PM expresses shock, sadness over US gurudwara shooting

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday expressed shock and sadness at the loss of lives and injuries to people in the shooting incident at a gurudwara in Wisconsin in the United States, in which six people were killed during Sunday morning prayers.

Six killed in US gurudwara shooting

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today expressed shock and sadness at the loss of lives and injuries to people in the shooting incident at a gurudwara in Wisconsin in the United States, in which six people were killed during Sunday morning prayers.

“I am deeply shocked and saddened to learn of the shooting incident that has resulted in the loss of precious lives and injuries to devotees attending a prayer service at a gurudwara in Wisconsin, U.S.A.," Dr Singh said.
"That this senseless act of violence should be targeted at a place of religious worship is particularly painful. I send my deepest condolences to the families that have been bereaved in this incident. Our thoughts are with them in this moment of their grief," he said.
"India stands in solidarity with all the peace-loving Americans who have condemned this violence. We welcome the U.S. President's statement on the tragic incident. We hope that the authorities will reach out to the grieving families and ensure conditions that such violent acts are not repeated in the future," he added.
The six people were killed and several others suffered injuries in the attack that was carried out by at least one gunman, who was also shot dead, police said.

PM stresses need to revive investor sentiment, address exchange rate, capital flow issues

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday stressed the need to work towards reviving investor sentiment, both domestic and international, and address issues related to the slide in the exchange rate of the rupee and drying up of capital flows


Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today stressed the need to work towards reviving investor sentiment, both domestic and international, and address issues related to the slide in the exchange rate of the rupee and drying up of capital flows

At a meeting with officials of the Ministry of Finance after taking over the portfolio, Dr Singh said the country was passing through challenging times economically.
"The growth rate has taken a dip; the industrial performance is not satisfactory; things are not rosy on the investment front; inflation continues to be a problem," he said.
"On the external front, I am concerned about the way the exchange rate is going. Investor sentiment is down and capital flows are drying up," he said.
"There are some external reasons and we need to work towards making our country resilient in meeting these external challenges. However, there are many domestic reasons as well. We need to address these quickly. We need to work to get the economy going again and restart the India growth story. 
"In the short run, we need to revive investor sentiment, both domestic and international," he said.
Dr Singh has decided to keep the Finance portfolio with himself after Mr Pranab Mukherjee resigned as Finance Minister yesterday to contest the July 19 election for the office of the President as a candidate of the ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and several other parties.
He said there have been many factors that have contributed to the general negative mood in the country.
"There are problems on the tax front which need to be addressed. On the financial sector side, we need to see how we can improve matters. There are issues about the mutual funds industry which need to be resolved. The insurance sector has seen a slowing down which is not normal in a country with large unmet insurance needs. This needs to be looked into. I would like you all to work as a team on all these matters. There are some issues we must address in the short run and some in the long run. I am sure you will be able to work on both fronts," he said.
Dr Singh, who had served as Finance Minister during 1991-96, when he had launched the economic reforms, told the officials that, apart from a brief spell in 2008, he had been away from the details and nitty-gritty of Finance for a long time.
"Therefore, I depend on all of you to give me sound advice on not just matters relating to the Finance Ministry but all aspects of the government and the economy as a whole," he said.
He pointed out that the Finance Ministry is an all-encompassing Ministry whose reach extends to every corner of the government and the nation. 
"The way it functions is critical for the future of millions of our countrymen who look up to the government to throw open channels for their progress, prosperity and welfare. Therefore, the Finance Ministry has a vital role in evolving economic policies which are conducive to economic growth and the overall welfare of the nation," he said.
"The Finance Ministry has had a glorious tradition of doing excellent work. I expect the same from you," he added.
Those present at the meeting included Dr Kaushik Basu, Chief Economic Adviser, Mr Pulok Chatterjee, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Finance Secretary R S Gujral and Secretaries in the Finance Ministry R Gopalan, Sumit Bose, D K Mittal and Mohammed Haleem Khan and other senior officials.

PM's visit to Myanmar expected to enrich bilateral ties, take them to new plane

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will pay a three-day state visit to Myanmar from May 27-29 which is expected to enable the two countries to build on the new foundations of their multi-faceted relationship laid during Myanmarese President Thein Sein's visit to India last year.

File photo of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
File photo of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will pay a three-day state visit to Myanmar from May 27-29 which is expected to enable the two countries to build on the new foundations of their multi-faceted relationship laid during Myanmarese President Thein Sein's visit to India last year.

"We seek to leverage this to secure a stronger and mutually beneficial relationship with a neighbouring country that is integral to India’s Look East Policy," Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai told journalists during a briefing on the visit.
"Considerable progress has been made in implementing decisions and agreements emanating from the President’s visit in October, 2011," he said.
Dr Singh will be accompanied on the visit by his wife, Mrs Gursharan Kaur, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and senior officials. A delegation of Indian CEOs will also visit Myanmar at the same time. 
The visit to Myanmar by Dr Singh will be the first by an Indian Prime Minister in 25 years after the visit by then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in December, 1987.
Mr Mathai said the visit followed the "very successful" state visit of President Thein Sein to India in October last year and comes at a time when Myanmar is undergoing rapid transformation.
"This visit will provide us an opportunity to review that progress and to discuss new initiatives that we would be taking in the furtherance of our relations. The new political environment in Myanmar also provides fresh opportunities to take our bilateral relationship to a new plane," he said.
Mr Mathai said the visit would provide an opportunity to enrich the substance of the bilateral relationship, both qualitatively and in scope and lays down a long-term vision and roadmap for mutually reinforcing bilateral cooperation in a wide range of areas including security, connectivity, infrastructure development, trade and investment promotion, capacity-building and human resource development, culture and people-to-people contacts, and academic exchanges. 
He said the two sides hoped to sign a number of agreements and memoranda of understanding (MoUs) to further strengthen their bilateral cooperation. 
He said Dr Singh's discussions with President Thein Sein in Nay Pyi Taw would cover bilateral, regional and other issues of mutual interest. The President will host a banquet in honour of the Prime Minister on May 28. 
Apart from the official engagements in Nay Pyi Taw, the Prime Minister will also visit Yangon where he is expected to meet Ms Aung Sang Suu Kyi, the Chairperson of the National League for Democracy, and other prominent personalities. 
During his visit, Prime Minister will also deliver a public address on the theme “India and Myanmar: A Partnership for Progress and Regional Development”, at a function organized by the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and the Myanmar Development Resource Institute. There will also be interactions between the business delegations of the two sides. 
The Prime Minister will also visit the historic Shwedagon Pagoda and the Mazar of the Last Mughal Emperor of India Bahadur Shah Zafar, which is in Yangon. He will also have a separate interaction with the Indian community in Myanmar.

Chidambaram says investigators have got "promising clues" in Delhi blast case

Home Minister P Chdidambaram said on Friday the investigations into Wednesday's powerful blast outside the Delhi High Court, which had claimed 13 lives and left about 72 people injured, had thrown up some promising leads but nothing conclusive yet.

Union Home Minister P Chdidambaram today said the investigations into Wednesday's powerful blast outside the Delhi High Court, which had claimed 13 lives and left about 72 people injured, had thrown up some promising leads but nothing conclusive yet.

11 killed, more than 75 injured in blast outside Delhi High Court

Terror struck the capital again when at least 11 people were killed and more than 75 others injured, many of them seriously, in a powerful blast that took place at a spot outside gates 4 and 5 of the Delhi High Court on Wednesday morning.

Terror struck the capital again when at least 11 people were killed and more than 75 others injured, many of them seriously, in a powerful blast that took place at a spot outside gates 4 and 5 of the Delhi High Court this morning. 

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on an official visit to Dhaka, described the blast as a "cowardly act of a terrorist nature" and said the country would deal with it and never succumb to the pressure of terrorism.

Home Minister P Chidambaram at the blast site at Delhi High Court in New Delhi on September 7, 2011.Investigating officials at the blast site at Delhi High Court in New Delhi on September 7, 2011.Commandos with sniffer dogs searching for clues at the blast site at Delhi High court in New Delhi on September 7, 2011.
Home Minister P Chidambaram at the blast site at Delhi High Court in New Delhi on September 7, 2011. ; Investigating officials at the blast site at Delhi High Court in New Delhi on September 7, 2011.; Commandos with sniffer dogs searching for clues at the blast site at Delhi High court in New Delhi on September 7, 2011. UNI PHOTOS

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram told the Lok Sabha in a statement that the Government was determined to track down the perpetrators of the "horrific crime".

"I appeal to the House and to the people of the country that we must remain resolute and united. We must not show any vacillation. We shall never be intimidated by terrorist groups," he said.

The blast occurred around 1015 hours near the reception outside the court premises, where people form long queues to get passes made for entering the court premises. The explosion occurred just 15 minutes before court proceedings were due to begin at 1030 hours, a time when there is a huge crowd of people waiting to get inside.

The injured were rushed by ambulances and other vehicles to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) as well as the Safdarjung, Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan (LNJP), Ram Manohar Lohia (RML), Moolchand and Sir Gangaram hospitals.


Mr U K Bansal, Special Secretary (Internal Security) in the Home Ministry said most of the injured had been admitted to the RML Hospital.

"The condition of some of the injured is reported to be critical. In all cases of injured people where surgery was required the same has been performed or is being done now," he said.

