BJP, Congress in upbeat mood as campaigning for bypolls ends

first_imgThe 20-day campaign for the by-election to the Panaji and Valpoi Assembly constituencies ended peacefully on Monday evening. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and opposition Congress claimed to win both the seats, which go to the polls on Wednesday. Results will be declared on August 28. Election Commission authorities here said on Monday that they are fully geared up to hold free and fair elections.In Panaji, 22,300 voters and in Valpoi 26,000 voters are eligible to cast their votes in the by-election that will decide the fate of the Manohar Parrikar-headed State government. The Chief Minister is contesting the election in Panaji for the sixth time and has been pitted against All India Congress Committee Secretary Girish Chodankar and Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM) chief Anand Shirodkar. Mr. Chodankar entered the fray after two candidates of the Congress shied away from contesting against Mr. Parrikar. The candidates have promised a congestion-free Panaji, ousting casinos from river Mandovi and moving out government offices from Panaji.In Valpoi, Health Minister Vishwajit Rane, the son of former Goa chief Minister and senior Congress legislator Pratapsingh Rane, is fighting the bypolls on BJP ticket. Mr. Rane resigned as a Congress legislator to join the BJP after the Assembly elections in February this year. He is pitted against Roy Naik, son for former Congress chief minister and senior Congress legislator Ravi Naik. Mr. Rane’s father has kept himself away from the Valpoi by-election and has decline to join the campaign. Around seven candidates are in the fray for the bypolls.On Monday, Mr. Parrikar exuded confidence of emerging victorious by a good margin. He publicly appealed to the voters of Panaji to “give a respectable margin of victory befitting a Chief Minister.” Mr. Chodankar claimed that the voters would elect him and restore the democracy “strangulated by Mr. Parrikar by hijacking people’s mandate” given to the Congress in the Assembly election.Fierce online campaignCampaigning of the bypolls remained low-key with both parties resorting to door-to-door campaigning. However, the battle of Panaji was fought with much ferocity on social media platforms. Mr. Parrikar was targeted in particular with videos of his “legendary U turns” being posted online. Mr. Parrikar’s stances on stopping grants to English medium primary schools, setting deadlines to rid Mandovi of offshore casinos and claiming the previous election would be his last came in for ridicule. The debates and the campaign online, especially pertaining to the Panaji seat, came to a flashpoint when the BJP filed a complaint with the Election Commission and the Cyber police over a news report that quoted Mr. Parrikar saying that he would return as Defence Minister if he was defeated in Panaji bypoll. The most popular videos online turned out to be parodies. A group backed by the GSM released the ‘Monu song’ (a taunting reference to Mr. Parrikar). Composer and singer Sidhanath Buyao’s “Bhai parody” also received huge hits. Mr. Parrikar’s supporters hit back releasing their own song thrashing the Congress.Mr. Parrikar even publicly cautioned his supporters to be wary of rampant misuse of social media platforms during the campaign. Mr. Parrikar emphasised on corner meetings to connect with voters in Panaji. Meanwhile, Mr. Vishwajit Rane opted for door-to-door campaigning to reach out to the electorate. ‘No faith in govt.’Goa Congress president Shantaram Naik alleged that the Congress could not match the BJP in the money spent for the bypolls. He expressed confidence that the people would vote for the Congress as they have lost faith in the BJP government. He claimed that the BJP behaved in a high-handed manner while forming the government after it did not win the majority in the Assembly election. He said the Congress had emerged as the largest party and was the rightful contender to form the government.The BJP’s coalition partners, including Goa Forward Party, Maharastrawadi Gomantak Party and independent MLAs, have came out in the open to support the party’s candidates.last_img read more

