Tue, 31 January 2017
Jallikattu bill receives Prez nod; TN CM thanks PM for support

Timeline  Refresh

23:41   Jallikattu bill receives Prez nod; TN CM thanks PM for support
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam today said the Bill to replace an ordinance for the conduct of Jallikattu has received President Pranab Mukherjees assent and thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his support in enabling the bull taming sport to be held in the state.

In a letter to Modi, Panneerselvam recalled his government had initially promulgated an ordinance and later replaced it with a bill passed unanimously by the state assembly.

The Bill was 'reserved' for the President's assent by Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao and it has received the Hon'ble President's assent on 31.1.2017', Panneerselvam said.

'On behalf of the government and people of Tamil Nadu, I thank you for all your support and assistance in enabling Jallikattu to be held in Tamil Nadu once again, upholding the culture and tradition of the people of Tamil Nadu,' he said in the letter. -- PTI
22:42   India, Russia discuss threats posed by 'state-sponsored' terrorism
India and Russia today voiced concern over the emergence of Afghanistan-Pakistan region as the epicentre of terrorism, as the two sides discussed the threats posed by the menace, including state-sponsored cross border terrorism.

A composite Indian delegation led by Preeti Saran, Secretary (East), ministry of external affairs held talks with the Russian delegation headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg V Syromolotov in New Delhi.

"Both sides shared views and assessment on the threats posed by the scourge of terrorism, including state-sponsored, cross border terrorism faced by India," said an official release issued after the high level consultations.

They shared concerns regarding the emergence of Af-Pak region as the epicentre of terrorism and discussed successful experiences in curbing terrorism and countering radicalisation, it said.

"Both sides agreed that the UNSC 1267 Sanctions List processes for blacklisting various terrorist individuals and entities must be stringently complied with," it added.

They also discussed prospects for deepening engagement on counter-terrorism under the UN, BRICS and SCO mechanisms.

"Both sides agreed to a joint action plan which seeks to focus on enhancing capacity building, frequent expert-level meetings, sharing of insights, exchange of best practices in countering radicalisation and curbing terrorism," it added. -- PTI

Image for representation only.
22:20   Senate Democrats to boycott committee vote on Trump's nominees
In a surprise turn of events, Senate Democrats announced that they are boycotting a committee vote on two of President Donald Trump's cabinet nominees, drawing fury from the Republicans, CNN reported.

The Senate Finance Committee was set to vote on the nominations of Rep Tom Price to lead the Department of Health and Human Services and Steve Mnuchin for Treasury secretary.

Trump began his 11th day in office shrouded in crisis, criticised for a chaotic unveiling of immigration measures and under new scrutiny after he fired the nations top law enforcement officer who refused to enforce them. -- Agencies
22:03   Fire breaks out in Parliament
A fire broke out in room no 50 of the Parliament house on Tuesday late evening.

No person is reported injured in this incident.

At least 12 fire tenders have been rushed to douse the flames.Further details are awaited.
21:35   Rs 100 cr in cash, 17 lakh litre liquor seized in 5 poll-bound states
Over Rs 100 crore in cash, 17.06 lakh litres of liquor worth Rs 32.03 crore and more than 4,800 kg narcotics valued at Rs 21 crore have been seized by the Election Commission-appointed surveillance and expenditure monitoring teams in the five poll-bound states.

As per official data compiled since the announcement of polls early this month till today, Uttar Pradesh has witnessed the maximum seizure of cash at Rs 90.98 crore followed by Rs 7.08 crore in Punjab, Rs 1.27 crore in Goa, Rs 1.23 crore in Uttarakhand and Rs 8.13 lakh in Manipur.

In other illegal inducements suspected to be used to lure voters in these states, a whopping 17.06 lakh litres of liquor worth Rs 32.03 crore has been seized by the Election Commission-appointed police and state excise teams in these states.

In UP, these seizures were recorded at 9.67 lakh litres worth Rs 24.89 crore, followed by over 6.55 lakh litres of spirits worth Rs 5.06 crore in Punjab, over 5,000 litres liquor worth Rs 1.31 crore in Uttarakhand, 72,000 litres worth Rs 85.14 lakh in Goa and beer and other hard spirits worth Rs 19.07 lakh in Manipur.

Drug seizures by the anti-narcotics agencies and police teams have been seen maximum in Punjab as the total haul has been recorded at 4,875 kg valued at Rs 21.47 crore.

Punjab accounted for 2,640 kg worth Rs 13.76 crore, followed by 2,103 kg worth Rs 5.06 crore in UP, over Rs 2 crore in Manipur, 6.85 kg of the same consignment worth Rs 34.22 lakh in Goa and about Rs 29.85 lakh worth contraband in Uttarakhand.

The total volume of drug seizures includes heroin, poppy husk, charas, Ganja and smack among others.

Officials said a total of 'Rs 100.65 crore in cash, about 17.06 lakh litres of liquor worth Rs 32.03 crore and an estimated Rs 21.47 crore worth narcotics have been seized in the five poll-bound states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur'.

