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Art Gallery of South Australia showcasing Kali-mata & other Gond paintings

Government run Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) in Adelaide is displaying Hindu goddess Kali among other artworks in a “Gond Paintings” exhibition till November eight.

Gonds are aboriginal people living in central India and per AGSA website, “Their paintings, often compared to Australia’s contemporary indigenous art, document the rich spiritual and cultural heritage of Gond communities”.

Applauding AGSA for exhibiting Kali-mata and other Gond paintings, distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that art had a long and rich tradition in Hinduism and ancient Sanskrit literature talked about religious paintings of deities on wood or cloth.

Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, urged major art museuams of the world, including Musee du Louvre and Musee d'Orsay of Paris, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Los Angeles Getty Center, Uffizi Gallery of Florence (Italy), Art Institute of Chicago, Tate Modern of London, Prado Museum of Madrid, National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, etc., to frequently organize Hindu art focused exhibitions, thus sharing the rich Hindu art heritage with the rest of the world.

AGSA, founded in 1881, claims to have “one of the largest art museum collections in Australia, numbering around 38,000 works… and include paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, photographs, textiles, ceramics, glass, metalwork and jewellery, and furniture”. Many of its collections represent India. Nick Mitzevich is the Director.

Celebrities like Lata Mangeshkar, Shah Rukh Khan and A R Rahman mourned the demise of former President APJ Abdul Kalam

Celebrities like Lata Mangeshkar, Shah Rukh Khan and A R Rahman today mourned the demise of former President APJ Abdul Kalam, calling his death a great loss to the country.

Kalam, who served as the 11th President from 2002 to 2007 and came to be known as 'People's President', died today after he collapsed during a lecture at IIM Shillong. He was 83.

Four-time National Award-winning composer Rahman said the country lost an "inspiring mind".

"Dr Kalam, when you became the President, you gave the word 'hope' a new meaning for Indians... Today, we have lost a great leader who inspired our young minds to feel that we live in the greatest nation on earth and that each one of them can achieve great things... May the creator lead you to heaven," Rahman posted on his Facebook page.

Bollywood's evergreen voice Lata Mangeshkar also took to Facebook to pay her condolence.

"I have just been informed that our former President, Bharat Ratna Dr APJ Abdul Kalam has passed away. I am saddened by the news. I knew him very well personally. He was a great scientist, a human being and a good poet. I pay my tribute to him. May he rest in peace," she said.

Superstar Shah Rukh, also condemning Gurdaspur terrorist attack, tweeted, "So sad to hear about the Gurdaspur terror attack and now the news of Dr Kalam's demise. May Allah bring peace upon all."

"Sad to hear about the loss of our only people's president - Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. Big loss to not just our nation but the whole world," posted Ajay on his Twitter page.

"I just got this news. It is a very sad moment for us. I think he has left behind good values for us.

"And the way he led his life was exemplary. The way he thought, the way he spoke, the way he lived... all that should be a torchlight guiding us and we should keep him alive in our hearts," said

Rajya Sabha MP and Bollywood screenwriter- lyricist Javed Akhtar, who was in Delhi today.

Actor Varun Dhawan wrote, "A visionary passes away" Abdul Kalam a brilliant mind and soul. His book 'Wings Of Fire' is a must for every youth of our country."

"So sad to know about the passing away of Dr Abdul Kalam.

It is a loss not only for India but for d entire world. Such greatness is a rarity.

"Had the opportunity of meeting & interacting with Dr Kalam at several occasions. His infectious smile was enough to inspire millions. #Sad," tweeted Anupam Kher, who received Padma Shri from Kalam.

Kher also called him his inspiration. "I was one of the lucky ones to receive my Padma Shri from Dr Kalam. He made it extra special for me. He will always remain my inspiration," he further said.

source: agency

About 3,000 schoolteachers in Bihar, who allegedly used fake degree certificates to get jobs, have resigned till date apprehending legal action

PATNA: About 3,000 schoolteachers in Bihar, who allegedly used fake degree certificates to get jobs, have resigned till date apprehending legal action.

The Patna high court on Tuesday refused further general amnesty to those who have failed to resign so far, a government lawyer said, adding that the state education department has informed the court that 3,000 schoolteachers have resigned so far.

According to education officials, the teachers resigned following the Patna high court directive to the state government early this month to ask the school teachers, who allegedly used fake degree certificates to get the jobs, to resign or face legal action.

The court had made it clear that schoolteachers, continuing with their jobs with fake degree certificates even after the deadline to resign would be liable to punishment and recovery of the salary paid to them.

Last month, the Patna high court directed the director of the Bihar vigilance department to probe the recruitment of nearly 40,000 government teachers who allegedly used fake degree certificates to get their jobs.

The court ordered the probe on the petition of Ranjit Pandit, and asked for an investigation report within four weeks.

Pandit's lawyer Dinu Kumar said the court asked the director of state vigilance to complete the verification of degrees and certificates of teachers recruited by the state government from 2006 till date.

"The court's order was important as in view of the next Bihar assembly polls later this year, the state government was not taking action against the teachers, who used fake degrees to get jobs," he said.

Earlier, the state government admitted that it recruited more than 300,000 contract teachers without verifying their educational and professional degrees.

The petition was filed in the high court last year seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the recruitment of 40,000 teachers who allegedly used fake degree certificates to get jobs in government schools.

The petitioner said he has collected documents as evidence through Right to Information queries to prove that thousands of teachers used forged degrees to get jobs.

source: agency

Former President A P J Abdul Kalam had congratulated a constable for remaining alert throughout the day

SHILLONG: Former President A P J Abdul Kalam had congratulated a constable for remaining alert throughout the day, minutes before he collapsed at the Indian Institute of Management and died here on Monday night.

"The former President congratulated an SOT (special operation team) personnel for being alert throughout the road trip from Guwahati to Shillong last evening," East Khasi Hills district SP M Kharkrang said.

He said the personnel at first got scared after Kalam summoned him. But then the VVIP acknowledged the constable for doing his duty properly.

Mourning the loss, Kharkrang said, "What makes him truly great is his acknowledgement of the simple things in life done rightly."

Kalam arrived at 5:40pm at the IIM guesthouse in Shillong and began delivering a lecture on 'Creating a live-able planet' when he collapsed and rushed to the Bethany hospital here.

He was declared dead at 7:45pm by the medical board of the hospital.

Meghalaya government has declared a state holiday on Tuesday as a mark of respect to Kalam who breathed his last in the city.

source: agency

GPS sets recovered from the three terrorists killed here clearly indicates to a Pakistan link in Monday's terror attack in Punjab's Dinanagar

DINANAGAR: The global positioning system (GPS) sets recovered from the three terrorists killed here clearly indicates to a Pakistan link in Monday's terror attack in Punjab's Dinanagar, sources said on Tuesday.

The terrorists were killed by the special units of the Punjab Police after fierce gunbattle lasting over 11 hours.

Sources in intelligence agencies and Punjab Police said here on Tuesday that the track of the GPS sets revealed that the terrorists had moved from Shakargarh area in Pakistan along the India-Pakistan border on Sunday and entered India.

"The terrorists used the route of rivulets along the border belt and reached Bamiyal town. While observing that security in the Jammu region, which is very close, was tight, the terrorists moved towards Dinanagar town," a police official said on condition of anonymity.

Forensic experts from Chandigarh have arrived at the police station complex here to search for clues about the identity of the three terrorists who besieged the complex for over 11 hours on Monday.

The forensic team was examining the building where the terrorists were holed up. The car, which was hijacked by the terrorists and on which they came to the police station complex, was also being examined.

Punjab director general of police (DGP) Sumedh Singh Saini said that the terrorists were carrying AK-47 automatic weapons and Chinese-made hand grenades.

"We are examining clues from their clothes and other things that they were carrying," a forensic team official said.

Seven people, including a senior police officer, three home guard personnel and three civilians, were killed in the terror attack.

Dinanagar town, which is just 12km from the India-Pakistan border, is located 25km from the Jammu and Kashmir border and 235km from Chandigarh.

source: agency

A Libyan court passed a death sentence in absentia on Muammar Gaddafi's most prominent son, Saif al-Islam for suppressing peaceful protests during the country's 2011 revolution that ended his father's rule

CAIRO: A Libyan court passed a death sentence in absentia on Muammar Gaddafi's most prominent son, Saif al-Islam, on Tuesday for suppressing peaceful protests during the country's 2011 revolution that ended his father's rule.

The court also handed down in a televised session a death sentence by firing squad to Gaddafi's former spy chief, Abdullah al-Senussi, and his former prime minister, Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi.

The verdict on al-Islam was passed in absentia since he has been held since 2011 by a former rebel group in Zintan region that opposes the Tripoli government, which is not recognised by world powers.

courtesy - reuters

Former India captain Sourav Ganguly backed BCCI's stance of not resuming bilateral cricketing ties with Pakistan until the cross-border terrorism stops

NEW DELHI: Former India captain Sourav Ganguly on Tuesday backed BCCI's stance of not resuming bilateral cricketing ties with Pakistan until the cross-border terrorism stops.

PCB had requested its Indian counterpart to host a bi-lateral series in December this year as per an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the two boards comprising five series in eight years till 2023.

BCCI had promised to take up the matter with the government of India but the recent Gurdaspur terror attacks have prompted Board secretary Anurag Thakur to declare that cricket will take a backseat for a while and Ganguly could not agree more.

"I think BCCI is correct in saying that terror will have to completely go before play could happen. Because as human beings we also want terror to completely go," Ganguly told mediapersons during an Apollo Munich Health Insurance event for a 'Dengue Care' plan here.

"So this has always been the case with an India-Pakistan series. As much as we understand that it is entertaining and it is an high-profile series, we cannot take away the sufferings which the people go through at the border especially after what happened in Gurdaspur yesterday. he added.

"This has been going on for while. When we went to Pakistan in 2004, I was fortunate enough to be the captain of the side and we won the Test and the ODI series, for the first time in Pakistan. That series happened after 15 years," the former captain fondly recollected.

Ganguly, 43, is also hopeful that recently exonerated from the MCOCA charge by a Delhi court, former India medium-pacer Sreesanth will also get relief from BCCI, which has till now refused to revoke his life ban.

