Wed, 21 June 2017
More soldiers died in Valley than in wars since independence: LS speaker

Timeline  Refresh

23:43   More soldiers died in Valley than in wars since independence: LS speaker
More soldiers have sacrificed their lives in Kashmir than those who died in various wars since independence, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said on Wednesday.
She was speaking at an event organised by RSS's communication wing Indraprastha Vishwa Samvad Kendra in New Delhi to award journalists.
"More soldiers have sacrificed their lives in the Kashmir Valley so far than the number of security personnel who died in various wars since independence," she said.
The speaker also asked the media to maintain credibility in their reportage, adding that the Fourth Estate should be unbiased and research before presenting facts.
The sangh's Akhil Bhartitya Sah Prachar Pramukh, Arun Kumar, said one has started thinking from western perspective.
But now the IVSK is working to change this among journalists, he said. 
23:31   Kenneth Juster to become USA's new ambassador to India
Kenneth I Juster, a top aide of United States President Donald Trump, is set to be America's new ambassador to India, the White House said today.
Juster, who is the Deputy Assistant to the US president for International Economic Affairs and Deputy Director of his National Economic Council, would replace Richard Verma if nominated and confirmed by the Senate.
"Ken Juster's move to Indian Ambassador is because he is extremely qualified for the position," White House deputy spokesperson Lindsay E Walters said.
"Ken has a strong and positive relationship with everyone in the White House, including the president," Walters said.
The move has been welcomed by widely respected Ashley Telis, the top India expert in the US.
23:24   PM Modi thanks those who participated in Yoga Day
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed gratitude to the people across the world who participated in the International Day of Yoga.
The third IYD was celebrated across the world, with lakhs of people bending, stretching and twisting their bodies to different yogic asanas.
Modi himself led over 50,000 yoga enthusiasts in performing 'asanas' in Lucknow this morning amid showers.
"Thank you to people across the world who took part in #YogaDay2017 programmes in their countries. The support to Yoga is deeply appreciated," the prime minister tweeted.
On the UN-declared day, lakhs of people performed yoga in all major cities of India as well various parts of the world, including New York, the Trafalgar Square in London and the Great Wall in China.
Addressing the participants in Lucknow, Modi said yoga, which connects body with mind and intelligence, was today playing an important role in connecting the whole world with India. 
23:10   11 new judges appinted for Madras, Chhattisgarh, Punjab and Haryana high courts
Eleven judges to three high courts have been appointed.
The fresh appointments -- six in the Madras high court, three in the high court of Chhattisgarh and two in Punjab and Haryana-- come at a time when the government and the judiciary continue to have differences over a key document which guides nomination of judges to the Supreme Court and the 24 high courts.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had recently said that appointment of judges will continue despite non finalisation of memorandum of procedure.
The Ministry of Law and Justice, in a notification issued today, said that the President has appointed V Bhavani Subbaroyan, A D Jagadish Chandira, G R Swaminathan, Abdul Quddhose, M Dhandapani and Daivasigamani Audikesavalu as additional judges for a period of two years in the Madras high court.
Justice Subbaroyan will be the lone woman judge in the high court having total strength of 75.
The Madras high court will still have 20 vacancies after this latest appointment.
Before the announcement, the Punjab and Haryana high court had the highest vacancies of judges with 39 against the sanctioned posts of 85 while the Chhattisgarh high court had 11 vacant posts against sanctioned strength of 22. 
As on May 1, the 24 high courts had 450 vacancies. While the sanctioned strength is 1,079, the working strength is 629 judges. 

22:55   Gun battle breaks out in Pulwama district of Kashmir
A gunbattle broke out this evening between security forces and militants in an area of Pulwama district of south Kashmir, police said. 

Security forces launched a cordon-and-search operation in Kakapora area of Pulwama around 6 pm following information about presence of militants there, a police official said.

As the security forces were conducting the searches, they were fired upon by some hiding militants, he said.

The security forces retaliated, triggering a gunbattle which was going on till last reports came in, the official said.

There were no reports of any casualties on either side so far.
22:24   Secy-level bureaucratic reshuffle: Rajiv Gauba next Home Secy
Urban Development Secretary Rajiv Gauba was today named as the next Home Secretary to succeed Rajiv Mehrishi, who completes his term on August 30.
Besides him, 16 new secretaries have been appointed to various central government departments as part of a major top-level bureaucratic reshuffle effected today.      

Gauba, a 1982 batch IAS officer of Jharkhand cadre, will take over as the Officer on Special Duty in the Union home ministry with immediate effect, an order issued by Department of Personnel and Training said.
He will take over as the home secretary from August 31, it said.
Gauba has served in the home ministry as joint and additional secretary where he looked after the crucial Naxal division.
Durga Shanker Mishra will replace Gauba as the Urban Development Secretary. He is now the Additional Secretary in the same ministry.
Culture Secretary N K Sinha will be the new Information and Broadcasting Secretary in place of Ajay Mittal, who has been moved as DoPT secretary. DoPT Secretary B P Sharma retires this month-end.
Senior bureaucrat Subhash C Garg, Executive Director in the World Bank, will be the new Department of Economic Affairs Secretary, a post that had fallen vacant after the retirement of Shaktikanta Das.
Aruna Sundararajan will be the new Telecom Secretary. She is at present the Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
NHAI chief Yudhvir Singh Malik has been appointed the Road, Transport and Highways Secretary.

