Fri, 05 January 2018
PM, FM causing a 'catastrophic' blow to India's growth story: Congress

Timeline  Refresh

23:30   PM, FM causing a 'catastrophic' blow to India's growth story: Congress
The Congress today accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of ignoring economic wisdom and causing a "catastrophic" blow to India's growth story.
Party communication in-charge Randeep Surjewala claimed that the double whammy of "Modi Made Disaster of Demonetisation" and the implementation of a flawed GST were responsible for the economy's downturn.
"An arrogant Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a failed Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, hell bent upon ignoring economic wisdom, have dealt a catastrophic blow to India's growth story as proved by the latest GDP estimates slumping from 7.3 per cent to 6.5 per cent," he said.
He claimed the truth was that investment had stagnated, job creation was abysmal, exports were in dire straits, stalled projects were burgeoning, inflation remained unchecked and and rural distress was at an all time high.
"Hype, hyperbole and headline management cannot be a substitute to the grim reality on the ground," he said.
He alleged that 6.5 per cent GDP growth "detailed the failed promise of the prime minister and explained the abject failure of Modinomics".
He claimed that job creation was the single biggest failure of the BJP government and said the labour bureau data showed that job creation was the lowest in 8 years.
"As the government completes four years of its term, the people are seeing through the long distance between rhetoric and reality," he said, adding that the people were watching and would give a befitting political reply when the time arrived. -- PTI 
23:17   Will happily welcome Kangana on my show, says Karan Johar
Filmmaker Karan Johar said he would be happy to have Kangana Ranaut as a celebrity guest on his upcoming show "Indias Next Superstars".
Karan and Rohit Shetty will be seen as judges on "India's Next Superstars" to be aired on Star Plus from January 13 while Priyanka Chopra will be the first guest on the show.

When asked if Kangana Ranaut would be invited on the show, Karan said, "I am sure when Star Plus invites her we will be happy to have her. Our heart is big, our house is open to all. We will happily, lovingly and respectfully welcome her on the show."
Karan and Kangana were engaged in a war of words over a remark on "nepotism" that made headlines last year.
The tagline of the show is "Na Khaandaan Na Sifaarish" and when asked whether he was looking for an opportunity to answer about nepotism, Karan said, "I don't think this tagline was an answer from my side to anything. Lot of people want to be part of the entertainment industry but it is difficult to find a platform. We are providing this platform to all those who are talented."
Talking about the definition of superstardom, Karan said, "It is difficult to define superstar, if we knew the meaning then there would be millions of superstars. It's a feeling that an actor and audience has. It is organic."
He added, "You don't know why you love Shah Rukh Khan or Amitabh Bachchan or Sridevi or Madhuri Dixit. It is something that they all bring on celluloid and the way they connect with the audience. They have an instant family connect with the audience."
He said that the current generation had a lot of superstars like Varun Dhawan, Ranbir Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, Sushant Singh Rajput, Rajkummar Rao and Ayushmann Khurrana.
"Today there are lots of opportunities so we can't categorise who is at the top or in the top three. I hope we as filmmakers get an opportunity to work with all of them," Karan said.
The "Ae Dil Hai Mushkil" director added that the audience were the biggest superstars.
Karan said he was thankful to the makers of this show to get him and director Rohit on board adding that he respects Rohit and shared a deep personal and professional bond with him. -- PTI
22:40   Kamala Mills fire: Police announce reward for info on pub owners
Mumbai Police today announced a reward of Rs 1 lakh to those providing information about the whereabouts of the owners of '1 Above' pub in the Kamala Mills Compound, a police spokesperson said.
The pub owners, Kripesh Mansukhlal Sanghvi, Jigar Sanghvi and Abhijeet Mankar, have been absconding ever since a fire claimed 14 lives and injured over 30 others on December 29.
An offence of culpable homicide not amounting to murder under sections 304, 337, 338, 34 of the Indian Penal Code was registered against the three at the N M Joshi Marg police station following the incident.
An official said that police teams were trying to track the three and a lookout notice had also been issued. -- PTI
22:39   Passenger vehicle hit by avalanche in JK, 7 trapped
A passenger vehicle was hit by a huge avalanche of snow on the Kupwara-Tangdhar road in Jammu and Kashmir today, which left at least seven people trapped.

Two people were rescued in injured condition after the cab came under the avalanche near Khooni Nallah on Kupwara- Tangdhar road this afternoon, an official spokesman said.

