Tue, 24 October 2017
Doyen of Thumri singing Girija Devi passes away in Kolkata

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22:56   Doyen of Thumri singing Girija Devi passes away in Kolkata
Veteran classical singer Girija Devi passes away in Kolkata due to cardiac arrest, reports ANI.

All India Radio tweeted, 'Thumri exponent Girija Devi passes away; she was a representative of Benaras and Seniya gharana.'

'Colossal loss for Indian music. Girija Devi ji, Appaji to her family and followers, passes away. Irreparable loss (sic),' tweeted singer Shubha Mudgal.

More details awaited.
22:52   Maya says BJP planned to eliminate her; ruling party rubbishes charge
Targeting the Bharatiya Janata Party, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati alleged today that there was a conspiracy to eliminate her during her visit to the Shabbirpur village in Saharanpur district, which saw caste clashes earlier this year, a charge rubbished by the ruling party.

Addressing a rally in Azamgarh, Mayawati claimed that according to reports she had received, the conspiracy behind the caste clashes in Saharanpur district was to get her eliminated.

The plan was that when Dalits will be harassed in large numbers, their leader will go there to wipe their tears, she said.

"BJP people thought that when I will go to Shabbirpur and speak in favour of the Dalit 'samaj' which will arouse passions and there will be a bloodbath, during which along with the Dalits, their leaders will also be eliminated," the former chief minister alleged.

Mayawati said that since she was not allowed to speak on this matter in Parliament, she resigned from the membership of Rajya Sabha.

Reacting to the BSP chief's statement, UP BJP spokesman Rakesh Tripathi in Lucknow said, "Mayawati is making such statements as she is left with no issue to deliberate upon. She is feeling frustrated. Most of the founder members of BSP have already left the party, and she is feeling isolated and lonely".

Tripathi claimed that Mayawati's 'casteist politics' had badly failed and she was worried that the BJP government will start investigations into the cases of alleged corruption committed by her.

He said that it was a BJP MLA, Brahmadutt Dwivedi, who had saved her life but she was singing a different tune today.  -- PTI

Photograph: PTI Photo
21:40   Gujarat poll schedule likely to be announced tomorrow
Amid the row over the 'delay' in declaring the Gujarat assembly elections, the Election Commission is likely to announce the schedule for a two-phase poll in the state tomorrow, officials said today.

The term of the 182-member Gujarat assembly gets over on January 23 next year.

The Commission has been under attack from opposition parties for not having announced the dates for Gujarat assembly elections along with Himachal Pradesh.

The Opposition has been alleging that by 'delaying' the announcement of the Gujarat polls, the EC was giving time to the Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state and at the Centre to sidestep the provisions of the model code and offer sops to the electorate to swing votes in favour of the saffron party.

After the EC did not announce the election schedule for Gujarat, the Congress had alleged it was done to enable Prime Minister Narendra Modi to play a 'false Santa Claus' and announce freebies for voters before the model code of conduct kicked in.

Chief Election Commissioner A K Joti had defended the decision of announcing Himachal Pradesh's poll schedule before that of Gujarat, saying that multiple factors including the weather, flood relief work and festivities were considered before taking a call on election dates.

The CEC had said while the Gujarat and Himachal polls were announced together in 2012, their schedules were different.

He also said the two states had no similarities in geography or weather patterns.  -- PTI
21:01   MHA asks states to ensure security of journalists
The Home Ministry has asked all states to ensure safety and security of journalists in exercising freedom of speech and expression, in the wake of incidents of attacks on mediapersons.

In an advisory to the states, the home ministry also said all cases of attacks on journalists should be investigated promptly to ensure that criminals get 'persecuted in a time- bound manner'.

'Fourth Estate is an important institution of the democracy. It ensures that citizens are able to express their opinions freely without any fear and coercion as provided under the Constitution of India.

'It is the duty of the state to ensure safety and security of the journalists who ensure that the Fourth Estate discharges this key duty,' the advisory said.

The central government's missive was sent in the wake of the killing two journalists, Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru and Shantanu Bhowmik in Agartala.