Mr Bansal said two of the injured were in the Intensive Care Unit of RML Hospital, while as many as 51 had undergone surgical or orthopaedical procedures and were out of danger.

He said the investigation of the case has been transferred to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) by the Union Government in exercise of its powers under the NIA Act. The NIA has requested the Delhi Government and Delhi Police to associate with and assist them in the investigation.

Mr Bansal said an alert had been sent out to all States in the light of this incident for enforcing all possible precautions in sensitive areas.

He said a team from the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL), Delhi had collected evidence from the spot which was being examined for clues. The

The National Security Guard's (NSG) post-blast investigation team has also collected relevant traces, residue and so on from the spot and is conducting its own forensic examination. The reports of this scientific examination will be available to the NIA shortly, he said.

TV grab of veteran BJP leader L K Advani speaking in the Lok Sabha on the blast outside Delhi High Court, on September 7, 2011.One of the injured in a blast outside Delhi High Court being led away after being administered first aid, in New Delhi on September 7, 2011.A car, damaged in a blast outside Delhi High Court being towed away, in New Delhi on September 7, 2011.
TV grab of veteran BJP leader L K Advani speaking in the Lok Sabha on the blast outside Delhi High Court, on September 7, 2011.; One of the injured in a blast outside Delhi High Court being led away after being administered first aid, in New Delhi on September 7, 2011. ; A car, damaged in a blast outside Delhi High Court being towed away, in New Delhi on September 7, 2011. UNI PHOTOS

Mr Bansal said preliminary investigation revealed that the blast created a small crater, about 2- 3 feet wide and about one foot deep, at the place where the explosive charge is suspected to have been kept in a briefcase near the reception centre of the High Court.

"The examination of the scene of blast indicates towards the use of nitrate-based explosives with traces of PETN (explosive)," he said.

He said about two kgs of explosives appeared to have been used for the blast. He said most of the victims had been killed by the blast and not by shrapnels.

He said the Delhi Police had been put on high alert and vigorous investigations were in progress, including checking of guest houses, hotels, bus stands, railway stations and airports. All entry and exist routes are also being put under extensive surveillance and checking. Neighbouring States have also been asked to send their teams of Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) experts to examine the scene of the blast and assist in the investigation, he added.

Police vans, fire tenders and ambulances rushed to the spot immediately after the blast and the area was cordoned off. Police requested people to move out of the area so that the security personnel could scan the area and ensure there were no other explosives planted there.


Intelligence officials, bomb disposal squads, disaster management personnel and other officials had rushed to the spot. Sniffer dogs were also deployed.

Heavy rains that began about 90 minutes after the blast hampered the work of the investigative agencies, especially in the matter of gathering evidence from the spot.

As news of the blast spread, relatives of those injured rushed to the hospitals to inquire about their loved ones.

Today's blast came less than four months after a minor explosion had occurred near a car in the parking lot of the High Court on May 25. No one had been injured in that incident.

In the evening, the Delhi Police released the sketches of two suspects in the case. One of them was said to be around 26 years, 5'9" tall with his hair parted in the middle. The other was said to be around 50 years with a light beard and shallow complexion and of stout build.

Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital to meet the injured in the Delhi High Court blast, in New Delhi on September 7, 2011. UNI PHOTO
Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital to meet the injured in the Delhi High Court blast, in New Delhi on September 7, 2011. UNI PHOTO

Mr Chidambaram, Delhi Lt Governor Tejinder Khanna, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, BJP leaders L K Advani and Sushma Swaraj and Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi were amongst those who visited the scene of the blast and the hospitals.

Mr Chidambam was also in touch with the Prime Minister in Dhaka in this regard. Dr Singh is due to return to the capital this evening.

Dr Singh told journalists in Dhaka that fighting terror was a long war in which all political parties and the people of India had to stand united so that the "scourge of terrorism is crushed".

In the Lok Sabha, Mr Chidambaram said, "On behalf of the Government, I offer my sincere condolences to the families of those who lost their lives. I offer my sympathies to those who have been injured and I assure the House that we will extend the best medical treatment to the injured."

Mr Chidambaram said the objective of terrorist groups was to strike fear and to destabilise the country.

"We are clear in our mind that there is no cause that will justify terrorist acts. Government unequivocally condemns the terrorist attack that took place today," he said.

"Delhi is a target of terrorist groups. When Parliament is in session and during certain other times of the year Delhi is placed on high alert. Intelligence agencies constantly share intelligence inputs with Delhi Police. Intelligence pertaining to threats emanating from certain groups was shared with Delhi Police in July, 2011. At this stage it is not possible to identify the group that caused the bomb blast today.

"In the last few years, several measures have been taken to strengthen Delhi Police. Despite the capacity that has been built and despite Delhi Police remaining on high alert, the tragic incident occurred today," he added.

United News of India adds:

Some reports said the Harkat-ul-Jehad Islami (HuJI) has claimed responsibilty for today's attack, citing Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru's death sentence as the reason for the act.

An email received by different media organizations said that HuJI takes responsibility for today's blast in Delhi. HUJI is a Pakistan-based terrorist group. "We take the mail very seriously," said NIA Chief S C Sinha.

The email states, "We own the responsibility of today's blast at high court delhi.....our demand is that Afzal Guru's death sentence should be repealed immediately else we would target major high courts & the Supreme Court of India..........".

Afzal Guru has been sentenced to death by the Supreme Court for his role in the attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001. His mercy petition that asks for his sentence to be commuted to life is pending with President Pratibha Patil. The Home Ministry has reportedly recommended that it be rejected.


PM says Third Front could "unwittingly" help BJP

Manmohan Singh says the Third Front as well as the new grouping launched by three current constituents of the ruling United Progressive Alliance could unwittingly help the Bharatiya Janata Party in the coming elections.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said that the Third Front forged by the Left parties, erstwhile allies of his Congress party, with some regional outfits as well as the new grouping launched by three current constituents of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) could end up unwittingly helping the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the coming elections

The Left parties, which had supported the Congress-led UPA for the first four years of its five-year term before withdrawing support in protest against the India-United States Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, have formed partnerships with several regional parties to form the so-called Third Front on on anti-Congress, anti-BJP platform.

The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), led by Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), headed by Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party (SP), meanwhile, have launched a separate front, which is contesting against the Congress in 134 constituencies in the politically crucial states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Dr Singh said he sincerely felt the Third Front would not be able to form the government at the Centre after the elections, which are due to be held in five phases from April 16 to May 13, and would only end up dividing the so-called secular vote.

"They are wittingly or unwittingly strengthening the BJP....I would like the SP and LJP to work together (with the Congress)," he said during an interaction with members of the Indian Women's Press Corps.

In reply to a question, Dr Singh hinted at the possibility of seeking the support of the Left parties after the elections. "We will cross that bridge when we come to it," he said, adding that he had a lot of respect for the Left leaders.

Referring to the support extended earlier by the Left parties to the UPA government, he said, "We successfully led a coalition in the past four and a half years. The Left was also happy with us until they quarrelled over the India-US Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement."

But he more or less ruled out the possibility of any alliance with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). "I don't think such an eventuality will arise," he quipped.

He described as "opportunism" the decision of the RJD, SP and LJP to go their separate way in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. "They could affect the electoral outcome to some extent...Today, there is a tendency to divide the country on the lines of caste and religion," he said. "We must be alert to these tendencies."

The Prime Minister pointed out that the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) had also not been able to retain its allies. "Where are Chandrababu Naidu, Naveen Patnaik and others," he asked.

The economist-turned politician said the global economic meltdown had posed enormous problems for India and asserted that only the Congress party could steer the country out of the present crisis.

Dr Singh used the opportunity to launch a scathing attack on the BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Lal Krishna Advani, who was the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister in the previous NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Mr Advani has repeatedly described Dr Singh as India's weakest ever Prime Minister, one who takes orders from 10, Janpath, the residence of Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

The Prime Minister said the people of the country should ask themselves whether they wanted a government which fanned communal passions and which had again raised old issues like special constitutional provisions for Jammu and Kashmir, a common civil code and the Ram Temple at a time when India had to put up a united front against terrorism and needed a decisive government.

Dr Singh said Mr Advani was present at the spot during the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya and, if he were such a strong leader as he claims to be, he could easily have stopped it. He also referred to the NDA government's decision to send the foreign minister to Kandahar in Afghanistan to escort three terrorists who had been released in exchange for the safe release of passengers of an Indian Airlines flight that had been hijacked. One of the terrorists released later founded the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), he pointed out. He listed the several cases of terrorist attacks that took place around the country when Mr Advani was the Home Minister.

The Prime Minister also spoke about the communal violence in Gujarat in 2002 in which, officially, 1180 lives were lost during BJP leader Narendra Modi's chief ministership. He wondered how the BJP could go around claiming that Mr Modi was the most successful chief minister in the country.

Dr Singh said he could not match Mr Advani in public speaking. "We need a Prime Minister who is strong. Who can take decisions. Speaking loudly doesn't make you a strong Prime Minister...I am not used to abusive language. That is against the Indian culture," he remarked.

He also did not attach much importance to Mr Advani's frequent taunts about the need to have a Prime Minister who is an elected member of the Lok Sabha and not from the Rajya Sabha. He pointed out that several other Prime Ministers before him had been members of the Upper House.

"Judge us on our record and not what Mr Advani says. I want the people of India to decide who is strong and who is weak," he said.

