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Heroin trade strained India-UK relations in 1980s: UK files

India’s reluctance to allow Britain to position British officers in New Delhi and Mumbai to monitor illegal heroin trade in the 1980s strained India-UK relations, according to newly-released UK cabinet files.Then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s government believed that “illicit heroin movement from India” was at an “all-time peak” and wanted her Indian counterpart Rajiv Gandhi to agree to two British Drug Liaison Officers (DLOs) to be appointed in India.However, Gandhi resisted until India had received information of its own on offenders seeking refuge in the UK, according to newly declassified documents in the National Archives. In contrast, Pakistan under President Zia-ul-Haq seemed more receptive to Britain’s requests with DLOs placed in Karachi and Islamabad happy with “effective steps to tackle the problem of heroin production”.”The evidence was that Pakistan was getting on top of the drug production problem,” a letter to Downing Street dated December 4, 1985, noted following a visit by then UK health minister David Mellor to Pakistan.It went on to warn of the problem shifting to India, saying “Mr Mellor believed that, as drug controls were increased in Pakistan, and particularly at Karachi Airport, much of the traffic was now taking the land route to India”.”This would inevitably have an impact on the extent of heroin used and production in India itself. India might replace Afghanistan and Pakistan as the major world supplier,” it said. Mellor was concerned about delays in securing India’s agreement to the secondment of two Customs officers. Following a telegram from Thatcher questioning the reason for the delay, Gandhi responded “I feel that there is a communication gap somewhere. We are determined to combat the drug menace with every resource at our command. We had readily agreed, in principle, to British drug liaison presence in India.”We have an equally pressing problem in relation to economic and commercial offenders, who operate from or seek foreign sanctuaries. Our Parliament and people continue to be exercised on what is perceived to be lack of adequate action against such offenders,” Gandhi wrote.Britain finally got its way and Hartley Booth, an adviser to Thatcher, confirmed the success in a memo dated November 28, 1986, “After 31 approaches from officials and FCO (Foreign & Commonwealth Office) ministers during the last 15 months, India relented on November 20 and accepted the appointment of two drugs liaison officers from the United Kingdom to India”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

India PM in surprise Pakistan visit

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi lands in Pakistan on a surprise visit to meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif.

Learning from India? Now Pakistan wants Queen Elizabeth to give them the Kohinoor

“The diamond became part of the crown of incumbent Queen Elizabeth-II at the time of her crowing in 1953. Queen Elizabeth has no right on the Kohinoor diamond, which weighs 105 carats and worth billions of rupees,” he said. “Kohinoor diamond was cultural heritage of Punjab province and its citizens owned it in fact,” Jaffry said.

Crown Jewel

A petition has been filed in a Pakistani court asking the government to bring back Kohinoor diamond, the world famous precious stone which India has been trying to get from the UK. Barrister Javed Iqbal Jaffry alleged in his petition to the Lahore High Court that the UK snatched the diamond from Daleep Singh, grandson of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh, and took it to Britain. “The diamond became part of the crown of incumbent Queen Elizabeth-II at the time of her crowing in 1953. Queen Elizabeth has no right on the Kohinoor diamond, which weighs 105 carats and worth billions of rupees,” he said. “Kohinoor diamond was cultural heritage of Punjab province and its citizens owned it in fact,” Jaffry said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He asked the court to direct federal government to bring the diamond to Pakistan from the British government. The Kohinoor was mined in medieval times in the Kollur mine in Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur district. At one time it was considered the largest diamond in the world. The diamond was originally owned by the Kakatiya Dynasty, which had installed it in a temple of a Hindu goddess as her eye. Reportedly, in 1849, after the conquest of the Punjab by the British forces, the properties of the Sikh Empire were confiscated. The Kohinoor was transferred to the treasury of the British East India Company in Lahore. The properties of the Sikh Empire were taken as war compensations. It passed through the hands of various invaders and was finally appropriated by the British during the Raj. Today the diamond is a part of the Crown of Queen Elizabeth II. India has been long demanding the return of Kohinoor which was owned by several Mughal emperors and Maharajas before being seized by the British. India says that Kohinoor was illegally acquired and wants it returned along with other treasures looted during colonial rule. When Queen Elizabeth II made a state visit to India marking the 50th anniversary of independence in 1997, many Indians in India and Britain demanded the return of the diamond. British Indian MP Keith Vaz had called for the return of ‘Kohinoor’ diamond to India ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the UK in November.

British parliament votes to bomb Islamic State in Syria | Reuters

LONDON Britain’s parliament voted on Wednesday to launch bombing raids against Islamic State in Syria, supporting Prime Minister David Cameron’s case that the country needs to help destroy militants who are “plotting to kill us”.

After more than 10 hours of tense debate, lawmakers voted in favour of air strikes, by 397 to 223. British Tornado GR4 bombers could leave an air base in Cyprus within hours to launch the country’s latest military action in the Middle East.

Given Britain’s diminished role on the world stage, the victory hands Cameron the chance to restore Britain’s standing in global affairs. He had urged lawmakers not to turn their back on allies such as France in their time of need.

“Britain is safer tonight because of the decision that the House of Commons has taken,” Foreign Minister Philip Hammond told Sky News.

Many British voters are wary of being dragged into another war in the Middle East. Some view Western intervention in Iraq and Libya as a failure that sowed chaos across the region and the news of the vote was met by howls of disgust by dozens of anti-war protesters demonstrating outside parliament.

But the Nov. 13 attacks on Paris that killed 130 people and were claimed by Islamic State have stiffened the resolve of some lawmakers and divided the opposition Labour Party, which convinced Cameron he could win the support of parliament for extending air strikes beyond Iraq.

Cameron said the more than four-year Syrian civil war could not be resolved by military action alone, but that the strikes would “degrade” Islamic State militants – which he said should be called Daesh.

Daesh is the pejorative word used by opponents or people who do not support Islamic State to refer to the jihadist group.

“These terrorists are plotting to kill us and to radicalise our children right now. They attack us because of who we are, not because of what we do,” Cameron told a packed House of Commons, where many lawmakers sat on steps or stayed standing.

“The question is this: do we work with our allies to degrade and destroy this threat, and do we go after these terrorists in their heartlands, from where they are plotting to kill British people, or do we sit back and wait for them to attack us?”

Germany’s parliament is also expected to vote on Friday in favour of joining the campaign against Islamic State, although only to provide military support for air strikes, not actually to take part in them.

CALL TO ARMS

British air strikes are unlikely to change the military balance, given the United States is already involved, but the vote handed Cameron the chance to show Britain’s willingness to add to a Western consensus for taking the battle to militants in Syria.

Cameron said high-precision, laser-guided Brimstone missiles would help to make a real difference by hitting the de facto Islamic State capital of Raqqa and its oil-trading business.

France and the United States are already bombing Islamist militants in Syria, while Russia has bombed mainly other rebels, according to conflict monitors and Western officials, in an intervention launched on Sept. 30 to bolster its ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The West says Assad must go.

The vote also boosts Cameron after he suffered a humiliating 2013 parliamentary defeat over plans to bomb Assad’s forces.

But it is a blow to the leader of Britain’s main opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, who was against launching the air strikes.

Corbyn, a veteran anti-war campaigner who argued the bombing would be ineffective and kill civilians, was forced to allow his lawmakers to vote according to their conscience in order to quell a rebellion in his party over the military action.

Corbyn had hoped media reports that Cameron told Conservative lawmakers at a meeting late on Tuesday not to vote with the Labour leader “and a bunch of terrorist sympathisers” would harden opposition to the action.

But many of his party voted with the prime minister, a move which may bring into question Corbyn’s leadership.

The British public is divided over launching the strikes, with a YouGov opinion poll showing voter support for action in Syria had fallen to the lowest level since September 2014, with 48 percent of respondents supporting strikes and 31 percent against.

Those opposed to air strikes recalled the events of 2003 when Britain helped the United States to invade Iraq after asserting – wrongly, as it later turned out – that dictator Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

Julian Lewis, Conservative chairman of the Commons Defence Committee and a critic of extending air strikes to Syria, said the government was in denial about the effectiveness of bombing without deploying viable ground troops.

Lewis compared Cameron’s assertion that there are as many as 70,000 moderate opposition fighters in Syria with the “dodgy dossier” on Iraq’s military capabilities.

“Instead of dodgy dossiers, we now have bogus battalions of moderate fighters,” he said.

(Additional reporting by William James, William Schomberg and Stephen Addison; Writing by Guy Faulconbridge and Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Mark Heinrich, Ruth Pitchford and Frances Kerry)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Peter Mukerjea’s CBI custody extended: Agency accuses him of ‘deliberately concealing facts’

Mumbai: A special court here on Monday extended till Thursday the CBI custody of Peter Mukerjea, former media tycoon and one of the four prime accused in the Sheena Bora murder case.

The CBI also accused him of “deliberately concealing facts” pertaining to murder and disposal of the victim’s body.

File image of Peter Mukerjea.  IBN-Live

File image of Peter Mukerjea. IBN-Live

Mukerjea was produced before the court where the prosecution sought 10 days’ custody of Mukerjea, claiming he was not cooperating in the investigations into his step-daughter’s murder and the CBI had come across certain documents of which he (Mukerjea) had exclusive knowledge.

Mukerjea was arrested on Friday and remanded in three days’ custody, which ended on Monday.

In its two-page remand application on Monday, the CBI further contended that Mukerjea did not disclose facts related to the case, or his conversations with his wife Indrani Mukerjea, mother of Sheena Bora, born from a love affair.

However, he has revealed some investments running into crores of rupees in fixed deposits and immovable properties in Britain and India in 2010-2011, but has not disclosed the source of the funds for the same, the CBI said.

The CBI sought 10 days custody on the grounds that Mukerjea had roots in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati, Goa and Shillong and abroad and they needed his interrogation to recover important, incriminating documents and evidence related to the case.

In August, Mumbai police arrested Indrani, her ex-husband Sanjeev Khanna and her former driver Shyamvar Rai in connection with the Sheena Bora murder.

In continuous custody since then, they have been remanded in CBI custody till 3 December.

IANS

Citizenship row: Plea in Supreme Court to register case against Rahul Gandhi

Recently, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has alleged that the Congress vice-president has claimed himself to be a British national before the authorities in connection with incorporation of a firm.

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has alleged that the Congress vice-president has claimed himself to be a British national. (File Photo)

PTI
A plea was filed on Monday in the Supreme Court seeking a direction to CBI to register a case against Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi for allegedly declaring himself as a British national before company law authorities there.Recently, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has alleged that the Congress vice-president has claimed himself to be a British national before the authorities in connection with incorporation of a firm. BJP leader Subramanian Swamy on Saturday accused Congress leader Rahul Gandhi of evading questions on the issue allegedly involving him in the incorporation of a company in Britain in 2003. “I have obtained documents which show that Rahul Gandhi had claimed himself to be a British national before the company law authorities there for setting up a company,” Swamy told reporters here. “Rahul Gandhi has confessed that he is a British citizen.The onus to prove he is innocent is on Rahul Gandhi,” he said in reply to a query.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”How can one believe that for five years Rahul continued making a typing mistake,” Swamy said on Congress party’s stand that the mention of being a British national in the documents may have been a typing error. Rahul has rejected the allegations against him and has dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to order an inquiry against him and jail him if he is proved guilty. He accused Modi of using his ‘chamchas’ (cronies) to throw mud at him like the RSS and BJP did against his parents and grandmother Indira Gandhi.

