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Law Ministry cannot control EC: Quraishi

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May 07, 2012

23:33  Law Ministry cannot control EC: Quraishi:  Against the backdrop of the recent controversy between the Election Commission and the Law ministry over the latter claiming control over it, Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi today made it clear that this cannot happen as EC is a Constitutionally independent body.     

Describing the Law Ministry as a nodal body, he said there is no way Government can think of controlling the EC.     

"It is only a nodal ministry. The Law ministry is also a nodal ministry for the Supreme Court. But if they think of controlling the Supreme Court or even the Election Commission...No Way. That cannot happen," he said at a function here.     

He said there is "tendency of a government to try and control institutions which they can...The Constitution has made it (EC) a very independent institution."     

Quraishi's comments come days after the spat between him and Law Minister Salman Khurshid after the latter's claimed his ministry had "control" over the EC.
23:18  Ramdev targets MPs again:  Yoga guru Ramdev today continued his tirade against Members of Parliament, terming some of them as "corrupt, amoral and murderers". "Some of the MPs sitting in Parliament are corrupt, amoral and murderers. People should not elect such persons to the nation's highest body," he said addressing a gathering at a yoga camp here in the presence of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. 

In another controversial statement, the yoga guru, addressing a meeting yesterday at Porsa town, had said "dacoits have been promoted and now they have come out of forests and reached Delhi." "People should not elect such persons to Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha." He later today visited revolutionary leader Ram Prasad Bismil's ancestral village Barvai and paid tributes to him. Ramdev charged people are facing a lot of problems because of inflation and the government is not doing anything to provide relief to them.
23:02  Andhra Pradesh CM attacks Jagan:  Stepping up his attack on Kadapa MP Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy today asked how can a person living in a palatial palace can empathise with the poor. 

"If you live in a palace with 70 rooms, how can you empathise with the poor? I don't understand this mentality,' he said, referring to Jagan. Kiran was addressing a campaign meeting in coastal Andhra in support of Congress candidates for next month's bypolls to one Lok Sabha and 18 Assembly seats.
22:41  Cong remains non-committal on presidential nominee:  Congress today remained non-committal on the Presidential nominee even as Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is widely speculated to be the party's and the UPA's candidate for the top post. 

"The office of President is an august office, which should not be brought into the realm of unnecessary speculation. Whenever there is anything to share with you, we will do it," was the refrain of Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari to repeated questions from reporters in this regard. 

When told that the allies have already begun naming the candidates and opining on their eligibility for the top job especially Pranab Mukherjee, Tewari said he won't comment on their views as they are independent entities and they must be having their own understanding of any particular issue.
22:40  Rahul meets PM, seeks relief for drought-hit areas in Maha:  Rahul Gandhi, who had visited the drought-affected areas of Maharashtra last month, today met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to seek relief measures for the area. The Prime Minister assured the Maharashtra delegation led by Gandhi that Centre will take all possible steps to provide relief to the drought-affected people.
21:56  CBI summons Jagan Reddy over assets case:  A Central Bureau of Investigation court has summoned Kadapa Member of Parliament Y S Jaganmohan Reddy and 12 others, asking them to appear before it on May 28 in connection with a disproportionate assets case. 

Earlier in the day, the CBI had filed a third chargesheet in a special court in Hyderabad, naming Jagan as the prime accused.
21:32  Hillary and PM discuss nukes, FDI, Afghanistan:  Key strategic issues, including civil-nuclear cooperation, terrorism, the situations in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran were discussed between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. 

Clinton, who is in India on the last leg of her three-nation Asia tour, called on Dr Singh at his Race Course Road residence, during which the two sides discussed ways to enhance economic ties. The prime minister outlined the opportunities in the area of infrastructure, official sources said. 

The US Secretary of State also conveyed her country's expectations on the opening of Foreign Direct Investment in retail sector as well as a new set of economic reforms by the Indian government.
21:11  Rs 28.83 crore spent on VIPs' IAF travel!:  The Indian Air Force has incurred an expenditure of Rs 28.83 crore since 2009-12 in the form of air-travel of various dignitaries and an amount of Rs 11.80 crore remain outstanding, the government told the Lok Sabha on Monday.

In a written reply to the House, Defence Minister A K Antony said, "During the last three years -- from April 2009 to April 2012 -- dignitaries have travelled on 1,888 occasions by IAF aircraft/helicopters. The value of the bill raised by IAF against such airlift amounts to Rs 28.83 crore."
21:10  Antony submits report on poll debacle to Sonia:  A committee headed by Defence Minister AK Antony -- to find out the reasons behind the Congress' debacle in the assembly polls held earlier this year '" has submitted its report to party president Sonia Gandhi. 

The report has recommended strong action against those responsible for the Congress's defeat, said sources.
21:10  Clouds have cleared now: BJP on Rajasthan row:  The Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday claimed that the crisis in its Rajasthan unit had blown over and indicated that the Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly Vasundhara Raje is the undisputed head of the party there.

Top leaders of BJP, including Arun Jaitley, placated Raje on Monday morning over the phone and asked her to pipe down. She had gone public with her anger over her party colleague Gulabchand Kataria's decision to take out a yatra in the state.

"The clouds have cleared now and rains are expected.  There was one misunderstanding and it has been resolved. Raje is the undisputed leader. She is the Leader of the Opposition," said BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar.
20:21  Special status to Bihar: Nitish to write to PM:  Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today slammed the Centre for outright rejection of the demand for special status to Bihar and said he will write to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to put forth arguments as to why the state should be given special benefit.

"I will soon write to the prime minister to present the case of Bihar for grant of special status to catch up with the rest of the country in terms of national development average," he said.

"I will also apprise Dr Singh that how those states accorded special status by the Centre are much better off than Bihar as far the financial situation and natural resources are concerned," he said.
19:57  Clinton meets PM, Sonia; discusses S Asia security:  US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during which they discussed bilateral, regional and international issues that impinges on Indo-US ties.

Clinton, who is in New Delhi on the last leg of her three-nation Asia trip, met Dr Singh at his Race Course Road residence.

Apart from the security situation in the region, the two are believed to have touched upon Indo-US strategic partnership, which encompasses a whole gamut of key bilateral areas.

Later, Clinton also met with United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
19:50  Army chief defamation case transferred again:  The defamation case against Army Chief General V K Singh was today transferred to a different court after the one, hearing it earlier, refused to proceed with it due to the loss of confidence of petitioner and former Lt Gen Tejinder Singh's counsel in it.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Amit Bansal transferred the case to a new court of Metropolitan Magistrate Jay Thareja for further proceedings in the matter and directed Tejinder Singh to appear before it on Tuesday.

