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Sri Lanka’s ruling UPFA in tight race with UNP

mahinda-rajapaksaCOLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), led by President Mahinda Rajpaksa, won Saturday’s provincial polls in the Sinhala-majority Uva Province by a narrow margin, signalling an apparent setback to the ruling alliance despite the victory.

The alliance secured 19 seats, including two bonus seats, six less compared to the 25 it held in its last term. Continue reading

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Dalai Lama: Xi can learn much from India

dalailamamodiMUMBAI: Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama on Thursday linked India’s border issues with China to “Tibetan problem” and said a solution can come only through talks and not by force.

The comments came on a day when Chinese President XiJinping held bilateral talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi even as Chinese and Indian armies are in a standoff at Chumarvillage, located more than 300 kms Northeast of Leh and bordering Himachal Pradesh, along the Line of Actual Control. Continue reading

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Modi raises border issues, Xi says it won’t impact bilateral ties

modixiNEW DELHI: Amid reports of incidents along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the border issue took centrestage at the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday.

Significantly, as Modi sought clear “clarification” on the LAC, Xi assured that Beijing has the “determination” to work with New Delhi through “friendly consultation” to settle the dispute at an early date. Continue reading

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Pakistan turmoil: Zia’s army and ‘useful idiots’

Imran-KhanCOMMENT, NEW DELHI: Usually attributed to Lenin, the term “useful idiot” refers to an individual or political activist who has been used to provide propaganda ammunition for a cause he does not entirely understand.

Given the street tumult in Islamabad, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that Imran Khan, Pakistan’s most iconic cricket captain, has now become its most iconic useful idiot. Continue reading

Waterborne diseases threaten Kashmiris

floodskashmirKASHMIR: Emergency workers battled on Monday to prevent waterborne diseases from spreading, as fetid water swilled around the Kashmir valley more than a week after the region’s worst flooding in more than a century.

More than 75,000 people were still stuck in partly submerged homes in Srinagar, where roads have been transformed into stagnant canals strewn with sewage, wreckage and dead livestock. Continue reading

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Hindus no longer tolerant?

fali narimanNEW DELHI: Hinduism is losing its traditional tolerance because some Hindus have started believing that it is their faith that has brought them political power — and because this belief is not being challenged by “those at the top”, Fali S Nariman, one of India’s most celebrated jurists, said on Friday.

Nariman said he agreed that the “majority government at the Centre” had done nothing to stop the recent repeated tirades by individuals or groups against members of minority communities. Continue reading

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Bihar leads in state GDP, Tamil Nadu lags far behind

BiharGDPNEW DELHI: Bihar is the fastest growing State while Tamil Nadu is the worst performer, the latest data released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) has revealed.

Bihar’s Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) grew 10.73% during 2012-13 — the only State that clocked a double-digit growth rate during the year. The growth rate was 10.29% in 2011-12 and 15.03% in 2010-11. Continue reading

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Jammu Kashmir worst ever floods linked to climate change

floodsNEW DELHI: The worst floods in Jammu and Kashmir in the past 60 years and the subsequent devastation are due to a combination of unprecedented and intense rain, mismanagement, unplanned urbanisation and a lack of preparedness, Sunita Narain, director-general, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), said on Wednesday.

A CSE analysis showed the floods were a manifestation of an extreme weather event linked to climate change. Narain said the changing rainfall pattern in India was part of extreme events which followed a trend. She called for a national action plan to forecast floods. Continue reading

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LGBT rights: Uncomfortable Modi govt questions landmark SC ruling

lgbtNEW DELHI: In a precarious position over its stand on the LGBT community, the NDA government has moved the Supreme Court, raising several objections against the historic April 15 judgment that granted constitutional recognition to transgenders as a third gender and gave them the right to have a family.

The Narendra Modi government has sought clarifications, besides questioning the “political” and “practical” ramifications of the judgment, which put personal autonomy and right of choice on par with human dignity. Continue reading

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Woman MLA rides bike, carries dagger, campaigns against love jihad

ushaBHOPAL: Though she occasionally rides an old Kawasaki bike and always sports a kataar (dagger) gifted by the family members of freedom fighter Bhagat Singh more than two decades ago, BJP legislator from Indore Usha Thakur rarely comes across as a fierce nationalist.

‘Didi’ to all her supporters, the 48-year-old BJP leader has caught the nation’s eye with her prescription to control ‘love jihad’ by keeping Muslim men off garba venues. Continue reading

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Modi-Xi meet to send ‘signal’ to the world

modi-xiBEIJING: India on Tuesday raised hopes of resolving the border dispute with China with visiting National Security Adviser Ajit Doval asserting that the strong leadership in New Delhi and Beijing were capable of achieving a breakthrough.

On a visit here ahead of President Xi Jinping’s maiden trip to New Delhi, Doval told the Indian media that ties between the two nations were poised for an “orbital jump.” Continue reading

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Obama awaits once-rejected now acceptable Modi

modiobamaNEW DELHI:Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet US President Barack Obama at the White House on September 29-30, during which the two leaders would discuss a wide range of issues of mutual interest to expand and deepen the US-India strategic partnership.

