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LIVE! Banker-turned-politician Meera Sanyal dead

January 11, 2019


23:32  Banker-turned-politician Meera Sanyal dead:  
Banker-turned-politician Meera Sanyal died on Friday after a brief illness.

Sanyal, 57, had joined the Aam Aadmi Party after quitting her job as the country chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland, and contested the Lok Sabha election in 2014.

AAP leader and Delhi's Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia confirmed her death in a tweet, saying the country has lost a 'sharp economic brain and a gentle soul'.

'You will forever remain in our hearts,' Sisodia said in the tweet.      

'Extremely sad to hear this. No words to express...,' AAP chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted.

In her 30-year-old banking career before surprising all by plunging into politics, the Kochi-born Sanyal had also served as the head of corporate finance and chief operating officer for ABN Amro for Asia.

She unsuccessfully contested the 2014 Lok Sabha election from Mumbai south constituency.  -- PTI
22:16  AAP leader and banker Meera Sanyal passes away:  
Delhi deputy CM Manish Sisodia tweets:

'I am deeply saddened to hear about the passing away of Meera Sanyal. The country has lost a sharp economic brain and a gentle soul. May she rest in peace! You will forever remain in our hearts.'
22:11  Army major, soldier killed in IED blast along LoC:  
An Army Major and a soldier were killed in an improvised explosive device blast along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir's Rajouri district on Friday, officials said.

An improvised explosive device was planted by suspected terrorists in foot-track along the LoC to target Army soldiers patrolling the borderline in Laam belt of Nowshera sector of Rajouri district, they said.

The blast resulted in injuries to two soldiers, including a Major, the officials said, adding they were rushed to a hospital where they succumbed to injuries.

Army soldiers have been alerted against IED blasts and attacks by the border action teams (BATs) of the Pakistan Army, they said.  -- PTI

Image only for representation.
21:50  'The Accidental Prime Minister' screening stalled in Ludhiana:  
The screening of Bollywood film The Accidental Prime Minister was stopped at a mall in this city of Punjab on Friday following protest by Congress activists.

The Congress workers forced the management not to screen the movie.

They also raised slogans against the Bharatiya Janata Party, accusing it of lowering the image of former prime minister Manmohan Singh with the movie.

The party also demanded FIR against the director and actors of the movie.

Heavy police force has been deployed outside all cinema halls in the city, officials said. Similar protests were held by Congress workers in Jalandhar.

The Accidental Prime Minister features actor Anupam Kher as Manmohan Singh.

It is based on Sanjaya Baru's 2014 memoir of the same name and details Singh's relationship with the Congress party's Gandhi family. The movie hit the theatres Friday. -- PTI
21:47  Terrorists attack CRPF bunker in Srinagar:  
Terrorists on Friday evening attacked a Central Reserve Police Force bunker in the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir by hurling a grenade, but there were no reports of loss of life, police said.

Terrorists hurled a UBGL grenade towards a CRPF bunker near Palladium Cinema in city centre Lal Chowk this evening, a police official said.

He said there were no reports of any loss of life so far in the explosion.  -- PTI
21:21  US to make major changes in H1B visa programme: Trump:  
United States President Donald Trump on Friday assured H-1B visa holders, an overwhelming majority of whom are Indian IT professionals, that his administration will soon bring changes that will give them certainty to stay in America and a 'potential path to citizenship'.

Trump on Friday tweeted that his administration is planning an overhaul of US policies on H-1B visa and will encourage talented and highly-skilled people to pursue career options in the US.

'H1-B holders in the US can rest assured that changes are soon coming which will bring both simplicity and certainty to your stay, including a potential path to citizenship. We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the US,' Trump tweeted on Friday.

Trump's tweet comes as a good news for Indian professionals, especially in the IT sector, who currently have to wait for nearly a decade to get a Green Card or permanent legal residency.

In the first two years of his presidency, Trump administration had made it tough for the H-1B visa holders over their overstay, extension and issuing of new ones.

The H-1B visa, most sought-after among Indian IT professionals, is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. -- PTI
21:14  BJP wants Ram temple at earliest, Congress creating hurdles: Shah:  
The Bharatiya Janata Party wants the Ram temple in Ayodhya to be constructed at the earliest, its president Amit Shah asserted at the party's national convention on Friday and accused the Congress of putting 'hurdles' in resolution of the issue.

Shah's reiteration of the party's stand on the issue in his inaugural address drew the most enthusiastic response from thousands of its members at Ramlila Maidan, underscoring its resonance with the saffron party's rank and file.

"The BJP wants the Ram temple constructed at the earliest at the same site. Let there be no doubt," Shah said.

He asserted that the party is making all efforts to ensure that the matter is resolved in the Supreme Court as soon as possible.

The court is adjudicating on the Ram temple title case and has fixed January 29 as the next date of hearing.

Accusing the Congress of creating hurdles in early resolution of the matter in the court, Shah asked the opposition party to make its stand clear on the matter.

In presence of top party leaders at the convention including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Shah said the BJP wants the issue to be resolved constitutionally.

Hindutva organisations, including the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, have repeatedly expressed their frustration at the 'delay' in the case and have demanded that the Modi government bring a law to pave the way for the temple's construction at the site in Ayodhya, considered to be the birth place of Lord Ram.  -- PTI

IMAGE: BJP president Amit Shah addresses on the first day of BJP National Executive Meet, at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi, on Friday. Photograph: Kamal Kishore/PTI Photo
20:55  Nothing wrong in inviting Pak trade body for Vibrant Gujarat Summit: Chief Secy:  
The Gujarat government Friday said there was nothing wrong in inviting a Pakistani trade body for the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2019.

The three-day investor summit will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 18 in Gandhinagar.

"It was GCCI (Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry) which decided to invite global trade bodies and the state government agreed to it.

"Karachi Chamber of Commerce is also one of the global trade bodies invited by the GCCI. The government has not sent any invitation. And, there is nothing wrong in it (the invite)," state Chief Secretary J N Singh told reporters here when asked about the invitation to the Pakistani delegation.

"GCCI took this initiative and we are happy with it, as we are already having trade relations with Pakistan. We welcome GCCI's initiative. Chambers from 35 countries, including Pakistan, are coming here," Singh added.

The Pakistani delegation has been invited to participate in the 'Global Conclave of International Chambers', an event at the three-day summit.

In 2013, a trade delegation from Pakistan had arrived in Gujarat to take part in the biennial summit, but it left without attending the main event following tensions on the border.

