Showing posts with label india. Show all posts
Showing posts with label india. Show all posts

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Government advises Indians to leave Yemen, after rebels capture southern Seaport Of Aden

The Government of India today issued an advisory asking Indian nationals in Yemen to leave the country in view of the continuing fragile situation there. Of about 3500 Indian nationals in Yemen, nearly 2500 are living in capital Sana'a. "The security situation in Yemen is fragile with high possibility of major conflict and disturbances," Syed Akbaruddin, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson.

Most Indians are employed as nurses in the country, where Houthi Shiite rebels have captured the presidential palace and allegedly forced President Hadi to leave the country. The situation in Yemen remains murky, with Houthi militants claiming capture of in the southern seaport of Aden.
This is a third such advisory of the year.
The government has reiterated its previous advisories of January 21 and March 19, which says, "Indian nationals in Yemen may consider leaving the country on voluntary basis by commercial means, if it is safe to do so."
For those Indians who do not have travel documents or need other consular services, special assistance will be provided at the Indian Embassy in Sana'a. The Indian embassy in Sana'a has set up helplines which can be accessed for information or assistance -- 00-967-734 000 658 and 00-967-734 000 657.
Indian nationals in Yemen have been advised to avoid conflict areas and remain in contact with the embassy officials for advice and updated information on the evolving security situation.
Source NDTV
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Atal Bihari Vajpayee to get Bharat Ratna on March 27

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee will receive Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian honour in the country, on March 27, 2015.

Going against the protocol, President Pranab Mukherjee will visit the ailing 90-year-old veteran BJP leader and confer the award.

Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee:


In December last year the Central government has announced the prestigious award for the Vajpayee and freedom fighter Madan Mohan Malaviya.

Kin of Madan Mohan Malviya will receive the award on March 31, 2015.

Instituted on January 2, 1954, the Bharat Ratna award has been bestowed on 45 individuals so far including 11 who were awarded posthumously.

The award was originally limited to achievements in the field of arts, literature, science and public services but in 2011 the criteria was expanded to accommodate any field of human endeavour. \

Source India Today
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Saturday, 25 October 2014

Slain North Delhi-based businessman was forced to drink acid: Police

Over 48 hours after a North Delhi-based businessman was murdered in Civil Lines area under mysterious circumstances, the Delhi Police is yet to make any breakthrough in the case. Police said the businessman suffered serious burn injuries which led to his death.

According to a police officer, it seems that the businessman was forced to gulp down acid as the doctor who attended on the victim told the police that his mouth "smelled bad".

The deceased, Rajinder, was first found by a judge's servant just a few metres away from Delhi L-G's house. A case of murder has been registered in Civil Lines police station.

"We are uncertain about the sequence of events and the spot where he was burnt. Investigations are on and we have preserved viscera. Also, the post-mortem report will come soon which will clear the exact cause of death," Deputy Commissioner of Police, North district, Madur Verma said.

Cops have checked almost every part of Civil Lines area. Sleuths have visited places where Rajinder used to go. However, nothing has been found, he added.

Meanwhile, cops suspect that Rajinder had made his statement just a few minutes before dying, to the doctor who attended on him.

According to a senior police official, who is investigating the case, said the deceased was first noticed by a servant of a judge. "When the servant saw the deceased he was alive. He also asked for help and told him to call police and seek medical help. He also asked the servant to call his son for help," he said. But the servant told him that he can't help him much as he is already late and his owner is looking for him. But the servant called his son and left the place, the cop added.

"Rajinder's son reached the spot and took him to a nearby hospital. Later, a call was made to the police. The deceased told his son that some people set him on fire and also snatched a few thousand of rupees. Later, when police reached the hospital, they found Rajinder battling for life and not in a position to give any statement. But he told the doctor about the incident and died after 20 minutes," a cop, requesting anonymity, said. According to his last statement he told the doctor that Rs.30,000 was snatched from him and the car was also set on fire. Police have found only Rs.6,000 from his possession, official said.

Rajinder left his home situated in Sadar Bazar around 9 am on Wednesday. He had a fight with his son over a LCD TV, which he purchased recently for Rs.70,000. His son was angry as he wanted to spend Rs.40,000 for the TV.

Later, Rajinder was discovered by the judge's servant around 7 pm in the Civil Lines area. While the cops are clueless about the sequence and other details about the businessman's murder, they are also not ruling out the suicide angle.


SourceIndia Today
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Friday, 8 August 2014

