Sat, 08 September 2018
Swaraj's visit to Syria deferred due to security issues

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21:36   Swaraj's visit to Syria deferred due to security issues
A scheduled visit by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to strife-torn Syria next week has been deferred due to escalating tension in that country.

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said fresh dates for her visit will be decided in consultation with the Syrian government.

"The external affairs minister's visit to Syria has been deferred due to the prevailing situation in that country. Fresh dates will be decided in mutual consultation with the Syrian side," he said.

Swaraj was scheduled to visit Syria and Lebanon on a three-day visit from September 11.

It would have been the first visit by an Indian external affairs minister to Syria after the civil war-like situation broke out in that country.

According to reports, Russian fighter planes have mounted fresh strikes on the Syrian province of Idlib, amid a meeting in Tehran among leaders of Iran, Russia and Turkey to chalk out a common strategy to deal with the volatile situation in Southern Syria.

The Russian military has warned its US counterparts not to get involved in any military operation in southern Syria.

India has been maintaining that all parties should exercise restraint and avoid any steps that may further escalate the situation in country.  -- PTI
20:21   Gauri Lankesh case: One more in SIT custody
The Special Investigation Team probing the killing of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh has taken into custody one more person in connection with the case.

Sources in the SIT said Sudhanwa Gondhalekar, who was arrested from Pune by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad in August in connection with the seizure of a huge cache of explosives, was brought to Bengaluru on Friday on transit remand.

He was produced in a local court which remanded him in police custody for 14 days.

With this, 14 suspects have been arrested in the case.

A native of Satara, Gondhalekar has confessed to his role in the Lankesh killing, SIT sources said.

The Anti-Terrorism Squad of Maharashtra police had arrested three members of a suspected right-wing Hindutva outfit, including Gondhalekar, in August and seized a huge quantity of explosives, including crude bombs.

The ATS had said they would be questioned about all the cases in which the involvement of right-wing extremists was suspected, including the Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and (journalist) Gauri Lankesh killings.  -- PTI
20:03   25 schoolchildren in Assam fall ill after measles vaccination
At least 25 school students complained of nausea, stomachache and fever after being administered measles vaccine on Saturday in Assam's Hailakandi district, officials said.

The students of Sahabad ME Madrasa under Katlicherra revenue circle were administered measles rubella (MR) just after the mid-day meal following which several of them complained of nausea, fever, stomachache and vomiting, Hailakandi Deputy Commissioner Adil Khan said.

The students were taken to the nearby Katlicherra Block Public Health Centre for treatment.

However, their condition is stated to be stable and there was no reason to panic, officials said.

Joint Director, Health Services, Avijit Basu said that six students have been hospitalised while the rest have been kept under observation and would be discharged soon.

Deputy Commissioner Adil Khan has ordered a probe into the incident to be conducted by the joint director of health services and district immunisation officer.

Khan has asked the officials to submit a report to him immediately.

Basu said he had examined the vaccines administered to the 120 students of the school in the afternoon and found them to be in order.

District Immunisation Officer (DIO) K Thambalsena said that there are no serious cases and condition of the affected was stable.

She said the MR vaccine was approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and is of high quality.

The DIO said there was no need to panic as common side effects such as fever, rashes, nausea and dizziness could occur in some cases following MR vaccination.

She said the vaccination will continue for the next couple of weeks till all the children in the age group of nine months and 15 years are vaccinated.

As many as 2.15 lakh children of 1,485 schools in the district will be covered under the MR vaccination drive.  -- PTI
19:41   Shah to lead BJP in 2019, party defers internal polls
Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah, whose three-year term ends in January next year, will lead the party in the Lok Sabha election in 2019 and its organisational polls are likely to be suspended till then as it focuses on the electoral challenge ahead, party sources said.

A party leader said organisational polls in an election year have often been deferred in the past as well to allow the incumbent president, his team of office-bearers and workers to focus fully on polls.

The party sources said on the sidelines of the two-day Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national executive meeting that Shah will lead the organisation into the Lok Sabha polls, scheduled for April-May next year.

