Mon, 30 January 2017
Weakening Art 370 will be biggest anti-national act: Mehbooba

Timeline  Refresh

23:43   Weakening Art 370 will be biggest anti-national act: Mehbooba
In a clear message to ally Bharatiya Janata Party, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today said anybody weakening Article 370, which grants special status to the state, will be doing the 'biggest anti-national act' even as she contended that a 'conspiracy is being hatched against our culture and state' in this regard.

She also attacked those opposing setting up of colonies for Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley, saying that by doing so they do not want in their 'heart of hearts' the displaced people to return.

Speaking in the Legislative Assembly, she underlined that Pandits cannot go back to live in their original villages and other places in Kashmir in the prevailing security situation when even political workers and MLAs and MLCs are seeking a protective set-up.

On Article 370, Mehbooba, who is running a coalition government with BJP, said 'there are some forces within this country who think that by scrapping Article 370, the issue of Kashmir will be resolved and everything will be alright'.

BJP's stated position is that Article 370 should be scrapped for total integration of J&K with India. -- PTI
23:13   MNS says Sena gave no response to its alliance offer
Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena said this evening that Shiv Sena rejected its overtures for tie-up for the civic elections in Mumbai.

There was speculation about possible alliance between the estranged Thackeray cousins who parted ways over ten years ago after Shiv Senas talks for alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party fell through.

MNS leader Bala Nandgaonkar claimed this evening that Raj Thackeray made seven calls to his cousin and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray between January 22 and today, but the latter did not answer the calls or return them.

"I personally visited Uddhav Thackeray's residence yesterday with a message from Raj that our party is keen on alliance...there was no positive response to our proposal.

"We also said that MNS will be a junior partner of Shiv Sena in the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. We proposed that MNS would contest the seats where we had won (last time) and rest can be contested by Shiv Sena. But there was no positive response," said Nandgaonkar.

"The alliance, if happens, can easily stop BJP from becoming the single largest party in MCGM," he said. -- PTI
22:12   Hafiz Saeed put under house arrest: Pak media
Pakistani media reports that Jamaat ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed has been put under house arrest at the Qadisiyyah Mosque near Chouburji, Lahore.

Dunya News says that the JuD is most likely to be banned tonight and its leadership may also be arrested.

Talking on Dunya News program Nuqta-e-Nazar earlier today, senior analyst Mujib ur-Rehman Shami said that the new United States regime is quite tough on these organisations and the government might ban it too.

Read more.
22:04   Adityanth seeks Trump-like immigration order in India
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Yogi Adityanth today applauded United States President Donald Trump's controversial immigration order that bans travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries and stressed the need for such action in India to contain terrorism.

Addressing an election rally in Bulandshahr, he said, "Similar action is needed to contain terror activities in this country."

Trump has ordered 'extreme vetting' of people entering the US from seven Muslim-majority countries and banned the entry of Syrian refugees until further notice, as part of new measures to 'keep radical Islamic terrorists' out of America. -- PTI
20:54   Lamborghini among Rs 23cr assets declared by Mulayam's 2nd bahu, husband
Samajwadi Party patron Mulayam Singh Yadav's younger daughter-in-law Aparna Yadav, who on Monday filed nomination from Lucknow Cantonment assembly seat, and her husband Prateek Yadav own assets worth over Rs 23 crore, including a swanky Lamborghini car.

In the affidavit filed along with her nomination paper, Aparna has showed movable assets worth over Rs 3.27 crore while that of her husband over Rs 13.41 crore.

In 2015-16, Aparna and Prateek had filed income tax returns of over Rs 50.18 lakh and Rs 1.47 crore respectively.

While Aparna did not have any vehicle in her name, husband Prateek has Lamborghini worth over Rs 5.23 crore for which he had taken loan of Rs 4.5 crore from Union Bank of India last month.

Aparna has immovable asset of Rs 12.50 lakh with agricultural land and a building while Prateek has property worth Rs 6.15 crore.

As per the affidavit, loan and dues on Aparna is of about Rs 8.54 lakh while Prateek has Rs 8.7 crore loan, including Rs 81.50 lakh from step brother and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.

Aparna also has jewellery worth over Rs 1.88 crore.

Aparna's opponent and Congress turncoat Rita Bahuguna Joshi (BJP) and her husband have assets of over Rs 2.11 crore.

Both Joshi, sitting MLA from the Cantt seat, and her husband did not own a vehicle but she has jewellery to the tune of over Rs 3.25 lakh.

Joshi has filed Rs 10.49 lakh I-T return in 2015-16 while her husband's return was of Rs 3.94 lakh in the same period. -- PTI
20:13   Iraq Parliament votes for travel ban on US citizens
The Iraqi Parliament has voted to call on the government to enact a reciprocal travel ban on Americans if Washington does not withdraw its decision to restrict the entry of Iraqis.

The call is a response to United States President Donald Trump's executive order barring citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen from entering the US for at least 90 days.

