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After Congress mouthpiece says Sonia’s father had fascist link, party calls magazine ‘defunct’

The AICC spokesperson distanced the party from Nirupam’s act of sacking the magazine editor. “What does he do in his personal capacity is his responsibility. In his personal capacity, he can be editor of any magazine and decide to keep or sack any employee. The party has nothing to do with it,” he said. In Delhi, Congress leaders Salman Khurshid and Raj Babbar said that the issue should be seriously looked into.

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Treat citizens as your ‘boss’, Fadnavis tells police

Meanwhile, Fadnavis and Javed today also launched two Twitter handles – @CPMumbaiPolice and @MumbaiPolice. “I welcome my team on Twitter @MumbaiPolice. We look forward to a stronger bond with the #Mumbaikars!” tweeted Javed.

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Also ReadIndiaOdd-even formula: CNG cars to be given exemption stickers starting tomorrowIndiaAAP leader murdered in New Delhi, body dumped near swampIndiaAfter Congress mouthpiece says Sonia’s father had fascist link, party calls magazine ‘defunct’IndiaTreat citizens as your ‘boss’, Fadnavis tells policeIndiaDDCA row: No clean chit to Arun Jaitley, BJP begging for apology, says Arvind KejriwalIndiaCountry passing through crisis under NDA rule: Sachin Pilot <!– /.block –>

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Dawood visits Pakistan but not a resident, says owner of Pakistani media Dawn

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“Dawood is a murderer. The government should move against all murderers,” he said.

Fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim does not live in Pakistan though he reportedly visits the country often, CEO of a leading media group based in Karachi said here on Thursday. “As far as I know, Dawood Ibrahim is not a resident of Pakistan. I am told he visits Pakistan regularly. I am told he spends time in Dubai and South Africa,” Hameed Haroon, CEO of Dawn Media Group, said. Haroon was responding to a query after a discussion on ‘India and Pakistan: How to make the recent breakthrough in bilateral talks irreversible’, organised by the Mumbai Press Club and the Observer Research Foundation this evening. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Dawood is a murderer. The government should move against all murderers,” he said, adding that “I think of Dawood as a singularly unpleasant chap. I have never seen him.” Further suggesting that if the governments of the two countries were not doing much to further the bilateral ties, then people and organisations including NGOs should take up the initiative. There has to be a people’s movement, as it was during the freedom struggle, to take forward India-Pakistan relations, Haroon added. “Fishermen have now become symbols of the munificence of India and Pakistan. India releases so many fishermen and Pakistan releases so many fishermen. “To make fishermen slaves of the security state and our anger isn’t right,” he said. Both countries should release fishermen, who belong to the poorest sections of society, unilaterally, he said.

‘Adopt a patient’: Tata Memorial offers a succour to cancer-stricken kids

Under this, a donor can adopt a patient (any child whose parents are poor) and bear the medical expenses of that child.

Giving a ray of hope to the cancer-stricken of poor parents, the Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH) is starting an initiative called ‘Adopt a patient’.Under this, a donor can adopt a patient (any child whose parents are poor) and bear the medical expenses of that child.It will be started by the paediatric department, where children below 15 years of age are admitted.Every year, 1,800 children enroll for treatment in the hospital from different parts of the country. TMH has the distinction of being the only hospital in India that deals with all kind of cancer diseases.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Once a kid is diagnosed with cancer, parents will have to spend Rs 2-3 lakh. just to control the disease.There are charity organisations, but they offer financial aid on the basis of documents like ration card, Aadhar card, income certificate and doctor’s letter.But, many people, especially those from other states may not have any kind of document, and, hence, do not get any assistance from these organisations. What’s more shocking is that the hospital has found that most of the times, parents leave the treatment half- way, if it is a girl.To help such patients, the hospital has created the ImPaCCT Foundation. ImPaCCT means Improving Pediatric Cancer Care and Treatment.It will address all needs of the patients. For the unfortunate child that dies, bereavement funds are also provided to the family for the last rites, including transport to his/ her home town.Through this foundation, last year, the hospital spent Rs 14 crore to help needy children. “There are lots of patients who need help, but there’s a funds crunch. Also, we are focusing on the girl child, “said Dr Shripad Banavali, head, medical and paediatric oncology department.”Now, when poor patients come to the hospital with a girl child, our staff give them maximum attention,” said Shalini Jatia, ImPaccT Foundation secretary.

You should cultivate sense of insensitivity to be in politics, says Wipro founder Azim Premji

Premji, whose company’s CSR arm, the Azim Premji Foundation, is already involved in primary education in backward areas among others, said that despite having large-scale projects the intended effect cannot be reached at micro-levels owing to dependency on executing agencies.
File Photo

IT czar Azim Premji on Saturday said one should cultivate a sense of insensitivity to be in politics.”Why am I not in politics? Because I think it would have killed me in a couple of years… you should cultivate a sense of insensitivity to be in politics,” said Premji.The Wipro’s billionaire founder, who has given away almost half of his stake holding in the company to philanthropy, was responding to a question from the audience here at the Indian Institute of Management’s first global alumni conclave and leadership summit ‘IIMBUE’.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On lack of skillful and talented people with philanthropic attitude in politics, he said, “One would definitely encourage talented people to join government and to join politics, the issue is do they have a mental make-up for it?””Certainly they should be encouraged. How do you raise the standard of politics and the standard of governance unless you manage with the right people,” said Premji, who was in conversation with Biocon head and Chairperson of the Board of governors-IIMB Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw on the topic ‘The business of philanthropy’.Responding to a query on the challenges he encountered while giving away money for philanthropy, the business tycoon said, “I think the biggest challenge that we face is the size of the problem, the scope of the problem, the depth of the problem.”Premji, whose company’s CSR arm, the Azim Premji Foundation, is already involved in primary education in backward areas among others, said that despite having large-scale projects the intended effect cannot be reached at micro-levels owing to dependency on executing agencies.”… you are just penetrating a small proportion of the whole scenario, of the problem. That is very frustrating because you just don’t have bandwidth. You may still have the money, you don’t have the bandwidth,” he said.”Second thing is you do rely on government machinery in terms of the work we do, like education. We have to depend on them very significantly, but it is in the slowness of the change… ,” Premji added.Asked for his thoughts on the two per cent CSR mandate, he said, “in principle, I don’t like mandate. So, I would object to a two per cent mandate, but now that’s made accompli, it has become a statutory law.””I think what is good is they have left it up to the governance committee of the company to decide the priority of usage of those funds, all one can wish for is that companies utilise those funds honestly and don’t substitute their own personal charity with company funds. Let us see how it works out… ,” he added.

India should focus more on renewable energy: Expert

According to media reports, US and its allies in the global North, as pushing for equal financial contributions from the developing countries, going against the principle of common but differentiated responsibility.

India needs to establish itself as a natural leader in solar energy

Negotiating its way through the climate talks in Paris, India needs to be careful of not being reactionary, yet be able to give it back in kind and focus on its ambitious renewable energy targets, to counter the spoiler tag coming its way, say experts observing the talks. US Secretary of State, John Kerry’s statement prior to Paris, calling negotiating with India a challenge, set the ball rolling on “political posturing on whom to blame”, as Dr Arunabha Ghosh, CEO of Council for Energy, Environment and Water told dna, India needed to stay it’s course and not rise to the bait.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to media reports, US and its allies in the global North, as pushing for equal financial contributions from the developing countries, going against the principle of common but differentiated responsibility. This has also thrown a spanner in the making that the developed world meet its pledge of $100 billion to help the developing world by 2020, and could sour this crucial stage in the climate negotiations.Srinivas Krishnaswamy, founder of Vasudha Foundation, New Delhi, told dna that “industrialised countries, particularly EU and US are pushing for language on decarbonisation goal as part of the long term goal.” India, he added, was “resisting that language” as “its stance primarily is that it is in a stage of development, where it requires all sources of energy to secure its energy future.”According to him, and Ghosh, India’s trump could be its focus on renewable energy, its ambitious plans to set it up, and establishing itself a natural leader in solar energy with the International Solar Alliance.”The Prime Minister’s speech was a one-two punch,” said Ghosh. It put on the table India’s large plans for renewables and also joined hands with other countries. Thus it maintained a positive position and couldn’t just be seen as a country that wanted to hold on to differentiation.”If countries want to talk coal, then India should talk coal,” Ghosh explained further, as the US consumed more coal today than India will in 2030. The EU used coal in the form of lignite, which was one of the dirtier kinds of coal. India’s lignite usage, said Ghosh, was 1/10th that of the EU’s.Ghosh also said that India’s renewables target had set it on the correct trajectory. It may not achieve 175GW of renewable energy by 2022, but it would get there in time. Krishnaswamy too, comparing India and China, said that “India has already an ambitious RE target until 2022 and if this is realised, could potentially ramp up its RE targets even further until 2030 and despite the head start that China has had on RE, India could very surpass China in the percentage share of RE in its mix.”

Modi and Hollande release Ricky Kej’s album featuring Amitabh Bachchan and Shankar Mahadevan

The music album is made in association with Vivekananda International Foundation and has 14 songs and four music videos. The album also features renowned Asian musicians from China, Vietnam, Japan, Korea and the feted voices of Indian composers Shankar Mahadevan and Hariharan.

Modi and Hollande

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and France President Francois Hollande have launched Grammy award winner Ricky Kej’s new music album ‘Shanti Samsara’ at International Solar Alliance (ISA) launch event held in Paris. Speaking about his epic music project, Ricky said his album was conceptualized through the inspiring words of Modi during his meeting with him in September.Expressing his gratitude to Prime Minister, he thanked him for helping him to channelize his creativity and art towards making a difference and for giving him a perspective on what the world needs, ‘Environmental Consciousness’ <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>’It feels like I have been a musician just so that I could see this day..to see my music hopefully make a small difference in this world’, said the Grammy winner. Featuring over 300 musicians across the globe, the album includes seven Grammy Award Winners who joined hands to create environmental consciousness.The album, which also celebrates nature through different cultures around the world, features Sanskrit verses, spoken words by Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan, Hollywood actress Frances Fisher and BAFTA award Winner Rosanna Arquette. The music album is made in association with Vivekananda International Foundation and has 14 songs and four music videos. The album also features renowned Asian musicians from China, Vietnam, Japan, Korea and the feted voices of Indian composers Shankar Mahadevan and Hariharan.

Varanasi villagers blame Coca-Cola for water scarcity | Reuters

NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Eighteen village councils in Uttar Pradesh are demanding a local Coca-Cola bottling plant be prohibited from extracting water from the ground, claiming its over usage has led to water scarcity in the area, said an environmental campaign group.

The villages, which are located in Mehdiganj area of Varanasi district — the constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi — claim they have been facing water shortages since 1999 when the plant began operations.

“Elected village council heads represent the voice of the people, and they are clear that Coca-Cola is not welcome in Mehdiganj. It is time for Coca-Cola to pack up and leave,” said Amit Srivastava of the California-based India Resource Center, which is supporting the village councils.

“Coca-Cola paints a pretty picture of itself internationally as a responsible user of water, but the reality in India is that it exploits groundwater at the expense of the poor, the women, children, farmers and livestock who have to live with less water because Coca-Cola mines groundwater in a water scarce area for profit.”

Mehdiganj is largely agrarian and communities here rely on groundwater to meet most of their needs, including for personal drinking and washing, irrigation and for livestock. 

Coca-Cola uses the same groundwater source to meet its production needs — placing it in direct competition with the local community, environmentalists say.

Srivastava said the 18 village councils had written to State Pollution Control Board, which granted a license to Coca-Cola, urging authorities to prohibit the company from extracting any more groundwater in the area.

He also pointed to recent data released by the Central Ground Water Authority which declared Arajiline block, where the bottling plant in located, as “over exploited” in 2011.

Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt ltd said a 2012 study by another authority called the Central Ground Water Board into a complaint by villagers of ponds, wells and hand pumps drying up found no evidence that the company was responsible.

“The Central Ground Water Board observed that this depletion was not due to withdrawal of ground water by Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt. Ltd (HCCBPL) plant,” said a company statement emailed to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“The report further mentioned there was a clear trend of water depletion in seven blocks of Varanasi district and particularly in Arajiline block, the rate was higher.”

Despite the decline, the report also said there was enough water in ponds, dug-wells and good crops of wheat and mustard were observed in the fields, the statement added.

(Reporting by Nita Bhalla, Editing by Ros Russell)

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

Dr Kanav Kahol’s one stop solution for 33 medical tests

Swasthya Slate developed by Dr Kanav Kahol of the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) is able to carrying out 33 different tests and give instant results.

