of MAGGI Noodles and that they are continuing their investigation. We have submitted product samples to an independent accredited laboratory and will share the results with the authorities."

source: agency

20150519

Union minister Nitin Gadkari ruled out going back on the land bill

NEW DELHI: Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday ruled out going back on the land bill but said the government was open to incorporating more amendments which are in the interest of farmers.

Government's key pointsman with other parties on the bill, Gadkari alleged that Congress was opposing the bill for political reasons as part of its agenda to spread disinformation against the government.

"There is no question of going back on the land bill ... Whatever is in the interests of the nation will be done forcefully," the road transport minister told media  in an interview.

Gadkari said the government has been speaking to opposition parties to get their support in Rajya Sabha, where NDA lacks in numbers, and noted BJD's decision to support the bill.

He was asked how the government would cobble up numbers in Rajya Sabha for the passage of the bill.

To a question if the government was willing to bring in more amendments to accommodate opposition, he noted that nine of them have already been brought in and the government was open to "good" suggestions.

"If the amendments are good, then Prime Minister Narendra(Modi), our government will (accept)," he said.

Gadkari, however, made it clear that the government was committed to pressing ahead with the legislation in Parliament irrespective of the stand of the opposition parties.

"BJD has come out in our support on the land bill. We were accused of being arrogant, now we are going to everybody with folded hands... If they come, it is good; if they oppose we will continue to move forward," he said.

To another query on reservation expressed by BJP allies Shiv Sena and Swabhiman Paksha, Gadkari said each one has his own axe to grind and used a Hindi proverb, "looking somewhere, targeting something else".

Succumbing to the opposition pressure, the government has sent the contentious bill to a joint committee of Parliament, which is scheduled to submit its report in the beginning of the monsoon session. The government has promulgated the land ordinance twice so far in the absence of parliamentary nod.

source: agency

20150518

Shah Rukh Khan's knee pain has not deterred the superstar from shooting a folk dance sequence for upcoming film Raees

Shah Rukh Khan's knee pain has not deterred the superstar from shooting a folk dance sequence for upcoming film Raees. The 49-year-old actor, who was busy with his IPL team Kolkata Knight Riders, took to Twitter to inform about the pain.

"Ok then. Finally called for the shot. Knee paining so have to go & rehearse my Garbha.... All you beautiful people Khuda Hafiz. And smile a lot," tweeted Shah Rukh. Directed by Rahul Dholakia, Raees is an upcoming Indian action-thriller which also stars Pakistani actress Mahira Khan.

Set in 1980s Gujarat, the film tells the story of a bootlegger whose business is thwarted by a tough policeman. It is scheduled for release on Eid 2016.

source: agency

NDA will form a government in the state : Ram Vilas Paswan

PATNA: Asserting that vote bank of rival parties had "ruptured" in Bihar, Lok Janshakti Party president and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Monday claimed NDA will form a government in the state "with two-third majority" in the Assembly polls due later this year.

"Whether it is due to JD(U) rebels led by Jitan Ram Manjhi or RJD dissidents led by Pappu Yadav, the vote bank of Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad has ruptured. NDA's vote bank is neutral and united. We will form a government with two-third majority here after elections, which will be possibly held in September-October," Union Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan Paswan told reporters.

Dismissing reports on a tussle among NDA constituents over Chief Ministerial candidate and seat-sharing in the coming elections, Paswan said his party would "accept and support whoever the BJP announces as the CM candidate."

"With regard to seat-sharing, all three NDA constituents in Bihar - BJP, LJP and Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) will decide on it together when the time comes. Our sole aim will be to win all seats that we contest," he said.

The LJP chief was talking to reporters at his party headquarters here where his actor-turned-politician son and Jamui MP Chirag Paswan was also present.

Meanwhile, commenting on the merger of six Janata Parivar parties, Paswan said he had always held it was just a merger of batons and not of parties.

"Now all of them have started wielding their sticks. Nobody is willing to accept Nitish Kumar as the leader here. RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh is already saying his party will contest 145 out of 243 Assembly seats here," he said.

The Union minister also said that Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav, who has been authorized by the six Janata Parivar parties including JD(U), RJD, JD(S), SJP and INLD, would not be ready for the merger as he "understands it will complicate matters and create problems".

source: agency

Pakistani army "caught India by throat" and that India will never forget the war: Pervez Musharraf

KARACHI: Recalling the Kargil conflict, Pakistan's former military dictator General Pervez Musharraf on Sunday said the Pakistani army "caught India by throat" and that India will never forget the war.

"There was a second line force, too, which caught India by throat and that was later given the status of army," Musharraf said, addressing a ceremony of his All Pakistan Muslim League (APML).

Musharraf, who masterminded the 1999 Kargil conflict and ruled over Pakistan for nine years, said India will always "remember the battle of Kargil", the Geo News reported.

"We entered Kargil from four points of which India was not aware," the former Pakistan president said,

In May 1999, India and Pakistan, in their most serious military engagement since 1971, clashed in Kargil area of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir after militants backed by Pakistani troops occupied the mountain peaks of Kargil.

Speaking on the occasion, the former army chief also announced that his political party will take part in upcoming local bodies election in the country.

source: agency

A message written by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his native language during a visit to a Chinese temple, went through three rounds of translation

BEIJING: A message written by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his native language during a visit to a Chinese temple, went through three rounds of translation before it could be understood by monks, media reported.

In his message to the Daxingshan Temple in Xi'an in Shaanxi province in the course of his three-day visit to China, the Prime Minister on Thursday praised a monk, Dharmagupta, a fellow Gujarati who lived at the temple during the Sui Dynasty, for his contributions to Buddhism and spoke of the monk's search for world peace, Global Times reported.

However, his insights were lost on the monks; the message was in Modi's native Gujarati, a language that has few speakers in China, said Li Li'an, a professor from Xi'an's Northwest University.

Li was first approached by the temple's abbot to decipher the dedication. Li then sent it to his doctoral student Guan Xiujie, a native of India.

