SC declines to hear exKolkata top cops plea in Saradha scam case

first_imgNew Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar’s plea seeking extension of the protection granted to him from arrest in the Saradha chit fund scam case. His protection from arrest ends today. Rejecting the plea, an apex court bench observed that Kumar’s plea was not maintainable in court and it would not waste time on it. The court asked Kumar’s counsel to move a competent court in West Bengal, as the other courts in the state were functional and judges were conducting hearings in cases. Also Read – Dussehra with a ‘green’ twist Kumar’s counsel argued that the lawyers’ strike in Kolkata was still on and the courts there were still not functional, and in such a scenario, he could only move the top court. A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra observed that Kumar’s plea would only be heard by a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi. “An administrative decision has been made on this matter… Kumar’s petition should not be filed in this court,” said Justice Mishra.last_img read more

Robber beaten to death after scuffle

first_imgNEW DELHI: A 26-year-old man who had 17 cases against him including snatching, robbery, Arms Act was beaten to death by a family after he got into a scuffle with them over open urination.The deceased identified as Sanjay alias Lilu started thrashing a 65-year-old man Man Singh allegedly for openly urinating near Nehru Camp jhuggi. This enraged the family members of Man Singh and soon they too got into a scuffle with him on Sunday midnight. They thrashed Leelu near the jhuggi. In the meantime, Man Singh’s sons came there in defence of their father and Man Singh’s son Ravi assaulted Leelu with a cement slab which hit him on his chest and he got injured. He was rushed to the hospital but was declared brought dead. Police was soon informed about the incident. “Deceased Leelu (27) is previously involved in 17 cases of snatching, robbery, hurt and Arms Act. The first case is of the year 2009 of Arms Act and the last case is of 2017 of theft and snatching. The involvements are from the area of Govindpuri and Okhla,” said DCP South East Chinmoy Biswal.last_img read more

Netflix renews Russian Doll for second season

first_imgAmerican comedy-drama series ‘Russian Doll’, starring Natasha Lyonne in the lead role, has been renewed for a second season. The new season will have eight episodes. In the show, Lyonne plays Nadia, a young software engineer, who is on a journey to be the guest of honour at a party in New York City. But she gets caught in a mysterious loop as she repeatedly attends the same event and dies at the end of the night each time – only to awaken the next day unharmed as if nothing had happened. Also Read – Pollution makes you more aggressiveIn addition to starring, Lyonne co-created the show with ‘Saturday Night Live’ alum Amy Poehler and Leslye Headland. Lyonne, who also serves as a writer and director for the Netflix original series announced the show’s renewal at the CODE Conference in Arizona, reported Variety. Lyonne appeared in a brief Twitter video on the show’s official account, announcing the renewal. “Hey, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson here, hanging out at the gym, working out. What’s going on with you?” she joked, speaking to a bathroom mirror. “Season 2. Thank you!” “Did you get the news? ‘Cause you’re about to die. Season 2 of #RussianDoll is coming soon,” the video was captioned. The first season of the show, which premiered on February 1, 2019, was critically-acclaimed.last_img read more

Bihar Assembly adjourned as Opposition demands resignation of Health Minister

first_imgPatna: Bihar Assembly was adjourned on Tuesday as the opposition parties shouted slogans demanding the resignation of Health minister Mangal Pandey over the deaths of more than 150 children due to acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) in the state. As the House assembled at 11 am for its business, RJD leader Lalit Yadav demanded the resignation of the Health minister holding him responsible for children deaths in Muzaffarpur and other parts of the state due to AES. Speaker Vijay Kumar Choudhary asked the opposition leaders that the House had a debate on the serious issue on Monday, followed by the state government’s reply on the issue. Choudhary said that he had allowed the adjournment motion on the important issue of children’s deaths from AES but it seemed that you (opposition MLAs) are adamant on the resignation of the minister by disrupting the House proceedings. The opposition MLAs did not paid heed to the Speaker’s request to let the House carry out it’s normal business of Question Hour and rushed to the well of the House raising slogans against Health minister Mangal Pandey and demanding his resignation. Parliamentary Affairs minister Shravan Kumar also said that the state government gave the reply after the debate on Monday. Health minister and Chief minister also spoke during government’s reply on Monday and now they (opposition) just want disrupt the proceedings of the House and don’t want to let the members raise the issues of public importance. They should go to their chair and raise the issue in the zero hour, Kumar said but commotion continued in the House for 15 minutes after which the Speaker adjourned the House till 2 PM (post lunch session).last_img read more

