Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday said the CBI was “putting pressure” on him to “frame” Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an alleged fake encounter case in Gujarat when he was being questioned by the probe agency during the Congress-led UPA government.Shah said this at the ‘News 18 Rising India’ programme in New Delhi in response to a question on Opposition’s charge that the Narendra Modi government is “misusing’ central agencies to target them.The CBI “was putting pressure” on me to “frame Modi ji” (when he was Gujarat CM) in an alleged fake encounter case during the Congress government,” he said, adding that the BJP never raised a ruckus despite this.On Rahul Gandhi’s conviction in a criminal defamation case by a court in Surat, the home minister said the Congress leader was not the only politician who was convicted by a court and lost membership of the legislature.Instead of moving to a higher court, Rahul has been trying to create hue and cry and blaming Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his fate, he said.Shah said Rahul Gandhi should go to a higher court to fight his case, instead of trying to put the blame on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.He said the Congress is spreading misconception; conviction can’t be stayed. “The sentence can be stayed if the court decides,” he said.“He has not appealed to take stay on his conviction. What kind of arrogance is this? You want a favour. You want to continue to be MP and will also not go before the Court,” Shah said.Where does such arrogance gets generated, he said.Shah said 17 prominent leaders, including Lalu Prasad, J Jayalalitha and Raashid Alvi, had lost their membership because of a 2013 Supreme Court order during the UPA government, which said an elected representative would lose his seat immediately after conviction. Still, no one protested wearing black clothes because it is the “law of the land”, he said.“Listen to the full speech of Rahul Gandhi, he has not only spoken abusive words for Modi ji. He has spoken abusive words for the entire Modi community and OBC society,” he said.“The law of the land is clear. There is no question of vendetta politics. It is the judgment of the Supreme Court of India, which had come during their government,” Shah said.Asked about the notice to vacate his bungalow, Shah asked why should there be “special favour” when the Supreme Court had said to act as soon as the conviction comes into effect.“It was a deliberate statement by Rahul Gandhi. If Rahul Gandhi did not want to apologise, then he should not have applied for bail. Let him not apologise,” Shah said.“This gentleman is not the first one. Politicians who held much bigger positions and with much more experience have lost their membership because of this provision,” the Home minister said.He said India’s democracy wasn’t threatened when Lalu ji was disqualified but it is endangered only when a person from the Gandhi family is disqualified.“Now it has come on him, so they are saying make a separate law for the Gandhi family. I want to ask the people of this country whether there should be a separate law for a single family. What kind of mentality is this? Whatever happens, they start blaming Modi ji and the Lok Sabha Speaker,” Shah said.He said senior lawyers who are Congress MPs in Rajya Sabha should tell their colleagues that Lok Sabha Speaker has no role in the disqualification.“It is the law of the country that all his speeches in Parliament would have to be erased from the records from the moment of his conviction. Even if his disqualification notice were served a few days later, it would have no purpose,” he said.Shah said BJP did not want changes in the Supreme Court order. The Manmohan Singh government brought an Ordinance to blunt the apex court order, but Rahul Gandhi tore it apart, calling it “nonsense”.“Once he tore it apart, who in his government would have dared to turn it into law? It was vetoed. Had that ordinance become a law, he could have been saved,” Shah said.Asked about Rahul’s comment on Savarkar, the Home Minister said Veer Savarkar was the only freedom fighter who was sentenced to two life terms in Andaman prison. “Such language for such a freedom fighter should not have been used,” he said.He (Rahul) should read his grandmother’s speech on Veer Savarkar. His own party people are advising him to not speak against Savarkar, he said.In the general election of 2024, Shah said Modi would again be PM with a larger majority. BJP will get more seats in the 2024 elections than 2019 elections, he said, adding that there is no unity among the opposition, he said.On the upcoming Karnataka elections, Shah said BJP would comfortably cross the halfway mark and form a government with a clear majority in the state.Ruling out any alliance in Karnataka, Shah said, “The BJP will definitely cross the halfway mark and form the government with an absolute majority in Karnataka. We will win record mandate.” Referring to recent Karnataka government’s decision to end quota on the basis of religion, he said reservation based on religion is unconstitutional.“Karnataka’s Congress government did it due to polarisation, and we have just rectified it. It should have done earlier,” he said.The Home minister rejected the allegations on the misuse of investigative agencies against the opposition leaders. Shah said we never blamed the opposition for anything, innocent police officers were put behind bars during Congress government.Shah said the BJP had won the 2014 and 2019 elections on the plank of anti-corruption. He said Enforcement Directorate had seized 1.10 lakh crore of assets, of which not even five per cent are of political leaders.“Shall we stop the fight against corruption? Should we not act if the accused is a politician,” Shah asked. The Home minister asked who had filed cases against Lalu Prasad Yadav and who had sent a plane full of officials from Delhi to arrest Shaikh Abdullah.Citing the misuse of agencies, Shah said thousands of innocent persons were imprisoned for 19 months of Emergency and questioned whose doing it was. It was his grandmother Indira Gandhi, he said.On the Maharashtra question, Shah said people wanted Shiv Sena and BJP government and now the real Shiv Sena is with BJP. “I also accept that BJP on its own could have formed the government in Maharashtra. There is no question of the merger of Shiv Sena,” he said.He said the Congress should introspect about its contribution to corruption. There is a strong resentment against Congress governments in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. We will definitely win elections in Madhya Pradesh, he said.Shah said we have not taken any decision on the face in Rajasthan elections. People want to change the CM of Rajasthan, he said.On Amritpal Singh, Shah said he meets Punjab Chief Minister every three months, irrespective of the government and stand with the party when it comes to the security of the country.“Many people have been arrested in connection with Amritpal case, police and intelligence agencies are working on the case,” he said.On attacks on Indian missions abroad, Shah said it was an attack on India. “We will take action against those involved in the attack, FIR already lodged in Delhi,” he said. Shah said the contribution of Sikhs to India’s freedom has been immense; every Sikh wants to be with India.The Home minister ruled out any confrontation between the judiciary and the government. “Both are working within their limits,” he said. The government’s duty to make law now and the Parliament will think over it, he said
New Delhi: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday said the CBI was "putting pressure" on him to "frame" Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an alleged fake encounter case in Gujarat when he was being questioned by the probe agency during the Congress-led UPA government.Mr Shah said this at the 'News 18 Rising India' programme in response to a question on Opposition's charge that the Narendra Modi government is "misusing' central agencies to target them.The CBI "was putting pressure" on me to "frame Modi ji" (when he was Gujarat CM) in an alleged fake encounter case during the Congress government," he said, adding that the BJP never raised a ruckus despite this. On Rahul Gandhi's conviction in a criminal defamation case by a court in Surat, the home minister said the Congress leader was not the only politician who was convicted by a court and lost membership of the legislature.Instead of moving to a higher court, Rahul Gandhi has been trying to create hue and cry and blaming Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his fate, he said.Mr Shah said Rahul Gandhi should go to a higher court to fight his case, instead of trying to put the blame on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He said the Congress is spreading misconception; conviction can't be stayed. "The sentence can be stayed if the court decides," he said."He has not appealed to take stay on his conviction. What kind of arrogance is this? You want a favour. You want to continue to be MP and will also not go before the Court," Mr Shah said. Where does such arrogance gets generated, he asked.Mr Shah said 17 prominent leaders, including Lalu Prasad, J Jayalalitha and Raashid Alvi, had lost their membership because of a 2013 Supreme Court order during the UPA government, which said an elected representative would lose his seat immediately after conviction. Still, no one protested wearing black clothes because it is the "law of the land", he said."Listen to the full speech of Rahul Gandhi, he has not only spoken abusive words for Modi ji, he has spoken abusive words for the entire Modi community and OBC society," he said."The law of the land is clear. There is no question of vendetta politics. It is the judgment of the Supreme Court of India, which had come during their government," Mr Shah said.Asked about the notice to vacate his bungalow, Mr Shah asked why should there be "special favour" when the Supreme Court had said to act as soon as the conviction comes into effect."It was a deliberate statement by Rahul Gandhi. If Rahul Gandhi did not want to apologise, then he should not have applied for bail. Let him not apologise," Mr Shah said."This gentleman is not the first one. Politicians who held much bigger positions and with much more experience have lost their membership because of this provision," the Home minister said. He said India's democracy wasn't threatened when Lalu ji was disqualified but it is endangered only when a person from the Gandhi family is disqualified."Now it has come on him, so they are saying make a separate law for the Gandhi family. I want to ask the people of this country whether there should be a separate law for a single family. What kind of mentality is this? Whatever happens, they start blaming Modi ji and the Lok Sabha Speaker," Mr Shah said.He said senior lawyers who are Congress MPs in Rajya Sabha should tell their colleagues that Lok Sabha Speaker has no role in the disqualification. "It is the law of the country that all his speeches in Parliament would have to be erased from the records from the moment of his conviction. Even if his disqualification notice were served a few days later, it would have no purpose," he said.Mr Shah said the BJP did not want changes in the Supreme Court order. The Manmohan Singh government brought an Ordinance to blunt the top court order, but Rahul Gandhi tore it apart, calling it "nonsense"."Once he tore it apart, who in his government would have dared to turn it into law? It was vetoed. Had that ordinance become a law, he could have been saved," Mr Shah said.Asked about Rahul Gandhi's comment on Savarkar, the Home Minister said Veer Savarkar was the only freedom fighter who was sentenced to two life terms in Andaman prison. "Such language for such a freedom fighter should not have been used," he said.He (Rahul) should read his grandmother's speech on Veer Savarkar. His own party people are advising him to not speak against Savarkar, he said."In the general election of 2024, Shah said Modi would again be PM with a larger majority. BJP will get more seats in the 2024 elections than 2019 elections," he said, adding that there is no unity among the opposition.On the upcoming Karnataka elections, Mr Shah said the BJP would comfortably cross the halfway mark and form a government with a clear majority in the state.Ruling out any alliance in Karnataka, Mr Shah said, "The BJP will definitely cross the halfway mark and form the government with an absolute majority in Karnataka. We will win record mandate." Referring to recent Karnataka government's decision to end quota on the basis of religion, he said reservation based on religion is unconstitutional. "Karnataka's Congress government did it due to polarisation, and we have just rectified it. It should have done earlier," he said.The Home minister rejected the allegations on the misuse of investigative agencies against the opposition leaders. Mr Shah said we never blamed the opposition for anything, innocent police officers were put behind bars during Congress government.Mr Shah said the BJP had won the 2014 and 2019 elections on the plank of anti-corruption. He said Enforcement Directorate had seized 1.10 lakh crore of assets, of which not even five per cent are of political leaders. "Shall we stop the fight against corruption? Should we not act if the accused is a politician," Mr Shah asked.The Home minister asked who had filed cases against Lalu Prasad Yadav and who had sent a plane full of officials from Delhi to arrest Shaikh Abdullah.Citing the misuse of agencies, Mr Shah said thousands of innocent persons were imprisoned for 19 months of Emergency and questioned whose doing it was. It was his grandmother Indira Gandhi, he said.On the Maharashtra question, Mr Shah said people wanted Shiv Sena and BJP government and now the real Shiv Sena is with BJP. "I also accept that BJP on its own could have formed the government in Maharashtra. There is no question of the merger of Shiv Sena," he said.He said the Congress should introspect about its contribution to corruption. There is a strong resentment against Congress governments in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. We will definitely win elections in Madhya Pradesh, he said.Mr Shah said we have not taken any decision on the face in Rajasthan elections. People want to change the CM of Rajasthan, he said.On Amritpal Singh, Mr Shah said he meets Punjab Chief Minister every three months, irrespective of the government and stand with the party when it comes to the security of the country."Many people have been arrested in connection with Amritpal case, police and intelligence agencies are working on the case," he said.On attacks on Indian missions abroad, Mr Shah said it was an attack on India. "We will take action against those involved in the attack, FIR already lodged in Delhi," he said.Mr Shah said the contribution of Sikhs to India's freedom has been immense; every Sikh wants to be with India.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comThe Home minister ruled out any confrontation between the judiciary and the government. "Both are working within their limits," he said. The government's duty is to make law now and the Parliament will think over it, he said.
Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Sanjay Raut on Thursday blamed the Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis government in Maharashtra for the clashes that broke out in Sambhaji Nagar (previously Aurangabad) on Wednesday evening and alleged that the government was “working to ensure that there would be riots in the state”.Hitting out at Deputy Chief Minister Fadnavis, who holds the Home portfolio, Raut said that the home minister and home ministry are “invisible” in the state and alleged that Fadnavis was looking “frustrated and depressed”.“This (the Aurangabad clashes) is a failure of the government. The government wants to have such a situation in different places. The Shinde group is working for this. This government has only one intention, that is to create disturbance in the state and to ensure that riots take place,” Raut said. A clash had broken out between two groups in Sambhaji Nagar’s Kiradpura area on Wednesday midnight with stone pelting and several police vehicles being set on fire.“The government is working to ensure that there are riots in the state and communal disharmony…This is their politics,” Raut alleged.Taking a dig at Fadnavis, Raut said, “In fact, there is a question if the home minister or home ministry exists in the state. I am saying again and again, Fadnavis is not visible anywhere. He looks depressed and frustrated. We should find out the reasons for that. It is not something I can disclose openly.”
Google’s video platform YouTube has told the Congress that it is looking into a claim made by party leader Rahul Gandhi that views on his videos on industrialist Gautam Adani are much lower than his other videos with similar user engagement, it is learnt.The Congress had written to YouTube earlier this month suggesting that it suspects viewership of Rahul’s two videos on Adani were suppressed.The issue was flagged by Sam Pitroda, head of the Indian Overseas Congress, in a letter to YouTube CEO Neal Mohan on March 11.“Mr Gandhi has raised the issue of cronyism of the ruling government with one industrialist, Mr Gautam Adani, through speeches in India’s Parliament and specific videos released exclusively on his YouTube channel. His team has found that the views on these videos are much lower than what they normally are for other videos of Mr Gandhi for similar user engagement,” he had stated.Pitroda had argued that Rahul’s social media team find “this a bit bizarre and are searching for an explanation. They have used YouTube’s own data and analytics to show that viewership of videos of Mr Adani are being suppressed, perhaps unwittingly or algorithmically.”To back his claim, Pitroda also forwarded a presentation made by the party’s data analytics department, comparing viewership data of the video on Adani and Rahul’s other videos from the Bharat Jodo Yatra and recent speeches in Parliament and at Cambridge University.Mohan, sources said, has replied to Pitroda saying that a “team is taking a look” at the Congress’s claim. Sources said Pitroda and Congress data analytics department head Praveen Chakravarty have had discussions with YouTube’s top executives over the issue.In the presentation, the Congress had claimed that one Bharat Jodo Yatra video has less positive interactions than the first video on Adani but has five-times more views. The container video from Yatra, it said, has 83,602 positive interactions, whereas the first video on Adani — titled ‘Mitr Kaal episode 1’ — had 99,197 interactions.But the ‘Mitr Kaal’ video got only 4.78 lakh views, compared to 20 lakh-plus views of the container video.Similarly, the party had claimed that the second video on Adani “has double the interactions of Cambridge video but similar number of views.” While the Cambridge video had 28,360 positive interactions, ‘Mitr Kaal episode-2’ had 49,053 positive interactions. Both videos had 2 lakh-plus views.“Our estimate is that Adani video, too, should have had 8 lakh views based on interactions metrics, but only has 2.6 lakh views,” the Congress said in its presentation.Arguing that there was a “clear case of algorithmic suppression”, the party said in the presentation that most people watch videos through the YouTube Browse feature, where the YouTube homepage shows videos and suggested videos.The party said the browse feature in Rahul Gandhi’s channel was down since February 9. “YouTube algorithm has suppressed the browse feature for Rahul Gandhi’s videos,” it said.
India has been witnessing an uptick in COVID-19 cases in the country recently.New Delhi: A total of 610 cases of Covid's XBB.1.16 variant, which might have been behind the recent rise of coronavirus cases, have been detected across the country, according to INSACOG data.The samples have been found across 11 states and Union Territories.The highest number of Covid cases caused due to this variant has been found in Maharashtra and Gujarat at 164 each, followed by 93 Telangana and 86 in Karnataka, according to INSACOG data.The XBB 1.16 variant was first found in January when two samples tested positive for the variant.India has been witnessing an uptick in COVID-19 cases in the country recently.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comIndia logged 1,805 new coronavirus cases, while the active cases have surpassed the 10,000-mark after 134 days, according to the Health ministry data updated on Monday.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
New Delhi: India logged 1,890 new coronavirus cases, the highest in 149 days, while the active cases increased to 9,433, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Sunday.The country had recorded 2,208 cases in a single day on October 28 last year.The death count has increased to 5,30,831 with seven deaths. While two deaths each were reported by Maharashtra and Gujarat in a span of 24 hours, three were reconciled by Kerala, the data updated at 8 am stated.The daily positivity was recorded at 1.56 per cent while the weekly positivity was pegged at 1.29 per cent.The Covid case tally was recorded at 4.47 crore (4,47,04,147) The active cases now comprises 0.02 per cent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has been recorded at 98.79 per cent, the ministry said.The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 4,41,63,883, while the case fatality rate was recorded at 1.19 per cent. PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comAccording to the ministry's website, 220.65 crore doses of Covid vaccine have been administered in the country so far under the nationwide vaccination drive.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
Action junkies, rejoice. ‘Bholaa’, in which Ajay Devgn does double duty as the eponymous lead actor and director, is the kind of all-out, no-holds-barred, high-octane actioner we haven’t seen in Bollywood in a long time.Here’s what we get in the film, which runs through the course of a night. A massive drug bust. A vicious mobster (Deepak Dobriyal) leading an army of goons laden with impressive fire power. A police station under attack, with only an elderly custodian (Sanjay Mishra) in charge. A bunch of cops hanging on to their lives by a thread. An ex-convict (Ajay Devgn) heading out to meet his ten year old daughter whom he has never seen. And an injured cop (Tabu) corralling the convict into a rescue mission with a hapless fellow (Amir Khan) riding along, strictly to provide the laughs.The biggest problem Bollywood has faced with this genre has been the inability to keep everything else in the film subservient to the action: bunging in song and dance and other irrelevant details, causes things to come to a standstill. Here Devgn, who now seems to have settled into his dual role, having had considerable practice (his last was ‘Runway 34’), makes sure, for the most part, that the set-pieces keep coming. And he keeps slaying, single-handedly keeping the monsters at bay.And that’s got to do with ‘Bholaa’ being an official remake of ‘Kaithi’, Lokesh Kanagaraj’s 2019 blockbuster starring Karthi. The film introduced us to elements that make up the director’s universe, which melds action and emotion, splitting the screen between charismatic good guys and even more charismatic bad guys. In Kanagaraj’s last outing ‘Vikram’, the powerhouse ensemble which included Kamal Haasan, Fahad Faasil, Vijay Sethupathi, was trumped by the climactic glimpse of Suriya, who plays A Very Bad Guy.The plotline of ‘Bholaa’ is nearly the same, with a few additions and tweaks. The biggest is to change the injured male cop into a female, and that’s a smart move. Tabu takes on the part with great gusto, making an effective dent in this all-male universe, nailing the power that a cop yields yet showing a softer human side. Without her, the film wouldn’t have been as watchable. And that goes for two other actors here, Dobriyal and Rao: the former, nearly unrecognisable as the manic-murderous hood, is scarily good; the latter plays bad well, too.The trouble with keeping this kind of action sustainable over two hours forty minutes is evident every time the film goes off the main track. A flashback featuring Bholaa’s past, which includes a romance, slows things down, as do the numerous instances when his distraught daughter is shown. Also, because this is a Devgn enterprise, the hero has to have enough time to flex solo. The challenge of making each set-piece different is clear when, for the nth time, Bholaa is alone, on the road, facing a swarm of killers. And it all starts looking the same.Fortunately, there’s enough going on to keep everything going, as Shiv bhakt Bholaa, aided by holy ‘vibhooti’, his valiant cop companion pointedly named Diana, and a brave informer called Aijaz, makes sure that he is the last man standing. Again, fortunately, we aren’t left too much time to dwell on the power-sharing in the trinity– obviously, our Bholaa has pole position– as the plot gets back to its relentless cracking of bones, showering of blood, skewering of bodies, and parts thereof.For the faint-hearted? No way. Bang-for-the-buck? Oh yes.Bholaa movie cast: Ajay Devgn, Tabu, Deepak Dobriyal, Sanjay Mishra, Gajraj Rao, Vineet Kumar, Kiran Kumar, Markrand Deshpande, Amir KhanBholaa movie director: Ajay DevgnBholaa movie rating: 3 stars
