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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

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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.

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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