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Dear PM, please pay your dues to AI: Unpaid staff

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March 28, 2012


18:06  IB alert for BARC nuclear installation as security is breached. Details awaited. 
17:56  Dear PM, please pay your dues to AI: Unpaid staff:  Just in: The Air India employees union will write to the PM to clear dues of Rs Rs 200 crore. AI employees union threaten to go on strike from Monday if their salaries are not cleared.
17:54  Zuckerberg's China trip sparks Facebook frenzy:  

The sight of a vacationing Mark Zuckerberg in Shanghai has sparked a frenzy of online speculation over the possibility Facebook might return to China, even though the site remains firmly blocked. Excited Chinese bloggers posted photographs of the Facebook founder and his girlfriend at an Apple store and in
Shanghai's art gallery district yesterday, expressing hopes it might mean access to the popular social networking site.

17:39  No wonder AI's back is broken: Govt, PMO owe it Rs 574 crore:  

The government owes over Rs 574 crore to cash-strapped Air India with Prime Minister's Office having an outstanding of more than Rs 200 crore, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh today said. 

 

"The outstanding amount to be collected by Air India from the various central Ministries or departments and government agencies as on March 15 is approximately Rs 574.67 crore," Singh informed Lok Sabha. 

 

He said PMO owes Rs 200.40 crore, Ministry of Defence Rs 13.56 crore, Ministry of External Affairs has an outstanding of Rs 71.64 crore towards Air India while other Ministries and other government departments have Rs 77.85 crore.

17:23  Bo Xilai's son's playboy lifestyle fuels rumours of coup:  

As Chinese President Hu Jintao readies for the BRICS meet in Delhi, back home, China's leaders are facing their biggest political crisis for years as they struggle to quell rumours of an attempted coup in Beijing amid splits in the ruling elite. Officials have cracked down on internet reports of soldiers in the streets and gunfire in the leaders' secure compound near the Forbidden City.

 

Read more on the Daily Mail 

17:18  CBI to MoD: Keep Tatra truck deal papers safely:  The CBI has told the MoD to keep the Tatra deal papers in safe custody. The CBI has written to the Defence Ministry on the bribery allegations made by Army Chief General VK Singh and has urged that all signed documents, files and correspondence related to the Tatra truck deal be kept in safe custody.
17:15  India cracks down on Tibetan protests :  

Nilanjana Roy @nilanjanaroy  #BRICS S Delhi traffic chaos, jailed Tibetans: next time, just build a Potemkin village in Suraj Kund for Mr Jintao. With cheering peasants.

 

A Tibetan exile who set himself on fire in Delhi earlier this week has died, as Indian police and paramilitaries launch a security crackdown to prevent further protests or self-immolations during the visit of the Chinese premier, Hu Jintao.

Jamphel Yeshi, 27, suffered 90% burns after dousing himself with petrol during a protest on Monday, and authorities fear that more Tibetans will follow suit to protest at Chinese policies in their homeland. About 30 Tibetans have died and another dozen have been seriously injured in the past 13 months in similar protests, mainly inside China.

 

Read the report on the Guardian by Jason Burke.

17:08  Will the govt sack the Army Chief?:  

The corridors of Parliament and South Block, which houses the offices of the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister are agog with intense speculation that Army Chief V K Singh might be sacked.

So, will VKS be sacked or won't he? Read the blog Dilli Chaat

17:03  Army Chief to file written complaint on Friday:  

Just in: Army Chief tells the CBI that he will give a written complaint in the bribe allegations by March 30, Friday. His statement/written complaint is crucial to the case as he is a witness. The Army Chief also told the CBI he has adequate proof/evidence to back his claim, which he says he will share with the CBI.

16:59  Not small change: BRICS accounts for 40% of GDP:  

BRICS traces its origin to the BRIC acronym coined by Goldman Sachs economist Jim O' Neill in a paper entitled 'The World Needs Better Economic BRICs,' based an economic modelling exercise to forecast global economic trends over the next half century.

He predicted that Brazil, Russia, India and China will become major economic powers over the next few decades. Till 2011, it was BRIC and later with the inclusion of South Africa in a Summit in Sanya in April last year, the grouping became BRICS.

BRICS accounts for 26 per cent of the world's landmass and 42 per cent of the global population, including India and China, two of the world's most populous countries. It accounts for 40 per cent of global GDP and its proportion is rapidly increasing.

