New Delhi: State-owned BHEL Monday posted 49.33 per cent jump in standalone net profit at Rs 682.70 crore for March quarter 2018-19 mainly on the back of higher revenues. The company’s profit in the year-ago period stood at Rs 457.17 crore, as per a BSE filing. Total income rose to Rs 10,418.03 crore in March quarter from Rs 10,351.07 crore in the same period of 2017-18. During 2018-19 fiscal, the standalone profit rose to Rs 1,215.39 crore from Rs 806.60 crore a year ago. Total income jumped to Rs 31,026.59 crore from Rs 29,507.28 crore in 2017-18. Also Read – SC declines Oil Min request to stay sharing of documentsConsolidated profit during the fiscal went up at Rs 1,009.16 crore from Rs 438.19 crore in the previous fiscal. Income also rose to Rs 31,029.17 crore from Rs 29,506.72 crore in 2017-18. In addition to interim dividend of Rs 0.80 per share (40 per cent) already paid (on share with face value of Rs 2 each), the company’s board Monday recommended a final dividend of Rs 1.20 per share (60 per cent). Total dividend for 2018-19 would stand at 100 per cent, on the equity. The total dividend outflow for 2018-19 shall be the highest during the last six years.The earning per share for 2018-19 is Rs 3.35 as against Rs 2.20 in 2017-18. Also Read – World suffering ‘synchronized slowdown’, says new IMF chief”Prudent strategies of garnering business in a shrunken and highly competitive business environment coupled with thrust on diversification, have resulted in several breakthroughs,” BHEL Chairman Atul Sobti said. During the year, the company booked highest-ever orders in its transportation business segment and spares and services, BHEL said. It also developed in-house India’s first state-of-the-art regenerative braking system for 5000 HP WAG-7 electric locomotive and delivered BHEL’s first 6,000 HP electric locomotive to Indian Railways. BHEL also received its maiden order for electrification of 440 km rail track. The company forayed into the floating solar power business with the first commercial scale order of 5 MW at Sagardighi. It also entered the electric vehicle (EV) market with maiden order for installation of Solar-based EV Chargers along the Delhi-Chandigarh highway. In addition, the company has entered other new segments like lake purification, municipal water segment, PV plants with battery storage, etc. In overseas markets, despite challenging circumstances, BHEL secured 50 orders for projects, products, systems and services from 17 countries in the last fiscal. This includes an order for the largest hydro power plant in Nepal, 4×225 MW Arun-3 Hydroelectric Project. BHEL also bagged an EPC project – 32 MW Djermaya Solar Power, in Chad. “With focus on core business, equal efforts are being made to increase the share of business from Non-Coal’ areas to 50 per cent from the current level of 30 per cent. BHEL is pursuing new initiatives in various areas such as solar, water, defence, aerospace, electricity storage solutions, e-mobility, railway electrification,” Sobti said. BHEL continues to lay strong foundations for new avenues of future growth. Initiatives in the new business areas will require technology development as the most critical input, he added. The company has taken up in-house development of important technologies including Advanced Ultra Supercritical Technology (AUSC), Coal to Methanol, propulsion technology, etc. Significant progress has been made in the AUSC project, and among other milestones, BHEL has successfully poured the world’s heaviest casting for alloy 625M turbine casings. BHEL is also in the process of setting up a rail-based logistics terminal at Haridwar and plans to make Bengaluru a solar business hub along with further expansion of solar PV manufacturing capacity.
Kolkata: Out of 137 candidates whose names have featured on the list, 19 names from the city have found place among the top ten rankers of the Higher Secondary (HS) Examination this year, which saw a rise in the overall pass percentage compared to 2018.East Midnapore has recorded the highest pass percentage at 94.19, followed by Kolkata, West Midnapore, Kalimpong, Howrah and South 24-Parganas. The city has registered a pass percentage of 91.41, with West Midnapore at 90.94 percent, Kalimpong at 90.49 percent, Howrah at 88.81 percent and South 24-Parganas at 88.61 percent. Meanwhile, Hooghly, North 24-Parganas, Jhargram, Darjeeling, North Dinajpur, Nadia, Purulia and Murshidabad registered pass percentages of 88.83, 87.66, 86.08, 85.46, 85.39, 84.90, 84.85, 84.63 respectively. Also Read – City bids adieu to Goddess DurgaShovan Mandal from Birbhum Zilla School and Rajarshi Barman from Jenkins School in Cooch Behar have jointly bagged the first rank, by scoring 498 marks (99.6%), whereas Sanjukta Bose from Bidhannagar Govt High School in the city got the second rank, along with five others. A total of 7,818 students have scored 90 percent and above. The pass percentage among the male candidates stood at 87.44, with the percentage for female candidates at 85.30 and the average pass percentage at 86.29. The pass percentage last year was recorded at 83.75. Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellersAfter publishing the results, president of WBCHSE Mahua Das said: “It’s a record result in the exam. The students have become more conscious nowadays, which has been reflected in the results. There has been a healthy competition among the schools. In an unprecedented incident, many students have found place on the merit list. We have conducted district-wise orientation programmes, which are bringing results. Teachers are giving time to the students separately.”
New Delhi: Hockey India on Wednesday sacked the junior men’s hockey team coach Jude Felix after the national side finished a disappointing sixth in the just-concluded eight-nation tournament in Madrid. The development came to light after HI advertised for the position on its official website on Wednesday. A source in HI said the decision to remove Jude was on expected lines following a series of below-par performances by the reigning junior world champions. “It was expected, especially after India’s below-par performance in the recent eight-nation tournament in Madrid,” the HI source said. In that tournament earlier this month, the Indian colts lost 0-4 to Australia, 2-3 to Netherlands, 1-3 to Spain and 1-2 to Great Britain. India’s only win in the event was against Austria who they beat 4-2. Jude, who took over the reigns in August 2017, confirmed the development. “Yes, I am no longer the coach of the junior team. I was conveyed the decision 2-3 days via an email,” he added. Asked whether he was given any explanation as to why he was fired, he simply said: “I won’t like to speak anything about it right now.” Jude, a former India captain, however, said he will submit the report of the Madrid tournament in a day or two to HI.
