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Saturday, February 18, 2012

One third of Kingfisher flights stand cancelled -Kingfisher in Red?

Cash-strapped Kingfisher Airlines has been hit by some major flight cancellations as the Vijay Mallya-led carrier struggles to continue daily operations.
According to sources, the total daily flights operated by the airline are down to 160 from 240 per day in the last two days and the airline has stopped taking bookings for Mumbai-Delhi-Mumbai flights to accommodate passengers of cancelled flights.
The source said these 80-odd cancelled flights include certain flights scheduled from/or to cities including Lucknow, Patna, Srinagar, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Pune and Ahmedabad. On the international routes, a source said flights to Dhaka and Bangkok have also been affected. However, these could not be immediately verified with the airline.

A detailed query mailed to a company spokesperson remained unanswered till the time of going to the press.
sources said bookings for Mumbai-Delhi-Mumbai flights were stopped to accommodate passengers from the cancelled

Delhi-Bangalore and Delhi-Pune flights, said the source.
Passengers suffered severe hardships as the beleaguered carrier cancelled several flights from some key cities and completely shut down operations from Kolkata, including international flights, for about ten days.

Kingfisher's services to Singapore were also affected as its website showed there were no flights available for the next ten days. Same was the case for Bangkok. In Hyderabad, the cash-strapped carrier has three flights to Bangalore, Chennai and Vijayawada on scheduled cancellation.

Kingfisher has been struggling to stay afloat with huge debt woes and working capital issues.Over the past few months, the airline has also seen a significant exodus by pilots. Meeting high fuel costs and servicing payments to lessors for its leased aircraft are the other challenges the airline faces.

Congress will meet same fate in Goa polls as it did in BMC

Panaji, Feb 18 (PTI) The BJP here today said that the results of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls would be replicated in the March 3 Goa Assembly elections. Leader of Opposition in State Assembly, Manohar Parrikar said the forthcoming polls will be Congress' waterloo in Goa. "Goa results will be same as that of the BMC, where Congress-NCP combine has taken a beating," he told reporters here today. In BMC, of the 227 seats, the BJP-Shiv Sena combine won 106 seats, while the Congress-NCP won 64 seats. BJP which is mid way through its campaign in the state, has said that the party's manifesto would be released on Sunday by national leader Ravi Shankar Prasad. The party has entered into seat sharing with Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), state's oldest regional outfit. PTI

The crumbling infrastructure, rampant corruption and inefficiency in the civic administration Paved the way for Sena BJP Win

Mumbai: The results of the BMC elections, though not quite the subject of nail-biting anticipation, must have evoked a heaving sigh of relief for the Shiv Sena-BJP combine, whose political future was uncertain after its dismal performance in the State Assembly elections in 2009, not to mention the polls for over 190 municipal councils last December.

Despite having narrowly escaped the threat posed by the Congress-NCP combine it has been anything but a sweeping victory for the combine, as it has fallen well short of the mark by eight seats. Its victory is also dubious in the fact that the numbers of winning seats have dwindled from 85 in 2007 to 76 in 2012. With every successive civic election, the party's tally seems to be dipping inexorably. Inexplicably, its alliance partner BJP somehow managed to improve on its earlier tally going from 28 to 29.
The original assumption doing the rounds was that the Sena-BJP nexus had little to offer to Mumbai voters with their increasing penchant for following global trends.

The crumbling infrastructure, rampant corruption and inefficiency in the civic administration, and the pothole-riddled roads did little to help.

The campaign in the run-up to the elections was quite exciting and dramatic, though. CM Prithviraj Chavan, NCP Chief Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena Executive Chief Uddhav Thackeray sparred and parried, while Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray surprised all by extending an olive branch to estranged kin Raj. In response, the MNS chief said he was ready to meet the patriarch half way, but would not budge for Uddhav and his coterie.

Cong's pain, Sena's gain

The familial drama, high-strung enough to give any K-serial a run for its money, had Sena sympathisers riveted, rapt in attention. Though the MNS did not so much as make a dent in the Shiv Sena-BJP vote bank, they did manage to woo a sizeable chunk of the Marathi vote bank that was earlier in the vice-like grip of the Congress-NCP alliance. Despite their strategic move to unite their forces, neither the Congress nor the NCP could repeat their 2007 performance -- Congress' numbers dwindled from 71 to 53, and NCP's tally from 14 to 13.
The voters who bailed out on the formidable Congress-NCP alliance proved match-winners for the saffron alliance, as Congress-NCP tally dwindled from 85 to 66, a considerable deterioration from its erstwhile 85. Their loss turned out to be MNS' gain of Sena-BJP.

