Zuckerberg expresses concerns on anti-globalisation trend


Zuckerberg expresses concerns on anti-globalisation trend


Mark Zuckerberg has revealed deep-seated concerns that the tide is turning against globalisation.
In an interview with the BBC on Thursday, the Facebook founder said that fake news, polarised views and “filter bubbles” were damaging “common understanding”.

He said people had been left behind by global growth, sparking demands to “withdraw” from the “connected world”.

In a call to action, he said people must not “sit around and be upset”, but act to build “social infrastructures”.

“When I started Facebook, the mission of connecting the world was not controversial,” he said.

“It was as if it was a default assumption that people had; every year the world got more connected and that seems like the direction things were heading in.

“Now that vision is becoming more controversial.”

He told the BBC: “There are people around the world that feel left behind by globalisation and the rapid changes that have happened, and there are movements as a result to withdraw from some of that global connection.”

Zuckerberg’s interview comes alongside the publication of a 5,500-word letter he has written about the future of Facebook and the global economy.

In it, Zuckerberg quotes Abraham Lincoln who spoke of acting “in concert”, and talks about “spiritual needs”, civic engagement and says that many people have “lost hope for the future”.

“For a couple of decades, may be longer, people have really sold this idea that as the world comes together everything is going to get better,” he said.

“I think the reality is that over the long term that will be true, and there are pieces of infrastructure that we can build to make sure that a global community works for everyone.

“But I do think there are some ways in which this idea of globalisation didn’t take into account some of the challenges it was going to create for people, and now I think some of what you see is a reaction to that.

“If people are asking the question, is the direction for humanity to come together more or not? I think that answer is clearly yes.

“But we have to make sure the global community works for everyone. It is not just automatically going to happen,” he said.


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DELHI, Politics

Kejriwal a dream merchant, still in opposition mode: Ajay Maken

Ajay Maken,Kejriwal
Ajay Maken,Kejriwal
Congress leader Ajay Maken. (File Photo: IANS)

Politics/North India/Delhi

Kejriwal a dream merchant, still in opposition mode: Ajay Maken

By Anand Singh

New Delhi:

Congress leader Ajay Maken has said that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is a “dream merchant” who is still in “opposition mode” and that the AAP government has failed to meet expectations of the people in several areas, including infrastructure, health and education.

In an interview to IANS, Ajay Maken, 53, who is Delhi Congress chief, said that the Congress was on a revival path in the city and would perform well in the municipal polls later this year.

Maken said Kejriwal shoots questions at others but rarely answers queries posed to him.

“Kejriwal must understand that he is no more in the opposition. Gone are the days when he can run away after asking questions. He should answer questions of the opposition and of the people,” Maken said.

He said Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had won a huge mandate in the 2015 assembly elections by making tall promises and by negating the work of the Congress government in Delhi in 15 years.

“Kejriwal came to power by weaving dreams. I call him a dream merchant. He made false criticism of the work of Congress governments led by Sheila Dikshit,” Maken said.

“Whether it is infrastructure, roads, health or education, the AAP government has failed. You won’t find a single new flyover project initiated in the last two years. No new hospital has been started,” Maken added.

He said the number of buses run by the city’s bus service DTC has come down in the last two years.

The AAP government has blamed the central government for delaying clearances for many of its projects, including allotment of land for hospitals by the Delhi Development Authority.

Maken also alleged that the Kejriwal government had not responded adequately when the city faced problems related to dengue and chikungunya.

Referring to the third phase of the Metro Rail project, Maken said it was the first time that the corporation had missed its completion deadline.

The Congress leader alleged that the Jan Lokpal Bill brought by the AAP government was “weak”.

“They said that they would end corruption, but has the promise been met? Many of their own MLAs and ministers have been booked by police (on various charges),” Maken said.

Maken, who has been a minister in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, alleged that the tussle witnessed between the central government and the Delhi government was “stage managed”.

“Much of the face-off is stage managed. It suits Kejriwal and (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi, because both of them have come to power by making tall promises. They have not been able to deliver on them,” Maken said.

He said the Congress was being strengthened “in a way that suits modern-day politics”.

The AAP had won 67 of 70 seats in the 2015 assembly elections while the Congress could not open its account.

Maken said the Congress had suffered electoral defeats earlier too and will bounce back to power.

(Anand Singh can be contacted at


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Haryana, Opinion

Jat agitation in Haryana a major challenge for Khattar (News Analysis)

Politics/National/North India/Haryana

Jat agitation in Haryana a major challenge for Khattar (News Analysis)

By Jaideep Sarin


Continuing protests by the Jat community in Haryana and their growing ranks are proving a major challenge for the BJP government in the state that had earlier shown political and administrative ineptness in dealing with the anarchic violence a year ago.