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GJM disappointed after talks with Bengal government

first_imgThe Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) has expressed its disappointment with the second round of talks with the West Bengal government held at Uttar Kanya on Tuesday. “It seems that the agenda of the meeting was decided in advance, namely to raise issues pertaining to minimum wages, bonus and salaries. There was no discussion on Gorkhaland or the need and modality of maintaining a tripartite dialogue on Gorkhaland,” a press statement issued by Jyoti Kumar Rai, assistant general secretary of GJM, said. The GJM also appealed to the Centre to “immediately convene a tripartite meeting” on the ongoing stalemate in Darjeeling. Seven members of the GJM, including two MLAs and expelled leader Binoy Tamang, participated in the meeting. The ongoing strike in Darjeeling has crossed 90 days. Attempts by the state government to normalise the situation in the hills have failed to yield much results. On Wednesday, the government resumed bus services between Darjeeling and Siliguri. The buses were escorted by vehicles of security forces. While expressing disappointment with the outcome of the meeting, the GJM said it was “partly appreciative” of CM’s statement that “every citizen has the right to do agitation”. The press statement also added that the “90 days of indefinite strike and the death of 11 Gorkhaland supporters was not bargain for bonus, salary, winter allowance for teachers and development issues”.The next round of talks is scheduled to be held on October 17.last_img read more

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UP coffers were empty when we took over, says Yogi Adityanath as he completes 6 months

first_imgUttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Monday alleged that “mismanagement” during the previous SP and BSP regimes had emptied the State’s coffers while corruption thrived and development came to a standstill.A day before his government completes six months in office, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister released a 24-page white paper on the functioning of previous regimes which blames them for a poor show on various fronts.Before presenting the achievements of our government in these six months, it is important to bring a white paper on the working of the previous governments, the UP Chief Minister told reporters.Due to the “faulty policies” of the previous governments, there was an imbalance in the financial condition of the state, the chief minister claimed.By the time the present government took over, the coffers were empty and debts were very high, Mr. Adityanath said.“Development works came to a standstill…brakes were applied not on corruption but on development,” he said as he lambasted the governments that preceded him.Presenting statistics to point towards the “dismal state” of Public Sector Units (PSUs) in the State, Mr. Adityanath said that 65 such entities suffered losses worth ₹6,489.58 crore in 2011-12.These losses rose to ₹17,789.91 crore in 2015-17 while the collective losses of PSUs in 2011-12 stood at ₹29,380.10 crore which rose to ₹91,401.19 crore in 2015-16, he said.PSUs which could have been used for the development of the state in the past 12 to 15 years have closed down and this proves how “irresponsible, corrupt and anti-people”, the previous governments have been, he said.Mr. Adityanath presented data to show that debt had risen two and a half times in the past ten years.Patronage was extended to anti-social elements as well as the corrupt and anarchy was created during this period, he added.“There has been a series of misdeeds by governments in the state during the past 12 to 15 years but we have focussed on some main points and presented them in a concise form…It is important as we are answerable to the people and committed to them,” he said.In the past six months, BJP government is working in line with its commitment towards the people, Mr. Adityanath claimed adding that the white paper was brought to expose the previous governments before the people.The 24-page document refers to law and order, farmers’ plight, sale of sugar mills, PWD, police recruitment, irregularities in UPPSC recruitment, NRHM, education, power, medical education, tourism and culture, housing and urban planning, women welfare and child development, excise, industrial development, minority welfare, construction of memorials and public transport.last_img read more

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Mehbooba govt. calls for resumption of Indo-Pak. peace process

