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Shanti Bhushan said he was disappointed with Bihar's Lokayukta bill

New Delhi: Echoing his Team Anna colleagues Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi, lawyer Shanti Bhushan on Friday said he was "disappointed" with Bihar's Lokayukta bill as it gives primacy to the government."I am very disappointed with the Bill," Bhushan said in a statement here.Reacting to the positive reaction from Congress on the bill, the activist said he was unaware of the "deal" between the Nitish Kumar government and Congress-led central government, but cautioned the state government against public opinion."I do not know what is the deal between the two, only Nitishji can explain that. But if the government wanted to get votes, then it should have passed the Jan Lokpal Bill as the government that supports Jan Lokpal Billl would sure win the 2014 (general) elections," he said.

Bhushan said that the talks with Nitish Kumar on the bill had been positive and Hazare had also met the Bihar chief minister on the issue.

"... I know Nitishji from the time time of JP movement and have known him to be a very good person so we had expected a very strong bill but we are disappointed," he said.

"In the selection committee, four out of seven members are from Government. Similarly, for removal, a common person cannot file a complaint against a Lokayukta - this power lies with the government in this bill. Therefore, suspension and removal lies with the government. This is against UN convention," Bhushan said, in his analysis of the legislation.

He also says that the Bihar Lokayukta Act gives all control to the government as the Lokayukta has to take its permission before prosecuting an officer.

Sonia Gandhi respond in the case of missing nurse Bhanwari Devi:BJP

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday demanded that Congress chief Sonia Gandhi respond in the case of missing nurse Bhanwari Devi involving her party legislator and sacked Rajasthan minister Mahipal Maderna."I would like to request Sonia Gandhi to respond... here is a government having the majority of her own party and the way things are getting exposed day by day shows the entire government is murky," BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters here.Prasad said the stigma in the case is bringing to the tourist state of Rajasthan is very serious.

A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)on Thursday quizzed Maderna in Jodhpur in the case. The questioning is expected to continue on Friday.

The CBI today filed its status reports in the Rajasthan High Court in the case. The Jodhpur bench of the high court posted the matter for next hearing on Nov 14.

The CBI summoned Maderna for interrogation over his alleged role in Bhanwari's kidnapping.

Bhanwari Devi had gone missing from Jodhpur's Bilara area on Sep 1. On Oct 16, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot sacked Maderna from the cabinet over allegations that he had a role in her disappearance as she was blackmailing him on the basis of a CD that allegedly showed the minister and her in a compromising position.

Rohan Bopanna,Aisamul Haq Qureshi have barged into the semi-finals at the BNP Paribas Masters

Paris: India's Rohan Bopanna and his Pakistani partner Aisamul Haq Qureshi have barged into the semi-finals at the BNP Paribas Masters, upsetting second-seeded Michael Llodra of France and Serbia's Nenad Zimonzic in the super tie-break.

The Indo-Pakistani pair, seeded seventh, celebrated their maiden entry into the tour's year-ending finals in London, by rallying to win after losing the first set, 3-6, 6-4, 10-6.

Bopanna and Qureshi, last year's US Open finalists, will now play third-seeded Maxi Mirnyi of Belarus and Bahamas' Daniel Nestor who beat Austria's Oliver Marach and Alexander Peya in straight sets, 6-2, 7-6 (7).

The two other Indians in doubles play, fourth-seeded Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi were beaten in the second round, having received a bye in the first, in the super tiebreak 10-8.

Paes and Bhupathi have also made it to the London Tour year-ender as one of the top pairs.

"Kaun Banega Crorepati 5" has become the highest rated non-fiction programme

New Delhi: High on emotion, excitement and drama, popular game show "Kaun Banega Crorepati 5" has become the highest rated non-fiction programme on Indian television, registering 7.2 TVR and 8 TVR for two episodes when 'aam admi' Sushil Kumar won the Rs.5 crore jackpot.

Sushil Kumar, a lower middle-class computer operator from Bihar, won the top prize and it was telecast in two parts - on Nov 1 and on Nov 2. Both episodes bagged the maximum eyeballs, breaking the television rating (TVR) records.

According to an official statement, KBC 5, which went on air on Aug 15, reached out to 25 million people on Nov 1 and 27 million people Nov 2.

"We are ecstatic and humbled with the stupendous ratings on 'KBC'. The success of Sushil Kumar is an emphatic endorsement of the fact that the show is not just a game show, but a melting pot of knowledge and aspirations of the 'aam aadmi' (common man)," said Sneha Rajani, senior EVP and business head, Sony Entertainment Television, in a statement.

"The numbers show that KBC this season has broken all barriers of demography and geography and transformed lives of people all across our great country.

"Leading the way in KBC, we have our very own legend Amitabh Bachchan, who has changed the face of television, and our lives, in many ways than one. He has proved beyond doubt that he is the greatest superstar not just of the big screen but of the small screen too. I thank the entire team for gives us this pathbreaking season of KBC," she added.

The show's philosophy 'Koi insaan chhota nahi hota' has become true as the contestants from the heartland of the country came, played and took home big prizes.

After Sushil Kumar, another success story was written by Anil Kumar Sinha from Patna, who won Rs.1 crore.

Before these two, Amrita Singh from Gwalior won Rs.50 lakh and the show brought a ray of light in the life of Aparna Malikar, a 27-year-old widow from Vara-Kawatha in Yavatmal district, when she sat on the hot seat and won Rs.640,000 and an additional Rs.50,000 from Bachchan himself.

I think being waxed at Madame Tussaud's is one of the biggest honours: Kareena Kapoor

Mumbai: Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor, who has been immortalised in wax at Madame Tussaud's, says it is an honour to be in the league of Indian luminaries like Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Sachin Tendulkar.

"I think being waxed at Madame Tussaud's is one of the biggest honours I have ever received. In my whole career, I think to be given this particular honour is very rare," said Kareena.

The 31-year-old, who made her debut with "Refugee" in 2000, gives credit to her fans.

"It is obviously because of you guys and all my fans who have made it possible and made my dream come true," she said.

Kareena's wax statue, which cost 150,000 pounds, was unveiled at the museum in Blackpool on Oct 27, a day after the release of her latest film "RA.One".

"I never really thought that I would be waxed or that my statue would stand besides that of famous personalities in museum. Whether it is Mr. Bachchan, or Shah Rukh or Sachin Tendulkar.... really never thought I would be standing next to them. But thank you guys for making my dream possible," she said.

Currently, the actress has her kitty full with projects like "Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu", "Agent Vinod", Reema Kagti's untitled project and Madhur Bhandarkar's "Heroine".

Actress Genelia D'souza has rubbished reports that she has been banned

New Delhi: Actress Genelia D'souza has rubbished reports that she has been banned from the southern film industry due to her non-cooperative attitude.