India offers to buy more U.S. helicopters, hopes to drive down costs

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hegel
The Apache gunships and a deal for Chinook helicopters, both built by Boeing, will top the agenda in Hagel's talks with the new administration led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi
New Delhi: India has offered to significantly increase an order for U.S. attack helicopters, Indian officials said, as U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel began a visit to New Delhi on Thursday aimed at boosting defence and strategic ties.
The Apache gunships and a deal for Chinook helicopters, both built by Boeing, will top the agenda in Hagel's talks on Friday with the new administration led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
India has offered a follow-on order of 39 AH-64D Apache helicopters in addition to the 22 now being negotiated, a Defence Ministry official said. The sides have been wrangling over the price of the gunships, however, with the initial deal having been estimated to be worth $1.4 billion.
The two countries have rapidly expanded military and business ties in recent years, despite discord over issues such as intellectual property rights and market access.
Washington is keen to step up cooperation across the board, seeing India as a strategic partner in the face of an increasingly powerful and assertive China.
According to defence research firm IHS Jane's, India was the top foreign buyer of U.S. arms last year. An Apache deal would be the first big military contract since Modi's government took office in May.
Hagel's trip follows one by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry last week and is part of the build-up to talks between Modi and President Barack Obama in Washington in September.
Hagel's talks will also cover military exercises and co-production and co-development of armaments and the renewal of a 10-year defence cooperation agreement that runs until 2015.
Hagel said the purpose of his visit went beyond arms sales.
"Our interests are varied and common - stability, security, economics, possibilities, freedom," he said en route to India. "I'll be there, working, yes, our specific issues, but it's larger ... than that."
"WE NEED PARTNERS"
Hagel said Asia-Pacific was a region of great opportunities, but also of challenges. "We need partners. We need relationships. That's the kind of world we live in, and that's the kind of world that we're going to be living in."
Speaking to reporters on his plane, Hagel was asked about India's apparent reluctance to be seen as a full U.S. ally and he replied that Washington was "mindful" of India's tradition as a independent, non-aligned state.
"We're not trying to change that," he said. "But...we have common interests, and...we think there's more potential to build on those common interests."
U.S. officials say there is the potential for billions of dollars of new arms sales in the next few years and hope Modi can overcome bureaucratic obstacles that have held up some.
Last month, India's cabinet cleared a proposal to allow 49 percent foreign participation in the defence industry, up from a current cap of 26 percent.
Hagel said he would be looking at whether there would be the potential to go beyond 49 per cent something U.S. defence firms want before allowing technology transfers India craves.
The initial batch of Apache helicopters is meant to replace the Indian Air Force's ageing fleet of Soviet-era aircraft and will be armed with Hellfire and Stinger missiles.
The Indian Army has separately requested a fleet of at least 39 of these attack aircraft, some of which will be deployed as part of a new mountain division it is raising along the disputed border with China, an army official said.
"The point is we are looking at 60 to 70 pieces eventually, so the expectation is the vendor will factor that in, in the price negotiations," said the defence ministry official, who asked not to be identified in line with ministry policy.
U.S. defence sales to India have grown from the low hundreds of millions of dollars in the decade to 2008 to more than $9 billion since that year.
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Friday, 1 August 2014

India's demands block $1 trillion WTO deal on customs rules

World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Roberto Azevedo gestures during a news conference on world trade in 2013 and prospect for 2014 in Geneva April 14, 2014.
The World Trade Organization failed on Thursday to reach a deal to standardise customs rules, which would have been the first global trade reform in two decades but was blocked by India's demands for concessions on agricultural stockpiling. "We have not been able to find a solution that would allow us to bridge that gap," WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo told trade diplomats in Geneva just two hours before the final deadline for a deal. "Of course it is true that everything remains in play until midnight, but at present there is no workable solution on the table, and I have no indication that one will be forthcoming." The deadline passed without a breakthrough. WTO ministers had already agreed the global reform of customs procedures known as "trade facilitation" last December, but it needed to be put into the WTO rule book by July 31. Most diplomats saw that as rubber-stamping a unique success in the WTO's 19 year history, which according to some estimates would add $1 trillion and 21 million jobs to the world economy, so they were shocked when India unveiled its veto. Trade experts say Thursday's failure is likely to end the era of trying to cobble together global trade agreements and to accelerate efforts by smaller groups of like-minded nations to liberalise trade among themselves. India has been vocal in opposing such moves, making its veto even more surprising. "Today’s developments suggest that there is little hope for truly global trade talks to take place," said Jake Colvin at the National Foreign Trade Council, a leading U.S. business group. "The vast majority of countries who understand the importance of modernizing trade rules and keeping their promises will have to pick up the pieces and figure out how to move forward." Some nations have already discussed a plan to exclude India from the agreement and push ahead regardless, and the International Chamber of Commerce urged officials to "make it happen." “Our message is clear. Get back to the table, save this deal and get the multilateral trade agenda back on the road to completion sooner rather than later,” ICC Secretary General John Danilovich said. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, on a visit to New Delhi, had earlier said he was hopeful that differences between India and much of the rest of the world could be resolved. But after Azevedo's speech, U.S. Ambassador to the WTO Michael Punke was downbeat. "We're obviously sad and disappointed that a very small handful of countries were unwilling to keep their commitments from the December conference in Bali, and we agree with the Director-General that that action has put this institution on very uncertain new ground," Punke told reporters. India had insisted that, in exchange for signing the trade facilitation agreement, it must see more progress on a parallel pact giving it more freedom to subsidise and stockpile food grains than is allowed by WTO rules. It got support from Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia. India's new nationalist government has insisted that a permanent agreement on its subsidised food stockpiling must be in place at the same time as the trade facilitation deal, well ahead of a 2017 target set last December in Bali. Kerry, whose visit to India was aimed at revitalising bilateral ties but was overshadowed by the standoff, said the United States understood India's position that it needs to provide food security for its poor but India would lose out if it refused to maintained its veto. DEAL WITHOUT INDIA? Diplomats say India could technically attract a trade dispute if it caused the deal to collapse, although nobody wanted to threaten legal action at this stage. The summer break will give diplomats time to mull options, including moving ahead without India. Technical details would still have to be ironed out, but there was a "credible core group" that would be ready to start talking about a such a deal in September, a source involved in the discussions said. "What began as a murmur has become a much more active discussion in Geneva and I think that there are a lot of members in town right now that have reached the reluctant conclusion that that may be the only way to go," he said. An Australian trade official with knowledge of the talks said a group of countries including the United States, European Union, Australia, Japan, Canada and Norway began discussing the possibility in Geneva on Wednesday afternoon. New Delhi cannot be deliberately excluded, since that would mean other countries slowing down containers destined for India, but if it becomes a "free-rider" it will add another nail in the coffin of attempts to hammer out global trade reform. Trade diplomats had previously said they were reluctant to consider the idea of the all-but-India option, but momentum behind the trade facilitation pace means it may be hard to stop. Many countries, including China and Brazil, have already notified the WTO of steps they plan to take to implement the customs accord immediately. Other nations have begun bringing the rules into domestic law, and the WTO has set up a funding mechanism to assist. But WTO head Azevedo said he feared that while major economies had options open to them, the poorest would be left behind. "If the system fails to function properly then the smallest nations will be the biggest losers," he said. "It would be a tragic outcome for those economies — and therefore a tragic outcome for us all."
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Thursday, 17 July 2014