The ministry said from time to time, incidents of attacks on journalists and mediapersons were reported and all such cases need to be investigated promptly 'to ensure that criminals get persecuted in a time-bound manner'.

'States should also take all preventive and deterrent action as deemed required. States are already empowered to provide security to individuals based on threat perceptions,' it said.

The ministry said while police and public order are state subjects under the Constitution, in view of its importance, it is drawing the attention of the state governments and Union Territory administrations from time to time towards the need for a robust criminal justice system with emphasis on prevention and control of crime.

'The state administrations are requested to... ensure that a peaceful environment prevails, allowing journalists/media personnel to exercise freedom of speech and expression in their professional pursuit; ensure that the investigations are concluded in a time-bound manner and public trust in criminal justice system is maintained,' it said.  -- PTI

IMAGE: Demonstrators hold placards with the picture of journalist Gauri Lankesh during a 'Not In My Name' protest, at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on September 6, 2017. Photograph: PTI Photo
19:22   New shoes bite initially: Pradhan on GST, note ban
Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan today came out in defence of the Goods and Services Tax and demonetisation, saying new shoes bite for the first few days, but become comfortable to wear thereafter.

He also dismissed reports that the note ban and implementation of GST have reduced jobs and said a wrong impression was being created about the National Democratic Alliance government over the two issues.

"Unnecessarily an atmosphere is being created that demonetisation and the GST had curtailed job opportunities," he told reporters on the sidelines of a function at Dudhia village near Indore.

Replying to a query over the reported adverse impact of the GST and demonetisation on jobs, the Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Minister said, "When you buy some new shoes they bite for the initial three days, but on the fourth day they fit perfectly."

He claimed that the implementation of GST has increased the number of taxpayers and simplified the taxation system.

On the Opposition's charge that the government has failed to provide jobs to the country's youth, Pradhan targeted the Nehru-Gandhi family saying, "Those who were ruling the country for the last three generations, are now shedding crocodile tears in the name of county's youth."

To Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi's description of the GST as 'Gabbar Singh Tax', Pradhan said it was his 'incivility'.

"He (Rahul) has the habit of using such words. May God give him wisdom ... In the 2014 general elections, people made him bite the dust. Therefore, I can understand his mental condition," the minister added.

"He (Rahul) is concerned about his future. I wish him good luck," Pradhan said.  -- PTI
18:18   Those used to scams will have problems paying tax: Jaitley on Rahul
Responding to Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, who termed terming the goods and services tax as 'Gabbar Singh Tax' at a rally in Gandhinagar on Monday, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said today that 'those who are used to 2G, coal scam will have problems paying genuine tax'.

He made the remarks in reply to a question during a press conference on the state of economy in New Delhi.

Jaitley also said that the opposition parties' devotion towards cash economy will be on display when they observe November 8 as 'Black Day'.

Gandhi on Monday dubbed GST as 'Gabbar Singh Tax', naming it after Bollywood's iconic villain as he fired a fresh salvo at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the sweeping tax reform and demonetistion. -- PTI
18:09   Delhi HC bans use of stage, loudspeaker at Chhat Puja ground
The Delhi high court today asked the police to ensure that no one uses stage and loudspeaker at a South Delhi ground for Chhat Puja by two organisers and maintain law and order.

The court said that public address system should be used only by the police to address the large number of people gathered at the Chhat ground in Aya Nagar in New Delhi.

"This court is of the view that Delhi Government may consider the suggestion made by district magistrate (South) last year and implement it in the present season," Justice Vibhu Bakhru said.

The court also asked additional commissioner of police (licensing) to immediately issue an advisory directing that no person is allowed to use stage and public address system, which should only be used by the police to address the public to maintain law and order.

The court passed the order while disposing a plea filed by Purvanchal Chhat and Sanskritik Vikas Samiti, a registered society which claimed to be organising Chhat Puja for people of Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh for last 24 years.

The samiti, in its petition filed through advocate Ritesh Sharma, sought direction prohibiting the police from issuing licence to another society -- Purvanchal Sanskritik and Samajik Vikas Manch -- for organising Chhat Puja at the ground on October 26 and 27.

It said the ground was not large enough to accommodate two organisers and may create law and order problem as every year, around 10,000 people gathered there to worship Sun God.