No Pakistani delegation was invited for the summit in 2015 and 2017.  -- PTI
20:28  HC grants bail to Gohain, Gogoi, Mahanta in sedition case:  
The Gauhati high court on Friday  granted interim bail to Assamese litterateur Hiren Gohain and KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi, and absolute bail to senior journalist Manjit Mahanta in the sedition case filed by the Assam Police over their alleged remarks against the citizenship bill.

Justice H K Sarma granted interim bail to Gohain and Gogoi against a surety Rs 5,000 each.

He also directed the police to file the case diary by January 22.

Police had filed a suo motu case under Indian Penal Code sections, including 121 (waging or attempting to wage war, or abetting waging of war, against government), 123 (concealing with intent to facilitate design to wage war) and 124(A) (sedition),at the Latasil police station in Guwahati.

The case was filed on the basis of comments made by the three during a meeting on January 7 to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill.

The Bill, passed by the Lok Sabha on January 8, seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslims who fled religious persecution in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and entered India before December 31, 2014. -- PTI

IMAGE: Hiren Gohain. Photograph: ANI
19:32  Top losers at BSE today.
19:16  BSE Sensex today.
19:14  10% quota doesn't violate basic structure of Constitution: Jaitley:  
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday said the 10 per cent reservation for economically weaker sections in government jobs and educational institutions does not contravene the basic structure of the Constitution and termed the move the single greatest recognition for the poor in the general category.

He also accused the main opposition party Congress of only paying 'lip sympathy' and grudgingly supporting the Constitution Amendment Bill, passed by Parliament earlier this week.

Caste in India was considered as a key determinant of either social or historical oppression as in the case of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes or a determinant of social and educational backwardness as in the case of the Other Backward Classes, he said in a Facebook blog.       

'Poverty, however, is a secular criteria (sic) and it cuts across communities and religions,' he said adding that 'poverty as a criteria (sic) for a carve out does not in any way contravene the basic structure of the Constitution'.

The Union minister noted that the original Constitution (unamended) in its Preamble mentions equality of opportunity and justice for all whether political, social or economic to be ensured by the state.

The Preamble expresses the intent of the Constitution framers, he added.

"It is an aid to the interpretation of what constitutes the basic structure. Nor does the carve out amongst the general non-reserved categories for 10 per cent of their poor in any way get restricted by the 50 per cent reservation embargo placed by the Supreme Court," said the senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader.

In the Indra Sawhney case, Jaitley said the Supreme Court had categorically mentioned that 50 per cent criteria (sic) applies only to the caste-based reservations envisaged in Article 16(4) of the Constitution.

Nonetheless, the Prime Minister's decision to force an agenda for poverty based reservation is 'the single greatest recognition/concern' for poor across the general categories and the need to eliminate poverty.

"The principal opposition party showed only lip sympathy for the measure and grudgingly supported it while poking holes in the same," the minister said.

He also highlighted other government's initiatives like housing for every rural poor, universal health scheme -- Ayushman Bharat, and interest subvention, for economic upliftment of the poor.

On relief measures for the middle class, Jaitley said that in the last five years, not a single tax has been increased, GST has been brought down on most commodities, and income tax relief has been provided.

Commodities have been made cheaper, even though the revenue sacrificed now after the rates revision would be close to Rs 1 lakh crore, he said.      

"This is the first time that during the five-year tenure of a government a Rs 2 lakh crore annual tax rebate for both direct and indirect taxes is given to the middle class tax payer without a single tax being increased," Jaitley said.

The finance minister further listed out measures taken by the present government for the upliftment and economic empowerment of the poor.

"There is a method for economically empowering the poor. Their purchasing power has improved. This helps trade and businesses which impacts positively on the economy.

"This is the first five year tenure of a government where India has consistently remained the fastest growing economy in the world," he said.

This indeed helps every Indian -- the poor, the neo-middle class, the middle class and, of course, the large business community, the minister added.  -- PTI
19:05  HC restrains Zee Media from issuing ads against journalist Rajat Sharma:  
The Delhi high court on Friday restrained Zee Media from issuing any advertisement in print or electronic media containing the name of veteran journalist Rajat Sharma of India TV and directed that the ads be removed within three days.

The order came on a plea by Sharma, the editor-in-chief of Independent News Service Private Ltd (India TV), seeking direction to the media group to immediately take down the advertisements issued by its news channel Zee Hindustan by 'malafidely' using the journalist's name.

Justice Jayant Nath, in an ex parte order, said reference to Sharma's name in the advertisement was prima facie illegal and the media group cannot be permitted to do it.

"Balance of convenience is also in favour of the plaintiff (Sharma). The defendants (Zee Media Corporation and its managing director) are restrained from issuing any advertisements in the print media, TV channels or otherwise which contain the name of the plaintiff. They will within three days remove any hoarding which has reference to the name of the plaintiff," the court said.

The court also issued summons to the media house and its managing director for April 10 on the plaint. In the advertisement, the media house had used the phrase 'India me ab Rajat ki adalat band'.

The plea filed through advocate T Singhdev stated that since 1993, Sharma had been running the show Aap Ki Adalat on Zee TV and thereafter, it was telecast on Star Plus and now is being telecast on his channel India TV.

The media house has started an advertisement or promotion campaign against the show run by Sharma, it said, adding it violated the intellectual property rights of the journalist and sought an apology.  -- PTI
18:26  Call a meeting, end strike: Bombay HC tells BEST union:  
The Bombay high court on Friday asked the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Workers' Union to 'take the first step' towards resolving its dispute with the state and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and end the civic bus service employees' strike, now in its fourth day.

The court also asked the union to hold a meeting of its office-bearers in the evening in a bid to break the stalemate. Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni told the court that the Maharashtra government had set up a committee, headed by the chief secretary, to hold talks with the union.

Secretaries of the urban development and transport departments are also part of this committee, he said.

BMC and BEST officials will also attend the meeting, he said.

Lawyers of the BMC and the BEST said they were open to resolving the issues of the civic bus service employees as long as the union 'cooperated' and stopped 'holding a gun' to their heads.

At this, a bench of Chief Justice Naresh Patil and N M Jamdar noted that as the authorities had already constituted a committee and were willing to resolve the matter, the union must now make efforts to end the deadlock.

"The city has a certain reputation. So many commuters are affected on a daily basis. You can't hold the city to ransom in this manner by withholding essential services," the bench said.

"You take the first step now. Call a meeting of all your members and others supporting you and take a decision to create a congenial environment and hold talks with the government," it said.

Once the union holds the meeting and takes a 'positive decision', its representatives will meet the newly constituted government committee on Saturday morning, it added.

Nearly 32,000 BEST employees are on an indefinite strike since Tuesday to press for demands including higher salaries, revision of pay scale for junior employees and merger of the budget of the loss making BEST with that of the BMC.