Solskjaer dismisses Paul Pogba speculation as agents talking

first_imgPerth: Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Wednesday dismissed speculation that Paul Pogba is to leave Old Trafford, saying there had been “no bids” for the midfielder and “agents talk all the time”. The 26-year-old World Cup-winner’s future has overshadowed United’s pre-season tour since they arrived in Perth on Monday, with Real Madrid and Juventus rumoured as possible destinations. Mino Raiola, Pogba’s agent, told UK radio station talkSPORT on Tuesday that “everyone knows the willingness of Paul to move on”. Also Read – Dhoni, Paes spotted playing football togetherBut Solskjaer, who took the reins from Jose Mourinho last December, said it was “business as usual” and warned the club were under no pressure to offload Pogba, or anyone else. “There are no bids for our players. Agents talk all the time. We are Manchester United, we don’t have to sell players,” he said at a press conference after training ahead of matches in the Western Australia city against Perth Glory on Saturday and Leed United on Tuesday. “When you’re at Manchester United you expect all these things to pop up in the summer.” Footage on social media Tuesday suggested Pogba and teammate Jesse Lingard had clashed on the trip, but Solskjaer said there had been no dust-up and that the Frenchman had been on the end of unfair press treatment. “With Paul, it looks like it’s going to be a media, I don’t want to call it, but it’s an agenda against Paul,” he said.last_img read more

Nations business sentiment crashes to lowest in 3 years

first_imgNew Delhi: Business sentiment in India fell to its lowest level since June 2016, as companies were worried over a slowing economy, government policies and water shortage, a survey said Monday. According to the IHS Markit India Business Outlook, predictions of softer activity growth underpin the downward revisions of profit outlook, subdued hiring plans and relatively muted capital expenditure.The net balance of private sector companies foreseeing output growth in the year ahead fell from 18 per cent in February to 15 per cent in June — this matches the data of June 2016, and also October 2009 when aggregate figures became available. Also Read – Maruti cuts production for 8th straight month in Sep”June sees business sentiment in India fall to the joint lowest level since comparable data became available in 2009,” the survey said. The survey said water shortages, public policies and weak sales have restricted sentiment in June. Companies are also concerned about potential rupee depreciation pushing prices for imported materials upwards, lack of skilled labour, likely tax hikes, financial difficulties and customers increasingly demanding discounts. Also Read – Ensure strict implementation on ban of import of e-cigarettes: revenue to Customs”As seen across emerging markets, business sentiment in India is down in June, dampened by worries about the sustainability of the economic upturn, water shortages, public policies and regulation,” said Pollyanna De Lima, principal economist at IHS Markit. However, hopes of pro-business government policies and a better financial flow continue to underpin optimism towards output and profitability growth in the year ahead. On the employment front, amid predictions of a pick-up in demand, companies plan to expand capacity by hiring additional workers. “As such, firms plan to expand capacities by taking on additional workers, though sentiment for all measures of expenditure are anaemic,” Lima said. The Global Business Outlook Survey for worldwide manufacturing and services is produced by IHS Markit and is based on a survey of around 12,000 manufacturers and service providers that are asked to give their thoughts on future business conditions. The report is produced on a tri-annual basis, with data collected in February, June and October. The latest survey was conducted between June 12 and 26. Last week IHS Markit said in a report that India will this year overtake the UK to become the world’s fifth biggest economy, and is poised to surpass Japan to be the third largest in 2025. Following the re-election of the BJP government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a second term of office in May 2019, the Finance Ministry has published an economic roadmap to 2025 in its latest annual Economic Survey. The key goal is to transform India from a USD 3 trillion economy in 2019 to a USD 5 trillion economy by 2025, lifting India into the ranks of the world’s upper-middle-income countries, it said. “IHS Markit estimates that India will overtake the UK to become the world’s fifth largest economy in 2019, and forecasts that Indian GDP will reach USD 5.9 trillion in 2025, surpassing Japanese GDP to make India the world’s third-largest economy,” the report said. Also, the size of the Indian consumer market is forecast to increase from USD 1.9 trillion in 2019 to USD 3.6 trillion by 2025. “As India continues to ascend in the rankings of the world’s largest economies, its contribution to global GDP growth momentum will also increase. As the size of its consumer market continues to grow at a rapid pace, India will also play an increasingly important role as one of the Asia-Pacific region’s major economic growth engines, helping to drive Asian regional trade and investment flows,” IHS said. But to achieve this, the country’s new economic roadmap highlights the importance of creating a virtuous cycle of investment, savings and exports in order to sustain rapid economic growth over the next five years. The role of investment is seen as a critical enabler for innovation, rapid productivity growth and new technology, helping to boost jobs growth.last_img read more

