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Jammu and Kashmir:Police Reforms Bill will not be presented in the coming budget session

Jammu: After a deluge of protests on social networking websites against the proposed Jammu and Kashmir Police Reforms Bill that was to be tabled in the budget session, the state government has deferred the move, an official said today. The bill will not be presented in the coming budget session of the state legislative assembly beginning on Feb 28, government sources told media.

"However, under the instructions of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, it has been decided that the bill would be put on the website of the home department to invite public opinion," an official told IANS.

Abdullah is also the state home minister.

According to sources, the police bill has wide ramifications for the population of the state, therefore, it has been decided to invite public comments before it is tabled in the legislature. The bill reportedly seeks to dilute the accountability of the police.

A draft of the bill would be put on the website and also published in newspapers within a week's time, the sources said.

It may be recalled that there were adverse comments and calls for using Facebook, Twitter and other means to launch a campaign against the proposed bill.
Tags : Jammu and Kashmir news, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, Jammu and Kashmir Police Reforms Bill

Indian-American engineer successfully designed reprogrammable circuit from nanowire transistors

Washington: An Indian-American engineer has successfully designed and a reprogrammable circuit from nanowire transistors. A breakthrough of sort in the field of nanotechnology, designing of world's first programmable nanoprocessor was intended to exhibit how computer chips could be built using unique processes from nanotechnology and molecular chemistry.

Shamik Das, the man behind carrying out the entire work and supporting his team is a lead engineer in the Nanosystems Group. Nanosystems is a part of the nonprofit MITRE Corporation in McLean, Va.

While talking to the media about his smallest computing systems, Das added that the entire team has contributed in devising a route to making much smaller computer chips that will also consume much less power than the current computer technology.

Das also highlighted the fact that these smaller chips also could be manufactured at much lower cost.

Taking note of the present scenario where there has not been much effort given towards innovative ways for improvement in manufacturing computer chips, Das affirmed that he and his team of scientists have moved away form the traditional methods to create these nanoprocessor circuits.

Their effort is one progressive stride towards the birth of an entirely a new class of much smaller, and lighter consumer electronics.

James Klemic, nanotechnology laboratory director of MITRE and James Ellenbogen, chief scientist of the Nanosystems Group were the other members worked as a team with Das. A five member team at Harvard collaborated with MITRE for this project.
Tags : Indian-American engineer, reprogrammable circuit, nanowire transistors, nanotechnology breakthrough, world's first programmable nanoprocessor, MITRE Corporation in McLean, Shamik Das

600 medals were given to 62 countries in various stamp categories as Indipex 2011

New Delhi: The Department of Post today said 600 medals were given to 62 countries in various stamp categories as Indipex 2011, the week-long World Philatelic Exhibition, came to a conclusion.

The event saw over one lakh visitors from across the country.

India Post also organised an awards ceremony where two highest awards were given to the exhibitors.

Martha Villarrdel De Peredo from Bolivia was given the highest award "Grand Prix de Honnour" for her exhibit of stamps on the "19th Century Bolivia".

The "Grand Prix International" was awarded to Paul Commeli for his exhibit on "Brazilian Mail to Foreign Destinations".

Japan will host the next exhibition in Yokohama in July 2012.
Tags : India News, Department of Post Medals, Indipex 2011, World Philatelic Exhibition

United States urged India and Pakistan to support a political process in Afghanistan

Washington: The United States has urged India and Pakistan to support a political process in Afghanistan, saying reconciliation in Afghanistan will depend on the participation and support of its neighbours, particularly Pakistan.

"Indeed, we are encouraged by news that India and Pakistan are re-launching a dialogue aimed at building trust, and we encourage them to work in that same spirit to support a political process in Afghanistan," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Friday.

"We look to them - and all of Afghanistan's neighbours - to respect Afghanistan's sovereignty," she said at the launch of the Asia Society's Series of Richard C. Holbrooke Memorial Addresses in New York.

This "means agreeing not to play out their rivalries within its borders, and to support reconciliation and efforts to ensure that Al Qaeda and the syndicate of terrorism is denied safe haven everywhere," Clinton said.

"Afghanistan, in turn, must not allow its territory to be used against others," she said pledging to intensify US efforts to build broad international support for Afghan reconciliation.

"Reconciliation - achieving it and maintaining it - will depend on the participation and support of Afghanistan's neighbours, including and most importantly Pakistan," Clinton said noting the historic distrust between Pakistan and Afghanistan remains a major cause of regional instability.

Pakistan has legitimate concerns that should be understood and addressed by the Afghan Government under any reconciliation process, she said.

"But Pakistan also has responsibilities of its own, including taking decisive steps to ensure that the Afghan Taliban cannot continue to conduct the insurgency from Pakistani territory," Clinton said suggesting pressure from the Pakistani side will help push the Taliban toward the negotiating table and away from Al Qaeda.

For reconciliation to succeed, Pakistan will have to be part of the process, she said. "It will have to respect Afghan sovereignty and work with Afghanistan to improve regional stability."

"Beyond Pakistan, all of Afghanistan's neighbours and near-neighbours - India and Iran, Russia and China, the Central Asian states - stand to benefit from a responsible political settlement in Afghanistan and also an end to Al Qaeda's safe havens in the border areas and the exporting of extremism into their countries," Clinton said.

Later in Washington State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Clinton had reinforced that the US has a regional approach to Afghanistan.

"India has an interest and is invested in Afghanistan. So is Pakistan. So are other countries in the region," he said.
Tags : India News, Political process in Afghanistan, India-US dialogue, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

BJP leader L.K. Advani regret to Congress president Sonia Gandhi over foreign bank accounts allegation

New Delhi: Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani has "regretted the distress" caused to Congress president Sonia Gandhi over his party's task force report alleging that she and her husband, former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, had money in foreign bank accounts.However, he said Gandhi should have denied the allegations before they found a place in the BJP document.In a letter to the Congress chief written on Wednesday, Advani said: "On my retrun from Kolkata last night, I found your letter of Feb 15 awaiting me.""I am happy that you have denied the reports relating to you and your family alluded to in the task force's report on black money. If these had been denied earlier, the task force would have taken your denial into account. Even so, I deeply regret the distress caused to you," Advani said in the letter, released to the media.

The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance earlier this month released a booklet "Indian Black Money Abroad in Secret Banks and Tax Havens", that contained allegations against Gandhi and her late husband.

Advani told the media that the report had spoken of smaller countries like the Philippines, Peru, Nigeria and Tunisia being able to get the Swiss government to assist them in recovering hundreds of billions of dollars stashed away by their corrupt leaders. But in India the hawala affair of Hasan Ali, the Quattrocchi case and the alleged foreign account maintained in the name of a former prime minister of India belonging to the Congress party have not been investigated or probe stymied.

BJP leaders said that Advani's letter made it clear that Sonia Gandhi had not denied allegations relating to her family earlier, otherwise they would not have found a place in the task force report.

"There have been reports in foreign media relating to accounts a former prime minister but the Congress in the past has not made a categorical rebuttal," a BJP leader said.

The leaders said Advani's letter and his regret should be seen as an expression of "political courtesy" to another senior leader.

They said while Advani had expressed regret over distress caused to Sonia Gandhi, the Congress had not made a similar gesture on the allegations made by it against party president Nitin Gadkari in relation to the Adarsh Housing Society scam.

The Congress, meanwhile, welcomed Advani's regret.

"We have seen the reports in media and have no concrete information about it, but if it is true then it is a welcome decision," party spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed told reporters.
Tags : India Politics News, BJP Task Force Report, Sonia Gandhi Foreign Bank Accounts, Rajiv Gandhi Foreign Bank Accounts, LK Advani

Rohan Sippy's "Dum Maro Dum" has rattled Goa's tourism industry

Panaji: Two months before its release, Rohan Sippy's "Dum Maro Dum" has rattled Goa's tourism industry as initial reports about the Abhishek Bachchan-starrer suggest that the movie delves a lot into the state's narcotics mafia and sex trade.

Both the contentious issues have put Goa on the international map of infamy and with "Dum Maro Dum" only set to reinforce the same negative image, the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) is simply not happy.

"The censor board should have cut out the objectionable parts, if it portrays the state in a bad light," Gaurish Dhond, president of the TTAG, told reporters here today.

Comprising of stakeholders of the travel and tourism industry in Goa, the TTAG for nearly three decades now has been the voice of the trade here.

"The film could have bad repercussion for tourism in Goa, if it throws up scenes of prostitution and drugs," Dhond said.

Set in Goa, the film sees Abishek as a police officer and also stars Deepika Padukone and Bipasha Basu. The first look of the Fox Star-produced movie has all the nefarious ingredients, which has put the state under negative spotlight in the recent past.

In bold big-sized letters, 'Drugs', 'Cocaine', 'Sex' and 'Ecstasy' run through the racy promo, which also shows rave party scenes and sexy bikini-clad foreigners.

"British (teenager) Scarlet Keeling's death case was hyped so much that people started feeling that our beaches are unsafe, which was not true at all in the first case. And now this," Dhond said.

Known for its beaches, Goa annually attracts 2.4 million tourists, nearly half a million of whom hail from European countries.

Accusing the media and filmmakers of going overboard while portraying Goa as a sex destination, Dhond said the reputation of Goa is at stake.

"Goa has been built as a tourist destination over the years. You cannot allow some film to condemn it overnight. We have worked very hard for this brand. Why is Goa only being projected in a bad light? Drug abuse, rapes are being highlighted in a big way like this, which spoils the reputation of the state," he said.

"Dum Maro Dum" is set for an April 22 release.

Superintendent of Police Atmaram Deshpande said they have not written to the producers of the film seeking a pre-release screening.

"We have not issued any letter to the producers of the film," said Deshpande, a spokesperson of the Goa police.
Tags : India Business News, Goa tourism, Tourism industry in Goa

Sun TV Network Ltd denies rumours of top level changes

Chennai: Even as the media world is agog with rumours of top level changes at Sun TV Network Ltd with its Chief Executive Officer Ajay Vidyasagar putting in his papers, a company official denied any such development.

"Vidyasagar is on leave and the company has not received any resignation letter from him. He is expected to join back soon," the official told media.

He said the company is aware of the rumours doing the rounds and has nothing to comment.

