April 20, 2012
Just in: Fire at Stephen court, Kolkata. Fire engines have been rushed to the spot.
PM's chief economic advisor, Kaushik Basu, clarifies: My opinion not necessarily that of the government.
Couple of essays you can curl up with over the weekend.
The longform guide to fatherhood: Evil dads, hero dads, and a few dads in between. Read
The Penge Mystery: The murder of Harriet Staunton: On a Victorian-era murder case, and the novel it inspired. Read.
How my aunt marge ended up in the deep freeze: The real-life events that inspired the new Richard Linklater dark comedy Bernie. Read
The government's chief economic advisor, Kaushik Basu, is trending.
Shankkar Aiyar @ShankkarAiyar Kaushik Basu may need protection under Whistleblowers Act:)@bibekdebroy
And a story that's been told often enough... Read
Thousands of protesters have gathered in Cairo's downtown Tahrir Square, demanding that Egypt's ruling military council hand over power to civilians. Rival political parties of Islamists and liberal youth groups joined ranks despite months of bitter disputes and accusations. Read
Pictured: The first protests at Tahrir Square in February 2011 that ultimately led to the ouster of president Hosni Mubarak
Bechara Abhishek Manu Singhvi. The opposition wants him to 'come clean', his own party just wants him to disappear, and the jokes keep coming: Guess this is why Singhvi is a member of the Parliamentary standing committee. Ha, ha, ha! All this because he allegedly got a little naughty in his chambers with a friend.
Read the report on Firstpost.com
An editorial in a Pakistan daily has lauded army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani's comments that the Siachen Glacier should be vacated by troops from both sides and progress towards peace be made with India.'
The Express Tribune editorial also praised his suggestion that the defence budget should be cut and more allocation should to be spent on development and his acknowledgement that the strength of a country lay in its people.
Dam has done it -- gone nude on screen. The film is Sri Lankan director Vimukthi Jayasundara's controversial Chhatrak (Mushroom), which had a red carpet screening at the 64th Cannes International Film Festival.
Read the interview on the Telegraph.
An aspiring Bollywood actress was murdered by two fellow actors she 'befriended on the set of her latest film'. Meenakshi Thapa, 26, was kidnapped and beheaded last month by Amit Jaiswal and his lover Preeti Surin in an attempt to receive a ransom payment.
Read the report on the Daily Mail.
The CEC said there were gross irregularities in the allotment of mining leases by the Yeddyurappa and his relatives.
Yeddyurappa, however, said he has highest faith in the judiciary.
A day after the launch of the Agni V missile, the government-controlled Chinese media continued to question the state of preparedness of India's armed forces and the many problems plaguing them.
Read the report on the Hindustan Times.
Vinod Mehta, Editorial Chairman, Outlook Group, of the story Indian Express ran on Army troop movements towards Delhi, in conversation with Hartosh Singh Bal. A 'mistake' like this, and the failure to acknowledge it as one, puts Indian media, still dragging its feet on self-regulation, at risk of losing its freedom.
Read the report on Open magazine.
India's Tomahawk-like long range cruise missile Nirbhay is expected to be test-fired for the first time in July-August this year, according to the Dr V.G. Sekaran, director of the Advanced Systems Lab (ASL) at DRDO.
In happier news, as Barcelona has risen to club-soccer supremacy over the last half-decade, it supposedly scored a victory for those who believe the purest way to win is to raise players through a club's youth teams, or at least recruit them from within the country.
Read the report on the WSJ
A Manipuri student, studying B'Arch at Bangalore was allegedly beaten to death by senior hostelmates when he switched the channel of the television while watching an IPL match on Wednesday. According to reports received here, the engineering students were watching an IPL match on the television when the Manipuri student changed the channel.
Two stories on the New York Times' India blogs:
And another earth-shattering survey...
The tradition of having a cigarette after sex has been stubbed out with only three percent of people practising in it now, a new poll has revealed. According to the poll, Brits are more likely to reach for their phones, with over a third confessing to an apres-sex text instead.
