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India reiterates support for independent Palestine with East Jerusalem as capital

India on Tuesday reiterated its firm support for the struggle of the Palestinian people to achieve a sovereign, independent, viable and united state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, living within secure and recognized borders, side by side and at peace with Israel.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meeting the President of the Palestine National Authority, Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, in New Delhi on September 11, 2012.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meeting the President of the Palestine National Authority, Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, in New Delhi on September 11, 2012.

India today reiterated its firm support for the struggle of the Palestinian people to achieve a sovereign, independent, viable and united state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, living within secure and recognized borders, side by side and at peace with Israel.

"Support for the Palestinian cause has been a cornerstone of India’s foreign policy," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told journalists here at a joint interaction with Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas after the two sides held delegation level talks.
 
Dr Singh said his talks with Mr Abbas were useful and aimed at further expanding and strengthening the India-Palestine partnership. This relationship is rooted in history and flows from the national ethos, he said.
 
He said India had played an active role in supporting the efforts of the State of Palestine to secure full member status at UNESCO. He said the country would continue to support Palestine’s bid for full and equal membership of the United Nations. 
 
"We also look forward to early resumption of peace talks between the Palestinians and Israelis leading to a comprehensive resolution between the two sides," he said.
 
Dr Singh said that, bilaterally, India would continue to support the development and nation-building efforts of Palestine. 
 
"The MOUs signed today are indicative of our commitment to contribute in the areas of Information & Communication Technology, vocational training and education," he said.
 
He announced a contribution of $ 10 million from India to Palestine’s budget for this year to help address its financial requirements. 
 
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Later today, President Mahmoud Abbas will inaugurate the new Palestinian Embassy building, which has been built with Indian support. "The building is a symbol of the enduring friendship between our two countries and our two peoples," he said.
 
Dr Singh said President Abbas and he had also exchanged views on regional developments, particularly the developments in the West Asian and the Gulf region. 
 
"There is a great degree of similarity in our views. We both agree that the developments in the region must be addressed through political dialogue and peaceful means without recourse to violence and outside interference, while taking into account the legitimate aspirations of all people. 
 
"I look forward to working together with President Mahmoud Abbas to further carry forward our very special bilateral relations," he added.
 
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Shinde urges States to develop capacities to tackle terrorism

Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said on Thursday that the Government was aware of the threats that various terrorist outfits still continued to pose and cognisant of the continuous thrust of Pakistan-based Islamist groups to infiltrate terrorists and hardware across the border.

Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde delivering the inaugural address at annual conference of Directors General and Inspectors General of Police, in New Delhi on September 6, 2012.
Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde delivering the inaugural address at annual conference of Directors General and Inspectors General of Police, in New Delhi on September 6, 2012.

Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde today said the Government was aware of the threats that various terrorist outfits still continued to pose and cognisant of the continuous thrust of Pakistan-based Islamist groups to infiltrate terrorists and hardware across the border and elevate the level of terrorist violence in different parts of India.

"I would urge you to take prompt notice of every piece of intelligence as it is received, develop capacities for addressing the threats posed by terrorism, share experiences and create an overall milieu of collaboration wherein there should be no distinction between Central agencies and State Police Forces as they work together towards achieving the common objective of curbing terrorism," he said in his inaugural address at the annual conference of Directors General of Pollice (DGPs) and Inspectors General of Police (IGPs) here.
 
"I draw comfort from the fact that, since January 2011, your collaborative efforts have resulted in the interdiction of 19 terrorist modules. Many of those involved have been exposed and will face trials," he said.
 
Mr Shinde said that, at the same time, there some cases like the serial blasts in Mumbai in mid-July 2011 and the blasts outside Delhi High Court in September 2011, wherein many perpetrators have so far managed to evade arrest.
 
"I would, therefore, call upon you to redouble your efforts for locating and apprehending such absconders so that the terrorist thrust can be blunted. It is my strong belief that every element of the security apparatus will strive hard for achieving these objectives we have in mind," he said.
 
Mr Shinde also stressed that threat-related intelligence should be carefully handled, and that should be worked upon diligently but discreetly. 
 
"Premature exposure of such intelligence can retard and even defeat the possibility of interdiction. Similarly, revealing of clues as collected by painstaking investigations to the print and electronic media alerts other conspirators and blunts the momentum of investigations. 
 
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"Lastly, effectiveness of novel techniques evolved by investigators is also quickly eroded by the indiscriminate disclosure of specifics in the public domain. Investigations must remain firmly focused on identifying precisely the perpetrators," he emphasized.
 
Mr Shinde said the serial bomb blasts in Pune on August 1, the day he assumed office, in which one person was injured, reflected the potential of terrorist groups, their ability to move swiftly across jurisdictional boundaries, maintain communication at the subliminal level, access hardware, and carry out terrorist actions with telling effect. 
 
He also said there was increasing evidence of resort taken by terrorists to the cyber-space domain. 
 
He said the recent incidents in Bangalore, Pune and other places, where motivated rumours and irresponsible use of social networking media led to the exodus of hundreds of people hailing from the North-East, posed a new challenge.
 