Dr Singh said the government was taking all possible steps, including the strengthening of the intelligence agencies and police forces, to fight the increasing threat of terrorism.

Prime Minister said the Congress party's decision to drop Mr Jagdish Tytler and Mr Sajjan Kumar as candidates for the Parliamentary elections from Delhi after protests by Sikhs against their alleged role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots reflected its sensitivity to the sentiments of the people.

''By reversing the decision, the Congress party has shown it is sensitive to sentiments to the protestors. Der aaye, durust aaye (better late than never),'' he said.

The issue had acquired a new momentum after a Sikh journalist hurled a shoe at Home Minister P Chidambaram at a press conference here earlier this week in protest against the clean chit given by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to Mr Tytler in cases relating to the anti-Sikh violence that had erupted in Delhi and other places following the October 31, 1984 assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by two of her own Sikh bodyguards.

Dr Singh asserted that neither he nor his office, which oversees the functioning of the CBI, had anything to do with the so-called "clean chit" to Mr Tytler. He said neither he nor Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office, Prithviraj Chavan, had been consulted or informed by the CBI of its stand in the case.

In reply to a question, the Prime Minister dismissed allegations by Pakistani authorities about Indian involvement in the recent terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore.

''These are tactics by Pakistan to divert people's attention. The allegation should be dismissed with the contempt it deserves,'' he said.

Dr Singh said India could not resume its dialogue with Pakistan until there was enough evidence of its willingness and sincerity to prosecute those responsible for the Novemer 26, 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

The Prime Minister promised that if the Congress were returned to power it would take all possible steps to end gender bias. He was referring in particular to the "collective failure" of all political parties to get the bill for reserving 33 per cent of the seats in Parliament for women passed.

Dr Singh said the high point of his tenure was the signing of the India-US Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement.

''It also was the toughest time. But the fact that it came about despite the Left deserting us, was most satisfying,'' he said.

He admitted that he had staked his reputation on the accord and had resolved to resign if it did not materialise.

''It was a question of India's honour. We had negotiated with the US for three years. If the Government had not been able to do it, it would have created a bad impression on the type of system India had. I had made it known to everyone that if the deal did not go through, I would not continue in office,'' he said.


Global crude oil price of Indian basket rises to $ 56.59/bbl

The international crude oil price of the Indian basket, as computed and published today by the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, rose to $ 56.59 per barrel (bbl) yesterday from $ 56.37 per bbl on the previous day.
In rupee terms, the price of the Indian basket increased to Rs. 3673.70 per bbl on 17.10.2017 as compared to Rs. 3650.26 per bbl on 16.10.2017, an official press release said.
The rupee closed weaker at Rs. 64.92 per US$ on 17.10.2017 as compared to Rs. 64.76 per US$ on 16.10. 2017, it added.

Haryanvi singer Harshita Dahiya shot dead by unidentified assailants

Harshita Dahiya at an event in a village in Panipat district of Haryana, shortly before she was shot dead by unidentified assailants, on October 17, 2017.
Harshita Dahiya at an event in a village in Panipat district of Haryana, shortly before she was shot dead by unidentified assailants, on October 17, 2017.
Harshita Dahiya, a 22-year-old Haryanvi singer and dancer, was shot dead by unidentified assailants when  she was returning home late yesterday afternoon after attending a programme at Chamrara village in Panipat district of Haryana, police said.
Police said that a black car overtook her vehicle near Chamrara and forced it to stop at around 4.30 pm. Two men got out from the car and asked the driver of the singer's car and two other occupants, her assistants, to come out. They then fired seven bullets at her, six of which hit her in the neck and head, and then fled from the  spot.
When police arrived on the scene a little later, they found Harshita, who was sitting on the rear seat, slumped forward, in the space between the two front seats. She had died on the spot. The others in her car were not targeted by the assailants.
Haryanvi singer Harshita Dahiya shot dead by unknown assailants
Harshita, who belonged to Sonipat district and lived in the Narela area of Delhi, had posted a couple of videos on social media recently in which she said that some people, who were upset by remarks she made in video posts earlier, had called her up over the telephone and threatened her. She had said she would not be cowed down by such threats and that she would file a complaint with the police about them. It could not be ascertained if she had actually gone ahead and complained to the police about the threats.
Harshita's body was sent to the Panipat civil hospital for post-mortem examination. The police have filed a case of murder and are investigating the matter, the sources added.

Badarpur power plant shut down, diesel generators banned in Delhi, NCR to combat air pollution

The Badarpur thermal power plant on the outskirts of Delhi will be closed, the use of diesel generators has  been  banned and brick kilns, which have not coverted to a cleaner zig zag technology, will be shut down during winter as part of preventive measures that came into force yesterday under the Graded Response Action Plan to control air pollution in the National Capital Region (NCR).
The Very Poor and Severe categories under the plan will be in force from October 17, 2017 to March 15, 2018, Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority for the National Capital Region (EPCA) said here yesterday.
The EPCA is a committee constituted by the Central Government for the NCR in compliance with a Supreme Court (SC) order of January 7, 1998.
In November 2016, the SC directed the government to frame and implement a Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) to control air pollution. The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change  notified the Plan on January 17, 2017
The Plan is designed like a disaster alert system, which directs governments to take tougher and tougher actions based on the level of air pollution 
The EPCA said it could resort to enforcement of the "odd-even" plan for vehicles, order cars off roads and shut schools if the situation got worse.
While the GRAP proposes a hike in paking fees under the Very Poor category, the EPCA said that it cannot be implemented immediately because the Delhi Government is yet to finalise its parking policy. But if there is an increase in pollution levels, the measure would be enforced even if a formal policy is not in place.
The key measures, which are listed under the Moderate and Poor categories, have been in force through the year, with state governments monitoring progress. From October 17, 2017 to March 15, 2018 the Very Poor and Severe categories will come into force  
“Difficult situations demand tough responses and solutions and the Delhi-NCR region is faced with a really difficult situation each winter when air pollution levels spiral out of control. The EPCA and all other agencies of the government are prepared to take those tough decisions which we believe will help clear the air,” EPCA chairperson Bhure Lal said at a press conference here yesterday.
He said the ban on diesel generators would not apply to essential services such as hospitals and the Delhi Metro.
Sources of air pollution in Delhi-NCR vary according to seasons – the graded measure approach has carefully considered this aspect and has included appropriate measures for each level of pollution according to the AQI.
Some aspects of the Plan have been set in motion in Delhi-NCR, and several meetings for this have been held under the guidance of the EPCA and the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi.
Among the measures being implemented are the installation of Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations (CAAQMS). Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan have initiated work on setting up these stations. Of the 20 planned in Delhi, 14 are expected to be commissioned by the end of October. Haryana has planned 13 stations, Uttar Pradesh 10, and Rajasthan two. 
Daily air quality information is now available on a web-based common platform set up by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). Daily meteorological and air quality information is also shared with the EPCA.
The Badarpur power plant, which will be closed during winter this year, will be shut down permanently in July 2018. The state pollution control boards of UP and Haryana have been directed to monitor pollution from the remaining thermal power plants -- Dadri in UP and Jhajjar in Haryana. This also includes the management of fly ash from the plants. 
The Badarpur plant used to supply around 400 MW electricity to the distribution companies but its shutdown is not expected to have any impact on power supply in Delhi because the city has surplus power.
The EPCA said the Delhi Police and Delhi Transport Department are working to strictly enforce directions of the Supreme Court, which requires only trucks destined for Delhi and not older than 10 years to be allowed entry after payment of an Environment Compensation Charge (ECC). However, as this order is difficult to implement on ground, EPCA is working with the South Delhi Municipal Corporation to get a detailed survey of the trucks entering Delhi and will take further actions based on the findings of this survey. 
It also said the Delhi government is conducting surprise checks to stop visibly polluting vehicles from plying, by subjecting them to heavy fines. In addition, the SC has directed for improvement of the PUC system, including linking it with insurance. 
The state governments, through the task force set up under their chief secretaries, have also directed that there should be control of dust from roads, construction projects as well as no-tolerance towards garbage burning. 
The aim of these measures is to ensure that the region does not have to impose ‘emergency’ level measures, which come into effect when pollution is categorised as severe+. Under this category much tougher steps, including total ban on construction and odd-even system of vehicle rationing would have to come. 
“Delhi-NCR has a long way to go before it can lay claim to having reasonably clean and breathable air. There are still many challenges that we face and we must continue to take action, which is both short and long term,” Ms Sunita Narain, member of EPCA and director general of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), said.
Some of the other measures mandated under the GRAP in the Severe and Very Poor categories include: closure of hot mix plants and stone crushers; intensification of public transport services and introduction of differential rates to encourage off-peak travel; increased frequency of mechanized cleaning of roads and sprinkling of water on roads and identification of road stretches with high dust generation; increase in bus and metro services by augmenting contract buses and increasing frequency of services; and stopping use of coal/firewood in hotels and open eateries.
The GRAP says residential welfare associations (RWAs) and individual house owners should provide electric heaters during winter to security staff to avoid open burning. It also calls for alerts through the media to advise people with respiratory and cardiac problems to avoid polluted areas and restrict outdoor movement.
The EPCA has listed the following key areas of future intervention:
Garbage burning: While governments are working to step up vigilance and action against garbage burning during the level 2-3 GRAP period, this is not the solution. There is an urgent need for a plan to remediate the three landfill sites in Delhi and to ensure that solid waste management across NCR is done so that there is segregation and processing.
Road and construction dust: India is an under-construction country; also, there is extremely poor management of the system of construction. This needs to be drastically improved so that roads, when being repaired or constructed, do not add to the dust in the environment. 
Augmentation of public transport and last mile connectivity in Delhi and NCR is critical. The EPCA has found that instead of improvement, there is a declining bus fleet and ridership in Delhi. There is also poor connectivity within NCR. The EPCA is concerned that without a serious and urgent effort to improve public transport, all efforts to reduce vehicular pollution will be negated. Under GRAP, the emphasis is on intensification of public transport systems during high pollution periods. But this is not possible without an augmentation of the system. 
Parking: Under GRAP, once the region is under the Very Poor category, parking rates have to be enhanced three-four times. This requires a parking policy to be in place urgently in the NCR. 
Burning of crop residues: The three states of Haryana, Punjab and UP have been directed by the NGT to control burning of crop residues. However, the EPCA recognises that this is only possible when farmers are given alternatives and when there is widespread use of biomass for power generation. 
Use of dirty fuels (pet-coke and furnace oil): India is importing large quantities of pet coke, which is an extremely polluting fuel, from the US and Saudi Arabia. The US has banned the use of this fuel because of pollution and China is no longer importing this because of its pollution concerns. The EPCA has recommended a ban on the import of pet coke into India; its use only in cement industry and standards for SOx and NOx – key pollutants to be notified so that industrial pollution can be checked. This has currently not been done. The SC will hear this matter later in October.
The latest measures have come just days after the Supreme Court last week imposed a temporary ban on the sale of firecrackers in the NCR ahead of Diwali in a move that was aimed at preventing a recurrence of the severe air pollution levels of last year, when schools were shut down for some days.
The following are the categories of pollution levels under the GRAP:
Severe + or Emergency: When PM2.5 levels cross 300 µg/m3 or PM10 levels cross 500 µg/m3 (5 times above the standard) and persist for 48 hours or more
Severe: When PM2.5 levels are above 250 µg/m3 or PM10 levels are above 430 µg/m
Very Poor: When PM2.5 levels are between 121-250 µg/m3 or PM10 levels are between 351-430 µg/m3
Poor: When PM2.5 levels are between 91-120 µg/m3 or PM10 levels are between 251-350 µg/m3
Moderate: When PM2.5 is between 61-90 µg/m3 or PM10 is between 101-250 µg/m3