A media report said that the Movie Artistes' Association (MAA) of Andhra Pradesh announced that the actress, who has been working in the southern industry for the past eight years, hasn't sought a lifetime membership with the association despite repeated reminders from the association.

Reacting to this on Twitter page, she wrote: "It's not nice when people make u a target only because ur strong enough to take it. With no bans or notices issued against me, there's no reason why there should be this hoopla created."

"I have been travelling constantly over d last few months n hence have informed some1 from my production 2 hand over all d papers w d required amount. When I signed up 4d south Indian association 4 movie artists I was promised that it would cover all 4 industries n that is also what d body states (sic)," she further posted.

Down south, the actress featured in movies like "Boys", "Bommarillu", "Santosh Subramaniam" and in Bollywood she made it big with "Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na". After that she did Hindi films like "Life Partner", "Chance Pe Dance" and "Force".

The 24-year-old hopes people would understand her side of the story.

"I hope people would understand the truth and stop making this an unnecessary battle. I'm very happy n proud that I belong to five industries and hope people understand that," she tweeted.

Amitabh Bachchan says it is hard to say goodbye to "Kaun Banega Crorepati 5"

New Delhi: With the finale of "Kaun Banega Crorepati 5" being aired next week, Amitabh Bachchan says it is hard to say goodbye to the popular game show.

"The recording for the finale for KBC took place today (Thursday) and it took an entire day to do so. It has been an exceptional season this year and when one leaves such environs there is bound to be a deep feeling of not wanting to depart. All the little little things that made up these extraordinary days on set was of a very distinguished quality," Big B posted on his blog

The last episode of season five, which started on Aug 15, will be aired on Nov 17.

"A routine had been set, people worked to maintain a sense of togetherness in all these days. And today one had to say our 'bye byes'. Tough when you have to do this, but I guess you must bury the old so that the new prosper. The new will indeed take over, and should. But in a most deserving and disciplined manner," he added.

The 69-year-old had made his small screen debut with "Kaun Banega Crorepati" way back in 2000. And since then, the megastar has hosted four out of five seasons. The third edition was hosted by Shah Rukh Khan .

The first three seasons were aired on STAR Plus, but from the fourth season it was telecast on Sony with Amitabh as the host.

With the underlying belief that 'Koi insaan chhota nahi hota', this season saw people from India's interiors participating. Of them, Sushil Kumar won Rs.5 crore and Anil Sinha Rs.1 crore but there were many others who won large sums of money, fulfilling their lifelong dreams.

Thanks to all this and Amitabh's mass connect, the show managed to generate the highest rating of a non-fiction show by registering 7.2 TVR (television rating) and 8 TVR for two episodes when 'aam admi' Sushil Kumar won the Rs.5 crore jackpot.

It was telecast in two parts and reached out to 25 million people on Nov 1 and 27 million people on Nov 2 respectively.


RBI will receive advance income tax in Mumbai in a bid to give tax payers relief

Mumbai:The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and 926 computerised branches of public and private sector banks will receive advance income tax in Mumbai in a bid to give tax payers relief from long queues and inconvenience faced in filing returns.

"These arrangements have been made for the convenience of the income tax assessees," the RBI said in a statement.

Of the 926 bank branches, 862 branches will be of public sector banks. Among the private sector banks, the maximum number is of HDFC Bank - 35 branches. Other private sector bank branches include 10 branches of ICICI Bank and 19 of Axis Bank.

RBI has advised income tax assessees to take advantage of these standing arrangements made for their convenience.

"Long queues and inconveniences can be avoided at the Reserve Bank of India counters if the assessees in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai utilise the services being made available at various designated branches of banks and deposit their income tax dues well in advance of the last date," the RBI said.

Terrorism does not spoil relations between India & Pakistan: Manmohan Singh

Maldives: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today conveyed to his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani that both countries have an obligation to ensure that terrorism does not spoil relations between them and pressed for justice for 26/11 victims.

"Terrorism is a perennial concern. We have an obligation to ensure that it does not spoil relations between the two countries," Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai told reporters about the message Manmohan conveyed to Gilani during talks at Shangri La hotel here.

Manmohan Singh told Gilani that "it is imperative to bring the perpetrators of 26/11 attacks to justice", said Mathai.

"The two leaders agreed that terrorism posed the most serious threat to peace and stability in the region," said Mathai.

Manmohan Singh and Gilani met on the sidelines of the 17th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit here. The delegation level talks lasted about 30 minutes followed by the two leaders meeting one-on-one for another 30 minutes.

Ajmal Amir Kasab is a terrorist ,should be sent to the gallows:Rehman Malik

Maldives: Ajmal Amir Kasab, convicted by an Indian court for the 26/11 Mumbai attack, is a terrorist and should be sent to the gallows, Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik said here today after delegation level talks between the two countries.

He said the Pakistani judicial commission looking into the terror attack would be coming to India soon and would positively impact the trial of those accused in the Mumbai terror attack.

"The judicial commission has a limited mandate. They'll be in India any time after we hear from the Indian side. They will submit the report after the visit which is going to give a positive impact to the judicial process (of 26/11)," Malik told reporters at the Shangri La Hotel.

Talks between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan's Yousuf Raza Gilani were preceded by delegation level discussions between the two countries.

The judicial commission report, Malik said, would help plug the legal lacuna and move forward the trial of those accused in the Nov 26 Mumbai terror attack.

India had last week welcomed Pakistan's decision to send a judicial commission to interview witnesses connected with the 26/11 terror probe.

"We look forward to the visit of the judicial commission," Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai had told reporters Nov 5.

Pakistan's High Commissioner Shahid Malik has conveyed to Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram that the Pakistani government would soon be sending the commission to take forward the process of bringing to justice the perpetrators and conspirators of the Mumbai carnage.

The commission is expected to record the statements of Mumbai Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate R.V. Sawant Waghule and investigating officer Ramesh Mahale, who had recorded the confessional statement of Ajmal Amir Kasab, convicted of the terror attack.

Islamabad has contended that the charges against seven LeT militants, including its 'operation commander' Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, who are currently lodged in a Pakistani jail, were based on Kasab's statement and hence the magistrate and the investigating officer's statements were necessary to furnish before the anti-terror court.

At least 166 people were killed in the 26/11 attack by 10 Pakistan-based terrorists in Mumbai.

SAARC summit:Manmohan Singh met his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani

Maldives: Amid a shrinking trust deficit but hoping to build on positive progress in bilateral ties, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani in this picturesque island today.

The two leaders are expected to discuss all issues in a bid to further ease ties between their countries. The delegation level talks, on the margins of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit, will be followed by one-on-one discussions between the two prime ministers -- their first official talks since they met in Thimphu in April last year. They had also met in Mohali March 30 during the India-Pakistan cricket World Cup semi-final.

