Wed, 01 November 2017
I was clean, so clean chit was inevitable: Chouhan on Vyapam

Timeline  Refresh

23:37   I was clean, so clean chit was inevitable: Chouhan on Vyapam
Buoyed by CBI's clean chit to him in the Vyapam scam case, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan today said since he had done no wrong, the agency cleared his name.
The state BJP is planning to file a defamation case against Congress leader Digvijaya Singh and others who had  alleged that data on the hard disk had reference to "CM",which was erased.
"I was clean, so a clean chit was inevitable. In public life, allegations are levelled, but they should be based on facts. Such (baseless) charges pain the person. I am not worried much, as I was relieved from the beginning," Chouhan told reporters, reacting to the development.
The central investigation agency, which filed the charge sheet in a Bhopal court yesterday, said, "There is no grain of truth in the allegation that the HDD (hard disk drive) seized on July 18, 2013 from the office of the then principal system analyst, Vyapam was tampered".
It filed the charge sheet against 490 persons including three Vyapam officials, three racketeers, 17 middlemen, 297 "solver" (impersonators or 'dummies' of real candidates in exams) and beneficiary candidates (who benefited from such impersonation) and 170 guardians of beneficiary candidates in the court of the special judge for Vyapam cases, Bhopal, last evening.
The CBI is probing a case related to alleged irregularities in the Pre-Medical Test (PMT) 2013 conducted by the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board, also known by its Hindi acronym 'Vyapam'.
It is alleged that 'solvers' were arranged for candidates appearing for PMT for a fee. -- PTI
23:03   NTPC plant Explosion: PM expresses grief
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was "deeply pained" by the accident at a power plant in Uttar Pradesh which has claimed 18 lives today, and added that the situation was being closely monitored.
"Deeply pained by the accident at the NTPC plant in Raebareli. My thoughts are with the bereaved families. May the injured recover quickly. The situation is being closely monitored & officials are ensuring normalcy is restored: PM @narendramodi," the prime minister's office tweeted.
A massive explosion ripped a boiler in the state-run power giant NTPC's Unchahar plant in Uttar Pradesh's Rae Bareli district today, killing at least 18 people and injuring several others.
22:54   Chhota Shakeel's close aide arrested from Delhi
A suspected aide of gangster Chhota Shakeel was arrested from northeast Delhi's Jafrabad, the police said today. 
The accused was carrying a reward of Rs 50,000 on his head.
Naseem alias Rizwan (28), a sharpshooter and close aide of Shakeel, was in touch with the latter, who was giving directions to him to eliminate Pakistan-born Canadian writer Tarek Fatah, the police said.
The police were on the lookout for Naseem, a contract killer wanted in several cases.
Yesterday, the police received a tip-off that Naseem would come to Jafrabad and a trap was laid accordingly.
When Naseem saw the police personnel, he tried to flee but was nabbed after a long chase, the police said.
A sophisticated pistol, four live cartridges and Rs 1.98 lakh in cash were seized from his possession, they added.

During interrogation, it came to light that Naseem was wanted by the Delhi Police's Special Cell in connection with an alleged conspiracy to kill Fatah.
The Special Cell had, in June, arrested one Junaid Chaudhary for his alleged involvement in the conspiracy to kill Fatah. Naseem was wanted in that case.
He was also involved in robbing a collection agent of a businessman of Rs 10.6 lakh last month, the police said.
Naseem told his interrogators that he was in touch with Chhota Shakeel, said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Northeast) A K Singla.
He was also supposed to meet a criminal called Munna Singh, through another criminal Rashid, who was lodged in the Bijnor Jail, he added. -- PTI
22:23   Ajay Bisaria India's next ambassador to Pakistan
Seasoned diplomat Ajay Bisaria, currently the Indian ambassador to Poland, has been appointed the country's top envoy to Pakistan.
This was announced by the external affairs ministry tonight.
The 1987-batch IFS officer will succeed Gautam Bambawale, who was last month posted to China.
"He is expected to take up his assignment shortly," the ministry said in an official statement.
Bisaria's posting comes at a time when there is chill in Indo-Pak ties following a series of terror strikes in India, including Uri and Pathankot attacks, by Pakistan-based terror groups.
India had also pulled out of the SAARC summit, to be hosted by Pakistan last year, citing cross-border terrorism from that country.
After training at the Foreign Service Institute here, Bisaria chose Russian as his language of specialisation and was posted at the Indian Embassy in Moscow (1988-1991) where he was attached to the economic and political wings of the embassy.
Bisaria also held position of the private Secretary to the prime minister from 1999 to 2004.
From January 2015, he has served as India's Ambassador to Poland, based in Warsaw, with concurrent accreditation to Lithuania. 
PM Modi presented the Prince of Bhutan an official football of the FIFA U-17 World Cup and a chess set during the visit. 
22:07   Bhutanese King meets PM Modi
Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, Queen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck and Crown Prince today met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at 7, Lok Kalyan Marg in New Delhi. 

