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LIVE! Workshop for BJP MPs tomorrow: Modi, Rajnath to impart training

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June 27, 2014

23:07  Cosmic caffeine: Astronauts getting espresso maker:  
The astronauts in space will soon be sipping some good coffee. The International Space Station is getting a real Italian espresso machine. 

Astronauts of all nationalities but especially the Italians have long grumbled about the tepid instant coffee served in pouches and drunk with straws in orbit. 

They will still have to use the pouches but at least the freshly brewed coffee will pack some zero-gravity punch.

Italy's first female astronaut should be aboard the space station when the specially designed espresso machine arrives early next year. She will be the first out-of-this-world barista.
23:04  Russia abruptly aborts launch of new-generation rocket:  
The test launch of Russia's newest rocket ended in embarrassment today as authorities were forced to abort the flight overseen by President Vladimir Putin due to a last-minute glitch.

The mishap is the latest blow to the Russian government's plans to overhaul its famed space programme after a series of setbacks. 

The next-generation Angara rocket was scheduled to blast off from Plesetsk in northern Russia when officials reported a sudden automatic launch abort, footage of which was broadcast on national television.

The Kremlin strongman, who was overseeing the rocket's planned launch via live linkup, gave space officials and the defence ministry an hour to look into the glitch before reporting to him.

"Work in a calm manner, without haste and fuss," he said in televised remarks.

The launch has been postponed until tomorrow. 

Designed to succeed Proton and other Soviet-era launchers, the Angara is billed as the first rocket to have been completely built after the collapse of the Soviet Union. 

Officials say the next-generation spacecraft is more environmentally friendly than its predecessors because it is fuelled by oxygen and kerosene rather than hugely toxic heptyl. 

The Khrunichev Center, the state-run spacecraft maker which developed the rocket, declined to say what went wrong. 
21:56  Workshop for BJP MPs tomorrow: Modi, Rajnath to impart training:   A two-day orientation programme starting tomorrow has been organised to impart training to the newly-elected BJP MPs on enhancing their Parliamentary and public conduct.

The workshop which will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will take place at Surjakund.

Modi will deliver the inaugural address tomorrow morning, and along with Home Minister Rajnath Singh will also try and inspire the new legislators to emulate best practices, party sources said.

Around 180 newly-elected BJP MPs, including 162 from the Lok Sabha and 18 from Rajya Sabha will attend the training workshop which will give them tips on improving their performance as an MP as well as on their conduct.
20:29  PSLV C23 launch cleared; 49-hour countdown begins tomorrow:  A 49-hour countdown for the June 30 launch of PSLV C23 carrying French Earth Observation Satellite SPOT-7 and four co-passenger spacecraft from the spaceport of Sriharikota will begin at 8.52 am tomorrow.

The Launch Authorisation Board, which met today at Sriharikota, cleared the launch, paving the way for the start of the countdown, Indian Space Research Organisation said in a statement this evening. The launch, originally fixed at 9.49 am, has been rescheduled for 9.52 am to due to the probability of space debris movement during the launch window, it said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to witness the launch of the French satellite and the co-passengers from Canada, Germany and Singapore from the first launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, about 100 km from here.

SPOT 7 is an Earth observing satellite, similar to Indian Remote Satellite System. ISRO has so far launched 35 satellites of foreign countries onboard its workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle.
19:17  Maharashtra govt approves Rs 4,240.78-cr budget for MMRDA:  In the run-up to the Maharashtra Assembly elections, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan today approved Rs 4,240.78 crore budget for MMRDA that thrusts on improving infrastructure in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.
19:05  Thirty-five years ago, this day, Mumbai got its own paper -- Mid Day. Happy Birthday and salute.
19:03  A-G: Governors can be probed, prosecuted while in office :   India's new Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi reverses former solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam's opinion. Rohatgi says that governors can be questioned while they are in office. The SG had said governors can be questioned and prosecuted only if they demit office.

This comes in the wake of the CBI today questioning West Bengal Governor MK Narayanan as a "witness" in connection with its probe into allegations of bribery in the Rs 3600-crore VVIP chopper deal with Anglo-Italian firm AgustaWestland.

Narayanan (80) was asked to appear before CBI officers to record his statement in connection with the deal as he was part of the group which had gone into the tendering procedures before purchase of the helicopters, CBI sources said.

Appointing Sheila Dikshit as Kerala governor was one of the last decisions of the Congress-led government a day before the announcement of dates for the national election. Dikshit, who lost power in Delhi in December after three terms, faces allegations in connection with the alleged misuse of funds meant for the 2010 Commonwealth Games and irregularities in college recruitment.
18:56  One of the eight fire engines dousing the flames at the CR office building. 
18:55  That's another picture of the fire at CST station, likely from the Times of India building, which is opposite the road. 
18:19  Fire at railway building near CST station in Mumbai:   Just in: News of a fire at a Central railway office building. The building, which is opposite the Chhatrapati Shivaji terminus houses the office of the Chief commercial manager of the central railway and is basically an admistrative office. The building is near platform number 1, which is from where the long-distance trains to CST terminate. No delays reported in the suburban trains so far.  Five fire engines are at the spot. If you are heading towards CST, go via Metro cinema, since road traffic in front of the CST has been affected.