Campaign coup

But even a few days ago, the atmosphere at Matoshree was taut with anxiety.
A desperate and anxious Uddhav first conducted a confidential survey of all 227 wards, meticulously chalking out a list of probable winners and prospective rebels. He took pains to announce his chosen list of candidates well after the deadline, so that prospective rebels had nowhere to defect to. Thackeray Jr was so consumed and engrossed with the BMC poll calculations that he did not address a single rally for the local body elections, in 27 zilla parishads and 309 panchayat samitis spanning the state.
Bal Thackeray stepped up, addressing two public rallies, and needless to say, the effect was powerful. Uddhav's decision to release tongue-in-cheek full-page ads in different print media also did the trick. And like every year, there were Sena booth chiefs stationed at all the centres, ushering in Sena sympathisers and making sure that they didn't have to wait in long lines. The Congress-NCP's combined efforts to woo voters paled in comparison to the aggressive, no-hold-barred campaign unleashed by the Sena.
Their impending victory was clear on polling day itself, with Sena bastions like Bhandup, Goregaon and parts of the western suburbs like Lalbaug and Parel registering high percentages of polling activity.

Divided they fell

The dip in the polling percentage from 47 per cent to 44.64 per cent is shocking, given the zealous civil activism by organisations to sensitise citizens about the need to go vote. As any major shift in polling percentages is seen as an indication of an anti-incumbency wave, the repeat of last election's dismal attendance rate does not bode well for the Congress-NCP, who were eager to unseat the saffron combine.
What failed the Congress-NCP was simply the sheer absence of team spirit. The fissures and cracks in the fa ade of amiability were evident even at the first joint rally in Bandra Government Colony, where not only supporters, but also prominent leaders were conspicuous by their absence.
The NCP lacked the foundation and support that is only lent to a team by good leadership. Except for its chief Sharad Pawar, none of the stalwarts - Deputy CM Ajit Pawar, Home Minister R R Patil, or City District Guardian Minister Jayant Patil - made their presence felt at the ground level, and a few road shows failed to generate enough steam. PWD Minister Chhagan Bhujbal was also busy at the helms for the Nashik civic polls.

Foot in the mouth?

On the eve of the elections, CM Chavan made an audacious statement, declaring confidently that after February 16, Shiv Sena would be inconsequential, and its chief Bal Thackeray would lose its clout. This statement may well have hit the nail on the coffin for the Congress-NCP this election, as it sent Sena sympathisers into a tizzy.
The insecure Marathi voter still wants Sena to maintain its presence in Mumbai.
For MNS, their tally of 28 seats, from its earlier 7, comes as little relief. The chaos in the party continued even after the exams specially conducted to finalise the candidates. Raj Thackeray appeared utterly confused when the High Court refused permission for rallies at Shivaji Park -- so much so, that the party couldn't even come out with a manifesto in time. Mumbaikars have offered him more seats but less comfort.
With this win, Sena-BJP combine can hope for a better performance in 2014 Assembly elections, despite its dismal performance as the present Opposition party.

Mid Day report

Congress grapples with graft, scams & rebels; regional ally boosts BJP

PANAJI: Two weeks from polling, Goa, with a 40-seat assembly, is all set for multi-cornered battles with a sudden spurt in the number of political parties contesting on March 3.

Though the main fight will be between Congress and BJP, rebels, parties in the fray for the first time and voters seeking state accountability will make it a keen battle.

Congress looks to be in trouble. Issues such as illegal mining, deeprooted corruption, the controversial Regional Plan 2021, medium of instruction , lack of development and infighting are likely to hit the party hard.

Thanks to its mismanagement , Congress will be more affected by rebels than other parties. Besides, it has given 12 tickets to sitting MLAs and their relatives. That's over one-fourth of the assembly strength.

A well-prepared BJP, waiting to capitalize on anti-Congress sentiments , has smelt power. The party's confidence rises from the fact that it has succeeded in allying with Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP)-Goa's oldest regional party-in an attempt to wrest power from Congress. MGP gets eight seats while BJP contests around 28 seats.

