Fri, 02 December 2016
RBI to announce monetary policy decision on Wednesday

Timeline  Refresh

BSF has killed an intruder at its Dinda post in Bamiyal area of the international border in Pathankot, Punjab
23:06   Navy will ensure India's safety, security: Vice Admiral Luthra
The Navy today reaffirmed its resolve of ensuring the safety and security of the country from any threat originating from the sea. 

"We are committed to ensuring safety and security of the country from any challenge or threat originating from sea," Vice Admiral Girish Luthra, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Naval Command, said.

He was interacting with media on board aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya off Mumbai coast, ahead of the Navy Day. 

The maritime environment in the Indian Ocean Region is challenging and complex, he said. 

"Developments in the region have necessitated high degree of operational and combat readiness. This has led to a very high tempo of operations, including deployments, surveillance and patrolling," he said. 

He apprised the media about conduct of Exercise Paschim Leher, where large number of ships, submarines and aircraft participated.

"The exercise was to test and improve our operational readiness, including mobilisation and synchronisation," he said.
22:20   RBI to announce monetary policy decision on Wednesday
The Reserve Bank will come out with monetary policy review, the first after demonetisation of old Rs 500/1000 notes, on Wednesday amid expectations of interest rate cut.

"The Monetary Policy Committee will meet on December 6 and 7, 2016 for the Fifth Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement for 2016-17.

"The resolution of the MPC will be placed on the website at 2.30 pm on December 7, 2016," the central bank said.

Interestingly, the monetary policy reviews were usually announced on Tuesdays. For long, the central bank has been unveiling the monetary policy at 11 am.

It will be for the second time that the monetary policy would be based on the recommendation of the MPC. There are expectations of rate cut (repo) as banks are flushed with funds following demonetisation of old high value notes from November 9.
21:39   Encounter with 2 terrorists begins in Kulgam
Gunshots heard after security forces cordoned off a village in Kulgam district of  Jammu and Kashmir; 2 terrorists believed to be hiding. 

More details awaited.
21:31   RuPay card usage jumps 118 percent: RBI
RuPay card usage jumped by over 118.6 per cent in the week following demonetisation that took effect from November 8 mid-night while the overall debit and credit card transactions recorded an increase of 70.5 per cent. 

According to RBI data, the usage of RuPay card at POS terminals soared by as much as 200.6 per cent to 46.6 lakh transactions during November 9-15. This compares with 15.5 lakh swipes during November 1-8.

The government demonetised the old high value banknotes from the midnight of November 8 and also imposed restrictions on cash withdrawals from banks as well as ATMs, prompting people to move to go digital.

RBI said a total of 65.6 lakh transactions were recorded through RuPay cards during November 9-15. This includes 19 lakh spendings through e-commerce platforms.
RuPay card usage jumped by over 118.6% in week following demonetisation, overall debit/credit card transactions up by 70.5%: RBI
20:50   Note ban 'highly disruptive'; not to change behaviour: Krugman
Criticising demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, Nobel laureate Paul Krugman today said it is "highly disruptive" and will not change behaviour of people who would become more careful and sophisticated in money laundering. 

"I understand the motivation but it is highly disruptive way to do it... I would not think there will be prominent change in behaviour. People will be more careful and
sophisticated in money laundering so that they will be protected next time," Krugman, Professor of Economics at City University of New York said at the HT Leadership Summit in New Delhi. 

Krugman said it is an unusual step and there is good case for demonetisation of high value notes.

He said launching Rs 2,000 currency is not outrageous but is an attempt to flush out hoarders. 
20:12   Undisclosed income worth Rs 1.64 crore found in Jan Dhan accounts
In a major crackdown on laundering unaccounted money through Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana accounts, Income Tax Department on Friday found that undisclosed amount of Rs 1.64 crore deposited by people who never filed income returns into Jan Dhan accounts. These accounts were found in Kolkata, Bihar, Kochi and Varanasi. 

The Income Tax Department initiated probe into sudden surge in cash deposits in Jan Dhan accounts and found various inconsistencies. While monitoring these accounts, Rs 40 lakh seized from one such account in Bihar. 

To curb misuse of Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana accounts to convert black money into white, the Reserve Bank of India has capped withdrawals from KYC-compliant Jan Dhan accounts at Rs 10,000 a month.
19:40   Centre trying to intimidate Mamata for opposing PM's policies: Kejriwal
Extending support to Mamata Banerjee over her protest against the army's presence at toll plazas, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today accused the Centre of trying to intimidate her as she was "strongly" opposing the prime minister's "wrong policies".

