Thu, 30 November 2017
Trump planning to replace Tillerson with CIA chief, says report

Timeline  Refresh

23:02   Trump planning to replace Tillerson with CIA chief, says report
The Trump administration is mulling to replace incumbent United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo.

The switch is likely to happen 'within the next several weeks', reported the New York Times, citing senior administration officials as saying.

However, the White House immediately issued a statement saying Tillerson 'continues to lead the State Department'.

According to the reports, Sebastian Gorka, former advisor to President Donald Trump, told Breitbart in October, Pompeo is 'very loyal to the President'.

"Having somebody like Pompeo come into the State Department would be great news," Gorka added.

The report said Pompeo's role will be assigned to Republican Senator Tom Cotton at the CIA who had been a key ally of President Trump on national security matters.

The senator has advised Trump on issues like the Iran nuclear deal and immigration.

Pompeo, 53, served as a Congressman from Kansas before heading the CIA.

Cotton, a 40-year-old Army veteran, first won his Senate seat in 2014.

The report said White House chief of staff John F Kelly developed the transition plan.

However it is yet unclear if Trump has given final approval to the plan.

Tillerson has been at odds with Trump over a host of major issues.

Their approaches have disparities on North Korea and Iran's nuclear programme among other issues.

The Secretary of State was even reported to have described the president as a 'moron'.

Trump had publicly criticised Tillerson for 'wasting his time' with a diplomatic outreach to North Korea. -- ANI
22:56   Obama to address town hall in Delhi tomorrow
Former United States President Barack Obama will address a town hall in New Delhi tomorrow, the Obama Foundation has said.

Obama, who arrived in India today, will also address the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit tomorrow.

He is likely to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

At the town hall, the former US president, in his first visit to India after demitting office in January, will interact with nearly 300 young leaders drawn from various parts of the country.

'The town hall will expand the conversation about what it means to be an active citizen and make an impact and how the Obama Foundation can support emerging leaders in this effort,' the Foundation said in an update.  -- PTI
22:49   Anil Ambani group to sue Singhvi for Rs 5,000 crore
The Anil Ambani-led Reliance group today said it will file a Rs 5,000-crore defamation suit against Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi for making 'false and defamatory statements'.

A Reliance group spokesperson said: "Abhishek Singhvi has made false, defamatory and libelous statements against the group. We will be filing a Rs 5,000-crore suit for damages against Singhvi for making these false and defamatory statements."

Earlier in the day, Singhvi had accused Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of 'fooling' people with his statement that no loans of big defaulters have been waived and claimed that the government had written off Rs 1.88 lakh crore debt of 'those who had wilfully defaulted'.  -- PTI
21:55   Pause in declining trend: Chidambaram on GDP figures
Congress leader P Chidambaram today welcomed the rise in India's groos domestic product growth rate but on a cautious note, saying it is a pause in the declining trend and one should wait for the next three-four quarters before drawing a definite conclusion.

'Happy that the July-Sep quarter has registered a growth rate of 6.3%. This a PAUSE in the declining trend of the last five quarters.

'But we cannot say now whether this will mark an upward trend in the growth rate. We should wait for the growth rates over the next 3-4 quarters before we can reach a definite conclusion,' he said in a series of tweets.

Chidambaram also said that '6.3 per cent is far below the promise of the Modi government and far below the potential of a well-managed Indian economy'.

The former finance minister said this after India reported a 6.3 per cent GDP growth rate in the July-September quarter of the current fiscal.

Reversing the five quarters of slowing GDP growth, Indian economy expanded by 6.3 per cent in July-September on the back of a pick-up in manufacturing.  -- PTI
21:37   Hizbul chief Salahuddin's son injured in Tihar jail scuffle
Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin's son, who is lodged in Tihar jail in connection with terror-funding cases, was among the 18 prisoners injured in a scuffle with security guards, officials said today.

All the 18 prisoners, including Syed Shahid Yusuf, were injured when the personnel of the Tamil Nadu special force intervened after one of their physically handicapped officers was assaulted by three inmates at Tihar central jail number 1 on the intervening night of November 21-22 during checking.

These facts were conveyed by Tihar jail authorities to the Union Home Ministry in a report submitted yesterday, a ministry official said.

The injured prisoners are being examined by a three- member team of doctors from the AIIMS in New Delhi.

A fact-finding team, headed by a district judge rank officer, has been constituted to investigate the entire incident.

The commandant of the Tamil Nadu special force battalion deployed in Tihar jail has also been asked to conduct a separate detailed probe into the incident and take appropriate action against anyone found negligent, the official said.

Giving details of the incident, the official quoting the Tihar jail report said, three prisoners, including a Kashmiri, were found to be having unauthorised materials and when Tamil Nadu special force sub inspector Muthu Pandee tried to remove them, the inmates resisted and assaulted him.

As the officer, who is physically handicapped, was alleged beaten up by the three inmates, other policemen intervened in which the 18 prisoners, including Yusuf were injured.

After the incident, the team of Tamil Nadu special force was removed from the active jail duties.

The jail authorities have deposited the relevant evidence, including CCTV footage, to the probe teams, the official said.

All employees of the Tihar have been sensitised and asked to ensure that inherent dignity of the prisoners, while carrying out searches, are protected, the official said.

On Tuesday, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had telephoned Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba to enquire about the Tihar incident.

Mehbooba spoke to Gauba about social media reports on the alleged assault of Kashmiri prisoners in Tihar jail and urged him to ensure their safety.

