Online news channel!

Tag: independent

Congress wins 3, Sena 2, others bag 1 seat each: Council polls

Major political parties retained their respective strength in Maharashtra Legislative Council after the recent round of elections to seven local authorities constituencies the results of which were declared on Wednesday. The Congress won three seats, Shiv Sena won two, while the NCP, BJP and an Independent bagged one seat each. The elections to the seven local authorities constituencies of the state Legislative Council were held on Sunday in which 15 candidates were in the fray.Congress registered victory in one of the three seats (for which elections were held) in Mumbai and in Dhule- Nandurbar and Kolhapur. The Shiv Sena won a seat each in Mumbai and Akola-Washim- Buldhana, while the BJP bagged Nagpur MLC seat.Sena’s Ramdas Kadam (securing 8,600) and Congress’ Ashok alias Bhai Jagtap (bagging 6,400 votes) emerged victorious on one MLC seat each in Mumbai. Jagtap was facing a stiff challenge from former NCP leader and Independent candidate Prasad Lad, amid reports that a faction of about 20 Congress corporators cross-voted.The Sena and BJP together have 119 corporators in the house of 230 members in the Mumbai civic body, of which 201 actually cast their vote during the elections held on December 27, while the others abstained.In Nagpur, BJP’s Girish Vyas was declared elected unopposed as there was no rival in the fray. In Dhule-Nandurbar, sitting Congress MLC Amrishbhai Patel retained his seat by securing 352 votes. He was facing challenge from BJP’s Dr Shashikant Wani.In Kolhapur, former minister and Congress’ official candidate Satej Patil won the seat, defeating sitting MLC and party rebel Mahadevrao Mahadik. Patil bagged 220 votes. In Ahmednagar, sitting NCP MLC Arun Jagtap won by securing 243 votes. He was locked in a four-cornered contest with Congress’s Jayant Sasane, who filed the nomination as a rebel candidate, and Shiv Sena’s Shashikant Gade and the independent candidate Machindra Supekar.In Akola-Washim-Buldhana, there was a straight contest between sitting Sena MLC Gopikisan Bajoriya and NCP’s Ravindra Sapkal. Bajoriya, who polled 513 votes, defeated Sapkal at the seat.
Independent candidate Prashant Paricharak, who was supported by the BJP, won in Solapur by securing 261 votes. Out of the total 2,622 corporators, 2,585 cast their ballot, with the overall 98.59 per cent voting being recorded.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

CPI leader Bardhan’s condition ‘critical but stable’

Ex-Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, CPI state council secretaries of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka were amongst those who called on the former general secretary of the Left outfit on Friday.

AB Bardhan

The condition of veteran CPI leader AB Bardhan, who was admitted to a hospital in New Delhi on Monday after he suffered a paralytic stroke, is “critical but stable”, CPI said on Friday.”Senior CPI leader Bardhan, a veteran of Left movement who was admitted to GB Pant Hospital after he complained of breathlessness, continues to be critical but stable. He had brain haemorrhage,” CPI said in a statement. Doctors attending to him are making “all-out” efforts to save Bardhan, who still is in ICU, the party added.Ex-Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, CPI state council secretaries of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka were amongst those who called on the former general secretary of the Left outfit today. Ninety-two-year-old Ardhendu Bhushan Bardhan has been a leading figure of the trade union movement and Left politics in Maharashtra. He had won as an Independent candidate in the Maharashtra Assembly in 1957.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He later rose to become the General Secretary and then the President of the All India Trade Union Congress, the oldest trade union in India. Bardhan moved to Delhi politics in the 1990s and became the Deputy General Secretary of the CPI. He succeeded Indrajit Gupta as the general secretary of the party in 1996.

National Herald case: I am Indira Gandhi’s daughter-in-law, not scared of anyone, says Sonia Gandhi

“I am the daughter-in-law of Indira Gandhi. I am not scared of anyone. I am not disturbed.” Gandhi told reporters after a meeting of the strategy committee of Congress party in Parliament.

“I’m daughter-in-law of Indira Gandhi, I’m not scared of anything”
File Photo

“I am the daughter-in-law of Indira Gandhi. I am not scared of anyone,” a combative Congress President Sonia Gandhi asserted on Tuesday, invoking the legacy of the late Prime Minister in the wake of the National Herald case.”I am the daughter-in-law of Indira Gandhi. I am not scared of anyone. I am not disturbed.” Gandhi told reporters after a meeting of the strategy committee of Congress party in Parliament.She was asked about the Delhi High Court rejecting their pleas for quashing the summons by a Delhi court against them in the National Herald case.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The court, however, directed all accused to appear in person on December 19.Senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Harin Raval and Ramesh Gupta appeared for the Gandhis and other accused and moved separate pleas seeking exemption from personal apperance for their clients for today only.”We told the court that the accused are extremely keen, ready and willing to appear before magistrate at the earliest possible date. Earliest possible date was given on our request. On December 19, all accused barring one who’s in US will certainly be present at 3 pm” Abhishek Manu Singhvi said.However, the BJP has vehemently slammed the charges of vendetta by the Congress, saying the violations have been highlighted by the court and not the ruling party themselves. “The National Herald case is under court’s jurisdiction and the government has no role to play in it,” Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Rajiv Pratap Rudy told the media.(With agency inputs)

15 things you need to know about the Father of Constitution BR Ambedkar

Some highlights from Ambedkar’s life .

December 6 is the death anniversary of BR Ambedkar, best known for being the architect of the Indian constitution and for his struggle against untouchability in the Indian society. Ambedkar passed away in 1956, when he was 65 years old.Here are 9 facts you need to know about this great man, who made the Indian constitution possible. 1. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was born on April 14, 1891 in Mhow ( currently in Madhya Pradesh). He belonged to the Mahar caste, considered as untouchable and dalit. A young Ambdekar faced blatant discrimination in school. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. Ambedkar’s father served in the Indian army and his ancestors had worked with the East India Company.3. Ambedkar was a student par excellence. He had degrees in law and economics from iconic places like the Columbia University and the London School of Economics. 4. He was the first Union Minister of Law and Justice in the Nehru government. 5. Ambedkar wrote a short autobiography called Waiting For a Visa in 1935-36. It chronicled his experience with untouchability, including his struggles after he returned to India and started working in Baroda. 6. While working in Bombay at Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics, he faced hostility from colleagues for being from a lower caste. 7. Ambedkar strongly spoke out against Manusmriti for justifying caste discrimination and untouchability and even burnt its copies. 8. In 1936, Ambedkar formed Independent Labour Party, to give a voice to the downtrodden. 9. In 1942, he formed the Scheduled Castes Federation. However, his party had very limited electoral success.10. Ambedkar was the Chairman of the constitution drafting committee. 11. He resigned as the Union Law Minister when his Hindu Code Bill failed to pass in the Parliament. 12. Ambedkar was the man behind the setting up of the Finance Commission of India. His ideas were also used when the Reserve Bank of India was founded. 13. He was fervently against Article 370, which grants special status for Jammu and Kashmir. 14. He converted to Buddhism in 1956 along with his wife.15. He suffered from severe diabetes towards the end of his life.

Don’t return awards, raise issues with Commission on OROP: MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar

Noting that “some veterans and veteran organizations” have expressed their dissatisfaction about this notification, Rajeev Chandrashekhar said he had learnt about their decision to surrender their medals to express their protest.

Karnal Singh, 73, sits with other Army veterans at a protest site in New Delhi on August 28, 2015.
File Photo
AFP photo
Independent MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar, who had negotiated between the government and ex-servicemen over OROP, on Tuesday urged the veterans not to return their medals and asked them to engage with the one-man commission set up for redressal of the remaining matters.He acknowledged that certain issues in the ‘One Rank, One Pension’ remain “contentious” and asked the ex-servicemen to keep faith in the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which he described as “without doubt one of the most pro-forces and pro-veteran governments” in the country’s history. He issued a statement on a day when many ex-servicemen, unhappy with the details of the OROP notified by the government on November 7, began to return their awards.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The notification by government of One Rank, One Pension (OROP) on November 7, 2015 is a culmination of 40 years of wait by the veterans and widows. The decision marked OROP the biggest and most significant welfare measure for veterans in post-Independent India by any government,” the Rajya Sabha member said.Noting that “some veterans and veteran organizations” have expressed their dissatisfaction about this notification, he said he had learnt about their decision to surrender their medals to express their protest. “I request them not to do so,” Chandrasekhar said.”As someone who led this issue with the government and Parliament since 2006 and fighting for the welfare of veterans, I appeal to veterans to not to agitate but engage with government,” he said and promised to work for addressing all issues affecting the veterans, the armed forces personnel and their families.”I do accept and agree that there are certain issues in OROP that remain contentious. But I urge veterans to understand how far we have come and instead of agitating continue to engage with government including with One-man judicial committee on the issue going forward,” he said.”The political leadership of PM Modi is without doubt one of the most pro-forces and pro-veteran governments in history of India and this is something that needs to be built on as further ways to improve the cause of our armed forces, veterans and families,” Chandrasekhar said.

