Alia Bhatt has showcased her acting prowess and singing skills as well as her fashionable side, but the actress says she will never wear the director’s hat for any project.
The daughter of filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt and yesteryear actress Soni Razdan added that she can plunge into the filmmaking business as a producer, but never as a director.
“Maybe I can produce (films) one day, but I don’t think I can ever be a director because being a director takes a lot. I don’t think I have that capability,” Alia told IANS over phone from Mumbai.
Since her debut project “Student of the Year” in 2012, she has delivered laudable performances in films like “Highway”, “2 States”, “Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania”, “Kapoor and Sons” and “Udta Punjab”. Her only setback was last year’s “Shaandaar”.
Asked if she takes any guidance from her family, she said: “While making the film no advice comes from my parents. All advice comes from my director.”
The actress will next be seen in director Gauri Shinde’s upcoming “Dear Zindagi” alongside superstar Shah Rukh Khan. The film will release on November 25.
Three people – a young woman and two minors, drowned and two others were missing in the flood-hit areas of western Meghalaya on Saturday, even as thousands of people are living in makeshift shelters.
The flood waters, which have affected the normal life of over one lakh people in 258 villages, have however started to recede in some of the affected areas, West Garo Hills District Magistrate Pravin Bakshi told IANS.
“Two minors – 16-year-old boy Asraful Hoque and eight-year-old girl Atuba Begum – and 19-year-old Sahida Bibi died due to drowning in the flood waters,” he said, adding two people are reportedly missing, and efforts are on to trace them.
A total number of 1,21,535 people in 258 villages were affected after the swollen Brahmaputra and Jingiram rivers submerged many villages under Phulbari, Rajabala, Singimari, Paham, Bhaitbari and Hallidayganj areas.
The Jingiram, one of the major rivers in Garo Hills, caused havoc after a major embankment was breached. The backflow of water in the Brahmaputra in Assam aggravated the floods.
National Peoples Party President, Conrad K. Sangma, who is the Lok Sabha member from Tura, urged the state government to ensure supply of essential commodities and safe drinking water to the affected people besides taking immediate steps to prevent outbreak of water-borne diseases.
“I have visited almost all the flood-hit areas and the immediate plea of the affected people was to ensure food supplies,” Sangma told IANS.
Sangma, who had urged the central government to declare the flood as a national calamity, suggested the Meghalaya government to seek the assistance of Department of Space for accurate assessment of damage caused by the floods on agricultural lands.
Speaker Abu Taher Mondal, who has been camping in his Phulbari assembly constituency, said that government will start the supply of relief material to displaced people from Sunday.
Bakshi said the government has placed over 100 boats at different locations for relief and rescue operations.
He said that there was a heavy loss of agriculture, and as per the reports of the agriculture department, 2,223.3 hectares were affected along with 258 villages.
Health authorities in the Garo Hills on Monday said they feared an epidemic if precautions are not taken after floodwaters recede.
“We are apprehending that many water-borne diseases might break out in the flood-hit areas once the water-level starts receding in the next 10 to 15 days,” a health official said.
The medical department has also announced precautionary measures to check the outbreak of diseases.
Public Health Engineering (PHE) officials have distributed chlorine tablets and bleaching powder among the people to prevent any outbreak of water-borne diseases.
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Infosys promotes Krishnamurthy to president in re-jig
Software major Infosys Ltd promoted its Executive Vice President Rajesh Krishnamurthy to the post of President in a minor re-jig in the top management, a company official said on Saturday.
“Krishnamurthy has been promoted,” the official told IANS but did not elaborate further.
Prior to his elevation, Krishnamurthy was head of energy, utilities, resources, and telecom service lines. He replaced Sanjay Purohit as head of consulting services, which faced headwinds in discretionary spending during the April-June first quarter of this fiscal.
After the recent exit of top level executive Manish Tandon, the company entrusted healthcare, insurance and life sciences to Mohit Joshi and Sandeep Dadlani, who were made presidents, along with head of delivery Ravi Kumar in the rejig recently.
“The latest round of top-level changes would help the company restore some of the shine it lost during the June quarter,” Infosys chief executive Vishal Sikka said in an e-mail letter to the employees early this month.
Admitting that the consulting team had seen short-term challenges in the quarter, Sikka said under Krishnamurthy’s leadership, the consulting unit business was poised to restore to grow and evolve towards the tip of the spear.
“Our revenue growth of 2.2 per cent to $2,501 million, included a shortfall in consulting revenue, some declines in package implementations, and small declines in our India business and Finacle,” Sikka said.
As head of Infosys Europe, Krishnamurthy also oversaw the company’s operations in the region.
“Krishnamurthy is an integral part of the Infosys success story. In a 23-year career, he held senior positions across business units in all major markets. While leading large transformation projects, he realizes compelling value for clients through his industry knowledge and technology expertise,” the company said in its annual report.
Krishnamurthy is also on the board of the company’s overseas subsidiaries — Infosys Lodestone, Infosys Sweden, Infosys BPO Poland and Infosys BPO Czech Republic.
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India must try to become developed country by 2030: Jaitley
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday said that India needs to see if the target of becoming a developed country can be achieved by 2030, having missed keeping former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s target of 2020.
“We have missed the bus for Kalam’s vision of making India a developed country by 2020. The date needs to be pushed further,” he said during the first Memorial Lecture on Kalam.
“Instead of 2020, if we push it to 2030, India has to follow a roadmap. It will need all investments from private sector and on the global sphere as well, larger resources and push from the banking sector,” he said.
