National


Cabinet Clears Bill That Proposes To Make "Triple Talaq" Criminal Offence

MMNN:15 December 2017

NEW DELHI: A bill that proposes to make the "triple talaq" a criminal offence has been cleared by the union cabinet and the government hopes to get parliament clearance for it during the short winter session that began today. In August, the Supreme Court said in a landmark ruling that the practice of Muslim men uttering "talaq" three times for an instant divorce is unconstitutional. Judges agreed with Muslim women that "triple talaq", often delivered by their husbands over Skype or WhatsApp, violates their right to equality and leaves them destitute. Despite the court's order, however, "triple talaq" still continues to be practiced, the government has said. The proposed bill, called the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, is a "priority agenda" for the government, people familiar with the matter said. Home Minister Rajnath Singh led a group of ministers to draft the bill. The government's seeking of a ban against "triple talaq" because it is derogatory and discriminatory against women has created an unlikely coalition between Muslim women and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's administration as they took on Muslim groups which say the state has no right to interfere in religious matters The West Bengal subcommittee of the Muslim Personal Law Board met in Kolkata yesterday and has said that the proposed bill has been drafted without consulting any Islamic scholars and amounts to an interference in the personal law of the community. The members have urged the government to initiate consultations saying it would otherwise be a "handicapped" bill that would create discord. Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party and the Trinamool Congress, who count on Muslim voters, have argued against a ban, and said reform should be encouraged from within the community and not imposed on it. However, they have endorsed the Supreme Court verdict. Many Muslim countries have banned "triple talaq", including Pakistan and conservative Saudi Arabia. It survived in India because religious communities are allowed to apply their own laws in personal matters such as marriage, divorce and property inheritance.

Gujarat Election 2017: 397 'Crorepati' Candidates In Poll Fray, Congress' Pankaj Patel Richest

MMNN:9 December 2017

AHMEDABAD: Ahead of the Gujarat Election 2017, an interesting figure has come out from the analysis of election affidavits. Two NGOs have found that of the 1,828 candidates who have filed nominations this time, as many as 397 are crorepati candidates. The report also found that 1,098 nominees have passed class 12 or below. The report by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Gujarat Election Watch (GEW) also showed that there are only 118 women candidates in the poll fray this time. The Gujarat Election 2017 is a high-stake political contest where two leading parties the BJP and the Congress are battling against each other. The BJP has been in power from the last 22 years in Gujarat and the Congress aspires to break the ruling party's winning spree by wooing the voters from the Patidar community. While 198 out of the total 977 candidates of the first phase have declared assets worth more than Rs. 1 crore, 199 nominees out of the total 851 of second phase have emerged as 'crorepati' as per the analysis of their affidavits conducted by the NGOs. The report said that 131 of these 397 'crorepati' candidates have declared assets worth over Rs. 5 crore, while 124 others have shown movable and immovable assets in the range of Rs. 2 crore to Rs. 5 crore. While the ruling BJP has given tickets to 142 'crorepati' candidates, the opposition Congress has fielded 127 such nominees. The NCP has given tickets to 17 crorepati candidates, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has fielded 13 such candidates and the BSP to five. The report said that 56 independent candidates also fall under this category. The remaining 'crorepati' candidates belong to lesser known parties or outfits. Congress candidate for Daskroi seat, Pankaj Patel has emerged as the richest candidate with declared assets worth Rs. 231.93 crore, it said. He is followed by another Congress nominee Indranil Rajyaguru of Rajkot-West seat who has declared assets worth Rs. 141.22 crore. Mr Rajyaguru is followed by BJP candidate for Botad seat Saurabh Patel, who is former Gujarat finance minister, and has declared assets worth Rs. 123.78 crore, the report said. BJP candidate and prominent businessman Dhanjibhai Patel of Wadhwan seat is in the fourth place with declared assets of Rs. 113.47 crore. Contrasting to these figures, six independent candidates have declared that they have 'zero' movable or immovable assets. As many as 13 candidates have declared that their annual income is more than Rs. 1 crore, based on the last Income Tax returns filed by them, the report stated. At educational front, the report said that as many as 1,098 nominees have either passed only 5th, 8th, 10th or 12th class. 119 candidates mentioned that they were only literate, while 23 others declared that they were illiterate. According to the report, of the 1,828 candidates, 118 were women. 658 candidates were in the age group of 25 and 40 years, 889 between ages of 41 and 60, while 193 of them were between 61 and 80. Voting for the first phase of the polls began this morning, while polling for the second phase will be held on December 14. Counting of votes for both the phases will be held on December 18.

Staff Of Another Kolkata School Arrested For Alleged Sex Abuse Of 3-Year-Old

MMNN:5 December 2017

KOLKATA: Protests by parents in Kolkata continued as the staff member of another school was arrested last night in connection with the sexual assault on another student. Manoj, the staff member of MP Birla Foundation Higher Secondary School, had allegedly sexually abused a three-year-old child twice -- in June and September. The parents had lodged a complaint with the police in September, but the arrest was made only after parents of other students held demonstrations following the rape of a four-year-old in G D Birla Centre for Education. The principal of G D Birla Centre for Education is being questioned by the police since morning after the parents of the four-year-old filed a complaint with the police alleging that she had revealed the identity of their daughter in violation of law. In a letter sent to nearly 4,000 parents of the school, principal S Nath jad named the student. The issue concerning [name of the child] is under investigation by the police," read the letter, which has shocked the parents. "This is unethical and illegal," said a parent who got the letter. "The naming of the girl demonstrates how callous the school is about the whole thing," said another parent. The school's communication came after two of its teachers were arrested for the assault and it was shut down indefinitely. But lawyers say the principal's letter further exposes the school's callousness towards its students. The letter, they said, violates every legal norm and the provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, which prohibits naming of minor sexual assault survivors. Ananya Chatterjee Chakraborti, the chief of the child rights body in the state, said it would showcause Ms Nath for identifying the girl. "This is absolutely illegal. She cannot name the child. We will show cause the Principal for violating the POCSO Act. How can she do it? She has violated the basic tenets of humanity," she was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India. The father of the student in GD Birla has demanded the resignation and arrest of the principal. Otherwise, he said activists would march to Lalbazaar, the police headquarters. He has also threatened to sue GD Birla, the corporate group that runs four schools in Kolkata and has several other business interests

BJP Set For Big Win In Uttar Pradesh Civic Elections: 10 Points

MMNN:1 December 2017

LUCKNOW: Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has delivered in his first big test, with the BJP set to win mayoral elections in 14 of 16 municipal corporations in Uttar Pradesh. The state's ruling party is also leading in municipal councils and nagar panchayats. "The BJP's historic win in the UP civic polls is because of PM Modi's development policies and Amit Shah's strategies," said the Chief Minister, who conducted a turbo-charged campaign with his party's performance being watched closely after its massive sweep of the UP assembly polls in March this year.
Here are the top 10 updates on UP civic polls:
1The BJP's candidates for mayor are leading in state capital Lucknow, Moradabad, Ghaziabad, Chief Minister Adityanath's home town Gorakhpur and ten other municipalities. The BSP is leading in two, up from the one municipality that an Independent backed by the party won last time.
2Lucknow looks set to get its first woman mayor in the BJP's Sanyukta Bhatia, who said this morning, "I don't consider anyone my competitor. I will be number one, no matter who is second or third."
3In 2012, the BJP had won 10 of 12 municipal corporations, one each were won by Independents backed by the SP and BSP. There are four new municipalities this time, Ayodhya, Saharanpur, Firozabad and Mathura.
4The BJP is also leading in Ayodhya-Faizabad. Chief Minister Adityanath began his campaign with a rally in Ayodhya, which, along with twin city Faizabad, has just been upgraded to a municipal corporation. The 45-year-old Chief Minister addressed 26 rallies, travelling to all 16 districts where civic elections were held.
5The BJP is leading in most of the 198 municipal councils and 428 nagar panchayats or notified area councils with the Samajwadi Party in second place. Independents backed by the Samajwadi Party and the BSP had won a majority of these in the last elections, with the BJP trailing.
6This time, the Samajwadi Party and the BSP, crushed in the assembly elections, contested on their symbols, but in sharp contrast to Yogi Adityanath's high-powered campaign, neither Samajwadi chief Akhilesh Yadav, nor Mayawati campaigned.
7Yogi Adityanath asked voters to support the BJP just the way they did in the 2014 national election and this year's assembly election. The party swept both, winning 73 of the state's 80 parliament seats three years ago and over 300 of 400 seats in the assembly elections.
8The Chief Minister has to both thank his party and prove his worth with a big win. After the BJP's humongous win in March, party leaders unexpectedly picked the saffron-robed priest-politician over several front-runners for the top post.
9A powerful local leader in eastern UP and the head priest of the Gorakhnath temple in his home town Gorakhpur, Yogi Adityanath served as a BJP lawmaker for 19 years and is leading the party in an election across the state for the first time ever.
10The Samajwadi Party, which lost power in UP to the BJP in March, has accused the ruling party of "misusing government machinery to fix the elections" alleging that it tried to rig electronic voting machines. The BJP has called the allegations baseless.

Hardik Patel's Show of Strength 30 km Away From PM Modi Rally In Gujarat

MMNN:29 November 2017

MORBI, GUJARAT: Hardik Patel has tweeted photos to show the kind of crowd he mobilised at a public rally today in Morbi, about 30 km away from where Prime Minister Narendra Modi was campaigning in the same district in the heart of Gujarat's Saurashtra for next month's assembly elections. "This crowd of thousands at a public meeting to discuss reservation and farmers' issues in Morbi district is encouraging," tweeted the 24-year-old, who led the massive Patel agitation for reservation against PM Modi's party, the BJP. Hardik Patel strategically timed his Morbi tour to coincide with the Prime Minister's rally. A comparison of the audiences the two rallies drew was expected after reports of a sub-par turnout for the Prime Minister's public meetings in Saurashtra on Monday. Morbi, a town famous for ceramic tiles and seen as an influencer for surrounding areas, has voted for the BJP for two decades. But it also has a significant Patel population and was one of the epicentres of the community's agitation for reservation in government jobs and colleges in 2015. Hardik Patel, who was jailed for sedition during the agitation and was exiled on court orders from Gujarat for six months, is too young to contest elections. But he has vowed to ensure the BJP's defeat, accusing the party of betraying the Patels, loyal to it for years, by not including them among castes that benefit from affirmative action. He is asking his community to vote for the Congress in the assembly elections after assessing as satisfactory, the party's formula for reservation for Patels if it comes to power. PM Modi told a capacity crowd today that "in good times and bad, we have stood with Morbi," which he said was not true of the Congress. Morbi, he said, was typical of the Gujarat model that he is credited with developing when he was the state's Chief Minister. Indira Gandhi of the Congress, the PM said, "held a handkerchief to her nose against a foul smell when she came to Morbi." Morbi district has three of Gujarat's 182 assembly seats. In 2012, when then Chief Minister Modi led his party to yet another victory in Gujarat, the BJP had won two seats in Morbi and the Congress one. But in panchayat or rural body elections held in 2015, the Congress won most seats in worry for the BJP. Morbi is filled with small traders who have traditionally not just voted for the BJP, but have also funded the party. Congress vice president Rahul Ganhdi has been urging the traders to punish the BJP for a chaotic roll-out of new national tax GST, which he has alleged has brought small businesses to their knees. Rahul Gandhi too is in Saurashtra today and will address three rallies. PM Modi is addressing three in Saurashtra and one in south Gujarat.

Request Congress Not To Mock My Poor Origins,' Says PM Narendra Modi In Scathing Attack

MMNN:27 November 2017

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has requested the Congress "not to mock my poor origins," extending his scathing attack on the opposition party and its leader Rahul Gandhi from one rally in Gujarat to another, as he begins a campaign blitz his home state, which votes early next month for a new government. "The Congress dislikes me because of my poor origins. Can a party stoop so low? Yes, a person belonging to a poor family has become PM. They do not fail to hide their contempt for this fact. Yes, I sold tea but I did not sell the nation," PM Modi said in Rajkot, adding, "I request the Congress not to mock the poor and my poor origins." The PM's comments referred to the latest controversy the Congress landed itself in last week, when the party's youth wing mocked the Prime Minister as a "chai-wala" in a meme it later deleted, but not quickly enough. The BJP has since resurrected its "chai" campaign strategy that it had successfully deployed ahead of the 2014 general election, highlighting the Prime Minister's childhood when he sold tea at railway stations to stress that he is a self-made leader in contrast to the Gandhis' dynastic control of the Congress. The chai campaign was constructed as a result of Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar infamously deriding Mr Modi as a tea-seller who could never become Prime Minister The BJP has said the repeated attacks on the PM over his humble origins exemplify the Congress' elitist mindset and that an enraged public will punish it by ensuring the BJP sweeps the Gujarat election. Gujarat, the Prime Minster, said at his first rally in Bhuj today, will not forgive the Congress for making "baseless allegations against the son of the soil," as he pitched the election as a battle between "vikas(development)" and "vanshwaad (dynasty)," in an attack on Rahul Gandhi, who is set to take over from his mother Sonia Gandhi as Congress president before Gujarat votes. "When Keshubhai Patel, a son of Saurashtra became the CM the Congress tried everything to dislodge him. They repeated the same disruptive tactic with Anandiben Patel, a daughter of the Patel Community. Congress has defamed Gujarat always," the Prime Minister said, also accusing the opposition party of learning from the Aam Aadmi Party "whose style is to keep abusing and running away. I thought the Congress, being an older party would not indulge in such politics but they have also taken this short cut in the past two months and only hurled abuses and lies

Hardik Patel-Congress Formula For Patidars Not Legally Tenable, Says BJP

MMNN:22 November 2017

AHMEDABAD: For Hardik Patel it was never about ensuring reservation for the Patidars, alleged Gujarat's deputy chief minister Nitin Patel of the BJP today, accusing the 24-year-old activist of a sell-out after he announced his support for the Congress in next month's Gujarat elections. "The people of the state have seen in the last few days that reservation was a facade and it was all about the political ambition of Hardik Patel," said the Deputy Chief Minister, who too is a Patidar and was appointed last year by the ruling BJP as number 2 in the government to signal to the powerful caste its importance for the party. On the pact between Hardik Patel's Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) and the Congress on reservations, Nitin Patel said that the two were fooling the Patidar community. ''The judgements that they are quoting, one delivered by a nine-judge bench clearly states no reservation above 50 per cent. They are fooling the Patidars offering a formula which is not legally tenable,'' he said. Hardik Patel, who led a massive agitation two years ago demanding that Patels or Patidars be included in castes that get reservation in government jobs and colleges, today vowed to work with the Congress to oust the BJP as punishment for not meeting the Patels' demand. The Congress, he said, has offered a solution for how to include Patels in castes that benefit from affirmative action and will detail it prominently in its manifesto for the assembly elections, to be held on December 9 and 14, before votes are counted on December 18. Hardik Patel's announcement came after days of negotiations as the Congress attempts to cash in on the recent Patel anger with the BJP. The community, 14 per cent of Gujarat's voters, have for decades supported the BJP, which has been in power in the state for the last 22 years. Hardik said his one-point agenda is "doing my utmost to defeat the BJP." The BJP has sent out strong signals to the Patels too. Patidars make up more than a fourth of the BJP's candidate list announced so far for the assembly elections. A third of the ruling party's current legislators in Gujarat are from the community, including nine ministers. After previous chief minister Anandiben Patel was seen to mishandle the Patel agitation, the BJP effected damage control replacing her with Vijay Rupani and appointing Nitin Patel as his deputy. Nitin Patel has been meeting the different Patidar groups that have been involved in the agitation to try and address their concerns and Hardik Patel had attended such a meeting last month.

Veteran Congress Leader Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, In Coma Since 2008, Dies At 72

MMNN:20 November 2017

NEW DELHI: Senior Congress leader and former union minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, in coma since 2008, died at a hospital in Delhi today. He was 72. Mr Dasmunsi had been critically ill over the past month, according to the Apollo hospital, and died at 12.10 pm, in the presence of his wife Deepa Dasmunsi and their son. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and and former president Pranab Mukherjee were among those who expressed grief at Mr Dasmunsi's death. "Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi was a popular leader with rich political and administrative experience. He did notable work to popularise football in India. Saddened by his demise," tweeted PM Modi. Sonia Gandhi called his death an irreparable loss to the Congress and described him as a "devout political activist and one of the tallest leaders of Bengal". The former union minister fell into a coma after suffering a massive stroke that left him paralysed and unable to speak. One of the Congress's most popular leaders in West Bengal, Mr Dasmunsi enjoyed a good rapport with leaders across the political spectrum. He was union Parliamentary Affairs Minister when he went into coma. The blood supply to a part of his brain was cut off, which caused irreversible damage, according to doctors. The politician was on life support for over a decade. His family even took him to Germany for treatment. Over the years, his wife became active in Congress politics. Deepa Dasmunsi was also a union minister in the Congress-led UPA government. Former president Pranab Mukherjee, who worked with Mr Dasmunsi in the Congress government, said: "Deeply saddened at the passing away of Shri Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi. His loss will be felt forever. Heartfelt condolences to his family and friends." In 2006, Mr Dasmunsi was the first Indian to be a match commissioner in a FIFA World Cup game between Australia and Croatia. He was heading the Indian football governing body at the time of his stroke in 2008, which led to Praful Patel taking over as president.