21:28   GST effect: AC, first class train fares to go up marginally
With the goods and services tax coming into effect from July 1, train passengers will have to pay a bit more to travel AC and first class.
Service tax on ticket charges is set to hike from 4.5 per cent to 5 per cent after the GST implementation.
Service tax is levied only on AC and first class travel fares in the Railways. So if a ticket costs Rs 2000, then a passenger will have to shell out Rs 2010 from the next month, said a senior railway ministry official.
Gearing up for the GST roll-out from from July 1, the Railways has appointed nodal officer in each state to ensure smooth transition into the new single tax regime.
A consultant has been appointed for examining the impact of the GST in the Indian Railways, the official said.
Since GST registration is based on PAN details, Railways has already got its PAN.
21:17   Army to deploy 2 mnore battalions in South Kashmir
Two additional battalions -- a total of 2000 men -- of the army will be sent as reinforcement to four troubled districts of Jammu and Kashmir, officials said on Wednesday.
With the presence of additional forces in Kulgam, Anantnag, Shopian and Pulwama, some army camps in Shopian and Pulwama will be revived again, they said.
The officials said the two additional battalions, which have already started moving to Kashmir, will be posted to some of the more vulnerable areas of the four districts. 
Major General B S Raju, General officer Command of the Army's Victor Force, whose area of responsibility is South Kashmir, surveyed the region, which has often been described as "ground zero" because of increased militant activities there.
The officials said the army camps had been set up to help locals who were "possibly intimidated" by the militants.
Have decided to support NDA's presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind, says Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palanisamy.
21:07   India's population to surpass China's around 2024, says UN
India's population could surpass that of China's around 2024, two years later than previously estimated, and is projected to touch 1.5 billion in 2030, according to a United Nations forecast.
The World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision, published by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said that currently China with 1.41 billion inhabitants and India with 1.34 billion remain the two most populous countries, comprising 19 and 18 per cent of the total global population.
"In roughly seven years, or around 2024, the population of India is expected to surpass that of China," the report said.
The 2017 Revision of World Population Prospects is the 25th round of official UN population estimates and projections.
In its 24th round of estimates released in 2015, it was projected that the population of India will surpass that of China's by 2022.
The new estimates released on Wednesday said that in 2024, India and China are expected to have roughly a population of 1.44 billion each. After that, Indias population is projected to continue growing for several decades to around 1.5 billion in 2030 and approaching 1.66 billion in 2050, while the population of China is projected to remain stable until the 2030s, after which it may begin a slow decline.
Indias population may eventually see a decline in the half century after 2050 to 1.51 billion by 2100 but it will still be the most populous country in the world.
In India, life expectancy at birth will be 71 years in 2025-2030, growing to 74.2 years in 2045-2050. The under-five mortality rate will decline from 32.3 deaths under age five per 1,000 live births in 2025-2030 to 18.6 in 2045-2050. 
The report said the current world population of 7.6 billion is expected to reach 8.6 billion in 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100.
21:04   Uttarakhand: Muslim minors held for shouting pro-Pak slogans
Three Muslim boys, all minors, were held in the hill town of Mussoorie for allegedly shouting pro-Pakistan slogans after the Indian cricket team lost the ICC Champions Trophy final, the police said.
The three minors were arrested after an FIR was lodged against them following complaints by locals, according to a police official.
They were  produced in a juvenile court, yesterday, which sent them to a juvenile home, sub-inspector Rajiv Routhen, who is looking into the case, told PTI.

The young trio allegedly shouted "Pakistan Zindabad" after India lost the match to Pakistan in the ICC Champions Trophy final, the FIR said.
The police refused to give more information saying the accused were juveniles and nothing more could be said about the matter.
In Madhya Pradesh also the police had arrested 15 persons on charges of sedition for allegedly shouting pro-Pakistan slogans after its cricket team won the tournament on Sunday.
20:37   A Hindu can never be a terrorist, says controversial BJP leader Anil Vij
Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij on Wednesday said there cannot be any term like 'Hindu terrorism', and added that a Hindu can never be a terrorist.

"A Hindu cannot be a terrorist. There cannot be any term like 'Hindu terrorism'. Hindu, by nature, can never be a terrorist. If Hindus had been terrorists, then no other terrorists can have existed," Vij told ANI.

Speaking on the 2007 Samjhauta Express blast case where 68 people were killed, the BJP leader said it's a very serious issue that the two people arrested from Pakistan in the matter have been released while the people from India are still treated as terrorists and call it 'Hindu terrorism'.

"This is a game played by the Congress party, and I believe on their instructions, these Pakistanis were released. They are freely roaming now and I think this party's aim was to establish the political scenario," he added.

Vij further said that a Hindu, by nature, can never be a terrorist.

"If Hindus had been terrorists, then no other terrorists have existed. However, because of political reasons, Congress party wanted to create Hindu terrorism to counter terrorism created where Muslim terrorists are involved," he asserted.
19:51   Kumble-Kohli communication had stopped six months ago?
The BCCI top brass had an inkling that all was not well between coach Anil Kumble and captain Virat Kohli but they were taken aback when they got to know that the duo had not been on talking terms for the "last six months".

Another important thing that has come out in the open was that the Chief Advisory Committee, comprising Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman, also didn't straightaway give the green light to Kumble's extension.

"There had been reports that the CAC had okayed Kumble's extension. They had okayed his extension but with a rider. They had said that Kumble should be retained provided all pending issues are resolved," a senior BCCI official, who was present in London during the whole episode, told PTI.

Post the ICC Champions Trophy final, there were three separate meetings at the Indian team's hotel.

The first was where Kumble met the BCCI top brass and members of CAC followed by Kohli meeting them.

The last and the most "eventful" meeting was when Kohli and Kumble were made to sit across the table. The talks failed completely as there was no communication.
NDA's presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind meets veteran BJP leader LK Advani at his residence in Delhi. 
19:07   Withdraw from GST ad, Congress asks BigB
Senior Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam today urged Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan to withdraw from the goods and services campaign to avoid getting targeted by traders later.

The government has roped in Bachchan to promote the GST, ahead of the scheduled July 1 rollout of the sweeping tax reforms.

The Central Board of Excise and Customs will be making the 74-year-old actor brand ambassador for the GST.

A 40-second video featuring him has already been shot and is being circulated.

