Sun, 20 August 2017
Flood situation worsens in Bihar, death toll rises to 253

Timeline  Refresh

21:18   Flight ops suspended at Delhi airport after 'drone-like object' spotted on runway
Flight operations were suspended for over half-an-hour at the New Delhi  international airport today after a "drone-like object" was spotted in one of the runways. 

Sources said the "drone-like object" was spotted by an Air Asia pilot about 1909 hours. 

Many flights were diverted as the operations were suspended for about 40 minutes, the sources said. 

Flight operations resumed at 1955 hours after clearance from the Delhi Police, they added. 

Airport security sources said the pilot while landing reported about the object. An airport spokesperson could not be contacted immediately. 

The airport, which has three runways, is the busiest in the country and handles around 1,200 flight movements everyday. 

During peak time, the airport handles up to 70 flights per hour.
20:55   Flood situation worsens in Bihar, death toll rises to 253
The death toll in Bihar floods rose to 253 today as the already grim situation worsened with more areas getting affected and around 1.26 crore people facing the deluge.
Yesterday, the toll was 202 and the number of affected people was 1.21 crore in 18 districts.
No new district was added to the list of the affected districts today.
Araria district accounted for 57 deaths alone, followed by Sitamarhi (31), West Champaran (29), Katihar (23), East Champaran (19) while 13 each have died in Madhubani, Supaul and Madhepura, a Disaster Management Department release said.
While 11 deaths were reported in Kishanganj, Darbhanga accounted for 10 deaths, Purnea 9, Gopalganj 8, Sheohar, Muzaffarpur and Saharsa registered 4 deaths each while Khagaria and Saran accounted for 3 and 2 deaths each respectively, it said.
A total of 4.21 lakh people have been shifted to 1,358 relief camps in different parts of the state, it said.
Twenty-eight National Disaster Response Force teams comprising 1,152 personnel with 118 boats are involved in rescue and relief operations, an official release said.
20:38   Two Chinese cricketers to play in Pakistan Super league
Two Chinese cricketers have been drafted to play in the Pakistan Super League next year.
The two players of China national cricket team will represent Peshawar Zalmi in the next edition PSL, Pakistan's official news agency APP reported today.
China has both men and women cricket teams, which took part in some international tournaments but have so far failed to make a mark.
The players have already been selected from the Chinese national team and a formal contract will be signed by the head of Peshawar Zalmi, Javed Afridi during his visit to Beijing next month, the report said.
Also a proposal has been made to the Pakistan Cricket Board to make China a neutral venue for Pakistan cricket team matches instead of UAE and other countries, the report said.
A number of international cricket teams refused to play in Pakistan due to concerns over security.
However, Sri Lanka is expected to play a T20 match in Pakistan in September, eight years after its national team was attacked by terrorists in 2009 Lahore.
20:20   Train derailment: Red Cross sends 100 units of blood for injured
The Indian Red Cross Society has sent 100 units of blood to the Meerut Medical College Hospital where most of the injured in the yesterday's Utkal Express derailment near Khatauli in Uttar Pradesh are being treated.
Dr. Vanshree Singh, director of the Red Cross blood bank said that they approached the the medical college and the latter told them about the requirement of blood and requested its urgent supply.
"Initially, 100 units of blood have been released," Singh said.
She said that additional staff has been put to work, so that around 300 units of blood, which has been collected from donation camps today, is tested and kept ready, in case more blood is required at the hospital.
Fourteen coaches of the high-speed Utkal Express last evening jumped the rails, with one of them crashing into a house adjacent to the track near Khatauli in Muzaffarnagar district, leaving 22 people dead and and over 150
injured, 26 of them grievously, officials said.
20:07   Prabhu must own responsibility for derailment: Congress
The Congress today said Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu should own responsibility for the Utkal Express derailment and accused him of setting a "new record in laxity".
It also said that no amount of conspiracy theory could absolve the BJP government of blame for the death of 21 passengers.
"The dismal safety record of the Modi government is reflected in 27 major railway accidents since May 2014 which have resulted in the death of 259 passengers and serious injuries to 899," AICC in-charge of communications Randeep Singh Surjewala said.
He said it was time to reset priorities and allocate budget for railway safety protocols vis-a-vis the "bullet train jumlas".
Surjewala said initial reports suggested that a "massive miscommunication" led to derailment of at least 14 coaches of the Haridwar-bound Kalinga-Utkal Express in Khatauli. 
"This is a sad commentary on the absence of safeguards as also vulnerability with which the train system operates, not to mention the criminal negligence involved," he said.