"Any such development will be promptly notified to the stock exchanges where the company's scrip is listed," he added.
Tags : India Business News, Sun TV Network Ltd, Sun TV CEO Ajay Vidyasagar

Cricket World cup 2011:New Zealand will be keeping a sharp eye on Kenya

Chennai: New Zealand will be keeping a sharp eye on Kenya whom they meet here on Sunday in their opening Cricket World Cup fixture, as the match provides the Kiwis an opportunity to bounce back from the mauling India gave them in the warm-up game earlier this week.

Opening batsman Martin Guptill said as much when he interacted with the media persons here today while admitting that Kenya, surprise semi-finalists in 2003, would pose a challenge especially if spinner Nathan McCullum is unavailable. He was hospitalised on Thursday, but likely to be discharged on Saturday.

"We don't know a lot about them (Kenyans). We are going to get some footage of them and see how they had gone in the practice games," Guptill said.

"We are not taking them lightly. They are going to be determined to put up some good performances against Test playing nations. They are going to come up very determined and very hard against us."

Referring to the 117-run defeat to India in the warm-up game at this very venue, Guptill admitted that the team's confidence had taken a big blow and the need was to perform as a unit.

"There was a little bit of lost confidence. I am sure we can bounce back from there. We need to put a good performance and work as a unit. We are looking forward to the first game," he said before heading out for a training session.

Guptill pointed out that the pitch could play a decisive role in the outcome of the match as it afforded some turn and bounce.

"It is a big challenge over here. The other night, it turned and bounced a lot which we are not used to. We have got to come up with a game plan. Get off swiftly and keep rotating the strike. If we do that we are going to be successful," he said.

Likewise, the Kiwi batsmen needed to factor in the spinners too in terms of handling as they stood exposed against the Indians.

"We have always struggled a bit. We have to keep learning to be able to play the spin as it turns and bounces. We are working on it. It is a big thing for us," he said.

About the New Zealand spin attack, Guptill opined that skipper and left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori had good support from Nathan McCullum and rookie Luke Woodcock.

"Nathan has done a very good job for us in short time with the team. He is improving with every game he plays. The other night (against India), he got a bit wayward. That's how cricket goes. He is going to bounce back hard."

"And we got Luke as well. On his debut match back home, he bowled really well against Pakistan with an economy rate of four an over. He had a very good start to his career."
Tags : New Zealand in World Cup, Kenya in World Cup, New Zealand Opening World Cup Fixture, Kenya Opening World Cup Fixture, India New Zealand World Cup Warm Up Game

ICC Cricket world cup :Sanjay Manjerekar feels that Indian pacers can break down any time

New Delhi: Former cricketer Sanjay Manjerekar feels that Indian pacers can break down any time during the World Cup.

Manjerekar said that warm-up games didn't help Ashish Nehra or Munaf Patel and their confidence has surely taken a beating.

"I don't think the warm-up games helped either Ashish Nehra or Munaf Patel in any manner. Their confidence will have definitely taken a dip after these two matches. These two bowlers also looked a bit fragile while fielding.

"That is a major weakness for India going into this big tournament. With Zaheer Khan also yet to attain full fitness, I will not be surprised if one of the pacers break down in the middle of the tournament," the media quoted Manjrekar as saying.

Manjrekar, however, hoped that the good show of spinners Ravichandran Ashiwn and Piyush Chawla will give skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni something to cheer about.

"Chawla will be delighted with his impressive showing. If his services are required in the middle of the tournament, you won't have a nervous leg-spinner playing his first World Cup game. This is a major plus point for the Indian team going into the mega-event. Also Ashwin was brilliant on Wednesday," he said.
Tags : India Sports News, Indian Cricket, India in World Cup, Indian Pacers, Sanjay Manjarekar

Vishal Bhardwaj '7 Khoon Maaf' absolute winner

Mumbai: Chalk up an absolute winner for the Vishal Bhardwaj-Priyanka Chopra team. They make a coherent vision out of an inconceivable marital crises.

How do you make sense of a woman who's an incorrigible potentially-loathsome serial spouse-killer who when challenged about her weird passion for changing husbands by divine decree rather than the law of the land, turns around and says, "This heart of mine, it's to blame." Wicked laughter follows. And dammit, we are amused!

How does one make head or 'tale' of such a woman? Well, the first thing a director with a canny sense and sensibility does is sign Priyanka Chopra to play the wretchedly unfulfilled, genetically incomplete woman, a living, throbbing warning against the institution of marriage!

Priyanka, not for the first time, proves she is leagues ahead of all competition. She approaches this strange and sensual creature of the night from the outside and then quietly makes inroads into the woman's heart and soul. We can actually see the character's snarled inner-world on Priyanka's face! We don't even know when and how she does it. Priyanka is that kind of a player.

Vishal Bharadwaj has earlier made films about gangs and gangsterism. Every time the dark brooding atmospheric surface seemed to suggest a life of sinister suppressions. Those unspoken, intangible thoughts and visions that often guide a human being to his or her doom are outlined in "7 Khoon Maaf" with supreme poetic elegance.

This is Bhardwaj's most fluidly-narrated film to date. Of course, having Gulzar on board helps. He pens Urdu poetry for Irrfan Khan and rock poetry for John Abraham. For Priyanka poetry is not needed. She creates a kind of indecipherable poetic statement for her deeply dysfunctional character who kills 6 husbands and moves to the 7th at the end of the film with the profound satirical grief of a woman who has discovered that this world has no true love to offer her.

True love...ah! Now that's an idea. At heart Vishal's dark elegiac film is about the search for true love. The relationship that Sussanna (Priyanka) forms with a young boy(Vivaan Shah) as she goes from one husband to another remains at the core of the film. In a macabre subversion of the almost-pure love that Susanna shares with Vivaan's character, at one point in the narration she tries to seduce the boy who's almost like a son. It's a dark ugly moment, almost repugnant in its incestuous resonances but in keeping with the character's insatiable appetite for destruction.

Vishal Bhardwaj brings to the storyboard a deep sense of tragic grandeur even as Susanna slips from self-gratification to delusional spirituality.

Priyanka Chopra has already proved herself way ahead of her contemporaries in her earlier works notably "Fashion" and "What's Your Raashee". In "7 Khoon Maaf" she moves to another level, displaying a range of emotions and age-changes (minus prosthetics) that one last saw in Shabana Azmi's performances.

Priyanka's sequences with Irrfan Khan (playing a gentle poet who transforms into a sexual pervert in bed) are stuff poetic nightmares are made of. We can clearly see the cinematographer (Ranjan Palit) is not in love with the actress, but the character. His camera searches for intransigent images in Susanna's life, even as Priyanka's quest for the character's core takes her into areas of self-expression that are far beyond the reach of cinema acting as we know it.

A. Sreekar Prasad edits the life of Susanna with a surety that, alas,the character never comes close to achieving in her dealings with the opposite sex. Sreekar creates a symphonic seamless movement from one husband to another, sometimes joining segments in Susanna's life with visuals that would otherwise seem incompatible.

The husbands are all played by actors who have no qualms in stripping away their vanity to become the kind of suave but duplicitous untrustworthy spouses who cheat and betray for the sake of the opposite emotion to love. Irrfan Khan as a wolf in poet's clothing, Naseeruddin Shah as the affable old Bengali dietician (his Bengali accent is more dead-on than any true-blue Bengalis) and John Abraham as a stereotypical rock musician gone to poppy-seed, are pitch-perfect in their creating a drama of the callous for Priyanka's character.

But it's Neil Nitin Mukesh as her first legless army-man husband whose display of clenched menace jolts you.

As a storyteller Vishal Bhardwaj has never been more in command of his language. He punctuates Susanna's story with bouts of unexpected humour and poetry. Providentially the murders are committed in ways that appear more humorous than savage. And that's both a good and a bad thing.

The narrative shows a rare understanding of the gender dynamics and the sexual tensions between men and women. Priyanka Chopra's interaction with the unctuous and closet-horny police officer Anu Kapoor delectably illustrates the fable of the Temptress & The Besotted. And by the way Viagara never seemed funnier.

Priyanka Chopra goes from husband-to-husband with a mocking sigh of resigned surrender. She is not a victim. But neither is she the hero of the bizarre web of destruction and delusion that her character weaves around her.
Tags : Entertainment news, Bollywood, Hindi Film Industry

Superstar Nagarjuna plans to open a film institute,doesn't want to waste time by accepting Bollywood offers

New Delhi: He has over two decades in the film industry and more than 70 movies to his credit, but southern superstar Nagarjuna is in no mood to sit on his laurels. He is busy doing experimental cinema, plans to open a film institute down south and doesn't want to waste time by accepting Bollywood offers.

"I had a nice roller-coaster ride in the industry. I have learnt many lessons. There were many ups and downs and, thankfully, I survived them all. And every experience has been very enriching and satisfactory," Nagarjuna told the media in an interview over phone from Hyderabad.

The Chennai-born 51-year-old actor is a qualified engineer and he even went to the University of Louisiana at Lafayettein the US to do his masters, but the acting bug bit him so hard that he took a plunge into showbiz. And why not when he had an inspiration at home - his father Nageswara Rao is an actor and a producer.

So Nagarjuna's acting journey began with Madhusudan Rao's 1986 movie "Vikram" and he not only became a big name in the south but also did a few Bollywood projects. He has played all kinds of roles - from emotional and romantic to action and comic.

He has even featured in devotional Telugu film "Annamayya", which fetched him the Nandi Award for the best actor in 1997. But the success brought some problems as, Nagarjuna says, after the film audiences refused to accept him in any other role for four-five years.

"My films didn't do well after the movie. I just couldn't get away from the image," said the star who even now wants to play a mythological character from the Mahabharata and the Ramayana.

"We grow up listening to stories from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. So I would like to portray any character from any chapter of these epics," he said.

He also wants to do "experimental cinema".

"I want to do something that can satiate my hunger for breaking the stereotype. Unlike Bollywood, Tollywood (Telugu film industry) is not experimenting with cinema. So the change has to start from somewhere; let me be the first one. Audience is same everywhere and so we have to try to break free from the regular masala movies," he said.

Calling his upcoming venture "Gaganam" experimental, Nagarjuna says it is very different from what he has done so far and hopes to bring change in southern cinema with the film.