The survey for ECigaretteDirect.co.uk also found that nearly a quarter of people simply roll over and go to sleep after duvet fun.
Results of some of those surveys that people have actually spent time and money on.
-- Nothing lifts women's self-esteem more than a sunny day, a new study has revealed. According to the survey, nearly two out of three women get more of a boost from warm weather than retail therapy, chocolate and even sex.
Sixty-four per cent rate sunshine as providing the best feelgood factor while 47 percent said the same of a trip to the hairdresser, the Sun reported.
The survey also found that compliments also work with a simple "you look nice today' working wonders for 41 percent of women, while a nice text message gave 35 percent a boost.
Here's the full text of the PM's speech at the Assam Assembly today. Read
Our sources tell us that with six Union Ministers away on foreign jaunts, their first this year, the Prime Minister has decided not to convene the Union Cabinet. Seniors in the Cabinet Secretariat can therefore look forward to the upcoming weekend. Cabinet meetings are generally held on Thursdays, while meetings of the Cabinet Committee for Economic Affairs are held on Tuesdays.
A secretary to the Govt of India joked that even if cabinet meetings are held there will only be four to six items on the agenda, which can be disposed off in just 10 minutes or less.
And speaking of holidays, the PMO is curious to know about a Union Minister who was on a private visit to an enemy country not only with his family, but with a few businessmen from his state.
After decentralisations of powers, any Union Minister can take a 15-day private visit in a year by informing the PMO. In UPA I, the drill was that even for private visits, the minister had to get a clearance from the PMO.
Our sources tell us that the main server at the passport office at Bhikaji Cama Road in New Delhi has burnt down and according to protestors, little has been done to set right the fault. Quite naturally, there was a massive protest outside the External Affairs Ministry. S M Krishna's office is being flooded with phone calls, as tell you this. Insiders say this is the first time that the process of issuing a passport has been privatised.
If you grew up reading Enid Blyton, here's something that is guaranteed to throw you into a reverie.
Seventy years ago this summer, Julian, Dick and Anne went to stay with their cousin Georgina at Kirrin Cottage. Across the following two decades, the Famous Five put away their fair share of villains and ne'er-do-wells, as well as a few hard-boiled eggs, jars of potted meat and cucumber sandwiches. I grew up on a diet of Famous Five. The food connection, however, passed me by until my five-year-old son observed: "These children eat a lot, Dad."
Read the report on the Guardian.
A hen in Sri Lanka defied all odds when it hatched an eggless chick, giving a new twist to the age-old question of whether the chicken or the egg came first. Instead of passing out of the hen''s body and being incubated outside, the egg was incubated in the hen for 21 days and then hatched inside the hen, the BBC reported.
The chick is fully formed and healthy but the mother has died. The government veterinary officer in the area asserted that he had never seen anything like it before. PR Yapa, the chief veterinary officer of Welimada, where it took place, looked into the hen's carcass.
He found that the fertilised egg had developed within the hen''s reproductive system, but stayed inside the hen's body till the time it hatched.
West Bengal's populist chief minister is doing badly. Yet she typifies shifts in power in India.
That's Mamata Banerjee ripped apart in the Economist. Read
I preached on Good Friday that Jesus's intimacy with John suggested he was gay as I felt deeply it had to be addressed. Read
What is remarkable is that the writer, Paul Oestreicher, is a chaplain at the University of Sussex, UK.
Our Delhi correspondent tells us that four Union Ministers have asked the AICC high command to take them on an organisational basis in the committee. A Union Minister in a handwritten letter to Sonia Gandhi said that his continuance in the government will now be difficult as it has become a lame duck
Many senior AICC leaders also want a complete overhaul of the organisation to strengthen the state units and be in a better position to take on the Opposition ahead of the 2014 polls. Internal reports in AICC suggest that the Congress will not cross 85 MPs in the next elections.