While the Indian delegation includes External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and India's High Commissioner to Pakistan Sharat Sabharwal, the Pakistan side comprises its External Affairs Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Pakistan's High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik and other senior officials.

The talks were preceded by a breakfast meeting between the two foreign secretaries, India's Ranjan Mathai and Pakistan's Salman Bashir.

The talks at the Shangri La Hotel are expected to last 90 minutes.

Before sitting down, the two leaders came outside the meeting room to pose for photographs.

The discussions take place amid improving atmospherics in bilateral ties triggered by positive gestures like Pakistan's quick action in releasing an Indian military helicopter and crew within hours after it strayed into Pakistani territory last month.

India is expected to press for justice for the victims of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack but the focus will be on carrying forward the peace process, which has been given fresh momentum with Pakistan according its eastern neighbour most favoured nation (MFN) status.

"It's not a lost cause (26/11) as far as we are concerned," an official source said.

Ranbaxy Laboratories reported a net loss of Rs. 464.6 crore

Mumbai:Pharmaceutical major Ranbaxy Laboratories today reported a net loss of Rs. 464.6 crore for the quarter that ended on Sep 30. The company had posted a profit of Rs. 308 crore in the like period of 2010-11.

The company said in a statement here: "Profitability below earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) line was impacted owing to the long dated derivative transactions entered into by the company in earlier years."

The pharma major's sales for the quarter under review grew by 8 percent at Rs.2,028 crore from Rs.1,880.9 crore in the corresponding quarter of the previous fiscal.

"Emerging markets contributed $262 million, accounting for 60 percent of total sales. Developed markets recorded $145 million of sales and contributed 33 percent to total sales for the company," the statement said.

In India, the company reported a sales growth of 6.46 percent at Rs.515.7 crore from Rs.484.4 crore in the like period of 2010-11.

"Consumer Healthcare contributed Rs.86.6 crore, while the acute therapy part of business was impacted by industry-wide slow-down in the anti-infective space," the statement added.

The company's chief Executive and Managing Director Arun Sawhney said in a statement: "Ranbaxy's focus on long term improvement of its base business and margins has begun to reflect in the company's performance."

The company's scrip at the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) closed at Rs.475.40 -- down 4.31 percent.

Sachin Tendulkar fell 24 runs short of his 100th international century

New Delhi: Though Sachin Tendulkar fell 24 runs short of his 100th international century, he made sure that India won the first cricket Test against the West Indies to go one up in the three-match series here today.

India reached the 276-run target for the loss of five wickets, Yuvraj Singh falling when the scores were tied, 32 minutes after the lunch break on the fourth day with V.V.S. Laxman remaining unbeaten on 58. Tendulkar en route to his 76 also crossed 15,000 runs in Test cricket.

It was India's first win after six Tests, and their first against the West Indies at the Kotla.

India also equalled the second successful run chase at home. Interestingly, the visitors had chased an identical target successfully here in 1987.

The young West Indies team gave an inspired performance and fought till the end, skipper Darren Sammy castling Yuvraj (18) when he was looking to clip the winning run. It was left to Laxman to complete the formality in the next over.

Though the match finished with a day and half to spare, there was enough drama with fortunes fluctuating. The West Indies, riding on a fine 111 by their senior pro Shivnarine Chanderpaul, entertained hopes of a victory when they bowled India out for 209 after scoring 304 in the first innings.

India had gone into the match with a fresh bowling attack. Left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, who was playing a Test after a year, and debutant Ravichandran Aswhin. The two youngsters did not disappoint.

Ojha was the pick of the bowler in the first innings, getting his maiden five-wicket haul (6/72), while Ashwin turned the match India's way on the third day when he picked up his maiden fifer (six for 47) that restricted the West Indies to 180 in the second innings to leave the hosts a competitive target.

Ashwin, 25-year-old engineering graduate, finished with a match haul of nine for 128, the second best by an Indian debutant after Narendra Hirwani's 16 for 136 also against the West Indies in 1988. The tall Chennai lad was rightly adjudged the man of the match.

Virender Sehwag, who scored identical 55 in both the innings, gave India's chase the right impetus.

Resuming at the overnight 152 for two, India had an early setback, losing Rahul Dravid in the fourth over. He was bowled by a superb Fidel Edwards delivery for 31, the ball pitching just outside the offstump to lure the batsman into a firm drive and beat him with the late swing.

Tendulkar and Laxman then scored briskly for their 71-run stand that came up in 100 balls and that more or less settled the issue.

Tendulkar, resuming at overnight 33, took 24 balls to get his fifty and after that every run he scored was wildly cheered by the crowd. Laxman was quick off the blocks and hit five fours as he got to his 30 in just 44 balls.

Tendulkar also stepped on the accelerator once he got to his 62nd Test fifty. He hit Ravi Rampaul for a four, a tuck off the pad, taking India past the 200-run mark, and a ball later he drove the pacer for a classic boundary through extra cover.

The cheering Kotla suddenly plunged into silence as Tendulkar missed connecting a pull as young leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo pitched short and was adjudged leg-before. But by then India were just 43 runs away from a win.

Yuvraj and Laxman then added 42 runs to see the side home.

The second Test starts in Kolkata from Nov 14.

Win against the West Indies was hard :Mahendra Singh Dhoni

New Delhi: India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni today said the win against the West Indies in the first cricket Test was hard-earned because it was tough scoring runs on the low and slow Ferozeshah Kotla wicket.

"It was not an easy wicket to score. You had to be aware of the ball that kept low," said Dhoni after India won by five wickets and took a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

It was India's maiden victory at the Kotla against the West Indies. India also equalled the second successful run chase at home.

Dhoni said the batsmen didn't play well in the first innings and hoped the team will put up a better show in the remaining two Test matches.

A spirited display by the young West Indies bowling attack skittled out India for 209 runs in the first innings and gave the visitors a surprise 95-run.

"That was a big lead. We all felt we did not bat the way we should in the first innings, we said we will have to make it up," said Dhoni.

Dhoni also lauded his spin duo Pragyan Ojha and debutant Ravichandran Ashwin, both coming up with fifers. Left-arm spinner Ojha, playing a Test match for India after a year, picked up 6/72 in the first innings and returned with a match haul of seven for 109.

However, it was debutant off-spinner Ashwin, who completely turned the match in India's favour on the third day when he picked up six for 47 to restrict the West Indies for 180 in the second innings that set the hosts a competitive target of 276.

Ashwin, 25-year-old engineering graduate from Chennai, finished with a match haul of nine for 128, the second best by an Indian debutant after Narendra Hirwani's 16 for 136 also against the West Indies in 1988.

"Ojha bowled well in the first innings, Ashwin has got a few variations and he was supported by the other bowlers. We got a good start in both innings, and the middle order did well in the second," he said.

Ashwin, who was adjudged Man of the Match, said he expected to get a few wickets but not so many.