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

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

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

Assam CM Tarun Gogoi up for realignment of political forces to fight BJP

BJP had emerged the largest winner in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections winning 7 seats out of 14 in Assam. AIUDF, led by perfume baron Badaruddin Azmal, which espouses the causes of mainly Muslim minorities, won two seats in lower Assam and one seat in Barak valley in the last year’s Lok Sabha elections.

File photo

With Assembly polls only a few months away, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi favours a realignment of political forces, including the AIUDF, to fight the BJP on a single platform.Cautious about the difficult possibility of bringing the parties like CPI, CPI-M, AIUDF and Bodoland People’s Front together, he says it should not be viewed as a poll alliance but a grouping of forces joining hands to tackle communalism.”There is no such possibility (of an alliance) but I appeal to all political forces like the CPI, CPI-M, BPF and even the AIUDF to join hands against divisive forces trying to create trouble in the country,” Gogoi told PTI interview.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP had emerged the largest winner in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections winning 7 seats out of 14 in Assam. AIUDF, led by perfume baron Badaruddin Azmal, which espouses the causes of mainly Muslim minorities, won two seats in lower Assam and one seat in Barak valley in the last year’s Lok Sabha elections.”This should not be viewed as a poll alliance but is aimed at tackling communalism which is destroying the secular fabric of the country,” he said.Gogoi, however, said such a possibility is “very thin” but he will continue to try to bring all forces against communalism together.In 2011 Assembly polls, Congress won 68 seats out of the 126 constituencies while AIUDF bagged 18 seats. BJP won 15 seats, BPF bagged 12 and AGP got 10, TMC one and Independent two.In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Congress won 3 seats while one won by an Independent.Gogoi said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was “fast losing his popularity” and the BJP has ‘bleak prospects’ in the state assembly polls scheduled next year.”Modi’s popularity is fast waning and the results of assembly elections in different states even during the party’s honeymoon period is (going to be) an indication that people are losing their faith in him,” he said.Gogoi said the “aggressive manner” in which Modi campaigned in Bihar clearly indicates that the party is facing tough time and is not at all confident about its prospects even though they are in power at the Centre and had won huge mandate in the last Lok Sabha polls in the state,” he said.Besides, it had lost in Uttarakhand and had failed to get a majority in Maharashtra.In Assam, the BJP has very “bleak prospects as it has no base and there is no credible leader,” he said.”BJP is importing leaders from all other parties like the Congress, AGP, student organisations like the AASU and even militants having NIA cases pending against them have joined hands with them,” he said.The Congress prospects were “very good” and he was sure the party would form the next government after the assembly polls scheduled next year, Gogoi said.Gogoi alleged that contrary to BJP government’s claim of ushering in development, the situation in the North East has deteriorated.”There is no cooperation by the BJP government though Modi and his Ministers are good to me and continue to give me assurances but they do nothing,” he said.The BJP government at the Centre has withdrawn the special category status to the North Eastern states and has not even “released the funds due to us”.”Leave alone additional funds required for the development of the state, they are not giving what is due to us. As a result, development of the region has received a setback,” he said.Non-release of adequate funds has ultimately resulted in lack of employment opportunities for the youths which will in the long run affect the socio-economic development of the state, he said.The Centre has also withheld various incentives due to the region and as a result it has become “difficult to attract investors to the region”.The Modi government has made a “U-turn” on all the pre-poll promises like bringing back black money to the country, land deal with Bangladesh and construction of dam on the Subansiri, he said.”They are good to me personally but I want result. I do not want anything personally but what I want them to be good to the people of Assam and work in their interest,” Gogoi added.

KDMC: BJP offers to share mayor’s post with Shiv Sena

The offer came a day after Sena hinted at a truce with BJP following bad blood between the two parties in the run-up to the election

In a bid to break the deadlock due to the hung verdict in the Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC) polls, BJP has come up with a power-sharing formula involving rotational sharing of the mayor’s post with Shiv Sena, the single-largest party.The offer came a day after Sena hinted at a truce with BJP following bad blood between the two parties in the run-up to the election. “BJP has offered to give mayor’s post to Sena for four years and one year to itself (in KDMC). While the chairmanship of the Standing Committee is to be held by BJP and Sena for three and two years, respectively,” a senior BJP leader said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He cited the power-sharing agreement which is in place between the two parties in the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation, where Sena is to hold the mayoral post for a period of four years and the BJP for one year.Alliance partners at the Centre and in Maharashtra, Sena and BJP had, however, separately contested the KDMC election with the cut and thrust of campaigning characterised by mudslinging.While Sena emerged as the single largest party with 52 seats, BJP improved its tally handsomely to bag 42 seats. Sena is 10 short of the magic figure of 62 in the 122-member body. When contacted, a Sena leader said his party now enjoys the support of three Congress corporators and four Independents, taking its numbers to 57. “We had extended support to four of the Independent candidates put up by the ’27 Gaon Sangharsh Kruti Samiti’ for the November 1 KDMC election,” he said.On the BJP’s offer of sharing power, he said the party was at the same time engaging in horse-trading. The election for the mayor’s post is held by a secret ballot and, as per rules, should be held on November 11.While the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) won nine seats in KDMC, Congress and NCP won four and two seats, respectively.Among other parties, BSP and the All India Majlis-e- Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) won one seat each. Independents bagged nine seats. While KDMC has 122 seats, voting took place for 117 seats as two wards had boycotted the polls while three corporators were elected unopposed.

Muslims being targetted, says Azam Khan

Khan said, “Only one thing is left that we should write Muslim on the map of India and smear black ink on it.” He said if eating beef was a sin then the punishment given to Rashid, should also be meted out to Justice (retd) Markandey Katju and author Shobha De.

In the backdrop of lynching and defacing of Muslims in the name of consuming beef, senior Uttar Pradesh minister and Samajwadi Party leader Mohd Azam Khan on Tuesday said Muslims were being targetted.”Muslims are being targetted in the name of beef. Where do we go?” he asked while replying to a query by reporters about ink attack on Independent MLA from Jammu and Kashmir Sheikh Abdul Rashid by a right wing outfit in Delhi yesterday.Khan said, “Only one thing is left that we should write Muslim on the map of India and smear black ink on it.” He said if eating beef was a sin then the punishment given to Rashid, should also be meted out to Justice (retd) Markandey Katju and author Shobha De.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Khan said in that case half of the Indian population should be punished.”Muslim community is a weak community which is being punished,” he rued.Yesterday, Rashid was the target of fringe Hindu outfit Hindu Sena which threw ink and mobil oil on him at the Press Club in Delhi protesting against the beef party he held in Srinagar earlier this month.

J&K beef ban politics: The deeply flawed BJP-PDP coalition has to work as a whole

By David Devadas

The reduction of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly chamber to a wrestling arena on Thursday has been roundly condemned — rightly so. But one needs to go beyond shock, anger and despair. For the unsavoury incident (a member thrashed in the House for having hosted a public beef party) highlighted a systemic malaise: The deeply divisive frame that the PDP and the BJP have adopted for their alliance.

Both major coalition partners talk of representing the state’s two main regions, Jammu and Kashmir, respectively. The sub-text is that each represents one of the state’s two main religions. They insist on reading the mandate of 2014 thus. This is dangerous. The experiment in Lebanon showed the fragility of such specifically religion-based political alliances. In this case, it points inexorably towards a communal division of the state. Not only could that cause rivers of blood in the Chenab basin, but it would further blight the future of South Asia.