Details awaited.  
17:52  The smart minister:  M Venkaiah Naidu is being affectionately addressed as the "smart minister" - all because he is soon to go public with the mega proposal for building 100 smart cities in India - which was part of the NDA-BJP manifesto, if you remember.

The smart city project will be uploaded on the urban development ministry website incorporating some 350 clauses and which will be completed in 10 years. The ministry will float a global tender on December 25, birthday of the first NDA prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. 

Naidu has of late been getting phone calls from many foreign countries whose smart city developers are keen to invest in the Indian project.

"Kya baat hai Naidugaaru, kamaal ki proposals!' was the cryptic comment from one BJP minister after a Union Cabinet meeting.
17:50  How the TRS does it in Delhi:  The Telangana Rashtriya Samithi will have its national headquarters in New Delhi, in the bungalow of its leader K Chandrasekhar Rao. The NDA government may, as a special case, agree to the request from KCRs daughter, who has been elected to the Lok Sabha from Telangana, to this effect.

Since the TRS has 11 MPs they are entitled to an office space, and the KCR bungalow will be allotted to his daughter, with the party footing the bill for the difference in rent between type five (which she is entitled to) and type eight. The TRS will also forego its claim for a type four apartment in Vithalbhai Patel House for its office.
17:44  Traffic restored in Motihari after goods train derailment:  Train services were restored today between Chakia and Mehsi station in Bihar's East Champaran (Motihari) district which was disrupted following derailment of 19 wagons of a goods train by suspected Maoists on Tuesday night.
17:30  Rajnath wants what Chiranjeevi has:  Talking of ministerial houses, Telugu film star Chiranjeevi was allotted a type 8 expanded bungalow in Delhi in 2009, despite not being entitled to it, courtesy the munificence shown by Ahmed Patel following the Praja Rajyam's merger with the Congress.

But now, Home Minister Rajnath Singh has been eyeing this particular house which has space enough to grow five tonnes of potatoes every season and the lawns are roomy enough to host a wedding party.

Still, despite his stature and clout, Rajnath may not be able to have Chiranjeevi evicted, apparently.

The reason is the star's younger brother, Pawan Kalyan, who has been in direct touch with the powers-that-be to stall just such a move.

It's worthwhile remembering here that but for Pawan Kalyan, the TDP-BJP combo would not have swept Seemandhra.
17:27  My mother was told to kill me when I was born: Smriti:  Union Human Resources Development Minister Smriti Irani today revealed that at the time of her birth, she was cursed as a "burden" by someone.

"I am sharing it for the first time that when I was born, someone hinted to my mother that beti to bojh hoti hai (daughter is a burden) and therefore she should kill me. But my mother was brave and she did not do that because of which today I am standing here in front of you," Irani said when a student asked her about the menace of female foeticide.

Such a malpractice should be curbed and it was a priority programme for the government, she said. If you teach a girl, then you are not just imparting education to a woman but to a family which will later help in nation building, she said.

To a query on different boards and curriculum in various states, Irani said the issue of uniformity in education will be addressed in National Education Policy
17:24  Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan's full statement about the controversy on banning sex education in schools. Read
17:21  A house for A Raja:  Former Telecom Minister A Raja of 2G scam fame is finding it difficult to get a private house on rent in South Delhi where he has been required to stay for long thanks to the legal proceedings in the CBI court. 

He claims that he is the new untouchable - but that being a Dalit he will brazen it out.

Raja is also under pressure to vacate his type eight spacious government bungalow.

It's said that house-owners are not too keen on letting out to him because of the Enforcement Directorate and CBI inquiries against him.

The DMK currently has four MPs in Delhi but Raja cannot share any of their MPs bungalow given the party's internal politics.
17:16  Naidu, the home minister:  The reason for the delay in the expansion of the Union Cabinet, according to buzz in Delhi, is that the new ministers will find it difficult to get government bungalows, given the fact of overstaying UPA ministers.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu is under pressure from the PMO to evict the former ministers, but that is easier said that done, it seems.

MPs from Andhra Pradesh, who believe in Vaastu Shastra, are keen on specific bungalows and apartments.

Naidu, who is flooded with calls from former UPA ministers, present NDA ministers, former governors and former Congress leaders, has been telling his close friends that he will run away from Delhi if this stress continues.

The ministry has served eviction notices to all current occupants who have been asked to vacate the bungalows by June 18. The Lok Sabha Secretariat has also sent notices to about 265 former MPs in this connection.

17:01  HRD minister Smriti Irani tweets: When I was born, someone hinted to mother that daughter is a burden and she should kill me. But my mother was brave, want to thank her.
16:56  12-member committee of DU principals to look into admissions :  A 12-member committee of DU principals set up to look into the issue of admissions under three year undergraduate course.