Additional standing counsel Satyakam, who appeared for Delhi government and Delhi Police's ACP, told the court that the licences were granted for the puja by the police after receiving reports from the local police and traffic police.

He said law and order situation was examined and licences were issued after examining all aspects and that it was a considered decision to grant licence to more than one organiser as Chhat was a big religious programme.

He also argued that it was a personal and political fight of the petitioner and not a legal fight.

The petition claimed that the president of the other organiser, Purvanchal Sanskritik and Samajik Vikas Manch, was a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party and he was seeing the function as an opportunity for his political ambition.  -- PTI
17:24   Cabinet approves Rs 2 lakh crore PSB capitalisation plan: FinMin
Department of Financial Services secretary explains Centres plan to strengthen Indian banking sector. Excerpts:

- The Cabinet has approved an unprecedented Public Sector Bnak capitalisation plan of Rs 2,11,000 crores.

- Various capital infusion measures taken by the government to ensure health of Public Sector Banks.

- Increased provisioning done by PSBs to cover expected losses, improving banks health.

- Post systematic Asset Quality Review, stressed assets have been recognised as Non-Performing Assets.

Public Sector Banks will catalyse private investments.

Press Information Bureau of India.
17:08   Centre announces BharatMala road building programme
Union Finance Ministry presentation continues. Excerpts from presentation by Finance Secretary Ashok Lavasa:

- Effective and targeted government spending is the main priority of government.

- A historic decision has been taken regarding road construction.

- The BharatMala programme is the biggest component of road building programme. 34,800 km of roads to be built under the programme.

- About 2,000 km of coastal roads will be constructed in first phase of BharatMala.

- Inter-country trade to be facilitated by improving infrastructure leading to border points. Border road connectivity to be strengthened, enhancing national security.

- Big push to be given to rural road connectivity.

- Universal affordable housing is being implemented.

-- Press Information Bureau of India
16:49   GST biggest reform, real GDP growth average 7.5%: FinMin presentation
A presentation by Union Finance Ministry on the state of economy begins at the presser by FM Arun Jaitley. Department of Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg presents The India Story: Speeding Up For Take Off. Excerpts:

- There has been a consistent low inflation story.

- There is very low level of current account deficit, in safe ranges of less than around 2 per cent.
- We have crossed $400 billion Forex reserves.

- Fiscal consolidation story is credible.

- Real GDP growth average is 7.5 per cent in last three years.

- Transformational reforms have been another part of the India growth story. GST has been the biggest reform, along with others like demonetisation and fight against black money.

- Confident to exceed disinvestment target for this year.

- The government has consistently laid focus on public investment and infrastructure for welfare of common man.  -- Press Information Bureau of India
16:37   Jaitley's mega presser on state of economy; says fundamentals strong
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley addresses the media:

- There has been much deliberation and discussion on the issue of economy within the government in the past week.

- For the past three years, India has always been the fastest growing economy in the world, and we want to keep it on the same track.

- It is obvious that when big reforms are implemented, there are some hiccups in the beginning. However, the long-term impact of such reforms are always beneficial.

- The economic fundamentals are still strong.

- The government has decided on the steps needed to sustain the growth momentum.
16:05   Govt to 5% stake in NLC tomorrow at Rs 91 per share
Just In: Govt says it will sell up to 5 pc of its stake in NLC India Ltd, formerly Neyveli Lignite Corp, tomorrow at Rs 94 per share.
15:37   Interlocutor Sharma will decide whom to talk to in J&K: HM
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today said the newly-appointed interlocutor for Jammu and Kashmir, Dineshwar Sharma, would decide whom he engaged with in the state.
Asked if Sharma would hold talks with the Hurriyat Conference, as suggested by some state politicians, Singh said, "It depends upon him whom he talks to or engages with".
Sharma, a former director of the Intelligence Bureau, was appointed by the central government as its representative yesterday to initiate a dialogue with all stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir.
The retired 1979-batch officer of the Indian Police Service was the IB director from December, 2014, to December, 2016.
The minister dodged questions by reporters on what signals the Indian government sought to send to Pakistan with the appointment of the interlocutor.
Singh was speaking on the sidelines of the 56th Raising Day parade of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police in Greater Noida.
Sustained dialogues would be initiated by the government for a solution to the Kashmir issue, Singh had said yesterday.
The home minister had also made it clear that Sharma, who would hold the rank of a cabinet secretary, would have a free hand in deciding whom to engage with.
Govt collects Rs 92,150 crore in GST for the month of September: Finance ministry.
15:20   Bipasha trolled for doing 'cheesy commercials'
Bollywood actor Bipasha Basu was trolled online after she recently shot a steamy ad for a condom brand with husband Karan Singh Grover.