A row erupted in Tamil Nadu after the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) instructed ‘Aavin’, a state-owned manufacturer of dairy products, to use the term ‘Dahi‘ in its curd sachets, with Chief Minister MK Stalin terming it an “unabashed instance of Hindi imposition”.In a tweet, Stalin said, “The unabashed insistence of Hindi Imposition have come to the extent of directing us to label even a curd packet in Hindi, relegating Tamil & Kannada in our own states. Such brazen disregard to our mother tongues will make sure those responsible are banished from the South forever (sic)”.Saying that a term in a local language should be used, the chief minister asked the FSSAI to respect the people’s sentiments.The unabashed insistences of #HindiImposition have come to the extent of directing us to label even a curd packet in Hindi, relegating Tamil & Kannada in our own states.Such brazen disregard to our mother tongues will make sure those responsible are banished from South forever. https://t.co/6qvARicfUw pic.twitter.com/gw07ypyouV— M.K.Stalin (@mkstalin) March 29, 2023On Wednesday, The Hindu reported that the FSSAI instructed the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF), which owns the ‘Nandini’ brand of dairy products and the Tamil Nadu Cooperative Milk Producers Federation, which manufactures the ‘Aavin’ brand of dairy products, to use the Hindi term ‘Dahi’ in its curd sachets.The FSSAI suggested that the term ‘Fermented Milk’ in the curd sachets could be replaced with ‘Dahi’, and ‘yoghurt’ if the product complies with the relevant provisions of this standard, Hindu reported. According to news agency PTI, the FSSAI also said that Tamil words such as “tair” or “tayir” could be used in brackets.Aavin, however, has reportedly informed the authority that it will not print the word ‘Dahi‘.Tamil Nadu BJP president K Annamalai, too, called for a rollback of the FSSAI’s directive. In a tweet, he said, “The notification released by FSSAI for the use of “Dhahi” in curd sachets produced by state-run cooperative societies is not in tandem with the policy of our Hon PM Thiru @narendramodi avl to promote regional languages. We want an immediate rollback of the notification”.The notification released by FSSAI for the use of “Dhahi” in curd sachets produced by state-run cooperative societies is not in tandem with the policy of our Hon PM Thiru @narendramodi avl to promote regional languages.We want an immediate rollback of the notification. pic.twitter.com/SKK18O59li— K.Annamalai (@annamalai_k) March 29, 2023
When he was 18, like many young men in the state, Diganta Das left his home in Assam to look for work in Bangalore. Despite more than a decade of work in South India, the pandemic brought him back home with no money in his wallet. But what he did have was the knowledge of how to make a good Malabar parotta.Now, with a six-month-old parotta manufacturing unit, 32-year-old Das is selling packaged parottas – a once unfamiliar food item – every day to residents of Upper Assam.“I’m the first businessman in my family,” said Das, a resident of Biswanath Chariali. His father was a farmer and, after completing school, he travelled to Bangalore in 2009 to supplement his family’s income.Over the years, he did many jobs in many cities: room service at hotels; security work in Mumbai; painting machines at a construction company; coconut husking; and, most crucially, various stints at parotta-making and packaging units.In early 2020, his friend Suriya Thapa from Tinsukia in Assam, who he had met in Bangalore and had also worked in parotta manufacturing units, decided to take the skills he had picked up to start his own such unit.Das joined him in marketing. They identified Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh as a market with less competition and Thapa set up shop. But it was just a month before the pandemic and the national lockdown struck.Along with the crash in business, Das had another worry: his wife back home was due to give birth soon. The baby was born while he was in Andhra Pradesh.“The day the lockdown lifted, I rushed home. When I finally met my baby, she was a month old and I barely had Rs 10 in my wallet. That is when my mind began working on how I should set up something here,” he said.Two years ago, he met Faizul Hoque, who too had set up a parotta-making unit in his home in Udalguri in Assam, and began selling his product in the market around his hometown.It was six months ago that he decided to take the plunge and start a unit of his own in Biswanath Chariali.His old friend Suriya Thapa, whose business in Vijayawada continues, lent him a hand. “I helped him out with his investments. It’s not a formal business partnership, more like helping a friend out,” he said.“When I first entered this market, the parotta was not really a product that was known. But there are some shops in my town that accepted me and liked my product and began carrying it in their stores,” said Das.With a staff of 18, Das says he earns enough to meet his business expenses. The next step, he hopes, is profits.
All drugs and food for special medical purposes, imported for personal use for the treatment of all rare diseases listed under the National Policy for Rare Diseases 2021, have been exempted from basic customs duty by the central government. The government has also fully exempted Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) used in the treatment of various types of cancer from basic customs duty.On March 28, Congress leader and Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor shared the story of a young couple who had approached him for an exemption of duty for a drug. It was imported for their young daughter who was suffering from cancer, and they said they were unable to pay a high duty for it.“They had scrounged and saved and borrowed and crowd-funded to raise the money required but when they imported the drug, they needed an additional Rs 7 lakhs for GST that they could not afford. When they approached me I wrote to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on March 15 asking her help to exempt them from the GST on humanitarian grounds. When there was no reply they approached me again on Sunday (March 26th); the injection was stuck at Mumbai airport but Customs would not release it without the GST payment.I called Mrs Sitharaman directly this time. I told her this baby depended on her exercising her authority immediately because the drug was perishable and would expire while in the custody of Customs. She was instantly sympathetic. She hadn’t seen my letter so I re-sent it. Within half an hour her PS, Sernya Bhutia, called to tell me she had spoken to the Chairman of the Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs. Within ten minutes Chairman Vivek Johri called me asking for more documentation. By 7 pm today the exemption was granted,” Tharoor had posted on Twitter on March 28.In a notification which came into effect on March 30, the exemption has been granted by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) by substituting “Drugs, Medicines or Food for Special Medical Purposes (FSMP)” instead of “drugs or medicines”.Now, in order to avail of this exemption, the individual importer has to produce a certificate from the central or state director health services or district medical officer/civil surgeon of the district, a finance ministry release said.“While exemptions have already been provided to specified drugs for treatment of spinal muscular atrophy or duchenne muscular dystrophy, the government has been receiving many representations seeking customs duty relief for drugs and medicines used in treatment of other rare diseases. Drugs or special foods required for the treatment of these diseases are expensive and need to be imported. It is estimated that for a child weighing 10 kg, the annual cost of treatment for some rare diseases, may vary from Rs 10 lakh to more than Rs 1 crore per year with treatment being lifelong and drug dose and cost, increasing with age and weight. This exemption will result in substantial cost savings and provide much needed relief to the patients,” it said.Drugs/medicines generally attract basic customs duty of 10 per cent, while some categories of lifesaving drugs/vaccines attract a concessional rate of 5 per cent or nil.In its meeting in September 2021, the GST Council had reduced tax rates for several life-saving drugs. Life-saving drugs Zolgensma and Viltepso used in the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy were exempted from GST when imported for personal use. At that time, the GST rate for Keytruda was cut to 5 per cent from 12 per cent.
