Sun, 14 October 2018
Amid fuel prices hike, Modi to meet oil company heads
20:46 Amid fuel prices hike, Modi to meet oil company heads
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Monday brainstorm with chief executives of top global and Indian oil and gas companies on emerging energy scenario, with ripples from United States sanctions on Iran and volatile oil prices threatening growth.
The third annual meeting would also deliberate on ways to revive investment in oil and gas exploration and production, official sources said.
Modi's first meeting was on January 5, 2016 where suggestions for reforming natural gas prices were made. More than a year later, the government allowed higher natural gas price for yet-to-be-produced fields in difficult areas like deep sea.
In the last edition in October 2017, suggestions were made for giving out equity to foreign and private companies in producing oil and gas fields of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp and OIL. But the plan could not go through in view of strong opposition from Oil and Natural Gas Corp.
Sources said Saudi Oil Minister Khalid A Al Falih, BP CEO Bob Dudley, Total head Patrick Fouyane, Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani and Vedanta chief Anil Agarwal are expected to attend the meeting Monday.
The meeting, coordinated by the NITI Aayog, is likely to focus on challenges posed by volatile oil prices and the US sanctions on Iran.
The meeting would look at measures to attract investments and steps for making it easier to do business in India.
Sources said reforms initiated in the last four years in the oil and gas sector, including open acreage policy, pricing reforms and liberalised licensing policy, will be showcased and suggestions would be sought on what more can be done to hasten growth.
The government is looking at private investment to raise domestic oil and gas production, which has stagnated for the last few years while fuel demand has been rising by 5-6 per cent annually. India is dependent on imports to meet 83 per cent of its demand and more than half of its natural gas requirements.
The prime minister in 2015 had set a target of reducing India's oil dependence by 10 per cent to 67 per cent (based on import dependence of 77 per cent in 2014-15) by 2022. Import dependence has only increased since then and the government is now looking for ways to raise domestic output. -- PTI
20:44 Pak ready to share details of CPEC debts with IMF for bailout package
Pakistan is ready to share details of the debt related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor with the International Monetary Fund, Finance Minister Asad Umar has said while rejecting the US' view that China-funded projects were to blame for the cash-strapped country's current economic woes.
Speaking to the media in Islamabad on his return from Indonesia where he requested IMF's Managing Director Christine Lagarde for a bailout package for Pakistan, Umar said the decision to approach the global lender was taken after consultations with friendly countries.
The IMF team, Umar said, was scheduled to arrive in Pakistan on November 7 to negotiate the programme, likely to span over a three-year period. He said Pakistan's current year debt repayments were about USD 9 billion but obviously it would not entirely be available from the IMF.
Lagarde has made it clear that the IMF would require absolute transparency on Pakistan's debts, including those owned by China under the USD 50 billion CPEC.
Umar, however, rejected the US State Department's statement, suggesting that the debt accrued on the CPEC projects was to blame for Pakistan's current economic crisis.
The CPEC is a network of infrastructure projects that are currently under construction throughout Pakistan that will connect China's Xinjiang province with Gwadar port in Pakistan's Balochistan province. It is the part of Chinese President Xi Jinping's ambitious Belt and Road initiative.
The US Friday said that the huge Chinese debt was responsible for the economic challenges in Pakistan, adding that it will review Islamabad's bailout plea to the IMF from all angles, including the country's debt position.
"We understand that Pakistan has formally requested assistance from the IMF. In all cases, we examine that closely from all angles of it, including Pakistan's debt position, in evaluating any type of loan programme," State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert had said, adding this is something the US has been tracking fairly closely.
Responding to a question, Nauert said; "The secretary (of state Mike Pompeo) had spoken about this a few months back, I know, in some interviews not that long ago. I think part of the reason that Pakistan found itself in this situation is Chinese debt, and the fact that there is debt that governments have incurred that they maybe thought wouldn't be so tough to bail themselves out of, but has become increasingly tough."
Umar said the US was a key stakeholder in the IMF with about 16.5 per cent votes but enjoyed no veto power in its decision making that required majority 51 per cent votes.
He said no government in Pakistan irrespective of any political background could compromise on national security and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government, too, would not opt for an IMF programme if conditionalities are of that nature.
But Umar Saturday said the government will have to take difficult decisions that would be painful for people but necessary under international commitments to get out of the current severe economic situation.
The IMF, Umar said, had asked for details of loans, including ones secured in relation to the CPEC projects, for analysing the debt sustainability.
20:10 Akbar should resign if found guilty, says Union minister
Union minister Ramdas Athawale said on Sunday that Union minister M J Akbar should resign if the allegations of sexual misconduct levelled against him were found to be true.
Replying to queries at a press conference in Pune, he cautioned that the #MeToo movement should not become a platform to level baseless allegations.
Athawale, who is the Union minister for social justice and empowerment, said Akbar should resign as Union minister if he was found guilty.
"If someone is insulting women, action should be taken against such an individual. Even if personalities like Nana Patekar or M J Akbar are found guilty, action should be taken against them," Athawale said.
"If someone is guilty, the person should be punished. But according to me, there is a possibility that the platform could be used to implicate someone in a false case. Police should verify such allegations," the minister added.