"Besides providing a pervasive infrastructure for discreet communication, cyberspace is proving to be a facilitator for malevolents seeking to enlist new recruits and to purvey a distorted version of the reality.  
 
"Anonymity that the user acquires in this medium can sometimes test the capacities of even the most experienced police investigator. Police forces will have to develop skills in this area not just for locating malicious content but also for identifying those responsible for posting it," he said.
 
Mr Shinde said Naxalism continued to pose a significant challenge. He said seven States are experiencing different levels of intensity of this problem, though nearly 80 per cent of Naxal violence is taking place in less than 30 districts, many of which are close to the inter-State boundaries.
 
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"There are indicators about increase in the number of trained and armed cadres, reorganisation of military potential for formation of new battalions, and the creation of well-developed indigenous capacity for accretions to their arsenal. 
 
"Confidence levels of the Maoists are exhibited in their ability to move in larger formations, hold Jan Adalats, obstruct thoroughfares, and recover levies. Jan Militia cadres are increasingly integrated into the armed forays of Naxal groups," he said.
 
The Minister said that, on its part, the Union Government is committed to providing every support required by the State Police Forces, and that is being done in a liberal way. 
 
"The approach of Central Government is to deal with left-wing extremism in a holistic manner, in the areas of security, development, good governance and public perception management. The Central Government is committed to deal firmly with left-wing extremism groups indulging in crime and violence.  The overall objective being to uphold the law of the land, provide security of life and property and provide a secure environment for development and economic growth," he said.
 
In this regard, he said that, with respect to security-related interventions, the Government of India provides financial assistance to States under various schemes like the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) Scheme, Special Infrastructure Scheme (SIS), the Fortified Police Station Scheme, and so on.  In addition, the Centre has also deployed 81 battalions of Central Armed Forces (CAPFs) to assist the State Governments.
 
In the development-related interventions, the Government is implementing the Integrated Action Plan (IAP) in 82 districts of India.  This is a specific scheme to address left-wing extremism problems with focus on creating public infrastructure and services.  
 
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"The implementation of this scheme at the State level has been extremely encouraging in most of the left-wing extremism affected States.  Also, an ambitious Road Requirement Plan-I to develop a total road length of 5477 kilometres in 34 most left-wing extremism affected districts is under progress.  This scheme is being implemented at a total cost of Rs. 7300 crore.  The Planning Commission also has a mechanism to monitor implementation of flagship schemes in  Integrated Action Plan districts," he said.
 
Mr Shinde said left-wing extremism affected States needed to improve the police-population ratio, strengthen the intelligence set-up, raise Special Forces to deal with the problem and enhance the state police budget by making adequate provisions for equipment, weaponry, mobility, communication, training, police station buildings including housing and forensic science. 
 
"You need to design operational strategies for optimal use of all resources. Central Armed Police Forces, particularly the CRPF, have developed tactics to deal with the threat posed by Naxals, particularly those that intend to operate close to inter-State boundaries. I would appeal to you to make use of this potential. The States should also give priority to effective implementation of developmental schemes leading to all-round development of left-wing extremism  affected areas, for a permanent solution to this problem," he said.
 
Turning to the North-East, Mr Shinde said the security situation there had, by and large, been improving because of the multi-pronged strategy adopted by the Central Government towards the demands of the insurgent groups operating in the region. 
 
"The insurgent groups are gradually realizing that the Central Government is serious about elevating the socio-economic status of the ethnic groups in the North Eastern States and providing funds through DONER and other infrastructural Ministries in the Central Government for the overall improvement of the North East in infrastructure, communication and connectivity.  Such confidence building measures over the years have induced more and more ethnic groups to come forward to shed violent means and to find solution to their problems through negotiations," he said.
 
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He said the Government was also strengthening the dispute resolution mechanism in the region.  Notifications for setting up of High Courts in Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura have been issued.  More focussed administrative efficiency is also likely to be put in place by North Eastern Areas Reorganization (Amendment) Bill, 2011 to enable separation of All India Services Cadre of Manipur and Tripura, he said.
 
"However, it is unfortunate that the recent violence caused by the ethnic Groups in Assam has been given communal colour and has resulted in heavy loss of lives and displacement of people to relief camps.  I am happy to note that normalcy is restoring to Assam gradually and people are going back from relief camps to their native places due to security arrangements made by the State Police in vulnerable areas. I would request the State Governments to take all possible measures to prevent recurrence of such incidents in future," he said.
 
Mr Shinde said recent months saw an increase in communal incidents in the country, specially in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra as compared with the same period last year.  
 
"However, the communal situation in the country by and large withstood the attempts made to provoke communities by various fundamentalist groups/organisations.  It is a tribute to the maturity of our citizens and even handling of such challenges by our State Police Forces," he said.
 
On Jammu and Kashmir, he expressed happiness at the success of efforts made by all elements of the J&K Government in ensuring steady progress towards controlling terrorist violence and buttressing the confidence of the people about the bright future of their province. 
 