The Congress leader alleged that "Prabhu and railway authorities appear to be setting new records of laxity and unpreparedness with regard to the safety and security of passengers".
"Times demand that Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu must own responsibility. Forget bullet trains, 27 train accidents have taken place since the Modi government took office and six major tragedies have taken place in Uttar Pradesh alone in the past 15 months.
"Every time there is an accident, the railway authorities invent a fresh conspiracy to wash their hands of culpability but facts speak otherwise," he said.
Taking a jibe at Prabhu, Surjewala alleged the railway minister, who "continuously unveils grand schemes of privatisation" and spends majority of the time on Twitter, had "utterly failed" to perform his primary duty of securing passengers.
18:40   Army chief arrives in Leh on 2-day visit
Army Chief General Bipin Rawat arrived in Leh today on a two-day visit to take stock of the situation in Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir.
A defence spokesman said General Rawat would take part in a function where President Ram Nath Kovind will present President's Colours to Ladakh Scouts Regimental Centre tomorrow.

This will be Kovind's first visit outside Delhi after taking oath as the 14th President of India. 
The Army chief's visit came five days after Chinese troops clashed with the Indian Army personnel near Pangong Lake on August 15.
The two sides engaged in stone pelting at each other, resulting in injuries to personnel from both sides.
Defence sources said General Rawat would be briefed about the general security situation along the Line of Actual Control with China and the operational preparedness of the troops deployed there.
He is also likely to visit some forward areas during his stay in Ladakh region, the sources said. 
18:35   10 HuJI sentenced to death for attempting to assassinate B'desh PM
Ten Harkatul Jihad-e-Islami Bangladesh terrorists were sentenced to death while nine terrorists of the banned outfit jailed for 20 years each by a Bangladeshi court today over a failed attempt to assassinate Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina by detonating bombs at one of her rallies in 2000.
The convicts had hatched the plot to kill Hasina, who was serving her first term as prime minister in 2000, by planting two 76-kg bombs at an open ground at her village home in southwestern Gopalganj where she was scheduled to address a public rally.
Security officials, however, detected the bomb ahead of the rally.
On further investigation, outlawed HuJI chief Mufti Hannan, who was executed earlier this year in another case involving attempted assassination of the then Bangladeshi-origin British high commissioner, was found to be the mastermind of the plot.
Twenty-five suspects had been accused in the Special Powers Act case. Nine received 20 years in prison and were fined 20,000 taka each, while four were acquitted.
"They (convicts) will be executed either by hanging or by shooting with permission of the High Court," Dhaka's Speedy Trial Tribunal-2 judge Mamtaz Begum said.
Only eight of the accused faced the trial in person while the rest were sentenced in absentia.
Under the Bangladesh law, the death sentences would require to be endorsed by the High Court following an automatic death reference hearing. The convicts are allowed to file an appeal as well.
18:31   A 'good' decision would be reached shortly: OPS on AIADMK merger
Rebel All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader O Panneerselvam today said talks on the merger of factions led by him and Chief Minister K Palaniswami have moved a step forward and a "good" decision would be reached shortly.
"I had informed that the merger talks are already progressing smoothly. It has progressed one more step...A good decision will be attained shortly as desired by you," he told reporters in Rajapalayam after a meeting with his party functionaries.
Yesterday, Panneerselvam had said that talks on the merger of the factions were going on smoothly and a positive result was expected in a "day or two".
Palaniswami, too, had said he was confident that "both the factions would merge soon".
In Erode, AIADMK Amma faction veteran and Education Minister K A Sengottaiyan echoed him.
"It will be good decision and it will happen to the liking of the cadres and people," he told reporters referring to the 'positive views' expressed by both Panneerselvam and Palaniswami.
Party sources indicated the merger might fructify tomorrow if an agreement was reached on the question of Sasikala's "formal expulsion," as demanded by the Panneerselvam faction.
There were also some issues like the role envisaged for top functionaries of Panneerselvam camp including K P Munusamy and E Madhusudanan in the unified party, they said.
17:36   Post note ban, separatists and Maoists feel 'fund-starved', says Jaitley
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said demonetisation left Maoists in many parts of India and separatists in Jammu and Kashmir "fund starved".
He said it greatly reduced the number of protesters taking part in stone-pelting in the militancy-hit state.
"Stone pelters used to gather in thousands on the streets of Kashmir before demonetisation was announced, but now not even 25 come together for such agitations," he said.
"After demonetisation, separatists in Jammu and Kashmir and also Maoists in states like Chhattisgarh have become fund starved," the minister said.
Jaitley was speaking at a function organised by Mumbai Bharatiya Janata Party president Ashish Shelar. He spoke on the topic 'New India Pledge'.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was also present on the occasion.
Elaborating on benefits of the move to scrap high-value notes in November 2016, Jaitley said money which was earlier getting circulated outside the economy had come into the formal banking system.
16:39   Why whisky tastes better with water? Here's the answer
Adding a few drops of water enhances the taste of whisky, say scientists who confirm what alcohol connoisseurs have long known.
Researchers at Linnaeus University in Sweden have found that adding water to whisky alters the drink's molecules to make it taste better.
Whisky is a chemically complicated beverage. After malting, mashing, fermentation, distillation and maturing, for at least three years in oak barrels, it is bottled.
However, first whisky is usually diluted to around 40 per cent of alcohol by volume by the addition of water, which changes the taste significantly.
Researchers solved a piece of the puzzle that will help us better understand the chemical qualities of whisky.
"The taste of whisky is primarily linked to so-called amphipathic molecules, which are made up of hydrophobic and hydrophilic parts," said Bjorn Karlsson, chemistry researcher at Linnaeus University.
"One such molecule is guaiacol, a substance that develops when the grain is dried over peat smoke when making malt whisky, providing the smoky flavour to the whisky," Karlsson said.
Researchers carried out computer simulations of water/ethanol mixtures in the presence of guaiacol to study its interactions.
They found that guaiacol was preferentially associated with ethanol molecules and that in mixtures with concentrations of ethanol up to 45 per cent guaiacol was more likely to be present at the liquid-air interface than in the
bulk of the liquid.

