Sun, 15 January 2017
France backs India's bid on Masood Azhar

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21:47   PM saddened over WB stampede deaths, sanctions Rs 2 lakh for deceased
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed sadness over the loss of lives in West Bengal stampede and sanctioned Rs 2 lakh for next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for those injured.

"Saddened by the loss of lives caused by a stampede in West Bengal. My thoughts are with the families of the deceased," the PM tweeted.

"My prayers with those injured in the stampede in West Bengal. May they recover quickly," he added.

He approved ex-gratia from PM National Relief Fund of Rs 2 lakh for next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for those injured in the stampede.
20:58   France backs India's bid on Masood Azhar
Days after China blocked India's proposal in the UN, the world body's key member France has pitched for designating Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar as an international terrorist, saying there are "very strong arguments in favour" of such a move.

French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who was on a four-day India visit, also sent out a veiled message to China without naming it, saying "the international community's determination to combat terrorism must be the same everywhere, regardless of the threat."

Pointing out that Azhar's outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad "is already included in the (Sanctions) Committee's list of terrorist organisations", he said, "therefore, there are very strong arguments in favour of listing its chief, as India has requested".
20:24   EC may give order on SP symbol dispute tomorrow
The Election Commission is likely to give tomorrow an interim order on the dispute in the ruling Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, with the option of freezing the symbol 'cycle' most likely to be exercised.

The three-member EC, headed by Nasim Zaidi, heard both the sides on Friday and reserved its order. The order is most likely to be delivered tomorrow, a day ahead of the start of filing of nominations for the first phase of election in UP which will have seven phases in all.
19:55   Amazon, better behave. Indifference will be at your own peril: Shaktikanta Das
Shantikanta Das, the secretary of the Department of Economic Affairs in a tweet, warned Amazon about the use of Indian icons in their products. He wrote, "Amazon,better behave. Desist from being flippant about Indian symbols & icons. Indifference will be at your own peril."

He later said that the tweet was 'as as a citizen of India; nothing more should be read into it'. 

Earlier, after facing flak for selling doormats with the image of the Indian Tricolour, the e-commerce giant was once again in the firing line for selling chappals with the image of Mahatma Gandhi. 
19:10   Jaitley looks to break deadlock at GST meeting tomorrow
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will tomorrow look to break the deadlock over distribution of powers between centre and states to administer GST, an issue that is holding up launch of the new national sales tax from April.

The all-powerful GST Council, headed by Jaitley, will meet for the ninth time tomorrow with the issue of who gets to administer the Goods and Services Tax being the single biggest issue on agenda.

The council has been deadlocked in the last four meetings, the last one being on January 4, with states seeking sole powers to control assessee with annual turnover of up to Rs 1.5 crore.

Centre, however, is not in favour of a horizontal split as it feels states do not have the expertise to administer levies like service tax.

Jaitley is also not favour of dual agencies auditing and scrutinising each taxpayer as he reckons multiple authorities could end up acting at cross-purposes.

Jaitley had last week hoped to resolve the pending issues to get the new indirect tax regime rolling from April 1.

"Most of the issues have been sorted out, some critical issues remain and these critical issues over the next few weeks we will try and solve out," he said last week. "We would want it to be implemented from April if all issues are resolved."
JUST IN: Stampede at West Bengal's Gangasagar fair, 6 dead. 

More details awaited
18:35   Amid SP feud, Amar Singh to leave for London
Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh, who has been blamed for the conflict between Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his father Mulayam Singh Yadav, on Sunday said that he would be returning to London for his treatment.

"I was undergoing treatment in London, but was summoned due to the developments here. Now, I will be going back to complete my treatment," Singh said. 

He further said that he would be returning towards the end of March.

Asserting that he is willing to resign to keep Mulayam Singh Yadav's family united, the Samajwadi Party leader had earlier rubbished allegations that he was responsible for the ongoing political tussle in the party.