The court was hearing a PIL, filed by lawyer Datta Mane, seeking a direction to the BEST workers to call off the strike immediately.

The petitioner argued that the strike had resulted in much inconvenience to over 50 lakh commuters in the city as 3,700 BEST buses had gone off the road.

The BMC and the BEST, through their counsels Anil Sakhre and Darius Khambatta, respectively, told the court that the state's laws prohibit employees engaged in providing essential services from going on strike.

They said an industrial court had prohibited BEST workers from going on strike, therefore the strike had no legal sanction.

They, however, agreed to hold a discussion with the union to come up with 'long-term, comprehensive solutions'.  -- PTI
17:57  CBI chargesheets Chidambaram's wife in Saradha case:  
The Central Bureau of Investigation has filed a charge sheet against Nalini Chidambaram, the wife of former Union finance minister P Chidambaram, alleging she had received Rs 1.4 crore from Saradha group of companies, embroiled in a chit fund scam, officials said on Friday.

It is alleged she entered into a criminal conspiracy with Sudipta Sen, the proprietor of Saradha group, and other accused persons with an intention of cheating and misappropriation of funds of Saradha group of companies, CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal said in New Delhi.

The CBI alleged that Manoranjana Sinh, the estranged wife of former Union minister Matang Sinh, introduced Sen to Nalini Chidambaram to manage probes by various agencies like Securities and Exchange Board of India, Registrar of Companies against him for which she allegedly received Rs 1.4 crore during 2010-12 through his companies, he said.

The charge sheet was filed in a special court in Kolkata, he said.

The group had raised Rs 2,500 crore from people luring with attracting interest rates which were not repaid.

Sen had closed operations of company in 2013 after failing to pay returns. This is the sixth charge sheet in the Saradha scam which was handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation by the Supreme Court in 2014.  -- PTI
17:26  Shah sounds poll bugle, says 2019 will be a 'battle of ideologies':  
Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah on Friday said the Modi government has 'fulfilled' the dreams of crores of youths with 10 per cent reservation in jobs and education for the general category poor, and described the constitution amendment bill as one of the most important legislations passed by Parliament.

Shad hailed the legislation in his inaugural address at the BJP's national convention, which started in New Delhi on Friday at Ramlila Maidan.

This is one of the most important legislations Parliament has passed, he said.

With top party leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, present at the dais and close to 12,000 delegates present, Shah also hailed the GST Council's decision to double the limit for exemption from payment of goods and services tax (GST) to Rs 40 lakh.

The Modi government has taken two big decisions in a week, Shah said.

In a 'massive relief' to small businesses, the GST Council on Thursday doubled the limit for exemption from payment of GST to Rs 40 lakh and announced that the higher turnover cap of Rs 1.5 crore for availing composition scheme of paying 1 per cent tax will be effective from April 1.

The BJP president said that the Lok Sabha polls are a battle of two ideologies.

The BJP stands for cultural nationalism, poor, while rivals together merely for power, he said.

Hitting on Opposition's grand alliance, Shah said it has no nationwide influence.

We defeated all of them in 2014. Opposition's alliance an acknowledgment of our strength, PM Narendra Modi is now the nucleus of politics like the Congress once was, Shah said.

The BJP chief also claimed that in Uttar Pradesh, his party will win more Lok Sabha seats than it did in 2014.  -- PTI
17:11  JUST IN: The Central Bureau of Investigation has filed chargesheet against P Chidambaram's wife Nalini Chidambaram in a court in Kolkata, in connection with Saradha scam.
16:49  Infy net profit falls by 30% to Rs 3,610 crore in Q3:  
Infosys net profit falls nearly 30 per cent to Rs 3,610 crore in December quarter; revenue rises 20.3 per cent to Rs 21,400 crore from the year-ago period.

Infosys Board approves buyback of shares worth up to Rs 8,260 crore.  -- PTI
16:47  Pandya, Rahul suspended pending inquiry:  
Cricketers Hardik Pandya and K L Rahul were on Friday suspended pending an inquiry into their outrage-evoking comments on women during a TV show, the Committee of Administrators (CoA) chairman Vinod Rai told PTI.

The cricketers, who have been in the eye of a storm following their sexist remarks on Koffee with Karan, will be returning from Australia where they were to compete in an ODI series starting on Saturday.

The two had been omitted from the line-up for the opening match in Sydney.

"Both Pandya and Rahul have been suspended pending an inquiry," Rai said.

The decision comes after Rai's CoA colleague Diana Edulji on Friday recommended suspension till further action against the two after the Board of Control for Cricket in India legal team refused to declare their comments a violation of the code of conduct.

Edulji had initially suggested a two-match suspension for the duo but referred the matter to the legal cell after Vinod Rai agreed with her and recommended the same.

"It is imperative that players be put under suspension till further course of action is decided for this misconduct as was done in case of (BCCI) CEO (Rahul Johri) when he was sent on leave on sexual harassment matter," read Edulji's response to the legal opinion which is in possession of PTI.

Their remarks on the show were also condemned by India captain Virat Kohli, who called them inappropriate.

Pandya had boasted about hooking up with multiple women and being open about it with his parents during the interview.

Rahul was, however, a shade more restrained in his responses on relationships.  -- PTI
16:21  Hotstar removes Pandya, Rahul episode of 'Koffee With Karan' :  
The Koffee With Karan episode featuring cricketers Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul has been taken down by Hotstar after it attracted widespread criticism for Pandya's misogynistic and sexist comments. 
 
The 25-year-old all-rounder had boasted about hooking up with multiple women on the Sunday episode of the Karan Johar-hosted show.  
"Certain remarks/comments made by the guests on the episode 12 of Koffee with Karan may hurt the sentiments of our users/viewers. As a responsible platform, we have removed the episode from Hotstar with immediate effect," Hotstar tweeted on Friday.
Pandya has apologised for his remarks, saying he got "carried away by the nature" of the show.
"After reflecting on my comments on Koffee with Karan, I would like to apologise to everyone concerned who I may have hurt in any way.
"Honestly, I got a bit carried away with the nature of the show. In no way did I mean to disrespect or hurt anyone's sentiments. Respect," he had said in his apology.
Both Pandya and Rahul have been reprimanded by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which is mulling a ban on the cricketers.
 
Johar is yet to address the controversy. -- PTI  
16:02  Pakistan should be the last country to lecture India on plurality: MEA:  
India slammed Pakistan on Friday for its statement that New Delhi was not responding to its peace overtures, saying there was "no seriousness" in Islamabad's offer for talks as it continued to extend "explicit support" to terror organisations and was now trying to mainstream them.
   