"Mamataji is raising her voice strongly against Modiji's wrong policies. Army personnel would not have been deployed there if she had praised Modiji.

"By deploying army (at toll plazas), the Centre is trying to intimidate her, but Mamataji is not afraid of such move. I want to tell Mamataji that I and the entire country are with you. Keep up the fight," he said.

The issue of the army's presence at toll plazas in West Bengal kicked up a storm with Mamata Banerjee remaining at the state secretariat overnight in protest, asking was it an "army coup", a remark that invited a sharp condemnation today from the Centre which said it showed her "political frustration".
19:21   Demonetisation: 27 senior PSU banks officials suspended
In a major crackdown on bank employees involved in irregularities post demonetisation, as many as 27 senior officials of various public sector banks have been suspended and six others transfered to check corrupt practices.
The suspensions comes amid reports of Income Tax authorities conducting search and seizure places at many places, including one at Bengaluru where Rs 5.7 crore cash in new currency notes was recovered from two businessmen.

Some cases have come to notice of officials involved in carrying out transactions which were irregular and violative of RBI's instructions, the finance ministry said in a statement.

"Action has been taken in such cases and 27 officials of various public sector banks have been placed under suspension and six officials have been transferred to non-sensitive posts," it said.
19:10   Nearly 100,000 New Yorkers sign petition to get rid of Melania Trump
Almost 100,000 people have demanded Melania Trump pack her designer bags and leave New York, after it was announced the next First Lady of the United States intended to stay in the city until her son has finished the school year.

Usually, the family of new presidents immediately move into the White House in Washington DC, but this time Ms Trump wants to defy convention and stay behind - at an estimated expense of $1,000,000 a day in security costs to New York taxpayers.

Read full story HERE
18:54   Newly-crowned F1 champion Rosberg retires
Nico Rosberg has announced he will retire from Formula 1 after securing this year's world championship.

The Mercedes driver made his announcement during the FIA world champions gala in Vienna, just five days after securing his title.

"For me it is a very special day to receive the trophy this evening. It is going to be amazing but for another reason: I want to take the opportunity to announce to end F1 career," said Rosberg.

"It has been every since I started since six-year old I had a clear dream. That was to become F1 world champion and it was very clear in my mind, whatever I could think, I have achieved it, put everything into it and put everything into it, -- help of fans, managed to achieve it. I will remember forever."
JUST IN: IT department files prosecution complaint against Congress leader Captain Amarinder Singh in a foreign assets tax evasion case.
18:09   Boris Johnson: Democracy is in retreat across world
In speech at Chatham House, Britains foreign secretary warns that democracy is in retreat across the world and that a cult of the strongman is taking hold, raising the prospect that the concept of a global liberal order will fade into irrelevance.

Read the full speech HERE
18:04   Each violation must be responded to with full force: Pak army chief
Pakistan's newly-appointed army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa today raked up the Kashmir
issue for the first time in his address to soldiers and asked them to respond with "full force" to any ceasefire violations by India along the Line of Control.

"Each violation of any kind must be responded to with full force in the most effective manner," he said during a visit to the 10 Corps Rawalpindi and troops at forward locations along the LoC.

Bajwa was briefed on the security situation along the LoC "in view of recent violations and escalation by Indian troops and Pakistan's own response," the army's media wing Inter-Services Public Relations said in a statement.

He said India's "aggressive posture" aims solely to divert the world's attention away from "atrocities" being committed by Indian troops in Kashmir

18:01   CEO and MD of National Stock Exchange quits
Chitra Ramkrishna, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the National Stock Exchange, has stepped down, citing personal reasons.

NSE said J Ravichandran, currently serving as Group President at NSE, has been named to replace Ramkrishna and run the affairs of the bourse in the interim period. 

The stock exchange would start the process for selection of a new Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director shortly. 

Chitra Ramkrishna was the first woman to head the NSE and was recently elected the first woman chair of the World Federation of Exchanges. 

The news came at a time when the exchange was preparing to hit the market with its initial public offering. NSE hired four additional investment banks recently to manage the issue. 
How the markets were on Friday. 
17:12   Demonetisation policy is 'unusual': US Nobel laureate
Nobel Laureate Dr Paul Krugman today criticized the implementation of demonetisation policy by calling the policy, implemented by the Narendra Modi government, 'unusual'. 

