Yuva Sai Sagar

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Month: December 2014

Meet the railway minister who is pursuing two PhDs

In his hectic 9 am to 9 pm schedule, railway minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu would be getting hardly any time to pursue his two PhDs — one on climate change from the Freie Universitat Berlin and another in economics from Mumbai University. Ever since he was made a minister in the Narendra Modi cabinet in November, the multi-faceted Prabhu has had a single-minded focus – the Indian Railways.But, those working closely with him say it is the technocrat in him that surfaces more than the politician. Prabhu undermines neither of his two facets. “Working with people comes naturally to me,” is all he says when asked if there is ever a conflict between the politician and technocrat.His bio data describes his profession as chartered accountant, farmer, social worker and educationist, but often described as a one-man think tank, Prabhu has dealt in 150 issues. It was his thirst for kowledge that led him to get registered for a PhD on energy and environment, issues related to climate change, from a German University, and on State Public Finance from Mumbai University, before he joined the Modi government.Between the lines of the Mumbai-born 61-year-old wizard’s long curriculum vitae is the unsaid — his untainted image.An official in his ministry points out that one of the first steps he took after taking over was to make sure that tenders will not be dealt with at the level of the railway minister, sending a clear message that he wanted to ensure transparency. Earlier, tenders up to Rs 150 crore were being handled by the zonal railways and anything above came to the minister, but now the powers will be delegates to the operating levels. Within four days of taking over, Prabhu appointed a committee under chairmanship of fomer Delhi metro chief E Sreedharan to suggest a proper system and procedures to ensure accountability and transparency at the level of general managers and other functionaries for taking all commercial decisions including that of tendering.Sources say Prabhu insisted on identifying “bench marks” as against talking in abstracts. With customer satisfaction in mind, the minister is of the view that the ministry needs to study world standards to develop the bench marks. But, all this requires resources for which various options are being examined. Prabhu is planning to come out with a five-year policy, sources said.”Customer safety is a priority,” says Prabhu, who has always propagates “innovative thinking”An official recalls how he gave a new perspective to a ministry’s proposal to select ten railway stations into world class stations. The minister asked “why choose ten?”, the official said. Prabhu suggestedthat the ministry should say it wanted to develop all 8,000 stations in the country and leave it to the developer to select of them.The ministry is also studying the economic feasibility of bullet trains, one of prime minister Narendra Modi’s pet projects. While it has already identified the Ahmedabad-Mumbai route to begin with, it isexploring other routes including Mumbai-Chennai. The task before Prabhu is gigantic and public expectations are high.Ever since the chartered accountant joined politics in 1996, life has taken several twists and turns from being a four-time Lok Sabha member from Maharashtra’s Rajapur constituency representing the Shiv Sena to a Rajya Sabha member from Haryana representing the BJP and from four portfolios in the Vajpayee government to being railway minister again in a NDA government.

Government begins net policing, orders blocking of 32 websites

Tipped by ATS about “anti-India content from ISIS. Many question why some open source-based collaborative software development sites have been blocked

After the Bangalore case of Mehdi Masroor Biswas, the alleged handler of the pro-Islamic State (IS) Twitter account, the government seems to be tightening noose around all suspicious internet websites based on intelligence from security agencies in the country. The latest to come under its scanner are 32 websites, which have been ordered by the department of information technology to be blocked under Section 69A of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000 and the IT (Procedure and safeguards for blocking of access of information by public) Rules, 2009.Arvind Gupta, the head of Bharatiya Janata Party’s national IT cell, tweeted that these sites on the Net, including vimeo, github, sourceforge and others, have been found carrying “objectionable content” and so directed to be blocked by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on security grounds. “The websites that have been blocked were based on an advisory by Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), and were carrying anti-India content from ISIS (Islamic States of Iraq and Syria). The sites that have been removed objectionable content and/or cooperated with the ongoing investigations are being unblocked,” BJP party’s IT cell head tweeted.An IT department’s note sent out to the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) orders them to “immediately block the access” to all 32 URLs. Its dictate is reminiscence of the previous government’s similar move where it blocked over 200 websites in a day last year. It led to massive outcry against “censorship of the Internet” and resulted in the UPA government backtracking on it. Though, after the Bangalore incident, the sentiment on the Net governance is different today. Som Mittal, former president of IT lobby body National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), believes Internet needs to be governed to a certain extend if it is being used for “unintended purposes”. “You saw what happened recently on the Twitter (referring to Bangalore case). Internet is a powerful (internet) tool and can be misused to spread sentiments that could be harmful for impressionable users. We should censor only when the freedom (on the Net) is misused (for such purposes). The government should then step in,” he said. However, he feels that what happened in China during the Hong Kong protest was “clearly censorship”. “What we are advocating is self-governance of the Net,” said the former Nasscom chief. G Krishna, a senior IT professional based in Bangalore, is also of the view that government has all the right to block websites. “In fact, countries like US, Germany and Japan have clear Internet censorship guidelines. India is much better than China where thousands of websites are blocked including most popular ones like Facebook, Youtube, etc,” he said.In the current context of blocking 32 websites, however, he said it was not clear why websites like github or sourceforge, which are sites meant for open source based collaborative software development, have been blocked. “Instead of blocking a website, can the government enforce strict checks and balances to these website or content providers so that only specific accounts can be blocked?” asked Krishna.

Offer of unconditional support to PDP remains unchanged: National Conference

The National Conference on Wednesday said its offer of unconditional support to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for government formation in Jammu and Kashmir remained unchanged but maintained that so far no one from the regional party or Congress has contacted it for an alliance.”As stated by our working president Omar Abdullah, our offer of unconditional support to the PDP, which has emerged as the single largest party in the state stands and this remains unchanged. There has been absolutely no change in this,” NC spokesman Junaid Azim Mattu said in Srinagar.He said the party had offered its support to the PDP for the benefit of the state and so that the party would not have to “compromise” on its “apparent regional agenda”.”As far as the premise of the support to PDP is concerned, it is based on the fact that PDP has emerged as the single largest party and we want to extend an opportunity to PDP to not have to compromise on its apparent regional agenda,” Mattu said.Asked about the idea of a “grand alliance” floated by Congress General Secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad, the NC spokesman said no party had approached them for any alliance.”The grand alliance seems to be a media creation. Nobody from the PDP or Congress has mooted the point (to us),” he said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, UN chief Ban Ki-moon, heads of state to attend Vibrant Gujarat Summit

US Secretary of State John Kerry, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, prime ministers, ministers and envoys of several nations would attend Vibrant Gujarat Summit, beginning from January 11 in Gandhinagar, the Gujarat government officially announced in Ahmedabad on Wednesday. At least 12 union ministers including Finance Minister Arun Jaitley would also participate in the event.According to a list released by the Gujarat state government today, Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay and Macedonia Prime Minister Nikola Grueveski would attend the event. Prominent countries scheduled to participate in the ‘Country Seminars’ include United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, Singapore, Netherlands, Sweden, Canada, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Bahrain and Afghanistan.Others who have given their consent include Australian Minister of Investment and Trade Martin Hamilton Smith, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop, Canadian Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chris Alexander, Canadian Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women Kellie Leitch. Other prominent international figures include Denmark’s Minister for Trade & Development Mogens Jensen, Israel’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Yair Shamir, Minister (Economic) Japan Akio Isomata, Minister in Singapore government S Iswaran and UK Minister of Trade and Development Lord Livingston, among others.The Gujarat government also announced that almost 12 union ministers would represent India during the summit and take part in seminars including Union Minister of Defence Manohar Parrikar, Union Minister of Agriculture and Food Processing Harsimrat Kaur Badal, as well as Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs Arun Jaitley.Union Minister of State for Power Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of Urban Development M Venkaiah Naidu, Union Minister for Health JP Nadda, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers Ananth Kumar as well as Union Minister for Medium Small and Micro Enterprises Kalraj Mishra, among others, are set to attend the event.