Woman doctor stripped for complaining against mid-day meal food quality in Bangalore(India)

Bangalore - the world's second largest IT cluster - is considered to be one of the safest cities in the country. However, the flip side of India's Silicon Valley was yet again exposed recently when a woman doctor was stripped on the city's outskirts and a 22-year-old student was molested in a moving car. The shocking incidents created a furore in the ongoing Assembly session with elected representatives cutting across the party lines questioning the credibility of the city police. Last week, a woman doctor working on the outskirts of Bangalore was allegedly stripped by a mob in the presence of the local gram panchayat chief after she allegedly complained about the poor quality of food being served under mid-day meals scheme. Subsequently, a departmental probe was ordered on the same and the gram panchayat forced her to become the prime witness. However, when she denied having made any official complaint on the quality of food, the gram panchayat chief reportedly directed the villagers to take her to task. On July 7, a mob of 100 people barged into the government-run health care centre and dragged her out and stripped her. Her assistant was also manhandled. Though she lodged a complaint with the Nelamangala police, no action has been initiated so far. In a separate incident, a 22-year-old student was allegedly molested in a moving car on July 11. The incident took place when she was returning home with her friend in Frazer Town on Friday night. They were stopped by a six-member gang travelling in another car midway. They allegedly forced her into their car and molested her while a few others kept her friend at bay. The duo was released past midnight. The next day, the victim's friends managed to catch hold of the culprits in the same area and handed them to the police. However, the victim said, the police asked her to tone down her complaint by removing words like "kidnap" and "sexual assault". Though she volunteered to undergo medical tests, police opposed it terming it as a trivial incident. Apparently, the prime accused, Hyder Nasir (28), is the son of a local BSP leader Sheikh Bahadur, for which the police tried to protect him. After the incident was reported in the local media, the government placed the Frazer Town police inspector under suspension and directed the jurisdiction DCP to register the case afresh. Karnataka Assembly Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa directed the state government to transfer police officers, who have overstayed their tenure in their particular posts, in Bangalore. "These police officers have godfathers among politicians. Unless we transfer such officers, the government will continue to face such situations," the speaker added.
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Thursday, 3 July 2014

Delhi to Agra in 90 minutes: Trial run of India's semi bullet train held


Delhi-Agra High Speed Train
Railways held a trial run on Thursday of a train at a speed of 160kmph on the Delhi-Agra route as it looks to launch a semi-high speed service between the two destinations in November. Equipped with an electric locomotive of 5400HP, the train will began its test journey at 10 A.M. on Thursday from New Delhi Station with Commissioner Railway Safety PK Vajpayee, Divisional Railway Managers (DRM) of Delhi and Agra Divisions and other senior officials involved with the semi-high speed project on board. RPF personnel will be deployed along the route to ensure that the trial run goes off smoothly. There are about 16 speed restriction areas and curves on the Delhi-Agra route which are being upgraded to improve the speed, he said. Currently, the Bhopal Shatabdi runs at speeds of up to a maximum of 150kmph on that route. The train would come as a boon for tourists visiting Taj Mahal as the travel time between Delhi and Agra is expected to come down to 90 minutes from the current 120 minutes. The state transporter is making the semi-high speed train -- the first of its kind in the railways -- operational using its own resources. It is estimated that a cost of Rs.15 crore would be incurred to make the track ready for the semi-high speed train, said a senior Railway Ministry official involved with the project. There will be fencing for a stretch of 27-km along the track between Delhi and Agra to prevent obstruction and ensure speed. After the Delhi to Agra service, Railways will run similar trains for Kanpur and Chandigarh from the national capital.
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Sunanda Pushkar death: Centre considering CBI probe

