Mumbai: Veteran actress Zeenat Aman has joined the cast of Ashutosh Gowarikers magnum opus “Panipat” for a cameo. Zeenat will be seen in a special guest appearance in the film as a feisty character named Sakina Begum. Sakina led the province of Hoshiyarganj and lived within the confines of her kingdom, away from the politics of the region. She played an important part in the Third Battle of Panipat when the Peshwas turned to her for help. For Gowariker, it is an “honour and a fan moment” to be directing Zeenat. Also Read – Rihanna to release 500-page ‘visual’ autobiography “There are many many of her films that I have loved and especially her work in them. What is most fascinating about her, is her humility despite all the stardom. I am excited to reveal her look in the film,” he said in a statement. Years ago, Ashutosh had worked with Zeenat as an actor in Anant Balani’s 1989 mystery film “Gawaahi”. The actress will begin shooting for “Panipat” by the end of this week. “Panipat” is based on the Third Battle of Panipat, which is one of the most epic wars in India’s history. The film also features Sanjay Dutt, Arjun Kapoor and Kriti Sanon in pivotal roles, and is produced by Sunita Gowariker under their home banner AGPPL in association with Rohit Shelatkar’s company – Vision World. The film is scheduled to release on December 6.
Manchester: Indian bowlers led by the deadly Mohammed Shami produced yet another splendid performance to put their team on the cusp of a semi-final berth with a 125-run rout of the West Indies in their sixth World Cup encounter here on Thursday. With 11 points, India are now almost through and another win in their next three games will seal their position in the top four as West Indies were knocked out with two games remaining. India scored 268 for 7, riding on half-centuries by Virat Kohli (72 off 82 balls) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (56 off 61 balls) and it turned out to be good enough as West Indies were shot out for 124 in only 34.2 overs. Also Read – Djokovic heaps praise on ‘very complete’ MedvedevIn two successive matches now, the bowlers have more than covered up for a mediocre show from the batsmen, save skipper Kohli. Shami (4/16 in 6.2 overs) was at his best in the first spell as he first bounced Chris Gayle out and then bowled an off-cutter to remove Shai Hope. In his second spell, he got Shimron Hetmyer while new ball partner Jasprit Bumrah (2/9 in 6 overs) was fast and accurate getting two wickets of successive deliveries. Kuldeep Yadav (1/35 in 9 overs) and Yuzvendra Chahal (2/39 in 7 overs) were too hot for the Caribbean batsmen on a track, where run scoring became increasingly difficult with passage of time. Also Read – Mary Kom enters quarterfinals, Saweety Boora bows out of World C’shipsThe last seven wickets fell for 63 runs in a space of 14 overs which indicated the Caribbean plight. Bhuvneshwar Kumar with his incisive swing bowling has always been Chris Gayle’s (6 off 19 balls) nemesis but it was in-form Shami, who drew the first blood with a short ball that climbed on the big man and the mistimed pull was taken by Kedar Jadhav, running sideways from his mid-on position. Hope, West Indies’ next big hope, got one from Shami that came in breaching his defence. Sunil Ambris (31, 40 balls) and Nicholas Pooran (28 off 50 balls) steadied the ship with a 55-run stand before both were dismissed in quick succession. Hardik Pandya trapped Ambris plumb in-front before Pooran mistimed a lofted shot to Shami in the deep. The skipper Jason Holder then played a rank bad shot off Chahal as West Indies were knocked out of the contest at the halfway stage, reeling at 98 for five. When India batted, Dhoni scratched around for the better part of his innings before exploding in the final over to take India to 268 for 7 on a track that look good for batting. There has been a lot of talk about Dhoni’s failure to rotate the strike and Thursday’s batting effort on another dry and slow track will only amplify the criticism before he got 16 in the final over to finish on 56 off 61 deliveries with three fours and two sixes. More than his strike-rate, his percentage of dot balls remains a concern for India. If India played 152 dot balls against Afghanistan, the run-less delivery count was 163 in this game. It was Pandya, whose 46 off 38 balls took India past 250-run mark after skipper Kohli scored his fourth half-century. The middle-order looked jittery again with skipper Kohli not getting enough support from the other batsmen. In fact, Dhoni’s rustiness rubbed off a bit on the Indian captain, who ultimately gifted his wicket to his opposite number. Kohli hit eight boundaries with stand-out shot being a lofted drive over covers off Oshane Thomas. Veteran Kemar Roach (3/36) bowled fast and fuller length deliveries using the off-cutters to good effect while skipper Holder (2/33 in 10 overs) was economical, troubling the batsmen with back of the length deliveries. Left-arm spinner Fabian Allen (0/52 in 10 overs) didn’t get any wicket but a crucial aspect of his spell was the last five overs in which he gave away only 15 runs.
BALURGHAT: A minor girl’s marriage was thwarted in Hili after intervention of block officials, police and the officials of district legal services authority. Police said the marriage was scheduled to be held on Sunday night.According to Suraj Das, coordinator of a Hili-based NGO, received a phone call and the caller told him that the marriage of a 15-year-old minor girl is scheduled on Sunday and prior to that rituals before the marriage have been conducted by her parents without taking her consent. Also Read – Bangla Sahib Gurudwara bans use of all types of plastic itemsWithout wasting time, block development officer of Hili, Sanjay Subba, acting officer-in-charge of Hili police station T S Lepcha along with the members of that NGO Biprajit Sarkar and Rita Mohanta reached the house of the minor to stop the marriage. The girl’s parents told the officials that they would not marry their daughter off till she reaches the age of 18. The girl belongs to lower-middle class family and the family has financial compulsions. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murderThe 15-year old girl is a student of a local high school, a police source said. Later, the parents of the girl provided a written declaration to the police saying that they will not commit the mistake again. Secretary of district legal services authority, Soumendranath Roy said: “The villagers informed us of the matter. We had sprung into action immediately, contacted block officials and police seeking their help.”