"This suggests that, in a glass of whisky, guaiacol will therefore be found near the surface of the liquid, where it contributes to both the smell and taste of the spirit," said Ran Friedman, researcher in chemistry at Linnaeus University.

"Interestingly, a continued dilution down to 27 per cent resulted in an increase of guaiacol at the liquid-air interface.
"An increased percentage, over 59 per cent, had the opposite effect, that is to say, the ethanol interacted more strongly with the guaiacol, driving the molecule into the solution away from the surface," Friedman said.
These findings suggest that the taste and aroma of guaiacol, and similar compounds in whisky, are enhanced when the spirit is diluted prior to bottling and this taste may be more pronounced on further dilution in the glass.
16:22   Track maintenance work may have caused derailment: Railways
A senior railway official today said a preliminary probe has found that maintenance work was being carried out on the tracks where multiple coaches of the Utkal Express derailed yesterday.
"Some maintenance work was going on, which might have cause the derailment of Utkal Express," said Mohd Jamshed, Member Traffic, Railway Board, at a news briefing today.
The senior official, who rushed to the spot in Khatauli where the accident occurred, said he had seen maintenance tools on the tracks.
"There is an audio clip of of a conversation that we will probe. Also, when we did a site inspection, we saw some equipment of the railways used for track repair present there," he said.
At least 21 people were killed and 97 injured, 26 of them grievously, in the derailment, the railways said.
"It is being said that some work was being carried out at the site and in that work the required precautions were not taken," Jamshed said.
An initial report will be submitted to the ministry by this evening, he said.
He said the railways has instituted an enquiry to be conducted by the Commissioner, Railway Safety, Northern Circle. The probe will begin tomorrow, he added.
"As per the directions of the railway minister, strict action will be taken against those found guilty prima facie," he said.
"Commissioner Safety will ascertain what type of maintenance work was being carried out on the track in his detailed probe. He will also find out whether laid down rules were followed," he added. 

