Tue, 10 January 2017
Bombings in Kandahar; UAE envoy, governor injured; 9 killed

Timeline  Refresh

22:48   Bombings in Kandahar; UAE envoy, governor injured; 9 killed
Afghan media reports that at least nine people, including four Arabs, have been killed and 16 wounded in an explosion at a provincial government guesthouse in Kandahar.

The wounded include United Arab Emirates ambassador and Kandahar governor, a TOLOnews report says.  

It said that the governors condition in serious.

No group as claimed responsibility of the attack as yet.

The bombings came soon after twin blasts in Kabul which killed at least 21 people.

Image for representation only.
22:34   NHRC slaps notice after tribal woman 'forced' to sell due to poverty
A tragic case of a scheduled tribe woman 'forced' to sell her newborn child due to penury in Odisha's Kendrapara district has prompted the National Human Rights Commission to issue a notice to the district collector.

The commission acted suo motu based on reports, brought to its notice by a human rights activist during its camp in Bhubaneswar, that the child was sold for Rs 2,000 to a neighbour of the 'homeless' woman.

'Reportedly, the woman took this step due to poverty as she is deprived of benefits of the government-run schemes. She has two more children and has been deserted by her husband,' an NHRC statement said.

The commission issued a notice to the district magistrate, Kendrapara, to submit a report within four weeks along with the steps taken or proposed to be taken for relief and rehabilitation. -- PTI

Image for representation ONLY.
JUST IN: Suspended Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha MP Kunal Ghosh is being interrogated since morning by the Central Bureau of Investigation in connection with Rose Valley and Saradha cases, reports ANI.
21:24   Billings stars as England beat India 'A'
England XI beat India 'A' by three wickets in first warm-up match in Mumbai on Tuesday.

Sam Billings top-scored for the visitors with an unbeaten 93 runs in the first of the two warm-up matches.

India 'A' scored 304/5 in 50 overs. Playing second, England XI scored 307/7 in 48.5 overs to win the match.

21:01   Court asks jail officials to take Bhujbal to hospital for angiography
A special court in Mumbai on Tuesday directed Arthur Road jail officials to take Maharashtra's former deputy chief minister and money laundering case accused Chhagan Bhujbal to state-run J J Hospital for angiography after getting his consent.

"The special PMLA court has directed that Bhujbal be taken to JJ for angiography, provided he gives his consent," said Bhujbal's lawyer Salabh Saxena.

The Prevention of Money Laundering Act court had on December 14 last year ordered that Bhujbal, then admitted to a private hospital, be shifted to Arthur Road jail on a plea by the prison officials that he had refused to undergo angiography. Bhujbal's stay at the private hospital since November 2 had prompted accusation that he was receiving preferential treatment.

The court had then also asked the officials to allow Bhujbal's family members to meet him and get their consent before shifting him to J J Hospital.

The Nationalist Congress Party leader was arrested on March 14 last year by the Enforcement Directorate on the charge of bribery and money laundering in the construction of Maharashtra Sadan building in Delhi. He was also booked by the Anti Corruption Bureau for alleged irregularities in the construction.
20:33   Babul Supriyo sends legal notice to Trinamool MPs
Union minister and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Babul Supriyo on Tuesday sent a legal notice to Trinamool Congress leaders, including MPs Saugata Roy and Tapas Pal, accusing them of dragging his name into the Rose Valley Chit Fund scam.

"Yes, a notice has been sent to them today. If they fail to give a satisfactory reply in 7 days, I will approach the court.

"They said that the prime minister and I have siphoned off money, that I am on the payroll of Rose Valley. If you have any evidence, produce it in court," he said adding he has given them seven days time to reply.

Meanwhile, TMC MPs will meet President Pranab Mukherjee tomorrow at the end of their three-day dharna to draw his attention towards hardship being faced by the common man due to demonitisation.

TMC MPs have been staging protest against the Modi governments demonitisation drive and the arrest of their party MPs in the alleged Rose Valley chit fund scam here since January 9.

"There is political vendetta against us because we are opposing Modi governments demonitisation drive. We will meet the President tomorrow at 2 pm after the end of the three-day dharna in the capital," according to a senior TMC leader.