"Excellent arrangements led to a successful Amarnath Yatra this year and the number of tourists to J&K has increased significantly, with more than 9.1 lakh tourists having visited that State so far this year as against about 5 lakh last year. We realise that there are still sections of society in J&K, albeit small ones with limited influence, which have grievances. Such groups should realise that spirit of accommodation can create the backdrop for  democratic aspirations of the people to be achieved," he said.
 
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Mr Shinde told the States that they had a responsibility to ensure that funds provided by the Centre are properly used, vacancies in police forces are filled up and special capacities created for dealing with threats to peace ad security posed by terrorism and Naxalism.
 
"The reach of the Multi-Agency Centre is proposed to be increased and efforts are afoot, with your cooperation, for implementation of the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network System (CCTNS). With regard to CCTNS, over Rs. 298 crores out of the Rs. 421 crores released to States/UTs are lying unspent. This money needs to be spent expeditiously as per MHA guidelines to enable further releases. I would request your personal involvement and interest in this key initiative," he told the DGPs and IGPs.
 
Mr Shinde expressed concern over the continuous increase in serious crimes against women during the period 2009-11 and caled appropriate measures for swift and salutary punishment to those found guilty of violence against women.
 
He said the overall representation of women in police forces should be increased through affirmative action as there were only 83,829 women police in the country as on January 1 this year.
 
He also expressed concern about the fact that, in 2011 alone, nearly 60,000 children were reported to be missing in the country.  "This is such a large number that it merits some attention from the police at all levels," he said.
 
He said the National Informatics Centre (NIC) had developed "Track the Missing Children" portal, which has been successfully piloted in West Bengal for the last three years and would be available to all police stations in the country as well as all the child care institutions.  This would enable faster detection of matches of lost and found children which will enable recovery, he said.
 
"The people of this country need to be assured that continuous efforts will be made to ensure their safety and security and police will work as their friend to extend helping hand in any kind of situation," he added.
 
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Ramdev to protest outside Parliament, calls for boycott of corrupt politicians

As the Government continued to studiously ignore Baba Ramdev's fast against corruption and black money at the historic Ramlila Ground in the capital, that he began on August 9, the yoga guru on Monday announced he sit on a protest outside Parliament till his demands for steps against these evils are met.

 
Act on Black Money by Sunday evening: Ramdev to PM

As the Government continued to studiously ignore Baba Ramdev's fast against corruption and black money at the historic Ramlila Ground here, that he began on August 9, the yoga guru today announced that he would march towards Parliament and sit on a protest there till his demands for steps against these evils are met.

Ramdev had initially planned to sit on a fast at Ramlila Ground for three days, but when there was no response from the Government, he issued an ultimatum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to announce decisive steps against corruption and black money by Sunday evening or face a revolution across the country from today.
 
That deadline also passed without any reaction from the Government, and Ramdev announced this morning that the next round of the agitation would be staged outside Parliament.
 
He made it clear that he was not staging a "gherao" of Parliament, because there were many good and honourable Members in both Houses.
 
But he called for a social and political boycott of those politicians who are selling the country's interests and amassing illicit wealth.
 
Ramdev had made three main demands at the start of his fast -- that the Government pass a strong Lokpal Bill (for an anti-corruption ombudsman), take steps to bring back to the country the illicit wealth allegedly stashed abroad by tax evaders and enact a citizens' charter.
 
Ramdev said the protest outside Parliament would be peaceful and non-violent and told the police to act against any "anti-social elements" who might try to cause disturbances.
 
Addressing the crowd at Ramlila Ground here this morning, Ramdev said the Government had failed to hear the voice of the poor and hungry, which he had tried to raise from the venue of his fast.
 
"The Government has become very deaf," he said.
 
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Among those who turned up to share the dais with Baba Ramdev this morning at Ramlila Ground were opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Nitin Gadkari, BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) convener Sharad Yadav and Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy. 
 
Yesterday, former Army chief Gen V K Singh and former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Kiran Bedi, a key member of social activist Anna Hazare's campaign on similar issues, had turned up to express their support for Ramdev's movement.
 
Addressing the crowd at the venue of his protest yesterday, Ramdev said he had given the Government a full opportunity and ample time to act in the matter. "But if they cannot hear the voice of the people emanating from the Ramlila maidan, they cannot blame me for defaming them," he said.
 
"They are doing it themselves, they are digging their own graves with their own hands," he said.
 
Ramdev said the Prime Minister was personally a very honest person, but it was now time for him to show "political honesty", too.
 
He said he had written to Dr Singh in this regard and given him time till Sunday evening to announce decisive steps against corruption and black money.
 
He said that, if Dr Singh failed to act, there would be questions raised about his political honesty.
 
Ramdev said Dr Singh had not delivered on his election promise of bringing back black money from abroad within 100 days of assuming office. "Many 100 days have passed since then," he said.
 
The yoga guru had also said that he would expose, with full evidence, details of the misdeeds of Congress leaders.
 
"Why don't you act against black money? Why don't you declare the illegal money stashed abroad as national wealth? Is it because it is is your money?" he asked the Congress, which heads the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) at the Centre.
 
