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Obama's Golden Temple visit: Punjab seeks PM's help

Chandigarh: Punjab has sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's intervention in US President Barack Obama's proposed visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar which ran into trouble over the issue of what headgear he should wear to enter the Sikh shrine. "Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has written a letter to the prime minister in this regard. We want him to raise this issue and clear all the misunderstandings. We want that no wrong message should be sent in the international community about this," Harcharan Bains, Badal's media advisor, told reporters here today.

He added: "In such high-level international issues, only the central government can intervene and we have no concrete role in them. We all welcome Obama to Amritsar and are still hopeful that this matter will be sorted out and he will certainly come to pay obeisance at Harmandar Sahib."

Obama is scheduled to visit India from Nov 5-8.

He was scheduled to visit the Harmandar Sahib, popularly known as Golden Temple and Khalsa College in Amritsar on Nov 7 during his first visit to India as the US president. However, his advisors in Washington were apprehensive about him covering his head with a scarf as it could create an impression of a Muslim devotee.

"It is not the first time that any international dignitary is coming to Harmandar Sahib. They have come here without any problem and controversy," said Bains.

"In fact, it would be a matter of pride for Obama also, if he visits the holiest shrine of Sikhs," he pointed out.
source: agency

Homeopathy treatment can cure dengue, claims Agra doctor

Agra: A homeopathy doctor in Agra claims to have found an effective treatment for dengue.

Anoop Maheshwari treated not only his own 10-year-old son who had suffered from the mosquito-borne disease, but has also effectively treated scores of cases of dengue with homeopathic drugs.

"Why spend Rs.25,000 and more, when homeopathic medicines can be bought for Rs.25," Maheshwari told the media.

"In 80 percent of cases, a dengue patient taking allopathic medicine with homeopathic drugs usually do not have drastic fall in blood platelets," he said.

Some effective homeopathic medicines are Psorinum200, Pulsatilla30, Ars Alb30, Gels30 and China30.

In addition to this, a decoction of tulsi leaves and black pepper also helps in reducing and controlling the spread of the disease, Maheshwari added.
source: agency

'Race between Aishwarya Rai, Kareena Kapoor for No.1 spot'

Islamabad: The race between two first rank Bollywood actresses, Kareena Kapoor and Aishwarya Rai, for the number one spot is on, according to a Pakistani paper today.

"Kareena Kapoor's film 'Golmaal 3' and Aishwarya's 'Action Replayy' will be released simultaneously due to which an intense competition has begun between both the beauties," a report in the Urdu daily Jang said.

While Kareena stars opposite Ajay Devgn in "Golmal 3", Aishwarya has been cast opposite Akshay Kumar in "Action Replayy".

"Now it remains to be seen which of these two films wins over the audience's heart and does more business in the first week after its release," the report said.

Pankaj Kapur focuses on directorial debut with son Shahid

Mumbai: Pankaj Kapur is so busy with his directorial debut "Mausam", a film he hopes will take his son Shahid Kapur's career to greater heights, that his movie with filmmaker Bhavna Talwar has been delayed. But she's not complaining.

Talwar and Pankaj Kapur had earned rave reviews for "Dharm", the filmmaker's first venture. Now "Happi", their second outing together, was completed a year ago but Pankaj Kapur's dubbing needs to be done.

Apparently Pankaj had assured the director that the dubbing of "Happi", where he plays a common man in the streets of Mumbai inspired by Charlie Chaplin's characters, would be completed during a break between the schedules of "Mausam". But now he would be able to do so only after his directorial debut is complete.

"Pankaj-ji is not happy with the way some of Shahid's recent films have gone. He feels Shahid needs that one big epic push which 'Mausam' can give him. And Pankaj-ji wants to focus entirely on building that one monumental film which would put Shahid right up there where Pankaj-ji thinks his son belongs," a source said.

Interestingly, Bhavna Talwar's husband Sheetal is the producer of "Mausam". But Bhavna has no complaints and says she will wait for Pankaj Kapur.

"It's true Pankaj-ji has decided to focus on his project. Both my husband and I have too much respect for Pankaj-ji to question what he does. He took my first film 'Dharm' to great heights. Now he is not only directing his first film for us, but is also the lead in my second film. If I've to wait, I'll wait for as long as Pankaj-ji wants me to," she said.
source: agency

I'll say yes if I love an Indian film: Freida Pinto

Abu Dhabi: Freida Pinto is out to prove she's no one-film wonder with her performance in "Miral", based on Palestinian journalist Rula Jebreal's semi-autobiographical novel. The actress believes in speaking through her work and says she won't mind working in an Indian film -- provided she falls in love with the script.

"If Indian films came my way and I loved the script, I would say yes. Quite contrary to what people believe, I haven't said yes to every international script that has come my way. I have said no to quite a few. Similarly, unless and until I fall in love with the Indian script, I will not do it," Freida told the media in an interview here.

Screened in the Narrative competition section at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, "Miral" that opens in Jerusalem in 1948 is the true story of Hind Husseini, who turns her family home into the Dar Al-Tifl Al-Arabi Institute, providing hope and education to orphans, especially girls. Freida's character too grows up in the same orphanage.

The film is directed by American artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel and Freida says he cast her after seeing her in "Slumdog Millionaire".

"I auditioned for it, Danny Boyle put me on tape for this because Julian requested us while we were doing a press junket for 'Slumdog Millionaire' in LA.

"I read the script and I completely fell in love with it. I felt this story definitely needed to be told to the world. I was getting an opportunity to be part of a story that talks about peace, so why not? That's how the film happened."

The 26-year-old speaks English with a Palestinian accent in the war film. "I'm lucky, I can do accents well. I can listen and I can repeat what people say. So Julian set me on a mission - I didn't have an accent coach, I had real people to learn from. I went to the old city of Jerusalem, stayed with a Palestinian family for eight days.

"I also went to the orphanage where Rula grew up. I picked up whatever I could from the students and local people. I recorded everything and found out words that are common and found my own accent. That's my take on my Palestinian accent," she said.

The actress says she doesn't have to prove anything to anybody back home and hopes Indians watch "Miral" since it talks about peace.

"I never had to prove myself while doing 'Slumdog…' either. When the film went out, it did the best it could and did really well and that's the story of my life. I didn't have to go out of my way to prove a point in my first film, I don't have to do it in any film," said Freida.

"I would definitely want to show 'Miral' to India, but not to prove a point...the film (is) about peace which is so relevant in my country and in the countries that are warring or have some kind of conflict with neighbouring countries," she said.

Freida also got lucky to work with star Hollywood filmmaker Woody Allen in "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger".

"I auditioned for Woody Allen's film too, quite contrary to what people think that these roles just fell in my lap. He saw me in 'Slumdog Millionaire' and thought I would be great in that part. But he made me audition because he needed to know I'd be able to do it.

"He is definitely very unique and a genius in what he does. What's most amazing about him is that he will take up serious and disturbing topics and punch the right amount of humour in it, which makes the film so much enjoyable and less depressing."

So what are the other international projects in her kitty?

"I have worked with Tarsem Singh in 'Immortals'. It's a Greek epic. I play Phaedra, the oracle. Again there is no ethnicity to the character - she could be from any part of the world. The film is so multicultural that we never talk about ethnicity, though we talk about Greek places. We shot in a studio in Montreal and it's in English. I did speak a bit of ancient Greek," she said.

"I also did a film called 'Rise Of The Apes' with Rupert Wyatt. It's a prequel to 'Planet of the Apes'," Freida said.

"Since I've taken acting as my profession, my ambition is to keep doing it and keep getting better. So I guess, my ambition is to enjoy life and enjoy my work as well," she concluded.

Sushmita, Kangana to scorch the dance floor in No Problem

Mumbai: International celebrities make way. Director Anees Bazmi says he's more than happy to have Bollywood's own sizzling stars - Sushmita Sen and Kangana Ranaut - to scorch the dance floor for a song in his forthcoming film "No Problem".

"There was no time to get any international celebrity. Our film is complete. Our first trailer was out with 'Anjaana Anjaani'. We just decided to add an extra title song. And we felt we don't really need outside contributions. Sushmita and Kangna are fabulous dancers," Bazmi said.

There were reports earlier that "No Problem" might see "Waka Waka" girl Shakira shake a leg.

The number featuring Sushmita, the former Miss Universe, and Kangana, who isn't seen in many dance numbers, will be choreographed by Ahmed Khan. And the buzz is that the two divas will pull out all stops in front of the camera to outdo each other.

Apparently the role models given to Ahmed Khan go back to Vyjanthimala and Helen in the sizzling dance combat in the 1960s "Prince" and Hema Malini and Parveen Babi in the 1970s' "The Burning Train".

Both Sushmita and Kanagana enjoy dancing and the idea would be to make their moves as casual and cool as possible.

The actors in the film -- Sanjay Dutt, Anil Kapoor and Sunil Shetty - are also expected to join the two ladies on the dance floor in "No Problem", which is set to release in December.
source: agency

My eyes went moist at standing ovation: Amitabh Bachchan

New Delhi: Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan said his eyes went moist when the audience gave him a standing ovation as walked on the stage to receive the best actor award for his performance in "Paa", his fourth National Award.

"A sense of great pride. The President of India presenting award for Best Actor for "Paa". Eyes moist as the audience gives a standing ovation. Which in formal functions is an abnormality. The president whispers to me 'I have seen your film and loved it'. I gave an embarrassed laugh," Amitabh wrote on his blog.

"Thank you India for this national recognition," he added.

The actor was honoured with the award for his performance as a 13-year-old progeria patient in R. Balakrishna's "Paa". The film also won the Best Feature Film award and Bachchan said he felt proud watching son Abhishek walking up the stage to collect the award at the 57th National awards ceremony held here on Friday.

"Felt a sense of pride and happiness to see Abhishek walk up to the president for his award as producer for 'Paa'," he said

"But really .. a wonderful moment for the family - Jaya, Aishwarya, Niky (son-in-law Nikhil Nanda) and Shweta (daughter) , all in the audience, cheering and applauding and feeling pride and passion for the moment," he added.

The family later celebrated the double whammy at Shweta's house.