Citizenship row: Onus on Rahul Gandhi to prove he is innocent, says Subramanian Swamy

“How can one believe that for five years Rahul continued making a typing mistake,” Swamy said.

“I am happy he (Rahul) called me a chamcha as in Congress, chamcha is a very high post,” Swamy said.

File Photo
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy on Saturday accused Congress leader Rahul Gandhi of evading questions on the issue allegedly involving him in the incorporation of a company in Britain in 2003. “I have obtained documents which show that Rahul Gandhi had claimed himself to be a British national before the company law authorities there for setting up a company,” Swamy told reporters here. “Rahul Gandhi has confessed that he is a British citizen.The onus to prove he is innocent is on Rahul Gandhi,” he said in reply to a query.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”How can one believe that for five years Rahul continued making a typing mistake,” Swamy said on Congress party’s stand that the mention of being a British national in the documents may have been a typing error. Rahul has rejected the allegations against him and has dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to order an inquiry against him and jail him if he is proved guilty. He accused Modi of using his ‘chamchas’ (cronies) to throw mud at him like the RSS and BJP did against his parents and grandmother Indira Gandhi.”I have also been labelled as a ‘chamcha’,” the BJP leader said. “I am happy he (Rahul) called me a chamcha as in Congress, chamcha is a very high post,” Swamy said. I feel that being called a chamcha is a great compliment, he added.

Subramanian Swamy targets Rahul Gandhi again, says will ask ED to register FIR

“I have produced documents, submitted by the company in which Rahul Gandhi is the 65 percent shareholder, director and company secretary. He is informing the registrar of companies on his annual return that he is a citizen of Britain in writing, not for one year, but four years in a row,” he added.

Continuing his stand that Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had taken British citizenship to set up a company in the United Kingdom, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy on Wednesday said that he will ask the Enforcement Directorate to register an FIR against the former.”One crime has been admitted by Congi: Buddhu did set up a company in UK. So a FIR is to be registered under FCRA, PMLA, FEMA. I will ask ED.I have traced Backops as a shell co. to companies receiving kick backs in Indian defence deals’ illegal commission. Another press conference (sic),” Swamy said in a series of tweets.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier, the senior BJP leader had asked Rahul Gandhi to release all the documents that he has in his possession regarding his ‘citizenship’.”For setting up a company in Britain, if he is an Indian citizen and has not informed the Indian Government under FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act), then he is subjected to prosecution. If he has not declared it in his affidavit as a candidate for Lok Sabha, not once but twice, then he is subjected to prosecution and even removal from his membership on that basis,” Swamy had said.”I have produced documents, submitted by the company in which Rahul Gandhi is the 65 percent shareholder, director and company secretary. He is informing the registrar of companies on his annual return that he is a citizen of Britain in writing, not for one year, but four years in a row,” he added.Earlier, Swamy claimed of having evidences which could prove that the Congress vice president is a ‘British national’.Swamy alleged that Rahul Gandhi had declared himself as a British citizen between 2003 and 2009 in order to set up a private company in London, and has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding that the government strip the Congress vice-president of his Indian citizenship.However, the Congress Party rubbished the claims saying that Swamy and the BJP were repeating rehashed allegations levelled earlier on multiple occasions.”Swamy and BJP are repeating rehashed allegations levelled earlier on multiple occasions including through press conferences held in Ahmedabad and Delhi in October 2012…From the day he was born, Rahul Gandhi has held Indian citizenship and Indian passport and has never held citizenship of any other country nor has he represented as such. The allegation by Swamy is entirely false. The Certificate of Incorporation of the said company is enclosed and clearly mentions,” Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala said.

Cameron plays safe as Modi tackles tricky issues

Cameron plays safe as Modi tackles issues

A royal meet: Queen Elizabeth hosts PM Modi for lunch at Buckingham Palace

London: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday arrived at the Buckingham Palace where he was received by Queen Elizabeth II who will host him for lunch on the second day of his three-day visit to Britain.

“Her Majesty The Queen with PM @narendramodi at Buckingham Palace,” PMO India tweeted.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a meeting with Queen Elizabeth at Backingham Palace in London on Friday. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a meeting with Queen Elizabeth at Backingham Palace in London on Friday. PTI

A photograph showing Modi in conversation with the British monarch inside Buckingham Palace was also attached to the tweet. Modi was wearing a white kurta-pyjama with a maroon Nehru jacket.

“Building on the bonds of history. PM @narendra Modi calls on Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” tweeted Vikas Swarup, spokesperson for the ministry of external affairs.

Prior to this, Modi, along with British Prime Minister David Cameron, attended a meeting of the UK-India CEO Forum at Lancaster House here.

The Indian prime minister began the day by continuing bilateral parleys with Cameron at the Chequers, the countryside retreat of the British prime minister. Modi was hosted by Cameron to a private dinner on Thursday at the Chequers and he spent the night there.

Later on Friday evening, Modi will address around 60,000 people of Indian origin at the iconic Wembley Stadium here.

This will be followed by a reception in his honour by India’s High Commissioner to Britain, Ranjan Mathai.

IANS

Here’s why Anish Kapoor is wrong about India being ruled by a ‘Hindu Taliban’

To suggest that the Indian electorate is a bunch of ‘Hindu fascists’ voting for a ‘Hindu Taliban’ is not just incorrect, it is also unfair.

Reuters
Noted British sculptor Anish Kapoor wrote a piece in the Guardian on Thursday, on why he thinks India is being ruled by “Hindu Taliban”. While the piece is emotive and strong, here are some (of the many) reasons why his statement is not true:- The Indian electorate makes informed and wise decisions – it may not be as literate or as sophisticated as its western counterpart; it may neither be as wealthy, nor as involved – but, the Indian voters have tended to surprise Indian politicians, political parties, and the world at large with their choices. We vote for a direction. We vote to teach rulers a lesson. We participate in the electoral process with joy and involvement. And, we vote because it is our right to do so. There are those who many not like the outcome, but that does not mean that the voters are wrong or have voted ‘fascists’ or ‘communists’ or whatever. Accepting the Indian voters’ choice is the first step of understanding and participating in Indian democracy. The political parties have to do so, in all humility. It is time supporters of those parties did so too. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>- To question the Indian voter, and the Indian Republic’s choices, is of course a right of everyone – and we do this all the time within India, without being woken up by a midnight knock by the ‘thought’ police. The media questions the government, the opposition does, civil society does, and individuals do. We have embraced this right with gusto and delight. We have been vocal about every government since emergency– possibly learning from our mistakes there. The last government faced vocal criticism, this one does too. We criticise because it is our right. We laugh at our government too. If there is any nation that has embraced democracy, no matter how chaotic it is, it is India. And, it is completely unfair to the Indian voter, to believe we have traded our rights for a mirage.- While there is intolerance, it is not new. And, just because it is not new, doesn’t mean it should either be justified or ignored. Both statements are equally valid. But to look at every crime and link it to the current Central government, when law and order is a state issue, is rather daft. Can the government curtail vocal fringes – yes. But, doing so may impinge on their freedoms. And, when the government (of any land) impinges on the rights of minorities – even that of vocal fringes – it ends up curtailing the rights of everyone else. What the government can do, is have fast track courts to deal with riots and violence – but, that means a certain level of judicial reform.- India is a federal republic. It is not a unitary state, like Great Britain. Which means, the powers of the Centre are limited, by the Constitution. And, in many vital areas – including law and order – the Centre works in conjunction with the state. Should the Centre revoke the rights of the states and intervene directly in law and order by imposing President’s rule? The jury is open on that. But, having too strong a Centre may end up creating another set of problems that we are ill-equipped to deal with.It is completely alright, in a democracy, to dislike your government, and distrust the Prime Minister or elected President. We see this world over. The Right in the USA is still reeling from Obama’s election. The Left in Great Britain doesn’t think much of David Cameron. In fact, the only country where there seems to be universal ‘love’ for the leader is North Korea. But that is a special case in point. But the fact to remember is that India is not North Korea, it is not Saudi Arabia, or any of the repressive regimes you can name. I am as comfortable criticising this government as I was criticising the last one. Conflating action taken against FCRA violations with fascism is neither right nor correct. While a Greenpeace faces shutdown for these violations, there are many others, within India, working with the same zeal on environmental issues. The same is with issues taken up by the Sabrang Trust. There are rules of the land – and part of those rules include getting your accounts right. It applies to those who support the government, and it applies to those who oppose it. It applies to NGOs and it applies to private limited companies, and it applies to private individuals. For the record, 4,470 NGOs had their licenses cancelled because of FCRA violations, not just two. However, there are 4 areas where the government can improve its performance and build confidence amongst the people. Communication – for a party that came to power after being able to communicate and energise the voters to elect it, the government seems to be floundering in basic communication. And, when I say communication, it does not mean supporting pitched battles on social media. It means the government of India talking to the people of India, and listening to it. Broadcast or one-way communication is not the only mode of communication, the government needs to interact. It needs to make the right noises at the right time. And, it needs to be seen and heard talking in one voice. This is especially true about communally sensitive issues. A big reason why the government’s image is getting tarnished is because its own ministers have been jumping the gun to give statementsCurtail the publicity seekers – in government and the party. The media has not created these people, nor has it hypnotised them to make statements. They have done so on their own accord. Assign party spokesmen and spokeswomen, who are talking to India (or Bharat), not to their fan base on social media. Communicating the government’s viewpoint is neither about sound bytes nor about 140 character communication – it is about building confidence.Get out of campaign mode – The government of India cannot be in campaign mode almost 18 months after it has won the elections. It needs to leave electoral campaigning to the party, and be seen (and heard) tackling issues of governance.Get inclusive to govern effectively – The campaign is over, the BJP has won the elections. Now it has to deliver on its promises. To do this, it has to take people along in the Parliament to ensure that vital Bills are passed. It cannot work forever on ordinances. This means reaching out to the opposition and trying to have a ‘chai pe charcha’ with it.Lastly, whether you voted for this government or not is immaterial. This is the government that the voters of India, in their wisdom, have voted into power. And, in their wisdom, the same Indian electorate has voted for others in Delhi and Bihar. To suggest that the Indian electorate is a bunch of ‘Hindu fascists’ voting for a ‘Hindu Taliban’ is not just incorrect, it is also unfair. The fact remains that in India, there is a process we follow. That process is called free and fair elections, where people come out, exercise their right to universal franchise, and vote as equals, for a verdict. Respect that verdict.

Modi in UK: Here is how British media gave a not so glowing welcome to PM Narendra Modi

After it raised the issues of intolerance, Gujarat 2002 at the joint statement press conference yesterday, PM Narendra Modi’s visit to the United Kingdom was mostly received by the UK media with harsh, scathing. headlines and columns.

