May 22, 2012
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh while addressing allies and MPs during a dinner to mark UPA II's third anniversary admitted although a lot of work has been done during the last year, still his government needs to do better.
He also said that the internal security situation in the country has improved, and also emphasised on the fact that the country has witnessed a record food-grain production.
PM Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi then unveiled UPA II government's report card.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi who spoke at the function said that the government was firm on its priorities. She said that the government was being run with determination.
The Congress president warned that the next election would be judged by their work and not by promises. Sonia Gandhi also hit out against the government's opponents, saying that they were targeting the UPA with baseless arguments.
Kadapa MP and YSR Congress President Y S Jaganmohan launched a frontal attack on ruling Congress and main opposition Telugu Desam Party accusing them of hatching a conspiracy, in concert with CBI, to get him arrested in next 3 to 4 days in disproportionate assets case.
"It is being talked about that I will be arrested by CBI in 3-4 days. It's all part of a large conspiracy by Congress, TDP and CBI", he charged.
Addresing a byelection campaign rally in Jammalamadaka in Macherla assembly constituencies, Jagan alleged "their game plan is to get me arrested and create violence in the state and stop the by-elections (slated for June 12)".
Both Congress and TDP fear losing their deposits in the by-elections (to 18 Assembly constituencies and one Lok Sabha seat) and hence were trying to stall the bypoll process by fomenting unrest in the state, Jagan alleged.
Still no relief for Nupur Talwar who has been cooling her heels in Dasna jail since April 30. Nupur, is an accused in the murder of her daughter Aarushi and her servant, Hemraj, along with her husband Rajesh.
The CBI told a special court that the dentist couple themselves killed their daughter Aarushi and domestic aide Hemraj on May 15-16, 2008 night in their Noida flat. CBI counsel R K Saini made the allegation before Special Judge Shyam Lal during his argument on framing of charges against Talwars for their alleged roles in the sensational killings of their daughter and domestic aide.
Quoting from the postmortem report of the two, Saini said the Talwars killed them in quick succession one after one as there was not much gap between the timings of their deaths. He accused Talwar of slitting Aarushi throat to kill her.
Update on the Presidential polls. The CPI(M), which wants the President to be elected on the basis of "widest acceptability", today asked Congress and UPA not to delay any further the selection of their candidate for the top
"The more the delay, more names will be floated. It will be unfair to drag the names of people of repute into speculation. So, sooner it is (UPA decides on a name), the better," senior party leader Sitaram Yechury told reporters, just before NCP leader P A Sangma met CPI(M) General Secretary
Prakash Karat to drum up support for his Presidential ambitions.
Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh says he wants a political person as the president. Mulayam said he met Jayalalithaa over the issue, but refused to divulge the details.
"Everybody was telling me that if you don't increase the fares you are going to turn the railway coaches into coffins," Dinesh Trivedi, former railways minister, told India Ink in March, shortly after he was fired for proposing higher passenger fares in an effort to modernize and increase the safety of Indian railways.
The Rajya Sabha was adjourned sine die today after a three-month long Budget Session with Chairman Hamid Ansari expressing happiness that the House
worked to its "optimal capacity".
Ansari, however, regretted that some time was lost in disruptions and many starred questions could not be taken up. "We need to introspect on the distinction between dissent, remonstration, agitation and disruption," he said in his valedictory address.
The session had 35 sittings, including the Special sitting on May 13 to celebrate 60th anniversary of the sitting of first Lok Sabha in 1952.
The House sat for more than 165 hours during which more than 22 hours were lost on issues like alleged atrocities committed on Tamils in Sri Lanka, alleged scam in coal block allocation, allegations by the Army Chief on the report of bribe to him and creation of Telangana.
The House bade farewell to 58 members, including Deputy Chairman K Rahman Khan, whose term of office ended in April. Sixty-one new members joined the Upper House during the session.
In all 22 Bills were passed or returned during the session. A unique feature of this session was discussion on two statutory motions, a device which was used after a very long time, the Chairman said.
With rupee depreciation leading to a jump in oil import bill, Petroleum Minister S Jaipal Reddy today said there is an immediate need to raise fuel prices, but refused to say when the hike will actually take place.