This is Bhutanese King's first visit since India and China ended a 73-day-old standoff on Doklam plateau two months ago. 
21:25   India has largest number of malnourished kids in world: Report
India is home to the largest number of malnourished children in the world, a report said today, advocating that the country needs to frame policies with a focus on reducing health and social inequities.
"Over the decade (2005-15), there has been an overall reduction in the infant mortality rate and under-five mortality rate in India, yet the country is housing about 50 per cent of undernourished children of the world," said the joint study by Assocham and EY.
The report found that towards the end of 2015, 40 per cent of the Indian children were undernourished.
On the other hand, it pointed out that urban India is faced with the challenge of over nutrition.
India is ranked as the third most obese nation in the world after the US and China and also the diabetes capital of the world, with about 69.2 million people living with it as per the 2015 data by World Health Organisation, said the report.
"About 37 per cent of our under-five children are underweight, 39 per cent are stunted (low height-for-age), 21 per cent are wasted (low weight-for-height) and 8 per cent are severely acutely malnourished," said the study.
While the percentage of stunted children under five reduced from 48 per cent in 2005-06 to 39 per cent in 2015-16, the percentage of children who are wasted increased slightly from 19.8 per cent to 21 per cent, according to the report.

Moreover, the prevalence of underweight children was higher (38 per cent) in rural areas compared to urban cities (29 per cent).
"Only about 10 per cent children under the age 6-23 months were reported to receive an adequate diet. This inequality in access is accentuated by the stark state level disparity in nutritional status," observed the study findings. 
In the age bracket of 1-5 years, the prevalence of underweight children ranged from 42 per cent in Jharkhand, followed by Bihar, MP and UP with 37 per cent, 36 per cent and 34.1 per cent respectively, to 14.1 per cent in Manipur.
The report found that the prevalence of stunting ranged from 50.4 per cent in UP to 19.4 per cent in Kerala. Arunachal Pradesh had the highest levels of wasting at 19 per cent and Sikkim had the lowest level with 5 per cent. -- PTI
21:17   Will give Pak opportunity to act against terrorists: US
It is in the interest of Pakistan to change its "long-standing" relationship with terrorist organisations, United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said, underlining that the Trump administration will give the country an opportunity to act on actionable intelligence.
"The conversation with the Pakistani government is for them to recognise that they will be one of the greatest beneficiaries of a successful peace process in Afghanistan, Tillerson told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing on Monday.
Tillerson, who visited Afghanistan, Pakistan and India last week, was responding to questions on Pakistan's co- operation in the fight against terrorism in the aftermath of Trump's South Asia Policy.
"Pakistan lives with two very unstable borders, one with Afghanistan, one with India and our message to them is -- You have to begin to create greater stability inside your country and that means denying safe haven to any of these organisations that launch attacks from your territory," he said.
"So, we are going to enter into an effort to have greater sharing of certain intelligence information, he said, adding that Pakistanis have indicated that they will act if the US provide them information.
"We're going to have to test that, give them an opportunity to do so," Tillerson said.
"And so, what will change is that Pakistan will find it in their interest to begin to disassociate these long-standing relationships that have developed over time with certain terrorist organisations, the Haqqani network, the Taliban, inside of Pakistan, which may have served their purpose for stability once upon a time but they no longer serve that purpose, he said.
Tillerson said that it is up to Pakistan to think about its long-term stability and it future by changing that relationship with these organisations.
In August, President Trump had unveiled his Afghanistan and South Asia policy in which he had hit out at Pakistan for providing safe havens to "agents of chaos" that kill Americans in Afghanistan and warned Islamabad that it has "much to lose" by harbouring terrorists. -- PTI 

Image: Pakistans Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif with United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Photograph: ANI
20:28   Should Khichdi be India's national dish?
Over 800 kg khichdi, a traditional Indian dish relished by both rich and poor, will be prepared live on November 4 at the World Food India event in New Delhi in a bid to create world record and popularise it as brand India food globally.
Khichdi -- prepared using rice, pulses, coarse cereals and spices -- has been selected as Brand India Food because it symbolises the country's unity in diversity.
A giant 'kadhai' (frying pan) of the capacity of 1,000 litres and 7 feet in diameter will be used for slow steam- cooking of more than 800 kg khichdi.
The khichdi will be prepared by renowned chef Sanjeev Kapoor, who has been roped as brand ambassador of the Great India Food Street for the three-day event starting November 3, being organised by food processing ministry along with CII.
"Khichdi is the wonder staple food of India and is considered the healthiest prepared food in India and it is being eaten across length and breadth of India by rich and poor," Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal told reporters at the curtain raiser event.
Khichdi symbolises India's great culture of unity in diversity at its best. Therefore, Khichdi has been selected the Brand India Food, she added.
The cooked khichdi will be distributed to about 60,000 orphan children as well as guests present at the event. The khichdi will also be distributed to the Heads of Foreign Missions in India along with recipe.
Brand India Khichdi's ingredients and recipe will be popularised by Indian Foreign Missions throughout the world. The government will ensure that Khichdi is available in restaurants and kitchens around the world, an official statement said. -- PTI
20:09   Govt issues draft norms for drones
After long drawn discussions, the civil aviation ministry today unveiled draft norms for operating drones for civilian purposes in the country.
The unmanned aerial system, commonly known as drones, would require unique identification numbers, according to final draft rules prepared by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
Nano drones, those weighing below 250 grams, would be exempt from seeking one time approval, including the issuance of unique identification number.
"We are making the rules very very user friendly," civil aviation secretary R N Choubey told reporters, adding that the draft norms have been prepared after extensive consultations internally.
After stakeholder consultations, the final and formal Civil Aviation Requirements for drones is expected to be in place by December end, he said.
Various restrictions have been proposed to ensure that the drones are used only for valid purposes. There would be 'no drone zones' that includes 50 kilometres from the international border.
Civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju expressed hope that the draft norms would encourage genuine and "discourage nefarious activities".
Currently, aircraft rules do not cover use of drones as well as their sale and purchase. Aviation regulator DGCA had in October 2014 restricted the use of drones and unmanned aircraft system by civilians. -- PTI
19:42   Gujarat poll is not just a 'chunav', it's a 'chunauti' for BJP: Shatru
There is anger among people over good and services tax and demonetisation and the writing on the wall is clear that the Gujarat assembly election is not just a 'chunav' (poll) for the BJP but a 'chunauti' (challenge), outspoken party MP Shatrughan Sinha said today.
Sharing dais with Congress leader Manish Tewari at a panel discussion on the latter's book, Sinha also defended his comments on economic issues, saying "if a lawyer can talk about finances, if a TV actress can be the HRD minister and if a 'chaiwala' can be... then why I cannot talk about economy?"
His remarks were an obvious reference to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani, who was earlier HRD minister, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, he did not name any of them.