"The GST was a brilliant idea thought of by the Congress. It is another story that the BJP opposed it all the while it was in the opposition. But after coming to power, it started diluting the basic concepts of the GST, and that was not acceptable to us," Nirupam told reporters in Mumbai.

While the Congress sought GST as a single tax for the entire nation, the BJP introduced four tax slabs and three different sub-types of GST, he said.

"It has become very complicated now. Traders and service providers are required to fill three long forms every month. Thus, the basic purpose of the GST is defeated. This is unlike the way the GST has been implemented in other countries," he said.

"Some people are creating a confusion that we are opposing the same GST that we passed. But this is not true. We have always been for the GST but not in this format.

"We tried for three years to get our reservations noticed by the government but they (the BJP) then started maligning us so we had to pass it," Nirupam said.

"That is why I am suggesting Amitabh Bachchan should not be a party to every foolishness of the BJP. You (Bachchan)are a known person and have a wonderful reputation which may get maligned if there is a backlash from traders," he said.

"Being your fan, I suggest that you withdraw yourself from the GST campaign," the Congress leader said.  -- PTI
18:29   Former World No 1 Boris Becker declared bankrupt
Tennis champion Boris Becker has been declared bankrupt by the London high court.

The decision came after a failure to pay long-standing debt, according to reports in the English media.

Lawyers for the three-time Wimbledon winner pleaded with a Bankruptcy Court registrar in London on Wednesday for 'a last chance' to pay a long-standing debt, The Telegraph wrote. -- Agencies
18:23   Lalu differs with Nitish, will support Opposition prez nominee
Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo Lalu Prasad on Wednesday said his party will go with other opposition parties in their choice for a presidential candidate.

"We will go with the decision of opposition parties, which will meet in New Delhi tomorrow," he told reporters.

Lalu brushed aside questions on the Janata Dal-United extending support to National Democratic Alliance's pick for the president's post, former Bihar governor Ram Nath Kovind.

The RJD supremo had earlier flayed the NDA for not consulting opposition parties and evolve a consensus on the presidential election.

The Congress has refused support to Kovind's candidature and said the opposition will put up its own presidential candidate.  -- PTI
18:15   The real reason why the Monsoon session of parliament has not been announced
The monsoon session of Parliament, normally in July, is yet to be announced. Generally, the session is announced in June.

The Union Cabinet sub committee on Parliamentary Affairs which recommends the dates to the President of India to summon the Monsoon session, has deferred its decision of convening Parliament on July 18, so that Members of Parliament can vote for the Presidential election, which will take place  inside Parliament house.

But babudom has another version.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keen to have the calendar year (January to December) as the financial year and wants to implement it from 2018.

North Block, which houses the Union Ministry of Finance is apparently getting its act together to institute the change.

If the financial year and the calendar year are the same, the Union Budget is also likely to be moved to the second half of November 2017.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his 2017 Budget announced that the government is considering a change in the financial year.

Financial wizard, Shankar Acharya, who headed a four-member committee to study the implications of a change in financial year has submitted its report.

The Prime Minister alone will take a call on this, and not the members of the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary affairs, said a political source.
17:53   Last and final call: Banks can deposit banned notes to RBI till July 20
The government has given a last chance to district cooperative banks, commercial banks and post offices to deposit the banned Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes with the Reserve Bank by July 20, provided they were collected within the specified time period.

After the November 8 shock demonetisation announcement, the government had allowed commercial banks and post offices to accept the junked currency from the public till December 30. District central cooperative banks were allowed to accept them only till November 14.

The finance ministry, through a notification today, allowed banks and post offices to exchange any old junked notes with RBI in the next one month, provided they were collected by December 30, 2016.

The same window would also be available to cooperative banks if they had collected the banned notes by November 14.

The earlier window was open till December 31, a day after the 50-day period of demonetisation of high value currency. Banks and post offices will however have to give reasons for not depositing the withdrawn notes with the specified time period "subject to the satisfaction of the RBI".

After demonetisation, the government gave holders of the junked currency a 50-day window to deposit it in their bank or post office accounts by December 30. But cooperative banks were on November 14 barred from accepting the junked notes as deposits or exchange them with new currency.

This left cooperative banks with crores of invalid currency notes. According to a recent report, district central cooperative banks in Maharashtra alone are stuck with Rs 2,770 crore worth old notes they collected during the early days of demonetisation but were unable to deposit them with RBI.

This had led to stalling of a Maharashtra government scheme to hand out Rs 10,000 cash to distressed farmers.

Several leaders including NCP supremo Sharad Pawar and those from Shiv Sena had represented to the government for allowing cooperative banks to exchange old notes. The relief has finally come.

In the notification, the ministry said that "specified bank notes may be deposited by such Bank, Post Office or District Central Cooperative Bank, as the case may be, in any office of the Reserve Bank, within a period of 30 days from the commencement of these rules, and get the exchange value thereof by credit" to their account.

While the grace period for resident Indians to deposit the invalidated currency notes expired on 31 March, the non- resident Indians have time till June 30 to deposit such currencies. RBI will accept deposits collected by any bank or post office by December 30, 2016 or by any District Central Cooperative Bank from November 10-14, 2016 should be deposited within 30 days, the notification said. They should also cite valid reasons for non-deposit of the specified bank notes within the period, it added. Old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes were junked from November 8, 2016 to eliminate black money and curb infusion and circulation of fake Indian currency notes (FICNs). India is the second-largest producer and consumer of currency notes. The circulation of banknotes has increased to 90.27 billion pieces from 64.58 billion over the last five years. As on November 8, 2016, the total amount of currency in circulation was Rs 17.7 lakh crore, which included specified bank notes (SBNs) of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000. As per the last official count released by RBI on December 13, banks had garnered Rs 12.44 lakh crore in banned notes till December 10.
17:20   Hated my coach, but stuck with him: Bindra on Kumble-Kohli rift
After Anil Kumble stepped down from the post of Indian cricket team's head coach following a rift with captain Virat Kohli, Olympic gold-medallist Abhinav Bindra has revealed how he stuck with a coach he hated, for 20 long years.