Reacting to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification from the Parliament, Germany said Thursday that it has taken note of the case and “expects that the standards of judicial independence and fundamental democratic principles will apply”.The German Foreign Ministry spokesperson made the statement during a press briefing that was aired on German state-owned international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW).“We have taken note of the verdict of the first instance against the Indian opposition politician Rahul Gandhi as well as the suspension of his parliamentary mandate. To our knowledge, Rahul Gandhi is in a position to appeal the verdict. An appeal will show whether the verdict stands and whether suspension has a basis. We expect standards of judicial independence and democratic principles to be applied,” the spokesperson said.NEW: Rahul Gandhi caseGerman Foreign Ministry spokesperson comments for first time:– Takes note of verdict, suspension from parliament– Appeal will show whether verdict stands & suspension has basis– Expects standards of judicial independence & democratic principles to apply pic.twitter.com/dNZB6vflG2— Richard Walker (@rbsw) March 29, 2023Veteran Congress leader Digvijaya Singh took to Twitter to recognise Germany’s statement. “Thank you Germany Foreign Affairs Ministry and Richard Walker for taking note of how the Democracy is being compromised in India through persecution of Rahul Gandhi,” he wrote.BJP leaders, meanwhile, criticised Congress and Singh, accusing the party of inviting foreign interference in internal affairs.Sharing a screenshot of Digivijaya Singh’s tweet, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said, “Thank you Rahul Gandhi for inviting foreign powers for interference into India’s internal matters.” “Remember, Indian Judiciary can’t be influenced by foreign interference. India won’t tolerate ‘foreign influence’ anymore because our Prime Minister is:- Shri @narendramodi Ji,” Rijiju said.Thank you Rahul Gandhi for inviting foreign powers for interference into India’s internal matters. Remember, Indian Judiciary can’t be influenced by foreign interference. India won’t tolerate ‘foreign influence’ anymore because our Prime Minister is:- Shri @narendramodi Ji 🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/xHzGRzOYTz— Kiren Rijiju (@KirenRijiju) March 30, 2023Hitting back at Rijiju, Congress’ media department head Pawan Khera said, “Mr. Rijiju, why divert from the main issue? The issue is that the Prime Minister cannot answer Rahul Gandhi’s questions about Adani.” Instead of “misleading” people, please answer the questions, Khera said.BJP’s IT department head Amit Malviya also tagged Singh’s tweet and said, “Shameful that Congress continues to lean on foreign agencies and seek their intervention in India’s internal affairs.” “Rahul Gandhi had recently sought Europe and US intervention and now it is Digvijay Singh. But Law is the Law… Unless somebody thinks Law is not the Law for them,” he said.Let this be on record. For the first time in Independent India’s history, Congress leaders are pleading foreign powers to intervene in India’s democratic process and weigh in on our judicial decisions… It is a brazen attempt to undermine people’s will and India’s sovereignty… pic.twitter.com/4FDlsOrgkh— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) March 30, 2023BJP spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill also hit out at the Congress, alleging that the party “celebrating Germany/US remarks on Rahul Gandhi’s case shows their political desperation”. “Rejected by Indian voters now looking for acceptance by foreign powers is sad reality of Congress! Judiciary must take note of daily maligning of courts by Congress brigade!” he said.Congress celebrating Germany/U.S. remarks on Rahul Gandhi’s case shows their political desperation!Rejected by Indian voters now looking for acceptance by foreign powers is sad reality of Congress!Judiciary must take note of daily maligning of courts by Congress brigade!— Jaiveer Shergill (@JaiveerShergill) March 30, 2023Tagging Singh’s tweet, BJP leader Vijay Chauthaiwale said on Twitter, “Look how happy @digvijaya_28 ji with comments from Germany. It only shows how they are desperate to involve external agencies in the domestic matters.”On March 23, Gandhi had been found guilty in a 2019 defamation case filed after his remark “why all thieves have Modi surname”, made at a campaign rally in Kolar, Karnataka. A Gujarat court had sentenced him to two years in prison. Gandhi is currently on bail.Following his conviction, he was disqualified from the Parliament, where he was an elected MP from Kerala’s Wayanad district. He was also issued a notice to vacate his official bungalow in New Delhi.First Washington, now BerlinGermany’s response comes days after the United States took a similar stance, saying that respect for the rule of law and judicial independence is a cornerstone of any democracy.In a press briefing, US State Department’s Deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel had said that the US is watching Gandhi’s case in the courts.“Respect for the rule of law and judicial independence is a cornerstone of any democracy, and we’re watching Mr. Gandhi’s case in Indian courts, and we engage with the Government of India on our shared commitment to democratic values – including, of course, freedom of expression,” Patel said.“In our engagements with our Indian partners, we continue to highlight the importance of democratic principles and the protection of human rights, including freedom of expression, as a key to strengthening both our democracies,” he added.Following this, Patel was asked if the US is still engaging with Gandhi as the opposition leader. “It is normal and standard for us to engage with members of opposition parties in any country where we have bilateral relationships,” replied Patel.
The second leg of the Budget session began March 13 but both Houses of Parliament have failed to transact any significant business as the government-Opposition slugfest has intensified over Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s recent remarks in London and the Adani-Hindenburg row.This impasse has brought back the spotlight on repeated adjournments and disruptions in Parliament over the years, which has obstructed the passage of key bills.According to PRS Legislative Research Data, the number of Parliament sittings has halved since the 1950s-60s, and for the last eight consecutive sessions, both Houses of Parliament have been adjourned ahead of their schedule.We take a look at Parliamentary adjournments in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha since the Narendra Modi-led BJP government returned to power in 2019.The Winter Session of Parliament concluded on December 23 — a week ahead of its schedule amid protests by the Opposition over the clash between India and China troops in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang on December 9.Hours lost and productivity: Out of the 68.9 hours during which the Lok Sabha functioned, 2.42 hours were lost due to interruptions. The Rajya Sabha functioned for 72 hours, with 1.46 hours lost due to disruptions. According to PRS, Lok Sabha logged productivity of 88%, and Rajya Sabha 94%.Legislative business: The government planned to introduce 16 Bills in this session, but only seven were introduced. While Lok Sabha passed seven bills, nine were passed by Rajya Sabha.This is the second least number of sittings in a session during the 17th Lok Sabha term, according to PRS.The Monsoon Session of Parliament ended on August 8, four days ahead of its schedule. In 16 sittings against the scheduled 18, the Parliament functioned for less than 50% of the allotted time as multiple adjournments disrupted proceedings over several issues, including the suspension of MPs, the alleged misuse of central investigating agencies, and protests over inflation and price rise.Hours lost & productivity: This session was one of the least productive since 2014. According to PRS, Lok Sabha recorded a productivity of 47% and Rajya Sabha 42%.Legislative business: The Government planned to introduce 24 new Bills. However, owing to protests, only six bills were introduced and five were passed, PRS data showed.The Budget session of Parliament was scheduled to be held from January 31-April 8, 2022, with a recess from February 12-March 13, but was adjourned sine die on April 7, a day ahead of its schedule.Hours lost and productivity: According to PRS, Lok Sabha functioned for 177 hours and registered a productivity of 129%. The Rajya Sabha discharged business for 127.6 hours and registered a productivity of 99.8%.Legislative business: According to PRS data, 13 Bills (including Finance and Appropriation Bills) were introduced in this session, and 11 were passed, of which one was pending from the 2021 Winter Session.The Winter Session of Parliament began on a stormy note, with the passage of Farm Laws Repeal Bill without any discussion and the suspension of 12 Rajya Sabha MPs for the rest of the session on the first day. The Parliament adjourned sine die on December 22, a day ahead of schedule. In the 18 sittings in 24 days, the House witnessed protests by the Opposition over a number of issues, including the Lakhimpur Kheri violence and the farmers’ demand for a legislation on Minimum Support Price (MSP).Hours lost and productivity: The Lok Sabha worked for 77% of its scheduled time, while the Rajya Sabha worked for 43%, according to PRS data. The Lok Sabha lost 18 hours and 48 minutes due to interruptions. Rajya Sabha, however, saw more adjournments. Out of a total scheduled sitting time of 95 hours and 6 minutes, the House discharged business only for 45 hours and 6 minutes, a press note from the Rajya Sabha secretariat showed. A total of 49 hours and 32 minutes was lost due to disruptions and adjournments.Legislative business: The government had listed 26 Bills, however, only 13 were introduced, while 11 were passed, including one Appropriation Bill.Parliament’s Monsoon Session ended two days ahead of schedule after being regularly disrupted by protests by the Opposition parties over Pegasus row, farm laws, and rise in prices. The Monsoon session of Parliament had 19 sittings scheduled from July 19 to August 13, for both the Lower and the Upper Houses, of which 17 were held.Hours lost and productivity: According to PRS, the sixth term of the 17th Lower House worked for only 21.3 hours — which is just 21% of the total scheduled time — while losing 77 hours 48 minutes to adjournments, logging the least number of hours of functioning in the entire 10 sessions held since the Modi government returned to power in May 2019. Meanwhile, out of the total 112 hours Rajya Sabha discharged business for only 29 hours – which is 26% of the scheduled time. The productivity logged by the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha this session was 21% and 29%, respectively.Legislative business: Of the 38 Bills pending in Parliament, 17 were introduced and 22, including two Appropriation Bills, were passed.The 2021 Budget session was scheduled to be held from January 29- April 8, with a recess period from February 16-March 7. However, both Houses were adjourned sine die on March 25. Due to a rise in Covid cases, the Parliament functioned in two shifts from February 2, with the Rajya Sabha sitting from 10 am to 3 pm and Lok Sabha from 4 pm to 5 pm.Hours lost and productivity: Despite the session being curtailed, there was no loss of working hours for Lok Sabha, with the House sitting till late on multiple days. According to PRS, Rajya Sabha sat for 104.4 hours, registering a productivity of 90%. The total sitting hours for Lok Sabha were 131.8, with a productivity of 107%.Legislative business: According to PRS, of the 36 pending Bills, 20 were listed for introduction, 30 for passage, and four for withdrawal. A total of 18 Bills were passed by both Houses of Parliament.The Winter Session of 2020 was cancelled due to the Covid pandemic.In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Monsoon session of Parliament functioned for only 10 days — September 14-23. The session, initially scheduled for October 1, was cut short by eight days because of the public health emergency and several MPs testing positive.Hours lost and productivity: Despite a curtailed session and early adjournment of the House on certain days, the Lok Sabha worked for 60 hours, including 23 hours of late sittings. The time lost for early adjournments due to disruptions was 3.51 hours, according to the Lok Sabha Secretariat. The Rajya Sabha discharged business for 39.5 hours and Lok Sabha for 58.1 hours, according to PRS. According to the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry Annual Report 2020-2021, the time lost due to adjournments was 3 hours 15 minutes.Legislative business: A total of 46 Bills were pending in the Monsoon session of Parliament. Of these, 23 Bills were listed for introduction, 40 for passage, and six for withdrawal. By the end of the session, the House introduced 22 Bills, passed 27 (including two Appropriation Bills), and withdrew five Bills.The Budget Session of Parliament was held for 23 days, from January 31 to March 23, with a recess from February 12 to March 1. Originally planned to have 31 sittings till April 3, the House was adjourned sine die after completing just 23 sittings on March 23 — a day after ‘Janta Curfew’.Hours lost and productivity: According to PRS, Lok Sabha discharged business for 111.2 hours, registering a productivity of 86%. The Rajya Sabha discharged business for 93.8 hours and registered a productivity of 74%.Legislative business: As many as 41 Bills were pending before the Session. A total of 19 Bills were introduced, 12 were passed, and two were withdrawn.This session of Parliament witnessed uproar over Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s ‘rape in India’ remark, and protests in Northeast over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.Hours lost and productivity: The Lok Sabha registered a productivity of 111%, and Rajya Sabha 92%, shows PRS data. Over 55 hours (approximately) were spent by both Houses to discuss legislations.Legislative business: Seventeen bills were introduced and 14 were passed, including one Appropriation Bill. While the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes Bill, 2019, and the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019, were passed, the Personal Data Protection Bill was sent to a joint parliamentary committee for scrutiny.The first session of the 17th Lok Sabha began on June 17 and was scheduled to conclude on July 26, but it was extended till August 7, with the Lok Sabha sitting for 37 days and Rajya Sabha for 35 days.Hours lost and productivity: According to the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry Annual report 2019-2020, no hours were lost in the entire Lok Sabha session, while Rajya Sabha lost 19 hours 34 minutes. According to PRS, the Lok Sabha worked for 280.7 hours, and Rajya Sabha for 195.5 hours. The productivity of this Lok Sabha session was clocked at 135% and of Rajya Sabha at 100%.Legislative business: A total of 33 Bills were pending before the session. By the end of the session, 40 bills were introduced and 30 were passed by both Houses of the Parliament.