"A prison is considered to be the safest place but the alleged incidents that have come to light put a question mark on it," she said in a statement.  -- PTI
20:47   Winter across India to be colder than last year: IMD
Winter this year is likely to be colder than last year but warmer than normal across the country, particularly in the northern region, the India Meteorological Department said today.

During the period between December, 2017 and February, 2018, warmer than normal maximum and minimum temperatures are likely across the country, the IMD said.

"However, the season's mean temperatures in most of the subdivisions are likely to be cooler than last year," IMD Director General K J Ramesh said.

The season's average maximum temperature is likely to be warmer by a degree Celsius in Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi, eastern and western Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, central Maharashtra, Vidarbha, Marathwada, west and east Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur and Mizoram, the IMD said in its winter forecast.

The last winter season 2016-17 witnessed an anomaly of 1 degree Celsius, which was the fourth warmest recorded since 1901.

"There is moderate, that is 40 per cent, probability of minimum temperatures in the core cold wave zone during the season to be above normal," the IMD said.

The core cold wave zone covers Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha and Telangana, Marathwada, Vidarbha, Saurashtra and central Maharashtra.

"This suggests occurrence of cold wave conditions in the core cold wave zone during the 2017/18 cold weather season is likely to be normal to less than normal," the forecast said.

The IMD also said that analysis of minimum temperature data over the country during the last four decades suggested a decreasing trend in the frequency and duration of cold waves in many parts of the country.

"This is in tune with the deceasing trends in cold waves observed over many parts of the world. One of the reasons behind the decreasing trend in the cold wave is global warming," the forecast said.

The IMD started issuing winter forecast last year after several deaths were reported due to cold waves. It said, on an average, 780 deaths, particularly of homeless people, take place due to cold wave each year. -- PTI
19:58   GST: 12, 18 per cent rates to be merged; 28% on few goods: Jaitley
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today hinted at merging 12 and 18 per cent tax rates under Goods and Services Tax once revenue collections pick up and said the top 28 per cent slab would be for a 'very thin' list of luxury and sin goods.

GST, rolled out on July 1, currently has four tax slabs of 5, 12 18 and 28 per cent. There is also a zero per cent tax on certain essential daily use commodities.

Speaking at the HT Leadership Summit, Jaitley said the new indirect tax regime started with multiple rates in order to keep the tax incidence around the same level that existed pre-GST.

Stating that the country would eventually move to a two- tier GST, he said that how fast it could be done would depend on the revenue position of the government.

"We have thinned down the 28 per cent bracket, we can thin down more and it can be at some stage confined to luxury and demerit goods," Jaitley said, adding that as GST collections improve, the government would see if there is a scope for merging 12 and 18 per cent slabs.

He said the merging of 12 and 18 per cent slab would mean some items in 12 per cent bracket will be sent to 5 per cent, resulting in two rates of 5 per cent and another 'X' per cent.

Also, there will be a 'very thin' list of items in the highest tax slab of 28 per cent.

"Eventually, that will be the direction. But how fast you can do it will depend on how the revenues pick up," he said.

He said a single rate GST is possible only in countries which have similarly placed population and in a highly differentiated society like India it would have been inflationary.

"Can you have a GST in India where a Mercedes car and a hawai chappal is taxed at the same rate? That's socially not acceptable," Jaitley said.

He said before the implementation of GST on July 1, most of the goods, including geometry box, rubber bands, copy books, were being taxed at 31 per cent.

"So, temporary we parked them at 28 per cent. I had thought it would take a lot more time to rationalise it but most of them we have brought it down to 18 and 12 per cent now. So, we have started the rationalisation ahead of schedule," he said.

Jaitley said there was a need to reduce the compliance burden on small and medium enterprises.

Under the GST regime, 95 per cent of tax comes from 4 lakh assessees, who pay their taxes on time.

"The noise comes from several other areas and I think there is a need for the millions (of businesses) who pay the balance 5 per cent tax to actually reduce the compliance burden on them. And I do consider it is a legitimate noise. Therefore, reducing that compliance burden is something that is called for," he said.  -- PTI
19:45   Rahul's Kerala programme cancelled due to inclement weather
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi's two-day visit to Thiruvananthapuram, has been cancelled due to inclement weather prevailing in the southern districts of Kerala.

The Congress leader was scheduled to inaugurate the concluding function of 'Padayorukkam,' a state-wide campaign by party-led United Democratic Front against the 'misrule' of the Bharatiya Janata Party government at the Centre and the Communist Party of India-Marxist-led Left Democratic Front government in Kerala, in Thiruvananthapuram tomorrow.

'Padayorukkam' conclusion function which was planned to be inaugurated by Rahul on December 1, 2017 has been postponed due to adverse weather conditions, Leader of Opposition in the assembly Ramesh Chennithala said in a Facebook post.

The revised date will be announced soon, he added.

Rahul was also slated to address a meeting of the state party leaders at the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee headquarters 'Indira Bhavan' and attend the birth centenary celebration of former Revolutionary Socialist Party leader Baby John, in Thiruvanthapuram on December 2.  -- PTI
19:04   GST, DeMo impact behind us: Jaitley on increased GDP growth
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley addresses the media on gross domestic product growth figures. Excerpts:

- Last five quarters had witnessed a downward trend. GDP at 6.3 per cent marks the reversal of that trend.