Iraqi lawmakers called on the government to 'respond in kind to the American decision in the event that the American side does not withdraw its decision', agency reports say, quoting text of the decision that was read at the session.

Trump's decision led to the detention of incoming refugees at US airports, sparking protests, legal challenges and widespread condemnation from rights groups.

And it has led to a growing backlash inside Iraq that could undermine relations between Baghdad and the US amid the battle for Mosul, the largest military operation yet in the war against the Islamic State group. -- Agencies

IMAGE: An imam talks about a temporary travel ban signed by US President Donald Trump in an executive order during a protest in Dearborn, Michigan. Photograph: Rebecca Cook/Reuters
19:32   Starbucks vows to hire 10,000 refugees after Trump's ban
American coffeehouse chain Starbucks has promised to hire 10,000 refugees over five years in response to President Donald Trump's executive order temporarily barring refugees' access to the United States and banning entry for anyone from seven majority Muslim countries.

Starbucks' chief executive Howard Schultz said that he had 'deep concern' about the President's order and would be taking 'resolute' action, starting with offering jobs to refugees, reports the Guardian.

'We are developing plans to hire 10,000 of them over five years in the 75 countries around the world where Starbucks does business,' he told employees in a strongly-worded note.

He added that the move was to make clear that the company 'will neither stand by, nor stand silent, as the uncertainty around the new administration's actions grows with each passing day'.

Schultz said the initial focus would be in the US and for refugees who had served as interpreters for the US military, but it is not yet clear when the five-year period would begin, or whether people would be employed direct by Starbucks or by suppliers.

Technology firms were prominent among US businesses voicing concern at the executive order.

Earlier, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that as an immigrant himself, he would 'continue to advocate' on the issue.

On Sunday, the Google co-founder and Alphabet president, Sergey Brin, was photographed among people protesting at San Francisco airport over the immigration measures. -- ANI
19:01   EC may ask candidates to open current a/cs to bypass cash limit
With RBI easing the weekly cash withdrawal limits for certain accounts, the Election Commission is set to ask candidates contesting assembly polls in five states to open current accounts to tide over currency crunch in meeting election expenses. 

The central bank today announced lifting of daily restrictions on cash withdrawals from ATMs as well as current accounts.

The latest move comes close on the heels of the Election Commission expressing its displeasure to the RBI for rejecting the request to enhance the cash withdrawal limit for candidates to Rs 2 lakh per week. 

After the decision of the RBI, the Election Commission has decided to ask all candidates to open current accounts for meeting election expenses, sources said.

Such a move will help candidates to have enough hard currency as well as overcome problems faced with the existing Rs 24,000 per week cash limit set on savings accounts, the sources said.

Candidates are bound to open an election account for meeting poll-related expenditure which is monitored by the EC. Since there is no mention of any specific category of account that needs to be opened, candidates mostly opt for savings account.
18:59   Pak declines India invite to attend Speakers' Summit
Amidst chill in Indo-Pak ties, Pakistan has declined an invitation by Indian Parliament and Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) to attend South Asian Speakers' Summit to be held next month. 

"Pakistan and Myanmar which were among the countries in the South Asian nations invited to the Speakers' meet in Indore on February 18-19 have declined the invitation," official sources said.

However, officials did not elaborate on the reasons given by Pakistan and merely noted that these two countries have written that they will not be able to attend the meet. 

The Summit, which is primarily an IPU initiative and not a SAARC activity, will be attended by Speakers of Parliament from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka among other countries, the sources said. 

Significantly, in 2015, India had boycotted a Commonwealth Parliamentary Union (CPU) meeting in Islamabad to protest against Pakistan's decision to not invite the Speaker of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly.
17:55   Trump travel ban illegal, 'mean-spirited': UN rights chief
US President Donald Trump's travel ban on mainly Muslim countries is illegal and "mean-spirited", the United Nations human rights chief Zeid bin Ra'ad Zeid al-Hussein said today. 

Zeid, who rarely communicates on Twitter, said in a tweet that "discrimination on nationality alone is forbidden under human rights law", adding that "the US ban is also mean-spirited and wastes resources needed for proper counter-terrorism."
17:54   RSS defamation case: Rahul appears before Bhiwandi court,
Rahul Gandhi today appeared before a magistrate court in Bhiwandi in Thane district of Maharashtra in connection with the hearing in the RSS defamation case over his alleged comments blaming people from the saffron fountainhead for the killing of Mahatma Gandhi.

The court adjourned till March 3 the hearing for recording the plea of the Congress Vice President, who has preferred to face trial as an accused in the defamation case. 

In a brief interaction later with waiting mediapersons outside the court, Rahul said that his fight is against the ideology which killed Mahatma Gandhi. 

"The date granted for recording of his (Rahul's) plea is March 3," said Magistrate Tushar Vaze, adjourning the case. 

The case against Rahul was filed by a local RSS functionary Rajesh Kunte over the former's speech in Bhiwandi on March 6, 2014 in the run-up to Lok Sabha polls.