Ram Temple-Babri Masjid Case: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Meets Muslim Leaders In Lucknow

MMNN:17 November 2017

LUCKNOW: All issues can be resolved through dialogue, Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said in Lucknow today after meeting Muslim leaders as part of his efforts to mediate a solution to the protracted Ram temple-Babri Masjid dispute. Ravi Shankar, who was in Ayodhya yesterday and met various leaders across the religious spectrum, said he respected the courts but they cannot connect hearts. "Even after 100 years, the judgements of courts will remain but if we find a solution through our hearts it will be recognised through the ages," Ravi Shankar told reporters after meeting the rector of the Farangi Mahal Islamic Centre of India, Maulana Khalid Rashid Farangimahli, and other community leaders. Maulana Khalid Rashid Farangimahli is also a senior member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board or AIMPLB. "We accept that it is a little late for such efforts but we want that the issue should be resolved soon," Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said. "I am confident we will achieve something big for the country through this," he added. According to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a new message of brotherhood needs to be taken forward. Asked if his efforts are aimed at a settlement before the court decision on the issue or even after that, he said, "We are not leaving any possibility... we are not working on an agenda but trying to find a way." The Art of Living founder asked for time and said there was no hurry, religious heads would come together and talk. Giving his take on the talks, Maulana Farangimahli said differences will be removed if leaders of both sides sit together and talk regularly. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar yesterday met Dinendra Das of the Nirmohi Akhara as well as Muslim intellectuals in Ayodhya and Faizabad. His efforts to mediate have found favour only with a section of both communities with major parties, including the AIMPLB and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, expressing their reservations. A day before visiting Ayodhya, he had met Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in Lucknow and said he wanted "unity and amity.



Children's Day 2017: Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Was A Prolific Writer. A Look At The Books Authored By Him

MMNN:14 November 2017

NEW DELHI: Children's Day is celebrated across India on November 14, the birth date of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, who was very fond of children. Children fondly call him Chacha Nehru. Mr Nehru, under the guidance of Mahatma Gandhi, turned out to be a leader of India's struggle for independence. For laying the foundation of independent India as sovereign, socialist, secular and a democratic republic, he is credited as the architect of modern India. He was a prolific writer in English and wrote a number of books. His speech on the eve of India's Independence, towards midnight on 15 August 1947, is considered to be one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century.
Here's a look at the books Jawaharlal Nehru has authored:
1. The Discovery of India: Jawaharlal Nehru wrote this book while he was in jail for his participation in the Quit India movement. He wrote the book during 1942-46 and dedicated it to the prisoners who provided him a stimulating environment to pen down his thoughts and experiences of living in the country he loves. The book is a mix of personal essays and reflections and provides a broad view of Indian history, philosophy and culture, as viewed from his eyes. The book is seen as one of the finest writings on Indian history.
2. Glimpses of World History: This book is a collection of 196 letters that Jawaharlal Nehru wrote to his daughter Indira when he was in various prisons in British India between 1930-1933. The letters were meant to introduce her to world history. In the first few letters, Mr Nehru expresses his sadness for not being able to be around his daughter and give her the materialistic gifts that other parents could, but he promises to give her a gift that he could afford; in the form of knowledge and wisdom through words that come from the core of his heart. The book contains the history of humankind from 6000 BC to the time of writing of the book. He talks about the histories of every significant place ranging from Greece in the far West to China in the east. The book talks about the wars that were fought during these years and the greatest revolutions that overthrew established dynasties. He has also written about the legendary leaders and kings like Alexander the Great and Mahatma Gandhi.
3. An Autobiography, also called Towards Freedom: This book is an autobiography written by Jawaharlal Nehru during his time in the prison. In the book, he mentions about why he took the path of civil disobedience and ended up being in the prison. The book begins with anecdotes of how his ancestors had to flee Kashmir. He writes about how his life history, from even before his father was born, seems to have led him naturally to where he was. The book depicts the political realisation of an upcoming giant of a nation and the battle for its freedom. The book was published in 1936 and ran nine editions in the first year alone. 4.
Letters From A Father To His Daughter: This book was published in 1929 and has a collection of 30 letters written by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1928 to his daughter Indira Gandhi when she was 10 years old. In the letters, written in English, he is teaching her about natural history and the story of civilisations. At the time of the writing of the letters, Mr Nehru was in Allahabad, while Indira was in Mussoorie.

UP Government Spreading Hatred In Name Of Development: Akhilesh Yadav

MMNN:11 November 2017

LUCKNOW: Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav today accused the government in Uttar Pradesh of spreading hatred in the name of development, saying there was no one better than the BJP in creating a "vertical divide". The former UP chief minister also alleged that the projects of the earlier Samajwadi Party government were being inaugurated by the Yogi Adityanath government. "BJP people are very wise in instigating problems, spreading hatred, and there is no one better than them in creating a vertical divide, be it in a family or political party... you can see Gujarat, Bengal or Uttar Pradesh," Mr Yadav said at a newspaper event in Lucknow. "Who is better than them in creating a divide in the name of Hindu-Muslim or castes... People charge us for being casteist but don't call them casteists," he claimed. Mr Yadav also claimed that he had never asked for votes on the basis of caste and religion. The former chief minister also asked, "Was the UP government made for spreading hatred in the name of development. It is only the development of hatred," he alleged. On the rift within the Samajwadi Party, Yadav said that with his party losing power, the problems in his family have also come to an end. "There can be no tiff now as there is no power...when there is no power there is no tiff," Mr Yadav said. Taking a dig at the BJP government in UP, the former chief minister said that during his tenure, he had never inaugurated projects which had been inaugurated previously. "The works done by the Samajwadi Party government are being inaugurated by this government," he claimed. "If they have done anything on their own for the state, they should tell people," he said. The Samajwadi Party president, who had struck an electoral alliance with the Congress before the UP Assembly polls, also stated that his "friendship with Rahul Gandhi will continue". "I am not the one who changes friends and this fact should be clear. On the political front, we were friends and will remain as such...the alliance as it is today, will continue," he stressed. Asked about Congress not asking him to campaign in Gujarat, he said, "It does not matter...Who will stop me from going there for candidates of my party in fray." On his equation with Patidar leader of Gujarat, Hardik Patel, Mr Yadav said that though he has not been introduced to him yet but can be friends with him whenever he wants to. Mr Yadav, however, refused to comment on any possibility of a tie-up with the BSP. Referring to demonetisation, Mr Yadav said that though former prime minister Manmohan Singh, who is an economist, and all other economists say that it has harmed the economy, it is sometimes difficult for people to accept the truth and they ignore many things due to caste and religious considerations. Making a reference to the amendments in the GST, he said more such steps will be undertaken as the elections draw closer. The former UP chief minister said that those who used to talk about digital India are today talking about 'gobar' (cow dung) and cow. On the works done during his government especially his pet project of Agra-Lucknow Expressway, Mr Yadav said, "I still maintain that those who have travelled on it will say that this is how the roads in the country should be made." "The Prime Minister and UP Chief Minister can make roads better than the expressway, but they do not have the intention to do so..officials tell them that there are shortcomings in the River Front and other such projects. And the same officials come to me and say that CM does not know anything," he alleged.

100 Suggestions' But You Always Pick Odd-Even, Delhi Government Scolded

MMNN:10 November 2017

NEW DELHI:Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's government confronted resounding criticism today from the country's top environmental court for ordering "odd-even" traffic restrictions in the capital next week. In an attempt to reduce the thick and hazardous smog hanging over Delhi, Mr Kejriwal said that the odd-even scheme, used twice before in the capital to check pollution, will apply from 8 am to 8 pm for Monday to Friday. It limits cars with license plates ending in even numbers to run on one day and odd numbers on the next. "The odd-even formula can't be imposed like this. Nothing has been done from your end for the past one year," the National Green Tribunal rebuked the Delhi government. It said that "100 measures" have been suggested to curb pollution, "but you always opted for odd-even. Delhi government will have to justify the implementation of this scheme The government is expected to present evidence in court tomorrow of why the traffic restrictions are needed. It does not have the support of the centre. "What was the use of the odd-even formula last time? Did it even have any effect?" asked union minister Mahesh Sharma. Thick smog this week swathed Delhi, where pollution readings in some places peaked at 500, the most severe level on the government's air quality index that measures poisonous particles. All 6,000 schools in Delhi have been closed till Monday with the Chief Minister saying the city has turned into a "gas chamber". He has urged Haryana and Punjab to stop farmers from setting existing crop waste on fire - "stubble burning" what's left after fields have been harvested - as they prep to sow the winter crop. Other major contributions to the filthy air are vehicle emissions and dust from construction sites. Trucks have been banned from entering the capital for now; a stop to all construction activity has also been ordered. The problem has been compounded this year by still conditions, the weather office said

Parking Fee Hiked By 4 Times In Delhi To Curb Air Pollution

MMNN:7 November 2017

NEW DELHI: People in Delhi will have to pay four times the usual parking fee after severe pollution levels today prompted tougher measures. The decision was taken at a meeting of the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Prevention and Control Authority (EPCA) to discourage people from using private vehicles. The capital struggled with the worst smog and pollution this year, worse than a day after Diwali, as a brown haze hung heavy. The green panel has recommended reduced fares in the Delhi metro for off-peak hours and the return of the odd-even scheme to regulate the number of cars

In Gujarat, Team Of 40 'Chhupa Rustams' Informing Rahul Gandhi Decisions

MMNN:6 November 2017

As Rahul Gandhi moves through Gujarat, visiting temples, addressing small neighbourhood gathering and much larger rallies, taking the occasional selfie with a young fan who climbed to the top of his mini-van for a selfie, there's a far more media-shy contingent that's assessing what voters want. You can call them by different names - in Hindi, we refer to them as 'Chhupa Rustom' - but it's crucial that they remain anonymous, unrecognizable," said one of these secret agents. "They source information, then give this information to a boss who is one level above them, and that rung conveys the material to Rahul Gandhi," he said, agreeing to be filmed but in silhouette so that his identity is concealed. The secrecy is not unwarranted, said more than one of these Chhupa Rustoms that we spoke to. On reconnaissance missions, they gauge public mood to help shape what narrative the campaign should follow; more crucially, they try to evaluate which candidates the Congress should shortlist for the 182 seats in Gujarat that will be decided when the state votes next month. As Rahul Gandhi attempts to drive a wedge Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his home state, which has been governed by the BJP for 22 years, his decision to use a secret council of advisors is based on recent experience in Goa and Punjab where the Congress leader's official aides were supplemented by another similar secret council that helped determine candidates. The Congress won the most seats in both states. The "intel agency"of the Congress works like this, explained the source who is part of it. "Rahul Gandhi handpicks the top tier which then chooses the foot soldiers who conduct low-profile surveys of voters and party workers to identify which candidates are likely to be winning acts. He said that senior Congress leaders - like Gujarat president Bharatsinh Solanki and Ashok Gehlot - are "partially in the know" about the role of the Chhupa Rustoms. If there were full disclosure, he said, "they will drive us out...they will finish us in the womb before we do something. But they are not able to that means they have a message". "Any information can only help the party," said Mr Solanki to NDTV, "they are secret stars to allow them to collect unbiased facts." Whether he's fully in on the secret was unclear - he was unable to explain the exact count of "secret agents" but said they have been brought in "from Maharashtra, from Rajasthan, so it's hard to track details." Sources said there are about 40 Chhupa Rustoms deployed in Gujarat, some of whom are covering upto 14 constituencies. Candidates must be formalised by the 20th of this month, but so far, no names have been released by the Congress, which is why there's a voluptuous crowd of aspirants, CVs in hand, at the party office in Ahmedabad. Earlier, in a power play typical of the Congress' centralized leadership, they would have to travel to Delhi, said contenders. Now, a screening committee of four aides to Rahul Gandhi interview them. Its' not clear how much the committee is influenced by the Chhupa Rustoms; its members didn't want to talk to NDTV. But an aspirant, Chamanji Thakor, who has twice been elected as a law-maker, told NDTV that "the party conducts a survey...who does it is a secret...but we are told it is carried out on the instructions of Rahul Gandhi. It is a top secret affair." Congress sources who work closely with its Vice President said that for years, Mr Gandhi has been trying to create a team of young leaders across India whose motivation is not to run for office themselves but to help the party identify and promote deserving talent and candidates. For all the effort that the Congress is putting into determining its candidates, equally crucial will be its strategy in deciding how to handle those it rejects. As Shankersinh Vaghela proved before quitting the party, it's easy to move disgruntled Congressman towards the BJP -at least six Congress law-makers switched teams at that point, in total 43 stayed loyal. Perhaps the secret ops should focus on uncovering other likely defectors, say some Congress sources wrly.

Those Who Were In World Bank Now Question Ranking: PM Narendra Modi Slams Opposition

MMNN:4 November 2017

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today took a swipe at the opposition Congress for questioning the country's improved ranking in the World Bank's ease of doing business report, saying those who had worked with the World Bank previously too were raising questioning India's ranking. Speaking at a session on India's business reforms, PM Modi listed the initiatives and reforms that his government had pushed through "in all sectors" that led to an improvement in the ease of doing business ranking from 142 to 100. "But there are some people who cannot understand this... They don't want to work, but are quick to question those who do," PM Modi said at the conference in the presence of World Bank chief executive officer Kristalina Georgieva. "This is not just an ease of business ranking... it is also an ease of living life," PM Modi said at the Pravasi Bhartiya Kendra, responding to the primary criticism from the Congress camp that there was a wide gap between the improvement in rankings and the plight of small businesses. Leading the opposition attack has been Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi who has accused the government's decision last year to ban high value currency notes followed by the Goods and Services Tax of having devastated businesses. "Ask small traders about ease of doing business," Rahul Gandhi has said, describing the two measures as "twin torpedos" that sunk entrepreneurs into losses. The quantum improvement on this ranking means that life has become easier for the common people, the middle class, he said. "Because most of the parameters selected for this ranking are linked to the day-to-day life of people too," PM Modi said, counting efforts to simplify filing tax returns, train reservations and gas bookings as some areas PM Modi said ease of doing business is "critical for small businesses including small manufacturers" that provides the bulk of employment, makes them more competitive and reduces the cost of doing business. He also attempted to blunt the criticism over GST, telling traders that the government had been listening to their concerns with an open mind and was making amends. He announced that the group of finance ministers appointed to smooth out the rough edges had met and "almost all points" flagged by businesses were being "positively addressed". This ranking takes into account reforms initiated only till May-end and does not reflect the impact of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which was implemented from July 1, he said, confident that India would occupy the pride of place in the ranking when GST and other reforms are also accounted for. World Bank chief Kristalina Georgieva had earlier called India's jump of 30 places in World Bank's ease of doing business ranking as "very rare". "In reforms what pays off is persistence, what we are seeing is extraordinary achievement by India," Ms Georgieva said