In Bollywood, one remembers Nagarjuna for "Criminal" and his last Hindi movie was "LOC Kargil" and he said laughingly: " 'LOC' was enough for me. I don't want to waste time."

"I have been offered scripts, but getting out of Hyderabad, shooting somewhere else, it doesn't work for me; hence there are constant clashes. I have things happening here, all under control, so I am comfortable here," he added.

The actor-producer doesn't rule out the possibility of producing a Bollywood film if he gets the right package. But direction is a no-no for him.

Nagarjuna has been dabbling in different business for the past five-six years. He is closely associated with Telugu TV channel Maa TV - he is on its board of directors.

Apart from this, his restaurant N-grill is a popular dinning place in the plush Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad, and he has plans to take it to other cities like Delhi and Bangalore as well.

The most ambitious project that Nagarjuna is currently focussing on is Annapurna Studios Pvt Ltd (ASPL) in Jubilee Hills that will train technicians and budding actors.

"Unfortunately, down south we don't have a film school like you have in Mumbai. So the gap has to be filled and I am looking more at the quality aspect; hence this project has come up. After all these years in the industry, I have seen there is no proper channel or guidance here if one wants to make a career in this line," he said.

"So a person learns on the job. But this is not the right way. Hence it will be on the lines of the American film institute, New York University, and the University of Southern California. The objective of this institute is to upgrade talent for students to compete globally," he added.

According to him, this is a way of giving back to the industry that has made him what he is today and see it scale great heights in future.
Tags : India Entertainment News, Nagarjuna in Bollywood, Bollywood Offers for Nagarjuna, Nagarjuna in Telugu Film Industry

Madhur Bhandarkar the filmmaker now wants to direct an intense love story

Mumbai: He admits women-centric films are his forte but Madhur Bhandarkar doesn't want to stick to one genre. After a comedy, the filmmaker now wants to direct an intense love story.

"I am a great admirer of Raj Khosla and Vijay Anand. Can you believe the same director who made 'Guide' also made 'Jewel Thief'. I'd like to be known for all genres," said Bhandarkar.

"I want to make an intense love story like 'Ek Duuje Ke Liye'. I also want to make a thriller like 'Teesri Manzil'. But, yes, hard-hitting women-centric cinema is my forte," added Bhandarkar, who has ventured into comedy with "Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji".

His impressive oeuvre of women-centric films include critically acclaimed movies like "Chandni Bar", "Page 3" and "Satta".

Excerpts from an interview:

Q: You've hopped genres with "Dil Toh Bachcha Hai Ji"? At a time when female-centric films like "No One Killed Jessica" are doing well why the change to male-centric cinema?

A: I like to surprise everyone including myself. It's not easy when you move out of your comfort zone. Firstly, I was not making a chick flick. This is a boys' film. People close to me know I've a good sense of humour. In fact, all my actors Bipasha Basu, Konkona Sen Sharma, Priyanka Chopra, Tabu... they all said, 'Madhur tu kitna hansata hai'. So I thought, why not a comedy? But I never thought it'd be so difficult.

I wanted to go back to the comedies of Basu Chatterjee and Hrishikesh Mukherjee. My aim for comedy was not Rohit Shetty's "Golmaal" but Hrishida's "Golmaal".

Q: Is it true that you were supposed to make a film on Jessica Lal?

A: Yes, I was going to make a film on Jessica Lal. In fact, I had told UTV's Ronnie Screwvala that I liked the idea of making a film on the Jessica Lal case. I had registered the title "Jessica" after my film "Satta". If you remember in that film Raveena Tandon's husband played by Sameer Dharamadhikari had shot a bar girl in the film. He shoots the girl when she says 'Bar band hai'.

I saw "No One Killed Jessica". Rajkumar Gupta has done a fine job. I had liked his "Aamir" too. It's very well performed and shot. So the case rests there. Every day as a filmmaker you come up with a new idea.

Q: What next for Madhur?

A: I am a great admirer of Raj Khosla and Vijay Anand. Can you believe the same director who made "Guide" also made "Jewel Thief". I'd like to be known for all genres. I want to make an intense love story like "Ek Duuje Ke Liye". I also want to make a thriller like "Teesri Manzil". But, yes, hard-hitting women-centric cinema is my forte.

Q: You are a huge fan of Gulzar, aren't you?

A: Oh yes I'm hugely influenced by the cinema of Gulzar saab. I consider it a big compliment when people refer to me as a new-age Gulzar. I know each and every film and lyric that he has written by heart. In "Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji" even the title is a tribute to Gulzar saab.

I acquired the rights of Gulzar saab's song "Koi hota jisko apna" from "Mere Apne" and used it in "Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji". It's one of my favourite songs written by Gulzar saab. 'Aur kya composition kiya hai Salil Chowdhary ne!' It would be criminal to change the track in any way. I've used it in the original form. Who can sing like Kishore da today?
Tags : India Entertainment News, Bollywood, Madhur Bhandarkar on Women Centric Films, Madhur Bhandarkar on Ek Duuje Ke Liye, Madhur Bhandarkar on Vijay Anand

Jamia Millia Islamia will showcase the history of curatorial practices in India

New Delhi: "Transformation," an art exhibition curated by the students of Jamia Millia Islamia at the M.F Husain art gallery, will showcase the history of curatorial practices in India, organisers said today.

Five students from Jamia's department of art history and art appreciation - Nisha Aggarwal, Pradeep, K. Arya, Satish Malviya and Romana Farid - are taking part in the five-day exhibition that begins on Feb 21, a statement said.

"This is the first time the institute is helping students curate an exhibition," a spokesperson for the Jamia Millia Islamia said.

The show will be inaugurated by Shobha Broota and will feature works by young artists like Rajkumar, Vaibhav Sharma, Anjani Kashyap, Udipti Jayaswal, Mala Srivastava, Varnita Mahajan, Rajnish Chhanesh and Waseem among others.

"The exhibition is a metamorphic process which gets defined through various aspects of human life, right from birth to death. It will explore this process of transformation taking into account socio-political issues of gender, class, caste etc among other things," the statement said.

The show will also use various media of visual arts such as painting, sculpture, photographs, and installation in a wide variety of form and material to convey the essence of the theme.

According to the spokesperson, the exhibition was significant because "curatorial practises were becoming a key component in planning art exhibitions in India because art was using specific themes in its choice of exposition."

Most galleries and government institutions in India were using art to engage in dialogue with the audience with more focus on art in public spaces and young contempoaray art that explored themes that were off the beaten track.
Tags : India Education News, Jamia Millia Islamia University, Art exhibition at Jamia

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) raided the office of Kalaignar TV

Chennai: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today raided the office of Kalaignar TV, promoted by family members of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, in connection with the 2G spectrum allocation scam, sources said. While CBI officials were unavailable for comment, the company said it would issue a statement later on. The channel is under the CBI scanner for its Rs.200 crore loan transaction with Cineyug Films which is connected to Shahid Usman Balwa of Swan Telecom.

"I am not aware of the raids as reported by television channels," said Karunanidhi's daughter Kanimozhi, who is one of the major promoters of the company that owns Kalaignar TV channel.

Queried about the transaction with Cineyug Films, she said: "The company head Sharad (Kumar) has issued a detailed statement clarifying the transaction. I don't know how this is linked to telecom companies."

The company's Managing Director Sharad Kumar had Wednesday welcomed investigative agencies to verify its books and documents in connection with the loan transaction the company had entered into with Cineyug Films.

Referring to his Feb 10 statement, where he had clarified that Kalaignar TV had no connection with the 2G spectrum allocation made in 2007-08 and the loan transaction with Cineyug Films Pvt Ltd in 2009, he said: "Despite the clarification, the CBI has mentioned about the loan transaction in the court."

The CBI has alleged a connection between Swan Telecom's Balwa and Kalaignar TV.

Seeking further remand of Balwa, the CBI had claimed before the court that Balwa was favoured by former union communications minister A. Raja in the allocation of spectrum.

According to Kumar, Cineyug gave some money as advance towards the acquisition of stakes in Kalaignar TV in 2009.

"Owing to the differences in valuation of the shares of two companies, a sum of Rs.200 crore received till August 2009 was considered as a loan and was paid back by Kalaignar TV along with an interest of Rs.31 crore," Kumar had said in a statement earlier.

He also said the transaction was reported to the Income Tax Department and the relevant tax had been paid.

Karunanidhi's wife Dayalu and his daughter and Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi together hold majority stake in the company.

Former communications minister A. Raja resigned for his alleged involvement in the 2G spectrum allocation scam, which caused huge losses to the national exchequer. He was on Thursday sent to Tihar Jail on 14 days judicial custody by a Delhi court.
Tags : India News, 2G spectrum scam, CBI raids Kalaignar TV office, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi

Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), has a new secretary general

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), the country's largest Indian-based party, has a new secretary general in S. Murugessan who was appointed with immediate effect amid speculation of early parliamentary polls.

The move by MIC president G. Palanivel may not go well with S. Samy Vellu, who stepped down recently as the party chief ater 30 years, the media said today.

The outgoing secretary general T. Rajagopalu returns to helm the MIC unit in Negri Sembilan state where, Palanivel told a meeting, the support among the Indians was declining.

Malaysia is home to 2.1 million ethnic Indians, a bulk of them Tamils who settled here during the British era. They form eight percent of the country's multi-racial 28 million population.

Negri Sembilan state chief V.S. Mogan has been appointed as MIC information chief, replacing Murugessan.

The state has one of the larger concentrations of ethnic Indians and is crucial to MIC in any election.

MIC is a major constituent of the ruling Barisan Nasional alliance and has ministers in the government of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.

An official, who attended a five-hour meeting of the party's top executive, said Palanivel "wants Rajagopalu to concentrate on the state for the next general election. He also wants to revamp the state leadership, which is said to be divided into several factions".

The appointment of Murugessan, who contested and lost the Subang parliamentary seat in March 2008, is expected to ruffle some feathers as he was removed from the secretary general's post last May for dissension against Samy Vellu.
Tags : Malaysian Indian Congress, MIC Secretary General, Malaysia Parliamentary Polls, S Murugessan


US India Business Council (USIBC) seeks opening of India's retail sector

Washington: Seeking opening of India's retail sector, the US India Business Council (USIBC) has set up a sub-committee to focus on leveraging the combined resources of the retail supply chain.