Bitter memories of the large-scale violence in 10 districts of the state last February during the Jat agitation for reservations, which left 30 people dead and over 200 injured and caused damage worth hundreds of crores of rupees to government and private property, are still fresh in the minds of people.

The inept handling by the government of the protests, which eventually led to the violence after the agitation was virtually hijacked by unscrupulous elements, had come in for criticism from all quarters.

This time too, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has hardly done much — since the Jats resumed their agitation on January 29 — to instil confidence among the people that the situation will not get out of hand.

Initially, the government of Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar tried to project that only a faction led by All India Jat Sangharsh Samiti (AIJASS) president Yash Pal Malik, was resorting to protests. The government opted to talk to other factions of Jat leaders to defuse the situation, but the move backfired.

In the last fortnight, the Jat protests have grown bigger and have spread to nearly 20 of Haryana’s 22 districts. BJP leaders in Haryana have even labelled Malik an “outsider” and tried to project that the Jat protests were politically influenced by the assembly elections in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh.

Ministers, legislators and leaders of the ruling BJP, including those from the Jat community, are blaming the Congress and Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leadership for fishing in troubled waters by supporting the Jat protests.

Last year too, the BJP government and leadership had squarely blamed the Congress, particularly the camp led by former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, himself a prominent Jat leader, for the protests and the violence.

Having come to power for the first time on its own since the creation of Haryana in 1966, the BJP, which is seen as a party supported by traders and non-Jat communities, has not been able to deal with the Jat community.

The Jats in Haryana have played a dominant role in Haryana’s politics. They constitute 28 per cent of the state’s nearly 28 million population and 25 per cent of its electorate.

The other main political parties, the Congress and the INLD, are led by Jat leaders and have a considerable hold over the community. The INLD, particularly, is dominated by Jat leaders from the clan of former Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal and his son Om Prakash Chautala.

During last year’s Jat agitation, two senior Jat ministers in the Khattar government, O.P. Dhankar and Abhimanyu, intervened but the move failed.

The BJP had also roped into its fold senior Jat leader Birender Singh, who was with the Congress for over four decades, before the 2014 parliamentary elections.

But the bottom line is that the BJP has not been able to make inroads into the Jat leadership and the community in the nearly 30 months it has been governing the state.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at


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Sasikala loyalist Palaniswami becomes new Tamil Nadu CM

Politics/National/States/Tamil Nadu

Sasikala loyalist Palaniswami becomes new Tamil Nadu CM

By Venkatachari Jagannathan


K. Palaniswami, a loyalist of the jailed AIADMK leader V.K. Sasikala, on Thursday took oath as Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister, ending for now an ugly war within the ruling party.

Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao administered the oath of office and secrecy to Palaniswami, 63, and his team at the Raj Bhavan, only hours after inviting him to form a government.

Palaniswami took oath in Tamil, followed by 30 ministers in batches. He has to prove his majority in the assembly within 15 days.

The assembly has, however, been convened on Saturday and the Sasikala faction said it was confident of proving its majority of at least 117 legislators in the house of 234.

“We have the support of 125 legislators and we will prove our majority,” V.N.Virugai Ravi, a legislator, told IANS.

Palaniswami has retained the crucial Finance Ministry he had in the outgoing government of O. Panneerselvam, whose attempt to foil Sasikala’s bid to be the Chief Minister led to bitter fighting in the AIADMK.

A farmer by profession, Palaniswami also retained the portfolios of Public Works, Highways and Minor Ports he held in the earlier government.

A Raj Bhavan statement said senior party leaders C. Sreenivasan and K.A. Sengottaiyan — the only new face in the cabinet — were designated as Minister for Forests and Minister for School Education and Sports and Youth Welfare.

P. Thangamani will be in charge of Electricity, Prohibition and Excise.

The other ministers are: K. Raju, S.P. Velumani, D. Jayakumar, C.Ve. Shanmugam, K.P. Anbalagan, V. Saroja, M.C. Sampath, K.C. Karuppanan, R. Kamaraj, O.S. Manian, K. Radhakrishnan, C. Vijaya Baskar, R. Doraikkannu, Kadambur Raju, R.B. Udhayakumar, N. Natarajan, K.C. Veeramani, K.T. Rajenthra Bhalaji, P. Benjamin, Nilofer Kafeel, M.R. Vijayabaskar, M. Manikandan, V.M. Rajjalakshmi, G. Baskaran, S. Ramachandran, S. Valarmathi and P. Balakrishna Reddy.

Dropped from the previous cabinet are Panneerselvam and former School Education Minister K. Pandiarajan.

Panneerselvam, who took charge of the government after the December 5 death of Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, vowed to pursue his fight against “one family” controlling the AIADMK — a reference to Sasikala.