Image: Workers repairing the rail track after the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express train derailed in Khatauli near Muzaffarnagar, on Sunday. Photograph: Shahbaz Khan/PTI Photo
16:05   Stand-up comedian, activist Dick Gregory dies
Dick Gregory, the legendary comedian and civil rights activist, has died. He was 84.
Gregory died of heart failure on Saturday, his representative confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.
"It is with enormous sadness that the Gregory family confirms that their father, comedic legend and civil rights activist Mr Dick Gregory departed this earth tonight in Washington, DC," his son Christian Gregory said via a
statement from his father's representative.
"The family appreciates the outpouring of support and love and respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time."
Gregory was taken to the hospital earlier this month after feeling ill for a serious but stable medical condition, Christian added.
Regarded as the first African-American comic to perform regularly in front of white audiences, Gregory appeared on all of the top TV talk shows of the 1960s and 1970s.
The St Louis native cynically satirised racism and other social ills during his routines.
Gregory's big break came in 1961 when he was booked into the Playboy Club in downtown Chicago as a one-night replacement for Irwin Corey, a white comic who didn't want to work seven nights a week.
He was invited to perform on "The Tonight Show" in 1962.
Gregory used his newfound fame to become a civil-rights activist and opponent of the Vietnam War.
He made friends with Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X.
Gregory ran for mayor of Chicago in 1967 but lost to Richard Daley, then entered the race for US president a year later.
A write-in candidate on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket, he received some 47,000 votes.
In 2016, Emmy-winning actor Joe Morton portrayed Gregory in the off-Broadway play "Turn Me Loose", produced by John Legend.

15:17   Murthy's shadow to loom large over search for Infy CEO, feel experts
Infosys' search for a new CEO may not be an easy one as the pressure of being under the constant scrutiny of the firm's high-profile founders could see many candidates shying away, said industry leaders and experts.
Vishal Sikka, Infosys' first non-founder CEO, quit on Friday citing slander by founders. The board, which has blamed co-founder N R Narayana Murthy for the CEO's resignation, has said it will find a replacement by March 31, 2018.
The search would include both internal and external candidates.
"Any potential candidate will be concerned about being watched and publicly criticised an idea that cannot be pleasing to anyone on the outside," Institutional Investor Advisory Services said.
The proxy advisory firm added that in this backdrop, internal candidates "that remain faithful to the old guard" would be an easy choice "but risks compromising competence for peace".
Infosys' founders -- Murthy being the most vocal critic among them -- have for the past several months raised issues of alleged corporate governance lapses at the company. There have also been whistle-blower allegations of impropriety in Infosys' 2015 acquisition of Israeli automation-tech firm Panaya for USD 200 million.
Having set up the company along with six others three decades ago, Murthy along with some former executives have publicly questioned high pay packages given to Sikka and the severance package offered to ex-CFO Rajiv Bansal and former General Counsel David Kennedy.
There are some who have also questioned Infosys Board's narrative and raised doubts over its staunch refusal to make public the report of the investigation firms on the alleged whistle-blower complaints.
Speaking to PTI, industry doyen Pramod Bhasin agreed that the search for the CEO could be harder now for Infosys. 
"It is also important that the Board and the incoming CEO hear the voice of other major shareholders of the company," he said.
Industry veteran Ganesh Natarajan said Infosys now needs to "speed up" the process of identifying the CEO to demonstrate that it is business as usual, and nothing is on hold.
"They need to send out a message that while Vishal Sikka may be leaving, there exists a strong line up of leaders within the company who can handle the situation and challenges," he added.
Asked if it would be difficult for Infosys to on-board a new CEO given the recent turn of events, Natarajan answered in the negative.
"An experienced or seasoned CEO will know how to tackle the situation. There are enough people in India and abroad who would be willing to take up such a role. There are many turnaround CEOs, who will see it as a challenging assignment," he said.
14:36   Deficit rains in one-fourth of country; IMD hopes recovery
More than one-fourth of the country has received deficient rainfall this monsoon, which is halfway through, but the India Meteorological Department is hopeful of the situation improving in the remaining period.
According to the IIMD, there is five per cent overall shortfall in rains across the country, but the deficiency is more in 26 per cent of the country's land mass.
The rainfall deficiency is more in parts of Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka and western Uttar Pradesh, it said.
IMD has projected "normal" southwest monsoon in 2017, which is from June to September.
"The coastal, north and south interior Karnataka have been receiving good rainfall since the last two days. Rainfall has also begun in Marathwada and Madhya Pradesh. We are hoping the situation will improve," IMD Director General K J Ramesh said.
Last week, the Met Department had said the second half of the monsoon season is likely to be 100 per cent of the Long Period Average. The rainfall during August is likely to be 99 per cent.
Noting that monsoon is reviving, Secretary in the Ministry of Earth Sciences Madhavan Rajveevan tweeted, "Good rains over central India including Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat in the next 2 weeks."
He also noted that "rain deficit regions (are) likely to recover" but cautioned about "chance of floods" in some parts.
Sowing of kharif (summer) crops has been affected in states with deficit rains, though overall sowing area across the country remains higher at 976.34 lakh hectare till last week of the season as against 984.57 lakh hectare in the year-ago period, as per the Agriculture Ministry's data.
Among the states with deficit rains, IMD said that north and south interior Karnataka have both recorded rainfall deficiency in range of 20-25 per cent so far.
There has been 32 per cent rainfall deficit so far recorded in Marathwada and Vidarbha regions of Maharashtra, which had reported farmer suicides over the last few years.
Even east and west Madhya Pradesh have recorded a deficiency of 23 per cent. Parts of Kerala recorded deficient rainfall for a second consecutive year.
However, some states especially east Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam and Gujarat have witnessed floods.