Ensure dignity of living for construction workers, Puri tells builders

Expressing serious concern over the living conditions of a large number of construction workers, Union Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri today urged the builders to ensure a dignified living for them by ensuring necessary basic facilities.
Mr Puri spoke on the issue after releasing a commemorative stamp on the occasion of the 25 years of Indian Builders Congress (IBC) here.
The Minister reminded the 5,100 members of the IBC that it was their solemn responsibility to ensure decent living conditions for workers by providing facilities for cooking, bathing and toilets at construction sites under Clause 19 H of General Contract Conditions and Contract Labour (Regulation) Act.
He said the provisions were not being generally complied with, which was unacceptable. The construction workers make yeomen contribution to economic growth of the country and deserve to be treated with dignity.
Noting that the IBC aims at improving the built environment, Mr Puri said the living environment of workers at construction sites was equally important.
The real estate sector kept evolving with the progress of economic reforms and the resultant economic growth but had run into hurdles due to inadequate self-regulation and lack of regulatory mechanism. This has necessitated the Real Estate Act that was made a reality by this Government last year after eight long years it was first proposed.
He asserted that the real estate sector was finding the going bumpy but will soon settle at a new normal as all the stakeholders were working at enabling such a new normal.

Bangladesh Navy Ship Somudra Avijan on goodwill visit to Vishakhapatnam

Bangladesh Naval Ship Somudra Avijan has arrived here on a four-day goodwill visit to the Eastern Naval Command (ENC) on October 16, a Defence Ministry press release said today.
The ship had carried out Passage Exercise which included naval manoeuvres in the Bay of Bengal prior to entering the port. The Bangladesh Navy ship was accorded a warm reception by officials from the ENC and Eastern Fleet with the Indian Naval Band in attendance on arrival.
BNS Somudra Avijan, commanded by Commander M Moniruzzaman (TAS), is a part of Cadet Training Squadron with 60 cadets embarked on board sea training. During the stay here, a variety of activities including professional, cross deck visit, sports fixture and social interactions have been scheduled for the crew. The commanding officer will also call-on Vice Admiral HCS Bisht, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief ENC.

Global crude oil price of Indian basket rises to $56.37/bbl

The international crude oil price of the Indian basket, as computed and published today by the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, rose to $ 56.37 per barrel (bbl) yesterday from $ 55.81 per bbl on the previous publishing day of October 13.
In rupee terms, the price of the Indian basket increased to Rs.3650.26 per bbl on 16.10.2017 as compared to Rs. 3623.97 per bbl on 13.10.2017, an official press release said.
The rupee closed stronger at Rs. 64.76 per US$ on 16.10.2017 as compared to Rs. 64.93 per US$ on 13.10.2017, it added.

Footwear Design & Development Institute becomes ‘Institute of National Importance’

The Footwear Design & Development Institute (FDDI) has become an ‘Institute of National Importance’ under the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India, with  the provisions of the FDDI Act 2017 coming into force from yesterday.
The FDDI Bill was passed by Parliament in July  2017 and the notification in this regard was published in The Gazette of India on October 5, 2017, an official press release said.
Minister of State for Commerce & Industry C.R. Chaudhary said that the commitment of the Government to resolve the degree issue had culminated in the grant of the status of ‘Institute of National Importance’ (INI) to FDDI. With this, the government has also ensured upgradation of FDDI to a position of eminence so as to enable the institute to effectively serve the sector and industry, he said.
Now that it has become an INI, FDDI has the autonomy  to design its courses as per the requirement of the industry, and award its own degrees to its students. FDDI can now independently develop and conduct courses leading to graduate and post-graduate degrees, doctoral and post-doctoral courses and research in the areas of footwear and leather products design and development and allied fields.
Presently FDDI is imparting skill-based graduate and post-graduate courses in the fields of footwear, leather goods, retail and management to around 2,500 students across eight campuses spread over India. With the enhancement of the status of FDDI as an Institute of National Importance by the virtue of the FDDI Act, 2017, the institute will now be able to enroll around 2,500 more students in the coming admission session, across its 12 campuses, out of which four new campuses will become functional with the next academic session.
"FDDI is a premier Institute, serving as a ‘one stop solutions provider’ in footwear, leather and allied industry. Since its inception in 1986, FDDI has been playing a pivotal role in facilitating Indian industry by bridging skill gaps in the areas of footwear, leather, fashion, retail and management. FDDI has been functioning as an interface between the untapped talent and industry and its global counterparts, by fulfilling the demand of skilled man power with its specific curriculum, state of the art laboratories, world class infrastructure and experienced faculty," the release added.

Duty of all to provide children the opportunity, experience of being citizens of better India: Kovind

President Ram Nath Kovind has said that it was the duty of every person in the country to provide the children of the country the opportunity and experience of being citizens of a better India.
Addressing the closing ceremony of the Bharat Yatra for a ‘Surakshit Bachpan-Surakshit Bharat’ being organised by Shri Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation at Rashtrapati Bhavan here yesterday, he said that even if one child is unsafe, all of society is guilty.
"Therefore, this Yatra for a ‘Surakshit Bachpan-Surakshit Bharat’ is a big step towards providing a safe environment for children in our nation," he said.
The President said that Nobel Peace laureate Kailash Satyarthi has been contributing towards the cause of human rights of children for almost 40 years. He said he had been made aware that more than 85,000 children have been rescued from atrocities by the efforts of Shri Satyarthi. 
"They have received educational opportunities and have been helped to start their lives afresh," he said.
The President said that there are policies and laws to ensure the rights of children in the country. However, these rights can only be ensured through the awareness and sensitivity of the entire society. Millions of people, from south to north, have been made aware of this issue through this Bharat Yatra, he said.
The President said the country must come together to ensure every child receives education and achieves his or her full potential with freedom and dignity, while being healthy and secure. 
He said the Shri Kailash Satyarthi Foundation was striving to achieve these objectives. He appreciated the foundation and all those associated with it. He hoped that together society would build an India where there would be no scope for sexual abuse and human trafficking of children.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Satyarthi said the Bharat Yatra for ‘Surakshit Bachpan-Surakshti Bharat’ was a non-violent war on sexual abuse, rape and trafficking of children. He said that the voices of children cannot be silent any more. On Diwali this year, he urged all to light a lamp in the name of protection of children.
On the occasion, the President also lit a symbolic Diya – ‘Bal Suraksha Jyoti’. A photo exhibition was hosted at the venue and a short film that provided a glimpse of the Bharat Yatra was also screened.