- Demonetisation and GST's impact is behind us and hopefully in coming quarters, we can look for an upwards trajectory.

- The most significant aspect is the fact that this quarter's positive result has been impacted significantly by the growth in manufacturing.  -- ANI
18:49   Antony hospitalised after light brain stroke; condition stable
The condition of former defence minister A K Antony, admitted to a hospital in new Delhi after a mild brain stroke, is stable, doctors today said.

The 76-year-old Member of Parliament and senior Congress leader was admitted to the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital yesterday.

"He had suffered a mild brain stroke following which he was brought here. His condition is stable at present, and no surgery is required at the moment," a senior doctor of the hospital said.

Antony, who is from Kerala, was the defence minister in the previous UPA government.

He served in that position for seven-and-a-half years, the longest stint so far for an Indian defence minister.

The former Kerala chief minister was admitted to the Centre-run hospital after he 'suffered a minor brain haemorrhage' when he fell down in his house, a hospital doctor, who did not wish to be named, had said yesterday.

The senior doctor, when asked about his condition, said, "A stroke is not that common at his age, but he had some co- morbid conditions, which could have triggered it."  -- PTI
18:17   Q2 GDP growth rises to 6.3%
Reversing the five quarters of slowing GDP growth, Indian economy expanded by 6.3 per cent in July-September on the back of a pick-up in manufacturing. The gross domestic product (GDP) growth had hit a three- year low of 5.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2017-18. It was 7.5 per cent in the September quarter of 2016-17.

According to Central Statistics Office (CSO) data, the economic activities that registered growth of over 6 per cent in the second quarter are manufacturing, electricity, gas, water supply, other utility services and trade, hotels, transport and communication, and services related to broadcasting. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector is estimated to have grown by 1.7 per cent.

Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, Chief Statistician of India, Dr T C Anant, said: GDP growth recovers to 6.3% in Q2 from a 3-year low of 5.7% in Q1. After almost 5 quarters of decline, GDP marks a reversal which is very encouraging. Manufacturing growth has been one of the main reasons for the encouraging growth rate figure of 6.3 per cent for 2nd Quarter, he added.

Answering a question on how the implementation of GST has impacted the GDP, Anant said it introduced a measure of statistical challenge for us while calculating the growth rate.

Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis reacted with this tweet, "A big blow to all those who were criticising #GST s historic decision! Great News that quarterly GDP growth accelerates to 6.3% against 5.7% from the previous quarter. Thanks to the continuous reforms by Hon @narendramodi ji that our Nation is conquering peaks of success!"
18:08   HC stresses on CCTVs, lighting for women security in Delhi
Better street lighting, CCTV cameras and more public toilets would help to ensure safety and security of women in the city, the Delhi High Court has said. The observation was made when the police told the high court that there are 118 vulnerable locations in the city for which about 587 CCTVs were required to be installed, but their procurement and installation would take a lot of time.
17:42   GDP growth recovers
GDP update. The Gross Domestic Product at constant (2011-12) prices in Q2 of 2017-18 is estimated at Rs 31.66 lakh crore, as against Rs 29.79 lakh crore in Q2 of 2016-17, showing a growth rate of 6.3%.
17:40   Q2 GDP growth rises to 6.3%
Just in:  The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has put the gross domestic product (GDP) growth for the second quarter (July-September) of 2017-18 at 6.3%.

That's a recovery from 5.7 percent in April-June, the slowest in 13 quarters. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said achieving a 10 per cent GDP growth rate is challenging and will depend on how the world is moving. Speaking at the HT Leadership Summit in New Delhi, he said India has done well by growing at 7-8 per cent during the last three years.
17:37   Trump calls NYT pipe organ for Democrats
The Twitter-happy US President @realDonaldTrump "The Failing @nytimes, the pipe organ for the Democrat Party, has become a virtual lobbyist for them with regard to our massive Tax Cut Bill. They are wrong so often that now I know we have a winner!"
17:28   Sensex plunges 453 points on fiscal deficit fears, F&O expiry
The Benchmark Sensex tumbled over 453 points -- its biggest single session fall in one year -- to close at 33,149.35 today on widespread selling triggered by widening fiscal deficit concerns. Official data showed the country's fiscal deficit at the end of October hit 96.1 per cent of the budget estimates for 2017-18. Investors also kept their portfolios at a low ebb ahead of second quarter GDP numbers. -- PTI
17:16   Rahul postpones Kerala visit
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi's visit to Kerala scheduled on 1st-2nd December postponed due to cyclonic conditions in the area.
17:15   Miss World meets Khattar
Miss World 2017 Manushi Chhillar met Chief Minister of Haryana ML Khattar in Kurukshetra. She is originally from Haryana. 
17:14   Monk, who initiated Ambedkar to Buddhism, dies at 90
Buddhist monk Pragyanand, who taught and initiated Dalit icon Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar to Buddhism, died on Thursday in Lucknow at the age of 90.

He was admitted to the Lucknow's King George Medical University Trauma Center on Sunday after he complained of breathlessness and chest pain.

He came to India in 1942, and later, on April 14, 1956, he initiated Dr Ambedkar to Buddhism along with seven other disciples.

Born in Sri Lanka, Pragyanand was the seniormost priest at Baudh Vihar Mandir in Lucknow. -- ANI
17:06   Yogi's UP India's most dangerous state
Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest number of heinous crimes such as murder and those against women in 2016, according to the data of the National Crime Records Bureau released today.