14:33   Stone pelting cases decline in J&K due to NIA: HM
Incidents of stone-pelting have reduced in Jammu and Kashmir due to the role of the National Investigation Agency, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said today.
He said the incidents of naxalism, terrorism and extremism have also seen a downward trend in the last three years.
"You have seen role of the NIA in Jammu and Kashmir, where incidents of stone pelting have come down. We have taken pledge for India's security and strict action is being taken for this. We will accept challenges and in the past three years incident of naxalism, terrorism and extremism have seen a downward trend," he said.
Singh was speaking after inaugurating the office and residential complex of the NIA in Lucknow.
"We will win over naxalism, terrorism and extremism. In the past three years, extremism has come down by 75 per cent in the northeast and naxalism has come down by 35-40 per cent," Singh said.
Emphasising on "finishing terror funding sources", he said, "If we plug sources of fake currency and terror funding, it will be a big blow to terrorism. NIA is doing a great job here. Its name sends fear down the spine of those indulging in terror funding."
On the occasion, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath suggested holding of a meeting every six months between the NIA and state agencies.
Responding to his suggestion, Singh said, "Without better coordination, there can be no success. It's a continuous process of sharing informations."
13:22   Pak must ensure its soil is not used for terror activities: US
Pakistan must ensure that its soil is not used for any terrorist attack against the neighbours, a top American General has said.
United States Central Command commander General Joseph Votel conveyed this to Islamabad during a visit last week. This was his third visit to Pakistan as commander.
During the visit, he called on Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Zubair Hayat and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
"In his discussions with Pakistani leaders, he emphasised that all parties must work to ensure that Pakistani soil is not used to plan or conduct terrorist attacks against its neighbours," the US Embassy here said in a statement.
General Votel also underlined the need to further strengthen US and Pakistani military-to-military relations as the two nations work together to ensure greater regional security and stability.
"This visit allowed the General to gain an increased understanding of the counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency efforts the Pakistani government has made over the years to achieve our shared objectives," the statement said.
Votel called on Prime Minister Abbasi on Saturday during which the premier underscored that Pakistan had an important stake in peace and stability in Afghanistan as Pakistan has suffered the most due to conflict in that country.
Abbasi also raised the Kashmir issue with Votel.
13:04   Government extends Bhim cash back scheme for merchants till March
The government has extended till March a cash back scheme that offers incentives of up to Rs 1,000 to merchants for accepting payments through the BHIM application.
"The BHIM cash back scheme for merchants will be operational till March 31, 2018," a note by the ministry of electronics and IT said.
The scheme was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 14 for a period of six months for promoting cashless payments through the BHIM app.
Under the scheme, a merchant can get cash back of Rs 50 for 20-50 transaction, Rs 2 for every transaction thereafter till Rs 950. The monthly limit of BHIM cash back scheme is Rs 1,000.
The condition for availing benefit is that at least 20 transactions should have been accepted by the merchant during the month from unique users of the BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money) with each amounting to minimum of Rs 25.
The app user can make transaction by using UPI address, ISFC code and bank account of the recipient and by scanning QR code that can be generated in the app itself.