The government will always do investment, but investment from private sector will come only if India becomes the best place to invest, he said.
“For that India needs an easy business environment and needs to get rid of corruption.
“We may have opened up foreign direct investment, but in the land and construction requirement, India still ranks 183 out of 190 nations,” Jaitley said, adding: “This change needs to come at the state level else adverse environment is created which leads to loss in revenue.”
On the taxation front, he said the indirect taxes have to be best in comparison to the world.
Hinting towards Goods and Services Tax (GST) coming in soon, he said: “The whole idea of one nation, one tax gives ease and freedom from any form of corruption.”
Noting India has made progress towards infrastructure expenditure and has highways comparable to the best in the world, he also stressed that it should also move towards being a pensioned society.
“All developed countries of the world have pension and insurance. Something India is still finding it hard to accept. Some of the recommendations in my last budget for 7th Pay Commission… I found employees didn’t like the idea of insurances and pension.
“The hallmark of a developed society is that it must become a pensioned society and insurance-secured society. You must be secured in your old age by what you have invested during your earning career, that is extremely important,” Jaitley said.
The government has also launched financial inclusion scheme, where every Indian family has to get a bank account, and the Mudra scheme, where people who are not able to get jobs can turn entrepreneurs, so that skills can be developed, he added.
The finance minister said that the government will fulfil targets of electrification of every village by 2018 and giving road connectivity to every village by 2019, but said India also needs a network of educational institutes to move towards a developed society.
He said that Kalam had realized that India being an over-populated country needs to convert its human resource into an educated resource to achieve the aim of being a developed country.
“If India has to achieve the target by 2030, we have to avoid policy diversions from the agenda of development. Matters of region, religion, caste, etc. can deflect the development agenda. We need a closure on these diversions,” he added.
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Hillary Clinton accepts historic Democratic presidential nomination
By Arul Louis
Promising a populist agenda to build a better nation based on unity, Hillary Clinton on Thursday night accepted the Democratic Party’s historic presidential nomination making her the first women candidate of a major US party and challenged Republican rival Donald Trump on what she said was his message of hate and divisiveness.
“It is with humility, determination and boundless confidence in America’s promise that I accept your nomination for President of the United States,” Clinton said to thunderous applause at the Wells Fargo Centre in Philadelphia.
“Your cause is our cause,” she declared as her party members waved placards and flags and roared their support. “Our country needs your ideas and commitment.”
She promised to take on Wall Street, large corporations and the rich to make them pay their fair share of taxes and treat workers fairly.
The former First Lady also said she would penalise corporations that send jobs abroad and hit out at Trump for having some of his products manufactured abroad, mentioning picture frames made in India.
At the same time she promised stern action against terrorism, but by working with allies. Clinton said she would strike the Islamic State (IS) terror group from the air and and empower allies to defeat them, while countering its appeal to youth.
She invoked the commitment of Humayun Khan, a 27-year-old Pakistani American Army captain, killed in 2004 in Iraq trying to save his soldiers, and Nat Kaine, the Marine son of her Vice President nominee, Tim Kaine, to protect the US to declare her commitment the armed forces and to keeping the nation safe.
Philadelphia was where the US Independence Declaration was signed 240 years ago. From the Convention in the city, the party and the nation should message of unity, liberty and equality enshrined in it, she said.
The former Secretary of State presented her vision of a “country that works for everyone, not only those at the top.
Clinton promised to work to bring jobs, penalise corporations that hurt workers, and improve the life of the citizens. She said she would work along with the Republican Party to make the biggest investments since the Second World War to create jobs.
In an appeal to the Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ backers and to assuage the sense of economic insecurity that plagues also the supporters of Trump, she said, “Our economy isn’t working the way it should because democracy isn’t working the way it should.”
She said that she would appoint Supreme Court judges who would overturn judgments that allowed some types of political donations and, if necessary, introduce a constitutional amendment.
“Wall Street will not be allowed to wreck Main Street,” she said, outlining her populist agenda.
Corporations, Wall Street and the rich will be made to pay more taxes, Clinton added.
Working with Sanders, she said she would work to make college tuition free and eliminate college tuition debts.
Overcoming an early party leadership crisis and the persistent vociferous opposition to her from the supporters of insurgent rival, Sanders, the Convention ended generally on an upbeat note.
In a political coup to tamp down dissent and build unity for the party, Sanders on Tuesday night asked the convention to discard the votes cast for him and nominate Clinton unanimously by acclamation.
Pockets of resistance persisted with the Sanderistas – the supporters of Sanders – booing her speech.
On Wednesday, President Barack Obama addressed the Convention and gave her a resounding endorsement and declare Clinton the leader to pick up the baton and give the nation continuity and strong leadership.
The coronation of the Clinton dynasty came eight years late after Hillary Clinton’s first bid for the presidency was waylaid by President Barack Obama, who came from behind and seized the party’s nomination in 2008 and went on to become the first African-American to lead the US. And it was 24 years after her husband, Bill Clinton (1993-2001), was crowned with the party’s nomination.
Now comes the momentous task of waging a tough electoral battle against Republican Donald Trump, who has taken the campaign to new levels of bitter and aggressive animosity.
The Democratic Party presented her as an amalgam of compassion and toughness, a leader who can heal the economic, social and racial of the nation, but is also has the steely resolve to taken the enemies of her nation.
Trump loomed large over the Convention as an ominous presence that Democrats saw as a divisive and disrupt force. Clinton said he had taken the country from “morning in America to midnight”.
he conceded there was economic stagnation and various problems, but the nation still remained strong and a beacon of multi-ethnic harmony that inspired the world.