He said people were angry that a new government was formed with the support of legislators who, he said, were held for days in captivity at a resort near here.

His aides said they would meet Election Commission officials in Delhi to complain that Sasikala had no right to be the AIADMK General Secretary.

Sasikala was elected to the top post and then chosen as the AIADMK legislature party leader by MLAs to enable her to replace Panneerselvam as the Chief Minister.

That’s when Panneerselvam revolted, leading to the worst faction fighting in the AIADMK.

DMK leader M.K. Stalin said the 15 days time given to Palaniswami to prove his majority would result in horse trading.

Shortly after the oath taking, a group of supporters of the new Chief Minister stoned Panneerselvam’s house to protest against the presence of a number of backers of the former Chief Minister.

Thursday’s celebrations by Palaniswami supporters came after a day of gloom when Sasikala returned to the Central Jail in Bengaluru after being held guilty of corruption by the Supreme Court.

Also jailed with her were her relatives Elavarsi and V.N. Sudhakaran. Sasikala, who had wished to become the Chief Minister, is now barred from contesting elections for 10 years.

Barring Panneerselvam and Pandiarajan, all other MLAs in “the rival camp are welcome to join us”, AIADMK leader O.S. Manian told the media.

Hailing from Nedungulam village in Salem district, Palaniswami belongs to the Gounder community.

He joined the AIADMK in the 1980s and entered the Tamil Nadu assembly for the first time in 1989 from Edapadi constituency.

After the Supreme Court upheld the earlier conviction of Sasikala, she chose Palaniswami as her successor as the leader of the party legislature wing.


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CRIME, Haryana, North India

Rape victim’s family to get free legal aid

Crime/Human Interest/Society/North India/Haryana

Rape victim’s family to get free legal aid


Gurugram-based NGO Frishtey will provide free legal aid to the family of a 10-year-old girl who was gang-raped and murdered by three men.
The victim was lured and abducted from a slum near Tau Devi Lal Botanical Garden in Sector 52 here on January 16 and was found dead in a building under construction in Saraswati Kunj on January 24.

Gurugram Bar Association former President Kulbhushan Bhardwaj, also part of Frishtey, told IANS that they decided to provide all legal help to the family without charging money.

Police on Monday arrested Mukhtar Ali (30), Aijaz Malik (26) and Jaleel (22) from Sector 43 for the crime. According to the FIR, Ali was known to the victim’s family.

On January 8, Gurugram Additional Session Judge Vivek Singhak sentenced two people to life imprisonment for throwing acid on a woman. That case too was fought by Frishtey for free.


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Politics, States, TAMIL NADU

Panneerselvam hopes to increase MLA support

Politics/States/Tamil Nadu

Panneerselvam hopes to increase MLA support


The AIADMK camp led by acting Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam is hoping to receive a sizeable number of legislators on Thursday, said a senior leader.
He also said Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao may not invite Public Works Minister Edapadi K. Palanisamy to form the government in the state till everything seems to be clear.

“There is no patch up moves between the two groups — one led by Panneerselvam and the other led by AIADMK General Secretary V.K. Sasikala, who is now in a Bengaluru jail.

“We expect around 30 legislators to our sides from the rival camp,” a senior AIADMK leader told IANS preferring anonymity.

“With Deepa Jayakumar joining hands with Panneerselvam, the strength of our camp has increased manifold and there is no patch up moves,” he added.

Deepa Jayakumar, the niece of former Chief Minister late J. Jayalalithaa was opposed to Sasikala.

Soon after the death of Jayalalithaa, thousands of AIADMK cadres rallied behind Jayakumar and wanted her to enter politics.

According to the AIADMK leader, the political impasse in the state may end in a couple of day’s time.

“Yesterday (Wednesday) when we met the Governor, we reiterated the point that majority of AIADMK legislators are held in captivity at the beach resort and if they are freed then support for our leader would swell,” he said.

“At the Governor’s meeting there was no indication that he would soon invite Palanisamy to form the government,” he added.

On Wednesday evening, AIADMK’s leader of the legislature party Palanisamy and Panneerselvam met Rao separately.

After the meeting AIADMK Presidium Chairman K.A. Sengottaiyan expressed confidence that the Governor would soon invite Palanisamy to form the government.

Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar too echoed similar views post Rao’s meeting.

According to AIAMDK leader in the Panneerselvam camp, the appointment of T.T.V. Dinakaran as the party’s Deputy General Secretary by Sasikala is void.

“As per party byelaw only a person who is a party member for five continuous years can hold any party post. Dinakaran was not a member of the party for the past several years. He was dismissed from the party by Jayalalithaa,” he added.

Even the election of Sasikala as the General Secretary in 2016, was being questioned on this ground and a complaint has been filed with the Election Commission.