Cannabis can treat both pain and insomnia in people who want to avoid prescription and sleep medications, a study has found. The study, published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, looked at 1,000 people taking legalised marijuana in an American state. Researchers in the US found that among the 65 per cent of people taking cannabis for pain, 80 per cent found it was very or extremely helpful. 82 per cent of these people were able to reduce, or stop taking over the counter pain medications and 88 per cent were able to stop taking opioid painkillers. Also Read – An income drop can harm brainThe study suggested that cannabis could lower opioid use. However, the researchers noted that more needs to be done to understand the potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis. Traditional over the counter medications and painkillers can help, however they may have serious side effects. Opioids depress the respiratory system, meaning that overdoses may be fatal. “People develop tolerance to opioids, which means that they require higher doses to achieve the same effect. This means that chronic pain patients often increase their dose of opioid medications over time, which in turn increases their risk of overdose,” said Julia Arnsten, professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Although less common, sleeping pills can lead to dependence, and can also cause grogginess the next day, interfering with people’s work and social lives, she said. As a consequence, some people have started taking marijuana to help with their symptoms, according to the study.
The commemorative event happened in the first week of February 2019. But on return, since we were all sucked into the vortex of the battle for India 2019, I had thought of keeping the narration and reflection pending until the dust had settled. Prime Minister Modi’s victory, as I have often argued, confirms that India’s civilisational march on the world stage shall continue unabated. In the rise of India as a civilisational state, a state conscious of her civilisational dimension and responsibilities as envisaged by Modi, the soft power aspect, therefore, plays a crucial role. Also Read – A special kind of bondSince 2014, with PM Modi himself imparting it a new and reassessed role, India’s soft outreach, the retracing of her civilisational footprints, her articulation of civilisational and cultural cooperation has gained new momentum and credence. The articulation and delineation of the term “Indo-Pacific” by Modi at the Shangri-La Dialogue, for example, does not merely contain a strategic and economic layer but its civilisational layer emerges as equally crucial and relevant. The commemorative event that took place in the first week of February 2019 in Yangon was in line with that vision. It symbolised, besides commemorating Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee’s civilisational vision for India, the present urge to create a new narrative based on the cultural and civilisational foundations of the past. India’s outreach has always had a distinct flavour–it was non-intrusive, non-violent, unimposing, assimilative and therefore accepted by those who were contacted. Dr Mookerjee’s own words come to mind. While speaking at the Asiatic Society he had eloquently observed about this phenomenon: “when Indian nationals visited foreign lands, they carried with them not arms, not ammunitions, but messages of peace and goodwill. Cultural intercourse between India, on the one hand, and China, Indo-China, Malaysia, and the South Sea Islands on the other is now a matter of history. People of India were equally catholic in their assimilation of other cultures.” Also Read – Insider threat management The 118th birth anniversary of Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee on July 6, gives me an occasion to narrate the event as it happened. A historic event that quietly took place on one balmy February morning this year in the hallowed precincts of the sacred and symbolic Kaba Aye Pagoda in Yangon. In Myanmar, the event was widely reported and closely followed and touched depths of people whose lives revolve around the sacred aura of Buddha, and whose worship and faith in Sakyamuni is unfailing, unconditional and all-pervading. In India, the event largely went unnoticed. The correspondent of one national daily which had shown some interest backed out arguing that the event did not elicit wide interest. Affiliated to a certain political party, it was understandable that the daily would be reluctant to give space to Dr. Mookerjee and Narendra Modi. I write the account in the first person eschewing for once the habit of keeping myself in the background. I have been visiting Myanmar regularly since 2014. Each visit was aimed at trying to further our civilisational objective of greater partnership through fresh strategies. To say that India and Myanmar share a deep bond–religious and cultural–will be to understate the relationship. Myanmar continues to be the active link and bridge between India and the wider ASEAN world, the golden gateway, as it were, for India’s outreach into the most dynamic region of the world. My studies on Dr Mookerjee’s contribution as president of the Mahabodhi Society of India towards relaying India’s cultural and civilisational relationship with the Buddhist world post-independence led me to discover the crucial role he had played in cementing bonds between a newly independent India and a newly independent Myanmar. I had read and learnt that besides touring Southeast Asia–mainly Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam where he addressed large gatherings–with the sacred Relics of Buddha’s two chief disciples Mahamogallana and Sariputta, Dr Mookerjee had intervened at the request of Myanmar’s first Prime Minister, the legendary leader and thinker U Nu, and had ensured that a portion of the sacred Relics were given out as “permanent loan” to the people of Myanmar on behalf of the government of India. In Cambodia, it is said that over half a million people had gathered to listen to Dr. Mookerjee speak on Buddha, India and the future of the world. U Nu was deeply moved, and he took the initiative of enshrining the Relics in the newly constructed Kaba Aye Pagoda. He saw it as a symbol of peace, unity, and reconciliation for his newly freed country. In recognition of his stellar role in facilitating this epochal occasion, Dr. Mookerjee was specially invited to attend the enshrinement ceremony in March 1952. In a sense, it was his last visit abroad. Each time I visited Myanmar, I made it a point to pay homage to the Kaba