Recognising it as Gujarati, Guan sent the text to an Indian friend who translated it to Hindi. Guan then translated it into English, which Li finally presented in Chinese.

source: agency

Former Grand Slam doubles tennis champion Bob Hewitt was sentenced to six years in prison by a South African court

JOHANNESBURG: Former Grand Slam doubles tennis champion Bob Hewitt was sentenced to six years in prison by a South African court on Monday after being found guilty of two counts of rape and a charge of sexual assault of minors, local media reported.

The Australian-born Hewitt, 75, was found guilty of assaulting three under-age girls during his time coaching children in South Africa in the 1980s and 1990s.

Before sentencing, Hewitt pleaded with the court to take his poor health into consideration and said he had received anonymous threats warning of assault if he was put behind bars, Talk Radio 702 reported.

Hewitt also told the court that he had suffered a stroke in 2010 and a heart attack in 2011.

The court extended Hewitt's bail until Tuesday when his legal team will appeal the sentence, the radio reported.

Hewitt won nine Grand Slam doubles and six Grand Slam mixed doubles titles in the 1960s and 1970s.

He also reached the semifinals of the men's singles at the Australian Open three times, and won the Davis Cup with South Africa in 1974 after settling there.

courtesy- reuters

Teekli Village set to become the first model village of Gurgaon

DLF Foundation adopts Teekli village of Gurgaon to transform it into a model village

DLF Foundation in collaboration of CFBI (Citizens Foundation for Better India) adopted Teekli village of Sohna Mandal, Gurgaon district under its Gram Vikas Project to boost Centre's ambitious village adoption drive. The Gram Vikas Project was launched by Sh. Ved Parkash Yadav, Sarpanch, Teekli Village. Mr. Baljeet Singh, Vice President, DEDL, Ritesh Sinha, Head Village Cluster Development Program, DLF Foundation along with the officials of CFBI and DLF Foundation were also part of the inauguration. The inauguration was witnessed by more than 400 villagers of the Teekli Village.



Under the Gram Vikas Project, Foundation will work on developing Teekli across six major domains- health, education, infrastructure, waste management, livelihood and agriculture which will benefit more than 15,000 people living in around 1,390 households.  As a part of the immediate steps at the village school, DLF seeks to implement a wide range of activities to improve the quality of education for the children. This will include need analysis of children, teachers, school, family members of children and community; construction of a resource centre for activity learning; provision of safe drinking water; mobile library; improving general sanitation; sensitization of teachers, parents and community members; community education; active advocacy and involvement of local government machinery, especially education authorities for school improvement. Computer labs, science labs and other co-curricular activities in sports, performing arts will also be introduced. In view of the lack of healthcare facilities available in the village, Foundation will also establish a 'PHC' which will serve as a primary health centre providing comprehensive check-ups to all sections of the village community. This Centre will also extend its services to the cluster villages around the Teekli village. Similarly, the Foundation would look into fixing the problems of youth unemployment by organizing skilling programs.



Speaking on the occasion, Ritesh Sinha, Head, Village Cluster Development Program, DLF Foundation, said "Through this project we are aiming to adopt villages in different parts of the country and contribute to the well-being of the community as well help them become self-sustainable after a while. We believe that we should create pride in the minds of all those, who associate with us and such community initiatives bring a positive vibe for others”.



Sh. Ved Parkash Yadav, Sarpanch, Teekli Village said, “We are really thankful to DLF Foundation for initiating this program in our village. Each and every individual of this village is contented and hopeful of this initiative. They have started the program on a very positive note of cleanliness and we ensure that we will extend our full support to them".

Shrimati Murti Devi, 58, the native of Teekli Village said, “Proper sanitation and clean drinking water is the biggest problem that we face. I hope that this Gram Vikas Project of DLF Foundation will take care of all this. We request that proper sanitation facilities for women and children should be the priority of this initiative”.

DLF Foundation has been involved in various community welfare programs in the past and this project is an attempt to build a progressive self-reliant rural community.The initial campaign, which has been launched under Gram Vikas project, Swach Teekli, Swasth Teekli, aims to support the village with core interventions in Cleanliness Environment. This campaign will start from 17th May itself. Along with the motive of cleanliness, a rally is also being organized for mobilizing the village community so that active participation of villagers can be ensured during the entire Gram Vikas project. The team of DLF Foundation will also conduct a need assessment exercise post the cleanliness drive. This will help the team to finalize on interventions required for each of the six domains. For example, for waste management the team may consider setting up a system for collecting waste from individual households and creating trenching grounds and vermin compost pits for disposing off the waste.

During the inauguration, awareness videos on various social issues and a glimpse of the future endeavors of how Teekli will be transformed into a model village were screened.With this adoption, the Foundation has added yet another milestone to its Corporate Social Responsibility programs and aims to expand these further in the country. The recent example of DLF Foundation’s self-sustainable initiatives are “Kachre se Kamai” (Solid waste management plant) and RO water purifiers in Hassanpur, Nawada Fatehpur, Kakrola and Dabaripur Village near Gurgaon. “Kachre se Kamai” has been lauded by the Sarpanch, the members of Panchayat from different villages and large number of villagers who has been directly or indirectly benefited.

Towards realizing the dream of a Clean India

WeSchool takes a lead in Swachh Bharat Abhiyan by installing a biogas plant at its campus



Mumbai: With various schemes of solid waste management at state and city level remaining at planning level, the overfilled garbage dumps in and around the MMRDA Zone become breeding grounds for a number of health hazards that ail the Mumbaikars. Solid waste management is among the basic essential services provided by municipal authorities in the country to keep the urban areas clean. The situation becomes critical as the urban population keeps growing in the booming cities, making cleanliness just a word on the board.



Inspired by PM Modi’s call for Swachh Bharat, Welingkar Institute of Management Development and Research, (WeSchool), Matunga, took a lead by installing a biogas plant at its campus which was inaugurated at the hands of Padmavibhushan Dr. R. A. Mashelkar recently. He was joined by Padmabhushan Prof Dr J B Joshi, former Director, UDCT and Bharatkumar Raut, veteran journalist and former MP.