Screengrab from the video of an MLA being thrashed in the J&K Assembly. IBNLive

Screengrab from the video of an MLA being thrashed in the J&K Assembly. IBNLive

It is true that the BJP won all its seats from the Jammu division and the PDP from the Kashmir Valley. But to reduce that to a communal-regional polarity is to play politics with geography. Think of it this way: The pan-Indian mandates of 1977 and 1980 too were to a large extent geographically polarised, but nobody spoke of dividing south India from north India.

Last winter’s Jammu and Kashmir verdict certainly means that the two regions have divergent aspirations at this point, but that calls for nuanced policies to satisfy both sets of aspirations and for a political initiative to bridge the divide. Most of all, it calls for concerted coalition unity. Competitive communal politics will not only deepen the wedge, it could set off a spiral. For unexpected more-religious-than-you players have a way of gliding out of the woodwork.

The fact is that sociological conflicts based on religion, ethnicity, region, sect or tribe are symptoms of structural – economic and administrative – root causes. Powers must devolve to Panchayati Raj institutions, civil society institutions must be strengthened and corruption controlled so that entrepreneurship, investment, industry and other legitimate economic and social activity may thrive. The current dole economy combines with patronage politics to not only stifle the economy but also to generate sloth, repression, extortion, alienation – and finally, violent responses. Without appropriate curative measures, dividing the state into two, three or even ten portions will only multiply the problem, not solve it.

A coalition government must work cohesively to forge a united future for the state. Failure to do so will pave the way for what leading Pakistanis have described as `completing the incomplete task of Partition.’ Ironically, Mr Jinnah used exactly this issue to illustrate the Two-Nation Theory. Hindus worship the cow and Muslims eat it, he pointed out, so how could they be one nation?

At another level, Thursday’s violence in the Assembly chamber highlighted the fact that democracy in Jammu and Kashmir has never functioned through debate and consensus. It has either been conducted through demonstrative protest, as in the Independent MLA’s beef party, or violence, as by RSS members in the Assembly chamber. In fact, the structures of democracy have remained a sham for the most part.

Until recently, most elections have been rigged. Chief ministers have repeatedly been changed at New Delhi’s whim. Assembly resolutions have been dismissed out of hand.

Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed had changed the discourse substantially during his first stint in power (2002-2005) following elections that were universally said to be free and fair. He gave his deputy chief minister due regard, consulted his coalition partners and the opposition, and nurtured democratic space in the traumatised Valley. However, he could not adequately accommodate, or perhaps even grasp, the aspirations that had rapidly grown in Jammu since the 1990s.

Jammu’s rapid economic expansion since the early 1990s gave Jammuites’ longstanding resentment against perceived domination political ballast. Ghulam Nabi Azad’s dynamic development work, particularly across the Jammu division, when he came to power from 2005 to 2008, made it likely that the Congress would win the 2008 election with a near-majority. The panicking PDP seized upon land transfer to the Amarnath Shrine Board, Governor SK Sinha’s pet project for expanding the Hindu pilgrimage. It became a convenient political issue. The resultant conflagration severely damaged the social fabric of the state.

None of the political parties that played land transfer politics in 2008 realised quite how divisive it would become. Now that the chief gainer, the BJP, has joined hands with the party that had hoped to gain, the duo seems to have got involved in a more dangerous game, even if inadvertently. Any leaders worth their name in either party would do well to point their party strategists to lessons about the costs of mixing religion with politics which could be learnt from the US-Pakistan axis’ lethal experiment with the geopolitics of jihad three decades ago.

Watch: Ruckus in Jammu and Kashmir Assembly after BJP MLAs beat up MLA Rashid for hosting beef party

Several BJP MLAs today assaulted Independent MLA Sheikh Abdul Rashid in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly, a day after he had hosted a beef party here.

Screengrab of the video

Image Credit: ANI
Several BJP MLAs today assaulted Independent MLA Sheikh Abdul Rashid in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly, a day after he had hosted a beef party here.As BJP MLAs assaulted him, several NC and Congress MLAs rushed to save him. The legislator from Langate had on Wednesday hosted the beef party in the lawns of MLA hostel here, with the guests being served beef kebabs, ‘ristas’ (meat balls) and beef patties.Watch the video here:<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>
With agency inputs

Dadri lynching: Union Minister Mahesh Sharma meets victim’s family, says no politics should be played

“Today, I met the mother and the family members of the victim. It is a very sad incident. This is against the ‘Ganga Jamuni’ culture of our nation. There should be no politics about this tragic incident,” Sharma said after the meeting.

Condemning the brutal killing of Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh over alleged rumours that his family consumed and stored beef in their house, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Culture and Tourism Mahesh Sharma on Friday said it was not a pre-planned event and no politics should be played over it.”Today, I met the mother and the family members of the victim. It is a very sad incident. This is against the ‘Ganga Jamuni’ culture of our nation. There should be no politics about this tragic incident,” Sharma said after the meeting.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”It just happened. Proper investigation should be carried out whether by CBI or by the state government,” he added.Mix reactions have been coming over the brutal killing of Akhlaq with some politicians saying that it was pre-planned event.All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi, who also met the kith and kin of the victim, maintained that it was a pre-planned event.”Yesterday, senior advocate Prashant Bhushan had also claimed that the lynching of the Dadri victim was a well thought-out plan by vested interests in view of the upcoming panchayat elections.””The manner the rumour was spread and the way the mob had gathered and attacked the victim. The way the police came and started searching the victim’s refrigerator to find whether there was beef in it instead of looking into the murder, it clearly shows that it was a well-planned strategy by those who wanted to create communal strife in the region in view of the upcoming panchayat elections,” said Bhushan.”Fifty-year-old Akhlaq, the father of an Indian Air Force personnel, was beaten to death by the mob on Monday night, over alleged rumours that his family consumed and stored beef in their house.The family has maintained that the meat stored in their fridge was mutton and not beef. Meanwhile, officials have sent the meat samples for a forensic test.

ULFA commander-in-chief’s mother dead

Gogoi condoled Miliki Baruah’s death saying that she was a social activist and religious person who worked for the people and her death was an irreparable loss.

ULFA commander-in-chief Paresh Barua’s mother Miliki Barua on Thursday died following old-age ailments at her residence in Assam’s Dibrugarh district, the family said. She was 88, and is survived by her four sons, including Barua, and a daughter. Her another son was killed by unidentified persons at the height of insurgency in the state. The octogenarian woman was ailing for the past several months due to old-age complications and was admitted to a private hospital last month but was later discharged. She died at 11:10 am at her residence in Jeraigaon village under Chabua Police Station of the district. Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had extended an assistance of Rs one lakh to her for treatment which she refused to accept and asked him to spend it on flood-affected people. The Chief Minister had also announced that if Barua wished to visit his ailing mother, the state government would consider it on humanitarian grounds which was also rejected by the ULFA’s commander-in-chief.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Gogoi condoled Miliki Baruah’s death saying that she was a social activist and religious person who worked for the people and her death was an irreparable loss.The ULFA (Independent), led by Barua, also expressed grief over the passing away of Miliki Baruah. “We offer our deep obeisance to a woman whose strength,courage, idealism and sacrifice as a mother will be an example for several generations”, the outfit’s Publicity Secretary Arunodoy Asom statement e-mailed said.The outfit also offered their deepest condolences to the bereaved family.

Dadri incident should not be given communal angle, says Union Minister Mahesh Sharma

“It is very unfortunate that, when the Opposition do not have any point to make, they bring this kind of thing. This should not be given a communal angle. I believe this incident took place due to some misunderstandings and should not be given a political colour,” Sharma told ANI here.

Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Culture and Tourism Mahesh Sharma on Thursday urged the Opposition not to give a communal angle to the Dadri incident, in which a man was killed over alleged rumours that his family consumed and stored beef in their house.”It is very unfortunate that, when the Opposition do not have any point to make, they bring this kind of thing. This should not be given a communal angle. I believe this incident took place due to some misunderstandings and should not be given a political colour,” Sharma told ANI here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Also read: Dadri killing: UP Police leave out key evidence, BJP leader calls accused as ‘excited innocent children'”The Opposition should not make childish comments on such sensitive issues. Definitely, the administration is somewhat responsible for this. This incident would not have turned so big, if inquiry was initiated at the very beginning. Such incidents of animal slaughter have been reported earlier in other villages as well. The police and the administration should initiate an inquiry into such incidents of stealing and killing of animals,” he added.The 50-year-old father of an Indian Air Force personnel was beaten to death by a mob in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, on Monday night, over alleged rumours that his family consumed and stored beef in their house.The family has maintained that the meat stored in their fridge was mutton and not beef. Meanwhile, officials have sent the meat samples for a forensic test.