While Patekar was accused by actor Tanushree Dutta of misbehaving with her during a film shoot in 2008, multiple women in the last few days have come out with accounts of alleged sexual harassment by Akbar when he was a journalist.
Akbar Sunday rejected the allegations of sexual misconduct levelled as "false and fabricated" and vowed legal action, while suggesting this was part of an "agenda" as the charges came a few months before a general election.
On being asked about a number of these allegations coming to light several years after the alleged incidents, Athawale said evidence would come up even now if investigations were conducted properly.
The Republican Party of India leader said not all allegations under the #MeToo movement were of a very serious nature but they mostly concerned cases of inappropriate touch and misbehaviour.
"However, all allegations need to be investigated," he said.
Athawale said the Union government had appointed a committee comprising retired judges to probe the cases. -- PTI
20:04 Mecca Masjid blast case judge joins Congress-led alliance in Telangana
Former judge K Ravinder Reddy, who quit after delivering the verdict in the Mecca Masjid blast case, has joined the Telangana Jana Samiti, part of the opposition alliance led by the Congress for the coming Telangana assembly polls, weeks after expressing keenness to embrace the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The move is being seen as a shot in the arm for the TJS in the run-up to the December 7 polls.
Reddy was welcomed into the party by TJS president M Kodandaram at an event Saturday.
Reddy, the then judge for National Investigation Agency cases in Hyderabad, had on April 16 acquitted Hindutva preacher Aseemanand and four others in the Mecca Masjid blast case.
He had resigned as a judge within hours of pronouncing the judgment, citing personal reasons.
Last month, Reddy had expressed keenness to join the Bharatiya Janata Party, describing it as a "patriotic party", and banners welcoming him into the party were put up at the state BJP headquarters in Hyderabad, but it did not materialise.
The TJS is part of the opposition alliance, also comprising the Congress, the Telugu Desam Party, the Communist Party of India formed to take on the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi in the upcoming polls.
Kodandaram expressed hope that the seat-sharing talks among the alliance partners would be finalised by "Vijaya Dasami" (October 18).
Kodandaram was the chairman of the Telangana Joint Action Committee, which was at the forefront of the separate Telangana agitation.
The JAC consisted of various parties, including the TRS. Kodandaram, however, fell out with the TRS after the party assumed power in Telangana in 2014. -- PTI
19:54 Now, CPI allies with Ajit Jogi's outfit for Chhattisgarh polls
The Communist Party of India on Sunday announced that it had entered into an alliance with Ajit Jogi's outfit Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J) for the assembly polls in the state.
The Chhattisgarh assembly polls will be held in two phases -- on November 12 and 20 -- and the counting of votes will be taken up on December 11.
Earlier, Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party had forged an alliance with Jogi's outfit, as part of which the BSP will fight 35 seats while the Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J) will contest the remaining 55 seats in the 90-member assembly.
CPI state secretary RDCP Rao and Jogi announced the alliance between the two parties Sunday at a press conference.
Jogi said the addition of CPI to the JCC(J)-BSP alliance had made it a "mahagatbandhan" (grand alliance) and added strength to its poll prospects in the Bastar region and in places with a high number of labourers.
The aim of the alliance is to form a government which will work in the interest of Dalits, Adivasis, the poor, villagers, farmers, labourers and minorities and take decisions for the welfare of Chhattisgarh's people, Rao said.
He alleged that over 50 per cent of the state's population continued to live below the poverty line despite 15 years of BJP rule.
Under the agreement, the JCC (J)-BSP will support candidates of the CPI in Konta and Dantewada while the Left party and affiliated labour unions will campaign for the former's candidates in Chitrakot and Bijapur in Bastar division and industrial areas like Korba and Bhilai Nagar, Rao said.
In the 2013 assembly polls, the CPI had garnered just 0.66 per cent of the votes cast and had lost all 13 seats it had contested.
Rao, however, said that his party had a significant presence in the Bastar region, particularly in Dantewada and Konta seats, from where it had fielded its popular leaders Nandaram Sodhi and Manish Kunjam respectively for the upcoming polls.
While Kunjam has been a two-time MLA from Sukma, Sori has won the Dantewada seat once in the past.
Jogi will be campaigning for the candidates of the grand alliance in Bastar region between October 20 and 24 during which he will address rallies in Konta and Dantewada on October 23.
The development is being seen as a blow to the opposition Congress which was planning to forge a grand alliance in Chhattisgrah to unseat the ruling BJP. -- PTI
18:58 Maharashtra to allow online sale, home delivery of liquor
The Maharashtra government has decided to allow online sale and home delivery of liquor in the state, saying it could curb the cases of drunken driving.
"We want to curb the instances of drunken driving. Allowing home delivery of liquor will help in this," Excise Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule told PTI on Sunday.
He did not elaborate as to when the decision would come into effect.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a senior official in the excise department said increasing the revenue was also a prime objective behind the decision.
Established e-commerce companies were expected to enter this segment, the official added.
The government is losing sizable excise tax due to closure of around 3,000 liquor outlets located near the highways owing to the Supreme Court's order, he said.
Excise duty contributed Rs 15,343 crore to the state's treasury in 2017-18.
Also, the reduction in prices of petrol and diesel earlier this month has caused some strain on the state's treasury, he said.