“Don’t trust anyone who says he alone can fix” the nation, she said.
For the Convention’s finale, Chelsea Clinton introduced her mother extolling her commitment to public service and the values of compassion for the less fortunate she instilled.She said Hillary Clinton keeps going amid the sound and fury of politics despite setbacks because of her commitment.
Patriotism was the theme of one of the last segments of the Convention showing support of military veterans, placards with “USA” shouts of “USA,USA” by the audience and a show of cards by participants to spell out a patriotic theme.
The displays sought to douse Republican Party criticism and to seek to reassure a nation uneasy with terror and Islamic radicalism – a fear Trump has mined – that Clinton would be a determined leader who would keep the country safe and at the same time douse anti-Americanism at home.
A Sikh ex-serviceman, Major Kamaljeet Singh, in a pink turban stood with his colleagues behind retired General John Allen, who declared, “We are the greatest country on the planet”.
As the audience shouted, “USA, USA,”, he said that under Clinton the country will not “abandon the world,” and pursue our enemies defeat the IS and stop the spread of nuclear weapons.
To rebut Donald Trump plans on Muslim immigration, Khizr Khan, the father of a 27-year-old Pakistani American Army captain, Humayun Khan, killed in 2004 in Iraq trying to save his soldiers from a bomb, challenged Trump, “You are asking Americans to trust you with their future. Let me ask you, if you have read the US Constitution?”
He added, “We will become stronger when Clinton becomes president.”
The four-day convention began on an uneasy note with the party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigning after WikiLeaks revealed emails by party leaders strategising to undermine Sanders, who is Jewish by portraying him as an atheist, and a vociferous revolt by his supporters.
The scenario changed on the second day, when Sanders strongly endorsed her. Every major political speaker from Obama to Clinton herself praised Sanders for bringing progressive ideas to the public discourse.
Now in the tight race, polls have been seesawing. The latest polls released Thursday and consolidated by Real Clear Politics showed Clinton leading by between 1 per cent and 9 per cent, enjoying a bounce from the Convention coverage and reversing Trump’s edge.
Keeping and building the lead will require reaching out to discontented Republicans made uneasy by Trump’s rhetoric and anti-establishment streak. Besides adding to her margins, the Republicans may offset any loss of votes from die-hard Sandrs supporters.
The Convention presented a parade of Republican Party notables and a Texas sherrif designed to appeal to them.
Doug Elmet, who had worked with late President Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) as his spokesperson, declared “Trump is no Reagan,” the icon of the right, and said he would vote Democrat for the first time.
Sherriff Lupe Valdez spoke in defence of her beleaguered law enforcement colleagues under attack from sections of the Democratic Party base. She went on to present family members of police off killed in action.
With a large number of voters questioning her trustworthiness because of the email scandal involving her communications being kept on a private computer in contravention of government rules and her handling of the Benghazi attack on the US consulate there and it aftermath, Obama took on the issue head-on.
In his endorsement speech he admitted she made mistakes, but so had everyone at some time. Sitting on the sidelines was not the way to avoid mistakes he said.
(Arul Louis can be reached at the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Vice President Hamid Ansari on Friday said that in today’s India where the operative slogan is ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’, educational progress starting with quality elementary, secondary and skills education is imperative if all segments of society have to be together.
Addressing the inaugural session of a seminar on “Educational Development of Weaker Sections” here, organized by the Duty Society, Aligarh Muslim University, he said that the lofty ideals enshrined in our Constitution are realizable only through equality of status and opportunity which, in turn, are contingent on an educated citizen body.
Citing figures from various government reports on the educational status of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and religious minorities, Ansari said that despite the initiatives of successive governments, the corrective in its totality cannot come from the government alone and has to be supported and supplemented by public and community initiatives.
He lamented that this lack of community level effort is particularly noticeable amongst the Muslims.
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Haryana ex-minister Ajay Singh alleges humiliation, quits Congress
Senior Congress leader and former Haryana minister Captain Ajay Singh Yadav on Friday said he was quitting the party as he felt humiliated.
Listing several reasons for his disenchantment with the party, he said the immediate provocation was that he was not invited to a meeting of senior Haryana Congress leaders called by Kamal Nath, who is in charge of the party’s affairs in the state.
Yadav made his displeasure public on the social media on Friday.
“Mr. Kamal Nath, you in a month misled high command and undermined my prestige. You have 40 years of experience but I too have 30 years of work,” Yadav posted on Twitter.
“Some people are misleading and undermining my endurance and capacity to work for the party and I believe in destiny, God, karma and friends,” the former minister added.
Apart from Kamal Nath, Yadav also made his differences with former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda known.
“My father was true a Congressman and I too and had great faith in the Nehru-Gandhi family but B.S. Hooda is supreme and others are insignificant,” Yadav wrote.
“I gave my youth and life for the Congress and worked as a true soldier of the party but my ego has been hurt. I quit the Congress,” he said.
Yadav also posted a letter on Facebook, saying in return for devoting his entire youth and life to a great party, he got “humiliation, pain and ill health”.
“I was tormented mentally by those leaders who treated the government machinery as their fief and looted the exchequer. I had written all this in a letter to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, because I have good relations with her and she has given me due importance.”
“I will always respect her as she is the wife of my guru, the late Rajiv Gandhi. I believe some people around her are blackmailing and misleading her. She gave me promotion but Bhupender Singh Hooda reversed it. Hooda is damaging the Congress ideology,” Yadav wrote on Facebook.
He said he was quitting the Congress “with a heavy heart”.