Asaram leaves for Delhi for medical check-up

Read the article:  Asaram leaves for Delhi for medical check-up

Dissident group in AAP snipes at party leadership

A dissident group of AAP on Wednesday sniped at the party by raising certain issues highlighted by AAP leader Anand Kumar in a post on a social networking site which he had deleted after the debate on it went “haywire”.Kumar, a national executive member of the party who had unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha polls, admitted to have raised certain issues about the party’s strategy for assembly polls, some three days back but said he deleted the post as it was being “misused” by AAP Volunteers Action Manch (AVAM) and he was very much associated with the party. “I raised a few questions and the purpose of it was to start a debate on how should we fight elections and the overall electoral reforms. Yes, we at AAP are a confused lot and we are open about our weakness.”Everyone in the party…Arvind Kejriwal, Yogendra Yadav, Rajmohan Gandhi contested elections and they walked a straight line. But what happened? How are we going to counter the forces of crony capitalism and should we use Krishna neeti? How will the future generation look at us? Will they say we were fools? Or we did a right thing,” Kumar said.The JNU professor added he will again post questions on the social networking site in an appropriate way. In a release AVAM, which has been severely critical of AAP, said “Prof Anand’s post shows how AAP is caught in a moral conundrum. His post also sheds light on the rising discontent within the party cadre. AVAM in the past has raised similar concerns. “We urge the senior party leaders not to shy away from addressing issues that have for long put the party’s internal democracy in the dock,” AVAM said.

Goa gets ready to ring in New Year in style

Lakhs of tourists have descended in Goa to usher in the New Year amid prediction of rains over the next three days. The Indian Meteorological department has forecast rains and thundershowers at isolated places in the coastal state during the next three days, but this is unlikely to dampen the spirits of New Year revellers.The state has been witnessing dry weather with the minimum temperature hovering around 20 degrees Celsius over the last few days. The department has, however, not issued any warning for fishermen.Goa has been witnessing a heavy influx of tourists, who are coming to welcome 2015 amid fun, music, dance and a taste of local cuisine. Roads in Panaji and those leading to the beach belts in North Goa are witnessing major traffic jams since the last three days. Though there is reportedly a drop in foreign tourist arrivals this time around, there is no such trend among domestic travellers.”Domestic tourists have arrived in large numbers. There is no slowdown in the tourism sector,” said Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar. “The domestic tourists usually spend more time here compared to foreigners,” he added.Tourism Department has said Goa has maintained its long held reputation as a sought-after party destination during the New Year.

Homecoming of Hindus is not conversion, says Praveen Togadia

Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Wednesday said ‘ghar wapsi’ (homecoming) of Muslims and Christians to Hinduism could not be termed as conversion and claimed the practise had been prevailing for several centuries. Speaking about VHP’s ‘ghar wapsi’ agenda, International President of the organisation, Praveen Togadia said untouchability would be removed, Brahmins and Scheduled Castes would lunch together in their kitchen and share sorrow and happiness.”SC/ST will be considered as friend of Hindu parivar (family),” Togadia told reporters here. He alleged Christians had misinterpreted Article 25 of the Constitution on right to profess, practice and propagate. Togadia said the “home coming” was not started by VHP but has been an age old practice of bringing back the forced converts to Hindu stream since 900 years ago by Ramanujacharya in Ayodhya, and later by Vidyaranya Saraswati in Karnataka and Shivaji in Maharashtra.In 1921, around three lakh Muslims were brought back to Hinduism by Shraddhanand Swamiji, he said. “It is illogical and irrational to say that home coming will hamper progress, foreign exchange and development.” Togadia said building Ram temple in Ayodhya would always remain on VHP agenda.

Gujarat: ‘Terrorists’ wear skullcap in anti-terror mock drill, sparks massive row

Surat Police courted controversy when it made dummy terrorists wear skullcaps during an anti-terror mock drill.The incident came under criticism on Wednesday with the Congress mounting attack on the government claiming it an “administrative failure” and a Gujarat BJP’s minority wing leader saying “terrorism should never be linked to a particular religion”, even as police defended the action.The drill was conducted in Dobari coastal region in Olpad town of Surat to check preparedness of the force is case of a terror attack. A video of the drill shows five policemen holding three dummy terrorists who are wearing skull caps. The trio are also shown lying down, while policemen keep a watch on them. The video ends with the men posing as “terrorists” being bundled into a police jeep after being “captured” alive.Responding to the incident, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, “Unfortunately the hallmark, the identity of this government is fast becoming a government which is using symbolic gestures, images, comments to create division… It is marked by intolerance which is another reason why it’s a failure. It’s a failed administration.”BJP leader and Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, however, denied the Congress charges and said, “It’s been six months that we have come. Before that the Congress was in government for the past 10 years. There is a need to ask who has given every Muslim an identity of Al-Qaida… Congress, which had massacred Sikhs, is doing the same with the Muslims for its political gains. We do not want to get involved in this argument.” Gujarat BJP’s Minority Cell President Mehboob Ali Sufi Baba strongly objected to the portrayal of “terrorists” in this manner, though Surat Police defended their action.When contacted Surat Superintendent of Police (Rural) Pradeep Sejul said it should be taken as a “pretty normal thing”. “The incident occurred during our anti-terror mock drill conducted over the last five days. We keep changing get- ups in our mock drills. Those were our boys, who were shown wearing skull-caps. Sometimes, they wear jeans, sometimes T-shirts and sometimes this get-up also,” he told PTI.”This should not be taken as stereotyping a community or given any kind of communal colour. It should be taken as a pretty normal thing,” added Sejul. At the same time the police officer added that an inquiry will be conducted into the matter.BJP leader Baba said terrorism should never be linked to a particular religion. “In the past, no terrorist wearing skull cap attacked our country. This type of act sends a wrong message to the masses and is also harmful for the unity and integrity of our country,” Baba said.