Air pollution increases hypertension in women

first_imgExposure to higher levels of indoor air pollution in India is associated with an increased risk of hypertension among women, according to a study. Researchers studied the association in India, where burdens of air pollution and hypertension are projected to increase. The results show that women exposed to higher levels of air pollution at home have a higher hypertension prevalence. The study, published in the journal Epidemiology, studied 5,531 adults from 28 peri-urban villages near Hyderabad city. Also Read – An income drop can harm brainThe researchers measured systolic and diastolic blood pressure of participants and estimated their annual residential exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and black carbon. The participants also answered a survey to determine socio-economic status, lifestyle and household characteristics, including the type of cooking fuel generally used. All study participants were exposed to fine particulate matter levels above the 10 microgrammes per cubic metre limit recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). Also Read – Shallu Jindal honoured with Mahatma AwardAverage exposure to PM2.5 in this study was 33 microgrammes per cubic metre. Based on the blood pressure measurements, almost half of participants (46 per cent) were identified as hypertensive, with high proportions of participants with undiagnosed and untreated hypertension. The results show that an increase of one microgramme per cubic metre in PM2.5 exposure was associated with a four per cent increase in hypertension prevalence in women, as well as a higher systolic and diastolic blood pressure – an increase of 1,4 millimetres of mercury (mmHg) and 0.87 mmHg, respectively. In men, the association observed was weaker, researchers said. “Women spend most of their time near their households in this study area – 83 per cent of their daily time as compared to 57 per cent for men, which could explain why we observe a stronger association in women than in men,” said Ariadna Curto, first author of the study. The study indicates that long-term exposure to particulate matter is associated with a higher prevalence of hypertension, regardless of the type of fuel used for cooking. “Other studies have found that women that cook with solid fuels such as biomass tend to have higher blood pressure than those using clean fuels, although our data is not powered enough to support this,” Curto said. “Our study suggests that the effects of outdoor air pollution on cardiovascular health may be independent from those of indoor air pollution,” she said. “In the light of our lack of association with black carbon, it is important to keep in mind that this is a peri-urban area, where the sources and chemical makeup of air pollution differ to urban areas mostly dominated by traffic sources,” Curto said. Cathryn Tonne, the study coordinator, said that the mechanisms by which air pollution could contribute to high blood pressure “include inflammation and oxidative stress, which may lead to changes in arterial function.” “Although further epidemiological evidence is needed to confirm our findings, ideally through longitudinal studies, these data suggest that public policies aimed at reducing air pollution will greatly benefit cardiovascular health,” said Tonne.last_img read more

BJP has done nothing for unauthorised colonies except insult residents AAP

first_imgNEW DELHI: The BJP has done nothing for the residents of unauthorised colonies except insult them, Delhi Minister Gopal Rai said on Thursday, after the saffron party alleged that the AAP government was ‘fooling’ the people on the issue. The labour minister also sought to know from the BJP what it had done to regularise such colonies when it was in power from 1993 to 1998. Rai’s remark came after senior BJP leader Vijay Goel, during a protest on Thursday at Jantar Mantar, accused Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of “misleading” the people on regularisation of unauthorised colonies. It is for the first time in its history that the BJP has held a dharna for the residents of unauthorised colonies. Otherwise, it has only insulted the people of such colonies,” Rai said. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murder”In 1993, the BJP came to power in Delhi and had three chief ministers within its five-year term. I want to ask what did it do then for the regularisation of unauthorised colonies? Nothing,” he said. The BJP should leave the work of unauthorised colonies to the AAP and the Kejriwal government, Rai said, asking the saffron party to do two important tasks — provide safety and ensure cleanliness in the national capital. The Delhi Police comes under the Ministry of Home Affairs and mayors of all three municipal corporations in the city are from the BJP. During the protest, which was also attended by Lok Sabha MPs Hans Raj Hans and Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma, Goel attacked the AAP and the Congress, saying, both the parties did nothing to regularise unauthorised colonies during their respective tenures.last_img read more

Wipro Microsoft to invest in Bengal CM

first_imgKolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said IT giants Wipro and Microsoft have agreed to invest in the state and added that Wipro would be allocated 50 acres of land at the Silicon Valley IT hub in New Town here, while Microsoft would start e-commerce platforms in the state.She made the announcement while addressing a programme on “Save Green, Stay Clean” at Nazrul Mancha on Thursday afternoon. Microsoft India will introduce two projects — ‘Sangam’ and ‘ReWeave’ in which an e-commerce platform will be created that will connect six lakh weavers of the state. The tech major had announced the launch of a new e-commerce platform for handloom weavers under its ‘Project ReWeave’, as part of its philanthropic initiative. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details”This project will begin from Nadia district and help spur weavers’ income by 25 percent,” Banerjee said. The platform would help artisans connect directly with buyers, enabling them to gain technical support and modern training, helping them to reach out to newer customers and markets, she added. Microsoft will undertake the ‘Project Sangam’ here which seeks to empower municipal functionaries to run community training courses. Besides, the company, in association with the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), has curated a special curriculum in ‘CAD and Colour for Handloom Weaving’ to provide digital training in handloom design. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from ThursdayIT giant Infosys, which is setting up its office on 50-acre land, has completed construction of the boundary wall. Infosys officials held several rounds of talks with their counterpart in the New Town Kolkata Development Authority (NKDA). The firm has already obtained clearance from the Fire and Emergency Services department and the Environment department and is going to submit the plan for the proposed building to the NKDA. Senior Infosys officials who had attended the inauguration of the Silicon Valley project told in presence of the Chief Minister that the office building they are going to construct will be a landmark building in New Town and Kolkata. Banerjee maintained that the Silicon Valley in New Town is coming up on 200 acre of land. She thanked the state It department for its relentless efforts to make Bengal surge ahead in the field of Information Technology. Mamata Banerjee has said over and again that she is keen to project Bengal as an important IT hub worldwide. She has urged the IT professionals from Bengal who are working in other states and abroad to come back to their state and start work here. The Nabadiganta Industrial Township Authority (NDITA) has taken up a slew of measures to upgrade traffic management in Sector V, the state’s biggest IT hub.last_img read more