"I expected to get a few wickets but not so many. It is a very happy feeling to go into my wedding with such a performance, the only thing was the variation in bounce, if you were slower through the air, you would be slower off the pitch. So I bowled a bit quicker in the second innings. It helped because Ojha was bowling so many maidens from the other end. The batsman did not have the fear of being caught bat-pad," he said.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni requested the media not to put pressure on Sachin Tendulkar

New Delhi: India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni today requested the media not to put pressure on Sachin Tendulkar for scoring his 100th international century and said the milestone was round the corner.

Tendulkar fell 24 short of his 100th international century but his fine 76 gave India a five-wicket win over the West Indies in the first cricket Test at the Ferozeshah Kotla here.

"We are not under pressure as a team. The media is putting pressure on him. Let him score his hundred and he will do that at some point of time. He is pretty good at doing that (scoring centuries). Let him score the hundred without pressure," Dhoni told reporters at the post-match press conference.

Dhoni said expectations from Tendulkar are as high as "Everest" and that the batting maestro was very much aware of it.

"If you are talking about the gentleman, expectations from him by the people have been as high as (Mount) Everest. Since his second year in international cricket he has been the star. When he scores 50, people say he had not scored runs and it has been like that each and every match," Dhoni said.

"What we have seen is that any individual, when he reaches a milestone, he may take a little bit longer time than usual. But I think it's around the corner. We have to wait and see," he added.

West Indies captain Darren Sammy said he would be happy to see Tendulkar achieving the milestone during next month's tour to Australia but not against his side.

"As I have said, we admire Tendulkar, he is a great cricketer. But I would want Tendulkar to score his hundred against Australia. I would want to watch it and enjoy and not when playing against him," he said.

Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor is set to foray into television

New Delhi: Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor is set to foray into television with the Indian remake of hit US TV series "24".

The actor is said to have inked Rs.100-crore deal with 20th Century Fox to remake the TV series, originally starring Keifer Sutherland as the protagonist. Anil will not only produce it, he will also take up the lead role as Jack Bauer.

"It will be a great honour for me to play Jack Bauer. Kiefer has created an iconic character which has inspired me to bring the franchise to India. This will be my first foray to Indian television and I look forward to duplicating the standard of excellence Fox has so successfully created," Anil said in a statement.

Anil had made an appearance in the US TV series, where he played the middle-eastern leader Omar Hassan, who comes to the US on a peace keeping mission.

"Anil's passion for the series goes back to his time as a guest star on the show, and we're excited to enable him to realize his vision of creating a new version of the series for his native India. We think this could pave the way for many more iterations of this brilliant series in other international territories down the road," said Marion Edwards, president, Fox International.

Yash Chopra is immensely impressed with actor Hrithik Roshan

New Delhi: Veteran filmmaker Yash Chopra is immensely impressed with actor Hrithik Roshan and more so after watching the trailer of the "Agneepath" remake.

"Among all the (recent) movie trailers that Yash Chopra has seen he has loved Hrithik's the most! He feels 'Agneepath' has got a mass element to it," said a source.

After watching the "Agneepath" trailer, Chopra is more convinced of Hrithik's range as an actor.

Karan Johar, who is producing the remake of his father, Yash Johar's 1990 blockbuster, said: "Yes, Yash uncle loved the promo. He loves me and is always super excited about everything I do - just like papa used to be. Yash uncle is a great source of encouragement and big support system to me."

Australian student's visa will now require a confirmed admission in a course

New Delhi: Getting an Australian student's visa will now require a confirmed admission in a course there, the Australian high commission here said today.

Changes in students' visa laws in Australia now compel those applying for it to produce a proof of enrolment in a course in Australia first. A statement from the high commission said the change has been made effective from Saturday.

From Nov 5, student visa applicants will need to "include a confirmation of enrolment (COE), issued by their intended education provider, as part of their student visa applications", the statement said.

"This will improve processing time as students will no longer need to wait for a Pre-Visa Assessment (PVA) letter to be issued by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) before arranging their COE," it added.

Australian High Commissioner to India Peter Varghese welcomed the changes in students' visa regime made by his country's government.

Stating that he "strongly supports" the changes, he said it would make Australia a more attractive destination for "high quality" students.

"Australia is a quality education destination and these changes will strengthen that reputation. We look forward to welcoming high quality students from India. Australia is a great place to study and I encourage all Indian students to consider the many benefits of studying in Australia," Varghese said.

A new 'genuine temporary entrant' (GTE) criterion was also implemented on nNov 5.

"This criterion will assist Australia to ensure that students are intending a temporary stay only for the purposes of their education. GTE will be assessed by interview in most cases and will consider the student's background and the value of the course to their future," the statement said.

Changes are also being made to reduce the financial requirements for Assessment Level 3 and 4 students.

"A reduction in the period of funds to be shown upfront with a visa application should make obtaining a student visa to Australia more competitive with other popular study destinations," the statement added.


Manmohan Singh pushed for liberalisation of trade in the South Asia

New Delhi: Ahead of his visit to the Maldives for the SAARC summit, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today pushed for liberalisation of trade in the region and said he looked forward to bilateral discussions with other South Asian leaders, including his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani."At the SAARC summit, we expect to move forward the procees of liberalisation of trade under the South Asian free trade area agreement," Manmohan Singh said in a departure statement before he leaves for the Maldives."We also expect to sign agreements on implementation of regional standards, multilateral arrangements on recognition of conformity assessment, rapid response to natural disasters, and establishment of a SAARC seed bank," Manmohan Singh said.

The prime minister stressed that India will work "to promote regional integration as well as the development of a South Asian identity at the forthcoming summit".

"On the margins of the SAARC summit, I look forward to the opportunity of holding bilateral discussions with other South Asian heads of state and government who will be participating in the summit," Manmohan Singh said.

Manmohan Singh will hold bilateral talks with the leaders of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Afghanistan, the Maldives and Bhutan on the margins of the two-day SAARC summit that kicks of Addu Atoll in the Maldives on Thursday. But all eyes will be on the talks Manmohan Singh will have with Gilani, which is likely to take place on Thursday.

Manmohan Singh will hold bilateral talks with Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed on Saturday before he returns to New Delhi after a four-day visit to the Indian Ocean island.

"I look forward to holding in-depth discussions with President Nasheed on all aspects of our relations and will have the honour of addressing the People's Majlis in Male. We also expect to conclude concrete agreements to enhance our cooperation in both traditional and new areas," Manmohan Singh said.

The 17th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit has an overarching theme of "Building Bridges" and is expected to give fresh momentum to economic integration of South Asia, home to over one-fifth of the world's population.

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon and Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai will be part of the prime minister's delegation for the two-day SAARC summit.

Delhi High Court issued notice to the CBI on the bail application of DMK MP Kanimozhi

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court today issued notice to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on the bail application of DMK MP Kanimozhi and four others accused in the 2G scam case, seeking its reply by Dec 1.