"It (price increase) is very essential but (before hiking rates) we have to talk to political parties," he told reporters here on way to Ashgabat for signing of the agreement for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline.
The government had decontrolled petrol price in June 2010 but rates were last increased on November 4 last year. This despite oil price rising by 14 per cent and 7 per cent fall in value of rupee against the US dollar.
The declaration by US President Barack Obama at the NATO Summit clearly states that Pakistan should help the US withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by reopening the supply routes.
NATO officials and some diplomats have said Pakistan should understand that by reopening the border, it will facilitate the departure of U.S. and other combat forces from Afghanistan- a move which Pakistan's political forces desire.In the declaration, Russia and Central Asian countries received kudos for cooperating on supply routes for NATO's Afghanistan campaign, while Pakistan got a cold shoulder, reports the Christian Science Monitor.
A child terminally-ill with a brain tumour has been blessed by the Dalai Lama. Maya Skippen, 11, met the Tibetan spiritual leader after her shoeshiner dad Steven told a client of her devastating illness.
Researchers have come up with a promising cancer-fighting strategy for 'reactivating' genes that cause cancer tumors to shrink and die. The discovery by research team at Penn State University may aid in the development of an innovative anti-cancer drug that effectively targets unhealthy, cancerous tissue without damaging healthy, non-cancerous tissue and vital organs.
The researchers hope that their discovery will aid in the development of an innovative anti-cancer drug that effectively targets unhealthy, cancerous tissue without damaging healthy, non-cancerous tissue and vital organs.
A couple of health stories coming up...
A simple ten-minute memory test will effectively screen patients for early signs of Alzheimers and other forms of dementia, allowing faster treatment.
The CANTABmobile test distinguishes between normal forgetfulness and the more dangerous memory lapses that can signal dementia.
The test has been made available for use in GPs surgeries, according to the Daily Mail. Early diagnosis would allow patients to receive drug treatment when it would help them the most, letting them work and live independently for longer.
Leonardo DiCaprio's supermodel ex-girlfriend Bar Refaeli has topped the 2012 Maxim Hot 100 list. For the first time in the magazine's history, readers
were allowed to vote for the hotties, and there was overwhelming support for the 26-year-old Israeli stunner, reported Daily Star.
"Every year, it's a different girl that I look up to. For me to be among them, it's an honour," Refaeli said. The single model is hoping the honour will help her find a mate she can settle down with and start a family. "I'm looking for a friend that will make me laugh, that will teach me every day - that I can learn from, and that has the same values as me. It sounds very simple but it's very hard to find," she added.
Appreciating Kapil Sibal for bringing the bill, Swaraj said he had performed his "rajdharam (duty)" by according the deserved dignity to the artistes. She noted that several great lyricists, including Kuldeep Singh who penned the famous song 'itni shakti hamen dena daata, mann ka vishwas kamzor na ho', were living in bad conditions.
Noted lyricist and Rajya Sabha member Javed Akhtar, who has been spearheading the campaign for such a measure, was in the Rajya Sabha gallery as Swaraj said she was supporting the bill despite being told that film producers would be unhappy with her if she did so.
Song writers, artistes and performers, deprived of their dues so far, can now claim royalty for their creations with Parliament today approving a law to provide much-delayed justice to them. The Copyright Act (Amendment) Bill, 2012 was passed by the Lok Sabha, which witnessed unusual unanimity on the matter with members from all parties supporting the measure for creative artistes whose benefits are cornered by producers.
The bill, passed by the Rajya Sabha on May 17, declares authors as owners of the copyright, which cannot be assigned to producers as was the practice till now.
Noting that poor artistes had been left in the lurch as producers cornered all royalties, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said the new law will help them live a good life even in old age as they would continue to get their dues for their work during their heyday.
Despite the bad press that has dogged the Pakistani delegation during their trip, Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar appeared upbeat and sounded positive about the outcome of the attendance of the Pakistani delegation, headed by President Asif Zardari, at the Nato Summit in Chicago.