The 38-year-old actress shared some of the pictures of the ad on her social media page. However, the trolls criticised her for endorsing condoms.

"Bipasha Basu, not sure you should be doing this. Wait and explore good cinema. You do have a brand value," was one of the advice given to her on Twitter.

Some also took a dig at her dropping career.

"No movies been offered to these two, so they have to resort to cheesy commercials," read a tweet.

Although Bipasha has deactivated the comments section on her posts, the actress stands by her choice as her only aim was to spread awareness. 

"The idea is to create awareness on the subject; it's the need of the hour. I am doing no wrong by endorsing condoms,"  she explained. 

Bipasha Basu and Karan Singh Grover married in 2016.
15:13   Will observe 'black day' on November 8, says Opposition
Several opposition parties today announced that they would observe November 8, the first anniversary of demonetisation, as 'Black Day' and would hold protests across the country to highlight its "ill-effects" on the economy.
Announcing the decision at a joint press conference of the opposition coordination committee, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said, "This particular announcement made on November 8 is the scam of the century, which is why we are observing this as Black Day."
He described the note-ban decision as the NDA government's "most ill-conceived and hasty decision".
"One can say this is a scam of the century. Eighteen political parties have decided to hold protests in every state in their capacity against the government's decision which caused hardship to the people. Never ever in the world people have died because of a government policy," Azad said. 
Azad, flanked by Sharad Yadav of the breakaway faction of the JD-U and TMC leader Derek O'Brien, said, "Each political party will try to give a regional name to observe this as a 'Black Day' and will hold protests and processions."

O'Brien said his party would observe the day as "Kalo Dibas" which is 'Black Day' in Bengali.
"History of modern India will remember the 'scam' which took place on November 8. We had raised a number of questions and our doubts regarding the policy but the government could not answer or erase our doubts," he said. 
O'Brien also said that all the 18 parties would interpret the day in different ways "in the true federal structure and will take it forward".
Asked why the opposition was not planning a joint and united protest on the day, Azad said the opposition had been "forced" to call November 8 as 'Black Day' and that the parties were united on the issue.
"Since opposition leaders from all parties including regional ones cannot be in Delhi. That is the reason the coordination committee has decided to have protests at every state according to the capacity of various opposition parties. Our purpose is to show our unity," he said. -- PTI

Image: People queue up for money outside a bank
15:07   Pakistan violates ceasefire in Naugam sector
Pakistani troops today opened unprovoked fire on the Naugam sector along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, prompting a strong retaliation by the Indian Army.
It is for the fourth consecutive day that Pakistan has violated the truce agreement along the LoC in the Kashmir Valley.
"Pakistan started unprovoked firing in Naugam sector along the LoC at 9.30 am today," an Army official said.
He said Indian troops retaliated strongly to the Pakistani action and intermittent exchange of fire was going on till reports last came in.
No casualties have been reported in the ceasefire violation on the Indian side, the official said.
Pakistani troops targetted Indian posts and villages in the Uri sector over the past three days, resulting in the death of a civilian porter and injuries to two women. -- PTI
14:29   Malayalam film director I V Sasi passes away
Veteran Malayalam director I V Sasi, best known for his films Avalude Ravukal and Devasuram died in Chennai today, sources close to the family said. He was 69.   

Sasi had problems in breathing and passed away around 11.15 am on his way to the Surya hospital in the city.   

In his more than three-decade long career, Sasi directed over 150 films in Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Hindi and worked with stars such as Mohanlal, Mammootty, Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth.   