Also, gold and silver worth Rs 49.22 crore have been seized by these teams from the poll-bound states with the maximum being recovered from Punjab at Rs 26.04 crore, they said. -- PTI

Image for representation only.
21:15   Sailor who attacked Rajiv held for predicting Sirisena's death
A former Sri Lankan sailor, who had attacked the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi with a rifle butt here in 1987, was arrested today for making an astrological prediction about the death of President Maithripala Sirisena.

Vijitha Rohana Wijemuni was arrested by the Crime Investigation Department for circulating a video on Facebook forecasting the death of President Sirisena by January 26.

In December, Nimal Bopage, Secretary to the Ministry of Media and Parliamentary Affairs, had lodged a complaint with the police for an investigation against Wijemuni.

"We see a conspiracy behind this and have asked the police to investigate because we suspect this to be part of a wider plot to assassinate the President," he had said in the complaint.

He had been charged with misleading the public, police sources said.

Wijemuni was part of a naval guard of honour in July, 1987 when Gandhi was visiting Colombo to sign the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord which led to the Indian Peace Keeping Force being stationed in Sri Lankas north and east provinces as part of Indias efforts to mediate in Sri Lankas separatist civil war at the time.

As Gandhi walked past inspecting the guard of honour, Wijemuni raised his rifle and attempted to attack the then prime minister who narrowly escaped.

Wijemuni was court-martialled and after his jail term, became an astrologer. -- PTI
20:24   Budget: I-T exemption likely to be raised to Rs 3.5 lakh
Rajeev Sharma tells us:

The Modi government's first unified Union Budget, to be presented on Wednesday, will be a please-all Budget with a deep focus on direct taxes and sops, knowledgeable sources said.

As part of this feel-good budget, the personal income tax exemption limit is likely to be raised from Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 3.5 lakh.

Corporate tax is likely to be reduced from 25 pre cent to 18 per cent to boost the corporate sector.

Besides, expect tomorrow's Budget to have a sharp focus on sops for farmers, ways to boost agricultural income and big bang announcements in fields of health and infrastructure.
19:46   Non-bailable warrant issued against Mallya, CBI seeks extradition
A court in Mumbai today issued a non-bailable warrant against beleaguered businessman Vijay Mallya in the IDBI Bank loan default case as the Central Bureau of Investigation sought his extradition from the United Kingdom.

"The court issued a non-bailable warrant against Mallya after we filed an affidavit seeking his extradition from the UK," said a CBI official, adding the warrant will be sent to that country through diplomatic channels.

Special judge for CBI cases H S Mahajan issued the NBW after the agency's affidavit provided Mallya's precise address in the UK.

"Earlier too, a non-bailable warrant was issued against him but then we did not know his location," the official said. -- PTI
19:03   Jaitley to take questions from Twitterati after budget
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will reply to questions by Twitterati on the proposals in the Budget after its presentation in the Lok Sabha. 

"I shall be presenting the Union Budget for 2017-18 tomorrow. I shall be happy to respond to your questions which you can send directly to me," Jaitley said in a video message.

The questions can be asked on Twitter by using hastag #MyQuestionToFM. 

This year, the government has decided to advance the Union Budget presentation to February 1, doing away with a decade-old practice of presenting it on the last working day of February.
19:00   Bangladesh Test: Parthiv dropped, Abhinav Mukund in
BCCI has announced a 16-man squad for the Bangladesh test.

The squad includes: Virat Kohli, Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Karun Nair, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jayant Yadav, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Amit Mishra, Abhinav Mukund and Hardik Pandya.

Parthiv Patel has been dropped from the Test squad vs Bangladesh. Wriddhiman Saha returns after a glowious double century for Rest of India in the Irani Trophy recently

Tamil Nadu opener Abhinav Mukund makes a comeback after almost six years. He went on the tour of England and failed.
18:47   Faulty airbags: Honda recalls 41,580 cars in India
Japanese auto major Honda is recalling 41,580 units of previous generation of Accord, Civic, City and Jazz models in India as part of a global exercise to rectify faulty airbags. 

The latest exercise takes the overall number of recalled vehicles, equipped with airbags manufactured by Takata, by the company to around 3 lakh in India.

The company, which is present in India through a wholly-owned arm Honda Cars India Ltd (HCIL), announced that the latest recall will impact models which were manufactured in 2012.

"HCIL will voluntarily replace Takata passenger front airbag inflators of 41,580 vehicles of previous generation of Jazz, City, Civic and Accord as part of Honda's precautionary global recall campaign concerning Takata front airbag inflators," HCIL said in a statement.

According to the company, the recall will affect 659 units of the premium sedan Accord, 32,456 units of City, 7,265 units of Jazz and 1,200 units of Civic.

"The replacement will be carried out free of cost at HCIL dealerships across India.

18:25   Misunderstanding about 'Padmavati' clarified: Bhansali Productions
In the wake of protests by Rajput groups against Sanjay Leela Bhansali's "Padmavati", his production house today said that misunderstanding regarding the content of the film has been clarified with Shree Rajput Sabha. 

The production house told the Rajput body that there is no romantic dream sequence between Rani Padmavati and Alauddin Khilji in the film. 

Representatives of Bhansali Productions Private Ltd, including its CEO Shobha Sant and Associate Producer Chetan Deolekar, met with the office bearers of all the social organisations under the Shree Rajput Sabha in Jaipur. 