Justice V.K. Shali issued notice to the CBI after hearing arguments on behalf of Kanimozhi, Kalaignar TV chief Sharad Kumar, Cineyug Films founder Karim Morani, and Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd directors Asif Balwa and Rajiv B. Agarwal.

Meanwhile, the court has also directed the Tihar Jail superintendent to submit a short medical report of Morani who approached court seeking bail on health grounds.

The three moved the High Court with their bail plea after a CBI special court turned down their petition.

The CBI special court last week denied bail to Kanimozhi and seven others, saying the court will begin trial in the 2G scam from Nov 11.

Others whose bail applications were dismissed included Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa, former telecommunications minister A. Raja's then private secretary R.K. Chandolia, Morani, and former telecom secretary Siddhartha Behura.

Kanimozhi has been denied bail four times.

10 crude bombs found from a railway bridge in southern Assam

Assam: A railway official on Tuesday averted a possible tragedy when he found 10 crude bombs along with blasting devices from a railway bridge on the Lumding-Badarpur hill section in southern Assam, an official said.

"The 10 powerful bombs along with blasting devices were found at a railway bridge between Mahur and Phiding stations on Lumding-Badarpur hill section under the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR)," NFR spokesman Nilanjan Deb told reporters.

"The bombs were found by railway trackman K.R. Das during a normal patrolling duty. Immediately, several trains scheduled to ply through this section were stopped, averting possible disasters," he said.

Deb said Army soldiers, railway protection force personnel and railway officials have reached the site, 400 km south of Assam's main city Guwahati.

The bombs were removed and defused by the security personnel.

The security forces have begun a search operation to nab the culprits.

After a thorough search for a few hours, the railway track was declared fit for train movement and normal train services resumed in the afternoon, the spokesman said.

NFR has been running trains between Tripura, Manipur, Mizoram and southern Assam and the rest of India via Guwahati through this vital hill section.

Final journey of one of India's oldest performing singers Bhupen Hazarika began

Guwahati: The final journey of one of India's oldest performing singers Bhupen Hazarika began today morning with a sea of humanity following the cortege from the historic Judges Field to the funeral site at the Gauhati University campus.

It was a tearful last journey of the 85-year-old bard whose baritone voice enthralled and mesmerised millions of fans.

Bhupen Hazarika's 40-year-old companion and filmmaker Kalpana Lajmi and the legend's 60-year-old son Tej Bhupen Hazarika accompanied the floral-bedecked hearse to the funeral site.

Thousands of people waited impatiently all along the 15-km route from the Judges Field to the Gauhati University campus with many chanting slogans like "Bhupen Hazarika amar raho" while others showered petals and flowers.

More than 500,000 people gathered at the funeral site with Governor J.B. Patnaik and Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi present. Also present was the leader of the opposition in parliament and senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushma Swaraj, besides a galaxy of celebrities and eminent citizens.

A 21 gun salute by the Assam Police would be given to the singer, lyricist, composer and filmmaker.

Son Tej would perform the last rites.

Hazarika died on Saturday at a Mumbai hospital following a prolonged illness.

Estranged wife Priyamvada Patel, 82, who stays in Toronto, Canada, said she was saddened by Hazarika's death.

"I am saddened to hear about the death of my son's father. I am down with some knee ailment and so could not come," Priyamvada said over the phone.

"I spoke to him on the phone some 10 years ago when he was unwell," she said.

The last rites were to be performed on Tuesday, but the government had to postpone the ceremony to today following a massive demand from the public who came out in their thousands to pay their last respects to the late singer whose coffin was placed at the Judges Field since Sunday night.

Hazarika began singing when he was just 10 years old and churned out hits after hits numbering more than 1,500 songs until his health failed about two years ago. At 13, he sang about building a new Assam and a new India -- the lyrics were his own, very powerful and contemporary.

The Dadasaheb Phalke award winner Hazarika was born in 1926 in one of Assam's remotest corners -- Sadiya in the eastern district of Tinsukia. He grew up in the northern town of Tezpur and later went to Banaras Hindu University and completed his graduation and post-graduation in Political Science.

He studied with an aim to pursue a career as a lawyer in Assam, but destiny made him a mass-based singer.

In 1948, Hazarika went to the US on a scholarship to study Mass Communication at Columbia University, New York.

It was there that he got soaked in American folk music and later on that influenced him to bring in the folk elements in his songs, although he mostly sang the folk tunes of Assam.

Always adorned with the trademark Nepali cap, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award winner's passion for music was unrelenting.

Manmohan Singh left for a four-day visit to attend the 17th SAARC summit

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh left today for a four-day visit to attend the 17th SAARC summit in the Maldives where he will push for liberalisation of trade in the region and also meet his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani.

He will hold bilateral talks with South Asian leaders on the margins of the eight-nation South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit.

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon and Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai will be part of the prime minister's delegation for the two-day SAARC summit that kicks off in the picturesque Addu Island on Thursday afternoon.

The 17th SAARC summit is themed "Building Bridges" and will culminate in a joint declaration on Friday.

Four agreements, which includes a pact on creating a seed bank to boost agricultural productivity and another pact on setting up a rapid action force to combat natural disasters like cyclone and quakes, are expected to be signed at the summit.

Ahead of his visit to the Maldives for the SAARC summit, Manmohan Singh pushed for liberalisation of trade in the region and said he looked forward to bilateral discussions with South Asian leaders.

"At the SAARC summit, we expect to move forward the procees of liberalisation of trade under the South Asian free trade area agreement," Manmohan Singh said in a departure statement.

"We also expect to sign agreements on implementation of regional standards, multilateral arrangements on recognition of conformity assessment, rapid response to natural disasters, and establishment of a SAARC seed bank," Manmohan Singh said.

The prime minister stressed that India will work "to promote regional integration as well as the development of a South Asian identity at the forthcoming summit".

"On the margins of the SAARC summit, I look forward to the opportunity of holding bilateral discussions with other South Asian heads of state and government who will be participating in the summit," Manmohan Singh said.

Manmohan Singh will hold bilateral talks with the leaders of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Afghanistan, the Maldives and Bhutan on the margins of the two-day SAARC summit.

But all eyes will be on the talks Manmohan Singh will have with Gilani, which is likely to take place on Thursday.

This will be the first official talks between the leaders of India and Pakistan since they last met in Thimphu last year on the margins of the SAARC summit and the first since the two countries resumed their stalled peace process early this year. Since then, much water has flowed down the bridge, with Islamabad making some positive gestures recently that have struck a chord with New Delhi. Gilani and Singh had met in Mohali on March 30 during the India-Pakistan Cricket World Cup semi-final.

Manmohan Singh will hold bilateral talks with Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed on Saturday before he returns to New Delhi after a four-day visit to the Indian Ocean island.