Among his biggest successes was the 1978 film  Avalude Ravukal, which established him in the Malayalam film industry.   

The film, which starred his future Seema, was later dubbed into many other Indian languages, including Hindi.   

Image shows director I V Sasi flanked by Kamal Haasan (left) and Mammootty. The director had been conferred the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 62nd South Filmfare Awards.
13:12   Kashmir terror funding case: Hizb chief's son arrested
The National Investigation Agency today arrested Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin's son, Shahid Yousuf, in Kashmir terror funding case

Before his arrest, Yusuf, 42, was earlier questioned by the NIA after his name cropped up during investigations. 

He will be produced before a magistrate later in the day. 

The arrest comes a day after the Central government announced the appointment of a special representative to carry forward the dialogue in Jammu and Kashmir.
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Hyderabad House.
13:02   Govt waives fine on delayed filing of Aug, Sept GST returns
The government today waived penalty on delayed filing of initial Goods and Services Tax returns for the months of August and September.
"To facilitate taxpayers, late fee on filing of GSTR-3B for August and September has been has been waived," Finance Minister Arun Jaitley tweeted.
He said that the late fee which has been already charged to businesses will be credited back to taxpayers' accounts.
The government had earlier waived late fee for delayed filing of the maiden returns for the month of July under the GST regime.
Businesses have been demanding that the government waives penalty for delayed filing of 3B returns.
As per the data, 55.87 lakh GSTR-3B returns were filed for July, 51.37 lakh for August and over 42 lakh for September. Preliminary returns GSTR-3B for a month is filed on the 20th day of the next month after paying due taxes.
As per the data with the GST Network (GSTN), a huge chunk of businesses file their returns after the expiry of the due date.
While only 33.98 lakh July returns were filed till the due date, the number has now gone up to 55.87 lakh. Similarly for August 28.46 lakh returns were filed till the last date, but the figure went up to 51.37 lakh later.
Also for September while 39.4 lakh returns were filed by the due date, the number is rising and was over 42 lakh till yesterday.
The GST law provides for a nominal fee of Rs 100 per day on Central GST and an equivalent amount on State GST in case of late filing of returns and payment of taxes. -- PTI
12:51   Under fire, Raje govt refers black bill to House panel
Facing flak from various quarters, the Rajasthan government today referred a controversial bill, which seeks to protect public servants and judges from prosecution without its prior sanction, to a select committee of the assembly.   

Amid uproar from the opposition Congress, the Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill was tabled in the assembly by Home Minister Gulabchand Kataria yesterday to replace an ordinance promulgated on September 7.   

At the beginning of the Question Hour today, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Rajendra Rathore informed the House that Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje had held a meeting of ministers last night to discuss the bill and that the home minister would apprise the House of the development.   

The home minister said that prior approval of the President was sought before introducing the ordinance in September.   

Independent MLA Manik Chand Surana had yesterday raised the point that no approval of the President was attached with the bill.   

As the opposition MLAs rushed into the Well of the House demanding withdrawal of the bill, Kataria said the government would consider the suggestions put forward by the members.   

He then moved a proposal to refer it to the select committee. The proposal was passed by the assembly.   

The select committee has been asked to submit its report in the next session.   

The Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, seeks to protect serving and former judges, magistrates and public servants in the state from being investigated for on-duty action, without its prior sanction. 

It also bars the media from reporting on such accusations till the sanction to proceed with the probe is given by the government.   

To know what is wrong with the proposed piece of legislation, read this interview.
12:43   Sushma calls on Afghan president
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today called on Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, ahead of his talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on promoting security and stability in the war-torn nation.   

"#Neighbourhoodfirst. EAM @SushmaSwaraj calls on visiting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in New Delhi. Bilateral & regional issues discussed," MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in a tweet.   

Ghani, who is in New Delhi on a one-day working visit, will hold talks with Modi on furthering the shared objective of promoting security and stability in Afghanistan, and efforts to combat the menace of terrorism.   
They will also discuss regional and global issues of mutual interest.    

During his visit, President Ghani will meet with his Indian counterpart Ram Nath Kovind.   