Online sale and home delivery of liquor is expected to generate more revenue, the official said. -- PTI
18:44 Allegations levelled against me are totally false: Lyricist Vairamuthu
Veteran Tamil film lyricist Vairamuthu Sunday said sexual harassment allegations against him are "false" and he is ready to follow the legal route if the accusers file a complaint against him.
Several women, including singer Chinmayi Sripaada, have accused Vairamuthu of sexual harassment.
Apart from her own story, Chinmayi corroborated three accounts of Vairamuthu's alleged sexual misconduct and posted them on Twitter without naming the victims.
In a short video released on Twitter, the lyricist claimed he has collected "unassailable evidence" in his defence and said he was ready to face those accusing him in the court.
"Allegations levelled against me are totally false, motivated. If they are true, those concerned can file a case against me.. I am waiting to face," he said.
Vairamuthu said in past one week he held in-depth deliberations with senior lawyers and intellectuals on the issue.
Asking people to not judge him, the lyricist said, "None should decide if I am a good or a bad person. Let the court decide. I will bow to the court's verdict."
With the #MeToo movement gaining momentum, actor-politician Kamal Haasan said Friday men accused of sexual harassment by women should respond to the allegations.
The movement has gathered pace over the past few days with a number of women speaking out on sexual harassment at workplace and support for them has been pouring in from various quarters. -- PTI
17:59 Hawking had warned against 'superhumans' from beyond the grave
Stephen Hawking, one of the world's best-known theoretical physicists who died seven months ago, had warned against a new race of "superhumans" created as a result of genetic engineering that could destroy humanity from beyond the grave.
The British author of the definitive 'A Brief History of Time', who famously often threw up the prospect of time travel, made his last prediction about scary superhumans in a final collection of articles and essays to be published next week, following his death in March at the age of 76.
"Once such superhumans appear, there will be significant political problems with unimproved humans, who won't be able to compete," Hawking wrote.
"Presumably, they will die out, or become unimportant. Instead, there will be a race of self-designing beings who are improving at an ever-increasing rate," noted the scientist, who suffered from motor neurone disease that had left him almost completely paralysed for most of his life.
The set of articles on what he called "the big questions" were in preparation for a book, which is set to be published on Tuesday. According to 'The Sunday Times', in 'Brief Answers to the Big Questions', Hawking suggests that wealthy people will soon be able to choose to edit their own and their children's DNA to create superhumans with enhanced memory, disease resistance, intelligence and longevity.
"I am sure that during this century people will discover how to modify both intelligence and instincts such as aggression," he wrote.
"Laws will probably be passed against genetic engineering with humans. But some people won't be able to resist the temptation to improve human characteristics, such as memory, resistance to disease and length of life," he adds.
Hawking's theory refers to techniques such as Crispr, a DNA-editing system that allows scientists to modify harmful genes or add new ones. Invented just six years ago, it is already in use worldwide.
Many scientists welcomed Hawking's predictions as a means of saving Earth from destruction.
"Humans have arguably reached a critical moment," Chris Rapley, professor of climate science at University College London, told the newspaper.
"We have moved beyond affecting the planet at the landscape scale to interfering with its very metabolism at the global scale. All the indications are that the limitations of our brains, both individually and collectively, leave us incapable of addressing the challenge. On this basis the future looks desperately gloomy," he said.
The final set of research by Hawking will be presented by the Stephen Hawking Foundation and John Murray publishers in the form 'Brief Answers to the Big Questions' next week. -- PTI
17:46 PM has much to hide about Rafale deal: Congress
Continuing with its campaign against the government over the Rafale deal, the Congress on Sunday claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was directly involved in it, adding that he had much to hide about it.
Questioning Modi's silence over the deal, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma claimed that only the prime minister was aware that the offset contracts would not be given to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
"It was his (Modi's) decision. Only he was privy to what he was going to do," Sharma said, addressing a press conference at the party office in New Delhi.
It was expected that the prime minister would speak on this issue of national importance, but he continued to remain silent while making tall claims about his government, the Congress leader said.
"The prime minister has much to hide in the Rafale deal. His silence raises fundamental questions, because he is directly complicit and personally accountable for it," he alleged.
Claiming that the Rafale deal was the biggest scam in the history of the country, Sharma reiterated his party's demand for setting up a Joint Parliamentary Committee to look into it.
The former Union minister also questioned Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's visit to France, during which she will take stock of the progress of French firm Dassault Aviation supplying 36 Rafale jets to the Indian Air Force under the Rs 58,000-crore deal.
Sharma maintained that there was a hike in the price of the fighter aircraft India was buying from France and asserted that the prime minister needed to clear many doubts about the deal that had been raised.
He said more details of the deal would emerge if a forensic audit of it was carried out.
The Congress has been claiming that the aircraft will cost significantly more than what the previous United Progressive Alliance government was negotiating.
The opposition party has also been demanding answers from the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government as to why HAL was not involved in the deal as finalised during the UPA regime. -- PTI
17:22 Rajnath to celebrate Dussehra along Indo-Pak border
Home Minister Rajnath Singh will celebrate Dussehra and perform 'shastra puja' in Bikaner along the highly sensitive Indo-Pak border, officials said Sunday.
Perhaps this is for the first time that a senior minister of the central government will conduct 'shastra puja' or worship of weapons along India's border with Pakistan, with whom India fought full scale wars.