first_imgThe Jammu and Kashmir government on Monday batted strongly for the resumption of a ‘peace and reconciliation process’ between India and Pakistan as the issue of repeated ceasefire violations by the neighbouring country rocked the state Assembly. Opposition National Conference (NC) supported the Mehbooba Mufti government’s stance while calling for a strict implementation of the 2003 ceasefire agreed between the two countries. Ravinder Raina, a legislator of the BJP, which shares power with the PDP in the state, had earlier pressed for a resolution to condemn the continuous Pakistani shelling.The issue of unabated ceasefire violations also led to a 10-minute adjournment during the Zero Hour. When the House met again, the state’s Parliamentary Affairs Minister Abdul Rehman Veeri made a statement supporting a dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad to restore everlasting peace in the region.“This issue was raised in this house before as well. Our stand is that peace and reconciliation is the only way, dialogue is the only way,” Mr. Veeri said. He said the process initiated by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vaypayee should be taken forward for everlasting peace. Four Army personnel, including a captain, were killed and four others, including two teenagers, injured in Pakistani shelling along the LoC in Rajouri and Poonch districts on Sunday. Ruling PDP MLA Javaid Beig said that instead of provoking Pakistan, the House should appeal to both the countries to start a dialogue to resolve outstanding issues. Beig’s comments were protested by BJP members.“We support the statement of Veeri and the young Beig who is right in his approach. On our side, we should not do anything that will lead to further deterioration of the situation,” NC legislature party leader and former chief minister Omar Abdullah said. He rued that it had become a habit for politicians to worsen the atmosphere through their statements.“In my opinion, if a resolution is passed in this house, it should be that the people of Jammu and Kashmir demand both the governments to initiate the dialogue process so that peace is restored along the borders,” he said. Abdullah demanded strict implementation of the 2003 ceasefire agreed upon by India and Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB). The NC leader said that the Vajpayee government in consultation with Pakistan gave a ceasefire agreement which needs to be restored. However, BJP MLA Raina, who demanded a resolution to condemn Pakistan for ceasefire violations, later told reporters that the neighbouring country had targeted an Army post after the Army thwarted its attempt to push terrorists in the state.“We want the terrorist training camps in Pakistan be bombarded by Indian Air Force. Pakistan is a terror country and it cannot understand the language of diplomacy and democracy,” he said. NC’s Devender Rana, while speaking to reporters, saluted the sacrifices of the Army jawans and accused BJP of playing politics over the “dead bodies of the jawans”.We raised the issue of continuous firing and shelling along LoC and IB wherein our soldiers are getting martyred every day and the civilian population is facing the brunt of the escalation of tension, Rana said.“Who is answerable to the families of soldiers who are on a daily basis getting martyred in the defence of the nation. The civilian population is under constant fear. It is our duty to create an atmosphere so that peace returns to the LoC and IB,” he said.last_img read more

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Uranium contamination in Rajasthan groundwater, finds study

first_imgMany parts of Rajasthan may have high uranium levels in their groundwater, according to a study by researchers at the Duke University in North Carolina, United States, and the Central Groundwater Board of India.The main source of uranium contamination was “natural,” but human factors such as groundwater table decline and nitrate pollution could be worsening the problem.“Nearly a third of all water wells we tested in one State, Rajasthan, contained uranium levels that exceed the World Health Organization (WHO) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) safe drinking water standards,” said Avner Vengosh, a professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, in a press statement.“By analysing previous water quality studies, we also identified aquifers contaminated with similarly high levels of uranium in 26 other districts in north-western India and nine districts in southern or south-eastern India,” he said.While previous studies have referred to high uranium levels in some districts of India, this analysis gave a bird’s eye view into the extent of such contamination. The WHO has set a provisional safe drinking water standard of 30 micrograms of uranium per litre, a level that is consistent with the U.S. EPA standards. Despite this, uranium is not yet included in the list of contaminants monitored under the Bureau of Indian Standards’ Drinking Water Specifications.Mr. Vengosh and his colleagues published their peer-reviewed study on May 11 in Environmental Science & Technology Letters.last_img read more

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Will make sedition law more stringent, says Rajnath Singh

first_imgHitting out at the Congress for promising to abolish sedition law in its poll manifesto, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said the legislation would be made more stringent after the BJP returns to power at the Centre.Addressing a rally in Himachal Pradesh’s Kullu district in support of Ram Swaroop Sharma, who is seeking re-election from the Mandi Lok Sabha seat, he said the Indian economy has become one of the fastest growing economies in the world and the IMF had praised the country for its economic growth. He also claimed that inflation had been controlled during the five years of BJP rule.”If voted to power again, the BJP will make provisions of the sedition law more stringent to check anti-national activities,” Mr. Singh said, adding India had not acquired even an inch of land of any other country but if any other nation tries to do so, it will prevent it at any cost.In its poll manifesto, the Congress has promised to abolish the provision of sedition in the IPC and review the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act as well as deployment of the armed forces.“The BJP is the only party where a ground-level worker can become a Chief Minister and even Prime Minister with his relentless efforts. On the other hand, there is a party which revolves around only a family,” Mr. Singh claimed.Mr. Ram Swaroop is pitted against Sukh Ram’s grandson Aashray Sharma, who has been fielded from the seat by the Congress.last_img read more