UP, the country's largest state, reported the highest number of cases of murder - 4,889 - accounting for 16.1 per cent followed by Bihar where 2,581 (8.4 per  cent) murders took place last year.

UP registered 14.5 per cent (49,262 cases) of total cases of crime against women followed by West Bengal 9.6 per cent (32,513 cases) during 2016. Rape cases recorded an increase of 12.4 per cent from 34,651 cases in the country in 2015 to 38,947 in 2016.

Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh reported the highest incidence of rape with 4,882 cases (12.5 per cent) and 4,816 (12.4 per cent) followed by Maharashtra 4,189 (10.7 per cent) last year, the NCRB data said.

UP recorded 9.5 per cent of the total IPC crime reporter in the country followed by Madhya Pradesh (8.9 per cent), Maharashtra (8.8 per cent) and Kerala (8.7 per cent).

A total of 37,37,870 people were arrested in the country in 2016 for various crimes while a total of 32,71,262 people were chargesheeted, 7,94,616 were convicted and 11,48,824 people were acquitted or discharged. -- PTI
16:24   Delhi is India's rape capital
Delhi has reported the maximum number of rape cases amongst 19 major cities at 40 per cent, besides the highest crime rate in 2016, according to the data released by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) today.

The national capital has got the dubious distinction of topping the list in cases of murder, kidnapping and abduction, juveniles in conflict and economic offences.

Delhi reported 33 per cent (13,803 cases out of total 41,761 cases in 19 cities) of total crimes against women followed by Mumbai at 12.3 per cent (5,128 cases) last year among the 19 cities with population above two million.

The national capital reported nearly 40 per cent of rape cases and nearly 29 per cent of each of cruelty by husband and his relatives and dowry deaths, the NCRB data said.

Delhi accounted for 38.8 per cent of total IPC crime reported in 19 cities followed by Bengaluru (8.9 per cent) and Mumbai 7. 7 per cent. The national capital recorded the highest crime rate 182.1 compared to the national average of 77.2.

Chennai has reported highest number of cases of Special and Local Laws (SLL) crimes, accounting for 32.9 per cent of total reported cases among the 19 cities, followed by Kochi (12. 9 per cent) and Surat (12.6 per cent) during 2016.

Delhi reported the highest number of kidnapping and abduction - 5,453 cases (48. 3 per cent) followed by Mumbai with 1,876 cases (16.6 per cent) and Bengaluru 879 cases 7. 8 per cent during 2016.  -- PTI

Read the NCRB data for 2015 here.
16:05   Q2 GDP growth at 5:30 pm today
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) will release the gross domestic product (GDP) growth estimates for the second quarter (July-September) of 2017-18 at 5.30 pm today. The Indian economy grew 5.7 percent in April-June, the slowest in 13 quarters. Last year, for the same quarter the GDP was 7.9 per cent, whole the previous quarter showed a growth of 6.1 per cent. The low GDP in the last quarter has been attributed to stock management shock ahead of the GST rollout.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said achieving a 10 per cent GDP growth rate is challenging and will depend on how the world is moving. Speaking at the HT Leadership Summit in New Delhi, he said India has done well by growing at 7-8 per cent during the last three years.

To scale to 10 per cent rate is "very challenging" and it will not depend on domestic factors only but on how the world is moving, he said.
15:53   Over 200 militants killed in J&K in 2017, says top cop
For the first time in seven years, the number of militants killed in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir has crossed 200, according to the state police.

"Today by the collective effort of @JmuKmrPolice, Indian Army, @crpfindia, CAPF and people of Kashmir have led to neutralisation of more than 200 terrorists in the year of 2017 alone," Director General of Police SP Vaid tweeted.

The DGP's tweet came on a day five militants were killed in two separate encounters by the security forces in Kashmir's Budgam and Baramulla districts, officials said in Srinagar.

"This marks a huge landmark for establishing peace and stability in the state of J&K and our country," the DGP added in another tweet.

According to official figures, 200 militants have been killed by the security forces during counter-insurgency operations from 1 January till date this year, which is the highest since 2010. In 2010, 270 militants were killed.

However the number dropped to around 100 per year by the end of 2015. In 2016, 165 militants were killed by the security forces along the Line of Control (LoC) and in the hinterland.

There has been an increase in civilian killings in militancy-related violence as well with 54 civilians getting killed this year compared to 14 last year. The number of security forces killed in militancy-related incidents this year was 77, lower than the 88 fatalities witnessed last year. - PTI
15:35   Kirron Kher slams Oppn for politicising her Chandigarh gang-rape remark
BJP MP Kirron Kher on Thursday cried foul over the controversy her statement on the Chandigarh gang-rape has sparked off and asked the Opposition to not politicise it.

The BJP MP has been facing flak from various quarters after she quipped that the Chandigarh gang-rape victim could have averted the incident by using her 'common sense'.

Kher was alluding to an incident where a 21-year-old girl was allegedly gang-raped by three men while returning home in an auto-rickshaw on November 17.

Speaking to ANI, the parliamentarian said the Opposition was trying to give it a political colour, which was unfortunate."It is very unfortunate that in our country, every statement is politicised. I am a woman and a mother and I have always spoken up for women's rights whether it is in the Parliament or outside. I think to give this a political colour is very unfortunate. It is in extreme poor taste to politicise these things. I am only looking to the security of the girls of the city," she said.

She further requested the political parties to not politicise issues like rape, women security as they were sensitive issues.