Attempting a truce between Akhilesh and his father Mulayam, he said, "I am folding my hands. What do you want?"

Reaching out to Akhilesh, he said, "I'm folding my hands. What else do you want?""If he is the son of Mulayam Singh ji then he is also like my son. Mulayam Singh is his biological father and since the age of four, he has been living with Shivpal Yadav ji."

"For me he is not the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, not a big leader of the state ..he is the son of my big brother Mulayam Singh ji," he added.

Sources have also confirmed that Singh and Jaya Prada will not participate in any of the election campaigns in the wake of split within the Samajwadi Party.
18:12   Trump could ban journalists from the White House, says adviser
Donald Trump's incoming administration could evict the press corps from the White House, it has been reported, after one senior transition official described journalists as "the opposition party".

Reporters currently occupy a space inside the White House's West Wing, where the press secretary gives briefings and the President holds press conferences.

But advisers are weighing up arrangements in the James S Brady briefing room in the wake of coverage they view as hostile, Esquire reported.

One unnamed official reportedly told the magazine: "They are the opposition party. I want them out of the building. We are taking back the press room."

rump's press secretary Sean Spicer confirmed the transition team was "discussing" the situation, framing it as an opportunity to have more journalists at briefings.
17:34   US President Obama knows better than to complain about FLOTUS' outfits
Any husband worth his salt knows to avoid criticising his spouses outfits. Thats a rule US President Obama has clearly taken to heart. 

Read full story HERE

JUST IN: Encounter underway between security forces and terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir's Anantnag. 2-3 terrorists trapped.
17:12   Sasikala to be CM on January 29
Sasikala Natarajan will take over as Tamil Nadu chief minister on January 29, knowledgeable sources have disclosed. 

Why January 29? 

One, because it is an auspicious date and Sasikala, like the late J Jayalalithaa, is a stickler to religious beliefs and rituals. 

Two, the position of Surya will be firmly in Uttarayan (ascending Sun) from that date as January 27 is Amavasya.

AIADMK cadres have of late stepped up their clamour for Sasikala's elevation as chief minister as it has been the AIADMK's convention that the party leader is also the chief minister if the party happens to be in power.

-- Rajeev Sharma
16:43   Barkha Dutt quits NDTV after 21 years
Senior journalist Barkha Dutt has resigned as Consulting Editor of NDTV. According to reports, she is likely to start her own venture. In an official statement issued, NDTV appreciated her long-time association with the channel and wished her all the best for her future.

In 1995, Barkha Dutt joined NDTV straight out of college, and now, after 21 wonderful years together, Barkha has requested that she would like to explore some new opportunities, pursue other interests and work on her own ventures.

"In all her years with NDTV, she has been hugely productive and has grown with the organisation, becoming an acclaimed, award-winning journalist of repute across India and many parts of the world. We are certain that Barkha will go from strength to strength and NDTV wishes her all the very best, said the statement.
16:21   Aditya Thackeray's BMW collides with car
Head of Shiv Sena's youth wing Yuva Sena,Aditya Thackeray's BMW collided with another car in Kala Nagar Junction area of Mumbai.

Following the incident, the driver of the other car took responsibility for the collision.

No injuries were reported.
16:07   Trump to hold summit with Vladimir Putin 'within weeks'
Donald Trumps first foreign trip is to be a summit with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, in Iceland, according to reports.

In a move which is said to echo Ronald Reagans cold war deal-making meeting in Reykjavik with Mikhail Gorbachev in 1986, Trump and his team have reportedly told British officials that the summit will take place within weeks of Trump becoming president.

The Icelandic capital is thought to be the most likely place host the talks, as it did three decades ago, according to the Sunday Times.

The summit would be an attempt to rest reset western relations with the Kremlin, with the agenda for talks thought to include a deal limiting nuclear weapons. The news comes as Trump continues to face claims that Russia holds material which could be used to blackmail him. 
15:30   'Extremist outfits are not terror groups': Pakistan
Pakistan's interior minister has publicly and unwittingly acknowledged something the world has long known - Islamabad makes a distinction between 'good terrorists' and 'bad terrorists'. 