Raising slogans like 'Modi hatao desh bachao', about 30 TMC MPs from the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha staged a sit-in near the party office at South Avenue for the second day.
20:07   Talk to Sena leaders on seat sharing, Fadnavis asks partymen
In a bid to forge an alliance with Shiv Sena for the upcoming elections to 10 municipal corporations and 26 Zilla Parishads, Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis has asked party leaders to initiate talks with their Sena counterparts to explore seat sharing possibilities.
"Fadnavis has given directions to district unit leaders to talk to Sena politicians on seat sharing possibilities. The CM and state BJP chief Raosaheb Danve will meet tomorrow to discuss the strategy for alliance," Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar told reporters in Mumbai.
"The focus should be on winning maximum number of seats," said Mungantiwar.
Fadnavis held a meeting with guardian ministers of BJP last night to discuss proposed alliance.
Mungantiwar said alliance finalisation should be done at the earliest so that workers get into election mode and begin campaigning.
The minister made it clear that alliance will not be 100 per cent since it is not possible to take a decision being in Mumbai. "Local leaderships need to be taken on board," he said.
Earlier, late Bal Thackeray, Pramod Mahajan, Gopinath Munde would discuss the strategy for alliance and seat sharing, he said. 
20:05   Sonia not to attend Congress protest on Wed
Rajeev Sharma tells us: Congress President Sonia Gandhi will keep away from the party's 'Jan Vedana Sammelan' (People's Pain Conference) at New Delhi's Talkatora Stadium on Wednesday, January 11.

Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi will preside over the conference, which has been organised to protest against demonetisation.

Sonia is keeping away from the Jan Vedana Sammelan as a tactical move so that her son gets his moment of glory.

The event will be one more push for Rahul 's appointment as Congress president.
20:02   Army chief discusses security situation in J&K with HM
Army chief General Bipin Rawat today called on Home Minister Rajnath Singh and the duo are understood to have discussed the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

Rawat has recently returned from his maiden visit to the state. He reviewed the security situation and operational preparedness of the force there.

The Army chief called on the home minister, a release issued by home ministry said. 

They discussed the security situation in the state, official sources said. General Rawat took charge on December 31, succeeding General Dalbir Singh Suhag, who retired after 42 years of service.
19:57   At least 21 killed, 45 wounded in Kabul twin blasts: official
At least 21 people were killed and 45 wounded in twin bombings near the Afghan parliament in Kabul today, a security official said.

"The blasts left 21 people dead and 45 others wounded, most of them civilians including parliament employees," the official said, requesting anonymously.
19:30   Parliamentary panel cancels DeMo meeting on Wednesday
Rajeev Sharma tells us: Parliament's Standing Committee on Finance, headed by M Veerappa Moily of the Congress, which was scheduled to meet in New Delhi on Wednesday, January 11, on the issue of demonetisation, has cancelled the meeting.

Reserve Bank of India Governor Urijit Patel and top finance ministry officials were scheduled to attend the meeting.

However, all the officials expressed their inability to attend Wednesday's meeting, citing preoccupation with official business, knowledgeable sources said.

While the RBI top brass is busy with post-demonetisation work, finance ministry officials are snowed under with Budget-related work.

The Standing Committee on Finance has now rescheduled the meeting for January 18.

It remains to be seen if the parliamentary panel would be able to hold its meeting even on the next date.
18:27   Minor fire on Navy warship INS Pralaya, no injuries
A minor fire was reported on board Navy warship INS Pralaya at Naval Dockyard in Mumbai on Tuesday afternoon.

The fire was reported in the gyro compartment and was extinguished immediately, a defence spokesperson said.

There were no reports of any injury, the spokesperson added.
18:23   In 2015, Trump praised Streep as 'excellent'
Donald Trump may now regard Meryl Streep as "overrated" but just over a year ago the President-elect had named her among his favourite actresses and had hailed her as "excellent".
Streep, an ardent supporter of Trump's rival Hillary Clinton, slammed the next US President in her scathing speech while accepting the Cecil B DeMille Award at the Golden Globes yesterday.
The three-time Oscar winner took swipes at Trump's divisive rhetoric without naming him as she cautioned against powerful people using their position to "bully others".
Responding to Streep's comments, Trump tweeted, "Meryl Streep, one of the most overrated actresses in Hollywood, doesn't know me but attacked last night at the Golden Globes. She is a Hillary flunky who lost big."
Trump's critical remarks were in sharp contrast to the comments he made in 2015.
Asked during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter if there were any actresses in particular he loved, Trump answered, "Julia Roberts is terrific, and many others. Meryl Streep is excellent; she's a fine person, too."
"The problem is I'll name three or four or five and then the hundred that I know will be insulted, and I don't mean to insult them," he had said.
During Streep's speech yesterday, the actress called out Trump's recent "performance," referring to the moment when the president-elect mocked The New York Times' Serge Kovaleski, a disabled reporter.
18:15   10 injured as toy train derails near Darjeeling
At least 10 persons, including the driver, were injured today when the engine and two coaches of a toy train derailed in Darjeeling district.

The toy train was going from Darjeeling to Siliguri when the accident occurred between Kurseong and Mahanadi at around 3.25 pm, North East Frontier Railway officials said in Guwahati. 

T Bhutia, director of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway that runs the toy train service, said in Darjeeling that 10 persons including the driver were injured in the accident and all of them have been admitted to Kurseong hospital.