The Biogas unit installed at WeSchool will use the wet waste generated in the cafeteria of the campus to produce clean energy that can fulfill a part of its energy consumption. The 6 cubic meter installation comes from a Cleantech company that had participated in the India Sweden Energy Accelerator (ISIA) at WeSchool last year, where Swedish as well as Indian corporates with interests in Green Energy had come together to form teams with MBA students who undertook an extensive study for 4 months that could enable the Swedish Innovative Companies to create business models to facilitate technology transfer and market entrance in India. This environment friendly initiative will enable the institute to manage the solid waste at source in an easier and efficient manner; it will also bring in reduction in the usage of LPG gas cylinders.



While talking about WeSchool’s new initiative, Prof Dr Uday Salunkhe, Group Director said, “Institutions like WeSchool collaborate with all stakeholders for creating awareness, changing their mind-sets and empowering them for better governance, economic prosperity and sustainable environment. We expect that our young managers should become responsible citizens by moving from responsive to transformative contributors to the society. Together we can transform India and become contributors to change in the global context.”



WeSchool had earlier conducted a roundtable, ‘Swachh Bharat- Naya Prayaas’, under the leadership of Padmavibhushan Dr R. A. Mashelkar, aimed at creating structures to bring about a positive change in every household in the country in the space of health,hygine and sanitation . The findings were presented to the Expert committee on Water and Sanitation set up by Government of India, headed by Dr Mashelkar that formed the agenda as well as action plan for Mission 2019 as envisioned by PM Narendra Modi.



While applauding the efforts made by WeSchool by actively participating in the National agenda, Dr Mashelkar said, “The renewable landscape is changing rapidly. This dynamic phase that the country is going through gives us an opportunity to introduce new and innovative products as well as concepts to address these energy issues. Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan is about transformation. Educational institutes like WeSchool can contribute immensely in this process and turn our PM’s vision into reality. Together we can do it.” The veteran scientist had a special word of praise for the faculty and students who had done the initial study and formulated the plan for market entry of the Swedish Cleantech companies in India.



The philosophy of sustainable development that WeSchool has adopted reflects in many other measures taken to make its campus eco friendly. Some of these include installation of solar panels at its hostels, recycling of grey water, minimization of packaged water bottles, discontinuation of offering floral tributes to guests at functions, abolition of paper napkins from the toilets and many others. MBA students from WeSchool had also taken the lead in carrying out the cleanliness audit of a MCGM Ward and had contributed area wise detailed pointers to the authorities based on their findings like - spaces in housing societies, shopping areas and abandoned old cars where garbage is accumulated, spitting nuisance, lack of proper signage, plastic and water logging, broken garbage bins, unused drainage pipes cluttering the area and many more. A comprehensive report combining the observations and evaluation was submitted to the authorities for setting up an agenda for further action towards healthy ecosystems and improved quality of life in the city.



About WeSchool:

Established in 1977, Prin. L. N. Welingkar Institute of Management Development & Research (WeSchool) features among the premier Business Schools in India. Run by charitable Trust S.P. Mandali, Pune, all across the state of Maharashtra, WeSchool is ranked 10th out of 200 institutes in India as per the Annual Times B-School 2015 survey. The same survey has also ranked WeSchool as 2nd best institute in the West zone and among the top 10 institutes recognized for providing global exposure to the students, following industry relevant pedagogy and having renowned faculty members. WeSchool’s goal is to use the power of the amalgamation of design and management thinking and truly redesign the way education can make a meaningful difference to students, and society that is visible through actions and outcome.

20150517

Hindus seek to scatter cremated remains in all Canadian rivers after Ontario Park permits


 Welcoming the announcement of Bronte Creek Park Oakville (Ontario) permitting scattering of cremated remains of loved ones, Hindus are urging parks of all ten provinces and three territories of Canada to do the same.



A sign in Bronte Creek Provincial Park, a unit of Ontario Parks, says: "Families and individuals who wish to scatter cremated remains of a loved one can do so in Bronte Creek Provincial Park on both land and in water."



Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, commended Ontario Parks for having a feel for the religious sentiments of area Hindu community and respecting their traditions.



Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, noted that it was a step in the positive direction and urged authorities in all the ten provinces and three territories to allow Hindus and others to scatter the ashes of loved ones in their rivers, carving designated scattering areas.



Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal.



Bronte Creek Provincial Park contains Bronte Creek Ravine and a 1.8 acre outdoor pool and is open every day except for Christmas Day.

20150516

'Piku' response has been overwhelming : Deepika Padukone

Her act as a selfless daughter, who spends more time listening to her father's constipation tales than on her professional or marital pursuits in 'Piku', has garnered an "overwhelming" response for actress Deepika Padukone. But the most heartening has been the response from people who have expressed a wish to "adopt" her. Directed by Shoojit Sircar, 'Piku' is an endearing father-daughter tale, with megastar Amitabh Bachchan essaying the role of Deepika's onscreen dad. Their chemistry is natural, relatable and pleasing despite being one full of arguments. What also stands out is Deepika's subdued and subtle camaraderie with Irrfan Khan in the film.

"The response has been overwhelming," Deepika told media  in an interview post the film's release. Her character is independent and free-spirited.

"I think we had all thought that it's a sweet film and that people will connect with it, but none of us had expected it to become this big. It's gone beyond our own control. The biggest compliment for me has been... I know it may sound funny, but a lot of people want to adopt me," said the 29-year-old.

She says it's been the "biggest compliment". "Multiple people have told me that they want to adopt me after watching 'Piku', and that's very overwhelming," said Deepika, who in real life, is the daughter of former badminton ace Prakash Padukone. Deepika, who also features in a brand's emotional advertisement about a daughter's love towards her mother, says her biggest critic is her family. But even they were speechless after watching 'Piku'. "My family is my biggest critic. They always watch my films, but they would always say 'This could have been a little better'. But, for the first time, after watching this film ('Piku'), there was an absolute silence when they called me. "They were so overwhelmed by what they had seen that they were just lost for words," she added.

The success of 'Piku' also shows how a movie can work even without extensive multi-city promotions, skin show, a lip-lock scene or the song-and-dance formula. "It depends on the story and what the characters are trying to convey. 'Piku' is a story of a daughter and her journey and how she tries to be perfect in every role. She is trying to do so many things and do them all perfectly. 'Piku' is different and didn't require all of that," she said.

Considering that Deepika has had quite a winning streak with movies like 'Cocktail', 'Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela', 'Chennai Express' and 'Happy New Year', how does she choose her films? "There is no formula... If I find a script and if I feel the director can justify it, I go ahead and do it. I follow my heart and my gut feeling," she said.