The BJP MP further asked all the women to protect themselves and take certain precautions to avert such incidents.

"I would like to tell all the women that the Chandigarh Police provides you with the facility that if you are in a place where you are unable to find a public transport then you can dial 100. The police will then send a PCR to pick you up and drop you to your residence. So I think you should avail this facility. We also have smartphones with which we can click a picture of the number plate of the autorickshaws or of the drivers. We have to learn how to look after ourselves. I am saying this things as a mother, not as a politician," she added.

Speaking at a press conference in Chandigarh, Kher on Wednesday said the woman was allegedly gang-raped by an autodriver and his two accomplices should have applied common sense and not boarded the vehicle as three men were already sitting inside it.

"Bachchi ki samajhdaari ko bhi main thoda sa kehna chahti hun. saari bachiyon ko.. ki already jab koi teen aadmi baithe hue hain uske andar. to aapko usme bethna nahi chahiye tha... I am saying this to protect the girls...," Kher said. 
15:11   Rahul to file nomination for Cong prez at 11:37 am, Dec 4
The All India Congress Committee is making every possible arrangement at the party headquarters at 24 Akbar Road to welcome its future president, Rahul Gandhi.  

Congress leaders now confess that Rahul Gandhi follows Vaastu and the Hindu almanac. In fact, three pandits close to the Gandhi family have chosen 11:37 am as the auspicious time for his ascendancy as the Congress party chief.

According to Rahul Gandhi's horoscope, 11:37 am has been chosen as all the nine planets are aligned which will bring cheer to the Congress in Gujarat.

So on December 4, Monday, at 11:37 am, senior leaders will go to the AICC and file their nomination.  Rahul Gandhi will also be present as he has to sign a paper owing allegience to socialism, secularism and unity in the AICC.

Rahul will submit his nomination papers to the Returning Officer of the AICC polls, M Ramachandran, a Lok Sabha MP and a close confidante of Sonia Gandhi. Ramachandran has been in the Congress for more than four decades.

Tthe Congress president's election starts on December 1 with the issue of the notification and start of nomination filing.

Image: Rahul Gandhi at the Kabir temple in Dahod, Gujarat, last month.
India's fiscal deficit crosses 96 per cent of budget estimates at October-end: Govt data.
14:38   CBFC chief Joshi appears before parl panel on Padmavati
Censor board chief Prasoon Joshi today appeared before a parliamentary panel to brief members about the controversy over "Padmavati" and said the film had not yet been approved, sources said.

Joshi, who is also scheduled to appear before the parliamentary standing committee on IT later in the day, told the Lok Sabha Committee on Petitions that the censor board had only cleared the trailer and promos of the period film.

Sources said the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chief told the panel that a decision on the film would be taken after showing it to experts.

Asked by a member whether as censor board chief he had seen the film, Joshi is learnt to have replied that he hadn't. The Lok Sabha Committee on Petitions had sought a report from the information and broadcasting ministry and the censor board after C P Joshi and Om Birla, two BJP MPs from Rajasthan, filed a plea on "objectionable content" in the film before the panel.

The officials, sources said, were of the view controversies are often created for commercial purposes though it was not clear in this case. The panel had asked the officials for a report before November 30, senior BJP leader Bhagat Singh Koshyari, who heads the panel, had said earlier.

Padmavati director Sanjay Leela Bhansali is also expected to appear before the parliamentary panel on IT, which too has invited officials from the ministry and the censor board to discuss the film.

The panel on IT, which also looks into issues concerning the information and broadcasting ministry, has called the meeting to discuss the problems and issues of the film industry, an official said.

Various Rajput groups and political leaders have accused Bhansali of distorting history in the movie by using a romantic dream sequence between the Rajput queen Padmini and Sultan Alauddin Khilji, a claim repeatedly denied by the filmmaker. -- PTI
14:28   Govt will sanction 10,000 km of highways each year: Jaitley
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said that India has standardized itself largely towards seven to eight per cent growth rate, thus becoming the fasting growing amongst the major economies in the world.

"India will need to upgrade its infrastructure for the next two decades, with lot of investment and spending. One factor to be considered is that, Infrastructure is created when users pay," said Jaitley while addressing at the Defence Estates Day Lecture on 'India's Roadmap for a World Class Infrastructure'. The government is in process of awarding 10,000 km of highways each year, he said. 

Jaitley said that India seems to have become a highly aspirational society, which is seen as a positive change by many, while highlighting that the Government has spent over Rs. 60,000 lakh crores on infrastructure since year 2007 to 2017.

"We created a National Infrastructure Investment Fund, in which govt. has put investment, and investments from foreign investors are being expected," added Jaitley after hinting over an investment worth Rs 50,000 crore over the next five years on the infrastructure sector.

However, Jaitley also spoke about the contributions made towards the highways each year. He said that t. -- ANI

Also read: The truth about India's highways
14:06   Maha CM lauds North Indians' contribution; MNS takes umbrage
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has lauded the contribution of North Indians and people from other states to Mumbai, drawing flak from the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena.