The issue was discussed in the meeting of office-bearers, they said.

Shah had replaced Rajnath Singh as the party president soon after it came to power in May 2014 as Singh quit his post following his inclusion in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet.

He was then elected as the president in January 2016.

The BJP's constitution allows its president to serve two consecutive full terms of three years each.

As such, Shah can be elected to the post for one more term.  -- PTI
19:18   Hardik Patel continues fast from hospital bed
Patidar leader Hardik Patel's indefinite fast for reservation for his community and farm loan waiver entered 15th day Saturday as he continued his agitation from a hospital bed.

Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader and former Union minister A Raja visited Patel at the hospital and extended support to him.

Hardik, who is on a hunger strike from August 25, was admitted to a hospital Friday after his health deteriorated.

'...Sharad Yadav-ji came to meet me in the hospital. He has supported my fight for social justice and farmers' right. Quite impressed by him,' Hardik tweeted.

He also tweeted a photo of Raja arriving at the hospital and said the DMK has declared support for him.

Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) spokesperson Manoj Panara said that Hardik's fast continues.

"He has not eaten anything but has only had water. Our fight will continue until all our demands are met," Panara said.

After meeting Hardik, Yadav said he advised him to start taking food.

"I told him that his fight requires him to have strength. So he should start intake of food and water," Yadav told reporters.

Hardik was first shifted to the Sola Civil Hospital by his supporters Friday as his health deteriorated, and later to the privately-run SGVP Holistic Hospital.

At the Sola Civil Hospital, he was administered glucose.

The hospital had said in a release that his vital parameters were normal. Hardik launched his indefinite fast on August 25 from his house in Ahmedabad, demanding reservations in government jobs and education for the Patidars and loan waiver for farmers.

Later, he added another demand that his close aide Alpesh Kathiria, who was recently arrested in a 2015 sedition case by the Ahmedabad police, be released.

The BJP government in Gujarat said Friday that it was open to talks with everybody, while his supporters claimed that it had not reached out to Hardik for talks so far.  -- PTI

Photograph: Kind courtesy @HardikPatel_/Twitter
18:38   5.9-magnitude quake in China's Yunan province, 14 injured
An earthquake measuring 5.9 magnitude on the Richter scale jolted China's southwest Yunnan province on Saturday, leaving 14 people with minor injuries.

The provincial seismological bureau said 55 aftershocks have been recorded so far in Mojiang Hani autonomous county, with one above magnitude 3, two above magnitude 4, and one above magnitude 5.

According to the county government, the 5.9-magnitude quake, with an 11 km deep epicentre, had damaged dozens of homes.

Tremors were felt in the 15 towns in Mojiang as well as cities including Kunming, the provincial capital.

The Ministry of Emergency Management has initiated an emergency response and dispatched working teams to the scene.

More than 600 policemen, firefighter, medical workers are carrying out the rescue operations.

Professional rescue teams equipped with life-sensors, thermal cameras, and excavators, as well as search and rescue dogs also rushed to the quake-stricken areas, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

About 1,328 tents, 3,900 quilts, 2,000 sets of bedding, 2,000 folding beds, and 600 waterproof clothes had been sent to accommodate relocated residents.

Traffic, telecommunications, and power supply have returned to normal in most parts of Tongguan, the town nearest to the epicentre, the agency said. Rescuers in Tongguan said that the casualties would not be high as most villagers were farming outdoors when the quake struck.  --  PTI
Market cap on Friday.
17:41   Govt-run airports will now have separate affordable snacks counters
Tea and snacks would be available at the maximum retail price at some counters in government-run airports in the country, the Airport Authority of India said on Saturday.

The counters have already started offering a few beverages and packaged drinking water at affordable prices for the passengers benefit, said an AAI official.

The move comes after persistent complaints by passengers about the exorbitant rates charged for food and beverages at airport terminals.

The issue has also been raised by MPs in Parliament time and again.

In March this year, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram had taken to Twitter to vent his ire over the high price of a cup of tea at the Chennai airport, which he declined to have.