Tourism ministry reviews schemes, directs officials to avoid delays

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Land Ordinance Bill reduced to ‘Hamlet without Prince of Denmark’, says Congress

Alleging the Centre of reducing the crucial Land Acquisition Bill to the status of a “Hamlet without the Prince”, Congress on Wednesday said that his party will oppose the ordinance on it in the upcoming Budget Session, as “ordinance cannot be the default mode of legislation”.”Emergent pressing exigencies are required for bringing an ordinance. It is not a norm. It is certainly not made to be a default mode of legislation for passing key laws. But this government has brought eight ordinances in seven months since it came to power.”Ordinance bypasses Parliament. In bypassing Parliament, you also bypass democracy,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, ruing the land acquisition bill was not a normal one and law and was brought after years of discussion and persuasion and it was “unequivocally supported” by the BJP one year ago.He alleged that by bringing the ordinance, the government by the stroke of a pen within one week after Parliament session was over, brought such changes in the land bill that “this is now virtually a Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark.””It’s only shell of the Land Acquisition that we brought replacing the old 1894 law. It has now become just like the old one and has no soul or substance,” Singhvi said.Coining an acronym of “FAIL”, the Congress spokesperson alleged that Modi government stands for anti-farmer, anti accountability, intolerance and divisive politics and anti- land acquisition. He also took potshots at the BJP for demanding that Congress President Sonia Gandhi should apologise from the nation after BJP chief Amit Shah’s discharge in Sohrabuddin fake encounter killing case, rejecting allegation that it “misused” CBI against its opponents during the UPA rule.Singhvi said that the order at the lowest rung of the judiciary is “just the beginning” in the mutli-layered judicial process and expressed confidence that the higher courts would overturn the order as “it is highly untenable”.

10 terrorists suspected to be hiding in Ghaziabad: SSP

Image for representational purpose only

At least ten terrorists, who have entered India with explosives via Nepal, are suspected to be hiding in Ghaziabad district of Uttar Pradesh, a senior police official said on Wednesday.”According to secret inputs from Intelligence Bureau, 10 terrorists who have entered India with explosives via Nepal are suspected to be hiding in the district,” Senior Superintendent of Police Dharmendra Singh Yadav said here. Following the inputs, the district police on Wednesday launched a cordon and search operation (CASO) to trace the terrorists, he said.Addressing the police officials at Sihani Gate police station, the SSP said the whole operation will be under command of City Superintendent of Police Shiv Hari Meena. Briefing about ‘CASO’, Meena said the operation will continue till January 26 in the areas falling under the limits of all police stations of the district and the operation team will comprise 5 sub inspectors and 5 constables from each police station of the district along with 20 PCR vans.On Wednesday, the team conducted search operation in Nehru Nagar and Patel Nagar colonies in the city, Meena said, adding that the Civil Defense personnel and office bearers of Residents’ Welfare Associations are also helping the team. ‘CASO’ team will launch the combing operation in densely- populated colonies in the district and verify credentials of the residents, Meena said.

Sketches of Bengaluru blast suspects drawn says police

As investigators zeroed in on some terror groups, sketches of suspects have been drawn in connection with the explosion outside a restaurant here that killed a woman and injured three others.”We have zeroed in on some (terror) groups – and have drawn sketches of some people belonging to these outfits. We are in a process of verification and confirmation – whether these sketches match the suspects who were involved in the explosion,” Additional Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Alok Kumar told PTI.The blast triggered by an Improvised Explosive Device placed in a potted plant had occurred outside the restaurant on Church Street in the city’s central business district on Sunday last claiming the life of 38-year-old Bhavani who was on a visit to city from Chennai.Asked when the sketches would be released, Bengaluru Police Commissioner M N Reddi replied, “Not today.” Earlier, Kumar said police were interacting with various agencies and other state police officials. “We are interacting with various agencies which have come here, and at the same time we are in contact with other state police forces also. We are trying to have a conclusive link,” he said.Asked if any specific request was being made by police to National Investigation Agency or other agencies, Kumar who is also heading the Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the blast said, “No we have not made any specific request. We had meeting yesterday with them (NIA).””If there is anything they can share with us or that is required, on the need basis that will be done,”” he added.

BSF competent enough to plug drugs flow: Sukhbir

See the original post:   BSF competent enough to plug drugs flow: Sukhbir

Sheila Dikshit to be Congress’s star campaigner in Delhi Assembly polls

Former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit will be a “key campaigner” of the party for the upcoming Delhi Assembly polls, Congress said on Wednesday amid indications that it will release its first list of candidates on Thursday or the day after.”Sheilaji one of the key campaigners for the party. She will play an active role in our campaign as a star campaigner,” Congress MP PC Chacko told reporters here amid reports that Dikshit had refused to campaign for the party. Sources in the party said the first list of candidates could be out as early as on Thursday and will have names of all eight sitting MLAs of the party besides a dozen, who were in the second position. Congress had also planned a mega rally in Delhi to kickstart its poll campaign, which will take place any day after January 10, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi could address an election rally.Congress will go to the polls on the plank of development and stability. While the view in Congress is that it may not be in a position to form government, it will better its tally from the previous polls. “We hit the bottom rock in the last election. We have only to improve from there,” a party functionary said expressing confidence that Aam Aadmi Party led by Arvind Kejriwal won’t be able to repeat its previous performance.Former Delhi Chief Minster Sheila Dikshit, who had lost to Kejriwal from New Delhi seat, had made it clear that she would not contest Assembly polls this time. Earlier, there was a speculation that the party may ask some of its former MPs to contest polls but sources in the party say that most of them have not evinced any keenness for it. There is speculation that the party may field relatively young former MPs.

Amit Shah case: BJP questions Sonia Gandhi’s silence on the apology

BJP on Wednesday questioned Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s silence on the apology demanded from her by the party for alleged misuse of CBI by the previous UPA government, in the wake of a special CBI court discharging its chief Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case.Accusing the Congress of “misusing” CBI for its political gains, the BJP has alleged the party “conspired to embroil” Shah in a fake case to tarnish his image for which Gandhi should apologise before the nation. “People should ask Congress’ first family as to why they misused CBI while in power. They should also condemn the Congress for misusing CBI for political gains.”BJP also questions the silence over the apology sought by BJP from Sonia Gandhi for misuse of investigative agency against its political opponents during the previous regime,” BJP’s national secretary Shrikant Sharma said.While Congress used CBI to implicate opposition leaders in false cases, he alleged, adding, it also misused the agency to save its own corrupt leaders and cited the example of Ashok Chavan.”The special court judgement proves that Congress cannot take on the BJP politically and hence has resorted to cheap tactics to sully Shah’s image,” he said.Taking a dig at “so-called secular forces and intellectuals”, Sharma said their silence over this issue reveals their “true character”. “It also proves that these so-called intellectuals and self-declared secular outfits of political parties would indulge in appeasement even on an issue like terror to further the interests of their corrupt political patron,” he said. The BJP leader said Sohrabuddin Sheikh was a noted gangster and had links with Pakistan’s ISI and other terrorist outfits and was killed in an encounter in Gujarat.Special CBI judge M B Gosavi in his order ruled, “Amit Anilchandra Shah is discharged from the case…I am of the opinion that the inference that the CBI has drawn is not accepted as the entire record when considered in totality there is no case against the applicant.” While discharging Shah, the judge observed, “I also found substance in the main contention (of the defence) that Shah was shown to be involved in this case by CBI for political reasons.”Sohrabuddin, a gangster, whom Gujarat police claimed had links with Lashkar-e-Taiba, and his wife Kausar Bi were allegedly abducted by Gujarat ATS from Hyderabad on their way to Sangli in Maharashtra. Sohrabuddin was killed in a fake encounter near Gandhinagar in November 2005 after which his wife disappeared and was believed to have been done to death.Shah, who was then Minister of State for Home in Gujarat government, was alleged to have plotted the killings with some police officers.