While David Cameron enthusiastically welcomed PM Narendra Modi, the British media was anything but complimentary about it. After it raised the issues of intolerance, Gujarat 2002 at the joint statement press conference yesterday, PM Narendra Modi’s visit to the United Kingdom was mostly received by the UK media with harsh, scathing. headlines and columns. Here is how major news media covered his visit.The TimesPM defends Modi on human rights as £9bn in deals awaitBritain will continue to pursue stronger ties with India despite Narendra Modi’s record on human rights, David Cameron insisted.The prime minister issued his defence of Mr Modi as the Indian premier’s UK visit was overshadowed by protests outside Downing Street. Mr Modi was also forced to deny accusations of “growing intolerance” under his rule and that he had once been barred from Britain. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Read more here.Hold your nose and shake Modi by the handThe egregious PM is not a man who shares our values but Britain’s relationship with India is bigger than one manRead more hereThe IndependentFour times David Cameron gave warm welcomes to leaders of countries with questionable human rights recordsIt is not the first time David Cameron’s meetings with world leaders have been met with condemnation from critics who have questioned the UK’s dealings with countries that hold poor human rights records. Read more hereDaily TelegraphAll is forgiven, Mr. ModiIndia’s prime minister, a man once shunned by Britain and the US, is greeted with all honors, untroubled by the protestersRead more here The GuardianIndia is being ruled by a Hindu TalibanNarendra Modi is clamping down on tolerance and freedom of expression. In Britain we have a responsibility to speak out against itRead more hereIndia’s prime minister is a Hindu extremist who fails to condemn lynch mobs. Yet it seems that trade deals matter more to our governmentIndia’s prime minister is a Hindu extremist who fails to condemn lynch mobs. Yet it seems that trade deals matter more to our governmentRead more here Narendra Modi’s UK visit is a historic moment for our very special relationshipWhat other politician can attract 60,000 people to Wembley? For David Cameron and the 1.5 million British-Indian community, this is about so much more than trade and politics Read more here The TelegraphFrom pariah to ‘rock star’ world leader: Narendra Modi prepares to visit BritainIt is a long way from his roots as a tea-seller’s son helping his father at a small Gujarat train station to lunch with the Queen at Buckingham Palace.And it is also a far cry from life as a political pariah shunned by Britain for a decade to the role of “rock star” world leader who will pack Wembley stadium with adoring Indian expatriates and stay overnight at Chequers.Read more here The GuardianNarendra Modi’s belated visit to Britain shows where his priorities lieAs his 29th overseas destination, the UK’s lack of real interest to the Indian PM is clear, but the trip comes at a useful time for ModiRead more here

PM Modi congratulates Aung San Suu Kyi for win in polls, invites her to India

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday telephoned Myanmar’s democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi to congratulate her on the electoral victory, an official said. Modi also invited her to India.

File photo. Image courtesy: ReutersFile photo. Image courtesy: Reuters

File photo. Image courtesy: Reuters

“Diplomacy aboard Air India 1! PM called Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, congratulated her on her electoral victory and invited her to visit India,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.

Modi made the call on his way to Britain for a three-day visit.

Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy has so far secured 536 parliamentary seats in the country’s general election.

IANS

VIDEO: India’s forgotten Coronation Park

A neglected memorial park in Delhi houses statues of British emperors and viceroys.

PM Modi attacked by party elders after big poll loss | Reuters

NEW DELHIPrime Minister Narendra Modi is facing a mutiny from senior members of his Bharatiya Janata Party for the first time in his premiership after a humiliating election defeat in the pivotal state of Bihar exposed deep rifts over his leadership.

Three party elders, including former deputy prime minister L.K. Advani, released a statement late on Tuesday questioning the direction of the party, which risks embarrassing Modi just ahead of a visit to Britain.

“A thorough review must be done of the reasons for the defeat as well as of the way the party is being forced to kow-tow to a handful, and how its consensual character has been destroyed,” Advani, BJP ex-president Murli Manohar Joshi and former finance minister Yashwant Sinha, said in the statement.

The doubts around Modi’s leadership raise questions about the viability of his plans to transform the world’s largest democracy into a global power and close a development gap with China.

Sunday’s loss in Bihar, India’s third most populous and poorest state, comes after a similar defeat in Delhi and is the most significant setback for Modi since he won a crushing victory in a general election last year.

The strongly-worded attack took attention away from the government’s move to ease foreign direct investment norms in sectors such as defence, civil aviation and broadcasting. In what looked like a hurried attempt to regain the political initiative, the government listed sectors where investment norms have eased but did not cite precise steps.

Modi’s failure to win enough seats for his party in Bihar despite being its star campaigner indicates a waning of his popularity, prompting senior leaders to ask for accountability.

“Those who would have appropriated credit if the party had won are bent on shrugging off responsibility for the disastrous showing in Bihar,” Advani and the other leaders wrote in the statement.

A BJP statement in response said the party would welcome any guidance from them.

Modi arrives in Britain on Thursday for a three-day visit expected to focus heavily on expanding trade links and during which he will address parliament.

The party has been crippled in the past by infighting among leaders, with several of them – including Advani – harbouring ambitions to become India’s next prime minister.

Modi and a dozen senior party colleagues analysed the reasons for the Bihar defeat in a meeting, but did not point the finger at anyone in particular for the loss.Modi visited Advani at his residence on the day of the results to greet him on his 88th birthday, but there were no signs that differences had been healed.

“The letter penned by BJP party elders reflects what many within the BJP have said in private, but were unwilling to articulate publicly,” said Milan Vaishnav of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“Unfortunately for the mutineers, they are now marginalised within the party. Hence, their letter will only have impact if its core message is picked up and amplified by those more central to the party’s current operations.”

(Reporting By Andrew MacAskill and Krishna N. Das; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

British PM David Cameron admits even he can’t do a ‘Modi’ in UK

“I don’t know what magic that is as I struggle to fill Wembley town hall,” he joked.

File Photo

British Premier David Cameron said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “extraordinary” visit to the UK this week will help build a modern partnership between the two great countries to combat challenges like terrorism, climate change and poverty. The British Prime Minister also said that a special tricolour flypast by the Red Arrows Royal Air Force (RAF) Aerobatic Team will take place in honour of his Indian counterpart.”This is a special week for Britain and for India because of the extraordinary visit of Prime Minister Modi. I think it’s going to be spectacular. We are going to see for the first time ever the Red Arrows fly with colours of the Indian flag coming out. “I can’t tell you how many officials in the Ministry of Defence it took to find the orange smoke; it was one of the most complicated procurement,” Cameron joked, during a special Diwali reception hosted at 10 Downing Street today. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”What I hope we can achieve this week as we have this great visit is not to rest on the laurels of the past and the ties of history, language and culture, important as they are. “Not simply to celebrate the immense economic ties, with India a top investor into Britain and Britain a top investor into India…but actually building a thoroughly modern partnership between our two great countries,” he said. “I am excited by this visit. I am excited by what Prime Minister Modi is doing in India and I’m excited about the partnership that we can build together…To me what is most exciting is that we are talking of two countries that have very close ties and a very strong past together. “But what I think is important is the future that we can have together. The future of the world’s oldest democracy and the world’s largest democracy,” he added.Cameron highlighted a stop at the Gandhi statue in Parliament Square among the many “important visits and many important discussions” to take place over the course of the three-day visit by Modi starting on Thursday.On a lighter note, he made reference to the massive community reception planned at Wembley Stadium on Friday where Modi is expected to address a crowd of 60,000. “I don’t know what magic that is as I struggle to fill Wembley town hall,” he joked. Stressing on the importance of India and the UK working together, he said: “We both face so many of the same challenges, whether it is fighting terrorism and Islamist extremism, which has done so much damage to India and to Britain.”We must stand and have that fight together, whether it is fighting climate change, entrenched poverty, or finding jobs and livelihoods for our young people and growth in our cities. These are challenges that Britain and India can face together in a thoroughly modern partnership.”

British papers say Bihar defeat to impact Modi UK visit

British newspapers feel the electoral debacle for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP party in the regional elections in Bihar state will have a sobering effect on his “high-profile” visit to the UK.

Bihar defeat to overshadow PM Modi’s UK visit, says British media

“But his next foreign visit to the UK this week to meet David Cameron and the Queen and to address a crowd of 60,000 British Indians at Wembley Stadium will for the first time be overshadowed by deepening troubles at home,” it said.

Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden visit to the UK, the British media on Monday said “troubles at home” after BJP’s drubbing in the Bihar elections will overshadow his visit.The fervour has been building up in the UK around Modi’s three-day visit starting Thursday, which will include a grand reception at Wembley Stadium described as the “biggest political rally in the history of the UK” on Friday.”Since he swept to power 18 months ago, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has proved to be a charismatic international statesman, impressing leaders from Shinzo Abe to Barack Obama as well as expatriate Indians with his ambition to modernise India,” The Financial Times’ said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”But his next foreign visit to the UK this week to meet David Cameron and the Queen and to address a crowd of 60,000 British Indians at Wembley Stadium will for the first time be overshadowed by deepening troubles at home,” it said.The newspaper, however, stressed that the UK will be keen to distance itself from any negatives to clinch an estimated package of USD 15-billion trade and investment deals.’The Independent’ newspaper also feels the drubbing in the Bihar elections is an “embarrassing setback” coming on the eve of the high-profile visit.”The result means that as he prepares for an enthusiastic welcome in Britain this week including an unprecedented sell-out event at Wembley Stadium on Friday Mr Modi will be smarting from the defeat on home soil, which comes as his administration also faces mounting accusations of fomenting intolerance,” the newspaper said.In its own analysis titled ‘From pariah to rock star world leader’, the ‘Daily Telegraph’ also expressed concerns over how his party was “comfortably defeated” in the Bihar polls, weakening the Indian Prime Minister’s domestic stand.”As he emerged from provincial politician to likely leader of the world’s largest democracy, Britain ended the boycott in 2012 in the face of growing business and realpolitik pressures.”The turnaround has been dramatic. This week he will stay at Mr Cameron’s country residence (Chequers), address the two Houses of Parliament, visit Indian-owned businesses and sites of Indian cultural importance,” the daily said.The news reports come against a backdrop of the so-called “Modi Not Welcome to the UK” protest group projecting a hologram with its banner on the House of Parliament on Sunday night. The group led by Awaaz Network is among some of the UK-based organisations planning protests during the visit this week.

Global temperature rise to pass 1 degree C this year – Britain’s Met Office | Reuters

LONDONThe rise in global temperatures from pre-industrial levels will this year exceed 1 degree Celsius for the first time, Britain’s Met Office said on Monday.

That would put global warming more than half way towards the 2 degree limit by 2100 that negotiators from more than 190 countries hope to set at a United Nations climate summit starting in Paris at the end of November.

Met Office scientists said the rise will partly be due to the naturally occurring El Nino weather phenomenon this year although the effects of man-made climate change will be the main contributor.

“We’ve had similar natural events in the past, yet this is the first time we are set to reach the 1 degree marker and it’s clear that it is human influence driving our modern climate into uncharted territory,” said Stephen Belcher, director of the Met Office Hadley Centre in a statement.

Plans by about 150 countries to curb greenhouse gas emissions, presented ahead of the Paris talks, will slow the rise in temperature from pre-industrial times to around 2.7 degrees, the U.N. said last month.

Scientists say warming by 2100 must be kept below 2 degrees to stave off the worst effects of climate change such as floods, droughts and rising sea levels.

(Reporting By Susanna Twidale; editing by John Stonestreet)

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UK-bound Modi keen to buy more BAE Hawk trainers – sources | Reuters

NEW DELHIPrime Minister Narendra Modi is keen to expand an order for BAE Systems (BAES.L) Hawk training aircraft to revive India’s aerobatic display team when he visits Britain this week, government sources said on Monday.

Sources familiar with the talks say Modi wants to buy an extra 20 Hawk Mk132s, worth $400-$450 million, on top of existing orders already made for 123 of the single-engine, jet-powered trainers.

