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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

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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

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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

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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

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Kerala leads with costliest labour

labourersKOCHI: Kerala is fast emerging as a lucrative market for unskilled labourers across the country as wages in the State have galloped over 50 per cent in a span of 19 months.

The wages for non-agriculture workers have risen from `10,050 per month to `15,100 per month, the fastest growth anywhere in the country, indicating further inflow of unskilled workers into the state. Continue reading

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India accuses Google of ‘spying’

google-HQNEW DELHI: CBI has registered a preliminary enquiry (PE) against Internet giant Google over Mapathon 2013, an event organised by the US company, for allegedly violating laws by mapping sensitive areas and defence installations, prohibited by law.

The CBI registered the PE based on a complaint filed by Surveyor General of India’s office to the Union Home Ministry in which Google was accused of had been indulging in activities of mapping several areas which were not included in the maps of the country, official sources said here.     Continue reading

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Jaylalitha asks Modi to up Haj quota

jayalaithaCHENNAI: Seeking enhancement of Tamil Nadu’s quota of seats for Haj pilgrims, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Saturday requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene in the matter and to have the External Affairs Ministry advised to release an additional quota for the State.

In her letter sent to Modi, the Chief Minister referred to receipt of 13,159 applications by the Tamil Nadu State Haj Committee for Haj 2014. Based on the Muslim population, the Haj Committee of India in Mumbai allotted a quota of 2,672 seats to the State. Continue reading

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India -Nepal to strengthen ties

KATHMANDU: External Affairs Minister sushmaswaraj on Saturday met Nepal’s key leaders, conveyed India’s goodwill for the neighbour and pledged engagement at the highest level, officials said.

“The message is that the new government in India is ready to impart renewed momentum to the multifaceted relations between the two countries,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told a press conference at the venue of the meeting of the Nepal-India Joint Commission (JC), where officials were negotiating on a range of bilateral issues. Continue reading

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Modi govt moves to include transgender children in schools

transgender2NEW DELHI: The Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry has advised all States and Union Territories (UTs), barring Jammu and Kashmir, to take appropriate action for the inclusion of “third gender’’ children among socially and educationally backward classes for admission in educational institutions under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) to universalise elementary education.

This is in keeping with the Supreme Court order of April 15, 2014, to treat and grant legal recognition to the “third gender”. Continue reading

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Nuclear fog hangs over Modi’s visit to US

Obama-ModiNEW DELHI: As the Indian administration gears up to launch a civil nuclear cooperation blitz with the US and reiterate its petition to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington in September, industry experts said that decisions in these complex matters “will not materialise overnight,” and New Delhi may have “painted itself into a corner,” on nuclear liability. Continue reading

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India’s life expectancy improving

populationNEW DELHI: India’s life expectancy has increased from 58.5 years in 1990 to 66.4 years in 2013. While this is a significant increase, both Pakistan and Bangladesh have slightly better life expectancy.

Among the BRICS countries, only South Africa has a lower expectancy at 56.9 years, primarily due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. China’s life expectancy is 75.3 years. Continue reading

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India votes for probe on Israel offensive

unsecurity councilGENEVA: India along with BRICS countries on Wednesday voted in support of a UN Human Rights Council resolution to launch a probe into Israel’s offensive on Gaza.

India joined Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa to vote for a Palestinian-drafted resolution on “Ensuring Respect for international law in The Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jersusalem”. Continue reading

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Kedarnath pilgrim route suspended due to bad weather

rishikeshroadDEHRAUN: With the Rishikesh-Kedarnath National Highway blocked at Doliyadevi near Fata and intermittent rains continuing, district authorities on Thursday decided to keep the Kedarnath yatra suspended till July 26.

The highway to Kedarnath as well as Guptkashi-Kalimath motor road is blocked by boulders following landslips and nearly half a dozen places in Kedar valley are being lashed by moderate showers. Continue reading

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Jayalalitha dwells on values emphasised by Islam

jayalaithaCHENNAI: Following Prophet Mohammed’s teachings will ensure India remains a haven of peace, Chief Minister and AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa said at an ‘Iftar’ party she hosted here on Monday.

Jayalalithaa pointed out the Prophet not just sermonised virtues but also lived by them. The holy month of Ramadan was “spring season’’ to the followers of the Prophet. Continue reading

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Poorer UP Congress scales back on Roza Iftaar party

upcongressLUCKNOW: At Roza Iftaar on Thursday, the UP unit of the Congress party will create history. Launching never-before austerity measures in light of the party’s recent poll debacle, senior leaders of the party have, for the first time, ditched the tradition of drawing from party funds to host the annual Roza iftaar at the UP Congress Committee head quarters.