16:54  BRICS leaders all set to discuss trade, regional security:  

Representing over 40 per cent of the world's population, the leaders of five leading economies - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS)- will meet here tomorrow to discuss ways to enhance intra-BRICS trade and review the situation in the region. 

The leaders have been arriving since yesterday for the fourth Summit, which is themed 'BRICS Partnership for Global Stability, Security and Prosperity'. While Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived this afternoon, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arrived early this morning.

16:51  Pope, Fidel Castro to meet today:  

Pope Benedict XVI was to meet Fidel Castro and hold a huge outdoor mass in Havana today on the final day of his visit to Cuba.

Read the Telegraph story.

16:46  Life in space hope after billions of habitable planets found:  

For all X Files fans: Billions of potentially habitable planets may exist within our galaxy, the Milky Way, raising new prospects that life could exist near Earth, a study has found.

 

Read the Telegraph report.

16:42  Khalistan double standard: Turning terrorists to martyrs:  

Yesterday's terrorists are today's victims -- as long as they are Tamil, Sikh or belong some suitably 'Indian' category. This is the message sent repeatedly by our politicians, most recently in the case of Balwant Singh Rajoana, who conspired to assasinate former chief minister Beant Singh in 1995.

 

According to media reports, the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) are hailing him as 'a living Sikh martyr', and asking for -- nay, demanding -- clemency from the Prime Minister. The same SGPC that honoured Indira Gandhi's assassins as "martyrs to the cause of the Sikh nation,' back in 2008.

 

Read the report on Firstpost.com

16:33  Shot Thusha: I fear being harmed again:  

The little girl left paralysed after being shot by gang-feud hoodies said yesterday: "I worry that someone will try and hurt me again. "Six-year-old Thusha Kamaleswaran said she misses being able to dance, her friends, her family and going to school.

Read the report on the Sun.

16:24  Who is responsible for the embarrassments the govt is facing?:  India faces a very peculiar situation where the two most honest men in the Union Cabinet are suddenly facing the charge that massive scams took place in their own departments. Is that just coincidence, asks T V R Shenoy on rediff.com. Read
16:17  Michael Clarke signs up with Pune Warriors for IPL5:  

Australia captain Michael Clarke has signed up for Pune Warriors India for the fifth edition of IPL starting next month.

16:14  Kobad Ghandy's release 3 years too late: Lawyer:  

Kobad Ghandy's lawyer Rebecca John says his release has come three years too late. The Maoist leader earlier had opposed filing of a supplementary chargesheet against him saying the police has filed the charge sheet despite there being no fresh material against him.

The Special Cell of Delhi Police, in its main chargesheet, had slapped charges under the UAP Act, besides booking him for various offences under the IPC relating to cheating, forgery and impersonation.

An alumni of the prestigious Doon School, Ghandy was said to be part of the top leadership of erstwhile CPI-ML (People's War Group) from 1981 and continued as a Central Committee member in CPI (Maoist). He was elected to its Politburo in 2007.

16:12  70% Indians in 30-69 age group fell prey to cancer in 2010:  

Sit up and take note: Over 70 per cent of people in the age group of 30-69 have fallen prey to cancer in India in 2010, with tobacco-related and cervical cancers being the leading cause of deaths, according to a new study. 

According to the study published in The Lancet today, there were 556,400 cancer deaths across India in 2010, of which 71 per cent (3,95,000) deaths occurred in people aged between 30-69 years (2,00,100 men and 1,95,300 women). 

At nearly 23 per cent, oral cancer caused the most deaths in men, followed by stomach cancer (12.6 per cent) and lung cancer (11.4 per cent), while cervical cancer was the leading cause (17 per cent) of death in women followed by breast cancer (10.2 per cent).

16:09  Wasteful expenditure will not be tolerated: Nitish:  

Wasteful expenditure of public money would not be tolerated and stern action would be taken against officials who do so in the name of repair and beautification, electric and other maintenance of MLAs quarters, Bihar Chief
Minister Nitish Kumar said today. 

16:05  Two AMRI directors get bail after 111 days in custody:  

Update on the bail granted to two Amri directors:

 

After spending 111 days in custody, two directors of the fire-ravaged AMRI Hospital were today granted bail by the Calcutta High Court which observed that day-to-day affairs of the hospital were not run by them. A division bench comprising justices Ashim Kumar Roy and Asim Kumar Ray granted the bail prayers of R S Goenka and Prashant Goenka, directors of AMRI where a fire in December last year claimed over 90 lives.