The standoff between the UGC and the Delhi University had forced around 60 colleges in Delhi to put admissions on hold, leaving nearly three lakh students beginning college this year stranded.

The UGC, the central funding agency that coordinates college education policies, had said the four-year course went against the format followed in the rest of India and the Delhi University should admit new students only on a three-year system.

The university had called the UGC's order a violation of its autonomy. Today, the Delhi University wrote to the UGC that it was "in the process of drafting a response in accordance with the spirit of your directives to ensure that the admission process starts very soon."
16:50  Rajnath Singh rules out talks with Maoists:  In a major shift from UPA's policy, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has ruled out talks with Maoists but said that a balanced approach will be adopted to resolve the Naxal problem.

Previously, the Congress-led government wanted to engage with the Naxals and find a permanent solution to the problem. But the BJP-led government took a tough stance against the Maoists.

On Thursday, Rajnath Singh visited the CRPF  headquarters in Delhi and reviewed the operational preparedness of the force.

The Union Minister promised to find a solution to the Naxal problem.
16:32  UPA's sex education programme crude: Harsh Vardhan:   Dr Harsh Vardhan says that the crudity and graphic representation of culturally objectionable symbols in UPA's sex education programme was not sex education.

He said that even the UPA-ruled states had opposed the programme and after protests the government had been forced to modify it.  

Sex education that builds societies free of gender discrimination, teenage pregnancy, HIV-AIDS, pornography addiction should be a goal.
16:05  Harsh Vardhan U-turn: Sex education necessary, but no vulgarity :  Union minister Dr Harsh Vardhan has now denied that he had proposed a ban on sex education. He said he was a medical professional who embraced rationalism and whole-heartedly support pedagogy that is scientific and culturally acceptable. I have never proposed a ban on sex education as suggested by a prominent newspaper today. Sex education is necessary, but without vulgarising it.

In his "vision" document for Delhi schools, Dr Harsh Vardhan, said, "So-called 'sex education' (should) to be banned."

His website - - also states the need to integrate value education with course content and put strong emphasis on exposing students to India's cultural relations.
15:51  26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed says his JuD not terror outfit, serves people:  The leader of a Pakistani Islamist organization that was labeled a terror group and slapped with economic sanctions by the United States denied having any links to militancy on Thursday and vowed to hold protests, reports the AFP.

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, who is chief of Jamat-ud-Dawa (Organisation for Preaching), insisted his group was a charity and not a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant outfit which carried out the 2008 Mumbai attacks. "Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) has no link whatsoever with Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is a resistance wing in Kashmir," he told a press conference in Lahore.

"It is an independent Pakistani organization taking part in the promotion of education and relief operations. It is only serving the Pakistani people," added Saeed.

Also read: US names Hafeez Saeed's JuD as terror outfit
15:36  Sushma returns home after 'extremely satisfying' B'desh visit :   External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today returned home after her maiden standalone overseas tour to Bangladesh with an understanding that she has made an "excellent beginning" in addressing each others' concerns in the spirit of good neighbourliness.

"Our assessment of the visit was extremely fruitful and satisfying," Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs said at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport ahead of her departure.

He said that Swaraj is returning with an understanding that "it is an excellent beginning in addressing each others' concerns and work together with the spirit of good neighbourliness".

Earlier, Swaraj held a meeting with former Bangladesh prime minister and Chairperson of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Khaleda Zia, who met the visiting leader in her hotel.

Swaraj held a 30-minute meeting with Zia, who had boycotted the January 5 elections and accused that the Awami League government led by her arch-rival Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina lacked people's mandate.

Asked if India's engagement and with the incumbent government in Bangladesh would continue until its tenure till 2019, the Spokesperson said "governments work with governments and Indian government will work with Bangladeshi government".
15:31  No sign of good days so far: Nitish:  Commenting on 30 days in office of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar today said though it was a short span of time, whatever was done so far did not reflect arrival of good days in the country.

"Thirty days are little to assess the performance of any government ... people have high expectations from him ... but, whatever work has been done so far does not reflect arrival of good days promised to voters during the Lok Sabha poll," Kumar, whose rivalry with Narendra Modi was known, said.

Though Kumar had greeted to Narendra Modi on becoming Prime Minister, Kumar has been making snide remarks on him and BJP off and on.
15:30  PHOTOS: Flash floods kill several in Guwahati, throw life out of gear:  Six persons were killed because of landslides and electrocution due to flash floods triggered by a night-long downpour in Guwahati on Friday. All the main thoroughfares and most of the localities were flooded, disrupting daily life.

All education institutions in the city were rendered non-functional, while government offices, including the ground floor offices in the sate secretariat complex were under flood water.

Wade through the floods right here
15:19  JUST IN: CBI questions West Bengal Governor M K Narayanan as witness in connection with AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter deal.
14:59  Wimbledon women forced to go bra-less due to all-white underwear rule :  Pat Cash, the former Wimbledon champion, has claimed that women players at this year's tournament have been forced to play bra-less following a clamp down on the all-white rule, reports The Telegraph.