He maintained that he was not challenging his party but "showing mirror to it" in the BJP's and national interest.
"From the writing on the wall and anger among people over GST, demonetisation, unemployment... seeing it, I don't want to say how many seats the BJP will get but certainly this election is going to be a special challenge," he said.

However, the MP from Patna Sahib said the BJP can increase its seats with unity and should not take the elections lightly.
"I will only say the matter is serious and this is not chunav (election), but chunauti (challenge)," he said.
Asked if he could join any other political party, the former cinestar replied with his signature dialogue, "khamosh (keep quiet)".
Sinha has been a vocal critic of the Modi government's policies and decisions over a number of issues, including GST and demonetisation. -- PTI 
18:56   UPDATE: 10 dead, many hurt in boiler blast at Rae Bareli
Ten persons have been killed and around 70 injured after a boiler exploded at a state-run NTPC power plant in Raebareli in Uttar Pradesh. 

A top official says the number of dead and injured may rise. Most of the injured have suffered burns.

"So far 10 bodies have recovered and at least 60-70 people have been injured," UP ADG (Law and Order) Anand Kumar said.

"Our primary objective is to provide immediate medical treatment to those injured," Kumar added.

The explosion triggered panic among the workers who ran helter-skelter. The district administration rushed ambulances to the plant and directed health officials to provide prompt treatment to the injured.
18:45   Centre accords 'Z' category security to Kashmir interlocutor
The centre has accorded 'Z' category armed security cover to Dineshwar Sharma, the recently appointed special representative on Jammu and Kashmir.
Official sources said Sharma would be secured by commandos of the Central Reserve Police Force whenever he travels to any part of the country.
"Given his work profile, it was essential to provide the special representative a personal security cover. He will have about six to eight commandos with him at any given time," a senior official said.
A pilot and escort vehicle will secure his convoy, he said.
A security review of Sharma's residence in Delhi and analysis of his other requirements are on, and the VIP security team of the CRPF will soon take charge, the official said.
The CRPF has a special unit that provides armed VIP security to about 70 dignitaries at present.
The central government had recently notified the appointment of Sharma, former director of the Intelligence Bureau, as its interlocutor for sustained dialogue on Jammu and Kashmir.
Sharma, an old Kashmir hand in the country's internal intelligence agency, enjoys the rank and status of a cabinet secretary.

Union Home minister Rajnath Singh had said that Sharma would decide whom to engage with for a resolution of the Kashmir issue.  
17:46   Four dead, hundreds injured in boiler blast at Rae Bareli
Four dead, hundreds affected in a boiler explosion at NTPC's Unchahar plant at Rae Bareli, says Superintendent of police Shivhari Meena. News agency ANI quoting the district magistrate reports that ash-pipe exploded due to pressure at the NTPC plant. The UP CM Yogi Adityanath has taken cognizance of the explosion and has directed the Principal Home Secretary to ensure all steps for rescue and relief. Rae Bareli is Congress president Sonia Gandhi's constituency. Details awaited.

Image of the NTPC plant at Rae Bareli. Courtesy: ANI
17:12   Sherin Mathews buried in undisclosed location
Sherin Mathews, a 3-year-old Indian girl who was found dead in a culvert after being reported missing by her foster father, has been buried in an undisclosed location, her mother's attorneys said today, citing intense media glare and threats of grave desecration. Sherin, reported missing on October 7, was found dead in a culvert about 1 km from her home in suburban Dallas on October 22.

Her body was released by the Dallas medical examiner last week for funeral but her autopsy report is still awaited. She was adopted by the Indian-American couple, Wesley Mathews and Sini Mathews, from an orphanage in India last year.

Her funeral was held "according to the religious beliefs and the cultural heritage of her family", attorneys Mitchell Nolte and Gregg Gibbs said in a statement.

The burial location was kept a secret, the attorneys said, who confirmed to WFAA TV that Sini attended the ceremony along with close family and friends.

In a statement said the funeral took place at an undisclosed location "because of personal security concerns and threats of grave desecration." Despite a community petition seeking permission to perform a public interfaith burial for Sherin, the ceremony was private, they said.