 The bench observed that from the statements of senior officials as submitted by the prosecution, it became clear that AMRI Hospital was run by a directorial board and a managing committee which ran its day-to-day affairs.


 While the board met once in three months, the committee met on Saturdays every week and took decisions on everyday affairs of the hospital.

15:26  CBI waits for written complaint from VKS:  The CBI is all set to write to the Ministry of Defence on Gen VK Singh's bribery charges. The CBI is also waiting for a written complaint fron the army chief.  
15:21  Pink slime of animal leftovers goes into US burgers:  

Take a cow. Chop it into pieces. Sell the edible bits to supermarkets, ship its hide to a handbag factory, send leftover bones and organs to a rendering plant. Now, what's left? In most of the developed world, the answer is simple: pet food.

The sinew, gristle and fat regarded as unfit for human consumption are taken away by Mr Pedigree Chum and turned into something the salmonella-resistant stomach of your average Labrador will find vaguely digestible. But in America, they do food differently.

Here, in the land of GM corn, 26 per cent obesity and a government which classifies pizza as a "vegetable", scientists have discovered a way to turn bacteria-ridden scraps from the abattoir floor into a substance called "pink slime", which is then sold to unwitting consumers of hamburgers, tacos and other beef-based junk products. 

 

Read the story on the Independent.

15:11  Ghandy released under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act :  

Ghandy was accused of setting up a Naxal wing in Delhi. He was released under the Unlawful Activies Prevention Act. The court has held there is no evidence against Ghandy and the sanction to prosecute him was improper.

15:09  Court holds no evidence against Kobad Ghandy:  

Kobad Ghandy was in charge of the South Western Regional Bureau coordinating the Naxalite activity in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra, where rebel activity remained stagnant despite herculean efforts made by the Maoist party, says the 2009 Hindu report, at the time he was arrested.

Taking into consideration his ability to analyse the national and international developmetns, he was also entrusted with the job of building up the naxal movement in urban areas.

Ghandy is stated to have admitted that despite the rapid spread of the naxalite movement in Central and North India, it failed to strike roots in other states. Even in Orissa, Jharkhand, Bihar and Chhattisgarh, the rebel party failed to win over people in plain areas and in towns, while the movement was getting strengthened in tribal belts.

15:00  Kobad Ghandy: The gentle revolutionary:  Sheela Bhatt reveals a side of Maoist ideologue Kobad Ghandy -- who the Delhi police arrested in 2009 -- that only members of his family know. Read the 2009 interview.
14:57  Naxal leader Kobad Ghandy released, no evidence:  A Delhi court frames charges against Naxal leader Kobad Ghandy, accused of trying to set up base for his banned outfit CPI (Maoist). Court  discharges Ghandy on charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act due to improper sanction from authorities.
14:54  On Twitter:  

Barkha Dutt @BDUTT  Isn't it tragic that in all this brouhaha scant attention, comment or tears for the 12 security personnel killed in Gadchiroli.

 

Sidin Vadukut @sidin  Army Chief has three immediate superiors: AK Antony, Manmohan Singh, Pratibha Patil. Good god.

14:52  On Twitter:  Sidin Vadukut @sidin  I miss the innocence and manageable mathematics of the CWG scam.
14:49  Parties fight over political symbols:  

When voters turn out for municipal polls in the Indian capital next month, they may be confronted with a bewildering gallery of household items: possibly a cauliflower, nail clippers, a TV antenna and a calculator.

Ever since independent India's first elections began in 1951, when less than one in five Indians could read, political parties have selected easy-to-identify symbols based on everyday items to appear next to candidates' names at the ballot box.

 

Tripti Lahiri on the WSJ. Read

14:47  A short history of the Congress hand:  On the Wall Street Journal: Any Indian voter can tell you which party is represented at poll booths by the hand or the elephant. But while the choice of Indian voting symbols may seem set in stone -- literally, in some cases -- the ruling Congress could just as easily have had the elephant on its flag today, instead of the palm. Read
14:38  AMRI directors get bail:  

Six AMRI directors have been granted bail in the Kolkata hospital fire case where over 90 were killed in December 2011.  