Dr Kanav Kahol believes India is the greatest place to be an engineer.

iamin.in
Picture this – you are unwell and your doctor orders you to get a battery of tests done. You spend the next few days going to different labs and then few more days waiting for the results. Once again you are back to the doctor for a diagnosis. Now, here is a kit that lets you do around 33 different kinds of tests at one go, ranging from haemoglobin test to ECG and gives you the result instantly?Delivering healthcare to millionsSwastya Slate is a health device that uses technology to deliver healthcare solution to millions across India. The mobile device that costs Rs. 15,000 at present has empowered thousands of primary healthcare workers to give patients instant results, cutting down on both costs and time taken. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Dr Kanav Kahol, 36, of the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) who developed the device says, “We wanted to develop a technology that will work in rural areas and provide care that is on par or better than high-quality clinics in places like Mumbai and Paris.” Apart from several Indian states like Odisha, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, the kit is also used by healthcare workers in Nigeria, Singapore, Norway, Canada and UK.Involving the largest healthcare providerThe initiative has helped government, private players and several NGOs reach out to a large part of rural India.”Government has a huge role to play as it is the largest healthcare provider. They have done a fabulous job and set up centres in remote places where you think nothing could have been built. But there is a need to empower those running the centres,” says Kahol who feels that one of the ways to meet targets could be to encourage more Public Private Partnership models (PPP). He cautions that quality and regulation must go hand in hand.But what about the danger of equipping a primary healthcare worker with too much responsibility where doctors are short and no monitoring mechanism is in place? Dr Kahol insists that PHFI ensures that those hired are certified and trained but does concede that there are risks and they are trying to deal with them. One of the things he did was to keep ultrasound out of the kit as, in his own words, the results could be “disastrous” in the Indian context.’Need for a dialogue with healthcare workers’The problem with research in healthcare technology is not the lack of desire but with engineers not knowing which problem to solve, and acting like “misguided missiles”, feels Dr Kohol. He adds, “A lot of products coming out of IITs are waste because there are legal issues involved. There is a policy framework in place.” He stresses on the need to understand the ground issues and finding a solution to them for which a continuous dialogue is needed.And what brought the Ph.D. from Arizona State University who was working under a Nobel Prize winner back to India? “Delhi Chaat,” he quips and also because he believes “India is the greatest place to be an engineer.””I was already in a system that seemed like the best. I did not want to focus on just the top 2% of the population,” he signs off.(Dr Kanav Kahol will be speaking at the TEDxGateway, Mumbai, on December 5, 2015 at NCPA)
This article was originally published on iamin.in. For more such hyperlocal stories, visit their website.

Battery of 33 tests, packed in Dr Kanav Kahol’s Swasthya Slate

Swasthya Slate developed by Dr Kanav Kahol of the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) is able to carrying out 33 different tests and give instant results.

Dr Kanav Kahol believes India is the greatest place to be an engineer.

Swasthya Slate developed by Dr Kanav Kahol of the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) is able to carrying out 33 different tests and give instant results.Picture this – you are unwell and your doctor orders you to get a battery of tests done. You spend the next few days going to different labs and then few more days waiting for the results. Once again you are back to the doctor for a diagnosis. Now, here is a kit that lets you do around 33 different kind of tests at one go, ranging from haemoglobin test to ECG and gives you the result instantly?<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delivering healthcare to millionsSwastya Slate is a health device that uses technology to deliver healthcare solution to millions across India. The mobile device that costs Rs. 15,000 at present has empowered thousands of primary healthcare workers to give patients instant results, cutting down on both costs and time taken. Dr Kanav Kahol, 36, of the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) who developed the device says, “We wanted to develop a technology that will work in rural areas and provide care that is on par or better than high quality clinics in places like Mumbai and Paris.” Apart from several Indian states like Odisha, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, the kit is also used by healthcare workers in Nigeria, Singapore, Norway, Canada and UK.Involving the largest healthcare providerThe initiative has helped government, private players and several NGOs reach out to a large part of rural India.”Government has a huge role to play as it is the largest healthcare provider. They have done a fabulous job and set up centres in remote places where you think nothing could have been built. But there is a need to empower those running the centres,” says Kahol who feels that one of the ways to meet targets could be to encourage more Public Private Partnership models (PPP). He cautions that quality and regulation must go hand in hand.But what about the danger of equipping a primary healthcare worker with too much responsibility where doctors are short and no monitoring mechanism is in place? Dr Kahol insists that PHFI ensures that those hired are certified and trained but does concede that there are risks and they are trying to deal with them. One of the things he did was to keep ultrasound out of the kit as, in his own words, the results could be “disastrous” in the Indian context.’Need for a dialogue with healthcare workers’The problem with research in healthcare technology is not the lack of desire but with engineers not knowing which problem to solve, and acting like “misguided missiles”, feels Dr Kohol. He adds, “A lot of products coming out of IITs are waste because there are legal issues involved. There is a policy framework in place.” He stresses on the need to understand the ground issues and finding a solution to them for which a continuous dialogue is needed.And what brought the PhD from Arizona State University who was working under a Nobel Prize winner back to India? “Delhi Chaat,” he quips and also because he believes “India is the greatest place to be an engineer.””I was already in a system that seemed like the best. I did not want to focus on just the top 2% of the popultaion,” he signs off.(Dr Kanav Kahol will be speaking at the TEDxGateway, Mumbai, on 5th December, 2015 at NCPA)First published on iamin.in

Grant licences to dance bars in 2 weeks: Supreme Court tells Maharashtra

The Bench, meanwhile, allowed Vinod Patil, president of the R R Patil Foundation, to intervene in the matter. Patil, in his plea, had claimed that reopening dance bars would increase crim

Observing that dance is a respectable concept in India and women can’t be barred from earning livelihood by dancing, the Supreme Court (SC) asked the Maharashtra government to implement its order granting licences to restaurant owners in two weeks. The court questioned the state government’s arguments on morality to ban dance bars and asked the Devendra Fadnavis government to regulate obscenity, too. Expressing displeasure over the state government’s delay in implementing its direction, a Bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said: “Dance is a respectable concept in India and how can women be barred from earning livelihood by performing dance?”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Maharashtra, said that any direction of the court will be respected and adhered to. The Bench, meanwhile, allowed Vinod Patil, president of the R R Patil Foundation, to intervene in the matter. Patil, in his plea, had claimed that reopening dance bars would increase crime. On October 15, the Bench stayed an amended law, Maharashtra Police (second amendment) Act, passed by the Maharashtra Assembly, banning dance bars. Restaurant owners had challenged the amendment, arguing that the state was thwarting the intention of the court. The top court concurred, observing that although it had set aside a similar provision, the law had been brought back in a new manner. Nearly 1,500 bars across Maharashtra had employed more than 75,000 women dancers before the state government first imposed the ban in 2005. The Maharashtra Assembly first passed the law that year enabling the ban, which the Bombay High Court (HC) struck down as “unconstitutional” in 2006. The state government approached the SC against the HC’s judgment and the matter was decided in July 2013, with the top court, too, rejecting the ban. The state assembly had, on June 13 last year, passed the Maharashtra Police (second amendment) Bill, which prevented licences for dance performances in three-star and five-star hotels. The ban also covered drama theaters, cinema halls, auditoriums, sports clubs and gymkhanas, where entry is restricted only to members.

Maharashtra: After Pune, Aurangabad institute to teach Constitution

Encouraged by the success achieved by a Pune organisation, the Bapu-Sudha Kaldate Pratishthan in Aurangabad is also introducing a course on the Indian Constitution. The course aims at de-mystifying the Constitution and bringing forth the inherent genius in the grand work. Together, they are the only two organisations in the state that are taking awareness of the Constitution to the common man.Bapu-Sudha Kaldate Pratishthan has admitted 60 students for the course in the first batch.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On 26 November last year, when SM Joshi Socialist Foundation in Pune had started this course, they got an overwhelming response with 120 applying to join the course. However, only 80 were admitted in the first batch. There are no criteria of eligibility for the course as anyone who are interested can take it up. This is a 96-hour course involving 12 Sundays and as per the schedule students have to seat in the class for 8 hours every Sunday.”Such a course is need of the hour. Our aim is to make responsible citizens and they should know the Constitution of their own country. After starting it in Pune, we are introducing it in Aurangabad this year. Soon, we shall start this course in Mumbai too in association with Keshav Gore Smarak Trust. We are getting good response for this course. There is no affiliation with any university for this course and we are not taking any exam on it. Our focus is on students attending the course properly. We will issue a certificate after the completion of the course,” said Subhash Ware, chief functionary of the course in Pune.”Our first batch is full with 60 students. We have invited experts from the different place of the country to conduct this course. I think every citizen of this country should be aware of the Constitution,” said Vijay Shinde, course co-ordinator, Aurangabad.

Sholapur: When 151 couples from different religions got married in a common ceremony

The grand affair, conducted by Lokmangal Foundation helped 151 couples get married.

151 couples walking towards the wedding area while thousands gather to witness the ceremony

In a unique wedding ceremony, 151 couples from Sholapur district were married in a mass wedding organised by Lokmanya organisation on Sunday. The two fold agenda of this a wedding was to promote equality by keeping it open to all religions and help the debt-ridden poor strata of society.This a great move, especially considering the debate around rising wave of intolerance. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>AT A GLANCEThe procession of couples was organised in 160 auto rickshaws and their various wedding needs were met too such as wedding wardrobe, mangalsutra, utensils, bags, etc.
However, the prime attractions of the whole set up were drones and CC cameras that were used to ensure that the ten screens which were put across the city could cover the wedding live. The grand affair, under the guidance of founder chairman Subhash Deshmukh, the sitting MP of South Solapur, was graced by cine artist Sayaji Shinde, Ujwal Nikam and other leading politicians, counsellors, industrialists, professionals and social workers of the area. ​Apart from the mass weddings, a blood donation camp as well as an exhibition titled “Atulya Solapur” on the lines of the approval of smart city project for Solapur was held too. Around 2500 volunteers and 70 committees were involved to make this event a success.

Blow to Janardan Mahto claims, DNA tests say Geeta is not his daughter

Proving his claims to be otherwise, now a DNA test revealed today that Janardan Mahto, a labourer from a Bihar’s Saharsa is not Geeta’s father.

On 20 October, Mahto had left for Delhi after Geeta arrived to India from Pakistan in hopes to meet his daughter, a newswire18 report said. Geeta, the deaf-mute Indian woman who had been living in Pakistan had accidentally crossed the border over a decade ago. She failed to recognise the family she has identified from photographs.

Geeta in Delhi. PTIGeeta in Delhi. PTI

Geeta in Delhi. PTI

After seeing Geeta on television, Mahto had claimed two months back that Geeta was actually his daughter Hira. Mahto was so confident of his claims that he even readily agreed for a DNA tests.

“I will go for a DNA test before the government will hand her over to me,” Mahto had said earlier according to the news18 report.

Mahto had claimed that “Geeta went missing from Kartarpur near Jalandhar, where she had gone to a ‘Baisakhi mela’ in 2004 when he was working as a labourer in Punjab”.

The story of Geeta, a woman in her early 20s, captivated people in both countries at a time of heightened tension and border clashes between the nuclear-armed rivals.

“It doesn’t matter if we find her parents or not, she is a daughter of India and we will take care of her,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had told a news conference on 20 October.

Geeta was about 11 when she crossed from India into Pakistan. Exactly how is not clear but Geeta mimes an explosion and shows how she ducked and ran before being caught by armed men.

At first, after she crossed over accidentally Geeta was kept at a children’s home in Lahore, where she was given the Muslim name Fatima.

She would point at maps of India, especially to an area in the south of Jharkhand until she was able to finally communicate she was from India, not Pakistan.

“Geeta stayed with us for 13 years. Now it’s time for her to go home,” said Faisal Edhi last month, son of the founder of Edhi Foundation, a Pakistani charity that looked after the girl.

With IANS & Reuters input

PM Narendra Modi hails Basaveshwara for giving principles of democracy

Describing Basaveshwara as a Karma Yogi, Modi said he spread the message ‘work is worship’ and advocated parliamentary democracy much before the Magna Carta.

“When I was with (British) PM David Cameron he was showing me the Magna Carta. But long before him Basaveshwara gave the principles of democracy,” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday unveiled here a statue of Basaveshwara, the 12th century Indian philosopher and social reformer, praising him for giving the world ideals of democracy much before the Magna Carta.”Basaveshwara fought against the caste system and evil forces in society. I hope people will try to understand what he advocated,” Modi said. Describing Basaveshwara as a Karma Yogi, Modi said he spread the message ‘work is worship’ and advocated parliamentary democracy much before the Magna Carta.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”When I was with (British) PM David Cameron he was showing me the Magna Carta. But long before him Basaveshwara gave the principles of democracy,” he said.Magna Carta, meaning ‘The Great Charter’, is one of the most famous documents in the world. Originally issued by King John of England (1199-1216) as a practical solution to the political crisis he faced in 1215, Magna Carta established for the first time the principle that everybody, including the king, was subject to the law. “This statue will be an inspiration for all those who believe in democratic ideals,” he said. Dr Neeraj Patil, the former mayor Lambeth who initiated the drive for installing Basaveshwara’s statue here, announced that the Basaveshwara Foundation will donate 250,000 pounds to the friends of Vauxhall Plessure Garden for donating the land where the statue is installed.Basaveshwara shares a conceptual relationship with Britain because he preached British values of democracy, freedom of speech, equality of opportunity and tolerance way back in the 12th century. Basaveshwara’s statue is the first Indian statue approved on the conceptual basis in the vicinity of British Parliament.

AIDS preventive medicine available from December in Sonagachi

One of Asia’s largest red light districts, Sonagachi will next month roll out an experimental project for providing HIV-preventive medicine to sex workers in what will be the first such initiative in the country.