The American economist said that while the motivation behind demonetisation is understandable but the implementation of the policy is highly disruptive.

Dr Krugman claimed the China is slowing down in economy and trade and India could definitely be the next big potential. The Nobel laureate also said that India must work on reducing poverty, like the way Brazil did under the previous government using conventional fiscal means.

Over controversies on the newly implemented not-ban policy, Dr Krugman said that currency policy cannot be separated from monetary policy. He also stated that currency war is not the to be fought at this time.

17:01   Obama disapproves of Trump-Sharif conversation
Excerpts of the press briefing with White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on US President-Elect Donald Trump's conversation with Pak PM Nawaz Sharif.

Q Second, on Pakistan, would this White House agree with Donald Trump's description that Pakistan is "amazing" and that its citizens are "one of the most intelligent people"?  That's the description the Foreign Ministry provided of the conversation that Donald Trump had with their Prime Minister yesterday.

MR. EARNEST:  Darlene, I saw the readout of the telephone call that you're referring to.  I can't speak to the accuracy or to the tone of that phone call.  I'd refer you to the President-elect's team for more of a description of what the President-elect may have communicated to the Prime Minister of Pakistan.  Obviously, President Obama's conversations with his counterpart in Pakistan have been an important priority.  The U.S. relationship with Pakistan is one that's quite complicated, particularly when you consider our overlapping national security interests.  The relations between our two countries, particularly over the last eight years, have not been smooth -- consistently smooth, particularly in the aftermath of the raid on Pakistani soil that President Obama ordered to take Osama bin Laden off the battlefield.  But this obviously is an important relationship.  There have been areas where the United States and Pakistan have been able to effectively coordinate our efforts.  But one of the things that I'm reminded of is that every President, regardless of which party they're in, benefits enormously from the expertise and service of thousands of patriotic Americans at the State Department.  These are men and women -- some of them are career Foreign Service Officers.  Some of them are just career civil servants.  But these are individuals who are committed and passionate about serving our country and representing our country overseas, regardless of who the President is.  And President Obama benefitted enormously from the advice and expertise that's been shared by those who serve at the State Department.  And I'm confident that as President-elect Trump takes office, those same State Department employees will stand ready to offer him advice as he conducts the business of the United States overseas.  Hopefully he'll take it.

Q  According to their readout, Donald Trump also said that he'd like to visit Pakistan.  And I know President Obama has never been there.
MR. EARNEST:  Not as President.

Q   Not as President.  Is there anything you can say about why he never visited as President?

MR. EARNEST:  Yeah, at one point in his presidency, I do recall President Obama expressing a desire to travel to Pakistan.  For a variety of reasons, some of them relating to the complicated relationship between our two countries at certain times over the last eight years, President Obama was not able to realize that ambition.  But one thing we do know is that it sends a powerful message to the people of a country when the President of the United States goes to visit.  And that's true whether it's some of our closest allies, or that's also true if it's a country like Pakistan, with whom our relationship is somewhat more complicated.  But ultimately, when President Trump begins planning his overseas travel, he'll have a range of places to consider, and Pakistan would certainly be one of them.

Q    Fifteen more questions.  (Laughter.)  Okay, so Pakistan read out this phone call with Donald Trump, and they included direct quotes, saying in part, "You have a very good reputation.  You're a terrific guy.  You're doing amazing work which is visible in every way.  I'm looking forward to seeing you soon.'  So does this -- given the meetings that we've seen and the ways that they were conducted, as well as the phone calls and the contacts that have been made with foreign leaders, do you think that this signals a different kind of engagement around the world?  And does the administration have concerns so far?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, listen, I mean, what you have read from is a readout that was put out by the Pakistani government reflecting a conversation and reflecting the words chosen by the President-elect.  So I just don't have a lot of insight into either of those things.  So what I can say is that President Obama benefitted from the professionalism and expertise of career diplomats at the State Department who were able to offer him good advice about engaging with world leaders.  And every President has benefitted from that advice, and I think that President Trump would certainly benefit from it in the same way that President Obama did when he took office.

Q    Thanks, Josh.  A couple times you've been asked about the calls between the President-elect and the leader of Pakistan.  You've mentioned that there are career diplomats at the State Department who are able and willing to help the President get ready for those types of discussions.  Is that to be read as some kind of a tacit criticism of Trump for not taking advantage and talking to the State Department before making several calls to world leaders?