Kolkata: The state government has decided to construct 8.30 lakh houses for poorpeople living in the rural areas, under the Banglar Bari project. The houses will be constructed in the current financial year. In the 2018-19 financial year, 5.86 lakh houses have been built under the project, while in the current financial year, another 2.50 lakh houses will be set up. The houses will be built by the Panchayat and Rural Development department. The district magistrates have been asked to prepare a list of beneficiaries. The Central government will bear 60% of the cost, while 40% cost will be borne by the state government. The toilets will be constructed under Mission Nirmal Bangla project. The area of the houses will be 25 sq metres. There will be one room, a kitchen, a balcony and a toilet in each. It has been decided that in Jangalmahal, the beneficiaries will get Rs 1.30 lakh while their counterparts in other areas will get Rs 1.20 lakh. It may be mentioned that stress has been given on eight districts in this regard, namely South and North 24-Parganas, East and West Midnapore, Howrah, Hooghly, Murshidabad and East Burdwan. The ministry of Rural Development has increased the financial allotment in the current financial year, on the basis of the good performance of the state government in the last financial year. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has instructed that every house will bear the Banglar Bari tag. Under the project, the beneficiaries can decorate the houses on their own. A similar project for the urban poor has also been taken up. Around 8 lakh people living in the city and suburbs will be brought under the scheme. Around Rs 3.75 lakh will be allotted to construct each house under the project.
Mumbai: Comedians Aditi Mittal and Mahima Kukreja have called out Tanmay Bhat for using a mental health issue like depression to try and do damage control in the wake of AIB’s fall from grace amid #MeToo allegations. In a series of Instagram videos last week, Bhat claimed he is suffering from “clinical depression”. “After everything that happened in October, I’m mentally checked out. I feel almost paralysed and unable to participate socially, online or even offline,” he said. Also Read – Rihanna to release 500-page ‘visual’ autobiography Bhat was under attack for his inaction in the complaints against comic Utsav Chakraborty during the #MeToo movement in October 2018. Last month, comedy group AIB announced that Bhat will step down from the post of CEO and the company’s YouTube channel is “dead for the foreseeable future”. On Sunday, Mittal in a series of tweets blasted Bhat for using depression as merely a good for “public consumption”. She further said the claims sounded insincere as the corporates had pulled out investment from AIB post #MeToo wave hit the comedy collective. Also Read – Hilarie Burton, Jeffery Dean Morgan tie the knot “I remember when I had to hear on the set of a show that I was working on that I gave ‘t** access too soon’ coz it was told by Tanmay Bhat to the 22 year old writers on that set. I spent a year saying no to work after that coz I was terrified I would have to hear that again… We’ve all been f**ked over by life. But apparently depression is only newsworthy when someone who had a corporates throwing money at him stopped having money thrown at him… “Sisters out there wanting to be symbols and role models of depressed people not being depressed. Like what part of your life will you not sell for public consumption, again? Like, if you want to play depression victim now, you please acknowledge the system of 19-24 year olds with Macs and Twitter accounts, and men with VC funds that you were ‘friends’ with that led to the depression of so many young women who tried to do comedy at that time,” Mittal wrote. She recalled being “slut shamed” by Chakraborty, former comedian at AIB who was outed by comic Mahima Kukreja as an alleged sexual harasser. “I remember being slut shamed by Utsav Chakraborty, to a guy that said he liked me. He told the guy ‘Be careful of Aditi, she’s been around.’ It’s kind of why I felt so incredibly strongly for Mahima when she spoke up. Because I just couldn’t bear to have more of this happen.” Allegations against Chakarborty came to light as part of a Twitter thread about the way Indian men behaved onboard a cruise liner. Chakraborty apparent woke tweet did not sit well with Kukreja who called him out on his own behaviour alleging that he sent her unsolicited pictures of private parts opening a can of worms as many other women, including minors, came forward with similar allegations. On Monday, Kukreja pointed out the irony in Bhat’s videos saying, nobody bothered about the mental health of women who were harassed. “Women’s mental health has been great much anxiety etc depression is fun all is great. Just FYI because nobody is asking,” Kukreja said, adding women struggle with mental health issues on a daily basis. She added, “Also FYI my mental trauma is valid and I’ve f**king dealt with it and will continue to deal with it without hurting women in the process “I can’t get myself to get on stage regularly to perform comedy because I’m afraid to run into your fav woke comic boys who will trigger me and cause me panic attacks but the who the f**k cares right.” There were some supportive voices in the comedians community with people such as Kaneez Surka, Kunal Kamra, Naveen Richard and Zakir Khan posting messages wishing Bhat good health. “You are so loved jaan – you don’t even realise how much,” Surka, who had accused Mittal of forcefully kissing her on stage, wrote on Instagram. Mittal said the kiss, during an open mic, was part of the act but she apologised unconditionally for causing discomfort to Surka. “We cannot empathise. But we can sympathise. And love. And there is plenty of love over on this side. Just come on over and help yourself to as much as you want buddy,” Naveen Richard said. Kamra wrote, “We are all rooting for you to come back harder and stronger.”
Fullerton (USA): India’s campaign at the US Open badminton tournament ended after Sourabh Verma lost his men’s singles semifinal match to Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk of Thailand here on Sunday. The world no. 43 Sourabh lost 9-21 18-21 against the Thai shuttler in a contest that lasted just 39 minutes. Sourabh struggled in the first game but gave a tough fight in the second before losing in straight games. Other Indians in the fray — Parupalli Kashyap, HS Prannoy, Ajay Jayaram and Lakshya Sen — had bowed out of the tournament earlier.