File photo of Sonagachi sex workers

One of Asia’s largest red light districts, Sonagachi will next month roll out an experimental project for providing HIV-preventive medicine to sex workers in what will be the first such initiative in the country.The feasibility project recently received clearance from the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) and Union Health Ministry and is likely to commence in December.”We recently gave clearance to this project. It is a feasibility project. It is for the first time that such a project is being taken up in India,” national programme officer at NACO, BB Rewari, said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Under the project, ‘Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis’ (PrEP), regular medicine would be given to an HIV-negative sex worker who engages sexually with an HIV-positive person, said a senior official of an NGO working for the welfare of sex workers.The medicine is designed to prevent sex workers from HIV infection, said Samarjit Jana principal of the NGO, Sonagachi Research and Training Institute (SRTI).”We have already started survey of HIV-positive and HIV- negative sex workers in Sonagachi. We hope the project will start from December this year,” Jana said.The project is to be financed by the Melinda Gates Foundation.SRTI is an arm of the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC), a forum of 1,30,000 sex-workers in West Bengal.According to Protim Roy, a doctor associated with the project, an awareness drive for the campaign has already been taken up among the sex workers.Jana said that the use of condoms and taking PrEP medicine everyday would offer double protection against HIV infection.”We all know that use of condoms has brought down the prevalence of HIV, but often customers do not use condoms. In such cases and in cases of defective condoms, the virus can infect a person. This can be prevented by regular intake of such a medicine,” he explained.Rewari agreed that PrEP has the potential to bring down the HIV risk factor by 60-70% among high-risk groups such as sex-workers.

Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi calls for new anti-child labour law

Amid applause from law students Satyarthi, who jointly won the Nobel Peace prize last year for his fight against oppression of children across the world, said much of his achievements came from the profound support his organisation ‘Bachpan Bachao Andolan’ received from the courts.
File Photo
AFP photo
Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi on Saturday pitched to leaders of all political parties to immediately pass the pending Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill in Parliament which seeks complete ban on all forms of child labour in the country.”Since the only law prevailing in the country on child labour for last 30 years has become obsolete and ineffective in achieving its desired goal, we need to have a new and good anti-child labour law to abolish all forms of child labour in the country”, Satyarthi said while delivering the first Foundation Day lecture of National Law University in New Delhi.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amid applause from law students Satyarthi, who jointly won the Nobel Peace prize last year for his fight against oppression of children across the world, said much of his achievements came from the profound support his organisation ‘Bachpan Bachao Andolan’ received from the courts.”Indian judiciary and legal mechanisms are in safe hands but a lot needs to be done as challenges are plenty”, he said urging the law students to work hard to free child labour in the country.”Currently there are over 4.3 million child labourers in India and last year only 147 cases were filed against their employers that saw an abysmal low conviction rate of only two per cent,” he said.Presided over by the University Vice-Chancellor Prof Srikrishna Deva Rao, the Foundation Lecture was also addressed by senior judge of Supreme Court Justice Dipak Misra and Orissa High Court Chief Justice D H Waghela.Many legal luminaries of the State including judges of the High Court were also present on the occasion.

Indore administration to forward couple who claim to be Geeta’s parents’ petition to MEA

Geeta, who had landed in Pakistan accidentally as a child and stayed there for over 10 years, is currently lodged at an institution for the hearing and speech impaired in Indore.
File Photo
PTI
The district administration has said that they will send the application of a couple, claiming to be the parents of Geeta, the deaf and mute girl who returned to India from Pakistan recently, to the Ministry of External Affairs for further assistance.”The application of the couple will be sent to the Ministry of External Affairs and after the MEA’s decision, a call will be taken on it,” district collector P Narhari told PTI.Geeta, who had landed in Pakistan accidentally as a child and stayed there for over 10 years, is currently lodged at an institution for the hearing and speech impaired in Indore. Ramraj Gautam (45) and his wife Anara Devi, hailing from Rama-ka-Purva village of Pratapgarh in Uttar Pradesh, claimed that Geeta was their daughter and her original name was Savita. The couple carried a photograph claiming that it was that of Geeta’s childhood.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We want to meet Geeta just once. If she refuses to recognise us, we will return home immediately,” emotionally charged Anara said.They had expressed their willingness to undergo a DNA test to back their claim of parenthood.”I am sure that Geeta is my daughter Savita who went missing from my brother-in-law’s ashram at Chhapra in Bihar 11 years ago. I and my wife are ready to undergo DNA test to prove our claim,” Gautam told PTI.Stating that his wife’s brother was a monk, he said, “I had kept my daughter in his ashram for treatment. She was eight-year-old when she went missing”. Geeta was reportedly only 7-8 years old when she was found sitting alone on the Samjhauta Express at Lahore Station by the Pakistan Rangers 15 years ago. She was adopted by Edhi Foundation’s Bilquis Edhi and lived with her in Karachi. She returned to India on October 26.

Kick row: MP minister says video a ‘lie’; Opposition demands her sacking

“The video being played on various channels is an absolute lie,” she said.

Video of the MP minister kicking child

Image Courtesy: Twitter (ANI)
Madhya Pradesh minister Kusum Mahdele, who was caught on camera purportedly kicking a boy, on Monday sought to defend herself by saying that the video being played on news channels was an “absolute lie”, even as Congress and AAP demanded her resignation over the issue. TV channels had yesterday aired footage of Animal Husbandry Minister Mahdele purportedly kicking the boy, with a video clip of the incident also going viral on social media. In the video, Mahdele, one of the senior members of the state Cabinet, was seen kicking the boy as he bowed to touch her feet at a function organised to celebrate Madhya Pradesh Foundation Day near the bus stand in Panna district.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”As I was going towards my car, there was a reporter who with a cameraman came to take my interview. I was answering some questions while moving towards my car when somebody fell on my feet. Nothing more than this happened. So, I didn’t even see his face. I have not seen any video yet. The video being played on various channels is an absolute lie,” she said.Demanding that Mahdele be sacked, senior Congress leader Manish Tewari said, “Such a minister should be sacked from the government. Those who can be insensitive towards children… can go around kicking children, they should have no place in the government.””The unfortunate reality is that the government — the BJP-led NDA at the Centre and the state dispensation — are extremely immune to criticism. Therefore, you will find out that no action will be taken,” he added. The Aam Aadmi Party too sought her resignation and petitioned the Madhya Pradesh Human Rights Commission for stern action against her. “We lodged a complaint with MPHRC acting Chairman Veerendra Mohan Kanwar seeking stern action against Mahdele for meting out ill-treatment to the boy who sought Re 1 help from her,” AAP state Secretary Akshay Hoonka said.When the minister kicked the boy on his head, local leaders and Panna district administration remained mute spectators to the inhumane act, Hoonka alleged. The BJP has failed to provide education to children in MP and instead of helping them, it was kicking them, he claimed. The AAP leader said the minister has grossly violated human rights and she should be punished. “We also protested near the MPHRC office and at Mahdele’s residence in Panna district seeking her resignation,” he said.

Shiv Sena workers who blackened Latur RTI activist’s face sacked: Aaditya Thackeray

Shiv Sena workers had assaulted and blackened the face of an RTI activist at Latur in Marathwada region, after he “exposed” an illegal construction case.

The Sena workers brought Bhaikatti to the college premises when around 4,000 students were present and assaulted him with an iron rod, before blackening his face.

Image courtesy: ANI Twitter handle
Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray said on Friday that Shiv Sena workers who blackened the face of RTI activist in Latur have been sacked by party.Shiv Sena workers had assaulted and blackened the face of an RTI activist at Latur in Marathwada region, after he “exposed” an illegal construction case.The activist Mallikarjun Bhaikatti had, through an RTI query, revealed that around 14,000 sq feet illegal construction was carried out in a four-storeyed building and boys hostel on the Latur-Nanded road. Bhaikatti had addressed a press conference at Latur on Thursday to “expose” the illegal construction, police said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Sena workers brought Bhaikatti to the college premises when around 4,000 students were present and assaulted him with an iron rod, before blackening his face. The injured RTI activist was admitted to a hospital in Latur.Local Sena activist Abhay Salunke said Bhaikatti was a “blackmailer”.Earlier this month, Sena workers had blackened the face of Sudheendra Kulkarni, chairman of the Observer Research Foundation, in an ink attack ahead of the launch of ‘Neither a Hawk Nor a Dove: An Insider’s Account of Pakistan’s Foreign Relations’ authored by former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri.

After Shiv Sena ink attack, Sudheendra Kulkarni to visit Pak for Kasuri’s book launch

Kulkarni said he has accepted Kasuri’s invitation to join the launch of his book ‘Neither a Hawk nor a Dove’ in Karachi on November 2, along with a number of prominent Pakistanis and Indians.

Sudheendra Kulkarni and Khurshid Kasuri at the book launch in Mumbai

Observer Research Foundation Chairman Sudheendra Kulkarni, who was sprayed with black paint by Shiv Sainiks for organising former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri’s book launch in Mumbai, will travel to Karachi next week to attend the launch of the same book.Kulkarni said he has accepted Kasuri’s invitation to join the launch of his book ‘Neither a Hawk nor a Dove’ in Karachi on November 2, along with a number of prominent Pakistanis and Indians.Related Read: Uddhav Thackeray felicitates six Shiv Sena workers who smeared Sudheendra Kulkarni’s face<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Shiv Sena’s protests show face of cultural terrorism in India: Sudheendra KulkarniThe ORF chairman stated this at a panel discussion during the Tata Literature Live festival in Mumbai last night. Both Kasuri, who was in Delhi earlier this month in connection with his book launch, and Kulkarni, who had invited him to launch his book in Mumbai, were repeatedly warned by Shiv Sena to cancel the event.However, they refused to bow down to this pressure. Later, Kulkarni became the victim of a paint attack by Shiv Sena members ahead of the launch of Kasuri’s book in Mumbai on October 12.The Shiv Sena had vehemently opposed the event and threatened to disrupt it. Prior to it, the Sena had also forced the cancellation of Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali’s concert in Mumbai.

Mark Zuckerberg presents his case on Net neutrality, all IITians not amused

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during an interaction with IIT students in New Delhi on Wednesday

PTI
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s status as a hero of the masses was evident when he walked on stage at Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, on Wednesday. As star-struck students, chosen to attend by lottery, cheered in the “town hall” session, Zuckerberg talked about bringing connectivity to millions without the Internet. His conversation led repeatedly Facebook’s highly controversial internet.org platform, now rebranded Free Basics, stressing it did not violate net neutrality.Open-source platform internet.org was unveiled last October in India and invited much opposition, and a slew of petitions, on the grounds that it gave the social media website and its partnering telecom operator, Reliance Communications, a competitive edge. Zuckerberg hit back, saying that those without Internet couldn’t even sign such petitions; that he and Facebook should be trusted to back greater connectivity for all.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Questions from students at the tightly guarded hall were vetted from a pre-submitted list, and allowed Zuckerberg to explain how Free Basics would help those without the Internet. “We absolutely support net neutrality,” he said, adding they had backed such rules in the United States. However, he said, “it can be taken too far.” According to him providing free Internet is expensive, and if the poor could access basic “low bandwidth” services, created by developers for the platform, that would help them, “where’s the harm in that”.What wasn’t said was, since Facebook and the telecom operator would select those services, every submission by every developer would not be put out on Free Basics.Technology journal Medianama founder, Nikhil Pahwa, told dna, “If Facebook and its partner have a competitive advantage doesn’t this violate net neutrality? Give the whole internet for free. Don’t give a menu of services.”In a spreadsheet doing the rounds online, Pahwa broke down the claims made by Zuckerberg, saying that Free Basics does not guarantee an open web; it could discourage consumers from transitioning to the latter, and didn’t allow them to choose services either.Pahwa said that Facebook’s assertion that there can be no web access for the poor without Free Basics is wrong. Both he and Rachita Taneja, a campaigner for non-profit organisation Jhatka, campaigning for net neutrality, and speaking out against Facebook on notreallyinternet.org, said that alternatives do exist. They cited non-profit Mozilla Foundation’s partnership with Grameenphone in Bangladesh, allowing users to receive 20 MB of free data usage in exchange for viewing advertisements. Its partnership with Orange would allow Africans to purchase $40 Firefox OS smartphones that come packaged with 3-6 free months of voice, text, and up to 500 MB of data per month, said Jhatka’s open letter to Zuckerberg.Pahwa added that WiFi provider Ozone has similar services in India.Taneja said, “Hundreds and thousands of Indians, through petitions, through the Trai and DoT submissions, have taken action for a neutral internet. He can’t dismiss that.”Though Zuckerberg managed to sway many IIT students not all were moved. As one young student said, “His intentions may be good, but this seems like monopoly to me.”

Edhi foundation turns down Narendra Modi’s donation, but MEA denies this

Reports started emerging that Abdul Sattar had refused Modi’s donation, as the Foundation’s own principals stopped it from accepting funds from governments. Modi would not be alone in his rejection, as the Foundation had also turned down donations from Pakistan’s late president Zia ul-Haq.

Geeta meets Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal
Manit
dna
The unfolding story of Geeta coming home continues with its twists and turns on Tuesday. After Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a donation of Rs1 crore to the Edhi Foundation, whose founders Abdul Sattar and Bilquis Bano had adopted the young deaf-mute woman in Karachi, on Monday evening, Tuesday saw reports of the Foundation turning down this sum.Reports started emerging that Abdul Sattar had refused Modi’s donation, as the Foundation’s own principals stopped it from accepting funds from governments. Modi would not be alone in his rejection, as the Foundation had also turned down donations from Pakistan’s late president Zia ul-Haq.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, contradictory to these reports, Ministry of external affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said that they were in touch with Bilquis Bano, who had been Geeta’s mother figure all these years, and she had ‘graciously accepted’ the offer.Geeta herself called on President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday, along with the visiting Edhi Foundation officials, including Bilquis Bano. The President blessed Geeta, calling her “the daughter of both our country, a symbol of India-Pakistan unity. God has listened to your prayers”. He also complimented and thanked Bilqis Bano Edhi and Edhi Foundation for the good work they were doing.Geeta also met Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal at his residence in the morning, who apparently offered her every possible help. In a day of adventures, she rode the Delhi metro, and visited the Metro Museum before she flew off to Indore, accompanied by Thaawar Chand Gehlot, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment.In Indore, till her family is located, Geeta will be with Monica Punjabi and the Indore Deaf Bilingual Academy. the Academy is run by Punjabi’s mother Usha Punjabi and her father Rajkumar Punjabi is the founder. Both Usha and Rajkumar Punjabi are deaf mute, due to which they started this academy, to help others who shared their disability. Monica’s thorough background as an interpreter of Indian Sign Language and educator for the deaf-mute, is what led the government to select her to help Geeta, as external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj informed the press on Monday. In Indore, Geeta is set to learn Indian Sign Language, and vocational skills. Geeta herself expressed a wish to learn these skills and work so as to be able to stay in India.