The AAI official said the counters will be available in more than 90 airports across the country, barring the big ones such as New Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru which are operated by private players.

"These days, air travel hasn't remained confined to the elite only. People from all segments of the society are travelling by air, especially after the UDAN scheme was launched, but have limited options when paying a premium for tea and snacks at the airport. The counters will bring a relief to them," he said.

Passenger traffic in Indian skies has witnessed an exponential growth over the last three to four years, growing at a rate of 20-25 per cent.

According to a Directorate General of Civil Aviation report, domestic carriers carried 11.6 million passengers in July, up by 21 per cent compared with the same month last year.

A communication was sent to the airport directors last month for separate counters. Tenders would be floated soon to have a master concessionaire to provide food at affordable price, the official said.

As per the communication, the company running the food courts have been asked to run a separate counter where selected items can be offered at reasonable rates.  -- PTI

Image only for representation.
17:34   Cong accuses Centre of 'compromising national security' over Rafale
Mounting attack against the Bharatiya Janata Party on Rafale deal issue, the Congress on Saturday asked the Centre how the price of the fighter aircraft went up when 'India-specific enhancements' for it were the same as were decided during the United Progressive Alliance rule.

Seeking replies from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala asked when the 'associated systems and weapons' were the same as approved by the Indian Air Force during UPA regime, then how did the cost per aircraft had gone up now.

Accusing the National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre of 'compromising national security', the Congress leader asked why did the BJP-led Centre allegedly forgo 'transfer of technology' and reduced the number of aircraft under Rafale deal from 126 to 36.

"It is now clear that the 'India-specific enhancements' mentioned by Modi and Sitharaman on the floor of Parliament and outside are those which were pre-decided by IAF at the time tender of 126 Rafale fighter aircrafts issued by Congress-led UPA government," Surjewala said.

He claimed that air staff qualitative requirements provided for 13 India-specific enhancements during UPA rule, which were radar-enhancements, helmet-mounted display, towed decoy system, low-band jammer, radio altimeter and ability to start and operate from high altitude airfields.

"If these specifications had been pre-decided during UPA government and these are the same on which the Modi government is buying Rafale fighter aircraft then why Rs 41,000 crore loss was being caused to public?" Surjewala, who is also an MLA from Kaithal, said.

Slamming the Modi government for its claims that there was no contract for transfer of technology under the Rafale deal during the UPA rule, the Congress leader said according to a PIB release, the RFP issued by UPA government completely exposes the 'lies' of the prime minister and the defence minister.

"It mentions transfer of technology, licensed production, and lifetime maintenance support for the aircraft. This RFP was issued in 2007," he said.

"Why did the Modi government forego transfer of technology for manufacture of next generation Rafale fighter aircraft to India through public sector HAL and despite foregoing transfer of technology, how did the cost increase?" he asked.

He claimed that the first Rafale fighter jet will be delivered by September 2019 and rest would be delivered by September 2022.

"What is more alarming is the fact that these aircraft would not have India-specific enhancements and all these will get uploaded after 2022. With threats from Pakistan and China looming large, does it not compromise national security," Surjewala asked.

To a question on whether Congress will review the deal if it comes to power in 2019, he said if this government does not constitute a Joint Parliamentary Committee over the issue, a probe would be initiated.

Taking on BJP for mocking Congress president Rahul Gandhi on his pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar, Surjewala said those who try to 'obstruct' the anybody's pilgrimage, they become the part of 'curse and sin'.  -- PTI
17:01   China, Pak foreign ministers discuss bilateral issues, CPEC
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi met his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Saturday and discussed various issues of mutual interest, including the $50-billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

This is the first high-level visit by a Chinese official to Islamabad since the new government of Prime Minister Imran Khan assumed office after the July 25 elections.

The two leaders exchanged ideas on bilateral relations and discussed regional security and the peace process in Afghanistan, the Dawn reported.

"We are proud of Pakistan and China's friendship," Qureshi said after the meeting, noting that the friendship had 'withstood every test'.