Sunanda Pushkar and Shashi Tharoor

Close on the heels of the startling allegations made by a senior All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) doctor that there was political pressure on him to change the autopsy report of former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor's wife Sunanda Pushkar, the Centre is considering a CBI probe of her mysterious death, said reports. The Delhi Police has failed to make any headway into the case even after five-and-a-half months. On Monday, reports emerged that Dr Sudhir Gupta, head of the AIIMS forensic department, had filed an affidavit before Central Administrative Tribunal in a service matter in which he had levelled the allegation. On Wednesday, the hospital quickly moved to control damage and debunked Dr. Gupta's claim. Rejecting the charge of Sudhir Gupta, who headed a three- member team that conducted the post-mortem on the body of Pushkar, who died in mysterious circumstances in a hotel in January, the AIIMS said it "categorically denies" his claim. AIIMS spokespersons Amit Gupta and Neerja Bhatla said there was no evidence that any pressure from outside was put on him (Sudhir Gupta) to alter the autopsy report. Reacting to media reports, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said he has sought a detailed report from AIIMS Director in the wake of Sudhir Gupta's charge. With police probe into Pukshar's sensational death still on, Tharoor sought "clear and definitive conclusion" about the cause of her demise. On his part, Delhi Police Commission B S Bassi said the police would examine Gupta and Tharoor if necessary. Sunanda post mortem: AIIMS forensic head sticks to stand The head of the AIIMS' forensic department on Thursday stuck to his controversial claim that pressure was brought on him to manipulate the post mortem report on Shashi Tharoor's wife Sunanda Pushkar A day after the premier health insitute denied his claim, Dr Sudhir Gupta said, "I stand by what I said". "How do they know there is no pressure on me? Who were they to clarify that there is no pressure on me? What was the hurry to call a press conference?," he said. He was asked about AIIMS rejecting allegations levelled by him. "Not only the post mortem of Sunanda Pushkar but in a number of cases, post mortem reports were finalised by me as per the principle and practise of medicine and as per its ethical and legal norm. I have never succumbed to any pressure in my life," Gupta said. He said all his reports are bonafide. Rejecting the charge of Gupta, who headed a three- member team that did the post morten on the body of Pushkar, who died in mysterious circumstances in a hotel in January this year, AIIMS had said there was no evidence that any pressure from outside was put on him (Sudhir Gupta) to alter the autopsy report. Sunanda (52) was found dead in a 5-star hotel in South Delhi on the night of January 17, a day after her twitter spat with Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar over an alleged affair with Tharoor. The autopsy report had mentioned more than a dozen injury marks on Sunanda's both hands and an abrasion on her cheek which suggests a "use of blunt force", besides a "deep teeth bite" on the edge of her left palm. Viscera samples were preserved after the autopsy at AIIMS and were sent to CFSL for further tests. The CFSL report hinted at drug poisoning but its findings were not conclusive enough to file an FIR in the case, according to police.
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Mumbai lawyer Pallavi Purkayastha's killer likely to be sentenced today

A Mumbai court is today likely to sentence a man found guilty of assaulting, molesting and killing young lawyer Pallavi Purkayastha in her flat in 2012.
22-year-old Sajjad Ahmed Mughal, who was employed as a watchman at the 'Himalayan Heights' building was found guilty of murder, molestation and criminal trespass.
Convicting Mughal, Sessions Judge Vrushali Joshi had said, "A case of murder, molestation and criminal trespass has been proved against you" following which the accused silently nodded.
Pallavi Purkayastha

Meanwhile, special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam had requested the court that a future date may be given to hear the arguments as well as quantum of sentence after which the Judge adjourned the hearing in the case till July 3.
The accused killed 25-year-old city-based lawyer Pallavi Purkayastha in her flat at suburban Wadala on August 9, 2012 when she resisted his advances.
Prosecution has examined 40 witnesses while the defence examined three in the case.
The Crime Branch had filed a 434-page charge sheet on October 30, 2012 against Mughal charging him with trespass and murder.
Earlier, the prosecution had submitted a draft charge against Mughal, accused of murdering the law graduate, who was also an advisor to filmmaker Farhan Akhtar's firm Excel Entertainment, accusing him of attempting to rape.
However, Mughal refuted all the allegations and his lawyer Wahab Khan had argued that it was Pallavi's fiancee Avik Sengupta who killed her in their flat.
Police had claimed that Mughal, a native of Jammu and Kashmir, used to ogle at the young lawyer, the daughter of IAS officer Atanu Purkayastha, who was the joint secretary in the Agriculture Ministry at the Centre when the incident took place.
In his statement to police, Mughal had said that he sneaked into Pallavi's flat on August 9 using a set of duplicate keys and tried to force himself upon her.
"However, when I forced myself upon her, she resisted and started screaming and at this time I assaulted her with my knife that I was carrying," Mughal had said in his statement.
Speaking to reporters outside the court after the conviction, Pallavi's family demanded death for Mughal.
The victim's father Atanu said, "Two families have been devastated. Death and nothing less than death (should be given). A positive message will go in the society if death is given."
Seconding the demand for death penalty, Pallavi's mother Sumita, Director General with the Ministry of Telecommunication, said, "For two years, my and Avik's family have gone through a lot of trauma. I have lost my daughter and would be son-in law."