Govt hikes commission of ration dealers in a bid to ensure POS

first_imgKolkata: The state government is increasing the commission of the ration dealers to encourage them for installing POS machines in the ration shops across the state.The state Food and Supplies department has already got the nod of the state Finance department to increase the commission of the dealers from Rs 54 per quintal to Rs 70. A section of the ration dealers, however, have demanded Rs 250 as commission. Some dealers have been organising protests demanding hike of commission for the last one month. The ration dealers under the aegis of the Centre are entitled to get a commission of Rs 70 a quintal, half of which is to be paid by the state. The state pays Rs 16 to the ration distributors, with the foodgrains reaching the dealers through the distributors in Bengal. The commission of the distributors will, however, remain the same. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaIt may be mentioned that the Centre has recently written to the state Food department, threatening to stop subsidy for food grains if the POS machines are not installed. The POS machines in the ration shops will not only prevent fleecing of customers by a section of shop owners, but will also facilitate people in availing multipurpose facilities like purchase of railway tickets, bus tickets for distant travel, deposit of LIC premium and several others. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highway”We have already installed such machines at 366 ration shops in six districts as a pilot project and the venture has proved to be successful. We will be installing similar facilities in all the 21,000 ration shops across the state,” a senior official of the Food department said. The department has already organised training programmes across the state for equipping the dealers in handling POS machines. There are only a few districts where the training is still going on. The POS machines will be able to detect fraudulent practices like giving less quantity of food grains to customers or dealing in inferior stuff which is not actually supplied by the department. “It will serve the dual objective of quality as well as quantity control,” the official added.last_img read more

Most Indians feel napping may improve work productivity

first_imgA new survey found that most Indians felt napping at work might improve productivity, adding that a nap room could contribute towards better workflow. For the results, an online sleep solutions start-up, conducted a nation-wide survey to emphasise the importance of sleep wellness in the workplace. The survey, conducted with over 1,500 respondents, showed that a 70 per cent of people did not have a nap room at their workplaces and 86 per cent of the respondents confirmed that a nap room would definitely help improve overall productivity at work. The research revealed that 41 per cent of the people surveyed suffered from irregular sleep patterns because of work-related stress and working late at night. “Given the rising sleep-related issues in our country, we felt it was imperative for us to take action and encourage corporates and employees to rally for nap rooms at their workspaces,” said the researchers. The survey also found that constant state of work anxiety hampered 31 per cent people’s sleep at night, while almost 20 per cent respondents felt sleepy at work all the time and 51 per cent were drowsy most of the time. The survey validated this, by revealing that 80 per cent of people felt sleepy at work one to three days a week. The research shows that one in four respondents felt commuting to work hampered their sleep patterns the most. While coffee or tea continued to be the popular choices to ward off sleep, there seemed to be a rising awareness towards the need for an active lifestyle. According to the survey, 33 per cent of people wanted their companies to get a nap room to increase focus on work wellness Research has found that taking a nap for 20-30 minutes increases short term alertness among people. While nutrition and exercise are popular work wellness themes around the world, nap room installation can ensure that sleep its due credit in companies’ employee wellness programmes. In light of these findings, the survey conducted by an online sleep solutions start-up, aims to highlight the positive impact of sleep wellness in employees’ health, well-being and productivity at work.last_img read more

NCLAT refuses interim relief to BSR Associates Deloitte in ILFS case

first_imgNew Delhi: The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) on Tuesday declined to give any interim relief to auditing firms Deloitte Haskins & Sells LLP and B S R Associates LLP with regard to a ban imposed on them in the IL&FS case. The NCLT Mumbai will continue its scheduled hearing in the case of their alleged role in the IL&FS fraud matter, a three-member bench headed by Chairperson Justice S J Mukhopadhaya said. The NCLAT, however, said that the NCLT will not pass any final order till its next hearing on September 20. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalListing the matter for September 20, the NCLAT also issued a notice to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs to file its reply within two weeks. The NCLAT was hearing appeals filed by Deloitte and BSR against the order of the Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), which on August 9, rejected their pleas of challenging its jurisdiction to ban them from the business for five years for their omissions and commissions in the IL&FS Group scam. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostThe NCLT will hear the matter on September 5. The court had allowed the corporate affairs ministry to prosecute them along with 21 others in the same case, though the implementation of the same has been stayed after they sought time to challenge the order at the appellate tribunal NCLAT. The ministry in June moved NCLT seeking a five-year ban on these auditors in the IL&FS fraud case. The auditors — the local arm of the England-based Deloitte Haskins & Sells, which is one of the big four accounting firms, and BSR & Associates, which is the local affiliate of another big four, the US-based KPMG — had challenged the jurisdiction of the NCLT to ban them under Sec 140(5) of Company’s Act. They had challenged the jurisdiction of the NCLT to ban them, saying section 140(5) of the Companies Act pertains to auditors who are still auditing the company in question while they have already resigned from the service and thus cannot be banned under the given provisions. While Deloitte had stopped auditing IL&FS Group, which owes over Rs 95,000 crore to lenders and other financial institutions, by the end of FY2017-18, BSR was the statutory auditor of IL&FS Financial Services (IFIN) and resigned only in June this year-nine months after the company was sent to the bankruptcy court. The Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) in its investigation found them guilty of painting a rosy picture of IFIN despite being aware of the poor financial health of the company, triggering the ministry to seek ban on the auditors.last_img read more