Instead, the event will be hosted with the help of personal, voluntary contributions made by senior leaders of the UPCC as well as some in Delhi. Continue reading

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Toilets, drinking water in schools: Court warns Andhra govt

andhra schoolsNEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has taken a stern view of Andhra Pradesh government not complying with its directions to ensure drinking water and separate toilets for girls and boys in schools and directed the state’s Principal Secretary to appear before it and explain the exact position.

Earlier in May 2014, a bench of justices Dipak Misra and V Gopala Gowda said these provisions are essential for basic human rights that enhance the atmosphere where the education is imparted. Continue reading

Modi wants 24-hour point-to-point rail, road connectivity and ports

MODINEW DELHI: From building coastal expressways as part of a plan to upgrade the road and rail network to ensure that a person can reach any point in the country within 24 hours, to boosting labour reforms so that workers are employed for “fixed terms” instead of on contract; from new legislation on conflict of interest to adding a health knowledge institute to every district hospital — a 17-point people-oriented agenda has been sent by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his ministries.

While Modi’s wishlist was sent on July 10, all the ministries were told to submit detailed action plans, with sharp focus on delivery and implementation, by July 20 so as to put the agenda in place when the NDA government completes its first 100 days in office in August-end. Continue reading

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‘Only divine intervention’ can check rape and crime

aziz-qureshiLUCKNOW: A day before he demits office, Uttar Pradesh Governor Aziz Qureshi Monday, in a controversial remark, said incidents of rapes could not be stopped even if the entire police force or Army was deployed. He said only a divine intervention can help check such crimes.

“Rape incidents cannot be stopped. Even if the entire police force or Army is deployed then also rapes will not end,” Qureshi told a TV channel. Continue reading

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Sonia Gandhi to deal with warlord Rane fallout

narayan_raneMUMBAI: A day after Konkan strongman Narayan Rane quit the Maharashtra cabinet, efforts to persuade him to take back his resignation failed today and the matter would now be referred to Congress president Sonia Gandhi for resolving it.

Rane, who had a closed-door meeting with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre to iron out the issues that led to his stepping down, remained unpacified and insisted on acceptance of his resignation Continue reading

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Modi govt warns of attacks on Amarnath pilgrims

pilgrimsamarnathKASHMIR: There are intelligence inputs which suggest threat of terrorist attacks on Amarnath pilgrims, Lok Sabha was informed on Tuesday.

Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said there are intelligence inputs about the plan of terrorists to target Amarnath yatra and the same has been shared with security agencies at the Centre and state levels.

Rijiju said since the beginning of the yatra this year, the reports of some incidents of stone pelting on yatra vehicles from Jammu and Kashmir’s Ganderbal district have been received.

In these incidents, injury to one pilgrim and damage to the windowpanes of three vehicles have been reported, he said adding the state government has been taking adequate measures to provide security to the Amarnath pilgrims.- From The Indian Express

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China offers Maldives its expertise

maldivesBEIJING: China has offered to train maritime personnel in the Maldives as well as boost its involvement in infrastructure projects in the island nation, as Beijing moves forward with plans to deepen its economic links with the region through its new “maritime silk road” initiative.

China’s envoy to the Maldives, Wang Fukang, told State media that China was “willing to train maritime personnel” and expand maritime cooperation. Continue reading

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Is Modi scaling back on his promises to the Indian army?

Indian_ArmyCOMMENT: With Finance and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley setting aside only Rs. 1000 crore for One Rank One Pension (OROP), there is disquiet within the defence fraternity combined with apprehension that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pre-election commitment to give soldiers this long-pending entitlement may perhaps be diluted yet again.

“We reaffirm our commitment to our brave soldiers. A policy of One Rank One Pension has been adopted by the government to address pension disparities. Continue reading

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Modi’s 100 smart Indian cities a Utopian dream?

mumbaiCOMMENT: India’s cities are a shameful mess: the big, older ones, the small ones and even the fledgling new ones.

Mumbai may be the financial nerve of India but it is no more than a rapidly degenerating slum; fast-expanding s and its spread, now known as the NCR, is a perfect example of how not to anticipate that growth; as for Kolkata, it always miraculously manages to breach your belief that nothing could be worse. Continue reading

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Empowering India’s rural girls through football

girl_ballJHARKHAND: At a time when the entire world was glued to television sets to watch the World Cup, 18 tribal girls from Jharkhand’s hinterland were busy sweating it out in the fields to hone their own dribbling and passing skills for the biggest tournament of their lives.

Buoyed by their performance in two Spanish tournaments last July, the YUWA team would again fly to the US to participate in the Schwan’s USA Cup – the biggest international youth soccer tournament in the US – under the watchful eyes of the amateur coach Franz Gastler who is also the founder director of Yuwa. Continue reading

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Renewable energy: Rajasthan eases investor policies

energyJAIPUR: The state government amended the Wind Power Policy 2012 with an aim of attracting more investors and giving boost to renewable energy in the state.