India, Russia to hold first Tri-Services Joint Exercise from October 19-29

Exercise Indra-2017, the first ever Tri-Services Joint Exercise between Indian and Russian Armed Forces, will be conducted in the Eastern Military District of Russia from October 19-29, giving a major boost to defence cooperation  between the two countries.
In  its previous nine editions, Exercise Indra had been conducted as a single service exercise alternately in the two countries.
"The year 2017 marks a major milestone as this Exercise has been upgraded to involve all the three Services of the Armed Forces (Army, Navy & Air Force), which further accentuates the importance of Joint Services in the present world environment," an official press release said.
Exercise Indra-2017 will be conducted at the 249th Combined Army Range Sergeevisky and in the Sea of Japan near Vladivostok. The Indian contingent will comprise 350 personnel from Army, 80 from Air Force, two IL 76 aircraft and one frigate and corvette each from the Navy. The Russian Federation Armed Forces will be represented by approximately 1000 troops of the 5th Army, Marines and Ships of Pacific Fleet and aircraft from Eastern Military District. 
Addressing the Indian contingent yesterday, Lt Gen Satish Dua, CISC reminded them of the importance of the exercise which will provide an opportunity to the armed forces of both countries to train in counter terrorism operations in a multinational scenario in a joint tri service environment. 
The scope of the exercise includes professional interactions, establishment of joint command and control structures between the Indian and Russian forces and elimination of terrorist threat in a multinational environment under the United Nations mandate. 
"Exercise Indra-2017 will strengthen mutual confidence, inter-operability and enable sharing of best practices between both the armed forces. It will be a landmark event in the history of Indo-Russian defence cooperation," the release added.

IndiGo forays into regional markets; adds ATR to its fleet

Low-cost carrier IndiGo has announced its foray into regional markets by beginning ATR operations with flights between cities on its existing network such as Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru, Mangalore, Madurai and Nagpur and two new Tier-II cities of Tirupati and Rajahmundry.
"With an aim to enhance connectivity to these cities, the airline will deploy its ATR fleet of ATR 72-600 aircraft in a phased manner," a press release from IndiGo said.
The release said the airline had also launched introductory fares starting at Rs 999 on these new routes, and bookings opened from midnight last night.
The first ATR flight will commence from Hyderabad, starting December 21, 2017, it said.
"With the introduction of these flights, IndiGo has taken another step towards providing on-time and hassle-free travel experience to the passengers of Tier-II and Tier-III cities as well.
"IndiGo is also introducing new ATR flights on its existing network which includes Chennai -Mangalore - Chennai, Hyderabad - Mangalore - Hyderabad and Hyderabad - Nagpur - Hyderabad. These new routes will further consolidate IndiGo’s position as the fastest growing airline in India," the release said.
Announcing the opening of the sale of tickets for the first ATR flights in the history of IndiGo’s journey, Mr. Aditya Ghosh, President and Whole Time Director, IndiGo said, “It is indeed a proud moment for all of us who have been working relentlessly to bring our dream of regional flying to reality. We at IndiGo are bringing people and places closer. We have set off on a journey into the heartland and make these connections deeper. These flights will open up a whole new market, improving the choices of air travel to millions of our fellow citizens.”

India’s contribution to new LIGO discovery

Within twenty months after announcement of the first confirmed detection of gravitational waves and within two weeks of the discovery winning the Nobel Prize, the LIGO-Virgo collaboration - that includes 40 odd scientists from 13 Indian institutions - has announced once again a breathtaking discovery - first ever direct observation of gravitational waves emerging from the merger of two neutron stars. Earlier detections were black hole -black hole mergers.
The announcement was made in a simultaneous worldwide press conference by the participating institutes coinciding with the publication of results in the journal Physical Review Letters.
David Reitze, executive director, LIGO Laboratory, Caltech announced that the US-based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and the Europe-based Virgo have detected the fifth gravitational wave on August 17, 2017, which is a result of a collision of two neutron stars. While the last four discoveries were the result of the merger of two black holes, for the first time astronomers have seen the merger of two neutron stars.
Rumours were circulating for more than a month that something huge has been discovered by the LIGO-Virgo collaboration, and finally, the discovery was announced on Monday in the US. In India, Dr. Tarun Souradeep, LIGO-India spokesperson made the announcement at the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) in Pune.
“Gravitational Wave detection of a binary neutron star merger, together with confirmation and identifying the location of the optical counterpart by conventional telescopes completes the integration of gravitational waves into astronomy,” said Dr. Souradeep.
When two black holes collide, we cannot see anything in any type of telescope, but when neutron stars bump into each other, they radiate in almost all wavelengths. “For the first time we were able to observe the afterglow of the event and make many inferences,” says Dr. Dipankar Bhattacharya of IUCAA, Pune, a lead institution from India participating in LIGO collaboration. The collision took place in the modest elliptical galaxy NGC4993 just 130 million light-years away in the Hydra constellation. This was the nearest gravitational source detected so far and hence was also the strongest.
The event
When massive stars reach the end of their life, they explode spectacularly into a supernova, and the core of the star becomes  a highly dense neutron star. More massive than the Sun, but their size just 20 kilometres across, neutron stars are the densest objects in the universe. A teaspoon of material would weigh as much as the whole of Mount Everest.
Two neutron stars with 1.1 to 1.6 times the mass of the sun, tangoed around each other for about 100 seconds as they spiralled towards each and bumped into each other. The cataclysmic collision resulted in the generation of mighty gravitational waves, and emission of powerful gamma-ray burst, and energy in practically all over the electromagnetic spectrum. In addition to gravitational wave detectors, traditional telescopes could observe the event.
“In this event named GW170817, the binary neutron stars have merged most likely into a black hole as the conserved mass after the collision is perhaps greater than the upper limit for a neutron star,” says Dr. Bhattacharya. 
“Unlike the collision of a black hole, which leaves practically no afterglow, when neutron stars collide, they emit radiation at all electromagnetic wavelengths that helps us investigate how matter behaves in extreme conditions such as neutron stars,” says Samir Dhurde, Science Educator and Astronomer from IUCAA. 
“This is precisely the kind of signal that can significantly improve our understanding of the true nature of gravity and can provide new insights into the physics of ultra-dense matter”, says Dr. C K Mishra from IIT Madras.
Indian contribution
“AstroSAT was occulted by Earth and hence could not pinpoint the gamma-ray burst, but Indian telescopic assets like Himalayan Chandra Telescope and GMRT Pune played a significant role in the discovery,” says Dr. Bhattacharya.
However, in the classical Sherlock Holmes style, ‘why the dog did not bark’, the non-detection of gamma rays by AstroSAT and the non-detection of gravitational waves by the third detector, Virgo, at Europe meant they were in the blind spots. Using this information, astronomers were able to infer that the location of the source of the gravitational wave was in the blind spots of both these detectors and hence they could easily pinpoint the location in the sky.
Along with Fermi space telescope, Chandra X-ray Telescope, the Hubble Space Telescope and the Gemini South optical/infrared telescope, Indian astronomical assets were swung into action. 
“The Himalayan Chandra Telescope at Hanle, Ladakh, quickly ruled out any connection between the neutrinos observed from the same direction of the sky by the Ice Cube observatory in Antarctica. Further, observations with the GMRT radio telescope in Pune found that the emission from the GRB jet is weaker than normal, suggesting a wider spread of material,” says Dr. Bhattacharya.
“The Indian instruments significantly contributed to understanding the event,” added Dr. Souradeep. He is hopeful that that planned LIGO-India detector, jointly funded by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the Department of Science & Technology (DST), “will increase the sensitivity of the international gravitational-wave network and help pinpoint the exact location of the gravitational wave event."
“This discovery is so fundamental that it is definitely a strong candidate for another Nobel prize!” says Dr. Arun,Chennai Mathematical Institute, who was part of the team that studied the astrophysical implications of the joint detection. “The prospects for future are even more exciting. During the next observation runs, these events may become routine and we may be up for many surprises. This is the true power of multi-messenger astronomy,” he adds.
What does this discovery tell us?
Initially, gamma ray telescopes were sent in spacecraft to identify clandestine nuclear weapons tests, but the scientists were puzzled by the sudden high energetic burst of gamma rays from deep space. Each of these gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) spewed energy equal to energy radiated by the sun in 10 billion years in a matter of seconds. Convinced that these GRBs could not be the telltale signature of atomic bomb explosions, astronomers looked for a different explanation. It was speculated that GRBs were results of collision of two neutron stars, but until now lacked direct evidence. The present discovery offers the “first conclusive evidence that short gamma-ray bursts, often seen by orbiting satellites, are indeed created by colliding neutron stars,” says Niruj Ramanujam, chairperson of POEC, Astronomical Society of India.
While hydrogen and helium, with a small amount of lithium, were created from the process of big bang, elements such as oxygen, carbon were formed in the nucleosynthesis in ordinary stars like our Sun. It is the process of the conversion of one element into another, through nuclear fusion that generates energy in stars and makes it glow. However, computations showed that only elements up to Iron in the periodic table could be cooked inside the stellar core. How gold, platinum, and other higher elements were formed was a mystery. Astronomers claimed that higher elements were created in the cataclysmic events like ‘kilonova', a collision of two neutron stars. Spectral study of the afterglow of this event has shown that gold, platinum, and other higher elements were indeed formed, as computed, as an after effect of the collision. 
“We may have just discovered the source of the cosmic gold that adorns every piece of jewellery and ornament on Earth,” said Dibyendu Nandi IISER Kolkata, a member of the team. 
Near-simultaneous detection of the gravitational waves and gamma rays indicate that gravitational waves travel at the speed of light as predicted by Einstein. Until now there was no direct evidence.
Measurements from this event also has provided an entirely new measurement of the rate at which the universe is expanding. Called Hubble constant this number is important to determine the age of the universe, make sense of dark matter and dark energy. Until now other means of determining this constant has been dogged in controversy and the rate was thought to be anywhere between 67 to 72 kilometres per second per megaparsec. Gravitational waves is one of the cleanest ways to compute the number and preliminary computation from LIGO data yields a value of 70 kilometres per second per megaparsec.
What are gravitational waves
The universe painted by the Newtonian gravity is placid; two perfectly stable masses could orbit their center of gravity for eternity. But General Relativity tells us that slight amount of energy would be lost when each of the masses is accelerated as they pass through the respective gravitational field. This energy is radiated into space as gravitational wave, predicted Einstein about a century ago. Slowly and steadily, over a period of time, the system will decay, and both masses will come closer and closer, finally swirl rapidly, close to the speed of light, and end in a collision. The gravitational waves generated during the death dance would be stronger and would have detectable disturbances in the space-time fabric millions of light years away.
As the oscillation of electric charge in the magnetic field produce electromagnetic waves, oscillation of masses in a gravitational field, Einstein said, would produce gravitational waves. The energy carried by the gravitation wave is so small, Einstein was skeptical if ever we could detect them. Physicists Rainer Weiss, Kip Thorne, and Barry Barish were awarded this year's Noble prize for designing, constructing and demonstrating a viable gravitational detector that is so sensitive that even a change of length of one atom size between Earth and Sun could be detected using sophisticated interferometry and complex computer programmes to detect the true fingerprint of gravitational wave from astounding background noise. 
(India Science Wire)