BJP hopes dialogue with PDP on government formation will start in a couple of days

Amid positive signals from PDP over government-formation in Jammu and Kashmir, BJP on Wednesday hoped a formal dialogue will be initiated by them within the next two days. BJP said it would be a part of the next government in the state following the public mandate in its favour and any arrangement that excludes it will be seen as negating it.A delegation of senior party leaders in Jammu and Kashmir, including state unit chief Jugal Kishore Sharma and senior leader Nirmal Singh, will meet J&K Governor N N Vohra on Thursday and discuss with him their party’s plans over government- formation. The meeting will come a day after PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti met the state Governor on Wednesday and dropped hints of her party was not averse to joining hands with BJP as she invoked A B Vajpayee and said the mandate in the state was an “opportunity” for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said “an initial contact has been established between the two parties” and her comments will help take forward formal discussions. “We appreciate Mehbooba Mufti’s gesture through the media. We await formal initiation of dialogue,” he said.He maintained that “all options are open” for BJP as its leaders have been in talks with lower-rung PDP leaders for government-formation after the polls produced a fractured verdict with PDP emerging as the single largest party with 28 seats in the 87-member Assembly closely followed by BJP with 25 seats. Sources said besides formal talks with PDP, informal talks with Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and Mehbooba Mufti have also taken place over telephone.Party sources add the BJP leadership has also been in talks with leaders of National Conference, including outgoing Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. BJP sources said Mehbooba’s remarks will help take the state forward on the path of development by providing a stable government to the state. They said BJP expected the talks with PDP to begin in a couple of days.Madhav said “any arrangement that excludes BJP will be seen as negating the mandate given by the people of Jammu and Kashmir.” Viewing Mehbooba’s talk today as a “positive gesture”, he said it will take some more time for BJP to hold formal talks for government-formation. Asked about the issue of rotational Chief Minister with PDP, he said “it is premature” as talks have not reached that far.On other contentious issues that are expected to crop up between BJP and PDP, he said “to find an amicable arrangement is not impossible. What will be the structure and shape, we will have to wait and see.” Sources said BJP is hopeful of a “positive outcome” after Wednesday’s initiative by PDP but leaders said the party has its own expectations and roadmap for the state that will be discussed with parties before aligning with them for government formation.After meeting the Governor, Mehbooba told reporters that whatever formation is firmed up, it should respect the mandate of the people and have the principle of “reconciliation”, adding that “till that is not taken along, forming any government will be useless”. Mehbooba said the mandate was a “challenge and opportunity” for national leadership, be it NDA or Congress.”For NDA government, it is a big responsibility. For Modi, it is a big responsibility. Jammu and Kashmir has been the biggest challenge for any PM right from Nehru till date,” Mehbooba told reporters in apparent signals to BJP that the two can discuss contentious issues that come in the way of the two parties coming together. Referring to Modi’s “dream” of development and addressing the problem of unemployment, the PDP leader said there cannot be “development till there is peace on the ground”.

Governmnet blocks 32 websites for allegedly carrying anti-India content from ISIS

Government has blocked 32 websites citing national security concerns, as they were allegedly carrying anti-India material from terror groups such as ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). “We have blocked some websites, as there were serious national security concerns,” a government official.The websites that have faced the crackdown include popular video sharing platforms like DailyMotion and Vimeo, while some of them have been allowed to function after removing the objectionable content. The website were purportedly containing material about Areeb Majid, an alleged ISIS member who was arrested by NIA, and three others hailing from North Karnataka’s Bhatkal area. Sources said the websites were being used to induce Indian youth to join ISIS and for spreading news about purported death of certain persons while fighting Allied Forces in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq.Another senior official said the crackdown followed an order from Mumbai Court, which was approached by Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) with a plea to block some websites carrying anti-India content. During its probe into certain terror cases, the ATS had received information that some websites were carrying anti-national content, the official added. Meanwhile, BJP’s IT Cell National Head Arvind Gupta also said the websites have been blocked on the advice of ATS as they were carrying material from the ISIS.”The websites that have been blocked were based on an advisory by Anti Terrorism Squad, and were carrying anti-India content from ISIS,” Gupta said in a tweet. He further said: “The sites that have removed objectionable content and/or cooperated with the ongoing investigations are being unblocked.” A list of 32 websites, purported to be a Department of Telecom (DoT) circular, also went viral on the micro-blogging site Twitter on Wednesday. While there was no official word from the ministry, sources within the department confirmed existence of such a circular.

Police arrest 32 Maoist sympathisers in Chhattisgarh

In a major crackdown, police in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district, have arrested at least 32 Maoist sympathisers. Most of the accused had several cases pending against them. Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) of Bijapur Indira Kalyan Elesela, said some of them faced serious charges like murder etc. “A special operation has been launched in Bijapur district to arrest Maoists holding permanent warranty. Under this operation, 32 Maoists have been arrested under the charges of murder, attempt to murder, inciting violence etc.,” said Elesela.

Three new cases of swine flu found in New Delhi

Three new cases of swine flu were reported in the national capital on Wednesday, with this the total number of people affected by the virus in the city this year has risen to 28.”Those affected include two women aged 46 and 52, residents of New Delhi and Paschim Puri localities and a 30-year-old man from Krishna Nagar,” Additional Director (Public Health) at Delhi Health Department, Charan Singh said.He said that the 46-year-old woman was undergoing treatment at Pushpanjali hospital while the other two were under home care. On Tuesday, three persons, including a mother-son duo, had tested positive for swine flu. According to the health department, the total number of swine flu cases in December has now risen to 12.The Union Health Minister J P Nadda on Wednesday reviewed the situation arising out of reports of swine flue in the country. “The Health Minister said that there is no cause to panic. Advisories have been issued to states of Delhi and Uttar Pradesh for close monitoring of the situation and the state governments have been asked to take prompt action for correct and effective diagnosis and treatment. They have been advised to have sufficient stocks of medicines and consumables. The IDSP network had been advised to promptly report cases to central govt. The situation is being closely monitored,” said a senior Health Ministry official.

After controversy, government to woo minorities with ‘Mission Empowerment’

After a raging controversy over conversions and reconversions issues, the government is set on a mission to woo the minorities across the country where implementation of central schemes relating to them would be reviewed at the ground level.The scheme – “Mission Empowerment”, will see Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi visiting Kochi in Kerala on January 3 to have a ground-level assessment on implementation of schemes for the minorities. Under the mission, the government aims to ensure social, educational and economic empowerment of minorities across the country as also to help infuse confidence among them (minorities) after pro-Hindutva outfits have been talking loud on reconversions.Naqvi, however, termed the mission as one without any political agenda and only aimed at further empowering the minorities, who are a sizeable number in the country. “There is no political agenda under the mission. We believe in ‘Sabka saath, Sabka Vikas’ and we will ensure minorities’ schemes reach the beneficiaries,” Naqvi said. The Minister is slated to visit various states before the Budget Session of Parliament in a bid to see at the ground level the implementation and difficulties in the schemes for minorities.The government, sources said, have identified 100 districts across the country for a review of such schemes and discussions with various state governments have already taken place with the Centre. “There have been positive discussions with various states, including Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telanagana, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, besides North Eastern states and states have given a positive response on implementation of the schemes,” Naqvi said.He said after Kerala, he will visit Telangana and thereafter other states before the Budget Session. Naqvi said it is a “challenge” for the NDA regime to ensure that schemes for minorities are implemented properly and the benefits reach the real beneficiaries for whom the schemes have been enumerated. “It is a challenge for this government to see proper implementation of schemes for minorities. Many schemes have been announced by previous governments but their implementation has been poor. And, the condition of minorities in many states is far from satisfactory,” the minister said.”This is the first time ever that any minister is visiting ground zero to assess ground realities with the cooperation of states for schemes pertaining to minorities,” a ministry official said. Sources said government feels that the pro-Hindutva remarks made by certain BJP and RSS leaders have infused a sense of “insecurity” among minorities even as reconversions across the country are continuing.