The fact that the meeting will be spread over two days reflects the importance the US attaches to bilateral ties, a top official said, news agency reports from Washington said. Continue reading

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Race, colour, features matter in India, blame Bollywood

bollywoodCOMMENT, NEW DELHI: Why was Malaysian-born actress Michelle Yeoh chosen to play Aung San Suu Kyi in the latter’s biopic “The Lady,” Morgan Freeman chosen to play Nelson Mandela in “Invictus,” but Priyanka Chopra chosen to play Mary Kom in the biopic on the Manipuri boxer in a country which is ostensibly proud of its diversity?

Let’s not pretend to be politically correct here. The answer is simple: an oriental face is not acceptable to the general public of this multicultural India. Continue reading

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Love Jihad, is it for real?

lovejihadCOMMENT: While those in India are grappling with the idea of “love jihad”, in the UK the popular press is now obsessed with jihadi brides. These are young “radicalised” British Muslim girls who have actually gone to Syria to marry men from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and are obsessed with martyrdom.

This growing trend is now being researched at King’s College London at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation. Out of 200 women who are suspected ISIS recruits, around 21 are being specifically tracked. Continue reading

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62,000 toilets in Andhra Pradesh by 2019

toiletsVISAKAPATNAM: Every household in Andhra Pradesh will have access to Individual House Hold Latrine (IHHL) by 2019, said Minister for Panchayat Raj, Rural Water Supply Ch. Ayanna Patrudu.

The Andhra Pradesh government has set an ambitious target of completing 62 lakh IHHLs by the year 2019 as part of Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA), the flagship programme of the Central government, the Minister said addressing a programme to launch the IHHL project at Sattenapalli here on Sunday. Continue reading

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2-child rule exacerbates bias against girls in India

girlsNEW DELHI: India’s attempt at a China-type population control policy appears to have had drastic but unintended consequences. Laws enacted by State governments in the late 1990s and 2000s restricting political eligibility to candidates with two or less children did reduce family sizes in those States, but severely affected the sex ratio, a new research has found.

Over the period, 11 Indian States passed laws disqualifying persons with more than two children from contesting panchayat elections. Continue reading

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Jammu, Kashmir floods declared a national disaster

floodsJAMMU KASHMIR: The flood situation in Jammu and Kashmir was declared a “national-level disaster” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday even as the Army alone evacuated 15,000 people from inundated areas across the State.

As more personnel of the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF), Air Force and Army were pressed into action, the Prime Minister asked other States to also pitch in. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh made a separate appeal to NGOs to mobilise their resources to help deal with the situation. Continue reading

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Has Sharif bowed to Pakistan army?

Raheel_sharif_NEW DELHI: Keeping a close watch on the developments in Pakistan, Indian intelligence agencies, particularly the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), are not ruling out the possibility of a “secret deal” being struck between Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif.

Sources said that there were indications that Sharif has succumbed to pressure from the Pakistani Army and has decided to let it have the final say on security-related issues. Continue reading

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College students must learn ‘true’ India history

vekat naiduNEW DELHI; Union minister for urban development and parliamentary affairs M. Venkaiah Naidu college students across the country, including those studying engineering, medical, law, arts and science to also learn more about Indian freedom fighters Veerapandiya Kattabomman and Jhansi Rani than British Robert Clive.

“In the name of history, we have been learning only about the British and what the British wrote about us. I learnt about Robert Clive being a great man in my college days, but, in reality, he was a big ‘looter’. Continue reading

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Modi magic holds millions of students spellbound

modi-with-peopleNEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s programme on the occasion of Teacher’s Day, was telecast live in several schools across the country on Friday afternoon. Ahead of the PM’s speech (video attached), students made some presentations and speeches. Around 12 million students from around the country were connected via video conferencing with the PM.  Here are the highlights: Continue reading

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Abbot: We are happy to trust India with our uranium

tony-abbottNEW DELHI: Seven years after the then Australian Prime Minister John Howard decided to sell uranium to India, a non-signatory of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, New Delhi and Canberra signed the civilian nuclear cooperation agreement on Friday, with Howard’s successor Tony Abbott saying that Australia “trusts India” with its uranium. Continue reading

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Australia returns allegedly stolen idols of Shiva

stolenidolsNEW DELHI: Australia’s prime minister will on Friday hand back to his Indian counterpart two statues allegedly looted from ancient temples, ending a long-running battle over the pieces, his office said.

Tony Abbott will return the sculptures during his meeting with Narendra Modi in New Delhi, following allegations the pieces, which had been displayed in Australian galleries, were part of an audacious art fraud. Continue reading

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77% of teen girls in India subject to sexual violence

teensNEW DELHI: About 77% of girls aged between 15 and 19 in India have been subjected to sexual violence by their spouses, according to a report by UNICEF which said more than half of the girls in the age group faced physical abuse at the hands of their parents.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report titled “Hidden in plain sight” said violence against children is so prevalent and deeply ingrained in societies that it is often unseen and accepted as the norm. Continue reading

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Abbot-Modi to ink nuke fuel deal

moditonyNEW DELHI: Australia’s prime minister is due to sign a deal Friday allowing nuclear fuel exports to energy-hungry India, as he meets the country’s new premier on a visit to boost economic ties.