He wrote: "Later all collecting at Shweta's elegantly decorated home for dinner - Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Raju Hirani, Balki, Arundhati, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Venki, Swanand (Kirkire) and the irrepressible Suhel Seth … a lovely evening with the kids and samdhis Ritu and Rajan."
source: agency

Bollywood fans descend on Berlin for Shah Rukh, Priyanka shoot

Berlin: Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan reveals he dreams of dating as many girls as possible while shooting here for "Don 2". Priyanka Chopra says she would love to walk around the streets of Berlin she finds so full of amazing energy. Film director and actor Farhan Akhtar said he is crazy about the architecture of the city.

They made these points at a press conference held on Friday where Shah Rukh repeated 'achtung' (careful) and 'danke' (thanks) and said that Berlin was chosen as location for "Don 2" because the film demanded a more realistic backdrop, unlike some of his other films shot in more fairy tale like environments of countries like Switzerland.

The making of "Don 2" opens a new chapter in the ongoing love affair between Bollywood and Berlin. "Don 2" is being made with financial support from the Medienboard Berlin Brandenburg. The Indo-German production is being shot in the German capital and hundreds of Bollywood fans from around Europe have descended on the city.

The entire crew and cast of "Don 2" are in the German capital to film for about 50 days at a cost of more than six million euros.

The stars began shooting two weeks ago at several famous landmarks in the city like the great Cathedral, and the car chase took the crew through the streets around Checkpoint Charley.

Shah Rukh's character in "Don 2" is of a bad man who is very lovable.

German actor Florian Lukas is relieved that he does not have to dance in the film but is very proud to be acting in an Indian film and excited about his role in "Don 2".

More and more Indian films have been screened at European film festivals in recent times, particularly at the Berlinale, the most popular of all the film festivals held around the world. Dorothee Wenner, Berlinale's curator for Asian and African cinema, is delighted that Berlin promises not just to be a locale in "Don 2" but is treated as a character.

Wenner is responsible for first inviting Shah Rukh Khan to the Berlinale in 2007 when "Om Shanti Om" was screened here. "My Name is Khan" was showcased at the Berlinale 2010.

More Shah Rukh Khan fans are expected in the city on Nov 2 when the actor celebrates his birthday in the German capital.
source: agency

Maoist hotbed Bastar gets 3G coverage

Breaking news!Raipur: Public sector telecom major Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) today launched its much-awaited third generation (3G) services in Chhattisarh's Bastar region, considered to be India's nerve centre of Maoist militancy.

"It's a proud moment for me to declare that BSNL has begun its 3G services in Bastar from today. The people of Bastar can now enjoy the world class 3G services of BSNL," Ramyagya, chief general manager of the company in Chhattisgarh, told reporters today.

He said it was an achievement for BSNL to have its 3G services in a difficult terrain and insisted that the company would do its best to maintain uninterrupted services.

The mineral rich Bastar, in the southern tip of Chhattisgarh, has been a Maoist hotbed since late 1980s. Nearly 25,000 sq km of its total 40,000 sq km area is intensively mined by Maoists, according to police.

The region has witnessed several deadly attacks by the guerrillas on police and civilians in the recent past, including the massacre of 76 personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force in April this year.
source: agency

Dr. Reddy's reports 37 percent jump in profit for 2nd quarter

Breaking news!New Delhi: Pharmaceutical major Dr. Reddy's Laboratories today reported a net profit of Rs.2.9 billion ($64 million) for the quarter ended on Sep 30, which adds up to a 32 percent increase over the like period of 2009-10.

In a filing with stock exchanges, the company said its consolidated revenues registered a marginal year-on-year growth of 2 percent for the quarter under review at Rs.18.7 billion ($420 million) against Rs.18.4 billion ($412 million) in like period last year.

During the year, the company launched 41 new generic products, filed for 21 new product registrations and gave confidential information on 13 processes, facilities and related information to regulators globally.

According to the pharmaceutical major, revenues from global generics segment grew 8 percent at Rs.13.7 billion, while that for custom pharmaceutical services and active ingredients stood at Rs.4.6 billion.
source: agency

SKS Microfinance net profit rises in second quarter

Breaking news! New Delhi: India's largest private small scale lender, SKS Microfinance today reported a rise of 116 percent at Rs.80.54 for the quarter ended on Sep 30 compared to Rs.37.35 crore in the previous corresponding period.

The total income went up by 77 percent at Rs.366.56 crore in the quarter under review compared to Rs.207.49 crore in the year-ago period, the company said in a regulatory filing.

The core business of SKS, which is the only private microfinance company to get listed, is to provide collateral-free loans to poor women in rural areas.

The company recently fired its chief executive Suresh Gurumani because of "interpersonal issues" with the senior management. The incident took place less than two months after SKS made a stupendous stock market debut, listing at a market capitalisation exceeding Rs.8,000 crore.

A high court bench of Justice G. Bhavani Prasad, however, passed an interim order asking the company to retain Gurumani on its board of directors till further orders and restrained newly appointed chief executive and managing director M.R. Rao from taking any major policy decisions.
source: agency

25 years later, Canada offers $25,000 to each Kanishka victim family

Breaking news! Toronto: The Canadian government has reportedly offered $20,000 to $25,000 to families of each Air India Kanishka victim - 25 years after all 329 people on board Flight 182 from Montreal to New Delhi perished when it was blown off mid-air near the Irish coast on June 23, 1985.

A public inquiry by former Canadian chief justice John Major in June blamed various Canadian agencies for failing to stop the bombing plot by Khalistani militants and asked the government to compensate the families.

Member of some victim families met Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and public safety minister Vic Toews here Friday for discussions on the package.

The ministers are said to have made no offers at the meeting, but reports say the Canadian government has told the families that compensation offered in similar cases ranged from $20,000 to $25,000 for each victim.

Though the families have already been paid about $75,000 each in an out-of-court settlement a few years ago, the John Major inquiry report asked the government to compensate them further.

But some families are not happy with the reported offer, citing the huge payout of $10 million by Libya to relatives of each victim in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

The proposed compensation is part of the current Canadian government to put closure on the tragedy.

On the 25th anniversary of the bombing this June, Prime Minister Stephen Harper formally apologized to the victim families and the Indo-Canadian community for the tragedy.

There were 280 were Canadian citizens of Indian origin among the 329 victims.

The Kanishka bombing was the worst aviation tragedy till 9/11 happened. The bomb was planted by Khalistani militants to avenge the Indian Army action at the Golden Temple in June 1984.

Though two main suspects - Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri - were acquitted and only one - Inderjit Singh Reyat - jailed, the Canadian authorities are still working on the Air India file.
source: agency

Mumbai: Jet-Kingfisher aircraft collide, no casualties

Breaking news! Mumbai: A Jet Airways aircraft was involved in a "minor collision" with a Kingfisher Airlines plane at Mumbai airport early today, but there were no casualties, an official said. A probe has been ordered.

The collision took place around 2 a.m. when Jet's Mumbai-Muscat flight 9W540 with 80 passengers was preparing to take off from the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, the airport official said. The Kingfisher aircraft was not carrying any passengers.

While pushing back from bay No.85, the aircraft's wing tip brushed against the tail of the Kingfisher plane parked in the adjacent bay No.84. Both are private airlines.

"The wing tip of the Jet Airways aircraft hit the left hand stabiliser of the Kingfisher aircraft. We are evaluating the extent of the damage," a Kingfisher Airlines spokesperson told the media.

Since the Airbus E321 Kingfisher aircraft had been parked there for Friday night, there were no passengers or crew on board. A maintenance team was engaged in carrying out repairs to one of the engines of the aircraft at the time of the incident.

Both the airlines reported the matter to the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), which has ordered a probe.

"Taking a serious view of the matter, the authorities grounded both the aircraft and the matter is being thoroughly investigated," the airport official said.

There were no passenger or crew casualties on the Jet Airways side and the passengers were accommodated on an alternative flight later.

This is the fourth incident involving different aircraft at the highly-congested Mumbai airport in the past two days.
source: agency

Lalit Modi warned of passport revocation

Breaking news! New Delhi: The government on Friday warned former Indian Premier League chief Lalit Modi of revocation of his passport if he did not reply by Oct 28 to a show cause notice by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said here that the show cause notice was issued to Modi on Oct 13 with a 15-day deadline. "He has not replied till yesterday," Rao told reporters here.

"Modi is holder of passport issued by the Regional Passport Officer, Mumbai. On Oct 5, the ED had sent a request to the External Affairs ministry seeking revocation of his passport. They had cited public interest in general and the investigations" into the alleged irregularities in the IPL as reasons, Rao said.

The former IPL chief was issued a show cause notice on Oct 13 asking him to explain why action under relevant sections of Passports Act 1967 should not be initiated against him, she said.

The ED provided an alternate residential address of Modi Oct 15, and a copy of the notice was sent on the address.

"The RPO, Mumbai, has confirmed that Modi has not responded to the notice till yesterday. The reply is awaited. If no reply is received within the stipulated time, action will be initiated by the RPO under relevant provisions," Rao said.

Modi was suspended as IPL chairman after the third edition of the IPL 20Twenty in April this year.
source: agency

I always wanted to be director: Salman Khan

Breaking news! New Delhi: He is a Bollywood superstar, a writer and a prolific painter but Salman Khan has revealed a hidden ambition - to be a director.

"I always wanted to be a director but acting is good for now. I will continue to write and paint though," Salman told media.

While he has had multiple painting auctions for charity, Salman also wrote self-starrer period film "Veer".
source: agency

'Piranha 3D' throws killer fish at audience face: Director

Breaking news! New Delhi: If the audiences missed objects popping out of the screen in James Cameron's Oscar-winning 3D flick "Avatar", they should watch Alexandre Aja's horror movie "Piranha 3D". The French director says it throws killer fish right "in your face"!

"The 3D technology widened the tapestry of horror, allowing me not only to amplify the carnage I wanted to bring to the screen but to place my audience face-to-face with the film's eponymous threat," Aja told media in an e-mail interview from New York.

"You need to be sucked into that world and be under water with all of the fish coming at you. It is like small fish in your face and you can almost touch them. It is a ride.

" 'Can you imagine watching a real horror movie in 3D?' was the question I posed to my writing and producing partner Greg Lavasseur while in script development on 'Piranha 3D'.