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Ramdev begins three-day fast, makes three demands in fight against corruption

Yoga guru Baba Ramdev on Thursday launched a three-day fast at the historic Ramlila Ground in the capital as part of his fight against corruption and black money, and made three demands -- that the Government pass a strong Lokpal Bill, bring back illicit wealth stashed abroad by tax evaders and enact a citizens' charter.

 
CBI and Lokpal on Ramdev's agenda
Yoga guru Baba Ramdev today launched a three-day fast at the historic Ramlila Ground in the capital as part of his fight against corruption and black money, and made three demands -- that the Government pass a strong Lokpal Bill, bring back illicit wealth stashed abroad by tax evaders and enact a citizens' charter.
 
The yoga guru, who was returning to the Ramlila Ground 14 months after the police had evicted him from there in a midnight swoop during a similar protest in June last year, told the crowd at the venue of his protest that he would outline his future course of action if the Government did not act on his demands.
 
He made it clear that his movement had no political agenda and said that his agitation was only aimed at making India a better place.
 
"If they cannot understand the voice of peace, then may be we have to make them listen to the voice of revolution but without violence," he said.
 
Speaking again in the evening at the end of the first day of the protest, he said that, if the Government acted on his demands, prices of all commodities would come down drastically, with petrol prices falling to Rs 35 a litre.
 
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"But for this, you need an honest and courageous Prime Minister," he said.
 
Ramdev also wanted a change in the process of appointing the director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Central Vigilance Commissioner, the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Election Commissioners.
 
Referring to the reported remarks of Union Minister Harish Rawat that the Government was ready for talks, he said his doors were also open at all times.
 
None of the prominent supporters of social activist Anna Hazare, who had called off an indefinite fast for a strong Lokpal Bill, a few days ago at Jantar Mantar in the capital, was  present at the venue today.
 
Mr Arvind Kejriwal, a key member of "Team Anna" had announced the group's decision to form a political party before they broke their fast.
 
Ramdev appeared to be against such a move, and underlined this when he said today that he would support the social agenda of Mr Hazare.
 
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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.
 
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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

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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.
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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.
 
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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. 
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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.
 
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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.

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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.

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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.

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"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.

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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.

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BJP will run countrywide campaign to identify infiltrators if voted back to power in 2019: Shah

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The BJP on Monday said it will run a countrywide campaign to implement the National Register of Citizens (NRC) if the party is voted back to power in 2019, adding the party will identify and send back the infiltrators.
 
The Bharatiya Janata Party said it should have a "long and uninterrupted rule" from panchayat to Parliament, like the Congress had for over 30-35 years, to realise its goal of making India great and a world leader.
 
"After the BJP came to power in 2014, we have boosted the national security. We also implemented the NRC in Assam and identified 40 lakh infiltrators," BJP President Amit Shah told the booth-level workers of 230 assembly constituencies of Madhya Pradesh through video conferencing. 
 
He said the Assam government identified 40 lakh people in the state who were unable to prove their citizenship. However, corrections are going on. 
 
Attacking Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Shah said: "The Congress opposed the NRC. They made it a human rights issue. The Congress and Rahul Gandhi should clear their stand over the NRC and tell the nation whether the infiltrators should be sent back to their countries or not."
 
Shah said the people have faith in the Modi government and they would be voting for him in 2019. 
 
"And once voted back to power, we shall run a countrywide campaign to send back the infiltrators," he said, adding the party was not bothered about vote-bank politics as national security was a prime concern for it.
 
The BJP chief accused the Congress president of sympathising with urban Maoists and said, "BJP governments have taken strong steps against the Maoists. When Maharashtra government arrested a few urban Maoists, the Congress president and their leaders took their side and opposed the step."
 
"The Congress and its leaders have soft corner for the urban Maoists. The Congress should clear its stand on Maoists and urban Maoists," he said.
 
He also attacked the Congress for describing Maoists as revolutionaries and said that the party and the government believe in revolution when "we provide medicines to poor, when we provide electricity, when we provide good education system for children."
 
He urged the party workers to visit all homes and explain the party's ideology over the NRC and Maoists as well as government intention towards them. 
 
Shah also praised Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan for brining the state out of the "sick" state category and said: "The state has done a lot of growth in last 15 years in all sectors."
 
The BJP leader asked the party workers to not take the 2018 Assembly election in the state as any normal election. 
 
IANS
 

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Idea of security has grown beyond need to maintain India’s territorial integrity: Kovind

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President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday said that, in view of the challenging and dynamic global environment, the idea of security has grown beyond the need to maintain the nation’s territorial integrity. 
 
Addressing the faculty and participants of the 58th Course of the National Defence College (NDC), Mr Kovind said, “Today, the idea of security incorporates economic and energy security, as well as concerns about cyber-security, health, food, emerging technologies and the environment. 
 
“In an increasingly connected world, political, social and economic upheavals beyond our national borders impact our security more strongly than ever before,” he added.
 
“A country’s ability to successfully master and negotiate the concerns in each of the above areas defines its national power. No doubt, each of these areas requires specialisation and analysis. However, they are also interlinked, calling for an integrated approach from those responsible for our security, as well as a process of constant learning and knowledge updating,” Mr Kovind said.
 