Reliance Infra, part of the Reliance Group reported a rise of 44 percent

Mumbai: Reliance Infra, part of the Reliance Group, today reported a rise of 44 percent in its operating income for the quarter ended on Sep 30, 2011 at Rs.5,729 crore from Rs.4,043 crore in the corresponding quarter of 2010-11.

Reliance Infra, one of the leading players in the infrastructure development and utility space, is working in areas like roads, metro rail, power transmission and distribution.

Revenues from its engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) business grew by a whooping 211 percent to Rs.2,212 crore in the quarter, the company said in a regulatory filing.

The company's EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation) also shot up by 40 percent in the quarter under review to Rs.828 crore.

Of the 11 road projects it was developing, four were already operational and another six would start generating revenue sometime in 2011-12, the company said.

The Hosur-Krishnagiri (Tamil Nadu) six-laning project, which is a part of Bangalore-Chennai golden quadrilateral, would also become operational in 2012-13.

"On track to start 10 road projects within FY12," the company said in a statement.

For its power-distribution business, the company said that it was awarded distribution and transmission by Maharastra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) for 25 years and has also approved the recovery of regulatory assets worth Rs.2,316 crore from consumers.

For its electricity distribution business in the national capital, the company said that Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) has approved tariff hike of 22 percent and introduction of quarterly fuel price adjustment surcharge as of Oct 1, 2011.

The company added that it signed retail area deals for 30,000 sq ft under its Reliance Metro Airport link in the national capital.

On a consolidated basis, the company's net worth was valued at Rs 24,419 crore ($5 billion) as on Sep 30.

Briton Max Chilton will test for Sahara Force India at the young driver test

Abu Dhabi: Sahara Force India today announced that Briton Max Chilton will test for them at the young driver test scheduled here after the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The test takes place at the Yas Marina circuit on Nov 15 to 17, while the race will be held on Nov 11-13.

Chilton, fresh from his second season in GP2, will drive for Force India after having already completed a straight-line aerodynamic test with the Silverstone-based outfit.

Force India team principal Vijay Mallya, who is expected to announce the drivers' line-up for the 2012 season before the Abu Dhabi race, said he will be closely monitoring the young driver test before deciding on the drivers.

"We all know how difficult it is to break into Formula 1, so the young driver test is a great initiative allowing all the teams to evaluate young talent. It gives the drivers a chance to learn more about how a Formula 1 team operates away from the pressures of a race weekend and get valuable experience under their belt. I will keep a close eye on the progress of the test next week," said Mallya in a statement.

The team's current permanent drivers are Germany's Adrian Sutil and Scotland's Paul di Resta with Nico Hulkenberg of Germany being the reserve.

Sachin Tendulkar,becoming the first cricketer to cross 15,000 Test runs

New Delhi: Batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar reached another monumental milestone today, becoming the first cricketer to cross 15,000 Test runs.

Tendulkar reached the figure during India's second innings against West Indies here today.

He got to the mark when he pushed leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo for a single to move from 27 to 28 and raised his bat to appreciate the cheers from the Kotla crowd.

Tendulkar, who is also on the verge of 100 international centuries, achieved the feat in his 182nd match. The 38-year-old is the world's most prolific batsman in Tests and ODIs.

He has 51 Test centuries and 48 ODI hundreds.

Ranbir Kapoor starrer "Rockstar" ,Censor Board has clamped down on visual portions

Mumbai: The Censor Board has clamped down on certain audio and visual portions of the much-awaited Ranbir Kapoor starrer "Rockstar" that opens next week.

One would think Imtiaz Ali's musical odyssey about a small-town boy's journey from anonymity to superstardom on the wings of love would have flown through the censors, but it was not to be.

It was only after Ali and the film's producers agreed to make the required deletions that the Censor Board passed the film with a UA certificate.

The changes ordered by the board included the muting (beeping no longer allowed) of the words "sex" and "bastard" in the soundtrack -- words that commonly occur in our films and would have been allowed if the "Rockstar" team had agreed to an 'A' certificate.

Likewise, a Hindi expletive which apparently Ranbir Kapoor's character uses whenever he's emotionally aggravated, has been muted wherever it occurs.

Again, the word, common in the films of Anurag Kashyap, Vishal Bhardwaj and other purveyors of cowbelt lingo, was not permissible in a film passed for kids with parental guidance.

Most notable of all is the board's instruction to do away with a reference to Tibetan freedom from Chinese dominion. Apparently, Imtiaz Ali has been asked to do away with a flag in the film that reads 'Free Tibet'.

"'Rockstar' has been given two options regarding the flag that reads 'Free Tibet' -- either they can delete or blur the visual of the flag," a source said.

"Not that there are too many Bollywood films that would dare to take a stand on a sensitive political issue like Tibet. 'Rockstar' does. The Censor Board has asked for its removal," the source added.

The CEO of the Censor Board, Pankaja Thakur, has confirmed the alterations in the film.

"Shakal Pe Mat Jaa" will be premiered at the South Asian International Film Festival

New Delhi: Debutant director Shubh Mukherjee says he is thrilled to learn that his "Shakal Pe Mat Jaa" will be premiered at the South Asian International Film Festival (SAIFF) in New York from Nov 9-15.

"We are absolutely thrilled to have our film as a part of such a prestigious event. It feels great that all the hard work is finally paying off. (Actor) Saurabh Shukla and I will be there for the premiere and we are really looking forward to it," Mukherjee, who is also acting in the film, said in a statement.

The film, which is maiden production venture of actress Hrishitaa Bhatt, tells the story of four youngsters who are caught as suspects at the Delhi international airport.

Apart from Saurabh, the cast also includes Raghubir Yadav, Aamna Sharif and Umang Jain and "Shakal Pe Mat Jaa" will have its theatrical releaes on Nov 18.

SAIFF earlier screened films like "That Girl In Yellow Boots" and "Paan Singh Tomar".

Vinay Pathak,Neha Dhupia turn to perform live during the music launch

New Delhi: After Shah Rukh Khan and Vidya Balan, it's Vinay Pathak and Neha Dhupia's turn to perform live during the music launch of their forthcoming film "Pappu Can't Dance Saala".

The music will be launched on Nov 10 and will see performances by Vinay and Neha along with composer Malhar and singers Manasi Scott, Sangeet Haldipur and Shilpa Rao.

Produced by R. Vision India Ltd, "Pappu Can't Dance Saala" is the story of a common man from Benaras who falls in love in Mumbai and with Mumbai. His experience and interaction with other characters forms the rest of the story.

Directed by Saurabh Shukla, the film also stars Rajat Kapoor and will hit the screens on Dec 16.

Kim Sharma has put an official end to her Bollywood career

Mumbai: Kim Sharma, whose acting career never took off, has put an official end to her Bollywood career and says that "Loot" is her last movie.