Sherin's 37-year-old father, Wesley, told police that he put her outside at 3 am to discipline her for not drinking her milk. He changed the story after her body was found in the culvert and told police that he "assisted" with pouring the milk down Sherin's throat and then moved her body after he realised she had choked and died.

Wesley was arrested and charged with felony injury to a child, which carries a sentence of up to life in prison. He is still in the Dallas County jail on a USD 1 million bond. He has also been placed under suicide watch. Sini, a nurse, says she was sleeping during the incident and had nothing to do with Sherin's death.

Sini said in a statement last week she had nothing to do with the death of her adopted special needs daughter and she has been cooperative with police. She has not been charged. The Mathews' biological 4-year-old daughter was taken away by the Child Protective Services after Sherin disappeared. A Dallas County judge last week postponed the custody hearing until November 13 to allow Wesley to hire a civil attorney. -- PTI
16:39   Attacks on two Indian students reported to police in Italy
India has taken up with police the attacks on two of its nationals in northern Italy and will leave no stone unturned to bring the perpetrators to justice, the Indian Consulate General in Milan has said. The Consulate General of India (CGI) on Monday said it had received reports of assaults on Indian students in Milan.

In a Facebook statement yesterday, the CGI said that two Indian students had been attacked. The CGI said it had informed the parents of Indian students studying in Milan that all students are safe.

"The matter of attacks on two students has been reported to the police and details of the incidents have been shared," it said. "The Consulate will follow it up and will leave no stone unturned to bring the perpetrators to justice," it said. All expenses of their treatment will be borne by the Consulate.-- PTI
16:30   'Not heard of any plan to build tunnel to divert Brahmaputra water'
A senior Chinese official, in-charge of water projects, today said he has never heard of any plan to build a 1,000-km long tunnel to divert water from the Brahmaputra river from Tibet to the parched Xinjiang, a day after the Chinese Foreign Ministry debunked a media report on it.

Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post on Monday reported that Chinese engineers were testing techniques that could be used to build the tunnel, the world's longest, to divert water from the Brahmaputra river in Tibet close to Arunachal Pradesh to arid regions of Xinjiang. -- PTI
16:23   The dragon in the room
A South Asian crisis is still brewing after US Secretary Rex Tillerson's speed visits to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. The brief encounter in Islamabad confirmed the gulf in Pakistan-US positions. Read more
16:20   Rlys extends exec class free travel to Ashok, Kirti Chakra awardees
Ashok Chakra and Kirti Chakra awardees can now travel for free in executive class in any train for life, giving them travel benefits at par with the recipients of Param Vir Chakra and Maha Vir Chakra, according to the railways. As per a 2014 policy, the Railways Ministry provides free travel passes for 1st AC Class/Executive Class to Param Vir Chakra and Maha Vir Chakra awardees.
-- PTI
15:23   Cooking gas, jet fuel prices hiked
Cooking gas (LPG) price was today hiked by Rs 4.50 per cylinder, the 19th increase in rates since July 2016 when the government decided to eliminate subsidy on it by raising prices every month. Also, jet fuel or ATF price was increased by 2 per cent on firming international rates, the fourth straight increase in rates since August, according to price notification posted by state-owned retailers.

The price of non-subsidised LPG or market priced cooking gas has been hiked by Rs 93 to Rs 742 per bottle. At the last revision on October 1 the rate was hiked by Rs 50 to Rs 649 per bottle. Subsidised LPG price has been hiked by Rs 4.50 per 14.2- kg cylinder to Rs 495.69. -- PTI
15:21   Govt. took land of poor and gave it to Tata: Rahul
More musings from Rahul Gandhi.

The Congress vice president lashed out at the BJP and the industrialists of Gujarat, saying that the latter are being given privileges, whereas the poor farmers are being suppressed in the state, due to the initiatives of the government.

While addressing a gathering here in the poll bound state of Gujarat, Rahul said, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government sanctioned loan of Rs 33,000 crore for the manufacturing of Tata Nano cars in Gujarat, but not a single one can be seen on the roads.

"They (Government) took the land of the poor and gave it to the Tatas. They would have waived the loan of the farmers in Rs 33,000. In spite of all these things, we are not able to find a single Nano car on roads today. This is Narendra Modi's Gujarat model," he said.

"All the water is supplied to the rich industrialists in the region. Farmers are suffering and are being suppressed in the state," he added.Further setting up an attack on the ruling party, the Congress vice president said, 90 percent of colleges in Gujarat are in the hands of big industrialists; poor cannot afford because of the high fees. -- ANI
14:47   Ease of doing corruption replaced by ease of doing business: Jaitley
Hitting out at Rahul Gandhi and the Congress, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley tweeted, "The difference between the UPA & NDA -- The ease of doing corruption has been replaced by the ease of doing business."

The tweet comes after the Congress's vice president targeted the finance minister saying the entire country will shout to say that there is no ease of doing business in India.

The finance minister, Gandhi added, should meet small and mid-sized businessman for five-10 minutes and ask if the ease of doing business had really improved.

According to the World Bank, Indias rank on ease of doing business scale has risen from 130 to 100 this year, helped by a slew of reforms in taxation, licensing, investor protection and bankruptcy resolution.
14:25   Obama, Clinton express solidarity with NY attack victims
Former US presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton today expressed solidarity with the victims of the New York terror attack that claimed eight lives.