The home minister will celebrate the Dussehra festival with the jawans of the Border Security Force posted in Rajasthan's Bikaner along the Indo-Pak border on October 19, a home ministry official said.
Singh will also perform the 'shastra puja' at the Border Out Post located at the forward areas.
'Shastra puja' is part of the 'Dussehra' festival which is celebrated for the victory of Lord Ram over Ravana.
During the two-day visit, the home minister will arrive in Bikaner on October 18, stay the night at the BOP, before celebrating the festival with the jawans on October 19, the official said.
Singh is expected to review the situation on the border and assess the progress in various infrastructure projects.
He will attend a 'Bada Khana' (feast with the jawans) and address the security personnel, another official said.
The 3,323-km-long Indo-Pak border is considered to be highly sensitive. Even though the border in Rajasthan is peaceful, the border guarding forces of the two countries often engaged in massive firing in Jammu and Kashmir, leading to loss of human lives and properties.
Last year, the home minister had celebrated Dussehra at Joshimath in Uttarakhand along the Sino-Indian border. -- PTI
17:16 DCW launches separate email id to report cases of sexual harassment under #MeToo
The Delhi Commission for Women has launched a separate email address to report cases of sexual harassment under the #MeToo movement.
The DCW has set up a separate email id for reporting the complaints at firstname.lastname@example.org. One can also call 181 for any assistance regarding the same, the DCW said in a statement.
The commission has also appealed to the women of the #MeToo campaign to report the incidents of sexual crimes to the police and women commissions, it said.
"This reporting will pave the path for putting these sexual predators behind bars, something that should have been done long ago," it added.
India's #MeToo movement, which started with Tanushree Dutta alleging that actor Nana Patekar harassed her during a film shoot in 2008, has escalated sharply with increasing numbers of women coming forward with their complaints.
Giving the example of Union minister M J Akbar against whom several women have come out, the DCW claimed, "He never had to pay for his actions and all the women and girls he preyed upon still await justice".
"While exposing these sexual predators is definitely an important first step, the commission believes that these men should be put behind bars and prosecuted for the horrific crimes they have committed," it said in the statement. -- PTI
16:12 Akbar calls #MeToo charges 'wild and baseless', to take legal action
Amid charges of sexual assault, Union minister MJ Akbar today said that he will take a legal action against 'wild and baseless allegations'.
In a detailed statement Akbar said, "Accusation without evidence has become a viral fever among some sections. Whatever be the case, now that I have returned, my lawyers will look into these wild and baseless allegations in order to decide our future course of legal action."
Claiming political vendetta, Akbar asked, "Why has this storm risen a few months before a general election? Is there an agenda? You be the judge. These false, baseless and wild allegations have caused irreparable damage to my reputation and goodwill."
"Lies do not have legs, but they do contain poison, which can be whipped into frenzy. This is deeply distressing. I will be taking appropriate legal action," he added.
Akbar's name cropped up on social media earlier this week as part of the #MeToo movement and since then pressure has been increasing on the government to sack him.
15:52 Modi's silence on charges against Akbar unacceptable: Congress
The Congress today stepped up its attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the allegations of sexual harassment against Union minister M J Akbar, saying his silence was "conspicuous and unacceptable".
As the #MeToo movement gathered pace over the last fortnight, the Union minister of state for external affairs was accused by several former colleagues of sexual harassment when he served as an editor at various media organisations.
Addressing a press conference at the party office, senior party leader Anand Sharma questioned Modi's silence on the issue and said as the head of the government he should speak on the issue.
"It is for the prime minister to speak on this issue, let the country judge its PM by his actions. So far his silence is conspicuous. This question is not only the moral authority of the government, but his own also, and the dignity of the office he holds," Sharma said.
He claimed a prime minister, who swears by "Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao" and talks of women dignity, has chosen to be silent.
"His silence is unacceptable. It is the head of the government who should make his views known on the issue," Sharma said.
Akbar who returned today from a tour of Africa, said he would issue a statement later on.
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi had earlier come out in support of the #MeToo movement, saying it was time for the truth to be told "loud and clear". -- PTI
Image: Prime Minister Narendra Modi with minister of state for external affairs MJ Akbar at the Raisina Dialogue II in New Delhi on Jan 18, 2017. Photograph: PTI Photo
15:42 Malaysia wants to adopt Aadhaar to deliver welfare schemes
Taking a cue from India's Aadhaar initiative, Malaysia wants to bring changes in its national identity card system for target delivery of welfare schemes and government subsidies to avoid duplicity and fraud.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to Kuala Lumpur in May, offered Malaysia's Premier Mahathir Mohamad collaboration on matters in which India has expertise, including the Aadhaar initiative, Malaysia's Minister of Human Resources M Kula Segaran told PTI.
With the Malaysian Cabinet agreeing to the collaboration, Kula Segaran led a delegation comprising officers of the country's central bank, the finance ministry, the economic affairs ministry, and human resources ministry, to India last week.
The delegation met ministers and officials here and explored whether certain features of the Aadhaar system can be adopted in Malaysia.
"We met UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey... We have identity cards (known as MyKad), but with the (introduction of an Aadhaar-like) system, the primary aim is to avoid duplicity of payments and fraud, and to target specific groups," Kula Segaran said.