And the government is now facing a backlash from an aghast opposition for promoting this distinction, Pakistani media reported.

Last week, in the Pakistani Senate, interior minister Chaudhry Nisar said there should be a distinction made between banned terrorist outfits and banned sectarian organisations. The meaning of the former is self evident; the latter refers to extremist religious organisations.

Nisar's comments were no slip of the tongue, because yesterday, he went so far as to say there should be separate laws for the two groups.
15:03   Disrespect to Bapu will not be tolerated by Indians: Robert Vadra
Congress chief Sonia Gandhis son-in-law Robert Vadra on Sunday attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party over the recent Khadi icon row, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi replaced Mahatama Gandhi in the iconic picture of spinning the charkha, saying that the nation would not tolerate such disrespect to the Father of the Nation. 

Taking to Facebook, Vadra said in a post that Mahatma Gandhi, and his title is above every political party and deserves to be protected. Father of the Nation. That is the utmost respect given to a person, who fought all obstacles and sacrificed his life, to bring freedom and independence, to a country. I am truly shocked and deeply saddened to see the current government leaders have resorted to cheap and dirty politics, he said.

Asserting that dragging Mahatma Gandhi into senseless controversies is unacceptable and trying to grab his place as face of Khaadi is extremely demeaning, Vadra added that the recent development has hurt sentiments of millions of Bapus followers and admirers. 

I want to tell the BJP mantri, Anil Vij that the kind of statements you have made about the father of nation, are stupendously idiotic. He said, money started devaluing the day Mahatma Gandhis face was stuck to notes!! Such disrespect to Bapu will not be tolerated by Indians, the post read.
14:49   China the 'outlier' on India's NSG membership: US
The outgoing Obama administration has lashed out at China for blocking India from becoming a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group by describing the Communist giant as an "outlier" in its effort to bring New Delhi on board the elite grouping.

"Clearly there is one outlier that needs to be addressed and that is China," Nisha Desai Biswal, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, said.

The US statement comes a week ahead of the Obama Administration passing on the baton to the Trump Administration.

Officials say it is because of the Chinese resistance that India could not become a member of NSG, where all decisions are taken on the basis of consensus.
14:24   'Note ban debate similar to Indira era rich vs poor discourse'
Ruing that the debate on corruption against the backdrop of demonetisation is a throwback to "bad old days" of rich versus poor discourse under Indira Gandhi, CII President Naushad Forbes said wealth and dishonesty should be delinked and we should be respectful of "honest riches".

In an interview, he said the corruption debate post currency recall has turned into the 'rich versus poor' narrative.

"I think that's wrong. It should not be seen as a rich versus poor debate. It should be seen as a honest versus dishonest debate. And the honest-dishonest debate is not rich-poor," he said.
14:09   Army chief warns of action against soldiers using social media for complaints
Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said action will be taken against soldiers who are putting up their grievances in the social media instead of going through the regular channels.

Following the storm created by Tej Bahadur Yadav's viral video on Facebook on bad food served at the Line of Control by the Border Security Forces, several soldiers have put up videos on YouTube complaining about the problems they are facing in the army.

One of the soldiers had alleged that he was forced to "wash clothes, polish boots and walk dogs" for his seniors.

Following the string of complaints, Rawat said the army has its own grievance redressal system and defended the "Sahayak" or the buddy system, in which every officer has a buddy who does "odd jobs" for him.

The buddy, General Rawat said, "takes care of the officer and vice versa". "In peace stations, this buddy helps him with everything," he said at the Army Day press conference.
13:36   Sena likely to go solo in BMC polls
Shiv Sena is "likely" to go it alone in the upcoming city civic body polls, party sources said today, even as it formally begins talks on alliance with BJP tomorrow.

Leaders in both Sena and BJP feel that the parties will fare better if they contest on their own, and, if needed, they could go for a post-poll tie-up for the Asia's biggest civic body -- the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.