IIT Delhi director R Shevgaonkar breaks silence on sudden resignation

IIT Director R Shevgaonkar, whose resignation last week had triggered a controversy, on Wednesday attributed his decision to quit to some “unforeseen situations”.”Towards the end of the year, however, some unforeseen situations developed and I had to decide to step down from my position. Nevertheless, this is a small transient in the long illustrious history of IIT Delhi. “IIT Delhi is on constant rising path and I am sure the New Year will bring many unprecedented achievements to the institute,” Shevgaonkar said in his farewell mail sent to the faculty, staff and students.The Director, however, did not elaborate on the unforeseen events that had led him to resign from his post on Friday last, two years before his terms ends. The resignation has not been accepted till now. A statement issued by IIT-D on Monday cited “personal reasons” for the resignation.In his mail, Shevgaonkar went on to say that there is also a need to create a positive image about the internal functioning of the institute to the outside world. “Disagreement is an essential part of a healthy academic environment. However, a care needs to be taken that the internal differences are not exploited by the outsiders to affect our functioning. Let us work to make IITD a model institute for transparency, trust, accountability and academic and research excellence,” he said.Shevgaonkar noted this was his last new year message as the Director of IIT Delhi as he had “formally resigned” and was awaiting his relieving orders.

Banglore blast: Investigators zero in on terror groups, sketches of suspects drawn

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DMK President M Karunanidhi condoles death of Bengaluru blast victim

DMK president M Karunanidhi on Wednesday expressed grief over the death of Bhavani Devi, who died in a bomb blast at Bengaluru on Sunday. Karunanidhi extended his condolences to Bhavani Devi’s father Anbusamy, husband, and children, a party release said.Party treasurer M K Stalin and other functionaries visited the deceased’s house and offered floral tributes to her portrait, it said. Anbusamy was a DMK worker, it claimed.Devi died due to shrapnel injuries in the bomb blast at Bengaluru, where she had gone with children to visit her relatives. Two others were injured in the incident.

Swachh Bharat Mission: India to track toilet use with tablets

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is launching a nationwide online programme to check whether people are using toilets as part of his cleanliness drive. From next month, officials will head out with mobile phones, tablets and iPads to report on whether toilets are being used in rural India, with results uploaded onto a website in real time. India’s shortage of toilets costs the country more than $50 billion a year, mostly through premature deaths and hygiene-related diseases, according to a World Bank study. India suffers a greater cost than other Asian countries from the poor collection of human excreta, the study found. About 626 million Indians defecate in the open compared with 14 million in China, the World Health Organization said in a 2012 report. Since taking office in May, Modi has repeatedly lamented the poor state of sanitation and public cleanliness in India, vowing to solve the problems within the next five years. The government has doubled spending on a toilet building programme and requested financial donations from some of the country’s largest companies to help. “Earlier, the monitoring was done only about the construction of toilets, but now the actual use of toilets will be ascertained,” the government said in a statement on Wednesday. In October, Modi annoyed government officials by ordering them to come to work to clean toilets on a national holiday.

Would like everyone to watch ‘PK’, says UP CM Akhilesh Yadav

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Wednesday said that he had made the Aamir Khan starrer ‘PK’ tax-free as he wanted more and more people to see the movie. “How many of you have watched this film? If not, I would want you all to watch it. I watched this ‘PK’ film yesterday only and decided to make it tax free as I want more and more people to watch it,” said Yadav. He added that the film’s message must reach everyone’s heart and mind. “The message in this film should reach everyone’s heart and mind. The film has been declared tax-free for those who are spoiling the atmosphere, if they see it once they will praise the film,” he added. Hailing the government’s decision, Samajwadi Party leader Gaurav Bhatia said ‘PK’ had been declared tax free because the movie has a very good message for people of all religions. “It has a message, some ‘dhongi babas’ exploit religious beliefs of people, this should not be done, the government has rightly declared it tax free. There is a very good message in ‘PK’ movie for persons of all religions and it has been declared tax free for this very purpose,” said Bhatia. Earlier today, the Uttar Pradesh Government had made ‘ PK’ entertainment tax-free in the state. Meanwhile, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has denied reports that the state government had ordered the police to probe the film following protests by some right wing organisations. Fadnavis reportedly said there was no question of not screening the film after it had been cleared by the Censor Board. The blockbuster film has been under attack from several right-wing organisations who have vandalized several film theatres across the country for screening the film, claiming the film insults Hindu gods and goddesses.

Dedicate 2015 to creation of an inclusive society: President Pranab

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Indian Science Congress: Vedic myth must not be masqueraded as science, says Nasa scientist

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Pak’s ceasefire violation: 4 Pakistani rangers killed in retaliatory BSF firing after one jawan dies

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Woman IAS officer to head DGCA for the first time

See original –  Woman IAS officer to head DGCA for the first time

Live TV coverage of anti-terror operations may be banned

Live coverage of anti-terror operations by television channels is likely to be banned soon as the Home Ministry has asked the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to amend the rules to stop such telecast.Citing the unpleasant experience during 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks when news channels broadcast NSG operations live, the Home Ministry told the I&B Ministry to amend the Programme Code under the Cable Television Network Rules so that no terror-related operation is telecast live in future. In its letter, the Home Ministry said such live coverage not only affects the secrecy and effectiveness of the operation but also puts the safety of security forces, common people and journalists in jeopardy, official sources said.However, the I&B Ministry is yet to respond to the Home Ministry’s request sent about a month ago. After the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, the National Broadcaster Association put out a set of rules, including restriction on live reporting of terror situations, as part of a self-regulation exercise on the part of private broadcasters. However, so far there is no official ban on live coverage of anti-terror operations.The Home Ministry is asking for more changes to the 15-point Programme Code prescribed under the Cable Television Network Rules, 1994 for this purpose. The rules were amended in 2009 when private broadcasters were brought within the ambit of the Cable Television Networks Rules. During the Mumbai terror attacks, television channels had broadcast live images, including the moves by security forces, para-dropping of commandos, which led the authorities to intervene and stop it.

Hyderabad Police launch mobile app ‘Hawk Eye’ to empower members of public

As part of its initiative to become a citizen-friendly and responsive force, Hyderabad Police on Wednesday launched a mobile phone application to empower members of the public, improve their security and reach out to them at the time of distress.The app, `Hawk Eye’, seeks to turn common people into Citizen Police and involve them into checking crimes, curbing unlawful activities and traffic violations. Launching `Hawk Eye’, Police Commissioner M Mahender Reddy said this app has features on women safety while on travel and a SOS button for accessing help in emergency situations, among others. Citizen Police can also report traffic violations, information on criminal activities, contravention of law on part of personnel in uniform, suggestions for improving policing and also good work done by the force, Reddy said.He said a major area of concern is women’s safety during travel, especially for those who are employed. In this regard the app has `women travel made safe’ feature. “This feature helps in ensuring women’s safety while travelling. Whenever a woman boards any type of conveyance, she just has to click photograph or record video of the vehicle, note down its number and send online to police, who will take necessary steps if any problem arises,” Reddy said.The SOS feature is useful for accessing the police for help in emergencies, the city police chief said. On the occasion, Reddy explained several other useful features which are part of the mobile application.