At the end of the four and a half years, Congress's Digambar Kamat Kamat has proved to be the only CM to complete the full term since Goa became a state in 1987.

All major parties, including Congress , BJP and NCP, have given tickets to the rich. Ignoring cadres' sentiments , parties have gone to the extent of loaning candidates to coalition partners. Of the 7 seats NCP is contesting, three candidates are from Congress. MGP and BJP have also swapped one or two seats to facilitate entry for 'winnable' candidates.

The richest candidate is Dinar Tarcar with stakes in mining and real estate. Recently, as chairman of Public Accounts Committee , Parrikar had named Tarcar in the illegal mining scam report.

But Tarcar knocked on BJP's doors to contest from Santa Cruz constituency . To avoid embarrassment, BJP gave the Santa Cruz seat to MGP and along with it came Tarcar.

Friday, February 17, 2012

'Iran, Hezbollah trying to attack Israelis, Jews abroad'

Counter-terrorism Bureau releases warning in light of information emerging after recent attacks, urges tourists to be alert; Israeli intelligence reveals Bangkok may be target for new attacks, Thai paper reports. By Chaiwat Subprasom/Reuters
It appears as though Iran and Hezbollah are currently trying to carry out attacks on Israeli and Jewish targets abroad, Israel's Counter-terrorism Bureau warned Friday.

The Bureau said it drew these conclusions, "in light of the findings emerging from the questioning of detainees," arrested in relation to the recent attacks.

The warning followed an earlier report in The Bangkok Post, stating that Thailand had bolstered security at its six international airports after Israeli intelligence warned that the country may be the target for new terror attacks.
According to the report, Thai Police Chief Priewpan Damapong instructed the Transport Ministry on Thursday to put all international airports on high alert and to beef up security at subway stations as well.

On Thursday, two Iranians were charged in a Thai court over an alleged plot earlier this week to target Israeli diplomats. They were caught trying to flee Bangkok on Tuesday after one of the bombs they were assembling accidentally exploded.

Thai security authorities announced on Thursday that they had discovered a “direct connection” linking this week’s attacks against Israeli diplomats in Georgia and India with the Iranian terrorist cell apprehended in Bangkok.

The cell, which consisted of three Iranian nationals, intended to target Israeli diplomats, the Thai police chief said.

Italian vessel episode: Guilty will be punished, says Antony

New Delhi/Kochi: India today said the firing by armed guards on-board an Italian merchant ship killing two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala, was 'against the laws and norms' and the guilty will be punished.

'We are taking this issue very seriously. What happened was against the laws and the norms. The guilty will have to be
punished,' Defence Minister A K Antony told reporters here. Underlining that India wanted to send 'strong signals' on
the issue, the minister said, 'This is not only for India but for all others. Everybody should follow the norms and the

He was asked about the steps being taken by the government to book the guilty in the incident.

Antony said the Kerala police and the Indian Coast Guard were questioning all the people involved in the case and it
would be 'inappropriate' for him to comment further on the incident.

The two fishermen, native of Alappuzha, were killed on Wednesday night when armed guards on-board the Italian
merchant vessel Enrica Lexie opened fire on their fishing boat.

The vessel was brought to Kochi early today and police and Coast Guard personnel were questioning the crew. The ship
has been berthed at Kochi oil terminal, where security has been tightened.

The preliminary assessment of the marine authorities is that the armed guards aboard the ship might have fired at the
fishing boat mistaking it for a vessel belonging to pirates.

Italian Consul General in India, GiamPaolo Cutillo, was in Kochi yesterday in connection with the incident and had met
the city Police Commissioner there.

Inspector General S P S Basra, Regional Commander of Coast Guard Region (West), said in Kochi that the Italian
vessel had not reported the incident.

It was the coastal police at Neendakara in Kollam district which reported the incident to the Coast Guard and,
thereafter, search operations were launched, he told reporters.

The vessel was in the Indian Exclusive Zone when the incident occurred, he said.

'It was an error of judgement on the part of the vessel', he said but firing on unarmed fishermen could not be justified.

'They (the Italian vessel's crew) had taken some time to accept the case. An FIR has been registered and the police
were investigating the case,' he said, when asked about the reported delay in taking action against the erring ship.