Unlike mobile wallet, users are not required to store money in the BHIM app. 

Image: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses during the launch of a new mobile app 'Bhim' to encourage e-transactions. Photograph: Subhav Shukla/PTI Photo
13:01   Utkal Express derailment: Prabhu asks authoirities to fix responsibility
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today directed Chairman, Railway Board, to fix responsibility on "prima facie evidence by the end of day" into the derailment of the Utkal Express in Uttar Pradesh.
The minister said he was monitoring the situation closely and that restoration of tracks was his top priority.
Over 20 people died and 156 were injured after 14 coaches of the Utkal Express derailed near Muzaffarnagar in western Uttar Pradesh yesterday evening.
"Restoration is top priority. Seven coaches tackled. Also ensuring best possible medical care for the injured. monitoring situation closely," he said in a tweet.
"Will not allow laxity in operations by the Board. Have directed CRB to fix responsibility on prima facie evidence by end of day," he tweeted.
The minister, who has been keeping a close tab on the situation since yesterday, directed senior officials and medical personnel to provide assistance to injured passengers and all possible help to relatives of affected passengers.
Prabhu had ordered an inquiry into the derailment yesterday. He said he was personally monitoring the situation and strict action will be taken in case of any lapse.
The minister also announced Rs 3.5 lakh ex gratia compensation for those who lost their lives, Rs 50,000 for the seriously injured and Rs 25,000 for those who received minor injuries.
12:29   UP train crash: 156 injured, many in critical condition, says official
A senior Uttar Pradesh official today said that 156 people were injured in the derailment of Utkal Express in western Uttar Pradesh.
Many of the 156 injured were in a critical state, Awanish Kumar Awasthi, Principal Secretary to the Uttar Pradesh chief minister, said.
"A total of 156 people were injured in the Utkal Express train accident and among them many remain critical," Awasthi told PTI over the phone.
The Union railway ministry said in a release early this morning that 21 people were killed and 97 injured, 26 of them grievously, in the derailment yesterday.
The injured passengers had been admitted to various hospitals in Meerut and Muzaffarnagar.
Fourteen coaches of the high-speed train jumped the rails, with one of them crashing into a house by the tracks near Khatauli.
The train was coming from Puri in Odisha and going to Haridwar in Uttarakhand, normally a journey of about 36 hours.
Muzaffarnagar authorities have set up a control room to assist the families of those affected. The numbers are: 0131- 2436918, 0131-2436103 and 0131-2436564.
11:53   PM, Shah to meet CMs of BJP-ruled states tomorrow
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah will meet chief ministers and deputy chief ministers of all party ruled states tomorrow to take stock of development and social welfare work being done.
Besides 13 chief ministers and six deputy chief ministers, a few cabinet ministers are also likely to attend the meeting, according to sources in the party.
This will be Modi's third meeting with the chief ministers after the BJP swept to power in 2014, but the first such exercise since it formed a government in Bihar by joining hands with the Jnata Dal-United.
The discussions in the meeting are expected to revolve around implementation of the Centre's flagship schemes in the states and development works being done there, they said.
The meeting is being organised just days after Shah unfolded the blue print for 2019 elections, which may also feature in the discussions.
Shah had asked party leaders to focus on about 120 winnable seats which party lost in 2014 elections and is aiming for more than 350 in the next general elections.
The chief ministers are likely to give presentations of schemes and models undertaken by their respective governments at the meet.
11:32   'Will PIOs violate visa rules if they campaign in Indian polls?'
If people of Indian origin (PIOs) campaign in Lok Sabha and assembly elections in the country, will they violate their visa conditions?
This question has been posed to the law ministry by the Election Commission as the election law is silent on as to who can campaign in Indian elections.
During the recently-held Punjab assembly elections, when several PIOs came to the state to campaign for the Aam Aadmi Party, the chief electoral officer of the state had raised a query with the commission on whether this category of the people can do so.
The election law is silent on who can campaign in Indian elections.
"There was no complaint from any party in this regard. But the CEO raised a query as it was a new situation. As the Representation of the People Act or related electoral rules are silent on the issue, the commission then sought an answer from the ministry of external affairs.
"The MEA asked it to seek a response from the law ministry," explained a government functionary aware of the correspondence between the EC and the government.
The law ministry wanted to know the reasons behind the commission's query. After being given the details and the background by the EC, the ministry is yet to respond to the poll panel.
"The PIOs are not Indian citizens. They visit India on visa explaining the purpose of visit -- official, personal or tourism.
"Since election campaign is not one of the purposes, we wanted to know whether coming on a private visit visa they can campaign in elections," said a commission functionary requesting anonymity. 