The invitation to Ghani was extended by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval during his trip to Kabul on October 16. 
12:23   Fire guts 50 shops and godowns in Delhi
A major fire broke out in the Kamla Market area in New Delhi that gutted numerous shops and godowns, a Delhi Fire Services official said.   

The fire department received a call later last night about the blaze and 25 fire tenders were rushed to the spot, the DFS official said.   

While there were no reports of casualties, nearly 50 shops and godowns were gutted, he said, adding that the cause of the fire was yet to be ascertained.   

The fire was brought under control by 5.10 am today and cooling operations were underway, the official added.
12:21   Govt hikes MSP of gram, masoor
Just In: Government approves hike in MSP of gram and masoor by Rs 200 each to Rs 4,200/quintal and Rs 4,150/quintal for this year.
12:20   Book your 2019 Eid for Salman's 'Bharat'
Superstar Salman Khan has booked Eid 2019 as the release date of his next film, Bharat.
The 51-year-old star will play the title role in the movie, which will be directed by Ali Abbas Zafar.
With Bharat, the actor is continuing with the trend of releasing his films on Eid.
The movie is an official adaptation of 2014 South Korean film, Ode to My Father, which narrates modern Korean history from the 1950s to the modern day through the life of an ordinary man and events such as the Hungnam Evacuation during the 1950 Korean War.
The film will also depict the government's decision to dispatch nurses and miners to West Germany in the '60s and the Vietnam War.
Bharat will be backed by Atul Agnihotri, who attended the South Korean film's screening at Berlin Film Festival, where it was identified as potential content for the Indian masses.
Agnihotri says their adaptation will be inspired by the original movie but the story will be based closer to home.
"It's the journey of a country and also a person, both of whom go by the name of Bharat.
"That film is just the starting point for ours but since it was an inspiration, we wanted in all fairness to officially own it and acquired the remake rights before going ahead with Bharat," he said in a release.
The producer also said Salman was the right choice to play the role of the protagonist, given his long association with his brother-in-law as an actor, producer and director.
The actor-producer duo's film will hit the celluloid on the festive period once again post the blockbuster 2011 Bodyguard.
"It's a character that I thought would resonate with him. It's a huge responsibility making a film with Salman as there are big expectations that come with the job.
"I'm very conscious about Salman's fan base and what they want. And once again, I'm convinced that being a family film it's worthy of coming during the festive time. And anyway, an Eid release is always every producer's preferred choice."

Salman has worked with Zafar in 2016's blockbuster Sultan and their much-awaited film Tiger Zinda Hai up for release on December 22.
Bharat will be shot on elaborate sets in Abu Dhabi and Spain, besides Punjab and Delhi in India.
"Casting will be our main agenda over the next three months and since it's a character-driven story, we will take actors who fit the part," he added. -- PTI

12:12   China's CPC enshrines 'Xi Jinping thought' in constitution
China's ruling Communist Party on Tuesday endorsed a second five-year term for President Xi Jinping and amended its Constitution to add his name and ideology, elevating him on par with party founder Mao Zedong
and his successor Deng Xiaoping.
Xi's concept of "socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era" was added to the party's Constitution at the end of the Communist Party's week-long once-in-a-five-year Congress.
The amendment to the CPC's Constitution was approved making 64-year-old Xi's ideology as a new component of the party's guide for action, according to a resolution of the 19th CPC National Congress.
The inclusion of Xi's name along with his ideology has elevated him to the same political league as Mao and Deng.
Mao and Deng are the only other Chinese leaders whose names and thoughts are included in the party Constitution.
"The Chinese people and nation have a great and bright future ahead," Xi told party delegates as the meeting came to a close at the Great Hall of the People, the seat of power of China's Communist leadership.
"At this great time, we feel more self-confident and proud. At the same time, we also deeply feel a heavy sense of responsibility," he said.

Xi along with Premier Li Keqiang, 62, ranked number one and two in the CPC's hierarchy, would continue based on two five-year tenure convention for top leaders. Five new members will be elected to the seven member Standing Committee of the party which rules the country.