MR. EARNEST:  No, I can't speak to any conversations that the President-elect may have had with the State Department.  It's possible that he was briefed by the State Department before that call.  I just -- I don't know, you'd have to ask them.  I think I'm just making the observation that there are dedicated experts, public servants at the State Department that have years of experience that they have amassed and that they're prepared to use to advise the incoming President.  And President Obama benefitted from that expertise, and I'm sure that President Trump will, as well.

The excerpt was sent by MK Bhadrakumar.
16:32   Indian Navy capable of tackling every situation, says Admiral Lanba
Commenting on reports of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) planning to deploy its naval ships, submarines and troops to guard the Gwadar port and the USD 46 billion CPEC, India's Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba on Friday said that the navy possesses the capability and assets to deal with such a development should it take place.

Asserting that a PLA nuclear submarine was deployed and did a port call at Karachi, Admiral Lanba said that the Indian Navy is keeping a close eye and monitoring its movement.

"We have capability and assets to take on any force which is deployed, and if and when this happens, we have plans in place to tackle it. PLA nuclear submarine was deployed and did a port call at Karachi," said Admiral Lanba.

"As far as deployment of PLA navy, ships and submarines are concerned, we keep a close eye and monitor their movementFurther speaking on the issue, Admiral Lanba said that the PLA Navy has a different view on deployment or placement of forces at Gwadar.

According to reports, China would deploy its naval ships along with Pakistan Navy to safeguard the strategic Gwadar port and trade routes under the USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a navy official has said, shedding light on a plan likely to alarm India.

China and Pakistan are currently building the nearly 3,000-km-long economic corridor linking Pakistan's Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea with Xinjiang to improve connectivity between the two countries.

The move would open up a new and cheaper cargo route for transporting oil to China as well as the export of Chinese goods to the Middle East and Africa.
16:14   Pakistan should introspect why relations are tense: Jaitley
Blaming Pakistan for having uneasy relationship with India, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said it is for Islamabad to introspect as to why there are tensions between the two neighbours.

"It is a serious situation. Right from the day this government had been formed and even prior to that, India has taken one step after another honestly trying to improve relations with Pakistan," he said at HT Leadership Summit in New Delhi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a lot of initiatives including unconventional ones but then the response was Pathankot or Uri attack, prompted by Pakistan, he said.

"This cannot be normal as far as Indo-Pak relationships are concerned. If there are tensions, its for the Pakistan to introspect really why there are tensions," he said.

Asked about impact of change in regime in the US, Jaitley said the relationship between the two country is expected to strengthen further.

"I have not the least doubt that India's relations with the United States would continue to be on the same plank as it was, probably growing and maturing almost by the day," he said. "This was unusual election as far as the US was concerned. When one world's most powerful democracies through a fair electoral process takes a decision, we have to accept the decision," he added.
15:17   Only 26 MPs attend Rahul's Congress Parliamentary Meet
Rahul Gandhi on Friday assumed the position of Chairman of the Congress Parliamentary Party which has always been occupied by his mother and Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Rahul was 'in form' when he addressed the CPP and thanked his mother Sonia Gandhi for her relentless guidance in shaping his future. The CPP was attended by 26 MPs of the 105 from both houses. Former finance minsiter P Chidambaram briefed the CPP on the  demonetisation issue and laid down the reasons why the COngress should continue its fight for the rights of poor in Parliament.
15:02   The REAL reason Ambani announced 3 more months of Jio freebies
Reliance Jio is the fastest growing technology company in the world, Mukesh Ambani declared proudly on Thursday. "In the first three months, Reliance Jio has grown faster than global tech giants, Facebook WhatsApp or Skype," Ambani, the chairman of Reliance Industries, said.

The ambitious 4G telecom venture is also, however, in danger of running out of its first wave of steam, according to industry observers and analysts.Which is why Ambani, on Thursday, injected another round of steroids into his company by tacking on another three months to the company's existing free data, voice and video offer. Read more
14:26   Markets so empty you can play cricket: Traders lament demonetisation
As the new deadline allowing petrol pumps to accept scrapped high-denomination notes ends today, long queues were witnessed at several fuel stations across the metropolis.

"Today is the last date for filling up fuel in your vehicle using old Rs 500 currency notes. I have come to get my motorcycle tank filled," said Akshay Mudgal, who was in a queue outside a petrol pump in North Mumbai suburban Malad.