Aye Pagoda. Every time I went, I was led with great warmth into the sacred Relics chamber. Circumambulating the precincts, I almost always thought of Dr. Mookerjee and hoped that one day we could perhaps commemorate, through a permanent commemorative insignia or plaque, this crucial civilisational contribution that he had made. In terms of symbolism, Dr Mookerjee’s act was profound. Therefore, it had to be commemorated for posterity so that future generations in both countries come to know about how an Indian leader–one who combined in himself the role of a leading politician and founder of a new political party while being the most active presidents of the Mahabodhi Society–had facilitated one of the most civilisational and strategically crucial act; an act which had also left a deep and lasting imprint on the psyche of both countries and the Buddhist world at large. I began writing and speaking about it at various fora in India and Myanmar. It elicited great interest and appreciation among people, strategic thinkers and scholars in general. We often discussed this among ourselves. The selfless volunteers and workers of the Sanatan Dharma Swayamsevak Sangh (SDSS), led by a self-effacing pracharak, Dr. Ram Niwas–an accomplished academic and worker who dedicated himself to spreading India’s civilisational message across Southeast Asia–and our other friends who continuously put in their best efforts to keep the well of India’s goodwill and goodwill for India in the region replenished, came forward with a plan. We decided to write to the Ministry for Religious and Cultural Affairs of the government of Myanmar, proposing the grant of permission for installing a marble plaque somewhere within the precincts of the Kaba Aye Pagoda, commemorating Dr. Mookerjee and his contribution. The SDSS took it upon itself to facilitate and mediate. It has a huge reservoir of goodwill in Myanmar and amongst all sections of society there. I wrote to the Minister making a detailed case, appending photographs, copies of letters and chapters from my book which describe the episode in some detail. A long period of silence followed my letter. We assumed that perhaps this was too minor a detail for Naypyitaw, perhaps it was not relevant at the moment, or perhaps that the emotional connect had become diluted. Yet, all through this period of what seemed to be a vacuous wait, Dr Ram Niwas kept at it, advising me to have patience and to keep willing. I received his call one morning towards the end of November when winter was gradually setting in Delhi. “Naypyitaw”, he told me “had agreed to the proposal and they had also agreed to the draft of the text that we had proposed to engrave on the plaque, with minor alterations and were happy to facilitate the event. The minister himself spoke and expressed his happiness and wished to be present on the occasion”. Events followed in quick succession. The venerable Trustees of the Kaba Aye Pagoda passed a resolution and designated a prominent spot where the plaque could be installed. The Indian community, inspired by the SDSS, took it upon themselves to get the plaque prepared. “It will be our honour to get it ready”, Dr. Venkatesh AR–one of the leading lights of the community–insisted. The plaque was finally ready by the end of December and transported from Mandalay–another sacred city for us because of its association with Lokmanya Tilak and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose–and February 9 was designated as the day of the unveiling. Invitations were sent out on behalf of the SDSS for the “unveiling of a special commemorative plaque in memory of Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee–Indian Patriot, Statesman, former Union Minister and President of Mahabodhi Society of India”. The Government of Myanmar was represented by the Deputy Minister of Religious and Cultural Affairs who was specially deputed for the event. The members of the Indian community were present in full strength, and other community leaders were also present. Imposing gateways were erected at the venue and the national media was present in a big way too. The proceedings began with speeches. Two large drums which were part of the Relics enshrinement procession in 1952, were prominently displayed and each speaker, the Deputy Minister, the Indian Ambassador, the senior Trustee of the Pagoda and Dr. Ram Niwas as convener of the SDSS, spoke of the occasion’s symbolism. I referred to Dr. Mookerjee’s contribution in cementing bonds between the two countries and also spoke of PM Modi’s vision of a civilisational partnership between our countries and region. The audience repeatedly chanted “Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu” expressing their appreciation. In a procession, we then headed towards the plaque and together unveiled it to the sound of cymbals, incantations and the chants of ‘Sadhu, Sadhu.’ Sacred water was sprinkled and the flower-bedecked marble plaque was finally consecrated with the following inscription in Myanmarese and English engraved on it: “Gautama Buddha gave to the world his message of love, peace, and understanding 2,500 years ago in a simple manner which carried faith and conviction not only to the learned but, what is more, which carried hope and inspiration to the masses. They gave solace and strength to millions throughout the world. It needed no sword; no arms helped the spread of the doctrine to countries far and near.” – Syama Prasad Mookerjee This plaque stands in the memory of Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee (1901-1953)–Indian Statesman, Educationist, visionary Patriot, one of the founding fathers of the Indian Republic, federal Minister of industry and supplies in independent India’s first ministry (1947-1950), President of the Maha Bodhi Society of India (1947-1953), Member of India’s first Parliament (1951-1953), and founder of Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS) (1951). Dr Mookerjee played a historic role in forging and reinforcing a deeper civilisational friendship between India and Myanmar in present times. As president of the Maha Bodhi Society of India, Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee was instrumental in ensuring that India gifted a portion of the sacred Relics of Buddha’s chief disciples–Arahants Mahamogallana and Sariputta–to the people of Myanmar for permanent enshrinement. He deftly negotiated and led the entire effort and saw to it that the government of India offered a portion of the sacred relics to the people of Myanmar in a fraternal act, which, in the words of then Prime Minister U Nu, “further cement