In Gujarat Election, Why The Role And Influence Of ASHA Workers Matters

MMNN:3 November 2017

VADODARA, GUJARAT: The day before the election for Gujarat was called, the state government announced a 50% raise for ASHA workers in the state, part of an assortment of well-funded schemes introduced quickly to win public favour. Along with the raise, a free sari was promised for the 43,000 women who are trained to provide basic health care in rural areas. ASHA - Accredited Social Health Activists - assist in childbirth, provide first aid, help with vaccinations and educate communities on birth control measures and issues of sanitation as part of the National Rural Health Mission introduced in 2005, which envisaged planting at least one ASHA worker in every village by 2012. For over two years, ASHA workers in Gujarat have been demanding fixed wages, permanent employment with regularized working hours and social security benefits like maternity leave and health insurance. In a state that prides itself on development, prosperity and three terms of Narendra Modi's governance, they say, the basics - education, health, clean drinking water - are far more inadequate here than in states like Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In a sign of their relevance, Rahul Gandhi met with ASHA workers yesterday during his tour of South Gujarat. "Our numbers are not small. Together, we are a formidable vote bank. So the government had to make a token gesture. But they have not addressed a single demand we made," said Tanuja Makwana, an ASHA worker in the Nadiad district of Central Gujarat. ASHA workers are well aware of their influence in the communities they visit, and of their status as government workers. They are also often from families where men work as farmers or are small traders, groups that have been reeling from the impact of the new national sales tax or GST and demonetization. Tanuja points out that ASHA workers are paid for every assignment and are guaranteed no minimum monthly income. In addition, they have to be available around the clock to travel to remote areas. "Presently, for every delivery we are paid Rs. 300 and an additional Rs. 250 for a week of follow-up visits and writing up the delivery report. But this is only if the woman is a BPL card holder (below poverty line); otherwise, we get nothing. For collecting samples for various tests, we get Rs. 15. Our income depends entirely on the number of cases we handle. So when there are fewer cases, we barely earn anything. So how does a 50% hike and a free sari help us?" she asked while giving an insulin shot to a young diabetic patient who has turned up at her house. Each ASHA worker is meant to handle 1,000 people. Very often, she is required to carry out door-to-door visits to check the spread of malaria or a flu. "We spend several days, walking from home to home in the hot sun and in heavy rain, but we are not paid a single paisa for our effort. They make us work for free," said Tanuja. Now in her early 30s, she says that even if spends nearly every day of the month in the field, she barely makes Rs. 2,500 a month despite nine years of experience. "I should be earning at least Rs. 10,000," she says. "The same work is twice as difficult for ASHAs covering Adivasi dominated districts where the terrain is hostile and the infrastructure is limited", says Meena Rathwa, who is based in Chhota Udaipur in South Gujarat, which has a large tribal population. "Often, the distance between one hamlet and the next is several kilometres. We have to make our own transport arrangements and sometimes spend the night in the village. But we have to pay for all these expenses. The government does not reimburse us." That's one reason why the epicenter of the two-year long protest by the ASHAs has been Vadodara with its proximity to the Adivasi belt of South Gujarat. Their peaceful struggle turned aggressive in recent days with members heckling and chasing senior government officials and national and state law-makers from the area. The conflict escalated when a few women leaders were arrested for allegedly throwing bangles at the motorcade of Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he campaigned in Vadodara last month. The ruling BJP has accused the ASHAs of upping the ante at the urging of the Congress before the election. It's a charge they deny. "They are undermining our battle for survival", said Meena. "We are sensitive to their demands and in fact have made announcements recently increasing there wages. As far as the government is concerned, they are satisfied with our response; only a handful could be protesting for reasons best known to them," said Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel. Congress workers allege that it is in the vacuum created by Mr Modi's departure for Delhi that protests have begun to take shape and erupt - among farmers, health care workers, the Patels who want affirmative action policies. The Gujarat government has been reducing its spend on health care; in the last three years, it has fallen from 5.6 percent of the state's budget to barely 5%. Of this, barely a third was allocated to rural healthcare, with the bulk reserved for urban areas. The neglect shows, particularly in villages. The Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) of Gujarat, an economic powerhouse, is 35 per 1,000 births; Kerala's is 10. In rural areas of Gujarat, the IMR is 43, nearly double that of urban areas. Similarly, the state registered a Maternal Mortality Rate of 112 per I lakh deliveries as compared to 68 in neighbouring Maharashtra. One reason for these poor figures is an acute shortage of government doctors in Gujarat. More than half the sanctioned posts of 1,500 doctors in primary health centres located in rural areas are vacant. More shockingly, for a state that prides itself on world class infrastructure, the National Rural Health Mission Data for 2015-16 reveals a shortfall of 12 district and 5 sub-district hospitals, 36 community health centres, 113 primary and 20 sub- primary health centres. For its public health schemes to start taking effect, the salaries of frontline workers like ASHAs and anganwadi workers, who staff women and child care centres in rural areas, has to be improved. Earlier this year, about 1.5 lakh anganwadi workers in Gujarat went on a 3-day strike demanding Rs. 4,000 a month. An anganwadi worker is paid Rs. 3,000 in Gujarat making it the 14th lowest-paying state, while states like Haryana and Tamil Nadu pay them between Rs. 8,000 - 10,000 a month. These issues don't decide a voter's preference of party or candidate. But ASHAs and others like them hope to raise awareness of how their low wages create a cycle of negligence

Hit A Button On Your Phone, And A Chinese Youth Gets A Job: Rahul Gandhi

MMNN:1 November 2017

The morning after India was recognised for vast self-improvement making it an easier place to do business, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that "it is just a handful of businessmen who have found the going easier" as he accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of encouraging crony capitalism and failing to create jobs. Mr Gandhi's criticism was made at a public meeting in Gujarat, where he is leading his party's campaign for December's election in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state. He reiterated his criticism of the new national sales tax or GST, reminding his audience in Jambusar, "I have called it the Gabbar Singh Tax". Gabbar Singh is one of India's best-known fictional villains from the blockbuster movie "Sholay". Yesterday, the World Bank said that India has improved its ranking by 30 places and is 100th out of 190 countries for doing business. Mr Gandhi said that the PM and his administration are congratulating themselves over an assessment by "foreigners and not by our poor." "Ask small traders about ease of doing business," he said, alleging that GST and demonetisation - described by him in an earlier speech as "twin torpedos" - have sunk entrepreneurs into losses. In retort, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley tweeted that the difference between this government and its predecessor, which was led by Mr Gandhi's party, is "The ease of doing corruption has been replaced by the ease of doing business" India was ranked 142 for ease of doing business during PM Modi's first year in office in 2014. He has declared a target to place India among top 50 and in the last two years has attracted record foreign direct investment. The new ranking of 100 "indicates India's endeavour to further strengthen its position as a preferred place to do business globally," Annette Dixon, World Bank vice-president for South Asia, said at a media conference in New Delhi. India's economic growth slid to a three-year low of 5.7% in the last quarter, the result in part of PM Modi's sudden ban of high-denomination notes a year ago and this July's hurried rollout of the GST. The World Bank rankings didn't take into account impact of demonetisation and the goods and services tax, reported Bloomberg. The BJP has governed Gujarat for 22 years and its campaign is being fronted by PM Modi, who in his speeches emphasizes that GST and the notes ban are key structural reforms that will increase transparency, reduce prices through increased competition, and further economic growth while checking black money and corruption The "transitory" disruptive effects of both reforms are over and India's economic growth will see a "sizable turnaround" when September quarter numbers are out next month, Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Garg said in an interview recently to Bloomberg. 65% of Gujarat's' population is younger than 35, so concerns over unemployment run high and this election has been overtaken by a tug-of-war between different castes demanding affirmative action policies that would entitle them to government jobs and seats in state-run colleges. Mr Gandhi said that in comparison to China, where "50,000 jobs are provided by the government for the youth every day, in India, only 450 people get jobs every 24 hours". This, he alleged, exhibits the failure of the PM's "Make In India" initiative to promote manufacturing. "Just take you phones and see the back... does it say 'Made in India'? No. It says 'Made in China'. Every time you click a button on your phone, a youth in China is getting a job," he said. Gujarat votes on December 9 and 14; results will be counted on December 18

President Ram Nath Kovind And Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu Pay Tributes To Sardar Patel

MMNN:31 October 2017

NEW DELHI: President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu today paid tributes to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on his 142nd birth anniversary. President Kovind remembered Sardar Patel as "India's Man of Iron, of Integrity and of Integration" in the tweet he posted after paying floral tribute at Patel Chowk. Mr Naidu too, paid floral tribute to Sardar Patel, who is credited for the ensuring integration of the nation post Independence. Born on October 31, 1875 in Nadiad, a small village in Gujarat, Sardar Patel became the first Deputy Prime Minister of India. He died on December 15, 1950. Popularly known as the 'Iron Man' of India, Sardar Patel was conferred with the highest civilian honour, Bharat Ratna, in 1991 for his services to the nation.

Ahead Of Rahul Gandhi's Visit, Hardik Patel Sets A Deadline For Congress

MMNN:28 October 2017

Hardik Patel, the 24-year-old face of the Patidar community's campaign for reservation that has locked horns with the ruling BJP in Gujarat, seems to be playing hardball with the Congress over his support to the party for the state elections to be held in December. A day after Congress sources indicated that Mr Patel would share the stage with Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi during his visit to Surat on November 3, he tweeted that the party must first come out with a clear stand on the reservation issue. "If the party doesn't not clear its stand on the issue by November 3, it could face the same fate as Amit Shah did during his rally in Surat," tweeted Mr Patel. BJP chief Amit Shah's meeting with leaders of the Patidar community in Surat last month descended into chaos as supporters of Mr Patel went on a rampage, chanting his name and vandalizing the furniture. Though the Congress party has openly expressed its support to the Patidar leader in the past, it is yet to make its stand clear on a separate reservation quota for the community. A separate quota for the Patels in government jobs and colleges could take the reservation percentage beyond the 50 per cent currently allowed by a Supreme Court ruling. The Congress party has still to react to Mr Patel's threat. Mr Patel has been indirectly expressing his backhanded support to the Congress party, making announcements at recently rally like: "If you have to bring down a maha chor (mega thief) it doesn't matter if a chor (thief) is helped". The BJP on its part has been alleging that Mr Patel was nothing but a B-Team of the Congress. A CCTV clip leaked by the Gujarat Police had shown how despite vehemently denying to do so, Mr Patel did apparently meet Rahul Gandhi in a city five star hotel. Both Mr Patel and the Congress have denied any such meeting

Decide On Alliance,' Devendra Fadnavis Tells Shiv Sena After New Attack

MMNN:27 October 2017

MUMBAI: Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has warned partner Shiv Sena that its "dual stand" will not wash and that its chief Uddhav Thackeray must decide if he wants to continue the alliance with the BJP. "The Sena opposes all our decisions. They can give their suggestions, but cannot simultaneously play the roles of a ruling party and an opposition at the same time," Mr Fadnavis said at a function, even as the Sena's Sanjay Raut delivered another set of jibes at the BJP, asserting that the "Modi wave has faded". The Chief Minister said, "As a party, Uddhav-ji has to decide. People do not like the picture they are portraying. Balasaheb (Sena founder and Uddhav's father Bal Thackeray) never saw every decision with negativity, neither does Uddhav-ji. But some of his leaders think they are bigger than the party chief and make statements." Sanjay Raut was participating in television discussion when he also declared that Rahul Gandhi is now capable of leading the country. "People want to hear what he is saying...It is wrong to call him 'Pappu'," the Sena lawmaker said, referring to a name used by BJP supporters to mock Mr Gandhi. "The biggest political power in this country is the people... the voters. They can make a Pappu of anyone," Mr Raut added in an apparent dig at the BJP. The Shiv Sena has not always been kind to Rahul Gandhi, who is expected to take over as Congress president from his mother Sonia Gandhi soon. Just two years ago, the party had said that "even 100 Rahul Gandhis cannot match Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'mega wave'". But the BJP-Shiv Sena relationship has gone steadily downhill since, with a splenetic Sena now taking regular pot shots at PM Modi and his party and threatening to dismantle their alliance, though it has not done so yet. A break-up will mean that the Devendra Fadnavis government will be in a minority in Maharashtra and will have to take the support of Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). Mr Fadnavis said given a choice, he would choose to work with the Shiv Sena as the two parties have been together for 25 years and have the same ideology. "But I will give Pawar credit for one thing. He never opposes beyond a certain point when it comes to development. He is never against development," Mr Fadnavis said, again asserting, "but our differences with the NCP will continue". On comparisons with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the young chief minister said, "It is difficult for me to become Modi, he being a great communicator, a master administrator who has changed the country and the way politics is done. However, he should be the role model for every chief minister

Rajnath Singh, In Meet With Mehbooba Mufti, Asks About Jobs For Pandits

MMNN:26 October 2017

AGRA: At their first meeting after former intelligence chief Dineshwar Sharma's appointment as the centre's interlocutor for Kashmir, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and Home Minister Rajnath Singh today discussed how the take the initiative forward. They also reviewed the implementation of a special package for the state. One of the key issues that Mr Singh flagged at the 60-minute meeting was the delay in rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits, particularly jobs for them in the Kashmir Valley. A senior government official said the Home Minister was particularly concerned about a delay in offering Kashmiri Pandits jobs that they had been promised. The government had earlier announced setting aside 6,000 jobs for the Hindu community in Kashmir who were driven out of the Valley by terrorists. But the Jammu and Kashmir government had reported to the centre that only 3,000 jobs have been given. Ms Mufti has promised to restart making the appointments for the remaining appointments that had been held up due to "legal issues". Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a 80,000 crores package for the state in 2015. In two years, the government has sanctioned projects totalling 78 per cent of this package and 28 per cent money has also been disbursed. Much of their 20-minute one-on-one meeting that followed the official meeting focused on the steps needed at the government and political level to consolidate the gains expected to accrue due to the centre's outreach attempt that the opposition Congress has called a "publicity exercise". Following up on the initiative, Ms Mufti yesterday told the state police to stop retaliatory attacks on families of terrorists, prefer surrender of terrorists over killing them and follow the law themselves before enforcing it among people. "You will have to follow the law and not compete with militants by doing what they do," she told them. Interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma and Army Chief General Bipin Rawat have, separately, made it clear that the appointment of an interlocutor to engage in dialogue with stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir would neither impact the Army operations nor the crackdown on terror funding by the National Investigation Agency.

Hizbul Chief Syed Salahuddin's Son, Who Is Government Employee, Arrested

MMNN:24 October 2017

Syed Shahid Yousuf, the son of terror group Hizbul Mujahideen's chief Syed Salahuddin, has been arrested in Jammu and Kashmir by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in a 2011 terror funding case. Yousuf, 42, works in the state government as a village agriculture assistant and has a family home in Budgam. "He was summoned for questioning to Delhi on Tuesday after initial rounds his role was conclusively established in the case and so we arrested him," NIA spokesperson Alok Mittal told NDTV. The case involves funding through hawala channels by terrorists based in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. According to the top anti-terror agency, Yousuf was in touch with Saudi Arabia-based Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Aijaz Ahmad Bhat and had received money to fund secessionist and terror activities in the Kashmir Valley. Sources say Yousuf accepted money transferred through Western Union by Aijaz, who is on the run, and investigators have documents from Saudi Arabia and India confirming the transfers. The money allegedly meant to fund the Hizbul Mujahideen's terror activities in Jammu and Kashmir, was sent in four instalments to Yousuf between 2011 and 2014. The NIA also has call records of multiple conversations between Aijaz and Yousuf. "We have all the documents on money transfers as well as call details. It is on the basis of this irrefutable evidence that we have gone ahead with Yusuf's arrest," said a senior officer. Four accused in the case are in Delhi's Tihar jail while two are missing. The case had been dormant after the four arrests. The NIA revived the investigations recently and questioned Yousuf a few days ago. Yesterday, the central government announced a new interlocutor, former Intelligence Bureau chief Dineshwar Sharma, for a "sustained dialogue" with all stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir. Yousuf's arrest is a clear sign that the centre does not plan to go slow on its crackdown on separatist leaders. Syed Salahuddin was in June declared a Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the US Department of State.