It comes after some players, including Serena Williams, tried to introduce colour into their SW19 outfits by wearing bright underwear in previous years.

But under new guidelines issued this year, players may only break up their all-white outfits with a coloured trim of 1cm width.In a letter sent to players, tournament referee Andrew Jarrett, also said: "Undergarments that either are or can be visible during play (including due to perspiration) must also be completely white and contain no more than 1cm of coloured trim.

"Players are said to have reacted angrily to the new rules and in an interview with  BBC Radio 5 Live Cash said: "Some of the girls have been told to go back and change their bras and tops because they had slight colour on them.

"I believe some of the girls didn't have suitable sports bras and had to go without them. It has absolutely gone ridiculous."

He later pulled out of the tournament - where he was due to play in the master's competition - in protest at the new rules after his own training shoes fell foul of the new regulations.

He said that last time he played without the specially adapted shoes, he suffered an injury.

"It's archaic thinking," he said.

Cash added: "One of the players was called into the referees' office because he had blue underwear that showed through when he got sweaty so he was told not to wear dark underwear."  Read more

Also read: No colourful knickers as players told to keep it white

Pic: Naomi Broady of Britain
14:47  SOS! Slave labour note found in 'Made in China' clothes:  A shopper in Northern Ireland may have gotten more than she bargained for when she reportedly discovered a chilling note stuffed in a pair of pants she purchased from European retailer, Primark.

Scrawled on a yellow piece of paper and wrapped around what appears to be a prison identification card, was a message claiming to be from an inmate at a Chinese prison making clothes for export under conditions of slave labor.
14:44  EU signs pact with ex-USSR states, Russia warns of 'grave consequences':  Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova have signed partnership agreements with the European Union, in a move strongly opposed by Russia.

The pact - which would bind the three countries more closely to the West both economically and politically - is at the heart of the crisis in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he saw the signing as the start of preparations for EU membership.

A ceasefire with pro-Russian rebels in the east is due to end on Friday.

Poroshenko hailed the signing as Ukraine's most historic day since independence in 1991, describing it as a "symbol of faith and unbreakable will".

Meanwhile European Council President Herman van Rompuy described it as a "great day for Europe". -- BBC
14:35  Will Modi grasp the economic nettle?:  In putting the country's economy back on the rails, it is best that Narendra Modi and Arun Jaitley draw on grass-roots feedback and their own practical sense and native wisdom without allowing themselves to be sucked  into the quicksand of economic punditry, says B S Prakash on Read
14:33  Kanchan Gupta tweets on Dr Harsh Vardhan's morality formula for AIDS control and no sex education in schools: Values-based education is bad? Left-liberal amorality is good? Ethical society is undesirable? Libertinism is our goal? An adrift nation.

14:14  Governors of Karnataka, Tripura to retire tomorrow:  And here's what's happening on the governors' resignations...

Karnataka Governor H R Bhardwaj and Tripura Governor Devanand Konwar will retire tomorrow and Governors of Tamil Nadu and Mizoram have been given the additional charge of the two states respectively.

77-year-old Bhardwaj, who was the Law Minister in UPA-I, took charge as the Governor of Karnataka on June 29, 2009 and has been occupying the post since then.

Tamil Nadu Governor K Rosaiah will hold the additional charge of Karnataka until regular arrangements for the office are made, a Rashtrapati Bhavan communique said.

71-year-old Konwar, a former Congress Minister in Assam, was first appointed as the Governor of Bihar on June 29, 2009 and continued in the post till March 21, 2013.

He was then transferred as Governor of Tripura. Mizoram Governor Vakkom B Purushothaman has been given the additional charge of Tripura while Meghalaya Governor K K Paul will assume the charge of the Governor of Nagaland in addition to his own responsibility.

With this, five Raj Bhavans will have vacancies.
14:09  VP Hamid Ansari and Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman meet Secretary of the Communist Party of China Zhao Zhengyong. Sitharaman is MoS finance and MoS commerce and industry. 
14:07  Tharoor: Dr Harsh Vardhan seems to be behind the times :  And Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan's claim that sex education in schools should be banned and fidelity in marriage was better than use of condoms to prevent AIDS... Tharoor says: I have great respect for Dr Harsh Vardhan but he seems to be behind the times.
14:01  First reactions: St Stephen's principal says it was an avoidable impasse. Glad that it is over. 
13:59  VC: DU has decided to rollback four-year undergrad programme :   Delhi university VC Dinesh Singh issues a statement: "The University of Delhi has decided to rollback the FYUP as per the UGC directive. Consequently admission process shall be conducted under scheme of courses that were in force in academic session 2012-13.

Vice chancellor Dinesh Singh is believed to have resigned by the HRD ministry is yet to receive his resignation letter.
13:48  Sri Ram Sene chief Pramod Muthalik wants to join BJP:  Sri Ram Sene chief Pramod Muthalik has said that he would try to join BJP, from where he was unceremoniously removed only a few hours after his inclusion in Karnataka.