the already very close and unique relationship between our two sister countries.” On March 5, 1952, when the sacred Relics were finally enshrined at the iconic Kaba Aye Pagoda, Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee was specially invited. He had flown down from Kolkata to attend the enshrinement ceremony in this very precinct. We were then led to the Relics chamber and granted a special darshan of the sacred Relics. The crystal caskets were brought out and the silver tray bearing the sacred Relics of Buddha and his two chief disciples–as these must have been brought and seen by Dr. Mookerjee–was placed on our heads as a special gesture and blessing. It was a divine moment, which saw the fulfilment of a fervent wish and resolve that I had repeatedly made in these very precincts. In a sense, a portion of Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee was finally and permanently installed in the Kaba Aye Pagoda, an institution that he had frequented nearly seven decades ago. The installation also symbolised the permanency, the rootedness and the indissolubility of relations of our two countries and also of India’s benign presence and contribution to this region and beyond in a spirit of true partnership and mutuality. The Deputy Minister dedicated the entire day and evening for the event. “When I was participating in this event”, he told us candidly, “I was transported to Bodhgaya, I could almost feel the breeze under the Bodhi Tree, it was an occasion that radiated Buddha’s blessings.” The Myanmar media and papers were full of the news of the event, it was celebrated, lauded and appreciated as a landmark gesture that reinforced our shared past and destiny. The peoples’ support, the proactive interventions by the SDSS, the facilitation and willing support by the Myanmar government and Trustees of the Kaba Aye Pagoda demonstrated that conviction. As our flight took off from Yangon, I looked out at the Pagoda studded greenery below, pondering on how we had taken one small step towards realising what Prime Minister Modi often says of making the 21st century the “Asian Century.” In the early years after Independence, Syama Prasad Mookerjee, too, in his own way had perhaps been impelled by such a vision; it was that which must have driven him to undertake this sacred peregrination across Southeast Asia with the message of Buddha upheld by India’s civilisational wisdom. In a sense, he had scattered seeds and it was now time to water these with new thought and energy for realising the hope of the Asian Century. (Dr. Anirban Ganguly is Director, Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, New Delhi. Views expressed are strictly personal)
Hong Kong: Five people were arrested during overnight clashes in Hong Kong between riot officers and anti-government protesters, police said Monday, as the political violence rocking the international hub shows no sign of abating. The city has been plunged into its worst crisis in recent history following a month of huge marches as well as separate violent confrontations with police involving a minority of hardcore protesters. The rallies were sparked by a now-suspended law that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China, but have since morphed into a wider movement calling for democratic reforms and a halt to sliding freedoms in the semi-autonomous territory. Also Read – Imran Khan arrives in China, to meet Prez Xi Jinping Sunday night saw fresh political violence break out in the district of Mongkok as police baton-charged small groups of masked, largely young protesters who were walking along roads and refused to disperse following another massive, peaceful rally earlier in the day. In a statement issued early Monday morning, police said the group were taking part in an “unlawful assembly” and had been warned that officers would take action. “Some protesters resisted and police arrested five persons for assaulting a police officer and obstructing a police officer in the execution of duties,” the statement said. Also Read – US blacklists 28 Chinese entities over abuses in Xinjiang Activists hit out at the police tactics, saying the protesters in Mongkok had remained peaceful as they made their way home and that violence was started by a shield wall of riot officers that had blocked the crowd’s path. “HKers joined rally peacefully… against extradition bill result in being beaten and assaulted by HK Police,” democracy activist Joshua Wong wrote in a tweet accompanying pictures of at least two protesters with bleeding head wounds. “Just another example of excessive force used by the police,” he added in another tweet. Public anger has soared against the city’s pro-Beijing leaders and its police force after officers used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters outside parliament last month. Since then the chaos has only escalated. Last Monday, anger peaked as hundreds of youth-led demonstrators successfully stormed and trashed the city’s parliament. Those unprecedented scenes — and renewed huge marches — have failed to persuade the government, whose sole concession so far has been to suspend the loathed extradition bill. Protesters are demanding the bill be scrapped entirely, an independent inquiry into police use of tear gas and rubber bullets, amnesty for those arrested, and for the city’s unelected leader Carrie Lam to step down. They have also demanded authorities stop characterising protesters as “rioters”, a definition that carries much steeper jail terms. Beijing has thrown its full support behind the embattled Lam, calling on Hong Kong police to pursue anyone involved in the parliament storming and other clashes. Despite repeated requests, police have not released a breakdown of how many people have been detained in the last month of protests. A tally kept by AFP shows at least 72 people have been arrested but it is not clear how many have been charged.
Kolkata: Prosenjit Sardar, Member, Mayor-in-Council for Sports and Youth Services of Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation (BMC), resigned on Monday afternoon.He sent his resignation letter to Krishna Chakraborty, chairperson of BMC. A copy of the letter was sent to the Municipal Commissioner Pritha Sarkar. Sardar is believed to be a close aide of Sabyasachi Dutta, former Mayor of BMC, who resigned last week. Trouble had cropped up in BMC after 35 councillors wrote a letter to the chairperson, expressing no-confidence against Dutta. Challenging the no-confidence motion which BMC brought against him, Dutta moved the High Court. Sardar will carry on as the councillor of ward 27.