Rest of the passengers were sent to their destination by road from Kurseong, which is around 32 km from Darjeeling town. 

The wheels of the diesel engine jumped the tracks while passing a turn near Paglajhora and two coaches also derailed thereafter, Bhutia said. 

Railway engineers reached the spot to ascertain the cause of the accident, he said.
18:10   PropTiger, to merge; new entity to raise $55 mn
In a major consolidation, and will merge to create India's largest online real estate services company that will raise $55 million for business expansion.
News Corp-backed and SoftBank-backed today said they will "come together to become India's largest online real estate services company".
As part of the deal, Australia's REA Group Ltd will invest $50 million in the joint entity, while an affiliate of SoftBank Group Corp will invest $5 million. 
Co-founder and CEO of PropTiger Dhruv Agarwala will serve as CEO of the new entity, while Jason Kothari, CEO of, will quit to pursue other opportunities in the Indian Internet space, a joint statement said.
"It's a merger deal. Shareholders of and will be the shareholders in the new entity", Agarwala told PTI.
"We will be using all the three brands --, and to offer full range of online and offline real estate solutions for the home buyers," he added. 

The $55 million fund would be utilised for business development including new products, technologies and branding, Agarwala said.
17:53   Jessica murder case: HC grants parole to Manu Sharma
Delhi high court on Tuesday granted 18-day parole to Manu Sharma, who is undergoing life term for killing model Jessica Lall in 1999, to pursue his LLB course and get his marriage registered. 

Justice A K Pathak allowed Sharma to remain on parole till January 31, after he urged the court that he has to attend his Personal Contact Programme in connection with LLB course he is pursuing and re-establish social ties.

"Keeping in view that petitioner (Sharma) has been granted parole by this court earlier also, the court is inclined to give him the relief till January 31," the court said.

Sharma had moved the high court through his counsel Amit Sahni, seeking direction to the Delhi government to decide his plea for extension of parole for one month.

The Delhi government on December 27 last year had granted two weeks parole to Sharma to enable him appear for LLB second semester exams from December 31, 2016 onwards. 

His parole is ending on January 12. 
17:49   Government declares Pongal as 'compulsory' holiday
Revoking its earlier order, the Centre has declared Pongal as compulsory holiday for central government employees in Tamil Nadu.

Earlier, Centre's decision to remove Pongal from its list of compulsory holidays to optional holidays triggered sharp reactions from all political parties in the state. 

While AIADMK general secretary V K Sasikala had expressed her shock over the decision, the DMK announced an agitation against the Centre's move.
17:28   Arjun Rampal to campaign for BJP in all five poll-bound states
Bollywood actor Arjun Rampal today met senior BJP leaders at the party headquarters in New Delhi and is expected to campaign for it in assembly elections in five states.

Actor Jackie Shroff is also likely to campaign for the party. Rampal, a model turned actor, met the party general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya and later heaped praise on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying he was impressed with the work of his government and wanted to work for the party. Vijayvargiya said Rampal can campaign in assembly elections.

Asked if he will join the party, the BJP leader said it could be possible. Party sources said Shroff may also campaign for them.

File pic
17:25   Twin explosions in Kabul
Reports of twin explosions in Kabul. Afghanistan news agency TOLO News says the explosion took place along Darulaman Road close to the American University and Noor hospital. Casualties feared, reports TOLO.
17:12   Trump's attorney general pick was deemed too racist to be a judge
Donald Trump is poised to appoint a man as his Attorney General who has been dogged by claims of racism and bigotry throughout his career.

The President-elect has already named Steve Bannon, who is hailed by white supremacists, and Michael Flynn, who has backed some of the US's most notorious anti-Muslim activists, to his transition team. Read more
17:00   Assume Kejriwal is your CM, Sisodia tells Punjab voters
Dropping a hint that AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal may be the party's chief ministerial candidate in Punjab, Delhi's Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia told voters of the state to vote "assuming Kejriwal is your chief minister".

Addressing a rally in Mohali, Sisodia said, "Your vote should be in the name of Kejriwal. Assume he is your CM candidate and vote for him."

The statement triggered speculations in political circle as whether Kejriwal is planning to shift to Punjab, quitting Delhi once again. The Aam Aadmi Party, which won four Lok Sabha seats in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, was seen as a major alternative force to Congress and Akali Dal for the voters.

Kejriwal had, earlier, ruled out contesting elections from Punjab. In an interesting twitter war with Congress leader Captain Amarinder Singh, Kejriwal had asked him is he is looking for a safe seat.

To this Singh dared Kejriwal to contest against him. But Kejriwal stepped back.The Assembly elections for 117 seats will be held in single phase on February 4. The results of the elections will be announced on 11 March.
16:51   'Irreversible loss' to Kashmir students due to unrest: Report
The education sector has been badly hit in Kashmir Valley during the five-month-long unrest, causing "irreversible loss" to students, the Economic Survey Report has said.