Sushma Swaraj thanks Edhi foundation for safeguarding Geeta’s religion

“I would like to thank the Edhi foundation, I would like to thank Abdul Sattar Edhi and Bilquis Edhi, you not only gave her mother’s love but also protected her faith,’ Swaraj said at a press conference.

Geeta and Sushma Swaraj

Expressing her gratitude towards the Edhi Foundation for taking care of Geeta during her stay in Pakistan, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday said that institution’s founders Abdul Sattar Edhi and Bilquis Edhi had not only given ‘motherly love’ to the girl but also safeguarded her religion. ‘Today is a day of great happiness, after years our Geeta has returned to her homeland. India welcomes its daughter back home. I would like to thank the Edhi foundation, I would like to thank Abdul Sattar Edhi and Bilquis Edhi, you not only gave her mother’s love but also protected her faith,’ Swaraj said at a press conference.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The External Affairs Minister said that the process to bring back Geeta started after a news channel reported about her. ‘Sometime back there was a TV report saying that a girl had gone across the border by mistake and she wants to come back. She was in the Edhi Foundation there. I immediately asked Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan Raghavan ji to look into the matter,’ Swaraj said.’He went to Karachi, inquired there and told me that the girl is definitely Indian and she wants to come to India. She gave him some information about her home and surroundings,’ she added. Swaraj further said that Geeta had failed to recognise the photographs of two families, which had claimed that she was their daughter. ‘We started searching for her family. Four couple claimed that Geeta was their daughter, they were all from different regions, from Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand. I asked the state governments to find out the truth,’ she said. ‘Some of them were ruled out as facts did not corroborate with what Geeta had said. We then sent the photographs of parents from Pratapgarh and Telangana to Pakistan, Geeta failed to recognise both of them. After that the Mahato couple met and said that Geeta is their daughter,’ she added.Swaraj said that Geeta finally recognised the members of Mahato family. ‘We sent their photos to Geeta and she recognised them, she asked for photographs of her siblings. She recognised a few of them. We decided that we would bring her back, but also thought that there has to a scientific way to establish her relationship with parents,’ Swaraj said. ‘We decided to conduct DNA testing of both. We took Mahato couple’s blood samples and collected Geeta’s blood sample also today, we have sent both for testing,’ she added.
Swaraj said that Geeta, who arrived here a short while back, will be kept in an institution in Indore as she has failed to recognise Mahato couple. She will be under the care of the government till DNA tests establish Geeta’s parentage. Geeta had strayed into Pakistan at the age of 11 and was handed over to the Edhi Foundation by the police, who found her at Lahore railway station.Escorted by five members of the Edhi Foundation, Geeta arrived at the IGI airport in the national capital today.

Shiv Sena disrupts Pakistani play in Gurgaon, challenges Modi-Kejriwal government

When asked how they would react to Delhi hosting Ghulam Ali or other Pakistani artists, Shiv Sena challenged the Modi (centre) or Kejriwal (Delhi) government to do so.

Shiv Sena Media In-Charge Rituraj

On Saturday, several Shiv Sena activists disrupted a play by a Pakistani group. Rituraj, who claimed to be Shiv Sena’s media in-charge said that the Sena would continue to do so until the Pakistan didn’t stop ceasefire violations. When asked how they would react to Delhi hosting Ghulam Ali or other Pakistani artists, Rituraj challenged the Modi (centre) or Kejriwal government to do so (host an event with Pakistani artists). “They shouted slogans like ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ and ‘Pakistan Murdabad’ and disrupted the show for about 5-10 minutes,” Public Relations Officer of Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon Satbir Rohilla told PTI. Though some reports said Shiv Sena activists pulled down Pakistani flags put on the stage, Rohilla said nothing of that sort happened. The show by the artistes from ‘Mass Foundation’, Lahore, he said, later resumed.Rohilla said the concerned authorities decided against reporting the matter to the police as they did not want to “turn the trouble makers into heroes”. Deputy Commissioner of Police (East) Deepak Sharan said though no complaint has been registered by the organisers of the show, the matter is being investigated. (Read: Bollywood lashes out at Shiv Sena)

Motorcyclists most vulnerable to road accidents: WHO

The most vulnerable lot are the motorcyclists, who make up for 23 per cent of all road traffic deaths.
Representational Image
dna Research & Archives
As per the latest World Health Organisation (WHO) report, as many as 16.6 people per lakh die in road accidents in India, resulting in a loss of 3 % of Gross Domestic Product for the country. In its Global Road Safety Report, the WHO has stated that more attention is required to protect the vulnerable road users and improve vehicle safety. The most vulnerable lot are the motorcyclists, who make up for 23 % of all road traffic deaths. “In many regions, the problem is increasing. In the region of the Americas, for example, the proportion of motorcycle deaths out of all road traffic fatalities rose from 15 % to 20 % between 2010 and 2013. In the South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions, a third of all road traffic deaths were among the motorcyclists,” read the WHO statement.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Globally, the next least protected are the pedestrians and cyclists, making up for 22 % and 4 % of global deaths respectively. In India, the death percentage of 2- or 3-wheeler users is the highest at 33.9 %, followed by four-wheeler users at 17.2 % and pedestrians at 9.1 %, while cyclists comprise 3.5 %. The data maintained by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways indicates that there is an almost 3 % increase in total deaths at 1,41,526 in 2014, since the previous year. Piyush Tewari, the founder of SaveLIFE Foundation, said, “The report should be an eye-opener for our law makers, as it categorically states that the Indian road safety laws do not meet the best practice requirements for four out of five risk factors: enforcing speed limits, prevention of drunk driving, safety of children and use of helmets. Even for seat-belts, where the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, is in consonance with the WHO standards, the enforcement is poor and India has a pathetic score of 4 out 10. With respect to vehicle safety, India meets only two out of the seven vehicle safety standards.”

47-year-old teacher, students give Matunga railway station a bright makeover

Make a Difference foundation, which adopted the station, is also planning to draw murals

The foot over bridge at the Matunga station.
Abhinav P Kocharekar

Matunga railway station is not the same since Sunday. Regular commuters will find that the foot over bridge on the southern end at the station has undergone a colourful and bright makeover.If you are delighted, thank 47-year-old teacher Haresh Shah and his group of 30 volunteers. Shah’s Make A Difference (MAD) Foundation now plans to give the entire station a complete makeover.It was in April this year that MAD approached Western Railway to adopt the station and it received the permission by September.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I have been running coaching classes for 20 years and several of my students are studying architecture. Together, we made a presentation for the makeover of the station and we started off was with the foot over bridge,” shares Shah.While painting the bridge, they also started cleaning all the grime and muck, from October 10.Shah informs after the initial painting, they decided to use bright red, yellow, blue and green for the stairs. On Sunday, they managed to complete the task giving the bland bridge a lively look.”We used bright colours to create a positive mood at the station for those heading to work, college or returning home. Next, we plan to take up the ramp on the Borivli end. That too will be completely painted bright and the cement sheets on the sides will adorn butterflies, which will glow in the dark,” added Shah. The work is carried out using funds from donors.As per the foundation’s plans, the area around the station’s booking windows on the Borivli end will also be painted and there will be murals depicting places of interests in Matunga.”The murals will consist of iconic places like Ruparel College, Kashi Vishveshwar Temple, Sandesh Hotel and other places. At another location, we will put up vinyl, above the ramp, depicting seven Indian festivals – Navratri, Diwali, Eid, Christmas, Dahi Handi, Holi and Baishakhi,” said Shah.While all this will give the station a new look, they will also concentrate on the basics like providing dustbins and even plantations between tracks and boundary wall, where currently garbage is dumped.Members of the foundation informed that they plan to finish all these within a week as they plan to hold the inauguration ceremony by inviting Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) Shailendra Kumar as well as some celebrities.”I have been working with youngsters in the age group of 18 to 25 and it was my aim to use their enormous energy to bring about a change. Hence, I initiated this MAD Foundation and the entire work of Matunga station is being done by the youth. In fact, within two days, we have started getting a phenomenal response on social media as students and several other commuters are seen taking selfies and pictures on the bridge,” stated Shah.Since the bridge was painted bright, littering and spitting have reduced, he said.A railway official from WR stated: “Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has encouraged more people and foundations to adopt railway stations. The work at Matunga is eye-catching and we hope more people to get inspired to adopt stations and help us encourage commuters to keep the premises clean and beautiful.”

Deaf-mute girl Geeta’s ‘family’ from Pakistan to accompany her to India

“Members of Edhi family will accompany Geeta to India, they will be our honoured guests,” Raghavan said.

Raghavan asserted that it would be beautiful to see Geeta re-discover her old links (File Photo)

dna
With the eyes of the world on the homecoming of Geeta, a deaf-mute Indian girl who accidentally crossed over to Pakistan around 15 years ago, members of the Edhi Foundation, under whose care she lived, will stay with her until she is reunited with her real family in India. Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, Dr TCA Raghavan, told ANI in a telephonic conversation that members of the Edhi Foundation, one of Pakistan’s largest charities headed by the country’s most famous philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi, will accompany Geeta when she returns to India and will be with her throughout the process of identifying her family.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”She has been looked after with great affection. The Edhi family is known for their humanitarian causes and they have taken great care of her. Members of the family will accompany Geeta to India, they will be our honoured guests,” Raghavan said. The first priority once Geeta is in India will be to ensure that she is put in the right institution until she is reunited with her family.”Finding the right institution where she will be housed has been our top priority. Once she is back in India, we will begin the DNA tests and go through all the detailed procedure to locate her true family. We have continuously been showing her sets of photos so that she can try and identify her family. Recently, in the last set of photos which we showed to her, she seems to have finally recognised them,” Raghavan added. Despite being taken care of by a separate family for more than a decade, Geeta cannot wait to be reunited with her true kin and is very happy at the thought of returning back home. Branding the entire story as ‘extraordinary’ Raghavan asserted that it would be beautiful to see Geeta re-discover her old links. The Pakistani security forces had found Geeta near the eastern border with India in 2001. Since then, she has been in the care of the Edhi Foundation.The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had earlier said the Indian authorities narrowed the search down to three families who claimed they were Geeta’s kin and had sent photographs of them to her for identification.

Bajrangi Bhaijaan’s Geeta identifies family in Bihar, to return to India soon

Geeta, the deaf-mute Indian woman living in Pakistan after accidentally crossing the border over a decade ago, will be back home soon.

Geeta with adopted family

Geeta, the deaf-mute Indian woman living in Pakistan after accidentally crossing the border over a decade ago, will be back home soon.”Geeta will be back in India soon. We have located her family. She will be handed over to the family only after the DNA test,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said today in New Delhi.23-year-old Geeta was adopted by the Edhi Foundation’s Bilquees Edhi and lives with her in Karachi. The Indian woman stranded in Pakistan for over 10 years is poised to be reunited with her family, Edhi Foundation spokesman Anwar Kazmi also confirmed.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to sources, Geeta has identified her father, step-mother and siblings from a photograph sent to her by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. The family reportedly lives in Bihar.Geeta was reportedly just 7 or 8 years old when she was found sitting alone on the Samjhauta Express by the Pakistan Rangers 15 years ago at the Lahore railway station.Police took her to the Edhi Foundation in Lahore and later she was shifted to Karachi.Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, T C A Raghavan, and his wife had visited Geeta in August after Swaraj directed him to meet her and try to locate her family.A Foreign Office spokesman said that Pakistan would cooperate for the return of Geeta.

Here is how social entrepreneurs are turning TV into computers in a Bengaluru slum

The social entrepreneurs work for the Mojolab Foundation.

Social entrepreneurs from the Mojolab Foundation are giving residents of JP Nagar slum access to free WiFi on their computers and smartphones.
Elizabeth Mani

How would it feel if you did not have to pay for WiFi at all? Those living in JP Nagar slum of Bengaluru are soon to find out as Arjun Venkataraman, 33, Abhishek K, 22 and Deepta Arjun, 30, are installing COWMesh netwok for the benefit of the community that will allow the residents to communicate, share content and information without paying any service provider.The social entrepreneurs work for the Mojolab Foundation. Venkataraman explained, “WiFi uses a certain electromagnetic spectrum as do our phone to allow us to place calls. Since residents don’t know how to access the spectrum they rely on a cell phone operator or internet service provider. There is a certain spectrum that is left unreserved and unlicensed by the government that citizens can use. Our job is to use our technical know how to teach them how to access it.” <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>What does the Mojolab Foundation do?The members of the foundation are taking low cost equipment to establish a network that will allow the community members to communicate with each other. Once set, the network can be accessed using a smartphone.“Those with TV sets can also connect to this network using a small device called the Raspberry Pi. The TV then acts as a monitor. A keyboard and mouse can be used for input,” Venkataraman explained.Where is the money coming from?Most of the money for the initiative has been crowdsourced. They are also encouraging the reuse of discarded keyboards and mouse.Venkataraman added, “There is a debate about net neutrality that is going on. Phone bills are rising and the cell phone providers are not able to provide good quality service. It is time that people take communication into their own hand.” Once the network is established, the team plans to upload videos on cleanliness, waste management, health education and other educational lessons for the children. Important contact details that the community can access during an emergency will also be uploaded.Helping the communityThe COWMesh technology will cover an area of 10 km and will allow sharing of videos, photos, text messages and voice message. 25-year-old Muniya Dasaraja, an artist was the first one to get the technology in his house. He said, “The technology seems very interesting. I am very happy that even my parents can now access the internet. I can always upload my work and my family can easily access them using the TV.” Sandya E, 9, was not sure why there was so much commotion taking place in her area. She said, “I don’t understand what they are talking about but I only know that I can show my dance performance to my family.”

