Modi eyes Japanese investments in his ‘smart cities’ plan

Narendra_ModiNEW DELHI:Prime Minister Narendra Modi is hoping to seal several bilateral agreements during his visit to Japan from August 31 to September 3.

According to diplomatic sources, these will include infrastructural investment for the government’s “smart cities” initiative, with Japan proposing project development agreements on high-speed railways, more industrial corridors, and road-links and rail-links through the north-eastern States to ASEAN countries as well. Continue reading


Cash rich Indian Premier League hurting cricket quality

indiacricketLONDON: Former English skipper Michael Vaughan feels the young Indian players must come out of the cash-rich Indian Premier League’s (IPL) shadow and play county cricket.

“The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has some tough calls to make. My main recommendation is to get their players to play county cricket,” Vaughan wrote in his column for ‘Daily Telegraph’ here. Continue reading


Allow use of Tamil in Madras High Court

tarunNEW DELHI: BJP’s Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament, Tarun Vijay on Monday urged the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee to request the Centre to take immediate steps for declaring Tamil for use as a language of the Madras High Court for passing orders and judgments.

It might be recalled that Tamil Nadu government had passed a resolution that Tamil should be made court language in the High Court. Continue reading


Sweeping changes in judiciary during Modi tenure

indiacourtNEW DELHI: The National Judicial Appointments Commission brought in by the NDA government could be appointing 21 judges to the Supreme Court during Narendra Modi’s tenure. That makes up 68% of the total strength of 31 judges in the apex court.

Given the corresponding 759 possible vacancies that may arise in the 24 high courts across the country till May 2019, the new NJAC could be involved in selection of 80 per cent of those judges, including chief justices of almost all the high courts, over five years. Continue reading


India needs internal change, social reform not messiahs

modi2COMMENT, NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi made his first Independence Day speech this week, and he showed again what a terrific orator he is.

He has, particularly in Gujarati and Hindi, the ability to use conversational and everyday language in formal speech. He is a better communicator than any leader we have had for a very long time in national politics. Continue reading


Move to document 600 tribes, rewrite history based on Puranas

RSS-websiteNEW DELHI:As part of grand preparations for its centenary in 2025, the RSS is working on writing a version of Indian history based on the Puranas. The 10-year project has been dubbed ‘Puranantargat Itihaas’.

The Sangh is also planning to put together the history of each one of the over 670 districts in the country, as well as the history of the over 600 tribal communities in India. Continue reading


Imran ready for ‘final match’ with Sharif

Imran-KhanISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s opposition leader Imran Khan on Sunday said he along with thousands of his supporters is ready for a “final match” against Nawaz Sharif who was involved in an “electoral match-fixing”, after cleric Tahirul Qadri issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the embattled Prime Minister to resign.

Khan, who led Pakistan to the World Cup victory in 1992, warned the PML-N government that his supporters could enter the high-security Red Zone in Islamabad if Sharif, who has been in power for over an year, refuses to quit. Continue reading


Modi will not be addressing US Congress in Sept

modisWASHINGTON: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not be addressing the US Congress when he comes calling September end for a summit with President Barack Obama.

With lawmakers keen to get away from Washington ahead of the November Congressional elections, the Republican Speaker of the US House of Representatives, John Boehner has sent a “welcome but” invitation to Modi. Continue reading


Gush of overseas capital flooding India’s e-commerce industry

Indian-e-commerce-marketMUMBAI: Finding a way into India’s vast but vexing market has long frustrated foreign retailers. Now, overseas investors are pouring billions of dollars into e-commerce ventures that are circumventing the barriers holding back retail powers such as Wal-Mart and Ikea.

Some investors see India as the world’s next big e-commerce opportunity, with the upcoming mammoth public stock offering of Chinese online giant Alibaba hinting at the potential. Continue reading


999 Little Krishnas march to promote ‘Save Water’ campaign

KRISHNASCHENNAI: On Wednesday 999 children dressed as little Krishnas marched in a rally to highlight the need to conserve water, at Velammal Gardens.