Unnao/ Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh government Monday said it was ready to conduct a CBI probe into the road accident in which the Unnao rape survivor and her lawyer received grievous injuries, with the mother of the 19 year old victim charging the incident was a conspiracy to wipe out her family. A car in which the woman, her family and lawyer were travelling was hit by an overspeeding truck in Rae Bareli on Sunday, killing two members and leaving her and the advocate critically injured Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details The incident found its echo in Parliament with SP member Ram Gopal Yadav Monday alleging an attempt was made to “kill” the rape victim. Yadav said the security personnel provided to her was not with the victim at the time of the accident and registration plate of the truck involved was covered with grease. BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar is an accused in the rape case and he was arrested on April 13 last year. The Uttar Pradesh government is ready for a CBI probe into the accident of the Unnao rape victim, who had accused a BJP legislator of rape, if a request is made, Director General of Police O P Singh said. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday “The truck was over-speeding and it was raining also. Prima facie, appears to be an accident, but a detailed unbiased probe is on in the matter,” Singh told reporters in Lucknow. “The state government is ready for recommending a CBI probe into the Sunday’s mishap in Rae Bareli if the victim’s mother or any relative makes any request in this regard,” Singh said. The mother of the victim, speaking to reporters in Unnao, alleged: “It was not an accident but a conspiracy to eliminate all of us.” Tagging a media report on the accident, Congress leader, Rahul Gandhi tweeted:” “Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao. A new special education bulletin for Indian women. Don’t ask questions if a BJP MLA is accused of having raped you.” While, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra described the incident as shocking, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav sought a CBI probe. Meanwhile, the Delhi Commission For Women chief Swati Maliwal met the Unnao rape survivor at a Lucknow hospital and said she should be airlifted to Delhi for better treatment as she is “critical”. in a tweet, BSP supremo Mayawati said: “Her (the rape victim’s) maternal and paternal aunts were killed and she herself and her advocate are seriously injured. The Supreme Court need to take cognizance of the matter and ensure strict action.” Unnao Superintendent of Police MP Verma said that one gunner and two women constables have been assigned round-the-clock duty for the safety of the survivor and her family, but they were not present at the time of the accident. “An inquiry has been ordered to look into the reasons as to why the security personnel were not present with her and action will be taken after getting a report,” Verma said. A police team that rushed to the spot in Rae Bareli after the accident found that the truck’s registration plate scrubbed and painted black, but they could retrieve the registration number UP 71 AT 8300, a police official said. The truck has a Fatehpur district registration plate, Lucknow Zone ADG Rajeev Krishna said. When asked if the registration plate was tampered with, Krishna said it will be sent for forensic checks to ascertain the facts. Teams from Lucknow have reached Rae Bareli for investigation.
New Delhi: With the latest round of $150 million funding from Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) — the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar — ed-tech company Byju’s has hit $6 billion valuation, making its Founder and CEO Byju Raveendran the newest billionaire in the country. Raveendran holds more than 21 per cent stake in the Bengaluru-based educational technology and online tutorial firm, thus making him a billionaire. With increased brand awareness and strong adoption among students, Byju’s tripled its revenue to Rs 1,430 crore in the financial year 2018-19 and also turned profitable on a full-year basis. Also Read – Swiggy now in 500 Indian cities, targets 100 more this year The company declined any response on Raveendran’s becoming a new billionaire, saying “Byju’s does not want to comment on this”. The fresh round of funding in Byju’s also included first-ever investment from Owl Ventures in an Indian start-up. “Indian ed-tech firms attracting interest from eminent investors demonstrates that India is pioneering the digital learning space globally,” Raveendran had said earlier. Byju’s has already crossed Rs 200 crore in monthly revenue and is estimating revenue of Rs 3,000 crore this year. Also Read – New HP Pavilion x360 notebook with in-built Alexa in India Transforming the offline to an online learning experience, it has also acquired Osmo, a Palo Alto-based education game making company. The ed-tech firm offers learning programmes for students from classes 1 to 12 in India. In one of its biggest win, from September onwards, Team India will wear Byju’s on their jerseys. Chinese mobile-maker Oppo will be replaced by Byju’s. Team India will sport the Oppo logo on their jerseys till the West Indies tour which commences from August 3 and ends on September 2. Once, the South Africa tour of India begins from September 15, Byju’s will take over the jersey.
New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday hit out at the Centre on alleged slowdown in the Indian economy, saying the government can only “destroy” what was built over decades. “The BJP Government can’t build anything. It can only destroy what was built over decades with passion and hard work,” he said on Twitter. Gandhi tagged some media reports on a noted businessman warning of of an economic slowdown, BSNL, MTNL failing to pay July salaries, the railways planning to hive off employees and auto sector witnessing lowest ever sales in July in over two decades.
Kolkata: State Power minister and MLA from Rashbehari Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay spent the night at a slum on Kabir Road on Friday. This is a part of the Janasanyog Yatra, a venture of the state government to build and develop contact with the masses.Following Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee’s instructions, all the legislators have taken part in the mass contact drive. Firhad Hakim, the state Urban Development and Municipal Affairs minister, who is an MLA from the Kolkata Port area, had spent the night in the house of a party supporter last week. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaBanerjee has asked the leaders of the party to build intimate contact with the people and listen to their grievances. “Go to the tea stalls and talk to the local people and try to find out from them what they want from us. People feel happy if we listen to their grievances,” she had directed. Chattopadhyay, who is a very popular figure in the areas under Rashbehari constituency, went to the venue at 8, Kabir Road and talked to the local people and party supporters. He is associated with Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwaythe local clubs and takes part in all the movements that take place in the area like Safe Drive Save Life or Save Green Stay Clean. It may be mentioned that the mass contact drive has already become very effective. Didi Ke Bolo is the most popular programme now and the Chief Minister has personally looked after the complaints lodged by the people and addressed them. In North Bengal, party leaders like Gautam Deb, Rabindranath Ghosh and Arpita Ghosh have also taken part in the programme to develop contact with the masses. Trinamool has fared poorly in the last general election in Jangalmahal and North Bengal, where the party does not have a single MP. The mass contact drive has helped the party regain its strength in the grassroot level to a great extent.