"Due to the closure of schools, the academic session got badly hit to the extent that it caused irreversible loss of study and tuitions to the students. The exams conducted by J&K Board of Secondary Education for 10th and 12th standard students covered only 50 per cent of the total syllabus.

"However, an option has been given to the students to appear in March (for 100 per cent syllabus coverage) also," according to the Economic Survey Report, 2016, tabled in the Assembly today. It said 31 school buildings were gutted -- 17 fully and 14 partially -- during the five-month-long unrest following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter, whereas 15 school buildings were saved by employees of education department and local community from being burnt.
Just in: Muslim girls at Swiss schools must take mixed swimming classes says Europe court.
15:44   Pak test-fires nuclear-capable cruise missile from submarine
The Pakistani army has successfully test-fired a nuclear-capable cruise missile from a submarine for the first time, less than a month after India launched its Agni-V missile.

Inter-Services Public Relations, the media wing of Pakistan's military, says its missile, the Babur-3, will help bolster the country's defenses as its neighbors develop their own technology.

ISPR called the test "a manifestation of the strategy of measured response to nuclear strategies and postures being adopted in Pakistan's neighborhood," which could be read as a veiled reference to India.
15:27   Who rides SP's cycle? EC verdict on Jan 13
Election Commission hearing on Samajwadi Party symbol issue will be decided on January 13.

The Mulayam Singh Yadav and the Akhilesh Yadav faction have both staked claim over the party symbol, the cycle.

Mulayam's son and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his team met the EC as did Mulayam, Amar Singh and his team.

The Samajwadi Party patriarch had made it clear Sunday that he was still the party chief. "I am the national president of Samajwadi Party and Akhilesh Yadav is the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. Shivpal Yadav is still the president of Samajwadi Party's Uttar Pradesh unit," he said.

The SP supremo also came down heavily on Ram Gopal saying he had no right to call the January 1 convention which "selected' Akhilesh as the leader of the party.

"Ramgopal Yadav was expelled from the party for six years on 30 December, 2016. Therefore the party's national convention called by him on 1 January, 2017 was illegal,' Mulayam said.
FIFA Council unanimously vote to expand WorldCup to a 48-team format from 2026.
15:13   TN CM to declare ALL districts in state drought-hit
BREAKING: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam to declare all districts in the state drought-hit. Farmers property tax to be waived. A compensation of Rs 5465 per acre will be given to farmers who suffered paddy crop loss. Details awaited.

With increasing numbers of farmer deaths and in the backdrop of monsoon failure in Tamil Nadu, opposition DMK had urged the state government to implement relief measures on 'war-footing' and take steps to prevent further fatalities of ryots.

Without naming anybody, he took exception to some ministers' remarks that not all of the farmers' deaths can be attributed to drought, pointing out at the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issuing notice to the state on the death of 106 farmers.

Stalin, also the Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly, urged Chief Minister O Panneerselvam to ensure that his ministers did not make such comments, as these "belittle" the deceased farmers.

Representational image
14:49   Puducherry govt told me to be mere figurehead: Kiran Bedi
In signs of widening rift with Congress government in Puducherry, Lt Governor Kiran Bedi today said that it wants her to be just a "figurehead" though the rules assign her responsibilities of an administrator and made it clear she won't back down.

Sticking to her announcement about quitting the post on May 29 next year, Bedi said she took the decision as she is discharging her duties for a "cause and not a tenure" and will "set in motion the needed practices" so a "third year may not be needed at all".

"It (L-G's role) is of an administrator. And a functioning Lt Governor. Not a figurehead, as they (Congress government) want me to be. For they said so in their last meeting. I told them please read my responsibilities as specified as an administrator," she told PTI in an interview.

Amid growing differences between her and the Congress government in Puducherry, Bedi had last week said she would quit the post on completion of two years in office.

Asked what prompted her to make the announcement well in advance, Bedi noted she took oath as L-G on May 29 (last year) as it is her mother's birthday, and said she decided to give this responsibility a similar departure date.

"I said two years because I wanted to let it be known that I am here (as L-G of Puducherry) for a cause and not a tenure, or waiting for extensions. "I will set in motion the needed practices. Third year may not be needed at all. Such a decision gives a sense of urgency to my team and personal freedom to me," she said. Referring to Puducherry being "in a debt trap", Bedi said she will take necessary steps for financial prudence.

"Whatever is within my responsibility I shall exercise with maximum financial prudence. Precious resources must go where they are needed most. "Puducherry is in a debt trap. We have to check its further decline," said Bedi, who was here to attend the valedictory ceremony of the 35th All India Police Equestrian Championship as chief guest.