More on the Tribune
Scores of India's top businessmen have submitted testimonials to the Web siteFriends of Rajat, dedicated to correcting what it calls "a greatly unfair and incorrect caricature of the real Rajat Gupta" presented by the press.
Read the report on the New York Times
The CPI (M) today did not mince words when asked about its views on the performance of the UPA-II government. The party lambasted the government for "failing on all fronts" saying it has not fulfilled any promise to bring succour to the people, reeling under price rise, unemployment and corruption, and soughtconfiscation of illicit funds stashed by Indians abroad.
"In the three years of UPA-II rule, not a single step has been taken on any front to alleviate the burden of the people. The government is in a state of drift," senior party leaderSitaram Yechury said.
A day after the Lokpal Bill was tabled in Parliament, the BJP today said that it will make every effort to get the anti-corruption legislation passed. The party discussed the issue at a meeting of its Parliamentary Party during which it also criticised the government's White Paper on Blackmoney, which, it said, was "blank" and hid more than it revealed.
"The government has run away on Lokpal issue. It wants to delay the Lokpal issue," it said while taking strong objection to the government's handling of the issue. "Both the intention and policy of the government are not right on the issue. It only knows how to show off. Last time it got a copy of the Lokpal Bill torn and this time it got a resolution from another party. The government intends to delay the Lokpal Bill somehow," party spokesman Shahnawaz Hussain told reporters after the meeting.
On the Wall Street Journal, the call transcript between Raj Rajaratnam and Rajat Gupta. The former Goldman Sachs director Rajat Gupta has been accused of "throwing away his duties' when he passed confidential company information to hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam, a prosecutor told a US. court, even as defence argued that the Indian American was not an insider trader and "does not belong in this courtroom".
India is home to nearly 2.85 lakh refugees, including 1.05 lakh state-less people, the government today said. Of the 2,84,746 refugees taking shelter in India, 1,05,634 are state-less people, including Tibetans, Minister of State for Home Jitendra Singh said told Lok Sabha.
The country is home to 83,484 refugees from Bangladesh, 69,544 refugees from Sri Lanka and 19,115 from Afghanistan. Apart from 6,887 refugees from Myanmar, India is also home to 12 refugees from the United States, six from United Kingdom, 25 from Iran, 8 from China and 6 from South Korea, Singh said.
It is unlikely that the prime minister will be in any mood to celebrate the completion of the third year of his government. Manmohan Singh's second innings as prime minister of the United Progressive Alliance government has not brought either him or the country any joy.
The editorial on the Telegraph, Kolkata.
In an emotional post on his blog on his birthday, Malayalam superstar Mohanlal has said he feels scared to live in a place where people kill or "hire goons" to eliminate fellow-beings.
Referring to the brutal murder of Revolutionary Marxist leader T P Chandrasekharan at Onchiyam in Kozhikode district on May 4, he wondered if Kerala was turning into an asylum. In the note titled 'Ormayil Randu Ammamar (Thinking of two mothers)' posted yesterday, Mohanlal says he was not really happy on his 52nd birthday thinking and grieving about two mothers.
"My mother is in hospital for the last three months aftera brain stroke. And I think of the mother of Chandrasekharan who was brutally hacked to death. I can fathom the sea of grief in the mother's mind when she learns that her son ischopped to death," Mohanlal wrote in the blog.
Update on the AP train accident: Railway Minister Mukul Roy today said the railways was ready to provide employment to the next of the kin of those killed in the rail mishap at Penakonda in Andhra Pradesh.
"It is a very sad incident. Life is very precious. If anybody (kin) wants to join the railways, we will provide him or her with jobs," he said at Bengaluru International Aiport en route to the accident spot.
The two disc jockeys who played music at the rave party in suburban Juhu hotel were today called to police station for the second consecutive day for probe into the matter even as the investigators are trying to decode the language used in the invitation, police said. "DJ brothers Romeo and Deepesh Sharma of Designer Hippies were today called to the station for the second day
and their statement is being recorded," a police officer at Juhu police station said.