During the rally, Rahul had allegedly claimed, "The RSS people had killed Gandhi."

Prior to the adjournment, Rahul's lawyers Ashok Mundergi and Narayan Iyer told the court that they have not received the copy of the entire newspaper (which published the news item on the Congress leader) but only the cuttings. 
17:50   Court summons Kejriwal, Kirti Azad in defamation plea by DDCA
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and suspended BJP MP Kirti Azad were today summoned as accused by a city court in a criminal defamation complaint filed by DDCA and its vice president Chetan Chauhan, observing that their statements prima facie adversely affected the reputation of the cricketing body and its officials.

Metropolitan Magistrate Abhilash Malhotra asked Kejriwal and Azad to appear before the court on February 18, saying it was prima facie clear that the former had made such a "serious defamatory remark" that a DDCA official had sought sexual favours from an unnamed woman for her son's selection in its cricket team, only on the basis of hearsay information received from his friend. 

"Under the aegis of DDCA, hundreds of players are playing cricket. Such a drastic statement and that too from the chief minister, may have a negative impact and leave an adverse impression in the mind of cricketers, officials and public at large, impacting reputation of the DDCA, its organisational functioning and the transparency of the selection process. 

"A person especially holding a constitutional post is reasonably expected to exercise sensitivity and prudence in making discourses and imputations which may have negative impact on the reputation of an institution working in public domain," the court said.
Just In: BJP MLA Suresh Rana booked by UP police for controversial remarks during election campaign.
Just In: Iraq parliament votes in favour of travel ban on US
17:21   No more ATM withdrawal limits from Feb 1: RBI
Just In: No more withdrawal limits from ATMs from Feb 1, announces RBI.

In a notification, the RBI said: 

"On a review of the pace of remonitisation, it has been decided to partially restore status quo ante as under:

* Limits placed vide the circulars cited above on cash withdrawals from Current accounts/ Cash credit accounts/ Overdraft accounts stand withdrawn with immediate effect.

* The limits on Savings Bank accounts will continue for the present and are under consideration for withdrawal in the near future.

* Limits vide the circulars cited above placed on cash withdrawals from ATMs stand withdrawn from February 01, 2017. However, banks may, at their discretion, have their own operating limits as was the case before November 8, 2016, subject to (ii) above.
17:00   Govt gets a 'F' in Cong's 'State of the economy' report
Ex-PM Manmohan Singh, former Finance Minister Chidambaram release 'state of economy' report ahead of the Union Budget. Chidambaram says the document released candidly, truthfully assesses the state of India's economy, supported by hard research, data.

"That the Indian economy is not in a good state is obvious. Even IMF has downgraded our GDP growth to below 7%.  Rating agencies have downgraded Indian economy," says Dr Singh, releasing the 'state of economy' report.

"Where are the jobs? Where is new capital investment? Where is credit growth?" P Chidambaram, asks. 

Image: Ex-PM Manmohan Singh, former finance minister P Chidambaram and Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala release the 'state of the economy' report.
16:56   Air France turns away 15 from Muslim countries for Trump ban
Air France has blocked 15 passengers from Muslim countries from traveling to the US because they would have been refused entry under President Donald Trump's new immigration ban. Air France said in a statement it was informed Saturday by the US government of the new restrictions, and had no choice but to stop the passengers from boarding US-bound flights. An airline spokeswoman said today that the passengers were taken back to their point of departure or otherwise taken care of. She would not provide the passengers' names, nationalities or other details.

The company earlier had reported that 21 passengers had been turned away, but then corrected its count. The passengers were from seven Muslim-majority countries affected by the three-month immigration ban: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
16:37   5 armymen rescued from Kashmir avalanche die
All five army personnel who were rescued on Saturday after being trapped for several hours under snow in the Macchil sector along the Line of Control in Kashmir Valley, have died.

The soldiers got trapped after the track leading to their post caved in the morning.

The rescue operation was launched immediately after the snow track leading to the post caved in, resulting in five soldiers getting trapped. As many as 21 persons, including 15 army men, have been killed since Wednesday due to avalanches and snowfall-related deaths in Kashmir valley.

Authorities have issued a high danger avalanche warning in hilly parts of snow-bound Kashmir Valley in view of fresh snowfall which was still continuing when last reports were received.
16:08   Ex-CAG chief Vinod Rai to head BCCI's admin panel
The Supreme Court, on Monday, announced the names of four administrators to run the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). They are: Ex-CAG chief Vinod Rai, historian Ramachandra Guha, ex-women's cricket captain Diana Edulji and IDFC MD Vikram Limaye. Rai, former CAG member, will head the panel

The SC declined the Attorney Generals request to appoint the secretary of the sports ministry as member of the committee.