National Security Adviser Ajit Doval visits Kabul, meets top Afghan leaders

National Security Adviser Ajit Doval visited Kabul in Afghanistan today for talks with the Afghan leadership during which both sides exchanged views on various facets of the bilateral strategic partnership and regional and global issues of mutual interest.
Mr. Doval called on Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. He also met his counterpart Hanif Atmar, who hosted a working lunch for him, at which the Ministers of Defence, Interior, NDS, Chief of Army Staff, Independent Directorate of Local Governance and senior officials of the National Security Council were also present.
"They emphasised that bilateral and sincere regional cooperation is important for peace, security and stability in the region. Both sides welcomed the opportunities created by the new US strategy for bringing peace and security in Afghanistan. It was agreed to further strengthen strategic dialogue and consultations for achieving the shared objectives," a press release from the  Ministry of External Affairs said.
Mr. Doval extended invitation on behalf of Prime Minister Narendra Modi  President Ghani to visit India, which was accepted, the release added.

NASA missions catch first light from a gravitational-wave event

Swift’s Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope imaged the kilonova produced by merging neutron stars in the galaxy NGC 4993 (box) on Aug. 18, 2017, about 15 hours after gravitational waves and the gamma-ray burst were detected. The source was unexpectedly bright in ultraviolet light. It faded rapidly and was undetectable in UV when Swift looked again on Aug. 29. This false-color composite combines images taken through three ultraviolet filters. Inset: Magnified views of the galaxy.Credits: NASA/Swift
Swift’s Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope imaged the kilonova produced by merging neutron stars in the galaxy NGC 4993 (box) on Aug. 18, 2017, about 15 hours after gravitational waves and the gamma-ray burst were detected. The source was unexpectedly bright in ultraviolet light. It faded rapidly and was undetectable in UV when Swift looked again on Aug. 29. This false-color composite combines images taken through three ultraviolet filters. Inset: Magnified views of the galaxy.Credits: NASA/Swift
For the first time, scientists at US space agency NASA have detected light tied to a gravitational-wave event, thanks to two merging neutron stars in the galaxy NGC 4993, located about 130 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Hydra.
Shortly after 8:41 a.m. EDT on August 17, NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope picked up a pulse of high-energy light from a powerful explosion, which was immediately reported to astronomers around the globe as a short gamma-ray burst, a press release from the agency said today.
The scientists at the National Science Foundation’s Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detected gravitational waves dubbed GW170817 from a pair of smashing stars tied to the gamma-ray burst, encouraging astronomers to look for the aftermath of the explosion. Shortly thereafter, the burst was detected as part of a follow-up analysis by ESA’s (European Space Agency’s) INTEGRAL satellite.
Swift’s Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope imaged the kilonova produced by merging neutron stars in the galaxy NGC 4993 on August 18, 2017, about 15 hours after gravitational waves and the gamma-ray burst were detected. The source was unexpectedly bright in ultraviolet light. It faded rapidly and was undetectable in UV when Swift looked again on August 29. 
NASA's Swift, Hubble, Chandra and Spitzer missions, along with dozens of ground-based observatories, including the NASA-funded Pan-STARRS survey, later captured the fading glow of the blast's expanding debris.
"This is extremely exciting science," said Paul Hertz, director of NASA’s Astrophysics Division at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. "Now, for the first time, we've seen light and gravitational waves produced by the same event. The detection of a gravitational-wave source’s light has revealed details of the event that cannot be determined from gravitational waves alone. The multiplier effect of study with many observatories is incredible."
"Neutron stars are the crushed, leftover cores of massive stars that previously exploded as supernovas long ago. The merging stars likely had masses between 10 and 60 percent greater than that of our Sun, but they were no wider than Washington, D.C. The pair whirled around each other hundreds of times a second, producing gravitational waves at the same frequency. As they drew closer and orbited faster, the stars eventually broke apart and merged, producing both a gamma-ray burst and a rarely seen flare-up called a 'kilonova'," the release said.
"This is the one we've all been waiting for," said David Reitze, executive director of the LIGO Laboratory at Caltech in Pasadena, California. "Neutron star mergers produce a wide variety of light because the objects form a maelstrom of hot debris when they collide. Merging black holes -- the types of events LIGO and its European counterpart, Virgo, have previously seen -- very likely consume any matter around them long before they crash, so we don't expect the same kind of light show."
"The favored explanation for short gamma-ray bursts is that they're caused by a jet of debris moving near the speed of light produced in the merger of neutron stars or a neutron star and a black hole," said Eric Burns, a member of Fermi's Gamma-ray Burst Monitor team at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "LIGO tells us there was a merger of compact objects, and Fermi tells us there was a short gamma-ray burst. Together, we know that what we observed was the merging of two neutron stars, dramatically confirming the relationship."
Within hours of the initial Fermi detection, LIGO and the Virgo detector at the European Gravitational Observatory near Pisa, Italy, greatly refined the event's position in the sky with additional analysis of gravitational wave data. Ground-based observatories then quickly located a new optical and infrared source -- the kilonova -- in NGC 4993.  
To Fermi, this appeared to be a typical short gamma-ray burst, but it occurred less than one-tenth as far away as any other short burst with a known distance, making it among the faintest known. Astronomers are still trying to figure out why this burst is so odd, and how this event relates to the more luminous gamma-ray bursts seen at much greater distances.
NASA’s Swift, Hubble and Spitzer missions followed the evolution of the kilonova to better understand the composition of this slower-moving material, while Chandra searched for X-rays associated with the remains of the ultra-fast jet.
When Swift turned to the galaxy shortly after Fermi’s gamma-ray burst detection, it found a bright and quickly fading ultraviolet (UV) source.
"We did not expect a kilonova to produce bright UV emission," said Goddard’s S. Bradley Cenko, principal investigator for Swift. "We think this was produced by the short-lived disk of debris that powered the gamma-ray burst."
Over time, material hurled out by the jet slows and widens as it sweeps up and heats interstellar material, producing so-called afterglow emission that includes X-rays. 
But the spacecraft saw no X-rays -- a surprise for an event that produced higher-energy gamma rays.
"NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory clearly detected X-rays nine days after the source was discovered. Scientists think the delay was a result of our viewing angle, and it took time for the jet directed toward Earth to expand into our line of sight," the release said.
"The kilonova associated with GW170817 (box) was observed by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory. Hubble detected optical and infrared light from the hot expanding debris. The merging neutron stars produced gravitational waves and launched jets that produced a gamma-ray burst. Nine days later, Chandra detected the X-ray afterglow emitted by the jet directed toward Earth after it had spread into our line of sight," it said.
"The detection of X-rays demonstrates that neutron star mergers can form powerful jets streaming out at near light speed," said Goddard's Eleonora Troja, who led one of the Chandra teams and found the X-ray emission. "We had to wait for nine days to detect it because we viewed it from the side, unlike anything we had seen before."
On August 22, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope began imaging the kilonova and capturing its near-infrared spectrum, which revealed the motion and chemical composition of the expanding debris.
"The spectrum looked exactly like how theoretical physicists had predicted the outcome of the merger of two neutron stars would appear," said Andrew Levan at the University of Warwick in Coventry, England, who led one of the proposals for Hubble spectral observations. "It tied this object to the gravitational wave source beyond all reasonable doubt."
Astronomers think a kilonova's visible and infrared light primarily arises through heating from the decay of radioactive elements formed in the neutron-rich debris. Crashing neutron stars may be the universe's dominant source for many of the heaviest elements, including platinum and gold.
Because of its Earth-trailing orbit, Spitzer was uniquely situated to observe the kilonova long after the Sun moved too close to the galaxy for other telescopes to see it. Spitzer's Sept. 30 observation captured the longest-wavelength infrared light from the kilonova, which unveils the quantity of heavy elements forged.
"Spitzer was the last to join the party, but it will have the final word on how much gold was forged," says Mansi Kasliwal, Caltech assistant professor and principal investigator of the Spitzer observing program. 
Numerous scientific papers describing and interpreting these observations have been published in Science, Nature, Physical Review Letters and The Astrophysical Journal.
Gravitational waves were directly detected for the first time in 2015 by LIGO, whose architects were awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in physics for the discovery.