"At that time, James Cameron's 'Avatar' was still a highly secretive project but the looming spectacle played on my and Lavasseur's curiosity."

"Making 'Piranha' was exactly like drawing the blueprint of a theme park attraction or of a roller coaster. It was made to be the opposite of 'Avatar' in terms of 3D - everything is coming out of the screen, everything is flying at you because the story was made for that. We are making this over-the-top experience and the 3D is there to make it unforgettable," he added.

A second remake of the 1978 film after Cameron's directorial debut "Piranha II: The Spawning" in 1981, the series is remembered for unexpectedly putting a spin to Steven Spielberg's "Jaws" formula with a tongue-in-cheek twist.

Already released in the US Aug 20, "Piranha 3D" will hit Indian theatres Oct 29 in English and Hindi. Produced by Dimension Films, it is being distributed here by Multivision Multimedia India Pvt Ltd in association with Eagle Video and MGH Enterprises.

Aja is also hoping for a good response here.

"Our box office collections are pretty decent and it encouraged us to announce a sequel. Hope the same from every market," he said.

The movie features an ensemble cast that includes the likes of Steven R. McQueen, Elisabeth Shue, Kelly Brook, Richard Dreyfuss, Ving Rhames, and Eli Roth among others.

Apparently, the movie also carries skin show in excess. Aja said: " 'Piranha' is a desire to get back to the feeling of the 1980s. That kind of guilty pleasure movie that was so instantly cool. A movie which could be as scary as it is fun - where there is a lot of nudity and gore - just an amazing, entertaining ride.

A member of the 'Splat Pack' - a collection of filmmakers who have since 2002 directed a large number of horror films -, Aja, 32, rose to international stardom with his 2003 horror outing "High Tension". He has since directed successful horror movies like "The Hills Have Eyes", "Mirrors" and "P2".

Asked if it has become a fascination, he said: "It's not genre-specific. I see potential in these scripts more than the others and that is the only reason to opt for it."

And, yes, he knows about Bollywood.

"Everyone knows about Bollywood, but I have not seen any of its films yet. There is a lot of buzz about Indian talent internationally these days," he said.

Aja's future projects include "The Contractor", "The Gospel According to Jimmy" and "Cobra: The Space Pirate", a live-action adaptation of the Japanese soap opera manga series "Space Adventure Cobra".
source: agency

'Dus Tola' like 'Malgudi Days': Manoj Bajpayee

Breaking news!Mumbai: For those who missed watching hit TV series "Malgudi Days" based on the works of R.K. Narayan can rejoice as actor Manoj Bajpayee says his forthcoming movie "Dus Tola" is based on the same format.

" 'Dus Tola' is a very lighthearted 'Malgudi Days' sort of film. It talks about those innocent people in villages, small towns and their love, betrayal and relationships. It creates humour and talks about human behaviour. These are the elements which were seen in 'Malgudi Days'," Manoj told media.

"Dus Tola" hits the screens on Friday.
source: agency

Air India to pay employees incentive before Diwali

Breaking news! New Delhi: National carrier Air India has agreed to pay incentives to its employees before Diwali.

Earlier Air India had postponed the payment of performance linked incentives (PLI) to Nov 14, triggering protests from employees' unions as the important festival of Diwali falls on Nov 5.

"The incentives and PIL has been preponed to Nov 4, as some resentment was noticed among the employees leading to this revisal," an airline official told the media.

According to the official, the cash-strapped airline will pay the October salaries to the employees on Nov 1.

Sources in the employees' union said the national carrier had also written to the Chief Labour Commissioner on Oct 20 about the postponement of the incentives.

The main reason given by the airline was cash-crunch due to payments to oil companies, new aircraft induction and repayment of bank loans and interest.

According to union sources, the employees also had resentments because the company recently appointed chief operating officers (COO) for Air India and low-cost subsidiary Air India Express and a chief training officer which would cost around Rs.5.5 crore annually.

PLI or flying allowance comprises almost 50 to 60 percent of the employees' pay package.
source: agency

Recovery in IT industry is solid, sustainable: Azim Premji

Breaking news!Bangalore: Recovery in the IT industry is solid and sustainable, as growth during the last two-three quarters has been exceptional, Wipro chairman Azim Premji asserted today.

"Recovery in growth has been fairly exceptional, solid and sustainable. It is not a catch-up of the past demand. And lot of spending is discretionary, which again is not a catch up of past demand. Lot of spending is transaction, transformational projects, which are quite unique that many companies didn't do two years back," Premji told reporters here.

Recalling that over the past two years, clients had cut down budgets, especially discretionary budgets, Premji said the reality of life was that the situation had completely changed.

"We believe that this growth is sustainable going into the future," Premji noted.

With customers doing well in terms of orders and top-line growth, Premji said for the IT industry, it was back to business as usual.

"I think most important is that the legitimacy of global companies like Wipro is significantly higher today than it was two-three years ago. Hence, a larger percentage of the flow of business is coming to us," Premji pointed out.

Noting that in the domestic market, the company was doing larger, complex contracts in diverse sectors in which it was not a major player two-three years ago, Premji said there was also increase in market share

"It is winners which will get the bigger share of this growth," Premji said.

Clarifying his comment on macro-economic environment remaining uncertain, Premji said it was a unique phenomenon wherein countries were not doing well but companies were.

"It is a very unique phenomenon. Countries are not doing well but companies are," he noted.

Earlier, Premji said in a statement that the company's global IT services business saw strong momentum in demand, as customers tried to catch up with the under-investment in IT during the previous years.

"While the macro-economic environment continues to remain uncertain, there is higher degree of confidence at the micro level," Premji added.
source: agency


Somdev Devvarman, Sania Mirza to lead India's challenge in Asian Games tennis

Breaking news!New Delhi: Commonwealth Games medallists Somdev Devvarman and Sania Mirza will lead India's challenge in the men's and women's singles event in the Nov 12-27 Asian Games.

Commonwealth Games singles gold medallist Somdev along with Vishnu Vardhan, Karan Rastogi and Sanam Singh is part of the six-member men's team while Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna's participation depends on their qualification for the World Tour Finals in London.

Leander Paes recently qualified for the ATP World Tour Finals after his title win in Shanghai Masters last week.

Sanam's selection depends on the approval by his University of Virginia, said the All India Tennis Association in a press statement.

Commonwealth Games singles silver medallist Sania Mirza will spearhead the six-member women's team which also includes Poojashree Venkatesha, Nirupama Sanjeev, Rushmi Chakravarthi, and Tara Iyer.

Shivika Burman is the new face in the team while Tara Iyer, who was in the reserve for the Commonwealth Games, has also been named in the squad.
source: agency

Hockey India allowed to send team for Asian Games

Breaking news! New Delhi: The Supreme Court today permitted Hockey India to send the Indian hockey team for the Guangzhou Asian Games in China.

A bench of Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice H.L. Gokhale said the arrangements made by its order of Aug 27 shall apply in regards to participation in the Asian Games being held in China next month. The Aug 27 order had permitted Hockey India to sponsor the Indian hockey team, both men's and women's, for the Delhi Commonwealth Games.

However, in the order, the court said that Hockey India would take into account any suggestion made by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).

The court was told that names of the hockey players have been sent to the organising committee of the Asian Games and the same team as that which participated in Commonwealth Games is being sent.

In the meantime, the court asked Hockey India, Indian Hockey Federation and IOA to resolve their issues and come to some understanding.

However, before pronouncing the order, Justice Raveendran told the petitioner Hockey India: "You have lost the match. The tensions have subsided. What is the problem?"
source: agency

Nigerian athletes go gaga over Indian medical services

Breaking news! Gurgaon: Nigerian athletes Helen Okus and Amas Daniel are going home with much more than just memories of the 2010 Commonwealth Games (CWG). Both had to undergo surgery in a hospital here and can't stop thanking the doctors for the "excellent" medical services.

Okus, 21, who represented her country in the 72 kg wrestling competition in the Games, won a bronze. Her stint was, however, a painful one as she was suffering from a condition called prolapsed intervertebral disc. In this condition, the spongy part of a disc that lies between two adjacent vertebrae in the spine comes out and presses on the nerve.

"I was diagnosed with this condition at the national training camp in Nigeria before I came to participate in the Games here. The condition was not so severe then. My pain was treated through massages and prescribed painkillers," Okus told media.

"However, my condition worsened after the match and I was in so much pain that I could not even lift my arm. I was told by our team of doctors and coach that if I wanted to continue with my game, I should undergo surgery and so I decided to go ahead with it before flying back home," she said.

According to Arun Saroha, the neurosurgery consultant who operated upon Okus, her treatment involved removal and implant of artificial disc through microscopic spine surgery. "It is a highly specialised procedure and is carried out at selective spine centres in our country," he said.

Daniel, also a wrestler, was suffering from hernia and was in so much pain that he had to wear a belt around his stomach while competing. His treatment involved minimally invasive surgery.

Both the athletes were admitted Oct 15 to the Artemis Health Institute, a multi-specialty hospital in Gurgaon on the outskirts of the Indian capital, right after the CWG concluded Oct 14. They underwent surgery the next day.

While Okus can resume her game after three months, 20-year-old Daniel can do so in two weeks. The two are now preparing to go home.

Okus said: "In Nigeria, they don't have such tertiary care hospitals. I am happy with the facilities and the treatment. My condition has improved remarkably after the surgery and there is no pain."

The cost of the athletes' treatment was borne by the Nigerian sports ministry.

Talking about their experience in India, both the athletes, who are here on their maiden visit, said they loved being here.

Daniel said: "We loved it in India and if we get an opportunity we will come back again. I enjoyed Indian food, clothes and hospitality. In fact, we bought a lot of traditional Indian dresses and artefacts to take back as gifts."

They were also all praise for the Games Village and the event itself. The CWG was held during Oct 3-14 and saw players from 71 participating teams.

"It was an amazing experience to meet so many players from different parts of the world. The Games Village was truly world-class," he added.

Talking about her match, Okus said: "I feel elated that I was able to do my country proud on an international platform. All this became possible because of the support I received from my teammates and coach."

According to an official at Artemis, on an average the hospital gets 50-80 African patients every month.