Fadnavis said the country's financial capital has always given shelter to many and those who live here have added to the city's prestige. "I believe that among the many things which make Mumbai great is the people who have come from various states and settled here. They also make Mumbai great," Fadnavis said at a public event in Ghatkopar area here yesterday.  -- PTI
13:53   Plea in HC against EC order allotting poll symbol to AIADMK
Sidelined AIADMK leaders Sasikala and TTV Dinakaran today moved the Delhi High Court against the Election Commission's decision recognising the unified AIADMK under Tamil Nadu Chief Minister EK Palaniswami as the real party, allowing it to use the 'two leaves' poll symbol. The plea for urgent hearing of the matter was mentioned before a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar and sought quashing of the November 23 order of the Election Commission of India. -- PTI
13:37   Replacing Kevin Spacey was a simple decision for Ridley Scott
Breaking his silence on replacing Kevin Spacey in his upcoming film "All the Money in the World", director Ridley Scott said it did not take him much time to decide on firing the actor.

Spacey was replaced by Christopher Plummer in wake of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment against him. "I was finished with the film and was in (UK recording studio) Abbey Road finalising the music. Someone was like: Guess what? And that's where it began.

"I sat and thought about it and realised, we cannot. You can't tolerate any kind of behaviour like that. And it will affect the film. We cannot let one person's action affect the good work of all these other people. It's that simple," Scott told Entertainment Weekly.

The director said he did not call Spacey after to tell him about his decision and neither did he receive any response from the actor. "No. And he didn't call me. If he had called me and said, 'Hey, look, this is the way it is and I'm really sorry,' then I'd have handled it slightly differently. "... (But) Yes. I'd have still done it. I would have said, "Yes, thank you for calling, but I have to move on," he said. -- PTI
13:07   Andhra CM wants bullet trains too
An emotional Andhra Pradesh CM N Chandrababu Naidu, whose name was omitted by Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao, for the inauguration of the Hyderabad Metro, has claimed that the Metro was in fact his brainchild and that he had ordered a feasibility study in 2003

It's petty politics, Naidu said his voice choking with emotion.

The TDP was of the view that the Prime Minister should have intervened with KCR to accommodate Naidu on the inauguration day.

But nevermind the metro, Naidu has bigger plans.

The Andhra CM now has ambitious plans to have a bullet train connecting the state's under-construction capital city, Amaravati to Hyderabad, Mumbai and Delhi by 2022.
Update on the Budgam encounter: Three terrorists gunned down by security forces, operation continues.
12:31   It's Dinakaran vs Madhusudhanan for Amma's seat
The ruling AIADMK today announced E Madhusudhanan as its candidate for the December 21 Radhakrishnan Nagar Assembly by-poll. His name was finalised from a list of aspirants, who had applied expressing willingness to contest the by-poll, a party release said.

Madhusudhanan, the party's Presidium Chairman, was the AIADMK's "unanimous" choice, the release from party coordinator and Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and co-coordinator and Chief Minister K Palaniswami said. DMK's M Maruthu Ganesh and sidelined AIADMK leader TTV Dinakaran are also in the fray.

The by-poll was earlier scheduled to be held on April 12.

However, the polls were rescinded by the Election Commission following complaints of money distribution. Madhusudhanan was then the candidate of the Panneerselvam-led rival AIADMK faction, while Dinakaran was contesting on the then AIADMK (Amma) camp.

The factions led by Panneerselvam and Palaniswami later merged in August even as the Election Commission awarded the 'Two Leaves' symbol to the unified AIADMK. The RK Nagar seat fell vacant last December following the death of local MLA and then Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on December 5, 2016.
12:15   Encounter underway in Bandipora
An encounter broke out between security forces and militants in Pakherpora area of central Kashmir's Budgam district today, police said. Security forces launched a cordon and search operation in Pakherpora area, 45 km from Srinagar, following information about presence of militants in the area, a police official said. He said the militants opened fire on security forces, who retaliated, triggering a fierce gun battle. There are no reports of any casualties on either side so far, he added. -- PTI
11:51   Bhansali, Prasoon Joshi to meet parl panel to discuss Padmavati
Padmavati director Sanjay Leela Bhansali and the Central Board of Film Certification chief Prasoon Joshi will appear before a parliamentary panel today to discuss the controversy surrounding the period drama, sources in the censor board said.

Bhansali left Mumbai  this morning for the meeting expected to be held this afternoon. "It is true that there is a meeting between the CBFC and Bhansali regarding 'Padmavati' called by a parliamentary panel today," a source in the censor board said.

The 30-member parliamentary panel on IT has also asked the producers of the movie and officials of the information and broadcasting ministry to attend the meeting and brief it on the furor related to the film.

Officials in Viacom18 Motion Pictures, which has co- produced the film along with Bhansali Productions, refused to comment. "The panel has asked Mr Bhansali and Mr Joshi to appear before it and present their views on the movie. They can present their case before the panel. The members have also decided to call the producers of the movie," chairman of the panel Anurag Thakur told PTI on November 28. Actor-MPs Paresh Rawal and Raj Babbar are also part of the panel.

Various Rajput groups and political leaders have accused Bhansali of distorting history in the movie by using a romantic dream sequence between the Rajput queen Padmini and Sultan Alauddin Khilji, a claim repeatedly denied by the filmmaker.  -- PTI
11:46   India is important to the UK's post-Brexit calculations
India's success, against a lot of odds, in getting its candidate elected to the International Court of Justice has been seen as a major diplomatic triumph, and not merely within India. The praise isn't unwarranted. In ensuring that a candidate from the United Kingdom - a permanent member of the United Nations security council - chose to opt out after a nail-biting tie has prompted comment about the discernible shift in international power equations. 
Read Swapan Dasgupta's column on the Telegraph.
10:58   Hadiya's father to move SC after dean allows husband to speak to her
The long pending desire of Hadiya, a Kerala woman at the centre of an alleged love-jihad case, was fulfilled on Wednesday when she spoke to her husband over the phone.