SC to Teesta Setalvad: Non-cooperation in FCRA probe will lead to cancellation of anticipatory bail

A three-judge Bench headed by Justice A R Dave issued notice to the couple asking them to respond to the CBI petition seeking their custodial interrogation and charging them with failing to cooperate in the probe of misusing foreign funds received by them and posing a threat to communal harmony.
File Photo
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The Supreme Court on Wednesday told social activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband that their failure to adhere to the conditions imposed by the Bombay High Court may lead to the cancellation of the anticipatory bail granted to them in a case where they have been accused of misusing foreign funds.The apex court asked Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand to cooperate with the CBI in its investigation in the case in which their company, Sabrang Communication and Publishing Pvt Ltd (SCPPL), had received Rs 1.8 crore from US-based Ford Foundation allegedly without mandatory approval from the Centre. It orally observed that their “anticipatory bail may be cancelled if they would not follow the conditions imposed by the High Court.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A three-judge Bench headed by Justice A R Dave issued notice to the couple asking them to respond to the CBI petition seeking their custodial interrogation and charging them with failing to cooperate in the probe of misusing foreign funds received by them and posing a threat to communal harmony.Also read: Supreme Court gives relief to Teesta Setalvad, grants interim bail till December 5″It is expected that the respondents (Setalvad and her husband) will adhere to the conditions of anticipatory bail,” said the bench, also comprising Justices F M I Kalifulla and V Gopala Gowda, which also extended the interim protection from arrest till December 5 to the couple in another case of alleged embezzlement of funds for a museum at Ahmedabad’s Gulbarg Society that was devastated in the 2002 riots.During the hearing of the FCRA case which is posted for December 1, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the couple, denied the allegations of CBI that they were not cooperating in the probe and claimed that they have submitted all documents sought by the agency.Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar had alleged that Setalvad and her husband were not cooperating in the probe and had marched to the CBI office in Mumbai in procession carrying placards and chanting all sorts of slogans.Taking note of the Solicitor General’s submission, the bench said, “why do you (Setalvad and husband) want to go in procession. That is the allegation. Don’t go in procession.”You (Sibal) advise your client that they don’t go in procession. You advise them to go with advocates/accountants,” the bench said. The case of alleged violation of provisions of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) was taken after the bench had extended the interim bail of the couple in the fund embezzlement case in which Gujarat Police in an affidavit accused them of misappropriating funds meant for charity for personal expenses, buying items ranging from wine to mobile phone, besides tampering with evidence.A two-judge bench on October 12 had admitted that it was a mistake to consider extending the interim bail of Setalvad and her husband in the fund embezzlement case by them as it was referred to the three-judge bench.Accordingly, a three-judge bench was constituted to consider the matter, which witnessed heated exchange of words between Gujarat police counsel Mahesh Jethmalani and others including senior advocate Dushyant Dave, who was one of the counsel along with Sibal appearing for Teesta.While Dave was insisting that the interim protection from arrest to them be extended till further order, the bench said it can stay the order of Gujarat High Court ordering custodial interogation till a particular time limit and granted the relief till December 5. However, when the FCRA matter came up, the bench first was of the view that it should be placed before a two-judge bench but Sibal and others pleaded that the matter be taken by the same bench.In the FCRA case, the agency has come out with several grounds to challenge the August 11 order of the Bombay High Court granting anticipatory bail to Setalvad and her husband after it was denied by the sessions court.CBI has sought cancellation of their anticipatory bail claiming that the high court had erred in giving relief after “prima facie” finding that FCRA provisions were violated.While the couple has denied all charges saying they have been victimised for taking up the cause of riots victims, the agency said after ‘prima facie’ holding that there was misuse of funds they had received from Ford Foundation for which they were “undoubtedly answerable”, the high court ought not have granted anticipatory bail by using its extraordinary discretionary powers.

Mother Teresa’s charity blames gay people, divorcees for stopping adoptions

The Modi government’s WCD Ministry had recently decided to implement the revised guidelines of the Juvenile Justice Act.

Mother Teresa

Getty Images
Mother Teresa’s charity the Missionaries of Charity has stopped adoptions in India after new government guidelines which allowed single parents to adopt.However, in a bizarre claim, the charity has blamed ‘gays and lesbians’ for stopping adoptions.According to pinknews.co.uk and Gay Star News, has shut down all orphanages so that ‘the children will not have gay or divorced parents’.Speaking about the decision not to offer adoptions, Sister Amala told UK media: “The new guidelines hurt our conscience. They are certainly not for religious people like us. What if the single parent who we give our baby [to] turns out to be gay or lesbian? What security or moral upbringing will these children get? Our rules only allow married couples to adopt.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Modi government’s WCD Ministry had recently decided to implement the revised guidelines of the Juvenile Justice Act, which allow single parents to adopt, among other amendments.Related Read: Orphanages run by Mother Teresa foundation to close down?”Till now the Mother Teresa’s (Foundation) orphanages had their own agenda and now when they have to come under a unified secular agenda they are refusing it. They have decided not to follow the guidelines,” WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi had said. She said that the ministry will try to persuade them to put children up for adoption.”We will try and persuade them because they are valuable people and have experience. But if they do not listen then those children will have to be shifted to other places,” she said. 13 of the 16 orphanages running under Missionaries of Charity have applied for cancellation of registration.

Pakistan voices concern over campaign against its prominent personalities

“We have noted with concern the attempts to disrupt functions organised in respect of prominent Pakistani personalities on visit to India,” the Foreign Office spokesperson said in a statement last night.

Mumbai: Former ideologue of the BJP Sudheendra Kulkarni, with face blackened by Shiv Sena activists, and former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri showing the latters book at a press conference in Mumbai on Monday.

Pakistan has expressed concern over campaign against prominent Pakistani personalities in India by a “fundamentalist organisation” and said there is a need to ensure that such incidents do not reoccur.Pakistan’s reaction came a day after Shiv Sena activists blackened the face of ORF chief Sudheendra Kulkarni over his refusal to cancel the book launch function of former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri in Mumbai.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier, the Shiv Sena had threatened to disrupt Pakistani ghazal singer Ghulam Ali’s concerts, leading to cancellation of the events in Mumbai and Pune.”We have noted with concern the attempts to disrupt functions organised in respect of prominent Pakistani personalities on visit to India,” the Foreign Office spokesperson said in a statement last night.The spokesperson referred to the cancellation of Ghulam Ali’s concert “because of threats from a fundamentalist organisation” and attempts to disrupt the book launch function of Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri.”There is a need to ensure that such incidents do not reoccur,” he said.Undeterred by the violent protest, the organisers, including the Observer Research Foundation, a foreign policy think-tank, yesterday went ahead with the book launch function in Mumbai which was held amid tight security following threats of disruption by the pro-Hindutva party.

Smearing Kulkarni with paint is not right: Union Minister Kiren Rijiju

The Minister of State for Home said acts like smearing black paint on someone’s face should not have happened as there are ways to protest in a civilised society.

Union Minister Kiren Rijiju on Monday disapproved of Shiv Sena activists smearing black paint on Sudheendra Kulkarni saying everyone has the freedom to protest but not physically harm anyone.”This is about mentality…In this country, everyone has a fundamental right to protest but there has to be a way to protest, not physically harm anyone. This is not right,” he told reporters here when asked to comment on the attack on Kulkarni by Shiv Sena activists in Mumbai.The Minister of State for Home said acts like smearing black paint on someone’s face should not have happened as there are ways to protest in a civilised society.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Sabhya samaj main virodh karne ka tarika hote hain (There are ways to protest in a civilised society). Our Constitution allows us to hold protest in a proper manner.”The Constitution has given right to everyone to protest in a democratic way. One should only lodge protest under the law and this will act to strengthen our democracy,” he said on the sidelines of a BSF event here.Rijiju said law and order is a state subject and in a case where a foreigner has come to India for unveiling of a book but has not acted against the country, such an act should not have happened.Observer and Research Foundation (ORF) chairman Kulkarni’s face was smeared with black paint by Shiv Sena activists for refusing to cancel former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri’s book launch in Mumbai.The incident occurred in front of Kulkarni’s house near Kings circle in suburban Matunga at around 9.30 AM. About 5-7 unknown persons shouted some slogans and threw colour or ink on him, police said.

Sushma Swaraj asks NRIs to help in ‘Clean Ganga’, ‘Swachh Bharat’

Sushma Swaraj is in Maldives on a two-day official visit.

Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj talks with Maldivian Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon during a welcome ceremony at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport in Male, Maldives October 10, 2015.

Reuters
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Saturday asked Indian-origin people and expatriates abroad to come forward and contribute to the government’s flagship programmes of ‘Clean Ganga’ and ‘Swachh Bharat’.Swaraj, who is in the Maldives on a two-day official visit, said those contributing to the programme can see how their donation is being utilised through the India Development Foundation, an initiative of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs.”You have come out to earn livelihood and you are earning good. But you also have to pay your debt to the motherland,” Swaraj said addressing the Indian community in Male. She said that most have studied in India and have played on its soil.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”This is an opportunity for you to set apart a portion of your earning for Clean Ganga. Please take a vow that if the school of the village where you came from does not have toilets, you will make one,” she said.Swaraj said any person of Indian-origin or NRI staying abroad wanting to contribute to Clean Ganga and Swachh Bharat can do so through India Development Foundation and even monitor its progress. She said the person donating will be provided details about the progress and would also be mailed pictures.”You can check it up with relatives or friends back home,” she said.Speaking on other issues, Swaraj stressed that India is making its voice heard in the international fora and the world is listening. She game the example of International Yoga Day in this context.

Home ministry does not have enough money for anti-communal violence wing

Constituted on February 19, 1992 and working from a nondescript office space on the 9th floor of Lok Nayak Bhawan in Delhi, the NFCH is surviving on just Rs11 crore grant that was given to it twice – Rs 10 crore in 1992 and Rs1 crore in 2004.

The National Foundation for Communal Harmony (NFCH), an autonomous body under the union home ministry, neither has the money nor the manpower. This at a time, when the country needs it the most amongst a spiralling increase in cases of communal violence, the latest being the Dadri incident.Constituted on February 19, 1992 and working from a nondescript office space on the 9th floor of Lok Nayak Bhawan in Delhi, the NFCH is surviving on just Rs11 crore grant that was given to it twice – Rs 10 crore in 1992 and Rs1 crore in 2004.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> It has a skeletal staff of only 17 persons to run programmes in 152 districts that are currently on its map and for funding largely depends on the interest of the corpus fund and on the corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds from public sector enterprises. The NFCH officials concede that given the current state of communal strife there is need to spread its activities to more areas and given more assistance. India witnessed a 25% spike in communal incidents in first five months of the current year over the last year. As compared to 232 communal incidents in first five months of 2014, the country saw 827 such incidents from January to May this year. Deaths in communal incidents also saw a spike to 43 from 26 last year while the number of those injured in such clashes also increased to 961 from 701.”Given the state of affairs we would like to spread to more areas with more programmes but the shortage of staff and money are big constraints. To run all our programmes and also take out our salaries and administrative cost is a difficult task. But at the end of the day we manage somehow,” said an NFCH official.To its credit currently it is assisting 11,535 children and youth through its flagship scheme ‘Assist’ that gives financial assistance to violence-affected children for their education. The scheme is operational in the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Assam, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The foundation barely scraped through its last year’s expenses of Rs9 crore of which over Rs5 crore were spent on the Assist programme.”Immediately after a communal or terrorist incident takes place we write to the district administration to tell us about children of victim’s families. Assistance starts once the district us names of the affected children. Sometimes, despite writing to them, the district administration says no to our prospective help, like what happened in Muzaffarnagar riots case. We cannot do much in such cases,” said the official. The foundation has written in case of Dadri incident also but is awaiting a report from the district administration. Under its extension activities – Reach, Interfaith Interaction and Partnership, the foundation takes up various activities like organising conferences, seminars, concerts and literary meetings either independently or in collaboration with states governments, NGOs and educational institutions to strengthen communal harmony. “But to do all these activities in our charter is a very hard task given the status of funds we have,” the official said. Officials agree that due to government’s apathetic attitude, one of its key activities to confer National Communal Harmony Awards has taken a back seat. The foundation provides cash prize of Rs5 lakh in individual category and Rs10 lakh in organisation category for outstanding promotion of communal harmony and national integration. “The jury that is presided over by the Vice President of India is to decide on the names of awardees for 2014 has failed to take place this year while the awards for 2013 are yet to be conferred,” said the official.

APJ Abdul Kalam’s grandnephew to launch Kalam Foundation in his honour

The foundation will be run by those who were close to the former President, Saleem added.