"A growing number of African nationals come to Indian hospitals like Artemis for orthopaedics treatment, IVF, neurological disorders, cancer and renal transplant," the official said.
source: agency

The Congress is the best friend of the Thackerays

Breaking news! New Delhi: The rise of GenNext in Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray's Mumbai household is unlikely to bring any change to the family's mean-minded parochial politics. As much is clear from the first boorish act of Balasaheb's grandson, Aditya, as head of the patriarchal party's youth wing.

By forcing Mumbai University's vice-chancellor to withdraw the Canada-based Parsi author Rohinton Mistry's book, "Such A Long Journey", from the syllabus, the young man has shown that he is a true inheritor of the family's hallmark of pettiness and insularity.

Those who believe that young people with fresh minds and new ideals are the harbingers of change will be disappointed. But when a family functions like a mafia outfit, as the two Bollywood films on the Thackerays - "Sarkar" and "Sarkar Raj" - showed, then the claustrophobic atmosphere of small-minded chauvinism infects whoever is associated with it.

The urge for a new beginning is perhaps also negated by the fact that the Thackerays - Balasaheb, his son Uddhav, nephew Raj (who has formed his own party) and Aditya - have faced almost no major obstacles in their pursuit of aggressive policies directed mainly at the immigrants in Mumbai.

Right from 1966, when Balasaheb founded the Shiv Sena, his cadres have had an unchecked run of intimidation and even assault on "outsiders" for - in the Sena's view - depriving local Marathis of their livelihood.

There are two reasons why the state government's response to their violence has only been in fits and starts and has never caused any serious discomfort to the Thackerays for breaking the law. One is that the ruling parties like the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which are in power at present, have tended to use the Sainiks for their own political advantage.

For instance, the Congress used them in the 1960s and 1970s against communist trade unions. As a result, the Left has hardly any presence in the state today although Mumbai could once boast of being the home of a leader like S.A. Dange, the Communist Party of India's chairman. Similarly, the socialists, too, have been weakened although they had in their ranks prominent individuals like Madhu Dandavate and Mrinal Gore.

What the Congress could not always do on its own to safeguard its reputation, it achieved by utilising the streetfighting capabilities of a fascist outfit like the Sena. Although the latter outgrew its usefulness for the Congress and became something of a Frankenstein's monster, it never posed a serious political challenge because of its narrow base comprising mainly the Marathi urban lower middle class.

The second reason why the Thackerays have thrived is that despite the limited nature of their base, it is still a constituency which the ruling parties cannot ignore or afford to antagonise by entangling the family in legal difficulties. Only a charismatic, high-minded leader of obvious popularity could have reminded the pro-Thackeray elements about the damage they are inflicting on Maharashtra's image by their intense provincialism. But neither the Congress nor the NCP has such a leader in their ranks.

This deficiency of the major parties explains why the chief minister lost no time in endorsing the Shiv Sena's stance on Mistry's book by calling it "objectionable". Although a Congress spokesman in New Delhi timidly decried such "censorship", both the party in Maharashtra and the state government know that their essentially pro-Shiv Sena line is in no danger because of electoral compulsions.

These stem not only from the need to keep the Marathi manoos (people) in good humour but also from the fact that keeping both the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) - which is Raj Thackeray's outfit - politically viable helps the ruling parties by dividing the parochial vote between the two parties.

But even as the Congress and the NCP play their opportunistic games with the Shiv Sena and the MNS, there is little doubt that Maharashtra's reputation is taking a beating. After the latest incident, for instance, few will regard the chief minister as a man of education and discernment or Mumbai University as a haven for academics.

That there are no fundamental differences between the apparently secular and liberal Congress and the sub-nationalism of the Thackeray outfits is evident from the ease with which the former has accepted defectors from the Shiv Sena like Narayan Rane and Sanjay Nirupam. The NCP too has accommodated Chhagan Bhujbal who had once - when he was a Sainik - said that the statues of Mahatma Gandhi would be replaced by those of his assassin, Nathuram Godse.

Given the bonhomie between the guardians of law and order and the lawless elements, it is hardly surprising that despite the Supreme Court's lifting of the ban on James W. Laine's biography of Shivaji, the state government has done nothing to ensure that the bookshops can sell its copies. One can expect a similar reluctance on the part of the authorities to assure the shops that selling Mistry's book is safe. For all its protestations, the Congress is the best friend of the Thackerays.
source: agency

Bigg Boss 4 inmates to be homeless?

Breaking news! The Lonavala Municipal Council (LMC) has ordered that the shooting of the reality show, Bigg Boss 4, be suspended immediately, saying the channel had violated certain terms and conditions. On Thursday, the LMC served notice on Colors, which has constructed an extravagant set in Lonavla for the
show. The notice says the property was licensed for manufacturing purposes. It has objected to the land being used for shooting a television programme.

Similar notice has been served to the owner of the property, whose name could not be confirmed.

LMC invoked a provision in the Bombay Shops and Establishments Act, under which an entrepreneur has to get the civic body’s permission or no-objection certificate (NOC) for specific use. LMC says it was withdrawing the NOC given to the property owner/ Colors as they did not furnish documents to substantiate the change of purpose (of the use of the land).

However, a spokesperson for Colors said the shoot would continue.

“We will explore legal options to challenge the notice in court,” the spokesperson said.

Congress-ruled LMC’s stand has surprised those in political circles. Thursday’s notice has embarrassed the Congress further as it amounts to toeing the Sena line.

The Congress is already under attack for supporting the Shiv Sena’s demand for banning Rohinton Mistry’s book Such A Long Journey from the Mumbai University syllabus.

Congress leaders, including spokespersons, refused to comment on the issue officially. But, unofficially, all of them said that the matter had shamed the party. Congress leaders from Lonavla were unavailable for comment.

Some weeks ago, Shiv Sainiks tried unsuccessfully to stop the shoot at the Lonavla property, following which the Pune district administration asked Colors to produce documents pertaining to the participation of the two Pakistanis on the show.

The shoot continued under heavy police bandobast as all the papers were in order and the government was in no mood to concede to the Sena’s demands.
source: HT

At 20, she is Mexico drug war town's top cop

Breaking news! A town in Mexico has left most astonished after it appointed a college going mother-of-one to head a police force in the heart of a traditional route for narco-traffickers.

Marisol Valles, 20, who is studying criminology, has been appointed as chief of police of the northern Mexican border town of Praxedis Guadalupe Guerrero, in Chihuahua State.

Valles is yet to make an arrest, but she has already been hailed as Mexico's bravest woman for taking such a post in Juarez valley, which is a strip of about a dozen towns and villages where shadowy groups slaughter and mutilate police and civilians with impunity.

Now, Tibetans take on Beijing over Chinese

Breaking news! BEIJING: Two years after a wave of anti-government violence spread across China's Tibetan regions, there is a new source of friction in Beijing's relationship with one of its most restive minorities - students marching in protest against reported plans to impose Chinese as the sole language of instruction at schools.

The protest marches, which began earlier this week in the town of Tongren, have spread to nearby areas in the western province of Qinghai, which is home to numerous minority ethnic groups, including Tibetans and Mongolians , who retain their own languages. The London-based group Free Tibet said hundreds, possibly thousands , of middle, high school and college students joined the demonstrations. No arrests or violence were reported. There was also a similar protest on the campus of a Beijing university.

For authorities, any sign of unrest among Tibetans is seen as a threat to national sovereignty and a reminder of past uprisings against China's often heavy-handed rule over the area.

Brewing discontent with Beijing's policies exploded into deadly rioting in Tibet's capital Lhasa in 2008, then spread like wildfire through traditionally Tibetan areas such as Tongren that lie outside the official Tibetan Autonomous Region.

The widespread protests over language reveal the deep resentment that many Tibetans feel over policies formulated by Han, China's dominant ethnic group, that Tibetans say are diluting their culture. he Han end up taking many jobs that would otherwise go to Tibetans. The latest resistance is over pressure to shift to China's official language, Mandarin.
source: agency

Asif withdraws appeal against ICC suspension

Breaking news! PARIS: The International Cricket Council said Friday that Pakistan's fast bowler Mohammad Asif had withdrawn his challenge to the provisional suspension handed down last month for alleged match-fixing.

Teammates Salman Butt and Mohammad Amir have appealed against their own provisional suspensions and their hearings are still set for Dubai on 30 and 31 October.

"Mohammad Asif confirmed earlier today that he has withdrawn his challenge to the provisional suspension imposed on him on 2 September 2010 pending determination of the charges brought against him under the ICC's Anti-Corruption Code," the ICC said.

"Arrangements are now being made for the challenges being made by Salman Butt and Mohammad Amir against their provisional suspensions," an ICC statement read, the organisation adding it would not make any further comment for the time being.

The trio were charged with offences under the ICC's anti-corruption code after test captain Butt and fast bowlers Aamer and Asif were all named in a News of the World report alleging they were involved in a " spot-fixing" scam by bowling deliberate no-balls in a summer Test match with England in exchange for cash.

ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat had warned that the sport had to take a tough stand to preserve cricket's integrity, noting that such offences "carry serious penalties up to a life ban."

The News of the World claimed that Amir and Asif had bowled no-balls on request during the fourth Test at the Brit Oval, with Butt orchestrating the alleged fix.

Scotland Yard was called in and the trio had their mobile phones confiscated by police investigators.

Further allegations dogged the subsequent one-day series between England and Pakistan.

The panel set to hear the remaining appeals is to be chaired by the head of the ICC's Code of Conduct Commission Michael Beloff QC.

Owing to their suspensions, the trio had been left out of Pakistan's upcoming tour of the United Arab Emirates, where they will meet South Africa.
source: agency

Uproar over Playboy's nude Yoga video

Breaking news! LOS ANGELES: A video featuring Playboy model Sara Jean Underwood performing various yoga postures while naked, has caused outrage in the Indian community.

The racy video is available for viewing on the Playboy website and the use of the age-old technique as erotica has irked many, reported Ace Showbiz online.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed has taken aim at Playboy saying, "Hindus are upset over what is the misuse of the revered system of yoga by Playboy for mercantile greed and we are urging the organisation to withdraw all its yoga-related products." The video was posted to promote DVD titles "Erotic Nude Yoga" , "Totally Nude Yoga" and "Erotic Yoga for Couples" .