“It is quite a complex task to bring different disciplines together to work in an integrated manner. In a democratic system like India’s, this requires different agencies and departments of the state – or frankly even the private sector – to work in coordination. And to understand the strengths and limits of each other’s functioning.
 
“This means that the political executive and officers of the civil services must be conversant with the capabilities and thinking of the defence forces. Similarly, military officers need to be sensitised to the constitutional and administrative framework within which the executive operates. All of these are elements in the creation of a national security approach,” he added.
 
The President pointed out that the success of any nation-state in this regard depends on how effective it is in developing its concerned human resources. It is in this context that the NDC course is so important. 
 
“All of you – civil and military officers – come together for a period of almost 11 months. This, I am sure, provides you ample opportunities to share your specialised expertise and related perspectives with your course mates. 
 
“The course must have enriched your understanding of each other’s strengths and constraints and the possible opportunities for collaboration. Ultimately, these 11 months are an investment for building a corpus of a uniquely skilled set of officers who can understand, design and implement a holistic security approach. This course meets not just the individual country needs – but paves the way for an enlightened understanding of our shared security concerns.
 
“India and its neighbourhood – and the broader Asian continent – is faced with multiple security threats and risks that have assumed global significance. Terrorism and violent extremism are common challenges that are both state-based and asymmetrical. 
 
“Also, as Asia emerges as the hotspot and the growth centre of the global economic order, security concerns will increasingly focus on securing our economic interests and growth objectives. Threats will come in all domains – from the maritime space to cyberspace. We have to be prepared,” he said.
 
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GSLV Mk III-D2 to launch communication satellite GSAT-29 on Wednesday

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India's Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark-III (GSLV Mk-III-D2) is tentatively scheduled to take off on November 14 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, on the east coast, subject to weather conditions, with the high throughput communication satellite GSAT-29 on board.
 
GSLV MkIII-D2 will inject the satellite into Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO) with required inclination to the equator, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said.
 
"The satellite will be placed in its final Geostationary Orbit (GEO) using the onboard propulsion system. It may take few days after separation from launcher to reach its orbital slot," it said.
 
GSLV MkIII is a three-stage heavy lift launch vehicle developed by ISRO. The vehicle has two solid strap-ons as first stage, a liquid propellant core as second stage and a cryogenic as third stage. GSLV Mk III is designed to carry 4 ton class of satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) or about 10 tons to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), which is about twice the capability of GSLV Mk II.
 
GSAT-29 is a communication satellite weighing 3423 kg. The spacecraft will be located at 55 °E longitude and is designed for a mission life of 10 years.
 
GSAT-29 carries Ka/Ku-band high throughput communication transponders intended to meet the communication requirements of users including those in remote areas. In addition, several new technologies such as Q/V-band payload, data transmission through optical communication link will be demonstrated. This will help in realizing future advanced satellites, ISRO added.
 
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Centre withdraws its nominees from IIM Boards in accordance with IIM Act 2017

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The Union Government on Monday approved the process of constitution of Board of Governors for the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) in accordance with the IIM Act 2017.
 
As per the approval given after consultation with the Ministry of Law and Justice, the government has decided to withdraw its nominees from the existing boards. 
 
"In spirit of the Act, the government has decided to immediately withdraw the government nominees who are in excess of the provisions of the Act. This will pave the way for complete control of the institutions by reputed academicians and alumni," read the statement issued by the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry. 
 
Under the decision, three ex-officio members will re-select the current Chairperson -- unless there are issues with ineligibility -- and allow him or her to continue for a new full term. The Chairperson will then constitute the board as laid down in the Act's Section 10. 
 
The Chairperson will now select five alumni members, four eminent persons, and two faculty members, for a full new term. 
 
"This process is expected to be completed before December 15, 2018. On completion of the constitution of the Boards... The rules under the IIM Act would be issued, which would bring out the operational details more clearly," read the statement. 
 
That government nominees will become part of the Board in future is not yet clear, since Section 10 of the IIM Act, 2017 prescribes inclusion of one nominee each from the central and state governments in the Board. 
 
"The process of constitution of Boards for the IIMs, which have been given full powers of running the institutions, is a major development which signals complete autonomy of quality institutions in higher education and will ensure quality expansion of higher education," HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said in the statement.
 
The Board has the authority to decide fees for courses, and to create academic and administrative posts and also establish faculties as well as departments. 
 
IANS
 

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Prabhu leads delegation for RCEP meet in Singapore

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Union Minister for Commerce & Industry Suresh Prabhu is leading the Indian delegation for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) meeting in Singapore on November 12-13.
 
RCEP is a pact that aims to cover goods, services, investments, economic and technical cooperation, competition and intellectual property rights. 
 
Trade Ministers of the six-member group are meeting to continue their efforts to meet all the set targets. The chief negotiators had concluded the 24th round of meeting in Auckland, New Zealand, last month. 
 
India already has a free trade agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Japan and South Korea and it is negotiating similar pacts with Australia and New Zealand.
 
India is pushing for liberalizing norms to promote services trade as the sector accounts for about 55 % of the GDP. The country is looking for a balanced trade agreement as it would cover 40% of the global GDP and over 42% of the world’s population.
 