Expressing suspicion on the language used in the invite, police are taking the help of various party organisers to decode the communication. The invite says: "DESIGNER HIPPIES (United Beats Records, USA) ARE bringing the SUN "DOWN". Lets rock this town- so get ready to get high. Please do not try to FLY. Because Flying is an illusion not a Reality, come with us and we'll make you feel Gravity."
"By using such language, the organiser tried to indicate the patrons about the availability of the drugs in the party?" asked the officer. On May 20 night, police busted a rave party at Oakwood Premier hotel and rounded up 91 persons, including IPL players Wayne Parnell, Rahul Sharma and 19 foreign nationals.
From sly genius to unintentional spoofs, filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma s creativity has deteriorated from astounding to appalling. But the spirit and steadiness he demonstrates in doling out these monstrosities one after the other makes the man once responsible for films like Shiva, Rangeela, Satya, Kaun? and Company impossible to stay indifferent to.
More on rediff.com
Presidential hopeful PA Sangma has been allegedly snubbed by Sonia Gandhi. The UPA chairperson has refused to grant him a meeting on the presidential polls. However, 10 Janpath has denied that Sangma has sought a meeting with Sonia. Sangma had in the past, brought up Sonia's foreigner status.
NCP leader PA Sangma today met Naveen Patnaik and thanked the Odisha chief minister for supporting his candidature as the race to the Presidential election is heating up. Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa and Patnaik has rooted for PA Sangma as a Presidential candidature. Sangma says he has appealed to all parties as the NCP does not have the numbers to go it alone.
Will Mamata Banerjee rethink her nod for Meira Kumar's candidature for Presdient after she reads this?
The Lok Sabha Speaker has undertaken as many 29 foreign trips in 35 months since assuming the high office which means she has gone on a trip nearly every 37 days.The former IFS officer has visited 28 countries accompanied by MPs belonging to various parties as well as senior officials of the Lok Sabha secretariat incurring a total expenditure of nearly Rs 10 crore, according to information given to activist Subhash Agrawal under RTI Act.
Look who jumped into the fight between the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) and Shah Rukh Khan -- the MNS of course. The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena has decided to felicitate Vikas Dalvi, the security guard who took on SRK when he didn't allow the latter and his children to use the Wankhede ground after the match was over.
Filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma today said that he does not want to see Sanjay Dutt's face for the rest of his life as he had a "horrible time" working with the actor on Department.
The recently released film starred Sanjay Dutt, Amitabh Bachchan and Rana Dagubbati in the lead besides Anjana Sukhani and Abhimanyu Singh in pivotal roles. The film released on May18 and was panned by critics.
"Whatever else happening to Department I am supremely happy that I don't want to see the faces of Sanjay Dutt and Dharam Oberoi (CEO of Sanjay Dutt Productions) for the rest of my life," Varma wrote on Twitter.
While the shooting of the film was going on, there were reports that both Varma and Dutt were at loggerheads but they had denied differences while promoting the film.
Now, Varma has claimed that the actor kept bothering him with demands of script change. "From forcing me to take Kangana (Kangana Ranaut) out of the film to constantly cornering me to change screenplay, I had the most horrible time working with Dutt," Varma said.
"If Dutt and Oberoi think I am the bad in 'Department' lets wait for 'Zilla Ghaziabad' and Soham's film where I am not there to spoil their creative inputs," wrote Varma.
NCP leader PA Sangma on Tuesday met Naveen Patnaik and thanked the Odisha chief minister for supporting his candidature as the race to the Presidential election is heating up. Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa and Patnaik's decision to root for PA Sangma as a Presidential candidature.
"If necessary, I'll contest as an independent: Sangma poll candidate was prompted by their "understanding" that Sonia Gandhi would eventually pick a tribal leader as the UPA nominee.
Update on the AP train disaster. Twenty-four people were killed and over 40 injured when the driver of the Bangalore-bound Hampi Express apparently overshot the signal and rammed into the rear of a stationary goods train in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh in the wee hours today.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy today expressed grief over the train mishap at Penukonda in Anantpur district and asked officials to
expedite relief measures The Chief Minister would be leaving for the accident spot soon and meet the injured persons in hospitals.