"I think he has been cleared by the Delhi court and the BCCI has said that the disciplinary action on him continues. And I believe he has been relieved by the Delhi court of criminal charges. I think the BCCI gives an opportunity to every player to come back and play and I think a dialogue would happen between BCCI and Sreesanth.

"If the board feels that the clearance from the Delhi court is fine, I am sure it will make way for the him to come back and play cricket," Ganguly expressed hope.

"The Kerala Cricket Association I believe has supported Sreesanth and requested the BCCI to help him and get back on the path. And that's how it should be. I think in a few months time when the BCCI is convinced that everything is fine and clear, they will let him play, he added.

Being part of the BCCI cricket advisory committee alongside Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman, Ganguly is happy with the recent developments in Indian cricket and said that Ravi Shastri is doing a good job as Team Director.

"At the present moment, he (Shastri) has been asked to continue as Team Director by the board till at least the Sri Lanka tour.

"Even Anurag Thakur has said in an interview that after the Lanka tour, we will sit and find out if we need a coach. Because we have enough people (support staff) in the team. Ravi is the director of the team and I don't see any difference between a Director and a coach," Ganguly's answer was indicative of what his take was regarding this issue.

"So that's the way board has thought about it. With Sanjay (Bangar) and Bharat Arun and the fielding coach, we don't need any more than this at the present moment. I think they were very wise in giving Ravi a full go after he joined the team in England last year, so it's been just one year and why not give him a full go," he added.

Not willing to comment on the IPL mess, Ganguly still believes that the cash-rich league will carry on with eight teams and even more in the future.

"Firstly, the working group doesn't decide the punishment on teams, that's done by the BCCI working committee. What's the role of this working group is to find out a way to get this IPL going.

"The Secretary, the president and Mr Rajeev Shukla the chairman of the IPL Governing Council know that eight-team IPL is absolutely neccessary because of the number of games, the broadcasters and the number of agreements signed. We haven't yet had a meeting with the members of the working group so we are yet to discuss on it," he said.

"You have to play eight IPL teams, that's a commitment made to the franchises and the broadcaster. And from there on, when those two teams comeback, we can play with ten teams. That has happened in the past when Sahara and Kochi franchise played. I don't see this as too much of an issue," he added.

One of the most successful Indian captain's, Ganguly also played with a straight bat to the team's response of Virat Kohli as Test captain and Mahendra Singh Dhoni as the ODI leader.

"From this two-captain's theory, India have never had that and obviously it has happened due to the retirement of MS (Dhoni) from Test matches. But other teams in the world have had it, like Australia, England, South Africa, Sri Lanka. If you win it works, if you don't win it doesn't work," he said.

source: agency

He contemplated "suicide" during his time at Tihar Jail but pacer S Sreesanth is now hoping to sing the redemption song and would approach the BCCI for lifting the life ban imposed on him

KOCHI: He contemplated "suicide" during his time at Tihar Jail but pacer S Sreesanth is now hoping to sing the redemption song and would approach the BCCI for lifting the life ban imposed on him from playing cricket by the board.

Sreesanth was last week exonerated in the 2013 spot-fixing IPL scandal by a Delhi Court.

"I have sought an appointment with BCCI Secretary Anurag Thakur. He has told a TV channel that I can file an application requesting to lift the ban.

"I am hopeful after indication from the higher-ups of the BCCI that it would consider my request. So I want to file an application. I am waiting for his (General Secretary Anurag Thakur) call. I hope the next meeting of the BCCI would take a favourable decision," Sreesanth told reporters here.

The cricketer, who has played Tests and ODIs for India, spoke about the trauma he went through when he was arrested and put in Tihar jail after being accused of having nexus with a cricket betting racket, allegedly run by underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and his aide Chhota Shakeel.

"Initially I thought about suicide. I could overcome because of my devotion to Lord Ettumanoorappan (Lord Shiva in Kerala's famouse Ettumanoor Mahadevar temple) and the support given by my family," Sreesanth said.

Asked if he expects a favourable response from BCCI, in which former Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar is Chief advisor to the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU), the cricketer said, "After all he is also a human being. He has also got a heart."

Sreesanth said that if Kumar, who ordered his arrest, along with Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan when he headed the Delhi police, recalled the circumstances which led to his arrest in the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal, he would get a clearer picture.

"I don't think he would put any hindrance on my path. After all, BCCI is a body, not an individual," he said.

The cricketer also said he would not approach the court in case BCCI is reluctant to lift the ban.

"I will wait. I don't want to challenge any one. I want to play cricket," he said.

The cricketer rejected reports that he had a net session at Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium on Monday evening.

He said he would start practising in the ground only if his life ban is lifted.

The stadium at Kaloor, owned by Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA), has been partially leased out to the Kerala Cricket Association, a member of the BCCI, for 30 years for hosting Test matches.



Terrorists who stormed a police station here in Punjab shot and killed superintendent of police Baljit Singh

DINANAGAR, GURDASPUR: Terrorists who stormed a police station here in Punjab on Monday shot and killed superintendent of police Baljit Singh, police said.

Singh suffered injuries in the gun battle between security forces and the terrorists holed up in the police station in this town near the border with Pakistan, police officials said.

Singh, who headed the detective branch of police in Gurdaspur, succumbed to his wounds in a hospital.

source: agency

The perpetrators of Monday's terror strike in Punjab are suspected to have sneaked into India from Pakistan

NEW DELHI: The perpetrators of Monday's terror strike in Punjab are suspected to have sneaked into India from Pakistan through the unfenced border between Jammu and Pathankot or Chak Hira in Jammu district to launch the brazen assault about which central agencies had intelligence inputs.

Union home ministry sources said the terrorists, the name of whose outfit was still unclear, may have entered the Indian territory around last midnight and hit the highway using Paharpur road, nearly 15km from the international border, to unleash mayhem that left at least six dead, including an SP rank officer of Punjab police.

Today's incident bore striking similarity with suicide attacks that have taken place in Kathua and Hira Nagar in Jammu region.

The last attack in Jammu was carried out by terrorists belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammed whose fidayeen combatants, clad in Army fatigues, stormed a police station in Jammu & Kashmir's Kathua district on March 20 this year, killing at least six people, including three security force personnel. Both the militants had been killed in retaliatory action.

The terrorists involved in Monday's attacks, also wearing Army uniforms, reached Parmanand village on Jammu & Kashmir's border with Punjab where they attempted to hijack a tempo at 5.30am. The tempo driver, however, managed to flee.

Later they hijacked a Maruti 800 car after injuring its driver who is hospitalized, before killing a roadside vendor near Dinanagar bypass and spraying a Punjab roadways bus with bullets.

They then storm Dinanagar police station and shot dead a sentry. Showing guts, an alert head constable picked up the rifle of the deceased sentry and fired at the terrorists, numbering three to four.

The militants have since then holed up in vacant flats in the area and are engaged in intermittent exchange of fire with Punjab police personnel, who have cordoned off the area with the help of paramilitary forces.

The heavily-armed terrorists have also Gurudaspur SP (detective) Baljeet Singh, a Punjab provincial police service officer. Several civilians have been injured. One militant was killed and another seriously wounded in the gunbattle.

Sources said militants, who could be from Lashkar-e-Taiba terror outfit, may have entered Punjab because of heightened security on the Jammu side for the ongoing Amarnath Yatra.

Home minister Rajnath Singh, who is away in Madhya Pradesh for CRPF's raising day function, has spoken to BSF chief DK Pathak and directed him to enhance security along the international border.

Punjab and neighbouring Himachal Pradesh had been warned of a possible terror strike following intelligence inputs generated by central agencies and the matter had come up during Union home secretary LC Goyal's visit to Jammu & Kashmir in the last week of June.

The intelligence inputs spoke about the possibility of Pakistan-based militants targeting locations in the two states due to enhanced security in the Jammu region.

source: agency

The alertness and bravery of a bus driver saved several lives as terrorists launched an attack here in Punjab

DINANAGAR (Gurdaspur): The alertness and bravery of a bus driver saved several lives as terrorists launched an attack here in Punjab on Monday.

Punjab Roadways driver Nanak Chand did not panic even when the terrorists fired at the bus and instead scared the terrorists by driving towards them.

As the terrorists, numbering four, moved back, the driver swerved the bus and drove it away.

Since shots were fired at the bus, Nanak Chand drove it straight to a government hospital to get the injured passengers treated. He also called up the police to inform about the incident.

"There were 75 passengers in the bus. I thought that it was important to save their lives. I did not stop the bus," Nanak Chand told reporters.

The incident took place around 5.30am on Monday.

"The driver's alertness saved several lives. Otherwise, the passengers could have been an easy target for the terrorists," said a Punjab Roadways general manager.

Nanak Chand was not the only one to save lives.

A major tragedy was averted nearby as alert villagers near Parmanand railway station spotted five bombs wired to a small bridge on the Amritsar-Pathankot railway section.

The bombs were detected minutes before a passenger train was to cross the bridge. The train was stopped 200 metres from the bombs.

Railway authorities stopped all trains on the section as the army and Punjab Armed Police bomb-disposal squads were called to defuse the bombs.

Seven people were killed when terrorists attacked Dinanagar town in Gurdaspur district early, sparking a gun battle with security forces that ended hours later. All terrorists were also killed.

Kamal, a Dinanagar resident, told reporters: "The terrorists fired indiscriminately near the bus stand and then hijacked a Maruti car after injuring its driver. They later killed the dhaba owner and went towards the police station."

He said since the attack took place early in the morning, not too many people were present at the bus stand. "Many lives got saved since the area was barren then."

source: agency


Hindus welcome “Yoga Room” launch at Sioux Falls Airport

Hindus have applauded launching of “Yoga Room” at South Dakota’s largest Sioux Falls Regional Airport (SFRA), calling it a “step in the positive direction”.

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Chicago O'Hare International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Burlington International Airport Vermont and Chicago Midway International Airport —all in USA, and Helsinki Airport in Finland, already offer yoga facilities.

Recently opened “Yoga Room” at SFRA, in partnership with CPMFITness, carries yoga mats and a chart showing yoga poses which even the inexperienced passengers can follow and practice, reports suggest. SFRA Facebook post says: Passengers using Sioux Falls Regional Airport can now squeeze in some yoga.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, urged all US airports and top world airports—Singapore Changi, Incheon (South Korea) International, Amsterdam Schiphol, Hong Kong International, Beijing Capital International, Munich, Zurich, Vancouver International, Tokyo (Haneda) International, London Heathrow—to provide yoga facilities for the passengers if they wanted to help reduce their stress levels and be “world-class” airports.