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Indra Nooyi says, women cannot have it all

PepsiCo's India-born CEO Indra Nooyi, counted among the world's most powerful women, acknowledged that it is difficult to maintain a work-life balance and women cannot "have it all", saying she doubts that her daughters think she was a good mother.
"I don't think women can have it all. I just don't think so. We pretend we have it all. We pretend we can have it all," 58-year-old Nooyi said in frank remarks at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado this week when asked if she feels whether women can have it all.
Nooyi, who is regularly ranked by Forbes and other publications as among the most powerful women in the world, said she has died "with guilt" several times as she tried to bring up her two daughters with her husband of 34 years.
Nooyi recounted that she felt guilty for not being able to attend several?activities at her daughters' school as she could not take time off from work.
"Every day you have to make a decision about whether you are going to be a wife or a mother, in fact many times during the day you have to make those decisions. And you have to co-opt a lot of people to help you. We co-opted our families to help us. We plan our lives meticulously so we can be decent parents. But if you ask our daughters, I'm not sure they will say that I've been a good mom. I'm not sure. And I try all kinds of coping mechanisms," she said.
The times that Nooyi could not be there for her daughters, "I would die with guilt," she said, adding that gradually she learnt to cope with the situation.

"You have to cope, because you die with guilt. You just die with guilt. My observation is that the biological clock and the career clock are in totalconflict with each other. Total, complete conflict. When you have to have kids you have to build your career. Just as you're rising to middle management your kids need?you because they're teenagers, they need you for the teenage years," Nooyi said.
"And that's the time your husband becomes a teenager too, so he needs you. They need you too. What do you do  And as you grow even more, your parents need you because they're aging. So we're screwed. We have no, we cannot have it all," said Nooyi, who is the fifth CEO in PepsiCo's 44-year history.
Nooyi also recounted the day 14 years ago when she was told that she would be made president of PepsiCo and be named to the board of directors.
"I was overwhelmed, because look at my background and where I came from to be president of an iconic American company and to be on the board of directors, I thought something special had happened to me."
But Nooyi said she was disappointed at her mother's reaction to her "great news." She said her mother told her "let the news wait. Can you go out and get some milk."
Nooyi recalled her mother telling her, "let me explain something to you. You might be president of PepsiCo. You might be on the board of directors. But when you enter this house, you're the wife, you're the daughter, you're the daughter-in-law, you're the mother. You're all of that. Nobody else can take that place. So leave that damned crown in the garage. And don't bring it into the house. You know I've never seen that crown."

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Bombay Stock Exchange shuts all markets due to network outage


Shares listed on India's benchmark exchange BSE as well as its indexes have stopped updating on Thursday morning due to a connectivity issue, a spokesman for the bourse operator told Reuters.
"There are some connectivity issues. We are issuing a statement soon", the BSE spokesman told Reuters over the phone.
Earlier, multiple dealers had told Reuters share prices in the BSE were not updating.
The exchange also said all previous orders in the order book before network outage will get cancelled.

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Monday, 30 June 2014

India's Modi eyes first labor overhaul in decades to create jobs

A labourer cuts an iron rod at the construction site of a flyover on the outskirts of the western Indian city of Ahmedabad June 24, 2014.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set in motion the first major revamp in decades of India's archaic labor laws, part of a plan to revive the flagging economy, boost manufacturing and create millions of jobs. Successive governments have agreed labor reform is critical to absorb 200 million Indians reaching working age over the next two decades, but fears of an ugly union-led backlash and partisan politics have prevented changes to free up labor markets. Now, with the benefit of a single party majority in the lower house of parliament for the first time in 30 years, laws that date back to just after the end of British rule are set for an overhaul. Officials at the labor ministry say this is a top priority in the government's first 100 days in office. India has a forest of labor laws, including anachronisms such as providing spittoons in the work place, and are so complex that most firms choose to stay small. In 2009, 84 percent of India's manufacturers employed fewer than 50 workers, compared to 25 percent in China, according to a study this year by consultancy firm McKinsey & Co. The World Bank said in a 2014 report that India has one of the most rigid labor markets in the world and "although the regulations are meant to enhance the welfare of workers, they often have the opposite effect by encouraging firms to stay small and thus circumvent labor laws". Business leaders hope Modi, who advocates smaller government and private enterprise, will be a liberalizer in the mould of Margaret Thatcher or Ronald Reagan. Perhaps the most important change, they say, is to rules making it hard to dismiss workers. First up, though, to win public support, his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government is looking to make changes that benefit workers, three senior officials at the labor ministry said. Among the changes: making more workers eligible for minimum wages, increasing overtime hours and allowing women to do night shifts. "We are trying to provide a hassle free environment that helps both workers and industry," a senior labor ministry official involved in the deliberations said. "It is a priority for us." Next on the reform agenda will be the most sensitive issue of loosening strict hire and fire rules. Officials said they have begun preliminary talks with concerned groups about slowly implementing the changes. "There is a definite push ... you will see more measures," said another official at the ministry who is privy to the discussions within the government. REFORMS KEY TO MANUFACTURING JOBS India's 20-year streak of fast economic expansion is often derided as "jobless growth" since the service sector-led model has been capital rather than labor intensive. India does not produce reliable, regular jobless data, but long-term surveys by the statistics department show the country only created 5 million manufacturing jobs between 2004/5 and 2011/12. In the same period some 33 million people left farms looking for better paid work. The majority were absorbed into low productivity and irregular work on construction sites. Moreover, research suggests India needs 12 million new jobs every year to absorb the largest youth bulge the world has ever seen. It has fallen far behind that target. Companies complain that current laws requiring rarely granted government permission for layoffs make it impossible to respond to business downturns, and blame the laws for the country's relatively small manufacturing sector. Manufacturing contributes just 15 percent to India's nearly $2 trillion economy. New Delhi says it wants to lift that share to 25 percent within a decade to help create 100 million jobs. Comparatively, manufacturing accounted for 45 percent of China's GDP in 2012. "If business cycles are volatile, the ability to downsize and upsize should be freely available," said R. Shankar Raman, chief financial officer at Larsen & Toubro (LART.NS), one of India's biggest conglomerates. In what is seen as a test for Modi's labor reform agenda and is intended to inspire other states, Rajasthan this month proposed amendments to the federal law to allow firms in the northern state to lay off up to 300 workers without government permission. Currently, clearance is required to fire more than 100 workers and this is rarely granted. LABOR MILITANCY DECLINES Labor unions cutting across party affiliations have opposed the state government's move and have asked Modi to intervene. The BJP's own union has called a meeting of its officials early next month to chalk out a strategy to protest what it said was a lack of consultation over the shake up in Rajasthan. Since almost all the unions in India have political affiliations, their opposition to reforms has a risk of turning into a full-scale political agitation. But the risk that the reforms could also bring full-blown street protests similar to that seen in Thatcher's Britain are unlikely. Labor militancy has declined in India, although sporadic violent protests like one at a Maruti Suzuki <(MRTI.NS) factory in 2012 which resulted in a death of a company official are enough to make policymakers wary on the pace of reform. The labor ministry has asked for public comments by early July on the changes it plans to the Minimum Wages Act, which sets minimum wages for skilled and unskilled labours, and the Factory Act, which governs health and safety. The proposed changes would standardize minimum wages nationally while increasing the frequency of salary revisions based on consumer prices. Although potentially inflationary, the move could bring millions of workers into the formal economy. The ministry also wants to extend the amount of overtime workers can clock and scrap a 1948 rule that prohibits women working at night in factories, suggestions that have been welcomed by both labor groups and employers.
-Reuters
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Friday, 20 June 2014