Career banker Vikram Limaye and BCCI Joint Secretary Amitabh Choudhary will represent BCCI in the ICC meeting on financial share model

Earlier, the Amicus Curiaes Gopal Subramanian and Anil Diwan had submitted nine names to the Apex court for the appointment of administrators in the cricketing body.
15:16   Amulya Patnaik appointed as Delhi police chief
The government has appointed Amulya Patnaik as commissioner of Delhi police.

Patnaik, a 1985 batch IPS officer from Union Territories cadre, will replace Alok Verma, who has been named as the director of CBI.

Patnaik hails from Odisha and is currently posted as Delhi police special commissioner (general administration). He has also served as joint commissioner (operations) in Delhi police. 
Amulya Patnaik appointed as next Delhi Police Commissioner.
15:11   Rahul defamation case postponed to March 3
The Bhiwandi court adjourns the Rahul Gandhi defamation case till March 3. The Congress vice-president on Monday appeared before Maharashtra's Bhiwandi court for hearing in the defamation case filed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh over his remark regarding Mahatma Gandhi's assassination.

Rahul was granted bail on the basis of personal surety by Maharashtra's Bhiwandi court in November last year.

A local RSS functionary, Rajesh Kunte, had filed the case against Gandhi for claiming at an election rally on March 6, 2014 that the right wing organisation had killed Mahatma Gandhi.

Though the apex court has stayed the proceedings against him, Gandhi appeared before magistrate DP Kale in Bhiwandi on July 8 last year.

Pic: Rahul Gandhi outside the Bhiwandi court today. Sahil Salvi/
This day in 1948... the Dawn headlines an assassination.
14:59   Ex-PM Manmohan Singh helped Vijay Mallya, says BJP
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh helped tycoon Vijay Mallya get loans, the BJP said today, citing letters that have been reported in the media.

The BJP cited a report that said the UPA government facilitated loans to Mallya after he allegedly wrote to Manmohan Singh and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram in 2011 and 2013.

The letters allegedly requested that loans to Mallya's defunct Kingfisher Airlines from a consortium of banks be speeded up.

"From where did Vijay Mallya procure such funds? Was sinking ship (Congress) helping sinking airline (Kingfisher)" questioned BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra.

Patra said even though the loans were not repaid, Mallya was granted loans again and again. Mallya moved to Britain in March last year in the middle of efforts by a group of banks to recover nearly 9,000 crores in unpaid loans to Kingfisher airlines. -- NDTV
14:46   Toll of Trump's immigration order
Mazdak Tootkaboni and Arghavan Louhghalam are Civil and Environmental Engineering professors and, according to university officials, were on the way back from a conference in Paris when they were detained. Both are Iranian nationals, Muslims, and legal permanent residents of the United States with green cards. They landed at Logan Airport in Boston  and were stopped from leaving the airport by US Customs and Border Protection agents and detained for three hours. The agents detained them pursuant to US President Trump's Friday executive order that halts any entry for people from several predominantly Muslim nations, including Iran. Tootkaboni was later released much to the relief of his friends and family.

Meet some of the faces of Trump's loony immigration order
14:38   Rajghat gets a makeover
The Mahatma Gandhi samadhi at Rajghat has undergone a makeover after 15 years. Rajghat, which is visited by more than 10,000 domestic and foreign visitors every day, has been given a facelift under the supervision of the Ministry of Urban Development, on the occasion of the 69th death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
14:28   US: Green card holders detained over social media posts
The US authorities are checking people's social media accounts for their political views before allowing them into the country after the recent travel ban imposed by President Donald Trump on people from seven predominantly Muslim nations, a media report said.

Houston-based lawyer Mana Yegani was quoted as saying that several green card holders, who have the right to live and work in the US, were detained by border agents at American airports hours after Trump's executive order came into force.

Yegani, who works with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (Alia), said border agents were checking the social media accounts of those detained and were interrogating them about their political beliefs before allowing them into the US, the Independent reported.

"These are people that are coming in legally. They have jobs here and they have vehicles here. Just because Trump signed something at 6pm on Friday, things are coming to a crashing halt. It's scary."

"I and my fellow lawyers had worked through the night fielding calls from people with legitimate visa being detained before entering the US or ordered back on flights to the Muslim-majority countries on the list," said Yegani.

"The ban has affected travellers with passports from seven Muslim-majority countries and also green card holders who are granted authorisation to live and work in the US," a spokeswoman from Department of Homeland Security said.

The controversial executive ban announced by Trump on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, lead to hundreds of thousands of people protesting at the airports across the US to extending solidarity to those affected as chaos and fear gripped individuals trying to enter the country.

The ban suspends entry of all refugees to the US for 120 days, barring Syrian refugees indefinitely and blocking entry into the country for 90 days for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

"In one alleged incident a Sudanese PhD student at Stanford University in California, who has lived in the US for 22 years, was held for five hours in New York and in another a dual Iranian-Canadian citizen was not allowed to board a flight in Ottawa," the report said.
13:57   Vodafone confirms it's in merger talks with Idea
Reuters: Speculations about Vodafone India and Idea Cellular exploring a merger (no comment from either side on these reports) has resulted in the share price of Idea Cellular rising over 15 per cent since January 18. The merger would create India's largest telecom company.