The RCEP members include 10 ASEAN members – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam and their six free trade agreement partners – India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
 
The ministerial meeting will be followed by the 2nd RCEP Leaders Summit on November 14 in Singapore.
 
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Scotland, Kosovo among nine debutants in Women's World Boxing Championships

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Formidable Scotland and Kosovo are among the nine countries who will make their debut in the 10th edition of the AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships commencing at the Indira Gandhi Stadium here on Thursday, making it one of the toughest competitions.
 
This is the first time that New Delhi will host the World Championships since 2006 when 178 boxers from 33 nations fought for the medals. 
 
After 12 years, women's boxing has improved significantly and is evident from the fact that 72 countries have registered to take part in the coming edition.
 
Previously, 102 nations from all of the five Confederations participated in the nine editions of the World Championships since 2001.
 
A strong boxing power, Scotland formed its women's boxing team a few years ago but never sent teams to the previous editions of the championships. Three of their boxers including 19-year-old Victoria Glover (57kg) will battle for the top honours. The other two are Stephanie Kernachan (51kg) and Megan Reid (64kg).
 
Kosovo joined the World Boxing Body (AIBA) in 2012 and their boxers attended in the men's elite, youth and junior part of the AIBA events in recent years. The country’s first woman debutante boxer Donjeta Sadiku is the EUBC European Women's Youth Champion and the 19-year-old pugilist claimed silver in the Taipei 2015 Junior World Championships.
 
The third European country making debut is Malta which is not a regular participating nation in the world events. Their last appearance was in the Milan 2009 World Championships in the men's elite competition but Australian-based Skye Falzon will be joining the Women's Championships.
 
Bangladesh launched their women's boxing program a few years ago and their National Championships are added to their calendar since 2013. Following the participation of women boxers in the South Asian Games (SAG), three women boxers from Bangladesh will be making their debuts at the world level here.
 
Another debutante at the Worlds will be Cayman Islands, a new entrant to women's boxing from the American continent. Their Commonwealth Games competitor Brandy Barnes is only 20 but she has got international experiences at the light flyweight (48kg) category.
 
Four nations from the Africa nations -- Congo, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Somalia -- will also be taking part for the first time. 
 
The Somalian boxer to watch will be London-based Ramla Ali, who represented England in the past but had decided to change her nationality and represent her home country.
 
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Rafale deal in conformity with 2013 Defence Procurement Procedure: Centre

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The Centre has defended the deal to procure 36 Rafale fighter jets in a fly-away condition and asserted that the purchase of the French fighter aircraft was in conformity with the process laid down in the Defence Procurement Procedure of 2013.
 
"It is reiterated that that the procurement process as laid down in the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP)-2013 was followed in procurement of 36 Rafale aircraft. The approval of DAC (Defence Acquisition Council) for procurement of 36 Rafale aircraft was taken, Indian Negotiating Team (INT) was constituted which conducted negotiations with the French side for about a year and approval of CCS (Cabinet Committee on Security) being CFA (competent financial authority) was taken before the signing of IGA (inter-government agreement)," the Centre has said.
 
The Centre has given other procedural details of the deal to the top court in a sealed cover, which it shared with the petitioner, M.L. Sharma and NGO Common Cause, on Monday, in pursuance of the top court's October 31 order.
 
On the contentious issue of HAL being dislodged as an Indian Offset Partner, the Centre has contended that in the IGA between India and France there was no mention of any private business entity.
 
"In so far as discharging the offset obligations by OEM and its Tier-I vendors through Indian Offset Partners (IOPs) is concerned, there is no mention of any private India business house(s) in IGA or Offset Contract," the Centre told the top court. 
 
"The offset contract does not envisage manufacture of 36 Rafale aircraft in India by any public or private sector firm," the government has said. 
 
Washing its hands of any involvement in the choice of private player as Offset Partner by Dassault Aviation, the Centre has said that it was entirely up to the French aircraft manufacturer to decide. 
 
"As per the Offset Contract, the vendor/OEM is required to confirm the details of the IOPs/products either at the time of seeking offset credits or one year prior to discharge of offset obligations," the Centre said. 
 
"The vendor/OEM is yet to submit a formal proposal in a prescribed manner indicating details of IOPs and products for offset discharge", which is likely to happen only in 2019. 
 
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Amongst the papers given to the top court, the Centre has also included the statement issued by the Press Information Bureau (PIB) by way of clarification on former French President Francois Hollande's interview concerning the selection of Reliance Defence as the offset partner. 
 
On September 22, the Defence Ministry issued a clarification on the offset guidelines, saying, "As per Defence Offset Guidelines, the foreign Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) is free to select any Indian company as its offset partner." 
 
It described the JV between Reliance Defence and Dassault Aviation as a "purely commercial arrangement between two private companies".
 
The Centre has cited security considerations to justify the aborting of the earlier process for the procurement of 126 jet fighters (18 in fly-away condition and 108 to be manufactured in India), and opting to purchase 36 Rafale aircraft instead, contending that,"During this long period of inconclusive 126 MMRCA process, our adversaries inducted modern aircraft and upgraded their older versions.
 