Now govt says use of Hindi on social media only in Hindi-speaking states


Facing criticism from various sections, government on Friday said the use of Hindi on social media is only for states speaking the language and is not being imposed on non-Hindi-speaking states. "Use of Hindi on government of India?s social media platforms is only for Hindi-speaking states. Hindi is not being imposed on non-Hindi-speaking states," an official spokesperson said. "Existing policy on Hindi reiterated for official social media platforms," the spokesperson said. The clarification came after two Home Ministry circulars seeking to promote official language Hindi in the social media sparked a controversy with southern Indian state Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, two of Bharatiya Janata Party's allies and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) opposing it strongly. Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat also opposed any move to impose Hindi while in Odisha assembly a member's attempt to put a question in Hindi was disallowed by the Chair. The Home Ministry's official language department had issued a circular on May 27 asking all Ministries and Departments, public sector undertakings and banks to give prominence to Hindi on official accounts in social media. "All officers and employees who operate official accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Google, Youtube should use Hindi and English languages. Prominence should be given to Hindi," Director, official language, Avadesh Kumar Mishra wrote in the directive. Another circular had announced prize money of Rs.2,000 to two employees who do their official work mostly in Hindi. Rs.1,200 and Rs.600 will be given to the second and third position holders respectively.
Source India Today
 
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India nuke enrichment plant expansion operational in 2015: IHS