“I do not know where the party is going. The General Secretary is in jail for corruption and the Deputy General Secretary faces case under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act,” K.C. Palaniswamy, former AIADMK MP told IANS.

He said Dinakaran’s appointment as Deputy General Secretary goes against the party laws.

“The Election Commission is expected to decide on my petition challenging the election of Sasikala as General Secretary by the general council. A General Secretary can be elected only by party members in an election,” Palaniswamy said.

“I expect status quo would continue in the state till the Election Commission decides on my complaint so that there will be stability in the ruling party,” Palaniswamy added.


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Opinion, Politics, UTTAR PRADESH

UP: Women winning fewer elections, losing deposits in larger numbers

Politics/North India/Opinion/Uttar Pradesh

UP: Women winning fewer elections, losing deposits in larger numbers

By Rahul Mohan Sharma

Poor, populous Uttar Pradesh was the first state to have a female Chief Minister — Sucheta Kriplani from 1963 to 1967 — but this pioneering effort has not improved prospects for women in elections.

As voter turnout has risen, more competitors have stood against women candidates, fewer women have won and a growing number have lost their deposits, according to an IndiaSpend and Swaniti Initiative analysis of electoral data of the three state elections since 2002.

The only exception was for the seats reserved for Scheduled Caste (SC) candidates. The proportion of women winning SC seats was more than double that of those winning general seats.

All this happened over a period when women in India’s most populous state became healthier and better educated, reinforcing the point that there is no correlation between these indicators and better political representation of women.

States with the worst sex ratios have more women members of legislative assemblies (MLAs).

Roughly over the same period of our study, female literacy in Uttar Pradesh grew from 42.2 per cent in 2001 to 59.3 per cent in 2011, and the sex ratio improved from 898 to 908, according to census data compiled by the NITI Aayog.

Women also became less anaemic and had fewer chances of dying during childbirth. The state’s maternal mortality ratio (MMR) — an indicator of general health progress — declined from 440 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2004-06 to 285 in 2011-13.

In general, there appears to be a surge in women contestants in elections, but we found that a growing number in Uttar Pradesh are forfeiting deposits, which means they could not garner a sixth of valid votes polled in their constituencies.

This is used as an excuse by political parties to field fewer women candidates, which further reduces their political opportunities.

How does this work?

To answer the question, we analysed data from the previous three assembly elections by: Comparing the percentage of female candidates who had to forfeit their deposits in general and reserved seats for SCs; and the proportion of victorious women candidates from general and reserved seats.

We sought to explore if a higher voter turnout jeopardises the chances of women candidates in seats of both categories.

There were 314 general and 89 SC seats for the 2002 and 2007 assembly elections, while in 2012 there were 318 general and 85 SC seats. The turnout in 2002 was 53.8 per cent; 45.95 per cent in 2007; and 59.52 per cent in 2012.

The proportion of female candidates who saved their deposits — in other words, won enough votes to be taken seriously — was higher when they contested from seats reserved for SCs.

In 2002, women won 11 of 314 seats (3.5 per cent) for general-category candidates, and 15 of 89 seats (16.9 per cent) reserved for SCs. By 2012, women won 22 of 318 general seats (6.9 per cent) and 13 of 85 reserved seats (15.3 per cent). So, women contesting from SC seats had a more than double chance of winning.

There was a larger voter turnout in general seats than reserved seats in the three elections we analysed. This implies one of two things: That women candidates may not be favoured by the electorate or that gender is not a factor in voting decisions.

The Women’s Reservation Bill [The Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill, 2008], which was passed by the Rajya Sabha, lapsed in 2014 with the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha. The Bill called for the reservation of a third of seats for women in the parliament and the state legislative assemblies, but it has met with widespread resistance from male politicians.

Since 2001, at least 14 political parties with a women-oriented political agenda have emerged across India. Five of these parties had contested either a general election or a state assembly election in the past 15 years, according to statistical reports of elections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies.

Despite a low success rate (with 100 per cent deposit forfeited in all cases), most of these parties have survived, and the trend of registration of women’s issues-based parties has increased over the years, in a country where women comprise no more than 11.4 per cent of the parliament.

(In arrangement with, a data-driven, non-profit, public interest journalism platform. Rahul Mohan Sharmais an associate fellow at Swaniti Initiative, a nonprofit working in the development space. The views expressed are those of IndiaSpend. Feedback at


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Education, Education Environment Health S&T, India, Opinion

Crying need for outcome-based education in India (Column: Active Voice)


Crying need for outcome-based education in India (Column: Active Voice)

By Amit Kapoor

If the buzz around Hyperloop materialises, a commute between Chennai and Bengaluru can be a matter of 30 minutes. The advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) can revolutionise homes around the world and our way of living along with it. Robotics can completely transform factory operations. Self-driven cars can make driving a thing of the past.