Bihar polls: Further chinks in NDA, Manjhi’s son-in-law turns rebel

“Despite representing Dalit and Mahadalit samaj, he got only 20 seats. What more can he do?” Devendra said about his father-in-law, adding “I do not want to tarnish his image and will definitely seek his blessings.”

Close on the heels of LJP chief Ramvilas Paswan’s son-in-law rebelling against him, the son-in-law of Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) chief Jitan Ram Manjhi also went against him and filed nomination as an Independent candidate on Monday.The HAM chief’s son-in-law Devendra Manjhi filed nomination as an Independent from Bodh Gaya (reserved SC seat). BJP has fielded its sitting MLA Shyamdeo Paswan from the seat.Devendra Manjhi said he had to enter the fray “under pressure from the Mahadalit samaj (community),” but bode no ill feeling against his father-in-law, former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Despite representing Dalit and Mahadalit samaj, he got only 20 seats. What more can he do?” Devendra said about his father-in-law, adding “I do not want to tarnish his image and will definitely seek his blessings.”Devendra Manjhi, who used to live in the CM’s residence when Jitan Ram Manjhi was on the chair and played an active role in his political activities, said “I have support of my mother-in-law and others in the family.” Jitan Ram Manjhi, who was contesting from two seats, Makhdumpur and Imamganj, both reserved seats, gave ticket to son Santosh Kumar Suman from Kutumba (reserved SC) seat in Aurangabad.Devendra Manjhi’s fate resembled that of Anil Kumar Sadhu, son-in-law of LJP president Ramvilas Paswan.Sadhu, who headed the Dalit Sena and has been removed by the LJP, said he was thinking of entering into the fray from Raja Pakar (reserved SC seat) against Pashupati Kumar Paras,younger brother of Ramvilas Paswan and state LJP chief.”I will field candidates from the Dalit samaj on all seats contested by the LJP and campaign to ensure defeat of Ramvilas Paswan’s party,” he added.

Netaji’s disappearance mother of all conspiracies: RSS

The mystery of Netaji will remain as a mystery forever.

Government should investigate where Netaji actually died

Terming Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s disappearance as the “mother of all conspiracies”, an article in RSS mouthpiece ‘Organiser’ has asked the Modi government to take the ‘bold’ step of unravelling the mystery over his death. “Many such conspiracy theories are associated with the Nehru-Gandhi family, but this is turning out to be the mother of all conspiracies. It is clear now that the Congress Party and especially Nehru-Gandhi family has lot many questions to answer on Netaji and other leaders with different ideological positions. The irony is the same Nehru and his heirs claim to be the founders of democracy and tolerance in Bharat…<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”If this bold step towards resolving Netaji’s death mystery is not taken by Narender Modi Government, I don’t think anyone else will be able in future to do that. And the mystery of Netaji will remain as a mystery forever,” the cover article in the RSS organ entitled “The mother of all conspiracies” said. The article comes after West Bengal government declassified files pertaining to Netaji, claiming that it has ratified the suspicion about the cover up surrounding Netaji s death and shameful conspiracy of spying his family members. “The government should investigate where Netaji actually died, which I hope eventually will come out,” the article author, who has researched on Netaji said.It said Netaji was popular among masses with his revolutionary zeal and his international stature was also much higher than Nehru during the freedom struggle. “He was the one who formed first Independent Government of Bharat in exile, which was recognised by more than 11 countries. Unfortunately, this history is deliberately washed out from our memory by the post-Independence leadership,” the article said. The article said, “On one hand Nehru restricted Netaji to enter India, but at the same time one more question raised where has the money of Netaji and INA gone? Netaji went to Singapore because of Lord Mountbatten’s request and met many bank officers. But why that is still a mystery?.” It further said, “we should also find out the information about the money and jewellery donated by thousands of Indians living in South East Asia to Netaji?”The article also said, “It is sad that the person who asked for blood of Bharateeyas for Independence could not have his last breath on the motherland, his family was spied and his associates were treated as criminals in the post-Independent Bharat. Declassification of files on Netaji Bose by the Paschim Banga Government has ratified the suspicion about the cover up surrounding Netaji’s death and shameful conspiracy of spying his family members.”

Amit Shah launches website, dedicates his maiden blog to Veer Savarkar

“If the leading political leaders in the independent India had drawn from Savarkar’s life and philosophy to build the nation, then the country would not be passing through such difficult times. Come and pledge with me that we will be partners in making India of his dreams,” he wrote on his blog.

Dedicating his maiden blog to Hidutva pioneer Veer Savarkar, BJP chief Amit Shah today called him his “ideal” whose mantra was “one nation, one cultural value and nationalism” as he asked people to join him in making India of Savarkar’s dream.Shah said he had tears in his eyes whenever he thought about the tortures Savarkar suffered in the British rule and the way he was ignored in independent India.”If the leading political leaders in the independent India had drawn from Savarkar’s life and philosophy to build the nation, then the country would not be passing through such difficult times. Come and pledge with me that we will be partners in making India of his dreams,” he wrote on his blog.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Savarkar ji was a strong votary of an undivided India.His mantra was one nation, one cultural value and nationalism… He was a great patriot, unparalleled freedom fighter and social reformer, great writer, pioneering visionary and strong proponent of Hindu culture,” Shah said.Recalling Savarkar’s vision, the BJP leader said he believed in a democratic India where followers of all religions and faiths would be treated equally. Where nobody will be allowed to dominate others, he said.Noting that various governments ignored him, Shah said when the first NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee decided to put his portrait in parliament followers of a certain ideology opposed it. He was apparently referring to the Congress and Left parties.Shah’s first blog came after BJP general secretary Ram Lal launched his website. He hoped that it would help his interaction with people and party workers.

Government likely to publish first draft of national education policy by December, says Smriti Irani

Talking to media in Agartala on Friday, Irani said that for the first time, a collaborative effort has been taken from the grass root level to formulate the national education policy.

Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani has said that the first draft of the National Education Policy (NEP) is likely to be announced by December. Talking to media in Agartala on Friday, Irani said that for the first time, a collaborative effort has been taken from the grass root level to formulate the national education policy. Irani said that the government is talking to teachers, students, district magistrates and other sections of the society in this regard. She was presiding over the North East Zonal Consultative Meeting in Agartala with education ministers and education secretaries and other officials of the region.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> During her visit to National Institute of Technology (NIT), Agartala, Irani said a special meeting of the NITs of the North East would be convened soon to discuss their problems and opportunities for improvements. “I am extremely positive with the feedback I have received that even at the district level. I see engagement of collectors and district magistrates on the issue with regard to education and I am hopeful that we shall come out with our first draft in the month of December,” said Irani. She added: “For the first time in the history of Independent India the National Education Policy is being formulated with the collaboration and contribution of not only of states but also citizen’s at large, educational institutions, educational leaders, academicians, professors, teachers and students. Across the nation we are holding regional deliberations, for the Northeast zone we hold today at Agartala.? The meeting was held at the Pragnya Bhavan, where Secretary (Higher Education) VS Oberoi and S.C Khuntia, Secretary (School Education) of Ministry of HRD, education ministers of Tripura, Manipur, Mizoram and senior officials of education departments of northeastern states attended the meeting.

CPI to observe ‘anti-price rise’ day on October 5

Speaking to PTI on the sidelines of party’s two-day national executive meeting, which got over on Sunday, D Raja expressed concerns also over drought situation in parts of the country.

The Narendra Modi Government has failed miserably in controlling the price rise, says D Raja.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Blaming Narendra Modi Government for rise in prices of essential commodities, CPI on Sunday said it will observe October 5 as an “anti-price rise” day to highlight Centre’s failure in dealing with the issue.”Prices of essential commodities have gone up even as fuel prices have gone down internationally. The Narendra Modi Government has failed miserably in controlling the price rise. Hence, to protest its failure, we will observe the anti-price rise day,” CPI National secretary D Raja said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Speaking to PTI on the sidelines of party’s two-day national executive meeting, which got over on Sunday, Raja expressed concerns also over drought situation in parts of the country.The Rajya Sabha member said the party will also highlight plight of farmers from drought-affected areas on the protest day. He reiterated the Left Front will contest Bihar assembly polls as an Independent bloc and claimed the communist parties will provide voters with an alternative “for the development of the state.”The five-phase Bihar polls begins on October 12 and results of the election will be declared on November 8.Meanwhile, CPI congratulated it’s student wing, All India Students Federation (AISF), for winning the post of president of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union. AISF’s Kanhaiya Kumar has been elected as the president of the union.