Commending gesture of Chicago (O'Hare & Midway), Dallas, San Francisco, Burlington and Sioux Falls airports for availability of yoga for passengers, Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, said that although introduced and nourished by Hinduism, yoga was a world heritage and liberation powerhouse to be utilized by all.

Rajan Zed further said that yoga, referred as “a living fossil” whose traces went back to around 2,000 BCE to Indus Valley civilization, was a mental and physical discipline for everybody to share and benefit from. According to Patanjali who codified it in Yoga Sutra, yoga was a methodical effort to attain perfection, through the control of the different elements of human nature, physical and psychical, Zed added.

Zed also praised the existence of “Meditation Room” at Albuquerque International Sunport in New Mexico and Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina, and “Interfaith Airport Chapel” at Chicago Midway International Airport—all in USA. Meditation, prayer, reflection and contemplation bring positive results, Zed adds.

According to USA’s National Institutes of Health, yoga may help one to feel more relaxed, be more flexible, improve posture, breathe deeply, and get rid of stress. According to an estimate, about 21 million Americans, including many celebrities, now practice yoga.

SFRA, established in 1937, serves parts of South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa. Julie Schnaible is Chair of SFRA Authority Board, while Dan Letellier is the Executive Director.

Hindus laud Wales’ Conwy Council for not instituting fine for feeding seagulls

Hindus have commended Conwy County Borough Council in North Wales (United Kingdom) for reported shelving of plan to fine people for feeding seagulls.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, welcomed the Conwy Council decision saying that it showed respect to the religious sentiments of some communities.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out that feeding birds was intrinsic to Hinduism and many started their day by feeding them.  It was an act of kindness.

Rajan Zed further said that birds played an important role in Hinduism and several Hindu deities had birds as their vahana (mount, vehicle): peacock is the vahana of Karttikeya, owl of Lakshmi, swan of Brahma, garuda of Vishnu, etc. Jatayu was an ally of Rama who attempted to foil abduction of Sita. Ancient Shvetashvatara Upanishad identified Self with bird: He is the blue bird, he is the green bird.

Zed urged other counties, cities and town in Wales also to follow Conwy County’s lead and refrain from legislating penalties for feeding birds. Zed also urged Swansea Council and other seaside resorts to reconsider their fines for feeding the birds.

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

Liz Roberts is Conwy County Borough Council’s Chair while Iwan Davies is County’s Chief Executive.

On course to build its own global navigation and positioning network to rival United States GPS, China has successfully launched two more satellites adding to 17 already in orbit

BEIJING: On course to build its own global navigation and positioning network to rival United States GPS, China has successfully launched two more satellites adding to 17 already in orbit.

Launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the China's southwestern Sichuan province, the two satellites were the 18th and 19th for the Beidou Navigation Satellite system, China's homegrown navigation system.

They were sent into their present orbits by a Long March- 3B/Expedition-1 carrier rocket 3.5 hours after the launch, the center said.

Expedition-1, or Yuanzheng-1, is an independent aircraft installed on the carrier rocket with the ability of sending one or more spacecraft into different orbits in space, state- run Xinhua news agency said.

The successful launch marks another solid step in building Beidou into a navigation system with global coverage, the center said.

China is building its own global navigation and positioning network to reduce dependence on GPS, specially for its military and marketing abroad. It is already being used in countries like Laos, Pakistan and Thailand.

The two satellites will join the 17th one, which was launched in March, in the mission of testing a new type of navigation signaling and inter-satellite links, and also provide navigation services as a part of the network.

This launch was the 206th flight of China's Long March carriers.

China launched the first satellite for Beidou in 2000.

The Beidou system began providing positioning, navigation, timing and short message services to civilian users in China and surrounding areas in the Asia-Pacific in December 2012.

The system has been gradually put into use in extended sectors including transportation, weather forecasting, marine fishing industry, forestry and telecommunications.


India has seen the second-biggest outflow of high net worth individuals in last 14 years

NEW DELHI: India has seen the second-biggest outflow of high net worth individuals in last 14 years, with as many as 61,000 millionaires shifting base to abroad due to reasons like tax, security and child education, says a report.

A joint report by New World Wealth and LIO Global said the change in domicile, along with a rise in second citizenship applications, has increased dramatically since the turn of the century.

Some 61,000 uber-rich Indians have changed domicile between 2000 to 2014 -- second only to China which saw an outflow of 91,000 ultra-rich persons in the same period, the report said.

"Indian HNWIs tend to move to the UAE, the UK, the US and Australia," the report said, adding that Chinese HNWIs mainly moved to the US, Hong Kong, Singapore and the UK.

Overall, the UK has seen the biggest inflow of HNWIs from abroad and the figure stood at 1.25 lakh over the past 14 years.

Other countries that saw significant HNWI outflows include France (42,000), Italy (23,000), Russia (20,000), Indonesia (12,000), South Africa (8,000) and Egypt (7,000).

The factors of the outflow, according to the report, include turmoil in home country, security concerns and optimising education of children.

Most of the HNWIs who moved into the UK came from Europe, Russia, China and India. There were also substantial numbers that came from the Middle-East and Africa, the report added.

In terms of inflows of HNWIs, the UK was followed by the US and Singapore.

Inflows into the US predominantly came from China while the UK, India and Russia made up for a sizeable chunk. Most migration to Singapore came from China, India and Indonesia.

This survey was conducted comparing the domicile of a sample of around 60,000 global HNWIs in 2000 with the same in 2014.

HNWIs refer to individuals with net assets of USD 1 million or more excluding their primary residences.

source: agency


Nikhil Advani, director of Sooraj Pancholi starrer "Hero", says that the reason why the actor staying away from media is because of promotional strategy

Nikhil Advani, director of Sooraj Pancholi starrer "Hero", says that the reason why the actor staying away from media is because of promotional strategy. The trailer launch of the remake of Subhash Ghai's superhit "Hero" also starring Athiya Shetty, was held a few days back. But many are surprised that Sooraj hasn't interacted with the media since then. Advani has clarified that his absence is due to the promotional strategy planned by the makers. "There is no specific reason for his absence. There is always a strategy in place and due to this strategy they (Sooraj, Athiya) haven't come much. When the music is launched they'll come in front of the media," said Advani on the sidelines of the screening of a Marathi film, "Mantalya Ulhat". Directed by Advani under the banner of Salman Khan Film, "Hero" is releasing on September 11. It also stars Tigmanshu Dhulia and Sooraj's father Aditya Pancholi. source: agency

India's ODI cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been named as the ninth most marketable sportsperson in the world

LONDON: India's ODI cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been named as the ninth most marketable sportsperson in the world ahead of the likes of football superstar Lionel Messi and sprint king Usain Bolt in a power list prepared by London School of Marketing.

34-year-old Dhoni, considered one of the finest ever finishers of the one-day game, was placed ahead of other football superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar and tennis players Andy Murray and Serena Williams in the list of the world's 20 most marketable sportspersons.

While compiling the list, LSM researchers looked at the brand value of the individuals along with their current income from sponsorship and the percentage of their total earnings it accounted for as well as their social media presence.

Swiss tennis master Roger Federer was named as the most marketable sports star in the world, followed by golfers Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson at second and third respectively.

Despite his loss in the Wimbledon final to Novak Djokovic, Federer is considered one of the most influential persons in the world. The Swiss, who has 17 Grand Slam singles titles to his credit, missed his chance to grab his eighth Wimbledon title recently.

"He may not have won Wimbledon this year, but it's Federer's personal characteristics which sponsors find so attractive," said Jacques de Cock, faculty member at the London School of Marketing.

Tennis stars dominate the power list with Djokovic seventh on the list, followed by Rafael Nadal. Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams -- the only two women to make it into the top 20 -- claim the 12th and 20th spots, respectively.

"Despite having passed their peak physically, Roger Federer, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are kings," de Cock said.

The List: Roger Federer, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Rory McIlroy, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kobe Bryant, Maria Sharapova, Lionel Messi, Usain Bolt, Neymar, Andy Murray, Kei Nishikori, Derrick Rose, Floyd Mayweather, Serena Williams.

source: agency

Egypt began today the first trial run of its "new Suez canal "

CAIRO: Egypt began today the first trial run of its "new Suez canal," officials and state media said, ahead of the formal inauguration of the new shipping route next month.

Dubbed the Suez Canal Axis, the new 72km project is aimed at speeding up traffic along the existing waterway by reducing the waiting period of vessels, as well as boosting revenues for Egypt.

It will run part of the way along the existing canal that connects the Red Sea to the Mediterranean.

"The first trial run for ships passing through the new Suez Canal started today," state news agency MENA reported.

Officials said six vessels in two fleets of three each were scheduled to cross through the expanded canal as part of the first trial run.

The fleet sailing from south to north had vessels flying flags of Singapore, Luxembourg and Bahrain. Those sailing from north to south had flags from Liberia, Singapore and Hong Kong.

The new waterway involves 37km of dry digging and 35 kilometres of expansion and deepening of the Suez Canal, in a bid to help speed up the movement of vessels.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi launched the project in August and set an ambitious target of digging the expanded canal within a year.

A ceremony will be held on August 6 to officially inaugurate the project.

The canal is part of an ambitious plan to develop the surrounding area into an industrial and commercial hub that would include the construction of ports and provide shipping services.

The new route is considered a "national project" that aims to kick-start an economy battered by years of political turmoil since the ouster of president Hosni Mubarak in 2011

Authorities raised 9 billion (7.9 billion euros) to build the new canal by selling shares in the project to domestic investors, with private Egyptian companies tasked with its construction.

It is expected to more than double Suez revenues from $5.3 billion expected at the end of 2015 to $13.2 billion in 2023, according to official estimates.

Built 146 years ago, the Suez Canal is one of the world's most heavily used shipping lanes and has been a key source of international trade.


Union minister Nirmala Seetharaman dared Rahul Gandhi to visit states ruled by his party to know the ground realities of agrarian crisis

COIMBATORE: Lashing out at Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for his interactions with farmers in non-Congress ruled states, Union minister Nirmala Seetharaman on Saturday dared him to visit states ruled by his party to know the ground realities of agrarian crisis.