On the explanation by the Italian vessel crew that the guards had opened fire suspecting the fishermen to be pirates,
he said, 'Any incident of piracy has to be immediately reported to the Coast Guard. They have not done it. They gave
the information over two-and-a-half hours later', Basra said.

The Italian ship has stated that the crew had sighted a 'suspicious' boat off Alapuzha on February 15 at about 1600
hours and that it was closing in from a distance of at 2.8 nautical miles.

The boat was 'warned' by flashing of search lights and displaying of the weapons but it continued to close in and got
up with a 100 metre range from the ship, they have said, claiming that the security team of the ship sighted six
persons and fired warning shots.

The crew informed the owners and activated the 'ship security alert system', they have claimed.

The coastal police has registered a murder case against the crew of the vessel based on the evidence of bullet
injuries found on the bodies of the dead fishermen --Valentine alias Jelestine (45) and Ajesh Binki (25)-- during
post-mortem. PTI

Tumour is almost out of the system, tweets Yuvraj Singh

NEW DELHI: Indian cricketer Yuvraj Singh on Thursday revealed that the malignant lung tumour, for which he is undergoing chemotherapy in the Unites States, is 'almost out of his system' after the first cycle of treatment.

'Got very good news from dr lawrence today! The tumor is almost way out of the system After reading my todays scan !Second cycle has started,' Yuvraj, being treated at the Boston Institute of Cancer Research, wrote on his twitter account.

The 30-year-old, who went to US last month, has gone bald during the treatment, which will go on till the last week of March before the process of rehabilitation starts in April.

The dashing batsman had earlier got a message from US cycling legend Lance Armstrong, whose own inspirational triumph over cancer is well-documented, wishing him a speedy recovery.

'Message from @lancearmstrong makes me feel better! Thank you lance means a lot hope we can meet,' tweeted Yuvraj.

A photo of the Armstrong's message, posted by Yuvraj, read: 'Yuvi, I want you to know that the entire LIVESTRONG team is here for you.

'We say it all the time, and truly believe in it: Knowledge is power, Unity is strength, and Attitude is everything. Please know that we are here to help you and your family in any way possible. Go Yuvi!! Livestrong.'

Yuvraj was named Player of the Tournament in the World Cup, scoring 362 runs and grabbing 15 wickets in nine matches.

He has so far scored 8,051 runs in 274 one-dayers and 1,775 runs in 37 Tests since making his international debut in 2000.

After being diagnosed with the illness, Yuvraj has not played competitive cricket since taking part in two of three home Tests against the West Indies in November.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

No censorship on social media -Kapil Sibal

MUMBAI: No Indian government will ever censor social media, Information Technology minister Kapil Sibal said, seeking to calm fears of a China-style crackdown on companies like Google and Facebook.

An Indian court last year ordered 21 companies including Google and Facebook to block material from their websites that could offend religious groups, arousing concerns about freedom of speech in the world's biggest democracy.

'We have never had any intention nor did we ever say we are going to censor social media, but we do believe that all media must obey the laws of this country,' Sibal told reporters on Tuesday.

Sibal and other Indian government officials have previously denied that they were promoting censorship of the Internet.

The controversy centres on a law passed last year that makes companies responsible for content posted by users on their sites and giving them 36 hours to remove it if someone complains.

The new law has led to two cases being brought by individuals against internet companies..

Despite the new rules to block offensive content, access to the Internet in India is still largely uncensored, in contrast to the tight controls in neighbouring China.

But like many other governments around the world, India has become increasingly nervous about the power of social media.

Google Inc, Facebook, Yahoo Inc and Microsoft Corp are awaiting a Delhi High Court ruling on their appeal against a criminal case brought by journalist Vinay Rai related to content on their websites.

The sitting judge said in January that companies were responsible for content on their websites and that he could block sites 'like China' if they did not get their house in order.

Sibal said the government had nothing to do with the case. 'It is between the complainant and those who have been called,' said the minister, who was speaking at an event organised by NASSCOM, an industry body for information technology companies.

Fewer than one in 10 of India's 1.2 billion people have access to the Internet, but that still makes it the third-biggest internet market after China and the United States.

The number of internet users in India is expected to almost triple to 300 million over the next three years.