Minor collision at Mumbai airport, no casualties

Breaking news! MUMBAI: The aircraft of two private airlines were involved in a "minor collision" at the Mumbai airport early Saturday, an official said. No casualties were reported.

There was a "minor collision" between the aircraft of Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines around 2 am when Jet's Mumbai-Muscat flight 9W540 was preparing to take off, the airport official said.

While pushing back from bay No.85, the aircraft's wing tip brushed against the tail of the Kingfisher plane parked in the adjacent bay No.84.

"Taking a serious view of the matter, the authorities grounded both the aircraft and the matter is being thoroughly investigated," the official said.

There were no passenger or crew casualties on any side, the official said, adding that the extent of damage to the aircraft was not known.

Spokespersons for both airlines were not available for comments.
source: agency

PM likely to visit Leh to review reconstruction

Breaking news! New Delhi: Keeping his promise to the people of devastation-hit Leh, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to visit the cold desert next month to oversee relief and reconstruction work in the aftermath of the Aug 6 flash floods, an official said today. The exact date has yet to be finalised as the prime minister has a hectic schedule in the first half of November, the official told media. The flash floods triggered by a cloudburst killed at least 180 people, including six foreigners, while a few hundred were missing.

"Before the onset of winter, I will again visit you and inspect the houses that will be constructed for you," Manmohan Singh had promised the people of Leh on his Aug 17 visit and also announced a Rs.125-crore relief package for the victims.

He had promised that the reconstruction of the destroyed houses would be completed before the onset of winter.

The official said that the prime minister has a hectic schedule in the first half of November, including a special AICC session Nov 2, Diwali celebrations, US President Barack Obama's visit Nov 6-9 and the winter session of parliament from Nov 9.

"Still, the prime minister is likely to visit Leh," the official said.

The Jammu and Kashmir government has begun preparations for Manmohan Singh's visit.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah visited Leh today to review the relief work. He held a meeting with the officers to ascertain the progress in reconstruction projects.

Manmohan Singh had also announced a monitoring committee under the chairmanship of the state chief secretary to ensure effective implementation of various schemes for the people.
source: agency

77 more cases of dengue in Delhi

Breaking news! New Delhi, Oct 22: As many as 77 new cases of dengue were reported in the capital today, taking the total number of people affected by the vector-borne disease to 4,903, an official said.

Dengue has claimed eight lives in the city this year.

The disease, this year, surpassed the earlier highest figure of 3,366 recorded in 2006.
source: agency

Busy Aishwarya will make time for Diwali

Breaking news! Mumbai: Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan says she prefers to celebrate Diwali traditionally with family and friends and will make time to enjoy the festivities though she is busy with four of her films releasing soon.

"Diwali I like to spend traditionally with family, friends and loved ones. This is something I remember doing since I was a kid. Until date, I make sure, even though it's a family of full-fledged veterans from the film industry; we always make time to celebrate Diwali as a family," Aishwarya told media.

Her films "Action Replayy" and "Guzaarish" are scheduled to release soon.
source: agency

Big B praises cleaner, greener Delhi

Breaking news! New Delhi: Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan, who is here to receive the National Award, today said the capital looks much greener and cleaner after the recently concluded Commonwealth Games.

"Delhi…hospitable, neat and clean and built to event moment. Greener pastures, pavements uncluttered and clear, just a general sense of things in order and in working system … and this despite all that we have been reading and report assessing," Amitabh posted on his blog

"Drive past a few of the historic arenas of the Commonwealth Games, looking large and impressive," he added.

The 68-year-old will receive the best actor National Award for his performance as a progeria-affected child in his home production "Paa". He says he is looking forward to meeting his friends from the industry and other dignitaries at the ceremony.

"Meeting old friends, fraternity and seeing and meeting those from other walks of cinema in India, proud and pleased to be within these very nostalgic portals of grandeur," he said.

His son Abhishek and daughter-in-law Aishwarya too have accompanied him for the ceremony to be held today evening.
source: agecny

Sensex closes 94 points lower, Wipro loses on poor results

Breaking news! Mumbai: A benchmark index of Indian equities closed 94 points lower today with selling pressure intensifying in frontline stocks, erasing most of the gains from earlier sessions.

The 30-share sensitive index (Sensex) of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), which opened at 20,334.14 points, closed at 20,165.86 points, down 94.72 points or 0.47 percent from its previous close at 20,260.58 points.

At the National Stock Exchange (NSE), the 50-share S&P CNX Nifty also ended lower at 6,066.05 points, down 0.58 percent.

For the week, the Sensex edged up 0.2 percent, while the Nifty ended almost flat on a weekly basis.

Broader markets, however, closed in the green. The BSE midcap index ended 0.27 percent higher while the BSE smallcap index moved up 0.3 percent.

The market breadth was negative with 1,393 stocks advancing, 1,596 declining and 129 remaining unchanged.

According to data available with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), foreign institutional investors bought scrips worth $220.12 million today. For the month, FII fund inflows have touched almost $5.8 billion and the yearly inflows has touched approximately $24 billion.

Wipro ended 4.54 percent lower at Rs.448.40 after the company, hit by forex losses and salary hikes, posted only a 10 percent rise in net profits for the quarter ended Sep 30.

Other major losers included Sterlite Industries, down 2.58 percent at Rs.168.20; Jaiprakash Associates, down 2.37 percent at Rs.125.75, and DLF, down 2.26 percent at Rs.363.25.

Among gainers were TCS, up 5.72 percent at Rs.1,040.10; Infosys, up 0.66 percent at Rs.3,053.25; Reliance Com, up 0.51 percent at Rs.179, and ICICI Bank, up 0.23 percent at Rs.1,131.85.

Other Asian markets were mixed as China, the second largest economy in the world, reported a slowdown in growth, triggering fears of lower contribution to the world economic recovery.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed 0.56 lower at 23,517.54 points, while the Japanese Nikkei ended 0.54 percent up at 9,426.71 points.

The Shanghai Composite index closed at 2,975.04, down 0.28 percent.

European markets were tepid as investors waited for more news from the corporate earnings season.

Around mid-day, Britain's FTSE 100 was trading 0.5 percent lower at 5,729.25 points.

The German DAX was ruling 0.18 percent down at 6,599.44 points, while the French CAC 40 was 0.23 percent lower at 3,869.26 points.
source: agency

IBS to host global aviation conference in Dubai next week

Breaking news! Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala-based travel and logistics software provider, IBS Software Services, is expecting to win more clients as passenger movements would be up by 7.5 per cent and cargo by 18.5 per cent this fiscal, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

"In the last two years we have got 70 per cent of the IT business in the global aviation industry in the cargo and in the airline operations segments. We have been in the market place with our passenger reservation solutions that have earned us new clients also," said IBS Chairman V.K. Mathews.

IBS is hosting a a global airline meet, the IBS International Airline Forum, in Dubai from Oct 25-28. Over 120 senior officials of more than 35 airlines all over the world are expected to participate.

"We have won most of our deals in the recent past beating competitors like Unisys, SITA, Amadeus and Saber. With regards to Air India we were beaten by others because of our costs and we are confident very soon we will have them too in the near future," Mathews told the media here today.

IBS products are sought after in the cargo segment and in the airline operations, part of which include the crew management solutions and airport management systems.

"In the last two years we have had more than 20 new airline customers using each of our three different IT solutions, taking our total airline customers to 66," added Mathews.

Their client list of IBS now includes Cathay Pacific, Qantas, South African, Qatar Airways, Emirates, Sri Lankan, Malaysian Airlines, Jet Blue (USA) All Nippon Airways (Japan), besides Indian clients like Jet Airways and Kingfisher.

On the IBS Forum in Dubai, he said this would be an opportune time for Airlines of the World to discuss and debate on what would help growth.

"The key area for them is to see how to keep their cost below their price and this is where players like us help them to do."

There will be thought leaders to provide valuable insights on the aviation industry at the Dubai meeting.

IBS operates from 12 global business centers in the Americas, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Middle East and Africa.
source: agency

Call girl gang is an isolated case: Delhi Police

Breaking news! New Delhi: The murder of a 51-year-old businessman in east Delhi by a call girl gang is an isolated case and it is the only known gang in the city to have robbed its clients after sedating them, police said today.

"It was an isolated, individual case. Till now, we have not got any information on any other such gangs operating in the city," a police officer told the media.

Delhi Police on Tuesday found the body of businessman Ramnath Singla in his Maruti Swift car in Pandav Nagar area after people complained of "terrible stink" from the car.

The police got a breakthrough in the case on Thursday and arrested three members of a call girl gang operating from Shakarpur area in east Delhi.

According to Rajiv Ranjan, investigative officer of the case, gang leader Sheetal, 25, called Singla to her house in Shakarpur and served him liquor. Once the businessman was drunk, she robbed him of Rs.2 lakh and smothered him to death with the help of her husband Ravi, 26, and brother-in-law Ajay Kumar, 36.

"They killed him because he sensed their intentions, otherwise usually they just robbed a person. They have robbed a few others but no police complaints were registered. The gang recently stole Honda Civic of a doctor after sedating him," said a police officer.

According to Ranjan, the gang supplied call girls as escorts to rich businessmen and industrialists in Delhi and the national capital region.

"They often robbed their clients under sedation. And their target usually were the rich who are unlikely to lodge a complaint. The gang had a huge number of call girls from various parts of the country," Ranjan said.
source: agency


Don't want to bracket Pakistan with India visit: Obama

Breaking news! Islamabad: US President Barack Obama has told Islamabad he doesn't want to bracket his visit to Pakistan with India because adding it would mean spending only half a day in the country, which would be unfair, Pakistan's ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani said. Haqqani called up Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to brief him on the meeting which the Pakistan delegation had with Obama on Thursday, the media reported today. Obama had earlier this week told Pakistan that he would visit the country next year and wouldn't be stopping there on a trip early next month to Asia, including a visit to India.

A White House statement said: "President (Obama) explained that he would not be stopping in Pakistan during his trip to Asia next month, and committed to visiting Pakistan in 2011, as well as welcoming (Pakistani) President (Asif Ali) Zardari to Washington."

Obama told a Pakistani delegation led by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi that he was the first US president who went to Pakistan before becoming president.