"I challenge Rahul Gandhi, who is typical in handling the situation, to go to Congress-ruled states, especially Karnataka, where a large number of farmer suicides happened during the last few months," she told reporters here.

Referring to Gandhi's visits to Tamil Nadu and Anantpur in Andhra Pradesh to meet farmers, she said he should have at least gone to Maharashtra, where highest number of farmer suicides took place during the previous Congress regime.

She also sought to know what solutions he offered for these deaths.

On his opposition to the land bill, Seetharaman, who is the minister of state for commerce and industry, said from the tone of Gandhi's assertion that he would not allow even a piece of land to be acquired by the government, it appeared that he was against development.

Union minister Nirmala Seetharaman dared Cong vice-president to visit states ruled by his party to know the ground realities of agrarian crisis.
She also blamed Gandhi for the withdrawal of a project by POSCO in Odisha, after he called himself a 'sipahi' when he visited the tribals in the state.

After all, for whose benefit the land was being acquired, to build bridges, roads and other infrastructure, she added.

She disagreed with a suggestion that a cross section of people with high expectations was not happy with Narendra Modi's performance of one year in office.

"In fact, the impression what I get about the BJP government is that against the terrible odds and environment it is trying to revive the economy, which was in a shambles for the last 10 years," she said.

It was providing a transparent government, as evident from the auction of coal and spectrum through which the nation received Rs 2 lakh crore, with Supreme Court cancelling 122 coal blocks, she said.

"The mandate is for five years, we are just 12 months (old), give us time to redress the situation which had fallen to such a level," she said.

On trade agreements, Seetharaman said negotiations were on with countries like Australia and Canada and also European Union to have Free Trade Agreements.

To a question on the logjam in Parliament, the union minister, here to participate in a two-day business conference, expressed hope that the situation would return to normal.

Though the government agreed to a debate, the opposition backed out, as some of their leaders did not want discussions, she added.

source: agency

Kickstarting NDA's poll campaign in Bihar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi focussed his attack on former BJP ally and chief minister Nitish Kumar

MUZAFFARPUR (Bihar): Kickstarting NDA's poll campaign in Bihar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today focussed his attack on former BJP ally and chief minister Nitish Kumar, accusing him of "back-stabbing" the people of the state and alleging that there is some problem with his "DNA".

Modi also targeted Kumar for allying with RJD, saying he was trying to drag the state back to the 'jungle raj', and asked the voters to reject such people as they "cannot be trusted" again and elect NDA with a two-third majority for changing Bihar's fate.

He said Bihar will be given a special package "bigger" than Rs 50,000 crore which he had promised earlier and that will be announced after the end of Monsoon session of Parliament as his "lips are sealed till then".

Addressing a public meeting here, he said Kumar practices "political untouchability" as he recalled how the JD(U) leader had refused to entertain him after inviting him over dinner and had snapped ties with BJP because of his dislike towards him two years back.

Modi took a dig at Lalu for his comments about "drinking poison", which was made in an apparent reference to his accepting Kumar's leadership. He said while he had chosen to do so for his "vested interest", why was he forcing the people of Bihar to "drink poison" along with him.

"During the last elections, Kumar had said that if he was unable to provide electricity to entire Bihar, he would not come to ask for votes again in 2015...But have you got the electricity? It has not come. But he has come to ask for votes. He betrayed your trust. Forget me, he even back-stabbed you. Such people cannot be trusted again," he said.

Seeking to play a dalit card, he said Kumar had practised "political untouchability" not only towards him but also a "mahadalit" former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, an erstwhile leader of JD(U), who has since joined NDA.

He said even George Fernandes, former associate of Nitish Kumar, and BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi, were not treated well by him even though they had worked shoulder-to-shoulder with him.

"There seems to be some problem in his DNA because the DNA of democracy is not like that. In democracy, you give respect even to your political rivals," he said.

source: agency


Actress Parineeti Chopra says she cried a lot while watching Neeraj Ghaywan directorial "Masaan"

Actress Parineeti Chopra says she cried a lot while watching Neeraj Ghaywan directorial "Masaan".

"I cried a lot inside the theatre," Parineeti said at a special screening of the film here on Wednesday night.

Starring Richa Chadda, Vicky Kaushal, Sanjay Mishra, and Shweta Tripathi, the film won international accolades and awards at the Cannes Film Festival.

Though it is releasing on Friday, the film's screening is happening for the Bollywood fraternity here since last three days. From Rajkumar Hirani, Kabir Khan, Shabana Azmi to Dia Mirza, every one has been highly impressed by the film and now Parineeti joins the list of admirers.

"It is a very touching film. I cried a lot inside the theatre. Richa was amazing. I was so moved by Vicky's performance, so congratulation to the team. It will be a hit film" said Parineeti.

"It was an amazing film. I hope everybody goes and watch it!" added the actress who was last seen in "Kill Dil".

source: agency

Actor Varun Dhawan says the first look of Rohit Dhawan's directorial Dishoom will be out sometime beginning of next year

Actor Varun Dhawan says the first look of Rohit Dhawan's directorial Dishoom will be out sometime beginning of next year.

After Varun shared a photograph of himself in a khaki green Moroccan Pathani suit during his stay in Morocco for the film, it was assumed by many that the first look of Rohit's directorial has been unveiled.

The 28-year-old actor, who is also a part of the film, took to micro-blogging website to share the news with his fans and followers. "Hey guys the first look of #dishoom will be out sometime beginning of next year nothing is out as of now," Varun tweeted on Friday.

Dishoom, an action adventure film produced by Sajid Nadiadwala, has already gone on the floors and the shoot of the film is in full swing. The film also stars John Abraham and Jacqueline Fernandez in the lead roles.

source: agency

Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Bollywood superstar Salman Khan's Eid gift to his fans, is not only breaking records in India, but has also garnered appreciation at the Pakistan box office

Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Bollywood superstar Salman Khan's Eid gift to his fans, is not only breaking records in India, but has also garnered appreciation at the Pakistan box office - earning nearly Rs.6 million (INR3 million/$47,000) in its first week in Karachi and Islamabad alone.

The Kabir Khan directorial, which released in India and Pakistan on July 17, has left behind the collection of Pakistani films Bin Roye and Wrong Number.

According to Nadeem Mandviwalla, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, which focusses on the bond shared by a Pakistani mute girl and an Indian man, minted Rs.3.2 million in its first week, while Mahira Khan and Humayun Saeed-starrer Bin Roye raked in about Rs.2.8 million and Wrong Number managed to collect Rs.2.7 million in Mandviwalla-owned cinemas in Karachi and Islamabad, Dawn online reported on Friday.

Where Hollywood films like Minions, Terminator: Genysis and Ant-Man were unable make their presence felt, Bajrangi Bhaijaan also left behind Pakistan's regional cinema. Bajrangi Bhaijaan, which also stars Kareena Kapoor Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, collected Rs.2.5 million in Karachi's Capri Cinema.

The exact figures for the entire country will be known only after the film ends its run in Pakistan. Although Bajrangi Bhaijaan faced a lot of obstacles before its release in Pakistan, the film is drawing large audiences who are coming to see Salman in a role of a brotherly figure.

Meanwhile, the film is receiving enormous response at the box office in India. It collected Rs.184.62 crore in its opening week leaving behind Aamir Khan's "PK" (Rs.183.09 crore) and Shah Rukh Khan's Happy New Year (Rs.157.57 crore), according to trade analyst Taran Adarsh. "#BajrangiBhaijaan is now 3rd HIGHEST grosser of Salman, after #ETT (Ek Tha Tiger) and #Kick... Will emerge HIGHEST grosser in Week 2. India biz. AWESOME," Adarsh posted on Twitter on Friday.

source: agency

India's hockey coach Paul van Ass' brief tenure is all set to end following a bitter public spat with Hockey India president Narinder Batra

NEW DELHI: India's hockey coach Paul van Ass' brief tenure is all set to end following a bitter public spat with Hockey India president Narinder Batra after a special committee on Friday recommended his removal from the position.

The nine-member committee headed by Harbinder Singh, formed to decide on his future, has recommended that Van Ass, who had claimed that he has been fired following his altercation with Batra, should not be continued.

As per the procedure, it is now for Hockey India to make a formal announcement about the Dutchman's future with Indian hockey. Van Ass had taken over as the coach from Terry Walsh, incidentally also sacked after a spat with Batra, just five months ago.

The development leaves India without a coach with barely a year to go for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics for which the team has already qualified by virtue of their gold medal in last year's Asian Games.

The committee's decision also puts an end to days of uncertainty over the future of the Dutchman, who had gone on record to say that he was willing to come back as coach provided there was no interference.

"We gave our recommendation to Hockey India. Hockey India and Sports Authority of India will now take the final call," Harbinder said.

When prodded further, Harbinder said, "He has not yet submitted his report on Hockey World League semifinals. He is not taking our calls, nor responding to our mails. The tickets were sent to him but he lied he didn't receive any tickets."

"Under such circumstances, the committee has worked under the assumption that Paul won't return. There is no question of him returning. But Hockey India will take the final decision based on our report."


The government reiterated its commitment to provide non-discriminatory access to internet for all in the country and stick to the 'fundamental principles' of net neutrality

NEW DELHI: The government today reiterated its commitment to provide non-discriminatory access to internet for all in the country and stick to the 'fundamental principles' of net neutrality.

"Government is committed to the fundamental principles and concept of net neutrality and strives for non- discriminatory access to internet for all citizens of the country," telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a written statement to the Rajya Sabha.

Net neutrality implies that equal treatment be accorded to all internet traffic and no priority be given to an entity or company based on payment to content or service providers such as telecom companies, which is seen as discriminatory.

The neutrality debate flared up in India after telecom operator Airtel launched a platform, Airtel Zero, that would allow free access of some websites on its network. However, the companies were asked to pay Airtel for joining the platform.

The debate recently again picked up steam following a report released by the Department of Telecom panel.

The panel report earned sharp criticism from large section in the country as it proposed regulation of domestic calls made using internet-based calling or VoIP applications such as Skype, Whatsapp and Viber, and put them on par with phone call services offered by telecom operators.

At present, consumers can make a minute VoIP calls at almost negligible price compared to traditional calls.

The panel also opposed projects like Facebook's, which allows access to certain websites without mobile data charges, while suggesting that similar plans such as Airtel Zero be allowed with prior clearance from TRAI.