The case was referred back to the ACMM by Metropolitan Magistrate Sudesh Kumar who had earlier reserved his order on Tejinder Singh's complaint for summoning the army chief and four other army officials as accused in the defamation case.

The case file has been received vide order dated May 5 by Metropolitan Magistrate Sudesh Kumar requesting that he does not wish to proceed with the trial of the case and be transferred elsewhere.  The case is withdrawn from the court of Metropolitan Magistrate Sudesh Kumar and is transferred to the court of Metropolitan Magistrate Jay Thareja for further proceedings as per law," ACMM Bansal said.

Besides the army chief, Tejinder Singh has named Vice Chief of Army Staff S K Singh, Lt Gen B S Thakur (DG MI), Major General S L Narshiman (additional director general of public information) and Lt Col Hitten Sawhney, accusing them of misusing their official positions, power and authority to level false charges against him.
19:43  Poll debacle: Antony submits report to Sonia :   The Congress committee headed by Union Minister AK Antony to look into the party's poll debacle in Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections submitted its report to chief Sonia Gandhi on Monday evening. The Antony committee report made the following three recommendations:

1) Party leaders, president, state chiefs should be accessible, said the report.
2) No ticket for relatives
3) Instill disciple in the party, compliance

The report of the Antony committee, which also has Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit and Union Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde as members, is learnt to have avoided any critical assessment of Rahul Gandhi's role, who had undertaken a vigorous campaign in UP in order to rebuild the party.

The committee had the mandate to look into the causes of the Congress rout in Goa as also the shock defeat in Punjab and the performance in Uttarakhand.

19:13  Fishermen row: Centre slams Italy for moving SC :  Italy has no rights to go to top court on fishermen killing, said the Centre.

The Italian government had on April 20 approached the Supreme Court seeking the release of its two navy personnel who were arrested by the Kerala police for the killing of two Indian fishermen.

The period of remand in judicial custody of the two Italian Marines has been extended till May 11. They are presently lodged at a cell in the Central Prison in Thiruvananthapuram.

MV Enrica Lexie, the Italian oil tanker involved in the killing of two Indian fishermen on February 15, left the Kochi coast late Saturday night with Supreme Courts permission.
18:57  Hillary Clinton arrives at 7 RCR to meet PM:  US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has arrived at Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh''s official 7, Race Course Road residence in New Delhi on Monday evening to exchange pleasantries with him.

She will later in the day meet United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi at her 10, Janpath residence.

Clinton, who arrived in New Delhi on Monday afternoon after winding up her one-day visit to Kolkata, was received by India''s Ambassador to the United States Nirupama Rao and senior officials of the Ministry of External Affairs and the US Embassy in Delhi.

Earlier in the day, Clinton met West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata, who described her meeting with visiting United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as constructive and creative.
18:27  2G scam: HC notice to CBI on plea by Kalaignar TV MD :  The Delhi High Court today asked the CBI to respond to DMK-run Kalaignar TV Managing Director Sharad Kumar's plea for quashing of criminal charges against him in the 2G spectrum allocation case. "Issue notice to the CBI for May 10," Justice M L Mehta said, taking note of Sharad Kumar's petition. He is facing trial in the 2G case along with Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi, former Telecom Minister A Raja and 14 others.
18:25  No dissolution of Medical Council of India: Govt:  The Government today ruled out dissolution of the Medical Council of India, which was mired in a controversy sometime back, but said it would be brought
under the proposed National Commission for Human Resources for
Health (NCHRC). Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad also said in the Lok
Sabha that autonomous institutions like MCI, Nursing Council of India and Dental Council of India will be subsumed under the umbrella NCHRH.
17:59  If I lose, I will go off and make money: Sarkozy:  

So, it's goodby and farewell to Nicolas Sarkozy. The Independent says that Sarkozy will now seek a new life outside politics. He told journalists privately as long ago as January: "If I lose, you won't be seeing me again... I will go off and make some money."



17:53  SC upholds death for Bangalore serial killer :  

Just in: Bangalore serial Umesh Reddy's mercy petition over the death penalty awarded to him has been rejected. The Supreme Court observed that Reddy was an ex-policeman, who had become a habitual pervert and violent offender, who not only commits robbery but also to satisfy his lust, attacks helpless women and commits rape and, in murdered Jayashree brutally after having violent sexual intercourse with her.

Umesh Reddy was convicted by a High Court division bench on October 4, 2007, for the rape and murder of one Jayashree Maradi Subbaiah, a widow, on February 28, 1998.

17:45  If you know, tell us where is Zawahiri: Pak to US:  

Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said today that if the United States has any solid intelligence information on the presence of al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri in Pakistan, it should be shared so that the country can look into the matter accordingly. Khar was speaking in response to  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's statement in India.

Read the report on the Tribune.

17:38  Twitter on Palash Sen's Satyamev claim:  

Ambesh Tiwari @ambesh_tiwari First Amol Gupte for TZP, then Chetan Bhagat for 3Idiots and now Palash Sen for Satyamev Jayte! Aamir and credit issues!  


Karthik Srinivasan ' Did not expect Palash Sen to stoop so low and claim copyright baselessly over Satyamev Jayate song


Tejkaran Singh Bajaj ' @tejkaranAamir's Satyamev Jayate song was aired on television atleast 2 weeks back. So why is Palash Sen waking up now?

17:35  Satyamev Jayate signature tune stolen?:  

Euphoria''s lead singer Palash Sen, who is known well for his album Dhoom, has sent a legal notice to the Satyamev Jayate team accusing it of having picked up the show's anthem tune from one of his songs.

"I was shocked when I heard it. In 2000, Euphoria released its second album Phir Dhoom, and one of its songs was named Satyameva Jayate. And the chorus of composer Ram Sampath''s version of Satyamev Jayate is exactly the same as the chants in our song,' said the singer. "They could have asked me and I'd have agreed at one go. I wouldn't have asked for money. I would have just asked for a small credit to the band for the song," he adds. Ram Sampath, composer of the anthem for Aamir's TV show refused to comment over the topic.

17:33  Superstitious Jaya wants meet timing changed:  Our Delhi sources tell us that Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia has considered a special request from Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha to move the annual plan discussion of the state from 3:30 pm to 2:30 pm on May 15. The main reason for Jayalalithaa's special request was the inauspicious Rahu Kalam time.(Tuesday -- 3 pm to 4:30 pm).