A day after she arrived in the city to continue studies at the Sivaraj Homeopathy medical college as directed by the Supreme Court, she spoke to her husband using the phone of the college dean.

However,  Hadiya's father, KM Ashokan isn't happy that she was allowed to speak to her husband Shafin Jehan.

"The highest court of the country has sent her to the college to complete her education in a safe environment. If Jehan who has got an extremist link meets her it will compromise my daughter's safety," he told the Hindustan Times.

"I would immediately move the Supreme Court seeking an order restraining Jehan from meeting her. Besides, the college authorities should be directed not to allow her to address the media. Jahan has no right to meet her, he said.

"It seems the college is not taking enough measures to ensure her safety. I don't want my daughter to revive her relations with Jehan who has got good connections with extremist elements like Islamic State. My whole fight is to block an extremist's entry into my family," he told the paper.

The college dean G Kannan said yesterday, "Hadiya talked to Jahan (her husband) for a while from my mobile phone, after I, as local guardian, asked her whether she was interested in talking or meeting anybody."

The 25-year-old was brought to the institution amid tight security by Kerala police from Coimbatore, about 170 km from Salem last evening.

Earlier when reporters asked about her husband Shafin Jahan, Hadiya said she had no contact with him for the last few months as she did not have a mobile phone and the only people she spoke to were her parents.

"I am very eager to speak to my husband," said Hadiya, who was in the news recently after her conversion to Islam and marriage with the Muslim youth in Kerala.

The dean said: "She appeared to be relieved from depression after talking to him (husband). There is no restriction imposed on her to talk or to meet anybody."

Hadiya also expressed regret for the tense situation prevailing in the college and inconvenience to students due to her, Kannan said. -- PTI

Image: Hadiya Jahan. Courtesy: Shafin Jahan's Facebook page.
10:43   China quietly but relentlessly becoming global super power, says expert
China is quietly, but relentlessly becoming a global super power, according to an analyst.

In an opinion piece for the Washington Post, writer David Ignatius has said the recent meeting between President Xi Jinping and President Trump in Beijing during the latter's first visit to China significantly revealed a possible but understated grand and ambitious strategy on the part of Beijing.Ignatius says in his article that President Xi while talking about and promoting the idea of "win-win cooperation," with Washington, simultaneously hinted that Beijing retains the patience to achieve its goal of being eventually recognised as a global super power.

He describes China's gentle rise as "mesmerising" and reflective of the Chinese slogan "hide and bide," which the United States now views as a case of "open power play".

According to Ignatius, one only needs to see China's new network of global institutions, including the "One Belt, One Road" plan to estimate and probably accept how it is now challenging the American-led order effectively.

According to two unpublished and unclassified studies commissioned by the Air Force, one report estimates that more than 64 nations could receive USD one trillion from China under the OBOR framework. -- ANI
10:24   HC to hear defamation case against Delhi CM today
The Delhi High Court will continue hearing the civil defamation case filed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and other Aam Aadmi Party leaders today.

Jaitley had filed a civil defamation suit against Kejriwal and five other AAP leaders, including Ashutosh, Kumar Vishwas, Sanjay Singh, Raghav Chaddha and Deepak Bajpai.

The AAP leaders had accused Jaitley of corruption during the latter's tenure as the president of Delhi and District Cricket Association.

In his complaint, Jaitley accused Kejriwal and others of defaming and sought Rs 10 crore as damages.Jaitley was president of the DDCA, from 2000 to 2013. -- ANI
10:15   Don't focus on me, focus on radicalism in UK: Trump, May war rages
US President Donald Trump lunged headlong into a row with British Prime Minister Theresa May today, publicly rebutting her criticism of anti-Muslim propaganda. "Theresa @theresamay, don't focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom. We are doing just fine!" Trump tweeted, hours after using the social media platform to retweet Islamophobic videos from a British far right leader.

The White House today came out in defence of the US President who retweeted anti-Muslim videos from a far-right British account, arguing that he has been talking about national security issues for long.

Trump yesterday took the social media by storm when he retweeted inflammatory anti-Muslim videos by Britain First, a group founded in 2011 by former members of the far-right British National Party (BNP).

"The President has been talking about these security issues for years now, from the campaign trail to the White House. He talked about them yesterday at the pool spray. He's going to continue to talk about them on Twitter, he's going to talk about them in speeches, he's going to talk about them in policy'," White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah told reporters aboard Air Force One.

Shah was accompanying Trump en route to St Louis, Missouri, where the US president was scheduled to deliver a major speech on middle-class tax relief and business tax relief. Shah underscored that safety and security were priorities of the Trump administration.     

"Look, we are now looking at the possibility of a difficulty in passing government funding legislation because of disagreements on immigration policy. The Democrats' priority is amnesty. Our priority is safety and security," he said. -- PTI
10:08   Antony suffers 'minor' brain haemorrhage, hospitalised
Former defence minister A K Antony suffered a "minor" brain haemorrhage and was admitted to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in New Delhi, a senior doctor of the hospital said. "He was admitted in the afternoon (yesterday). He suffered a minor brain haemorrhage after he fell down at his home," said the doctor on condition of anonymity. The 76-year-old Congress leader from Kerala was the defence minister during the UPA government. -- PTI
09:50   Revealed: The man who silenced Trump for 11 minutes
A German man has come forward as the former Twitter Inc employee who shut down the account of US President Donald Trump for 11 minutes this month on his last day of work at the social network.