"Government has constituted a committee, which has submitted its report to the DoT. The report has been uploaded on website of DoT and MyGov portal on July 16, 2015 for comments and suggestions. The Committee report is not the government report which is yet to take a decision," Prasad said.

He further said the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India is also engaged in consultation process covering the issues related to Net neutrality, whose recommendations are awaited.

"Based on the committee report, comments and suggestions received and recommendations of TRAI, government will take a considered decision on various aspects of Net neutrality in the best interest of country," Prasad said.

source: agency

Army is facing a shortfall of nearly 10,000 officers while the Navy is facing a shortage of about 1,800

NEW DELHI: Army is facing a shortfall of nearly 10,000 officers while the Navy is facing a shortage of about 1,800.

Also, 644 officers have taken premature retirement from the Army since 2012. In the Navy, the figure stood at 343 while in the Air Force, it was 441.

Giving the details, defence minister Manohar Parrikar told the Lok Sabha in a written reply today that some of the major reasons for shortage in armed forces include increase in authorised strength due to new accretions in force level from time to time and availability of attractive alternate career avenues.

He also cited stringent selection criteria and difficult service conditions coupled with perceived high degree of risk.

Excluding the medical and dental branch, there are 9,642 vacant posts of officers in the Army, while the figure for the Navy is 1,779.

In another reply, Parrikar said there are 45,000 personnel under training for the Army, 10,523 for Navy and 11,979 for the Air Force.

The government has spent a total of Rs 2,409.3 crore on training since 2012.

He also said that the available strength of pilots in IAF is sufficient to meet operational requirements.

source: agency

Swiss food group Nestle has replaced the head of its Indian operations as the company battles its worst ever public relations crisis in the country

MUMBAI: Swiss food group Nestle has replaced the head of its Indian operations as the company battles its worst ever public relations crisis in the country, following a food scare that forced it to withdraw its popular instant noodles brand Maggi.

Nestle India said in a statement on Friday that its managing director for India, Etienne Benet, would move to the group's head office in Switzerland.

He will be replaced by Suresh Narayanan, a former Nestle India executive and currently chief executive of the company's Philippines unit. He will take the reins on Aug.

Analysts had been expecting a change in leadership for the business, which was widely criticised for its slow response to consumer worries over safety.

The company withdrew the noodles from the shelves of Indian stores last month. It has since challenged the findings of India's food safety authority in court.

"An Indian in India is able to possibly interact better with the government at large," said brand strategist Harish Bijoor.

Nestle has been at the centre of India's worst food scare in a decade, after a regulator in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh in May found excess lead in a sample of its popular Maggi noodles.

The Swiss firm had to bring group chief executive Paul Bulcke to calm consumers at a televised press conference last month, where he was frequently shouted down by Indian reporters.

Bulcke acknowledged the company had slipped in the way it handled the food scare. "If you have confusion there is something wrong with communications. That's why we are sitting here," he said at the event.

courtesy - reuters

BJP threatened to file criminal defamation case against Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi

NEW DELHI: BJP on Friday threatened to file criminal defamation case against Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for terming external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj's actions in the Lalit Modi issue as a "criminal act".

"Rahul Gandhi using these words is very unfortunate, undemocratic. And because of these words, I am demanding that Rahul Gandhi should make an apology to the country because it is not only defaming Sushma Swaraj, but defaming the foreign minister of the country, who is the representative of India in the world," Union minister Nitin Gadkari said.

"If Rahul Gandhi does not apologize, then it is a serious problem. We will have to file criminal defamation case against him," the BJP leader said while describing Gandhi's remarks against Swaraj as "childish" and "immature politics".

Stressing that allegations against Swaraj were "baseless", he said that she had not violated the law, constitution or indulged in any corrupt activities.

"Allegations against Sushma Swaraj are all are baseless.

She has neither violated any law nor our constitution. She has not indulged in any corrupt or illegal activity. She is a very prominent leader of the country," Gadkari said.

Speaking on the Lalit Modi controversy, Gandhi had said, "What we have said is that (there will be) no discussion without resignation. Sushma has done a criminal act. He (Lalit Modi) is a 'fugitive'. You have signed it (the recommendation for grant of travel document). The high commission does not know about it. The Indian government too in unaware of that.

source: agency


Researchers at the Birmingham university in UK have discovered that fragments of a Quran manuscript in the varsity library are among the oldest in the world

LONDON: Researchers at the Birmingham university in UK have discovered that fragments of a Quran manuscript in the varsity library are among the oldest in the world, dating back at least 1,370 years, close to the time of Prophet Muhammad.

Radiocarbon analysis has placed the parchment on which the text is written to the period between AD 568 and 645 with 95.4 per cent accuracy.

The test, which was carried out in a laboratory at the University of Oxford, places the parchment close to the time of Prophet Muhammad, who is generally thought to have lived between AD 570 and 632.

Consisting of two parchment leaves, the Quran manuscript contains parts of Suras (chapters) 18 to 20, written with ink in an early form of Arabic script known as Hijazi.

The Quran manuscript is part of the University's Mingana Collection of Middle Eastern manuscripts, held in the Cadbury Research Library. For many years, the manuscript had been misbound with leaves of a similar Quran manuscript, which is datable to the late seventh century.

"The radiocarbon dating has delivered an exciting result, which contributes significantly to our understanding of the earliest written copies of the Quran," said Susan Worrall, Director of Special Collections (Cadbury Research Library).

Dr Alba Fedeli, who studied the leaves as part of her PhD research, said: "The two leaves, which were radiocarbon dated to the early part of the seventh century, come from the same codex as a manuscript kept in the Bibliotheque Nationale de France in Paris."

"According to Muslim tradition, the Prophet Muhammad received the revelations that form the Quran, the scripture of Islam, between the years AD 610 and 632, the year of his death," said Professor David Thomas, Professor of Christianity and Islam and Nadir Dinshaw Professor of Interreligious Relations at the University of Birmingham.

"At this time, the divine message was not compiled into the book form in which it appears today. Instead, the revelations were preserved in 'the memories of men'. Parts of it had also been written down on parchment, stone, palm leaves and the shoulder blades of camels," he said.

"The tests carried out on the parchment of the Birmingham folios yield the strong probability that the animal from which it was taken was alive during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad or shortly afterwards," Thomas said.

"This means that the parts of the Quran that are written on this parchment can, with a degree of confidence, be dated to less than two decades after Muhammad's death.

"These portions must have been in a form that is very close to the form of the Quran read today, supporting the view that the text has undergone little or no alteration and that it can be dated to a point very close to the time it was believed to be revealed," Thomas said.

source: agency

A total of 228 CRPF jawans committed suicide in the last seven years

NEW DELHI: A total of 228 CRPF jawans committed suicide in the last seven years even as the government said Yoga has been made compulsory for all paramilitary forces, beginning this year.

"Yes, according to available data, 228 jawans of CRPF had committed suicide. The causative factors in most of the cases were found to be generally the personal and domestic problems, like marital discord, personal enmity, mental illness, depression etc.

"In few cases the same could be owing to the work related stress," minister of state for Home Kiren Rijiju told Rajya Sabha in a written reply.

He was asked if these suicides in the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), country's largest central armed police force, took place between 2008-2014.

The CRPF has close to 3-lakh personnel in its ranks. Rijiju added the Ministry has issued instructions to these forces including CRPF, BSF, CISF, ITBP, SSB and NSG to "incorporate Yoga as part of daily physical exercise in field formations."

"It would be appropriate to incorporate Yoga as a part of daily routine of paramilitary personnel. This will also help the paramilitary personnel to beat their stress, if any, and keep them physically as well as mentally better off," he said.

source: agency

The Chinese firm, which reportedly manufactured the drone downed by Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC), said the unmanned aircraft was not sold to any government

BEIJING: The Chinese firm, which reportedly manufactured the drone downed by Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC), said the unmanned aircraft was not sold to any government, reinforcing India's stand that it was not in its armed forces' inventory.

Chinese drone maker, DJI, announced that governments are not their direct customers, in response to an earlier report that the alleged Indian "spy drone" shot down by Pakistan was made by it, the Global Times reported.

Earlier in an embarrassment for Pakistan, Chinese official media, the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC)-run People's Daily Online, reported that the phantom 3 drone was made in China by DJI, confirming Indian stance that it was of Chinese design.

The Pakistani army had shot down the drone along the LoC on July 15 claiming it was from India.

Foreign secretary S Jaishankar who refuted Pakistan's claims of shooting down an Indian drone also said that it was not in the inventory of the Indian defence forces.

Pakistan had summoned Indian High Commissioner to Islamabad TCA Raghavan to lodge a protest over it.

The confirmation by the Chinese official media has put Pakistan in a fix considering the close strategic relations between Islamabad and Beijing.

The Global Times report also quoted DJI as saying that it is not difficult to purchase their drones through its website or through any vendors.

DJI is a Chinese technology company founded in 2006 by Frank Wang and headquartered in Shenzhen, Guangdong.

source: agency

Gujarat police has opposed in the SC the anticipatory bail plea of Teesta Setalvad, saying the social activist and her husband "misappropriated" funds meant for charity

NEW DELHI: Gujarat police has opposed in the Supreme Court the anticipatory bail plea of Teesta Setalvad, saying the social activist and her husband "misappropriated" funds meant for charity for personal expenses ranging from wine, ear buds to expensive mobile phone besides tampering with evidence.

The state police in its affidavit said Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand as trustees of two trusts - Sabrang Trust and Citizen for Justice and Peace (CJP) - have by "diverse methods" allegedly "misappropriated the funds of charity and converted to their own use funds meant for the rehabilitation and welfare of the unfortunate victims of riots in Gujarat in Feb-March 2002," including construction of "dream museum".

It said the probe into the case of alleged embezzlement of funds for a museum at Gulbarg society, devastated in the 2002 riots, revealed that expenses of "very personal nature" have been debited by them under the head "Secular Education" or "Legal Aid Expenses".

It said the probe is supported by evidence like vouchers having dates and amounts incurred on consumption of wine, whiskey and rum, purchase of movie CDs of Singham, Jodha Akbar and PAA, payment for several pairs of spectacles, wining and dining at some of the best restaurants and fast food outlets of Mumbai.