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Actor Sanjay Dutt says that the much anticipated third part of the successful franchise “Munnabhai” will release in 2018.
At a media interaction on the occasion of his 57th birthday, Sanjay said: “My movie with (Vidhu) Vinod Chopra sahab will start in November, it is called ‘Marco’. And after that, I am doing a film with Mahesh Manjrekar, it is a remake of ‘De Dhakka’, and then there is a good line-up of movies.”
About “De Dhakka”, he added, “It is a family film and it’s about how a broken family reunites. He (Manjrekar) has adapted it well, let’s see what happens.”
Asked about “Munnabhai 3”, he said, “2018.”
Asked the reason for the delay, considering the excitement in fans for the film, he said: “That you should ask Raju Hirani and Vinod sir. Even I am waiting for ‘Munnabhai’.”
Recently, Arshad Warsi, whose character Circuit plays sidekick to Sanjay’s Munnabhai, had stated that the film has got delayed as Hirani’s biopic on Sanjay with Ranbir Kapoor in the lead is yet to go on floors despite initially being set to begin in June.
Asked about the biopic, Sanjay said: “First of all, I am not acting in it; I think it would be shot in February.”
A special apperance maybe? “I don’t know that I will ask Raju sir about it.”
He also said, “I have started working out, I do martial arts. I spend four hours in the gym in a day. I have quit drinking. You should not drink alcohol. There is a very strict diet for me, grilled fish, grilled chicken and you have to eat what you eat in the hospital.”
Sanjay was released from jail this February, after serving the remainder of his five-year sentence for illegal possession of arms.
Two police officers injured in US shooting, suspect nabbed
Two police officers were shot and injured in the American city of San Diego with one suspect in custody, police said.
The shooting took place late Thursday at around 11 p.m. near Boston Avenue, NBC News reported citing the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) as saying.
Police are now searching for a second suspect.
No other details were disclosed.
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Singapore-based Creative Technology on Friday launched a new Aurvana ANC headphone with noise cancellation feature for users to comfortably enjoy long hours of music, movies or games.
The Rs 10,999 headphone is available on Amazon from August.
The headphone features 40mm Neodymium drivers and comes with a durable braided audio cable with inline microphone for music controls and phone calls. It comes with foldable earcups and a travel case.
Microsoft to cut additional 2,850 jobs from smartphone sector
Hurt by a failed $7.6 billion Nokia experiment amid growing losses in the smartphone hardware business segment, Microsoft has announced to lay off an additional 2,850 workers to the previously 1,850 jobs it said it would cut.
In a regulatory filing, the tech giant said it will cut 4,700 jobs globally by the end of fiscal year 2017, PC World reported on Friday.
Last June, Microsoft had announced it will cut 7,400 jobs from the smartphone business unit.
Earlier in May, signalling the end of its Nokia experiment, Microsoft announced it was cutting 1,850 jobs and writing off $950 million of which $200 million will be used for severance payments.
“We are focusing our phone efforts where we have differentiation — with enterprises that value security, manageability and our Continuum capability, and consumers who value the same,” Indian-born Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement.
“We will continue to innovate across devices and on our cloud services across all mobile platforms,” Nadella added.
According to a report in The Verge, the latest job cuts mean that the majority of former Nokia employees will no longer be working at Microsoft.
Almost a year ago, Nadella had announced a “more effective and focused phone portfolio” with business, value phones and flagships gaining prominence.
“We’re scaling back, but we’re not out!” said Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s head of Windows and devices.
“Phone success has been limited to companies valuing our commitment to security, manageability, and continuum, and with consumers who value the same,” Nadella added.
Microsoft’s Lumia and Windows Phone strategy has failed as both sales and Windows Phone market share have declined since the tech giant’s mobile restructuring last year.
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Hundreds of commuters, including women and children, were stuck on the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway for many hours after heavy rain left the Hero Honda Chowk here inundated.
There was a massive traffic jam as all kinds of vehicles — cars, two-wheelers, buses and other modes of public transport — remained stuck for six to seven hours, especially on the Delhi-Jaipur stretch.
The Badshahpur drain, which carries stormwater, breached, leading to several feet of waterlogging in the area.
Several people, oblivious of the lurking danger at several inundated places, fell into ditches but were saved due to timely help from other onlookers.
People stuck at the spot lamented that no official, particularly those connected with disaster management, were available to alleviate their miseries. They said they had been left to fend for themselves by the government.
“@mlkhattar sir for more than 4 hrs we r in jam to pass just 2 km at sohna rd near Subhas chk Gurgaon. This is not good for happening haryana,” tweeted a commuter, Satya Prakash Gupta.
“Total failure of administration in GURGAON, hero Honda chowk standstill from last 3 hrs,” tweeted another commuter, Pradip Agarwal.
However, Gurgaon Police Commissioner Navdeep Singh Virk said the entire traffic and district police force was on roads to help commuters.
“Waterlogging on several roads in Gurgaon has led to a gridlock in parts of the city. Entire traffic police is on road trying to do the best,” tweeted Gurgaon Police.
Over four feet deep water was witnessed inundating some places near the expressway.
Earlier report said the excessive flooding was caused by overflowing of the Badshahpur drain due to the downpour that began around 4.30 p.m.
Kanwarias (Lord Shiva’s devotees bringing Gangajal from Uttarakhand), vehicles of NSG commandos, Central and state officials were also stuck in the rainwater under which the expressway and other arterial roads disappeared.
Traffic was disrupted at the Hero Honda, Jharsa, Iffco and Shankar chowks (intersections).