The technology news website TechCrunch published an interview on Wednesday with Bahtiyar Duysak, whom it called a 20-something with Turkish roots who was born and raised in Germany. He was a temporary contract worker in San Francisco for Twitter, the website said.

Read the full interview HERE
JUST IN: Encounter underway in Jammu-Kashmir's Budgam between security forces and terrorists. Mobile internet services snapped in Budgam district.
09:16   Congress leader questions Rahul's elevation as party president
A week before Rahul Gandhi's expected elevation as Congress president, party leader Shehzad Poonawalla said former's elevation is a 'selection not an election'.

Claiming that the poll process to elect party president has been stacked in Rahul Gandhi's favour just because he belongs to the Gandhi family Poonawalla took to Twitter and expressed his views by saying, "Raising an issue nobody in my party - the Congress will have guts to raise- my conscience will not allow me to stay quiet anymore on dynasty/sycophancy."

He also tagged his brother Tehseen Poonawalla to his tweet and said, "@tehseenp has no idea about this issue else he would have stopped me too."

Tehseen is the brother-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra.

In a series of tweets, Tehseen announced to end his relationship with Shehzad officially.

-- ANI
08:59   J-K CM orders withdrawal of stone-pelting cases against 4,327 youths
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has ordered the withdrawal of cases of stone-pelting against 4,327 youths. 

This follows the recommendation of a high-powered committee headed by Director General of Police S P Vaid which submitted its report to her, an official spokesman said.

"Today's decision marks the revival of process of withdrawal of cases started by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti last year immediately after taking over," he said. 

Mufti had initiated a process of review of cases against youths from 2008 to 2014 and in the first instance 104 cases involving 634 youths were withdrawn within two months of her assuming power, the official said. 

Mufti ordered the withdrawal of cases of stone-pelting against 4,327 youths in 744 cases, he said. 

"With this, the total number of cases withdrawn so far on the directions of the chief minister has gone to 848 and the persons benefiting out of these withdrawals stands at 4,957," the spokesman said. 

Mufti hopes that the decision would help in creating a "positive and conciliatory atmosphere in the state where the youth would be able to build their lives in a more constructive and positive way".

-- PTI
08:44   88 girl students forced to undress as punishment by teachers in Arunachal school
Students of a girls school in Arunachal Pradesh were allegedly forced to undress by three teachers as a punishment for writing vulgar words against the head teacher.

Eighty-eight students of class VI and VII of Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya, Tani Happa (New Sagalee) in Papum Pare district were subjected to the humiliating treatment on November 23, police said.

The matter, however, came to light on November 27 after the victims approached the All Sagalee Students Union, who then filed an FIR with the local police.

According to the complaint, two assistant teachers and a junior teacher forced 88 students to undress before other students following the recovery of a piece of paper containing vulgar words about the head teacher and a girl student.

Papum Pare Superintendent of Police Tumme Amo on Wednesday confirmed the filing of the FIR by ASSU. He said the case has been forwarded to the women police station. 

-- PTI
08:00   If war comes North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed: US
North Koreas latest test of an intercontinental ballistic missile increases the chances of a war that will leave it utterly destroyed, US President Trumps top envoy to the United Nations warned.

The dictator of North Korea made a choice yesterday that brings the world closer to war, not farther from it, Ambassador Nikki Haley told the UN Security Council.

And if war comes, make no mistake, the North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed.

Haley called on all countries to cut ties with the rogue nation and said Trump, in a conversation with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, urged a complete cutoff of oil supplies to its longtime trading partner.

Earlier on Wednesday, North Korean despot Kim Jong-un declared that his country is a responsible nuclear power and reveled in its newest and highest launch.

After watching the successful launch of the new type ICBM Hwasong-15, Kim Jong-un declared with pride that now we have finally realised the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force, the cause of building a rocket power, said a statement read on state-run television in North Korea.

It went on to say Pyongyang is a responsible nuclear power, claiming its strategic weapons were developed to defend itself from the US imperialists nuclear blackmail policy and nuclear threat.

Kims government said the rocket flew 590 miles and reached a high point of 2,780 miles 10 times higher than the International Space Station during its 53 minutes in the air before crashing into the Sea of Japan.

North Korean state media said the rocket could carry a warhead and withstand the extreme heat during re-entry of the Earths atmosphere.

The claim wasnt independently verified.

Image: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un smiles as ICBM Hwasong-15 is launched. The North Korean state media said the rocket could carry a warhead and withstand the extreme heat during re-entry of the Earths atmosphere. Photograph: Reuters
00:23   Dinakaran to contest RK Nagar bypoll
The T T V Dinakaran camp has officially announced that the ousted All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader will contest the December 21 Radhakrishnan Nagar (RK Nagar) bypoll.

"TTV Dinakaran will contest the forthcoming (RK Nagar) bypoll," senior leader in the camp, S Anbazhagan told reporters in Chennai.

Dinakaran was contesting the bye election with the 'approval' of his aunt, the deposed AIADMK leader V K Sasikala, he added.

Dinakaran earlier contested the April 12 bypoll to the constituency, as then AIADMK (Amma) candidate.

However, the polls were rescinded by the Election Commission following complaints of money distribution.  -- PTI