"The reaction that 'Piku' has got, the kind of scripts that I am getting and with the kind of actors I am getting to work with, it's a very exciting time for me right now," added the actress, who will next be seen in films like 'Tamasha' with Ranbir Kapoor and 'Bajirao Mastani' with Ranveer Singh.

source: agency

Hillary and Bill Clinton earned over $25 million for delivering more than 100 speeches since 2014

WASHINGTON: Hillary and Bill Clinton earned over $25 million for delivering more than 100 speeches since 2014, according to financial disclosure forms released by the Clinton campaign.

Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, also earned $5 million in royalties for her book, "Hard Choices," which was released in June, according to the forms.

The Clintons' income puts them at least in the top 0.1 per cent of the US population, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Economic inequality has been a top campaign theme for Democrats for the past several years and Clinton in April voiced concern about the hefty paychecks of some corporate executives in an email to supporters.

But the Clintons themselves have faced criticism for high speaking fees, which for Hillary Clinton have gone up to $250,000 since she left the helm of the State Department in 2013. Liberals have criticized her for taking money from financial institutions, including Goldman Sachs, for speeches they say make her beholden to big business.

Last year, Hillary Clinton was criticized for saying she and her husband were "dead broke" when they left the White House in 2001, even though Bill Clinton made millions of dollars giving speeches after his presidency.

Republican presidential contender Marco Rubio also filed disclosure forms with the Federal Election Commission, the Washington Post reported.

They show the US senator from Florida owes at least $450,000 and as much as $1 mn on three mortgages, including a home equity line of credit, the newspaper said.

His assets, which include checking and savings accounts, college funds for his children and a rental property in Tallahassee, are worth between $361,018 and $1,035,000.

Presidential candidates are required to file the financial information with the FEC within 30 days of declaring their candidacy, although they can seek up to two 45-day extensions.

Republican candidates Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky sought extensions rather than file on Friday, the Post reported.

courtesy - reuters

Akhilesh Yadav said those, who were earlier afraid of coming to the state to make films, were now coming to the state due to the new film policy of the government

LUCKNOW: Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on Saturday said those, who were earlier afraid of coming to the state to make films, were now coming to the state due to the new film policy of the government.

"Earlier, when people came from outside, others used to discourage them that where are you going. Now, their own colleagues are saying that you have reached Uttar Pradesh and now take us to the state as well," Akhilesh said.

He launched the website of Film Bandhu, a body set up to execute the film policy, besides distributing subsidy under film policy.

He said the state government has formulated a film policy, which has been a success.

"Thirty movies are being made here and more would be produced in future. A beginning has been made, people are coming to the state and producing films," he said.

The chief minister claimed restoration of the state's identity is a challenge as some tourists are not aware that Taj Mahal is in Uttar Pradesh.

"Even tourists coming to Varanasi believe that it's not in UP, but India. We have to bring back the identity and we will restore it, so that people believe that Taj Mahal is in the state," he said.

Akhilesh said the country could not progress without UP and no other state has culture, heritage, tradition and festivals like the state.

He said the state was the largest in terms of the population and only films which perform well here go on to become hits.

The CM said at a time when a film-city was being developed, efforts would be made that more and more people come to the state.

He assured full cooperation by the state government. "I think that when work on large scale is being done in other places, then why not UP, specially in and around Lucknow," he said.

He congratulated the Japanese delegation and expressed hope that they would extend support in films produced in the film-city.

Akhilesh said besides being the most populous state, UP was also a big market. "A large number of people of UP origin are working in Mumbai at all levels," he said.

Appreciating noted film maker Muzaffar Ali, Akhilesh said he had made great movies and no other person better knows 'tehzeeb' and culture of the city than him.

He said after coming to power the SP government has done a lot in tourism sector.

"We are not Nawabs, but we have got an opportunity to make old heritage sites more beautiful. There will be no other gate in the world which is more beautiful than Roomi Gate or a marvel like Taj Mahal," he said.

source: agency

Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli along with glovesman Dinesh Karthik got into a heated argument with umpire Kumar Dharmasena

HYDERABAD: Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli along with glovesman Dinesh Karthik got into a heated argument with umpire Kumar Dharmasena after the match officials continued with final two overs of Sunrisers Hyderabad innings despite steady drizzle.

Having already lost 2 hours and 40 minutes of play due to steady downpour, the match was curtailed to 11 overs-per-side.

It was during the 10th over that it again started drizzling and the rain really picked up in the final over of the innings.

It was during the fourth ball of the final over when Kohli misfielded as the soapy white ball slipped out of his palms. An agitated Kohli tried to draw the attention of the umpires as it was steady downpour. Kohli in his desperate bid was trying to make a point about the pitch getting wet due to downpour.

By the time the over ended, the temperamental Indian Test captain walked towards umpire Dharmasena asking him animatedly about why the match was not stopped when rains picked up.

While other umpire Anil Chaudhary, who is also from Delhi tried to calm Kohli down, the RCB skipper didn't carry on the argument for long even though Dharmasena seemed quite upset. It didn't help as Karthik picked up the argument from where Kohli had left as Dharmasena didn't seem one bit amused.

source: agency

Islamic State militants were reported to have gained ground against Syrian troops in fighting near the historic city of Palmyra

BEIRUT: Islamic State militants were reported to have gained ground against Syrian troops in fighting near the historic city of Palmyra on Saturday, a target in an offensive by the jihadist group that has raised concern for the UN world heritage site.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based group that reports on the war, also said Islamic State (also known as ISIS) jihadists had executed 23 people on Friday including nine minors and five women in areas seized from state control outside the city.

Syrian government antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim said fighting continued at 1-2km (around a mile) from the city, which he said was still "firmly under government control". A military source said fighting was ongoing but at "a distance far from the city".

Abdulkarim, speaking by telephone, added: "We are in the fourth or fifth day (of the attack). What is the international community doing? Is it waiting to weep and despair as it did in northern Iraq?"

Palmyra, also known as Tadmur, is home to extensive ruins of one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world. It was put on Unesco's list of World Heritage in danger in 2013.