In February 2022, 35-year-old Mohammad Arif brought home an injured Sarus crane he found in his village of Mandhka in Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi district. The bird recovered in time but never left him. Recently, the duo became famous on social media, and officials came knocking.Last week, Arif was booked under the wildlife laws, and the bird was packed off first to a neighbourhood sanctuary and then to the Kanpur zoo.Across the globe, rescuing wildlife at will is not permitted. This is because many such animals are not in need of rescuing. For example, wild cats leave their cubs to go hunting only to find them missing (rescued) on return. Also, many rescuers may not be equipped to either help the animals or ensure they do not become a threat to public health.In 2019, for example, a singer made headlines for keeping a sun bear in her Kuala Lumpur condominium. She claimed to have found the animal in a weakened state and decided to nurse it back to health. A Malaysian court tried her under the country’s wildlife laws. More recently in 2021, a woman was charged for rescuing wildlife without a permit in Michigan, USA. The Department of Natural Resources arrested her after euthanising six of her animals, including a two-week-old deer.Under Section 39 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, no person is allowed to acquire or keep in his possession, custody or control any wildlife which is state property. If anyone does so — for example, to treat an injured bird as in the present case — she must report it to the nearest police station or the authorised officer within forty-eight hours of obtaining such possession. Further, under Section 57 of the Act, if a person is found in possession, custody or control of any wildlife, the burden of proof for establishing that the possession, custody or control is not illegal is on the person.Clearly, WLPA does not allow anyone to take home an injured wild bird and keep it for months without written permission from the state’s chief wildlife warden. But it gets a little complicated when the bird in question is a Sarus crane and the caregiver is a farmer in Uttar Pradesh.Back in 1861, British ornithologist LH Irby wrote about Sarus cranes he observed in Oudh: “The young birds are easily reared by hand, and become very tame and attached to the person who feeds them, following him like a dog.”The behaviour was explained after 75 years when Austrian zoologist Lorenz Konrad described how young precocial birds (those born with all their feather and able to see and move around immediately) learn to follow real or foster parents. Called imprinting, the process starts with hatching so that the chics follow the appropriate adult for safety.KS Gopi Sundar, editor-in-chief of the Waterbirds Society, and the co-chair of the IUCN Stork, Ibis and Spoonbill Specialist Group, who has worked on Sarus cranes since 1998, observed that the window for imprinting could remain open until a Sarus crane pairs with another.“In all probability, the bird in question was a young unpaired one from a flock of non-breeding Sarus cranes and that is why it bonded readily during treatment,” he said, adding that the species is anyway well accustomed to farmers and has been thriving in good numbers since the Green revolution.Unlike in South-East Asia, Indian farmers have traditionally tolerated the species in their fields. So much so that the species adjusted its breeding behaviour after human activities. For example, unlike elsewhere in its global range, Sarus cranes in India do not wait for the onset of monsoon to start breeding but take the cue from farmers flooding their fields in anticipation of rain.Barring some small farmers who resent the omnivorous bird for damaging their crops, the larger community has accepted the species for its deep cultural associations. As the story goes, sage Valmiki cursed a hunter for killing the male of a pair of courting Sarus cranes and the words took the form of a perfect verse, inspiring him to compose the epic.At the same time, the farming community also appreciates the material benefits of having Sarus cranes in their fields. The bird, particularly chicks, are voracious eaters of mice and other pests. In the night, their shrill calls alert farmers to crop-raiding nilgais and, increasingly, feral cattle.Given the biological inclination of the species to bond easily, individual Sarus cranes have moved with people on many occasions. For example, back in 1989, eminent photographer Raghu Rai famously documented how a Sarus crane, onomatopoeically named Kurrkutt, lived with a family in Khajuraho, feeding on chapatis.The species is neither a novelty nor under threat in the Northern Indian landscape. Therefore, following the letter of the wildlife law blindly may set damaging precedence.“In many zoos around the world, cranes have bonded with caretakers. Once that happens, the bird is usually not ‘fit’ for release in the wild because the chances of it bonding with another crane reduce substantially,” said Gopi Sundar.Once treated by Arif, the Sarus crane had no future in the wild. But a happy bird does not belong to a zoo or its caregiver in jail. The wisest recourse, therefore, is to reunite the two, and let them be.
When you’re away from home, travel insurance offers a crucial safety net, despite the fact that it may appear like an unnecessary expense at first. In the post-pandemic world, which saw cancelled plans, medical emergencies in a foreign country, extended trips due to quarantine, etc., it is not wise to fly without a travel insurance plan.This piece of a document can help you save money and time and ensure peace of mind if something goes wrong with a trip for which you’ve been saving up for and planning for months.Moreover, travel insurance provides coverage for illnesses and accidents, cancelled flights, broken devices, missing luggage, and even the passing of a relative back home.You can think about travel medical insurance as a general emergency coverage programme.Travel insurance typically reimburses you for your covered financial losses following the submission and approval of a claim. Making a claim entails providing your insurer with evidence of your loss so that they can investigate the incident and pay you for any covered damages.Now, the finest travel insurance plan out there may have its limitations. You’ll frequently discover that some plans aren’t as excellent as you anticipated when you read the fine print. Therefore, here are a few considerations to keep in mind when purchasing travel insurance.8 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Travel InsuranceWhen planning a trip, selecting the right travel insurance plan is essential to ensure protection from unexpected events such as medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and lost luggage.Two critical factors to consider while choosing the right travel insurance plan are your age and the duration of your stay. The coverage options, benefits, and premiums of a travel insurance policy can vary depending on your age and the length of your trip.Therefore, it is crucial to research and compare policies that align with your needs to find the best option. Taking the time to evaluate and select the appropriate travel insurance plan can help you enjoy a worry-free trip, no matter where your travels take you.If you are a frequent traveller to a specific location, you’re better off saving time and money by just buying an annual travel insurance plan, which can cover multiple trips within a certain time period. From the time your insurance goes into force, it offers protection for a full year.Furthermore, you don’t need to know in advance how many trips you might take because an annual travel insurance plan is focused on a time frame rather than a number of journeys.Confirm if your travel insurance has a substantial medical expense coverage limit. A reputable firm will cover your medical expenses up to $100,000 USD. However, more expensive insurance would cover you for bigger sums.Large coverage limits are crucial since you want to ensure that your high hospital expenditures are covered if you become unwell, hurt, or very ill and need professional care. The highest available coverage limit is approximately $2,000,000 USD, but I’m not sure why you’d ever need such a high limit.The idea that travel insurance will cover all types of claims or modifications is among the more widespread misconceptions about it. Verify the coverage and exclusions listed in the policy.Don’t assume that your travel insurance will pay for every loss you experience while travelling. You must rather consider getting coverage for the most frequent occurrences, such as covid-19, medical crises, lost luggage or documents, flight cancellations, etc.Many tourists, especially those who travel with their families, continue to worry about unforeseen setbacks. It’s a great hassle to book that postponed trip only to have it fall through. Therefore, if done properly, your family travel insurance can prevent families from suffering travel losses.As apparent as it sounds, pre-existing conditions are also typically not covered by ordinary insurance policies. If, for instance, you have asthma and experience an attack while on vacation, your will end up paying the costs out of your pockets if your policy does not cover it.Also, it is imperative to reveal any existing medical conditions when buying the policy. That way, the insurance company can guide you to buy the best possible coverage that includes any pre-existing conditions. Not informing the insurer about pre-existing conditions might lead to claim rejection.Furthermore, some insurance providers offer specialised plans for senior citizens, which may offer better coverage and value for money.The claims procedure is the real deal-breaker of every insurance coverage. Make sure to select a dependable provider who offers quick and easy claim settlement.Today, a lot of suppliers also provide cashless travel claims settlement. On social media, read about insurers’ experiences, or look for advice on different insurance aggregator websites.The Bottom Line Overall, consider the factors such as location, length of the trip, the possibility of trip cancellation, limits and exclusions of your insurance plan, and any potential medical costs in the event of sickness, accident or hospitalisation.The moment is now to include travel insurance in your itinerary. You should receive the precise level of coverage you require from your travel insurance policy. For this reason, leading insurance companies like Tata AIG offer a variety of travel insurance options.You can browse for specialised travel insurance coverage that covers both domestic and foreign travel. Seniors and students travelling abroad to broaden their horizons can opt for tailored travel insurance plans.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said he met NXP’s CEO Kurt Sievers and discussed the transformative landscape in the world of semiconductors and innovation.The meeting took place earlier this week with NXP tweeting Tuesday that its CEO Sievers met Prime Minister Modi to discuss strengthening the semiconductor ecosystem, developing STEM workforce and startup ecosystem in India.“We’re committed to driving innovation and positive change through our tech solutions,” the firm said.Tagging the tweet by NXP, Modi said on Twitter, “Happy to have met Mr. Kurt Sievers, the CEO of @NXP and discuss the transformative landscape in the world of semiconductors and innovation.” India is emerging as a key force in these sectors, powered by our talented youth, the prime minister said.