Centre To Start New Dialogue In Jammu And Kashmir Led By Ex-Intel Chief

MMNN:23 October 2017

NEW DELHI: Dineshwar Sharma, a former intelligence bureau chief has been appointed by the NDA government as its interlocutor for Jammu and Kashmir, Home Minister Rajnath Singh announced on Monday, declaring that the retired officer would have "complete freedom" to talk to all groups and individuals" including Kashmiri separatists. "There is no bar on him to talk to one group and not another... We want to understand aspirations of people of Jammu and Kashmir," the minister said. This is the first concrete attempt by the NDA government in three years to reach out to Kashmiris and comes after a particularly-focussed offensive by security agencies anchored from Delhi to crack down on foreign funding for separatists. In Srinagar, police and army teams have taken out dozens of local commanders of terrorist groups active in the Kashmir Valley. It also addresses recurring criticism of the central government's approach in handling the problems in Kashmir from the prism of security operations without a matching political outreach. At the government's meetings with political parties, the Union Home Minister said, there had been suggestions that the government from across the political spectrum that there should be dialogue. In 2010, the Manmohan Singh government too had appointed a group of three interlocutors led by eminent journalist Dilip Padgaonkar who had given their final report in two years. But most of their recommendations were not accepted. Asked if the government really needed another report, the Home Minister didn't refer to the initiative by the UPA but underlined that the Modi government's policy and intentions were clear: "To understand aspirations of Jammu and Kashmir and the problems that people are facing, how they can be resolved and the challenges". He also explained the government's decision to go for the intelligence chief as its interlocutor, saying the centre wanted someone who did not have any political affiliations as he would be most-suited to reach out all individuals and organisations concerned

Taj Mahal A Hindu Temple Called Tejo Mahal: BJP Lawmaker Vinay Katiyar

MMNN:18 October 2017

LUCKNOW: The Taj Mahal is originally a Hindu temple and should be renamed as "Tejo Mahal", BJP parliamentarian Vinay Katiyar has said, asserting that a temple was destroyed to build the world-renowned marble monument. "Taj Mahal is a Hindu temple. There are many symbols of Hindu gods and goddesses in Taj. It was known as Tejo Mahal and water used to drip from its ceiling but that was removed from there,"Mr Katiyar, a Rajya Sabha member, today said. The BJP leader went on to buttress his theory on the 17th century mausoleum and said Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath "should go into the Taj Mahal and should see the Hindu signs inside it". "If this was only a grave then why are so many rooms built here? There is no need to demolish any structure anywhere. Its name should be changed to Tejo Mahal...The British did not demolish our structures but the Mughals did,"Mr Katiyar said. His remarks add another facet to the controversy over the Mughal-built monument, which was recently left out of an Uttar Pradesh government tourism brochure. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will travel to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal next week for damage control after a legislator of the BJP, Sangeet Som, supported the shocking omission in the tourism booklet and described the Taj Mahal as "blot on Indian culture", a monument built by traitors and a symbol of slavery. Sangeet Som, one of the politician accused of inciting riots in 2013 in Muzaffarnagar, also said Mughal history should be erased. Yogi Adityanath, who had months ago commented that the Taj did not represent Indian culture, said yesterday that the monument was built by the blood and sweat of Indian workers and "it does not matter who built it

Narendra Modi Bihar Visit LIVE: PM Attends Patna University Function, Will Launch Projects Worth Rs. 5,000 Crore

MMNN:14 October 2017

PATNA: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in Bihar today to launch and attend the centenary celebrations of Patna University. The country's seventh oldest university, standing on the banks of the river Ganga, completed 100 glorious years on October 1 and the administration held a simple function to mark the historic occasion. PM Modi will also launch projects worth Rs. 5,000 crore including a bridge across the Ganga which costs about 1,200 crores. Soon after the celebrations, PM Modi will head to Mokama, about 96 km from Patna, to launch about half-a-dozen schemes including projects under the 'Namami Gange' programme. It will also be the first time since Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's exit from the Mahagathbandhan in Bihar and return to the NDA, that he will share the stage with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Bihar.
PM Narendra Modi's Speech At Patna University For Its Centenary Celebrations
Here are the highlights of PM Modi's speech at Patna University: Nitish Kumar's dedication and commitment towards to progress of Bihar is commendable. Bihar has the capability to be one of the most developed states in India If the people of Bihar decide to put an effort and work towards it. Bihar has the blessing of goddess Saraswati... it can also get the blessings of goddess Lakshmi if it works towards it... Patna has contributed to knowledge and the civil services for many years. It should now move towards wealth creation and innovation. I am sure this won't be a difficult task for the people of Bihar, who have given us some of India's brightest minds. Today, we cannot imagine that at least one in the top five posts in India isn't an alumni of this grand institution. The seed of education was sowed in Patna a century ago... It has created this iconic institution. Technology is changing the way of life... It is giving a new meaning to the way we live... It is important we embrace it. Sometimes we are rigid and not open to change, but the key to success in life is to learn, unlearn and then relearn. We must look at any situation and any circumstance with an open mind... Universities today must work towards helping students have an open mind... Being rigid only hampers growth and slows us down. Someone told me during a visit to a village once that when we were young we used to play with snakes, but today's children are playing with the mouse (computer)... Times are changing. Technology should be made available to the poorest of the poor and should be user-friendly. India already ranks fourth among all nations in terms of startups... The time is not far when India will rank number one in the world. Another area of utmost importance to Bihar, and India at large is skill development. 12:17 (IST) Soon after the celebrations, PM Modi will head to Mokama, about 96 km from Patna, to launch about half-a-dozen schemes including projects worth 5,000 crores including a bridge across the Ganga under the Namami Gange Programme which costs about 1,200 crores. The four national highway projects for which foundation stones will be laid include four-laning of Aunta-Simariya section of NH-31 and construction of six-lane Ganga Setu. The other three projects are four-laning of Bakhtiyarpur-Mokama section of NH-31, two-lane construction of Maheshkhunt-Saharsa-Purnea section of NH-107 and two-lane construction of Biharsharif-Barbigha-Mokama section of NH-82. 12:16 (IST) PM Modi will launch a special centenary souvenir. The management is hopeful that PM's visit will allow them to request for central university status for the Patna University. 12:11 (IST) Vice-Chancellor Ras Bihari Prasad Singh had also invited the former finance minister, who graduated from the institution with a degree in political science and also taught here, but Mr Sinha has not indicated whether he will attend. The Vice Chancellor said that even if Mr Sinha attends the function, he may not be seated near the PM whose office and security clear all arrangements including seating plans for the stage. 12:10 (IST) But today while welcoming PM Modi to "his Patna University", the former actor tweeted, "...even I got an invitaion, alas very late and with a very short notice...delayed by the 'more loyal than the King's people' involved in the affair. So, though 'Muhabbat Karne waale kam na honge...Teri mehfil mein lekin hum na honge'. However, my best wishes." 12:09 (IST) PM Narendra Modi is attending the centenary celebrations of Patna University. The country's seventh oldest university. Governor Satya Pal Malik, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, Lok Janshakti Party president Ram Vilas Paswan and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also participate in the celebrations. The university's famous alumni and BJP leaders-turned-critics Shatrughan Sinha and Yashwant Sinha, however, might not attend the event. Lawmaker from Bihar Shatrughan Sinha had told ndtv.com that he had not been invited to attend the celebrations. The actor-turned-politician, who is "very emotionally attached to my alma mater", said, "I'm pained over being denied invitation on such an occasion." 12:03 (IST) PM Narendra Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will attend Patna University's centenary celebrations following which they will travel to Mokama where the Prime Minister will launch several projects. 12:02 (IST) As Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived at the Patna airport for his day-long visit to the state, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar welcomed him with a red rose. The two leaders are meeting in Bihar for the first time since JD(U)'s exit from the Mahagathbandhan and return to the NDA fold. Soon after they shook hands, PM Modi expressed his desire to visit the newly opened Bihar Museum, to which Mr Kumar said, "why not". Governor Satya Pal Malik presented him a book in line with directions that no bouquet be presented to the PM during his tours in India. Soon after the celebrations, PM Modi will head to Mokama, about 96 km from Patna, to launch about half-a-dozen schemes including projects under the 'Namami Gange' programme. It will also be the first time since Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's exit from the Mahagathbandhan in Bihar and return to the NDA, that he will share the stage with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Bihar. 12:00 (IST) Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in Bihar today to launch and attend the centenary celebrations of Patna University. The country's seventh oldest university, standing on the banks of the river Ganga, completed 100 glorious years on October 1 and the administration held a simple function to mark the historic occasion. PM Modi will also launch projects worth Rs. 5,000 crore including a bridge across the Ganga which costs about 1,200 crores.

Have Documents? Go To Court': Amit Shah Rejects Allegations Against Son Jay Shah

MMNN:13 October 2017

Amit Shah today responded to allegations that his son Jay Shah, an entrepreneur, enjoyed a big upswing in his business after the BJP came to power in 2014. The question of corruption does not arise, the BJP chief told the news channel Aaj Tak. "If you have documents to prove your allegations, bring them to court," Mr Shah said, emphasizing that none of his son's companies "did even one rupee worth of business" with the government or "received kickbacks like in the case of Bofors". Jay Shah has sued news website The Wire for 100 crores for reporting that his firm's revenues escalated by 16,000 times after the BJP came to power. The report also questioned allegedly unsecured loans given to Jay Shah's firms, including from a state-run firm that reports to the Power Ministry. NDTV cannot independently verify the allegations, which, according to the Congress, is an "excellent example" of crony capitalism. "Please understand this is not corruption. Many allegations of corruption were made against the Congress. Did it ever file a civil suit or defamation suit? No. Why they lacked such courage? Today Jay has filed a defamation as well as civil suit and is demanding a probe himself," Mr Shah stressed, responding to questions. He added: "The business was of commodity trade which is a high value low profit venture. If a company's turnover becomes Rs. 1 crore, its profit does not become Rs. 1 crore...It is unfair to say there was an over 16,000 times jump in profit...say what the turnover was...It makes it seem like the turnover was huge but it wasn't." The BJP president also said after achieving a turnover of Rs. 80 crore, his son's company suffered a loss of Rs. 1.5 crore. "All the payments were made through cheques. There is no question of money laundering." The loans, he said, were not unsecured but a line of credit. On Thursday, the BJP's ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) said there must be enough evidence for the allegations to be worth investigating.

Talwars Acquitted Of Daughter Aarushi's Murder By Allahabad High Court: 10 Points

MMNN:12 October 2017

ALLAHABAD: Dentist couple Nupur and Rajesh Talwar are innocent of killing their teen daughter Aarushi and domestic help Hemraj in 2008, the Allahabad High Court said today, stressing that it was giving them the benefit of the doubt. Aarushi, 13, was found dead in her bedroom; Hemraj was the main suspect till his body was found hours later on the roof of the Talwar home in Noida. The CBI has said it will study today's verdict before deciding whether to appeal against the Talwars' acquittal.
Here are the 10 latest developments in this big story:
1- The judges today said that the CBI had been unable to prove the Talwars' guilt. "There is no irresistible conclusion that accused did the murders," they said.
2-The Talwars were in jail in Dasna in Uttar Pradesh when they were acquitted. A jail official said that they had been anxious this morning and were happy to hear of the verdict. "They said they got justice," he told NDTV.
3-Aarushi Talwar was found with her throat slit in her bed, just days before she turned 14. Their live-in help Hemraj was discovered dead the next day on the terrace of the apartment building in Noida.
4-The case was mishandled by the Noida police and after lapses that included reporters to trample all over the scene of the crime, it was transferred to the CBI.
5-The Talwars were arrested in 2013; in 2015, a court found them guilty and sentenced them to life in prison. The CBI wanted the death penalty.
6-That conviction came after the CBI said it wanted to close the case as an unsolved mystery; the agency said it believed Rajesh Talwar was guilty, but did not have the evidence to prove it. That statement was seen by many legal experts as irresponsible. But the CBI was told to continue its probe.
7-AP Singh, who then headed the CBI, told NDTV today, "There were loopholes in our investigation, that's why we had closed the case saying it was inconclusive." He said today's verdict "does not say that the Talwars didn't do it" but that there's not enough evidence against them.
8-The court that convicted the couple accepted circumstantial evidence offered by the CBI. Investigators said the double murder was an inside job because the apartment had not been broken into and that the "last seen" principle indicts the Talwars because the victims were in their presence before they were killed.
9-The police had alleged that the Talwars were furious after finding their daughter in a compromising position with Hemraj, but offered no evidence to substantiate this premise.
10-The Talwars have described their portrayal in the media as a witch-hunt and have repeatedly offered to assist the investigation.

RSS worker attacked, bombs hurled at BJP office in Kannur district

MMNN:11 October 2017

A 36-year-old RSS activist was injured in an attack, while bombs were hurled at BJP office in separate incidents of violence in the district, the police said on Wednesday. The activist KM Suresh, an auto driver by profession, was injured in the knee when some unidentified persons attacked him at Thalassery Tuesday evening. He has been admitted to a hospital here and his condition is stated to be serious, they said. A case has been registered against unknown assailants, police said, adding, they suspect it to be a fallout of political rivalry. Police had recovered some swords, knives and iron rods near the BJP district committee office here Tuesday. In the other incident, police said bombs were hurled at the BJP party office at Patyam around 12.30 am today but no one was injured. Some furniture was damaged in the attack, police said. A complaint has been received from BJP area committee president K Ajeesh and a case has been registered, they said. The incidents come two days after a hartal was observed at Panur in the district on October 9 by CPI (M) to protest the crude bomb attack on its workers allegedly by RSS men. As many as 14 persons, including four police personnel, were injured in the attack on Sunday during a procession taken out by CPI(M) activists at Kaivellikal. The BJP had on October 3 launched its ‘Jana Raksha Yatra’ from Kannur to highlight “Left’s atrocities” in the state. Addressing the Delhi leg of the yatra’ on Sunday, BJP chief Amit Shah had slammed Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, alleging that the maximum killings of BJP and RSS workers have taken place in the latter’s home district of Kannur.

Huge 2014 Defeat Knocked Sense Into Us, Admits Rahul Gandhi

MMNN:10 October 2017

NEW DELHI: On his campaign tour in Gujarat, Rahul Gandhi explained today that a humiliating defeat at the hands of the BJP in the 2014 national election helped him "a lot". The brief concession stood out as Mr Gandhi took generous digs at the ruling party and the Jay Shah controversy on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home turf. "The BJP helped me a lot. They have really helped me. We lost 2014 but the defeat could not have helped us more. Itni buri tarah haraya ki pit pitkar humein akal aagayi (They beat us so badly in 2014 that it drilled sense into us)," the Congress Vice President said, expressing "gratitude" to the BJP for his party's virtual wipeout after 10 years in power. "They helped me a lot by by pitai karke, gaali deke, maar maarke (they beat me, abused me, thrashed me). They opened my eyes." Ahead of polls in Gujarat later this year, Mr Gandhi is touring the BJP's strongest citadels in the state where the Congress has been out of power for nearly 20 years. Speaking before a gathering of students last evening, he referred to the allegations reported in the Wire website, that BJP president Amit Shah's son Jay Shah's fortunes rose 16,000 times after the BJP came to power -- from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 80 crores. "Have you heard of start-up India? The most successful is Jay Shah's start up... it's a very interesting story," Mr Gandhi said, going on to sum it up for his audience. Targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said: "The chowkidaar of India is quiet, he doesn't like to comment on these things." In Mr Gandhi's sharp and pointed attacks, his party men see signs of the new, more savvy and confident leader set to take over as Congress president. Not long ago, on a visit to an American university, the 47-year-old had conceded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was a "better communicator" than him. Participating in a Q&A session at the University of California, Berkeley, last month, he said, "I am an Opposition leader, but Mr Modi is also my Prime Minister. He has certain skills; he's a very good communicator, probably much better than me.

In Godhra Train Blaze, Alleged Mastermind And 62 Others Acquitted Again

MMNN:9 October 2017

The Gujarat High Court has decided a set of appeals challenging convictions and acquittals in the case of the burning of the Sabarmati Express in Godhra in 2002, which triggered massive communal riots across the state of Gujarat in which more than 1,000 people were killed. A total of 94 people, all Muslims, had stood trial on charges of murder and conspiracy. In 2011, a court acquitted 63 of them. The High Court today has refused to change that verdict. Those acquitted include Maulvi Umarji, accused of being the mastermind behind the fire. 31 people were convicted of murder, attempt to murder and criminal conspiracy. The death sentence for 11 of them has today been changed to life imprisonment. The others remain sentenced to life in jail. In February 2002, 59 people, most of them 'kar sevaks', Hindu devotees returning from Ayodhya, died after a coach of the Sabarmati Express was set on fire at the Godhra station, around 130 km from Ahmedabad. The Muslims who were tried have always denied setting the train ablaze on February 27, 2002. The train was returning with passengers from the site of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya that had been demolished by lakhs of right-wing workers and volunteers in 1992. The special court, in 2011, in Gujarat ruled that the accused had conspired to torch the train.

Woman, 30, Allegedly Gang-Raped In Front Of Husband, Child In UP's Muzaffarnagar

MMNN:7 October 2017

A 30-year-old woman in Uttar Pradesh was allegedly gang-raped by four men in front of her husband and their three-month-old baby, the police said. The woman and her husband, 35, had taken their baby to a pediatrician and were returning home on a motorbike in Muzaffarnagar when they were waylaid by four men, who were carrying weapons, in a car. They stopped them, snatched the baby from her and beat up the man. Then they dragged the woman to a sugarcane field. The men took turns to allegedly rape her after tying up her husband. They threatened to kill the infant who cried through her ordeal. After they were done, they warned the couple against raising an alarm and fled, police said. "Four men dragged me to a sugarcane farm and raped me at gun-point. They threatened to kill my child, also tied and beat up my husband," the woman alleged according to news agency ANI. The family screamed for help and a few farmers from a nearby village rushed to rescue them. The police were informed and the cops took the family to the hospital for treatment and her medical examination. A search for the accused is on, a senior police officer said. "We are waiting for her medical report. A case has been registered against the four and investigation is underway," said Ajay Sahdev, SP Rural, Muzaffarnagar.