Photographer: Jason Lee/Reuters
Gujarat government hikes Accredited Social Health Activist (Asha) workers' salaries by 50%. 
Two IAF Sukhoi fighter jet aircraft carry out a flypast over Agra expressway.
A Mirage 2000 lands on Lucknow-Agra Expressway.
10:46   Agra expressway turns runway for IAF fighter planes
The Indian Air Force's aircraft touchdown exercise has begun on the Lucknow-Agra expressway near Unnao in Uttar Pradesh.

First, the IAF's C-130J transport aircraft landed on the highway and Special Forces Garud commandos got off from it to take positions on either side of the expressway to secure "their airstrip" for the fighter aircrafts.

Traffic restrictions had been introduced around this patch from yesterday.

This is the first time a transport aircraft -- a Super Hercules, which can carry 200 commandos -- is landing on an expressway. 

For the next two hours or so, a fighter aircraft will carry out a touch and go manoeuvre on the expressway every few minutes.

Three Jaguar deep penetration strike aircraft will be the first to land, followed up by six Mirage 2000 aircrafts flying in two formations and then, two more formations of three aircraft each of Sukhoi-30MKI.

The C-130 will return for another short landing to extricate the Garud Commandos. "It's a very important operational achievement... Highways can be very important during wartime when the runway is denied for some reason," Air Marshal SB Deo said.

IAF fighter planes, Mirage-2000 fighters and Sukhoi-30, have twice landed on expressways in Uttar Pradesh. The first was in 2015 when a Mirage-2000 landed on the Yamuna expressway near Delhi.

Last November, six multirole combat aircraft Sukhoi-30 jets touched down on a 3.3 km stretch of the Lucknow - Agra expressway. The Sukhoi-30 MKI, which forms the backbone of the IAF's fighter fleet, is capable of mid-air refuelling. The air force has over 270 aircraft in its inventory.
09:45   Trump to promote free and open Indo-Pacific region during Asia trip: White House
United States President Donald Trump would reaffirm the American leadership in promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific region during his maiden trip to Asia next month, the White House has said.
Ten months into the world's most powerful executive office, the US president would embark on a two-week-long trip to Asia.
"The president's travel is going to underscore his commitment to longstanding United States alliances and partnerships and reaffirm the United States leadership in promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific," a senior administration official told reporters in a preview of the trip.
Trump himself told reporters in a joint media appearance with the visiting Prime Minister of Singapore that he is looking forward to his trip to Asia from November 3 to 14.
"This trip will be the president's longest to date, underscoring the importance that he places on the Indo-Pacific region," the senior administration official said.
While his visits to Japan, South Korea and China, are bilateral one, during his stops in Vietnam and the Philippines, Trump will be participating in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit and the US ASEAN Summit.
In Vietnam and Philippines, Trump also plans to hold bilateral and tri-lateral meetings with other world leaders, details of which are still being worked out.
Trump would embark on his Indo-Pacific sojourn on November 3 via Hawaii wherein he will receive a briefing from the US Pacific Command.
He will also visit Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial.
The president will officially commence his visit to Asia beginning with Japan on November 5.
In Japan, "he is going to affirm the US-Japan Alliance as the cornerstone for regional peace and security," the official said adding that he will focus on ways for the US and Japan to work together to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific Region.