Indian women hockey team beat Japan 21 to win Olympic Test event

first_imgTokyo (Japan): The Indian women hockey team won the Olympic Test event with Navjot Kaur and Lalremsiami leading the side to a 2-1 win over Japan in the final, here on Wednesday. Navjot Kaur (11th minute) opened the scoring to put India ahead but the lead was neutralised within a minute as Minami Shimizu (12′) scored for the hosts. Lalremsiami (33′) struck the winning goal for India. India dominated the first 10 minutes, and finally managed to find the breakthrough when Forward Navjot kept her nerves under pressure and produced a fine finish in front of the goal. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over ChandigarhHowever, the next minute saw Japan strike back immediately with a well-crafted field goal which was put into the back of the net by Shimizu to make it 1-1. The second quarter saw both the teams focus on their defensive structure and tread carefully in the attacking third. India had a few chances in the first few minutes, with the likes of Vandana Katariya and Navjot combining well on the attacking front, but could not produce a goal-scoring opportunity. Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced laterJapan also tried to create some opportunities of their own, with goalscorer Shimizu coming close to scoring her second of the match, but India defended well. It was an aggressive start from the Indian team after the half-time break as they won themselves a penalty corner in the 33rd minute. India’s prolific drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur stepped up to take the execution, but her shot was saved by the Japanese Goalkeeper Megumi Kageyama. However, the rebound fell to India’s young Forward Lalremsiami, who did not make a mistake in putting the ball into the back of the net to make it 2-1 for India. It was a huge blow to the hosts who were finding it difficult to cope up with India’s rhythm, but after some tough battles in the midfield, the Japanese team earned themselves back-to-back penalty corners in the 42nd minute. However, India’s defense was up to the task, and made sure that they protected their lead. India also had a penalty corner in the 45th minute, but could not extend their lead. The first chance of the last quarter came India’s way but Kageyama made a diving save. Japan too got back-to-back penalty corners but Indian Goalkeeper Savita made a great save on the second attempt to make sure that India saw out a 2-1 win.last_img read more

Hong Kong protesters expected to defy rally ban

first_imgHong Kong: Pro-democracy protesters were expected to take to the streets of Hong Kong on Saturday in defiance of a police ban on a major rally, a day after several leading activists and lawmakers were arrested in a sweeping crackdown. The demonstration had been due to mark the fifth anniversary of Beijing’s rejection of a call for universal suffrage in the semi-autonomous city, sparking the 79-day Umbrella Movement in 2014. Police banned Saturday’s rally on security grounds after last weekend saw some of the most violent clashes in three months of political turmoil, but still warned residents to expect “severe disruption”. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from US The warning came after at least five high-profile activists and three lawmakers were arrested one after the other on Friday on accusations linked to the protests, in a sweep that lasted late into the night. Two of the Umbrella Movement’s leaders, Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow — both still well-regarded among the city’s youth — were arrested in early morning swoops and appeared later in court accused of “inciting others to take part in unauthorised assembly” among other charges. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential polls Wong railed against the “chilling effect” of the round-up of opponents of Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed government, but vowed to continue fighting. Authorities are “trying to create white terror” to scare people away from participating in the movement, he said — using a phrase that has gained traction among protesters accusing the government of using harassment to suppress dissent. The European Union’s diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said the developments were “extremely worrying”. And US President Donald Trump said Washington’s economic pressure on China was responsible for preventing the authorities from carrying out a harsher crackdown against demonstrators. Amnesty International decried the “ludicrous dawn swoops”, describing them as “scare tactics straight out of Beijing’s playbook”. Despite organisers of the banned march cancelling Saturday’s rally, protesters have said they will still take to the streets. “The mass arrests yesterday were an obvious tactic to scare us off. Instead, (the government) lures us to come out today and then they can start their second round of mass arrest,” said a protester online. As demonstrators were arranging how to sidestep the ban, some called for mass “shopping trips”, while a YouTuber with 800,000 followers called a fan meeting. However, in a blow to those efforts, LIHKG, the Reddit-like forum used by protesters to communicate, reported via Twitter that its app had suffered the “largest attack it has ever seen”. The demonstrators, who have earned a reputation for their creativity, have also said they will hold small religious gatherings, which do not require permission for groups of up to 30 people, for the “sinners of Hong Kong”. A senior police official said the force remained braced for the possibility of renewed clashes with a hardcore minority of the mainly student protesters. Friday saw rolling arrests of leading pro-democracy voices, including three members of the city’s parliament — Cheng Chung-tai, Au Nok-hin and Jeremy Tam. Cheng’s arrest was announced by his Civic Passion party, while police confirmed a 35-year-old man surnamed Cheng had been held over “conspiracy to cause criminal damage” linked to the storming of the city’s parliament in July. Police confirmed the arrests of lawmakers Au and Tam for their roles in “obstructing” officers when riot police cleared protesters from the streets of the densely populated Mong Kok neighbourhood on July 7-8. Au is also accused of assaulting a police officer. Pro-democracy campaigner Rick Hui — a district councillor — and former student leader Althea Suen were also arrested separately on Friday, while vocal independence campaigner Andy Chan was detained at Hong Kong’s airport. Police spokesperson John Tse denied the slew of arrests were timed specifically to de-fang the weekend’s protests. More than 900 people have been arrested since June in connection with protests, which were sparked by opposition to a now shelved bill allowing extraditions to mainland China that quickly morphed into wider calls for democracy. Hong Kong’s crisis-hit government has refused to back down over the protests, which have seen millions march peacefully through the streets but also hardcore groups of radical protesters hurl bricks and petrol bombs at police armed with tear gas and rubber bullets. The violence has damaged Hong Kong’s reputation for stability and prosperity. China has responded with a campaign of intimidation. State media on Friday reported that fresh military anti-riot drills were held across the border in Shenzhen.last_img read more