A 29-year-old Uzbek immigrant, allegedly inspired by the Isamic State, ploughed a pickup truck down a crowded bike-only path in lower Manhattan, in the deadliest terrorist attack in New York City since the 9/11 incident.

At least eight people were killed and 11 others injured in the attack, while the suspect was arrested.

"Michelle and I are thinking of the victims of today's attack in NYC and everyone who keeps us safe. New Yorkers are as tough as they come," Obama, 56, said in a tweet, which was retweeted by former first lady Michelle Obama.

Bill Clinton, 71, also took to the social media site to express his condemnation for terrorism.

"New Yorkers see this attack for what it is -- an attempt to sow fear. We stand against terror as we grieve for the victims and thank the @NYPD," the 42nd president of the United States tweeted.

Former White House contender Hillary Clinton, 70, denounced the attack as a "cowardly act".

"New York's resilience is stronger than a cowardly act of terror. Thinking of the victims, their families, & the responders who saved lives," she posted on Twitter.

Republican Senator and Chairman of Senate Armed Services Committee John McCain said, "Praying for all those impacted by the tragedy in #NewYorkCity. Thanks to first responders & law enforcement for their quick action."

-- PTI
14:04   Japan MPs re-elect Abe after election landslide
Japan's parliament today formally re-elected Shinzo Abe as prime minister after his party's crushing election victory, setting the 63-year-old on track to become the country's longest-serving premier.

MPs voted by a huge majority to re-install Abe, after his conservative Liberal Democratic Party swept to a two-thirds "super majority" on October 22.

During the campaign Abe had stressed the need for strong leadership to deal with what he called Japan's "twin crises", a belligerent and nuclear-armed North Korea and a shrinking birth rate.

He has also vowed to start a debate on the controversial issue of making changes to Japan's US-imposed post-war constitution to bolster the role of the military in the formally pacifist country.

In the 465-seat lower house, Abe won 312 votes from the conservative ruling bloc.

In the 242-seat upper house, Abe won a majority vote of 151 votes, returning him to the top Japanese political post.
13:48   And this is how Sheena's body lay in the bag...
Without a moment's hesitation, Shyamvar Rai jumped up on his rickety wooden stool in the witness box. He then drew his legs close to his body and wrapped his arms around his knees and finally tucked his head into his knees demonstrating the fetal position. Vaihayasi Pande Daniel reports from the Sheena Bora murder trial.  Do read
13:45   Indians unhurt in New York city terror attack: Consulate
No Indian casualties have been reported in the deadly terror attack in New York city that killed at least eight people, the Consul General of India in New York said today. At least eight persons were killed and 11 others were injured after an Uzbek man allegedly inspired by the ISIS ploughed a pickup truck down a crowded bike path near the World Trade Centre.

"Our sources in the New York Police Department (NYPD) indicate there are no Indian names amongst the casualties. So far preliminary information," the consulate tweeted. The Indian mission is in touch with the NYPD to ascertain more details, it said.

New York city has been largely spared from terrorism since nearly 3,000 people were killed in the September 11, 2001, attacks. The most recent violence from terrorism there came in September 2016, when a man set off shrapnel-packed explosives in the Chelsea neighbourhood of Manhattan. Nobody was killed, but 30 people were injured.

Trucks have become a common weapon for terrorists in recent years. In July 2016, as thousands of people crammed into the streets of Nice, France, for a Bastille Day celebration, an assailant influenced by Islamic State drove a 19-tonne cargo truck into a crowd, leaving 86 dead and 434 injured.  -- PTI

Image: NYPD investigators at the crime scene near the biking track in lower Manhattan, New York. Photograph: Brendan McDermid/Reuters
13:25   Everyone knows truth but let Jaitley be happy: Rahul on Ease of Biz report
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has taken on the government over India's promotion in the World Bank rankings on Ease of Doing Business, saying, "everyone knows the truth".

"Sabko maloom hai 'ease of doing business' ki hakikat, lekin khud ko khush rakhne ke liye 'Dr Jaitley' yeh khyaal acha hai," tweeted Gandhi.

The Congress vice-president was referring to India's 30 place jump in World Bank's Ease of Doing Business rankings. While the government has been sounding it as an endorsement of the reforms implemented by the Narendra Modi government, the World Bank in its report had stated that it took into account only the two major Indian cities of Mumbai and Delhi.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, citing the report, had said that India was the only major country to have been named for undertaking structural reforms by the World Bank. "Biggest jump India got in the ease of doing business was on taxation reforms," Jaitley said.

Gandhi, who was on Wednesday addressing a rally in Gujarat's Bharuch district, continued his attack in his speech and said, "Congress leaders pleaded with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and the government to not implement Goods and Services Tax (GST) in haste by they refused. GST should never be over 18% and there should not be multiple taxes."
13:10   Siddaramaiah does a Raj Thackeray
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Wednesday said that people living in Karnataka should learn Kannada and emphasised that not knowing the regional language would mean showing disrespect to it. Siddaramaiah was speaking at the 62nd Karnataka Rajyotsava celebrated  in Bengaluru's Kanteerava stadium.

"Everyone who lives here is a Kannadiga. Whoever lives in Karnataka should learn Kannada and make their children learn it too," Siddaramaiah said and added, "I am not against learning any language. But if you don't learn Kannada, it means you're showing disrespect to the language."