India's sharp reaction comes days after Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan accused it of not responding to his peace overtures.
 
Responding to Khan's comments, ministry of external affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, "I don't understand these statements. Even before Imran Khan became Prime Minister, our Prime Minister had called and congratulated him on his election win."
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj also wrote to their counterparts and congratulated them after they assumed office, he said at a media briefing.
 
Kumar also posed questions to Pakistan to hit out at the country for supporting terrorism and allowing terrorists to use its soil for targeting other nations.
 
"When they say they are ready for talks, then why do their ministers share platform with internationally designated terrorists. There have been many instances in the past few months when their ministers have shared a platform with such people," Kumar said.
 
He cited some instances such as Pakistan's religious affairs minister Noor-ul-Haq Qadri sharing a public platform with Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Saeed on September 30 where both of them made "vitriolic" anti-India statements and the terror organisation opening centres in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
 
In December, Pakistan's interior minister met representatives of the JuD terrorist organisation and openly pledged support to them, Kumar said.

On Khan's statement on treatment of minorities in India, Kumar said, "Pakistan should be the last country in the world to lecture us on the topic of plurality and inclusive society. We and the world are fully aware how the minorities are treated in their country." -- PTI
15:58  Apple to release 3 new iPhone models this year:  A technology alert from the Wall Street Journal says that smartphone pioneer Apple plans to release three new iPhone models this fall, including a successor to the XR, whose disappointing sales have posed revenue difficulties for the Cupertino-based giant.   

The alert said that new features include a triple rear camera for the highest-end model and a double rear camera for the other models.
15:50  Pandya, Rahul out from 1st ODI amid recommendation of suspension:  
India will not be fielding Hardik Pandya and K L Rahul in Saturday's ODI series-opener against Australia after Committee of Administrators (CoA) member Diana Edulji recommended a suspension pending inquiry for their controversial comments on women during a TV show.
   
A BCCI source told PTI that Rahul was not considered for selection while Pandya will not feature at least in the game on Saturday. A final decision on the matter is still awaited. 
 
"The team management has told Pandya that he is not playing tomorrow as they are yet to get a final directive. Rahul, in any case, wasn't in contention for a first XI berth," said a source close to the development.
 
"The team management is waiting for an official communication on whether there is a provisional suspension and if they will be sent back," he added. 
 
On Thursday, COA chief Vinod Rai recommended a two-match ban for Pandya and Rahul but colleague Edulji referred the matter to BCCI's legal team.
 
On Friday, Edulji called for suspension of the two players pending inquiry after the BCCI legal team refused to declare their outrage-evoking comments on women a violation of the code of conduct.
 
In the pre-match media interaction, India captain Virat Kohli condemned the comments made by Pandya and Rahul, calling them "inappropriate".
 
"From the Indian cricket team point of view, any inappropriate comments that are made in that scenario are something that we definitely don't support...and that has been communicated (to the two players)," said Kohli.
 
"...We definitely don't align with those views and those are purely individual views. The two concerned players (have) felt what has gone wrong and they have understood the magnitude of what's happened."  
 
However, the skipper insisted that the dressing room morale won't be affected by the controversy after the historic high of a maiden Test series triumph in Australia.
15:33  Former CBI chief Alok Verma resigns from service:  
Former Central Bureau of Investigation chief Alok Verma submitted his resignation from service on Friday, a day after he was removed from his post by a high powered committee. 
   
Verma said in his resignation letter, accessed by PTI, that it was a moment of "collective  introspection".
 
"Also, it may be noted that the undersigned already superannuated as on January 31, 2017 and was only serving Government as Director, CBI till January 31, 2019, as the same was fixed tenure role. The undersigned is no longer Director, CBI and has already crossed the superannuation age for DG Fire Service, Civil Defence and Home Guards. Accordingly, the undersigned may be deemed as superannuated with effect from today," Verma said in his letter to Secretary, Department of Personnel and Training Friday.
 
Verma, a 1979-batch IPS officer from AGMUT cadre, was transferred from the position of CBI Director to Director General, Fire Service, Civil Defence and Home Guards under the home ministry Thursday.
 
The move came after a high powered selection committee comprising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Justice A K Sikri and leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, in a split verdict, decided to transfer him 21 days ahead of the completion of his tenure. -- PTI
15:24  Blow to Asthana as HC refuses to quash FIR :  
The Delhi high court on Friday refused to quash the FIR lodged against Central Bureua of Investigation special director Rakesh Asthana on bribery allegations.
   
Justice Najmi Waziri also refused to quash the FIR lodged against CBI deputy superintendent Devender Kumar and alleged middleman Manoj Prasad.
 
The high court's verdict came on petitions by Asthana, Kumar and Prasad challenging the FIR lodged against them. Asthana was booked on charges of criminal conspiracy, corruption and criminal misconduct under sections of Prevention of Corruption Act.
 
Hyderabad-based businessman Sathish Babu Sana, on whose complaint the FIR was lodged, alleged having paid bribe to get relief in a case.
 
Sana had also made allegations of corruption, extortion, high-handedness and serious malpractice against Asthana. -- PTI
15:21  Gurmeet Ram Rahim convicted in scribe murder case :  
A special CBI court in Panchkula has convicted jailed Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and three others in journalist Ram Chander Chhatarpati murder case.

The court to pronounce quantum of punishment on January 17.

Chhatrapati was shot at in October 2002 after his newspaper, 'Poora Sach', published an anonymous letter narrating how women were being sexually exploited by Gurmeet Ram Rahim at the Dera headquarters in Sirsa.

The journalist later succumbed to injuries and a case was registered in 2003. The case was handed over to the CBI in 2006.

The 51-year-old sect head is currently serving a 20-year prison term in Rohtak's Sunaria jail for raping two of his women followers.
14:43  Oceans warming much faster than previously thought: Study:  
Heat trapped by greenhouse gases is raising ocean temperatures faster than previously thought, according to a study which provides further evidence that earlier claims of a "hiatus" in global warming over the past 15 years were unfounded.
   
"If you want to see where global warming is happening, look in our oceans," said Zeke Hausfather, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley in the US.
"Ocean heating is a very important indicator of climate change, and we have robust evidence that it is warming more rapidly than we thought," Hausfather said.
 
Ocean heating is critical marker of climate change because an estimated 93 per cent of the excess solar energy trapped by greenhouse gases accumulates in the world's oceans.
 
Unlike surface temperatures, ocean temperatures are not affected by year-to-year variations caused by climate events like El Nino or volcanic eruptions.
 