Haqqani stated that Obama while referring to his forthcoming visit said he did not want to bracket his visit to Pakistan with India.

The US president said that he would visit Pakistan next year in its own right as a strategic partner, the media report said.

"If he would add Pakistan in his forthcoming visit he would only be able to spend half a day which would not be fair to a friendly country," Haqqani was quoted as saying.
source: agency

We want result-oriented talks with India: Pakistan

Breaking news! Islamabad: Pakistan has reiterated that it wants a result-oriented dialogue with India to resolve long-standing issues, including Kashmir, an official said.

Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit asked the international community to use its good offices with India to help settle the Kashmir dispute, the media reported.

Basit rejected New Delhi's claim that dialogue between the two countries in July this year failed because of the non-cooperative attitude of Pakistan.

He also contradicted Indian claims that the two sides were about to sign an agreement and said the document, which was being negotiated by the two sides, contained a road map for future engagements.

He added: "It was not possible for Pakistan to agree to a document which does not contain a clear time-frame of discussions on the issues."

To a query, Basit said that Pakistan had proposed a visit by a judicial commission to India in order to move the whole trial process forward in Pakistan with regard to the Mumbai terror attack.

"The commission would most likely be a two-man entity and its scope, mandate and terms of reference are being worked out," he added.

About US demands for a military operation in North Waziristan, he said Pakistan had its own strategy to deal with terrorism and whatever it does will be in its national interests.
source: agency

'Free Kashmir' will not ban liquor consumption: Geelani

Breaking news! New Delhi: Kashmiri hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani on Thursday said he would allow the sale of liquor in an "independent" Jammu and Kashmir so that the minorities could enjoy their rights. "The system of justice in an independent Jammu and Kashmir would be such that liquor would be prohibited for the Muslim majority but if minorities feel they want to have liquor they would be allowed as their right," he said.

He was replying to a question at a seminar here when other speakers said that Kashmiri separatist leaders had a vague idea on how the Kashmiri society would emerge if the state is given "freedom" from India.

Geelani said it would be a secular state such that "if a member of a majority Muslim community accidentally breaks a liquor bottle of a minority member, the system will pay the penalty for the damage. Or else, the offender will have to pay penalty for the damage."

An Islamist separatist campaign erupted in the Kashmir Valley in 1989 when it emerged that Muslim militants prohibited sale and consumption of liquor.

The ban is still in vogue and it is for the first time Geelani, a hardcore Pakistan supporter, has spoken in favour of liquor sale in the Kashmir Valley.

The seminar was organised by The Campaign for Relief of Political Prisoners.
source: agency

India for inclusive global security to fight modern threats

Breaking news! New Delhi: India on Thursday sought an "open, balanced and inclusive" global security architecture to fight modern threats like hi-tech terrorism and cyber warfare in the wake of a possible limited war in a nuclear world.

"What India seeks is a new security architecture? an open, balanced and inclusive architecture to correspond to the new situation that is emerging," National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon said at a seminar here.

Delivering the key-note address at the National Defence College Golden Jubilee celebrations, Menon called for a study of India's practices in the use of force as a statecraft, keeping in mind that values and justice have always dictated its doctrines.

"It also seems from the recent experiences that the utility of force as traditionally configured and conceived is of limited value in protecting society or achieving some policy goals. But one can hardly jump to conclusions about the futility of force when limited war under nuclear conditions remains possible and when adversaries need to be deterred," the NSA said.

Stating that the emergence of technology had enabled terrorists to have sophisticated systems, alongside cyberspace emerging as a domain for conflict, Menon said these non-state actors were also drawing strength from state institutions.

"Unfortunately, we have seen technology place increasingly lethal power at the hands of non-state actors. Terrorism is technologically enabled and knows no boundaries today, even drawing on support from state systems," he pointed out.

He said Indian traditions recognised that use of force was not always the most effective or efficient means, but essentially a defensive use when other means were exhausted.
source: agency

Indian e-voting researcher wins US award

Breaking news! Washington: Hari Prasad Vemuru, a jailed Indian e-voting researcher, is one of the four winners of the 2010 Pioneer Awards of San Francisco headquartered Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a leading civil liberties group.

The three other winners are transparency activist Steven Aftergood; public domain scholar James Boyle; and legal blogger Pamela Jones and the website Groklaw.

Vemuru, who was recently released on bail after being imprisoned for his security work in India, is a security researcher who recently revealed security flaws in India's paperless electronic voting machines.

"He has endured jail time, repeated interrogations, and ongoing political harassment to protect an anonymous source that enabled him to conduct the first independent security review of India's electronic voting system," EFF said.

"Prasad spent a year trying to convince election officials to complete such a review, but they insisted that the government-made machines were 'perfect' and 'tamperproof.'"

"Instead of blindly accepting the government's claims, Prasad's international team discovered serious flaws that could alter national election results. Months of hot debate have produced a growing consensus that India's electronic voting machines should be scrapped, and Prasad hopes to help his country build a transparent and verifiable voting system," EFF said.

"These winners have all worked tirelessly to give critical insight and context to the tough questions that arise in our evolving digital world," said EFF Executive Director Shari Steele.

"We need strong advocates, educators, and researchers like these to protect our digital rights, and we're proud to honor these four Pioneer Award winners for their important contributions."

Awarded every year since 1992, EFF's Pioneer Awards recognize leaders who are extending freedom and innovation on the electronic frontier. Past honourees include World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, security expert Bruce Schneier, and the Mozilla Foundation and its chairman Mitchell Baker.
source: agency

Lata at leisure loves watching 'KBC', 'CID'

Breaking news! Mumbai: She has stopped her riyaz and spends time catching up on her favourite TV programmes, including Amitabh Bachchan's "Kaun Banega Crorepati" and popular crime series "CID". Melody queen Lata Mangeshkar, 81, is enjoying her well-deserved leisure time after more than 60 years of singing.

The Nightingale also prefers to be extremely choosy about film songs she wants to sing.

"Everyone says that I should sing more often because people want to hear my voice. But the fact is that even I should like the songs to be able to sing them," Lata, the winner of Bharat Ratna award, India's highest civilian honour, told the media in an interview.

Lata has recorded songs for over 1,000 Bollywood movies and sung in more than 36 regional Indian languages. She is the second vocalist ever to have received the Bharat Ratna.

She has just launched a five-CD album of her old songs.

The album called "Aapki Seva Mein...Main Aur Mere Saathi", has evergreen melodies sung by artists like S.D. Burman, Mukesh, Mohammed Rafi, Kishore Kumar and Ustad Bade Gulam Ali Khan among others, and was launched under the banner of Saregama India Limited.

Lata says she now sings very rarely. The last she was heard this year was in "Dunno Y...Na Jaane Kyun".

Lata, who is fond of Sunidhi Chauhan and Shreya Ghoshal among the current lot of singers, likes to watch TV in her free time, especially thriller fictional show "CID".

"Now I don't do riyaas (practice). So in my free time I sometimes like to read. But usually I am fond of watching TV especially 'CID'. Nowadays, I also watch 'Kaun Banega Crorepati' because I like Amit ji and he is the host so I like watching that," said Lata.

Asked about the reason behind her distancing herself from film songs, the legendry singer told the media: "Everything has changed today. Like films have changed today. There are different types of acting, dance, action, similarly music has also changed to suit that," she added.

So is she of the view that music was better in the olden times?

"It's better for me not to comment on that. Audiences are the best judge and they know," she answered.

Among the existing filmmakers she admires Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

"He (Sanjay) is very nice. I have heard some songs of his films and with that I understood that he knows what is good music and his choice of music is very good," Lata said.

"Also, the music directors and the kind of music he likes is amazing. He likes the works of greats like Jaidev," she added.

Bhansali has always been vocal about his respect for Lata and is even working on an album dedicated to her. This time even the singer went all out to praise the filmmaker.

Even though Lata has drastically cut down on her film projects, she is keeping herself busy with other ventures.

Speaking about her CD, she says: "It took us one year to compile this album. All the songs are old and the ones that I have heard since childhood, songs that have had a very deep impact on me. I have chosen such songs in this album. And then the rest are songs which are all duets with me and some legendary artists."

So why the name, "Aapki Seva Mein..."?

"We chose this name because the first Hindi playback that I did was a song from the film 'Aapki Seva Mein'. It was a thumri and it was recorded in 1946. We thought of using that song in this album but we could not because of certain reasons. So we thought to atleast name the album on that song," explained the legend.

Starting her career in 1942 with songs in Marathi, Lata's first Hindi song was "Paa lagoon kar jori" for Vasant Joglekar's movie "Aap Ki Seva Mein" in 1946. Two years later, composer Ghulam Haider gave Lata her first major break with the song "Dil mera toda" in "Majboor" and after that there was no looking back for her.

She has worked with all the major composers of the bygone era and mesmerised the current lot too.
source: agency

Pakhi wangles early entry into husband's film "Jhootha Hi Sahi"

Breaking news! Mumbai: It pays to be the director's wife, specially if you happen to be as spirited as Pakhi who makes her debut as a leading lady in Abbas Tyrewala's "Jhootha Hi Sahi".

Pakhi's character was to enter the narrative after more than 30 minutes. The debutante actress felt that was way too long a wait. She has now convinced her director-husband to let the audience see her in a song sequence that comes much before her character was supposed to enter the plot.

Pakhi explains: "It is not as if a new song has been added to the narrative for my sake. The song was there all along. It was just repositioned in the narrative to come earlier than scheduled."

Pakhi is aware she's getting a dream launch in her husband's film, though not a conventional one.

Says Pakhi: "I don't enter the film in slow motion. Nor do I get into a costume change in every frame. I play a normal girl. And, yes, I am not the central character in 'Jhootha Hi Sahi'. John Abraham's character is far more central to the plot. I should know. I wrote the script."

Not that Pakhi sees herself in every film she writes. Priyanka Chopra, an actress Pakhi admires, would be ideal in the next script.

"I am not here to write films only for myself. After 'Jhootha Hi Sahi' I'd be hopefully noticed by other scriptwriters and directors and be cast in their films!"