The CM also asked the Kannadigas to be more affectionate towards their state's language. 

Raj Thackeray, in a party meeting recently stated that the Maharashtra Nivnirman Sena was a Maharashtra-specific party and that he would not compromise on the Marathi cause and the development of the state. 

-- ANI
12:54   Nadella, Pichai condemn terror attack in New York
Satya Nadella and Sundar Pichai, the India-born CEOs of tech giants Microsoft and Google, today decried the New York terror attack, describing the incident as a "horrific act of violence" which claimed eight lives.

A 29-year-old Uzbek man, allegedly inspired by the ISIS, today ploughed a pickup truck down a crowded bike-only path in lower Manhattan, in the deadliest terrorist attack in the New York City since September 11, 2001.

At least eight people were killed and 11 others injured in the attack, while the suspect was arrested. "Our hearts and thoughts are with the victims, their loved ones, and all those in New York City impacted by this horrific act of violence," Nadella, 50, tweeted.

The CEO of the Microsoft Corporation, who is originally from Hyderabad in India, now lives in Washington. "So sad to see the senseless loss of lives in NYC, thoughts and prayers with everyone affected there. Gratitude to NYPD, FDNY and first responders there #NYCStrong," Pichai posted on Twitter.
-- PTI

File Pic: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella
12:48   Mallya holidaying in London, what did Modi do?, asks Rahul
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is on a three-day visit to Gujarat, his first after the Election Commission announced the dates for the upcoming assembly elections. Rahul Gandhi will begin the third leg of his 'Navsarjan Yatra' from Jambusar, where he will meet people and address their issues.

Attacking the prime minister on the Gujarat development model, Rahul Gandhi said: "If you go to a hospital in Gujarat model, you will get thrown without lakhs of rupees in your pocketsGujarat model hai bhaiya , Gujarat model. If you don't have money, then work doesn't get done here"

On PM Modi's promise to unearth black money in Swiss bank accounts, Rahul Gandhi said: "Modiji doesn't understand that all money is not black money; black money is that which is buried underground. It's been 3 years since Modi govt; how many Swiss bank account holders are behind bars? Modi spoke of Swiss bank accounts and black money, what did he do to bring it back? Look at Vijay Mallya, he's enjoying himself in London. What did Modiji do?"
11:56   House of Cards production indefinitely suspended
The 'House of Cards' is slowly and steadily collapsing to the ground.

According to E! Online, the streaming giant and producer Media Rights Capital has decided to suspend the production of the sixth and final season of the series, starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright.

The companies said in a joint statement, "MRC and Netflix have decided to suspend production on 'House of Cards' season six, until further notice, to give us time to review the current situation and to address any concerns of our cast and crew."

The move comes just two days after 'Star Trek' actor Anthony Rapp revealed that Spacey attempted to sexually assault him in 1986, when Rapp was just 14.

Spacey, who was aged 26 at the time, claims he does not remember the alleged attempted assault but issued a public apology which he also used to come out as gay.

Less than 24 hours later, Netflix announced it was cancelling 'House of Cards' after its sixth season, which was still in production.

Season six of 'House of Cards' had been expected to consist of 13 episodes and debut in mid-2018 on Netflix. It is unclear yet how the stop of production would impact that.  -- PTI

Image: Kevin Spacey with Robin Wright in the rivetting House of Cards
11:32   'I am living like an animal taking its last breaths'
As the harsh Nagpur winter approaches, the inhabitants of the city's Central Jail brace for a period of discomfort.One among them will find it particularly hard to cope.

Diagnosed with permanent post-polio paralysis of the legs, he is 90% disabled, dependent on a wheelchair and needs help to perform necessary bodily functions. He also has high blood pressure, spinal pain and a heart problem.

Professor G N Sai Baba of Delhi University was convicted in March under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for having links with Maoists, and sentenced to life imprisonment by a sessions court in Gadchiroli.He is currently in solitary confinement in the notorious 'Anda Cell'.

Read the interview by Jyoti Punwani on
11:12   Saipov left a mile-long crime scene
Sayfullo Saipov left a roughly mile-long crime scene: a tree-lined bike path strewn with mangled bicycles and their parts. Police said the truck drove south after entering a pedestrian and bicycle path, where it struck multiple people.

Six men were pronounced dead at the scene on the cycle lane and two other people were dead on arrival at the hospital.

After smashing the truck into a school bus, injuring two adults and two children, the suspect exited the truck displaying "imitation firearms" and was shot by police, according to the New York police department.

"I heard a truck, a car, something going down the bike path," said witness Eugene Duffy, 44, who was waiting at a red light to walk across West Street. The driver shouted 'Allahu Akbar' after getting out of the vehicle, New York Post reported. A note in English was found in the truck that referred to the Islamic State terror group, media reports said. -- PTI

Image: NYPD police officers at the scene of crime. Pic courtesy: @NYPDSpeechley
10:59   The NYC attack so far...
Update on the terror attack in Manhattan.

--  Eight people have been killed and 11 injured when a man, who has been identified as Sayfullo Saipov, of Uzbek origin, drove a rental truck through a New York city cycle lane.

--  Among the dead are five Argentinians, friends on holiday, to celebrate the anniversary of their graduation.