The spokesman said two people were rescued from the avalanche site, while at least seven others travelling in the cab were still missing. Inclement weather hampered the search and rescue operations, he added.
22:31   EVMs or ballot papers? SP calls meeting of Oppn parties tomorrow
In a bid to unite the opposition parties on the issue of credibility of the electronic voting machines and for holding polls using ballot papers, the Samajwadi Party has called a meeting in Lucknow tomorrow.
Party spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary today told PTI, "The complaints of irregularities in the EVMs are an old story, but the argument (against the machines) has gained momentum after the recent Gujarat polls. The SP demands that all the future elections be held on ballot papers. In an effort to unite the opposition parties in this regard, an invitation has been sent to all of them."
He added that the meeting would take place at the Janeshwar Mishra Trust office tomorrow.
On a question as to whether the Congress and BSP would also attend the meeting, Chaudhary said, "It will be known tomorrow."
He added that efforts would also be made to evolve a consensus on holding the Phulpur and Gorakhpur Lok Sabha bypolls on ballot papers.
SP national president Akhilesh Yadav and the leaders of opposition of both the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council would be present at the meeting, Chaudhary said. -- PTI
21:55   Triple Talaq: Congress' agenda is vote bank politics not gender justice, says law minister
With triple talaq bill stalled by the Opposition in Parliament, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad today accused the Congress of pursuing vote bank politics and not gender justice, saying it has followed the same politics
from Shah Bano case in 1986 to that of Shayara Bano in 2017.
The senior BJP leader said the Congress could have made its suggestions on the bill in Parliament during a debate but it saw to this that no meaningful debate occur as it was driven by vote bank politics.
The Congress needs to explain why it took one stand in the Lok Sabha and another in the Rajya Sabha as it "fully supported" the bill in the former and did not press even for division on amendments, he said.
The main opposition party had not opposed the bill in the Lok Sabha before joining with other parties to stall it in the Rajya Sabha where the government lacks numbers. 
"The Congress has followed the same politics from Shah Bano in 1986 to Shayara Bano in 2017. We were open for discussion and keen that debate must happen in Parliament. Let the whole country see the Congress' behaviour," he told PTI.
While the then Congress government had brought in a law to negate a Supreme Court order for alimony in the Shah Bano case, Shayara Bano was a petitioner in a plea against the practise of triple talaq.
To the demand of the Congress that the bill be sent to a select committee, Prasad said the committee was designed to make it ineffective.
Hundreds of instant triple talaq have happened even after the Supreme Court order, he said, adding that it happened even today.
"The Congress wanted to decriminalise it (instant triple talaq). It is continuing unabated despite the Supreme Court order and we need to have a special deterrence," he said.

The government wanted a debate but the Congress interrupted him even when he was making initial observations while introducing the bill, he said.
Prasad's attack on the Congress after it held the BJP responsible for the impasse in Rajya Sabha, accusing the ruling party of trying to use Parliament as a "rubber stamp".
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad claimed that ministers stalled proceedings, leading to an impasse for three days. -- PTI
21:14   Celebs can face up to 3-yr ban for misleading ads in new bill
Instead of jail term, celebrities endorsing misleading ads will have to pay penalty of up to Rs 50 lakh and serve a ban of up to three years once the new Consumer Protection Bill is cleared by Parliament.
The Consumer Protection Bill, 2018 was introduced by Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan in the Lok Sabha and it seeks to replace the 31-year-old law.
One of the major objective of the bill is to crack down on misleading advertisements.
If the Central Consumer Protection Authority, proposed to be set up under the bill, is satisfied that an advertisement is false or misleading, it may issue directions to endorsers, advertiser, publisher as well traders and
manufacturers to discontinue or modify such an ad.
The CCPA will have the powers to impose penalty of up to Rs 10 lakh on endorsers and manufacturers. For subsequent violation, the penalty will be of up to Rs 50 lakh.
The authority will also have the power ban endorser of false or misleading ads from making endorsement of any product or service for a period of one year, while subsequent violation will attract a ban of up to three years.
"No endorser shall be liable to a penalty if he has exercised due diligence to verify the veracity of the claims made in the advertisement regarding the product or service being endorsed by him," the bill said.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee that vetted the Consumer Protection Bill 2015 had suggested stringent penalty and jail term for endorsers of misleading ads. However, the government did not accept the recommendation of jail term and has instead proposed ban of up to three years.
In case of those publishing misleading ads, the bill empowers CCPA to impose a penalty of up to Rs 10 lakh.
However, no penalty will be slapped if publishers prove that the ad was published in the ordinary course of their business.
"No defence shall be available to such person if he had previous knowledge of the order passed by the CCPA for withdrawal of or modification of such advertisement," the bill said.
Since the Parliamentary panel had made many recommendations, the consumer affairs ministry decided to withdraw the 2015 bill and introduced a fresh one. -- PTI 

Image used for representation purpose only.
20:17   Man with Pak passport and Aadhaar card held over bid to enter Air Force station
A 50-year-old man was apprehended by Air Force personnel when he allegedly tried to enter the Air Force station in Jaisalmer, police said today.