During the first bilateral visit by an Indian prime minister since 2006, Modi will on Thursday witness a fly-past over London by the Red Arrows, the Royal Air Force display team that also flies Hawks.

Diplomats say that during his visit, India and Britain could strike deals worth 8-12 billion pounds ($12-$18 billion), although details remain sketchy.

If ordered, the new planes would make it possible to revive the Indian Air Force’s Surya Kiran (Sun Ray) aerobatic team that has been borrowing Hawks from the training squadrons after its own planes were retired from service.

One stumbling block is that Modi wants the extra planes to be manufactured by local partner Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), but this is not yet possible because of delays to a new defence procurement policy, one defence source said.

India bought a first batch of 66 Hawks in 2004, 24 of which were delivered in fly-away condition and the remainder made at HAL’s plant in Bengaluru. A second batch in 2010 of 57 planes is still under production.

BAE Systems declined to comment.

($1 = 0.6625 pounds)

(Reporting by Douglas Busvine, Rupam Jain Nair and Sanjeev Miglani; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Patels take agitation overseas, seek permission to protest in London

Ahmedabad: Patel community activists have sought Britain’s permission to stage protests against Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he visits there this month, a Patel leader said on Monday.

They want to hold the demonstration to press their demand for reservations for Patels in jobs and educational institutions in Gujarat.

Said Varun Patel, a Patidar leader in Ahmedabad: “We have written to British Prime Minister David Cameron to allow us to exercise our right to protest in their great democracy since we are not allowed to do so in our very own state by our own government.”

File photo. Image courtesy: PTIFile photo. Image courtesy: PTI

File photo. Image courtesy: PTI

Patel, who is the Ahmedabad convenor of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), was referring to the sedition charges slapped on PAAS chief Hardik Patel and his supporters.

“Hardik and his close associates are being tossed from one set of policemen in one city to another in another city,” he added.

Varun Patel said: “We wish to highlight before the Indian community in Britain the plight of the Patel community which is being targeted for raising its voice in the prime minister’s home state Gujarat.”

He wondered how other political parties and groups are allowed to take out processions and stage protests, “but no Patidar gets permission to hold a public function in this state”.

Modi is scheduled to visit Britain from November 12 to 14 before leaving for Turkey to attend the G-20 summit.

Patel said the agitating Patels had decided to vote against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates in the ensuing elections to 323 local bodies, including six municipal corporations, on November 22 and 29.

“Kamal ne kachdi nakhishu (We will crush the lotus)”, Varun Patel said, referring to the BJP election symbol.

IANS

Britain dismisses Jet Airways appeal over carbon fine | Reuters

LONDON Britain has rejected an appeal from Jet Airways over a 15,000-euro ($16,570) fine for failing to comply with Europe’s Emission Trading System (ETS), according to a government notice published on Friday.

Although the fine is relatively small, the rejection of the appeal could serve as a precedent in other cases where an international carrier may seek to contest a fine levied under the carbon emissions scheme.

The EU requirement that all aircraft using its airports pay for carbon dioxide emissions caused an international outcry, particularly from Saudi Arabia, India and Russia, when it was introduced at the start of 2012. The EU changed the rules a year later to apply only to the portions of flights within the bloc, rather than their entire length, but still faced opposition.

The British ruling notice, published on Friday but dated Oct. 12, said Jet Airways was required to submit carbon allowances to cover 150 tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2012.

The carrier had said the Indian government had told it not to comply with the scheme.

“Those directions from the Indian Government could not oust the application of the EU-ETS,” David Hart QC said in the ruling. He was appointed by Britain’s Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change to oversee the case.

A Jet Airways spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment on Friday.

Earlier this year Saudi Arabian Airlines was fined about 1.4 million euros by a regional Belgian government for breaching EU carbon emissions rules.

And the German Emissions Trading Authority this year published a list of 44 non-compliant operators it had fined for not surrendering carbon allowances in 2012.

($1 = 0.9051 euros)

(Editing by Pravin Char)

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India promises to be more energy efficient, pledges 33-35% cut in carbon intensity by 2030

India, the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, also said it would target 40% cumulative installed power capacity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030, though said this would require UN financial support.

Getty Images
India has promised to make its economy more energy efficient and cut the carbon produced per unit of GDP growth by 33-35% by 2030 from 2005 levels in a climate-change policy statement released ahead of a UN summit in Paris in December.India, the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, also said it would target 40% cumulative installed power capacity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030, though said this would require UN financial support. The pledges, submitted to the United Nations late on Thursday, were broadly in line with expectations, given emerging economies such as India have resisted setting specific targets to cut emissions.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India is not yet prepared to go as far as China, the world’s biggest emitter, which pledged at the end of June to reduce its carbon intensity by 60-65% by 2030, partly through the use of carbon trading. Beijing also said it would bring its absolute emissions to a peak by “around 2030”. As well as not setting such a timeline, India did not give a commitment in its submission to establishing carbon trading. New Delhi also stressed that coal would continue to dominate power generation for its more than 1 billion people in the future, though stressed its commitment to clean energy technologies.India said it planned to develop 25 Solar Parks, supply 100,0000 solar pumps to farmers and convert all 55,000 petrol pumps across the country to solar. It also pledged to “aggressively” develop hydro and nuclear energy.India said its plans were “fair and ambitious considering the fact that India is attempting to work towards low carbon emission pathway while endeavouring to meet all the developmental challenges the country faces today.”Preliminary estimates indicate India would need to spend around $206 billion between 2015 and 2030 for implementing adaptation actions in agriculture, forestry, fisheries infrastructure, water resources and ecosystems, the submission said.”India’s climate actions have so far been largely financed from domestic resources. A substantial scaling up of the climate action plans would require greater resources…,” said the statement, which was lodged with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. A preliminary estimate suggests that at least $2.5 trillion will be required for meeting India’s climate change actions between now and 2030, it said.Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met US President Barack Obama and France and Britain’s leaders last month, and called for a climate change agenda that helps developing countries with access to finance and technology.

Wrong to say ‘Hindi’ confined to particular region: MoS PMO Jitendra Singh

“Just as in the next few years, India grows economically as a world power, its equivalent growth on cultural and civilisational scale would be closely proportionate to the extent of growth of Hindi not only as a language but as an important symbol of India’s identity,” he explained.

It will be a gross error fraught with long term implications if an impression is allowed to perpetuate that Hindi is confined only to a particular religion or region as a medium of communication, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said on Wednesday.The truth, on the other hand, is that Hindi is a part of legacy of every such individual who has inherited the legacy of ‘Hindustan’ irrespective of religion, caste, sect or region, he said.Some of the best literature and poetry in Hindi, for instance, was written by Muslim poets and writers even though their mother tongue may not have been Hindi, said Singh Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”It would be a gross error fraught with long term implications if an impression is allowed to perpetuate that Hindi is confined only to a particular section of society or religion or region as a medium of communication,” he said.Delivering keynote address as chief guest to commemorate ‘Hindi fortnight celebrations’ here, the Minister made an emphatic assertion that the growth of India is linked to the growth of Hindi.”Just as in the next few years, India grows economically as a world power, its equivalent growth on cultural and civilisational scale would be closely proportionate to the extent of growth of Hindi not only as a language but as an important symbol of India’s identity,” he explained.It is a strange paradox that living in India and being Indians, we need to observe a ‘Hindi fortnight’ or a ‘Hindi Divas’ to remind ourselves about Hindi and its richness, Singh said.He said, it sounds strange when one thinks that people living in Britain do not have to observe an English language day to remind themselves of the importance of English language or people living in France do not observe a French language day.”Therefore, the real question that we should ask ourselves is whether we have failed to cultivate in ourselves the esteem of the heritage of Hindi language and the pride of speaking Hindi,” he said.Singh said, he has come across a number of parents who are themselves scholars in Hindi language but prefer to send their children to English schools and take pride in their children communicating in English rather than in Hindi.”Promotion of Hindi cannot happen merely through symbolic programmes but may, in essence, require re-look into our education pattern.”In this regard, some of the measures that can be contemplated may include inculcating advantages of knowing Hindi right at the middle or high school level as well as encouraging the use of common man’s spoken Hindi instead of language with heavy phrases,” he said.

Murray key as Britain eye first final in 37 years | Reuters

LONDON Britain’s rise from embarrassing Davis Cup lightweights to title contenders has been nothing short of spectacular and they will begin slight favourites to reach a first final in 37 years against Australia on Friday.

A glance at the respective depth of the two sides contesting the semi-final would appear to question that wisdom, but with talisman Andy Murray in their ranks and an expected vociferous crowd in Glasgow, the momentum is with the hosts.

While Britain claimed the last of their nine titles in 1936, Belgium have never won the team competition and will also approach their home semi-final against Argentina in Brussels with opportunity knocking loudly on the door.

Australia’s cause has not been helped by volatile talent Nick Kyrgios being left out after a spate of disciplinary problems, yet they still boast a line-up consisting of world number 23 Bernard Tomic, Thanasi Kokkinakis, big-serving Sam Groth and former world number one Lleyton Hewitt who is bidding for a golden finale to a career that will end in January.

Britain, though, have Murray — two of them in fact with Andy’s less-celebrated brother Jamie fresh from reaching the U.S. Open doubles final with Australian John Peers.

“If we’re being honest, if we’ve got Andy in our team then we’ve got a great chance to beat anyone,” Jamie told the ITF’s website in the build-up to the tie.

His younger brother’s contribution to Britain’s cause has been immense, building a 23-2 record in singles rubbers to steer his country out of the Davis Cup wilderness they inhabited in 2010 when they nearly dropped into the bottom division.

In July he dredged every last drop of energy to win three matches against France in the World Group quarter-finals, clinching the decisive point despite being almost on his knees against Gilles Simon at Queen’s Club.

He also won both his singles against the U.S. in round one.

But he will need help, from brother Jamie, and either Kyle Edmund or James Ward who are vying for the second singles spot.

The 20-year-old Edmund, ranked 100 in the world, suffered an injury scare this week, but is relishing a red-hot debut.

“It’ll be a great experience if I get chosen to play, but whoever plays is going to do the best for the team, for the crowd, for the country, it’s the team that matters,” he said.

Hewitt, 34, will be a formidable foe, whichever role he plays and his desire will no doubt rub off on his team mates.

“We won’t be leaving anything in the locker room, that’s for certain,” he said as 28-times champions Australia seek a first final since 2003.

Belgium will rely heavily on mercurial world number 15 David Goffin against an Argentina side featuring Leonardo Mayer as their top singles player in the continued absence of former U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro.

Argentina are trying to shake-off the “nearly man” tag having lost four finals.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Toby Davis)

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Sheena Bora murder case: Indrani changed citizenship around the time of Sheena Bora murder

Legal experts speculate that Mukerjea perhaps had acquired British nationality hoping to flee the country in case of any trouble. Had she moved to Britain – she indeed did spend a lot of time there in last three years – Indian government would have required to seek her extradition, which could have been a tedious process.