Paris: Neymar showed up for training at Paris Saint-Germain on Monday, according to French media reports, a week late and days after controversially claiming his best football memory was beating PSG when he played for Barcelona. A video posted on the website of leading sports daily L’Equipe showed the 27-year-old Brazilian — his hair dyed peroxide blonde — getting out of a black Mercedes van at the club’s training ground in the suburbs of the French capital. Also Read – Dhoni, Paes spotted playing football togetherPSG officially began pre-season training last Monday but Neymar, linked with a move back to Barcelona, was not there, with the player’s camp maintaining he had a prior agreement to stay away. The French champions responded last week by threatening to take “appropriate action” against the world’s most expensive player, who said he had stayed in Brazil to attend a charity five-a-side football tournament run by his foundation, the Neymar Institute. Also Read – Andy Murray to make Grand Slam return at Australian OpenOn Saturday, Neymar, who joined PSG for 222 million euros from Barcelona in 2017, made a series of remarks that strained his relationship further with the club and sparked outrage on social media. Asked by online sports channel Oh My Goal about his best memory in football, the troubled superstar cited Barcelona’s incredible 2017 Champions League victory over PSG when he was part of the team that overturned a 4-0 first-leg deficit by winning 6-1 in the second leg of their last-16 tie. Earlier in the day, Neymar posted a 10-second video of himself in a Barcelona shirt and a quote from the Bible: “No weapon turned against you will prosper.”
Perhaps the biggest day for H D Kumaraswamy’s government as the floor test gets underway today in a bid to decide whether the precariously held Congress-JD(S) government will continue or fall. A series of development took place ever since resignations of several MLAs from the government surfaced, necessitating today’s floor test all the more. Amidst the glaring chaos, the picture of rebel MLAs presenting their resignations with the alleged motive of defection and the ulterior ambition to push the Kumaraswamy government off the books saw the intervention of the Supreme Court. Tuesday’s hearing, in fact, also drove the Supreme Court to the extent of pronouncing the fact that there is no rule on the extent of powers exercised by the apex court. This followed when lawyers representing the Congress-JD(S) combine questioned the apex court’s power to give directions to the Speaker. The writ petitions filed by the dissident legislators against the Speaker on grounds of delaying their resignation, blaming the Speaker for acting in a malafide manner in a bid to provide the waning Kumaraswamy government with something to hang on to. The Supreme Court, in its order yesterday, made it clear that the Karnataka Speaker will enjoy complete discretion and authority to decide on resignations tendered by the dissident MLAs while also asserting that legislators had every right to opt out of the Assembly proceedings, which directly meant no sense of obligation on the legislators’ part to attend today’s crucial floor test. In essence, the Supreme Court perceived the order as striking a prudent balance between the rights of the Speaker and the dissenting MLAs. So the interim order empowered the Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar to decide upon the resignations as and when he considers it appropriate to which he asserted that the Court had further increased his responsibilities. Ramesh Kumar had separately iterated that the MLAs were already facing disqualification for defection and the disqualification plea by Congress preceded their resignation. It remains to be seen whether all those iterations and different angles come into play in today’s floor test. BJP will be on the lookout as the outcome may shift the momentum in their favour should the Kumaraswamy government fail to prove majority, chances of which appear slim. It has been a turbulent one year for the Congress-JD(S) government which repeatedly encountered episodes of horse-trading before the general elections and dissenting MLAs up for resignations after it. Whatever may be the outcome, increased emphasis is drawn towards the unproductive and sceptical approach taken by the legislators of a government, bringing the state machinery to a halt and not letting it focus on state issues as well as important legislation to steer the state as part of duty-bound governance. On top of everything, people’s mandate has been made a joke, reducing the level of sacrosanctness it is supposed to possess in our democratic setup!
Washington: The Trump administration signed an agreement with Guatemala Friday that will restrict asylum applications to the U.S. from Central America. The so-called “safe third country” agreement would require migrants, including Salvadorans and Hondurans, who cross into Guatemala on their way to the U.S. to apply for protections in Guatemala instead of at the U.S. border. It could potentially ease the crush of migrants overwhelming the U.S. immigration system, although many questions remain about how the agreement will be executed. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from US President Donald Trump heralded the concession as a win as he struggles to live up to his campaign promises on immigration. “This is a very big day,” he said. “We have long been working with Guatemala and now we can do it the right way.” He claimed, “This landmark agreement will put the coyotes and smugglers out of business.” The announcement comes after a court in California blocked Trump’s most restrictive asylum effort to date, one that would effectively end protections at the southern border. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential polls The two countries had been negotiating such an agreement for months, and Trump threatened Wednesday to place tariffs or other consequences on Guatemala if it didn’t reach a deal. “We’ll either do tariffs or we’ll do something. We’re looking at something very severe with respect to Guatemala,” Trump had said. On Friday, Trump praised the Guatemalan government, saying now it has “a friend in the United States, instead of an enemy in the United States.” Trump added Friday that the agreement would protect “the rights of those with legitimate claims,” end “abuse” of the asylum system and curtail the crisis on the U.S. southern border. He said that as part of the agreement, the U.S. would increase access to the H-2A visa program for temporary agricultural workers from Guatemala. It’s not clear how the agreement will take effect. Guatemala’s Constitutional Court has granted three injunctions preventing its government from entering into a deal without approval of the country’s congress. Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said via social media that the agreement allows the country to avoid “drastic sanctions … many of them designed to strongly punish our economy, such as taxes on remittances that our brothers send daily, as well as the imposition of tariffs on our export goods and migratory restrictions.” Earlier Friday, Morales questioned the concept of a “safe third country.” “Where does that term exist?” he asked reporters. “It does not exist, it is a colloquial term. No agreement exists that is called ‘safe third country.'” Human rights prosecutor Jord n Rodas said his team was studying the legality of the agreement and whether Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart had the authority to sign the compact. Guatemala’s government put out a six-paragraph, Spanish-language statement Friday on Twitter. It does not call the agreement “safe third country” but “Cooperation Agreement for the Assessment of Protection Requests.” The Guatemalan government said that in coming days its Labor Ministry “will start issuing work visas in the agriculture industry, which will allow Guatemalans to travel legally to the United States, to avoid being victims of criminal organizations, to work temporarily and then return to Guatemala, which will strengthen family unity.” The same conditions driving Salvadorans and Hondurans to flee their country gang violence, poverty, joblessness, a prolonged drought that has severely hit crop yields are also present in Guatemala. Guatemala also lacks resources to adequately house, educate or provide opportunity to potential asylum seekers, observers say. In Guatemala City, social and student organizations spoke out against the agreement in front of the Constitutional Court, on the grounds that the country is mired in poverty and unemployment and has no capacity to serve migrants. They called for a protest rally Saturday. Advocacy groups condemned the move Friday, with Amnesty International saying “any attempts to force families and individuals fleeing their home countries to seek safety in Guatemala are outrageous.”
Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh government on Sunday removed the district magistrate and superintendent of police of Sonbhadra with immediate effect following an inquiry into the killing of 10 Gond tribals last month over a land dispute. Addressing a press conference at his residence, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said departmental proceedings were initiated against Sonbhadra District Magistrate Anikt Kumar Agrawal and Superintendent of Police Salmantaj Patil. The action by the UP government comes a day after the additional chief secretary (revenue) submitted a report to the government, he said. Ten persons were killed and 28 injured in the clash after a village headman and his supporters opened fire on a group of tribals over a land dispute. See P6
Islamabad: The US has asked Pakistan to show some “visible progress” in its action against the banned terror outfits and their leaderships to address the concerns of more countries and help Islamabad move out of the grey list of Financial Action Task Force (FATF), according to a media report. A US delegation was in Islamabad to have an independent assessment of steps, actions and measures identified during the Florida meetings of the the Paris-based anti-money laundering watchdog in June this year and the progress made by Pakistan since then, a senior government official told Pakistani daily Dawn. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USIn June, the FATF said that Pakistan failed to complete its action plan on terror financing. It warned Islamabad to meet its commitment by October or face action, which could possibly lead to the country getting blacklisted. The FATF last year placed Pakistan on the grey list of countries whose domestic laws are considered weak to tackle the challenges of money laundering and terrorism financing. The US delegation’s visit comes after Prime Minister Imran Khan visited Washington and held talks with President Donald Trump. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsThe US delegation comprising Acting Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Ambassador Alice G Wells, US Treasury officials Scott Rembrandt, Grant Vickers, David Galbraith and others met Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on Tuesday. The adviser briefed the visiting delegation on the measures pertaining to economic reforms being undertaken by the Government of Pakistan to ensure economic discipline, efforts being made towards implementation of the FATF Action Plan and the key challenges being faced, said an official statement. The official, who has been part of Pakistan’s team interacting with the FATF and Asia Pacific Group (APG) over the past year, told the daily that Islamabad had taken significant steps since the FATF meetings in June. He informed the US delegation that the National Assembly’s standing committee on finance had cleared two critical bills relating to amendments in foreign exchange regulations and anti-money laundering law. However, the visiting delegation was interested in a time frame when they would become laws, properly passed by the parliament and signed by the President of Pakistan, the report said. “The US delegation had rather strong position on taking actions against banned outfits, their activities and movements of their leaderships and key operatives and wanted some visible progress by the authorities to address adverse opinions from majority of FATF members,” the official said. He said the international partners helped Islamabad engage foreign consultants to support and prepare key stakeholders such as the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (Nacta), the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to take actions and formulate reports keeping in view the international perspective. He claimed that the Pakistani authorities had made significant progress during the past one year, particularly over the past couple of months, but the international perspective in various presentations and reports to the APG and FATF was missing. He expressed hope that international experts in the four key organisations would bridge those groups.
New Delhi: The Bihar government told the National Green Tribunal on Wednesday that 17 towns along the Ganga river in the state have been declared open-defecation free (ODF). Five towns are currently in the process of being declared ODF, it said. In an affidavit filed before NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, the state government said that 17 towns have been declared ODF. They are: Barh, Hajipur, Sonepur, Mokama, Bakhtiyarpur, Teghra, Maner, Barhiya, Manihari, Buxar, Naugachia, Danapur, Dighwara, Jamalpur, Munger, Begusarai and Bhagalpur It said the work was in process in Patna, Chhapra, Sultanganj, Khagariya and Kahalgaon. With regard to liquid waste management, the state government informed the tribunal that a total 26 sewerage infrastructure projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs 5,089.82 crore which are at different stages of implementation in various towns — Patna (11 projects), Begusarai, Munger, Hajipur, Mokama, Sultanganj, Naugachia, Barh, Bhagalpur, Sonepur, Chhapra, Khagaria, Bakhtiyarpur, Maner, Danapur and Phulwarishariff.