The newly formed sub-committee will promote retail trade focused on the consumer products categories of health & beauty, personal care, household and food products, the trade body said.

USIBC representing over 300 top American companies investing in India and a score global Indian companies aims to deepen trade and strengthen commercial ties with India.

James C. "Chip" DiPaula, Jr., Senior Vice President of Compass Marketing, Inc, would chair the new Sub-Committee on Consumer Products, to be housed within the Council's Retail Trade Executive Committee, USIBC President Ron Somers announced on Thursday.

"The retail and consumer products sectors are among the fastest growing in India and we wanted to make sure we are devoting the council's full resources to address India's unique needs. Chip has outstanding public and private sector experience and is ideally suited to lead this effort," he said.

Compass Marketing, Inc, serves as strategic advisors to many of the world's top consumer products manufacturers.

The Indian retail sector is one of the fastest growing in the world, yet is encountering many challenges and barriers, USIBC said.

"We are excited about the tremendous trade opportunities between businesses in both nations and our sub-committee will dedicate maximum focus and support to promote the tangible benefits of open markets; and develop solutions to market barriers," said DiPaula.

Modern retail will provide enormous positive effects in India by creating new and better employment opportunities, by introducing modern retail formats and technology, and by modernising supply chain management and distribution, USIBC said.

Retail modernisation and enhancements will be particularly beneficial to Indian farmers in building new and better markets for their products as well as reducing the high rate of agricultural spoilage, it said.

USIBC member-companies represent technical and financial resources that can support India's retail opening, respecting the fact that this must be done in a manner that benefits all segments of Indian society, USIBC said.
Tags : India Business News, India Retail Sector, US India Business Council, India Retail Supply Chain

INFOCOM hosted a panel discussion on 'Social ROI - Using Social Media for Business'

Kolkata: Taking cognizance of the fact that Social Media is fast turning into a possible revenue churning tool, WebReps in association with INFOCOM hosted a panel discussion on a pertinent topic 'Social ROI - Using Social Media for Business' today at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata.

Panelists consisted of eminent names in the social media segment including Nitesh Ambuj from eForce Global, Angsuman Chakraborty of Taragana and Aji Issac Mathew, the man behind TechShu. The panel discussion ranging from consumer behaviour to marketing mix in social media and brand building effort to success stories made it a prolific combination of ideas and precious advice.

Nitesh started off with the fundamentals as he delved deep into the definition of social media and its penetration into today's business fraternity. After categorizing social media sites in terms of number of users he blurted out the success mantra on social media, which include creation of quality content, connecting with interesting people and staying connected.

His statements were substantiated by instances and stories including the one of Ford whose social media strategy is to humanize and provide value to consumers. Success stories of TED India, TATA Docomo, Tirupati Balaji an others were hauled before the audience. A classic example was that of a taxi driver in Benaras who even uploaded video on YouTube.

Aji pushed forward his thoughtful ideas on how we look at 'community' and 'brand'. Stating the importance of building a brand on social media he said, "Brand is not just a big name but a concept which you can build". Admitting the power of consumer of social media Aji dished out an entrepreneurial view on how to treat community building and brand building as equals. Human engineering and the effort to retain loyal followers on social media are priceless, affirmed Aji.

Hailing Social media as the most effective means of communication to connect and develop brand awareness, Aji added how recommendations and consumer opinions on social media can work wonders for brands, especially the startups.

Anshuman triggered the flow of ideas as he equated Social media with empowerment and an extension of social life. It was a razor-sharp message from his side when he said, "The only ROI you want to have is the number of followers, trackbacks, how much interaction you make." While talking about "performance metrics and its parameters" Anshuman spared a thought on why it is important to know the objective and why monetary analysis is primary. He advocated the idea that measurement needs to be constant.

Preferring relative numbers (across platforms like Adwords) over absolute numbers he asserts that it is not easy to measure ROI. However, he felt that cost of fulfillment is important. Dell Outlet success story surfaced during his dealing with the idea.

Questions on whether we can quantify Social ROI and convince CEO with numbers cropped up during the question and answer session. Kamnasish Roy from WebReps came with a question as to whether there is any domain that does not require social ROI?

The house was opened for all after the Q&A session. It saw a hearty participation of the audience and the panelists where experiences were shared, differences were expressed and concepts were countered.
Tags : Social Media revenue, WebReps in association with INFOCOM, INFOCOM hosts panel discussion, Social ROI, Social Media for Business, INFOCOM Conference in Kolkata

Tamil Nadu's ruling DMK and the PMK signed an agreement to jointly fight the coming assembly elections

Chennai: Tamil Nadu's ruling DMK and the PMK today signed an agreement to jointly fight the coming assembly elections, with the PMK allotted 31 seats.

The pact was signed at the residence of DMK president and Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi. PMK will also contest one Rajya Sabha seat.

Karunanidhi told reporters later: "I met (Congress president) Sonia Gandhi in Delhi. It was then decided that DMK and Congress would fight the elections together. In continuation, today PMK has been admitted into the DMK-led front."

Expressing his happiness, PMK founder leader S. Ramadoss said: "We have been allotted 31 (assembly) seats and one Rajya Sabha seat. The DMK-led alliance will record a resounding victory."

The DMK-led alliance also includes the Congress and a small party, VCK.

Ramadoss, accompanied by other party leaders like G.K. Mani, called on Karunanidhi.
Tags : Tamil Nadu News, India Politics News, DMK PMK Agreement, Tamil Nadu Assembly Elections

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) raids Commonwealth Games (CWG) offices

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Friday conducted raids at several locations in Delhi in connection with irregularities in overlays contracts for the 2010 Commonwealth Games (CWG), officials said.

"Searches are being carried out, but we can't give out the names of the officials and places raided," a CBI official told the media.

Large scale allegations of corruption in the CWG overlays contracts - estimated to be over Rs.600 crore - were reported after the Games concluded on Oct 14. Overlays works included the supply of tents, portable toilets and air conditioners.

Former CWG Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi's aide Shekhar Deorukhkar was arrested Feb 11 for his alleged role in the scam.

Earlier, the CBI had also arrested the head of event management companies Meroform India and GL Events Beenu Nanu, senior CWG officials T.S. Darbari, Sanjay Mohindroo and M. Jayachandran in connection with the scam.

Darbari, Mohindroo and Jayachandran have already been granted bail.
Tags : CWG Corruption, CBI Raids, CWG Irregularities, CWG Overlays Contracts Irregularities, 2010 Commonwealth Games

Housing Development and Infrastructure Limited (HDIL) announced a Rs.2,300 crore Cyber City project

Kochi: Housing Development and Infrastructure Limited (HDIL) today announced a Rs.2,300 crore Cyber City project near here which is expected to generate 60,000 new direct jobs.

"HDIL Cyber City will be a catalyst to Kerala's economic growth. The project is expected to generate 60,000 new direct jobs. Apart from these, construction of the entire project is expected to require nine million man-days, which is again a major employment opportunity for the people of Kerala," HDIL chairman Rakesh Kumar Wadhawan said.

The state government has granted the necessary clearances to the project which acquired a complete Special Economic Zone (SEZ) status from the centre to come up at Kalamassery near here.

The promoters of the project, Blue Star Realtors Private Limited, the 100 percent owned subsidiary of HDIL, will invest Rs.2,300 crore in the project.

The project will come up on 70 acres of land at Kalamassery Special Economic Zone. Buildings and structures will occupy 20 percent while the rest 80 percent will comprise of green space.

State Minister for Industries Elamaram Kareem inaugurated the commencement of construction activities of the project at a ceremony held at the site.

The project is designed to be completed in three phases and would include amenities like hospital, training school, shopping complex, multiplex and office spaces for IT companies. The residential component will also be developed simultaneously.
Tags : Housing Development and Infrastructure Limited, HDIL project, HDIL Cyber City project, direct jobs in Kerala, Kerala News, India Jobs news

India's GSM subscriber base grew 2.53 percent,addition of 13.71 million mobile phone users

New Delhi: India's GSM subscriber base grew 2.53 percent in January with the addition of 13.71 million mobile phone users, of which telecom giant Bharti Airtel alone signed up over 3.3 million.

The total number of subscribers in the country crossed 556.68 million as against 542.97 million the previous month, data released by Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) showed.

Bharti Airtel now gains a market share of 27.99 percent, with 156 million subscribers - the highest in the country.

Vodafone added 3.1 million subscribers in the country to have a total of 127.36 million subscribers.

Idea Cellular followed up with an addition of 2.51 million subscribers to take its total subscribers base to 84.29 million. State-owned BSNL added 2.2 million subscribers to reach a total subscribers base mark of 83.6 million.

New telecom operator Uninor added 1.8 million to have a total of 20.3 million subscribers.
Tags : India's GSM subscriber base, mobile phone users, Bharti Airtel,Cellular Operators Association of India

Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOC) is expecting a government subsidy of Rs.11,000 crore

Kolkata: Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOC) is expecting a government subsidy of Rs.11,000 crore to lower its debt burden which might touch Rs.60,000 crore at the end of the financial year, a top company official said today.

‘'The company's current borrowings stood at Rs.55,000 crore, which might go up to Rs.60,000 crore at the end of the fiscal. However, 50 percent of the present borrowings are short term loans. Cost for the entire credit has been going up,'' IOC chairman S.V. Narasimhan told reporters on the sidelines of a refinery technology meet here.

"We need to reduce our pressure on account of debts and so we would use the Rs.11,000 crore government subsidy to make up our short term borrowings," he said.

IOC was making a loss of Rs.1.50 to Rs.2 in selling per litre of petrol, he informed.

The company's capital expenditure for FY12 would be Rs.13,000 crore, of which 70 percent would go in setting up the Paradip refinery, he said adding the main unit of the refinery would come up by March 2012, while the others will be commissioned by November of the year.
Tags : India Business News, Indian Oil Corporation Ltd, IOC Government Subsidy, IOC Debt Burden

Mumbai-based business tycoon to operate private train between Shirdi and Mumbai

Mumbai: Very soon a private train may ply between Shirdi and Mumbai. A plan was recently submitted to the Indian railway ministry in this regard by a Mumbai-based business tycoon Rajesh Nihak.