(Reuters) - India is expanding a covert uranium enrichment plant that could potentially support the development of thermonuclear weapons, a defence research group said on Friday, raising the stakes in an arms race with China and Pakistan. The revelation highlights a lack of nuclear safeguards on India under new Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while sanctions-bound Iran faces minute scrutiny in talks with world powers over its own nuclear programme. New units at the Indian Rare Metals Plant would increase India's ability to produce weapons-grade uranium to twice the amount needed for its planned nuclear-powered submarine fleet, IHS Jane's said. The facility, located near Mysore in southern India, could be operational by mid-2015, the research group said, basing its findings on analysis of satellite imagery and public statements by Indian officials. "Taking into account all the enriched uranium likely to be needed by the Indian nuclear submarine fleet, there is likely to be a significant excess," Matthew Clements, editor of IHS Jane's Intelligence Review, told Reuters. "One potential use of this would be for the development of thermonuclear weapons." No comment was available from the Indian government press office or the foreign ministry. Unlike Iran, India is not a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. New Delhi tested its first nuclear weapon in 1974, provoking international sanctions that barred it from importing nuclear technology and materials. It conducted tests again in 1998 that drew a quick response from Pakistan, triggering an arms race between the neighbours, who have fought three wars since independence in 1947. A civil nuclear cooperation deal with the United States, sealed in 2008, gave India access to know-how and fuel in return for a pledge - so far unfulfilled - to bring in U.S. firms to expand India's nuclear power generation capacity. The pact exempts military facilities and stockpiles of nuclear fuel from scrutiny by the International Atomic Energy Agency, a United Nations watchdog. The Mysore plant is not subject to IAEA safeguards. The exemption, granted by the administration of President George W. Bush, faced opposition from China and Pakistan, India's regional rivals, and European nations who said it would undermine efforts to control the spread of nuclear weapons. SATELLITE VIEW Based on its analysis of commercial satellite images, IHS Jane's has identified what appears to be a new uranium hexafluoride plant that would increase the uranium enrichment capacity of the Mysore facility. The plant would be able to produce a surplus of around 160 kilos a year of uranium enriched to 90 percent purity, IHS Jane's reckons. That is roughly double the needs of the nuclear submarine fleet India is developing to supplement its land-based missile arsenal - and enough to make five atomic bombs. By blending the uranium with its existing stock of plutonium, India could develop thermonuclear weapons that have a complex detonation process and have a bigger impact than simpler weapons. "We aren't suggesting that this action alone will create an immediate standoff, but it's going to create a further level of complexity in an already difficult situation," said Clements, referring to the regional security implications. The IHS findings have been corroborated by other analysts, with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) writing this week that the Mysore facility could signify India's intent to move towards thermonuclear weapons. India is estimated by SIPRI to hold 90 to 110 nuclear weapons in its arsenal. The IHS assessment revealed incremental progress at Mysore since the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), in a report last December, identified the construction of a new gas centrifuge plant. India's new Arihant class of submarine is assessed to have an 80-megawatt onboard reactor that contains around 65 kg of uranium. One submarine is operational, a second is being built and a third is planned, according to ISIS. NO FIRST USE Modi, leader of the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, has sought to assert New Delhi's regional leadership in his first weeks in office while seeking to engage with major powers such as the United States and China. But, although he invited Pakistan's prime minister to his inauguration, Modi has made clear that any rapprochement would require a halt to occasional military clashes on the de facto frontier of the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir. Before Modi's landslide general election victory last month, sources close to his party had suggested India might abandon its 'no first use' nuclear doctrine, which committed it to refrain from any pre-emptive strike. Modi later denied any planned shift and vowed to uphold 'no first use', a signature policy of India's last BJP prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who ordered the 1998 nuclear tests.
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Sunday, 15 June 2014

India's Modi visits Bhutan on first step of bid to reassert regional sway

Prime Minister Narendra Modi takes his oath at the presidential palace in New Delhi May 26, 2014.
(Reuters) - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi begins on Sunday his first visit abroad since taking office, arriving in Bhutan to launch a drive to reassert Indian influence in the region, offering financial and technical help and the lure of a huge market. The tiny Buddhist nation, wedged in the Himalayas between India and China, is the closest India has to an ally in South Asia, a region of bristling rivalry where China is making inroads. While India has been struggling recently with policy paralysis and a slowing economy, China has been building ports in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and in its "all-weather ally" Pakistan. China overtook India as the biggest foreign investor in Nepal in the first six months of this year. Modi's Hindu nationalist party has vowed to end the neglect of neighbors and in an unprecedented gesture, he invited all regional leaders to his inauguration last month. On Sunday, Modi will lay the foundation of a 600 MW hydroelectric power station in Bhutan and inaugurate a parliament building constructed by India. "Bhutan and India share a very special relationship that has stood the test of time," Modi said before his departure for Bhutan's capital, Thimphu, which is nestled in mountains and was for centuries closed to outsiders. "Thus, Bhutan was a natural choice for my first visit abroad." In the longer term, Modi's government aims to make India the dominant foreign investor across South Asia as well as the main provider of infrastructure loans, in the same way China has done in much of the rest of Asia and in Africa. Consolidating ties with difficult neighbors like Pakistan and Bangladesh could reduce poverty and transform regional security relationships, Indian officials say. "Although India would like to have a greater say in South Asian matters beyond trade, so far we have not been able to exercise substantial political clout," said P.D. Rai, a member of India's parliament from the Sikkim state, which shares a border with Bhutan. "Modi's first visit to Bhutan will have to be looked at in this light." 'PLEASANT SURPRISE' India's neighbors have responded enthusiastically to Modi's overtures. His Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, overcame resistance at home to attend the inauguration even though political ties remain fragile and marked by deep distrust. On Sunday, giant portraits of Modi and his Bhutanese counterpart, Tshering Tobgay, were strung up along a mountain highway with switchback bends that Modi will take from the airport to Thimphu. He opted to go by road instead of by helicopter. School children gathered early on the tree-lined route as prayer flags tied high on poles fluttered in the wind. Beyond them rose dark slopes where people looked out from homes and monasteries clinging to unlikely perches. "Given that India has so many competing priorities and that the newly elected prime minister could have visited any other country, it did come as a pleasant surprise," Tobgay said in an interview with The Hindu newspaper on Saturday. Bhutan, the size of Switzerland and with a population of 750,000, has only recently emerged from centuries of isolation. Its first road was built in 1962 and television and the Internet arrived in 1999. It is the world's first country to monitor gross national happiness an alternative to gross domestic product, to balance a tentative embrace of modernity with an effort to preserve traditions. But Bhutan, which the made the transition from absolute monarchy to parliamentary democracy in 2008, is struggling with high unemployment and a growing national debt. The government that took power 2012 says rather than talk about the happiness index, it wants to focus on obstacles to happiness. (Editing by Robert Birsel)
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Wednesday, 4 June 2014

MH370 crashed close to India?