Don’t look for skilled workers in India, China: Obama

Washington: President Barack Obama has said that he does not want US companies to look for skilled and educated workers in India and China in fields like engineering, technology and science. To prevent that, Obama said, he wants to give the school and teachers the resources they need to train and educated students in the US.

"Employers today are looking for most skilled, educated workers. I don't want them to find them in India or China. I want businesses to find those workers right here in the US," Obama said after sending the annual budgetary proposals for the fiscal 2013 to the Congress. In his State of the Union address last month, Obama had said his administration would offer incentives to those firms which will create jobs in the country.

"The skills and training that employers are looking for begins with the men and women who educate our children," he said while addressing at a community college in a suburb here.

The President said he wants the Congress to give the schools the resources to keep good teachers on the job and reward the best.

"In return, they also need to give schools the flexibility to stop just teaching to the test and replace teachers who aren't helping kids learn. That's something that we can do," he said, adding that the Congress needs to stop the interest rates on student loans from doubling this July.

Now is not the time to make school more expensive for young people. And they can act right now to make that change. They also need to take the tuition tax credit that my administration put in the budget over these last few years -- a tax credit that saves families thousands of dollars on tuition -- and we need to make that permanent, he said.

"It shouldn't be temporary; it should be permanent," he asserted.

"So between the increases we've provided in Pell grants, these tax credits, keeping interest rates low. Millions of students across the country have benefited from that," he said

Obama said tuition inflation has gone up in recent years. "If you can't stop tuition from going up, then funding you get from taxpayers will go down. Because higher education cannot be a luxury; it is an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford. That's part of the American promise in the 21st century," he said.

CBI Director Says $500 Billion Stashed Away in Swiss Banks by Indians

Indians are the largest depositors in banks abroad with an estimated $500 billion of illegal money stashed by them in tax havens, the CBI director said on Monday.

India, in particular, has suffered from the flow of illegal funds to tax havens such as Mauritius, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, and British Virgin islands.

“It is estimated that around $500 billion of illegal money belonging to Indians is deposited in tax havens abroad. Largest depositors in Swiss banks are also reported to be Indians,” CBI Director A.P. Singh said in an address at the opening of the first Interpol Global Program on Anti-corruption and Asset Recovery. He said getting information about such illegal transactions is a time-consuming process as investigators have to peel each layer by sending judicial requests to the country where such deposits have been made.

“Fifty-three percent of the countries said to be least corrupt by the Transparency International Index are offshore tax havens, where most of the corrupt money goes. The tax havens include New Zealand, which is ranked as the least corrupt country, Singapore ranked number five and Switzerland number seven,” Singh said.

He said there is a lack of political will in the leading tax haven states to part with information because they are aware of the extent to which their economies have become “geared to this flow of illegal capitals from the poorer countries.”

The CBI director said tracing, freezing, confiscation and repatriation of stolen assets is a legal challenge, a complex process which requires expertise and political will.

“Managing the asset recovery investigation is complex, time-consuming, costly and most importantly requires expertise and political will. There are many obstacles to asset recovery. Not only is it a specialized legal process filled with delays and uncertainty, but there are also language barriers and a lack of trust when working with other countries,” Singh said.

Singh cited World Bank estimates to say cross border flow of money from criminal activities and tax evasion is around $1.5 trillion, of which $40 billion is bribes paid to government servants in developing countries.

Did Tehran 'outsource' Delhi attack? 10 big developments

New Delhi: After an Israeli diplomat's car exploded in New Delhi, just a few feet from the Prime Minister's residence, Indian investigators are trying to connect the dots of the terror attack. The bomb was planted on the car by a man on a motorcycle when the SUV paused at a traffic signal. Here are 10 big developments in the case:

1) The Delhi police have recovered pieces of magnetic devices and explosives used in the car and are now on the lookout for an abandoned red bike."The bomb used yesterday could not be bigger than a palm top," said Delhi Police Commissioner B K Gupta. Five people were detained in connection with the attack, but were later left off.

2) Sources say that investigations are focusing on Iranian residents in India following the premise that the execution of the attack was "outsourced." Officials in the Home Ministry said, "Who planned and who did it will be known only after investigations are over. At this stage it is premature to name any country."