Perhaps apprehending trouble sooner or later in India, Indrani Mukerjea, mother and the main accused in Sheena Bora murder case, had surrendered her Indian passport and acquired British nationality sometime around 2012-2013. Legal experts speculate that Mukerjea perhaps had acquired British nationality hoping to flee the country in case of any trouble. Had she moved to Britain – she indeed did spend a lot of time there in last three years – Indian government would have required to seek her extradition, which could have been a tedious process. However, with the murder case remaining buried for three years, a relieved Mukerjea was comfortably living in India, sources said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Since she has already been caught and lodged in jail, her citizenship is of no relevance. “In the current scenario it does not affect in any way, as any person, belonging to any country, can be charged under the law of the land for the crime committed. Moreover, in this case, the crime has taken place in Indian jurisdiction. Even if the offender is a foreign national by birth, police have every right to take legal action against the person,” said Majeed Memon, senior criminal lawyer. According to sources, the police are trying to find out the exact date on which she changed her citizenship. “It will be very crucial for the investigations, because it will help in establishing how well planned the alleged murder was. If the date of change in Indrani’s citizenship is before the alleged date of murder then it indicates the immaculate planning to the last detail. If the change of citizenship is after the date of offence, then it will highlight that the suspect may have anticipated trouble and accordingly planned to flee the country,” said a source. After Indrani’s arrest, it was revealed that she had spent more time in UK than in India, after April 24, 2012, the day Indrani along with Shyam Rai and Sanjeev Khanna allegedly murdered Sheena.

British embassy officials not allowed to meet Indrani Mukerjea in jail

According to prison sources, on Wednesday, officials from the British consulate approached the jail authorities, seeking access to Indrani, stating that she is a Britain citizen.

Indrani Mukerjea

Officials from the British embassy were turned away by authorities at women’s prison in Byculla when the former approached the officials there with a request to meet the celebrity inmate Indrani Mukerjea.According to prison sources, on Wednesday, officials from the British consulate approached the jail authorities, seeking access to Indrani, stating that she is a Britain citizen. “The consulate officials told us that Indrani had surrender her Indian passport and she holds citizenship of Britain and hence the Britain Consulate wanted to meet her and check on her well-being,” said a jail authority on condition of anonymity. “They also cited that India is a signatory to Geneva Convention and according to it they had access to Indrani,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, the Consulate officials were politely declined access to Indrani, citing she is currently an undertrial and she is been tried for a murder case. According to procedure, whenever a citizen of another country is arrested in India for any offence, the Consulate concerned has to be informed in writing. After Indrani was arrested, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone IX, Satyanarayan Chaudhary had written to British Consulate, informing the same.

Skype families: Stringent immigration rules in UK are making life difficult for NRIs

London: A minimum income threshold which prevents spouses of British nationals from outside the European Union (EU) from residing in the UK is creating a trend of “Skype families,” a new report warned on Thursday.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

While the exact numbers affected remains unclear, some Indians are likely to be among the nationalities affected by the 18,600 pounds-a-year earning criteria for a British national to sponsor his or her foreign spouse to live in Britain.

“The threshold is too high and is discriminatory. British citizens who have lived and worked abroad and formed long-term relationships abroad are particularly penalised and find it very difficult to return to the UK,” says the report titled ‘Family Friendly?‘ published on Thursday.

“I am very concerned that the immigration rules introduced in July 2012 actively drive families apart, and leave British children able to communicate with one parent only via Skype,” said Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner for England.

Since 2012, UK Home Office immigration rules have barred the entry of spouses from outside the EU unless their British partner meets the minimum income threshold.

The level rises to 22,400 pound if a child is not a British or European Economic Area (EEA) citizen, with an additional levy of 2,400 pounds for each subsequent child.

The rules were created as part of the then Conservative-led coalition government’s attempts to control immigration from outside Europe, with ministers arguing they would ensure no incoming families would be a burden on the UK taxpayer.

Chai Patel, policy lead at the Migrants Rights Network, which has been campaigning on this issue, called for a review of the rules in light of the new report.

“This report highlights that this is not just a problem in the immigration rules, it goes well beyond that. These rules are hugely damaging to families in Britain. The government now needs to act immediately to prevent further harm to children.

“The new Immigration Bill which is due to be tabled next week will be an opportunity to address the issues and adopt a fair and measured approach towards genuine families seeking to be reunited,” he said.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We welcome those who wish to make a life in the UK with their family, work hard and make a contribution. But family life must not be established here at the taxpayer’s expense.

“That is why we established clear rules for British citizens looking to bring their non-EU spouse to this country, including a minimum income threshold… [which] reflects the income at which a British family generally ceases to be able to access income-related benefits.”

PTI

Top Tata man says EU good for business

Tata’s head of strategy says it would be better for our business if the UK stayed in the European Union.

Farah storms to victory in the 10,000 metres | Reuters

BEIJING Britain’s Mo Farah survived a last-lap trip to retain his 10,000 metres world title in some style on Saturday, extending his dominance of men’s distance running at major championships.

Almost tripped up by Kenya’s Geoffrey Kamworor as he took the first bend after the bell, the 32-year-old regained his balance and his composure to storm down the final straight and finish in 27 minutes 01.13 seconds.

Farah, who has endured a difficult few months after his coach was the subject of doping allegations, raised his arms and roared in delight as he crossed the line.

Kamworor was outpaced over the final 100 metres but finished second in 27.01.76 to claim silver, while his compatriot Paul Tanui was third in 27.02.83.

A trio of Kenyans formed an imposing barrier at the front of the field for most of the race and the last-lap clash was only the worst of several points of contact with the Briton after he came through the pack to challenge them in the latter stages.

“So many times I nearly got tripped, nearly went down but thank God I did not go down,” Farah told the BBC in a trackside interview.

“There were three or four times that I nearly went down. I’ve got long strides so it’s easy to catch. But I don’t know if (they) deliberately tried to take me out either. I don’t know what to think about it.”

The reigning Olympic and world 5,000 and 10,000 metres champion has now won six straight distance titles at major championships going back to his second place in the longer event at the 2011 world championships in Daegu.

His season has been overshadowed by allegations in a BBC investigation linking his coach Alberto Salazar with doping. Salazar, also the coach of American Galen Rupp who finished fifth on Saturday, denies any wrongdoing.

Although there has never been any suggestion that Farah has been guilty of doping, the Briton said the disruption had taken its toll on his preparations for Beijing.

“It wasn’t easy to do after (the year) I’ve had,” he said. “I’ve just had to let my running do the talking and just keep winning medals. That’s what I’m good at.

“It’s not easy running 27 minutes in this heat.

“The last lap, that was close. I honestly thought at one point I was gone because I stumbled.”

Farah will attempt to become the first man to do the 5,000-10,000 double at consecutive world championships at the Bird’s Nest Stadium next Saturday.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

India twist on UK #saluteselfie tag on independence eve

The hashtag originated in Britain to celebrate their Armed Forces Day on 25 June but has now been appropriated in India to do the same.

India Maggi ban ‘legally untenable’

A court in India lifts a government ban on Nestle’s popular Maggi noodles, but orders fresh tests before the product can go back on sale.

Congress steps up attack on Sushma Swaraj; says Lalit Modi was given visa only after her intervention

Congress party stepped up its attack on External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who made an emotional statement in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, saying she had helped Lalit Modi’s cancer-stricken wife and not him.Swaraj, whose ouster is being demanded vigorously by the Opposition leading to a deadlock in Parliament, said, “I helped only Modi’s wife.” She also questioned if Sonia Gandhi would have acted differently if faced with the same situation.She also insisted that she had made “no request or recommendation” to the UK government for Lalit Modi’s travel documents but had left the decision to Britain.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, Congress said that Sushma’s statement that she did not help Modi is false.Addressing the media, Congress leader Anand Sharma said, “There is no doubt that Lalit Modi was given travel papers only after Sushma ji’s intervention. The Central government hid the fact that Lalit Modi’s application was at first rejected by the UK government.”Sharma called the apology a hogwash punctured with holes and added, “Today’s statement of Swaraj is contradictory to her earlier stand. If it was on humanitarian grounds then how was Lalit Modi travelling all over the world within 48 hours of going to the UK?”Under attack, Swaraj spoke amid thumping of benches by the ruling party members and the absence of boycotting members of Congress and several opposition parties. She said, “I challenge those making accusations against me to produce even one document, one chit or an e-mail to back their allegations.”Meanwhile, Rajya Sabha proceedings were paralysed yet again on Thursday as opposition Congress members mounted vociferous protest over the suspension of their 25 MPs in Lok Sabha even as the government tried to introduce a bill to amend the anti-corruption law.The protests started from the go as slogan-shouting Congress members trooped into the well of the house, raising slogans against the “dictatorial” attitude of the government.

Viewpoint: Why Britain does not owe reparations to India

Why Britain does not owe reparations to India

Everyone hates the British: How Shashi Tharoor’s suave Oxford speech united a polarised India

The British Empire can do something even Narendra Modi cannot.

It can unite the country.

The Prime Minister did namaste to his predecessor Manmohan Singh and shook hands with others in the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha as he tried to turn on the charm offensive. But it did not really work to mute the chorus demanding resignations.

Meanwhile Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s video of a speech at an Oxford Union Society debate arguing that Britain owes reparations has gone viral, embraced on all sides of the political spectrum, earning Tharoor a nod from Modi-ji himself. (Though his party chief Sonia Gandhi is apparently miffed with him for not approving of the Congress’ gung-ho obstruction strategy in parliament.)

Shashi Tharoor during the Oxford Union speech.Shashi Tharoor during the Oxford Union speech.

Shashi Tharoor during the Oxford Union speech.

It proves one thing. Everybody loves to hate the British empire. Nearly seven decades after Independence age cannot wither her nor custom stale her infinite utility.

Tharoor is at his Oxonian best in the speech marshaling facts and figures with bon mots like the seasoned debater that he is, rebutting his opponents with witty repartee and brandishing statistics like weapons to give that perfectly-honed cutting edge to his arguments.

The British had the gall to call (Robert Clive) Clive of India as if he belonged to the country when in fact much of the country belonged to him. India’s share of the world economy by the time the British arrived on its shores was 23 percent. By the time the British left it was down to below 4 percent. The Industrial Revolution in Britain was premised on deindustrialising India.

We literally paid for our own oppression.

It’s a bit rich to oppress, torture, maim, enslave people for 200 years and then celebrate the fact that they are democratic at the end of it.

The arguments are not new. Without taking away at all from Tharoor’s unquestioned panache in a debating forum, what’s most fascinating about it all, is the fervour with which the speech has been embraced on all sides. Tharoor is not truth-telling to a stunned House of Lords in London or speaking at the UN on some resolution about reparations. He is doing what a good debater is supposed to do whether it’s at the Oxford Union or the Calcutta Club – scoring points. And he does it very well since his side won the debate.

Tharoor has given many other speeches laced with wit and erudition. Those have not gone quite viral in the same way. In fact, what has tended to go viral are the witticisms that have landed him in hot water. He made his cattle class quip in 2009 and even to this day it’s still misunderstood by people who think he was snootily calling them livestock. But this speech, which did not really make waves when the Oxford Union debate actually happened, has struck a national chord once it went online.

Even in 2015 we are still not quite past the Raj hangover. We remain the step-children of the Raj. And while nothing can excuse colonialism or whitewash its sins, the Raj is a handy whipping boy for all sides.