Australian researchers on Wednesday said they have detected a low-frequency underwater noise off India's southern tip at about the time MH370 mysteriously disappeared, as a British woman sailing from Kochi to Phuket in March claimed that she may have seen the plane on fire. The researchers detected the mysterious noise, possibly that of an ocean impact, recorded by two undersea receivers in the Indian Ocean about the time the Malaysia Airlines plane ceased satellite transmissions and vanished on March 8 with 239 people on board. The researchers released an audio recording today of the underwater sound that they say could possibly be related to the final moments of the missing Boeing 777. "It's not even really a thump sort of a sound ? it's more of a dull oomph," Alec Duncan, a senior marine science research fellow at Curtin University near Perth, who has led the research, told The New York Times. The general vicinity from which the noise emanated is a large area of the central Indian Ocean off the southern tip of India and about 3,000 miles northwest of Australia. But that is not consistent with calculations of an arc of possible locations in the southeastern Indian Ocean where the plane might have run out of fuel. Those calculations were from Inmarsat, the global satellite communications company. Scientists have struggled to figure out the origin of the noise. "If you ask me what's the probability this is related to the flight, without the satellite data it's 25 or 30 per cent, but that's certainly worth taking a very close look at," Duncan said. Adding to the uncertainty surrounding the plane's possible final location, a British woman sailing with her husband across the Indian Ocean from Kerala's port city of Kochi to Phuket in Thailand has claimed she may have seen the plane on fire. Katherine Tee, 41, reported on Sunday to the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) that is leading the MH370 search that she was on night-watch on the couple's 40-feet boat when flight MH370 vanished. The couple have since re-checked their sailing logs and believe they were near one of the projected flight paths for the aircraft, now missing for nearly three months. Tee, who was at sea for 13 months, said she did not report the sighting at the time because of marital issues and because she feared being mistaken. "I saw something that looked like a plane on fire. Then I thought I must be mad. It caught my attention because I had never seen a plane with orange lights before so I wondered what they were...," she told the Phuket Gazette. Media reports said Australian authorities were looking at Tee's claim.
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Google search will show Badaun-type incidents in other places too: Akhilesh Yadav


Under intense criticism over Badaun gangrape and murder incident, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav today said a Google search would show such crimes occuring across the country. Yadav made the assertion as he accused the media of playing up incidents taking place in UP. "When such incidents occur it is publicised a lot...Such incidents don't occur only in UP and if I give you statistics across the country you will again ask me questions. It's Google era. If you go online and check you will see where else such incidents occur," he told reporters after a Cabinet meeting. The Chief Minister raised a question as to whether the national media highlighted a similar crime in Bangalore in the same manner as the Badaun case. "When a similar crime happened in Bangalore, did the national media broadcast the story they way they highlighted the UP case. Incidents are taking place in Madhya Pradesh. I have got information that chain of a member of a big minister was snatched near her home. Rajasthan is before you. Only UP is visible and this is more visible to cunning people," he added. Yadav said the state government has taken action whether it is the Badaun case or any other similar incidents. "Badaun or any other incidents in the state, the government has taken stern action on them. In Badaun whatever steps the government could take, it took. Decision on CBI inquiry has also been taken. Wherever incident took place in the state, action has been taken," Akhilesh said. On June one, Akhilesh snapped at a reporter in Kanpur when he asked about the law and order situation in the state against the backdrop of the Badaun case and the Azamgarh gangrape incident. "I hope you have not faced any danger," shot back Akhilesh. When the journalist said, "No", the Chief Minister's response was, "Thank you. You should propagate this." PTI AVA DB GSN
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Pune techie beaten to death amid protests over Facebook posts


A group of men beat to death a young IT professional from a minority community in Pune on Monday as protests and violence raged in Maharashtra over derogatory Facebook posts pertaining to Chhatrapati Shivaji and Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray.
A newspaper report identified the victim as 22-year-old Mohsin Shaikh from Solapur.
Maharashtra Police arrested seven people on Tuesday for the attack.
The accused are allegedly associated with the Hindu Rashtra Sena, said the report.
The killing came a day after Shiv Sena activists protested in Maharashtra over the Facebook posts.
Scores of public buses, private vehicles, shops and establishments were pelted with stones and damaged in Pune, Kolhapur, Solapur and other parts of western Maharashtra, reported IANS.
Angry Shiv Sainiks demanded that the objectionable posts be removed from the social networking site even as Mumbai police registered a case against unidentified persons for posting the matter.
Many parts of Pune, Solapur, Kolhapur and north-eastern Mumbai had observed a spontaneous shutdown on Sunday.
The protests started on Saturday with the blocking of the Mumbai-Pune Expressway for several hours, but the situation was described as "under control" by Sunday evening.
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Horrified at reports of violence against women in India: US

From Lalit K Jha

Washington, Jun 4 (PTI)
The United States has said it is "horrified" at reports of sexual violence and murders in India and it also applauded the role of individuals, government officials and civil society groups working to protect the survivors.

"Like so many in India, we were horrified to learn of these violent sexual assaults and murders. Our thoughts are with the victims families during this difficult time," State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said yesterday.
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IBL a game changer in badminton: Sanjay Sharma

Hyderabad, Jun 4 (PTI) The launch of the IPL-style league in badminton last year was a huge boost to lift the profile of the shuttle sport in the country, says former international Sanjay Sharma.

"IBL has changed the format of badminton in India.

While cricket has become an industry, we have remained at the sporting level.
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