10:55   Air-conditioned jackets for Indian Special Forces soon: Parrikar
Trials for introducing air-conditioned jackets for the Indian Special Forces soldiers are on, former Defence Minister and Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has said.

"In a Special Forces operation, there is extensive exercise. Body heats up, he (soldier) is very uncomfortable. At that time if he has an air conditioned jacket, he is more comfortable. Trial is on," Parrikar told students in Panaji.

Talking about the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, he said the only weak-point of the LCA Tejas was that it was a light plane and could carry a payload of only 3.5 ton.

He said there were other capabilities at which the Tejas fared better than many of the best planes in the world.

He said that he had diligently pursued the LCA project.

"It was completed some 5-6 years (ago) but the government was not inducting it. Minor issues were there. I consecutively conducted 18 meetings and saw to it that it is inducted in the Air Force... Now there are three planes and one new aircraft is getting added up every one or two months," Parrikar replied to a question regarding Indian capabilities at manufacturing world class war equipment.
10:35   Public sector banks threaten to strike on Tuesday
Services at public sector banks may take a hit on Tuesday as all unions under the aegis of UFBU have threatened to go on strike against the government's proposed consolidation move besides raising a host of other demands.

Most banks have already informed their customers that functioning of branches and offices will be impacted if the strike takes off.

Operations at private lenders like ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Axis Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank are expected to be normal except delay in cheque clearances.

The United Forum of Bank Unions is an umbrella body of nine unions, including All India Bank Officers' Confederation, All India Bank Employees Association and National Organisation of Bank Workers.

"As the conciliation meeting before the Chief Labour Commissioner failed, unions are left with no other option but to go on strike. There was no assurance from the government and the management of banks," AIBOC General Secretary D T Franco said.

As many as 21 public sector banks control 75 per cent of the total business.

Image used is for representational purposes only. 
10:25   Sharad Yadav embarrassing himself by revolting against NDA merger: JD-U
The Janata Dal-United on Sunday reiterated their warning to rebel senior party leader Sharad Yadav saying that he will face action if he attends Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav's rally.

JD-U leader Ajay Alok reiterated, "Our general secretary (KC Tyagi) has clearly stated that if he (Sharad Yadav) attends Lalu's rally, then he should be ready to face serious consequences."

He also came down heavily on Sharad Yadav for his revolt against merging with the NDA, saying he is making "fun of himself" by making such statements.

"Why he never raised an objection when the party was separating from the National Democratic Alliance in 2013. Sharad ji is saying that he was against joining NDA is 2013. He was the general secretary then. So somewhere he is making fun of himself by making such statements," he added.

He further said, "The meeting took place and it was decided that JD-U will become part of NDA. And it is for the PM to decide and his prerogative whether to make JD-U a part of cabinet or not. If he wants that then we will be very happy about it."

JD-U leader KC Tyagi had earlier said that the party has not acted against Yadav for his "anti-party activities" because of his seniority and long association with the party.