Go begging: Government tells private schools to seek help from private sector to fund education of underprivileged children

Read the report on the Daily Mail.  


Ramesh Srivats  @rameshsrivats We need to replace UPA with UPS. RT @starnewslive No electricity in Parliament for the past 25 minutes.


Ramesh Srivats @rameshsrivats MPs to Manmohan Singh: Sir. We have no power. | MMS: What? Tou too

17:22  Us amateurs shouldn't spend time on prez polls: Infosys boss:  

Refusing to be drawn into the debate over presidential candidature, Infosys mentor N R Narayana Murthy today said the decision of choosing the best
candidate should be left to leaders of political parities.

"There are leaders of various political parties who are very competent, who know the situation very well and they will take the best decision and select the best candidate.

"Therefore, I do not think any of us, amateurs, should be spending time on who will be the candidate, who should not be the candidate. Therefore, let us leave it to the people who have the prerogative to take the decision.

"I am positive that they will take the right decision. It is not for me to comment on that," Murthy told reporters at the sidelines of the convocation of Jawaharlal Nehru Technology University, Hyderabad. 

17:10  Immortalising the Bengali voice of Bose's Azad Hind Radio :  

The exceptional story of Hariprobha Basu Mallik, the first woman from the Indian subcontinent to write a book in Bengali on Japan in 1915, whose life has been recreated on the celluloid by veteran Bangladeshi director Tanvir Mokammel in his latest documentary Japani Bodhu (The Japanese Wife) that is scheduled to premiere in India in June.


Read the story on the Daily Mail.

17:04  Brit woman who married a Berber tribesman:  

My best friend stared at me as if I had announced that an asteroid was about to obliterate life on Earth. I had just told her that I was moving to Africa to marry a man I had met only six months previously, and her reaction was typical of the scepticism which greeted me whenever I told anyone about my exciting plan.


Read the Daily Mail story

17:01  How Prince William met the Rottweiler:  

A rush of tabloid stories: No royal author has better insight into Prince William than Penny Junor, who has used her unique contacts to write the most definitive ever account of his life in a major new biography. She reveals how hard William found it to warm to the woman his mother always called the Rottweiler.

Read more on the Daily Mail

16:59  Mamata wants Tollywood, Bollywood, Hollywood synergy:  

And this is Mamata's grand plan on Bollywood, Hollywood and Tollywood.

The WB Chief Minister told Clinton that Hindi films have a lot of followers in America and sought a joint endeavour from the US to work together for the development of Bengal's entertainment industry along with Bollywood and Hollywood. 

"I told her that if we create a synergy between Bollywood, Tollywood and Hollywood then our people (artistes) can go there and their people can come here. She liked my suggestion", the CM said.Clinton told her that they would discuss the topic and tell her. 

Mamata added, "I told her that we also watch a lot of Hollywood films here."

16:49  Clinton to meet PM at 6 pm, Sonia at 7 pm :  US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has reached New Delhi this afternoon after winding up her one-day visit to Kolkata. Clinton was received by India''s Ambassador to the United States Nirupama Rao and senior officials of the Ministry of External Affairs and the US Embassy in Delhi.

During her stay in New Delhi, Clinton will call on Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh at his official 7, Race Course Road (RCR) residence at 6 pm today, which would be followed by a meeting with United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi at her 10, Janpath residence at around 7 pm.

16:41  Rash driving: 15-day jail term for John Abraham:  

The Bombay High Court today upheld the 15-day imprisonment handed to Bollywood actor John Abraham for rash and negligent driving and injuring two persons in 2006, but released him on probation after it took a lenient view.

John will not spend time in jail as the court has released him on probation under the Probation of Offenders Act. 


"It is the responsibility of the driver to see to it that the vehicle is under his control at all times so as to avoid such sudden accidents. Hence, it cannot be said that the lower court's order of conviction was incorrect. There is no ground made out to set aside the conviction," Justice R C Chavan observed.

16:34  Aamir Khan's concern should be ours too:  

11 am Sunday morning may  now mean almost empty streets across India. As Aamir Khan's Satyamev Jayate aired yesterday, here's what the reviews said.

On The women who unburdened themselves of their anguish on television won't win a gift hamper sponsored by a corporate; but if it could make us pause and think, Aamir Khan's effort will not have been wasted. Read Saisuresh Sivaswamy's piece.


And on Aamirs truth is a little too one-sided, stereotypical

On IBN Live: Satyamev Jayate: Why the cynics are wrong

16:25  Our fly on the wall in Parliament tell us...:  

RJD leaders Lalu Prasad and Raghuvans Prasad Singh took a dig at Sadanand Tiwari JD(U) leader for using the iPad and iPhone. Lalu wanted to know when Tiwari learnt to use the iPad.

Even with the Rajya Sabha in session, Tiwari would browse websites in the House. Tiwari, a close friend of Lalu, had opposed the imposition of English. But now, pointed out Prasad, Tiwari had fallen into the trap of the 'tablet computer era'. Incidentally, Sharad Yadav JD(U) leader in the Lok Sabha never uses mobile phones and in fact, does not have one.

16:13  BJP moves privilege motion against Azad for graft :  

More than the usual din in the Lok Sabha today after BJP MP Maneka Gandhi had heated exchanges with Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad alleging massive corruption in granting licences to medical colleges

An angry Azad said, "You can't level wild allegations without any evidence."

Gandhi said crores of rupees were being demanded as bribes by members of the board of governors of the Medical Council of India (MCI).

The BJP has now decided to move a privilege notice against Azad for allegedly giving wrong facts about the health ministry on 15 occasions in the last three years.

15:57  Just in: Indo-Pak Home Secretary-level talks to be held in Islamabad on May 24 and 25, announces the Ministry of Home Affairs.
15:55  Treasury benches empty in Lok Sabha:  Our sources in Delhi tell us that the first two rows of the Treasury benches in the Lok Sabha was empty. Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, who has always been punctual, did not turn up till 11.45 am, a little before Sonia Gandhi, who walked in at 11:30 am. Question Hour began at 11 am. Senior Congress MPs wondered later in Central Hall how could UPA2 can pull on for another two years with this kind of absence.
15:43  When Lifebouy was the soap you bought and Pears was posh:  

Red Lifebuoy was the soap you washed your hands with afterwards. Cinthol (green) was the bar to bathe with except for people with aspirations who bought Moti, a fat round of soap too large for small hands, or Pears. But Pears was posh; any household that routinely used Pears wasn't middle class; it was the sort of place that bought crates of Coca Cola instead of bottles of Kissan orange squash, where the children went to boarding school and owned complete sets of Tintin.