Dr APJ Abdul Kalam

AFP
The grandnephew of former President APJ Abdul Kalam has announced that the family is setting up ‘Kalam Foundation’ in the former President’s honour. The foundation will be launched on October 11 in Chennai.According to a report in The Hindu, the foundation’s aim will be to carry forward Kamal’s mission and make his vision come true. APJ MJ Sheik Saleem made this announcement. He recently joined the Bharatiya Janata Party.Saleem has also stated that a ‘Kalam National Centre for Knowledge and Discovery’ will be set up by the foundation. Ponraj, a close aide and advisor to Dr Kalam, and Saleem had said that they had requested the Centre to set up a ‘Kalam National Centre for Knowledge and Discovery’, on September 4 in Rameswaram. It was post this that Saleem joined the BJP.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The foundation will be run by those who were close to the former President, Saleem added. Ponraj has now stated that Saleem would not be given a post in the ‘Abdul Kalam’s Vision India Movement’ as he has joined a political party.

dna Morning Must Read: From latest in Modi’s US visit to death of Swami Dayanand and more

1. PM Narendra Modi arrives in New York on second US visitPrime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in New York on Wednesday on a five-day US visit, his second in as many years, during which he will address world leaders at a landmark UN sustainable development summit and interact with top CEOs and the Indian diaspora in Silicon Valley.Modi will have a packed agenda for the next two days in the city and then in California from September 26-27. Read More <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>
2. PM Modi’s spiritual guru Swami Dayanand passes awayPrime Minister Narendra Modi’s spiritual guru Swami Dayanand Giri passed away on Wednesday at his ashram in Sheeshamjhadi area here after a prolonged illness. He was 87.Swami Dayanand breathed his last late on Wednesday night, said his close aide and trustee of Dayanand Ashram, Shantatmanand Saraswati. Read More
3. Hardik Patel surfaces, to be present in Gujarat High Court today: Lawyer
Patel quota agitation leader Hardik Patel, who went missing on Tuesday night and alleged he was abducted by some unknown persons, will go to Gujarat High Court on Thursday morning, his lawyer said.After Hardik went missing from Aravali district on Tuesday, his aides moved a habeas corpus plea through his lawyer, BM Mangukiya, in Gujarat High Court alleging that police had illegally detained him. Read More
4. RBI to allow companies to approach pension, insurance funds for ECB
In order to encourage overseas funding, RBI on Wednesday proposed to allow domestic companies to borrow money from pension funds, sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) and insurance funds as part of the ECBs.The draft framework on External Commercial Borrowings (ECBs), however, proposed to lower the all-in cost borrowing by 0.50% to ensure that the funds are borrowed from abroad at a reasonable interest rate. Read More
5. MSD raises 20,000 pounds for Indian army by playing London T20Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Charitable Foundation received 20000 pound out of the 300,000 raised during the inaugural T20 fundraiser, ‘Cricket for Heroes’ held at The KIA Oval last week.India’s limited-overs captain Dhoni smashed the winning runs for his side Heroes XI in the inaugural T20 match fundraiser against Rest of the World XI. Out of the 300,000 pound raised during this match, the Help for Heroes Foundation has contributed 20000 pound towards Dhoni’s Charitable Foundation. Read More

Home Minister Rajnath Singh warns of India’s retaliation if disturbed

“India always wants good friendly relations with its neighbours and continues with its policy of not disturbing anyone. But if someone fires at us first, we will not count the retaliatory bullets. Chhedenge nahi, par chhodenge bhi nahi (will not disturb anyone, but if disturbed, then won’t spare anyone),” Singh said.

In a strong warning to those disrupting border peace, Home Minister Rajnath Singh has said the country will not hesitate in retaliating if someone fires first and asserted the government is ready to talk to Pakistan over PoK and not Kashmir.”India always wants good friendly relations with its neighbours and continues with its policy of not disturbing anyone. But if someone fires at us first, we will not count the retaliatory bullets. Chhedenge nahi, par chhodenge bhi nahi (will not disturb anyone, but if disturbed, then won’t spare anyone),” Singh said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He was addressing an inaugural programme of the first Y N Singh Memorial Foundation Lecture Series on ‘National Security, Challenges and Strategy’ here last night.Late Y N Singh had served in co-operative department of Madhya Pradesh government. He was remembered for enhancing agriculture production through fertiliser distribution strategies.On Pakistan raising the issue of Kashmir, Rajnath said, “During my meeting with the Pak Rangers and its delegation, I have cleared to them, Kashmir was, is and will remain India’s integral part and if you wish to talk, then talk about Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) only.””I have also tried to convince Pak Rangers that why they fire at the uniform (soldiers). First you fire, then we retaliate. Why not both of us will together fire at terrorism to end the menace,” he said.The Home Minister said it was a challenge to protect the country’s over 23,000-km-long border, but assured it was well protected.He also exuded confidence that India will become the world’s largest economy in next 10-15 years.”The world over it was believed that down the line India will emerge as a major economy along with US and China.However, I am confident that because of India’s core strength, it will become the world’s largest economy in next 10-15 years. But, some anti-national forces don’t want to see India in that position,” he said.Singh said India believes in co-existence and it is the only country in the world where Islam’s all 72 ‘firke’ (sects) exist. In no other country, even in Islamic nations, all these 72 firkes were found. The same thing also applies for Christianity and Buddhism, he said.Praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s diplomatic skills, Rajnath said it is because of his leadership quality that even a country like United Arab Emirates (UAE) has stood with India on the issue of fighting against terrorism.”It was unthinkable earlier,” he said.On the steps taken by the government to enhance vigil on borders, he said in the last one year, the smuggling of cows to Bangladesh has come down to 2.5-3 lakh from the earlier figure of 22 lakh. “This figure is not just provided by the Border Security Force (BSF) but also by NGOs working on the issue,” he said.Referring to North East region, he said 70 terrorist organisations are active there and dealing with them is a challenge, but added that change is visible there also while citing the recent agreement with National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM), to prove his point.On the issue of Naxalism, he said 26 districts in the country are affected with the menace and that the respective state governments are dealing with the problem in an effective manner with the active support from the Centre, both in terms of deploying Central forces and required funds.Earlier, addressing the function, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh termed “Naxalism as a bigger threat than terrorism.”It (Naxalism) is persisting in the country because of an international conspiracy to destabilise India’s economy, he said.The Chhattisgarh CM also highlighted various steps taken by his government, including setting of educational hubs in hardcore Naxal areas, to deal with the problem which helped in checking the menace to a great extent, especially in the state’s Sarguja district.Chhattisgarh Government’s Principal Secretary Aman Singh, in whose father’s memory the lecture series was launched, highlighted the objectives of the YN Singh Memorial Foundation.Madhya Pradesh Assembly Speaker Dr Sitasharan Sharma, Chhattisgarh Assembly Speaker Gaurishankar Agrawal, Leader of Opposition in Chhattisgarh T S Singhdeo and a host of retired and serving bureaucrats were among others present on the occasion.

Lawyer to seek court’s directive to Centre to bring back deaf-mute girl Geeta

“I will also urge the court to direct the Centre to bring back Geeta and search for her parents,” said the lawyer.

Haryana-based lawyer Momin Malik on Wednesday said he would seek the Punjab and Haryana High Court’s directive to the central government to bring back Geeta, the deaf and mute Indian girl stuck in Pakistan, and search for her parents. Malik, who had moved the high court over the matter, said at a press conference here that “I will also urge the court to direct the Centre to bring back Geeta and search for her parents.” The matter will come up for hearing at Punjab and Haryana High Court tomorrow. “The court had asked how will I prove that Geeta is an Indian citizen. I will provide them Geeta’s statement, Hindu Helpine’s petition and Karachi court’s verdict to establish her citizenship,” Mallick said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The lawyer, who is working to bring back Geeta, said, “I had gone to Pakistan to help Geeta on humanitarian ground. I filed a case under Section 552 of Pakistan’s Criminal Procedure Code, which empowers the judge to compel restoration of abducted women and girls.It made possible to record the statement of the deaf and mute girl through sign language expert for the first time in 15 years,” he added.Passing its judgement on September 3, the Pakistani court stated Geeta can go to India only through diplomatic channels, he said. Geeta, who has been stranded in Pakistan for the last 13 years, is currently living under the care of the Edhi Foundation charity here.

Atomic Energy Regulatory Board against age determination via X rays

In a statement, Mumbai-based AERB said the X-ray examinations result in a radiation exposure albeit small. It said such procedures must be done only as a diagnostic necessity and not used indiscriminately.

The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) has criticised the recent move of issuing birth certificates to children based on age determination tests done after conducting dental X-rays. The AERB is the regulator for medical diagnostic application. Its contention is that the practice does not reveal the correct age and also raises safety concerns. Recently, a Hong Kong-based NGO allegedly conducted age determination tests on over 100 children, especially the orphans to help them get birth certificates. A Navi Mumbai dental college conducted the dental X rays. In a statement, Mumbai-based AERB said the X-ray examinations result in a radiation exposure albeit small. It said such procedures must be done only as a diagnostic necessity and not used indiscriminately.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> “AERB advises all medical/dental X-ray facilities, dentists/dental surgeons, as well as the general public to desist from using dental X-ray examination solely for the purpose of age determination or birth registration,” reads the statement. The Atomic Energy (Radiation Protection) Rules, 2004, read with the mandatory Safety Code on Regulation of Nuclear and Radiation Facilities call for strict adherence to AERB regulations with regard to diagnostic radiation. According to the Date of Birth Foundation, a Hong Kong-based NGO, about 10 million children go unregistered in India every year. Similarly, on a global scale, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) statistics show that the birth of one in three children below the age of five years is not registered. As per the NGO, children without birth records become vulnerable to age-related crimes including child trafficking, kidnapping and prostitution. The NGO claims that the accuracy of the age determination test is such that the precision could be off by 1.5 weeks in male children and 2.6 weeks in female children. However, AERB cited medical research and rubbished the claim of accuracy of dental X-ray test for age determination.

11 years after Supreme Court order, Maharashtra government selects 314 self-help groups to execute ration scheme

However, the newly selected 314 self-help groups have been picked up at the district level. “We have ensured that each self-help group handles a different project. This will help us observe which group is doing a better job,” said a senior officer.

A file photo of an anganwadi

In a first in 11 years since the Supreme Court first asked all states to involve women self-help groups to serve food in anganwadis instead of contractors, the Maharashtra women and child department has selected 314 such groups to execute the Take Home Ration (THR) scheme. In 64 out of the total cases, the department has also issued work orders to the groups.Sources said that until now the department had conveniently ignored the SC order and the contract was given to big contractors under the guise of self-help groups. Till 2014, only three so-called self-help groups were handling hundreds of anganwadis across Maharashtra. It is believed that these three nominal community groups who had the contract were fronts for bigger contractors.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, the newly selected 314 self-help groups have been picked up at the district level. “We have ensured that each self-help group handles a different project. This will help us observe which group is doing a better job,” said a senior officer.In repeated rulings since 2004, the SC has directed that contractors be kept out of such food and nutrition programmes. It had directed state governments to set up self-help groups and women’s community groups in every village to produce food for the THR scheme.Recent research and studies have also raised questions about the quality of food supplied under the scheme.A detailed study conducted by the Nutrition Rights Coalition, Maharashtra, and supported by the Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation in January 2014, claimed that the THR scheme for children aged below three is not appropriate due to very poor acceptability and low nutrition intake. It further said the THR upma is often found to be bitter in taste (69.4%) and salty (22.4%). Most of the respondents recommended that except shira all other THR packets should be discontinued. Among the families that reported that their children were not consuming THR, 79% said they use the THR packets to feed their animals.Maharashtra’s poor show was further highlighted in a 2012 report filed by the Office of the Supreme Court Commissioners, which claimed that at least four states — Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra — were providing poor quality food to anganwadis either directly or indirectly through contractors.

Pakistan court dismisses petition seeking deaf, mute girl Geeta’s custody

Geeta has been stranded in Pakistan for the last 13 years after crossing over by mistake.

Geeta, the deaf and mute girl who crossed over to Pakistan 13 years ago

A Pakistani court on Thursday dismissed a petition filed by an Indian social worker seeking custody of a deaf and mute Indian girl stuck in Pakistan for more than a decade, refusing to issue orders for her “forced repatriation”.Social worker and lawyer from Haryana, Momineen Malik, had filed the petition in Sindh High Court in Karachi to seek the custody of 23-year-old Geeta. Malik, filed the application through local lawyers, seeking an order for return of the girl to India. Geeta told the court through an expert that she wanted to go back to India.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The lawyer of Edhi Foundation charity which is looking after the welfare of the girl urged the court that governments of Pakistan and India should be involved in the case. After the hearing, the Sindh High Court refused to issue orders for her “forced repatriation”. The court said that proper procedure should be adopted by foreign ministries of the two countries for her repatriation.In India, five families have claimed that Geeta was their relative. Geeta has been stranded in Pakistan for the last 13 years after crossing over to Pakistan by mistake. She was arrested by Pakistan Rangers and then handed over to Edhi which has been taking care of her.

Pakistan court rejects petition seeking return of Geeta to India

Karachi: A Pakistani court on Thursday dismissed a petition filed by an Indian social worker seeking custody of a deaf and mute Indian girl stuck in Pakistan for more than a decade, refusing to issue orders for her “forced repatriation”.

Pakistan court rejected petition to send Geeta back to India. Image taken from Twitter

Pakistan court rejected petition to send Geeta back to India. Image taken from Twitter

Social worker and lawyer from Haryana, Momineen Malik, had filed the petition in Sindh High Court here to seek the custody of 23-year-old Geeta.