During his state visit to South Korea on November 7, Trump will participate in bilateral meetings with President Moon Jae-in and also visit American and South Korean service members.
The next day, he will speak at the National Assembly in Korea, where he will celebrate the enduring alliance and friendship between the United States and the Republic of Korea and call on the international community to join together in maximising pressure on North Korea.
Trump is likely to highlight the enduring strength of the US-South Korea alliance, which is stronger than ever in the face of North Korean aggression, the official said.
Trump would fly to Beijing the next day for a series of bilateral, commercial and cultural events including meetings with President Xi Jinping. -- PTI
09:21   CPC endorses 2nd term for Xi Jinping
China's ruling Communist Party today endorsed a second five-year term for President Xi Jinping and appointed a new set of leaders backed by him.
Xi's second term was endorsed by the party at the end of its week-long once-in-a-five-year Congress.
The conference attended by over 2,350 delegates ended at the Great Hall of the People, the seat of power of China's Communist leadership.
Xi along with Premier Li Keqiang, 62, ranked number one and two in the Communist Party of China's hierarchy, would continue based on two five year tenure convention for top leaders. Five new members will be elected to the seven member Standing Committee of the party which rules the country.
Xi and Li took over power in 2012 and set to continue till 2022.
The new Standing Committee would be unveiled for China and the world tomorrow when they would formally appear in front of the media during a live telecast.
Reports in the Hong Kong media said that Xi may not have his way at the Congress as his closest aide Wang Qishan, who led the massive anti-corruption campaign in which Xi's opponents were allegedly crushed, is likely to step down from the powerful Standing Committee belying speculation that he would be retained by overriding the 68-year retirement rule.
Also the Congress may keep the number of the Standing Committee members to seven, contrary to reported preference of Xi to reduce its number to five.
The new seven-member committee may retain balance of power among various factions within the party though Xi may still remain powerful with the induction of some of his close associates into the Standing Committee, the reports said.
Xi, regarded as the most powerful Chinese leader in recent times heading the party, presidency and the military too is expected to retire by 2022 after his second term.
But speculation is rife that he would break that retirement age convention and may continue for a third term considering his powerful stature in the party, equalling that of the party founder Mao Zedong and his successor Deng Xiaoping. -- PTI
09:01   US: Father of missing toddler arrested, body still not identified
Wesley Mathews, father of missing 3-year-old adopted Indian girl Sherin Mathews has been arrested, a day after body of a small child was found in a culvert, less than a mile from the family's home.
Sherin Mathews, who has developmental issues and limited verbal communication skills, was last seen outside her family's backyard in Richardson city in Texas on October 7 after her Indian-American father Wesley Mathews upbraided her and sent her alone outside late at night as punishment for not finishing her milk.
Wesley was arrested last evening and faces charges of injury to a child, Police Sgt. Kevin Perlich said.
Yesterday, Wesley and his attorney voluntarily arrived at the Richardson police station and shared a different account of the girl's disappearance than his original statement, Perlich said.
"He provided an alternate series of events from what he had previously given us," Perlich said.

Photograph: Kind courtesy @RichardsonTX_PD/Twitter
08:53   Afghanistan president arrives in India
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani has arrived in Delhi to hold detailed talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on furthering the shared objective of promoting security and stability in his war-torn country and for efforts to combat the menace of terrorism.

Besides Modi, the Afghan president, during his one-day working visit, will meet President Ram Nath Kovind and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
08:35   Swamy asks Raje to withdraw her 'ill fated gag bill'
Rajya Sabha MP and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy has called the Rajasthan government's controversial order as an "ill-fated gag bill" and urged Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje to take back the bill, which wastabled in the legislative assembly on Monday.

"I urge Vasundara to take back her ill fated Gag Bill. It is a sterile exercise&receive a rap from SC when the apex court strikes it down," Swamy said on Twitter.

The ordinance put out last month by the Raje government prohibits investigation without prior sanction against "a judge or a magistrate or a public servant" for any "act done by them while acting or purporting to act in the discharge of their official duties". 

Besides, it also prohibits the media from reporting on the accusation against such a person until the prosecution gets the approval from the sanctioning authority, which may take up to six months.

It also makes it a crime to identify the minister, lawmaker or official against whom a complaint has been filed in the court.

The bill is facing strong opposition from the Congress with the state party president Sachin Pilot alleging, "The state government is trying to safeguard the interest of people through whom they conduct corruption scandals in Rajasthan."

Photograph: PTI Photo
00:09   Fake stamp paper scam convict Abdul Karim Telgi on life support
Abdul Karim Telgi, a convict in counterfeit stamp paper scam is on ventilator support in critical condition at Bengaluru's Victoria Hospital.

Suffering from meningitis, Telgi was admitted to the hospital four days ago.

Telgi is diabetic and he collapsed in the prison last week, the Indian Express reported.

Telgi is serving 30 years of rigorous imprisonment in the multi-crore fake stamp paper racket, along with a massive fine of Rs 202 crore.  -- with inputs from ANI

Photograph: ANI