Leh: Pakistan has no locus standi on Kashmir and no country is backing it on the “current issue”, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday amid Islamabad’s efforts to internationalise the Centre’s move to abrogate provisions of Article 370.Addressing a DRDO event here, Singh asked how can India talk to Pakistan when it keeps trying to destabilise India using terror. India wants to have a good neighbourly relationship with Pakistan, but it should first stop exporting terror to India, Singh said. “Pakistan has no locus standi on Kashmir. However, it is in illegal occupation of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, including Gilgit Baltistan,” the minister said after inaugurating the ‘Kisan-Jawan Vigyan Mela’. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’Parliament had passed an unanimous resolution in February 1994 in which India’s stand had been made clear, Singh said. “I want to ask Pakistan, when had Kashmir belonged to it. Pakistan was also formed out of India,” he said. India respects Pakistan’s existence, but that does not mean that it can keep making statements on Kashmir, Singh said. “Kashmir has been ours, there has been no doubt about that in the country. The truth is that PoK and Gilgit Baltistan is in illegal occupation of Pakistan. Pakistan should focus on addressing human rights violations and atrocities in PoK,” Singh said. He said US Defense Secretary Mark Esper during a telephonic conversation told him that abrogation of provisions of Article 370 was an internal matter of India. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&K”No country is with Pakistan on the current issue,” Singh said. He also cited Hindi proverb ‘begani shaadi mein abdullah deewana’ to assert that Pakistan had nothing to do with Kashmir. Earlier this month, the government had revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 of the Constitution and divided the state into Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. “When we made a law to make Ladakh a separate Union Territory then we not only respected the public sentiment here but also gave a solution to the problems of the people,” Singh said. “Our prime minister has made it clear that localised solution will be brought in for India’s strategic areas,” he said. Organised by Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR) DRDO, the ‘Kisan Jawan Vigyan Mela’ is a big step towards strengthening the strategic ecosystem in Ladakh, Singh said.
Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday tweeted about the overwhelming response that “Didi Ke Bolo”, the mass outreach programme launched by Banerjee on July 29, received from the people of Bengal.In one month, more than 10 lakh people reached out to the platform to appreciate the initiative, provide valuable suggestions and for grievances redressal. “I am humbled with the overwhelming response of the people on the @DidiKeBolo platform. In the last 30 days, over 10 lakh people have reached out to us with their words of appreciation for the initiative, valuable suggestions and grievances. I thank each one for their support and acknowledgement. We take note of their valuable suggestions and are committed to working overtime to resolve their grievances to an extent possible in an expeditious manner,” Banerjee tweeted. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaTo be precise, altogether 1,000,350 people from various parts of the state have reached out to the Chief Minister and her office through the platform appealing to the government or the party to address various issues. As per statistics, the total number of calls on the helpline number — 9137091370 — has been 800,635 while the grievances mailed to www.didikebolo.com stands at 199,715. Complaints of grievances, suggestions, appreciatory messages and miscellaneous messages (by people who reached out to the authorities in distress) were received on the helpline number. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayAbout 42 percent complaints were for grievances redressal, 32 percent callers provided suggestions for the platform, 22 percent shared appreciatory messages while 4 percent callers came up with miscellaneous messages. In the past 30 days, a total of 214 people in distress reached out to Didi’s office through the mass outreach platform, out of which 161 cases were resolved on a priority basis. This also included calls from people of Bengal, who were marooned during floods in Kerala and Karnataka. As part of the initiative, about 500 TMC MLAs and senior leaders conducted outreach programmes in 1,022 villages. Leaders held “Jan Sangjog Sabhas” during their on-ground visits, in which they visited key influencers in the villages, interacted with local residents, took their suggestions and listened to their grievances and spent a night in one of the workers’ homes. According to insiders within the agency that handles the complaints, the “Didi Ke Bolo” platform mostly received complaints regarding malfunctioning of municipal bodies and non-availability of BPL ration cards and the cumbersome process to get SC, ST and OBC certificates in the rural areas. Several problems related to healthcare have also been addressed.
Tunis: Days before the first round of Tunisia’s presidential election, the fledgling democracy on Saturday began three nights of televised debates between the candidates, a rare event in the Arab world. The showdown between the 26 hopefuls is seen as the highlight of the campaign and a turning point in Tunisian politics ahead of the September 15 vote. The North African nation has been praised as a rare success story for democratic transition after the Arab Spring regional uprisings sparked by its 2011 revolution. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USCalled “The road to Carthage: Tunisia makes its choice”, the programme was broadcast on 11 TV channels, two of them public, and about 20 radio stations. “We won’t be able to escape it,” said a smiling Belabbes Benkredda, founder of the Munathara Initiative which promotes open debate in the Arab world and helped organise the event. The first hour-and-a-half debate on Saturday night involved eight of the candidates, including Abdelfattah Mourou of the Islamist-inspired Ennahda party, and passionate secularist Abir Moussi, head of a group with roots in the party of former dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsThere was also an empty space for the controversial media mogul Nabil Karoui, currently detained on money laundering charges. “Tonight I am deprived of my constitutional right to express myself in front of the Tunisian people,” Karoui wrote on Twitter. “They dare to speak of democratic and transparent elections despite the absence of the basic principle of equal opportunities.” The stage, at the studios of public TV channel Wataniya, placed candidates in a semi-circle with two journalist moderators at the centre. The questions were set by the journalists and randomly selected and allocated to candidates on Friday. Each candidate had 90 seconds to respond to a question and could be asked a follow-up question or interrupted. At the end of the show, candidates were given 99 seconds to outline their manifestos and campaign promises. Tunisians gathered in cafes to watch the debates, their eyes riveted to TV screens as if they were following an important football match. Oussama, 33, said the debate had been “cold and devoid of clashes”, although it had at least allowed him to cross some hopefuls off his list. “But we’re proud, because all Arabs everywhere were watching us this evening,” he said. Beyond the organisational and technical elements, organisers highlighted the rare nature of the event. “Often in the Arab world, when we speak of competition we know who wins at the end, with 99.99 per cent. Today, we don’t know who is going to win”, said Lassad Khedder, head of a private TV channel syndicate in Tunisia. “Tunisian voters haven’t yet decided,” said political analyst Ziyed Krichen. Thousands of votes one way or the other “could radically change” the country, he added. Indeed, the plethora of candidates, political programmes and issues, has led to a uniquely unpredictable election. Many Tunisians say they are counting on the debates to help them make their decision. “It’s unprecedented! As a Tunisian journalist, I am proud and impatient to see this,” said Monia Dhouib, a member of the organising committee. But such debates are not entirely without precedent in the region. In 2012, 15 months after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, Egypt organised a historic televised debate between two favourites among the 13 candidates running for president. The winner of that election, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi, was deposed by the army following massive protests a year after he took office.