TV channels show Baba Ramdev giving Anna Hazare (pained expression) a bear hug. As we said earlier, the two anti-graft activists will go on a one-day joint fast on June 3.
Dr Manmohan Singh speaking to the Assam Assembly today: I stand before you, my friends, as one of you, sharing your sense of pride and joy on this historic occasion. At a tender age I became homeless and a migrant. It is in Assam that I have finally found a home that has given me sense of belonging.
PM to insurgent groups: Understand the sentiments of people ... come forward to create an atmosphere conducive for accelerating development. There is a realisation that violence provides no answers .. aspirations are fulfilled only through engagement in democratic process.
The Supreme Court Friday stayed the trial of Gujarat police officer Sanjiv Bhatt, facing charges of coercing his official driver to make a false statement in connection with the alleged inaction of the Narendra Modi government during the 2002 riots in the state.
The Bench stayed the proceedings against Bhatt after he pleaded that the case against him was fabricated and was a consequence of political vendetta. Bhatt has sought investigation by an independent agency into the allegations. It was alleged that Bhatt had pressured his driver K.D. Pant to tell a court that he drove the Gujarat cadre Indian Police Service officer to the Chief Minister's residence Feb 27, 2002.
More on the Hindu
HRD Minister Kapil Sibal seems to be getting a lot of flak from so many quarters on Jan Lok Pal Bill, HRD Computer Tablet Aakash and now his backing of ISEET, one common national entrance exam for science and engineering. Now as HRD Minister he has inadvertently attracted the wrath of over 1,75,000 IIT alumni globally; as also faculty and students of all IITs who are opposed to his idea of killing IIT-JEE and replacing it with a common national exam called ISEET.
That's on Kafila.org.
"India has long struggled to provide enough electricity to light its homes and power its industry around the clock,' Vikas Bajaj writes in The New York Times. In recent years, the government and private sector sought to change that by building scores of new power plants, Bajaj writes. "But that campaign is now running into difficulties because the country cannot get the fuel'" principally coal
'to run the plants.' Read
Why blue? Censorship is intriguing in many ways; this time it has added a choice of colour to its list of inaccessible mysteries. On the posters advertising a film entitled Hate Story, Paoli Dam's exposed skin is being painted blue. This is reportedly by orders of the Calcutta High Court, which refused to stay the order of the state censor board prohibiting the display of the allegedly offending posters on the open street. Why not black?
Read the opinion piece on the Telegraph
On Foreign Policy: Pakistan warrants concern, and not just because it is sitting on the fifth largest nuclear arsenal in the world. The country is in the throes of a destabilizing and dangerous energy crisis. It faces gas shortages, and electricity outages of up to 20 hours a day. As a result, factories have been forced into closing. There is double-digit inflation. Infrastructure is crumbling for want of resources. And harrowing stories of the newly impoverished setting themselves on fire or resorting to crime have become the new normal.
On Firstpost.com: It speaks much for the country's growing Banana Republic status that it requires a US-India Joint Business Council (JBC) to speak about the leadership "vacuum' at the centre of India's power structure, and how this "vacuum' is "allowing forces in government to move on issues that are harmful to India's investment climate.'
Anders Behring Breivik, in his testimony on the fourth day of his trial in Oslo, Norway, disclosed plans to behead Gro Harlem Brundtland, a former prime minister of Norway, amongst other horrifying and disturbing details.
Breivik shot 67 people present at a Labour party summer camp on Utoya island in July last year, and had hoped that Brundtland, who led Norway as a Left-wing prime minister between 1981 and 1996, would be attending the event on the day of the massacre, The Telegraph reports.
The objective was not to kill 69 people on Utoya island, the objective was to kill all of them, he disclosed. Breivik said he aimed to handcuff Brundtland before beheading her, as according to him, she was a "category A traitor" because of her support for multiculturalism.