Malik, filed the application through local lawyers, seeking an order for return of the girl to India.

Geeta told the court through an expert that she wanted to go back to India, Geo News reported.

The lawyer of Edhi Foundation charity which is looking after the welfare of the girl urged the court that governments of Pakistan and India should be involved in the case.

After the hearing, the Sindh High Court (SHC) here refused to issue orders for her “forced repatriation”.

The court said that proper procedure should be adopted by foreign ministries of the two countries for her repatriation.

In India, five families have claimed that Geeta was their relative.

Geeta has been stranded in Pakistan for the last 13 years after crossing over to Pakistan by mistake. She was arrested by Pakistan Rangers and then handed over to Edhi which has been taking care of her.

PTI

In the city of love, a café is working to change lives of acid attack victims

Acid attacks in India are, unfortunately, not uncommon. Although the victims get media attention every once in a while, and even “justice” in the eyes of the government, life after any such incident is anything but easy for them.

The scars — both physical and emotional — are permanent and society makes sure you never forget them. Getting a job is difficult and any thoughts of getting married and leading a normal life are dangerous to harbour.

Sheroes Hangout. Twitter @cosasdemiriamSheroes Hangout. Twitter @cosasdemiriam

Sheroes Hangout. Twitter @cosasdemiriam

So any effort, no matter how small, by the government or private individuals to help the survivors serves as a silver lining.

Sheroes Hangout, a café in Agra close to the Taj Mahal is one such one such place working to make a difference.

An initiative by the Stop Acid Attacks campaign and the Chaanv Foundation, the café hopes to spread awareness of acid attacks by having survivors run it.

“The new wave feminism evolves at the Hangout through critical issues that cripple women and devoid them of equal opportunities. The irony is such issues are abundant in South-Asian cultures, and it is this irony that pushed our Sheroes to set this Hangout here, in the city that boasts of the monument of love,” reads a message on the café’s website.

“The idea behind opening this café was not only to run a business but also to run an activity centre to spread awareness,” Ashish Shukla, a lead campaigner for Stop Acid Attacks, told Al Jazeera. “People think that acid attack victims are from the outer world. Sheroes is an effort to make them believe that they are from this world only. Since we as a society are responsible for their scars, it is our responsibility to fix it and bring them into the mainstream of society.”

Situated at the Fatehabad Road opposite the Taj Mahal Gateway, the café took almost a month to be come up with an initial investment of about Rs 3 lakh, much of which was raised by a website dedicated to Nitu, an acid attack survivor, reported DNA.

The café’s initiative is making rounds on social media and its popularity, according to the nonprofit–reflect a shifting attitude toward survivors of acid attacks and to the crime itself in India, where around 309 cases were reported in 2014, reported the Wall Street Journal.

But the shift in attitude of the customers it serves and the lives of acid attack victims it employs, as one would expect, is not an overnight phenomenon.

The Sheroes team is still adapting to their roles. Dealing with tourists is hard, as the staff doesn’t always speak English. Their impaired vision and wounds also mean they regularly miss work for check-ups, reported Outlook.

In a city which is synonymous with love, a little love for the survivors is uplifting and welcome.

Want to ensure that no child in India dies due to lack of vaccination: PM Modi at Global Call to Action Summit

Stating that the victory over Polio has been a truly historic accomplishment, Modi said, “I am also happy to share with you today another major milestone achieved by India. India has eliminated maternal and neonatal tetanus.”

PM Modi opens the Global “Call To Action” #C2A2015 Summit on the behalf of 24 countries. (Image Courtesy: PIB)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday inaugurated the ‘Global Call to Action Summit-2015’ in Delhi. At the summit, PM Modi said, “We will ensure every woman and child that can be saved, will be saved.”He also added, “This is a landmark occasion and for the first time this summit is being held outside USA. This summit will provide a highly effective platform to address common challenges that will help us achieve desired goals.”Stating that the victory over Polio has been a truly historic accomplishment, Modi said, “I am also happy to share with you today another major milestone achieved by India. India has eliminated maternal and neonatal tetanus.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Prime Minister added that India wanted to ensure that no child in the country dies of diseases which can be prevented by vaccination. He said, “We need systems in place through which marginalised communities receive Universal Health Care. We will ensure that every woman and every child that can be saved will be saved.”Highlighting that the government has added to the world’s largest immunisation drive another mission known as “Mission Indradhanush”, Modi said,”India has always partnered with the global efforts on issues of child and maternal health and has also responded by acting on the first Call To Action through its commitment and launch of RMNCH+A.””I firmly believe that clean and hygienic environment is the stepping stone to a healthy nation. As we assemble here, we need to send a very strong message not only to ourselves, not only to 24 countries present here but to the world. I hope the next two days would provide a new direction to the global community in its journey towards ending maternal and child deaths,” said Modi towards the end.Here are some updates from our correspondentBackgroundThe two-day leadership summit is a confluence of health ministers from the 24 priority countries that committed to the global Call to Action for child survival in June 2012, state health ministers from India, international academic experts amongst a host of others.The summit is co-hosted with the Health Ministry of Ethiopia and in partnership with Bill Melinda Gates Foundation, the Tata Trusts, UNICEF, USAID, UK Aid and WHO.Civil society organisations will also deliberate with policy makers of 24 countries at the summit on issues including continued commitment of resources and international development aid to reduce child and maternal deaths by 2030, keeping issues of adolescent girls on the centre-stage, universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services and others.

Rahul marks 71st birth anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi by giving away customised vehicles to disabled

Every year Rajiv Gandhi Foundation felicitates persons with disabilities.

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi today gave away 100 customised two-wheelers to persons with disabilities to mark the 71st birth anniversary of his father and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi who was born on August 20.Rahul Gandhi handed over the key of vehicles to each of the 100 people, almost all of whom were in their 20s and 30s, and enquired about their well-being and future plans as organisers recalled his father’s vision to help persons with disabilities become self-dependent.During his interaction, he congratulated many of them on their impressive educational qualifications and applauded the courage of many others on their hard work despite their physically challenges.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Every year Rajiv Gandhi Foundation felicitates persons with disabilities. Rahul is a trustee of the foundation.

This Independence Day music video featuring the most adorable kids is sure to make you smile!

The video is made by Rakesh Nair and Sudeshna Guha Roy, winners of last year’s Yes Foundation’s YES! i am the CHANGE competition.

From the barrage of videos and music videos that appear on the internet around Independence Day, the one you may immediately fell in love with this time around is ‘Yeh Hai India’, made by Rakesh Nair and Sudeshna Guha Roy, winners of last year’s Yes Foundation’s YES! I am the CHANGE competition. As opposed to the usual, serious, high-intensity videos showcasing various Indian states, the Indian Army and India’s culture and traditions, this one has a bunch of enthusiastic kids dancing impromptu, to a peppy rap about Independence. Wouldn’t that just be a perfect change that’ll cheer you up for the rest of the day? <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Watch and decide yourself:Visit yesfoundation.in to participate in this year’s Yes Foundation’s YES! i am the CHANGE challenge to win grants up to Rs. 45 lakh

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar heckled by group of youth at an event in Delhi

As soon as he rose to speak, over a dozen youths began to shout slogans protesting against the alleged poor law and order in Bihar and waved placards.

People protesting against Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who was attending the inaugural function of the Delhi chapter of the Bihar Foundation in New Delhi on Saturday.

PTI photo
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was heckled on Saturday by a group of youths at the inauguration of the Delhi chapter of Bihar Foundation in New Delhi but the JD-U leader remained unfazed and dismissed it as a publicity stunt.As soon as he rose to speak, over a dozen youths began to shout slogans protesting against the alleged poor law and order in Bihar and waved placards prompting Kumar to comment that they had come under a pre-plan and question whether this was the right occasion for them to do “politics”. The incident happened at Shri Ram Centre Auditorium in New Delhi, where the Delhi Chapter of Bihar Foundation was organising ‘Pravasi Bihari Samman Puraskar 2014 to honour people of Bihar living in Delhi and NCR, who made outstanding contributions.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The youths shouted slogans against Kumar and waved “Nitish Go Back” placards. Some of them raised slogans against the alleged physical torture and rape of women at Parbatta in Khagaria district recently. However, the organisers of the event immediately pushed the youths away after a minor a scuffle. Later the police came and took them away.Suggesting a political motive behind the ruckus, Kumar said the protesting youths had come in pre-planned way to interrupt the event in order to garner publicity. He ruled out any “political” motive behind the event of the Foundation saying it aims at connecting with the migrant population of the state living across the country and taking them to their roots.”There is some disease, which does not go away. This will take time to go. Is this the occasion to do politics? Time for politics has come in Bihar. We will fight it out there. Whoever comes in the government, will he not honour people of Bihari diaspora, who are doing good work? At least the occasion should be chosen with proper thought. It’s like protesting in one’s house when there is an occasion for some social function. This means that those protesting have no attachment with this entire event and do not share the sentiments (of Biharis),” Kumar said.Taking potshots at the protestors, he said, “Media is also present here. What better chance could be there to get publicity. Whichever ideologies they belong to but doing this in an event, which aims at connecting people of Bihar is unfortunate.””I thank all those too, whose sole purpose behind coming here was to create a ruckus. The news of Bihar Foundation otherwise would not have been published so much but now it will be carried out due to the ruckus created by them.”

Nitish heckled during launch of Delhi unit of Bihar Foundation

New Delhi: Facing one of the toughest electoral battles in his political career, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today reached out to migrants from the state in the national capital, inaugurating the Delhi Chapter of Bihar Foundation.

Faced with a ruckus by a group of slogan-shouting youths as soon as he rose to speak, Kumar, however, ruled out any “political” motive behind the event, saying the Foundation aims at connecting with the migrant population of the state living across the country and taking them to their roots.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Image courtesy- PTIBihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Image courtesy- PTI

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Image courtesy- PTI

The youths numbering over a dozen were shouting slogans against Kumar and were waving “Nitish Go Back” placards. Some of them raised slogans against the alleged physical torture and rape of women at Parbatta in Khagaria district recently.

Suggesting a political motive behind the ruckus, Kumar said the protesting youths had come pre-planned to interrupt the event in order to garner publicity.

“There is some disease, which does not go away. This will take time to go. Is this the occasion to do politics? Time for politics has come in Bihar. We will fight it out there. Whoever comes in the government, will he not honour people of Bihari diaspora, who are doing good work?

“At least the occasion should be chosen with proper thought. It’s like protesting in one’s house when there is an occasion for some social function. This means that those protesting have no attachment with this entire event and do not share the sentiments (of Biharis),” Kumar said.

However, the organisers of the event immediately pushed the youths away after a minor a scuffle. Taking potshots at them, Kumar said, “Media is also present here. What can be a better chance to get publicity. Whichever ideologies they belong to but doing this in an event, which aims at connecting people of Bihar is unfortunate.”

“I thank all those too, whose sole purpose behind coming here was to create a ruckus. The news of Bihar Foundation otherwise would not have been published so much but now it will be carried out due to the ruckus created by them.”

Crediting Kumar for “revival” of Bihar in last ten years, senior state minister Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, who heads the Bihar Foundation, curiously referred to the “blurred page” of the history of Bihar.

“In that blurred period, talented people went out from Bihar and made a mark outside… And the revival of Bihar began since 2005 in the period of Nitish Kumar’s government,” he said in what appeared to be a veiled attack on the 15-year rule of Lalu Prasad’s RJD, which preceded Nitish Kumar’s rule.

Kumar’s JD(U) and RJD are fighting this Assembly election in an alliance and Congress, which ruled Bihar before them, is also part of the combine.

Chaudhary said everybody knows under whose leadership the revival of Bihar began and noted “time has come to decide the future of Bihar, the direction in which Bihar will go.

“Future will tell in what direction, we want to take Bihar. Will we go towards the same blurred times or will we take forward the revival of Bihar.” He urged the people of Bihar origin to play an “active role” in what is going to happen in Bihar in the next few months.

Kumar reached out to the migrants exhorting them to do something for their homeland as well and promised that the Foundation will provide all help to anybody, who wants to work for Bihar and the forum will keep “live contact” with members of the Bihari diaspora.

Kumar said, “There was a time when comments were made on Biharis and they were harassed but now they (Biharis) are looked with respect.”

Refusing to be called as the chief guest of the event of Bihar Foundation, Kumar said, “I am a Bihari. How can I be the chief guest. I am the chief host of Bihar Foundation.”

Kumar also chose the occasion to stress on his pet theme of equal development of all regions saying “some islands of development” in the nation would not do and the country will prosper only when all regions are equally developed.

Noting that migration out of compulsion for livelihood is a “matter of sorrow”, he once again reiterated his demand for Special Status to Bihar saying this will facilitate more investment and industrialisation in the state, which will generate employment and stop migration.

The event was originally planned on 1 August in New Delhi but Kumar cancelled the programme due to the sudden demise of former president APJ Abdul Kalam.

Sources in JD(U) say that Kumar has plans to contact non-resident Biharis living in all parts of the country through the Bihar Samman Sammelan to be organised in major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Guwahati.

JD(U) leaders claim that people of Bihar living outside the state are “proud of the achievements of Nitish Kumar government” and have an “emotional connect” with the chief minister.

A larger number of people from Bihar stay in metros, who go back to the state during important festivals like Chhath and Diwali. There is a significant population of migrants still enrolled as voters in Bihar.

The idea to reach out to Bihari migrants is not new to Nitish Kumar but this time it is backed by the strategy and planning of Prashant Kishor, a former key campaign consultant of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Modi’s ‘Chai Pe Charcha’ programme to connect with the masses is the brainchild of Kishor.