Image: Kiran Bedi with Home minister Rajnath Singh
14:32   Doctor halts surgery to film cockroach in Thane hospitals operation theatre
A 45-year-old man's leg surgery at one of Thane's biggest super-specialty hospitals was briefly halted after doctors sighted a cockroach moving around in the operating theatre. 

Senior orthopaedic surgeon Dr Sanjay Baranwal, who was performing the procedure at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Hospital last Friday, recorded the crawler's infiltration so he could finally draw the administration's attention to the poor, and potentially dangerous, conditions in which patients are being treated.

Dr Baranwal had made several complaints about the pest problem last month, but little was done to properly clean and disinfect key facilities such as operation rooms at the Kalwa hospital, which is run by the Thane Municipal Corporation. 

Read full story HERE
13:42   Kardashian's chauffeur among 17 arrested by French police over hotel jewel heist
French police investigating the theft of nearly $10 million in jewels from Kim Kardashian arrested 17 people on Monday, including a chauffeur who drove the American reality television star around Paris in the days before the robbery. Many of those arrested in co-ordinated police raids in several different parts of France were known underworld figures aged around 50 and at least three were women, police and judicial sources told the Independent.
13:35   Goodbye, Om Puri
Acting legend Om Puri passed into the ages on January 6 at his residence in Mumbai. His prayer service, was conducted by former wife Seema Kapoor as well as his estranged wife Nandita Puri, at two locations. While Seema held the prayer service at a gurudwara in Four Bungalows (in Andheri, a western suburb of Mumbai), Nandita organised it at the ISKCON temple in Juhu, just a few kilometers away, and it was attended by several of Om's friends from the film fraternity. Here's who attended.
13:27   EC orders all photos of netas in 5 poll-bound states be removed
Election Commission instructs Chief Electoral Officers of 5 poll bound states that photos of political leaders in all hoardings, advertisements should be removed or covered.

Congress on Monday had moved the Election Commission demanding removal of Prime Minister Narendra Modis photograph from government posters at public places, including petrol pumps, ahead of assembly polls in five states.

AICC secretary and head of legal and human rights department, K.C. Mittal, raised strong objection to presence of Modis photograph in posters of oil companies put up to popularise cooking gas distribution initiative.

He said the EC should order removal of such posters as they are not permissible during the operation of Model Code of Conduct (MCC) in wake of assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur.

Former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin files nomination for Hyderabad cricket Association's President's post.
13:09   Auto sales at 16-yr low in Dec as demonetisation takes toll
Monthly automobile sales growth rate in India slipped to a 16-year-low in December with total vehicle sales declining by 18.66 per cent as demonetisation hits the industry hard.

According to latest SIAM data, most of the major segments, including scooters, motorcycles and cars, witnessed record decline December sales as the automobile sector continued to bear the brunt of negative consumer sentiments in the wake of the ban of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes announced in November. Vehicle sales across categories registered a decline of 18.66 per cent last month at 12,21,929 units, from 15,02,314 units in December 2015, as per Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).
12:49   Jolie, Pitt reach agreement to handle divorce privately
Former star couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have decided to handle their divorce privately and work together to reunify their family.

The actors have released a joint statement stating that they have reached an agreement to handle their divorce in a private forum and will keep future details of their divorce confidential by utilising a private judge, reported People magazine.

"The parties and their counsel have signed agreements to preserve the privacy rights of their children and family by keeping all court documents confidential and engaging a private judge to make any necessary legal decisions and to facilitate the expeditious resolution of any remaining issues.

"The parents are committed to act as a united front to effectuate recovery and reunification," the statement reads.

Since the beginning of their divorce proceedings, Pitt, 53, and Jolie, 41, had been trading harsh accusations in filings in Los Angeles Superior Court, but recently both agreed to seal sensitive records relating to their six children.

Pitt and Jolie, who are parents to Maddox, 15, Pax, 13, Zahara, 11, Shiloh, 10, and twins Knox and Vivienne, eight -- have a voluntary temporary custody agreement in place that allows the actor supervised visitation with the children.
12:26   Post note ban, Rs 25,000 crore deposited in cash in dormant bank accounts
Following demonetisation, the government today released some figures.
Here are some of the important figures:

--Rs 3-4 lakh crore of evaded income deposited in banks post demonetisation

-- More than Rs 2 lakh deposited in over 60 lakh bank accounts post demonetisation

-- I-T Dept, ED looking into over Rs 16,000 crore deposited in different accounts of cooperative banks

-- Rs 25,000 crore deposited in cash in dormant bank accounts post demonetisation

-- Nearly Rs 80,000 crore of repayment of loans done in cash post demonetisation

-- More than Rs 10,700 crore cash deposited in different bank accounts in North Eastern states since November 9
12:09   Rahul returns after foreign holiday, will meet party leaders today
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who was on a foreign holiday over the first week of the new year, is back in the national capital, news agency ANI reported. Gandhi, who is reported to have arrived in the country Monday night, will be meeting party leaders later today.