Of them, 11 were charred to death in the first coach, which caught fire, while the rest were trapped to death in the third coach of the express train coming from Hubli in Karnataka which derailed at around 3:15 am at Penukonda
railway station. The first three coaches of the express train had derailed
due to the impact of the collision.
Little seems to have changed in international diplomacy. This is what the Dawn, Pakistan has from its archives, 50 years ago.
Official sources confirmed yesterday that Pakistan has conveyed its views to America on its reported race with Russia to be the first to give latest military equipment and aircraft to India, but said that no protest had yet been made. No protest or representation has been made to Britain or the Soviet Union, they added.
(This was when JF Kennedy was the President of the United States)
As UPA completes three years in office, BJP today claimed the government may fall anytime as coalition partners were unhappy and were not even ready to
break bread together.
During a discussion on the issue at the party's Parliamentary Party meeting in New Delhi, the BJP while referring to Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee refusal to attend a dinner hosted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, said the three years of UPA regime would be written in "black letters."
"Its allies are not happy with it. A leader of the ally party does not even want to eat food together. You can imagine the state of affairs... The UPA is not even in a position of eating snacks. "I wonder what would be the flavour of the dinner hosted to celebrate the three years of completion of government," said BJP spokesman Shahnawaz Hussain after the party's meeting. He said, "The completion of three years of UPA regime will be written in black letters."
Hardeep Singh, a father of two, leaves his home in west Delhi every day at around 2 pm. Dressed in a pair of light trousers and a shirt, he reaches a local charity, where he undresses to reveal his female clothes underneath and transforms into Seema.
See the amazing photo-essay on reuters
In a first definite indication of his son's future entry into the corner office, Wipro chairman Azim Premji has said his son Rishad Premji may succeed him as the non-executive chairman of the Bengaluru-based company.
In a recent interview with Bloomberg in New York, Premji, who with his family controls about 78 per cent of Wipro, said 'it would make sense' for Rishad to succeed him eventually.
On the Daily Mail: A teenager was killed by her Pakistan-born parents because they believed her Westernised lifestyle had brought shame on the family, a court heard yesterday.
The murder of SP Mahantesh, who succumbed to injuries five days after he was brutally attacked, is a gloomy reminder of the risks of being upright in an environment that stinks of corruption. It also reinforces the need to push through with the long delayed legislation to protect whistleblowers, who often reveal information in the public interest at great personal risk.
Read the editorial on The Hindu
What happens when shocking behaviour is almost predictable? The shock value diminishes? Not in the case of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who brought drama and excitement to a television news channel last week by walking out in the middle of a shoot after describing members of the invited studio audience as Maoist and CPI (M) cadres.
Worse, and more shockingly, she ordered police investigations against the students among the audience who had raised uncomfortable questions during the event.
Read the opinion piece on the Hindu
Barack Obama met Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari on the sidelines of the Nato summit in Chicago on Monday, but made no attempt to end a diplomatic standoff over Afghanistan supply routes -- a standoff that has cast a shadow over the meeting of world leaders.
Update on the Dharun Ravi trial.
The distraught parents of Dharun Ravi, sentenced for a month in prison for spying on his gay roommate, said he has suffered "enough" while the mother of
his roommate who committed suicide said her family has never heard an apology from the Indian-origin young man.
Ravi, 20, was sentenced yesterday in a New Brunswick court by Judge Glenn Berman in Superior Court in Middlesex County. In addition to 30 days in jail, set to begin May 31, Berman also sentenced Ravi to three years of probation, 300 hours of community service, and counseling regarding cyber bullying and alternative lifestyles.
Ravi must also pay a USD 10,000 fine, which will go to a facility dedicated to victims of bias crimes. "I heard this jury say guilty 288 times 24 questions, 12 jurors, that's the multiplication," the judge told Ravi, referring to the questionnaire jurors filled out in arriving at the verdict.
"And I haven't heard you apologise once". "I do not believe he hated Tyler Clementi," the judge told a courtroom packed with supporters of Ravi as well as with the Clementi family.
"I do believe he acted out of colossal insensitivity". During the sentencing hearing, Ravi's father Ravi Pazhani said for the past 20 months "we have witnessed several chapters of vengeful, malicious, selective prosecution filled
with lies and injustice".