Islamic State, which espouses a puritanical Islamist ideology, has destroyed antiquities and ancient monuments in Iraq. Palmyra is also of strategic importance, sitting at a highway intersection linking it to the cities of Homs and Damascus, some 240km (150 miles) to the southwest.

Unesco has expressed deep concern over reports of fighting near Palmyra.

The Syrian government is a pariah to states in the West and in the region that say President Bashar al-Assad has lost legitimacy, complicating any international effort to protect the country's cultural heritage.

A military source said the army had reinforced the city.

But the army is under pressure, having lost ground to other insurgents in the northwest and in the south since late March.

The observatory reported that Islamic State had seized a gas field to the east of Palmyra - a report denied by the military source. The source said Islamic State was keeping up its attack but the fighting on Saturday was at a lower intensity.

The mass execution reported by the observatory is the second such killing it has recorded since Islamic State advanced this week into the area. In the first, the observatory said the jihadists had executed 26 men, beheading 10 of them.

The Syrian military source said there had been one massacre of 30 or more people in that area, including elderly men.

The Syrian military has been mounting air strikes against Islamic State fighters in the area. Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the Observatory, said the sides were fighting near a military intelligence building in Palmyra on Saturday.

The Islamic State offensive in central Syria has added to the pressures facing government forces that have faced significant setbacks since late March in the four-year-long war.

Other insurgent groups fighting President Bashar al-Assad have seized control of wide areas of the northwestern province of Idlib since late March. Assad has also lost a border crossing with Jordan in the south.

This week the Syrian army and the allied Lebanese group Hezbollah have driven insurgents from wide areas of the mountainous region to the north of Damascus, shoring up Assad's grip over the border zone between Syria and Lebanon.

source: agency

Selfie taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chinese premier Li Keqiang during his current visit to China is being hailed by western media as one of the most "power-packed selfie in history"

NEW YORK: The iconic selfie taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chinese premier Li Keqiang during his current visit to China is being hailed by western media as one of the most "power-packed selfie in history".

The Wall Street Journal, in a news report titled 'Did Modi Just Take the Most Powerful Selfie in History,' said that the prime ministers of the world's two biggest countries "leaned on each other ...for what may be the most politically power-packed selfie in history."

It said Modi pulled out a smartphone during his visit to Beijing's Temple of Heaven, "extended his arm and cozied up with Chinese premier Li Keqiang for the shot.

"That put two of the most powerful people in countries with a combined population of around 2.5 billion people - more than one-third of humanity - in the same frame with no official photographer involved," the WSJ report said.

An article in Forbes said that the selfie, which garnered 2,200 shares within two hours of Modi posting it on his Twitter account, is being "billed the selfie of the world's two mightiest".

"Modi and Li drive economic policy in their respective countries, two of the world's fastest-growing large economies," the Forbes article said.

The Indian Prime Minister is one of the world's most followed on Twitter with 12.3 million followers.

A tweet from news outlet CNBC said that "two world leaders just took the most-powerful selfie ever.

"The leaders of two of the world's fastest growing countries just made selfie history....Sure, a picture can say a thousand words--but it's not every day one can speak for over a third of the world's population," the CNBC report said. It added that combining GDP from both countries, the selfie captures more than USD 10 trillion.

The Wall Street Journal noted that the Indian Prime Minister is "no stranger to selfies" and had used one in his 2014 election campaign.

Modi was also the first world leader to use a Twitter Mirror, an exclusive app that produces autographed selfies and posts them to Twitter on his tours, it said.

Modi has taken selfies with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott during a visit to his country in November.

The report cited other powerful selfies that have created records of their own, including the 2014 Oscar selfie taken by host Ellen DeGeneres with Hollywood giants Meryl Streep, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Lupita Nyong'o, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie Pitt. The selfie received more than 921,000 retweets in less than 40 minutes and went on to get more than a million retweets.

In 2013, US President Barack Obama and Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron posed for a selfie with Denmark's Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt at a memorial service for Nelson Mandela in South Africa, an image that however was criticised by some who said it was inappropriate for the leaders to take a selfie at such a solemn occasion.

source; agency

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he shares a close friendship with Chinese President Xi Jinping

SHANGHAI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said he shares a close friendship with Chinese President Xi Jinping, which he described as "plus one".

Addressing a 5,000-strong Indian community at the Shanghai Expo Centre here, Modi said ancient Chinese Buddhist scholar Hieun Tsang had written that in western India, especially Gujarat, there was a lot of influence of Lord Buddha's teachings, including in Vadnagar, Modi's hometown.

Modi said that while he was chief minister of Gujarat, he asked his government to start excavation to find out Buddhist relics, and a lot of relics associated with Hieun Tsang were discovered in his hometown.

"When I won (the general elections), then Xi told me about the find in my village ... He came to India and to Ahmedabad, but unfortunately he could not come to Vadnagar," said the prime minister.

"President Xi told me that 'After Hieun Tsang returned from your gaon (village), he came and settled in my gaon'. President Xi took me to the temple and showed me the description of my city (Vadnagar) written in Chinese script by Hieun Tsang," said Modi, to loud applause.

"Such friendship between two leaders can only be described as 'plus one'," said Modi.

The Prime Minister had visited Xi'an, the capital of Shaanxi province and the hometown of Xi, in the first leg of his China visit on Thursday.

After talks, Xi had accompanied Modi to the Wild Goose Pagoda and shown him around, including a book of Buddhist writings.

Xi had invited Modi to Xi'an in a reciprocal gesture after Modi welcomed him to Ahmedabad during his visit to India last year and treated him to a colourful walk beside the Sabarmati river front.

source: agency

20150515

Rahul Gandhi targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, whom he dubbed as "mini Modi"

ADILABAD (Telangana): Rahul Gandhi on Friday targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, whom he dubbed as "mini Modi", accusing them of going back on their poll promises to farmers, as he held a padyatra here to reach out to agrarian community.

"When the unseasonal rains came and when there was hailstorm, Modi did nothing. The 'mini Modi' in Telangana also did nothing," the Congress vice-president said, without directly naming Rao, while addressing farmers in the region which has witnessed a spate of suicides due to agrarian distress.