Taking to Twitter, Bindra although did not take names of any of the two involved, he indirectly presented his views on the Kumble-Kohli episode.

"My biggest teacher was coach Uwe.I hated him! But stuck with him for 20 years. He always told me things I did not want to hear.#justsaying," the shooter wrote on Twitter about his own equation with German Uwe Riesterer, who is a long-time member of his coaching staff.

Riesterer was part of Bindra's support staff when he became the first Indian to win an individual gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He was with him till last year's Games as well where he finished 4th in the 10m air rifle event before calling it a day.

Earlier, Kumble informed that skipper Virat Kohli had reservations about his work 'style' and his extension as the head coach, which prompted him to resign.

In a strongly worded letter, Kumble took to Twitter to reveal the reason behind his surprising decision.

Kumble said that although the BCCI had, several times, attempted to resolve the misunderstandings between him and the captain, it was apparent that the partnership was untenable, and therefore, he had decided to move on.

However, Kohli before India's opening encounter at the Champions Trophy against Pakistan rejected the reports of him having rift with the head coach, saying they were mere speculations which have been created by the people.

Kumble was appointed coach in June 2016 for a one-year term by the CAC and was instantly successful. Under him, India won Test series against West Indies, New Zealand, England, Bangladesh and Australia.
16:57   Charges framed against Sasikala in FERA violations case
An Economic Offences Court here today framed charges against AIADMK general secretary V K Sasikala, who is now lodged in jail in Bengaluru, in connection with a FERA violation case.

She appeared before the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate  through video conferencing from the Parapanna Agraharam jail in Bengaluru where she has been lodged ever since her conviction in February in the disproportionate assets case.

The case relates to alleged violations in transactions including remittances for a transponder and uplinking charges for the erstwhile JJ TV channel.

It was alleged by the prosecution that the payments were illegally routed to the US-based Rimsat through firms having network in the Philippines and Singapore.

Prosecution was launched against Sasikala, her relative V Bhaskaran and J J TV (now defunct) by the Enforcement Directorate in 1995 and 1996 on charges of violating FERA. The court had in May allowed Sasikala to appear before it through video conferencing from prison.

On February 15, Sasikala was sent to jail after she surrendered before a trial court at Bengaluru, a day after the Supreme Court restored her conviction in the disproportionate assets case.

File pic.
Just in: The government of Romania falls after six months in power. 
16:42   Britain's Prince Philip admitted in hospital with infection
The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip has been admitted to hospital for treatment of an infection arising from a pre-existing condition.

Prince Philip, the 96-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth II, has been admitted to hospital as a "precautionary measure" for treatment of an infection, Buckingham Palace said Wednesday.

Duke of Edinburgh, who is to retire from public duties later this year, was admitted to the King Edward VII hospital in central London after becoming unwell at Windsor, following his appearance at Royal Ascot.

He arrived at the hospital by car accompanied by his personal protection officer.

The Queen was accompanied to the state opening of parliament by the Prince of Wales, who is taking his father's place. She is being kept "fully informed" and will continue her plans to attend Royal Ascot following her delivery of the Queen's speech at the Houses of Parliament, the Guardian reported.

The infection arose from "a pre-existing condition", the palace said.

Earlier, Philip was admitted to hospital for a bladder infection, and for abdominal investigations and in 2011. In 2011 he was admitted to Papworth hospital where a coronary stent was fitted.
15:50   Judge Karnan arrives in Kolkata's Presidency jail for 6-month stay
Former Calcutta High Court judge, Justice CS Karnan, has been lodged in Kolkata's Presidency Jail, after the Supreme Court refused to grant him interim bail.

A day after his arrest, the Supreme Court today refused to entertain his plea for interim bail and suspension of the six-month sentence awarded to him for contempt of court.

The apex court said it was duty-bound by the seven- judge bench's order in the case and "cannot override it". "The matter has been heard by a seven-judge bench and order has been passed. The order is binding on us. We in vacation cannot override it. It is nothing we can do," a vacation bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul said.

Appearing for the retired judge, who was arrested in Coimbatore yesterday after being on the run for more than a month, advocate Mathews J Nedumpara said equity demands that he be granted bail till the court reopened.

However, the bench said, "All equity is subject to law and judicial discipline. You mention the matter before the bench of chief justice."

Nedumpara contended that the bench had all the power to pass an order granting bail and suspension of the six months sentence, as the detailed judgement in the case was yet to be passed by the seven-judge bench.

The submissions did not impress the bench which declined to entertain his plea. Karnan, 62, who retired on June 12 as Calcutta High Court judge, was arrested last evening by the West Bengal CID. He had been in Coimbatore since May 9 when the apex court held him guilty for contempt of court and sentenced him for six months.

Karnan has the dubious distinction of being the first sitting high court judge to be awarded a jail term by the apex court and also the first to have retired as a fugitive.

A customary farewell by the high court administration to the retiring judge could not be held in the Calcutta High Court as Karnan was not present.

A seven-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice of India J S Khehar, had on May 9 directed the West Bengal director general of police to take the then serving judge into custody immediately.

Despite several attempts, Karnan has failed to get any relief from the apex court's vacation benches which has refused to hear his plea seeking a stay of its jail term order.

His lawyers also claimed to have approached President Pranab Mukherjee for exercising his power to stay the apex court's order, but there has been no relief for the ex-judge. After being sentenced, Karnan had on May 12 moved the apex court for relief, saying neither the high courts nor their judges were "subordinate" to it. He had sought recall of the apex court's order, contending he could not be held guilty of contempt of court.