"If he attends RJD chief Lalu Prasad's rally here on August 27, he will cross the Lakshman Rekha," he said, and hinted at action against him.
10:13   Avoid 5-star hotels and PSU perks: PM Modi to ministers
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has cautioned his ministers against staying in five-star hotels and availing of any benefit from public sector undertakings attached to their ministries, including using their cars.

He is understood to have said that he was extremely unhappy with the recent tendency of some ministers' preference to stay in five-star hotels instead of accommodation that the government provides.

The PM made it clear to the ministers that they should stick to government accommodation while on official duty and not give into the "temptation" of staying in five star hotels, sources said.

He also told his ministers that he was unhappy with reports of some of them using vehicles from public sector undertakings under their ministries. The PM made it clear that he would not tolerate any misuse of vehicles of PSUs, either by ministers or their families.
09:47   Athawale bats for SC, ST reservation in Indian Army
Union Minister of State for social justice, Ramdas Athawale appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking reservation for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Indian Army.

"I appeal to Prime Minister Modi to provide reservation to backward classes in the Indian Army," Athawale said, adding that he will speak to the prime minister regarding the same.

Citing Babasaheb Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar words that we all should serve our country, Athawale further urged all youngsters to get recruited into the Indian Army.

Earlier, Athawale had demanded reservations for the SC-ST community in the Indian cricket team also. 
09:42   Locals in Khatauli extend a helping hand
Locals distribute breakfast and tea at Utkal Express train derailment site.
09:29   Gandhi family, dignitaries pay tribute on Rajiv Gandhi's 75th birth anniversary
The entire Gandhi family including Congress president Sonia Gandhi, vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra on Sunday paid tribute to former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on his 75th birth anniversary in the national capital.

Many leaders and family members of the late prime minister were present at the ceremony. Dignitaries like former president Pranab Mukherjee, former chief minister Sheila Dikshit were also present.

They offer wreaths at the place called Veer Bhoomi where Gandhi was cremated.

The assassination the ex-prime minister of India, occurred as a result of a suicide bombing in Sriperumbudur, near Madras, in Tamil Nadu, India on Tuesday, 21 May 1991.
08:54   We will 'heel' and be stronger: Trump roasted for typo-filled tweets
It took US President Donald Trump a whopping three tries to correctly spell a particularly innocuous word in a set of tweets, which has now resulted in the world tapping into their creative juices and generating humour from the snafus.

Addressing the stream of protests and counter-protests particularly those in Boston, the President tried to boost the morale of the nation through his words, and ended up doing just that, as he got caught up on a typo, writing "heel" instead of "heal" - twice!

"Our great country has been divided for decade, but it will come together again.Sometimes protest is needed in order to heel,and heel we will!" Trump wrote in the first tweet.

An 'oops' moment followed as the US President deleted the tweet and replaced it with, "Our great country has been divided for decades. Sometimes you need protest in order to heel, & we will heel, & be stronger than ever before!"
08:37   Utkal Express derailment: Trains on Meerut line cancelled or diverted till 6 PM
Trains passing through the Meerut line of the Northern Railway have been either cancelled or diverted till 6 pm today, in the wake of the tragic accident at Khatauli in Uttar Pradesh, a senior railway
official said.

The sleepy town of Khatauli became the epicentre of rescue operations yesterday after 13 bogies of the Puri-Haridwar Kalinga Utkal Express derailed near its station, killing at least 23 people.

"All services on Meerut line, on which the Khatauli falls, have been either cancelled or diverted through other routes till 6 PM, as the tracks are yet to be cleared of mangled train coaches," DRM of the Delhi Division, R N Singh told PTI.
08:03   Human error behind Uttar Pradesh train crash, say locals
Around 5:46 pm on Saturday evening, residents of Khatauli in western Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar district heard a loud crash when at least a dozen carriages of the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express ran off the tracks. Two of the coaches crashed into a residential area, hitting a house and a school building.

At least 23 people were killed and more than 70 injured in the accident. Local residents say human error may have caused the accident. The government has ordered an inquiry which is also probing any possible foul play.

Jagat Ram, one of the residents of the house that was damaged when the train crashed into it, said that parts of the rail track in the area were being repaired over the last two days. Locals suspect that the driver of the Utkal Express wasn't informed about the work.

Railway officials, however, are yet to comment on the cause for the accident.