India, Bangladesh resolve to fight terrorism together
India and Bangladesh on Thursday agreed on the need to operationalise the agreements on combating terrorism, organized crime and illicit drug trafficking.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh assured Bangladesh of India’s fullest support and cooperation in its fight against terrorism, fundamentalism and radicalism.
“The two countries have to be vigilant at all times and channelise efforts to defeat the terrorism and ensure peace, security and prosperity between the two countries,” said Singh.
The India-Bangladesh Home Minister level talks expressed satisfaction over the signing of an addendum to the Bilateral Extradition Treaty of 2013 to further streamline the treaty and to make it more effective.
Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan and his Indian counterpart Singh also agreed on the necessity of signing a Repatriation Treaty to simplify and expedite the procedure of repatriation of each other’s nationals, said a home ministry statement.
Both sides also agreed to undertake urgent action for the repatriation of released prisoners and victims of human trafficking.
The two sides agreed to further strengthen the ongoing cooperation between the security and investigative agencies of the two countries through a programme of training, capacity building, information exchanges, read the statement.
India and Bangladesh emphasized the need for speedy operationalization of three agreements – MoU between Indian Coast Guard and Bangladesh Coast Guard for the establishment of collaborative relationship to combat transnational illegal activities at sea and develop regional cooperation.
MoU to prevent and counter smuggling and circulation of fake currency notes; MoU on bilateral cooperation for prevention of human trafficking especially trafficking in Women and children; rescue, recovery, repatriation and reintegration of victims of trafficking, the statement added.
Both sides emphasized the importance of effective implementation of the Coordinated Border Management Plan (CBMP) to enhance cooperation between the border guarding forces of the two countries and to enable them to better monitor the identified vulnerable areas with a view to preventing criminal activities, irregular movement, acts of violence and loss of lives along the border areas, it further added.
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Jaitley, BJP lawmakers counter Rahul Gandhi on price rise
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, joined by other ruling BJP members, on Thursday strongly rejected Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi’s criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over escalating prices, saying the NDA dispensation had performed well at a “difficult stage”.
Jaitley hoped that with good monsoon this year, the price front too will ease.
Countering Rahul Gandhi, Jaitley said that even today the corruption scandals of the UPA regime can be heard about.
“We have contained inflation despite having two years of drought. Good monsoon helps economy and with good monsoon this year, I expect that the prices will come down,” Jaitley said in the Lok Sabha making an intervention during the debate on price rise.
“We have been able to keep things under control despite two years of bad monsoon, which resulted in higher food inflation.”
Jaitley asked the Congress Vice President to compare the inflation rate during the UPA government and what’s prevailing now under the Modi government.
Stating that the two years of UPA government saw double digit price rise, Jaitley said consumer price inflation was 10.2 per cent in 2012-13. It was near 9.5 per cent when the BJP took over, he said, adding that this has been brought down to 5.77 per cent.
Taking a jibe at Rahul Gandhi for listing out items whose prices had gone up, the Finance Minister quipped: “Everybody in this House seems to be claiming to be going to the market everyday.”
“Any form of bluster is not substitute of statistics,” he added, even as other BJP members slammed Rahul Gandhi for his “lip service” to the welfare of the poor.
Hukmdev Narayan Yadav, BJP member from Bihar, said the opposition party is “frustrated” with the Modi government as it is taking several steps to bring back black money.
“Contrary to allegations made by Rahul Gandhi, the Modi government has catered most for the welfare of the poor people. Opening of bank accounts under the Jan Dhan scheme for the rural people and cheap LPG made available to poor people only shows the government’s commitment to the poor,” Yadav said.
Another BJP lawmaker Poonam Mahajan from Maharashtra sought to blame the Congress government of the past for the price rise.
Making a veiled attack on Rahul Gandhi, she wondered how the ‘yuvraj’ (prince) did not know about the price situation when UPA was in power from 2004-2014.
Referring to Maharashtra situation, she claimed that a large number of farmers committed suicide during Congress rule.
Among others K. Karunakaran of CPI-M and B. Mahtab (Biju Janata Dal) said both the Congress and BJP-led NDA have failed to control price rise.
Mahtab suggested the government should deal with the supply side issues to contain inflation.
Saugata Roy (Trinamool) and Tariq Anwar (NCP) also criticised the government and said the government spokespersons and ministers are sounding “apologists” over the price hike.
Roy said Jaitley should give a road map on how to bring down the prices.
Jaitley shot back at Rahul Gandhi’s argument on minimum support price and said: “The new economic equation you gave that a rise in minimum support price should result in lower retail prices, otherwise it is corruption. This I have heard for the first time”.
He said MSP is determined on account of demand and supply.
Defending the move to hike excise duty on petrol and diesel, Jaitley said the government had no other option.
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Chandigarh and its neighbouring towns of Mohali and Panchkula faced a major water crisis on Sunday due to a snag in the water supply system.
The snag occurred at the Kajauli Water Works, about 30 km from here, from where the water supply to Chandigarh and the two adjoining towns, in Punjab and Haryana respectively, is made.
The problem began in the water delivery header, which burst, leading to flooding of the pump house at the water works.
The pump house motors were damaged.
Residents claimed that they got no water supply on Saturday evening and Sunday morning.
“There is no water to drink, leave alone for a bath or other activities. The overhead water tanks are all empty. The Municipal Corporation (MC) and the Chandigarh Administration have been caught napping. They did not have any alternate arrangement in place in a crisis like this,” Arun Kumar, a resident of Chandigarh’s Sector 46, told IANS.