It’s difficult to get a question through to Braz Gonsalves these days. Age has caught up with one of India’s greatest jazz musicians at 85 and the man whose music was once described by connoisseurs, “as the kind which rears and sways before eventually striking the listener like a serpent”, struggles to catch up with questions asked of him. Questions like, what really were some of the most inspirational moments of his life and music. But when he hears the word, music, he reels off stories of his tours in Europe in the 1980s, with Louis Banks and Pam Crain. Also Read – An income drop can harm brainBorn in Portuguese-held Goa in 1934 in a small village called Neura near Panjim (now Panaji), Gonsalves also credits his early days in the local Church for first stoking his musical genius. “My early inspiration was during the days when I was raised in Goa was my Church. I learnt music in my parish. Music then was largely Georgian and bordered around religious chants,” Gonsalves said. The jazz great now lives in Porvorim, near the state capital, best known for the inharmonious symphony of honking cars and trucks as they zip along the National Highway-66 that cuts through the concretised locales of the suburb. Also Read – Shallu Jindal honoured with Mahatma AwardIn the colonial era and some years after, the local Church was the breeding ground for Goan musicians of the Catholic faith. Cut off from the Indian mainland and its music, a Goan Catholic lad in all likelihood, knew more about a Bach piece than a classic S D Burman song, Gonsalves acknowledges. “Those days we did not have any Hindi, Konkani music or English music,” he said. He left Goa as a teenager to pursue his career as a musician. After a brief pit-stop as a musician in a circus band, he plunged headlong into the wild partying oases of Calcutta and Bombay of the 1970s. In the late evenings the veritable ring masters of these stylish clubs were the musicians who made the crowds sway and turn on the notes they belted out. Soon, Gonsalves became the toast of Hotel Astoria in Bombay for his exemplary rendition on tenor, alto and soprano saxophones. What made Gonsalves’ music special? According to Naresh Fernandes, author of the popular treatise on Bombay’s tryst with jazz, it was his spirit of innovation. “Braz, in addition to being a virtuoso on his instruments, is one of the most innovative jazz musicians India has ever produced. He found inspiration in a variety of sources and was mixing Indian influences with jazz long before this became popular.” “His melodic and harmonic explorations are astonishingly sophisticated, and his gospel compositions have a joyous serenity. Most of all, Braz brings his listeners, delight,” he added. His fame as well as his company of other legends of his time like Louis Banks and Pam Crain took him around India as well as Europe, which he says were some of his most memorable moments, pioneering Indo-Jazz fusion. But it was on a cold night in Munich in the early 1980s, that Gonsalves, who according to Indian jazz connoisseurs was on the cusp of greatness then, stumbled into the warm embrace of the Lord. All it took was a fall on a patch of slippery ice, which broke his hand and in a way welded him o the arms of God. A flash of light he says, seared through him, moments after the fall, which altered his mind and made Gonsalves rededicate himself to God. Gonsalves gave up a professional career spanning over two decades as a jazz exponent and dedicated himself to the Church and gospel singing groups. Not that he gave up playing the reed instrument altogether. He continued to play for church groups and occasionally did perform on a public stage like he did in Goa in 2011. Some years back, he was conferred recognition by the state government for his contribution to art and culture. Gonsalves now expects his grandson Jarryd, to pursue the legacy and belt out unbridled joy on the sax. “Jarryd has taken up playing jazz. He is in Bombay (Mumbai) now and is playing very well. But he has to keep on going. There is no end of learning. He will take my legacy forward,” he concluded.
Dharamsala: Virat Kohli will be venturing into the unknown with a clean slate, where a few seasoned hands will be backing a group of immensely talented youngsters, in his quest for World T20 title which begins with a three-match bilateral series against South Africa here on Sunday. The 3-0 series win against the West Indies could be called a pre-cursor as it was just after enduring a disappointing end to their ODI World Cup campaign. The real battle begins now with this series against Quinton de Kocks and Kagiso Rabadas, who are also in the midst of a tough transition phase. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over ChandigarhA good spell from Rabada or a cameo from David Miller could pose challenge for the Indians, while some of the others like Test specialist Temba Bavuma or Anrich Nortje will like to prove their credentials in absence of Faf du Plessis or Hashim Amla. There will be around 20 odd matches for captain Kohli and head coach Ravi Shastri to build a near perfect combination going into the World T20 in Australia in October next year. There are many questions that the team management will have to answer in the next 13 months during which IPL will also be held. Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced laterSave Kohli, his deputy Rohit Sharma, all-rounder Hardik Pandya and premier pacer Jasprit Bumrah (rested for this series), at least seven slots in playing XI and four more in the 15-member squad are up for grabs, with some bold steps on cards. Retirement is Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s individual call but does the team management intend to look ahead like the selection committee does? It is yet to be known and Rishabh Pant’s indiscretions doesn’t make it easier for Kohli and Shastri. Manish Pandey has been in and around for years now and despite the kind of quality he possesses, the Karnataka batsman has not inspired highest confidence in the chances he got. So will it be Pandey at No 4 or Delhi Capitals captain Shreyas Iyer, who was in fine form during the Windies one dayers? The other fascinating aspect will be the future of spin twins Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, at least in the shortest version. Rajasthan leg-spinner Rahul Chahar is a young talent and is being billed as one for the future. And with all-rounder Krunal Pandya also shaping up well and Ravindra Jadeja’s experience set to come in handy, where does it leave the much in demand wrist spin duo, who had replaced Ravichandran Ashwin and Jadeja (for the better part) post 2017 Champions Trophy. Not to forget, India have a back up finger spinner in young Washington Sundar, who in his U-19 days was a hard-hitting top-order batsman. So next question is where does it leave Kuldeep and Chahal in T20 scheme of things? Last but not the least is the pace department where Bumrah is the only certainty. Deepak Chahar, who many in Indian cricket term as ‘Poor Man’s Praveen Kumar’ for the movement he generates during first spell, is an inspired investment for shortest version. And then there is Navdeep Saini with raw pace and Khaleel Ahmed bringing in the left-arm variety but known to leak runs. Will they be persisted with in the long run? In next 13 months, Kohli will seek all the answers. Squads: India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Krunal Pandya, Washington Sundar, Rahul Chahar, Khaleel Ahmed, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini. South Africa: Quinton de Kock (c), Rassie van der Dussen (vc), Temba Bauvma, Junior Dala, Bjorn Fortuin, Beuran Hendricks, Reeza Hendricks, David Miller, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukyao, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, George Linde. Match Starts 7 pm.