Asked if Malaysia was exploring if it can link identity cards to bank accounts like in the Aadhaar system for target delivery of welfare schemes and subsidies, he answered in the affirmative.
Replying to a query on whether Malaysia could face problems of opposition of the people over privacy concerns just like India did, Kula Segaran said there was such a possibility and work was on to identify what would be a "workable" format to adopt from India.
He, however, said that there should not be much of a problem in Malaysia as identity cards with personal information have been there for decades.
"You put my ID card number, you will get my details, where I was born, who is my mother, who is my father," he said, adding that the issue that needs to be addressed in Malaysia is the target delivery of welfare schemes and government subsidies.
"Now, we have fuel subsidy in my country. Everybody gets fuel subsidy. We want to target certain groups and give it to them, not to others. We have different groups like B40 -- those who earn household income of less than 3,990 Malaysian ringgit," Kula Segaran said.
The other intention is to make the delivery of subsidies cashless, he said.
"Right now we send cheques or we give cash. No need of that if you follow the Aadhaar system, and it comes directly into your account," he said.
There are multiple subsidies provided by the Malaysian government such as fuel, low income group, single mother, etc for which it will be useful, he added.
India recently witnessed an acrimonious debate over Aadhaar's merits and demerits. A five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court last month while quashing some contentious provisions of the Aadhaar Act, held that Aadhaar would remain compulsory for filing of Income Tax returns, allotment of Permanent Account Number and for availing facilities of welfare schemes and government subsidies. -- PTI
15:39 #MeToo changed my definition of abuse: Natalie Portman
Natalie Portman has said the ongoing #MeToo movement forced her to rethink the definition of abuse.
The 37-year-old actor hopes the campaign against sexual harassment, misconduct and assault will help prevent predatory behaviour.
"It was amazing how many things that I didn't even categorise as abusive behaviour. I just thought it was (something that) made me really upset or made me uncomfortable. And now I think all of this reckoning has made me even be like, 'Oh that wasn't just a bad date, that was an abusive date', 'That wasn't just an uncomfortable meeting, that was an abusive meeting'...
"And has made me look at things differently and hopefully it'll prevent this kind of behaviour when people are, men and women, are more aware of that," Portman told Entertainment Tonight.
The Oscar-winning actor said she wants to help to build a better and different world for her children - Aleph, seven and Amalia, one.
"I have a girl and a boy, and I want both of them to grow up with different ideas of opportunity, of behaviour, of the options opened to them because both boys and girls are limited by a system that expects very, very specific things from boys and from girls. Everyone's options are limited because of this," she said. -- PTI
15:00 Amid objections, foundation stone for museum for PMs to be laid on Monday
The foundation stone for a museum for prime ministers in the Teen Murti Estate premises will be laid by Union ministers on Monday, despite objections raised by the Congress, including former PM Manmohan Singh.
Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma and Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri will lay the foundation stone for the museum at Teen Murti Estate, the official residence of India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
The culture ministry issued an invite to media late Friday evening for the foundation stone laying ceremony.
The government has gone ahead with its plan even as Singh last month wrote to his successor Narendra Modi, raising expressing concerns over the government's move to change the "nature and character" of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library.
Urging Modi to leave the Teen Murti Complex, which houses the NMML, "undisturbed", Singh said the present museum respected both history and heritage.
"I recall that during the six-year tenure of Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji as prime minister, there was absolutely no attempt to change the nature and character of the NMML and the Teen Murti Complex in any way. But sadly that it seems to be part of the agenda of Government of India now," Singh noted in his letter on August 24.
Senior Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Jairam Ramesh, who are members of the NMML society, along with historians had also opposed the move.
Some had also called on Home Minister Rajnath Singh on August 26, urging him not to dilute the legacy of Nehru.
The new museum which will include memorabilia of prime ministers, Lal Bahadur Shastri onwards, will come up on a plot of land within the Teen Murti Estate and is expected to cost Rs 270 crore. -- PTI
14:56 Passengers will soon be able to file zero FIRs from on board trains
Soon, passengers on board trains can lodge complain through a mobile app and it will be registered as 'Zero FIR and immediately investigated by the RPF, a senior official of the force has said.
A pilot project under which complains of harassment, theft, crime against women can be lodged through a mobile application is already ongoing in Madhya Pradesh which will be replicated across the country soon.
"The passenger now need not wait for the next station to lodge a complaint. They will be able to complain through the mobile app and the RPF will reach to help them," said RPF DG Arun Kumar.
The complain will be treated as 'Zero FIR' and investigation will begin immidiately, he said.
Zero-FIR means that a FIR can be filed in any police station (i.e.: irrespective of place of incident/jurisdiction) and the same can be later transferred to the appropriate police station.
Currently, if there is an incident that passenger wants to report, he has to fill up a complaint form provided by the ticket examiner which is submitted to the RPF or GRP at the next station.
This form gets transferred into an FIR automatically.
This lead to delays and passengers don't get immediate relief.
The app will not only have the presence of RPF, but also the Government Railway Police as well as TTEs and the train conductor. The app will also have a panic button for women in distress.
On December 14 last year Home Minister Rajnath Singh had proposed that railway develop an online mechanism to address passengers on board running trains.