Shares of Idea Cellular surged 25 per cent intraday on Friday after London-based parent of Vodafone India confirmed that it is in discussions with the Aditya Birla Group about an all share merger of Vodafone India.

The merger would be effected through the issue of new shares in Idea to Vodafone and would result in Vodafone deconsolidating Vodafone India.
13:48   KGB man who compiled Trump dirty dossier found dead
The Kremlin may have covered up the murder of a former KGB chief accused of helping ex-MI6 spy Christopher Steele to pull together the notorious dossier on Donald Trump.Oleg Erovinkin served as a general in the KGB and was found dead on Boxing Day in the back of his car in Moscow. Read more
Opposition demands another all-party meet before the next part of the Budget session is convened in March.
13:38   A sting op on a union minister soon
A senior Congress MP and senior advocate of the Supreme Court has entrusted a confidant to do a sting operation on a Union Minister, who shall remain unnamed for now. The sting op is on similar lines to the one carried out on former Arunachal Pradesh governor V Shanmuganathan. The BJP in an internal memo cautioned ministers not to encourage any personal interviews or favours even if they offered cash or any kind of inducements. "Beware of few opponents who are bent upon creating a confusion amongst junior Union Ministers," the memo read.
12:59   Tax rates may be slashed, says top Modi minister
With less than 48 hours to go for the Union Budget to be presented, the government has dropped a hint that tax rates may be slashed.

Speaking at Budget Aajtak, micro, small and medium enterprises minister Kalraj Mishra said that the Modi government is positive about bringing tax rates down.

"We have received inputs on lowering tax rates. The government would like to incorporate some of the suggestions. The government is committed to keep the common man's interests in mind in the budget," Mishra said.

Responding to a question, the minister described the Modi government's move to ban circulation of old Rs 500, 1000 notes as a positive move which has actually helped people.

"I agree there were issues initially, however, things have improved now. The move had nothing to do with elections. There was no political motice behind it," Mishra said.

"The government's credibility has actually increased after demonetisation," he added. 
12:55   Fadnavis will be "sent home" if he keeps slamming us: Sena
Upping the ante against its ally BJP, Shiv Sena today said Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis will be "sent home" if he continues to level charges against it in the run up to the local body polls.

The remarks from the bickering ally came after Fadnavis hit out at it at a BJP rally on Saturday, close on the heels of the Sena deciding against a pre-poll pact with the senior partner for civic polls in Mumbai and other cities across the state.

"They (BJP leaders) have been talking about building a Ram Temple for the last 28 years and duping people in the name of Uniform Civil Code. Now, they intend to give Mumbai into the hands of rich people.... if the CM continues to level low grade charges against the Shiv Sena, for time being it has left him only with a sore throat but tomorrow he will be sent home," the Sena said in an editorial in party mouthpiece Saamana.

The allusion was to Fadnavis's "sore throat" while he made the hard hitting speech against the Sena.
12:37   Staff faliure biggest cause of rail accidents, says report
Failure of Railway staff is the biggest cause behind train accidents and derailments that have led to maximum deaths and injuries to passengers, said a safety report submitted to Railway Ministry.

Railway has constituted a task force on safety on December 6 last year after the derailment near Kanpur, killing 151 people.

The report submitted recently has categorically stated the failure of railway staff is the biggest cause in 50 to 60 per cent cases, and derailments cause maximum deaths and injuries.

According to the report, asset failures like track defects such as rail fracture and inadequate maintenance remain the biggest cause of accidents.

Taking note of the increasing number of derailments due to rail-fractures and weld failures, it has suggested a need to address the backlog in rail/track renewals and the technology of rail welding.
12:18   India's gold demand at 13-year low
India's gold demand has slumped to its lowest in 13 years due to various measures announced by the government to discourage purchases, reports Dilip Kumar Jha in Business Standard.

'GFMS, a precious metals consultancy, estimated India's gold demand at 580 tonnes in 2016, a decline of 34 per cent from the previous year. This level of demand has not been seen in India since 2003,' he writes.   

The World Gold Council (WGC), however, maintains gold demand in India in 2016 at 650-750 tonnes. The WGC will release its final gold demand figure early next month.   

The GFMS survey estimates India's gold imports at 498 tonnes in 2016, also a level not seen since 2003.   

"India's average monthly gold import demand for domestic consumption was approximately 60 tonnes in 2015. However, last year during February-September average monthly imports stood at just 13 tonnes as compared to a monthly average of 58 tonnes in the October-December quarter of 2016," the GFMS survey noted.   

"There are some interesting short-run dynamics too. Gold demand is spurred by inflation, rises with a good monsoon, and is dampened by higher import taxes and other restrictive measures. By 2020, we expect Indian gold demand to average 850-950 tonnes,' said Somasundaram PR, managing director, World Gold Council (India).   