Kishor, who hails from Bihar, is now working on sharpening Kumar’s election campaign and is learnt to have given broad details on how to connect with the huge population in mega cities of non-resident Biharis, who are considered key opinion makers.

Kumar had presided over a Bihar Samman Conference in Burari in Delhi in 2012. Referring to it, vice president of Bihar Foundation Sanjay Kumar Jha said that the region is now represented by leaders from eastern India in both Assembly and Parliament.

Recalling the contribution of voters from eastern India (mainly Uttar Pradesh and Bihar) in the victory of Aam Aadmi Party, Jha said that he was expecting Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to come for the event today.

Trying to reach out to migrants in December 2013 ahead of the Delhi Assembly polls, Kumar had said there were two Delhis — one for the rich and the other for the poor — and it was the people of Bihar and Purvanchal who helped build the city.

Kumar had said if people from Bihar and Purvanchal stop working, Delhi will stop functioning. On a two-day visit to Delhi then, he had addressed election rallies in Dwarka, Sangam Vihar and Okhla and held meetings in Kiradi Burari, areas with significant migrant population.

Kumar’s rally was then considered as a build up to his party’s outreach plans for Lok Sabha elections 2014. However, Kumar’s JD(U) and Lalu Prasad’s RJD faced crushing defeat in the last year’s general elections, with the NDA under Modi winning 31 out of 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

Bihar Foundation, a government body, having branches in various cities of India and abroad, has on its own been organising a number of programmes to connect people of Bihari origin living outside with their roots.

According to a report of the National Capital Region Planning Board based on the 2001 Census, the maximum migration to Delhi is from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, which together constitute 64.25 percent of the migrant population.

The share of migrant population from Bihar has increased from 5.77 percent in 1971-1981 to 19.09 percent in 1991-2001. While it was 5.77 percent between 1971 and 1981, it rose to 10.69 percent between 1981 and 1991 and to 19.09 percent between 1991 and 2001.

PTI

NGT fines golf course promoter Rs 5 lakh for illegal tree felling

NGO Green Foundation had approached the NGT against the promoters of the golf course project. “The tribunal took the tree felling issue seriously and imposed the fine on Leading Hotels and one P Ravi, whose name has been featuring on the panchanama conducted by forest department,” Goa Foundation’s director Claud Alvares said.

NGT

dna Research & Archives
The National Green Tribunal has imposed a fine of Rs 5 lakh on the promoters of an upcoming golf course in Goa’s Pernem taluka for illegal felling of trees at the proposed project site. The NGT on Tuesday ruled that the trees were felled by Leading Hotels Private Limited without permission. State Environment Minister Alina Saldanha had informed the Legislative Assembly yesterday that the hotel group had illegally fell some trees and added that they were booked by Forest department. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>NGO Green Foundation had approached the NGT against the promoters of the golf course project. “The tribunal took the tree felling issue seriously and imposed the fine on Leading Hotels and one P Ravi, whose name has been featuring on the panchanama conducted by forest department,” Goa Foundation’s director Claud Alvares said.The fine amount has to be deposited in an escrow account, a temporary account, till the final hearing in the case is completed. The golf course project, coming up at Tirecol village, has been facing stiff opposition from locals and environmentalists.Noisy scenes were yesterday witnessed in the Assembly after Opposition members alleged that trees were being illegally felled by the promoter of the golf course project and demanded formation of a House Committee to study the matter.

Deaf, mute Indian girl stuck in Pakistan for 14 years

After spending some time at an Edhi Centre in Lahore, the girl was shifted to a Karachi shelter where Bilquis Edhi, a philanthropist known as ‘The Mother of Pakistan’, named her ‘Geeta’ and became quite attached to the girl.

Bollywood hit Bajrangi Bhaijaan may be a work of fiction, but in Karachi it is a real life story of a deaf and mute Indian girl stuck in Pakistan for 14 years, with all efforts to trace her family in India remaining unsuccessful.The Punjab Rangers brought her to the Edhi Foundation some 14 years ago, said Faisal Edhi of the social welfare group.”For years, we have been trying to locate her family or her hometown so that she can return,” Faisal said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After spending some time at an Edhi Centre in Lahore, the girl was shifted to a Karachi shelter where Bilquis Edhi, a philanthropist known as ‘The Mother of Pakistan’, named her ‘Geeta’ and became quite attached to the girl.Now 23-year-old, Geeta is believed to have mistakenly crossed into the Pakistani territory as a child.Though she has managed to recognise the Indian map on a mobile phone, she has not been successful in conveying any other information to the Edhi staff.Sobbing silently, she frantically points first at Jharkhand and then Telangana, trying hard to tell something of her past.Using her fingers and facial expression, Geeta says she has seven brothers and four sisters. “We have shown her writings to people but nothing has come out of it. She copies Hindi words from magazines,” Faisal said.The shelter home’s staff have created a separate praying room for her, adorning it with colourful posters of Hindu deities.”She is a devout Hindu and has even put up colourful posters of Hindu deities, and an earthen lamp on the table,” Human rights activist and ex-minister Ansar Burney told PTI.”This is the Ganesh that I got for her from Nepal,” Faisal said pointing toward one of the figurines.With the success of the Salman Khan-starrer ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’, activists are making efforts to reunite Geeta with her family in India.Burney, who raised Geeta’s issue three years ago during a visit to India, is now running a Facebook campaign for her.”Last year, officials from the Indian Consulate visited her, took her picture and records but they didn’t come back,” said Faisal. Journalists, including one from India, also interviewed her but no one was able to locate her family.The foundation activists persuaded Geeta to begin a new life in Pakistan with a Hindu boy. But she refused and made it clear she will only get married once she returns home.Amongst Geeta’s writings, the numbers ‘193’ make a frequent appearance. Faisal draws a house on a piece of paper and hands her a pen. Geeta takes it, smiles, and jots down the numbers beside it. ‘193’, it seems, may be her house number.Salman’s movie revolves around a speech-impaired girl from Pakistan who finds herself lost in India with no way to return her home. An Indian man undertakes the task and reunites her with her family in Pakistan.

3 months to frame norms restricting junk food availability: Delhi HC

Accepting the draft guidelines for restriction on sale of junk food in and around schools, the court in its order passed on February 25 had directed the FSSAI to create regulations and implement them within three months.

The Delhi High Court on Friday gave the government three months time to enforce guidelines on restricting sale of junk food in and around schools. A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath asked the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to create regulations within the time period.”Extension for time is sought through this application, the same is allowed. Three months more time granted to frame the guidelines,” the court said. It agreed to give more time after the government moved an application seeking three more weeks to implement the guidelines regarding restriction on sale of junk food.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Accepting the draft guidelines for restriction on sale of junk food in and around schools, the court in its order passed on February 25 had directed the FSSAI to create regulations and implement them within three months.In order to ensure that the guidelines are adhered to and any violation is actionable under Delhi Schools Education Act, the court had directed the administrator, Delhi to consider, by April 30, whether to issue instructions under the Delhi School Education Rules to follow the FSSAI guidelines.To ensure adherence by schools outside Delhi, most of which are affiliated to CBSE, the bench had also directed the Board to consider including compliance of the guidelines as a condition for being affiliated with it. Under the guidelines, food high in fat, salt and sugar cannot be sold within 50 metres of school premises.The court’s order came on a PIL filed in 2010 by NGO Uday Foundation flagging the issue of easy availability of junk food and carbonated drinks to children and the harmful effects thereof and seeking a ban on such food items in schools. The FSSAI guidelines will apply to the whole of the country.

Indians Anshu Gupta, Sanjiv Chaturvedi win prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Awards 2015

Whistleblower Indian forest officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi, who was removed from the post of Chief Vigilance officer at AIIMS, and founder of NGO Goonj Anshu Gupta are the two Indians selected for this year’s Ramon Magsaysay Award.

Three others who have been selected for the award include Kommaly Chanthavong from Laos, Ligaya Fernando-Amilbangsa from Philippines and Kyaw Thu from Myanmar, the board of Trustees of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF) announced.

Anshu Gupta and Sanjiv Chaturvedi. Image Credit Facebook/IBNLiveAnshu Gupta and Sanjiv Chaturvedi. Image Credit Facebook/IBNLive

Anshu Gupta and Sanjiv Chaturvedi. Image Credit Facebook/IBNLive

Chaturvedi, who has been awarded for “Emergent Leadership”, is currently the Deputy Secretary of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

Chaturvedi was removed in August last year from his post of Chief Vigilance Commissioner at AIIMS. He had alleged that he was transferred because he had detected irregularities at the institute.

The Foundation said that Chaturvedi is being recognised for “his exemplary integrity, courage and tenacity in uncompromisingly exposing and painstakingly investigating corruption in public office, and his resolute crafting of program and system improvements to ensure that government honourably serves the people of India.”

Gupta, who left his corporate job to start Goonj in 1999, is being recognised for “his creative vision in transforming the culture of giving in India, his enterprising leadership in treating cloth as a sustainable development resource for the poor, and in reminding the world that true giving always respects and preserves human dignity.”

Established in 1957, the Ramon Magsaysay Award is Asia’s highest honour.

It celebrates the memory and leadership example of the third Philippine President after whom the award is named, and is given every year to individuals or organisations in Asia who manifest the same selfless service and transformative influence that ruled the life of the late and beloved Filipino leader.

The 2015 Magsaysay awardees join the community of 307 other Magsaysay laureates who have received Asia’s highest honour till date.

This year’s Magsaysay Award winners will each receive a certificate, a medallion bearing the likeness of the late President, and a cash prize. They will be formally conferred the Magsaysay Award on 31 August at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, social activist and former IPS officer Kiran Bedi, social activist Aruna Roy are among other Indians who have received the award in recent years.

PTI

‘Pakistan, India should set up mechanism for resolving differences’

PM Sharif’s aide said that the meeting between Modi and Sharif in Ufa provides a “glimmer of hope” that the talks would be revived between the two countries.

India and Pakistan flags
File Photo

India and Pakistan should sit together to set up a mechanism for resolving their differences instead of “maligning” each other, an aide of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said. Tariq Fatemi, Special Assistant to Sharif on Foreign Affairs, said that after the recent meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sharif in Ufa, Pakistan is now looking forward to its National Security Adviser’s visit to New Delhi, which is exactly in order to meet the concerns of both the sides.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> He said that it is important for the two countries to sit down and resolve the differences. “If they (India) have concerns, and we have concerns, so you have two options. Either go around beating each other, maligning each other, ridiculing each other, which will add to hostility between the two countries, or sitting down as civilised people, which we presume we are, and then debating and discussing and finally resolving them,” Fatemi said speaking at The Heritage Foundation, a US think-tank here. He said that the meeting between Modi and Sharif in Ufa provides a “glimmer of hope” that the talks would be revived between the two countries. “…I see a small glimmer of hope in the meeting that took place between the prime ministers of the two countries on the 10th of this month, in the city of Ufa, and you will have to go back to your geography lessons to know where it is. It is deep in the belly of Russia, a southern city in the Bashkir Republic.” “Let us set up a mechanism whereby Indian concerns can be met, and our concerns can be met. You see, if the two countries are to live at peace with each other, and I agree with you that the people do want peace, on both sides of the border, there is no doubt about it. That is why it becomes incumbent on the political leadership to carve out a way, and in the process, friends should also help us,” he said. On underworld don Dawood Ibraham, Fatemi said he is not aware if the 1993 Mumbai attack mastermind is alive or dead. “Dawood Ibraham, or Ibrahim Dawood, we don’t know where he is. I, frankly, am not even aware that he is alive, dead or alive, or that he is in Pakistan. There are people, you know, who have committed acts of terror and have disappeared. We don’t know,” he said. Notably, till the time Al Qaeda Chief Osama bin Laden was killed by US commandoes in a daring raid in Abbottabad in 2011, top Pakistani leadership continued to deny his presence inside the country. Also Read: Pakistan blames India for horrific 2014 Peshawar school massacre

Quota for disabled: Supreme Court seeks status reports from states, Union Territories

Earlier, the court had issued notice on a fresh plea by Justice Sunanda Bhandare Foundation through its lawyer Ambar Qamaruddin, that the Centre and states be asked to file reports on the status of the implementation of provisions of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995.

The Supreme Court today asked states like Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Goa, Jharkhand and Rajasthan to file status reports regarding implementation of legal provisions on grant of reservation to disabled persons. A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra asked states and Union Territories, which have not complied with its earlier direction, to file status reports giving details of progress made in awarding quota to persons suffering from different kind of disabilities. It fixed the matter for hearing in September.Earlier, the court had issued notice on a fresh plea by Justice Sunanda Bhandare Foundation through its lawyer Ambar Qamaruddin, that the Centre and states be asked to file reports on the status of the implementation of provisions of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995. “It is submitted that the present application is filed for direction to the effect that all the Central Government, State Governments and Union Territories may further be directed to file a quarterly/half yearly status report before this Hon”ble Court, so that the implementation of the provisions of the said Act can be tracked under the supervision of this court,” the plea had said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The court, in its verdict, had said, “In our view, the 1995 Act has to be implemented in letter and spirit by the Central Government, State Governments and Union Territories without any delay, if not implemented so far. “We, accordingly, direct the Central Government, State Governments and Union Territories to implement the provisions of the 1995 Act immediately and positively by the end of 2014.””Be that as it may, the beneficial provisions of the 1995 Act cannot be allowed to remain only on paper for years and thereby defeating the very purpose of such law and legislative policy…,” it had said.