Besides the queues at petrol pumps, people had lined up outside the banks and ATMs also, with many waiting to deposit old notes and withdraw money.

Yesterday was the first salary day post-demonetisation and those who could not withdraw salary from banks queued up today, struggling to withdraw cash for their monthly commitments. Many queues had senior citizens and pensioners.

Also, non-functional and dried up ATMs worsened the situation prompting people to take to e-payments. "With no end to the queues in sight any time soon, people have shifted to making certain payments online or by debit/credit cards," Praful Gosavi, an accountant with a private firm, said.

People have to make payments to private drivers, domestic helpers, baby-sitters, neighbourhood grocery shops, local barbers, the corner chaiwalla, roadside vada-pav and food vendors, casual labourers, vehicle washers and with reduced circulation of small currency, making such payments has become difficult, he said.

At the 150-year-old Mangaldas cloth market in South Mumbai, customers have dwindled in the last three weeks, a cloth merchant said. "Till November 8, when PM Narendra Modi announced the ban, the market was bustling as usual but now there's so much space that one can play cricket here," he said.

In Crawford Market too, footfalls at various popular shops selling household items, bags, vegetable and fruits has reduced considerably, a shop owner said.

Government has cut short the deadline of using old Rs 500 notes at petrol pumps and for buying airline tickets at airports till today instead of December 15 announced earlier.

With effect from tomorrow, old Rs 500 notes cannot be used for purchase of petrol, diesel and gas at the stations operating under authorisation of public sector oil marketing companies and for buying airline tickets at airport counters, a government notification said.

File pic of Mangaldas Market wholesale cloth market in Mumbai
14:08   Cloud on black claim
Old notes with a cumulative value of over Rs 10 lakh crore have returned to banks with nearly a month to go before the deposit window closes, sources in the finance ministry said today. Read more
13:47   Large volumes of cash are big source of corruption, says PM Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that large volumes of cash are a big source of corruption and black money.

In an article posted on social media, Prime Minister Modi said corruption slows down growth and takes a toll on the dreams of the poor, neo-middle class and middle class.

"In the 21st century India, there is no place for corruption," he said.

Prime Minister Modi also appealed to the people to lead the change towards cashless transactions and to lay the strong foundations of an India where there is no place for such malaise.

"Today, we live in an era of mobile banking and mobile wallets. Ordering food, buying and selling furniture, ordering a taxi all of this and lot more is possible through mobiles. technology has brought speed and convenience in our lives," he added.
13:21   Tom Ford refuses to design for Melania Trump
Celebrity fashion designer Tom Ford says he will not be designing clothes for Melania Trump as she is not right fit for his image. Recently designer Sophie Theallet said she would not be outfitting Melania, citing President-elect Donald Trump's "racism, sexism and xenophobia" as the root of her decision, said The Hollywood Reporter.

"She's not necessarily my image. I was asked to dress her quite a few years ago. I declined," Ford said. The designer, who voted for Hillary Clinton, noted that it wasn't necessarily Melania so much as her position as the first lady that factored into his decision.

"Even had Hillary won, she shouldn't be wearing my clothes. They're too expensive. And I don't mean that in a bad way '" they're not artificially expensive, it's the cost to make these things." When asked if Melania should stay away from expensive pieces, he added, "I'm going to leave that to Melania."
13:13   Trump-Nawaz phone call: US stops just short of calling Pak a liar
The transition team of U.S.president elect Donald Trump has taken issue with the Pakistan government's version of the telephone conversation that took place with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Saying that Islamabad had overplayed President Elect Trump's offer to play "a role" in resolving Pakistan's disputes with India, the transition team released its own version of the telephone call.

It said that both Prime Minister Sharif and U.S. president-elect Donald Trump did have a 'productive conversation' on Wednesday (November 30).

The Dawn quoted the transition team's statement, as saying, "President-elect Trump and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif spoke and had a productive conversation about how the United States and Pakistan will have a strong working relationship in the future."

"President-elect Trump also noted that he is looking forward to a lasting and strong personal relationship with Prime Minister Sharif," the statement added.

An unidentified adviser to the Trump team said the Pakistani readout of the talk had "committed the president-elect to more than what he meant".

The most critical comment on the Pakistani readout, however, came from a former White House press secretary, Ari Fleischer: "It's entirely inappropriate for the Pakistani government to release what an American president-elect says in the course of a phone call."

Fleischer, who was a member of former Republican president George Bush's White House team and is close to the Trump transition team as well, noted that no government releases such readouts.