Mukul Kesavan's piece on the Telegraph on remembrance of things past.

15:38  Sena wants Bharat Ratna for Dadasaheb Phalke:  

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut today moved the Rajya Sabha for the Bharat Ratna to be posthumously awarded to Dadasaheb Phalke, on the occasion of 100 years of Indian cinema.

Raising the matter during zero hour, he also demanded that a postal stamp be issued to commemorate the centenarary of Indian cinema. 

"Phalke is credited with making 95 movies and 26 short films in his 19-year career and it is now time to honour this great doyen of the film industry, who has been conveniently forgotten," Raut said.

15:24  Lalu is frustrated, mentally bankrupt: Nitish :  

Always interesting -- what Nitish Kumar said about Lalu Prasad Yadav.

The Bihar CM today called Lalu a 'frustrated man' in response to his comments about his shaking hands with his Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi in
New Delhi. 

"It was a chief ministers' meeting on the proposed NCTC.  If anybody shakes your hand how can one avoid such a situation," Kumar said last night when on arrival from New Delhi reporters sought his response about Prasad's comment on the issue. 

"Lalu Prasad is frustrated and such comments are (borne) out of sheer mental bankruptcy", Kumar said with a smile.

Lalu, had yesterday questioned the 'secular credentials' of Nitish Kumar in the wake of the latter's exchange of pleasantries with his Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi at the NCTC conference.


Also read on Open magazine: Editor-in-Chief of Bihar

15:16  From Hillary didi's mouth to Mamata's ears: Five lessons:  

I was really tempted to do a meme of Hillary Clinton and Mamata, a friend told me. He was referring to the famous Texts from Hillary meme that has become quite the social media rage. But he decided not to do it. Who knows? Mamata might track me down and come after me, he said. 

Read more on

15:11  Offences can be made out against Modi: Ramachandran:  

Here is the report filed by amicus curiae Raju Ramachandran on the Gulberg Society massacre. Read


The Ahmedabad court hands over the SIT report on the Gulberg Society massacre during the post-Godhra riots to Zakia Jafri. The metropolitan court in Ahmedabad handed over the final copy of the SIT report today, a month after the Supreme Court-appointed SIT gave Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi a clean chit.

The report had sought a closure in the probe as it found no evidence against Narendra Modi. Apart from the SIT report, which runs into 25,000 pages, Jafri also got a copy of the Amicus Curiae report.  

15:07  Complete transparency in chopper procurement: Antony:  

Government today assured the Lok Sabha that complete transparency would be maintained in the on-going procurement process for 197 helicopters for defence forces after the earlier Eurocopter deal was scrapped. 


Defence Minister A K Antony informed the Lok Sabha during Question Hour that the Eurocopter deal was cancelled after some anomalies were discovered.    


"There was a proposal by the Indian army and the Air Force to procure 197 helicopters from Eurocopter. It was in final stages and the contract was about to be signed. We received some complaints of malpractices in trials," he said.


Antony maintained that he immediately ordered an inquiry and found there was truth in the complaints. "Eurocopter contract was cancelled immediately," he said. Subsequently, a new Request for Proposals (RFP) for 197 helicopters was issued. 


"When the process was in final stages, again we got a series of complaints from MPs.... We decided to appoint a Special Technical Oversight Committee," Antony said. The procurement process for these choppers is on. "After going through everything, if anything goes wrong we will again cancel it," Antony said. 

14:56  The finance minister also announces the withdrawal of provisions in Customs and Excise rules under which bail was denied till public prosecutor was heard.
14:55  Public hearing on Gujarat encounter deaths on May 14-15:  

A public hearing into encounter killings will be held in Gujarat on May 14-15 by the National Human Rights Commission. NHRC chairman Justice K G Balakrishnan, a retired Chief Justice of India, will preside over the hearing in Ahmedabad to enable families of the victims of encounter killings to tell their story instead of being called to Delhi for an appearance.

Sources said the chairman felt a visit to Gujarat was warranted in view of complaints pouring in about a number of allegedly stage-managed encounters in which former minister Amit Shah and several police officials had been arrested. The CBI is already probing some of these cases.

14:49  Mukherjee also announced the withdrawal of TDS on immovable property as proposed in the Budget. The government also halves the capital gains tax on private equity to 10 per cent. Details awaited.

The Budget had brought both non-branded and branded gold jewellery under the ambit of excise duty. Similarly, the Customs duty on standard gold and platinum bars was increased from 2 per cent to 4 per cent, and on non-standard gold from 5 per cent to 10 per cent. Besides this, PAN number is needed for buying gold jewellery worth Rs 2 lakh or more in cash.

The government today succumbed to pressure from gold traders and withdrew the levy on branded and non-branded gold ornaments.

14:33  Mukherjee also announces that there will be no excise duty on purchase of jewellery valued Rs 5 lakh against earlier threshold of Rs 2 lakh.
14:31  Gold becomes cheaper, excise duty rolled back:  Just in: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee announces in the Lok Sabha that the levy on all precious metals, branded or unbranded stands withdrawn. In effect, this means that the gold has become cheaper as the government has rolled back hike and excise duty on branded and non-branded gold items.
14:23  Mamata's homework for date with Hillary :  How Mamata Banerjee prepared for her maiden meeting with Hillary Clinton... Read the report on the Telegraph.
14:21  Just in: The Supreme Court reserves order on a PIL seeking direction to the government to hold an inquiry against former CJI K G Balakrishnan for his
alleged misconduct.
14:15  US to invest in IT, manufacturing, tourism, health, education :  

Here's what the US will invest in, according to Mamata Banerjee: The areas identified for US investment were IT, software sector, manufacturing, deep sea port, tourism, health care and education.

"They will give full support for economic and business  development," Banerjee said, adding that Chief Secretary Samar Ghosh and US Ambassador Nancy Powell would coordinate and monitor the progress. Describing her meeting with Clinton as "positive, constructive, creative and concrete", the chief minister said
that Teesta water-sharing agreement and FDI in retail issues did not figure in the discussion.

"There were no talks about Teesta (water-sharing with Bangladesh). There were no talks on FDI in retail. No nuclear or strategic issues were discussed," Banerjee said in reply to a volley of questions.

14:12  The insensitive Indian:  

Opinion piece on the Hindu: Two students from the North-East have died unnatural deaths in the last few days. Dana Sangma, a student from Meghalaya studying for an MBA at an institute in Gurgaon, committed suicide after she was accused by her college of cheating; Richard Loitam, a student of architecture from Manipur, was found dead in his hostel room in Bangalore from head injuries. 