Traveling to work counts as working time, says Europe’s highest court

The European Court of Justice (ECJ), the continent’s highest court, has ruled that traveling to and from work should constitute working time under the law.

Representational Image

dna Research & Archives
The European Court of Justice (ECJ), the continent’s highest court, has ruled that traveling to and from work should constitute working time under the law.According to the Independent, the ECJ also stated that workers without a fixed office should be paid for the time they spend traveling to and from work. It could mean that companies employing such workers as electricians, gas fitters, care workers and sales reps could be in breach of EU working time regulations, if they have no fixed office.The Independent states that the ECJ’s rationale is that this ruling protects the health and safety of workers according to the European Union’s Working Time Directive.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ruling said: “The fact that the workers begin and finish the journeys at their homes stems directly from the decision of their employer to abolish the regional offices and not from the desire of the workers themselves.”Requiring them to bear the burden of their employer’s choice would be contrary to the objective of protecting the safety and health of workers pursued by the directive, which includes the necessity of guaranteeing workers a minimum rest period.”

One Rank, One Pension agitation reaches Defence Minister’s home state Goa

The striking ex-servicemen have already forwarded a memorandum to Parrikar demanding implementation of OROP.
File Photo
PTI photo
The one rank, one pension (OROP) stir on Wednesday reached Goa, the home state of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, with ex-army veterans beginning an indefinite relay strike. Several ex-armymen, including war veterans, under the banner of All Goa Ex-Servicemen Welfare Association (AGEWA) said they will continue with the stir till their demands are met.One Rank, One Pension basically means that retired soldiers of the same rank, who have retired after serving for the same length of service, will receive the same pension, irrespective of the date or year of their retirement.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The person who retires now gets four times more pension than those who had superannuated with me. This is gross injustice,” said Surjit Singh, ex-master chief Indian Navy, who had participated in 1971 Bangladesh war.Singh said when he joined the service, they were told that their pension would be 70%, but when he retired in the year 1986 he came to know that the pension was only 50 per cent.”The families of those who die on the border get pension almost 50% to that of ours. This imparity should be removed,” he said.The striking ex-servicemen have already forwarded a memorandum to Parrikar demanding implementation of OROP.”Indian armed forces are best known for their valour, discipline and impeccable integrity. The veterans after their retirement remain as dedicated as they were during service, except that they not carry arms and have always been against any protest or agitation,” said Captain Dattaram Sawant.”Unfortunately, for the first time in the history of Independent India, ex-servicemen are on relay hunger strike at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, for their legitimate demand of OROP which has been promised by the government,” he said.The government should not betray the soldiers because the nation cannot afford to do so. Moreover, the credibility of government and the Prime Minister is at stake, Captain Sawant added.

Watch Ustad Amjad Ali Khan render ‘Vande Mataram’ in his own style on eve of 69th I-Day

On the eve of India’s 69th Independence Day, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and his sons Amaan Ali Khan and Ayaan Ali Khan have come up with a fitting tribute to the historic day.

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan. Reuters

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan. Reuters

In a video presented by Taj Mahal Tea, the sarod maestro performs an instrumental rendition of ‘Vande Mataram’ accompanied by his sons, in a soulful and classical tribute to those brave freedom fighters, who laid down their lives with ‘Vande Mataram’ in their hearts and hopes of freedom in their dreams.

‘Vande Mataram’, a poem from Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s 1882 novel Anandamath, served as a hymn to the motherland throughout the freedom struggle. Independent India gave the first two verses of the poem the status of ‘National Song’ of the Republic of India.

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan’s rendition, apart from being a musical masterpiece, is bound to give you goosebumps and leave you with thoughts of a time when freedom wasn’t free and of the people who paid the price with their lives for it.

Meet the real before the reel one: Gour Hari Das on his idea of independent India

Filmmaker Ananth Mahadevan is clear that his film, Gour Hari Dastaan: The Freedom File, is perhaps only for the 1% of Indian film goers –interested in a good, touching real-life story. Even though the film has won acclaim in the international festival circuit, he is not interested in how much money it would make at the box-office. Because, the film is a biopic on the 84-year old freedom fighter Gour Hari Das, and is a touching narration of denial, humiliation, apathy of our existing system towards its own people and, the struggle of an ordinary man with extraordinary achievements.

Gour Hari Das. SolarisGour Hari Das. Solaris

Gour Hari Das. Solaris

Mumbai-based Das, an unsung hero of India’s freedom struggle knocked for 32 years on 321 doors, climbed 66,000 steps, wrote 1,043 letters, pleaded 2,300 times in the post-Independent India just to prove that he was the same Gour Hari Das, whom Mahatma Gandhi had blessed and who was jailed for being a part of the freedom movement against the British Raj.

Ahead of the film’s release on 14 August, Das spoke exclusively to Firstpost on his struggle, the diminishing idea of independent India and his shattered dreams. Excerpts from the interview:

Do you think independent India has come good on the hope that the freedom fighters like you had reposed in it at the time of Independence?

I am a bonafide freedom fighter who had joined the struggle as a 14-year-old from Balasore in Odisha in 1945. But it took me a struggle of 32 years to get the certificate of a freedom fighter (Tamrapatra) from the government. I was even branded a ‘fraud.’ So, instead of getting the benefits due to a freedom fighter, I had to run from pillar to post to prove that I was not a ‘fraud’. Of course, it has turned me into a cynic. Sometimes I wonder if the British Raj was better… because then, at least you knew who the enemy was.

Could you elaborate?

There is a small mention about this in the film as well. The British were bad because they exploited us to make their paradise. They totally ruined our economy and our indigenous industries. Despite this, there was a certain level of honesty in whatever they did in public life. Like, the constructions under British government continue to be in good shape even today; whereas, we witness damages in the infrastructure that is built today. Honesty and accountability are missing in the post-Independent India. Despite the fact that I was jailed for protesting against the British rule, my heart says probably they were better.

Do you think we need another revolution?

Yes. There is a need for a cultural revolution. Unlike past, India’s economy has improved over the decades and it has made its mark globally. Our cultural ethos and values are the driving force behind our nation’s progress, but unfortunately, these are eroding fast. It’s we – the society — who have produced rebels, Naxalites and militants by doing injustice and unleashing atrocities on poor and downtrodden. Phoolan Devi is a case in point. Revolution will come from the roots.

Who inspired you to join the freedom struggle as a teenager?

Mahatma Gandhi and my father Sri Hari Das are my source of inspiration. Gandhiji blessed me by putting his hand on my head, when I joined his movement as a teenager. Right from my childhood I used to accompany my father, who was a Congress worker and actively involved in social work. Whatever, I’ve learnt in life and the values I have got, are from him. But, it was in 1945, I actively got involved in the freedom movement. Even, today, I fight against injustice and corruption. My father used to say, a pending work is corruption, and today, it has become a work rule in government bodies. I was a victim of it.

What do you think of the present day political system?

It’s in a bad shape and this is not the India, we had dreamt during our struggle. Today, no political party is different. When, one is in opposition, it would blame the other in power and vice versa. It has become a standard practice. There is a lack of stability. In the name of development, we’re moving towards destruction. Politicians never suffer; it’s the people like us – the middle class, the common man who suffer.

Why did you refuse to accept an open piece of land in Mumbai that was being given to you as a freedom fighter?

An open piece of land in Mumbai is very costly. I didn’t accept it, because I have a flat of my own. I told government to give that land to a needy, a landless. But, some people told me that since I didn’t accept it, instead, I should help them in getting it (laughs). This is lust, which leads one to corruption, and it’s rampant at present, like an epidemic.

How do you keep yourself occupied?

I work as a Special Executive Officer (earlier Magistrate) and attest copies of original documents. I only charge for the ink I use. I’m a life member of an NGO – National Anti-Corruption and Crime Prevention Council (NACCPC), along with Mohan Krishnan. Besides, I’m involved in social work and out of my Rs 10,000 pension amount, I donate Rs 8,000 for social causes like treatment of children suffering from cancer, old age home, religious institution, etc.