"The misunderstanding they had on the content of the film has been cleared and clarified. We have clearly stated that there is no romantic scene or song or dream sequence between Rani Padmavati and Allauddin Khilji," the statement issued by Bhansali Productions said.

Last week, Bhansali had been roughed up by members of the Rajput Karni Sena, who also stopped the shooting by damaging the set at Jaigarh Fort, alleging that the director was "distorting facts" in the movie which is about Alauddin Khilji's obsession with Rani Padmavati. After the incident, the "Padmavati" team is apparently
back in Mumbai. 
17:57   Filmmaker Dasari Narayana Rao on ventilator support
Veteran Telugu filmmaker and former Union Minister Dasari Narayana Rao has been hospitalised after he suffered from respiratory and kidney problems, an official said on Tuesday.

Rao was admitted to a private hospital at Hyderabad Monday evening and put on dialysis and ventilator support.

He is suffering from kidney ailment, besides sepsis and respiratory problems. He has been put on dialysis and ventilator support and is positively responding to the treatment, a hospital official told PTI.

He will also undergo a thoracic surgery, the official said.

He was Union Minister of State for Coal in the earlier UPA government.

Rao had recently announced that he would make a biopic on former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister late J Jayalalithaa, who passed away on December 5, 2016.
17:53   I have Netaji's blessings, will win over 300 seats: Akhilesh
Dismissing his uncle Shivpal Yadav's threat today to float a new party, Samajwadi Party president and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said he has the blessings of his father and the "entire family is one".

"The entire family is one...I have the blessings of Netaji...we will win over 300 (of the 403) seats in alliance with Congress this time," Akhilesh told a public meeting in Sikandaru for the candidates of the SP-Congress alliance on Sadabad, Sikandarau and Hathras seats. 

Earlier in the day Shivpal had said, "I will form a new party after March 11 when results (of UP Assembly elections) are out. You make the government, we will make a new party." 

Akhilesh also talked of his party's alliance with the Congress in the rally.

"I had come here in 2012 and today I come again and also brought the election symbol of Congress 'hand' with our own 'bicycle'. With the hand, the bicycle will run faster," he stressed. 
17:43   Saudi prince buys airplane seats to transport 80 falcons
In an unusual sight, a Saudi prince is claimed to have bought tickets of a passenger jet for his 80 falcons, according to media reports.

A picture posted on the Reddit has gone viral which shows a flock of blindfolded falcons seated on a plane around the cabin among passengers, each bird seemingly tied securely down to the seats.

Reddit user lensoo posted it online, writing: "My captain friend sent me this photo. Saudi prince bought ticket for his 80 hawks," the Khaleej Times reported.

Transportation of falcons, the national bird of the UAE, is not a rare practice in the Middle East. 

Falcons can get their own forest green passports to fly in the UAE. That passport allows them to travel to Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Morocco, and Syria. Qatar Airways' website also states that a maximum of six falcons can be brought on economy class.
17:40   Ajit Singh escapes unhurt as helicopter tilts during take off
RLD chief Ajit Singh escaped unhurt when his helicopter tilted as a temporary helipad made of bricks gave way while the chopper was taking off in Mant area at Mathura.

The former aviation minister had yesterday addressed an election programme at Brij Aadarsh Inter College in support of RLD candidate from Mant Assembly constituency, Yogesh Nauhwar, police said.

After the programme, when the RLD leader's chopper was taking off the temporary helipad gave way and it tilted but the pilot immediately took the helicopter up, avoiding any mishap, they said.

Additional Superintendent of Police (Rural) Arun Kumar Singh said temporary helipads may slump in the ground due to the weight of helicopters and that happened in Mant also. 
17:03   The eloquent Mr Trump
You can always turn to the freshly minted US president for headlines.

Donald J. Trump ‏@realDonaldTrump  tweets: Nancy Pelosi and Fake Tears Chuck Schumer held a rally  at the steps of The Supreme Court and mic did not work (a mess)-just like Dem party!

New York Senator Chuck Schumer nearly broke down in tears as he promised to "claw, scrap and fight" to overturn Donald Trump's executive order temporarily suspending all immigration from several Muslim majority countries.

"This executive order was mean-spirited and un-American," the senator said, fighting back tears.  House and Senate Democrats stood outside the Supreme Court in the cold on Monday night to protest President Donald Trump's travel ban, reports CNN.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was joined by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, but the audio cut, just as she began speaking. 
16:53   SC allows Jallikattu in TN from Feb 1
No stay on Jallikattu law. The Supreme Court issues a notice to the Tamil Nadu government seeking a reply within six weeks on the new Jallikattu Act.  The Supreme Court also slammed the state for not following law and order during the protests last week. "We're governed by rule of law. These things should not happen," the court observed slamming the government for the law and order disruption at Marina Beach. The SC said it would not send the matter to the Madras High Court.

The SC has now allowed the state government to hold Jallikattu tomorrow, but sent a stern message to maintain law and order.

The Animal Welfare Board along with other animal activist had moved the Supreme Court against the new law passed by Tamil Nadu for resumption of Jallikattu. The plea filed by the organisation challenges the law passed by the Tamil Nadu government and said the law violates the 2014 judgement of the court which has banned the sport and declared it inherently cruel towards bulls.