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The First False Teeth

first_imgCone-shaped, mineralized structures that surrounded the mouths of ancient eel-like creatures and helped them grasp and mince their food weren’t teeth at all, according to a new study. The findings suggest that one theory of how teeth first appeared in creatures with backbones, a group that today includes humans, needs to be abandoned entirely.The ancient creatures that sported these structures are known as conodonts, which in Greek means “cone-shaped teeth.” The eel-like animals that lived from 530 million to 200 million years ago in the world’s seas are some of the most primitive vertebrates in the fossil record. They had no jaws or other bones; typically, the only parts that fossilized were toothlike structures made of calcium phosphate, the same mineral in the enamel of human teeth. Only in the last few decades have researchers found fossils that also contain traces of soft tissue that reveal the creature’s size and shape.The “teeth” are also slowly coming to light. A recent analysis of the “teeth” of one conodont species showed that they varied quite a lot in length and shape, with some of the structures likely being used to capture and restrain prey while others served to cut meals into smaller bits.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Taking a closer look, Philip Donoghue, a paleontologist at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, has now identified a key feature. Early conodonts had “teeth” that grew in a series of steps, with later stages of growth adding a ring of minerals only along the sides of the cone-shaped hard parts but not at the tips. Typically, the enamel coating the teeth of vertebrates forms all over the tooth all at once, late in tooth development. “Even though the end result looks like a tooth, it’s not,” Donoghue says. Despite the similarities, the new study indicates that the earliest forms of conodont hard parts evolved from a completely different set of tissues than the teeth of vertebrates do, he and his colleagues report online today in Nature.The discovery has implications for an idea about early evolution in vertebrates. The scales covering fish, reptiles, and other creatures contain tiny, hard structures called denticles. In recent years, some researchers have proposed that denticles first appeared in the mouth as teeth and then evolved into scales. But the new findings show that denticles and teeth originated from different tissues, says Philippe Janvier, a paleontologist at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, so it’s time to chuck that idea.last_img read more

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ScienceShot: Salt Under Pressure

first_imgPressure changes people. It changes chemistry, too, according to a report online today in Science that shows the structure of table salt—sodium chloride—morphs under extreme pressure. Table salt normally consists of a crystalline lattice made up of alternating sodium and chloride ions. Under “normal” conditions, sodium and chlorine atoms, like all of their kin, strive to fill their outer electron shells with eight electrons, which is the most stable arrangement and a condition known as the octet rule. Sodium has one extra electron and chlorine is missing one. So sodium donates one electron to chlorine, giving them a positive and negative charge, respectively. The opposite charged ions attract one another, causing the two to form a tight “ionic” bond. But an international team of researchers has found that those rules of chemical bonding change under high pressure. It used an advanced computer algorithm to predict what would happen under a pressure of 200,000 atmospheres and up to 2000 kelvins. The program concluded that the compression should force atoms to merge into exotic solids, such as Na3Cl and NaCl3. When the scientists then compressed sodium chloride in a diamond anvil cell, they not only discovered the exotic salts, but also showed that they remained stable when much of the pressure was removed. The new work, the authors say, may force geochemists to reconsider the types of compounds that may form in the high-pressure interiors of stars and planets.See more ScienceShots.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)last_img read more

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2 Indian-Origin Researchers In Team Solving Astronomy’s Big Mystery

first_imgImagine a flash of radio energy so powerful it outshines the sun. Now imagine a flash like this going off nearly every minute all across the cosmos.These are fast radio bursts, some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astronomy. Scientists don’t know where they come from, or what celestial event could be so dramatic yet common enough to produce thousands of bursts every day.Read it at NDTV Related Itemslast_img