A Pakistani passport as well as an Aadhaar card found in his possession, the police added.
The accused, identified as Purkha Ram, was nabbed yesterday and was being interrogated, Jaisalmer Kotwali SHO Derawar Singh said.
Ram was a displaced Pakistani Hindu migrant and had been renewing his visa, Singh said, adding that the accused also had an Aadhaar card with a residential address in Sri Ganganagar district.
Ram has been living in India for over a decade and investigators were looking into how he managed to get an Aadhaar card, the SHO said.
SHO Singh added that Purkha Ram was working at a farm and living with his family in Jaisalmer. -- PTI
19:35   Stalled in RS, govt to push for triple talaq bill during budget session
Notwithstanding the Opposition stalling the passage of the contentious triple talaq bill, the government is set to push for its nod in the Rajya Sabha in the budget session, asserting that it is committed to it.
Briefing reporters at the conclusion of the winter session, parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar also attacked the Congress, which had not opposed the bill in Lok Sabha but voiced its strong opposition in the Upper House.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi talks about woman empowerment but "runs away" when it comes to acting on this, Kumar said.
In the Rajya Sabha, the Congress everyday came with an excuse to stall the bill, he alleged.
However, the government is "committed to passing the law and empower our Muslim sisters", Kumar said.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, which criminalises instant talaq and provides for up to three years of imprisonment for accused Muslim men was passed by the Lower House on December 28.
A united opposition, however, stalled it in the Rajya Sabha with the Congress moving a motion that the bill should be sent to a select committee for further scrutiny, a move strongly opposed by the treasury benches.
When the budget session starts on January 29, the motion, which was moved by senior Congress leader Anand Sharma, will be taken up for consideration.
Government sources said they would seek its passage in the first phase of the session and would be holding talks with opposition parties to arrive at a consensus.
With the government recommending a schedule for the budget session, it is unlikely to bring in an ordinance over the issue and will seek the bill's passage in the next session, official sources said. -- PTI
19:20   Rahul attacks govt over delay in appointing Lokpal
Congress President Rahul Gandhi today hit out at the Modi government over continued delay in appointment of Lokpal, even four years after the enactment of the law for setting up the institution, asking how long will
it "blow the tune of falsehood".
"Four years have gone by, but the Lokpal has not come. The public is asking only one question, till when will you blow the tune of falsehood?
"Are the 'defenders of democracy' and 'harbingers of accountability' listening?" he asked in tweets using '#FindingLokpal' as hashtag.
Under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, ombudsmen are to be appointed at the Centre and in states for inquiring into allegations of corruption against public functionaries.
Gandhi also highlighted Prime Minister Narendra Modi's tweet of December 2013 on the passage of the Lokpal Bill when the Congress-led UPA was in power at the Centre and he was the Gujarat chief minister.
Modi had then tweeted, "Am very proud of the positive and proactive role played by BJP MPs under leadership of Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley in passing Lokpal Bill."
The Lokpal Bill was passed by Parliament in 2013, but the appointment of the anti-corruption ombudsman is stuck in procedural wranglings for the last four years. -- PTI 
18:55   Pakistani troops violate ceasefire in Poonch district
The Pakistani Army today resorted to shelling and also fired from small arms and automatic weapons along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district.
The Indian Army retaliated strongly.
"Pakistan Army resorted to unprovoked firing of small arms and automatic weapons and also shelling from late this afternoon in Shahpur sector of Poonch district along the LoC," a police officer said.
Indian troops replied back, he said.
On the night of January 3, Pakistan troops had resorted to unprovoked and indiscriminate firing of small arms, automatic weapons and mortars along the LoC in Rajouri sector.

The same morning, Pakistan Rangers violated the ceasefire and resorted to sniper fire on a forward post along the International Border (IB) in Hiranagar sector of Samba district killing BSF Head Constable R P Hazra. -- PTI 
18:40   GDP growth projected at 4-year low of 6.5% in 2017-18
The economic growth is expected to slow to a four-year low of 6.5 per cent in 2017-18, the lowest under the Modi-led government, mainly due to poor performance of agriculture and manufacturing sectors.
The gross domestic product was 7.1 per cent in 2016-17 and 8 per cent in the preceding year. It was 7.5 per cent in 2014-15.
The Narendra Modi-led NDA government had assumed office in May 2014.
"The growth in GDP during 2017-18 is estimated at 6.5 per cent as compared to the growth rate of 7.1 per cent in 2016-17," said the Central Statistics Office while announcing the first advance estimates of national income 2017-18.
The growth of real gross value added in 2017-18 is anticipated at 6.1 per cent as against 6.6 per cent in the previous year.
Economic activities were affected by demonetisation announced on November 8, 2016 and subsequent implementation of a new indirect tax regime (GST) from July 1 in the current financial year.
As per the CSO data, the expansion in activities in 'agriculture, forestry and fishing' is likely to slow to 2.1 per cent in the current fiscal from 4.9 per cent in the preceding year.
The growth in manufacturing sector too is expected to decelerate to 4.6 per cent this fiscal, down from 7.9 per cent in 2016-17. -- PTI 
Five school children and a bus driver have been killed after a school bus collided with a truck on Indore's Kanadia Road.
17:25   Calls made to CBI judge not from partymen: RJD
RJD leaders today asserted that nobody from the party made telephone calls to the special CBI judge at Ranchi, who is to pronounce the quantum of punishment to Lalu Prasad in a fodder scam case, but felt political opponents may have done so in the guise of RJD supporters.