On rediff.com: Ravi did NOT commit hate crime, says judge
The Rajasthan Police today served summons on superstar Shah Rukh Khan to appear in a Jaipur court on a complaint that he was seen smoking in public. SRK was seen on camera smoking during an IPL match at Jaipur's Sawai Man Singh stadium in April this year.
Just last week, the popular Bollywood actor was issued a five-year ban from entering Mumbai's Wankhede stadium after an alleged scuffle and exchange of words wth stadium staff and officials of the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA). The Board of Control for Cricket in INdia is still looking into that matter. More on NDTV
Guns are increasingly popular with well-off Indian women who feel that they should be able to defend themselves against crime. Read Jason Burke's report on the Guardian.
Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne is on a four day goodwill visit to France. He would be visiting the Rafale Squadron to get an first hand impression of the MMRCA, selected by the IAF, as also to see Rafale's Production facilities at Mrignac, besides overseeing the progress of the various projects being carried forward as joint ventures between the two countries.
He would also be interacting with the IAF's Project Management Team members for the Mirage- 2000 Upgrade Project. The visit is significant, as it is the first high level official visit from India to France after the new government has taken office.
The much-hyped Facebook shares slumped to more than ten percent below their float price over the first hour of trading, as shareholders scrambled to sell shares in what had been pitched as the greatest growth story of the decade. Over 10 billion dollars was wiped off Facebook's value on its first full day as a public company.
The company's founder saw the value of his fortune drop by more than 2 billion dollars to just under 17 billion dollars, as the shares closed down 11pc, at 34.03 dollars.
Just in case you were keeping your hopes up, here's a dampner.
Bollywood actress Sonakshi Sinha has laid down some rules for herself and is clear about what she will never do in movies. The Dabangg star has maintained that she will not do any intimate scenes and also won't sport a bikini on screen
ever. Yet she has been getting plump Bollywood offers.
"I am not open to wear a bikini. I don't see any reason to change it because if audience has accepted me fully clothed then why will I resort to it. It ( kissing and getting intimate) is a complete no.. I am not that kind of a person. I have been brought up in certain way, I have certain restrictions that I follow," Sonakshi.
Prosecutors told jurors that former Goldman Sachs Group Inc director Rajat Gupta repeatedly broke the law by leaking inside information to a close friend and business partner, while his defense lawyer blasted a criminal case he said was based on guesswork.
Read the WSJ report
In his time in office as Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh has borne many a political slight with great equanimity. From being taunted by BJP leader LK Advani as India's "weakest Prime Minister' to being dismissed as a political lightweight for not being popularly elected to being the target of much online satire for the thunderous silence he maintains at critical moments on issues of grave national importance, 'Maunmohan Singh' has been at the receiving end of the slings and arrows of venomous criticism.
More on Firstpost.com
The toll in the Bangalore-bound Hampi Express accident has gone up to 15 people dead and 70 injured. The train overshot a signal and collided with a stationary goods train at Andhra Pradesh's Penneconda station.
The railway ministry has announced a Rs 5 lakh compensation for the dead.
Speaker Meira Kumar is trending on Twitter. Meira Kumar, who was elected as Speaker of the Lok Sabha in June 2009, has visited close to a dozen countries since her term began with most of the trips being made in connection with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the Times of India reported today.
Nearly Rs 10 crore has been spent on her travel to various countries in the last three years that she has been in office and she had spent a little more than Rs 11 lakh on gifts for her hosts. More on Firstpost.com
US President Barack Obama today said having a large footprint in Afghanistan can be "counter-productive" in the long run and that it was time to pull back
troops and turn attention to domestic woes, as the NATO alliance agreed on a 2014 end to the Afghan mission.
Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the prestigious American think tank Council of Foreign Relations wrote last week that the Barack Obama administration has quietly "altered its plans to move some US security resources from an unthreatened Europe to an uncertain Asia' administration leaders realized they had gratuitously offended European allies and gratuitously provided Beijing's hawks with ammunition to argue that America was formally and openly instituting a policy of containing China.
More on MK Bhadrakumar's blog