No change in position on supporting Palestinian cause: Centre

On July 3, India for the first time abstained from voting on an anti-Israel resolution adopted at the UN Human Right’s Council meeting in Geneva.

India on Thursday insisted that there was no change in its long-standing position on supporting the Palestinian cause and that the abstention from voting on a resolution adopted at the UN rights body last month was due to a reference made to International Criminal Court. Replying to a question in Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh said India’s abstention was on account of a “direct action-oriented reference made in the resolution to the International Criminal Court, of which India is not a member”.On July 3, India for the first time abstained from voting on an anti-Israel resolution adopted at the UN Human Right’s Council meeting in Geneva. It had called for accountability by parties involved in last year’s conflict in Gaza. The resolution on ensuring accountability and justice for “all violations of international law in the occupied Palestinian territory”, including East Jerusalem was adopted UNHRC with 41 votes in favour, five abstentions and one vote against it.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India abstained from voting along with Ethiopia, Kenya, Macedonia and Paraguay. The resolution was related to the report of the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict in which a total of 1,462 civilians were killed.

Landmark Enclave Exchange: The road to improved India-Bangladesh ties begins

The landmark exchange of 162 enclaves (51 in India and 111 in Bangladesh) at midnight on July 31 will be one of the biggest boosts to the bilateral relationship since the Ganga water sharing treaty at Farakka signed in 1996. Over the decades, India-Bangladesh ties have seen their fair share of highs—from the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971 to the Sheikh Hasina government’s crackdown on anti-India terror groups. But it has also had lows—like the anti-India sentiment fomented by former Bangladeshi prime minister Khaleda Zia’s government. Tonight’s implementation of the Land Boundary Agreement signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Dhaka visit in June, will be another high point in the relations between the two countries.

Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina in a file photo. PTI

Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina in a file photo. PTI

This exchange of enclaves will represent an end to the 68-year-long misery of over 50,000 stateless people, reports The Independent . The 37,334 people in the Indian enclaves inside Bangladesh and 14,215 in Bangladeshi enclaves inside India have been deprived of such facilities as electricity, education, road connectivity and healthcare.

New Age reports that in terms of area, this swap will account for 17160.63 acres of land being returned to Bangladesh and 2267.68 acres to India.

Additionally, a 6.5 kilometre-long unmarked border will also be demarcated, as the process of granting a nationality to the tens of thousands living in limbo in the enclaves gets underway.

Naturally, the mood in Bangladesh is buoyant with numerous events planned for midnight, reports The Dhaka Tribune.

The Bangladesh-India Chhitmahal (Enclave) Exchange Coordination Committee has planned a list of festivities that kicks off with the hoisting of the Bangladeshi flag and permanent lowering of the Indian tricolour, at the stroke of midnight. The itinerary includes a candle-lighting ceremony (68 candles for the 68 years of suffering, The Daily Star points out), a torch-lighting ceremony, a flag rally, fireworks displays, a boat race, horse racing and a demonstration of Bangladeshi martial art lathi khela (stick playing).

While significant, this development must be put into context. As think-tank Gateway House had highlighted, the two countries will now need to find solutions to issues like smuggling, illegal immigration and trafficking that a long unsettled border has created, and the problem of sharing the water of the 53 rivers (not including the resolved Ganga) that flow between both countries. For this, Modi will have to balance the interests of Indian states (given the country’s federal structure) and relations with neighbours.

Enclave Exchange: The road to improved India-Bangladesh ties begins at midnight

The landmark exchange of 162 enclaves (51 in India and 111 in Bangladesh) at midnight on July 31 will be one of the biggest boosts to the bilateral relationship since the Ganga water sharing treaty at Farakka signed in 1996. Over the decades, India-Bangladesh ties have seen their fair share of highs—from the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971 to the Sheikh Hasina government’s crackdown on anti-India terror groups. But it has also had lows—like the anti-India sentiment fomented by former Bangladeshi prime minister Khaleda Zia’s government. Tonight’s implementation of the Land Boundary Agreement signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Dhaka visit in June, will be another high point in the relations between the two countries.

Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina in a file photo. PTI

Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina in a file photo. PTI

This exchange of enclaves will represent an end to the 68-year-long misery of over 50,000 stateless people, reports The Independent . The 37,334 people in the Indian enclaves inside Bangladesh and 14,215 in Bangladeshi enclaves inside India have been deprived of such facilities as electricity, education, road connectivity and healthcare.

New Age reports that in terms of area, this swap will account for 17160.63 acres of land being returned to Bangladesh and 2267.68 acres to India.

Additionally, a 6.5 kilometre-long unmarked border will also be demarcated, as the process of granting a nationality to the tens of thousands living in limbo in the enclaves gets underway.

Naturally, the mood in Bangladesh is buoyant with numerous events planned for midnight, reports The Dhaka Tribune.

The Bangladesh-India Chhitmahal (Enclave) Exchange Coordination Committee has planned a list of festivities that kicks off with the hoisting of the Bangladeshi flag and permanent lowering of the Indian tricolour, at the stroke of midnight. The itinerary includes a candle-lighting ceremony (68 candles for the 68 years of suffering, The Daily Star points out), a torch-lighting ceremony, a flag rally, fireworks displays, a boat race, horse racing and a demonstration of Bangladeshi martial art lathi khela (stick playing).

While significant, this development must be put into context. As think-tank Gateway House had highlighted, the two countries will now need to find solutions to issues like smuggling, illegal immigration and trafficking that a long unsettled border has created, and the problem of sharing the water of the 53 rivers (not including the resolved Ganga) that flow between both countries. For this, Modi will have to balance the interests of Indian states (given the country’s federal structure) and relations with neighbours.

Government to bring in legislation to establish Skill Universities

Union Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy, who is the Minister of State (Independent Charge) Skills Development & Entrepreneurship, said the Government has decided to train around 60,000 defence personnel in the last year of their service to impart skills training or become entrepreneurs.
File Photo
Getty Images
Government will bring in a legislation in Parliament to establish Skill Universities in every state, as a part of its efforts to create a large pool of skilled workforce in the country, Union Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy said today.”… Prime Minister had directed that to achieve this objective (skill development) we will have to set up Skill Universities and work with states to achieve the goal. We are confident that in the coming days we will bring in a legislation in Parliament to make an attempt to establish a Skill University in every state,” Rudy said at a mega event to mark the first-ever World Youth Skills Day.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rudy, who is the Minister of State (Independent Charge) Skills Development & Entrepreneurship, said the Government has decided to train around 60,000 defence personnel in the last year of their service to impart skills training or become entrepreneurs. He outlined the steps the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship is taking to turn the Prime Minister’s vision of a skilled India into reality.Rudy also underlined the importance of strategic partnerships in achieving the Skill India vision, showcasing inter-Ministerial initiatives to scale up skill development efforts.

Govt property was converted into luxury hotel by Lalit Modi and Vasundhara Raje, alleges Congress

In 1954, the Dholpur Riyasat merged with the Union in Independent India and in 1977, the Dholpur Palace was made government property. Despite the Dholpur Palace being the property of the government, Raje and Lalit Modi proceeded to convert it into a high-end private luxury hotel,” said Jairam Ramesh.

The Congress on Monday alleged that former IPL chairman Lalit Modi and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje conspired to convert the Dholpur Palace, a government property, into a luxury hotel, adding that they had documents to back their claims. “The first thing that has been established is that the fugitive Lalit Modi and Vasundhara Raje are business partners. The second fact which has been established is that Lalit Modi got Rs 21 crore from Mauritius and invested in Dushyant Singh’s company. The third fact is that Vasundhara Raje signed a seven page document for UK Authorities to abet Lalit Modi. There have been three lies, three cover-ups by the BJP and Vasundhara Raje. Today, we are exposing the fourth fact of this episode,” said Congress leader Jairam Ramesh<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>“Today, we present you the documents where Lalit Modi and Vaundhara Raje changed government property into personal property. In 1954, the Dholpur Riyasat merged with the Union in Independent India and in 1977, the Dholpur Palace was made government property. Despite the Dholpur Palace being the property of the government, Raje and Lalit Modi proceeded to convert it into a high-end private luxury hotel,” he said.Jairam further added, “Magnitude of quid pro quo, financial relationship between Raje-Modi are getting unearthed everyday. On 10.04.1954, Dholpur Riyasat merged with Union of India in Independent India and in 1977 Dholpur Mahal was made government Property.”Ramesh also alleged that Raje’s husband had admitted the same in 1980.”We sadly have to state that Vasundhara Raje’s husband in 1980 made a statement saying Dholpur Mahal belongs to the government. Despite Dholpur City Palace being property of government, Raje and Lalit Modi proceeded to convert it into a high-end private luxury hotel, ” said Jairam Ramesh. The Congress has mounted pressure on Raje after the emergence of a letter reportedly carrying her signature, in which she backs Lalit Modi’s application in the UK.Earlier in the day, former Rajasthan chief minister and Congress leader Ashok Gehlot said Raje must step down on moral grounds so that the investigation can take its own course. “It is very unfortunate. Advani gave clear indication, even Govindacharya said it clearly and now everyone in all the political parties is saying the same thing that at least for once resignation must be given on moral grounds. After that, the investigation can take its own course and if the charges are proven false then no one can stop her from becoming the CM again,” Gehlot told ANI.