India's gold demand was hampered by the government's decision to introduce a 1 per cent excise duty on jewellery in the Budget in February 2016. The levy was opposed by jewellers, who struck work for 42 days from March 1.   

The requirement of quoting the income tax permanent account number during purchases of over Rs 200,000, a liquidity crisis in rural regions following three years of weak monsoon rainfall, and the government's scheme on disclosing unaccounted wealth were other reasons that kept buyers away from gold.   

"Production at domestic mines constitutes one-three tonnes out of India's estimated annual consumption of 1,000 tonnes of gold. With the customs duty being 10 per cent, unofficial imports have grown. We have been trying to convince the government to bring down the customs duty to 5-6 per cent,' said Prithviraj Kothari, managing director, RiddiSiddhi Bullion.   

During February-September 2016, prevailing gold prices in India slipped to a discount to the landed cost of imports as scrap supply increased from households and the jewellery trade destocked.

-- Dilip Kumar Jha, Business Standard
12:09   Petition to stop Trump's visit to UK attracts over 500,000 signatures
More than 895,000 people have signed a petition demandingDonald Trump's state visit to the UK be cancelled in the wake of his Muslim travel ban.

The enormous response easily passed the 100,000 target needed for MPs to consider holding a debate on the motion in the House of Commons this morning, with more and more people flocking to sign it.
It is currently rising at an average of more than 1,000 signatures per minute and is already the third most popular petition in Parliament's history. 

Plans for a state visit for President Trump were only announced 48 hours ago when Theresa May revealed he had accepted an invitation from the Queen. 

Today's online petition, backed by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, says the US President should no longer be invited to avoid embarrassing the Queen.
11:50   Asaram stays in jail
Rape accused Asaram Bapu does not pass Go. Supreme Court dismisses his bail application in connection with two rape cases.
11:46   Ministers head to Parliament for all-party meet ahead of Budget session
Union Ministers arrive for all party meet in Parliament ahead of the Budget session of Parliament. That's BJP's Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Arun Jaitley inside Parliament House.

The government has convened an all-party meeting today ahead of the Budget Session of Parliament to seek opposition's support for the smooth conduct of proceedings in both the Houses.

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan has also called a meeting of leaders of political parties in the House same evening. The Budget Session will start from Tuesday with President Pranab Mukherjee's address to a joint sitting of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
11:43   NCP will never support BJP and compromise on secularism: Pawar
NCP supremo Sharad Pawar has scotched rumours that his party was cosying up to BJP, saying it will never support the saffron party nor join hands with communal forces and compromise on secularism.

"There are rumours being spread that NCP is growing close to BJP. This is absolutely false news. NCP will never support BJP," he said addressing a public meeting in Vasco last night where he was canvassing for his party candidate Jose Philipe D'Souza.

"We will never compromise on secularism. NCP will never be with the communal forces. Those who are favouring and spreading communalism, we will never be with them," said Pawar, who was recently honoured with the Padma Vibhushan, country's second highest civilian award.
11:38   How Rahul Gandhi could cost Akhilesh Yadav this UP election
Akhilesh Yadav wants to be re-elected as Uttar Pradesh chief minister. Rahul Gandhi wants something to show as achievement in UP so he can finally claim to have achieved something in politics, and thus finally ascend to the throne of the president of the Congress party. Akhilesh needs the campaign over the next few weeks to become chief minister. For Rahul Gandhi, the campaign itself is more important than the end result. Read more
11:08   1st SAARC meet since Islamabad brawl to be held in Kathmandu
Senior officials of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) are scheduled to meet in Kathmandu this week for the first time since the summit was postponed last year to discuss various issues. The meet on February 1-2 to attend the Programming Committee will be the first meeting of the SAARC member states since the postponement of the 19th SAARC that was supposed to take place in Islamabad November last year, a Foreign Ministry official said.

During the meeting, SAARC member states will discuss a number of issues, including the budget of the SAARC Secretariat and five regional centers of SAARC, according to Foreign Ministry sources. The matter relating to rescheduling the next SAARC summit will also come up during the meeting, to be attended by joint secretaries of the SAARC countries.

Nepal, current chair of the SAARC, had decided to postpone the SAARC Summit until further notice after four nations Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh and India requested to postpone the summit in Islamabad scheduled for November 9 and 10 last year, following escalation of tension between India and Pakistan.

India and three other countries had blamed Pakistan for not creating a conducive environment and not cooperating on combating cross-border terrorism in South Asia for holding the SAARC Summit, while Pakistan has rejected the charges. The decisions made by the programming committee will be forwarded to the Standing Committee for endorsement.