Both foreign ministers resolved during the meeting to strengthen strategic cooperation, and China was assured of Pakistan's continued commitment to CPEC as a priority project, the daily said.

The Chinese foreign minster also expressed China's wish to help strengthen and stabilise Pakistan's economy.

The Chinese foreign office also extended an invitation to Prime Minister Imran Khan to visit the country as guest of honour.

Wang had arrived in Islamabad on Friday accompanied by three other cabinet colleagues for a three-day trip.

In addition to meeting his Pakistani counterpart, the Chinese foreign minister will meet Prime Minister Khan, outgoing president Mamnoon Hussain, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser and Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Bajwa.

He is also likely to meet President-elect Arif Alvi.

The visit by Wang, who is also designated as the State Councillor which makes him the top diplomat of China, comes two days after that of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Pompeo met new Prime Minister Khan and pressed him to take 'sustained and decisive measures' against terrorists threatening the regional peace and stability.

Ahead of the visit, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying had hoped that the the two sides, through the visit, could consolidate traditional friendship, all-round cooperation and elevate China-Pakistan all-weather strategic and cooperative partnership.

Wang's visit also comes amidst reports of unease in Beijing over how the new PTI government would approach over $50 billion Chinese investments in various projects under the CPEC connecting China's Muslim-majority Xinjiang province with Gwadar port in Pakistan.

Khan in the past had criticised former prime minister Nawaz Sharif for the lack of transparency and corruption in the CPEC projects.

Newly-appointed Finance Minister Asad Umar has promised to bring about transparency to the CPEC projects whose details remained closely guarded secrets.

India has protested to China over the CPEC, which is being built through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).  -- PTI
15:57   Amit Shah to kick off poll campaign in Telangana
Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah would kick off the party's campaign for assembly polls in Telangana with a public meeting at Mahabubnagar on September 15.

National leaders of the party and Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled states are also expected take part in the campaign, BJP MLC N Ramachander Rao told PTI Saturday.

They are expected to frequently visit Telangana till the elections are over, he said.

The BJP would be organising public meetings in each assembly segment and the party would have not only state manifesto but also 'local manifestos', Rao added.

BJP's Telangana unit president K Laxman has already said the party would go it alone in the coming assembly polls. Laxman had also said the issue of elections in Telangnana would be discussed in the party's National Executive meeting in Delhi being held on Saturday and Sunday.

Legislative Assembly polls in Telangana were originally scheduled to take place simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections next year.

However, the state assembly has been dissolved this week as per a recommendation by the Telangana Rashtra Samiti government which necessitated elections ahead of schedule.  -- PTI
14:40   Chopper with 7 on board crashes in Nepal
A helicopter with seven people on board crashed in a dense forest area in Nepal on Saturday.

The Altitude Air helicopter which had gone missing since this morning crash-landed in the forest area bordering Dhading and Nuwakot districts, according to eyewitnesses.

The wreckage of the ill-fated chopper piloted by senior captain Nishchal K C with six passengers, including a Japanese trekker, has been spotted by locals in a remote location in Nuwakot district, said Nima Nuru Sherpa, Managing Director at Altitude Air Pvt Ltd, the Himalayan Times reported.

Officials said the condition of the passengers is still not known.

The helicopter which took off for Kathmandu airlifting a patient along with other passengers from Samagaun in Gorkha had lost radio contact with Kathmandu tower after flying some 20 miles at around 8.10 am, a source at Tribhuvan International Airport said.

"Rescuers have been struggling hard to reach the accident site," Sherpa said.

He added that the crashed chopper had not caught fire.

He said adverse weather conditions and difficult terrain have delayed the rescue effort. A Nepal Army helicopter and a private chopper along with rescuers have been despatched to the crash site.  -- PTI

Image only for representation.
14:15   Nuns stage demo in Kerala against 'police inaction' in rape case
Five nuns from a convent in Kottayam took to the streets in Kochi on Saturday alleging laxity in the probe into a complaint of rape filed by their sister nun against a Roman Catholic Church Bishop.