-- A Belgian woman, who was visiting the city with her sister and mother is also one of the fatalities.

-- Saipov, 29, was shot in the abdomen by the police and has undergone surgery and remains in critical condition in hospital. 

--  US authorities have called the attack an act of terror.

IMAGE: A woman is aided by after sustaining injury in lower Manhattan in New York after a man ran a truck through the busy bike path. Photograph: Brendan McDermid/Reuters.
10:54   NYC terror suspect drove for Uber
Saifullo Saipov the man accused of driving a rental truck into a group of pedestrians and cyclists in New York was a driver with Uber. is

The Guardian said that Uber confirmed that Saipov passed the background check to become one its drivers.

A 29-year-old Uzbekistan national, Saipov, is of Uzbek descent, and was shot in the stomach before being arrested. He lived in New Jersey.

At least eight people were killed and 11 others injured in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon local time after a gunman in a truck plowed through a busy bike path, an incident the United States termed as an "act of terrorism".

Uber has released a statement on the incident saying, "We are horrified by this senseless act of violence. Our hearts are with the victims and their families. We have reached out to law enforcement to provide our full assistance."

The Guardian report said Saipov has now been banned from the app.

Saipov has undergone surgery and remains in critical condition in hospital, but is expected to survive.

Image: Saifullo Saipov. Pic courtesy: St Charles County, Department of Corrections.  
10:53   President completes 100 days in office
Back in India, President Ram Nath Kovind has completed 100 days in office today.  Kovind, who took over on July 25 as the 14th president, and has sought to reach out to the states, which form a crucial part of the federal structure of the country, by undertaking visits there.  As president, Kovind also undertook his first foreign visit to Djibouti and Ethiopia from October 3 to 6. "It was a tightly-packed visit involving lot of travel and no rest," an official said. The officials said Kovind has also ensured speedy decision-making. -- PTI

Image: The President paid floral tributes to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, on the occasion of his birth anniversary at Rashtrapati Bhavan, yesterday.
09:58   Rupee spurts 12 paise against dollar to 64.63
The rupee today positively reacted to India's jump on Ease of Doing Business ranking by rising 12 paise to 64.63 against the dollar. The World Bank's list was released yesterday.

Banks and exporters liquidated their dollar bets and domestic stocks soared to new highs, which gave the rupee a leg-up, forex traders said.

However, the US currency's strength against other units had a sobering effect here, dealers said. Yesterday, the rupee had moved higher by 10 paise to end at a fresh two-week high of 64.75 against the dollar.

The benchmark BSE Sensex rallied 238.16 points to hit an all-time high of 33,451.29 while the NSE Nifty crossed the 10,400-point mark for the first time in early trade today. -- PTI
09:32   Markets hit a new high! NIFTY at 10,400 for first time
The Sensex and Nifty started off Wednesday's trade with record highs, backed by banks, metals and telecom stocks. 

The rally was after the World Bank said India's rank on 'ease of doing business' scale has risen from 130th to 100th this year, helped by a slew of reforms in taxation, licensing, investor protection and bankruptcy resolution.

The Sensex was up 209.28 points or 0.63 per cent at 33,422.41 and the Nifty rose 61.20 points or 0.59 per cent to 10,396.50.
09:20   New York attack: Trump orders 'extreme vetting' of foreign travellers
US President Donald Trump said today he had ordered more robust "extreme vetting" of travellers coming into the US in the aftermath of the first deadly terror attack in New York since the September 11, 2001 carnage in the city.

At least eight people were killed and 11 others injured in Lower Manhattan today after a gunman in a truck ploughed through a busy bike path, an incident the US termed as an "act of terrorism".

The suspect, 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov said to be from Uzbekistan, was shot in the stomach before being arrested.

"I have just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already extreme vetting programme. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!" Trump tweeted.

Trump also changed the banner on his Twitter account to the New York skyline.

His administration announced last week that it would resume accepting refugees after a 120-day ban, though arrivals from 11 "high-risk" countries, most of them home to Muslim majorities, will still be blocked.
08:20   PM Modi, President Kovind condemn New York terror attack
Shortly after eight people were killed in New York city after a man ploughed down people, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind condemned the attack. 

PM Modi wrote on Twitter, "Strongly condemn the terror attack in New York City. My thoughts are with the families of the deceased & prayers with those injured."

President Kovind too took to Twitter, writing, "Shocked to hear of terrorist attack in New York. Our condolences to bereaved families. India stands by United States."

This is the first death in a terrorist attack in New York since 9/11. This is also the first truck attack by a terrorist in New York.
08:17   NYC terror truck driver pledged allegiance to Islamic State
The man who allegedly ran down cyclists and pedestrians along 17 Manhattan blocks pledged his allegiance to Islamic State before his attack, it has emerged. 

Police sources say Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, 29, entered a bicycle path at Houston Street at 3.05pm and drove downtown, knocking down victims before smashing into a school bus at  Chambers Street.

He then waved a paintball gun in one hand and a pellet gun in the other, and was shot in the abdomen by a police officer. He has now exited surgery and police are waiting for him to wake up before they question him. 

Images of Islamic State flags were found in his truck, as well as handwritten notes pledging his allegiance to the terrorist group, insiders told the New York Post.

Details began to emerge about Saipov's life.