Karnan had said the Contempt of Courts Act was a "cathartic jurisprudence which belonged to the Dark Ages, the era of inquisition and torture, distinct from the classical Roman Law which constitutes the foundation of modern jurisprudence". He had also sought a stay on all "further proceedings" pursuant to the May 9 order.
15:32   'Islamic militants occupy Philippine school, take hostages'
Al Jazeera: Gunmen have occupied a school after storming a village on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines, according to police.   Suspected members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) group were engaged in a gun battle with security forces at Malagakit, close to Pigcawayan town, Chief Inspector Realan Mamon said in a radio interview on Wednesday. 

Brigadier General Restituto Padilla, army spokesman, said five civilians were taken hostage, none of them students, as human shields. 

The Malagakit school is believed to had been closed at the time of the attack. Eliseo Garcesa, mayor of Pigcawayan, told Philippine radio that about 200 gunmen were involved in the attack. He said he was still seeking information about possible casualties.
Queen Elizabeth's husband Prince Philip, 96, in hospital: Buckingham Palace.
Arrested former HC judge CS Karnan brought to Kolkata from Chennai.
15:27   Will Nitish, AIADMK govts survive after prez polls?
Laddoos (a party perennial) were being distributed in the BJP headquarters in New Delhi when TV channels flashed the news of JD-U chief Nitish Kumar supporting the NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind for the Presidential polls.

But insiders in the BJP say that on the day Kovind's name was announced during the BJP parliamentary board meeting, BJP Chief Amit Shah called Kovind and hinted that he should send feelers to Nitish Kumar asking for his endorsement.

Subsequently, Arun Jaitley (part of the three-member committee to seek consensus for the presidential polls) spoke to Nitish Kumar.

Since that day, there was speculation in the BJP top leadership, that Nitish Kumar had fallen in line. The speculation is now fact.

So, the breaking news, while not exactly a surprise, was certainly a relief to top leaders of the BJP including Narendra Modi.

Grapevine also suggests that after August 2017, it will be difficult for two state governments to continue. After the presidential elections, the AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu and and JD-U government in Bihar may not survive.

Now that Nitish's support has been covered, political watchers say there may be a rift between the JD-U and it's ally in Bihar, the Lalu Prasad Yadav-led RJD and it may even be difficult for Nitish to continue as Chief Minister of Bihar.

If Lalu does try to topple Nitish, the BJP's support may come in handy. And so, is a JDU-BJP combine the future for Bihar?

These are the questions doing the rounds in the BJP's national headquarters.

15:23   Sasikala 'controller' of AIADMK, will support Kovind
Expressing confidence on All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam backing National Democratic Alliance's presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy on Wednesday said party general secretary VK Sasikala is the 'controller' of that party therefore the decision will be in their favour.

"Sasikala is the controller of that party. Whatever propaganda people might say of three faction, four fraction, she is now the successor of the title of the AIAMDK leader and I am sure she will decide in our favour," Swamy told ANI.

Swamy also welcomed Shiv Sena for its support to Kovind.
14:35   Karnataka announces farm loan waivers, but Rs 50,000 only
Karnataka becomes the fourth Indian state to offer farm loan waivers. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah announces a farm loan waiver for short term loans up to Rs 50,000, applicable only to cooperative bank loans.

On Monday, Punjab announced farm loan waivers of all crop loans up to Rs 2 lakh for small and marginal farmers (up to 5 acres) and a flat Rs 2 lakh relief for all other marginal farmers, irrespective of their loan amount.

Earlier, UP and Maharashtra announced loan waivers as well.

The Reserve Bank of India has cautioned Karnataka and other states against jumping onto the farm-loan waiver bandwagon, by observing that loan waivers impact credit discipline and vitiates credit culture.
V Nanammal India's oldest Yoga practitioner at 98 and a Nari Shakti Awardee.
14:10   Not yoga, it was a cycle yatra for SP
The Samajwadi Party today celebrated the International Day of Yoga day by undertaking 'cycle yatras' across the state. Directives were issued to partymen by SP National President Akhilesh Yadav to embark on a cycle yatra at all district headquarter from 6 am and later perform yoga as per their convenience at their homes.

The party's move has been seen as a counter to BJP's yoga day programme in Lucknow in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi participated along with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

File pic.
13:34   JD-U will back Ram Nath Kovind, says party leader
Breaking ranks with the Opposition, the JD-U has decided to back NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind for President of India.

A JD-U leader told news agency ANI that Bihar CM and JD-U chief Nitish Kumar had told them the party would be supporting Kovind's candidature.

The writing was on the wall.

Hours after the BJP named Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind, a Dalit leader, as their nominee for the presidential elections, the JD(U) and indeed the BSP, indicated they were not opposed to Kovinds candidature.

However, neither party committed to supporting the NDA  candidate.

The Congress, Left and Trinamool Congress signalled that a contest appeared to be on the cards.

In Patna, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar called on Kovind at Raj Bhavan and later told reporters: In my capacity as the Bihar Chief Minister, it is a matter of happiness that our Governor has been declared as the candidate for the next President of India.
13:23   Smriti Irani indulges in chai-pakodas after asanas in the rain in Himachal
Union minister for Textiles Smriti Irani joined other BJP Parliamentarians and chief ministers practicing yogasanas on the occasion of International Yoga Day today.

Irani was in Hamirpur, Himachal Pradesh, doing asanas led by Art of Living Foundation Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Much of north India was swept by pre-monsoon showers and the minister, who was dressed in a salwar kameez, took to Twitter to share her pictures, saying "Honoured to have Gurudev @SriSri ji lead #YogaDay2017 celebrations at Hamirpur in Himachal Pradesh."

She then followed it up with a picture of a plate of pakodas (which look  like onion bhajias) and a glass of tea and wrote, "After yoga in the rains, time for some chai pakodas."

Lakhs of people across the country and the world bent, stretched and twisted on the third International Day of Yoga today with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who led the celebrations in Lucknow, saying yogic asanas connected the world to India.