The little Krishnas marched from Vinai Theertha Vinayagar temple in T S Krishna Nagar, Mogappair to Velammal School holding placards that read ‘Water is wealth, it is time to save’ and ‘Let’s save the earth and conserve water for we may have nothing tomorrow’. Continue reading


Special Q system for Sabarimala pilgrims

CrowdTHIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Special queue system will be put in place in Sabarimala for women, children, handicapped and senior citizens during the annual pilgrimage season.

A high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy here on Wednesday also decided to make pilgrim-friendly arrangements for prasadam coupon distribution, Devaswom Minister V S Sivakumar said in a statement. Continue reading


Islamabad hits back at Modi’s ‘proxy-war’ allegations

modi2ISLAMABAD: A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused it of indulging in a proxy war against India, Pakistan on Wednesday hit back by dubbing it as “baseless rhetoric” and said both countries should focus on resolving issues instead of engaging in blame game.

“The press reports of Indian accusations, at the highest political level, are most unfortunate, especially as the leadership of Pakistan wishes to establish good neighbourly relations with India,” Pakistan Foreign Office Spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said. Continue reading


Nawaz Shariff fearing chaos moves to hear Imran’s accusations

Imran-KhanISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s civilian government failed on Tuesday to persuade opposition leader Imran Khan to ditch plans to march on the capital in protest against alleged ballot rigging in last year’s general election.

Khan, a cricketer-turned-reformist politician who wants the government to resign and new elections to be held, plans to lead the mass demonstration from the eastern city of Lahore to the capital Islamabad on Thursday. Continue reading


Kabadi sport keeping players worldwide happy and wealthy

kabadiBIRMINGHAM:They are the quintessential small-town boys coming from humble households, whether India or elsewhere, but players participating in the ongoing Wave World Kabaddi League have gone on to become a globe-trotting bunch earning good money from their freelance assignments all over the world.

Flashing wide grins and bank balances which can rival big-time corporate earners, the kabaddi players (photo left) are a happy lot and don’t have any stories of struggle or hardship to talk about. Continue reading


Slide of the Congress and the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty

Congress party vice-president Rahul speaks to the media as his mother and chief of Congress Sonia looks on during a news conference in New DelhiNEW DELHI: The Indian National Congress suffered a historic defeat in the 2014 parliamentary election. For more than three quarters of a century it occupied a dominant position in Indian politics. But this has changed significantly; the Congress managed to win just 44 of 543 Lok Sabha seats.

It is now without a strong base anywhere, having been completely wiped out in Andhra Pradesh, weakened in Karnataka, defeated in Maharashtra, marginalised in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, and has drawn a near blank in most key States across the Hindi heartland. Continue reading


Engineering courses top choice among poor Dalits

dalitsCHENNAI: More and more poor Dalit students are joining engineering courses. This trend has become highly perceptible in the last couple of years, particularly after the State government decided, through an order issued in January 2012, to relax norms under the post-matric scholarship scheme, which covers students admitted to any undergraduate or postgraduate course, both under free quota and management quota. Continue reading


Tamil Nadu aims to get tough with new ‘Goondas Act’

bootlegCHENNAI: Heralding sweeping changes to the law on preventive detention, the Tamil Nadu government on Monday introduced a bill in the State Assembly that will allow the authorities to detain suspects in prison for a year even when only a single offence has been committed.

By other amendments, the government also aims to bring in all cyber-crimes and sexual offences within the ambit of the State’s stringent 1982 preventive detention law, called popularly as the Goondas Act. Continue reading


Appointment of judges: Modi govt ‘forced’ to seek more views

judgesNEW DELHI: The Narendra Modi Government has decided to hold wider consultations on bringing Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) that proposes to scrap the collegium system of appointment of judges.

Sources stated that the National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2014, was discussed on Wednesday at the meeting of the Union Cabinet which has given its “in-principle” approval to the measure. Continue reading


US: India will shape ‘new world order’

ChuckHagelNEW DELHI: Describing India as one of the most significant countries in the world, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has said the world’s largest democracy will help shape a “new world order” that is emerging in this century.