Economic downturn

first_imgCan’t believe it’s September already! Eight months have swiftly passed us by and before you knew it, we are staring at the last quarter of the calendar year. I have always quite liked September. It’s that slightly under-appreciated month of the year. Can’t complain too much about it like in the summer months but can’t rejoice too much either, with the end of the year merry-making months holding on to their throne of importance. But I have always liked the understated month of September. September brings with it a melange of religious festivals – Ganesh Chaturthi, Hartalika Teej, Onam, Muharram, etc. Also Read – A special kind of bondSeptember also signals the turn of the season. Along with the cough, cold and viral fevers come some thundershowers and some clear azure skies pitted with just the right amount of cotton candy clouds. Ask any Bengali and she/he’ll take one look at the blue sky and another at the sprouting perennial grass, saccharum spontaneum (popularly called ‘kaash’), and proclaim, Ma aaschen! Indeed, September is the precursor, and sometimes even host, to the famous Durga Puja. With September, it is safe to say that the festive spirit well and truly starts in India as we tease ourselves with little celebrations while prepping for the big ones such as Diwali and New Year’s Eve. But for the third time in a row, the festive mood is slated to be a damp squib. Also Read – Insider threat managementIndia has gone from the scare of an economic slowdown to being smack in the middle of it. The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) is at 5 per cent in the first quarter this fiscal; a staggering 6-year low. Compare that to an 8 per cent growth in the same period in the last financial year. The culprits of this situation? Low consumer spending and poor corporate investment. Consumer demand was so muted in the first quarter that if you look at the gross value added (GVA) i.e., GDP minus taxes, it paints an eerie picture of economic activity in the country. The GVA was 7.7 per cent in April-June 2018 while in the same period this year, it plunged to 4.9 per cent. The manufacturing sector, one of the strongest indicators of economic activity, grew only 0.6 per cent in April-June 2019 versus 12.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2018. No wonder then that auto inventory is piling up, auto majors are opting to stop production for a few days and have also been shutting down factories, laying off contractual workers. Apparently, 3.5 lakh people in the auto sector have lost jobs since April. It’s not just the auto sector that has been burnt by the economic downturn. India’s household biscuit brand, Parle G, is looking to fire over 10,000 workers. A high rate of GST on biscuits costing as low as Rs 5 did the company in. More job losses are sure to follow in other sectors. So, who indeed are the real culprits of this economic slowdown? Let’s start with Culprit No. 1: Demonetisation. As was predicted by economists, the demonetisation drive would make India lose 1-2 per cent of GDP. At the cost of turning the country corruption and tax evasion-free (there was really no other economic reason for demonetisation – political, yes but no economic reason), the currency ban almost wiped out the disorganised sector. Not surprising that there is a “demon” in demonetisation. Culprit No. 2: Goods and Services Tax (GST). The ad hoc implementation of GST has gravely harmed the industry. Take Parle G’s case for instance. And the confusion that ensued due to tedious GST compliances has created another mess for the government. Forget about accruing more tax, only 15 per cent of taxpayers have filed annual GST returns citing the complexity of forms. The state of the economy is serious but it’s not on life-support yet. Simplification of GST returns, lowering of GST tax rates, and additional sops to certain sectors can immediately help alleviate the crisis. The government must stop spooking foreign and domestic investors with higher surcharge as they pump blood into the economy. But only long-term policies with longevity will steer the economy towards the right course. Instead of witch-hunts such as ‘angel tax’, the government must simplify compliance as well as regulation. The economy must be urgently resuscitated. (The writer is an author and media entrepreneur. The views expressed are strictly personal)last_img read more