MC officials said that technical staff were trying to repair the snag and normal water supply was unlikely before Monday.
Low pressure water supply was made to some parts of Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula on Sunday morning.
Chandigarh MC chief engineer N.P. Sharma said that officers and staff of the public health and water supply wings of the MC were supervising the repair work at Kajauli, which is located in neighbouring Punjab.
Residents in Chandigarh’s southern sectors, which are thickly populated and have thousands of flats, were the worst sufferers due to the failed water supply.
“There is no water supply and the authorities have not even bothered to inform people properly. There is no back up for water supply in this city which is supposed to by the most modern and planned one in the country. Even the water purifiers, which work on fresh water, are not working and we have no drinking water available. We have to buy mineral water bottles from the market for drinking,” Pooja Sharma, a resident of Sector 49, said.
Even in Chandigarh’s upscale northern and central sectors, residents had to face water crisis.
“There is neither water supply nor any help. The government water tankers are only catering to houses of officers,” Pankaj Dhawan, a resident of Sector 7, told IANS.
MC officials said that 37 water tankers, half of them private ones, were pressed into service to supply water in the worst affected areas.
Chandigarh Mayor Arun Sood, who held an emergency meeting with MC officers on Saturday night, said that water tankers were being arranged. He said that he will take up the issue of the maintenance of the Kajauli water works with Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.
Chandigarh and other areas had faced a water crisis in 2013 as well following leakage in the water supply pipes.
Congress struggles to reinvent or on road to extinction?
Dr Satish Misra
The Indian National Congress is facing its worst crisis in its 131 years of existence during which it faced multiple challenges.
There has been speculation in the national media that Congress vice president and the heir-apparent Rahul Gandhi is going to be elected or appointed the party president soon. He is expected to reinvent the party to make it a fighting machine to counter the RSS-BJP combine.
Question that is being asked is Rahul capable or has the potential to revive the party’s political fortunes or not?
In my frank assessment and understanding, issues of dynasty is totally irrelevant in case of the Congress because the party will not remain a cohesive unit if a member of Nehru-Gandhi family was not on apex to lead. The Congress will then dismember into several parties like the Janata Dal or Janata Party.
Challenge began in May 2014 when it lost the general elections and was voted out of power after leading the government for 10 years. The party’s strength in the Lok Sabha was reduced to the lowest in its parliamentary history. It had only 44 MPs in a house of 542
A series of defeat in subsequent assembly elections in the last two years has created serious doubts in popular mind about the Congress’s political future. After the Lok Sabha polls, it lost power in Haryana, Maharashtra, Kerala, Assam and partially in Jharkhand. In 2015 held Delhi assembly election, the Congress failed to win even a single seat.
Media and the Congress’ political opponents and enemies sought to put the blame on Rahul for the party’s defeat in the Lok Sabha as well as for the assembly elections though decisions were taken by the party’s high command. From all counts, he should not have been held responsible for the defeat of the party.
“Though it must be said that the Congress had faced anti-incumbency in all these states but an impression has come to stay in people’s perception that the party stands on a precipice staring at an unknown future.”
In absence of a communication and credible information of the party’s strategy and plan to effectively meet the challenge of the ruling BJP under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a pall of gloom descended on party cadres, leaders and the sympathisers. The Bharatiya Janata Party and its leaders are not tired of repeating its promise of a Congress-mukt Bharat.
Though in democracy, ups and downs are the part and parcel of the life of political parties, yet threat to the Congress are indeed very real. In ordinary times, political parties are rejected by the people and they struggle and win back the popular affection to be back in the reckoning but situation today in the country is extraordinarily different.
Country today stands at a historical crossroad with settled issues being reopened. Newer national heroes and villains are being invented and older ones are being discarded. Values, symbols, icons are being transformed. History is being rewritten.
The BJP-led NDA government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi makes no secret of its agenda of creating a new India which will not be burdened by the historical baggage of long years of the Congress rule. The BJP and its leader said during the general elections campaign that it would give a Congress-mukt Bharat (Congress-Free India) and it is repeated even now without any reservation.
Last general elections in 2014 forced a paradigm shift in Indian politics when the 36- year- old Bhartatiya Janata Party (BJP) won a huge majority of 282 Lok Sabha seats and other national parties like the Congress and the Left suffered heavily with some exceptions. Even those exceptions, regional parties, which could retain their electoral base, had an association with the BJP in the past.
The BJP-led NDA was voted to power on the promise of development, better days, removal of corruption from public life and a Congress-mukt Bharat (a Congress-free India).
Fulfilment of its promise of a Congress-free India was one that carried maximum conviction of the Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh and the BJP because this alone could perpetuate it in power and would help in pursuing its fundamental agenda of converting secular India into a Hindu India.
The RSS has known all these years that without discrediting the Congress resulting in its destruction it will never be able to achieve its goal of Hindutava and Hindu majority rule for which it has been working hard all these years. In the first decades of the independence, it was not only difficult but impossible to achieve its goal as majority of Indians were thankful to the Congress for its role in the freedom struggle,
Even then the RSS stuck with its agenda though it could not achieve much during the NDA government of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee possibly because of the personality of Vajpayee and the BJP not having absolute majority. Now time is opportune as Modi himself is convinced of the RSS agenda and that it why Ministries of Human Resource Development and Culture are working in close consultation and a covert understanding of the RSS.
By capturing the academic space and young minds, the RSS is hoping to rewrite the history of secular India and cleanse the popular minds of the Left dominated values and interpretations of history and sociology.