3) Israel is firm in its belief that Iran is to blame. The Israeli ambassador told NDTV, "Iran has been openly calling for the destruction of Israel. This was planned in Tehran." Iranian officials have described reports of its alleged role as propaganda.

4) According to news agency IANS, the Israeli diplomat's wife who was seriously injured in the attacks, has told Israeli media that she remembers "seeing the motorcyclist who apparently threw something in the direction of the car." The Israeli who was injured, Tal Yehoshua-Koren, was operated upon this morning. Doctors say she is partially paralysed.

5) Home Minister P Chidambaram shared some details of the attack this morning. "It appears that a motorcycle rider, a single person, came from behind. We think the explosion took place within 4-5 seconds of the device being attached (to the car). We think it's likely that a very well-trained person planted the device. We think the target was the Israeli diplomat's wife and therefore we have to assume this was a terror attack. CCTV footage is being scanned but so far, there is no single clear image of the motorcycle license plate or the rider. At this moment, we are not pointing a finger at any group."

6) For India, the fact that the explosion took place so close to the Prime Minister's house in a high-security zone is a major concern. The incident is being treated as a serious security lapse. Police officers are raiding guesthouses and small hotels in areas like Paharganj, frequented by backpackers, to find suspects.

7) CCTV footage from security cameras belonging to the large houses in this expensive part of Delhi is being scanned.

8) The car - a Toyota Innova - was destroyed in the blast. Members of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) have examined the mangled remains of the car and collected samples of the explosives found. RDX was reportedly not used.

9) Iran has blamed Israel for the assassinations of a series of its nuclear scientists in recent months. In those cases, like in Delhi, a magnetic object was attached to vehicles before they exploded. Israel, along with countries like the US, has been opposed to Iran's nuclear programme.

10) Another bomb was found yesterday attached to the car of the Israeli embassy in Georgia, but it was defused by the police. NDTV

'Chinese hackers' shut down Microsoft India store

Microsoft India's retail website was down on Monday after an apparent hack, with a purportedly Chinese group called Evil Shadow Team posting doctored screenshots that seemed to be of partially obscured customers' usernames and passwords.

The Microsoft Store India ( website showed an error message promising to restore access as quickly as possible.

The hackers obscured the full usernames and passwords in the screen shots posted on a blog run by Evil Shadow Team member 7z1 ( Writing in Mandarin, 7z1 describes himself as a 'patriotic hacker'.

The Indian edition of Microsoft Store is operated by local company Quasar Media. A spokesman said the company was investigating.

'I am not sure when the site will be up again or what happened,' spokesman Rahul Roy said.

A spokesman at Microsoft India said he was unable to immediately comment.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Match Gujarat’s farm growth: Narendra Modi's challenge to UPA

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, on Friday, challenged the Congress-led UPA government to match the state's growth rate in agriculture, even as the Congress accused Modi of wasting public money for political stunts.

Modi was speaking in the temple town of Palitana, where he observed his 32nd one-day fast. He described the 50 years rule of the Congress party as anti-farmer. He challenged the UPA government to match Gujarat's 11% growth rate in agriculture and in implementation of pro-poor programmes.

The chief minister said that Congress leaders made tall promises before the elections, but had failed miserably on all accounts.

"People's problems have multiplied in the Congress rule, while on the other hand, Gujarat government has been able to root out one problem after another from the state in the last ten years," he said, asking the Centre to compete with the state rather than hurling abuses on it.

A steady stream of visitors thronged the fast venue throughout the day, even as a large number of people also fasted with the CM. Modi expressed his gratitude to people for supporting the Sadbhavana mission.

Highlighting the state's achievements on various fronts, Modi said that his government had topped in implementing the Centre's 20-Point Programme for ten consecutive years. He pointed out that none of the top five states in implementation of the programme were Congress-ruled states.

Flanked by a number of state ministers, Modi said that the state government had distributed benefits worth Rs8,000 crore among lakhs of beneficiaries right at their doorstep through Garib Kalyan Melas.

"The Congress resorted to building vote bank, while the state government has built houses for BPL families," he claimed.
The fast at Palitana was the 32nd and penultimate one-day fast of the chief minister. He will observe the final fast at Ambaji on Sunday.

Gujarat can supply power to India in two years: Modi

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday that Gujarat will take on the responsibility of providing power to the entire country in the next two years.