The assertions were made by Shivanand Tiwary and senior party leader Jagdanand Singh.

Their denial came in the wake of special CBI court judge Shiv Pal Singh, before deferring the pronouncement on quantum of punishment on Lalu yesterday, commenting in his presence about him receiving phone calls from the RJD chief's well-wishers.

"I came to know about it (special CBI judge Singh making the aforementioned statement in court) through media reports. I can say with certainty that no RJD leader would resort to such a step, as everyone knows that such desperation can backfire", Tiwary told reporters.

He also said "the possibility of our political opponents making such a call in the guise of RJD supporters cannot be ruled out. They may indulge in such mischief to queer the pitch for Lalu".

The RJD vice president expressed hope that "quantum of sentence in the instant case relates to withdrawal of money from Deogarh treasury will be less than the one awarded to him in 2013 since the amount involved in the present case is much smaller". -- PTI
17:14   Markets race to record highs; post fifth weekly gains
Benchmarks rallied to record highs today to end the first week of 2018 with gains as investors cranked up fresh purchases in tandem with bullish global cues. The BSE Sensex surged over 184 points to close at its lifetime high of 34,153.85, while the broader NSE Nifty ended at record 10,558.85.
17:10   Hero got car, suite, I got bus, single room, says Akshay on 27-yr-career
He may have now become one of the most bankable actors in Hindi film industry, but during the initial days of his career in Bollywood Akshay Kumar said he was treated like an outsider. The 50-year-old actor, who has given some major blockbusters such as "Special 26", "Baby", "Airlift" and "Rustom" in past one decade, said an actor's luxury on a film's set depends on the number of hits and flops.

"Yes, I was made to feel (outcast). I remember while doing a two-hero film, my three-four films didn't work, but his (the other hero) did. We were having an equal role but he gets a suite room and I get a single room. He gets an amazing car, but I get that 'you come in the bus,' yes it really happens," Akshay said in a media interaction.

The actor said the moment his films started working, his equations with a lot of people in the industry changed. "If my films work, I would get a bigger room. Sometimes from business class I was shifted to the first class when my films were running. When my films were doing exceptionally well I would get a private jet as well," he added.

Akshay said in his "27 and a half years" long career he has had low phases "three to four times" but failures did not bother him. "Never take lull or success seriously. They will come and go. It (the ups and down) is bound to happen."

The actor is now geared up for the release of his first film of the year, "Padman", scheduled to hit the screens on January 25. The film, directed by R Balki, chronicles the inspiring story of Arunachalam Muruganantham, who created affordable sanitary pads. -- PTI
17:01   RBI to introduce new Rs 10 notes, old notes legal
The Reserve Bank of India will shortly issue Rs 10 denomination bank notes. All Rs 10 bank notes issued by the RBI in the earlier series will continue to be legal tender, reports ANI. 

The new note will bear the picture of the Konark Sun Temple. The apex bank has already printed around 1 billion pieces of the new note. The design was approved by the government last week.

16:43   Jaitley hosts Anand Sharma's birthday lunch on last day of Parliament session
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today hosted a birthday lunch for Anand Sharma, deputy leader of the Congress in the Rajya Sabha. Accordingly, a birthday cake was brought by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and it was cut in the presence of BJP chief Amit Shah, Union ministers Nirmala Sitharaman, Hardeep Puri, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Congress MPs. 

Jaitley, leader of the Rajya Sabha, hosts a lunch on the last day of every Parliament session to all party MPs. His office chambers, which can accommodate 50-60 persons, was overflowing today, thanks to Anand Sharma's birthday bash.
16:23   Chinese flag flutters over Sri Lankas Hambantota port
On the first day of the new year, the Chinese and Sri Lankan flags were hoisted to the same height over the Hambantota port in the Indian Ocean nation, reports Kinling Lo, in the South China Morning Post.

'It was the first time the Chinese flag had risen over the loss-making facility which Sri Lanka formally handed over to a Chinese state firm in a US$1.12 billion deal,' she reports, pointing out that 'the port deal is just one of a series of infrastructure forays China has made into Sri Lanka in a region usually regarded as India's backyard.' 

You can read the report here
16:13   Lalu's sentencing tomorrow, via video conferencing
Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav's lawyer has said that the former Bihar chief minister's sentencing in a fodder scam case will take place tomorrow at 2 pm via video conferencing.

Earlier on Friday, the RJD chief was asked to appear via videoconferencing before a special Central Bureau of Investigation judge who has convicted him in the case.

Lalu appeared before special CBI judge Shiv Pal Singh from Birsa Munda central jail where he is lodged, a CBI counsel said.

The announcement of quantum of punishment was deferred twice since Wednesday.

Lalu was convicted, along with 15 others, in the case on December 23.  -- PTI
15:38   'Mamata's remark on Assam population insult to Constitution'
The BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvergiya today criticised Mamata Banerje for her remarks on the National Register of Citizens in Assam, saying it was an insult to the Constitution and the Supreme Court. Banerjee's comment was part of her "sinister political motives", Vijayvergiya charged.