Talwars return home, after acquittal in murder of their daughter Arushi, help Hemraj

Four days after the Allahabad High Court acquitted them of the sensational murder of their 14-year-old daughter Arushi and domestic help Hemraj Banjade on the night of May 15-16, 2008, dentist couple Rajesh and Nupur Talwar walked out free from the Dasna jail and returned home to Noida on Monday.

Rajesh, Nupur Talwar return home after acquittal in Arushi muder case
Four days after the Allahabad High Court acquitted them of the sensational murder of their 14-year-old daughter Arushi and domestic help Hemraj Banjade on the night of May 15-16, 2008, dentist couple Rajesh and Nupur Talwar walked out free from the Dasna jail near here and returned home to Noida.
The High Court, while acquitting the Talwars, who had spent four years in prison after being convicted by the trial court, had said that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had not been able to conclusively prove their guilty.
The much-awaited judgement overturned the verdict of a special CBI court in Ghaziabad which had, on November 26, 2013, sentenced the couple to life imprisonment after holding them guilty of the twin murders.
The release of the Talwars took some days as the jail authorities had to receive a copy of the court verdict, delivered on October 12, and complete various other formalities.
The Talwars' release was delayed because a copy of that verdict had not been delivered to the jail last week. The Talwars have asked for police protection, citing an earlier attack on Rajesh Talwar at the Ghaziabad court.
There was a large crowd waiting outside the Dasna prison  in Ghaziabad as Dr. Rajesh Talwar and his wife Nupur stepped out of jail, holding bags, even as scores of cameras recorded the moment in a case that has captured the imagination of people across the country.
From the prison, the Talwars drove straight to Dr. Nupur Talwar's parents' home in Noida, not far from their own flat where Arushi and Hemraj were found with their throats slit on May 16, 2008. Police had provided tight security to them in view of an earlier attack on Dr. Rajesh Talwar at the Ghaziabad court. There was a large crowd outside their Noida home this evening when  they arrived from jail.
Members of the Talwars' family as well as their lawyers pleaded with journalists to respect their privacy so that they could rebuid their lives after nine years of suffering.
Media reports said the couple had promised to visit the prison every fortnight to treat prisoners. During their four years in prison, they had helped revive the dental department at the prison hospital and treated other prisoners as well as the staff, police officers and their families without charging anything.
However, the mystery continues about who murdered the teenager and Hemraj in a case that has evoked tremendous interest across the nation and has been the subject of a book and also a Hindi movie.
The two-judge bench of the Allahabad High Court, comprising Justices B. K. Narayana and A. K. Mishra, upheld the appeals filed by the Talwars against the Ghaziabad court's order, saying they could not be held guilty on the basis of the evidence on record.
They said the prosecution's hypothesis that the parents were the only other people in the house at the time of the murder and nobody else had entered or left the house during that period could not be proved.
“Nupur and Rajesh Talwar should be forthwith released because the entire evidence supplied by the prosecution counsel was not sufficient and the chain of circumstances could not be established,” Justice Narayana said in his verdict.
The Ghaziabad court had given Dr. Rajesh Talwar and Dr. Nupur Talwar life imprisonment under section 302 and five years in jail under section 201 (destruction of evidence).
Dr Rajesh Talwar was also sentenced to one year in prison under section 203 for misleading the police by filing a "fake" first information report (FIR) about his daughter's murder.
Aarushi was found murdered in her room in the Talwars' residence at Jal Vayu Vihar in Noida, near here, in the morning of May 16, 2008 after being killed sometime during the previous night, just days before her 14th birthday.
Initially, Hemraj, who was missing, was suspected to be behind the murder but the case took a major twist when, on the next day, his body was found on the terrace of the Talwars' apartment building. Hemraj had clearly been murdered in the same way as Aarushi was, and at the same time.
After initially being investigated by the Noida police, the case was handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which accused the Talwars of commiting the murder and destruction of evidence.
The couple had always maintained they were held for a crime they had not committed and had said at that time they would appeal in the Allahabad High Court against the Ghaziabad court's verdict.
The case, which has witnessed several twists and turns over the past nine years, had also attracted unprecedented media attention. In August 2009, the Supreme Court had restrained the media from sensational or scandalous reporting of the case.
Dr Rajesh Talwar had, immediately after the discovery of the body of Aarushi, lodged a complaint with the police in which he said he suspected the missing servant Hemraj of the murder. Both Aarushi's and Hemraj's bodies had injuries caused by a blunt weapon and their throats had been slit in a similar manner.
In December 2010, the CBI had filed a closure report, in which it ruled out involvement of the Talwar's other employees and making it clear that they suspected the dentist-couple of having killed their ddaughter. They cited various circumstantial evidence in this regard, but said there was an absence of a clear motive and an incomplete understanding of the sequence of events on that fateful night.
The agency urged special judicial magistrate Priti Singh to close the case, but she rejected the closure report and summoned Aarushi's parents as accused.
The Talwars moved petitions against the magistrate's orders before the Allahabad High Court and the Supreme Court and they also filed a review petition, which were all rejected.
The CBI said the manner which the throats of Aarushi and Hemraji had been slit pointed to the use of a surgical knife. It also said the injuries on their bodies were most likely caused by a golf club. Both these factors pointed to the Talwars, it said.
The Talwars, on the other hand, have been saying that their daughter was killed by three of their helpers who knew Hemraj well and often visited him at their home.
The CBI arrested the three men -- Krishna, Rajkumar, the domestic help of Talwars' neighbour and Vijay Mandal, the driver of the Talwars' neighbour --  in 2008 but released them later, saying it had found nothing against them.
In the initial investigation conducted by the Uttar Pradesh police, they suspected the dentist couple and had arrested Dr Rajesh Talwar on May 23, 2008.
Dr Rajesh Talwar is a dental surgeon, while his wife, who was born to a Maharashtrian family, is an orthodontist. They had met while studying at the Maulana Azad Medical College here and got married later. They had a fairly successful practice. Aarushi was their only daughter.

Centre takes up issue of supplies of essential commodities with Maharashtra govt.

The Government of Maharashtra has informed the Centre that it has issued strict instructions on October 10 to all Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs) in the state to carry out the sale and pruchase of agricultural produce of agriculturists without any interruption.
The assurance came after reports appeared in the media that APMCs in Nashik, Maharashtra such as Lasalgaon, Pimpalgaon and so on may remain closed for a period of 7-9 days during the Diwali festival.
To ensure that the supplies of essential commodities are maintained in consumer interest, the Department of Consumer Affairs, Government of India had taken up this with the Maharashtra government.
"In this context, Government of Maharashtra has informed that vide directions dated 12.10.2017, the State Government has issued strict directions to all Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees in the State to carry out the sale-purchase business of agricultural produce of agriculturists without any interruption. 
"The State Government has issued directions under the Maharashtra Agricultural Produce Marketing (Development and Regulation) Act, 1963 that business of sale-purchase of all agricultural produce in Agricultural Produce Market Committees in the State may remain closed, if necessary, during the holidays between 19.10.2017 to 22.10.2017.
"All the Agricultural Produce Market Committees shall continue with the business of sale-purchase of all agricultural produce on preceding and succeeding days of aforementioned dates. These directions shall be implemented scrupulously by all Agricultural Produce Market Committees. The Director Board of concerned Agricultural Produce Market Committees shall be held responsible for any violation of these directions and any market functionary responsible for closure of business and violation of these directions shall be dealt with under the relevant provisions in the Act," the release added.

Airtel offers iPhone 7 at down payment of Rs 7777 and 24 instalments with built-in post-paid plan

Telecom services provider Bharti Airtel today announced the launch of its Online Store
that will offer a range of premium smartphones with affordable down payments, instant credit verification and financing, and bundled monthly plans.
The store went live today with Apple’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus variants and the company plans to add devices from all leading brands to its offerings in the near future, a press release from the company said.
According to the release said the iPhone 7 (32 GB) is available at a down payment of just Rs 7777 and 24 monthly installments of Rs 2499. The monthly installments have a built-in high-end postpaid plan which offers 30 GB data, unlimited calling (local, STD, national roaming), and Airtel Secure package that covers the device against any physical damage and offers cyber protection.
The company said the online store is part of its Project Next, which is aimed at transforming customer experience across all of its services and touch points. Airtel plans to invest up to Rs 2000 crore under Project Next to launch several "exciting digital innovations" to step change the simplicity and interactivity of the Airtel customer experience.
"Airtel’s Online Store is an integrated digital platform aimed at making it easier for customers to upgrade to smartphones they always aspired for, without the constraint of high put-down prices and cumbersome financing schemes. All smartphones on the platform will come with down payments that are a fraction of the market price of the device and the convenience of easy monthly instalments with a built-in postpaid plan. The postpaid plan will offer large bundles of data, unlimited calling and device protection package, allowing customers to enjoy the device to the fullest on India’s leading smartphone network," the release said.
"The entire Online Store journey is digitally enabled, right from purchasing the device to instant financing and plan activations, all within a few clicks over a computer or a smartphone/tablet. The device will get delivered to the customer’s doorstep," it said.
Harmeen Mehta, Global CIO & Director – Engineering, Bharti Airtel said, “This is yet another exciting digital innovation from Airtel to delight customers. Not only are we making it easier for millions of customers to upgrade to devices they always wanted, we are also making the entire process seamless and simple through digital technologies. Imagine getting your dream device, instant credit to purchase it and a great plan to go with it, all available in one place with a few clicks. All this is a product of some cutting-edge digital engineering by the in-house teams at Airtel. We would also like to thank our partners for integrating their APIs seamlessly with our platform to enable a great customer experience.” 
Airtel has partnered with Apple Inc., HDFC Bank, Clix Capital, Seynse Technologies, Brightstar Telecommunications and Vulcan Express to enable the digital experience on its Online Store.
Airtel’s Online Store services are currently available to customers in 21 cities across India and will be expanded to other cities and towns shortly.