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Consular Services Being Brought to Indian Diaspora’s Doorstep in UK

first_imgConsular services including passport, visa and attestation services are being taken to the Indian diaspora in far-flung areas in the UK as part of a new drive by the Indian High Commission here.Indian High Commissioner to the UK, Ruchi Ghanashyam, said the initiative is part of a wide range of initiatives being undertaken by the mission to reach out to the community.Read it at News18 Related Itemslast_img

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InfoUSA Faces delisting

first_imgVinod Gupta’s InfoUSA, the Omaha, Neb., based list marketing company faces potential delisting from the NASDAQ stock exchange for failing to file its 2007 annual report and first quarter 2008 report. The company is being sued by shareholder hedge funds alleging that InfoUSA founder Gupta spent corporate funds on personal expenses. The lawsuit alleges that InfoUSA paid Bill Clinton more than $3 million for nominal work and spent nearly $900,000 since 2001 to fly Bill and Hillary Clinton to domestic and international locations and political events.  Related Itemslast_img read more

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iPhone in India:

first_imgAt midnight on August 22, Apple rolled out its iPhone in India and some 20 new countries. It didn’t roll too far. Some retail outlets of the two service providers Apple has linked up with – Vodafone and Bharti Airtel – discovered that they did not have the necessary permissions to stay open at that late hour. Others attracted a small number of curious consumers. But missing were the lines and fanfare that accompanied the iPhone’s launch in the U.S. and some other parts of the world.“Only a few buyers turned up at midnight launches done by both Airtel and Vodafone across eight cities in India,” The Economic Times reported. “At a Vodafone store in Connaught Place, Central Delhi, journalists outnumbered customers by a huge margin.” One reason for the lack of excitement could be the almost total absence of any marketing. Newspapers reported the coming launch based on statements from Vodafone and Airtel: Apple was nowhere to be seen. The local Apple office in Bangalore – merely a sales and distribution set up – was “not authorized” to make any statements.“The build-up for the iPhone launch in India has been poor, if not pathetic,” says Harish Bijoor, brand specialist and CEO of Harish Bijoor Consults. “One of two things has happened. Either Apple believes the game has been lost in India even before it has begun, or it feels that the service providers will do magic with their mega-reach in India. There is a near abdication of ownership of the brand in the Indian market. The model at play seems to be outsourced marketing, outsourced branding and outsourced selling.”Skimming the MarketWharton marketing professor Peter Fader is inclined to believe that Apple may have a smarter strategy for its Indian iPhone launch than is immediately apparent. “If you compare (the iPhone’s) U.S. launch to the India launch, it is a beautiful example of the distinction between a ‘penetration strategy’ and a ‘skim strategy,’” he says. “Here in the U.S., Apple basically wanted to bust the market open all at once. So, they had all these people lined up all around the block, and when they flipped the switch – boom! – the market existed. In India, it’s almost like they are doing a test market.”In Fader’s view, Apple’s India strategy allows for much more flexibility. “A skim strategy is a great way of testing the waters so that you can change course, whereas with a penetration launch, whatever tactics you committed to, you’re stuck with – you can’t change them,” he says. “This way, they can change the price, change the messaging and broaden out to the larger market in a few years.”Apple doesn’t have a large installed base of Macintosh users in India, and that may also have persuaded it against a penetration launch for the iPhone, Fader notes. “If you don’t (have a significantly large base), you must go with a skim strategy, because you can’t create that market overnight.”Another albatross around the iPhone’s neck is its price. The 8GB version costs Rs. 31,000 ($710) while the 16GB iPhone is priced at Rs. 36,100 ($825). The corresponding prices in the U.S. are $199 and $299. “India is a price-sensitive market,” says Bijoor. “These levels are ridiculous.” Bijoor believes that the iPhone will become a popular gadget, but that India’s tech consumers will likely “crack the (price) code” by purchasing it abroad at much cheaper rates and bringing it back to India. “If the iPhone is to increase its sales in India (beyond) sales for (officially imported or smuggled phones), it needs a price correction.” His prescription is drastic: Bring the price down to Rs. 12,000 ($275). Sunil Dutt, India country head for Samsung’s mobile division, thinks that will happen. “As for any new technology introduction, volumes are small in the initial phase. Once volumes grow, prices come down. I expect a similar trend.”Subsidized HandsetsWhy does the iPhone cost so much in India? The simple reason is that, unlike in the U.S. and other countries, the service providers are not subsidizing the handset. In the U.S., AT&T recovers the subsidy amount from subscribers during a contract “lock-in” period. The ARPU (average revenue per user) for AT&T is $50 plus. In India, Airtel has an ARPU of Rs. 357 ($8.16) and Vodafone’s is Rs. 350 ($7.99). These numbers don’t allow the luxury of subsidies. “The Indian cellular industry could never afford deep phone subsidies,” says Ravi Bapna, associate professor of information systems at the Carlson School of