Tony Abbott, who flew into New Delhi late on Thursday after meeting business leaders in Mumbai, said the long-awaited agreement was a sign of “mutual trust” after a long-standing ban on uranium sales to India was lifted in 2012. Continue reading

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Modi ‘encouraging, giving opportunities to young talents’

vekat naiduNEW DELHI:Prime Minister Narendra Modi is “encouraging young talent” in Parliament and acts in the “most democratic manner” while taking decisions, government said on Thursday dismissing criticism of his functioning by the Opposition.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu rejected allegations that there was centralisation of power in the hands of the Prime Minister and that he was “terrorising” the bureaucracy, saying it was mere “propaganda” by a “direction-less” Opposition. Continue reading

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Rahul’s boys want seniors to cut the public criticism

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: There’s resentment brewing in a section of the young leaders of the Congress considered loyal to party vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday came out in the open with many of them publicly asking the “seniors” not to cross the “Lakshman Rekha” of discipline.

They asked the seniors not to weaken the party through their public criticism of the leadership at a time when it is facing the difficult task of winning back the trust and confidence of the people. Continue reading

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India-Japan to establish security framework

japanKYOTO: India and Japan are likely to agree to launch a “two-plus-two” security consultative framework involving their foreign and defence ministers during crucial summit talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe here on Monday.

Modi flew to Tokyo on Sunday evening after an overnight stay in the historic city of Kyoto, where he visited two ancient Buddhist temples, with Abe accompanying him in a significant gesture. Continue reading

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Modi looks to turn Benares into ‘heritage city’ like Kyoto

tojiKYOTO: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday received a presentation from Kyoto Mayor Daisaka Kadokawa on how the ancient tradition of Japan’s cultural capital has been preserved while building it into a modern city, a day India signed a pact to develop Varanasi on the pattern of Kyoto.

During the over 40-minute presentation, Mayor Kadokawa explained how Kyoto was cleaned up by its citizens. Continue reading

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Australia eyes uranium deal with India

tony-abbottSYDNEY: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott will undertake his first visit to India next week to further strengthen the strategic partnership and promote trade and investment between the two countries, which are also likely to ink the much-awaited uranium deal.

“I will travel to India and Malaysia from September 4 to 6. On my first visit to India as Prime Minister, I will visit New Delhi and India’s financial capital, Mumbai, to strengthen the strategic partnership between our two countries,” he said. Continue reading

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BJP’s ‘divisive’ politics in Jammu, Kashmir

Omar-AbdullahJAMMU: In his farewell speech in the Jammu&Kashmir Assembly, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said there is no option other than the talks with Pakistan and targeted the BJP for “fulfilling the objectives” of separatists in Kashmir.

“For god’s sake, what is the option other than talks (for resolution of issues),” the CM asked in his speech on the last day of J&K Assembly’s final session. Continue reading

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‘Deeply grateful’ Modi seeks active ties with Japan

mod-abeKYOTO: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday that the India-Japan relationship was below potential and the two sides would strive to achieve in five years the unrealised hopes of five decades.

In a statement before departing from Delhi, Modi said he was “deeply grateful” to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for joining him in Kyoto. Continue reading

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Getting to the crux of post-colonial Muslim politics

babrimosqueCOMMENT, NEW DELHI: The term “Muslim politics” is used, discussed, analysed and even criticised in a number of ways. Popular demands such as the protection of Urdu or Muslim Personal Law, the programmes, policies and activities of Muslim organisations or pressure groups, sermons, speeches and statements of influential Muslim personalities and the Muslim voting pattern in elections are often studied as legitimate constituents of “Muslim politics” in postcolonial India. Continue reading

Formidable poet-lyricist Vairamuthu wins global award

vairamuthuCHENNAI: Three persons from the backward Theni district with varying backgrounds – music director Ilayaraja, director Bharathiraja and poet Vairamuthu — rose to become a formidable trio in Tamil cinema, which was looking to newer creative avenues in the late 1970s.

Call it sheer talent or quirk of fate, Vairamuthu’s song Ithu Our Pon Maalai Pozhuthu in Nizhalgal heralded the arrival of a new lyricist. Continue reading

Modi brings poor into ‘economic mainstream’, targets 7.5 crore new bank accounts

ModipoorNEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday launched his government’s ambitious mega financial inclusion scheme, Jan Dhan Yojana, to bring the poor into the “economic mainstream” and to “eradicate financial untouchability”.

Some 1.5 crore bank accounts are expected to be opened on the first day itself, that will be a record of sorts. Continue reading

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7.77 lakh fake ration cards in Bihar

ration cardBIHAR: The Food and Consumer Protection department of Bihar government has detected 7.77 lakh fake ration cards, distribution of which could have incurred Rs 3.23 cr monthly loss to state government.

The Food and Consumer Protection department suspected these cards being fake after there had been no takers for these cards for months. The fake cards were detected during internal review and inspection of the department. Continue reading