14:09  SC grants bail to Naxal ideologue Narayan Sanyal:  The Supreme Court tdoay granted bail to CPI (Maoist) leader Narayan Sanyal who was convicted in a sedition case along with Dr Binayak Sen. The apex court has asked Narayan Sanyal to furnish a bail bond of Rs 1 lakh before the trial court. While granting bail, the court took into account the fact that he was 78 years old and had served 6 years of the 10-year sentence.
14:07  Russia's Putin back as president:  

In world news, Vladimir Putin has been inaugurated as president of Russia in a ceremony in the capital, Moscow. Putin is returning to the presidency after an absence of four years in which he served as prime minister. The outgoing President, Dmitry Medvedev, was widely seen as an ally of Putin.

Read more on the bbc.

14:00  SC may allow Chishti to visit Pakistan temporarily:  

In other news, the Supreme Court today indicated that it may allow 82-year-old Pakistani microbiologist Mohammed Khalil Chishti, awarded life term in a 20-year-old murder case, to visit his country temporarily. 


Necessary instructions from the Union ministries of the home affairs and the external affairs about the conditions that could be imposed on Dr Chishti, pending disposal of his appeal against his conviction are being sought. 


The bench gave the directions amid the Centre's objection that if allowed to go to Pakistan temporarily, Chishti may not return to India at all. He is presently out on bail, but has been asked to confine himself to Ajmer only. 

13:57  On Twitter :  Krantikari Vicharak ' @pandyahardik4 Hillary Clinton should know 2 rules of partnering with Mamta Banerjee; 1. Didi is never wrong & 2. If Didi is wrong apply rule no. 1
13:55  Mamata sweetens Hillary meet with sandesh:  

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her entourage were treated to traditional Bengali sweets katcha golla and sandesh during the meeting with
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at Writers' Building.
Hillary drank black coffee without sugar at the nearly hour-long meeting which took place at the conference room. 

The chief minister, who was clad in her trademark blue bordered sari and chappals, gifted Clinton a kantha-stitch scarf, one of her own paintings and copies of Rabindranath Tagore's Gitanjali and Gitabitan.

13:53  Afghans can take over if French troops pull out: Official:  

In other news, the first thing on president-elect Francois Hollande's agenda seems to be the withdrawal of  French troops in Afghanistan if the country is ready to take responsibility for security, by 2014.

Hollande made a campaign promise to pull French soldiers out of Afghanistan this year, ending his country's combat role two years earlier than NATO's carefully crafted plan to hand security control to Afghans by 2014.

Reacting to the pledge, Afghan ministry spokesman General Mohammad Zahir Azimi said, "For us a NATO stance is more important than individual
decisions by individual nations and Afghanistan is well prepared to take over all security responsibilities in 2013."


And another surprise: Hillary Clinton at the interactive session at La Mart's schoold said that FDI in retail was on the agenda of talks with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has been opposed to attempts to open up the retail sector to foreign direct investment. "This is certainly in the list of things I want to talk about," Clinton said.

The US, which has high stakes in gaining entry into the huge Indian retail market, is actively pursuing opening up of the sector to FDI. "But I primarily want to meet the chief minister. I don't want to say we want this and this in our first meeting," Clinton said. 


Mamata Banerjee in her media briefing after the Hillary one-on-one said FDI on retail and the Teesta water sharing issue did NOT come up for discussion.

13:35  Hillary: Want to talk on Teesta with Mamata:  

Strangely enough, ahead of her meeting with Mamata, Hillary Clinton had said that the water-sharing issue between India and Bangladesh should be solved amicably. "These are certainly on the list of things I would want to talk about,"

Clinton said this at an interactive session in Kolkata when asked whether sharing of the Teesta waters with Bangladesh would be on her agenda of talks with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. 

Stating that the United States had no interest in how the water-sharing pact was arrived at, she said that it wanted the issue to be amicably resolved as "these will become hot issues, literally hot issues in the future." 

Clinton said, "Water is an issue that will increasingly become contentious. "The alternative will be perhaps a conflict which will lead to dislocation, refugee problems and destabilisation that we are seeing in places in North Africa. We have to work
together," she said.

13:23  Breaking news: The Supreme Court grants bail to CPI (Maoist) activist Narayan Sanyal sentenced to life term in a sedition case in Chhattisgarh.

Mamata says she quoted from Tagore's Gitanjali -- Where the mind is without fear... " for Clinton.

13:19  Mamata: Hillary did not raise FDI, Teesta at meeting :  Mamata says she will not reveal any strategic affairs discussed at the meeting, but said FDI and Teesta never came up for discussion.
13:16  FDI was never discussed: Mamata:  

Mamata, with a now, permanent smile on her face says she "really wanted to meet Clinton."

Mamata says Clinton gifted a painting on cloth to Mamata which has Tagore's poem Aguner poroshmoni on it.

Mamata says she told Clinton that Bengal intends to host a world religion meet on the lines of the Chicago Parliament of Religions where Swami Vivekananda had wowed the world. 

13:12  Told Hillary that Kolkata could be the new IT hub: Mamata:  

Mamata says she told Hillary that Kolkata could be the new IT hub. She says the US appreciates the work her government has done and has promised to invest in Bengal.

Due to political reasons, there was no investment from the US, says Mamata, but all that is going to change. Hillary has promised US investment in the state. Mamata also told Hillary about the scope of US investment in the Bengal film industry. Mamata says post-modernisation investment has also been discussed.

Told Hillary that SRK is a huge star in India (a reference to the star's detention in a US airport recently.)


Not a word on FDI on retail yet.

13:03  Mamata says in principle Clinton has agreed to invest in education, has promised all help in development. She tells reporters that, "We had a very positive, constructive, creative and concrete discussion." 

Mamata says Clinton appreciated my passion for work and promised investment in Bengal.


Mamata Banerjee addressing a press conference after the meeting with Hillary Clinton.

She says in Bengali that she met Clinton for an hour and the meeting was fruitful. She said Clinton congratulated her on the new government coming to power in West Bengal.

Clinton also complimented Bengal on its passion for work (oark). She said the meeting was constructive.


Here is former Bengal CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's reaction to Hillary Clinton's visit.

Buddhadeb could not resist a veiled reference to Clinton's visit on the day the US secretary of state landed in Calcutta. "Writers' had been painted earlier (after the new government came to power). But now it has once again got a fresh coat of paint. Why? Because a guest is coming,' Bhattacharjee told a CPM rally this evening at Khardah, North 24-Parganas. "And the new government in the state is to their liking. That is why there is a sajo sajo rob (cry for dressing up) at Writers'."