How Judges Are Appointed By Supreme Court To Be Made Public

MMNN:6 October 2017

NEW DELHI: How judges are appointed or transferred will be open to the public, the Supreme Court has decided, for the sake of transparency. The Supreme Court collegium - a panel of senior most judges that decides on appointments and transfers - has decided that all its recommendations will be put up on the top court's website. The collegium system of judges appointing judges has been strongly criticized by the government, which has often called for transparency and accountability in judicial transfers and appointments. Many eminent jurists have also said that how judges are appointed needs reform because the process lacks transparency. In 2015, parliament cleared a National Judicial Appointments Commission which would include the Law Minister and two eminent persons selected by a separate panel including the Chief Justice, the Prime Minister and the Leader of Opposition. But the new procedure was cancelled by the Supreme Court, which felt the government would have too great a say in deciding judges and the independence of the judiciary would be eroded.

Over 50 Dead, 200 Wounded In Las Vegas Shooting, Deadliest In US History

MMNN:2 October 2017

NEW DELHI: After a complete takedown of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Indian Express today, senior BJP leader and former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha spoke to NDTV and expanded on his view that the economy will not recover by 2019 when the next national election is due. The only exception to his targeted missiles was Nitin Gadkari, the Minister for Road Transport and Water Resources. The government "did not try seriously" to remove the bottlenecks which had led to policy paralysis during the previous Congress-led UPA rule, he said. "Big projects remained stalled as except Nitin Gadkari, no other minister took urgent steps to remove the bottlenecks," noted the 84-year-old, whose son Jayant Sinha is a union minister. Describing demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax (GST) as the "two major disruptions that have slowed down the economy", Mr Sinha said GST - pitched as the biggest tax reform since independence - should have been implemented in October instead of July. "The government hurried through GST," he said, sounding a lot like several opposition leaders. Yashwant Sinha also suggested that demand had weakened, making it difficult to revive growth sentiment in the economy. "The economic slowdown has had a negative impact on employment generation as well. It is making it difficult for the Modi government to create jobs as promised." New private investments had not happened as expected, he added In the Indian Express article that has set the cat among the pigeons - titled "I need to speak up now" - Mr Sinha grimly notes what he calls "the mess the Finance Minister (Arun Jaitley) has made" of the economy and comments that many are silent out of "fear". "I shall be failing in my national duty if I did not speak up even now against the mess the Finance Minister has made of the economy. I am also convinced that what I am going to say reflects the sentiments of a large number of people in the BJP and elsewhere who are not speaking up out of fear," writes the veteran sidelined by the BJP after the Narendra Modi government took charge in 2014. Bluff and bluster is fine for the hustings, it evaporates in the face of reality. The Prime Minister claims that he has seen poverty from close quarters. His Finance Minister is working over-time to make sure that all Indians also see it from equally close quarters." Reacting to the sucker-punch, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said: "India's record is well-known across the world. It is one of the fastest growing economies and its role is acknowledged well." The Congress seized on the article to put out a series of I-told-you-so tweets, with Rahul Gandhi sneering: "Ladies & Gentlemen, this is your copilot & FM speaking. Plz fasten your seat belts & take brace position. The wings have fallen off our plane." Mr Sinha broadly paints a bleak picture of the economy: "Private investment has shrunk as never before in two decades, industrial production has all but collapsed, agriculture is in distress, construction industry, a big employer of the work force, is in the doldrums, the rest of the service sector is also in the slow lane, exports have dwindled, sector after sector of the economy is in distress, demonetisation has proved to be an unmitigated economic disaster, a badly conceived and poorly implemented GST has played havoc with businesses and sunk many of them and countless millions have lost their jobs with hardly any new opportunities coming the way of the new entrants to the labour market."

Yashwant Sinha Fails Arun Jaitley Big Time, Praises Nitin Gadkari

MMNN:27 September 2017

NEW DELHI: After a complete takedown of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Indian Express today, senior BJP leader and former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha spoke to NDTV and expanded on his view that the economy will not recover by 2019 when the next national election is due. The only exception to his targeted missiles was Nitin Gadkari, the Minister for Road Transport and Water Resources. The government "did not try seriously" to remove the bottlenecks which had led to policy paralysis during the previous Congress-led UPA rule, he said. "Big projects remained stalled as except Nitin Gadkari, no other minister took urgent steps to remove the bottlenecks," noted the 84-year-old, whose son Jayant Sinha is a union minister. Describing demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax (GST) as the "two major disruptions that have slowed down the economy", Mr Sinha said GST - pitched as the biggest tax reform since independence - should have been implemented in October instead of July. "The government hurried through GST," he said, sounding a lot like several opposition leaders. Yashwant Sinha also suggested that demand had weakened, making it difficult to revive growth sentiment in the economy. "The economic slowdown has had a negative impact on employment generation as well. It is making it difficult for the Modi government to create jobs as promised." New private investments had not happened as expected, he added In the Indian Express article that has set the cat among the pigeons - titled "I need to speak up now" - Mr Sinha grimly notes what he calls "the mess the Finance Minister (Arun Jaitley) has made" of the economy and comments that many are silent out of "fear". "I shall be failing in my national duty if I did not speak up even now against the mess the Finance Minister has made of the economy. I am also convinced that what I am going to say reflects the sentiments of a large number of people in the BJP and elsewhere who are not speaking up out of fear," writes the veteran sidelined by the BJP after the Narendra Modi government took charge in 2014. Bluff and bluster is fine for the hustings, it evaporates in the face of reality. The Prime Minister claims that he has seen poverty from close quarters. His Finance Minister is working over-time to make sure that all Indians also see it from equally close quarters." Reacting to the sucker-punch, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said: "India's record is well-known across the world. It is one of the fastest growing economies and its role is acknowledged well." The Congress seized on the article to put out a series of I-told-you-so tweets, with Rahul Gandhi sneering: "Ladies & Gentlemen, this is your copilot & FM speaking. Plz fasten your seat belts & take brace position. The wings have fallen off our plane." Mr Sinha broadly paints a bleak picture of the economy: "Private investment has shrunk as never before in two decades, industrial production has all but collapsed, agriculture is in distress, construction industry, a big employer of the work force, is in the doldrums, the rest of the service sector is also in the slow lane, exports have dwindled, sector after sector of the economy is in distress, demonetisation has proved to be an unmitigated economic disaster, a badly conceived and poorly implemented GST has played havoc with businesses and sunk many of them and countless millions have lost their jobs with hardly any new opportunities coming the way of the new entrants to the labour market."

No baton charge, eve-teasing incident a conspiracy against me: BHU vice chancellor

MMNN:26 September 2017

Banaras Hindu University (BHU) vice chancellor Girish Chandra Tripathi said police didnt baton-charge female students, but only used force to drive away anti-social elements who hurled stones and vandalised the campus on the night of September 23. The vice-chancellor also dubbed the eve-teasing incident as part of a larger conspiracy to instigate female students against him. I will not tolerate this, he said. Since the day I took over as vice chancellor, I have been treating the students, professors and other faculty members of BHU as my own family. However, some anti-social elements couldnt digest my honest way of working. These people in association with anti-social elements hatched this conspiracy against me, he said. Defending the police in a press statement issued late on Monday, Tripathi said: There was no baton-charge on any girl on the varsity premises during the intervening night of September 23 and 24. Action has been taken against criminal and anti social elements who (vandalised) varsity property. They tried to create anarchy at the VC residence by pelting it with stones. In the garb of conducting a dharna near the BHU main gate, some anti social elements tried to paint the statue of Mahamana Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya black, he said, adding that such an attempt is nothing less than sedition Tripathi said that the molestation victim and her friends had called him to say that unknown people were conducting a dharna in front of the gate. She also said that they were not allowing her or her friends to leave the protest venue. They were, in a way, holding her hostage. The vice chancellor went on to claim that the victim requested him to visit Triveni hostel to conduct a dialogue on the matter. So I decided to go there. However, many anti-social elements waylaid me at the gate and began hurling stones as well as petrol bombs, he said

GST Biggest Economic Reform Since Independence, Says BJP At Big Meet: 10 Points

MMNN:25 September 2017

NEW DELHI: BJP chief Amit Shah this morning thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for resolving the Doklam standoff with China and praised Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj for her speech attacking Pakistan over terrorism at the United Nations General Assembly on the weekend, as he highlighted the BJP government's achievements at a meeting of the party's national executive in Delhi. A resolution adopted at the meeting said the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is the biggest economic reform since Independence, union minister Nitin Gadkari told reporters.
Here is your 10-point cheatsheet to the BJP National Executive:
1-PM Modi, who is attending the entire day-long meet, will speak this evening and is expected to counter critics of his government's economic policies and address worries over jobs and a slowdown in economic growth, blamed by the opposition on last year's notes ban and what it alleges was a faulty implementation of GST.
2-About 2,500 members of the BJP, including 13 Chief Ministers and all its elected lawmakers - 1,400 legislators and 280 parliamentarians - are attending today's meet, Day 2 of the national executive, at the capital's Talkatora stadium.
3-Amit Shah, in his opening address, attacked Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi over his remarks on dynastic politics in the US last week, saying the BJP believes in the politics of performance while the Congress banks on the"politics of appeasement and dynasty," pointing out that the current president, vice president and PM Modi have reached their positions due to their hard work, despite their humble origins.
4-Mr Shah said the BJP government led by PM Modi demonstrated patience, perseverance and confident politics in its resolution of the Doklam standoff with China. He also praised the government on its handling of Naxalism and terrorism in its three years of rule.
5-The BJP chief cited figures to say that the economy is stronger under the BJP-led NDA government than it was under the previous Congress-led UPA government.
6-PM Modi is expected to highlight his government's pro-poor measures and other policy decisions. He will also highlight, sources said, the government's success in boosting transparency and curbing black money.
7-The Prime Minister's agenda of development will be a key feature. The PM's address is also expected to provide broad guidelines on how the party can revitalise its connect with the people.
8-A political resolution will be adopted with a road map for crucial state elections ahead and then the 2019 national election, party sources said. Strategy for elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh later this year is expected to be discussed.
9-Sources said the party decided to open its convention to the media after the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the BJP's ideological parent, alerted it about signs of a shift in public mood over the government's performance. Even some of the Sangh's economic fronts have announced a protest in November to flag the BJP-led government's failures.
10-The BJP's national executive is usually a closed-door meeting attended by about 120 top leaders. Today's meeting, however, is being called an "extended" National Executive as the party wraps up year-long celebrations to mark the birth anniversary of its founder Deendayal Upadhyaya. It is also for the first time that the BJP's legislators and lawmakers have been invited for the meet.

Terrorist Dawood Ibrahim 'In Talks' With Centre For His Return, Alleges Raj Thackeray

MMNN:21 September 2017

Raj Thackeray dropped a bombshell today as he claimed that India's most wanted terrorist Dawood Ibrahim is trying to negotiate his return with the central government as "he wants to spend his last days" in his home country. The Maharashtra politician claimed that the ruling BJP wants to bring the don back to score in elections. Dawood is "very sick and crippled", said the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief at a function to mark his Facebook debut. "He is currently in talks for a 'setting' with the government for this and this could happen," he said, commenting that the BJP government would try to take credit for the gangster's return even though he wants to return to India. "It is he (Dawood) who is keen to return... But, the BJP will claim credit for this to win the next elections," Mr Thackeray predicted. Last week, reacting to reporters' questions on the news that Dawood Ibrahim's properties in the UK have been seized, union minister VK Singh had commented that "things are happening". "We will not talk about Dawood at all. Certain things are happening. We can't let the cat be let out of the bag," Mr Singh, the Minister of State for External Affairs, had told reporters in Kerala. Dawood Ibrahim is the mastermind of the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts in which 257 were killed. India says there is proof he has been living in Pakistan's Karachi for decades, which has been confirmed by the UN. In more validation of New Delhi's stand that the man it has hunted for over two decades has been sheltered by Pakistan, Britain's list of Financial Sanctions Targets refers to the gangster's three recorded addresses in Karachi.

Part Of Rs. 389-Crore Bihar Dam Crashes Hours Before Launch by Nitish Kumar

MMNN:20 September 2017

PATNA: Hours before its grand launch by Nitish Kumar, a portion of a Rs. 389-crore dam in Bihar crashed during a trial run and left parts of a town in Bhagalpur flooded. The Chief Minister was forced to cancel the inauguration today of the Ganga canal project that was completed after a 40-year delay. Last evening, Mr Kumar's office cited "technical reasons" for dropping the launch of the Bateshwarsthan Ganga Pump Canal Project, which has been set up to irrigate land in Bihar and neighbouring Jharkhand. Ads in newspapers had announced that Water Resources and Irrigation Minister Rajiv Ranjan Singh Lallan would also be present at the event. The wall of the canal collapsed when water from the river Ganga crashed into it after the pump was switched on for a trial. The water gushed into Kahalgaon village and inundated areas that are part of a thermal power project. The Principal Secretary of the Water Resources department, Arun Kumar Singh, and top Bhagalpur officials are overseeing efforts to drain out water from the submerged areas around 3 km from the canal. "Sandbags are being placed to check the flow of water," Mr Singh told reporters. Experts blame the collapse on the negligence of officials. A joint scheme by Bihar and Jharkhand, the project aims to irrigate 18,620 hectares of land in Bhagalpur and over 4,000 hectares in Jharkhand, a government brochure on the project said. The Planning Commission had originally approved the project in 1977 at an estimated cost of nearly Rs. 14 crore. In a series of tweets, Mr Kumar's former deputy and Lalu Yadav's son Tejashwi Yadav snarked: "One more dam has been sacrificed to corruption...The Water Resources department is a den of corruption...wonder why the Chief Minister is silent on that?" Mr Yadav didn't take names but appeared to be hinting at Mr Lallan, the Water Resources Minister.

Dawood's Brother Was Watching KBC, Eating Biryani When Cops Picked Him Up

MMNN:19 September 2017

THANE, MAHARASHTRA: When Iqbal Ibrahim Kaskar, the brother of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, was picked up from his home in south Mumbai late on Monday, he was busy watching the "Kaun Banega Crorepati" show and eating biryani, Thane Police Commissioner Parambir Singh said today. Kaskar was picked up from the home of his sister, Haseena Parker, late on Monday by a crack team of the Thane Anti-Extortion Cell (AEC) and later placed under arrest. He will be produced before a court later today. "Iqbal Kaskar demanded four flats and Rs. 30 lakh as ransom from a builder. The names of some other builders and politicians have also emerged during the investigation," Mr Singh told reporters. The police are now examining whether the dreaded Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) can be applied to Iqbal Kaskar and his brother Dawood, believed to be in Pakistan. Mr Singh said that Iqbal Kaskar has been running the extortion racket for quite some time and on Monday night the AEC finally arrested him. The police chief said he has threatened and made extortion calls to several builders in Thane, Mumbai and Navi Mumbai.

Amit Shah Testifies In Riots Case In Which Maya Kodnani Is Accused Of Murder

MMNN:18 September 2017

BJP president Amit Shah told a Gujarat court today that he had seen Maya Kodnani, a leader of his party, in the state assembly and then at Ahmedabad's Sola Civil Hospital on the morning of February 28, 2002. Mr Shah appeared as a defence witness in a riot case in which Kodnani is accused of murdering 11 Muslims on that day in Naroda Gam, an Ahmedabad suburb. Ms Kodnani, who is a gynaecologist and was a legislator at that time, has pleaded in court that she was not in Naroda Gam when the rioting happened. She has claimed that she was in the state assembly that day and then went straight to the Sola Civil Hospital, where Amit Shah was present. She had sought that Mr Shah, who was a Gujarat legislator too then, testify to help prove her alibi. "Maya Kodnani was inside the state assembly at 8.30 am," Mr Shah told the court today, adding that he had then left the assembly and reached the hospital at about 9:30 or 9:45 am. He said he met Kodnani while leaving the hospital between 11 and 11.15 am and that they were escorted out together, after which they went their separate ways. Asked by lawyers whether he knew where Maya Kodnani was between the time that he saw her at the assembly and in the hospital, Mr Shah said he did not know. He also said he did not know where she went from the hospital. Witnesses have alleged in court that Maya Kodnani led the rioters who attacked Naroda Gam on February 28, 2002. They have said they saw her in the area between 9.30 and 10 am on that day. The judge had said last week that Amit Shah must appear today either in person or assign a lawyer to respond to Kodnani's claim that she was not present when 11 Muslims were killed during the riots in Naroda Gam. Kodnani had complained that she was unable to reach Mr Shah. Maya Kodnani is one of 79 people facing trial in the case. The Supreme Court had last month asked the Ahmedabad court to conclude trial within four months. Naroda Gam is one of nine major 2002 riots cases investigated by a Special Investigation Team appointed by the Supreme Court. In another case, Maya Kodnani was found guilty of the massacre of nearly 100 Muslims in a neighbourhood called Naroda Patiya, about 10 km from Naroda Gam, on the same day in 2002. She was sentenced to 28 years in jail, but was granted bail in 2014 after pleading that she is very unwell. Kodnani became Gujarat's Minister for Women and Child Development in 2007 and served in that post till her arrest in 2009.