Actor Alia Bhatt shared 30 facts about herself as she turned 30 years old. She shared the playful video on her social media platforms, and revealed her quirks and pet peeves to her fans. In the six-minute video, which appears to have been filmed across several days and locations ranging from her house to various film sets, Alia interacted directly with her fans.She said that she has a habit of scratching her nose immediately after performing a shot, and revealed that her biggest pet peeve is when someone taps her shoulder from behind. She also said that she can control her dreams, and is obsessed with numbers, and is particularly partial to the numbers 6 and 8.The video also featured a quick appearance by her sister Shaheen, who said that Alia often screams out the most obvious observations to her, like, “It’s raining, we must go outside.” Alia also said that she isn’t fond of shopping in physical stores, but loves shopping online. She described herself as a bad liar but a good actor, and said that even though she likes being organised, she’s a messy person.This corroborates something that her husband, Ranbir Kapoor recently revealed about her in an interview. He said that he tolerates Alia’s habit of leaving behind a mess in the bathroom after she uses it. Speaking about Ranbir, Alia said that as a kid, she was ‘obsessed with the smell of mehendi,’ but at her wedding, she got bored of the process. “But I managed to put it,” she said.Alia’s fans flooded the comments section with love. “Alia exudes such a positive energy that she tends to lift everyone’s spirit,” one person wrote. “This is so honest and I love how all these are taken at different times,” another person commented. A third person wrote, “I felt like this video should never end.”Alia didn’t speak much about her acting, even though she’s regarded as one of the finest performers of her generation. She had a terrific 2022, having starred in films such as RRR, Gangubai Kathiawadi, Darlings and Brahmastra. She will next be seen in Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani, and wil make her Hollywood debut with Heart of Stone, starring Gal Gadot.
Many people are feared trapped after a stepwell at a temple in Patel Nagar area, Indore, collapsed on Thursday, news agency ANI reported.As per initial reports, at least 25 people are feared trapped under the debris. Rescue operations are currently underway.This is a developing story
A 26-year-old Hindu man who married a Muslim woman a few months ago approached the Uttar Pradesh Police accusing his wife and relatives of pressing him to embrace Islam.Ajay Kumar Singh of Faridpur village and Muskaan of Jullupur village were in a relationship before they got married in December against the wishes of their families.In his complaint to the Aligarh police, Singh alleged his wife threatened to end her life and pin the blame of abetment on him if he did not convert to her religion.The Aligarh police on Wednesday booked Muskaan, her mother Shehanshah, father Yunus Ali, brother Furquan Ali, and brother-in-law Suhel Khan based on Singh’s complaint.“An FIR has been lodged against his wife and her four family members. We are investigating the allegations. Legal action will be taken only after we find that the claims made in the complaint are true,” said Sarjana Singh, the Deputy Superintendent of Police of Barla in Aligarh.According to the police, Singh had first approached the Karni Sena national vice-president Gyanendra Singh Chauhan, who took him to Sarjana Singh.According to Chauhan, Ajay Kumar Singh told him that he and Muskaan had a fierce fight on March 26 over cooking meat at home. Ajay had asked his wife to not cook meat on the auspicious days of Chaitra Navratri. “The man is terrified and we will come to his rescue because we cannot allow a Hindu to embrace Islam if he or she is not willing to change the religion,” said Chauhan.The Aligarh police have registered a case under sections 295 (damages or defiles worship, or any object sacred by any class), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting it’s religion or religious beliefs), 298 (deliberate intention of wounding the religious feelings), 506 criminal intimidation of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Sarjana Singh told The Indian Express.“I have called the couple and will try for a patch-up between them. The police will take action if the woman and her family members continue to put pressure on the man to convert,” said deputy SP Sarjana Singh.After the couple got married in December, Muskaan’s family had lodged a case of kidnapping and forcible marriage against Singh at Akbarabad police station. But Muskaan told the court that she had married him on her own will. The court dismissed the case.
The ongoing Bengaluru International Film Festival on Tuesday screened Vijeesh Mani’s Aadhivaasi – The Black Death, inspired from the 2018 killing of Madhu, a mentally-challenged tribal man from Kerala’s Attapadi area who was allegedly killed by a group of men who suspected him to be a thief.Tears welled up in the eyes of Madhu’s relatives, including his mother and sister, who were also present to watch the movie for the first time. Uniquely, most of the film is shot in the Muduga language.This is not Mani’s first film in a tribal language or centered around tribal struggles. His earlier film Netaji was filmed in the Irula language, while Mmmmm, which won the award for best feature-type film at Paris Film Festival in 2021, showcases the lives of honey hunters from the Kurumba tribe.Aadhivaasi is centered around protagonist Sathaan (inspired by Madhu), a tribal man who is more comfortable in the forests. He has left a hospital where he was being treated for anxiety. Lead actor Appani Sarath, known for his performance in Malayalam film Angamaly Diaries, delivers a particularly intense portrayal of his struggles, ranging from terror at the noise of a helicopter, to his mounting fears as the forest of his childhood slowly vanishes.Excellent cinematography gives a lift to Attapadi valley even as the film portrays a mounting sense of doom. It does not immediately deal with the 2018 murder, but touches upon the themes of environmental degradation, and how it affects the lives of those who have lived their lives in the forests. When the titular incident comes at the end of the film, the obvious knowledge of the killing does not however detract from the impact.According to Mani, his prior experience in filming in tribal languages had inspired him to take up the project. He is working on his next project which deals with the downtrodden traditional musicians of Kerala. Aadhivaasi has already won several awards at the Dr BR Ambedkar International Film Festival, Rajasthan International Film Festival, and others.Meanwhile, the case of Madhu’s killing has been in progress since 2018, with many back-and-forth changes, including multiple witnesses turning hostile over time. A Kerala court is scheduled to deliver the verdict on Wednesday.The Bangalore International Film Festival will conclude on Wednesday with a 7 pm screening of French film Tori and Lokita.
Alphabet’s Google Cloud has accused Microsoft of anti-competitive cloud computing practices and criticised imminent deals with European cloud vendors, saying these do not solve broader concerns about its licensing terms.In Google Cloud’s first public comments on Microsoft and its European deals its Vice President Amit Zavery told Reuters the company has raised the issue with antitrust agencies and urged European Union antitrust regulators to take a closer look.In response, Microsoft referred to a blogpost in May last year where its president Brad Smith said it ‘has a healthy number two position when it comes to cloud services, with just over 20 percent market share of global cloud services revenues’.“We are committed to the European Cloud Community and their success,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Reuters on Thursday.There is intense rivalry between the two U.S. tech giants in the multi-billion-dollar cloud computing business, where Google trails market leader Amazon and Microsoft.Microsoft has offered to change its cloud computing practices in a deal with smaller rivals which in turn will suspend their antitrust complaints, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters this week.The move will stave off an EU investigation.”Microsoft definitely has a very anti-competitive posture in cloud. They are leveraging a lot of their dominance in the on-premise business as well as Office 365 and Windows to tie Azure and the rest of cloud services and make it hard for customers to have a choice,” Zavery said in an interview late on Wednesday.”When we talk to a lot of our customers, they find a lot of these bundling practices, as well as the way they create pricing and licensing restrictions, make it difficult for them to choose other providers,” he added.Zavery said individual deals struck with several smaller European cloud vendors only benefit Microsoft.”They’re selectively kind of buying out those ones who complain and not make those terms available to everyone. So that definitely makes it an unfair advantage to Microsoft and ties the people who complained back to Microsoft anyway,”“Whatever they’re offering, there should be terms across for everybody, not just for one or two they’ve chosen and pick, and that shows you that they have so much market power they can kind of go and do those things individually.”“My point to the regulators would be that they should look at this holistically, even though one or two vendors might settle doesn’t solve the broader problem. And that’s the problem we need to really resolve, not individual vendors’ problems.”Zavery dismissed the suggestion that the issue is merely a spat between Google and Microsoft.”The question is not about Google. I just want to make it very clear. It’s the cloud. The premise with cloud was to have an open, flexible way to deploy your software and have customers more choices so that they can run their software in any place they choose to in a much more easy way,” he said.