He also accused the Trinamool Congress of allowing cross border infiltration into Bengal just to reap "political benefits" out of it.

"The NRC is being updated in Assam after consultation with all stakeholders, communities, political parties and outfits. Such comments are not only an insult to the Constitution and Supreme Court but also against the spirit of the federal structure of our country," Vijayvergiya said in a statement.

Addressing a meeting at Ahmedpur on Thursday, Banerjee had accused the BJP-led government at the Centre of "hatching a conspiracy" to drive out Bengalis from Assam by "excluding" their names from the first draft of the NRC published on the December 31 midnight. -- PTI

Image: Mamata Banerjee unveiled the new logo of the state government today.
15:22   BJP, Sangh targetting me: Mevani
Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani today denied making any inflammatory speech in Pune and said he was being targeted by the BJP and the RSS. An FIR was filed against the Gujarat MLA and Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader Umar Khalid yesterday for their alleged "provocative' speeches during an event in Pune on December 31.

"Neither did I make any inflamatory speech nor did I take part in the bandh in Maharashtra. "I am being targeted by the BJP and Sangh," Mevani told reporters at the Press Club of India in Delhi.

He said the BJP is "threatened by my growing popularity," and accused the party of "attacking me because they arrogantly thought they would win 150 seats in Gujarat and stopped at 99...and now are worried about the 2019 national election."

"If Dalits continue to be targeted and my reputation is continued to be tarnished, Mr PM we will teach you a lesson in 2019," Jignesh Mevani said in multiple attacks on PM Modi, also stating, "The Prime Minister is a self-proclaimed follower of Dr BR Ambedkar, why is he silent? Why are Dalit events like the in Pune attacked? Why are Dalits not secure in India? We want to know if he has any commitment to the annihilation of caste...which was Dr Ambedkar's ultimate goal."

-- PTI
15:08   Modi walks up to Manmohan in RS, shakes hands
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today shook hands with former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh soon after the Rajya Sabha was adjourned sine die. The cordial "handshake" came barely weeks after the duo had been locked in a bitter war of words over the Gujarat elections.

As soon as Chairman M Venkiah Naidu adjourned the House sine die and 'Vande Mataram' was rendered, Modi was seen moving towards the opposition benches shaking hands with some members, including his predecessor. He reached the seat of the former premier, shook hands with him for quite some time and spoke to him.

Among others with whom the Prime Minister was seen shaking hands were Deputy Chairman P J Kurien and veteran Congress leader Karan Singh, who was bid farewell by the Upper House today as his tenure ends on January 27.

The show of cordiality between the incumbent and the former premier follows a row that broke out last month after Modi insinuated that Manmohan Singh had colluded with Pakistan in the Gujarat polls. Dr Singh hit back saying such accusations were setting a "dangerous precedent"and sought an apology.

Both the Houses had witnessed stormy protests over the issue with an adamant opposition seeking apology from Modi for his statement during Gujarat poll campaign and the BJP sticking to its point that PM would not apologise. --  PTI
15:02   UP Haj House goes saffron
The exterior walls of the Haj House in Lucknow has been painted saffron. Reacting to it, Mohsin Raza, UP minister said, "There is no need for controversy. Saffron is an energetic and bright looking colour, the building looks beautiful. Opposition has no big issues against us so they raise inconsequential things."
15:00   Economic Survey on January 29
President Ramnath Kovind will address the joint sitting of the two Houses on January 29 and the Economic Survey will be tabled on the same day, Parliamentary Affairs minister Ananth Kumar said.
14:50   Union Budget on February 1
The Budget session of Parliament will be held from January 29 to April 6, says Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar. The Union Budget will be presented on February 1. The Phase-1 of the Budget session will be held from January 29 to February 9, while Phase 2 will be held from March 5 to April 6.

The last day of the winter session of Parliament concluded today without passing the triple talaq bill in the Rajya Sabha.

File picture.
14:44   SC to hear plea seeking ban on glass coated 'manjha'
The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a plea seeking a nationwide ban on the procurement, sale and use of glass powder-coated 'manjha'.

Last year, the apex court had ordered the continuation of the ban on Chinese manjha in India.

In December last year, the National Green Tribunal banned the sale and use of glass coated thread in the entire country, including Chinese manja until the next hearing on February 1, 2017.

The top court had earlier asked petitioners, who in a Public Interest Litigation sought a ban on 'manja' as it resulted in more than 50 deaths in the last two years, to approach the NGT with their plea. -- ANI
14:11   RS bids farewell to three veteran members
Rajya Sabha today bade farewell to three of its veteran members --Karan Singh, Janardan Dwivedi and Parvez Hashmi, who would be retiring later this month. Speakers from both sides showered praise on them for their contributions in the House. All the three retiring MPs were elected from Delhi.

The farewell was held today on the last day of the Winter Session as their actual retirement date of January 27 would fall in the inter-session period.
13:57   US Senator: Not a penny to Pak which burns our flag
A top American Senator has announced that he will introduce a bill that would stop US aid to Pakistan, saying the country does not deserve American assistance as it is stonewalling access to key information in fighting terrorism.