Joining the dharna organised by various Catholic organisations seeking reformation in the church, the nuns alleged that the victim had been denied justice by the Catholic Church, police and the government as no action has been initiated against accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar diocese.

"We are fighting for our sister. She has been denied justice by the Church, government and the police.We are ready to go to any extent for ensuring justice to our sister," a nun said addressing the protesters gathered in Kochi.

She sought to know why Bishop Franco has not been arrested despite sufficient evidence against him.

She also questioned the Church's stand on the matter.

"Seventy four days have passed since the complaint was launched against Bishop Franco. The police had recorded her statements several times. But accused Bishop was interrogated only once," the nun said.

They alleged that the police probing the case was trying to sabotage the investigation.

The agitators held placards and demanded the arrest of Bishop Franco.

In her complaint filed at Kuravilangad Police Station, the victim had alleged that she had received death threats from unknown people two months ago.

In her complaint, the nun accused Jalandhar Bishop Franco of raping and having unnatural sex with her multiple times between 2014 and 2016.

A special team probing the case has said as per preliminary investigation, Bishop Franco abused his position and repeatedly raped the nun.

Responding to a petition seeking speedy investigation, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Kottayam, K Subhash had informed the Kerala high court on August 13 that the probe was proceeding effectively and impartially.

The police, in a statement based on initial investigation and available evidence, had said it was found that the Bishop allegedly committed unnatural offence and raped the nun against her will.

The bishop confined the nun to a guest room in St Francis Mission Home in Kuravilangad in Kottayam district of Kerala,the statement had alleged. -- PTI

Image only for representation.
13:22   Do you like 'Prick' as celebrity couple nickname of Priyanka, Nick?
American singer Nick Jonas has opened up about his engagement to actor Priyanka Chopra as he jokingly revealed that their celebrity nickname will be 'Prick'.

During an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Friday, Jonas, 25, that he was quick to propose to Chopra as he knew she was the one right away.

Fallon asked whether they have thought of a nickname for themselves. Priyanka, 36, who was standing at the side of the stage, yelled, 'Prick'.

"She likes Prick. I don't like that one that much," Jonas said as Fallon shot down the suggestion.

The singer said after they got engaged in America, they went to India for a traditional ceremony.

"After we got engaged, we went to India, to her home country, to Mumbai, and my parents came along. We did this beautiful Roka ceremony' It's a confirmation from both sides of the family that they approve of the engagement.

"There's some beautiful prayers and a connection just for the family to have a chance to meet and hang out. It's really incredible," Jonas said.

He said they felt 'full of joy' after their ceremony and thought that now they should make it public.

"We both left that ceremony so full of joy. For she and I, I think it was just nice to have that time with the family first. Have that private moment then be able to share with the world afterwards," Jonas said.  -- PTI
12:46   Soldier commits suicide in Samba
An Army personnel allegedly committed suicide by shooting himself with his service rifle inside a camp in Samba district of Jammu and Kashmir, police said Saturday.

Naik Jasvir Singh, 34, posted with the Punjab regiment, shot himself with his service rifle while on sentry duty at Maheshwar camp on Friday, a police official said.

He said his colleagues rushed to the scene on hearing the gunshot and evacuated him to a nearby medical facility where he was declared brought dead.

The motive behind his taking such an extreme step was not known immediately, the official said, adding inquest proceedings have been initiated in connection with the incident.  -- PTI
12:43   20 children rescued from Kathua hostel, allege abuse
Jammu and Kashmir police arrested a man and rescued 20 children from a hostel run by him in Kathua yesterday.

Deputy Commissioner Rohit Khajuria said, "Children told us they're mistreated and abused. Our officers rescued them and brought them to Nari Niketan and Bal Ashram. There were 8 girls and 12 boys."

"Man running the hostel arrested and taken in custody. A first information reports was lodged against him. He was claiming he's affiliated with some church in Pathankot.When our officers enquired from the Pathankot church, they denied it. Hostel was unregistered. Man claims to be from Kerala," Khajuria said.  -- ANI
12:04   Yogendra Yadav detained in Tamil Nadu
Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav was detained today in Tamil Nadu while on his way to meet farmers protesting against a proposed eight-lane expressway.