DefExpo in Lucknow will be shining example for similar events in future

first_imgNew Delhi: The next edition of India’s mega defence exhibition, the DefExpo, to be held in Lucknow in February, will be better than the previous chapters of biennial event, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Monday.The defence minister held a high-level meeting to review preparations for the 11th edition of the DefExpo. The meeting was attended by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar, Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat, Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh and several top officials of the Defence Ministry. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’Officials said the exhibition will highlight emergence of Uttar Pradesh as an attractive destination for investment in the defence sector. In his remarks, Adityanath said a land bank of 3,000 acres is available for companies desirous of investing in Uttar Pradesh. It will be for the first time Lucknow will host the exhibition in which delegates of a number of leading countries will participate. It will be held from February 5-8. “The next edition of DefExpo will be different from earlier editions. It will be better, it will be a shining example for such events in future,” Singh said in his opening remarks at the meeting. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KHe said the DefExpo would give a major boost to investments for the defence corridor in Uttar Pradesh. He recalled that during his recent visit to South Korea, several Korean companies had expressed interest in investing in the state. Nearly 300 acres land has already been identified by the UP government for the event. The theme of the DefExpo will be ‘India: the emerging defence manufacturing hub’ and it will be focused on ‘digital transformation of defence’.last_img read more

Uniformly informed

first_imgIn a democratic system, the first duties of the elected political executive are governing the nation to bring about the development of all and ensuring the protection of citizens from internal and external threats. The political leadership exercises the sovereign power to this end through the bureaucratic machinery. This includes the police which is headed by officers of All India and Central Services who were recruited, trained and placed in various wings of the government to implement the policies flowing from the top. Years ago, a policy decision of great administrative value was taken by the Centre to put the newly inducted officers of all these services together for a short ‘Foundation Course’ at what is now the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) in Mussoorie. This was done before they dispersed to join the establishments of their respective services at other places for full-length specialised training. Also Read – A special kind of bondThe foundation course had the merit of letting all probationers know each other and putting them on a common grid of understanding of the great cause of national governance that they were going to share in their long years of public service ahead. It would lay the turf for assured cooperation among them whenever they would have an occasion to work together in future to carry the mission of governance forward. In 1960, the year of my joining the IPS, I could see the benefit of that participation in my own experience. A long time later when I became the Director of the Intelligence Bureau, I interacted with the Secretaries at the Centre and the Chief Secretaries in the states whom I had known in Mussoorie. This made the sharing of information and thought processes with them on matters of national importance extremely smooth. All of this cooperation resulted from an understanding that we were all together in serving a higher cause. Also Read – Insider threat managementToday, India is grappling with the challenge of pursuing economic growth of a nation of 1.3 billion people spread across far corners of the vast country and placed in uneven conditions of development. The officers of the Civil Services on whom falls the responsibility of implementing the development policies of the Centre are finding it easier to coordinate the efforts that cut across various ministries and institutions. In some part, this may be because there are no psychological barriers amongst them. In the domain of development, they had enough shared experiences to put their heads together in a meaningful way. They had knowledge of various facets of what constitutes development – financial, agriculture, infrastructure, forestry, public health and so on. The lessons of the foundation course definitely helped in all of this. While the orientation of Civil Services to tasks of development is adequate, the national scene points to the need for an awareness program for all Civil Services. Security for all is also the concern for all and should not be deemed to be something relegated completely to the care of the national security body and specialised agencies besides the Police. Warren Christopher, the then US Secretary of State, famously said in 1993 that ‘national security was inseparable from economic security’ and today it is known that the targets of a ‘proxy war’ include economic assets and the industrial life-line. Naturally, damaging these weakened the opponent far more effectively than an open war would do. Those handling governance at decision-making levels have to have an understanding of the economic dimensions of national security. For all of this, it becomes the need of the hour that senior officials across the spectrum of governance, who are adept at handling development, should also be fully informed of the national security imperatives that the governance had to reckon with. A little exposure to the state of affairs on the national security front and the developments of strategic value happening in the world outside in an early stage of their training might prove quite rewarding for them. In the age of knowledge, that ignorance is not bliss and an awareness of the environment in which the national government responds to the call of both development and security would be a great asset. A short module of discussion on matters related to national security in the Foundation Course for All India and Central Services would go a long way in providing a minimal basic orientation on the subject that would remain with the senior officers for the future and contribute to a sound decision making by them in later years. Potential subjects that would qualify for being included in the presentations by professionals and strategic analysts would include National Security Scenario & Policy Responses, Terrorism & Maoism, Disaster Management, Dimensions of Drug Traffic and India’s National Security Set Up & Intelligence Agencies. Every functionary of the government and even the citizens at large ought to be aware of their responsibility towards safeguarding national security. We are in an era of the covert offensive; an open external attack of the enemy is not the only threat to the nation. Our defence forces are always in a state of readiness to deal with open warfare. In the Indian context, the reality of a proxy war being conducted by a hostile neighbour underscores the importance of our counter-intelligence capabilities that security is all about. Both defence and security have to work together to produce a suitable response. Kashmir has been a testing ground for the success of Intelligence based operations of the army and paramilitary forces. The challenge here is that of neutralising the infiltrated terrorist organisations without collateral damage. Those holding senior positions in the civil side of the government can benefit from early exposure to an orientation program on the lines suggested above.(The author is a former Director Intelligence Bureau. The views expressed are strictly personal)last_img read more