India grabbed global headlines on April 19 by announcing the successful test of a missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead as far as Beijing. Those not paying attention might be surprised by this display of military might -- India has now joined the UN Security Council permanent members and Israel in the small club of nations who can launch an inter-continental nuclear weapon.
India accounts for 9 percent of international arms transfers from 2006 to 2010, and will spend up to $80 billion on military modernization efforts by 2015.
Read the report, also on Foreign Policy.
Back to news:
The trial of Norway's alleged mass murderer Anders is only the tip of the iceberg in a rising sea of radical Islamophobia in Europe.
Read the report on Foreign Policy.
For all Calvin and Hobbes fans...
If the boy aged normally, he would be 33 this year
The two-day conference of the foreign and defence ministers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization [NATO] which ended in Brussels on Thursday formally called on China, amongst other countries, to help finance Afghan security forces, which is estimated to cost 4 billion dollars annually.
Read the MK Bhadrakumar's blog on rediff.com.
Also read on the Daily Times, Pakistan: Russia criticises NATOs pullout from Afghanistan
The party for Indian consumers has fizzled out even before it started. The Reserve Bank of India's surprise half-a-percentage-point cut in a benchmark interest rate, the first reduction in three years, revived hopes that interest payments on monthly loans would reduce by an equivalent amount.
Read the report on the WSJ
Summer in Mumbai traditionally means two things: mangoes and visas. The first is easily procured from car-side vendors and fruit markets and, for a few lucky souls, straight from trees in their building compounds. The second entails considerably more effort.
Easy read on the Wall Street Journal.
This is the Opposition's reaction to Kaushik Basu's statement that there will be no reforms till 2014.
Charging the Congress-led UPA government of putting the blame on others for the nation''s economic crisis, senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha today said that Chief Economic Advisor Kaushik Basu had merely stated the truth that major economic reforms are unlikely to happen before the next general elections in 2014.
"The fact of the matter is that this government has been suffering from paralysis in decision-making. Today, it (government) is on a ventilator and Kaushik Basu has merely stated the truth. He has said that we cannot expect any movement on the economic front until the next elections are over in 2014," said Sinha.
A blast suspected to have been triggered by the Paresh Baruah-led faction of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) on a railway track in Sivasagar district brought train movement in Assam to a halt last night, ahead of the Prime Minister's scheduled visit to the state today. There, was, however, no report of any casualty.
More on the Hindu
Security has been stepped up in Assam with the anti-talk faction of ULFA led by Paresh Baruah calling for a 12-hour shutdown in Assam to protest against the scheduled visit of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.
According to reports, Baruah has asked his cadres to indulge in acts of violence to make the outfit's presence felt in the state.
The Prime Minister is scheduled to arrive here later in the day.
Abhishek Manu Singhvi trending on Twitter three days in a row for an alleged sex CD.
Mahesh Murthy Congress & YouTube working Overtime: Abhishek Manu Singhvivideo uploaded & re-deleted multiple times
Angry Bombay Girl Dear Abhishek Manu Singhvi if its u in the Video ..Admit it .. Stop behaving like Ria sen and Ashmit Patel.
Much of the rest are too obscene to be posted.
More than two months after two Indian fishermen were shot dead, allegedly by Italian naval guards from aboard oil tanker Enrica Lexie, Italian authorities have come forward to settle the compensation claims. Initial reports indicate a compensation of Rs one crore for each victim's family.
Read the report on the Times of India.
Update on the Srinagar shootout. The cop killed was an assistant sub-inspector and it is believed there was more than one militant, who have fled after the incident. The area, in downtown Srinagar, has been cordoned off. Investigations are on.
India's successful test on Thursday of a long-range ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead is the latest escalation of an arms race in Asia, where the assertiveness and rising military power of China has rattled the region and prompted a forceful response from the Obama administration.
On the New York Times.
This is Shashi Tharoor's piece for the Daily Mail on India's defence capabilities.