For the Congress and its supporters, the British Raj was always the textbook villain. Their great heroes were the ones that snatched Independence from the grasp of the British Empire. And even more convenient, dwelling on the depredations of the Big Bad Burrasahib allows the Congress to wring its hands and shrug away its own failings after 1947. As an editorial in the Times of India points out “From a contemporary standpoint, it’s disappointing that almost seven decades of independence have made little difference to India’s economic size in relation to the world. And for much of this period Tharoor’s party, Congress, was in power.” The Congress’ standard excuse for the infamous Hindu rate of growth was colonial trauma. Two centuries of colonial ravages could not be undone in two decades or six.

For the Hindu nationalist side, Tharoor’s speech resonates differently. They daydream about the India that could have been. The one that would have already been a superpower had foreign invaders not looted the country and caged the golden bird. In that narrative the foreign invader is not just Robert Clive and his merry men but Babur and his descendants. The period of colonial rule they talk about is much longer than the two hundred years Tharoor is talking about. But the arc of the argument is one that reverberates with them. A glorious India that had 23 percent of the world’s economy, an India which understood plastic surgery and genetics and television and airplanes long before the rest of the world got on board, an India that was poised on the threshold of greatness. The arrival of Narendra Modi, for them, has been a moment about reclaiming control of that narrative. Make in India is part of a dream of that renaissance because India’s rich civilisation had been left out of the other Renaissance – the one with a capital R. When Kalidasa was writing exquisite poems Europe was busy with Visigoths ransacking the flailing Roman Empire and not paying attention.

The wonder of this speech is not the person making it. This is not about the reinvention of Shashi Tharoor as the man being lionised by the same media that was hounding him even a month ago. The man making the speech is the Shashi Tharoor we have always known – suave, articulate and a consummate debater. The wonder is really the speech that has found its sweet spot in the middle of India’s fevered polarised politics without really intending to do so. It was meant for the audience at the Oxford Union but now it’s turned out to have what politicians dream of — something for everyone .

While the reparations he argues for are for the sins from centuries past, there is a bit that might have far more contemporary relevance for our politics today. At the end of the speech making a passionate case for even symbolic reparations Tharoor says “The abilty to acknowledge a wrong that has been done, to simply say sorry will go a far far longer way than some percentage of GDP.”

Now if only some of the politicians furiously butting heads in parliament and dredging up each other’s scams to shame each other would pay attention to that bit, we could all get moving with the nation’s business.

In case you missed it, watch the video here:

Viewpoint: Why Britain owes reparations to India

Indian politician and writer Shashi Tharoor on why Britain needs to compensate India for exploiting it as a colony.

New UK visa rules to hit Indian students

Not only will non-EU student be banned from working while they study, but they will not be able to apply for a visa when their course finishes either.

The UK today announced that it will ban overseas students from outside the European Union to work while they study in the country from the next month, a move that will hit students from countries like India.UK immigration minister James Brokenshire said that from next month students from outside the European Union who come to study at publicly-funded further education (FE) colleges in Britain will lose the right to work for up to 10 hours a week.”Immigration offenders want to sell illegal access to the UK jobs market, and there are plenty of people willing to buy,” Brokenshire said. “Hardworking taxpayers who are helping to pay for publicly funded colleges expect them to be providing top-class education, not a backdoor to a British work visa. Our reforms — which include introducing English language testing, removing sponsorship rights from hundreds of bogus colleges, and restricting students’ access to the jobs market — are all of our plan to control immigration for the benefit of Britain,” he said, as the latest rules were launched in the UK Parliament.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In justifying the decision, the UK Home Office highlighted official figures which show 121,000 non-EU students entering the UK last year but only 51,000 leaving.Not only will non-EU student be banned from working while they study, but they will not be able to apply for a visa when their course finishes either.As a further crackdown, the term of the student visas issued for FE colleges has also been cut from three to a maximum of two years after which they will have to leave the country.FE colleges are educational institutions operating outside the realms of a full-blown university and include a range of vocational colleges in the UK.

Pakistan alleges BBC report on MQM confirms India hand in unrest

The minister said that the intelligence agencies had in the past reported India’s interference and the BBC report confirmed suspicions about Indian involvement in unrest in Pakistan.

Pakistani supporters of the Muttahida Quami Movement party gather at a election rally in Karachi on April 20, 2013.

AFP
Pakistan on Thursday said the BBC report that alleged the MQM received funds and training from India confirmed its “suspicions” about an Indian hand in creating instability in the country.This was stated by Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan while talking to the media after meeting with British High Commissioner Philip Barton here after a scathing BBC report alleging that India provided funds and training to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).The minister said that the intelligence agencies had in the past reported India’s interference and the BBC report confirmed suspicions about Indian involvement in unrest in Pakistan.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India has dismissed the BBC report as “completely baseless”.Khan alleged that recent statements by the top Indian leadership were also an admission of their role.He said that Pakistan sought British assistance to get the details of the BBC report in the meeting with the British High Commissioner, who asked the government to write “an official letter” to the British government for details.”I will formally write to the UK government tomorrow (Friday), requesting access to information linked to the serious allegations against MQM,” he said.The minister said the purpose was not to malign MQM as there is no dearth of respectable senior politicians and patriotic individuals in MQM.MQM has also denied the contents of the report but pressure is mounting on the party to take the BBC to court in Britain which so far the party has refused to commit to.The party enjoys huge support among Pakistan’s Mohajir community – Urdu-speaking Muslims who migrated from India during Partition in 1947 and are mostly based in Karachi.Its leader Altaf Hussain fled to the UK in 1992 after a military operation was launched against the party and was given British citizenship in 2002.

Pakistan alleges BBC report on MQM confirms India hand in unrest

The minister said that the intelligence agencies had in the past reported India’s interference and the BBC report confirmed suspicions about Indian involvement in unrest in Pakistan.

Pakistani supporters of the Muttahida Quami Movement party gather at a election rally in Karachi on April 20, 2013.

AFP
Pakistan on Thursday said the BBC report that alleged the MQM received funds and training from India confirmed its “suspicions” about an Indian hand in creating instability in the country.This was stated by Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan while talking to the media after meeting with British High Commissioner Philip Barton here after a scathing BBC report alleging that India provided funds and training to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).The minister said that the intelligence agencies had in the past reported India’s interference and the BBC report confirmed suspicions about Indian involvement in unrest in Pakistan.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India has dismissed the BBC report as “completely baseless”.Khan alleged that recent statements by the top Indian leadership were also an admission of their role.He said that Pakistan sought British assistance to get the details of the BBC report in the meeting with the British High Commissioner, who asked the government to write “an official letter” to the British government for details.”I will formally write to the UK government tomorrow (Friday), requesting access to information linked to the serious allegations against MQM,” he said.The minister said the purpose was not to malign MQM as there is no dearth of respectable senior politicians and patriotic individuals in MQM.MQM has also denied the contents of the report but pressure is mounting on the party to take the BBC to court in Britain which so far the party has refused to commit to.The party enjoys huge support among Pakistan’s Mohajir community – Urdu-speaking Muslims who migrated from India during Partition in 1947 and are mostly based in Karachi.Its leader Altaf Hussain fled to the UK in 1992 after a military operation was launched against the party and was given British citizenship in 2002.

Vasundhara Raje’s office issues statement, says ‘baseless news’ carried to tarnish reputation

Mahendra Bhardwaj, media advisor to Vasundhara Raje has asked media to refrain from publishing ‘baseless news story’.

A day after Congress furnished documents which showed deep connection between Vasundhara Raje and ex IPL Chief Lalit Modi, Rajasthan CM has issued a statement. Mahendra Bhardwaj, media advisor to Vasundhara Raje has asked media to refrain from publishing ‘baseless news story’. The statement calls for media to verify information before disseminating to the public and says that efforts are on to tarnish image of Rajasthan CM. Some channels have reported on Thursday that Vasundhara Raje has reportedly admitted to her party top bosses of signing a document which backed immigration appeal of Lalit Modi. There have been also reports floating about how BJP is unlikely to back Raje for long, specially if the documents are found to be correct. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Wednesday, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh published a document to prove the connection between Raje and Lalit Modi. In the statement, released by the Congress, Raje said, “Lalit’s close connection to me has resulted in huge animosity towards him from the Congress party, both at the Rajasthan and the national levels.” “The political attack which is currently underway against Lalit in India, is in my opinion, designed to destroy Lalit’s reputation to keep him out of Rajasthan Cricket and politics and to thereby discredit me.”Raje said she was also aware that Modi, in the context of his role as IPL founder and chairman, had major run-ins with prominent Central government ministers. “I will not comment upon those conflicts as they have never involved me directly. What is clear, however, is that they have only served to exacerbate Lalit’s difficulties with the ruling Congress party,” she said in her witness statement.Raje also said that given her family’s long history in public and political life in India and its involvement with the BJP since its inception and due to her position of importance within the party in Rajasthan, “I am a key political target as far as the Congress party is concerned.” She alleged that a significant part of Congress party’s election campaign (in 2008) was devoted to the propagation of smear campaign against her and Modi.”They made numrous unfounded allegations of corruption during my time as Chief Minister. By this time, Lalit had become a household name in India and indeed across the sporting world following the phenomenal success of the inaugural IPL. “Lalit’s success was used by many of the cricketing and political old guard within the Congress party with great jealosuly and animoisty. By this point, whether he liked it or not, Lalit had been painted as a pro-BJP and an anti-Congress figure,” she said.Raje credited the former IPL commissioner for “revolutionising” cricket in both Rajasthan and whole of India. “By leading this revolution from Rajasthan during my tenure as CM, Lalit became widely recognised as someone closely associated with me,” she said. She added when BJP was narrowly defeated by the Congress in 2008 “Lalit was one of my main supporters during the election campaign. Our close working relationship and association was public knowledge.” Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje had reportedly backed the immigration plea of scam-tainted former IPL boss Lalit Modi in Britain in 2011, contending she had no doubt that the frontal attack he was facing in India then was “politically motivated”.”Given my close understanding of, and involvement in Indian politics, I have absolutely no doubt that the broad, full frontal attack that Lalit is currently facing in India is politically motivated. “Certain elements within Indian politics seek to preserve their own interest by exacting revenge on political opponents. This is exactly the motive that is guiding the attack on Lalit at the moment in India,” she had said in her witness statement before the British authorities. She insisted that by “destroying” and “discrediting” Modi the congress party hoped to remove, “one of my key supporters” from the political scene.”In the course of doing so by virtue of my association with him, they hope to politically discredit me as well,” she said in the witness statement given on August 18, 2011. The Rajasthan Chief Minister said the information contained in the statement was “true, correct and accurate” to the best of her knowledge and belief.With PTI inputs

China has dual standards on terrorism: Shiv Sena on Lakhvi case

“On one hand, China brutally crushes terrorism in its state and on the other hand supports the perpetrators of terrorism in India. This is China’s double standards,” the Sena said in its editorial in party mouthpiece ‘Saamana’.