The new analysis, published in the journal Science, shows that trends in ocean heat content match those predicted by leading climate change models, and that overall ocean warming is accelerating.
 
Assuming a "business-as-usual" scenario in which no effort has been made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 5 (CMIP5) models predict that the temperature of the top 2,000 metres of the world's oceans will rise 0.78 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, researchers said.
 
The thermal expansion caused by this bump in temperature would raise sea levels 30 centimeters on top of the already significant sea level rise caused by melting glaciers and ice sheets.
 
Warmer oceans also contribute to stronger storms, hurricanes and extreme precipitation.
 
"While 2018 will be the fourth warmest year on record on the surface, it will most certainly be the warmest year on record in the oceans, as was 2017 and 2016 before that," said Hausfather.
 
Four studies, published between 2014 and 2017, provide better estimates of past trends in ocean heat content by correcting for discrepancies between different types of ocean temperature measurements and by better accounting for gaps in measurements over time or location. -- PTI
14:40  Am not here to tell my 'Mann ki Baat': Rahul takes jibe at PM in UAE :  
Taking a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday told Indian workers in Dubai that he wants to listen to their problems instead of telling his "Mann Ki Baat".
Gandhi, who is in the UAE on a maiden visit, was accorded a warm welcome by the Indian diaspora at the Dubai airport on Thursday.
He lauded the Indian workers here for making the country proud by their hard work in the UAE.
"You have illuminated the names of every religion, every state and every caste," he said.
 
He said his party is aware of the difficulties faced by the labourers and wants to help them. 
"We want to talk to you," he said.
 
"Main yahan apne mann ki baat kahne nahi aaya hun..main yayan aapke mann ki baat sunane aaya hun (I have not come here to speak my mind, I have come to listen to your heart)," he said in his address at the Jabel Ali labour colony.
He was referring to Prime Minister Modi's monthly radio broadcast Mann Ki Baat where he address the nation on various issues.
 
Earlier Gandhi met with the business leaders in the country.
A construction worker from Jabel Ali labour colony said he wants to see Gandhi leading India with compassion and care for all Indians. 
Gandhi is also set to meet some UAE ministers during his two-day visit to Dubai and Abu Dhabi. -- PTI  
14:13  Christian Michel gets consular access:  
India has granted consular access to Christian Michel, a British national who was brought in New Delhi from the United Arab Emirates last month in connection with the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland chopper deal scam.
 
The British high commission had sought consular access to Michel after he was arrested in the first week of December. 
"Consular access has been granted to Michel," external affairs ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
Michel, 57, was brought to India following his extradition by the United Arab Emirates in connection with the chopper deal case. At present, he is lodged in Tihar jail here.
 
It is learnt that consular access to Michel was granted on Thursday.
Michel is one of the three middlemen, being probed by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate in the case, besides Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa. Michel has denied the charges. 
13:36  SC gives its nod to construction of ongoing projects under Chardham development plan:  
The Supreme Court on Friday gave its nod to ongoing projects under the government's ambitious Chardham development plan, which proposes to provide all-weather connectivity to the four holy towns of Uttarakhand.
   
The top court, however, said the construction of  stalled projects under the plan will remain stayed till further orders.
 
A bench of justices R F Nariman and Vineet Saran asked the Centre to file its affidavit on a plea to stay the National Green Tribunal order which had cleared the projects and set up a committee to oversee it.
 
The Chardham project intends to connect four towns of the hilly state, Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath, by all-weather roads. -- PTI 
13:24  Pandya, Rahul likely to be suspended 'pending inquiry':  
Committee of Administrators member Diana Edulji Friday recommended "suspension till further action" against India players Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul after the BCCI legal team refused to declare their outrage-evoking comments on women a violation of the code of conduct.
 
Edulji had initially suggested a two-match suspension for the duo but referred the matter to the legal cell after CoA chief Vinod Rai agreed with her and recommended the same.
"It is imperative that players be put under suspension till further course of action is decided for this misconduct as was done in case of (BCCI) CEO (Rahul Johri) when he was sent on leave on sexual harassment matter," read Edulji's response to the legal opinion which is in possession of PTI.
 
"Based on legal opinion and final procedure is laid down to address this issue, will recommend that a communication is sent to concerned players and  team immediately," Edulji wrote in response to recommendations from the Board's legal firm Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas.
 
The legal firm made it clear that the cringe-worthy comments made by Pandya do not fall under the code of conduct ambit.
 
The copy of the legal opinion states: "We feel that present matter doesn't fall under the ambit of code of conduct and procedure of code of conduct can't be invoked in present circumstances."
 
The firm said the behaviour in question was neither a criticism of any match or against a player or support staff or match official.
 
"In any case the procedure set by the BCCI constitution will have primacy over procedure set out under code of conduct," it said. 
 
A senior BCCI official seconded Edulji's view and said that there should be suspension pending inquiry.
 
"It's not just about code of conduct but about bringing the institution to disrepute. Just understand that ICC had given maximum sanction of one Test ban to Steve Smith for ball tampering charges as per its code of conduct," he said. 
 
"But Cricket Australia banned them for one year for the disrepute they brought to the game. When you look at their crass comments, look at the larger picture," he added.
If they are suspended pending inquiry, the legal team has recommended the appointment of an ad hoc Ombudsman, which could well mean more trouble for the duo. -- PTI
13:21  Could the tiny ant be behind climate change?:  Everything, just about everything -- from eating meat to burning of fossil fuels to deforestation -- has been blamed for climate change, and now new research posits that a small guy, very small guy in fact, maybe behind the nightmare scenario that threatens the future of all life.   

Researchers have observed that leafcutter ants, which are seen throughout the Americas stripping leaves and marching toward their nests, create small underground garbage piles of leaves, which decompose and emit the greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide. The process is similar to what happens in landfills, reports Lauren Steussy in the New York Post.    

The report quotes a study published on Thursday in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences saying that leafcutter ants can cause the kind of spikes in nitrous oxide levels usually found in "wastewater treatment tanks or dairy cow manure lagoons.'  

'While the researchers didn't go so far as to say that ants are actually causing climate change, they found it compelling that nature's tiny creatures could manipulate their environment in such a powerful way,' reports Steussy, here.

Image used only for representational purpose
13:07  BM Khaitan to sell off Eveready?:  'The B M Khaitan-led Williamson Magor is selling its flagship Eveready Industries, a leader in dry cell batteries and flashlights,' report Udit Prasanna Mukherji and Boby Kurian in the Economic Times. The Khaitans are reviewing the Rs 1,500-crore business as part of a group-level rejig to pare debt, they report, here
13:02  TCS gets a new director:  India's largest IT services company Tata Consultancy Services Friday said in a press release that it has appointed Daniel Hughes Callahan as an additional and independent director, for a period of five years with effect from January 10, 2019. 