"We would never release what a foreign leader said to (ex-president) George W. Bush. We would talk about what George W. Bush said. But to release what somebody else says, I am not the spokesperson for Pakistan or any other nation," he told CNN.

"So, for them to do it is an entire breach of diplomatic protocol and tradition. And if they had done that to me, I would be on the phone right now with their press secretary, chewing him out. The ambassador would be on the phone with their ambassador, chewing the ambassador out. And up and down the chain," Mr Fleischer added.

The US media also criticised the Pakistani decision to release the readout, agreeing with Mr Fleischer that it was inappropriate.

"Readouts of phone calls between world leaders are usually written safely in order to protect leaders from incidental backlash - like the one the Trump team put out," CNN noted.

The Washington Post called the Pakistani release "a surprisingly candid read" and noted that it "focuses almost entirely on Trump's contribution to the conversation, and reproduces them in a voice that is unmistakably his (Mr Trump's)".

The New York Times called it "a bizarre conversation", noting that "while not exactly confirming the content, the Trump transition team did acknowledge the call".
BSF jawan injured in ceasefire violation by Pakistani troops along LoC in Rajouri district.
12:37   Kahaani 2 is let down by predictability
"If Hindi cinema is an arrowroot biscuit and Bengaliness the cha it is dipped into, Ghosh's biscuit teeters perilously on the edge of collapse. Yet, with the expertise of a lifelong double-dunker, the filmmaker pulls it out intact. It is the dexterity with which Ghosh uses his tools -- Bangla, Balan and Bengal -- that draws us in as the film starts, before the plot unspools and we're plunged into a dark thriller."

Raja Sen reviews Kahaani 2. Read it here.
12:31   Bengal was informed, let's not drag Army into controversy: Naidu in RS
With the deployment of the army at various check points across West Bengal dominating discourse in parliament on Friday, Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said it was a routine exercise and insisted that an apolitical institution like the army must not be dragged into controversies.

Naidu also said that casting aspersions on Prime Minister Narendra Modi is unacceptable.

"It is a sensitive matter as it pertains to the army, let us not derail from important issues. Bengal was taken into confidence, it happened last year and last to last year. Let's not drag the army into controversy," Naidu said.

Raising the issue, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad sought a clarification from the Centre and asked as to why the state's rights are being impinged on.

"It seems out of the way. Army doesn't collect toll? There is no law and order issue in WB for Army to be deployed? The centre must clarify it, in fact PM must clarify as to why state's rights are being impinged on," Azad said

After Opposition allegation, MoS Defence Subhash Ramrao Bhamre said that the information that this House has is "factually incorrect." "Army was in Bengal for a routine exercise," adding that the Opposition raised a ruckus.

While Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien tried to calm the Upper House, Opposition leaders raised slogans against Narendra Modi government and its "tanashahi" (dictatorship).

The Trinamool Congress (TMC) alleged that the RS is being mislead by MoS Defence Subhash Bhamre and no conclusive answer in being given by centre on Army deployment
Guru gyan: RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav listens in to Baba Ramdev's health advice.
Well said! Nitin A. Gokhale @nitingokhale  tweets: Pathetic. Mamta, rattled by recent events is seeing ghosts everywhere. From Indigo flight landing delay to Army's routine exercise.
One jawan injured in Rajouri district of J&K in cross border firing by Pakistan.
12:05   Army: Similar exercises in all states
Major Gen Sunil Yadav on WB army deployment: The Army is only collecting data of heavy vehicles, this is an annual exercise carried out every year. Similar exercise also been carried out in Jharkhand, UP and Bihar from 26th September to 1st October this year. NE states, including  Assam, Arunachal, West Bengal, Manipur, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram, Sikkim have also been part of the exercise. Over 80 such collection data points established in entire region, personnel of army consisting of 5-6 at each point are unarmed. 
11:56   Anthem order should not be overstretched: SC
The Supreme Court refuses to entertain a plea seeking playing of the national
anthem in courts after the Attorney General submits that the petitioner should file a proper application. The SC says its order on the national anthem should not be overstretched. The SC sought the Attorney General's response on a plea seeking the playing of the national anthem in all courts including the apex court and high courts before the start of proceedings.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked all cinemas to play the national anthem before a film is screened "for the love of the motherland", reigniting a debate over whether an increasingly assertive brand of nationalistic pride is stifling civil liberties.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court seeks the Attorney General's response on plea seeking playing of national anthem in all courts including apex court and high courts before start of proceedings.