Ryan school murder: SC notice to Centre, states on plea over safety of students

MMNN:15 September 2017

The Supreme Court on Friday issued notices to the Centre and state governments on a petition seeking comprehensive guidelines and a monitoring process for safety and security in schools. The top court has asked for replies to be filed in three weeks. It has also asked solicitor general to assist the court in the case related to school security. Two lawyers had moved the petition after last weeks murder of an eight-year-old inside the toilet of Ryan International School in Gurgaon. Earlier, a bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra and Justices Amitava Roy and AM Khanwilkar, said it has already issued a notice on a similar plea filed by the father of the child, who was killed at the Ryan International School. The Supreme Court earlier had issued notice to the Centre, the Haryana government and the states Director General (DG) of Police, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the CBI on a plea seeking a probe by the central agency into the murder of a seven-year-old boy inside the Ryan International School. After this, the CBSE issued a circular mentioning guidelines to be adopted by all schools for ensuring the safety of the students. The CBSE, in its circular, directed schools to install CCTV cameras, ensure police verification of staff and regulate entry of outsiders in school building

Prime Minister Modi On Bullet Train Critics Then And Now

MMNN:14 September 2017

AHMEDABAD: Critics who earlier dismissed the bullet train as "big talk" are now asking what use it is, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi today after inaugurating work on India's first bullet train in collaboration with Japan, whose Prime Minister Shinzo Abe jointly launched the project in Gujarat's Ahmedabad. "When I was in Gujarat and used to speak about the bullet train, they said Modi only talks of bullet trains in India... They kept asking when will he get it. Now that they see I have actually got the Bullet Train to India, they ask why are you getting a Bullet Train?" the Prime Minister said. "It's a new India which has to fly high," PM Modi said. He said the ambitious project would bring pace to development in the country and that no country can grow if they don't dream big. "To grow one needs to expand his dreams and decide his strength to achieve that," the Prime Minister said. The bullet train is not India's priority," said Congress leader Anand Sharma, adding that the strategic partnership between Japan and India is very important and there are more crucial issues to be discussed. "Our prime minister should not limit it to the photo opportunity and theatrics. There are serious issues on the agenda. Prime Minister Modi has misplaced the priority," Mr Sharma said. Sharp criticism also came from the BJP's Maharashtra ally Shiv Sena, which described the new bullet train project as PM Modi's "expensive dream" alleging that it will "loot the nation of Rs. 1,08,000 crore". Among the problems that the Shiv Sena listed in an article in its magazine the Saamna, is that the bullet train will have eight stops in Gujarat and only four in Maharsahtra. And that Maharashtra will "have to shell out Rs. 30,000 crore" for it. It compared the project to those launched by former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of the Congress, like the Bhakra-Nangal Dam, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and other schemes, saying, "All those projects were needed by the country. Is the bullet train a project of national importance for which such a huge amount is being spent to cover the 508-km distance at 350-kmph speed?" The bullet train, which is expected to halve the travel time between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, would be a ride for the rich, the Sena alleged, arguing that the money could've been spent to write off loans to distressed farmers. It has also asked why the bullet train project has been speeded up while existing infrastructure for the Railways is yet to be upgraded. The ally has also questioned the timing of the launch, alleging that the bullet train is aimed at giving "something new to the industrialists of Gujarat where elections are coming up shortly." The Congress has asked why Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is being hosted by the Prime Minister in Gujarat and not in national capital Delhi. "We do not want to transgress propriety by commenting on a state visit but it is rather quixotic that the Prime Minister of a country as important as Japan, who is almost India's strategic partner in many respects, is strangely not even being hosted in Delhi," aid Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari, and added that he hoped the visit is not being used for "political purposes" in view of the elections in Gujarat.

Can't Let Cat Out Of Bag': On Dawood Ibrahim, Minister VK Singh's Hint

MMNN:13 September 2017

NEW DELHI: Amid reports that the properties of India's most wanted Dawood Ibrahim have been seized by the UK government, union minister VK Singh commented today that "things are happening" but added: "We can't let the cat out of the bag". Reports say Dawood's properties worth nearly seven billion dollars have been seized by the British government. "We will not talk about Dawood at all. Certain things are happening. We can't let the cat be let out of the bag," Mr Singh told reporters in Kerala. Dawood, the mastermind of the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts in which nearly 260 were killed, appears on UK's latest list of Financial Sanctions Targets. He has been based in Pakistan's Karachi for years. He is listed as a global terrorist by the UN Security Council's ISIS and al-Qaida Sanctions Committee. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to the UK in 2015, had reportedly handed over a dossier on the terrorist and gangster to his then British counterpart David Cameron. According to the British media, Dawood owns a hotel and other residential properties in the country. Known to be one of the richest gangsters in the world, Dawood allegedly has business interests in more than a dozen countries spread over Europe, Africa and South Asia.

Cabinet Nod Soon For Rs. 75,000 Scholarship For Bright Students: HRD Minister Javadekar

MMNN:12 September 2017

NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet will soon give its nod to Rs. 75,000 monthly scholarship scheme for bright students in higher education institutes to arrest brain drain and encourage innovation, Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar today said. The scholarship, the minister said, is meant for bright sparks at institutes like IITs and universities where required infrastructure is being provided under the Vishwajeet project and Uchchatar Avishkar Yojana. "We are also starting PM Scholarship. I have already signed the Cabinet note. That is under circulations. It will come to the Cabinet very soon," Mr Javadekar said after inaugurating 'Sumant Sinha ReNew Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Energy and Environment' at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) here. The minister further said the scholarship will be for the best of the best brains who innovate. "It will be Rs. 75,000 per month scholarship, which would be given to 1,000 students (in higher education institutes and universities). Rs. 75,000 per month (per head) is not a small thing. This is happening first time in India. I want to stop the brain drain," Mr Javadekar asserted. The minister expressed hope that this will further push Make in India and help retain talent in the country. He expressed confidence that the proportion of girl students in IITs will increase to 20 per cent by 2022, from the current 8 per cent. About other initiatives, he said: "We have already started three major things on the Vishwajeet project through other agencies. The Higher Education Financing Agency is already operational. With Rs. 2,000 crore budget support, we are leveraging.... can improve debt market creating Rs. 20,000 crore or USD 3 billion. We want to push research in the higher education system." The rationale behind the CoE is to establish a world-class research and development facility to develop cutting-edge renewable energy solutions. It is expected to foster exchange of ideas among the industry, the academia and policy makers from across the world to promote faster adoption of renewable energy. Besides, it looks to offer research and internship opportunities for undergraduate, postgraduate and Ph.D students in the industry. Developing research reports on renewable energy policy also forms part of the mandate. The CoE is carrying out research in three broad fields - integration of large scale solar rooftop capacity with the electricity distribution network using battery storage technology, strengthening of the transmission grid to accommodate flow of renewable energy and development of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. Chairman and CEO, ReNew Power, Sumant Sinha told reporters that the CoE would also take up more research projects in addition to the three in-hand projects. Professor V Ramagopal Rao, Director, IIT Delhi, said: "The CoE will bring together knowledge and research on clean energy, facilitate clean energy investments, and help deploy clean energy technology solutions to establish India as a rising leader in the world of renewable energy."

Supreme Court To Decide CBI's Appeal Against Karti Chidambaram On September 18

MMNN:11 September 2017

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today fixed on September 18 the appeal of the CBI challenging the Madras High Court order staying government's look out circular against Karti Chidambaram, son of former Union Minister P Chidambaram, in a corruption case. The FIR lodged by the CBI on May 15 had alleged irregularities in Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to INX Media for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs. 305 crore in 2007 when Karti's father was the Finance Minister. A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said that its direction staying the Madras High Court order on lookout circular will remain in force in the meantime and as a result, Karti will not be able to leave India. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Karti, alleged that allegations levelled his client are baseless and challenged the probe agency to bring out the details of any property which the Chidambarams cannot account for. Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CBI, vehemently countered the submission and said that the probe was at a very crucial stage and substantial information have been given to the court in a sealed cover. The bench then fixed the matter for final disposal next Monday. On September 1, the CBI had told the top court that there were "good, cogent" reasons for issuing look out circular against Karti. On August 18, the court had asked Karti to appear before the investigating officer at the CBI headquarters here for questioning in the case. The bench had given the probe agency the liberty to question Karti as many times it wanted. Prior to this, the apex court had said that Karti would not be allowed to leave India without subjecting himself to investigation in the case. The court had then stayed the Madras High Court order putting on hold the LOC issued by the Centre against Karti. The CBI had claimed that the FDI proposal of the media house, cleared by Chidambaram, was "fallacious". The FIR was registered on May 15 before the special CBI judge here and the registration of the case was followed by searches at the residences and offices of Karti and his friends on May 16.

Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Objects To UGC Letter On Viewing PM's Speech

MMNN:9 September 2017

KOLKATA: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will deliver a special address to the nation on Monday to mark the centenary celebration of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya and 125 years of Swami Vivekananda's address at the Chicago World Parliament of Religions. The theme of the event is Young India, New India - A Resurgent Nation: From Sankalp to Siddhi. The speech will be broadcast from the Vigyan Bhavan in Delhi at 10:30 am, and the University Grants Commission or UGC, the apex body for hundreds of varsities across the country, wants all students to listen to the address. The UGC has written to all vice chancellors saying they must "provide an opportunity and facility to teachers and students to view the PM's address", which UGC chairman VS Kaushal says, "could be life changing." But the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal is not amused. "This is a clear attempt to saffronise education. They are taking decisions on their own without consulting us," West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee said, hours after he was made aware of the letter Friday. Mr Chatterjee also objected to the clubbing together of Deen Dayal Upadhyay, a politician and head of BJP's fountainhead - Bharatiya Jan Sangh - and Swami Vivekananda, a Hindu monk and philosopher seeking to raise interfaith awareness. Just last month, ahead of August 15, the Mamata Banerjee government had attacked PM Modi for sending out instructions on how to observe Independence Day in schools

Gauri Lankesh Dealt With Naxals, Why Did She Not Have Security, Asks BJP

MMNN:8 September 2017

NEW DELHI: Did the Karnataka government know of Gauri Lankesh's work to rehabilitate Naxals, and if it did, why was she not provided adequate security, union minister and senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad asked today, also attacking Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi for declaring RSS ideology guilty without an investigation having even begun into the journalist's murder. Mr Prasad said the BJP condemned Gauri Lankesh's "dastardly killing", but also attacked what he called the "hypocrisy" of liberals. "Why is it that all my liberal friends who speak so eloquently and so strongly against the killing of a journalist, perfectly so entitled to, or even maoists and naxalites, maintain a conspicuous silence when so many RSS workers are killed in Karnataka or BJP workers in Kerala?" the minister said. He asked the Congress government in Karnataka to "honestly investigate, without politics" the murders of BJP and RSS workers in the state. Rahul Gandhi, he said, had made "prejudiced and malafide" comments soon after Gauri Lankesh was shot dead at her Bengaluru home. "Even before the I of investigation could start, great leader Rahul Gandhi who always speaks without any homework, publicly alleged that the RSS and the right wing ideology is responsible... In the light of this unilateral, malafide comment, should we expect a fair investigation by the SIT of a Congress-led government (sic)? Rahul Gandhi had tweeted after Gauri Lankesh was murdered, "Anybody who speaks against the RSS/BJP is attacked & even killed. They want to impose only one ideology which is against the nature of India." Ms Lankesh, a fierce advocate of secularism and a frequent critic of right-wing ideology, was shot dead at pointblank range as she was entering her home after returning from work on Tuesday night. She worked extensively to rehabilitate Maoists as part of her Communal Harmony Forum Her family has said they believe there was no personal motive behind Ms Lankesh's murder and that she was "killed for her views." A day after her death her brother Indrajit Lankesh said Gauri Lankesh had got hate messages from Naxals. Asked yesterday if he suspected that Naxals could be behind her sister's death, he told NDTV, "It might be, it might not be. It might be the right wing extremists or it might be the Maoists because of the background." But Gauri Lankeshs sister Kavitha said she did not see a Naxal link. "I think basically...I would like to say right-wing activism because her own ideology was dead against them. I don't know, I don't know, it is not personal I know. It is basically killing a thought. They wanted to kill a thought, kill a movement. I don't want to pinpoint right now,"

Hotels-for-land scam: Lalu Yadav to appear before CBI on Sept 11, Tejashwi on Sep 12

MMNN:7 September 2017

The CBI on Thursday issued fresh summons to Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)?leader Lalu Prasad and his son Tejashwi in connection with irregularities in awarding the maintenance contract for two IRCTC hotels to a private firm during the formers tenure as the railway minister. The RJD leader has been asked to appear for questioning at the agency headquarter on September 11 and Tejashwi the next day, agency officials said It is alleged that Yadav as railway minister had handed over the maintenance of two Railways hotels BNR Ranchi and BNR Puri to Sujata Hotel, a company owned by Vinay and Vijay Kochhar, after receiving a bribe in the form of three acres of prime plot of land through a benami company. The FIR alleged that Yadav, as a railway minister, abused his official position for extending undue favours to Kochhars and acquired the high-value premium land through a benami company Delight. It alleged that Yadav, dishonestly and fraudulently, managed the award of leasing out BNRs at Ranchi and Puri to the company of Kochhars in quid pro quo transactions. Reacting to the CBI summon, RJD spokesperson Shakti Singh Yadav that the government was adopting different yardstick in dealing with Prasad and those guilty of swindling public money in the Rs 1,300 crore Srijan government fund transfer scandal in Bihar. He questioned why the Central government did not show the same alacrity in acting against the accused in the Srijan scam. He said there was no point raising brouhaha over a CBI notice to Prasad. The CBI has registered the case against Lalu Yadav, wife Rabri Devi, son Tejashwi, and Sarla Gupta, the wife of former union minister Prem Chand Gupta. Others named as accused in the FIR include Vijay Kochhar, Vinay Kochhar, both directors of Sujata Hotels and owner of Chanakya Hotel Delight marketing company, now known as Lara Projects and the then Managing Director P K Goel.

India Signs 11 Agreements With Myanmar To Bolster Ties

MMNN:6 September 2017

NAYPYIDAW: India and Myanmar today signed 11 agreements in a range of sectors, including one on maritime security cooperation, to further strengthen their multifaceted partnership. The MoUs were signed after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held wide-ranging talks with Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. India and Myanmar signed an MoU to strengthen maritime security cooperation. The two sides also signed an agreement for sharing white shipping information to improve data sharing on non-classified merchant navy ships or cargo ships. The 11 MoUs also include one between the Election Commission and Union Election of Myanmar, the national level electoral commission of Myanmar. An MoU was also signed to organise cultural exchange programme for the period 2017-2020, according to a statement issued by Ministry of External Affairs. The two countries also signed agreements on cooperation between Myanmar Press Council and Press Council of India, extension of agreement on the establishment of India-Myanmar Centre for Enhancement of IT skill. They also signed agreements to cooperate in 'Medical Products Regulation' and in the field of health and medicine. An MoU on enhancing the cooperation on upgradation of the women's police training centre at Yamethin in Myanmar was also inked. Prime Minister Modi arrived in Myanmar on the second leg of his two-nation trip during which he travelled to southeastern Chinese city Xiamen where he attended the annual BRICS summit and held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and other world leaders. This is PM Modi's first bilateral visit to Myanmar. He had visited the country in 2014 to attend the ASEAN-India Summit. Myanmar is one of India's strategic neighbours and shares a 1,640-km-long border with a number of northeastern states.