New Delhi: Home, auto and other loans are set to become cheaper as the government on Friday said the public sector banks will soon be lending at RBI’s benchmark-linked rate and get an additional Rs 70,000-crore upfront capital infusion that will boost their lending capacity in the market by Rs 5 lakh crore. Announcing measures to boost the economy, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the banks would also pass on any change in the benchmark monetary policy rate announced by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) immediately. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalTill now, banks generally lagged in transmitting RBI’s reduction in repo rates to borrowers. The RBI has this year cut interest rates by 110 basis points in four installments but banks have passed only a part of it to borrowers. Before the last reduction earlier this month of 35 basis points, the bank on an average had passed only 29 basis points out of 75 basis points cut affected during 2019. “Banks have again decided to launch repo rate or external benchmarking linked loan products. This will therefore result in reduced EMI for housing loans, vehicle and other retail loans by directly linking repo rate to the interest rates which means the moment reduction happens, it will directly benefit end customers,” Sitharaman said. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostShe said that the move will also lead to cheaper working capital loans for industry. The finance minister announced upfront capital infusion of Rs 70,000 crore into public sector banks to boost lending and improving liquidity situation. The fund infusion is expected to generate an additional lending and liquidity in the financial system to the tune of Rs 5 lakh crore, Sithraman said at a press conference. “Upfront we are releasing the Rs 70,000 crore and additional lending and liquidity to the tune of Rs 5 lakh crore can be made available by providing this upfront capital for the PSBs. This was announced in the budget, we are doing it upfront now. This will benefit all the corporates, retail borrowers, MSMEs and small traders as well. We are closely working on ways in which this flow will happen to the NBFCs,” Sitharaman said. The minister also announced additional liquidity support of Rs 20,000 crore to housing finance companies (HFCs) by the National Housing Bank (NHB), thereby increasing the total support to Rs 30,000 crore. “NBFCs are receiving liquidity from the banks, and NBFCs are also moving towards funding of people giving credits to people, example shall be out by late evening today. Some of them will come for you all to double check that this has indeed started moving. Therefore the NHB related increase in funding from Rs 20,000 crore to 30,000 crore is sure to make a difference,” Sitharaman said. The finance minister announced partial credit scheme for purchase of pooled assets of non-banking finance companies and HFCs up to Rs 1 lakh crore to be monitored at the highest level in each bank. The minister said that NBFCs will be permitted to use the Aadhaar authenticated ‘Know Your Customer’ (KYC) by banks to avoid repeated processes. “NBFC need not ask for one more time proving and repeating the process. This was a major demand from NBFCs. Aadhaar regulations have also been tweaked to this end,” Sitharaman said. The government has decided to make necessary changes in PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) rules and Aadhaar regulations to ease the lending process. To reduce harassment of borrowers and bring in greater efficiency, public sector banks (PSBs) will ensure mandated return of loan documents within 15 days of loan closure. “This will benefit borrowers who have mortgaged assets,” Sitharaman said. The FM also announced check-box based one-time settlement (OTS) process for MSME loans and measures to protect bank officers deciding on the loan settlement process. “Banks will issue improved transparent one-time settlement policy to benefit MSMEs. This is not theoretical. For OTS of loans, we are approaching it with check-box approach. If a client has complied with the requirements in a one-sheet of paper, use the check-box system and then settle for the OTS rather than say sometime else will have to take a call,” Sitharaman said. She said if the check-box approach is taken up by the MSMEs, there is no reason why somebody else should come and decide the matter. “The banks can there and then decide and clear OTS which are due. Many of the NPAs or many of the bank accounts are waiting for banks to take call because nobody wants to take decision on OTS,” Sitharaman said. The FM said that government has taken adequate steps to make sure that there shall be no harassment of the official for the risk that he is taking to reach OTS “In order to protect honest decision making, the CVC (Central Vigilance Commission) has issued direction that internal advisory committee in banks to classify cases as vigilance and non-vigilance. Decision by IAC and bank’s CVC will be treated as final because that happens there and then decision taking risk will not be laden in the heads so we expect that will protect honest decision making in the banks,” Sitharaman said. The finance minister has announced to start process of online tracking of loan applications by borrowers like it is done for tracking of parcels.
New Delhi: Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Wednesday moved the Delhi High Court seeking bail and challenging a lower court’s order sending him to judicial custody saying the case against him was “political vendetta” as the charges against him do not even make an economic offence nor was there any loss to the exchequer nor was it a bank fraud. In his application before the court, Chidambaram has argued that no public funds were involved in the case (INX Media case) and it is also not a case of bank fraud of taking money out of the county or defrauding depositors or stealing money from a company. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details “In fact, in the present case, Rs 305 crore has come into INX Media (i.e. the investee company) as FDI, well within the approval percentage of 46.21 per cent of equity. Out of this Rs 305 crore, Rs 26 crore was invested in an Indian subsidiary company (namely INX News),” said the petition which went on to claim that the Foreign Investment Promotion Board was chaired by the Secretary, Economic Affairs and included four other secretaries (industry, commerce, external affairs and overseas Indian affairs) and the secretary of the administrative ministry concerned. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday The petition said that the minister (Chidambaram) approved the file on the recommendations of the FIPB and secretary, Economic Affairs. The petition said that in CBI custody, Chidambaram was confronted with the then Under Secretary R. Prasad, OSD P.K Bagga, Director Prabodh Saxena, Joint Secretary Anup Pujari and Additional Secretary Sindhushree Khullar, all of whom were involved in processing the FIPB file. “All of the aforesaid persons have affirmed the correctness of the approval granted to INX Media. Neither of them has alleged any illegality in the approval. Further, neither of them has alleged that the Petitioner (Chidambaram) had given them any directions regarding processing of the file pertaining to INX Media,” said the petition. The petition also said that Chidambaram cannot tamper with the evidence as all the files are with the government and claimed that he was the victim of political vendetta.