SAARC is a regional body founded in 1985 in South Asia, comprising Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Merriam-Webster has become the sassiest Twitter account of the Trump era. Meet its author. Read
10:43   Trump ban: Airbnb offers free housing to people barred from flights to US
In the wake of US President Donald Trump's sweeping immigration order banning citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. for at least the next 90 days,

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky has announced free housing for people left stranded as a result.Trump's order also stops the admission of all refugees for the next four months, and bans people fleeing war-torn Syria indefinitely, CNN reports. "Not allowing countries or refugees into America is not right, and we must stand with those who are affected," Chesky tweeted.

The sudden order has left many people with legal visas, including refugees, stranded at airports in the U.S. and the Middle East.

In a Facebook post, Chesky gave a few more details, saying the offer of free housing applied to "refugees or anyone else who needs it in the event they are denied the ability to board a U.S.-bound flight and are not in your city/country of residence."

He also asked people to email him at Airbnb for more details.Airbnb has a history of putting its network of housing in 191 countries to work to help the victims of natural disasters, most recently after wildfires in Chile and earthquakes in Italy.

World leaders are also opening their doors to those affected by the ban. Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted: "To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada"
10:34   TMC to boycott Union Budget on Feb 1, says it's Saraswati Puja
The Centre has convened an all-party meet today ahead of the Union Budget The Trinamool Congress, which has been vocal against demonetisation, has said last week that it will skip the pre-budget meet, being held in New Delhi.

Confirming the party's absence, spokesperson Derek O' Brien said the TMC will not to attend Parliament on February 1 when the Budget is to be presented and cited Saraswati Puja as the reason.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has directed all party MPs to attend a meeting at her Kalighat residence instead, and is likely to chart out a road-map for the session from February 1 to February 9. Trinamool spokesperson Derek O'Brien said, "Trinamool chairperson Mamata Banerjee will chair a meeting of party MPs at the party office in Kalighat on Monday, January 30 at 12.30pm."

The all-party meeting will be held today to seek the opposition's support for a smooth conduct of proceedings in both the houses of Parliament. A similar meeting has been convened by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.

Sixteen opposition parties had this month moved the Election Commission urging the poll body to ask the government to present the Budget 2017 after the assembly elections in five states of Goa, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur and Goa.

File pic. West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley
10:32   Why Uttarakhand's ex-faujis may not vote BJP
As Uttarakhand -- where faujis number nearly 40% of the state's population -- prepares to vote,'s Archana Masih finds that what upsets retired soldiers in Uttarakhand the most is a forgotten protest in the heart of Delhi. Read
10:21   Erm, this is what I meant... hate speech MLA clarifies
After stoking a controversy over his 'curfew will be imposed' comment, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Suresh Rana on Monday came up with a clarification, saying if his party comes to power then the state will see the exit of goons.

"Due to the fear of hooligans, extortion, the people migrated from western Uttar Pradesh. There is no village or town where migration did not take place due to these reasons. So, I meant to say that if the BJP comes to power in UP then these goons, extortionists will migrate and not the innocents," Rana told ANI.

Rana, while addressing a meeting in Shamli's Thana Bhawan yesterday, said if he wins then the Muslim-dominated areas of Uttar Pradesh will witness curfew.

"If I win, curfew will be imposed in Kairana, Deoband and Moradabad," he said.

The MLA went on further saying that his defeat would be celebrated in Deoband and Moradabad.

The BJP candidate for the upcoming Uttar Pradesh elections from Thana Bhawan constituency was one of the key accused in the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots
10:03   Rescind 'Muslim ban': top Democrat leaders to Trump
Top Democratic leaders, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Indian-American Senator Kamala Harris, today urged US President Donald Trump to rescind his alleged "Muslim ban".

"This is effectively a Muslim ban. One that will do nothing to keep us safe and undermines our core American values," Harris, who is of mixed Indian-American and African-American heritage, said as she launched an online petition campaign urging Trump to rescind the ban.

The White House has denied that this is a ban on Muslims. Senator Schumer, the Senate Minority leader, said the executive orders are wrong. He demanded that the President immediately rescind the executive orders. "Executive orders make US less safe and secure; turn much of the world against us.

Joining recent refugees today to call on President Trump to rescind," he tweeted. "Still much more work to do; President Trump must overturn this awful executive order," he said.
09:56   With Congress, we will get more than 300 seats in UP: Akhilesh Yadav
"I feel the people of UP want to vote the SP government back to power. People know that we deliver what we promise. We have fulfilled all the promises we made in the manifesto or we are working in that direction. Now we have a new manifesto and our government has a lot of credibility. Whether it is laptop distribution, Samajwadi pensions, roads, bridges. Kaam bolta hai (Our work speaks) (smiles)."

UP CM Akhilesh Yadav speaks to the Economic Times. Read the full interview here.
09:52   BJP backs Mulayam, asks Akhilesh to explain 'unbalanced' alliance
Dubbing the alliance of the Samajwadi Party and Congress as 'unbalanced', the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday backed party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav's assertion and asked Uttar Pradesh Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav to 'explain' the tie-up.