Take our poll alongside on the national anthem controversy.
11:22   Parrikar, Army rebut Mamata: Toll plaza deployment routine exercise
The TMC raises the issue of "army deployment in West Bengal" in the Lok Sabha as does the Congress in the Rajya Sabha. Congress MP Ghulam Nabi Azad says, "It seems out of the way. Army doesn't collect toll! There is no law and order issue in WB for Army to be deployed," Azad said.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar replies in the Lok Sabha. "Saddening that a routine exercise has been made a controversy now. Concerned officials were intimated by Army this year too. Original dates were 28,29 & 30 Dec, were changed to 1st and 2nd Dec later. It is army's routine exercise being carried out since many years, 19th and 21st November 2015 it had taken place too. Army had informed state, this is a routine exercise. "

The Army also held a press conference and said that this is an annual exercise, similar exercise took place earlier too. Checks in all entry and exit points with various states. Bengal government's allegations on money collection baseless.  Army completed data collection near Bengal secretariat and withdrew.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday alleged that the Army was deployed at two toll plazas on National Highway 2 by the Centre without informing the state government and described it as "unprecedented and a serious matter."

Addressing a press conference, Banerjee said, "I am saying this on record. Hope my words won't be distorted. Army was today deployed at two toll plazas on National Highway 2 in West Bengal without informing state government. It is unprecedented and serious matter."

The Eastern command in a statement said, "Its a routine exercise with full knowledge & coordination with West Bengal Police. Speculation of army taking over toll plaza incorrect."

The Army also asked the West Bengal government for proof on allegations that it had collected money at the toll plazas.
11:12   Rahul takes on Modi at Cong meet: PM's policy based on TRPs
Congress VP Rahul Gandhi at the CPP meeting takes on PM Narendra Modi. Highlights...

-- PM Modi will be judged by history as man who gifted massive political space to anti-India forces by creating opportunistic BJP-PDP pol alliance.

-- Today the same person who used to ridicule us sits silently while Kashmir burns. There have been 21 major attacks and hundreds of ceasefire violations since the strikes. Its high time Govt develops a coherent strategy,we were told that idea behind strikes was to stop Pak from cross border attacks.

-- We never gave a PM who was ready to inflict such tremendous suffering on people of India to protect his own persona; We never gave India a PM who based his entire policy making strategy on TRPs. 
11:00   The foot soldiers of Modi's cashless India
As Narendra Modi and his ministers vigorously campaign for a shift to a cashless society,'s Syed Firdaus Ashraf reports on what is happening on the ground. Do read
10:44   Cyclone Nada passes off peacefully
While on the weather, some good news from south India.

Cyclone Nada has passed off peacefully through Karaikal coast in Pondy region at 5 am today with its wind velocity weakening.

Cuddalore Collector Rajesh Kumar said, "We have identified and strengthened 41 cyclone relief shelters with adequate food material and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams have already arrived."

Representational picture.
10:36   What the fog! Visibility down to 50 metres, chaos at Delhi airport
Dense fog covers the national capital on day 2.  Consequently, poor visibility has led to massive chaos at the Delhi airport where almost all flights have been delayed.

Large crowds were seen at the airport waiting for their flights on Friday morning. At around 8:30, the temperature was 13 degrees Celsius and visibility below 50 metres, the airport's website reported.

Airlines warned passengers of more delays while disruptions were also reported in other airports in north India including Lucknow and Amritsar.
10:14   Sensex plunges 200 pts on capital outflows, Asian cues
Extending its losses for the second session, BSE benchmark Sensex dropped by nearly 200 points in early trade today on sustained selling by foreign funds and retail investors amid weak Asian cues.

Investors turning cautious ahead of the release of US jobs data and oil prices retreating in global market also led to dampened sentiment on domestic bourses.

The 30-share index was trading lower by 199.97 points, or 0.75 per cent, to 26,359.95. The gauge had lost 92.89 points in the previous session. All the sectoral indices led by realty, banking and consumer durables were trading in the red, falling by up to 1.07 per cent.