From Ramabai Ambedkar Maidan in Lucknow and colonnaded Connaught Place in Delhi to Trafalgar Square in London and Great Wall in China, the day to celebrate the traditional wellness regime that originated in India was celebrated with vim, vigour and vitality.

Dressed in a white t-shirt and trousers, Modi joined over 51,000 people at the sprawling Ramabai Ambedkar Maidan and said yoga had now become part of every person's life.

"Many countries which do not know our language, tradition or culture are now connecting to India through yoga. The practice, which connects body, mind and soul, has played a big role in binding the world too," he said.

Rains played a bit of a spoilsport in Lucknow and Delhi, but failed to dampen spirits with people thronging parks and public places. In the Uttar Pradesh capital, where Modi was joined by Governor Ram Naik and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, the prime minister thanked people for coming out in large numbers despite the rains, saying, "Your presence here will give strength to yoga and deserves salutation."

In a series of tweets later, Modi said, "Today, Yoga has become a part of so many lives. Yoga's popularity outside India is high & has connected the world with India." "I am glad to see several Yoga institutes take shape over the last three years. Demand for Yoga teachers is increasing: PM. I urge everyone to make Yoga a part of their lives," he said.

In Delhi, nearly 77,700 people braved pre-dawn showers and gathered at venues across the city. According to AYUSH Ministry officials, the maximum gathering of 50,000 people was at Red Fort lawns, followed by 10,000 yoga enthusiasts coming together in Connaught Place and about 9,000 at a DDA park in Rohini.

The streets of Connaught Place's inner circle, where vehicular movement was restricted, wore a festive look as old and young dressed in colourful attire performed various asanas.
12:54   Chhattisgarh: Two women Naxals killed in encounter
Two women Naxals were gunned down in an encounter with the joined team of the Special Task Force and District Reserve Guard in Abujmarh area of Chhattisgarh's Narayanpur district.

The Armed forces have recovered two .315 bore rifles and other ammunitions including IEDs, uniforms, codex wires, sewing machine, literature etc from their possession.

The incident took place after the security forces hit the Maoists's camp.The encounter between the two lasted for an hour on Tuesday.
12:47   Koovathur issue: Stalin introduces 'no-confidence motion' in TN Assembly
DMK working president MK Stalin introduced a 'no-confidence motion' in the Tamil Nadu assembly today and raised the Koovathur issue. Stalin also raised the vote of confidence issue upon which the Governor sent a letter to the Speaker for appropriate action seeking an explanation.

"My petition has been sent to Speaker and Chief Secretary for action by the governor. I request the Speaker and CM to give an explanation," Stalin told the media here after staging the walkout.The Congress also walked out of the Tamil Nadu assembly after the Speaker refused to reply on issues raised by Stalin.

Earlier, the DMK moved the Madras High Court seeking a probe by the CBI and the DRI into the alleged payments made to some ruling AIADMK party MLAs ahead of the confidence motion moved by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on the floor of the Assembly on February 18.

According to an English TV channel, Mr Saravanan, MLA from Madurai South, confessed that money was indeed paid to MLAs to stay with the Sasikala faction and to prevent from crossing over to the OPS camp.The expose claimed that on February 8, over 100 AIADMK MLAs were bundled into buses and transported to Golden Bay Resorts at Koovathur, near Mahabalipuram.
Never mind goat yoga, try aqua yoga instead. This is at Rajkot, Gujarat.
12:39   'Kashmiris are going nowhere'
What do Kashmiri stone pelters mean when they shout 'Azaadi'?
What do the Kashmiris want?
What are the factors destablising the Kashmir valley?
What are the solutions?
Did the September 28, 2016 surgical strikes serve their purpose? Is peace possible in Kashmir?
As Northern Army Commander, Lieutenant General K T Parnaik was the man in charge of defending the Line of Control, supervising the security and anti-terrorist operations in Jammu and Kashmir and guarding the China border.
Currently, the Joint Managing Director, Defence and Security, Rolta India, the retired general discusses these issues with's Archana Masih. Read the interview here.
12:31   There is room for a rethink: Pak's Abdul Basit on Jadhav death sentence
Pakistan's outgoing High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit has said that his country is committed not to carry out the execution of death sentence awarded to Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav by a military court till the hearing in the International Court of Justice gives its verdict in the case.

In an interview with The Hindu, Basit, who was appointed Islamabad's envoy to New Delhi in 2014 just days before PM Narendra Modi assumed charge, said that there is still hope left for Jadhav.

"There is a process that is ongoing, and if Jadhav's appeal were rejected (by the court), that would be the time for the army chief or the President to reconsider the sentence against him. He has been tried, he has been convicted, and he has the right to appeal. If that is rejected, then he has the right to submit an application for clemency to the army chief, and if he denies it, then to the President. So there is room for a rethink there," Basit said.

India had approached the International Court of Justice on May 8 soon after a military court in Pakistan awarded death sentence to Jadhav, a former Navyman, on espionage charges.

Read the full interview HERE
The brave men of the Army in Siachen on International Yoga Day. 
12:06   Bihar CM Nitish Kumar's JD-U to decide today on support to Kovind as presidential candidate
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's led Janata Dal-United will make a decision today on whether to support the BJP's presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind. 

Kovind, resigned as Bihar governr on Tuesday. 

Kumar has called a meeting of the JD-Us core committee on Wednesday to take the decision.Nitish Kumar will formally announce his decision after the JD-U's core committee meeting a senior JD-U leader said.

A JD-U leader said that the Bihar CM won't till June 22 when the opposition meets to decide its own candidate for the presidential polls. 

And while most believe that JD-U will extend its support to Kovind, speculation is rife that JD-U's major ally RJD chief Lalu Prasad will not support Ram Nath Kovinnd on the ground as he is a RSS man.

According to JD-U leaders, Prime Minister Narendra Modi telephoned Nitish Kumar soon after BJP president Amit Shah announced Kovind as the presidential candidate of the NDA.