Mumbai remains India’s most expensive city for expats, Karachi in Pakistan least expensive: survey

You thought living costs in Mumbai was expensive? Think again! For a Cost of Living Survey 2015 by Mercer has ranked Mumbai at 74, a climb of 66 places, in the world’s most expensive cities list. Mumbai is the country’s most expensive city to live in due to its rapid economic growth, inflation on the goods and services basket and a stable currency against the US dollar, according to the survey.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

The world’s least expensive cities for expatriates, according to the survey, are Bishkek (207), Windhoek (206), and Karachi (205).

Luanda, the capital of Angola, has been rated the world’s costliest city to live in, for the third consecutive year, followed by Hong Kong, Zurich, Singapore and Geneva as most expensive cities for expatriates. Tel Aviv (18) continues to be the most expensive city in the Middle East for expatriates. Asian cities dominate the top 10 costliest cities rankings along with major cities in Switzerland in the report.

So what makes Mumbai top all cities in India and  push other major cities in the world like Dallas (77), Munich (87), Frankfurt (98) and Vancouver (119) to reach a ranking of 74?

The survey lists the reasons for Mumbai’s climb to the city having witnessed higher inflation over the last one year as compared to other metro cities, higher cost of fuel, transportation, increased prices of food items, home services and rentals impacting the cost of living. This ‘most populous’ city is followed by New Delhi (132) and Chennai (157), which rose in the ranking by 25 and 28 spots, respectively. Bangalore (183) and Kolkata (193), the least expensive Indian cities, climbed in the ranking, as well.

Just as foreign exchange costs create headwinds for many multinational organizations, currency fluctuations – driven by economic and political unrest – are contributing to the cost of expatriate packages for those on the front line of globalization of their organizations. Mercer’s 21st annual Cost of Living Survey 2015 finds that factors including instability of housing markets and inflation for goods and services impacts significantly on the overall cost of doing business in a global environment.

With a large number of Indian multinational organisations progressively expanding their footprint abroad, 85 percent of multinationals are expecting expatriate assignments to increase over the next two years to address business needs,” said Ruchika Pal, India Practice Leader, Global Mobility at Mercer.

“Indian companies have been bullish on sending employees abroad and view this strategically for multiple reasons. Companies send critical and experienced talent for launching foreign investment, filling in for skill/managerial gap or for developing leaders and careers. Organisations continue to recognize the importance of international assignees. What they need to evaluate even more closely is the impact of political and economic factors such as currency stability, inflation, and political instability, to balance cost versus competitiveness of the expatriate’s compensation package,” said Pal.

Many Indian companies with operations in Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries remained concerned in 2014 over the devaluation of currencies in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, as it had a direct impact on the cost of living and purchasing power parity. Moscow (50) and St. Petersburg (152) dropped 41 and 117 spots, respectively, as a result of Russia’s ruble losing significant value against the US dollar, lower oil prices, and a lack of confidence in the currency following Western sanctions over the crisis in Ukraine.

Across continents, countries with the highest expected increase in the number of Indian international assignees are South Africa, UAE, UK and USA.  Despite climbing five spots, Cape Town (200) in South Africa continues to rank as the least expensive city among these four countries, owing to the South African rand being weak against the US dollar. Dubai (23) and Abu Dhabi (33), have all climbed in this year’s ranking. Many currencies in the Middle East are pegged to the US dollar, which pushed the cities up in the ranking. Steep increase for expatriate rental accommodations particularly in Abu Dhabi and Dubai also contributed to the increase of the cities in the ranking.

Keeping New York as the base city and measuring currency movements against the US dollar, all the cities are compared against it. The survey includes 207 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of more than 200 items in each location, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods, and entertainment. Currency fluctuations and the impact of inflation on goods and services have influenced the cost of expatriate programs as well as the city rankings.

Indians apologise after British blogger says man masturbated publicly while looking at her

London: A British woman, left shaken after a man publicly masturbated while staring at her at a Mumbai bus stop during her trip to India, has been inundated with apologies and support from Indians.

Lucy Hemmings, 27, said Indian men and women had sent her countless messages after reading her blog post about the incident to say sorry, ‘The Independent’ newspaper reported here on Wednesday.

“On behalf of my fellow countrymen I would like to apologise for what happened,” one man wrote.

“It is truly disheartening to know that you have had such an experience while you were in my country… I pray that you will have a safer environment from now on,” he added.

Image from Lucy's blog.Image from Lucy's blog.

Image from Lucy’s blog.

Another Indian well-wisher wrote that they felt “ashamed and sorry”, while another said: “A bunch of people, out of a billion population, make the whole of India ashamed. “So I just thought to say sorry (on behalf of everyone in India). I know you have moved on… but I still believe a sorry could make a difference.”

Hemmings, who was travelling in India for three months and has since returned to the UK, wrote about the experience on her Lucy’s Miles Away travel blog. She was sitting at a bus stop in Mumbai when she noticed a man move closer to her.

“From the corner of my eye, to my horror, I realised that he had pulled out his penis and was masturbating, staring intently at me,” she wrote.

“I felt sick.”

Hemmings wrote that although she respected Indian culture by covering herself completely in loose clothes and had followed safety advice about travel and conduct with strangers, it was not the first time something similar had happened.

She told ‘The Independent’: “I found it really frustrating because I’m someone who really loves interacting with people and I really struggled because suddenly I was afraid to look at people.

“I kept on thinking: ‘Is it going to happen every time?’ Of course, it doesn’t but for about three days I really found it difficult.”

The former Bournemouth University student said she had no idea of the impact her blog would have and hopes it will encourage other women to talk about their experiences of sexual harassment around the world.

“It could easily have provoked a really negative reaction but it’s been absolutely wonderful and so humbling that people are writing to me to say they are sorry,” she said.

PTI

India and Iran sign port deal despite U.S. warning about haste | Reuters

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India reached a deal on Wednesday to develop a strategic port in southeast Iran despite U.S. pressure not to rush into any such trade agreements before world powers clinch a final nuclear accord with Tehran.

Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari and his Iranian counterpart Abbas Ahmad Akhoundi signed a memorandum of understanding to develop the Chabahar Port on the Gulf of Oman, near Iran’s border with India’s arch rival Pakistan.

“Indian firms will lease two existing berths at the port and operationalise them as container and multi-purpose cargo terminals,” the Indian government said in a statement, adding that a commercial accord would be needed to implement the pact.

India and Iran agreed in 2003 to develop the port, but the venture has made little progress because of Western sanctions tied to Tehran’s disputed atomic programme.

Now, spurred on by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signing of energy and infrastructure agreements with neighbouring Pakistan worth $46 billion, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants swiftly to sign trade deals with Iran and other Gulf countries.

Encouraged by a provisional, April 2 deal over Tehran’s nuclear programme, India recently sent a delegation to Iran to scout for trade, energy and infrastructure deals.

However, the United States has expressed concern that India is moving too fast and could undermine a sanctions regime imposed on Iran to try to bring it to the negotiating table.

Washington has said there is no guarantee that a final deal will be secured with Tehran by a June 30 deadline.

“Sanctions won’t solve the problem, but they certainly will continue to bring Iran to a final agreement,” Richard Verma, the U.S. ambassador to India, said earlier on Wednesday.

For India, one advantage of a container and cargo terminal at Chabahar is that it would provide landlocked Afghanistan with access to the sea, reducing its reliance on Pakistan.