"Gujarat has taken several initiatives in the power sector. Considering the way Gujarat is moving, the state will be in a position to provide power to all states in two years with a power generation capacity of 7,000 MW from the present 4,000 MW," Modi said, while addressing 600 women delegates of 100 public sector units (PSUs) at the Forum of Women in Public Sector (WIPS) held at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A).

Modi called for women's empowerment in the decision-making process for the progress of the nation. He said that 50% of the people's power comprise women and engaging them in the decision-making process would lend fresh impetus to the nation's progress.

Modi also told the gathering that he wished all conferences for women are held in Gujarat as they are known to be the market drivers. "Women are known to be the market drivers and Gujarat is known for its textile. If women come to the state to attend conferences, they will certainly shop," Modi said

Friday, February 10, 2012

India successfully test-fires missile interceptor

Bhubaneswar: India Friday tested a ballistic missile interceptor from a defence base in Odisha to create a shield against incoming enemy missiles, a senior defence official said.

The indigenous Advanced Air Defence (AAD) interceptor missile was fired from Wheeler Island off the state coast near Dhamra in Bhadrak district, about 170 km from here.

It successfully destroyed an incoming ballistic missile - a modified variant of the Prithvi fired from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur on sea in Balasore district, about 70 km away from Wheeler Island.

'The interceptor directly hit the target and destroyed it,' S.P. Dash, director of the test range, told IANS. The interceptor was fired a few minutes after the target missile was fired.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

People from all walks of life around the world pray for Yuvraj's speedy recovery

NEW DELHI: Well known personalities from all walks of life wished Yuvraj Singh a speedy recovery after the news of the cricketer being diagnosed with cancer broke earlier on Sunday.

Yuvraj, who played a stellar role in India's ODI World Cup triumph last year, has been diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy in the United States.

The 30-year-old left-hander was adjudged the Player of the tournament in the World Cup last year with 362 runs, 15 wickets and four Man-of-the-Match awards.

Yuvraj Singh diagnosed with cancer in US

India’s flamboyant left-handed batsman Yuvraj Singh, who had played an important role in India winning the 2011 world cup after 28 years had been diagnosed with cancer. This news has come as a great shock to his fans in the country and his home state Punjab. Yuvraj is currently undergoing chemotherapy in the United States.

Yuvraj had gone to US last month for treatment to be treated for tumour which was claimed earlier as non-malignant by his family. However, now it has been diagnosed as malignant tumour.

The doctors believe since it has been detected in the stage one due to which it could be cured and Yuvraj will be able to re-start his cricket career. The father of Yuvraj, Yograj, who was himself a pace bowler, did not comment on the matter. The mother of Yuvraj Singh, Shabnam Singh could not be contacted.

Yuvraj’s rehabilitation is expected to continue till April. He could possibly be fit to get back into normal practice and resume playing in May.

Yuvraj has played 37 Tests, scoring 1775 runs at an average of 34.80. His one-day record is better as he has scored 8051 runs at an average of 37.62 from 274 ODI matches. Besides this, in 23 Twenty20s, Yuvraj has scored 567 runs at 31.50.

Meanwhile, people in Chandigarh and region have been shocked and surprised by news of Yuvraj being diagnosed with cancer.

Cricket lovers throughout the world will pray for his well-being.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

“The 2G scam is the biggest scam since Independence" Govt.’s credibility at stake: BJP

The Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday described the Supreme Court decision on 2G scam as one which raises serious questions on the credibility, transparency and integrity of the United Progressive Alliance government and demanded the resignation of Home Minister P Chidambaram for his alleged role in it.

It also said that after the order, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh “cannot escape” the political responsibility as he is head of the government.

“The 2G scam is the biggest scam since Independence. The entire country was deeply agitated and shocked over it. But Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union ministers Kapil Sibal and P Chidambaram defended the 2G spectrum allocation inside and outside Parliament and stated there was no wrongdoing,” BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said here.

Addressing a press conference in Lucknow, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said even after CAG pointed to wrongdoings, government had defended then Telecom Minister A Raja.

“The Prime Minister had said Chidambaram is his valued colleague and what he did is right. That decision of the government to allot 2G licences has been declared illegal and unconstitutional by the highest court of the country...It was not the decision of one person but the decision of the government,” he said.