The amendment by the Tamil Nadu government was brought in last week to defuse the raging protest at Marina Beach for its revival.
16:38   A probe into the mic malfunction in Parliament today
Former minister of state for external affairs and Indian Union Muslim League MP E. Ahamed, who collapsed during President Pranab Mukherjee's address to both Houses of Parliament today, is said to be in a critical condition.

He has been currently kept on life support system at the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in New Delhi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier inquired about Ahamed's health.

Ahamed collapsed while President Pranab Mukherjee addressed the Parliament in a joint session of both houses at the budget session which begins today.

During the hour-long address, the President sipped water at least 16 times (yes, we counted) and found it seemingly difficult to articulate as there were some words missing in his speech. The speech was packed with statistics backing the achievements of the government.

The public address system in the Central Hall of Parliament screeched disturbing the start of the President's speech. The Lok Sabha secretariat has ordered an internal inquiry into the lapse.

As the president enumerated the government's achievements, the Prime Minister thumped his desk repeatedly and especially so when the surgical strikes and demonetisation were mentioned.

India's concerns conveyed both to the US administration and the US Congress at senior levels: MEA on US government's reform of H1-B visa.
16:04   Only credible crackdown proof of Pak's sincerity: MEA on Hafiz Saeed detention
The government reacts to reports of 26/11 mastermind Hafeez Saeed's detention. "We have noted that Hafiz Saeed and four others have been placed under preventive detention. Exercises such as yesterdays orders against Hafiz Saeed and others have been carried out by Pakistan in the past also," said  Vikas Swarup, MEA spokesperson. "Only a credible crackdown on terror outfits will be proof of Pakistan's sincerity," says MEA.

Amid pressure on Pakistan from the Trump administration, Mumbai attack mastermind and Jammat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed and four others were tonight put under detention in the Punjab Province of the Pakistan. Punjab governments Home Department issued the detention order of Saeed and Lahore Police reached JuD headquarters in Chauburji to implement the order, JuD said.

JuD has already been declared as a foreign terrorist organisation by the United States in June 2014. Saeed also carries a reward of USD 10 million announced by the US for his role in terror activities.

Sensex falls 193.60 points to end at 27,655.96.
15:35   Tax man wants you if ...
I-T Dept identifies 18 lakh people whose deposits post note ban do not match with their tax-paying profile: Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia.

Tax department to send e-mail, SMS to those whose deposits don't match payment profile to enquire about such deposits. Notices will be sent if e-mail, SMS queries are either not responded to or response is unsatisfactory.

Prepaid mobile internet services restored in Kashmir, six months after suspension due to turmoil following Burhan Wani's killing: PTI
15:23   Chitra Subramaniam joins Republic TV
Chitra Subramaniam @chitraSD Pleased to announce that I will be collaborating with #arnabgoswami and his new venture @republic TV as Editorial Adviser.

Chitra Subramaniam is known for her investigation of the Bofors scandal which contributed to the electoral defeat of former PM Rajiv Gandhi in 1989.
15:19   Politicians are demanding to see Melania Trump's immigration documents
A California state senator has called for the White House to release Melania Trump's immigration documents as part of an objection to President Donald Trump's hardline immigration policies.

The immigration status of Slovenian-born Ms Trump -- who travelled to the US in 1996 to pursue her modelling career -- has previously come under intense scrutiny. An investigation by The Associated Press in November found that the First Lady was paid for 10 modelling jobs in the US before she had the right to work there.  Read more
15:11   Shivpal Yadav to form new party on March 11 after UP polls
Just in: UP CM Akhilesh Yadav's uncle says he will form a new party and will campaign for those who have not been given a ticket by Akhilesh. "Many strong SP candidates have not been given a ticket," he says. "I had requested Akhilesh to let Netaji (Mulayam Singh Yadav) remain the party chief, but both Netaji and I were targetted by Akhilesh."

Shivpal said he will form the new party on March 11. UP goes to the polls in seven phases beginning February 11 and ending March 8. Shivpal, who filed his nomination from Jaswantnagar, said he is contesting the polls on the Samajwadi Party's ticket.

Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav has made it clear that he disapproves of the alliance between the SP's Akhilesh Yadav-led faction and the Congress party and categorically stated that he would not campaign in Uttar Pradesh.

When asked to comment on Mulayam's statement, Shivpal responded, "I am with Netaji."

Earlier on January 29, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Uttar Pradesh Akhilesh Yadav in their maiden outing in Lucknow hugged and shook hands besides donning colour coordinated jackets.

Gandhi dominated the interaction comparing the alliance between the Samajwadi Party and Congress with the confluence of the rivers of Ganga and Yamuna that join at 'sangam' to form the river Saraswati.
14:34   Full remonetisation in 2 months: CEA
Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian addresses the media after tabling of the Economic Survey. The Economic Survey projects the official version of the state of the economy and is presented in Parliament a day before the presentation of the annual Budget. It acts as a precursor to the budget. It discusses the outlook, prospects and challenges of the economy while recommending reform measures that are essential to propel and thrive the economy.