Two men dead following separate incidents in Montreal

first_imgMONTREAL – Montreal police are investigating the city’s ninth and 10th homicides of the year in different neighbourhoods.One victim died in hospital Wednesday after being stabbed during an altercation late Tuesday evening between several people at a downtown intersection (Sainte-Catherine and Mackay streets).Police say the 23-year-old man was found a short distance away from the scene of the fight.Police spokesman Raphael Bergeron says two men were detained but there was no immediate word on charges.A second man was shot and killed following a bar fight in the city’s west end that spilled into a parking lot (at Saint-Jacques St. and Cavendish Blvd.).No arrests have been made in that death but police were reportedly seeking two possible suspects. No names have been released.last_img read more

Police force hopes kids can convince people not to drink and drive

first_imgA Toronto-area police force is hoping friends of three children killed by an impaired driver can persuade people not to drink and drive.Nine-year-old Daniel Neville-Lake, his five-year-old brother Harrison, their two-year-old sister Milly and the children’s 65-year-old grandfather, Gary Neville, died after the van they were in was hit by a speeding SUV driven by Marco Muzzo.Const. Andy Pattenden says he’s “astonished” the number of impaired driving-related charges laid by York regional police hasn’t dropped since the September 2015 crash in Vaughan, Ont., and the high profile court case that followed.York regional police say they asked friends of the Neville-Lakes to share how impaired driving has impacted them.The children drew pictures, which police have posted on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #NotOneMore, to illustrate their grief.Carmine said impaired driving cost him his “bestest” friend, while Noah — who used to play basketball with Daniel — said stepping on the court won’t be the same thanks to an impaired driver.Police say Carmine — whose drawing shows an equation of alcohol plus a car equals a tombstone — still has a card that he received from Daniel on his ninth birthday.Hanging on Carmine’s wall, it reads: “To Carmine, you are the bestest friend that I ever had. From, Daniel.”Police say Carmine had a difficult time going to school last September knowing his friend wouldn’t be there.Noah’s drawing shows a solitary child on a basketball court and says “playing basketball will never be the same without my friend Daniel Neville-Lake — all because of a drunk driver.”“Noah had a hard time celebrating his 10th birthday,” police said.On Facebook, Jennifer Neville-Lake noted July 8 would have been her son Harry’s seventh birthday and shared a picture drawn by one of his friends.“My first BFF is gone,” reads the caption on the girl’s drawing.“Her mom writes ‘My daughter and Harry met in kindergarten,’” Neville-Lake states in the post.Muzzo was sentenced to 10 years in prison after a judge said he must be held accountable for the irreversible suffering he’d caused.Muzzo had already accrued a lengthy record of driving infractions — many of them for speeding — when he made the fateful decision to drink and drive after returning home from a trip to Miami, said Superior Court Justice Michelle Fuerst.Outside the courthouse following the sentencing, Jennifer Neville-Lake said her family was a tragic reminder of the consequences of drinking and driving.“Please, keep in mind: When you choose to drink and drive, you’re hurting other families, you’re killing someone else’s babies, like mine were killed,” she said.Pattenden said at a press conference Friday in Richmond Hill, Ont., that more than 700 impaired driving-related charges have been laid in York Region so far this year, noting that down “a little bit” from last year.“I’m astonished the numbers have not gone down,” he said. “We all watched as Jennifer poured her heart out at the end of every one of those court appearances.”Pattenden said he thought with all the publicity it would have had an impact, especially in York Region, “but it doesn’t seem to have.”“I just don’t know that people are putting themselves in that headspace that after they’ve had a few drinks and get into a car that they may be the next one to kill a family,” he said.“Maybe if the police aren’t going to convince you, maybe these young kids here and the tragedies that they’ve gone through and their feelings will convince you.”last_img read more

Intense winter storm expected to bring snow high winds to Maritimes

first_imgHALIFAX – An intense storm is expected to bring another blast of winter to the Maritimes this week.Environment Canada says a low pressure system is forecast to develop east of Cape Hatteras today and intensify as it tracks northeastward toward the Maritimes on Tuesday.Winter storm warnings and watches have been issued for most of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.Up to 10 centimetres of snow is expected by Tuesday evening before changing to rain in some areas.As well, the national weather forecaster is warning that winds could gust up to 90 km/h, and blowing and drifting snow could cause power outages.A special weather statement has been issued for the Atlantic coastline of Nova Scotia, with the potential for storm surge and damaging waves Tuesday night into Wednesday.last_img read more