-- M I Khan in Patna reports
11:48   World's oldest Yoga teacher, India's oldest Yoga guru show how it's done
World's oldest Yoga teacher Tao Porchon-Lynch and India's oldest Yoga guru Amma Nannamal demonstrated various asanas in Bengaluru at Kanteerava Outdoor Stadium today on the occasion of the third International Yoga Day.

Along with the two nonagenarians, social activist Anna Hazare and Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers Ananth Kumar were also present at the venue to mark the day.
11:40   Trying to bring about India-Pak talks on Kashmir: UN chief
UN chief Antonio Guterres has said he is engaged in bringing about a dialogue between India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue through his meetings with the prime ministers of the two countries.  

"Why do you think I met three times the prime minister of Pakistan and two times the Prime Minister of India," Guterres said with a laughter, responding to a question during a press briefing on whether he is engaged in bringing about dialogue between India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir dispute.   

"For someone accused of doing nothing, it is quite a number of meetings," the secretary general said, referring to criticism that he has been shying away and is reluctant to act to defuse tensions between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir issue.   

Guterres, addressing reporters at his first press conference at the world body's headquarters since assuming office in January, was asked about the escalating tensions between India and Pakistan along the Line of Control and the ceasefire violations since he assumed office.   

Guterres did not elaborate further but through his response he did not make any indication that he will act as a mediator between India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue.  
11:15   UPDATE: Uber founder Travis Kalanick resigns as CEO
Uber founder and CEO Travis Kalanick has resigned from the ride-sharing company.

He stepped down as the firm he founded in 2009 deals with a sexual harassment scandal.

According to the New York Times, a shareholder revolt made it untenable for him to stay on at the company. 

I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this difficult moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight, Kalanick said in a statement.

Kalanick's troubles began earlier this year after a former Uber engineer detailed what she said was sexual harassment at the company, opening the floodgates for more complaints and spurring internal investigations.
11:05   SC turns down justice Karnan's plea for bail
Former Calcutta HC judge, justice C S Karnan, moves the Supreme Court seeking bail and suspension of the six-month sentence awarded to him.   

The SC refuses to entertain Karnan's plea, saying the seven-judge bench has already passed an order and only the special bench can hear it. 
Former Prime Minister HD Devegowda performs Yoga at his residence.
Goa CM Manohar Parrikar performs Yoga at in Bambolim.
10:50   Kovind to meet Advani, Joshi today
Just in: NDA presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind to meet BJP senior leaders Lal Krishna Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi today.

Union minister Venkaiah Naidu who was part of the three-member committee formed to evolve a consensus for the BJP's presidential candidate had met BJP veterans Advani and Joshi about the decision. He also called up SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav and BSP supremo Mayawati.
Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa leads a Yoga session organised at the Air Force Station, New Delhi. 
10:40   Sub ka saath, sab ka vikas
Where there's a will, there's yoga. Yoga within the confined spaces of a submarine. 
10:38   Delhi yoga venue barricaded to prevent London-style terror attack
The Delhi Police has received intelligence inputs about some terror outfits planning a "London-style attack" during the International Yoga Day celebrations at Connaught Place in New Delhi.

The police has barricaded with buses the entry points of roads leading to Connaught Place, sources said. The police had only left some space for pedestrians to pass through.

This had been done to ensure that even if a vehicle tried to enter the area, it would end up ramming into these empty buses, they added.

A three-tier security layer was thrown around the area to enhance the vigil, a senior police officer said, adding, that snipers were also stationed on certain buildings to keep a hawk eye vigil.

Police had received a specific input about a London-style attack being planned to disrupt the event that was being attended by various dignitaries, including NDA's presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind, Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

As many as 10,000 people joined the dignitaries early this morning at the famed British-era market in the common Yoga performance.

A man had recently ploughed a van into Muslims leaving prayers at a mosque injuring 11 people near Finsbury Park mosque, north London. In April, a hijacked beer truck rammed into pedestrians at a central Stockholm department store, killing four people, wounding 15 others and sending screaming shoppers fleeing in panic.

Image: Senior citizens performing yogasanas at Connaught Place which was cordoned off to vehicles after a terror alert.
10:23   Way ahead of PM Modi, it was Nehru who practiced yoga
When yoga used to be a personal commitment and not aggrandisation. India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru does the Sirsasana.

This is what what the former PM wrote on the asana.

"Among my exercises one please me particularly -- the shiorshasana, standing on the head with the palms of the hands, fingers interlocked, supporting the back of the head, elbows on the floor, body vertical, upside down. I suppose physically this exercise is very good; I liked it even more for its psychological effects on me. The slightly comic position increased my good humour and made me a little more tolerant of life's vagaries."
10:07   Lucknow cop gets a congratulatory pat for poem on yoga
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated a sub-inspector in Lucknow for writing a poem on Yoga. Police sub-inspector Kuldeep Singh was greeted by Prime Minister Modi, who appreciated his gesture. Singh wrote the poem describing the benefits of Yoga.

Beautifully starting his poem, he thanked Prime Minister Modi for getting June 21 recognised as the Yoga Day on an international level.

Singh is the first sub-inspector of Lucknow to have been greeted by the Prime Minister in such a manner.

The United Nations General Assembly declared June 21 as International Day of Yoga by consensus after adopting a measure proposed by Prime Minister Modi.
Against the spectacular backdrop of the Aguas Calientes, the Machhu Pichhu Mountain, yoga enthusiasts take a break.
10:00   Sopore encounter: Two terrorists gunned down, ops underway
In other news, two terrorists were gunned down on Wednesday morning in an encounter with security personnel in Jammu and Kashmir's Sopore district.

The area has been cordoned off and the counter-terror operations are in progress.The Armed forces have also recovered two weapons from the neutralised terrorists' possession.

The encounter is going on in Sopore's Pazalpore area.The Sopore Police, SOG and Army's 22 RR are leading the operation.