The BJP said after the controversy over the appointment of P J Thomas as CVC and the issue of prosecution sanction in 2G case, the quashing of licences by the apex court today is the third issue on which the role of PMO has been criticised.

“This repeatedly demonstrates that many major decisions have not been taken in a fair, transparent and just manner,” the party’s Chief Spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said in Delhi.

“The decision has smashed the PM’s theory that past practices were followed...The SC decision also smashes the theory of Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal that there was ‘zero loss’ in 2G allocation,” Mr. Jaitley said.

He said Mr. Chidambaram had given consent to the 2G allocation and all those involved in the issuance of licences were answerable not only politically and morally but legally also.

“Chidambaram himself must consider his continuance as Home Minister as untenable,” he said.

Mr. Prasad claimed that as the Supreme Court has directed that the matter against Mr. Chidambaram be considered by the special court, “the sword remains hanging over his head and his position has become untenable. The sooner he resigns, the better it would be.”

Prasad said the opposition also demands clarifications from the PM, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi on the 2G issue after the judgement.

“Will the PM take some accountability or keep silent as always? Will Sonia Gandhi and Rahul, the two most powerful leaders in the Congress, speak about massive corruption in this government or maintain a conspicuous silence. The nation demands an answer,” he said.


SC cancels 122 'arbitrary' 2G licences, U.P.A in trouble

New Delhi: In a fresh blow to the government, the Supreme Court Thursday cancelled all 122 licences for 2G spectrum allocated in 2008 and left the decision of a probe into the role of Home Minister P. Chidambaram, then finance minister, to the trial court.

In a judgement with implications for the government as well as the corporate sector, Justices G.S. Singhvi and A.K. Ganguly said that but for the initiative of enlightened citizens looking for clean governance, unsuspecting citizens would not have known the misuse and arbitrary manner in which second generation telecom licences were granted.

Ruling on the 2G spectrum case that is said to have cost the exchequer thousands of crores and saw several politicians, corporate honchos and then communications minister A. Raja - who completed a year in jail Thursday - behind bars, the court ruled the companies would continue to offer services for four months.

During this time, telecom regulator would look into the matter and make recommendations for a fresh auction.

The court also slapped a fine of Rs.5 crore each on Unitech, Swan Telecom and Tata Teleservices and said half of that would go to the court's legal aid services and the remaining to defence services.

Responding to a plea by Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy, it also imposed varying costs on other companies.

It left the matter of a probe into the role of Chidambaram - another petition by Swamy - to the trial court, adding that the CBI was free to investigate if it chose to do so.

'The court has said the government must now get the market value of these licences and the profit from the same should be set aside for legal aide and for ex-defence personnel,' a jubilant Swamy told reporters.

With the entire 2008 spectrum allocation all but nullified and elections to five states under way, the opposition seized its opportunity to renew its demand for the home minister's resignation.

BJP leaders spoke out in chorus against Chidambaram and sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's intervention in the case involving award of telecom spectrum to private players, which investigators say was done in a fraudulent manner causing massive losses.

'The finance minister is the custodian of the public exchequer. It is the prime responsibility of finance minister to ensure that there is no loot of public money,' Arun Jaitley told reporters in Lucknow.

'The CBI has elaborately argued for days together that the role of Chidambaram need not be investigated. Therefore, the upfront of today's order is that his role has to be investigated,' added his colleague Ravi Shankar Prasad.

The ruling, just two days after the Supreme Court castigated the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), for delaying the prosecution of Raja, could not have come at a more difficult time for the government with the crucial Uttar Pradesh elections less than a week away.

The government will examine the judgment and its implications,' Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, the government's chief troubleshooter, said.

While the government battled the inevitable political consequences, there were other implications too, particularly for millions of subscribers and investors.

Stocks of firms that face cancellation of telecom licences fell sharply even as those of one established player registered hansome gains.

Experts also sought to clarify the position. Mobile number portability (MNP), which is in full force across the country, would help customers migrate without much trouble to an operator unaffected by the order.

'Basically, the time period of four months is the time for government to decide to come up with a enhanced market mechanism,' Rajan Mathews, director general, Cellular Operators Association Of India (COAI), told IANS.

The order does not affect companies that were granted licences before 2008; 3G services for which licences were auctioned would also not be interrupted.