VANCOUVER – The federal government is closing some recreational and commercial chinook fisheries on the West Coast in an effort to help save endangered southern resident killer whales.Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc said Thursday that a lack of prey for the whales is one of the critical factors affecting their recovery.Southern residents inhabit the waters from south and central Vancouver Island all the way to northern California where they hunt for the salmon.There are just 76 of the whales left and LeBlanc said in a news release that a reduction in the total chinook fishery of 25 to 35 per cent will help conserve the orca’s main food source.The closures will be in the Juan de Fuca Strait and around portions of the Gulf Islands, the department said in the release.There will also be partial closures at the mouth of the Fraser River to protect key foraging areas for the whales.The federal government also announced that over $9.5 million will be spent on eight projects across B.C. to help restore chinook habitat.Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said the species faces imminent threats to its survival and recovery, and the government needs to take concrete action.“These iconic and awe-inspiring whales are cherished by Canadians across the country and visitors alike, and protecting them is essential to keeping our oceans healthy and dynamic — not just for today, but to ensure we leave a rich natural legacy to our kids and grandkids,” she said.The population, which is made up of three separate pods, was diminished significantly in the 1960s and ’70s when about 47 of the whales were captured and relocated to aquariums. Previous studies have found that acoustic and physical disturbances, along with pollution also play a role in threatening the population.The Fisheries Department said the whales are listed as an endangered species in both Canada and the United States.Owen Bird, executive director of the Sport Fishing Institute of British Columbia, said the announcement lacked enough detail for him to be sure how it would affect his members. It wasn’t clear how the fishery reduction would be achieved, or the nature and size of the closures, he said.He said he was surprised by the government’s assertion that lack of prey was one of the critical factors affecting the whales’ recovery.“I don’t know that that’s something that science has indicated is absolutely one of the factors. It certainly could be a part of the issue,” he said.“There are other factors that could play more or less of a role. … There’s noise, interference, access to prey.”Jeffery Young, a senior scientist with the David Suzuki Foundation, said there is solid science showing a lack of prey is a critical factor for the whales.Cutting the fishery is long overdue not only for the whales, but for the fish, he said.“A lot more work is needed not just to protect the orcas … but actually to rebuild those chinook salmon and ensure that we’re managing fisheries to get enough chinook past the fishery, available to whales and then into spawning grounds so they can rebuild,” Young said.He agreed that Ottawa’s announcement lacked details, not only about the closures, but what other measures will be taken to help save the whales.New rules should be brought in for contaminants, underwater noise and how close people and vessels can get to marine mammals, Young said.But he said the federal government’s announcement that the whales face an imminent threat to both their survival and recovery is an important statement, and he expects to see more regulations announced soon.“We’re happy to see it,” Young said.Bird said his members were very interested in being part of “meaningful efforts” to save the whales and he has been consulting with the federal government on the issue.“The recreational community is absolutely invested in wanting to see these creatures recover,” he said.A worst-case scenario would be if the government imposed measures against recreational fisheries and didn’t do anything else about the other problems affecting the whales, he said.“You wouldn’t want to see fisheries closed and yet big ships going by or commercial fishing activities taking place totally unabated in those same areas.”— With files from Laura Kane.