The Modi government’s strategy is to discredit the Nehru-Gandhi family by dragging them in court cases and running a media campaign against the family by selectively leaking confirmed and unconfirmed information against the top Congress leadership. Once the family is engaged and embroiled in court cases, the Congress would go in disarray and would not be in a position to fight the BJP in coming assembly elections and ultimately in the 2019 general elections.
Challenges are real but the question is whether the emerging Congress leadership is aware of the long term threats that the country is facing and whether they are capable to thwart the onslaught not only on its existence but to the national values which were inherited from the freedom struggle.
“Task for Rahul Gandhi, 44, is cut out which is difficult but not impossible. He will have to lead from the front and will have to make himself accessible to party cadres and leaders. At the same time, he will have to put the vast reservoir of experience of senior leaders of the party to constructive use in fighting the RSS-BJP propaganda machine which works overtime to project him as incapable ‘Pappu’.”
With the strength and energy of the young and experience of his seniors, he will have to evolve the party’s strategy to fight the toughest battle not only for the party but for the country.
The Congress, under Rahul’s unambiguous leadership, will face its first electoral test in Uttar Pradesh next year and for that he will have to lead from the front by either projecting himself as the chief ministerial face or by camping in the state foe 20 days a month till the last phase of the assembly election.
Whether the Congress remerges as a potential force or not, only future will tell but nothing is impossible and rather he should give his best.
Only time will tell, if the Congress re-emerges as a force to reckon with or will Rahul Gandh preside over its liquidation?
(Author is a Senior Fellow with Observer Research Foundation)
The BJP-led NDA government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has entered its third year in office having completed two years in office on May 26.
The government has gone to town showcasing its achievements to citizens through massive outreach programme which includes media campaign, rallies, public meetings, ministers fanning out across the country where they will spend the day in public meetings with beneficiaries of government schemes and intellectuals. A total of 33 teams will hold such interactions in 198 cities till June 15.
Let us have a close look at the overall performance of the working of the government because it is necessary that citizens are properly informed and are not carried away with the unprecedented government propaganda.
At the outset, credit must be given to the Modi government for maintaining the face of the world’s fastest growing economy despite two droughts and ending the policy paralysis of the UPA-II government while lifting the pall of gloom that was hanging over the country’s economy.
Task became all the more complex and difficult because a global slowdown but at the same time it was helped by falling oil prices and low commodity prices in the global market.
Another plus that goes to the NDA’s account is to reduce the current account deficit and fiscal deficit while keeping the inflation in control, claims an official brochure but it would obviously not inform that food inflation has remained high and has hovered around 20%.
By retaining the UPA government’s AAdhar card and MGNREGS programmes, the Modi government has taken some effective steps to reduce the subsidy burden which was threatening to become unmanageable.
A rate of 7.2 percent GDP growth has been achieved for 2014-15 but we should not overlook the fact that the NDA government right after assuming charge had changed GDP calculation method.
Wall Street Journal had commented on 30 January 2015 that the “dramatic revision could shake up the way the current trajectory of India’s economy is perceived both at home and abroad”.
The Statistics Ministry had said that after updating the base year used for marking trends in the economy and switching to a market price calculation of gross domestic product, the economy grew by 6.9% in 2013-14. Using the previous methodology, GDP expansion that year was 4.7%.
Similarly, the FDI stood at $63 billion in 2015. The FDI equity inflow in the past 22 months (From June 2014 to March 2016) increased by approximately 42% as compared to the previous 22 months, says a government release.
The government has also launched several programmes like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Make in India, Smart City, Digital India, Jan Dhan, Sansad Adarsh Gram, Atal Pension, Awas Yojna, Jeevan Jyoti Beema, Mudra Bank, Garib Kalyan, Kaushal Vikas, Sukanya Samridhi, Digilocker Scheme and many more to target the poor and the deserving citizens for bettering their lives but whether they indeed transform society and country would depend on the effective implementation of the programmes. The country, in the past, has suffered for want of effective policy implementation and it remains to be seen whether the Modi government would prove to be different than its predecessors.
All the government schemes are well intentioned but just how much management muscle the Modi government has remains to be seen and tested.
The government has claimed that it has empowered the poor, women, youth and the marginalised sections of society but then all past government have made similar claims. All such assertions by governments need to be taken not with a pinch of salt but with a bagful of salt.
On the other hand, the Modi government has failed to push big time reforms to make the country’s economy competitive and now that it is entering its third year it will become increasingly difficult to go for fresh ideas.
Domestic capital expenditure has not gone up which could create jobs in both organised as well as in unorganised sectors. The country needs to create a million jobs a month to provide employment to youth entering the job market and this would be difficult if the government failed to make the economy competitive. On job creation front, the government has obviously failed to keep its promise.
The government has done well in its transparent auctioning of spectrum, coal block allocation, minerals and private FM Radio channels thus reducing crony capitalism.
At the same time, the government is being accused of promoting crony socialism in the name of poor and the weak but then they are the ones who vote parties to power.
On the flip side, the government while seems to be doing well on hard physical infrastructure related issues but on softer and equally significant areas like the human resource development and culture it seems the responsibility for policy making and decision taking has been passed over to the Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh (RSS) which is calling shots in the Ministries of Human Resource Development and Culture.
It is not hidden from anyone that the RSS promotes the unconstitutional idea that India is a Hindu nation. This creates justified apprehensions and misgivings among the minorities.
The ruling party and the Prime Minister, instead of standing with the people around growth and better living standards, appear to be pursuing narrow agenda of dividing the society on communal lines for short term electoral gains.