On December 31, Gandhi's official Twitter handle @OfficeOfRG had tweeted that he would be travelling 'over the next few days' although it wasn't clear where he was going. The Congress leader is known to go for short holidays during the new year.

Gandhis departure from the country came at a critical time when five states, including the politically crucial Hindi heartland of Uttar Pradesh, is scheduled to go to polls from February 4.
12:00   AI hits back at criticism with Amartya's letter
A day after Air India was listed as the third worst performing airline in the world in a recent survey by flight data firm FlightStats, the national carrier has responded with indignation. "We totally disagree with the report published by FlightStats about AI. Initially it seems that the report is fabricated so AI managment will investigate the report till the end," a statement by Dhananjay Kumar, Spokesperson, AI said.

For further proof, AI also tweeted this thank you note by none other than Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen. @airindiain tweeted: #AI is honoured with the words of appreciation from #Noble Laureate #AmartyaSen for travel on #AI111. Hope to see you on board again.
11:48   Tellis tipped to be next US envoy to India
Mumbai-born strategic expert Ashley J Tellis, who had played an important role in the inking of the India-US nuclear deal nearly a decade back, could be US president-elect Donald Trump's nominee to be the next US ambassador to India, The Washington Post reported on Monday.

The report said: "Transition sources said Trump is close to selecting Ashley Tellis, a former White House official and renowned India expert, to be the next US ambassador to India."

The report said the appointment would be part of Trump administration's focus on Asia, and a more hawkish line on China that would see the US forge stronger alliances with its partners in the region.

In case Tellis becomes the next occupant of the Roosevelt House in New Delhi's Chanakyapuri, he would be succeeding Richard Verma, also an Indian-American.

On Sunday night, Verma, the 25th US ambassador to India, tweeted after a meeting with actor Amitabh Bachchan that he would depart on January 20, the day of Trump's inauguration as the next US president.

Tellis is currently a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington-based think tank. He is also known to have been a supporter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's efforts at strengthening India-US relations, and had met the PM when the think tank opened its India chapter in April 2016.

Tellis is well-known among India's foreign policy leaders, including foreign secretary S Jaishankar. The two had played important roles in negotiating the India-US nuclear deal.

According to his profile on the Carnegie Endowment website, Tellis has served as senior advisor to US ambassador Robert Blackwill and has been National Security Council special assistant to the US president.

Archis Mohan/Business Standard

Read our 2016 interview with Ashley Tellis here.
Also read the 2015 interview with Tellis here.

Also read:
11:34   Bhai-Bhai again? BJP to join Nitish's human chain
Friends turn foe, opposition turns into support; all this is possible in politics. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's proposed formation of the world's longest human chain on January 21 in support of prohibition in the state has received support from an unexpected quarter -- the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Read the report on
11:24   BSF jawan whose 'look what we eat' video went viral, has been shifted
The Border Security Force jawan, who posted a video alleging poor quality of food given to them, has been shifted from the Line of Control to the headquarters of his 29 battalion in Poonch.

Deployed along the Indo-Pak border in Jammu and Kashmir, the jawan says that troops are facing cruelty as they are served bad quality food and even have to go on an empty stomach at times.

This prompted Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to order appropriate action.

I have seen a video regarding a BSF jawans plight. I have asked the HS (home secretary) to immediately seek a report from the BSF & take appropriate action, Singh tweeted.

In at least three different videos clocking over four minutes released online, constable T B Yadav, 40, of BSF's 29th battalion also goes on to show the food that is allegedly being served to him.

We only get a paratha and tea as breakfast and this is without any pickle or vegetables... we slog for 11 hours and at times we have to stand throughout the duty hours. For lunch, we get daal (pulses) which only has haldi (turmeric) and salt... with roti. This is the quality of the food we get ... how can a jawan do his duty? I request the Prime Minister to get this probed.

... No one shows our plight, Yadav alleged, adding, It is cruelty and injustice against us.

He said he may not be here hinting action might be taken against him  for shooting and uploading the video a s he urged people to take the issue forward so that corrective action is taken.

The BSF took cognisance of the video and tweeted from its official handle that an inquiry has been ordered.

(The) BSF is highly sensitive to the welfare of tps (troops). Individual aberrations, if any, are enquired into. A senior officer has already rchd (reached) the location, the force tweeted after tagging the video.

A senior BSF official said Yadav is currently deployed along the Line of Control in J&K and the BSF jawans here work under the operational command of the army which also provides for food and other logistics of the jawans.

However, administrative tasks like cooking are done by the BSF.

11:15   Air India disagrees with report card
National passenger carrier Air India on Monday said that it disagrees with a report published by data services company FlightStats which has ranked the airline as the third worst global performer in terms of on-time operations in 2016.