The world around us is changing at breath-taking speed and so are the nature of jobs that such a transformation entails. So, Indian policymakers need to ask themselves if policies are keeping pace with the changes that such rapid developments thrust upon us. More importantly, are higher education policies focussing on the right goals to achieve the skilling that industry requires?

The most important indicator of educational progress is easily the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER). At present, at the higher education level, GER stands at a little over 24 per cent. There is also a class and gender-disparity in these figures, although the situation is improving in the latter case.

However, GER is a very narrow indicator of educational performance when seen in light of the rapidly-changing industry trends. Enrolling more students in institutes of higher education seems irrelevant if they are not being provided skills that are commensurate with the changing times.

The curriculum that is offered by institutes of higher education in India hardly keeps pace with industry demands. For instance, IT graduates are still being trained in dying programming languages like JAVA when expertise in fields like AI and robotics are the need of the hour.

Therefore, there is an urgent need to shift from input-based indicators of educational progress like GER to an outcome-based approach. India’s unrivalled youth demographics make such a shift all the more important and urgent for the country.

Sixty-five percent of the Indian population is below 35 years of age and almost half of the population is below the age of 25. This pool of population will keep expanding the Indian workforce and needs to be trained with skills that are relevant in changing times and made employable.

First, the shift towards outcomes needs to evaluate graduates based on their level of employability. The National Employability Report 2016 released by Aspiring Minds reveals a worrying state of affairs when it comes to employability of Indian graduates.

In the IT sector, which is the fastest-growing service sub-sector in the country, only 3.67 percent of graduates were found employable in IT product companies and 18 percent were employable in IT services companies. These figures clearly indicate that a narrow focus on enrolment is futile and the scope of measurement of educational performance needs to be expanded beyond inputs.

Second, the outcome measures also need to expand their scope beyond landing a job. Institutes need to be encouraged to impart a holistic understanding of skills that will be required for a life-long career. Therefore, innovative research undertaken within an institute needs to be given a higher weightage than placements. The exclusive focus on placements and packages of graduates at the cost of original research is failing to inculcate a sense of innovation among them and hence putting their skills at the risk of being irrelevant once the industry evolves.

Third, financing needs to be linked with outcome-based measures. The central government could allot additional funds to states that are performing well on certain pre-decided outcomes. Such an incentive could encourage competition among states to work upon improving the indicators that matter: Their educational outcomes.

An extreme focus on educational outcomes is seen in the practice of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) that has been adopted by many countries around the world. The US has adopted OBE since 1994 and the program has evolved over the years. Hong Kong and Malaysia have adopted a similar programme.

The system defines a set of outcomes that are to be accomplished at the end of the course and the faculty acts as a mentor to the student in achieving the defined goals.

There are multiple benefits from such a move. It creates a sense of clarity among students of what is expected of them. It gives the faculty flexibility on the method of teaching as their goal is to achieve a pre-defined set of outcomes and not just complete specific set of hours in delivering lectures. There is also much more involvement of students in the classroom as they are expected to do their own learning and gain complete understanding.

India needs a similar focus on outcome-based measures to skill its workforce for the evolving industry trends. There is an urgent need to understand the kind of jobs that the industry requires and create specific skill sets accordingly. The changing work environment across the world calls for a change in education curriculum and policies at a similar pace.

(Amit Kapoor is chair, Institute for Competitiveness. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at and tweets @kautiliya. Chirag Yadav contributed to writing of this article.)


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Stakes high for SP in UP as voting begins in 2nd phase

Politics/North India/Uttar Pradesh

Stakes high for SP in UP as voting begins in 2nd phase


As voting for 67 seats in 11 districts of Uttar Pradesh began on Wednesday, the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) is hoping to repeat its 2012 performance in the region.
The SP had won 34 of the 67 seats, while the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) had come a distant second with 17 seats in the last election.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which is making a strong pitch to make inroads in the region had won 10 seats while the Congress, which is now contesting the polls in alliance with the SP, had barely managed 4 seats.

Regional parties like the Ittehadul-E-Millat Council and the Peace Party had won one seat each.

Muslim population is sizeable in 40 constituencies in the second phase and they could hold the key to victory.

In all 721 candidates are in the fray. The key seats are Sambhal, Moradabad, Rampur, Bareilly, Amroha, Pilibhit, Lakhimpur Kheri, Shahjahanpur, Bijnore, Saharanpur and Budayun.


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Arts Culture Books Features

V-Day bliss: Patience keeps Kavitha Krishnamurthy, L. Subramaniam ticking

Dr. L. Subramaniam


V-Day bliss: Patience keeps Kavitha Krishnamurthy, L. Subramaniam ticking

By Sahana Ghosh

Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh):

Married to violin virtuoso L. Subramaniam, playback singer Kavitha Krishnamurthy reveals the maestro loves to spring surprises, including a sojourn to Egypt’s pyramids on Valentine’s Day.