The recent brouhaha over defence issues has brought welcome attention to the state of our armed services. Just a couple of years ago, in 2010, India's National Security Annual Review unnecessarily averred that India was now the world's fifth most powerful country, outranking traditional powers such as the UK, France and Germany.
Norway's alleged mass killer testified on Thursday that he played video games as a way to train for a shooting spree that killed 77 people last summer. In particular, Anders Behring Breivik said at his trial that he played "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" as a means of shooting practice, according to CNN's report.
For people who have long suspected that there is some link between violent video games and real-world violence, the statement offered frightening new evidence for why the video-game industry should be more strictly regulated.
Read the report on CNN
This is from one a newspaper she particularly dislikes -- the Telegraph.
Fear is finding an unlikely companion in understated spunk. "Dhore niye jabe (they will take you away)' has been a succinct refrain near office water-coolers, college canteens and university staff rooms in Bengal ever since a Jadavpur University professor was arrested for circulating an Internet joke on the chief minister.
With the initial wave of shock having ebbed, many Calcuttans have now started to not only speak up but also stand up and be counted on the side of those being persecuted. More
"There are two to three television channels of the CPI(M) that you should not watch. Instead listen to songs on other channels," Mamata said.
She said canards were being spread when she was making tireless efforts to restore the past glory of Bengal which was ruined during the 34 years of Left rule.
"I do not care about fingers pointed against me. I do not care for anybody. I only care for Ma, Mati, Manush of Bengal," Banerjee told a rally after a government function.
Mamata Banerjee also said that no amount of negative publicity would deter her from her goal of bringing development for the people.
More from the controversy-a-day Mamata Banerjee.
The West Bengal Chief Minister has come up with yet another bizarre advice. She is now advising people on what television channels they should watch.
Addressing a gathering in North 24 Parganas, she told people to stop watching certain news channels and switch to entertainment channels instead. She told her cadres to avoid some TV channels and listen to music instead.
She also criticised a section of the media for being biased and presenting her government in a bad light. "There are two to three television channels of the CPI(M) that you should not watch. Instead listen to songs on other channels," Mamata said. Read the full report here.
Update on the Mumbai train situation. The Central Railway PRO says services today are 95 per cent back to normal. To ensure this was possible, more than 200 railway personnel -- from gangmen to engineers to top officials -- have been working round the clock to restore the signalling and crossing point operations that were affected due to a fire at Kurla signal cabin on Tuesday night.
While gangmen are seen rushing with cables, digging along the tracks, the engineering staff is busy fixing equipment with supervisors shouting out instructions. Many of them haven't gone home to ensure that they finish the restoration work before the 72-hour deadline. More on the Hindustan Times
India cheers as Agni-V puts it among major missile powers (The Hindu)
The 17-metre-long surface-to-surface ballistic missile lifted off majestically from a rail mobile launcher at 8.04 a.m. After a flight time of 20 minutes, the missile re-entry vehicle impacted the pre-designated target point more than 5,000 kms away in the Indian Ocean with a high degree of accuracy. Read
In its moment of celebration, DRDO leaves out 'Agni putri' (Indian Express)
Name of Tessy Thomas, who has been crucial in Agni development, was missing in DRDO press release. Read
Missile woman Tessy helps India pass Agnipariksha (Hindustan Times)
The favourite pupil of APJ Abdul Kalam, she is Indias first woman scientist to head a missile programme. Read
Congress on edge as SP, Trinamool meet (The Hindu)
Mamata and Mulayam emissary met on possibility of their parties joining hands for presidential polls. Read
SC wants to know: What is happening in Orissa? (Indian Express)
The Supreme Court wanted to know today what was happening in the Orissa Maoist hostage crisis. Read
Major reforms unlikely before 2014 polls: Top govt advisor (The Times of India)
After 2014 you would see a rush of reforms & after 2015 India would be one of the fastest growing economies, said chief economic advisor Kaushik Basu. Read