"We totally disagree with the report published by FlightStats about AI," Air India's spokesperson Dhananjay Kumar was quoted as saying in a statement. According to the website, the FlightStats OPS Awards recognises airlines around the world that deliver the highest percentage of flights to their arrival gates within 15 minutes of the scheduled arrival time.

In contrast, low-cost carrier IndiGo reported that it has been recognised as one of the leading "On-Time Performers" in the Asia-Pacific region by FlightStats in its 8th Annual Airline On-Time Performance Service Awards, January 2017. IndiGo has been recognised among major carriers including Japan Airlines, Virgin Australia, Qantas, Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Jetstar and Jet Airways (India).
Just in: Mulayam Singh Yadav meets Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow.
Police picket attacked by unknown assailants last night in Delhi's Vasant Kunj; 2 Policemen injured.
10:37   Budget: Govt to seek AG's opinion
Rajeev Sharma tells us:  The Modi government is likely to seek Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi's legal opinion on the controversy about the presentation of the Union Budget on February 1, three days before the voting process for five state assemblies begins.

The AG will be asked to give his considered opinion on whether the Union government is well within its rights to choose a date for presentation of the Budget irrespective of external factors like the assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur.

The Congress party has petitioned the Election Commission and President Pranab Mukherjee seeking a directive to the Modi government to present the Budget only after the poll process is over with the counting of votes on March 11.

The Congress party's argument is that presentation of the Budget before the voting process would influence voters and would thus be violative of the Election Commission's Model Code of Conduct.

The Modi government's move to seek the AG's opinion on the controversial issue is to prepare itself for a legal haul as Opposition parties have already knocked at the Supreme Court's doors in this context.
10:23   Don't make Chidambaram's man Shaktikanta Das SEBI Chief, Swamy urges PM
After training guns on former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan and Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy on Tuesday targeted the Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to appoint him as Securities and Exchange Board of India chief. Swamy has written a letter to Prime Minister Modi asking him that the Das should not be made the SEBI chief alleging that he is corrupt and working for former union finance minister P Chidambaram. Earlier, Swamy had alleged Das of sitting idle to tackle the currency crunch post demonetisation.

Image: Shaktikanta Das with RBI governor Urjit Patel
10:10   EC serves showcause notice to Sakshi Maharaj for population control remark
The Election Commission serves a showcause notice to BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj for his population control remarks. The EC said the MP violated the model code of conduct and has demanded a reply from him by tomorrow.

The Chief Electoral Officer of Uttar Pradesh had sought a report from the district administration on the allegedly communal remarks that the BJP MP from Unnao, Sakshi Maharaj, made at a religious event in Meerut on Friday. Besides, the Meerut Police has lodged an FIR against the MP on charges of promoting enmity between groups on grounds of religion and caste.

Speaking at a gathering of holy men in Meerut, Sakshi Maharaj had said, Desh mein samasyaein khadi ho rahi hain jansankhya ke karan. Uske liye Hindu zimmedar nahin hain Zimmedar toh wo hain jo chaar biwion aur chalees bachchon ki baatein karte hain. (There are problems in the country because of the growth of population. Hindus are not responsible for that. Those responsible are the ones who talk of four wives and 40 children.) He also said that the money earned from cattle slaughter was being used to fund terrorism.
09:56   The backlash that worked...
Facing a severe backlash for appointing scam-tainted Suresh Kalmadi and Abhay Singh Chautala as life presidents, the Indian Olympic Association has been forced to revoke its controversial decision.

A top IOA official confirmed that the appointments of Kalmadi and Chautala has been declared "null and void" in order to get the recognition of the Sports Ministry and also to avoid any possible action from the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Kalmadi and Chautala were elevated to the honorary position at the IOA's Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Chennai on December 27, but the Olympic body was forced to reverse its decision after it was opposed by a majority of IOA members.
09:46   Obama to make final Air Force One trip to hometown Chicago
Outgoing US President Barack Obama will make a final ride on Air Force One to his hometown of Chicago to deliver a major speech at the end of his successful eight years of presidency, a top American official has said.

This is also likely to be Obama's final out of town-travel as the 44th President of the US before he would pass on the baton to Donald Trump at a swearing in ceremony on January 20.
09:11   Government advised RBI of note ban day before PM's announcement
Contradicting the Modi government, which had asserted that the Reserve Bank of India recommended a ban on Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, the central bank has said that it was the government which advised it to do so, as late as November 7, the day before the note ban was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

According to a report in The Indian Express, in a submission to a Parliamentary panel late in December, the RBI in a 7-page note said that, "Government, on 7th November, 2016, advised the Reserve Bank that to mitigate the triple problems of counterfeiting, terrorist financing and black money, the Central Board of the Reserve Bank may consider withdrawal of the legal tender status of the notes in high denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000."