Pakhi is very clear about making a career in acting. "I'm here to stay. At least that's the intention. I'm aware 'Jhootha Hi Sahi' is not the kind of launch that would make audiences go nuts about me. There aren't too many stand-alone shots for me. During a large part of the narrative I am part of an ensemble."

Pakhi, it is said, wrote "Jhootha Hi Sahi" only so she could share screen space with her college crush John Abraham. The spunky aspirant doesn't deny she had a thing about John.

"When I met him for the first time we exchanged pleasantries and then I walked straight into a French window. Luckily, nothing got broken. But my crush did get crushed."

There are intimate moments in the film between John and Pakhi. And it must have been awkward to be directed in them by her husband.

Says Pakhi: "At the end of the day we are all professionals. And really, how much passion can you squeeze out of a love scene when you're shooting in restricted areas of London where you have exactly 25 seconds before the director, who happens to be your husband, calls cut and we run off to avoid traffic?"

Oh, and Pakhi is Size 00P which in fashion parlance is a lot thinner than Size 0.

"It comes from being petite in frame and hitting the gym really hard to stay paper-thin," says Pakhi, who lives in a large family that takes care of her home while she pursues her acting aspirations.

Abbas and Pakhi are to move into their new home soon. "That got sinfully delayed because of 'Jhootha Hi Sahi'. The film has taken three years of our life. Maybe now we can go back to doing what normal couples do," ends Pakhi.
source: agency

Domestic life insurance industry had a great fall in September 2010

Breaking news! Chennai: The domestic life insurance industry of India had a great fall in new business in September in the wake of new regulations governing unit-linked insurance policy (ULIP) that kicked in from Sep 1.

Last month, the 23 life insurers earned a total new business premium of Rs.9,612.74 crore as against Rs.18,500.53 crore earned in August 2010, as per the data released by Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) today.

The new business fall is steep for Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) as it earned Rs.6,606.64 crore last month, compared to Rs.14,653.83 crore earned in August.

The 22 private life insurers earned Rs.3,006.10 crore last month as compared to Rs.3,846.67 crore in August.

The LIC's premium slipped under individual single/non-single and group non-single premium segments by a whopping Rs.10,176.61 crore while the corporation grew its group single premium business last month by Rs.2,129.42 crore.

Interestingly, the private sector players as a group increased their individual single premium and group non-single premium by Rs.40.32 crore and Rs.16.08 crore, respectively, over August figures.

The private life insurers suffered business reverse in individual non-single premium and group single premium by Rs.896.98 crore last month as compared to the previous month.

The IRDA's new regulations sucked out nearly 250 policies from the system while it had approved around 60 policies in their place.

According to industry officials, the pace of growth will not see any great improvement as the product approval process at IRDA has slowed down considerably and the companies have to be content with their existing portfolio of ULIPs.
source: agency

Wipro net up 10 percent in second quarter

Breaking news!Bangalore: Wipro Ltd today posted a net profit of Rs.1,285 crore (Rs.12.85 billion) for second quarter (July-Sep) of this fiscal 2010-11, registering an increase of 10 percent year-on-year (YoY).

In a regulatory filing, the IT bellwether said its total revenue for the quarter under review was Rs.7,731 crore (Rs.77.31 billion), an increase of 12 percent YoY.

As per the International Financial Regulatory System (IFRS), net income is $288 million and total revenue $1.73 billion.

Revenue from its global IT services business is Rs.5,747 crore (Rs.57.47 billion/$1.3 billion).
source: agency

Rahul Gandhi is a leader after Jayaprakash Narayan: Congress

Breaking news! New Delhi: The Congress today drew a subtle parallel between late socialist leader Jayaprakash Narayan and Rahul Gandhi, saying the party general secretary has in the former's fashion focused on the youth to address their needs, concerns and future.

"There is an undercurrent for the Congress in Bihar. After J.P. Narayan, Rahul Gandhi has addressed the concerns, needs, and future of the youth," Congress spokesman Mohan Prakash said here.

He said that former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was the leader who focused on children after former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, and Rahul Gandhi had done so for the youth after Jayaprakash Narayan.

Answering queries, Prakash, however, clarified that he was not making a comparison between Gandhi and Jayaprakash Narayan, who was a symbol of resistance against the Emergency.

He said Gandhi had toured universities across the country to address students and no other leader had done so.

Terming the alliance between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Janata Dal-United and that between the Rashtriya Janata Dal and Lok Janshakti Party in Bihar as "unnatural and unstable", he said people were looking for the model of development presented by the Congress.

He said the RJD of Lalu Prasad was playing its "last innings" in the state.

According to Prakash, as the assembly elections in Bihar cross the different phases, the support for Congress will become clearer.

"Old equations will be demolished. The result for the party will be better than expectations," he said.
source: agency

Sikh American groups twitter Obama to visit Amritsar

Breaking news! Washington: With the White House stressing that President Barack Obama's India visit schedule is not "finalised", Sikh American groups are using new age tools like e-mail, twitter and facebook to persuade him to visit the Golden temple.

Disappointed over reports that Obama will not visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar during his visit to India in November, the Sikh Coalition on Thursday asked community members to send email messages to the White House.

"If you believe the President should visit the Golden Temple during his visit to India, please send the White House an email message now," the Sikh advocacy group said.

Earlier, another group, United Sikhs urged the community to post on the White House Facebook page and communicate via Twitter (tweet @whitehouse) to make their voices heard on this issue.

"The Golden Temple has always been an embodiment of the principle of religious pluralism. The Golden Temple's four doors for each of its four walls represents Sikhism's openness to all," The Sikh Coalition said.

"We can think of no better way for President Obama to promote mutual understanding amongst all people during his visit to India than to visit the Golden Temple," it said.

"In addition given the discrimination many Sikh Americans face, his visit would represent an important teachable moment in which the values of freedom and equality inherent in Sikhism and the US Constitution would be highlighted," the group said.

"If you would like the White House to hear your voice, please take action now: Send Your Message to the President," the coalition exhorted.

The United Sikhs also released pictures of the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and British Queen Elizabeth, visiting the Golden Temple.

"If these rumours (of cancellation) are true, this is a tremendously disappointing moment for the entire Sikh community and religious minorities in general.

"What was supposed to be affirmation and recognition of a young, vibrant, and growing religious minority, has devolved into a race to the bottom," it said in a statement.
source: agency

Indian fashion designer Ritu Beri conferred French honour

Breaking news! New Delhi: Indian fashion designer Ritu Beri, who heads a French fashion brand, has been honoured with the Chevalier Des Arts et Des Lettres award, one of the highest civilian awards by the French government, for her contribution to the enrichment of Indo-French cultural relations.

The designer was confered with a medal by the French Ambassdor Jerome Bonnafont. The chief guest for the evening was union Home Minister P. Chidambaram.

Looking stunning in a black backless gown, the designer said, "I'm so overwhelmed that I could never imagine I would feel like what I'm feeling on stage today. My life has actually been a fairytale, I have always had crazy dreams - I'm a huge dreamer. But this particular award was beyond my dreams. I never dreamt this could be ever possible, but it's a great honour and responsibility which I have been confered with."

The Delhi-based designer displayed her creation on nearly 120-150 mannequins.

Ritu, who heads French fashion brand Scherrer, says the Indian fashion industry is young in the West but has a lot of scope to grow.

"Paris is very, very special and full of India. Although the Indian fashion industry is very young in the West, we are only 20 years old and have a long way to go."

"I'm here today because I'm an Indian and because I belive in India. Eveything I did across the border only reflected my love for India. And this is the only reason behind what I am today."

"Everyone in the West can do western outfits so beautifully, what they are wrought by is what we do here. And that is what I have woven in and followed."

The gathering comprised of some MPs, former cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin, renowned beautician Shahnaz Hussain, writer-columnist Shobha De amongst others.

She concluded with keeping her hopes high by saying, "This dreamer will dream on."
source: agency

It's Sharad Purnima but Taj closed to visitors

Breaking news! Agra: A large number of tourists will be deprived of the thrill of seeing the Taj Mahal glisten under the full moon of Sharad Purnima today. Due to a weekly off, the 17th century white marble mausoleum will be closed to visitors.

Some did try to catch up with the monument a day earlier. Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) sources said more than 75 tourists saw the Taj late Thursday evening when the moon shone bright.

"After the rains, Sharad Purnima is the first full moon night. The Taj dazzles and sparkles while the cool and soft rays of the moon dance on its surface. It is an unforgettable experience," says photographer Vishal.

Many tourists today night will have a glimpse of the Taj either from Mehtab Bagh across the river or from Dussehra Ghat, adjacent to the monument. Others will watch it from the hotel Taj Khema mound.

"Before 1985, there were no restrictions and almost the whole city - youngsters particularly - used to turn up at the Taj on Sharad Purnima night for the 'Chamki Mela'. Each marble piece sparkled when the moon rays struck its surface at a certain angle - and people would burst into joyous ecstasy and shout 'chamki'," old timer Surendra Sharma, a hotelier, recalled.

But the Taj was closed for night viewing following former prime minister Indira Gandhi's assassination and a spurt in terrorist activities.
source: agency

Russians most active in online social networking

Breaking news! MOSCOW: Russians are the world's most active users of social networking websites in terms of time they spend there, a study has found.

The survey conducted by digital market measurement service comScore Media Metrix said, in August 2010, 74.5 percent of all Russian internet users, or 34.5 million people, visited at least one social networking website.

With an average of 9.8 hours per visitor during the month, Russians spent more than double the worldwide average of 4.5 hours per visitor on social networks, ranking it No. 1 among all countries.

Israel ranked second with an average of 9.2 hours per visitor, followed by Turkey with 7.6 hours.

Russia's most popular social network is VKontakte, which has 27.8 million visitors each month, followed by Odnoklassniki with 16.7 million visitors.

World famous Facebook is ranked fifth in Russia with 4.5 million visitors, but the number of its users has grown 376 percent in the past year - the highest rate in the country.
source: agency

135 dead, 1,500 sick from cholera in Haiti: Official

Breaking news! PORT-AU-PRINCE: A cholera epidemic in northern Haiti has claimed 135 lives and infected 1,500 people over the last few days, Claude Surena, president of the Haitian Medical Association, said Thursday.