Subramanian begins by thanking his "fantastic boss", the finance minister Arun Jaitley. Alludes to Amitabh Bachchan saying the budget should have drama. He says the past year has had robust macroeconomic stability but  full remonetisation is essential. Tax harassment and arbitrariness could hurt credibility. He said demonetisation is an unusual experiment and no models exist.

On demonetisation: "There were hardships, but it will have long term benefits. Demonetisation has actually affected different forms of money very differently. What demonetisation has done is both simultaneously reduced supply of cash, but by the same token it has increased supply of deposits. Economic & policy climate uncertainty in the short term. Macro economic stability absolutely fundamental to anything the government wants to do," says the CEA.

Halfway through his discourse on the Economic Survey, Arvind Subramanian asks his audience what were the interest levels. After getting "excellent" as a response, Subramanian says, "Good, I'm just getting warmed up."

He said it's not appropriate to do a before-after analysis of GDP growth, with respect to demonetisation. Full remonetisation, says the CEA, is essential and is expected in a month or so.

India's economic growth has been pegged at 6.5 per cent for the current fiscal, down from 7.6 per cent recorded in the last financial year, but is expected to rebound in the range of 6.75-7.5 per cent in 2017-18.

For all Arvind Subramanian fans: The CEA speaks to Dr Prannoy Roy on NDTV at 9 pm today.

Read the Economic Survey 2017 here
13:57   MP who collapsed in Parl on life support
Just in: Condition of IUML MP E Ahamed who was rushed to the hospital from Parliament is critical, presently on life support system.

Ahamed fainted during the President Pranab Mukherjee's speech in Parliament this afternoon. He was rushed to hospital.  Ahamed served in the Manmohan Singh government and represents the Malappuram Lok Sabha constituency of Kerala. He is 79. The President spoke for over an hour addressing both houses of Parliament ahead of the Budget session tomorrow.

The seven major reform achievements over the past year: CEA Arvind Subramanian.   
13:32   After sacking attorney gen, Trump fires acting Immigration Enforcement head
US President Donald Trump has appointed Thomas D Homan as the new acting director of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, replacing Daniel Ragsdale.

According to the Washington Post, no reason has been given for his removal as yet.

Ragsdale was a holdover from the Obama administration.

Earlier today, Trump had fired the federal government's top lawyer, Sally Yates, after she took the extraordinarily rare step of defying the White House and saying that the Justice Department would not defend his new travel restrictions targeting seven Muslim-majority nations.

Mark A. Morgan, the chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, also was removed from his post this month. He had clashed with the powerful Border Patrol Union, which had endorsed Trump for president.

Homan, who has 30 years of immigration enforcement experience, had worked since 2013 as the executive associate director of ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations. He was honored with an award last year for his work deporting illegal immigrants.
13:24   H1B Bill tabled in US Congress, Indian IT companies' stocks crash
Just in: A legislation has been introduced in the US House of Representatives which among other things calls for more than doubling the minimum salary of H-1B visa holders to USD 130,000, making it difficult for firms to use the programme to replace American employees with foreign workers, including from India.Stocks of Indian IT companies crash by between 5 and 10 per cent.

After the new US president banned refugees and travellers from seven predominantly Muslim countries, Trump's next step -- the H1B visa bill --  strikes closer to home.

A legislation has been introduced in the US House of Representatives which among other things calls for more than doubling the minimum salary of H-1B visa holders to $130,000, making it difficult for firms to use the programme to replace American employees with foreign workers, including from India.

The High-Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act of 2017 introduced by California Congressman Zoe Lofgren prioritises market based allocation of visas to those companies willing to pay 200 per cent of a wage calculated by survey, eliminates the category of lowest pay, and raises the salary level at which H-1B dependent employer are exempt from non displacement and recruitment attestation requirements to greater than $130,000.

This is more than double of the current H-1B minimum wage of $60,000 which was established in 1989 and since then has remained unchanged.
12:57   India GDP 7.1%, says Economic Survey
BREAKING: India's GDP growth rate at constant market prices for the current year 2016-17 is placed at 7.1 percent: Economic Survey
12:41   Obama spent his first week in office championing women's rights
During President Donald Trump's first weeks in office, the newly-launched Obama Foundation is looking back on the former president's legacy through storytelling. This week, eight years after the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the foundation is featuring a story from Lilly Ledbetter herself.
Read more
12:25   Obama's 1st statement since he left office criticises Trump's immigration policy
This is the first press statement issued by the office of Barack Obama after he left the office 10 days ago.

Breaking his silence over his successor Donald Trump's immigration policies, former US president Barack Obama on Tuesday said he disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion.

"With regard to comparisons to President Obama's foreign policy decisions, as we've heard before the President fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion," Obama's spokesman Kevin Lewis said in a statement.

This is the first press statement issued by the office of Barack Obama after he left the office 10 days ago.

Lewis said Obama is heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country.

"In his final office speech as President. He spoke about the important role of citizen and how all Americans have a responsibility to be the guardians of our democracy -- not just during an election but every day," he said.

"Citizens exercising their constitutional right to assemble, organise and have their voices heard by their elected official is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake," Lewis said.

Trump's executive order bars citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for the next 90 days, suspends the admission of all refugees for 120 days and indefinitely suspends the Syrian refugee programme.

Former presidents walk a fine line between staying political engaged and avoiding knocking their successor, CNN said.