On this app, passengers can also complain offline. -- PTI
14:36 #MeToo: Saif Ali Khan drops 'clue' about 'Sacred Games' season 2 future
In a cryptic response, Sacred Games star Saif Ali Khan has hinted that the core team of the Netflix series including showrunners Anurag Kashyap, Vikramadtiya Motwane, and writer Varun Grover, may see a shuffle in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
The actor, who plays Sartaj Singh in the streaming giant's first India original series, compared the situation with Hollywood star Kevin Spacey's ouster from House of Cards.
"We have been talking constantly. They don't like me talking about the show anyways. I like working with them, they are brilliant. They want to keep it a secret. But I want to give you a clue. There was a terrible scandal concerning Kevin Spacey and he had a show House of Cards, the show is going on but Spacey is not there. Let that be a clue," Saif told PTI.
"Why should I bear the brunt and even why anyone of us? who are not twisted or molesters," he added.
Netflix said last week it was assessing its options ahead of the shoot of Sacred Games season two in the wake of a controversy surrounding now dissolved Phantom Films and Grover.
"At this time we are evaluating options on the path forward," the statement read.
Last year, a woman employee at Phantom Films, which had Vikas Bahl as one of the partners along side Kashyap, Motwane and Madhu Mantena, had alleged that Bahl behaved inappropriately with her during a trip to Goa in 2015.
Before the victim's account went public in a recent interview, Kashyap and Motwane put out statements and announced that their production house Phantom Films stands dissolved.
Writer-lyricist Grover was anonymously accused of sexually harassing a junior in Banaras Hindu University, a charge he categorically denied. -- PTI
14:16 #MeToo: 11 women directors vow not to work with proven offenders
Women filmmakers from Indian film industry have joined hands to support people sharing their stories of sexual harassment and have decided not to work with any proven offender.
Critically-acclaimed directors such as Konkona Sensharma, Nandita Das, Meghna Gulzar, Gauri Shinde, Kiran Rao, Reema Kagti and Zoya Akhtar are among the eleven women filmmakers who have pledged their support to India's #MeToo movement.
"As women and filmmakers, we come together to support the #MeToolndia movement. We are in complete solidarity with the women who have come forward with honest accounts of harassment and assault. Our respect and admiration to them as their courage has started a revolution of welcome change.
"We are here to spread awareness to help create a safe and equal atmosphere for all in the workplace. We have also taken a stand to not work with proven offenders. We urge all our peers in the industry to do the some," the statement from the directors read.
The list of the female filmmakers also includes Alankrita Shrivastava, Nitya Mehra, Ruchi Narain and Shonali Bose.
In the wake of the #MeToo movement many names from Indian entertainment industry have cropped up in the cases of sexual harassment and misconduct.
Celebrities such as Nana Patekar, Rajat Kapoor, Subhash Kapoor, Alok Nath, Subhash Ghai, Vikas Bahl, Kailash Kher, Sajid Khan, Mukesh Chhabra and comedy group AIB, Aditi Mittal, singer Raghu Dixit, Tamil lyricist-poet Vairamuthu have been named and shamed. -- PTI
13:52 Delhi air pollution: Emergency plan to kick in from Monday
An emergency action plan will be implemented from Monday to combat air pollution that has begun to show a trend towards poor category, the Central Pollution Control Board said.
Under the emergency plan called Graded Response Action Plan, stringent actions are implemented based on the air quality of the city.
If the air quality lies in moderate to poor category- measures like stopping garbage burning in landfills and other places, and enforcing all pollution control regulations in brick kilns and industries would be implemented, an official official said.
If the air quality falls in the very poor category, additional measures of stopping use of diesel generator sets, enhancing parking fees 3-4 times and increasing frequency of metro and buses would be implemented, he added.
If the air quality falls in the severe category, additional measures would be implemented of increasing frequency of mechanised cleaning of roads, sprinkling of water on roads and identifying road stretches with high dust generation.
If the air quality falls to severe plus emergency category, then measures like stopping entry of trucks into Delhi (except essential commodities), stopping construction activities and appointment of task force to take decision on any additional steps, including shutting of schools, are implemented.
The measures depending upon the air quality will be implemented from Monday.
Currently the air quality is in the poor category but authorities have predicted that it would reach the 'very poor' category in the next couple of days. -- PTI
12:56 Pak violates ceasefire in Poonch
Pakistani troops on Sunday targeted forward posts along the Line of Control in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir, officials said.
Indian troops guarding the LoC retaliated and the exchange of fire between the two sides continued for over an hour, they said.
There was no immediate report of any casualty in the firing in Digwar sector.
The firing was started by Pakistani troops, who targeted forward posts by using small arms, around 0830 hours, they said. -- PTI
12:55 Vaishno Devi pilgrims to get free Rs 5 lakh insurance cover
The Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board has approved enhancement of free accident insurance cover for pilgrims visiting the shrine to Rs 5 lakh besides free treatment to trauma victims from nearby areas.
The decisions were taken at the 63rd meeting of board which was held at the Raj Bhavan in Srinagar on Saturday under the chairmanship of Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik, who is also the chairman of the board, an official spokesman said Sunday.
He said the board approved enhancement of Group Accident Insurance cover for pilgrims.