Bihar hails Centre’s move on subsidised LPG connection for BPL

The Bihar government on Wednesday hailed the Centre’s decision to provide LPG connection to BPL families at subsidised rate of Rs 800, even as it demanded to increase the number of cooking gas outlets in the state.Pradhan had on Wednesday announced in Patna that BPL families will be get LPG connection for Rs 800 as against market rate of Rs 2,400 and said the Centre had taken a decision in this regard on December 25.”We welcome Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan’s announcement to provide LPG connection to the BPL families at subsidised rate of Rs 800,” Food and Consumer Protection Minister Shyam Rajak said.The decision to provide LPG connection to the BPL families at subsidised rate is in conformity with the state government’s demand, he said, adding the poor families will take benefit from the scheme.Rajak also proposed to the Petroleum Ministry to increase LPG outlets in Bihar in view of ever growing number of consumers. There were only 843 LPG distributors of all three nationalised companies – IOC, BP and HP – put together to cater to 58 lakh consumers.The Petroleum Minister should look into the matter of increasing the number of cooking gas outlets in Bihar for the benefit of consumers who have to wait for up to three weeks for delivery of LPG cylinders or fetch one from godowns located in far off places, he said.Raising the number of LPG distributors in Bihar will help the state government address law and order problems arising frequently with consumers taking to streets to agitate against delay in supply of gas cylinders, Rajak said.

Congress slams Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis for ‘lack of control’ over ministers

Hitting out at Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for “lack of control” over his council of ministers as well as “lack of coordination” between them, Congress on Wednesday said the ministers were commenting on various issues just for the sake of publicity.Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president Manikrao Thakre’s criticism came after Fadnavis on Wednesday ruled out any probe into Aamir Khan-starrer ‘PK’, a day after Minister of State for Home Ram Shinde ordered an inquiry into the film’s “content” amidst raging protests, and promised adequate protection for its smooth screening.”Earlier too, Shinde had declared that furlough to actor Sanjay Dutt would be probed, but soon Fadnavis clarified that Dutt, who is serving a jail term for illegally possessing arms, has obtained furlough as per rules,” Thakre said.”All such comments were being made just for publicity and the chief minister has no control over his council of ministers,” Thakre alleged.”The government has nothing to offer to farmers and common man,” he said. Amid protests by right wing groups demanding a ban on the Aamir Khan-starrer movie ‘PK’, Shinde had told PTI on Tuesday that he had asked senior police officer Deven Bharti, IG (Law & Order), to look into objectionable scenes, if any, in the film and has promised “necessary” action if any “wrong” is found.”The Censor Board may have found the film fit to be released and hence they cleared it from their end. But after the release, some organisations have objected to some part of the film. Protests have been going on and information from social media suggests that protests against the film may intensify in the days ahead,” Shinde had said.However, talking to reporters on Wednesday, Fadnavis said, “There will be no inquiry. Shows of ‘PK’ will continue all over Maharashtra and we will provide necessary protection to ensure smooth screening of the film.”MPCC spokesman Sachin Sawant said the issue of lack of control by Fadnavis was not just over the issue of film.”Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar announced a white paper on state finances soon after taking over and later the government decided to keep mum. Mungantiwar also announced prohibition in his home district of Chandrapur. Similarly, the government has gone back on its word of making the state free of toll and LBT,” Sawant said.

Indian Oil Corporation website hacked, now restored

On Wednesday website of PSU Indian Oil corporation was hacked by alleged Turkish hackers. No hackers have formally taken the responsibility of that cyber attack, though twitter handle of the hackers can be seen in the screenshot.This is not the first incident when websites of Indian government or associated organisations were hacked. In early 2014, over 2000 Indian websites fell pray to cyber attack by Pakistani hackers. Same wave of attacks came in November when 22 Indian government websites including organisations of states like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Odisha. Also read – Pakistani hackers hack Cochin Port websiteIt may be a retaliation to the Department of Telecom order of blocking 32 Websites including video platforms like Dailymotion and Vimeo as they were carrying Anti-India messages.Related read – 32 websites, including Pastebin, Dailymotion, Vimeo reportedly blocked after DoT orderIOC website has now been restored.

Parents of December 16 Delhi gang rape victim meet PM Narendra Modi

Accused in Delhi gang-rape

The parents of the December 16 Delhi gangrape victim met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday. The Prime Minister condoled their loss and assured the parents that the Union Government would do its utmost for the safety and security of women.The Prime Minister also appreciated the efforts of the girl’s mother, who now runs the Nirbhaya Jyoti Trust, for the security and welfare of women, a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said.Two years ago, the 23-year-old paramedical student and her male friend were attacked by six men on December 16, 2012 after they got on a private bus while going home from the cinema. Her friend was battered with an iron rod, which was later used to torture her. The couple was then thrown from the bus. The woman succumbed to her injuries 13 days later at a Singapore hospital.Last September, four of her attackers were convicted after the case was fast-tracked, while a juvenile was sentenced to three years in a detention centre. Ram Singh, who is the sixth accused in this case, was found dead in jail in March last year.

Government asks BSF to give a befitting reply to Pakistan firing

The Government on Wednesday ordered the BSF to give a befitting reply to any unprovoked firing from Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir after a jawan was killed by the border guarding force of the neighbouring country. This was conveyed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh to Director General, Border Security Force D K Pathak when the latter briefed him about the prevailing situation in Jammu frontier where Pakistani Rangers today fired on a BSF patrol party along the international border killing a jawan and injuring another.”The Home Minister asked the DG, BSF to provide a suitable and appropriate reply for any such unprovoked firing,” an official statement said. The DG BSF gave a detailed presentation to the Home Minister about the ceasefire violations by Pakistan Rangers in the Samba sector of Jammu and Kashmir. Pathak informed that one BSF jawan was killed in the unprovoked and premeditated Pakistani firing and the BSF retaliated effectively, in which three Pakistani Rangers were reportedly killed and some others injured.He informed that firing stopped in the evening at the request of Pakistani Rangers for ceasefire by showing the white flag. He said the firing has stopped since then and the situation is totally under control. Pakistani troops had on Sunday violated the ceasefire twice along the border in Arnia forward belt of Jammu and Hiranagar belt of Kathua district. On December 25, Pakistani Rangers indulged in unprovoked small arms firing in forward areas in Pansar border out post (BoP) belt of Hiranagar sub-sector in Kathua district.On December 24, Pakistani troops had fired mortar shells and small arms targeting the same areas. Over 550 incidents of ceasefire violations by Pakistan took place this year, the highest since the truce came into force in 2003, with the Indo-Pak border witnessing the worst such escalation during August-October period which left 13 people dead and thousands displaced.After the ceasefire violation by Pakistan in October, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said Pakistan has been taught a “befitting lesson” with the Army “shutting their mouth”. “Pakistan has got a befitting lesson. They will not dare to repeat it again. Our jawans have shut their mouth,” he had said.