“When you look at the world today, and you’re all quite familiar with this, that India not only represents one of the most significant countries by any measurement in the world today, but will help shape a new world order that is emerging in this young century,” Hagel told reporters travelling with him to India. Continue reading


Silent Modi fuels eerie stillness in BJP

modi and amitCOMMENT, NEW DELHI: There are times when analysis is not needed; silence says it all. The air is still, as on a moisture-laden day. There is little expectation of rain, for it hasn’t rained even when the clouds have dutifully lined up.

Yes, it is the suffocating stillness after the noisy Lok Sabha election — in which Narendra Modi did all the talking, so much talking — which is the worry. Continue reading


Ratan Tata sees boom in e-commerce

ratan_tataKOLKATA: Asserting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a proven track record, Tata Sons chairman emeritus Ratan Tata Wednesday said the new government should be given more time to turn around the country’s economy.

Participating at an interactive programme here, Tata said he was hopeful of Modi making the economy growth–oriented, despite it being a huge task. Continue reading


1950 India-Nepal treaty: Modi is open to full review

modi-koiralaCOMMENT, NEW DELHI: The intimacy and intensity of the relationship between the people of Nepal and India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggested in his speech to the Constituent Assembly in Kathmandu, can’t be measured by “pieces of paper” signed by the governments of the two countries.

The PM’s reference to “pieces of paper” was not a rhetorical device. It referred to the 1950 “India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship” between the two governments, which is supposed to codify the special relationship between the two countries. Continue reading


PPP drive welcome but tweaking contracts not enough

roadworksNEW DELHI: India’s new government is betting on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to replicate his relative success with regional infrastructure projects to ensure fewer public-private partnerships (PPP) stall for want of land.

The government wants private companies to contribute half of a US$1 trillion investment target over five years to 2017 to alleviate clogged-up roads and end electricity blackouts. Continue reading


Modi wows Nepali hearts

modihinduKATHMANDU: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech in Parliament has won millions of Nepali hearts, said local daily, eKantipur, on Monday.

Modi’s address (video below) was the first by a foreign head of state/government to Nepal’s parliament after 1990 and he “won millions of Nepali hearts with his speech that he began in Nepali and continued in Hindi later”. Continue reading


Move to ensure Indian values are taught to schoolchildren

Batra India booksNEW DELHI: Dinanath Batra seems to be a man with a mission: he is in a hurry to “Indianise” education.

The convenor of the Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti has set up the Non-Governmental Education Commission as part of his programme, enlisting the support of educationists sympathetic to the Hindutva political project. Continue reading


Understand challenges of poverty and food, Modi tells US

modi_kerryNEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi told visiting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday that food security concerns of the poorest of the poor had to move in tandem with trade reform measures.

Modi’s comments came after a US State Department official said, “Failure to sign the Trade Facilitation Agreement [in Geneva] sent a confusing signal and undermined the very image Prime Minister Modi is trying to send about India.” Continue reading


Spying on India is not acceptable, Mr Kerry

John KerryNEW DELHI: In India’s strongest statement on the issue yet, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called the U.S. surveillance of Indian entities “unacceptable”, and said she had taken up the issue of “snooping” by the National Security Agency (NSA) with Secretary of State John Kerry during the India-US strategic dialogue here on Thursday.

“I did raise the snooping issue with Mr. Kerry,” Swaraj told presspersons at a joint press conference. Continue reading


South India must not become hub for human trafficking

boat-peopleCHENNAI: Reiterating that Australia was firm on not allowing illegal immigration, Australian High Commissioner to India Patrick Suckling cautioned that South India should not be allowed to become a hub for “people smuggling.”

“If people smuggling gets entrenched in India, it will lead to other forms of crime relating to narcotics and terrorism. Australia and India have a shared interest in ensuring that this does not happen,” said Suckling, on Thursday. Continue reading


Pakistan squeezing out minorities with its intolerance

pakistanCOMMENT: The latest incident should be viewed as part of a tragic pattern that has evolved over decades. Ironically, the intolerance that is now widely associated with Pakistan had little to do with its founder’s vision of a country where “in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.”