"Mulayam has just said the truth. This is unbalanced alliance. Question should be asked to Akhilesh Yadav as to what is the reason behind the alliance with a party which has lost its grounds not only in the state but the entire country," BJP leader Mahesh Sharma told ANI.

Taking a jibe at the prolonged rift in the Yadav family, Sharma saidthe Samajwadi Party is tarnishing the relation of a father-son and uncle-nephew, adding that the people of Uttar Pradesh would not fall into the trap of this drama.

Expressing his anger over the newly-formed alliance of the Samajwadi Party and Congress, Mulayam yesterday said the party has the capability to win the elections without any support.

"Our party has the capability to contest this election without any support. I am confident that it would have marked victory had it contested alone," he added. He asserted that he would not campaign for the alliance in the assembly elections.
09:49   Rupee slips 5 paise against dollar to 68.08
The rupee gave up 5 paise to trade 68.08 against the US dollar in early session today, snapping its 3-day winning run, owing to month-end demand for the American currency from importers amid a lower opening in the stock market. Forex dealers said increased demand for the US currency from importers put a squeeze on the rupee, but dollar's weakness against other currencies overseas capped the fall.
09:40   Canadian PM Trudeau expresses grief over shooting
As investigations continue into the shooting at a mosque in Quebec in which five people have already been killed, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted his condolences in both French and English. 

"Tonight, Canadians grieve for those killed in a cowardly attack on a mosque in Quebec City. My thoughts are with victims & their families."
09:17   Hope Trump bans Pakistani visas: Imran Khan
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan while condemning the plight of Muslims prevented from entering the United States under US President Donald Trump's immigration ban, expressed hope that the ban is extended to Pakistanis.

"I want to tell all Pakistanis today, I pray that Trump bans Pakistani visas so that we can focus on fixing our country," Khan told a rally in Sahiwal.

The PTI chief said most educated Pakistanis want to leave this country because they think they can only acquire gainful employment if they have a "powerful source", and said he believes that things in Pakistan can only improve if people work for progress.

"The day we bring back the merit system back to Pakistan, all our best citizens will return and work for the betterment of this country," Khan said.

"We will have to fix Pakistan and stand on our own two feet. And the day that we decide this is our home and we have to fix it, we won't beg for loans from the US and the International Monetary Fund."

Khan said the day there is a government that decides it has to live and die in Pakistan, it will fix this country.
09:04   Woman techie found dead on Infosys Pune campus, guard arrested
A 25-year-old woman working with Infosys was found murdered at her office in Rajiv Gandhi Infotech Park in Hinjewadi in Pune on Sunday.

K Rasila Raju, who hailed from Kerala, was allegedly strangled with a computer wire. The incident took place on the ninth floor of the Infosys building. A security guard has been arrested in connection with the murder.

"The incident might have taken place around 5 pm but we received a call around 8 pm. Raju was employed as a software engineer by the firm," Assistant Commissioner of Police Vaishali Jadhav said.

Jadhav said that Rasila was working in her office while her two teammates were online in Bengaluru.

"Her manager was trying to call her, but there was no response. The manager called and asked the security guard to go and check and when the security guard went to see her, she was found unconscious near her workstation," the officer said.

Raju's family has been informed about her death.
08:41   5 dead after '3 gunmen open fire' at a Quebec mosque
A mosque has been targeted during prayers by three gunmen in Canada leaving five people dead, Quebec Police have confirmed.

The mosque president has confirmed five people have been killed in the incident, according to Sky News.

At least 20 emergency services vehicles are at the scene in Quebec city as authorities investigate the incident amid fears of multiple victims.

Mosque president Mohamed Yangui said: "Why is this happening here? This is barbaric.

A witness claimed there were about 40 people inside the mosque at the time of the shooting.

Incidents of Islamophobia have increased in the city in recent years amid a political debate over banning the niqab, or Muslim face covering.

In June last year, a pig's head was left on the doorstep of the Islamic cultural center.

In 2015, a mosque in the neighboring province of Ontario was set on fire, just hours after the terrorist attacks in Paris.

JUST IN: And elsewhere, the contestant from France wins Miss Universe crown in contest held in the Philippines.
08:01   Pakistan could be included in immigration ban list in future, says White House
There is a possibility in the future of including Pakistan in the list of countries from where immigration has been banned, a top White House official indicated today, acknowledging for the first time that Pakistan was under consideration to be put in that category.

"The reason we chose those seven countries was, those were the seven countries that both the Congress and the Obama administration identified as being the seven countries that were most identifiable with dangerous terrorism taking place in their country," White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, told CBS News.

Trump has issued a controversial executive order banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries -- Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Somalia.

"Now, you can point to other countries that have similar problems, like Pakistan and others. Perhaps we need to take it further. But for now, immediate steps, pulling the Band-Aid off, is to do further vetting for people travelling in and out of those countries," Priebus said.

This is for the first time that the Trump administration has publicly acknowledged about considering putting Pakistan into that list.

Currently as per the executive order, visitors from countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan are subject to extreme vetting.