"According to the results of the analysis carried out in the laboratory it is cholera," Surena told media, adding that a government statement on the health crisis was imminent.
source: agency

BCCI should have shown 'little more fairness': Shilpa

Breaking news! MUMBAI: Bollywood actress and Rajasthan Royals co-owner Shilpa Shetty on Thursday said the BCCI should have treated them with "little more fairness" before taking the decision to terminate the franchise and made it clear that they are ready to face any enquiry in this regard.

A distressed Shilpa, who ownes Indian Premier League's first edition's champion Rajasthan team along with husband Raj Kundra, questioned the BCCI's move and said they would be more than happy to know if there was any mistake on their part.

"We don't want to hurl stones and have not done something wrong. Even if we have done something wrong, I think, as a franchise... the passion we have done it with, we need to be treated with a little more fairness," Shilpa said.

"In any business if you have defaulted, you have to pay for that and compensate. Just throwing us is not a solution. If we have irked (anyone), we are willing to face the consequences. But you can't just cancel us out," Shilpa told Times Now.

Royals, along with Kings XI Punjab, was expelled from the IPL last Sunday for alleged violations of rules, with seven years of their 10-year contract still to go.

Shilpa also demanded a fair probe into the whole incident and said they would extend every help in this regard.

"There has to be a transparent enquiry. We will be more than happy to do all it takes to help the ED (Enforcement Directorate) to come up with a solution. So we are not running away from that. We have invested so much time, money and passion to bring the brand upto a certain level.

"We have a lot of respect for BCCI, they are a charitable institution, the members are doing their best for cricket. But we also don't want our brand to be affected," she said.

Asked about the alleged irregularities in their ownership pattern, Shilpa said that the BCCI was fully aware about her husband Raj Kundra's introduction into the franchise.

"When you buy into a team, five per cent of the money goes to the BCCI and they have accepted Raj's money. And if there was a problem with the owner, why would they accept the money?" she asked.

"Why this question is coming up after two years?" The actor said that they had already discussed the matter with the Board but chose not to reveal any detail.

"We had our dialogue directly with the BCCI and we like it to be private. We are shocked and taken aback with the whole fiasco that has happened with us," said Shilpa, who tweeted earlier on Thursday to express her feelings.
source: agency

Google plans to launch online music service in India: WSJ

Breaking news! NEW DELHI: Google Inc plans to launch an online music service in India that would enable users to search for legal music streams and downloads, the Wall Street Journal said.

Google would soon add a music feature in its search service, which will allow users in India to search for songs. The top search results would be from Google's partners, according to the Journal.

The US web search giant will partner with three digital music providers, who hold rights to hundreds of thousands of Indian tracks -- ranging from Bollywood hits to Indian classical music -- the Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter.

Google could not immediately be reached for comment by Reuters outside regular US business hours.
source: agency

US warns Pakistan to fight Taliban or lose funding: Report

Breaking news! WASHINGTON: The United States has warned Pakistani leaders that continued inaction against Taliban and Al Qaeda havens bordering Afghanistan could jeopardise some large US cash payouts to Islamabad, the Wall Street Journal said in a report.

The warnings from Obama administration officials have raised the stakes in their ongoing strategic dialogue here after months of growing tensions over US criticism of Islamabad's perceived unwillingness to take stronger action against the Afghan Taliban and its allies, it said

The White House also has decided not to provide equipment or training to Pakistani Army units that have been accused of killing prisoners or civilians, the Journal said citing a military official.

That move follows a US investigation into a recent video that showed Pakistani military personnel killing a prisoner. About a half dozen units will be affected by the new policy, reported first by The New York Times.

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama dropped by a meeting of his top advisers and Pakistani officials, including the army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

A White House statement issued afterwards highlighted the need to "increase pressure on extremist safe-havens" but didn't repeat previous White House praise of Islamabad fighting militants.

Funding represents the greatest US leverage over Islamabad, the Journal noted. US military and civilian funding for Pakistan totalled more than $3.5 billion over the last year, according to congressional estimates.

But concerns have risen in Congress about how that money is spent and whether Pakistan is obstructing US goals in Afghanistan.

The administration said this week it intends to increase annual grants for Pakistan to buy US defence equipment, but officials warned that Congress could pare that back.

Administration and congressional officials also said hundreds of millions of dollars a year in so-called Coalition Support Fund payments, which reimburse Pakistan for its military operations against militants, could face future cuts, the Journal said.

The US hasn't made any reimbursement to Pakistan since May 27; the Pentagon is reviewing the requests. The US reimbursed Pakistan $1.3 billion between January and May for Pakistani operations conducted in 2008 and 2009, but has not paid for operations in 2010.
source: agency

Food inflation still high: Montek Singh Ahluwalia

Breaking news! New Delhi: Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia today termed food inflation, which fell nearly by a percentage point to 15.53 percent as of October 9, as "still high" and hoped it would come down sharply in November. "I think it (food inflation) is still high. I am glad that it has come down. But when the (overall inflation) data for November will become available then... in the case of food, you will see a much bigger decline," Ahluwalia said. Food inflation in the previous week was 16.37 per cent.

Speaking to reporters on sidelines of a book release event, Ahluwalia attributed the current high level of food inflation largely to high milk, fruits and vegetable prices. He said prices of food grains were moderate.

Ahluwalia also partly attributed the high food inflation to rise in rural income which, he said, was leading to high consumption level. This, in turn, was further jacking food prices up, he said.

"If rural income would go up, more people will be buying vegetables, then their prices would go up. (Food) inflation is not up because of grain prices, they are moderate. It is up because of milk, fruit and vegetables."

"I don't think prices of wheat and rice are high."

Milk prices were up by 21.65 per cent during the week ending October 9 while fruits and vegetables turned expensive by 15.65 per cent and 12.26 per cent, respectively. However, cereal prices were up by just 5.88 per cent.

The plan panel deputy chairperson hoped the food inflation to come down to single-digit level soon, but refused to specify the exact time-frame for it.

"I expect that food inflation would come down to single-digit level," he said.
source: agency

CWG Corruption: Provide records to probe agencies, officials told by Delhi government

Breaking news! New Delhi: The Delhi government today directed its officials and those of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) to provide records to agencies probing alleged widespread corruption in the just ended Commonwealth Games.

"The officials were asked to give their records," Delhi Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta told the media after attending a meeting of senior officials here.

He said everyone had been asked to coordinate with the investigating agencies tasked to find out who all were responsible for the large-scale irregularities in the conduct of the Oct 3-14 Games.

Officials from the Public Works Department, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit's office and 12 city departments including those of transport and health also attended the meeting.

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India wrote to Mehta last week asking officials to prepare documents on all Games-related work and ready for audits.

On Monday, Chief Minister Dikshit told her ministers that information shared with auditors must be screened by heads of departments and senior officials.

Today's directive follows mounting allegations that large amounts of money was siphoned off during the construction of various sports stadiums and purchase of sports equipment for the Games.
source: agency

Mohit Suri gifts Rs.7 lakh watch to Mashhoor Amrohi

Breaking news! Mumbai: Director Mohit Suri was so impressed by Bollywood actor Mashhoor Amrohi's comic timing in his film "Crook" that he gifted him a Breitling gold watch worth Rs.7 lakh.

Grandson of late filmmaker Kamal Amrohi, Mashhoor enacted the role of Emraan Hashmi's best friend - a jovial Punjabi bloke, in "Crook".

"I loved his timing and flair for comedy. Since he surpassed my expectations playing the character of Goldie, I decided to surprise him with a token of appreciation," Mohit said.
source: agency

Manoj Bajpayee took lessons from 'sunar' for 'Dus Tola'

Breaking news! Mumbai: Bollywood actor Manoj Bajpayee reveals he took lessons from a 'sunar' to make his role of a goldsmith in "Dus Tola" look as realistic as possible.

"I did take lessons from a professional sunar to understand the nuances of jewellery-making to enact it convincingly on screen," said Manoj.

"But I cannot make jewellery independently. It is a different art. However, I do understand it quite a bit now and know how much of effort and labour goes into handmade pieces.

"When I was young, I used to sit at the jewellery shop of one of my closest friend. He would allow me to do small things and attend customers too. And now in this film, I am actually playing a goldsmith," he added.
source: agency

Bihar: From farmer to scribe: Natha of 'Peepli Live' does 'Patna Live'

Breaking news! New Delhi: After playing the role of villager Natha in "Peepli Live", actor Omkar Das Manikpuri is set to portray the character of a journalist. He will be seen covering the Bihar elections for news channel Live India.

He will be part of Live India's show "Patna Live", which will be dedicated to Bihar elections. He will be going to various parts of the state to inquire whether the area has benefited from politics.

"The character of Natha was and still is the perfect example of the crude reality of the rural sector of our society... Natha comes as a wake up call by the help of 'Peepli Live'," Live India's CEO Sudhir Chaudhary said in a statement.

"We want to do the exact thing at Live India when it comes to Bihar elections. We want the country to be with us and be well versed with the state's affairs," he said.

"And who better to connect with than Natha himself. So now Natha will be the common voter's face on television. I am glad that Omkar Das Manikpur readily agreed to do the show 'Patna Live' with us. I am looking forward to it," he added.
source: agency

Vodafone to launch 3G services in Q1 of 2011

Breaking news! New Delhi: Telecom service provider Vodafone Essar today will launch its third generation (3G) services in the first quarter of 2011 in 10 circles in which the company has won spectrum.

""We will launch the services by the first quarter of the year 2011," said Sanjoy Mukerji, director, business operations, here.

The rollout will take place in a phased manner in all the 10 circles in quick succession.

The operator has won spectrum in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh (East) and West Bengal.

The company expects to upgrade over 10 percent of its existing customers to 3G users very shortly, Mukerjee added.

Vodafone is also exploring opportunities to tie up with other operators to provide 3G services in other circles as well, Mukerji added.

About the affordability factor, Mukerji said the prices will definitely be higher then the second generation services but the company will try to compete with all other operators on the issue in the market.

The company also said that its likely that the ARPU (average revenue per user) will rise with the launch of the 3G services and it purely depends on the pricing models of different services and packages offered.

3G services will give customers an all-new experience with faster Internet access and speedy data download on their finger tips. Through the roll out of this latest technology, customers will be able to experience video calling, live mobile TV and better gaming experience.
source: agency