The crime branch said under the heading of "secular education" and "legal aid expenses", the investigation revealed that Setalvad claimed reimbursement towards purchase of sanitary napkins in the name of medical expense and "surprisingly" her husband too claimed reimbursement for it.

Further, purchases of purely personal items like ear buds, wet wipes, nail clippers, ladies personal items, several books including romantic novels like Mills and Boons and Thrillers like Total Control, Blackberry phone and clothes were made from the funds of Sabrang Trust.

The affidavit said, interestingly the investigation which is based on "limited documents" submitted by the couple recently to the investigating officer, also throws light that funds were used for hair styling expenses incurred by Setalvad during her trips to Rome and Pakistan and also for Gulbarg Society functions.

The affidavit said 45 per cent of total funds received by Sabrang Trust in 2008-13 have gone to Setalvad and her husband either directly or through Sabrang Communication Pvt Limited (SCPPL) which was fully owned by them.

"The inescapable conclusion is that the entire amount paid by Sabrang Trust to SCPPL has been siphoned off by petitioner under the guise of cash withdrawal and cheque payments. SCPPL is a vehicle used by the petitioners for the purpose of siphoning donations to the Sabrang Trust," it said.

It said notices were sent to the two trusts' auditors whose replies not only indicated non-cooperation but also contained an allegation by one of them that the couple were not cooperating with the said auditor.

It further said that the couple as trustees of Sabrang Trust has pocketed in excess of 20 per cent of the donation to the Trusts on an annualized basis towards salary alone.

"In addition to salary, the petitioners (Setalvad and her husband) have claimed medical allowance of Rs 25,000 each. The riot victims have received no medical allowance whereas the petitioners have claimed these medical expenses and even exceeded this liberal allowance in some years," it said.

The affidavit said that after 2009, when the salary of both husband and wife started increasing "exponentially" every year, to evade disclosing misappropriation they unilaterally altered the prescribed form, i.e Schedule IX of income and expenditure statement submitted to the charity commissioner.

"This doctored Schedule IX( not in prescribed form) did not contain the entry 'Remuneration to trustees'. The motive was to suppress from the Charity Commissioner that the petitioners were receiving not only salary but exorbitant salary, thus concealing one of the more detectable modes of siphoning the trust's charitable funds," it said.

The probe found audited statement of accounts of Sabrang Trust was not submitted to the Charity Commissioner for six years from 2002 to 2008 and audited statements of accounts were filed in March 2014 after lodging of FIR in Janyary 2014.

Similar was the case with CJP as its audited statements of accounts was submitted in one lot in January 2012 for the period from April 2003 to March 2010.

Gujarat police accused the couple of non-cooperating with probe and giving stock reply. They supplied limited documents which "unambiguously disclose the patent fraud on their part and expose their protestations as being hollow," it said.

The couple, who have been fighting for justice for the victims of the riots, have denied all allegations contending that they have been implicated in the case and were victims of political vendetta.

source: agency

The landmark bill on GST won majority support of the Rajya Sabha select committee

NEW DELHI: The landmark bill on GST on Wednesday won majority support of the Rajya Sabha select committee, which endorsed almost all the provisions while also agreeing to demands of parties like TMC for a five-year compensation to states.

The committee, headed by BJP's Bhupender Yadav, in its report submitted to the House suggested changes in clauses pertaining to compensation and levy of 1 per cent additional tax by the states on inter-state supply of goods.

The report, however, is marked by dissent notes from Congress, AIADMK and Left parties, which have expressed their opposition to the GST Constitution Amendment Bill in the existing form.

The bill, which has already been approved by Lok Sabha, will now have to be taken up for passage in the Upper House. As it is a Constitution Amendment Bill, the bill has to be approved by two-third members in the Rajya Sabha.

The ruling BJP government does not have a majority in Rajya Sabha and will have to depend upon support of regional parties and allies for passage of the bill.

The committee has suggested that the provision in the bill that provided Centre "may" compensate states for a period up to five years for any revenue loss be substituted by a commitment for compensation for five years.

In a clause relating to levy of 1 per cent additional tax by states, the committee suggested that the levy should only on "all forms of supply made for a consideration".

It, however, retained the representation of the Centre and States at the proposed level at one-third and two-third despite demand to reduce Centre's representation to one-fourth.

The government's plans to roll out a single-rate Goods and Services Tax (GST) by April 1, 2016. The GST, which is being touted as the biggest reform in the indirect taxation since independence, would subsume levies like excise, service tax, and other local levies.

"Administratively we are taking all steps both Centre and states to meet April 2016 deadline. Effort would be to have reasonable rate of GST so that GST experience is a successful experience for the whole country," Revenue Secretary Shaktikanta Das told reporters here.

source: agency

Microsoft Corp reported a $3.2 billion quarterly net loss

Microsoft Corp reported a $3.2 billion quarterly net loss, its biggest ever, as the company wrote down its Nokia phone business and demand fell for its Windows operating system.

The company took a charge of $7.5 billion in the fourth quarter related to the restructuring of its Nokia handset business, which it bought last year.

Microsoft's shares fell 4% to $45.38 in extended trading on Tuesday.

Under chief executive Satya Nadella, the company has been shifting its focus to software and cloud services as demand for its once-popular Windows operating system slows.

Sales of Windows to computer manufacturers to install on new PCs fell 22% in the quarter. The company is scheduled to roll out Windows 10 on July 29, a much-awaited launch after a lackluster response to Windows 8.

Microsoft wants to generate revenue by building search and gaming into the Windows 10 interface, Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood said in April.

Bing, the company's online search engine, will be profitable in the year ending June 2016, Hood said on Tuesday.

Sales of Windows to businesses fell 21% from the year-earlier quarter, when demand for the operating system had surged after Microsoft discontinued support for Windows XP.

Revenue from Microsoft's commercial cloud business, which includes offerings such as Office 365 and Azure, rose 96%, excluding the impact of a strong dollar.

Microsoft said it added 3 million subscribers for Office 365 in the quarter, taking the total number of subscribers for the product to 15.2 million at the end of June.

The company said this month that it would cut 7,800 jobs, or nearly 7% of its workforce, mainly in the phone hardware business.

Microsoft reported a net loss of 40 cents per share for the quarter ended June 30. The company had posted net income of $4.61 billion, or 55 cents per share, a year earlier.

Microsoft also took a charge of $940 million related to job cuts announced this month and last year.

courtesy - reuters

Banning Indian doctors and medical students from wearing long-sleeved white coats could reduce the spread of infections in hospitals, says a new study

BENGALURU: Banning Indian doctors and medical students from wearing long-sleeved white coats could reduce the spread of infections in hospitals, says a new study.

"Long sleeved coats spread infection and lead to avoidable harm and cost to patients," said Edmond Fernandes, a postgraduate at Yenepoya Medical College in Bengaluru.

"Every hospital should have a committee to check and respond to hospital acquired infections," he added.

"But an easy win would be for India's ministry of health to ban doctors and medical students from wearing white coats, to reduce the harm and cost that results from hospital acquired infections," Fernandes said in the study published in the journal The BMJ.

"Although long sleeved white coats have traditionally been worn by doctors since the 19th century, we now know that white coats harbour potential contaminants and contribute considerably to the burden of disease acquired in hospital by spreading infection," Fernandes added.

He said that in India, changing areas in hospitals are rare because of space constraints, so white coats are commonly worn by students coming from college and outside the hospital. They are also often left on chairs, tables, and in corridors.

He added that in many cities in India some junior doctors are also now seen wearing white coats in shopping malls and cinemas too, and then they enter sterile zones in the hospital in the same attire.

"Given India's tropical climate, common sense indicates that we should discourage wearing white coats that are washed perhaps only every few weeks," Fernandes said.

In 2007, the United Kingdom took the landmark decision to ban long sleeved white coats - and that in 2009, the American Medical Association wanted to follow suit and dump the white coats, "but the proposal was dismissed because clinicians wanted to keep their traditional gowns", he said.

"White coats are mere symbolism and wearing them does not itself confer status or professionalism," Fernandes added.

"Dressing presentably and sporting a smile are more important than white coats and that institutions should give every medical student and doctor a recognisable name badge to wear," he said.

source: agency

VVS Laxman termed the suspension of two Indian Premier League (IPL) teams Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) as unfortunate

MUMBAI: Former India batsman VVS Laxman on Wednesday termed the suspension of two Indian Premier League (IPL) teams Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) as unfortunate, but added nothing is bigger than cricket and the game will ultimately emerge victorious despite the controversy.

"Suspension of both the IPL teams is very unfortunate. There are lot of positives as far as IPL is concerned. No one is bigger than the game. And I think the focus is and will always be on cricket and cricket will be the ultimate winner," Laxman said in an interview here.

The Supreme Court appointed Justice Lodha Committee suspended the two IPL franchises on July 14 and banned their two team officials, Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra, respectively, for life from cricketing activities.

After the suspension, the Board of Control of for Cricket in India (BCCI) named a working group comprising Sourav Ganguly, Rajeev Shukla, Anurag Thakur and Anirudh Chaudhry to study the verdict and prepare a road map for IPL's future.

"I am big believer the exposure that young cricketers get to share the dressing rooms with some of the legends in the game is just because of IPL. I think there are very few negative incidents in IPL, but overall I think IPL is positive for budding cricketers for the country," he said.

"This is definitely not good for the brand IPL. But the amount of good cricket that we have seen in the last IPL, competitive cricket was seen being played."

The 40-year-old, who teamed up with website as a chief cricket mentor, said it is too early to say it is a setback for the young players who are part of the two franchises.

"BCCI has formed a working group which will be taking a decision. It's too early to say and BCCI is the best body to decide over the course of the action and take this forward," he said.

The former right-hand batsman also said BCCI should focus on hiring the best man as the coach of the India team irrespective of his nationality. for the vacant post of coach of the Indian team.

"It doesn't matter if it is an Indian coach or overseas coach as long as we get the best candidate to do the best possible job. It's important to get the most capable person as coach. A coach's role is not just about strategy but to maintain a healthy team environment," he said.

The prolific batsman identified Chandu Borde was the best Indian coach he played under. Laxman also praised the role of the team's director Ravi Shastri but insisted the final call rests with the captain.

"One person should be in charge of the team. Ravi Shastri has done very well with the team as team director. Coach or team director is important but a captain is the leader who will guide and runs his team forward," he said.