"I'm introducing a bill to end aid to Pakistan in the coming days. My bill will take the money that would have gone to Pakistan and put it in an infrastructure fund to build roads and bridges here at home," Republican Senator Rand Paul said after Trump Administration announced its decision to suspend its security assistance to Pakistan.

"US should not give one penny to countries that burn our flag and chant Death to America. Countries like Pakistan that stonewall access to key information in fighting terrorism don't deserve our money," he said.
13:42   Winter session of parliament ends, House fails Muslim women
Both houses of Parliament adjourns sine die ending the winter session.

The House was unable to pass the instant triple talaq bill in the Rajya Sabha with the Opposition holding firm asking for the legislation to be referred to the Select Committee.

Both the BJP and the Congress had issued whips for its members asking them to be present in both Houses.

The triple talaq bill, which criminalizes the practice of instant divorce among Muslims, was tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. The Congress and the opposition parties, which have numbers in their favour in the upper house, want the proposed legislation to be sent before a select committee, but the BJP has rejected the demand. In the lower house, where the ruling party has a majority, the bill was passed.
13:19   Snowden says Aadhaar open to abuse
A day after the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) denied that there was any breach of the Aadhaar database, American whistleblower Edward Snowden said on Friday that the Aadhaar database conceived and introduced by the Indian government can also be misused and abused.

Retweeting CBS journalist Zack Whittaker's response on a BuzzFeed report on the breach of Aadhaar database in India, Snowden said, "It is the natural tendency of government to desire perfect records of private lives. History shows that no matter the laws, the result is abuse."
EAM Sushma Swaraj arrives in Jakarta to a warm welcome in the Indonesian tradition. 
12:44   Lalu asks for leniency in sentencing on health grounds
A special CBI court is likely to pronounce the quantum of punishment for Lalu Prasad Yadav in a fodder scam case today. Yadav through his counsel, moves a written plea in the court of Shivpal Singh in Ranchi, praying for leniency in sentencing on health grounds.

The case relates to the fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 89.27 lakh from the Deoghar treasury 21 years ago. Deferring the sentencing for the second day in a row yesterday, CBI judge Shiv Pal Singh said he would decide today whether the sentence would be given over video conference or in the court.

To this, Prasad said he was for personal appearance and assured that there would be no slogans raised in the courtroom by his supporters.

The judge also said he had received phone calls from well-wishers of the RJD boss but did not elaborate.With the court room packed, the judge asked the advocates not connected with the fodder scam case to leave.

Fifteen others who were convicted in the scam and were to be sentenced along with Prasad waited in the court, while the RJD chief was whisked away to Birsa Munda jail after this.

The court had on December 23 convicted Prasad and 15 others in this fodder scam case and acquitted six others including another former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra.

The court had convicted Prasad for offences of cheating with criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Lok Sabha adjourned sine die. 
12:30   Book on White House 'full of lies', says Trump ahead of release today
US President Donald Trump today dismissed as "full of lies" a new explosive book about his administration that has taken the White House by storm after his lawyers failed to block its release.

Trump tweeted that he gave author Michael Wolff "zero access" to the White House for his book, "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House", which is set to be released today. "I authorised Zero access to White House (actually turned him down many times) for author of phony book! I never spoke to him for book. Full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don't exist," Trump tweeted. "Look at this guy's past and watch what happens to him and Sloppy Steve!" Trump wrote, apparently referring to his former chief strategist Steve Bannon, who is quoted extensively in the book. The book which is sending shock waves to the Trump administration is releasing today, two days ahead of the schedule after Trump's lawyers made a move to stop its release. American journalist and author Wolff tweeted: "Here we go. You can buy it (and read it) tomorrow. Thank you, Mr President.' The book, which is highly critical of Trump and his family, claims that president was "befuddled" by his election win, did not enjoy his inauguration and was scared of the White House.
12:13   US suspends all financial aid to Pak
Toughening its stance, the US today suspended more than USD 1.15 billion security assistance to Pakistan for failing to take "decisive actions" against terror groups like the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network operating from its soil.

The freezing of all security assistance to Pakistan comes after President Donald Trump in a New Year's Day tweet accused Pakistan of giving nothing to the US but "lies and deceit" and providing "safe haven" to terrorists in return for USD 33 billion aid over the last 15 years.

The suspended amount also include USD 255 million in Foreign Military Funding for the fiscal year 2016 as mandated by the Congress. In addition, the Department of Defense has suspended the entire USD 900 million of the Coalition Support Fund money to Pakistan for the fiscal year 2017 and other unspent money from previous fiscal years.