"Further," the government said, "they modernised and inducted aircraft with advance weapon and radar capabilities. As per available information, our adversaries inducted more than 400 fighters (equivalent to more than 20 Squadrons) during the period from 2010 to 2015."
 
"They not only inducted 4th Generation aircraft but also inducted 5th Generation Stealth Fighter Aircraft" and the "combined effect of our own reducing combat potential and our adversaries' enhancing their combat potential made the situation asymmetrical and extremely critical".
 
Thus, the government said that an "urgent need was felt to arrest the decline in the number of fighter squadrons in the IAF and enhance their combat capabilities."
 
IANS
 

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Delhi government offices, schools to shut on Tuesday

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All Delhi government offices and educational institutions will remain closed on account of Chhat puja on Tuesday, it was announced on Monday.
 
"All schools of Delhi (government, aided and unaided recognised) will remain closed on November 13 on account (of) Chhat festival," the Directorate of Education said.
 
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government had declared a holiday for Chhath puja last year too.
 
Meanwhile, AAP Minister Gopal Rai said the government had made arrangements for Chhath prayers at 1,000 locations in the city this year, up from 565 last year.
 
About 1,000 ghats have been set up on the banks of river Yamuna for the festival.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 

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DGCA suspends licence of senior Air India pilot who failed alcohol test

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The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Monday suspended the licence of Air India's senior pilot Arvind Kathpalia for three years, a day after he failed a pre-flight breath-analyzer test.
 
Kathpalia, who is also the Director of Operations at the flag carrier, failed a pre-flight alcohol detection test on Sunday. He was supposed to have piloted a New Delhi-London flight.
 
"In case of Captain Kathpalia being detected BA (breath-analyzer) positive on November 11, 2018, the privileges of his licence have been suspended for a period of three years from November 11 as per the provisions of applicable regulations," a senior DGCA official said.
 
As per the provision of Rule 24 of the Aircraft Rules, no crew member of a flight, including pilots and engineers, should take or use "any alcoholic drink, sedative, narcotic or stimulant drug or preparation" within twelve hours of the commencement of the flight or in the course of the flight.
 
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India’s retail inflation rate slows down to 3.31% in October, 2018

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India’s retail inflation rate slowed down to 3.31 percent in October, 2018 from 3.70 percent in the previous month, thanks to lower food prices, official data released here today said.
 
The retail inflation rate was also lower than the 3.58% recorded in the same month of the previous year, an official statement said, citing the data.
 
According to the data released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the inflation rate based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) stood at 2.82% in rural areas and 3.97% in urban areas, making for a combined rate of 3.31% in October, 2018.
 
The inflation rate based on the Consumer Food Price Index (CFPI) stood at -0.57% in rural areas and -1.15% in urban areas, adding up to a combined rate of -0.86% in October this year, as compared to 0.51% in the previous month and 1.90% in the same month of 2017.
 
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India's industrial output grows by 4.5% in September, 2018

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India's industrial output grew by 4.5 percent in September, 2018 as compared to the same month in the previous year, official data released here today said.
 
Industrial production had grown by 4.3 percent in the previous month.
 
The Quick Estimates of Index of Industrial Production (IIP), with base 2011-12=100, for September, 2018 released here today said the General Index for the month stood at 128.6.
 
The cumulative growth for the period April-September, 2018 over the corresponding period of the previous year stood at 5.1%.
 
The Indices of Industrial Production for the Mining, Manufacturing and Electricity sectors for September 2018 stood at 94.6, 131.4 and 162.9, respectively, with corresponding growth rates of 0.2%, 4.6% and 8.2% as compared to September 2017. The cumulative growth in these three sectors during April-September, 2018 over the corresponding period of 2017 was 3.3%, 5.3% and 6.2%, respectively.
 
An official press release said that 17 of the 23 industry groups in the manufacturing sector showed positive growth during September, 2018 as comapred to the corresponding month of the previous year.
 
The industry group ‘Manufacture of furniture’ showed the highest positive growth of 32.8%, followed by 20.9% in ‘Manufacture of wearing apparel’ and 20.6% in ‘Manufacture of wood and products of wood and cork, except furniture; manufacture of articles of straw and plaiting materials’. On the other hand, the industry group ‘Printing and reproduction of recorded media’ showed the highest negative growth of (-) 12.9% followed by (-) 10.7% in ‘Other manufacturing’ and (-) 7.3% in ‘Manufacture of tobacco products’.
 
The growth rates in September 2018 over September 2017 were 2.6% in Primary goods, 5.8% in Capital goods, 1.4% in Intermediate goods and 9.5% in Infrastructure/ Construction Goods. Consumer durables and Consumer non-durables recorded growth of 5.2% and 6.1%, respectively.
 
NNN
 

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Twitter CEO vows to curb misinformation before 2019 India elections

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Admitting that fighting fake news is no easy task, Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey on Monday said the social network is taking "multi-variable" steps, including the use of artificial intelligence (AI), to curb the spread of misleading information ahead of the 2019 general elections in India.
 
Addressing a town-hall meeting at the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi (IIT-Delhi), Dorsey said fake news is a way too big category.
 