"The accident cover extended to each pilgrim free of cost shall now be Rs 5 lakh instead of existing Rs 3 lakh for pilgrims aged five years and above and Rs 3 lakh for pilgrims below five years of age up from Rs 1 lakh at present," the spokesman said.
He said the board also approved additional life insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh to pilgrims who avail the service of the upcoming passenger ropeway between Bhavan and Bhairon Ghati.
"This cover shall be in addition to the accidental cover available to each yatri once he/she collects the yatra slip and commences the journey. It is pertinent to mention that premium on providing insurance cover to the pilgrims is borne by the board and the insurance cover has been upgraded after a gap of eight years," the spokesman said.
The meeting also reviewed the functioning of the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Narayana Super Speciality Hospital, Kakryal and expressed satisfaction on its performance.
"The board in a historic decision approved a medical support policy for the treatment of victims of public trauma under its social support initiative at the super speciality hospital. The beneficiaries in this policy will include public trauma victims of road accidents, landslides or shooting stone incidents and such calamities from surrounding areas of the shrine referred to the hospital by the Deputy Commissioners concerned to provide emergency medical aid," the spokesman said.
He said medical assistance would be provided in all such cases by the shrine board till the stabilization of the patient up to a ceiling of Rs two lakh as a goodwill gesture for such critical cases.
The spokesman said to further augment and upgrade medical facilities for pilgrims en route Katra to Bhawan, the board decided to establish a new fully equipped and staffed medical unit at Lambi Keri to cater to medical exigencies in the Adhkuwari-Sanjichhat sector taking the total number of medical units to eight on all tracks.
The board also decided to create a new medical unit at Bhairon Temple at an estimated cost of Rs one crore keeping in view futuristic requirements, he said. -- PTI
12:35 Parrikar discharged from AIIMS
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar was on Sunday discharged from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, where he has been undergoing treatment for pancreatic ailment, and is likely to return to his home state, sources said.
According to sources in the AIIMS, he was on Sunday morning shifted to ICU for a while after his condition deteriorated.
But sometime back, the administration decided to discharge him, the sources said.
Parrikar, 62, was admitted to Delhi's premier AIIMS on September 15.
"The chief minister is likely to be brought to Goa in a special flight on Sunday from Delhi. The doctors who are treating him at the hospital would certify on Sunday morning whether he is fit to travel back home," the official of the Chief Minister's Office had said Saturday.
If he returns to Goa, Parrikar will stay at his private residence in Panaji, he added. -- PTI
12:25 Has Akbar quit?
Union Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar, who is facing allegations of sexual harassment by several women journalists from the time he was an editor, has resigned, the News18 television channel reported quoting government sources.
The channel reports that Akbar, who returned to New Delhi from abroad, sent his resignation to Principal Secretary Nripendra Mishra and sought time to meet External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
Meanwhile, the India TV channel reported that Akbar has written a letter to the prime minister's office, explaining his position over the allegations.
India TV also reports that the Modi government will take a call on Akbar very soon.
Multiple women journalists in recent days have offered their accounts of alleged sexual harassment by Akbar when he was a journalist as the #MeToo movement swept social media, bringing to fore sordid tales of sexual harassment by influential men in different walks of lives.
11:53 'Subhash Ghai tried to kiss me forcefully': Model files complaint
A molestation complaint has been filed against director Subhash Ghai by Television actor and model Kate Sharma.
While addressing the media after filing the complaint, Kate alleged that the filmmaker molested her by forcefully trying to kiss and hug her.
"He called me to his house on August 6. There were about five to six people at his house and in front of everybody, he asked me to give him a massage. It was shocking for me but I respected his seniority and agreed. I massaged him for two to three minutes and then went to the washroom to wash my hand. He followed me there. He then took me to his room saying that he wanted to talk to me about something. However, he grabbed me and tried to kiss and hug me."
When she requested to leave, the 'Khalnayak' director tried to threaten her, she said.
"I told him that I wanted to leave. He then threatened me and said that he will not launch me if I do not stay with him for the night," Sharma said.
Earlier this week, Ghai was accused of harassment by an anonymous woman on social media.
In the post, the woman had accused the filmmaker of drugging her and raping her.
Shortly after the accusations were made, Ghai firmly denied the claims.
In a statement, the 73-year-old had said that it's sad that it is becoming a fashion to malign anyone known "by bringing stories from the past without truth or half-truth. I deny, strictly and firmly, all false allegations like these."
In the wake of the #MeToo movement, which gained momentum in India after Tanushree Dutta accused veteran actor Nata Patekar of harassing her, accusations are being leveled against many personalities in media and the entertainment industry, including Vikas Bahl, Alok Nath, Rajat Kapoor, and Sajid Khan. -- ANI
Image: Model Kate Sharma
10:45 Trump wants people to come to US on basis of merit
United States President Donald Trump has said that he wants people with merit, who can help, to enter the country and not sneak inside the border illegally.
"I'm very tough at the borders. We've been very tough at the borders. People have to come into our country legally, not illegally. Legally. And I want them to come in on merit," Trump told reporters at the White House on Saturday.
Responding to a series of question on illegal immigration, the president reiterated that he wants people based on merit, a move that can help technology professionals from countries such as India.