Read the Telegraph report.

12:45  As always, the hilarious Paul Beckett on the Wall Street Journal. This time, on the Mamata-Clinton meet. Read 
12:36  Mamata gifts Clinton books on Tagore, Vivekananda:  

Our Kolkata correspondent tells us that a nine-page report was submitted to Hillary Clinton, which spoke about Trinamool Congress' ascent in Bengal and Mamata Banerjee's political journey starting in the college campus and ending with her becoming the chief minister.

During Hillary Clinton's visit to Kolkata school La Martiniere for Girls' this morning, fashion designer Agnimitra Pal talked to the US Secretary of State on the need to popularise jute textiles in the US.

Clinton welcomed the idea and asked Pal to broach the issue through the Fashion Council of India and promised all assistance to Pal.


Mamata Banerjee has gifted Hillary Clinton, Rabindranath Tagore's Gitanjali  and Gitabitan, and the collected works of Swami Vivekananda. She also presented Clinton a scarf from Shantiniketan. Clinton has now left Writers' Building. Mamata will address the press in a bit.

Gitanjali -- a collection of poems -- won Tagore the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913, while Gitabitan is a collection of nearly 3000 songs and poems written and composed by Tagore.  

12:27  Meanwhile, Antony tells Parliament that the government will cancel chopper acquisition plans again if any wrongdoing found by special technical oversight committee.
12:25  Mamata in white, Clinton in electric blue :  

Back to Kolkata:

Our correspondent tells us that around 11.03 am, Banerjee, clad in her signature white Tangail sari, received Clinton, looking resplendent in an electric blue jacket and black trousers. 

Clinton also wore a dazzling diamond bracelet and a diamond ring. After exchanging the customary namaste, the duo stood for a while in front of a huge photograph of Rabindranath Tagore decorated with flowers. Incidentally, May 8 is Tagore's 151st birth anniversary, which Mamata wants the Centre to declare as a national holiday.

During the 20-minute one-on-one discussion with Banerjee, Clinton showed enthusiasm in investing in education after getting positive vibes from Banerjee on the issue.

The Chief Minister said her government was keen to make some definitive changes as far as culture, industry and education are concerned. It is heard that Clinton tried to convince the West Bengal Chief Minister about the necessity of foreign direct investment in retail.

12:11  Zakia Jafri gets SIT report on Gulberg carnage:  

Just in: The Ahmedabad court hands over the SIT report on the Gulberg Society massacre during the post-Godhra riots to Zakia Jafri. The metropolitan court in Ahmedabad handed over the final copy of the SIT report today, a month after the Supreme Court-appointed SIT gave Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi a clean chit. The report had sought a closure in the probe as it found no evidence against Narendra Modi. Apart from the SIT report, which runs into 25,000 pages, Jafri also got a copy of the Amicus Curiae report.  

Jafri, the widow of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri who was among 69 persons killed in the Gulberg society carnage.

12:04  AK Antony tells Parliament: Army is battle-ready :  

Right now in Parliament, defence minister AK Antony is being hauled over the coals on the Tatra truck deal. In his defence, Antony says the government makes procurements according to the needs of the Army.  

He says no purchases were made after 2008 and the 6,500 trucks it bought were always purchased on the requirement of the army. The government has not imposed it on the defence forces.

Antony also said the armed forces are ready to meet any challenge  and in effect, is battle ready.

11:55  Devastating if Iran developed N-bomb: Hillary:  

And on the Iran oil imports, Clinton said: There was adequate oil supplies available from countries like Saudi Arabia. The US has been urging India and other countries to slash oil imports from Iran aimed at stepping up pressure on
Tehran to comply with international demands over its nuclear programme.

Clinton said it could be "devastating" for the world if Iran developed a nuclear bomb. She said that Iran has been regularly flouting international obligations  especially its insistance on nuclear proliferation.

11:52  Pak has lost more to terrorism than India, US: Clinton:  Hillary Clinton's statement on Pakistan has been oft repeated during every visit to the sub-continent. Today, she said that Pakistan has not done as much as the US and India wanted it to do to fight terrorism. "Pakistan has lost far more people than India and the US. 30,000 lives have been lost in Pakistan in terroist attacks. It is in their interest that Pakistan should deal with the problem of terrorism," Clinton said. "We want to disable al Qaeda. We have made lots of
progress. Many of their leaders are on the run. Some are in Pakistan. We want to go after them," she said.
11:49  TMC MP Derek O'Brein on Clinton's visit: "Bengal is no more about yesterday and day before yesterday, Bengal is all about tomorrow and day after tomorrow. I think it's not only a good beginning for Bengal but also the stature of the Chief Minister of Bengal."

The Telegraph, Calcutta attempts to answer the question that everyone has been asking: Why is Clinton visiting Kolkata? Here's what the newspaper says:

US officials said it would be a disservice to Clinton's landmark visit to downgrade it as a lobbying effort with chief minister Mamata Banerjee to tone down her political positions against foreign direct investment in retail or against the Teesta water accord, although they hazarded a guess that these issues may figure in Monday's talks in Calcutta. But these are not central to Clinton's visit and she is not visiting Bengal on a mission to change the chief minister's mind.


"It is only logical that since the secretary has come here from Dhaka, tensions over water could be a subject of mutual concern,' said one Obama administration official.


"Similarly, worries among American businessmen over the general investment climate in India have been on the secretary's mind for some time now.' The talks with Mamata will have no structured agenda and neither side will be constrained by rigid talking points. The pivot around which Clinton's rationale for travelling to Calcutta has been  built is the economic reality that as much as 56 per cent of Indias trade is now with Asia.

11:41  On the Telegraph, Calcutta: The two people Hillary Clinton desperately wants to meet during her India visit. 
11:39  Have no desire to run for president again: Hillary:  

At the meeting with Clinton, the Indo-Bangla Teesta Water Treaty, apart from the FDI in multi-brand retail, will be discussed -- both staunchly opposed by Mamata.

At the La Mart's session earlier, the US Secretary of State had earlier said she has no desire to make another run for the highest office in the land but hopes to see a female president in her lifetime.

Politely turning aside questions about her political intentions at a town hall event in Kolkata, Clinton today said she really wanted to see "that final glass ceiling" broken.

She noted, though, that the American political process is difficult and heavily dependent on fund raising, which makes it hard for any candidate to succeed. Still, she said she thinks there will be an election that will elect a woman president. As for herself, she says she is done with the political highwire. She says she just wants to "get back to taking some deep breaths".