Kolkata: Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation (Hidco) is set to organise a unique kite-flying competition on Wednesday, in which senior citizens members of Swapno Bhor and Snehodiya at New Town, will take part.Hidco will give kites, latais and suta to the participants. The competition will start at 3pm and the winning candidate will be given a token prize. The function has created great enthusiasm among the residents of Snehodiya and the members of Swapno Bhor, all of whom are senior citizens. Senior citizens through kite-flying are trying to go back to their young days when kite flying on the Viswakarma Puja day was almost considered to be a must in Kolkata and the districts. Kite-flying in Howrah and Hooghly districts were held on the day of Poush Sankranti. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaIn Kolkata, till the late 1980s, people from different ages took part in kite-flying. In Kalighat, opposite to the house of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee there was a famous kite-selling shop called Debalaya. Two kite-selling shops in Central Kolkata, the more famous one being Ghuri Ghor on Creek Row, still sells kites but the number of buyers has gone down drastically. The famous kites were named as Mukh Pora, Chandial and Pet Katti etc. Kite-flying was hit badly after old buildings in the city were demolished to make room for high-rise apartments. The owners do not have any access to the roof and from the mid 1990s the number of kites that were seen on the sky fell drastically. It was Wajid Ali Shah, the deposed Nawab of Lucknow who came to Kolkata and settled in Metiabruz introduced kite-flying in Kolkata. He used to fly colourful kites and the papers were imported from Germany. Well-known singers Manna Dey and Mohammad Rafi were also avid lovers of kite-flying.
HALIFAX – Nova Scotia is modernizing its outdated marriage law by, among other things, removing references to spinsters and illegitimate children.As well, the new Marriage Act will be aligned with federal legislation by removing the authority for people under the age of 16 to marry.The province’s Liberal government says all religious references will be removed to make the law more inclusive.Marriage licences, which must be purchased before two people can marry, will now be valid for three months instead of one year — a change that will make the law consistent with other jurisdictions.Service Nova Scotia Minister Geoff MacLellan says identity security will be improved by requiring both people who wish to marry to complete a marriage licence affidavit.The legislation, which used to be called the Solemnization of Marriage Act, was introduced last fall and will come into effect on May 1.“We are making the act more inclusive and providing enhanced security to couples getting married in Nova Scotia,” MacLellan said in a statement released Wednesday.
OTTAWA – Samantha MacDougall is staring down a tough road.Late next month, she’s scheduled to appear before the social security tribunal, the final appeals body on benefits decisions, to argue the government was wrong to deny her Canada Pension Plan survivor benefits.Anyone under age 35 who loses a spouse only receives CPP survivor benefits if they have children or a disability. Otherwise, they must wait until they reach age of 65 to collect benefits.MacDougall was 30 when her partner Greg Weeks died in 2013. Her two stepsons were too old to be considered dependents, nor did she have a disability.She believes the age requirement is deeply flawed and unconstitutional.“It makes me mad — the policy and the way it’s formed,” MacDougall said. “It’s discriminatory, based on the fact the formula is based on age. I don’t know how they can argue it’s not.”She has been warned the tribunal is unlikely to side with her and that her best hope rests with the country’s top court — and even that may be a long shot.The age rule is in place because a survivor with no children or disability ought to be able to adapt financially to the loss of a partner by going back to work, the government argues. The survivors benefit, by design, provides increased benefits to those deemed least able to recover financially.The age limit was set at 35. MacDougall will have to wait until she is 65 to receive roughly three-fifths of what Weeks would have been eligible for in retirement, adjusted for inflation from the date of death.Weeks, a former army corporal, was 50 when he died of cancer four years ago.MacDougall filled out all the forms the funeral home suggested, including one for CPP survivor benefits. The government rejected her claim.When she received the rejection letter, MacDougall said she was angry and confused. As she went prepared her appeal and researched the issue deeper, MacDougall said she grew more frustrated: “It made less sense, the more reading I did.”For two decades, the federal government has relied on a Supreme Court of Canada ruling that found the age restriction was not discriminatory, even though the delay in receiving the payments and the reduced value of the benefit denied widows and widowers like MacDougall equal treatment under the law.The ruling seeps into documents that make up MacDougall’s file before the tribunal. She allowed The Canadian Press to review the documents filed as part of her appeal.In submissions to the tribunal, the government argues the payments were not designed to “remedy the immediate financial need experienced by widows and widowers.”Instead, they were targeted to older widows and widowers to help them meet their basic needs, because they were less likely to be in the workforce and able to pay the bills on their own.Younger widows had fewer impediments to finding work and were generally in a better position to independently replace a deceased spouse’s income over the long run, the government says.The legal advice MacDougall received from law students working at Dalhousie University’s legal aid clinic is that she would have to convince the Supreme Court to reverse its decision in order to have the rule changed. The tribunal only ensures the current law is being properly enforced and doesn’t have the power to rewrite regulations.“But demonstrating a distinction that amounted to discrimination has been difficult,” the law students wrote in an April 26, 2016 letter to MacDougall.Instead of arguing age discrimination, the students came up with a different idea: MacDougall could argue sex discrimination because the top court has noted that women are more likely to find themselves living in poverty after marital separation.“Although the (CPP) legislation does not target women directly, it might be worth exploring whether it disproportionately negatively impacts on women,” the letter reads.But a constitutional challenge is no easy, or cheap task. MacDougall has had to do all the legwork so far on her own. She said she doesn’t know how much further she will take her appeal if she loses before the tribunal.She might not go any further if she can get satisfactory explanations for all her questions.But for now, she’s taking it one step at a time.“This is a constitutional appeal that it affects all Canadians. I shouldn’t even be the one having to fight this. Everybody should have an input.”Note to readers: This is a corrected story. The hearing, originally scheduled for Tuesday, has been rescheduled for late July.