"Today we can confirm that we are suspending national security assistance only, to Pakistan at this time until the Pakistani government takes decisive action against groups, including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network," State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters.
12:01   Canadian enovy ordered to delete Myanmar holiday photos
A Canadian ambassador has retracted a New Year's Day tweet about the pristine beaches of Burma following an outcry from human rights activists. Peter MacArthur, Canada's ambassador to Indonesia, was urged by his government to delete private holiday snaps he posted on Monday morning, praising Burma's serene coastline. Read the full story here.
12:01   Canadian enovy ordered to delete Myanmar holiday photos
A Canadian ambassador has retracted a New Year's Day tweet about the pristine beaches of Burma following an outcry from human rights activists. Peter MacArthur, Canada's ambassador to Indonesia, was urged by his government to delete private holiday snaps he posted on Monday morning, praising Burma's serene coastline. Read the full story here.
11:54   Harassed by rogue airlines? Parliament committee is looking into it
The Parliamentary Standing Committee for Transport laid on the table of the Rajya Sabha  yesterday, a report on the issues related to improving consumer satisfaction of airlines.

The Committee deliberated on the issue of exorbitant airfares charged during the festival seasons, holiday seasons, natural disasters and political/social unrest. The Committee also noted there were many incidents of manhandling, discourteous and rude behavior by airlines staff.

While narrating some of the incidents of misbehavior in airlines, especially in Indigo, majority of the committee members opined that the attitude of airlines staff is very condescending, often uncooperative and on many occasions, downright rude.

The committee noticed reports that some private airlines ensured long queues at the check-in counters to delay the process of check-in so that passengers miss their scheduled flights. This compels them to buy tickets at exorbitant prices to travel in the next available flight.
11:35   Last day for govt to push triple talaq bill in parliament
BJP issues a whip asking all its MPs to remain present in both the houses of Parliament, today. The winter session of parliament ends today.

The government hopes to find a breakthrough in the standoff over the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill which seeks to outlaw talaq-e-biddat or instant triple talaq and punish offenders with a jail term.

The Opposition has stuck to its demand that the Bill be referred to a select committee, while the government has accused parties of "double standards" as they supported it in the lower House.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2017, which makes triple talaq illegal and void, sailed through Lok Sabha and will now have to clear the Rajya Sabha hurdle. The bill makes giving triple talaq punishable by up to three years in jail. The offence is cognisable and non-bailable.
11:27   Punish the guilty, not me: Sambhaji Bhide
Sambhaji Bhide, prime accused in the Bhima Koregaon incident, issues a press note saying Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar blamed him for the conspiracy which is completely wrong. He demands that the government investigate the matter thoroughly and asks that strong punishment be given to whoever is guilty.
10:57   Sensex soars to new lifetime high, nifty keeps pace
The BSE Sensex today soared to the life-time high of 34,175.21 and the NSE Nifty scaled the historic 10,562.80 mark in late morning trade as banking, metal and realty stocks advanced following continuous foreign fund inflows and increased buying by domestic institutional investors.

The 30-share Sensex spurted 205 points, or 0.60 per cent, to all-time high of 34,175.21 points, breaching its previous record high (intra-day) of 34,137.97 scaled on December 27. The gauge had gained 176.26 points in the previous session.

Sentiment got a lift following an improvement in liquidity in the market on sustained inflows by foreign funds amid the government moving forward on its bank recapitalisation programme, brokers said.

The finance ministry yesterday sought Parliament's nod for extra expenditure of Rs 80,000 crore towards recapitalisation of bad loans-saddled public sector banks through bonds.

Foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) bought shares worth a net of Rs 212.05 crore, while Domestic Institutional Investors (DIIs) made purchases worth a Rs 325.24 crore yesterday, as per provisional exchange data.

Banking behemoth SBI rallied 0.83 per cent while Punjab National Bank gained 1.50 per cent. Bank of Baroda also gained 0.67 per cent. Private peers ICICI Bank, Yes Bank, IndusInd Bank, HDFC Bank and Kotak Bank too rose by up to 3.15 per cent.

The 50-share Nifty also hit a new high of 10,562.80 by soaring 58 points, or 0.54 per cent. It also cracked previous record (intra-day) of 10,552.40 points reached on December 27. Globally, in the Asian region, Japan's Nikkei rose 0.55 per cent, Hong Kong's Hang gained 0.18 per cent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.23 per cent in their early deals. The US Dow Jones Industrial Average continued its record-setting run by ending 0.61 per cent higher in yesterday's trade. --  PTI
Sensex hits all-time high of 34,175.21; Nifty at new peak of 10,555.10 in late morning trade.
10:25   Chennai bus drivers go on flash strike over wage revision demand
Commuters in Chennai were in for a rude shock on Thursday evening as bus drivers went on a flash strike, some even walking off midway through the journey. 

The strike by opposition-backed trade unions continues today. 

The reason for the flash strike was the breakdown in talks between the unions and the transport minister over wage revision, and the government's refusal to yield to the demand to pay contract drivers the same wages as employees. 

No strike in Tamil Nadu can be 100% successful as there are AIADMK (the ruling party) and DMK affiliated unions in all sectors. Drivers belonging to the former continue to ply, with the result that only about 40% of the buses are on the roads today.  

Naturally, it's bonanza time for auto drivers and app cabs who have been making a killing. 