President George W Bush, for example, remained markedly silent on politics during Mr. Obama's eight years in office.But Mr. Obama's relationship with Trump is different, and his statement made clear that the former president will stay engaged and outspoken on political action, it said.
Just in: Tamil Nadu government announces an inquiry commission to go into violence during pro-Jallikattu protests in the state.
12:15   Minister in UPA govt faints in Parliament during Prez speech
Just in: Former external affairs minister E Ahamed faints during the President's speech in Parliament. He was rushed to hospital.  Ahamed served in the Manmohan Singh government and represents the Malappuram Lok Sabha constituency of Kerala. He is 79. The President spoke for over an hour.

President Pranab Mukherjee addressed Parliament in a joint session of both houses as is customary ahead of the budget session which begins today. Despite opposition of parties, the government advanced the budget presentation to February 1, which it said would ensure important policy changes are implemented by April 1 when the new fiscal year begins. The economic survey will be tabled today by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who will present the Union Budget tomorrow. In a first, the Rail Budget has also been merged with the union budget.

Image: A TV grab of the former union minister E Ahamed being taken to hospital.

12:00   Demonetisation, surgical strikes, women Olympians... Prez lists govt's achievements
President Mukherjee addresses both Houses of Parliament. Highlights...

-- Financial inclusion is key to poverty alleviation. Resilience demonstrated by our countrymen particularly the poor, in the fight against black money and corruption, is remarkable. At the core of all my Govt policies, is the welfare of 'gareeb', 'peedit', 'Dalit', 'vanchhi.

-- An unprecedented 26 crore plus Jan Dhan accounts have been opened for the unbanked.

-- Janashakti has transformed Swachh Bharat Mission into a jan-andolan.

-- My government is guided by the Antyodaya philosophy of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay.

-- Garib Kalyan government's core policy.

-- Voluntarily giving up LPG connection has helped the poor.

-- Under Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana, over Rs 16000 crore have been made available to SHGs in the current Financial Year.

-- Over Rs 2 Lakh Crore has been provided through 5.6 crore loans sanctioned under Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana.

-- To take the banking system to the doorstep of the poor and unbanked, the Indian Postal Payment Bank has been started.

-- Close to 13 crore poor have been covered under various social security schemes.

-- 37 percent of the Ujjwala beneficiaries belong to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

-- The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana will make clean energy accessible to the poor.

-- Swachh Bharat Abhiyan aims to ensure health and sanitation, particularly for the poor.

-- 11000 of 18000 villages which were in darkness since independence electrified in record time.

-- My govt is making 'naari shakti' an integral part of our development journey, they deserve equal opportunities. PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik, Deepa Karmakar illustrate strength of our women.

-- By year end, all the meter gauge tracks in the North East will be converted into broad gauge lines.

-- The govt is committed to social and economic equality for the deprived and disempowered sections as enshrined in the Constitution

-- Nationwide network of 50 India International Skill Centres is being established with the objective of providing training of global standards to the youth.

-- Increased quota for disabled.

-- 37 per cent of 1.5 crore beneficiaries of Ujjwala scheme to provide free LPG cylinder to the poor, belong to the SC/ST category.

-- To combat evils of black money, corruption, govt took decision to demonetise Rs 500, 1000 notes.

-- Our defence forces successfully conducted surgical strike to prevent infiltration by terrorists. We are proud of the forces, and the exemplary courage and valour displayed by them.

-- Implementation of the 7th Pay Commission has benefited 50 lakh employees and 35 lakh pensioners.

-- The revision of Maternity Benefit Act will support pregnant women at the workplace.
11:57   Shiva Sena asks MNS not to field candidates in BMC polls
In other news:  The Shiv Sena on Tuesday asked the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena not to field candidates in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation elections if it is offering 'unconditional' support to the BJP. "If it doesn't field candidates then we believe MNS is thinking for 'Marathi manus' else it's apparent that MNS is BJP's B team," the Shiv Sena said in a statement.

The Shiv Sena has ruled out any alliance with the MNS.

Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has indicated that he was not keen on any rapprochement with estranged cousin Raj Thackeray.

A day after MNS leader Bala Nandgaonkar went to Matoshree (Uddhav's residence) seeking an alliance, the Sena chief said: "I have not received any proposal. Anyway, the Sena is all prepared to go solo and we will win across Maharashtra."

The MNS leader, earlier on Sunday, was not granted an audience by Uddhav and hence he had to be content meeting Sena leaders like Anil Desai, to whom he proposed an informal alliance.

The proposal would include the MNS not fielding any candidates
PM Narendra Modi listens in. 
11:33   Prez addresses India's lawmakers
The President is addressing a joint session of Parliament, with all parties, except the Trinamool Congress marking their presence. For the first time the Union Budget will be presented on February 1 instead of the usual February 28. Also, for the first time, there will be no separate Rail Budget from this financial year.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi at Parliament. 
11:04   Historic joint budget, says Prez
President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari and Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and both houses of Parliament stand for the national anthem. The President begins his address to the joint session of Parliament. "It's a historic session where the railway budget is being merged with the Union Budget for the first time since Independence," the President said.
11:00   President set to address Parl shortly
President Pranab Mukherjee enters Parliament House where he will address both the houses. President set to address Parliament shortly.