"The real problem is not misinformation per se as jokes can also be categorised as misinfomation. But misinformation that is spread with the intent to mislead people is a real problem," stressed the Twitter CEO who is in India for a week-long maiden visit.
 
Dorsey, who got a rousing reception at IIT-Delhi with the students cheering the young entrepreneur with screams, likened solving the problem of misleading information to that of addressing a security issue, or building a lock.
 
"No one can build a perfect lock, but we need to stay ahead of our attackers. AI could probably help," Dorsey told the audience.
 
Conversations, Dorsey said, can help solve a lot of problems and encouraged the youth to ask tough questions to their leaders.
 
"You should ask your leaders what they are doing about solving global problems like climate change or what they are doing about having universal basic income," he told the audience.
 
Responding to a question on "edit button" on Twitter, he said it has been under consideration for quite some time now, but they are yet to find a suitable way to roll out the feature for its over 326 million active users. The "edit button" would eventually allow people to tweak the conversation.
 
Responding to a question on fears of AI displacing jobs, Dorsey said it was not something waiting to happen.
 
"AI is already displacing jobs. Programming will be done by AI and Machine Learning," he said, adding that the important point for people is to consider what decisions people want algorithms to take and what decisions they want to take for themselves.
 
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Twitter India also launched a new initiative titled #PowerOf18 at the event, aimed at encouraging youth to contribute in public debates and participate in civic engagement for the upcoming election season.
 
#PowerOf18 will encourage the youth to become change makers and "join the most important public conversation for the country -- the state and national elections," said Maya Hari, Vice-President and Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Twitter.
 
Earlier in the day, the Twitter CEO met Congress President Rahul Gandhi and discussed various steps the social network was taking to curb the spread of fake news and boost a healthy conversation on its platform.
 
Dorsey also met Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama over the past weekend. 
 
Twitter, along with other social media platforms including Facebook came under intense scrutiny of policymakers in the US for their failure to stop the spread of misinformation by Russia-linked accounts on their platforms during the 2016 Presidential election.
 
The micro-blogging site since then has stepped up its efforts to curb the spread of divisive messages and fake news on its platform.
 
To further protect the integrity of elections, Twitter recently announced that it would now delete fake accounts engaged in a variety of emergent, malicious behaviours.
 
However, according to a Knight Foundation study released in October, more than 80 per cent of the Twitter accounts linked to spread of disinformation during the 2016 US election are still active.
 
IANS
 

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CVC submits report on Verma to SC

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The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) on Monday submitted to the Supreme Court its report on a preliminary inquiry into allegations raised against CBI Director Alok Verma by his deputy and Special Director Rakesh Asthana.
 
Another report was also submitted before a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Shyam Kishan Kaul on the decisions taken by the officiating CBI Director M. Nageswara Rao since he took Verma's place.
 
The bench directed the next hearing on the matter for November 16. 
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 

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Delhi, NCR witness 'severe' air quality

 
Air quality remains ‘very poor’ in Delhi
Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) on Monday witnessed "severe" air quality with the minimum temperature recorded at 13.4 degrees Celsius, the season's average, the Met office said.
 
"The sky will be clear with mist in the early part of the day," an India Meteorological Department (IMD) official said.
 
The air quality across the NCR remained "severe", according to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR).
 
The humidity at 8.30 a.m. was 90 per cent. The maximum temperature was likely to hover around 31 degrees Celsius.
 
Sunday's maximum temperature settled at 31.4 degrees Celsius, three notches above the season's average while the minimum temperature was recorded at 12.4 degrees Celsius, two notches below the season's average.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 

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3rd T20I: West Indies post challenging total vs India

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A combined batting show helped West Indies post a challenging total of 181/3 against India in the third and final Twenty20 International match here on Sunday.
 
The visitors batsmen applied themselves perfectly and made sure they did not lose wickets till the end which saw middle-order batsmen Darren Bravo (43 not out) and Nicholas Pooran (53 not out) taking the charge towards the end, helping their team to post a decent score.
 
Opting to bat, openers Shai Hope (24) and Shimron Hetmyer (26) started the proceedings on a good note, forging a 51-run partnership in six overs.
 
But while trying to accelerate the scoring, Hope was dismissed by Yuzvendra Chahal in the seventh over.
 
After adding 11 more runs to the total with Bravo, Hetmyer was also sent packing by Chahal.
 
Despite two quick wickets, Bravo kept on playing sensibly with Denesh Ramdin (15). Just when things seemed good in the middle, Ramdir played a poor shot and was clean bowled by Washington Sundar in the 13th over when scoreboard was reading 94/3.
 
New batsman Pooran then joined Bravo in the middle and started punishing the bad balls. The duo forged a crucial unbeaten 87-run partnership for the fourth wicket and helped West Indies finish their innings in style.
 
Pooran played 25 balls and slammed four boundaries and as many sixes.
 
For India, Chahal took two wickets while Sundar scalped one.
 
Brief scores: West Indies 181/3 ( Darren Bravo 43 not out, Nicholas Pooran 53 not out ; Yuzvendra Chahal 2/28 ) against India.
 
IANS

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