Iran has also proposed a free-trade agreement with India, a trade ministry source said. Rupee-denominated trade with Iran, started in 2012 because of complications arising from sanctions, has almost doubled Indian exports to Tehran in the past two years to $4 billion.

Now, Indian exporters want to build on that, using a free-trade zone being developed near Chabahar to export more to the Commonwealth of Independent States, made up of former Soviet Republics, said Mumbai-based Khalid Khan, regional head of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations.

(Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel, Nidhi Verma and Manoj Kumar; Editing by Crispian Balmer)

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

All you need to know about India’s submarine Scorpene

The first of six Scorpene submarines was undocked at Mazagon Dock Limited on Monday morning by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. He has asked all the Defence Public Sector Undertakings to double the production. The submarine will be launched in September. This will be followed by a formal commissioning or induction into the Indian Navy in September 2016. Here’s a look at the specifics:1. It will be armed with Black Shark torpedoes– an advanced heavy weight torpedo missile developed by WASS (Italy). It is associated with Scorpene diesel-electric submarines and Exocet missiles (French-built anti-ship missile whose various versions can be launched from surface vessels, submarines, helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft).<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. The first four of the six submarines will be diesel-electric, while the last two will be Air Independent Propulsion or AIP developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation. This means that the first four submarines will not be able to remain submerged for long durations and will be resurface to recharge its batteries using snorkelling pipe.3. The first submarine will be named INS Kalvari, while the second will be christened as INS Khanderi.4. This submarine will join India’s 13 diesel-electric submarines out of which only half of them are available at any given time for operations.5. The submarine is built in India by Mazagon Dock Limited under Transfer-of-Technology from DCNS, France.

Veteran editor Vinod Mehta passes away; outpouring of wishes on Twitter

Veteran editor Vinod Mehta passed away today in New Delhi, the Outlook group announced on Twitter today.

The group didn’t immediately disclose the cause of his death though he was said to have been ailing for some time. Mehta, the founding editor of the magazine, has been the editor of various publications and written multiple books in a journalistic career spanning decades.

Mehta, who was originally from Lucknow, started his journalistic career editing the magazine Debonair and went on to write biographies on Sanjay Gandhi and actress Meena Kumari. He has been the founder-editor of multiple publications, like the Sunday Observer, Independent and the Delhi-edition of the Pioneer, apart from Outlook.

Vinod Mehta. Image courtesy: HarperCollinsVinod Mehta. Image courtesy: HarperCollins

Vinod Mehta. Image courtesy: HarperCollins

Mehta was editor-in-chief of Outlook India until February 2012 after which he served as an advisor to the magazine. His autobiography, Lucknow Boy, was widely acclaimed.

Mehta, who was Editorial Chairman of ‘Outlook’ magazine
which he had founded, had been ailing for several months and was hospitalised at AIIMS.

He was suffering from severe lung infection and was on life support. He died of multiple organ failure, AIIMS spokesperson Amit Gupta said.

Mehta recently published another book ‘Editor Unplugged’ but could not attend its launch in December last because of his illness.

Mehta was a dog lover and had adopted a street dog whom he had named ‘Editor. The dog often figured in his columns in
‘Outlook’ magazine.

Mehta was three years old when he migrated to India along
with his family after partition. The family settled down in
Lucknow where he did his schooling and got BA degree.

Leaving home with a BA third class degree, he experimented with a string of jobs, including that of a factory hand in suburban Britain, before accepting an offer to edit Debonair in 1974, a men’s magazine.

Years later, he shifted to Delhi where he launched the Delhi-edition of ‘The Pioneer’ newsapaper. He was married to Sumita Paul, a journalist who worked for the Pioneer and the ‘Sunday Times of India’. The couple do not have any children.

According to his own account in his book ‘Lucknow Boy’, Mehta has a daughter from an old affair from this younger days.
He said nobody, other than his wife, knew about his daughter until he wrote about it in his memoir. He said he spoke to his wife and she encouraged him to write about it.

The response on Twitter to his passing away was spontaneous with many from the journalistic community and outside it, paying their respects to him:

Union Minister Piyush Goyal promises Rs 3 lakh crore for power infrastructure

An amount of Rs 3 lakh crore would be invested in building infrastructure for transmission and distribution of power in the country, Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal said on Saturday.This would facilitate a 24×7 power supply, the minister said, adding the revenue to be generated from the auction of coal blocks would be spent on the development of coal-bearing areas.Focusing on the NDA government’s commitment to provide 24×7 power supply to people, Minister of State for Power (Independent Charge) Goyal said the eastern states would get lakhs of crores of rupees through auction of coal blocks.”Eastern states like Odisha, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh will get lakhs of crores of rupees by the auction of coal blocks,” he said in an address through video-conferencing from New Delhi. Goyal was speaking on “Power for All: Realising the Goal of 24×7 Power Supply”. Goyal said that the Centre had set a target to double coal production by 2019, thereby doubling power generation.He said the states could benefit from coal blocks auction in other ways too like progress in industrialisation, high revenue generation and business environment and others. This apart, Goyal said, the auction of coal blocks would ensure transparency in the deal.”The end-users like power producers, steel makers and others will also get their required raw material in an honest way,” Goyal said.

Horse trading fears rife in UP legislative council polls

With ruling Samajwadi Party and opposition BSP declaring an additional candidate each, there are apprehensions of horse trading during the upcoming election for 12 Uttar Pradesh legislative council seats.The state Assembly has 403 members and first preference votes of 31 MLAs would be needed to ensure victory of one candidate for the Upper House. SP, with 230 MLAs, is expected to have a smooth sailing in seven seats. With 13 surplus votes with it, SP is contesting an additional seat, apparently expecting cross-voting to make up for the remaining votes. BSP has 80 MLAs and it will easily manage to win two seats. But with just 18 votes more, it would require support from 13 MLAs from outside to ensure victory of its third candidate.BJP, on the other hand, has 41 MLAs and can ensure victory of only one candidate, leaving a surplus of 10 votes. Congress with 28 MLAs will have to arrange for three more votes to ensure that its candidate makes it to the Upper House. Smaller parties like RLD with 8 MLAs, Peace Party (4 MLAs), Quami Ekta Dal (2), and NCP, Etehad-e-Millat Council and Trinmool Congress (with one MLA each) besides six Independents will play a crucial role in deciding the fate of the twelfth candidate in case of voting.SP has declared names of Ramesh Yadav, Ahmad Hasan, Ramjatan Rajbhar, Sahab Singh Saini, Ashok Bajpai, Virendra Singh Gurjar, Sarojini Agarwal and Ashu Malik. BSP has fielded Naseemuddin Siddiqui, Dharmveer Ashok and Pradeep. Congress and BJP are yet to declare the names of their candidates.Filing of nomination begins on Tuesday for the polling on January 23. The final picture will emerge on Jaunary 16, the last date of withdrawal. Among the 12 retiring members whose term will come to an end on January 30, seven are from BSP, three from SP and two from BJP. BSP has 59 members in the 100-strong UP Legislative Council, while SP has 21. BJP has seven, Congress two and RLD one member in the Upper House. While two seats are vacant, nine MLCs represent the apolitical teachers’ quota and four belong to the Independent group.Meanwhile, BSP leader Swami Prasad Maurya expressed confidence that the third BSP candidate will also sail through. “The third candidate has assured the party that he is in touch with the Independents and other parties who have not fielded their candidates,” Maurya said. “He has assured the party that he would get through if the party president gives him ticket,” he added.SP too is confident of getting all its candidate elected to the upper house. “There will be no horse trading during the polls from SP side. We have enough strength and support. You will come to know about it soon,” SP leader C P Rai said

Centre increases basic excise duty of petrol, diesel by Rs 2

The Centre on Thursday increased the basic excise duty on petrol and diesel by Rs 2 per litre. The increased rates of basic excise duty will be effective from January 1 midnight. However, the retail price of both petrol and diesel will remain unchanged. Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan took to twitter to share the news. “Govt. has decided to increase basic excise duty on petrol and diesel by Rs 2/litre for infrastructure development, esp building15000 km of road,” he wrote. “However,retail price of Petrol & Diesel will remain unchanged allover India despite additional excise duty of Rs 2/litre from midnight today,” he added. The Centre is also reportedly of the view that the allocation of these resources to the road sector will also spur economic activity and employment generation arising from the road construction sector. There will be no change in other excise duty rates applicable to these commodities.