He was an Uzbekistan native who had lived in the US for seven years, ran two trucking companies and was a 'friendly' Uber driver, sources claim.

And although he was reportedly found with a Florida ID when arrested, he had lived most recently in New Jersey, and ran two trucking companies located in Ohio.

He was also said to be a friendly Uber driver who was good with kids - and did not like people taking his photo.

Image:  NYPD officers stand guard during the annual Halloween parade after a man driving a rental truck struck and killed eight people on a jogging and bike path in Lower Manhattan. Photograph: Kena Betancur/Getty Images
08:04   UPDATE: 'We must not allow Islamic State to return': Trump after NYC attack
US President Donald J Trump has condemned the 'terrorist attack' in New York that left at least eight people dead and 11 others injured. 
'Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of today's terrorist attack in New York City and their families,' Trump said in a statement after a 29-year-old man, identified as Sayfullo Saipov, plowed a speeding truck through a busy bike path in Lower Manhattan.

Saipov, said to be from Uzbekistan, is in police custody. He was arrested after being shot in the stomach.

Earlier, Trump took to Twitter to decry the attack, saying, 'We must not allow ISIS to return.'

'In NYC, looks like another attack by a very sick and deranged person. Law enforcement is following this closely. NOT IN THE U.S.A.!' Trump tweeted.

'We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere. Enough!' he said in another tweet.
08:02   Argentines among dead in New York attack
Argentine nationals were among the eight people killed in the New York truck attack today, the foreign ministry said, as its consulate works with local authorities to identify the victims.

The Argentinian government is "deeply shocked by the death of the compatriots and is working to help the relatives and friends of the victims," the foreign ministry said, declining to indicate how many of its nationals had died.

"Argentina reaffirms its strongest condemnation of terrorist acts and violence in all its manifestations and reiterates the need to deepen the fight against this scourge," it added in the statement.

US officials said eleven people were also seriously hurt in the first deadly attack on the city since the September 11, 2001 Al Qaeda hijackings.
06:50   Sapiov pledged allegiance to ISIS: New York Post
Law enforcement officials told the New York Post newspaper that they had recovered handwritten notes in Arabic pledging loyalty to ISIS along with an image of an ISIS flag inside Sayfullo Saipov's truck after he was shot and arrested.
06:45   Video shows Saipov fleeing the scene
The New York Post posted a video, which the newspaper said showed Sayfullo Saipov fleeing the scene after crashing his truck into bikers and pedestrians in the Wall Street area of Manhattan.
06:45   'Why trucks are now the terrorist weapon of choice'
'All you need is a car, truck, or van, a crowd of people, and a driver willing to kill,' Vox explains in this feature.
06:33   Uzbek drove truck that killed 8 people
The truck driver who killed 8 people and injured several others has been identified as Sayfullo Saipov, a 29 year old of Uzbek descent.
The New York Post newspaper posted a photograph of Saipov being arrested -- he was shot in the abdomen by the police, later underwent surgery and is expected to recover -- by the New York police.
05:14   LIVE! 8 dead in New York terror attack
At least eight people were killed and 11 other injured in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon local time after a gunman in a truck plowed through a busy bike path, an incident the US termed as an 'act of terrorism'. 
The suspect, a 29-year-old man, was shot in the stomach before being arrested.
According to the police, at approximately 3:05 pm (local time) the suspect drove a rented Home Depot truck onto the bike and pedestrian path at West St/Houston Street driving south.
While driving south on the path the truck collided with a school bus at West St & Chambers St. After colliding with the school bus, the man exited holding two firearms. 
An officer assigned to the area fired, striking him in the stomach, the police said. "The driver of the truck was taken into custody. A paintball gun and pellet gun were recovered from the scene," the police said. 
01:13   India getting divided in name of 'narrow nationalism': Sonia
Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday said that the country was getting increasingly divided in the name of "narrow nationalism" as "forces of darnkess" seek to engulf it.
Gandhi said the liberal, tolerant Indian ethos that former prime minister late Indira Gandhi embodied is being rejected and repudiated.
"In today's times, when our country finds itself increasingly divided in the name of a narrow nationalism, the Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration is a recognition of the values she stood for," she said in her speech read out by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi.
Gandhi said Sonia Gandhi has been ill but was keen to attend the function to give away the 30th Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration. Rahul said he dissuaded her from attending the event and read out her speech.
"The Award reminds all of us that like her we must be undaunted, unafraid and uncompromising against the forces of darkness that seek to engulf our land," she said.
The Congress vice president and former prime minister Manmohan Singh jointly presented the award to Carnatic Music  singer T M Krishna, for his exemplary services in promoting national integration.
Sonia said the idea of India that Indira Gandhi fought for has been thrown fundamentally into question by the "rising intolerance" that one witnessed today.
Singh, in his brief speech, called for reaffirming commitment to the values Indira Gandhi stood for and celebrate India's diversity.
"At a time when our society is facing a danger of deepening divisions, true patritism demands that we follow the path shown by Indira Gandhi and work for social and regional cohesion even as we celebrate our diversity," Singh said.
The Congress president said, "The liberal, tolerant Indian ethos that Indira Gandhi embodied in her life and beliefs is openly rejected and repudiated. The precious idea of national integration has never been more necessary than today."
She alleged a view of Indianness that is one-sided, discriminatory and even warped was being thrust upon the country. -- PTI