Image: President Mukherjee rides to Parliament House from Rashtrapati Bhavan in a ceremonial horse-drawn carriage.
10:50   PM on Budget session: Encourage all parties to discuss and debate
PM Narendra Modi speaking outside Parliament House before tabling of the Economic Survey. He said the government is ready to talk about all issues including demonetisation. "We are bringing the budget a month earlier and combining it with the railway budget," the PM said. The PM said a productive and detailed discussion of the budget should be done and hoped the budget session was fruitful.

Union minister Venkaiah Naidu said the budget will not be state specific and to a question on whether the TMC's boycott of the budget would affect proceedings, Naidu asked how can anyone ignore the budget. He said the government has had discussions with parties individually and collectively.

The Budget Session will begin today with President Pranab Mukherjee addressing a joint session of Parliament. The government will later table the Economic Survey of India. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is scheduled to present the Union Budget on February 1.

This will be for the first time that Union Budget will be presented on February 1 instead of the usual February 28. Also, for the first time, there will be no separate Rail Budget from this financial year.

It will be a challenging task for the finance minister as he will be presenting the Budget less three months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's gamble of banning Rs 500, 1000 notes from circulation. Experts say Jaitley will likely offer modest tax concessions and ramp up spending to ease the pain caused by demonetisation.   
10:37   Trump's next immigration move will hit Indian IT hard
US President Donald Trump is expected to sign a new executive order aimed at strangulating work-visa programmes, including the H1B and L1 visas used by Indian IT professionals, as part of a larger immigration reform effort, a top White House official has said.

The executive order drafted by the Trump Administration not only strangulates H-1B and L1 visas, but also increases inspection and ends employment authorisation cards to spouses on such work visas, which was recently introduced by the previous Obama Administration.

The draft of the order was leaked and published by some news websites yesterday.

"I think with respect to H1Bs and other visa is part of a larger immigration reform effort that the President will continue to talk about through executive order and through working with Congress," White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters at his daily news conference.

"You've already seen a lot of action on immigration and I think whether it's that or the spousal visas or other type of visas, I think there's an overall need to look at all of these programmes. You'll see both through executive action and through comprehensive measures a way to address immigration as a whole and the visa programme," Spicer said
The 12th Raising Day celebration of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) will be held in the national capital on Tuesday.

On this occasion, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh will present the Jeevan Raksha Padak awards and Distinguished Service Medals to the NDRF personnel.He will also release the NDRF pictorial book and souvenir to mark the occasion.

The NDRF raised on January, 2006, is a specialised force capable of responding to any type of disaster in the country and abroad.

It is strategically deployed across the nation as per the vulnerability profile of the country.

The NDRF provided relief and rescue operations in a number of disasters including floods, train accidents, building collapse incidents, landslides in various parts of the country during the last year.

Over the years, the NDRF has proved itself a vibrant force in the country which provides prompt assistance in search and rescue, mass evacuation and immediate relief to victims in case of natural or man-made disasters.

So far, the NDRF has responded to over one thousand operations and rescued around four lakh 73 thousand victims.

File pic of the Raising Day celebrations in 2015
10:26   Trumps Muslim ban is already backfiring
Despite incessant complaints about presidential overreach during Barack Obama's tenure in the White House, many Republicans are now embracing Donald Trump's flurry of executive orders. As the entire world has now noticed, one of these orders has implemented an immigration and travel ban that targets the Muslim-majority countries of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Sudan and Syria.It also has suspended the US Refugee Admissions Program, which is responsible for overseeing the transfer of refugees to the United States. Although Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham have criticized the "Muslim ban,' many other leading GOP figures are staying quiet. Read more
10:25   Demonetisation: A monumental blunder
The one rationale for demonetization that was commonly accepted as legitimate was its presumed attack on 'black money'. The other two reasons advanced for it by the government, namely eliminating counterfeit currency and facilitating the move to a cashless economy, scarcely carried credibility. The total value of counterfeit currency was minuscule: a study by the Indian Statistical Institute and the National Investigation Agency put it at only Rs 400 crore, or 0.022 per cent of the total value of currency in the country. And tagging the move towards a cashless economy as an argument for demonetization was neither ethically nor practically defensible.

It was ethically indefensible since the government was not only forcing people's choice of the medium of circulation, but was also pushing them from costless transactions, which cash transactions are, towards costly transactions, owing to charges by banks and fintech companies on digital and other non-cash transactions, and, thereby, boosting the latter's profits at the expense of the people. It was also practically indefensible because given the poor connectivity and literacy among the people, digitization of transactions was a pipe dream. Read more
10:06   Arnab changes channel's name to 'Republic TV'
Television journalist Arnab Goswami, whose television venture Republic came under fire from BJP leader Subramanian Swamy for falling foul of the Emblems and Names Act, has written to the information and broadcasting ministry informing it of its change of name to Republic TV.   

In an application filed on January 28, 2017, to Manmeet Kaur, under-secretary in the I&B ministry, Goswami, managing director and editor-in-chief of ARG Outlier Media, has requested that 'all references to 'Republic' in our uplinking-downlinking application be construed as references to 'Republic TV' forthwith'.   