The Ahmadis consider themselves Muslim but their beliefs are deemed by the orthodox as falling outside the tenets of Islam. Continue reading

Sonia Gandhi to tell ‘truth’ in her book

sonia-gandhiNEW DELHI: Hitting back at former Foreign Minister Natwar Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said on Thursday that she would write her own book which would reveal the “truth”.

“I will write my own book and then you will come to know everything. The only way truth will come out is if I write. I am serious about it and I will be writing,” Sonia told mediapersons at Parliament. Continue reading


John Kerry in India to rekindle ‘potentially transformative’ ties

KerryNEW DELHI: US secretary of state John Kerry flew into New Delhi on Wednesday evening  on a mission to break the ice with new Prime Minister Narendra Modi and repair a rut in a once warm relationship.

For the past two decades, the world’s two largest democracies have described themselves as natural allies as they share similar concerns over China’s rise and Islamic extremism. Continue reading


Is Rajapakse Sri Lanka’s Modi?

rajapakseCOMMENT, COLOMBO: It is a measure of Sri Lanka’s return to “normal” democratic politics that conspiracy theories are once again resonating in Colombo.

Compared to the situation just three years ago when “politics” continued to centre on the 30-year-long bloody civil war that mercifully came to an end in May 2009, the sub-text of political discussions today is the presidential election, due some time in early-2015. Continue reading


Peace needs private sector support, social and political will

peaceCOMMENT, NEW DELHI: Over the last fortnight, we have had a ground attack on Palestine killing over 1,000 people, a Malaysia airlines plane being shot down, in which more than 300 died, and ISIS declared Iraq’s dwindling Christian population to convert, pay tax, or die.

The numbers of the World Bank estimation of 1.5 billion people around the world living in conflict countries which means one out of seven people live in conflict just got escalated even more. Continue reading


Media blitz to draw investors to India

fdi-investmentNEW DELHI: The Commerce and Industry Ministry is planning a media blitz — print, electronic and social — to hard sell India as an attractive investment destination.

“The objective of the campaign is to generate awareness about the investment opportunities and prospects of the country to promote India as a preferred investment destination in the source markets overseas and to increase Indias share of global FDI,” said a DIPP notice inviting request for qualification-cum-request for proposal. Continue reading


Will Modi’s Nepal visit see an upswing in ‘do-able’ issues?

modiNEPAL-INDIACOMMENT NEW DELHI: Although India and Nepal have shared cordial and friendly ties without much tensions, there was a perception in Kathmandu that New Delhi no longer took the Himalayan country seriously.

According to many observers in Nepal, this was evident from the one-way, high-level political visits from the Nepalese side during the last decade, which mostly went unreciprocated from the Indian side. Continue reading


Biotech, GM crops: India agriculture’s delimma?

biotechCOMMENT, NEW DELHI: A quirky anthropologist once exclaimed: “Biotechnology is sheer drama.” He explained his cryptic headline by saying all great contemporary philosophical and ethical debates intersect around it.

He added that the city might be the basis for the 21st century imagination but it is the fate of Indian agriculture that would trigger some of the great dilemmas of the century. Continue reading


India e-commerce retailer raises US$1 billion from investors

flipkart+letsbuyBANGALORE: India’s leading e-commerce retailer Flipkart announced on Tuesday that it has raised funds worth US$1 billion (over Rs.6,000 crore), the largest-ever by an Indian Internet company.

In a tightly competitive market, Flipkart has been going aggressive on fund-raising, just having raised US$210 million as recently as May this year. Continue reading


PG students, house surgeons strike for better wages in Tamil Nadu

pgstudentsstrikeCHENNAI: Service in government hospitals were affected as hundreds of postgraduate medical students and house-surgeons across the State launched an indefinite strike on Monday demanding a hike in their stipend.

The non-service postgraduate students and students on compulsory rotatory residential internship are striking under the banner Interns and Postgraduate Association of Tamil Nadu. Continue reading