"What I want is merit. I want a lot of people to come in. We have great car companies entering our country again. This hasn't happened for 35 years. We have companies like Foxconn going to Wisconsin with a massive, massive plant," he said.
"We need people coming in, but we want them to come in on merit. We want people that are going to help us. It's very important," Trump said.
Observing that immigration is not tricky to him, he insisted that the administration and the Congress have to do the right thing whether there's an election or not.
He opposed the chain migration policy and said, "If that's a bad policy, then guess what, a lot of bad things are going to happen. But a lot of people agree with me. I would say a vast majority of our country agrees.
"They don't want criminals coming into our country. They don't want people that they don't want in the country that aren't going to help us as a country.
"They don't want these people coming in. So we have a very strong policy."
"The one thing that really has changed over the last couple of years since I've been President -- our country is doing so well, even with real interest -- not with false interest rates.
"Zero interest. Anybody can do well with zero interest. We're the hottest country in the world, economically, by far. You take a look at us compared to China, compared to everybody else, we're the hottest country in the world.
"A lot of people are trying to come in. Our border security, our ICE, our law enforcement is doing an incredible job," he said. -- PTI
10:00 Parrikar likely to return to Goa today
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar is likely to return on Sunday from Delhi, where he has been undergoing treatment for pancreatic ailment at a hospital, a senior government official said on Saturday.
Parrikar, 62, was admitted to Delhi's premier All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on September 15.
"The chief minister is likely to be brought to Goa ina special flight on Sunday from Delhi. The doctors who are treating him at the hospital would certify on Sunday morning whether he is fit to travel back home," the official of the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) said.
If he returns to Goa, Parrikar will stay at his private residence in Panaji, he added.
On Friday, Parrikar met Goa Bharatiya Janata Party's core committee members and ministers from coalition partners at AIIMS to discuss ways to ensure his government functions normally during his absence from office due to ill health.
He also reviewed pending development works and discussed distribution of some of his portfolios to his cabinet colleagues.
However, leaders of the ruling BJP and its allies, who met Parrikar separately, had ruled out any change in leadership in the coastal state.
Parrikar has been ailing since mid-February and has been treated at different hospitals including those in Goa, Mumbai and the US. -- PTI
09:15 Pak warns of '10 surgical strikes' against India
Pakistan on Saturday warned of '10 surgical strikes' against India in response to a single such attack, in the latest war of words between the two estranged nuclear-armed neighbours.
Major General Asif Ghafoor, spokesperson of the military's Inter Services Public Relations, stated this while talking to the media in London, where he is accompanying Pakistan Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on a visit.
"If India dares to launch a surgical strike inside Pakistan, it will face 10 surgical strikes in response," Ghafoor was quoted as saying by Radio Pakistan.
He also said 'those who think of any misadventure against us should have no doubt in their minds on Pakistan's capabilities'.
The military spokesman said the Pakistan Army was the custodian of the $50 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and that the mega project will strengthen the economy of the country.
Ghafoor said the army wanted strengthening of democracy in Pakistan, and claimed that the general election in July was the most transparent in the history of the country.
"If anyone has evidence of rigging then it should be brought forward," he remarked.
He also rejected reports of restriction on the media and said there was 'complete freedom of expression' in the country.
He said there were more good developments in Pakistan than bad and that the international media should also highlight the good things. -- PTI
08:50 Gurugram: Judge's wife who was shot by guard succumbs
The wife of additional sessions judge, who was shot at by his gunman in a crowded market area in Sector-49 in Gurugram on Saturday, has succumbed to her injuries.
Gunman Mahipal was arrested after he shot at the wife Ritu and son Dhruv of Additional Sessions Judge Additional Sessions Judge Krishan Kant yesterday.
Ritu had suffered bullet injury in her chest, while Dhruv in his head.
Mahipal had been working as the Judge's gunman for 1.5 years. -- ANI
08:29 HAL regrets 'politicisation' of its employees
Against the backdrop of Congress president Rahul Gandhi's interaction with present and past employees of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited on the Rafale deal, the state-run aerospace company on Saturday regretted 'politicisation' of its employees and termed it as a sad and regrettable development that would be detrimental to national security and the organisation.
An HAL statement, which did not specifically refer to Gandhi's interaction with the employees, came after the event, where the Congress president alleged that temples of modern India were being attacked and destroyed.
An official from the agency told PTI that the National Democratic Alliance government has extended full-fledged support (to HAL), having placed supply orders of over Rs 27,340 core during the 2014-18 period by recognising its premier position.
Towards improvement and upgradation of infrastructure, including ramping up of production facilities, funding to the tune of Rs 7,800 core was sanctioned during the period, the statement said.
The official also said HAL enjoys pride of place in the defence and aerospace industry sector and has made immense contribution to the nation-building process.
'Today's attempt at politicisation of the employees is a sad and regrettable development and will be detrimental to the interest of the organisation, its employees as well as national security,' the HAL official told PTI in the statement.
In the interaction with former and past employees, Gandhi had accused the Modi government of destroying the 'strategic asset' state-run aerospace company HAL and told its employees that Rafale is their right.
Congress, which has been accusing the government of benefiting Reliance Defence Ltd of Anil Ambani from the deal, has also been demanding answers on why the state-run aerospace major HAL was not involved in the deal as finalised during the United Progressive Alliance regime. -- PTI