Dr. L. Subramaniam
Mumbai: Violinist Dr. L. Subramaniam performs during the 25th Laxminarayana Global Music in Mumbai on Jan 13, 2017. (Photo: IANS)

Once a “confirmed bachelor”, now a dedicated wife, mother, grandmother and artiste all rolled into one, the Padma Shri awardee believes patience keeps their relationship ticking.

“I got married to him (in 1999) when I was in my mid 40s. I was a confirmed bachelor and I was a very successful playback singer. I had just finished ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’ and ‘Devdas’ and overnight I was going to be a mother of his children,” Krishnamurthy told IANS in a candid chat at the Amaravati Global Music and Dance Festival.

“I was going to leave my city, shift from Mumbai to Bangalore. So what was going to happen to my career nobody knew, but I had made my decision that I was going to marry him and that was the best decision I ever made in my life.”

In her characteristic honeyed voice, the “Dola Re Dola” singer asserted, that post-marriage, she “never ever regretted” the change of city, the change of lifestyle. In fact, she credits her expansive repertoire to Subramaniam.

“He made me do extraordinary things like sing with symphony orchestras, with international artistes, singing for the two presidents… These things wouldn’t have happened if I was only stuck with Bollywood. He made me see music in a totally different angle. I got the best of both worlds. The process of learning music continued because I was with him.”

Fondly recalling her first Valentine’s Day with Subramaniam post-marriage (in 2000) — the year when the Filmfare Awards for best playback singer (for “Nimbooda”) didn’t come to Kavitha — the singer said the prolific violinist took her to Cairo in a surprise pick-me-up trip.

Kavitha says she believes she deserved the honour.

“It was the evening of February 13t. My husband flew down on that evening and saw that I didn’t win the award. My husband said, ‘Listen you shouldn’t feel sad’. But I said, ‘I don’t feel sad but I wish I had got it.’

“So he said, ‘Tomorrow morning is Valentine’s Day’ and he said that we will go for a drive on the morning. So he woke me up at 7.30 a.m. I wore an ordinary cotton shirt and jeans and driver was already there and so we drove to the airport and that too international airport, at the Emirates counter,” she recounted.

Subramaniam coaxed Kavitha to board the aircraft and after reaching Dubai, there was a connecting flight and the picture became clear.

“Guess what? He was taking me to Cairo to see the Pyramids, because just before marriage I had told him that some day I want to see the pyramids. He is like that, he gives me a lot of surprises,” gushed Kavitha.

So any plans to return the favour this Valentine’s Day? Kavitha concedes it’s very challenging to whip something up in return, for her husband.

“He has no time. The only place he wants to go is home because he wants to be with his granddaughter. He is very busy because this is the 70th year of India’s independence and he is writing a lot of music. So not on 13th or 14th but maybe sometime later this year,” the “Pyar Hua Chupke Se” singer said.

Reflecting on 17 years of their marriage, on a more sombre note, she says patience is the biggest virtue in any relationship.

“Learn to have patience. There can’t be any shortcut. It (success) can’t happen in a day. Keep on woking without expecting end results. You have to surrender and suddenly you will see this relationship is working,” she signed-off, adding she hopes her husband gets the Bharat Ratna.

(Sahana Ghosh is in Amravati at the invitation of the Amaravati Global Music and Dance Festival’s organisers. She can be contacted at


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Congress-SP will win in UP: Jitin Prasada (IANS Interview)

Politics/National/North India/Uttar Pradesh

Congress-SP will win in UP: Jitin Prasada (IANS Interview)

By Anand Singh


The Samajwadi Party-Congress grouping is poised to take power in Uttar Pradesh and both parties are gelling well despite minor hiccups, Congress leader Jitin Prasada has said.
Prasada, who could become the Deputy Chief Minister if the alliance takes power, credited Priyanka Gandhi with making possible the electoral tie-up.

The former minister in the UPA government said the alliance would also help the Congress to revive itself across the sprawling and the country’s most populous state where it has been out of power since 1989.

“Our alliance is going to come into power. People are giving overwhelming response to us,” Prasada told IANS in this Uttar Pradesh district that votes on Wednesday with 66 other assembly constituencies in the second phase of assembly elections.

“The reports after the first phase of polling is phenomenal,” said Prasada, who is contesting from Tilhar constituency.

He said that coordination between the activists of the two parties was “impressive”.

Prasada said Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s daughter Priyanka played a key role in stitching together the Congress-SP alliance.

He said the hiccups between the candidates of the two parties in Amethi and Raebareli were aberrations after some Congress workers refused to support two Samajwadi Party nominees.