At parties, sometimes, you may end up having one too many only to wake up dehydrated, groggy, nauseous, and with a severe headache the morning after — in short, with a hangover. While the best way to avoid the situation is to limit alcohol (rather avoid) consumption, in case remedies are what you are on the lookout for, here’s some help from Dr Uma Naidoo, a Harvard-trained nutritional psychiatrist.“It is essential to recognise that alcohol is dehydrating and dehydration is a key player in hangovers. The basic cures for a hangover include: hydrating, sleeping, and resting. However, nourishing your body with anti-inflammatory foods that are fiber-rich and nutrient-dense can also help you get back on track,” she shared on Instagram. A post shared by Uma Naidoo, MD (@drumanaidoo) Dr Naidoo added that foods that are high in protein and solutes may help replete the body’s fluid reserves, while soothing foods like nourishing fermented yogurts, folate-rich leafy greens, and nutrient dense nuts may help the brain restore its delicate balance of neurotransmitters for our mood and cognition. “It is also important to know how much alcohol you’ve been consuming. I recommend counting your drinks and keeping in mind that alcohol can be anxiety inducing and contribute to chronic inflammation, so follow your body intelligence,” she continued.Talking to indianexpress.com, Sameena Ansari, senior dietitian and nutritionist, CARE Hospitals, Hi-Tec City, Hyderabad shared quick ways to beat hangovers. They are:o Hydrate: Drinking plenty of water can help alleviate dehydration caused by alcohol consumption.o Eat healthy foods: Eating healthy foods like fruits and vegetables can provide essential nutrients and help alleviate hangover symptoms.o Get some rest: Resting can help the body recover from the effects of alcohol consumption.o Pain relievers: Over-the-counter pain relievers like aspirin or ibuprofen can help alleviate headache and other hangover symptoms.o Drink moderately: The best way to avoid a hangover is to drink moderately and stay within your limits.Interestingly, Naidoo also pointed out that hangovers can bring about cravings for greasy/fried or sugary foods. “However, we know that these foods are drivers of inflammation in the gut and brain, which can further exacerbate the symptoms,” she said.Elucidating, Ushakiran Sisodia, registered dietician and clinical nutritionist, Nanavati Max Super Speciality Hospital, said that the combination of alcohol’s effects on the liver, pancreas, and glucose regulation also lead to a drop in blood sugar levels. “Due to these reasons, cravings for foods that provide quick energy, such as those high in sugar and fat are common effects of hangovers,” she told this outlet.She added, “These foods and drinks can have a negative impact on the overall health of individuals. Trans-fats of fried foods can lead to inflammation, heart problems and obesity. Similarly, uncontrolled sugar intake can cause unnatural spikes in sugar levels, leading to insulin resistance and diabetes”.As such, Sisodia advised to start the day with lemon tea or cinnamon tea and fresh dates or fruits. “This helps normalise the body’s sugar levels before having a light breakfast that is freshly prepared. Throughout the day, drink water or electrolyte-rich coconut water. Eating nutrient rich foods such as bananas, leafy greens, eggs, and whole grains can replenish the loss of potassium, magnesium, and B vitamins, support liver function and detoxify the body.”📣 For more lifestyle news, follow us on Instagram | Twitter | Facebook and don’t miss out on the latest updates!
Trying to stage a comeback in Andhra Pradesh and revive in Telangana, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has decided to raise the issue of non-fulfilment of promises made to both states when the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, was passed. The decision was taken at the two-day TDP Politburo meeting that concluded on Wednesday.The meeting of the Politburo was held at the party office in Hyderabad after eight years. After the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, the TDP built a new headquarters in Guntur district’s Mangalgiri, near Vijayawada, and the Politburo meetings were held there in the last eight years.TDP’s Andhra Pradesh president Kinjerapu Atchen Naidu said the Centre failed to implement the promises made to both the states during the reorganisation, including the construction of a steel plant in Bayyaram, a railway coach factory in Kazipet in Telangana, a Girijan University, and funds for backward regions. He said the Politburo focused on 17 topics of which 13 are issues from Andhra Pradesh and the rest from Telangana.The party said it had resolved to organise its “Mahanadu” conclave in Rajahmundry in May. Naidu said the Politburo had decided to set up three committees: one for overseeing arrangements for “Mahanadu”, the second to work on a manifesto, and the third, for making arrangements for the centenary celebrations. Atchen Naidu said these panels would tour the two states to gather public opinion on the functioning of the party.The TDP leader said the party would demand both the governments of Andhra and Telangana to erect statues of Dr Babu Jagjivan Ram and would hit the streets if the government does not respond positively.“The party has resolved several problems that were haunting the Telugu people for decades and there is every need that the present-day youth should know how the TDP was formed and its 41-year-long journey,” Naidu said, adding that its main aim was to see people be treated equally irrespective of their economic status. The Politburo, he said, had decided to allocate 40 per cent of its seats in both states to the youth.The TDP said the party was in an upbeat mood since its victories in the Andhra Legislative Council polls for graduates’ constituencies and MLA-quota Council seats, Naidu said. Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy and other leaders of the ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) were hitting out at the TDP in frustration, he added. Naidu asked ruling party leaders how much the YSRCP had offered to the four MLAs who joined the YSRCP after getting elected from the TDP.The TDP’s Andhra chief said farmers are the worst-affected in both the Telugu-speaking states and appealed to the ruling parties in both states not to ignore the farming sector. Observing that the TDP’s demands that some outdated guidelines be ignored for the welfare of farmers, Naidu said the Politburo had decided to demand amendments to certain pieces of legislation. The Politburo also discussed the promises the Telangana government made to the people, including two-bedroom houses, unemployment allowance of Rs 3,000 per month, reservations and three-acre land for the landless, according to Naidu.
Protests broke out in several parts of this high-range district on Thursday with locals taking to the roads and blocking traffic, aggrieved over the Kerala High Court’s decision not to permit the capture of ‘Arikomban’, a wild tusker, for the time being.The High Court had on Wednesday constituted a five-member expert committee to take a decision on what action should be taken with regard to Arikomban, so named as it raids ration shops and houses for rice.The panel has to communicate its decision to the court by April 5, till when the capture of the elephant has been prohibited.#WATCH | Kerala: Elephants are seen running in Idukki’s Chinnakanal area.13 panchayats have called a 12-hour-long ‘hartal’ in Idukki districts to express their displeasure on HC verdict on ‘operation Arikomban’ to capture a wild tusker that attacked locals in the nearby areas pic.twitter.com/eXgumdnBwO— ANI (@ANI) March 30, 2023The court only permitted tranquilising and radio-collaring of the tusker if it forayed into inhabited areas despite the best efforts of the forest and wildlife personnel to deter it from doing so.Protesting against the court’s decision, people of several panchayats of the district came out onto the roads and blocked traffic in some areas, according to TV visuals.The protesting public, including women and children, demanded that the elephant be removed from the area.Children told a TV channel that they were afraid to go to school worried that the elephant might attack their bus.Kerala | 13 panchayats in Idukki districts staged a protest yesterday to express their displeasure on the High Court verdict on ‘operation Arikomban’ to capture the tusker Arikomban, a wild tusker that attacked locals and damaged properties in the nearby areas. pic.twitter.com/9TnR5g5TnM— ANI (@ANI) March 30, 2023Some also said that besides Arikomban, there were a couple of other elephants too which were a nuisance and threat to them and sought that those pachyderms be also removed.Meanwhile, Kerala Forests Minister A K Saseendran said the court order “has only served to complicate matters further”.Speaking to the media, Saseendran said that the government will place the plight of the people living there before the expert committee and attempt to convince them to visit the area.“We can go in for appeal only after a final decision is taken by the court,” he said.On assuaging the concerns and fears of the people affected by the tusker, the minister said that whatever steps have to be taken under the law, the government will take them.The High Court had said that the interests of justice would require avoiding “quick-fix knee-jerk actions” and ascertain the views of experts regarding the best steps to balance the conflicting interests of humans and animals in given situations and prevent the same from recurring in future.After news of the verdict spread, local residents of Chinnakanal and nearby places in Idukki district expressed disappointment regarding it and said they would hold protests till the tusker was removed from there.They told scribes that they would not allow the forest and wildlife officials as well as the Kumki elephants, used for trapping wild pachyderms, to leave the area till Arikomban is removed from there.The people asked those advocating the elephant’s interests to come there and stay in the area for a night with their families to understand the plight of the local residents.The court had last week stayed the state government’s order to tranquilise and capture Arikomban till March 29.The court’s order had come on a PIL moved by two animal rights groups — People for Animals (PFA), Trivandum Chapter and the Walking Eye Foundation for Animal Advocacy.The petitioner organisations have claimed in their plea that the order to tranquilise and capture the tusker was “illegal and unscientific”.The petitioners’ have urged the court to issue an order directing the state government and its forest department to translocate and rehabilitate Arikomban to an alternative deep forest.