Nihak who is a pious follower of Shirdi Sai Baba has submitted his proposal to the Chairman of the Railway Board Vivek Sahai and the union Minister of Railways Mamata Banerjee. At present, over 700 Volvo buses ply between Shirdi and Mumbai and takes about 7-8 hours of time to travel. If the train is introduced, devotees can travel between the two stops within 3-4 hours resulting in sufficient time savings.

As per the Rs-50 cr plan of Nihak, around 900 devotees can travel in the train that will constitute of 9 compartments. The travel fare would be nearly same as charged by the Volvo buses. Once introduced, such trains would be available from 7 'o' clock in the morning till 11 'o' clock in the night.

The ministry is also planning to operate trains with more compartments from prime locations of India, including northeast to Shirdi soon, as devotees arrive here from various parts of the country.
Tags : India Business News, Indian Railways, Private train to Shirdi, Railway Ministry

Indian Airlines pilots are not utilised optimally although the airline complains of pilot shortage:RTI

New Delhi: After the cash-crunch issue of Air India hogged the headline, India's national carrier is making news for wrong reason. A latest RTI document has revealed the fact that Air India's claim that it is suffers from dearth of pilots is an untainted lie.

According to the information received from the RTI statement, Indian Airlines pilots are not utilised optimally although the airline complains of pilot shortage. The RTI report further elucidated the fact that contractual pilots who are supposed to fly a minimum of 60 hours are flying less than the minimum limit.

Reports further revealed that commanders from four regions flew 58, 53 and 49 hours every month and that is way below the standard capacity.

Besides citing poor management of schedules post merging of Air India and Indian Airlines, the pilots stated that another prime reason for this underutilization is not enough flights.

Looking at the schedule of domestic and international flights in the last six months it gets clear how most flights with heavy passenger load were cancelled. One flight even recorded 100 percent passenger load and met with the same fate.

Private airlines have seized this opportunity and they have prudently scheduled their flights to cater to those grunted passengers. Sudden flight cancellations have been taken as an opportunity for the private airlines to reflect their efficiency.

The question now comes is why these cancellation of flights have not been investigated by the DGCA? Moreover, Civil Aviation Ministry has kept mum about these sudden withdrawals of Air India flights. Reacting to this incident, Civil Aviation Minister Vyalar Ravi expressed concern stating that a probe will be ordered in this regard.
Tags : cash-crunch issue of Air India, India's national, RTI on Air India pilots, Air India flights, Air India pilots

Kenya is busy positioning itself as an holiday destination for leisure, honeymoon and business travellers

New Delhi: You can visit Kenya 20 times and still do something different each time, may be even snack on your favourite samosa! The east African nation is busy positioning itself as an upper middle class holiday destination for leisure, honeymoon and business travellers from India.

Kenya, sought after for its wildlife safaris, exotic coasts and ethnic lifestyle shows, expects a 10 percent increase in tourist arrivals from India this year.

"We want to project ourselves as a unique high-value safari destination with a diverse array of products centred on the wildlife trails in the Indian market, which is a key emerging segment for us," Jennifer Opondo, director of marketing of the Kenyan Tourist Board, told media in the capital.

"We want Indians to understand that if a tourist visits Kenya 20 times, the visitor can do 20 events and still not be bored!"

A high-level delegation of the Kenyan Tourism Board was in the capital to interface with the local travel trade industry to showcase its tourism potential and reach out to the large untapped segments of tourists in the emerging economically viable tier-2 cities of the country.

Opondo, who was in the capital for a day with a 12-member team, said, "Kenya has a high diversity of natural species and the biggest concentration of wildlife in small spaces in Africa."

Added to the wildlife safaris, the bulk of which plays out in the state's 59 national parks, reserves and private sanctuaries, is the country's nearly 470-km coastline hugging the Indian Ocean that sustains marine tourism with protected coral reefs and a 500-year-old history of colonial settlement by European, South Asian and Far Eastern settlers in towns like Malindi, Mombasa, Diani and and the Lamu island, Opondo said.

The stately Masai tribesmen enhance the mystique, she said.

"We want more Indian tourists to visit the country's coast, along with the wildlife parks. The coasts are a cultural mix of Indian, Arab, Chinese Swahili and European influences," she said.

For Kenya, tourism from India is a "beautiful growth story rooted in the country's colonial history". "If the benchmark is calculated as 2007, then between 2007 and 2009, the volume of tourism from India to Kenya has grown over 32 per cent. The period between January and October in 2010 has seen 40,000 Indian tourists - an increase of 34.4 percent over the corresponding period in 2009," Opondo said.

"India figures sixth among the list of top inbound arrivals. It trails behind the US, Italy, Germany and France," Opondo said.

Currently, the maximum number of tourists to Kenya was from Mumbai and Gujarat, she said. "We want to target south Indian and eastern cities like Kolkata that are affluent," she said.

Citing a price breakup for a holiday to Kenya, Ondo said "a five-night trip, the average travel haul, costs nearly Rs.100,000 per person with board, food and sightseeing". While Mumbai has a daily flight to Kenya, Delhi operates five direct flights a week.

Outlining the historical perspective of the ties between India and Kenya, Opondo said the traditional diamond market of Kenya and an old rail-head at Mombasa built by the British from the coast to Lake Victoria attracted Indian traders to the coast in the late 19th and early 20th century. Modern migration to Kenya dates back to 1869 with 30,000 Sikh workers, who were recruited for infrastructure jobs.

"The majority of the tourists to Kenya from India is of the VFR (visiting friends and relatives) segment. We want to convert it into the leisure segment by encouraging experiential travel for families, large business, conference and incentive travellers' groups," she said.

Citing celebrity travel from India, Opondo said "the Ambani family was a frequent visitor to the Kenyan coast with Bollywood stars like Saif Ali Khan".

Food was another attraction, Opondo said. "Apart from seafood and the traditional fish and meat dishes, the most popular snack in Kenya was the Indian samosa. Chapati was a part of the national menu, almost as popular as the local ugali - a maize, millet and casava dish," she said.

Opondo said her country was also "trying to push Kenyan golf tourism in the Indian market and the Kenya Film Commission wants to promote Kenya as a destination with single-window clearance for Bollywood mainstream and documentary filmmakers".
Tags : India Business News, Holiday destinations in Kenya, Business travellers from India, Kenyan Tourism Board

World Cup 2011:Coca-Cola will launch its street cricket series in the middle of the World Cup

New Delhi: Soft drinks giant Coca-Cola will launch its street cricket series in the middle of the World Cup to cash in on the cricket fever in the country.

Coca-Cola India is is all set to launch Sprite Gully Cricket, a programme spread across the country, targeting youngsters in nearly 100 towns and cities. More than 100,000 youngsters are expected to participate in this program at the grassroots level.

"This is a part of our ongoing efforts to promote sports at the grassroots level. We have been promoting programs like cricket, football etc and this campaign takes it forward," said an official of Coca-Cola India.

Coca-Cola, which is not an official sponsor of the World Cup, is aiming to launch this programme around the beginning of March, just as the cricket fever starts to peak and the World Cup contest starts getting interesting and intense.

The event will continue till mid-April leading to the Indian Premier League (IPL) where Coca-Cola India is expected to be a major partner with some prominent IPL teams.

The campaign will target cities like Kolkata, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Varanasi, Ranchi, Patna, Nasik, Rajkot, Mangalore, Vijayawada and Durgapur. The campaign will focus on cities where World Cup matches will be held.

To sustain the momentum and facilitate large scale participation, the company plans to distribute more than 5,000 cricket balls at small playgrounds in these cities which could be picked by teenagers and start a Game.

Coca Cola India has also conceptualized a high decibel campaign for Sprite to promote this activity.

The campaign will be aired to coincide with the inaugural match of the World Cup slated for Saturday and the company is understood to be spending more than Rs. 35 crores to cash in on the cricket mania.
Tags : Soft drinks giant Coca-Cola, street cricket series, World Cup, Cricket fever in India

Cricket World cup 2011 flags made in Rajasthan

Jaipur: This city is not a venue for the World Cup matches, but flags made in Jaipur will make their presence felt as they swirl and flutter across venues in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh for the mega event from Saturday.

That's because a Jaipur-based trader, Chaganlal & Sons, has bagged orders to supply flags, cutouts, masks, T-shirts and posters to cricket boards in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and various cricket associations in India.

"The flags of all 14 countries which are taking part in the World Cup are in huge demand. In Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, we have supplied flags on government orders.," said Rajesh Agrawal of Chhaganlal and Sons.

"Besides, all cricket associations which are hosting the matches have placed orders," said the trader who operates from a small place in the walled city of Jaipur. He said each cricket association is shelling out around Rs.1-1.5 lakh to buy flags, cutouts and other items.

The trading company had earlier supplied flags for the FIFA World Cup, the 2010 Commonwealth Games and also the presidential elections in the US.

He said the demand for flags and other promotional items for the Cricket World Cup has exceeded expectations this time. "We have so far sold over 30,000 flags and are trying our best to meet the demand growing with each passing day," said Agrawal.

Malls, cinema halls and hotels are also queuing up to buy the World Cup promotional items, he said.

Obviously, the flags of India top the list of most wanted items this time around. "Face cutouts of Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Yusuf Pathan are very much in demand," said Agrawal.

The flags are available in all sizes, from 1 cm to 10 feet in length, costing between 10 paisa and Rs.800 in wholesale purchase. Face cutouts are being sold in the range of Rs.150 and Rs.800, T-shirts from Rs.60 to Rs.500 and posters come cheap at Rs.10.
Tags : India Sports News, Rajasthan News, World Cup Venues in India, World Cup Venues in Sri Lanka, World Cup Venues in Bangladesh Flags made in Jaipur

Colors channel has launched crime-based reality show "Wanted - High Alert"

Mumbai: After game show "Bigg Boss" and adventure-based "Khatron Ke Khiladi", Colors channel has launched crime-based reality show "Wanted - High Alert" to help curb crime.

"Colors has always done something different, whether it is soap or reality show. Whether it's 'Fear Factor' or 'Bigg Boss' or soaps like 'Balika Badhu', we always do something which is relevant to the society, whether it's child marriage or female infanticide like 'Lado'," Ashvini Yardi, programming head of Colors told the media after the launch of the show here today.

"So when we decided to get into a genre like crime, we decided to do a crime reality show. Viewers are active participants in this show and with this show we can help the police, I won't say to eradicate but to reduce the crime in the country," she added.