Defining the alliance with the Samajwadi Party as a “strategic” decision, Prasada said his party would revive itself in all the 403 seats in Uttar Pradesh despite fielding candidates in only 105 constituencies.

“To achieve big goals, some strategy is made. So the decision to contest on 105 seats is a part of the strategic decision to revive the Congress on all the assembly seats in the state.”

The Congress and Samajdwadi Party in January announced to jointly fight the assembly polls that is expected to set the course for the 2019 Lok Sabha battle. Some leaders from both sides have hinted that the alliance will continue for the general election.

The mood outside the Prasada Bhawan in Khirni Bagh area where Prasada lives with his family is festive. His supporters frequently troop in chanting slogans and flashing Congress and Samajwadi Party flags.

Tilhar is represented by BSP’s Roshan Lal Verma, who has shifted to the BJP now and is seeking re-election.

Prasada said the language of BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was defeatist.

“The frustration is visible in their language,” he said, referring to Modi’s “bathing with raincoat on” jibe at former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“The language shows they are losing ground rapidly in the state… We are confident of getting a thumping victory,” said the son of the late Jitendra Prasada, who was political advisor to two Prime Ministers: Rajiv Gandhi and P.V. Narasimha Rao.

Jitin Prasada began his political career in 2001 as a Youth Congress worker. He was first elected to the Lok Sabha from Shahjahanpur in 2004. He won in 2009 from Dhaurahara, near here, and was made a junior minister in the UPA government. He lost the 2014 election in Dhaurahara.

(Anand Singh can be contacted at


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Mayawati’s campaign turns a new leaf in UP

Politics/North India/Uttar Pradesh

Mayawati’s campaign turns a new leaf in UP

By Mohit Dubey


People change with times. In Uttar Pradesh, where voters are being wooed left and right, the most striking election campaign although low profile is of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

Raring to wrest power from arch rival Samajwadi Party (SP), the BSP has changed tack and gone for a different brand of campaign – a departure from its earlier methods.

The BSP has not only got an audio-visual campaign stitched up to tell voters how Mayawati is a harbinger of social change but to remind them of the better law and order in 2007-12 when she was the Chief Minister.

Unlike in the past when the party heavily relied on corner meetings and low profile rallies in rural constituencies, this time it has roped in the likes of Bollywood stars Anil Kapoor to seek support.

The BSP has never been known to woo the media. This time, the party mandarins are not only in touch with journalists but are sending regular press releases in PDF format using WhatsApp, SMS and emails.

The party is also extensively using the social media network, something Mayawati had ridiculed not so long ago.

Candidates have been told to create Facebook pages and twitter handles and keep the ‘tech savvy’ and youths hooked on to the BSP.

The strategists are sending live feeds of speeches of ‘Behenji’. The speeches of the four-time Chief Minister are also posted on Youtube in the new ‘avatar’ of the party.

A party leader said much credit for these changes goes to Rajya Sabha member and Mayawati’s close aide Satish Chandra Mishra, who has been able to get the Dalit leader to embrace all possible avenues to reach out to voters.

Dozens of new age candidates — Paresh Mishra, Afzaal Siddiqui and even retired IPS official like Gurbachan Lal — have their own teams for social networking.

They also keep track of their opponents and devise ways to beat them using technology.

The BSP does not have any official Facebook or Twitter presence and depends on its supporters to expand its base and promote its ideology.

Mayawati has ruled Uttar Pradesh twice with BJP’s legislative support and once in alliance with the Samajwadi Party.

While her three terms were brief and full of upheaval, she had a full five-year term in 2007-12 until the SP stormed to power, led by the young Akhilesh Yadav. The BSP drew a duck in the Lok Sabha polls of 2014.

Determined to return to power, Mayawati is leaving nothing to chance now. This explains the BSP’s new slogans, jingles, TV spots and social media reach out.

Whether the BSP’s new love for technology will fetch her the desired results or not will be known only on March 11 when votes polled in Uttar Pradesh will be counted.

(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at


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20,000 troopers to enhance CISF strength (Exclusive)


20,000 troopers to enhance CISF strength (Exclusive)

By Rajnish Singh

New Delhi:

The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) is inducting 20,000 more personnel this year to further increase the strength of the 1.44 lakh strong force that provides security to key installations including nuclear plants, airports and seaports.

This is part of the government’s January plan when it enhanced the CISF’s strength to 1.80 lakh.

CISF spokesperson Manjit Singh told IANS that 20,000 personnel, including over 1,700 women, have already been selected to undergo a nine-month training programme from April before their induction into the force.

He said it was one of the biggest recruitment drives in CISF history.

“We have recruited 20,000 constables this year. The drive was initiated considering the expansion and fulfilment of existing deficiencies in the force,” Manjit Singh said.