Sources in BJP also said that their party should be ready to go alone instead of yielding to the demands of Sena, which shares power with it at the Centre and in Maharashtra though the ties have been frosty since the 2014 assembly polls.
13:29   China gives Pakistan two ships for security of CPEC sea route
China yesterday handed over two maritime patrol vessels to the Pakistan Navy for joint security along the sea route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Dawn reported.

Yesterday, the Chinese vessels were received by the Commander of the Pakistan Navy Vice-Admiral Arifullah Hussaini. The ships are called PMSS Hingol and PMSS Basol after two rivers in the region.

"The ships have become part of the Pakistan Navy from today and the (Pakistan) navy would become stronger with the induction of these maritime vessels," Hussaini was quoted as saying by the Dawn. He added that the Pakistan-China friendship was becoming stronger and deeper than the ocean, day by day.

China is expected to provide two more ships "Dasht" and "Zhob" to the Pakistan navy. It is already working on them and they are expected to be completed soon.
JUST IN: Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband bans entry of politicians in its campus
13:17   Over 1,600 killed due to extreme weather patterns in 2016
More than 1,600 people died due to extreme weather conditions across the country last year, with severe heat wave claiming the largest chunk of the total deaths at 40 per cent, followed by flooding and lightning.

The IMD said 2016 was the warmest year ever recorded, globally as well as in India. Phalodi in Rajasthan recorded 51 degrees Celsius, highest ever recorded in the country.

January and February were the warmest winter months ever, according to IMD, which records weather patterns since 1901.

Bihar, Gujarat and Maharashtra topped the casualty list with the states contributing 35 per cent of the total. They together recorded 552 deaths due to extreme weather patterns.
12:45   Navjot Singh Sidhu joins Congress ahead of Punjab polls
Navjot Singh Sidhu joins the Congress. He will  contest the Punjab polls from the Amritsar East constituency. Sidhu joined the Congress after much speculation.  

In September last year, cricketer-turned-politician resigned from the BJP. Earlier, he quit his Rajya Sabha membership and had announced floating of a non-political platform, Awaz-e-Punjab.
12:40   Being an army kid makes you open-minded: Anushka
Anushka Sharma has often credited her father Colonel Ajay Kumar Sharma for her success and spoken about her upbringing. 

She has also spoken of the familys fears during the 1999 Kargil War, in which her father fought. 

On Army Day, thanking soldiers for their selfless service, she says she owes everything to the organisation.

"I wish to extend my heartiest congratulations and best wishes to all ranks and officers of the Indian Army, specially to all deployed in field areas. To the Indian Army, I owe my being, my persona and my outlook."

"Being an army kid has instilled great confidence in me because of the open, non gender-bias environment I was raised in."

"We become adaptive, open-minded and survivors."
JUST IN: Police registers case against owner of an amusement park and unknown others in Bihar boat tragedy. 
12:02   4-year-old gangraped, murdered in Bhayander, 3 accused arrested
A four-year-old girl was gang-raped and murdered in Bhayander, an area in the outskirts of Mumbai. The body of the child, who had gone missing from her home at Azad Nagar on January 9, was found partially buried in a swamp near her residence. 

A day after she went missing, her family filed a complaint with the police. Her body was finally spotted two days later by a passer-by. The police, who have arrested three of the four accused in the case, say the girl was offered sweets by the accused who then lured her to a secluded spot where three others were waiting and gang-raped her. 

A postmortem examination has confirmed the rape. The report also says she had been hit on the head. Police believe that the man, who is the main accused, was acquainted with the child's family. He and the others worked as labourers. Efforts are on to trace the fourth accused in the case.
11:17   Only purpose of intellect is to be a servant of social sympathies
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, on Saturday, quoted Cambridge economist Marjorie Eva Robinson by saying, the purpose of studying economics was to ensure that people are not deceived by a clever economist.