 In Tamil Nadu private operators also run buses on regular local routes, charging the same fare as government-run ones. But the latter have additional services like limited stops, end-to-end express, superfast, non-stop, etc, for which the fares are higher. 

-- A Ganesh Nadar
10:17   Bus strike hits commuters in Tamil Nadu
And down south too, commutes are wears for wear, but not by the weather.

An indefinite strike called by the state transport workers' unions in Tamil Nadu has left scores of commuters stranded in various parts of the state.

A large number of people were seen queued up waiting for the private buses at the different bus stops.

The strike, following the failure of talks on wage revision and clearance of pending dues with Transport Minister MR Vijayabhaskar, was declared on Thursday.

Drivers and conductors of various state transport corporations went on a sudden strike from midnight.

"I have been waiting for a few hours now, but the bus is not running. The auto fare is so high, I cannot afford it. So I have called my brother to pick me up", said Deepika, a commuter.

The workers of the transport department have been demanding for a pay scale revision to Rs 30,000. However, the authorities agreed to pay only Rs 24,400.  -- ANI
10:02   Thick fog envelopes Delhi; flights, trains delayed
Hundreds of passengers at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi and railway stations in the national capital were stranded after operations of flights and trains continue to be affected due to the dense fog. At least 62 trains in Delhi have been delayed, 20 rescheduled and 18 cancelled due to low visibility as fog continues to grip the region. Seventeen flights have been delayed at the Delhi airport, at the time of filing this report.

The air quality in the national capital has fallen under the 'very poor' category as the fog has not been allowing the particulate matter to disperse.

Yesterday, Northern Railway Chief Public Relations Officer Nitin Chowdhary told ANI that the Indian Railways has installed a fog-safety device in the trains to prevent long delays in winters.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Indian Railways has decided to extend the services of a few weekly special trains in order to clear the holiday rush of passengers and the inconvenience caused due to dense fog in the national capital region.

Hundreds of passengers at several railway stations in north India have been left stranded after multiple trains have been cancelled, delayed and rescheduled for the last couple of days. The weather condition is likely to remain the same for the next few days. -- ANI
09:08   Maha bandh: 286 BEST buses damaged, total damage over Rs 20 lakh
A total of 286 Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) buses were vandalised in two days -- January 2 and 3 -- in various parts of Maharashtra, during protests against violence over the bicentennial celebration of the Bhima-Koregaon battle.

The stone-pelting at the buses have cost a damage worth Rs 20,51,760, informed the spokesperson of BEST.

The death of a youth in the clashes that broke out between Dalits and alleged right-wing groups over the celebration near Pune triggered violent protests across Maharashtra, wherein cases of vandalism of vehicles were reported in various areas, including Aurangabad, Pune and Nagpur.

Other incidents like road and railway blockage, and arson also took place on the day of statewide bandh called by Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM) leader and grandson of Dr B R Ambedkar, Prakash Ambedkar on January 3.

A total of 16 FIRs were registered by the Mumbai Police relating to statewide bandh.   -- ANI

Photograph: ANI
08:38   Quick Heal spots malware that imitates Indian banks' apps
Financial Express reports:

Quick Heal Security Labs has spotted an Android banking Trojan that imitates more than 232 apps including those offered by Indian banks.

The malware is known as Android.banker.A2f8a (previously detected as Android.banker.A9480).

According to researchers at Quick Heal Security Labs, Android.banker.A2f8a is being distributed through a fake Flash Player app on third-party stores.

After getting downloaded, it keeps checking for installed apps on the victim's device and particularly looks for the 232 banking and cryptocurrency apps.

Once any of the targeted apps is found on the device, the app shows fake notifications disguised as coming from the targeted app and asks users to log in with their credentials and ultimately tricks them by stealing their login IDs and passwords.

Read full report
08:33   Can survive without US aid: Pak foreign minister
Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif has said that Pakistan could survive without United States' aid, as the similar situation had occurred in the past too.

"They did it in the past as well, which is evident from our history. They have always betrayed us in hard times," Geo News quoted Asif as saying.

In the latest development, the United States' State Department confirmed the stopping off the aid to Pakistan.

As of now, they have announced suspension of only military aid, the humanitarian assistance would continue.   -- ANI

IMAGE: Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the State Department in Washington. Photograph: Yuri Gripas/Reuters
00:07   Kerala CM praises Kim Jong-un's tough anti-US stand
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has lavished praise on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for putting up tough resistance against imperialist America better than the Communist-ruled China.
Addressing a CPI-M district committee meet at Kozhikode, he said North Korea was showcasing a better example in defending 'imperialist' forces.

The CPI-M member also said there was a general criticism that China's fight against imperialist forces was not living up to the expectations of the people.
"North Korea has been adopting a tough anti-US stand. North Korea has successfully withstood the pressure exerted by the US," Vijayan said.

Meanwhile, Kim, in his New Year's Day address, has said North Korea's
nuclear weapons can reach anywhere in the US and threatened that he has a nuclear button on his desk.