Jharkhand CM Raghuvar Das asks officials to be ‘Karamyogis’

Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghuvar Das on Wednesday said he did not believe in shuffling and reshuffling of administrative officials while calling upon the bureaucrats to become “Karamyogi” as the state has to find solutions to many problems. “Transfer-Posting industry” would not function in Jharkhand and post of officials depend on their merit and work, Das was quoted in a press release. The CM called upon the officials and employees to become “Karamyogi (one who considers work as religion)”. Das pointed out that the state faced several “problems” and the time has come to find solutions to them.”Vigilance Bureau and Lokayukt to be further empowered and strengthened for setting up a clean administration,” Das said, adding it was necessary to lay a strong foundation for development of the state.”With cooperation of everyone, the government will prepare a blueprint for development (as) government has only one slogan – saab ka saath saab ka vikash (progress with everyone and of everyone),” the release said. He said the government was making efforts to speed up work following lesser expenditure in the 2014/15 budget.The government has a challenge to strengthen its internal resources in the next three months, he said, adding the government would make all efforts to reach its revenue collection target. Das said the government has already initiated steps into the promises made before the electioneering and marked drinking water supply as government’s responsibility.

Jaipur: Letter threatening terror strikes found in temple; police step up security measures

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An unattended letter threatening to carry out terror strikes was on Wednesday found at the premises of the famous Khatushayamji temple in Sikar district in the state prompting the police to strengthen security arrangements, police said.The handwritten letter was picked by a man who informed the temple authorities and the police about it. “There is no mention of any specific target in the handwritten letter which is a photocopy and not the original.Prima facie, it appears a prank but security arrangements have been strengthen and CCTV footage is being examined to identified the person who dropped the letter there,” SP Sikar Dr Ravi said.This is third such threat in recent days in the state. An unemployed man had allegedly sent threatening emails to 16 ministers of the state on December 22. He was arrested last week.A student preparing for medical entrance examination was also held yesterday for allegedly posting threatening messages on a social media (WhatsApp) site.

Nation should celebrate pluralism, promote tolerance, says President Pranab Mukherjee

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Urging people to dedicate themselves to formation of an inclusive society in the new year, President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday said the nation should celebrate pluralism and promote tolerance and understanding among all communities.In his New Year message, he also asked the people to maintain maximum vigilance against efforts to disturb peace and security in the country.Against the backdrop of events like violence in Assam, blast in Bengaluru and Hindutva outfits’ campaign on conversions, the President asked the people to abhor violence and promote tolerance and understanding among all communities.”I extend warm greetings and best wishes to all fellow citizens for a happy and prosperous New Year. Let 2015 be a year of peace, progress and harmony,” he said.”Let us abhor violence and maintain maximum vigilance against all efforts, from within or without, to disturb peace and security.”Let us celebrate pluralism and promote tolerance and understanding amongst all communities. Let the New Year be dedicated to the creation of an inclusive society where goodwill and brotherhood prevails among people,” he said.Lauding the number of “new beginnings” and important initiatives launched in 2014, he said We must take these initiatives to fruition. The President said development must reach the poor and the underprivileged across the country. Governance, at all levels, must become efficient, transparent, accountable and citizen-friendly. In view of continuing incidents of rapes, the President said, “We must also ensure the protection of our women and greater gender sensitivity.””Let us work with heart and soul and without distraction, to take our nation to new heights of achievement,” he said in his message.

Resolve to protect children from violence in 2015: Kailash Satyarthi

In his New Year message, Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi on Wednesday called for concerted efforts to protect children from all types of exploitation. Resolving to uphold the rights of every children, Satyarthi said that he “refuses” to accept any violence against children.”In 2015, let us resolve to protect our children from all kinds of violence and uphold their rights. I wish a very happy and peaceful new year to all,” the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize laureate said in a video message.Later he tweeted, “2015 resolve. I refuse to accept any violence against our children.”The 60-year-old Satyarthi was jointly awarded the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize 2014 with Pakistani teenage education activist Malala Yousafzai on December 10.

Dedicate 2015 to the creation of an inclusive society: President Pranab

Original source:  Dedicate 2015 to the creation of an inclusive society: President Pranab

Doordarshan News to assume new avatar from New Year

Doordarshan News will come with a fresh “look and feel” and a new tagline from Thursday, seeking to become the preferred choice of viewers in the new year.On the New Year’s Day, the public broadcaster will sport a new look where colours black, white and deep red will have more prominence and a new tagline ‘Only News Complete News’, a senior DD News official said.”There had been an assessment by all of us and it was felt that format as well as the content of the channel needs to be galvanised. So after nearly five weeks of preparation, the channel is coming with a new look and feel,” DG (News) Doordarshan Akshay Raut told PTI.He said that in its new avatar, the channel will have a new montage, new music and a greater focus on graphics. Raut also added that monitoring systems have been put in place to make the broadcasts error-free as well.Doordarshan has in the recent past faced criticism for some embarrassing errors, for instance, a newsreader wrongly pronouncing the name of Chinese President Xi Jinping as ‘Eleven’ Jinping.After the Narendra Modi-led NDA government stormed to power at the Centre, there has been a renewed focus in improving the public broadcaster. Earlier DD National also was relaunched with a new look and feel as ‘Desh ka apna channel’ (The country’s own channel.)DD News officials also said that the fixed programme chart is also being looked at so as to bring new and innovative programmes which can not only inform viewers but capture audiences as well.Prasar Bharati Chairperson A Surya Prakash when contacted said, “In my view there is place for a credible news channel. That is the space we wish to occupy.”He however added that the change in look and feel of DD News was only a beginning, with much work to do in the range of channels run by the Doordarshan, including DD National and the upcoming ‘DD Kisan’.

West Bengal government awaiting Centre nod for starting cruise to Bangladesh

The West Bengal government is awaiting approval from the Ministry of External Affairs to start river cruise services with Bangladesh, a state government official said on Wednesday.”Many have shown interest in starting river cruise service so we approached the central government for permission. The matter is now with the external affairs ministry,” State Transport Secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay told reporters.He said cruise operators are ready with all the plans and would start services in the Kolkata-Dhaka route as soon as they get approval.

Government will not unilaterally bring anti-conversion law: Venkaiah Naidu

After mooting the idea of an anti-conversion law following the raging controversy over religious re-conversions, government on Wednesday made it clear that it would not bring the legislation unilaterally.”Bringing an anti-conversion law is not the priority of the government and it did not think of bringing an anti-conversion law unilaterally,” Union Parlimentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu told a meet-the-press programme here.”No” was his short reply when asked whether the government was working on an anti-conversion law. However, Naidu said “if there is a concensus, if opposition also feels there is a need for it, one can think about it.” Stating that government has no role in the ‘ghar vapsi’ (home coming) programmes in some parts of the country, Naidu said they were organised by individuals.He accused Congress of raking up the conversion issue to derail the development agenda of the Narendra Modi government. Congress, aided by Communists, was on “a disinformation campaign” against the government, he alleged. Conversions had been going on for years. Lakhs of people across the country were being converted by “allurement and by spending crores of foreign money”, he said adding Congress never acted on the same.”Reconversion is happening over the last 100 years. Many Congress leaders were in the forefront of reconversion campaign through ‘Shuddhi’ launched by Swamy Dayananda Saraswati,” he said.”When I suggested a legislation to address their concern, Congress realised its mistake and went on the backfoot,” Naidu said. Justifying the government decision to go for the ordinance route for insurance sector FDI and land acquisition reforms, he said government was compelled to go for ordinance due to the “negative mindset” of Congress party.The attitude of Congress in the Rajya Sabha, whose proceedings were paralysed for several days over the conversion issue, was “a clear evidence of the negative and obstructionist mindset and this political philosophy was harming the national interest,” he contended. On the achievements of the seven-month old NDA government, he said in such short time it could increase power generaton by 22%, wholesale price index based inflation has been brought to zero level and there was a substantial increase in foreign Institutional and direct investments.