 

On Rediff.com: Members of the medical community and the powerful lobby of the Indian Medical Association have erupted in violent protests following the arrest of two of their senior colleagues in connection with the devastating AMRI fire, points out Dr Kunal Saha

14:33  Chinese prez in Delhi for BRICS amid Tibetan's death:  Chinese president Hu Jintao arrives in Delhi for the BRICS summit. Earlier in the day and last night, police in Delhi made preventive arrests in Tibetan strongholds. Several Tibetan residential pockets have also been sealed, while the Tibetan youth Congress has submitted a memo to the PMO, Brics nations and embassies.
14:11  Albert Einstein brain samples go on display:  Wellcome Collection exhibition also features brains of suffragette, 19th-century killer and ancient Egyptian. Read the Guardian copy.
14:07  Never-before-see pictures of Marilyn Monroe:  

Monroe poses at the age of 27 for her trusted make-up artist

See the pics on the Daily Mail.

14:02  Syrian rebels caught embellishing on tape:  

A new documentary provides an intimate look at Syria's video activists -- and reveals how they staged a report to appear more dramatic.

Read the Daily Beast report.

13:58  Photographer's perilous journey in and out of Syria:  

Jonathan Alpeyrie has photographed 10 wars. He's captured violence in Somalia, Afghanistan, South Ossetia andLibya. But his recent week taking pictures of rebels in Syria was the most intense, frightening experience of his career. He compares it to Afghanistan when he was embedded in 2010 with the French Foreign Legion.

 

Read the cnn report.

13:55  Syria authorities target children, says UN rights chief:  

Syrian authorities are systematically detaining and torturing children, the United Nations' human rights chief, Navi Pillay, has told the BBC. She said she was deeply concerned about the fate of hundreds of children being held in detention.

Read

13:49  They' will take us down. Say the Lord's prayer: Erratic pilot:  

In world news: A veteran pilot with JetBlue was tackled and controlled by the passengers, after he started behaving erratically, screaming rants about al Qaeda, and a possible bomb onboard in a flight bound for Las Vegas.   Clayton Osbon was locked outside the cockpit after four passengers got control over him, as he seemed to have a panic attack. 

The airline has said the captain of JetBlue Airways Flight 191 from New York''s John F. Kennedy International Airport had a 'medical situation', and the co-pilot diverted the plane to land in Amarillo, Texas.  

Passengers reveal the captain squalled out of the cockpit, and started acting incoherently. "They're going to take us down. They're taking us down. They're going to take us down. Say the Lord's prayer. Say the Lord's prayer," the captain screamed.

13:44  Sachin is available for IPL5: Mumbai Indians:  

This is the statement by Mumbai Indians trashing reports that he will miss IPL5.

Mumbai Indians captain Sachin Tendulkar will be joining the in-progress camp at Wankhede Stadium from 31st March 2012 and is fully available for the entire IPL season 5. Sachin, is in UK to consult his doctor and will be back in India to join the camp from 31st March.

-- Spokesperson, Mumbai Indians.

13:26  Yasin Malik's Pakistani wife gives birth to baby girl:  

Kashmiri separatist leader Yasin Malik's Pakistani wife Mushaal Hussein Mullick has given birth to a girl in a hospital here. The baby was delivered last evening by Caesarean section.  Malik told PTI today that his wife and daughter were healthy. Malik, 44, had married Mushaal, a 30-year-old painter, in
early 2009.

The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front leader had arrived in Islamabad a few days ago to depose before a judicial commission that is investigating a mysterious memo which had sought US help to stave off a possible coup after the killing of Osama bin Laden last year.

13:20  

Update on the IM terrorist nabbed in Delhi.

The man's name is Rehman and is a believed to be a member of the Indian Mujahideen module led by Yaseen Bhatkal.

13:14  Opposition ready to support govt if it sacks Army Chief:  

Our correspondent in the Rajya Sabha reports that the discussion in the Upper House on the leakage of Army Chief's letter to the PMO indicates that the Opposition is ready to back the government on the issue. Sources say that the government is now equipped to take action against V K Singh if it so wants, including sacking him if necessary.

 

Lalu Prasad Yadav echoes what Vayalar Ravi said today saying the Army Chief is frustrated. See our 12:30 pm post for what Ravi said. The SP also wants his head. A section in the government also apparently want the Chief dismissed.