The Prime Minister has miserably failed to control motor mounts of his party who damage his image and that of the party beyond repairs. Unfortunately, Modi has remained a relentless campaigner and has refused to become a statesman. He has been fleeting from one big event to another like he did in the 214 election campaign.
A direct consequence of the BJP and the Prime Minister approach is the weakening of an already fragile social peace and no country can grow in absence of social harmony.
On the foreign policy front, the Prime Minister by going to 40 odd countries has created good will and forged mutually beneficial ties which should serve well for pushing the economic agenda but China, Pakistan and Nepal remain country’s concerns and they are out immediate neighbours.
(The author is a Senior Fellow with Observer Research Foundation and a veteran journalist.)
I have been on the spiritual path since my birth and I have had the blessings of many divine souls and personalities–both living and non-living. Deeply influenced by Hindu gods and after a brief stint with atheism during my college days in the 1970s I discovered Jesus Christ as my personal saviour. But soon thereafter I discovered Sri Aurobindo through his writings in the library of St. Stephen’s College, New Delhi. I also came in touch with The Divine Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Puducherry. I regard myself as an exponent of Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga believing in the maxim “All life is Yoga.”
In my long journey of ups and downs in life, I also experienced the grace and blessings of Sai Baba of Shirdi. However, the turning point came in 2007 when a friend introduced me to the mantra “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo” and asked me to chant it along with determinations about my goals. I did not ask him for the meaning of the mantra and just went on chanting it. Soon I experienced many benefits relating to finances, health and relationships.
My friend told me that Nam Myoho Renge Kyo was revealed by a Japanese Buddhist monk Nichiren Daishonin who lived in the 13th century. Nichiren intensively studied the Buddhist scriptures and came to the conclusion that the Lotus Sutra was the panacea for transforming the people’s suffering and leading them to the state of absolute happiness. He further affirmed that all human beings possessed the Buddha nature and could attain Buddhahood. Chanting of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, the title of the Lotus Sutra, alone will enable people to attain Buddhahood and have the strength and wisdom to challenge and overcome all challenges. Nichiren established that the practice of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo was capable of awakening our and others’ happiness.
Whenever I was under stress or I faced adverse situations in life, I used to chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo till I saw breakthroughs.
The period between 2012 and 2015 was of intense struggle. I seriously started chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo in mid-2014 and I am happy to say that I became a member of the Bharat Soka Gakkai (BSG)–the Indian offshoot of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) in January 2015. There are several sects that are adherents of Nichiren Buddhism—the main being Nichiren Shoshu and the Soka Gakkai.
I have been regularly attending monthly discussion meetings which are held in the districts where members participate in several Gakkai activities, recite Gongyo and chant Daimoku (Nam Myoho Renge Kyo) and share experiences. Guests are welcome to attend these meetings. I regularly read the Goshos—the writings of Nichiren Daishonin. It is rather uncanny that the Goshos written centuries ago have relevance even now. Senior leaders in faith also recommend reading the words of SGI President Daisaku Ikeda available through his large number of books. We regard Mr. Ikeda, now in his eighties, as our Sensei and strive to forge a mentor-disciple relationship based on faith, practice and study. .
I have had several victories including expiation of financial, health and relationship karmas which I have shared in the meetings. What has appealed to me the most is on our human revolution and sharing our faith with others.
Nichiren’s Buddhism is a vast subject and I will strive to share my knowledge in subsequent articles.
Having a car- free day in the City Beautiful is a good idea.
It brings nostalgic memories of leisurely walks with friends- chatting and eating bhuttas (corn), the mad cycle races and walking to the Rose Garden or the Sukhna Lake for a picnic with family, ice cream at Yankee Doodles and meal at Mehfil or Ghazal in Sector 17.
Judges at the district courts in Sector 43 here must be commended for taking the lead on March 1 by travelling to work in cycles,buses and auto-rickshaws.
But in practical terms, the idea may not be all that feasible as there is not a strong and reliable public transport system in Chandigarh. The routes of the Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU) do not cover all the sectors and one has to invariably take two or three buses to reach the destination. This is not only time-consuming but also expensive. The autos fleece the customers openly and brazenly as they do not use the electronic fare meters and demand exorbitant rates. Also the Jugnoos are not reliable as they follow the GPS right from booking to generating the bill and it is sad but true that Google GPS does not work in all the areas especially in Sectors like 50 and 51 which fall in the vicinity of the Burail Jail.The Jugnoo drivers refuse to accept rides citing mismatch of location on the GPS and they behave rudely with the customers several times. And the Ola and Uber cabs also follow the GPS and sometimes the drivers are very rude. Also there are issues involving plying of autos between Chandigarh and Mohali (in Punjab) and Panchkula (in Haryana).
It is being said that the Chandigarh Administration will provide extra bus services which is commendable but at least the powers that be should ensure that buses ply frequently and most of the areas are covered. Also the Administration must take strict action against the auto drivers and ensure that they use electronic fare meters. Only then will the concept of having a car-free day be attractive to the citizens.
The Administration also needs to ensure the safety of the public by cleaning up the sidewalks/ footpaths which have either been encroached upon or run over by weeds especially Congress grass. It must be ensured that street lighting is adequate and the public need not fear chain snatchers or be harassed by beggars.
Subway that connects Sectors 17 and 22 needs to be cleaned up and made safe.
After all not everyone is fortunate enough to stay in sectors 7, 11, 16, 19 and has office in sectors 1, 3, 9 or 17.
Humans are resistant to change but if the day goes well and everyone enjoys it, I am sure we will succeed in making this day a permanent feature.