Management and executive director of CITNE at the Indian School of Business.Bapna believes that it’s not just the low ARPUs which work against possible cross-subsidization. “India’s open network/open application cell phone industry is (incompatible with) Apple’s strategy in the U.S., where it offers exclusivity to AT&T,” he says. “Lock-in is anathema for Indian consumers and, consequently, the purchase of the phone has never been linked to the purchase of the service.”AT&T reports that in the U.S., users of 3G (third generation) instruments such as the latest iPhone typically have ARPUs double those who use 2G devices. That won’t help in India, because the country doesn’t have a 3G network yet. “The iPhone 3G currently utilizes the EDGE network available in India,” says Mitra of Apple. But EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution) is technologically a poor cousin of 3G, used in countries that haven’t yet made the transition. Wharton marketing professor Jagmohan Raju believes the absence of a 3G network in India explains why Apple “seems to be targeting a very narrow segment of the market – one that uses the iPhone more as a status symbol.” Besides that, he says the “superior design and ease of use” of Apple’s products will bring in customers. “While a large majority of Indian consumers is price sensitive, there is a segment that is willing to pay for quality.”Fader says the lack of a 3G network in India will not be a real issue. “People are not buying (an iPhone) necessarily for its functional reasons; they are buying it to be seen at the club with it.”Consumers: Beyond the BasicsWith Apple not talking officially, and Airtel and Vodafone plowing their own furrows, there is little clarity on the numbers the iPhone has already achieved or expects to. More than 200,000 potential users pre-registered with Airtel and a similar number with Vodafone, but these figures are most likely inaccurate because registration could be done over the Internet and didn’t involve any commitment. Actual bookings had to be made by putting down $114 (for Airtel) and $228 (for Vodafone). According to estimates by The Economic Times, the real sales figures are more likely to be 5,000 per service provider.How many iPhones will sell? Optimists are looking at a full-year local sales figure of 500,000 – the same number of users analysts estimate BlackBerry has in India.India is now the third-largest smartphone market in the Asia-Pacific region, after Japan and China, says Canalys, a technology consultancy. India is the world’s fastest-growing mobile services market: In July, according to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) figures, it added a record 9.22 million subscribers in July to reach 296.08 million.These large numbers of users are increasingly moving beyond basics. “As the need of Indian mobile phone consumers is evolving, they are demanding feature-rich devices, which can cater to their business communication requirements as well as their personal needs,” says IDC.Meanwhile, Apple’s competitors are not relaxing. LG has unveiled the LG10000, a CDMA phone which will use the Reliance Communications network. This is already available in the U.S. as the Voyager. It will cost Rs. 22,000-25,000 in India. Philips has the Xenium in its product portfolio. Both are touchscreen, one of the iPhone’s principal attractions.Nokia, the market leader by far, preempted the iPhone in India with its N96, priced at around Rs. 36,000. The campaign for the N96 began on August 19, three days before the iPhone’s arrival. “We have unveiled the N96 in India and will be launching it in the market in early September,” says D. Shivakumar, Nokia India vice president and managing director. “It will be a global launch – in fact, all our products are rolled out in India at the same time as they are worldwide. What we have launched on (August) 19th is a pre-booking scheme, offering consumers the opportunity to secure the device early.” According to research firm Gartner, Nokia has a 45% share of the global smartphone market (as of the first quarter in 2008). RIM has 13.4%, with Apple just 5.3%.Rival Samsung has also thrown its hat into the ring with the Omnia. “It will be launched in India in September,” says Dutt. “Our new 2008 range of mobiles has been well received by customers. Our recently introduced TouchWiz has generated a lot of consumer interest, and I am confident that Omnia will do well here…. It is our all-in-one maxi phone.”Loans for PhonesFrom a marketing perspective, there are other issues about which the iPhone launch has started a debate, such as whether people would be willing to take loans to purchase phones. Vodafone has tied up with Axis Bank and Barclays Bank to offer the iPhone to customers in six or 12 monthly installments. Will the strategy add sales? It depends, of course, on who the customers are.Bijoor has definite views on that. “The iPhone is the Gucci phone for the top end of the market,” such as C-suite inhabitants, he says. “In India, these are not the masses.” His conclusion: The people buying the iPhone can well afford to pay for it.Bapna of ISB says that although Apple may have lost its first battle, the war is only beginning. “Proven successes in the West do not necessarily replicate in emerging markets,” he says.All things considered, Apple appears to be trying for “moderate success, at least in the short run,” with its Indian iPhone launch, according to Fader. “There’s every reason to believe they will achieve those goals and then bigger, better things later on,” he says. “It’s hard for me or any analyst to know what they have up their sleeve. So I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt.”   Related Itemslast_img read more