The government wants to ensure easy process for allocation of land and other formalities for setting up wind power projects in the state, said parliamentary affairs minister Rajendra Rathore. Continue reading

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Modi’s visit to Nepal will reinforce ‘power’ role in SAARC

modiNEPALNEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposed visit to Nepal will help to strengthen bilateral ties between the two countries, an expert has said.

Nihar Nayak, an Associate Research Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), a Delhi-based security think-tank, said Modi’s visit to Nepal would be historic and would have positive ripples in reviving Nepal’s polity. Continue reading

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Modi must tell ‘best friend’ Russia to stop, pleads Ukraine

modiputin2NEW DELHI: The Ukrainian mission in India asked New Delhi on Friday to tell its “friend” Russia to correct its mistakes, and stop supporting those who had shot down a civilian aircraft.

Unfazed Russian diplomats in India agreed the incident was “tragic”, but blamed “miscalculation” by “some party”, and recalled a 2001 incident when Ukraine had shot down a Russian plane “by mistake”. Continue reading

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Pakistan opens arms to Modi

modi2NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be welcomed whenever he chooses to visit Pakistan, said the country’s envoy, hinting at progress on the proposed meeting between the foreign secretaries of two countries.

Speaking to journalists at the press club of India on Friday, Pakistan high commissioner Abdul Basit pushed for improving ties between the two countries. Continue reading

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BRICS bank to open newer opportunities, says Modi

modibris-1BRAZIL: Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to expand cooperation with South American countries in areas like tele-medicine, tele-education and e-governance and promised to share India’s expertise in information technology with countries in the region.

In a statement made during the meeting of BRICS leaders with leaders of South American countries on Wednesday, Modi said India will “work closely with South America than ever before…at the bilateral level, as a BRICS member, in the G-77, as well as other international forums.” Continue reading

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Rajakpakse ropes in ex-UN war crime experts to probe civil strive

rajapakseCOLOMBO: President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Thursday directed a Commission of Inquiry appointed by him to probe the roles of Sri Lankan army and the rebel Tigers, during the nearly 30 year war, for alleged violation of international humanitarian law.

The announcement comes about three months after the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution that calls for an international probe into Sri Lanka’s rights record. Continue reading

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Modi scores with equal shareholding in new BRICS Bank

bricteamBRAZIL: In a major victory for India, the BRICS Summit has decided to establish the new development bank with an initial authorised capital of USD100 billion for which the initial subscribed capital will be equally shared by the founding members, a point New Delhi emphasised to prevent domination by anyone of the members.

The agreement on establishing the bank and a contingency reserve arrangement with an initial size of 100 billion dollars came at a Summit meeting of the five-nation grouping in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched his first multilateral engagement with global leaders. Continue reading

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Modi govt nod for genetically modified crops

gmfoodsMUMBAI: Twenty-one new varities of genetically modified (GM) crops such as rice, wheat, maize and cotton have been approved for field trials by the Narendra Modi government, say reports.

According to these reports, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) — consisting mostly of bio-technology supporters — rejected just one out of the 28 proposals up for consideration. Continue reading

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Modi wants BRICS’ new development bank in Delhi

modiBRASILIA: Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is here for the BRICS Summit on July 15-15 is hoping to take the headquarters of the New Development Bank, an alternate to World Bank and promoted by BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries to New Delhi.

To be initially capitalised at $50 billion ($10 billion being contributed by each of the five countries), the bank will have an authorised capital of $100 billion, and cater to the infrastructure and development funding needs of the five countries Continue reading

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World “watches” as Modi and Xi commit to better ties

modiximeetBRASILIA: In a significant development, China today invited India to attend a summit of Asia and Pacific (APEC) leaders as Prime Minister Narendra Modi met President Xi Jin Ping and discussed various issues including the need to resolve the boundary question in an amicable manner.

The two leaders, who arrived almost at the same time here last evening for attending the BRICS summit, engaged shortly thereafter for what was described as “good discussions and good meeting”. Continue reading

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Green order to shutdown quarries brings hope to wary villages

mangoesKERALA: The latest directive of the National Green Tribunal to the State government to close down granite quarries which got licences illegally and functioned in violation of norms has rekindled hopes of the people of Muthalamada in the district for a life free from quarries and the resultant pollution.

Muthalamada has over four lakh mango trees producing varieties such as Alphonso, Neelam, Mallika, Malgoa, and Sendura. Continue reading

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World’s highest railway bridge in Himalayas

railwaybridge2KAURI: Indian engineers are toiling in the Himalayas to build the world’s highest railway bridge which is expected to be 35 metres taller than the Eiffel Tower when completed by 2016.

The arch-shaped steel structure is being constructed over the Chenab River to link sections of the spectacular mountainous region of India’s northern Jammu and Kashmir state. Continue reading