"I am very happily married. Luckily and happily, 'Loot' is the last of my terrible film career," said the actress who recently married Kenya-based businessman Ali Punjani.

Kim now divides her time in three cities - Mombasa in Kenya, Dubai and Mumbai - and sees no reason to cling to a non-existent Bollywood career.

"So it's farewell to Bollywood. My message to Bollywood, see you later, Beautiful," said the actress who is paired with singer Mika in "Loot" -- in not a major or noticeable role.

Kim started her career in Aditya Chopra's "Mohabbatein". The film clicked, but the careers of all the newcomers in the film - Kim, Shamita, Preeti Jhangiani, Uday Chopra, Jimmy Shergill and Jugal Hansraj - failed to take off.

Bollywood's desi boy Akshay Kumar is more comfortable talking in Hindi

New Delhi: Unlike other Bollywood celebrities, who prefer to converse in English, Bollywood's desi boy Akshay Kumar says he is more comfortable talking in Hindi.

"After all, we're Hindi film stars. We earn our bread and butter from Bollywood. I'm uncomfortable talking in English..I've always been," Akshay said in a statement.

"I've realized my fans love the dialogues I say on screen. And those are in Hindi. Why speak in a language your are not comfortable with? After all success is about being comfortable in your own skin and I'm finally doing that," he added.

The actor, who is now gearing up for the release of his new film "Desi Boyz" with John Abraham, calls himself "desi" and says he is proud of his roots.

"I'm proud to be desi. I'm a desi boy from Delhi and I'm very proud of who I am and I am proud of my roots. My fans love me for being being humble and hard working. They love me for speaking to them in their language; they connect with me because I remind them of their roots," he said.

72-year-old Swami Agnivesh in "Bigg Boss" season 5

New Delhi: What would a saffron-clad, social activist, Arya Samaj leader do in the big, bad world of "Bigg Boss"? "Relax," says Swami Agnivesh, who is geared up to reach out to India's youth with issues like casteism, alcoholism and corruption through his entry into the controversial reality show today.

The 72-year-old is "excited" about entering the secluded Karjat house, where 11 young, celebrity contestants are already fighting it out for survival. The inhabitants have no connect with the outside world and are under 24x7 camera surveillance.

"I have seen three to four episodes of the show, and it is quite exciting. There are a lot of young people in it. My supporters told me if I have a message for the youth, I must go to the show, maintain my integrity and spread the social messages I want to through the show," Agnivesh told the media over phone from Mumbai, sounding upbeat.

Agnivesh promises viewers will get to see his "lighter" side.

Far from his fight against bonded labour, alcoholism, female foeticide and child labour, Agnivesh will be amid celebrities like model Shraddha Sharma, former Miss Afghanistan Vida Samadzai, VJ Pooja Missra, Pooja Bedi, Juhi Parmar, Shonali Nagrani, Mahek Chahal, transgender activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, Amar Upadhyay, Akashdeep Saigal and Siddharth Bharadwaj - who have been calling each other names lately.

A misfit in the show, isn't he?

"I will try to spread some peace. But it won't be just that. I will try and bring them closer to the social realities of the country and challenge them to think about them. I want to be able to bring about positive thinking and motivate powerful thinking about country's issues.

"For me it's not about the dozen people who are in the 'Bigg Boss' house. I want to send my message across to the millions of viewers who watch the show everyday," he said.

Three pertinent issues that Agnivesh wants to talk about during his stay are casteism, alcoholism and corruption.

"Casteism is a deep-rooted problem in India and the youth needs to understand the importance of eradicating it from the society. Also, today's youth is quite into alcoholism and tobacco chewing, which are not good for the health. And of course, corruption is a big issue," said the activist, who was in the news recently for his utterances against Team Anna.

"I want the young people to dream of a corruption-free India. The Lokpal bill is just one little aspect of it…the problem is much bigger. I hope for peaceful times in this country, which is not free from corruption even after over 60 years of its independence," he added.

That's not all! Agnivesh also plans to tell viewers that he isn't a strict disciplinarian after all.

"I will be in a relaxed mood in the show and treat all contestants like my friends. People will see a lighter side of me," he said, and maintained secrecy about the duration of his stay in "Bigg Boss 5".

According to the grapevine, Agnivesh will enter the show only as a guest, and not as a permanent contestant. When asked, he said: "I can't say anything right now. Let me start the show at least."

Micromax Mobile has withdrawn its controversial 'Bai commercial'

Mumbai: Micromax Mobile has withdrawn its controversial 'Bai commercial', which poked fun at Shiney Ahuja, after the actor initiated legal action against the company, said his publicist here today.

The advertisement attempted to take a humorous dig at Shiney, who was convicted two years ago of raping his domestic help and is currently out on bail.

The actor slapped a legal notice on Micromax Mobile late October, contending that the advertisement - in which two 'bais' (servants) poke fun at him - "amounted to will-ful character assassination and contempt of court".

"Shiney has challenged his conviction and the Bombay High Court has admitted his appeal, which is currently pending hearing. For the mobile company to air such a commercial influencing public opinion when Shiney's appeal is pending hearing, is equivalent to contempt of court," the actor's publicist, Dale Bhagwagar, said.

Now, the Micromax Mobile has sent a reply to Shiney's October notice, stating that the controversial commercial has been withdrawn, Bhagwagar said.

Shiney was arrested June 2009 following charges of rape, wrongful confinement and criminal intimidation, levied by his maid servant, and spent nearly five months behind bars.

On March 30 this year, he was awarded seven years of imprisonment by a Mumbai fast track court -- but he has challenged the sentence in the Bombay High Court.

Shiney is known for his performances in movies like "Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi", "Sins", "Life In A Metro", "Woh Lamhe", "Bhool Bhulaiyaa" and "Gangster - A Love Story", and is awaiting release of forthcoming movies like "Ek Accident", "Ghost", "Chaloo Movie" and "Har Pal".

After "Garam Masala" , Akshay Kumar & John Abraham have teamed up again to entertain people

Mumbai: Six years after "Garam Masala", Akshay Kumar and John Abraham have teamed up again to entertain people with their new action-comedy "Desi Boyz". The latter can't stop heaping praise on his co-star and says that he is the "fittest man" in the industry.

"Akshay has always been a guiding force from 'Garam Masala' itself. I was very raw then. I have learnt a lot from him," said John.

John, who built a muscular body for his last release "Force", even feels Akshay is fit as a fiddle at 44.

"Even during 'Force' I was always asked who is the fittest man in the industry and I have always said it is Akshay Kumar and I stand by it. He is a true inspiration in a lot more ways than one. To look so fit and handsome all the time is really difficult and he does it all the time," added John.