The Hyderabadi tipped new Test skipper Virat Kohli to excel in his new role because of his aggressive and positive mentality.

"Virat's strength is his positive attitude and aggression. He will learn more and become more mature as a cricketer. He is someone who is keen to improve. He will do well as a Test captain."

The former middle-order batter revealed that Pakistan pace legend Wasim Akram was the most challenging bowler he faced during his playing days.

"The reason for that is he had a lot of variations, control over his bowling and could swing both the new and the old ball," he explained.

source: agency


Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists are using birds strapped with explosives to target the enemy

LONDON: Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists are using birds strapped with explosives to target the enemy, a media report said on Tuesday.

Pictures of the radical group using bomb vests strapped to poultry have emerged on social media, Mirror Online reported citing a Daily Star report.

The report said the birds are encouraged to wander into enemy territory so that the explosive device can be detonated via remote control. However, experts believe the bizarre images could be a sign that ISIS is running out of supplies.

According to a report by British newspaper Daily Star, ISIS fighters are trying to make their own bombs using mortar shells, gas canisters and fertilizer as their delivery lines leading to Syria and Iraq have been cut.

Other pictures have also emerged on social media showing improvised weaponry, the report added.

source: agency

A new USD 100 billion bank floated by BRICS nations, including India, as an alternative to the World Bank and IMF to boost infrastructure funding in the emerging economies

SHANGHAI: A new USD 100 billion bank floated by BRICS nations, including India, as an alternative to the World Bank and IMF to boost infrastructure funding in the emerging economies and offer them tailor-made services was launched here on Tuesday.

The opening ceremony of the New Development Bank (NDB) was held here in China's financial capital. Chinese finance minister Lou Jiwei, Shanghai Mayor Yang Xiong and the bank's President K V Kamath attended the opening ceremony.

Kamath, 67, who will be the bank's president for the first five years, said he was confident of delivering on people's expectations from the new bank.

"Countries should closely cooperate," Kamath, a former executive with India's largest private bank ICICI Bank, said.

"We will listen carefully to our members and try to offer tailor-made services for them," he said.

BRICS economies — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — launched the multi-billion dollar development bank at the 7th BRICS summit held in the Russian city of Ufa on July 8 amid efforts to finance infrastructure projects, mainly in member countries.

"The NDB will supplement the existing international financial system in a healthy way and explore innovations in governance models," Lou said at a seminar following the launch of the bank.

"Its creation is to meet the urgent demand of such countries in infrastructure construction and beyond," he said, adding it will complement the existing international banking system, instead of challenging it.

The NDB will have initial capital of USD 50 billion, which will be expanded to USD 100 billion within the next couple of years.

Each BRICS member will contribute an equal share in establishing a startup capital.

BRICS nations, with 42.6 per cent of the world's total population and roughly one third of the world's land area, have a combined GDP accounting for about one fifth of the world total.

The NDB was conceived as a counterbalance to US-led financial institutions like the World Bank and IMF by providing funding for infrastructure and development projects in BRICS countries. Each nation will have an equal say in the bank's management, regardless of GDP size, according its officials.

The NDB is also backed by the China-floated USD 50 billion Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in which India and 56 other countries have joined.

The World Bank welcomed the opening of NDB.

"We would like to congratulate Mr K V Kamath, President of the New Development Bank, and the founding members — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa — on this important occasion," World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said in a statement.

"We are committed to working closely with the New Development Bank and other multilateral institutions, offering to share our knowledge and to co-finance infrastructure projects. These types of partnerships will be essential to reach our common goals to end extreme poverty by 2030, boost shared prosperity, and to reduce inequalities," Kim said.

source: agency

Falling for the second day, gold prices declined by Rs 85, or 0.34 per cent, to Rs 24,949 per 10 grams

NEW DELHI: Falling for the second day, gold prices declined by Rs 85, or 0.34 per cent, to Rs 24,949 per 10 grams due to speculative selling after weak global cues.

At the Multi Commodity Exchange, gold for delivery in August shed Rs 85, or 0.34 per cent, to Rs 24,949 per ten grams in business turnover of 323 lots.

In a similar fashion, the metal for delivery in far-month October fell by Rs 80, or 0.32 per cent, to Rs 25,163 per ten grams in 25 lots.

Analysts said sustained fall in the metal's prices at futures trade was mostly in tandem with global sell-offs.

A strong dollar, trading at three-month high against basket of currencies overseas on expectations the Federal Reserve will raise rates this year, eroded demand for the precious metal as an alternative investment.

Globally, gold plunged 3.14 per cent to USD 1,097.70 an ounce in New York yesterday.



4G services - Bharti Airtel is planning to launch Airtel branded smartphones for Rs 4,000

NEW DELHI: To counter Reliance Jio's bid to capture the 4G services market with low cost bundled handsets, telecom major Bharti Airtel is planning to launch Airtel branded smartphones for Rs 4,000 by October-November.

"Airtel is in advanced stages to finalise vendors to launch dual mode 4G handset in the price range of Rs 4,000-12,000. Negotiations are around if it should be only Airtel branded handset or co-branded handsets," a industry source privy to the development said.

The company is in discussions with Chinese vendors and even held talks with Taiwan based Foxconn, which has set up its mobile manufacturing plant in India.

However, no immediate comments were received from Airtel and Foxconn.

RIL Chairman Mukesh Ambani in the company's annual general meeting said that with the effort of Reliance Jio Infocomm, the country will get to see 4G mobile phones for less than Rs 4,000.

This will be second time entry of Mukesh Ambani in the telecom space. In 2003, Reliance launched mobile phones for Rs 500 which led to immediate jump in its subscriber base.

Sources added that the handset will come with long term bundled plan but may not be locked only to the Airtel network.

"It will support both FDD and TDD LTE network. It will not be locked handset but will come with bundled plans which the company feels will glue customers to its network. Expected time line for launch of these handsets is around the upcoming festive season of Diwali, say October-November," the source said.

Airtel has started launching 4G service across the country in a phased manner.

The telco had launched India's first 4G services in Kolkata around 3 years ago. It has launched services across cities like Nagpur, Aurangabad, Bengaluru, Pune, Chandigarh, and Patiala among others.

Further, 4G trials have been launched for existing Airtel customers in Delhi, Hyderabad, Vizag, Madurai, Chennai, Coimbatore and Mumbai.

source: agency

A prominent Tibetan monk whose death in jail in China last week raised new questions about the rights of the Tibet community, suffered a heart attack- Xinhua news agency

BEIJING: A prominent Tibetan monk whose death in jail in China last week raised new questions about the rights of the Tibet community, suffered a heart attack after often refusing to see doctors or take medicine, the Xinhua news agency reported.

Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, 65, died in the Dazhu County People's Hospital in southwest China's Sichuan province, near the prison where he had been serving a life sentence for "crimes of terror and incitement of separatism".

Tenzin Delek Rinpoche's sister, Dolkar, said on Thursday he had been cremated against his family's wishes and in violation of Tibetan Buddhist traditions. She also said officials had not told her the cause of his death, adding to her suspicions.

The Xinhua state news agency said a guard had found Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was not breathing after he took a nap at around mid-day on July 12.

"Doctors of the hospital's emergency centre came to rescue and sent him for further treatment in the hospital's ICU (intensive care unit)," Xinhua said, adding he was declared dead about an hour later.

His right to health care has been guaranteed since his imprisonment but "many times, (he) either refused to see doctors or take medicine, fluctuating his symptoms", it said.

Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was a supporter of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader who Beijing accuses of being a dangerous separatist.

He was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve in 2003 after being found guilty of masterminding five bombings in Sichuan province, Xinhua said. The sentence was later commuted to life in prison.

The United States, the European Union and international rights groups had called for his release.

China has ruled Tibet with an iron fist since it took over the region in 1950, and has cracked down heavily on those who support the Dalai Lama, who fled into India in 1959 following an abortive uprising.

courtesy - reuters


Bollywood actor Salman khan has voiced his opinion on Net Neutrality

When it is about voicing opinion, Bollywood actor Salman Khan is the first person one can think of. Salman, whose movie 'Bajrangi Bhaijaan' is already rocking the theatres, has voiced his opinion on Net Neutrality.

During the promotional event of his latest movie in Mumbai, the 49-year-old actor said, "As long as you go with a real identity, it is fine. However, there should be control over making fake identities as people often make fake identities for several reasons and take it to another level. I believe we all are cowards."

Further, the 'Dabangg' Khan expressed that he believes one should keep their thoughts and language under control to not become a bad influence for kids who are on the same platform and if one really wants to voice their opinion then they should take the responsibility for the same as hiding behind a fictitious name is abusing the right to express.

Present at the moment, Kabir Khan, the director of 'Bajrangi Bhaijaan' added to what Salman had said, "I think it is a very positive development and government should not get into each and every aspect of our life. They need to get away from the regressive thoughts of controlling what people say because people are intelligent enough to decide good and bad for themselves."

Salman, during the event, also revealed that he will be celebrating Eid by relaxing with his family after which he will soon start shooting for Sooraj R. Barjatya's Prem Ratan Dhan Payo.

source: agency

A Maharashtra-based senior IIS officer has been given additional charge as Director of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII)

A Maharashtra-based senior IIS officer has been given additional charge as Director of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), which has been rocked by a students agitation over appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as chairman.

Prashant Pathrabe, a 1992 batch officer of Indian Information Service (IIS), has been given temporary charge as Director of the FTII by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry as the term of the incumbent, D J Narain, is ending this week, a senior official said.

Pathrabe said that he received the Ministry's order today. Asked about the students' agitation in FTII, he said he will talk about it only after taking charge but added that it was a "difficult situation" and he hoped to do his best. Pathrabe is the Director of PIB unit in Pune, where he will continue to work, officials said.

"He (Pathrabe) has been given additional charge as Director of the Institute as the tenure of Narain was ending," a senior official said in Delhi. Pathrabe is also a former director of the National Film Archive of India (NFAI). He had been in the media field for nearly two decades, having worked in Doordarshan News and AIR News in Mumbai. He did his MBA from IIM, Ahmedabad and joined the Indian Information Service after a couple of short stints in the private sector.