"I will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and explain to him the misunderstandings that were created about me by some Karnataka BJP leaders. I have faith in Modi. He is a good leader and will take the country on the path of development. I would like to join BJP," Muthalik said last night, at the backdrop of All India Hindu Convention at Ramnathi village, 40 kms from Panaji.

The 61-year-old leader had hit the headlines after his organisation Sri Ram Sene attacked people going to pubs in Mangalore in 2009.
13:35  Finally, admissions to three-year Delhi university course to begin soon:  The standoff between the UGC and the Delhi University had forced around 60 colleges in Delhi to put admissions on hold, leaving nearly three lakh students beginning college this year stranded.

The UGC, the central funding agency that coordinates college education policies, had said the four-year course went against the format followed in the rest of India and the Delhi University should admit new students only on a three-year system.

The university had called the UGC's order a violation of its autonomy.

Today, the Delhi University wrote to the UGC that it was "in the process of drafting a response in accordance with the spirit of your directives to ensure that the admission process starts very soon."
13:33  Don't sacrifice interest of students for prestige: Smriti:   HRD minister Smriti Irani, finally says a few words on the DU-UGC tussle: I respect autonomy of institutions, however, I'm reminded that autonomous institutions were created to serve people of nation.

"My appeal within the ambit of the law, this is time for statesmanship which will lead to resolution. One should not sacrifice the interest of students at the alter of prestige."
13:24  Review: Ek Villain is too silly to thrill:  "We have Ek Villain, where we take a hard-boiled Korean film -- full of brutal gore and sexual abuse but enough panache to stay constantly gripping -- and inexplicably scramble it into a sex-less, gore-less slasher film with a wide-eyed love story running through it all. Gone are the thrills from the original and in come the cliched background score, watered-down murder scenes, and much, much silliness. "

Read Raja Sen's review of Ek Villain before you book your tickets.
13:14  Four metro stations in Delhi - Patel Chowk, Central Secretariat, Race Course & Udyog Bhawan - shut 'indefinitely' due to student protests.
12:58  FYUP issue: DUTA, DU employees, student bodies stage protest:  Earlier today, Delhi University Teachers Association members along with university employees carried out a protest march from the Faculty of Arts to the residence of Vice Chancellor Dinesh Singh in North Campus demanding his resignation and immediate rollback of the four-year undergraduate programme.

"Delhi University's VC is playing with the future of students. The FYUP should be scrapped and admission process under the three-year undergraduate programme should begin," said Nandita Narain, President of DUTA.
12:49  Were BJP ministers watching 'porn' in Karnataka Assembly?:  In other news: In a severe embarrassment to the ruling BJP government in  Karnataka, Co-operation Minister Lakshman Savadi and Women and Child Development Minister CC Patil on Tuesday were ''caught'' by television cameras watching sexually explicit video on a cellphone inside the Assembly during a debate.

They aren't the first MLAs to be accused of watching porn in the assembly. Remember the Gujarat MLAs? Read
12:44  Smriti does a Manmohan on DU-UGC tussle :  HRD minister Smriti Irani maintains her stoic silence on the DU-UGC tussle: Speaking to reporters this morning, she says, "Not proper for me to speak, don't compel me to breach constitutional propriety."
12:39  UGC asks DU to begin admissions immediately:  Ever since the UGC directed the DU to roll back four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP) and conduct admission for three-year programme, there has been uncertainty over the admission process that involves the fate of over 2.7 lakh students clamouring for 54,000 seats in 64 colleges.

Delhi University sent the University Grants Commission a proposal to blend courses in the three-year and four-year programmes on Thursday, UGC in another directive to DU reportedly rejected the formula.
The varsity finally broke its silence and wrote to the commission that the proposal submitted by a set of "eminent citizens" to DU as well as UGC is being actively considered and may provide a way forward. In its directive, sources said, UGC asked the university to revert back to the 2012 three year undergraduate programme for all courses.
Sources said that while the UGC and the HRD ministry had more or less agreed to the formula, the change of mind came after a legal opinion was sought in the evening on Thursday.

Read:Why DU's 4-year programme should not be implemented
12:32  Delhi university goes back to three-year undergrad course :  Delhi university goes back to the three-year under-graduate programme. The University of Delhi has agreed to mandate of the University Grants Commission (UGC) to start their admission process under the three-year undergraduate course 'immediately'.

The order may bring cheer to over two lakh students left in the lurch due to the ongoing tussle between the two bodies.

A source in the University Grants Commission (UGC) said that DU colleges have been told to begin the admission process, which was deferred by the colleges on Monday in the absence of clarity on the question of rolling back the four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP) to the earlier three-year course.

The UGC sent a letter to the DU at 8.30 pm on Wednesday, asking the university to begin admissions from Thursday.
12:26  A repressive regime :  Supporters of human rights and fundamental freedoms have expressed solidarity with Mohammed Adel Fahmy, Baher Mohammed and Peter Greste.