"Desi Boyz" marks the directorial debut of Rohit Dhawan, son of filmmaker David Dhawan. Also starring Deepika Padukone, Chitrangada Singh and Omi Vaidya, the film will release on Nov 25.

Bhupen Hazarika, there won't be another one like him:Lata Mangeshkar

Mumbai: Mourning the death of Bhupen Hazarika, Lata Mangeshkar says there won't be another one like him and that she not only fell in love with his music but enjoyed his company as he was always full of life and joy.

"I sang for him way back in the 1950s in Assamese. I was scared of getting the pronunciation wrong. But he was confident. And I was game since I love singing in various languages. And the song was so lovely 'Jo na kare rati'. I fell in love with Bhupenda's music," she said.

"Our association began from there, and continued through decades. He became close to my entire family specially my youngest sister Usha who sang innumerable Assamese songs for him," she added.

Legendary singer-composer Hazarika died of multiple organ failure at a Mumbai hospital on Saturday. He was 85. His funeral is due Wednesday.

Lata remembers staying at his home in Kolkata and says he was a good host.

"I had gone for the recording of some Bengali songs for Bhupenda in Kolkata. I stayed with him and his wife (Priyamvada Patel) in their home. They made me so comfortable. There're very few people in my life I felt so relaxed with. Bhupenda was always full of life and joy, so much so that I hated the thought of him being ill," she added.

"Two years ago he came home. I was dismayed by the change in his health. Seeing him so frail, I was depressed. From then onwards I didn't have the heart to meet him. I was supposed to record a song with him, I chickened out.

"I am frightened of seeing loved ones in pain. When my mother fell ill, I had to be dragged by the rest of the family to see her. But I kept abreast of his health through my sister Usha who was on the SMS with Kalpana Lajmi (Hazarika's companion). I got to know of his hospitalization. He was really in pain.

"When I heard of his illness, I rang him up in the hospital. Kalpna put the phone to his ear. I believe Bhupenda responded to my voice. They even played my songs for him in the hospital. I know he was very fond of me and my singing. And I of him. Three days ago, a journalist came to me saying Bhupenda was very critical. I recorded my get-well message for him. Then, it was over," said Lata.

The legendary singer is all praise for Kalpana for looking after the late singer so well.

"The way Kalpana put her entire life on the shelf to look after him till the end is exemplary. She made sure he was in the best hospital and got the best treatment. Such dedication is rare in today's world," said Lata.

"My most popular song for Bhupenda in Hindi was 'Dil hoom hoom kare'. The composition was very special. Bhupenda sang the song originally in Assamese. Today, I smile as I remember how entertaining he was in person. I enjoyed his company. And I enjoyed singing his songs. There will never be another Bhupen Hazarika," she added.

"Love, Breakups, Zindagi" has won the filmmakers an award from PETA

New Delhi; A scene in Bollywood film "Love, Breakups, Zindagi", where the characters portrayed by Dia Mirza and Zayed Khan pull over to rescue a young dog sitting in the middle of the road, has won the filmmakers an award from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) India.

In the film, when no guardian appears, the couple decide to bring the dog home and treat him with affection.

The animal welfare NGO decided to award Born Free Entertainment with a Hero to Animals Award "for showing that homeless animals make wonderful additions to families," a press statement said.

"We give 'Love, Breakups, Zindagi' 'two paws up' for reminding moviegoers that India's streets are full of loving animals in need of a good home", said PETA India Chief Functionary Poorva Joshipura.

"We encourage everyone who has the time and resources to care for a dog or cat to adopt a homeless animal in need - you'll have a loving companion for the rest of his or her life," Joshipura added.

Several celebrities including Imran Khan, Trisha Krishnan and Dino Morea have urged the general public to adopt homeless dogs.

I would love to make a National Award-winning movie:Akshay Kumar

New Delhi: He is a hardcore commercial actor and, as a producer too, he has produced potboilers, but Akshay Kumar says given a chance he would love to experiment. He also reveals that he will always be a 'desi' boy, be it preferring Hindi to English or eating paranthas at home.

"I want to produce commercial films. But if I get a good script, I would love to make a National Award-winning movie," Akshay, 44, who has spent two decades in Bollywood, told the media in a telephonic interview from Mumbai.

The actor is all set to put a lid on 2011 with "Desi Boyz". Releasing on Nov 25, the film will see him teaming up with John Abraham as a co-star. Directed by Rohit Dhawan, the son of director David Dhawan, "Desi Boyz" also has Deepika Padukone and Chitrangada Singh in the female leads.

Akshay, a Punjabi who has spent many years in Delhi, says he has always been a "desi" at heart and his recent decision of communicating in Hindi shouldn't be taken as a marketing gimmick.

"I have always tried to speak in Hindi. It is because in real life I am a real 'desi' boy. All my life I have believed that the day should start with touching the feet of my parents, that home cooked food is always better than outside food. I have always preferred ghar ka parantha to anything from outside," he said.

"Even if we go out for a movie, I prefer to watch Hindi films over English. So it was there in me, always. I am very grounded that way," he added.

The crackling chemistry of Akshay and John was the highlight of "Garam Masala" and Akshay says his friend and co-star has improved a lot since then.

"We are coming back together on the big screen after six long years. We were not offered any movies together during that period. While shooting for this film, we had much more fun than we had in 'Garam Masala'. So, we were wondering why no one ever thought of casting us together all these years," said Akshay.

"We have become quite good friends now. And, trust me, John has improved a lot since then, especially his comedy timings. The way he has improved his muscles, his comedy timing has also improved," he added.

From being an action hero to doing comedies, Akshay tried different things and in his upcoming film "Desi Boyz" he will be seen stripping and doing pole dancing. And what he liked about his character, Jerry Patel, is that it was a different role.

"I had a lot of fun while doing this movie. First of all I haven't played this kind of character ever. When the role was narrated to me, I knew this was something I wanted to do. And, secondly, its director Rohit Dhawan told me the film is based on the real-life incident of two people who had to take extreme paths to survive during recession," he said.

The action-comedy deals with how the life of two friends turns upside down when recession hits Britain and they are left with no choice but to strip and pole dance for a living. And then the story has its twists and turns.

Akshay made his mark with hits like "Khiladi", "Ajnabee", "Hera Pheri" and "Namastey London" and is all set to entertain his fans with interesting projects like "Joker", "Rowdy Rathore" and "Housefull 2" next year.

He turned producer in 2010 with "Tees Mar Khan" and later produced "Patiala House" and "Thank You" as well. Even though these films flopped at the box-office, Akshay is undeterred.

"I will always do a film I believe in, I can connect to and my fans can relate to it as well. So even if 'Patiala House' didn't do well commercially, it was critically acclaimed. I was close to the film because it dealt with the emotional bond between a father and a son," he said.

He made his presence felt with "Thank You" and "Speedy Singhs" this year and he was also seen in a special appearance in "Chalo Dilli".