"Wanted" will show photographs of the wanted criminals and there will be a toll free number where viewers can call to give information about them.

Colors has teamed up with B.A.G Films to accomplish the goal.

"We have news bureaus across the country. We have tied up with B.A.G. They have the news media. We are using them to use their stringers across. Police are helping us," said Yardi.

Asked how would it be different from shows like "India's Most Wanted" or "Crime Patrol", she said: "It's a reality show, they are fictional."

The show is going on air on Feb 26 and it will be hosted by actor Sushat Singh. Every episode will deal with two cases.

"We are speaking of real crime, one who are accused and still wanted. There are enough evidences. We are asking common man to participate and help police to grab them. We are showing photographs of the accused in different get-ups, which they might have used to escape the law," Sushant, who finds acting easier than hosting a reality show, told the media.

"I am still doing my homework. Honestly, I am very nervous. Putting up a mask of a character and facing the camera is much different from but being alone in the show and interacting directly with mass through a camera is a huge responsibility," said Sushant. The channel is using its platform to find out the accused with co-operation from police and their bureaus across the country.
Tags : game show Bigg Boss, adventure-based Khatron Ke Khiladi, Colors channel, crime-based reality show,Wanted - High Alert

Actress Kangana Ranaut is not opting out of "One And Only",launch vehicle of Chirag Paswan

Mumbai: Kangana Ranaut's spokesperson has clarified that the actress is not opting out of "One And Only", launch vehicle of Chirag Paswan, son of politician Ram Vilas Paswan.

"Kangana has almost finished the film and there's no question of her wanting to opt out. This was never discussed and is a completely false story. Given the number of films Kangana is doing this year, there are bound to be some date issues, but that's nothing out of the ordinary," the actress' spokesperson told media.

It was reported that after a tussle with the makers of "One And Only", which is being produced by Maverick Productions, the actress decided to walk out of the project.

"Kangana has always been choosy about her films and has signed it because of the script which is very engaging. She is excited about the film and is looking forward to its release," said the spokesperson.

"One And Only" also stars Sagarika Ghatge, Poonam Dhillon, Vinod Khanna and Dalip Tahil, among others. Directed by Tanveer Khan, the musical love story is expected to release in April this year.
Tags : Entertainment News, Bollywood celebrities, Bollywood films

Sushant Singh Rajput,wants to quit the dance reality show "Jhalak Dikkhla Jaa 4"

Mumbai: Sushant Singh Rajput, one of the most promising contenders on Sony TV's "Jhalak Dikkhla Jaa 4", wants to quit the dance reality show today due to a back injury. But judge Madhuri Dixit has asked him to stay on.

A source from the sets informed media that Sushant declared during the today shoot that he wants to quit.

"Sushant told the judges that he wants to quit as he is not in a position to perform, and said he doesn't want to be unfair to the other contenders by not performing and still doing the vote appeal," said the source.

Apparently Sushant, who has been performing consistently and getting perfect scores, suffered the injury during the technical rehearsals with his choreographer Shampa.

Though he has excruciating pain, but is not happy with his decision.

"Madhuri told Sushant that he is one of the best dancers on the show and she would love to see him dance. She also said that she is confident he will find place in the top three finalists, and so he should take a call only after a second thought," added the source.

Host Mona Singh interrupted and told Sushant: "We'll talk about it later!"

Recently, there were rumours that Sushant had threatened Sony TV about leaving the show when his girlfriend Ankita Lokhande was eliminated. However, in an interview to media, Sushant had denied doing so.
Tags : Entertainment News, Television stars, Indian reality shows

Meghalaya ranks way below the national average in imparting elementary education:ASER

Shillong: Meghalaya ranks way below the national average in imparting elementary education in the country, according to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), 2010.

The national average of children in the 3-4 years age group in 'anganwadi' schools is 75.7 percent, whereas Meghalaya's average is way below at 46.7 percent, revealed the report, released today by Leader of Opposition Conrad K.Sangma.

According to the report, the national average of children in the age group of 6-14 out of school is 3.5 percent and Meghalaya's average is more that double at 7.2 percent.

Moreover, children between ages 3 and 6 years not attending any kind of pre-school is very high in Meghalaya and the percentage of such children in the state is increasing year after year since 1997.

Amongst the seven districts of the state, Jaintia Hills fares the worst in imparting elementary education, the report stated.

The report comes as no surprise since pre-school teachers, mostly in rural areas, are still getting a salary of Rs.1,800 despite many appeals to the government. This salary has remained unchanged for the past ten years, so many of these teachers juggle between several jobs to make ends meet.

"Many of the elementary school teachers have outsourced their jobs to others. In return they get 50 percent of the salary and carry on other work," the report said.

"In such a scenario, how can the state expect to do well in imparting elementary education," Sangma said.

He also claimed that the central government's flagship programme - the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme - has also lured children away from the schools in the villages.

"Many school children are not attending their classes and are taking up jobs under the MGNREGS. The state government must ensure that such instances do not take place," Sangma said.

ASER is the largest household survey on elementary education in India.
Tags : India Education News, Meghalaya News, Elementary Education in Meghalaya, Annual Status of Education Report

Panjab University (PU),organising its first university-level alumni meet

Chandigarh: Panjab University (PU), one of the oldest universities in the country that is Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's alma mater, is organising its first university-level alumni meet on Saturday.

Jammu and Kashmir Governor N.N. Vohra will deliver the inaugural address at the meet and several former students are expected to participate.

PU's Dean-Alumni Relations Bhupinder Singh Bhoop said around 225 alumni of 1970 batch and previous ones will be honoured on the occasion.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been a former student as well as a faculty member of the economics department in the PU in 1950s and '60s. However, he is unlikely to participate in the event this time.

Various teaching departments of the university will also be holding events to mark the alumni meet.

Panjab University was established in 1882 at Lahore (now in Pakistan). It shifted to its present campus in Chandigarh's Sector 14 in late 1950s. It is now spread over an area of 550 acres in sectors 14 and 25 of Chandigarh.

The university has 75 teaching and research departments and 15 centres and chairs for teaching and research at the main campus located at Chandigarh.

PU has 188 affiliated colleges across Punjab and has three regional centres at Muktsar, Ludhiana and Hoshiarpur. It also has one regional rural centre in Punjab.
Tags : India Education News, Punjab News, Panjab University Alumni Meet, Panjab University Students

Zed urges Hindus worldwide to help needy on Mahashivratri

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, sending early Mahashivratri greetings to one billion Hindus of the world, has appealed them each to take a vow of adopting at least one charitable project on this auspicious occasion for less fortunate members of the community.

Zed, who is the president of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a release in Nevada (USA) today, wished that “all prayers of devotees be answered on the blessed Mahashivratri”, festival celebrated in honor of Lord Shiv, one of the divine trio of the Hindus—Brahma-Vishnu-Shiv, which falls on March three.

Quoting scriptures, Rajan Zed said that charity was a duty, which should be undertaken with sympathy and modesty. He suggested Hindus: focus on inner search, stay pure, explore the vast wisdom of scriptures, make spirituality more attractive to youth and children, stay away from the greed, and always keep God in your life.

Stressing renunciation, Zed pointed out that three opening words of ancient scripture Isha Upanishad: “tena tyaktena bhunjita” said it all—“By renouncing it {the world}, enjoy it.” Bhagavad-Gita, another ancient scripture, also promised “freedom through renunciation”.

Consumerism had resulted in neglecting spiritual values, Rajan Zed argued and quoted Bhagavad-Gita, which says: there are three gates to self-destructive hell—greed, anger, and desire. Abandon these three. A person freed from these three gates of darkness, seeks what is best and attains life’s highest goal.

Mahashivratri falls during the dark half of the month of Magh. A day of strict fasting accompanied by Lord Shiv worship and vigil precedes the festival which is celebrated with great rejoicing and feasting and it is regarded as extremely auspicious. Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion of the world and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal.
----Press release

Art Institute of Chicago has created "Be a Vishnu Avatar" lesson plan for students

Art Institute of Chicago (USA), one of the major art museums of the world, has developed a “lesson plan” for classroom activity in which students of 4-8 grades solve a global issue by taking the role of one of Hindu deity Vishnu’s avatars (incarnations).

Lesson plan says that Vishnu has 10 avatars, or incarnations, savior gods who come to earth to save humanity from evil at different intervals during the cycles of existence. In this activity students write a story about a problem on earth. They imagine themselves as one of Vishnu's avatars who can solve the problem. Students are encouraged to incorporate recognizable attributes to their avatar.

Applauding Art Institute of Chicago for acquiring various Hindu artifacts and developing "Be a Vishnu Avatar" lesson plan, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that art had a long and rich tradition in Hinduism and ancient Sanskrit literature talked about religious paintings of deities on wood or cloth.

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

The Art Institute of Chicago, founded in 1879 as both a museum and school, whose collection now encompasses more than 5,000 years of human expression from cultures around the world, and the school's graduate program is continually ranked as one of the best in the country. Thomas J. Pritzker is Board of Trustees Chairman while James Cuno is President. Search of “Vishnu” at Institute website reveals 22 artifacts related to Vishnu, including 9th century bronze from Eastern India.

Vishnu is “preserver” in the Hindu triad with Brahma and Shiva as the aspect of the
and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal.
---Press release


Arjun Munda of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the Kharsawa by-poll in Jharkhand

Ranchi: Arjun Munda of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the Kharsawa by-poll in Jharkhand today, clearing the way for him to continue as chief minister. He won by over 17,000 votes, defeating his nearest rival Krishna Gagarai of the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik (JVM-P). "This is a victory of the people of the state. People of Kharsawa have voted for development," Munda said after winning.

He needed to win the election to become a member of the assembly within six months of becoming chief minister - a constitutional necessity. He was sworn in as chief minister in September.

Counting began at 8 a.m. Till the third round, Munda was trailing behind Gagarai by 860 votes, but he edged past in the subsequent rounds. Munda secured 61,701 votes while rival Gagarai got 44,335 votes.

Munda had won from Kharsawa in 1995 on a Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) ticket. He joined the BJP just before the 2000 assembly elections. He again won the seat in 2000 and 2005 on a BJP ticket.