QUEBEC – Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard insists there is nothing shocking about his recent comments about Muslims having a responsibility in the fight against terrorism.Following the arrest of a Muslim Montrealer in the stabbing of a police officer at the Flint airport in Michigan last week, Couillard said terrorist events like it can’t be disconnected “from Islam in general.”Amor Ftouhi is charged in the attack on airport police Lt. Jeff Neville after someone yelled “Allahu akbar,” the Arabic phrase for “God is great.”The premier reiterated his comments following a news conference in Quebec City on Wednesday.“No religion can disassociate itself from acts of violence perpetrated in its name and it’s up to the members of that confession — not only the rest of society — to denounce it in very strong terms,” Couillard said.“When I say this, I believe that the vast majority of Quebecers — including the vast majority of Quebecers who practise Islam — will agree with me because they say this publicly and privately.”His initial remarks drew the ire of Quebec’s main women’s group, which said Couillard’s tone had shifted since January’s attack on a mosque in Quebec City that claimed six lives.Couillard, who met with members of the Muslim community in Quebec City on Tuesday night, brushed aside that criticism, saying his political approach has long been one of inclusion and tolerance.“It’s not religion, it has nothing to do with religion, it’s a perverted view of religion, a perverted utilization of religion,” he said, referring to attacks carried out in the name of religion.“And it’s up to the members of these confessions to intervene in a very, very strong way and say this has nothing to do with our religion, no one can invoke the name of God in the name of any religion to kill another human being, particularly an innocent human being, or attempt to kill another being.“I believe the vast majority of Quebecers agree with this.”Ftouhi was denied bond during a court appearance Wednesday.
VANCOUVER – For the first time in nearly three months, all wildfire evacuation orders and alerts have been lifted in British Columbia as the province begins to recover from its worst wildfire season on record.The Cariboo Regional District and Thompson-Nicola Regional District say final alerts affecting southern Interior properties have been rescinded.The alerts were lifted as the BC Wildfire Service reported a 1,900-square kilometre blaze that broke out near Ashcroft on July 6 and burned almost 100 kilometres northward is 85 per cent contained.A news release from the Cariboo Regional District says with the entire region deemed “all clear,” its emergency operations centre will close, effective at noon.The Regional District of East Kootenay lifted its final evacuation orders and alerts on Monday, three days after the B.C. government rescinded a provincewide state of emergency that went into effect in early July.Fourteen wildfires of note still blaze within the Southeast, Cariboo and Kamloops fire centres but the wildfire service says cooler weather has allowed crews to make good progress containing flames that have scorched over 12,000 square kilometres of timber since April 1.An off-road vehicle ban covering central and southeastern B.C. was removed Wednesday but campfire bans in those areas remain in effect until further notice.More than $510 million has been spent fighting fires that, at the height of the disaster, chased almost 50,000 people from their communities.Fires are blamed for destroying 509 structures, including 229 homes, and causing financial loss to ranchers, farmers, forestry and tourism operations.
OTTAWA – A U.S. soldier convicted of leaking thousands of classified documents poses no security threat to Canada and ought to be allowed into the country, advocates said Monday.Chelsea Manning tried to enter Canada last month to travel to Montreal and Vancouver, but was turned away at the Canada-U.S. land border when officials determined her crimes were akin to a violation of Canadian treason laws and made her inadmissible.Her case was referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board for a hearing, but advocates want Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen to step in, using his authority under immigration and refugee law to waive the original decision.More than forty organizations and individuals wrote to the minister late last week, including academics, civil liberties organizations, Canada’s association of Quakers and activists Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis, among others.“Ms. Manning’s case is an exceptional one. It’s exactly the kind of one where the minister should be exercising his direction,” said Lex Gill, a technology law researcher and advocate.“There are very strong public interest reasons to allow Ms. Manning to come into Canada and there is no public safety risk in allowing her to do so.”A spokesman for the minister said Hussen had no comment.“As this matter has been put before the courts it would be inappropriate to comment on this matter,” Hursh Jawal said in an email.No hearing date has been set yet for Manning’s case before the immigration appeals division.There’s a lengthy backlog before that section of the Immigration and Refugee Board; as of the end of September, there were more than 10,000 cases waiting for a decision and hundreds of new ones are filed each month.The 29-year-old transgender woman was known as Bradley Manning when she was convicted and sentenced to 35 years in prison after turning over hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks that exposed previously withheld details of the U.S. military effort in Iraq and Afghanistan.She is appealing her conviction and technically remains a member of the U.S. military while those court proceedings are underway.But she was released from military prison in May after serving seven years; in his last days in office, President Barack Obama commuted the rest of her sentence.Shortly before she was turned away from Canada, Harvard University reversed its decision to name her a fellow after the nomination caused an uproar.Both Canadian academics and civil rights groups said in their letters they’d welcome the chance to have Manning speak at their institutions, not just about the material she released but on her work as an advocate in her own right for government transparency and LGBT rights.“Letting Chelsea enter Canada would affirm Canada’s values of dialogue, freedom of expression, and human rights,” wrote Christopher Parsons from the University of Toronto.“More than that, letting Chelsea in is simply the right thing to do.”
The Canadian who was among 12 people killed in a bus crash in eastern Mexico has been identified by her family as Stephanie Horwood of Gatineau, Que.Carole Pommet Reinthaler tells The Canadian Press that her daughter-in-law was in Mexico with her husband and their two daughters aged nine and 11.All three were injured.Pommet Reinthaler says there will be two funeral services — one in Horwood’s native St. John’s, N.L., and the other in Gatineau.She says it was her son who called from Mexico to break the news of the tragedy.Horwood would have turned 42 next week.