Shiv Sena on Thursday accused China of adopting “double standards” in dealing with terrorism after it blocked India’s move in the UN demanding action against Pakistan over release of the 2008 Mumbai attack mastermind and LeT commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi.”The (UN) sanctions committee has five permanent and 10 non-permanent UN member states in it. Out of these, almost all countries, including the US, Britain, Russia, France and Germany supported India’s stand, but China opposed it.”On one hand, China brutally crushes terrorism in its state and on the other hand supports the perpetrators of terrorism in India. This is China’s double standards,” the Sena said in its editorial in party mouthpiece ‘Saamana’.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sena said 13 Muslims were recently hanged in China’s Xinjiang province for engaging in terrorist attacks and in the past as well hundreds of Muslims have been killed in that country. “China’s ideology seems to be eliminating terrorism from its country but letting terrorist activities flourish in India,” the Sena said.China’s call of Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai (Indians and Chinese are brothers) in 1960 has proved to be a farce time and again in the aftermath, it said.”China supplied atom bombs, missiles, and nuclear reactors to Pakistan to help the country have an edge over India. Except its army, all of Pakistan’s ammunition is provided by China,” the editorial said.Stressing that China can never be India’s friend, Sena said, “What more proof does one need to prove this?..What had to happen in the UN Sanctions meet has happened. But, India needs to be very careful with China in future.”At the UN sanctions committee meeting, the Chinese representatives blocked the move demanding action against Pakistan over Lakhvi’s release on grounds that India did not provide sufficient information.In the wake of the development, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has himself taken up the issue with the Chinese leadership.A Pakistani court had on April 9 set free Lakhvi, a development which India said “eroded” the value of assurances repeatedly conveyed to it by Pakistan on cross—border terrorism.

Waterloo handshakes as Europe marks bicentenary united | Reuters

WATERLOO, Belgium Descendants of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Duke of Wellington shook hands at Waterloo on the 200th anniversary of a battle that ended French imperial hegemony over Europe and ushered in a century of fragile peace.

Belgium’s king and prime minister, hosting the celebrations, used the occasion on Thursday to hail the European Union, based a few miles away in Brussels, and characterised Waterloo, fought with great loss on June 18, 1815, as a turning point in the development of systems to manage the continent’s many states.

In a symbolic gesture, descendants of the French, British, German and Dutch commanders shook hands: Jean-Christophe Napoleon Bonaparte, a London financier; Arthur Wellesley, son of the current Duke of Wellington; Nikolaus Prince Bluecher, a descendent of the Prussian marshal; and King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, whose ancestor led Wellington’s Dutch allies.

“Those who yesterday were enemies have become the closest of allies,” said Belgian premier Charles Michel. “It is not so much a battle, it is a reconciliation I want to celebrate today.”

He spoke on day when the European Union, already stressed by confrontation with Wellington’s old ally Russia and by fears of Britain quitting the EU in a referendum, found itself facing a “Waterloo” of its own as Greece refused to cut its budget to qualify for EU loans it needs to avoid looming bankruptcy.

King Philippe of the Belgians, whose state was created through the diplomatic system set up in the wake of Waterloo, recalled how the final defeat of a post-revolutionary Napoleonic French empire stretching from Iberia to the Russian frontier led to a “concert of Europe” aimed at settling disputes in peace.

“Today, the European institutions are firmly established in Brussels, a few kilometres from Waterloo,” he said. “Certainly, it is not always easy to get along. But it is always better to meet around the negotiating table than on the battlefield.”

France sent its ambassador to the ceremony, making it the first major anniversary at the site to be marked by all sides.

A music-and-fireworks spectacular, featuring several hundred of the 5,000 battlefield re-enactors gathering for the weekend, marked the end of the bicentenary day on Thursday. Some 200,000 visitors are expected at Waterloo over the coming few days to watch vivid evocations of the bloody summer Sunday 200 years ago when tens of thousands of men died on the field.

(Additional reporting by Yves Herman and Christian Levaux; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Lisa Shumaker)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

India’s ‘most outraged man’ speaks out

The Sikh described on social media as “the most outraged man of India” tells the BBC about his life as the face of Delhi’s street protests.

Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje says she did not seek meeting with Amit Shah

The CMO advised media that they should confirm news contents before publishing or broadcasting them.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje has neither sought an appointment with BJP chief Amit Shah nor has she been denied a meeting, her office on Thursday said amid claims that the party leadership had distanced itself in the wake of allegations against her in the Lalitgate.In a statement, the Press Advisor of Chief Minister’s Office said that a few news channels showed that Raje desired an appointment from Shah but she was denied a meeting, which was “untrue”. It also refuted reports that 30 BJP MLAs went to Delhi in support of Raje.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The CMO advised media that they should confirm news contents before publishing or broadcasting them.After it was alleged that Raje had supported scam-tainted former IPL chief Lalit Modi’s immigration plea in Britain, she had called up Shah on Wednesday and explained her position.Sources had said Raje discussed with Shah the claims made by Lalit Modi and told the party chief that she did share family ties with the former IPL boss but there is no wrongdoing on her part.They said Raje has sought to explain her ties between the two families and her friendship with Modi’s wife but the documents being circulated in the media are “unverified and unsigned”.

Vasundhara Raje supported in writing my immigration plea in UK: Lalit Modi

Lalit Modi, former IPL chief, tonight made explosive claims that Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje had supported in writing his immigration plea in Britain and that he has a “family” relationship with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj whose husband and daughter had provided legal services “free of cost”.

Lalit Modi, former IPL chief, tonight made explosive claims that Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje had supported in writing his immigration plea in Britain and that he has a “family” relationship with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj whose husband and daughter had provided legal services “free of cost”.Holidaying in the tiny Balkan nation of Montenegro, Modi told Rajdeep Sardesai of India Today TV channel in an interview that Raje had accompanied his wife to Portugal for her cancer treatment two years ago. Raje became chief minister of Rajasthan for the second time in December 2013.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The comments of the tainted former IPL Commissioner assume significance because it came hours after it was reported that Raje had given a “Witness Statement” in August 2011 to British authorities supporting his case for immigration in Britain which he has made his base after fleeing from India where he faces serious charges of money laundering and FEMA violations.Raje’s purported “witness statement” was made public earlier in the day on behalf of the Modi camp but later tonight the Chief Minister said she was not aware of this document.”Of course I know the family. I have always known them…(But) I do not know what documents they are talking about,” she told reporters in Jaipur.In the interview Modi said, “My relationship with Vasundhara Raje goes back 30 years. That relationship is known to everybody. She is a close friend of the family and my wife for a long time…She openly agreed to be (to be a witness), but unfortunately by the time the case went to trial, she was already chief Minister, so she did not come to become a witnes. The statements she gave is all on records in the courts.” “Raje and Sushma supported me when my wife was sick,” he said.”It was a family, a legal whatever you may call it. We were very close. But the point is not that…I am very close to a lot of politicians, not only Mrs Swaraj…,” Modi said when asked about his relationship with Sushma Swaraj. “My wife was being taken to Portugal by whom, by Mrs Vasundhara Raje. Nobody knows that, I am putting that on record now,” Modi said, adding she accompanied his wife Minal in 2012 and 2013. The surfacing of the “witness statement” gave a new twist to the controversy surrounding External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s help to Modi to seek British travel documents.”I did ask her(Swaraj) help,” Modi said, adding that he would have made a similar plea to any other External Affairs Minister in office. “I know Swaraj Kaushal(Sushma’s husband) for 20 years. He has been my advocate for 20 years…his daughter Bansuri had been my advocate for four years,” he said, adding that their services had been provided “free of cost”.The Witness Statement came into circulation just hours after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley backed Swaraj saying whatever she had done was in good faith and bona fide. The document had a confidentiality clause in which Raje purportedly supported Modi’s case but did not want it to be revealed to Indian authorities.Swaraj found herself at the centre of a political firestorm after the UK-based Sunday Times reported a “leaked conversation” between influential Labour MP Keith Vaz and head of UK Visas and Immigration Sarah Rapson that cited Swaraj to facilitate travel documents for Lalit Modi.

Lalit Modi row: First crisis of ‘impropriety’ for Modi government?

Government, party back Sushma Swaraj as Opposition wants her resignation.
File Photo
PTI
At a time when the Modi government is focused to act on bringing back black money stashed abroad, the revelations that external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had facilitated travel papers for the former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi have overshadowed BJP’s claims of a taint-free rule since it assumed office a year ago.Lalit Modi is wanted by the Enforcement Directorate in various cases of financial irregularities as well as illegal transfer of money. Even as in a big relief to Swaraj both the government as well as the ruling BJP decided to back her, rejecting any demand for her resignation, political analysts believe an issue of impropriety has hit the Modi government.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Soon after a British newspaper claimed that Keith Vaz, one of Britain’s longest-serving Indian-origin MPs, used her name to pressure Britain’s top immigration official to grant travel papers to Lalit Modi, she had a telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Ironically, the former IPL commissioner is wanted in several cases of financial irregularities being probed by the ED, functioning under the ministry of finance headed by Arun Jaitley. The ED has issued a blue corner notice, meaning that Interpol or law enforcement agencies around the world have to assist in locating, identifying or obtaining information about Lalit Modi wanted in a criminal investigation.Though, it was not known what transpired in the conversation, but it was soon followed by Swaraj’s tweets in which she defended her action. Sensing that the issue was bound to flare up as the first major crisis of credibility for the Modi government, both the BJP as well as the RSS came out defending Swaraj, saying she only acted on humanitarian grounds as Lalit Modi’s wife was suffering from cancer and was being treated in Portugal.BJP president Amit Shah said that it was not like helping Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, accused in Bofors gun case, or Warren Anderson, chief of Union Carbide, responsible for deaths in 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy leave the country. “Sushmaji has herself clarified on Twitter. She has helped an Indian national whose wife was suffering from cancer. She said if British rules permit, then he should be helped. There is no need for creating a furore over it,” Shah said.The party’s defence also followed a 20-minute meeting between Prime Minister Modi and home minister Rajnath Singh. Soon after the meeting, the home minister said the government was standing by Swaraj. “She did what she had to on humanitarian grounds. We think she was right, justified. Sushmaji only asked British high commissioner to do whatever Britain’s rules and regulations permitted,” he said. Swaraj, in a series of tweets, said she helped the former IPL commissioner after he said his wife was suffering from cancer and was to undergo surgery in Portugal.”…Lalit Modi spoke to me that his wife was suffering from cancer and her surgery was fixed for 4th Aug in Portugal.He told me that he had to be present in the hospital to sign the consent papers,” Swaraj tweeted. Ironically in April 2010, Swaraj as leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha had attacked the government on the IPL controversy insisting on setting up a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to look into the financial irregularities. She further said that Lalit Modi had informed her that he had applied for travel documents in London, and the UK government was prepared to give him the travel documents. But were restrained by a UPA government communication that this will spoil Indo-UK relations.Swaraj said she “genuinely believes that in a situation such as this, giving emergency travel documents to an Indian citizen cannot and should not spoil relations between the two countries”. In May 2013, then finance minister, P Chidambaram, wrote two letters to his British counterpart chancellor of exchequer George Osborne asking him for action against Lalit Modi and demanded his repatriation to India for being tried under various offences, including FEMA violations and other violations being investigated by Enforcement Directorate and the Income Tax authorities. A moth later in June, he raised this issue during bilateral talks with with the chancellor of exchequer. Congress seeks probe The opposition Congress has demanded Swaraj’s resignation, saying that Pawan Bansal, Ashwani Kumar and Shahsi Tharoor, all ministers in previous government were forced to leave their office when they were accused in cases of ‘lesser impropriety’.They party also alleged a conflict of interest after reports that Swaraj’s daughter has represented Lalit Modi in Delhi high court. They asked whether Swaraj’s husband Swaraj Kaushal had provided legal counsel to Lalit Modi as well.Court documents list Bansuri Swaraj as one of the lawyers appearing for Modi. Senior leader Digvijaya Singh said, “Shocked by allegations levelled against Sushma Swaraj. She should take moral responsibility and quit. PM Modi must intervene in the matter and order a probe.”There were many, however, attributing Swaraj’s crisis to internal brokering within the BJP. While it is a common knowledge that Lalit Modi is close to Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje, finance minister Arun Jaitley is opposed to the former IPL commissioner and he has shown his resentment in the BCCI meetings as well.