All three are journalists working with Al Jazeera television channel, and were jailed last December by the Egyptian authorities on charges of siding with the Muslim Brotherhood -- soon after it was designated a terrorist group '" and of reporting 'false news'. Read more
12:24  Heavy-smoker Nepal PM diagnosed with first stage lung cancer :   Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, who is currently hospitalised in the US, has been diagnosed with first stage lung cancer and will undergo radiotherapy from today.

75-year-old Koirala had been admitted to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York, after the doctors involved in his treatment found black spots in his lungs a couple of weeks ago.

Koirala, a heavy smoker, had been diagnosed with tongue cancer seven years ago and was cured.

"The spot seen in one of his lungs has turned out to be first stage of lung cancer," a prime ministerial aide said quoting his personal physician, Dr Karbir Nath Yogi, who is with him in New York.

According to Yogi, surgery was not an option because of the prime minister's chronic bronchitis.
11:58  Sonia on Gail fire: Hope such incidents will be prevented in future:  Congress President Sonia Gandhi expressed grief at the GAIL pipeline fire and extended her condolences to the family of the deceased. Gandhi urged authorities to provide medical relief and expressed hope that such incidents would be prevented in the future.
11:57  Rape-accused Tarun Tejpal's bail extended till July 1:  JUST IN: Supreme Court extends interim bail of Tehelka founder editor Tarun Tejpal till July 1. 

The apex court had on 19 May granted him interim bail for three weeks to enable him to attend the cremation of his mother, who had died on 18 May, and subsequent rituals. It had on 3 June further extended the interim bail till 27 June.

Tejpal (50) has been charge sheeted for allegedly raping, sexually harassing and outraging the modesty of a junior colleague during an event held at a hotel in Goa in November last year. Tejpal was arrested on 30 November, 2013 and is presently out on interim bail.
11:54  Rapist-repellent bra to star at President's evenT':  Innerwear that safeguards women from assault by sending an electric shock to the assailant, developed by a 24-year-old aeronautical engineer in Chandigarh, is just one of the innovative ideas that will be part of "innovation scholars in-residence'' programme hosted by the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The 20-day programme will showcase products created by innovators from across the country ranging from the bra that shocks assaulters to rapid compost aerator that converts biomass to manure within a significantly less time and a portable processing machine capable of extracting essence of medicinal plants and herb. More of that here. 
11:49  Pak Taliban group blamed for plane attack in Peshawar:   A little known Taliban-linked outfit, using improvised AK-47s, was behind the attack on an aircraft in Pakistan's Peshawar city that killed a woman passenger and injured crew members, an intelligence official said today.

The Tuesday night attack created panic among the international airlines, as UAE-based Emirates and Etihad suspended operations to the militancy-plagued northwestern city.
11:49  High-level committee to probe Gail fire; Andhra CM, oil minister to visit site :   Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan constitutes high-level committee to probe GAIL pipeline fire.

A major blast occurred at a Gas Authority of India Limited site at Nagaram village in Andhra Pradesh's East Godavari district on Friday early morning.

The toll from the blast has increased from 8 to 14 people, while another 30 are injured.

Fire officials, who reached the spot to douse the fire which occurred owing to the blast, have been able to control the flames, which had risen to at least 250 metres in height, burning the trees in the area.
11:48   Pak violates ceasefire along LoC in Poonch:   Details on the LoC violation today: Pakistani troops today violated the ceasefire and targeted Indian posts with automatic and small weapons along the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir, prompting Indian forces to retaliate effectively.

Pakistani troops resorted to heavy firing at Indian posts along the LoC in Bhimbher Gali-Gambhir forward areas of Poonch around 0035 hours, a senior Army officer said.

Indian troops guarding the border retaliated effectively with equal calibre weapons resulting in intermittent exchange of fire, he said, adding that the "exchange continued in forward area till 0130 hours". There was no death or injury to anyone on this side of the LoC due to the firing, he said.
11:48  Sex education in schools should be banned: Harsh Vardhan :   After suggesting that to prevent AIDS fidelity in marriage was better than use of condoms, health minister Harsh Vardhan has generated another controversy -- this time by stating in his website that sex-education in schools should be banned. Read more
11:30  Tiger snatches man off boat, leaps back into Sunderbans jungle:  The danger of venturing into the prohibited areas of Sunderbans was revealed again on Thursday morning when a tiger jumped from the bank of a creek and leapt back with a man in its jaws. This is the fourth time that a human was killed by a tiger in the Sunderbans this year. Read more
11:25  All India Radio takes a digital leap with SoundCloud:  Here's an FYI: The national broadcaster All India Radio (AIR) is catching up with time and technology. The broadcaster is making this happen by taking introducing their SoundCloud account. This will allow listeners to download and listen to the latest AIR news and news based programmes.