His appointment as Director of FTII comes at a time when the institute is at the centre of a major controversy with students boycotting classes after government announced its decision to appoint Chauhan as the head of its governing council. The FTII administration too has taken a tough stand, asking students to resume academic activities or else face action including possible rustication. The students' strike against Chauhan's appointment today entered its 36th day.

source: agency

India and Pakistan were involved in 'visa war' with both sides accusing each other of not issuing assignment visas to their diplomats and officials

NEW DELHI: India and Pakistan were involved in 'visa war' on Friday with both sides accusing each other of not issuing assignment visas to their diplomats and officials, amid the ongoing tension between the two countries over ceasefire violations along their border in Jammu & Kashmir.

While India maintained that Pakistan has not issued visas to its 12 officials including to a Naval attache, Pakistan said it has recently issued several assignment visas to Indian officials but none were issued by India.

"It is, unfortunately, the Indian side which links issuance of visa to everything else. Pakistan has recently issued several assignment visas to Indian officials but none were issued by India. Visas to our diplomats and officials including air and naval attaches are stuck with India now for many months," Pakistani sources said.

Countering Pakistan, government sources here said there are only five officials who have not been granted visas due to some issues. They also criticised Pakistani authorities for not issuing visa to an Indian yoga instructor to take part in International Yoga Day celebrations organized by the Indian high commission in Islamabad.

On its part, Pakistan said India "unhelpfully continues to link all other administrative aspects to the visa issue which is indeed regrettable and is lately behaving in most uncooperative way".

The present row between the two countries comes amidst heightened tension along their border resulting in casualties on both sides following which India warned Pakistan of "effective and forceful" response to unprovoked firing and cross-border terrorism.

source: agency

Expelled AAP leader Prashant Bhushan lashed out at Arvind Kejriwal

NEW DELHI: Expelled AAP leader Prashant Bhushan on Friday lashed out at Arvind Kejriwal, calling him "shameless" and "hypocrite", after the Delhi chief minister said he would be happy if the activist-lawyer, along with Yogendra Yadav, return to the party fold.

In a tweet, Bhushan said that "after abusing" and "orchestrating" a physical attack by his MLAs in the NC meeting, Kejriwal wants them "back!, Hypocrite Shameless!"

Bhushan, one of the founder leaders of AAP, rebelled against the party leadership, raising questions over an array of issues in the organisation and questioning Kejriwal's leadership. This included giving tickets to controversial figures.

After abusing 'Sale, Kamine' and orchestrating a physical attack by his MLAs in the NC meeting, Kejriwal wants us back! Hypocrite Shameless!

Bhushan and Yadav had also cautioned the party over giving ticket to arrested law minister Jitendra Singh Tomar over the allegations of fake degree.

They had also alleged of orchestrating physical assault in the controversial National Council meeting on March 28. The duo was later expelled from the party in April this year for "anti-party" activities. Later, they formed the 'Swaraj Abhiyan.'

In an interview to a news channel Kejriwal had said he would be happy if the duo return to the party.

"Agar aisa hua to bahut achcha hoga (If it happens, it will be very good). Their return will be good for the party," the AAP chief said, denying allegations that his dictatorial attitude prevents their return.

Taking a dig at Kejriwal over Tomar, the Swaraj Abhiyan leader said Kejriwal was lying.

"After HC issued notice on Tomar's fake degrees on Feb 4, and both Universities had declared them fake, Kejriwal says he didn't know! Liar!" Bhushan tweeted.

source: agency


“Hindu Puja Room” at Phillips Exeter Academy

The prestigious Phillips Exeter Academy (PEA) in New Hampshire (USA) has a Hindu Puja Room in which hour-long Hindu puja (prayer) is held on Sunday evenings which is open to all PEA community.

Holi is also celebrated on the campus and it hosts a Diwali dinner, reports suggest.

Applauding PEA for provision of “Hindu Puja Room”, distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, described it as a step in the positive direction. Zed commended PEA for recognizing the intersection of spirituality and education, which was important in Hinduism.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, urged all USA universities, colleges and residential schools; both public and private; to respond to the spiritual needs of diverse student body and provide permanent and dedicated Hindu prayer/meditation room for rituals, quiet reflection, festivals and spiritual exercise. It would help in the personal growth of Hindu students who were present in substantial numbers on various campuses. It was important to meet the spiritual needs of these students, Zed added.

Rajan Zed suggested that these Hindu prayer rooms should have an altar containing murtis (statues) of popular Hindu deities like Shiva, Vishnu, Rama, Krishna, Durga, Venkateshwara, Ganesha, Murugan, Saraswati, Hanuman, Lakshmi, Kali, etc.; besides being equipped with ghanta (big metallic bell hanging from the ceiling), dholak (two-headed hand-drum), Shiva-linga, etc. He or other Hindu scholars would be glad to help, if asked, regarding the structure of “Hindu Prayer Room”, Zed indicated.

Phillips Exeter Academy, a co-educational residential school founded in 1781 and serving over 1000 students, offers over 400 courses on a 671 acres campus in Exeter. It claims to teach students to "combine knowledge with goodness" and its tuition for boarding students is $46,905 and operating budget $93 million. Thompson Hutton and Thomas E. Hassan are Trustees President and Principal respectively and its alumni include Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, 14th US President Franklin Pierce, statesman Daniel Webster and writer Gore Vidal.

Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.


Andhra Pradesh - At least 27 people were killed and dozens injured in a stampede during the mahapushkaram

At least 27 people were killed and dozens injured on Tuesday in a stampede during the mahapushkaram, a Hindu religious bathing festival on the Godavari river bank, in Andhra Pradesh.

The incident happened around 8am at Rajahmundry soon after chief minister Chandrababu Naidu and his family took the holy dip and left the place.

Some pilgrims trying to retrieve their shoes which had fallen off in the rush triggered the stampede as tens of thousands of people pushed forward to bathe in the Godavari on the first day of the festival, police said.

Some witnesses said several devotees tried to climb a wall along the popular pushkar ghat while others pushed forward, triggering a stampede.

Chief minister Naidu said 27 pilgrims died and an additional 34 people, mostly women and children, were hospitalised with injuries.

Naidu visited the injured in the hospital and announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the families of the deceased.

“It is regrettable that lives are lost ... Situation is brought under control. Request people not to panic and head to other ghats to avoid overcrowding at a single ghat,” he tweeted.

About 24 million people are expected to take part in the festival at varying points along the Godavari, which flows through the recently-bifurcated states of Andhra Pradesh and  Telangana.

The authorities had prepared 275 ghats along the river but failed to contain the crowd on Day One rushing towards the main pushkar ghat in Rajahmundry.

Officials said a small place like Rajahmundry could not cope with the rush and the situation became almost unmanageable. Some pilgrims said ambulances took time to reach the site because the roads were overcrowded with people.

Devotees believe a dip in the river can rid them of their sins and thousands of them, riding in buses, trains and other vehicles, started reaching the pilgrimage centre two days ahead of festival.

“There is a false belief that taking a holy dip in the river on the first day of the festival will be more auspicious,” said Swamy Swaroopanand, a holy man. V Satyanarayana, a pilgrim who was at the site, said the stampede lasted nearly 20 minutes.

“It was a frightening situation, with women and children crying for help," he said. “The policemen on duty were helpless and it took more than an hour to bring the situation under control.”

With the bodies of victims lying around, relatives wailed and cried for help.

“This is an unfortunate incident even after all the precautions taken and monitored by the CM himself. We are rushing medical teams to help the victims,” health minister Kamineni Srinivas Rao said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too, took to Twitter to express his pain at the loss of lives. “My condolences to the families of the deceased and prayers with the injured.”

Telangana chief minister Chandrasekhar Rao, a bitter political rival of Naidu, said he was shocked and hoped there would be no more untoward incident during the rest of the 12-day festival.

Deadly stampedes are fairly common during Indian religious festivals, where large crowds gather in small areas with few safety or crowd control measures. In October 2013, a stampede in Madhya Pradesh killed more than 110 people, mostly women and children.

courtesy - HT

Business activity picked up in the second quarter of 2015 - Goldman Sachs

NEW DELHI: Business activity picked up in the second quarter of 2015, largely on the back of better investment demand and improvements in commercial vehicle sales, Goldman Sachs said on Tuesday.

The global financial giant said its composite gauge of business activities is showing a gradual recovery after a "surprising slowdown since the last quarter of 2014", but it cautioned that there is not yet a broad-based recovery.

"While on balance activity data seem to be turning more positive, we would caution that there is not yet a broad-based recovery," Goldman Sachs said in its Global Macro Research Report authored by Tushar Poddar and Vishal Vaibhaw.

The Goldman Sachs India Current Activity Indicator (CAI) increased to 5.6 per cent in May from 4.3 per cent in April and 4.4 per cent in the first quarter of this year.

CAI is an activity index that maps monthly and sequential real activity from 14 data indicators into one series.

The key drivers of this improvement include industrial production, commercial vehicles sales, total traffic in ships, air cargo, visitor arrivals, and trade, the report said.

Despite the official May industrial production data coming in weaker than expected, there is still an improvement on a qoq basis, it added.

According to Goldman Sachs, higher government spending is likely a key reason for the recent pick-up in domestic demand.

"After the sharp contraction seen in Q1 2015, government spending increased in April-May at the start of the new fiscal year, with the share of spending at 14.8 per cent of total budgeted spending for FY16, higher than the average of the past five years of 13 per cent," Goldman Sachs said.

It further noted that "significantly higher collections of fuel taxes can help fund the increase of government spending on capex".

Meanwhile, though trade data remain weak, Goldman Sachs expects an improvement in this space as well, in line with a pick-up in global growth.

On policy rates, Goldman Sachs said the Reserve Bank is likely to stay on hold during the current financial year as various forward-looking indicators suggest some easing in financial conditions.

"Given the 75 bps of rate cuts already delivered and the gradual increase in GDP growth, we expect RBI to remain on hold through FY16," the report said.

RBI, in its last policy review on June 2, had cut the repo rate by 0.25 per cent for the third time this year to spur investment and growth, but hinted that there may not be any more cuts in the near term.

As per the report, consumption demand remains "tepid", though some positive signs are emerging from urban demand. However, rural demand remains very weak as suggested by still low rural wage growth, weak sales of fast-moving consumer goods and sluggish two-wheeler sales.

"In light of the evidence from all the recently released data, we think that there will only be a gradual improvement in GDP growth to 7.6 per cent in FY16 from 7.3 per cent in FY15," Goldman Sachs added.

source: agency