Further details are awaited.
09:59   Now, Presidential nominee Kovind gets into the act
NDA's presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday joined the International Yoga Day celebrations in the national capital as he performed asanas at central Delhi's Connaught Place and urged people to take up the traditional practice.

Donning a white yoga-themed t-shirt, he joined dignitaries and other enthusiasts at the iconic venue and performed routines for about 45 minutes.

"We are all here to do yoga. Everyone should do yoga," Kovind told reporters after arriving at the venue. The 71-year-old low-profile Dalit leader and a two-term BJP Rajya Sabha member, on Tuesday resigned as Bihar Governor.

The presidential nominee, who arrived in Delhi on June 19, hours after his name was announced by the BJP, has been accorded a 'Z+' cover of NSG commandos.

The election of Kovind as India's 14th President is a virtual certainty with several non-NDA parties too lending their support to BJP's surprise candidature of the low-profile dalit leader and a former lawyer.

The event at Connaught Place was also attended by Union ministers M Venkaiah Naidu and Vijay Goel, Delhi Lt Governor Anil Baijal and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, besides senior BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi.
Yoga on board aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya. 
In Bhopal, Congress workers do the 'Shavaasana' on InternationalYoga Day to protest against farmers killed in police firing in Mandsaur, MP.
Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal, Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Baba Ramdev's associate Acharya Balkrishna perform Yoga in Nalbari, Assam. 
The BJP's Muslim face, Parliamentary Affairs minister, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi does yoga in Noida.
09:37   Yoga by the bay for Fadnavis, Poonam Mahajan
Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis tweets this picture: "Seaside #Yoga organised by @MumbaiPolice , Spandan Arts with MP @poonam_mahajan & MLA @ShelarAshish in Mumbai. #YogaDay2017."
Just In: Royal decree names Saudi king's son as crown prince. 
09:02   In West Bengal, state-run schools won't observe Yoga Day today
While the entire country is busy marking International Yoga Day, West Bengal has chosen to sit this one out. 

Education minister of West Bengal Partha Chatterjee said that state-run schools across West Bengal will not observe International Yoga Day on Wednesday. "We will hold a separate yoga competition among state schools at a later date. Tomorrow, there will be no celebration of International Yoga Day in state-run schools."

Council for Indian School Certificate Examinations-affiliated schools (which conducts ICSE and ISC examinations and CBSE), however, will observe the celebrations.
08:38   2 terrorists killed in encounter in Kashmir
Two terrorists were killed after an encounter broke out them and security forces in Rafiabad area of Kashmir's Baramulla district. The gunbattle broke out in Pazalpora village in Sopore township of the district this morning, a police official said.
Anytime, any place yoga! Yoga onboard INS Jalashwa in the Bay of Bengal. Photograph: @SpokespersonMoD/Twitter
07:58   UN to issue special stamps commemorating International Yoga Day
The United Nations will issue special stamps commemorating the International Yoga Day on June 21. 

"Releasing soon. @unstamps Special Event sheet to commemorate International Day of Yoga," India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin tweeted.

The UN postal agency, UN Postal Administration will issue the new special event sheet to commemorate Yoga Day that has been marked annually since 2015.

The special sheet consists of stamps with images of the sacred Indian sound "Om" and various yogic postures.

The first International Yoga Day was commemorated at the UN in 2015 with aplomb, with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj leading the celebrations along with then UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.
07:32   Ramdev, Amit Shah join Gujarat CM at Yoga Day celebrations in Ahmedabad
To celebrate the third International Yoga Day, Yoga guru Ramdev and Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani participated in a Yoga camp in Ahmedabad.

Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah also graced the event.

Hundreds of countries are uniting to mark the Yoga Day today. Celebrations have already begun in India as well as in many other countries across the globe.

The United Nations General Assembly declared June 21 as International Day of Yoga by consensus after adopting a measure proposed by Prime Minister Modi.
Artist Sudarshan Pattnaik with his sand sculpture on the occasion of the third International Yoga Day.
07:19   UPDATE: PM leads Yoga Day celebrations in Lucknow, thousands join him
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is leading the 3rd International Yoga Day celebrations from Ambedkar Sabha Sthal in Lucknow. 

Around 50,000 people are attending the event, among them Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and the key ministers of his cabinet.

Dressed in a white T-shit and pants, Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted the people from the stage he shared with Yogi Adityanath. "I pay my respect and welcome all Yoga lovers present here and all those performing Yoga in various corners of the world. Today, yoga has become a part of so many lives. Yoga's popularity out of India is high and has connected the world with India," he said.
00:30   UN chief engages to resume India-Pak talks on Kashmir
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has suggested that he is engaged in bringing about a dialogue between India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue through his meetings with the prime ministers of the two countries.
"Why do you think I met three times the prime minister of Pakistan (Nawaz Sharif) and two times the prime minister of India (Narendra Modi). For someone accused of doing nothing, it is quite a number of meetings," Guterres said with laughter, responding to a question whether he is engaged in bringing about a dialogue between India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir dispute.
Guterres was asked about the escalating tensions between India and Pakistan along the Line of Control and the ceasefire violations since he assumed office as the UN chief in January.
Modi and Guterres met in St Petersburg this month on the sidelines of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum. During the meeting, Modi had stressed on multilateralism to address global challenges such as terrorism.
Sharif and the UN chief met on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum at Davos in January and again this month in Astana on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit.
Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric, when asked about the Secretary-General's response to the situation in Kashmir, has repeatedly said that Guterres is following the situation in the region closely.
Dujarric has said that the UN chief reiterates his call for India and Pakistan to find a peaceful solution through engagement and dialogue to resolve the Kashmir issue.

There are strains in relations between India and Pakistan over a number of issues including the cross-border terrorism, unprovoked ceasefire violations along the LoC and the death sentence given to Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav by a Pakistani military court on charges of spying.