In a very famous economic handbook, the Cambridge economic handbook, the great economist Marjorie Robinson said in the preface, when we study economics what is the purpose? It is not to find settled answers to unsettled questions, but to warn us how not to be deceived by a clever economist, Singh said at the launch of the book, Evolution of Economic Ideas by Vinay Bharat Ram.

When we study economics, our impulse is not the philosophers impulse, knowledge for the sake of knowledge, but for the healing that knowledge may have to bring. It is for the heart to suggest our problems, it is for the intellect to solve them. The only purpose of intellect is to be a servant of social sympathies. That gives you one idea of what economics is all about, Singh said.

Singh, however, did not speak on any other issue. After the launch of the book, there was a panel discussion in which participants spoke on the state of the Indian economy under the Narendra Modi government and the impact of demonetisation. Singh, who has been a vocal critic of the move, declined to participate and sat in the audience.

-- Arup Roychoudhury/Business Standard
10:59   Amazon now sells slippers with Mahatma Gandhi's face
After getting rapped by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and 'expressing regret' for selling doormats featuring the image of the Indian flag on its Canadian website, e-commerce giant has now listed a new item: slippers with the face of Mahatma Gandhi.

The Gandhi slippers been sold by CafePress on costs $16.99 (Rs 1,190). The brand claims that their 'graphic flip flop sandal designs are professionally printed... and will look great and make someone smile,' CNN News 18 reported.

Just last week, the e-commerce site was slammed by Swaraj, who demanded Amazon to tender an unconditional apology and take down all products disrespecting the Tricolour.
Army Chief General Bipin Rawat, Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa and Chief of Indian Navy Admiral Sunil Lanba pay homage at Amar Jawan Jyoti on Army Day. Photograph: ANI
10:22   Australia announces Test squad for India tour
Australia has announced a 16-man Test squad for their India tour.

The team: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Ashton Agar, Jackson Bird, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Stephen O'Keefe, Matthew Renshaw, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade.

Debutant leg-spinner Swepson gives Australia five different spin options alongside Agar, Maxwell, Lyon and O'Keefe, reported.

Australia and India will play 4 Tests for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. The series opener starts in Pune on February 23.
10:03   Tanzania's Simbu wins 2017 Mumbai Marathon
Alphonce Simbu of Tanzania won the 2017 Mumbai Marathon after edging out Kenya's Joshua Kipkorir in a thrilling finish, in Mumbai on Sunday.

Kenya's Bornes Kitur won the women's marathon.

Kheta Ram was the first Indian male elite athlete to cross the finish line in the full marathon, followed by Bahadur Singh and Sanjith respectively.
09:58   Monitoring Manmohan
Fresh files have surfaced showing Sonia Gandhi's displeasure over former PM Manmohan Singh's 'inability to push the Congress party's agenda in government'. Read more.
The International Spectator tweets:

'CHINA: State TV says it would take country's motorised troops 48 hours and its paratroops 10 hours to reach India's capital if war broke out'
09:16   Bihar boat tragedy: Toll rises to 24; PM announces ex gratia
Death toll in Bihar boat tragedy has risen to 24, while search and rescue operations by National Disaster Response Team are underway.

Earlier, in the morning, the NDRF DG had said that 21 bodies have been recovered. However, three more have been found since then.

"21 bodies have been recovered so far, search and rescue ops underway. Three NDRF teams are at the spot," R K Pachnanda, director general of the NDRF, had said.

Meanwhile, expressing grief at the tragedy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced ex gratia from PMNRF of Rs 2 lakh for the next of kin of those deceased and Rs 50,000 for the seriously injured

Congress president Sonia Gandhi also condoled loss of lives in the tragedy.

Criticising the state government for the mishap, Union minister Radha Mohan Singh said, "This is a failure of the state government, the arrangements were not proper." -- ANI

IMAGE: SDRF team recovers a passenger's body after a boat capsized in the Ganga river in Patna. Photograph: PTI Photo