In 2009, BJP's Mangal Singh Soy had won the seat. He resigned last year to facilitate Munda's election to the assembly.
Tags : Jharkhand news, Arjun Munda win Kharsawa by poll, Krishna Gagarai

International Art Fair in London highlight Indian contemporary artist M.F. Husain's art

New Delhi: Leading Indian contemporary artist M.F. Husain's art will be the highlight of the 20/21 International Art Fair in London from Feb 17-20.

A six-foot abstract composition by Husain, known as the "Picasso of India", depicting human figures cavorting in a woodland, richly textured and intricately executed, will be on sale at the fair.

The work painted by the artist during the 1970s, when his works were much sought for their complex and colourful texture, is priced 180,000 pounds while a smaller canvas is estimated at 120,000 pounds.

The artworks have been donated by Tanya Baxter of the King's Road Gallery, a statement issued by the fair, said today.

A fair's spokesperson said the "Husain canvases" were attracting attention from buyers and generating interest among the "emerging generations of contemporary artists for its rich textures".

The response to the exhibits is "crucial to the morale of the 95-year-old artist", three of whose large canvases were removed from Indian Art Summit 2011 following security threats, a source close to Husain told the media.

Husain, now a citizen of Doha, left India in 2006 on a self-imposed exile after right wing Hindu extremists moved court against him for "depicting Hindu gods and goddesses" in "an objectionable manner". One of his compositions, Bharat Mata (Mother India), in which he depicted India has a "nude women" also courted controversy and allegedly "hurt sentiments of the Hindus".

Husain, a part of the Mumbai Progressive Group of artists in 1947, celebrated his 95th birthday in Doha by creating giant Murano glass horses, which were displayed on the streets along with the artist's personal fleet of fast cars.

The art fair will officially open on Thursday at the Royal College of Art at Kensington Gore in London. It will be inaugurated by Simon Jenkins.

Other artists exhibiting at the fair include Pawel Pyrz, Anthony Green, Kasia Kamita, Anthony Murphy, Jean Marchard, Peter Blake, Rob Ryan, Maria Rivans, Jim Dine, Roger Hilton, Romyn and Emiko Aida.

In its fifth year, the fair has drawn 60 exhibitors mostly from Britain who have offered contemporary art from countries as diverse India, China, Japan and Russia. The prices range from a few hundred pounds to 100,000 pounds.

Another artwork of exceptional significance is a sketch by Pablo Picasso of a street in Madrid drawn by the artist when he lived in the city at the age of 20. Depicting pimps and prostitutes, it was originally part of Picasso's "Carnet 96" sketchbook and is on sale for 65,000 pounds.

Ninety-eight year old Japanese artist Toko Shinoda, who began as a calligrapher at the age of six, is now regarded as one of Japan's greatest living painters. She is represented by London's Hanga Ten Gallery and her series of abstract lithographs are priced 3,000 pounds.

The range of art to be exhibited at the fair includes oil compositions, original prints, water colours, drawings, collage photography and sculptures covering a period of 110 years from 1900 to 2010.

The fair is organised by Hay Hutson and Angela Wynn. Hutson said judging from the number of visitors reported at the recent London fairs, "interest in art is on the rise".

In an uncertain economic climate with low interest rates, many investors are pumping money in art because it "brings them aesthetic satisfaction everyday besides the investment value of art", the organisers said.

"People may not be moving house but there is always room for another well-priced picture," Hutson said. Recent researches have shown that society in the UK is now more cosmopolitan than ever, he said.

"Each year it gets better and better - both dealers and visitors really like the variety of art on offer, the accessible price range, the manageable size and, most importantly, the friendly atmosphere," Hutson said.
Tags : Indian Art, Indian Contemporary Art, M.F. Husain's Art, 20/21 International Art Fair in London

BJP Varun Gandhi had a meeting with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi ,invited her to his wedding

New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Varun Gandhi today had a meeting with United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi at her residence here and invited her to his wedding scheduled for next month.

Varun, 30, son of BJP MP Maneka Gandhi, visited Sonia -- his aunt -- at her 10, Janpath home to personally invite her to the wedding, sources said.

The two also had lunch together during the hour-long meeting, sources said.

Varun will marry Yamini Roy, a graphics designer, at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh on March 6 and the wedding receptions have been planned at Delhi and Pilibhit, which is Varun's parliamentary constituency.

Varun's father Sanjay Gandhi was the younger brother of Rajiv Gandhi, former prime minister and Sonia's husband.

While Sonia heads the Congress party, Varun and his mother Maneka are in the opposition BJP.
Tags : Delhi News, India Politics News, Varun Gahndhi Meeting with Sonia Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi Residence, Varun Gandhi Residence

Pervez Musharraf behind Benazir Bhutto killing: scribe from Pakistan

New Delhi: All those in the Pakistan establishment led by former president General Pervez Musharraf who feared losing power following the return of Benazir Bhutto wanted to get rid of her, says Pakistan's top journalist-turned writer Amir Mir.

Mir, who was close to the slain former prime minister till her assassination on Dec 27, 2007, is in the news for his new book, "The Bhutto Murder Trail: From Waziristan to GHQ (Westland)," in which he has raised several allegations against the former military chief of Pakistan.

Mir's accusation comes at a time when the court investigating Bhutto's murder is closing in on Musharraf.

The Rawalpindi trial court hearing the Bhutto murder case has ordered the joint investigation team of Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency to arrest Musharraf for being one of the murder suspects and produce him in court on Feb 19, the next date of hearing.

Mir said he strongly believed that Musharraf and his associates in the military establishment were responsible for the assassination of Bhutto.

"There were pages after pages in the United Nations inquiry commission's report of evidence implicating Pakistan's military's intelligence outfits for their involvement in Bhutto's assassination," Mir told the media in an e-mail interview from Lahore.

Mir's book draws on personal anecdotes, off-the-cuff meetings, exchanges and e-mails with Bhutto to meticulously re-string the sequence of events that led to her assassination.

Mir, who has won the All-Pakistan Newspaper Society award for the best investigative journalist, says in his book that "just hours before being assassinated, Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister of Pakistan who was assassinated in December 2007, was apparently trying to expose a suspected ISI operation to rig the general election (scheduled to held on Jan 8, 2008) in favour of Parvez Musharraf-backed Pakistan Muslim League."

Bhutto had been collecting information about a rigging cell allegedly established at a safe house of the ISI in Islamabad. She was due to meet two senior American politicians to show them a confidential report compiled on the basis of information ascertained by her own contacts in the Pakistani security and intelligence service, Mir said.

"Patrick Kennedy, Democrat Congressman, and Arlene Specter, a Republican senator in the sub-committee on foreign operations, were scheduled to have a dinner meeting with Bhutto on Dec 27, 2007, (the day she was assassinated) during which they were to be given the report. According to a British daily, Asif Ali Zardari confirmed the presence of the report," Mir said.

"Benazir had herself told me during a one-on-one conversation on Nov 13, 2007, hardly a few weeks before her assassination 'you can name Musharraf my assassin if I am killed.' Those were the very words she had uttered twice during that meeting.

"Talking about the attempt on her life in Karachi on Oct 18, 2007, after her return from exile, Bhutto said that she knew quite well even before returning home that such a cowardly attempt would be made on her life," the writer said.

Quoting Bhutto, Mir said, "and let me tell you that the Karachi suicide bombings could not have been possible without General Musharraf's blessing."

According to him, when he had asked Bhutto why would Musharraf hurt her when she are already trying to negotiate with him a deal, she smiled and replied: "I have almost made him (Musharraf) shed his military uniform, which was like his second skin".

Musharraf had to quit as chief of the army staff on Nov 28, 2007, almost two weeks after he met Bhutto in Lahore, Mir said.

He recalled Bhutto telling him, "He (Musharraf) is under tremendous pressure to quit the presidency, shed his military uniform and go home."

Bhutto also told him "all those in the establishment who stand to lose power and influence in the post-election [2008] set up are after me, including the general. I cannot give you any more details at the moment. You can, however, name Musharraf as my assassin."

Mir believes that President Asif Ali Zardari, Bhutto's husband, had nothing to do with her assassination.

"As a matter of fact, hardly twenty-four hours before she was assassinated in the garrison town of Rawalpindi, Zardari had literally begged her on the phone from the UAE (where she was residing) to stop holding election rallies and let him take her place.

Zardari had called her after a suicide bomber was caught at the venue of the Peshawar public meeting she had addressed Dec 26, 2007," the author said.

Recalling his first encounter with the charismatic Bhutto, Mir said: "I was hardly 18 when I first met Benazir Bhutto in 1987. She was the chairperson of the PPP at that time and had returned to Pakistan a few months ago after ending her self-exile in London.

"She came to our home in Lahore (in July 1987) to condole the untimely demise of my father, Waris Mir, who was also a journalist. My interaction with Benazir Bhutto as a journalist continued till her demise in December 2007."

Analysing the current situation in Pakistan, after the assassination of Punjab governor Salman Taseer, Mir said: "The current situation is not very optimistic because of the growing talibanisation of the Pakistani society, which is evident from the brutal assassination of Taseer."

He said "the Pakistani establishment's slogan of the country being the fortress of Islam remains the central idea that the army cares about."

The spectre of religious radicalism haunts Pakistan and the Pakistanis alike," he said.
Tags : Pakistan Establishment, Return of Benazir Bhutto, Amir Mir

Tri Valley university scam: US has promised cooperation with India to resolve the issue

Washington: The US has promised cooperation with India to resolve the issue of affected Indian students of a sham US university, but said it's hard to say what is possible pending a full probe.

The issue "remains under investigation", State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters on Wednesday when asked about the status of the students affected by the closure of "sham" Tri-Valley University (TVU) in California, on charges of visa fraud.

Some 1,555 TVU students, 90 percent of them from India, mostly Andhra Pradesh, face the prospect of deportation unless they can get admission in another institution to retain their student visa status.

"We do understand that there are students who have been caught up in this," Crowley said noting the issue has been discussed with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others, and also with the Indian embassy here and the US embassy in India.

The US "will work as cooperatively as we can with the Indian government as we move ahead here", he said. "But it's hard to know exactly what is possible because the matter is still under investigation."

"We have ongoing concerns both in this case and more broadly about instances of visa fraud," Crowley said. "And we need to continue to investigate how these things happen and try to do everything we can to prevent them from occurring in the future."