12:57  Sachin will play IPL5, say BCCI, Mumbai Indians :  

Here's an update: Sachin Tendulkar will not miss IPL5, say BCCI and Mumbai Indian sources to CNN IBN. PTI had reported that Tendulkar's participation in the entire fifth edition of the IPL was in in doubt after the veteran batsman flew to London to consult a specialist regarding an old toe injury, which has resurfaced and may require surgery.

BCCI sources said that Sachin will play the first Mumbai Indians game on April 4 and that he went to London for a routine check-up and is expected to return by the end of this month.

12:42  SP calls for Army Chief's head:  

Samajwadi Party MPs have jumped the gun asing for the Army Chief to be sacked if he has leaked the letter to the PMO

Left, BJD, JDU MPs have also demanded strict action against the person who leaked the letter.

12:39  Suspected IM terrorist arrested in Delhi: Police:  Just in: A suspected Indian Mujahideen terrorist arrested in East Delhi, say police. Details awaited.
12:37  H-1B visa applications to be accepted from April 2: US:  

Away from the intrigue of the MoD, more prosaic news.

The applications for the most sought after H-1B work visa used extensively by Indian IT professionals for the fiscal beginning October 1, would be accepted beginning April 2, a federal immigration agency announced Tuesday. 

The congressionally mandated numerical limitation on H-1B petitions for the fiscal year 2012-13 is 65,000, as has been in the previous years. Additionally, the first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of individuals who have earned a US masters degree or higher are exempt from the fiscal year cap.

12:30  Army chief's letter reflects his frustrations: Vayalar Ravi:  

Attacking Army chief Gen V K Singh for reportedly writing to the Prime Minister about state of affairs in the force, Union Minister Vayalar Ravi today
said this reflects the "frustrations" of an individual, who had to withdraw his petition on the age row in the Supreme Court. 

Ravi also felt that the Army chief should have written to Defence Minister A K Antony instead as per the "maryada" (decorum).

"I do not know what is the issue. I have not seen the letter. The Army is a disciplined force. (He) could not get an extension even by the court. May be a frustrated man suffers," Ravi told reporters outside Parliament.

12:25  Nagging toe injury may push Sachin out of IPL 5:  

In other news: Sachin Tendulkar's participation in the entire fifth edition of the IPL is in doubt after the veteran batsman flew to London to consult a specialistregarding an old toe injury, which has resurfaced and may require surgery.

"Yes, Sachin Tendulkar has gone to London for consultation about his toe injury. He has been playing with  this injury for long. It is not sure when he will return as even a surgery may be needed to correct it," an Indian CricketBoard source said. 

The Indian Premier League is all set to commence on April 4 in Chennai, where Tendulkar's Mumbai Indians, the last year's runner-up will take on defending champions Chennai Super Kings at the M A Chidamaram Stadium.

12:23  Antony says the MoD is continuously tightening its procurement procedures.
12:19  Opposition to Antony: Probe how letter to PMO was leaked:  

To that, Sitaram Yechury says there should be an inquiry into how the secret letter to the PMO was leaked. The BJP says an alarmist situation has been created due to leaked docuements and it is essential to plug the leak.

Yechury wants a probe into how the Army Chief's letter to the PMO was leaked.

Arun Jaitley says action should be taken against those responsible for the leak.

12:14  Antony: Leaking secret documents harmful to India:  In the Rajya Sabha, Defence Minister AK Antony addressing Army Chief VK Singh's letter to the PMO says publishing secret documents will not help the nation and is harmful to the country. An alarming situation has been created due to the leaked documents. The government will do everything to ensure the safety and security of the nation and is committed to providing the best equipment for the forces.
12:10  Can't have ill-will for Jaya even in dreams: Sasikala:  

The woman who served as J Jayalalithaa's closest confidante for decades has today spoken about their bitter falling-out. In December last year, Sasikala, who lived with the Tamil Nadu chief minister in her home, was expelled by Jayalalithaa from her party, the AIADMK, says this NDTV report.

"I've snapped ties with all those who betrayed Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa," Sasikala said in a statement today. "I can't forgive my relatives who worked against her," she added.

Sasikala's husband and her nephew, T T V Dinakaran, who was once adopted by Jayalalithaa as her son, have also been thrown out of the party.