HALIFAX – Injuries suffered by at least two of six North Atlantic right whales found floating lifeless in the Gulf of St. Lawrence appear to be consistent with ship strikes, marine mammal experts say.Tonya Wimmer of the Marine Animal Response Society said Tuesday that the preliminary findings of necropsies on three of the whales indicate that two of them sustained blunt traumas that caused extensive bruising along their sides and internal hemorrhaging.A third died after becoming snarled in fishing rope that wrapped around one flipper and inside its mouth.She said the team of federal fisheries officials, veterinarians and other marine experts who were part of the necropsies in P.E.I. couldn’t yet say conclusively what caused the deaths as they await results from biological testing on the animal’s tissue. Experts are set to release a final report within the next two months.Still, Wimmer said the information so far seems consistent with a collision with a vessel of some sort — one of the most lethal hazards for the endangered animals.“The animal was obviously struck by something large, what it could be we don’t know,” she said in Halifax. “When we’ve seen that in the past, it has been on animals where there have been vessel collisions, but for these two we don’t know for a fact because no one saw these animals getting struck.”The six North Atlantic right whales — among the most endangered large mammals on Earth — were found dead and decomposing in waters north of Prince Edward Island and southeast of Quebec’s Gaspe Peninsula last month.The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans said late Tuesday that although six carcasses were found, only three necropsies were planned given the other whales’ advanced state of decomposition.Pierre-Yves Daoust of the Atlantic Veterinary College in P.E.I. led the necropsies and said they discovered internal hemorrhaging confined to the thoracic cavity and some of the soft tissues.“That suggests there may have been some major shearing forces that had ruptured blood vessels and caused fatal internal bleeding,” he said. “What we saw is consistent with blunt trauma and therefore a ship strike … but we can never completely rule out the possibility of some odd changes that may have happened after death.”Still, he said the lack of a conclusive cause of death shouldn’t prevent officials from working to prevent future ship strikes while intensifying the research being done on the animals, which were hunted to the brink of extinction decades ago. The loss of six North Atlantic right whales represents about one per cent of the estimated 525 endangered animals now in existence.“We cannot wait to have another half dozen right whales killed either this summer or next summer before we start addressing this potential cause of mortality,” he said.The loss of so many right whales so quickly was probably last seen when whaling decimated their population in the 19th century, said Mark Baumgartner at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute on Cape Cod. He also said the deaths should be a call to do more to protect the animals when possible.Wimmer said more needs to be done to identify the whales’ migratory routes and habitats so they can be protected against ship traffic and fishing activity. She said one of the whales — a 13-metre-long female around 11 years old — had fishing line and local buoys on it, so they may be able to determine where it travelled by locating the fisherman.The other two were males, with one roughly 37 years old and 15 metres long and the other 14 metres long.She said much is known about the North Atlantic right whales’ presence in the Bay of Fundy, but there is less information about their shift to the Gulf of St. Lawrence and possibly other areas.“We have to have a better understanding of how these entanglements happen, where they might happen, to then hopefully prevent it from happening,” she said. “We don’t know when and where they were harmed and that’s the hard part because we need that information to go, ‘OK, here’s where we need to work and who we need to work with.’”Governments took steps to protect certain areas after it became clear that the whales transited through certain areas on their way to feeding grounds off the East Coast.The International Maritime Organization years ago designated the Roseway Basin, southwest of Nova Scotia, as an area to be avoided to protect the whales. With that, ships were urged to steer clear of an area that measures 1,780 square nautical kilometres. The initiative came after the IMO approved a proposal by Ottawa in 2003 to amend shipping lanes and force vessels to divert several kilometres around feeding grounds in the Bay of Fundy.Whale experts say the measures have helped protect the slow, lumbering animals against strikes and build up their population from a low of 350 a decade ago.
FREDERICTON – New Brunswick’s famous Miramichi River was once the largest salmon-producing river in North America, drawing the famous and the powerful keen to fly fish there.But the number of salmon are dropping at an alarming rate — they are now a fraction of what they were in the 90s — and scientists are not entirely sure why.“If I had one answer, I think that would make a lot of people happy,” said Tommi Linnansaari, the new Atlantic Salmon Research chair at the University of New Brunswick.UNB announced Friday it is undertaking four research projects to get accurate salmon population numbers — and to understand how those numbers are affected by climate change.“The things that will be learned there are applicable globally. This is one of the great strengths of what we’re doing,” said Fred Whoriskey, chairman of the Canadian Rivers Institute management board.Whoriskey said the salmon numbers are at the lowest levels he has ever seen in the Miramichi.According to figures from the Department of Fisheries and Ocean, the river’s salmon population has declined by 26 per cent over the last 12 years.“And that’s down substantially from years earlier,” said Linnansaari. “We are talking about perhaps 10,000 to 20,000 fish in a river that would have sustained 100,000 or more salmon in the 1990s.”He said while the numbers fluctuate from year to year, it’s alarming when you see years like 2014 when the salmon in the Miramichi only met 22 per cent of what they were hoping to see to maintain conservation of the salmon.Currently, Atlantic salmon fishing in the Miramichi is restricted to fly fishing only and all large salmon caught must be released alive to protect the spawning population. There is also a First Nations food fishery for salmon.Whoriskey said the decline can be blamed on everything from warming water temperatures to predator fish like striped bass. He said it’s hoped the research in New Brunswick can help Atlantic salmon populations in Europe, in Newfoundland, Quebec and elsewhere.He said globally the numbers are even more disturbing — noting the size of salmon runs across North America last year were down 30 to 50 per cent from the year before.“Global warming is the gorilla in the room. Temperatures are changing faster than the species has had to evolve and adapt to in past history. We are riding this one and it is a wild ride indeed,” he said.Just this week, the Atlantic Salmon Federation announced that for the first time since it began monitoring New Brunswick’s Magaguadavic River in 1992, no wild salmon had returned from the sea. Despite a stocking program going back to 2002, the Fisheries Department said the population had been dropping steadily since estimating it at 900 wild salmon in 1983.Linnansaari said while salmon is still a common fish in the Miramichi, the time to act is now.“When you get populations in very significant decline you start talking about losing the genetic variability. Recovery becomes harder the further down you go,” he said.UNB has received $1.3 million in funding for the chair and four research projects.One project will try to boost the number of juveniles by introducing adults that have been reared in captivity then released back into the river system to spawn, and doing this on a scale that’s not been done before.Another project will use sonar to collect population numbers.Whoriskey said they don’t know if their efforts will help, but the future would be grim if they did nothing.“The worst case scenario: we would lose the salmon of the Miramichi River. You would still see some distribution in more northern areas where it is cooler and there is less human impact, but the immediate concern is, what can we do for New Brunswick to try to maintain this iconic species?” he said.“Miramichi is absolutely ground zero for New Brunswick’s population of Atlantic salmon. The industry and the socio-economics of salmon are critically important to the province.”