Britain takes cue from India ban, begins testing Maggi for ‘high lead content’

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Will take home ministry to court over deregistration move: Greenpeace India

On Thursday, MHA had barred Greenpeace India from receiving foreign funds with immediate effect and suspended its licence for six months and froze all its accounts, alleging it has “prejudicially” affected the country’s public and economic interests.
File Photo

Greenpeace India on Saturday issued a point by point rebuttal of charges made against it by the NDA Government and said it would not only challenge the order in courts but also continue to campaign fearlessly. The government had on Thursday announced it was “temporarily” suspending Greenpeace India’s registration under the foreign contributions law for “under-reporting” such funding and conducting transactions in such funds without informing the authorities as required by the law. Along with the 180-day suspension, the home ministry froze all seven bank accounts of the organisation and served it a show-cause notice seeking an explanation why its licence should not be cancelled.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> On Saturday Greenpeace said that “This (freezing of accounts) means that GP India’s permission to receive money from overseas is currently suspended. It does not mean that GP India itself has been shut down or will have to shut down. GP India gets nearly 70 percent of its income from domestic donations and will continue to operate on those funds even as it fights the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) suspension.”Greenpeace India “It is the government using strong arm tactics to clamp down on dissenting voices in civil society. We have been vindicated in our position more than once in the courts. In fact, the Delhi High Court held that the actions of the home ministry in the Priya Pillai case were arbitrary and the charges against Greenpeace India were misconceived,””We will not only challenge the Ministry of Home Affairs in courts, but also continue to campaign fearlessly on the issues we work on,” it said. Greenpeace claimed that some of its domestic accounts have been frozen as well. It also denied the allegation that it had sponsored a Channel 4 (Britain) journalist’s visit to the Mahan forests in Madhya Pradesh. “This is one of the many lies in the home ministry report. In a response to Greenpeace, Hugo Ward, director of the programme from Channel 4, denied the allegation,” the statement said. On high salaries being paid to certain senior employees, it said that “We believe that good talent should also be able to work on issues of environment and social justice, and we like to make this possible.” “However, we ensure that there is parity between the amount paid to the executive director and the lowest paid employee in the organisation.”

End of the line for India’s national railways?

Is it the end of the line for India’s national railways?

VVIP chopper scam: Delhi HC seeks response from ED on collection of evidence

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Thursday sought response from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on the time it would take to collect evidence from Britain in a money laundering case in connection with the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal.

Justice Sunil Gaur posed the query to the agency during the hearing of accused businessman Gautam Khaitan’s plea seeking the release of his passport to visit London to hold meetings with his clients.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“You (ED) have to file response regarding how much time it will take to collect the evidence from Britain as you have apprehension on tampering with the evidence by the petitioner (Khaitan),” court said.

The court has now fixed the matter for further hearing on 27 April.

Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, appearing for ED, said the agency was conducting further probe into the money trail and feared Khaitan could tamper with the evidence if he was allowed to go to London.

He contended that ED has been collecting evidence in the case and two key persons related to the case are based there.

To this, the court said “you (ED) may be collecting evidence, but for that you cannot indefinitely curtail the petitioner’s right to travel abroad”.

Jain also told the court that the accused had bought his air tickets before taking the requisite court permission.

Khaitan was granted bail by a trial court here on January nine this year, more than three months after ED arrested him.

Imposing several conditions, the lower court had directed Khaitan to surrender his passport, not to leave the country without prior permission of the court and not to tamper with the evidence in the case.

ED had earlier alleged that a total of 70 million Euros (Rs 360 crore) was paid as kickbacks in the deal.

The trial court had taken cognizance of ED’s chargesheet filed in the case against five accused, including two Italian nationals — Gerosa Carlo Valentino Ferdinand and Haschke Guido Ralph.

ED has also named Khaitan’s wife Ritu Khaitan and Chandigarh-based firm Aeromatrix Info Solutions Pvt Ltd as accused in the case. They were chargesheeted by ED for offences under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

PTI

Rajya Sabha to vote on Modi’s insurance bill

Prime Minister Narendra Modi faced a final vote on plans to open up the insurance sector to foreign companies, amid indications that parliament would pass what would be his first major economic reform.

Members of the Rajya Sabha were expected to vote on Thursday evening to increase the foreign investment limit in local insurers to 49 percent from 26 percent after the opposition Congress party swung behind the bill, which cleared the Lok Sabha last week.

Passage would represent a rare victory for Modi, who was elected last May on a promise of jobs and economic growth. His agenda has been stymied by clashes with the opposition, signalling how hard it will be to deliver on that mandate.

The opening of the insurance sector – which has languished in parliament for more than six years – is one of a series of measures that Modi hopes will make it easier for overseas firms to bet on India’s growth story.

“It has been stuck for such a long time … if it passes it will be a huge boost to investor sentiment,” said Dhirendra Kumar, chief executive of funds and insurance advisory service Value Research.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“I don’t see massive inflows into the sector immediately from foreign investors. Nevertheless, it will be a very positive signal.”

The legislation would shake up India’s overcrowded life insurance sector, allowing global insurers such as Britain’s Prudential  – which holds a minority stake in India’s biggest private life insurer ICICI Prudential Life – and others to increase their Indian stakes.

It could also pave the way for the year’s biggest initial public offering, as HDFC Life, a joint venture between India’s HDFC nd Britain’s Standard Life, has said it would move towards a listing once the rule change is in place.

Congress sources said that, while the party remained opposed to a land acquisition bill that the government was trying to get through parliament, they were willing to back the insurance bill having first proposed the measure back in 2008.

Modi needs both houses of parliament to pass the bill in the current session to prevent an executive order he issued in December to implement the insurance measure from lapsing.

Efforts by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh‘s government to raise the investment cap were thwarted by rival political parties, including Modi’s, which at the time opposed private companies having greater control over insurance funds.

Reuters

Britain warns India of possible terror attack by ISIS

Britain was more focused on the ISIS threat than from Pakistan-based terror groups.

Britain has warned India about possible attack by ISIS and said all efforts must be taken to check activities of the Middle-East terrorist group.British officials have conveyed this to their Indian counterparts at the Indo-UK Counter Terrorism Joint Working Group meeting held in London on January 15-16. Officials said that during the meeting, India had asked Britain to impress upon Pakistan not to differentiate between “good” and “bad” terrorists in the wake of recent attack on a school in Peshawar and said that it must take a firm stand on why Pakistan had become a nursery of terrorists.”We have asked Britain to be alert about possible attack by Lashkar-e-Taiba there. Britain in turn has warned us that an attack by ISIS could take place in India,” an official said.Britain was more focused on the ISIS threat than from Pakistan-based terror groups.”Britain is petrified that a terror attack can take place on its soil by ISIS and radical elements associated with it may help the group,” the official said. British security agencies have good links with Pakistani intelligence agency ISI and they feel that it is an insurance for preventing a terror attack on its soil by Pakistan-based terror groups, the official said.Four Mumbai youth had disappeared in Iraq-Syria in May 2014 and apparently joined ISIS. One of them returned in November last year and was subsequently arrested. A Bangalore-based executive was also arrested last month for operating a pro-ISIS Twitter handle to propagate the ideology of the Middle-East terrorist group. A US-returned engineer, on way to join ISIS, arrested in Hyderabad two days ago.

Lashkar may carry out terror strike before Barack Obama visit

India has stepped up security on its western borders to very high levels following credible intelligence inputs warnings that two groups of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and one group of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) are waiting to infiltrate from Kathua and Poonchh sectors in Jammu to orchestrate terror attacks before US president Barack Obama’s visit.

India has stepped up security on its western borders to very high levels following credible intelligence inputs warnings that two groups of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and one group of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) are waiting to infiltrate from Kathua and Poonchh sectors in Jammu to orchestrate terror attacks before US president Barack Obama’s visit.A group of 12-15 fully trained and equipped Lashkar terrorists who are waiting to infiltrate through Kathua under the supervision of LeT commanders Abdullah Shaheen and Taya Rafiq. Another group of 10 LeT terrorists are waiting at the launching pads in PoK to infiltrate through Poonchh under commander Abdul Rashid, said sources.Besides, the JeM has declared 2015 to be the year of Inquilab-e-Jihad and has also directed its cadres to infiltrate J&K and carry out attacks. “The LeT is also trying to unleash its sleeper cells already present in J&K to carry out terror attacks,” said sources adding that at least 7 LeT terrorists are on the prowl in Kashmir of which 3-4 are foreign terrorists.High threat perception stands from Pakistan based terror outfits despite USA telling Pakistan in unequivocal terms to rein in terror groups to ensure that no terror incident takes place, said government sources.”There are inputs that rogue elements within ISI and Army may try to stage Chittisinghpura kind of massacre during President Obama’s visit. We have picked up information about three groups,” said BSF sources.During US President Bill Clinton’s visit in March 2000, the LeT terrorists wearing Army fatigue had killed 36 Sikhs celebrating Hola Mahalla to create communal tensions on March 26, 2000.Officials said that the threat perception in the capital has been more or less taken care of by making security arrangements impregnable which would compel terrorists to look for other venues elsewhere, especially in Jammu and Kashmir or big Metros. Britain warns India of possible terror attack by ISNew Delhi: Britain has warned India about possible attack by ISIS and said all efforts must be taken to check activities of the Middle-East terrorist group. British officials have conveyed this to their Indian counterparts at the Indo-UK Counter Terrorism Joint Working Group meeting held in London on January 15-16. Officials said that during the meeting, India had asked Britain to impress upon Pakistan not to differentiate between “good” and “bad” terrorists in the wake of recent attack on a school in Peshawar and said that it must take a firm stand on why Pakistan had become a nursery of terrorists.”We have asked Britain to be alert about possible attack by Lashkar-e-Taiba there. Britain in turn has warned us that an attack by ISIS could take place in India,” an official said.

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Urdu has received massive support from Bollywood, says Vice President Hamid Ansari

Vice President of India, Hamid Ansari
File Photo

Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari credited Bollywood for giving a new lease of life to Urdu language by popularising it through films.”In the last 20 years the support Urdu has got in Mumbai film industry is massive. In a way, Bollywood has given a new lease of life to Urdu language by popularising it through films,” he said addressing the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of Urdu Daily “Daily Salar” in Bengaluru.Urdu language is popular due to its romantic and revolutionary spirit, and love can only be better expressed in Urdu language than any other in the world, Ansari said.”Why Urdu is so popular? There are two reasons for it – the spirit of Urdu is revolutionary and romantic. We have seen the face of revolutionary Urdu during the struggle for Indian Independence – many things have been written about it. When it comes to expressing love, there is no other language better than Urdu in the world,” he said.Expressing his happiness, Ansari said Urdu has been getting much support in America and Canada.”Earlier, Urdu was being taught in Germany, France and Britain, but now it is being taught in American and Canadian universities. It is certainly a global language,” he said. Ansari was also happy to note that Urdu enjoyed the status of second largest spoken language in Karnataka.Not only that, after Hindi and English, Urdu is the most spoken language in India, Ansari said and added that there has been a lot of work going on the internet on the language.

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