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

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Contentious removal of governors ‘a norm’ and legal

governorsCOMMENT, NEW DELHI:Since the commencement of the Constitution in 1950, it is for the third time that governors — this time, as many as nine — have had to go following a change of guard at the Centre. Congress and non-Congress governments have done the same thing every time the occasion has arisen.

The situation is still developing, and the numbers may go beyond nine. Also, the issue of the removal of governors has been taken to court for the third time. Continue reading

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Ganesha idols handmade with love and ‘bakthi’

vinayagaMADURAI: Kasturi amma’s Ganeshas are simple, earthy, eco-friendly and hand-made with love and bhakti. A month before Ganesh Chaturthi, 80-year-old Kasturi observesviratham and starts collecting mud and sand for making the Ganesha idols.

“The clay is a mixture of half-a-dozen ingredients such as elephant poop, sieved river sand, karambai mann and sometimes hay. It takes a fortnight to get ready,” says Kasturi. Continue reading

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Onus on Modi to dump ‘tainted’ ministers, says Court

modisNEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday strongly advised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his chief ministers not to induct into their teams those against whom charges have been framed in criminal and corruption cases.

By refusing to prescribe disqualification from ministership for tainted people, the Supreme Court has put the issue of decriminalising politics back into the executive’s court. Continue reading

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Re-emergence of ebola underscores continued risks from diseases

ebolaCOMMENT, NEW DEHLI: The past two decades have seen the world experiencing, with alarming regularity, outbreaks of viral diseases like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), bird flu and swine flu.

These have caused alarm and spread panic not only in populations that are directly affected but also in places away from the locations of these outbreaks. Continue reading

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Modi sends to ‘exile’ ex-leaders Advani, Vajpayee, Joshi

modiNEW DELHI: Veteran BJP leaders Lal Krishna Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee were on Tuesday dropped from the party’s main policy-making body, the parliamentary board.

The changes in the party organisation effected by BJP chief Amit Shah had the distinct stamp of Narendra Modi all over it. These also had the endorsement of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Continue reading

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Latest govt move leaves India’s onion farmers in tears

onionNASHIK:Onion cultivators in Maharashtra faced devastating losses this season due to crop damage by hailstorms. Things had only just begun to improve when the Central government recently decided to include onion in the essential commodities list.

The government purportedly took the step in a bid to check rising prices and clamp down on hoarding by traders as they now cannot stock more than a prescribed quantity. It, however, hampered farmers’ chances of recouping their losses as prices have fallen. Continue reading

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Dalai Lama returning to China?

dalailamaLHASA: China’s government in Tibet claims that the Dalai Lama is in talks with Beijing through “personal envoys”, but the talks are only about the possibility of his return to Tibet.

Wu Yingjie, the Deputy Secretary of the Communist Party Committee for Tibet, told a group of Indian journalists in Lhasa on Sunday that the talks with the Dalai were “ongoing and always smooth, but we are discussing only his future, not Tibet’s.” Continue reading

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Sri Lanka’s TNA seeks Modi’s help with refugees

modiCOLOMBO: The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has sought India’s help in the return of Sri Lankan refugees from India.

“There are over one lakh refugees in Tamil Nadu living in 115 camps. We have requested the Indian government to pressure the Sri Lankan government to release their [refugees’] land in the north which has been taken over by the Army,” said senior TNA parliamentarian Mavai Senathirajah, who was part of the six-member TNA delegation that met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Aug 23. Continue reading

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Will Modi say ‘no’ to communal politics?

Narendra_ModiCOMMENT, NEW DELHI: There is a slow but systematic attempt to change India’s name from Bharat to Hindustan — playing up the word “Hindu” in Hindustan and trying to repackage it as the abode of the Hindus. B.R. Ambedkar and his team that drafted the Constitution of India consciously avoided the term “Hindustan” as they could foresee its implications in a land that takes pride in its diversity. Continue reading

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Controversy over wine during mass in churches

churchTHIRUVANATHAPURAM: Joining the liquor controversy in Kerala, senior non-Catholic bishop Philiphose Mar Chrysostom, of Mar Thoma Syrian Church,  asked the Churches to rethink about using wine during Mass.The use of wine at churches for Mass has come to the liquor controversy after prominent backward Hindu leader Vellappally Nateshan questioned the logic of allowing Mass wine when Indian made foreign liquor is banned in a phased manner.

Continue reading

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Coalgate: Supreme Court declares 218 blocks ‘illegal’

coalNEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday declared allocation of 218 coal blocks across the country as “illegal”, “arbitrary” and done in “most non–transparent ways.”

A three-judge bench led by Chief Justice R M Lodha held that all the allocation done in the last two decades “suffer from vice of arbitrariness” and could not withstand the test of legal scrutiny. Continue reading

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India on alert as suspected ‘ebola’ carriers return home

ebola-virus-MUMBAI: As many as 112 Indian nationals suspected to have been exposed to the Ebola virus are expected to land in Mumbai from Liberia on seven different flights Tuesday. Civic authorities, meanwhile, are busy creating an isolation facility in a suburban hospital.

According to a spokesperson for the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA), the seven flights are carrying Indians evacuated from Liberia by the Indian embassy. Liberia is one of the four countries in West Africa affected by the Ebola virus. Continue reading

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Law in place but caste-based customs still stifling India’s baseline

scavengersNEW DELHI:Across the country, “manual scavengers” at the bottom of India’s entrenched caste hierarchy still perform the unsanitary work on a daily basis, Human Rights Watch said in a report after interviewing more than 100 people involved in the labour.

Low-caste workers often find it difficult to obtain any other form of work, with some toilet cleaners facing threats and harassment from local officials and residents if they try to quit, HRW said. Continue reading

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India investigators tackle black money at source

indiamoneyNEW DELHI: Tax investigators pursuing instances of blackmoney stashed abroad by Indians have finally been able to circumvent the Swiss secrecy code by asking over 100 such account holders to submit on their own details of personal balances in these banks, brought under the tax net recently, for lesser penal action for evasion.

The tax effect in these cases could be about Rs. 50-80 crore, according to sources. Continue reading

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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