You can see the application here.
09:53   White House considers reversing LGBT protections for federal workers
The White House is embroiled in a debate over whether to reverse some key protections that the Obama administration extended to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers, according to several people briefed on the process.

A draft of a potential executive order began circulating in Washington over the weekend that would overturn President Barack Obamas directive barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the federal workforce and by federal contractors.
09:39   Will SC strike down TN's Jallikattu law today?
The Supreme Court will hear today several pleas regarding the controversial bull-taming sport Jallikattu, including the one by the Animal Welfare Board of India seeking the Tamil nadu government's recently enacted law on the sport to be made invalid.  

The plea termed the amendment a "fraud" on the Constitution and a violation of a 2014 Supreme Court judgment, which had declared Jallikattu as an "inherently cruel" event practised on bulls. 

It further described jallikattu as an "extremely violent" event where untrained persons either volunteer or are "coerced" into taming or fighting terrified bulls agitated by the organisers and the crowd. 

The apex court had, on November 16 last year, rejected the plea of the Tamil Nadu government seeking a review of its 2014 judgement which had banned the use of bulls for Jallikattu events. 

After hearing various petitioners and respondents in the case, a division bench of the top court, headed by Justice Dipak Misra and also comprising Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, dismissed the state government's review petition. 

The Tamil Nadu assembly on January 23 unanimously passed the new Jallikattu law revoking the ban on the bull-taming sport.
09:28   I-T department raids Nirav Modis offices and residences
The Income Tax department has raided over 50 offices and residential premises of Nirav Modi, one of Indias top diamond merchants, and seized cash, jewellery and several documents that allegedly reveal tax evasion by Modis firms, said sources familiar with the investigation.

According to sources, the raids were carried out over 10 days ago and lasted for over four days, covering Modis office and residences in Mumbai, premises in Delhi, Jaipur and SEZ units in Surat.

The tax department is probing over half-a-dozen firms of Modi, including Firestar Diamond International Pvt Ltd, Firestar International and Stellar Diamond among others. Modis firms are suspected to have received money from shell companies through real time gross settlement, according to sources.
JUST IN: Trump replaces acting US immigration and customs chief
09:07   Murdered Pune techie had complained about guard to Infosys
Rasila Raju OP, the Infosys engineer who was found strangled at her work place in Pune on Sunday, was working alone in her ninth-floor office on a weekend when a watchman allegedly approached her on the pretext of fixing a computer cable and later murdered her.

Police arrested a private guard on Monday for the murder of the 25-year-old techie and recounted the murder after catching the fugitive Bhaben Saikia, a 26-year-old from Assam, from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus at Mumbai early on Monday.

According to deputy commissioner of police Ganesh Shinde, entry into the office is restricted and Saikia could enter the office only because he followed Rasila, who gained access using a swipe card, to her workstation on the pretext of fixing the LAN cable and noting down her computers serial number.

The guards presence made her uncomfortable. He was staring, provoking her to warn that she would complain against him for stalking her. He then asked Rasila not to complain against him for staring at her the previous day, Shinde said.

When she refused to back off leading to an argument, he pulled out the cable and strangulated her in a fit of rage. The guard also hit her face with his shoes, injuring her nose, said Shinde. As it was a Sunday, there was no one in the office on the ninth floor of the Infosys facility.
08:35   Yogi Adityanath backs seeks Trump-like immigration order in India
Firebrand BJP leader Yogi Adityanth applauded US 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.

He said, "Similar action is needed to contain terror activities in this country."

On Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav voicing his displeasure over the tie-up between SP and Congress, Adityanath claimed that Mulayam is "afraid" that the alliance would alienate the backward cast people from Samajwadi Party.
08:07   Trump fires acting attorney general who defied him on travel ban
He means business!

US President Donald Trump has fired Attorney General Sally Yates for defying him on the travel ban that restricts immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries -- Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Somalia. 

Earlier, Yates had told Justice Department lawyers not to make legal arguments defending President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration and refugees.

"My responsibility is to ensure that the position of the Department of Justice is not only legally defensible, but is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of all the facts," she said in a letter. "In addition, I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution's solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right."

"At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful," Yates wrote.
00:24   Trump to announce Supreme Court judge nominee today
United States President Donald Trump will announce his Supreme Court judge nominee today. He said his pick is 'highly respected' and people will be 'very impressed' with the person.

'I have made my decision on who I will nominate for The United States Supreme Court,' Trump said in a tweet.

The announcement would be made live from the White House at 8 pm tomorrow (on Tuesday), Trump said.

Later at an executive order signing ceremony, Trump described his Supreme Court nomination as a big decision.

"We have a big decision that I've made, very big decision on the United States Supreme Court that is going to be announced tomorrow night from the White House at eight o'clock," he said.

"A person who is unbelievably highly respected and I think you will be very impressed with this person," Trump said.

Trump's pick is going to come from his short list of 21 candidates, which he had announced during the general elections.

One of them is Indian-American Amul Thapar. The other candidates in the list include William Pryor, Diane Sykes, Raymond Kethledge, Joan Larsen, Steve Colloton, Neil Gorsuch, Mike Lee, Don Willett, David Stras, Thomas Hardiman, Raymond Gruender and Margaret Tyan.