Backing the government's move, the note added that, "Elimination of black money will eliminate the long shadow of the ghost economy and will be positive for India's growth outlook."

The RBI Central Board met the very next day (ie November 8) to "consider the government's advice," and after "deliberations," decided to recommend to the central government that the legal tender status of the banknotes in the high denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 be withdrawn, said the note.

Union Minister for Power Piyush Goyal had however claimed on November 16 during a debate on demonetisation in Parliament that the RBI Board of Directors had taken the decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes.
JUST IN: IOA annuls decision of Abhay Chautala & Suresh Kalmadi's appointment as life presidents
08:51   He's a mama's boy!
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is in his home state Gujarat, tweeted Tuesday that he skipped yoga, went to meet his mother and had breakfast with her before dawn.

The PMs 97-year-old mother, Hiraba resides with his younger brother Pankaj Modi on the outskirts of Gandhinagar. PM Modi visits his mother on his birthdays and whenever he is in Gandhinagar. He had last visited his mother in December, 2016 when he was in Gujarat for a day. He had then addressed a rally in Deesa in Banaskantha district and held party meetings.

This time, the PM was in the state capital to inaugurate Indias first international exchange at GIFT city. The exchange, known as India INX, is located in the International Financial Service City in Gift city. It claims to be one of the most advanced technological platforms operating for 22 hours a day.
JUST IN: Terrorist gunned down during encounter in J-K's Hajin area of Bandipora
08:23   Hotline between PMO and White House to continue post Jan 20
The hotline established in 2015 between US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will continue to exist after the outgoing US President hands over the baton to his successor Donald Trump on January 20, a presidential aide has suggested.

It is the only new hotline that was established during the eight years of Obama Administration, reflecting on deepening of India-US ties.

"I'd be surprised if that was something that was discontinued," said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest. "Typically, those kinds of arrangements are intended to persist beyond just one presidential term," he said in response to a question. 

The decision to establish the hotline was finalised during Obama's historic visit to India in 2015 to attend the annual Republic Day parade on January 26 as its chief guest.

Modi had then said the effort was part of their exercise to give the critical partnership between two countries "a new thrust and sustained attention."
07:55   In a first, Arab soldiers to march on Delhi streets
A marching band from the UAE's defence forces will join the parade on Republic Day, the first time Arab soldiers will be marching in New Delhi.

After the French marching band joined the parade in 2016 in honour of Francois Hollande, the practice has caught the fancy of others as well. 

With UAE crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan preparing to be the chief guest this year, the visiting dignitary who is also the deputy supreme commander of the armed forces, will bring a contingent to match the music and rhythm of India's numerous military bands who put up a spectacular show on that day.
07:19   Yahoo to change name to Altaba, turn into investment company
Yahoo, or what is left of yesteryear's internet giant once the $4.8 billion sale to Verizon is completed, will be renamed as Altaba, the company has said in a filing to SEC, various reports have said.   

Business Insider reports that along with the name change, the tech company will also have a new board of directors, but current CEO Marissa Meyer will not be on it despite having expressed her interest to stay on.   

'In its filing to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday, Yahoo also explained that following the closing of the purchase by Verizon, Altaba will be required to register and be regulated as an investment company under the Investment Company Act of 1940,' Business Insider has reported.  

Yahoo's acquisition by Verizon is expected to be closed in the first quarter of 2017.
07:10   Another cop shot dead in US, this time in Orlando
Orlando police officer Sergeant Debra Clayton, a mother of two, was shot dead by a suspected murderer on Monday night, the latest in the series of attacks on the police force in the United States.   

The killing triggered off a manhunt for the suspect, in which a sheriff was killed in a motorcycle crash, reports said.   

Debra Clayton was trying to attempt a murder suspect when she was gunned down.    
00:12   As UN orders probe, 140 Indian soldiers to be given cholera vaccination in Haiti
Nearly 140 Indian soldiers, who are part of United Nations peace-keeping force in Haiti, will be administered cholera vaccine after the UN reportedly ordered a probe on how they had landed in the Caribbean country without the mandatory vaccination.

Haiti has been grappling with a cholera outbreak and the UN has been part of massive effort to contain the disease. The Indian soldiers had landed in Haiti in August last year and reportedly India had certified that they were administered the cholera vaccine.

"The India soldiers will be administered the cholera vaccine tomorrow," a government source said, adding there was some communication on the issue from the UN.

The source said the cost of vaccination will be deducted from the fund allocated by the UN for Indian peacekeepers.

Previous UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last month had apologised to the people of Haiti for the role played by the UN peacekeepers in sparking the cholera epidemic in the country.

According to several experts, cholera was introduced to Haiti by infected Nepalese UN peacekeepers sent to the Caribbean country after the massive 2010 earthquake. -- PTI

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