The appointment is based on the recommendations of the nomination and remuneration committee and is subject to approval of shareholders. 

"It gives me great pleasure to welcome Don Callahan to our board. Don's depth in the financial services industry and extensive experience in overseeing global technology and business operations will greatly benefit TCS," TCS Chairman N Chandrasekaran said. 

Callahan has broad experience in driving strategic change across large global organisations, and dealing with multiple stakeholders in local and national governments and regulatory bodies, the statement said. He was the chief administrative officer and head of operations and technology at Citigroup and was a member of Citi's operating committee until November 2018. 

Prior to joining Citi in 2007, he held senior level positions in IBM Japan, Morgan Stanley, and Credit Suisse.
12:54  India to send astronauts to space by December 2021: ISRO :  
India's target for sending astronauts to space is December 2021, the chief of ISRO said today. 

The ambitious Gaganyaan project by the space agency will help India become the fourth nation to independently send humans to space. 

"The initial training for Gaganyaan will be done in India and advanced training maybe in Russia. Women astronauts will be there on the team. That's our aim," Indian Space Research Organisation chairman chief K Sivan said. 

Last month, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had announced that three Indian astronauts will be sent to space for up to seven days by 2022 as part of Gaganyaan. The cabinet has cleared of Rs. 10,000 crore for the programme.

Sivan on Friday also announced that the launch of India's second Moon mission, Chandrayaan-2, has been planned for the middle of April this year.
   
ISRO had earlier said Chandrayaan-2 will be launched in a window between January-February 16 this year.
 
The mission, costing nearly Rs 800 crore, is an advanced version of the previous Chandrayaan-1 mission about 10 years ago.
 
"Regarding Chandrayaan-2 schedule, right now Chandrayaan is scheduled from March 25 to April end.  Most probably, the normal targeted date is April middle," Sivan told reporters here.
 
He said the space agency had earlier planned to launch the spacecraft sometime between January and February but it could not materialise because certain tests could not be conducted.
"Once we missed the February target, next available target is April. Right now it is planned for April," the ISRO chief added.  
12:29  SC closes case against Johnson and Johnson for faulty hip implants:  
The Supreme Court on Friday closed the case seeking action against United States-based pharma major Johnson and Johnson for implanting faulty hip implants into patients in New Delhi, saying that steps have been taken by the Centre to provide compensation upto Rs 1.22 crore to them.
   
A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice S K Kaul considered the response filed by the Union health ministry which said that a compensation scheme has been formulated by it to ensure proper compensation to the victims of faulty hip implants.
 
Disposing of the PIL filed by one Arun Goenka, the top court asked the Centre to widely publicise its compensation scheme to ensure that all the victims of such implants seek help for their grievances.
Earlier, the Centre had informed the apex court that the report of its panel on alleged "faulty" hip implants, made by the pharma major was ready and would be filed within a week.
 
The PIL had alleged that "faulty" and "deadly" hip implants have been fitted into the bodies of 4,525 Indian patients who had undergone the replacement surgeries since 2005. -- PTI  
12:17  If Trump and Kim can meet, why not others: Nepal on stalled SAARC summit:  
Nepal on Friday strongly pitched for convening of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation or SAARC summit, saying differences should be resolved through dialogue and the grouping should collectively deal with terrorism and other key challenges facing the region.
 
Nepalese foreign minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali also cited last year's historic talks between United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore, saying dialogue was the only way to address differences.
"If US President Trump and North Korea's Kim can meet, then why not (leaders of) other countries," he asked during an interaction with a group of foreign policy experts and reporters.
It is Pakistan's turn to host the summit. However, India, citing continued support to cross-border terrorism by Pakistan, has been maintaining that it is difficult to proceed with the summit.  
The 2016 SAARC summit was to be held in Islamabad. But after a deadly terrorist attack on an Indian Army camp in Jammu and Kashmir that year, India expressed its inability to participate in it. 
The summit was called off after Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan also declined to participate in the meet. Maldives and Sri Lanka are the seventh and eighth members of the grouping. 
"There is no alternative to sitting together and mitigating differences. The problems we (the region) are facing cannot be resolved alone. We need to put collective efforts to deal with various key challenges like climate change and terrorism," Gyawali said.
The Nepalese foreign minister, who held bilateral talks with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday, said his country has been raising the issue of the SAARC summit with India.
"I am hopeful the summit will be held soon," Gyawali said. 
SAARC summits are usually held biennially, hosted by a member state in alphabetical order. The member state hosting the summit assumes the chair of the Association. The last SAARC Summit in 2014 was held in Kathmandu, which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. -- PTI
11:56  Rajasthan shocker: Male nurse botches delivery, splits baby in half, leaves head in womb:  
A shocking dereliction of duty has come to light from a hospital in Ramgarh district of Rajasthan. 

A male nurse working at a government medical centre has 'decapitated a baby while pulling too hard during a difficult birth'.

The mother is said to be battling for her life after the unfortunate incident.

During the time of the delivery, the nurse pulled the foetus so carelessly that it resulted in splitting the body of the baby into two parts.

After the incident, the nurse along a colleague deposited the lower part of the foetus in the centre's mortuary and asked the family of the victim to take her to Jaisalmer for further treatment.

Another mistake, that the Ramgarh health centre committed was lying to the gynaecologist at Jodhpur Umaid hospital that they have finished the delivery. 

The Ramgarh's hospital staff left the placenta in the womb.

Later, a team of doctors headed by Dr Ravindra Sankhla operated the victim again and found that the foetus' head is in the womb. 

The doctors then informed the victim's kin about the incident.

Woman's husband has lodged a complaint against the Ramgarh hospital staff but the police is yet to arrest them. -- ANI
11:48  Srinagar-Jammu highway closed due to heavy snowfall:  The strategic Srinagar-Jammu national highway was closed on Friday due to heavy snowfall at Jawahar Tunnel.

The highway was open for one way traffic on Wednesday with vehicles moving from Srinagar to Jammu. 
11:47  Manmohan Singh 'shareef tha bechara', says Anupam Kher's mother :  
Anupam Kher's mother has praised Dr. Manmohan Singh after watching 'The Accidental Prime Minister', in which Kher has stepped into the shoes of the former PM.

The veteran actor shared a video on social media in which his mother, Dulari Kher, heaped praises on her son as well as the former prime minister.