The NSE Nifty fell 62.15 points, or 0.76 per cent, to 8,130.75 in early trade. Brokers said steady capital outflows by foreign funds and losses across Asia amid caution ahead of the release of US jobs data -- to be released today -- made the domestic equities heedful.
10:05   No Sonia, Rahul holds Cong Parliamentary Party meet for 1st time
Rahul Gandhi chairing the Congress Parliamentary Party meet for the 1st time. Congress president Sonia Gandhi is not present at the meet. Sonia was discharged after a two-day hospitalisation this week for viral fever. Both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs are present at the meeting. Such party meetings are generally addressed by the Congress president, and are held either in the beginning of the session or at the end. Of late, the meetings have become few and far between where no one but the Congress president speaks. Sonia Gandhi is the chairperson of the CPP while Rahul Gandhi holds no post in the CPP.

Image: Rahul Gandhi at Parliament house today.
09:31   Cyclone Nada makes landfall near Nagapattinam
Cyclone Nada makes landfall at 50 km wind speed near Nagapattinam. The Meteorological Department forecasts moderate rainfall in north coastal Tamil Nadu.

Up to 4 cm rain received in Cuddalore, Nagapattinam and Puducherry. Chennai to receive light showers, says MeT department

The Cyclone has further weakened into a depression and is currently making landfall between Nagapattinam and Vedaranyam, the MeT Department said.

Photograph: R Senthil Kumar/ PTI Photo
JUST IN: Cyclone Nada that had weakened into a depression, makes landfall near Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu. -- ANI
09:01   CM has been in secretariat overnight: Derek O'Brien
Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha MP Derek OBrien on Army deployment issue:

"We have full respect for the army, but we are told that the data they are looking for is already available.

"Are they authorised to collect funds from toll plazas? Eastern command said this is being coordinated, police knows...this is untrue,

"The CM has been in secretariat overnight. Till midnight I got reports that in over a dozen districts army personnel were being deployed."
08:43   Army withdrawn from secretariat but Mamata refuses to leave office
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is still inside Nabanna, state government secretariat, ANI reports.

However, NDTV reported that Army has been withdrawn from the toll plaza near the secretariat. It also quoted the Army as saying that it was only carrying out routine exercise and there is nothing alarming about this'.

She had yesterday vowed to 'stay here until army in front of Nabanno is withdrawn'.

Now, the CM has said she will not leave office until all deployments are withdrawn.

Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sidharth Nath Singh told ANI that the West Bengal CM 'has lost her mental balance because of the money she lost due to note ban'.
08:34   Cyclone Nada weakens further, making landfall in TN today
Cyclonic storm Nada today further weakened into a depression as per expectations, with making its land fall between Nagapattinam and Vedaranyam in Tamil Nadu, the MeT Department said.

"A large chunk of the depression has crossed coast early morning. However, over 25 per cent of the system is yet to make the landfall which will happen soon," a Met official said in Chennai.

He said mild to moderate rain coupled with squally winds were being witnessed in parts of Tamil Nadu.

Cyclone Nada which weakened into a deep depression on Thursday moved Westnorth-West wards and became a depression about 40 km East south East of Karaikkal (Puducherry Union Territory), the official said.

Meanwhile, top government authorities said the situation is being monitored continuously.
08:19   Companies leaving US will face consequences: Trump
United States President-elect Donald Trump has warned American firms wanting to relocate abroad that they will face punishment, as he announced a deal with air conditioning manufacturer Carrier to keep jobs in the country.

"Companies are not going to leave the United States any more without consequences. Not going to happen," Trump told workers at the Carrier plant in Indianapolis in his first major public remarks since winning the White House.

"They can leave from state to state, and negotiate deals with different states, but leaving the country will be very, very difficult," Trump added.

During the presidential campaign, the Republican billionaire threatened to slap tariffs on firms that decamped for places like Mexico or Asia where labour costs are cheaper. It became a repeated refrain of his victorious campaign. -- AFP
00:56   Russian space cargo ship destroyed after launch: space agency
An unmanned cargo ship loaded with more than 2-1/2 tons of food and supplies for the International Space Station was destroyed about six minutes after liftoff on Thursday, the Russian space agency Roscosmos said on Twitter.

A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying the Progress capsule blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan as planned at 9:51 a.m. EST, a NASA TV broadcast showed.

But 382 seconds later ground control teams lost radio contact with the rocket, Roscosmos said on its website.

Loss of Progress occurred at an altitude of about 190 km (118 miles), Roscosmos said.

The six-member crew aboard the station is not in any danger and has enough supplies for several months, NASA said.

Thursdays launch was the fourth failed cargo run to the station in the past two years, including one previous Progress failure.