National Judicial Appointments Commission bill gets President’s nod

Source article: National Judicial Appointments Commission bill gets President’s nod

Kamal Haasan pays tributes to mentor Balachander

Paying rich tributes to his mentor K Balachander, actor Kamal Haasan on Wednesday said no other filmmaker could equal the veteran director.The Vishwaroopam star, who was abroad for film work and could not make it to the funeral of Balachander last week, visited the bereaved family here on Wednesday. Paying rich tributes to Balachander, Haasan said the director had ‘donated’ talent to Tamil cinema, in an apparent reference to more than 60 actors, including himself and Rajnikant, he had introduced.”He had donated talent to Tamil cinema. There is no other director who is equal to him,” he told reporters after his meeting with Balachander’s family. 84-year-old Balachander, a recipient of the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award, died here on December 23 after prolonged illness.

44 Naxals held in Chhattisgarh in two days

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In a major combing operation, 44 Naxals have been arrested from different places in the insurgency-hit Bijapur district in Chhattisgarh over the past two days, police said on Wednesday.The arrested Naxals, against whom warrants were long pending, were involved in several Maoist-related incidents including loot, arson, murder, attacks on security personnel, triggering bomb blasts and destroying government properties, Bijapur Superintendent of Police K L Dhruv said.Most of the ultras carried cash rewards on their heads, the SP said, adding that after reviewing the arrest warrants issued against them in several Naxal-related incidents, a strategy was chalked out to nab them. Following inputs about the locations of these cadres, police teams were mobilised in different restive pockets of the district, located around 400 km away from the state capital Raipur, the SP said.”While 37 ultras were arrested yesterday, seven others were nabbed today,” Dhruv said, adding that process is underway to produce them in a local court.Of the arrested, Hemla Lekhu (30) and Raju Tati (26) were involved in attacks on security forces during Lok Sabha polls this year, the SP said. Most of the apprehended Naxals are lower-rung rebels, while others acted as their supporters in the past, police sources said.

Minor rapes 3-year-old girl in Haryana

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A three-year-old girl was allegedly raped by a 12-year-old boy, in SGM Nagar area, following which a case has been registered against the accused, police said on Wednesday. The incident took place on Tuesday when the girl was playing on her terrace, police said.Hearing the cries of the minor, she found the 12-year-old raping her daughter, they said, adding, the boy fled away from the spot after seeing the woman. Following a complaint by victim’s mother, a case has been registered under section 376 (rape) of IPC and efforts are on to detain the boy, he said.

Minority community holds protest against morphed PK poster

Members of a minority community on Wednesday blocked the Delhi highway and pelted stones on policemen in protest against a morphed poster of the Aamir Khan-starrer PK shared on a WhatsApp chat.The poster of film PK was morphed and mixed with some other pictures, and was sent to a member of the community on WhatsApp, prompting the community to block the Delhi road near Idgaah, DCP North Prafulla Kumar said.The agitators were pacified and the highway was cleared after assurance of the arrest of the accused, Kumar added. Another police officer said four policemen received mild injuries when someone from the mob pelted stones at the police.However, the situation was brought under control soon, he said, adding, “Efforts are on to nab the accused.” Also Read: ‘PK’ controversy: Bollywood steps out in support of Aamir Khan’s film

Amid protests, Devendra Fadnavis says there will be no inquiry into PK

Continue at source:  Amid protests, Devendra Fadnavis says there will be no inquiry into PK

Ready to foil any infiltration bid along LoC: Indian Army

Claiming that more than 160 militants were ready to infiltrate into Jammu and Kashmir, the army on Wednesday said the counter-infiltration grid on the Line of Control (LoC) was robust to meet any such challenges.”Our estimate is that around 160 to 170 terrorists are waiting to infiltrate… (but) the counter-infiltration grid is robust as always. Even though there are challenges because of the weather, it is our responsibility to respond to those challenges and we are ready for that,” Commander of Srinagar -based Chinar Corps Lt Gen Subrata Saha told reporters.Lt Gen Saha said there were new challenges before the army in view of delay in heavy snowfall this winter. “This year there has not been much snow so far as there was the previous year. There has been 12 to 19 inch snow at some places but temperatures are down and there are separate and new challenges because of that and we have to face them and respond to them,” he said.The army commander was speaking after laying the foundation of a bridge in this town in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district. The Chinar Corps has taken the initiative to construct the bridge on Sopore-Sangrama highway with an aim to address the transportation problems of the locals.

Eight women lose their lives in a week after Caesarean section in Ooty

Eight pregnant women have lost their lives in a week after undergoing Caesarean section in Ooty. Most of the deaths occurred between December 24 and December 30. Some of the patients, who were referred to Coimbatore Medical College Hospital after developing complications, also did not survive. Relatives said most of them died of excessive bleeding post surgery. Anandraj, husband of a victim Saraswati, said she was keeping fine till she was brought to the hospital. “Until 10 PM she was keeping fine, the caesarean section was conducted around 1 AM. She was brought back to the ward around 3 early in the morning and she was unconscious. After that we brought her to Coimbatore for better treatment. But she could not be saved. She passed away at 10 in the morning,” said Anandraj Relatives of the victims alleged the absence of qualified doctors on duty when the operations were carried out. “We do not know if the caesarean section was conducted by a doctor or even a nurse. The name plate of the doctor concerned also does not exist. From 24th of this month this is the 8th such death. Eight new borne babies are now in the ICU,” said Selvakumar, brother of another victim. Meanwhile, a medical team from Coimbatore Medical College Hospital has been sent to Ooty to probe into the matter.

Mission Empowerment: After conversion row, NDA to woo minorities with central schemes

Originally posted here:  Mission Empowerment: After conversion row, NDA to woo minorities with central schemes

Arunachal Pradesh urges Centre to develop airports in the state

Source:  Arunachal Pradesh urges Centre to develop airports in the state

Saradha scam: CBI questions Kolkata businessman Arun Poddar

Originally posted here:  Saradha scam: CBI questions Kolkata businessman Arun Poddar

India to scrap tax breaks on cars

Cars, bikes and consumer goods are set to get more expensive in India as the government is to withdraw tax breaks in the new year, reports say.

26/11 accused Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi challenges detention under abduction case in Pakistan

Original post:  26/11 accused Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi challenges detention under abduction case in Pakistan

Security personnel arrest two Maoists in Odisha’s Sambalpur

Excerpt from:  Security personnel arrest two Maoists in Odisha’s Sambalpur

Second ceasefire violation by Pakistan in last 24 hours kills one jawan, injures another

Original article: Second ceasefire violation by Pakistan in last 24 hours kills one jawan, injures another

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