The audio distribution platform will also have archival speeches of Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi.Currently, the AIR team has been feeding the platform with continuous audio files on regular intervals.

At the moment, the platform has six playlists- 'Archives', 'Spotlight', 'Evening News', 'Mid-Day News', 'Daily News Bulletin 8:15am' and 'Parikrama' (segment in AIR). More playlists will be added eventually.

AIR's SoundCloud account has around 377 followers and 257 audio files (as of 19 June 2014). The network claims that the move aims at engaging 200 million potential listeners on SoundCloud.
11:17  Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Petroleum Minister says he will be be visiting  the spot with the Andhra CM, the GAIL chairman and the Departmental Secretary.
11:15  Gail fire: ONGC shuts down gas pipeline :  Gail explosion: ONGC has shut down the Andhra gas field following the explosion. AP CM Chandrababu Naidu likely to visit the site.
11:13  Sari diplomacy: Hasina-Sushma exchange gifts :   A sari can, sometimes, say sorry better than a thousand words --'" even in the hardened corridors of South Asian diplomacy.

Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj today gifted Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina a cream-coloured South Indian silk sari while visiting her in Dhaka on a trip aimed at mending fences after an election campaign that left Bangladesh quietly fuming.

Hasina, her host, wasn't going to be left behind. The Bangladesh Prime Minister promptly turned to her aides, who handed her a gift Hasina and her sister Rehana had handpicked for Sushma -- a Jamdani sari, officials present at the meeting said. Read more
11:11  Agenda for nuclear diplomacy:  The focus should now shift to resolving the ambiguities of the 2010 Nuclear Liability Law. Without this exercise, India can only import nuclear fuel for the existing power plants; it will not be able to undertake the much-needed expansion of the nuclear power sector. It is not only the foreign suppliers who would like clarity on this issue; Indian vendors are equally concerned about its ambiguities. Read
11:08  Swamy gives Gandhis the jitters:  Court summons for Congress President Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi have clearly made the party extremely jittery. But Subramanian Swamy, the man who dragged them to court, believes he has hit gold. Read why
11:04  The President of India Pranab Mukherjee has condoled the loss of lives in an explosion of a GAIL pipeline in Andhra Pradesh today. 
11:02  GAIL fire: PM announces Rs lakh for families of dead, Rs 50,000 for injured:  PM Narendra Modi announces an ex-gratia relief of Rs 2 lakh to the families of those who lost their lives in the GAIL pipeline accident. A compensation of Rs 50,000 has been announced for the severely injured.

The relief announced by the PM is in addition to the relief assistance given by the Petroleum Ministry and GAIL. The PM said he has spoken to the Petroleum Minister, the Cabinet Secretary and the GAIL chairman and asked them to ensure immediate relief at the accident site.

"My thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives in the GAIL Pipeline fire in AP. My prayers are with the injured," said the PM.

A major blast occurred at a Gas Authority of India Limited site at Nagaram village in Andhra Pradeshs East Godavari district on Friday early morning. The toll from the blast has increased from 8 to 14 people, while another 30 are injured.

Fire officials, who reached the spot to douse the fire which occurred owing to the blast, have been able to control the flames, which had risen to at least 250 metres in height, burning the trees in the area.
09:54  Pak army violates ceasefire again:  According to TV reports, the Pakistan Army violated the ceasefire at Poonch in Jammu and Kashmir. Reports said shots were fired at the Line of Control from Thursday late night till Friday early morning. 
09:31  Amarnath Yatra begins :  The holy Amarnath Yatra begins today and already 1,160 devotees have begun the trip. However, snow accumulation in the Himalayas is making the trek difficult. Officials said snow was 4 to 5 feet deep in some stretches and around 300 men were working hard to clear the path. 
09:27  PM Modi condoles Andhra tragedy:  "My thoughts with the families of those who lost their lives in the GAIL pipeline fire in AP. Prayers with the injured," tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi following the blast at the Gas Authority of India Limited in Andhra Pradesh, which killed 8 people. Modi added, "I have spoken to the Petroleum Minister, Cabinet Secretary & GAIL Chairman and asked them to ensure immediate relief at the accident site."
09:18  ISIS militants threaten America on Twitter:  Militants belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria are using social media to threaten Americans. Using #CalamityWillBefallUS, supporters of the terror group and the militants are posting images of 9/11 attacks, dead American soldiers, threatening the US of an attack if America acted militarily against the group in Iraq.
08:52  Students at JNU forced to fill Hindi forms:  Students at Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University are claiming they are being forced to fill forms in Hindi. The non-Hindi speaking students alleged they were being asked to fill mess forms in Hindi. However, the University said it was a non-issue as they had run out of English forms. The controversy erupts after the government had to clarify that the directive of asking ministers to promote Hindi on social media was not mandatory on all states, especially non-Hindi speaking states.
08:15  Health Minister wants sex education in schools to be banned:  Health Minister Harsh Vadhan has stirred up another controversy saying sex education in schools should be banned. On his website, Harsh Vardhan said that states must integrate value education with course content and put strong emphasis on exposing students to India's cultural relations. He added that yoga education should be made compulsory. "So-called 'sex education' to be banned. Value Education will be integrated with course content. Yoga should be made compulsory," said Vardhan. 
07:53  Explosion at Andhra Pradesh's ONGC site:  At least eight people have died and 30 injured after a blast erupted at the ONGC site in the east Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh. According to TV reports, the blast took place at 6 am on Friday. 