When the A Wednesday star asked if she liked Singh, his mother repiled, "Manmohan Singh shareef tha bechara. Lagta tha door se shareef hai, tabhi log shareef ko bewakoof mante hain. Ye nahi pata wo bohot tez hote hain."

Praising his acting skills, Anupam's mother also said she could not believe it's her son and exclaimed, "What do you eat, I don't understand!"

She further stated, "I really liked the film and I am sure everyone will like it too."

Anupam Kher posted the video on Instagram with the caption, "Mother of all Reviews: Dulari Watched #TheAccidentalPrimeMinister and has given her review in a one minute video. Her first sentence was frightening. "Aise koi acting karta hai?" And she almost acted me out."

He added, "But what followed was a great endorsement for my performance. Her observation about #DrManmohanSingh is spot on. Her review is my ultimate reward. After all these years mom is relieved that I can act. Jai Mata di. #DulariRocks #DulariReviewsTAPM #FilmReleasesToday"

'The Accidental Prime Minister' is based on facts as chronicled in a book by Sanjaya Baru -- Manmohan Singh's media advisor between 2004 and 2008.

The film hits the big screens today. -- ANI 
11:21  1984 anti-Sikh riot culprits must be punished irrespective of identity: Rahul :  
"I am very clear on 1984 that anybody, regardless of where he comes from, if he has harmed members of the minority community, he should be punished," asserted Congress president Rahul Gandhi while speaking about alleged insecurities among minorities in the country.

In an exclusive interview to Gulf News, ahead of his maiden visit to UAE, the Gandhi scion said, "We will punish those who think that they can get away by crushing India. They should not be under the impression that they can crush the weak people. I am very clear on 1984 that anybody, regardless of where he comes from, if he has harmed members of the minority community, he should be punished. The legal system will make sure that the justice is done (in 1984 cases) and we will allow the justice system to work. The legal structure that we have, the laws that we have, are good enough to deal with the problems as long as institutions like the Supreme Court are free to do their work."

While talking about alliances for 2019 Lok Sabha election, Rahul exhumed confidence about party's ability in Uttar Pradesh and said that the Congress will surprise people in the state.

"Our first aim is to defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi. There are states where we are very strong and we are the primary party and are contesting the BJP directly. There are states where there are possible alliances -- Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, where we are working out an alliance formula. There are very interesting things that the Congress party can do in Uttar Pradesh... the Congress idea is very powerful for Uttar Pradesh. So, we are very confident of our ability in Uttar Pradesh and we will surprise people," said Rahul to the Gulf News editor, who came to Delhi for Rahul's interview.

The Congress president also said that work is in progress to bring opposition together in the Uttar Pradesh and added, "I have heard some statements in the media but we are going to work together and make sure that we defeat Prime Minister Modi. But, I just want to say again -- to underestimate the Congress in UP is a mistake."

Acknowledging the defeat of 2014 Lok Sabha election, Rahul also talked about having fatigue and arrogance in the party after being in power for ten years.

"You can understand that we were ten years in power and frankly there was a certain amount of fatigue, a little bit of arrogance built up and that harmed us," he said.

The Congress president also opined that party's model for 2019 is to bring people into the conversation and listen to what they are saying.

Accusing the government of destroying the institutional structure of India, Rahul also called for 'allowing them space' to function.
11:07  Congress leader Sushil Kumar Shinde compares Modi with Hitler:  
Training guns at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress leader Sushil Kumar Shinde on Thursday compared the former to German dictator Adolf Hitler.

Shinde, who has also served as the Union home minister during the United Progressive Alliance regime said, "Does he listen to anyone? He listens to himself. He sacked the CBI director at night, he imposed demonetisation. Isn't this dictatorship? Did he ask anyone? Did he ask the finance minister or the Reserve Bank of India governor? No, he just felt like it so he did it. It's exactly what dictatorship is."

Talking further about an incident from Solapur Concerning Congress workers, he added, "What else is he (Prime Minister) if not Hitler? Demonstrations have always been held in a democracy but it's a first where it (Congress workers allegedly thrashed by police in Solapur) was done after instructing police. He works like Putin (Russian Pres). He's a dictator."

Earlier, Shinder had accused the Prime Minister of not giving due credit to the Constitution and democratic system of the country for making it possible for a tea seller to become the prime minister.

Shinde had said, "You have heard countless times how a tea seller became the prime minister. But please take note that our prime minister rarely gives credit to our democratic system or the Constitution that has made this possible." -- ANI

Photograph: Vijay Verma/PTI Photo/
10:42  Brother of slain Indian-origin cop supports Trump on border security:  
Reggie Singh, the brother of Indian-origin policeman Ronil "Ron" Singh killed in California and described a national hero by Donald Trump, has said he supported the United States president's efforts on border security so that others do not experience what his family has been going through since the incident.
Corporal Ronil Singh, 33, of the Newman Police Department was shot and killed during a traffic stop on December 26 allegedly by an illegal immigrant.
During a visit to the southern border state Texas on Thursday to push for his controversial US-Mexico border wall plan, Trump attended a border patrol roundtable at McAllen, where Reggie Singh was seated next to the president.
There the US president said, "I watched a family right around Christmas time... suffer and I'd like to ask Reggie, maybe you could say a few words about your incredible brother, the job he was doing. He was so beloved by the people of the department and beyond the department."
To this, Reggie Singh told the president, "The way he (Ronil Singh) was killed, what my family is going through right now, I do not want any other family, law enforcement person to go through that."
"Whatever it takes to minimize... put a stop to it, my family fully supports it," Reggie Singh said.
In the last few days, Trump has made it a point to mention the killing of Ronil Singh by an illegal immigrant to build a strong case in favour of a stronger border security to prevent entry of illegal immigrants.
"We are deeply moved to have with us Reggie Singh, whose brother, Ronil Singh, incredible guy. I mean, I watched, and I've rarely felt worse and watching news of our nation than watching your family and the love that you have for your brother," Trump said.
During the roundtable meeting, Reggie Singh said he and his brother are originally from Fiji.
"He (Ronil) always wanted to be in law enforcement. So legally we migrated to America to fulfil his dream of joining the law enforcement, he said.
"English is our second language. He worked on that, got his education, applied for law enforcement agency and he was asked to get his citizenship. He worked towards that and he became a cop, K-9, Corporal K-9," Reggie Singh said.
"At 33, Ronil Singh was cremated and I had to pick up his remains. It breaks my heart and no one should ever go through that. Seeing a five-month-old baby looking for his dad, no one should ever go through that on Christmas Day," he told Trump.
The president replied, "We are with you. You know that, right."
"That was a tough one, too. That was a tough one for a lot of people, not only the family, for a lot of people in this country. That was a tough thing to watch," Trump said.
"I can see that, the way it came through. It came through loud and clear. And there are so many other people who have the same -- nobody covers them..., nobody talks about how unfair it is to the victims of these brutal killings," he said. -- PTI
09:59  Akhilesh, Mayawati may announce alliance for Lok Sabha poll tomorrow:  
Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati will address a joint press meet in Lucknow on Saturday amid talks of seat sharing for Lok Sabha polls.
   