The selection process was completed by the central government’s Staff Selection Commission that is responsible for conducting such examinations.

The CISF is the third largest paramilitary force in India after the Central Reserve Police Force (some three lakh personnel) and the Border Security Force (over 2.70 lakh manpower).

With such a major recruitment in one go, the CISF is struggling to manage training of the new recruits.

It has six training centres as well as a Fire Service Training Institute and a National Industrial Security Academy in Hyderabad. Each centre has a capacity to train around 1,500-2,000 personnel at one time.

The six training centres are at Deoli and Behror in Rajasthan, Mundali in Odisha, Barwaha in Madhya Pradesh, Bhilai in Chhattisgarh and Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu.

The CISF is responsible for providing security at 330 units across India.

These include 59 airports, 12 seaports, Delhi Metro, nuclear reactor plants, space installations, government buildings, monuments, coal mines, steel projects, hydro power projects and several private concerns.

A total of 2,764 personnel were recruited in the CISF in 2016 followed by 3,892 in 2015, 8,826 in 2014, 10,411 in 2013 and 12,500 in 2012.

(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at


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DELHI, Education Environment Health S&T

Delhi sky to remaining clear on Tuesday too, J&K may see rain soon


Delhi sky to remaining clear on Tuesday too, J&K may see rain soon

New Delhi:

Delhi saw another sunny, pleasant day on Monday with the maximum temperature at 24.7 degrees Celsius, two notches above the season’s average, weather officials said. Tuesday is expected to see similar weather.
“The sky would remain clear on Tuesday and there will be shallow fog in the morning,” said an official of the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

According to the IMD forecast, a western disturbance expected on Tuesday, February 14 may lead to rains in Kashmir, but will have no effect on the national capital.

The minimum temperature on Monday was recorded at 8.9 degrees, a notch below the average.

The IMD expects the minimum and maximum temperature to hover around nine and 25 degrees in the National Capital till February 15, after which they are likely to rise.

On Monday, the humidity at 8.30 a.m. was 95 per cent, the weather office said.

Sunday’s maximum temperature was recorded at 24.6 degrees Celsius, two notches above the season’s average while the minimum temperature settled at at 8.4 degrees Celsius, two notches below the season’s average.


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CRIME, World

16 dead as blast hits Lahore protesters


16 dead as blast hits Lahore protesters


At least 16 persons were killed and over 50 others, including media persons, were injured in a strong explosion near the Punjab provincial assembly here on Monday.
The explosion took place at Charing Cross, Mall Road, in Lahore when a large group of chemists and pharmaceutical manufacturers was protesting in front of the assembly complex. There was a significant presence of law enforcers in the area due to the protest.

Deputy Inspector General (Traffic) Lahore Capt (retd) Ahmad Mobin and Senior Superintendent of Police Zahid Mehmood were among the dead, and reports said more casualties were expected among law enforcement personnel who were present at the spot.

Hours earlier, Traffic Police chief had been seen on television mediating with protesters who had gathered at the site.

Capt. Mobin was talking to protesters to call off the protest and clear the area.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, confirming the blast, said the police failed to maintain a high-level security due to massive presence of protesters.

“It is premature to say anything about the nature of the blast and the exact number of injured people,” he added.

Rescue services, including ambulances and fire tenders, have rushed the spot and are shifting the injured to Mayo Hospital and Ganga Ram Hospital.

No group has claimed the responsibility for the attack yet.

Lahore was the site of an Easter Day bombing last year that killed more than 70 persons gathered in a public park.


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Eight killed in Kashmir gunfight, protestors clash with security

Eight killed in Kashmir gunfight, protestors clash with security


Two soldiers, four militants and two civilians were killed in a gunfight in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kulgam district on Sunday, police said. The incident triggered clashes between civilians and security forces, leaving around two dozen people injured.
The fighting erupted after the security personnel surrounded Frisal village in the district following a tip that militants were hiding in a house, police said.

“When the militants were challenged, they fired at the forces, triggering the gunfight,” said a police officer.

The dead included two soldiers from Rashtriya Rifles who were injured in the gunfight and later succumbed to their injuries.

Three civilians and three soldiers were injured in the fighting.

While a civilian, identified as Ashaq Rishi, died earlier on Sunday, another injured civilian, identified as Mushtaq Ahmad, 22, succumbed in hospital taking the death toll in this gunfight to eight.

As news of the civilian deaths spread, angry villagers poured out of their homes and stoned the security forces, who fired in the air and used tear smoke in an attempt to disperse them.

Reports said around two dozen people, including protestors as well as security personnel, were injured in these clashes.

The militants’ bodies were recovered from the site of the gun battle.

Police said the operation had now ended.


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