Before coming to power, Modi as also leaders in Telangana had promised a lot of things to farmers like remunerative price to the farm produce and a loan waiver, he said, "but neither the Centre did it, nor the state government."

Rahul also again attacked the controversial Land Acquisition Bill brought by the Modi dispensation alleging that it will spell doom for farmers as the government has taken out key provisions like social audit.

He kicked off his 15km padyatra from Koritical village in this district to highlight the problems faced by farmers.

The main opposition Congress, TDP and BJP allege that hundreds of farmers have committed suicide due to the agrarian distress in Telangana since the TRS government assumed office in June last year, a charge denied by the state administration.

The Congress vice-president had earlier visited Punjab and Maharashtra, where he interacted with farmers and undertook padyatras. He has aggressively taken on the Modi Government inside and outside Parliament on the land bill issue.

Meanwhile, the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti and the BJP hit out at Rahul, slamming attempts to politicize the farmers' issue and turn his visit into a "grand celebration".

source: agency

$5 million Hindu Ram Temple opening in New Zealand



A $5 million Shri Ram Mandir, a Hindu temple and community complex in Henderson, about 13 kilometers from Auckland (New Zealand) city center, will formally do Grand Opening on June 13, concluding eight days of ceremonies starting June six.



A project of Shri Ram Mandir Charitable Trust, a registered charity established in 2011, whose objectives include enhancing "cross-cultural understanding"; this three-level complex with a reported capacity of about 1,000 persons aims to address the spiritual, social, and cultural needs of the community.



Besides a sanctuary on the top floor, it will also include a community center and place for youth activities. In addition to being involved in community/social service and advancing Hinduism, it also aims to promote harmony among diverse communities.



Meanwhile, distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, applauded efforts of temple trustees and area community for realizing this Hindu temple complex.



Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, further said that it was important to pass on Hindu spirituality, concepts and traditions to coming generations amidst so many distractions in the consumerist society and hoped that this new temple would help in this direction. Zed stressed that instead of running after materialism; we should focus on inner search and realization of Self and work towards achieving moksh (liberation), which was the goal of Hinduism.



Opening ceremonies include prayashchit, cultural programs, shradh, poojans, yag, homs, nagar & jal yatras, 108 kalash and other poojans, artis, vasses, devta jaagran, praan pratisthapnam, pushpanjali, various prayers and a hawan fire ritual.



In addition to offering worship services; Shri Ram Mandir also reportedly plans to organize cultural activities, festivals, events, community gatherings, educational projects, services for seniors, social welfare and community service programs, camps and spiritual-philosophical-recreational-cultural activities for youth, classes/seminars/discourses/lectures on Hinduism, and establish library.



Its Bhoomi Pooja was held on July 21, 2012, although the idea of the temple was initially launched much earlier. Marble and Hindu artifacts have reportedly been imported from India for this temple, which is claimed to be the biggest temple in New Zealand when completed.



Pravin Kumar, a businessman and community activist, is President of the Trust; Salendra Kumar is the Treasurer; while other trustees include Giyannendra Prasad and Shiu Charan.



Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents.



Henderson is a major suburb of Auckland, the most populous and largest urban area in New Zealand.

“Clowning with Cancer”, Sankara Eye Hospital,Bangalore Celebrates World Retinoblastoma Week with Survivors

Bangalore: 4 year old Master Ganesh had a fun filled day playing and performing activities with a Clown. Balloons, pastries and face painting rounded off the fun filled afternoon. Though this seems like a regular day in the summer vacation of a school child, what made this event with 20 children at Sankara Eye Hospital was these children have been treated for Retinoblastoma, a cancer of the eye.

Retinoblastoma is thought to affect 1 in 20000 live births and it is the third most common cancerous tumour overall affecting children and infants. Dr. P. Mahesh Shanmugam, Head Vitreoretinal Services and Ocular Oncology, Sankara Eye Foundation, India explained “ Retinoblastoma is a cancerthat often presents as a white reflex in the pupil of the eye (cat’s eye like appearance) or as a squint. Early diagnosis & improved treatment modalities helps in saving lives and preserving visual function.”

The Naraindas Morbai Budhrani Trust Sankara Ocular Oncology Centre is first of its kind in Karnataka state and has over the past 6 years treated around 210 children for eye cancers. Commemorating World Retinoblastoma Week, Sankara Eye Hospital, Bangalore brought together some of the children treated at its ocular oncology department.

The event was supported by, “Surya”  – A volunteer initiative that raises support for the eye care activities of Sankara. “It is a pleasure to raise support for Sankara, as you can see the money being used to serve the community. I am thrilled of the impact my small contribution has made to the lives of these children.”

“This is the second year we are celebrating life with these cancer survivors. It is wonderful to bring a smile into the lives of these children and their parents who have fought various odds and to see the joy of the doctors at Sankara”, shared Harish Bhuvan, Founder Compassionate Clowns

Dr. P. Mahesh Shanmugam, added “Initially Retinoblastoma is confined to the eye. But if left untreated, it may spread to other parts of the body. The disease may result in loss of vision, eye or even the life of the affected child. Once the Retinoblastoma is diagnosed, the onus lies on saving the child’s life, eye and then the vision.

About Suryaforlife

Surya, founded in 2013 is a volunteer initiative initiated to support eye care activities of underprivileged children through Sankara Eye Hospital, Bangalore. Till date approximately Rs 7, 00,000 has been raised by the initiative in support of Sankara. For more information login to www.facebook.com/suryaforlife write to sankarpoornima@gmail.com.

About Compassionate Clowns

Compassionate Clowns work with a mission of spreading love and laughter with compassion. Clowns uses a techniques such as magic, music, storytelling and other clowning skills to empower children with doses of fun that help them deal with the range of emotions they may experience while in hospital: fear, anxiety, loneliness, boredom. (www.compassionateclowns.org)

About Sankara Eye Foundation

Sankara Eye Foundation is a Non Profit NGO and a part of the Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Medical Trust founded in 1977 at Coimbatore with a vision to provide quality eye care. With the goal of replicating one Sankara Eye Hospital in every state in India, the group is working towards freedom from preventable and curable blindness – “Vision 20/20 by the year 2020” – wherein no one would be needlessly blind.