Asked about assurances of help given to the Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and visiting Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, Crowley said: "I can promise you that we are going to work as cooperatively as we can, both with the government and also to help resolve these cases."

"India has made the point, and we understand it fully, that students caught up in this, the risk is that they'll lose a year of schooling and go through great inconvenience as this matter is being investigated," he said.

"We do understand that and we have pledged our cooperation. But we do recognise that there are strong indications of visa fraud, and we don't know who is involved, we don't know how they got involved, but this has to be investigated fully, and we will do that."

The US would continue to welcome Indian students to study here, Crowley said, advising them to "avail themselves of all the available information on how to do this, and alert them to the potential for fraudulent institutions that are trying to do these kinds of things".

Noting that it was "a matter of great concern" to both India and the US, Crowley pledged "to keep Indian authorities fully informed, but we have to go through this investigation first".
Tags : India News, India US Cooperation, Indian Students in US, Sham US University

Sham US university:3 more students have been freed of radio monitor tags

Washington: As the US promised cooperation with India to resolve the issue of affected Indian students of a sham US university, three more students have been freed of radio monitor tags by authorities.

With the three new removals on Wednesday, the US Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) has freed five of the 18 Indian students who were forced to wear monitor anklets following the closure of Tri Valley University (TVU) in California on charges of visa fraud.

ICE has also returned the passports of the five students who were taken to ICE by two immigration attorneys, Kalpana Peddibhotla and Manpreet Gahra, Indian officials said.

Encouraged by the positive development, 10 more students would be taken to ICE next week by these two immigration attorneys and they are very optimistic of the same positive outcome, they said.

The two immigration attorneys from the South Asian Bar Association had held free legal aid camp for the TVU students in association with the Indian consulate in San Francisco.

Meanwhile, in Washington an official said the US would work cooperatively with India to resolve the issue of affected Indian students, but said it's hard to say what is possible pending a full probe.

The issue "remains under investigation", State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters on Wednesday when asked about the status of the students affected by the closure of TVU.

Some 1,555 TVU students, 90 percent of them from India, mostly Andhra Pradesh, face the prospect of deportation unless they can get admission in another institution to retain their student visa status.

"We do understand that there are students who have been caught up in this," Crowley said, noting that the issue has been discussed with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others, and also with the Indian embassy here and the US embassy in India.

The US "will work as cooperatively as we can with the Indian Government as we move ahead here", he said. "But it's hard to know exactly what is possible because the matter is still under investigation."

"The United States would continue to welcome Indian students to study here," he said, advising them to "avail themselves of all the available information on how to do this, and alert them to the potential for fraudulent institutions that are trying to do these kinds of things".

Noting that it was "a matter of great concern" to both India and the US, Crowley pledged "to keep Indian authorities fully informed, but we have to go through this investigation first".
Tags : India US Cooperation, Indian Students of Sham US University, US Radio Monitor Tags, US Authorities

Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) enough capabilities to launch a Mumbai-type terrorist strike in Europe:US

Washington: The Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) has enough capabilities to launch a Mumbai-type terrorist strike in Europe and other parts of the world, say US officials concerned over expanding horizons of the Pakistan based terrorist outfit.

"What they did in India could theoretically be launched elsewhere. But we have not yet seen those steps occur," Michael Leiter, director of the National Counter-terrorism Centre, told a Senate panel on intelligence.

While LeT has enough capabilities to launch a Mumbai-type terrorist strike in Europe and other parts of the world, Leiter said: "What we have not yet seen is a history of them doing so."

"We are certainly concerned by some indicators we see of them expanding their horizons beyond the region. Certainly they have the capacity - it's a large organisation," he said.

"I think the additional point that I would stress is they can still be a very destabilising factor in the region," Leiter said.

"So even without striking in the US or Europe, a further attack by Lashkar-e-Taiba in India would very much hurt our national security and our counterterrorism interests in Pakistan," Leiter said in response to a question.

Turning to the terrorism situation in Pakistan, he said the US still sees the Al Qaeda in Pakistan as being at its weakest point since the Sep 11, 2001 terror attacks on the US.

"Some of that has to do with what the Pakistanis have done with the US; some of that is what they allow Americans to do," he said. "But it is critical that we have really hurt Al Qaeda core in a very meaningful way."

"That being said, there are certainly weaknesses in that cooperation at times, and in particular I think the ongoing dispute that you note about the Mumbai attackers, feeds into the tension between the two nations and can also undermine some of our counterterrorism efforts, not just at Al Qaeda but also Lashkar-e-Taiba," Leiter said.

Ten terrorists from Pakistan sneaked into Mumbai on Nov 26, 2008 and unleashed mayhem that left 166 people dead. One of the terrorists, Ajmal Amir Kasab, was arrested while the remaining nine were killed by security forces. The terror attack ended Nov 28.
Tags : LeT Capabilities, LeT Mumbai Attack, LeT Terrorist Strike in Europe, US Officials

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni had a word with Sreesanth,letting him know the limits he cannot cross

Chennai: Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has drawn a Laxman Rekha of sorts in front of the temperamental seamer Shantakumaran Sreesanth who has been involved in onfield arguments with rival players in the recent times.

When asked how he intended to control Sreesanth who on Sunday had a run-in with Australia team captain Ricky Ponting during a warm-up game in Bangalore, and exchanged a few words with Kiwi opener Brendon McCullum on Wednesday night, Dhoni said he has had a word with his fast bowler, letting him know the limits he cannot cross.

"I have told him that there are a few boundaries he should not cross and also that he should not get personal. If anyone wants to irritate, then let it be the opponents and not him.

"He was ok today, just a bit of chit-chat. There is no game where chit-chat doesn't happen, but so long as he keeps within the boundaries (limits), it's ok with me," the skipper said.
Tags : Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, temperamental seamer Shantakumaran Sreesanth, Sreesanth arguments with players, Sreesanth and Ponting

Indian team needs to replicate these performances in their opening ICC cricket World Cup:Dhoni

Chennai: Two easy wins in as many warm-up games notwithstanding, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said that the Indian team needs to replicate these performances in their opening ICC cricket World Cup group match against Bangladesh in Dhaka on Saturday.

Speaking to the media after the 117-run win against New Zealand here on Wednesday, Dhoni said that the Indian team had also achieved almost everything they wanted to as part of the preparations for the World Cup and that was the biggest gain from the two practice games.

"Against Australia, we did not show much intensity, but tonight's game being the last match before the World Cup, our intensity was up.

"Also, we have achieved whatever we wanted to and now, we have to replicate the effort in our first match against Bangladesh," he said.

Dhoni, who scored a swashbuckling 108 not out, attributed his success with the bat to his approach that called for a cautious start before going for the big shots.

"In the previous games, I was pushing myself too much to score runs off every ball that I faced and was getting out in the process, but tonight, I was determined to play myself in regardless of the situation before attempting the big shots.

"But it was Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli who gave us the platform and it helped the big shot players who followed them," he said.

Regarding the Indian bowling attack, Dhoni expressed satisfaction at the manner in which the slow bowlers, notably leggie Piyush Chawla and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin were shaping up besides the contributions by part-time left-arm spinner Yuvraj Singh.

"Chawla again bowled well and so also Ashwin. When we are playing with four bowlers, whether it is 3 (seamers)-1 (spinner) or two and two, the part-time bowler has an important role to play.

"Yuvraj, with his left-arm spin, has been contributing a lot in recent times and that gives me more options," Dhoni opined.

When asked about the batting slots with specific reference to the choice between Yuvraj Singh, Kohli and Suresh Raina for the two batting positions, Dhoni felt that it was not much a fight for a berth in the playing eleven as the slot.

"It is a slot war rather than a fight for a place in the eleven. As of now, Virat has been showing good form and scoring runs coming in at No.4 which I think is a very important slot. Our dilemma will be when Yuvraj also begins to score 50s.

"Yuvraj has a lot of experience and is a match-winner. He has been contributing with his bowling too and so has a lot of value for the team.

"If it is a choice between Raina and Kohli, then I think, Virat has an edge because he is in good form and scoring a lot of runs," Dhoni said.

Earlier, Ross Taylor, the Kiwi middle-order batsman, all but conceded that his side was outplayed by the Indians on a pitch that held no terrors.

"I think, 500-odd runs would say that the pitch was good, but when you are chasing at seven or eight runs an over, it needs a complete team effort. We need to get boundaries off good balls," he said.

Looking ahead, Taylor said that he was confident the team would put behind the big defeat and their first game against Kenya here on Sunday presents an opportunity to regain confidence besides momentum.

"We need to erase this performance. Our game against Kenya is an opportunity for us to get some momentum. We have to win three matches to qualify for the quarter-finals and I am confident that we can achieve that," said Taylor.

He complimented the Indian team for its balance and the powerful spin attack that he said would play a key role in the World Cup.
Tags : India Sports News, Indian Cricket, World Cup Warm Up Games, India in World Cup, Bangladesh in World Cup, World Cup Group Match in Dhaka

Bollywood superstar Hrithik Roshan on Star Plus's upcoming big ticket reality show "Just Dance"

New Delhi: Whether you stay in India, Britain or the US, here's your chance to put on your dancing shoes and match your steps with Bollywood superstar Hrithik Roshan on Star Plus's upcoming big ticket reality show "Just Dance".

The international auditions for the show will begin Feb 27, as the "Just Dance" team will set out to scout talent in Britain and the US, besides covering the major metros and other cities across India.

"Just Dance" aims to provide a global platform for dancers who are not just passionate about their art, but also have a taste for different dancing styles. Contestants will have a rare chance to match steps with Hrithik, while ace choreographers Farah Khan and Vaibhavi Merchant will judge the show.

"Hrithik Roshan has glorified dance through his career and has been an icon and an inspiration to many dancers across the globe. Going by the brand promise of nayi soch, Star Plus through 'Just Dance' will be providing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for aspirants to have the exceptional experience of sharing the stage with Hrithik himself," Anupam Vasudev, executive vice president (Marketing and Communication), Star Plus, said in a press statement.

Produced by SOL productions, the show will be shot across 30 episodes. It will start with auditions, and then proceed through eliminations, as the participants vie to be the apple of Hrithik's eye.

"Just Dance" is expected to go on air this summer.
Tags : Entertainment News, Television stars, Indian reality shows