11:34  Indo-Iran happening right now:  Apart from the Indo-US visit, an Iranian trade delegation on a six-day visit to India. Read
11:30  Hillary-Mamata one-on-one at Writer's begins:  This is a post on former Begum Khaleda Zia's facebook page. "Letter to Hillary Clinton"
11:26  Twitter on Hillary:  

Ramesh Srivats @rameshsrivats Mamata Banerjee meets Hillary Clinton today. They have much in common. Both have had trouble with Bills. 


Overrated Outcast Barkha Dutt seems to have upgraded her accent for the HillaryClinton town hall


Kanchan Gupta Clinton is mediating with Mamata Banerjee on behalf of Manmohan Singh? Agenda would suggest so.

11:22  Mamata has broken through glass ceiling of politics:  

At the La Mart's session Clinton said she was looking forward to meeting Mamata Banerjee, as she was keen to meet women who had broken through the glass ceiling of politics.

"When I meet such a woman, I know that irrespective of her background, or her political beliefs, we share the common bond of going through the fire of electoral politics," she said.  


And on Twitter, Hillary Clinton trends: Madhu 'MadMan' Menon  @madmanweb WTF is she smoking? Hillary Clinton says Kolkata is the economic hub of Asia


Mamata Banerjee is expected to seek US investment in the state during her one-on-one with Hillary Clinton now. Industrialisation will be the focus of the discussion, while Clinton wants Mamata's help to improve US ties with Bangladesh to counter global terrorism. Mamata is also expected to explain in detail how her party defeated the 35-year-old Left Front government in the state. Remember, this is Clinton's first-ever meeting with any Indian chief minister. 

Present at the meeting will be West Bengal finance minister Amit Mitra and Industries minister Partha Chatterjee.

11:13  Beaming Mamata greets Hillary at Writer's:  

Writer's Building has been dressed up and given a fresh coat of paint ahead of Clinton's visit. Remains to be seen whether Hillary can convince Mamata on FDI retail.


Hillary enters the hall at the Writer's Building and greets Mamata. On the agenda is FDI, multibrand retail...

A huge smile on Mamata's face as she leads Hillary to her office for a one-on-one.

11:07  Alright, Clinton is now set to meet Mamata Banerjee any moment now. You can see the CM waiting for Clinton's arrival. Mamata and Hillary will have a one-on-one at Writer's soon.
11:06  Clinton says she is confident that the relationship will India will only get deeper and broader as time goes by. "We can't agree on everything. We have a different perspective, history, challenges. But over three years we have created a mechanism for strategic dialogue where everything is put on the table for discussion and debate. I am confident that our relationship can only grow to greater strenghts."
11:02  Hillary: You can't take criticism personally:  

Back to the Hillary session: The US Secretary of State is now talking about dealing with criticism on social media and on media in general. Quoting Eleanor Roosevelt she says, "You need to grow skin as thick as a rhinoceros and you can't afford to take criticism personally."

Is Mamata Banerjee listening?



10:58  The session with Hillary at La Martiniere school has ended. While we sum up what happned in the last couple of minutes, you should know that French socialist Francois Hollande has won the country's presidential election. Hollande - who polled just under 52% of votes in Sunday's run-off election - said he was "proud to have been capable of giving people hope again". Centre-right incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy is the first French president not to win a second term since 1981. More on the BBC.
10:55  Clinton on India's oil imports from Iran:  

Earlier, during the session, a student asks her why the US wants India to reduce oil imports from Iran when India is not an oil producing nation.

Clinton says that Iran has been regularly flouting international obligations  especially its insistance on nuclear proliferation. "The international community feels that Iran has to be pressurized into changing its behavior, and it is this pressure that has convinced Iran to come back to the negotiating table."

She says that India has used and therefore understands the importance of using diplomacy to overcome obstacles.

10:51  Hillary: I authorised $10mn bounty on Hafiz Saeed:  

The session is being held at the Townhall at Kolkata's La Martiniere school. Clinton says she authorised the $10 million bounty for information on Hafiz Saeed.

She says, "It was our way of showing India that the US stands by it in its fight against terrorism. Both India and US are pluralistic societies and the threat from terrorism is a common factor because of our culture of tolerance."

Clinton pointed out that extremists hate tolerance. "They want everyone to think the way they do." 

And therefore she says she has told Pakistan that it is in their interests to have a strong counter terrorism operation.

10:45  Hillary talks outsourcing:  

At La Martineres girls school, Hillary is talking about outsourcing to India, a bearbug for the Obama government. The session is being held live on NDTV, anchored by Barkha Dutt.

A student asks if Indians should worry about their jobs. Dutt says that outsourcing has caused a lot of heartburn in India. Clinton says, "It's an election campaign, so there is an obligation to talk about what is on peoples mind. She says that Obama's campaign ad is directed at addressing the fears of people in manufacturing and don't have other job possibilities.

Yet again, she reiterates the importance of the relationship between India and the US, but steers clear of a directly answering the outsourcing question.

10:39  Hillary in conversation with Kolkata:  

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is at session at the La Martiniere School for Girls meeting.  The highlights of what the US Secretary of State said at the session:

This is very exciting for me to have this chance to back in this wonderful city after so many years. I was last here in 1995 honouring the work of Mother Teresa. The relationship between our two democracies is going to define the kind of future we have. Increasingly also, our strategic interests are aligned. India is taking on more responsibilities which is good news.

India's 'look-east' policy will be central to the growth of the whole Asia-pacific region. India stands in a strong position to help the people of Burma as they navigate their way through economic and political reforms.

Heart of India-Us relations is the people-to-people relationships. I discovered Tagore in college and have been a fan ever since. I have probably been asked everything in my long and public life. So please feel free to ask me anything...

10:35  Our Kolkata correspondent tells us that security around Writers' Building has made commute to the CBD difficult.
10:30  Two misses, yet Clinton had to make the Calcutta trip:  KP Nayar on the Telegraph: Plans for Hillary Clinton's current visit to India began with a roar but ended in much muter tones. While her plans for this trip may not have entirely fulfilled Clinton's desires, that should not deflect from the historic nature of a maiden visit by a US secretary of state to Calcutta and the long-term impact that it will inevitably have on America's engagement of India's eastern region and beyond. Read more
10:28  The Left is criticising Hillary Clinton's visit as 'an unnecessary interference' by the US into Bengal's political and economic affairs.
10:07  US-India ties most important: Hillary:  
Just in: United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that the relations between the US and India are most important in the world. 