India’s seafood export soars to 2,51,735 MT worth Rs 9,066 crore in Q1

Spurred by soaring demand for its frozen shrimp and frozen squid in international markets, India’s marine products industry exported 2,51,735 MT of seafood valued at $ 1.42 billion (Rs 9,066.06 crore) in  the first quarter (Q1) of 2017-18, ended June, as against 2,01,223 MT and $ 1.17 billion dollars, respectively, a year earlier.
The United States and South East Asia retained their position as the major importers of India’s seafood, followed by the European Union (EU) and Japan, while the demand from China saw a healthy surge during the period, a press release from the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) said.
The release said frozen shrimp continued to be the top export item of marine products basket, accounting for a share of 50.66% in quantity and 74.90% of the total earnings in dollar terms. Shrimp exports increased by 20.87% in terms of quantity and 21.64% in dollar terms.
Frozen squid was the second largest export item, accounting for 7.82% in quantity and 5.81% in dollar earnings, registering a growth of 40.25% in dollar terms.
Besides frozen shrimp and frozen squid, India’s other major seafood product was frozen fish, which recorded a growth of 24.96 per cent, 17.55 per cent and 21.75 per cent in terms of quantity, rupee value and dollar earnings, respectively.
 “Healthy harvests of shrimp, drastic reduction in the rejection rate by the EU countries, sustained measures to ensure quality and improved infrastructure facilities for production of value added products were chiefly responsible for India’s surge seafood exports,” said Dr. A Jayathilak, Chairman, MPEDA. “What is satisfying is that growth in exports was achieved in the face of continued uncertainties in the global seafood trade.”
The USA imported 54,344 MT of Indian seafood worth $ 499.28 million, accounting for a share of 35.05% in dollar terms, with exports to that country registering a growth of 39.56%, 33.66% and 38.93% in terms of quantity, value in rupees and US dollars, respectively.
South East Asia continued to be the second largest destination of India’s marine products, with a share of 31.26% in dollar terms, followed by the EU (14.70%), Japan (6.68%), the Middle East (3.47%), China (3.06%) and Other countries (5.79%). Overall, exports to South East Asia increased by 50.37% in quantity, 28.84% in rupee value and 33.87% in dollar earnings.
The EU continued to be the third largest destination for Indian marine products with a share of 15.23% in quantity. Frozen shrimp was the major item of exports, accounting for a share of 38.85% in quantity and 53.17% in dollar earnings out of the total exports to the EU.
Japan, the fourth largest destination for Indian seafood, accounted for 6.68% in earnings and 7.26% in quantity terms. Frozen shrimp continued to be the major item of exports to Japan with a share of 39.49% in quantity and 73.32% in US dollar value out of the total exports to that country.
The overall export of shrimp during the first quarter of the current fiscal was pegged at 1, 27,521 MT worth $ 1066.97 million. USA was the largest import market for frozen shrimp (50,630 MT), followed by the South East Asia (41,934 MT), EU (14,893 MT), Japan (7,222 MT), the Middle East (3,753 MT), China (2,804 MT) and other countries (6,285 MT).
The export of Vannamei shrimp, a major seafood delicacy, improved from 82,193 MT to 92,341 MT in April-June 2017, registering a growth of 12.35%in quantity. In value terms, 51% of total Vannamei shrimp was exported to USA, followed by 25.99% to the South East Asian countries, 9.87% to the EU, 4.26% to Japan, 2.23% to the Middle East, 1.58% to China and 5.08% to other countries.
Japan was the major market for Black Tiger shrimp with a share of 49.12% in value terms, followed by South East Asia (23.84%) and USA (17.77%).
Frozen shrimp continued to be the principal export item to USA with a share of 95.83% in dollar terms while Vannamei shrimp to that country showed an increase of 35.20% in quantity and 36.44% in dollar terms.
As for exports to South East Asian markets, Vietnam was the biggest importer with a share of 84.45% in dollar terms, followed by Thailand (7.33%), Taiwan (3.13%), Malaysia (2.01%), Singapore (1.76%) and South Korea (1.11%). Vietnam alone imported 69,988 MT of Indian seafood, the quantity being much more than that of any other individual markets like the US, Japan or China.
Export of frozen cuttlefish showed an increase in quantity terms, rupee value and dollar terms by 5.07%, 20.84% and 25.51%, respectively.
Indian ports handled a total marine cargo of 2,51,735 tons worth Rs 9066.06 crore (1424.46 million dollars) in the first quarter of FY 2017-18 as compared to 2,01,223 tons worth Rs 7699.61 crore (1166.59 million dollars) in the corresponding period  of the previous fiscal.
Vizag, which handled marine cargo of 43,315 tons worth Rs 2,481.03 crore, was the leading port, followed by Krishnapatnam (19,917 tons, Rs 1096.33 crore), Kochi (29,630 tons, Rs 1,027.39 crore), Kolkata (21,433 tons, Rs 993.74 crore), JNP (37,011 tons, Rs 971.77 crore), Pipavav (49,334 tons, Rs 831.83 crore), Tuticorin (10,986 tons, Rs 582.50 crore), and Chennai (11,300 tons, Rs 516.09 crore), the release added.

India's wholesale inflation falls to 2.6% in September 2017

India's headline annual rate of inflation, based on the revised monthly wholesale price index (WPI), with base 2011-12=100, cooled down to 2.60% in September, 2017 as compared to 3.24% in the previous month and 1.36% in the corresponding month of the previous year, thanks to a fall in food and fuel prices.
An official statement, quoting provisional data, said here today that the official WPI for ‘All Commodities’ (Base: 2011-12=100) for September, 2017 declined by 0.4% to 114.3 from 114.8 for the previous month.
The statement said build-up inflation rate in the financial year so far was 0.97% compared to a build-up rate of 3.44% in the corresponding period of the previous year.
The rate of inflation based on WPI Food Index consisting of ‘Food Articles’ from Primary Articles group and ‘Food Product’ from Manufactured Products group decreased from 4.41% in August, 2017 to 1.99% in September, 2017.
The rate of inflation for Fuel and Power, which has a weight of 13.15 in the index, fell to 9.01% in September from 9.99 in August, the statement said.
The statement said that, for July, 2017, the final WPI for ‘All Commodities’ (Base: 2011-12=100) and annual rate of inflation remained unchanged at its provisional level of 113.9 and 1.88 percent, respectively, as reported on August 14.

Bharti Airtel, Millicom announce deal closure to combine operations in Ghana

Telecom services provider Bharti Airtel Limited and Millicom International Cellular S.A., through their respective subsidiaries, today announced the closure of the deal to combine their operations in Ghana.
Under the agreement, Airtel and Millicom will have equal ownership (50:50) and governance rights in the combined entity, which will have revenues of approximately $ 300 million, a press release from Airtel said here.
Both Airtel and Millicom will have board representations and management positions in the merged entity. The Ghana National Communications Authority (NCA) granted approval for the merger proposal early this month, the release said.
According to the release, the merged entity will become Ghana’s second largest mobile operator with close to 10 million subscribers. 
"The combined networks of the two companies will cover more than 80% of Ghana’s population, in particular in villages and far flung areas, and serve customers with affordable world-class voice/ data services, affordable global roaming and mobile banking services. It will also have one of the largest sales and distribution network to enhance customer convenience.
"The significant synergies from this merger will help the combined entity achieve profitability and cash-flow levels faster. In addition, the merged entity with its robust optic fibre footprint and increased number of data centres will bring significant benefits to diverse portfolio of enterprise customers - including both large corporations and SMEs," it said.
Roshi Motman, the current CEO of Tigo Ghana, will be the new CEO of the joint entity. The merged entity will be deconsolidated and treated as a strategic asset in the form of a joint venture and the company will continue to operate both brands - Airtel and Tigo. The process of business consolidation will take place over the next few weeks, the release said.
The Airtel and Millicom teams will work together to ensure smooth transition, streamlining of operations and realization of synergies to ensure swift accrual of the merger’s benefits to all stakeholders, it said.
Tigo started operations in Ghana in 1992 as the first mobile network operator. It is part of Millicom International Cellular (MIC) which provides mobile, voice, data, cable television, broadband and financial services to over 50 million customers in 13 emerging markets in Africa and Latin America. In Ghana, it was first launched under the brand name, Mobitel and in 2002 it was rebranded to Buzz. This later changed to Tigo in 2006 to reflect the standard brand name within the Millicom Group.
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