 

More

12:02  Rajya Sabha reconvenes after two adjournments over the Army Chief's letter to the PMO.
12:01  Akhiles has assets worth Rs 4.83 crore:  

Setting a precedent before his cabinet colleagues, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister  Akhilesh Yadav has officially declared his assets and liabilities worth over Rs 4.83 crore. Akhilesh, 38, who uploaded details of his assets and liabilities on the official website of the state government, is the first Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister to make a public declaration.


In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections when Akhilesh filed his nomination papers for Kannauj parliamentary seat, he had declared movable and immovable assets of more than Rs 5.52 crore.


As per the fresh declaration till March 15, the Chief Minister has immovable assets of more than Rs 98.84 lakh. This include agriculture land in Etawah worth Rs 17.53 lakh, a property on Vikramaditya Marg in Lucknow (half share) Rs 41.63 lakh, another property on MG road in the state capital worth Rs 37.55 lakh and a plot of Rs 2.11 lakh in Etawah's Friends colony.


Akhilesh's movable property includes a Pajero worth Rs 20.16 lakh. The Chief Minister has investments of Rs 1.08 lakh in insurance policies and mutual funds. He has invested Rs 63.80 lakh in Aviva Life Insurance, portfolio investment of Rs 14.86 lakh, principal mutual fund of Rs 10 lakh, besides others. 

11:51  Police make preventive arrests in Tibetan strongholds:  Police in Delhi have made preventive arrests in Tibetan strongholds as Chinese PM Hu Jintao is set to arrive. Several Tibetan residential pockets have also been sealed, while the Tibetan youth Congress has submitted a memo to the PMO, Brics nations and embassies.
11:48  India test fires Brahmos supersonic cruise missile:  Irony in the midst of the Army Chief's claims that India's defence is in pieces --The country test-fires Brahmos supersonic cruise missile from the Integrated Test Range off Odisha coast.
11:46  Self-immolation Tibetan activist dies, a first in India:  

Meanwhile, the young Tibetan activist, who set himself ablaze during a protest against Chinese president Hu Jintao's India visit, died at a hospital here this morning. Jamyang Yeshi (26) breathed his last in the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital at 7:30 AM, Dr L K Makhija, who was treating him, said. Yeshi had on Monday set himself on fire in Jantar Mantar where Tibetans were protesting against the visit of Hu Jintao. 

At least 29 Tibetans, many of them Buddhist monks and nuns, have have set themselves on fire in Tibet demanding freedom for their homeland. He became the first Tibetan to die in India after setting himself on fire during protests. Yeshi had sneaked into India from Tibet in 2006 and had been living in New Delhi for the past six years, activists said.

11:43  PC, Antony meet PM on Army Chief's bribe charge:  Defence Minister A K Antony and Home Minister P Chidambaram meet the Prime Minister amid Army chief's charge of bribe offer.
11:37  I am not army chief's chum: Lt Gen Singh:  

Rediff.com's Sheela Bhatt caught up with Lieutenant General Tejinder Singh (retd), who has been accused of allegedly offering army chief General V K Singh a bribe of Rs 14 crore in September 2010 for an arms deal.

Read

11:35  Retd Lt Gen sues Army Chief, 4 other officials:  

Meanwhile, Lt Col (Retd) Tejinder Singh, who allegedly offered the bribe to the Army Chief in 2010 for clearing the purchase of "sub-standard' vehicles has V K Singh for defamation.

Filing a criminal complaint seeking summoning and prosecution of the Army Chief and four other officials, including the vice-chief of Army staff and director general of Military Intelligence, Tejinder Singh said that all of them had, in collusion, issued the press release on March 5-6 alleging that stories in the media about the unauthorised snooping of mobile phones of Defence Ministry officials were put out by him.

 

Read the Indian Express story

11:29  Rajya Sabha has been adjourned till 12 pm. Union Minister Vayalar Ravi criticises the Army chief, on the letter to the PMO.
11:24  

And the other reason why the Army Chief has consistently been in the news...

VK Singh's allegations that he had been attempted to be bribed. Read Praveen Swami for the Hindu.

11:19  

AK Antony says he is aware that the Army Chief had sent a letter to the PMO and will reply in Parliament on the issue.

The letter written on March 12 also says that infantry lacked night vision equipment.