Yadav tweeted on Saturday afternoon about the police stopping him from going to meet farmers. He also posted a video on Twitter.

'TN police has detained me and team in Chengam PS, Thiru Annamalai district. We came on the invitation of Movement Against 8Lane Way. We were prevented from going to meet farmers, phones snatched, manhandled and pushed into police van. First hand experience of police state in TN!

'I had spoken to Mr Kandasamy, Collector, Thiru Annamalai about acquisition and complains of police excesses for 8 lane way. He completely denied any police interference. Within minutes of the phone call police detained us.

'Supdt. Police, Thiru Annamalai is here to tell me hay they apprehend law and order problem due to my presence! I am saying I will only visit farmers inside their homes. SP says I am not allowed! Gandhian disobedience is the only way out, it seems (sic),' Yadav said in a series of tweets. 
11:16   Aero India 2019 to remain in Bengaluru, says Centre
After many weeks of suspense in which the Union government refused to divulge if the country's biggest airshow, Aero India 2019, would be moved out of Bengaluru, the government on Saturday finally confirmed that the biennial air show would be held in the city this time around as well. 

Discussions were afoot to move the air show, which has been hosted by Bengaluru since the past several iterations, to a new venue, most likely located in Uttar Pradesh.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had also fuelled the suspense when she had said that several cities had requested to host the show and had refused to commit on dates or the venue so far. 

On Saturday, a statement by the ministry of defence said, "The government has decided to hold the Aero India 2019 in Bengaluru from February 20-24 2019. The Department of Defence Production is committed to make this a successful and result oriented show."

This statement lays to rest any chances of the air show being advanced as well to be held in 2018 itself, another topic which was discussed by the Ministry. 

The five-day event will have a trade exhibition combined with public air shows.
10:42   BJP national meeting to begin Saturday afternoon
The BJP national meeting is set to begin Saturday afternoon in which the party is expected to articulate its response to the opposition's combined attack on the government over the rise in oil prices and also formulate its strategy for the state assembly polls and the Lok Sabha elections. 
The two-day meeting will be attended by its key leaders from all states and Union territories besides its national leadership. 
It comes against the backdrop of signs of unrest among upper castes, a core support base of the saffron party, over its push for pro-Dalit laws to woo the backward community.
Party president Amit Shah inaugurated the meeting of its national office bearers Saturday and it will be followed by the national executive meeting.
He will give the inaugural address while Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled Sunday to give the valedictory speech.
The ruling party is likely to highlight the central government's steps for "social justice" and "economic successes" besides its schemes aimed at empowering the poor.
Significantly, it has chosen the Ambedkar International Centre, which works to promote the works and ideas of Dalit icon BR Ambedkar, for hosting the meeting, a symbolism for its Dalit outreach.
10:24   Trump wants to end 'crazy' subsidies to India, calls US a 'developing nation'
US President Donald Trump said he wants to stop the subsidies that growing economies like India and China have been receiving as he wants the US, which he considers as a "developing nation", to grow faster than anybody.

Addressing a fundraiser event in the Fargo city of North Dakota, he also accused the World Trade Organization of allowing China to become a "great economic power".

"We have some of these countries that are considered growing economies. Some countries that have not matured enough yet, so we are paying them subsidies. Whole thing is crazy. Like India, like China, like others we say, 'oh, they're growing actually'," Trump said.

He said that they call themselves developing nations and "under that category they get subsidies."

"We have to pay them money. This whole thing is crazy, but we're going to stop it. We're going to stop it. We have stopped it.

Attacking the WTO, Trump said he thinks that the World Trade Organization was probably the worst of all. "But a lot of people don't know what that is, that allowed China to become this great economic power".
10:07   BJP, Congress chalk out plans for possible early Telangana polls
In the light of possible early polls in Telangana, the Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress have started drawing plans for election campaigns and rallies.