The Sankara ocular centre is a state-of-the-art, comprehensive cancer treatment centre. The department provides holistic diagnostic, medical and surgical services. The centre is led by Dr. Mahesh Shanmugam, a specialist in ocular oncology and is assisted by a specialist in orbital diseases and surgery. They are supported by a team who works diligently to ensure personalized care for patients and their families during the examination and subsequent treatment plans.

20150514

A Nepali woman seriously injured by falling debris in earthquake was airlifted to a Kathmandu hospital in the Prime Minister's helicopter

CHARIKOT (NEPAL): A Nepali woman seriously injured by falling debris in Tuesday's earthquake was airlifted to a Kathmandu hospital on Thursday in the Prime Minister's helicopter, after two British paramedics pleaded with officials to help save her life.

Prime Minister Sushil Koirala was on a visit to Charikot town in Dolakha district, around 70km east of Kathmandu and one of the areas worst affected by the latest tremor to hit the Himalayan nation still reeling from a massive quake last month.

As Koirala sat in an army tent where he was being briefed on the rescue effort, a few metres away two advanced paramedics were hand-pumping oxygen into an elderly woman at a makeshift medical camp, keeping her alive.

The woman had been taken to Charikot from her village on Thursday morning after being hit on the head by falling debris during this week's quake. Her family said her condition had deteriorated.

The paramedics told Reuters they had spent an hour pleading with army officials to tell Koirala that his helicopter was needed to transport the woman to a hospital in the capital.

"I said 'If I stop doing this, this lady will die. Do you understand?'," paramedic Phil Llewellyn, who arrived on May 5 to help the Nepal Red Cross Society, recalled telling a Nepalese army official.

The paramedics eventually spoke to the helicopter's pilot, who informed the Prime Minister.

Mercy flight

Within seconds, soldiers dashed out of the tent where they had been briefing Koirala, loaded the woman on to a stretcher and put her on board the helicopter, along with the paramedics.

The helicopter landed at an army hospital in Kathmandu where paramedics kept her breathing.

A 70-year-old woman, later named by army doctors as Manamaya B K, underwent emergency surgery lasting several hours. She was then moved to an intensive care unit and put on a ventilator. Her prognosis was unclear.

"We can only hope for the best," the doctor said.

It was not possible to confirm that Manamaya was the woman evacuated on Koirala's helicopter. However, a paramedic who was meeting helicopters at the army hospital said that only one chopper had come from Charikot on Thursday.

The Nepali government has been criticised by some for being slow to react to the April 25 earthquake which killed more than 8,000 people and destroyed hundreds of thousands of buildings.

More than 100 died in a second big tremor that struck on Tuesday, causing further damage and landslides.

Back in Charikot, the two British paramedics returned to the prime minister, who was waiting to board his chopper.

"Thank you for the helicopter. You saved her life," paramedic Ed Hullah told Koirala.

"It's our duty ... We do the maximum. We leave no stone unturned," Koirala said before boarding.

courtesy - reuters

Reliance Industries is in talks with Chinese manufacturers to secure cut-price phones that could be sold in packages from $30

MUMBAI: Reliance Industries is in talks with Chinese manufacturers to secure cut-price phones that could be sold in packages from $30 (less than Rs 2,000), as it seeks to repeat the low-cost revolution it unleashed with its first dip into India's mobile market more than a decade ago.

Industry and company sources said Reliance, which aims to roll out India's first national 4G service in the coming months, has been talking to groups including Gionee, Huawei and Xiaomi, as Chinese firms also seek a platform to build their presence in a lucrative and growing market.

Reliance has spent $13 billion in the last 5 years on the 4G Reliance Jio push that will mark its return to telecoms, but it has faced a string of delays as it completes its network. It has also been faced with the absence of cheap devices opening access to its services, making these Chinese deals critical.

"(Jio) will go for the kill from the start," said Neil Shah, research director at Counterpoint Technology Market Research.

"They definitely want to go for mass market play with 4G, because only that will give them the scale to be profitable."

Reliance's return to telecoms could be a game-changer in India, where only one in 10 people currently use smartphones but with a population of 1.3 billion where the majority of people already access the internet through mobiles.

Internet users are expected to almost triple to more than 550 million by 2018, according to the Boston Consultancy Group: more than the population of Western Europe.

If successful, it will also mark a key personal victory for Mukesh Ambani, Reliance's chairman. With Reliance Jio, India's second-richest man will be returning to telecoms for the first time since he and brother Anil split the family business after a bitter feud, with Mukesh ceding the telecoms arm.

Anil's Reliance Communications said last year it would also offer 4G from 2015, pitting the two head-to-head for the first time since a non-compete agreement ended in 2010.

"Cheaper than a postcard"
Attracting consumers with cheap phones is a strategy used before by Reliance, whose founder, patriarch Dhirubhai Ambani, once vowed to make phone calls "cheaper than a postcard".

In 2003, Reliance revolutionized India's nascent mobile market by offering phones to consumers for as little as $11, making handsets affordable for most Indians and capturing a million customers in 10 days.



Reliance wants to repeat the feat with 4G, thanks to China's cheap smartphones but also tablets and pocket routers.

"Their internal target is to have 5 million customers in 50 hours," a person familiar with the matter said.

Reuters spoke to officials at three different Chinese smartphone vendors who confirmed discussions with Reliance. They spoke on condition of anonymity since discussions were ongoing.

"Reliance Jio is actively working with all major handset device manufacturers to ensure and certify their phones for use on Jio network and shall ensure adequate availability of phones in entire price range," the company said in a statement.

It gave no details.

While the company is unlikely to subsidize devices directly, industry sources say it could lure customers with an upfront payment of 2,000 to 3,000 rupees, or roughly $30 to $45, by buying a customer's existing handset and bundling Jio services.

"Right now their entire focus is to reduce the entry point for the customer," said Pankaj Agrawal, director at telecoms advisory firm Capitel Partners.

That matters for Reliance but also for the Indian government's digital push and for the e-commerce industry, which is counting on widespread adoption of high-speed internet among smartphone users in semi-urban and rural India to grow.

courtesy -reuters

Nissan launched a special edition of its sports utility vehicle Terrano in India priced at Rs 11,45,123

NEW DELHI: Japanese carmaker Nissan on Thursday launched a special edition of its sports utility vehicle Terrano in India priced at Rs 11,45,123 (ex-showroom Delhi).