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BJP’s victory rally in Bengal turns violent

first_imgViolence erupted at Gangarampur in Dakshin Dinajpur on Saturday over a victory rally the BJP took out ignoring the directive of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that there should be no such rallies. BJP State president Dilip Ghosh arrived in the district to lead the rallies at Gangarampur and Buniyadpur. 10 detainedThe police personnel, who were deployed in large numbers at Buniyadpur, tried to stop hundreds of BJP activists from marching. After a scuffle, the BJP leadership including Mr. Ghosh took out the rally.When Mr. Ghosh arrived at Gangarampur to lead the second rally, the situation went out of control and people started throwing stones. The police resorted to baton charge and fired tear gas shells leaving several, including a few policemen, injured. About 10 persons were detained.Mr. Ghosh said: “Why cannot we take out victory rallies? Why is Section 144 clamped here? The Chief Minister is precipitating the situation.” Mr. Ghosh said the people had voted the BJP and the party had the right to thank them. Trinamool leader Partha Chatterjee said the BJP was trying to incite violence in the name of the rallies. “This hooliganism will lead the BJP nowhere,” he said. Ms. Banerjee on June 6 directed the police not to allow any victory rally. After the results of the Lok Sabha polls, West Bengal had witnessed violence including murders of supporters of both the BJP and the TMC.last_img read more

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BJP leadership’s caution had little impact on lynchings: Mayawati

first_imgTargeting the BJP, BSP chief Mayawati on Thursday said statements of its top leadership had little impact on the issues of mob lynching and cow slaughter, especially in the States ruled by the party. Review meetMs. Mayawati was attending a review meeting of Madhya Pradesh held here with party functionaries.The BSP supremo also trained her guns on the Congress, saying that though it had dethroned the BJP in Madhya Pradesh and formed government, there was no positive change in the lives of the poor, farmers, youth, OBCs and Dalits in the State.Like in BJP-ruled States, “casteist and communal” incidents were rampant, Ms. Mayawati alleged. Assault on officialsReferring to the incident of BJP MLA Akash Vijayvargiya, son of senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya, assaulting government officials recently, Ms. Mayawati said the entire country was “shocked” and in condemnation after seeing the way he was honoured and welcomed by BJP workers on his release from jail. “How effective will Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement be in this regard, time will tell,” she said.Economic SurveyReferring to the Economic Survey 2019, which was tabled in Parliament, Ms. Mayawati took to Twitter and said it proved that the BJP government was “nonchalant” on serious issues like poverty, unemployment and farmer suicides.last_img read more