As the political atmosphere is heating up in the state, the BJP and Congress have made plans to hold several rallies, to be addressed by their senior leaders.

On September 6, Telangana Governor ESL Narasimhan dissolved the state assembly giving a nod for early assembly elections in the state, following a recommendation from K Chandrashekhar Rao-led cabinet. The Governor, however, asked Rao to continue as caretaker chief minister until the new government is formed.

Following this political turn of events, Rao's Telangana Rashtra Samithi announced to hold large public meetings in 100 assembly constituencies over the next 50 days.

-- ANI
09:43   Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma announces plans to retire
Alibaba co-founder and chairman Jack Ma plans to retire from the Chinese e-commerce giant on Monday to devote his time to philanthropy focused on education, he told the New York Times in an interview.
Ma was an English teacher before starting Alibaba in 1999 and built it into a multibillion-dollar internet colossus, becoming one of the world's richest men and a revered figure in his homeland.

His own worth has soared along with that of the company, which was valued at $420.8 billion based on its share price at the close of trade on Friday.

Ma told The New York Times that he plans to step down from the company on Monday -- his 54th birthday -- referring to his departure as "the beginning of an era" rather than an end.

Ma, who gave up the title of CEO in 2013, said he now planned to devote his time and fortune to education.

The way he chose to make the announcement was unusual. The New York Times is blocked in China by Communist Party censors and there was no official statement from Alibaba on Saturday.

Ma is part of a generation of billionaire entrepreneurs who made their fortunes as China embraced the digital age, creating some of the country's largest and most successful companies in the space of little more than a decade.

Ma is the first of his generation of uber-wealthy tech bosses to retire, a rare move in a country where business figures often run their empires well into their 80s -- Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing only retired in May at the age of 89.
Noted economist Ajit Ranade took to Twitter this morning to wish Asha Bhosle on her 85th birthday. 

He wrote, "Indias other nightingale is 85 years young! Happy birthday to the ever young #AshaBhosle."

Wishing Bhosle for her birthday, he added, "A wonderful tribute from daughter Varsha, from long ago."

Read the tribute that Varsha, now deceased, had written for her mother HERE
08:52   Maruti Suzuki to start testing prototypes of electric vehicles from October
Shally Seth Mohile/Business Standard reports

Maruti Suzuki India, the India arm of Suzuki Motor Corp, will start testing a fleet of 50 prototypes of electric vehicles in India from October, said Suzuki Motor Corp Chairman Osamu Suzuki.

We have decided to launch EVs in India around 2020 in collaboration with Toyota Motor Corporation, Suzuki said at the opening session of MOVE, the two-day Global Mobility Summit.

Suzuki Motor is also in the process of setting up a lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant in Gujarats Halsalpur in collaboration with Denso Corp and Toshiba Corp. We have also decided to commence production of lithium-ion batteries for automobiles at our plant in Gujarat in 2020, added Suzuki.
08:44   Terrorist killed, policeman injured in attack on police picket in J-K
A terrorist was killed and a policeman injured when a some ultras attacked a police picket in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir, the police said on Saturday.
Terrorists attacked a police picket at Achabal late Friday night, a police official said, adding but the attack was successfully repulsed. 
In retaliatory action, one terrorist was killed and his weapon was recovered, he said.
The identity and group affiliation of the slain ultra is yet to be ascertained, he added.

 The official said that in the shootout, a policeman sustained injuries and was shifted to a hospital where his condition is stated to be stable. 
08:31   Trump asks AG to investigate author of anonymous New York Times op-ed
Donald Trump said he wants Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate and uncover the identity of the senior administration official who penned an anonymous op-ed in The New York Times this week that criticised the US president as reckless.
Trump has demanded that The New York Times disclose the author of the essay, described by the newspaper as a senior administration official. 
The writer said aides had been working to thwart decisions by the president they deemed misguided. Trump said revealing the writer's name was in the interests of national security.

The op-ed ashed the US President as amoral and claimed there is a "resistance" within the administration. The essay has enraged Trump and touched off a furious search inside the administration for its author.