Nissan Terrano Groove limited edition comes with features including precision speakers by Rockford Fosgate, one of the leading brands in high-performance in-car audio.

The model also comes with branded fabric mats and upmarket LED scuff plates on the doors as well as chrome highlights for fog lamps, tail lamps and tailgate.

Nissan India operations president, Guillaume Sicard said: "With the Groove edition, we want to reach out to individuals who like their cars to reflect their dynamic lifestyle. We are confident that the new addition will make the Terrano even more appealing to them."

The company said production of Terrano Groove will be limited to 250 units.

Nissan also announced a new advertising campaign featuring Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput.

"With the Groove edition, we wish to target younger customers and opted for an energetic campaign around contemporary music and dance," Nissan Motor India managing director Arun Malhotra said.


source: agency

The Supreme Court deferred a decision on conglomerate Sahara's bid for bail for its jailed boss in a long-running dispute over illegal bonds

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday deferred a decision on conglomerate Sahara's bid for bail for its jailed boss in a long-running dispute over illegal bonds.

It gave no date for a decision.

Subrata Roy has been held in jail for more than a year, after Sahara failed to comply with a court order to refund money it had raised from millions of small investors by selling bonds that were later ruled to be illegal.

A lawyer for the group said last week Sahara had agreed to pay the full $1.6 billion the court had asked for to release Roy on bail, but the group has yet to publicly outline that plan.


courtesy - reuters

TCS has been ranked as the 57th leading brand in the US by Brand Finance in its second annual Top 500 US Brands survey

MUMBAI: Leading IT services company, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has been ranked as the 57th leading brand in the US by Brand Finance in its second annual Top 500 US Brands survey, the company said today.

The survey evaluates the financial value of a company's brand name, intellectual assets and trademark, as compared to companies across industries.

This is also the first time that TCS has featured among the top 100 brands in the survey, the company said in a statement.

"Developing a valuable brand goes far beyond awareness, it's about the deep opportunities and service we provide to our employees, clients and the communities in which we work and live," said Surya Kant, president of North America, UK and Europe, TCS.

"Our goal is to push ourselves and our clients to re-imagine their business operations in today's digital economy," he added.

"TCS was recognised as a top four IT Services brand in the US -- the same as its global ranking -- and has a AA+ score for its brand strength, the sector's highest designation," it added.

Globally, TCS' brand value grew 271% in five years, from $2.3 billion in 2010 to $8.7 billion in 2015, marking the fastest growth across the IT services industry during the period.

"TCS has established itself as one of the fastest growing brands in the United States," said Edgar Baum, managing director, Brand Finance, North America.

"TCS is one of the rare businesses that has sustained the industry AA+ rating for three years in a row," he added.

TCS has a long-standing presence in North America, being one of the top ten recruiters of IT talent, with 19 facilities and innovation labs serving many of the region's Fortune 500 companies.

source: agency

From a cricketing perspective an India-Pakistan series is any day welcome: Rahul Dravid

MUMBAI: Giving his support for the proposed revival of Indo-Pak cricket series, former skipper Rahul Dravid on Thursday said he welcomed it from a purely cricketing perspective, although there were many other matters to be considered.

"From a cricketing perspective an India-Pakistan series is any day welcome. But this series is more than about cricket, looking at the security angle and political situations, and is best left to the two Boards to decide," Dravid said at a media conference of IPL franchise Rajasthan Royals.

Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Shaharyar Khan had visited India recently to rally hard for the resumption of Indo-Pak cricket ties.

Shaharyar, during a joint press briefing along with BCCI President Jagmohan Dalmiya in Kolkata, proposed a series comprising three Tests, five ODIs and two T20s in UAE in December, but the BCCI has not given any categorical statement yet on the proposed series and the venue.

"Possibility is that in the coming few days or coming weeks, second round of talks will take place," BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur told a press conference in Chandigarh on Thursday.

Thakur, who is also a BJP MP from Hamirpur in Himachal Pradesh, said the talks between the Boards of the two countries were still in "early stages".

"I want to say only this, which is that the talks between the Boards of two countries has taken place, which are at early stages. And when talks between two Boards takes place, you limit the talk to just cricket only.

"At government level, what is their thinking, whether they want (the series to take place) or not, on this no talk has taken place," Thakur said.

source: agency

A man from Punjab who escaped from the clutches of the ISIS in June 2014 claimed that 39 Indians taken hostage have been killed

CHANDIGARH: A man from Punjab who escaped from the clutches of the ISIS in June 2014 claimed on Thursday that 39 Indians taken hostage have been killed.

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said in New Delhi that she did not believe the claims and her own sources felt the Indian nationals were still alive.

Harjit Masih, 25, told the media in Mohali town adjoining Chandigarh and claimed that the 39 Indians, mostly from Punjab, were attacked by the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists and killed.

"The ISIS came and kidnapped us and took us to another place. We were 40 Indians and about 50 Bangladeshis. They assured us that our passports would come and we will be allowed to leave for India," Masih said.

"They (ISIS) handed us over to another group (of terrorists) who took us to another place. Later, they put us in a room and started firing. Everyone around me fell. I kept lying there and later escaped," he said.

In New Delhi, Sushma Swaraj disputed Masih's claims and said her sources had not indicated that the Indian nationals were dead.

"We are not sparing any efforts to find them. We are hopeful that we will be able to find them and bring them back home. I have eight different sources who are saying they are alive," Sushma Swaraj told the media after families of the hostages met her in New Delhi on Thursday.

"Harjit Masih left our protection on his own. He was not under detection," Sushma Swaraj said.

The family of Masih had earlier claimed that he was kept under detention after his escape and return from Iraq.

"There is no reason to believe him. If we believe him, it will mean that we end our search. I don't want to give up hope on this and we are looking for proof," Sushma Swaraj said.

The Indian nationals were taken hostage by the ISIS on June 11 last year in northern Iraq's Mosul town.

Their families have met Sushma Swaraj and other leaders in New Delhi and Chandigarh to know the whereabouts of their kin stuck in Iraq.

source: agency