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CBI searches former Samajwadi Party MP’s premises in Uttar Pradesh

first_img The case was registered following the Supreme Court’s direction, the official said.Jaiswal was abducted from Lucknow and taken to Deoria Jail, where he was allegedly assaulted by Ahmed and his aides who were lodged there and forced to transfer his business to them, the CBI FIR claimed.Ahmed was an SP member in the 14th Lok Sabha from Phulpur in Uttar Pradesh from 2004 to 2009. SC orders transfer of jailed UP don to Gujarat prison The CBI on Wednesday searched the premises of former Samajwadi Party MP Ateeq Ahmad and others in Allahabad and Lucknow in a case related to the abduction and assault of a businessman, officials in New Delhi said.The searches are being conducted at six places in the two Uttar Pradesh cities, they said, adding that details would be given later.The CBI last month registered a case against Ahmad for allegedly assaulting and abducting real estate dealer Mohit Jaiswal in December 2018.Also Readlast_img read more

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Chhattisgarh election | Widows of slain politicians in Dantewada by-election face-off

first_imgThe Dantewada Assembly by-election in Chhattisgarh is headed towards an emotionally charged battle with both the Congress and the BJP fielding widows of regional stalwarts slain by Maoists on separate occasions. The contest, to be held on September 23, became imminent after BJP MLA Bhima Mandavi was killed in a Maoist attack while on the stump in April, two days before the Lok Sabha election in Bastar, where he held ground as the lone BJP MLAs amid 11 Congressmen. Now, riding high on sentiment, his wife, Ojaswi Mandavi, has resolved to “carry forward her husband’s political legacy” and taken on former MLA Devti Karma, widowed after former Leader of the Opposition Mahendra Karma was killed in 2013.With both the parties locked in a see-saw battle for the seat, Mr. Karma won it in 2003, the first contest after the State was carved, while Mr. Mandavi wrested it the next election. In 2013, the seat wound up in the Congress kitty, after an emotionally high-strung battle went in Ms. Karma’s favour, who garnered sympathy votes. Yet in 2018, Mr. Mandavi snatched it back with a margin 2,172 votes. The stakes are high for the BJP, scrambling to gain a toehold in the Maoist-hit region, which went against the wind to pick a Congressman in the Lok Sabha election, when the BJP won nine of the 11 seats in the State. Having faced a drubbing in the Lok Sabha election months after winning 68 of the 90 Assembly seats, the Congress is looking to cement the party’s grip over the region. “The Congress is dependant on leaders from Bastar region like Minister Kawasi Lakhma and State Congress chief Mohan Markam,” said State Congress spokesperson Shailesh Nitin Trivedi. “The BJP is trying to make an emotional appeal to voters. But, let’s be clear, while Mr. Karma was killed despite requests for adequate security cover for him, Mr. Mandavi broke the security protocol and was killed.” Claim rubbishedState BJP spokesperson Sanjay Shrivastava meanwhile rubbished the Congress claim that several BJP workers had switched over. “They have already lost the election and are trying hard to conjure up a negative perception against us.”last_img read more

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Activist dies in police custody in Rajasthan

first_imgA transparency activist arrested along with two members of his extended family allegedly after a fight among them over their ancestral property died on Sunday in police custody at Balotra near here, said an officer. Following the custodial death of 42-year-old activist Jagdish Goliyar, all personnel of the Pachpadra police station have been transferred to the district police lines, said Barmer SP Sharad Chaudhary. The custodial death would be probed by a judicial magistrate, Mr. Chaudhary said. To ascertain the exact cause of the death, a medical board would be conducting his autopsy on Monday under the supervision of a judicial magistrate, he added. Balotra Deputy Superintendent of Police Subhash Chandra said the activist is suspected to have died of some internal injuries that he suffered in the fight with his family members.Goliyar worked as a typist at district court besides doubling up as a transparency activist.last_img read more

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