"I would say (Attorney General) Jeff should be investigating who the author of that piece was because I really believe it's national security," Trump told reporters.   

Trump has called it a treason and said that he is looking into the possibility of an action against the top American daily. 
08:10   'Modi govt undermining values that democratic polity should protect'
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh accused the Modi government of "slowly but surely" undermining the values that a democratic polity should fiercely protect and called for a meaningful national debate on it as also the failure of ruling dispensation in fulfilling its promises made.
Releasing a book titled "Shades of Truth" by former union minister and Congress leader Kapil Sibal, he hoped this is the beginning of the national debate that everyone needs.

In a scathing indictment of the Modi dispensation, Singh said key national institutions vital for good governance are experiencing unprecedented new strains, India's neighbourhood is far less secured than it was in 2014 and its ties with neighbours deteriorated in the last four years. 

"The Modi government has slowly but surely undermined the values that any democratic polity should fiercely protect. Important national institutions vital for good governance are experiencing unprecedented new strains. 

 "Our neighbourhood is far less secured than it was in 2014. Our relations with neighbours have deteriorated in the last four years. Modi government has failed to address issues relating to a creative use of science and technology for national transformation," he said.

"Women, Dalits and minorities are increasingly living in an environment of insecurity," he said, adding that nothing concrete has been done to bring back the promised billions of dollars allegedly held abroad as black money.

"Academic freedom is sought to be curbed, the environment in our universities is being vitiated. All this is a powerful indictment on the Modi government's performance and there has to be a meaningful national debate on issues raised by Kapil Sibal. So, I sincerely hope that this is the beginning of that national debate and we all need that and together with an alternative narrative that the country needs to study and adopt," he said.

-- PTI
00:04   2-day BJP national executive begins today
Amid signs of unrest among the upper castes over its push for pro-Dalit laws, the Bharatiya Janata Party will hold a two-day meeting of its key decision-making body in New Delhi starting Saturday, in which the ruling party is likely to highlight the Narendra Modi government's steps for "social justice" and "economic successes".
The national executive of the Bharatiya Janata Party is also likely to respond to concerns over the rise in oil prices and refer to the previous UPA government's "mismanagement of the economy" as it meets ahead of the assembly polls in five states, with the Lok Sabha election less than eight months away, party sources said.
BJP president Amit Shah will deliver the inaugural address in the presence of the party's top leaders, including Prime Minister Modi, on Saturday afternoon, while the latter is scheduled to give the valedictory speech on Sunday.
Significantly, the saffron party has chosen the Ambedkar International Centre, which works to promote the works and ideas of Dalit icon BR Ambedkar, for hosting the meeting, a symbolism for its Dalit outreach.
However, it will have to do a balancing act as groups claiming to represent the upper castes, its core vote bank, have been protesting the government's decision to restore the original and stringent provisions of a law on atrocities against Dalits and tribals, after the Supreme Court had relaxed those. The groups had called a "Bharat Bandh" on Thursday.
Senior BJP leader Kalraj Mishra has gone on record seeking a rethink on the law, which non-Dalits/tribals claim is often misused.
The issues of the National Register of Citizens, passage of key bills -- including the one to restore the original provisions of the law on atrocities against Dalits and another that accorded constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes -- in Parliament will also come up for discussion at the national executive meet, the sources said.
BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain told reporters that the executive will discuss all the topical issues. He, though, did not elaborate further.
It will be the first such meeting of the party following the death of its stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The executive will pay tribute to the former prime minister, Hussain said.
The sources said the hike announced by the government in the Minimum Support Price for a number of farm produce and the rise in the economic growth in the last quarter to 8.2 per cent would also find a mention, besides the ongoing "Gram Swaraj" campaign to cover the poor with a host of welfare programmes.
Modi has often cited his government's pro-poor programmes and push for laws to empower the Dalits and Other Backward Classes as an evidence of its work for "social justice", a theme likely to be picked by the BJP national executive.
The BJP is likely to present itself as a party that has promoted the interests of the backward classes -- a constituency it has constantly been wooing to big electoral successes since 2014.