Just in: More can be done to reduce barriers to trade and investment in the US and India, says Clinton.
10:02  French vote, Asian markets rock stock market:  
The BSE benchmark Sensex plunged nearly 290 points in early trade on Monday, extending losing streak for the fourth straight session, on sustained selling by funds amid a weak trend on other Asian bourses.

The 30-share barometer, which had lost over 488 points in the last three sessions, plunged further by 289.85 points, or 1.72 per cent, down at 16,541.23 points with banking, realty, capital goods, metals and auto stocks leading the fall.

The wide-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty dipped below psychological 5,000 points level to trade 91.15 points down, or 1.79 per cent, to 4,995.70 points. 

Brokers said continued selling by funds amid a weak trend on other Asian markets over fresh concerns about the euro zone debt crisis following defeat of ruling parties in France and Greece elections, mainly put pressure on the index.
09:43  Hillary visits Kolkata's La Martinere School:   Just in: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has arrived at the La Martinere School in south-central Kolkata for an interactive session with school children.

She will later in the day meet West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee
09:32  BJP in turmoil in Rajasthan; 54 MLAs offer to quit:  
A day after BJP leader Vasundhara Raje threatened to resign following differences over the proposed march of State party leader Gulabchand Kataria, 54 of the 79 party MLAs in Rajasthan offered to quit in her support, intensifying the feud and exposing the battle for the chief ministerial candidature for the 2013 assembly elections.

The MLAs gathered at Raje's Civil Lines residence on Sunday and submitted their resignations to her, amid reports that BJP president Nitin Gadkari has called a meeting in New Delhi for Monday.

Raje, who is Leader of the Opposition, had taken exception to Kataria's plan to take out a 'Jan Jagaran Yatra' in south Rajasthan and sent out signals that anyone other than her being projected as the BJP's chief ministerial face was not acceptable to her. The supporters raised slogans expressing solidarity with her and many of the MLAs described her as the leader with a stature 'taller than that of the party'.
09:16  Five reasons Francois Hollande is destined to FAIL:  
Nicholas Sarkozy, like France, was ill-equipped to handle the economic crisis that now threatens to pull France into Europes troubled bottom tier, down with Italy, Spain, and Greece. 

Sarkozys brand of centre-right nationalism had met its match. Now it is time for Francois Hollandes, shall we say, socialist nationalism. Despite his reputation as a would-be 'Mr Normal', Hollande offers an ideology far more grandiose in its self-regard than any associated with Sarkozy.

Forbes lists FIVE reasons why France's first leftwing president in 17 years is destines to fail. Read on
09:07  Mamata to gift Tagore, Vivekananda's works to Hillary :  West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will gift visiting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Rabindranath Tagore's Gitanjali and Gitabitan, and the collected works of Swami Vivekananda during a meeting with her on Monday.

Mamata informed that the collected works of Swamiji had been brought from Belur Math.

A scarf brought from Shantiniketan will also be presented to the visiting former US first lady by the Trinamool Congress chief.
08:53  How it matters for India if France swings to left:  Francois Hollande's stunning victory in the French presidential elections turns European politics upside down. The fact that he has never ever met German chancellor Angela Merkel or that British prime minister David Cameron refused to meet 'socialist' candidate Hollande when he crossed the Channel and went over to London to say 'hello', suggests a lot.

A 'socialist' wave is sweeping over Europe. Hollande is leading the 11th 'regime change'. Read further on M K Bhadrakumar's blog
08:39  UP health scam: CBI arrests ex-Lucknow CMO Shukla:  
The Central Bureau of Investigation on Monday arrested former Lucknow Chief Medical Officer A K Shukla for allegedly conspiring to kill two other Lucknow CMOs in jail.

Shukla worked in the UP Family Welfare Department and was arrested for financial irregularities in the Health Department in 2011.

Shukla was arrested earlier in connection with a corruption case but was later released on bail.
08:19  Top headlines this hour:   Good morning and welcome to Monday's edition of Live! News As It Happens.

The top headlines this hour:

Hillary to meet Mamata

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday as part of her three-day visit to the country, during which issues like Teesta Water Treaty and FDI are likely to come up. The meeting with the chief minister, the first such exercise by any US Secretary of State, is considered important as the Trinamool Congress chief had effectively stalled the UPA government's efforts last year for FDI in retail.

India's missile defence shield is active

The Defence Research and Development Organisation has developed a missile defence shield which can be put in place at short notice to protect at least two cities. United States, Russia and Israel are the only other nations who have such a missile defence shield.

The shield has been tested successfully and an incoming ballistic missile with the range of up to 2,000 km can be destroyed. The system is to be upgraded to the range of 5,000 km by 2016.

France has a new President

France handed the presidency on Sunday to leftist Francois Hollande, a champion of government stimulus programs who says the state should protect the downtrodden -- a victory that could deal a death blow to the drive for austerity that has been the hallmark of Europe in recent years.

Mild and affable, the president-elect inherits a country deep in debt and divided over how to integrate immigrants while preserving its national identity. Markets will closely watch his initial moves as president.

Obama invites new French President Hollande

President Barack Obama congratulated French president-elect Francois Hollande for his victory Sunday, but warned of "challenges" ahead, a clear reference to Afghanistan and eurozone debt crisis.

The US president was among the first world leaders to welcome Hollande's election as France's first Socialist president in nearly two decades, a result sure to have major implications for Europe as it struggles to emerge from a financial crisis.

Obama invited Hollande for bilateral talks at the White House later this month ahead of a G8 leaders meeting he will host at his Camp David retreat in Maryland between May 18-19, and a NATO transatlantic alliance summit in Chicago on May 20-21.

Aarushi case: HC to hear CBI petition on Rajesh's bail plea

The Allahabad High Court on Monday is set to hear the CBI's petition seeking cancellation of the bail plea of Rajesh Talwar, one of the prime accused in Aarushi-Hemraj double murder case.

Rajesh is currently out on bail which was sanctioned by the Supreme Court.

I am no one to change anything: Aamir

Elated by the response to his much-hyped television debut on Sunday, superstar Aamir Khan said he will bring up more issues on his show Satyameva Jayate, but he does not see himself as a change-maker. 

The first episode of the show, telecast on Sunday (May 6) morning, focused on the issue of female foeticide in India. 

"I am no one to bring change or solve anything... neither (is) the government. I can only keep the issues in front of everyone. The change should come from within. One person cannot improve or bring solution to an issue," Aamir told reporters.

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