This was announced Friday by SP national secretary Rajendra Chaudhary and Bahujan Samaj Party national general secretary SC Misra.
 
The top leadership of both the parties met in New Delhi recently to discuss broad parameters of an alliance to take on the BJP unitedly in the Lok Sabha elections. -- PTI  
09:57  Security beefed up in Haryana, Punjab ahead of murder trial verdict against Gurmeet Ram Rahim:  
A special Central Bureau of Investigation court in Panchkula will likely to pronounce verdict in a journalist's murder case, allegedly involving jailed Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

Gurmeet Ram Rahim is accused of orchestrating the killing of Ramchandra Chhatrapati, a Sirsa-based journalist, for openly criticising the Dera chief in his newspaper Poora Sach.

The Dera chief is currently serving a 20-year prison term in Rohtak's Sunaria jail for raping two of his women followers.

Ahead of the verdict, elaborate security arrangements have been made in Haryana and parts of Punjab. 

Several companies of the state armed police, anti-riot police and commando force have been deployed to combat any untoward situation.

Rohtak's deputy duperintendent of police Tahir Hussain said: "We have heightened the security of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh ahead the verdict. We have established four more police posts, five patrolling parties around the jail, PCRs and three more inspectors have been put on the duty."

On 25 August 2017, 41 lives were claimed and scores of people were injured after violence erupted in Panchkula and other towns of Haryana following the conviction of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. -- ANI
09:38  Rahul Gandhi in UAE, to interact with Indian community today:  
Congress President Rahul Gandhi who will interact with the Indian overseas and student communities during his maiden visit to the UAE was accorded a warm welcome by the Indian diaspora at the Dubai airport on Thursday, the party said.
 
He is also set to meet some UAE ministers during his two-day visit to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the Khaleej Times reported.
Gandhi, who will begin his tour on Friday, reached Dubai on Thursday evening.
"CP @RahulGandhi will be on a two-day tour in Dubai from tomorrow. He will be interacting with the Indian overseas community and the student community," the Congress Party tweeted Thursday.
Gandhi had also previously addressed such public gatherings in the US, London, Germany and Bahrain. 
"Indians from across Dubai gather at the airport to greet Congress President @RahulGandhi with warmth & love ahead of his two day tour in UAE," the party tweeted. 
The Congress President would also be the "official chief guest" at the 'Indo-Arab cultural programme' at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on January 11. The programme would also celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. -- PTI  
09:09  Don't align with those views: Kohli on Pandya's sexist remarks:  
Indian skipper Virat Kohli broke his silence on the ongoing controversy involving KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya over their sexist comments on a talk show, Koffee with Karan. 

Reacting to the comments made by the duo, Kohli said that Indian team cricketers don't align with that views and those were the opinions of the players (Pandya and Rahul).

On the eve of the first ODI against Australia in Sydney, Kohli said," We as the Indian cricket team and responsible cricketers don't align with those views, those were individual opinions. We are still waiting for a decision to be made."

"From the Indian cricket team's point of view, this changes nothing in our beliefs in the change room, it does nothing to the spirit we have have been able to create. Combinations will have to be thought of once the decision comes out," he added. 

Pandya, along with teammate KL Rahul, face potential suspension from the BCCI for their controversial comments on women on the chat show Koffee With Karan.
08:53  Andy Murray announces retirement, eyes Wimbledon as last event :  
Britain's Andy Murray says he plans to retire after this year's Wimbledon but fears next week's Australian Open could be the final tournament of his career.

The three-time Grand Slam winner, who is struggling to recover from hip surgery, was in tears as he spoke to journalists in Melbourne on Friday.

"I'm not sure I'm able to play through the pain for another four or five months," Murray said .

"I want to get to Wimbledon and stop but I'm not certain I can do that."

31-year-old Murray says he still intends to play his Australian Open first-round match against Spanish 22nd seed Roberto Bautista Agut next week.

The former world number one had surgery on his right hip last January and has played 14 matches since returning to the sport last June.
08:37  Transferred on basis of false and frivolous charges: Alok Verma:  
Alok Verma, who has been removed from the post of Central Burau of Investigation director unceremoniously by a high-powered selection committee, has claimed that he was transferred on the basis of "false, unsubstantiated and frivolous allegations" made by only one person who was inimical to him.
 
The high-powered committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi removed Verma from the post on Thursday on charges of corruption and dereliction of duty.
Breaking his silence over the issue, Verma, in a statement on Thursday night, said the CBI being a prime investigating agency dealing in corruption in high public places is an institution whose independence should be preserved and protected.
"It must function without external influences. I have tried to uphold the integrity of the institution while attempts were being made to destroy it. The same can be seen from the orders of the central government and the CVC dated October 23, 2018, which were without jurisdiction and were set aside," he said.
Verma termed it "sad" that he was transferred to another post pursuant to the orders of the committee on the basis of "false, unsubstantiated and frivolous allegations made by only one person, who was inimical to him".
The 1979-batch IPS officer has been posted as the Director General Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guards, under the Union home ministry. 

The charge of the CBI has been given to Additional Director M Nageshwar Rao, said a government order issued on Thursday.
Headed by the prime minister, the high-powered committee comprised Leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and Justice A K Sikri, appointed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi as his nominee.
Verma said the committee was assigned the task of deciding his future course of action as the director of the CBI.
"I have stood up for the integrity of the institution, and if asked will do it again in order to uphold the rule of law," he said.
Verma had resumed duty as CBI director on Wednesday, a day after the apex court paved his return with some riders and asked the three-member panel that selects the CBI chief to decide on his continuance in a week in the light of charges against him in the report of the Central Vigilance Commission. -- PTI
00:11  Trump cancels trip to Davos amid standoff over shutdown:  
US President Donald Trump announced on Twitter he will not be attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is likely to lead the Trump administration's delegation to the forum in Davos even if the government remains closed when the conference starts later this month, according to senior administration officials.

However, Mnuchin will likely lead a smaller-than-expected group of administration officials to Switzerland if a large chunk of the government remains closed, the officials said, declining to be identified. The forum is scheduled for January 22 to 25.

Trump told reporters Thursday he planned to go to Davos but would stay home if the shutdown continued

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