Arun Jaitley's Quip, Amit Shah's Meeting With 8 Ministers Fuel Reshuffle Buzz

MMNN:31 Aug 2017

NEW DELHI: Amid strong buzz around a cabinet reshuffle any day now, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was today asked by reporters how long he would continue as Defence Minister. "At least I hope not very long," he replied, chuckling. Mr Jaitley took on the extra job after Manohar Parrikar shifted to Goa as Chief Minister earlier this year. Sources say he is likely to shed one of the two ministries before he leaves next month for Japan, where he is to attend the annual defence ministers' conference. The possibly last major reshuffle before the 2019 national election is expected before Prime Minister Narendra Modi leaves on Sunday for a Brics summit in China. Amit Shah, the chief of the ruling BJP, has held several meetings over the past few days and today held discussions with eight ministers including Mr Jaitley. "It was about the Gujarat polls, nothing else was discussed," said minister Nirmala Sitaraman. Many expect a change in the Railways Ministry after a series of accidents. For the first time after two derailments within four days, Minister Suresh Prabhu met PM Modi and indicated that he had offered to quit but was "asked to wait". A rejig of the government has been due for months now, especially in the scenario of vacancies and shifting alliances. The ruling BJP may also accommodate leaders like Bhupendra Yadav, the in-charge of Gujarat, with an eye on elections in the state later this year. Two key ministries opened up and were re-alloted after M Venkaiah Naidu was named Vice President of India. The Environment ministry was reassigned as additional charge after the death of minister Anil Dave. The Centre is widely expected to reward Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United), which is back to sharing power with the BJP in Bihar after a dramatic break-up with Lalu Yadav's RJD and the Congress in July. Former union minister Praful Patel has denied reports that his NCP or Nationalist Congress Party will join the Modi government. "There is no basis for speculation that the NCP is joining the government in Delhi," Mr Patel tweeted on Monday. Many are not convinced after Sharad Pawar's party has been telegraphing its detachment from the Congress-led opposition. The NCP skipped a meeting of the opposition called by Sonia Gandhi earlier this month, despite Mr Pawar claiming he would depute a representative. It was speculated that Mr Pawar was upset about the Congress suggesting he had betrayed the party in the recent Rajya Sabha election in Gujarat.

ISRO sets world record, launches 104 satellites

MMNN:15 Feb. 2017

The Indian Space Research Organisation on Wednesday scripted history by successfully launching a record 104 satellites, including India's earth observation satellite, on a single rocket from the spaceport here.
This is the highest number of satellites ever launched in a single mission.
Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C37 blasted off at 9:28 am from the first launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre and first injected Cartosat-2 series satellite into orbit followed by the other 103 nano satellites, including 96 from the U.S, in a gap of about 30 minutes.
As the scientists at the Mission Control centre broke into cheers, ISRO Chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar announced: "All 104 satellites successfully placed in orbit. My hearty congratulations to the entire ISRO team for the wonderful job they have done."
Earlier, the Russian Space Agency had launched 37 satellites in one go.
ISRO had earlier launched 23 satellites in a single mission in June 2015.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Team ISRO for the successful launch.
In today's complex mission after the end of 28-hour countdown, the PSLV-C37 injected the 714 kg Cartosat-2 series satellite followed by ISRO's nano satellites INS-1A and INS-1B in an 505 km polar Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO).
This was followed by launch of the other 101 nano satellites of overseas customers in blocks in a series of separations.
INS-1A and INS-1B will carry a total of four different payloads from Space Applications Centre (SAC) and Laboratory for Electro Optics Systems (LEOS) of ISRO for conducting various experiments, ISRO said
Cartosat-2 series satellite, with a mission life of five years, will send images that would cater to coastal land use and regulation, road network monitoring, distribution of water, creation of land use maps among others
PM lauds launch
Meanwhile, ISRO chief A.S. Kiran Kumar said at the mission control centre at Sriharikota that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has congratulated the space agency team for the successful launch.
"Congratulations to @isro for the successful launch of PSLV-C37 and CARTOSAT satellite together with 103 nano satellites!," Mr. Modi said in a tweet.
"This remarkable feat by @isro is yet another proud moment for our space scientific community and the nation. India salutes our scientists," he said.



From Husband To Nephews, The Return Of All VK Sasikala's Men

CHENNAI:MMNN:15 Feb. 2017

Ahead of being jailed today, VK Sasikala executed precise action to ensure that the controls of her party, the AIADMK, will remain firmly in her clutches. Two nephews, expelled by party matriarch J Jayalalithaa in 2011 were brought back to the party by her; one of them, TTV Dinakaran, was made the party's No 2 with the title of Deputy General Secretary. Ms Sasikala retains the most powerful position of General Secretary.
As she headed in a convoy of cars to present herself in neighbouring Karnataka to be jailed, her husband, M Natarajan, who she had to publicly disown to reunite with Ms Jayalalithaa in 2012 after a falling out, spoke briefly to NDTV. "Yes, I'm in touch with Sasikala. I am going to the airport (to fly to Bangalore for Sasikala's surrender before the court)," the controversial businessman said before driving away in a grey BMW.
Ms Sasikala, a video cassette seller who also made the occasional promotional film for the AIADMK, met Ms Jayalalithaa, who had ended her blockbuster movie star career to enter politics, in the 80s. Their friendship was tested by corruption scandals, and at times, interrupted, but they always returned to each other, with Ms Jayalalithaa describing her aide as the woman who ran her house and provided her emotional support in the assertively male world of Tamil Nadu politics.
At the end of 2011, Ms Sasikala, Mr Natarajan and 12 of their relatives were ejected from the AIADMK by Ms Jayalalithaa on charges of conspiring against the party, though it was reportedly their attempt to influence administrative decisions and appointments that were a significant constituent of the large and very public estrangement. Ms Sasikala was asked to move out of Ms Jayalalithaa's bungalow in Poes Garden in Chennai. To return, months later, she had to pledge no contact with her male relatives including her husband.
When Ms Jayalalithaa died in December, his presence at the funeral, where Ms Sasikala performed the last rites, was seen by some as an audacious move. At the time, the AIADMK offered a defense. "In her moment of agony and crisis, probably Sasikala would have needed her family members around her," said V Maitreyan, a parliamentarian, who has since turned on Ms Sasikala in a feud over who should be Chief Minister now.
It is in no small measure that Ms Sasikala's family intertwined with Ms Jayalalithaa. The Supreme Court yesterday found Ms Sasikala guilty of conspiring with Ms Jayalalithaa during the politician's first term as Chief Minister in the early 90s to illegally build a fortune that included prized real estate. Ms Sasikala's sister-in-law, Ilavarasi, and her nephew, TTV Sudhakaran, were also found convicted. All three are sentenced to four years in prison In 1995, Mr Sudhakaran's wedding, an uninhibited parade of money, thousands of guests, hundreds of elephants and chefs, and saris and jewelry, turned into a sinkhole for Ms Jayalalithaa, who had adopted him as her foster son. The scale of the arrangements impelled protests and court cases, alleging that Ms Jayalalithaa had abused her office at Chief Minister. She was famously photographed with Ms Sasikala in identical silk saris, laden with gold, including matching waistbands. The politician disowned Mr Sudhkaran a year later, when she was also voted out.
It is Mr Sudharakan's brother who has been given made the party's deputy chief today. Justifying his return two months after Ms Jayalalithaa's death, Ms Sasikala said he had "apologized in writing and in person". The other nephew who's back in the AIADMK fold is Dr S Venkatesh.
Ms Sasikala's family, disparagingly dubbed "the Mannargudi mafia" after their hometown, was one of the reasons why public anger surged when the AIADMK revealed it had picked her to replace O Panneerselvam as Chief Minister about 10 days ago. Online campaigns like #SasiakalaNotMyCM also ridiculed the positioning of a political novice for the state's top job.
With Mr Panneerselvam refusing to surrender office, Ms Sasikala has nominated loyalist and minister E Palaniswamy as the AIADMK's presumptive Chief Minister. It's now up to Gvoernor C Vidyasagar Rao to decide who should be given the chance to prove a majority in the legislature, when, and how.



PM Modi Refers To Rajiv Gandhi In Attack On Congress Over Notes Ban

NEW DELHI: MMNN:19 Dec. 2016

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed supporters at a rally in Uttar Pradesh's Kanpur. Here are the highlights:
>>There is a strong desire for change in Uttar Pradesh.
>>I don't just see the winds of change. I see a storm for change.
>>If the youth of Uttar Pradesh come together, then nothing can stop India from progressing.
>>Countries with youthful populations progress at a much faster pace.
>>India has a majority of its population under the age of 35 and this will increase further. Our youth is our biggest strength and will carry India to new heights.
>>Energy projects have been set up to improve the lives of those in remote areas.
>>Others political parties are busy with their own worries and troubles. They don't have time for the people.
>>Today, you have a government at the Centre which is dedicated to the poor of this country.
>>We are fighting black money and corruption. We are doing all we can to make a better India.
>>Our agenda is stop corruption, stop black money. But others have an agenda of 'Stop Parliament'.
>>Despite the President of the country telling them to do their job and let Parliament function, they continued to disrupt Parliament.
>>For the first time, the country has seen a government dedicated to punish the corrupt.
>>The opposition parties were seen protecting the corrupt.
>>Those with the habit of malpractice and cheating people of this country will not be allowed to get away anymore.
>>It is time for Uttar Pradesh to change along with the rest of the country. That will be possible only when you vote for change.
>>In the All-Party meeting, I told every party that India wants to move towards honesty.
>>I urged every leader to come together and work towards this.
>>I had said earlier that elections (Lok Sabha and Assembly Polls) are held separately, thereby adding a lot of monetary strain. It also allowed a space for black money to make its way into the system.
>>We should work towards having simultaneous elections for the Centre and the state.
>>We must win the fight we've started against black money, counterfeit money and corruption.
>>People of Uttar Pradesh are tired of Goondaism.
>>Unaccountable, corruption and doing as they please - this is the functioning style of the Congress.
>>I am happy to say that barring 70-72 villages out of 1600-odd villages, all others have got electricity.
>>These 70-odd villages will also get electricity soon. This was not done in all these years by those who ruled for so many years.
>>You all know how difficult it was to get a gas cylinder connection. Now that process has become so simple.
>>We have stopped the misuse of urea by the corrupt and have ensured that farmers get their due share.
>>There is a constant surveillance and monitoring being done at all banks. You can see for yourself how many corrupt people are being caught everyday from across the country.
>>Did you ever see so many corrupt people being caught before? The proof of who is acting against black money and corruption is in front of you.
>>I said this earlier and today I am repeating myself: The difficulties you all have faced over the last month will go away very soon.
>>The situation is improving towards normalcy with each passing day.
>>Starting December 25, every day, the government will give Rs. 1,000 to 15,000 people using e-payments - 15,000 new people every day.
>>That means, once someone gets it, they cannot get it a second time. This will happen every day for 100 days.
>>Small traders will be the beneficiaries of this. Digital transactions will put an end to black money.
>>The people of India came together - 125 crore people came together for honesty.
>>No matter how much one praises, it won't be enough for the great people of India. This is not a success for a Prime Minister, or a success for any political party. It is a success, a win for the people of India.


To end black money in political funding, Modi govt must do more than blame old law

NEW DELHI: MMNN:19 Dec. 2016

On Saturday, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley embarked on a spree of damage control mode by issuing a statement on the Narendra Modi government's stance on political funding and black money. Political parties have not been granted any exemption after demonetisation and the introduction of Taxation Laws (Second Amendment) Act, 2016 which came into force on 15 December, said Jaitley.
He added: "Income and donations of political parties fall under the purview of Section 13A of the Income Tax Act 1961 and there is no change in its provisions. In this era of instant outrage, a 35-year-old law is presented as a new law being passed by the NDA Government."
This statement came in response to media reports and a political storm brewing among certain Opposition parties after the revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia said, "If it is a deposit in the account of political parties, they are exempt. But if it is deposited in any individual account, in anyone's account, that information will definitely come on our radar."
Adhia's statement drew immediate media and political attention in the context of the ongoing demonetisation exercise. The plan, originally announced on 8 November gives time to deposit old, invalidated Rs 500, Rs 1,000 currency notes in banks till 30 December (in bank branches) and 31 March (at Reserve Bank of India counters).
Going by Adhia's statement, political parties could have deposited any amount without paying taxes or facing any investigations. Hence, the possibility opens up for tax cheats to approach a registered political party to make their loot legit with an understanding that the money will be returned at a later date - with a cut going into the pocket of the agent (in this case, the political party).
Under the current rules, no political outfit needs to show the source of funds for cash donations under Rs 20,000. Hence, parties have a logical opportunity to show a majority of their deposits under this category by creating thousands of backdated receipts and can, thus, launder black money with no questions asked. Typically, political parties do not even keep receipts for donations.
According to an analysis of political funding by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) in the past few years, around 75 percent of such funding in India remains opaque and falls in the anonymous donation category.
Here, we have a serious problem.
Political parties have a clear option to print backdated receipts and launder black money. This is a major hole in the implementation of demonetisation, one of the main goals of which is to unearth the black money in the system. What the finance minister clarified in his carefully-worded statement on Saturday is absolutely true to every word. Exemption to political parties is not a law that was created by the Modi government. This is a law that has been in existence for a while.
But, there are few things of which the government has to take note:
First, whether the law is old or new, the fact is that political parties presently enjoy a big loophole to make their black money white openly. They do enjoy immunity from paying tax and tax scrutiny/prosecution if these outfits show that money came through small donations. This is what Adhia probably meant and what the finance minister reiterated in his statement when he said that the income and donations of political parties "fall in the purview of Section 13A of the Income Tax Act of 1961" and that "there is no change in its provisions".
The question is given that the Modi government has waged an all-out attack on black money, shouldn't it have plugged this loop hole before demonetising 86 percent of the currency in circulation, risking serious economic and social repercussions? The government managed to amend the income tax law for individuals, why didn't it expand the purview for political parties? The demand of the Election Commission, seeking an amendment of laws to allow exemption from tax only to parties that win seats in elections and ban anonymous contributions of Rs 2,000 and above to parties, should be an eye opener to the Modi government and prompt it to ponder over the holes in the black money war plan.
Second, it is true that under Section 13A of the I-T Act, political parties have to submit audited accounts, income and expenditure details, and balance sheets as Jaitley says in the clarification. The finance minister also says that following demonetisation, no political party can accept donations in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes since they were rendered illegal tender. Any party doing so would be in violation of the law. "Just like anyone else, political parties can also deposit their cash held in the old currency in banks till 30 December, provided they can satisfactorily explain the source of income and their books of accounts reflect the entries prior to 8 November," he said.
Here, isn't Jaitley himself giving a clue to political parties how to deal with their black money - that parties can still take invalidated higher denomination currency notes (including those from black money hoarders for a decent cut) and make thousands of backdated receipts to show the funds arrived before the cut-off date?
If the parties choose to act as conduits of ill-gotten wealth, isn't it almost impossible for the government and taxman to track down the tax cheats?
Third, at a time when the Modi government is aggressively pushing for electronic transactions (cashless), why is the government silent on making political funding can't be made cashless including that of the ruling party? According to PTI, there are 1,866 registered political parties in India as on August, 2015, including six national parties. Many of them haven't even contested elections. There has been a rush for registration of political parties, with as many as 239 new outfits enrolling themselves with the Election Commission between March 2014 and July this year, taking their number to 1,866.
According to data compiled by the EC, in the last Lok Sabha election in 2014, 464 political parties had fielded candidates. The present figure could be much more than 1,866 since 2015, many more parties would have joined the club. Political parties get massive donations from individuals and institutions. They need funds for those who contest elections from their parties and spend substantial funds on administrative, functional expenses. There are no official records for most of these transactions. The possibility of crooks launching political parties solely with the aim of laundering funds is high.
Four, what prevents the government from asking banks details of deposits done by political parties in the months prior to demonetisation (remember the sharp surge in bank deposits between July and September) and after 8 November, including those of the BJP and thereby, setting an example? Asking party members to hand over details of bank deposits to party president alone wouldn't suffice if clean transparency is the goal. Given the radical nature of the demonetisation exercise and considering that banning 86 percent currency in one go isn't a conventional step, the government shouldn't hesitate in going the whole hog to attack all sources of black money. Unarguably, the most critical part of the black money battle is tackling political funding, which is missing here.
Jaitley's clarification that the I-T Act that protects politicians is an old law and the Modi government had nothing to do with it is not a valid argument
It was the responsibility of this government to plug the necessary loop holes before attempting a big gamble to hunt tax cheats, who have been looting the country. The government should have foreseen that crooks will think far ahead and use one of the 1866 political parties as black money laundering machines to make a mockery of the system. If that happens, isn't the pain and trauma forced up on the common man who has, by far, stood by the Modi government on this move going in vain?
When it comes to political funding and black money, the Modi govt could surely do much more than blaming an old law and hoping tax cheats will follow the rules of the game.