As the 16th edition of the Indian Premier League is all set to begin, Rohit Sharma, the most successful skipper in the history of IPL, a five-time champion with the Mumbai Indians, will want to keep his team’s winning ways going.Sharma was given the captaincy duties mid season in 2013 when he replaced the legendary Ricky Ponting. From 2008 to 2012, MI only made it to one IPL final, where they lost to the Dhoni-led CSK. But when Sharma took over as captain, he changed the course of the team’s history by leading them to a record-breaking 5 IPL titles from 2013 to 2020.Ahead of IPL 2023, former India coach Anil Kumble has shared his views on Sharma’s captaincy style over the last 10 years.“He was not afraid to say what he had to say. He had plenty of experience around him and he reached out to them as well but then but took his own decisions. That’s what you want from a captain,” he said on JioCinema’s Insiders Preview.Kumble also spoke about Rohit leading a new team in 2017 and said, “2017 was a new team and the kind of captaincy we saw from him in terms of defending low scores, that’s when your true leadership comes out.”𝗚𝗢𝗢𝗗 𝗠𝗢𝗥𝗡𝗜𝗡𝗚 😃#OneFamily #MumbaiMeriJaan #MumbaiIndians #TATAIPL #IPL2023 @ImRo45 pic.twitter.com/OTgCxPGH4R— Mumbai Indians (@mipaltan) March 30, 2023Kumble then expressed his wish to see Rohit bat at number four saying, “Especially with the current MI team, you need that experience in the middle order. There are some wonderful batters that MI possess, but I think someone like Rohit Sharma in the middle, controlling seven to fifteen overs is extremely critical.”Meanwhile, Zaheer Khan emphasized the significance of a captain’s role in franchise cricket and said, “The captain’s role is of utmost importance, the way he is thinking and taking decisions in crucial stages in a cool manner and the right decisions, and if it doesn’t go your way, how he is handling the situation.”“It is a long tournament and every game’s performance can have an impact in the next game. Rohit has the ability and personality to absorb pressure very well. The way he communicates in a cool way, not just with players but also in press conferences, I think that is his biggest strength,” he added.Former India batter, Aakash Chopra further elaborated Sharma’s effect while batting and said, “When Rohit is batting, he does it beautifully and he’ll keep doing it. He’s doing it for India, for the Mumbai Indians. When he bats, he’s in a different league altogether.”Rohit Sharma and Co will start their 2023 IPL campaign on April 2 where they’ll square off against the Virat Kohli-led Bangalore.
With 37 districts in the Indo-Gangetic Plain (IGP) being identified as air pollution ‘hotspots’, including nine districts in Delhi and those of Noida, Gurgaon, Faridabad and Ghaziabad, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed that these districts be listed as ‘air quality sensitive districts’ and polluting sources operating in them be monitored closely.The NGT’s order came after a joint committee appointed by it had submitted a report on air pollution in the IGP, in January this year. On the report, the NGT said in its recently issued order: “It is stated that in view of air pollution in Indo-Gangetic Plain (IGP), development activities can be only with advanced technology and management interventions, particularly during October and November.”The joint committee included representatives of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), and experts, professors Mukesh Khare and Mukesh Sharma.In addition to listing out the hotspots based on satellite observations of PM2.5 concentrations, the committee has identified a three-stage approach to deal with the situation – the use of cleaner fuel, adopting efficient pollution control technologies, and regulating operations as per the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).The report had also noted that the industrial sectors are the main PM2.5 emitters over the IGP, contributing around 48 per cent of the total PM2.5 emissions in the region annually, according to an emissions inventory that was prepared by IIT Kanpur as part of the report. Among the states, Uttar Pradesh was found to be the major emitter of PM2.5 from industries, followed by Bihar, West Bengal, Haryana, and Punjab. To deal with industrial emissions, the report emphasises the use of cleaner fuel.The domestic sector was found to contribute 19 per cent of the total PM2.5 emissions per year over the IGP, with this being primarily due to the use of solid fuel and chulhas, according to the report. Soil and road dust was found to contribute 10 per cent of total PM2.5 emissions annually over the region, open burning 15.5 per cent, and the transport sector 5 per cent.On crop residue burning, the report said: “Our results have clearly shown that the major fraction of open burning is due to crop residue burning. For the IGP, we cannot settle the issue of episodic air quality unless we talk about crop residue burning (CRB) in Punjab and Haryana; the estimated PM2.5 emissions from CRB is 70 Gg (gigagrams) at the end of the kharif season, and is almost three times more than Delhi’s annual estimated emission. Thus, the large CRB emissions have a paramount impact on the entire IGP. Plan of actions need to be taken well before and implemented.”In its recent order, the NGT has directed that the MoEF&CC and CPCB may “enforce requirement of cleaner fuel, switching over to efficient air pollution control technologies, enforcement of GRAP and vigilance measures to control other pollution sources like dust control, vehicular pollution and the like under the National Clean Air Program and require city and district-specific action plans within six months by identified authorities/joint committees.”The CPCB has also been directed to hold a meeting with the concerned ministries, departments, states and Union Territories, and other stakeholders within three months to prepare a road map for implementation of the recommendations that the joint committee made.The NGT’s Principal Bench was hearing a case on the operation of hot mix plants in Noida beyond the carrying capacity of the area.
Having made it clear that the Samajwadi Party (SP) is not going to repeat its 2019 parliamentary poll alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the party is adopting a variety of approaches to connect with the state’s Dalit voters. In 2019, the SP had contested in alliance with the BSP, but the parties had separated after the elections.On March 15, the SP celebrated the birth anniversary of BSP founder Kanshi Ram at its state headquarters in Lucknow. Party state president Naresh Uttam, former minister Swami Prasad Maurya and other leaders offered floral tributes to the late Dalit leader and spoke about his contribution to “Dalit andolan” and social reforms. The party also paid such tributes to Kanshi Ram by organising “Manyawar Kanshi Ram Jayanti Samaroh” in every district.These events followed SP national president Akhilesh Yadav’s March 12 remark that the BSP had lost the path shown by Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram, and now functions like a “B-team” of the BJP.Now, the SP has announced it will celebrate the birth anniversary of Bhimrao Ambedkar on April 14 at a grand scale at party offices in all districts of the state. A leader said the week-long programmes will send a message to Dalits that only the SP can protect the Constitution and democracy from the BJP.In another message to Dalits, the SP, during its national executive meeting in Kolkata, had veteran party MLA Awadhesh Prasad — a Dalit from the Pasi caste — seated next to party chief Akhilesh Yadav on the dais. Before leaving Lucknow for the meeting, the SP chief had tweeted a selfie with Prasad, and his own uncle Shivpal Singh Yadav.Prasad is a nine-term MLA from Milkipur in Ayodhya district. A former minister, he is the party’s national general secretary, the fourth time he has been entrusted with the duty. “But it was the first time in recent days that Prasad was seen accorded such importance at any party platform,” said an SP leader.Speaking to The Indian Express, Prasad claimed that Dalits were leaning towards the Akhilesh-led SP as it was the only party that could protect the Ambedkar-drafted Constitution and democracy in the country. About the special regard shown to him at the Kolkata meet, Prasad said he was a dedicated party worker who was associated with Mulayam Singh Yadav since 1974.“Mayawati [the BSP president] has lost the path shown by Kanshi Ram for the uplift and welfare of Dalits. Hence, Dalits are seeing the SP as their only platform, and their trust in the SP has only increased,” Prasad said.At the same executive meeting, the SP amended its constitution and gave the ‘Samajwadi Baba Saheb Ambedkar Vahini’ the status of the party’s front organisation. In 2021, ahead of the 2022 Assembly elections, the SP had created the Vahini as a dedicated wing to connect Dalits with the party, and had appointed Mithai Lal Bharti as its president. Although the Vahini was active, thus far, there was no mention of it in the SP’s constitution. Bharti said that after the amendment in the party’s constitution, the Election Commission was alerted about this chance as well. “Organisational committees of the Vahini, from national to polling booth-level, will be constituted very soon,” he added.SP spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary said while the party has celebrated Ambedkar’s birth anniversary in the past too, but the next time, it will be celebrated state-wide. About Kanshi Ram’s birth anniversary celebrations, Chaudhary said, “Manyawar Kanshi Ram was with us. He was elected MP from Etawah (in 1991) with Netaji’s (Mulayam’s) support. Earlier, party leaders individually celebrated his birth anniversary, but this time, we held the programme at the SP headquarters.”
Manisha Koirala has wonderful memories of filming the Mani Ratnam directorial Bombay, and she recently admitted that she is glad that she finally ended up doing the film, as there was a point initially when the actor had been debating whether to commit to the film or not.Speaking to YouTube channel IndiaO2, the actor said many people had warned her against doing the movie, which is now regarded as a Hindi cinema classic. Manisha said, “I didn’t want to do Bombay, people had warned me against doing the role of a mother, but cinematographer Ashok Mehta ‘fired’ at me saying ‘do you know the level of good work Mani Ratnam has done? You are an idiot if you refuse his film.’ That jolted me, and mom and me went to Chennai, and did a look test. I am really happy I did Bombay.”Helmed by one of Tamil cinema’s greats, the Mani Ratnam film released in 1995, and starred Manisha Koirala and Arvind Swamy in the lead roles. The movie was based on an inter-religious couple who were living in Bombay during the 1992-1993 riots.During the course of the interview, the actor also said she was excited to meet the composer of the film AR Rahman, and said she was his fan-girl. The two recently collaborated for his musical drama 99 Songs: “I wanted to know who was the young maverick churning out this great music, he already had a lot of fan following in the Bombay film industry back then. It was a fan-girl thing for me, to want to meet him.”On the work front, Manisha Koirala was last seen in the Hindi remake of the Telugu blockbuster Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo, Shehzada. The film also starred popular names such as Paresh Rawal and Kriti Sanon. The original had starred Pooja Hegde and Allu Arjun in the lead.