11:17  Rajya Sabha has been adjourned over the issue.
11:16  Army Chief writes to PM: Air defence 97% obsolete :  Defence minister AK Antony says he is aware of the Army Chief's letter to the PM, which he said was extremely confidential. In the letter, VK Singh says the entire tank fleet is devoid of critical ammunition to defeat army tanks, air defence is 97 per cent obsolete , infantry is crippled with deficiencies, Elite Special Forces woefully short of essential weapons.  
11:10  Army Chief writes to PM warning of security risk :  

In a fresh blow to the government, the Army Chief, General VK Singh has written a letter to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh warning that the country's security is at risk. 

According to Times Now, the letter which was written on March 12, 2012 states that army tanks in the country have run out of ammunition. The letter emphasises the need to bridge the shortcomings and bring the army to fighting level. 

Sources told Times Now that in his letter VK Singh has called 97% of the air defence obsolete. Singh has also said that the Elite Special Forces are woefully short of weapons.   

This issue will be raised in Parliament today by BJP senior leaders Jaswant Singh and Balbir Punj.

11:00  Why we need to updgrade our defences against China:  As Chinese PM Hu Jintao reaches India for the BRICS summit, read Colonel (retd) Anil Athale's open letter to Defence Minister A K Antony on the threat from China and the need for upgradation of our defence research and production. Read it exclusively on Rediff.com.
10:54  Prez Patil will host a banquet for all heads of state from the BRICS, today.
10:51  High alert in Delhi as 4th BRICS meet begins:  

The 4th BRICS summit will begin in New Delhi today. There's a high alert in the capital as Tibetans protest Chinese Premier Hu Jintao's presence.

Brazil President Dilma Rousseff plans to use her New Delhi visit to sound out Indian leaders on the French Rafale fighter jet, which she is considering buying to beef up Brazil's air force. Rousseff is to attend the New Delhi summit
of the BRICS (Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa) nations aiming to discuss increased cooperation among the five emerging powers, including the establishment of their own development bank.


Officials say the Rafale, which India has selected for its air force, will be a top agenda item. The Rafale, made by French firm Dassault, is in competition with the F/A-18 Super Hornet, manufactured by US aviation giant Boeing, and Swedish manufacturer Saab's Gripen jet, for a Brazilian contract for 36 aircraft valued at USD 4 billion and USD 7 billion.

10:45  Punjab CM to discuss Rajoana's clemency with Prez:  

Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal will meet President Pratibha Patil and PM Dr Manmohan Singh for a last-ditch clemency appeal for ex-CM Beant Singh's killer BS Rajoana. The Punjab govt has aloso filed another clemency appeal with the HC.

Meanwhile, a day-long bandh called by radical Sikh outfits to protest the proposed execution of Rajoana, disrupted normal life in parts of Punjab today. A report from Patiala said the call for bandh evoked a total response in the city where Rajoana is lodged in the local Central Jail awaiting his execution on March 31 as per the orders of the Chandigarh Sessions Court. 

Security forces have been conducting flag marches at key locations in the state to instill sense of confidence among the people. Security around Patiala central jail where Rajoana is lodged had been beefed up with erection of additional
security points.

10:35  Headlines this morning:  

Raoana's death: Punjab does 'best' to keep matter hanging (Hindustan Times)
Radical Sikh outfits Dal Khalsa and Khalsa Action Committee have asked the people in Punjab  to observe a 'bandh' today in protest against the proposed hanging of Balwant Singh Rajoana sentenced to death for killing former Punjab CM Beant Singh. Read

 

'Coalgate': CAG Vinod Rai takes on coal minister (The Times of India)
Vinod Rai has trashed the suggestion that CAG's estimate of undue gains to companies caused by govt's failure to auction coal blocks was "fallacious". Read

 

 

Kingfisher Airlines crisis: Carrier asks many staff to stay at home (The Times of India)
Kingfisher Airlines on Tuesday asked employees at several locations to stay at home in view of temporary suspension of operations to many place. Read

 


SPs advice to Gen: Talk less, remember Amar Singh? (Indian Express)
Ram Gopal Yadav says A K Antony should have overruled Army chief over probing bribe allegation. Read

 

 

Bribe conversation tape with CBI now as probe begins (The Hindu)
I asked Gen. V.K. Singh to make a written complaint but he did not act. Read

 

 

PM open to visit Pakistan 'if there is something solid to celebrate' (Hindustan Times)
On his meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he thanked him for the trade concessions the Pakistan government had made to India recently. Read

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Flashback! Sanjeev Kumar, on the sets of Manchali
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