Pranab Mukherjee blasts a disrupted Parliament: 'For God's sake, do your job'

NEW DELHI:MMNN:8 Dec. 2016

President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday ripped into Parliamentarians over the continued logjam in both Houses and said "For God's sake, do your job."
Ever since the winter session of Parliament began on November 16, both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha have been repeatedly adjourned, as both ruling and opposition MPs have squabbled over PM Narendra Modi's November 8 decision to scrap high value currency notes.
The President is having none of it.
"For God's sake, do your job. You are meant to transact business in Parliament. Disruption of Parliament is not acceptable at all," Pranab Mukherjee said.
Delivering the Defence Estate Day Lecture 2016 on "Reforms for a stronger Democracy", the President said people send their representatives to Parliament to work for the country and not to agitate.He said he was concerned that disruption of parliamentary work has become a "practice".
"Dharnas can be organised anywhere else," he said, and urged MPs to debate and discuss issues of public importance in Parliament.
Just yesterday, BJP stalwart LK Advani, too, criticised MPs for holding up Pariamentary proceedings.
Proceedings in the Lok Sabha were disrupted for the 15th consecutive day today as the Opposition continued to engage in sloganeering demanding a debate on demonetisation under a rule that entails voting.
As soon as the House assembled, the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge wanted to raise an issue but Speaker Sumitra Mahajan did not allow him to and started Question Hour.
This prompted members belonging to the Congress, Trinamool Congress and theLeft parties to rush into the Well demanding a discussion on the scrapping of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes.
As Mahajan refused to concede to the demand, Opposition members raised slogans. As the din refused to die down, an upset Speaker warned the protesting MPs to not disturb the entire House through their protests. Members belonging to Samajwadi Party and the NCP extended their support to their opposition counterparts by standing in the aisles along their seats.
"What is this? I am warning you. Please, please, I am repeatedly telling you if you want to debate, debate. But don't disturb the whole House," she said.
Amid the continued din, the Speaker took up five questions before adjourning the House for nearly 20 minutes till noon.
With both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha adjourned for the day without transacting any significant business, the logjam therefore continued.



'Personal law not above Constitution': Read Allahabad HC observation on Triple Talaq

New Delhi:MMNN:8 Dec. 2016

The Allahabad High Court on Thursday called the practice of triple talaq among Muslims as 'unconstitutional'. Saying that no personal law board is above the Constitution, the court held that triple talaq violates the fundamental rights of Muslim women.
Here is the operative part of Allahabad High Court's observation:
The question which disturbs the Court is should muslim wives suffer this tyranny for all times? Should their personal law remain so cruel towards these unfortunate wives? Whether the personal law can be amended suitably to alleviate their sufferings? The judicial conscience is disturbed at this monstrosity. The first wife has to live life for no fault of her but for the reason that her husband got attracted to a lady half of her age which is the reason for being divorced. The view that the Muslim husband enjoys an arbitrary, unilateral power to inflict evil instant divorce does not accord with Islamic injunctions.
It is a popular fallacy that a Muslim male enjoys, under the Quaranic Law, unbridled authority to liquidate the marriage. The whole Quoran expressly forbids a man to seek pretexts for divorcing his wife, so long as she remains faithful and obedient to him. The Islamic law gives to the man primarily the faculty of dissolving the marriage, if the wife, by her indocility or her bad character, renders the married life unhappy; but in the absence of serious reasons, no man can justify a divorce, either in the eye of religion or the law. If he abandons his wife or puts her away in simple caprice, he draws upon himself the divine anger, for the curse of God, said the Prophet, rests on him who repudiates his wife capriciously. In other Islamic State, where the husband must satisfy the court about the reasons for divorce.
However, Muslim law, as applied in India, has taken a course contrary to the spirit of what the Prophet or the Holy Quoran laid down and the same misconception vitiates the law dealing with the wife's right to divorce. The divorce is permissible in Islam only in cases of extreme emergency. When all efforts for effecting a reconciliation have failed, the parties may proceed to a dissolution of the marriage by 'Talaq' or by 'Khola'. The statement that "the whimsical and capricious divorce by the husband is good in law, though bad in theology" cannot be approved as the correct law. The correct law of talaq as ordained by the Holy Quran is that talaq must be for a reasonable cause and be preceded by attempts at reconciliation between the husband and the wife by two arbiters- one from the wife's family and the other from the husband's; if the attempts fail, talaq may be effected.
(Ref: Pathayi v. Moideen 1968 KLT 763; A. Yousuf Rawther Vs. Sowramma, AIR 1971 Kerala 261; referred to with approval by the Supreme Court in Shamim Ara vs State Of U.P. & another : 2002 (7) SCC 518). The decision in Shamim Ara was rendered in 2002, wherein, the observation of the Division Bench judgment of the Kerala High Court was noticed and approved, which was rendered 20-30 years before.
Country has in recent times marched steps ahead in all walks of life including progressive interpretation of laws which cannot be lost sight of except by compromising with regressive trends.... "Law is dynamic and its meaning cannot be pedantic but purposeful." (Refer-- Bai Tahira Vs. Ali Hussain AIR 1979 SC 362).
The purpose of Law in a modern secular State based upon the Constitution is to bring about social change. The muslim community comprise a large percentage of Indian population, therefore, a large section of citizen, in particularly women, cannot be left to themselves to be governed by archaic customs and social practise under the garb of personal law purportedly having divine sanction. The women of the community continue to suffer bias, deprived of the protection, they should otherwise get through provisions in the Constitution that provide for equality and non discrimination.
India is a nation in the making, geographical boundaries alone do not define a nation. It is to be adjudged, amongst others, on the parameter of overall human development and how the society in particular treat their women; leaving such a large population to the whims & fancy of personal law which perpetuate gender inequality and is regressive, is not in the interest of society and the country. It impedes and drags India from becoming a nation. The instant divorce (Triple Talaq) though has been deprecated and not followed by all sects of muslim community in the country, however, is a cruel and the most demeaning form of divorce practised by the muslim community at large. Women cannot remain at the mercy of the patriarchal setup held under the clutches of sundry clerics having their own interpretation of the holy Quoran. Personal laws, of any community, cannot claim supremacy over the rights granted to the individuals by the Constitution.
I would not like to say anything further for the reason that the Supreme Court is seized with the matter.
In Shamim Ara, a statement merely made in the pleadings "written statement" though unsubstantiated that the wife was divorced upon delivering copy of the written statement, was not accepted by the Supreme Court and the subsequent marriage contracted by the husband was held void.
In the facts and circumstances of the present case, the petition stands dismissed. The legality of the marriage/divorce and rights of parties is kept open.



PM Narendra Modi wins TIME Magazine's Person Of The Year - Reader's Poll

NEW DELHI: MMNN:5 Dec. 2016

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on Monday declared as the winner of TIME Magazine's Person Of The Year - Reader's Poll.
According to TIME Magazine, Modi won with 18 per cent of the vote when the poll closed Sunday at midnight. TIME Magazine's Person Of The Year will be announced on December 7, and is selected by TIME Magazine editors.
"He (Modi) placed well ahead of his closest contenders, including Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Julian Assange, who all received seven per cent of the "yes" vote. Modi was also placed far ahead of other prominent figures of this year, like Mark Zuckerberg (two per cent) and Hillary Clinton (four per cent).
It is for the second time that Modi has won the online readers' poll for Time Person of the Year title, securing the honour in 2014, when he had got more than 16 per cent of the almost five million votes cast.
For the fourth year in a row, Modi is among the contenders for Time's 'Person of the Year' honour, which the US publication bestows every year to the one "who has most influenced the news and our world in the past year, for good or ill".
Last year German Chancellor Angela Merkel was Time's 'Person of the Year'.
This year's poll was conducted in partnership with Opentopic and IBM's Watson, thereby assisting TIME editors to see how candidates were influential on the Internet.



Nagrota: Militants gained entry from forest behind Army camp

NEW DELHI: MMNN:5 Dec. 2016

The militants who attacked the Army camp at Nagrota in Jammu and Kashmir, had entered the premises from the forest area in its rear, official sources said today.
The sources claimed that the militants used the forest area located behind the Army camp to gain entry. The area has barbed wire and a small wall, they said.
Two Indian Army officers and five jawans were killed in an eight-hour long gun battle at the military camp near the Army's 16 Corps headquarters in Nagrota on November 29.
Three militants were also neutralised in the attack.
The Army unit is located just three kms from the Corps Headquarters at Nagrota.
A statement by the Army soon after the attack had said that the terrorists forced their way into the Officers Mess complex by throwing grenades and firing at the sentries.
However, Army chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag said on the sidelines of an event that the incident was under investigation and a final report will clarify everything.



PM Modi sits in Rajya Sabha even during adjournment, chats with MPs

NEW DELHI: MMNN:1 Dec. 2016

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday remained seated in the Rajya Sabha even during an adjournment of 15 minutes as members from various political parties, including some from the opposition, were seen going to his seat to exchange pleasantries or for a chit-chat.
Amid opposition demand for the presence of Modi through the debate on demonetisation , the Prime Minister reached the Upper House shortly before the Question Hour at 12:00 hours. Questions relating to Prime Minister's Office were listed to be taken up on Thursday.
However, the House was adjourned after about 15 minutes till 12:29pm.
During this adjournment, Modi remained seated in the House and so were most of the members from both treasury as well as opposition benches. Cinestar-turned politician Jaya Bachchan (SP) went to the Prime Minister and was seen exchanging pleasantries. She was followed by AIADMK members and a Left MP.
Renowned boxer and member Mary Kom was also seen discussing certain things with Modi. As members kept meeting him, there were some lighter moments too, as the Prime Minister was seen smiling at times.
Rajya Sabha remains paralysed
As Chairman Hamid Ansari called for the first question of the day at noon, leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said while the Prime Minister has been addressing his party MPs in Parliament House and even speaking outside, the opposition parties have been demanding his presence during the debate on demonetisation issue.
"We had been demanding for last 15 days (presence of PM). ...We are against black money. We want to speak on this issue but with whom? Our anguish is that the Prime Minister is holding weekly meetings with his MPs in Parliament House. He is also speaking outside. Our demand is that the Prime Minister should be here and listen to us," Azad said.
When the senior Congress leader also alleged that the PM has remarked that the opposition parties support black money holders and said it was a "big allegation", BJP members protested the remark.
Law and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu insisted that the House should continue with the debate on demonetisation, which started on November 16, the first day of the Winter session.
Ansari also said that the debate has not been concluded and called the listed speaker A U Singh Deo (BJD) to start.
Sharad Yadav (JDU) said he too agreed that the debate should continue, but it "cannot be one-way traffic" and demanded that the Prime Minister should remain seated in the House all through the discussion.
"Why are you assuming that he (PM) will not participate," Ansari asked the opposition member.
As Singh Deo rose to put forth his points on demonetisation, Congress members started raising slogans like "Pradhan Mantri Mafi Maango (PM should apologise)" from the aisles.
Naidu said the Prime Minister is here and the unfinished debate should be resumed. However amid din, the House was adjourned for 15 minutes.
When it reassembled at 12.29pm, Congress members were again on their feet raising slogans as BJD member started the debate.
Amid noisy scenes, Deo said, "We support any move taken by the Government of India for corruption and black money."
But as the sloganeering continued, Ansari adjourned the House till 2pm.
However, when the Rajya Sabha resumed proceedings again after 2pm, opposition members kept raising slogans, leading to adjournment of the Upper House for the day.


Delhi High Court quashes government ban on over 300 medicines like Corex, Saridon

NEW DELHI:MMNN:1 Dec. 2016

The Delhi High Court today set aside a government notification that had banned 344 fixed dose combination medicines. The decision has brought major relief to the country's pharmaceutical industry.
The ban, notified on March 10, affected around 6,000 medicine brands, including several popular ones like Corex, Phensedyl, Saridon and Vicks Action 500 Extra. The banned combinations belonged to several therapeutic areas like cough and cold syrups, respiratory formulations and even topical dermatological medicines.
Drug makers immediately challenged the ban at high courts across the country, with Delhi receiving over 450 petitions asking for a stay on the decision. Pfizer was the first to get interim relief from the Delhi court for its cough syrup 'Corex'.
Glenmark, Procter & Gamble, Abbott, Sanofi, Wockhardt, Cipla, Lupin and Dr Reddy's also figure among the hundreds of petitioners that opposed the ban.
Justice RS Endlaw, who heard the cases from March to June, allowed their petitions. According to legal experts, this means the government's notification has been quashed.
The decision may have had a positive impact on pharma stocks--at 11:46am, the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) Healthcare index was up 0.69% over its previous closing.
A fixed dose combination (FDC) is a cocktail drug that contains two or more therapeutic ingredients packed in a single dose.
Over 2,000 FDCs exist in India, according to government sources. Among other reasons, FDCs are desirable here for their effectiveness in treating many symptoms of illness at a lower cost than two or more separate medicines.
The central drug regulator had undertaken an exercise to weed out FDCs that were not approved elsewhere in the world or not required in India due to better existing alternatives. It had argued that it banned these 344 combinations for public health safety reasons after an expert committee headed by Chandrakant Kokate found them to be "irrational".
Companies, on the other hand, argued that their brands had been in the market for decades, with some even producing no objection certificates (NOCs) granted by the central drug regulator for their combinations.
Before this judgment, the government had moved a petition at the Supreme Court to transfer all FDC-related matters being heard in the country so that they could be clubbed and heard afresh. The apex court isexpected to make a decision on whether to accept or reject these petitions this Friday.


Demonetisation: Manmohan Singh's full speech in Rajya Sabha

NEW DELHI: MMNN:24 Nov. 2016

Calling it a ‘monumental mismanagement', former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said that the demonetisation of high value currency notes has caused great distress to the common man of the country. He remarked that the GDP of the country could shrink by 2 percentage-points due to the way it has been implemented.
Here is the full text of Manmohan Singh's full speech in Rajya Sabha:
I rise to highlight some of the problems that have risen after the decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes.
Prime Minister has been arguing that this is the way to curb black money, to prevent growth of forfeiture currency notes and also to help in control of terrorist finance activities. I do not disagree with these objectives. But I do want to point out this that in the process of demonetisation monumental mismanagement has been undertaken about which today there is no two opinions in the country as a whole. Even those who say that this measure will do harm or cause distress in the short term but be in the interests of the country in the long run should be reminded of what John Keynes said once," In the long run all of us are dead."
And therefore, it is important to take note of grievances of the ordinary people who have suffered as a result of this imposition on the country overnight by the Prime Minister.
And I say so with all responsibilities, that we do not know what will be the final outcome.
Prime Minister has said that we should wait for 50 days. Well 50 days is a short period. But for those who are poor and from the deprived sections of the society even 50 days torture can bring about disastrous effects. And that's why about 60 to 65 people have lost their lives, maybe more. And what has been done can weaken and erode our people's confidence in the currency system and in the banking system.
I would like to know from the Prime Minister the name of any country he may think of where people have deposited their money in the banks but they are not allowed to withdraw their money. This alone,I think, is enough to condemn what has been done in the name of greater good of the people of the country.
And Sir, I would further like to point out that in my opinion that the way the scheme has been implemented will hurt agricultural growth in our country, will hurt small industry, will hurt all those people who are in the informal sector of the economy. And my own feeling is that the national income, that is the GDP, can decline by about 2 per cent as a result of what has been done. This is an underestimate, not an overestimate. Therefore, I feel that the Prime Minister must come up with some constructive proposal on how we can implement this scheme and at the same time prevent this distress that has been caused to the common people.
It is no good that everyday the banking system comes with modification of the rules, the conditions under which the people can withdraw money. That reflects very poorly on the Prime Minister's office, on the Finance Minister's office and on the Reserve Bank of India. I am very sorry that the Reserve Bank of India has been exposed to this sort of criticism which I think is fully justified.
I, therefore, would not like to say much more than this. I urge upon the Prime Minister to find practical, pragmatic ways and means to relieve the distress of the people who happen to be a great majority. After all, 90 per cent of our people work in the informal sector, 55 per cent of our workers in agriculture are reeling in distress. The cooperative banking system which serves large number of people in the rural areas is non-functional and has been prevented from handling cash. So, in all these measures convince me that the way this scheme has been implemented is a monumental management failure, and in fact, it is a case of organised loot, legalised plunder of the common people.
With these words, sir, I conclude. It is not my intention to pick holes in what one side does or another side does. But I sincerely hope that the Prime Minister will view that this late hour will help us to find practical, pragmatic ways and means to provide relief to the suffering of the people of this country. Thank you.


Karunanidhi asks DMK cadre to participate in protest against demonetisation

CHENNAI: MMNN:24 Nov. 2016

DMK president M Karunanidhi on Thursday asked the party cadre to participate in a nationwide protest on November 28 against demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes.
"It has been 16 days since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetisation. Still many people are standing in queues outside ATMs and banks to either withdraw money or to exchange invalid notes," said Karunanidhi in a statement.
He said more than 70 people had died standing in queues outside ATMs and banks. "Opposition parties have called for a nationwide protest on November 28 to condemn demonetisation.
I request party cadre and public to join the protest and raise their voice against the BJP government," Karunanidhi said.
Meanwhile, DMK treasurer and leader of the opposition M K Stalin asked why the AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu had not set up a lokayukta."The Supreme Court has asked the Centre why it has not set up lokayukta. The same question is applicable in the case of Tamil Nadu government too," Stalin said in a statement.