More details are awaited. 
03:17  Tharoor coins 'NaMo alphabets': 'A for achhe din; B for bitter pill...':  
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Thursday coined a new version of the 'NaMo alphabet' reminding everyone of the vitriolic LS polls campaign.

Tharoor's post on Twitter read, "New NaMo alphabet? A for achhe din; B for bitter pill; C for cave-in rollback; D for disempowered Ministers; E for excuses; F for fuel price rise (sic)."
03:09  Obama seeks $500 million to train, equip Syrian rebels:  
US President Barack Obama is asking Congress for $500 million to train and arm vetted members of the Syrian opposition, as the US grapples for a way to stem a civil war that has also fueled the Al Qaeda inspired insurgency in neighboring Iraq.

The military training program would deepen the Obama administration's involvement in the more than four-year conflict between rebels and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad. If approved by Congress, the program would supplement a covert train-and-assistance program run by US intelligence agencies.

The Senate Armed Services Committee has already approved a version of the sweeping defense policy bill authorizing the Defense Department to provide "equipment, supplies, training and defence services" to elements of the Syrian opposition that have been screened. The Senate could act on the bill before the August recess.

The president hinted at the increased support for the opposition forces during a commencement address at West Point last month. 

"In helping those who fight for the right of all Syrians to choose their own future, we also push back against the growing number of extremists who find safe haven in the chaos," Obama told the graduating cadets.
03:08  Iraq PM pushes political solution to militant offensive:  
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki conceded today that political measures are needed alongside military action to repel a Sunni insurgent offensive that is threatening to tear Iraq apart. 

He spoke as British Foreign Secretary William Hague urged Iraqi leaders to unite in the face of the onslaught, led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), that has killed nearly 1,100 people and displaced more than half a million more.

Iraqi forces launched a helicopter-borne assault aimed at opening the way to retaking militant-held Tikrit, while the autonomous Kurdish region further staked its claim to the disputed city of Kirkuk.

Powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr meanwhile risked ratcheting up already-high sectarian tensions by vowing to "shake the ground" under the feet of the advancing militants. 

Later today, a suicide bomb in a predominantly Shiite area of Baghdad killed 19 people. 

"We should proceed in two parallel tracks," Maliki told Hague, on a surprise visit to Iraq.
03:06  WHO urges 'drastic action' on Ebola, calls 11-nation meeting:  
The World Health Organisation today called for "drastic action" to fight the deadliest Ebola outbreak on record, as it announced an 11-nation meeting to address the growing crisis.

As of Sunday, 635 cases of haemorrhagic fever (most confirmed to be Ebola), including 399 deaths, have been reported across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, making the outbreak the largest ever "in terms of the number of cases and deaths as well as geographical spread," WHO said. 

"Drastic action is needed," the UN agency stressed in a statement, warning of the danger that the virus could jump to other countries. 

Earlier this week, medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) also said the outbreak of the virus, which is deadly in up to 90 per cent of cases, was "out of control".

Since west Africa's first-ever epidemic of the deadly haemorrhagic fever emerged in Guinea in March, WHO has sent in more than 150 experts to help tackle the crisis. 

Despite the efforts of the WHO and others, there has been a "significant increase" in the number of cases and deaths reported each day for the past three weeks, it said. 
03:05  US urges China to free dissident Liu Xiaobo:  
US President Barack Obama's administration today renewed calls on China to free democracy campaigner Liu Xiaobo but stayed mum on a bid to rename a Washington street after him. 

Beijing has warned the United States against the bid in Congress to name the street outside China's embassy in honour of Liu, a writer who was sentenced in 2009 to 11 years in prison for spearheading a bold petition for democratic reforms.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said that Liu -- whose wife Liu Xia has been under house arrest since her husband won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 -- "has played an important role in advancing dialogue in China." 

Liu Xiaobo "has been a voice, should be released from prison (and) his wife's house arrest should end," Harf told reporters.

But on the proposal over the street, Harf said: "Publicly, we're not taking a position on it at this time."

Lawmakers from across the political spectrum have supported calls to rename the street. The House Appropriations Committee approved the change yesterday as part of a State Department funding bill, which still needs backing from the full House of Representatives and Senate.
03:03  Top headlines at this hour::  Sari diplomacy: Sushma gifts silk sari to Hasina

Shah Rukh Khan's driver arrested for raping maid 

Sonia, Rahul summoned as accused in National Herald case

DU sends proposal to UGC, admission process still on hold 

Indian top-order gets batting practice on Day 1 in tour match 

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